Revolution #353, September 15, 2014 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

A Message from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA to the People's Climate March:

Capitalism Is Destroying the Planet—We Need Revolution, Nothing Less!

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) has joined with efforts to make the People's Climate March as powerful as possible. Let's go forward and step up the fight to wrench the planet off the path of destruction it is on.

We DO need to "change everything," as the call for the march has declared. But that cannot happen under this system—with its economics, its politics, and its priorities. To "change everything" will take revolution, nothing less!

Capitalism Is Not and Cannot Be a Fit Caretaker of the Planet

We need the most scientific understanding of the physical processes of climate change. But we ALSO need the most scientific understanding of why those sitting in the world's seats of power are not addressing this insane trajectory in the ways required to actually stop and reverse it.

A global system of ruthless competition for profit among capitalists and nation-states cannot and will not meet the needs of humanity. It cannot stop waging wars and occupations, or safeguard the rich diversity of life on this planet.

The problem is bigger than "big oil"... bigger than "the corporations." Capitalism-imperialism is a whole profit-based system that treats people as objects of exploitation and the natural world as something to be grabbed and poured into production for profit. Fossil fuels are foundational to the profitable functioning of this system and its strategic requirements, including the U.S. military.

Revolution Is the Only Viable Solution

This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:

  • the dimensions of the emergency...
  • the source of its causes in the capitalist system, and the impossibility of that system solving this crisis...
  • a way out and way forward for humanity—a revolutionary society in which we could actually live as custodians of nature, rather than as its plunderers.

Read online....

Also available in brochure format (downloadable PDF)

Only the most radical revolution in human history—communist revolution that liberates human beings and ends the ravaging of the planet—can cope with the environmental crisis on the scale and with the urgency required.

Bob Avakian has developed a vision, a framework, and strategy for a revolution that can emancipate all of humanity and safeguard the planet. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), of the RCP, makes as one of the foundational principles governing the new society, "protecting, preserving, and enhancing the ecosystems and biodiversity of the planet for current and future generations."

We need a new society and economy in which human potential can flourish and that provide the means to address the environmental emergency.

It won't be easy. But this is our only chance of achieving a truly sustainable society—and beginning the process of restoring the ecosystems of the planet.

We Are Building a Movement for Revolution

Some say we can't "wait" for revolution... the crisis is so urgent and accelerating. Yes it is. But should we deal with this emergency by hoping for capitalism to "come to its senses"—or by putting an end to a system that has brought us to this precipice?

And we are not waiting! We are standing up and fighting back now. We are building a movement for this revolution.

To those fighting to save the planet, we say: Be true to your convictions—whatever the pressures and difficulties. Don't lower your sights when you come up against the magnitude of what we are facing, or when the people running this system display their enormous power and ruthlessness.

And the revolution will be there with you: in the midst of important battles, standing side by side, bringing our full revolutionary perspective into the swirl.

To those searching for alternatives to this madness, learn about this revolution, and become part of the movement for this revolution. Check out revcom.us to find out about Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism. Study the special issue of Revolution newspaper, "State of EMERGENCY: The Plunder of Our Planet, The Environmental Catastrophe, & the Real Revolutionary Solution."

Let's get an exciting process going: opening up all kinds of discussion, dialogue, and debate... learning from each other... mobilizing millions. And not stop until we have truly changed the course of everything.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/199/socialist_principles-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development

The following are some key principles of socialist sustainable development, which appeared as part of the special issue of Revolution newspaper on the environment (Issue #199, 4/18/10, revcom.us/environment). These principles, though not exhaustive, concentrate an orientation that enables socialist society to begin to tackle the environmental emergency with a global and internationalist perspective. In putting these principles before people today, we hope to open up debate and discussion that can contribute towards raising understanding of what we are confronting—and raise sights about the viability and desirability of communist revolution.

A. The International Dimension and Internationalism

The socialist state must use its strengths and resources to promote revolution. The new socialist state must be a "base area" for the world revolution. The emancipation of humanity demands this. The preservation of the planet demands this: for humanity to deal with the environmental crisis on the requisite scale and with the requisite urgency requires a totally different economic and social system and set of values. That requires socialist revolution and the spread of that revolution.

The new socialist society will put the interests of the preservation of the ecosystems of the entire planet above its own national development. It will encourage and give scientific, technical, and organizational backing for bold international initiatives to prevent widespread ecosystem collapse of coral reefs, rainforests, critical savanna regions, etc.

The new society will share scientific knowledge and technology with the rest of the world. It will contribute research to aid other parts of the world in dealing with various aspects of the environmental emergency—for instance, helping populations in low-lying poor countries deal with rising sea levels and flooding resulting from climate change.

Such initiatives will require unprecedented planet-wide cooperation of scientists and others, engagement of diverse populations and systems of governance, and the involvement of local communities. And the socialist state will seek to learn from the experiences, insights, and struggles of people around the world.

But for such initiatives to be truly effective and take hold over the long term, more of the world will have to break out of the capitalist stranglehold. Capitalist growth and development lead to massive environmental degradation. In the face of economic dislocation and societal breakdown, impoverished and desperate populations in vast parts of the world resort to environmentally destructive activities in order to survive. Civil wars fanned by the imperialists ravage land and water resources.

All of this emphasizes, again, why the new society must spread socialist revolution as far and wide as possible—and as fast as possible.

In its international relations, the new socialist society cannot be based on exploitation and plunder.

A revolution in the former United States will put an end to the pollution-intensive, cheap-labor, global manufacturing grids of production. The structure of production and the resource base of a new socialist economy will no longer rely on labor and materials from other countries—like cheap parts from hellish factories in Mexico and inflows of oil from abroad. The new society will provide technical and financial assistance for helping to clean up environmental damage in other parts of the world caused by the energy and mining operations, agribusiness and forestry, and industrial activities, as well as the export and dumping of toxic waste, of the former U.S. empire.

The new socialist state will immediately dismantle all military bases and occupations. It will vastly downsize the military industry and begin to convert huge components for productive, social use.

B. Consciously Planning and Regulating Growth; Protecting and Preserving a Variety of Ecosystems to Prevent Environmental Collapse and to Ensure the Health of the Planet for Future Generations

In place of the blind and environmentally reckless expansion of capitalism, a socialist sustainable economy will seek planned, regulated growth informed by:

This overall orientation will not only influence the specific mix of what is produced and how it is produced in the new socialist society. This orientation will influence levels of output, including decisions to consciously restrict or cut growth in particular sectors contributing to climate change and straining the planet's ecosystems, and curbing the use of certain resources that are dwindling.

C. Transforming the Structure of Industrial Production, Agriculture, and Transport

The new socialist society will set out to transform the environmentally destructive structure and functioning of today's imperialist economy: 

D. A Different Kind of City and Social Fabric

Given their privileged position in the global division of labor, the imperialist countries have evolved in a certain way. Their economies, and where people work and live, depend on high levels of mobility, the automobile complex, and long-distance, energy-intensive supply chains.

The system of production in a sustainable socialist economy cannot be focused on this kind of supply and delivery system. It must aim towards a system of interchanges within local and regional economies functioning as part of a unified socialist economy.

Cities must become more sustainable—more capable of producing more to meet basic needs and requirements, including efforts to develop local urban food production. The huge and wasteful consumption of energy associated with the parasitic commercialization of the contemporary city—office structures serving global financial invest-ments, advertising, insurance, etc.—will be transformed. The kind of intensive and speculative commercial and residential development encroaching on "green spaces" in the areas outside of cities, in suburbs and "exurbs," will be put a stop to. 

Economic-social planning will strive to connect work that is meaningful and creative with people's sense of community—and forge new relations between work and where people live. Planning will seek to create a new kind of "social space" in the cities, where people can interact, organize politically, create and enjoy culture, and relax. At the same time, planning must seek to break down the distinctions between the cities and the outlying suburban and rural areas—and find new ways to integrate the economic and social activities of these adjoining regions.

E. Struggling Against Consumerism

A sustainable socialist economy in the former United States will strive to produce a rational variety of consumer goods. But this will not be the same "consumer society" (it would take the resources of almost five earths if the rest of the world had the same ecological footprint of the average person in the United States).

The "convenience" of having Indonesian workers cater to the athletic clothing needs, or peasants and plantation workers in Kenya and Jamaica catering to the upscale coffee sensibilities of people in this society—that will be no more. The "convenience" of the "Wal-Mart price," based on super-exploitation and environmental damage abroad, will be no more (and Wal-Mart will be no more).

Consumer goods must be functional and durable (not the "used once and thrown away" of today). Society will pay attention to changing demand, taste, and aesthetic. But there will not be the same obsession with private consumption, with the need to define yourself on the basis of what and how much individuals own and consume. This will be a matter of education and ideological struggle in society.

With the transformation of social life—with the creation of more "social space" allowing for richer and more meaningful connectedness among people—new values can take hold. With people gaining greater awareness of humanity's connectedness to nature, and of the ecological cost that imperialist "consumerism" has exacted, attitudes can change.

F. Valuing the Planet, Becoming Caretakers of the Planet

There is an ecological imperative for us to care about and value the planet. We depend for our survival on the natural world, from green plants that produce oxygen to other living species that provide food and medicine; we cannot live without fresh water, nutrient-rich soils, and clean air. At the same time, we are linked with the natural world: through complex evolutionary chains and through networks of ecosystems that provide flows of energy for life to maintain itself. 

There is a moral imperative to care about and value the planet. We must strive to become the stewards of the planet: protectors and enhancers of the natural world of which we are part, and with which we are always interacting and transforming. Knowing more about our connections with the natural world and our responsibilities to it also enriches us as human beings.

There is an urgent time line to act: if we do not protect and preserve fast-vanishing natural ecosystems around the world, if we do not move to stem climate change, this planet could very well become uninhabitable for billions of people, and possibly all of humanity.

**

This is our orientation. Revolution makes it possible to live lives worthy of human beings and to protect the environment. It is why socialist revolution, and the creation of a new socialist state in one or several countries, would have an incredible effect on the world. The establishment of even one new socialist state—especially in a significant country, in terms of geography and population—would dramatically change political alignments in the world. It would give hope and inspiration to people throughout the world. This heightens our determination to make that revolution and to call on others to join and contribute to this most vital undertaking.

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

"The U.S. Must Lead" in Solving the Climate Crisis? Excuse Us, But What Planet Do You Live On!?

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Some forces in the environmental movement say that to deal with the climate catastrophe, "the U.S. must lead."

Bullshit! This line comes straight from the U.S. ruling class—and can only lead to further ruin of the planet.

Actually, the U.S. has long been "leading" on climate change—as the largest destroyer of the planet and the largest producer of greenhouse gases historically. Its military "leads" as the single largest institutional consumer of oil, in order to carry out its murderous wars for empire.

And huge sections of America's governing officials and representatives don't even accept the science of climate change!

As for "climate president" Barack Obama...

* His administration has opened up vast new swaths of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and federal lands to oil and gas exploration.

* Under Obama, the U.S. is on track to becoming the largest producer of oil in the world.

* The U.S. is now turning its vast new reserves of natural gas into weapons of great-power rivalry, as in its struggle with Russia over Ukraine.

* Obama maneuvered in 2010 to prevent the Copenhagen climate conference from achieving any substantive and binding agreements to tackle climate change.

Obama and the U.S. ruling class know climate change will bring disaster. But they can only deal with this from the economics and politics of capitalism-imperialism. And no matter what happens to the planet, they want to make damn sure this system survives and remains in power. So they try to fool people with puny "climate initiatives" and doubletalk, while they intensify the hunt for the fossil fuels that are destroying our planet.

As the UN climate summit meets in New York City later this month, the U.S. continues "to lead" as world-class oppressor and dominator. Bombing Iraq again... backing Israel in the slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza... carrying out the mass incarceration of Black and Latino people.

Getting behind "the U.S. must lead" means lining up behind its mangling and devastation of the world's people and the planet. To say "the U.S. must lead" is like saying Nazi Germany should have led in protecting the rights of Jewish people.

The world we need is not one where the "U.S. leads" but one where the U.S. empire is no more.

Capitalism is destroying the planet—we need revolution nothing less.

 

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Why You Absolutely Need A Vanguard Party To Make Revolution

by Lenny Wolff | September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Why do you need a party? And in specific, why do you need a vanguard party—that is, a party to which people dedicate their lives, heart and mind, body and soul, to making, leading and carrying forward revolution?

Actually, if all you’re trying to do is win some reforms within the current system, you don’t need such a party. Or if you’re trying to build alternate communities within the current society and hope that somehow that will change the whole thing... well, you don’t need a vanguard for that, either.

But what if you’ve come to understand that the current system cannot be reformed? What if you’ve come to see that people are capable of much, much better—that we could actually overcome the horror and misery and the spirit-crushing daily grind—through a revolution, aiming to uproot all exploitation and oppression and to change all of society? And what if you’ve come to know that without such a revolution, all the struggles... all the efforts to bring forward something new... will come to nothing in the end?

What then?

Revolution Is Very Complex (!)

Immediately, you come up against questions. What would go into such a revolution? Clearly, people would have to change their thinking on a massive scale. There would have to be a strategy developed to do that. People, in their millions, would have to learn how to distinguish between different ways forward that would be offered in a moment of extreme political crisis. There would also have to be a strategy and doctrine to enable people, in their millions, and as their thinking changed, to overcome an extremely powerful and repressive military machine when the time came to do that.

And if a revolution were to be made and power was seized, then what? Who would organize and lead hundreds of millions of people, with all different kinds of viewpoints, to build a whole new society, with a new economic system and new political structure? Who would lead people to overcome the deeply rooted American chauvinism, and build the new society in a way that did NOT continue to plunder oppressed nations—of the “global south”—and instead make sacrifices for the people of the world? And to do all this in a way that did not give up power... while making sure, at the same time, that that power was worth keeping?

Just think for a minute about all that. Revolution IS possible. But it is about the most complex thing you could imagine. Do you really think everything that goes into making revolution—even the essential things we touched on above... do you think that could just be accomplished by a loose grouping of people with no structure, and no system of leadership? Without a common method enabling them to scientifically and accurately analyze reality and figure out how to go forward? With no way to act in disciplined unison at crucial moments when everything is on the line?

The illusion that there could be “leaderless” revolutions... that “the people” on their own, without leadership and with all the contradictions among them, will somehow liberate themselves from those who oppress them... this has led, even with the best of intentions, to crushing defeat and redoubled horror by the powers-that-be—most recently in Egypt. Too much is at stake to not be real about this.

And if you do come to see that such a leading group would be needed, do you think that this could be pulled together at the last minute? Or would it need to be growing all the way through, spreading its roots and bringing in new people, learning better through everything how to work together to figure things out and lead people to act and to fight?

What a Vanguard Does

If you think through these questions, you are led to the irreplaceable need for the vanguard party. The vanguard dedicates itself to grappling with the problems of the revolution in the most thorough and scientific way possible, and then acting in unison to carry through the answers. The party uses the scientific method—grounding itself in this method and further developing and sharpening it at the same time. The party uses this to sum up its experience and that of others as well, in the political as well as other spheres, very broadly. The party works together, using this, to continually develop its understanding, correcting it where it is weak or one-sided or false... coming to more deeply know reality while it is continuing to act to change reality. The party is the vehicle to lead, and learn from, the masses, and to bring forward and train people from among the masses to take active, conscious roles in the revolution. It is structured in such a way to do all those things, to unleash and lead the maximum possible initiative and instill the necessary discipline to get to liberation. And party members voluntarily make a lifetime commitment to be part of this, to act with the discipline required through thick and thin, in order to hasten one of those rare times when revolution can actually be made... and to lead people to seize that opportunity when it emerges.

Without such a party, the masses really do have nothing. Yes, people will rise up in struggle—but, again, history has shown over and over that this struggle, left to itself and on its own, cannot go all the way to revolution... and once more the masses will be set back. The hour is just too late, and we know too much, to allow that to keep happening.

With such a party, the masses of people have a chance... a real chance... to emancipate themselves. And think about what that would mean—the billions breathing free, working together to go forward. Those who join the party do so because they understand this... and they understand that there is nothing greater that their own lives could be about than building and strengthening such a party, in order to carry through that revolution and go further toward emancipation.

There IS Such a Party—And That Carries Responsibilities

Today, within the U.S., we have such a party—the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. This is a truly great thing. And we have a rare and unique leader in Bob Avakian, the Chairman of this Party, who has brought forward a deeper understanding of communism and revolution and provides practical leadership for this Party. This itself is precious—extremely precious. This Party has a very developed line on how to make and carry forward the revolution, based on that new understanding, drawing from and scientifically summing up the experience of hundreds of millions of people over decades of making revolution. This Party has cores who are with this line and help to develop and wield it, and people who will go into the thick of struggle and stand with masses and work to lead them.

But we’re also struggling to overcome problems and weaknesses. We’re racing to meet the huge challenges before us. And, to be frank, we are coming from behind and facing a life-and-death situation. We could make big advances... but we, and the whole cause of communism and revolution, could also be seriously set back. The future is unwritten. The stakes are very, very high.

Now is not the time for revolutionary-minded people to take having such a party for granted. Nor is it the time to take the leader of this Party, Bob Avakian, for granted. A leader like BA—someone who has given himself heart and soul to revolution, who has actually developed the theory of revolutionary communism to a new level, and who gives practical leadership to the party—comes along very rarely. There is a dimension in which the challenge in the article "Watching Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian"—"We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly"—applies here.

So, no. Now is definitely not the time for revolutionary-minded people to stand aside and hope things improve, to wish the Party good luck. Now is the time to think deeply about the question of what it will take for the Party to make the advances it most urgently needs to make, right now, to fulfill its role. And now is definitely the time, based on everything you have come to understand about the need for revolution and what that revolution requires, for everyone to think very deeply about their own role and responsibility within that process... their own role in making sure that the masses have the vanguard they need so that all this, to paraphrase BA in his powerful conclusion to REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, does NOT “come to nothing, and mean nothing.”

Dare.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/an-ensemble-of-revolutionary-work-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

An Ensemble of Revolutionary Work

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On the Strategy for Revolution

Read the statement.

The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has a Strategy for Revolution, and a slogan, Fight the Power, and Transform the People, FOR Revolution, which captures a whole process. Right now, we have what we call an ensemble of revolutionary work, which deals with some key focuses, even as we are tense to other things developing in unexpected ways.

What is an ensemble of revolutionary work? In music, an ensemble is a group that plays together. A jazz ensemble might have drums, piano, bass, and a horn in front. A great ensemble usually has a great front man or woman—who carries the lead tune much of the time, sets the tone and direction of the piece, and brings out the best in everyone. Other players weave in and out. If everyone's playing the same thing, the song won't take flight. But if everyone is just playing their own part, not listening to the whole song, and not following the lead, the piece as a whole goes nowhere.

In the RCP's ensemble of revolutionary work, BA Everywhere—the campaign to raise big money to spread the word on the vision and leadership of Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA—is front and center. Why? Because this is the vision and leadership for a whole new world. Without it, everything—including people's thinking—stays locked within the terms of the way things are. The ensemble includes uniting with everyone who is ready to, or can be won to take a determined stand against mass incarceration of Black and Latino people and against the enslavement and degradation of women. Along with connecting people with Bob Avakian, the second key player in the RCP's ensemble of revolutionary work is revcom.us/Revolution—reaching hundreds of thousands, then millions. At the core of this movement for revolution: the Revolutionary Communist Party. If all the elements of this ensemble are mixing and meshing—impacting society, setting different terms for people, and transforming how people think and feel—then under conditions we are waiting for, but actively getting ready for, there could be a serious chance of winning a REAL revolution that would transform EVERYTHING. And here's what else you need to know: This ensemble has a place for YOU!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/revolution-and-religion/index.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Revolution & Religion March 28 Premiere

Trailer for

REVOLUTION & RELIGION

Clip From the Film:
"Why are we still fighting
for justice in 2015?"


Clip From the Film:
"What if?...."

Excerpts from an interview with Ardea Skybreak: On Attending the Dialogue Between Bob Avakian and Cornel West

"It was like there was magic in the air. It was one of the most hopeful things that I've seen in a very long time. I think it was historic in many different dimensions: in terms of the topic that was approached; the people who were involved in it, the two speakers; the moment in time. I felt like I was able to see a great demonstration of morality and conscience applied to dealing with the problems of humanity—that both speakers stood out this way."

Read more

Andy Zee & Annie Day on The Michael Slate Show

LISTEN HERE

On March 27, 2015, The Michael Slate Show will air this interview with Andy Zee, of Revolution Books and the co-director of the upcoming film, Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Film of the Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian and Annie Day, of The Bob Avakian Institute who also co-produced the film.  They discuss the historic significance of this film and give a flavor of why people should come out across the country to theatrical premieres this Saturday, March 28 or watch it online at revcom.us.

“How Soon Could This Revolution Happen?”
Watching Clips from the New Film of the Dialogue and Reading the Interview with Ardea Skybreak

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A QUESTION:
"Why, if I was at the Dialogue, or saw the Simulcast, should I go to the Premiere?"

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DONATE

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Campus Reports

» Students, Basic People, and the Revolution Club Mix It Up About "Why Are We Still Fighting for Justice in 2015"—Watching and Wrangling Over Excerpts of Revolution and Religion; A Dialogue Between Cornel West and Bob Avakian Read more

» University Screening in the Midwest Read more

» Opening Up Big Questions: Watching the Film at UC Berkeley of the Cornel West-Bob Avakian Dialogue Read more


Conclusion of the Opening Presentation
by Bob Avakian

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Serious About Making an Actual Revolution
by Bob Avakian

Read more

 


 

Questions from People at the Dialogue

The Dialogue audience was invited to write questions for the speakers. More than 200 questions were submitted. Here are two questions that Bob Avakian and Cornel West addressed—see more at "Questions from People."

"For many Black and Brown people who believe in Jesus Christ and rely on him for salvation, how do they square their religious faith, or can they square their religious faith, with a revolutionary mindset that does not look to heaven to fix problems on Earth, because many will not give up their God?"

"How in this world are we, the oppressed, to accomplish true revolution peacefully, when in reality, the powers-that-be have all the artillery to kill, while all we have are our voices and our fists? How do we compete? There's no 'win' in this picture for the oppressed, as I can see. Please shed some light on this."

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More Key Pieces on the Dialogue:

Getting Ready for the Online Launch and Premiere Screenings of the new film of "Revolution and Religion..."

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Making the Absolute Most Out of an Incredible Dialogue

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Transgression and Convergence, Infectious Chemistry and Serious Urgency:

Reflections on the Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian

Read more

 


What People Are Saying:

Below and to the right are comments about the Dialogue sent to revcom.us. See more comments at "What People Said at the Dialogue." Send comments and thoughts to revolution.reports@yahoo.com. While we cannot post all comments, all of them are appreciated and forwarded to the Dialogue organizers.

 

Cornel West and Bob Avakian came together and can work together and fight against injustice, mass genocide and racial profiling against young Black men.  They have their differences, but they can work together.  I joined the Black Panther Party in 1968.  We used to patrol the police who were harassing people.  I was with Bobby Hutton when he was murdered by the police. You still have exploitation and being discriminated against today.  It's still going on.  I saw the trailer for the film and I want to see the rest of the film. 

Terry Cotton, Black Panther Alumni

“We Need a Way Out!”

A small group of women who were formerly homeless and had lived on “Skid Row” in LA came together to watch the Trailer and the new clip,  “Why Are We Still Fighting For Justice in 2015?.” This area is where the LAPD recently murdered Africa, an unarmed Black man, captured on video and seen on YouTube by 7 million people in the day after the brutal, cowardly murder. Two of them had never seen the Dialogue, nor heard either of the speakers before. They huddled around a smart phone to watch the Trailer and the clip—and were captivated by what they heard. Afterward they said:

They are both telling the truth. People from Skid Row need to hear this. I want to see the whole thing... In Skid Row you feel so trapped. People think of people there as drug addicts, but most people there are just down on their luck. There’s professionals there, intellectuals, women escaping abuse, people come from all over the country because they think California is better, but end up on Skid Row. They are coming for a better life, but get treated like animals. How can people get out of this madness? You are in a hole and you keep trying to get out, but the system keeps dragging you down. We need a way out!” The women made plans to saturate Skid Row and the more gentrified nearby downtown area with postcards and posters for the Dialogue Film Premiere.

“People Were Feeling It.”

...People the system says are the worst of the worst can change and be part of this. If you don’t get that part you are missing a big part of what BA’s speech is about.

When BA talked about how the world could be different in the “What If...” part of the speech, almost everybody in that section was in tears, including me. People were feeling it.

(Former Prisoner Who Attended
the Dialogue)
Read entire comments

This was two people bringing their ‘A game’...

Challenge yourself, think about revolution, hear what two revolutionary thinkers are thinking in late 2014, what their thoughts are about revolution and building a post-capitalist society, and then challenge yourself to think you can get there any other way...

...Bob Avakian [is] probably familiar in talking about revolution and for taking the side of it, and you throw in religion, and obviously someone who’s a very declared atheist throughout his career, and then when religion is tossed on the table, along with revolution, it really becomes revolution and the condition of man. So there’s a deep philosophical component to this. And then the inverse of that is true. Cornel West having to respond in the same manner—deeply philosophically, but also the social critique and the vision of the future from Cornel West.

(Alan Minsky, Interim Program Director, KPFK Radio in Los Angeles)
(see full interview)

What I learned from the Dialogue is that we can change this whole damn system that’s guilty as hell. We certainly and most seriously need a revolution so our Black and Latino kids can rise up and be a part of our country instead of ending up dead or locked up because they are separating our families.

(Woman from Ferguson, Missouri who attended the Dialogue)

Right out of the gate, boom, BA went after religion! I thought, Oh no, he’s going to go there... I really respect him because he is not going to compromise, and I can see why Cornel really respects him, too. I can’t say I agree with all of what he says, but this guy is really honest.

(Latino professor)

“Prophetic elders with breadth, stature and conviction.”

It was great and very powerful. I want to highlight both of them, Cornel West and Bob Avakian. They were able to agree and disagree. They are both prophetic elders and I got a sense of their breadth and stature and conviction and how that all meshes with what’s happening, particularly to what’s happening in light of the nationwide protest that jumped off in the wake of Ferguson.

(Activist/Writer/Poet, after viewing the Trailer for the film)

One guy we met said that just talking about all the murders by police gets him angry, but that he would check out the revolution and donated $14. Then we showed him the trailer. Half-way through watching the trailer, he pulled out $40 and bought 2 tickets. He said that with all the divisions among the people, he was struck by the unity and level of discussion between CW and BA.

( BA Everywhere organizer on showing the Trailer on the street)

They [BA and Cornel West, at the Dialogue] said it’s always the Black people that get killed for no reason. What surprised me? Knowing that it’s always us—like my brother who was killed by police. You shoulda came because it gives you all the information about WHY most of our black people are getting killed for no reason.

(Twelve-year-old Black youth from Chicago who attended the Dialogue)

It was so beautiful how BA and Cornel West talked about the music in the 1960s. How BA got into the influence of the movements among the people that helped create different music, and how what is happening now in society can influence the culture too, like the people beginning to stand up in Ferguson inspired the J. Cole song. People think communism would be boring or stale—but why would it be? What people get enjoyment out of now mostly just sucks! In a new society you wouldn’t have your escapism, your ‘real housewives,’ this dumb shit and gossip that we get sucked into. But BA is funny! That Ussain Bolt stuff that BA said during the Dialogue, we were cracking up! You need to laugh, you need to have heart and soul.

(Artist who attended the Dialogue)

The Bus Ride Home—Filled with the Spirit of the Dialogue: “I wish life could be like this experience on this bus all the time...”

(Read full article)

“Science and a Game Plan for Revolution.” In the interview on revcom.us with Ardea Skybreak, who is a scientist, she is talking about BA, the revolutionary communist leader, as a scientist at the top of his field. This really means retraining how we think. We’re taught that science is just ‘chemistry’ and so on. I never would have considered becoming a ‘scientist.’ I missed that boat! But pushing myself to be a scientist now, has to do with how you look at the world and analyze it. This is a great thing about working with the Party [the Revolutionary Communist Party, which BA leads]. There’s a game plan for revolution, you work together and sum up what you accomplished and what people said. You’re learning from the standpoint of that game plan.

(Artist who attended the Dialogue)

“The role of today’s Democratic Party seems to be a stumbling point for some...”

I am overwhelmed by the scope of the problem, I am just coming to understand that my vote is not going to bring the change we need and that the current cast of characters is actually part of the problem, not the solution. My impressions reflect my point in a personal journey; I know that others in Riverside Church had their own experiences. I know that as time passes I will think of other points and consider other ideas. But the importance of this moment will always stay with me. Rather than being a single, isolated voter alone in a little booth I was one of hundreds, gathered from across the country, together to share questions, concerns, and ideas. Being together and sharing the possibilities is so much better than being alone and in the dark. That is probably the most important thing I took away from this experience.

(Woman who flew in to New York for the Dialogue, from a longer piece)

 

First Impressions of the PREMIERE of
the New Film of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion;
A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN

A correspondence from Andy Zee, co-director of the film

April 6, 2015

“This film brought an awareness that we do need an actual change....” A young Latino brother echoed what was felt by audiences across the country who came to the March 28 premieres of the new film of the historic Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian that took place last November at Riverside Church in New York City. Wherever you were coming from, whatever experience you have had with what this system does to people every day, whether this was your first encounter with the revolution or you’ve been fighting to get rid of this system your whole life, you came away from seeing REVOLUTION AND RELIGION feeling this brother’s sentiment.

In this correspondence, I am going to share some of my own and others’ first impressions. I urge everyone to watch, dig into, promote, and raise funds so that many more can experience and be moved by what Bob Avakian and Cornel West did on November 15, 2014.

Seeing the film on the big screen was special. Look, there was nothing like the excitement of being at Riverside with 1,900 people “live,” experiencing Bob Avakian and Cornel West together on this topic—I won’t ever forget it—being a part of something really historic.

Yet, watching this on film is just a different experience: profound and provocative. I found myself drawn deeply into their insights, their arguments, how they related to each other and engaged and struggled with the audience, the different methods by which they analyzed and approached big questions. I found myself learning more and anew. The film brings you up close inside Cornel West’s and Bob Avakian’s presentations and exchange: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice—pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity.

I attended the New York City premiere at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. It was fitting that this film was welcomed and debuted at this beautiful institution that resonates with the history of Black people. Watching the film on the big screen at the Schomburg—a screen that must be 40 feet across and 20 feet high with big, rich sound—was new for me after months of being a part of editing the film on small monitors!

BA and Cornel West really are two courageous moral voices of this moment. They hold and fill the big screen. The topic, Revolution and Religion, is huge: The fight for the emancipation of humanity and, in that context, looking at religion, which holds sway over much of humanity, especially the oppressed of the world, is an urgent question that demands and holds attention. But the dynamism and passion of both BA and CW, their humor and substance, their concern and struggle for the future of humanity, amplify and resonate in a special way through the film. Whether watching in a dark theater or up close on computer, TV, or smartphone, the film brings you into a personal experience with “Cornel and Bob,” so much so that afterward people who had never met either of them came up to me speaking of them by their first names as if they were life-long friends!

Read more

SPREAD THE WORD ON SOCIAL MEDIA:

1. SPREAD the TRAILER and new preview excerpt of the film everywhere online.

2. TWEET and RETWEET. Spread the hashtag: #M28CornelAndBAfilm. Retweet from @RevBooksNYC (Revolution Books NYC, co producer of the Dialogue film).

3. JOIN the Facebook event page and INVITE all your friends. There is one Facebook event page for the nationwide film launch at Dialogue Facebook event.

4. In everything you do online, send people to www.revcom.us.

Bob Avakian, "BA," has developed a new synthesis of communism that opens up the possibility of a radically new world through revolution. BA Everywhere is a national fundraising campaign to make BA's work and leadership known in every corner of society.

Go to: BA Everywhere

Watching clips from the film


 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/349/watching-Fruitvale-Station-with-Bob-Avakian-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian

August 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

For those who don’t know, Fruitvale Station is a very powerful, moving, and excruciating film that depicts the last day in the life of Oscar Grant.  Oscar was a 22-year-old, unarmed Black man murdered by Bay Area Rapid Transit police on New Year’s Day, 2009.  He was returning home from celebrating on New Year’s Eve, when police stopped Oscar and the friends he was with, harassed and brutalized them, straddled Oscar as he lay face down on a subway platform, and fatally shot him in the back. 

Not too long ago, I watched Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian (BA), chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.  Towards the very end of the film, agonizing, heartbreaking and infuriating scenes are shown: The cop shooting Oscar in the back; Oscar’s girlfriend frantically rushing to the scene, trying to find out what happened; Oscar’s loved ones gathering together and waiting desperately to find out if he would make it, only to find out he was gone forever.

As these scenes unfolded, I looked over at BA.  He was sobbing.  Not just misty-eyed. Sobbing.  And he continued to cry tears of heartbreak and rage for several minutes, as the closing credits rolled.

This made a very big impression on me.  BA did not know Oscar Grant personally. But he felt the sting of his murder in an extremely raw and visceral way. And I think his reaction speaks volumes about who Bob Avakian is, what he represents, and what he is all about. 

BA has literally been fighting against this system for 50 years.  He has been a revolutionary communist for about 45 years.  He has been shouldering the responsibility of leading the Revolutionary Communist Party for almost 40 years. And over the course of the last several decades, he has forged the theory and deepened the science for the revolution humanity needs to get free, while also providing practical leadership to the party and movement working for that revolution.  And all of this has involved not only tremendous work, but also tremendous risk and sacrifice on BA’s part as anyone with a sense of U.S. history, and/or BA’s personal history—specifically, what this reveals about the way the U.S. government viciously goes after revolutionary leaders—should well understand. And over all these decades, and through everything described above, BA has never lost an ounce of his love and feeling for the masses of people, his sense of outrage and hatred for all the ways in which the masses suffer needlessly, and his fire for revolution to emancipate the masses all over the world.  Not one bone in his body has become numb.  

There is a great deal more that could be said about the experience of watching Fruitvale Station with BA. But I want to highlight two points.

First, I think that in BA’s reaction to this movie, there is a lot for revolutionary communists, and anyone with concern for humanity and hatred for oppression and injustice, to reflect on and learn from.  Even with all the work BA has done and continues to do in the realm of theory, in order to forge a deeper understanding of why police murders like the execution of Oscar Grant and countless other outrages keep happening, the larger picture they are connected to, and how these outrages can be ended through revolution; even though BA has been at this for decades; and even with all of the horrors that pile up every single second that this system remains in place, there is absolutely no sense on BA’s part of world-weary detachment or defeatism when something like the murder of Oscar Grant goes down.  His reaction is decidedly not:  “Oh, well of course, this happens all the time, what do you expect?”   Rather, he cries tears of rage and anguish, both because he feels acutely the pain of Oscar’s life being stolen and because he knows that outrages like this are completely unnecessary and that humanity does not have to live this way.

This brings me to the second point I want to make here—and it is one I want to give even greater emphasis to, even while the first point above is very important and very related. The point I want to close this letter with is: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

I’ll say it again: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

And when I say “we had better,” that “we” is addressed to many different people and audiences.  Yes, I am most definitely speaking to revolutionaries and communists and to all those who are already deeply familiar with and supportive of BA.  But in saying “we,” I am also speaking to those who are just now—or just recently—learning about and getting introduced to this revolutionary leader—including, to quote BA, “Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human” who “can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.”   

To all the masses of people, here and around the world, who suffer brutal oppression minute after minute, day after day... and to all those who may not directly suffer this oppression but ache for a world where this oppression is no more, I want to say this:  If you do not know about Bob Avakian, or just recently learned about him, that is not your fault.  But you, and millions of other people, need to understand how incredibly rare and precious it is for the people of the planet that we have this revolutionary leader and act in accordance with that reality.

BA is not only the leader of the revolution, he is also a best friend to the masses of people.  He is a leader who has done decades of work in the realm of theory to bring forward the scientific method, strategy and vision needed to make revolution and bring into being a radically new world where all the horrors that humanity suffers unnecessarily would be no more. He is continuing to develop the advanced scientific method that he has forged, and apply that method to all of the big questions and obstacles confronting the revolution. He is able to break all of this down for people, without even slightly watering it down, in a way that everyone can understand, take up, and be inspired by. He has taken on the daily responsibility of leading a party and a movement to make revolution right here in the most powerful imperialist country in the world. He has dedicated his life to the emancipation of humanity. And, through all of this, he maintains a deep, visceral connection to and feeling for the masses of people who most desperately need this revolution.

A leader like this comes along very, very rarely.  And when this does happen, the absolute worst thing we could do is fail to recognize this, fail to act in accordance with this, fail to take this seriously, or take this for granted.  Instead, all of us—whether we have known about BA for decades, are just learning about him and what he represents, or anywhere in between, and whether you agree with BA about everything or not—must fully recognize and embrace what BA means for the people of the world.  We must study, and learn all we can from his incredible body of work on the biggest questions of revolution and human emancipation, as well as the lessons of who he is and what he stands for as a revolutionary leader.  We must realize that it is not just us who need to know about BA, his work and vision, and the leadership he is providing to this party and movement for revolution:  millions of people must know about all of this, and this must impact all of society.    

Furthermore, and very crucially, we must fully confront the reality of what it would mean for the people of the world to lose this leader, and take extremely seriously that there are people and forces—those officially part of the powers-that-be, as well as those willing to do the work of the powers-that-be—who hate what BA represents and would like nothing more than to tear him down, silence him, and take him from the masses of people.  And we must be absolutely determined not to let that happen.

This means taking very seriously the need to do everything we can to protect and defend BA. This means denouncing and not giving a millimeter of space to those who slander and personally attack BA, because these attacks and slanders are part of creating the poisonous atmosphere and conditions that would make it easier for the powers-that-be, or those doing their bidding, to take BA from the people of the world.  Protecting and defending BA, and building a wall around him, also means boldly and sharply challenging those who may not be part of the camp of the enemy, but who are wallowing in, or at least being influenced by, arrogance, cynicism and snark, and who seek to dismiss without seriously engaging what BA has brought forward; this arrogance, snark, cynicism, and dismissal, regardless of the intent of those who fall into it, stands in the way of BA and all that he has brought forward having the reach and societal influence that this urgently needs to have.  And this, too, creates easier conditions for those who would try to silence and isolate BA and take him from the masses.

Few things in life are more tragic than a critical lesson learned too late. And it would truly be a tragedy if BA were taken from the people, and then people said: “Wow, I wish I had realized sooner what we had here.”

But the good news is: It is not too late.  We, and the masses of the planet, have BA right now.  We had better realize, and let everyone know, what that means.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/a-pledge-of-resistance-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

A Pledge of Resistance

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolution received the following from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

 

The October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation has issued a Pledge of Resistance. Spread the pledge broadly thruout society, getting it to everyone you can.

On October 1st, everyone who hates the horrors of mass incarceration and all its consequences should gather at their schools, in their neighborhoods, at their work places, or at symbols of the abuses of the criminal justice system and take this pledge. Then we all need to act on it.

A Pledge of Resistance

What kind of society do you want to live in?

Today we pledge:

Black lives matter.
Latino lives matter.
All lives matter.

* Mass incarceration: WE SAY NO MORE!

* Police murder: WE SAY NO MORE!

* Torture in the prisons: WE SAY NO MORE!

* Criminalization of generations: WE SAY NO MORE!

* Attacks on immigrants: WE SAY NO MORE!

We will NOT be silent.

We WILL resist!

Until these shameful horrors really are... NO MORE!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/furthering-the-movement-to-stop-mass-incarceration-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Panel Discussion on Mass Incarceration at the National Lawyers Guild Law for the People Convention

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


 

A panel titled, “Furthering the Movement to Stop Mass Incarceration” was held on September 6, 2014 at the National Lawyers Guild Convention in Chicago.

Presenters were: Gregory Koger—revolutionary communist activist with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN), just back from the struggle in Ferguson; paralegal and former jailhouse lawyer, spent 11 years in prison, including more than six years in solitary confinement, where he transformed from a gang member to a revolutionary. Mark Lewis Taylor—Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary; author of several books, founder of “Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal,” a group of teachers from all levels of education, organizing since 1995 for a new trial on behalf of Abu-Jamal, revolutionary journalist, political prisoner who has been behind bars for over 30 years. Brian Orozco—lawyer who has worked with prisoners and their families in California and Illinois. Hannibal Salim Ali from the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, attended the April 2014 SMIN strategy meeting in New York City with Dr. Cornel West and Carl Dix; spent many years in prison and is the uncle of Anjustine Hunter, who was murdered by police in Tennessee.

Click here to watch the YouTube video of this panel.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/new-york-daily-vigil-at-1-police-plaza-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

New York: Daily Vigil at 1 Police Plaza, NYPD Headquarters—You Are Needed!

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following was sent out by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network:

New York: Daily Vigil at 1 Police Plaza, NYPD Headquarters—You Are Needed!

First Day Is Friday, September 12, 5 pm-7 pm. Thereafter: Monday-Friday, 3 pm-7 pm. Bratton and "Broken Windows" Must Go Now! Justice for Eric Garner! Indict the Killer Cops!

Stop the Repression of the Witnesses!

All-Out for the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation!

"Broken Windows" means broken lives. "Broken Windows" means Black and Brown people harassed and arrested for putting their feet on subway seats, smoking pot in public, selling loose cigarettes, and more. [New York] Police Commissioner William Bratton claims he has instituted the "Broken Windows" theory of policing to target people that commit petty crimes because petty crimes are the first step to people committing major crimes down the road. No, that is a lie. The authorities had to jump back in the face of widespread and growing opposition to "stop-and- frisk." This is their new policy of abuse to replace it. In reality, "Broken Windows" policing is the first step to the NYPD harassing, brutalizing, and murdering people. Eric Garner was choked to death for supposedly selling loose cigarettes. The murdering cop Daniel Panteleo is still walking free. Ramsey Orta, the young man who filmed the police murder of Eric Garner, has been arrested and is facing prison.

Join a daily vigil starting on Friday, September 12, 5 pm-7 pm. Then every week day beginning:

Monday, September 15, at 1 Police Plaza from 3 pm-7 pm to demand:

Bratton and "Broken Windows" Must Go Now! Justice for Eric Garner! Indict the Killer Cops! Stop the Repression of the Witnesses! All Out for the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation!

If you refuse to accept the constant harassment, brutality, and murder of Black and Brown people at the hands of the NYPD then come to the vigil. Let your voice and demands be heard. This must stop! Gather your friends, co-workers, members of your religious congregation, fellow union members, neighbors, professional colleagues, and others. Choose a day to represent, publicize that you will be there, and let us know. Think of the significance of families with pictures of their loved ones whose lives have been stolen by the NYPD gathering in front of 1 Police Plaza. Let the teachers be there one day, the students the next, the imams, rabbis, and ministers the next, each day gathering momentum. You are needed. Imagine the societal effect of day after day, different kinds of people gathering at 1 Police Plaza to demand "Bratton and 'Broken Windows' Must Go Now!" Imagine the impact of the news reports every day talking about how long people have been outside 1 Police Plaza, demanding "Justice for Eric Garner! Indict the Killer Cops!" Make all of this part of the buildup to and organizing for the October 2014 Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Make this part of impacting millions across the country, changing the way millions looks at mass incarceration, police brutality, and murder, and all these outrages, and bring many of them into a movement to stop all of this. And make this part of bringing thousands in New York out to Union Square, 1 pm, for the 19th Annual October 22 National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Start gathering everyone you know to be at 1 Police Plaza. Make your plans. Bring your signs, banners, and whistles!

New York—Stop Mass Incarceration Network

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/351/chicago-standing-up-at-a-basketball-court-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Chicago:

Standing Up to Stop Police Abuse at the Basketball Court

September 4, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Friday evening a Peace Festival was held at a park in the Chicago Westside neighborhood where Roshad McIntosh had been killed by police on August 24 and where a series of protests for Justice for Roshad had been held throughout the week. (See "Chicago West Side: Hundreds March for Justice for Roshad McIntosh and Against ALL Police Abuses") The festival was both a call for Justice and an encouragement to the youth in the area to come together to end the violence among the people.

There was a brief press conference where Roshad’s mother spoke, demanding the cop who killed her son be named and arrested and charged. After the press left the area people were kicking back, eating hotdogs and playing baseball and basketball. The baseball field had been padlocked all summer but now, following the angry protests for Justice in the community—and with the example of Ferguson, Missouri in the air, the park department decided that the field could be opened for the youth. 

At the festival lawyers from First Defense, a legal aid group that provides free interim lawyers for anybody right after an arrest, had a table set up letting people know about their services. Others who had been part of the Occupy movement and had been in the protest earlier in the week were there as well. Revolution newspaper, palm cards for the October Month of Resistance, the Chicago Revolution Club Proclamation and whistles were passed out to people at the festival.

One revolutionary was hanging out with people in the park just chatting when someone noticed that a couple police cars had pulled into the park and cops were messing with youth on the basketball court. 

The revolutionary began to head over to where the police were and someone said, “Look, he’s on business—I’m going too.” A crowd began to head over with the revolutionary while another crowd of people was coming from the other side of the park with some blowing whistles that had been passed out earlier.

In a very short time the police, their cars, and a young man they pulled off the basketball court and put in handcuffs were engulfed in a sea of people—a few blowing whistles while others were right up in the faces of the police demanding to know why they were messing with this young man—and demanding that they let him go. Lawyers from First Defense were in the crowd videoing and shouting out people’s rights.

The cops’ story, shouted out over the outrage of the crowd, was that they were “responding to a call that someone in a red and white shirt (which described a number of people at the event) had a gun.” The people, many of whom had been at protests against police brutality throughout the week, weren’t having it.

The pigs kept coming—more cars with blue lights flashing. And the people kept coming, too. One of the cops, with a young woman up in his face, unsnapped his holster. Someone yelled, “What you think you gonna do with that?  Shoot her?” A few people put their hands in the air chanting, “Hands up—don’t shoot.”

The people did not back down. They didn’t just go about their business. They stood together. In the face of the determined crowd (and, no doubt, with Ferguson on their minds) the police uncuffed the young man and pulled back. And people also pulled back with the young man safely in their midst.

As the police backed their cars out of the park and people talked about how this is what they needed to do every time cops came after the youth, including the need for more whistles, someone called for the basketball and the game started back up.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/if-we-dont-resist-our-community-is-doomed-to-die-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Support for the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

"If we don't resist, our community is doomed to die"

Updated September 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following statements were written in support of the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. Some were written right after the police murder of Michael Brown, when many people were going to Ferguson, Missouri, to join the protests there. Go to stopmassincarceration.net to read more statements.

Dr. Boyce Watkins, scholar, media commentator, and activist:

The Michael Brown/Ferguson situation is much bigger than Michael Brown and Ferguson. We must not forget that. One person, one incident and one city doesn't do justice to the magnitude of the police brutality/mass incarceration problem. Please join Cornel West, Carl Dix, Michelle Alexander and myself in the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. (StopMassIncarceration.net.)

The Stop Mass Incarceration initiative is long overdue in a society that is facing one of the gravest holocausts of all-time. As long as we are forced to live in a police state that is determined to incarcerate and exterminate our young people, our families will continue to be destroyed and the fabric of our communities will remain in peril. Most Americans now understand that a nation that spends more to incarcerate than to educate is one that is hell-bent on using capitalist greed as an excuse to re-implement slavery. This calls for all citizens to take a stand to put an end to the torture, marginalization, terrorism and trauma being inflicted upon the American people by a system that decided long ago that human life is worth less than money. That is why I support the Month of Resistance against Mass Incarceration. If we don't resist, our community is doomed to die.

Dyna Vargas, Burque Media, Albuquerque, New Mexico:

Ferguson, Missouri! That should be happening in every city. If it's not happening, it's a dangerous thing for us all. Militarized police occupying our neighborhoods and communities. When Albuquerque police executed James Boyd—a 38-year-old homeless man—I thought this was the beginning of the revolution or the end of the world. To allow this is to allow police to terrorize us all.

RESISTANCE! It's the greatest thing you can do and doing anything else is a crime against humanity. I want to go to Ferguson, Missouri. Albuquerque needs to be present—we are plagued by cops brutalizing, terrorizing and murdering people. 28 people in the last four years by APD [Albuquerque Police Department]. Sheriffs and U.S. Marshals are killing people in this area too. In two minutes on TV, they criminalize the movement for justice. But I see beyond these rationalizations for murder—including the murder of Mike Brown by Ferguson police. Protesters are fighting against tear gas, smoke canisters, rubber bullets—and this is only one aspect of something larger.

The Department of Justice is here in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They're here! What's happened? The violence has escalated. Nothing has changed except people get inactive. "The DOJ is taking care of it." Bullshit! We have to save ourselves and no one can save us but ourselves.

I want to go to Ferguson, Missouri. We need funding and we need sponsorship. We have a month of activities planned for the October Month of Resistance in Albuquerque. Downtown APD headquarters on October 22 and other actions. We need to get to Ferguson now, because we want to be united with the people in Ferguson. Make a financial contribution to help us get there. Thank you.

Juanita Young, mother of Malcolm Ferguson, killed by New York Police Department in 2000. Just returned from Ferguson, Tuesday, August 19:

It was definitely an experience, being in Ferguson, Missouri this past week. People have finally taken a stand! Most of the time the police murder someone, there is protest, but not with enough power, and then the police murder the next person.... This time Ferguson, Missouri said enough is enough. I stand with them 100%. Maybe my son would still be alive if this was done earlier.

The system usually pays no mind and then they murder the next person. Not now. People are saying NO MORE! The system says people are rioting and it has to stop. Who are they talking to? The cops in Ferguson—they are ridiculous! Everywhere we protested in Ferguson this last week, every march we joined, cops agitating against the people and provoking the people and physically bumping us and threatening to arrest us. But people have a right to do what they are doing. Michael Brown—the wrong that they have done—they are covering it up. I'm proud of St. Louis. Then the governor calls out the National Guard! What's he doing? What does this tell you?

When Carl Dix is talking and saying an innocent 18-year-old young man has been shot down by cops—Carl is arrested. Why isn't the cop who shot Michael Brown arrested? The cop needs to be indicted, arrested, and even that won't be the end of it because they could rig the jury, so this fight needs to continue. Let's have the Stolen Lives families from around the country in St. Louis and Ferguson ASAP—people should give money and Frequent Flyer miles to sponsor that.

Mark Lewis Taylor, Professor of Theology and Culture, Religion and Society, Princeton Theological Seminary (for identification only):

It is time for Christians and all peoples of faith and conscience to give our support and participation to the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. The police terror and its militarization, as brutally showcased in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the killing of Michael Brown, is no new thing. It is a form of state terror long institutionalized in U.S. prisons, anchored in U.S. history of slavery and lynching, and in capitalist exploitation. This state terror is recycled in the exploitation, stigmatization and expulsion of immigrant groups, and in ever new U.S.wars, covert and overt, against what W. E.B. Du Bois termed the "darker nations."

The time is long past due, to say No! Enough!—to resist and transform policing in this country, to halt the injustices of U.S. military war-making (such as those supporting Israel in its "politicide" in Gaza today), and to end U.S. mass incarceration.

This will require whole new approaches to building democracy and rule in this country. Now is the time to commit to the Month of Resistance, in spite of and because of current state officials' willingness to criminalize nearly anyone in this generation who dissents to the state terror visited upon the poor, especially upon African- and Latino/a- Americans, but increasingly Asian- and Arab-Americans, too—indeed, upon white dissenters as well. As Chris Hedges recently wrote when noting today's collaboration of corporate and media elites with the surveillance industry and paramilitary forces, "Rise up, or die."

Churches and Christians should be at the forefront of this movement. Alas, they all too often are stragglers to the rear – complicit at worst, silent at best. I, as one follower along the way of the crucified figure, Jesus of Nazareth, note again the solid historical point that if you were among the crucified—as Jesus was—you were a resister to imperial power, or seen as counter to it. Rome reserved crucifixion as the mode of death for the rebel, for transgressors of empire's force.

Real followers of Jesus will step forward in this moment, and take up the long struggle, moving along the way of Jesus against imperial forces. Today, this means resistance to U.S. racialized state terror, both on our nation's streets and in U.S. wars abroad. State terror in all its forms – whether as mass incarceration, war or militarized policing—is a flagrant abuse of justice, love and dignity. Let October of 2014 show a new rising of the churches, of all followers of Jesus, alongside and in collaboration with all peoples of conscience from all our traditions – so to make a new way in this country. One means of beginning this effort is to support – wherever you are and however you can—the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation.

Pamela Fields, son Donte Jordan killed by Long Beach, California, police in November 10, 2013; nephew Dante Parker killed by Victorville, California, police August 12, 2014:

Ferguson, Missouri—that needed to happen! For all the communities where police murder is going on. It's Mike Brown, and it's also Donte Jordan, Tyler Woods and so many others. When my son was killed people in Long Beach were sleeping. Ferguson, Missouri, has shown real gall—defiance. This gets the attention of the President, Attorney General, everyone. We've lost any trust in law enforcement. They cover things up. Everybody I know don't trust the police. My son, Donte Jordan, was heading home – 39-year old-man—and he was shot 12 times by Long Beach police. We need to raise awareness of his assassination. We need to end the cover up.

Last week, August 12, Dante Parker, my nephew, he was riding a bicycle. He has a heart ailment. He got sick. He had to stop. He sat down. He was sweating profusely. Someone called the cops. The police arrived. He was tased! And then they tased him 11 more times—12 times total! They put him the cop car and the cops went and got their lies together. He died!

Ferguson, Missouri —I'm part of Stolen Lives families, I call us Angel Moms. We need to go to Ferguson, Missouri. I'm ready to go to Ferguson. I'm taking the first seat in the first row. I am ready to go and I want to bring my nephew's mom and nephew's wife with me.

Dionne Smith Downs, son, James Earl Rivera, killed by Stockton, California, police and Stockton sheriffs, 2010:

We went to Ferguson and I was there for five days, Monday through Friday last week. I need to go back tomorrow for this weekend in Ferguson, Missouri. People in Ferguson gave me the courage to fight even more! Police and media show and talk about other things, but they don't talk about how when we marched and protested how positive it was— that the people of Ferguson, the community, fed us, gave us water, towels, umbrellas, apples, oranges and sustained us. That cop who killed Mike Brown should go to jail! But, you know what, he'll get bailed out—not like any one us if we murdered someone.

Who polices the police? My personal opinion is he should be charged with murder, the officer should be arrested. Prosecuted to the fullest. But what's happening is the police who murder our loved ones are funded!

I'm going back to Ferguson this weekend to support the mother. I saw the autopsy report and it hurts. They say wait... wait... for investigation. That's too long. We understand the mother's pain. We know it and we feel it.

It was four years ago for me. James Earl Rivera killed by Stockton cops. I still have sleepless nights. We want laws changed to protect us. They walk on every murder! Has to be a stop to it. Laws need to protect us, but they protect the police. That should be no more. California stands with the people of Ferguson and Mike Brown's mother. We got to get the community to come out. People should give funds because media don't show the truth—we need to go to Ferguson to get the truth out. People exercising their rights and being arrested for it. Joey Johnson went to jail and others too and I was there when they shot tear gas at us.

 

 

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

The following is posted on Alice Walker's website.

Month of Resistance NYC Alicewalkersgarden

Gather

©2014 by Alice Walker
for Carl Dix and Cornel West

It is still hard to believe
that millions of us saw Eric Garner die.
He died with what looked like a half dozen
heavily clad
policemen
standing on his body, twisting and crushing
him
especially his head
and neck.
He was a big man, too. They must have felt
like clumsy midgets
as they dragged him down.


Watching the video,
I was reminded of the first lynching
I, quite unintentionally, learned about:
it happened in my tiny lumber mill
town before the cows were brought in
and young white girls
on ornate floats
became dairy queens.
A big man too,
whom my parents knew,
he was attacked also by a mob
of white men (in white robes and hoods)
and battered to death
by their two by fours.

I must have been a toddler
overhearing my parents talk
and mystified by pieces of something
called “two by fours.”

Later, building a house,
i would encounter the weight,
the heaviness, of this varying length
of wood, and begin to understand.

What is the hatred
of the big black man
or the small black man
or the medium sized
black man
the brown man
or the red man
in all his sizes
that drives the white lynch mob
mentality?


I always thought it was envy:
of the sheer courage to survive
and ceaselessly resist conformity
enough to sing and dance
or orate, or say in so many outlandish
ways:
You’re not the boss
of me!
Think how many black men
said that: “Cracker,* you’re not the boss
of me;”
even enslaved. Think of how
the legal lynch mob
so long ago
tore Nat Turner’s body
in quarters
skinned him

and made “money purses”
from his “hide.”

Who are these beings?

Now we are beginning to ask
the crucial question.

If it is natural to be black
and red or brown
and if it is beautiful to resist
oppression
and if it is gorgeous to be of color
and walking around free,
then where does the problem
lie?

Who are these people
that kill our children in the night?
Murder our brothers in broad daylight?
Refuse to see themselves in us
as we have strained, over centuries,
to see ourselves in them?
Perhaps we are more different
than we thought.
And does this scare us?
And what of, for instance,
those among us
who collude?

Gather.
Come see what stillness
lies now
in the people’s broken
hearts.

It is the quiet force of comprehension,
of realization
of the meaning
of our ancient

and perfect
contrariness;
of what must now be understood
and done to honor
and cherish
ourselves:
no matter who
today’s “bosses”
may be.

Our passion
and love for ourselves
that must at last
unite
and free us. As we lay our sacrificed
beloveds to rest
in our profound
and ample caring:
broad, ever moving,
and holy,
as the sea.


* Cracker: from the crack of the whip wielded by slave drivers.


alicewalkersgarden.com
Reprinted with permission.

All Out for the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation! Join a daily vigil starting on: Friday, September 12, 5 pm – 7 pm. Please read more.

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Every Hour, Every Minute, Every 15 Seconds: Violence Against Women

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

According to the World Health Organization, in 2013, 35 percent of women worldwide have been the victims of sexual violence during their lifetimes.

Globally, intimate partners commit 38 percent of the murders of women.

An estimated one million children around the world, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each year.

In the U.S., 20 to 25 percent of college women experience rape or attempted rape.

In the U.S., a woman is beaten every 15 seconds.

According to domestic violence experts, more than three women in the U.S. lose their lives at the hands of their partners every day.

Since the incident where NFL player Ray Rice was caught on video assaulting his fiancée, over 600 women have been killed by their partners.

Another reason we need revolution and nothing less!

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

In a World of Rape and Violence Against Women
Bringing Out Revolution and the Leadership of Bob Avakian

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Note from the editors: The following correspondence about experience this past summer is being run both because of the overall lessons in going out broadly into all streams of society and bringing out the need for revolution and the leadership of Bob Avakian, and because it speaks in important ways to the question of violence against women and where it comes from, questions that are—or need to be—debated out and acted upon even more fully in the wake of the video of Ray Rice knocking Janay Palmer unconscious.

 

Not long ago, I noticed a film festival that was happening in my city. Several films caught my eye, but I did make a priority to go to one, which centered on two women as they struggled for justice. One was a young mother brimming with warmth and enthusiasm, but who also endured almost indescribable horrors. She courageously allowed the film makers to document her story of extreme abuse—kidnapping, sexual abuse, and physical as well as psychological torture of herself and her young daughter that lasted days—in order to let the world see what all too often happens to women behind closed doors. The other woman featured in the film has been a tireless champion for victims of domestic abuse for decades, herself having been abused by her husband when she was younger.

The film was excruciating, not only because it forced us all to confront in a very intimate and real way the gruesome terror and violence that is regularly inflicted on women (every 15 seconds a woman is beaten in this country), but also because it showed how systematically the very institutions these women have been told to turn to for help—the police, the courts, the law—are stacked against them. In one scene, police claim they had "no grounds" to arrest or even question the husband after they finally removed this woman from his custody, despite the fact that every inch of her face and body is swollen with bruises and she is drenched in several days worth of his urine and semen! We follow this woman's advocate across the country as she consults and/or fights with police, district attorneys, medical experts, social workers, judges, FBI and more. After years of this struggle, they finally are able to put the man who carried out this abuse in prison.

At the same time, the strength of the characters and the justness of their struggle carry you so that you are not only outraged, but also inspired. Everyone could learn something by watching this film and there is light shed on how difficult it is for women to get out of abusive relationships and the courage of those who do. However, even with these and other strengths, ultimately the film pushes for a "solution" that is actually harmful. Basically, it puts forth the need to better train law enforcement to respond to domestic abuse and holds out the FBI as a force that is more on the side of women than local law enforcement. I will return to the problems with this later.

After the film, there was a question and answer with a very compelling panel of people who were involved in the film as well as significant feminist leaders. Correctly, almost everyone who asked a question praised the individuals in the film for their courage and willingness to share so intimately. Questions ranged from how they were able to build the trust to make the film, to the difference between domestic abuse in different parts of the world, to the role of law enforcement in responding to this abuse. At one point, a panelist and questioner went back and forth about whether there were any good police officers or whether they were all bad. One theme that had been hit quite a few times was how wrong it is that everyone asks women who are victims of abuse, "Why don't you leave?" The panelists were angry about that question as it puts the onus on the woman, rather than asking why the man hits her. One panelist went to lengths to emphasize that misogyny is not a product of "human nature," even citing how the Iroquois didn't have any notions of patriarchy before Europeans colonized and that Bengali (a very ancient language) didn't have any gendered pronouns because gender didn't matter when that language was first developed.

By the time I got called on, there was a lot that had been pulled out into the discussion, including many very positive insights and stands. At the same time, all this was still somewhat constrained within the existing conditions of the world today—so even the debate that broke out over whether some police are good and can be relied upon to help women or whether they are all no good was being wrestled with on too low a level and overall people's vision did not extend to how we could put an end to all this abuse once and for all, but at best how we could make the law work better for women who are abused.

I pointed out that one of the things that really came through in the film is how many roadblocks they ran into in seeking justice in the courts and from the police, and what this reveals is that the question is not really whether there are individual cops who genuinely care about women, but that there is a state that enforces a certain way of life. The courts, the laws, the law enforcement are all part of that state which enforces a system and society that has male domination woven into it at every level. I agreed with the panelist who argued that this is not human nature, adding that it is the nature of the system, the system of capitalism-imperialism, which cannot do away with patriarchy. All this is why we need to do away with the system. I referenced the horrific description in the film of how the man would grab the woman by her ears and urinate in her face: "As horrific as that is, this is the kind of thing that can be found in mainstream porn these days—along with all the rest of the abuse we just watched." I concluded, "You are absolutely right that we shouldn't be going around asking women why they don't leave their abusers. But we also have to go bigger than why the man did what he did. Instead we should be asking, "Why do we put up with a society where millions and millions of boys are trained from a very young age to see the torture and humiliation of women as exciting and acceptable? Why do we accept a society that trains millions and millions of little girls to see their entire value in being sexy or wanted by a man and to accept that kind of abuse and degradation—or to have no viable means to escape such a situation? And why the FUCK do we put up with a world where 1 in 3 women on this planet will go through some form of sexual or physical abuse?" The real question is: "When are we going to make revolution to put an end to all this!?!"

It was clear that some of the people in the packed theater were shocked by what I said, but also that most people could not dismiss it either. Some, including even the panelist who had been defending the role of "good" law enforcement, broke out into enthusiastic applause. Others avoided eye contact.

The Q&A went on for a bit longer and then there was a reception where people milled about and mingled. I approached lots of folks to talk about the film and shared Revolution newspaper. Several had been extremely moved and provoked by what I had said during the Q&A, giving me contact information to get connected to the movement for revolution.

Towards the end of the night, I approached a group of college age women and they got excited once they realized that I was the same person they had heard talk about revolution (the theater had been dark and it was hard to see who was speaking). I learned that they were all in my city as part of a feminist summer internship program and that they all go to the same elite university. Their activities coordinator was especially enthusiastic about what I had said and about how great it would be to expose her interns to more of these kinds of ideas. I told her about Bob Avakian's film, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and suggested that we schedule a night for the interns to come in and watch and discuss a segment of it. She loved the idea and we pulled out our calendars and scheduled it on the spot.

********************

A couple weeks later, about a dozen interns and their coordinator gathered at Revolution Books and we watched a segment of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! where Bob Avakian (BA) goes deeply into "commodity fetishism" (the way that relations of exploitation between people are hidden beneath what appears to be a relationship between things... for example, when someone buys an iPhone, they enter into a relationship with the people whose exploitation produced that phone), as well as going at the way that this society has mainstreamed deep and vicious misogyny (hatred of women). The young women were silent through most of the clip, but when BA called out Beyoncé for championing the interests of U.S. imperialism—doing so with a lot of substance as well as biting style—they burst out in laughter and approving shock.

I had characterized briefly the substance of the entire talk and told them about BA—the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, which is actively leading the masses to build a movement for real revolution, and the person who has developed a whole new synthesis of revolution and communism. Now, I explained that I would be happy to get into any questions about any of that as the night went on, but first wanted people to discuss and react to the content of what we had just watched.

What came up first and from many angles was BA's discussion of "commodity fetishism." Several women spoke about how they think frequently about all the sweatshop labor and suffering that goes into the phones they carry and the clothes they wear and how most people don't even know this goes on. In part they saw this as a larger problem that should be gone at, but in the main they saw this in individualized terms, wrestling with their own consciences over whether they need all the fashionable clothes they like to buy and how to weigh that against the suffering that goes into them.

A couple young women said they appreciated what BA had to say about the word "bitch" and the phrase "man up" (if anyone reading this hasn't watched the video, you really must watch it), but insisted that, "We talk about this kind of stuff all the time, so we are already familiar with that." This was contradicted only a few minutes later when one of them admitted, "Well, I guess I kind of knew this, but I have to admit, I told somebody to 'suck my dick' just the other day. And I say 'man up' all the time. I never really thought about them the way he talked about them."

Here, too, the students mainly filtered what he was saying through the prism of individual acts, not enough as commentary and exposure of the larger society and the implications of that. For example, one student explained how in their dorms they have a whole list of words that students are asked not to say (these include words like "fag") and asked if they should include the words "bitch" and "man up." I pointed out that while there is definitely a positive element to people not using words like this once they come to understand how much they concentrate hatred for women or other oppressed sections of society, I thought there was something much deeper and bigger that BA was getting at as well. The implications of what he is exposing is not just that individuals should stop using those words (though we certainly should!), but that these words and their misogyny reveal something very deep about the whole way women are treated in this society and that we have go to work on changing a culture and society that can mainstream such hatred.

Another student said it seems that the culture has gotten much more misogynistic and wanted to know if that was true, and also wanted to know why it was true. She likes to listen to her mother's music from the '60s, like the Beatles and Bob Dylan, and all that music was much more positive than music today. I told her there was misogyny then too, but that it has gotten worse and asked her why she thought that was. She posed that maybe it is because people aren't struggling for positive change today as much as they were in the '60s and this is why the music isn't reflecting it anymore. I agreed and urged that this is a big part of why BA is placing such great emphasis on the need for a radical revolt in the culture against the revolting culture and how this can be a real positive spur to the kind of change we need.

One young Black woman explained why she had reacted so positively to what he said about Beyoncé, saying that she fears that "Beyoncé is taking over feminism" and that there is a danger in a celebrity like her who doesn't necessarily understand the issue fully and having too much power to define it. This is a different critique than BA was making, but was interesting and several students picked up on this theme and they all debated whether it was good or bad that Beyoncé was so publicly identified as a feminist. Most felt negatively towards this, but for varying reasons.

Another Black woman responded to this conversation by raising that she didn't think it was right that BA went so hard after elements of Black culture, insisting that misogyny exists everywhere and that she is uncomfortable with him doing this because he is white. I asked what she thought of what he actually said in those examples and she said she agreed, but that by putting so much emphasis on them, he is making it seem that Black people are worse.

I disagreed, reminding her of the way he critiqued country music and GI Jane and video games and other elements of the culture. But I also made the point that BA does put a special challenge to those this system has cast off and treated as less than human, not because they are worse or they are more to blame, but precisely because they have a huge role to play as emancipators of humanity. BA struggles sharply with oppressed people, including Black people, to get up off the system's ways of thinking precisely because without that they will continue to be enslaved and oppressed and the whole world will continue to stay as it is with all the horrors this means for the billions on the planet.

I emphasized that she really needs to see the whole film to understand more fully where BA is coming from on all this—including that he opens on the question of police murder and the whole way in which the oppression of Black people is foundational to this country and a major reason we need revolution and that it is from this perspective that he is fighting so hard, including by struggling sharply against the backwardness among oppressed people themselves, to lead people to step forward once again on an even more radical and liberating foundation and to go all the way this time.

I went back and forth with the young woman who brought this up several times, but she continued to see things mainly in terms of identity politics and who is this man who is white to be talking about Black culture and people, even as she couldn't bring herself to disagree with anything he actually said. This is all too typical among young people today.

Other students asked questions about the history of communism and were both filled with wrong assumptions and slanders about this history as well as very open to the fact that they might be wrong. This was refreshing and one purchased the special issue of Revolution, "You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future," and others left with other literature. Almost all the students gave a way to stay in touch with the movement for revolution.

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Stop Patriarchy Protester: Don’t Give Up the Fight for Abortion Rights

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Protest at University of Texas, Austin, August 27

West Campus at the University of Texas, August 27.

My name is Adrienne Luendo — I am a 23-year-old recent college graduate. More than that, I am an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider and was one of the five people arrested outside of the University of Texas Austin campus on Aug. 27.

I protested because I feel responsible to act on what I know to be true. The closure of abortion clinics nationwide must be stopped because without the right to decide for themselves when and whether to have a child, women cannot be free. This responsibility is heavy, but it is not without great joy and honor to be part of something worth living and fighting for. I protested because I’m angry that college students are being silenced when campuses should be teeming with debate and dissent. This is our future, and we can do better than standing on the sidelines. I wanted to challenge students, to show that young people have the ability and responsibility to change the trajectory of history, and that means putting our bodies on the line.

On Friday, Aug. 29, just two days after our protest and arrest, Judge Lee Yeakel blocked — for now — the round of clinic closures that had been scheduled to take place across Texas on Sept. 1. This is great! However, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has already appealed this ruling and a hearing is set for Sept. 12 in New Orleans. In addition, over half of Texas’ abortion clinics already have been closed for the past two years, part of a dangerous pattern nationwide.

On August 27, 2014, members of StopPatriarchy.org protested on Guadalupe Street off of West Campus at the University of Texas against the law that would have shut down abortion clinics in Texas. Video: American Statesman/YouTube

Everyone needs to know about this and needs to be part of the fight to change the way people think, talk, and act about abortion. “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” is what Stop Patriarchy says. Abortion is the first word in the slogan. It’s not an afterthought, not a statement that abortion should be “rare.”  It creates the possibility of conversations about why abortion should be unrestricted and spoken about without taboo, shame or stigma.  Students are leaders, the future of this world and need to be speaking about abortion on those terms!

Some students were deeply inspired by our action on Guadalupe Street because they had never seen or been part of a protest.  We sounded the alarm about the abortion rights emergency here in the U.S. and abroad — chanting facts, stories and questions.  We wore all white and had blood stains on our pants to bring to life the reality that when abortion was illegal, 5,000 women per year died from botched abortions, and currently 47,000 women die each year globally from botched abortions. 

“When was the last time someone told you to yell about women’s rights? It feels good to stand up for the lives of women,” Sunsara Taylor, initiator of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women, yelled out to students. This is so true! Students and young people have grown up in a culture where talk about abortion is silenced because it’s controversial.  But there should be nothing controversial about a woman making the decision of when and whether she will become a mother.  It is immoral to force her into motherhood against her will.

Going to jail was an awful experience.  We were treated as less than human, our prints taken, and were constantly searched and groped.  I thought of the women who have to drive hours to the nearest clinic, scrape up money and often childcare, of women who inject themselves with birth control before crossing the border because they know there is a likelihood of rape while traveling, of the lives stolen by illegal and botched abortions, the countless stories of foreclosed lives. I stood for them and it was worth it!

Some students and drivers were angry because of the disruption to their lives. But that’s just a small dose of what it’d be like to be a woman without access to reproductive care. I call on students to stand up for women’s lives. If you don’t want to see the women of the world enslaved to their reproductive system, if you’re angry that some politicians will not stop until abortion is abolished, if you are tired of being silenced, if someone you love had an abortion, join up with StopPatriarchy.org. Listen to women’s stories. Tell your own. Start a chapter where you live. Because if you understand that forcing women into motherhood against their will is immoral and wrong, it’s up to you to do something about it.

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Interview with a Former Prisoner, Part 3

Don't Risk Your Life Over Stupid Shit—Be Down for Revolution

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

EDITORS' NOTE: This is Part 3 of an interview with a former prisoner, who, through contact with Revolution newspaper, the writings of Bob Avakian, and literature of the Revolutionary Communist Party, decided that being an emancipator of humanity was what his life is going to be about. It has been edited for publication. We are posting the interview in three segments. Part 1 (Breaking with the Gang Life Getting with the REAL Revolution) was published on September 1, 2014 and Part 2 (Science, Revolutionary Theory, and Getting into Bob Avakian) on September 8.

 

Revolution: In addition to deeply wrestling with revolutionary theory, you wrangled with how you could contribute from inside. Can you talk about that?

X: I was trying to figure out how to build the movement for revolution from within prison. I would try to wrestle with every kind of prisoner, try to struggle with every kind of prisoner. There were some who I was glad to run into, who were more revolutionary-minded, or they thought more about those things. And there were some who were very backward. But I would try to struggle with them. I would look into how to actually go about it. But that was the thing about not having any collectivity that I was always so frustrated about because I didn't know how to do it. I'm reading and learning all this stuff, but I don't know how to struggle with people. But I knew I had to figure out how to "strain against the limits." Even though I didn't understand it so well, I had to try it. It spoke to something very real.

So I'd be like, "OK, how do I strain against these limits?  How do I transform the situation to the greatest degree possible within these things, but always putting forth revolution?"

There were a lot of obstacles, but I was constantly struggling. I was trying to see how I could build a movement for revolution. I was always bringing communism into it and why we needed it. I would struggle over all the shit that's going on in the world. And sometimes I didn't know how to do it and I would try to just identify things that that particular person hated or something that was happening to that particular person or happening to us in prison to get them to want communism.

But then I realized that you can't do it that way. You have to make them think about larger things. You have to call their attention to all the horrors that are going on around the world, so people could really want a revolution. You can't be like, "We gotta have a revolution because they're validating1 too many people." It's gotta be more than that. [laughs] That would be enough if you think about mass incarceration, for people to want to make revolution, but it's gotta be larger than that. They gotta identify with all the oppressed people around the world, not just with prisoners.

I was trying to strain against the limits. I was trying to do that in relation to the hunger strikes, too. I was trying to bring people revolution, trying to get them to get into it, to wield it, as we're getting ready for the hunger strikes and going up against the state. In relation to the hunger strikes, more people started becoming open to it. In the midst of struggle, more people are asking questions about how we could go forward. "What else can we do? What else should we do?" And people start talking about tactics, but they're also more open to revolutionary ideas. Not a lot, but more than usual. You can see how it's all interrelated—Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, and how we have to continually make it about that. So I saw those as opportunities to strain against the limits.

Revolution: Talk some about the hunger strikes. How did you feel about taking part in them?

X: I was inspired! Prison is becoming more and more repressive. Some of these prisoners in solitary confinement have been isolated for decades with no human contact. But also different prisoners supported it, because a lot of people go in and out of the SHUs. It's like a jail within a jail, but it's not like it's totally separated. It's a reality hanging over your head, that you could be in the SHU next—this could be you next. So prisoners on the mainline, we started taking this up, taking up the struggle.

I thought it was a significant thing for prisoners to resist and fight back, for them to come together. This coming together of different races, when it's such a fuckin' racist environment—it's so fuckin' racist in prison.  But these different races came together. It was something that called attention to the fucked up conditions, but was also an example that no matter where you're at, there's things that you can do.

At the same time, we do have to recognize what we're up against and people have to raise their sights to see that the struggle they're waging could contribute to the larger struggle. I remember thinking about the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay and shouldn't we be uniting with their struggle? I would think about the significance that that would have. "Oh, shit, these prisoners in the United States are joining with the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay."

In the SHUs, people feel very isolated, totally separate.  So we have to support them. We have to show our support for the people who are validated, for those who are stuck there. Not just because it could be us, but because it's right. Because what's happening to them is wrong. Again, at the same time, we have to make it about something larger. Whether you realize it or not, you're going up against the repressive forces of the capitalist class. You may not be very conscious of it, but that's what we're going up against. So I would just try to tell people, you gotta make it about something bigger if you're gonna understand what you're fighting against and recognize what it is.

Revolution: What role would you say... in talking to people who are reading this in prison now, what role do you think prisoners can and need to play in the revolution?

X: They need to take up revolution and communism. They need to take these goals up. And they have to figure out what they can do wherever they're at to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution—and do whatever they can from within the confines of prison. Because they're not helpless. They can still contribute. They can get into BA and help get others into BA, to get people to wrangle with all these big questions.

Another way prisoners can make an important contribution is by writing letters to the PRLF [Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund] and Revolution newspaper.

While I was in prison, I opened up the paper one time and saw an excerpt from one of my letters on a sign that people were using on the street. I was like, "What the???" I started realizing that there's still contributions you could make just by writing. I was able to speak to a whole section of people through the pages of Revolution—not just my celly or the guy in the cell next to mine. That's very important because of the back and forth between outside and inside the prison walls. I was someone about whom the system would've said, "You can't teach this dumb-ass anything," or "You would have to water down the content for him to understand." But I did get a meaningful education in prison, because I was learning fundamental things about how the world works, why things are the way they are, and what we could do to change it. Then through writing in to Revolution, I was able to challenge others with what I had come to understand.

I was surprised to see one of my letters being taken out to challenge these youth who are caught up in the things that most of these prisoners were caught up in before they came to prison. A lot more of that needs to be done to reach out to those youth before they get caught up in this system's game and their life is snatched away from them by these pigs and the system they represent. Prisoners have a very important role to play and an obligation to speak to these youth—we know what they're going through and we know where they're heading. But if you've gotten into revolution, you also know their lives could be about something radically different—they could be the gravediggers of this system and emancipators of humanity.

In addition, if people from all walks of life see prisoners stepping forward, that could be very inspiring—if even prisoners with their very limited means are finding ways to contribute to this, then why can't I? It can change people's thinking—the people that this system is always telling you are monsters are actually capable of tremendous love for humanity. And it is this system that is monstrous.

There's another level, too, where prisoners should be raising their questions and differences—to share questions which others might have who don't write into Revolution, but which everyone can learn from. Also, raising their questions can provide real insights into significant contradictions they might be dealing with or thinking about that the movement for revolution may not be aware of. Or even if you're wrong about something that you raise and someone is writing back to you and answering your question, it makes the person answering have to work to further develop the line, and this can contribute to all kinds of breakthroughs. The deeper our understanding is, the better equipped we are to make revolution. So posing those questions is important, as they're wrangling with all this... and make those questions known so we can get to work on answering them and helping raise that level of consciousness for the movement as a whole.

If more prisoners recognize this and find ways to be writing and engaging the line, you could have a very positive impact.

Revolution: You've told me about how you waged sharp struggle with a lot of people about revolution. What would you say to people inside who are attracted to this but maybe aren't sure they could go up against feeling like nobody agrees with them? This is something people face outside of prison, too.

X: Well, if you're gonna proceed from "nobody wants to hear this," you're not gonna change anything. You have to understand the way that people could come to see things, like I said, in the midst of struggle, or by being confronted by the larger workings of the system and the role political and ideological struggle can play. Sometimes you might feel all alone. Cuz I felt all alone a lot of times. I couldn't find a single person to agree with me. But I also recognize that there's a basis to change people's thinking, cuz they're gonna confront different situations.  It's not a stagnant reality. It's not just unchanging. Nothing is permanent. And they're gonna confront different situations, including the need to struggle. And you have a role to play in all that.

If you take this up, that's where you step in and raise people's sights.  And you won't be the only one. There's other prisoners doing it. You gotta become part of that and take it up. The more people that are doing that, the better our chances are of really breaking through and creating a serious movement that becomes a strong material force to change the world. It's not unimportant for prisoners to take this up, but you have to step up. This shows, too, that if you can do it, someone who's in prison, why not other people who are not so limited in what they can do?

There's a responsibility.  If you recognize all the horrors that this system causes, there's a responsibility to do everything you can to contribute to revolution.

Prisoners can set an example that people can change. If you can change, who else can change? I was talking about my circumstances and everything that I changed about myself, about my outlook and the way I live my life. That wasn't easy. That took struggle. There were times when I was considered the scum of the earth, an irredeemable monster—and there were times that even I believed it. But you could change. You could change all that by taking this up. BA says "Never underestimate the great importance of ideology."

I was talking with another revolutionary about the idea of being down. A lot of people talk about "I'm down, I'm down." You're down for what? What are you gonna be down for? What you need to be down for is revolution. If you're talking about being down is being courageous, what's more courageous then taking this up and being about revolution? Don't lower your sights. Don't keep your sights so low! Raise your sights. Raise your sights and become about something bigger. It involves sacrifices. It involves sacrifices.  But if you're down, you're willing to make 'em.

Revolution: What were the biggest political and ideological questions you struggled around with people in prison?

X: The main thing I would get from prisoners when I talked to them was that you can't make revolution. They didn't see the possibility. "They'll kill you. You can't make a revolution in this country." There wasn't so much disagreement when you laid out what the fuck is wrong with the world and that there's a better way to rule society. There was disagreement, but not as much as you would think. The question was always more often than not, "You can't do that. They'll kill you. That's not possible. People are too fucked up. People don't care about that shit. People just care about making money and doing all this shit. It sounds good, but it won't ever work."

I would try to tell people that nothing stays the same forever. Like any little cursory look at history, you would see that. Nothing stays the same forever. And there have actually been revolutions that have went in that direction. They're always like, "Yeah, but not in the United States. Not here. You might see it in the Third World, but not here." I told them there's contradictions that the system can't resolve. Like they have to talk about peace, but they constantly gotta wage wars. They gotta talk about democracy, but they constantly gotta reveal what they're truly about in the form of repression. And there's no guarantee that they will always be able to do that—that they'll never face a situation that they can't get out of.

And I said, "And every time that there's struggle and people are willing to resist, that's the time for us to do this kind of work, to bring revolution to people, so they could know that there's a whole 'nother way. So that something could come out of that upheaval. And it's true in the society outside these prisons."

People have to know where the source of it is all coming from and you have to bring it to people for them to see it. Like BA says, it's not what people are thinking at any given time that is the key question, but what they will be forced to confront. And by not doing anything, you're almost guaranteeing that it will go in a fucked up route. So you have to be out there taking this up instead. These crises are inevitable under capitalism, one way or another, but what comes out of that crisis depends on you, on us, on what we do now and at that time.

Religion would always come up and we'd struggle about religion. I'd say, "If you look to an invisible man and start wondering why an invisible man is doing this or doing that, you're never gonna understand shit. You're not gonna know nothing about the truth. You gotta look at and understand the material world, not look for things unseen and start going off from there, like speculating about what would god want, what is god thinking, why would god do this. You're not gonna understand shit that way." I would reference Mao's Red Book where he says, "Idealism and metaphysics are the easiest things in the world, because people can talk as much nonsense as they like without basing it on objective reality or having it tested against reality. Materialism and dialectics, on the other hand, need effort." I would tell them that and reference BA as much as I could.

Also, on the ideological level, prisoners gotta come off that ego trip. There's a mentality like, "We don't get fucked with." But it's not true. That's on the street, too, where everybody's like, "I don't give a fuck, I'm a tough guy" and "Nobody comes around here and does this shit." But the pigs come in whenever the fuck they want—and it's the same in prison, too. They think that the pigs don't fuck with them, but they do. I used to tell prisoners "These pigs do whatever the fuck they want." They'd be like, "No, they don't." I'm like, "Yes, they do." I said, "Just to go out to the fuckin' yard, you gotta fuckin' strip butt naked, turn around and spread your cheeks."

Because they do that, just for you to go out to the yard.  And it's a humiliating process. You are humiliated.  But prisoners, they'll be in denial. "Naw, naw, that's just the way it is, just the way it is." That's the thing: they got you to accept that humiliation that's meant to keep you in your place, for you to accept this certain role where you're the one being ruled over and they're the ones on top dominating.  And that's precisely what they want—for you to go through that motion without thinking. If you think about it, how more degrading could you get? Stand back and look at that. How could you not see that? And these pigs are doing it.

So it's not like we're these tough guys who don't let these pigs fuck with us. Look at what they do to us. Look at how they treat us on a daily basis. So you have to come together, you have to come together and see the need to fight back.

Revolution: And actually, that's where we find our strength. It is just the opposite of what people think in terms of the "Naw, we don't get fucked with, we don't get fucked with."  Well you do.  But actually, where do you find your strength—not just on an individual level, but collectively?

X: Yeah, yeah, exactly. Being objective, learning to recognize objective reality, it's not based on what people think. I had that argument with somebody on this particular issue. They said something ridiculous about the strip search. And I said, "No, this is why they're doing it." He got all mad. "Maybe for you, but not for me." I'm like "Naw, man. [laughs] Your opinion doesn't matter. That's objectively true that you have to get butt naked, you have to turn around and spread your ass cheeks to these fuckin' pigs just to go outside, and you do that on a daily basis. Every time you want to go outside you have to go through that."

And he's like, "Aw, that's just the way you wanna look at it." I'm like, "No it's not, that's actually happening." We all have to do that, we all have to learn how to recognize the objective truth that exists independently of what anybody thinks or how you want to see it. Like, "It depends on how you want to see it." Naw, [laughs] that might help you cope with it, but that's not gonna help you change it or challenge it. It's still gonna be happening to you.

Revolution: We spoke earlier about the hunger strikes, could you talk more about how you see the importance of the call to end hostilities among the different nationalities in prison?

X: That was a very important thing to come out. When you look at the history of all this violence between these groups going for decades—for this call to come out is very meaningful. When you've been in prison and you see all this shit, and then you see that they're saying, "OK, it's time to put an end to this infighting," it's such a significant thing. And I don't know if people really grasp it.

When you're facing the state, you have to throw all these encumbrances out the window. The more serious you become about the struggle and really overcoming all this shit, you're gonna have to face the necessity to do that. Any prisoner who starts to think about what we have to do to fight the outrages we're forced to suffer, they respond, "Aw yeah, but we're always fighting... Aw, yeah, if we could just get together, but that's never gonna happen. If we just stop fighting amongst each other then maybe, but not until then." We get that from a lot of prisoners.

But when prisoners actually act to change that, then you know it's something very significant. People might have felt, "We're never gonna change that," but they recognize the need for it. And then when that changes, you could see the possibility.  What else could we do? What else are we capable of? When all these thousands of prisoners came together of all these different races and we were all united under one cause, it's a very significant thing. I know there's a lot of prisoners who thought they'd never see something like that in their lifetime.

And now, prisoners have to work to really hold onto this, because it's such a significant leap. And for it to fall apart, it would just be so fuckin' sad. And it would work in the interest of the pigs that they're up against. It would work in their interest, the pigs would love that, CDC would love that. So prisoners have to hold onto this.

Revolution: What do you think has to get deepened in people's understanding for them to hold onto this... both deepened in people's understanding but also in how the different nationalities relate for this to take more hold?

X: There's a lot that needs to be overcome. There's a lot of shit that shouldn't be tolerated. Anything that undermines unity shouldn't go unchallenged. Also, for real unity to take hold, you have to get rid of all these encumbrances that keep people from interacting with each other in a fuller sense. There's too much of that, "You can't do this with the Blacks, you can't play ball with the Blacks." For example, we can't eat after the Blacks. Like if somebody Black cooks something, we can't touch it.

All these things need to be identified and examined—does that undermine the unity that we're trying to create? If you're somebody Black and you're like, "This guy doesn't even want to eat after me," you'd be like, "Fuck him." It reinforces that division, it doesn't help overcome it. And there are prisoners who want to interact more with the different races but can't. You have to give people free rein to do political work with these different races. If prisoners of different nationalities want to come together in a study group or whatever, they should be able to do that. We're seeking to understand things on a better basis and it's not a Black thing to be revolutionary, or a Mexican thing, it's an internationalist thing.

Like there's all these prisoners who are more radical-minded who are very limited. Not by the pigs—and that's the irony, that's the contradiction—not by the pigs, but by the prisoners themselves that won't allow for all the political work that can be done among the prisoners. It would benefit the prisoners' movement as a whole if that was promoted—this political work across racial lines and national lines. If somebody takes up Christianity—they believe in some mythological fuckin' invisible man, they get exempt from the prison rules. But you won't be exempt from the rules if you take up revolution. Well, what the fuck are you talking about? That's something that needs to be overcome, something that would help the prisoners' movement as a whole, with everything they were trying to accomplish through these hunger strikes.

Revolution: There's also the question of people learning about each other's cultures. Latino people think Black people are loud and smelly and... whatever. And Black people think Latino people came and took their jobs away or whatever else they say. People got all this racist shit among each other, all these divisions among people. It's based on a lot of ignorance.

X: Yeah, all these divisions are promoted by the system, but people don't see this spontaneously. We have to struggle with that. That's why it's important to allow that interaction, so people learn about each other. But you also gotta read the history and you gotta study communist theory to see where it all comes from—where's the source, what role are you playing by reinforcing that, by promoting those racist views? Who are you helping? You sure as hell aren't helping yourself.

I would tell people, "You take up these views, but whose views are you taking up?"

I used to hear all these racist views. And I remember hearing this one Black guy talking about these Mexicans coming in, "All these places used to be Black and now they're all Mexicans, and now you see taco stands everywhere and all this shit." And then you see Mexican people talking about Blacks and they're just saying the same shit that you usually hear from white people. What ideology is that? You're taking up white supremacy. You're taking up white supremacy with all these racist views that you're taking up. Some people say "I hate white people, too." So I would ask people, "What are your criticisms of white people?" But they wouldn't be as developed. They'd have all these developed racist views about all these other races, except white people. Because they're taking up certain views that didn't just come out of thin air. They're taking them up from somewhere—from white supremacy.

I used to tell people when they would talk about their own culture, they'd be like, "Oh yeah, but we do this and we do that fucked up shit, and we can't do this or that good thing." And I'm like, Who can?" They'd be like, "Well, these white people, they do this and that." And I'd say, "You don't realize it, but you are a white supremacist." They'd be like, "Naw." "Yeah, you're a white supremacist." And they'd be like, "No, I'm not." I'd be like, "Man, if you believe the white race is superior, [laughs] then you're a white supremacist."

Things are this way because of a system.  It's the way history has played out, not because you're biologically inferior. That's a lot of what people need to get over, is that inferiority complex. They've taken up this inferior role assigned to them: "This is just where we're at." And they're like, "White people are smart, they do this and they do that. That's why they have things." No. You have a system and they enslave people, that's why they have things. Some white people, not all white people, have things. [laughs]

And that's where it gets complicated, cuz some Black people are richer than some white people. Some Mexican people are richer than some white people. But they're in a class. There's this one Mexican guy who is richer than Bill Gates—Carlos Slim. And he's monopolized communications in Mexico. And you've got people in prison thinking that's good. They think WE Mexicans are doing good because we have this guy richer than Bill Gates, but that's nothing to be proud of. What the fuck you talking about? People still live in misery. Look at all the poverty. Just because some people get richer while the rest remain poor that's not a positive development. People are like,"Oh yeah, well, we're coming up and we're doing better or whatever." It goes back to that thing, we have a Black president, but what are the conditions of Black people? You still have mass incarceration.  You have a Black president, but it reinforces that thought that anybody could make it, when it's not true. It reinforces the false idea that racism doesn't exist, because we have a Black president so there's no longer any racism. It's fuckin' bullshit.

Revolution: Why would you tell people, both in prison and also people broadly, why they should get into BAsics—the handbook for revolution?

X: Well, I would tell them to get into BA overall. But there's like decades, decades of work of the application of the scientific approach in this one book, BAsics. There's so much. And you could really wield it as an ideological weapon to get over all the hurdles that we need to get over. There's a lot of things that people come up against that you could find something to reference in BAsics, that you could battle it out and struggle with them and identify the problem. Things like nationalism and anywhere where sights are lowered. There's some basic questions that get answered thoroughly that are here.

You'll find it in another work of BA, but then there's something else you won't find in that work. But you'll find a whole lot in this one book from all these different works. Like where the kid says that "I agree with everything in there, if I invent something, I want to get more for it." You can't go walking around with a whole library of BA's work, but you could go around walking with BAsics and wield that. Like the book says, "You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics." You should get into all of his works, but this is such a good point to start. You get a big head start if you take up this book and read it and wrangle with it.

Revolution: What would you say to the youth who have all that anger that you talked about at the beginning and all that life experience of just being fucked with and being degraded and being in a million different ways told you're not worth shit—and you have all that anger and have all that desire to rebel but are doing it on the terms of this system... what would you say to them in terms of what their life should be about?

X: I would tell them you have to make your life about revolution... you gotta get with revolution, cuz your life is gonna be about something or it's gonna be about nothin'. And under this system, your life ain't gonna be about shit. And you're gonna be walking around with a target on your back, with prison as a very likely choice for not doing shit. But you could make your life about changing all that, instead of making your life about getting more than somebody else. Somebody actually told me once that he wanted to be the best bottom feeder he could be, "Being on the lower section of society, but at least I have more than the people down here." Why the fuck would you wanna set your sights so low? Why the fuck would you allow yourself to get played? Stop getting played by the system. Stop killing each other over senseless shit. Get with revolution, become part of the emancipators of humanity. Answer the call in BAsics 3:16.2 It's not easy, there's sacrifices to be made, but your life could be about so much more than all this petty shit that you think makes you dangerous or makes you tough, but is not leading you to nothing good and you're just being played.

If these youth were to be brought forward into the revolution, it would be such a tremendous thing. It would be a nightmare for the people who run this system if these kids raise their sights above all this micro level dog-eat-dog competition. Right now they're being played.  And they have all these fuckin' prisons where they just keep them housed. They just keep throwing 'em in there and these fuckin' imperialists are happy with the way things are. "OK, that's good. We've handled that situation. We're handling that situation." They pretty much think they've taken 'em out of the equation. "Anybody who'd be willing to resist, we'll lock 'em up. We have 'em locked up."

But if they were to make their lives about revolution, it would be a nightmare for the people who run this system and so meaningful for people throughout the world. These youth don't recognize that, they don't recognize their potential and what they could be and do if they come together to be a part of this.

We got to say to the youth caught up in all this bullshit, "Be down for something. If you're gonna be down, be down for something. Don't do what they want you to do.  Don't risk you're life over stupid shit. You're willing to fight each other, you should fight for something that's really worthwhile. You're not happy with the way things are, obviously, or else you'd be following the rules. If you really want to be a rebel, be a real rebel, rebel against this system that has you in the mess, that put you in this mess in the first place. Don't rebel in a way that keeps this system intact and perpetuates what this system is doing to people all over the world.


1. Validating is when they label people gang members and put them in solitary confinement in the SHU (Security Housing Unit). [back]

2. An Appeal to Those the System Has Cast Off

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

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

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

 

This interview is posted in three segments. See also Part 1 (Breaking with the Gang Life Getting with the REAL Revolution) and Part 2 (Science, Revolutionary Theory, and Getting into Bob Avakian).

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/leaked-un-climate-report-reveals-ominous-implications-of-climate-change-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Interview with Scientist Michael Mann

Leaked UN Climate Report Reveals Ominous Implications of Climate Change

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following interview is from The Michael Slate Show, KPFK, 90.7 fm Los Angeles; 98.7 fm Santa Barbara, www.kpfk.org worldwide.

 

Michael Slate: Just recently, the latest report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was secretly leaked to a number of news organizations and what it says is that runaway growth and the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts over the coming decades. Here to talk with us about this is Professor Michael Mann. Michael Mann is Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University and the author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. Michael, welcome back.

Michael Mann: Ah, thanks. It’s great to be with you, Michael.

MICHAEL SLATE: When we last spoke back in April, we talked about another climate report that had just been issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and that one itself was pretty alarming, and I understand that this draft report that was just leaked is a synthesis report combining a number of separate previous reports on different aspects of the crisis. But, what’s the difference between these reports in terms of content?

MICHAEL MANN: Yeah, so some of it is just sort of technical. The IPCC—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is an organization that operates under the auspices of the UN, but literally represents hundreds of the leading climate scientists around the world who get together and put together these extremely rigorous and comprehensive reports every five to six years summarizing the state of our scientific understanding of the problem of climate change. So this is the latest round, the fifth assessment report.

The way they proceed, they start out with what’s called the “Working Group One” report, which is just the basic science, It's the fundamental physical science of climate: What have we learned over the past few years, from climate models from new observations that we compare to the models? What do the models project for the future, given different potential policy pathways that still are in our hands? Depending on what fossil fuel emissions scenarios we pursue, the models can tell us what are the likely changes that result from that. So, that’s the Working Group One report.

The Working Group Two report comes out a few months later. It describes projected impact. If the climate changes in some particular way, what is the impact likely to be on food, on water, on human health, on national security, on our economy, etc.? And then the final installment of the report, of the three-part report, the Working Group Three report, is on so-called “mitigation,” solving climate change. What can we do about this problem, technologically, economically? What are the feasible solutions that are available to us to try to mitigate potentially dangerous and irreversible climate change? That’s really what the IPCC had been tasked to do back since 1990, when the United Nations framework convention first tasked the IPCC to assess, to not prescribe the solutions, but to assess prospects for dangerous human interference with the climate. And so the IPCC has been doing this now for more than two decades.

The synthesis report is basically just taking all that information from the three different working group reports and summarizing collectively what it all says and what it all means when it comes to contending with the problem of human-caused climate change. And as you noted, the language in this latest synthesis report is quite stark. It’s pretty remarkable because this is a very conservative document and the IPCC documents by nature are conservative documents, they are consensus documents, where the final wording has to be agreed upon by hundreds of scientists with differing viewpoints. It’s sort of a lowest common denominator in a sense because of that. It often, to some extent, understates the true potential threats because there is a range of viewpoints, and often the IPCC sort of ends up taking a somewhat centrist line between scientists who tell us that climate change is proceeding even faster than we might have guessed and critics, contrarians, skeptics who deny that climate change even exists. And so, there are still a few of those folks within the scientific community. They have some involvement in the IPCC process.

So that necessarily ends up watering things down a little bit. So if anything, the IPCC is a conservative body. Scientists tend to be conservative. They don’t like to stick their necks out with questionable hypotheses, untested hypotheses, dubious conclusions. Scientists by their nature are conservative. And so what’s so remarkable in this latest synthesis report is that a conservative body like the IPCC would use the sort of stark language that you were quoting earlier about the fact that we are now contending, already, with dangerous and potentially irreversible, on human time scales, on time scales that matter to civilization, irreversible changes in our climate that will be increasingly detrimental if we continue with business as usual, which is ongoing reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

MICHAEL SLATE: I was thinking about this study that was done on the state of the ocean a little while ago, and it was really interesting because one of the things they said in doing that is that there has been all these scientists working on separate aspects on what’s happened to the oceans, and when they all came together it just blew their minds because it was sort of, so evident that basically the situation was much worse than the sum of its parts; that the whole was much worse than the sum of its parts. So that’s similar to what you’re talking about here, right?

MICHAEL MANN: Absolutely. Scientists increasingly sort of carve off some little niche, some little set of problems that we work on because science has become a huge enterprise. There are thousands of scientists. There are so many things that we are investigating, that to really be at the forefront of modern scientific research, unlike back in the 1600s and the 1700s, when you had scientists like Joseph Fourier and these sort of citizen-scientists who might end up solving four or five of the biggest problems in science of that century alone.

That’s not the way it works any more. Scientists tend to be working on small parts of problems, making incremental progress towards our understanding of the way the world works. That’s the nature of the modern scientific discipline. Because of that, the sort of situation you described can easily arise in the lack of sort of multi-disciplinary approaches to looking at problems. When you take a problem like the oceans and you break it up so that you’ve got marine biologists maybe studying certain aspects of ocean ecology, fish population decline, but you may have geochemists who are studying the impact of ocean acidification. The CO2 [carbon dioxide] we are putting into the atmosphere isn’t just warming the planet and changing the climate. It’s also acidifying the ocean, which is a major problem. It’s already a threat to coral reefs. Literally, they will begin to dissolve. They will not be able to maintain their coral structure as the ocean becomes more acidic. Then you talk to people who study the effect of pollutants on animal life in the ocean. So, what happens is that you’ve got all these different sort of communities of scientists studying different problems and as you say, you bring them all together and it may be the first recognition on their parts that “Hey, we’re looking at a bigger problem than we realized, because this isn’t just a system that is being stressed by one factor.”

We all understand this in the way we live our lives. You know, if one bad thing that happens to you over the course of the day, you’ll deal with it. A couple bad things, it’s a bad day. But if everything in your life is going wrong simultaneously, it's devastating. The whole is much worse than the sum of the parts. That’s true with living organisms. If they are subject to multiple stresses at the same time, they have far less adaptive capacity than if they’re dealing with just a limited number of stresses. When you hit coral reefs with warmer ocean water, which is causing coral bleaching, you hit them with higher CO2 levels leading to ocean acidification. You hit them with pollutants: effluent that runs off into the coastal regions of the oceans and that adversely impacts coral communities. Even ozone depletion has been shown to already have had a negative impact on coral reefs. So, they’re being hit by all of these simultaneous insults at once and it’s far more difficult to be resilient. It’s far more difficult to adapt to sort of an onslaught of negative impacts. We’re seeing that with coral reefs.

We’re seeing that with Arctic ecosystems, with ecosystems where they’re being stressed by climate change, but they’re also being stressed by development, over-hunting, over-fishing, all of these things coming together in sort of a perfect storm that represents a far greater challenge for our environment, for ecosystems, for human civilization. The same is true with us. We are dealing with so many simultaneous problems right now. Climate change is just one of them. We’re dealing with pollution issues, water pollution. We are dealing with loss of habitat, of biosphere. We are, in essence, like the coral reefs dealing with simultaneous insults to our environment and that makes the problem far more of a challenge, than if we were dealing with just one thing.

MICHAEL SLATE: Now, one of the things I wanted to ask you is: This report indicates that there is a series of irreversible ecological and economical catastrophes if something isn’t done quick. I wanted to talk about what some of these things are, the symptoms of all of this, what’s actually happening. What are these marks, these scars on the planet right now and see if we can just get a deeper understanding of this. In 2009, countries across the globe set a goal of limiting global warming to about 2 degrees Celsius above current levels. What does this report indicate about how that’s going, man? What are the consequences of what’s happening?

MICHAEL MANN: Yes, the number typically cited is 2 degrees Celsius [2° C], close to 3½ degrees Fahrenheit, relative to pre-industrial time. But these numbers are somewhat subjective anyway. Even 2 degrees Fahrenheit may very well put us in the danger zone when it comes to impacts on food and water and human health. I mean, we’re already seeing significant negative impacts of climate change especially being felt in certain regions. People who live in the Arctic are sort of seeing climate change ahead of schedule because of the faster warming taking place there. Island nations, low-lying island nations, Pacific Islanders are already dealing with flooding because of global sea level rise. So, we’re already seeing dangerous climate change.

But, as we go down this fossil fuel highway, we become subject to potentially more and more dangerous impact. You allude to these essential tipping points we may cross, where we warm the planet enough that we set in motion some changes that we can’t undo. It’s the irreversibility you were talking about. The climate doesn’t always behave as smoothly as we might like, which is to say, you can warm the climate enough that instead of seeing just a gradual response, you’ll trigger something, that warming will trigger something very sudden and potentially irreversible.

One of the examples that we’re dealing with right now is the issue of the potential loss of ice from the major ice sheets, from the West Antarctic ice sheet and the Greenland ice sheet. We think that there is enough ice that is vulnerable to melting and to calving into the ocean from those two continental ice sheets to potentially give us as much as 10 meters of sea level rise, 30 feet of sea level rise is not out of the question. We’d be talking about of course, flooding of the major coastal cities of the world, island nations, large parts of coastal U.S. and Europe. We don’t know how long that will take because one of the uncertainties is: How long it will take for these large pieces of the ice sheet to collapse and ultimately yield that global sea level rise?

The fact is there is uncertainty. But the uncertainty in this case isn’t necessarily our friend, because we are learning that, to some extent, things are actually proceeding faster than our models told us they should. That is true if you look at how much melt is occurring during the summer over the surface of the Greenland ice sheet. We saw just a couple of summers ago something we had never seen before. There was melt occurring over the entire continent of Greenland. Everywhere in Greenland, even the most northern and the most high-elevation regions of the Greenland ice sheet, there was melt taking place at the surface. We didn’t expect to see that for decades.

There has been a spate of recent studies in the leading journals showing that the West Antarctic ice sheet may be far more vulnerable already than we realized, because it is literally being melted from beneath by the warming ocean. That warming from beneath is actually destabilizing the ice sheet. It’s melting the locations of the ice sheet that were in contact with the bedrock that sort of keep the ice on the land and prevent it from calving into the ocean. Those points of contact now appear to be getting eroded by the warming oceans from underneath. We may be already seeing far faster rates of melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet and the associated contribution of that to global sea level rise. I could go on and on.

There are a number of aspects of the climate system where we may pass a point of no return. We may have done that already, in the sense that we may have warmed the planet now enough that we cannot stop a large part of the Greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctic ice sheet from eventually collapsing and contributing to sea level rise. It may be too late to stop that, but it may still not be too late to prevent other things. The lesson here is that there is no one tipping point. It isn’t like if we warm the planet 2° C, we can’t prevent a warming of more than 2° C, we just give up. That’s not the way it works. If we don’t achieve a two degrees Celsius stabilization we still want to achieve 2½ degrees and if we miss 2½ degrees we still want to stabilize below 3 degrees Celsius because the more we warm the planet, the more we change the climate, the more likely it is that we see more and more of these potentially irreversible and truly catastrophic changes in our climate unfold.

MICHAEL SLATE: Now, tell us something—just out of curiosity—they’re talking about that there could be ice-free summers in the Arctic in the not too distant future.

MICHAEL MANN: Yeah and it’s another example. If you look at the climate models, what the climate models have been telling us in general is that at current rates of warming, ongoing fossil fuel burning, sort of business-as-usual fossil fuel burning, if we follow that scenario into the future that we would potentially see ice-free summers in the Arctic at the end of the century. Well guess what? We’re already almost there. So it turns out that the observations show that summer Arctic sea ice has been declining far faster than the climate models predicted it to, and we’re still trying to figure out exactly why that is. What may be missing from the models that is preventing them from capturing, for example, the dramatic loss in 2012, where the Arctic sea ice dropped to less than 50 percent of what it was just a couple decades ago.

We’re already pretty close now to ice-free conditions at the end of the summer at the Arctic. If you just sort of extrapolate the current trajectory, it really looks like we’ll be there in a matter of a decade or two, an ice-free Arctic at the end of the summer, something the models say shouldn’t happen for many decades.

It isn’t just academic. It isn’t just a scientific curiosity, because as goes Arctic sea ice, so goes the populations of polar bears that rely on that environment, so this iconic species of the polar bear is now established as a threatened species by the U.S. government because we are literally destroying its environment. We’re melting the sea ice environment that it requires for its hunting. That’s just one example. I mean, if we lose that Arctic sea ice, then we fundamentally lose an entire unique set of ecosystems that rely on that environment: the Arctic ecosystems of polar bears and walruses that rely on that environment and all the other animals and plants that are part of that system. If we melt the Arctic, we lose a unique ecosystem that won’t be replaced.

MICHAEL SLATE: And that does emphasize that whole point about the interconnectedness of this all. I wanted to raise something else in relation to this point in particular—not the loss of this unique ecosystem in the Arctic, but something related to the connectedness of all these problems. When we spoke last spring, we talked about what people were postulating then as a possibility, which was that as these ice sheets melt, that there's organic material that has been frozen for a long time that becomes exposed and begins to rot, and that there's the possibility of the release of really large amounts of methane, and that can have very dire and different consequences to the atmosphere, to the climate. And apparently, just recently they have discovered the release of some methane in that Arctic region.

MICHAEL MANN: Yeah, one of the things that we've known for some time is that there's a large amount of methane that exists in a frozen form, either in the permafrost, the Arctic tundra as permafrost in the ground, or along the coastal shelves of the oceans. And it's stable. At certain temperatures and pressures, that methane is stable in sort of a crystalline form. But if you warm the coastal shelves, or you warm the permafrost even a little bit, you can potentially destabilize all that methane that's frozen.

Methane, as it turns out, is an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. On timescales of a couple decades, it's almost a hundred times as potent as CO2. Over a time frame of a century, it's about thirty times as potent as CO2.

So there had been this worry—this is another one of these potential surprises, these potential tipping points, something that can be triggered that we didn't really fully account for, that the models don't really account for. If we warm the climate and we destabilize that methane, then suddenly we get even more warming because we're putting all of this methane greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. That's another example of what we call a “positive feedback,” which sounds like a good thing, but a positive feedback in this sense is a bad thing, it's an amplifying factor. It means we get even more warming than we otherwise would have.

So the sort of $64,000 question then is: How much of this methane really is close enough to the point of destabilization where it could be released on a massive scale in a short period of time in such a way that it would substantially aggravate the climate change problem, the problem of global warming? And there is a debate within the scientific community. It's important to recognize that there isn't a consensus yet among scientists that this methane feedback problem is a major problem. If you talk to experts in this field, some of them will point to the fact that we are observing methane being released from coastal shelf environments. There was a crater that opened up recently in the Siberian permafrost that we believe was a huge belch of methane being released into the atmosphere as the ground, as the permafrost, is warming. But if you do the math, and you calculate how much of that we're seeing, it's not yet to the point where it's a serious competitor with the warming influence of the CO2 that we're putting into the atmosphere with fossil fuel burning.

So it's something to keep an eye on, and it could potentially be another one of those aggravating factors that kicks in and makes the problem worse than we had originally envisioned. But at this point, it's potentially a distraction from really the fundamental source of the problem, which is our ongoing burning of fossil fuels and the increase in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

MICHAEL SLATE: Now, the report indicates that if nothing is done, then the effects of climate change will be irreversible. Related to that, it says that even if we act now, there's a risk of abrupt and irreversible changes. It points to, for instance, the idea that carbon released by burning fossil fuels will stay in the atmosphere and the sea for centuries, even if we completely stop emitting CO2 as soon as possible. What does that mean? What are the consequences of that?

MICHAEL MANN: By some measures, we're already seeing potentially irreversible changes. That appears to be true with the melting of the ice sheets. There's quite a bit of evidence that's mounted now that we have already committed to substantial loss of the West Antarctic ice sheet. We've passed the point of no return. It isn't like we could cool the climate back down, bring the CO2 levels back down and drive that process backward. That's not a possibility. It'll proceed no matter what we do. So we may have passed that tipping point.

But as I alluded to before, there are other tipping points: the collapse of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation. There are all sorts of these potential abrupt changes in climate that could take place, but we don't think we've yet approached the point where those tipping points are a threat. But certain tipping points we've already potentially crossed. And so by that measure, we have already ventured into the realm of irreversible climate change.

Now, as you say, the other irreversible aspect of this is just the CO2 that we're putting in the atmosphere. It takes the oceans, and ultimately the sediments at the bottom of the ocean, which slowly absorb carbon; it takes these processes thousands of years to play out. So if you put a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere very suddenly, it's going to take the earth's systems thousands of years to remove that CO2 from the atmosphere. What that means is that we have already committed to an elevation of CO2 concentrations well above pre-industrial levels for more than a thousand years.

If you talk to some of my colleagues, like James Hansen, former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, one of the leading climate scientists in the U.S., Hansen has argued that probably even 350 parts per million CO2, which is where we were several decades ago, even that is too high. If we allow CO2 to persist even at the level that existed during the late 20th century, that that would lock in potentially dangerous climate changes.

So we're already too high. Forget about trying to avoid 2° C warming. We've already warmed the climate enough to put in play, to allow to unfold, some of these more potentially catastrophic changes in our climate. There are scientists who believe that to be the case. And if that's true, if we are already above the sort of safe limit of CO2 in the atmosphere, and the CO2 we put into the atmosphere will take centuries, if not millennia, to come back out of the atmosphere through natural processes, then the implication is that not only do we have to stop fossil fuel burning and other human activities that are elevating CO2 in the atmosphere, we actually have to be implementing technological schemes, if you will, to actually draw CO2 down from the atmosphere, to literally suck the CO2 back out of the atmosphere.

That's an expensive endeavor. It's feasible technologically, but it's expensive to do. And yet, it may be necessary if the expense of not doing that, if the consequences of allowing CO2 levels to prevail at current levels, if that indeed has potentially catastrophic implications, we may have to turn to these technologies, carbon capture and sequestration technology, to literally pull some of the CO2 we've already put into the atmosphere back out of the atmosphere.

MICHAEL SLATE: I have two more questions. One is the droughts. Particularly in California there's a big question of the drought and the way it's impacting people. But I've also read things like across the Southwest and in New Mexico, they're talking about intense desertification actually beginning to spread. What about this? They said this could all result in a mega-drought that's worse than anything in the last 2000 years.

MICHAEL MANN: I saw that article, and whether or not one frames it in terms of mega-droughts or not—I'm not sure that's the most helpful framing. Frankly, I think the more relevant question is just the average drought conditions in the desert Southwest, the West Coast of the U.S., is climate change making that worse? That's a more basic question. And the answer seems to be overwhelmingly, yes. The California drought is a record drought—not just a record, but it broke previous records by a very large amount. It's by far the worst drought conditions that California has ever seen. They essentially had to create a new color on the drought map that they use to communicate the deep severity of this current California drought.

We know that climate change contributed to that. We know that climate change is leading to warmer conditions. California also had near-record heat, if not record heat, this summer in at least large parts of California. So you've got this heat. You've got earlier and earlier melting. You've got less accumulation of snow in the winter, earlier snowmelt from the mountains. You've got decreasing precipitation in many cases. So it's all sort of coming together, again in a sort of perfect storm, to give us unprecedented levels of drought in California, but also more broadly in the desert Southwest of the U.S.

This is something that the climate models have predicted for some time. So what we're seeing happen, the desertification of the desert Southwest, is something that the models have predicted, but we're actually learning that it may be worse than we thought: another example of a surprise, some new aspect of the science that we didn't understand before that's coming into play, and is potentially making this problem worse.

There have been a number of studies now that suggest that this really odd jet stream pattern we had last winter, where it was extremely dry, relatively warm on the West Coast, and then we had the jet stream sort of crash down into the central U.S. and the East Coast, giving us unusually cold conditions over a large part of the winter. So we had this huge contrast between the West and the East in the shape of the jet stream. The jet stream was basically going north into Alaska, rather than traveling through California and Oregon, which normally get all that rainfall in the winter. A lot of that was going north into Alaska. So the rainfall turned into snow at higher elevations.

So that pattern, that particular pattern of the jet stream that led to those conditions, there are some studies now that suggest that climate change may indeed be favoring that pattern of the jet stream. So the climate models already said that drought was going to get worse in California and the desert Southwest without taking that factor into account. Now, with this additional factor, which we saw play out in real time last winter, with the possibility that climate change is having some role in that as well, the problem may be worse: another example of, yes, there's uncertainty, but look, in many cases as in this case, uncertainty may be playing out in such a way that the effects are worse. They're more devastating than we thought they would be. And that may very well be true when it comes to California's ability to meet its water needs. Obviously this latest drought has been a major threat to water security in California, and that may be a sign of things to come. That may become the new normal. And if that's the new normal, then places like California have to fundamentally rethink how they are going to find the water resources they need.

MICHAEL SLATE: No matter what, it seems large-scale climate shifts are inevitable, in one form or another, and as to their impact, a lot of it is known, a lot of it is soon to be discovered. But you've talked about, and you've mentioned this a number of times, that there are contrarians out there. There are people who are these anti-global warming, anti-climate change, all this other stuff, saying it just doesn't exist. And you've done a remarkably good job in just dismissing these people more or less, saying, look, you can't pay attention to a bunch of clowns. But you've spoken about how scientists are actually the real skeptics. And that lends even greater strength to the IPCC report, that the science behind this report and the dire situations facing humanity in relation to global warming are real and accurate. While scientists are skeptics in terms of how they carry this stuff out, how they develop all this, they are not agnostic, and that this is actually true.

MICHAEL MANN: That's absolutely right. And there are individuals and groups, many of them associated with fossil fuel interests, or the Koch brothers, who fund a lot of these front groups that exist to try to poison the discussion of climate change, that exist to try to promote misinformation, disinformation, denial of the basic science of climate change. A lot of that is manufactured. It's well organized. It's funded by special interests like the Koch brothers, through organizations like the so-called Americans for Prosperity, etc. In my book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, I talk about my experiences at the center of the attacks from those organizations, those institutions who worked hard to try to discredit this iconic graph that I published a decade and a half ago, the so-called “hockey stick” curve. It became a sort of icon in the climate change debate because it very clearly demonstrated the unprecedented nature of recent warming. And because of that, it became an object of attack for those looking to discredit the science. I became an object of attack myself, and I tell my story in the book.

But one of the things I also talk about in the book is the issue of scientific skepticism. I have a chapter called, “A Candle in the Dark,” and it's an homage to Carl Sagan's wonderful book, The Demon-Haunted World, Science as a Candle in the Dark, where Sagan talks about true scientific skepticism, and he distinguishes it sharply from pseudo-skepticism, from contrarianism, from denial. People who reject the overwhelming scientific consensus about climate change aren't being skeptical. If you look at their arguments, the basis of their rejection of the mainstream science is the flimsiest of arguments that don't stand up to even the slightest bit of scientific scrutiny. That's not skepticism; that's the opposite of skepticism. But they'll often try to wear the mantle of skepticism. They'll try to present themselves as modern day Galileos, when in fact I think it's Sagan in his book that says something to the effect that, yes, they did laugh at Galileo. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. And you know what? You guys aren't Galileo.

So you have that, and I think a lot of that is becoming increasingly marginalized as it should in the discussion, and climate change deniers aren't quite getting the voice that they once did. Some media organizations are doing a better job in not falling prey to the fallacy of false balance, where if you're going to talk about the latest developments in planetary science, you don't invite somebody from NASA and somebody from the Flat Earth Society and have a debate. That's not the way it works. And it shouldn't work that way in climate science either, because the scientific community has reached very strong consensus. The problem's real; it's caused by us. There's a worthy debate to be had about what to do about this problem. That's what we should be discussing.

Interestingly enough, just earlier today, there was a report that China has now agreed to a cap-and-trade scheme. So now the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, in terms of aggregate emissions—they're lower than the U.S. in terms of per capita emissions—but the world's largest emitter, China, has now committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade scheme. It really means that other countries like us have no excuse. We can't point to China and say, well they're not doing anything about this problem.

Let's have that discussion. But as far as the science is concerned, true scientists who are skeptical recognize that there are things that are understood and relatively well settled, and that includes the fact that we're warming the planet and changing the climate and that it is a problem if we don't do something about it. And there are other things that are still uncertain and we're still trying to work out. We're still trying to understand, for example, how precisely climate change is going to impact phenomena like hurricanes and tornadoes. We still don't know the answer to that problem. We don't know yet exactly how climate change is going to influence the El Niño phenomenon. That's really important, because El Niño, as you know, living on the West Coast, has a profound influence from year to year on rainfall on the West Coast, and it has a profound influence on regional weather patterns around the world. So if we want to be able to make projections of changing weather patterns that stakeholders can take into account as they build adaptation strategies, we need to be able to better answer some of those questions.

So there's a broad area of research questions in climate science, where scientists like myself and my many colleagues are still working actively to figure these things out. What drives science, what’s interesting to us scientists isn't what's already known, it's the anomalies. It's the things that don't fit, and understanding them. In fact, I have a section in my book, “It's the Anomalies, Stupid.” Because that's really what drives scientific curiosity. It's not showing that the other guy was right, showing, yeah, everybody got this right. It's figuring out the thing that nobody else has yet been able to figure out. And that's driven intrinsically by skepticism, and critical assessments of scientific developments. So true good scientists are real skeptics. But the people who often try to pass themselves off as skeptics in the world of climate change denial are no such thing at all. They're the opposite of skeptics. They're contrarians; they're deniers; they are purveyors of pseudo science.

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Watching the Film Disruption and Engaging People Going to the Climate March

Get on the Buses Going to People's Climate March September 21

September 10, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Yesterday afternoon, I was in Revolution Books talking with some friends. A young man came in and started browsing. I asked him what brought him in and he said that he was with the Great March for Climate Action and they were coming through our city on the way to the big People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21. He said he had looked up the bookstore because he and some of his friends on the Great March for Climate Action were feeling that something radical is required to stop the destruction of the environment. And he was looking for answers. I explained that we agreed with him completely that something radically different is necessary and I introduced him to Bob Avakian (BA) and the movement for revolution we are building. We talked for a while. He was jazzed and bought the RCP’s Climate EMERGENCY pamphlet and a copy of Revolution newspaper. He said that the place where his group was staying locally was going to show a film that night, Disruption, produced by the environmental group 350.org to build support for the People’s Climate March. He invited those of us at Revolution Books to come.

After he left, we had a scheduled film showing of a clip from BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! When that ended, I asked if anyone in the store wanted to go to the showing of Disruption and follow up with these marchers for climate action. Everyone else said that they had things they needed to do. I decided that whatever I had to do, it was less important than bringing revolution to these front-line fighters in the battle against climate change. So I went to the film.

I think the same approach needs to be taken to the People’s Climate March itself. For at least some of us, nothing should be more important than bringing BA and revolution to those on the buses going to NYC. Information about buses can be found at 350.org – click on People’s Climate March and then Transportation.

The hunger for answers among many of the younger people struck me as soon as I arrived for the film. A number of them warmly welcomed me and said that they had already heard about the revolution from the young man who had come into Revolution Books. And they wanted to make sure I would have time to talk with them after the film showing.

There were about 40 people at the film showing with maybe a 50-50 split between young and older. Some were marchers, others were local people. The film makes a very powerful case for how far we have traveled down the road to climate disaster and how urgent it is to act now to stop it. And it argues that it will take millions in the street to do this. It repeatedly goes back to the giant anti-nuke rally of the early ’80s and the huge civil rights rallies of the ’60s as the yardstick for what will be necessary to change things today. And it calls on everyone to be in the streets in NYC on September 21 to deliver an equally powerful message to the UN.

After the film, there was a discussion in which a whole range of ideas came out about what it will take to stop this climate disaster. An older guy from moveon.org started out arguing that the key thing to do right now is to ensure that the Democrats keep control of the Senate. Others argued that more people needed to grow their own food. Fairly early on, I spoke and made a few points – starting with uniting with the urgency everyone felt – and which the movie so clearly conveyed: that the destruction of the environment has to stop right now. And exactly because the stakes are so high, we have to seriously dig into what is actually causing this crisis and what it will take to stop and reverse it. I explained that only a revolution that replaces capitalism-imperialism and its dog-eat-dog competition for profit with an economic system based on meeting the needs of the people and being fit caretakers of the earth can accomplish this. I agreed that massive outpourings of resistance are extremely important. But I argued that equally important is what these massive outpourings are trying to accomplish. And this is where the film Disruption goes off the tracks. The argument in the film – both implicitly and explicitly – is that if this NYC climate demo is just big enough it will scare those in power into changing their policies and saving the environment. But if you just think about what is presented in the film itself – this is clearly not true. Yes, there was a huge anti-nuke rally in the ’80s, but nothing fundamentally changed and today the U.S. is still nuked to the gills (which the film conveniently does NOT mention). Yes, there was a massive MLK-led march on Washington in 1964, but today schools in the U.S. are more segregated than they were back then and life continues to be hell for the large majority of Black people – as so powerfully demonstrated by recent events in Ferguson, Missouri. We can’t settle for “easy” answers that don’t take us out of our comfort zone or challenge our illusions about what this system is really all about. We have to be so determined to actually stop this pending disaster that, as we are standing together to fight against all these attacks on the environment, we are also willing to dig into and struggle over whether a revolution is necessary to solve this.

Putting the need for a revolution on the table changed the whole character of the discussion because people now felt they needed to respond to that. One woman attacked it – arguing that nobody will listen to “the far left” and what is needed is locally controlled communities in the cities. Another guy defended the idea that something radically different is required to solve this problem – and that is definitely not capitalism. Some people picked up on the need for everyone to unite in struggling against climate change. One guy argued that there was a spiritual basis for people to “come together as one.” Another woman went out of her way to say that she was all for the unity part, she did not like all the disagreement and struggle – and she felt that people should be accepted for who they are.

As the discussion wound down, I made one more point because I was worried by how the framework for many people’s remarks was what “we should do in America.” I pointed out that the U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population but consumes 25 percent of the world’s wealth and that no approach to solving the climate problem that leaves that grotesque lopsidedness intact will produce anything good for the vast majority of humanity: another reason why we need a total revolution aimed at liberating all of humanity.

As the meeting broke up, people came over to talk to me and get copies of the leaflet “People’s Climate March: A Call to ALL those Who Want to ’Change Everything’” and the issue of Revolution newspaper (#350-351) with the Cornel West/BA Dialogue on the cover. 

People wanted to know more about this revolution. A local couple who are sociology professors are taking a group of students to NYC as part of a project to poll young people and learn what they are thinking about the climate crisis. And a lot of their questions have to do with whether people see this as a product of the capitalist system. We talked about this and I asked if they had questions that probed how people understand how capitalism works. I pointed out that a lot of the “Occupy” generation have a sense of there being a super-rich 1% that owns everything and amass great wealth from corporate profits. But do they understand that as rich as these folks might be, they must continually battle to get even richer or they will get swallowed up by some meaner, leaner capitalists? That’s why you can’t make the rich “play nice” or the capitalist system function on any other basis than “expand or die.” They thought this was an important question to add to their survey and they invited me to come and visit them on campus and perhaps speak in their classes.

At a certain point we had to leave the main room, so a number of the youth asked me to stay longer and talk in a smaller room nearby. Here we dug more deeply into who BA is and what the revolution is all about. The question of epistemology (how do we understand what is true) was a central part of our discussion. BA’s breakthroughs on epistemology – with his emphasis on leading the masses to be able to distinguish between what is and what is not true about the world – all this was very attractive to a number of these young people. Especially since they are feeling the need to really go out and struggle with people to put aside a lot of illusions and confront the truth about this climate crisis – to confront the fact that something radically different has to be brought into being and there is very little time left to act if we are going to avoid a complete disaster for humanity. They are having less patience with “well, most people don’t agree with you” and solutions that are the equivalent of fighting a raging forest fire with a bucket of water and a teaspoon. And there was some sharp struggle with one person who was making a lot of assertions about things that they really didn’t have much knowledge about.

At a certain point we had to end. But they inquired if I would be available to meet with them again before they left and have more of a panel-type discussion of the problem and solution. I told them, sure, and will be in touch with them to work out where and when.

People were eager to learn about both the crew of revolutionaries who have been down in Ferguson since the start of the uprising there, and the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders who have been on the front lines fighting for women’s rights in Texas. I also made sure that everyone I talked to got info about the really historic Cornel West/BA Dialogue coming up in NYC on November 15.  Some asked how to get tickets and one person said right then and there that he was going to be in NYC at that time, so he was definitely coming. 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/no-solutions-in-gender-studies-one-solution-for-humanity-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

"No Solutions" in Gender Studies—One Solution for Humanity

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A comment from a reader:

Today in one of my Gender Studies classes (which is actually pretty interesting!) my classmate asked what the solution was if the state so successfully dissipates dissent through inclusion, like "a black president." My professor responded, "There are no solutions," and then class was over. She didn't even claim to have any! So the solution is literally to suffer? Awesome. Sounds great. Where has THAT "leadership" been my whole life!? Ughh.

I told that student that the solution was clear! This system isn't somehow corrupted; the state power hasn't fallen into the wrong hands: THE SYSTEM IS WORKING EXACTLY HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO. WE NEED A RADICALLY DIFFERENT STATE POWER, the DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT. So no solutions? Nope. That's not a thing. It's more like ONE SOLUTION: REVOLUTION!!! You know what her response was? "That's extreme!" OMG. You know what's extreme??? Telling a class full of concerned faces and swelling minds there are "no solutions." You know what's extreme!??? Capitalism's death toll! The emergency of our planet! The situation for the vast majority of humanity whose dreams are under attack by this system!

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/project-censored-radio-show-why-even-left-leaning-media-censored-the-abortion-rights-freedom-ride-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Project Censored Radio Show:

Why even "left-leaning" media censored the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following RUSH TRANSCRIPT is from the September 2, 2014 Project Censored Radio Show hosted by Mickey Huff and Dr. Peter Phillips (which airs on the progressiveradionetwork.com out of New York City). Sunsara Taylor is from StopPatriarchy.org and revcom.us and Dennis Trainor is from Acronym TV.

 

Mickey Huff: You were recently arrested for your actions in Texas. Please tell listeners why you are there and what you are doing and a little more about Stop Patriarchy.

Sunsara Taylor: Hi Mickey, thanks for having me on. I am down in Texas with StopPatriarchy.org and the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, we've been down here about a month, traveling across the state, rallying people to stand up for women's right for abortion. The main reason is we are currently in a countdown to the greatest round of abortion clinic closures to hit a single state since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion over 40 years ago.

Texas had 46 abortion clinics in 2011 and on September 1 of this year they are scheduled to close down all but 6 or 7 of the clinics. This is going to be devastating for women across Texas, but it is also a major precedent being set in a national war against women's right to abortion so that is why we are down here. And we went into the streets on Wednesday, a number of us, in front of the UT campus on the first day of classes to challenge young people and students, this is their future, one in three women will get an abortion and these rights are being stripped from them right now. This is a watershed moment what is being molded into place. And it is time for people to step out of their comfort zones, out of their routine and put something on the line.

We've seen that we cannot rely on the courts and we cannot rely on the politicians to protect women's most fundamental rights to decide for themselves if they are going to have children. And so a number of us were in the streets, a number of students gathered and watched, some students came into the streets with us, at one point the police singled some of us out and arrested us, we spent the night in jail. It's not the greatest place to be but we were happy and very proud to be standing up for women at this critical juncture and many need to join us and do the same.

Peter Philips: Sunsara Taylor hi, this is Peter Philips. You were arrested last weekend on the 27th and you were actually standing in the middle of the street in downtown Austin, Guadalupe St. I've seen pictures of that and this is from your website and others but I have heard no coverage of this in corporate media whatsoever. So how are you getting the word out and that, of course, will lead into Dennis's part of this so talk a little bit about that.

Sunsara Taylor: You know what is interesting, Peter, is that there has actually been some significant coverage in the local news and the national news. In Texas the Austin Statesman did a very powerful video of what we did on Wednesday, a number of places, Univision has covered it extensively, the whole month of activity. What has been most striking is that there has been a resounding silence almost across the board by the so-called "progressive" or "left" media.

A lot of it I think stems from the fact that the main Democratic platform has been to be silent and let these closures happen and a lot of the "pro-choice" movements are very tied in to the electoral strategy and frankly down in Texas this is Wendy Davis's campaign for governor. You know, Wendy Davis has made a big point of not talking about abortion and most people in Texas don't even know these clinics are closing, that is what we've found as we've gone out across the state.

So while there has been some coverage, there should be more in the mainstream or corporate media as you call it. But what may have been the most shocking is how much, even many of the outlets, "progressive" and "left" outlets that have covered Stop Patriarchy and last summer's Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, this summer they have almost universally suppressed this story. There is no news on the civil disobedience and arrest that happened August 11, two weeks ago, and five arrests just a couple days ago. There is no coverage of the fact that this law is going into effect and that there is a major effort that involves many national abortion providers in this country and people throughout Texas standing up and resisting this. It has been ignored, and as well as ignored it has been suppressed.

Mickey Huff: Let's get to this suppression. Dennis Trainor of Acronym TV. Sunsara and I spoke earlier in the week and she told me a story of your coverage of her and Stop Patriarchy and so on. Tell us a little about your experience with the interview that you did.

Dennis Trainor: Absolutely, thanks for having me on. We had Sunsara on to talk about the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride when the ride began, and we produce and distribute our show across Free Speech TV and their web site and in addition cable networks. We distribute to many websites including my own known as Popular Resistance. We have a kind of informal syndication with many websites, one of them being Truth Out, that regularly publishes my work and that is coming to the point of the suppression here.

In the beginning of our half hour show there is an introduction where I explain to viewers passionately why I was a supporter of and a signatory of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and why I was proud to be among other people, and then we did the interview.

The editor I usually work with at Truth Out was incredibly moved by the interview, by the piece, by the subject and it was slated to be published "above the fold" in digital media terms, on the front page of Truth Out, where it did land, I am told, for 20 or 25 minutes before it was pulled.

And it took me several days to get an explanation. The most forthcoming explanation I got was the piece was deemed to be an inappropriate endorsement of the organization Stop Patriarchy. Now what is hypocritical about that statement is the fact that a shorter clip, a 3 minute clip, in which I introduce my interview of Sunsara in which I explicitly endorse Stop Patriarchy, that video and text was left up on the website—but not the total interview with Sunsara.

That is just one example of how the story is being suppressed from my end. What I saw as I was preparing to do this interview and other people on the left found out I was going to do this interview is people were saying "Don't get involved with Stop Patriarchy, don't endorse Stop Patriarchy." There were journalists going down there to expose Stop Patriarchy, warned me that my credibility, which I have taken years to build up, was going to be called into question. And the best narrative that I can come up with to explain all this is that people are either directly linked to the Democratic Party or they are self-censoring based on their idea of the politics of what they think is possible.

So that's where we are right now. Why I think Stop Patriarchy is seeing so much resistance in the streets and in the media for this summer's Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

Mickey Huff: Well Dennis Trainor, perhaps also as we saw in Ferguson, MO where Carl Dix was specifically targeted by the police chief there for arrest, Carl Dix no strangers to civil rights issues and also co-founder of the Revolutionary Communist Party of which Sunsara Taylor is also a member.

Sunsara Taylor: I am a supporter.

Mickey Huff: I'm sorry. Thank you for the clarification. Might that have anything to do with it, in your estimation?

Dennis Trainor: Absolutely, it directly has to do with it. I think the person who spoke most eloquently of this is a woman named Diane Derzis who runs the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, and where Sunsara and Stop Patriarchy made a stop in the 2013 Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. As I was doing background for my interview with Sunsara, I spoke with her and she said she got called and she got emailed and was told, "The commies are coming, the commies are coming." She said, you know, if they are going to stand up and help keep my clinic open I am happy they are coming.

Mickey Huff: It sounds common sense to us, Dennis.

Sunsara Taylor: I do want to add there is definitely a campaign of vitriol and slander against the Revolutionary Communist Party. It is very COINTELPRO. A lot of it is on Twitter. It is on social media. There are articles and slander about "outside agitators." All this sort of thing. I just want to fill out the picture just on the censorship.

The group calling itself "Texas for Reproductive Justice" formed just for the sole effort of wrecking and opposing the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and they never once mention that this round of clinic closures is about to happen. They don't once mention the emergency confronting Texas and the country. Instead it is a hatchet job, rumors, tabloid-style rumors and slanders and misrepresentations of both Stop Patriarchy and the Revolutionary Communist Party and Bob Avakian the leader of that party in particular.

And then this group, it is interesting... One of the main people behind it went on to publish articles... There was an article that Alternet commissioned from one of their own writers that covered what the Freedom Riders had done, that article was finished and submitted but it was never published. Instead Alternet picked up on a hatchet job written by one of the main forces behind this Texans for Reproductive Justice and has been publishing these attacks—anti-communist attacks, anti-Freedom Ride attacks. And that is getting wide-spread play, actually. Salon.com published an article by the same author.

When we asked for a chance to respond they said there was no way they would let a group write an article about itself, which is exactly what they did when they let this person publish an attack on us in the name of objectively reporting on slanders and rumors that she herself self-created.

I just wanted to fill out a pattern of repression and a misrepresentation and I definitely think the idea... Look, many people on the "left" have a lot invested in being the "franchise managers" in the fight against oppression but they really have tremendous animus for the Revolutionary Communist Party and Bob Avakian in particular because this is a party and this is a leader that is about not just opposing but getting rid of the very root of the horrors of this system. They are trying to create a situation where revolutionary forces get isolated and other people are scared away from even standing up against this emergency because "You will be associated with the communists."

And on both counts it is just outrageous in principle; it creates a whole atmosphere where people don't know the crimes being done against women right now and are not able to stand up against it. And it creates an atmosphere where the forces of state repression have a lot more water to swim around in and cause great harm including the kind of thing you were reporting on last week with Carl Dix and others being singled out for arrest and that sort of thing.

Mickey Huff: Sunsara Taylor it is like a neo-McCarthyism among progressives and again Peter Philips and I are not members of the Revolutionary Communist Party but we have noticed that when we have covered certain issues and so forth on Project Censored we have drawn ire of some of these groups and so forth. Institute for Policy Studies springs to mind, which is not to say that these organizations or individuals don't do good work in other areas, certainly Truth Out does, but it pains us, if we're going to be honest and if we're going to hold ourselves to the same standard against censorship then we have to speak out about these types of efforts to silence people and to skew and attack people. We do have common cause.

Peter Philips: Sunsara we're almost out of time but you are there, you are one of the organizers of Stop Patriarchy, a number of other activists are with you, young women. It seems an attack on you personally for maybe your ideological orientations versus the issues that are being played out here, the closing of abortion clinics here in Texas that in a massive way undermines any liberal media organization to not cover that particularly undermines the issues at hand, the closing of abortion clinics.

Sunsara Taylor: You are absolutely right. I think it is important because obviously this is an attack on us, those of us associated with the Revolutionary Communist Party and those associated with the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and that should be opposed by everybody on the principles that Mickey laid out. People should learn, they should defy that slander and they should go to revcom.us and they should learn about the Party or StopPatriarchy.org and learn about that organization.

But it has the added effect you are describing, Peter, at a watershed moment, one of the greatest moves backwards in women's right to abortion and reproductive freedom that has happened in over 40 years and this is an attempt and an attack to keep people from looking at what is being done to women's lives and standing up fighting against this. And it is very, very dangerous and damaging because it is not a communist narrative. It is something communists care about but it is not a "communist narrative" or something we've made up, that this is a high stakes moment for women.

This is actually why huge numbers of women who are not communists have united with us and are standing up with us in the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride but many of them have faced exactly what Dennis has said and what he's faced. He is not a Communist either but he was told if you stand up and you associate with these people, your credibility will be dragged through the mud, there were threats issued against him and others and this is very, very damaging and everyone should be concerned and speak out against.

Mickey Huff: Sunsara Taylor from StopPatriarchy.org Abortion Rights Freedom Ride in Texas thank you very much for joining us and telling us your story. Dennis Trainor I am sorry that we are out of time right now. Acronym TV. But Dennis Trainor, thank you for coming on and sharing your story and for taking the courageous stance you did for free speech.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/awtwns-annexing-territories-and-cutting-off-heads--what-really-are-western-values-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

From A World to Win News Service

Annexing territories and cutting off heads—what, really, are Western values?

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

September 8, 2014. A World to Win News Service. U.S. President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have used the events in Ukraine and the beheading of two hostages by the Islamic State (Da'ash) to portray themselves not as predators fighting other predators but fighters for certain moral standards.

What values do the U.S., the UK and other Western powers really stand for? What distinguishes these two men, their governments and the countries they represent, from their enemies?

When is annexation wrong?

At the September NATO summit conference in Wales, Obama lambasted Russia's "incursion" into Ukraine as "unacceptable." Cameron denounced Russian "aggression." NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on Russia to "end its illegal and self-declared annexation of Crimea."

Why, then, is it "acceptable" for the U.S. and UK to have invaded Iraq and occupied Iraq? Or for these two powers plus NATO to have invaded Afghanistan, which they occupy to this day? Or to have sent their air forces and special forces to overthrow the regime in Libya? Weren't these war crimes whose disastrous effects—from the point of view of the interests of humanity—are still building?

As for "annexation," where would the U.S. and UK be without it? Britain annexed Ireland and still occupies northern Ireland. After an American "incursion" across its northern border, in an act of "self-declared annexation" Mexico was robbed of what is now most of the western United States. Later the U.S. invaded and took over the Philippines and Cuba, and eventually annexed Guam and Puerto Rico.

After having accomplished all this during their "nation-building" period, the U.S. and UK have gone along with other reactionary annexations when it suited their interests—for instance, the Indonesian annexation of Timor and the Moroccan annexation of the Western Sahara. These illegal takeovers were condemned by the UN, but there were no NATO threats or sanctions by "the international community" against the perpetrators, because these regimes were important for Western world domination. Why is Russia being held to a different standard, if not because it is a rival?

And of course, when it comes to annexations and incursions, what about Israel? The UN declared that Israel's 1968 annexation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights is illegal, and the U.S. government has agreed, but if it is true, as Obama warns Russia, that "actions have consequences," where are the consequences for Israel?

Just after the recent ceasefire in Gaza (which Israel also annexed and occupied, and still treats like a conquered territory where it has the last word—how Putin-like!), the Israeli government announced the appropriation of 400 hectares [about 15.5 square miles] in the West Bank, south of Bethlehem. Ten Palestinian families live on this land, covered with their olive tree orchards. The U.S. State Department said, "We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity."

But what are the "consequences"—for instance, the sanctions? Obama has pledged no cutbacks in military aid to Israel and the Congress has already approved his request for $3.1 billion in 2015.

When should an atrocity be called an atrocity?

"This is a despicable and barbaric murder," Cameron blustered about the beheading of American freelance journalist James Foley. "No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day," said Obama, meeting religious fundamentalism with a vow of vengeance stated in religious terms.

But it seems that how wrong it is to behead people depends on who does it.

During the time that Foley was being held hostage, from his capture in November 2012 to his murder in August, Saudi Arabia beheaded at least 113 people, including 17 people in the two weeks just before Foley's death. (This was first pointed out by the UK website Private Eye using figures from Amnesty International.) Capital crimes in Saudi Arabia include armed robbery, adultery, apostasy, rape, witchcraft and sorcery and sedition.

Where are the "consequences"? When Obama met Saudi Arabian King Abdullah for the third time last March, they discussed Iran and Syria. Presumably, Obama didn't tell the medieval monarch that his god is unjust. "Our strategic interests are much more aligned than different," was all that a U.S. official would tell the New York Times about the contents of that conversation. Obama's government sold Abdullah the biggest arms shipment of all time in 2010 ($60 billion worth).

Saudi Arabia provided Islamist cover for the first U.S. invasion of Iraq, and Obama needs the support of these head-cutters (and those of the Free Syrian Army, the Western-favoured "moderate opposition" that also beheads prisoners) for his "coalition" against the Islamic State.

The U.S. doesn't need to cut off heads with swords. It has drones and other aircraft that can be sent to "decapitate" its perceived enemies, sometimes literally. Obama has spent his time in office burning people to death and blowing them to pieces through drone raids in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and now Iraq. According to the London City University-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a decade of American air strikes has left at least 2,500 Pakistanis dead, including many hundreds of people recognized as civilians. Drones routinely hit homes, cars, schools, markets and religious and social gatherings.

Obama brags about his drones, makes jokes about threatening people with them and has tried to make his signature, the sign of his difference with his predecessors when it comes to foreign policy—his own "surgical" sharp sword. As though the high moral ground was at cruise altitude.

Since you won't find many videos of U.S. air strikes online, here's a description of what they do: "Sahib Jin, a 25-year-old neighbour, was one of the first to reach the groom's house after the bombardment. Bodies were lying all over the two courtyards and in the adjoining orchard, some of them in pieces. Human flesh hung in the trees. A woman's torso was lodged in an almond sapling." After a 2002 wedding in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan ended with survivors "collecting body parts in buckets." In 2009, under Obama, U.S. war planes killed 147 people in the village of Granai. (Carlotta Gall, The Wrong Enemy, 2014)

But not all U.S. killing is so hi-tech. The New York Times reporter Gall also brought to light the story of Dilawar, an Afghan taxi driver arrested for driving past an American military base, chained to a ceiling and beaten to death over five days. The autopsy revealed that Dilawar's legs had been "pulpified." The same team of "interrogators" was deployed at Abu Ghraib, one of the U.S. military prisons and torture centres from which the current head of the Islamic State and other leaders emerged.

Anyone who follows news from the U.S. knows that execution by lethal injection can be even more barbaric than cutting off heads. In the last few months two men were basically tortured to death, subject to "excruciating pain" over the course of 43 minutes for one and an hour and forty minutes for the other. Nor is it any less medieval to hold 2.3 million people in prison, often spending years and even decades "entombed," as Amnesty International recently put it. What are lives, especially non-white lives, worth in the U.S.? Local police have killed many hundreds of people in the last decade, and yet Obama's government says it can provide no statistics on the subject. Doesn't that tell you what you need to know about "Western values"?

The Islamists beheaded the journalist Foley for political ends and to send a political message. The U.S., like the world's imperialist and other reactionary governments, kills for the same reasons, abroad and at home. No violent act is beyond them—the only question is what, at a given moment, suits their exploitative interests and their oppressive political power.

Obama said, "One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century." That is true. And it is also true that all the imperialist states, including his own and those of his rivals, and the whole world capitalist-imperialist system that has spawned religious fundamentalism, are no less outmoded, not champions of "humanitarian" values but world champions of crimes against humanity.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/awtwns-international-readings-demand-liberty-and-recognition-for-edward-snowden-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

From A World to Win News Service

International readings demand "liberty and recognition" for Edward Snowden

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

8 September 2014. A World to Win News Service. At the initiative of the International Literature Festival Berlin (ilb), readings in support of Edward Snowden were held at universities, libraries, bookstores, theatres, street corners and other venues around the world on 8 September.

Events were held in Austria, Colombia, France, Germany (47 events), Greece, Iceland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa (organized by South Africa PEN, the writers' organization), the UK (Wales), the U.S. and other countries, many simultaneously (at 1700 UTC [Coordinated Universal Time]). Some were broadcast on radio or live Web streaming.

The call for this global speak-out hailed Snowden for his leaking of secret U.S. National Security Agency files that revealed the extent of the American government's spying on millions and perhaps billions of individuals. It demanded that the U.S. lift all legal charges against him and that the European Union member states immediately grant him asylum at least until that happens and as long as he may need it. It asked that Snowden be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The long list of writers, poets, playwrights and other intellectuals who signed the call includes prominent figures and others from every continent.

Some of the events featured readings by well-known authors, such as the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Elfriede Jelinek in Drösing, Austria, and the British novelist Marina Warner, who read excerpts from Snowden's texts at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris. The faculty at the University of Rostock (Germany) asked that Snowden be awarded an honorary doctorate. The University of Massachusetts Masters in Fine Arts and Honors programmes and another Boston university provided a platform for 33 writers, scholars and students. A reading in San Francisco was sponsored by the antiwar organizations Code Pink and The World Can't Wait. (literaturfestival.com)

 

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.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/reports-from-ferguson-city-council-meeting-erupts-36-arrested-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Reports from Ferguson: City Council Meeting Erupts, 36 Arrested Demanding Justice for Michael Brown

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolution/revcom.us received the following reports from Ferguson:

Ferguson City Council Meeting Erupts – “Cool Out” Package Backfires

One month after the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a City Council meeting was held that was covered by the national media. Over 500 people attended. You could almost hear a sigh of relief in an article in the New York Times the day before the meeting. Local authorities offered a package of reforms and reform proposals aimed at cooling out people's anger over Mike Brown's murder and the outrage that the killer cop Darren Wilson still walks free. But the City Council and its cosmetic reforms were widely met with contempt and unleashed a torrent of deep-spoken bitterness at years of abuse and brutality at the hands of the police and government authorities.

You got a taste of the "new, kinder face" of Ferguson right off the bat when you entered the City Council meeting. The public was greeted by a heavy police presence. Revcom.us posters with the demands for justice around Mike Brown's murder were confiscated.

The City Council's reform package includes a citizen-police review board, hiring more Black cops in their overwhelming white force, and modifying a set-up where 25 percent of city revenue comes from court fines from warrants issued for things like missed court dates on traffic infractions which the youth are the main victims of.

The City Council meeting, aimed at cooling people down and restoring badly frayed legitimacy, boomeranged. A deep reservoir of anger at racism and police abuse erupted. People told stories of children being tear-gassed and terrorized; a mother brutalized and arrested in front of young children who were then left in the car as she was hauled away; young men routinely being stopped and humiliated; people following the procedures and reporting police abuses to city authorities only to be scorned and disrespected.

One speaker talked about the police department and city authorities being like the KKK. The stench of old-style, straight-up racism is strong here. The city of Ferguson, which is 67 percent Black, has a white mayor and four out of five council members are white. Of the 53 cops in Ferguson, only three are Black.

One speaker put it straight-up to the City Council: "You've lost your authority to govern this community." There were some comments expressing hopefulness in these reforms or, more often, in voting out these City Council members. The combination of the paltriness of these proposed reforms, the lack of trust in the city and county authorities, and the reality of killer cop Darren Walker still walking free, all represented another failure of the system to quell people's anger.

A representative for the Michael Brown family asked a simple question: Why has nothing happened to the killer cop, Darren Wilson? Was the City Council still paying him? The question was dodged, but it is known that Wilson has not been fired and is on paid leave. The demand to indict and arrest Wilson was a central demand that got spoken to repeatedly in people's comments and in yells from the audience. Mike Brown's murder, and the powerful rebellion against it, has brought all of this to the surface in a way that is precious to people who want justice, and is horrifying to the authorities.

A revolutionary spoke about how people's stories told a deep truth and would outrage anyone in the world with a conscience—what's been described as the front end of a whole program of criminalization and mass incarceration; how the youth, endlessly and viciously demonized, have stood up with responsibility and courage impacting all society; that justice means indicting and jailing the killer cop and we can take that fight further by getting with the Stop Mass Incarceration Month of Resistance.

The very next day after this City Council meeting, I got an up-close and personal view of how youths in this area are dogged and criminalized by being trapped in the system of warrants and fines, which was a big issue at the council meeting and in the proposed "reforms."

I was in the county lock-up with about 40 other people being processed after being arrested at the I-70 Highway action that afternoon. Most in the lock-up are Black youths. After being held for several hours, everyone was brought out of the holding cells and lined up in the large day room. The head jail guard runs down a lengthy explanation about how, while many will be processed out, many others ain't going nowhere because they have outstanding warrants. And then he starts to run down how those who have outstanding warrants will have to start running the wheel of warrants and fines. You have to first call the town that has a warrant out for you to find out how much you owe there (and do the same for other towns in many cases). Then start calling people to get the money to pay off the fines. For example, if you've missed a court appearance for a bullshit traffic stop, you got an additional $50 "warrant recall fee" and a $15 "notification fee" to pay off in whatever town you were arrested in before you can get out of jail. It is common for people to be held on warrants and end up being transferred from one town police station to the next town until the fines can get paid off and warrants cleared.

A common yet bitter joke among Black people in Ferguson is—only Black people must drive cars around here because that's all you ever see at Traffic Court. Likely underestimating this, a 2013 Missouri Attorney General's report found that Ferguson police stopped and arrested Black drivers nearly twice as often as white motorists, but were less likely to find contraband among the Black drivers.

An attorney explained that fines and subsequent warrants stem from traffic citations but also from things like a non-returned Blockbuster DVD from years ago!

Back at jail, lines form at the telephone to start the process. But, wait, before you use the phone you must fill out a registration form; go to a separate phone so it can take a voice print; go to another phone where you enter a PIN and it verifies that your voice print matches. Then you can make a call.

A brother who has been fired from two jobs already because of his involvement in the rebellion is told he has a warrant, so won't be going to a job interview he fought to get the next day. A man with diabetes is sent back to the holding cell because he has a warrant for what he guesses might be for a petty theft from 1992. A young man was distraught because he won't get out until who knows when to be able to see his two-day-old daughter. A white guy says he's sure he has no warrant in St. Louis (where he's informed a warrant was issued), but "my Pops who lives there has the same name."

I ask a young photographer grabbed up during the protest—do you feel criminalized yet? He references a comment from the City Council meeting the night before. Pointing to the jail guards, he says, "This is illegitimate."

Think about where this process leads. It's not accidental and it amounts to entry-level criminalization. A Black man in jail for protesting commented on the vicious irony in this: that education—supposedly the channel for oppressed youth to get ahead—is funded on the backs of youth being messed over and trapped in the racist justice system.

More than one of the arrestees commented that all these arrests, and then the whole fine and warrant process keeping people locked up for days and weeks, as well as several people facing heavy charges who may not get out at all, are part of a strategy to break, or at least get off the streets, the youths who have been in the forefront of the struggle to get justice after the murder of Mike Brown.

This cannot be allowed to happen to front-line fighters whose actions have issued a wake-up and stand-up call against injustice to all of society. ALL the charges on those arrested during the rebellion must be dropped, and all must be released from jail immediately.

36 Arrested at Hwy 70 Demanding Justice for Mike Brown

Ferguson, September 10, 2014

Ferguson, September 10, 2014

September 10, 2014. 250 people participated in a defiant action at an entrance to Highway 70 near St. Louis to demand justice for Michael Brown. People chanted, "No Justice, No Peace" and "Indict, Arrest, Send the Killer Cop to Jail, the Whole Damn System is Guilty as Hell." People marched into the street and faced off with the police for over two hours. People linked arms and did a "Hands up, Don't Shoot" die-in. 36 people were arrested. Some protesters marched to the Ferguson Police Station, where a crowd of 75 people took over the street. Photos: Special to Revolution/revcom.us

Ferguson, Missouri, September 10, 2014. Thirty-six people were arrested at an entry to Highway 70 near St. Louis as people's outrage and determination to find justice continues to alternately simmer and erupt. This action was organized as a highway blockade by a coalition of forces, many of which have mainly been working to cool out the youths' defiance and constrain street protests. While the highway blockade did not materialize, 250 people came out and powerfully expressed their refusal to back down or wait for justice for Michael Brown to come from the system.

People gathered at an entry-exit intersection with I-70. There were huge contingents of Missouri Highway Patrol and St. Louis County Police. Many youths who have been in the streets since Mike Brown's murder were there. People chanted, "If we can't get some [justice], shut it down," "No Justice, No Peace," and "Indict, Arrest, Send the Killer Cop to Jail, the Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell." Many people held revcom.us posters with the demands—"Indict and jail the killer cop! Fire the police chief! Full Accounting of what happened immediately! Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution!" Another demand voiced was for the removal of St. Louis County prosecutor, Robert P. McCulloch.

Soon people, many of whom were young women, were marching into the street and right up into the enforcers' faces. The confrontation went on for over two hours as people refused to leave in the face of the cops arresting protesters, with people linking arms, doing a "Hands up, Don't Shoot" die-in, and squads of pigs running into the crowd and chasing defiant youths into surrounding apartment complexes.

Even as the confrontation was still raging, some of the protesters began heading over to the Ferguson police station, where a crowd of 75 people took over the street. Initially, the police kept their distance from the crowd, but eventually positioned themselves to attack the protest. The youthful crowd, mainly young women, chanted: "We're young, we're strong, we're marching all night long!" "Hey, hey, ho, ho, killer cops have go to go!" and rather than retreat, they defiantly faced off with police until the police decided to back off. Tension continued until 6:20 pm when a thunderstorm descended on Ferguson and dispersed the crowd.

I got a chance to talk to many arrestees in jail. One young man, one of the "defiant ones," told me his story. How three family members, including his older brother, have been killed by the police, and his sick girlfriend clubbed in the head by a cop. Humiliating run-ins with cops were too numerous to count. One night during the rebellion, he was grabbed by cops and then arrested when he refused to give information about youths the cops were searching for. "I would rather die than snitch." Since the rebellion began on August 9, he has been fired from two jobs; one was explicitly political retaliation for his role in the rebellion after an employer saw his picture in the news. He is now homeless and living in his car, where he was tear-gassed one night. He was not planning to risk arrest this time, but when a new, younger protester got grabbed, he said he couldn't leave her side.

A young musician has essentially uprooted and moved to Ferguson and Canfield Avenue (where Mike Brown was murdered) after the rebellion began. He talked about the unity forged in the rebellion between different street organizations, and he sounded the alarm about threats by the police to demolish the memorial at the murder site (cops have already driven through it at least one time). This cannot go down, and the people at Canfield cannot be left to do this alone. In jail cell discussion, he exposed the bigger picture of the murder and criminalization of youth, and challenged the illusion from others that the Highway Patrol Black police captain (Ron Johnson) was there to help. The October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation and the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality on October 22 were announced, which he liked. But then he pointedly said—if the grand jury comes down with the wrong decision before, we aren't waiting until October 22.

The revolution crew here is talking about how the October Month of Resistance might make the grand jury announcement in Ferguson (expected in early to mid-October) a day of national action.

A small, middle-aged woman talked about being jumped on by four cops and arrested as she walked out of her apartment. "How can I trespass [which people were originally being charged with] right outside my home?" Several of those arrested were not part of the protest. One was an older diabetic man (his cellies demanded he get food, which he got), and a young man picking up his son at the Metro-Link stop nearby.

There were a number of young Black women arrested. Also, several white people were in the (jail) house, including a well-known minister who runs a homeless shelter; a young Anonymous supporter wearing a Guy Fawkes mask; an older progressive activist on his bike; and a young photographer.

Most arrestees were finally released late that night. But for others, including four people facing charges of assaulting a police officer, and many held on warrants, this was just the beginning.

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Reporter's Notebook from Ferguson

Talking to the People About Revolution

September 11, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On August 29, revolutionaries went out to talk to people in Ferguson, in the neighborhood where Michael Brown was killed. This was a day of many rich conversations where revolutionaries learned a lot. It was a day when many people who had met the revolutionaries out protesting in the streets got to know more about the movement for revolution, the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party he leads. This was a day of people starting to get with this movement for revolution. A reporter from Revolution/revcom.us was there and filed this report:

 

A handful of revolutionaries accompanied by a youth from Ferguson went to Canfield Green, a complex of wood and brick apartments set on a wide street surrounded by green lawns and trees full of thousands of chirping crickets. They brought posters “We Stand with the Defiant Ones,” and a poster with the demands: “Indict and jail the killer cop, fire the police chief, and a complete accounting of all that happened.”  Everyone they met got at least one poster and a copy of Revolution newspaper.

One youth, XX, who came out with the revolutionaries, had been out at the protests in the first days. He really liked and respected the role revolutionaries played in the protests and had marched with them several times – he liked the chants. Later he had listened to the New Year’s message from Bob Avakian and had been challenged to get involved with the revolution. When asked if he knew anyone who could grill, for the picnic the revolutionaries were planning to have on Labor Day he said, “I'm the grill man! You're talking to him.” Out in the neighborhood he helped talk to people and made recommendations for where to go.

The memorial in the middle of the street where Michael Brown's blood had flowed, has become a destination for those who are outraged by the murder and inspired by the resistance, with people coming from hundreds of miles away to see the place where Michael Brown’s young life was so brutally ended.

We met a woman who works in real estate and had been witness to the aftermath of Michael's murder. She talked to us about the recent history of brutality and murder involving law enforcement in the area.

We met a couple who had come from Illinois. The man had on a T-shirt depicting Olympic champions Tommie Smith and John Carlos raising their fists at the 1968 Olympics. When he learned that some people had come from Oakland to stand with the people of Ferguson, he said he had always wanted to go there, because it was the birth place of the Black Panther Party. He said, “The Black Panther Party was originally organized to patrol the neighborhood against police who were not there to serve and protect but to pick up and harass. Same thing happening here. We need to change, we don't want to go backwards. I'm concerned because this happens all over. They've indicted Michael Brown, smeared his memory, but not the officer who killed him. There is a culture of killing young Black men that needs to stop.”

Two young men, 20 and 26, came walking up the sidewalk asked what the revolutionaries were handing, out and when they saw the posters they took some to put up and to give to others. One said he had joined the protests after he saw that it was a demand for justice and that the authorities weren't giving justice. The other youth said “I ain't never seen a lot of commotion like in one time. That's what brought me out. I had to check it out and see what was going on. When I saw it, wow.  At first I didn't believe it was true. You always see these type of events in movies. I was kind of like shocked, for real.” They got serious when asked about how Police Captain Ron Johnson is giving nightly press conferences saying that the protests should stop and about how it's good to see “Ferguson back” to normal. “No. They done shot him. They want us to stop? They did enough. Now it's time for us to do our thing. It's crazy. The cop needs to be in jail.”

At one door the revolutionaries knocked on, two young women were in a hurry, getting ready to go to work in the evening. The revolutionaries explained they had the posters for people to put up to make the point the demands are still unmet, and to stand with those who had risen up. Did the women want the posters? They answered: “Do you have tape?” One gave a donation and the posters went up.

When the revolutionaries were about to leave several older women in their 30's and 40's yelled at them from up the street, “where's my poster?” So they doubled back and more posters got out and up in windows. One woman said “don't put it on the outside, put it on the inside, I don't want nobody stealing my poster.” Another women described being there that day, hearing the gunshots. She talked about other police murders and brutality, how she hated it. A member of the Revolution Club said he was from New York, and the woman asked about Eric Garner (a 43-year-old Black man choked to death by police in New York 23 days before Michael Brown was murdered) and what was happening around that, and talked about how sickening it was to see the video of the killer cop smiling and waving at the camera after choking Garner to death.

Up the street, a group of people sat under a canopy and handed out water. A man in his 30’s explained that they had organized themselves to help fellow residents after Michael Brown's murder, when many people were afraid to go out, felt locked into their homes by the police cruising and posting up all over the area. People feared for their safety, especially for their kids' safety. So they set up tents, got food and water for the complex and generally helped people through all of this.

The young brother who worked the tents from the very beginning said: “If they don’t indict the cop things are going to go up,” and “Yes we need to build resistance.” He said, “We have given the rest of the world a license to stand up.” He got a copy of BAsics and took a number of posters to put up in his apartment complex.

****

After that the revolutionaries went a short distance to West Florissant Street. They met some men sitting in an area with tents. Some of them have organized into a group called the Lost Voices. They were in the parking lot designated as a place where people could be stationary, where they did not have to keep moving, so one man slept there overnight on his book bag, saying “I'm not leaving.”  More people started staying. People started bring food, water, clothes which they distributed to help the struggle. “We're a group of individuals who are likeminded, doing this to fight for justice for everyone, white, Black, Mexicans, Hispanic, whatever race you are. We're doing it for everyone who has been treated unfairly, and who also has suffered brutality from police officers. Unlawful imprisonment, unjust arrests.” They showed us their library: Slavery by Another Name, The Warmth of Other Suns, At the Dark End of the Street,” and other books. They took a copy of BAsics for the library.  One man talked about how he had been locked up twice during the protests. He said that many people who had been arrested during the protests were still in jail because of warrants they had, mainly for non-payment of traffic fines, “a tactic they are using to stop the protests – “that's why many who were strong supporters out here aren't here no more.”  He spoke about authorities and others bringing in “a big broom and a big dustpan,” talking about healing and calm and trying to quell the protests.  And he said he was down for the long haul, “I'm 42 years old, I've spent 17 years in prison. If I die out here, that's ok.”

People we met were intrigued to hear about a movement for revolution being built. Some listened to the New Year's message from Bob Avakian, commenting: “He's breaking it down. Telling it like it is.”

After a brief thunderstorm, revolutionaries returned to the street after dark. At the first pass the streets were almost empty. About to leave the area, the revolutionaries heard chants in the distance, and saw about 20+ young people marching quickly, chanting “Hands Up, Don't Shoot.” The revolutionaries joined the group o f mainly young men, some young women; mostly Black but some white youth as well.

The march flowed into the street, people were excited, jumping. A county police K-9 SUV came toward the march, lights flashing, and the march crossed the street to march in the opposite lane. Two more K-9 units stopped by the small march, youth faced off, and after a minute or two the police moved away. People were chanting, “We young, we strong, we're marching all night long.”

Afterward many people remained nearby, a couple others were shooting hoops in the near blackness in the parking lot, others were sitting around in groups of threes and fours, discussing and struggling over many questions and enjoying the warm night.  The young guy, XX, who has been running with the revolutionaries off and on during the last two weeks was eager to engage more deeply. What was this revolution about? Why did they always hire police who had a history of brutality? Were there good and bad police? When revolutionaries brought up that this systematic repression was because we are ruled by a capitalist system and we need a communist revolution, one man asked if we couldn't just combine the best aspects of capitalism and communism, ‘cause some people like one and some the other. This was discussed – about how this system is totally unreformable and that we need revolution, nothing less.

Two women were also sitting close, really seemed to be looking for a way to fight this. One looked at the centerfold from the newspaper that shows Ferguson, Gaza and children being detained for crossing the U.S. border. She focused on the pictures of the children, “they put them in JAIL? That ain't right. They should get them in homes, take care of them.”  A revolutionary got out his phone, and four heads bent to watch the video, “BA Through the Years.”  During the video one woman said, “This really means we got to do this now, he's been talking about this for a long time.” The spirit was that “we are the ones who are going to change the whole fucking world.” When BA was talking about people thinking this is the only world possible, trying to be big dogs in a dog-eat-dog world, one woman said “oh, that's a quote,” cracking up during the part about someone who settled for being the “baddest broke-leg motherfucker”...instead of getting down and stopping people's legs from getting broken. One said “that's what we need to do.” They really liked the very end when BA talks about how we are capable of much greater things than this. “That's right.”  One woman said “Thank you, I needed to hear this!”

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Reporter's Notebook from Ferguson

"There has been continuous harassment of the youth"

September 11, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A reporter for Revolution/revcom.us was with the crew of revolutionaries who went out to talk to people in Ferguson on August 29.  The following is from an interview with a woman who lives in the neighborhood where Michael Brown was killed:

 

[On the day Michael Brown was shot] a couple of us pulled over because the stepfather was standing there with a sign, “police just executed my son.” So I walked down with the Channel 4 guy; he said “I'm scared, can I walk with you?” I said “Sure.” He said there might be a riot–the word “riot” came up and it wasn't even 80 people out here. And so when they brought in the dogs and everything, we were just standing there. There were St. Louis cops standing there with an M16, they had submachine guns – there wasn't even a hundred people. Then they started coming down with dogs. And I was standing next to Mike Brown's cousin, and whatever people who weren't afraid to come down.  

That's the second time –I saw another boy gunned down in the street. He was from over here. He got shot behind Sam's Meat Market right here. He laid there and they charged him with assault on an officer and he lived. But they put a sheet over him–it's been less than a year. He was shot by Ferguson police officers – they put a sheet over him like he was dead. He was not dead. We were standing there and they were covering it up. Just like they tried to cover this up.

They tried to put his body in their car. Now, how many other times have they done that? But too many people started coming. And everybody started putting it on Facebook and more and more people came. And they literally called the dogs on us while everybody was just standing there. That boy laid there. His mother was on her knees crying. Not one paramedic touched him. There was an RN there. They told her to get back. How do we know he was dead?

Just like that other boy, they wanted him to die too, but he didn't die, him, he ran to the end of the building. They shot him a couple times and they charged him with all kind of felonies and assault against an officer. And they wouldn't let anybody back there and that's what happened. And that's been less than a year ago. He's in jail now.

It's ongoing, there was a 13-year-old that got choked out. So it's been a history. Ferguson does have a couple of cops that live in the neighborhood, people know them, they don't harass them. But (the police) they do harass the youth. This is not the first person killed and this is not the first person shot by them. And that's why they blatantly did it in the daytime, because they been doing it and they figured “we can get away with it again.”

But it's been going on a long time. If they pulled the records of how many minorities have been shot within the past year or two years by Ferguson police I bet they would see something, but nobody has talked about that. And I have literally seen with my own two eyes, two shootings.

What do people face here on a daily basis from law enforcement?

On a daily basis, truthfully speaking there has been continuous harassment of the youth here. I personally know of two teenagers under the age of 16 – one got arrested and taken to the Ferguson police station, ok and these are minority children I'm speaking of – just for laughing. Because the cop pulled up on ‘em really quick. Same way that witnesses have said this officer did. Pulls up on the kids not just to harass, but to instill fear in them, very early on. So that fear is instilled in them so that they know “oh, here they come.” So the kids are being arrested, they're being harassed, if you're a racial minority, and it happens mostly to the younger people in the community.

I read a report that police here have a program of harassment where they ticket people and then arrest them and then jail them for warrants for unpaid fines.

And it could have to do with code enforcement, for housing, like a house that needs work and get fines, and they have a warrant. Warrants for traffic tickets, for code enforcement, they charge ‘em five or  six thousand dollars. How are they every going to pay that, and if they don't they lock you up. I would say 95 % is Black. This is not just in Ferguson, it is in St. Anne and in Hazelwood, where they beat a guy to death about two years ago and they said “oh he was on drugs,” and they swept it under the rug. And Hazelwood has one or two Black officers. And then there was another young man downtown that was also killed by the police week before last. And there was the mentally disabled man last week.

Nothing much has changed – in regards to police murder, incarceration, having felonies placed upon them. Can't vote if you have felonies. Can't get a job. So they arrest them, give ‘em felonies, some that are first time offenders, some that are innocent. And you have to have a lot of money to try to fight the system, which most of the time people don't have. I have a son who is incarcerated and another son who is fighting a case in California.

People stood up. And said they're tired, and we're not going to take it anymore. You're not going to just kill our kids. And they're so many witnesses –some of the witnesses are scared. So many recordings. When I was standing there a lady told me that when the cop shot him, he reached out the car and grabbed him by his neck. He shot him in the chest, and then he got out of his car, stood over him after he had been shot a few times, and shot two more times. These are the things the media won't tell. Everybody is saying the same and I really believe that. She had tears in her eyes. And I saw how he just laid there like an animal in the street, and his mother was on her knees and his whole family was crying. And they kept pushing ‘em back. They didn't wanted anybody to see. They didn't want anybody to know what really happened. That's why they didn't let anybody near.

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Shameless Bootlickers Cry "Outside Agitators"

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

When people took to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, last month to demand justice after the police murder of Michael Brown, the “peacekeepers” – including people like St. Louis alderman Antonio French and Malik Shabazz and his group of so-called “New Black Panthers” – told people to go home and “calm down,” and attacked people for getting “too angry or confrontational” with the cops.

And then the bootlickers came up with something they thought was REALLY clever: They attacked people from out of town as “outside agitators.” Of course the ruling class media put these fools all over the news with this bullshit.

Actually, though, these bootlickers aren’t all that clever. They STOLE the “outside agitators” bit. They’re just copying and pasting from the KKK, the FBI, the white supremacist “White Citizens Councils,” and other racist haters who ran this back in the ’60s. “Outside agitators” is what the KKK and FBI called the heroic volunteers – Black and white – who came to the South to rush to the front lines of the struggle for freedom.

Back then there were conservative forces in the civil rights movement who echoed that “outside agitator” crap – for a time. Most of them either had a change of heart or had sense enough to shut up.

Today’s bootlickers are less clever. And more shameless.

 


 

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Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Taking BA Everywhere and the Whole Ensemble of Revolutionary Work to Martha's Vineyard

September 11, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From readers:

Especially in light of the announcement of the truly historic Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian on November 15 in New York City, a team of revolutionaries who traveled to Martha’s Vineyard this summer want to share some of our experience in taking out BA Everywhere, along with the October Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration and the whole ensemble of revolutionary work, to the residents and vacationers on the island —focusing on the significant numbers of African-American intellectuals, artists, and more propertied Black families from around the country who spend time on Martha’s Vineyard over the summer.

Among other things, our experience—especially in the midst of the defiant stand of the people of Ferguson, Missouri, after the murder of Michael Brown, revealed both the necessity and basis to make this Dialogue a major societal event and a political and ideological turning point broadly throughout society—part of which involves reaching out to a diverse spectrum of people to take it up in many different ways; contributing financially towards its success; holding meetings and discussions of the speakers’ works in preparation for it; spreading word of it around the country; and attending or developing ways to watch it with others, just to name a few.

Our experience absolutely demonstrates the importance of reaching out to this section of people, many of whom may have never considered revolution and communism as a viable, let alone desirable, pathway towards ending the inequities they are deeply aware of. At the same time, this is challenging many of us—revolutionaries and supporters of the movement for revolution—to dig more deeply into our own understanding of what it is going to take for this revolution to have a shot at winning—both in terms of the forces that need to be involved in this movement and the content of the struggle necessary to engage in.

The first question is: “Why even go to Martha’s Vineyard ?”—an island off the coast of Massachusetts best known as a vacation destination for more privileged sections of society, including presidents and celebrities? We really had to struggle over this. Our starting point was BAsics 3:19: "There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn’t fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There’s never gonna be a revolution in this country, and there never should be, that doesn’t make that one key foundation of what it’s all about.”

While there are definite class divisions within the African-American community, the BA quote doesn’t distinguish between poor and better-off Black people. It is making the point that the oppression of Black people is foundational to U.S. imperialism, and its elimination is equally foundational to the movement to end it. Members of our team had to struggle over this point as we prepared to go to the Vineyard—especially because there have been individual experiences with people from this stratum who have seemed to want to distance themselves from the conditions of the basic masses or who have seemed intent on promoting programs for incremental change with no hope of bringing about lasting transformation.

We also talked about the disproportionate influence this community of Black intellectuals and artists have—both within the African-American community as a whole but also more broadly in society, as well as the particular concentration and mix on Martha’s Vineyard. We talked about how so many of these people had put their hopes and dreams in the election of Barack Obama, only to have those hopes left empty and unfulfilled—and where they are often defending the Obama presidency publicly while privately struggling with their own anger and frustrations. Or even those who are relatively satisfied with the Obama presidency and who see the “system” as something that prevented him from acting in the way they thought he wanted to. And while we didn’t entirely resolve our contradictions, we did put ourselves on a much firmer footing to engage people.

This was all very important because taking out BA Everywhere is a form of class struggle in the ideological and political arena, and that class struggle is not one-sided. The rulers of this country have a very clear understanding that one of the key elements to their ability to rule is the allegiance of this section of the middle strata, including among African-Americans. President Obama, who has frequently vacationed on the Vineyard, was there during the same time as our team, doing major fundraising among this very section of people, and it did not go unnoticed that Hillary Clinton was also there at a well-attended book-signing party just prior to our visit. 

So, even before events in Ferguson, the team was grappling with the strategic importance of taking BA Everywhere and the movement for revolution to Martha’s Vineyard.

Over the course of several days on the island, we met hundreds of people, attending concerts, film showings, significant book signings, and other cultural events. Our team spent several hours talking with people at Inkwell Beach, the historic gathering place for vacationing Black families in the town of Oak Bluffs and where people like Spike Lee, Henry Louis Gates, and Stanley Nelson (director of Freedom Summer) currently spend their summers. We distributed several hundred copies of the statement from Revolution newspaper, “We Stand With the Defiant Ones” as well as several dozens of the fundraising brochure, “The World Needs to Be Radically Changed—Here’s Step One,” and many copies of Revolution newspaper.

We found ourselves in conversations with Black families from New Haven; Washington, DC; Boston; Los Angeles; Detroit; New York; San Francisco and all points in between—some who were familiar with or had been to the Revolution Books in their city. We also talked with many year-round residents of the Vineyard, both Black and white, who often revealed a deep disquiet over the state of the planet and interest in the possibilities of fundamental change. 

Some people attempted to dismiss us as trapped in a “conventional wisdom” of radical change. Others thought we were entirely out of our minds to think there could be a revolution in a country as wealthy (and as militarized) as the United States. Still others took us to task for not appreciating the significance of a Black president sending a Black attorney general to Ferguson to investigate the police shooting of a Black youth with the refrain, “This represents a real change!” Sometimes we were able to follow up and get into how little change there really was, but other times people simply threw this at us as they walked away, unwilling to confront the disturbing reality.

But much more often (and sometimes in the same conversation), there were very important and often uncomfortable connections being made. In a conversation after a screening of Freedom Summer that drew several hundred people, one woman commented as to how the images from the movie made her think about the images coming out of Ferguson. And when a team member said they also reminded him of the images of the Israel invasion of Gaza, they ended up talking about the infamous “hippos”—tanks used by the apartheid South African government against black people in that country and what linked all these together was a system of capitalism and imperialism. Many people were profoundly disturbed by the images from Ferguson, and we were repeatedly asked about how it could be, 50 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act, that there were tanks in the streets and snipers on the buildings taking aim at Black people again. Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin were both fresh in people’s minds.

A woman from the West Coast told us one of the main reasons she continues to come back to the Vineyard is that it’s the one place where she can see her teenage son go off at night with his friends and her not staying up all night worrying about what might happen to him. “Even so, I still give him a talking to about how to carry himself and how to make sure to act in a certain way in any situations with the police.”

At the entrance of the predominantly Black Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs, team members took out the posters of BA's “Three Strikes...” quote and with “We Reject Slavery in Any Form,” and one that read, “The People on Inkwell Beach, Martha’s Vineyard Stand With the People of Ferguson.” The posters were a magnet of attraction, and people lined up to get their pictures taken holding the sign declaring solidarity with Ferguson. 

While families were busy hurrying to and from the beach, many stopped and were often amazed at finding themselves in deep discussions with revolutionary communists. One man, with a family from Los Angeles, declared that the revolution was already going on and he was proof, a Black family from California wealthy enough to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, and that it was time for Black people to “money up”—put more money into the Black communities. At the same time, his 10-year-old son interjected that it just wasn’t right that the government had called out the National Guard to put down people protesting against the police killing of a Black man, and his wife commented that she just didn’t see how a revolution could succeed in this country. 

Towards the end of this conversation that often was very intense, the team member involved ended by reflecting that despite everything the man had said, he had to agree that there was just something not right where we live in a society where his 10-year-old son understands and can comment intelligently on the fact that the National Guard is being used to suppress people striving to get justice for another young Black man murdered by the police. It was both serious and lighthearted in the same instant, and as they parted, the man came over to make a contribution to and thank the comrade for her time. 

At one point, another team member commented on the fact that it seemed relatively easy to unite on one level with people around events in Ferguson, so the team walked through what it meant for events in Ferguson to concentrate the whole horrific experience of the oppression of Black people and the importance of giving people an opportunity to stand with the defiant ones of Ferguson, while more deeply engaging with who are “the people” and the necessity of revolution and of engaging with BA. We talked about the role of the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jackson Jr. s, and especially U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in promoting calm while the iron fist of the state was confronting demonstrators.

This became more of a dividing line with many people we met who, for the most part, said they stood with the people of Ferguson. As our discussions deepened, some saw this as standing with the “peace police” calling for calm (as they vilified the defiant youth and revolutionaries who stood with them), while others more firmly united with the actions of the demonstrators who refused to back down. These people generally had a more clear understanding that, without the actions of the “defiant ones,” few people would even had heard of Michael Brown’s death, and often expressed pride in the youth. Again, many we met drew comparisons to the freedom riders of the civil rights era whose sharp, defiant, and necessary stand was often controversial even among progressive forces.

Wherever we went, we found people who wanted to talk. On one bus ride, a middle-aged white woman who lives on the Vineyard asked who the person on one team member’s shirt was. When we replied it was Bob Avakian, leader of the movement for revolution, she replied, “Good, we need some kind of revolution.” When we went on to tell her that he is the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, who has been developing a new synthesis of communism, she continued on unabashed—referring to different outrages and horrors around the world that demanded radical change and expressing her happiness at seeing revolutionaries on the island, as she exited the bus.

At another bus stop, we met a Black family from outside Detroit attending part of the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. When we showed them Revolution newspaper, two or three discussions jumped off at once, including one about the immorality of what has happened to the people of Detroit. One older woman almost demanded, “Do you realize that people in Detroit do not have the right to clean water? That thousands of people are being cut off from clean water? And it’s not because there isn’t any water—there’s lots of water. The water companies are selling it to all the towns around Detroit. It’s because there is no profit to getting it to the people. It’s all about the bottom line. If you can’t make a profit, it doesn’t matter what the people need. What do you think the president is doing about that? Nothing! Yes we do need some kind of revolution!” Again, this was a conversation cut short, but the woman left with a copy of Revolution and a BA Everywhere fundraising brochure.

There are too many anecdotes to share in this letter, including an exclusive fundraising reception where, after being told he was talking to a revolutionary communist and follower of BA, a middle-aged Black man launched into a conversation about having studied Marx, and how he considered himself a democratic-socialist, and began talking about how there would have to be a revolution to end the madness all around us but cautioned that the one problem with the communist movement historically was “white chauvinism,” while giving contact information at the end of the conversation to “pursue the discussion.”

Towards the beginning of going to the Vineyard, some team members had expressed a certain frustration that they weren’t going to Ferguson, to stand with the youths in the street in the face of the attacks from the state. As we were summing up our experience, someone suggested we step back for a moment and survey the bigger picture. At the very moment that Carl Dix and activists for the movement for revolution and BA were out in the tear-gas-filled streets and neighborhoods of Ferguson, bringing both their support but also their vision of a whole different world to the defiant youth and others taking on the outrage of Michael Brown’s murder, our team had gone to what is seen as an enclave of privilege and wealth to challenge people to stand with the oppressed but also to start seriously engaging with this movement for revolution and Bob Avakian whose work and leadership is so essential to understanding how to end these outrages. To project this out over the country, we began to get a sense of a pretty important synergy that has great potential going forward.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/is-there-any-crime-israel-commits-that-you-wont-justify-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

Questions for the "Creative Community for Peace"

Is There ANY Crime Israel Commits That You Won't Justify?

by Alan Goodman | September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

NEVER AGAIN: No More Pimping Off the Holocaust to Justify U.S. & Israel's GENOCIDE Against the Palestinian People!

Speech by revcom.us correspondent Alan Goodman at the August 14, 2014 New York City teach-in, "Stop Israel's Ongoing War Crimes Against the People of Gaza."

 

August 2014. Area in Gaza City devastated by Israeli airstrikes. AP photo

August 2014. Area in Gaza City devastated by Israeli airstrikes. AP photo

 

Special Issue on Israel
Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism:
The Case of ISRAEL

#213, October 10, 2010 revcom.us/israel

Also available in PDF

I have two questions for the Creative Community For Peace (CCFP). They ran an ad in the New York Times (September 13, 2014) titled "Commitment for Peace and Justice." This ad has nothing to do with peace, much less justice. Despite its title, the ad is, as described by the CCFP director, a "show of support by Hollywood for Israel." It is, despite its title, an unqualified endorsement of Israel's savage slaughter of the people of Gaza. It is an utterly and totally reactionary statement.

Here are my two questions to everyone who signed it...

One: Is there ANY crime against humanity that Israel commits—massacring children in schoolyards, blowing up hospitals, making hundreds of thousands of people homeless, dispossessing a people of their land, creating an atmosphere of pogroms against those people, and OPENLY PROMISING A "BIGGER HOLOCAUST" ON THEM—that you will not excuse (or even sanctify) by invoking ineffective Hamas rockets?

Two: Do basic, fundamental, moral principles apply all the time? Or only when they serve what you perceive to be your interests and agenda? Are holocausts and genocide OK when they serve the interests of those who rule the U.S. and Israel?

Every great historic crime had its "rationalization." Hitler had his. Israel has theirs (which you repeat in your ad). But if it was wrong for the Nazis to carry out a Holocaust against the Jews (a great historic crime), how do you justify Israel's genocidal holocaust against the Palestinian people?

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/take-the-revolution-to-the-campuses-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

How to...

Take the Revolution to the Campuses

September 15, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

There is today a more rebellious mood on the campuses, and a real need for the RCP and the whole movement for revolution to much more deeply connect with that mood.  But how? Here’s a suggestion for a crucial first step, to take right away:

Let’s pull together and systematically go through the many different ties on the campuses that the Party and the movement DO have – the people who have engaged to some degree with BA, who have been active in different initiatives in which the Party participates, who have supported or bought books at Revolution Books stores. And let’s pose to those people the problem: the students are beginning to raise their heads and challenge things. How do we get our revolutionary current much more connected with the ferment and resistance that’s beginning to bubble there? How can the Month of Resistance Against Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation find expression on campus – powerful expression, even if the month may not be known on a particular campus right now – in a short time? And how especially can the upcoming Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West become known on the campuses and begin attracting radical-minded people? How can the revcom.us site and Revolution newspaper become more connected with things? What are the questions that need to be spoken to, the thinking that needs to be challenged or supported (or both!), the currents that need to be united with and connected with? Are there ways to bring people onto campus – into clubs, classes, and dorms – who can represent what this revolution is all about and who can learn from and challenge the students? And what roles could the people we’re talking with play in all this?

And as that is being done, let’s sum up what we’re learning in good time but also have the active orientation of moving quickly with people on their ideas, even on the spot.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/351/a-comment-on-events-in-syria-and-iraq-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

A Comment on Events in Syria and Iraq

September 1, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Any ideology or set of beliefs that can't stand criticism and denounces people who disagree with it as "heretics," and kills or otherwise seeks to silence those people who disagree with it, is a cowardly and bankrupt ideology and one that nobody should have anything to do with...

Today the representatives of the U.S. express shock and outrage at such tactics. But fundamentally, to the USA and other imperialists, whether or not to support this kind of religious fundamentalist fascism is a matter of taste—their only criterion is whether it works for, or against, how they view their interests in any situation. Think of Saudi Arabia, where the U.S. has used massive weaponry and political support to reinforce a reactionary religious state which goes so far as to forbid women the right to drive! And, quiet as it's kept today, check out the way in which the U.S. bankrolled and gave military support to Osama bin-Laden and other forces like him in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when that suited their interests.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/353/its-all-about-getting-free-the-forest-and-the-trees-en.html

Revolution #353 September 15, 2014

It's ALL about Getting Free:

The Forest and the Trees

September 18, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To the editor:

I went to a meeting this week on building the dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West coming up on November 15. The meeting had a really good short talk on the importance of this Dialogue and then people broke down into groups to get into how to build it. There was a good spirit in the air. But that’s not what I’m writing about here.

Instead, I’m writing about a conversation I had with a friend right before the meeting, as people were hanging around. This comrade told me he had gone to a big rally of hundreds of students against police murder and mass incarceration. He told me how he had talked about the Month of Resistance against Mass Incarceration, Police Terror, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation at this rally, and really got into some good points on that, but that he didn’t get into the dialogue until the end and he was running out of time. He felt bad about this and he asked my advice.

I told him honestly that it sounded like he was losing sight of how things were related in reality. If you keep reality in mind, it really shouldn’t be that hard. If I were at that rally, I told him, even if I only had a few minutes to talk to people, I would tell them that I was there to talk about getting FREE of the horrors that this system just can’t seem to get rid of. I’m talking about ENDING this shit, and I’m talking about emancipation, and if YOU want to get free I’m here to recruit you into a movement to do that. Right now this movement is working to make a giant leap, and it’s doing two huge things this fall as part of that.

One big thing is working with hundreds and even thousands of other people all over to make October a whole month of resistance against this genocidal system of the “New Jim Crow,” to change the very way that people think, talk and act about these questions and to actually move to STOP all this. And then, right after that, we’re building a major Dialogue on November 15 between Bob Avakian and Cornel West on “Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion.”

Then you could talk about the Month—and this could be very simple, along the lines of the short new piece that is on page one of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network home page about how this month is going to be like a giant STOP sign to society. I would make sure to let people know how they can get hooked in, and that however they want to act, there is room for them. You could even at this point lead people in the oral part of the pledge (that is also on the first page of the Stop Mass Incarceration website).

Then, right away, you get back to the Dialogue. You say that many people know about Cornel West, but you could still say a little about him just the same—what a unique and invaluable role he plays in fighting for a just and meaningful life, and fighting for the people, up against the dominant culture and ethos of this society. And then you could say that not enough people know about Bob Avakian—yet—but that’s gotta change and it’s gonna change. 'Cuz BA is the leader who’s actually developed a strategy for REVOLUTION right here in this country as part of a world revolution AND a plan for a new society where these horrific outrages are done away with and we build a new society where ALL people can flourish and be free. And this dialogue is gonna be all about that: Can we get free? Can we really do away with this monstrous way of life, which is nothing but a way of death? Can we get to a different world? You’re going to hear BA—someone who’s done the work on this on a whole other level, who’s developed the science of revolution and gone way beyond what has been done before and has been leading a party that is built on that foundation—in dialogue with Cornel West, who from his own standpoint has also been right there on the front lines, fearlessly telling the truth and standing with the people and never settling in. You’re going to see two people who share a deep love for the masses of people. I would tell people to definitely listen to the interview that Cornel did with BA at revcom.us to get a sense of what this was going to be getting very deeply into. And you tell people how there’s nothing like seeing BA live and in person, and this is definitely NOT to be missed if you are at all interested in getting free.

You could say that we are gonna build up the love to defend these leaders against all the attacks that we know this system brings down on leaders who do lead people to stand against it, especially as they begin to get a hearing and a following, attacks that are coming down even now. If you’re speaking to an audience of those the system has cast off and dogged, you can make the point that this dialogue is for YOU, that you will be WELCOME there, and we will work with you to make sure that you can get there—because you have a crucial role and special role to play in this whole revolution we’re talking about and you need to know this leader. And you could tell people they need to stay plugged into revcom.us to know all about this, to get the real deal in real time. And that again, you are here to recruit people into a movement that is going for a whole different way of life.

Now you might not have enough time to do all that. Or you might have time and freedom to do more. But you make that big point about what is fundamentally needed—getting free, revolution—and who you are and that we got something for people to do right now to make a big leap in getting there. And you get into those two big things that are going into the big leap. And if you’ve been asked to speak representing a specific organization—like Stop Mass Incarceration, the level of unity of which is around that specific goal—you make clear that “speaking for yourself” you are down with making a revolution to get free and you see fighting to stop this horrific genocidal program as part and parcel of that, laying out that people need to be making plans for and telling people about this Dialogue.

It shouldn’t be—it isn’t—that hard. But we get bollixed up when we lose sight of the basic relationship in reality of the different things we are doing. We lose sight of the forest for the trees, and begin treating each tree like a boxed-off thing unto itself. But in reality, a tree is part of a larger eco-system. And everything people are up against in society, and wanting and needing to fight, springs from—or at least is maintained, reinforced and driven forward—by a social system, an OPPRESSIVE social system. Everything we do is about leading people to get free of that system and is part of a plan to do that—to get free, through revolution. That means uniting with people in resistance and taking that resistance higher. It means showing, as we do, that there’s a way out of all this insanity and needless oppression. And if you’re doing that—if you’re “living there”—then you’re gonna see both how important it is that this Month of Resistance involve tens and even hundreds of thousands of people in resistance, AND how crucially important and potentially impactful this November Dialogue could be—the unique chance to hear BA live and in person and in dialogue with Cornel West, and the very rare and absolutely-not-to-be-missed opportunity that it is.