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Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Right now, society is boiling—especially, but not only—over the outrage of repeated unpunished murder by police. Things erupt—in Madison, in Ferguson, in LA, and Atlanta—where next? The people rise up, the clamps and the confusion-peddlers come down, but the people do not stop. Big questions about the whole history and present-day character of this capitalist-imperialist and white supremacist society are forced into the open and are being debated. Those on top of society do NOT have it all together—they are riddled with problems and deep into conflicts with each other, even as they try in different ways to come down on the people.
What we do right now matters—a great deal! Whether people, in their millions, come to see the possibility of a whole different way the world could be—the possibility of an actual revolution—and whether they see ways to build the struggle against the oppressive power we face today in more powerful and really unstoppable way: this is a big thing.
Revcom.us/Revolution is focusing right now on two major initiatives aimed at reaching those goals. The first is the March 28 online launch and premiere of the filmed Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion. Elsewhere on this site we get into the nature of this Dialogue and why it is so crucial to people gaining an understanding and a deep sense of a REAL alternative, a real revolution—including a very real and deep speaking to the current struggles that are raging. The interview with Ardea Skybreak, the trailer for the film, and the YouTube clip of how BA and Cornel West take on a key question about why these outrages keep happening and what must be done in the face of that... all these give you a sense of what a difference it could make to get this dialogue out to hundreds of thousands and then millions.
Second, on April 14, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network has called for a day to “Shut It Down” in defiance of and resistance to the ongoing wave of murder by police, and the whole New Jim Crow of mass incarceration directed against Black and Latino people, as well as other people of color. This day must make clear to millions that this struggle must not only “not go away” or have its sharp edge worn down or blunted, but it must take, and is taking, a leap to another level. The statement in this issue from Carl Dix, along with the article, “Let’s Be Crystal Goddamn Clear: The Problem Has Been and Is the Relentless Unpunished Murders by Police. This MUST Be STOPPED! And We Must Stop It,” as well as other pieces, give a sense of the stakes and how to understand and speak to the controversies that boil over every day... with the enemy, and among the people themselves.
Right now, making these two things—the online launch and premieres of the film of the Dialogue and #ShutdownA14—really big is the major way to act on the whole situation. And again, what we do matters—and at a time like this, it is magnified.
Right now—starting on Wednesday, March 18 and running through Friday, March 27—we call on everyone reading this to give as much time and effort and ideas as you possibly can to massively flyer, get out posters, work social media, break into regular media, and in one way or another get people informed about and organized to be part of both these crucial efforts.
Teams should form up and be organized to get out materials to sections of the people and areas where the revolution is known or should be known—communities, campuses (college and high school), and anywhere people gather who are raising their heads and want to see things change. These teams should have a mission of getting out massive amounts of posters, fliers, and palm cards... showing videos (like the trailer for the film of the Dialogue) on the street or in classes and shops... and getting out Revolution newspaper and the “5 STOPS“ at the same time. Key areas should be saturated with these materials, to the point where everyone knows about these things. These teams should try to apply the article “Lessons from November in NYC: Building for the Dialogue Between BA and Cornel West.” And they should be ready to jump into and help lead struggle at any time (blowing their whistles as they do!). As the article “Lessons” points out, they should constantly be going back to the main articles and videos we’ve pointed to and re-grounding in what we’re doing and why.
Centers of revolution in local areas should prepare now to serve all this, with plenty of materials and well conceived plans, beginning Wednesday morning. Funds should be raised over these next few days, and then later, through consistent phone banking, reaching out and reaching back to friends and supporters, shaking the can on the street, and finding potential donors at different events.
In many places, real cores have begun to take shape in the Revolution Club, around the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, the BA Everywhere Committees, Revolution Books stores, and other initiatives; these cores should be further built and relied upon.
These 10 days will be intense and challenging, coming at a time when society is roiling and millions have awakened... AND they should be fun and a time to learn as well! Most of all: these efforts can contribute to changing all of society, first by making the online launch and premieres of the Dialogue something that radically expands the thinking of tens of thousands in the next period and, second, by making #ShutDownA14 a major social question in society, giving people everywhere a way to be part of powerfully retaking the offensive against police murder.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
Revised March 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
The Dogs Are Still in the Street
March 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This is a time when we have to be crystal clear about what's going on and what's really needed. Two cops were shot in Ferguson on Wednesday, March 13. Not enough is known to be sure of exactly what happened, who did it, or why. I'm not going to engage in speculation about any of that. But this I do know:
The problem was and is that the front-line enforcers for this system—the police—continue to get away with brutalizing and murdering people. This is part of an overall program of suppression targeting Black and Latino people in this country that has a genocidal thrust. I've seen this system's enforcers steal the lives of people here and around the world, and I've dedicated my life to working to STOP it.
People who are standing up against a genocide have no reason to be defensive about doing that. What they are doing is right, and they should continue to do it and be boldly calling on more people to join them, not becoming defensive or backing off from their righteous stand!
Talk about moratoriums on protests is straight up wrong and should not be listened to or spread. Anyone calling for people to help the cops interrogate protesters or carry out raids in search of suspects should be ashamed of themselves.
The dogs are still in the streets, and they are carrying out vicious attacks, especially on Black and Latino people—sections of people this system hates and fears. Right now, everyone who cares about justice must continue and step up building resistance to these attacks. This is needed right now, and it needs to be done building up to and manifesting in powerful outpourings of resistance on April 14 that disrupt business as usual all across the country because that business as usual includes police getting away with murdering Black and Latino people.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
by Alan Goodman | Updated March 30, 2015; originally published March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors’ Note: The following article appeared online at revcom.us on March 16, 2015. Since that time, developments in the Middle East—Yemen and elsewhere—have continued to roil and unfold, and the basic orientation and themes in this article continue to be highly relevant.
Due to a production error, a section of this article was left out in the print version that appears in Revolution #379-380, dated April 5, 2015.
As portrayed by much of the mainstream (that is, the ruling class’s) media, the intense dispute between Obama and the Republicans—and between Obama and Israel—over Iran, is about whether to conclude an agreement with Iran’s rulers to restrict their nuclear program. Or—as argued by the most rabid advocates for imperialist aggression: that approach is “too soft.”
In that light, many people—including people genuinely opposed to crimes carried out by the U.S. and its enforcer, Israel—are finding their way to get behind Obama and the position he represents, in conflict with Israel’s genocidal Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Republicans.
There's one basic problem with that framework and that position: It utterly leaves out and goes completely against the interests and best aspirations of hundreds of millions of people from North Africa to Central Asia.
The people in this region are trapped in a cauldron of reactionary wars and brutal oppression defined by the clash of reactionary forces—Western imperialists who brand themselves "democracies," and reactionary Islamic fundamentalists offer "alternative" forms of exploitation and oppression. The masses of people in this region have been demonized and dehumanized by the Western media. But the hundreds of millions of people in this region are our people. Their interests—and those of the people of the world—lie in ending all oppression. There is a basis for that in the world today, and there is a way out. It is a torturous journey, but it's a real alternative to the hell people are living in—as real as real gets.
* * *
Some of my most vivid impressions from Cairo, Egypt, when I was on the Gaza Freedom March in 2008, are of encounters with Egyptian activists. I was repeatedly and profoundly moved by their courage—risking their lives to assist our international brigade in an attempt to physically defy and break Israel and Egypt’s genocidal blockade of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
You have to understand: as much as there are no real rights in the U.S. that the oppressor is bound to respect, in Egypt under the U.S. partner-in-crime Hosni Mubarak (and today!) the regime doesn’t even pretend there is a right to protest. People got (and get) “disappeared” for simply discussing a street protest in social media—thrown into the regime’s torture-chamber dungeons or tossed in the back of an unmarked police car, driven out into the desert and dumped there, with the expectation of a horrible death in the desert heat.
It wasn’t that Egyptian activists I met were unconcerned about these risks. But over and over I was struck by how deeply the sentiment was embedded that yes, the regime and its backer the U.S. torture and kill people with impunity, but fuck them.
And it’s this defiant sentiment that’s erupted repeatedly, heroically, in that part of the world, where the rule of Western imperialism and local subordinates and partners-in-crime often, if not almost always, takes the most naked form.
Do we get that?
Do we measure the stands we take right now—as the ruling class forces represented by Obama argue that their path represents the best way to advance “our” national interests—by the standard of how long and hard people in the Middle East have fought for freedom?
* * *
Obama, the ruling class forces he represents, and European powers decry that the Middle East is coming apart. There is tremendous and intensifying misery in the region, but what are the roots of that? To put it in basic terms: What is the problem? And what are the interests and aspirations of the people?
In the aftermath of World War 1, Britain and France carved up the region, drawing borders right through the lands of different peoples and greatly exacerbating or creating conflicts that continue to this day. To them, the region was a critical source of oil and a key link in global exploitation and domination. In the period after World War 2, victorious Western powers—this time with the United States at the top of the heap—colluded (even as they feuded) to re-divide the region, to expel the Palestinians from their land through Zionist ethnic cleansing, to lock down control of oil, and maneuver to block advances of the world communist revolution.
But for all their machinations and all their violence, the imperialists haven’t known a moment’s peace.
From 1954-1962, the people of Algeria fought a war of liberation led by secular nationalists against the French imperialists who—according to the French historian Pierre Emmanuel Vidal-Naquet—carried out “possibly hundreds of thousands of instances of torture” to try to crush that uprising. In Iran, after the CIA and British operatives orchestrated the overthrow of an elected nationalist government in 1953, there was unceasing struggle that was viciously repressed by the forces of the imperialist operative, the Shah of Iran. Through waves of repression and resistance—on one day alone more than 10 million Iranians took to the streets—the hated Shah was forced to flee in 1979.
In Palestine, as part of, and supported by the world revolution of the 1960s (with Mao Zedong and the People’s Republic of China providing particularly valuable support), armed forces led by the Palestine Liberation Organization fought tenacious battles with Israel—in 1968 Palestinian fighters held off a major Israeli attack at Karameh, Jordan. The PLO’s program for a liberated, democratic, secular (non-religious) Palestine attracted widespread support around the world, including from a not-insignificant number of Jewish people.
After the PLO was crushed and co-opted, waves of resistance—intifadas—have erupted repeatedly in Palestine. And Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, and other places in 2011 shook the foundations of the exploitative and oppressive regional order.
That none of these struggles shattered the chains of imperialist domination, exploitation, and oppression is not due to lack of desire, courage, or aspirations for freedom. In some cases, people ran up against the limitations of nationalist leadership, which, even in its most radical expressions, is not capable of uprooting all oppression or breaking the chains of global imperialism.
In Iran in 1979, there were communist revolutionaries who were guided by a vision of ending all oppression—including the oppression of minority nationalities and women—but at the time they were not sufficiently strong to prevent reactionary Islamic fundamentalist clerics from essentially hijacking the revolution and betraying people’s deepest aspirations. In the face of the Islamic Republic’s massacres and torture dungeons, a genuine revolutionary party has been forged, the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).
That is just a small part of the story of resistance and rebellion in that part of the world. People never stopped struggling against oppression. But what they lacked, or what they have lacked in sufficient strength, was a leadership that had a vision and strategy to unite all positive factors and really break through to bring forward societies that liberate people, with the aim of a world without oppression of any kind. Leadership like that represents the interests of the most oppressed and exploited people in society, those who, as a class of people, have no stake in any oppression. Such a force can bring forward and give full play to positive factors for revolution in a way no other can, including very importantly unleashing the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution. Such a force can unite very broadly, while continually focusing the struggle against the enforcers of exploitation and oppression.
There are positive models of this kind of real revolution happening in modern history. Much as they have been maligned, distorted, lied about, and ruled “off the agenda,” the communist revolutions in what became the Soviet Union (from 1917 to 1956) and the People’s Republic of China (from 1949 to 1976) did succeed in smashing the chains of capitalist exploitation and took great steps to begin overcoming the oppression of women, of minorities, and moving towards a world without class divisions. Although those revolutions were ultimately reversed, they debunked the lie that capitalism-imperialism is the best humanity can do. They demonstrated the potential latent in the billions of oppressed people this system treats as less than garbage, to emancipate humanity and transform the world, and how communist leadership is decisive to unleashing this and throughout the entire revolutionary process. (See “You Don't Know What You Think You ‘Know’ About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future.”
Building that kind of leadership, and promoting it where it exists, is not a diversion from the struggle for liberation, it is essential if that struggle is to break out of the suffocating confines of the current world, in theory and in reality.
In his February 2011 statement, “EGYPT 2011: MILLIONS HAVE HEROICALLY STOOD UP... THE FUTURE REMAINS TO BE WRITTEN,” Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, speaks to the relevance of the 1917 revolution in Russia:
And the most decisive lesson is this: When people in their masses, in their millions, finally break free of the constraints that have kept them from rising up against their oppressors and tormentors, then whether or not their heroic struggle and sacrifice will really lead to a fundamental change, moving toward the abolition of all exploitation and oppression, depends on whether or not there is a leadership, communist leadership, that has the necessary scientific understanding and method, and on that basis can develop the necessary strategic approach and the influence and organized ties among growing numbers of the people, in order to lead the uprising of the people, through all the twists and turns, to the goal of a real, revolutionary transformation of society, in accordance with the fundamental interests of the people.
And speaking of the work to sum up and advance on the basis of, and beyond the first stage of communist revolution, Avakian adds:
In my writings and talks, in Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, a Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and in other major documents of our Party, we have striven to draw as deeply and fully as possible the critical lessons from the historical experience of the communist revolution and the socialist societies it has brought into being—the very real and great achievements, and the serious errors and setbacks—and to learn from the broader experience of human society and its historical development, in order to contribute all we can to the advance of the revolutionary struggle and the emancipation of oppressed people throughout the world.
This movement for all-the-way liberation, for communist revolution, is not a pipe dream. It is not “someone’s agenda” divorced from the reality of the world and what humanity needs. It is not a “nice idea” that will have to wait for some day in the infinite future, while in the meantime we limit our activism, our agenda, and, yes, our dreams to come instead under the wing of a supposed “lesser evil” in clashes between the U.S., the European powers, Russia, China, ISIS, Israel, Iran, or any of the other oppressive forces operating in the Middle East.
Yes, it will take tortuous struggle to bring forward a movement for communist revolution, and for that movement to lead to breakthroughs in the world revolution—the seizure of power in first some parts of the world. But tortuous struggle is nothing new for the oppressed—in the Middle East or elsewhere.
So absolutely—we have to call out, expose, oppose, and protest the most rabid advocates for more overt U.S. bullying, terror, “boots on the ground” invasions and torture! But we would betray and turn our backs on the people of that part of the world, and the world in general—who have struggled so hard and sacrificed so much—if we align in any way with Obama and the forces he represents as they move to contain the Islamic Republic of Iran, and enlist that brutal regime in helping enforce the U.S.-dominated regional order.
There is nothing good about the Iranian regime, either, as it pursues its own reactionary interests in all this. Nor should or need we have any patience for apologies for the crimes of the Islamic fundamentalists in the region.
What I am arguing for is not “unrealistic.” What is unrealistic is expecting anything positive to come from any of these forces, or having or promoting illusions about them. None of them have any answers for the poverty, the repression, the oppression of women, or any of the other horrors imperialism has bestowed on the Middle East except more violent repression and war.
But the revolution does have answers.
And from that perspective, we can and need to oppose all these forces of oppression, and all their machinations, threats and invasions, sanctions and negotiations. And in doing so, help prepare the ground for people everywhere to get organized for actual revolutions to uproot all oppression.
THAT is real.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
February 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
"This book will be of tremendous benefit to many..."
— Richard Leakey
Ardea Skybreak: Oh god (!), it was really great to be at this Dialogue. I’m so glad I was able to be there in person, and I’m also so glad that the livestream is available for anybody who wasn’t able to be there. I would encourage people to go to the revcom.us website, and you can access it right there and experience the whole thing. And I am really excited that a high-quality film is being made of the Dialogue, which will soon be available as well.
I don’t even know where to start. 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.
I am sick to death of the culture that prevails so much in this society today that is all about self-involvement and self, individualism, and so on. In contrast to this prevailing culture of basically small-mindedness, self-centeredness, selfishness, whatever you wanna call it, here were two people, Bob Avakian and Cornel West, who have different views on many important questions, but they came together to speak to the people together in a way that was projecting tremendous morality and conscience, a tremendous amount of social responsibility. And I thought, yes, please, promote this, let’s have more of this. I thought it was a wonderful example of how you could have principled differences—you could have differences and debate and discuss some of those differences in a principled manner, but draw out the points of unity. They were both so generous in spirit, and part of why is because they’re not focused on self, neither one of them; they’re different people, but one of the things they have in common is that they are both trying to think about the conditions of the oppressed and all the horrors that are visited upon so many people on a daily basis in this country and throughout the world...and what could be done about that.
And, in Bob Avakian’s case, he’s been spending his whole life, decades and decades, developing work that is deepening our understanding of why these problems are not just accidental, or periodic anomalies–how they actually stem from, originate in, the deeper structures of the system, and why it’s the system itself, the system of capitalism-imperialism, that has to go, and be replaced with a completely different system, before we could really emancipate humanity. He brings that to life, and he’s dedicated his whole life to studying and bringing out to people, in a very scientific way, in a very rich and developed way, why that is the case, what is actually needed, what kind of revolution is needed, what is the strategy to actually be able to get to revolution, how can we actually have a serious strategy for seizing power, for dismantling the existing state apparatus of capitalism-imperialism, and replacing it with a new state apparatus of socialism, socialist institutions that move in the direction of a communist world that would be a genuinely emancipatory journey for the majority of people. He’s done a lot of very serious scientific work on this over decades. Has he ever made mistakes? Of course. Will he make more mistakes? I’m quite sure—everyone does, you know. The point is that he’s willing to examine his own mistakes and the mistakes of others throughout history, throughout the communist movement, and in what’s been done by other forces in society—constantly being like a good scientist who is actually willing to do critical examination of all of this to try to figure out what’s right and can move things forward in a good way for the majority of people, and what’s wrong and can actually take things in very bad directions. And even when the mistakes come from the historical forces of the revolutionaries or communists in this country or around the world, he’s willing to examine that. And so, because of that, you feel like you’re in the presence of a real scientist who’s actually going to work and has been working for decades. It’s like a very advanced scientist who is at the top of his field in terms of analyzing empire, in terms of analyzing the sources of problems and the alternatives and how to get there, and what pitfalls to avoid, what are the dangers, what are the wrong kinds of thinking that people can fall into and do fall into. You don’t have to agree with everything, but you can really feel like you’re grappling with a scientist who’s being serious about this, and whose heart is with the people.
And what you see with Cornel West—and BA pointed that out in his part of the Dialogue—you see someone who is a very wide-ranging intellectual who’s studied many different questions, and who is very concerned about the history of oppression, but who also recognizes that it is not enough to just be an intellectual behind closed doors who thinks about these things...it is important to play a role as a public intellectual and to actually help develop understanding and consciousness about these issues. He understands, in short, the social responsibility of a progressive intellectual. And he, also, is not concerned with self. He also is willing to take some risks and to stand up to slanders and be demeaned for some of this. He refuses to go along—and he doesn’t. I think one of the things that both these people show is a willingness to stand up under fire of a certain kind. We can talk about this later, but there are all sorts of people who wanna tear down people who are trying to change things in a positive direction.
So, not to go into that right now so much, but I just wanna say that there was something—I’m trying to find the words to describe the magical atmosphere. Here’s the thing: I think there were some people who were in attendance...I heard that they said afterwards, I wish every day could be like today. And I felt that myself. It felt like you were in the presence of...that there was leadership in the room, that there was a diversity of people in the audience, that there was a shared concern about a lot of the outrages and injustices in society and a shared lively determination to do something about it, rather than just accept it as the way of the world. So it was very encouraging.
And there were many other things. I mean, even the venue. Okay, look, I’m an atheist, I’m not a religious person. I don’t believe in supernatural forces of any kind. I’m a scientist who is deeply steeped in historical materialism, and I don’t get wowed or awed by the sanctity of religious places or religious venues. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the beauty of the religious art. This church, Riverside Church, is a beautiful venue, and it has all sorts of interesting and beautiful carvings in wood and in stone, and so on. It’s just a beautiful place, and you’d have to be stone cold not to be able to appreciate the art, even if you’re not a believer. And this was a wonderful setting for this historic event. It is a church that historically has hosted many controversial subjects and topics over the years and has provided a platform for the contestation of ideas. And I thought that, once again, this happened in this period in a way that hasn’t been seen in a long time, has never been seen actually. I can’t think of another example of exactly this kind of event in history, where a revolutionary communist leader of the revolution is meeting together with a revolutionary Christian so that they can bring forward what they have in common and explore the differences and put it before the people and encourage hundreds, thousands and ultimately millions of people to engage these very important questions that have to do with morality and conscience and with the future of humanity.
And the topic itself is so important, the topic about religion and revolution. Look, I’ve been arguing, and I know this is definitely BA’s framework, that you have to have a scientific materialist approach to analyzing the patterns of society—past, present and future—in order to figure out what to do about the problems of the world. Other people think that you have to apply a religious spiritual framework. That’s a different approach to trying to deal with some of the same problems. It’s a different approach to some of the solutions. It’s a different approach, but it doesn’t have to be in all cases an antagonistic difference. In this case, one of the things that I saw, and was inspired by, was that I thought there was a strategic alliance being modeled between a revolutionary communist... the revolutionary communist project, and progressive moral religious people, as embodied by Cornel West. Many religious people are not so generous of spirit, so moral, so solid in terms of their conscience. But this is an example of how two people can walk together and two actual sections of society can walk together in a strategic alliance. I thought that was very inspiring and should give hope to people.
And there was a lot that was modeled methodologically by BA in this Dialogue, in how he dealt with a lot of these questions. Many people are afraid to criticize religion—they think the people need it and you shouldn’t say anything. One of the things I really like about BA is that he’s never afraid to tell people what’s what, even if he knows it will make them uncomfortable, even if he knows that it’ll be controversial, that it’s not the popular way of thinking, that he will be attacked or even slandered or reviled for doing so. He’s just gonna tell people the way he sees things, on the basis of a scientific examination over decades of some of the key underlying phenomena. And, okay, religion, as Cornel expressed it very clearly, especially for Black people in this country, this is where many people live, this is very close to their heart, this is very intertwined with the history of resistance of Black people to oppression since the days of slavery, it’s very intimately tied in with people’s loved ones, and their feeling of who has led them in the past to fight against oppression. So it’s all very intertwined. And BA is very clearly expressing to people that he understands all of that, but that you have to let a lot of this go, you have to let it go because it doesn’t correspond to reality and it will actually take you off course and make it harder for you to actually transform the world in the direction that would benefit the majority of humanity. So there’s a difference there, but it is a difference that can be wrangled with and analyzed and subjected to critical analysis and thinking. And the audience was into it. The vast majority of the audience was really into this—BA’s presentation, Cornel’s shorter but substantial remarks, and then the dialogue between them where they went back and forth. So there’s a tremendous amount there. I think it’s worth re-watching and reviewing the livestream, and the upcoming film, because there’s a lot to learn from what was being modeled there, and by the whole event.
So the speakers were great, the topic was great—and then I have to say about the audience: There was also a magical element, something that was greater than the sum of the parts, that came out of the connection, the presence of the audience with the speakers. That was something that I may be having trouble putting into words exactly, but I felt it very strongly at the time. There were 2,000 people or so filling this historic venue. And many came from the area, from New York, but many came from far away. There were people there from Chicago, from Ferguson, from Boston, from Hawaii, and so on. People actually traveled there, people raised money for some of their friends to be able to go and represent for them and for the ones who couldn’t all go and travel such distances. So you had people arriving, you had buses arriving, there was an excitement in the air, you got the definite sense that people felt this is an important day, a day where we’re going to talk about the things that are really wrong in the world, all the outrages and injustices, and, in particular, at that moment, there was a lot of focus on these police murders and brutality. And we’re gonna talk about: do we have to take it, or can we put a stop to this, and how are we going to go forward from here? And partly it is taking a moral stand, but it’s more than that. There was a lot of discussion with both speakers encouraging the people to stand up and fight this stuff. Both speakers were very good about doing that. And there was a certain electricity in the air when, for instance, the buses came and there were people from Ferguson who arrived, and they came in chanting, "Hands Up, Don’t Shoot," and the entire audience...this was before the start of the program...the audience stood up and joined in: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot! I’m getting goose bumps even thinking about that. And everybody felt it.
And part of what was really, really special about this was the mix of people. And this is something I give great credit to the Revolutionary Communist Party and the leadership of Bob Avakian for, historically, going way back to the '70s and since then. I don’t know any other organization that brings people together in the way that BA’s leadership and the Revolutionary Communist Party does, in terms of being able to bring together people from what are often referred to as basic masses, in other words, the people from the inner cities, the people who might not have much education, who are poor and the most oppressed of the oppressed, and for whom daily life is a constant struggle under the boot of the oppressors...bringing them together with students, college students and others, including older people, from the middle strata, from the intellectual strata, from the artists and the scientists, and so on. So you have a Ph.D. professor, or a prominent person in the arts, who is sitting with somebody who is from one of the hardest inner city ghettos in the country—and they’re together! They’re not looking at each other with suspicion. They’re not looking at each other with fear or disdain. They’re together in this because they are being brought together by this project and by this whole determination to put an end to this degrading and dehumanizing oppression, and to make a better world. And whenever I’ve seen glimpses of that, going way back even to the '70s, even in how I, myself came forward, that was one of the things that has inspired me.
BA talked at the Dialogue, very movingly, about Wayne Webb, also known as Clyde Young, and what a hard life he came out of, and how he developed and emerged as a leader who became a member of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and what his whole life trajectory was about, coming from the hard streets and from the prisons. You have someone like that, and you have people who’ve gotten Ph.D.s in science or who are prominent artists or prominent members of society who can be in the same party and in the same movement for revolution. That tells you something. It doesn’t tell you everything, but it tells you something important about the nature and characteristics, the type of movement that this is. And this bringing together—the great diversity of the audience being brought together, at this moment in time when people are waking up and standing up against some of these egregious police murders and other abuses in society, and becoming, once again, more determined to figure out if there’s any real way we can change things for the better—and coming together with these two speakers who, in their own different ways, were speaking to the people. One was a speaker of conscience who describes himself as a revolutionary Christian who was encouraging intellectuals to have principle and integrity and to stand with the oppressed. There are not many people from the intellectual strata these days who are doing that, and I salute Cornel West for taking that position and promoting it and serving as an example of that.
And then you have Bob Avakian standing there, on the basis of decades of hard work developing a whole body of work—theory to advance the science of communism, to advance the science of revolution, to more deeply explain where the problems come from, what the strategy is for getting out of this mess, what the methods and approaches should be to stay on track and actually build a better world, to build a society that most human beings would want to live in. That’s a hallmark of Bob Avakian’s work, working on building a society that most human beings would want to live in. But, to do that, you have to understand the need to sweep away the system of capitalism-imperialism and to build a completely different society on a different foundation—economically, politically, culturally. He was bringing that to life. And he was also bringing to bear the strategy for today. You know, it was brief [laughs]. Some idiots were complaining that he spoke too long. Actually, a lot of people were glued to their seats and wanted to hear even more, if there’d only been more time. But luckily, we have his whole body of work and the website at revcom.us is full of books, articles, speeches. There’s the film Revolution—Nothing Less! which is six hours of exposition from Bob Avakian’s work, which people should really get into. There’s BAsics, which is a really good book to start with, which also points people to the major works that things are taken from. So there’s no shortage of materials to go to.
But at least, in that short period of time, you were able to get a feel for the strategy for an actual revolution, what it means to work towards that, what it means to provide leadership, what is the nature of leadership, what is the role of new people in relation to that, why everybody needs to come into this process, and there’s a place for you no matter where you come from, there’s a place for you in this process, in this revolutionary process, and there was a lot of modeling of the kind of culture in society that we would want to bring into being. And then there were some very serious discussions of the connection between the very necessary fights of today—the protests, for instance, around Ferguson, and so on—and the actual struggle for revolutionary power, the seizure of power. What is the connection, how does one help build the other?
And there was at least preliminary discussion of some of the work that’s been done to bring out the real possibilities for how to actually win. That working on revolution isn’t just a good moral thing to be doing—you actually have to do it in a way that you have a chance of winning and not being crushed. BA spoke about that some, and he pointed people to some key documents that are available on that revcom.us website: the documents “On the Strategy for Revolution”; and “On the Possibility of Revolution,” which is a document that talks about the strategy for the actual seizure of power, and how you might have a chance of winning instead of being crushed by the forces of the other side. And then he was also pointing to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—and...I have to say it just for a second here...that’s an incredible document that I don’t think enough people have actually looked at, or even leafed through briefly, to get a sense of it. There is actually a Constitution, for a new society, that has been developed based on the work brought forward by Bob Avakian, his whole new synthesis of communism. So if you wanna know what kind of society Bob Avakian’s work is trying to bring into being and lead people towards, you have something very concrete that you can dig into, that talks about the rule of law under socialism and what kind of freedoms there would be, how you would organize the economy, education...I mean, every imaginable question.
So, there was a lot presented there at the Dialogue, in a short period of time. There was enough, I think, to whet a lot of people’s appetite to actually go and dig further into this and join in, both in the struggles of today that are very necessary: again, things like the police murders, and on a number of other fronts, including what is happening in terms of women and the attacks on abortion—this is basically a way to enslave women, to deny them the right to their own reproduction, to control their own reproduction—and other abuses, and the wars, and the environment, and so on. There was an outlining of a lot of that, and then there was a pointing to where people could go to learn a lot more and to get into a lot more.
And something else I want to say about the Dialogue is that there was this wonderful affectionate, warm, rapport between the two speakers, which was also a model. These are two people who, with their differences, care about each other greatly, and appreciate each other deeply. There was a lot of warmth, and both people just came off as really warm, generous-minded individuals, and there was just a wonderful comradely atmosphere between them that I thought also was in sharp contrast to the kind of culture that prevails today. It was a good model of how you could have differences—and neither one of them was going to throw away their principles, you know, they had their differences and they were going to make those differences clear—but not only did they also bring out all the points that they agreed on, and the need to fight injustice and oppression, but they served as a model of how to handle differences. This is very important: They were modeling how people should relate to each other when they have differences. Because they were more concerned with the conditions of the oppressed and what to do about it than about themselves and their own egos. Because both people were much more focused on that, they found it in themselves to interact in a principled way, and with generosity of spirit and comradeliness. Nobody was—to be crude, nobody was kissing ass to anybody else. When there were differences, there were differences. But they were very respectful and principled and willing to dig into things. And that was a model that a lot of other people in society should actually be inspired by and try to emulate. This is what the people should do. When you have differences, you should struggle over substance and not...look, there’s generally way too much of a culture in current society of nasty attacks and gossip and snarkiness and petty complaints and petty criticism. When people dedicate their whole lives, and this is certainly the case...you want to talk about Bob Avakian, he has spent his entire life dedicating himself to trying to serve the people, to trying to bring into being a better world, to fighting for that...he could have feathered his own nest, he could have just made out his own life to be better for himself. But this is not what he’s done. He’s dedicated his whole life to working on the problems of why there are so many outrages and oppression and so on, and what to do about it. That deserves respect, that deserves appreciation, and it deserves being looked into critically but deeply, to really try to grapple with what it is that he’s bringing forward that is new and different and should be learned from.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
Updated March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
$20,000 is needed by March 25—to fund the launch of the new film and the beginning of major promotion:
Giving generously to REVOLUTION AND RELIGION will give huge numbers of people the chance to experience Bob Avakian through this film up close—digging into why revolution is necessary, possible, and can bring about a radically new world, and to see BA and Cornel West deeply wrestle with one of the biggest questions facing humanity today. They model a morality that refuses to accept injustice, that pours heart and soul into standing together for a radically new and different world. Every donation contributes to spreading this ethos that is so urgently needed.
EVERYONE can raise funds: from bake sales and tamale sales in the neighborhoods to several-hundred-dollar donations from professionals to several-thousand-dollar donations from those with more money. Everyone who is learning about this film or about Bob Avakian for the first time, everyone who has been active in the movement for revolution for some time, every BA Everywhere Committee that is dedicated to raising funds to making the work and leadership of BA known everywhere... Everyone. Here are some basic ideas for how to raise funds:
Be in touch with the national BA Everywhere campaign for help and to share experience. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll post correspondence so that everyone can learn from our collective experience. This will help move the campaign toward the goal. Check back here often to see where we are in relation to raising $20,000 by March 25.
25 percent of the goal has been reached—LET'S GO!
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
"How Soon Could This Revolution Happen?"
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Several of us got together recently to look at clips from the upcoming new film of the Dialogue that were shown at the BA Everywhere dinners in February. Before we got together we read the excerpt from an interview with Ardea Skybreak about the Dialogue (“ARDEA SKYBREAK, ON ATTENDING THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN BOB AVAKIAN AND CORNEL WEST”). Among us were an artist, a middle school teacher in an oppressed neighborhood, and a social worker who has worked with diverse communities.
We had all been at the live Dialogue and it was exciting to be taken back to that day in November in Riverside Church by Ardea Skybreak’s poetic and deep description of what that was like. But even more, through her eyes, we got a greater appreciation for what BA and Cornel West were doing in that Dialogue, why many more people should see the new film in this moment, and how much can be learned by going back to it more than once.
I wanted to give Revcom’s readers a flavor of how the interview with Ardea Skybreak impacted this group of young professionals in working out their own thinking about the world and revolutionary transformation in this moment.
Teacher: Reading the interview with Ardea Skybreak made me think about the stamp the Dialogue put on the movement and the moment since the non-indictments in Ferguson and Staten Island. BA and Cornel West were really modeling something in how they related to each other, which I didn’t recognize until I read the interview.
Artist: In the interview, Ardea Skybreak, who is a scientist, 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.
Social worker: BA unpacks how he came to the conclusions he came to; he’s a social scientist looking at all of it: art, culture, looking at all different sources, it’s a large net. It’s not his “narrative”—he’s working on how to get at the truth.
Artist: This Dialogue was about a whole different future society. People’s sights are so low, you hear a lot about how fucked up this is and how fucked up that is, and it’s very grounded just in what is going on now and not stepping back to what can we imagine for the future. People who are supposed to be for women’s rights have such low demands and low sights, you’ll be happy to take anything like a “fair wage” or a handful of women CEOs. What about a whole new society, not based in what exists now? Let your imagination run wild! BA lays out the biggest thing you can dream, and how it could be reality, so let’s organize and push people around that. Not the drumbeat of bullshit like body cameras for police, the “be realistic” shit that leaves things the way they are.
Teacher: Right! Woo hoo, we’re supposed to be happy about a plus-size model in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition! They put out this bullshit to just try to keep us from erupting.
But if people’s basic needs aren’t met, it’s very hard for them to have time to even imagine something different. BA makes this point that the same reasons people are in this shit and have trouble being in the movement for revolution is why we need revolution. I have one student who has a lot of problems and does a lot of really screwed up shit. So her mom comes in for a conference and she’s dragging this big oxygen tank. And she’s not old. How does something like this impact on how the kids are struggling? This woman is taking care of her kids and her grandniece and all kinds of stuff, it’s an everyday struggle. How does this family sit around and talk about a future society? This is exactly the reason we need something totally different. Screw this!
That part where BA says, “It’s not weak to love!”—I want to put that up in my classroom, because these teenage guys only know they have to be hard, they can’t show weakness... The parts of the Dialogue where BA talks about what the police do to the youth... this names what they feel, they need to see it.
Artist: How soon could this actual revolution that BA is working to lead happen? It’s the Selma 50th anniversary; this kid just got killed by the cops in Madison, Wisconsin. I see a lot of random tweeting now about how “the whole damn system is guilty.” How fast can things happen? Some of us have trouble if we’ve been strategizing and expecting this for a long time, imagining how things can change very fast. But the anger could boil over very quickly, especially among the people who could be the backbone of a revolution. Look what happened when people stood up in Ferguson and didn’t back down. They (the system and the authorities) let it go for a little while—after so much talk about the people in Egypt resisting dictators, it didn’t look so good to the rest of the world when they suppress protest and we’re supposed to be spreading “democracy.”
Social worker: But they still suppressed it, it didn’t matter.
Teacher: People were standing up and fighting the power, and transforming the people, in Ferguson. It didn’t just go directly to sparking a revolution, but what was accomplished and how does that get taken forward? The New York Times headlines on any given day are mostly indicating that a whole lot is really wrong! There is more questioning of the legitimacy of this system. How can people fight the power in more strategic ways and with more people knowing how to do that and then the scales could start to tip to where a revolution could be possible? I’ve also said, “Well, that didn’t work” when people have stood up in the past and it didn’t just keep going. But maybe that’s not the way to look at this. If people don’t keep coming out every time, does that mean we were wrong, or we lost? I don’t think so.
Artist: I think lots of people need to see this film right now because it helps people realize what’s possible when they can see a model of what the future could look like and how to get there, like seeing BA and Cornel West argue and get into it in a principled way. These are two people with very different ideologies and they share a strong and deep love for humanity. You see in the Dialogue how they wrangle with each other and come to some truth about getting people out of this situation, how they are leading people. Everyone won’t have the same ideology and think the same way all the time, but if at the heart you want change, you have to figure out the way out. If you feel like you have no power and nothing to contribute, you will go with whatever your situation is. But if you were inspired by seeing people standing up in Ferguson and not backing down, this is just a little bit of the kind of power you can have and it’s your responsibility to be part of a movement to bring a new society into being.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
by Lenny Wolff | March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
I want to share with readers some highlights of an afternoon I spent with the Revolution Club in Chicago in February. I asked to meet with the club so I could learn how people were seeing the situation right now, what they were confronting, what they were learning, and what they were thinking. I said a few things at the beginning about the basic problem humanity faces, and the solution brought forward by BA, and the importance of boldly promoting this. I talked about how it was far from impossible that out of the contradictions that are boiling right now a revolutionary situation could develop—depending in part on what we do now, along with the development of other things. This in turn led to the statement on strategy, and the importance of the people who are conscious today working to influence millions and preparing to lead them when the all-out struggle for power becomes possible. We also got into BA’s new piece, “What Is a Revolutionary Situation,” which goes into what that situation looks like (and lets us measure where we’re at in relation to that at any given time). From there we got deep into things—people had a lot of ideas. I can’t get into it all, but I’m going to lay out a few things that I think were particularly important.
The first point goes back to the strategy statement, and the importance of those thousands who today are influencing millions toward revolution. When we think about that, it's important to keep going back to and summing up and building on what the club has accomplished. At one point we went around the room, and people talked about what they thought were important things the club has done.
And this club has done a LOT of important things in just the past few months. The Revolution Club put out a proclamation to the community on fighting the real enemy and not letting ourselves get turned against each other. They took some very important actions on the oppression of women, including taking out the compendium from BA on the oppression of women and getting into a lot of struggle with the people in the community and movements themselves over this. Then right after that, members of the club rushed down to Ferguson, the day after things began to jump, and played a critical front-line role. They mobilized people to go to the Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West. They stepped to the forefront of the actions in November and December to “shut shit down” after the pigs who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner were let off. And there’s many other things I’m forgetting.
The point is that the Revolution Club in Chicago has had a big, if still beginning, effect on people’s thinking. They’ve been right out there in the thick of the battle and promoting BA and revolution—and taking some heavy charges from the state as a result. In other words, they’ve been fighting the power, and transforming the people, FOR revolution. It helps sometimes to step back and see the effect that you have had.
As we got into this, the comrades in the club were realizing and talking about the importance of going back out among the oppressed people very broadly, and at the same time going very broadly into the society, to win support for the comrades who are facing charges... and doing this as part of building for the very powerful national outpouring against police murder on April 14.
A second big point that we got into from many different angles concerned the fact that the people who run this empire do not have it all together. Yes, they are definitely powerful and vicious, and not to be taken lightly in any way, shape, or form. But they are also riddled with contradictions. There were a lot of different ways this came up: Who really runs the government? Could we bring them down if Black people and other oppressed people would boycott the system? Are the people still too passive? And then the big question: Could these people on top really be defeated if and when it comes down to an all-out struggle for power, and what do we have to be doing now to prepare for that possibility?
I can’t get into all the rich back-and-forth on this. I can and will, however, strongly recommend going back to the Party’s statement on strategy, which gets into a lot of this, and also "On the Possibility of Revolution," which gets into the strategy for the all-out struggle for power. One good place everyone could start would be the filmed speech by BA, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, the last part of the second disk and first part of the third—maybe clubs could watch this together.
What we’re doing right now is most of all getting ready—preparing the terrain, preparing the people and preparing the vanguard: “for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.” This runs on two tracks. The main track is, again, fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution. But we’ve also got to be studying the doctrine that has been developed for the all-out struggle for power—when that is on the agenda—and working to contribute to that process.
Three, there was a lot of wrangling over what is theory, and what’s the point of theory anyway. Coming into the meeting, one young comrade had written up some questions based on watching that part of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! that I recommended above. These included: “As a youth that is actively involved in the revolution, how can I prepare myself better to become a leader?” And then, right after that, “A lot of youth feel like the RCP just tries to push a new order into people’s minds and it’s nothing but theory based on past events. How can I approach that?”
Well, the answers to those two things are very linked. BA makes the point in BAsics that the qualities of leadership are not innate or genetic. “All these qualities are things that can be learned, even though they are not, and they cannot be, learned all at once. Developing as a communist, like everything else, is a process and it proceeds through spirals. And it is marked by being repeatedly confronted with the need to make leaps and ruptures at critical junctures when the challenges become particularly acute.”
Now, making those leaps is not just a matter of theory—but it does require theory. In other words, you need the theoretical tools to understand and dissect, or take apart, the reality you are facing, to figure out what to do. You need this especially if things are complex. And revolutions are very complex.
So we’ve got to get into and learn better how to apply theory. Part of that is “based on past events”—that is, learning from those who have gone before and tried to make revolution. That’s really crucial. You don’t start from scratch in a science. At the same time, the science of revolution is more than that—it takes in the scientific method itself, most of all, and knowledge that is gained in many other spheres of society besides revolution and attempts at revolution (even as, again, that is one very significant part of theory).
Revolutionary theory, and all science for that matter, is NOT just a collection of “answers.” Seeing it that way actually goes against the scientific method. And people who have the ability to understand certain parts of theory shouldn’t see that as “their thing,” or put down others who come at it differently or are just learning. That actually discourages people, and turns them away from getting into it. We’ve got to learn to struggle with each other in a good way. At one point, we read aloud the whole quote I just referred to—BAsics 6:12—to not only get to how do we develop as leaders, but how do we relate to each other, and help bring out other people’s strengths. A lot of the people at the session brought up and were moved by how BA and Cornel West were able to disagree on some things, but at the same time have a very strong unity and spirit of mutual learning.
This leads to the last big thing that struck me—we have to keep going back to what is the problem and what is the solution, constantly deepening our own understanding of this and insisting on it with others. People in the club told how they run up against people who have been misled and miseducated all their lives about communism... about people who have been told that RCP is a cult... and some of them have a hard time with their families, who struggle with them in this way. People had some good ideas on how to go at this—one person said that she has thought for a long time there needs to be a revolution, and here are people thinking that too, and when people say back to her “I agree, but...” she tells them “No BUTS because with that ‘but’ you are erasing everything came before the ‘but.’”
In fact, there is absolutely no need to be defensive at all, if we stick with reality. The question is always, what is the problem? Taking people back to that, like BA does. And, with that, what is the SOLUTION, and especially the fact that there even IS a solution, and it's BA that’s actually brought that solution forward and this is why he is so important to the people, and why people need to get into what he’s saying and defend him. Like we say on the BA page on the website, right at the top, “Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.” We should be letting people in on this!
Of course, there was a lot more that we got into. One person had written a response to the letter in Revolution last December on the clubs that had somehow gotten lost; I think it would be good to print it soon [editor's note: the letter has since been printed at revcom.us]. Another person and I went back-and-forth on religion, going off different examples. But I guess my closing point for now would be that our site should be a place where what people in the clubs are thinking and grappling with, and what the clubs are doing not just in fighting the power but in transforming the people very broadly, where all this is getting reported on and wrangled with.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revcom.us/Revolution received this report:
On March 7-8, there were protests and celebration dinners in a number of cities across the U.S. (New York, L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland, and Chicago) in response to the call: “Get Ready for International Women’s Day March 8, 2015! Break All the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!” The protests were bold and uncompromising actions that brought the fight for the liberation of women into the street, right onto the doorsteps and even inside the buildings of the institutions most responsible for shaming, hating, and oppressing women.
These protests brought to light the truth about the situation that women face: “Across the globe, women face rape and abuse at the hands of soldiers, law enforcement, fathers and brothers, even from those who are supposed to be their most ‘intimate lovers.’ Women face thousands of years of stigma and shame, preached at them from religious patriarchs out of Dark Ages scriptures who command them to obey their husbands and fathers ‘as the lord.’ Women—and young girls—are kidnapped, drugged, battered and stripped naked, and sold as sex slaves. Women are demeaned and humiliated through pornography. Women are imprisoned under veils and burkhas, denied the right to travel or work or even drive without permission from the men who 'own' them. Women are forced to have children against their will—or forced to risk their lives to avoid this fate, with 47,000 women dying each year around the world from unsafe illegal abortions.” (From “Get Ready for International Women’s Day March 8, 2015!...”) The idea that this has to continue to be the kind of world we live in was rejected, and the idea of a whole new way the world could be was brought out—there was an attitude of THIS STOPS TODAY...we will NOT be silent or polite in the face of systematic oppression...we will not accept slavery in any form!
In San Francisco and Cleveland, there were concentrations of the anti-abortion movement that were taken on. In Cleveland there was an anti-abortion convention that included participation by one of the Duggar family. (The Duggars have a reality show called 19 Kids and Counting that openly touts the ideas of traditional Christian patriarchy, especially as concerns the position of women as breeders and property.) People went inside and chanted, “Abortion on demand and without apology, without this basic right, women can’t be free!” Though they were escorted out quickly, they were able to disrupt this convention and confront it—with the intent of reclaiming the moral high ground from those who openly blame and shame women for having sex and/or getting abortions. Afterward, there was a car caravan with a sound system that drove through crowded areas letting people know about IWD, and the truth about the war on women. There were positive responses to this, and one person who participated had this to say: “Each time we have bold actions like this I can just feel the difference we are making by doing so; we are waking people up to the reality of where abortion rights, women rights, and LGBT rights are at, at this moment. We ARE NOT going to stop fighting!”
In San Francisco there was a coalition of broad forces that organized against ArchBIGOT Cordileone, who has added a Dark Ages/anti-LGBT/anti-woman “Morality Clause” to the Catholic schools’ teachers’ handbook, which is set to go into effect on September 1. While many were outside chanting and protesting the Archbishop and his “Morality Clause,” there were a few people who went inside, straight up to the front of the church, and delivered this announcement: “This is an announcement from Stop Patriarchy, on International Women’s Day, to the congregation of St. Mary’s Cathedral. Reject Archbishop Cordileone! Cordileone’s so-called ‘Morals Clause,’ dictating the teaching of backwards values in San Francisco’s Catholic schools, and imperiling the jobs of progressive teachers, is a concentration of a patriarchal, Dark Ages morality that is holding humanity back, here and around the world. Being LGBT is NOT ‘immoral.’ Sexuality is NOT ‘immoral.’ Abortion is NOT ‘immoral’—and is actually essential for women to be free. Young people: It is not necessary for us to live in a world where women are treated like property, and gay people like freaks. Defend your teachers, resist this bigot Archbishop in any way you can, and to those who have started to fight this—don’t stop now! When ‘tradition’ binds you to an oppressive past...BREAK ALL THE CHAINS!” As they were escorted out by church-goers and church officials, they continued to chant, “BREAK ALL THE CHAINS!”
In NYC and Seattle there were actions that went out into the streets and through the main downtown areas, and to the doorsteps of places that represent concentrations of the war on women. In NYC this meant starting off at St. Patrick’s Cathedral—this church is a well-known tourist landmark, and the leadership of this church, in particular Cardinal Timothy Dolan, has been responsible for spearheading attacks on birth control.
In Seattle people protested Swedish Hospital which, as part of a trend that is happening across Washington State and other areas across the U.S., used to be run by a secular provider but has been taken over by a Catholic provider and is now guided by so-called “ethical and religious directives for care.” This has had a big impact in the quality and availability of abortion care, and protesters spoke out against this sort of quiet erosion of abortion rights, including a story of a woman who was denied the right to receive a medically necessary abortion from her primary doctor.
When women are denied—in any way—their right to abortion and birth control, their humanity is stripped away from them, and they are reduced to being incubators. Abortion is NOT immoral, abortion is a perfectly moral and responsible decision, and it’s a common and safe medical procedure. What is immoral, harmful, and incredibly dangerous to women is when abortion and birth control are inaccessible, or illegal. When this is the case women die—an estimated 5,000 women a year before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the U.S. in 1973—and women’s lives are foreclosed to the dictates of the church, the state, and forced motherhood. Forced motherhood is female enslavement.
In New York people went to the Eighth Avenue porn district, and to a theater showing Fifty Shades of Grey. Some men told the marchers, “You should all go kill yourselves” and laughed, repeating this several times. At the same time, people—including women and men from other countries as well as the U.S.—stopped to join in, thanked the marchers, and some even had the courage to step up during the open mic to share why they support women’s liberation.
Throughout the march downtown and down to the porn store on 1st Avenue in Seattle, people did mic checks and asserted repeatedly that “Women are NOT hos or bitches! Women are NOT Punching bags! Women are NOT breeders or incubators! Women are NOT sex objects! Women are FULL HUMAN BEINGS, capable of equality in every realm!” As protesters went through the shopping area downtown they chanted, “Imagine, Create, a World Without Rape!” The porn store/strip club that protesters went to is across the street from Pike Place Market—which is a tourist attraction with many shops and known to be “family friendly”... and then across the street is a billboard advertising that women are for sale. People spoke out about how porn and the objectification of women’s bodies fuels rape and sexual violence, how it dehumanizes all women, how pornography is NOT society becoming more comfortable with sex—it’s about society accepting the sexualized degradation of women. As the marchers left the populated market area, they chanted, “Abortion rights under attack, we can’t breathe! Rape and violence, we can’t breathe! Mass incarceration, we can’t breathe! Destruction of the planet, we can’t breathe! Police brutality, we can’t breathe!”
In LA, members of the Revolution Club went to an IWD rally and concert where there were around 500 people gathered and they distributed Break ALL The Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution, and a promo for the March 28 premiere screening at the LA Theatre of the film of the Cornel West-Bob Avakian Dialogue on Revolution and Religion. During the rally women spoke about sexual violence towards women, the disappearances of women in Mexico and Canada, and about the history of IWD. Two teams from the Revolution Club went to different parts of town, one to South Central at an intersection known to many residents as a place where the trafficking of young girls happens. The other team went to the Hustler store in West Hollywood to protest against pornography, a multibillion-dollar industry that depicts and celebrates the kinds of sexual violence against women that was talked about earlier at the rally.
At the celebration dinners, a video was shown of highlights of Stop Patriarchy actions since last year’s International Women’s Day, standing up in defiance and fighting against the oppression of women: from the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, to taking on the anti-abortionists, to the Fuck 50 Shades protests. The Revolution Club members in LA talked about what they did and what they learned this IWD, and brought out that the Revolution Club is about the fact that humanity needs communism and revolution, that we need to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution, and as people are learning more about the need and possibility of making revolution, they are running with the club, not sitting around waiting for the revolution or trying to learn as much as they can AND THEN join. No, the Revolution Club is for those who are sick and outraged at how people have to live under this system, whether it be the plundering and destroying of the planet, the degradation and subjugation of women, the brutality and slow genocide Black and brown youth face, or the oppression of an entire section of people.
Everywhere we were on this IWD weekend, people heard that there actually is a war against women, that this is NOT hyperbole or hysteria, this is actually happening. Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten, every SINGLE DAY 3-4 women are killed by their so-called partners, and 1 out of 4 female college students will be raped or sexually assaulted while in college. This war on women is being waged in many forms, in the most intimate and private ways as well as publicly, normalized to the point where most people don’t even recognize this kind of abuse or oppression for what it is, or they are internalizing this oppression and blaming themselves, or blaming women in general for the crimes committed against them.
And everywhere we were, people saw us fighting back, not accepting this world as it is, and fighting for a whole new world where women ARE treated as full human beings—and people were challenged to step into this struggle themselves. Much more is needed—this fight is not over, and WE ARE NOT GOING TO STOP FIGHTING UNTIL WOMEN ARE FREE!
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
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Through all this and much more, REVCOM.US acts as the hub and the pivot of a whole movement for revolution that is being built right here in the U.S., preparing the ground, preparing the people, and preparing the vanguard to get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for an actual all-out revolution with a real chance to win.
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Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
A Response to Obama's Speech at Selma
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
President Obama recently gave a major speech marking the 50th anniversary of Selma, the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for voting rights, denied to the vast majority of Black people in the South till the 1960s. This anniversary celebration, attended by tens of thousands, occurred in the context of “the Ferguson moment”—the nationwide response and attention to the epidemic of police murder of unarmed Black and Latino youth.
In this speech, Obama crafted a narrative of American history, of who “we” are, that weaves together a richly multicultural fabric. He does this in a poetic and polemical fashion in a section that begins with “that’s what it means to love America, that’s what it means to believe in America, that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional.” With a few illustrative examples of what he does—and does not—say, let’s look at how this narrative stacks up against the actual history of this country (the text below in italics are quotes from Obama's speech):
* We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, and entrepreneurs and hucksters. That’s our spirit. That’s who we are.
First, the inclusion of Sacajawea may be a multicultural flourish but, really, does anyone think she was some kind of equal partner in this enterprise?
But more to the point, what did they—the farmers and miners, and entrepreneurs and hucksters—stampede over? Over millions and millions of Native peoples and their land, slaughtering them and stealing their land with the full backing and protection of the U.S. Army. Nowhere in Obama’s recounting of the history of this country is there mention of the genocide of Native peoples that forms one of the foundational pillars of this country, along with the destruction of whole cultures and their ways of life.
* We’re the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande because we want our kids to know a better life.
First, Obama has real gall in invoking this at a time when the border with Mexico, marked by the Rio Grande River, is one of the most militarized borders in history, with thousands of immigrants forced to risk their lives in crossing the border, and many losing their lives as they are forced into ever more dangerous circumstances by the U.S. Border Patrol. There is real gall in invoking this when Obama himself is responsible for deporting millions of the hopeful strivers who cross the Rio Grande, including kids from Central American countries, many of whom have been killed upon return.
But more to the point, why are the “hopeful strivers” compelled to make this life-threatening journey, for the possibility that their kids may have a better life? Because, as Bob Avakian says, the U.S. has fucked up their countries even more than it has done here. In a world dominated by capitalism-imperialism, with America as top dog, the workings of the system keep these countries in subordinate positions, poor and with little employment, even as millions are thrown off their land and means of subsistence every year. Along with this, the U.S. put in place, backed up, and sponsored brutal regimes in the countries of Central America—El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala—in order to continue maintaining their imperialist domination. This involved death squads to assassinate opponents of U.S. domination, and to make their economies completely subservient to U.S. interests. Particularly infamous among this gallery of rogues was the U.S.-backed Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who unleashed horrific and genocidal policies against the native Indian peoples. Where that was not possible, the U.S. sponsored murderous and reactionary insurgencies like the Contras in Nicaragua.
Obama’s narrative consciously and conveniently avoids a crucial aspect of U.S. history and a defining aspect of its current reality—as the dominant imperialist power in the world today, with its brutal wars for empire and support of tyrannical dictatorships to maintain domination in vast sections of what we know as the Third World. Starting in the late 1800s and the conquest of Puerto Rico, which still remains a subjugated colony, and the colonization of Cuba and the Philippines, this has marched forward and escalated ever since. In this quest for imperial domination, it is worth noting that the only country to have used nuclear weapons is the U.S., at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan in World War 2, with the U.S. emerging as top dog in the capitalist-imperialist realm. In fact, this top-dog status, in essence, is what it means when chauvinists state that “America is exceptional,” defined and characterized by its dominant position to the rest of the world.
The U.S. has a “glorious” history of installing or supporting brutal dictatorships that serve its interests throughout the Third World. Pick a letter of the alphabet, and there you have it: A for Argentina, with its military junta rule in the1970s, to Z for Zaire, where Mobutu Sese Seko reigned for decades upon being installed as the ruler with the CIA-sponsored murder of Patrice Lumumba, a nationalist freedom fighter in the 1960s. Spin the globe, and you have the blood-stained hands of the U.S... El Salvador, Indonesia, East Timor, Iran, Haiti, Guatemala, Argentina, Brazil, Honduras, Mozambique, Egypt, Angola, the South African Apartheid regime, the genocidal policies of Israel against the Palestinians, the carpet-bombing of Vietnam and Cambodia, and now wars in Iraq, Afghanistan... and the list goes on and on and on.
None—absolutely none—of this found mention in Obama’s narrative. Of course, one can expect nothing less from a commander in chief of empire whose routine Tuesday morning “To-Do” task list includes approving “kill lists”—giving the order to assassinate by U.S. drones around the world (bombs which kill not only suspected “terrorists,” but scores and hundreds of ordinary people with the misfortune to be around those “suspects”—as documented here).
* We’re the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South. We’re the ranch hands and cowboys who opened up the West, and countless laborers who laid rail, and raised skyscrapers, and organized for workers’ rights.
In what has to be one of the most astounding and remarkable figures of speech, Obama has taken the slaves who built the White House and the economy of the South and seamlessly woven them into regular workers, on a continuum with those organizing for workers’ rights, with the transition being, of all things, ranch hands and cowboys.
What is coming to light through recent scholarship is that the entire economy of the U.S. was built on slavery—not just that of the South, but of the U.S. as a whole. This includes the textile and machinery factories, and the ship-building, trading, insurance and finance sectors of the North, and what eventually became Wall Street. This is particularly brought to light in Edward Baptist’s new book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, where the author documents the unprecedented rise in cotton productivity that powered the growth of the American economy, but truly brings to life how this was brought about through the tremendous and unthinkable brutality inflicted on the slaves on a daily basis, some of which can be glimpsed as well in the film, Twelve Years a Slave, based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free Black man kidnapped into slavery.
The world-historic crimes of slavery are “whitewashed” in this continuum: the millions kidnapped from Africa, brought through the Middle Passage, if they survived it, and enslaved in brutal conditions. Daily lives of being whipped, lashed, and raped at master’s bidding, in the fields from sun-up to sun-down, and constantly living with the threat of separation from your family and closest kin. To equate the reality of chattel slavery with the American imagination of cowboys as having built this country is a cruel joke.
* We give voice to the voiceless, and tell truths that need to be told.
First, Obama has real gall in invoking this when he has prosecuted more whistle-blowers, “truth-tellers,” than all previous U.S. presidents combined. Witness Edward Snowden, who is forced into asylum and exile because he exposed Obama’s massive surveillance program.
But more to the point, these are the very voices in American history that have been brutally silenced by the system, either murdered, spending the rest of their lives in prison, or in exile. Fred Hampton and Little Bobby Hutton, among scores of Black Panthers killed and jailed by the system for “giving voice to the voiceless, telling truths that need to be told.” Malcolm X assassinated for the same, followed by MLK himself. In more recent times, Mumia Abu-Jamal, an ex-Black Panther and widely known as the voice of the voiceless, put on death row.
* We’re the inventors of gospel and jazz and blues, bluegrass and country, and hip-hop and rock and roll, and our very own sounds with all the sweet sorrow and reckless joy of freedom.
Bob Avakian has described this very phenomenon as skinning the ox twice—taking the music that emerges out of the pain and suffering of oppressed peoples and marshaling that in the service of the system that caused this oppression in the first place. Blues and jazz arose from the suffering of Black people, from slavery and its legacy in America—and Obama then turns it around to use this as demonstrating how great America is? Sorry, Mr. President, you don’t get to skin this ox twice!
Obama is attempting to distinguish from the fascistic right of the ruling class, which, in a white supremacist reading of America’s history, simply erases Black people, immigrants, and women in what he calls the “airbrushing of history.” But the irony in all of the above is that his telling of America’s history is no less an airbrushed narrative of empire, and in the process, a rationalization and defense, and not its real history—the ugly, genocidal, and brutally oppressive history of this country.
Mr. President, “we” don’t need either narrative, “we” need and want the reality.
In his speech at Selma, Obama makes two core and intersecting arguments.
First, that “racial division” is not “inherent to America,” and while there remains much to be done, things are getting better, with the challenge “If you think nothing’s changed in the past 50 years, ask somebody who lived through Selma or Chicago or Los Angeles of the 1950s.” With a pointed recognition and awareness of the context in which he speaks, Obama states, “What happened in Ferguson may not be unique, but it's no longer endemic. It’s no longer sanctioned by law or custom. And before the Civil Rights Movement, it surely was.” At the same time, he puts forth the “belief that America is not yet finished,” this was “one leg in our long journey toward freedom,” and we are—and need to be—on the road toward “a more perfect union.”
Second, that the mechanisms and structures of democracy are the means to do this, giving a central role to “we, the people” in this, and invoking the march in Selma, “what could be more American than ... coming together to shape their country’s course.” Including, in this, the “occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo” a seemingly bold call by the president, followed by his folding this into the framework of “This is America.” The whole speech invokes and is interwoven with the history of struggle in this country for social change and inclusion, from Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights struggle to Susan B. Anthony and women’s suffrage.
My immediate comment is that while contemporary writers often aspire to craft and author "The Great American Novel," there is no fiction greater than "The Great American Narrative" that Obama weaves as "The Story Teller in Chief," one oft-trumpeted and propagated, and in this case lent a multicultural flourish with references to James Baldwin and Langston Hughes, perhaps a first in American presidency. But to see why this is the case, it is important to assess these arguments against reality, to see whether they correspond to the workings of society in its underlying dynamics, to the actual history of this country, America—and in this context, to really scientifically probe what is the real problem, and what is the solution, that is, what is really needed for the emancipation not only of Black people but all of humanity. Without this being the definitive last word, four brief points in this context:
* First, Mr. President, Racial Division IS Inherent to America—In Its History and Under This System.
“There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.”—BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian
The history of this country really begins with and is deeply interwoven with slavery and its continuing legacy—in all aspects of society, from the economy to politics to social relations—all now within the framework of and driven by the dynamics of an overall system, the capitalist-imperialist system.
Slavery and the continuing super-exploitation of Black people have been foundational to the entire economy of America. But what came with this in terms of political structures was equally if not more damning for Black people. Starting with the Constitution itself and the much-revered Founding Fathers, what was instituted is a notion of democracy and equality for a master class of whites, with others being relegated to the status of pariahs, sub-humans—the Blacks, mulattoes, and Indians. That is how the Constitution, with its Founding Fathers, slave-owners mainly from Virginia, can proclaim equality for all while keeping Black people enslaved.
This continues to be a defining trait of America—under this system. America was born as a democracy for those who owned and traded in slaves, and those who financed all that—and that’s not irrelevant. Indeed, it conditions it down to today. The expansion of this democracy cannot escape its birth. We cannot go into this at length here, but Avakian in his work Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, explores this at some length, including Thomas Jefferson leading the expansion of slavery to Louisiana and other states, and its implications for the political structures that have grown and evolved on this foundation. This was then further reinforced and given a mass expansion by Andrew Jackson wherein a populist white equality was asserted and counter-posed to the brutal slaughter of Native peoples and the further expansion and intensification of slavery.
The trappings of what is now called Jacksonian democracy, in which the franchise (right to vote) was widely extended to white men of all classes, was a very explicit bargain that these white men would be free to take new territory from Indians with the protection of the U.S. Army and that they would have the chance to own slaves or at least to rise in the slave system. It was not so very different from the birth of democracy in England, where the extension of the franchise went along with the entrenchment and expansion of empire. That is, the model that was developed was one where you gave people who were not the most directly exploited a status, a hope and a stake: the status was that of a “white man” who had the right to “pursue his fortune” through both political and economic self-seeking; the hope was that you too could rise to be a slave-holder or otherwise “prosperous” individual (often based on the hope for taking over land stolen from dispossessed indigenous people, and this was explicitly so with Jackson); and the stake was in the continued existence, with some modifications to accommodate parvenus, or “upstarts,” of the status quo. This so-called “American dream” has been based throughout history on the existence of an oppressed pariah status for Black people, Native Americans, Mexicans, and immigrants from areas of the world dominated and oppressed by imperialism (Asia, Africa, and Latin America).
Let’s look at a couple of examples since then. Fast forward a couple of decades and you have Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation of slaves during the Civil War. This was, contrary to the Great American Narrative, something he was primarily compelled to do to preserve the Union and win the war, not mainly out of the moral abhorrence of slavery as is often attributed to him. But what came right after? Reconstruction, and the promise of 40 acres and a mule for the formerly enslaved—representing the promise of America. But federal troops were soon withdrawn from the South, unleashing the wanton domination of the KKK, the institution of lynching as a form of social control and mass terror—all within the framework of Jim Crow.
Fast forward decades and you have the New Deal of FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt). This was passed in cooperation and compromise with Southern Democrats, at the very height of lynching, significantly strengthening white supremacy and Jim Crow, even while extending social welfare to the white populace at large. The year 1934, during the New Deal, witnessed the lynching of Claude Neal, who, accused of rape and murder, was stabbed, burned and castrated, forced to eat his own genitals with a crowd of 4,000 witnessing his lynching. Yet the anti-lynching bill was stymied by the Southern Democrats, in cooperation with Northerners, and what some scholars have described as FDR’s strategy of “pragmatic forgetfulness with regard to racial matters.”
Throughout America’s history under this system, Black people have been the victims of both conscious policy and the workings of the system itself that further integrate white supremacy into every facet of society, and marshal them into its service.
Let’s take police brutality and mass incarceration, what some have called the New Jim Crow, one of the sharpest and bluntest instruments of violence and forms of social control against the oppressed, especially against Black and Latino youth today.
President Obama said that what happened in Ferguson, with the murder of Michael Brown, is “no longer endemic, no longer sanctioned by law or custom.” No longer sanctioned by law? What about the non-indictments of virtually every single cop who has killed a Black or Latino youth, most recently Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Danny Pantaleo for the murder of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York—how is this not being “sanctioned by law”? Obama has said things are getting better—and in the two-week time period surrounding his speech, unarmed Black men have been shot in Madison, Wisconsin; Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Aurora, Colorado, along with the coming to light of a killing in Pasco, Washington, of an unarmed Latino immigrant. The Department of Justice itself says that the institutionalization of raising revenues through ticketing for low-level offenses and then jailing people for non-payment is pervasive not only in Ferguson but in virtually every other suburb of St. Louis—and yes, is “sanctioned by law.” How does one baldly assert that things are better when it is now estimated that one in three Black males born now is slated to be swallowed up in the criminal injustice system? How is this “better”?
And responding to President Obama directly, how many more of our youth are to be killed, or lives destroyed in prison, as we continue on this “long journey towards freedom.” Sorry, 250 years is enough to conclude that time’s up for this system.
Let’s look at the larger reality: Look at any social indicator and Black people are at the very bottom—whether it be education, health, HIV/AIDS epidemic rates, housing, social welfare, poverty, or homelessness. In the realm of culture it was unmistakable that the bridge that Obama marched over in commemorating Selma is still named after the one-time Confederate general and Grand Dragon of the KKK, Edmund Pettus.
It is not just, as Obama stated, “this nation’s racial history still casts its long shadow upon us,” but that this nation’s racial history is interwoven into this fabric, integral to this system, to the point that they could not get rid of white supremacy even if they wanted to. This is not just some quantitative thing where every struggle within the framework of this system is going to gradually erode. What is needed is a radically new fabric, a new system through revolution, with a new economy and political system so we can go to work on erasing this legacy of slavery and getting beyond it towards emancipation.
* Second, Mr. President, It Is Not About Individuals Making It Out of This Meat-Grinder of a System; It Is About the Masses of People Crushed in It
Obama in his speech said “political and social barriers came down” and what we have is the “presence of African Americans who run boardrooms, who sit on the bench, who serve in elected office from small towns to big cities; from the Congressional Black Caucus all the way to the Oval Office.”
First, it has to be said that while the formal legalistic barriers of segregation and legal exclusion characteristic of Jim Crow may have changed with the civil rights struggle, underlying this formal equality is the living reality of inequality and immense “political and social barriers” of poverty and under-funded schools, run-down neighborhoods and the draw of the “street,” horizons of minimum-wage jobs, police harassment, murder and terror, a justice system stacked against Black youth, and the straightjacket of the school-to-prison pipeline. This is, as BA has put it, a meat-grinder of a system that spits people out, crushing lives and destroying spirits in the millions, but people are led, as Obama is leading people to do here, to focus on the precious few individuals who make it “out”—including all the way to the Oval Office and the highest offices of the land—to assert that things are getting better. While some individuals overcome these barriers, fundamental structural ones built into the fabric of this system and society continue to exist, and assert themselves for the population en masse, for the vast majority.
Determination decides who makes it out of the ghetto—now there is a tired old cliché, at its worst, on every level. This is like looking at millions of people being put through a meatgrinder and instead of focusing on the fact that the great majority are chewed to pieces, concentrating instead on the few who slip through in one piece and then on top of it all, using this to say that “the meatgrinder works”! (BAsics 1:11)
The basic point to note here is that some may make it “out,” but it is impossible for Black people as a whole to overcome these conditions en masse without destroying them, conditions which may appear natural but are historically evolved, in the economy, in social relations, and in the political and governing institutions. As Bob Avakian has put it,
Not only are different individuals “situated” within a larger system of production and social—and, in class society, class—relations, which are historically evolved and fundamentally independent of the wills of individuals, as individuals, but even though some individuals may be able to change their social-class status within capitalist society, the masses of people—and in particular the exploited masses in the lower sections of the proletariat, and others in oppressed social groups whose oppressed status is integral and indispensable to the prevailing capitalist society—cannot do so within the existing conditions and relations. As Marx very correctly, and profoundly, insists, they can do so, en masse, only by destroying these conditions and relations—only by overthrowing the system which embodies, and enforces, these conditions and relations.
(RUMINATIONS AND WRANGLINGS: On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning (Part 3))
That is why a revolution is necessary, for the individuals en masse to get free of these relations of oppression and exploitation in which they are trapped—and to radically transform society with new relations that aim to do away with all exploitation and oppression.
* Third, Mr. President, Who Is the “We” That Has Come Together to Shape the Country’s Course?
President Obama, in describing the original events at Selma within a larger theme of calling for “faith in America,” states, “What could be more American than ... plain and humble people ... coming together to shape their country’s course.”... and continuing, it is “the manifestation of a creed written into our founding documents: We the People... in order to form a more perfect union.”
This is a remarkable inversion of reality. First of all, every attempt by masses of people to fight oppression has been met by the armed force of the state--the various police agencies and, when the rulers deem it necessary, the army itself. This is particularly true of the civil rights movement, which Obama was supposedly commemorating--it was not just the Ku Klux Klan (which itself was backed by and could only function with the approval of the state) but the various local agencies and the FBI itself, which spied on and plotted against the civil rights movement. It is a fact that where there is oppression, there will be resistance. And people rise up and protest and rebel. And in response to this, the system at times, due to various considerations, and even as it is simultaneously hammering down on people with its state, makes concessions—all in order to contain threats to its legitimacy, and in an attempt to further strengthen its rule—not to relieve oppression and exploitation. To then take this and fold it into “faith in America” or this framework of American democracy is to take the sighs and the struggle of the oppressed and marshal them to strengthen the hands of the oppressor itself, the capitalist-imperialist system.
On this question of concessions, even the civil rights struggle played out against the backdrop of an inter-imperialist rivalry with the Soviet Union, wherein the U.S. was going around proclaiming the defense of democratic rights and trying to expand its influence in Africa and Asia, right when Black people were denied the right to vote in the South and were being lynched in extraordinary numbers. This became hard to maintain as a credibility gap mounted between U.S. rhetoric versus reality. This was a compelling factor in concessions made to the civil rights struggle, including MLK’s march across the bridge in Selma, in the 1960s.
Obama’s statement blatantly glosses over the fact that we live in a class society where there is a capitalist ruling class that controls the economy and the political structures that dominate and rule. Right from the founding—where did slaves “come together to shape the country’s course” or Black people after Reconstruction and during Jim Crow? Until we make revolution, the capitalist ruling class has state power. They, in various blocs and permutations, control the elections and who is considered a legitimate candidate, and more, what issues are considered legitimate for discussion. Is it ever up for vote on whether America should be imperialist or whether there should be an end to mass incarceration, or whether there should be a right to eat, and not be homeless or hungry in this wealthiest of countries? No. And why is this the case? Because until there is a revolution, “we the people” don’t fundamentally shape the country’s course, even while it is righteous to rebel against injustice and fight for rights and social justice with every fiber of our being. What “we” need to be doing—as we fight the power—is, fundamentally, to prepare to make revolution, to seize state power as soon as possible so that, yes, we do shape the country’s course to get rid of exploitation and oppression—here and around the world.
* Fourth, We Need a Revolution
Look, many people, progressive people who “know better.” are afraid to look at the essence of America, to look the problem squarely in the eye, because they are afraid they will look into an abyss—the lack of any alternative to America, the “best of all possible worlds.” To this, I say, NOT TRUE! The fabric of America under this system is blood-stained and soaked with the sufferings and deaths of billions across the planet—and this fabric can be radically re-forged through revolution to become not the America as we now know it, but a truly emancipatory one, without these relations of exploitation and oppression. This requires a strategy for revolution and a vision of what this alternative society can and should look like. Because of the work Bob Avakian has done, over many decades, and with a thoroughly scientific and fearlessly critical approach, we have both—concentrated in the RCP’s “On the Strategy for Revolution” and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). Bob Avakian’s work is precious, and at this moment in humanity’s history, represents the only real alternative to this world of horrors. One of the most important things you can do is to check this out, to go where your convictions and search for truth takes you, and if necessary, beyond your comfort zone. For it matters.
If you are one of these people, sick of what America does to people here and around the world, questioning your “faith in America,” I urge and invite you to watch REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. This historic Dialogue was held at Riverside Church in New York City in November of last year, attended by nearly 2,000 people from all sections of society; you can watch the simulcast at revcom.us, and the high-quality film starting March 28. This will give you a living sense of the revolution that we are talking about, and what a different society would feel like, with a different ethos and morality.
Let me leave you with a last word. President Obama states in his speech, Americans “don’t believe in equality of outcomes” but “expect equal opportunity.” This defines the horizons of his vision. Sounds reasonable as an abstract principle. But think about what this means in reality. That, if you are left behind in this system, in school, or laid off at work and cannot make rent or mortgage payments and end up homeless, it is YOUR FAULT! For you had the “equal” opportunity, and now it’s your personal responsibility in this dog-eat-dog world of “unequal outcomes.” If this morality, the best this system can do, sickens you to death, then you need to be part of this revolution, for this is what is needed—nothing less!
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
April 14: No Business as Usual! No set trippin! No sets! No hoods! No colors! We are not each other's "enemy."
Walk out of class! Don't go to school! Don't go to work!
Everybody into the streets! Everybody act and loudly say: no more to the police getting away with murdering Black and Latino people!
Everybody into the streets to disrupt the normal routine—a routine that includes—putting us in conditions where we must compete with each other—do dirty shit to one another—while “watching our backs”—shit like this in order to survive.
A routine that makes us fight—“hit up”—and kill each other over the “wrong color”—over “respect”—over “pay back”—in order to survive and find a place in this fucked up world.
A routine that makes Latinos “hit up,” “check” Blacks if they appear in the “wrong” hood. A routine that makes Blacks “hit up,” “check” Latinos if they appear in the “wrong” hood.
While the real enemy—this capitalist imperialist system—gives a green light to its enforcers—the killer cops—the murdering pig police—to brutalize and murder Black and Latino people—over and over again and again—to keep us in these fucked up conditions where every day they rob us of—they steal—our very humanity.
Brother Africa on Skid Row, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, Omar Abrego, Ezell Ford, Mayra Cornejo—the list goes on and on...
On April 14th—on this day—all sets—all colors—together—Blacks. Latinos. Loud and clear—a day of unity—where in one voice we say: no more of this shit!
Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party—the leader of the revolution—is right. In his New Year's message to us—you can find it @revcom.us—which says in part:
And what we do matters a great deal. Our lives should be, and can be, about something with meaning and purpose that is really worth living for and fighting for. Why should we do what they want us to do—killing and crippling each other, trying to beat down or beat out each other, ending up in jail, or paralyzed, or dead at an early age—instead of joining together to go up against the system that has got us in this mess in the first place? Why should we accept the lies that people who are of a different color, or live in a different place, or speak a different language, or love in a different way, are less than human and deserves to be locked up, or beaten down, or murdered? Why should girls and women be treated like things, whose only value is to be used for sex and having babies? Why should we go along with the sickening culture of this system which says money is more important than people, and people are only a means to make money? Why should we believe that “it's all in god's hands,” when all this horror and suffering is completely unnecessary and could be ended? Why should we accept the way things are, or just try to make things a little bit better, still living within this system that will keep on destroying the lives of human beings, and denying a decent future to the youth, all over the world?
We need to, and we can, do much better that this. We can change all this—we can change ourselves as we change the world—Fighting the Power, and Transforming the People, for REVOLUTION.”
FIGHT THE POWER, AND TRANSFORM THE PEOPLE, FOR REVOLUTION!
SHUT IT DOWN! NO BUSINESS AS USUAL!
Joe Veale and a member of the Revolution Club
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From the Atlanta Revolution Club:
On Monday March 9, Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by white DeKalb County (in the Atlanta metro area) police officer Robert Olson. Hill, known by his friends as Tony, was met by police after a neighbor reported that he was walking around the apartment complex naked and confused. Rather than trying to help him, the pig fired two shots into Tony’s chest, leaving him on the ground naked for over an hour as friends and neighbors begged them to cover his body as children got off their school buses. The cop claimed that Tony “lunged” at him, leading him to shoot him dead—however even the DeKalb County Chief of Police had to admit that Tony was unarmed. The cop was carrying a Taser and pepper spray, but instead chose to reach for his gun and take Tony’s life.
According to local news reports, Hill was in the Army and served a tour in Afghanistan before being medically discharged. Some reports also claim that he struggled with bi-polar disorder and his Twitter posts seem to support that claim. His posts on social media and accounts from his friends and neighbors who spoke with the Revolution Club Tuesday, also show a kind, loving person who was deeply concerned about the police killing Black and brown youth. Several of his recent posts ended with #blacklivesmatter.
Tuesday, the day after Tony’s murder, the Atlanta Revolution Club went to his neighborhood. When we got there we unfurled a massive Stop Mass Incarceration Network banner with the names and images of dozens of people slain by the police. Most of Tony’s neighbors are Latino, but despite some language and cultural barriers, they really seemed to love and respect him.
Within minutes we were surrounded by middle and high school youth on skateboards asking questions and reading the banner. They took handfuls of #ShutdownA14 stickers. A lot of people expressed that the police “treated them like garbage.” An older woman in the crowd said they had been stepped on too many times and that it was time to stand up. The youth helped translate what the revolutionaries were saying to older folks and vice-versa.
Finally, about 40-50 mostly youth gathered as we marched through the complex chanting: Policías Asesinos, ¡No Mas! and Police Murder, No More! Several youth, including a young woman that was a friend of Tony’s took the megaphone, leading chants and calling people from their apartments out into the street – and they listened. Nearly every TV news station in the city rushed to catch the impromptu demonstration.
We stayed and talked with people in the neighborhood about the importance of stepping up resistance at this moment and not allowing the system to get away with this murder. Many of the residents said that they wanted to see the cop tried for murder and expressed some worry about resisting when many people are already under the gun due to their immigration status. We talked about how important it would be to bring together people from in and outside the neighborhood of multiple nationalities to demand justice, blow the whistle, and prepare for April 14. Together we decided to call for people to come to Tony’s neighborhood Saturday to BLOW THE WHISTLE ON POLICE MURDER and march into the broader community. The youth said that they would announce the event at school and several people mentioned taking it to their churches. A young woman told us how people at school had been encouraging her to protest for justice for Tony, but she had thought “me and what army?” As we left she said, “Now that I’ve met you all, I have my army.”
Tonight (Wednesday) there was a march and die-in with about 200 people in downtown Decatur (the Dekalb County seat) for Anthony Hill.
One more reason to SHUT IT DOWN on APRIL 14!
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
Wisconsin Students Walk Out of School to Protest Police Killing of Tony Robinson
by Carl Dix | March 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Friday, March 6, 19-year-old Anthony “Tony” Robinson was killed by a cop in Madison, Wisconsin; another young Black man dead at the hands of the police. This time the killer cop was responding to reports of someone running across a busy street thru the traffic and getting into fights. The cop forced his way into Robinson’s apartment and shot him dead. Then they dragged Tony’s body out of the house, leaving his blood all over the steps of the building. Horrors like this must STOP!
Many people in Madison took to the streets enraged over this murder. Protests began that night and continued over the weekend, with hundreds taking to the streets on Saturday. A candlelight vigil followed on Sunday, and then young people took things to a higher level on Monday. Students from Sun Prairie High School, the school Tony graduated from, walked out of school, marching thru the streets of Madison over to the state capitol building and took it over. By this point, the numbers had swelled to 2,000 people, as students from another high school, middle school students and some college students joined in. Older people joined too, forming a ring around the students to keep the police from attacking the youth.
This outpouring is reminiscent of the powerful, beautiful and very necessary outpourings of resistance last year after the police killed Michael Brown and after grand juries let the cops who murdered Brown and Eric Garner walk free. And it’s exactly what needs to be happening again, all across the country.
Think about it—if people hadn’t poured into the streets last year, people across the country wouldn’t even know about what happened to Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and this issue wouldn’t have been forced into the consciousness of millions of people. And the authorities wouldn’t be doing investigations of police departments or even talking about police killing so many Black and Latino people as being a problem.
What the students did in Madison is exactly what April 14, the national shut-down, needs to look like. The powers-that-be came at the movement of resistance to police getting away with murder with threats and false promises. They arrested many, many protesters. They told us we should get out of the streets and sit down with them to discuss ways to reform how the police operate, even as they continue to let cops who brutalize and even murder people walk free when they do it. Remember what really hit them where it hurt—us going into the streets in protest, exposing the savage brutality and murder their criminal “injustice” system was inflicting on people before the eyes of the world and calling for it to STOP! We must mount this kind of resistance all across the country and follow it with wave after wave of resistance, until the horror of police getting away with murder is really NO MORE.
The students in Madison are showing the way. We must join with them. Make Justice for Tony Robinson a theme in the March 14 “Blow the Whistle on Brutal, Murdering Cops” day. Send video and written messages of solidarity to the youth and others in Madison taking to the streets. And we must do just like they’re doing in cities all across the country on A14.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
March 9—You could hear it in the anguished voice of the grandmother of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, a handsome young man who had just graduated high school. You could feel it in his mother’s pain as she shared a cherished picture of Tony at his high school graduation in 2014. You could see it in the pain on the faces of his best friends as they spoke into a bullhorn at a candlelight vigil and in the rotunda of the Capitol. Tony was loved and respected by many, many young people, including those he mentored. Another unarmed Black teenager killed by police on Friday, March 6 at 6:30 pm in Madison, Wisconsin, on Williamson Street, not far from the Capitol building and the University of Wisconsin. Tony was killed the day before the 50th anniversary commemoration of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. Photographs of the bloody front steps of his residence, where apparently the police dragged his body after he had been shot multiple times, circulated on Twitter.
A righteous spirit of outrage immediately broke out into protests against this police murder and has been growing every day. Monday, March 9, the protests broke out into a new level with an outpouring of 2,000-3,000 defiant students from four high schools, as well as middle schools, walked out and took over all lanes of one of the main streets leading to the State Capitol—fists in the air, marching, and running, demanding Justice for Tony Robinson. A hundred University of Wisconsin students marched from the campus. A diverse crowd of thousands packed all three floors of the Capitol Rotunda, their chants echoing in the building: “Stand up, fight back, no more Black men under attack” and “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail—the whole damn system is guilty as hell.” Hundreds of whistles got to the students who promptly began blowing them. When the mayor started talking about the importance of graduating from high school, some students started chanting, “Fuck you, Tony graduated from high school.”
The protests began the night of Tony’s murder and hundreds marched again on Saturday summoned by the Young, Gifted and Black coalition. The mother of Dontre Hamilton, who was killed by police in Milwaukee, came to show her support. Students from the suburban high school Tony graduated from wore all black at their basketball game on Saturday night to protest his murder. Churches held vigils and speakouts. At one of these gatherings, a revolutionary gave a message of support and outrage to the family and Tony’s friends read the “Statement from Parents of People Murdered by Chicago Police.”
On Sunday night, a grieving community joined together for a candlelight vigil outside the house where Tony was killed. At this vigil, high school students announced they would walk out after the first period of class on Monday. This set in motion a chain reaction... University of Wisconsin students put out a last-minute call for university students to walk out and join the high school students. Others called for adults to come and stand with the youth and keep them safe from the Capitol Police.
Revolutionaries from Chicago went to Madison and the centerfold of Revolution with all the pictures of people murdered by police could be seen being held up by youth in the protests along with a large banner with photos of those whose lives were stolen and the words “Murdered by Police.” Word of April 14—Shut It Down—was gotten out very widely... stickers adorned the youth who had walked out of the schools. Students were chanting, “If we don’t get justice—shut it down.”
The fact that Tony Robinson was gunned down in Madison, Wisconsin, was too much for people to bear and they poured out their hearts and into the streets. This should be a call to people with conscience everywhere that police murder must stop and that together it is up to us to make it stop... This is what April 14 is all about... NO BUSINESS AS USUAL, SHUT IT DOWN, EVERYWHERE.
Madison is ranked to be one of the best places to live in the U.S.. but not if you are Black. Tony’s aunt, Lorien Carter, spoke to a crowd in front of the building in Madison, Wisconsin, where her nephew was earlier shot and killed by a police officer. According to the Guardian, she said: “Here in our little bubble of Madison, WI ... I want y’all to know, that for minorities, we are [in one of] the top five worst places to live. But we are [also in one of the] three happiest cities to be in. So who is it happy for?” The Guardian also documented how deeply racist things are in a supposedly progressive, liberal community: “In 2013, a report by Race to Equity, an initiative run by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, found that in 2011, 80% of youths in juvenile detention facilities in Dane County, where Madison is located, were African American. They represented only 9% of the county’s population. The report also noted that African-American youths were arrested six times more often than their white counterparts. A 2007 report from the Justice Policy Institute, ranked Dane County third in the nation in racial disparities for drug-related crimes.” (emphasis added)
Students carried handmade signs reading “Who do we trust? Not the police” as the vilification of Tony started. The father of Tony’s close friend said, “they are going to frame this so that it’s the Black kid’s fault.”
More protests are planned this week.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Carl Dix has been on tour for the last couple of weeks building for April 14—a day of massive resistance all over the country where people say: “STOP BUSINESS AS USUAL! WE WILL NOT GO BACK! NO SCHOOL! NO WORK! SAY NO MORE TO THE SYSTEM GIVING A GREEN LIGHT TO KILLER COPS!” Carl was in Selma, Alabama for the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. He traveled to St. Louis for a speaking engagement and talked with people in Ferguson. The next stop was Madison, Wisconsin for protests against the March 6 police murder of 19-year-old Tony Robinson and to attend the funeral.
Revolution correspondent Li Onesto caught up with Carl Dix to talk to him about his experiences in these cities and what he has been learning about the mood and thinking of people in these weeks of intense developments where the U.S. Department of Justice releases two reports the same day—one with a sliver of truth about crimes carried out against Black people by the Ferguson Police; the other an outrageous decision exonerating the cop who killed Michael Brown; meanwhile in the following week three more unarmed Black men were murdered by police. Check revcom.us for a soon-to-come report from this conversation with Carl about this tour.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Some of the people who have been active fighters against police murder, especially but not only last summer and fall, are saying now is the time to dig in for the long haul.
Now there’s a point to really committing yourself to everything it’s going to take to make the kind of fundamental change that’s needed here. It’s not all going to happen in a day or a week.
But let’s not set things against each other which should not be. Put it this way: If we don’t take to the streets in massive ways now, then we will weaken ourselves for the longer and bigger fight. But if we do take to the streets – and specifically if we all pull together for the biggest possible outpouring on April 14, walking out of school and working and doing the same kinds of things, and more, that masses of people did to protest the outrages around Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Tamir Rice and so many others – then we’ll be strengthening ourselves for that longer and bigger fight.
April 14 needs to mark a new jumping off point, a new entry ramp for hundreds of thousands to flood back into the struggle, to once again force all of society to confront what is being done in their name, to call on them to take a stand against it and to do something, and to carry forward the struggle for the massive change that is going to be necessary to reverse these horrors.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revcom.us/Revolution received this appeal for funds from revolutionaries in Ferguson:
Funds are urgently needed to enable a team of revolutionaries to continue important work in St. Louis/Ferguson.
For those who appreciate the need for the work of the revolutionaries to continue over the next two months...we call on you for additional financial assistance with living expenses. Our goal is to raise $5,000 for the next two month period. Our team will welcome any form of financial support.
We came to Ferguson in August to stand with the defiant ones following the vicious police murder of Mike Brown. We stood shoulder to shoulder with the people in the streets to demand justice because a non-indictment would mean a green light for cops and vigilantes to continue murdering, terrorizing, and destroying our youth. Other objectives included connecting this murder of Mike Brown to the nationwide epidemic of police murder and brutality, spreading the spirit of resistance and the lessons from Ferguson to other parts of the country, and bringing the understanding that racist violence and national oppression are woven deeply into the fabric of this system, the whole world is seriously fucked up and it doesn’t have to be this way, and that ultimately there’s a basis for millions of people to rise up to uproot this system through revolution. Thousands of issues of Revolution newspaper have been distributed, the revcom.us website has been consistently promoted, and crucial correspondence has been forwarded to revcom.us.
The defiance and determination of the people of Ferguson in the face of rubber bullets, tear gas, and tanks played the key role in waking people up to the reality of police terror of Black and brown people. Efforts in Ferguson/St. Louis during the month of October helped the October Month of Resistance have the societal impact that helped millions more to wrap their brains around the epidemic of police murders and come off the sidelines and into political life. We also helped organize a contingent of 17 people from Ferguson/St. Louis to travel to NYC for the historic Dialogue last November on Revolution and Religion between Bob Avakian (BA) and Cornel West. The entrance of the Ferguson contingent into the church where the Dialogue was held had a profound impact on both the speakers and the audience. There was broad promotion of publicity for the Dialogue to help get BA known throughout the area. In the wake of all this, a Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) chapter has been established and there’s the embryo of a Revolution Club.
We need to retake the offensive and take the struggle to stop police murders of Black and brown people to a much higher level, and we need to broadly spread the Dialogue far and wide in the St. Louis area, as part of building this movement for revolution. Therefore, our team needs to remain here through April 14 and its aftermath. Plans for several showings of the high-quality film of Revolution and Religion and plans for building on nodal points leading up to the national shutdown day on April 14 really need to be implemented here, and to impact the whole country.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
Updated March 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network put out a call: "Blow The Whistle On Brutal, Murdering Cops! Mobilize For A Day Of Blowing The Whistle On Brutal, Murdering Cops On March 14." In response, actions were held in New York, Los Angeles and other cities around the country. Many hundreds of whistles were passed out for people to use: When you see the police harass and brutalize one of our brothers or sisters, Blow the Whistle! Alert the community and the police that we are not going to tolerate this brutality and murder.
The following are reports, correspondences, and photos we've received from some of what happened on March 14 at Blow the Whistle Day.
From a reader:
The cold weather is keeping people indoors too long into March! But what happened in one community on the south side of Chicago is a sign of the times. This is a park where the Revolution Club in Chicago has done work before. Earlier in the week the revolutionaries got out whistles and a little flyer—on one side it explained about blowing the whistle on police brutality and April 14—Shut It Down. On the other side is a call for all different street organizations (sets, gangs), Latino and Black, to put their guns down for A14. A young man who hangs in the park and is now running with the Revolution Club went back the day before Blow the Whistle Day and reported that the stickers were up and people were wearing their whistles still.
On Blow the Whistle Day, there were not many people out in the park. So they decided to do the skit—one person donned an ugly pig mask and grabbed a young Black female member of the Revolution Club. Others started blowing the whistle. Now here is the COOL part. People came out and stopped their cars and got out. Some of these people did NOT know there was a skit being acted out—they heard the whistles and came out AND they were blowing their whistles. Exactly what they need to do when a PIG messes with someone.
In this neighborhood people say, "I get it. We should organize ourselves to do this. We are calling the community on the police." An 11-year-old reported she blew the whistle on the police and the police threatened her and took her whistle. (The Revolution Club is going to ask First Defense—a legal organization that goes to the jail whenever it is called for anyone arrested for any reason—to put up a billboard near this park, something they do as part of their project. This way everyone will know who to call if the police mess with them for blowing the whistle.)
There was a group of women from Indiana who gave their contact information and filmed the skit.
Driving around later in the day in a decorated van, the Revolution Club spotted a basketball court full of Black and Latino kids, which is unusual given the segregation in Chicago. The game stopped as everyone listened to two young members from the Revolution Club. The crowd put on the whistles. The youth were taking pictures of the decorated van and were really interested in what this was all about. The van drove off to the sound of whistles.
Another really good suggestion from a Revolution Club member: always have clipboards to sign people up. We need them to do this better but also he stressed that even HAVING A VISIBLE CLIPBOARD tells people that we are there to "sign people up"—we are serious.
From the Revolution Club, Atlanta:
Between 100 to 150 demonstrators gathered at the Chamblee Heights Apartments in front of the memorial for Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old Black man shot and killed by a white cop in DeKalb County (in Metro-Atlanta).
Members of the Atlanta Revolution Club and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network visited the neighborhood the day after Tony's murder and led an impromptu march through the neighborhood with dozens of residents. Afterwards, residents and organizers made plans for March 14.
March 14 was an incredible outpouring of sadness, rage, and defiance against the endless murder of OUR youth. The crowd was multinational and multigenerational. This was very significant. Tony was one of the few Black residents in the mostly Latino neighborhood, but he was loved by everyone and that was evident on March 14.
News cameras gathered as we marched through the complex and into the main road outside of the complex. We chanted in both English and Spanish. The people were on fire and unafraid. The Stolen Lives banner led the march right behind a group of middle-school-age skateboarders. Kids and parents carried signs with pictures of Anthony Hill as people blew their whistles at the growing numbers of police arriving on the scene.
For nearly two hours, we blocked all six lanes of traffic as police tailed along both in cars and eventually a helicopter. As the march headed back toward the apartment complex where it was planned to come to a close, police swarmed in, yelling at people to get on the sidewalk. Within seconds, the cops grabbed a young Black woman with the Revolution Club. The crowd started blowing their whistles loudly and yelling "Let her go!" More and more people came into the streets as the cops continued to shove, tackle, and handcuff demonstrators. They arrested seven people, which included several members of the Revolution Club, a 14-year-old girl who was friends with Tony, and her mother, who is currently caring for a newborn baby. All were charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction and were released on bond within 24 hours.
According to residents, since the protest, police and investigators with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (who were assigned to investigate after the officer shot Anthony) have been going door to door asking questions, confiscating cell phones, and creating a general climate of fear amongst the mostly immigrant community. Despite the police effort to intimidate the people, many who we have spoken to (especially the youth) say they are ready to SHUT IT DOWN on April 14.
See local news report on the March 14 action.
"They kill us!—so fuck these cops!—blow the whistle!—right here it stops!" That chant rang off the walls of West Harlem on Saturday afternoon. It was raining, but the NYC Revolution Club and others went through the streets of Harlem, blowing the whistle on police and getting out stickers, fliers, posters, and whistles, and signing people up to get organized for April 14 Shutdown Day and to retake the offensive against police murder.
There was no mistaking what this was about. We carried a huge poster saying “STOP MURDER BY POLICE!” with the images of 44 victims of police violence, and a bright yellow banner saying “Harlem Is Ferguson; Ferguson Is Everywhere; The Whole Damn System Is GUILTY!” We carried and got out to people on the street posters based on the video of the police holding down Eric Garner, but depicting the murdering beasts with the heads of pigs.
So you can bet people stopped and looked! People in cars driving by stopped and called for materials. “BLOW THE WHISTLE WHEN YOU SEE THE POLICE!” “I’ll do that,” people on foot and in cars responded.
Rain still coming down, we began a rally. The father of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed 18-year-old Black man murdered in his own bathroom by the police in the Bronx in 2012, was there. Graham’s murder, and the system’s exoneration of the cop who killed him, still burns like a scorching iron in the hearts of people, and the fearless and steadfast resistance of his family is an inspiration to everyone in the struggle against police murder.
It wasn’t but a few minutes before the blue-jacketed “community police” came out to threaten us for using a bullhorn because we didn’t have a sound permit. As they gathered their forces, we organized our crew and other folks in the area to blow the whistle on them. It created quite a scene that attracted even more people. Eventually, the police backed off and we finished up the brief rally and orientation to go out, spread the word, and organize more people.
A patrol of seven of us struck out along 125th Street, the main street in Harlem, and then headed up to the housing projects on the west side of Harlem. Along the way we got out fliers and whistles, some in bundles, and signed up people on the spot to take part in these outings, and to get with the revolution and the movement to shut shit down on April 14.
A young woman said she’d been attacked by police and showed us the scar on her head. A young man working in a pizza shop came running out demanding materials and signing up for the movement. We asked him for a donation. He went back inside and presented the team with a whole order of pizza bread sticks. A young woman—the friend and neighbor of a woman whose son was murdered by police and who is active with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network—with a bunch of kids came to the rally and took an entire bag of whistles for her kids and to take to her family and friends in the Bronx.
Hundreds of stickers went out that people loved, showing hands up in the air and “Tuesday April 14 STOP MURDER BY POLICE! #ShutDown A14”
We stopped in front of a shelter for young LGBT people, where gay and lesbian youth who are routinely harassed and brutalized by the police gather. A young transgender woman told us of being followed right to the door of the shelter by pigs, harassed and verbally assaulted.
A young Egyptian man, a photographer and journalist, met us along the route and stayed with the group the whole way. It turned out he had attended the Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West last November. When we talked about blowing the whistle as a part of organizing and preparing for an actual revolution, he said, “In my country the idea that a revolution could happen in this country is fantastic, and the idea that anybody is actually organizing and fighting for it is incredible.” He walked with us throughout the afternoon.
A young African man said, “It’s important what you’re doing here. When you do it here you should go do it somewhere else.” When we asked where else, he responded, “You need to go to other countries and do this.”
Over the course of the day, 400 whistles went out based on people uniting with BLOWING THE WHISTLE on police brutality, and nearly 50 people signed up to be part of this battle in an organized way. ON TO April 14!
Correspondence received by Revolution Club, NYC and forwarded to revcom.us.
I just did a bit less than an hour of picketing in the Midwood neighborhood in Brooklyn, on Flatbush, with a sign that said "We do not need policing. We need a healthy world." It was a thrilling experience. I felt so much love for my fellow citizens. I felt I was doing something right, spreading hope and a bit of light, feeding positive dissidence and resistance, stimulating solidarity. Spreading the idea that the problem is not criminality and criminals, it's policing and the sick world it defends that creates them. I did not get arrested. Nobody said bad things to me. I had many smiles, some worried gazes from people who seemed to think I was a bit too reckless (goes to show you we are not in a democracy). Most people seemed to really appreciate. I was told "somebody has to stand up," and "make your banner bigger," and "you don't want to come with me for a ride, baby; show me your face, you look cute." Hahaha! I felt that every citizen was my friend; I felt fellowship with all these unknown faces because we are together, here, at the street level, human beings, together.
Ah! Activism feeds the love I have in my heart, redirects my anger and my pain in a positive way, it helps me feel less powerless and have more hope.
March 14 "Blow the Whistle on Police Brutality and Murder" got taken up on Skid Row LA, in the neighborhood where Ezell Ford, an unarmed Black man, was murdered by LAPD last August; in Bakersfield, by those protesting the Bakersfield police murder of David Silva and many others; as well as in other spots in Southern California.
On Skid Row, Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) activists, Skid Row advocates, people living on Skid Row, and others met at the sites of the LAPD murders of homeless "Brother Africa" and Carlos Ocana (killed March 1, 2015 and May 24, 2014, respectively, by the LAPD). The contingent also "Blew the Whistle" at the Metro Division of the LAPD downtown. The murders of homeless "Brother Africa" and Carlos Ocana are two of the nationwide spree of police murders of homeless people in the U.S., which includes the heinous beating and murder of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton, California on July 5, 2011, and the military-style police execution of James Boyd in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 16, 2014.
Hundreds and hundreds of whistles were passed out to people. Many conversations were held with groups of people living on Skid Row, explaining how to use the whistles and what difference it will make to have each other's back. We told everyone this was a national day, building up toward April 14 Shutdown Day. Christian people, who feed hundreds of homeless in downtown LA, put a whistle and the flier for March 14 in the dozens of sack lunches they passed out to the homeless.
A woman sitting behind a sewing machine set up on the street got a whistle. She has lived there, in a tent, for a year and a half. A couple of years ago, she was brutally beaten by cops in Indiana, who deliberately broke her leg after her son was arrested. Now she is homeless; she can’t use her leg; she can’t walk far; and she’s in a tent. She works across the street as a volunteer, and she does free sewing for the homeless. “This is what I’m doing; giving back to the community.” About the whistles, she said, “I think it’s a great idea. It’s a great way to call for help. You just blow the whistle. [She blows her whistle to demonstrate.] We need to put a stop to [police killings]. Something needs to be done. They’re killing too many people.” She plans to get the extra whistles to others. And April 14? “Yes, I heard about April 14th. I’m looking forward to April 14th. We’re gonna shut down everything. Shut it down. We want justice.”
The local SMIN chapter decided to go into two neighborhoods to spread the word about A14 Shutdown Day and the Blow the Whistle on Brutal, Murdering Cops campaign. We got out about 130 whistles, collected some money for them, and got out a few hundred A14 fliers.
The first neighborhood was in the middle of a Black community. The second was at Moody Park, on the Northside, which is a mixed Black and brown community. Moody Park was the site of the rebellion in 1977 after the cops who murdered Jose Campos Torres were convicted after a massive struggle, but fined only $1 for Jose’s murder.
The rallies included local SMIN chapter members, local activists from the community, others who have been involved in the struggle around police brutality, and revolutionary communists who linked this to the need for revolution and the importance of the premiere of the REVOLUTION AND RELIGION film on March 28. An 85-year-old Black woman who is well-known for her in-your-face attitude towards the system spoke several times on the bullhorn. She summed up the action as good, because it shows that people are still fighting and it gives people hope. Several people from the community responded, taking note of the February 22 Tamir Rice Day that took place here. [12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed by Cleveland police on November 22, 2014, and there were actions nationwide on February 23, 2015 calling for justice for Tamir and other youth killed by police]. So there is a growing sense among some in the community about this movement, and interest in participating.
People really liked the idea of the whistles as a form of bringing people together to stop police from brutalizing and murdering people. In one housing project, the response was electric, with dozens of youths immediately taking up the whistles and discussing how they were gonna use them. One woman who took a whistle was close to the family of Jordan Baker, a young Black man murdered by Houston PD, and whose murderer was let go about the same time Darren Wilson in Ferguson and the cops who murdered Eric Garner were no-billed in NYC.
A small team of us took whistles into an area where people have been brutalized and killed by the police and many people got whistles along the street, in barber shops, and in cars. At one point, 90 percent of the people we approached got whistles. A Black man who knew Kendrick Brown, who was killed without warning by police in the area, got a whistle and said, “I see it [police brutality] all the time. I know what it means.” A carload of Black women pulled up, heard about A14 Shutdown Day and the need to build a movement to STOP the rampant police murders, and got out money for whistles. There is a feeling in the air that the killing of Black and brown people must stop, and people liked the idea of blowing whistles as a way to build resistance. As we summed up the day, we all got a sense that the movement of blowing the whistle can grow, especially among the youth.
Like a whirlwind, Whistle Day whipped through three different basic people's neighborhoods: the Mission District in San Francisco, the Fruitvale area (near Fruitvale Station where Oscar Grant was killed), and 73rd Ave. area of East Oakland.
Throughout, the "no pig zone" skit was performed in all these neighborhoods. With a veteran supporter of the movement for revolution and a member of the Revolution Club as performers, the people in the streets were often drawn into becoming performers themselves. Youth on skateboards, Latino and Black street vendors, mothers doing shopping, and youth just hanging on the corner participated. The skits started with a pig threatening the crowd, "Let me see some ID," putting hands on someone; and then ended with the people blowing whistles and pointing fingers at the pig and chasing him off the block. At one point, a woman got so carried away, she kicked at the pig (!); and in this way many people were learning HOW to use the hundreds of whistles we distributed that day.
In the Mission, a march with whistles and 20 people took off to the neighborhood where a Guatemalan immigrant, Amilcar Perez-Lopez, was recently murdered by police; and whistles were blown throughout the neighborhood and people joined in the action right at the site of the murder.
In East Oakland, a march of 20 or more people was led by the Revolution Club, joined with some of those from the Fruitvale area. The march began up the street toward the Eastmont police station. All along the way, motorists honked their support and some people in the neighborhood joined in the march as well. Whistles were distributed and instructions were given to the youth on how to use them in case of pig harassment.
On the following day, Sunday, at a block party in the Fruitvale area, whistles were also gotten out broadly. A woman with her kid came up to our table and said that they had seen us the day before and had gotten whistles then. And when police suddenly appeared and hassled members of a car club (arresting one), some of the people began blowing whistles while a member of the Revolution Club addressed the importance of not tolerating police abuse (let alone murder). As part of this, she promoted the need to prepare for April 14 Shut Down Day, while palm cards were passed out advertising for the upcoming premiere screening of the film of the Bob Avakian/Cornel West Dialogue in Berkeley (and online).
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
I send my salutations to the friends at RCP from within the cell and to other like minded revolutionist thats apart of this mass movement as well.
Reading the Interview with a Former Prisoner has given me that push that I need to get back on my shit, plus showed me how I could contribute to the RCP and what’s going on with the protest as well. That interview was a real demonstration that pointed the way, and gave me direction, because at times we all need direction before we can mobilize and move on toward achievement. I’ve been watching the news (& by the way I peeped the initials BA in yellow spray painted on the cars and buildings in Ferguson) and I’ve been observing the oppression of this tyrannical state from law enforcement taking innocent lives back to back to back recently & for over the past few years now, & I tell you that it is quite disturbing to see the imbalance of the scale of injustice, the families of the victims have no consuetudinary standing in this kangaroo of a court ass system as it continues to label every murder by the pigs on black lives justifiable homicide. So it is evident that there continues to be a target on blacks.
Now I can say that one of the sinews of this massive protest that I love is that it is very diverse as there are all types of nationalities going up against this system that thrives off of deception and gives a false impression of being for the citizens. Like for instance when that cop caught that black woman stealing milk, cheese & eggs from the grocery store to feed her children, and instead of arresting her he bought her groceries as it went viral and all over the media. But this act is only one example of what the law enforcement does when the pressure is on them, it is a tactic, it is the Art of WAR “One good and honest deed excuses many bad deeds.” But why does it take for the masses to rise up and put the spot light on the law enforcement before they decide to do the right thing? Why? Because the gig is up as more & more citizens are becoming more aware and knowledgeable that the law is not on their side.
I represent for the XYZ, and though I bang for a cause there is a revolutionary side of me that presses me to push this pen on paper from this 8 by 12 cell expressing my mind, body, & heartbeat to those who stump the ground in this massful protest standing up for what is right, against what is wrong whatever that oppression may be.
As of right now at this very moment I am in administrative segregation in a AA Facility and I would like to share a portion of what go’s on in here with those on the outside who reads Revolution, as I see what go’s on with you from within.
A few weeks ago a prisoner of war that locks down the hall from me, who has been in administration segregation has been harassed by the C/O’s constantly on first shift here at BB facility. The oppressors have been depriving him from his daily meals, yard time, and saying derogatory and demeaning things to him while laughing and joking with one another. Just basically poking a long stick in the fence agitating him like a fierce dog. So one of the C/O’s finally got too close to the food slot pretend to feed the prisoner to make it look good for the camera as the agitated prisoner reached out of his food slot and got ahold of one of the pigs with just one hand and slammed the provocateur on the floor. Now all of a sudden it’s not so funny to them and they are running to the state boys to press charges on something that they provoked.
While in the process of all this, I got fed up and disgusted at them constantly fuckin with him So I took BAsics, The Science of EVOLUTION & the MYTH of CREATIONISM along with other educational books that I have and wrapped them up in towels & stuff then placed them in my locker, Close the lid then placed my mattress on top to water proof and protect my property, then I popped the sprinkler head in my cell, water was spraying everywhere, running all in the hallway. I was latter placed in chains from ankle to wrist for 24 hrs. and charged $33.00 for the damages. And due to us standing up against the pigs on morning shift, they stopped their unjust ways for a minute though gradually started back with those same unjust ways over a course of time, as a result the prisoner along with another are on a hunger strike as I write.
My point is this: Prison is a reflection of the outside world and the demonstrations and the protest must go on till there is a change, the revolution must continue or otherwise the oppressors will gradually start back with their same unjust ways...
I’ve been pondering on ways that I can assist and be a part of what’s going on now in the streets, and writing to the RCP to reach the outside is just one of the ways. Also, I would like to learn about all of the recent books that’s been shown in Revolution such as “Away with all GODS!” ON THE STRATEGY FOR REVOLUTION, ON THE POSSIBILITY OF REVOLUTION, and CONSTITUTION for the New Socialist Republic in North America.” But I am moderately only going to request for “Away with all GODS” So that I can read and digest one book at a time to further my knowledge and use what I learn against this system.
Thank you for reading and I hope each and every last one of you feel my power from with out, because I most certainly feel the power from the masses from within.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
February 12, 2015
Dear Comrades, Friends and Members of the P.R.L.F.:
Revolutionary Greetings! I have received your letter of January 26, 2015 with the enclosed article of the “Interview with an Ex-Prisoner.” I am returning the renewal form that was also enclosed, as complete as I can get it.
To comment on the Interview with the Ex-Prisoner I must say that more ex-prisoners need to come forward after release and inform the people of the horrific brutality of the system. The experience of captivity, degradation, animalistic treatment and torture must be exposed.
On the issue of Gangs, a number of quotes come to my mind:
Thus Europe has multiplied divisions and opposing groups has fashioned classes and sometimes even racial prejudices and has endeavored by every means to bring about and intensify the stratification of colonized societies.
By its very structure, colonialism is separatist and regionalist. Colonialism does not simply state the existence of tribes; it also reinforces it and separates them.
(From The Wretched of the Earth, by Frantz Fanon)
When I think of the capitalist/imperialists cartels and monopolies of exploitation, the private corporatism, I think of many questions. Among them I ask, are these people responsible for the gang mentality? Do they have an interest in perpetuating this thinking and way of life? Are they using the youth to secure and protect their business interests for gain and profit? I know the answer is unequivocally Yes!
I reflect on this statement:
A key part of all this was the so-called War on Drugs. The authorities channeled drugs into the ghettos and barrios as a way to addict and demoralize the masses and to provide a pretext for drastically expanding the prison population and police powers and arms. This drug trade also filled the economic void left by the withdrawal of industry. As part of this, a whole dog-eat-dog, look-out-for-number-one and our hood-above-all culture around gangs and gangstersrism was allowed to flourish and then built-up.
Revolution #259, February 19, 2012
In another article, I believe BA speaks about how the capitalists/imperialists own and control the resources and means of existence to the point of actually being able to influence people’s ideas and decisions.
And I would like to add that many of our youth join these so-called gangs for protection, security and as a way to identify with something larger and more popular than themselves. Factor in the serious miseducation this system offers and after being indoctrinated with superficial understanding of certain laws, principles, codes (words/things) etc. these youth soon degenerate into the very things they sought to avoid. They remain ignorant and inadequate, and mixed with this get-high, inebriation euphoric culture the so-called gangs are pseudo at best and pawns of the reactionary structure.
So yes I have a deep degree of unity with the ex-prisoner regarding the root cause of gangs and that way of think and lifestyle being products of capitalism and imperialism. I also see that through our division we only serve the interest of the ruling class and not our own interests. We are exploited through our division...
Something else the ex-prisoner spoke on was the “need” to break from old thinking, doing away with that old lifestyle and the old ways of doing things. Chairman Mao stated that change involved breaking with old ways and experimenting with new ones and to challenge custom and convention. I see this as a very important key point, to do away with old outmoded thinking and ways of doing things.
BA has stated along with numerous comrades that the imperialists made new forms of oppression and new disguises for old practices (e.g. Jim Crow). I know we have to do likewise but on a higher, more positive, more qualitative level. We have to develop new and fresh ways and responses to the repression, oppression and fascist tactics and strategies.
While corresponding with another comrade, one or rather a few ideas were discussed about how this system could not function without our cooperation. What if the workers just didn’t go to work? From the lowest to the highest workers, what if they engaged in a hunger strike? (Happy face symbol)...
Another thing that was quite progressive and revealing was the ethnicity of ex prisoner his nationality and background. His arrival at a scientific view and understanding of race/racism. How Mexicans and Black people see each other under this capitalist system which foments racial strife and prejudice.
The view in which many people only see the struggle as black and white, how these other peoples have been largely left out of the equation. The reality, however, is that there is a very large percentage of people of so-called Mexican Spanish or Indian descent within the U.S. who are increasingly subjected to the same oppression, the same racism and repression as Blacks.
Just looking at the kidnappings and murders that have gone down in Mexico from 2006 to the present, the numbers are staggering. 120,000 killed? 25,000 people disappeared? Because of a so-called War on Drugs orchestrated by none other than who? Was it the capitalists? Was it their system? Are our struggles connected? Indeed!
When I look at the Revolution newspapers photos/pictures and see the demonstrations and protest by the courageous youth, the high school students getting out and voicing themselves, the struggle for our women for control of their own destinies... It is like an awakening. I am indeed inspired and energized. And what the ex-prisoner shared in terms of his wrangling, struggle and development, his views and perspectives, the influence of BA and Revolution. I know we are stretching out and reaching and will grasp all that we are reaching for.
In closing, I offer my most sincere thanks and appreciation... for you... all of you! BA, comrades, let us take the struggle forward in solidarity, let us continue to build and transform for revolution and change. So let it be heard! So let it be done!
In Revolutionary Solidarity,
P.S. I must have The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and another copy of BAsics. BIG LOVE!
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
by Larry Everest | March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A week after inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Washington, DC, to attack President Obama’s negotiations with Iran, Republicans again tried to derail any deal, this time with an open letter to the “Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” Signed by 47 Republican senators and released on Monday, March 9, the letter warned that any deal Iran made with Obama could be quickly undone.
The GOP letter drew howls of outrage from the Democrats and their liberal and “progressive” supporters. Secretary of State John Kerry called it a breach of “more than two centuries of precedent in the conduct of American foreign policy.” The New York Daily News called the Republicans “traitors.” The New York Times warned the Republicans could “diminish America’s standing as a global power capable of crafting international commitments.”
That “global power” imposes and enforces global relations of exploitation and domination by economic, political, cultural, ideological, and military means. That “global power” and the system it enforces is the main source of the catalogue of horrors that afflicts the people and planet today. That is not a starting point for anyone to take who has any feeling for the oppressed around the world!
The U.S. and other world powers have been negotiating with—and threatening—the Islamic Republic of Iran for many years and subjecting it to crippling sanctions that create real misery for the population. These threats and attacks are framed as being about preventing Iran from building—or being able to build—nuclear weapons. That is an issue in its own right for imperialists, and it is an opening to and means through which the rulers of the U.S. are exploring how they might integrate Iran into solving serious challenges they face in maintaining control over the Middle East, contending with regional and global rivals, and best carry out the horrendous crimes this necessitates.
The Republican moves to torpedo these initiatives are mixed in with larger and very intense splits in the U.S. ruling class. (See The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era by Bob Avakian.) They do want to derail the Iran negotiations and they are taking extraordinary, precedent-breaking steps to do so. They argue the best way to preserve U.S. domination—including the strength and stability of key allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—is by intervening more forcefully in the region, including rolling back Iranian influence and weakening, perhaps crushing, the Iranian regime, even if that unleashes more misery and more explosive contradictions.
Others within the ruling class insist that sanctions, threats, and attacks need to be combined with some openings for Iran to play some role within the framework of U.S. regional dominance. There are similar conflicts within the Israeli ruling class, but the dominant section there is against any “reaching out” to Iran. The nuclear issue is framed by and essentially conditioned by these more overall differences.
The battle within the U.S. ruling class is so sharp, and in many ways unprecedented, because the stakes are so high, their options are so limited, and because they have no real solutions to the intractable contradictions facing their empire.
These negotiations are NOT about ending war, bringing peace, or any form of liberation or a better life to anyone in the Middle East! These negotiations are about the U.S. and other imperialist powers advancing their interests in the region at this point—including by guaranteeing the U.S.-Israel nuclear weapons monopoly in the region (whatever Iran’s nuclear intentions are), and the U.S.'s overall imperialist dominance. From their side, Iran’s reactionary theocrats aim to strengthen their brutal, reactionary regime and increase the Islamic Republic’s regional and global standing, including by working with the U.S.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a member of the Revolution Club, Atlanta:
Over 50 years ago, Malcolm X asked the question: What do they call somebody Black with a Ph.D.? His answer: A “nigger.”
In 2015, the answer to Malcolm’s question remains the same, literally. Earlier this week, a cell phone video emerged showing members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE) fraternity at the University of Oklahoma (OU), smiling, clapping, and pumping their fists while singing:
“There will never be a nigger SAE. There will never be a nigger SAE. You can hang ‘em from a tree, but it will never start with me. There will never be a nigger SAE.”
Black and white students at OU were outraged by the nine-second video. Who with a conscience wouldn’t be? Just seeing the joy of the leader of the song, grinning ear to ear in a tuxedo while walking up and down the aisles of the bus, singing about how he would rather lynch a Black person than allow them into his fraternity. His frat brothers laugh and sing along... no one objects to the song, instead they pull out their phones, film it, and sing along.
In response to the faculty and students’ vociferous protest and indignation, the university administration responded; quickly they closed the frat house and expelled the students for creating “a hostile learning environment.”
The university president said that he hoped the students expelled “will learn ...it is wrong to use words to hurt, threaten, and exclude.” Many individuals have come forward and expressed that the song the frat boys were singing in the video is not isolated to the University of Oklahoma, it can be heard in SAE fraternities around the country.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon is one of the oldest college fraternities in the country. It is not surprising that (until recently) SAE bragged about its roots in the antebellum South (before the Civil War). Until last week, the "History" page on SAE's website boasted: "Sigma Alpha Epsilon is the only national fraternity founded in the antebellum South ... [during] a time of intense sectional feeling ... [SAE] confined its growth to the southern states."
The fraternity claims that the racism in its Oklahoma chapter is isolated and doesn’t represent the organization as a whole—a Google search quickly refutes that bullshit. An article by Ian Millhiser on Thinkprogress.org details just a few of SAE’s most recent racist actions. The points below are quotes from that article.
One guy began to recite the lyrics to a rap song (Bitches Ain’t Shit by Dr. Dre) as if it were a slam poem. He was reading the lyrics from his phone. The majority of the group of guys he was with found it funny and some were laughing. One member of the group was videoing the event on his phone. The guys in the group asked the black people in the booth to “show some respect” for the performance. As [redacted] continued to recite the lyrics, he came across the word “nigga” and said it with no hesitation. One of the black students tossed an empty bottle at him in anger only to be told by the group that it was part of the song, so it was okay. The black student replied that it was still offensive and the group apologized half-heartedly.
The student later apologized and admitted that this stunt was “part of an initiation for Sigma Alpha Epsilon.” The president of the Wash. U. chapter also apologized on Facebook.
Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity houses have not only served as grounds for unabashed racism; they have also served as crime scenes of gratuitous hazing and violence, including rape and sexual assault against women.
The hideous culture of racism, violence, and male entitlement extend far beyond the Sigma Alpha Epsilon frat houses and even beyond fraternities and so-called “Greek Life.” The culture of white supremacy exposed by the cellphone camera on SAE’s bus captures a concentrated reflection of a system rooted in the oppression of Black people.
Bob Avakian states concisely, “There would be no United States as we know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.” (BAsics1:1) There is no denying this—this is the history of the United States, this is the legacy that birthed SAE, which they proudly admit.
The fraternity house that just one week ago housed the young men in the video sits abandoned after SAE’s eviction. The home no longer bears Greek letters, instead scrawled in spray paint on the side of the home is: TEAR IT DOWN!
The University of Oklahoma students’ refusal to allow racist frat boys spewing their “Good Ol’ Boy” vitriol on campus comes at a time where serious contradictions are facing the system and the people. Tens of thousands over the past several months have come into the streets demanding justice for Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and the many other, mostly Black and Latino youths whose lives have been snuffed out by the police. Just this week, thousands of students in Madison, Wisconsin, occupied the State Capitol in response to the police murder of Tony Robinson and hundreds of people have come out in Atlanta demanding justice for Anthony Hill, yet another unarmed Black man killed by cops. Simultaneously, revolutionaries are in the mix promoting the call by Stop Mass Incarceration Network to SHUT AMERICA DOWN ON APRIL 14!
The special issue of Revolution newspaper, The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of this System and the Revolution We Need, ends with a challenge that is very relevant to anyone longing to end the centuries-long oppression of Black people and emancipate all of humanity:
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The student Legislative Council of ASUCI (Associated Students, University of California, Irvine) recently voted for the removal of all flags in their lobby area “after their constituents and other students voiced concerns about its [an American flag’s] new presence in the space.” The flag had been put up there a month earlier by another ASUCI member looking for a place to display it after it had been used as a prop for a weekend retreat. Several times the flag was taken down by students in the leadership of ASUCI, only to be returned each time to its new location by others; this prompted the action by the Legislative Council.
According to one of the members of the Legislative Council who voted for the measure, some of the concerns about the large American flag suddenly put up in their lobby included its effect on undocumented students for whom “the flag represents a constant struggle to gain American citizenship.” She said it was also considered a “triggering symbol of U.S. imperialism and neo-colonialism and also as potentially disrespectful to the increasing international student population.” The members on the council who voted for the measure wanted to “promote a community space open for everyone, of all backgrounds and identities, to walk in freely and not be discouraged to engage with an entity on campus that is new to them.” (Khaalidah Sidney, “American Flag Disrupts Inclusivity,” New University, UCI’s official campus newspaper; March 8, 2015).
These students thought they should be able to have one space on campus where the diverse, international student community could feel free of what the measure described as symbols of patriotism or weapons of nationalism; of American exceptionalism and superiority; of cultural mythologies and narratives that promote nationalistic sentiments. Rather than “thinking like Americans,” the students were putting themselves in the shoes of the students from all over the world also attending UCI.
The response was visceral, and vicious, going viral in a matter of days. Members of the Executive Cabinet of ASUCI met in emergency session to reverse the flag ban, while the ASUCI president told a Fox News reporter, “It’s an attack on American values.” According to Fox News, “Zomorrodian [Reza Zommorrodian, ASUCI president] said he wants the American public to know that UC Irvine is a patriotic campus.”
The university released two official statements condemning the passing of this measure by the student group—and distancing themselves from it—fearful in part that the blowback from this simple act of internationalism would hurt their alumni donor base. The Chancellor of UC Irvine, Howard Gillman, blamed the controversy solely on the six students who voted for it, ending his statement by saying the campus will add more flagpoles near the entrance to the campus.
State officials at the highest level stepped in. State Senator Janet Nguyen, an alumna of UCI, and other legislators announced they would push to introduce a state constitutional amendment prohibiting state-funded universities in California from banning the U.S. flag. Flag-waving patriots were rallied far and wide. All six of the students who voted for the resolution, according to the New University paper, are still receiving “Derogatory comments, many of which were racialized, as well as threats of physical violence....” And an ASUCI meeting scheduled for March 10 was canceled by the university administration, reportedly because of credible threats.
Nowhere in this reactionary tirade has the substance of the arguments that led to the ASUCI Legislative Council's vote been seriously addressed: because the students’ resolution indirectly strikes at the ugly core of American patriotism.
“American exceptionalism and superiority” has been used to justify every act of aggression the U.S. has committed against countries on every continent. “Cultural mythologies and narratives” about this country’s history ignore the centuries of kidnapping and enslavement of millions and millions of African peoples that provided the foundation for this country’s wealth and power in the world. The genocidal slaughter of the millions of Native peoples who once populated North America fighting to defend their territories being stolen by the European settlers; the theft of 40 percent of the territory of Mexico, with all of its gold, oil, silver, and other minerals from California to Texas—justified simply as “Manifest Destiny.” The students’ resolution states simply, in describing what might be felt by some of the campuses’ international community as unwelcoming, that “the American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism.”
Bob Avakian’s BAsics states:
Now, of course, slavery was not the only factor that played a significant part in the emergence of the U.S. as a world power, whose economic strength underlies its massive military force. A major historical factor in all this was the theft of land, on a massive scale, from Mexico as well as from native peoples. But, in turn, much of that conquest of land was, for a long period of time up until the Civil War, largely to expand the slave system. “Remember the Alamo,” we are always reminded. Well, many of the “heroes” of the Alamo were slave traders and slave chasers....And expanding the slave system was a major aim of the overall war with Mexico, although that war also led to the westward expansion of the developing capitalist system centered in the northern United States. (BAsics: 1:2)
For the powers-that-be, even this glimpse of the reality behind the lies and hypocrisy of “the Greatest Country in the World” is just too dangerous; imagine a single space on a campus where students are allowed, even encouraged, to “stop thinking like Americans” and “start thinking about humanity.”
Many of the students involved have felt pressured as a result of the attacks on them to apologize for their resolution; by the disavowal by the administration of their school; by the threats; and even by the fear of the loss of future employment possibilities as a result of their action. The March 9 issue of New University reported that one of the student representatives told them “the apology statement released by her, as well as [other] representatives ... late Sunday night was pressed upon them by campus officials.” And another said that “in a meeting with Student Affairs, administrators told the representatives that they would only assist in the protection and well-being of the students if they released an apology.”
What has been brought to the surface through this incident is that those in authority recognize that the ugly, chauvinist, patriotic mythology justifying the crimes of this system here and around the world—so crucial to maintaining the coherence of this country—is growing thin. And that they are prepared to go to any lengths to protect this mythology about the history and present day reality of what this country represents from being questioned, challenged, and repudiated; and especially among the new generation of youth and students on the campuses and in the communities of America.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
From A World to Win News Service:
March 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
9 March 2015. A World to Win News Service. The Israeli historical novel Khirbet Khizeh has just been printed for the first time by a high-powered publishing house and in an American edition, and thus has become more widely available and prominently reviewed. On this occasion we are reissuing the review of this book that originally appeared December 2012. For a brief description of the infamous mass execution and rape of Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin in 1948 and further discussion of the Israeli planning and carrying out of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, see AWTWNS080512
S. Yizhar’s Khirbet Khizeh is about the expulsion of Palestinians from their village in the last months of the 1948-49 war. The novella (short novel) skilfully juxtaposes beautiful images of the landscape of Palestine with the brutality of Israeli soldiers. You feel their boredom, indifference, rage, their thrill at killing intermingled with the view that they have a right to own this already inhabited land, and their occasional pangs of conscience as they force the villagers into exile. What unfolds in Yizhar’s description is a single day in the implementation of “Plan D” adopted in March 1948 by the Zionist leader and first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion (the ideological and political architect of various schemes to rid the land of its Palestinian inhabitants) and his group. An aggressive plan to dislodge the Palestinians, Plan D gave military commanders license to use any methods to achieve its goals.
This was one of the first novels written in Hebrew. Acknowledged as a literary masterpiece soon after it was first published in 1949, it has been compared to the writing of American novelist William Faulkner, who wrote about the Deep South and the complex relationship between bigoted whites and the descendants of slaves.
The appearance of Khirbet Khizeh in the newly created state of Israel caused a swirl of controversy. Its literary quality only made the dispute more bitter. Some people praised it for its honesty, while others condemned it for throwing dirt on Zionism’s so-called rightful and noble aims. They hated it because, based on his own experience as an Israeli soldier, Yizhar’s book gave the lie to the foundational Israeli narrative, that Palestinians left their lands willingly or did what the regional Arab heads of state told them. That “flight” narrative was largely undisputed in Israel for almost three decades until some of the “New Historians” like Ilan Pappe and others challenged this thesis with new archival evidence that became available. Khirbet Khizeh was not translated into English until 2008, and not published outside of Israel until 2011, by Granta Books in London.
S. Yizhar was a pseudonym for Yizhar Silanksy. Despite his Zionist family background and political connections (he was a close friend of David Ben-Gurion), he was aware of the moral dilemma embodied in the Zionist vision of a state “for Jews only”.
The narrator’s turmoil draws the reader in immediately: “True, it all happened a long time ago, but it has haunted me ever since. I sought to drown it out with the din of passing time, to diminish its value, to blunt its edge with the rush of daily life, and I even occasionally managed a sober shrug, managed to see that the whole thing had not been so bad after all, congratulating myself on my patience, which is, of course, the brother of true wisdom. But sometimes I would shake myself again, astonished at how easy it had been to be seduced, to be knowingly led astray and join the great general mass of liars—that mass compounded of crass ignorance, utilitarian indifference and shameless self-interest...”
Then the author recounts the day in question: “the purpose of that entire day from the start, ‘operational order’ number such and such... the noteworthy clause entitled ‘information’ which immediately warned of the mounting danger of ‘infiltrators’, ‘terrorist cells’, and (in a wonderful turn of phrase) ‘operatives dispatched on hostile missions’, but also the subsequent and even more noteworthy clause, which explicitly stated, ‘assemble the inhabitants of the area extending from point X (see attached map) to point Y (see same map)—load them onto transports, and convey them across our lines; blow up the stone houses, and burn the huts; detain the youths and the suspects, and clear the area of ‘hostile forces.’”
“...Moishe, the company commander... briefed us about the situation, the lay of the land, and the objective. From which it transpired that the few houses on the lower slope of another hill were some Khirbet Khizeh or other, and all the surrounding crops and fields belonged to that village, whose abundant water, good soil, and celebrated husbandry had gained a reputation almost equal to that of its inhabitants, who were, they said, a band of ruffians, who gave succour to the enemy, and were ready for any mischief should the opportunity only arise; or, for example, should they happen to encounter any Jews you could be sure they would wipe them out, at once—such was their nature, and such were their ways.”
Informed that the soldiers would have to wait, they sing songs, tell tales, nod off to sleep or discuss their mission and the “Ayrabs”:
“The devil take them,” said Gaby, “what beautiful places they have.”
“Had,” answered the operator. “It’s already ours.”
“Our boys,” said Gaby, “for a place like this, we would fight like I don’t know what, and they’re running away, they don’t even put up a fight!”
“Forget these Arabs—they’re not even human,” answered the operator.
During the wait, the narrator starts thinking about how fighting the war was one thing, you fought to stay alive, never mind the goal of the war. But emptying the villages “pestered the soul, and the best thing to do was to rid oneself of it, assume a furious glance and fix it upon that very village, what was its name, the one in front of us.” The narrator fails to connect the dots, that the systematic emptying of Palestinian villages he describes was a basic goal of the war from the start. “Once villages were something you attacked and took by storm. Today they were nothing but gaping emptiness screaming out with a silence that was at once evil and sad. These bare villages, the day was coming when they would begin to cry out. As you went through them, all of a sudden, without knowing where from, you found yourself silently followed by invisible eyes of walls, courtyards, and alleyways. Desolate abandoned silence. Your guts clenched.”
When the order is given to attack and gunfire rattles all around there is great glee among the Israeli soldiers. They argue over who is the better shot and who should use the machine gun. Many villagers manage to escape with nothing but the clothes on their back. Frantic mothers desperately gather their children but they and others don’t succeed in leaving before the arrival of the soldiers.
Going through the village, the narrator is distressed by how similar it is to the countless others they had taken, and by the signs of life left by those who had just fled.
“The mattresses were still laid out, the fire among the cooking-stones was still smouldering, one moment the chickens were pecking in the rubbish as usual and the next they were running away screeching as though they were about to be slaughtered. Dogs were sniffing suspiciously, half approaching, half-barking. And the implements in the yard were still—it was clear—in active use. And silence had not yet settled except as a kind of wonderment and stupefaction, as though the outcome hadn’t yet been determined, and it was still possible that things would be straightened out and restored to the way they had been before. In one yard a donkey was standing, with mattresses and colourful blankets piled on its back, falling on their sides and collapsing on the ground, because while they were being hastily loaded, the throb of fear ‘They’re-here-already!’ had overcome the people, and they’d shouted: ‘To hell with it, just run!’ And in the next-door courtyard, which contained a kitchen garden, with a well-tended patch of potatoes, the fine tilth of its soil and the bright green of the leaves calling to you and telling you to go straight home and do nothing but cultivate beautiful potatoes.”
As the soldiers pushed through the village, leaving behind the first curls of smoke, they gathered the remaining villagers who had not managed to escape.
“When a stone house exploded with a deafening thunder and a tall column of dust—its roof visible from where we were, floating peacefully, all spread out, intact, and suddenly splitting and breaking up high in the air and falling in a mass of debris, dust, and a hail of stones—a woman whose house it apparently was, leapt up, burst into wild howling and started to run in that direction, holding a baby in her arms, while another wretched child who could already stand, clutched the hem of her dress, and she screamed, pointed, talked, and choked, and now her friend got up, and another, and an old man stood up too, and other people rose to their feet as she began to run, while the child attached to the hem of her dress was dragged for a moment and stumbled to the ground and bawled... She had suddenly understood, it seemed, that it wasn’t just about waiting under the sycamore tree to hear what the Jews wanted and then to go home, but that her home and her world had come to a full stop, and everything had turned dark and was collapsing; suddenly she had grasped something inconceivable, terrible, incredible, standing directly before her, real and cruel, body to body, and there was no going back.”
There is some questioning and back-and-forth banter among the Israeli soldiers. “What will happen to them? What will they eat or drink?” asked one soldier. Another replies, “Stop thinking so much. And if that’s the way you feel, you can go with them.”
“Something struck me like lightning. All at once everything seemed to mean something different, more precisely: exile. This was exile.”
The Palestinians are herded together and shipped off in trucks. When the narrator tells his commanding officer that this is a filthy war, he is told that Jewish immigrants will come and settle this land and it will be beautiful, a Hebrew Khizeh on the ruins of the former village.
Biblical references abound throughout the book, referring to the two thousand years of exile of the Jews. But the Jews here are now the masters who came, shot, burned, blew up and drove others into exile. In spite of this realization the narrator fails to overcome his moral paralysis and complicity.
Much greater crimes were committed during the expulsions than takes place in the book where no Palestinian is killed. While Khirbet Khizeh is a fictitious village, it is nonetheless emblematic of the actual expulsions that occurred with the establishment of the state of Israel and which are still going on today in areas near the ever increasing Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The Israeli historian Pappe calls what the Zionist movement led by David Ben-Gurion and his closest advisors started in 1948 “ethnic cleansing”. More than 500 Palestinian villages were forcefully emptied of their inhabitants through terrorist attacks carried out by various Israeli militias like the Stern Gang, Haganah and Irgun as well as the Israeli Defence Force. Pappe references newly released military and political archives as well as the diaries of David Ben-Gurion. The directives of Plan Dalet included “bombarding villages... setting fire to homes, properties and goods, expulsion, demolition and planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning.” Pappe also documents how water supplies were poisoned, and that the atrocities committed included massacres and the rape of many women. All this has been erased from conventional Israeli history.
Approximately 800,000 Palestinians were exiled, more than half the population of Palestine at the time, according to Pappe’s figures. Palestinians call it the Nakba or catastrophe.
In the book the soldiers differ amongst themselves about what they are doing. “As they argue they are impressed by a woman with a seven year old child. There was something special about her. She seemed stern, self-controlled, austere in her sorrow. Tears, which hardly seemed to be her own, rolled down her cheeks. And the child too was sobbing a kind of stiff-lipped ‘what have you done to us.’... I felt ashamed in her presence and lowered my eyes. It was as though there were an outcry in their gait, a kind of sullen accusation: Damn you... a determination to endure her suffering with courage, and how now, when her world had fallen into ruins, she did not want to break down before us. Exalted in their pain and sorrow above our—wicked—existence they went on their way and we could also see how something was happening in the heart of the boy, something that, when he grew up, could only become a viper inside him, that same thing that was now the weeping of a helpless child.”
The narrator is caught between the indifference of the other soldiers and his own revulsion at what he and they are doing. But in calling the boy’s righteous anger a “viper”, he reveals an attitude that still sees what he considers the interests of “his people” as higher than the interests of other human beings. He hates the methods being used to create Israel, but does not reject the goal of a Zionist state in Palestine. So he can’t resolve his moral dilemma. Revolted by what he and other Israeli soldiers are doing, he remains complicit with what he knows to be intolerable.
The author himself was less conflicted. He spent a good part of his life as an officer in the Israeli military.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
The February 25 Cleveland “Community Conversation” at a Baptist Church in an African-American neighborhood was billed as an “important meeting to discuss the Department of Justice’s findings and how to build a better relationship between the police and the community.” (For an article on the report from the Department of Justice on the Cleveland police, which was released last December, see “Federal Report Reveals Illegal Brutality of Cleveland Cops.”)
The councilman leading the meeting assured people that all their questions will be answered by four police association officials, but most weren’t. He took the audience’s cards with questions and did an elimination shuffle to determine which ones will be answered. All but one posed the problem as how to build trust between the community and police. The cops responded with excuses of budget cuts, community policing, and cultural sensitivity training.
As tension heated up, the church pastor tried to cool people down preaching “to give all due respect to the speakers,” and gave a childlike plea to god with words of “lord, you are in control of our lives, and we need to control and relinquish the anger we feel towards the police. We should find a common ground so we can find peace with each other, because Jesus will not let us down, and god is the ultimate problem solver.”
In response to the police murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice (who was playing with a toy gun), the head of the Black Shield Police Association said that more police should be present in the schools to strengthen the relation between the Black communities and police, to gain trust and flexibility within the police force and with the youth.
The “conversation” erupted with more fury as Michelle Thomas, aunt of Tamir Rice, held up his picture and confronted the police union president with heartfelt emotion.
A group of four people from Revolution Books stood up and shouted out:
“Police murder must stop now! How much training does it take to murder a 12-year-old boy! It’s not about training. The police do not protect and serve the people, they protect the system that rules over the people to maintain exploitation and oppression. The power is not legitimate! Say NO MORE to the system giving the green light to killer cops!”
“Tamir Rice did not have to die!
“Timothy Russell did not have to die!
“Malissa Williams did not have to die!
“Tanisha Anderson did not have to die!
“John Crawford did not have to die!
“Eric Garner did not have to die!
“Michael Brown did not have to die!
“The whole damn system is guilty!”
Many people cheered and began talking with each other. It brought the “official conversation” to a halt, stopping the beleaguered police official from speaking. The councilman and the reverend unsuccessfully tried to quiet the crowd. They abruptly called the “conversation” to a close but people weren’t satisfied. The reverend reluctantly announced that those who had questions for the panel could file in a single line and would have an opportunity to speak. Many had already left, including the councilman.
Tamir Rice’s aunt again confronted the police union president, who responded quite coldly and unremorsefully. A man confronted the people who were complaining that they were disrespecting god’s house saying that back in the day, when he attended a church meeting with MLK, “conversations in the house of the lord went on in the very same way, so you can talk that stuff to someone else.” He then spoke on the prison system, and how much of the Black youth in the community were entangled with being fearful, and how hateful some have grown towards the police, as many are viewed by the media and the police as thugs, criminals, and not for their character. A Jamaican man brought up the New Jim Crow and how the prison system is like slavery to many that are locked up for minor crimes, and how law enforcement contributes to the prison complex. A young activist expressed his disgust of the union president, exposing how the police union official lied about Tamir and called him “just a piece of trash.” The moderator tried to take the mike from him but he continued to speak. Many clapped in approval but he was chastised by the remaining city councilman.
A representative from Revolution Books spoke and said that Black lives do matter but it will take a revolution to make it real. And after a real revolution, police would risk their own lives instead of killing one of the people, as the cops did with Tamir Rice. He asked the police union president—who earlier said that the two cops who shot Tamir should not be judged by public opinion but have their day in court—if he supported their arrest and indictment so they could have their day in court. The police union president answered no, justifying Tamir’s murder saying that they thought he had a real gun and would shoot people. This outraged the audience. He then said let’s understand what this cop is saying: If one of us claims we didn’t intend harm, we will be arrested but this doesn’t go for cops. There’s a double standard. Cops can get away with murder. People applauded shouting out, “double standard!”
The councilman confronted the union president, touching on the legitimacy of his response to some police abuses. The cop threatened the councilman to “watch yourself!” The councilman replied that he still had some words to say and spoke to money issues and funding to hire more cops. He clearly felt compelled to take the police union on to boost his standing in the Black community and to regain some level of lost trust.
The “community conversation” was meant to be a one-sided conversation—but the people acted otherwise disrupting business as usual, with revolution in the house.
RIP TAMIR RICE!
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
There are many people, especially in NY, who were at the Dialogue--and thousands more who have seen all or part of it on line in a Simulcast version. So why come to the Premiere if you already saw it?
Because this dialogue digs deep—it is about a real revolution, it engages one of the most important questions confronting humanity today, and it is so profoundly different than anything people have heard...that each time it is experienced there are new layers to learn from. More, the film takes you up close so you experience the deep engagement between Cornel West and Bob Avakian in a new way.
People who were at the Dialogue or saw the Simulcast are an important audience who can play a vital role in getting the word out and bringing their friends and colleagues to the film's debut. Seeing the film trailer brings people back to their first experience watching the dialogue and it gives them a powerful tool to reach out to their friends and community to join them at the Premieres.
As we mainly reach out to new forces, we should also reach back to those who came out on November 15 along with those who have since watched the Simulcast. Being at the premiere screenings will be an empowering collective experience for everyone--a cohering of community and commitment – essential to forging a people who are struggling together for a radically different and better world.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
To the millions locked up in prison who will not be able to be in the streets to STOP police brutality and murder on April 14, and who will not be able to be there in person for the March 28 online launch and Premiere theater screenings of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. YOU CAN play a critical and dynamic role in these events, even from behind bars.
Don’t underestimate the role you can play in helping to change the terrain at this moment in history. Spread the word among yourselves but also among everyone you are in touch with: family and friends, loved ones, progressive teachers, clergy, lawyers, and others in the legal community, and everyone you are in touch with on the “outside.” Explain the importance of these two events and urge everyone to get involved. Tell them who BA is and why they cannot miss this film of the Dialogue between him and Cornel West if they hunger for a world where human beings are no longer treated as less than human. Explain why they do need to step out themselves and spread the word about April 14th and act together with thousands of others to say “NO MORE” to the horror of brutality and murder of our youth and others at the hands of the police. And direct them to revcom.us to learn more about this and connect with the growing movement for actual revolution.
Beyond that, write to Revolution newspaper with your thoughts on all this and appeals to people on the outside. Many of those can be posted online to reach an even broader audience. One thing in particular we want to draw to your attention is the call, “April 14th—All Sets—All Colors—Together—Blacks... Latinos: A Day of Unity—Where in One Voice We Say: No More of This Shit!” And there is also the Statement of Conscience from Carl Dix & Cornel West: “The Horror of Cops Getting Away With Killing Again and Again Must STOP!” that would gain strength if prisoners in particular institutions signed as a group from their prison (for example: 15 inmates from so and so prison). These endorsements would be all the more powerful if they reflected prisoners crossing the divides among the oppressed that are so viciously promoted and cultivated by this dog-eat-dog system—divisions that can and must be turned around—taking a cue from the example of the Agreement to End Hostilities in California’s prison system two years ago.
We also want to call attention to the letter from a revolutionary ex-prisoner that was in Revolution issue no. 375-376, March 8, 2015 ("To my brothers and sisters locked down behind the walls").
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.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:16
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We have been baking once again in Harlem and the Bronx. A core of us came together and baked collectively—at first only three of us but then others also joined in—baking in their own homes and donating what they baked. Those of us baking collectively also watched the simulcast of the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian and another time watched Stepping into the Future while we baked. We all read the excerpts from the interview with Ardea Skybreak on attending the Dialogue, to guide what we were doing. Many orders were taken at the BA Everywhere dinner Feb. 15, but we also baked a lot more than was ordered to be sold on International Women's Day at Revolution Books. Some other people in the projects in Harlem sold our baked goods as well.
We are fighting to raise big money for the launch of the film of the historic Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian. So we’re excited to report that after expenses, we have raised $225 to date and we want to invite and challenge everyone to help us raise a whole lot more!
People can take part in many ways. First: anyone who can, should match what we have already raised, making our efforts so far mean a whole lot more. Also people all across the country can jump in and start their owns teams of bakers together with people who want to learn to bake and people who are excited to buy delicious homemade baked goods to help build for and fund this momentous launch. Just think what it means that so many more people can be reached once this film is launched on the web!
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
I attended a recent screening of a clip from the upcoming film, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN, at an elite university. It was an intimate gathering (15 people), but the wrangling unleashed was extremely rich.
First we watched the trailer for the film. In the dark, we began to get to know each other just by our reactions—laughter, vocal appreciation, applause. Next, we watched the excerpt called, "Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?" which has been released as a YouTube and is a key way momentum is being built towards the Launch of the film on March 28 as well as #ShutDownA14 against police murder. In this excerpt, audience members pose questions about the police raids in Harlem that had recently swept up dozens of youth and someone from Ferguson, Missouri asked why we are still—after all these years—having to fight for justice.
A Black woman from an oppressed community who had been invited by the Revolution Club had been clapping and vocally affirming much of what Cornel West and Bob Avakian had exposed about the brutality of the police. She had been especially emphatic when BA had passionately insisted that we must not allow the police to get away with this any longer. As soon as the lights came up, she dove in, saying it was true what we had just heard. She went on, with deep emotion, about her first hand experience as a nurse, treating the body of a Black teenager who had been killed by police. The students listened intently as she described the anguish of the kid's family and the murderous callousness of the cops. She described the pain in her heart at what all Black parents have to go through, fearing for their children—both for their lives and for the indignities they all are forced to suffer by the police.
Bearing witness to this racist state-backed brutality became a theme throughout the night, uncorked by the powerful truth spoken by CW and BA. The woman's two children—ages 17 and 22—both spoke up repeatedly about the police abuse they and their friends have been forced to suffer. A bit later, two Black graduate students added in their experiences being racially profiled and arrested for no reason other than the color of their skin.
Another theme emerged around the question of music and culture, which is also broached in this excerpt. People very much appreciated the way West and Avakian exposed the role of the power structure for promoting music that turns people against each other and several reflected on the messed up content of the music that they listen to.
A young woman expressed how moved she was to hear West talk about the need for “tenderness” and to hear BA say, “It is not weak to love.” People bounced off the wrangling BA and CW had done over the relationship between building the struggle for a different world and bringing forward a culture that uplifts the oppressed and raises people's sights, how each of these elements need and can strengthen each other.
A young white teacher posed that while we certainly owe a big debt to the fighters of the 1960s, we shouldn't romanticize them. Things have changed so much, she argued, noting that all her students came of age in a post-911 world. “They've never known what it is like to exist outside a surveillance and security state, with that level of anxiety. They've never given a hug to someone at an airport gate, they don't even know we used to do that.” This touched off more discussion.
A young woman from the Revolution Club spoke. The point is that we need a revolution and we are watching people who have answers. Think what it means, she argued, that people have to struggle so hard just to survive, just for the most basic survival in this world. And to hear Bob Avakian and Cornel West talk about what it could be like, and the point is to bring into being a world where—like they said—we don't have to be gathering 50 years from now confronting the same situation. No more police murder, no more women raped, no more of any of this.
Two Black grad students who are also teachers talked about changing the way kids are taught and providing re-entry programs to help people coming out of prisons. They agreed the problem was “systemic” but identified education as the key institution that needed changing. Another member of the Revolution Club posed again, “Why do we have to accept that the best we can do is help a few people while this whole set up grinds on?” She argued that anyone who doesn't think an actual revolution is possible should consider why the rulers have so much surveillance and repression in place, what are they so afraid of. She said the Black liberation struggle rocked this system on its heels in the 1960s and this could happen again, and we need to fight for it to go all the way this time.
People wrestled with real obstacles in their own lives, and in their attempts to change society. The teachers shared brutal inequalities in the public high school system as well as small-scale successes they have seen. They invited the revolutionaries into their classes. One thing that never surfaced openly, but was striking, was that the revolutionaries were clearly starting from the conditions of the masses as a whole, whereas the teachers had a strong tendency to talk about the conditions necessary for the success of oppressed individuals and then extrapolate out from that.
At a certain point, a revolutionary spoke up and argued more explicitly for the importance of Bob Avakian's leadership. The point in digging into the lessons of the '60s is that even with the inspiring upheavals and tremendous accomplishments of that period—like BA said, the same system still rules over us, with all its devastating consequences for the masses of people all over the world. The movements of the '60s, even the most advanced sections of it like the Black Panther Party, not only didn't bring this system down, they didn't yet develop even a correct approach to doing so. BA never gave up on that and worked for decades to develop an approach for how that could be done – the strategy to win an actual revolution and the vision of the new society that would be worth winning. She vividly pointed people to the statement on strategy and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.
As it became clearer what the revolutionaries meant when they said “revolution” and what is so significant about BA, a young student interrupted and blurted out, “That's what I want to hear about!”
We got more into the strategy of “Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution,” and the incredible need right now for people to take responsibility for the nationwide shut down against police murder on April 14, returning to BA's insistence that we must not allow the police to get away with what they do any longer. People need to fight back in a massive way against the grinding genocide this system is carrying out, expose its utter illegitimacy and build up the strength and unity of the masses of people of all different kinds in struggle against it—this has everything to do with STOPPING the outrages CW and BA were speaking of, and with opening up further the possibility of a world without oppression.
We also talked about the importance of making the Dialogue film premiere on March 28 a very big deal, opening up the kind of thinking going on in the room on a much grander scale. This is necessary to raising people's sights to a world that is completely free of oppression in any form, the kind of revolution needed to make that, and the strategy to bring that world into being for real.
As we broke up, small knots of people got into deeper discussion and planning. Two young Black women picked up Bob Avakian's AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World and began reading excerpts of it. The kind of visceral sharing of experiences of oppression and the deep questions that were opened up reveal much about the potential of this Dialogue, and needs to be built upon and spread much further.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
About 40 students watched excerpts from the upcoming film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN at the Black Studies Department of a state university. BA Everywhere organizers had built widely for the screening on the campus during the previous week, working together with the Black Studies Department.
Half the students were from the university and half were from a local high school. Their teacher had attended the live Dialogue in New York and had really encouraged his students to come see the preview clips of the upcoming film of the Dialogue. It was significant that so many came, especially being an evening event. One high school student came with a parent and both were excited about what they saw of the film.
The high school teacher had been reading BA's work and didn't want to miss the chance to see BA live in November in NYC. He said about being at the Dialogue, and why he was on a mission to bring his students to see the film clips, that “It took me to another place, it filled out the strategy for how to get there. We don't have to accept the way things are.” He especially liked the part in the Dialogue where BA goes through “What If...” with examples of how things could be radically different—including if women could walk down the street and look every man in the eye without fear. He said, “BA is sometimes angry in the way he speaks. I am angry too. This is a way to get beyond our anger.” He was moved by the diverse audience at the live Dialogue in NYC.
The discussion with the students went on for almost two hours after watching the Dialogue film clips. Here are some of the questions that were wrestled with, with students going back and forth with each other:
Can you get rid of the system? Can you reform the system? Is the problem human beings and their mindset, or is it the system and government that keeps us down?
Revolution would mean some people would need to be ready to die. Why would someone do that? Would you follow a white leader, and is there a problem of making too much of a leader now, and after the revolution? What makes a leader worth following—is it what color they are, or whether what they are about is true? Why follow BA?
After most people left, some stayed and kept talking about God, religion and just how to determine what is objectively true or not.
Before people left many signed up for April 14th Stop Business as Usual Day and are looking forward to the March 28 launch of the “Revolution and Religion” film.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
Interview with Young Friend of Tony Robinson
March 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This interview with a high school-age friend of Tony Robinson was conducted at a candlelight vigil on Sunday night, following the Friday, March 6 murder of 19-year-old Tony by a Madison, Wisconsin cop. Massive high school walkouts that followed the next day were literally taking shape in the midst of this vigil.
Revolution: It’s Sunday evening and we’re down here across the street from where Tony Robinson was killed. I’m talking to a basketball player from Sun Prairie High School, the school that Tony graduated from. He is a friend of Tony’s and he’s talking about a walkout at the school tomorrow. Also, there was a show of solidarity among different basketball teams last night. Can you tell us how you knew Tony?
D: I met Tony my sophomore year.... We got off on the wrong foot but things turned around through the year and we became close and I got to know him personally. He’s a good guy. There’s a lot of talk about “armed robbery” [from more than a year ago]. Was he there when somebody was robbed or was he really actually there doin’ it? But from my personal experience with Tony I would say, that’s not Tony at all. He probably was just there—at the wrong time. But Tony was a great kid, he meant no harm. As far as the rumors going around saying that he fought the police, I don’t think that was something Tony would have done. He was home by himself and the cop just kicked in the door, you should expect someone to react... but he was a great person and he meant no harm. And as you can see out here, he touched a lot of people.
Revolution: Can you tell the readers of Revolution newspaper what your first reaction was when you heard this?
D: I was shocked. It was Friday when he got murdered, we were actually in a game when the murder took place. I remember going to the locker room after the game and grabbing my phone. My phone always has a lot of text messages but this time it was ridiculous, I’ve never seen anything like this, a lot of messages saying “Tony was just shot, where are you, can we meet with you...” I actually didn’t believe it at first, I thought it must be a different Tony, it couldn’t be Tony [Robinson]. But I went home and my mom asked me if I knew Tony. “What’s his last name?” She goes, “Robinson.” And I go, “Yeah, that’s my guy.” It’s hard to believe, but I have no choice but to believe it.
Revolution: Can you tell us a little about the basketball game that followed this murder?
D: It was a beautiful day! It’s one of those things, you have to be there: I can’t myself put it into words, it’s one of those things you have to see. Everyone wore black. To be honest, I didn’t expect a lot of people to wear black. From my point of view, a lot of people these days are just here for themselves, it’s just “eat or be eaten.”
Revolution: So this was in the audience and the players?
D: Both. Everyone came together. It was a lot of hugs, a lot of tears. I have a friend, she was getting a LOT of hugs because her and Tony was closer than she and I was. And it was beautiful to see the whole gym [wearing] black. It touched me; I know it would have touched Tony. Before I got to the game I wanted to do something for Tony to let people know something’s changed, so the sweatshirt I’ve got now says “Tony” on the front and “Justice for Tony” on the back. I was gonna warm up in that.
Revolution: How many of those are there?
D: There’s actually one now, but if anyone asks me to make them one I’d be more than willing, I’d do it for free—just to get the point across, just to get the justice for Tony and get the justice he deserves.
Revolution: I ran into a white, middle class guy here who said he’s got kids, and was very upset about this whole thing. He asked, “Why? Why does this happen all the time to Black people?” What do you think?
D: I think it’s the image that Black kids got painted on us. A terrible image hangs on us, you know? Every time you think of a Black child you think of a thug nowadays. Is it totally racism? I’d say racism plays a part of it, but it’s an image put on us. There’s nothing we can do about it as of now. I mean, something can change, but as of right now nothing’s gonna change unless we put in the work to make it change. If that makes sense to you.
Revolution: Well, I’m part of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, as well as Revolution newspaper, and we think you need massive resistance to put a stop to the murder of Black and brown youth. There are two high schools that might walk out tomorrow. Can you tell us about what might go down at Sun Prairie tomorrow?
D: It’s not certain that we do walk out tomorrow, but that’s the goal. I got interviewed by [a TV show] yesterday and after that I had a lot of text messages saying, we seen you on TV, we know that you and Tony got along, let’s make this happen. And my response was, “Hey, I’m down for it.” It’s all up to our head principal. We emailed a couple of letters today to her. If we can make it happen tomorrow, let’s do it. But if not, I would aim for a Friday so it wouldn’t be in conflict with anything. But I’m really looking forward to the walkout being tomorrow.
Revolution: Are you sure you need the authorization of the principal?
D: The authorization is just coming from our strategy. We don’t want to cause a huge problem. Everybody’s saying, let’s do this protest peacefully. If we leave the school as “hooligans” it would cause a problem. Tony’s mom wants all protest to be peaceful, so we’re trying to keep everything peaceful and talk with the principal. But if they deny it, then we’re just gonna have to do what we feel we need to do.
Revolution: We support what went down in Ferguson 100 percent; in fact it’s long overdue, people drawing the line: this really has to stop, REALLY. So, can you comment on that?
D: It does have to stop, it has to stop. We can’t make it stop tomorrow, it’s not something that’s gonna go away overnight. It’s gonna take time, gonna take hard work, gonna take effort. It’s gonna take not only my class of 2016, it’s gonna take the class of 2015, 2014, we gotta develop the young. We gotta pass on what happened Friday down to the young, so when they’re comin’ up they already know we don’t want this in our world, we don’t want this in our state, we don’t want this at all. So it’s gonna take time, it’s not gonna happen tomorrow, but at the end of the day I praying that it go away.
Revolution: Stop Mass Incarceration Network has a plan to shut it down on April 14—no business, no work, no school across the country in order to make sure that we are not going back. What do you think of that idea, and do you think you’d be willing to build for that at your high school?
D: I’m more than willing to do it. If it’s going to help us get our point across, if it has to go there, to the point where we have to shut down all business, all schools, and everything else, I’m willing to do it, especially if we’re doing it as a peaceful cause. Like I said before, I love protesting, and I love protesting for things I believe in, but I don’t want anything to get violent. So if we’re shuttin’ everything down in a peaceful manner and it doesn’t create any violence, I’m all for it.
Revolution: Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers of Revolution newspaper?
D: Let’s work, let’s get together and let’s end it.
Revolution: That’s exactly what we’re talking about, putting a stop to this. You know, the cover of this issue of Revolution says “50 Years Since Selma.” What’s really changed, you know what I mean?
D: Not much!
Revolution: Thank you very much for the interview.
D: You’re welcome.
Right after the interview concluded, some youths from a different high school came over and announced that they planned to walk out at 10:30 am, so then D. embraced it and said, "Then we need to do walkout at 10:30 too." The next day the high schools walked out in a big way.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In the early part of this year (2015), over a number of days, Revolution conducted a wide-ranging interview with Ardea Skybreak. A scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, Skybreak is the author of, among other works,The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, and Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps, An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women’s Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation. An excerpt from this interview, “On Attending the Dialogue Between Bob Avakian and Cornel West,” was first published in February 2015. The following are two additional excerpts from this interview. The text of the complete interview (including a Table of Contents, with links to the different sections of the interview) is also available at revcom.us.
Q: I thought a good note to end on would be: What does BA’s leadership and new synthesis of communism have to do with how you understand and approach the world?
AS: [Laughs] People sometimes inquire about what kind of people will work with BA or follow his leadership? And I guess that’s part of what your question is trying to get at. Well, I would say, just look around. I think you’ll find an impressive and diverse mix of creative people of conscience with many different backgrounds, skills, and personalities. Speaking for myself, I guess I’d say that I’ll always be a critical thinker. I just don’t know any other way to be! [laughs] I’m sure I’ll always be curious about just about everything, both in the natural world and in human society. I am both challenged, and sustained, by the diversity and complexity of the natural world and the social world. I think I am, at heart, an explorer. Exploring the unknown, discovering what has not previously been understood, breaking new ground: in my own view, this is a lot of what makes life worth living.
But I also don’t want to just understand the world. I want to help change it, for the better and in the interests of all of humanity. And that’s where BA’s new synthesis of communism comes in for me. Because thanks to BA’s new synthesis of communism, and especially as it is concentrated in his application of scientific methods and approaches, I feel that I have gained, over the years, a much deeper appreciation, not only of the great complexities of the overall process of revolutionary transformation, but also of the very real possibilities for such transformation. How you could actually do it. How you could actually win. How you could actually bring into being a new society that would be worth living in.
If it weren’t for the new synthesis of communism, I might have gotten discouraged. In my own work on the woman question, in my work on popularizing the science of evolution, and in many other areas where I have tried to make some contributions, I have repeatedly drawn great insights from the new synthesis epistemologically and methodologically, and I have tried to apply this in my work, to good effect, I think. In all of my life’s work, I think it’s clear that I am very committed to spreading basic scientific understanding and methods among the people as broadly as possible, helping many, including from the most oppressed and the least formally educated, to actually enter into and participate in the scientific process in their own right. And I am also committed to bringing to bear all my training and life experiences to bringing a more consistently rigorous scientific approach into every nook and cranny of the movement for revolution and to forging the pathways that go towards a new society, a new socialist transition towards communism. And BA’s new synthesis of communism, and the whole method and approach that most clearly characterizes and concentrates it, has inspired and provoked and challenged my work in many positive ways over the years, and in many dimensions.
Again, more than anything else, it is the method and approach concentrated in the new synthesis, and in particular its epistemological dimensions: its rigorous pursuit of the patterns that reveal material reality as it really is, regardless of how unexpected and how uncomfortable those discoveries might be; and its scientific grasp that it is always the contradictions that exist within a thing or process that provide the material basis for change; and that therefore you will find that the material basis for the radical, revolutionary transformation of society and the world resides primarily right within the handful of the key underlying contradictions, the ones that constitute the core underpinnings and defining characteristics of the prevailing system, which today is the system of capitalism-imperialism that currently dominates the world. All this has not only provided the framework within which I feel one can “ask the right questions,” increasingly, but also pursue those questions to their resolution. It has, in a very real sense, provided me personal sustenance and air to breathe. And I feel that it has enabled me to make at least some significant contributions to the overall process of scientific discovery and transformation in various spheres. Not just for my own enlightenment, or because of my own curiosity, although it does assist in this as well [laughs], but also to help advance the process of radical transformation of society that is needed so urgently and by so many. BA’s new synthesis of communism has challenged me in positive ways, and enabled me to make contributions that I would not otherwise have been able to make. And, speaking not only for myself, but for many others who have been inspired in their own work and in their own contributions by BA’s new synthesis, that once again is a sign, an indication, of what I think of as really good scientific leadership.
AS: Especially in the face of not just the hardship and difficulties, but also the slander, the snark and gutter attacks that some people never tire of spewing forth, I’d like to say some thank yous, because I think there are some thank yous that good people have in mind sometimes, but that are not enough, not often enough, said aloud. So let me say some of those thank yous aloud right now.
Thank you, first of all, to Bob Avakian, for his tireless dedication and many personal sacrifices over many decades. Again, all he’s done his whole life is work tirelessly to serve the people, not for personal advantage or to feather his own nest. Thank you for never giving up, for never selling out, for always trying to more deeply understand the deep root causes of the great unnecessary suffering experienced by so many here and around the world. Thank you for buckling down and doing the hard work to apply consistently scientific methods to uncover the truth of things, wherever it might lead, however uncomfortable it might be, and then following through to bring to the fore “the logic of the logic”– that a revolution is not only desirable, but absolutely necessary and also possible. Thank you for your generosity of spirit and your broad-minded inclusive and optimistic vision. Thank you for all your work in developing the vision, the strategy, and the concrete plans to advance towards the emancipation of humanity from capitalist-imperialist oppression, and then working tirelessly to spread this understanding and this strategy and this plan broadly among the people–to thousands, to millions, to any who would listen, especially among the most oppressed at the bottom of society that so many in society would just feel comfortable throwing away, while you invite in all others who are willing to join in the movement of resistance and revolution. Thank you for telling it like it is, for doing systematic, scientific work on the problems, for giving of this knowledge and of yourself to all who would listen.
Thank you, also, to all the other comrades, the followers of BA’s new synthesis of communism who contribute daily to this process, to the best of their abilities, and also often at great personal cost. Thank you for not giving up, for fighting through the exhaustion and discouragement, for dedicating your lives to serving the people, for striving to always learn more and contribute more, and on an ever higher level.
Thank you also to all those in the broader society who in many different ways donate their time, their money, their ideas, their legal expertise, their research, their organizing skills, their music, designs, paintings and other art works. To all those who open their doors and their hearts to welcome and assist the resisters and revolutionaries, thank you. To all those who have refused to bow down to social pressure, to turn their backs on the revolutionary communists, to shun or slander them, thank you. Thank you to those brave elements who have stood up in places like Ferguson, in defiant resistance, who are serving notice on the system that they will not take it any more, and who are working to put aside their own conflicts and the differences among themselves in order to stand up together to the greater enemy–this system and its enforcers. You inspire and motivate many, many more in this country and around the world. And you are being heard. Thank you.
Thank you to all the heart-broken ones who have suffered unimaginable loss and grief as their children and other loved ones have been brutally slaughtered by the police and other enforcers. Your cries of agony echo forevermore in the minds of the revolutionaries, and are constant reminders of the need to persevere to put an end to this horrible system. Thank you for standing up in the midst of your pain, and joining with others to fight and resist these outrages, to demand justice, to demand that these outrages stop once and for all, so that no other family should experience ever again such needless pain. What you are doing is a fitting tribute to your lost loved ones, and will give strength to the movements of resistance and revolution which are working to get beyond all of this. Thank you.
And once again, coming back around full circle, thank you to Bob Avakian for the dream, the vision, and the ability to turn all this into concrete plans and a concrete strategy for the emancipation of all the oppressed and exploited, and all of humanity, and for envisioning and mapping out how things really could be so different, and so much better, for the vast majority of people on this planet. Thank you for your willingness to shoulder the responsibility to lead. Thank you.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a former prisoner who is now an emancipator of humanity:
People on the bottom of this society are being brutally oppressed, growing up with targets on their back, incarcerated in huge numbers, constantly fucked with, beaten, and murdered by the police. This is part of a whole program of repression that targets Black and Brown people, and it is on a genocidal trajectory. This program can and will escalate as this system gets into a deeper crisis and if the capitalist-imperialists who rule this society are able to get large sections of the population to go along with it. The ruling class and its enforcers expect you not to notice or to look the other way as they carry out their genocidal assault against Black and Brown people. But as murder after murder by the police and people’s righteous resistance to it makes this brutality harder and harder to ignore, they work hard to try to get you to go along with it, getting you to abandon all sense of morality and accept the racist justifications that say its okay to choke a Black man to death if he sells loose cigarettes, it’s okay to riddle a Mexican immigrant with bullets if he throws rocks at a car, and it’s okay to blow away a 12-year old Black child if he’s playing with a toy gun!
What this situation demands of you is not to focus on “doing good in school,” on increasing the economic and social distance between you and the people on the bottom so that you can become the “leaders of tomorrow” that will somehow magically change all this in the distant future, which is impossible as long as this system and its repressive institutions remain in place. No, the urgency of this situation demands that you stand with those people on the bottom and everyone who is willing to resist and fight back. What you do or don’t do matters a great deal, it matters for people in the lower sectors of this society who see no way of fighting back without getting crushed and it matters for the future of all of humanity.
Those of us who are committed to fighting back have already pledged that we will not go back, we will not accept the continual killing of our youth by the police as the new normal. Our resistance will continue and escalate as this system continues and escalates its fight for the freedom of its police to keep killing us and continue to carry out its vicious, genocidal program. “Calming down” is not a choice that we can afford to make because Black and Brown lives DO MATTER to us and those lives are at stake right now.
And especially for those of us who are revolutionaries, we are not in the streets registering people to vote, misleading them into thinking that turning in a ballot will change the violently repressive nature of the police, and we are not in the streets telling people to shop at Black-owned businesses, pretending that putting more money in a Black person’s pocket will stop a pig’s bullet from tearing through an unarmed youth’s body or skull. We are in the streets building a movement FOR REVOLUTION to STOP all this, organizing people as they fight back, introducing them to the leadership of Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, calling on others to get with and join this leadership, strengthening and increasing its reach so that when conditions are right millions can be led to go all out for an actual revolution, with a real chance to win. We have a scientifically developed strategy to carry out this revolution and we have a Constitution that lays out the kind of society we intend to bring into being if we’re successful. Our line is clear on how we intend to get rid of all this on revcom.us and in the pages of Revolution newspaper.
You don’t have to agree with everything that we have to say, even though you should engage it if you are serious about wanting a world where all lives DO matter, but the undeniable fact that there is an epidemic of police murdering Black and Brown people and an urgent need to resist this will be a reality that you’ll continually be confronted with. The challenge will continue to pose itself, “What are you going to do about this?” If what you want is to leave behind a better world when you die, then you need to join the fight against what is happening to Black and Brown people and not let the social divisions that this system relies on determine whether or not you stand against any injustice. Regardless of your nationality or social position your place is in this struggle, not on the sidelines. On April 14 you have to be in the streets, shutting down your campuses, taking over freeways and taking over buildings, sending a clear message to everybody in society that you will not let people down here be continually brutalized and murdered then demonized and isolated as this shit goes on. The actions on April 14 must let these people know they are not alone, and that the fight against what is being done to them will be joined by youth from different strata and many different nationalities. That message needs to be made clear to those on the top as well as those on the bottom.
As someone who has never stepped foot in a university classroom and only caught glimpses of what life is like outside ghettos and prisons, I can tell you that when you’re cast off and counted as nothing, you often see yourself as the least able to change anything. But when you rise up against the conditions that you didn’t choose but were born into, and you see people stand with you, who come from sections of society that you learned to assume could never give a fuck, then that defeatism begins to break down and the possibility of getting rid of all this shit begins to come to life.
That’s why unity in righteous struggle between people coming from many different backgrounds is not just a beautiful thing to see, that unity represents nothing less than a way out for the oppressed throughout the world and a nightmare for their oppressors. When people begin to break out of the divisions and the accompanying outlook that have worked so well for this system, when Black, Brown, and white people stand with each other, when so-called “thugs” from the inner cities and suburban youth from college campuses are coming together to get organized to fight the power, they can have tremendous impact on all of society. You can not only shake the whole country awake to what is happening, but also break open possibilities to changing the whole world, bringing forward fighters with nothing to lose but their chains.
The problem is real. The challenge is real. The role you choose to play in the face of this will also be real.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
I had read your article, “Wikipedia or WikiPIGia? Political Censorship of the Wikipedia Entries on Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA,” so I was particularly interested in a piece of investigative reporting that appeared on March 13, 2015 at capitalnewyork.com that revealed that “about a dozen” Internet IP addresses registered to the NYPD were used to make significant edits and/or deletions to Wikipedia pages for victims who had been murdered at the hands of NYPD pigs. These Wikipedia pages included the ones for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. The edits were made anonymously, but the IP addresses from which they originated were recorded in accordance with Wikipedia policy on anonymous edits and their sources traced by reporters for capitalnewyork.com.
The report exposes the following changes to the Wikipedia page titled “Death of Eric Garner”:
According to the same article, just five months after NYPD pigs murdered Sean Bell, “a user on 1 Police Plaza’s network attempted to delete the Wikipedia entry ‘Sean Bell shooting incident’” writing on Wikipedia’s internal “Articles for deletion” page the following:
He [Bell] was in the news for about two months, and now no one except Al Sharpton cares anymore. The police shoot people every day, and times with a lot more than 50 bullets. This incident is more news than notable.
There you have it right from 1 Police Plaza! These murderers think nothing of killing our youth time and time again! Nothing notable about that. Think about what they are saying here—the outrage and bragging police killing an unarmed Black man with impunity on the eve of his wedding.
The capitalnewyork.com article also reports that on several occasions, edits coming from NYPD IP addresses were made to the Wikipedia “Stop-and-frisk” entry in attempts to cover for their massive rampant terror program against Black and Latino youth. One edit cited by the article was [NYPD edits are bolded]:
“The stop-and-frisk program of New York City is a practice of the New York City Police Department to stop, question and, if the circumstances of the stop warrant it, conduct a frisk of the person stopped.” This was changed to “The stop-and-frisk program of New York City is a practice of the New York City Police Department by which a police officer who reasonably suspects a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a felony or a Penal Law misdemeanor, stops and questions that person, and, if the circumstances of the stop warrant it, conducts a frisk of the person stopped.”
These edits are likely just the tip of the iceberg of police and government intelligence agencies’ dirty work on Wikipedia. Little attempt was made by the NYPD in these edits to completely mask their hand. Here we get a glimpse of what they are doing in order to cover up and further this system’s program of suppression. And this makes it all the more clear that their systematic murder and brutality must STOP and along with it their overt and covert attempts to suppress resistance and the movement for revolution.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
From a Reader:
March 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As we begin the ten day push to make a major leap in mobilizing people for both the premiere and online launch of the new Cornel West and Bob Avakian film and for the April 14 national shutdown to STOP POLICE MURDER (#ShutDownA14), I want to strongly recommend making use of www.revcom.us's incredible centerfold of Stolen Lives.
This poster displays 44 faces of people who have been murdered by law enforcement. They capture in a vivid and undeniable way the REALITY of an ACTUAL GENOCIDE underway. Women and men, young and old, mainly Black and Latino but not only... you are face-to-face with the real human beings whose lives have been snuffed out by law enforcement.
In the neighborhoods of the oppressed, people who see this poster feel vindicated. It proves that problem really is as big as it feels. Many search the faces for those of loved ones. Some oppressed youth have even told us, “If I get killed by police, I want my face on that poster.” When members of the Revolution Club challenged them back, “No—we don't want your face on this poster. Your face needs to be on the pictures of people walking out of school, shutting down society, and making this shit STOP on April 14!” the youth lit up with smiles and threw their fists in the air. THE POINT IS TO STOP THIS!
At an elite college campus, a different member of the Revolution Club made an important observation: the Stolen Lives centerfold is the one poster that almost never gets taken down or covered up. We've even seen people take the effort to neatly re-post this poster prominently when rearranging bulletin boards to squeeze in more stuff. And when we've stood with enlargements of this image, people have invariably come up and wanted to talk, snap selfies with it, and ask what is going on with the movement against police murder.
It is striking, as well, that in Madison many of the high school students who walked out after Tony Robinson was murdered by police proudly took a banner with a similar image and carried it in their march. Then they hung it off the rotunda of the state Capitol when they took that over.
The poster sets terms. It forces people to confront the reality of the situation. And this strengthens everything about the rest of our interactions. We plan to use a huge enlargement of it along with a big enlargement of the new poster for the Dialogue premiere as a display when we set up to saturate college campuses and neighborhoods. Then, it is on us to challenge people to take up #ShutDownA14 and be part of doing something meaningful to STOP THIS! And, to invite and challenge people to attend and spread the premiere of the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian on Revolution and Religion, to get deeply into—among other things—how to bring about a world where this kind of thing never happens again.
Finally, promoting this website, www.revcom.us, gives people the most important resource for learning more about why this oppression is going on, the road to—and vision of—real liberation, and both the leadership and the movement that exists now to lead us there.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
Updated March 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Martese Johnson is a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, majoring in Italian and Media Studies. According to news reports, he holds “numerous leadership positions” at the school and has no criminal record.
But to the police he is just another young Black man with a target on his back.
On March 17, Martese Johnson was grabbed by Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control police outside a bar on University Avenue. According to news reports, he was immediately tackled, dragged to the ground, beaten bloody in front of dozens of students as he screamed out in anger and pain: “I go to UVA. You fuckin’ racists!” His head was slammed into the hard pavement viciously. His blood splattered on the pavement of University Avenue. He was jailed overnight.
The next day, up to a thousand students rallied on campus. Some chanted: “If we don’t get it, shut it down.” There were statements of solidarity and outrage from the UV Queer Student Union, the Asian Student Union, and others. The Latino Student Alliance denounced the assault as a “vile act of police brutality.” And statements on Twitter exposed that “Black students on grounds are highly familiar with this kind of abuse (denied access to places, checking IDs of black students and not checking IDs of white students).”
As this outrage hit national news, the university president claimed “deep concern” while insisting that what was needed was to “clarify all of the details surrounding this event.” The governor, using the same press release template, expressed “concern” and promised to stay in contact with “local law enforcement” and “monitor the situation closely as the investigation proceeds.”
Please! Look it up. Look up any highly publicized incident of police brutality or murder. The powers-that-be always promise to “investigate.” How much of an investigation do you need when over and over and over and over Black men are beaten to a pulp, terrorized, and murdered for no reason!? The problem is right there on video.
Seriously: WHO is going to stop this situation where a Black man in this country can be brutalized, terrorized, or killed by police, where the police can give any excuse or none, and get away with it?
April 14: Shut It Down!
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On June 28, two Dallas police shot and killed Jason Harrison, 38, at his home. Now his family has forced the Dallas PD to release a video of the murder.
The video shows Jason Harrison, a mentally ill African-American man standing in his own doorway holding a small screwdriver. Jason Harrison’s mother called the police for assistance in bringing him to the local hospital. She made police clearly aware of her son’s condition. The video shows her calmly walking out of the front door, before her son, seconds before the shooting.
Just before the Dallas police released this video, on March 9, police in Georgia killed Anthony Hill, an unarmed African-American 27-year-old who was not only unarmed, but naked when he was shot to death.
Dallas police say that the department has already completed an investigation into the matter, but more than eight months later, they have not made any ruling.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Otis Byrd, a 51 year old Black man, was found hanging from a tree in the woods of Claiborne County, Mississippi on March 19.
No one had seen Byrd since March 2. His family had filed a missing persons report on March 8. Somehow the authorities in Mississippi could not find Otis Byrd, his neck broken, dangling from a tree half a mile from his home. Both the FBI and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) have said they are investigating the “cause and manner” of Byrd's death. The coroner says he can't speak until the reports are in. But the mainstream (ruling class) media have already launched a character assassination, post mortem, of Otis Byrd, saying he spent 25 years in the Mississippi prison system for a murder conviction, as if somehow his alleged criminal past offered an explanation as to why he was hanging from a tree.
The exact circumstances of this brutal death are unknown right now. Otis Byrd's family and friends have not been heard from yet. But some things are certain.
» For years now, this country has been afflicted by a plague of violence against Black people – official, state sanctioned violence, and racist vigilante violence. This is part and parcel of what Carl Dix has called “a slow genocide that could become a fast genocide”.
» Police have murdered dozens of people, mostly Black and Latino, in the less than three months of 2015. The cops who murdered Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and others have gone unpunished. A Justice Department “investigation” exonerated the cop who murdered Michael Brown.
» Racists feel emboldened by the relentless criminalization of Black people to act on their vile, hateful, outlook towards Black people, as did the frat boys at the University of Oklahoma; as did George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, the murderers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, in Florida.
» The oppression of Black people is deeply embedded into every aspect of this capitalist-imperialist system, and it permeates the dominant culture. But there are few places where it so overtly and viscerally defines a place as it does Mississippi. An archive of recorded lynchings in the U.S. from 1882 to 1968 done by the Tuskegee Institute indicates that 539 Black people were killed by lynch mob in Mississippi in that period – the most of any state in the country. Countless other people – people murdered at night when their cabin was burned; people shot and thrown in backwoods rivers; people buried in swamps; people shot by the police; women who resisted rapists – are not included in these figures. Mississippi ratified the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution – which means state lawmakers finally voted to “outlaw” slavery in Mississippi – in 2013! Here's a grim reality: a Black man hanging from a tree is not an aberration in the history of Mississippi.
Less than two weeks ago, Barack Obama spoke from the infamous Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama. Obama asked, “what could be more American than what happened in that place?”
Obama was speaking of the civil rights marchers who with great heart stood up to the state troopers, county sheriffs, and racist vigilantes who savagely beat, whipped, and gassed protesters seeking the right to vote – but the reality is that nothing could be “more American” than the brutality those pigs poured on the courageous civil rights marchers; nothing could be “more American” than murder by police of Black and Latino youth; nothing could be more in keeping with the tradition and history of this country than the lynching of Black people.
Revolution #378 March 16, 2015
March 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
World Can’t Wait, along with 40 other organizations, has organized Spring Rising: An Antiwar Intervention in protest of the 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Four days of anti-war events in Washington, DC, including teach-ins, protests, and a concert, as well as other actions from San Francisco to New York City will protest the 2003 “shock & awe” U.S. invasion of Iraq. Click for the full schedule of events in DC and elsewhere for events around the U.S.
Important questions for the antiwar movement are being engaged at a teach-in March 19 & 20, including:
Stopping Targeted Killing by the U.S. Around the World & Stopping Killing with Impunity by U.S. Police; Connections & Challenges
Speakers: Marsha Coleman-Abedayo, Hands-Up Coalition; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party & Stop Mass Incarceration Network; Kymone Freeman, WE ACT Radio; Eugene Puryear, ANSWER Coalition; Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait
U.S. Wars of Aggression and Islamic Jihad: What is the Danger, and How Should the Antiwar Movement Respond?
Speakers: Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition; William Blum, author; Alan Goodman, writer for revcom.us; Raed Jarrar, Policy Impact Coordinator at the American Friends Service Committee; Cindy Sheehan.
Click here for more on these and other teach-ins.
A rally and march will begin at the White House at noon on Saturday, March 21, passing through Chinatown, where many of the protests against police murder have concentrated, and ending at the Capitol.
Cindy Sheehan, whose oldest son Casey was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004, said, “Spring Rising is intended as an antiwar intervention into the world capital of war-making. The U.S. has spread its military across the globe and is engaged in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and, via drone strikes, in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The U.S. government is provoking Russia in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, pushing for another coup in Venezuela and expanding its military presence in Asia and Africa.”
World Can’t Wait said, “Nothing good can come from U.S. bombing and domination of the region.” Click here for more on the events at the World Can’t Wait site.