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Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
July 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On August 9, it will be one year since a Ferguson, Missouri, cop, Darren Wilson executed Michael Brown for walking in the middle of the day on a sleepy street. Mike Brown was unarmed, running away, and had his hands up when he was shot multiple times and then his body was left lying dead in the street for four-and-a-half hours.
This brutal murder was met with outrage. For days and then weeks people took to the streets with defiance, rage, and righteous rebellion. People insisted on their rights and defended those rights in the street. Without the rebellion, this terrible state-done murder would just be another rerun of the same old, all-too-familiar story, the same murderous stuff that happens to Black and Latino youths over and over again. Very few people would have shared the grief of his parents for the terrible loss of this young man, at the very beginning of his life. The defiance and righteous rebellion challenged people all over the country to get off the sidelines and stand with those refusing to take this any longer.
Take even four-and-a-half minutes to think about what those days looked like. Go back and look at the photographs of the hundreds and then thousands who took a stand. Hundreds of students dramatizing “hands up, don't shoot!” on college campuses; demonstrations and die-ins all across the country; major roads, freeways, bridges, and public transportation shut down; people from all over the world traveling to Ferguson; a requiem, “Which Side Are You On,” stopping the performance of the St. Louis symphony. The St. Louis Rams football team under stadium lights with their hands up. Beautiful works of art – paintings, songs and poetry expressed the pain and rage. Even the Christmas holiday season was heralded by waves of protests often overshadowing shopping at shrines to capitalism like the Mall of America and Fifth Ave. as the police who killed Eric Garner on July 17 of the same year also went unindicted by a New York City grand jury.
Without the defiance in Ferguson, very few would know the name Mike Brown. It is also very likely that very few people would know the names of many others – all those who when taken together repeatedly paint a picture that shows that this wasn't an isolated incident in Missouri. In reality, every town had a Mike Brown and often more than one: Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tony Robinson, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and many, many more. The names and faces of those killed, the sorrow of friends and families, was staggering when the enormity of the crimes being committed by the armed enforcers of the state was exposed to the light of day.
From the very beginning, the powers-that-be – from the local authorities on up to Obama – were terrified of the defiance in Ferguson. The rulers of this white supremacist-capitalist system attacked this struggle physically and through the media. These same rulers – these people who rain violence down all over the world and in the ghettos and barrios to defend their system – these very same people told the people to be non-violent and to walk around in circles in the face of armed assault, and then attacked anyone who upheld the right of people to NOT lay down in the face of this. But the people stood up – strong and fierce and in doing so brought many people into the struggle on their side. The heart and courage to stand up in the face of tear gas, tanks, rubber bullets, and live machine guns, curfews... in the face of the National Guard... in the face of 100s of arrests... in the face of political firemen urging the people to be calm while the police murder people over and over – this was new and inspiring.
The authorities stalled for months, taking the case of Darren Wilson's murder of Mike Brown to a grand jury, hoping people's determination and attention would wane. Instead, the protesters persevered, often in creative ways to take the struggle to sporting events, insisting all of society confront this injustice. People from all over the country joined with them. After all this, when it was so clear that Mike Brown had been murdered by a cop in broad daylight in front of many witnesses – when the grand jury refused to issue an indictment of Darren Wilson for ANY crime – it was too much and Ferguson erupted for a second time, and this time a much, much bigger section of society went into upheaval.
This was followed by another major assault on the whole struggle in May of this year, this time by the Department of Justice (DOJ) report on Ferguson. Rather than have a trial to determine what happened, the Department of IN-Justice backed the local district attorney and declared that those who said Mike Brown did NOT have his hands up were telling the truth, and that the other witnesses who said that Mike DID have his hands up were lying (this included not only people from Ferguson, but also two white construction workers who were captured on video witnessing the murder AS IT TOOK PLACE).
As many eyewitnesses did in fact make clear, Mike Brown DID HAVE HIS HANDS UP, AND "HANDS UP! DON'T SHOOT!" IS INDEED ONE VERY FITTING AND POWERFUL SLOGAN AND SYMBOL.
A really chilling (and worse) verdict issued by the DOJ report is concentrated in this one sentence: "There is no evidence upon which prosecutors can rely to disprove Wilson's stated subjective belief that he feared for his safety."
Not only was this a callous upholding of Mike Brown's murder, this was the Black U.S. attorney general telling police EVERYWHERE how they could get away with cold-blooded murder, especially of Black people, even if you're found to be in a racist police department. Just say you subjectively believe that you feared for your safety. Your belief could be completely irrational, and you can still kill with impunity. You can be a racist mf'er who thinks that all Black people by definition are a threat to your safety, and you can kill with impunity, and the Justice Department will clear you.
Everything we have said above – the real role of the struggle and why it brought out so many people and set off a whole new stage of things, how the IN-Justice Department report was a lie, and so on – all this is true. And those who are trying to erase this or turn it into something different are full of it.
It is important that on the weekend of August 8-10, the anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown, people stand firmly and publicly manifest that the verdict rendered by the people, that those who took to the streets of Ferguson in righteous and defiant rebellion and protest night after night, was true – Mike Brown did not have to die. It was right for the people of Ferguson to rebel and people everywhere are proud of them for rising up. On August 8-10, if you can come to Ferguson and join the events of the anniversary of Mike Brown’s murder, we urge you to do so. But wherever you are, join with others to say we stand with the defiant ones in Ferguson – they were right. The DOJ was wrong – Mike Brown should not have been murdered by the police. HANDS UP! DON'T SHOOT! Fuck the DOJ!
The struggle in Ferguson opened a crack in the coffin where America has buried alive whole sections of Black and Latino youths and the struggle over the last year has widened the crack further. WE WILL NOT GO BACK. All the forms of attack deployed against this struggle as it mushroomed from Ferguson to Baltimore – all the forms of attack from tanks and bullets, slanders and lies to trying to discredit it, massive arrests and dragnets, crumbs and sugar-coated bullets to try and derail and channel/force/co-opt the struggle back into safe outlets that don't continue the fight to stop the police murders and terror – all this must be opposed, and we have to come back even stronger. This is what we intend to do October 22-24 in Rise Up October. We cannot and will not allow this to be “sealed” back up or the oxygen will go out of our collective lungs. No, we will reach out even wider and bring many, many more into the streets and change the face of this whole country.
How many more lives will be ground up? The murdering police are still in the streets and this must be stopped now. There is no middle ground in this struggle. At Ferguson 2015, this stand must be very clear and infuse everything:
MICHAEL BROWN WAS MURDERED – NEVER FORGIVE! NEVER FORGET!
HANDS UP! DON’T SHOOT!
And this in turn must be part of compelling ALL of society to rise to this challenge:
STOP POLICE TERROR: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
July 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
My immediate response upon reading this document was to be tremendously impressed by the sweep and scope of the new synthesis of communism in all its many dimensions, and to think that we really need to get this document out far and wide (and also use it extensively in our boxing–our ideological struggle—with individuals and with other trends). Although others have written articles or given speeches aimed at summarizing the new synthesis of communism, this document is unique because this is Bob Avakian (BA) himself outlining in a very concentrated way what he considers the core elements of this new synthesis of communism, those areas where he has made the most significant and most path-breaking advances in our science.
When you understand the emphasis that BA has put on developing a more thoroughly scientific method and approach and then can see the application of this method and approach reflected in significant theoretical breakthroughs in relation to so many elements (and these are only the core elements and not a comprehensive list of all the elements where he has charted new theoretical territory!), you can’t help but recognize and appreciate the extent to which BA has revolutionized communism by putting it on a more scientific foundation. As a result of this theoretical work that he has done over decades, BA is indeed “ushering in a whole new phase of the communist revolution and a whole new conception of the kind of society and world we need to be building for the benefit of humanity” (to quote from our website).
This document drives home the tremendous potential that the new synthesis of communism holds to emancipate humanity, and I couldn’t help but think what a crime it is that this new synthesis of communism isn’t more widely known and embraced here and throughout the world. I think that this document could have a powerful positive impact in turning that situation around and opening people’s eyes to why we say that BA is a great communist leader on the level of Marx, Lenin, and Mao. In regards to boxing and addressing those in other trends or those who are simply skeptics about BA, I say, “You want evidence of why we consider BA a rare, precious, and irreplaceable communist leader? Start by reading this document, and then tell me of anyone else in the world today who even begins to come close to grappling with the questions outlined here with the same sweep and with the same depth and substance and with the same seriousness that BA has. He has dedicated his life to this, and spent decades developing this new synthesis of communism—and is continuing to do so.”
Although I have read this document a few times, I feel that I have only scratched the surface. When I first read the document, what especially stood out to me was the significance of the advances/ruptures in relation to all the areas that are outlined. Specifically, I considered how radical and new the conceptual understanding forged by BA on each of these elements is; the ways in which this understanding builds on, and at the same time in some significant ways diverges from, what has historically been the thinking around these elements within the communist movement; and also the profound implications that this new, more dialectical and more materialist, understanding of all this has for our entire project. I also reflected on why these advances/ruptures are so often undervalued, and what this has to do with the denigration of theory, as well as the phenomenon of sights of so many being so lowered from the truly radical and historic leap that is represented by an actual revolution aiming for the final goal of a communist world, free of all exploitation and oppression.
Even though the various core elements of the new synthesis, as indicated in this Outline by BA, are extremely wide ranging, what has stood out to me more than ever is the overall coherency of the new synthesis of communism. I think that this is an important point that is not well understood, and I wanted to briefly comment on this. This coherency clearly stems from BA’s consistent grounding in a scientific method and approach, which I have gained a deeper appreciation for over the course of the Cultural Revolution within the RCP, and most recently from this document and also the Interview with Ardea Skybreak. I feel that this Outline (in combination with that Skybreak Interview) has contributed to giving me (and presumably others) a more synthesized understanding of the interrelationship of the many layers and dimensions of the new synthesis of communism and how these different parts mesh together to form an integrated and coherent whole. This understanding stands in marked contrast to a more mechanical and linear approach, which tends to view each particular theoretical breakthrough in isolation, divorced from other core elements or from the underlying scientific method and approach.
The more that I have read (and re-read) this document, the more that it has caused me not only to think about the profound and qualitative leap represented by the new synthesis of communism, but also to reflect once again on what we have in BA and his leadership, and how precious he is to the masses of the world. Put bluntly, without the new synthesis of communism that BA has developed, we would not have the theoretical understanding required to emancipate humanity and forge a communist world. Those with responsibility to lead a communist revolution might still be well-intentioned, but we would be flailing, mired in idealism and continually pulled down in the undertow of various bourgeois-democratic, economist and reformist, and nationalist tendencies, unable to recognize how corrosive such tendencies are to making a communist revolution and advancing to a communist world.
In reading this document, I was reminded of a statement made by BA that he doesn’t set out to write a great work; instead he proceeds from the orientation of meeting a great need. As this document demonstrates, this orientation has led to his wrestling with the thorniest contradictions that we face—and in the process, challenging the method and approach, and thinking on key political and ideological questions, that currently prevails within the communist movement. Furthermore, I think it is important to recognize that he has had to show tremendous perseverance and determination, because at every turn he has been met with resistance and outright opposition, as well as venom directed at him personally.
It definitely does need to be said out loud: Thank you, BA for all that you have done and that you continue to do! The possibility of making an actual revolution and forging a new communist world has been greatly heightened as a direct result of the new synthesis of communism that you have developed, and are continuing to work to further develop, while providing leadership to the revolutionary struggle on so many crucial fronts.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From A World to Win News Service:
Juy 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors' Note: In the following article, "Tsipras" refers to Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister of Greece and the leader of the Syriza party, "Merkel" refers to Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, and "Hollande" refers to François Hollande, the president of France.
July 27, 2015. A World to Win News Service. Following is a leaflet distributed by the Revolutionary Communist Manifesto Group Europe (Contact: email@example.com). It was written by supporters of the new synthesis of communism, including KJA (contributor to Demarcations), Ishak Baran (long-time participant in the Maoist movement in Turkey), supporters of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) and others.
by Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Summer 2015
Crisis, such as Greece is living these weeks, appears like a force of nature, a giant whirlwind sucking the lives of millions of people into a dark and tumultuous abyss, hurling them recklessly from side to side, suffocating them, blinding them, overpowering so many with a sense of hopelessness and despair. But this same turmoil also harbours precious possibilities to be seized for a radically different future.
After seven years of repeated waves of ever more bleeding of the people in the name of “austerity”, after electing a self-proclaimed radical left that promised to reject the blackmail of the European powers, and even after the referendum and its clear results, the interests and demands of the masses of people have been trampled on once again. The principal leaders of the Syriza government have themselves become agents as well as victims of these same impersonal forces wreaking havoc.
Blind cold laws are expressed in impersonal numbers generated by financial spreadsheets and profit projections. But there is nothing sacred or permanent about these people-crushing forces. Behind impersonal laws are very real relations between people, divisions into classes, a worldwide system of ownership and exploitation.
A profound political crisis is gripping the country. The electoral system, supposedly the means for the people to express their general will, stands more and more exposed as a sham, with very little to do with the actual relations of power or decision-making. The role of elections in legitimizing state institutions in the eyes of the people has been seriously battered, even in Europe where such illusions usually hold sway.
Behind the governments that can come and go remain the police, army and bureaucracy – the ultimate guarantee of the power of a system presided over by a Greek capitalist class that cannot and will not be deposed by an electoral process. Once again we see the truth of Marx's observation that the existing state power cannot be used to bring about revolutionary change. The intolerability of the measures that are being demanded and the refusal of the people to sacrifice still further is reflected in a massive wave of resistance, including against figures who only weeks earlier were widely hailed as heroes.
The great question now increasingly confronting the people of Greece is the same question that is hiding unspoken in most of the rest of Europe and the world: are the people condemned to these conditions, or is there a possibility of a completely different way, an alternative political, economic and social system that can replace the existing world capitalist and imperialist system and eliminate the hardships and horrors stemming from it?
COMMUNISM: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE
A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Available in English, Farsi, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish from RCP Publications, P.O. Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
$5 + $1 shipping. A draft translation into Arabic is now available online. See all translations here.
Despite the suffering that the people are enduring, it is necessary to recognize that Greece is living a rare moment when the existing socio-economic, political and even cultural and ideological edifice could come unravelled. The situation itself carries within it the possibility of radical alternatives, whether liberating or further enslaving. How long this confluence of forces and circumstances will boil is impossible to predict but the powers that be in Greece and Europe will frantically attempt to impose a reordering that not only protects their interests but crushes hopes and defuses the revolutionary potential of the beginning mass stirrings. This makes it all the more urgent that out of this same cauldron of contradiction and struggle a truly revolutionary path is forged.
For this to take place a conscious force must emerge, armed with a thorough-going revolutionary communist understanding of the real fundamental problems of society and the required solution, and determined to take up the responsibility of making revolution. There is much contemporary and historical experience where possibilities for breakthroughs were unrecognised or squandered by leaders who sometimes ended up even coming to the rescue of the old system. On the other hand, there is also the extremely valuable example of Lenin's leadership in seizing upon the intense contradictions that emerged in Russia to carve out a path to the revolutionary seizure of power by the proletariat and others seeking emancipation in 1917.
The Syriza government complains about the capitalist system but also declares that the overwhelming power of the major European imperialist powers ties the hands of Greece and leaves no choice other than humiliating surrender. But simply to rail at the capitulation of the Syriza leadership is useless unless the rejection of Tsipras goes forward to a rejection of the whole project of hoping to negotiate a better place for Greece in an unjust and unequal economic and political order. It is the very Syriza project itself that stands naked and exposed, not just the way it has been carried out.
Fundamental problems of Greece, Europe and the world cannot be solved within the existing framework of capitalism and imperialism. The real question is what a genuine revolutionary alternative would look like and what would be needed to make such an alternative possible.
While many see the events of the past weeks and months as evidence of the overwhelming strength of the world system, this is only one side of the coin. Yes, the enemies are formidable. But the same contradictions that squeeze the people also drive people to resist. The same frenetic pace of political developments which can be so dizzying and disorienting also mean that in a short period of days and weeks the true features of the political actors can come into sharp relief and the various competing political programs can be tested and compared in an extremely accelerated way – especially if a conscious revolutionary force emerges and presents its analysis and programme before the society. Large sections of the people have been awoken from their slumber by developments themselves and are looking for answers. And the same economic and political contradictions are also intensifying and revealing the conflicts even among the enemies – witness the fissure that has opened between France and Germany. Yes, the major powers are united on demanding their pound of Greek flesh but they are also truly concerned that their whole system could come unravelled and are deeply divided about how to best preserve it.
The strangling of the Greek people sharply brings into focus the relationship between the potential breakthroughs as well as limits in Greece and the reality that the whole world is dominated by the capitalist-imperialist system. In fact, it is mainly the workings of the contradictions of the world system that are driving and shaping events in Greece and calling forth the need for a completely different world order. The past several decades have seen a frenzied rhythm of globalization and financialization which has ended up intensifying the underlying contradictions of capitalism. There is a need for the whole world to be liberated from the clutches of finance capital, but this truth must not be used as an excuse for leaving the present system unchallenged. Instead, the crisis in Greece must be transformed into a tremendous opportunity to set out on a revolutionary path that can impact the whole world.
The success of the revolutionary process will ultimately take place on a world scale. The present capitalist-imperialist system must be replaced by socialism and ultimately communism, the complete overcoming of classes and the institutions and ideas that arose along with classes.
Capitalist exploitation's tightening grip on the whole world aggravates all sorts of horrors and conflicts: new forms of the oppression and subjugation of women added on to more “traditional” ones; massive dislocation and human trafficking on a scale unseen since the transatlantic slave trade; wars for empire and countless bloody conflicts where prospects of emancipation are completely absent; driving the planet toward environmental catastrophe and irreversible damage. To call for revolution, communist revolution, as the only solution is not a rhetorical flourish. It is a scientific truth, fully grounded in the realities of the world. Much of these realities are now dramatically focused in Greece, where the need to wrench a path out of the capitalist and imperialist world is more and more apparent.
The revolutionary process needs to achieve breakthroughs wherever and whenever possible, first in one or several countries. The advances and victories in these countries need to serve as clarion calls and stepping stones for battles to come in other areas as well. Now a spotlight is on Greece and many millions in Europe and elsewhere are hoping to see a way out of the adversity and blackmail and hoping that a different course can be charted. The major capitalist imperialist powers, and Germany in particular, have made abundantly clear that the people of Greece will be made to bear a great burden. Avoiding a burden is not one of the options that is available. But there is a real question of what burden needs to be carried by the people and for what ends: the burden of bleeding for one or two further generations in the interests of Western finance capital or the liberatory “burden” of carving out a real opposing path, of real resistance to the “institutions”. Greece will be a model, but what kind of model: as a battered example of collective punishment to frighten any who might get out of line in the future or, possibly, a model and a call to others in the region and indeed all over the world to take a totally different path?
The Syriza leadership and most of the Greek left have argued that the people's movement will provide grass roots, or radical, democracy from below and can, starting from “local autonomous spaces”, bring about radical transformation of the existing political and socio-economic order. There is a tremendous importance to the process through which large sections of society stand up in resistance, and catch a glimpse of the possibility of completely different relations between people. However, this exhilarating moment of potential is being transformed, smothered and domesticated into rescuing parliamentary democracy, the system of political rule that best serves to preserve and disguise the real dictatorship of the capitalist class and its international linkages.
Any real and serious attempt at a revolutionary path would have immediate consequences, not only in Greece but throughout the world. Yes, the hatred of the major powers would be intense and they should be expected to stop at nothing, including unleashing their murderous military force as well as economic strangulation and blackmail, to try to force people to back down. But these same powers are not free just to do as they please, and vicious counter-revolution, as well as the inspiration of real revolutionary breakthroughs, would have profound repercussions throughout Europe, in Berlin as well as Lisbon, and eastward across the Aegean. Even now there are significant shows of support and widespread sympathy for the resistance of people in Greece to punitive “austerity”. Unfortunately, up to now the perspective and hopes of supporters of the Greek masses have been channelled and stifled into support for the same illusory remedies and electoral machinations (Podemos in Spain, for example) that now stand so utterly bankrupt in Athens.
A genuine revolutionary approach would bring forth much more powerful and meaningful solidarity and support, especially from amongst those who need to be, and can be, the basis for revolution in other countries, along with people from all walks of life who yearn for a solution to the ills of capitalist society.
Another question that is sharply posed is the relationship between Greece and the rest of Europe, and especially the European Union. Europe, like the U.S., Japan and Russia (with capitalist China clambering for its place in the club) are pillars of the brutal imperialist order of exploitation. Of course, this club is inherently unequal: capitalism can function in no other way. For reasons of history, geography, economics and politics, Greece is cemented into a sharply inferior position in the European order. But a protracted effort to earn or beg a better position at this banquet of thieves is both impossible and immoral.
Enough of promising Merkel and Hollande that Greece will be the necessary rampart of a wealthy Europe against the massive dislocations of the Middle East and the millions of desperate people trying to escape the escalating madness. Instead of the Greek state serving as a wall or a military outpost for “fortress Europe” against these millions or as a minor player in shoring up despots, the Greek proletariat and people could show a different path and lend a welcoming hand in providing political, moral and material assistance to everyone seeking liberation. Immigrants who are abhorred and driven away today must join in making revolution tomorrow. The needed revolutionary orientation would surely further intensify the contradiction with the great powers, but it would also bring forward new reserves of support and, most importantly, accelerate the worldwide process of socialist revolution upon which the fate of the people of Greece, along with theoppressed everywhere, ultimately depends.
Greece has been strongly impacted by the history of past efforts to make revolution both at home and in the world as a whole. The Russian revolution, the building of socialism in the USSR, the role of communists in fighting the Nazi occupation in the second world war, the Greek civil war – all of this has made an indelible mark on the collective consciousness. Both the past achievements and shortcomings in this process are full of lessons that need to be understood.
The world proletarian revolution reached its greatest heights in China under the leadership of Mao, especially during the Cultural Revolution, which not only defended proletarian rule in that country but took giant strides in attacking the inequalities and birthmarks from the old exploitative system and advancing toward communism. In the 1960s and '70s, when the barely hidden capitalist character of the Soviet bloc was casting a dismal shadow, Mao's China was a powerful and vibrant inspiration for many in Greece as well as throughout the world. Unfortunately, far too many of the communists of the time, including those who supported then-revolutionary China because of its resistance to imperialism and support for revolutionary struggle, failed to grasp Mao's breakthroughs in the theory and practice of making communist revolution.
For most people, the setback of the first stage of communist revolution (the defeat of socialism first in the USSR and later in China after Mao's death), is distorted and out of focus. Lack of clarity on the historical achievements, actual mistakes and a deeper understanding of the complex nature of the process of communist revolution among those who are now fighting the current spasms and attacks of capitalism is a great ideological and political weight hampering them from taking the struggle to a whole new level.
We have the great advantage that the work has been done to achieve that clarity, an understanding that both rediscovers and upholds the great achievements of previous generations in making a breakthrough in the imperialist world order and explains in a scientific way the reasons for the defeat as well as the shortcomings, in both conception as well as practice, of those first efforts at proletarian revolution. A scientific understanding has been deepened and sharpened about what can and must be done to unleash a new stage of proletarian revolution and take this process forward toward the ultimate goal of world-wide communist society. We are speaking of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian.
This new advanced re-envisioning of communism provides the outlook to transcend all of the fundamental ills of the capitalist society that crushes the lives and spirits of billions, and foresees and advances toward a truly emancipatory worldwide human society – not only a world beyond the present decrepit order, but one much better, much livelier and more liberatory than the highest achievements of previous socialist revolutions.
This new synthesis regrounds communist revolution in the material and historical conditions that make this revolution possible and necessary. Proletarian revolution becomes more compelling, more tangible and hence rendered more desirable. The new synthesis of communism provides the crucial framework, a more thoroughly scientific approach to understanding the world and changing it, for the rebirth of a genuine revolutionary communist movement in Greece as well as elsewhere.
In addition to a rich history of struggle there is the legacy of revolutionary opportunities in Greece and elsewhere that were thrown away or squandered. The lessons of these experiences should increase our determination and capacity to not let current developing revolutionary possibilities be wasted.
The situation in Greece urgently requires a real movement for a genuine proletarian revolution and calls for revolutionaries to adopt the most advanced and scientific revolutionary thinking. Dozens can and must rapidly become thousands and the thousands must lead millions. In the face of a difficult, complex and contradictory situation with great potential, it is essential to arm oneself with the most comprehensive understanding of society and the revolutionary process of transforming it – revolutionary communism. Engaging with the new synthesis of communism is a crucial component of rising to the challenges of the moment and building a vanguard force that can meet the needs of the hour. The crisis and upsurge in Greece is a crucible in which conscious revolutionaries can and must step forward as emancipators of humanity, initiators of the new stage of communist revolution together with their sisters and brothers the world over.
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 #398 August 3, 2015
Updated August 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From Anthony Baez and Amadou Diallo to Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, and Sam DuBose:
The Police Are STILL Killing Black and Latino People
Cornel West, Carl Dix
and others speak on
Thursday, August 27, 6:30 pm
Doors open at 6:00 pm
First Corinthian Baptist Church,
1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. @ 116th St., New York City
Get Ready for
Rise Up October: Massive Mobilization to Stop Police Terror & Murder, October 22-24
Watch the rebroadcast of this event at www.stopmassincarceration.net
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Through which mode of production will any social problem be addressed?
That is the most fundamental question that must be asked, in regard to changes in society. And the answer to that question will be decisive in determining what must be done to bring about the changes that are understood to be necessary and desirable. Why? Because the mode of production—the basic economic relations and the basic dynamics of the economic system—is the decisive factor in determining what the character of a society, and its dominant social relations, politics, and ideology, will be.
To apply this to the particular question of whether this capitalist-imperialist system can do away with, or do without, the oppression of women, it is necessary to pose, and answer, some essential questions that need to be addressed in determining this, including:
How, under this system and given its fundamental relations and dynamics, would the role of women in childbirth and the rearing of children, the character and role of the family, and the system of commodity production and exchange that characterizes capitalism—how would all this, and the many direct and indirect expressions and manifestations of this in the superstructure of politics and ideology, be radically transformed in a way that would lead to abolishing the oppression of women?
How would the putrid social relations and culture that dominate in this society—which oppress and degrade women in a thousand ways, including the most vicious and violent—be actually transformed, within the confines of this system, in a way that would contribute to doing away with all the oppression and degradation of women?
How would all this be achieved, not only within a particular country, such as the U.S.—and not just for a section of people, particularly the more well-off and privileged—but for human society as a whole, on a global scale, especially given the highly globalized nature of this system, and its fundamental relations and dynamics?
There is much that has already been brought to light which demonstrates how the oppression of women has been historically, and today remains, completely and integrally bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited. At the same time, there is further analysis and synthesis that needs to be done—in regard to the situation of women in the world and how this relates today to the fundamental relations and dynamics of the dominant system in the world, capitalism-imperialism. But this needs to be taken up with a thoroughly and consistently scientific method and approach. And I am firmly convinced that such a scientific analysis and synthesis—including with regard to the basic questions that have been posed here—will reinforce, and further deepen, the fundamental understanding that it is impossible to achieve the emancipation of women under this system, and that this emancipation can only be fully and finally achieved through, and as a key part of, the revolutionary advance to communism throughout the world.
If someone wishes to argue that it could be possible to do away with the oppression of women under this capitalist-imperialist system, then let them make that argument, but that argument must include an answer to the kinds of essential questions I have posed here.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
For the Organizers of T-shirt Day on August 22:
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As we approach the one-year anniversary of the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, it is worth reflecting on the past year—of rebellion, of youth the system has cast out defiantly and courageously facing down the machine of the system, of big questions and ferment on the nature of America and the role of Black people, of a defiant mood among sections of people, even while this system comes back, continuing to murder our people, especially our youth, with Sandra Bland and Sam DuBose, the latest names to join the list of stolen lives, sparking anger and even more questioning and ferment, as millions view the videos of their fatal encounters with the system's thugs—even if all this rage against the machine has not boiled over yet— onto the streets.
Imagine a growing social force stepping onto the stage, a force from below, announcing themselves with the message BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! As we said in the opening editorial for this initiative, this puts forth a "radically different answer to what is needed right now, Revolution—Nothing Less!, and the leadership for this revolution in Bob Avakian, BA.
"Not only do these T-shirts speak to and resonate with the sentiment of the moment, but in fundamental terms, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! represents the real and scientific answer to these horrors—of why the police keep murdering our youth, why there is no justice and the murdering cops get away—and most important, what it will take to get beyond not only police terror and the oppression of Black people, but all of the myriad horrors, madness, and needless suffering that stem from this capitalist-imperialist system, its wars of empire, its criminalization of immigrants, its wanton destruction of the environment, and the horrendous attacks on and degradation of women around the world."
This is what we aim to manifest in a powerful way on August 22, a significantly more advanced and coherent expression than has been visible before. In this context, three brief points for the organizers and volunteers in this initiative across the country:
* The content and substance of realizing this goal—of advanced and coherent expressions—the actual engagement with BA, Bob Avakian, and the revolution he is leading, a basic sense among those who wear this T-shirt of what it is they are representing for when they put it on, of who BA is and what this revolution is about. This is why, as we get out the T-shirts, in the projects and on the street, at the protests and the concerts, with the statement ("When you put on this T-shirt, you step into the revolution"), explaining what this is about, and to unleash and lead a process of further engagement with BA, collectively and individually, through the film, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN, the film of the same name, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, and BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian.
Revolutionaries and the Revolution Clubs have also been making widespread use of BA's New Year's Statement, in audio and printed form, especially among the youth—and also reading aloud BA's recent statement:
There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.
* The manifestations themselves, on August 22, should transcend the divides the system forces us into, whether of adversarial gangs or different nationalities, should be transformative, collectively and individually, rising above the muck and mire of this system and pre-figuring (giving glimpses of) the society we want to bring into being through this revolution, and give a sense of the emerging social force on the scene—a revolutionary pole of attraction with a force from different sections of society cohering around it.
In some cities, for example, organizers are working towards having critical masses of people, even if not large, from "rival blocks" of the neighborhoods of the oppressed come together in some form that would be "locally meaningful" and assume greater significance as part of the national collage. In advance of the day, they are also working with people from the neighborhoods to massively saturate with the poster of people wearing the T-shirts—giving people a vision of what it is they are doing and achieving—as part of something bigger. In other cities, current proposals involve more mass manifestations of youth and others late Saturday night, in places where youth gather—the parks, the waterfronts, or central landmarks—including with nighttime viewings in parks and other outdoor spaces of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!. Other proposals include marking the spots where the police killed our youth with vibrant manifestations of people in T-shirts, reading aloud from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, including 1:13:
No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.
All of these should be captured in photos, videos, and social media (including with "selfies" of people wearing the shirt, turning around the content of a form that is otherwise obnoxiously about ''me, me, me'' to something that is about the world and a radically different future for humanity)—reported near "real time" to revcom.us for an emerging national picture. These are some sketches of ideas to spark people's imagination on what these manifestations could be, and we would like to hear other ideas to share—and the final plans for the 22nd that you would like to publicly announce so we can let our readers know and invite them to join up with these.
* There are nearly three weeks remaining and there is every basis in society and what this T-shirt and content represent to make these manifestations truly powerful, the beginnings of something new, a social force Coming Onto the Stage—Powerfully Representing for Revolution. Let's fight like hell to do this, for it matters. BA does have and represents a way out—getting rid of this system, with its murderous horrors and its soul-crushing nature, through Revolution—Nothing Less! People urgently need to know this, and see a force visibly manifesting this. We have the ways and means, and the tools to realize this goal—in the T-shirt itself and the sentiment it evokes and conveys, in the poster collage of people wearing the T-shirt giving a sense of the vision of what this could achieve and represent, and most fundamentally, in the works of BA, including in his Dialogue with Cornel West, which should be viewed thousands of times across the country in the next three weeks, with people in their living rooms, on the street, and in the parks.
The poster collage of people wearing the T-shirt is very powerful, and along with building for the day itself, should be used widely for fundraising—from the dollar bills to the thousands of dollars. Massive funds are needed —not only for subsidizing the T-shirts for those who cannot afford it, along with DVDs of the films and the book BAsics—but more fundamentally to project this growing social force onto a bigger stage, to further crack open societal discourse with BA and his work, to achieve BA Everywhere. Even while people are engaging BA, provoked and challenged, agreeing whole-heartedly with some things he says and disagreeing vehemently with other things, many sincere people can be won to want to see BA and this radically different alternative, the revolution, made available to the youth—in the face of what this system has to offer them. Therefore, we should struggle with people, winning them to donate substantially to this initiative, as part of the campaign to make BA and his work a societal reference point. Let's go!
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
July 13, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Last summer, nearly a year ago, the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, erupted into the national consciousness. Michael Brown, an unarmed Black youth, was gunned down by the police, and his body left on the street for four hours, in dishonor and humiliation. Courageous youths, from those the system has cast out, rose up in rebellion, manifesting on the streets night after night defying curfews in the face of a highly militarized police presence, and attracting support from all kinds of people in the process.
Ferguson broke out and followed in the wake of the police murder of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York City, who died saying, “I can’t breathe,” “I can’t breathe” as the murdering cop continued to strangle him in a chokehold, all captured on cell phone video for the world to see. All of this, and the non-indictments of the murderous cops, has sparked a year of rage, ferment, and roiling. It has been marked by a significant rebellious upsurge in Baltimore and the recent white supremacist murders in Charleston, South Carolina, and mass protests and societal questioning, about the police, the historical role and place of Black people in America, and what is to be done.
In the iconic images of the last year, in defiance and rebellion, in mass takeovers of highways and streets, is the striking presence of those whose T-shirts boldly proclaim BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! This was merely a glimpse, not only of a critically needed revolutionary pole of attraction, but a gathering social force cohering around this pole.
BA Everywhere is proud to announce the launch of a mass fundraising initiative, lasting through this summer, to achieve societal impact with these T-shirts, putting forth a radically different answer to what is needed right now, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, and the leadership for this revolution in Bob Avakian, BA.
Not only do these T-shirts speak to and resonate with the sentiment of the moment, but in fundamental terms, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! represents the real and scientific answer to these horrors—of why the police keep murdering our youth, why there is no justice and the murdering cops get away—and most important, what it will take to get beyond not only police terror and the oppression of Black people, but all of the myriad horrors, madness, and needless suffering that stem from this capitalist-imperialist system, its wars of empire, its criminalization of immigrants, its wanton destruction of the environment, and the horrendous attacks on and degradation of women around the world.
BA, Bob Avakian, has done the work to scientifically forge a new framework for human emancipation, the new synthesis of communism, including an actual strategy to make revolution in the U.S. and bring about a radically different and far better society, with a different economy and political system, a socialist society in transition to a world free of exploitation and all oppressive inequalities and social divisions. The world does NOT need to be this way, with all these horrors and this madness—and because of and based on the work BA has done, there is a visionary and concrete blueprint for this new society (in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)), and the strategy and leadership for the revolution needed to establish this. BA Everywhere, the fundraising campaign to make BA a household name and his work a point of reference with broad societal impact, has to do with making this known throughout society, raising sights and radically changing how people look at what is needed, possible, and desirable. Imagine the difference... This initiative is one of the major ways to make this happen, to contribute to this campaign this summer and fall.
Imagine a growing social movement through the summer with the T-shirt BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! becoming increasingly visible in the neighborhoods of the oppressed, at summer youth concerts, in upcoming anniversaries such as those of the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, all of this manifest in and spreading through social media, with dedicated Twitter hashtags, and on Instagram and YouTube. Imagine if a significant section of those wearing the T-shirt—through the summer—were more deeply getting into and struggling over the content declared in the T-shirt—of the revolution, of BA, through his works, especially the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN; the film of the same name, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!; and BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. If you in fact don’t know much about BA, these would be good places to start, and even as you are learning, and thinking about all this, agreeing, disagreeing, provoked and challenged by what BA says, if you feel this—BA and his vision—needs to be out there, sparking discussion and debate about revolution and a radically different world, stay engaged and contribute to this campaign.
In this process and dynamic of the summer, of fundraising for and getting out many hundreds of the T-shirts, sparking interest in the content of this revolution and what BA actually represents, accumulating forces for revolution through this, there are two critical moments to mark—the one-year anniversary of the murder of Eric Garner on July 17, and the one-year anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown on the weekend of August 9. Both weekends must be viewed and built as markers and nodal points in manifesting the growing presence of this social force, with these T-shirts, this message, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, and projecting this leader, BA!
We envision this whole process culminating with a mass manifestation of this growing social force—across the country, mainly in groups but also individually—of youths and others in these T-shirts on Saturday, August 22, followed by anchor showings of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! in major cities, either that night or Sunday afternoon, August 23.
For example, what we currently envision is scores of people rolling up to and assembling at major intersections and public squares on Saturday afternoon and evening, all wearing the T-shirt, raising their fists, reading quotes from BAsics, with these images simultaneously projected around the world on YouTube and other social media. In New York, this could be in a neighborhood like Harlem or someplace like Times Square. Imagine the same kinds of things happening in LA, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area—and in Ferguson, possibly at the site where Michael Brown was killed; Cleveland, where Tamir Rice was killed; and Baltimore, at the epicenter of the recent uprising after the police murder of Freddie Gray—and many other cities across the country. Others send selfies, as individuals and groups, joining hundreds of others across the country... all connected through and seeing each other on social media, feeling part of something much bigger and truly meaningful. Imagine the difference... projecting an unmistakable manifestation of a social force around the country with these T-shirts, this theme—REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, the leader speaking this: BA—and as an entrée and compelling invitation to critical sections of the people learning more and getting deeply into the content of this revolution and BA.
Massive funds are needed—not only for the T-shirts subsidized for those who cannot afford it, along with DVDs of the films—of BA in dialogue with Cornel West, and in REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, and the book BAsics—but more fundamentally, to further crack open societal discourse with BA and his work, to achieve BA Everywhere, and to project this growing social force onto a bigger stage. While there will be more coming soon on actual fundraising goals and means, we should all start thinking on how to raise big money for this initiative, who to go to and places to visit, especially among the propertied and middle strata, including progressive theaters and films, author readings and jazz performances, progressive churches, artist retreats—and campuses when they open. Donating funds is a very meaningful way, with impact, that all people can contribute to actually changing the world. Along with direct contributions, there are other means, including salons and house parties, art performances, auctions and book readings as fundraisers.
Fundraising among those who are less well-off, including at the bottom of society, is especially critical in building up the social base of support for this initiative—and for the revolution—through penny jars with dollars and coins, yard sales and pie bakes, or through neighbors and communities coming together to collectively buy and sponsor T-shirts for the youths who wear them.
For it matters!—it matters whether people “meet” and get to know BA, the best friend the masses have, fearlessly, consistently, and tirelessly struggling for our fundamental interests in getting free of all the chains; it matters whether people have access to the only real solution there is to all of these horrors and madness, a thoroughly scientific approach to what is the problem and what is the solution; it matters whether there will be a radically different and viable alternative posed in the discourse that otherwise seeks to re-direct the righteous rage and the profound questioning of people into the dead-end channels of faith—in “God,” in the elections, and in America, as the quest for a “more perfect union”; it matters whether people can breathe freely, knowing a radically different world is possible and contributing to making it happen, or be stuck within the constraints of this system, humming in the background as it crushes lives and destroys spirits.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
July 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This is sample text for the BA Everywhere T-shirt initiative that can be modified to draft fund-raising letters, for phone conversations and phone-banking scripts, and other fund-raising forms. For example, in the paragraph beginning “Since I have confidence...," the “X” needs to be replaced by specific numbers for the recipient of the letter.
I am writing to provide you an opportunity to be part of an exciting initiative that is meaningful, with impact, and meets a great need in society at this moment.
Take a look at the attached picture with youth in T-shirts that boldly proclaim BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Look at their raised heads and proud smiles. These are youth—and others—fighting for a future different from the spirit-killing dead-end roads on offer from either “the street,” and the future of prisons, police and mutual slaughter that that brings...despair...or the global phenomenon of reactionary jihadism. When these youth put on the shirts they are identifying with revolution and promoting the leader of this revolution, Bob Avakian, BA—even as they are learning more about it.
BA provides real and scientific answers and the solution to all this madness and horror that the system inflicts on our youth—why do the police keep murdering our youth and where does all this come from, and most importantly, what will it take to get beyond not only this and the oppression of Black people, but all of the crimes and needless suffering that stems from this capitalist-imperialist system, its wars and its torture, its criminalization of immigrants, its environmental destruction, and its attacks on and degradation of women around the world. In the film of the same name, BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less!, BA says: “Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity,” a conviction he has never wavered from and is leading and fighting to make real.
Through the summer, in the ghettos and the barrios, in the summer concerts and the basketball courts, there have already been growing numbers of youth and others, wearing and representing in these T-shirts. But this beginning current must make a leap into popular consciousness. And that will take money. With images on social media, and culminating as a first step in gatherings across the country on the weekend of August 22, this can begin to represent a growing social force cohering around this pole. It will be a compelling invitation to all of society—and especially those who need it most—to learn more and get into who is it that speaks: BA, and the content of this revolution. Your donation can help make that happen—and prepare the basis for something really new and refreshing for the school year soon beginning.
Since I have confidence you feel this alternative needs to be made widely available to the youth, I am requesting a donation of $X from you. Funds will be used for subsidizing these T-shirts and some of the main works by BA for our youth. For example, $120 will subsidize 10 T-shirts or $100 will subsidize 10 copies of the film of the dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West titled REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion (also online at www.revcom.us), or 10 copies of the book, BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian (Optional: Also, if you are not familiar with BA, I suggest these as places to start, and I can send you copies.)
Thank you for considering a donation. You can send your check to RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654; Attention: BA Everywhere* T-shirts initiative. There will be info soon about how to donate online. Also, if there are other ways you want to contribute and participate in this initiative and campaign, including hosting fund-raisers, please contact me.
* This T-shirt initiative is part of the BA Everywhere fund-raising campaign aiming to make BA and his work known throughout society. BA’s work, over the last few decades, has resulted in a new framework for the emancipation of humanity, the new synthesis of communism, summing up the experience of past revolutions and socialist states, and drawing from developments in science, history, art and other human endeavors. For more on BA’s new synthesis, go to www.revcom.us for THE NEW SYNTHESIS OF COMMUNISM: FUNDAMENTAL ORIENTATION, METHOD AND APPROACH, AND CORE ELEMENTS, by Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
Notes on the Rise Up October Tour in Cleveland
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the first stop of the Which Side Are You On?/Rise Up October tour in Cleveland. In thinking about this, I went back to the points from “Reflections on June 30 Meeting to Stop Police Terror—October 24: We MUST Change Everything, Beginning NOW“):
Getting people’s ideas onto the floor and recording their names and ways to contact them is just a beginning. People’s efforts and ideas need to be drawn on and sifted, cross-fertilized and knit together into something very powerful—and not in two or four weeks, but now. In fact, we have to be not only ready but aiming, right on the spot, to draw people into things—whether people from this broad movement are flyering or mounting some kind of resistance to police terror, either planned or spontaneous. They then in turn become part of things then and there, and work to draw in others. That has to be much more the “style,” or the “signature,” of this movement.
Participants in the press conference in Cleveland, July 22.
Carl Dix at press conference
The memorial for 12-year-old Tamir Rice at the spot where he was murdered by Cleveland Police, and the site of the press conference
In this light, there are a number of observations and lessons which I feel are important to continue to build upon.
First, this is a moment in which society has begun to cleave apart. But the ferment and resistance must go to another level—not just a quantitative other level but qualitative transformation in the nature of struggle. Which side are you on? must become a dividing line for millions. And not just in people’s “hearts,” feelings, and sentiments—as important as that is, but in their actions. In society as a whole, the police establishment and people who want to defend the police should find no quarter wherever they go. Which Side Are You On? should become a watchword throughout society. And whenever there is an outrage people should step up, oppose this system, and say NO MORE! Which Side Are You On?/Rise Up October can and should make this a reality.
Yes, the actions of the police have given rise to broad questioning and compelled many to act, but this resistance needs to take a leap—yes, build on what has been accomplished but we cannot see what we can and need to do as a quantitative continuation of what exists. Millions must be moved to find the terror and murder by police intolerable—and people need to see, in embryonic ways, that this is the product of a system and to fight against that system, in an uncompromising way.
Different people have different ideas about what that system is and the source of the terror and the solution.
Within this overall mix, the revolutionary communists have a core role to play—in bringing the truth to all the people about the nature of this system, the capitalist system, which is the source of and thrives on all these “seemingly without end” horrors. The truth is that the fundamental way to put an end to the horror is through an actual revolution—an emancipatory communist revolution—and that the leadership and work of Bob Avakian (BA) have provided the strategic framework and goals for such a revolution. This needs to be made known to all—the extent to which this connects with people and becomes a reference point will have a huge, defining impact on whether people are willing to accept this world as it is—or not!
In Cleveland, Carl Dix, co-initiator with Dr. Cornel West of Rise Up October and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, spoke to thousands... at the press conference, in meetings with different organizations, at the Justice for Tamir Rice demonstration, and at the Movement for Black Lives National Convening.
For many, to hear Carl Dix speak about the crimes of the police, why we must rise up in October, and the revolutionary solution to all the atrocities this system brings down on the people of the planet is to be moved to join the movement for October 24 with certitude and spirit. And more, to be moved to seriously get to the root of the problem and consider the radical, revolutionary solution we need. I saw how this unleashed and enabled people from all walks of life to take up this struggle to stop police terror even as they wrestle with these big questions of problem and solution.
This moment is giving rise to people who yearn to act to stop police terror. Years ago, I saw a documentary on Mississippi Freedom Summer (Freedom On My Mind), and there was one young man who spoke about how and why he joined the struggle for freedom. He described how seriously angry he was, all the time, about how Black people were oppressed in Mississippi. He used to go out into the fields and preach about David and Goliath, scream and just kick trees in frustration and anger, pretending the trees were white folk. At that time, the movement across the South for civil rights was growing. And it was raising the call: Which Side Are You On? And then the Freedom Summer workers came to his town to challenge the whole segregationist setup and gave him the means for his anger to be channeled into real change. And he not only joined the struggle, but became an activist leader in that struggle.
Today, times are giving rise to a new generation of youth and others who are (figuratively) “screaming and kicking the trees.” This is a moment when there are hundreds and thousands who are outraged and want change, many thousands who are looking for a way to put an end to the situation where a death sentence hangs over the heads of Black and Latino people all the time. They think about Sandra Bland, Sam DuBose, Freddie Gray, Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, and Tamir Rice (to name only five). If you are Black or Latino in this society and unwilling to kowtow to the powers-that-be, or frankly even willing to kowtow, you can’t even drive down the street and commit a minor traffic infraction or, as Freddie Gray did in Baltimore, make “eye contact” with the pigs, stand with a bicycle that belongs to your brother or play with a toy gun, as Tamir Rice did, without facing the penalty of death.
Right now, the movement for revolution faces a huge challenge. All these people and more, people from every corner of this country and of all nationalities who are outraged by the daily brutality and murder must be massively mobilized to rise in New York City on October 24. What I saw was just a glimpse of the outrage that people feel and the ways in which it can be tapped into and brought forth. Once again, as that article (“Reflections”) says: “...this is NOT going to be—it can’t be—business-as-usual in late October... This is going to be, and it has got to be, some whole other thing. Too much is at stake. And if that is to be so, it sure can’t be business-as-usual building it...” This is a question sharply posed to everyone—those in the movement for revolution, and beyond that, everyone who refuses to accept the state of police terror. Are we going to start from what exists, putting one foot in front of the other, or unlocking the potential that has yet to be unlocked? Closely intertwined with events and outrages, with activities of a whole range of people and political forces, how we answer this question is the dynamic factor in making Rise Up October what it needs to be.
I was new to Cleveland, but observed that as the tour hit the streets, it unearthed people of all ages who are seriously angry and ready to fight back. There were people who had been involved for some time, those who knew of this movement but had not been active, and brand-new forces who were drawn into the struggle. The Revolution Club played a dynamic role in this... going out among the masses, taking the message that Humanity Needs Revolution and Communism, and Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution to many, many people—from the projects to the downtown streets of Cleveland and reaching out to people of all ages, Black and white, and organizing people into the movement.
Members of the Revolution Club recruited and joined with youth from Cleveland to wear their T-shirts promoting BA Speaks: Revolution—NOTHING LESS!, and distributed palm cards with the powerful quote from BA and dozens of copies of Revolution newspaper as they went out into the projects and neighborhoods and into the Movement for Black Lives National Convening. BA’s quote—and the bold projection of this leader to a wide range of people—stirred up controversy wherever it went out, demonstrating once again the dynamic role that the revolution and its leadership play as people raise their heads and step into the struggle and wrestle with the path and possibility to really change this system. But this was only a glimpse. In summing this up, it is clear that much, much more could have been done to get this quote into the hands of hundreds and hundreds of people, to lift people’s vision to the way the world could be, to the revolution we need and the leadership we have. And much more could have done to draw people into the movement we are building for revolution.
Wherever the tour stopped, with the Revolution Club at its head, women and men stepped forward ready to challenge the system and throw in with Rise Up October. The Rise Up October movement holds the potential to be a decisive beginning to the end of terror and death by police—and people want to make this a reality, wholeheartedly. And they have lots of ideas. There are many, perhaps unanticipated, but important and creative ways that people who take this up are finding to spread the word and organize others. And all this is a critical part of the ways in which Rise Up October can become a mass, nationwide movement.
The stop of the tour in Cleveland was just a glimpse of what is possible: family members joining the tour and advocating for Rise Up October in the press conference, at the mass meeting and at the Justice for Tamir demonstration; church members boldly speaking out and connecting up and enabling Carl Dix to meet and speak with the 8th District Black Congressional Caucus, and representatives of civil rights and religious organizations; people from the neighborhoods and the Black community stepping out to take up the struggle in the projects, to blow the whistle, going to the Black Lives Matter National Convening to struggle for Rise Up October, and more. Carl Dix also spoke at a town hall meeting for Tamir Rice. These are precious opportunities for this movement to expand. Maybe it begins with “tell us where to go and what to do,” but much more is possible as people from all walks of life get into and make a commitment to Rise Up October, to goals that are greater than any individual, and to putting themselves on the line to achieve those goals.
Here’s my thinking: Just as that young man decades ago in Mississippi jumped into and took up the struggle and said “Goddamn, this is it,” hundreds now need to know there is a place for them to join this movement, to strategize with others and develop the ways and means to organize and lead others. This can be done in small ways, and in larger ways. In Cleveland, people stepped forward in different ways. People living in the projects distributed materials to others in their neighborhoods and blew whistles. A minister volunteered to speak to a congregation at another church. Inspired by the Revolution Club, others donned the BA Speaks: Revolution—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt and marched through the streets with the Rise Up October contingent in the Justice for Tamir Rice demonstration.
A woman I met has written and developed a performance piece about the brutality of the police that she wants to perform at all kinds of venues. Another motivated by the coming together of her religious convictions with a hatred of what the police perpetrate day in and day out began to reach out to all she knew to spread the word, call upon people to support Rise Up October, meet with Carl Dix, and raise funds for this effort. A man who is talented at spreading the news on social media blasted out the press conference to thousands.
Representatives and members of organizations in the community attended the mass meeting and spoke out at the press conference. I would add that the press conference broke way into mainstream media—got good and substantial coverage on three TV stations, PBS, and the main Cleveland newspaper—which is a reflection of the potential impact of breaking through and creating a scene in the context of what is going on right now in society.
Moved by the urgency to say NO MORE—stop police terror... murder by police must not be tolerated, new leaders can and should step forward. Yes, people will have their own ways of doing this but that’s what this movement needs... people and organizations finding all kinds of ways to reach out and draw that basic dividing line: Which Side Are You On?/Rise Up October—Stop Police Terror. If people are moved by this, and moved to challenge millions to take sides, then there is not only a place for them in this movement but real needs they can meet—as organizers for Rise Up October.
Ask yourself—wouldn’t it be an essential advance for efforts to be initiated and led by those who are wholeheartedly building for Rise Up October even as they promote this in their own ways and with their own understanding of how to pose the question: Which Side Are You On?
One key lesson that the experience of the tour in Cleveland brought home to me was that proceeding from, settling into, or making plans based on what one conceives to be the limits of what is possible (based on we have done before and looking at that as what can be mobilized now to radically change the terrain) would be a grievous error. There are thousands who are yearning to be free—and our plans need to aim to reach and organize those thousands. Understanding that there will be a struggle to realize that objective. This struggle may be hard-fought, that is what it will take to make Which Side Are You On? a dividing line in all of society.
To flood the streets of New York City with thousands protesting on October 24, the Which Side Are You On?/Rise Up October movement can and must tap into the serious anger and outrage of tens of thousands—and unleash them to take this up as their own.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Press conference on Wed. Aug 5th at 11 am in front of the Chicago Police Headquarters at 35th and Michigan. This press conference is taking place 60 years after the murder of Emmett Till and 1 year after the murders of John Crawford and Mike Brown, police continue to murder Black and Latino people every day in this country with impunity and no convictions. Sandra Bland, Sam DuBose, Freddie Grey, Andy Lopez ... this is a stark reminder that after 60 years we are still fighting a slow genocide against Black people.
Carl Dix, a co-initiator, with Cornel West, of the call for October 24 and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party
Rev. Jerome McCorry, faith leader of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Mertilla Jones, grandmother of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, murdered by Detroit police in 2010.
Airicka Gordon-Taylor, Emmett Till's cousin
The following families of loved ones killed by police will bring their powerful testimony of their loss and suffering and continuing fight for justice and why they support Oct 24 to stop police terror. They will be available for interviews:
Also speaking and attending:
Tio Hardiman, from Violence Interrupters
Brother Raheem from Midwest Coalition to Stop Violence
Rev Greg Greer, Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). and President of Freedom First International.
Also attending: community activists working to stop youth violence and police brutality, and youth who are former gang members. For more information read the Call for RiseUpOctober 24, and go to stopmassincarceration.net
Some Other Tour Highlights:
1. National Speaking Tour Organizing Meeting, #RiseUpOctober – Which Side Are You On?
Wednesday August 5th, 7:00 – 10:00 pm
Trinity Episcopal/Anglican Church
125 E. 26th St. (SE corner of Michigan & 26th St.)
Parking lot next to church, CTA bus #4 drops you off at the corner.
2. Tuesday, Aug 4, 5 pm, the tour will be part of the demonstration called by Chicago Sistas Stand for Sandra Bland! at 95th and Dan Ryan the busiest transit stop on the Southside in Chicago.
3. The tour will be out in the neighborhoods. Times and places to be announced.
4. The Tour will leave for Ferguson on Friday for the 1-year anniversary of the police murder of Mike Brown and the heroic uprising that followed.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Canfield Apartments: Mike Brown street memorial is reestablished by Canfield residents in the street where Mike’s body lay for 4½ hours after he was murdered by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson.
This man was confronted when youths caught him tearing down posters on W. Florissant Ave. “Why are you taking down our posters?” He stopped.
All photos: special to revcom.us
Folks are getting ready for the August 8-10 anniversary of the murder of Mike Brown and the beginning of the Ferguson rebellion. These photos were taken on August 1 in Ferguson on W. Florissant Ave., where people stood up in August 2014 and faced brutal repression in order to say “No More!” to police murder, and on Canfield Drive where Mike Brown was murdered. Activists, artists, and victims of police terror, bring your creativity to W. Florissant Ave. and bring alive the truths and spirit of the historic events of one year ago that initiated a nationwide resistance to stop police murder.
Left: Posters on W. Florissant. Right: Mural at W. Florissant and Canfield Drive.
Below: Inside a popular restaurant on W. Florissant Ave.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From Stop Mass Incarceration Network:
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The situation is this: thousands of people have risen in the last year to demand that the police stop their ruthless and repeated killings of Black and Latino people. But the police, backed up from on high, have continued this onslaught and lashed back harder. This is a plague, this is the spear point of a genocide.
Yet way too many people still sit on the sidelines.
In the face of this relentless terror, Rise Up October has called for militant and mass mobilization on October 22 to 24, focused in New York City, to STOP this. These actions aim to mobilize many more thousands of people, from all walks of life, much more actively into this fight, to powerfully insist through their actions on those days that these murders must simply stop, NOW.
Such an unprecedented outpouring of protest and resistance, along with the whole process of building up to these days, would awaken and inspire millions, and sharply raise the question to the whole society and the whole world: WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? The aim is to get things to the point where there are millions who both feel in their bones that this system of intimidation, terror and murder is INTOLERABLE... and are willing to step out and act in all different ways to stop this, and have the ways to do so. In other words, these actions in October aim to change the whole tenor and direction of society and make a major leap in turning back and stopping this terror in blue.
That is what we are calling for. And that is worth going all-out on.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
In the wake of the release of the dash-cam video of Sandra Bland’s arrest, many, many people have been very shaken by what happened, and quite a few have stepped forward to express their outrage at the provocation, bullying, and brutality of the cop who arrested her. This is a very good thing.
But all too often I have heard commentators follow this righteous outrage at the police with defensive “explanations” of Sandra Bland’s handling of the situation—specifically that Sandra was not deferential to the cop, and in fact expressed first her irritation at being unjustly pulled over, and then her increasing anger as she was unjustly arrested and brutalized.
I have heard people say, “Maybe she was having a bad day...,” or “maybe this wasn’t the best tactic...,” or “it’s no crime to be mouthy.” I even heard one young Black comic say that the lesson for him was that “if an officer stops me, I’m just going to get in the back seat of the patrol car and wait for him to put the handcuffs on.”
Keeping our heads down and “staying safe” abides by the logic of the oppressors. That they have all the power and what the people should do is submit. Again, NO!
Any justice-loving person should be PROUD and INSPIRED by the way Sandra Bland conducted herself. In the face of a bogus traffic stop for not signaling on a road with no traffic on it, and with the full knowledge and understanding that the police can and do kill Black people for things like this or for nothing at all—and get away with it!—Sandra Bland refused to be submissive and apologetic.
She did not cower and grovel; she did not say “oh, I’m so sorry officer, I must have forgotten...,” or smile or in any way try to hide her sense of injustice. She told the cop, calmly but plainly, why she thought it was unjust, while acknowledging that he had the power to do it. When ordered to put out her cigarette in her own car she legitimately questioned the cop’s right to do that. When ordered out of the car she insisted on knowing why and attempted to call her lawyer.
Even when threatened directly with a Taser—potentially deadly force—she loudly protested, and her protests continued—loud enough to draw the attention of bystanders—even as she was held down and handcuffed by the cops. In fact, this is how the story of what happened to her first came to our attention, through the video of a bystander who was some distance away from her arrest.
In other words, even in the scary and difficult situation she found herself in, Sandra Bland acted as a conscious fighter against police brutality, trying to resist and expose injustice, and to alert other people to what was happening.
What is WRONG with any of this? Shouldn’t all of us strive to have that spirit and that courage when confronted with injustice?
Now in saying this, I am not trying to be glib, or gloss over the fact Sandra ultimately had her life snatched away from her. I understand the logic that says that the best way to stay safe in any encounter with the police is total submission. (Though that is definitely NOT a “guarantee”—for instance, how many Black men have been shot while calmly reaching for their identification?)
Vigil for Sandra Bland, July 28, Chicago. (AP photo)
But while starting from “how do I stay safe” might seem like “a good tactic,” it in fact contributes and leads to people staying enslaved. The bar keeps moving lower... more and more submission and acquiescence is demanded and people are reduced to broken wretches. The whole point of the way police conduct themselves with Black and Brown people, and in many ways even with people more broadly, is to produce a compliant population, to telegraph to people, especially the most oppressed, day in and day out, that no matter how fucked over you are, no matter how outrageous the authorities are, no matter how unjust the society is, no matter how much unjustified and unnecessary pain and suffering you and those you love are going through, you had damn well better accept it quietly... or it will get even worse! And that is true—any form of serious resistance, even on a low level, will be met with violent suppression by the enforcers of this system.
There is actually no way to “get around this,” to “finesse” it. We should appreciate and uphold the courage in what Sandra Bland did, but the point is not that if everyone does the same, that is enough, by itself, to end this police terror. The point is that we need to learn from her attitude and increase the ability and capacity of the people to organize and put an end to these horrors. We need to build a movement that embodies the spirit she showed. If the people as a whole are going to get free of this horrible oppressive society and these brutal and inhuman rulers, then individual people—millions of us—are going to have to actually increase the personal risk we confront, because we know for a fact—a historical fact and a fact we see playing out every damn day—that this system wields a lot of capacity for violence and they will use it in a heartbeat when they perceive their interests, or even their “authority,” are being undermined in any way.
Again, we need MUCH, MUCH MORE than simply individuals behaving courageously in encounters with police, like Sandra Bland did. And we even need MUCH, MUCH MORE than masses of defiant youths behaving courageously in the streets, like the defiant youths of Ferguson and then in Baltimore.
We need a REVOLUTION, and for that we need a REVOLUTIONARY PEOPLE, which means millions of people being ready and willing to stand up to the full viciousness and violence of this system, millions of people willing even to risk death as part of bringing about a new world fit for human beings. That is INDISPENSABLE for liberation.
But we will never GET TO THAT, we will never get to millions standing up in a fully conscious and revolutionary way, if our point of departure is “staying safe,” and if we do not respect, appreciate, and defend the spirit that Sandra Bland showed of putting justice above safety, even when by herself, and in the lair of the beast.
We need to appreciate it, we need to learn from it, we need to build on it, and we need to spread it, as part of forging a revolutionary people, and getting ready for the time when all that courage and defiance can be focused like a laser on the system that holds us all down, can become a powerful force taking that down, and then with that same courage, forging a new world.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
July 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
There are people within the movement who are spreading slanderous distortions of the Revolutionary Communist Party’s views and strategy for an actual revolution. These people claim that the RCP is engineering confrontations with the police in order to “kick off” a revolution. This is shameless fearmongering about both the revolutionaries and the youth who have played such a courageous role in Ferguson and Baltimore. Right now they have made these claims in an attempt to repudiate and undercut the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, in which the RCP works with many other individuals and forces, from holding a demonstration in Ferguson that would commemorate and protest the outrageous murder of Michael Brown (and the Department of Justice report that lied about this), uphold the heroic resistance that went on last year, and call for the movement to go forward. In our view, such a demonstration must be part of the whole mix of the Ferguson weekend activities—for the actions of those youth and many others who stood with them, in the face of repeated police assault, actually played a critical role in inspiring people from all sections of society to take up this struggle, and to begin to challenge the whole direction of things in a way not seen for a long, long time.
Some of these people have spread lies and fabrications which are identical to lies which appeared on racist, right-wing websites, which we won’t even dignify by repeating. Shame on them! Both this kind of distortion and these outright lies most of all serve the police and forces of repression and must have no place in our movement.
These slanders take the fact that the RCP is in fact working for an actual revolution and then claim that the “party provokes confrontation in order to start the revolution.” We do see building this resistance as a crucial element of building up the forces for revolution—a revolution that must be made by the masses in their millions, as conditions for that revolution develop from a combination of the workings of the system, the actions of the rulers and the struggle of the people. Anyone who sincerely wants to get even an inkling of what this means should check out the statement from the RCP, “On the Strategy for Revolution.” If you do, you will find that that strategy is very different from some cartoon stereotype of trying to “kick off a revolution” by supporting a demonstration to call out Michael Brown’s murder for what it was ... to uphold the masses who defied calls to obey the rules in order to demand justice ... to build on all that. Such demonstrations should be welcomed by all who really want to put an end to these police murders. Such demonstrations are absolutely necessary to build the struggle against the relentless onslaught of police murder that has continued since Michael Brown. This—actually STOPPING this genocidal new Jim Crow—is a goal which our Party supports and has been actively working to make happen. AND we, the RCP, participate in all this as part of preparing the ground, preparing the people and preparing the vanguard—to get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win. Do we really want to fight these same battles 60 years from now? Or do we want emancipation? And if you say you want emancipation, then what are YOUR answers??
In fact, these lies and distortions began last August. There were of course attacks from law enforcement and right wing and mainstream media. But in a truly outrageous manner, those attacks were echoed from some who were supposedly on the side of the people. There was even some ugly collaboration with the police during demonstrations to effect the arrest of leaders like Carl Dix. These attacks and lies were answered in depth at revcom.us last fall.
The heart of these lies and attacks is that rather than act as the system’s firemen, dousing the people’s anger with calls for standing down in the face of vicious repression by the state, the people associated with the RCP and the Revolution Clubs stood with the people and said that they had right on their side and should keep up the struggle in the face of all that was thrown at them. And just for the record, the revolutionaries—along with members of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network—were tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and arrested along with many, many others in Ferguson in the days immediately following the murder of Mike Brown.
Principled differences and debate is vital for any movement. But that is very different than deliberately distorting people’s positions in ways which create an atmosphere where the authorities feel a freer hand to attack. People should sharply speak out against such distancing tactics whoever they are directed at.
The powers that be have worked overtime to change public opinion in this country to be negative about Ferguson over the past year. They are very fearful of the example, the inspiration and the beginnings of Black people standing up and bringing everyone else in on it. Attacking revolutionaries is part of that package to reverse the verdict that it was right for people in Ferguson to rebellion, whatever the stated intentions of the people spreading these slanders.
The defiant ones who stood up in Ferguson and Baltimore, especially the youth, who were then joined by many others all over the country—they did what was right. For our part, we will neither turn away from the fight to finally be free of this nightmare once and for all, nor from the very critical struggle right now to STOP this genocidal onslaught of police terror and murder. The RCP will keep working for an ACTUAL revolution for which it has a REAL strategy which anyone can read at revcom.us. From that perspective, we are working now to unite with many, many others who hold different views but who are also determined to make a major leap in the struggle to stop police terror during RiseUpOctober including in New York City on October 24.
Chicago Branch, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Samuel DuBose (Courtesy of DuBose family via AP)
Terina Allen, Samuel DuBose’s sister: “If it were not for that video camera, Sam would be no different than all the other incidents because the second officer was ready to corroborate every lie.” She added, “My brother was just about to be one other stereotype and that’s not going to happen.”
On July 19, Samuel DuBose was driving near his home. He had plans to watch a movie with his young son later that night. But when he passed through a neighborhood near the University of Cincinnati, he was pulled over by Ray Tensing, a University of Cincinnati cop, for a missing license plate on the front of his car.
This was not the first time he had been stopped for a minor traffic violation, for “driving while Black.” In the past 20 years DuBose had been charged more than 75 times in Hamilton County, mostly for minor traffic and other violations. 75 times!
This time, only a few minutes after being stopped, Sam DuBose was dead. Tensing pulled out his gun, stuck it inside the car window, and shot Sam point blank in the head.
Immediately, as usual, the authorities put out the story that the cop was “in fear for his life,” that this was “justifiable homicide.” Tensing claimed that Sam DuBose had been trying to run him over with his car; Sam’s long history of encounters with the police was offered as proof that Tensing’s actions were justified. Other cops on the scene backed Tensing up. Like so many hundreds and thousands of other cases of police murder—Tensing was on his way to walking free after killing someone in cold blood.
But the family of Sam DuBose kept pushing for the police video of what happened to be released. Now it has and now the world can see what really happened, how this was in fact, a case of cold-blooded murder. Now the whole world can see the cover-up that would have exonerated the cops if not for the determination of those outraged about this murder by the police.
The official report reads: “Officer Tensing stated that he was attempting a traffic stop (No front license plate) when, at some point, he began to be dragged by a male black driver who was operating a 1998 Green Honda Accord.” It then goes on to say, “Officer Tensing stated that he almost was run over by the driver of the Honda Accord and was forced to shoot the driver with his duty weapon.” And then, “Officer Tensing repeated that he was being dragged by the vehicle and had to fire his weapon.”
The report “documents” the other cops who backed up Tensing’s story: “Officer Kidd told me that he witnessed the Honda Accord drag Officer Tensing, and that he witnessed Officer Tensing fire a single shot. It is unclear how much of this incident OIT Lindenschmidt witnessed.”
And, “Looking at Officer Tensing’s uniform, I could see that the back of his pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface.”
Now, watch the full 24 minute version (at right).
It is maddening and heartbreaking to see this: Another Black man, stopped by a cop for a minor traffic violation, then shot dead for no reason at all. Yet another victim of the genocidal police murder of Black and Latino people.
Compare what you see in this video to the LIES in the police report. It is clear in the video that Tensing was not dragged at all; that at most, when he fired his weapon he fell down backwards. DuBose's car takes off after he is shot and falls forward against the steering wheel and gas pedal.
Initially when Tensing is asked if he is ok he says “I’m good,” and goes on to say “I just got tangled in the car. I thought I was going to get run over.” But then the story begins to shift, to where he starts to claim that “he was dragging me.”
Watch how the cops begin to build their story to protect each other even in those first few minutes. Watch the total lack of concern for Sam DuBose who is sitting in the car and has just been delivered a mortal shot in the head. (The police report, written two days after DuBose was killed, even says “At the time of this report, I do not know, with certainty, the name of the deceased. It is suspected that the last name may be 'Dubose.'”!) Watch the captain who keeps suggesting to Tensing that he is “hot” and needs to go inside the van where he can “be cool” and talk, referring to the fact that his body camera is still running. Watch Tensing build his story and the others begin to back him up.
This is not the first time the University of Cincinnati police (with a total of 17 officers) have killed a Black man on or near the campus—since 1997 there have been three other instances. In 1997 Lorenzo Collins was leaving University Hospital and was shot. In 2010 Kelly Bernard Brinson died after being tasered and forcibly restrained by the police. In 2011 18-year-old Everette Howard died after having a taser fired at him.
The two officers who backed up Tensing’s story about being dragged were also involved in the death of Kelly Brinson, a mental health patient who had gone to the University Hospital for medical help and suffered a psychotic episode while there. According to the family’s lawsuit about his death, before Brinson was placed in restraints he “repeatedly yelled that slavery was over and he repeatedly pleaded not to be shackled and not to be treated like a slave”.
In all three of these cases the officers were cleared of any wrongdoing and received no punishment.
Joe Deters, the Prosecuting Attorney for Hamilton County, said when he announced that Tensing would be charged with murder: “This office has probably reviewed upwards of hundreds of police shootings, and this is the first time that we’ve thought this is without question a murder.”
Perhaps Deters wants people to think that this means this murder is “rare.” But in those “hundreds of police shootings” during the 17 years Joe Deters has led the office, there were no videos, only the words of family, friends, and witnesses to counter the police statements—the police LIES. The indictment of Tensing is the one and only time a cop has been indicted for murder in Hamilton County, in all those hundreds of cases.
And then think about “all the other incidents” that Sam DuBose’s sister, Terina Allen, is talking about: Michael Brown a year ago, Malcolm Ferguson, Ramarley Graham, Oscar Grant, Freddie Gray, and many, many more—people who were demonized by the cops who killed them with claims that the cops “feared for their lives.”
The cops don’t lie primarily because they think people in the oppressed communities will believe them. In fact, they lie in order to more thoroughly be able to brutalize and terrorize people in those communities. They lie to give legitimacy to their brutality and murder, so that people in the broader society will support them.
And now that everyone can see the reality of these cops feeling no qualms about murdering and brutalizing Black and Latino people, and making up stories to justify it, getting away with it time after time—the question is, WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? As Carl Dix says, “There is no room for neutrality here. There is no middle ground. You are either standing with the people who are acting to STOP these attacks or you are OK with racists in and out of uniform murdering Black people. We have to turn society upside down over this by mobilizing a huge march in New York City to STOP police terror.”
Be in New York City October 24 to STOP POLICE TERROR. Get involved in Rise Up October!
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From The Michael Slate Show
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Gary Blasi, Professor of Law Emeritius at UCLA, and Peter Schey, President and Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, were interviewed July 17, 2015, on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica radio. This is a rush transcript of that interview.
Michael Slate: Joining us now to talk about the assault on the homeless in Los Angeles today is Gary Blasi, Professor of Law Emeritius at UCLA. He’s been an advocate and researcher on homeless issues in LA since 1983. And Peter Schey, who is the President and Executive Director of the Center for Rights and Constitutional Law. He’s been the director of that since 1980. Gary and Peter, welcome to the show. Let’s jump into this because I want to get as much done—I had a list of about 25 questions for you, OK. So Gary, revisions to the city’s municipal code that make it easier to seize and destroy the belongings of homeless people; there’s been a whole lot of talk about that happening and it’s impending. You’ve described these new laws as being draconian. What’s going on with this now and what do you mean by draconian?
Gary Blasi: Well, this was—if you just read them—which I sometimes wonder whether either if the city attorney or the city council members who voted 12 to one for them, are pretty astonishing. They say that unless you can carry everything you have on your back and the police cite you for having something on public property either the sidewalk or a park and they see your stuff on public property, anywhere in the city 24 hours later, then they can seize everything that can fit in a 60-gallon garbage can and everything else they can destroy.
Michael Slate: You’re saying that it doesn’t matter whether you’re there or you’re not there, if you’re standing right next to your stuff, they can still come over and just haul it away―and tough luck.
Gary Blasi: They can just take it away and there will be police officers and presumably other city employees driving trucks for the herding away of people’s property, but yeah, it won’t matter if you are there or not. It won’t matter whether you move it across the street or across town. If it’s still in the city of Los Angeles and it’s on public property it’s subject to seizure. Your only options are to either levitate yourself off the surface of the earth or move to another city or just keep walking.
Michael Slate: Yeah, that’s incredible. So draconian man, and it can’t be a force and intimidation when you think about in the way that it’s happening. It’s heavy and just so people know, you’re talking about—what’s the area of Los Angeles like 486 square miles, something like that?
Gary Blasi: Yeah, LA City is about 486 square miles. LA County is a little over 4,000.
Michael Slate: OK, this is phenomenal. Nowhere in the city can they go where their stuff will then be safe. Now, there were other laws that were thrown in there―two other parts of this bill. Where do they stand now, where people could be charged with a misdemeanor in relation to their goods being seized? Is that still on the books?
Gary Blasi: Yeah, the law actually takes legal effect on July 18, .
Michael Slate: Tomorrow.
Gary Blasi: Tomorrow—exactly, and as of tomorrow everything I just described will constitute a misdemeanor and subject you to $1,000 fine and/or six months in jail in addition to the loss of all of your property. So, that part of the law―literal criminalization is still there. Even if the misdemeanor penalties are removed, it works out to be roughly the same thing, because what they’re talking about now may be true [inaudible] to remove the misdemeanor penalty but still allow the police to write a citation. Of course, if you’re homeless or even just extremely poor, you get a citation and these are for upwards of up to $170. You don’t pay it, you’re still subject to arrest for the warrant issued when you didn’t pay the citation. So, either it’s a direct trip to jail or a more circuitous route to jail—but it’s criminalization either way.
Michael Slate: Peter, welcome to the show.
Peter Schey: Thank you. I appreciate it.
Michael Slate: Peter, you work a lot with immigrants on skid row and I imagine with people in general, but a lot with immigrants. Can you give us a sense the overall numbers of people on skid row?
Peter Schey: Yeah, it’s very large. Currently, the shelter shortfall in Los Angeles is anticipated to be approximately 70 percent, and upwards of 70 [inaudible] and predicted to be about 52 percent. So that means that in this year roughly, 70 percent of people who need housing or are going to find housing―the numbers—the actual hard numbers are difficult to pin down. Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority puts the number at approximately 45,000 homeless in Los Angeles County. Other private groups have put it at closer to 85,000. Obviously, what we see here is basically, is the social imprisonment of a Third World population of largely people of color. Lack of affordable housing in Los Angeles seems to have a disparate racial impact, which we think is in violation of the United States’ obligations under the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.
A large part of that population consists of immigrants; both of very large numbers of unaccompanied minors and other recently arrived immigrant families. There’s no doubt that they will suffer enormously as a result of this new policy, not only in the sense that their property will be seized and will be put in some downtown location that many, many of these homeless folks couldn’t reach. They wouldn’t know where it is. They wouldn’t have the funds to take a bus to get there, and this facility tends to keep bankers’ hours. So, once that property is seized, it’s pretty much gone for those people. There will also be a collateral impact on immigration status in the sense that when people are cited, people are arrested, it [information] tends to go into databases [which] the federal authorities have access to those bases. If and when some of these folks are eligible to apply to legalize their status, thery’re going to run into obstacles and they can be denied legalization of status if it appears that they’re likely to become a public charge in the future. If somebody has several of these citations or arrests or jail sentences on their records and that appears in federal databases, which it will, that creates an obstacle to many of these people to ultimately legalizing their status. So, there are multiple problems with the sort of enforcement approach that Los Angeles is taking, rather than creating what cities like New York and other cities have done, which was in essence create a right to shelter for every man, woman, and child, to address this problem.
Michael Slate: Now Peter, one question around this in relation to immigrants: Is there a large immigrant population of homeless? I’m curious about that because you tend to see in neighborhoods where there are a lot of immigrants there, generally, you tend to see a number of people who are living on the streets, and I don’t know if that’s also true on skid row―that there’s a large immigrant population on skid row , but how big is this question of homelessness among the immigrant population?
Peter Schey: It’s very significant and it’s increasing as a result of the failure of the federal government―the Obama administration and the Congress—to seriously grapple with the question of comprehensive immigration reform, and so what we see as we have economic dis-relocation in Mexico and Central America. We have the aftermath of the wars that the U.S. basically conducted in Central America. We have deportation of alleged members and increasing gang violence in Central America, coffee crop failures, all resulting in families coming to the United States unaccompanied, with no path to citizenship without employment authorization. If they’re lucky enough to be working at all... working in highly exploitable jobs at minimum wage or less than minimum wage and a person in Los Angeles working at minimum wage, it is well known, cannot even afford a one bedroom apartment. So, I would say that probably 30 percent of the population of homeless people in Los Angeles is made up of immigrants. They’re largely ineligible for government-funded social services. Many of them—I was dealing with a young man yesterday—he used to reside at homeless shelter that we operate. He’s unable to even get a bed to sleep in because he does not have a photo identification. So, there are any number of problems... the homeless and those tend to be doubled. Those tend to be doubled and tripled when it comes to immigrant members of the community who are homeless.
Michael Slate: Gary, let me ask you this. A number of years back, and maybe it was the first year that I started doing this show, there were all these nighttime raids being pulled on homeless people, especially on skid row. They were really vicious. As I interviewed people, they were telling me about being savagely beaten in the night, feeling a club coming down on their tent and then coming out and being clubbed down. It scared the hell out of them, basically. It was really meant to be this campaign of force and intimidation that you’ve referred to earlier in terms of thinking of this draconian law. It reminded me then of the kind of things I saw when I was in South Africa, when squatter camps were being broken up [by] the apartheid police force there. Is that sort of something... the direction where things are heading in now?
Gary Blasi: Well, they’ve been not only heading there, they’ve been there for some time. The really heavy militarization of police on skid row began in 2006, as a project of Mayor Villaraigosa, who promised police and services, and delivered police in huge quantities but no services. Raising South Africa makes it imperative that I mention one fact that’s been not very well portrayed in the media or discussed anywhere. In the two years between 2013 and 2015, the percentage of overall homeless people rose 12% percent, but for African-Americans, 35 percent. For whites, it went down 30 percent. It’s now the case that one out of every 22 African-American people in the city of Los Angeles is homeless. Compared to the rest of the population; that number is one out of 254. So, there’s an intense racial dynamic. I agree with Peter about the overlay of the oppression of the immigration system, but you can’t really walk down any street on skid row, and not be struck by how much of those look like parts of the third world, where it’s not only economic oppression but racial oppression.
Michael Slate: One of the things I was reading as I was preparing for this discussion, there was a point―and I can’t remember where I ran across it—but there was a point where the police started referring to the people who are approved for housing but none are available and they talked about the impact of gentrification. Then they turned around and they said, “Well, actually these people are 'service-resistant' people." What the hell does that mean?
Gary Blasi: That’s an invention of people who deliver bad services. If someone refuses a shelter or service that anyone, you or I, would accept, that’s pretty good indication that it’s a real thing, but many of the services have so many rules and so many practical problems for homeless people that [there] is actually a rational reason to stay on the street. I have only encountered one person in 35 years of working on this who persistently has refused actual housing. The rates of acceptance in lots of experiments... unfortunately at the level of the size of the experiments have shown that if you offer people actual housing, meaning even only just a room with a door with a key, 100 percent of them will take that. That was the county’s experience with their Project 50. So, “service-resistant” is a way of blaming the victim, which we do a lot of in this area.
Michael Slate: Now, Peter, one of the things I wanted to ask you: there was a 2007 court settlement... the city says it’s constructed enough housing to actually legally resume its campaign to drive the homeless from the streets. Apparently, back in 2007 they were told they couldn’t drive the homeless from the streets because they didn’t have the housing to put them in. Now they say that they do have it and so they’ll be able to resume their campaign. They’re well on their way to having it. Then that allows them to resume the campaign to actually carry out this intimidation and terror.
Peter Schey: Yeah, I think that that’s very misleading. I think that in 2014, the chief officer of Los Angeles estimated that something like $87-100 million was spent on homelessness in Los Angeles, but when you drill down on those numbers, it turns out that approximately nine out of 10 dollars went to law enforcement. So, it’s really going to the militarization of the problem rather than to solving the problem. What we increasingly see is a privatization of public space and the subsidization of new exclusive enclaves that are often called “urban villages”. These are driving more and more people, including mostly families of color—low income families, immigrant families―into homelessness. Numbers are increasing all of the time.
Options for these folks decreasing all of the time. The response of the City of Los Angeles is largely being a law enforcement response. Los Angeles has as a matter deliberate policy, has fewer public lavatories than any other major North American city. They have bulldozed most of the public toilets on skid row. The police, lobbied by downtown merchants and developers, have broken up as we know... they’ve broken up almost every attempt by the homeless and their allies, to create safe havens with self-governed encampments. We [inaudible] not that long ago where just as real [inaudible] homeless activists [inaudible] was roughly dispersed. So, that’s the problem that we face. It’s a problem with both the city council and a mayor’s office that are unwilling to deal with the problem by providing anything close to the amount of temporary housing that’s needed. Instead of pursuing this militarization approach, I think LA City and the County should enact and should implement a “right to shelter” mandate. That insures temporary emergency shelter to every man, woman, and child every night. This is a fundamental human right that has been ignored. The problem, obviously, is linked to the poverty and those issues have likewise, been ignored at a federal level, a county level and the city.
Michael Slate: Gary, we have about a minute left. You want to add anything to this?
Gary Blasi: Well, a couple of things. One, is the level of the city’s commitment to actually help homeless people works out to one penny per day per resident of the city of Los Angeles; that’s the level of commitment. Frankly, if you go to city council meetings other than some fantastic community organization like the Community Action Network, you don’t hear enough opposition from ordinary citizens. You see the lobbyists or the developers and the yuppies and the hipsters complaining about homeless people, but you don’t hear very much from the broader community of progressives ,and I hope that will change.
Michael Slate: Alright. Gary Blasi, thank you very much.
Gary Blasi: Thank you.
Michael Slate: OK, Peter Schey, thank you very much.
Peter Schey: Thank you very much for having me.
Michael Slate: Definitely. Talk to you guys again.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A quick quiz—and another sickening lesson why this system of in-justice is intolerable and has to be stopped—NOW. Watch again the video of the cold-blooded LAPD murder of a homeless man—Charly Keunang, or “Africa” to his friends—on LA’s Skid Row March 1 of this year. Now, guess who committed an assault so vile that it warranted a bail of over $1 million and a possible sentence of 25 years to life. Not the shooter; in fact, none of the gang of cops who tackled Africa and punched him over and over before they decided to shoot him five times while he lay on the ground, did anything “outside of police policy.”
It turns out, according to the frontline enforcers of this ugly, unjust system—the police and the prosecutor’s office—that the assault deserving of the heaviest hammer of the law was carried out by the small, 34-year-old woman who appeared to briefly pick up a police baton thrown down by a cop who was about to pull out his gun. The woman—Trishawn Cardessa Carey—was quickly grabbed and thrown to the ground, roughly handcuffed, and then forced to watch as the police murdered her partner Africa seconds later.
It is not out of the question that if she, or others, had actually been able to intervene in some way, with or without the baton, Africa would still be alive.
Instead, she was roughed up and dragged off. How she was treated after that can only be measured by the fact that she was taken to a prison hospital facility, and when she was arraigned days afterwards she came in with bruises and bandages on her face and head. In that hearing, bail was set at over $1 million!
Trishawn’s lawyer, Milton Grimes, in a report filed in an effort to have her released, described a long history of medical and mental health disorders, including being hospitalized several times for “acute episodes of psychosis.” (“A homeless woman hoisted an LAPD nightstick during the skid row shooting—and could get life on prison,” Los Angeles Times, July 23, 2015) Related to her mental illness, she has been arrested multiple times; and two of the convictions were for assault. That means she faces California’s “Three Strike Law,” which makes life in prison mandatory for a third felony conviction like this one—assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer.
Attorney Grimes explained her treatment this way: “I’ve seen the video, you’ve seen the video; she doesn’t go after anybody. Is possession of a baton an assault? No. The legal basis appears to me to be a distraction or cover-up of the killing of a man by the police.”
On July 23, after nearly four months in jail, Trishawn’s bail was lowered to $50,000. She was released from custody the next day, still facing charges that can put her in prison for life.
In every class society like this one—which rests on exploitation, inequality and poverty, ugly racist humiliation and oppression of Black, Latino, and other oppressed people, the patriarchal degradation of women, unjust wars and occupations, and more—the state’s ability to maintain this setup ultimately relies on its monopoly on the “legitimate” use of violence. At a time when that “legitimacy” is increasingly being called into question, the message of this ruling class, its enforcers, and the whole justice system has to be delivered in the clearest and bluntest fashion—don’t even think about questioning their “right” to rule, and to use wanton violence to maintain that.
For anyone with a genuine sense of justice, Trishawn Cardessa Carey did nothing wrong; and the state must not be allowed to punish her, while the cops who murdered Africa go free to kill again.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
A Fetus Is Not A Baby!
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Ten thousand brochures—A FETUS IS NOT A BABY—are being distributed in Mississippi, in the heart of the Bible Belt, by End Pornography and Patriarchy. This comes at a time when lies and distortions about abortion are at a fever pitch. (See "STOP the Lies and Attacks Against Planned Parenthood! Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!" by Sunsara Taylor.)
In the face of these attacks, it is vital to tell the scientific truth about abortion, not to recoil in the face of the lies. We need to take back the moral high ground and the political offensive. This brochure lays out the truth about what a fetus is and is not, gives some key information about the urgency of the current situation, and lays out what everybody who cares about women's lives and reproductive rights can (and should) do right now.
These brochures can be ordered from StopPatriarchy@gmail.com (please inquire about pricing). Everybody should get these out -- to basic neighborhoods and projects, to abortion clinics, to protests happening now against and for Planned Parenthood, to progressive church groups, to schools (including student orientations), to scientists (especially asking them to contribute financially to getting this distributed everywhere!), and to people all over.
ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY
FORCED MOTHERHOOD IS FEMALE ENSLAVEMENT
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
By A.S.K. | January 23, 2005 | Revolutionary Worker, now Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Christian fascist movement has been growing and
strengthening its base in society for decades—through
religious organizations, "think" tanks, school boards,
lobbying groups, "abstinence-only" programs, movies
like The Passion of the
Christ and other cultural works, and in
various other ways. And as became stark with the reelection of
George W. Bush, the Christian fascists are firmly entrenched in the
top levels of the ruling class and within the government itself.
They have a lot of initiative and are increasingly setting the
terms, and no other section of the ruling class is either willing
or able to pose a real challenge. Emboldened by Bush’s recent
victory and clutching a social program interwoven with
tradition’s chains, these forces have set their sights on
abortion: by restricting access and funding, building up
anti-abortion organizations, promoting unscientific notions that a
fetus is a "human being," and preparing to outlaw
abortion altogether through a Supreme Court decision to
overthrow Roe v. Wade.
The right of women to control their reproduction is essential to women’s liberation—this is why the Christian fascists see outlawing abortion and increasing control over women as an essential component and leading edge of their whole Dark Ages social program. And this is why everyone who doesn’t want to live in the nightmarish future envisioned by these Christian fascists has to jump into the political battle over abortion. In order to wage this battle, people need truth and scientific understanding.
The following presentation of the science behind abortion is a slightly edited version of an article that originally appeared in RW #897.
Is it true that a fetus is a form of life? Of course it is. It is made up of live cells, it is growing and processing energy, it has the capacity to mature and reproduce, it has a genetic system and so on.
Will an abortion destroy this form of life? Yes, absolutely.
Well then, isn’t an abortion killing another human being? No, absolutely not.
A fetus is not yet a human being. It is more like a seed or a sprout of a human being. It is "alive," but that is also true of all the other cells in a woman’s body. It has no life of its own yet. It is not yet a separate life from the life of the woman in whose uterus it is.
Just because something has the characteristics of "life" doesn’t mean people should necessarily preserve it. This is an obvious truth. Think about it: People routinely terminate "life" for what is seen as a greater good. We do this every time we eat—all the fruits, vegetables, and meats come from live plants and animals killed for our nourishment. People end "life" every time we cut a tree for firewood, every time we take antibiotics to kill off the live disease organisms which are making us sick, or even every time we kill other human beings in self-defense or to prevent them from causing other human beings to suffer and die.
In other words, we kill life to preserve and enrich other life . So what about the life of the woman?
The life of a woman who is forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy is endangered. She might have to resort to a risky back-alley abortion. And if she is forced to go on with the pregnancy, her life is weakened and degraded. She will be robbed of pride and self-respect because she has been told by society that she is essentially worthless—even an undeveloped bunch of cells that isn’t even a whole baby yet gets more respect and has more value than this woman! Because she is not allowed to control her own body, her own reproduction, not allowed to decide whether or not or when to become a mother, she has no more freedom than a slave.
If a woman doesn’t want to continue a pregnancy all the way (for whatever reason), she should have the freedom to end it, safely and easily. This is for the greater good—for the health and overall well-being of that woman, whose life we should value and cherish more than that of a partially formed fetus. And for the greater good of humanity. After all, isn’t it in the greater interests of all of humanity that women not be slaves?
The "right-to-life" people don’t see it that way at all. They have made it crystal clear that to them the life of the fetus is more important and has more value than the life of the woman in whose uterus it is. From a social point of view, these people who want to forcibly take away a woman’s right to abortion are nothing but vicious, rabid dogs.
But from a scientific point of view, they are also ignorant fools or calculating liars.
Have you seen the pictures they use? Check them out. These pictures are very often blown-up pictures of fetuses almost ready to be born (but the truth is that more than 90 percent of abortions in the U.S. are done in the first three months of pregnancy). These pictures are designed to make you feel like the fetuses women are aborting are just like cute little babies, ready to be held in someone’s arms and cuddled and burped. But they’re not! Far from it.
1. We are, in fact, made of "starstuff,’’ along with everything else on earth, living or not.
2. On earth, living things are typically made up of one or more living cells. And all forms of life on earth are related and are descendants of the first one-celled creatures to live on this planet.
3. All the different kinds of living creatures or organisms have in common:
4. Human beings have a lot in common with all the other life-forms on the planet. What makes us "different’’ is not really the things that prove we are "alive." After all, there’s a lot of "life" all around!
What makes us different, or "special," is that we have evolved to a higher degree than any other species— the ability to change the conditions of life through social means —by living and struggling in concert with other human beings during our entire lives. This— being part of human society rather than just being alive —is the essence of what makes us human beings.
And have you noticed how the fetuses are conveniently pictured floating around all by themselves, as if they weren’t still inside a woman’s body? Where is the woman in all this? Even in most school textbooks they show you drawings or photographs of a fetus inside a uterus, but they don’t show you the woman it is part of! It sort of makes you forget the woman is even there!
One of the things the Operation Rescue types are doing is taking advantage of the ignorance many people are kept in concerning their own bodies—what happens inside a body, how a pregnancy develops, and so on. Let’s have a look at what the truth is about how a fetus develops.
The truth is that pregnancy is a process which takes some time. And it is not some mysterious event guided by outside forces either. It is part of the normal processes of the woman’s body. Not the man’s, who has nothing to do with it except for providing the sperm. Not the church, not the government, not any other person. It all takes place inside the woman.
The egg changes and develops into a fetus, and keeps on changing for nine months, only because the woman’s physiology (the way her body works) is making these changes happen .
Let’s review what happens in the first trimester of a pregnancy (1 to 13 weeks since the woman’s last menstrual period):
It all starts with an egg cell and a sperm cell. Each egg cell and sperm cell is alive.
Over a period of about 30 years a woman releases one or more of these live egg cells from her ovaries every single month. That’s a lot of egg cells over a lifetime! Every time a man ejaculates, he releases between 200 and 400 MILLION LIVE SPERM CELLS! And that’s definitely a lot of live cells! Of course most of the time they just all die. Funny, isn’t it, that even though eggs and sperm are "life" too, the right-to-lifers aren’t trying to "save" every one of them!
If even just one of those sperm cells released in a woman’s vagina swims into the uterus and out into one or the other of the two Fallopian "tubes" (on each side of the uterus), and runs into a ripe egg cell, fertilization can take place. That means that the egg and sperm have fused and the result is called a fertilized egg.
The fertilized egg gets pushed down the tube. The egg started off as one cell, but soon divides into two cells, then four cells, and so on. By the time it gets back to the uterus (a muscular sack only about the size of a small pear) the egg is still much smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.
For the pregnancy to keep going, this tiny egg has to stick to the sides of the uterus. If it doesn’t stick (implant), it will simply be flushed out of the uterus with the menstrual blood during the woman’s next period. When this happens—a form of "spontaneous abortion"—the woman doesn’t know it, because the size of the fertilized egg is so tiny.
If the egg does stick to the woman’s uterus, this triggers hormonal changes which will keep the woman’s next period from coming on. The way pregnancy tests work is that they measure these hormones in the woman’s blood or urine to tell if she’s pregnant.
The implanted egg is now called an embryo, and its shape starts to change as the cells start to move around to different positions. The cells are beginning to "differentiate." That means they are starting to take on different functions and form different kinds of tissues which will later become different parts of the body. Instead of all being the same, some cells will become skin cells or heart cells or eye cells, for instance.
Three weeks into the pregnancy, the whole embryo is still only about 2mm (2 millimeters) long, or about the size of the letter "o."
The placenta gets formed from a combination of some of the tissues of the woman’s uterus and of the woman’s embryo. It is a mass of tissue rich in blood vessels, which connects the embryo to the woman’s blood circulation system. During the whole pregnancy the fetus will remain attached to the placenta through the umbilical cord .
The placenta helps show how the embryo or fetus is very much part of the woman’s body for the whole pregnancy. The embryo cannot get food on its own, clear out its own wastes, or even breathe on its own. It gets oxygen and dissolved food nutrients (and sometimes toxic substances) from the woman’s blood through the placenta and umbilical cord. It gets rid of its wastes the same way, releasing carbon dioxide and urea into the woman’s bloodstream for disposal.
Just as a single live cell cannot survive independently of a body, the embryo cannot survive independently of a woman’s body because it is truly part of her.
After four weeks of pregnancy the embryo looks a little like a tadpole. It even has gill slits like a fish, and a bony tail! These are features shared by embryos of many different species of animals and reflect our common evolutionary history. The embryo is now about 5mm long, smaller than this: ooo.
By the third month of pregnancy the embryo, now called a fetus, starts to look a little more "human" as it grows arms, legs, sex organs, fingers, and toes. It is undergoing a lot of changes, but inside, its internal organs, muscles, skeleton, and nervous system are still very undeveloped. The whole thing is still only about 25mm long, or about this long: oooooooooooooo
More than 90 percent of abortions done in the U.S. are done in these first three months of pregnancy.
This is the best time to do it. It is the easiest, safest, and cheapest time to do it. It does not need to be done in a hospital but can be done in a walk-in clinic. You don’t have to be put to sleep.
The way it is done is that a flexible tube the size of a straw is inserted up the vagina and into the uterus. This tube is connected to a bottle with a suction pump. When the pump is turned on, it acts like a small vacuum cleaner and sucks out the contents of the uterus. What comes out looks mainly like blood, since the embryo or fetus is still so small. The abortion is usually not very painful. The woman may feel "cramps" in her uterus similar to having an IUD put in. The whole thing lasts only about 5 to 15 minutes and then it’s over. The woman rests for a while, and then she can go home.
There is no doubt that if a woman is pregnant and doesn’t want to be, she should do everything possible to go to a clinic and get an abortion within the first three months since her last period. The sooner the better.1
This is a time when the fetus grows a lot. Starting around the fifth month, the woman is able to feel it kicking, even though it is still only about eight inches long. It may suck its thumb, simply because of a genetically programmed sucking reflex which facilitates nursing after birth. Its internal organs, bones, and muscles continue to develop. In the sixth month it grows rapidly, to around a foot in length.
But it is important to realize that it is still not "complete" and that a whole lot of development still has to go on. Even at the end of this trimester it cannot survive outside the woman’s uterus without special medical measures.Its brain is still very unformed. Its lungs are not ready to take in air. It is still very much a part of the woman’s body and completely dependent on her bodily processes.
Abortion in the second trimester can still be done. But it can be hard for a woman to find a doctor or hospital to do it. Because the uterus is softer and the fetus is bigger, there is a greater possibility of medical complications, such as a torn or "perforated" uterus or infections. It is important to get good medical care for these second- trimester abortions.
There are different ways of doing these later abortions. Sometimes a doctor will inject a saline solution into the woman’s uterus. This kills the fetus and makes the woman’s body go into labor, and the fetus is expelled like a live baby would be. Sometimes a doctor will give the injection and then leave the woman alone, or with just a nurse, to "deliver" the dead fetus. This is cruel and difficult for all concerned and it is totally unnecessary. There are other methods.
The best procedure for second trimester abortions involves a combination of dilation, curettage and evacuation (it’s called a D and E). The entrance to the uterus is stretched open (dilation), and the uterus is scraped with a metal loop (curettage) and emptied out (evacuation) by suction. This is a much better procedure: much safer, and less upsetting for the woman and medical staff than the "induction" abortions which cause the woman to go into labor. D and E abortions can be done from 12 to about 16 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Since abortion is so much easier (physically and emotionally), safer, and cheaper, in the first three months of pregnancy, why does any woman ever get one later than that? The answer is that sometimes errors are made with pregnancy tests, or a woman gets pregnant while taking pills, or with an IUD, and doesn’t realize she is pregnant right away. Sometimes she has to fight off the pressures of men or family members who object to the abortion out of their own backwardness. Sometimes she has to struggle through her own ignorance, fears, and lack of information before knowing what to do. Most often the delay is caused—and this is a real crime—by a lack of money. Increasingly, state laws that impose waiting periods and the lack of abortion facilities in rural areas will force more women to have abortions in the second trimester.
A high proportion of the women who are forced to get later abortions are young, poor, or women of color. This is another example of how women of color suffer a double oppression. And when laws are passed to force under-age women to get a parent’s permission before getting an abortion, more delays and more "late" abortions are certainly the cruel consequence.
While first-trimester abortions should be encouraged, and everything done to facilitate them, it is important to uphold the right of women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy at any time, and to provide women with the safest and the least physically and emotionally demanding abortions available at that time.
Abortions are rarely done in the third trimester except in emergencies to save the life of a woman. In such cases the doctor has to cut open the uterus and remove the fetus and placenta, and this would be considered major surgery.
The fetus still has a lot of development to undergo in these last three months of pregnancy. It grows a lot. But in the seventh month the fetus still only has a small chance of surviving if it is born prematurely because its internal organs are still not developed enough. In such cases doctors have to take special measures to try to finish incubating the fetus.
Final organ formation takes place in the eighth and ninth months. This is when the lungs finish developing. Until the lungs are finished the fetus would not be able to breathe air independently outside the uterus.
Also during this time lots of new brain cells are formed and major nerve tracks develop in the brain. In human beings a lot of the brain development continues to take place in the six months or so after birth . But by the end of the nine months of pregnancy the fetus is developed enough to be born and the woman’s body needs to expel the fetus before it gets too big to get past her pelvic bones! The woman’s body now goes into labor, contracting the muscles of the uterus, and finally pushing out the fully formed fetus.
As soon as the umbilical cord connecting the fetus to the woman’s body is cut, the supply of oxygen from the woman to the fetus is cut off and the newborn takes its first independent breath. This is its first act as an independent human being. It is now really a "baby." For the first time it is a truly separate life entity, and a separate social entity as well. From this moment it is really a separate human being, and should be treated as such.
A.S.K., the author of "Life Cannot and Should Not Always Be Preserved," is a contributing writer to the Revolutionary Worker with experience in the struggle for scientific experimentation as well as the revolutionary struggle.
1. Note from RW editors: The drug RU-486 is another method of abortion. Called the abortion pill, it causes the embryo to "unhook" and the menstrual period to start, flushing the embryo out of the uterus. It can only be used at the very beginning of a pregnancy. Anti-abortion forces are attacking this method, spreading misinformation and hysteria about its safety.
Another area that the right wingers have attacked is emergency contraception, or "Plan B," a pill that is taken within the first three days after sex. Plan B is not an abortion pill—it is basically a high dosage of ordinary birth control pills that works by either stopping the egg from fertilizing, delaying ovulation, or preventing a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in the uterus, depending on when the pill is taken in relation to the woman’s menstrual period and when the woman had sex. Right wingers have blocked women from being able to get this pill at pharmacies without a prescription so they can get access to it in time, and have spawned a movement of hospitals and pharmacies that refuse to offer the pill to rape victims, even though they are legally obligated to. [back]
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From the Streets of Jackson, Mississippi:
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Stop Patriarchy is in Jackson, Mississippi, July 31 - August 9 to Take Patriarchy by Storm and fight for abortion on demand and without apology. The following is an interview with Stop Patriarchy initiator and Revolution correspondent Sunsara Taylor, who is in Jackson.
Revolution: What are you and Stop Patriarchy doing in Mississippi right now?
Sunsara Taylor: Right now in Mississippi, we’re in beastly heat! But we’re down here because across the country there is an emergency facing women’s right to abortion—whether women will be able to determine for themselves when and whether to have a child. There is a war on abortion rights all across the country, but concentrated in the Deep South. And down here in Mississippi there is only one abortion clinic left in the entire state. Stop Patriarchy has organized people to come here from all around the country, to stand up for abortion on demand and without apology, and to set an example for people around the country that we have to change the whole terms in this battle around abortion.
It’s never been about babies. It has always been about whether women will be enslaved by forced motherhood, whether they will be forced to have babies against their will, or be full human beings. And a lot of this is concentrated in the Deep South. So we’re down here. And we’re going out to the neighborhoods and communities.
Revolution: Tell us a little about what you’re encountering as you go out in the community.
Sunsara Taylor: It’s just our second day here, so we’re just getting started, but we fanned out into a bunch of areas in Jackson. Jackson is a predominantly African-American city, with a high rate of poverty and a lot of pretty desperate conditions. We’ve been making a point of going into these communities of the most left behind, the most cast out, those with the least access to healthcare, to decent jobs. Places that are literally falling apart, porches collapsing—you know, Deep South poverty. But we’ve been talking about only one abortion clinic left, and women need this access to abortion.
Overwhelmingly we are encountering people deeply conflicted about abortion. Most of them, their initial response is that abortion is wrong. It’s a sin. The Bible Belt is thick here. But as we talk to people, it’s very interesting. Most people know women who have either needed an abortion or had one. One woman told us about a woman she knows who self-induced an abortion with a coat hanger. Another woman told us about having to bear six children, even though she was unable to raise them in conditions of deep poverty, because she was so deeply convinced abortion is wrong.
We took out the Fetuses Are Not Babies brochure, a beautiful brochure. We walked through it with one woman. She pointed to a picture in the brochure and her face kind of lit up, and she said, “That’s what the baby looks like at first?” The person talking with her said, no—that’s what the embryo looks like. Then she pointed to a picture and said, “So that’s a baby at 10 weeks?” Our volunteer said no, that’s a fetus. Finally, we asked, pointing at a picture of a fetus, is this murdering a baby? She wasn’t so sure. She didn’t change her mind but she asked to keep the brochure and read it again.
People don’t have any scientific understanding of what a fetus is, what the process of pregnancy is. They’ve been told their whole lives this is murder, this is a sin. We’re encountering a lot of thinking fostered by the church. But also there is a lot of receptivity.
Another thing that’s interesting, there are volunteers down here with the Revolution Club taking out Revolution newspaper. The people taking out Revolution newspaper, as soon as they take it out, people recognize Sandra Bland’s face on the cover. And I have to say they all know who she is, in the Black community here. There is a seething anger, a real eagerness to talk about that. One woman told us about her son who was shot—though not killed—by police, and went into what her son went through. She’s still fighting to get compensation for that. People followed Walter Scott, what happened in Texas, what happened to Mike Brown. So even as we’re out there mainly talking about abortion, we’re making connections between what this system is doing to oppressed people in different ways. Even though that’s not the main thing we’re doing here, I have to comment on it—it is so palpable.
The other thing is, the more we’ve been talking to people, in the neighborhood—one woman said she didn’t know what she thought about abortion. As we were going through the pamphlet she said, “I’ve been a victim of the school I went to.” She didn’t have strong feelings about abortion either way. People think about abortion and never think about women—trapped in abusive relationships, or being forced to drop out of school, or having their lives foreclosed—there’s more and more clarity over what women face. But the more we talk about women, and what women face overall—this comes together.
Revolution: The science and reality that a fetus is not a baby comes together with the experience of women’s oppression in changing how people are even seeing what the question is.
Sunsara Taylor: Right, there is the science, but also bringing out the lives women face. The more those connections are made, I think, the more people start to think about women’s access to abortion rights as something that affects women. Both the science of why fetuses are not babies, but also the more they know about the conditions of women, the more it shifts how they think about abortion.
Another very interesting thing: Almost nobody has any idea that there’s only one abortion clinic in this state—they don’t know it’s under attack, they don’t know that it’s part of a national crisis. There’s a very active community around the clinic that knows about this and is following it closely, but when you get out more broadly in the community, people don’t know. Rights are being taken away. Women are being hounded and harassed, and those most affected don’t even know these rights are being taken away.
Yesterday, we were doing a summation from first day out—and one woman reported she told a guy: “We’re here for abortion on demand and without apology.” He kept saying, “What? Why?” So she told him three times, and finally, he said, “Wait you’re here to support the clinic? I’ve never heard of anyone coming here to support the clinic.” Everyone has heard of people who are against abortion but this was all new.
Revolution: For people reading this who want to assist in this critical work, how can people help?
Sunsara Taylor: One is—take this “A Fetus Is Not a Baby”—this pamphlet which is available online—print or order copies from stoppatrirachy.org. Even if you print out copies on your own computer, read it yourself, and share with people. Especially now with these bullshit lies about Planned Parenthood traffics in baby parts—it’s really important that people learn themselves, understand what a fetus is, why it is not a baby, and why a woman must have right to decide whether to have a baby or have an abortion at any stage of pregnancy. You need to learn the science yourself and spread it. Make copies, share with your family, with your friends, with your church group, leave it at the laundromat.
The second thing is, this Friday night, August 7, tune in live at stoppatriarchy.org, 7 pm CDT. Bring friends together and watch it.
Third, go to stoppatriarchy.org and make a donation to fund this work.
Revolution: And of course people can get with and join Stop Patriarchy.
Sunsara Taylor: Yes, get directly involved in Stop Patriarchy. Hook up with a chapter in your area, or get in touch and we’ll help you start one.
Revolution: Anything else you want to share?
Sunsara Taylor: Yeah, last night we went into Hooters and disrupted it.
Sunsara Taylor: We’re here to stand up for abortion rights in the heart of this emergency but Stop Patriarchy takes on all enslavement and degradation of women, challenging patriarchy in lots of different ways. So on Saturday night people stormed into Hooters, with big signs “Women are NOT bitches, hos, punching bags, breeders, or sex objects―WOMEN ARE FULL HUMAN BEINGS!” and made a public service announcement that Hooters objectifies women. It wasn’t long before some very aggressive bouncers threw everybody out, but the point was made. It was a show stopper. People were in shock, they couldn’t believe it was happening. It was really uplifting.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
The Invented Planned Parenthood "Scandal":
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
In the form of a whipped-up but utterly non-reality-based "scandal" over three "gotcha" videos being pushed out by anti-abortion forces, a horrific and massive mind-fuck is in process. Anti-abortion forces are using this non-incident to paint the right of a woman to decide whether or not to bear a child as giving rise to "baby killing for profit."
The release of a highly edited, distorted video of parts of an exchange with a representative of Planned Parenthood is based on total bullshit. But it is a real and vicious attack on a woman's right to abortion.
This "expose" should never have been taken seriously by anyone as a legitimate "expose." But in the context of an all-sided and vicious attack on abortion in society today, this fascist madness has been taken up by fascists to call—in the case of presidential candidate Mike Huckabee—for the FBI and federal troops to violently shut down abortion providers.
But my main focus in this letter is in addressing how—at least as dangerously—this utterly fake "scandal" has set off a new round of concessions in the realm of morality, law, and policy by pro-choice forces who have a tremendous impact on public opinion, but are constrained in their thinking by the poisonous and utterly absurd assertion that abortion is a necessary evil that, as Hillary Clinton has proclaimed for a long time, should be "safe, legal and rare."
My thoughts on the liberal response to this scandal won't make sense without setting the stage and reviewing the situation with abortion rights. That situation has been addressed repeatedly in Revolution and elsewhere at revcom.us, but is disturbingly not part of the consciousness of far too many people: Over the past decade, and at an accelerating pace, access to abortion has been shut down by laws, court rulings, and fascist intimidation in vast swaths of the United States.
And then let me reiterate the basic reality that is being obscured by all sides in mainstream discourse over abortion: A woman DOES have a right to choose whether or not to bear a child and avail herself of any form of safe birth control including abortion. There's no ifs ands or buts about this. Forced motherhood is female enslavement. Fetuses are not human beings, but women are! There is no "gray area"—anymore than there was a "gray area" over the enslavement of Black people.
Planned Parenthood is the largest national organization that provides access to abortion, among other services for women. It receives funding from sponsors, and some limited government funding for some services, not including abortion. But as such, it is a target of attack for those Dark Ages forces in society who insist that women must be forced to bear children against their will.
These anti-abortion forces sometimes cover their asses with a veneer of "concern for women," but go to any of their rallies, listen to their hateful threats at abortion clinics, read their online rants, and they boil down to invoking the Bible, not to uphold the rights of "babies," but to uphold the subordination of women. In fact, these creatures from the Dark Ages never highlight what their Bible has to say about real living babies, including:
"O Babylon, you devastator,
Happy shall they be who pay you back
what you have done to us!
Happy shall be they who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!"
But for mass consumption, these forces aren't advertising their essential agenda of enslaving women and a "Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it" ideology that celebrates bashing in the heads of actual living babies.
For mass consumption, it's always some other bullshit. In the Planned Parenthood incident, some of these people presented themselves as representatives of a scientific research firm, the Center for Medical Progress. This is a real entity but not a real medical research firm. It was set up to fraudulently go after abortion providers. They met with representatives of Planned Parenthood claiming they needed tissue and cells from aborted fetuses for medical research.
Research on fetal tissue has led to, or is potentially leading to, critical medical breakthroughs in treating hepatitis, rubella, chickenpox, shingles, cancer, blindness, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, HIV, and diabetes! It was extremely restricted under Bush and continues to be far too restricted as a concession to Christian fascists.
The anti-abortionists posing as science researchers secretly recorded the meeting with Planned Parenthood. In that meeting, as a very peripheral part of a long discussion, there was some exchange over compensation for the fetal tissue.
Scandal! Someone somewhere actually might be making money in the process of making fetal tissue available for research! Please. One might ask when did these Christian fascists become opponents of capitalism? But this level of absurd hypocrisy and lies runs through everything they do—starting with portraying themselves as defenders of women and babies.
Significant responses from mainstream liberals, who uphold the right to abortion and defend using fetal tissue for scientific research, have been, in their own way, throwing a left sucker punch in all this.
A concentrated expression of this view, and how it is being forever moved into alignment with the basic paradigm of the anti-abortionists, is reflected (and promoted) in a major op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "The Case for Fetal-Cell Research" (July 30, 2015). The piece is an argument for the use of fetal cells in research, by a fetal cell researcher, Nathalia Holt, who has made contributions to scientific research using fetal cells and is the author of Cured: The People Who Defeated HIV. But Holt's piece portrays the use of fetal tissue in research as a traumatic and angst-filled moral tradeoff.
Holt writes: "It's understandable that politicians, angered by her [the Planned Parenthood participant in the meeting] callous tone, are now investigating how fetal tissue is handled and how research is conducted..."
Well, it is understandable why people, including many of the most prominent Republican candidates for president and many Christian fascists, are calling for this investigation but it has nothing to do with the "tone" of a Planned Parenthood representative in an edited and distorted video.
Come on! These forces have been trying to de-fund Planned Parenthood for decades because they want to force women to bear children against their will and they consider abortion "baby killing." Anyone who has followed the debates in the halls of power over abortion knows that. And should know better than to justify another round of attacks as being provoked in any way by what anyone said in the meeting from which this video was edited.
Holt writes that when a box of fetal cells arrived at the lab, "...uneasiness permeated the lab.... We rationalized using the cells by telling one another that the abortions would happen regardless of whether we used the tissue for research." And then, "Even with our preparations, justifications and the sheer excitement that accompanied our research, the fetal cells brought sadness."
Why? Holt writes, "[E]very time I worked with a fetal liver, I imagined that somewhere in California a woman had made the agonizing, heartbreaking decision to end her pregnancy."
One could write a book——no, make that an encyclopedia—responding to that utterly upside-down assertion by simply recounting endless stories of women who have a life because of abortion. And another encyclopedia could be filled with accounts of women dying from illegal abortions—before abortion was legal in the U.S., and today, when access to abortion is viciously and violently obstructed through laws and mobilized Christian fascists across America.
Right now, I encourage Nathalia Holt and everyone who has bought into or been disoriented by this bullshit to take time to watch this:
Friday, August 7, 7 pm CDT at StopPatriarchy.org: People's Hearing for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology Live from Mississippi.
And you can find first-hand stories of how abortion was liberating for women at End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women section at revcom.us, as well as stories about how lack of access to abortion has been heartbreaking and literally fatal. Start with the correspondence Black Women's Lives Matter! All Women's Lives Matter! Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!
I focused here on an op-ed piece in the Times because it articulates a very widespread view promoted by the liberals in the ruling class and embraced far too widely that, with every unprincipled, lying, vicious, theocrat-inspired attack on abortion, concedes moral high ground to these fascist nutcases, even while formally upholding the right to abortion on an ever-shrinking ground.
In this correspondence, I've alluded to but not been able to dive into analyzing the forces behind this video, and the wider phenomenon of a rising, virulent, violent, Christian fascist force in the United States. It's beyond the scope of what I'm trying to address here to speak to the nature and role of these forces, but I will note that banning abortion, and forcing women to bear children against their will, is an absolute dividing line for them. For background on this phenomenon, the danger it poses, and how to address it in a way that will actually lead to some real change instead of constantly "reaching across the aisle", I strongly recommend Bob Avakian's collection, "The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era."
In the most immediate sense, we need to appreciate, support—financially, spreading the word, taking on attacks against (from all corners), and joining in putting our bodies on the line with—the heroic people in Stop Patriarchy who have insisted on refusing to accept the paradigm of "safe, legal and rare" but instead have taken their defiant, unrepentant, and utterly moral position into the streets, porn shops, churches, housing projects, and, as I write this, into Mississippi: Abortion on demand, without apology!
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
July 26, 2015
For a number of years, after September 11, 2001, the American Psychological Association (APA) has been working with the Department of Defense (DOD) and the CIA to make sure that psychologists would participate in, advise, conduct research on, and provide medical/legal cover for the torture of detainees caught up in the "War on Terror," otherwise known as the War OF Terror conducted by the U.S. in the Middle East and around the world. Examples of such torture include: stress positions, sleep deprivation, sensory enhancement and deprivation, sexual humiliation, threats to the prisoners and their families, slamming against walls and beatings, and water boarding. This, from an organization whose credo is “do no harm.”
Since around 2005, there has been fierce opposition to these policies, which are not just unethical but constitute crimes against humanity and war crimes, by a small number of psychologists as well as by other medical professionals. This opposition was met with a combination of ignore-ance and slanderous attacks by APA top brass.
The APA leaders who collaborated in torture remained in their positions until just a few weeks ago. As of this writing, one APA officer (the ethics director!) has been fired, and several have resigned. Another top collaborator has resigned his position at a major university. There is lots more to come. Why now? In October 2014, James Risen published allegations of APA complicity in torture in his book Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. A CIA whistleblower provided Risen with emails which showed the extensive communication and collaboration with regard to torture between APA officers and the CIA and DOD. Public outcry after the book came out forced the APA to hire an attorney, David Hoffman, to conduct an independent investigation into all of this, and it is a damning report.
This newspaper has covered some of this sordid affair, which some have compared to the infamous Tuskegee experiments on Black males, who were left untreated for syphilis and studied while they suffered. (See, for example: Revolution #141, August 24, 2008, "Taking a Stand Against Torture at the American Psychological Association Convention," by Stan Lawrence.) Li Onesto has written extensively in these pages on the history of torture, and the role of terror more generally, by the U.S. since its inception. (See revcom.us/a/137/torture_part_1-en.html.) The role of psychiatry and psychology has been intertwined with torture at least since the Cold War period in the 1950s. The close connection between the APA and the military has a long history, and involves lots of money and influence. Another section of the APA, besides the military division, which has fully supported torture is the forensics division, which includes those psychologists who work in the prisons and courts (just think solitary confinement, an internationally recognized form of torture). It seems that, as far as organized divisions of the APA, only the psychoanalysis division has stepped up in opposition.
While most psychologists have said nothing, a group of APA members actually passed a referendum to prohibit psychologist involvement in torture settings. The outcome? The APA refused to implement the referendum. The APA also either refused to process formal ethics complaints, or spent years delaying and then exonerating individual psychologists who were proven to have participated in torture. For psychologist-torturers who either quit or were never in the APA, some initial actions have been taken against them at the level of state boards that control professional licensing, with again no further action or delayed exoneration.
It seems that “smoking emails” were the unpredicted event that finally brought some accountability to the APA leadership. But where will this go? What is the relationship between the medical and the legal aspects of this? Did John Yoo, Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the George W. Bush Department of Justice, need a psychological stamp of approval to render his infamous legal opinions with regard to torture? Will anyone be held accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity, either psychologists or lawyers, or, Obama forbid, members of the CIA and military, and the executive branch?
Looking at this from the widest perspective; I think it's important to understand that the state (the military, prisons, police, courts, etc... the instruments of repression that support and enforce the economic relations of any given society), under imperialism, is going to go about its business with or without legal cover or medical/psychological assistance and rationalizations. But in the U.S., where the mythology of “land of freedom and democracy” is still very important in legitimizing the violence it perpetrates all over the world, these professional/intellectual apologists serve a crucial function.
This scandal is still unfolding. The survivors of the initial actions at the top of the APA, and just about every state association of psychologists, are all saying what the “good Germans” said: “We didn't know, we're shocked, we will make sure we're ethical going forward....” No. This can't go that way. In a recent article by the Psychologists for Social Responsibility (July 13, 2015. psysr.org), they stated:
“The transformation we seek depends upon a much higher level of engagement from many more members of our profession. It requires participation from those who have stood on the sidelines, those who have closed their eyes to disturbing reports, and those who have considered it unseemly to discuss 'politics' among colleagues. As should now be clear to everyone, silence is also a political choice. In light of the evidence compiled by the Hoffman investigative team, psychologists have a duty to recognize and examine how decades of dependency on the military and intelligence agencies for employment, funding, and stature have influenced our entire profession, in ways that have never been adequately examined.”
And, I would add that there is a major ideological/moral component to the motivation of those who would torture other human beings for any reason whatsoever. I will end with this quote from Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:7:
“American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives.”
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This week some very significant resistance to Shell Oil’s move to drill in the Arctic went down in Portland, Oregon.
Turning back the Fennica in protest of Shell's arctic drilling, Portland.
All photos: Whitney Gardner
Beginning around 2 am on July 29, 13 Greenpeace activists suspended themselves in climbing gear from the St. Johns Bridge on the Willamette River to block Shell’s icebreaker the Fennica from leaving port. The climbers were supported by others on the bridge. (Shell is required to have the Fennica* present in the Chukchi sea in Alaska before it can drill into oil-bearing layers of the ocean floor.) They were joined by kayaktivists associated with Rising Tide Portland, Backbone campaign, 350.org, and others in the river below. The Fennica was slated to leave early morning July 29 but did not, very likely stopped by the protests. The next morning, as the Fennica tried to leave, it was forced to turn back when the climbers lowered themselves down further from the bridge to block its path. Cheers and celebrations broke out among the blockaders as well as crowds of supporters who had been growing on shore!
After the Fennica was turned back, multiple police agencies mobilized to prepare to suppress the protests. A Shell spokesperson tried to keep up Shell’s cover of being eco-friendly by saying Shell respected the rights of protesters, but that “The staging of protesters in Portland was not safe nor was it lawful.” Shell went to federal court and received backing from a federal judge who ruled Greenpeace was in violation of a federal injunction against them. The judge slapped Greenpeace with fines of $2,500 per hour for every hour the Fennica was delayed, with fines rising if the protest continued in coming days. The judge said Greenpeace would have to pay these fines directly to Shell, for its cost in delaying the Fennica!
The line that “you can make your point, but you must be lawful” was trumpeted via the mainstream media, backing up the moves by the state and Shell. In other words: If your protest actually gets in the way of our machinery of profit and destruction we will go after you hard.
All traffic was shut down on the bridge. Fire rescue teams rappelled down and cut lines that linked the climbers to each other and then forced three off their lines down to the water. The Fennica began moving out toward the bridge. A Coast Guard spokesman claimed, “Our mission is to make sure that people stay safe on the water.” But Coast Guard and police boats zoomed around to force kayaks away, and even ran over one kayak that attempted to block the Fennica. Other Coast Guardsmen jumped in the water to wrestle protesters into police boats. On the evening of the 29th, the Fennica moved through, despite 10 climbers still being present. Twenty people were reportedly arrested.
The protest raised the level of active resistance to Arctic drilling. The Fennica had been essentially delayed for around 36 hours. Support poured in from around the country. Mark Ruffalo, Cheryl Strayed, who wrote the book Wild, Thandie Newton, and others tweeted their support. The climbers tweeted from their perches and even did interviews. The hashtag “shellno” was trending on Twitter. People from all over the U.S. and beyond sent thank yous to the brave resisters who stood up for the Arctic and the planet.
The stakes of drilling in the Arctic are extremely high. From the viewpoint of scientific reality, Arctic drilling is madness. The Obama administration’s own Bureau of Ocean Management has predicted there is a 75 percent chance of a major oil spill in the Arctic over the 77-year drilling lease period. Such a spill would devastate life in the Chukchi’s pristine ecosystem that is so rich with life. A spill like this would be near impossible to clean up, meaning much of this ecosystem could be just wiped out. Ice in the Arctic is melting, eliminating habitat, destroying the Arctic ecosystem, and adding to the enormous threat of sea-level rise. Drilling flies in the face of a pathbreaking scientific study in Nature magazine which showed that exploiting the Arctic for oil and other forms of energy was inconsistent with keeping to a 2-degree Celsius world temperature rise, the supposed goal of all countries signing on to the Copenhagen climate accord. And 2 degrees is clearly too high, as massive and frightening transformations of the world and threats to species are already underway with only the 1-degree C rise that has already occurred.
Despite all of this clear and compelling evidence, the Obama administration has pushed for and green-lighted Shell to go forward. Shell’s success in finding Arctic oil is seen by the U.S. as not just aiding Shell, but aiding the opening up of the Arctic to domination by U.S. capital for its predicted large supplies of oil and gas, and for being part of increasing a U.S. presence in this region that all the imperialist and regional powers see as a “strategic prize.” (See revcom.us/a/387/why-is-the-u-s-opening-the-arctic-to-drilling-en.html.) The administration’s granting of permits to Shell has gone forward despite the prediction that Shell’s drilling will harass thousands of marine mammals that live and migrate through the Chukchi.
Many activists couched this protest as a way to allow or pressure Obama to do the right thing, reverse course, and deny the final drilling permit Shell needs. Annie Leonard, Greenpeace spokesperson, for instance said the protest gave Obama the time to “stand up and be the real climate leader he keeps saying he wants to be.” Let’s not mince words. This viewpoint is complete illusion and denial of reality, misunderstanding both the role Obama has played and what interests he really represents. Obama is couching himself and the U.S. as climate leader to protect the rule of the very system that is the main destroyer of the world’s environment, historically and today.
Let’s just look at how this issue of drilling and these protests have been handled by the authorities.
This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems.
Obama helps Shell through the “fractious federal bureaucracy” (as the New York Times put it) to get its leases approved. All the key permits are allowed by the administration despite previous oil spills and despite Shell’s proven record of disaster in its 2012 Arctic mission. Permits are granted right as Obama’s own scientific body has announced that 2015 has smashed records for world temperature in all of human history. The police work with the Coast Guard to suppress the protests in the name of upholding the law and keeping business as usual going. A federal judge sides with Shell to slap an injunction on Greenpeace. The media backs all this in the name of “following the law” (which is destroying our planet). And Obama doesn’t say peep about any of this. The only people defended and rewarded by this society are the destroyers of the environment, and the only people suppressed, attacked, and arrested are those who care enough about the Arctic and the world to stand up in its defense. This whole damn system is responsible and guilty to the core. This important struggle must go forward from here to finally prevent drilling in the Arctic.
* Shell is now assembling drilling rigs and support ships in the Chukchi Sea in preparation for drilling exploratory wells in one of the last relatively pristine marine habitats. All that remained for Shell to be allowed to drill into oil-bearing layers was to position the Fennica, Shell's icebreaker that was carrying the “capping stack” to be used in the event of an oil spill, and then receive a final drilling permit which looks like a foregone conclusion.
The Fennica ripped open its hull on rocks in Alaska earlier in June and was forced to return from Alaska to a Portland, Oregon dry dock for repairs. So environmental activists jumped on the arrival of the Fennica to try to keep it in Portland and delay Shell’s ability to start oil drilling. Activists knew that Shell has only a short window this summer to carry out drilling before sea ice in the Chukchi begins reforming sometime in the fall, so any delays can potentially prevent them from going far this year.[back]
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From the Michael Slate Show
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Refaat Alareer: and Laila El-Haddad, editors of Gaza Unsilenced, were interviewed on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica radio. Alareer is also the editor (and contributor) of the short story collection Gaza Writes Back. This is a rush transcript of the interview.
Order online at justworldbooks.com/gaza-unsilenced
Michael Slate: When I read the book, I’m sitting there thinking, it’s such a powerful book, but then you step back and think about what were the origins of it. Why this book in this form right now?
Laila El-Haddad: I think part of it is—I’ll speak on both of our behalfs—we were driven by a sense of responsibility. We felt obligated as Palestinians from Gaza, but just generally as people of conscience, to be able to document what happened and what’s become a cycle that continues—what’s become a cycle that continues to happen, or which continues to be done to Gaza, in a format that does justice both to the victims and those who continue to suffer. And for me it’s this ongoing process, being able to narrate the Palestinian story and to provide a space for people to―on their own also—use their voices to be able to share what’s happening and give them agency in a sense. And that’s not to say that the book is exclusively contributions of Palestinians from Gaza, but you get the picture.
And it was also a collective in a sense. There were all these incredible contributions and analysis and voices during that time, more than in any previous assault. And I think we wanted to be able to harness that and put it all in one space for people to read in a cohesive manner, to make sense of what it is that was done to Gaza, and to try to be able to read this in a way that you could say, “Oh, it didn’t just happen in response to whatever, or it wasn’t because of the rocket attacks.” You’ve got to paint a picture that’s a bit more comprehensive. So there’s a lot of different elements involved. But we thought it was just something that needed to be done.
Michael Slate: Now you both had some deeply personal reasons for doing this as well. Refaat, what about you?
Refaat Alareer: We’re living the third anniversary of the Intifada, and today is the first anniversary of the death of my brother Mohammad, about whom I wrote two pieces in the book, and who was one of the reasons why I was involved in this book. A year ago, the Gaza Strip was bombarded and shelled almost every second. Bullets were pouring. Shells were raining. People couldn’t find any place safe. Even their own houses were not safe for people, because Israel decided to flex some muscles and to teach those innocent people staying at their home a lesson. People also hear about the Shujai’iya massacre, where in less than five hours, Israel killed more than 150 people and injured 2-300 people. My own brother Mohammad was at that time at home, and Israel was—I mentioned this in my article, that Israel ordered everybody to leave, no matter who you are or where you are in Shujai’iya, you had to leave your house and there was no reason why you would stay behind, whether you were disabled, whether you couldn’t leave, whether you just decided to stay at home and be in the peace and comfort of your own house. So Israel was kind of treating mobile signals and just striking houses because they emitted a mobile signal.
The loss of my brother is one of the most difficult things that ever happened to us, to the family. We are a huge family, and again, that doesn’t mean losing one family member was easy. So in the book I wanted to give a voice and a face to my brother, as well as to the 2,500 people Israel murdered [in the assault on Gaza]. And also, if you go through the book and see the variety of articles about attacking the economy, the infrastructure, the mosques, and almost every aspect of life. So we’re trying to give voices to the humans Israel murdered and the people who were made disabled and homeless by Israel. And we’re also giving voices to the universities, the hospitals themselves, to speak of the Israeli atrocities against everything in Gaza.
Michael Slate: One of the things that was really interesting in what you described. I want to know what you can tell people about Gaza today. Describe Gaza. Describe for people how it can be what it is. There’s a chapter in your book that’s called, “Destitute by Design: Making Gaza Unlivable.” That’s referring to the Zionist approach, their scheme for Gaza. Can you talk about that a little?
Refaat Alareer: In so many ways, Gaza is a very beautiful place: Good weather, good food, good people, good everything. It’s a place where if we just take care of it, if we just don’t have an occupation, would be one of the best cities on the Mediterranean. So when we speak about the crisis in the Gaza Strip, we can’t speak about this without Israeli occupation, which by the way did not cause the destruction and slow death to Gaza only eight years ago when they imposed the siege on Gaza. The crisis started the first moment Israel occupied Gaza and decided to besiege the people of Gaza and decided to allow particular people in and particular people out, and even imports and exports. So we’re living here about 50 years of slow death of Israel strangling the people, smothering every aspect of our lives. Now in the first intifada and the second intifada, the siege was tightened. And it became horrible in 2006 when the Palestinians elected Hamas to represent them.
The situation after the war is a lot worse. Because we’re speaking here about a medieval siege were very, very few people are allowed out, and you can’t even come back to Gaza. You can’t export; you can’t import; you can’t buy books; you can’t have building materials. When I speak about this, I speak about the tens of thousands of houses that Israel destroyed last summer. The problem is a lot more horrible. We still have many people homeless. Some of them are still living in new, UN-run schools. Some of them are still living in caravans, exposed to the heat, to the cold, exposed to everything out there.
Michael Slate: Laila, would you have anything to add?
Laila El-Haddad: What we meant by that phrase, “Destitute by Design,” is that there’s been this ongoing process by which Israel has explicitly aimed to destroy Gaza’s productive sector, and specifically, since the imposition of sanctions following the election of Hamas, and even before that, the disengagement from Gaza, which happened before the elections in 2005, the disengagement in which Israel dismantled the settlements and the military structure within Gaza, but then retained control over Gaza and its sovereignty from the outside. Since that process, Israel has very deliberately aimed to make Gaza destitute, to impoverish its people and to destroy the productive sector and self-sufficiency in general. The way that it’s accomplished that is by preventing the import of things like construction materials, cement, fertilizers, parts for water sanitation or filtration, all components and things you’d need to rebuild, or just generally build, factories, schools and things like this, companies or whatever. The list changes on a continuous basis. It’s also a near-complete ban on the export of items, where before, Palestinians, especially farmers in the agricultural sector, a very important part of the Palestinian economy, would export their tomatoes and cucumbers and fish and so forth to the West Bank, to Jordan; strawberries, flowers and other items to Europe even, furniture and so on and so forth. When you look at the types of things that are banned from import and from export, and of course a very major thing that’s prevented from entering and exiting is people. We think just in terms of goods, but there’s a near-total ban on the movement of students to be able to travel from Gaza to study in the West Bank and Birzeit and in other universities in Jerusalem and Israel. It was revealed sometime I think in 2009, there was a leak and one of these government officials actually revealed that the goal of the blockade is what’s known as no development, in other words, targeting to debilitate the productive sectors, preventing any chance at prosperity, but at the same time not making things so bad that it would create an all-out humanitarian media outcry. So the objective isn’t just to starve everyone or to kill everyone. No, it’s actually much more sinister. I spoke to the director of the UN field operations in 2007, and he said, no one in Gaza is starving, but everybody is hungry. And he said they shouldn’t be. But it’s very deliberate. So the things that are allowed in, the calories are calculated to determine exactly how much everyone eats. So it’s sufficient, but it’s never enough, ever. And beyond food, that’s what the blockade is about, right? People don’t have food? No, there’s food, but they’ve made everyone sort of dependent on the aid and on the handouts and so forth, that that’s become the primary concern and nobody can move beyond that. Nobody can pursue higher education freely, or move freely or be able to rebuild or prosper, all these types of things that would move them beyond complete destitution, to be able to be self-sufficient and prosperous.
So that’s what that chapter is about. It’s tracing and talking about this history through the different assaults, through cast lead and pillars of cloud and through last year’s assault as well. When you look at the so-called targets, beyond families that were massacred and eviscerated, the institutions and the buildings and the farms and the dairies and the chicken pens. Why destroy these things? Because you want to be able to send a message to say, look, we’re not just going to keep you penned into Gaza, and we’re not going to just show you that at any moment we can kill you if we want, but we’re also going to destroy the things that help you live, that make you, you. It’s a pattern that you see repeating itself.
Michael Slate: As you’re talking, I can’t help but think, there’s a genocidal aspect to this. People will look at all the things you’re saying and say, well they’re attacking Gaza because Hamas is in power. They’re attacking Gaza because this happened and that happened. But there actually seems to be a much more planned out, mapped out thing that has a whole genocidal edge to it. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that. The historian Ilan Pappé has spent a lot of time trying to analyze the genocidal roots of a lot of the assaults on the Palestinian people today. Can you talk about that a little in connection to this?
Laila El-Haddad: For me, when people ask, well, why, I say it’s because they refuse to be silent. They refuse to go along with this master plan and be puppets. And the moment that they aberrate from this plan, and no longer are willing collaborators, or willing participants in their own imprisonment, that’s when Israel says, OK, it’s time to punish you and put you back in your place. Don’t you dare think that you can resist or say or do anything that is against us. And this plan that I’m talking about is a continual one of dispossessing the Palestinians of their rights, of their freedoms, of their land, while retaining control over them. So it’s maximizing control over the land, with as little Palestinians as possible. That’s accomplished, of course, through various methods, be it disengagement, be it direct or indirect transfer, bantustanning the Palestinians, creating the separation barrier and annexing as much land as possible.
Refaat Alareer: When we speak about genocide in Gaza or in Palestine in general, we usually have Zionist trolls saying, no, no, no, genocide means killing all the people and you’re still alive, and the population of the Gaza Strip in particular is increasing. This is a joke because it’s distracting from what’s going on in reality. If genocide means the killing of all people, then there has never been a genocide, because we still have Jews, we still have Armenians, we still have Bosnians, etc. But there is a systematic, and there has been a systematic method, as Laila said, an Israeli method of impoverishing Palestinians, of keeping them starved but not dead. But if you look at again the geography, the politics, life and reality on the ground, it is genocide, because Palestine is shrinking, the West Bank is shrinking. We have more and more Jewish settlers coming to the West Bank, occupying Palestinian houses, destroying Palestinian houses, uprooting Palestinian trees. I know people in the Gaza Strip who had to plant their farms, their trees at least five to seven times in the past 20 years, because Israel would uproot their orange trees, olive trees. Can you imagine yourself spending 20 years caring for your trees and then having to just plant them again and again every couple of years. And if we speak of the economy here, we are being strangled; we are being exterminated in so many ways. You don’t have to be alive to be dead. It’s like the walking dead. When you can’t travel, it’s your death. When you can’t go to pursue your education, your business, when you can’t travel for fun. That’s a kind of metaphorical death we’re speaking about here. And again, I always like to emphasize that this didn’t start with Hamas coming to power because even before Hamas, Israel was occupying Palestine, and killing Palestinians and harassing us, because again, they blame Yasser Arafat, and then they blame the PLO and they blame the Palestinian fighters, and then they blame the Arab fighters. So Israel would always create an enemy, would make somebody an enemy so that they continue their crimes and their occupation.
Michael Slate: It’ interesting because in the introduction to the book you both point out this idea of the great Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, famously saying of Gaza that it equals the history of an entire homeland. That seems to be what you’re pointing to.
Laila El-Haddad: Yeah. Absolutely. To understand the Palestinian condition, the Palestinian story, look to Gaza. And I say that because frequently people are like, oh, Gaza’s always in the news, or what’s the big deal with Gaza, or why always the focus on Gaza? And it’s not to say there aren’t other horrific crimes being perpetrated against Palestinians elsewhere, in the diaspora, in Lebanon where I am now, in the West Bank or elsewhere within historic Palestine. But I think it’s sort of the grossest manifestation of those crimes. You see in Gaza and the policies that these kinds of sinister and systematic policies, ethnocidal policies. You see those in Gaza and then you can understand by extension the rest of the Palestinian story and how they play out vis-à-vis Palestinians elsewhere.
Michael Slate: One of the things that comes up a lot is this thing about the truth of Operation Protective Edge. Just the name is hard to say. The truth of that and how severe this was. There’s a point in the book that talks about how the firepower used in this assault on Gaza was the equivalent of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It’s just mind-boggling to think of this, and I wanted to ask you about that. In order to carry that out, there does have to be a certain amount of dehumanization of the Palestinian people.
Refaat Alareer: Yeah. Protective Edge, or Destructive Edge, if you can’t say the word “Protective,” came after a long process of an Israeli campaign of misinformation and demonization of the whole Palestinian people and the people of the Gaza Strip in particular. The Israelis were ready. The Israelis were well prepared politically, media and everywhere. One of the polls showed more than 90 percent of Israelis supporting the massacres in the Gaza Strip. So the amount of weapons used, shells and bombs and missiles, and the size and the type of weapons used in the Gaza Strip against unarmed Palestinians, defenseless people, and the fact that the majority of those killed and injured were unarmed civilians and mostly in their own homes. The fact that we have 552 kids by Israel in 51 days shows that Israel has been preparing for this and shows that Israel again is giving a kind of example: This is how we treat people who don’t abide by the occupation law. This is how we do to people who want to resist. This is how we do to people who don’t just want to stay on their knees all the time. And at the same time, I don’t know why, but this usually reminds me of the videos of ISIS we see. ISIS is using people as propaganda to market their sick ideologies and to recruit people. And Israel is doing the same. Israel used the attack on Gaza to promote their weapons and their drones and their Iron Dome to people in India and America—even in the Arab world maybe—and at the same time to promote their ideology, to attract those people who come to Israel from Australia, America, Canada or Europe, to join the Israeli Army, like showing them that, yes, we have men who shoot without being held accountable. You can come and be part of this killing campaign. There’s a strong similarity here between ISIS and Israel using defenseless unarmed people as part of their propaganda and marketing strategies.
Michael Slate: There’s the constant accusations that the Palestinians are using children as human shields, and it flows right from what you’re saying about the whole idea of all this going on and the Zionists are using it to justify their assault on the Palestinian people and this idea of presenting this very sick stuff like, really, they’re putting the children up so they can get sympathy and they’re using them as human shields and then they’re shooting at us and that’s why we have to be so brutal.
Refaat Alareer: Like you said, this came after a long process of Israel demonizing the Palestinians, depicting them as people who love death, who want to die, people who don’t care about their own lives. When you do this, for decades and decades, no matter what you say about those people, your supporters and your trolls are going to believe it, and they’re going to push this in our faces every time you’re being accused of committing crimes. If you want to commit a crime, the easiest thing is again to blame the victim. What are the accusations? Hamas is using tunnels. Hamas is using civilian houses. Palestinians are using their own kids as human shields.
The human shield thing is also part of the book because we know it’s a very crucial issue to attack. There has been no shred of evidence that Palestinians use their own kids or their own people as human shields. Western journalists—there were hundreds of journalists in the Gaza Strip. Not one of them reported a child or family being used as a human shield. And it’s not about those journalists seeing or not seeing. As Palestinians we refuse to be used by anybody as human shields. It’s not that we are mindless stupid people that can be controlled by Hamas or by Fatah or by anybody.
The fact from the ground again is that Israel has used Palestinians and has been using Palestinians as human shields. There is evidence from the Gaza Strip during that attack of Israel using Palestinian houses, Palestinian schools, Palestinian infrastructure, using Palestinians in Gaza as human shields to attack Palestinians and kill more. So it’s a kind of defense mechanism. But at the same time, it’s Israel trying to avoid the accusation that it kills and targets civilians, and at the same time trying to put us on the defensive so that we don’t accuse Israel of using Palestinians as human shields. And there’s two things I want to refer people to. Number one, there’s an article by Max Blumenthal, in which he speaks about how Israel is using its own civilians as human shields. The other thing is the testimonies and reports by the Israeli organization Breaking the Silence, of how the soldiers themselves were saying that we were killing Palestinians at random, we were killing Palestinians for fun, we were targeting houses just for the fun of it. These are again clear-cut evidence that Israel wanted to kill as many people as possible, and then they would say, Palestinians are using their kids as human shields.
Michael Slate: We’ve talked about the role of dehumanizing the Palestinian people in Gaza and in Palestine as a whole and how essential that is to what they’re able to do in terms of even the Zionists launching their all-out attacks, their military strategy that involves basically rolling over everyone and everything that is Palestinian, and particularly the people. But in order to get over with this, internationally, and also just to perpetrate this across the country, there has to be, and they’ve taken up, this whole campaign of dehumanizing.
You’ve mentioned it a couple of times, but I want people to know—what does it mean to say they’re “dehumanizing?” How do they do that? What does it mean? What does it look like?
Refaat Alareer: To be dehumanized is to be deprived of everything that makes your life decent or worth living. To be dehumanized is to not be allowed to live as a human being. But also to be dehumanized is to be attacked every time, to be isolated every time. I’m talking about maybe 11 years. To be described as a tourist every time, to be described as savages. When you analyze the discourse used by some Israeli politicians and some Israeli Jewish rabbis, you will be stunned how the superiority, the Israeli superiority, in terms of language and discourse, which is again, by the way, very similar to the Nazi propaganda—the chosen people. So that’s one: The Israelis are the best. They have the best army, the most moral army in the world. The Israelis are civilized. They are chosen by god. And on the other hand, Palestinians are savages. They are horrible. They’re terrorists. If they’re not killing Israelis and butchering them, they are trying or planning to do so. So that’s why an Israeli saying is “A good Arab is someone who has been dead for 40 years.” And this dehumanization, it started a long, long time before the occupation and the colonization of Palestine, when they claimed that it’s a land without a people. This is the very essence of the dehumanization. So we’re not there. And we were there. Palestinians were living in Mandate Palestine at that time. But erasing this people gives them the chance to mobilize for their goals. And when they came to Palestine, they invaded from Europe, and Russia and everywhere to Palestine, it was like, “Oops! There are people here. What should we do?” And then Plan B is, “Let’s dehumanize those people. Let’s describe them as savages, as terrorists. Let’s show the world that we are the victims. And they are the victimizers. When you follow, for example, Fox News, or some pro-Israel Zionist from Europe, or people who just in general justify the crimes and the massacres against Palestinians in Gaza, in Jerusalem, in the West Bank, Hebron and so many other places—when you see those people justifying their crimes, you realize how horrible the dehumanization is. Because when Palestinians were being butchered, when 2,500 people were killed, some people were still cheering for Israel—“Kill, kill, kill!”—were wanting for Israel to kill even more people, to destroy more. This insanity is the result of a systematic dehumanization that started probably 100 years ago. This craziness—sometimes when I am alone with myself, I say, “Oh my god! How could this be justified?” It’s very easy. You just dehumanize people. And sadly, this is something that the Nazis did to the Jewish and other people they hated during the Nazi era.
Michael Slate: The justification for what happened throughout the modern history of Palestine, especially in terms of the Zionists coming onto the scene and the imperialists of all sorts pushing to actually set that Zionist state up as a way of getting a firm foothold and an ally in the Middle East—I want people to understand that this isn’t just talk. What was the toll of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last year?
Refaat Alareer: We’re speaking here about 2,500 people murdered in 51 days. We’re speaking about more than 5,000 people injured, and at least half of them are disabled for life. We’re speaking about 500 kids murdered. We’re speaking about 1,000 kids disabled for life. We’re speaking about 350 kids orphaned. We’re speaking about tens of schools destroyed by Israel. We’re speaking about the infrastructure almost destroyed in so many areas, in border areas in Gaza. We’re speaking about whole neighborhoods that were targeted at random, but in a systematic way, where for example, people who live near the border got their houses destroyed and bulldozed for no apparent reason. Maybe people will get some kind of understanding when they read Breaking the Silence, testimonies about how the Israeli Army acted in the Gaza Strip. Operation Protective Edge sent Gaza Strip—they wanted to send us to the Dark Ages. Indeed, they destroyed the only power plant we have in Gaza. After the war we’re still suffering from electricity shortages. Nowadays we only have it for four to five hours a day, which is really hard. In Protective Edge we speak about Israel displacing tens of thousands of people, and destroying 10,000 to 12,000 houses, totally destroying them, rendering homeless tens of thousands of people. Again, we speak about the hospitals and the clinics. There was a report of an Israeli soldier saying that one of our commanders—occupying, invading commanders—was killed when the resistance attacked the invading Israeli soldiers and then two days later, we decided to destroy a clinic, just because we wanted to destroy a clinic because we wanted to take revenge in memory of our commander. Please, I want you to read these testimonies, and invite others to read these testimonies, because some people think, no, this is Palestinian propaganda. It’s like Palestinians are demonizing Israel. But these are about a hundred Israeli soldiers who spoke anonymously to this famous Israeli organization about the crimes they committed. And believe me, we have so many people in the West, in America, who read these reports and were like, shocked because nobody can do this. When you shell a house, because it’s orange. It’s unfathomable how dehumanized we were to them. There were two women who were killed because they “walked in a way that resembled terrorists.” I don’t know what that means. Are all Palestinians walking in a way that resembles the way terrorists walk? And how do terrorists walk? It’s outrageous. It’s crazy. But that’s what’s going on. And these are Israeli soldiers speaking about the crimes they were committing in the Gaza Strip.
On the other hand, we have the Palestinian resistance, who stood up to the Israeli invasion, who stood fighting back, resisting, like all free people would resist an invading power. The Palestinian resistance refused so many times—and there is evidence of this—to engage with Israeli settlers or Israeli civilians, to attack them, and they always said, and they declared this so many times, that our war is with the invading soldiers, the people who are attacking us. When you look at the numbers, we have about 75 Israelis killed during the attack. Seventy of them were soldiers who were killed inside the Gaza Strip. They were invading. They were military targets.
Michael Slate: One of the chapters in the book is called, “The Pen, the Keyboard and the F-16, creative resistance in the digital age.” I wanted to talk to you about that. One, I know you teach literature and writing, but also the chapter brings out something that was really exciting about the methods and forms that the Palestinian people developed to speak out and to actually wage the struggle on a different front, and on a front that is brand new to the times. One of those things was the use of social media, which just was a mind-blower, to see what happened to that. And then the art. Could you speak first to the use of social media and the difference that it made in getting the truth out.
Refaat Alareer: During the war, I was in Malaysia doing my PhD. I had Internet 24/7, and I spent almost 20 hours every day on Twitter. Because as a Palestinian, I strongly believe in the power of social media to help us convey the message and keep people up to date with what’s going on. It’s not only that Palestinians are using social media. It’s that people around the world came to social media to get in touch with Palestinians and to break all the barriers of official media. In the book we mentioned how, I think it was CNN that aired footage of a Palestinian house destroyed and a Palestinian woman trying to salvage something from the house, and saying this is an Israeli woman after an attack by the Palestinian resistance. Because people realized, so many of them realized that they’re being fooled, they’re being blinded by official media, by mainstream media, they decided to get directly in touch and to speak to Palestinians on Twitter and Facebook. So, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr and YouTube. They were all used in an amazing way by Palestinians. I was all the time on Twitter. People spent hours and hours and days on Facebook, sharing pictures, sharing videos, sharing news, sharing stories, humanizing the Palestinians, giving them voices and faces. When Palestinians did this, we weren’t only about numbers and news and Israel killed this and that and that number and this number.
There was an amazing group of artists who used the smoke of the Israeli bombs and they turned them into art.
Michael Slate: I was going to ask you about that smoke art photography.
Refaat Alareer: That was like seeing this life art. It’s a way of life. That’s the beauty of not only the Palestinian struggle but also all struggles, all oppressed people under occupation or colonization. They come to challenge these accusations, challenge the acts of dehumanization and show the world that we love life, we want life, we want a decent life, we insist on life. This is a fight for, yes, independence, but it’s also a fight to lead a better life, a fight so coming generations can live a better life than the one we are living. So, the art, the people who were recording videos, people who were writing poetry, writing fiction, doing whatever they could so they can expose Israeli criminality and show how Palestinians deserve, and must have, the ability to determine their own life and future.
Michael Slate: Photography has always been a very important part of any war coverage, but when it actually came out and it was put into the hands of how many thousands or tens of thousands of people who took photos and could get them up and out. And those photos began to appear in newspapers and in books and in whatever—television or whatever—and without the sort of editorial cutting of the photo to shape it a different way, but to really bring out the true story with a very powerful and very broad and wide sweep to it.
Refaat Alareer: We have so many amazing photographers in the Gaza Strip, and they are courageous. Those people are among the most courageous people I have seen. They would go out to expose Israel, they jeopardize their own lives, put their own lives in danger. I mentioned the toll of Protective Edge. Eighteen journalists were killed by Israel. Can you imagine, 18 journalists, people who are clearly marked as media or as print or as journalists. But again Israel chose to attack those people because Israel knows what it means for the truth to get out, and what it means for Palestinians to speak out.
Those journalists in general and those photographers in particular, they are very courageous. The pictures that were getting out, by the second, hundreds and thousands of pictures because we understand that a picture is more powerful than a thousand words, and how these pictures were used later on by artists who gave them a universal touch, and how these pictures were used by journalists and by writers. There’s a very famous story of a little kid being taken by a medic, and the kid didn’t want to let go of the medic, and he kind of clutched to the medic’s neck. A friend of mine, Belal Dabour, his article was featured in the book, The Human Toll. The boy who clung to the medic, a boy whose house was destroyed, almost all of the family members were killed. He had nobody to hold to except that medic. And that particular story was probably the most widely spread story on the Electronic Intifada. That’s because of the power of the story, but it tells us something very important. It tells us that people wanted to know the story behind the pictures. So the top story in 2014, on the Electronic Intifada was this particular story by a friend of mine, Belal Dabour, who is also a physician, who was live-tweeting, writing and reporting from Al-Shifa Hospital.
So the pictures, the art, the variety of what Palestinians were doing, the videos and the articles and the pieces and the poetry. Everything shows our pursuit of truth and justice. We want to achieve this by all means effective.
Michael Slate: The effects of the siege and the blockade today, beyond 2014, what’s the effect today?
Refaat Alareer: The effect is that your life is kept on hold. The effect is that you lose a lot on life chances. In 2005, when Israel was still in Gaza, I wanted to go to do my MA in London, and Israel sends me back. I lost one year of my life waiting for a chance to travel. When Israel left, I did my MA. In 2010, I got the very prestigious Fulbright scholarship to do my PhD in America. Imagine what that would do for me individually, professionally, and the impact of spending two or three years in America and coming back to Gaza.
But again, Israel did not allow me to travel. I was not allowed and I lost this chance of having a PhD from a university in the United States. After the war, I came back to Gaza to spend time with my wife and kids and my family after what they have been through, and I’m stuck. I came here last September and I’m stuck. I have been trying to leave the Gaza Strip to just go and finish my PhD.
That’s only on the individual level. You lose years and years, and with this time, sometimes you lose hope, you lose faith. It’s again a process of pushing Palestinians to despair. And the same thing applies to [those who] want to build houses, universities who want to bring books, students who want to bring books. It’s unimaginable. Usually when I give and answer to this question, I say that you have to live in Gaza or Palestine for 30 years to realize how hideous this occupation is and this siege is. When you can’t buy the stuff you want to buy, when you can’t go and marry the person you want to marry. I know people who want to go to the West Bank. As Palestinians in Gaza, 99 percent of us cannot go to Jerusalem, cannot go to pray in Jerusalem, cannot go to the West Bank, cannot go and study at a Palestinian university on the other side of the wall or the border.
Living that is horrible. And having to live with that is also horrible. Having to go on in life and you know that you can’t do this, you can’t do that. You can’t do so many things, all because you have the wrong genes, only because you’re not Jewish, only because you’re Palestinian.
Michael Slate: Is the military repression still going on? Is there actually rebuilding of the neighborhoods that were demolished?
Refaat Alareer: After the ceasefire that came after 51 days of bombing, it’s been like 11 months now, or 10 months. Israel has violated the ceasefire at least 500 times. Almost on a daily basis, Israel shoots at farmers, shoots at fishermen, rolls into border areas in the Gaza Strip. Some people tracked about 500 Israeli violations. How sad that we don’t read about this in the news. At least two people were killed by Israeli fire. At least 20 people were injured by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip. So, it’s a truce, where Palestinians—it’s like somebody was saying, when it is a ceasefire, Palestinians cease and Israelis fire.
The siege, like I said, continues. The slow death continues, because not one single house was built. Our family house and six flats were destroyed and we haven’t been able to build one flat because Israel does not allow building materials. Even houses that were partially damaged, most of them were not fixed, because you don’t have the money, and you don’t have the building materials to do so if you have the money. So the situation is for so many, me included, a lot worse than it was during the war, because nobody is paying attention. Nobody is paying attention. There was a report by Oxfam saying if it continues like this, Gaza is going to need at least 100 years to be built again, and that is just outrageous.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From A World To Win News Service
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
27 July 2015. A World to Win News Service. Following are excerpts from an article that appeared in Issue No. 72 of Haghighat, organ of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist).
There is no doubt that the nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran is an important event in the history of imperialist diplomacy. Both sides called it “diplomatic victory” because they achieved their foreign policy aims through negotiations and without war. But this “diplomacy” has its bloody, violent history in the region.
It has been made possible through more than a decade of wars of aggression by the USA and its Western allies in the Middle East, the breakdown of civil society in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, and the U.S.’s expansion into new areas, with new wars and horrible massacres, some carried out with the participation of the Islamic Republic of Iran [IRI]. The results include the displacement of millions of people, the destruction of ecosystems and local economies, the emergence of Islamic warlords, the rise in human trafficking and literally countless crimes.
This diplomatic deal has become possible because of economic sanctions for which the Iranian people paid the price, not the political and financial centres of the Islamic Republic of Iran that have become rich and richer because of them. Of course, this deal cannot and does not seek to end these horrors. It is just a new chapter in the crimes by the imperialist powers and the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region.
In fact, U.S. imperialism has relinquished its goal of bringing about “regime change” in Iran by war and has moved Iran from its list of “enemies” to its “competitor” list. Obama likened this change of approach to Nixon’s 1972 visit to China and Reagan’s negotiations with the Soviet Union in 1986. The Islamic Republic of Iran has taken a step back in its international and internal campaign against the U.S. and therefore has abandoned one of the pillars of its ideological identity. The regime’s long-term goal with this shift is to become a regional power with the support of the U.S. and other big powers. U.S. imperialism is trying to bring relative order to the chaos in the Middle East, and it is hoping that IRI will help them out.
All these negotiations and the nuclear agreement, and, in general, the new chapter in relations between the Islamic Republic and the imperialist powers, particularly the U.S., are in response to a set of contradictions and necessities faced by the IRI leaders and the servants of the system. But just because it is born of necessities does not mean it will necessarily succeed. The possibility of its collapse is already perceptible. The whole process of reaching an agreement could come to a dead end under pressure from opposition in the U.S. and Israel and Saudi Arabia. With this introduction, we can examine the necessities that have pushed both sides, in particular Iran, to adopt this policy.
First: Under the IRI, Iran’s capitalist economy has stalled, creating a huge number of unemployed youth, a massive population of temporary workers and a shrinking of the middle class. Economic sanctions have only intensified this situation, which is the IRI’s most dangerous domestic political problem. The emergence of this huge population of unemployed, educated youth and the entrance of women into economic, social and educational areas has generated a great energy that the IRI can’t control. The regime has reacted to these dangers and contradictions with the bloody suppression of the lower strata of society. This can be seen in the high rate of executions of poor youth, the suppression of intellectuals and women and the spread of fear among the middle classes. But no state can govern and keep a society under its rule just by ideological brainwashing and suppression.
Therefore, the IRI needs to resolve this contradiction. Since the functioning of Iran’s economic system depends on world capitalism, the regime’s only solution is the injection of more international capital into the economy. In fact, the purpose of the economic sanctions by the imperialist powers, which dominate the global economy and its institutions, was to bring the IRI to its knees in the political arena.
Second: The composition of the capitalist class has changed in Iran as a result of the growth of capitalist relations, even compared to 20 years ago. It has developed different layers and powerful economic centres with various circuits of production and global relations. As Iran becomes more integrated into global capitalism, different layers of the Iranian bourgeoisie have formed whose orbit of capital accumulation lies not just within Iran but also has an international dimension.
In addition to power centres such as Sepah Pasdaran (the Revolutionary Guards), various ministries, elites and various regime foundations, others have become powerful through their international relations and partnerships with Iranian investors in North America and Europe. All of them exercise political influence at various levels by different means and benefit from a kind of political rent that allows them to become bigger. But obtaining rent is not enough for this type of Iranian bourgeoisie to develop and compete in the global market. They are seeking to become “normal” investors and connect to the global market legally and openly. A very important part of their interests depends on the nuclear deal and the lifting of financial, oil and banking sanctions.
Currently the foreign and neo-liberal economic policies of President Rouhani and his state technocrats represent the common interests of different layers of big investors. Part of the big capitalists (and the technocrats dependent on them) don’t like the theocratic regime ruling Iran, but this doesn’t mean they are against Iran’s leader, Ali Khamenei, or Sepah and the IRI’s other security and military forces. They worry about serious demography changes in Iranian society and are aware of the need to apply a “moderate” version of Sharia law, particularly in the case of women and youth.
Because the conditions produced by the neo-liberal globalized economy increase the centrifugal forces that cause social disintegrations, they consider Sharia and Islamisation necessary for the social stability needed for the profitable operations of capitalism and the creation of an obedient labour force. They also need the “leader” for unifying the government/state and the regime’s different wings. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif referred constantly to the leader and carefully observed the rituals of Ramadan during his team’s stay in Vienna. This was not only to appease the anger and complaints of “fundamentalist” forces about the negotiations with the “Great Satan” and what they considered the abandonment of one of the IRI’s ideological pillars. It is also because Zarif and the rest actually deeply believe in the regime’s values, norms and ideology.
Third: The insecurity in the troubled Middle East was another necessity that convinced the IRI’s different wings that to build a “secure region”, it is essential to establish official relations and cooperation with the imperialist U.S. Rouhani expressed this concern when he spoke to the UN General Assembly after the presidential elections in Iran.
In today’s conditions, when U.S. imperialist hegemony has declined and no other big power is ready to replace it in protecting the global order, the IRI has to accept U.S. leadership in providing regional security. The Islamic Republic of Iran does not feel threatened by Daesh (also known as ISIS) alone. Because other countries in the region like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt don’t obey the U.S., and the Iranian regime cannot confront them alone, it has to rely on the U.S. The IRI not only wants the U.S. to stay in the Middle East, it also believes that its regional security is dependent on the U.S.’s ability to impose some order amidst the increasing chaos.
The regime’s strategic allies in the region, like Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Shia forces in Iraq, are under pressure and face dangers. The increasing number of casualties among the Quds Force (a special forces unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations), Hezbollah and other IRI supporters, and the emergence of Daesh and other Salafist forces threaten Iran’s position as well. In this situation, the IRI urgently needs to find a solution, even if that solution means uniting openly with “Great Satan.”
Will the IRI be able to meet its internal and external security needs with this solution?
The Iranian regime faces three important international obstacles on the road to the normalization of relations with the West.
First, an important part of the U.S. ruling class, including a majority of Republicans, refuses to officially recognize the Islamic Republic of Iran and continues to see it as a serious anti-U.S. force. Israel is closely allied with the Republicans in opposing the deal and considers the existence of the IRI disruptive to its security. It refers to the tens of thousands of missiles that Iran has given the Syrian army, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Second, some Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia see Iran as their enemy and a threat to their security. They argue that Iran’s military, political and propaganda activities in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen are against their interests. Currently U.S. military companies are arming Israel and Saudi Arabia to increase their defences against any Iranian threat. The White House promised Saudi Arabia that it would strengthen its capabilities and put pressure on Iran to not create chaos in the region (i.e., Iran’s aid to Hezbollah, [Syria’s] Bashar al-Assad, the Iraqi government and the Houthis [in Yemen].
Third, Iran has been too close to Russia, from the U.S. perspective. In fact, until late into Ahmadinejad’s presidency, the IRI termed itself part of an “Axis of Resistance”—including Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Venezuela—against the U.S. interests in the Middle East and other parts of the world. So, the U.S. considers it important to break the link between Iran and Russia.
Obama will probably succeed in overcoming the Israeli and Saudi “lobby” and American legislators’ efforts to sabotage this deal. Then he will pressure Iran to become an “acceptable” and “honourable” member of the Middle Eastern security structure under U.S. hegemony, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and even Israel. Undoubtedly, in this process there will be increased conflicts inside the IRI ruling class. Competition with other imperialist powers, like China, Russia and Europe, will intensify as they seek to expand their own influence in the Middle East and Iran. In any case, the wars in the Middle East—wars in which the IRI’s armed forces have played an important role—will expand.
No doubt the release of Iran’s foreign currency reserves and the lifting of economic sanctions will bring some prosperity in foreign trade (import and export) and infrastructure projects, the strengthening of the stock market and even the re-establishment of foreign auto factories and oil drilling companies, but in general Iran’s economy will not produce much job creation. The IRI has to spend a large part of its oil revenues on expanding its military power, because the region will become even more militarized. Since insecurity in the region will continue, foreign capital will flow to Iran but investments will tend to be temporary and concentrated in financial fields and sectors of short-term profitability. Future economic development will probably provide few jobs for the vast majority of unemployed young people, leaving the misery of marginal existence and slums unchanged. The greatest potential force for economic development is the millions of young and old labouring people in society. With or without sanctions, the functioning of the economic system under the IRI has wasted this potential. The lifting of sanctions will not change the logic of the economic system; rather, its working will be even more brutal.
Maintaining coherence and internal unity is one of the most serious challenges that Iran’s ruling class will confront. The greatest contradictions and conflicts within the government flow from this issue—how to maintain the unity of their elite and the regime’s legitimacy and internal stability, rather than the deal in and of itself. Even though the regime tries to convince its internal supporters that it is not establishing official relations with the U.S. from a position of weakness, and that the deal meets the regime’s interests in confronting Daesh and Saudi Arabia, various internal and external contradictions could make the deal’s benefits very short-lived. The IRI could find itself stuck in the quagmire of Middle Eastern wars, facing a legitimacy crisis, despair and depression among its supporters and Hezbollah, and increasing conflicts within the ruling class itself.
The project of “regime change” in Iran that President George W. Bush followed was put aside when Obama became president, but military attack stayed “on the table” as an option. This change in the policy was related to imperialism’s situation in the world. In 2013, Zbigniew Brzezinski, a leading Democratic Party foreign policy theoretician over the last decades, warned that the U.S. could no longer be world’s policeman and that no other power could take its place. He analysed that the U.S.’s loss of power will negatively affect all world powers and its most likely outcome would not be an event like the rise of China, but a long period of chaos and a race for forging unities among world and regional powers. “Most probable would be a protected phase of rather inconclusive and somewhat chaotic realignments of both global and regional power, with no grand winners and many more losers.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski, Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power, Basic Books, 2013)
Brzezinski mentioned several factors in the decline of U.S. global power: economic problems, political problems and a wrong foreign policy in starting unnecessary and costly wars in Iraq. He added that the crisis became more noticeable with “the emergence of a volatile phenomenon: the worldwide political awakening of populations until recently politically passive or repressed.” In this context, he and other colleagues suggested to Obama that the state stop trying to bring “regime change” to Iran and instead open Iran’s doors through diplomacy. The situation that Brzezinski explained at that time has become more serious. A Democratic senator described the U.S. situation in Iraq with these words: “If 100,000 U.S. soldiers in a ten-year period were not able to train an army that wouldn’t escape in the face of Daesh, what do we expect of a few thousand? We don’t have any effective force aside from our Kurdish allies.” (Brookings Debate, “The question at hand: Should the U.S. put boots on the ground to fight ISIS,” 24 June 2015)
According to a U.S. foreign policy expert writing about a nuclear deal with Iran, “Even here, the real questions are not those about regional proliferation which has dominated discussion of this matter to date, but about the civil and proxy wars currently roiling the Middle East, and the likely role of the United States in the region after a nuclear accord with Iran. It is those issues that are likely to determine whether a nuclear deal with Iran leads to greater stability or greater instability in the Middle East, and thus whether it ultimately benefits or undermines American national security.” (Kenneth M. Pollack, “Regional implications of a nuclear agreement with Iran,” Brookings Institute, 9 July 2015)
In an interview with Thomas Friedman, Obama expressed amazement at the “positive role” played by Russia in the nuclear talks. (New York Times, 5 April 2015). But in fact that is not surprising because Russia and other world powers also have to deal with the increasing chaos in the Middle East and need the establishment of relative order. The leap in global chaos has taken Russia by surprise, and in this context, its weakness as a big imperialist power has become more clear. Especially, its strategic plan to establish alliances with European powers fell apart during the war in Ukraine. In analysing Russia’s situation, the author of Russia and the Shifting Global Order writes: “We have seen a decline not just of the United States, in relative terms, but I would argue a decline of all the great powers, with the partial exception of China. Their capacity to lead is much diminished, and even the weakest of states has an unprecedented freedom of manoeuvre.... People talk about the end of leadership, or the decline of U.S. leadership, but in a sense the problem is a broader one. We’re seeing the end of followership; no one wants to obey, no one wants to follow, everyone wants to do their own thing... Now we tend to think naturally that this means the end of Western liberal universalism. But it also has strong implications for Russia.” (Bono Lo, Russia and the Shifting Global Order, Chatham House, 8 July 2015)
This is the situation for the world’s powers. Despite serious competition between these exploiters of the world’s seven billion human beings, and under conditions in which no power can supplant the U.S. as a global cop, all the powers have given this place again to the U.S. The fact that the world’s superpower is now looking for an ally in the Islamic Republic of Iran to create a new security structure in the Middle East shows how deeply the international capitalist-imperialist system is in crisis.
The world powers look at the nuclear deal as a step toward establishing a new order in the globe’s stormiest region. But where there is a will, there is not always a way. George W. Bush’s map of a “Greater Middle East” drowned in the bloody quagmire produced by U.S. wars in the Middle East, and now from this quagmire, Daesh types and proxy wars have emerged. The “Obama doctrine” will expand this quagmire—it will be the same situation even if there are new players. This is the big picture framing the main aims of the nuclear deal.
Iran’s theocratic regime is under attack from all sides. Those powers that are going to help this regime are themselves crisis-ridden and their ranks are in chaos. This comprehensive crisis of the enemies is an opportunity for the oppressed to make a revolution. Overthrowing the Islamic Republic of Iran and replacing it with a qualitatively different state and society is not only necessary but also possible. We should launch a movement for revolution among the workers and the unemployed in the country, including Afghans, Kurds, Turks, Persians, Baluchs, Arabs and Turkmen. We should fight united under the flag of proletarian internationalism to emancipate not only people in Iran but also the proletariat and the peoples of the Middle East and all humanity from the system of capitalist exploitation and oppression.
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 #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
At Friendship Park in Tijuana, visitors to the beach as well as forum participants carefully studied captions on the combination Stolen Lives and Ayotzinapa 43 posters. Above, a forum participant from the Cucupá tribe’s struggle for traditional fishing rights.
Holding up the combination poster at the border wall, which is painted with slogans and other protest artwork all along its length. Above, graffiti reads: A la mierda las fronteras (Fuck borders) and Esto es una gran herida para la humanidad (This is an immense wound for humanity).
Getting into Lo BAsico at Friendship Park. In the background, the U.S. flag painted upside down on the border fence.
Conference staff helped set up and watch over a literature table next to the queue for tacos.
We left before sunrise from LA, and crossed the border into Mexico several hours later. We were headed to Friendship Park for the morning cultural event of the Foro Social Mundial Binacional Tijuana (World Social Forum (WSF) Bi-national Tijuana). Friendship Park sits in the actual shadow of the border, marked by the 20-ft.-high double fence that stretches eastward for 1,000 miles and more, symbolizing and enforcing U.S. imperialism’s relationship with Mexico and the rest of the world. The fence is covered by bright paintings and slogans that denounce the suffering it causes and celebrate the international friendship of people in the face of that. Right here, every night, people separated by the border gather to call out to loved ones on “el otro lado,” the other side.
Tijuana is a city of over 1.4 million, on Mexico’s west coast, defined by its proximity to the U.S. Border Patrol agents from ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) have shot across the border into the colonias (neighborhoods), killing children with impunity. The U.S. military and its many naval bases in San Diego County have, for decades, used Tijuana as its whorehouse. Some of the earliest maquiladoras (factories in Mexico run by foreign companies) were set up here with slave-long hours, starvation wages, and lack of safety and environmental protections. The sex traffickers, maquiladoras, smugglers, and drug cartels all exploit the huge population of migrants from the Mexican interior and Central America who are stuck in limbo in Tijuana. Tijuana is also home to growing professional and middle classes, many human rights organizations, and several universities.
The one-day Foro in Tijuana was part of a simultaneous multicity four-day conference. In Philadelphia, San Jose, Houston, and Jackson, Mississippi, gatherings organized by the US Social Forum would be linked by video conference with Tijuana and Montreal. Social movement activists from across North America were gathering in response to a call issued at the World Social Forum’s 2015 Tunis Conference on Climate, Water and Earth to make plans for a “world-wide week of coordinated actions against capitalism October 17-25, 2015.” (See “Report on promoting Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism at the Tunis World Social Forum,” May 4, 2015.)
A couple days earlier, hearing that this Foro Social Mundial would be just a few hours away, volunteers from Revolution Books/Libros Revolucíon Los Angeles had made hasty preparations to cross the international border and register for the conference. We were eager to get key works of BA’s new synthesis in Spanish into LOTS of hands—Revolución newspapers and eSubs, El comuismo; El comienza de una nueva etapa; Un manifiesto del PCR, EU (Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage; A Manifesto from the RCP, USA);and Lo BAsico (BAsics);the Constitution para la nueva republica socialista en America del Norte (Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America); BA’s ¡A romper TODAS las cadenas! (Break ALL the Chains!);the polemic “¿Comunismo or Nacionalismo?” (by the Revolutionary Communist Organization in Mexico, OCR); and the DVD of BA’s talk Revolution with a Spanish audio. Even though only one of the two of us was fluent in Spanish, we were confident that the posters, newspapers, and books themselves would help us project that this was about making an actual revolution; and that in turn would draw people forward to help get the books out at the conference and across Mexico.
On the drive to the border, we talked over our orientation and plans. What would we find among activists taking part in the current political upheaval in Mexico? There had been defiant and widespread resistance to state-sponsored murder on both sides of the border, including the disappearance of the 43 Ayotzinapa students, attacks against people’s community defense forces in Mexico’s southern states, and other challenges among other outrages. Was this being sustained? Had it fallen off or gotten co-opted? What was the Mexican people’s sense of the legitimacy of their government? Did they have revolution on their minds? Would there be an atmosphere of snark, or anti-communism? Had people heard of BA and the new synthesis?
From the minute we arrived, we were greeted warmly, including by one of the main conference organizers. We started right away, getting out the Stolen Lives poster and Revolucíon (the issue with “Murder and Brutality by Police is Unjust, Immoral, and Illegitimate” on the front cover and “Take Patriarchy by Storm” on the back cover). The first person we met was a Puerto Rican US Social Forum activist who had seen the Stolen Lives poster as she was protesting “We Can’t Breathe” in the streets of New York last fall. She and an activist from Tijuana’s LGBT movement helped get up the Stolen Lives posters, and to make them extra secure from the stiff ocean breeze. Seeing the Stolen Lives poster alongside a poster showing the faces of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students, someone who said he was one of the organizers objected. He said that we were welcome to talk about “our issue,” but that Ayotzinapa was a Mexican issue. Several people (the gay activist, joined by some human right activists) took this on, saying, in effect, “the same imperialism hurts both countries. And this shows that people here and there are standing up saying this must STOP now.” In the face of their animated response, he just walked away, and we never again had any challenge to what we were doing at the Foro.
We spread out literature of BA’s new synthesis on a bright-patterned cloth on the ground close to the stage. A steady stream of people came up to see the poster and get books. Not only were people friendly and interested, most were enthusiastic, and some were ecstatic to encounter the literature representing a movement for actual revolution. Soon, all across the plaza people were reading the newspaper, as various musicians sang about injustice, love, and resistance.
There was a lot of interest in the Stolen Lives poster. A few people recognized the poster from news coverage of Ferguson, Baltimore, and other protests, and were eager to get one for themselves and more for their friends. Many more, seeing it for the first time, expressed deep feelings for the people of Ferguson and Baltimore, and said how moved they had been by their defiant resistance, comparing that to their resistance to widespread government “disappearances” of activists, including the Ayotzinapa students. They were curious about what we had to say about what it would take to stop all of this, and how that related to BA’s new synthesis. Others were more generally curious about our political trend, and what this “beginning of a new stage of communism” was all about.
Taking a look at Lo BAsico (left) and the Manifesto (right).
At the entrance to the morning event, the World Social Forum banner, to the left a banner from the Otomí people of Xochicuautla resisting a highway which will destroy their lands, and below that, the Stolen Lives/Ayotzinapa combination poster.
Among the most eager to get EVERYTHING at the book table were young indigenous farm workers fresh from the major strike against international agribusiness, 200 miles to the south in San Quintin. (See “‘We Are Workers, Not Slaves!’ Farmworkers in Baja California Stand Up!”). They wanted to know about the Party, and were particularly insistent on getting the Constitution para la nueva republica socialista en America del Norte. (There was so much interest that we sold out within minutes, with people still standing in line for it, while we looked in vain for more copies.) Although most from San Quintin who got books were young men, there was a significant contingent of young women, some of whom had made statements during the morning’s presentations. As one of us recalled later, “Their eyes shone with focused and serious attention” as they listened to our brief rap about communism, scooped up books and the Revolution DVD to take back to their communities.
A group of young lesbians greeted the newspaper with glee. They loved the Stop Patriarchy poster on the back of the newspaper (“Women are not bitches, hos, incubators, punching bags, sex objects or breeders, They are Full Human Beings”).They marveled that a communist newspaper would feature something like that. We said that is something new—it represents the outlook of BA’s new synthesis of the best of the first attempts by the oppressed at creating a new society, what has been learned from their shortcomings and mistakes, as well as recent developments in the world. Everyone from that cohort got a copy of the newspaper and a Stop Patriarchy poster, and some also got copies of Lo BAsico, the Manifiesto, and BA’s compendium on the emancipation of women and communist revolution, ¡A romper TODAS las cadenas! We learned that they were some of the organizers of the Tijuana “Marcha de las Putas” (Slut Walk) that we had heard about on social media. They came to the conference, in part, to find others who have an in-your-face stance, and to find others who want to go up in the face of everything that preaches complacency in the face of outrage and suffering. They invited the bookstore and/or Stop Patriarchy to participate in their July film festival in Tijuana.
Some of the activists had participated in other World or US Social Forums, but for most it was their first time at this kind of event. In addition to those already mentioned, we met radical-minded activists who have formed small cohorts all over Mexico; members of indigenous groups including Yaqui, Guarijío, Triqui, Otomí, Cucupá, and Kumiai peoples fighting for water and land use rights; professional human rights advocates; activists with migrants’ and women’s shelters; and professors, students, and activists fighting fracking and on other environmental fronts.
In this environment, our literature and book display became the magnet for those with serious questions, including about the possibility of revolution, especially for those who had come to the conference with, or representing, a cohort or organization that was fighting the power and looking for a way forward. In many cases, they would share the expense of a whole set of the literature, with one person getting the Manifiesto, another the OCR polemic, or Lo BAsico, and so on. The most frequently asked question was where else could they find this literature? We pointed to the page in the newspaper that said “revcom.us.” Many people circled the spot to find it later.
By noon, well over half of the crowd had gotten the current issue of Revolucíon, and there were over two dozen new eSubs. Most of the books we brought were already in people’s hands and we would have only a handful of books left for the afternoon’s workshops, where activists from the morning event would be joined by another several dozen students and a similar number of professionals who work with human rights groups and NGOs. Before the workshops began, a couple of the conference’s student volunteers helped us find a long bench for our display, and put it right in the workshop venue, inches away from where people would queue up for lunch. Then, after themselves signing up for eSubs, the new volunteers helped call people over to the book “table,” and distributed a stack of Lo BAsico palm cards.
The workshops were based on WSF’s key topics: Migration; Gender and Diversity; Labor and Wages; Water and Soil; and Macro-projects and Environment, with 90 minutes to discuss the topic and come up with recommendations, including plans for the week of actions in the fall. This format gave a platform to those working within various social service agencies, who mainly described the abuses they were fighting, outlined the program of their group or agency, and left many people frustrated and disappointed at those limitations.
At the workshop on Gender and Diversity, almost everyone focused on the rising tide of violence against LGBT, especially transgender people, as well as against women. Some questioned whether there really was any solution to social issues like these, and argued that the only option for LGBT people was to rely on themselves and allies to create what amount to “safe spaces.” Others argued the flip side, calling mainly for better documentation of abuses that could make the case to political leaders and get better laws enacted, that any high-visibility, bold actions would alienate political allies. When it was one comrade’s “turn” to speak, she gave props to the different ways people were fighting these attacks, but challenged people to look more deeply at WHERE this all comes from—patriarchal relations that are enmeshed in and essential to the functioning of capitalism-imperialism. If they did that, they would come to see that the only way to really STOP this abuse and suffering, the only way to get rid of relations of masters and slaves, is by making a revolution that demolishes this system and its enforcers, and creates whole different economic and social relations. Without THAT kind of revolution, even the most determined fighters will be waging the same battles over and over. She gave Ferguson and Baltimore as examples of the possibility of creating new conditions through struggle, that “fight the power, and transform, the people for revolution” is a far more “real” strategy. One of the conference student volunteers took a stab at translating all of this, but the workshop convener brushed her aside and proceeded to characterize what we had said as offering solidarity and inspiration from north of the border(!) During this bad “translation,” several of the lesbian activists moved their new Manifiestos and Lo BAsicos to where they could be seen by everyone at the table. What did THAT represent?
The discussion, though, got steered back to going around the table for recommendations about better legislation and safe spaces, until an indigenous woman stood, and with great emotion asked people how they could get so lost, talking on and on about law and government. “Don’t you know the government is not your friend? Look at the history of my people. Look at all of history. Government is the friend of the masters, not the slaves. They think nothing of killing.” She said that people needed to act like they did in Ferguson, that the proposals for more “practical” actions were a “deadly distraction” from what needs to be done. “I’m not here for that! I want to find others who feel the same way, and organize those networks.” With that, she took her children and walked out. The convener went back to prodding people for recommendations to take to the plenary, but found few still interested in participating. (We didn’t move quickly enough at that moment to catch up with the indigenous woman, and never saw her again, but did get some literature into the hands of someone from each tribe.)
Perhaps the most interesting question raised at the Migration workshop was, “What about the right to NOT migrate?” Unfortunately, the question and what that implied about the system was never really joined. The discussion was structured for each person at the table to talk, in turn, about their own issue or connection with migrant issues, and their proposed solution. Not only did this narrow the scope of understanding migrations that are sweeping the planet, it had the effect of promoting the outlook that what is possible is what is already being done—with the addition of more voices, or fervor, or funds. Even people whose intentions were better ended up complaining about stuff like Tijuana having to handle deportees from all over Mexico. When it was our turn to speak, we tried to raise sights to the source of this massive disintegration and uprooting, not only in Mexico but all over the world, and concluded by saying, in effect, “It is imperialism, especially U.S. imperialism, and it has to go! We need revolution. I live in the U.S. but I’m not an American, I’m an internationalist.” Several people expressed agreement in different ways and for different reasons with that. A young woman who works with an agency helping deportees responded later with a big hug, and expressed gratitude for words that expressed how she felt, saying, “‘I’m an internationalist!’ I’m going to remember that phrase.” But a moment later, discussion sank back to individuals’ issues, and the workshop ground on toward making “practical” recommendations to the plenary.
The final plenary session video-conferenced workshop recommendations to participants in the other cities. Most people left quickly, even before that was finished. But several lingered to ask us to keep in touch, or if we would come and talk to their group after they had studied and discussed the books on the new synthesis. Two people tracked us down specifically to get the OCR polemic. When we asked one of them, a young indigenous woman who was already holding a Manifiesto and a Lo Basico, why she wanted the polemic, she answered obliquely, before she hurried away, “I think I will like it.”
Everything we had brought with us was now in the hands of people from throughout Baja California or other Mexican states, including Chihuahua, Sonora, Sinaloa, and the Federal District (Mexico City).We had arrived with 35 copies of the OCR polemic, 25 Manifiestos, 15+ each of Lo BAsico and the Constitución, 30 ¡A romper TODAS las cadenas!, 12 copies of “¿Pero como sabemos quien esta dicienco la verdad sobre el comunismo?” by Raymond Lotta, five DVDs of BA’s Revolution talk with a Spanish audio, and could have gotten out nearly twice as much. Thirty-one people signed up for revcom.us eSubs, and bought or made donations for 88 Revolucion newspapers (various issues).
The whole day was a real emotional high for us, seeing people’s excitement and obvious hunger for revolutionary theory, and giving us a sharp reminder of what a rare and valuable thing we have in the BA, his new synthesis and his leadership. Crossing back into the U.S. was depressing, but uneventful. We talked about where to go from here in connecting up people with revcom.us, including the 17 who had volunteered to translate, and kicked around how we could raise funds both to repay the bookstore and for the literature to get out internationally on a grand scale.
That morning we had decided to lower the price of the books, given that the minimum daily wage in Mexico is 70 pesos (less than $5, or half of the price of Lo BAsico), which likely made it possible for many of the more basic masses to get the books. And we also consistently asked for donations to make that possible. Several Mexican professionals doubled the price they paid, to help others get the books. Now, heading home, we made plans for a fundraising house party to let friends back home hear what we had learned about the hunger for revolutionary theory, how precious revcom.us is to people all over the world, and what their commitment to sustaining revcom.us can mean.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From the Revolution Club Chicago
July 31, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Baby Dill memorial. Photo revcom.us
July 11, 2015. 21-year-old Marvin Carr, who recorded under the name "Capo" on Chief Keef's record label, was shot and killed on the street in Chicago. Police profiling people in the neighborhood began chasing a car. The chase went for 3.5 miles and multiple police cars got involved. It ended when the car went out of control, hit a pole and struck the baby carriage Dillian Harris—13 months old—was riding in. Dillian died. The driver of the car was not charged in the shooting of Capo, but was charged with the murder of Dillian Harris.
Dillian Harris's family is outraged at the recklessness of the police which resulted in the death of baby Dill. They have brought suit against 20 unnamed officers who were involved in the chase, the police department and the city of Chicago.
On July 16, the Revolution Club was at a South Side El Train stop in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago, promoting a benefit for people facing felony charges from lasts fall's protests against police murder (2 are Rev Club members). We learned from an activist minister driving by that a vigil was planned for a Dillian Harris, affectionately known as baby Dill, a few blocks away.
As the Revolution Club, in uniform (Revolution—Nothing Less! shirts), came on the scene, a young woman asked, "Wow who are you all and what are you about?" When a member replied, "We are about the Emancipation of All Humanity", the young woman's eye lit up and she said. "I am down for that!" She wasn't ready to put on an RNL shirt on the spot because she was very dressed up. She told us how to stay in touch. It turned out she was part of Dillian's family. She took club members to meet Dillian's mother.
Many people came to the vigil alone and in groups. People struggled off public buses with bundles of blue and white balloons for Baby Dill. Four or more Black social clubs, in Black leather vests with their club names, rolled up on motorcycles. When asked if they were connected to the family, they said no, they just came to pay their respects. At its height there were over 100 people at the vigil.
Memorial for Baby Dill. Photo revcom.us
The vigil began with a prayer which was followed by brief presentations from former gang members, some now probably in their 70's, including Gator Bradley who is widely known as a friend of Larry Hoover. (Hoover, the leader of the Gangster Disciples, has been locked down in a Super Max Federal Penitentiary since the 90's). All of the former gang members had essentially the same message. "It is time to 'stop beefing.' The women have carried the weight of all this violence for too long. The men need to step up and make this stop."
"Beef" is a common street term for an ongoing conflict among different sets of people—sometimes resulting in multiple people being killed on both sides of the "beef." We have been hearing the message to "the youth to stop beefing" from other OGs and this was also to be the message of a concert Chief Keef planned to raise funds for funeral costs for Dillian Harris's family and that of his friend Capo also.
When it was time to release the blue and white balloons, Dillian's grandmother and other family members who were just down the block had not arrived on the scene. An activist minister went down to check on them and running back to the vigil, he explained to several people, including Revolution Club members, that the cops had M16 assault rifles pointed at family member and were preventing the other relatives from leaving their porch and coming to the vigil.
A group, including the club, ran down the block to the scene. Unfortunately no one told anyone from large numbers of press people at the vigil what was happening and the press, along with most of the vigil participants, was clueless about what was happening just down the block and remained at the vigil site.
When the crowd arrived at the house, police, still pointing long guns at the women and children on the porch, backed off and left. Someone shouted out, "Go to the alley". Visible through a chain link fence was a huge police presence in the alley behind the house. A young Revolution Club member was agitating, "Get out your cell phones, let the press know what is going on here, come into the alley. This system is totally worthless! Look at what they do to us!" People poured into the alley through a hole in the chain link fence.
A Chicago policeman terrorizing mourners at a memorial for Baby Dill. Shirt says "Police Brutality 10 April 10". Photo revcom.us
There were a mass of police in the alley. Youth told us that 2 cops who were dressed in green fatigues ride through the ally and harass them often and are part of the XRT (Special Response Team). There were uniformed police in and out of their vehicles. To top it off there was an officer brandishing an assault rifle wearing a purple t-shirt which said, "Police Brutality, 10 April 10". (See photo) Many people were out on their porches watching the scene from the several story apartment building on the other side of the alley. Family members and others were enraged at the police, yelling and screaming at them.
Revolution Club members were agitating and also passing out their flier "Stop Killing Each Other, Start Fighting the System" to people. A club member saw one youth starting to crumple up the flier and challenged them, making a point to distinguish what we were saying from the general "stop the violence movement." She talked about how the powers that be fear young Black people. How in the 60's the Panthers put revolution on the agenda and around the world the image of a young Black person was that of a revolutionary and how their system was shaken to its foundations but we weren't successful in making revolution. The rulers never want to see that happen again and have been working overtime to make sure of that by criminalizing Black youth. As she was speaking the youth began uncrumpling and reading the flier.
One member attempted to pass the flier to people watching from the building across the alley. The police blocking the gate tried to stop her but she would not leave. In defiance, a young man from the building came out of the gate and took a stack of fliers.
As the crowd got louder and louder, the scene got more intense. A large number of people, and especially young women, were expressing outrage at the police, screaming and yelling. Revolution Club members were agitating in the midst of all this, about the role of the police and need for people to get with the revolution. As it got more and more tense, the police began to slowly withdraw from the alley.
When all the police were gone, the crowd returned to the vigil and the balloons were released for Dillian. Many people got materials from the Revolution Club—papers, palm cards, our flier and one young woman got the RNL shirt. Everyone we met there is being invited to an open meeting of the Revolution Club Sunday.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On July 29, Ray Tensing, a University of Cincinnati cop, was arraigned and charged with the murder of Sam DuBose. On July 19, Tensing had stopped DuBose for a minor traffic violation and then, within minutes, shot DuBose in the head, killing him in cold blood.
Hamilton County prosecuting attorney Joseph T. Deters called this “a senseless, asinine shooting” and said, “This doesn’t happen in the United States, OK? This might happen in Afghanistan. People don’t get shot for a traffic stop.”
First of all, this DOES happen in the U.S. all the time. Black and Latino people who get stopped by the police end up dead all the time. Like Walter Scot in South Carolina, who was stopped by a cop then chased and shot in the back.
This does happen, just like how innocent, unarmed civilians are gunned down by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. And this is because the police in the ghettos and barrios of the U.S. are—just like U.S. troops in Afghanistan—a militarized OCCUPATION FORCE of murder, brutality, and repression.
As Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has put it:
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and the order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.
The police who swagger through the Black and Latino neighborhoods, jacking people up, doing stop-and-frisk, brutalizing and murdering people are, just like the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, a brutal occupying army, enforcing the interests of U.S. imperialism.
This system has no use and no future for millions and millions of Black and Latino people. The powers that be need to control and contain this volatile force in society and this is why these occupying pigs murder and brutalize the people on a genocidal level.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On July 19, Ray Tensing, a University of Cincinnati cop, stopped Samuel DuBose for "driving while Black"—pulling him over for not having a front license plate. Within minutes, Tensing shot DuBose in the head, killing him in cold blood.
Outrage and protests in Cincinnati have been mounting in response. A week after DuBose was killed, on Sunday, July 26, family, friends and Black Lives Matter protesters gathered on the University of Cincinnati campus to march to the scene where Dubose died. Then on July 31, Friday night, hundreds of people came together to demand justice for Sam DuBose. Only hours before this protest, Tensing—after spending just one night in jail—had posted bond, was released to walk free while awaiting trial for murder.
This night of protest began with a candlelight vigil organized by Sam DuBose's family. DuBose's mother Audrey DuBose said, "I don't know half of these people, but they're standing for justice." Speaking to the outpouring of support she said, "I feel like it's going to get bigger and greater."
After this, hundreds joined a rally and march which Black Lives Matter had called for after Tensing was charged with the murder of Sam DuBose. Demonstrators gathered on the steps of the Hamilton County Courthouse and chanted in unison, "I am Sam Dubose!" Then people took off on a very spirited march through the streets to Fountain Square.
Six people were arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. One of those arrested was Kimberly Thomas, who had spoken at Sam DuBose's funeral and identified herself as one of Sam's best friends. Police claim she tried to help someone who was being arrested, so they threw her to the ground, subdued her and then arrested her. Damon Lynch IV, the son of a prominent reverend, was also arrested, accused of "refusing to leave an intersection and balling his fists when an officer tried to arrest him."
The crowd of between 250-300 people made it clear that the only justice for Sam DuBose was for Tensing to be convicted of murder and sent to prison. One reporter who was covering the protest and tweeting throughout the night tweeted:
"We must love & protect one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains. We must fight for our freedom," the crowd says.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
Southern California Kick-Off:
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On August 1 , about 75 people from all over Southern California and beyond came together with spirit and determination to contribute everything possible to make #RiseUpOctober to Stop Police Terror in New York City a powerful declaration that the police murder of Black, Latino, and other poor and oppressed people has got to stop—NOW!
The launch meeting had been called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network; they were joined by family members of at least 4 victims of wanton police murder—Ezell Ford; Johnny Ray Anderson; Ernesto Flores; and David Silva. The family members spoke passionately of the devastation of having loved ones murdered by police, and why October 22-24 is so important. People of all different nationalities and ages came, some making the trip from Bakersfield; San Bernardino; and Antelope Valley, where a SMIN chapter has been built. There were families whose loved ones had been brutally beaten by the police; organizers of homeless people; and seasoned fighters against police brutality and mass incarceration. There were people whose determination to fight injustice is faith-based, including Reverend Wulf of the United University Church, one of the leaders of SMIN in Los Angeles; alongside supporters the Revolutionary Communist Party and Bob Avakian. And supporters of Revolution Books.
Revolution Club members with their BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts brought their experience and enthusiasm to the meeting. College students came from several campuses; and others who’d learned of the Call only days before through social media came to it with their “sleeves rolled up.”
The afternoon began with a warm welcome by Reverend Buie of Holman Methodist Church, where the meeting took place. He spoke of being one of the few growing up in the South Bronx who escaped being incarcerated, and of a cousin who didn’t escape. And he encouraged this newly forming coalition to “Keep up the good work—and don’t give up!”
The overall orientation for Rise Up October and for the meeting was provided by showing the video of the talks given by Carl Dix and Cornel West at the original launch meeting in New York City on June 30..There were short presentations given by those leading the gathering; and the agenda for the rest of the day was passed out for everyone to have. Then people stood up and joined in repeating parts of the official Call for October as it was being read aloud.
Family members of several victims of police murder organized themselves for a picture to send the message of their unity in the fight to end this epidemic of police brutality and mass incarceration of our youth. Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution
Before breaking into subgroups, two of the family members of people murdered by police spoke—Chris Silva, whose brother was beaten to death by police outside a hospital in Bakersfield, told how his brother was killed, and why he felt Rise Up October was crucial. And then Yohana Flores, daughter of Ernesto Flores, described the horror of making a phone call asking for help for her father, who was having a mental breakdown, only to have the sheriffs come and shoot her father 45 times, 12 times to the head.
Each of the subgroups first wrangled with why October 24th in New York City? Why this movement must powerfully advance and leap forward, or surely it will be set back? and why “Which Side Are You On?” has to reach and challenge millions of people across the country. Then they got down to making plans. One committee focused on how this growing movement could raise money for all the costs of the campaign, as well as getting buses to send hundreds of people to New York City. A group of students made plans to take reach students and others at the summer concerts and venues, then take it to UCLA and other campuses when they open.
Reverend Wulf led the committee that focused on outreach to different church leaders—and to their congregations. A committee that included young artists made plans for visual art projects and spoken word, open-mike events—and for making stencils that people can take and use themselves to get #Rise Up October wherever people turn. A rapid-response network was planned by another subgroup to respond quickly in the wake of every new police crime. And the family members met to talk about how their voices could be most powerfully heard, and felt—in the media; and speaking out to other sections of society on campuses, in churches, and more.
When the committees reported to the whole group at the end, it was inspiring to hear how much creativity and initiative had been unleashed. Just before ending, the brother of Johnny Ray Anderson, murdered by police in Hawaiian Gardens, only July 5th, told passionately about how devastated he was by the police killing of his only brother—and his deep appreciation for the work of SMIN organizers who came to him right afterwards and made it possible for him to see a way to fight for justice for his brother, as a part of fighting to put an end to this whole epidemic of police terror. He made the point that through watching the statements by Carl Dix and Cornel West, it substantiated what he had been wrestling with—that this system is the problem, and it’s for “them,” and not for “us.”
At this point everyone was led in the chant—“Hands Up—Don’t Shoot!” Plans were announced for August 9th—the first year anniversary of the murder of Michael Brown—and of the rebellion that sent a shock wave waking up millions and inspiring a nationwide struggle for justice long overdue.
People left with bags full of Calls and palm cards for Rise Up October, flyers for the August 9th anniversary of Michael Brown’s murder, and their eyes set on October 22—24 . Afterwards, outside the church, family members of several of the victims of police murder organized themselves for a picture that would send the message of their unity in the fight to end this epidemic of police brutality and mass incarceration of our youth.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
August 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Friday, July 24, in a move duplicating the police raids against performances in the late 1980s/early 1990s by iconic rappers NWA, police in Hammond, Indiana literally pulled the plug on a hologram appearance by Chief Keef. To repeat that: a hologram performance. Keef was not even present, but his image was being projected. “We turned the power off, we’re closing the park down,” proclaimed a spokesperson for the Hammond police.
Chief Keef is a Chicago rapper who has made his name in the business with songs that glorify the “thug life” on the mean streets of Chicago’s Black ghettos.
But there is more at stake here than Keef’s odes to money and gangsterism. It may appear that Chief Keef is merely the rapper the authorities “love to hate.” Yet the real question here is why authorities are using the power of their repressive state to prevent artists from performing.
The Hammond shutdown of Keef was not the first, but the second of in fact three blatant acts of censorship by authorities against his performances that were supposed to be benefit appearances, all via a hologram projection. (The reason Keef did not plan to perform live and in person is that he is facing an arrest warrant in Illinois for alleged failure to pay child support.)
Baby Dill memorial. Photo revcom.us
In another story here on revcom.us, there is a report on the funeral for “Baby Dill” (Dillian Harris), the Chicago toddler who was killed by a speeding car, allegedly driven by someone who was fleeing the shooting of one of Keef’s rap associates. (See “Standing Up to the System at the Vigil for Baby Dill”)
In July, Keef announced that he would hold a hologram performance to benefit the family of Dillian Harris and to spread a message against violence among the youth. This was to be held at Chicago’s Redmoon Theater with proceeds and a matching amount from Keef’s recording enterprises going to the family and to charities doing anti-violence work. He has also started a foundation called “Stop the Violence Now.”
However, the event was soon canceled because of the intervention of Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel’s office called the Redmoon Theater to demand the cancellation, saying “Keef is an unacceptable role model” and the planned performance “promotes violence.” This from the mayor whose “role modeling” includes defending a police department that regularly kills unarmed youth and that has a proven record of torture and brutality, and closing Chicago schools and libraries in massive numbers.
And unfortunately, Father Michael Pfleger, a clergyman who is active in organizing anti-violence campaigns on Chicago’s South Side, participated in the repressive moves against Keef. Pfleger called Keef a “hypocrite” for trying to hold an anti-violence benefit while still glorifying violence in his music and told him to “shut up.” This added to the atmosphere that encourages further repression by the same system that sets up the economic and social conditions in which Black youth are turned against each other.
The third occurrence of censorship against Keef came after the Hammond incident, when the Chicago Theater, a major downtown venue that is owned by the Madison Square Garden conglomerate, also refused to allow the hologram projection.
These events drive home even more deeply the need for people to take to the streets in massive numbers in New York on October 24 in the Rise Up October events to demand “Police Terror Must Stop Now!” Building for Rise Up October now is crucial in drawing forward all those who want to project across all of society a positive message of righteous political resistance.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
Dispatch from a Revolution Club Member
August 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Telling the truth about abortion in Jackson, MS.
We approached a house that, like many other houses in its vicinity, looked uninhabitable—the glass of the windows was broken, the wood was falling apart; nevertheless the house loosely clung to its foundation. Before we turned away, a very friendly woman, probably in her 60s, came out of the house, smiling, curious about these two women with T-shirts that read REVOLUTION―NOTHING LESS! We said, “Hello, we are revolutionaries!”
Betsy is a Black woman who resides in utter desolation in Jackson, Mississippi. Her life concentrates the horrors that millions of Black people experience in a country founded on slavery and genocide. She is among the millions of Black people who have been cast off by this system. When we brought the movement for revolution to Betsy’s doorstep and explained how this system perpetuates the oppression of Black people and women, the way out—communist revolution and the leadership we have—she widened her eyes, sat down, and said “OK, let’s talk!” She then proceeded to unbraid the white supremacy and patriarchy prevalent in her life.
The conversation began with a reading of the “You cannot break all the chains except one...” (BAsics 3:22) quote. When we asked her what struck her about the quote, she said, “It’s powerful. It’s a good quote, but I don’t understand it.” We began to break down what this quote means and how liberating women isn’t just a moral question, but that there is a scientific basis for doing so, that we can understand when and how the oppression of women emerged, the way it manifests itself today―through reducing women to breeders and/or sex objects—and, consequently, the pathway to liberating women. It was an experiment; every time we spoke and she asked questions, we realized the need to break things down more concretely and define all of our terms so she could understand that revolution is a complex process rather than a process impossible to understand. Through trial and error we were able to bridge the gap between her current understanding of the state of the world and the revolutionary understanding she needed.
We got into the particularities of why we were in Jackson: to defend the last abortion clinic in the entire state and build a movement dedicated to stopping patriarchy. As we were relaying this all to her, she interjected and said, “Wait you all are against abortion? Or...” and we said we are for abortion which lead her to exclaim, “Oh no, I’m against abortion. I hate that word.” When we asked her why, she repeatedly said, “It’s just wrong, it’s just wrong.” She explained she had six children and thought about getting an abortion a number of times but decided to keep her “babies.” She said once a young woman conveyed to her that she used a coat hanger to give herself an abortion, but that she just couldn’t stay to listen to the young woman because “It was just wrong,” not because a woman was placed in that same situation but because abortion, according to her, is immoral.
Download brochure (PDF)
After we showed her the brochure (at right) that lays out the science of what an abortion is, the discussion was re-cast in a way that got to our primary disagreement: whether or not a fetus is a baby and resulted in a subtle change in her position. We showed her the picture of what an embryo looks like at the first three weeks of pregnancy and explained that 90 percent of abortions are performed during the first trimester of pregnancy. “That’s how the baby looks?” she asked. “No, that’s how the embryo looks,” we said. We then posed the question, “Do you really think abortion could be called murder?” Instead of responding immediately, Betsy unfolded the pamphlet and pointed at the second picture of a fetus at three months and asked, “What about this one, is that what the baby looks like?” and we said, “No, that’s what the fetus at three months looks like.” We proceeded to tell her that the potential life of a fetus is subordinate to the life of a woman, that a fetus is entirely sustained by the woman’s body, just like any other clump of cells in her body. We reframed the debate around abortion and explained the importance of women having the right to abortion and what this decisive fight is all about: whether women will be enslaved or liberated. We could see in her expression how surprised she was. She was facing for first time the reality of abortion. We then asked her if her view of abortion changed after we came to the doorstep and she said, “No. I’m against abortion but I understand why... why women need abortion.” When we broke down how forced motherhood is female enslavement, that any entity that is state regulated is enslaved she nodded and said, “Yes, yes. I understand why a woman would get an abortion now that you talked to me. I understand why, can I keep this [the brochure]? I am going to read it again.”
We then returned to the fact that we, as revolutionaries, understand that the way Black people are treated―pushed into ghettos, incarcerated, shot down by brutal cops, essentially offered no future and means to grow and flourish as a people—flows out of the same system that is keeping half of humanity down. We gave her a copy of Revolution newspaper and when she saw Sandra Bland on the cover, she became sad and exclaimed, “Why did this happen? They [the cops] shot my son twice in the back when he was filling his car up with gas. There’s a video of it so I’m suing them. He is still alive though. My other son was shot by a person who thought he was someone he wasn’t.” We explained to her we no longer have to live this way―in a world where Black and Brown people’s futures are laid out before they are even born, that this system cannot do away with the oppression of Black people, that it will continue to keep them down so long as it remains intact. She said she was glad that we talked to her and introduced us to her 12-year-old grandson who had been listening in on the latter half of our discussion. He asked us, “What are you about? What are you promoting?” and after we explained he said, “We need change, we can’t live like this no more, and I want to promote it too.” He explained that a good way he could promote it was through his Instagram because he has over 6,000 followers. He took a picture with BAsics so his “friends could learn about the revolution.”
The process of unfolding the need for revolution combined with the horrors Betsy faces illuminates how much she relates to the revolution—a Black woman who grew up in Mississippi, living in an uninhabitable house, two of her sons have been shot; the fact that she had considered abortion and knew somebody who self-induced an abortion with a coat hanger. And there she was, sitting in the window-less house, no AC on a hot summer day in Mississippi, a house in the middle of this deserted neighborhood, living the life that millions of people are forced to live in this country, deprived of a future with the exception of rearing children and just getting by. This revolution was exactly what she needed to hear about, it was right that we were there, she is a lively example of the urgency for revolution.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From the Stop Patriarchy blog
August 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a member of Stop Patriarchy:
In the hours before going into Hooters, people were feeling nervous jitters and bursts of excitement. We were going to confront this business that not only prides itself on, but sells the degradation and objectification of women to the masses. We didn’t know what would go down, but we knew that this was something of great importance: to disrupt what is ordinarily so incredibly normalized, a business that exploits women yet hosts entire families as if exploitation was perfectly acceptable. We were excited to go into this place and expose it for what it really is: a place that feasts on the humanity of women.
Dressed in Abortion on Demand and Without Apology shirts, members of Stop Patriarchy rolled into the Hooters of Jackson, Mississippi. Holding signs that read, “Women are NOT bitches, hoes, sex objects, punching bags, breeders or incubators, women ARE full human beings!” and “Stop objectifying women, start fighting patriarchy”, we circled up in the center of the Hooters. A member of the team shouted “this is a public service announcement” and began stating boldly why an establishment such as Hooters is aiding and abetting in the domination of men over women. We all began shouting, “women aren’t objects, women aren’t toys, women aren’t play things for the boys” over and over again.
Many people whipped out their phones to take video of us. There was a group of young men, chanting “tits and ass,” heckling us. In the face of them heckling, we were yelling back at them and to everyone, “women aren’t objects, women aren’t toys, women aren’t play things for the boys!” That shit was amazing! To feel, for the first time for some of us, that we weren’t going to just sit back and swallow this bullshit hurled at us like so many women do, that we stood up and said hell no!, that was so liberating. And to know that it isn’t just you feeling this way, that you have a whole crew to back you up, who know that you aren’t crazy or too much and that you need to calm down like many people say. We don’t need to calm down! We need to rise up, stand together and fight for a world where women aren’t seen as just tits and ass that exist to serve you.
At the same time these men were heckling us, there were several people who were just staring at what was going down. One older gentlemen had his mouth open, eyes wide, just staring at us like “What in the hell is going on!?” They had never seen anything like this before. That is exactly why we NEED to be out doing pop up protests in places like Hooters, porn stores and strip clubs, because we are confronting this patriarchal bullshit right in the belly of the beast, taking these places on head first, taking patriarchy by storm and letting people know that as long as these places exist, they will have to face people like us who are bringing them the reality of what they are doing to women.
We were in the Hooters for 2 minutes and 17 seconds before being physically removed by the managers. These men were dragging us out by our signs, ripping them in the process and pulling us by our waists or arms. Mostly everyone who was grabbed managed to get back to the center of the room before officially getting thrown out. It was 2 minutes and 17 seconds that we were in there but it was the most liberating 2 minutes and 17 seconds anyone could ever feel in a place like Hooters. We all came out excited and smiling from ear to ear. Many of us shouted, “let’s go to another” when the manager followed us out and proceeded to step to one of our comrades who was leading. He was angrily grumbling about how we were fucking up HIS business and how Hooters will stay in business when our comrade replied, “well they made money off of slavery too man.” He didn’t know what to say. In the face of wildly disgusting cultural views, which are learned and not human nature, Stop Patriarchy confronts the bullshit that is served to the masses. And we will continue to do so, until it is wiped off the face of this earth, for women in this country and around the globe.
Revolution #398 August 3, 2015
From a new Revolution Club Member
August 4, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
I was introduced to the Revolution Club through the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. I went to an organizing meeting the network was having for the Rise Up October event after receiving an email for it. I went to the meeting because stopping police brutality was one of the causes I felt the most passionate about. Soon after this meeting, I joined the network at a rally on the anniversary of the murder of Eric Garner. At the rally I noticed a lot of people wearing the REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts, and I was strongly encouraged to wear one as well, by a member of the Revolution Club.
At first, I felt a little uncomfortable wearing the shirt because I felt I wasn’t knowledgeable enough about communism. I was soon approached by another member of the Rev Club, and asked why I decided to put on the shirt. I realized by that point that I had enough sense of what goes on in the world, and that I have probably been brainwashed and lied to about a lot of this, as well as the whole history of communism and was very curious about getting deeper into what the Rev Coms [revolutionary communists] had to say about all this. The Rev Club member encouraged me to learn more about the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian, the strategy he’s developed, and the real history of revolution and communism. I had read up some on Castro and Che, and had heard that in previous communist revolutions, everyone who disagreed would be killed. Talking to the Rev Club members made me realize that a lot of this is just lies and slander that I have to learn more about. As I talked more to the revolutionaries throughout the day, I began to realize that this club was about getting into who the real enemy is, the root problem; knowing not everyone will agree, and that many people won’t like this, but still encouraging all viewpoints to come forward and fight the power with us, as we struggle over big questions.
Later on that day, there was another rally and I noticed there was tension between the Revs and some other organizations. I really didn’t understand why, and I wanted to try to investigate this myself. I thought if I took off my Rev shirt, I would look more neutral and would better be able to hear out both sides. I thought maybe if we didn’t bring Rev into what we were saying, and just stuck to talking about police terror, that maybe there wouldn’t be such tension.
I ended up falling behind when the rally became a march, and took off into the city. Alone I thought, “Which side are you on?” This is the question we are putting before people in the fight against police terror with Rise Up October, but I thought about it in relation to the whole movement for Rev. These people were saying we could really change all this, by making revolution. I agreed with the fact that capitalism is the problem, and I realized so much of my thinking on this was being stifled before I met them. I was being influenced a lot by the mainstream media, and what other people think, and all this was pushing those thoughts down. Meeting the Rev Club unleashed a lot of my thinking on the real problem and solution.
That day I was encouraged by a couple different people to get into the Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West. I realized this must be a key piece to get into what the Rev Coms were about. I knew I’d still have questions, but I wanted to check it out, and see from there if I agreed or not. I thought to myself at first that I didn’t HAVE to get into Rev, I could just do work with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, but I got this feeling from the Revs that they had a real way out, and I wanted to learn more about that; I had this itch to dig deep.
I watched the Dialogue the next day. I was extremely impressed with the way Bob Avakian went at answering such major questions on the history of communist revolutions and religion, so unapologetically and boldly. I really appreciated that. I knew this person was serious, and that this whole movement was serious. Since then, I’ve been coming out more and more, rolling with the Revolution Club, organizing people for Rise Up October, digging into theory, especially on the question of the oppression of women and how patriarchy is so woven into this system of capitalism. The more I learn, the more conviction I have, and the more I’m not swayed by what people think. This is too important to only do or say things that allow people to stay in their comfort zones.
This is the first time I have encountered a shirt that meant more than the shirt. This shirt is about putting out there to the world that there is a root cause to all these horrors and injustices, and that we are about weeding that out. Wearing this shirt is like wearing your heart on your sleeve. It says that you are serious about changing all this, and I am!
Of course I still have a lot of questions! I really want to get more into the REAL history of communism, and why democracy under this system is not and will never be enough to free humanity. I want to understand why communism is the best possible system to solve all these problems. I want to get into the strategy for revolution, how we could have a real chance of winning, and what we could do with state power. All of this and more!
I will end with this...
A lot of people say, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I’m beginning to realize... there’s no way you can be the change you want to see without making a fucking REVOLUTION!