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Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
Updated December 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
People are grappling with big questions: Is there a way to change, to really change the way that people around the world are forced to live? What would it take to not just change the many ways that people are oppressed, but to actually END oppression altogether? And what will your life be about in relation to that?
The world today IS a horror—but it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a way forward, a way out of the horrors. As we say on this site:
Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.
If you are someone who is grappling with the big questions, right now is the time for you to dig deeply into the work and leadership of Bob Avakian (BA), even as we fight forward to change the world. Two good ways to start doing this is to get into BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!—a six-hour film of a talk by Bob Avakian—and the outline developed by BA himself laying out the key elements of the new synthesis of communism that he has brought forward. This outline—The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements—provides “a basic grounding and guideline... to encourage and facilitate further engagement with the new synthesis.”
In the coming weeks, there will be opportunities for you to get into this film and the new synthesis outline together with other people at Revolution Books stores in different cities. See the schedule below.
Revolution Books, 437 Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Ave.
Contact Revolution Books at the address above or 212-691-3345 / firstname.lastname@example.org for upcoming events.
Revolution Books, 1103 N. Ashland. 773-489-0930, email@example.com
Contact the store for upcoming events
Revolution Books’ temporary space at the Multicultural Artists United (MCAU) Gallery, 220 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park, between Beverly & Temple.
January 21, Thursday, 7:30 pm: Discussion of Bob Avakian’s The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements.
February 4, Thursday, 7:30 pm. Screening and continuing discussion of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
Contact Revolution Books for upcoming events at 213-304-9864
Revolution Books, 2444 Durant Avenue
January 19, Tuesday, 7-9 pm: Screening and discussion of sections of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
Contact Revolution Books for more info at above address or 510-848-1196 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Little 5 Points Community Center,
1083 Austin Ave @ Euclid Ave.
(enter building from back parking lot, take elevator to 3rd floor) Free Parking
Contact Revolution Books for upcoming events at 770-861-3339 or email@example.com
Revolution Books, 1158 Mass Ave., Cambridge
Contact the store for upcoming events at 617-388-0133 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Revolution Books, 2804 Mayfield Rd, at Coventry, Cleveland Hts
Wednesdays, January 13 and 20, 6:30 - 8:30 pm: Screening and discussion of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live.
2501 Holman (in Project Row Houses)
January 17, Sunday, 4pm: Come to watch and dig into Part 3 of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
For information, call 832-865-0408, or email RevolutionHtown@yahoo.com.
Revolution Books, 89 S. Washington St. (off 1st Ave. in Pioneer Square)
Saturdays, 1 pm: Screening and discussion of sections of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
For more info, contact Revolution Books at the above address or 206-325-7415 / email@example.com
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
My reaction to the compendium Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on Women’s Emancipation and Communist Revolution has been twofold: 1. visceral, which I will dig into after the period ends this sentence, and 2. understanding its importance in unleashing women and all kinds of folks around the “woman question” in order to make an actual revolution, one worth fighting for, and ALL the way emancipation (number 2, I am also calling “every ‘feminist’ and everyone, period, needs this in their stocking/holiday bag”).
As promised, expanding on number one: The first time I read this quote by BA in the Break ALL the Chains! compendium sampler, I cried:
Recently I heard a startling statistic: one out of every four women in the U.S. will be the victim of a sexual assault during her lifetime. One out of four!, and the number is expected to rise to one out of three. Right there, even if this “way of life” did not produce any of the other seemingly endless outrages and genuinely monstrous crimes—all the way to world war—that it does produce, even if what stands behind the statistic were the only thing seriously wrong with this system, that alone would be enough to rise up against it and not stop until it had been overthrown and something better put in its place. (“Provocations,” Revolutionary Worker #228, October 29, 1983)
Even re-reading it to others, and as I write this I tear up. The words “that alone would be enough to rise up against it and not stop until it had been overthrown and something better put in its place” are in fact the words that make me cry. Reading it, processing it, hearing that the violence against women ALONE is reason enough to make a revolution takes my breath away. I have never heard anything like that before, something so powerful, something that validates the experiences of women. Something that decries the horror of what happens to women here and around the world as just that. Not some side issue. Not something that women complain about. Not something small or insignificant. A horror worth fighting against, and making great sacrifices to get rid of. Not ameliorate. Not hold safe space for. Get rid of once and for all.
A wave of emotion rushes over me. I am reminded of my childhood. I am reminded of the men I adored and loved who violated me. Assess you part by part. Relate to you not as a person but as a girl, and then a woman. You become to them the same as the women they watch in porn, the women they hoot and holler at. You hate your body. You feel disgusting. You feel ashamed. You have no name for it. No category except pain. You carry it with you every day; sometimes it’s more present than other times. I imagine all of the times I’ve been harassed on the street. A constant reminder of who you are. A piece of meat. A thing to be used.
I imagine, as if a slave being auctioned, a woman on a block being evaluated based on how sexually titillating she is to men. Whether or not she can reproduce. I imagine the young woman in Ethiopia who is kidnapped and then raped. I imagine the woman in Harlem raped by police officers. I imagine the women in prison shackled as they give birth, perhaps an unwanted pregnancy because a CO officer raped her. I imagine the women in Mexico working at maquiladoras, U.S.-owned factories, disappeared, kidnapped, and raped, whose bones are found later on. I imagine the women in Middle Eastern villages being stoned to death after a white sheet without blood is used to claim she is not a virgin. We are each other and they are me. We are suffocating. We can’t breathe. We are, as a comrade has said, plants growing underneath a rock.
Imagine unleashing women to be a part of a revolution to put an end to the anger, frustration, shame, degradation, humiliation, beatings, self-hatred of women here, and around the world. Imagine women fighting to emancipate not just themselves but to emancipate all of humanity. Imagine a world without the constant threat of rape. Without women holding back for fear of being brutalized. Imagine women seen as human beings, girls as contributors to society, and not as things to be bought and sold. Imagine women did not have to keep moving to stop themselves from grappling with their oppression because it causes them too much pain. Imagine women not having to choke on their anger anymore!
Bob Avakian synthesized the experiences of women in a few sentences. They are bulky and smooth all at the same time. And by that I mean it is easy to read and yet encompasses the heaviness of experiences of a whole section of society in a way that packs a hard punch. Reading through the compendium I feel as though he’s writing to me. I think at the same time how it actually is nonsense to think that only women would have access to the truth on where women’s oppression comes from and how to end it. Bob Avakian isn’t just a man, he’s a revolutionary communist, applying a scientific method and approach to get at reality and how to transform it. How and why women need to be unleashed in order to make a revolution and struggle over the “woman question” in order to make all the way revolution! He breaks down the origins of women’s oppression. He actually goes there: boldly speaking the truth about the social role of women, and why and how this revolting culture must be resisted, and gotten rid of. His approach gets under the surface and gets at the heart of what it’s actually going to take to fully emancipate women and how, and why. And it is exciting. It is fucking exciting to know there is someone out there who has done this work and that there is in fact a solution to the horrors of this system.
I urge everyone, especially in light of the ongoing assault on women’s right to abortion, to read, to dig into, to refresh on Break ALL the Chains. To quote one of my favorites:
You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can’t say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution. (BAsics 3:22)
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This world is intolerable! In huge regions of the world, the USA and its allies are terrorizing cities and towns with bombs and drones—and in the process driving people into the arms of reactionary Islamic Jihad. An environmental crisis endangers the ability of humans to live on this planet. Around the world, women are dehumanized, terrorized, raped, and forced to bear children against their will, and LGBT people are shamed and persecuted. Migrants and refugees are demonized and forced to live in the shadows, if they can live at all. And in every city in America, Black and Brown youths have targets on their backs, for a policeman’s bullet or a life behind bars.
A lot of people talk about a system, and even talk about a “revolution.” But what IS this system that rules over humanity? That system is capitalism-imperialism. This is a system that has as its foundation the relentless exploitation of billions of people. It is a system driven by dog-eat-dog, kill-or-be-killed competition among the exploiters. This system is the source of endless crises, wars, and misery. And this system is backed up and enforced by state power that serves and violently enforces—through the system’s police, jails, torture chambers, and drones—the interests and functioning of the system. The workings and institutions of this system push all kinds of poisonous relations between people, and ideas—like white supremacy, male supremacy, xenophobia (irrational hatred of people from “outside” the U.S.), and a “me first” outlook in a million forms. And these are not “problems”—these are horrors that go on generation after generation, horrors that are “baked into” how capitalism-imperialism in the U.S. functions.
And what is a revolution, a real revolution? As we say on this site, “An actual revolution is a lot more than a protest. An actual revolution requires that millions of people get involved, in an organized way, in a determined fight to dismantle this state apparatus and system and replace it with a completely different state apparatus and system, a whole different way of organizing society, with completely different objectives and ways of life for the people. Fighting the power today has to help build and develop and organize the fight for the whole thing, for an actual revolution. Otherwise we’ll be protesting the same abuses generations from now!”
In the New Year’s Message delivered at the beginning of 2014, but at least as timely today, Bob Avakian said:
Revolution is not an impossible dream. It is not “unrealistic.” Changing all of society, changing the whole world, is not a crazy or dangerous idea. What is crazy, and dangerous, is going along with the way things are, and where things are heading, under this system. Revolution—a radical change in how society works, how we relate as human beings, what our values are, how we understand the world and act to affect it—this is what we, what people all over the world, desperately need. And it is a lot more realistic than trying to “fix” this system. (See “This is Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, with a New Year’s message—A Call To REVOLUTION” at www.revcom.us.)
Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal. And based on that, there is a Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). This is a blueprint for a new and totally different state power. It is as serious as it is liberating, and anyone serious about real change needs to get into it deeply and work to make it a point of societal debate (including in contrast to the constitution drafted by slave masters and Indian killers that defines what “rights” people in this country have today).
Revolution is the first step in a complex and long historic journey to uproot all oppression. And this is a lot of what the Constitution deals with. But there are basic and urgent things that CAN and WILL be done on day one.
Day 1 after the revolution comes to power... NO MORE U.S. wars of aggression for empire around the world. The New Socialist Republic in North America will dismantle all remaining bases of the former imperialist USA in other countries. It will renounce all treaties and agreements, military and otherwise, that were imposed by that imperialist state on other countries and peoples or served to enforce the domination of the imperialist USA. The revolutionary society will dismantle and refuse to use nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction and ways of fighting that served the goals and mentality of the old system. No more torture. The new revolutionary military will defend the new socialist society, and its role will be defined by the needs of humanity and the world revolution against all oppression, not the domination of empire.
Day 1 after the revolution comes to power... The old police forces that prey upon the people today will have been defeated, demolished, and dismantled. The new forces dedicated to public security and safety of the new society will not be an occupying army. They will cherish and value the lives of the people. For some time, as people transform how they relate to each other and think, there will still be some crime—but this will be addressed in a whole different way. As Bob Avakian has written, “...we would sooner have one of our own people’s police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re actually trying to be a servant of the people.” People’s rights will be protected and defended by the new revolutionary state, including the right to dissent and protest against the revolution. Murder by police, judicial cover-ups, and the “blue wall of silence”—all that will be history. And that’s Day 1 of the new society.
Clip from REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN
Day 1 after the revolution comes to power... Every woman everywhere in the new state will have the right to legal abortion—on demand and without apology or a need to explain her decision to anyone. Doctors and nurses will be mobilized to make safe abortion accessible, including in parts of the country or communities where access to abortion is difficult or impossible today. Woman-hating maniacs will not be allowed to terrorize or attack women getting abortions. Birth control options will be readily available to any woman wanting them.
Day 1 after the revolution comes to power... Persecution of immigrants will end. Everyone living in what was formerly the United States, with the exception of people found guilty of war crimes or other crimes against humanity, will be full citizens of the new socialist republic, regardless of where they were born. The experiences and insights of people driven from their homelands by the workings of capitalism-imperialism will be welcomed into the process of continuously transforming and revolutionizing society. And the new society will have humane and welcoming asylum policies—towards those persecuted for being part of just struggles against oppression or because scientific, artistic, or other pursuits have brought them into conflict with reactionary powers and institutions.
Confronting and beginning to address the climate and environmental emergency is something that can only be solved on a global scale, and will be a serious and protracted struggle. But it is important not to underestimate how much the revolutionary seizure of power in the U.S.—one of the countries most responsible for environmental devastation—would be a game change in the global battle to save the planet. This includes seriously beginning to break with the fossil fuel-based economy and struggling to transform consumerist ideology.
All these immediate steps—“Day 1”—will make a day-and-night difference in the society people live in. At the same time, these steps will be made in the context of a socialist state which, as the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America says, “would embody, institutionalize and promote radically different relations and values among people; a socialist state whose final and fundamental aim would be to achieve, together with the revolutionary struggle throughout the world, the emancipation of humanity as a whole and the opening of a whole new epoch in human history—communism—with the final abolition of all exploitative and oppressive relations among human beings and the destructive antagonistic conflicts to which these relations give rise.”
THIS is something worth living, dying, and fighting for. Get into this revolution—the materials you need to do that are here on this website, www.revcom.us, and in Revolution newspaper..
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 15, a program at Revolution Books in Harlem, New York City—The Abortion Rights Emergency—STOP the War on Women!—featured a panel with Merle Hoffman (CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center, which began doing abortions in 1971, and author of Intimate Wars: The Life and Times of the Woman Who Brought Abortion from the Back Alley to the Board Room); Sunsara Taylor (writer for Revolution/revcom.us and initiator of StopPatriarchy.org); and Sikivu Hutchinson (feminist atheist activist and author of Godless Americana: Race and Religious Rebels and Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and the Values Wars). The following is the transcript of Sunsara Taylor’s remarks.
Last Wednesday [December 9], a woman from Tennessee, Anna Yocca, was arrested and charged with first-degree attempted murder. This, after she was rushed to the hospital, bleeding profusely, her life in danger. The state alleges that she had attempted to use a coat hanger to self-abort her pregnancy. According to the news, Yocca was 24 weeks pregnant and her alleged self-abortion did not work. The fetus was still alive. But when she got to the hospital, instead of recognizing the fundamental right of every woman to decide for herself when and whether to have a child and assisting her in an abortion, which should have been available to her safely in the first place, the hospital removed the fetus and put it on life support—forcing her to become a mother against her will. Then, instead of prioritizing the safety and privacy of this patient, the hospital turned her over to the criminal justice system.
Finally, instead of recognizing that the severe restrictions and shame heaped on abortion in Tennessee and around this country have created a situation where women are once again resorting to the coat hanger—a method that claimed the lives of thousands of women before abortion was made legal (and rightly, and in large part due to the clarity and moral courage of Merle Hoffman, the coat hanger has become a symbol, an infamous symbol, of those horrendous days when abortion was illegal)—instead of looking at this situation and seeing that the crime was attempted murder by the state of Anna Yocca for putting her in this situation, the state instead charged her with murder!
As we speak, she sits in jail, and this is a precedent, a legal precedent, that can be used against many, many women.
Now we could spend hours detailing the cases of other women like this, and you’ve heard of some others, both in this country and around the world. And we could spend hours more detailing the violence and terror against abortion providers—including the murders at Planned Parenthood recently in Colorado. We could talk about—and Sikivu mentioned this and I’ll touch on it briefly right now—the poisonous campaign targeting Black women in particular, comparing them, if they get abortions, to the lynch mobs that murdered Black people—a campaign that at the same time vilifies Black women, belittles lynching, further demonizes abortion for all women, and views Black women the same way the slave masters did, by the way, as nothing more than breeding machines. We could talk about the particular challenges to immigrant women—especially those without papers, to young women, or we could examine the way even the most privileged women are oppressed when abortion is criminalized...
But instead, I refer you to the many things I and others have written about this at revcom.us, to the many books, including those by the two speakers tonight, available here at Revolution Books, and urge you to learn more.
I want to address a question that is beneath the core of all of this—the question of WHY? Why are these laws being passed? Why do politicians knowingly use this hateful rhetoric that whips up terrorists? Why do they spread lies? Why do they do things like oppose birth control and sex education that would actually reduce the rate of abortion? Why do people who claim to be about “life” go on killing sprees? WHY?
I think the most important thing to understand in all this is something recently said by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. He wrote: “Unbelievable as it may seem, in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children, regardless of the situation, the feelings, and the better judgment of those women themselves. That is a way of enslaving women to the dictates of an oppressive male supremacist, patriarchal system; and that is what the cruel fanatics who are determined to deny women the right to abortion are really all about.”
Years ago, in his book Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones, Bob Avakian wrote further about this (and I witnessed this directly myself for the first time 20 years ago in North Dakota and many times since): anti-abortion fanatics praying, “Lord, please break this curse of independence that has afflicted women.” This fight has never been about “babies.” Fetuses are NOT babies. This fight is about controlling and enslaving women.
Now, the fact that after the tremendous struggle of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s and 1970s, which is what it took to win this right, this kind of hatred of women is back with such a vengeance—and as Merle spoke to, this has been ongoing for decades, an escalating emergency—the fact that this is back is but one indication that patriarchy and male supremacy is woven deeply into the system of capitalism that we live under. It cannot be reformed away. We need a revolution.
By revolution I don’t mean a bunch of protests or political upheaval. I am not talking about replacing who is in power within the same basic setup. I am talking about overturning and putting an end to capitalism-imperialism, to its armies and its courts, its unjust laws and murderous police, and bringing into being a new, revolutionary state power—a socialist state in transition to a communist world. Revolution is needed to liberate women from not only this form of enslavement, but also from the epidemic of rape and sexual violence, the beatings and abuse, the trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves throughout the world, including in this country, the degradation and dehumanization of pornography, and the many other crimes of this system; the rampant police murder directed especially against Black and Brown people; the war on immigrants; the destruction of the environment, and the horrendous and escalating nightmare of what the U.S. does around the world, its imperialist drones and occupation, wars and torture, all of which fuel and reinforce Islamic fundamentalism and all the reactionary and enslaving forms of that against women and others, as well. We need a revolution.
And it is very fortunate for humanity that someone has done the work to develop the scientific understanding of how this can be done and is leading this. That person is Bob Avakian. The scope of the work he has done to develop the strategy for revolution, the vision of a new society, and the scientific method needed to carry this forward goes beyond what I can address in these brief remarks. But everyone who is serious about liberation has a responsibility to get deeply into his work and to help make it known to others. Go to revcom.us, get the book BAsics, come regularly to this bookstore, Revolution Books. And particularly germane to this evening’s topic and discussion is the compendium, Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution, where he breaks new ground on how the liberation of women and the fight for the liberation of women is and must be a driving force in making a revolution to emancipate all of humanity.
Before concluding, I want to raise two final things—which draw on this body of work and which I think are essential for defeating the war on women.
First, the Bible taken literally is a horror. The Bible commands that non-virgin brides be stoned to death, that gays and lesbians be killed. It upholds slavery, and blames women for supposedly causing the downfall of man by eating the so-called forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. In this way women are blamed for everything bad that has ever happened—and told, in the book of Timothy, that they can only redeem themselves by obeying their husbands and having children. This horrendous stuff is in the Bible because it was written by human beings who lived in patriarchal, slave-owning societies before science, and the moral codes they dreamed up reflected those oppressive societies. But this Dark Ages stuff sits at the core of the anti-abortion movement, and it is time we start taking this on head on. The fact is: god does not exist, and it is a very good thing that that is true. But even if you believe in god—and I know there are a lot of people who support abortion rights who do, and I am happy to stand with them—but even if you believe in god, we all must agree that the Bible taken literally is a horror and this kind of Christian fascist biblical literalism must be taken on, not tolerated or compromised with.
Second, we cannot defeat this war on women by relying on the structures of this system—their elections, politicians, the Democratic Party, or the courts. These are all part of a system that needs patriarchy, and they repeatedly compromise with and cede the moral high ground to the fascists—talking about how abortion is a tragedy or should be rare, as if there is something wrong with abortion. Never calling out these fascists for the woman-haters they are or challenging their fascist biblical literalism. Relying on them is how we’ve gotten into this mess, where yesterday’s outrage over and over again becomes today’s compromise position and tomorrow’s limit of what can be imagined. We need to get OUT of this dynamic. We must change the terms—saying and acting on what no politician will say: Forced motherhood is female enslavement. Abortion must be available on demand and without apology.
We must rely on ourselves and we must put ourselves on the line. Right now, this means mobilizing to be in Washington, DC, and San Francisco this January for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, to show our strength and our determination. To stand up and say we will not accept slavery in any form. To do this right in the face of thousands of anti-abortion fanatics who march every year. This is how we change ourselves. This is how we change the thinking and challenge the passivity of millions of others—and call them forward to join us. This is how we beat back the vicious attacks on women from the halls of power and the fascists on the street. I and the Revolutionary Communist Party are all in and will be doing this as part of getting ready for revolution—just as we recognize the need for and are proud to stand with people who come from very different perspectives, like those on this panel with me tonight, who see from their own lives and experiences the great importance of this fight for the future of women.
Wherever you are at in this process, join with us. Become part of StopPatriarchy.org—the full name being End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women—which brings together people from many different perspectives to fight this together. Get your own organization or group involved. Give money to support this work! Stand up. The future of women is being fought out and it’s going to be decided. I know the emergency has been building for years, but things like this don’t stay two-sided forever. One side or the other is going to win, and the scales are tipping the wrong way. It’s not a time to be on the sidelines. It’s not a time to be demoralized. There is a tremendous potential to wake up millions and reverse this whole direction. Which future we get is up to each of us.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 5, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From Sunsara Taylor
Unbelievable as it may seem, in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children, regardless of the situation, the feelings, and the better judgment of those women themselves. That is a way of enslaving women to the dictates of an oppressive male supremacist, patriarchal system; and that is what the cruel fanatics who are determined to deny women the right to abortion are really all about.
A CALL: Print and get out cards of the above quote from Bob Avakian all over – especially onto the campuses, into the projects and neighborhoods of the oppressed, at gatherings around abortion and reproductive rights, as well as to many places beyond.
A few thoughts of appreciation for this statement and how much it stands out:
Bob Avakian published this statement just over a week before the recent murderous rampage at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado, but his statement stands out all the more poignantly and urgently now. Avakian puts his finger right on the central nerve of what the entire fight over abortion is and has always been about: whether women will be enslaved to a male-supremacist, patriarchal system or whether women will be liberated, treated and viewed as full human beings. This – and nothing else – is what is at stake.
Yet, it is astounding how little this is being recognized or spoken to by others – including a great many who really ought to know better.
A few have pointed out how the lies that have been spread against Planned Parenthood and the ongoing demonization of abortion is what set the stage for this kind of crazed, murderous attack. This is true and important, but it doesn't speak to WHY these lies are told or WHY abortion is being demonized and restricted in the first place. And this doesn't even begin to give people an understanding of the full dimension of what is at stake which is not merely whether there will be violence at clinics (as important as that is) but whether half of humanity will be enslaved or liberated.
Others, especially on Twitter, have pointed to the discrepancy between the deadly violence routinely used by police against unarmed Black people and the way the police chose to take this white murderer alive. This certainly is yet another exposure of the completely illegitimate police terror and murder of Black and Brown people. And it is urgent this police terror and murder be fought! But, if that is all you have to say about this murderous rampage on Planned Parenthood – you are missing the fucking point. Worse, you are leading others to miss the point. There is an actual war raging against women and when a gun-man goes on a killing spree motivated by fanatical anti-abortion beliefs, this is a part of that war on women. This needs to be named, it needs to be confronted, and millions need to be rallied right now to stand up against it and STOP IT.
Thank you, Bob Avakian, for doing that naming and leading a Party that is serious about uniting all who can be united to stand up and stop this!
As BA has pointed out numerous times, one of the ways you can tell that the assault on abortion is really about enslaving women to the dictates of a male-supremacist, patriarchal system is that the entire anti-abortion movement is also against birth control. In their large numbers they are motivated by a literal interpretation of the Bible, which mandates that women submit to men and bear children in order to “redeem” themselves for allegedly causing “original sin.” And, beyond those who are motivated by a fascist literal interpretation of the Bible, those in power in this country who are slamming in anti-abortion legislation, forcing abortion clinics to close, taking birth control out of reach of growing numbers of women, and shaming women who choose abortion – as well as those in power who conciliate and compromise with this fascist agenda, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – are proceeding from the interests and the dictates of that very male-supremacist, patriarchal system. This is why none of them can be relied on to speak to the heart of this matter or bring forward the kind of massive resistance and fight necessary to defeat this war on women.
In his many other works – like Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, as well as in his compendium, Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution – BA goes deeply into all of this. He does this in the service of leading people to make an actual revolution to put an end to this system that enslaves women and causes so many other needless horrors for the masses of people, including the genocidal oppression of Black people, the destruction of the environment, the wars for empire, and the terror inflicted on immigrants. This is something many, many more people need to be introduced to right now and many people need to be digging deeply into and making real in the world.
Getting this quote out in large quantities, together with getting out the word about revcom.us, is a very important way of right now changing the terms of the fight around abortion and of introducing more people to the leadership of BA that is needed to truly get free.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
Interview with Stop Patriarchy Student Activist
December 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 5, Revolution caught up with Luna, a student activist with Stop Patriarchy. This is a transcript of our conversation.
Revolution: You are wearing bloody pants to school to make a statement and provoke people to act around the assault on abortion rights. So we want to hear all about that. What is the message? What kind of response you’ve gotten? What inspired you or compelled you to do this? And how does this fit into the upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wade and actions in support of abortion rights on that day? But let’s start with what it is you are doing.
Luna: So, as you said, I’ve been wearing bloody pants to school every day that I go to school, which is four days a week. And I’ve been doing it for the past three weeks now and what that looks like is—I don’t wear them on the way to school because I don’t want people to like bother me on the subway or anything or follow me or whatnot. Especially in the situation where now there is a lot of violence against abortion activists as we’ve seen.
But I get to school and I walk in, I go into the lobby and I pull out my bloody pants, which are a pair of white medical pants that Stop Patriarchy bought en masse for our July 1 Abortion Rights Rally that we had last summer and we spray painted them with red spray paint one night. So it looks like there’s blood in the crotch area and it’s dripping down the legs and it’s supposed to be like, what’s the word, a very dramatic response. So it’s not really accurate to what abortions really look like, it’s supposed to captivate you and draw your attention in. And so since I’ve been wearing them I’ve been getting some very interesting responses.
Protest in Union Square, New York City, July 1—part of national actions to stop the assault on abortion rights. Photos: Special to revcom.us
Revolution: Maybe if we can just to go back to the symbolism, the point is to dramatize what happens when women do not have access to safe, legal abortion—say a woman in Texas who doesn’t have the means to travel hundreds of miles...
Luna: Yeah, it’s meant to show what it looks like when women don’t have access to abortion. And when they don’t have access they self-induce in unsafe scenarios where they could potentially lose their lives. And we have statistics of what it looked like when abortion was illegal in this country. ... We hear stories of clinics or hospitals where lobbies were filled with women every night. We don’t want to be put back to that time, but we are. We are being put back to that.
As you said, in Texas women travel hundreds of miles, have to take off work for days, find babysitters for the children that they already have, there are waiting periods—all this added stress or whatnot. What’s easier for them, for a lot of women, is to self-induce, to take up the proverbial coat hanger and to do it themselves. And that is terrifying and that’s what—when I wear these bloody pants—it looks like. That’s what is supposed to being brought across. Women shouldn’t be forced to be in this position again where they have bloody pants on, you know.
And that’s why it’s so important that I’m wearing these every day that I go to school until the end of the semester—to get people to wake up because people don’t realize. I talk to kids in school and they don’t realize the extreme situation that abortion rights are in. They know Roe v. Wade was passed 40 odd years ago and they just know it’s legal. Yeah, but there’s no access to it because clinics have been shutting down, an average of one every one and a half weeks now. That’s the rate at which it’s going. Texas is an easy case to point to in terms of how much it’s accelerated. You look at Texas in 2013, they had 40 clinics. The HB2 law1 was passed there, and the number of clinics dropped down to about 20, and now if it’s upheld by the Supreme Court in the coming months it’ll be dropped down to nine. It’ll be setting a precedent for more clinics across the South, and not just the South, but across the entire country. Laws like this are setting these standards that clinics have to live up to, where the burden is on the clinics to meet these medical standards that have been proven not to mean anything. It does not need to be a mini-medical center to do a simple outpatient procedure such as a first trimester abortion. And yet these politicians are passing all these laws that are making it so that that’s what it needs to be—this standard which is burdensome on the provider and on the woman because the provider shuts down and the woman has the burden of trying to find access elsewhere.
And this all culminates in this whole right wing assault on women’s right to live their own lives, to decide when and how to be mothers and if they even want to become mothers period. And it’s outrageous, and it’s driven me to work with Stop Patriarchy. And when we decided to do the protest against the so-called “March for Life,” it’s what drove us to come up with this idea to wear these bloody pants every day, to go to school in them, and to make this statement. There’s a lot of potential for college students to come out on this and to mobilize on this en masse to stand up around what is a fundamental right for women.
Revolution: There are some things I want to come back to, including the larger picture that this is all a part of and the importance of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the mobilization every year of anti-abortion fanatics—really anti-women fanatics, let’s call it what it is. But before we get to that, maybe you can talk a little bit about... I’m sure our readers are curious about the response you get.
Luna: So since I’ve been wearing the pants a lot of people just stare at me, they’re not really sure what’s going on. The first day that I actually wore them, it’s kind of a funny story—I wear them and I’m aware of why I’m wearing them. But I go to class and the class goes by and at the end of class I walk out and this girl from my class runs up to me down the hallway and taps me on the shoulder and she goes, we have an emergency. And I’m like, oh my gosh, like what’s going on, I thought someone in my class had an accident, I don’t know. And she goes, it looks like you had a medical emergency, it’s going to be OK, I just want to warn you. She thought I was like hemorrhaging or something. And I was like, oh, no, no, no. And then I explained why I was wearing the pants. And she was like oh, I don’t know, I’ve worn white pants and like when I’ve gotten my period it looks like that, just not on that scale, so I just wasn’t sure. On the one hand, it’s great that she thought I was having a medical emergency and she came up and told me. On the other hand everyone else had seen me and whatever they thought, they just ignored me.
It was kind of funny ’cause then, after that I thought I should put something on the pants so that people know that I’m not having a medical emergency, but that people know it’s for abortion rights. I put the Abortion On Demand And Without Apology sticker on the pants so that people could read that and try to figure out what its all about.
But since then, now that I have the stickers on, people still stare at me. Today, actually this morning, when I went to school when I was wearing them in the elevator after everyone got out and it was just me and another young woman, she turned to me and she goes, do you need a tampon? And I was like, no this is actually for abortion rights, we’re going down to protest for Roe v. Wade, to protest the March for Life and stand up for abortion rights. And she was like, oh, and I handed her a flyer—and then she had to go to class. But a lot of people just ignore me. They’ll see the pants, some people have taken pictures of it, and then I’ll make eye contact with them and they’ll look away and they walk very fast. And it’s because like whatever they’re thinking, they’re thinking, oh wow, what is going on, or whatever it is, it’s something we can’t talk about. You see blood on someone’s pants, most people think it’s her period at first and it’s like we can’t talk about that, we can’t tell her that something’s gone wrong or something. And that ties in to the shame of a woman’s body in general, the shame of her reproductive organs and stuff.
But then on the opposite hand, I’m in a lot of very forward thinking classes so it’s a lot of people who are very open-minded in general, and they love it. Like, I walked into class early one day and this kid comes up and he goes, I love your pants. And then I was like, oh thanks, they’re for abortion rights. He said, that’s what I thought, they’re fantastic. And then I got into a discussion with the entire class about the emergency of abortion rights. And people were like, it’s crazy, like it’s actually outrageous like how backwards it’s getting.
All the kids in the class signed up, they gave me their numbers for reaching out to them about doing outreach and about how they can take this up themselves. It’s not something for just me. There’s this one girl that I know who is always like, oh, you’re such a great activist, you’re like my activist goals or whatever. And I’m like, yeah, it’s goals, but you can do this, I know you can, anyone can do this. If you think that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the way this country is handling abortion rights, then you can pick up these pants and you can put them on yourself. That scares a lot of people for whatever reasons, they’re very timid and they’re afraid to put themselves out there. But then you still see this hope, they’re like, oh, maybe I can do this, and like maybe I will do this, and then start people coming forward slowly but surely. But people are showing interest...
Revolution: I think you could maybe even pose to people, look people have somewhat gotten used to seeing me wearing these, but if more people started wearing them then they wouldn’t be able to just go about their business...
Luna: Yeah. Exactly. The second week that I wore them it was around the time that Mizzou was popping up and the Paris attacks had just happened and everything, and so there was a rally on my campus for that, where a few students had organized where they were going to be holding posters in solidarity with all the different things that were happening all around the world. And I showed up to it with my bloody pants. And this one girl was so amazed. She took a pair of pants right there. She was like... I was like, yeah, you know, if you want a pair you should take them, you should put them on, you should wear them. She was like, yeah, give me, I’m going to do it. She said I’m leaving out of the country for the next week and a half, but once I come back from Thanksgiving break I’m going to put them on. I haven’t run into her yet, but apparently she has been wearing them, which is very fantastic. The minute she saw me and the minute I explained what it was about, there was no hesitation, right away it was like this makes sense, this is what needs to be done. Which is what needs to be more of the attitude of people who consider themselves pro-choice and everything.
One thing we like to talk about when we go out and do outreach—and a lot of times we wear the bloody pants when we do outreach—is that it’s no longer good enough to just be giving a thumbs up, you know people who just smile and like I’m with you and walk away. It’s no longer good enough to be liking it on Instagram and Facebook. We’re in a situation right now where there needs to be mass political resistance, where people are in the streets saying this is not all right, that these clinics closing at a rate of one every one and half weeks is not OK. People need to stand up right now because if they don’t it’s going to be too late. And frankly it is almost too late.
Just yesterday, the Senate voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Just yesterday. And I’m sure Obama will veto it, but it’s still setting this precedent, right? It’s still setting this tone that women’s lives don’t matter, not in this country, not around the world, frankly either.
Revolution: Except maybe as baby-machines...
Luna: Yeah, exactly, to be controlled, to keep reproducing, to be slaves to their reproductive system. Beyond that, their lives don’t matter.
Revolution: When you were saying it’s not enough to like this on Facebook, it’s interesting because that’s kind of like a theme of the activists in Rise Up October against police terror, when they speak...
Luna: There’s such amazing work done from Rise Up October. So much to be learned from it, too, about how we handled going out into communities and getting people to mobilize for this and this question of which side are you on—it can be used for this too. Like, if you’re not standing up for women’s rights, for a woman to make her own decision about her own body, and then you’re on the other side. There are lines being drawn on this subject of abortion rights and on the subject of police brutality and police terror and murder. And it’s not good enough to just be sitting on the line and kind of... but this, but that, but, but, but. It’s not good enough to just be calling out on your social media sites, calling out the atrocities that are happening in this country and everything. It’s just not good enough anymore. Because look where it’s gotten us. Have things really changed?
Abortion rights are on a downhill slide right now. And it’s only getting worse if people don’t stand up for what is really a fundamental right for women to decide. Like I’ve met lots of people who are like Catholic and everything. Literally I met two people back to back the other day while I was doing outreach. One woman, I was like... I asked, what do you think about abortion rights? And she goes, well, I’m Catholic. What’s that supposed to answer for me? And then another woman right afterwards, she goes, I’m Catholic but I understand it’s a woman’s decision and I’m going to fight for that. And it was back to back, and it’s like these two different ideas about what it means to be religious. Is your religion going to hinder people from living their lives or is it just going to be something that you practice yourself?
Revolution: I think that’s interesting and important and it speaks to what you’re saying—there’s a challenge to draw a line in society, where Catholic or whatever—right is right, wrong is wrong. As we’re talking, it makes me think about that quote from Bob Avakian that we have been promoting at revcom2 about how incredible it is in this day and age there’s actually these forces who want to drive women back and that poses some bigger questions about what kind of world we’re living in and what kind of society we’re living in, what’s wrong with it.
I want to come back to the importance of drawing a broad dividing line in society around abortion rights, and protesting on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. But maybe before we get to that you could talk about how you’ve been exploring the root causes of women’s oppression, how it connects with some of these other forms of oppression, what changes you’ve gone through, and how you see changing things.
Luna: So, it’s kind of crazy. There’s a point when I was growing up, I was a Republican, right, my parents were—like what is good for our family, all that stuff. And I was in the Young Republicans in high school, like hard core believing that this is what’s right and everything. Maybe I wasn’t very religious, but like I was very much into politics and it was something that I loved to learn about and argue about.
Revolution: We were talking about that off the tape, how you were raised with a kind of mainstream Republican outlook in a Hispanic family, and later you identified as a “fiscal conservative, social liberal” Republican who was against “big government.” But things going on in the world cut the ground out from under that—including that the Republicans got so fascist. And it is interesting that when you started to question that, you started to explore alternatives outside the whole Republican/Democrat thing and get into the movement for revolution. I’m interested in how that happened—in part because it would be good to get more people to do that!
Luna: When I got into college everything kind of got thrown out the window. It was like: I don’t know what I like anymore. I don’t know anything really for sure. And then some stuff happens, I move from the school I was at in DC, take a year off, then I move up here to New York. And by coincidence, like through a friend, met the Revolution Books store, Stop Patriarchy, SMIN, the Revolution Club, the Party—the RCP. And just like, it was like a whole opening. I always knew that I kind of wanted to do activist work, but when I was in DC none of my friends ever wanted to come to protests with me or anything like that. And so it was like, oh, whatever. And then I came here and like April 14 happens and then after that there’s all this real bursting of stuff happening in New York around police brutality; it goes before that obviously, but when I came that’s when I kind of got more involved. And then I went down to Baltimore after Freddie Gray was murdered.
Revolution: Was that on your own?
Luna: With SMIN and the Revolution Club. I went with my friend and her sister. And it was just like so eye-opening ’cause I met Travis Morales and we were digging into BA (Bob Avakian) and all this stuff, and it was like a whole new world. And I’m like skeptical on this or not, ’cause like I was brought up on this idea—America is great, America is great, America is great. You know, government, you just got to get the right people in politics and all this stuff. And then that all had to be thrown out the window—like which I had already started seeing, you know, the breaks in it beforehand. But to have, like, a real explanation of it laid out nicely and, like, understandably through BA and BAsics and everything. It was just like, oh my gosh! It completely opened my eyes to so many different things. Like I would have never—I didn’t have an understanding of capitalism before that, or the roots of the oppression of Black people and women through patriarchy. These were words I’d heard before—but it was like what does that mean? I blocked out the understanding of it, and the true understanding of it too. And so I got involved and the minute I heard about Stop Patriarchy, I was, like, I want to be in that, I want to be a part of that. And so for the entire summer I got more and more involved.
And one of the really cool things that we did through the summer was Sunsara Taylor held a four-part session about the oppression of women and the roots of it. It all stemmed because a group of us were having a discussion one night and someone posed, like, where did the oppression of women come from? And we were trying to grapple with it, like, well did it come from this, and it wasn’t always around, and we were trying to figure it out. And we kind of came to the conclusion that with the emergence of the division of labor, you know masters and slaves, and everything, the division, the root of the oppression of women came about—maybe I’m not saying this correctly, maybe I still don’t have a full understanding of it. But then we had this four-part session and it was amazing to really dig into the roots of the oppression of women and where it comes from and how with the rise of patriarchy and with the rise of capitalism patriarchy rose even more and like how everything is so intertwined.
And BA has this quote, you can’t break all the chains except one, you can’t expect to free everyone but keep women oppressed3. And it’s so beautiful and it’s so true because the oppression of women goes so, so deep and it’s so, like,in every single significant sphere of life—like from a woman and her body, a woman at home, labor and everything. It’s everywhere. And to recognize that as a pillar of why this society is the way it is, along with the pillars of the oppression of Black and Brown people. It’s just something that I’ve never heard before. You see it on a daily basis when you go about your life—the little micro oppressions against women, like being at home. Like every Thanksgiving, who’s always in the kitchen cooking in my family? It’s the women. And we have a picture of it—the men are sitting down watching the football game and the women are in the kitchen doing the cooking.
Revolution: And for that matter, what’s Thanksgiving all about anyway?
Luna: Yeah, that’s a whole conversation! And it’s just like, I don’t know, from the cleaning duties that my mom assigned us growing up—like the girls were always in the house cleaning and the men were doing the hard labor outside. And you look around and it’s like, oh my gosh, like, it’s something that is so subtle and they might not be the big outward violence against women, which does happen in America and around the world. But it goes so much deeper than that. So much beyond what people recognize.
And it’s just recognizing that, and seeing it changed my way of thinking and continues to because you’re constantly learning more. You dig into this stuff and it just makes you more and more angry!
On the last Roe v. Wade anniversary, January 22, 2015, courageous protesters demanding "Abortion on demand and without apology!" STOPPED the anti-abortion “March for Life," in Washington, DC. The protests on the next Roe v. Wade anniversary, January 22-23, 2016, must be even more powerful. Photo: Stop Patriarchy
And more and more want to go out on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, where every year since the first year after it was passed the “March for Life” has been going out there and spewing literal woman-hatred and getting the ears of politicians and the people where they make the laws that affect everyone’s lives. They go out there and they ship young kids who don’t know any better in from all over the country. And this happens every year and up until last year no one had ever put a stop to it. No one had ever put their bodies on the line and said this is not right—you do not have the moral high ground, you do not have the grounds to be spewing this hatred—until Stop Patriarchy did it last year, which was beautiful.
And this year, almost more importantly, we need people to come out to this because just what has happened within this past year, from the release of the fake tapes about Planned Parenthood about fetal body parts, to the attacks that have been happening the past few months, the most recent where they literally killed three people, three people died because they were just at an abortion clinic. You can’t separate that demand from the right-wing politicians who are spewing the hatred that he [the shooter] listens to—where he was mumbling about baby parts. It’s all connected.
And that’s why more than ever we need to go down to DC on January 22 to stand up for what is a right for women. If women don’t have this right they are enslaved to their bodies. And if they don’t have this right, women’s lives are at risk in so many different ways. They get locked in relationships that might be abusive or that they don’t want to be in. Their lives are, as so many people say, foreclosed on. They have a child, they can’t pursue their dreams. I think about my relatives or whatever, like my mom. She was going to go to college, she had a kid at 19 and then had seven more. What would her life had been if she had decided to have an abortion? Like, where would she be today? And people always quote this argument, but you wouldn’t be here today. It’s like, well then someone else would be in my place. Because this is a fundamental right for women and this is what is worth fighting over. If it’s not me, then it needs to be somebody else.
And there’s the question that was posed during Rise Up October of drawing the lines and everything, but also—if not now, when? And if not you, then who? Like you recognize that this is a problem, right? But you’re not going to act on that? That makes you no better than the people committing these horrendous crimes. And people get angry when you say that to them. When you say, you know what, you’re no better than the ones killing women and killing Black and Brown people if you’re not speaking up against it. Because when you don’t speak up, people don’t know what you’re thinking, people don’t know that you’re secretly supporting it with the money that you have. And we need masses amount of people!
Revolution: That’s an important point to end on—the need to stand up to the women-haters on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in DC on January 22. And people can find out about how to get involved at stoppatriarchy.org and at our website, revcom.us!
2. “Unbelievable as it may seem, in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children, regardless of the situation, the feelings, and the better judgment of those women themselves. That is a way of enslaving women to the dictates of an oppressive male supremacist, patriarchal system; and that is what the cruel fanatics who are determined to deny women the right to abortion are really all about.” (from Bob Avakian, “ON ‘PRINCIPLED COMPROMISES,’ AND OTHER CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY”) [back]
3. “You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can't say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution.” (Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:22) [back]
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
by Sunsara Taylor | December 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 11, Anna Yocca was arrested after rushing to a hospital in Tennessee because she was bleeding so profusely she feared for her health and quite possibly her life. Why was she bleeding? The state of Tennessee alleges that she attempted to self-induce an abortion with a wire coat hanger. If this is true, it is the state of Tennessee and the web of anti-abortion laws, terror, and shame across the U.S. that are guilty of attempted murder against her, for forcing Anna Yocca and thousands of other women into situations where they are willing to risk their lives to self-induce abortions. Yet, outrageously, the very state and patriarchal system that nearly murdered Yocca is now charging her with first-degree attempted murder.
The truth is: Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. And women, no matter what the state of Tennessee, the Bible, or any other patriarchal “authority” says, are NOT incubators!
Women must have the right to decide for themselves when and whether to have a child, or they cannot be free. As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, recently put it, “Unbelievable as it may seem, in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children, regardless of the situation, the feelings, and the better judgment of those women themselves. That is a way of enslaving women to the dictates of an oppressive male supremacist, patriarchal system; and that is what the cruel fanatics who are determined to deny women the right to abortion are really all about.”
Any system that would not only deprive women of the ability to access abortion and birth control without stigma, restriction, and threat of violence, but then arrest and imprison the very women whose lives they have put in danger is completely illegitimate and has no right to rule. That these enslaving restrictions on women’s reproductive freedom are back, with an even more punitive and criminalizing vengeance, in 2015 is but one indication of the fact that this system cannot be reformed and must be gotten rid of through an actual revolution. Bob Avakian has developed the strategy, the vision, and the thoroughly scientific approach for the revolution we need, for how the masses of people can rise up and actually win a revolution, and for this revolution to bring into being a new revolutionary society that truly puts an end to slavery in every form and all around the world.
Everyone who wants to finally be free of the thousands of years of tradition’s chains that continue to bind and enslave women, everyone who wants to put an end to slavery in every form, needs to get into and take up the leadership Bob Avakian is providing. As we do, we must stand up and fight back against the growing war on women here and all over the world. We must demand that the charges be dropped against Anna Yocca and all others who have been desperate enough to allegedly attempt to self-induce an abortion. We must join in and mobilize many, many others to stand up in major demonstrations for Abortion On Demand and Without Apology initiated by End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women (StopPatriarchy.org) this January 22/23 in Washington, DC and San Francisco. We must oppose slavery in every form!
Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!
Break ALL the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!
Revolution/revcom.us received the following online comment on this piece from Pat McGinnis, a steadfast fighter for abortion rights since 1959, when she distributed literature on street corners in San Francisco to demand an end to all abortion laws:
"Thank you Sunsara and Revolution for covering this critical, sad event. A woman tries to protect herself from inadvertent and untimely parenthood and is denied the proper means for same by callous greedy politically motivated clergy and politicians. That this ruthless system can be used to condemn women to prison, thus ruining their lives, is an insult to all women and a costly mis-use of taxpayer funds."
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Download PDF for print. Can be printed 1-sided with the statement, or 2-sided wih statement, ads and room for local address.
November 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Break ALL the Chains!
Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution
* Writing in the New York Times “Book Review” section (Sunday, October 25, 2015), speaking about the convention in 1787 that “led to the creation of the United States Constitution,” Robert E. Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton, actually says the following:
“Disagreements about the extent of federal power and the design of our democratic institutions were resolved through long arguments and, ultimately, principled compromises.” (Emphasis added)
Principled compromises?! The founding of this country on the basis of institutionalizing slavery—officially establishing the “right” to own slaves, and the status of slaves as less than human, in its founding Constitution—that is a “principled compromise” in the eyes of a present-day representative and functionary of the ruling class of this country. And the fact is that no major politician and no other significant representative of this ruling class will, or can, denounce this country, since its very founding, and denounce its “founders,” in the terms in which they deserve to be denounced: monstrously criminal. If founding a country on the basis of institutionalizing slavery is not a monstrous crime, what is? The fact that no significant representative and functionary of this system, in this country, can recognize and acknowledge this as a monstrous crime—and instead they all uphold as “great men” those, like Thomas Jefferson, who founded a country on the basis of this monstrous crime, and who perpetuated this crime for generations—that gets to the very core of what this system is all about and why there is a great need to put an end to this system at the earliest possible time, and replace it with a system that has no need, no place, and no apology for slavery in any form.
* Unbelievable as it may seem, in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children, regardless of the situation, the feelings, and the better judgment of those women themselves. That is a way of enslaving women to the dictates of an oppressive male supremacist, patriarchal system; and that is what the cruel fanatics who are determined to deny women the right to abortion are really all about.
* On Elections: Choosing between oppressive rulers will not stop them from ruling over and oppressing you and committing horrific crimes against humanity. This is true of all the major presidential candidates, of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and it will be true of anyone who becomes president, or occupies any major political office, under this system. What supporting these people does accomplish is making you complicit with these crimes.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
An open letter to the signatories of the NY Times ad "Is This America?"
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 10, a full-page ad appeared in the New York Times under the headline, “IS THIS AMERICA?” with a large image of an American flag at half-mast in the background. The ad calls out:
A DANGEROUS TIDE OF HATRED, VIOLENCE, AND SUSPICION IS RISING IN AMERICA—WHETHER AIMED AT ARAB AND MUSLIM AMERICANS, WOMEN AND THE PLACES WE SEEK HEALTH CARE, BLACK PEOPLE, IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES, OR PEOPLE JUST GOING ABOUT THEIR DAILY LIVES (see the ad here).
Much of what is in the ad are good sentiments and a lot of what motivates the signers is positive. But this message comes wrapped—graphically and ideologically—in “America” and the American flag, a package that is not only not good but will lead you away from actually overcoming these forms of hatred and violence.
After all, what is “America” (the United States)?
This country and the “American way of life” are built on land stolen through genocide and on the backs of slaves kidnapped from Africa. It survives off vicious exploitation. It is enforced with a massive army that wreaks havoc and mayhem in places that you’ve heard about and places you probably haven’t.
In BAsics, Bob Avakian speaks to what this country is built on:
Now, of course, slavery was not the only factor that played a significant part in the emergence of the U.S. as a world power, whose economic strength underlies its massive military force. A major historical factor in all this was the theft of land, on a massive scale, from Mexico as well as from native peoples. But, in turn, much of that conquest of land was, for a long period of time up until the Civil War, largely to expand the slave system. “Remember the Alamo,” we are always reminded. Well, many of the “heroes” of the Alamo were slave traders and slave chasers....And expanding the slave system was a major aim of the overall war with Mexico, although that war also led to the westward expansion of the developing capitalist system centered in the northern United States. (BAsics 1:2)
The rulers of this country run a society in which terrible and dehumanizing violence has been the rule against Black and other people of color and women—since the founding, right up to today, changing only in its form, not its essence. And their “domestic tranquility” is enforced by the most massive, militarized police forces in the world and a prison system the likes of which history has never seen. Its heroes are genocidal Indian killers, slave owners, and war criminals. Is it any wonder that baked deep into the psyche of “the American people” are ideas and values that reflect that privilege and parasitism and that this repeatedly assumes violent forms?
The appeal of the ruling class to people to identify with them and their interests as “Americans” is based on lies about what the United States brings to the world. They say they bring democracy and freedom to the world but they bring sweatshops, slums, drones, and brutal regimes that enforce the whole setup.
And the appeal to identify with “America” is also based on the bribes and privileges doled out to sections of people in this country—a higher standard of living, and the right to post complaints on Facebook or for some sections of society to hold legal protests... sometimes. Even as all that is under assault, the idea that Americans are entitled to the perks that come from living in a country that sits at the top of a world of exploitation permeates large sections of society. But what’s so “exceptional” about all that? Nothing—at least nothing good! And what’s so great about living in a dog-eat-dog society of savage inequalities, where everything and everyone is measured as a commodity? It is both true and an essential moral stand to say American lives are not more important than other people’s lives.
Today it is definitely true that ugly, violent intolerance is being orchestrated by the rulers of the U.S. They do that as they confront challenges from reactionary rivals and forces around the world, and profound social contradictions, conflicts, and potential conflicts in their “homeland.” And they do it with the most disgusting appeals to patriotism. But why should anyone with a sense of what this country does to people here and around the world, and who can tell right from wrong, identify with “America” in any way, shape or form?
If you really DO want to see real change, don’t be getting into the Democratic Party, which basically sponsored this ad through its arm MOVEON, and which right down to today has carried out its “share” and more of the “hatred, violence, and suspicion” deplored by the ad. Their candidates, including both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, will tell you they stand for "USA Number One." The rulers of this country and all their politicians and propaganda machinery spread the lie that this country’s wars of empire are about “keeping Americans safe.” And they say nothing about, and cover up, how the United States terrorizes much of the planet with bombs, drones, and torturers.
Here’s a sobering truth:
If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are. (BAsics 3:12)
The way out of this madness is a revolution that will bring into being a whole different kind of state, one that will renounce—on day one—wars of empire; one that will bring into being a society where people learn to identify as citizens of the world instead of aspiring to lord it over the world. Where immediate steps will be taken to end the oppression of people who have been persecuted under this system—starting with an immediate end to terror and murder by police. This will be a society where immigrants will be welcomed as human beings and women will have a right, and as a priority greatly increased access, to safe legal abortion and birth control. And most of all, it will be about getting to a world free of exploitation and oppression of any kind.
There’s a basis for this revolution in the world today. But making an actual revolution, and having a revolution worth making in a country like the United States, is an extremely difficult challenge. It takes leadership with courage, determination, and science. That’s why it is so crucial that we have the leadership of Bob Avakian, and the Party he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party. As we say at our website: “Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.”
Everyone with a conscience does need to stand up to the ugly, dangerous tide of hatred, violence, and suspicion that is rising in this country. And continue to dig into why America REQUIRES intolerance and hatred for its functioning—and confront honestly what must really be done to root this out. And as a basic starting point: Stop thinking like Americans and start thinking about humanity!
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A Baltimore judge has declared a mistrial in the case of William Porter, the first cop brought to trial for the murder of Freddie Gray. Another cop involved in the death of a Black man at the hands of the police has walked free. This happens all the damned time. It is unacceptable and illegitimate. It is not justice, and it has to STOP!
We should live in a society where those entrusted with public security would sooner lose their own lives than kill or injure an innocent person. It'll take revolution, nothing less, to bring that kind of society into being. This kind of revolution is possible. Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), has spent decades developing a new synthesis of communism that points to how we could get rid of the system responsible for the savage oppression of Black people, and all the other horrors enforced on humanity—the attacks on immigrants, the subjugation of women, the wars for empire, and the destruction of the planet we live on—once and for all. And points to how we could bring into being the kind of world people would want to live in. If you want to see that better world, you need to dig into the work of Bob Avakian.
And if you have an ounce of justice in your heart, you need to join the fight to STOP police getting away with murder. This starts with insisting that Porter be retried. And for all the killer cops—the six who murdered Freddie Gray, the Chicago cops who murdered Laquan McDonald, the Seattle cops who murdered Chris Harris, the San Francisco cops who murdered Mario Woods, the Virginia jail guards who murdered Natasha McKenna, and ALL the rest—to be indicted, convicted and sent to jail.
Look at what the six cops did to Freddie Gray that night. Several chased him down like a runaway slave because he ran when he saw them. They beat him down so bad that one witness said he was “bent up like a pretzel” when the cops put him in the van. The van was a few minutes from the police station, yet these cops, joined by several other cops, drove Gray around for 45 minutes, stopping six times. Pigs in Baltimore call this giving them the “rough ride,” making fast starts and stops. This form of summary punishment has been documented to have killed—murdered—people in police custody. By the time the van had stopped the sixth time, Gray's spine was severed, and he was paralyzed. A week later he died. The Baltimore Sun described Porter’s so-called defense: "Prosecutors argued that Baltimore Police Department rules clearly require officers to seat-belt arrestees. Porter's lawyers argued that police rarely seat-belted prisoners..." And this was enough to get him a mistrial.
This is another example of the whole system going into motion to exonerate cops in the rare cases when their murderous deeds are so outrageous—and the people find it intolerable and go out into the streets, as they did in Baltimore—that the system is compelled to indict one of its front-line enforcers. Imagine what would happen if a group of Black youth had been involved in the death of a cop, and some of them tried to blame it on the others. The system would throw all of them in jail.
Killer cops belong in cell blocks, and we can't rely on the system to get them put there. It'll take mass determined resistance to the ways police get away with murder to get justice for Freddie Gray, and all the victims of murder by police. Get with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and become part of that resistance. And get with the movement for revolution that the RCP is building if you want to end the horrors this system inflicts on humanity.
Indict, Convict and Send Killer Cops to Jail—The Whole Damned System Is Guilty as Hell!
It'll Take Revolution, Nothing Less, to End Police Getting Away with Murder!
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
For the past week Mayor Rahm Emanuel has disappeared from public view as the outrage over the police murder of Laquan McDonald and the cover-up over the crime has continued. On Wednesday, December 16, Emanuel invited the media to cover his carefully choreographed appearance at the all-male, all-Black, jacket-and-tie-wearing, 100-percent-acceptance-to-college Urban Prep Academy. He spoke briefly about a new “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative and how it could be a model for youths around the city. When Emanuel finished, the school principal asked everyone to stand up and recite the school creed. Instead, a bunch of sophomores started chanting, “16 shots, 16 shots,” for the 16 times the murdering cop shot Laquan. This was all over the evening news. Now THAT’s a model for high school students to replicate!
The day before, on December 15, 16 people protesting Laquan’s murder locked arms and lay down during rush hour on Congress Blvd., a major downtown intersection that leads to the expressway. It took the police an hour to cut them apart after first brutalizing several of them by tugging on their arms, which were locked together in lock boxes. Protesters were recorded screaming in pain. All 16 were arrested. Around the same time, another group of protesters disrupted the City Council’s hearing on the McDonald case, chanting “16 shots and a cover-up.”
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
Courageous Fighters Facing Serious Charges for #ShutDownRikers
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On October 23, as part of Rise Up October, protesters held portraits of people who had died at Rikers, they spoke out, sang and danced energetically, and some sat down chanting "Shut It DOWN!" The NYPD put up barricades across the road leading to Rikers Island prison, and for more than an hour access was blocked. Prisoners heard about the shut down and cheered according to reports from relatives. (Photo: Special to Revolution/revcom.us)
Reverberations of Rise Up October protests in New York City to STOP police terror and murder were felt in courtrooms this past week as some of the 27 people arrested during three days of action appeared to face protest charges. Prosecutors say that two arrested outside the entrance to Rikers Island will be tried on charges serious enough to get a one-year sentence on Rikers Island for nonviolent political protest.
On October 23, as part of #RiseUpOctober, 100 people gathered to #ShutDownRikers, the island prison they compared to Abu Ghraib. This is no exaggeration. Decades of deaths in custody at the hands of guards, brutal and widespread sexual violence, solitary confinement for years, denial of medical care, and abuse of children are routine—a part of the genocide of mass incarceration. Of those imprisoned at Rikers on an average day, some 90 percent are Black or Latino.
“Rikers Island: 14,000 people imprisoned, 85 percent of them have not been convicted of anything; people locked up because they are poor, because the court system is purposely clogged. People held for weeks, months, even years without a trial. People who are tortured, brutalized, driven insane.” From “Shut Down Rikers Island Prison.”
Despite years of lawsuits, many of them won against the city, as well as commissions, panels and with even some in the power structure saying Rikers cannot be fixed and should be shut down, thousands disappear into the hell of this prison, making people feel powerless. The righteous demand “Shut Down Rikers” has had significant support. But up until October, no organized group had put out a call to actually stop the machinery delivering prisoners there with nonviolent civil disobedience. Sunsara Taylor, correspondent for Revolution/revcom.us and an initiator of StopPatriarchy.org, and others called on people to do that as part of three days of action to STOP police terror and murder.
A day after families of those killed by police had brought the lived experience of murder by police to Times Square in No More Stolen Lives: #SayTheirNames, the outpouring on October 23 was strong and beautiful. One hundred marched to the entrance of Rikers, including some of those family members; co-initiator of Rise Up October, Carl Dix; students from Columbia and New York Universities; war resisters, including the “Raging Grannies”; revolutionaries and the Revolution Club; religious leaders; and a couple who drove from Michigan to join the protest.
For more than an hour, as the NYPD put up barricades across the road leading to the island prison, access was blocked. The crowd held portraits of people who had died at Rikers. They spoke out and sang and danced energetically. Some sat down and chanted, “Shut It DOWN!” Prisoners heard about the shut down and cheered it, according to reports from relatives. Finally, someone was doing something tangible in response to their outcries. (See photos/video at “A Shout-out to the Courageous Fighters Who Put Their Bodies on the Line to Shut Down Rikers Island Prison.”)
The authorities responded with a show of force. NYPD vehicles massed for arrests. Police dogs—the 4 legged kind—increased the tension. “I thought they stopped deploying dogs against people of color in like 1960?” tweeted a videographer.
Sixteen people were arrested, and others forced away from the barricades. But no one left unmoved by the righteousness of the action and the passion of the protest, which was based on the reality of what Rikers means for the people. Confronting the monstrous brutality of Rikers strengthened people’s determination to really STOP it—and the rest of the system’s genocidal program.
“I didn’t really even know enough about Rikers until I came that morning and heard Sunsara and others telling the stories of people who had died there. They were just so passionate, and I knew I had to be part of the action,” said a woman who was arrested.
Fourteen protesters were released hours later, charged with disorderly conduct. This past week, in a Queens, New York, court, charges were dismissed against four of them, and 10 were given a 24-hour “adjournment in contemplation of dismissal,” meaning the charges have been dismissed—a very good development.
But two of the protesters involved in the action were put through the system with criminal charges that could bring one year in Rikers, “obstruction of government administration,” a catch-all charge often used on political protesters such as Noche Diaz. (See “Trial Set for January 27: Support Noche Diaz—Demand That All Charges Be Dropped!“)
On December 17, the two arrested on October 23 appeared in criminal court, where the prosecutor refused to drop or lower the charges. A junior district attorney said her supervisor told her he was “personally offended” by the protest. A trial date was set for February 22. Stop Mass Incarceration Network supporters and the legal defense team say they will file to have the charges dismissed, and seek discovery to reveal why and how these two protesters were singled out for criminal prosecution.
The political battle to stop terror and murder by police is also continuing in the courts around arrests made at the major October 24 march in Manhattan. On December 16, ACDs (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal after six months) were given to four people arrested on Fifth Avenue, an area for which organizers were given a permit to march. A lawyer for the NYPD directly intervened in the court proceedings to argue that there was “probable cause” for the arrests, and demanded as a condition for one person’s ACD that the defendant “admit” they were blocking traffic—going directly counter to the fact that an ACD is supposed to be given without any admission of guilt.
This police lawyer tried this same maneuver on another person who also had been arrested October 24 in Times Square on a Parks violation after the main march ended, demanding that he admit to being “disorderly” in order to get an ACD. This NYPD “offer” was refused by the defendant, with the defendant’s lawyer arguing vigorously against this condition and later saying that this action by the NYPD was “profoundly improper.” This defendant’s next court date is February 16.
Revcom.us did a shout-out to those arrested in October: “Rikers Island is an abomination, an atrocity. It is a concentration of the horrific abuse this system routinely, daily inflicts on Black and Latino youth. The heroes who sat in and laid down at the gates of Rikers have put a challenge in front of anyone with a conscience and a sense of justice.”
The system’s message that protesting the intolerable conditions at Rikers could get you a year on Rikers makes the case for justice even more strongly. They’re incapable of “fixing” their own system. Shut It Down!
Support those arrested October 23/24 at #RiseUpOctober actions:
Tuesday, February 16, 9 am, Midtown Community Court, 314 West 54th Street
Wednesday, February 22, 9 am, Queens Criminal Court 125-01 Queens Blvd.
Updates will be posted at stopmassincarceration.net
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 16, a Baltimore judge declared a mistrial due to a hung jury in the case of William Porter, the first cop brought to trial for the murder of Freddie Gray. Whether Porter will be tried again is not yet known. But this trial and its outcome will impact the trials of the other five cops who took part in murdering Freddie Gray. And this trial did NOT deliver any justice.
On April 12, 2015, cops chased, brutalized, and arrested Freddie Gray without any justification. Even according to the police story, Freddie was doing nothing wrong. The cops came at Freddie after he made “eye contact” with them. Eye contact! Just like in slave and old Jim Crow days, when simply looking a symbol of white supremacist authority in the eye could get you killed. Which is exactly what happened to Freddie Gray.
From the beginning, the cops treated Freddie like a runaway slave, worse than a dog. They beat him till he couldn’t stand. In Porter’s trial, the prosecution and the defense both said Freddie Gray was fine when he was put in the van. Videos have exposed this as a lie—but these were not introduced in the trial. Nor were any of the eyewitnesses who saw the beating called to testify. Like the person who said, “They were taking out their black batons, whatever they are, and hitting him.” Or the person who recalled, “They had him folded up like he was a crab or a piece of origami. He was all bent up.”
The cops threw Freddie in the back of a police van and drove around for 45 minutes, giving him what pigs in Baltimore call a “rough ride,” making fast starts and stops—a form of summary punishment that’s been documented to have killed people in police custody. By the time he was taken out of the van he was unconscious. His spine had been severed 80 percent. A week later he died.
Arrest of Freddie Gray
The cops who killed Freddie Gray would not have even been indicted if the people had not risen up in rebellion, refusing to accept this murder. People in the streets demanded: Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail! The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!
Then, at the very beginning of the trial, defense attorney Gary Proctor told jurors: “Let’s show Baltimore the whole damn system is not guilty as hell.” But in fact what this trial showed is that: The whole system IS guilty in the murder of Freddie Gray. And the INjustice system is PART of and serves this whole damn system!
Porter didn’t put a seatbelt on Freddie Gray, who had his hands handcuffed and his feet shackled as he was thrown around the van during the “rough ride.” And Porter didn’t call for a medic, even after it was clear Freddie Gray was seriously injured and Gray asked for help. Two medical experts testified that Gray’s life could have been saved if Porter had called for a medic after Gray’s plea.
Defense lawyers said Porter thought Freddie Gray was faking injury to avoid going to jail and saw no reason to request a medic. They argued that Porter was just doing what all the other cops do in not putting a seatbelt on Gray. The defense had Porter’s mother testify about how he is a “nice guy,” and his first grade teacher told the jury that he was “truthful and honest.” Meanwhile, there was nothing in this trial to bring out the humanity of Freddie Gray, the victim killed by the cops. No witnesses were called to testify about how Freddie Gray was widely known and liked in his West Baltimore neighborhood as a generous person and a jokester.
In the streets of Baltimore after the mistrial was announced in the case of the first cop who was tried for the murder of Freddie Gray, December 16. Photo: www.revcom.us
Porter’s actions clearly contributed to the death of Freddie Gray. But the way the law is written and the legal system works made it extremely difficult for a jury to find Porter guilty—if they followed the letter of the law and the judge’s instructions.
The judge told the jury that to find Porter guilty of misconduct in office would require that they find he “corruptly failed to do an act required by his duties” and that it was “not a mere error in judgment” but involved an “evil motive and bad faith.” (!)
Jurors were also instructed that in order to find Porter guilty of involuntary manslaughter, they had to find that he acted with a “reckless or wanton disregard for human life” and that his conduct was a “gross departure” from what a “reasonable police officer” in a similar situation would do.
So the standard used by the prosecution, defense, the judge and, beyond that, the court rulings and laws—and the whole structure they enforce—is that a pig can plead NOT GUILTY by simply saying that “other pigs do it, too”! If Porter didn’t put a seatbelt on Freddie Gray and didn’t call a medic and this contributed to Gray’s death—which is what happened—he can’t be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter because THIS IS WHAT OTHER PIGS DO ALL THE TIME.
This legal concept of “reasonableness,” established in the 1989 Supreme Court ruling, Graham v. Connor, requires judges and juries to determine whether a cop’s decision to use lethal force is a crime or not by imagining (!) what an objectively “reasonable” officer would have done in his place. In other words: murdering pigs can’t be found guilty of murder because pigs murder all the time.
What if it was a situation in which a group of Black youths were driving around in a car and one of them was accused of committing a murder? This would be treated like a criminal conspiracy, where even someone who may have just been sitting in the car and not doing anything could be charged with murder. Black youths have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder based on Facebook postings!
In fact, the murder of Freddie Gray involves a Kriminal Kop Konspiracy. This murder is part of a criminal conspiracy to carry out genocide against Black and Latino people. It is part of a program of criminalizing whole sections of people for whom this system has no future but unemployment, police murder, and mass incarceration. As Carl Dix has said, what is taking place here is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. And this genocidal conspiracy involves the cops, the courts, the mainstream media, politicians, and goes all the way to the very top levels of government.
Then there was the murderous logic involved in the arguments over when—at what stop—Freddie Gray sustained his life threatening injuries. The defense said Gray asked to be taken to the hospital during the fourth stop. The defense said Porter wasn’t guilty because Gray’s “catastrophic injuries” occurred later, between the fifth and final stops of the van.
Freddie Gray was standing on the street doing NOTHING WRONG when the cops set on him, beat him up, threw him in a van, took him on a “rough ride,” and refused him medical care. The question is not “at what second did Freddie Gray get an injury that killed him.” A whole gang of cops acted together in a series of criminal acts to kill Freddie Gray, then the whole system kicked in to try and cover up and let these cops get away with this. Every single cop involved in all the events that led to Freddie Gray’s death—and anyone involved in protecting these murdering cops—should be found guilty and punished for the murder of Freddie Gray.
The outrageous framework and standards used by the prosecution, the defense, and the judge in the trial of William Porter shows the complete illegitimacy of the INjustice system.
As Carl Dix says, “Killer cops belong in cell blocks, and we can’t rely on the system to get them put there. It’ll take mass determined resistance to the ways police get away with murder to get justice for Freddie Gray, and all the victims of murder by police. Get with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and become part of that resistance. And get with the movement for revolution that the RCP is building if you want to end the horrors this system inflicts on humanity.”
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
November 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
RiseUpOctober, RUO—the mass demonstrations against police murder that took place in New York in October—represented a significant advance in the fight against this terror, and the overall fight against the oppression of Black, Latino. and Native American people of which it is a key part. The three days of action—the march and rallies on the 24th, the nonviolent direct action to shut down Rikers Island prison on the 23rd, and the reading at Times Square on the 22nd of the Stolen Lives, those killed by the police—each in its own right and taken together had a powerful impact on public opinion. The controversy that raged afterward in the media, mainly with the filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s comments at the march and the defense of Tarantino by others, kept the issue squarely in the public mind, with people representing the action making the point to millions: murder by police must stop—Which Side Are You On?
RUO brought forward and together the voices and participation of people from different sections of society, including students and prominent voices of conscience,around the “reasonable” demands to Stop Police Terror and the police murder of unarmed youths, and convicting and sending the killer cops to jail. On the 24th of October, the march of nearly 4,000 people was bold and defiant, with contingents from different campuses and organizations, and people from Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, and as far away as Texas and California. There were students from the historically Black colleges, the elite colleges and community colleges, along with those from the bottom of society, those “who catch the hardest hell,” joined by activists and others from the social movements and the broad progressive middle strata, all declaring to society, “Which Side Are You On,” STOP Police Terror.
Family members of those killed by police. New York City, October 22, 2015. Photo: Phil Buehler
This political and moral challenge was underscored by the parents and family members of the Stolen Lives, those killed by the police, who came to NYC from across the country, reading the names and telling the stories of their loved ones together with prominent voices of conscience at Times Square on the 22nd. Their powerful and courageous truth-telling was part of bringing home the hard and horrible reality of police murder. The workings of this system and the conscious policies of its rulers seek to keep people divided, and the most bitterly oppressed feeling isolated—and these manifestations of RUO broke through that barrier.
RUO was a powerful political and moral response in opposition to and as part of the political battle over the legitimacy and the right of the police to blow away lives without any consequences or justice. RUO was a necessary intervention to change the terms of discussion and to influence public opinion at a critical juncture. All summer the rulers of this system were on the offensive, attempting to re-seize the initiative after the uprisings of Ferguson and Baltimore had put the question of police terror on the societal agenda. They were posing as the victims, and defending and asserting the right of the police to continue raining terror and murdering people in genocidal proportions.
RiseUpOctober hit back hard at this, speaking the truth and mobilizing people, and as the 24th approached, the powers that be hit back in turn. It is no mere coincidence that Obama and James Comey, the head of the FBI, spoke on the 22nd and the 24th of October on these issues, defending the police in no uncertain terms. Nor is it coincidental that directly after the mass demonstration, the New York Post, Fox News, the PBAs (“Police Brutality Associations”), NYPD chief Bratton, and the rest went on a rampage.
Eve Ensler, Carl Dix, Cornel West, Quentin Tarantino, on march with family members. Photo: twitter.com/tuneintorevcom
Carl Dix, who along with Cornel West co-initiated RUO, hammered away at this legitimacy, and from this perspective, pointed to the real role of the police in enforcing the oppressive system, and brought alive the solution in communist revolution to get beyond this and its leadership in Bob Avakian (BA), while at the same time working to get everyone he could to get involved in this fight. Other people came together with Carl and Cornel, and this variety of voices and perspectives and the lively debate that ensued added to the strength of RiseUpOctober and modeled something very important for people.
RUO forged and advanced a much-needed and defiant pole of genuine resistance and struggle, giving people a way to act commensurate with the horrors and outrages of the all-too-common stories and videos of police terror and police murder. RUO also included the nonviolent direct action to shut down Rikers Island, a torture chamber and hellhole of a prison right in the middle of New York City, housing mainly Black and Latino inmates—and this action of resistance and struggle is a real leap toward what is needed to end the New Jim Crow, the program of mass incarceration.
In evaluating an initiative like RUO, from the standpoint of its objectives, the criterion is its effect on the political terrain, on favorably changing public opinion and people’s thinking in line with the actual reality and putting an end to police terror, and organizing forces in the struggle and movement for this. Let’s remember: the point of RiseUpOctober is to STOP police murder; everything it does is designed to contribute to making that fight as strong as possible. And part of the thinking that went into this is that, in order to STOP this, you will need millions and millions of people feeling compelled to choose sides... and compelled to STRUGGLE AGAINST THE SYSTEM that gives rise to such murder and repression.
RiseUpOctober represented a significant advance, and this struggle and its organization, Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN), needs to be carried forward, grow and politically escalate, especially as people are righteously standing up in Chicago, Minneapolis, and other cities against police murder, and on campuses against racism and white supremacy.
At the same time, all of these advances—from bringing together different sections of society in struggle and resistance, in questioning the legitimacy of the police and the system of which they are objectively the enforcers, and the heightened profile of Carl Dix on the political terrain, as a revolutionary communist leader and follower of BA and courageous truth-teller about and fighter against police terror—need to be built on with strategic perspective to hasten the time when a radically different system and society can be brought into being through revolution, and this, as well as many other horrors, can be ended once and for all.
In this context, there were some secondary shortcomings to be looked at, interrogated, and solved going forward.
First, we needed more of an organizational and infrastructural core at the heart of the initiative. We also needed to have raised more funds for advertising and promotion, so that many more people would hear of and be able to participate actively in this resistance. Even though RiseUpOctober did have real and powerful impact, had the RUO movement been able to solve these problems that impact could possibly have been even greater. This is a collective responsibility for the movement as a whole, and we should grapple with others on how to solve these problems, and really grow SMIN with vibrant chapters nationwide.
Second, as revolutionary communists, while we worked hard on fulfilling and bringing to life the key objectives of RUO, all too often we lost sight of WHY we take part in these struggles. On the one hand, we hate this outrage with all our might; many of us came into the movement for revolution through this and related battles, and the more that we have understood how deeply interknit it is into this capitalist system and how utterly unnecessary it is, the more—not the less—angry and outraged we have become.
At the same time, unless and until there is a revolution, this horror will go on. It’s that simple. For that reason, we unapologetically lead and participate in these struggles with that larger goal in mind, drawing the links to the system whenever we can and pointing to the solution in revolution and the leadership for that revolution in Bob Avakian (BA).
It is in this regard that we think we fell down some and did not fully enough carry out our responsibility. And a lot of this got concentrated around not letting people know about BA—maybe letting people know some things, but not consistently giving people the full picture of who he is, what he’s brought forward, and how he leads. To put it another way, not stepping off enough from the scientific fact that the outrage of police murder is made all the more unbearable by the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way, there is another way possible through revolution, and there is leadership for that revolution in BA, and the Party he leads.
This is what people need most from us. There is a lot more we could and should have done in bringing to all the need to study and follow BA’s leadership, and becoming part of the process of helping to realize this revolution, including through following revcom.us, the official website of Revolution newspaper, and the main way for people to get the ongoing leadership of BA and the Party.
In speaking of BA in particular, a lot of people don’t know that he’s been a fighter on this question since way back in the 1960s, going back to the earliest days of the Black Panther Party, whom he worked closely with. People should check out the “TIMELINE—Political Activism and Revolutionary Leadership of Bob Avakian (BA), During the 1960s-1970s, and Continuing to the Present Time” at revcom.us to learn more on this. But it goes way beyond that.
Bob Avakian, over many decades of work, has scientifically shown how the oppression of Black people, since the time of slavery, has been central to the history of this country and integral to the workings of this system of capitalism-imperialism, interwoven into the economic, social, cultural, and ideological fabric of this country. Because of this, the system and its rulers have no solution, no answers to all of its horrific manifestations, from police murder to mass incarceration to rampant discrimination in jobs, housing, and all other areas of life.
Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).
He has done the work to show that with a radically different system, a different economic and political framework, and social relations and ideas that aim to get beyond all exploitation and oppression as part of a worldwide process, there IS a solution, there IS an answer, and we can put an end to the horrors and get to work on rooting out the inequalities of this system. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) goes into this very concretely. This Constitution is a concretization of the work done by BA on what such a society should look like, and an application of the new synthesis of communism which he has developed over decades, a whole new framework and a world-historic contribution to the science of communism and the emancipation of humanity.
Bringing this society into being will take a revolution, and BA has also developed a strategy for this revolution, and is the leader of this Party implementing and leading this strategy. This strategy of course takes in many, many questions—the oppression of women, the wars waged by imperialism, the destruction of the environment, the persecution of immigrants—and shows the real living links to the capitalist society we live in, and the need to get beyond that. As part of this strategy, he has scientifically analyzed the oppression of Black people as one of the crucial fault lines of this system, one that goes to its very roots and foundations. From his earliest and formative political experiences in the 1960s, the centrality of the oppression of Black people in this society, and the resultant vulnerability of this system on this question, its “Achilles heel,” has been a hallmark of BA’s leadership—that has been scientifically deepened through decades of theoretical work and leading the revolution in the U.S., including deeply examining the struggles of Black people for liberation, and being part of and drawing the correct scientific lessons from the most advanced revolutionary experiences of the 1960s with the Black Panthers.
BA has shown how bringing growing numbers of people into motion around this crucial fault line of this system can deepen and widen the cracks of this system, doing this in a way that hastens the moment when the whole thing can be brought down and a radically different world brought into being through communist revolution. Concretely leading these struggles to end police murder and terror, and its manifestations in SMIN and RUO, are an application of this, with the perspective and goals of advancing the objectives of communist revolution—again, a revolution that can and goes to work on fundamentally resolving not only the oppression of Black people, but of women, of immigrants, and bringing to an end this country’s wars of empire and its destruction of the environment, within and as part of a radically different system aiming for and working towards the emancipation of all of humanity.
And people should definitely know that it was BA himself, as leader of the Party, who is responsible for the Party taking up this initiative, and others like it, going back decades. If you want to check out his thinking on the importance of initiatives like SMIN and RUO, and how they relate to getting to a world where things like police murder and white supremacy really are no more, check out his essay, “The Mass Initiatives and Our Strategic Objectives”.
Why is this important? As people struggle and fight the power, bigger questions are posed such as what is the source of these injustices, what is the relation to other horrors such as the oppression of women and immigrants, the wars and the destruction of the environment, and can we end these and what will it take? There ARE answers to these questions, and it is the responsibility of the revolutionary communists to not only bring the answers to the people, but lead a process for them to increasingly get a scientific approach to society and all of reality, one that is denied the vast majority of people by the workings of this system, and organize them into the actual revolution.
The more people understand the common root of these injustices in the system of capitalism-imperialism, and the fact that these horrors are completely needless and can be done away with through revolution, then the more people’s sights are raised to a radically different world that is necessary, possible, and desirable, and the more people are impelled and compelled to fight even more ferociously—and with an increasingly conscious goal, in thinking and organization, of getting beyond this. This, after all, is the point of fighting to put an END to these horrors, and this takes leadership concentrated in science and a thoroughly scientific approach to society. At this moment in history, the most thoroughly scientific approach to society and the most advanced science of the emancipation of humanity through communist revolution, the solution to all this madness, the way out, is concentrated in the work and leadership of Bob Avakian.
In the little more than a month since RiseUpOctober, this struggle has further intensified, with both RUO, the Revolution Clubs (which are led by the Party), and Party members like Carl Dix right in the middle of it. This must not die down, but must instead go forward. We will be working as hard as we can to build this struggle as broadly as we can, and to do this as part of preparing for revolution, putting an end to this horror. And we look forward to participating with all the people in RUO and many more besides to make this winter and spring a time when the question “WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?” resounds even more powerfully, throughout this society and the whole world.
For more on Bob Avakian, go to:
For more on how the Party views and participates in mass struggles and their relationship to revolution, see BAsics, Chapter 3, especially 3:1, 3:2, 3:3, 3:30, and the Party’s statement on strategy which supplements that chapter.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In May 2013, Linwood Lambert, a 46-year-old Black man, died after being repeatedly tased by the police in South Boston, Virginia. The police took Lambert into custody after noise complaints from others at a motel where he was staying. Lambert was clearly in distress of some sort and needed urgent medical help. The cops told Lambert he was not under arrest and were taking him to a hospital—but they still put him in handcuffs. At the hospital, apparently in panic, Lambert kicked out a window in the police car and ran toward the emergency room door. In front of the door, three cops tased Lambert repeatedly—and again after they forced him back into the police car, where he also had his feet shackled. In less than 30 minutes, the cops fired off their tasers 20 times—each delivering 50,000 volts of electricity. Despite the police department’s own rules that someone who is tased is supposed to receive medical attention immediately, the cops drove off to the police station instead of bringing Lambert into the hospital. After about an hour the cops brought back Lambert, unconscious, to the same hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Two and a half years later, the prosecutor in charge of the case has not brought any charges against the three cops who carried out the sadistic torture by taser that led to Lambert’s death. These pigs have not even been disciplined—in fact, they have all been promoted within the department. The police have claimed that the tasing of Lambert was justified because he posed a “danger” to others. The official autopsy ruled the cause of death as “acute cocaine intoxication.” The family of Linwood Lambert is fighting for justice, including through a wrongful death suit. His sister, Gwendolyn Smalls, said bitterly, “They used so much force with a man who was already restrained. What other answer would they come up with, other than to say it’s justified?”
Dashcam and squad car video of police taser attack on Linwood Lambert
Released by MSNBC
In November, MSNBC cable news released the video of the deadly police tasing of Linwood Lambert, which the authorities had withheld from the public, as well as a report from the Virginia State Police investigators written shortly after Lambert was killed. The video and the report shed light on the lies of the police and the brutal reality of what happened to Linwood Lambert.
What the cops claimed: According to the state police report, Cpl. Tiffany Bratton, the cop who fired off 15 of the 20 taser shots, said that Lambert had “grabbed the end of the Taser and was pulling it” and that this “probably happened several times.” Bratton also claimed that the repeated tasings were necessary because Lambert kept getting back up. According to the state police report, Bratton said that after the taster was first used on Lambert at the hospital doorway, he “got back up” after about “five seconds.” Then after a second tasing, according to Bratton, “Lambert hit the ground then right back up”...and she said the same thing happened after the following taser firings. Another cop at the scene also claimed to investigators that Lambert “jumped up” after he was tased.
What the video shows: The video shows clearly that at no time did Lambert grab a police taser or even attempt to do so. In fact, the video shows he had his hands cuffed behind his back throughout the course of this horror. The video also exposes the cops’ lie that Lambert kept trying to get back up after each tasing. As MNSBC notes, “Instead, the video shows his body went stiff and dropped after the first tasing in the hospital doorway. Then he mostly rolls around on the ground, according to the video, and asks the officers to stop. While he is on the ground, they also shackle his legs.” At one point, when Lambert doesn’t get on his stomach fast enough to the satisfaction of his tormentors, Bratton yells at him, “I’m going to light you up again—roll over, roll over, turn over!” And in the video, after Lambert is dragged back into the police car, one of the cops says, “Sit up or I’m going to tase you again”—and Lambert is hit with more taser shots.
What the people demand: Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This week in Chicago, the former police commander Glenn Evans was acquitted of felony charges. He had been indicted by a grand jury in August 2014 for shoving his gun down the throat of a 22- year-old Black man, Rickey Williams, while holding a taser to his groin and threatening to kill him. This verdict was a kick in the gut to everyone who wants to see justice done, coming as it did during the nationwide outrage against the wanton murder and brutalization of generations of young Black men, and in particular the uproar over the police murder of Laquan McDonald and its cover-up by police and city officials. And it points out the fact that there has to be massive resistance not only to get any indictment, but to get actual convictions.
Williams filed a complaint against the police the day after he was brutalized and tortured by Evans. Considering that Evans has been a notoriously brutal commander with a history of over 50 brutality complaints (see “The Case of a ‘Model’ Cop in Chicago: Promoted for Years of Brutality” at revcom.us) filed against him, this was a courageous move. The assistant state’s attorney trying the case said the evidence of Williams’s DNA on Evans’s gun is “not just the smoking gun we claim it to be. It’s a smoking frickin’ cannon.” And on the basis of finding Williams’s DNA on the gun, Evans was indicted, an extremely rare occurrence.
But indicted is not convicted. The “justice” system is not set up for justice for the people who suffer brutality and murder at the hands of the police. Evans requested a bench trial (trial in front of a judge, not a jury). The judge, by the way, is a former prosecutor herself. Evans swaggered to the courthouse every day with arrogant assurance that he would get off. From the beginning the judge acted as an advocate for Evans and acted toward Williams as if HE was on trial.
The fact that Rickey Williams’s DNA was found on Evans’s gun was proof that he had stuck it down Williams’s throat, beyond a reasonable doubt. And Williams’s DNA was found on the gun in spite of Evans’s efforts to wipe down the gun before turning it in. The result was that Evans’s prints were not to be found even on the handle of the gun, and that Williams’s DNA was found only in the “nooks and crannies” of the gun. If anything, that Evans only superficially destroyed the evidence only shows the impunity he expected. It makes perfect sense that saliva would be found in nooks and crannies, while other ways Williams’s DNA would have been found on the gun, suggested by the judge, make no sense at all. If Williams had grabbed the gun, as the judge fantasized, the DNA from his hand would not go into nooks and crannies—and do you think he would even be alive to tell the tale?
Nevertheless, in spite of scientific analysis of the DNA and all common sense, the judge said the DNA evidence was “of fleeting relevance or significance.” She focused instead on some inconsistencies in Williams’s recounting, 15 months after the incident, completely ignoring that he was being tortured during the encounter. You can clearly see the judge’s unapologetic bias by how she jumped on the fact that Williams didn’t identify Evans in a photo array 15 months later, even though no one questioned that it was Evans who was on the scene straddling Williams. If anything, that shows just how traumatized Williams was.
The attorneys who are working on Williams’s federal lawsuit were incredulous. Williams’s lawyer, Stephen Blandin, said the judge “went out of her way in this case to give every benefit of the doubt” to the commander. “This isn’t about who was telling the truth and who was lying. This is about scientific DNA evidence. Rickey’s DNA was all over that gun...how do you ignore DNA evidence?” The judge didn’t credit the prosecution case with a single positive point in her 20-minute ruling!
There was, of course, in this case the usual failure of prosecutors to prosecute when it comes to the rare instances when cops are put on trial. And along with that was the usual conspiracy involving every branch of the injustice system, including the failure of the crime lab to swab for saliva inside the barrel of the gun, which would have been immune to the judge’s fanciful alternative explanations. In Chicago the so-called Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) is supposed to investigate police brutality charges, yet in less than two percent out of tens of thousands of cases were police disciplined in any way. Evans had over 50 complaints filed against him from 2001 to 2014, but he was never disciplined, except for one two-day suspension. Nine of these complaints were filed after he was promoted to commander in 2012!
Exposure of IPRA’s lack of investigation and refusal to find any wrongdoing on the part of police has come out in recent weeks from fired IPRA investigators, in the midst of the fury over the murder of Laquan McDonald. But Evans’s lawyers cynically used this exposure of IPRA incompetence and cover-up to argue that the IPRA investigation of Evans’s DNA was bogus and not proven!
Yes, there is a conspiracy to get the cops off. (See Bob Avakian hit at this point in an excerpt from his 2002 Revolution talk.) By the way, Commander Evans is Black and so was the judge in this trial. Having more Black cops will not stop police brutality. Black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American—once they put on the uniform, they are going to serve the system and come down on the people. Indicting vicious and brutal cops like Evans is just the beginning—convicting them and sending them to jail will take mass resistance in the streets demanding Stop Police Terror, Which Side Are You On?
This outrageous verdict comes during a moment when people have been jolted by the murder of Laquan McDonald and the cover-up of more than a year. The authorities’ response to this upheaval (see comprehensive coverage at revcom.us here) has been to make some cosmetic changes in the police department and in the IPRA. But at the same time, their response has also been to not even charge the cops in the blatant on-video murder of Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson, and now to let vicious pig Evans walk—in other words, to spit in the face of the people. WE are the ones who need to stop these horrors. Ending this once and for all will take a revolution, and we are building a movement for revolution to uproot this illegitimate system as soon as possible, and replace it with a system that will NOT utilize torture and terror, because that is not consistent with the goal of a communist world.
Protestors shut down Michigan Avenue in Chicago on Black Friday in response to the murder of Laquan McDonald and others.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
Letter from Chicago:
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In the last four weeks, since the Laquan McDonald video was released, there have been continuing protests that refuse to allow “business as usual” to continue as long as Black youths are being murdered with impunity by police. Some of these protests are large, some small, mostly youths, a majority Black, but all kinds of ages and nationalities, community and political groups (see comprehensive and ongoing coverage at www.revcom.us). As this has been roiling, big questions have been raised about why does the oppression of Black people and other oppressed people go on, where does this come from, and is there a way out? Is there a connection between this and all the other horrors in the world? What would it take to end it?
In this situation we have made a concerted effort to introduce people to Bob Avakian’s pathbreaking leadership and work. We have gotten out Revolution newspaper, pluggers with quotes from BA, BAsics, and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). We have had some pre-planned events, like showings of the video BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at Revolution Books store, and discussions of BA’s outline, “The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements.”
The first showing of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! was the same day as a major protest, and three people came directly to the showing from the downtown protest along with some Revolution Club members. At the second showing, seven new people came who we had recently met in the streets fighting for justice for Laquan McDonald: six Black people ranging in age from 14 to 50 and one young white woman. Some gatherings were held on-the-spot (before and after protests) to dig into the revolution and BA. And a “Meet the Revolution Club” gathering was called the next day after one protest, which six new people came to.
Here is a report on a discussion after a protest one night.
After one of the marches, a 30-something Black man who had come to the first BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! showing brought six younger Black guys over to a revolutionary and said, “I told you I had friends who wanted to talk about this stuff, let’s go do it.” So they went to a nearby coffee shop. It was an interesting and diverse mix, from some in the Black middle class to people who had been into life on the street. Two of them were high school students from the South Side. The other four seemed to be in their 20s and have jobs of some type. The man who pulled them together got people’s attention and introduced the revolutionary saying, “Here is the guy with the revolution who wants to talk to you.”
The revolutionary started out by saying that we had just been out in the street demanding that police terror stop, but we need to dig into what is causing this if we want to end it. He spoke briefly to how the oppression of Black people is built into the very nature of capitalism from the beginning in America and only a revolution to get rid of the whole system will end it.
This didn’t go on for too long before one guy started to argue that the problem was not capitalism as a system, but rather that Black people had not been allowed their fair chance to succeed at capitalism. He ran down how Black people spend billions but it does not go to Black businesses. He remembered back 20 years ago when there were Black businesses in the Black neighborhoods on the South Side. He named Black businesses that used to be at a certain intersection but are no longer there. A number of times, the revolutionary tried to break in to bring a bigger perspective—what happened to all those businesses? They went under when all the big factories left—which was a product of how capitalism must constantly seek new and greater ways to exploit labor. The main guy and a couple of the others got into talking about how Black people buy insurance to cover their funerals, but they don’t buy it from Black insurance companies. One of them talked about how Black people used to own banks.
"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."
The revolutionary asked them, if they wanted to own businesses, who did they think was going to do all the work for them to make their profits? This didn’t get any traction. Then the main guy explained what a good business head he had by talking about back when he was into the informal economy, he used to beat out his competitors by having “two for one” sales. This line of discussion went on between the four somewhat older guys for quite awhile.
The revolutionary kept struggling with them to pull the lens back and look at reality. And at one point he was able to grab hold of the fact that if—as they were advocating—they could all become capitalists, then they would live by the commandment “expand or die.” And it would make no difference what nationality, gender, etc. they are, they would have to act like capitalists and use every imaginable avenue open to them to maximize their profits and beat down their competition. He said, “You may think you are going to pay your Black employees a decent wage, but if you do, you will just go broke because your competitors will be looking for cheaper labor somewhere else in the world to exploit. And you will be forced to do everything you can to drive your competitor Black businesses under, just as they will be forced to do the same to you. And pretty soon—if this actually was allowed to happen—there would be just a few big Black businesses left doing to Black people exactly what white (and other businesses) do to them today.”
All of a sudden everyone was listening intently. The main guy stopped interrupting. There was something about the reality of the “expand or die” commandment that they had to all recognize. Earlier, someone had said something about how for oppressed people to “get started” fighting their oppression, they had to play the same game as their oppressors. So the revolutionary again stressed that no matter who you are, capitalism will turn you into a monster. He brought up the example of Israel as what happens when an oppressed people take up the same oppressor role as the imperialists in the name of “my people first”—they end up committing horrible crimes themselves.
Then the revolutionary went after the illusion that this system would ever allow Black people as a people to take control of their own neighborhoods and somehow have their own economy. Someone had earlier mentioned that Black people used to own banks. It was called Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The revolutionary asked them what happened to it. Most of them knew and said that it had been burned down by a racist mob and the Black people massacred. So what made them think that this system wouldn’t do the same thing again?
The revolutionary told them straight up that they needed to get serious and look at the world as it really is. First, Black capitalism is not liberation for the vast majority of Black people, and certainly cannot emancipate all of humanity. Second, the rulers of this country are never going to allow that kind of Black economic independence to develop within this system of capitalism-imperialism, and if somehow they allowed a greater share of the wealth to Black people, that wealth would still be based on the exploitation and oppression of billions of people around the world enforced by military might. And last, but actually most important, there are a whole slew of other horrendous problems facing humanity—the oppression of women, immigrants, wars of empire, climate destruction—that Black capitalism doesn’t even pretend to address. But there is a solution to all this—and here the revolutionary went into BA, who he is and what he has brought forward through 40 years of work. Except for the guy who got them together, none of them knew of BA. The revolutionary explained that there was a strategy to make a revolution and a constitution for a new revolutionary society—and challenged them to dig into BA and see for themselves that there is a truly liberating way out of the horrors of this system for all of humanity.
The whole mood of the discussion had changed. Different people spoke, saying they wanted to learn more about the revolution and this leader. The revolutionary made the point that the implications for people’s lives are way too serious for us to be wrong about the problem and the solution. That is why, the revolutionary argued, people have to dig into BA. And things ended with everyone getting each other’s phone number and planning to meet the next day. The meeting the next day got superseded by another demonstration, but two people from this discussion came to the next showing of disc 2 of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at Revolution Books two days later. One of them, a high school youth, thought what BA was saying in the video was the same thing as what people who are advocating for Black capitalism are saying. He said he agreed with BA that we need a revolution, in order to get to Black Wall Street, not to do away with capitalism. The struggle over the way forward continues...
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Recently, people gathered at the new Revolution Books NYC location up in Harlem for a lively and wild discussion of the new outline from Bob Avakian, “The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements.” We knew from the outset that we could not exhaust the content of this outline in one evening, rather we aimed to work together to get a deeper grasp of the significance and scope of what is in the outline and why the work and leadership of Bob Avakian (BA) is absolutely necessary if humanity is to make a genuine revolution that can fully and lastingly uproot all forms of exploitation and oppression. There were also very different levels of familiarity and experience with the revolution in our group—some who have been in the Revolution Club for a longer time, some who came to revolution through the resistance struggles in the fall, customers from Revolution Books, and others. We were young and old, many nationalities, and from very different life experiences. We saw this mix as a strength. Everyone had studied the outline and read a recommended section of the interview by Ardea Skybreak (SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian) and, on that foundation, everyone was encouraged to dive in fully to a collective process of learning and struggle.
by Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Summer 2015
Taking note of where the outline itself begins, and how it ends, we decided to open things up around several questions pertaining to BA’s method and approach: What is science? Can science be applied to history and human societies? What is new in what BA has done on the question of science? Why is BA’s method and approach necessary for humanity to get free?
From the moment we divided into smaller break-out groups, people dove in with great passion as well as with some very different understandings of what science is. The first woman to speak is new to BA’s work and is still wrestling with whether or not a revolution and communism are actually necessary. She drew first from what she recalled from school about science. She emphasized that “rather than just ideas, science means you test your ideas to see if they are true. Science deals with data and you make a hypothesis and then you test it.” She was unclear, however, how this related to the work BA has done, “Are there multiple ideas BA is testing? Is the hypothesis ‘Why communism vs. something else?’ What data do we have to say this is a valid statement?”
Another newer person responded, “I don’t think BA meant to be speaking in absolutes. He proposes communism as a scientific hypothesis, but remains open to other ideas.” But when he went on to define science, his definition was very different, “Science is absolute definitions. This is what something is. This is how it works. Nothing else to add.” This led him to voice some confusion, “But it’s kind of a paradox. BA is saying he is open to applying other ideas to his idea, but calling it science, when I thought science means you are firm in your conclusion.”
A third person didn’t agree that science cuts off discovery, arguing, “What is science? You need ideas from before, and you advance from there, but the ideas have to evolve and advance. Like in physics, there was the ideas of Newton but then we advanced on those ideas. We kept some, but we also advanced.” The first woman built on that, adding, “Science is to constantly question everything. It’s not, ‘Here’s a theory, period.’ I mean, we used to think Pluto was a planet, now we realize it is not. You are constantly testing everything.”
A member of the Revolution Club spoke up, “Science is a method to interrogate and understand reality based on material evidence.” She posed, “Even the question of why communism, or how a revolution could happen, these are questions that have to be answered with science. With evidence.” Responding to what had been said earlier about BA’s ideas being “just a hypothesis” and “being open to other ideas,” she said, “BA has come to some conclusions, not just ideas. He’s done this based on looking at the material world—what kind of organization of society corresponds to a way that can emancipate humanity? How can you set up an economy that does that? Skybreak says in her interview that there were some key breakthroughs BA has made. He built on Marx who said that all ideas and relations are based on how human society is organized, based on the economic foundation. These are not just ideas. They are not even just the best idea that sounds the best, but he shows why... here is a materialist analysis of history and why this communist revolution is possible now...”
Already, different ideas on what science is and how BA approaches this question were swirling. The leader of the discussion pointed out that one person had argued that science was “absolute definitions” with “nothing else to add,” while others had emphasized that science builds on previous ideas and advances over time. Which is it? And, why?
Building on that question, she asked: If science does build on previous ideas, how does one determine which ideas to adopt and which ideas to discard? Don’t religions also change over time, building on some of what came before as well as adapting and adding new things at times? Are they both scientific because they both change, or is there something else involved in making something scientific?
Several people argued that science is not “absolute definitions” with “nothing else to add” because the world keeps changing and we keep learning more. Some of what we once thought was true might be proven to be wrong and so we might have to change our theories, but what makes the theory scientific is that it is based on material evidence. This is very different than religion because religion, even while it might change at times, does not provide evidence.
Still, big questions hung in the air. One was: how to understand the relationship between scientific “conclusions” and the scientific process of “questioning and testing everything.” As recounted earlier, the person who argued that science is about “absolute definitions” with “nothing else to add,” had also noted how BA has insisted his approach and new synthesis is “still developing.” He drew from this that perhaps BA’s new synthesis wasn’t really scientific. In response, someone from the Revolution Club argued emphatically that BA had actually come to some very important scientific conclusions that were backed up by evidence. They walked through some of these, like the fact that you need a revolution and a different mode of production (a different economic system and way that food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities of life get produced) in order to end oppression and exploitation.
This was very important, and it is true that Bob Avakian has tremendous and well-grounded scientific certitude about many things—many of them are highlighted in the outline we were studying. It is also true that BA’s new synthesis as a whole is backed up by evidence and marks a qualitative leap and advance in the science of communism. Secondarily, BA’s new synthesis—as he himself points out—is an ongoing “work in progress.” How to understand this?
This opened up a whole discussion about how science in general, and BA’s new synthesis in particular, is so much more than—and actually quite different than—a collection of well-grounded “conclusions.”
As I was thinking about this more afterwards, someone pointed me to a passage in the Skybreak interview, “Good science, you know, does not just go out into the world with a big question mark without any kind of developed theory. In order to advance science, you go out into the world with a framework of certain analyses that have accumulated over time. You make your best possible analysis and synthesis at any given time. And then you go out and test it further against reality. That’s what scientists do. And, in the course of that, you discover that some things that you thought were true are in fact very much true—you see some patterns that maybe you expected—and you often also get some surprises, you learn some things you didn’t expect, you find out you were wrong in some instances, and you learn from that as well. That enables you to make an even more advanced analysis and synthesis. And you go on from there. That’s how good scientific knowledge advances. And Bob Avakian models that in everything he does, in my opinion. That’s why I think there’s really no one like him in terms of taking a really consistently good scientific approach to societal issues and the positive transformation of society.”
One point that the outline draws out is that BA has developed a more scientific way of approaching reality, a more scientific method and approach, rupturing with elements in the methodology of communism that were NOT fully scientific. We got into how the new synthesis has been established to be true and is the most scientific foundation for acting to change the world towards human emancipation and for continuing to learn more about the world and about how it can be changed. It contains both a great deal of certitude and firm scientific conclusions, and on that foundation a truly searching and constantly restless and interrogating scientific spirit.
But, as one woman posed, “The more I start to understand about this, the more questions get opened up.” This was true for everyone in the discussion.
Even the question of “evidence” and being “evidence-based” can be understood in different ways. One person argued that “reality is objective” and that people should “draw from evidence,” but “at the same time, we all have our own realities and our own evidence.” She argued, “You can’t know everything all at once. Everyone has their own reality, so the conclusions you draw from one point of view are valid for you, but that doesn’t mean they speak to all people everywhere.”
Others argued that, even while there might be some “evidence” being marshaled in the example she was giving, it wasn’t really a scientific approach and it’s simply not true that “everyone has their own reality.” People don’t “have their own reality”—in reality everyone exists within one larger objective reality. This opened up the larger question: Is it only possible to be sure about the surface of things that you can directly experience (through your five senses of touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing), or does science enable us to know things beyond our direct experiences with scientific certitude? Is science merely the collection of data and the testing out of theories on the surface of reality, or can science penetrate to discover the inner workings of things (whether it be a body and a disease, a human society and how it is changing, or anything else) and the underlying dynamics that give rise to the surface phenomena? These are very important questions that are taken up in many of the works cited in BA’s outline, including the polemic “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past” by Ishak Baran and KJA in Demarcations #4.
While we didn’t come close to exploring the answers to all these questions, we did make a start of real substance—and that’s pretty important. I mean, I am attempting to draw together some themes as I write, but in the actual discussion things were much wilder than this. At one point someone argued that the real world doesn’t actually exist, “We all are an imagination of ourselves and we experience ourselves subjectively.” Someone else walked through the basic philosophical divide between materialism (the view that reality objectively exists and can be known) and idealism (the view that there is no objective reality, just the ideas of people or the existence of god). In arguing for materialism, they pointed out that one way you know the real world objectively exists is that when humans interact with it, it behaves the same way for everyone. For example, ice melts into water at the same temperature for everyone, regardless of whether someone else has given them that idea before.
Someone else introduced the rupture BA has made with the view that people, simply because of their oppressed status, somehow were more able to tell what is true, and brought alive some of the significance of this breakthrough. Another Revolution Club member commented on how rarely people think about how they think and how important it is that BA is paying attention to this. She had to repeat this statement different ways, because for many of the people present it was so true they’d never thought about it before, and it took them a minute before they even understood what she was posing.
All this, and much, much more, got unleashed as we went forward. Throughout it all, the significance of what BA has done in really developing a thoroughly scientific method and approach—and in providing us with his outline to appreciate and dig into it systematically—stood out. Through no fault of their own, most people have been denied and deprived of an understanding of science. And, as Ardea Skybreak points out in her interview, keeping people from understanding science really serves the ruling class of exploiters and oppressors because it makes it easy to fool the masses of people and keep them enslaved and oppressed. On the other hand, the work that BA has done—in advancing the scientific method, in breaking this down in his extensive body of work to make it accessible to the masses, and in providing practical ongoing leadership to carrying out a scientific revolution—is giving people the most important thing they need to rise up as conscious emancipators of humanity.
At a certain point, however, someone got a bit impatient. It seemed to him that perhaps we were straying off into things that had nothing to do with the urgent need to change the world. People are being killed every day, he insisted, and locked down in prisons. “What does any of what we are talking about have to do with really going out and fighting to end this?” It took a while before anyone came out with a clear and correct answer to this. This itself revealed a definite underappreciation for the game-changing significance of BA’s new synthesis, and in particular his development of communism as a science. Eventually, people worked their way to an answer: while it is absolutely essential that people stand up and fight back and while we ourselves put a lot of effort into this, without the new synthesis that BA has developed and leadership that is based on this, they will remain trapped in the world as it is.
If one does not burn with impatience to put an end to this system that causes so much misery for the masses of people here and all over the world, then they do not have the basis to be a revolutionary communist. But, if growing numbers do not take up the scientific approach to communist revolution that is concentrated in BA and his new synthesis, then the masses will never get free.
Someone pointed to the heroism of the masses who rose up in Egypt just a few years ago in the “Arab Spring,” and the heartbreak of all the horrors and rape and U.S.-backed torture and oppression that pervades Egypt today. They needed leadership grounded in the new synthesis! Or, look at the heroism of the Black Panther Party in this country’s history, or the women who rose up in the women’s liberation struggle—and look at the way Black people are still being gunned down by police and slammed into prisons in genocidal proportions and women’s rights are being stripped away and abortion clinics are being shot up. This is because there wasn’t a revolution and we need one—and we cannot make one, and we certainly cannot make one that leads to uprooting and abolishing all oppression, without BA’s new synthesis. If we really burn with impatience to see humanity emancipated, that should drive us to get deeper into the revolutionary theory and leadership BA is providing and we should help each other do so.
As soon as all this was said, a second person got impatient. She jumped to defend the Black Panther Party and the women’s liberation fighters, insisting they had been heroic and their efforts shouldn’t be dismissed. She insisted that they had made revolutions and that revolutions were happening all the time, “Just because they aren’t as big as you might like doesn’t mean you should look down on them.” She argued that even though there are still problems, things are much better for women than they used to be and much better for Black people and other minorities and this should be acknowledged.
One person jumped in to agree with her, while another began arguing that, in fact, things have been getting worse. But the leader of the discussion cut through this by speaking forcefully about what an actual revolution would mean. “Look, if we had made a revolution and now had revolutionary state power, there would not be ANY police terror and murder being carried out in the streets. I mean it, it would be over. It would not happen. No 16 shots in the back and then lies and cover-ups for years. No parents weeping and burying their children just because they are Black or Brown. No more generations locked in cages, dehumanized and degraded. And if the police did kill someone wrongfully, they would be on trial. And if people stood up to protest this, they would not be tear-gassed and beaten, and railroaded into jail. If we had state power, women would not have to walk through a militarized war zone to get an abortion, and they could do so on demand and without apology. They wouldn’t be being beaten and raped literally in the millions. We wouldn’t be sending drones around the world snuffing out wedding parties and reducing villages to rubble. These are not hard problems to solve—if we make a revolution and seize state power. If we don’t, they are impossible to solve.” It was necessary to pose this sharply because people needed to be shaken out of what were objectively very narrow sights.
She went on to acknowledge that there were many problems that are not so easy to solve, problems that would take a lot of time and a lot of work even after the seizure of power—like uprooting all the remaining vestiges of white supremacy and male domination, thoroughly changing the economy and repairing the environment as much as can be done, and bringing all of humanity into the realms of science and intellectual life and so much more—and this whole process is extremely complex. All this underscores why people need to get with the new synthesis and leadership BA is providing. He has developed a strategy and an approach to making this real. It is simply not true that the best we can do is fight heroically to push the same boulder up the hill only to have it come crashing back down on the masses of people year after year after year. Real and lasting emancipation is possible, this is what we must set our sights on and this is why we need to do the work to get into and to fight to get others into BA.1
As this agitation unfolded, the person who had initially expressed impatience at getting into so much theory dove back in, in agreement, adding his voice vigorously to the desire to see that kind of real liberation and not just more crumbs, and perking up to the questions of theory anew. One young woman’s eyes widened and she made clear that she’d never really thought about revolution in such a real way like that before.
That so much of this was so new for so many people gathered for the discussion only underscored how important it was that we were taking the time to dig into BA’s new synthesis outline. It also sharpened up a bigger question of what kind of ongoing culture we have in the movement for revolution, and how there needs to be a culture where all the questions taken up in BA’s outline are what we are living in and pulsing around all the time, not just on “special occasions.”
Towards the end, someone who had been in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War opened up about what a big deal it had been for him and other soldiers to get won over to supporting the Vietnamese side in that war. He spoke of how inspired he had been by their freedom struggle and their proclamations of fighting for some kind of communist liberation. He described how millions of them had been killed or given their lives fighting and actually defeating the U.S. Army, but then he choked up when he added, “But you look at Vietnam today and it is a hellhole. Even after all their sacrifice... This is why it matters that we take up the science and new synthesis of communism and BA’s leadership, because whether you really grasp communism or just call yourself a communist while really doing something else, it has life-and-death consequences.”
A young woman who had been challenged several times during the discussion but dove in eagerly with a good attitude all along the way added, “The important thing I am really getting is that this is possible for everybody to understand. I don’t understand it all yet, but I am getting that this is something everyone can learn and take up. Tonight I am going to buy a book from Bob Avakian so I can keep learning.”
We let these two comments stand as important points of orientation for all of us, new and old, not just in wrapping up a spirited discussion but in looking to our responsibilities going forward.
1. Bob Avakian has actually done a tremendous amount, going into the history of the Black Panther Party and the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s, summing these up and getting deeply into what WERE the lessons and how NOW to synthesize these lessons in going forward. Much of this can be found in his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond; My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist; Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution, particularly Part III looking at women’s liberation; “Rereading George Jackson,” from Getting Over the Two Great Humps: Further Thoughts on Conquering the World, and in other works. [back]
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Lots and lots of people are justifiably disgusted and freaked out by Donald Trump running for president—let alone the idea that he would actually win. Trump is a fascist!
But now Ted Cruz is being packaged as the “more reasonable” alternative to Trump as the Republican presidential candidate. When Trump says something totally reactionary and outrageous, Cruz can come along and say the same thing, but in a seemingly more reasonable and perhaps less repulsive way—and so some people think this Christian fascist is more moderate.
A Christian Fascist Agenda
Ted Cruz has strong backing from powerful sections of the U.S. ruling class. More specifically, Cruz has longstanding, carefully cultivated ties with leading Christian fundamentalists. For over a decade he has been building a base of support among key groupings of far right-wing Christian fascists.
Cruz began his official run for the presidency at Liberty University, a bastion of fundamentalist Christian fascism. Before a boisterous crowd of students, he pledged to head a federal government that would “defend the sanctity of human life, and to uphold the sacrament of marriage.” In other words, he is adamantly against a woman’s right to abortion and same-sex marriage. Cruz vows he will defund and probably prosecute Planned Parenthood.
Cruz says he will build a 700-mile-long wall and quadruple the amount of military and police aircraft along the U.S.-Mexico border. He attacks and slanders the many people throughout the country protesting police murder and brutality, and recently joined in the chorus of those spewing the lie that the real problem is cops under assault.
This summer, Cruz and other Republicans running for president spoke at South Carolina’s “Faith and Freedom Barbecue.” Cruz got repeated standing ovations for a speech one reporter described as “almost martial” (military). He said he would “rip to shreds” any agreement Obama signed with Iran, and blustered, “If the Ayatollah doesn’t understand that, we may have to help introduce him to the 72 virgins” (a crude and insulting vow to assassinate Iran’s leader). He also promised to “secure the border,” end sanctuary cities, and move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem (which would be an endorsement of Israel’s genocidal treatment of Palestine). He concluded by declaring “no man who doesn’t begin every day on his knees [i.e. praying] is fit to stand in the Oval Office [as president].”
In the December 15 Republican debate, Cruz defended previous statements that he would “carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion” and see whether “sand can glow in the dark.” Let’s be clear what these statements mean. Carpet bombing was a tactic of genocidal mass murder used by the U.S. against the people of Vietnam. It means saturating every part of a large area with highly destructive bombs. Carpet bombing is considered a war crime by the Geneva Conventions. Cruz’s talk about seeing if “sand can glow” is a threat to use nuclear weapons in the highly populated deserts of the Middle East, and has gone completely unchallenged in the U.S. media.
Cruz overtly advocates a Christian theocracy (religious doctrine ruling the government). He was personally “blessed” by David Lane, a crazed (and powerful) Christian fascist who wrote in a 2013 article, “Wage War to Restore a Christian America,” “... you ask, ‘what is our goal’? To wage war to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage with all of our might and strength that God will give us. You ask, ‘what is our aim’? One word only. Victory.”
In short, this is a very dangerous man. He is a committed religious fanatic who thinks women are breeding machines, subordinate to men and who should be denied the right to abortion. Who threatens the use of nuclear weapons as if it’s a joke. Who vehemently opposes equal rights for LGBT people. Who promises to triple the number of Border Patrol agents on the U.S.-Mexico border and build even more immigration prisons and enhance deportation. Who refuses to distance himself from fascist thuggery.
The Promotion of Cruz
The promotion of a Christian fascist like Ted Cruz points to, as we said about Trump: “Parallels between this situation and the early stages of the rise of Hitler in Germany—the most significant parallel being the ruling classes up against a whole set of crises for which they had no answers. The rulers of the USA confront a wave of uprisings and protests against a reign of police murder and terror that they rely on to keep millions of Black and Brown people locked down. They are bogged down deeper and deeper in unjust wars that bring misery to millions, with no way out. There is an intense and potentially explosive contradiction between changes in the situation of women in the world and traditional morality that has been a social glue holding America together since day one...”
THIS is the context for the promotion of Ted Cruz as the “more reasonable,” perhaps less repulsive fascist Republican presidential candidate.
But now is no time to be intimidated by the ugly repression offered up by the likes of Cruz. Nor is it time to succumb to the hopeless dream that the Democrats—who represent the same bloody, oppressive system—somehow represent a meaningful alternative. No. What humanity needs is revolution, changing everything, changing the whole world. And what is needed right now is working to build and make as powerful as possible the movement for revolution, so we can get there as soon as possible.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Midway through the 5th Republican Presidential Primary Debate, Hugh Hewitt, one of the “moderators” asked a question that as much as anything defined what this election is all about:
“We’re talking about ruthless things tonight—carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order air strikes that would kill innocent children by not the scores, but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?”
No candidate on that stage objected to the question or the premise behind it. There was some booing in the audience from Republicans who seem to have misinterpreted the question, and thought Hewitt was opposed to killing “innocent children not by the scores, but the hundreds and thousands.” But Hewitt made clear in post-interview talk shows that he meant that anyone who is going to be president of the United States needed that level of “lethality.” And that he asked this of Ben Carson, because he wanted to know if Carson was too “soft” to be president, or whether he was willing to do this.
This is a system where the willingness to massacre thousands of innocent children is a job requirement to be president. It is a system of war criminals and mass murdering baby killers. Always has been, still is, and will be until there is an actual revolution.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This Holiday Season Do Something Truly Meaningful
As society is shaking with resistance and ferment, the appeals from prisoners to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) for revolutionary literature are mushrooming. PRLF is calling on YOU to step up in these tumultuous times to ensure that PRLF can meet these rising requests.
PRLF sends subscriptions to Revolution newspaper to over 800 prisoners all over the country. So far this year, PRLF has received almost 100 requests for new subscriptions to Revolution just from people who had been given a copy by a fellow prisoner. For example:
“I am an avid reader. A brotha down a few cells from me shared all your newspapers with me. Your paper not only educated me, it gave me strength and faith and inspired me. I humbly request for a donated subscription of Revolution . In return, I’ll share all the newspapers with the brothas here every chance I get, so they too can keep up with the struggles, activities and functions throughout the world. The RCP would be immensely thanked for its selfless service. Your paper connects with more people than what you may think. For myself and all the brothas and sisters, bond and free, I salute you. In struggle.”
The literature that PRLF sends not only connects people behind the walls to breaking world events, but provides an opportunity for prisoners to wrangle over the deep questions of where the outrages come from, and real solutions— like the kind of revolution that is needed and possible—and to dig into the writings of BA. Many come to see the critical role they themselves can play in this whole process. One prisoner wrote in October:
“I just got done reading “BAsics: from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian” and it opened my eyes to a lot of what is going on in the world. Here’s the thing, I’d like to know more but unfortunately I am one of the many indigent inmates in America and have no one to help me learn. Is there anyway you could send me two books free of charge? It would be much appreciated if you could. They are: “Constitution of the RCP” and “Manifesto of the Communist Party” by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. I have been ignorant my whole life and it’s time to change that, a learned man is a good man.”
$35 / year will fill the request for one new subscription to Revolution newspaper
$100 will pay for sending 10 copies of Basics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian to prisoners
$2,100 will fulfill 60 subscription requests currently on our waiting list
$3,000 will fill requests for revolutionary and progressive books both for individuals and those in study groups developed from this literature
Tax-deductible donations can be made here, or by check/money order, payable to Global Exchange/PRLF, and mailed to PRLF: 1321 N. Milwaukee Ave., #407, Chicago, IL 60622
Regular (non-tax-deductible) donations can be made here or by check/money order, payable to PRLF, and mailed to PRLF: 1321 N. Milwaukee Ave., #407, Chicago, IL 60622
Contact PRLF: email PRLF_fund@PRLF.org, or call 773-960-6952
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund is a sponsored project of Global Exchange, a 501c3 nonprofit international human rights organization. Contributions on behalf of Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund may be made payable to Global Exchange/PRLF and are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The world is up against a dangerous and intensifying environmental crisis, with climate change the cutting edge. 2014 was the warmest year in Earth’s recorded history, and 2015 shows every sign of breaking that record. The ice caps at the North and South Poles are melting, and sea levels are rising; carbon in the atmosphere is turning the oceans more acidic, posing great threats to marine life; scientists warn of increasing disruptions of ecosystems and the threat of mass extinction of species. (See “Some Basic Facts on Global Warming/Climate Change.”)
The last reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2014 warned of the danger of “long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” The panel said that the greater the warming, the greater the danger of “abrupt and irreversible change.” (For further analysis, see the special Revolution/revcom.us issue “State of EMERGENCY! The Plunder of Our Planet, The Environmental Catastrophe & The Real Revolutionary Solution.”)
This crisis—driven by the relentless burning of oil, coal, and natural gas; destruction of forests; and harmful agricultural methods—set the background and context for the Paris climate agreement passed last week. The agreement was acclaimed by the world’s big powers. Obama said the agreement was “a turning point for the world”—that it met the test of our time and was bringing into being a situation in which “the planet will be in better shape for the next generation.” This is, as climate scientist James Hansen put it, “bullshit.”
As if to scream to the world just how much the agreement does not put these powers on a course to a solution to the environmental crisis, just a few days after U.S. representatives endorsed the Paris agreement, the U.S. Congress passed—and Obama signed—an appropriations bill that includes provisions to lift the ban on U.S. exports of crude oil. Estimates are that ending the export ban could increase U.S. oil production by more than three million barrels a day and cause the release of more than 500 million tons of additional carbon pollution per year. According to Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Biological Climate Law Institute, “Lifting the ban on crude oil exports would undercut all the other progress our nation may make in fighting climate change. It would increase planet-warming pollution and unleash more fracking and dangerous drilling in America’s vulnerable communities and precious wildlife habitat.”
For the U.S. to do this while they are still patting themselves on the back for supposedly finding the solution to global climate change is brazen and disgusting. But it does point to the truth that there is a relentless compulsion under this system to produce, refine, and transport fossil fuels, and to wield them as weapons in strategic contention with other powers. The Paris agreement did not in any way undercut THAT.
The crucial lesson to take from the Paris agreement—taking into account what the agreement was and what it was not—is not simply that it failed to do what it claims to do, but that this capitalist-imperialist system cannot solve the problem of the environmental crisis. The crisis is that deep, and environmental devastation is deeply bound up with all the other oppression and horror that this system produces around the planet.
This system not only ravages the planet and its people, it is fundamentally out of control of the imperialist rulers themselves. Even if the capitalist-imperialist leaders of the system sincerely wanted to pull it back from hurtling toward an environmental catastrophe, they could not.
To get into why this system cannot solve this crisis, let’s look at what it would take to even begin to really deal with global warming, which is just one part of the unfolding environmental crisis.
» Capitalist interests have many trillions of dollars invested in fossil fuel reserves and in technology, transport, and machines that burn fossil fuels—and they spend billions more every year to find new reserves. Yet what is needed is a very rapid transformation away from fossil fuel-dominated power production to overwhelming reliance on renewable power sources like solar, wind, and geothermal (heat energy from the Earth). The immense capital investments cannot determine the direction of energy production but instead would have to be effectively abandoned.
» Transportation in places like the U.S. and in cities all over the world would have to be completely reorganized and restructured; and the economically wasteful and environmentally disastrous system of individuals driving private cars would need to be radically and quickly transformed into safe, environmentally sound, and user-friendly public transportation systems.
» Agriculture and food production would need to be radically transformed away from today’s highly capital-intensive, energy-consuming, and chemical- and pesticide-dependent agriculture geared for profit for extremely concentrated global capital, which rests on the labor of exploited and oppressed labor in the U.S. and around the world. This system of agriculture not only hurts the climate, people, and animals, but also harms the land itself. A big percentage of the carbon emissions that drive global climate change now come from agriculture, the expansion of livestock production, and the destruction of forests.
» All of these changes—and this is only a part of what has to happen—have to take place on a global scale, with people working together across the globe, bringing together scientific knowledge, resources, and masses of people to do everything necessary to deal with this crisis.
These are again just some key, but essential, points of what would have to be done to stop the deadly injection of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere. Any serious evaluation of the agreement in Paris must start from what is actually needed to solve the crisis. An agreement that does not do this but instead proceeds from what is economically and politically in the interests of this or that group in power, or of all the groups now in power put together, fails the test of what really does have to be done to meet the challenges of what scientists are pointing out and have been pointing out for decades now.
Instead of any plan like this, the powers went into Paris with fundamentally different aims, plans, and objectives. Their aim was NOT to meet the challenges posed by scientists but instead to manage this crisis in a way that allows them to preserve their system (for now) and advance the immediate interests of the dominant powers. This comes through in everything about the Paris conference. Here is a glaring contradiction in the agreement: The stated goal of climate negotiations has been to keep global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times. Large changes have already occurred from just the 1 degree C change that has already happened—and scientists say that a rise above 2 degrees C could be disastrous. But those dominating the process at Paris openly admitted before the conference that they were not even trying to make an agreement that would keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees C.
Global warming is leading to the accelerated melting of glaciers around the world. Above, meltwater from the Canada Glacier in Antarctica. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
All the goals for greenhouse gas emission cuts that came out of this conference are voluntary, with each country setting goals based on their own national interests, not the needs of the environment or humanity. And the cold truth is that even if every single country completely meets all of their pledges, which is to say at the least extremely unlikely, this would still lead to a catastrophic temperature rise of around 3 degrees C or more. This conference set no firm timeline on when fossil fuels need to be completely phased out—while most scientists say that to keep warming at 1.5 degrees C or less (which is what is needed), the complete phase-out must happen globally by 2050, and for rich countries by 2030. None of this was even on the table in Paris.
This is a climate agreement that at the most basic level accepts that the global temperature will continue to rise and proposes no actual plan to stop it. (The agreement does propose future climate meetings every five years, with countries promising to come up with better goals in the future—but how much better is never defined, and there really is no real plan to stop the climb in temperature.) The agreement is not a plan for responding to what is actually required to stop global warming—it is a plan that aims to manage a crisis that is only going to get worse under this system.
Further, there is no serious commitment or binding obligation of imperialists and richer countries to aid those countries without resources, which are hit the hardest by climate change. There is a non-binding goal of $100 billion, including both aid and forms of capital investment. The U.S. in particular acted very strongly to block any language in the treaty that might hint at “reparations” to be paid by the richer countries. In a situation in which the imperialist countries have robbed, plundered, and exploited the oppressed countries for centuries, in which the imperialist countries are overwhelmingly responsible for carbon in the atmosphere, and in which a basic criterion for real change is genuine global cooperation, as touched on above, the Paris agreement works to continue to enshrine the horrendous power relations that dominate the planet. In no way does it promote genuinely working together.
A big part of the supposed “plan” for “success” off of the Paris agreement, which was hailed in the press, is the claim that the agreement will unleash all kinds of capitalist investment in clean energy. First, this is a wish, based on a false understanding of how capitalism actually works. And more than that, it is NOT a plan to actually transform the world in the way we outlined above to actually deal with the crisis—it is a way to make profit. Just to get a sense of the realities of this: after decades of alarm around climate change, only 1.6 percent of world energy need is met by solar and wind now. And energy companies not only continue to extract fossil fuels and have huge amounts of assets still in the ground that they plan to extract, they continue to invest billions per year in finding more reserves. All this only goes up and down based on “market realities,” economic downturns, etc., NOT on the environmental needs of the planet.
The International Business Times predicts (and hails the prediction) that by 2040 renewable energy will have more money invested in it than in fossil fuels. But the reality here is that even if that were to happen, it means a great deal of fossil fuel would still be burned. The Business Times article itself says, “Climate change pollution will increase until 2029, and emissions will still be 13 percent above 2014 levels by 2040.” This, again, has nothing at all to do with any plan to actually meet the need for combating climate change. It is a plan to make profit and to attempt to mitigate the climate disaster a little bit along the way.
One stark exposure of just how far this agreement is from actually meeting the real needs posed by the reality of climate change: The Paris agreement does not even mention carbon emissions by airlines and shipping, which now constitute five percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions and which are expected to be an even bigger proportion in the future. That five percent is equal to the amount of carbon emitted by the lowest 164 emitting countries. What a stark exposure of how lopsided the imperialist global economy is—airline and shipping emissions, which overwhelmingly serve the imperialist countries, equal the emissions of 164 countries! And the Paris agreement does not even touch it! This is no plan for combating climate change—it is a plan for preserving the imperialist world order.
And finally, the emissions of the U.S. military—the largest institutional carbon polluter in the world—are not counted in the Paris calculations. It comes down to this: the U.S. imperialists are not going to use battery power for their jet fighters, they are going to use jet fuel. And they are NOT going to let the carbon pollution by their military be a point of discussion in any climate talks. For them, first things first. And that does NOT mean the needs of the planet—it means the needs of this system, including the ability to rain death and terror down from the sky in the interests of protecting and expanding their empire.
To sum up the essential point: The Paris conference did not even try to do what is actually required to respond to the climate crisis. It produced an agreement that preserves the present rotten and oppressive imperialist global order and does not tackle in any way what is really required to respond to this crisis. This is because of the deep structure and dynamics of the capitalist-imperialist global order. THAT is the problem. And THAT is why only revolution can bring a real solution in the interests of humanity.
Only actual revolution can bring into being a socialist society that CAN solve the problems outlined here and much, much more. The kinds of transformations required—from fossil fuels to renewable power production; to transportation systems that meet the needs of society but do not flood the atmosphere with carbon and other pollution; to agriculture that can meet the needs of the people while preserving the planet—all of this can be done under socialism. And socialist countries must and can at the same time be base areas for spreading the world revolution and fighting for the greatest possible ecological transformations globally.
As we said in the polemic “Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ vs. Actually Confronting the Crisis”:
A socialist society can mobilize the people, scientific knowledge, and resources to drastically restrict and ultimately move beyond the use of fossil fuels, while solving the practical and economic problems that will come with such a transition to renewable energy. And do that as part of moving to a world in which human society has an economic foundation that takes care of the planet as one of its foundational principles.
This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:
- the dimensions of the emergency...
- the source of its causes in the capitalist system, and the impossibility of that system solving this crisis...
- a way out and way forward for humanity—a revolutionary society in which we could actually live as custodians of nature, rather than as its plunderers.
Also available in brochure format (downloadable PDF)
Capitalist society screams at people “buy, buy, buy,” and ranks people by the money and “goodies” they own. With socialism, it will be possible not just to raise opposition to consumerism as a kind of moral principle, but to have an entire society in which profit no longer rules, and where it is no longer necessary for the functioning of the economy to sell more and more goods. In this society, the relations between people will not be based on buying and selling.
It will now be possible for people, increasingly and in a mass way, to see themselves not from within capitalism’s framework of a race for accumulation, “each against all,” but instead as emancipators of humanity and the planet. People will come to see nature not as objects to be hurled into production for profit or carelessly despoiled, but as a rich, living fabric of which humans are one part. They will learn how the natural world is billions of years in the making, and that each human generation has the responsibility to pass it to the next in an improved condition.
This is just a glimpse of what a revolutionary society and people can do. This world is possible. This is what the Revolutionary Communist Party is taking responsibility for—building a movement for an actual revolution with the party at its core to defeat and dismantle the state institutions of the old society, to create a new state power and socialist system, and to work urgently towards the full emancipation of humanity and protecting the planet for current and future generations.
A desire to stop what the imperialist system is doing to the planet has brought tens and at times hundreds of thousands into the streets, and people have waged powerful and courageous struggle against things like Arctic oil drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline. And people took to the streets of Paris during the Paris climate talks, at times going up against police-state measures. Hundreds of thousands came out in protests worldwide. Such struggles are both a crucial and urgent part of resisting environmental crisis now, and are a crucial part of the pathway to the revolution that is urgently needed to unshackle the potential of the people of the planet to respond to environmental devastation in the way that can take humanity and the planet to a radically different and better place.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
From A World To Win News Service
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Paris, December 12. AP photo
Die-in during protest near the Eiffel Tower, Paris, December 12. AP photo
December 14, 2015. A World to Win News Service. As the clock struck noon on December 12, at a "red line" protest representing the temperature line that our warming planet must not cross, thousands of climate demonstrators assembled dressed in red or sporting red umbrellas. In the avenue stretching behind the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, they unfurled giant banners and long red ribbons of fabric, some laden with red tulips in a tribute to the victims of climate change, marching up and down in an area police had sealed off.
Afterwards on the way to the Eiffel Tower, some 2,000 people occupied a bridge over the Seine River in a well-prepared civil disobedience action, surrounding themselves with giant inflatable blocks. On the Champ de Mars behind the Tower, many thousands formed a human chain in the afternoon, followed by a rally. Numerous lively banners in English and French denounced the climate crisis, as people from many other European countries streamed in to join, along with a small "army" of Danish polar bears. Organizers say that more than 20,000 people joined in climate protests on December 12.
While 24 environmental activists continued to be held under "preventive" house arrest, the French ruling class ended up authorizing the human chain and what were billed as "climate of peace" activities. However, aside from a few-second glimpse, most French mainstream media systematically blocked reporting of the December 12 protests. Instead, stealing the hour and the moment, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, presiding over the UN climate summit in Paris, announced at noon that a new CoP21 document had been finalized. French and world media focused entirely on this self-congratulatory fest, revelling in the achievement of a certain uneasy consensus among countries' rulers to make promises about reducing carbon emissions. English media emphasized the ambiguity of whether all nations are bound by the agreement, while the French President Hollande crowed that it was "historical, universal and binding." This agreement must be carefully analyzed, but numerous climate experts and activists have already begun to debunk it as anything but a plan to cut down on the use of fossil fuels—only one dimension of the planet-wide disaster underway.
Despite the difficulties created by the state of emergency and ban on demonstrations declared after the November 13 massacre in Paris, an enthusiastic international team of supporters of Bob Avakian's new synthesis traveled to Paris to distribute nearly 8,000 leaflets and debate the solution to the climate problem with the thousands of climate activists gathering there between November 29 and December 12.
Information is still coming in to AWTW News Service reporters who also went to Paris during CoP21. Many activists were highly mobilized to oppose the official UN climate summit process, while others conveyed messages designed to pressure leaders to act responsibly—emphasizing especially the diverse and dangerous effects of the climate crisis and its impact on people around the world. The official CoP21 organizers had created a "civil society" space to allow a select number of religious, academic, NGO, and business groups to express their views near the summit site, itself of course off limits to the public. Exhibits and conferences presented green technologies, water and desertification problems, the dangers of fracking, agro-ecological innovations, forest and ecosystem recovery initiatives, the effect of climate warming on women farmers, climate-induced migrants, land degradation, urban agriculture, and a host of other issues. Some workshop attendees-turned-demonstrators managed to sneak in a few unexpected actions inside this space, including an unauthorized red line stretching outside the summit doors on the final day, and a die-in by Black Lives Matter sympathizers who wore surgical masks and chanted, "We can't breathe, racial justice now!” a welcome and rowdy eruption in the otherwise overly proper atmosphere in this “green zone,” where attendees could charge their cell phones by pedaling on stationary bikes.
At the same time, far from the summit site, a coalition of 130 NGOs, together with various groups involved in some level of climate activism, took part in a week of meetings, film projections, plays, concerts, and a series of happenings by sculpture artists in various locations in Paris and a weekend Village of Alternatives and a People’s Climate summit held in a nearby suburb. The AntiCop food collective fed people for over two weeks in makeshift vegetarian food lines in the streets. An artists' collective turned over its abandoned factory space to climate activists to produce brightly colored signs and banners. Clowns were reportedly hauled in for questioning by police for street actions inciting people to laugh. Debate in various languages went on everywhere.
This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:
A prominent figure in these activities was the Canadian writer Naomi Klein, who one evening also shared a podium with British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. People listened attentively to these speakers who urged them to continue the struggle to stop polluting corporations, maintain pressure on political leaders, replace oil and gas jobs with care industry and "climate jobs," and to expand local solutions and community control over energy choices, as has been implemented in some regions in Germany. They argued that building a humanist movement combining trade union activism with food sovereignty, human and labor rights, as well as environmental justice causes can work together with the goal of greening and humanizing the current system. This message appealed to and reinforced colossal illusions that the Earth can be protected if people remain vigilant and push for gradual change, called "energy democracy," which in fact was what Klein meant by “changing everything.”
There were many resistance actions during the two-week period by people who directed their anger, energy, and understanding of the urgency towards the state and its various representatives, rather than focusing on these narrower conceptions of tinkering with a system many think is out of control. The message “Only revolution can save the planet” that floated alongside some of these activities attracted many dozens of discussions with activists, not to mention the hundreds of people who wanted to photograph the large banner with the globe breaking the chains. In addition to the revolutionaries, many groups also highlighted the current migrant/refugee crisis and France’s ultra-hypocritical role, the war in Syria, and many other crimes of the system and its rulers who were debating the fate of the planet in the north of Paris.
Peddlers of Klein-type reformist thinking aside, the word “system” was constantly used and chanted, but revolutionaries talking with people found that this very rarely meant the capitalist-imperialist system as a whole that is responsible for the current crisis. People understood and sharply targeted various aspects of capitalism, but were not often clear on its functioning, beyond the notion that it puts profit before people. Others advocated a different energy system, a more democratic system, or more attentive leaders leading the system. In the course of intervening in public meetings and debates, holding a lively and busy literature stand at the Village of Alternatives, participating in several different mobilisations during the two weeks of protest, as well as organizing their own events, these views challenged the team of new synthesis supporters to explain why revolution and a different communist future really are necessary—not only to deal with the environment, but to solve the entire range of social problems facing humanity.
Many activists asked what kind of revolution was meant, how we would make one, couldn’t it be peaceful like many of the climate organizers were arguing, why if China used to be revolutionary did it become a big capitalist polluter, and won’t the growing climate awareness and movement be sufficient to influence decisions to implement green energy sources. A number of “defense zone” youth (active in trying to block the construction of a dam in south-western France and defending their encampment from the police, who killed a young man just over a year ago) were very interested in talking about revolutionary change. At the same time, they argued that immediate action is more useful, a commonly heard view that tends to separate such resistance from building a movement for revolution. In taking up the challenge of planting a revolutionary pole in the midst of this diverse, creative, and energetic movement, the team gained new insight into the political terrain influencing it as well as the constantly renewed (and renewable) illusions holding back those who could develop from this environment battle into revolutionary activists.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
From A World To Win News Service
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
December 14, 2015. A World to Win News Service. In Paris, Brussels, Berlin, and London, revolutionaries distributed the following text in French, English, German, Farsi, and Turkish during the two weeks of climate protests against the CoP21 in Europe. Signed Planet Resistance, it is dated 16 November 2015.
The massive flow of migrants and refugees struggling to reach Europe to survive, two outmoded political systems and ideologies clashing all over the world and most recently in the terrible events in Paris, Beirut, Ankara, Kunduz Hospital, Sinai... the urgent state of the planet endangering the global ecosystem: these dramatic scenes are the theatre of a whole rotten system that has to go.
Even if the CoP21 leaders pledge to reduce carbon emissions, this meeting of ministers and experts is not going to shake the empire(s) they represent and apologise for: the “intended contributions” show that, as do the heated debates over which parts of an agreement could be legally binding.
Why should we have any faith that those governing the capitalist world order, hogging most of the globe’s resources and “leading” in destroying the environment will “lead” in taking major steps that go against their basic interests? Against their compulsion to fiercely beat out their competitors in accumulating wealth and strengthening their domination and control over countries that goes with it, regardless of the consequences? How can we leave the health of the planet, the beauty of nature and the future of human society in the hands of the world’s biggest murderers of people – let alone of the physical environment itself?
After a CoP21 agreement is argued and signed they will resume the frenzied race among them to find new fossil fuels and to further exploit all resources – and people: that is capitalism’s lifeblood. If one of them starts using biofuels the other will undercut his production costs with cheaper fossil fuels. Countries like France spend billion$ to set up nuclear plants (but not to make them “safe” from Fukushimas or Chernobyls), and how long before they have to spend million$ more to dismantle them when they are no longer profitable (enough)? Obama did cancel part of one of a dozen pipelines after prolonged protest and just before the CoP21, but he has not stopped coal production and, as the president of the number one planetary carbon emitter of all times, has moved ahead on pursuing new oil and gas, preferably “national”, sources, in line with “our national interests”.
Paris, December 12. Photo: Planet Resistance
Rich countries promising to cut greenhouse gases will continue to “off-load” much of their emissions to poorer countries producing many of the wealthier countries’ goods. This is not just about will or good intentions: it is the logic of capitalism, it must expand or die – for essentially everything it produces. The main arteries of the world economy depend on fossil fuels – transport, steel production, oil, agribusiness – the list is long. Add the geo-strategic rivalry of the monster energy consumers in the imperialist armed forces and the scale of powerful forces working against confronting the environmental crisis is all too clear. This system works as an interconnected whole, preventing rational and sustainable planning, and we can’t just clean up its dirty toenails.
Many worthy and creative local projects implementing green alternatives are sprouting up that may not want to depend on capitalist markets. Unfortunately they won’t significantly affect these main dynamics of capitalist growth, crisis and the ruthless ways it exacerbates the harsh inequalities among countries and peoples. It is also true that the CoP21 captains will accept to put in place some measures. There will always be disagreements among rival imperialists. The trouble is, even if as individuals they wanted to do what is necessary to reverse the climate crisis, they cannot, because the system they are locked into cannot operate in any other way. And if we are not willing to “get” this cold truth and to challenge capitalism’s rulers leading the earth towards catastrophe, we end up helping provide the political “fuel” to keep it going, unpleasant as that is.
Don’t we have to stop the whole system that is speeding up climate change? Real system change means revolution!
We have to both imagine and fight for genuine and complete system change. We need to build a powerful resistance movement against the source of the problem and take responsibility for organising society in a radically different way.
Confronting today’s environmental crisis can only occur on a world scale, with a global perspective, and it can only happen under a different social system. Revolution by the oppressed and proletarian people proceeds from the interests of humanity as a whole and the planet as a whole. It replaces the people- and planet-ravaging logic of profit and private ownership blocking solutions to all social ills plaguing the people of the world and holding them back from transforming it. Not by wishing will the current rulers see reason, but by seizing power to enable a socialist state to lead this complex process towards communism. This type of socialist revolution, whatever form it may first take in different types of countries – imperialist or those dominated by imperialism – can with political power address environmental issues and reorganise the economy in a sustainable, rational, and socially just way. It can establish new global norms and begin to repair and reverse the devastation of the earth.
A socialist state can produce and distribute food based on social need, long-term land use planning, protecting ecosystems and developing biodiversity. Industrial production so wasteful and damaging to the environment today will be restructured, planned and regulated, together with re-envisioned modes of transport, human habitat and burgeoning cities. Renewable forms of energy and green technologies will be further developed and implemented on a mass scale: only a state aiming to transform all of society and the world can unlock the human potential to accomplish this. Consumer culture can be transformed. Truly innovative scientific knowledge can be fully put to use together with the conscious activity of people ourselves to solve the vast array of social problems facing humanity.
The 20th century socialist revolutions in the Soviet Union and revolutionary China made unparalleled breakthroughs but also suffered from shortcomings conceptually and practically. The new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian summarises both these advances and problems with an eye to the future we need to build. With this perspective and in this global framework that “the whole world comes first”, socialist revolution will also lead people to overcome the huge differences between oppressed and oppressor countries. This other world is possible; in fact seen from this angle, the possibilities for transforming the world are almost unlimited. And the needs are way past urgent.
Unrealistic? What is realistic about continuing on the current path careening towards destruction of the planet and subordinating most of the world’s people to the dictates of a bloody and merciless system that will never “dismantle” or “green” itself, some of whose statesmen may pass resolutions but never enforce them? How realistic is it not to act on the reality that a Cop71 (or whatever they call it by then) will be necessary in 50 years time after the Polynesian islands and Bangladesh are underwater, many more species and life forms have disappeared, and millions more people are left on the sidelines in a much worse scenario than today: those who are not decimated will be trying to survive and to migrate to countries that have built a ring of walls and barbed wire fences to exclude them at gunpoint. Is this the “realistic” world we want?
We cannot be satisfied with the illusion that partial steps by industrialists or lifestyle alternatives are sufficient, that “degrowth” is a real option: in short, that confronting the capitalist-imperialist system is not necessary. The guardians of the current social order will constantly come up with new promises – packaged in a variety of shapes, colours and liberal democratic messages for as long as they are allowed to rule.
Society has to be revolutionized. We need a movement for revolution that acts to put an end to every injustice and every crime this system commits, including climate change. The movement against the destruction of the planet must become part of this revolutionary solution. A movement that both resists capitalism and works towards breaking with its cold-hearted calculations that will continue to prevent any serious clean energy and green technologies from ever being implemented on the scale needed. We shouldn’t tolerate, in any way, the strengthening of the great lopsidedness of this world and the suffering that capitalism brings down daily on the people. We need to become a force for revolution for a new world that approaches this climate crisis and every social problem completely differently in the interests of humanity as a whole. Look for our Planet Resistance banner and t-shirts: Only revolution can save the planet! We have a world to win!
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader of revcom.us and supporter of Stop Patriarchy:
At a mall in San Francisco, five days before Christmas. Photos: Special to revcom.us
It is Sunday afternoon, five days before Christmas. An indoor San Francisco mall is packed with people doing their last-minute holiday shopping. A woman walks by holding high in the air a coat hanger with a red-soaked cloth hanging from the tip. Her white pants are stained red from the crotch down the inside of her legs. Her shirt bears the words, “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology.” Over her face she is holding the picture of Rosie Jimenez, a woman who died from a botched illegal abortion.
As she steps onto the escalator, eyes turn in her direction. Someone takes a picture with their phone. She gets to the top and steps off, moving toward a central location in the mall, where she joins two other women similarly dressed, each with the face of another dead woman. The trio falls over and lies on the ground, motionless. Another woman steps in beside them and announces loudly that what people see before them is the reality of what happens when abortion is illegal—women die. She declares that forced motherhood is female enslavement, and that faced with an all-out assault on abortion rights and escalating violence against providers, if you care about the future for women everywhere, you have to get in the streets and oppose the massive, woman-hating Walk for “Life” January 23. Others are passing out fliers like mad to a curious and sometimes cheering, sometimes jeering swarm of people. As security gathers and tries to figure out what to do, people crowd around the spiraling railings all ten stories up in the mall, stare down at the scene below them, and dozens of cell phone cameras capture the scene.
In one month’s time, on the day after the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, an anti-abortion march of tens of thousands will go right past this mall, and this “flash mob” action was the first of many planned actions to take a stand for abortion rights and go up in the face of these woman-haters who want to control women’s lives and bodies. In the past year there have been increasing restrictions placed on abortion throughout this country. Planned Parenthood has come under major attacks, both politically with regard to funding as well as physically as with the recent shooting in Colorado Springs.
And it’s not only the anti-abortion proponents who are contributing to this climate. Even supposedly “pro-choice” candidates promote their position in a way that makes abortion seem like something to be ashamed of. The mantra of abortion being “safe, legal and rare,” suggests that the rarity of abortions is at least as important as the safety and legality of it.
Unfortunately, the rarity of safe and legal abortions has become a very deadly reality in today’s political climate. Right now, six states have only one abortion provider. “Abortion deserts” are rapidly spreading across the U.S.—there are expanses of 600 miles where there is no abortion provider. In Texas, which has set the stage for the legislation that has shut down dozens of abortion clinics, women have begun to self-induce abortions. This is what happened to Tennessee’s Anna Yocca, who would have needed to travel 45 miles for an abortion, and is now in jail on attempted murder charges because of her state’s “feticide” law.
The movement that wants to abolish abortion is actually fighting for an archaic role for women—property of men, breeders of children, locked out of participating in broader society outside the family. This is a hell on earth for women. There is nothing wrong with abortion. Women should not have to risk their lives to get an abortion. Nor should they have to apologize for their desire to get an abortion. Women have every right to lead as full lives as men and have control over if and when they are ready to raise a family. Women are not incubators!
On January 22 in DC and January 23 in San Francisco—where will you be? We are calling on YOU to take a stand against the anti-abortion March for Forced Motherhood. We must rise up and call for ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY! Don’t let the future belong to the woman-haters.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Opponents of the U.S. torture camp at Guantánamo will protest Monday, January 11, the 14th anniversary of the Bush regime’s establishment of an isolated military prison where 779 men were held without charges. Many were tortured by the U.S. military when captured, often after they were turned in by local militias who collected a $5,000 bounty, or moved around to other secret prisons in Asia and Europe before being kept at Guantánamo.
Many years of international protest won the release of most prisoners, as it became clear that the U.S. had no evidence against the vast majority. Reports of torture were verified by attorneys who fought for the prisoners’ right to legal representation, and prisoners themselves struggled for justice through hunger strikes and learned English to get their stories out.
Of the 107 prisoners still held in the torture camp that Obama said he would close in 2009, 48 have been “approved” for transfer, but are denied freedom until “security conditions can be met’,” three have been convicted by a military commission (a process designed by the military to get convictions), and seven are awaiting military commission trials; 49 more have never been charged. The U.S. government claims these uncharged prisoners cannot be released because they are too “dangerous,” and they can’t be tried because they’ve been tortured.
World Can’t Wait, a participant in the January protests, says: “The real interests of the vast majority of people in this country are to oppose the crimes of the U.S. empire―to stop thinking like Americans and start thinking about humanity, and to act on that conviction. We are not giving up on the mission of closing this open insult to humanity that is Guantánamo.”
Protesting the U.S. military detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. January 2013. Photo: AP
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
This past week, the New York Times published details of deadly atrocities that were committed by members of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 2 in Afghanistan in 2012. The Times also reported how Navy commanders conspired to cover up the crimes and dismiss the accusations against the SEALs. The Navy SEALs are an elite “special operations unit” with the explicit mission to carry out covert assassinations of “America’s enemies.”
What happened was this: a bomb exploded at a local Afghan police station in the village of Kalach, killing one policeman. Afghan police then rounded up alleged “suspects” at the local marketplace. They arrested three out-of-town junk merchants, beat them severely, then marched them to the nearby U.S. base and handed them over to the SEAL team.
According to testimony from U.S. Army enlisted men at the base, three SEALs proceeded to torture the Afghan prisoners. They dropped heavy rocks on the men’s groins and chests, stood with their boots on the men’s heads, knee-bashed them in the stomach, fired handguns next to their ears, and inflicted a form of waterboarding. One of the men in custody later died from his mistreatment.
Afterwards, the Army soldiers reported the abuse, but in the course of a Navy investigation, the soldiers were put under pressure to change their report, and their motives were attacked.
Eventually, in an internal U.S. Navy “Captain’s Mast,” which is the least serious form of Navy disciplinary procedure, even a reprimand for failing to report an incident was dismissed. Two of the SEALs involved have since been promoted.
The Times also reported that the SEALs at this base had continually abused Afghans that they had contact with: “According to the soldiers and Afghan villagers, they had amused themselves by tossing grenades over the walls of their base, firing high-caliber weapons at passing vehicles and even aiming slingshots at children, striking them in the face with hard candy.”
Mullah Muhammadzai, a village elder, said that he and other elders were afraid to be called to meetings at the U.S. base because they often were beaten there and they never knew if they would emerge alive.
These atrocities shed light on the real nature of the U.S. Navy SEALs, who have been raised to the level of pop culture icons and great “heroes” of the nation on the level of the fictional Marvel Comics Avengers. They are portrayed as being able to do no wrong, bringing glory to the USA—from the sensationalized accounts of their assassination of Osama bin Laden to their immortalization in the video game “Call of Duty.” This in a country where genocide—the near wiping out of the indigenous populations of North America—had long ago been turned into a child’s game of “cowboys and Indians.”
The war crimes carried out by the SEALs are part of the enormous devastation, death, and destruction that U.S. has caused in Afghanistan. From the very start, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was carried out with terrible brutality and vengeful murder. Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued the guidelines for the U.S. response: “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” Through 2014, the number of people killed in Afghanistan due to the war is estimated on the low end to be nearly 400,000. According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, over a quarter-million Afghans are living as refugees outside the country and there are nearly a million internally displaced people, all lives that have been torn apart by the U.S. war and occupation.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
by Larry Everest | November 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
After the horrific November 13 terrorist attack in Paris by ISIS, the rulers in the U.S., France, and other imperialist powers are again trying to line people up behind their war moves—including people who’ve opposed previous wars like the ones in Vietnam and Iraq. “We’re not perfect,” they say, “but at least we aren’t religious lunatics like ISIS, and right now we have to defeat ISIS. There won’t be any peace, and people will continue to suffer unless we defeat ISIS.”
Bullshit... on many levels.
The U.S. defeat in the Vietnam War weakened the empire militarily and limited its ability to invade or attack other countries for a number of years; and the U.S. defeat in Iraq and its difficulties in Afghanistan have prevented it from carrying out other large-scale invasions in the Middle East. Above: the scramble for the last helicopter out of the U.S. embassy compound in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh CIty), Vietnam in 1975 as liberation forces finally drove the U.S. out.
The U.S. and these other imperialists aren’t waging war to “stop terrorism.” They’re conducting wars, military interventions, and maneuvering diplomatically to preserve the system of global capitalist exploitation that they dominate, a system which grinds up, crushes, uproots, and casts off literally billions of people. So when the U.S. acts, they act in order to destroy whatever they happen to feel is in the way of their domination and/or to set up or protect oppressive relations and oppressive regimes which maintain this whole system—including Islamic fundamentalist forces when that serves their purposes.
Just to take the most recent examples:
» The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001 promising “liberation.” It then put in power a murderous cabal of feudal power brokers, warlords, and armed militias hated throughout Afghanistan. All stood for brutal traditional relations, including the patriarchal enslavement of women, religious fundamentalism, and the subordination of Afghanistan to imperialism. (The new U.S.-backed regime was named the “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.”)
» The U.S. promised liberation in Iraq too. But after the 2003 invasion, it tried to install a hand-picked collection of puppets and thugs committed to fully integrating Iraq into the U.S. empire. When that move failed, the U.S. turned to reactionary Shi’ite parties and militias, and then to traditional reactionary Sunni powers as well. All this fueled the rise of reactionary Islamic fundamentalism overall and ISIS in particular.
» For the last four and-a-half years, the U.S. has fueled the savage Syrian civil war in order to protect the whole putrid, U.S.-dominated setup in the Middle East—including the barbaric settler-colonial state of Israel, and barbaric states like Turkey and fundamentalist Saudi Arabia (which is preparing to behead over 50 people). As part of these machinations, U.S. allies have directly supported ISIS and other jihadist forces. A recently released secret 2012 intelligence report exposes that the U.S. and its allies tolerated or supported the formation of jihadist enclaves in eastern Syria and western Iraq.
Carrying all of this out has involved torture, atrocities, and mass slaughter by the U.S. military—“our troops”—on a scale way, way, way beyond the crimes reactionary jihadists have carried out. In Iraq it meant using cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and depleted uranium against the people of Fallujah in 2004; murdering 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005; executing at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a five-month-old infant, in Ishaqi in central Iraq in 2006; and having a U.S. helicopter gun down 11 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
In Afghanistan—this meant U.S. soldiers murdering two pregnant women, two criminal justice officials, and a teenage girl during a party near the village of Gardez; in 2012 alone it meant one U.S. soldier massacring 16 Afghan civilians—including nine children—in two Kandahar province villages; it meant U.S. soldiers breaking into people’s homes, dragging them away and torturing them—sometimes to death—and then mutilating their bodies. One survivor reported he was threatened with 14 different types of torture and subjected to “electric shocks, beatings, simulated drowning, hanging from the ceiling, partial burial in freezing conditions, and the extraordinary and degrading torment of having a length of string tied tightly around his penis” for four days. (Daily Beast)
A recent study found that since 2001, U.S. wars were responsible for a total of 1.3 million deaths in Afghanistan (220,000), Pakistan (80,000), and Iraq (one million) alone!
All these U.S. actions have strengthened reactionary Islamist movements, which have in turn carried out horrific crimes against the people—also in order to enforce backward, oppressive social and economic relations. Why should anyone expect that further U.S. interventions and escalations will do anything other than this? Why should anyone who understands this want to see those moves succeed—or “win”?
Bringing Foward Another Way is an edited version of a talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, to a group of Party supporters, in 2006. It is must reading for a serious understanding of what the U.S. "war on terror" is really about and how to bring forward a positive force in the world in opposition to both Western imperialism and Islamic Jihad.Download PDF
As Bob Avakian insightfully pointed out, the relationship runs like this:
What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.
While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “‘historically outmodeds’” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists...
It is interesting, I recently heard about a comment that someone made relating to this, which I do think is correct and getting at something important. In relation to these “two historically outmodeds,” they made the point: “You could say that the Islamic fundamentalist forces in the world would be largely dormant if it weren’t for what the U.S. and its allies have done and are doing in the world—but you cannot say the opposite.” There is profound truth captured in that statement.
Bob Avakian, Bringing Forward Another Way
But imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism are NOT the only alternatives today. There actually is a viable chance to make revolution and bring into being a radically different, liberating society based on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. This revolution will come out of the existing contradictions of the system AND the work of revolutionaries now. This revolution is the ONLY source of real hope in the terrible situation confronting humanity now.
Strengthening imperialism—the very system responsible for the vast majority of the suffering and destruction on Earth today—including by supporting its wars and military machine—is only going to perpetuate this misery.
Just to be very clear: Revolutionaries totally oppose everything reactionary Islamist forces like Al Qaeda and ISIS stand for and all the horrific ways they fight for their Dark Ages agenda. Not supporting your own rulers—even welcoming their defeat—is NOT the same as wanting the reactionary forces they happen to be opposing to win. Genuine revolutionaries support communists in every country, including those who come directly up against reactionary Islamist forces, and work to spread the ideas of communism even where there are no organized forces currently taking them up.
We do all this as part of getting to a whole better world—and right now, in this country, preparing the ground, preparing the people, and preparing the vanguard—getting ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.
For background sources on death and destruction caused by the U.S., see:
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 22, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Chicago, 12/18/2015—Almost four weeks from the release of the video of the murder of Laquan McDonald, protests have continued—sometimes more than one a day. If the authorities thought that the anger and determination for an end to police terror had diminished, events on this date prove it still is burning bright.
A protest earlier in the day shut down the streets around Midway Airport. High school students walked out in protest of police brutality. Fenger High School was notorious in the past for bitter conflicts among the youth, but videos from December 18 show students marching in the street against police brutality after walking out (see The Police Murder of Laquan McDonald in Chicago and the Coverup—The Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell) .
Then, at 3:16 p.m., up to a thousand people of various nationalities and ages took to the streets of Chicago. Blogger Eugene “Geno” Stanley described the scene: “Maybe 1 hour into the revolt, and I looked around, and there were every type of happy, enthusiastic, angry, disgusted, and united people there is on this planet. I mean people of all races, social class, and cultures.” This protest was a called as “City Wide Walkout Part II” and organized as a follow-up to the major protest 9 days earlier.
As the rally started, stacks of picket signs with “Stop Police Terror, Which Side Are You On,” signed by revcom.us, and “There Is No Justice From the Department of IN-Justice”, signed by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, were widely taken up as were mounted stolen lives posters. Two stolen lives banners made a presence through the night. As the march started, protesters filled the streets of the Chicago Loop, marched around City Hall, up Michigan Avenue into the Magnificent Mile shopping district and snaked around neighborhood streets in Chicago’s Gold Coast to Astor Street—a street of mansions where some of Chicago’s wealthiest live.
Throughout the protest, which a determined core of up to 100 people carried on for five and a half hours, major streets were shut down. Some drivers, stuck at intersections, honked their horns in time to the chants and held up their fists. DNA Info showed a picture of a cab driver, caught by a street blockade, displaying his own “Rahm must go” sign.
Occupying the street in front of the Water Tower place, as well as at other gathering points, different programs were put forward. One of the youth who initiated the day's protest called for people to focus on elections. In contrast a youth from the Revolution Club agitated about the crimes of the system starting with police brutality and murder but going beyond that to address all of the 5 Stops. When he asked “who here believes in revolution?” many in the crowd cheered and then joined in the chant “How do we get out of this mess? Revolution—Nothing Less!”
At one point in the protest, after police had arrested three protesters, the crowd surrounded the police van in which the protesters were held, sitting down in the street all around it and blocking it from moving. Along with “16 Shots and a cover up” (the signature chant of the movement) people chanted “Put Rahm in the paddy wagon—let the people free." After negotiations and only when the police commander agreed to give each arrested protester only a traffic ticket, was the police van allowed to move and the march continued.
The ongoing struggle sparked by the release of the video showing the brutal police murder of Laquan McDonald must be part of building a movement for revolution which rids the world of that criminal, inhuman system once and for all. See revcom.us for an in-depth analysis.
Major protests are planned for Christmas Eve to, again, shut down the Magnificent Mile high-end shopping district.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
No Indictments in Modern-Day Lynching of Sandra Bland
December 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 21, a grand jury in Waller County, Texas announced that no indictments would be issued against police or jail personnel who presided over the modern day lynching of Sandra Bland this summer. This outrage was immediately denounced by Sandra's family and attorneys. Geneva Reed-Veal, Sandra's mother, said “Right now, the biggest problem for me is the entire process. I simply can't have faith in a system that's not inclusive of my family....” Attorney Cannon Lambert told reporters “We are not going to allow what they have done in a limited, secret capacity to prevent us from doing what we need to do to get answers for the family.”
Sandra Bland was 28 when she drove from Chicago to Prairie View, Texas, where she had graduated with a degree in agriculture from Prairie View A&M University, an historically Black institution. She was a young woman happy to be back among college friends, happy to have gotten a good job. But soon after she arrived, a cop pulled her over. He brutalized and mocked her. He pulled her out of the car and threw her on the ground. He threw her into the Waller County Jail—all this for supposedly not using her turn signal before she changed lanes!
Two days later Sandra Bland was found dead, hanging in her cell. Police and prosecutors immediately claimed that she had killed herself. Her family, and thousands of people throughout the country fighting to end brutality and murder by police refused to accept the “official story.” Her name became yet another of the thousands of Stolen Lives.
Everything done by police and prosecutors since the moment news of her death came out has been a cover up. They released a video that had obviously been tampered with, and never explained its gaps. The Waller County DA said he regarded the cell where Sandra Bland died as a “crime scene”—then allowed reporters to trample through and effectively destroy the evidence. Jail authorities tampered with evidence in obvious ways. After word of Sandra's death got out, police claimed she was “suicidal,” but the county jail authorities, even by their own admission, did nothing to see that she was given medical attention. No testimony has been released from what were supposed to be interrogations of jail personnel. No one knows what went on in the grand jury, except that none of Sandra's friends and family who were communicating with her were called in.
Some things that are known: the cop who pulled Sandra Bland over, who brutalized her, threatened her, and arrested her when this Black woman wasn't subservient and docile, walks free. All the cops and jail personnel who were in the Waller County Jail supervising Sandra Bland walk free. Their supervisors, the Waller County DA and sheriff, walk free. Sandra Bland was alive when she was taken into the clutches of these thugs; she was dead when she left their miserable county jail.
The grand jury said it will reconvene in January to consider other possible charges. But at the same time the “special prosecutor” in this case announced that “no Waller County Jail employee” will be charged, and it is unclear what they will be considering in January.
Sharon Cooper said about her sister Sandra, “I'm infuriated, and everybody else should be infuriated as well.” She is right; the murder of Sandra Bland is outrageous and unacceptable. People should be infuriated at the cover up that has been in place for months. The truth of what happened to Sandra Bland when these Waller County cops took her into their custody must be brought to the light of day.
Dead from hanging in a jail cell, like Sandra Bland. Choked to death on a sidewalk, like Eric Garner. Shot 16 times, like Laquan McDonald. Neck broken in the back of a police van, like Freddie Gray. Gunned down while playing in a park, like Tamir Rice. Cop after murdering cop exonerated, not charged at all, most likely acquitted if ever brought to trial.
Any system that does this to people routinely; any system whose “law officers” gun people down, choke them to death, beat and lock them away for nothing; any system whose legal apparatus time after time lets these murderers walk free to do it again—such a system has lost its legitimacy and has no right to exist.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
Revolution Club Member Asks Spike Lee at Chi-Raq Q+A...
December 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a Revolution Club, New York member:
Through contacts I found out that Spike Lee was doing a Q+A after the screening of Chi-Raq in Brooklyn. Immediately, I tried to contact everybody I could think of to attend and intervene as I was planning to go to Columbia University. One other member of the Revolution Club was down to attend. I debated going and 20 minutes prior to it starting I made the decision to go because (1) nobody else was going and (2) I had just read an article on revcom.us that day that said revolutionaries should go and interact with audiences of Chi-Raq; and given Spike Lee was doing the Q+A—it seemed irresponsible to not attend). So with very little preparation (materials, etc.) I rushed to meet my fellow club member.
The film artistically is well made but ideologically it is sharply contradictory. I had read the New York Times review and was somewhat familiar with the Greek play. So on my way to the theater I thought about a question to pose. It’s a two-hour film and I was getting lost in the process. As soon as it ended we passed around all the BA quote cards we had. Spike Lee entered the theater and I knew I had to insist on getting heard—so I raised and waved my hand very high (and I was the second person to get called on). I introduced myself and as soon as I said communist; Spike Lee replied “Oh oh here we go”. I asked “Do you think the problem is human nature or the nature of the system?” I said “I follow a leader Bob Avakian” and Spike Lee said “Who?” I said “Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolution Communist Party who is convinced that characters like Chi-Raq (the main character who is the leader of the Spartans gang) can go from ‘irredeemable monsters’ to emancipators of humanity but not through the church (because the parallels in the film for Black people was the gang life or the church) but by fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution; like the defiant youth in Ferguson and Baltimore. So to pose my question again do you think the problem is human nature...” And he asked “human nature?” I said “Yes, like it’s in people’s nature because I am firmly convinced that it is in the nature of U.S. imperialism and it’s going to take a revolution to get rid of that system. And I invite you and everyone in the audience to get into Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism that’s providing a way out of this madness.”
He thanked me for my comments and said “We obviously have different outlooks.” He went on several tangents: he’s gotten a lot of flack for the film; as soon as he entered the theater he jokingly said who’s going to be the first to ask me about Black sexuality—and so he continued on that stream. And then he tried to answer my question by getting into the social constructs of society that give rise to gang life—so he didn’t think it was in people’s nature. But, then he couldn’t get over the phenomena of Black on Black crime; he even compared the gang life back in the day when innocent people wouldn’t get hurt (or the rules of thug life) and talked about the mothers whose kids get innocently killed.
The question posed set a certain tone for the overall audience. Usually people’s questions aren’t deep but Spike Lee’s responses were interesting. One person asked about working with the city of Chicago; and Spike Lee went on an important tangent on Laquan McDonald. He had met with the mayor before filming; and talked about the hypocrisy of the mayor, given all the footage that’s been released and all the trouble he’s in given people want him out of office. He did agitate for a bit on the outrageous murder of Laquan McDonald and asked “How much more footage do they have?” Somebody else in the audience asked about the role of the police—which in a tangent to my question in talking about the brutality of the police he said everybody wants to talk about Black Lives Matter but what about the mothers of those who’ve been killed by Black on Black crime? So in a response to the role of the police he basically said they’re painting a bad picture of themselves by choking Eric Garner to death and by continuing to kill unarmed men. The Q+A was brief so this was the extent of the exchange.
I was sitting all the way in the back and was going to give him a copy of the paper. So as I was climbing over my seat he came up to me to shake my hand; I handed him a paper and he quickly walked away. The other Revolution Club member and I started selling the paper to the audience (we had a lot of freedom) and got out all of our copies.
As we were leaving I noticed Spike Lee was signing autographs. The crowd was thinning out and I decided to approach him again. He basically said “now is not the time” then he said “you’re the communist, right?” I nodded. I said “I’ll leave by saying this: everybody is so locked in the permanence of today; and I would insist that you get into the works of Bob Avakian because there is a lot of materialism there. We need a revolution. And if what he’s saying is true that things don’t have to be this way—then it’s bigger than you and me. It’s actually about the people of the world; and us having a chance of getting free.” He didn’t say anything and I didn’t want to push it, so I said good night and so did he (he was also getting ready to introduce the next showing of his film).
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
December 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Revolution Club, Stop Patriarchy, revolutionaries, and activists came to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to #StandWithAnnaYocca during her arraignment on December 22, 2015 (she is still in jail with a $200,000 bail). We were 14 strong from NYC, Atlanta, and Tennessee. We brought a simple message "When a Woman Attempts a Coat-Hanger Abortion...It is the Patriarchal SYSTEM That Is Guilty of Attempted Murder—Against Her!" (revcom.us). The Revolution Club came to let everyone know of the leadership we have in Bob Avakian AND of the REVOLUTION we need. We brought BA's NEW quote (card) from "ON 'PRINCIPLED COMPROMISES,' AND OTHER CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY", "Break ALL the Chains!" Samplers, and Revolution newspaper.
We held up our signs and posters outside the courthouse and rallied for about an hour. We mic-checked on the outrageousness of Anna Yocca being charged with first-degree attempted murder, and we distributed materials. We mic-checked on why we traveled to #StandWithAnnaYocca. A progressive man who drove 4 hours to attend the arraignment spoke with conviction of why a woman should have TOTAL control over her body. A woman who drove from a neighboring county spoke to the need of abortion being accessible and without shame (she made a sign with slogans from StopPatriarchy.org).
We went inside the courthouse to witness the arraignment. While inside the courtroom we noticed several police officers strategically seated around us. After the arraignment we stood up with our fists in the air and chanted "DROP ALL THE CHARGES! FREE ANNA YOCCA!" The press followed us outside and we continued to rally while some of us got interviewed. (See press coverage: http://www.dnj.com/story/news/2015/12/22/yocca-hearing-attracts-protesters/77752454/)
We decided to travel to a relatively busy area in downtown Nashville to let everyone know about the day AND to challenge people to get into this movement for revolution—in particular the leadership of Bob Avakian. At a certain point we marched and chanted down the sidewalks. Immediately someone yelled out of their car "Murderers!" And while we encountered a lot of backward, reactionary, anti-science women haters, pro-female enslavement zombies, we were able to interact with several people who were very supportive and appreciated us being there. Most people did not know of Anna Yocca and several were shocked upon hearing the details. People took materials and gave statements in support of abortion rights with one person giving a $100 donation.
When we led with BA's quote—it brought A LOT of clarity and framed why "...in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children...." Ted Cruz—one of the fascists running for the Republican nomination for president—was in Nashville (that same day) and some people gravitated to the issue of Revolution newspaper with candidates on the cover and the message "They have no answers / THE REVOLUTION DOES." And this provided an opportunity to walk people through this week's editorial.
Our experience was brief but the overall day emphasized the importance of our presence and intervention. It sharpened the need of many more people from all walks of life urgently taking up the fight to STOP this war on women—especially on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And it stressed the importance of many more people getting into the leadership of Bob Avakian (and the movement for revolution he leads) in order to fight for the emancipation of women as part of fighting for the emancipation of all of humanity.
Revolution #418 December 21, 2015
From Chicago Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Updated January 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Police nationwide continue to murder unarmed people, disproportionately Black and Latino. And while the police almost never face charges, people all over the country who protest to stop police murder are arrested, charged, and threatened with years in prison.The murder of Laquan McDonald has unleashed a torrent of almost daily protests in Chicago. In response the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the powers behind them continue to arrest protesters who are standing up for justice, just as they have done since the protests over Mike Brown and Eric Garner broke out over a year ago. And the police have been singling out, threatening, and arresting key activists from different perspectives who are playing major roles in the protests. THIS MUST STOP!
Now is the time, in the midst of these roiling protests, for everyone to come together and demand that all charges against all protesters be dropped and that CPD stop targeting key activists! A political and legal battle needs to be waged to make this happen and all people of conscience need to get involved in this.
Last year, after grand juries refused to indict cops for the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, Chicago police arrested more than two dozen people at a downtown protest that was part of a national day against police murder on December 13, 2014. Most of those arrested had their charges dropped or were allowed to opt for “community service”. A misdemeanor case was defeated in court.
But two protesters, David “Iggy Flow” Rucker and Alfredo Reyes, were beaten by police, and then charged with aggravated battery to a police officer and slapped with $75,000 bail each. One year later, they still face felony charges and 7 years in prison.
Iggy works with the Revolution Club of Chicago and has been very visible in the protests against police murder, from Michael Brown of Ferguson to the protests today against the murder of Laquan McDonald. He is still being singled out by police. At one recent protest for Laquan, a cop who recognized Iggy assaulted him with a night stick and at another, a cop got in his face, shouting, “Hey, Punk, wanna take a swing at me?” The Sun-Times recently revealed that the Revolution Club and others were the target of police spying during that period.
Alfredo joined in the protest against police brutality.
If you have been protesting against police murder and terror, if your heart is with the protestors, if you believe in the value of protests shining a light on grave injustices — then
On September 26, the South Shore 2 were in South Shore with the Revolution Club and others from the neighborhood organizing for the national protest “Rise Up October —Stop Police Terror! Which Side Are You On?” in New York City on October 24, 2015.
The group was passing out palmcards, calling on people to stand up against police terror, and displaying a banner with the faces of 40 people murdered by the police. They passed out whistles to “blow the whistle on police brutality.”
As people from the neighborhood gathered, speaking their outrage about their treatment by the police and about the police murders of Alfontish “NuNu” Cockerham and JJ Kemp, (two men from the South Shore neighborhood), the police began harassing a man nearby for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Many people gathered to “blow the whistle” on the police, and in the face of this resistance, the cops backed off and let the man go. But a short time later, after most of the crowd left, the police returned and suddenly attacked the group, arresting a young Black woman and young Black man – the South Shore 2. They did nothing to deserve this. For a political protest against police terror they were each charged with the serious felony of aggravated battery to a police officer, by the very police that they were protesting.
PACK THE COURTROOM FOR THE SOUTH SHORE 2! At the last hearing on January 6 the court proceedings were continued to a later date. Watch revcom.us for future information.
Stop Mass Incarceration Network - Chicago
firstname.lastname@example.org • (312) 933-9586 Facebook.com/SMINChicago
The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is a project of the Alliance for Global Justice, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. For more info, see stopmassincarceration.net