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Background to the Conflict Between Saudi Arabia and Iran:
A Reactionary Clash Provoked by U.S. Imperialist Maneuvers
January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
As we go to press, tensions between Middle East regional powers Saudi Arabia and Iran have escalated to a dangerous level. Both sides in this conflict are completely reactionary. Underlying this clash is a series of moves by the U.S. to maintain its empire—an empire which depends on domination of the Middle East and which faces new and volatile challenges.
Saudi Arabia is a brutally repressive regime and is based on a draconian and fundamentalist interpretation of Sunni Islam. Critics of the regime, including liberal bloggers, dissidents, and people accused of being aligned with Islamic jihadist factions not sponsored by the Saudis are routinely whipped, tortured, and executed, including by beheading. Women cannot drive, open a bank account, or leave home without being supervised by a male. None of this has kept Saudi Arabia from being a key ally of the U.S. rulers.
On Saturday, January 2, the Saudi regime executed Sheikh Nimr Baqr al-Nimr, a Saudi advocate for Shi’a Muslims who are persecuted in Saudi Arabia. According to mainstream U.S. news accounts, Nimr Baqr al-Nimr was an advocate for relatively mild reforms. He was executed along with 47 others, some of whom were beheaded, without anything resembling a credible legal process.
Protests immediately erupted in Iran and beyond. In Iran, crowds attacked the Saudi Embassy. As we go to press, Iran and Saudi Arabia have broken diplomatic relations—a high-level escalation of tension.
Iran’s Shi’a Islamic theocratic regime is itself brutally repressive. It executed 694 people in the first half of last year alone, according to Amnesty International. In service of its ambitions as a regional power, Iran has been locked in a complex set of conflicts with Saudi Arabia for several years. A significant factor in the horrific war in Syria has been fighting between Iranian and Saudi-backed forces. The same is true of the conflict in Yemen, which has also created a nightmare of suffering, death, and a massive refugee crisis.
The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:8
Even as the U.S. has worked to maintain close ties with the Saudis, it has also taken steps to try to integrate Iran into its agenda in the region and beyond. Those moves, particularly the U.S.-Iran deal on nuclear technology, ramped up tensions between the Saudis and the U.S., and between the Saudis and Iran. (For background on the nuclear agreement, see “The U.S. - Iran Nuclear Deal & the Imperialists’ Dilemma” at revcom.us.)
The conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran is part of a mix of problems the U.S. is trying to manage and maneuver through. Those challenges include conflicts with major powers like Russia and China, and tensions in the U.S. relationship with its key ally in the region, Israel.
Three Critical Things to Understand
The following, from an earlier article at revcom.us, provides important orientation for how to look at these conflicts starting from the interests of humanity, not the interests of the rulers of the U.S., and how people who want to see a whole different world can act in times like these to wrench a revolutionary solution out of this terrible madness.
1. There are major changes in the world, and old rules no longer apply. This is creating huge challenges for the U.S. Things are in great flux, and none of the players involved knows how things will end up. These rivalries and conflicts are not being stage managed; all are responding to events and groping for solutions to vexing contradictions. In the context of the whole regional cauldron and big global shifts, these kinds of developments—including the growing arguments in the U.S. ruling class over what to do—taken together could come together in ways that create profound global jolts, jolts that are part of what the RCP’s “On the Strategy for Revolution” talks about. People who want to see a whole different world need to act in times like these to wrench something completely different out of all this--and, along with other things going on in society, to work to prepare for a revolutionary solution that might emerge out of this terrible madness.
2. No matter how disingenuous (lying) and self-contradictory their claims of bringing “democracy” and “freedom,” the U.S. rulers will try and “lead” people through these choppy waters as they attempt to protect and advance their imperialist interests—training people to support action against whoever the U.S. deems the greatest threat of the moment, and training people to ignore the crimes of those the U.S. finds useful to ally with at any given point. All this is generally sold to people under the rubric of “protecting American lives” and protecting America from “terrorist attacks,” while the rulers actual calculations are driven by concerns of imperialist empire: maintaining U.S. global supremacy and domination of key regions.
3. The only way for anything positive to come out of the situation is for a genuine revolutionary communist pole to emerge and begin leading the masses to fight for their real interests and a radically different future and world. This underscores the urgency of making revolution in this country at the soonest possible moment, and spreading Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism, encapsulated in Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage—A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and spreading it far and wide, including throughout the Middle East.
Talk by Sunsara Taylor:
Confronting the Abortion Rights Emergency — Fighting for Complete Liberation
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 ofIntimate 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 Rebelsand 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.
Break ALL the Chains!
Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution
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.
Stand Up for Abortion Rights!
Counter-Protest the March for "Life"
January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC
January 23, 2016 in San Francisco
If you are in New York, get your bus ticket to Washington DC:
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.
A "Perfect Storm"... of White Supremacist Violence and Racist Justifications
January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old playing in a park who was gunned down by police in Cleveland, Ohio on November 22, 2014.
On December 28, Cuyahoga County prosecutor Timothy McGinty announced his grand jury’s decision not to indict officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback for murdering 12-year-old Tamir Rice on November 22, 2014. McGinty declared that the shooting of this unarmed, innocent, and defenseless child by two cops was a “reasonable” police action.
Grand juries are “creatures” of prosecutors. They exist to—among other things—provide political cover when prosecutors want to do something controversial: “It wasn’t me, it was the ‘grand jury.’” A common joke in legal circles goes: “A prosecutor could get the grand jury to indict a ham sandwich if he wanted it to.”
But in this case prosecutor McGinty definitely did NOT want the grand jury to indict these pigs. In the face of plain-as-day video evidence of murder, he spent over a year working to exonerate the cops, including by hiring bogus “experts”—in reality, pro-police hacks, one of whom had been publicly remonstrated by the U.S. Justice Department for twisting facts and distorting the law in order to cover for the cops in a previous high-profile shooting case. (See “EXPOSED! The Prosecutor’s ‘Expert Reports’” at revcom.us for more on this.) When McGinty was forced to allow testimony to the grand jury from experts who refuted his bullshit, one of his assistant prosecutors actually went into the “well” with the grand jurors, and sat there ridiculing and laughing at them as they testified!
“A Perfect Storm”
Yes there's a conspiracy, to get the cops off
"Yes there's a conspiracy... to get the cops off" Is a clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003 in the United States. Bob Avakian is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. This talk, followed by questions and answers, is a wide-ranging revolutionary journey, covering many topics. It breaks down the very nature of the society we live in and how humanity has come to a time where a radically different society is possible. It is full of heart and soul, humor and seriousness; it will challenge you and set your heart and mind to flight. Watch the entire film online at http://revolutiontalk.net. Learn more about BA here
In trying to justify this outrageous decision, McGinty said that Tamir’s death resulted from:
“...a perfect storm of human error, mistakes and miscommunication...”
NO. Tamir’s death resulted from “a perfect storm” of the white supremacist violence on which this country was built and which has drenched it in blood from the times when millions of Africans were kidnapped, enslaved, tortured, and murdered to accumulate the foundations of American wealth and power, to the latest police murder in Chicago... in Los Angeles... in a hundred towns and cities across this empire of theft and slaughter known as America.
It was “a perfect storm” of a racist view that, as a “default,” perceives every Black person as “dangerous,” and sees any loss of Black life as having no weight compared to the importance of preserving the status quo of inequality and injustice... of the forging and unleashing of police who act as occupying armies in neighborhoods of the oppressed, and who are happy to recruit certifiable mad dogs like Timothy Loehmann to patrol those neighborhoods... of the slow genocide that increasingly sees Black people not just as bodies to be exploited, but as “a problem” to be gotten rid of.
As to “miscommunication”—McGinty, the grand jury, and the media, the latter of which for the most part have followed dutifully along, reporting this outrage as if it were “justice,” are communicating their message very clearly, to the people and to the 1.1 million law enforcement officers in the U.S., as well as to the armed “civilian” racists like George Zimmerman, who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in February 2012. The message is: It is perfectly “reasonable” to “shoot first, ask questions later” when dealing with Black people, even children, rather than run the slightest risk of injury, or even “disrespect,” to one of the enforcers of this system, or to any white person... period.
Chronology of a Racist Murder
Is it going too far to say this? Let’s walk through the murder of Tamir Rice from the beginning and see.
The Call: Around 3 pm, a man called 911 to report someone, “probably a juvenile,” pointing a “probably fake” gun at people near a park playground.
Stop right here—if you have looked at the video of Tamir before the police arrived, it is completely obvious that you are seeing a child at play. Tamir walks back and forth, sometimes pointing the gun, sometimes putting it down, sometimes throwing snowballs, obviously in his own world. If Tamir were white, that is exactly what anyone would have seen, ordinary child’s play. But in a society where Black youth are routinely portrayed as criminals to be tased, handcuffed, arrested, thrown across classrooms—even as young as six years old—this bystander, who did realize that Tamir was probably a child, perceived an “emergency.”
The Police Radio Dispatch: At 3:26 pm, a police dispatcher put out a call for officers to respond to someone with a gun. She provided a vague description that pretty much came down to “subject is a Black male,” and neglected to include that he was probably a child and that the gun was probably a fake. Garmback and Loehmann were among several cops who answered, and they sounded extremely eager to be first on the scene.
According to McGinty and other defenders of the police, the dispatcher’s omission of crucial information played a significant role in Tamir being shot. And yet, there has been no indication that this dispatcher has been fired, disciplined, or even reprimanded in the 13 months since this happened. Apparently, a gross violation of dispatcher protocols that leads to the death of a Black child is just an “oops” in the minds of the authorities!
The Approach: Garmback drove the cop car into the park on the grass. From across the park they could see Tamir sitting at a table under a gazebo. It is important to note that they did not even know if Tamir was the subject of the 911 call, particularly since he was no longer in the playground where the 911 caller had located him. They were viewing from a distance, and the description they had was vague. No weapon was visible (we know now that Tamir had a pellet gun tucked in his waistband for the whole time the police were on the scene). There was no one else in the area, no “incident” going on—i.e., even if Tamir had a real gun, there was no one around to be endangered by it.
So essentially, all that the officers knew was that Tamir was a Black person sitting by himself, doing nothing wrong, near the location where they had heard there might have been a Black person with a gun some time earlier.
Knowing almost nothing about the situation, the cops could, without any risk to themselves or others, have approached slowly, and from a safe position questioned Tamir—and in fact, this is official police protocol for what to do in situations like this. If they had placed the slightest value on Tamir’s life, they would have done that.
The Shooting: But the cops did not pause—they raced their car across the grass, skidding to a halt. As this was happening, Tamir got up and—hands still empty—began walking casually towards them. As they approached Loehmann unholstered his gun, and before the car had fully stopped jumped out, and within 1.7 seconds fired two shots, fatally wounding Tamir.
It is clear from this that the decision to shoot Tamir was made as the car approached, and before they could possibly know who he was or what, if anything, was going on, other than the fact that he was a Black person. Even if, as the cops claimed, both of them were shouting “show us your hands” (from their vehicle, which was moving and which had the windows closed), this wouldn’t change anything because Tamir could not have heard them, and in any case, Tamir never did anything threatening.
The cops initially claimed that Tamir drew his “gun” and they shot in response to that. When the existence of video footage was revealed, they altered their story to say that he moved his hand in the direction of his waistband, and then moved it up. Some experts have reasonably argued that this arm motion occurred after Tamir was shot and was a response to being shot.
But even if you accept the cops’ version, what does it say that the movement of an empty hand, up, down or sideways, is a valid reason for murdering someone? It says exactly what we are saying here, that this shooting reflected the outlook that any Black person who may in the remotest way evoke fear in the minds of some racist cop, can be “reasonably” executed.
(We should note here that it is frequently stated—in informal police accounts, in the so-called “expert” reports that the prosecutor fed to the grand jury and to the media, and in media coverage in prominent venues like Good Morning America and the Wall Street Journal—that Tamir was “holding” or “pointing” the toy gun, even though the video long ago proved this to be false.)
The cops also claim that they did not know that Tamir was a child because the dispatcher had not relayed that information, and because, though he was only 5 ft. 7 in. tall, he weighed 195 lbs. (In a pro-police CNN account, this fearsome child “grew” to 6 feet tall.)
The first point we have to make is that they were in a park, by a playground, next to a youth center—an area where mostly children are present. So the burden was on them to be sure Tamir wasn’t a child before murdering him. As to his weight, this is just more racist bullshit. Everyone knows adolescents who are big for their age. The way we identify children is not just by size, but by looking at their faces, and the way they carry themselves. But to do that, you would have to care whether he was a child or not, and these cops obviously did not.
The Moments After: And if you still doubt that racist dehumanization ruled the day, look at how these cops reacted after shooting Tamir, as he lay bleeding, in pain, dying, on the sidewalk. They offered neither first aid nor comfort. When Tamir’s 14-year-old sister ran towards him, they tackled and handcuffed her, and forced her into the back seat of their patrol car, a few feet from where her brother lay dying. When his mother arrived and became upset that her son had been shot, they threatened to arrest her. They treated Tamir and his family as savage beasts to be controlled, not as human beings.
Communication: The system has again communicated to the people, in no uncertain terms, its determination to continue to unleash murderous police against Black and Brown people, in the service of preserving their whole oppressive set-up, and that 99 percent of the time these police will be protected from justice no matter how horrific their crimes. We should really “hear” that message and not kid ourselves or be duped by crocodile tears or by promises of “reform,” and we should respond accordingly, with the fiercest resistance possible to these murderers, and with urgent revolutionary preparation to bring about and seize on the time when this cruel system can be done away with once and for all.
Why America Is Not—AND CANNOT BE—a Force for Good in the World
December 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In one of those statements of his that goes against what almost everyone thinks, Bob Avakian asserts:
The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.
Is that true? And if so, what are the implications for whether “America” (U.S. capitalism-imperialism) could ever be a force for good in the world?
Case Study: The Gates Foundation’s Coffee Initiatives in Africa
As one case study of the imperialism the U.S. spreads—and can only spread—around the world, let’s look at the example of the Gates Foundation’s Coffee Initiative in Ethiopia, an impoverished country in the Horn of Africa. Bill and Melinda Gates write that they started initiatives like this because they were horrified by the widespread death and disease they saw when they first visited Africa. They felt this suffering was “unnecessary” and could be ended by enlightened philanthropy.
Today, the multi-billionaire Bill Gates points to the kind of investing and structural reforms his foundation finances around the world as a model for governments and fellow billionaire philanthropic capitalists. An article on his foundation’s website, “How Good Coffee Becomes Good Business for African Farmers,” talks about how floating loans to Ethiopian farmers has “helped thousands of East Africa’s smallholder farmers” gain “access to technical knowledge, professional processing and milling services, reliable markets [and] working capital.” And to top it off, these farmers provide a reliable source of high-quality coffee for U.S. consumers.
Gates argues that the enormous crises facing humanity—such as poverty and climate change—can and must be taken on by extensive government regulation and massive philanthropic efforts like his own.
And to take that a step forward, it could be—and often is—argued that the U.S. should use its great wealth to meet human needs by investing in projects that provide a living wage and improve the lot of the poor, and stop pouring $600 billion into the military—over half the discretionary budget of the United States this year.
Let’s dissect the Gates Foundation’s work in Ethiopia, and then draw back the lens to see what this reveals about the nature of capitalist-imperialist investment.
Where Does the Gates Foundation’s Money Come From?
But how do philanthropic efforts like the Gates Foundation’s Coffee Initiative, to take but one example, actually work?
The first thing Gates omits from his promotional materials is that the funding for his foundation’s investments must be generated from profitable investments. To continue to generate money to fund its charity or less-profitable projects, the Gates Foundation needs to see a return of something like five percent profit on its investments. You don’t get that kind of return investing in small coffee farms in Ethiopia.
The Gates Foundation “invested $423 million in the oil companies whose [Nigeria] delta pollution literally kills the children the foundation tries to help. It had vast holdings in Big Pharma firms that priced AIDS drugs out of reach for desperate victims the foundation wanted to save. It benefited greatly from predatory lenders whose practices sparked the Great Recession and chocolate makers said by the US government to have supported child slavery in Ivory Coast.” The foundation “holds more than $1.2 billion in a rogues’ gallery of corporate actors, including BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, whose environmental despoliation promotes climate change.” ("How the Gates Foundation’s Investments Are Undermining Its Own Good Works: Its vast holdings in the fossil fuel and arms industries subvert the foundation’s battle against disease and poverty,” by Charles Piller, The Nation, August 22, 2014)
If you were to confront Gates, he would probably readily respond—accurately—that if his foundation didn’t invest in these enslaving, exploiting, environment destroying projects, there wouldn’t be profit to fund charity work. That even if he didn’t invest in them, someone else would.
Not only did slavery play a major role in the historical development of the U.S., but the wealth and power of the U.S. rests today on a worldwide system of imperialist exploitation that ensnares hundreds of millions, and ultimately billions, of people in conditions hardly better than those of slaves. Now, if this seems like an extreme or extravagant claim, think about the tens of millions of children throughout the Third World who, from a very, very early age, are working nearly every day of the year—as the slaves on the southern plantations in the United States used to say, "from can't see in the morning, till can't see at night"—until they've been physically used up....These are conditions very similar to outright slavery....This includes overt sexual harassment of women, and many other degradations as well. All this is the foundation on which the imperialist system rests, with U.S. imperialism now sitting atop it all.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:4
Those are the rules of the game.
What the U.S. Brings to the World: Capitalism-Imperialism
Whatever Gates’ intentions, the changes brought by the projects his foundation (or the U.S. government) undertakes that are not for profit are far outweighed and undercut by the overall and horrific operation of the capitalist-imperialist system. (And such charity projects are objectively part of maintaining the legitimacy of that overall system.)
Second, even if these projects are motivated by a desire to reduce global poverty, they proceed through the system of capitalism-imperialism and reinforce its economic, political, and social relations. This is what the foundation means by giving small farmers greater access to “technical knowledge, professional processing and milling services, reliable markets [and] working capital.” So they actually end up intensifying global poverty, inequality, and the domination of a handful of imperialist powers like the U.S.
Imperialism means huge monopolies and financial institutions controlling the economies and the political systems—and the lives of people—not just in one country but all over the world. Imperialism means parasitic exploiters who oppress hundreds of millions of people and condemn them to untold misery; parasitic financiers who can cause millions to starve just by pressing a computer key and thereby shifting vast amounts of wealth from one place to another. Imperialism means war—war to put down the resistance and rebellion of the oppressed, and war between rival imperialist states—it means the leaders of these states can condemn humanity to unbelievable devastation, perhaps even total annihilation, with the push of a button.
Imperialism is capitalism at the stage where its basic contradictions have been raised to tremendously explosive levels. But imperialism also means that there will be revolution—the oppressed rising up to overthrow their exploiters and tormentors—and that this revolution will be a worldwide struggle to sweep away the global monster, imperialism.
The Gates’ Coffee Initiative is one example. It has not ended, but in many ways worsened hunger in Ethiopia. Right now, 8.2 million Ethiopians teeter on the verge of hunger, even starvation, without reliable access to enough healthy, affordable food. The immediate cause is a severe drought (worsened by imperialism’s devastating impact on the global climate), but also capitalism’s domination of global food production. Investment in coffee pushes more farmers to grow crops for export to wealthy countries, not affordable food for Ethiopians, even as millions go hungry. And it leaves Ethiopia increasingly dependent on imported food and at the mercy of the ups, downs, and crises of global capitalism.
Investment in modern coffee growing for export also warps and twists the development of infrastructure in a country like Ethiopia. Financing, transport, and communication are developed to invest in, produce, and ship coffee for export while food grown in one part of Ethiopia is inaccessible to starving people in other parts of the country. (See “Ethiopia’s agriculture boom yields a bare harvest for poor as El Niño bites: Ethiopia may be portrayed as an emerging African powerhouse, but prolonged drought has left 8.2 million people facing a major food security crisis,” Guardian, October 26, 2015).
The anarchic workings of capitalism mean that projects like the Coffee Initiative also generate inequality and deeper class divisions. Of Ethiopia’s 80 million people living on and dependent on small farms—some 30 million live in abject poverty. The Coffee Initiative is impacting a tiny sliver of them—perhaps 90,000 of the 15 million Ethiopians who work in the coffee industry. The farmers getting such assistance and access to the world market will have a competitive advantage over other small farmers. So even if they’ve started out on a more or less equally, capitalist competition means the gulf between them and those without assistance and access will grow and many farmers will be driven under.
Structures That Enforce Capitalism-Imperialism
To stick with our case study of the Gates Foundation investment in Ethiopian coffee farmers, what does it mean that what the U.S. brings to the world are structures that enforce capitalism-imperialism?
As we’ve seen, capitalist-imperialist development projects—whether non-profit or for profit—bring massive inequality and misery, which generate mass suffering, anger, and often opposition. So how is this economic setup maintained? By political structures that enforce that imperialism—both by forcing through economic projects and by suppressing the population overall.
Take the Ethiopian state, which is backed by the U.S. Right now it is threatening to forcibly evict thousands of farmers and tribal peoples from their lands to make way for imperialist-sponsored projects, including sugar plantations. The regime has implemented “economic reforms” to facilitate global investment in commodity markets while violently suppressing opposition to the intolerable, imperialist-dominated status quo. Just this year, human rights groups report that the Ethiopian government has persecuted journalists, bloggers, and other opponents, detained and tortured protesters, and continues to oppress minority peoples. And the Gates Coffee Initiative is objectively part of maintaining that oppressive structure by building up a base of support within Ethiopia for an imperialist-oriented economy and state.
An Empire to Enforce a WORLD of Exploitation
What’s illustrated by the example of Ethiopia is also true globally. The kinds of grotesque inequality and severe poverty, the social upheaval and crises provoked by the anarchy of capital in endless competition for higher profit require violent enforcement. So when a bank tells rural farmers or urban slum dwellers that they have to move on, there are death squads and police and troops to enforce that. This is one reason why the U.S. backs ruthless tyrants all over the world.
Structures to enforce imperialism include violent repression of resistance and rebellion of the oppressed. But imperialism also means conflict and war between rival reactionary powers, invasions, backing brutal tyrants, staging coups, and carrying out war crimes through proxy armies. In countries like Ethiopia, key regions like the Middle East, and on a global scale, U.S. domination is under constant challenge from major capitalist rivals, regional powers, and reactionary “rogue players” like ISIS—all of whom are driven by the system’s rules and compulsions.
Take Ethiopia. It’s a populous and relatively stable state in the Horn of Africa—a strategic and highly volatile area, which includes failed states, ISIS strongholds, allies of Iran, and is a target of big power rivalry. So the U.S. has built up a relationship with the Ethiopian regime and military to help enforce U.S. political and military interests in the region, including in contending with rival powers and, particularly today, with reactionary forces that threaten the operation of global capitalism-imperialism and the U.S. role within that. Ethiopian military and intelligence collaboration is a key part of the “war on terror” and attempting to maintain U.S. power in the Middle East and North Africa.
So spreading capitalism-imperialism and the structures that enforce it are why the U.S. invests so massively in drones, bombs, spy technology, nukes, and troops. This is why the U.S. spends more on its military than China, Russia, France, the UK, Germany, Japan, and India combined. It’s not because some “military-industrial complex” outside the workings and needs of the U.S. empire has corrupted the U.S. political system. That vast military enforces a world of exploitation, and the role of the U.S. as top dog within that.
To Change the World, You Have to Uproot the Problem
These are the system’s laws that no one can escape, and regardless of whether some people do a little better, this system can never liberate people en masse. This is why the U.S. is incapable of doing “good” in the world, even when it tries.
The example we explored here is a microcosm of how capitalism-imperialism has to operate within a set of rules that rule out the interests of humanity, regardless of the intent of the capitalists themselves.
Uprooting exploitation and oppression requires overthrowing imperialism, and the political structures that enforce that.
And that requires an actual revolution.
Because of the work that BA has done—summing up the experience of the first wave of communist revolutions and further developing the scientific method of understanding and transforming the world—there is a REAL way to get to a whole different world—one in which the terrible lop-sidedness between the vast majority of countries like Ethiopia and the handful of imperialist powers is eliminated and in which this whole process is one which proceeds through narrowing and overcoming, rather than exacerbating the gaps and disparities between different peoples and among the people themselves. THAT is beyond the scope of this article—but anyone who truly wants to overcome this horrific and life-stealing lopsidedness needs to check this out.
Children Make Desperate 2,000 Mile Journey Seeking Safety:
Now They Face a New Terror—Homeland "Security" Police
Updated January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 23 the Obama administration announced that the Department of Homeland Security will launch a wave of armed raids on hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of homes around the U.S., beginning this January. The Washington Post reported, “The adults and children would be detained wherever they can be found and immediately deported.”
The targets of these assaults will be the parents and their children who in 2014 fled for their lives from hellish violence, as well as extreme poverty, in their home countries in Central America—from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala—many after a son, a brother or a daughter had already been raped, murdered, kidnapped, tortured or disappeared by armed gangs and/or the police.
The violence was so terrifying that some did not even dare go home to collect their ID or family photos. They ran with their children, a little money, the clothes on their backs. Many who could not flee themselves sent their adolescent children on their own. They braved the 2,000 mile journey through Mexico, where thousands would be raped or robbed by gangs or police, and hundreds would die in a journey that could take weeks or months. They rode atop freight trains, they walked through jungle and desert, they lived with fear every minute of every day.
When they finally got to the Rio Grande River, the border between the U.S. and Mexico, they thought they had reached safe haven. In the thousands they sought out and turned themselves in to the U.S. Border Patrol, and asked for asylum. You could see the relief in their faces as they were taken into custody, expecting a fair hearing of their obviously legitimate claims for refugee status.
Who are these people? In a piece in the NY Times, Sonia Nazario described one family:
“In a migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Mexico, I met July Elizabeth Pérez, 32, who was clutching her 3-year-old daughter, Kimberly Julieth Medina, tight in her arms, and keeping a careful eye on her two other children, 6-year-old-Luis Danny Pérez and 12-year-old Naamá Pérez. She arrived at this shelter after fleeing San Pedro Sula, a city where she grew up and worked as a waitress but that is now the deadliest town in Honduras, a country with one of the highest homicide rates in the world. She was aiming to reach the United States, where her mother and grandmother live legally in Florida—3,000 miles away.”
The stepped up, U.S. backed repression against refugees traveling through Mexico has given a green light to criminals and police to prey on them. Tens of thousands of refugees from Central America have been kidnapped for ransom while attempting to reach the U.S. border. Survivors tell of being enslaved working in marijuana fields or forced into prostitution.
But in these tens of thousands of mostly women and young children, the rulers of the U.S. did not see desperate human beings—human beings who were in fact fleeing a social meltdown. No, they saw the possibility of a flood of desperate people—driven in one way or another by the workings of capitalism-imperialism to try to make it to the U.S. And so they moved decisively to seal off the escape routes from the searing fire in Central America that they themselves had ignited. During the 1980s, the U.S. directly and through its flunky governments waged and led genocidal campaigns in several Central American countries to crush rebellions influenced by its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union. Their economies have been devastated by the “free trade agreement” imposed a decade ago, and gangs have filled the economic void, creating countries with vast areas run by gangs and police under their influence.
Those refugees—including children—who somehow made it to the U.S. border were hustled off to detention camps that were so inhumane they became an international scandal, and kept there for months, even when there were family members or communities already established in the U.S. that were offering to take them in. They were run through a “legal process” of asylum hearings that were outrageously rigged against them. Some mothers who had crossed with their children were forced to wear electronic bracelets to track their movements and ensure they reported for immigration hearings. Some youth did not even have lawyers to represent them in these complex hearings, and standards for proving “well-founded fear of persecution” were impossibly high. Of the 6,100 adults with children processed as of November 24, 2015, nearly 80% were denied asylum. Of the almost 20,000 unaccompanied children, almost half were denied asylum.
Now those people will face a new terror—“Homeland Security” police. Their homes will be surveilled. Then will come the knock at the door, the armed men pouring in, the shouting, the glaring lights, the children and parents taken away in handcuffs, put on planes, and sent back to the very places from which they fled for their lives. Of the people deported back to Central America since the beginning of 2014, at least 83 have been murdered, according to a UK Guardian study.
Reports of these planned raids follow a whole program where the U.S. has pushed its “partner,” the Mexican government, to unleash a reign of terror against Central American immigrants as they attempt to enter, or travel through, Mexico. The U.S. gave Mexico over $80 million to launch the Southern Border Plan (Plan Frontera Sur). Mexican police have been sent to patrol its southern border with Guatemala. In 2014 over 20,000 raids were carried out in bus stations, hotels, highways, and hotels, hunting “suspected” refugees. Barriers and other structures were built to prevent people from getting on trains, and to knock them off if they somehow made it to the top of the trains. Some police fired tasers at people on the tops of the trains.
The effect of this has been to make an already dangerous journey into a terrifying horror. Forced off the trains, young children, or parents carrying toddlers, must now walk through difficult and dangerous terrain. And forced away from the historic migration routes—which are dotted with way stations set up by religious and charitable groups—people must now travel in more isolated areas where they are much more vulnerable both to nature and to criminal attacks.
The injustice of deportation and the U.S.-imposed horror of the journey are both done with a point—to spread the word among people in Central America that no matter how horrible their situation is, it is just not worth it to try and come to the U.S., and if you somehow succeed, you will likely be deported anyway. The Wall Street Journal reported, “the operation aims to send the message to would-be crossers that they won’t be allowed to remain in the U.S.”
This is how the self-proclaimed great defender of human rights “solves the refugee crisis”! Donald Trump—he of the fascist lies about and threats to immigrants—took credit for prompting Obama’s move. This is, without exaggeration, like some monster forcing people back into a burning building. And in this case, it is the same monster—U.S. imperialism—that set the building on fire.
Yet people continue to come, because when parents see their children’s very lives in danger there is no measure they will not take, and no risk too great, to try and protect them. These refugees have had to face all the dark forces that can be mustered by the U.S. empire to stop them.
Everyone of any nationality and in whatever situation should stand with them. It is time and past time for growing numbers of people in this country to defend and welcome these refugees, to fiercely condemn, oppose and resist the criminal barbarity of forcing children to their deaths, and to do all this as part of preparing to get rid of this monstrous system that can only heap more and more suffering on people here and around the world.
Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"
Clip from "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian" given in 2003. Learn more about Bob Avakian here.
Above: Immigrant children, who were stopped while trying to cross the border, seen here sleeping on the floor of a holding cell in Brownsville, Texas, June 2014. Photo: AP
The Department of Homeland Security carried out its first wave of armed raids on the homes of refugees from Central America over the New Year’s weekend, taking 121 women and children in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas into custody. Those picked up were transported to detention centers near the border, where they are being processed before being forced to return to the violence and danger in the countries they fled. What these immigration agents are doing is completely illegal. Lacking arrest warrants, armed agents barged into immigrant homes after lying about why they were there and threatening those inside with arrest if they didn’t open up. Once inside, anyone who couldn’t show an identification card was hauled away.
One family described hearing their doorbell ring at 4:30 am; followed by searchlights looking in every window; then armed agents lying in wait for hours. When someone finally left the house he was stopped. The agents had no legal right to enter the house without a warrant, so they lied and told him they wanted to search the house for a man wanted by the law. The immigrant still refused to let them in, so he was threatened that “non-collaboration with the police department could lead to your arrest.” When he finally gave in, the agents rushed inside the house, demanded to see everyone’s identification card, and took away a mother and two children from El Salvador.
Between July 18, 2014, and Nov. 24, 2015, U.S. courts heard 46,956 cases for immigration violations by unaccompanied minors. Of the 19,326 cases in which courts have ruled so far, 9,109 children ordered deported back to horrific conditions that drove their families to send them on the desperate journey from Central America to the U.S.
Above: Central American families, including young children, riding on top of a freight train through Mexico on the way to the U.S. border, July 2014. Photo: AP
Now I can just hear these reactionary fools saying, “Well, Bob, answer me this. If this country is so terrible, why do people come here from all over the world? Why are so many people trying to get in, not get out?”...Why? I’ll tell you why. Because you have fucked up the rest of the world even worse than what you have done in this country. You have made it impossible for many people to live in their own countries as part of gaining your riches and power.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:14
CHEERS to the New Sanctuary Movement
January 12, 2016
Religious and immigrant rights groups around the country have condemned the armed raids against refugees here from Central America carried out by Homeland Security at the start of this year, calling them illegal, deeply immoral, obscene, and inhumane. They are organizing opposition through online petitions, statements, press conferences, and more. Warnings about possible raids are appearing in Spanish on Twitter. A campaign to educate immigrants is taking place on social media, using hashtags like #Not1More, and #WatchICE. Tips and phone numbers to call if ICE agents show up are being provided, and people are urged not to sign voluntary deportation papers and to ask for their lawyers.
A very significant development within this growing resistance is the new Sanctuary Movement among religious congregations and immigrant rights groups, vowing to offer refuge to illegal immigrants being targeted by federal raids. The original Sanctuary Movement arose in the 1980s, when churches in the Southwest especially provided sanctuary for immigrants from Central America to obstruct and prevent the government’s efforts to deport them. At that time too, thousands and thousands of Salvadorans and Guatemalans were desperately trying to escape from the repression and the genocidal military campaigns being waged by the U.S. directly and through its flunky governments to crush rebellions influenced by its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union.
Upcoming showings of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and discussions of BA's outline of the new synthesis of communism—near you.
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.
New York City
Revolution Books, 437 Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Ave.
Contact Revolution Books at the address above or 212-691-3345 / email@example.com for upcoming events.
Revolution Club Member Asks Spike Lee at Chi-Raq Q+A...
"Do you think the problem is human nature or the nature of the system?"
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).
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,” RevolutionaryWorker #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)
December 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Monday: After over a year of lies and cover-up, the IN-justice system now says they will bring NO charges against the police who murdered Tamir Rice! This is outrageous. This is intolerable. Tamir Rice was a 12-year-old boy, playing with a toy gun in a city park. He was shot down in less than two seconds by police who rolled up on him.
Saturday: At 4:30 in the morning December 26, the day after Christmas, a Chicago cop murdered 19-year-old Quintonio Legrier, a student at Northern Illinois University and Bettie Jones, a mother of five and grandmother of 10. Quintonio had been struggling with mental health issues and his family wanted help. Instead, the police pulled up to the apartment house and fired, killing both of them.
How many more will these murderers in blue shoot down people?!? How long can this be tolerated, from people who are supposed to “serve and protect”?? What kind of a system does this??!?
This cannot go down like this! This cannot go on!
Everyone, everywhere, act now! Join protests, or call protests if nobody else is. Make a sign and get out where people are and call on them to join you. Spread this message by social media, and print it up and get it out everywhere.
Black people have been kidnapped, murdered, enslaved, exploited, Jim-Crowed, lynched, segregated, rioted against, discriminated against, beaten, scorned and slandered, imprisoned, bitten by dogs, lied to and lied on, soft-soaped with hope and promised and tricked, sold out and shot out and shot down in the streets, and just goddamn brutalized and killed over and over, since day one. And here we are going into 2016, and nothing has changed.
How long?!? As long as the system that did all this and does all this still stands.
Humanity needs revolution, a real revolution, a communist revolution. There is a way to win and a new world to build, there is a plan for all this, there is a leader—Bob Avakian (BA)—who has shown the way, and there is a party that he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party.
As BA has said:
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness. (BAsics 1:24)
And as he has vowed:
Go to the BAsics page. Free E-book Now Available:
Right-click to download the e-book for the Kindle here.
Right-click to download the e-book for other e-readers here.
For instructions on downloading and moving files from your computer to your e-reader, click here.
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. (BAsics 1:13)
Get with this leader and get with this Party. We aim to make good on this vow. Visit the website www.revcom.us, and find out more. And join with us, now, in the streets to protest and resist this huge outrage that has just been perpetrated. Bring your anger, your sorrow, your outrage and your hopes for emancipation.
Updated January 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Cleveland, December 29. Photos: Special to www.revcom.us/Revolution
When the word came down on Monday, December 28 that NO CHARGES would be brought against the Cleveland cops who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, that ONCE AGAIN the system was letting the pigs get away with murder—people really did feel that this cannot go down like this!
In Cleveland and other cities, people were determined to make it clear right away that we aren’t going for this MURDEROUS LYNCH MOB LOGIC—that we DEMAND JUSTICE FOR TAMIR RICE, that we demand these KILLER COPS GO TO JAIL!
In Cleveland a group of people gathered to protest right away at the city park where Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun when he was shot down in less than two seconds by the cops who rolled up on him. People marched through the city to the police headquarters. Then on Tuesday, over 200 people rallied and marched in the streets—students and youth, of different nationalities, Black activists, people from peace movements, supporters of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Cleveland Revolution Club members and family members from Cleveland and Detroit who have had loved ones killed by the police.
There was a deep spirit of outrage and anger. People chanted, “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail—The Whole Damn System is Guilty as Hell” and disrupted traffic to get the message out that this was not a time for business as usual. At least 6 key intersections were blocked in the downtown area which caused the main highway, route 90, to be shut down at an on-ramp for over 45 minutes. Protesters chanted and linked arms at many intersections. Several people lay on the pavement for four minutes to symbolize the amount of time Tamir went before receiving medical treatment after he was shot. And at one point people surrounded two police cars. Alicia Kirkman, whose son Angelo Miller was killed by police in 2007, spoke to the crowd about her experience fighting the city in court saying, “All they want to do is pay us off... Enough is enough.”
The police were out in force, with horses and at one point with cops in riot gear and dogs. But people continued to protest undeterred for six hours, despite these threatening pigs and the wind and cold. One Black man said, “With the police and their horses, they think they are going to intimidate us, but no, we are going to be out here. Tonight is just the beginning.”
On December 30, about 60 people gathered at 3 pm at the Justice Center to march and disrupt downtown Cleveland for a third day of protest. People marched into the major intersection of Public Square, stayed in the intersection, drew lots of attention, and held up traffic for hours. Half of the people stayed while the rest went on a march through downtown. Revolution Club members helped lead this march chanting, “How do we get out of this mess? Revolution—Nothing Less!” and “We young, we strong, we marchin’ all night long!” The march was spirited, reached lots of people along the way. Revolution newspaper sellers got out the revcom.us statement “More Police Murder... More Murdering Police Go Free. This Cannot Go Down Like This! This Cannot Go On!” A Revolution Club member said, “We reached a lot of people, a few joined the march. Some people wanted to get deeper into what was going on, especially a woman with children saying ‘They could do it to my child’ [referring to the police killing of Tamir Rice]. People are still out there and want it stopped. People on the march took up the “Revolution—Nothing Less!” chant. Some people are looking at revolution as a solution, people want to get out of this mess. At the end of six hours of marching people talked about getting organized for further protests.
New York City, December 28 (above) and December 29 (below). Photos: www.revcom.us/Revolution
Los Angeles, December 30. Photos: Special to www.revcom.us/Revolution
On New Year’s Eve about 40 people gathered at the Justice Center for a fourth day of protest. A huge banner with a picture of Tamir Rice along with “Justice For Tamir,” “Stop Police Terror and Murder,” and “Which Side Are you On?” painted by a local artist led the march that took to the streets in the downtown entertainment area in defiance of the police who tried to intimidate the protesters. A good number of white people in downtown for New Year’s Eve took flyers with the revcom.us statement “More Police Murder... More Murdering Police Go Free. This Cannot Go Down Like This! This Cannot Go On!” and BAsics 1:13 and wanted to know about the protest. There were also knots of Black people waiting in the cold at bus stops, and they expressed much outrage at the cops who murdered Tamir not getting indicted. Five well-dressed white people joined the march, including a woman who had tears in her eyes as she heard the chant, “12 years old—how do you justify that?!” At midnight there was a moment of silence for all the victims of murder by police as people held each other’s hands.
In New York City, protesters took to the streets within hours of the announcement that Tamir Rice’s killers would go free. Monday night, some 200-300 people marched from Washington Square Park through the city and then across the Brooklyn Bridge. Chants included: “We are doing this for Tamir. March on without fear,” “I am Tamir Rice.” Also, “Indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.” On Tuesday, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network held a rally in Union Square.
In Los Angeles the Stop Mass Incarceration Network led a demonstration of about 20 people who protested and spoke out in front of LAPD Headquarters then marched through downtown and busy Grand Central Market chanting "Tamir was a boy, he was playing with a toy" and "Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell!" People were hurting and furious at the non-indictment in Cleveland of the cops who murdered 12-year-old Tamir Rice. One white woman who had been walking downtown with her kids joined on the spot, and started to cry when she tried to speak, saying she didn't have the words but just wanted to be there with us. A woman whose brother was killed by Atlanta police in 2010 heard about the protest on the radio and came with her children and a sign they made with her brother's name, Nery Alfredo Lemus, and "We Are All Tamir." The Revolution Club represented with a poster of Bob Avakian's Three Strikes quote and spoke about the way out of what this system has done to Black people since it's foundation, and the liberation of all humanity, through Revolution Nothing Less and the science and strategy of communist revolution developed and led by BA. Other protests were held in San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle, Cincinnati; and Boston.
Killer Cops Walk Free!
Justice for Tamir Rice!
Indict, Convict and Send the Killer Cops to Jail!
Rise Up! Which Side Are You On?
Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed the quote "All they want to do is pay us off... Enough is enough" to Tamir Rice's mother. This version corrects that. The quote is from Alicia Kirkman, whose son Angelo Miller was killed by police in 2007, from Cleveland at the rally and march on December 29, 2015.
January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Josh Williams (Photo: Free Joshua Williams NOW Facebook page)
Josh Williams is one of the defiant youths of Ferguson, Missouri, who in the summer of 2014 took to the streets after cop Darren Wilson murdered Michael Brown and police left his body in the street for four hours. Then 17 years old, Josh was among the courageous youths who stood up and said “no more!” in an unmistakable fashion and gave expression to the pain and anger of millions of Black and Brown people who are dehumanized, demonized, and brutalized by this system and its enforcers. They refused to back down in the face of tear gas and tanks, and their actions inspired an urgently needed, long overdue resistance against police murder across the country.
Josh is cherished and respected by those who know him personally and have fought side by side with him. And Josh became an inspiration to many more as he became a symbol for, and his image an icon of, the Ferguson uprising. In the eyes of the authorities, this was the crime” that needed to be punished. Josh has been convicted of bogus felony charges and was sentenced on December 10 to eight years in prison. This is a vicious injustice. It should be condemned by everyone who stands with the fight against police terror.
What’s on Trial Is Rising Up Against Police Terror
The prosecution and imprisoning of Josh Williams is retaliation against the powerful, beautiful, and courageous uprising that shined a hot spotlight seen around the world on brutal racism and terror against generations of Black and Brown youth in America. Josh’s sentence is meant to send a message to those who supported and sympathized with the rebellion, and the prosecutor openly admitted this.
Josh was charged with felony burglary and arson after people stood up in rage when police gunned down 18-year-old Antonio Martin in Berkeley (a town next to Ferguson) on December 23, 2014. Antonio Martin was another Black youth who “fit the description” of a “suspect” (supposedly for shoplifting in this case) and ended up being gunned down by police. This was just one month after the November 24 grand jury decision that gave a stamp of approval to Darren Wilson’s murder of Mike Brown while making clear that killer cops are immune from justice.
Those Who Rule This Murderous System Have NO RIGHT to Talk About Violence!
Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?
"Why are we still fighting for justice in 2015?" is a clip from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. The film is of the November 2014 historic Dialogue on a question of great importance in today's world between the Revolutionary Christian Cornel West and the Revolutionary Communist Bob Avakian. Watch the entire film here.
This is a system that loots whole continents and destroys whole communities. It’s a system that strides around the world as the global killer cop with military occupations and drone strikes that routinely incinerate whole families. Violence is deeply entrenched in America’s culture, going back to the enslavement and torture of African people to accumulate its founding wealth, and hunting and exterminating Native peoples to steal their land. Just since Josh Williams was arrested one year ago, more than 1,100 people have been killed by police across the U.S. What people in Ferguson and across the country have been rising up against is a slow genocide against Black people. The spear point of that genocide is police terror and mass incarceration.
In Defense of the Defiant Ones—It Is RIGHT to Rebel Against Police Terror!
We salute the bravery and defiance of the people in Ferguson in response to the outrageous refusal of the Grand Jury to indict the murderer of Michael Brown. They said NO, loud and clear, to injustice. No one was left in any doubt that they have had enough. And nobody can miss their courage and desire to fight against the enemy.
The bourgeois talking heads will slander them. The liberals will shake their heads. But know this...
This is not hopelessness or despair. No, this is casting away illusions. This is confronting reality as it is and saying in very clear terms HELL NO! And thereby laying the basis for real hope.
This is not senselessness. No, this is sanity. This is what it looks like when the outcasts realize that this system has no place for them, and they decide to stand up against that.
This statement went on to make the point that “People will learn to fight better and direct their anger more clearly,” but that people standing up, refusing to be beaten down and broken is crucial to doing that.
Jail Killer Cops—Not Freedom Fighters
Josh Williams has already spent more time in jail than Darren Wilson and the cops who killed Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice. His prosecution and sentencing are part of a larger counter-offensive going on over the last year aimed at suppressing the movement to stop police terror. This includes beatings and arrests of hundreds of protesters, including many who continue to face criminal charges and jail time. This includes police and media efforts to demonize and discredit the resistance, as well as threats like those directed at film director Quentin Tarantino for speaking out against police murder at Rise Up October. It is crucial to stand up for those under attack and do this as part of advancing the struggle to STOP police terror. Defending people who are being targeted and punished for fighting against police murder needs to become an integral part of the challenge to all society: “Which side are you on?”
Readers can go to the #FreeJosh hashtag and the Facebook petition site to learn about efforts to fight for Josh’s release and how to support him in prison. Those who are in prison, and all those with family and friends in prison, should spread the word to respect and defend freedom fighter Josh Williams.
Police Who Murder People Walk Free—
While Iggy & Alfredo Face Felony Charges for Protesting Police Murder & Demanding Justice!
Drop All the Charges Now on Iggy & Alfredo and on All Those Arrested Protesting Police Murder!
Updated January 25, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Pack the courtroom. Next hearing:
Iggy and Alfredo: Thursday, March 3, 2016, 9:30 am, Room 206, Cook County Court, 2600 S. California Ave, Chicago, IL.
Demand the charges be dropped --against David “Iggy Flow” Rucker and Alfredo Reyes.
Contact state’s attorney Anita Alvarez, 69 W. Washington, Suite 3200, Chicago, IL 60602; firstname.lastname@example.org. 312-603-1880.
Publicize the case. Invite the defendants to speak in classes, to church
groups, on the radio. Spread the word on social media. Get this flier out everywhere. Make sure all protestors, and everyone you know who is supportive of the protests, is aware of these cases and get them involved. Speak out on this yourself at your school, church groups, etc.
Refuse to be intimidated. They arrest people and put heavy charges on some so that you will be afraid to stand up for justice. Make this backfire on them. For everyone they arrest, many more must join the struggle.
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.
IGGY & ALFREDO – FACE FELONY CHARGES
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.
WE DEMAND – DROP THE CHARGES NOW! HANDS OFF IGGY & ALFREDO!
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
STAND WITH IGGY & ALFREDO!
DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST the SOUTH SHORE 2!
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.
On the Significance of RiseUpOctober: Building on Strengths, Overcoming Weaknesses... And Fighting to Actually Put an End to Police Terror and White Supremacy Through Revolution
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
November 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn't fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There's never gonna be a revolution in this country and there never should be, that doesn't make that one key foundation of what it's all about.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:19
Get your free e-book copy of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakianhere.
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.
Evaluating Strengths and Weaknesses
October 24—Thousands took to the streets of NYC for the culmination of three days of Rise Up October, led by
families of victims of police murder (above), many carrying large pictures of men and women whose lives were unjustly
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.
Bringing Out the Need for Revolution and the Leadership of Bob Avakian
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.
BA and the Struggle to Uproot the Oppression of Black People and All Other Oppressed Nationalities
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.
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. TheConstitution 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”.
The Problem... The Solution... And the Process
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:
BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian
REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN
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.
We held three salons in this area on The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements by Bob Avakian (the outline). This correspondence is mainly on the first two.
The salons were large (we broke into two groups in the final salon) and included people with various levels of understanding. They were attended by a mixture of veterans, Revolution Club members, a few veteran comrades, and new and newer people, some of whom were current university students or recent graduates. We decided to focus mainly on digging into, engaging, and struggling over some of the key points in the outline rather than trying to “cover all the points,” as the way to open up the engagement with BA and the new synthesis. Digging into these basic points, and speaking to the thinking/questions of the newer people, was engaging and challenging for everyone involved.
We began this first salon with BA’s “Introductory Point of Orientation” and the “Method and Approach: Communism as a Science—Further Development of Dialectical Materialism,” the first point in that section on freedom and necessity.
Everyone spoke, and overall people were very stimulated and engaged, including by being in a group with a bunch of different people and hearing different views. People thought it was very exciting and important to take the time to dig into basic, foundational questions, not mainly practical tasks, etc., which a number of people said they did not get the chance to do normally or in the course of doing political work/working on the mass initiatives. People expressed a real interest in digging into BA and the new synthesis further, although we have to make sure that happens, as the sessions also revealed much more work and struggle to be done.
The importance of the new synthesis in terms of not just what people think, but how they think, really stood out. People are not used to thinking about how they think, what their method and approach are, what is scientific, what truth is, what theory is, instead they’re used to thinking phenomenally.
On the question of science, people were eager to dig into this and got the point that it is about reality, and has to be systematic, and evidence based, and not just apply to one person or situation but more universally, and that it has to be provable or repeatable. This was an important beginning, and it was a positive thing that people were trying to draw on and apply this to all the questions we were discussing.
Many of the newer people were influenced by relativism and identity politics, which came out in the form of the role and importance of “lived experience.” People could more readily see that we had to be for all humanity rather than a single group, than they could the scientific question—that there is one objective reality, science is about getting to that, and that you can’t change the world unless you proceed from that method and approach. Also, people, again including some comrades and those around us for a long time, were much more able to criticize populism than populist epistemology, in particular how this has been a problem in the communist movement and our own thinking. Things got more sharpened up around populist epistemology, more than relativism overall, and there was contestation about relativism which needs further sharpening up. People’s mode of thinking is phenomenal; they’re able to criticize populism but not that mode of thought or to examine their own mode of thinking.
Some of the newer people also tended to proceed from the mass initiatives—not revolution and communism—including that the initiatives were a key part of the strategy for revolution. And none of these newer people seemed clear on actual revolution, which was also apparent in the discussion of the strategic approach to revolution, and what communist consciousness means (lot of emphasis on it being scientific, but detached from/not specifically connected to actually making revolution). One new person articulated a different line—more improving things for everyone—and it definitely impacted her view of what methodology is required. Afterward one veteran remarked that the sessions made him think about how buried we are in the day-to-day struggle and how important it is to step back and see the bigger picture.
People were excited to get into what is science. The general understanding that emerged was along the lines leaning toward positivism—that you have to have evidence, collect data, it must be testable, reproducible, universal, and internally consistent. Someone raised the issue of “lived experience,” which we also got into in our second session. Others objected. One student argued that lived experience is not the only way to measure the truth—the criteria is internally consistent, logical, repeatable, and applicable to everyone, and as another person put it, science “brings us together.”
Later and in other sessions, I raised that science first and foremost has to reflect objective reality, including internal contradictions, development, motion, the leap to synthesis, and conceptual knowledge.
Other issues that came up that we weren’t able to pursue: science has been used against the people, and it can be going toward an agenda. (We didn’t fully get into the relationship between scientific and partisan—or “agendas.”) A student raised: “I have a problem with social science. Also we don’t know yet if god exists or not; there’s no evidence to prove god doesn’t exist.” A recent graduate said: “That’s not my major [science], but now seeing how science can be applied to everyday life, and the system is set up so we’re not trained to be scientists.” We got into this a bit, could have much more.
This was a new concept to many people who were digging into the science of communism for the first time. So I had to do some background. Dialectics and materialism represent a huge leap in human understanding that went against thousands of years of idealism and metaphysics (matter as unchanging “billiard balls”) by Marx, who applied it to history and society. The goal of communism is based on this and scientifically determined—comes out of scientific analysis of how society is organized, what’s essence of society, how it has changed and how there is now a basis to end oppression. It’s not easy to be scientific, and BA has made those breakthroughs. I referred to BAsics 4:4.
The New Synthesis
There was confusion and different lines over whether the key here was that the new synthesis represented a leap and foundation for a whole new world. One person said that it’s a work in progress, and that tells you things could change in the future. Another said: “I don’t know the old synthesis, so how can I evaluate the new one?” A veteran comrade made an important point: you have to get into the substance, you have to look at the previous stage of communist revolution—what are the lessons learned; is what’s learned adequate to the task of preparing for revolution and getting to the 4 Alls; is the new synthesis a significant rupture with even the best of communist movement prior; do these constitute a radical and necessary rupture. This outline is a clearer guide to answering those questions in the affirmative.
Freedom and Necessity
We read BA’s statement on freedom and necessity (quoted at the beginning of Ardea Skybreak’s book Of Primeval Steps & Future Leaps and discussed in the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and in “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past,” in Demarcations #4) and cited this as a crucial way BA has further developed dialectical materialism and the science of communism. The newer people especially had not heard or thought about this, so we had to explain some basic terms—necessity, freedom, etc. (a number of people raised the need for a definition of terms).
A veteran comrade talked about how “inevitablism” (the idea that the achievement of communism is inevitable) means there’s no (or less) role for consciousness, as if people will pick up the science on their own, and this negates the role of the party. But people had a harder time with the deeper issue spoken to in the quote—the dialectic between causality and accident and the many layers of reality (and then yes, “inevitabilism” would undercut the fight for scientific probing of reality on all its levels).
A university student raised she was confused about constraint and freedom, but said something like “communism is not freedom”—that communism has a tendency to dictatorship, a lot feel communism is dictatorship.
So much was raised and we were not able to dig into so many things, including the statement about communism. People were anxious to get together again to get further into the new synthesis and challenge themselves further. A number of people continued the discussion that day and the next.
To begin the second session, I briefly returned to why we’re digging into this outline and BA’s new synthesis: There are crises and cracks in the wall in this system, which is a horror; BA’s new synthesis is a revolution in human thought and represents a coherent foundation for a new stage of communism; the possibility of making an actual revolution and forging a new communist world has been greatly heightened as a direct result of the new synthesis of communism—it’s what people DON’T know about and urgently need to know—there’s a way out and a leadership to lead us out! We are wrestling with theory here—why? Because without revolutionary theory—theory based on a consistently scientific method and approach, and in particular the scientific method and approach of dialectical materialism—and without this theory being taken up and applied by growing numbers of people, there can be no emancipating revolution, and the horrendous outrages and abuses to which the masses of humanity are continually subjected will go on—and on. And I directed people to read or re-read “‘If you are serious...’ An Invitation to Learn About—and Change—the World” from revcom.us.
I then recapped and deepened a couple of points from the last discussion: Science isn’t just the systematic collection of evidence, it’s also making the leap to understanding how things work, how they came to be, the contradictions within and driving something, how it can be changed, how it interacts with other things (drawing from the interview with Ardea Skybreak). And how confronting this “necessity”—i.e., reality and what you’re up against—is the basis for grasping freedom, i.e., the ability to work on and transform that reality. Confronting reality as it actually is sounds like a simple thing, but it’s not. There are furious arguments against doing that, including in the communist movement—many ways people don’t—it’s not automatic or natural and this means science and the scientific method further developed by BA.
The first question (What is a scientific theory of knowledge, and what is relativism?) sparked a lot of discussion about people’s views of abortion and women’s rights (one person initially asked whether men have anything to say about abortion) and more generally the politics and morality of different issues, but it was more difficult for people to get to the epistemological issues. For example, one young man said, “It’s not murder, but in the antis’ minds they equate that with murder; I don’t see that.” I asked, “How do you know?” “That’s what I believe: woman’s right to do what she wants.” A young woman jumped in. She said, “It’s not scientific. A woman has to give birth to a fetus, but if there is no birth, it is not a baby.”
This got us back to a discussion of what science is and how it’s different than relativism. Some again had a more linear or positivist view: a university student again argued that science is internally consistent, proven by experiment, and true to everyone. A recent graduate added that: “Truth and science is to give up all emotion; it’s truth for everyone, and reality is out there regardless of what people think or experience.” Another: “Just because you say it’s true doesn’t make it a fact. If a tree falls in the forest, it still makes a sound [this example I heard a number of times]; if everyone had their own reality, we wouldn’t get anywhere.” And another student: “Humans are part of the objective world. Ideas flow from that and are part of that objective reality, but they don’t determine what is the objective world—e.g., the Sun does not go around the Earth.”
It was pointed out that “objective” means independent of all perceptions. But the question of whether there’s one objective reality was still contested: The young man said: “There are many realities—there’s lived experienced, there’s objective reality... but lived experience colors what your reality is, as in you haven’t gone through what I’ve gone through.” People wrestled with this in terms of its political implications. A university student said: “The hidden assumption of identity politics is you’re fighting for a certain group of people—we’re not fighting for a certain group of people but humanity.”
On populist epistemology and whether the oppressed have a special purchase on the truth, some people raised there can be good populism—in the sense of something we’re fighting for becomes popular. In speaking against populism, a university student raised the example of the oppressed voting for Nazis. She then connected populism and religiosity. She argued that in previous movements in Russia and China, the leaders were far beyond their contemporaries, who were often illiterate and couldn’t understand. So to promote their ideas, there had to be a dictatorship and to maintain that dictatorship they made their leaders gods or idols. She asked, “Is there another way to promote the idea without making it religious?”
I thought this would take us in the direction of getting into a long discussion of the first wave of communist revolution, which I feared could have taken us off track—but I did want to set the record straight. The point of dictatorship of the proletariat is to move toward communism. Mao broke ground in addressing the contradiction being posed and worked on narrowing the gap. The university student countered that the way Mao and others did that was to promote the Red Book in a way that made Mao a god. I responded that no, that wasn’t Mao’s outlook or what the Cultural Revolution in China was about. At the same time, BA has further advanced the understanding of how to narrow this gap between the leadership and the led. All this was worth real digging and interrogation. In thinking about this exchange now, I think maybe it would have been worth going there in the sense that the whole emphasis in the new synthesis on training people how to think is precisely to narrow this real gap and the opposite of promoting a religious view of leadership.
For humanity to advance beyond a state in which "might makes right"—and where things ultimately come down to raw power relations—will require, as a fundamental element in this advance, an approach to understanding things (an epistemology) which recognizes that reality and truth are objective and do not vary in accordance with, nor depend on, different "narratives" and how much "authority" an idea (or "narrative") may have behind it, or how much power and force can be wielded on behalf of any particular idea or "narrative," at any given point.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 4:10
One person, older in years but newer to revolution and BA, said that being part of an oppressed group doesn’t mean you have all the answers—perhaps insight into life experiences, but it is not difficult for anyone to research or see reality, whether oppressed or not. One recent graduate was still grappling with all this. She said, “Populism and populist epistemology: yes and no. Some who are oppressed come out as revolutionaries and some don’t. It’s hard to get the whole big picture, but there are different narratives and perspectives and always will be, but we need to come to an understanding that we can all agree on.”
We went back to why is this epistemology crucial. A Revolution Club leader said, “If there is no way to understand what is true, you default to who is the most powerful guy around. Without science the only other option is conventional wisdom.” A young man said, “When I said before that people have different realities, I meant points of view. But there is an overarching objective reality on top of that. It makes sense, this BAsics quote (4:10), but I can’t express it. If reality and truth are not objective, the ones with more resources and money will get their say.”
The issue of one reality is still at issue—is reality all-encompassing and objective, or is it what people think? Can you apply science to human society? All of this is related to people being victims of deceit and self-deceit until they see class interests behind things—but also related to taking up the method of looking at the world scientifically regardless of what people think and not caught up in narratives.
Discussing Bob Avakian's New Synthesis with Spanish-Speaking Immigrants
January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Several Spanish-speaking immigrants got together recently to dig into Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Below is a report on that lively discussion. Because of limited materials in Spanish, we referred a lot to quotes from Lo BAsico (Spanish edition of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian).
It was exciting to do this with new people who we have been working with on the fault line of police brutality. These people, mainly from Central America, have gotten the newspaper, seen the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and have copies of Lo BAsico. But it makes a big difference to actually read from Lo BAsico in preparation for this discussion of The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements (Outline). I really got an appreciation for how valuable Lo BAsico is for introducing people to the new synthesis. Some of the outline can be intimidating to new people because it literally is speaking a new language for them. The quotes in Lo BAsico, Chapter 4, were what we mainly used. Most people did the readings and everyone followed the re-studying of the quotes during the discussion. (At the time of preparation, the Spanish translation of the interview with 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, was not available.)
(From Chapter 4 of Lo BAsico we discussed #1, 14, 6, 7 and 10.)
But even before getting into the outline itself and the Lo BAsico quotes, we made an introduction (prepared for another English-speaking salon) about the historical sweep for humanity starting 200,000 years ago and summarizing the development of classes and oppression and the first stage of communist revolution. This was controversial right away because one woman raised that she knows that the world cries out for change and the idea of communism and people having equality and rights, but she has heard contradictory things about communism. Some people argue that in Cuba, for example, people have access to great education and health care but other people say that people are trying to sell their shoes off their feet in order to get money for food and that there is great poverty and suffering... “So where is the communism,” she asks. “I don’t see that it has ever existed.”
People need the truth about the communist revolution. The REAL truth. At a time when people are rising up in many places all over the world and seeking out ways forward, THIS alternative is ruled out of order. At a time when even more people are agonizing over and raising big questions about the future, THIS alternative is constantly slandered and maligned and lied about, while those who defend it are given no space to reply.
Contains Interview with Raymond Lotta, Timeline of The REAL History of Communist Revolution, and more...
So this led us to go and pull out copies of the Revolution newspaper special issue: “The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future” and read the section on what the revolution was able to do right away about the oppression of women. Others talked about other achievements, like the barefoot doctors in China, and a veteran talked about how when he visited China young kids spoke about a different future for people around the world and felt like they were a part of bringing that forward. But then we talked about the reversal of the revolution in China after the death of Mao and why there is a basis for that reversal because of the inherited inequalities and class differences. So this was really good and the woman who posed the question came out of it promising to read that special issue, and we put a challenge to her to take responsibility for doing that.
I went through the whole outline and very briefly summarized the four component parts of the new synthesis. Then we started going into the Lo BAsico quotes around method and approach. Right from the first quote there was controversy because another person said, “When it says understand reality... whose reality? It depends who you ask, doesn’t it?” So this led us into a discussion of relativism and the problem with “your narrative” and “my narrative,” etc., and that there is a basis for getting at and understanding objective truth. But there have been problems in not maintaining a rigorous scientific method and attitude among communists. We talked about how the new synthesis opens up an understanding of wrong tendencies toward instrumentalism and not confronting the truths that make one cringe. We talked about the example of the capture of Chairman Gonzalo in Peru and the difficulties that the comrades there had with that and the harm that it caused.
We also began discussion of Lo BAsico 4:10 and the problem with people accepting things based on how much authority is behind it, and Lo BAsico 4:7—truths that make you cringe; class truth and what problems that caused in the Soviet Union and later in China; how BA speaks to this and argues for a scientific method and approach for a new stage of communism, based on recognizing shortcomings of the first stage.
So there was a back and forth—looking at the real accomplishments but, also looking at BA’s fearless, critical method and approach in order to go forward and further next time.
People found the discussion both challenging and very helpful because they really had not seriously studied or looked at these things in the past. One woman came out saying, “Wow, I really have some work to do to study this special edition [of the history of the communist movement] and read more of Lo BAsico.” Two other women really appreciated this too, and I thought the discussion took on the argument for relativism and how you have to take responsibility for what is true and fight through with people to find out what is true and what isn’t and take responsibility to act based on that.
One of the things that I also learned in this session is how controversial the new synthesis is, even among some who have been around this movement for years. When we were discussing how BA approached the dialogue on religion and revolution with Cornel West and how he struggled with Cornel about what is true but also had the attitude of appreciating what Cornel brings to the table, one woman talked about how she is Catholic but does not close herself off from learning from others coming from either different faiths or no faith. When she spoke about her religious faith, one person started making fun of what she was saying. He was called out on this, and the religious woman herself let him know that this isn’t right. We need to listen and learn and understand where people are coming from and how they understand reality—and then, if it is wrong, we have the responsibility to struggle with them. If religion does not reflect reality, then struggle with people about why and what harm religion does, and with specifics, the way that BA does. Don’t take an attitude of smug arrogance and make fun or light of people’s way of thinking.
Plans for the next discussion were made. I decided to play the section from the film of BA’s talk Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About (this video has Spanish translation) on historical materialism, and open the discussion on the quote about no predetermined pathways from Ardea Skybreak’s book Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps (i.e., I wanted to get into the first sub-topic in the “method and approach” part in the outline).
and the Corporation That Owns a Day
Dr. Bennet Omalu's Story of Concussion
January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The more attacks I got from the NFL (National Football League), the more resolved I became to be myself. And every time I smelled racism, I even became angrier and more determined to be myself and stand for what I believed in, which in my mind was the truth.
These are the words of Dr. Bennet Omalu in the book, Concussion. Concussion, written by Jeanne Marie Laskas, is a story about a doctor with multiple medical degrees from Nigeria who discovered CTE1 (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), a brain disease, in football players. It is about the struggle for scientific discovery and a battle against the powerful NFL that did not want this disease and its causes to be brought into the light of day. (The book was made into a movie that was just released at Christmas, and I will have something to say about the movie at the end.)
The first third of the book gives you a sense about who Bennet Omalu is as he grows up in Nigeria, becomes a doctor, comes to the U.S. and takes up a job as forensic pathologist in the Allegheny County Coroner’s office in Pittsburgh, PA.
He talks about how he was shaped while in Nigeria:
I began to notice deficiencies in society I grew up in. My youthful idealism was strongly inconsistent with what I was observing. People accepted the status quo and somewhat embraced and encouraged mediocrity as a way of life. It really got me upset and impatient. I began to think that I did not belong to this society, with these people, with this system. I became more unsettled and angry.
But when Bennet Omalu came to the U.S., he found that in America, there was something for him to become angrier about:
But the thing that really complicated everything now was racism, which I still did not understand. At this time in my life, I had not read a lot about slavery and the history of racism in the United States. When I got here, I started reading the books.
He read about the Igbo people, his tribe in Nigeria, and how as slaves, chained to the decks of the York, they rose up in rebellion, took control of the ship, grounded it in Dunbar Creek, Savannah, GA, drowned all of their captors, and then gave their lives rather than become slaves by “walking into the creek in a collective suicide.”
If I had known all that before I came to the United States, honestly, I may not have come. I would have been so disgusted that I may have simply decided to remain in Nigeria. And the ironic thing was that America was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles! How can a Christian nation perpetrate such evil over centuries? I could not understand it. (Bennet Omalu is a devout Catholic, and this book is filled with much of his religious beliefs.)
What comes through in this book (as well as the movie) that has not been discussed previously about concussions and the CTE disease is the importance of science, scientific discovery, and the fight for the truth. In the book, Laskas poses this as the “good science” of Dr. Omalu versus the “bad science” of the NFL. This is not correct. The correct way to see this is that Dr. Omalu applied the science of forensic pathology to discover the clumps of tau protein in the brains of deceased football players while the NFL had its doctors lie and do everything to try to discredit Dr. Omalu, including claiming Dr. Omalu’s science “was faulty” and it was “voodoo medicine.”
We get to follow how Dr. Omalu made his discovery after he received the brain of Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers. As we previously reported, “In 2002, Mike Webster, age 50, died of a heart attack. In his final years he exhibited severe memory loss and dementia. He would put Super Glue on his teeth and Tasered himself to relieve his pain.”
Dr. Omalu followed meticulous forensic scientific procedures to dissect Mike Webster’s brain and study it very closely, including taking the dissected slides home to study them. At first, he found out that the Mike Webster’s brain did not have the characteristics of brains of those who had Alzheimer’s or dementia. This caused him to become more curious and to use all of the science he knew to keep at searching for some abnormality in the brain. He saw some dark splotches in the brain but did not know what they were.
It was his wife-to-be, Prema, who is a central figure in the book (and the movie), who gave Dr. Omalu the words to discover what was in Mike Webster’s brain, when she sang a song: “what the mind does not know the eye cannot see.” Dr. Omalu then remembered what a professor once told him: that “you can’t know what you are looking at unless you understand it.”
And this led him to dig deeper into scientific studies to try to figure out what those dark splotches could be. He was not deterred when, at first, he could not figure it out because he thought that “the rhythm of the evolution of science (was) fits and starts and wrong turns and denial and more fits and starts.” Dr. Omalu did a lot of research about concussions and read many studies done about concussions. He had a question about whether the brain can completely heal itself after a concussion. He found a study reported in a 1927 Journal of American Medicine article about 100 such patients, which concluded, “Not only is there actual cerebral injury in cases of concussion, but in a few instances complete resolution does not occur and there is a strong likelihood that secondary degenerative changes develop.”
His perseverance in his science in studying Mike Webster’s brain and with another scientist, his former professor at the University of Pittsburgh, also examining the brain, led Dr. Omalu to discover what it was.
If you have had a chance to see the world as it really is, there are profoundly different roads you can take with your life. You can just get into the dog-eat-dog, and most likely get swallowed up by that while trying to get ahead in it. You can put your snout into the trough and try to scarf up as much as you can, while scrambling desperately to get more than others. Or you can try to do something that would change the whole direction of society and the whole way the world is. When you put those things alongside each other, which one has any meaning, which one really contributes to anything worthwhile? Your life is going to be about something—or it’s going to be about nothing. And there is nothing greater your life can be about than contributing whatever you can to the revolutionary transformation of society and the world, to put an end to all systems and relations of oppression and exploitation and all the unnecessary suffering and destruction that goes along with them. I have learned that more and more deeply through all the twists and turns and even the great setbacks, as well as the great achievements, of the communist revolution so far, in what are really still its early stages historically.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:23
When he did find that it was tau protein, which is an abnormality when it is found in clumps in the brain, he knew that he had discovered something that no one else had seen in football players. He gave it the name Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. For him, “Chronic stood for something that took a long time to develop; Traumatic stood for something related to or associated with trauma; and Encephalopathy stood for a sick brain.”
Dr. Omalu co-published a paper with his boss from Allegheny County Coroner’s office, Cyril Wecht, and with his former University of Pittsburgh professor. The paper, “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in a National Football League Player,” was published in the journal, Neurosurgery. It sent shockwaves through the NFL. The NFL immediate went all out to discredit and intimidate Dr. Omalu. They led a campaign to try and force him to retract his article and to silence him. Bennet thought the NFL was saying to him, “We own this field. We are not about to bow to some no-name Nigerian with a bullshit theory.”
Dr. Omalu refused to retract his article, so the NFL then published sixteen papers in Neurosurgery in order to discredit Bennet’s findings.
One brain was not enough to prove concussions caused this disease.
Dr. Omalu got what he needed—an ally from a former NFL doctor of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Julian Bailes, who helped him get more brains from deceased football players—players who exhibited abnormal behavior similar to Mike Webster. Dr. Omalu found the same clumps of tau protein in those brains. He now had discovered a pattern—a pattern of football players who died at an early age, who had severe mental problems and who had received multiple concussive hits while playing football—all of them with this tau protein in an abnormal place in the brain.
Dr. Omalu did not know anything about football. All he knew about were the brains of football players who lived in pain, suffering, and extreme mental illness after playing the game. About the game of football, Dr. Omalu thought to himself, “It hurts so much that you have to bubble-wrap your body, maybe you should play something different.” He learned about the tremendous force on the head when a player gets “blind-sided” by a vicious hit. He became more aware of the actual impacts players were taking, and that the linemen (those in the very front) who lower their heads when blocking take head hits almost every play—and this led him to study about multiple hits to the head that were at the sub-concussive level. He made scientific calculations that showed these linemen, like Mike Webster, took thousands of these hits to their heads that resulted in sub-concussive hits.
He read studies about helmets and improved helmet technology and came to the conclusion: “Helmets are not the answer. The brain has a certain amount of play inside the skull. It’s buoyed up in the cerebral spinal fluid. It sits in this fluid, floats. When the head suddenly stops, the brain continues and reverberates back.... So you could have padding that’s a foot thick, but that not going to change the acceleration/deceleration phenomena.”
The NFL was stung by Dr. Omalu’s finding. The “cats were out of the bag” and articles started appearing everywhere, asking, “Are players being killed by football?”
The NFL is an $8 billion business. It promotes a culture of violence and misogyny that is as “American as apple pie.” A big part of this country comes to a stop on the Sundays when the games are being played. The NFL could not allow this extremely negative fact that its players were being found to have this horrible life-ending disease caused by the game they played.
The FBI was brought in to investigate Dr. Omalu’s boss Dr. Cyril Wecht. They confiscated boxes of records and then charged Dr. Wecht with a bunch of bullshit charges, like using the office’s fax machine for personal faxes or having an employee walk his dog. The feds threatened Dr. Omalu with deportation unless he testified against Dr. Wecht. Dr. Wecht told Dr. Omalu, “You’re going to war with a corporation that owns a day.” In the movie, he says to Dr. Omalu, “The NFL owns Sunday, like the church used to.”
And that’s what the rest of the book is about—the war between Dr. Omalu and the NFL. The war is not over, but as more brains of deceased players are examined, the more the NFL spends to try to control the science and research of CTE. At the same time, books and movies like Concussion and those who write about CTE in football keep the focus on this important issue about the health of those who play the game. And some of us can even tell you that a new world is required and is possible that will put an end to this madness of racism, of opposing science, and of corporations owning a day of a week.
Dr. Omalu is currently the Chief Medical Examiner of San Joaquin County in California. He was asked to be the medical examiner of prestigious Washington, DC, coroner’s office but turned that down when Prema reminded him that was not what he was about. Earlier he says, “The important thing is the discovery, and what you can do for the world, and how it can help people. No (it’s) not (about) you. You were just the messenger.”
In the book, Dr. Omalu speaks a lot about racism and how he thinks that is a large part of why he has been attacked. The discovery of CTE is very damaging to football. No matter who discovered it, whether they were white or Black, the NFL would have gone after them to discredit their findings. So being African or Black was not the principal aspect of why he was so viciously gone after. It was because of what he discovered.
He does have some thinking about being Black in the U.S. and he reflects on that at the end of the book on how he thinks that pertains to him:
...I do think there’s a mind-set—no matter how much we may want to deny it in this country—a perception of blackness. And sometimes it’s a subconscious mind-set. Where anything associated with blackness has a negative connotation. This mind-set has a very fundamental assumption. A false assumption that black people cannot be intelligent.
I think this is my story to an extent. It’s a manifestation of a way of thinking.
Like Albert Einstein has said. He said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
The movie, which is based on the book, is not favorable to the NFL as it shows how Dr. Omalu (Will Smith) along with his two allies, Dr. Wecht (Albert Brooks) and Dr. Bailes (Alec Baldwin) take on the NFL and all the NFL throws at Dr. Omalu to force him to back down and to discredit his findings. The truth and those fighting for the truth are considered and treated by the NFL as “mortal” enemies.
The movie is riveting as you follow Dr. Omalu through his research to find out what is causing these former NFL players to become seriously mentally ill and then to commit suicide.
There has been controversy around the movie where Sony was criticized for making some deletions in order to “prevent the NFL from protesting the film.” So, there is a question of whether the film was softened so Sony could continue to work with the NFL. However, after seeing the movie, I don’t think it was soft on the NFL.
I was just listening to a sports talk radio program where the two announcers were discussing concussions and that there is this movie that people are talking about. Despite not seeing the movie, they thought that football has to improve on trying to reduce the “bone jarring” hits to the head. But they were also saying, “Well, you get concussions when you fall off a bicycle, so what’s really the problem?” A person called in, who had seen the movie, and he told them that they don’t understand. What he learned from the movie is that there are all these multiple hits, both at the concussive level and sub-concussive level, that all add up during a player’s career and causes this horrible and debilitating disease. And this is a serious problem because these players are never diagnosed as having a serous concussion, so they are allowed to continue playing. So, one of the announcers said, “I’m going to have to see this movie.
Everyone should check out this movie.
1. "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head. CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s. However, recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia." (Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy) [back]
Behind the Persecution of Anna Yocca:
Outrageous and Immoral Restrictions on Abortion in Tennessee
January 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
It is inconceivable that a woman desperate enough to use a coat hanger in a failed attempt to self-induce an abortion, in order to avoid being forced into motherhood, could actually be charged with attempted murder and thrown into prison! But that is exactly what is happening in Tennessee right now to Anna Yocca—she is currently in jail, unable to meet the $200,000 bail amount, and her arraignment was on December 22. As Sunsara Taylor has—correctly—stated in her piece on the persecution of Anna Yocca, “When a Woman Attempts a Coat-Hanger Abortion, It Is the Patriarchal SYSTEM That Is Guilty of Attempted Murder—Against Her!" This case is a result of, and itself comprises, an escalation of the attacks on women and on abortion rights.
We are in a state of a historic and unprecedented abortion rights emergency all across the U.S.—and as part of this, women are not only self-inducing abortions because of the lack of access to abortion, but they may then be subject to being criminalized and thrown in prison by the same system that has made it impossible for them to access safe and legal abortion care in the first place! It is immoral to force women into motherhood, or to put women in a situation where they feel they have no choice other than to take their lives into their own hands and attempt to self-induce abortion.
The wave of restrictions across the U.S. that is currently forcing abortion clinics to close at the rate of one every week and a half; the murders, threats, intimidation, and social stigma that women who have abortions and those who provide them are subject to at the hands of the anti-abortion movement; and the way that public opinion has been influenced by the anti-abortion movement to the point where even people who don’t want women forced into motherhood can at the same time view abortion as tragic or as if it is some sort of “justifiable homicide”—all this contributes to putting abortion care out of reach for thousands of women who need and want it.
Let me paint a picture of some of the obstacles that women in Tennessee face in order to get an abortion. First off is a 48-hour waiting period. This means that a woman seeking an abortion would have to visit the clinic twice—once to kick off the 48-hour waiting period, and then again after the 48 hours to have the abortion. This is unacceptable, when you consider the whole war on women and the all-too-real life obstacles that many women face. Maybe there is an abusive partner who is determined that she would go through with a pregnancy in order to further his control over her, and she has to escape his control long enough to get into the abortion clinic. She may be poor and perhaps already has several children to care for, and the time off work and loss of income will be a big problem. Maybe she was a victim of rape and is still dealing with the trauma of being assaulted. Or she just does NOT intend to become a parent, maybe never, or maybe not until she finishes high school, college, or fulfills some other goals. Whatever the reason for women seeking abortions, it is immoral to force women to wait for a medical procedure when it may already be an undue burden for them to get into an abortion clinic one time, let alone twice.
During the first visit, the abortion provider must by law give a face-to-face “counseling”—and the law mandates the specific information that the doctor must give, such as the gestational age of the fetus, description of the abortion procedure, agencies that would supposedly provide help if she chooses to not have an abortion, etc. Doctors who do not do this counseling or do not do it in the way spelled out by the law can be hit with misdemeanor or felony criminal charges or have their licenses revoked. This provision, along with the 48-hour waiting period rule, has nothing to do with any medical reasons—it is nothing but a measure to make it more difficult for women to get abortions. To “borrow” the medical authority, expertise, and knowledge of abortion doctors in order to fulfill an oppressive agenda—this is immoral! To inflict shame and totally unnecessary obstacles on women in order to force on them a life-changing decision, like becoming a parent—this is immoral!
Add to this picture that 96 percent of Tennessee counties have no abortion clinics—in other words, 63 percent of women in Tennessee do not have access to an abortion provider within their county. This means the majority of women in the state will have to travel some distance in order to get an abortion, so there’s the added cost of traveling, including loss of income from taking time off work. Coupled with the 48-hour waiting period, this adds even more costs, because now a woman who wants to get an abortion may have to find a place to stay near the clinic for at least two nights. And if you have state health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, it may not cover the expense of an abortion procedure.
In Tennessee there are no clinics that perform abortions for women who are beyond the 16th week of pregnancy. This is the case in many states, and often low-income women are faced with “chasing the abortion”—doing everything they can to get money together for the procedure, but as the pregnancy continues the costs also continue to rise, and they just can’t come up with enough money before the pregnancy is in the second trimester. Then women in that situation are faced with the difficulty of traveling to another state in order to get a later-term abortion. (See the Revolution/revcom.us interview with Dr. Susan Robinson, one of the four heroic abortion providers in the U.S. who openly provide much-needed third trimester abortions: “Chasing the Abortion.”) It’s also very possible to not know you’re pregnant until late in the pregnancy, especially if you have irregular periods, and you might not have the time to gather your resources to get the abortion in time.
While I’m focusing on Tennessee here, these kind of roadblocks thrown in the face of women who need an abortion exist—and are increasing—in states across the U.S. and are forcing women to either take the desperate and dangerous course of self-inducing an abortion, or into motherhood against their will. This is happening now, in the U.S., in 2015/2016—and it is tied to how increasingly inaccessible and under assault abortion care, birth control, and scientific sex education have become.
Another very fascistic element in all this is how Anna Yocca has been criminalized—and her case is not the only case where women have faced criminal charges for pregnancy-related issues. In some states, if you are pregnant and have a substance abuse problem, attempt suicide, or are suspected of having self-induced an abortion, you can be sent to prison! (See, for instance, “The Outrageous Imprisonment of Purvi Patel and the Wake-Up Call to Everyone: The Fascist War on Women MUST BE STOPPED!”) The unscientific idea that a fetus is a “human being” whose rights trump the rights of the pregnant woman is one that 38 states, including Tennessee, uphold through “fetal homicide” laws. Tennessee is one of the 27 states that take this idea even further by defining a fetus’ “rights” as beginning at the moment of conception. However, it’s not actually clear whether the fetal homicide laws will be tested with Anna Yocca’s case, because the state of Tennessee is prosecuting her under general homicide laws—and this could mean that the prosecution thinks their case will be strengthened by the underhanded assertion that the 24-week fetus was already a “human being.”
This is outrageous! And it must be said clearly that fetuses at any stage of a pregnancy are NOT babies, abortion is NOT murder, and women are NOT incubators. Women are FULL HUMAN BEINGS!
"Sometimes I wish I were a dog, because in Europe, dogs have a better life than foreigners like us."
Reposted December 27, 2015 (originally June 19, 2014) | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors’ note: In light of the ferocious persecution of immigrants and refugees seeking safety in Europe, and the general demonization of and brutal attacks on refugees around the world, we are reprinting the following article from 2014. It features the story told by an Afghan migrant who calls himself Jawad. His story brings to life one man’s experience fleeing a country turned into a living hell in the clash between Islamic fundamentalists and western capitalism-imperialism—a dynamic in which the driving factor is the U.S. invasion and ongoing occupation of Afghanistan. Jawad describes a journey in 2012; conditions for migrants have gotten much, much worse since.
June 9, 2014. A World to Win News Service. On the eve of the elections for the European Parliament in May, the French government sent the CRS riot police and bulldozers to tear down an improvised complex of immigrant camps outside the northern city of Calais and scattered its inhabitants. Many hundreds of people, mostly refugees from countries racked by wars spurred on by the U.S. and Europe, had gathered to help each other stay alive as they waited for the chance to hop on a lorry and make it across the English channel in search of work.
Migrants attempting to cross the border from Greece into neighboring Macedonia, August 21. Police at the border fired tear gas and stun grenades to drive them back into Greece. AP photo
The government's official pretext for the attack was that the immigrants posed a public health hazard. Some allegedly suffered from scabies, a skin disease easily prevented by clean water and sanitation facilities—which the government itself had deprived them of when it razed the Red Cross refugee center there several years ago.
The police brutalized local people and others who came to the migrants' aid. A few days later, after the plurality won by the anti-immigrant National Front party in the French EU parliament elections, "We are all children of immigrants" was the main slogan of street protests by secondary school students in half a dozen French cities. Later several hundred people traveled to Calais in a show of support for the refugees.
A previous gathering place for migrants was Villemin Square in Paris, where Afghan migrants took shelter in 2009, before they were scattered by police, and some of them, with no other place to go, moved on to Calais. The French photographer Mathieu Pernot spent time with them then.
His photos show young men wrapped up in sleeping bags or sheets of plastic, their heads covered to shield their eyes from the early morning light: "Invisible, silent and anonymous, reduced to their simple forms, they sleep and hide themselves from the public gaze, withdrawing from a world which no longer wants to see them. Both present and absent, they remind us of the bodies found on the battlefields of a war we no longer see."
Pernot's work is marked by a determination to connect with his subjects over time so as to create an interplay between how they look, his artistic depiction of their exclusion and oppression, and their own interiority and outlook. In 2012, an Afghan migrant called Jawad filled up some notebooks Pernot had given him with this account of how he ended up in Paris. In today's world few countries have produced more refugees and migrants than Afghanistan, from the days of the Soviet [social-imperialist] occupation to the hell its people now endure in the wake of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation.
Syrian refugees waiting to cross the border into Turkey, June 15, 2015.
My name is Jawad. I'm from Afghanistan and I'm 26 years old. I was born in 1986 in a working class district of Kabul. In 1989, my father, Moudjahidin, received threats from the Afghan government and we had to leave Kabul for Iran. I couldn't go to school, as my parents didn't have residence permits. They used someone else's identity papers to get me into evening classes with some older people. Thanks to that, I know how to read and write. Once I'd finished these classes, I wanted to enrol in an Islamic university, but once again I wasn't allowed to because of my Afghan nationality, even though it's possible for people from anywhere else in the world to enrol. The Iranian government is very unfair; it doesn't want Afghan refugees in the country and so we didn't receive any help from anyone. I'd been living in Iran for seventeen years when I was arrested by the police and sent back to Afghanistan. It was then that I took the decision to leave for Europe. I and some other Afghans asked a people smuggler to get us into Turkey.
Once he had got us across the Iranian border, the smuggler picked us up in a car in the town of Van. For twenty-four hours we traveled like sheep with some Pakistani migrants in a vehicle, with nothing to eat or drink. We arrived totally exhausted in Istanbul where we stayed for three days. The smuggler took us to Izmir on a bus and left us in a house. One evening, he took us to a forest that it took three hours to cross before finally arriving in the dead of night at the coast. He left, alone, in a motorboat and just left us there. We spent the night there. The next day, he brought us some bread and water and a dinghy, which he inflated and hid in the thicket. A little while later, some police came by and discovered our boat. We got frightened and went to hide in the mountains. We didn't have any food or water left. We were hungry and thirsty. We didn't know what was going on and called the smuggler. During the night, we came down from the mountain and headed back to the coast. With no food or water, we were losing all hope. I dreamt of eating bread. We didn't know what to do and prayed to God to help us. Suddenly, the smuggler arrived with some bottles of water! He became our guardian angel! He decided to take us back into town but got us lost in the forest. We wandered about in the countryside for several hours. A dozen of my friends decided to set off on their own in another direction. They asked if I wanted to go with them but I preferred to stay in the smuggler's group. There were just twenty of us left in the group now, rather than the thirty we had started out with. We walked and eventually found a barn that we spent the night in.
The next day we set off again and went past a village, crawling on our hands and knees for fear of being seen by the inhabitants. We came to a tunnel that runs under the motorway and spent a whole day there. That evening, someone else picked us up in a car and dropped us off in a town we didn't know. When we got out of the car, a man came over to speak to us but we didn't know what he was saying. He started shouting, 'Police! Police!' Everyone quickly scattered, running off in all directions. Eventually, we found our smuggler who took us down to a beach. He inflated the dinghy and made us all get inside. He pointed to a light on the other side of the sea and told us it was Greece. Our little boat sailed across a very big sea.
As we approached the Greek shore, we watched the sun rise over the sea. I had the thought that we were leaving darkness and misfortune behind us and heading into the light and a better world. But a little while later the Greek police spotted us and approached us in their boat. The man who was steering our boat decided to puncture it so that we'd be classed as drowning and the Greeks wouldn't be able to send us back to Turkey. We jumped into the water and swam to the shore. There was a pregnant woman in the boat and she didn't know how to swim, so she clung on to the side of the rapidly deflating dinghy and waited for the police to come and get her. When we got to the bank we climbed up it, hoping to find a town. At the top, we found a road that led to Samos. From there we hoped to reach Athens but unfortunately the police arrested us and took us to a refugee camp that was just like a prison.
It was in this camp that I met an Afghan who asked me if I wanted to go to Norway with him because he'd heard that it was a country that welcomed people in our situation. To get there, we'd have to cross Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. I got through Macedonia and arrived in Serbia. Along with my friends, I got arrested in the Serbian town of Nis. We were brought before a judge who fined us all 70 euros and sentenced us to ten days in prison. Arriving in the detention centre, we were told to get undressed in front of everyone and then had to undergo a body search, which I found really difficult to bear. I spent ten days in prison, locked up with murderers and drug mules. There was a head count three times a day. Those ten days felt like a hundred years to me.
When we got out of prison, we weren't given any documents that would allow us to circulate freely in Serbia. The police in Nis simply told us that if we were arrested again in Serbia, we should just tell the other police to get in touch with them. The next morning, we took the train to Subotica, on the Hungarian border, and were arrested again that evening and taken to court the following morning. We told the judge that we had been in prison in Nis but it didn't help. The magistrate said that either we paid up or we'd go back to jail. The prison in Subotica was worse than the one in Nis. We were only allowed out of our cells for an hour a day to walk around the yard. We were only permitted to get washed once a week and could only spend two minutes in the bathroom.
After we got out of prison, we managed to get across the border into Hungary but just after we arrived there, we were arrested again and taken to a refugee camp in Bekescsaba. In the camp, we had to queue just to get a banana, apple or pear. You had to sign two or three documents just to be able to eat a piece of fruit. We were under constant observation by CCTV cameras and brutal guards, who would beat anyone who tried to escape. We didn't have the right to answer them back or to ask any questions. We couldn't understand whether we were refugees or prisoners. Despite the presence of the guards, I managed to go under the barbed-wire fences and escape from the camp.
I went from there to Budapest and then to Vienna, where I took the train to Hamburg without buying a ticket. I hid in a storage cupboard under one of the bunks in the sleeping carriage. In the middle of the night, the old woman who was sleeping in the bunk above me realised I was there and called the ticket inspector so he could call the police. I begged him not to do it! In the end, I got to Hamburg without being arrested. I was alone and I walked. I looked for a train that would take me to Denmark. Once again, I got stopped by the police. I could have escaped, but I was so hungry and tired that I gave myself up to them. They took me to a police station and presented me with a document written in Dari that said I was a criminal. I asked them why they considered me a criminal when I hadn't done anything wrong. They told me that entering Germany without the right papers is a crime. As I didn't have any choice, I signed the document. My situation was getting worse and worse every day. In Hungary, I had to sign a paper to eat an apple and in Germany I signed a paper to acknowledge that I was a criminal. After the administrative formalities were over, the police sent me to a really tough prison. I felt very sad and prayed to God to give me my freedom back. He must have listened to me because the next day I got out of prison. They gave me the address of a refugee camp where I could apply for asylum.
In this camp, there was a lovely building that I stayed in for a few days. Having spent several weeks not eating very well, at last I had some decent food. It was really nice for me. But when I got to thinking about how the German police might arrest me and deport me back to Hungary, I told myself that maybe the food had been poisoned! After two or three days, the governor of the camp gave me a document with a train ticket to go to another camp in Neumunster. I stayed in that camp, which was comfortable, for nearly three months. There was a gym that I trained in. I enjoyed going for a run in the city streets. Very early one morning, a policeman knocked on our bedroom door and asked to see our papers. I showed him my papers and he told me I had to go back to Hungary. He told me to pack my bags and I told him I had none. He checked in my wardrobe, saw I didn't have anything and then told me to follow him. He took me to an immigration removal centre at the airport and I waited there until 10 am. They made me get on a plane to Budapest. During the two-hour flight, I told myself that I'd lost all my friends and my whole life in Germany.
In the plane, I made the decision to go to France as soon as I was able. A friend in the camp I'd just left had told me it was a welcoming country. The plane landed in Budapest at 12 pm and I waited at the airport till 1am. It was still night and I had to get into a bus full of unfortunate people who, like me, had fled Hungary and now found themselves back there. At 8 am the bus took us to the Bekescsaba camp. I spent a night there and tried to escape again the following morning. But I cut my hand on the barbed wire and it bled a lot. As I was injured, I let the guards take me without kicking up any fuss. They took me straight back to the camp without treating my hand. When I went to see the governor to show him the cut, he decided finally to send me to the hospital. I spent about a dozen days in the camp. The authorities gave me a card that would allow me to get into the camp in Debrecen. It's for people who are seeking asylum. I stayed there for twenty-five days. Life there was really hard. Our rights weren't respected. It was more like a prison, with the only difference being that you could go out. Sometimes, the police would come with six or seven dogs to search the rooms for banned objects. When we asked them why they came with dogs, they said they weren't dogs, but work colleagues! I didn't like living in Hungary so my friends and I took the decision to leave for France.
We decided to go in a taxi. First we went to Austria, then to Italy where we got out at Milan. From there we took the train to Ventimiglia and crossed the Italian-French border on foot. We had to go through a narrow train tunnel. If a train had come while we were in that tunnel, I wouldn't be writing this story.
When we arrived in France we discovered Monaco, a very pretty, old town. There were lots of beautiful orange trees in the streets, but we were more interested in eating the oranges than in looking at them. We ate some and put some in our bags. As we went on our way, we met an Arab. We asked him how to get to Paris. He told us to get on the number 100 bus for Nice and to get a train from there to the capital. But in Nice, when we asked how to get a train for Paris, no one understood. We were amazed to learn that people in Nice didn't know Paris, a city that's so well known across the world! We finally came upon someone who understood us. He also took the opportunity to tell us how to pronounce Paris... It was evening, we were still in Nice, and it was really cold and raining. Our clothes were soaked. We were hungry and didn't have enough money to get to Paris. We decided to go and take shelter in a church but the priest wouldn't let us in. We begged him but he asked us to leave. It was as though God's door had been closed on us. We left for the station thinking that "God's enemy," the police, might arrest us, which would at least give us a roof for the night. We got arrested at the station. The policeman asked us for the papers we didn't have. I had the thought at that moment that we were stateless refugees. The police handcuffed us, hands behind our backs, made us get in a police car and put on the blues and twos.
In town, the passers-by must have thought that the police had arrested some dangerous people, but we're just refugees! They took us to the police station, locked us in a cell and handcuffed one of our hands to a bar fixed quite high up on the wall. When we asked them to take the handcuffs off because they were hurting (and anyway, we couldn't escape), they just laughed at us. Then they took us to another cell where we spent the night. There was absolutely nothing in it and we were soaking wet. We asked for a blanket. The policeman just mocked us by way of an answer. We slept on the cell floor in our wet clothes. As I drifted off to sleep, I thought about my Afghan friend who had told me that France was a very welcoming country.
The next day, the policeman came back with an interpreter who spoke Dari. They asked us several times whether we wanted to stay in France or go to England and I told them each time that I wanted to stay in France. He gave us a piece of paper and let us out of the police station. We went back to the station where we met a fellow Afghan who was having some problems. He explained that he had bought a train ticket but a policeman had confiscated it and taken him to prison the night before. By the next day, his ticket had expired. As we didn't have enough money to buy a ticket, we tried to jump on the train but the ticket inspector stopped us. So we spent another night sleeping rough in Nice. The next day, we got on a train but got caught by the ticket inspector, who I begged to allow us to go to Paris. I offered to give him my jacket, my shoes and my turquoise ring, which was a present from my father. I even offered to work in the train (cleaning the toilets, for example), but he refused and we had to get off the train at Cannes. At the station in Cannes, we managed to take a bus we thought was going to Paris, but we'd made a mistake and we found ourselves instead on a bus for tourists. We arrived in a really beautiful city but didn't know where it was. We explained to the driver that we wanted to get to Paris. He was really surprised and explained that we had to go back to Saint-Raphael, where we could catch a train for Paris. At Saint-Raphael, we tried to sneak on the train without a ticket but the inspectors were watching us. We were really unlucky that day! It was still raining. We looked for a place and slept on a cafe terrace. The next day, we went back to the station and, thanks be to God, managed to get the train to Paris. In this city we asked for asylum and we slept rough on cardboard boxes. Our situation is very bad. Sometimes I wish I were a dog because in Europe, dogs have a better life than foreigners like us.
Translated text taken from the book Les Migrants, published by Guingamp, edited by GwinZegal, 2012. For Pernot's work, see www.mathieupernot.com. Also see "Should immigrants be criminalized or supported?" in AWTWNS140310.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
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.
Job Requirement for President of the United States: Being Ready To “Kill Thousands of Innocent Children”
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.
When a Woman Attempts a Coat-Hanger Abortion, It Is the Patriarchal SYSTEM That Is Guilty of Attempted Murder—Against Her!
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."
Speech by Andy Zee at Grand Opening of Revolution Books...
Revolution Books and the Emancipation of Humanity
November 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books, at the store's November 15 grand opening celebration in Harlem
The following is the text of the talk given by Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books, at the store's November 15 grand opening celebration in Harlem.
It is with great joy, and with a serious sense of responsibility that comes from understanding what Revolution Books can mean for a radically different and better future for the people of the world, that I have the great honor of opening the first program at the new Revolution Books in Harlem, New York.
So now, I say to all of you have joined us for this Grand Opening Celebration, and I say to the world: It's on! We're here. We're ready, to make real just what we say we are: a center of a movement for an actual revolution, a bookstore with the novels, poetry, history, science, philosophy, and more, a place about the world and for a radically new world...a place where people have the opportunity to discover, experience, and engage all of this...and do so in the context of not just how the world has been historically or how it is today, or even in an imagined future, but looking at all this with our sights set on what really could be, because the reality of the world today holds the potential for something far better, and to unlock that at the foundation of Revolution Books is the most advanced scientific revolutionary theory for a revolution for the full emancipation of humanity: the new synthesis of communism brought forward by the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian.
My name is Andy Zee, I am the spokesperson for Revolution Books, Welcome. My appreciation to all of you for joining us today for this celebration. I want to invite you to join me in recognizing the dedication and work by the staff of Revolution Books over the past five months. I also want to appreciate the incredible warmth of the people from this neighborhood who pitched in and worked so hard on the renovation; who came by and donated what they could to make this possible. Let's give a big shout out to the people who are listening outside because the program was sold out. And I want to say to you, I look forward to meeting you here next weekend at the open house.
And, please join me in also recognizing the welcoming spirit and encouragement of people from all walks of life—from the Harlem arts community to the people from the projects—as well as those from across the city, everyone who contributed funds, opened up doors and who came in to work, paint, and move and shelve the books. And I want to shout out to the students and grad students from Columbia University, CCNY and other schools, to everyone who has pitched in and pulled together to make this possible.
The joy of today's celebration is made so much sweeter by the students from the University of Missouri, including the Mizzou Tiger Football team, who beat Brigham Young University yesterday, which only matters because the Mizzou players put the interests of the people before their athletic careers, inspiring students across the country from Yale to California to stand up against the white-supremacist structures of the universities—students who themselves were propelled into political life by the righteous rising of the youth of Ferguson. Let's recognize too, the 100 families whose loved ones were murdered by police who came to NYC on October 24th for Rise Up October, who stood up in the face of their unimaginable loss and said THIS MUST STOP—and were joined by thousands of people, including voices of conscience and artists like Quentin Tarantino, which unleashed a firestorm of attacks and threats on him from the police and media. To all of these fighters I say, Revolution Books is for you.
And now, join me in welcoming a long-time friend of Revolution Books, a voice of conscience and former prisoner of conscience, a story teller of incredible imagination and beauty who has given the world the gift of taking us inside the lives and experience—the sufferings, the struggles, and the dreams of his country, Kenya—an experience that resonates the world over because of the commonality of life under the domination of imperialism, the billions of lives grotesquely circumscribed, economically, politically, and culturally—making life a living hell—an agony ultimately, and indeed continually, brutally enforced militarily. It tells you a lot about Revolution Books, and lot about this man, that he has come here today to open Revolution Books. Join me in welcoming Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.
The last time Ngũgĩ spoke at Revolution Books NY we debuted his childhood memoir, Dreams in the Time of War, a memoir of a master storyteller that reads like a novel and which delivers the promise of its title, telling of a person and a people who dream of a better future in the midst of oppression and real horrors.
Today the door opens on this place of truly great possibilities. For Revolution Books is a place of dreams and yes, in a time of war...for everywhere today humanity is besieged. Revolution Books is a place that holds the dreams and the hopes for humanity for a world where no longer will the legacy of the lash of slavery or the noose of lynching be present as it is today in the bullets of the police or the cages of mass incarceration. Where no longer will women fear to walk down the street, be afraid even of her most intimate partner, or have control of her own life and body with the right to decide when and if to have a child taken from her by the state. Where gender will no longer be cause for stigmatization. Where no longer will people across the world fear the buzzing that signals death by the remote-control missiles of terror launched from suburbs of Maryland. Where no longer will tens of millions be driven as refugees from their homes to endure horrific detention camps and face demonization, deportation and worse. Where no longer will the creative potential and spirit of billions of people be crushed by the murderous grinding of imperialism. Where no longer will the planet itself be despoiled.
At Revolution Books the dream of a world that has overcome all forms of exploitation and oppression lives. What is extraordinary at RB is that here people can find the way to make these dreams a reality.
People's lives and dreams, our struggles large and small, are told in the pages of the books at RB. The engagement, dialogues, debate with authors, artists, scientists, front-line fighters, thinkers from the university and around the way; reveal a fertile vein—a deep mine—that reflects and concentrates the rich and complex history and present brutal reality as well as the aspirations and soaring artistic achievements of humanity. It is true that you will find the world at Revolution Books.
But the problems of the world today appear on the surface to be intractable. People are compelled into choices of competing horrors and futures that are no future. Witness the contention between two horrendous forces—the reactionary fundamentalisms rearing their backward path around the world and, on the other hand, the brutal forcible imposition of imperialist modernity... We are seeing this played out in blood in France with the outrageous attacks on innocent people, actions that have nothing to do with liberating anyone, anywhere. And what drives this fury are the imperialist bombs and troops and special ops unleashed from imperialist metropoles with the U.S. at the head of the pack, enforcing the daily robbery and deprivation that is the norm of this system. Humanity needs another way.
Look at the choices and the future of a Black or Latino youth growing up in projects like those two blocks from Revolution Books, whose life trajectory is mapped out by the system before they are even born—where one in three will end up in prison if not shot by the police.
Consider what it means that the first communist-led revolutions of the 20th century were defeated, first in the Soviet Union in 1956 and then in revolutionary China after the death of Mao in 1976. These revolutions began and achieved much in the struggle for people to get free from the thousands of years of oppressive class divided societies. Today, because for 40 years there hasn't been any country that is a beacon of real liberation, political sights around the world seek backward answers or at best are politically low—working on band-aids at the margins of what is today.
This is a time crying out for radical transformation. For a way to breakthrough. For revolution. At Revolution Books, people have the opportunity to discover the work and leadership of Bob Avakian, who today is playing a role analogous to that of Marx in the mid-19th century, piercing the methodological and theoretical fog and limitations of the past; developing a strategy for an actual revolution with a vision and concrete framework for a radically new society and state that is going to work on uprooting all exploitation and overcoming all forms of the oppression of different peoples and nationalities, and genders, and the great division between those privileged to work with their minds and those locked out of the full life of the mind and ideas—forced to toil, from dawn to dusk in manual work. This is a new society where people will be struggling with each other to overcome all the superstition and thinking that reinforces outmoded class and social relations. This too must be a revolution where the whole world comes first.
Most of all, Bob Avakian has brought forward a further development and synthesis of communism as a scientific method and approach—more firmly rooted in understanding reality and working on the objective world as it actually is...discovering the patterns and pathways that are nascent in the acute contradictions that oppress people today and how they are developing and which hold the potential for revolution.
In a world crying out for fundamental change, and many decades after the previous great socialist revolutions were defeated, this is a game changer. At Revolution Books people have the opportunity to experience, engage, and be a part of a movement for an actual revolution that is guided by this scientific method and approach, and the concrete strategy and vision for a new society.
At Revolution Books ideas connect with people. Thinking is explored and challenged. Community is forged by through the process of engaging the big and the hardest questions. There is space here to read and think by yourself, to sip a coffee or a tea. Here people can find a path to begin a process to a life of profound meaning and import, not just for yourself alone, but to be a part of freeing the people of the world. At RB, as I said, if you want to act on what you are coming to understand, you can connect with the movement for revolution and the party which is its leading core. Lives are changed at Revolution Books. Let today's celebration of the opening of Revolution Books be your invitation.
Last week, there was a young man from the neighborhood and two freshman women from Columbia University working in the store and they got to talking with each other about the police brutalizing and murdering people in epidemic proportions. A staff person brought up a quote from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian where he raises in response to the murder of Tyisha Miller, a woman in Riverside, California who had passed out in her car from a seizure, that in a new society the people's police would sooner give their life than wantonly murder someone like this. Then the discussion was on: is it good cops and bad cops, or is it something deeper and systemic? When they were getting ready to leave, the young man said: "I have never been so challenged in my life while moving heavy boxes to a basement. You know, I think about these things all the time. I know I sound like I'm defending the police, but the truth is I'm more of a target than me being able to change them." The two young women said: "We are so lucky we ran into Revolution Books. We have been looking everywhere on the campus—campus groups—for something radical and we were so disappointed to find nothing! But now we are here where it's really about change and the whole world!" This is what happens at RB: People connect with each other who would otherwise pass in the night. People with different life experiences that normally pull them in different directions find themselves together digging into the biggest questions from the broadest perspective of: Does it have to be this way? Could humanity live differently? Is reform or revolution the solution?
A few days ago I spoke with a graduate student in journalism from South Africa. We only had time to begin a conversation to take apart what it really means for the people of her country that as incredibly historic and important as it was to end institutionalized apartheid in South Africa, without a change in the economic and the political system of capitalism-imperialism, which was then justified and in reality covered over by Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, what this has meant for the masses of South Africans, especially the basic youth, is a life of continued horror, but now without hope. Humanity needs a way out. RB is the place to take the journey to find it.
I have said before that RB encompasses nothing less than the present and the future, and, in a living sense, what we learn from the past. How people understand reality shapes what they do, how they fight back—with what objectives, how they determine friends of the people from enemies, how differences among the people should be taken up now, and in the future, how to fight and how to win—not just the immediate struggle, whether in the streets, the schools, or in the realm of ideology and culture, but how to win in the largest sense, bringing about a whole new society.
As you are figuring out what you think about the new synthesis of communism, your agreements and disagreements, recognize what it means that there is a place where there are the books and the engagement over the biggest questions of what is at the root of the problems humanity faces and the possibility of a radically new world. Without Revolution Books, without this place with its scientific spirit of discovery, the critical thinking, the poetic spirit, and the engagement with revolutionary theory and a broad spectrum of intellectual, cultural, and scientific work, without a place that can connect people to the movement for revolution and its leadership, no matter how heroically people fight, no matter how passionately people expose and denounce the current state of the world, it will stay as it is.
Today we inaugurate the new Revolution Books. It is great to be in Harlem with its rich cultural legacy of Black America...Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, Ellington and Billie Holiday, the creativity on the court of Rucker and the passion and insight of Malcolm X. Harlem has been and remains today a concentration of the foundational oppression of Black people: housing projects run like prisons, militarized police raids stealing the lives in the projects half a mile from here, setting up, framing, and sending the youth to prison. And all this runs smack up against the energy, creativity, and cultural vibrancy of the people and place of Harlem. In recent decades, there is a new diversity of people in Harlem—new immigrants from Central America and Africa, as well as middle-class white people, including students. There's a new energy in the air.
All of this will infuse the new RB. RB is now on the scene—bringing revolution, straight up and all the way—the potential of a radically new world—not just for Harlem but to emancipate people the world over.
There Must Be a Defiant, Mass Outpouring for Abortion Rights This Roe v. Wade Anniversary, January 22, 2016
by Sunsara Taylor | November 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors’ Note: In this article, Sunsara Taylor gets into the context of the abortion rights protests being called for January 22-23, 2016 and the crucial importance of those actions. January 22 marks the anniversary of the 1974 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide—for the first time, women could decide for themselves whether and when they wanted to give birth to children. Before Roe v. Wade, thousands of women in the U.S. were seriously injured or died each year from unsafe illegal abortions. Countless others were forced to bear children they did not want. This decision did not come from the Supreme Court suddenly becoming “enlightened.” Only in the face of the self-sacrificing fight of women and others and overall social upheaval of the 1960s and early 1970s—as well as the larger changes in the family and social role of women driven by the shifting economic position and dynamics of the U.S. in the world—did the Supreme Court grant the right to abortion. Even then, they did not guarantee women’s right to abortion but only to a certain scope of “privacy” in this sphere. And since Roe v. Wade, there has been an enormous and mounting assault on the right to abortion, spearheaded by Christian fascists and including court decisions and state laws placing increasing restrictions on abortion.
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
Spirited counter-protest against the 2015 "Walk for Life" in San Francisco, an annual woman-hating parade organized by a network of Catholic churches aimed at criminalizing abortion and imposing forced motherhood on women. Photo: Revolution/revcom.us
Abortion clinics across this country are being boarded up. Twenty-two clinics have been shut down in Texas since 2013. In the same time, five clinics in Ohio have been shut down. In Montana, a clinic that was severely vandalized in 2014 has never re-opened. Just weeks ago in Claremont, New Hampshire, a Planned Parenthood facility that didn’t even do abortions was broken into and its computers, plumbing system, and medical equipment were destroyed with a hatchet. It is estimated that abortion clinics are being forced to close in this country at the rate of one every week and a half.
At the clinics that remain, an army of religious fundamentalists make it their mission to harass, shame, and threaten women every single day. “Murderer!” “Slut!” These words are hurled at girls as young as 11 and 12 years old. Then these women and girls are forced to endure a barrage of humiliating further restrictions—forced to make multiple trips because fascist lawmakers think the women and girls can’t be trusted with their initial decision, forced to get permission from parents or a judge as if their bodies don’t belong to themselves, forced to undergo a sonogram—sometimes vaginally—intended to provoke feelings of guilt and attachment to the fetus they do not want. Already, abortion is out of reach for huge swaths of poor, young, and rural women. Growing numbers of women are being forced to risk their lives—and sometimes end up in prison—by attempting to self-induce abortions. Others are being forced to have children against their will, with all the negative lifelong consequences of that.
Even Greater Dangers Looming
As bad as all this is, the situation threatens to get drastically worse very soon. Major cases loom before the Supreme Court that will determine how many of the drastic restrictions on abortion passed in recent years will stand—and how much further they might be allowed to go. These rulings by the Supreme Court—or just as starkly, the failure to consider and reject some of the laws currently on the books—could bring about the most sweeping and permanent changes in abortion laws in decades. They could take the most extreme closures and restrictions in the country in recent years—like those which threaten to close all but 10 out of more than 40 abortion clinics recently operating in Texas—and make them the standard across the entire country.
At the same time, there has been an orchestrated attack, directed by Christian fascists in positions of power, against Planned Parenthood--the largest abortion provider in the country. There have been moves to defund Planned Parenthood in the Congress and in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Texas and Utah. In Texas, police showed up at Planned Parenthood sites throughout the state and seized the medical records of women who’d had abortions, a gross violation of women’s privacy and a threat against any woman who’d consider abortion in the future. And through all this, threats and physical violence against abortion providers and clinics have escalated. Five Planned Parenthoods have been physically attacked—including with firebombs, arson, and hatchets—since the summer.
Break ALL the Chains!
Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution
Due to the shame and silence that hangs heavy over abortion, the illusion is widespread that these restrictions and shrinking access to abortion will only affect a few women. This is not true. One in three women will get an abortion by the time she is 45 years old. One in three. This number cuts across religious and political beliefs. No matter how silently and shamefully this secret is kept, all of us are surrounded every day by women who have had abortions. This assault on abortion access and this terror against women’s clinics is aimed at and affects all women.
The consequences of not being able to access abortion and birth control are enormous. The ability for women to engage in sexual activity without shame and without fear that their entire lives will be jeopardized disappears without access to abortion and birth control. And, when women are forced to have children against their will, their lives are foreclosed. Often, they are forced to drop out of school, driven into poverty, kicked out of their homes, or trapped in abusive homes. Whether or not any individual woman suffers this outcome, the threat of this outcome and hatred for women bound up with this stalks and affects every woman and girl.
Abortion Is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of
Supreme Court Cases Looming
A monumental case looms before the Supreme Court. Whether, and how, the Supreme Court takes up this case could have the most sweeping impact on abortion access in over a decade.
In 2013, Texas passed HB2, one of the most drastically restrictive abortion laws in the country. It mandated that all abortion clinics conform to the same standards as a mini-emergency room, even though abortion is an incredibly safe outpatient procedure that does not need that kind of setting. These dramatic physical modifications are too expensive for most clinics to meet, forcing many to close. HB2 also requires all doctors who do abortions to have standing “admitting privileges” at a local hospital. This, too, is completely medically unnecessary—both because abortion is incredibly safe (10 times safer than childbirth) and because hospitals are already required to admit emergency patients. At the same time, this requirement is impossible for most abortion doctors to meet, forcing even more clinics to close.
Abortion providers in Texas have been fighting this law in the courts since 2013. Most recently, the Fifth Circuit Federal Court approved this law, forcing the closure of all but 10 of the more than 40 clinics that operated when HB2 was first passed. Shortly after, the Supreme Court intervened and put a stay on this ruling—blocking it from being implemented (keeping about 10 of these clinics operating for the time being) until it decides whether it will entertain the appeal filed by abortion providers. If the Supreme Court decides to hear this appeal and ends up upholding the law, it will force the permanent closure of all but 10 remaining abortion clinics in the enormous state of Texas. Women in large parts of the state will have to travel hundreds of miles to access abortion. Even more ominously, this ruling will also drastically expand the kinds of restrictions to abortion that will be allowed in every state. If the Supreme Court refuses to hear this case, the stay will automatically be vacated and the effects will be the same—all but 10 abortion clinics in Texas will close and drastic restrictions will be green-lighted all across the country.
This threatens to result in the most sweeping—and truly devastating—restriction in abortion laws nationwide in decades, impacting the lives of millions of women for generations to come.
There should be absolutely no shame involved in getting an abortion. Fetuses are not babies. Abortion is not murder. Women are not incubators. If a woman decides for whatever reason that she does not want to carry a pregnancy to term, she must be allowed to terminate that pregnancy safely and without stigma. When a woman is pregnant and does not want to have a child, abortion is a perfectly moral and highly responsible choice. Without the right to decide for themselves when and whether to have children, without unencumbered access to birth control and abortion, women can never be free to participate fully and equally in every realm of society. This is precisely why abortion rights are so important and this is precisely why they are so viciously under attack by Christian fascists and patriarchs. What is truly shameful and immoral is depriving women of the right to abortion and forcing women to bear children against their will. No matter how it is dressed up, this is nothing but woman-hating.
The Need for Mass, Independent, Political Resistance
The truth is this: This fascist assault on abortion has not been and will not be stopped by “pro-choice” politicians who go out of their way to express their “respect” for the woman-haters pushing these laws, who contribute to the shame and defensiveness around abortion by claiming it should be “rare,” and who have conciliated time and again with this whole fascist juggernaut, allowing us to get to where we are today with even greater dangers ahead.
This direction has not and will not be stopped by relying on the courts. It is important and true that, for now, abortion is legal and the recent spate of restrictions DOES violate women’s constitutional rights. But, relying on the courts is not how abortion or birth control rights were won in the first place, and relying on the courts since then has been a big part of how pro-choice people have been de-mobilized and made passive as these very courts have increasingly codified and “legitimated” greater and greater restrictions. In reality, what the courts do has always been highly political and influenced by the broader culture and demands in society.
Stopping this assault, reversing this whole direction and lifting the mountains of shame and stigma off women, requires massive, uncompromising, independent political resistance.
People must go into the streets and confront and expose the woman-hating nature of this assault. People must not only say the word abortion openly, but shout it out with pride and with anger at those who would take it away. Students and others must be woken up to the emergency afoot, shaken out of their complacency and mobilized to fight. Older people who remember the gruesome and terrifying days before abortion was legal must break the silence and tell the stories of friends, mothers, sisters who died or went through harrowing experiences for lack of legal access to abortion. People who oppose abortion must be directly challenged and argued with, not just one by one but in open-air debates and in a way that draws many more into thinking anew about this question. Celebrities and public figures must speak up and join those fighting back. People throughout every corner of society must be confronted with the reality and mobilized to fight. No one should be allowed to sit on the sidelines as women’s lives and futures and rights are foreclosed.
And all this must build for and come together in powerful expressions of mass resistance to this war on women this January 22 in Washington, DC, and January 23 in San Francisco. Right up in the face of the annual marches for “life” that oppose women’s right to abortion and birth control, right on the anniversary of when abortion was made legal, masses of people must pour into the streets, declare their support for Abortion On Demand and Without Apology and join the fight for the future of women.
Wherever you are, mobilize to be in DC or SF for these demonstrations. Mobilize your friends, family, coworkers, faith community, or club to be in the streets on these days. Be part of defeating the war on women!
Friday, January 22, 2016, 12 noon
Supreme Court of the United States
1 1st St. NE, Washington, District of Columbia 20543
Saturday, January 23, 2016, 12 noon
Powell and Market
San Francisco, California 94133
Stand Up for Abortion Rights!
Counter-Protest the March for "Life"
January 22, 2016 in Washington, DC
January 23, 2016 in San Francisco
Updated January 18, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Fetuses are NOT babies.
We received this video from StopPatriarchy.org of a college student and other young revolutionaries challenging boldly challenging their peers to confront the abortion rights emergency and take a stand for abortion rights on January 22 in DC and January 23 in San Francisco:
If you can't make it to DC or SF, other demos include:
Austin TX, January 23, 12:30: Confront the Rally for "Life". Gather at the north side of the Capitol at 12:30 and march to the 2 pm Rally for "Life" on the south steps of the building to confront the woman-haters. Contact: email@example.com
Brave protesters demanding "Abortion on demand and without apology!" STOPPED the so-called "March for Life" (march for forced motherhood), January 22, 2015, in Washington DC; 8 of them were arrested. Photo: Stop Patriarchy
Abortion is NOT murder.
Women are NOT incubators.
Stand up for abortion on demand and without apology this January on both coasts.
Abortion rights are in a state of emergency! Clinics across the country have been forced to close through unjust laws and anti-abortion violence. Women and staff are shamed, harassed, and threatened. Christian fascist politicians are fighting to shut down Planned Parenthood. Thousands of women are once again risking their lives and prison to self-induce their own abortions. Eleven people have been murdered by anti-abortion terrorists. And a looming major Supreme Court case will affect abortion rights for decades to come.
The time is NOW to stand up for abortion on demand and without apology!
Each year, tens of thousands of fanatics march against women's right to abortion and birth control on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Be part of standing up in counter-protest, letting the world and the powers that be feel our demand that abortion be available to every woman without shame, restriction, or stigma.
Forcing a woman to have a child against her will is a form of enslavement. It traps women in abusive relationships, drives them into poverty, forces them to give up their dreams and forecloses their lives. Denying abortion rights is a keystone of the entire web of degradation, violence, rape, discrimination and oppression that women face throughout society.
This must be stopped! Women are not bitches, hoes, punching bags, sex objects, breeders or property of men. Women are full human beings!
Get organized. Be in DC and/or San Francisco for these counter-protests. Mobilize your school, religious congregation, community group, family and friends. Spread the word far and wide. Donate and raise funds. Do not let the future belong to the woman-haters. Be part of defeating the war on women.
Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!
Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement!
Carol Downer, co-founder of Feminist Women's Health Center, Los Angeles
Merle Hoffman, CEO, Choices Women's Medical Center Cindy Sheehan, Peace Activist and Author
Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper
Deep Green Resistance
Joy of Resistance Multicultural Feminist Radio – WBAI Occupied Wall Street Special Projects Affinity Group
Women's Liberation Front (WoLF) World Can't Wait
"People have to see that this shit actually exists"
Minneapolis Protesters Shake Up Holiday Business As Usual at Mall & Airport
December 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Minneapolis, December 23 - From the Mall of America, protesters quickly traveled by light rail to the airport where they blocked entrances at both terminals chanting "No justice, no peace! Prosecute the police!"
(Photo: Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via AP)
On December 23, defiant protests shut down sections of the Mall of America and disrupted the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Black Lives Matter activists who called the protest issued a statement that said, in part: “We protest the continued unmitigated state sanctioned violence against Black people and communities of color. We protest the continued denial of justice for Black people and Black communities. We want a complete overhaul of the justice system both locally and nationally. Just days after the non-indictment decision in Sandra Bland’s murder in Texas and two months after the fatal police shooting of Jamar Clark in Minnesota, we continue to demand justice, including the release of the tapes in the Jamar Clark case. Grand juries do not get justice for Black people when they are murdered by police, this is just one way the system is setup and works against Black people.”
The protest continued a wave of resistance in Minneapolis that began on November 15, when police murdered 24-year-old Jamar Clark. There was an immediate outpouring of outrage in the Black community in the North Side of Minneapolis where the murder took place. A wide range of people joined in an encampment outside the North Side police station. At one point, white racists attacked protesters, shooting five Black men (all of whom survived). On December 4th, police launched a vicious attack at 3 AM, arresting protesters and bulldozing the encampment (see Minneapolis Cops Attack Encampment: Protests Continue to Demand Justice for Jamar Clark). Police continue to refuse to releases video of the killing.
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:24
Early Wednesday afternoon, about 500 protesters gathered at the Mall of America. Some 80 stores temporarily closed their gates, kiosks were covered and even Santa left his sleigh shortly before protesters gathered at the massive shopping district on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Numerous signs were posted on mall property, saying no protests were allowed—including a long message on a screen in a central rotunda between two Christmas trees. Police from several cities, and Minnesota State Patrol troopers blocked access to the mall’s east rotunda, where the protest was to take place. Many stores also closed their security gates—some with shoppers inside. Four people were arrested for trespassing or disorderly conduct during the mall protest, according to local police. The phalanx of riot clad police who confronted protesters were a fine example of why this place is called the Mall of AMERICA.
One of those arrested was a relative of Jamar Clark who was active in the encampment and is active in the ongoing battle for justice. At the Mall, he was targeted by the police who surrounded him, grabbed him, and called out his full name. He was thrown against a wall, handcuffed until his wrists bled, and taken to another jurisdiction where he was cavity searched, and booked in front of other cops who were applauding, and asking “Isn’t that Jamar’s cousin?” He told a local newspaper “This is something that’s got to have some type of awareness to it. People have to see that this shit actually exists.”
From the Mall, protesters quickly traveled by light rail to the airport where they blocked entrances at both terminals chanting “No justice, no peace! Prosecute the police!” And, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” Eight more people were arrested at the airport.
The actions sparked heated controversy at the mall on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, and at the airport—where parts of the terminal were temporarily shut down and flights delayed. Many shoppers and travelers felt compelled to line up one side or the other. Channel 11 news featured a European tourist complaining that the protesters didn’t think his life mattered since they disrupted his family’s vacation plans. Interestingly, a white news reporter covering the story responded “but not all travelers responded so coldly,” and his report followed with an interview with a white traveler who expressed support for the protesters: “We’re not free if people can’t enjoy a free life in our society, if people can be gunned down, or arrested and never come back just because of the color of their skin.”
Organizers said terminals at the airport were also blocked in part to “protest Islamophobia and anti-Black racism in airport policing.” This has important significance given the intensifying attacks on, and ratcheted up repression against anyone who appears to be Muslim.
After the protest, organizers announced, “We will continue to protest until we get justice for Jamar Clark, until the tapes are released and the rest of our demands are met. We will not give up and we will not give in. Until there is justice, there will be no peace. 2016 is coming, so are we.”
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.
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.
Answers to Burning Questions arising in the wake of the release of the video of the murder of Laquan McDonald and the extensive cover-up that followed.
December 7, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The police murders, brutality and torture and the cover-ups have reached a point where the scope and scale over a long period of time shows how deeply this is entrenched in Chicago. It is raising many questions about the role and nature of the police force. Even a major article in the editorially conservative Chicago Tribune on December 4, 2015 titled "Chicago's flawed system for investigating police shootings" starts out with this: "It is a system seemingly designed to fail."
There is a lot of debate over why this is the situation and what can and should be done about it. Many different class and social forces have jumped into the fray, putting forward and fighting for a different analysis of the problem and, correspondingly, the solution. It is important to walk through some of the main ones and indicate in a beginning way why they cannot begin to address stopping police murder and terror, uproot the oppression of Black people and ultimately are dead ends which will derail things.
It should not need saying after the past year, but it does—it is not that police in Chicago are more brutal, more corrupt or have a more entrenched white supremacist culture than other cities big and small across the U.S. Chicago is part of the U.S.—a concentrated part of it—and while it has its own dynamics, it plays a disproportional role, too, in shaping what goes on in the country overall. Even the stonewalling of the release of the video of Laquan's murder may well have been in consideration to what was confronting the Obama administration last fall. Remember that was a time when things were getting very heavy throughout the country for the first time in decades and where it was all going was NOT a given. The basic reality is that what is happening in Chicago is a CONCENTRATION of the oppression of Black people and the struggle against it. Chicago is not an outlier or an exception, it is rather a LYNCHPIN of this system.
Take a look at cities big and small, cities with "liberal Democratic administrations," cities with overwhelmingly Black administrations, cities with majority oppressed nationality populations, cities with "enlightened reform-minded" police chiefs, cities in the north and the south—all of them have systemic police brutality and murder. Ferguson and Baltimore, Minneapolis and Madison, New York and Los Angeles, Albuquerque and Pasco, Cleveland and Atlanta... and many other cities and towns. All these cities have been rocked by protests against police murdering people in this past year because there is a nationwide epidemic of police murder and terror that is part of a genocidal program. Let's start there.
Is the Problem the "Culture" of the Police or Does Police Culture Reflect Their Role in Capitalist Society?
There has been a lot of pointing to "police culture" as being the problem and what needs to be changed. White supremacy is part of that culture, as is the blue code of silence that protects all the pigs who brutalize people. Changing that culture: working to eliminate the "unstated racial biases," more police training, more Black police—all these are put forward as part of the solution to dealing with the institutional nature of the problem.
Bob Avakian (BA), leader of the revolution, gets to the essence of why this is the "culture" of the police and why delusional notions of changing that culture are going to go nowhere. This does not mean people should put up with this at all. What it does mean you have to understand what you are really up against if you want to stop police terror. BA says in BAsics 1:24:
The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.
Recently I was reading reports of police assaults on Black people and of Black people fighting against the police in Memphis and Miami. This called to mind a story I was told a while back. A rookie cop was riding in his police car with his veteran partner when a report came in that there was a Black man in the vicinity with a gun. As their car screeched around the corner, a young Black man suddenly appeared sprinting up an alley—into a dead end. "Shoot him!", the older cop screamed, "Go on, shoot him—it's free!"
"It's free!" Think about that for a second. "It's free!" In other words, here's a chance that gets a pig to sweating and salivating with anticipation—a chance to "kill a n*" with the already provided cover that a Black man—a Black man, any Black man—was reported in the area with a gun. This is an opportunity too good to pass up: "Go on, shoot him—it's free!"
Well, in this case, the rookie was not ready for that—perhaps he was one of those rare ones who joins a police force actually believing the "serve and protect" bullshit—and that particular Black man did not die that day. But one of the most telling things about this whole incident is the fallout from it: The rookie cop had to resign. If he wasn't ready and willing—if he didn't have the proper attitude to do what his veteran partner was calling for, what came naturally to the seasoned "peace officer," what any pig in his place and in a pig's right mind would do—then there was no place for him on the force. It was he, the rookie who hadn't learned, and couldn't learn it seems, what it's all about—it was he who was the outcast and felt he had to resign....
Pigs are pigs. Of course, that's an image, a symbol—in the most literal sense they are human beings, but they are human beings with a murderer's mentality, sanctioned, disciplined, unleashed by the ruling class of society to keep the oppressed in line, through terror whenever necessary and as the "bottom line," as they like to say. Terror against the oppressed is even a special reward for "carrying out the dangerous and thankless duty" of being the "thin blue line" between "civilization on the one side and anarchy and lawlessness on the other." Think about it once again: Terror against the oppressed is not just part of the job, it's also a reward. That is one of the deeper meanings of the story at the start: "Go on, shoot him—it's free!"...
Is It Possible to De-Fund the Police and Use Those Resources for the Betterment of the Black Community?
If you come to grips with why the masses of people in oppressed communities, especially Black and Latino are actually worse off than they were decades ago in terms of the level and depth of the poverty, the enforced segregation, massive incarceration of the population and what that has to do with the actual workings of the capitalist/imperialist system, then it should be clearer that funding police is not fundamentally a matter of "policy choices" any more than funding the military is for running an empire. It all has to do with what is necessary for the capitalist system to maintain power. It has to do with the very nature of this system, how white supremacy is embedded in its DNA and has been through slavery, then Jim Crow and now the New Jim Crow. If you come to grips with this then the demand to "defund the police" is really "pie in the sky" and an illusion. This system based on oppression and exploitation here and all around the world has to have the police and the military, the armed forces of the state to enforce that system and prevent any challenges to it. No one has done more work than Bob Avakian on these questions—what is the nature of the problem and why are Black people oppressed as a people within the U.S. and why the answer to this is revolution.
Are Independent or Federal Investigations the Answer or a Dead End?
Many people are calling for federal Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations. There are people who have been subject to police murder and terror who see that the CPD is hopelessly brutal and that there can be no impartial or fair investigations in the city. These Stolen Lives families have been retaliated against by the same police department who carried out the murder of their loved one in the first place. Many people have the illusion that the DOJ will intervene on behalf of Black and Latino people who have been subjected to police terror and especially now that there is a Black attorney general. This is not only a dead end but a deadly illusion.
Here is a clue from their own mouths: Mayor Emanuel at first rejected the idea of the Department of Justice looking into the practices of the Chicago Police Department. The Chicago Tribune ran a revealing article, which argued why Emanuel should embrace a DOJ investigation: a federal DOJ investigation would help insulate the mayor from pressure for his resignation; it would provide a club to use against the police department; and it would take a very, very long time for the investigation to be completed, and in the meantime, the problems of the CPD would be "out of the city's hands." Not surprisingly, Emanuel did an about-face and, along with top Democrats like Hillary Clinton, united with a call for a DOJ investigation.
The DOJ investigation upheld and whitewashed the pig Darren Wilson's murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Even worse, the DOJ basically instructed police all over the country in HOW they can commit murder of unarmed people and get away with it, by claiming that they felt in danger for their lives. The DOJ slandered as a "false narrative" the multiple eyewitness descriptions of Mike Brown with his hands up at the time he was executed by a pig.
There are many studies of DOJ-mandated consent decrees and other forms of federal supervision over local police departments, dating back to the Clinton administration in the 1990s. The Marshall Project has done a report, "Policing the Police" (at Marshallproject.org), which examines some of the failures of these DOJ mandated changes to even take hold in police departments.
The LAPD is held up as the model of federal oversight reforms, which might surprise all the victims of LAPD brutality and murder in the last few years. The Cleveland police department also underwent a DOJ investigation and supervision, and still 12-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered on a playground within 2 seconds of the cops arriving at the park where he was playing. The Laquan McDonald case is being heard by a federal grand jury. Since the video is so clear, why is this still dragging on?
As far as independent investigators, Wisconsin was one of the first states to require them by law for police-involved shootings. It was revealed that these "independent" investigators have law enforcement backgrounds. Why? Because no one else knows how to conduct investigations! Both of the police murderers of Tony Robinson in Madison and Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee were exonerated by "independent investigators."
Here is the reality: There is NO JUSTICE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. Ask the families of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Nicholas Heyward Jr., Trayvon Martin or Mike Brown. None have seen justice from the DOJ. Why is it you cannot name one case where the federal government has convicted a cop for killing someone? So don't deceive yourself about saviors from the Department of Justice coming to the rescue.
City Administration Mini Regime Change
There are many people who are calling for the mayor and the district attorney to resign. As with McCarthy, all these people deserve to be investigated and if involved in the cover-up, as seems to be the case, indicted and prosecuted for being part of a criminal conspiracy to cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald.
The whole system is guilty as hell. As Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party put it, "When you're up against a genocide, and that IS what we're dealing with, you don't ask the people presiding over it to make some change to smooth out the rough edges of that genocide or to slow down its intensity. You act to STOP it."
A change of faces at the top and maybe some people getting a little more clout in city hall, or a few more jobs to pass on or some other tweaking around the edges of this monstrous system is not going to deal with the oppression of the masses Black people or stop police terror or stop the other major crimes of this system like the oppression of women. We don't want that and neither should you. We are about the emancipation of all humanity and as an integral part of this, ending the centuries-long nightmare of the oppression of Black people. You should want this, too. It is the only liberating way forward.
Ask yourself, why do you think the city was so afraid to release the video of Laquan's murder in the first place? It wasn't just Chicago politics. It was Ferguson and the uproar in the country over the police murder of Mike Brown, and the authorities' openly stated worry that Chicago would erupt with a fury that surpassed Ferguson and Baltimore. In Ferguson, defiant ones from rival gangs set aside their beefing with each other and stood up, together with many others from the community—and said we aren't taking this anymore. They braved tanks, National Guard, massive arrests, tear gas, rubber bullets, police dogs and more. Their standing up won support for the justness of their cause from all sections of society—artists, students, religious people—of all nationalities, people who themselves are not directly feeling the boot of the police but do not want to live in a society where this happens to people because of the color of their skin.
Anyone who is serious or is just waking up needs to know there is a revolutionary leader out of the great worldwide revolutionary struggles of the 1960s who they need to get into. Tell people to go to the website www.revcom.us and find out more about Bob Avakian and the revolution we need. Study the strategy for making that revolution in a country like this. Get with the movement for revolution the Revolutionary Communist Party is building and Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.
If people who do hate all this madness and long for something better get together and seize this opening, big advances could actually be made toward a revolution, toward a whole better way of life, where power is directed toward mobilizing masses to end oppression, to dig it up by the roots, and not to constantly reinforce it or conciliate with it.
From that perspective, we have to be in the streets like mad, raising hell and demanding justice and at the same time giving out real answers as to WHY this happens and WHAT we could do about it and HOW to do it.
From that perspective, spread, deepen, the resistance to STOP police murder and terror and be determined to not turn back until that is achieved.
When people ask, WHAT ARE YOUR REASONABLE DEMANDS?...
Here is a very just and very reasonable demand: EVERY SINGLE PERSON involved in Laquan's murder and the cover-up should be indicted and prosecuted.
Here is a very just and very reasonable demand: EVERY SINGLE COP involved in the police murders and cover-ups of a long list of other people...like Ronnie Johnson or Roshad McIntosh, Darius Pinex, Dakota Bright or Martice Milliner...should ALL be indicted and convicted and sent to jail. There is no statute of limitations on murder. The list is long and the crimes are many.
Here is a very just and very reasonable demand: STOP police terror.
And challenge everyone in this society: Which side are you on?
Houston Protest vs. Refusal to Indict Jailers in Sandra Bland's Murder
December 28, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Hermann Park, Houston (Photo: Special to revcom.us)
Within 24 hours of the December 21 announcement of the Waller County, Texas grand jury’s refusal to indict anyone for the murder of Sandra Bland (see “No Indictments in Modern-Day Lynching of Sandra Bland: “I’m infuriated, and everyone else should be infuriated as well”), about 50 fired-up people came out in a drizzle to Houston’s Hermann Park to express their outrage. Along with various organizations National Black United Front, Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Brown Berets, New Black Panther Party, Occupy, Out of the Flames of Ferguson, NOI (Nation of Islam), there were high school and college students, some people from the neighborhoods, some fraternity brothers, revolutionary communists, and at least one individual who knew Sandy personally. For some, this was their first protest.
Our crew brought a large stolen lives banner, which drew a number of people up close. One woman, studying the faces on the banner of those murdered by police, said that she used to be afraid, but things have gotten so intense that now she’s beyond the point anymore of feeling fear.
After a brief rally on “the hill,” we marched, reciting chants like, “Sandy Still Speaks! No Justice No Peace!,” to the zoo, where there was a holiday celebration going on. We rallied again at the zoo entrance. A lot of families were there with their kids. Many of the onlookers were shocked out of their holiday spirit, and a few stopped to watch. One young Black woman rushed by with her two very young sons, saying that she had to worry that they might be next.
A young white woman, apologizing that she had to catch up with her friends, explained how, first, the death of Sandy Bland, and now, the utter contempt for any semblance of justice, just made her feel sick. A number of people wanted to find out more about how we can end this situation and got copies of Revolution newspaper.
One person spoke about how now is not the time for celebration when there has been no justice for Sandra Bland, and for the countless other people who have been murdered by police. At one point one of the speakers challenged the crowd, asking which side they are on. He said that he is on the right side of history—“What about you?”
A pastor who had been at a vigil outside the Waller County courthouse the night before denounced the arrogance of the sheriff and the police there—smirking in their confidence that there would be no indictments.
A student had organized a bunch of her friends to come to the protest. Looking at the front page of Revolution (which shows the faces of the main presidential candidates with the headline “They Have No Answers, The Revolution Does!”) she said, “Yeah they don’t have any answers for this.”
One youth said that he doesn’t think protest is enough, and asked what the revolution is about? He pointed at the police laughing as they blocked the protest, and said that they have no feeling for people, so what is it going to take to stop all this?
There were different political programs in the mix, from writing to elected officials, to self-defense, to revolution. One woman who had come up to the stolen lives banner said that this is about more than the police: the system has to change. One guy said that it’s good people came out, but we got to go deeper than this. He wanted to know what kind of society we could have after the revolution.
Carl Dix is the co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Statement by Carl Dix:
Mistrial in Case of First Cop Tried for Murder of Freddie Gray Is NOT Justice!
Indict, Convict and Send Killer Cops to Jail!
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!
Courageous Fighters Facing Serious Charges for #ShutDownRikers
Drop The Unjust Charges!
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.
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.
Drop These Unjust Charges
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.
Trial Set for January 27:
Support Noche Diaz—Demand That All Charges Be Dropped!
December 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Noche Diaz speaking at Times Square, New York City, on August 13 at a show stopping event that included major recording artists, community leaders, and family members of victims of police murder in the fight against police terror. Photo: revcom.us
Noche Diaz will go on trial in Manhattan Criminal Court on January 27, 2016 for arrests stemming from two separate demonstrations in New York City in the fall of 2014—on August 14 after the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and on November 25 after a grand jury refused to indict Michael Brown’s killer. Both outrages sparked powerful mass protests across the country. Noche is a leader in the NYC Revolution Club, works with the Revolutionary Communist Party, and was an early member of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. He will face a total of four misdemeanor charges January 27 in the two cases that now have been consolidated into one.
Noche’s lawyer filed a motion against consolidation, arguing that it would be impossible to determine how to best proceed on this case when none of their requests for discovery have been allowed and when they have also been denied a subpoena for key relevant information. In reality, Noche was singled out for arrest in both cases. The DA has refused to hand over important materials in discovery that could reveal police surveillance and targeting, and Noche’s lawyer’s request to subpoena the DA to produce the discovery materials was denied. This is a blatant effort to hide the political nature of these arrests and criminalize Noche, a freedom fighter and revolutionary leader who has stood strong over many years and who has been repeatedly arrested and faces multiple charges for protesting murder and terror by police.
As revcom.us said in an earlier article, “Noche Diaz, year after year, over and over, is someone the NYPD has harassed, threatened, arrested, and slammed with charges after charges... But Noche Diaz is NOT a criminal. Every day, Black people and Latinos are shot down by cops, or choked out. Walking down the street, or sitting in a wheelchair, in their own homes, or playing in a park. Beaten, tased, and tortured on the streets, or in the jails and prisons. Raided and rounded up in huge militarized police assaults.
“Noche Diaz is under attack because in the face of all this ugliness he has refused to accept their murderous and illegitimate authority as eternal; he has stood up, and stood with others when they stand up, to this system’s terror. Not just for himself, and not by himself, but as part of a revolution to emancipate humanity from this long nightmare.” (Read the full article here.)
The people need to stand with Noche Diaz. Write statements of support demanding that all charges against him be dropped and sign the online petition.
For more information about Noche Diaz, read the revcom.us interview with him after his arrest on November 25, 2014.
January 11, 2016—14th Anniversary of U.S. Torture Camp at Guantánamo Bay: Close It NOW!
December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Close Guantánamo NOW actions
Saturday, January 9
Miami Protest to Shut Down Guantánamo Bay
U.S. Southern Command (the military base which controls Guantánamo) 2 pm Facebook Event
Monday, January 11
Washington DC, 12 pm, the White House Facebook Event
Amnesty International USA, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Center for Constitutional Rights, CloseGuantanamo.org, CodePink, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Torture Abolition & Survivors Support Coalition, Witness Against Torture, World Can’t Wait
Los Angeles 12 pm, Federal Building
Interfaith Communities United for Justice & Peace Details
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
A Nightmarish Dynamic That Imprisons Humanity... and the Real Alternative
From the Writings and Talks of Bob Avakian:
The "Two Outmodeds" and Bringing Forward Another Way
November 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris were cruel and unjust. The reactionary armed Islamist movement ISIS claimed credit for terrorist acts that took the lives of at least 129 everyday people going about their normal routines. In short order, the French government imposed a state of emergency—threatening more state terror and chauvinist violence directed at immigrant communities, as well as broad assaults on basic rights. France also launched massive air strikes on Syria. Meanwhile, other Western imperialist powers, particularly the U.S., are threatening new military action in the Middle East. All of which will only lead to more death and destruction, more uprooting of oppressed humanity in a region that has endured so much suffering at the hands of imperialism and its local enforcers. and to more terrorist acts. (See “A Terrorist Attack in Paris, A World of Horrors, and the NEED FOR ANOTHER WAY” at revcom.us)
Step back. Throughout the world, two forces contend. Neither has a real answer—an emancipatory answer—to the agonizing, killing, planet-destroying problems confronting humanity. On the one side are the imperialists who dominate the world: exploiting billions, controlling economic lifelines and global politics, and deploying overwhelming military power to terrorize people into submitting to this. On the other side is a form of reactionary, religious, woman-hating fanaticism. From Nigeria to Pakistan, to Syria and Iraq, to Indonesia and beyond, this fanatical Islam poses as an alternative to imperialism but is in actuality rooted in the same horizons of domination and exploitation.
All this is grotesquely magnified by the fact that for most people, these are the only alternatives that they know about right now.
Over the last few decades, Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, has produced deep, scientific, and indispensable analysis of this deadly dynamic shaping world events and locking people into the world as it is. As he incisively frames it:
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.
The people and the planet need to break out of this life-destroying, suffocating, and intolerable dynamic. This is possible because the underlying roots of this horrific contention—with neither side representing a way out—provides the basis for a radically better way forward for humanity. But, what is that way? Bob Avakian has developed the framework and vision for a truly liberating way that human society could be—and the strategy and orientation for making an actual revolution that can achieve this.
This selection from the writings and talks of Bob Avakian provides essential and crucial understanding of what is going on in the world, why the interests of humanity lie completely outside of and opposed to these “alternatives,” and how humanity can break the vise-grip of this vicious dynamic... and break through to a whole new world. We encourage people to study and spread this material. The works listed here are just a partial list of the work that BA has done on this question. Revcom.us will soon post a full list of all the work he has done on this crucial dynamic.
Dig into this groundbreaking analysis for understanding the global phenomenon of the clash between Islamic fundamentalism and imperialism, with the U.S. as the top dog, and the political-ideological orientation for developing the revolutionary pole in today’s world. Written during the George W. Bush years, this has tremendous relevance today. The whole text deserves careful study.
Excerpts from this talk were published separately, and here we list two that can serve as a quick reference. However, this world-shaping deadly dynamic demands a full reading of Bringing Forward Another Way by Bob Avakian, available in full here.
* More on the “Two Historically Outmodeds”—Western imperialism and religious fundamentalism—the need to oppose both; why imperialism does the greater damage and is the greater threat to humanity; and why the “war on terror” is in essence a war for empire.
* “An Unequaled Barbarity”—America is not the good guy in the world, and American lives are not more important than other people’s lives. When you recognize the horrors committed by the system, you must act accordingly.
 Why We’re in the Situation We’re in Today...And What to Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution (2006)
This landmark and engaging audio of a talk by BA presents a sweeping overview of changes in the world since World War 2, including the rise of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East and the U.S.; as well as the international impact of the defeat of the first socialist revolutions, and the way forward today through revolution. Full audio available here.
 FromAway With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World (2008)
* Why is Religious Fundamentalism Growing in Today’s World?
How the vast economic and demographic changes spurred by imperialist globalization have contributed to the current growth of religious fundamentalism; the role of political-ideological factors, including imperialist undermining of secular regimes in the Middle East in the 1950s and 1960s; and especially the far-reaching consequences of the defeat of genuine socialist revolution in China in 1976.
 From the compilation Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women. Entire compilation available here.
*Imperialist Hypocrisy and the Taliban Oppression (2004)
"...These different forms and manifestations of degrading and subjugating women are "mirror opposites" and are all part of the overall oppression of women in the imperialist-dominated world today."
Why We Should NOT Root for Our Own Rulers... And Why It's Better If They LOSE Their Wars
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.
Imperialism and Islamic Fundamentalism Are NOT the Only Alternatives! We Need a Revolution!
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: