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Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump is three things.
One: Trump is the perfect representative of the ugliest, most rotten, most parasitical, and most corrupt parts of the already extremely ugly, vicious, and oppressive American empire and the social values that embody that empire. Not only his political stances, but the whole way he moves through life—the bullying, the sleaze, the worship of and glorying in money, the pride in ignorance, the crude chauvinism of “USA Number One,” the leering nastiness toward women: this is exactly where the so-called American Dream leads. He embodies the exploitation and plunder that is capitalism, and the me-first mentality it spawns. He is an extreme expression of that, but an expression nonetheless. This is what people are conditioned to want and to follow in this society. And this is what strikes a deep chord in the hard-core followers of this braying, pig-headed jackass.
Two: Trump has pulled together a section of the fascist movement in America in a much more visible and aggressive way. He is organizing those who feel left out and “disrespected,” who have been taught that their white skin and American identity make them special but who don’t “feel special” anymore, and who blame it on those they have been taught to despise as being “beneath them” in society. This sense of frustrated “white male entitlement” runs deep in the marrow of white America; it is openly played on by the Republicans and “politely respected” (while being played on its own way) by the Democrats—and now Trump has taken it to a whole other level. He is aiming these angry people at immigrants, at Black people—against, in short, the most oppressed; he is aiming them against “foreigners” and “the different,” and in particular against all Muslims: and he is aiming them against anyone who would refuse to go along with the crimes of this system or who even dares differ with Trump. He stirs “his people” up with a vision of America rampaging, murdering, and openly torturing all around the world—open, crude, unapologetic gangsterism, as opposed to the “refined” gangsterism of Obama. His rallies are not complete without some of his minions mobbing and beating up anyone who would dare to raise a voice against this, to the raucous cheers of the mob that Trump has summoned. And should anyone criticize Trump online, he has millions of followers who, piranha-like, create a “virtual mob” to go after them.
In doing this, Trump has swept in many people who may not be dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries, but whose dissatisfaction and yearnings, coupled with their naiveté and even more than that the historic advantage and status afforded them as “white people” in America, make them susceptible to Trump’s appeal—which makes him all the more dangerous.
All this and what it says about the larger society, even if there were nothing else (and there is plenty else), concentrates the need for a real revolution.
But there is more. Third, Trump has seriously exacerbated the ongoing legitimacy crisis in the way that the American empire is ruled. “Legitimacy” refers to the way in which people very broadly, in normal times, perceive the rules by which the system runs—and the armed force that is used to back up those rules—as being “legitimate.” They may object and protest when these rules seem to be bent, or violated, by those in power, but in normal times they mainly accept the rules themselves. However, when these rules begin to be questioned and violated by those who hold power, when those in power fall out in disagreement over what the rules should be, when the rules do not seem to work, when the working of the rules becomes so odious that people are driven to resist, or when acts of resistance call the rules into question... people may begin, on a mass scale, to question the very rules themselves. Where did these rules come from in the first place, and who and what do they serve? When people in their millions are wondering about this, these questions become very dangerous indeed for the ruling class.
For some time now, there has been fierce contention between two groupings in the ruling class, more or less centered in the Democratic and Republican Parties, precisely over forging new “legitimating norms,” or rules. This contention has gone on for two decades now and takes many different forms—right now, the very sharp and unprecedented fight over whether Obama will be allowed to exercise his constitutional duty to nominate another Supreme Court justice is one example. But at bottom is a fight over what will be the “legitimating norms”—the cohering consensus of the “rules” of society—in a time of great change and upheaval.
The system as a whole faces multiple crises on different fronts—the globalization and “turbo-charging” of the world economy, which has led to the hollowing out of the domestic industrial base and the downgrading of the living standards of tens of millions of people, accompanied by an extraordinarily pronounced income inequality... the fracturing international situation, with a direct challenge to the U.S. (and Western Europe) mounted by the fundamentalist Islamic jihadist forces but also coming from other rivals... the tumultuous changes in the role of women, economically and culturally, especially in relation to the family... and changes in the “racial” makeup of America—the increasing necessity to rely on immigrant labor coupled with the actual removal of millions of African-Americans out of the labor force, and the institution of a genocidal system of mass incarceration... and the intensifying ecological crisis. There is widespread alienation and a feeling, among many different sections of people, that the system is not working and the rules are not being applied fairly.
Here the observations and analysis in the article “The Center—Can It Hold? The Pyramid as Two Ladders,” from the pamphlet The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era, by Bob Avakian (BA), are very relevant. BA writes that “when a legitimacy crisis occurs, when the ‘glue’ that holds society together begins to come undone, and there is an attempt to forge a new ruling consensus, then it is acutely posed whether that attempt to forge a new ruling consensus (a new ‘social glue,’ so to speak) is going to hold and work.”
Faced with this, the Democrats have in the main gone for a more “multicultural” approach. They pay lip service to and attempt to recast and channel the struggles of the different oppressed nationalities that have been historically severely discriminated against to allow room for some small sections to advance, while locking the majority into even more desperate conditions (for example, the “welfare reform” cuts and mass imprisonment carried out under the first Clinton regime). They generally prefer to wrap their military aggression in “soft power” and alliances overseas while continuing to carry out vicious war crimes by drone and wage really savage wars through proxies like Saudi Arabia. They make some reforms in the “social safety net” in a “business friendly” way, even while presiding over draconian cuts overall.
Those mainly grouped around the Republicans have opted for the openly aggressive use of military power AND the building up of a fascist base within the U.S. around the imposition of fundamentalist Christian beliefs and values, a cult of the military, and a much more unrestrained capitalism, which has included the further gutting of the unions. In this dynamic, the Republicans have for decades been far more aggressive, and the Democrats have over and over sought to conciliate with them—while the Republicans have denied the very legitimacy of the last two Democratic presidents.
Right now, each of these groups has encountered problems in the current electoral campaign. This finds expression within the Democrats in the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, running on a platform of a “people’s revolution,” and as a “democratic socialist” who professes his aim to bring people into the electoral process in the form of the Democratic Party. Never mind that his candidacy is NOT a people’s revolution, nor is he a socialist, and that getting people to put on the straitjacket of the Democratic Party (even a supposedly slightly roomier straitjacket) will make it impossible to actually confront and solve the problems facing humanity.
But these problems are much sharper in the Republican Party. The main forces in this party find themselves going up against the person leading in the nomination fight in a way that has not happened in living memory. To be clear: Trump has, from the beginning, been backed by larger forces; he is not quite the “independent actor” he poses as. The wall-to-wall coverage he has gotten since last summer—which until recently was quite respectful—is not simply explained by “ratings.” But right now the main forces in the Republican Party have indeed grouped up against Trump in a rather unprecedented way.
For years, the Republicans have used the very same themes with the very same people that Trump is now ringing with such success. In fact, Trump’s main rival, Ted Cruz, is himself an extreme fascist, many of whose positions are even more reactionary than Trump’s. Cruz also is fighting with Trump for the Christian fascists—Trump has a significant chunk of these, but has also expanded this base to other sections and has been welding all this together under his command, which is part of the particular threat he poses overall, and part of the threat to Republicans—but also part of why people like the Republican governor and former candidate Chris Christie are drawn to Trump.
But the fact that all these Republicans, and the party as a whole, have based themselves on these themes is why, once they perceived him as a possible threat, they had no real way to counter him (at least at first). When they attack him for being a racist apologist for the Klan... when they attack him for being a hater of women (a misogynist)... well, it rings hollow, because this is what their whole party has relied upon, this has been at the very core of their appeal. The more this goes on, and the more the underlying dynamics are dragged into the light, the more people may wonder why this racist, chauvinist, fascist party has been viewed as legitimate at all. They may wonder why the Democrats have not only sought to cooperate with the Republicans, but have bent over backward to conciliate with them. Who and what does this serve? Which class and what class interests?
Conversely, if Trump is put down by the Republican establishment, how would his base respond to that? Already, the militia movement and similar groups are all over the Trump thing—they don’t even conceive of the current government as legitimate. What then if those in charge violate their own rules to deny Trump the nomination? They may, to be sure, be able to do this in a way that discredits Trump among the people he has up to now called forward, and do so without real damage to themselves. But they may not, either.
As BA also said in this same series (“The Danger of the Christian Fascists and the Challenges This Poses”), “you can’t keep making promises to these forces, as the Republican Party does—you can’t keep making promises and then leave them unfulfilled.” Trump has exposed and taken advantage of the fact that the section of the ruling class grouped around the Republicans has not, over decades, really “delivered” to this base. The vaunted American military has been defeated or bogged down all over the world by foes who are much weaker militarily. Black people have not only NOT been “put in their place,” they have in the past few years led a huge questioning of American racism and the streets have been filled, at different times, with all kinds of people uniting and putting it on the line against racist police murder.
And even though Obama in fact is nothing but an instrument—in fact, the commander-in-chief—of this very same empire, for the people in this hard core Republican base the very idea of a Black man in authority—let alone president—is totally intolerable and illegitimate. And there’s more: gay people, rather than being ostracized and cast out, have been much more accepted, with the Supreme Court even granting the right of marriage equality. And while, yes, they have continued to hammer at women, and have taken away the right to abortion from millions, this doesn’t satisfy these followers of patriarchy; further, if the Supreme Court rules against the savage, woman-hating new abortion restrictions in Texas and other states that are now coming up for review, these people will be highly inflamed. Finally, there have been the ongoing serious cuts in the living standards of tens of millions that we referred to above, which form a backdrop and underpinning of all this.
Trump now comes and claims to redeem these frustrated promises. He aims to cohere a section of the longtime Christian fascists, with newer people who share many of the same feelings of resentment and rage, ultimately based on white American entitlement.
The implications loom very large, even as things are still in a great deal of flux. If Trump wins the nomination, then this movement would likely be further unleashed, with extremely ugly consequences in every part of society. If Trump becomes president, this would reach a whole other dimension, with Trump himself then moving to implement the program he has run on.
And what if those in the ruling class who perceive Trump as a threat, and are now—after letting him build himself up for months, after promoting him during those same months—attacking him... what if they succeed in derailing his quest for the Republican nomination? Well, they would have a problem: What do they do with this movement that has now cohered around him? It is not clear in that case what either Trump, or the people he has drawn around him, would do.
Further, this situation could increasingly pose problems for the Democrats as well. For instance, what if a section of the people stoked up by Trump is either disappointed by him being denied the nomination or, alternatively, is emboldened by his winning it, and escalates their violence against the people whom the Democrats consider “their base”? The Democrats continually conciliate with the fascists—what if they do so again, and refuse to lead people to confront this... when there are people in a mood to do so?
These are the type of things that those who make the decisions in the American empire might have to confront: What would cause more instability and harm for their interests, as they perceive them?
Whatever immediately happens, the times are becoming heavier. There will be repression. The current polarization—in which tens of millions of people are looking for a way out, but see their alternatives as being between fascists like either Trump or Cruz, and the Democrats (including the supposedly “radical alternative” of Sanders)—is NOT good, and left to itself would lead to disaster. There must be RE-polarization for revolution—and this must be wrenched out of the current situation. There will NOT be any easy road to something better.
There is, and there must be more, resistance to this—not in the form of voting for a Democrat—but building on the kind of thing you see already in people going into these Trump rallies and calling him out. But the most important thing we have to understand is this: The turmoil at the top of society right now... the emergence of political figures who aim to change how the people are ruled, in possibly dramatic and extremely disruptive ways... the fighting amongst the rulers over what to do about this... opens new possibilities, and new necessity, to expose the system that has spawned this and to build a magnetic pole around an organized force that represents a real alternative: real revolutionary hope on a solid scientific foundation. All this taken together is part of a process that could create an opening in which a force that is going for revolution, and willing and able to lead people to do that, can make tremendous gains and possibly even open up the chance to go for it all. That is, to lead millions to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.
This is not the only possible outcome, nor is it necessarily something that would grow one-two-three out of the present situation. But revolution will NOT be made in a ready-made, easy-bake situation; it will necessarily involve turmoil, upheaval, and advancing in the face of sharp repression. The point is to analyze, grasp, and work on those possibilities now.
The complexities of that... all the challenges that would pose... all that is beyond what we are going to get into in this article or this issue. But we DO have an article guiding you into the works of Bob Avakian, who has developed a whole way of scientifically understanding this kind of social upheaval and how extremely dangerous situations can be seized on, with the right kind of leadership, to make huge gains. How to apply those principles will be very much on our site and in our pages over the next months, as this unfolds. And you, our readers, have a definite role to play in getting into these works, and writing in with your thinking provoked by them.
Right now, though, some things that CAN and MUST be said about what the rise of Trump, even now, means for those working for revolution:
It means, most of all, getting out to people that there is a REAL and NECESSARY alternative to all of this: revolution. This means, right now and in the coming months, seizing on the highly charged atmosphere to get BA out to millions—his way of understanding the world, the vision of a new society he’s developed (concretized in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America), and the strategy to accomplish this. And this includes, as part of this, going out to those attracted to Sanders’ message and winning them to see that what we face cannot be dealt with in the terms Sanders is proposing—this is, as we said recently, an illusion... a “wisp of painless progress.”
It means preparing ourselves, the movement for revolution, and the people to deal with the much more repressive atmosphere already being unleashed, and the heightened repressive measures and actions that now loom with the ascendancy of Trump (and which, whatever happens to Trump, his candidacy is creating public opinion and organization for). This means very much building a wall of support around BA—based on people understanding what he is all about and coming to respect and love him on that basis.
This is extremely important. Without a REAL alternative, people will remain locked on the same deadly treadmill they now find themselves on.
It means getting out among the people and showing very vividly how Trump actually embodies what America stands for and does not in any fundamental way go against it, and that the solution is not to return to the illusion of “America’s democratic traditions,” nor to throw our energies into electing a Democrat as some kind of defense, but to actually fight to get rid of a system that produces no end of Trumps, Reagans, and, yes, Clintons, once and for all. It means getting out both to those opposing Trump and to those who are currently seduced by him but whose most fundamental interests and aspirations can only be met by communist revolution and who, through struggle, can be won to see that. The basis to do this and to succeed in doing it lies in the contradictions of this social system and what it gives rise to, in so many different ways—and that Trump is not an anomaly, or some weird exception, but a concentration of this social system at a time of crisis.
It means getting revcom.us and Revolution newspaper way out there into society. In a time like this, when people are unusually hungry to understand what is going on and what to do about it, this website and paper must truly be, as BA has called for, “the guide, the pivot, the crucial tool in drawing forward, orienting, training, and organizing thousands, and influencing millions—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution—hastening and preparing for the time when we can go for the whole thing, with a real chance to win.” And it means this on a whole other level.
In addition, the movement for revolution must assume much more powerful form. This means that the Revolution Clubs have to become much more vital forces in the neighborhoods and campuses, recruiting people on the basis of their two slogans: Humanity Needs Revolution and Communism; and Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. This means that centers of revolution—the bookstores—must become vital sites where BA’s new synthesis of communism engages and contends with key trends in society and coheres the trend of revolutionary communism. And finally, the Party itself, the vanguard, needs to grow and further develop—quantitatively and, yes, qualitatively, in its scientific rigor and revolutionary orientation.
It means continuing to mobilize people to fight the power, both to tap into the righteous anger and defiance that people do feel toward Trump, reaching out to and joining with those who disrupt his rallies and, at the same time and even more important, continuing to fight—and to draw more people into the fight—against police terror and other forms of the oppression of Black and Brown people... against the oppression of women and, right now, the vicious attempts to deny tens of millions of women the right to abortion... against the demonization of immigrants... the wars... and the plunder of the environment.
In short, these are times of danger... and times of great opportunity. Prepare to rise to the challenge before us.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
A Serious, Scientific Approach to What Gave Rise to Trump
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
If you want to seriously understand the situation that gave rise to Donald Trump, a key place to start is with the work Bob Avakian (BA) has done on the decades-long crisis in the U.S. ruling class and its possible implications for revolution. Bob Avakian is the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and the architect of a new synthesis of communism. This new synthesis represents a qualitative advance in the scientific approach to making revolution and emancipating humanity. You can find out more, and find his talks and writings, here.
Along with digging into what he reveals about this particular crisis, the most important thing is to learn from the method and approach he applies.
Get into this, and get into BA. There is a way forward.
Where to start:
All these works and more are available here.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
When Donald Trump recently refused on national TV to disassociate himself from white supremacist leader David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, the other Republican presidential candidates and the whole Republican Party establishment fell all over themselves to exclaim horror and shock and denounce Trump. Trump’s playing up to the KKK was truly reactionary and despicable—and his phony “disavowal” of the KKK can’t cover up his ugly racism. But as for the “outrage” from the official voices—they do “protest too much,” as a Shakespeare character says. If they want to denounce Trump, why the fuck don’t they do the same for Ronald Reagan, revered by Republicans as almost a demigod (and admired by Democrats, too, as one of the “great” presidents)?!
Above: Three civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman were murdered by a KKK mob in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Former President Ronald Reagan opened his 1980 presidential campaign with an appearance in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where he praised "states' rights." "States' rights" was a code word used by Klansmen and their more polite supporters to justify the lynchings and other terror tactics they used against people fighting segregation. (AP photo)
Reagan trumped Trump when it comes to outright pandering to the Klan. He opened his 1980 presidential campaign with an appearance in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where he praised “states’ rights.” The meaning of this act was unmistakable: Philadelphia, Mississippi, was where a KKK mob murdered three civil rights workers—James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman—in 1964. And “states’ rights” was a code word used by Klansmen and their more polite supporters to justify the lynchings, murders, and other terror they used against people fighting segregation. In office, Reagan ramped up the so-called war on drugs that targeted and resulted in massive imprisonment of Black and Latino youths—while turning a blind eye to the drugs being pumped into the ghettos and barrios in the 1980s, including by CIA operatives and “assets.”
This is really ugly stuff. But we could—and we will in future issues—go into how there’s a long-running sewer stream of racist shit coming out of the mouths of U.S. presidents and presidential candidates. For now, in the interests of “equal time,” let’s look at Bill Clinton.
Then-Governor of Arkansas Bill Clinton posing in front of a chain gang of Black prisoners at Stone Mountain, Georgia—a monument to the Confederacy and known as the birthplace of the "modern" KKK. (AP photo)
Clinton didn’t openly traffic with the Klan, but in his first run for the White House, in 1992, Clinton—then the governor of Arkansas—made a point of interrupting the campaign to fly back to the state to deny clemency for death-row prisoner Ricky Ray Rector, a brain-damaged Black man, and to witness his execution. Then he posed with a Georgia senator in front of a chain gang of Black prisoners at Stone Mountain, Georgia—a monument to the Confederacy and known as the birthplace of the “modern” KKK. That picture appeared widely in newspapers just before the primaries in many southern states. These actions were meant as a signal to racist whites that he would keep Black people “in their place.”
Why is there this presidential tradition of racist demagogy and catering to the KKK? These presidents, Democrats and Republicans, represent a system that, from its beginnings, has had as one of its key pillars the racism against and oppression of Black people—and other “people of color.” The exclusion of these groups of people, whether explicitly or in practice, and white supremacy have been—and continue to be—essential to the functioning of this country. And that’s why, when it comes to the position of the commander in chief of the U.S. empire, catering to white supremacy is a job requirement.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
Updated March 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
You are invited to come together, raise funds, and build community, as part of accelerating the BA Everywhere campaign. The campaign aims to raise big funds to make the new synthesis of communism that Bob Avakian (BA) has brought forward, and the leadership he provides, a major question in society: a point of reference and, for increasing numbers, a living framework for how to understand, and transform, the world. The new synthesis represents a qualitative advance in the scientific approach to making revolution and emancipating humanity.
BA, the Chairman of the RCP, USA, embodies a rare combination: a revolutionary leader who on the basis of 40 years of work has been able to develop scientific theory on a world-class level, while at the same time having a deep understanding of and visceral connection with the most oppressed, and a highly developed ability to “break down” complex theory and make it accessible to the masses of people.
Where there is oppression, there will be resistance—the masses of people will continually rise up against their conditions of oppression and those who enforce this oppression. But, without the necessary scientific theory and leadership, the struggle of the oppressed will be contained, and remain confined, within the system which is the source of oppression, and the horrors to which the masses are subjected will go on, and on.
BA, his work, and his leadership exist at a time when the influence and organized force of revolution—real revolution—is not nearly as strong as it urgently needs to be, but the basis for this is actually stronger than ever. The biggest immediate problem right now is that this is not yet known in the way it needs to be... As BA himself says in the new work we are celebrating:
There is an urgent need for this new synthesis to be taken up, broadly, in this society and in the world as a whole: everywhere people are questioning why things are the way they are, and whether a different world is possible; everywhere people are talking about “revolution” but have no real understanding of what revolution means, no scientific approach to analyzing and dealing with what they are up against and what needs to be done; everywhere people are rising up in rebellion but are hemmed in, let down and left to the mercy of murderous oppressors, or misled onto paths which only reinforce, often with barbaric brutality, the enslaving chains of tradition; everywhere people need a way out of their desperate conditions, but do not see the source of their suffering and the path forward out of the darkness.
The Science, the Strategy, the Leadership for an Actual Revolution,
and a Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation
This has to change... now. As a first step, build these dinners. If you are not now connected to the Party or BA Everywhere and want to participate, or to learn more about this campaign, write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with the local Revolution Books bookstore, or the local distributor of Revolution where you live.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The racism of America... the mass incarceration of Black people... and a celebration of the Black freedom struggle including echoes of the Black Panther Party, all burst on the stage.
In 2016, the U.S. awards ceremonies, watched by hundreds of millions internationally, were not the usual boring, putrid ramming of mainstream U.S. cultural spectacle and values down the throats of the world, but a sign of the times.
All who want to see the horrors that plague humanity ended; all who want a radically different and far better world; all who are working for a real revolution, pay attention: This matters, recognize and seize the time!
From a reader:
The struggle over the humanity of Black people in America—up against centuries of oppression and degradation, and right now, up against a slow genocide—is getting fought out everywhere we turn. January and February, two major Black artists disrupted the air with performances that put this running sore in front of the world.
At Super Bowl 50, the most viewed TV event in the U.S., Beyoncé performed an excerpt of her new song, “Formation.” In her performance, she was wearing bandoliers, and her 50 backup dancers were wearing costumes that echoed the black berets, Afros, and raised fists of the Black Panther Party. At one point, they lined up in an X formation (a seeming reference to Malcolm X).
At the 2016 Grammy Awards, the music business’ celebration and coronation of mainstream American pop music viewed by almost 30 million people, Kendrick Lamar performed excerpts from three songs in a chilling yet beautiful dramatization of the hidden lives of the millions behind bars in America. He came out in prison blues, marching in a chain gang with his musicians in cages onstage performing part of “The Blacker the Berry.” Then he transitioned into a furiously jubilant celebration with bonfires and African dancers performing “Alright” and then transitioned into an angry and angst-filled new piece, as yet untitled.
The organized forces of fascism and white supremacy freaked out. Former New York City Mayor and all-the-time fascist pig Rudy Giuliani said Beyoncé’s performance was “used as a platform to attack police officers...” The Executive Director of the National Sheriffs’ Association said her performance was “inciting bad behavior.” A number of police associations have called for protests and now there’s a wave of boycotts being called of Beyoncé (police saying they won’t do security for her tour). These attacks and threats from the police and fascist forces are serious—trying to use the force of the state to keep people silent in the face of genocide... trying to scare prominent figures away from using their platform to speak out against the crimes happening to Black people, or even just from asserting the humanity of Black people.
Especially in the face of this kind of shit, artists—and anyone else who speaks out and stands up against police terror and mass incarceration—need to be defended. This system has a long history of terrorizing prominent voices who use their platform to speak out against oppression, and when this happens, it needs to be taken seriously and taken on loudly.
At the same time, and coming from a stand of emancipating ALL humanity, there are things that have to be criticized in both these performances. Beyoncé’s performance and the song give some voice for Black people to feel pride in who they are, refuting racist stereotypes of beauty. She and her dancers evoked the struggle for freedom waged by Black people in the 1960s. The problem, and it is a big problem, is that she wraps this up in an incredibly poisonous package—a celebration of, and wanting to be a top dog in, this dog-eat-dog system that continues to destroy and murder Black and oppressed people here and around the world. A system that has and can only have white supremacy built into its structures.
In her Super Bowl performance of her new song, “Formation,” Beyoncé rhymes: “I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making.” This is nothing but a bourgeois aspiration—the outlook of a ruling class of a capitalist system whose golden rule is profit at the expense of crushing anything, any people, anyone that stands in the way of pursuit of this.
Instead of expressing a hope, dream, vision of ending exploitation, Beyoncé expresses her desire to get in on it, to get her share of and be part of the American empire, which can only mean destroying lives and crushing spirits. The U.S. is an empire that runs, and can only survive by running, roughshod over the people of the world.
The full version of the song ends, “The best revenge is your paper” (that is, your money). That paper is wealth stolen from the people here and around the world and enforced with unspeakable brutality. Celebrating a major exploiter like Celebrating a major exploiter like Bill Gates is to uphold the horrific exploitation of sweatshops, workers being poisoned by the devices they are working on, and a system he's part of that profits from child labor... this is where Bill Gates’ wealth came from and could only come from. Let’s not forget when President Obama and the Navy Seals murdered the reactionary fundamentalist Osama Bin Laden that Beyoncé rushed to record and release her version of “I’m Proud to Be an American,” a song of ignorant patriotism now bull-horned every day by Donald Trump. What Beyoncé was doing with this song was aimed at rallying the most oppressed people to cheer and be a part of the U.S. military killing machine, and at the same time, at least objectively, letting the people who rule America know that she wannabe one of them. For her to turn around now and protest the treatment of Black people is not so much hypocrisy as it is a reflection of the class position of the Black bourgeoisie, held down by capitalism but with no higher aspiration as a class than to itself become a new bourgeois-capitalist class. In this day and age, that can only mean becoming junior partners to U.S. imperialism. Revolutionaries can and should unite with and defend people who take up this outlook when they resist oppression, but this bourgeois outlook cannot lead the struggle—that is, if it is to get to revolution to emancipate all humanity.
Let’s return to this line on “the best revenge is your paper.” Wanting revenge can only end up on the terms of the system as it is—making the goal of the struggle your ability to fuck over someone instead of being the one fucked over. And, again, “your paper” comes dripping with the blood of those who this system viciously exploits. While it’s understandable to hate the way people are forced to live under this system so much that you want to lash out, acting for revenge just means that you want to hurt someone else because it makes you feel good or enables you to get ahead. If you try to defeat the enemy by becoming them, they win. In effect, you end up using the struggle of the people, their aspirations and desires to be rid of all this, to get your piece... this is dangerous and has no place in the struggle for emancipation. It permeates way too much of Beyoncé’s work, and actually cuts against and undermines what is righteous about her performance. It does real harm.
Kendrick Lamar at the Grammys. (AP photo)
Kendrick Lamar delivered a stunning visceral performance at the Grammys. He laid bare a pressing reality and gave a deep feeling for the brutality brought down on Black people by this system. Look at the video: the clanging of chains... the soulful and sorrowful sax... he indicts the white supremacist hatred for Black people and argues: “You can trap our bodies but you can’t lock up our minds.” In his new song, he spoke to the pain of Trayvon Martin’s murder: “On February 26 I lost my life too.” February 26 is the day George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon.
Kendrick Lamar wrestles with big questions and often throws everything that’s going on into the pot. Musically his combination and choices are wild and unexpected, and often masterful. At the same time, his lyrics and views on many things are contradictory and sometimes just posing contradictions (including ugly ones) seems to be what he is doing. His celebrated album, To Pimp a Butterfly, is art at a high level and as such we do not hold him to every line, every song, literally. There are different characters and different personas in his work. His work is also developing. But there are negatives within all this which need to be looked at, interrogated, and broken with.*
His Grammy performance reflected the pain and defiance, the criminalization and degradation, anger, and alienation brought down on Black people by this system and how that plays out in the lives of the people. Every verse of "The Blacker the Berry" starts with “I’m a hypocrite”: Check what he says:
I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015
Once I finish this, witnesses will convey just what I mean
I mean, it’s evident that I’m irrelevant to society
That’s what you’re telling me, penitentiary would only hire me
Curse me till I’m dead
Church me with your fake prophesizing that I’mma be just another slave in my head
Institutionalized manipulation and lies
Reciprocation of freedom only live in your eyes.
The song concludes:
So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street when gang banging
make me kill a nigga blacker than me?
Some have said that "The Blacker the Berry" could be read to place blame at the feet of Black people for the violence among the people—violence whose root cause is the no-win situation that this system puts people in, especially the youth. It also could be understood as a reflection on how the system does often compel people to do horrific things and then blame themselves for it—internalizing their oppression. Either way, the masses of people need a way out—and that can only be through struggling: in the realms of art and ideas, in fighting back against the power, and ultimately in an actual revolution, which is the only way to put an end to a system that is nothing but a killing machine.
We don’t know if Kendrick Lamar was forced to take out a line from his Grammy performance of “Alright,” or if he did so himself, but we missed the sharp line in the song’s chorus: “and we hate popo, want to kill us dead in the streets fo sho.” This omission stands out all the more because, while there are different images that Kendrick evokes as to why we gonna be alright, the first verse concludes: “But if God got us we then gon’ be alright,” which is an illusion/delusion at best, and at worst leaves people blind to understand the source of the problem we face and the road forward to the solution.
The work Kendrick Lamar performed at the Grammys is also marred by strains of the outlook of revenge, and this theme runs through some of his other work as well. While it may feel radical to want your get-back, it will not get us free. We have to fight... but our sights have to be way beyond revenge, they have to be towards actual emancipation, towards ending not just the oppression you face, or just becoming new oppressors, but towards ending all oppression once and for all.
Both Beyoncé and Kendrick are also painfully wrong on another essential truth: There will be no real emancipation that doesn't embody the view that women—half of humanity—are full human beings. Not sex objects or play things... breaking free from every aspect of patriarchal domination and degradation: whether it be turning oneself into an object or saturating your music in the word "bitch" as Beyoncé does, or viewing women as a sexual vice and temptation with no humanity, as Kendrick does.
Raising these criticisms is not to downplay the positive elements in Kendrick Lamar. Kendrick, from his inventive music to the subject and theme of his writing, is a seeker. To say or imply that he has cast his lot with the system would be very wrong. But he must seek deeper... to the root causes of the problem, and the real solution. This is not too much to ask from those who would give voice to the people’s humanity... indeed, nothing less is required.
* This article does not deal with the entirety of Kendrick Lamar's work or the entirety of To Pimp a Butterfly. Its focus is on the performance and songs he movingly performed at the 2016 Grammy's. [back]
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
From A World to Win News Service:
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
February 29, 2016. A World to Win News Service. The following is by the 8 March Women’s Organisation (Iran-Afghanistan).
Do you hear the sound of women’s bones being crushed under the wheels of the machinery of exploitation in the farms, factories and workshops, and exhausting, shattering and repetitive work at home?
Do you hear the stifled cries of a young woman who has been raped by her boss in a workshop closet?
Have you seen a girl choked with tears when forced to get married?
Are you aware of the trade in young girls in the countrysides of the third world and the gloomy future that awaits them? Has the nerve-shattering scream of a nine-year-old bride ever shaken your entire being?
Do you know about the night-time beatings and the bullying behaviour? Do you know what it feels like to go unnoticed and be counted as nothing? Do you know how painful it is when you are insulted and despised or ridiculed by your partner in front of others?
Have you felt the suppressed anger of the woman who has been betrayed by her husband? Have you ever expressed your satisfaction and solidarity when a woman punished her violent, rapist husband?
Do you feel the pain in your heart when you hear that a young woman has been killed in broad daylight by her husband merely because she dared to file for a divorce?
Can you imagine the feeling of a girl child whose tiny body has been raped by her closest relatives as she experiences savage “sex” for the first time and is robbed of her future?
Can you remember the pallid face of the girl soaked in blood by her brother in order to “protect the family’s honour”?
Can you understand the meaning of a precarious life, and the homelessness, discrimination, occupation, rape, and war happening today in Syria and Afghanistan?
Can you tolerate hearing how hundreds of women in Kurdistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and on and on have set themselves on fire because of the absolute degradation they feel?
Can you understand the feelings of women when dire poverty breaks their pride and pushes them into prostitution so that their children do not go to bed hungry?
Have you ever hated yourself when you have seen pornography that pictures a woman so degraded, as if she is worth nothing but serving men’s sexual desires?
Can you understand a woman’s feeling of worthlessness when she is forced to have sex by her partner?
Do you understand a woman’s feeling of fear and insecurity as she flees men’s shadows in the dark of night?
Are you familiar with words such as whore, slut, bitch...?
Do you know what was going on in the head of the mother who burned herself and her children to end a life full of oppression and exploitation?
Or what was going to be imposed on that school girl who hung herself when still in her school uniform so as to escape the future awaiting her?
Haven’t you ever been irritated at the self-alienation of a woman who undergoes surgery in order to be “more attractive” to men?
Do you know that women who rebel against these rotten and outmoded traditions are brutally beaten to death by patriarchal thugs and the “security” forces in the light of day in front of those who witnessed the scene, or condemned to death by those who rule in the name of Islamic Sharia law?
Do you feel the pain of the first stone that hit the skull of a woman who is half buried?
Can you believe that acid or a razor blade might burn or rip the flesh in your face, simply because your veil doesn’t cover you enough?
Hijab is not our culture! Stoning to death doesn’t come from our tradition! “Honour killing” is not our legacy! Female genital mutilation has nothing to do with our culture! These have all been imposed on Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, etc., by religion and superstition, by the culture and tradition of patriarchy, by the force of guns and imprisonment, to serve and protect the exploitation of anti-woman systems!
Given all this, how can we ask millions of women, who every moment of their lives are exposed to and affected by all these mounting forms of oppression, to talk and negotiate with the main representatives of the perpetrators and source of all this rampant oppression? And beg them for a slice of equality?
How can we plead with those who arrest and whip young women and girls because they leave a few hairs hanging out of their veil?
How can we beg those who stone to death our sisters because they have had sexual relations outside marriage? To beg those who consider women just a means to fulfil men’s desire? To beg from those who punish women when they don’t abide by patriarchal/male chauvinist laws? From those whose laws allow trade in nine-year-old girls? From those who don’t recognize women’s right to divorce but allow men to have several official wives and dozens of unofficial ones at the same time? From those whose laws deprive homosexuals of their basic human rights and punish them with death if they are caught. From those...
Iranian women on the path to their liberation are facing one of the most vicious anti-women regimes in the world. Iranian women stood up against the 8 March 1979 decree enforcing compulsory wearing of the hijab by [Islamic Republic head Ayatollah] Khomeini, and by doing this they founded the new women’s movement in Iran that is continuing today.
Iranian women are involved in an unequal war against the anti-woman Islamic regime. For more than 37 years they have been resisting and struggling against the violence that is imposed on them in their homes, on the street and everywhere else by the medieval laws and code of punishment based on Islamic Sharia laws. We want you to hear our voice, the voice of our struggle, the struggle of Iranian women for liberation and equality, which is part of the worldwide struggle of women against the patriarchal imperialist-capitalist system.
Your support and assistance to the struggle of Iranian women will strengthen the women’s revolutionary struggle in the Middle East and will inspire and assist women’s struggle for liberation on a world scale.
The patriarchal imperialist powers, by launching invasions and wars of occupation in the Middle East, have impelled the fundamentalist forces against the people and instigated racist and fascist forces in the West against immigrants and Muslims. Conscious women must line up against all this oppression and crime and violence. We must create our own front of struggle against this, and expand it. The front of conscious and organised women, the front of struggle against all forms of violence, the front of struggle against all outmoded forces in the Middle East and all the racist forces in the West, the front of struggle against warmongering and military occupation, the front of struggle against all the patriarchal capitalist-imperialist powers that, in cooperation with Islamic and non-Islamic anti-woman forces, are spreading their hellish system all over the world.
In sum, the front of struggle against the fundamentalists and the patriarchal imperialist powers!
This is the line of demarcation, and based on that and based on unity and international solidarity, along with other revolutionary fighters, freedom lovers and progressive forces, we will organise our struggle to advance towards a world in which there is no sign of compulsory hijab, prostitution, rape and sexual harassment, domestic and social violence, female genital mutilation, the sex trade, poverty, war, refugees, slavery for capitalism, religion and superstition, men’s appropriation of women and not any form of oppression and exploitation.
A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world's Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Against a backdrop of intense calm in the ongoing crisis in Chicago, there was, and is, great necessity to put the struggle to STOP police murder and terror squarely back before all of society and to keep the police and their protectors in the ruling class on the defensive as they continue their genocidal agenda against Black and Brown people. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network Chicago put out a call to make March 2 a Day of Resistance to Stop Police Murder: Which Side Are You On? Indict all the Murdering Cops and All Those Who Are Part of the Cover-ups, Send Them All to Jail! Two major actions were called: Stolen Lives Families Demand Justice, a special event at noon; and later that day people gathered at a downtown location for another action: “No business as usual as long as the business of usual is cops killing people with impunity.”
In the wake of massive outrage and many protests after the release of the video last November of the police execution of Laquan McDonald, video after video and exposure after exposure opened a window onto the horrendous face and scope of wanton murder by police in Chicago. And it revealed the lies and cover-ups by all the institutions of local government—from the police to the mayor to the state’s attorney, to the police review board and more—who were complicit in these crimes. In response to the growing “crisis of confidence,” the powers that be tried to calm down the outrage with some minor reshaping and reshuffling of some positions of authority, bringing in “outside” investigations and promising various reforms and reform candidates.
But after all this there has been NO JUSTICE. They murdered Quintonio Legrier and Bettie Jones the day after Christmas. It’s been 500 days since Laquan’s murder, and only the killer cop was indicted. None of the cops, city authorities, etc. who aided and abetted and covered it all up have been indicted. And none of the cops in all the similar cases that have come to light have been charged with anything.
Chicago, Stolen Lives Families Demand Justice, March 2, 2016. Janet Cooksey, mother of Quintonio Legrier, at mic. Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution
Lunch hour in the State of Illinois building, downtown Chicago. The Chicago offices of the governor, attorney general, and other state offices occupy this 17-story building. All floors open over a very large sky-lit atrium in the center. At the very bottom is the concourse, which can be seen from all the floors above.
In the center of the concourse, more than 100 people faced a big Stolen Lives banner and family members of 10 people murdered by police. Many held pictures and posters of their loved ones. At the back of the audience was a bank of 10 TV and video cameras, recording the Stolen Lives Families Demand Justice special event. And behind the cameras, at the edge of the atrium, the state made a point of stationing eight state police and a police dog during the program. Assembled upstairs, at the main entrance to the building, was an intimidating force of dozens of Chicago Police Department bike cops.
“This is a crime scene! Chicago is a crime scene!... Body after body lying in the streets for hours... while cops stroll around and decide how to cover up their crimes!,”said the program’s emcee.“Today we have witnesses to these murders—families who have lost precious loved ones, and refuse to be silent!”
Speaking of the national epidemic of police murder, the emcee continued: “Indict, convict, send the killer cops and ALL those responsible for covering up those murders to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!”
The family members whose loved ones were murdered by Chicago police were Chantell Brooks, mother of Michael Westley, 15 years old, killed in 2013; Gloria Pinex, mother of Darius Pinex, 27 years old, killed in 2011; Janet Cooksey, mother of Quintonio Legrier, 19 years old, killed the day after Christmas in 2015; Lagina Kelly, sister of Christopher Kelly, killed in 2015; Darius Smith, brother of Jamaal Moore, 23 years old, killed in 2012; Octavia Mitchell, mother of Izael Jackson, murdered by police in 2010; “Godfather,” the father of Freddie Latrice Wilson, murdered in 2007. They were joined by LaToya and Alice Howell, mother and grandmother of Justus Howell, murdered by Zion, Illinois, police in 2015; Venus Anderson, mother of Christopher Anderson, killed by Highland Park, Illinois, police in a hospital room in 2014; and Andrea Irwin, mother of Tony Robinson, murdered by Madison, Wisconsin, police in 2015.
Everyone felt the moral and emotional weight of having all those families standing up and telling their stories together. Each one of these police murders is such an outrage, but hearing them at the same time painted a picture that was searing. Mothers were describing teenagers murdered by police: people shot in the back running away, people killed in routine traffic stops. The lies, the cover-ups, the demonizing of loved ones, the retaliation against the families for speaking out. And over and over, no justice... killer cops walk the streets.
The audience included all ages and different nationalities. Teachers and professors brought small groups of students including “at-risk” youth from one high school. People passing by were drawn into it. The cameramen reacted to it. There was the tremendous pain, and family members broke into tears and supported each other. But there was also something more: through all the pain was the courage of standing up and speaking out. The anger and the demand that this police murder and terror must stop, built through the event.
The Stolen Lives Families Demand Justice event was filmed by four local news stations and the CAN TV cable network, as well as by several independent filmmakers. A video will be posted at www.revcom.us when it is available. However, it is outrageous that very little of this comprehensive coverage of this unique and highly relevant and timely event actually made it into the local newscasts that day.
Some of the words of the parents capture the event:
Gloria Pinex, mother of Darius Pinex who was murdered in Chicago during a bogus “high risk” traffic stop over five years ago, said the only one at “high risk” was Darius. (See article on his case at www.revcom.us.) For the whole time there was a cover-up, including throughout a civil suit against the killer cop. A new civil trial has been ordered by the federal judge. But meantime the killer cop has still not been indicted. Gloria said that there were a lot of other mothers who weren’t there, but she would speak out for them: “No Justice, No Peace.” Her 16-year-old son Trevon read a poem he wrote about his brother Darius. “I’m holding on strong, trying to be a man. Why you had to leave me, I just don’t understand,” he said.
Chicago, Stolen Lives Families Demand Justice, March 2, 2016. Latoya Howell, mother of Justus Howell, at mic. Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution
LaToya Howell described how her 17-year-old son, Justus, was shot twice in the back in Zion, while running away from five cops who were chasing him. She went on to address people like those sitting in the food court: “I don’t understand how people go on with their daily lives as if this didn’t happen. ‘I’ve got to stick to my job, close my eyes, close my ears to this, I can’t get involved’... If your voice is not heard, KNOW that you are NOT part of the solution. If your voice is not heard, you are part of the problem. Speak out! Never hold your peace! Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell.”
Andrea Irwin is the mother of Tony Robinson, who was murdered by Madison, Wisconsin, police on March 6, 2015. He was shot seven times in the chest and face in 18 seconds. “Every person—if you think it’s not going to happen to you, next time around it CAN be you. It wasn’t me. Now it IS me. Don’t wait until you lose your loved one. This HAS to STOP! If you stand by and do nothing, you’re just as guilty as those who are doing the crime, period. You HAVE to stand up.”
Andrea went on, “We need people who’ve never been a part of this to stand up with us. Because there’s somebody next, somebody waiting in line to have their number called. And we’re going to... watch these people die. Please... make this system change. They NEED to see this, we NEED to take this to their front doors. They have to be held accountable for what they’re doing.”
Janet Cooksey, the mother of Quintonio Legrier, the Northern Illinois University honor roll student who was killed the day after Christmas in 2015, was passionate: “None of the police are paying for [these murders]; if they was, this wouldn’t continue to happen.” Referring to the fact that the pig who killed her son is now suing his family for his “emotional distress,” she said, “You kill my son and you want to be compensated for it? You have no conscience, no principles! And these are the people we have to go to... My son called 911 three times for help! The police officer shot him, and then the police officer tried to cover it up and say my son tried to hit him with a bat!
“Anita Alvarez [State’s Attorney for Cook County, Illinois] subpoenaed my son’s phone. What’s my son’s phone got to do with this? Everything’s about my son! What about this officer’s mental state? They said my son has mental health problems, what about that officer? They say my son had marijuana in his system. He’s a teenager!! What did that cop have in his system? Was HE drug tested? The police are not solving any problem. They ARE the problem...”
After Janet Cooksey finished speaking, Hank Brown, supporter of the RCP, read a quote from Bob Avakian ( BA) that spoke to everything that the families were testifying to:
There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.
The event also featured a very moving spoken word performance and everyone singing “Hell U Talmbout” (by Janelle Monáe)—saying the names of those killed in Chicago and around the country by police.
This event was forged in part through an hour-to-hour fight for a permit to hold it inside the Thompson Center, the seat of Illinois state government in Chicago. The political and legal battle in the current climate in Chicago and nationwide resulted not only in the permit being granted, but in focusing many more eyes on the Stolen Lives Families Demand Justice event. It garnered a lot of interest from the media calling to learn if the permit was granted.
The fight for the permit in particular drew forward several prominent community activists, ministers, professors, and attorneys, and influenced many others. On very short notice, the ACLU weighed in by sending a letter to the General Counsel for the State of Illinois Building. At the same time, it must be said that few such prominent individuals actually came to the event and stood with the families, permit or not. The fact that the permit was granted only one day before the event had a negative effect on a school on the South Side that canceled their plans to bring a busload of youths.
This march was small, but it was united, defiant, and spirited. The aim was to disrupt the evening rush hour to challenge people broadly to take a stand to STOP POLICE MURDER and indict all the murdering cops and everyone involved in the cover-ups.
Chicago, March 2. Photo: FJJ
Fifty people protested, mostly young, the majority Black, with a number of Latinos, Asians, and whites. About half had been out in the streets in recent months protesting against police murder. For the rest, many of them college students who came alone or with one friend, this was their first demonstration. Two Stolen Lives families, including Janet Cooksey, joined the protest.
Core people who had been at the noon event and revolutionaries agitated and forged a sense of purpose and unity to kick off this action. A large Stolen Lives banner led the way. Many people carried posters with the names and pictures of people murdered by the police. After the protesters had marched half a block, the police began brutally pushing them back to the sidewalk with their bicycles and cars while demanding everyone get out of the street or they would be arrested. The protesters took to the street again to peacefully block a row of buses, and again the police rammed into them with their bikes. This pattern was repeated over a number of blocks, with the police becoming more and more thuggish.
Two well-known revolutionaries were arrested, as were two other protesters who were thrown to the sidewalk and brutalized. A fifth person, not arrested, ended up in the hospital after being beaten by the police. Demonstrators were screaming at the cops, “You are murderers, you murder people and then you arrest the protesters!” Janet Cooksey said she was shocked and outraged by the violence of the police against the protesters. She said, “The police are out of control,” and she repeated what she had said at the Thompson Center earlier: “You have no conscience!”
This determined core of resisters and revolutionaries were part of challenging thousands of people during rush hour to stand with them to stop police murder. The statement by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Chicago Branch got out broadly: “Police Murder and Terror Must Stop Now. We Need a Whole New World. We Need Revolution, Nothing Less! Get Ready for the Time When Millions Can Be Led to Go for Revolution, All-Out, With a Real Chance to Win.” Many people wanted to know what all the commotion was about, why so many police and paddy wagons everywhere? They were grabbing for leaflets. They were informed that it was about stopping police terror and not allowing the city and police to get away with their crimes, and that we need a revolution.
At this action there were not the numbers or organized strength needed to disrupt business as usual in a massive way to impact many more people from all sections of society. A college student who had never protested before expressed the contradiction like this: “The spirit of the marchers was tremendously inspiring. It makes me want to work to get many more people out into the street to stop police murder.”
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Since early February, hundreds of students have gathered at seven campuses in California to hear Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor make the case for communist revolution and why they should dedicate their lives to revolution and the emancipation of humanity.
Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor at Berkeley High School.
In a lively and compelling way, Dix and Taylor challenged students to confront the horrors of the world around them—murder by police of Black and Brown people, rampant violence and degradation of women, ugly wars for empire, mass deportation of immigrants, and catastrophic destruction of the environment—and revealed the roots of this in the system of capitalism-imperialism. They brought alive how Bob Avakian (BA) has, through decades of work, brought forward a new synthesis of communism that puts the process of making revolution and emancipating humanity on a consistently scientific foundation, and how this changes everything in terms of humanity's ability to finally put an end to the long dark night in which humanity has been divided into masters and slaves. And they brought alive how Bob Avakian is actively leading the process of making revolution right now as the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.
Dix and Taylor opened up about their own lives, sharing how they first encountered the revolution and how BA's leadership—and sometimes BA himself—shaped their decisions to dedicate their lives to revolution and their development into communist leaders themselves. They challenged assumptions, took people out of their comfort zones, lifted people's sights, welcomed questions from every angle, and invited many into a process of learning more as they join together with others to change the world towards revolution right now.
As soon as the presentations ended, hands shot up in the air. How will this revolution deal with the mounting environmental crisis, is it even possible—under any system—to meet the needs of all humanity without destroying the Earth's ecosystems? Even with revolution, how are you going to end racism and sexism, aren't those deeply embedded in people? How can you talk about science if so much of it hinges on one person? Aren't you promoting BA in a “cultish” way? In your new socialist society, who gets to decide policies and what voices get heard? Will people have the freedom of religion? Isn't Bernie Sanders better than the others—shouldn't we support him and why don't you? Are you afraid of death? Is it really true that all porn is sexist? What are you doing today, and what should we do about all these things that are wrong right now? Is it really possible to defeat the armies of such a powerful empire? What about non-violence? What about all the reactionary, fundamentalist white people with guns? What, exactly, is Bob Avakian's new synthesis? What do you mean by science? Don't we need better democracy? What about people who don't agree with communism, will you relocate them after the revolution? Don't you need the market to motivate people to stimulate innovation? These, and other important questions, were explored and works of BA and the website revcom.us were promoted as ways to go deeper.
Students raised the lies they had been taught about how communist leaders had allegedly “killed millions.” Taylor and Dix set the record straight not only on the particular incidents being brought up, but also exposed the dishonesty of how the history of communist revolutions is taught in this society. They challenged students to dig into the truth themselves, to go to the thisiscommunism.org website and to engage the lessons and approach that BA has forged through deeply wrestling with the actual history of communism—both the tremendous achievements as well as the very real shortcomings and errors—precisely so that we can do better and go further in the new stage of communist revolution which is urgently needed now.
At Berkeley High, there was particular interest from students in the readings that Dix and Taylor shared from Bob Avakian's memoir. BA came of age in the era of the Civil Rights movement, during which time he attended Berkeley High. While most of the questions posed by Berkeley High students in the large group focused on the communist revolution, in informal conversations almost every student said that what stood out to them most was BA's personal stories about growing up at Berkeley High. Several Black students noted, with a certain heaviness, that the kind of same kind of social segregation and tracking of Black students into different academic paths than white students that BA described from 50 years ago still goes on. They were drawn to the way BA took seriously the lives and experiences of his Black friends, and his honest acknowledgement of how much he learned from them and how this shaped his whole life.
At Stanford, one of the most elite campuses in the country, as well as among many of the graduate students who attended the Tour elsewhere, Taylor and Dix repeatedly drew from and called on people to get into both the new work from BA, The Science, The Strategy, The Leadership for An Actual Revolution, And A Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation, and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) to more deeply address the big questions put on the table. The approach of Bob Avakian's new synthesis to the relations between a socialist state and the whole world revolution, the economic functioning and contradictions, questions of international trade, questions of how “out of the box” scientists or thinkers will have their ideas engaged and debated, why the Revolutionary Communist Party must continue to lead the new society but also why it must be challenged and the whole society led to be filled with great debates, ferment, and dissent in order to keep the whole thing advancing along the broad road to communism, and more was explored. Some of these highly intellectual students suggested that having such a Party leading was “elitist.” Others argued that in the real world only an intellectual elite could really rule and that it was “utopian” to aim to break down the division between those who have been trained to work with ideas and the vast majority on this planet who have been locked out of this.
Taylor and Dix brought alive the “5 Stops,” five key horrific concentrations of this system which people must be mobilized to STOP: police murder of Black and Brown people, oppression of women, attacks on immigrants, capitalist destruction of the environment, and wars for empire. The stakes confronting millions of people today on each of these faultines, as well as the connections between fighting these now and preparing for revolution, was put before students. Plans were discussed—and much more needs to be organized and mobilized—for a national student strike in April against police murder and terror.
After every program, Taylor, Dix, and members of the local or campus-based Revolution Clubs stuck around, wrestling with the highest aspirations and the biggest challenges in the thinking of the students. At two schools, groups were brought together within days to read together and discuss the first essay in BAsics, “Reform or Revolution—Questions of Morality, Questions of Orientation.” At other schools, meetings were pulled together and new recruits to the Revolution Club joined more experienced members in getting out on campus right away to spread the leadership of Bob Avakian and dive in deeper to studying it themselves. Everywhere this tour has been, the atmosphere and a section of people have been deeply impacted and transformed in significant—if beginning—ways. People were introduced to revcom.us and Revolution newspaper as the key organ to continue learning and acting together with others to make revolution.
There is much more to be learned from this, many new questions to be deeply engaged, and people to be organized to get much more deeply into the leadership of BA and to join in taking this out into the world at the same time as fighting to stop the many great crimes of this system. We will be covering more about these first stops—and future stops on this tour—in the pages of this website and newspaper.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
by Sunsara Taylor | March 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A very exciting part of the national campus recruiting tour being undertaken right now by Carl Dix, myself, and others is taking Bob Avakian’s leadership and new synthesis of communism to the students and teachers at Berkeley High. What makes this so special is that this is the high school that BA attended and which shaped him to a very great degree. If you read his memoir, you will see that Berkeley was not always the bastion of radical ideas and actions that it came to be known for. BA describes very movingly what it was like to go to high school as it was only recently desegregated, to form deep friendships with Black students he played sports with, hung out with, and formed singing groups with, and how this changed and shaped him in a profound and lasting way.
Another thing that is special about Berkeley High is that it has a really positive mix of different kinds of students. Children of professors and other high-powered intellectuals are mixed in with students who come from among the most oppressed sections of people, a mix of radical and progressive ideas and traditions with a great diversity of nationalities and life experiences. All this underscores why these students need to know about the life and example, and ongoing leadership for an actual revolution, that has been lived and is being provided by Bob Avakian, and step into the revolution that he is leading.
As part of bringing the Carl Dix/Sunsara Taylor tour to Berkeley High, we decided to make a huge poster with an enlargement of the image of BA and the words “Bob Avakian—The most radical revolutionary leader and scientist on the planet today went to Berkeley High! Learn more at RevCom.us.” We planned to take this outside the school to talk with students at the end of the day, let them know about Bob Avakian and get them into the real revolution.
One day, even before we got this big poster made, we went out to the school as it was letting out. A member of the Revolution Club agitated loudly as hundreds of students streamed by. “Do you know that the most radical revolutionary leader and scientist alive on the planet today came out of Berkeley High? His name is Bob Avakian—and he has forged a new synthesis of communism to emancipate humanity. He was shaped by Berkeley High, and if you want a world without police terror, without wars, without violence against women, you need to know about and get into Bob Avakian.”
Over 1,000 Berkeley High School students walked out November 5, 2015 to protest racist threats posted on school library computers. Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution
Many were intrigued. In the main, there were two kinds of groups of students who stopped. Clusters of Black students who were generally favorable towards the idea of revolution and were particularly concerned about racism and police brutality as well as other injustices. And clusters of white students who tended to be much more theoretical and abstract in how they came at questions of revolution, and more skeptical and sometimes even oppositional in their attitudes.
We approached several clusters of Black friends who we could see nodding approvingly to the agitation, going more deeply into the significance of BA and how special it is that he came out of the very school that they were now attending. We got into how many of the problems still facing oppressed people today—like racism and police terror and murder—were the very things that shaped him as he was coming up and which he has gone on to put his life in the service of ending. And, how, as he took this up he came to see this as connected to ending all other forms of oppression and exploitation—that affect women, immigrants, and people all over the world who are murdered and plundered by the U.S. military as well as the way capitalism is destroying our planet.
One young Black woman said, “I agree with all of that, and I like that you seem to be talking about actually doing something about it—not just talking about it.” She had learned about many of the things we were talking about in school, but didn’t see many people really fighting to totally stop them. Her friend added, “Yeah, all we’ve really done is one walkout, but now that is over.” She was referencing a walkout of about 800 students a couple months back, stemming from a racist incident on campus. BA has many times made the point that the masses of people often do not understand what they have accomplished when they do stand up, and I put this to these two young women, saying, “It was very important what you all did when you walked out! It changed how a lot of people think and shined a light on oppression and inspired a lot of people way beyond the students at this school. You should be very proud! But, then you also need to take responsibility to figure out what it will take to go forward, to make that part of a fight that can end ALL forms of oppression not only here but all over the world.”
They smiled broadly and we talked a bit more about how Bob Avakian never gave up on revolution because the problems in this world that cry out for revolution have never gotten better, and because he has done the work scientifically to identify the basis in the real world to end them, and what a difference it would make for them to learn about this more. Another Black student took extra fliers to get to his friends and said he had learned about and always been interested in the Black Panther Party and revolution, but didn’t really know much what it meant and thought this might be a way to learn more. Several of these students gave their phone numbers and email addresses to stay in touch and expressed interest in exploring setting up a Revolution Club on the campus.
As for the clusters of intellectual white students, some of them were clearly concerned about the world and injustices they see around them, but quite a few obviously felt a lot of distance between themselves and what people around the world are facing and whether or not it is really “their problem.” A group of about 15 of them were hanging around after most of the students had dispersed, waiting for rides, flirting with each other, and collectively taking turns seeing who could best rebut and/or dismiss us communists and the challenge we were putting to them.
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...
Two members of the Revolution Club were contending with a gaggle of these kids and at points would capture the interest of one or another, but then one of the students would loudly proclaim, “What you are talking about is completely unrealistic! It’s never going to happen... People won’t go along with that... The government will never let you get away with that! You can’t do what you are talking about, it all sounds great but it will never work.” Every time he’d say something, the Club members had a good answer, but the dynamic was hard to change. I had missed most of the beginning engagement, but after listening to this dismissal go on over and over, I challenged the main student putting it forward, “You know what you sound like?” His friends perked up and listened. “You sound like someone who has never studied physics, never studied engineering, never studied aerodynamics or the theory of gravity standing in front of a huge metal tube filled with hundreds of people saying, ‘There’s no way you are going to get that thing up in the air! It’s obviously impossible.’ In other words, you have absolutely no basis to say the things you are saying.”
People laughed and he was taken aback. For a minute he and his friends tried to press on, dismissing communism, but their arguments were made with less certainty and began to stall. After another minute, I leaned in to the one I had most directly challenged and said quietly, “You kind of agree with what I am saying, don’t you?” He nodded sheepishly and admitted, “Yeah.”
This didn’t win the students over to communism, but it did begin to change the dynamic of the discussion. They acknowledged that they would have to engage with the substance of BA’s work and measure it up against the actual reality of the world before having any basis to evaluate it. And some of them acknowledged that the substance of what his work is about—the emancipation of all humanity—was their responsibility to think about.
Still, this did not stop them—nor should it have stopped them—from throwing all kinds of questions and challenges at us. It became clear that at least one teacher in the school had been teaching about how Mao Zedong had allegedly “killed millions” because this—specifically the Great Leap Forward in China—came up independently from different students. One student brought this up and the whole group got puffed up again and pretty much accused us of denying and apologizing for a conscious human slaughter. Again, we had to tell the student who raised this that he didn’t have any idea what he was talking about. Before we could go further, he got incensed and started yelling, “How dare you say that to me? Why should I even talk to you if you call me an idiot. A minute ago, I was talking to her [gesturing to a member of the Club] and actually interested, but if you are going to insult me then I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” Patiently, but firmly, we explained that we were not making a global statement about his character, but we were responding specifically to his claim that “Mao killed millions” and if he wanted to know why, we thought that he should calm down and listen because it really matters. To his credit, he did calm down and ask, “OK, what happened during the Great Leap Forward?”
A member of the Revolution Club and myself got into the fact that famines had been incredibly common in the history of China and were one of the many reasons why a revolution was necessary in the first place. The Great Leap Forward was a plan developed by Mao to re-organize agriculture to meet the needs of the people of China for the first time for adequate food and to do so in a way that transformed the relations among the people to be more cooperative and liberating. However, several things came together during that effort that fed into a situation where millions did die of starvation. We got into the fact that the Soviet Union had lent blueprints, experts, technicians, tractors and other tools to the effort of re-organizing agriculture, but in the middle of the Great Leap Forward the Soviet Union—which had by then restored capitalism—pulled out its experts, blueprints, spare parts, and so on, which was incredibly disruptive to agricultural production.
On another level, there was one of the biggest droughts that had happened in 100 years and this drastically reduced the amount of food that was produced. And, on a third level, there were problems and shortcomings in the actual plan and approach led by Mao and the revolutionaries, largely owing to the fact that what they were doing was radically new. However, the one thing that was not at all a factor was some kind of vicious intent on the part of Mao to “kill millions” and, in fact, once it became clear that people were starving, Mao led the new socialist state to divert resources for the first time in Chinese history to reduce as much as possible the food shortage. Further, the very changes that were carried out through the Great Leap Forward contributed significantly to a situation where China was able to overcome—again for the first time in Chinese history—the food shortage problem and put an END to famines. We broke down how this was a significant part of taking life expectancy in China from 32 years old in 1949 when the revolution was made, to 65 years old in 1976 when the revolution was overthrown. All this is NOT what is taught and it is extremely important to understand, we argued, even as we want to go further and do even better next time around in making revolution.
By the time we had walked through all this, some of the friends had filtered away, but a core of them stuck around and the one who had been yelling passionately only minutes before was particularly serious and intrigued. He posed back, “So, my understanding is that socialism is a stage on the way to communism, but then in communism there isn’t a state. How does that work? How can you do things without any overall coordination?” We told him this was a great question and spent a bit of time working with him to understand that it is possible, when class divisions and oppression has been overcome, to have a government and administration without a state. A member of the Revolution Club gave the example of a pick-up game of basketball and how people all play together and don’t need someone enforcing the rules or penalties on them. They all know how the game works and that they have to play by the rules to all play together and have a good time. The student was positively impressed by this example, but then a friend chimed in and said, “But everyone wants to win! What is going to motivate people if you can’t get ahead?”
We stayed for a while longer with several of these students, with their friends filtering in and out and raising objections but then getting drawn into more serious engagement. Some clearly didn’t want to go there, but others were more open, and quite a few found themselves drawn in and interested in spite of their pre-conceptions. All this was invigorating for us revolutionaries as well as for the students.
We collected several more phone numbers and emails and made plans to follow up. As we walked back to Berkeley’s Revolution Books and discussed plans for more organized engagement with these students, we reflected on the very positive mix of students at that school and how strategic it will be to persevere in going back and forging an actual Revolution Club at this very special high school that BA came out of. We talked about the point in BA’s new work, The Science, the Strategy, the Leadership for an Actual Revolution, and a Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation, of how critical thinking, even when it is directed against us, is strategically favorable and how we should want and welcome this from students, but we also have a responsibility to engage it and lead people to transform their thinking so that they bring their intellectual skills into the service of the actual revolution that is needed and possible to emancipate all humanity. And, we reflected on the positive mix that BA describes in his memoir of a very intellectual atmosphere as well as a very diverse mix of students that made up Berkeley High years ago when he went there and which still very much characterizes the place. We are looking forward to, and have big plans to get back there several more times during this tour and in the weeks and months going forward.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor, as part the national campus tour “If you are serious about changing the world and want to know what a REAL revolution is,” went to Berkeley High, and spoke to about 200 students. Bob Avakian attended Berkeley High, and as BA goes into in his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, his experiences there, including meeting and becoming friends with Black students, played an important role in BA developing socially and politically, and ultimately becoming the revolutionary communist leader that he is today.
Berkeley High is the only public high school in Berkeley, and the student body draws from a very diverse population, ranging from the children of prominent and influential intellectuals, to recent immigrants, to Black students from oppressed neighborhoods. The same essential contradictions BA talks about in his memoir exist in Berkeley High today, more than 50 years later. Sharp contradictions remain over the academic success of Black vs. white students. And it is a place of ferment. In recent years, Berkeley High students have walked out of classes in support of the protests against police terrorizing Black people. And just last November, many hundreds of students walked out of school after learning of a racist threat made by a student against Black students.
In the days leading into the visit by Carl and Sunsara, copies of the “High School” chapter of BA’s memoir circulated among some teachers. One teacher plans to use the chapter in a class. Revolutionaries also passed out a flyer to students outside the school with the headline "Bob Avakian, the most radical revolutionary leader and scientist on the planet today, came out of Berkeley High," which urged people to learn more about BA and the revolution and get connected at www.revcom.us and which also included an excerpt from BA's new work, “The Science, the Strategy, the Leadership for an Actual Revolution, and a Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation.”
By the time Carl and Sunsara spoke in the class, teachers worked together to bring a total of nine classes totaling about 200 students who came over three different periods. Students came from history, African-American Studies, economics, and social studies classes. So Carl and Sunsara spoke to a new group of students each of the three periods. And students who wanted to get more seriously into things were invited to meet with Carl and Sunsara and the Revolution Club at lunch period, when a teacher made her classroom available for that.
Carl and Sunsara gave a powerful presentation which we will not try to sum up here, except to say that they talked about why the world cries out for revolution, how Bob Avakian has developed a new synthesis of communism, and what this means, and they called on students to step forward and join this revolution. One of the important points in the speech that students later said really moved them was when Carl and Sunsara read from BA’s memoir recounting his experience at Berkeley High. One story was about how many of the white students he went to school with in junior high questioned what he was doing by hanging out with the Black students. One guy said, “Why don’t you stick with your own kind,” to which BA said, “‘You mean like you?’ and that was the end of that conversation, and of any friendship between us.”
Another story was about discussions he had with some of the Black football players about racism, on a bus on the way to a football game, where BA writes that “I remember that very, very deeply–I learned a lot more in that one hour than I learned in many hours of classroom time, even from some of the better teachers.”
Every session after their presentation was filled with comments and questions from the students, some welcoming the revolution and asking more about it, some raising challenges and questions about communism and the new synthesis. To give a sense of the back and forth, here is some of what the students raised:
* You say the things we learn in class about communism are incorrect and you're giving a true representation. We've heard all the stats about communism and the facts speak the truth. The creator, Karl Marx, said the economic system is not governed and there has to be an elite leader. It often becomes a tyrannical dictatorship and it doesn't solve the problems, it creates more. It takes away freedom and rights. It happened over and over again. Other problems arise–literacy rates may go up and people can read propaganda. We don't have the perfect system. But millions died and oppression exists–there's extreme differences between people.
* Mao didn't really care about the people or maybe he was trying to care. He took half of what people were making. If you want a revolution to take off, you need to get up high in the media.
* How was the communism developed by BA different–what do you mean?
* When you talk about revolution and seizing power, what does that really look like? What are the practicalities?
* How many people are part of your revolution? What do you do?
* This was fascinating talking about revolution and seizing power. What does a revolution look like?
* What about economic problems? Isn’t there more innovation under capitalism? What about state-led enterprises?
* What do you plan to do to people who don't agree with communism? Do you force them out or relocate them?
* What is it about Bob Avakian and having a cult of personality?
* Racism and sexism–how would you deal with it? There's understanding institutional change–but what about individuals? You can’t legislate people’s beliefs and feelings. How do you change how people see the world?
* What is a scientific revolution?
* Can you elaborate on your plans for revolution? How are you going to go for a revolution?
Just the partial list of questions shows that bringing BA, revolution and the new synthesis of communism, as well as BA’s own formative life experiences, into the ferment at Berkeley High today sparked many questions, and some real controversy. And most importantly, among some students the challenge from Sunsara and Carl to join the revolution is being taken seriously. And it is also very good that among the teachers, some are very interested in the memoir and the life story of this extraordinary and precious revolutionary leader. Something very important opened up with this visit, and now we need to take it much further.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Recently Sunsara Taylor and Carl Dix spoke at a State University campus in California. Below a member of the Revolution Club reports on the work to build for this, and gives their impressions of the dialogue at the event.
We had done weeks of outreach, from club and class announcements, fliering to putting up posters, and people were talking about being interested in going to the event but not committing to it. Days before the event, it was announced that there would be a 40 percent cut to the Ethnic Studies department. This was a major blow to the students and faculty causing protest; and put a whole different attitude towards people’s perspectives on real change and progress.
We fliered at the protest and one of the original strikers from the battle for ethnic studies in '68 announced at the rally that a lot of people protested in the '60s but that what they didn't do then was make revolution and that revolution is what is needed and invited them to hear Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor at the upcoming event. The day of the event, there was a hip-hop and breakdance event at the plaza in support of the battle for Ethnic Studies. The original striker from '68 again called for students to go to the event with Sunsara Taylor and Carl Dix. Carl arrived; one of the people hosting the hip hop event asked Carl, "You are the speaker at the event right? You want to say something?" Carl spoke about fighting these same struggles in the '60s (how people shouldn't have to fight to learn this history, how it should be a given), how he doesn't want to live in a world where these same battles continue but actual creating a whole different world, the need for revolution and that there is a leader for that revolution, Bob Avakian, and also inviting people to dig into this by coming to the event.
Minutes before the event, members of the Revolution Club made an announcement about the event at one of the dining halls. We talked about the wars for empire and how one in three women will be raped in her lifetime saying, "That’s a billion women.” Three Muslim women came off of that. About 80 people came to the event and about 60 of them were students. It was a diverse group, people from the Black Liberation Movement, math majors, an Ethiopian student, a break dancer and a woman who recently arrived from China.
Everything that was said is not mentioned here but these are some of the key points given during the engagement as I recall them.
The questions were sharply posed by Sunsara and Carl, "Who are we to talk about a certain type of oppression if we ourselves have not experienced it?" Sunsara pointed out that it is important to know where it started, Carl even pointed out how it's important to operate from the framework of the place we are aiming for regardless of where we are at any given point in time (how that was BA's framework when he met him). Some of this came up in the question and answer where students asked, "Are you afraid of death?" "I've watched violent porn before and my friends still do but not all porn is like that so do you think all porn is sexist?" "What do you mean by BA looking at things from where we are going?" "Didn't previous revolutions get corrupted, doesn't power corrupt, is that human nature?" "Shouldn't we vote for Sanders; in regards to deportations can't he do better than Obama?"
Answers to these questions were very in depth. When asked, "Are you afraid of death?" Carl said that he thought about this when he was drafted to go to Vietnam and that he was more scared of becoming a mindless fighting machine for this empire than death. Sunsara said yes, all forms of porn are sexist because the portrayal of women has always been to dehumanize and degrade them. She says that nowhere in porn when a woman says NO! is that respected. She also talked about how in Bangladesh young girls are given hormones to develop and even if that is not what you see in everyday porn that is what is happening and this is what mainstream porn is causing. Sunsara, in regards to looking at things from what we are aiming for, talked about how in China, socialism was not reversed because “power corrupts” even though that is what most people are taught. Rather, there was a military coup that drove people back to capitalism. Additionally, there were mistakes made by the communists, e.g. not teaching enough Marxist theory and work towards a revolutionary road, and some in power thought it was a good idea to work with imperialist rulers. The person with the, "Are you afraid of death?" question participated in the, "Is that human nature?" question by saying humans are only born knowing how to suck and grasp everything else is taught by society. Sunsara said that was an important contribution but also that there is more to it than that, she talked about humans knowing how to organize themselves, and that people are taught through this system to only care about themselves but that in a socialist society, people's outlook changes and a "serve the people" ethos is adopted.
In the whole argument about voting for Sanders, Carl told people directly not to get played, that it’s not that the system needs your vote to do what they do but that they are going to do what the system needs to do. He gave the example that during the Vietnam War the U.S. imperialists had make a grand exit because soldiers were refusing orders and even at times killing their officers who tried to make them go out and fight a losing battle and because people here were protesting; promoting the need and righteousness of rebelling, going against business as usual. In regards to Obama being the commander and chief of deportations, he mentioned how Obama was going to be the president about positive change for immigrant people and yet he had deported more people than any other president so it’s not about who you vote for, its about what this system wants. The last point about why it is necessary to not vote for Sanders and not vote at all included letting students know that Sanders voted in support of the bombing of Gaza in 2014 by the Israeli military backed by the U.S. and that voting for him would not only grant your support of those types of horrors but also grant legitimacy to this illegitimate system.
Some people stayed for 3 1/2 hours. For those who left before the whole event was over, their comments ranged from enjoying how the speakers talked about different cultures, how they agreed with everything that the speakers said, one person didn't like how when one person in the revcom shirt would begin clapping others would follow which he felt gave the feeling of a “cult,” and the most necessary question at this point and time, “I liked everything that was said but how are we going to get more people involved?”
During the mingling time, mainly Black students and some Asian students stuck around. The discussion was aimed at the sex industry in different countries, how women have a different worth depending on where they are from, why people might have valid points but that is not the same as having the most accurate overall understanding, the analogy of Ebola was given to demonstrate how you want the answer that most corresponds to really treating the disease or problem, BA's comparing the pictures of the hanging to the depiction of women through porn, imagining a world without America (BAsics 3:1), how there are all these military bases across the world, the militarization of the border, the need for a Rev Club at this campus, being a part of building for the Stolen Lives tour and even having a stepping on the flag event when the Rev Club gets started because like Carl said during the tour, "We need a radical revolt against this revolting culture!"
Below are some of the comments left on the sign-up forms from the event:
23 yr. old student: I believe that we as people who are of different color, different gender, different ways on how we view the world need to come together in order to show people that the world ain't black and white—it’s made of many colors. The only way we can come together as a group is by communication, cooperation and positive attitude.
20 yr. old student: Really interesting! I really appreciate the different problems and perspective that was discussed.
18 yr. old student: Very moving!!
18 yr. old student: Thank you!
47yr. old student: I am with All of Us or None and Transgender Injustice Project
18 yr. old student: I've been a feminist and maybe a socialist since I was in high school in China. This meeting made me excited.
35 yr. old student: Looking to learn more. I agree with most of the lecture.
30 yr. old worker: I look forward to learn more about B.A.
20 yr. old student: The Communism and socialism part should be elaborated since the concepts are new to people to study in such a favorable point of view.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On March 2, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the most important abortion case in decades. How the court rules on this case will have life and death implications for millions of women, not just in Texas, but all over the country.
At issue in this case (Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt) is Texas law, House Bill 2 (HB2). Proponents of HB2 say it is about the health and safety of women. But this is a big LIE. This law has nothing to do with the protection of women. It will put women’s lives at risk. And in fact, HB2 was consciously designed to impose completely unnecessary restrictions on clinics in order to close them down and deny thousands of women the right to abortion. Shortly before HB2 was signed into law, Rick Perry who was governor of Texas then, spoke at an anti-abortion rally and said, “An ideal world is one without abortion. Until then, we will continue to pass laws to ensure that they are rare as possible.” And in July 2015, HB2 author, Texas State Representative, Jodie Laubenberg stated, “I am so proud that Texas always takes the lead in trying to turn back what started with Roe v. Wade.”
Without the right to abortion, women cannot determine for themselves when and whether they will bear a child, they cannot determine the course of their own lives. After tremendous struggle and in a situation of significant changes in the status of women in society, the legal right to abortion was won with the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision. But ever since then, attacks on abortion rights have been a major spearhead in tightening the chains of women’s oppression with enforced motherhood. This case—a lawsuit filed by The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRC) against the state of Texas on behalf of a coalition of abortion clinics, challenging HB2—is a crucial pivot point in whether the attacks on abortion and women will rapidly accelerate.
Many recognize the stakes in the battle around abortion, now being focused up in this court case. 2,000 people demonstrated on March 2 outside the courthouse to defend women’s right to abortion (see "March 2nd at the Supreme Court: Standing up for Women’s Lives" at www.revcom.us). And 45 amicus briefs were submitted arguing against HB2 and urging the court to uphold the right to abortion. The breadth of those who added their arguments to this case show how deeply this issue hits at the very fundamental question of a women’s right to play a full role in society: Medical experts and public health experts with scientific studies showing that abortion is safe and that these restrictions will harm women; dozens of prominent social science researchers offering data refuting Texas’ claim that these restrictions will further women’s health; clinic providers detailing the dire consequences for women who have been denied access to abortion because of clinic closures; testimony by women, including professional women, poor women, and Black and Latino women, who talk about how important it was for them to have the right to an abortion; LGBT activists; religious leaders; legal experts; economists; historians; members of Congress and others in the government; and 40 leading scientists, science educators, and skeptics speaking out against the use of pseudoscience in court.
Bob Avakian on the
Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution
“TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider) laws like HB2 are a big part of the strategy by anti-abortion forces to, in effect, take away women’s right to abortion—imposing severe restrictions on abortion on a state-by-state basis. In the past five years some 250 restrictions on abortion have been imposed across the country. If the highest court in the land upholds HB2, it will set a legal precedent and political green light for similar laws around the country being proposed; as well as TRAP laws already passed that have been legally challenged.
The two biggest restrictions imposed by HB2 are: 1) that every health care facility offering abortions must meet building specifications to essentially become ambulatory surgical centers, or ASCs; and 2) that doctors who provide abortion services must obtain admitting privileges at local hospitals no farther than 30 miles away from the clinic.
At the time HB2 was passed there were more than 40 facilities in Texas that provided abortions. As of October 2015, there were only 19. If HB2 goes into effect all but nine or ten abortion clinics will most likely be forced to close in a state that has 5.4 million women of reproductive age. It will mean that for 500 miles between San Antonio and the New Mexico border, there will not be a single clinic that provides abortions. It will force women to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion, or risk their health or even their lives with self-induced or "back-alley" abortions, or it will mean enforced motherhood.
There are real differences on the Supreme Court on the question of abortion. This reflects real divisions in the U.S. ruling class over how to maintain the coherence of U.S. society in the face of huge stresses and changes in society and the world—including significant changes in the status of women in the last century, particularly those hard-fought and won through the women's liberation struggle and the broader revolutionary upsurges of the 1960s and '70s. There are those mainly grouped around the Republicans who have been building up a fascist social base around the imposition of fundamentalist Christian beliefs and values, who want to enforce an aggressive patriarchal, white supremacist, fascist rule. On the other hand, there are sections of the ruling class who see it more in the interests of U.S. imperialism and its need to rule over the people, to uphold formal bourgeois democratic rights and have a certain liberal inclusiveness of different sections in society, including minorities, gay people, etc. This growing and intensifying split in the U.S. ruling class is reflected in the sharp differences on the court over this case.
Four justices (Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Breyer) voiced the view that the restrictions imposed HB2 serve no medical purpose, would place an undue burden on women trying to get abortions and were therefore unconstitutional. The three conservative justices, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts have a whole history of being clearly and aggressively anti-abortion. Kennedy is considered a “swing vote” who could side with the four justices against HB2.
Attorney Stephanie Toti representing the CRC argued that the restrictions of HB2 are completely unnecessary and will have the effect of denying thousands of women their constitutionally protected right to abortion. As the CRC brief shows, there is no need for the clinics to be upgraded to ambulatory surgical centers; these clinics do not require the size, layout or equipment of such centers. And doctors at these clinics do NOT need local admitting privileges since a woman who may end up going to a local hospital would be put under the care of a doctor there. Furthermore, as the CRC brief states, “The impact of these closures has been dire, delaying many women—and preventing others—from obtaining a legal abortion. This, in turn, has led to an increase in abortions later in pregnancy and in illegal abortions."
Facts that exposed the big lie that HB2 is about the health and safety of women came out in the hearing. For example, medical procedures that are much more complicated than abortions, like colonoscopies (28 times more dangerous than a pre-viability abortion) and liposuctions (30 times more dangerous than an abortion) are done in facilities that don’t have requirements stipulated by HB2. And some of the requirements are completely ludicrous. For example, hallways must be eight feet wide to allow two hospital beds to pass each other. And this would be required even in abortion clinics that only provide medication abortions, where no surgeries are performed, where there are no hospital beds that need to pass through hallways.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly and increasingly expanded the scope and basis upon which restrictions can be placed on the right to abortion. When the court heard the last major abortion case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in 1992, its ruling was a major attack on abortion rights. It ruled that states could restrict abortion at all stages of pregnancy (through mandatory counseling, mandatory waiting periods, parental consent laws, etc.) and that abortion could be restricted for reasons other than women's safety. And the court ruled that those proposing restrictions would no longer be required to prove a “compelling state interest.” Instead, those challenging the new restrictions would be required to prove that the restrictions placed an “undue burden” on women's access to their rights. This question of “undue burden” is a central issue in the current Texas HB2 case. Two things need to be said about this “undue burden.”
First, within the legal framework of this “undue burden” standard, it is crystal clear that the completely unnecessary restrictions imposed by HB2 do in fact place a HUGE burden on women trying to get an abortion. Before HB2, there were more than 40 facilities across the state that provided abortions. By October 2015, 21 of these clinics had been forced to close. This has led to a situation where: In 2012, fewer than 100,000 Texas women lived over 150 miles from a provider, and only 10,000 lived more than 200 miles away; But now 900,000 women in Texas live farther than 150 miles from an abortion provider, and 750,000 live farther than 200 miles. And this has very dire consequences—it means more women will die of complications from self-induced abortions.
But even more importantly, we should recognize how this “undue burden” legal standard has actually been used as a club to attack and take away women’s right to abortion. For decades now, the anti-abortion forces have been on a huge offensive—with their strategy of pushing through hundreds of restrictions on abortion, state by state. And those challenging these laws in court are the ones who are then put on the defensive—having to prove these restrictions are an “undue burden.” A fundamental right is being impaired and impeded and then the onus of proving this is put on the people who are being denied this right. This would be like if a local ordinance was passed that explicitly gave white homeowners the right to refuse to sell their homes to Black people and then a court ruled that, in order to contest this law, Black people had to show this was an “undue burden” to getting a home.
The right to abortion should be a fundamental right for women: ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY. And there should be NO “burden” at all to getting one.
The LIE that HB2 is about women’s health and safety must be exposed. Like hundreds of other restrictions being imposed on abortion across the country it is designed to shut down clinics, to deny women the right to abortion. The anti-abortion forces have celebrated when clinics have been forced to close due to restrictions imposed by HB2.
This law aims to close more than 75 percent of all women’s health clinics that provide abortion services in the state—which will mean more women will suffer, will be subjected to enforced motherhood, will perhaps end up maimed or dead from desperate self-induced abortions.
If the court rules 4-4, the 5th Circuit's ruling (that overturned a decision to block the law) will remain in effect, and the law will stand. This will mean 9 or 10 clinics in Texas will close and many women will have to travel hundreds of miles to get an abortion—or resort to drastic, perhaps illegal, desperate and even fatal measures. If the court rules 5-3 to strike down the law, this would set a legal precedent and provide abortion-rights supporters with a defense against restrictions on abortion. The court could also remand the case, sending it back to Texas with further questions and the possibility of the court hearing it at a later date.
The legal right to abortion was not “granted” by the Supreme Court—it was won through massive and determined struggle. And while it is extremely important that there be a fierce fight in the courts to protect and expand the legal right to abortion, the people cannot rely on the courts to beat back the vicious and ongoing attacks by the anti-abortion/anti-women forces. The most decisive factor in defeating the attacks on abortion—including how the courts rule on restrictions like HB2—is through building massive and society-wide resistance, fighting for abortion on demand and without apology.
Women’s lives ARE at stake. Without the basic right to abortion, women cannot determine for themselves when and whether they will become a parent, and they cannot determine the course of their own lives. Without this right, women cannot be free—they are reduced to the status of breeders and incubators. But women are HUMAN BEINGS, capable of participating in EVERY realm of society. Women’s lives and bodies are NOT the property of the state, and a court of law should not be allowed to take away a woman’s basic humanity!
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 2nd at the Supreme Court
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
March 2 at the Supreme Court. Photo: Terry Kass
On March 2, passions ran high on the plaza in front of the Supreme Court as about 2,000 people came together to cheer, chant, intently listen, and sometimes break into tears as speaker after speaker spoke to what the court case being argued inside was all about: women’s lives, their aspirations, hopes, and dreams. This was the biggest protest to defend the right to abortion in many, many years.
The speakers and participants had come to D.C. to oppose HB2, the cruel Texas law that forced more than half the 41 abortion clinics in the state to close after it was passed by the legislature in 2013, and which will force at least nine more to close if all of HB2’s provisions are upheld. This would leave the huge state of Texas with only 10 or fewer clinics, concentrated in metropolitan areas. Women in more rural areas, including the Rio Grande Valley, many of whom are low-income and Chicana or Mexican immigrants, will be—and already are—its main victims. The Court’s decision will have an impact on many other states, as well, which have already passed their own versions of these TRAP (Targeted Restrictions on Abortion Providers) laws. The decision is expected to be announced in early June or before. (See “Abortion Rights Emergency: Federal Court Ruling Leaves Only ONE Abortion Clinic in Louisiana; Crucial Supreme Court Ruling on March 2.”)
The speakers included abortion providers, clinic owners, students, artists, activists, and representatives of national abortion rights organizations. An abortion provider, a student, and an artist/activist told their abortion stories, without shame, and gave deep appreciation to their abortion providers for allowing them to determine their own fate. A clinic owner was moved to tears at the turnout, expressing the isolation many abortion providers feel in such a vicious climate, and she recounted the devastation she felt when she had to turn away a desperate woman seeking an abortion after the clinic was forced to shut down as a result of laws requiring clinics to meet restrictive requirements like the Texas law HB2 being heard inside the Court. Over and over again, people were reminded by the speakers that this fight really is about the lives and futures of women.
March 2, at the Supreme Court. Photo: Jo Freeman
Most in the crowd were women, a number from the generations before abortion became legal in the U.S. by the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973. “I fought for abortion, before Roe,” one said. “I never expected to be in this situation again.” Many others were those who hadn’t known a time when abortion hadn’t been available and accessible. “Our generation has seen this as a given—until now,” one young woman said. “Now we see that if we don’t fight for this, we may lose it.”
The rally had been called by the Center for Reproductive Rights, which has spearheaded the legal challenges to HB2 and other restrictive anti-abortion laws. They and other national reproductive rights organizations chartered buses from New York City—and individuals carpooled from nearby areas as well as more distant states, including Ohio and Illinois. Signs supporting Whole Woman’s Health, the group of Texas clinics that has led the legal fight, and posters with the state of Texas and the words “Keep Abortion Safe, Legal and Accessible,” were prominent, and there were many homemade signs declaring in different ways that women’s bodies must be off limits to government (and other) interference. In opposition to how the New York Times pictured the scene outside the Court, with a large photo of an anti-abortion woman on the front page and what appeared to be two equal sides facing off, the number of anti-abortion protestors was dwarfed by the pro-woman, pro-choice side.
Stop Patriarchy was on the scene, uniting with everyone standing up against HB2 and to bring the fight for abortion rights and women’s lives to an even higher level, organizing people to continue on in this fight, as part of fighting for the full liberation of women. Many people gathered around Stop Patriarchy’s “Abortion Providers Are Heroes” banner and added their names and heartfelt messages to it. The NYC Revolution Club brought out the need for revolution and communism, and making the struggle for abortion rights part of fighting the power and transforming the people, for an actual revolution. They distributed many hundreds of palm cards with Bob Avakian’s “Unbelievable as it may seem...” quote and the sampler edition of Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution.
This abortion rights emergency has gotten to the point where the reality that we are losing this battle and that something must be done to change things is starkly staring people in the face, and many we spoke to were drawn to getting more into what BA says about the possibility for real revolution.
The rally was an important step in drawing forward visible mass resistance to the attacks on abortion, and much more is needed in the coming months and beyond.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
February 29, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On February 24, the Fifth Circuit Court, a federal court, ruled against granting a temporary block against a “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider) law. This went into effect immediately, closing three out of the four remaining abortion clinics in the entire state of Louisiana. The ENTIRE state of Louisiana now has only ONE abortion clinic, which in reality means that many, many women in Louisiana can’t get abortions: women who do not have the means to travel, the ability to take the time off of work for the mandatory waiting period the state requires of women, or the money to pay for the procedure.
Several weeks before this ruling, another abortion clinic had to close down, and the one clinic that remains open, in New Orleans, was already struggling to set up appointments with everyone from that clinic that needed an abortion. Women were already being put in a situation where they were being forced to have unwanted babies, or perhaps deciding to take their lives into their own hands by attempting to self-abort, which can be fatal. It needs to be stated, repeatedly, that without abortion rights, and without access to safe and legal abortion care, women have no more rights than a slave. Forced motherhood is female enslavement.
Defending abortion rights at the Supreme Court, Washington, DC, January 22, 2016. Photo: Revolution/revcom.us
Ever since the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in 1973, anti-woman, anti-abortion forces have been trying to deny women the right to abortion. Part of their strategy has been to END or severely restrict access to abortion on a state-by-state basis. And these TRAP laws are a big part of this. The anti-abortion forces behind these laws that are passing (at an alarming rate) argue that they are about the health and safety of women. But this is an outright murderous lie! For example, there are TRAP laws that require abortion clinics to be turned into Ambulatory Surgical Centers (basically emergency rooms) which require them to have hallways that are a certain width, that certain drugs be available, that special med-gas systems be installed, etc. But abortion is an extremely safe procedure, and there is NO medical need for these things. These types of requirements can cost abortion providers millions of dollars, and so clinics who cannot afford to make such unnecessary renovations have been forced to shut down.
Equally ludicrous are TRAP laws that say doctors working in abortion clinics must have admitting privileges at a local hospital in order to be able to see patients there. First of all, among the few heroic doctors who do provide abortions, many travel to several clinics and may not live in the same state as these clinics—which disqualifies them from obtaining admitting privileges at a hospital local to the abortion clinic. And admitting privileges for these doctors is completely unnecessary anyway since doctors at the local hospitals would be the ones caring for any patient brought in from the abortion clinics.
The outcome of these current legal assaults on women’s right to abortion will have huge repercussions on the entire South—as well as the whole United States. And this ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court comes one week before the most important Supreme Court abortion case in decades.
On March 2, the U.S .Supreme Court is set to hear the case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a case from Texas dealing with a law similar to the TRAP laws in Louisiana. In 2011, Texas had 41 abortion clinics, and about half of those clinics were forced to shut down in 2013 due to a TRAP law with four parts. It requires doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles; it has a 20-week abortion ban (some exceptions for life-threatening conditions, but NO exceptions in the case of rape); it requires all abortion facilities (even those that only use the abortion pill) be Ambulatory Surgical Centers; and it restricts how the abortion pill is given.
If this Texas law is allowed to stand, whether through an actual decision by the Supreme Court or through a 4-4 tie vote, this will give the green light to many more states in the South that have these types of laws pending, and it will pave the way for even more legislation in other states throughout the entire U.S. to broaden and continue this tsunami of abortion clinic closures. After the clinic closures in Texas, women from Texas who had the means (or were able to frantically gather the means) to travel went to other states—including Louisiana!—to get abortions. But if the Supreme Court on March 2 does not rule in a way that very clearly and sweepingly is in favor of the abortion clinics, these TRAP laws will go into effect, clinics will be forced to close down, and this will mean that there really won’t be much of anywhere in the South for women to go to if they need an abortion. Consider the number of states that would have abortion clinic closures: Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. These states are all bordering on each other; you could draw a single line through them on a map, and they represent a large part of the southern part of the U.S.!
Bloody pants and chains symbolize women who die or are enslaved when safe legal abortion is not available. Photo: Revolution/revcom.us
Sunsara Taylor with image of Bob Avakian—total revolution against all oppression. Photo: Revolution/revcom.us
Without the basic right of this safe medical procedure, women cannot determine for themselves when and whether they will become a parent, and they cannot determine the course of their own lives. Women’s role in society should NOT be determined solely by their biological ability to reproduce, women are NOT breeders or incubators; they are HUMAN BEINGS who are capable of participating in EVERY realm of society. Women’s lives and bodies are NOT the property of the state, and whether women are treated as state-mandated incubators should NEVER be up for a vote. A court of law should not be allowed to take away women’s basic humanity!
Ultimately a revolution and NOTHING LESS is needed to put an end to the oppression of women. As an important part of this, the RCP’s Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America guarantees that all women will have abortion rights, and birth control would be provided on demand and without apology! Scientific information about the abortion procedure, birth control, and sexual education will be made readily available. This kind of society would aim to unleash and enlist all kinds of people, including women—half of humanity—to play a full role in the total transformation of society, on the road to emancipating all of humanity.
All those who want to see women liberated and humanity emancipated need to recognize that this Supreme Court case is a crucial pivot point in whether the attacks on abortion and women will very rapidly accelerate. And this has huge implications for the lives of women, for their ability to play a full role in society, including being unleashed as a mighty force for revolution.
The right to abortion in the United States came about only after tremendous mass struggle. And it is going to take massive, uncompromising struggle to beat back the anti-abortion, anti-woman attacks that are increasingly consigning women to enforced motherhood—which is nothing less than female enslavement. Only through truly massive, independent political struggle do we stand a chance at defeating the truly unyielding and powerful anti-abortion forces. But they can be defeated. As Sunsara Taylor said, “Forced motherhood is deeply opposed to the interests of humanity. If we get out there and tell the truth, if we resist, if we clarify the stakes of this battle, and if we mobilize wave upon wave of the masses to get off the sidelines and into the streets with us, we can win. There is a tremendous reservoir of people who can and must be called forth to join in this struggle.”
Stop Patriarchy has put out an URGENT CALL for people to stand up for abortion rights and to be in Washington, DC on March 2. It will matter if people are in the streets at the Supreme Court and it will matter if others around the country organize different actions to speak out about this abortion rights emergency. We cannot rely on ruling class politicians to reverse the anti-abortion tide. We must be in the streets and wage massive, public, uncompromising political resistance to STOP THIS WAR ON WOMEN.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
Interview with Ashley Williams
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
Editors’ note: In 1996, when campaigning for Bill Clinton’s re-election, Hillary Clinton said: “They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of kids that are called superpredators. No conscience. No empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way, but first we have to bring them to heel.” Activist Ashley Williams confronted Hillary Clinton with this quote at a fundraising event on February 24. Revolution talked to her about why she did that.
Revolution: Why did you confront Hillary Clinton about her statement?
Ashley Williams: I thought it was important to talk to her about that because I’ve seen the effects of mass incarceration in my own community. And in my opinion, Hillary Clinton has had a legacy of courting Black voters and selling out Black communities. And so I wanted her to explain her record to us, and I wanted an apology for mass incarceration.
Revolution: Referring to them as “superpredators” and then using the literally dehumanizing term of bringing them to “heel.”
Ashley Williams: Yeah, that language, you know, even if she didn’t say Black youth or youth of color explicitly, that language is right in line with the language of today and the language being used currently to kind of pathologize that in the bodies of youth of color and Black youth. So it’s just very interesting to me that she’s going to Black communities and other communities asking for support while she continues to make decisions that continue to marginalize us. I think it’s inconsistent and I think the voters really need to wake up.
Revolution: I don’t know if you caught this, but Bill Maher, the comedian who hosts a show on HBO, attacked you. Did you see this?
Ashley Williams: Yeah, I saw it.
Revolution: I think it is fair to characterize his attack by saying he cited some poll that showed that 20 percent of Donald Trump’s supporters in some state were actually against the Emancipation Proclamation. And then on that basis said that it’s nuts and even worse what you did to call out Hillary Clinton. And I wanted to get your thoughts on that, that in the face of an overt white supremacist, fascist program we have to be silent on the kinds of things Hillary said, that you called her out on.
Ashley Williams: Yeah, I saw it. I think it’s kind of insulting to voters and also people who are affected by both overt and covert kinds of racism and white supremacy. It is not that we cannot be critical about Hillary Clinton and about Donald Trump in terms of white supremacy that I think he represents. I know for me, I can’t afford to have Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump be president. So I want to be allowed to have that affirmed, I want to be allowed to say that. And I want people to understand what I mean. And I think that folks who don’t understand what it’s like to be so marginalized by overt and covert types of racism, they don’t understand what’s at stake if Hillary gets the presidency or gets the Democratic nomination. Like Black people believe that it’s a different kind of image, but the image is still the same. It’s a different kind of horror, but a horror still the same. And I need for people to understand that.
Revolution: I expect you knew you were gonna get a lot of flack from this, not just or even in this particular case mainly from Trump and his fascists, but from liberals, just to be frank, right? I’m coming from the need for revolution, but I think people of conscience more broadly can appreciate the importance of telling the truth and not fitting that into “acceptable choices.” So I was wondering what gave you the courage to go up in the face of whatever flack you anticipated you might get?
Ashley Williams: I have to say first that even through all the negative things, I felt very supported. Especially by my community here in Charlotte. I felt empowered, and I felt like I was ultimately doing the right thing and in the right way. And there isn’t anything that I would’ve changed about what I did. I have to say, though, that I believe that the negative criticisms that I’ve received are from people who again don’t understand the kind of covert racism that I think Hillary Clinton represents, as well as her campaign. And I think that people don’t really understand what the situation is for Blacks. And when I’m saying Black, I mean, you know, affected by people like Donald Trump and by people like Hillary Clinton. And so I hope that all the voters and everyone who’s paying attention is thinking critically about people’s records and about what people have stood for and currently stand for. ’Cause I think that’s what it’s really about.
Revolution: There are people who don’t understand the kind of police terror and mass incarceration and million other forms of white supremacy that Black people face, and also there is a question of whether people are willing to confront that. I think that speaks to the importance of what you did—to push people out of their comfort zones. Because that’s so needed.
Ashley Williams: Thank you.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump has been storming across the country unleashing a wave of hatred against oppressed nationalities, women, and immigrants. This is disgusting and should outrage anyone with an ounce of humanity. At almost every one of Trump’s rallies there have been courageous actions by groups and individuals who have stepped into the lion’s den facing violence by Trump’s supporters. Here are just some of the protests against Trump’s agenda:
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
Jacqueline Salyers (Courtesy Family of Jacqueline Salyers)
Unarmed Native Woman Murdered by Tacoma Police
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
On March 16, people in Tacoma, Washington, plan to rally for justice for Native woman Jacqueline “Jackie” Salyers. She was murdered by Tacoma police on January 28. Jackie was a 33-year-old mother of four and a member of the Puyallup tribe. She was pregnant when she was killed. She was very loved, and her family, friends, and community are devastated.
Police say they had warrants for Kenneth Wright, Jr. and saw him in the passenger seat (with Jackie Salyers in the driver’s seat) of a parked car, so they got out of their own car and approached. Then, according to an official police spokesperson, “The driver stepped on the gas, and accelerated toward the officers. One of the officers fired at and hit the driver.” They say Wright was armed and fled.
News photographs of the car show bullet holes in the passenger side of the front windshield, both driver and passenger side windows shattered, and a bullet exit hole in the driver-side door. If the car was actually coming at a cop standing in front of it and in danger of being run over, the cop would have fired at the driver, and the bullet holes would be in the driver’s side of the front windshield. The holes being on the passenger side front windshield instead indicates that cop was standing ahead of, but off to the side of, the car (and so not in danger of being hit by the car), so that the bullet entered at the passenger side of the front windshield and angled across and hit Jackie Salyers and not Wright. Also, family members state that when dressing Jackie for burial, they found she was shot in the right side of the temple.
We’ve seen over and over again how cops claim they “feared for their lives” to justify murdering people. You can read at www.revcom.us, for example, two other cases where police claimed they were endangered by people in their cars and killed them—in two different cities in July last year: Samuel DuBose, a Black man murdered by Cincinnati cops, and Zachary Hammond, a white youth murdered by Seneca, South Carolina, police.
A February 10 Indian Country Today article quotes James Rideout, uncle of Jackie Salyers, as saying: “After shooting Jackie, the officers disrespected her body. Witnesses told me they took her out of the car, dragged her to the curb, put her in a police car, drove her a short distance away and dragged her out again onto the pavement. She must have died sometime during all this. The people who spoke to me found this extremely painful.”
Jackie’s family had previously reported Kenneth Wright, Jr. to the police for domestic violence. James Rideout said, “Jackie was a domestic violence survivor. The police should have known that if she was with Wright, she was already a victim.”
A February 15 article in Indian Country Today quotes Jackie’s grandmother, Darlene Salyers: “I’m going to be 75, and I’ve never been watched by the police in my whole life. However, after the funeral, we were getting out of the car in front of my apartment building. A police car drove by, and the driver honked his horn and kept on going. It brought back old memories of my son being murdered 30 years ago. Fear of the consequences of testifying meant the truth never came out. I worry that will happen again. Will witnesses be afraid to testify about what happened to Jackie?”
Other murders by police in Washington State reported in Revolution newspaper include Che Taylor who was gunned down in Seattle on February 21, Daniel Covarrubias in Lakewood, and Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco. Police killed 23 people in Washington State in 2015.
Police terror plays a key part in the slow genocide against Black people and the oppression of Latino people, and there is the whole history in the U.S. of genocide of Native Americans and their continuing oppression. As Lanna Covarrubias, sister of Daniel Covarrubias of the Suquamish tribe, said last October: “Native Americans are killed at the highest rate because we’re the smallest population, but no matter what race you are, nobody deserves to be murdered. We all deserve due process. My brother was a descendant of Chief Seattle. I say that not because his life is any more valuable than any of the other victims, but because it’s a reminder this genocide is still happening and the modern day lynchings continue to happen today. It’s just hidden behind the justice system as legal discrimination.” (“Seattle Send-Off for Families Going to NYC for Rise Up October“)
Nationwide people are rising up to stop police terror! And on March 16 people will be standing up in Tacoma.
Photo taken by a bystander showing Jackie's body dumped on the road, after she had been put in a police car and driven a short distance from where she was shot. (Courtesy Family of Jacqueline Salyers)
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
March 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
The headline of an article Tuesday, March 1, in the Washington Post read: “‘They stood over him and watched him die:’ Outrage in Montgomery, Alabama, after white officer kills black man.” The article was about the police murder of Gregory Gunn, a 59-year-old Black man, as he was walking to his mother’s house. There truly IS outrage among different sections of Black people—which grew to a crescendo with a confrontation at city hall the day before.
Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution
There, confronting Gregory’s family, neighbors, Black Lives Matter activists, and elected officials (who have been protesting for days), was Montgomery’s white mayor and their newly recruited [from Atlanta] Black police chief. Gregory’s younger brother Franklin asked for five minutes of silence and reflection, and then with the tears flowing, cried that “had my brother been given five minutes [by the police], none of us would be here!” What was unusual was that this was covered at length, live on local TV, with the whole city watching what was playing out, knowing that the mayor, Todd Strange, had just returned back to the city, forced to cut short his vacation.
Franklin angrily demanded answers from the police chief and the mayor, making it clear he did not trust them to get to the bottom of why his brother was shot. “I know he was racially profiled. He was Black. That was the only thing suspicious about him. They thought he was a low-life nothing, walking the street. They didn’t see a man. They didn’t see a Black man. They saw somebody who needed to die, and they executed him. Now they are trying to cover it up.” (Franklin Gunn’s comments are from the Washington Post, March 1)
At one point after the mayor had asked “what would you have me do?” Franklin asked that both of them resign.
There is a precedent for this which is fresh in the minds of everyone: “In 1975, Montgomery police officers shot an African American man named Bernard Whitehurst, mistakenly believing he was the suspect in the robbery of a grocery store. Officers then reportedly planted a gun on him and claimed he had fired shots. The shooting death ignited a scandal that roiled the city, ultimately causing the resignation of the mayor and police chief. Last year, Montgomery officials erected a marker in Whitehurst’s name on the street where he was gunned down, and formally apologized.” (Los Angeles Times, March 2)
As soon as the press conference at city hall ended, residents began gathering at a strip mall next to the historic City of St. Jude Hospital, which has been converted to apartments for low-income families. This is where, in 1965, 2,000 participants of the Selma-to-Montgomery March found shelter, and where the night before the final march to the capital, marchers who slept on the athletic field held a “Stars of Freedom Rally” (featuring such celebrities as Odetta, Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger, Leonard Bernstein, Peter, Paul and Mary, Tony Bennett, Joan Baez and Nina Simone).
The crowd of about 100 people gathered were from the neighborhood, sitting on cars and looking to the dozen young people on the sidewalk carrying two signs: “Black Lives Matter” and “No Justice, No Peace.” Young women and men saw the Stolen Lives poster, grabbed all the ones I had, scrutinizing all the faces and names, one woman (almost disbelievingly) calling out to her friends: “You mean the police murdered this 92-year-old woman (Kathryn Johnston from Atlanta)!?!” They had never seen Revolution newspaper before but grabbed all of the back issues I had with me of the racist poisoning of Flint, Michigan, on the cover.
Then began a rowdy march down the middle of Fairview Avenue, with a number of marchers holding high Revolution, and some having taped the Stolen Lives posters to their placards, chanting, “No Justice, No Peace, No Racist Police.” Black people in cars and trucks backed up, joyously honking their horns and grabbing the promo cards. Disappointingly, if predictably, every white person rolled up their windows, staring straight ahead like horses with blinders on. As we rounded a corner nearing the Gunn family home, many of the neighbors in Mobile Heights began to come out, as did Mrs. Gunn herself and her extended family, somberly and silently looking on.
Jamel Brown, a local leader of BLM, angrily denounced the cowardly shooting of Gregory, and called out the silence of the authorities: “Gregory was shot twice in the back and then when he fell, shot three more times in the front. Mrs. Gunn is in her 80s, lived here for 60 years, Gregory all his life. Everybody but A.C. Smith (the white cop) knows this family. When she was awakened in the early morn hearing her son cry out for help, hearing the gunshots, she rushed to her son, only to have the police block her, rudely ordering her back into her own house.”
Next, a neighbor who lives across the street (and was a witness that night) addressed the gathering: “I am an activist working among the youth in the neighborhood to stop Black on Black crime. I can no longer do such work when the police are now coming in and killing us.”
As the rally ended, plans were announced to take the fight for justice far and wide, including to Selma this week, where thousands of people come from everywhere each year to mark the anniversary of the 1965 Civil Rights March.
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
Reporter's Notebook from Flint Part One
by Alan Goodman | February 29, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
In the few days I was able to spend recently in Flint, Michigan, I encountered people from many walks of life whose lives have been upended by revelations that the water they had been drinking, serving to their customers, or mixing with their babies’ formula had been poisoned by lead in the water supply system.
On many blocks of Flint's North Side ghetto, abandoned houses outnumber inhabited ones. Here a house has "RIP" for three different people whose lives were stolen too young—"expendable people" in the eyes of this system.
Photo: Special to Revolution/revcom.us
There is widespread outrage that the authorities made one decision after another in reckless disregard for people’s lives. Government officials denied the danger, and ridiculed and marginalized those who were exposing what was going on until it was no longer possible to sweep the crisis under the rug. Left to their own devices, those with the resources to do so scrambled to install filters that manufacturers say will remove lead from water. Some small businesses are trying to fight through impossible bureaucracy to get emergency assistance. Some people, who can, are getting out of town to places where the water is not poisonous.
Then there’s the situation on the North Side of Flint. This is the most oppressed section of Flint where poor Black people live. It lies to the north of the toxic waste sewer known as the Flint River that runs east-to-west through the city. As I canvassed the North Side house-to-house with a member of the Revolution Club, we were stunned by how many homes were abandoned. Their doors were ripped off. They were stripped of anything sellable. We walked by one abandoned house with “RIP” for three different people—lives stolen too young, people driven to desperate measures to survive. “Expendable” people in the eyes of this system, to be isolated, and feared.
Here on the North Side, people were among the last to be told about lead poisoning their water. Here they have the almost no resources to do anything about it. When I interviewed Michael Pitt, an attorney representing victims of lead poisoning in civil actions, he told me about a grandmother who, in order to encourage her grandchildren to drink a healthy amount of water, added sugar and Kool-Aid to the bad-tasting stuff coming out of the tap, only to find later to her horror that the water was poisonous.
People on the North Side were informed very late about lead poisoning in their water. They have almost no resources to do anything about it. Photo: Revolution/revcom.us
As of this moment, people we spoke with on the North Side have been given water filters. But without any training in how to use them, without any provision for frequent monitoring, testing and regular replacement of the filter element, these filters will not be effective. And aside from a lonely billboard advising people not to boil the poison water, there are no such resources. In the North Side lead-poisoned water flowed, and continues to flow, into people’s homes.
Many people we met had little or no access to lead poisoning testing. They have even less access to the kinds of fresh foods and vitamin-rich diets recommended for restricting the amount of brain damage lead poisoning creates in children. One man we talked to had made his way to a fire station 10 days before to be tested for lead poisoning, but had not heard back. Many people told us the disgusting water had aggravated their diabetes, which is epidemic among African-Americans.
Nor do people on the North Side have access to the kinds of special needs education and assistance they and their children need to cope with the heartbreaking effects of lead poisoning.
One woman whose husband had worked decades at GM told me, “Black people put this country on wheels and now that they sucked the life out of us, they don’t care about us.” They don’t. And the thing is, those who run this system couldn’t do things differently even if they wanted to.
Under this capitalist system every capitalist (like the giant auto companies) competes with other capitalists around the world. They are all driven by the law “expand or die,” to beat out their competitors—or go under. To do that they are driven to continually cheapen costs in order to stay alive. This means cutting costs wherever possible. It means devastating the environment, abandoning factories to rust, moving production around the world. This means seeking out the lowest, most exploitative wages. It means leaving millions of people behind without means to survive. These are the rules of the system.
And values and outlooks that arise on the basis of and serve this system become the dominant outlook in society—infecting everything, with vicious implications for people. That’s what we saw expressed when a nurse told the mother of a child who was the victim of brain damage caused by lead poisoning, “It is just a few IQ points. ... It is not the end of the world.”
Look at how this came down in Flint—which was at one point built up by General Motors as a company town with 200,000 people. Today it is a decimated city with half that population, hardly any tax base, and no future for most of the people who live there.
A few generations ago, a massive interconnected industrial complex evolved along the Great Lakes from the iron mines of Minnesota to the rubber factories of Akron and the steel mills of Chicago and Cleveland, down to the coalfields along the Ohio River, and east to Buffalo and the East Coast. A key element in this was the auto industry, centered in the Detroit area. Flint—60 miles north of Detroit—was the home of General Motors, which at one time employed 80,000 people in that city alone.
But this was not the result of some master plan. Nobody said, “Let’s build up all this industry in a way that makes sense for the people of the world, in a way that preserves the environment, builds what people need, provides opportunities for everyone—especially sections of society who historically have been discriminated against, and serves getting to a world free of all exploitation and oppression!” As a matter of fact, the evolution of the U.S. auto industry was not—in the most fundamental sense—the product of any plan at all. That’s not the way capitalism works.
Yes there were planners and “visionaries” of capitalist development, like the owners of GM who built up Flint as a base for their manufacturing. But their plans and visions were framed fundamentally by the anarchy of capitalist development. Different and competing units of capital (in the form of the auto industry companies) found it advantageous to locate in the Detroit area because of factors like the existence of raw materials and transport linkages that made this an efficient and highly competitive way to build cars for the U.S. and world markets.
Viewed through the distorted, short-sighted lens of capitalism, that “worked.” In 1950, something like 90 percent of all cars in the world were built in the U.S.—overwhelmingly in the Detroit area. But even during that period, the U.S. auto industry was characterized by tremendous of anarchy and chaos. During the glory days of the U.S. auto industry, over a hundred auto makers or divisions and brands came and went... including American Motors, Kaiser, Nash, and Studebaker. The “survivors” were those who were able to produce cars that undercut the price and exceeded the perceived value of competition. They swallowed up rivals or drove them out of business—leaving the “Big Three” (GM, Ford and Chrysler) still standing.
Now, today, the same anarchic forces of capitalism that created the auto industry centered in Detroit have left vast sections of this country a rusted-out, abandoned wasteland.
How did that happen? It was a combination of factors—again, none planned—in an increasingly globalized world of capitalism-imperialism. Ironically—and further illustrating how unplanned and anarchistic capitalism is—the victory of the U.S. empire in World War 2 had much to do with the end of the domination of the U.S. auto industry.
How so? Even as the United States emerged from the horrors of World War 2 as the dominant capitalist-imperialist country in the world, it was also facing a global revolt against imperialism. Within that, the socialist Soviet Union and China represented a whole other way society could be. Under the circumstances, the rulers of the U.S. encouraged and enabled the revival of the losers in World War 2—(West) Germany and Japan—to act as a counterweight and force of opposition to the socialist states and revolution.
The horrific devastation of World War 2 essentially destroyed the industrial base of Germany and Japan. As their auto industries rebuilt from scratch, they were in position to invest in more modern, efficient technology—including automated assembly lines. They were able to build more cars with fewer workers, and sell them more cheaply than U.S. companies, while still returning a profit. The result: Toyotas, Datsuns, and VW “Beetles” undercut U.S. domination of the market for lower priced cars, and then the larger auto market.
The intensity of competition for the world auto market went to a whole other level after the restoration of capitalism in China in 1976, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union (which had ceased to be a socialist society in the mid 1950s). Rapid and dramatic changes in integration of the world economy, in transportation, communication, and technology served to push the fast-forward button on anarchic changes in the world auto industry.
Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).
Much of the capacity of the U.S. auto industry was literally abandoned and left to rust as U.S. car makers moved production. They moved to the South and to countries outside the U.S. where workers can be paid less and more viciously exploited. They built new factories with newer technology that radically reduced the number of workers needed to produce a car. Today, many U.S. autoworkers, particularly in the non-union South, make as little as $15 an hour. Even with all these traumatic changes, today the U.S. ranks far behind China, Japan, Germany, and behind South Korea and India in auto production. Today, leaner, meaner, more automated U.S. automakers build about 15 percent of the cars in the world. And the pace and intensity of global competition to produce cars more efficiently and more cheaply continues to escalate.
And what happens to those who had worked in auto or related industries, and because of all these changes ended up without a job? Were they retrained? Were they given jobs doing much of the work that needed to be done in society? No, for the basic reason that this did not turn a profit. Instead of advances in technology making people’s lives better and easier, under capitalism, every new innovation in technology, communication and transportation renders millions of people “obsolete.” Their lives are worth nothing to the system. The tremendous contributions so many people could be making to the world are strangled by the workings of a worthless system.
So how, in this picture, did the North Side of Flint, where poor Black people live, become the place where lead-poisoned water continues to have the most terrible impact? And why is the extremity and concentration of the crisis there whited out of coverage of what’s going on? Here, we see a convergence of the defining anarchy of capitalism with conscious policies that overall flow from and serve that—specifically white supremacy.
When General Motors built up Flint, workers were pulled from Eastern and Southern Europe, from Appalachia and Alabama. But that happened in a society that had, and has, a caste system at its foundation. That caste system—the systematic defining of Black people as less than human—was and is rooted in the defining role slavery played in the United States becoming the rich and powerful empire it is today.
After the end of formal slavery, Black people were not integrated into U.S. society as equals. In the short-lived period of Reconstruction and in the decades of ruthless exploitation on the land and Jim Crow lynch-mob terror that followed, Black people were forged as an oppressed nation within the United States, mainly as sharecroppers in regions that comprised the old plantation areas in the South.
For decades Black people were kept on the land by force... until the needs of capital—the burgeoning industry that “took off” in the 1890s—created a demand for Black labor. But because of their status as part of an oppressed nation with no democratic rights, they were “integrated” into the workforce as a super-exploited section—kept in the worst, most dangerous jobs. They were last hired and first fired. They were preyed upon by ruthless landlords and small merchants in the segregated ghettos in which they were forced to live. And all this was enforced by law, by governmental policy, and by police violence.
This super-exploitation of Black people, particularly in the period of the “great migration” of six million Black people from the rural South to the factories of the North and South (from around 1910 to the early 1970s) was a significant factor the success of the U.S. auto industry. It helped GM and the rest build cars more cheaply, undercut their competition, and maximize profits.
And just as critical to the functioning of this system: the glue of white supremacy has been, and is, central in the social cohesion of the United States. Workers, particularly those from Europe, came to this country with their own nationalist prejudices, and often with the influence of radical anti-capitalist politics. But when they got to the U.S., they were encouraged and conditioned to identify not as Poles or Italians, Irish or Jews, Germans or Ukrainians, still less as part of a “working class,” as they were openly seen in Europe. Instead, they were encouraged and conditioned to see themselves as white Americans. And to identify their interests, to a large degree, with the interests of the system on the basis of privileges that “white American” status entitled them to.
Flint was emblematic of that. The General Motors Institute in Flint trained white men to be industrial engineers and administrators, creating a culture of “upward mobility”—for whites. In fact, even today that school, (renamed Kettering University after a former executive of GM), still in Flint, is almost 90 percent white (and 85 percent male) in a majority Black city.
GM built three-bedroom houses for white workers in Flint with a provision—written into formal legal contracts—that they agree not to sell them to anyone but “Caucasians.” Meanwhile, just north of the Flint River—which GM used as a toxic waste dump—“crackerjack housing,” as one activist described it, was built for Blacks. The homes there were qualitatively more poorly built, and the people who lived in them had far less access to resources to upgrade them over the decades, if they were able to hold onto them at all.
One activist I met with in Flint, now in his 60s, told me that growing up in Flint he never had any interaction with Black people on the North Side: “Nobody crossed the Flint River.” As the expansion of the national freeway system expedited commuters and commerce, the logic of the system—including the key role that white supremacy plays in the ideological life and the everyday political dealing within the system—dictated “urban removal” and freeway construction that further isolated the North Side. And along with growing isolation and desperation, people who lived on the North Side were demonized as violent criminals. If you search for “Flint” and “North Side” online, you’ll find almost nothing but crime stories.
Of course I could be writing something like this about nearly any big or medium sized city in the United States today! And many of them have lead-poisoned water that has had the most horrible impact on Black and poor people as well.
For all the reasons I’ve tried to point to, this system cannot unravel and undo the ways in which white supremacy is woven deeply into the fabric of the United States. Look: even with all the outrage, protest, and exposure, Congress has been unwilling to even fund replacing the toxic lead water pipes in Flint!
To seriously address the crisis in the inner cities, the whole way that production and distribution is planned—including what would be produced, where, how, for whom—would have to strongly take into account uprooting this oppression, as one part of the tasks of the socialist economy.1 To take just one dimension, even to scratch the surface of the oppression of Black people would require a massive infusion of all kinds of resources into the urban areas, and that is something utterly incompatible with the anarchic driving forces behind investment under capitalism—which, again, is the restless search for profit in cutthroat international competition with rivals.
And uprooting the mentality of white supremacy would be traumatic, even suicidal, from the perspective of a capitalist ruling class that has always relied on white supremacy to maintain social order. Just look, for instance, at how far Donald Trump has been enabled by the powers that be to whip up white supremacists at a time of social polarization and widespread alienation. As noted earlier, this system has baked this poison into the psyche of white America, and it will take tremendous social upheaval—including winning a big section of white youth to reject this putrid shit—to change all that.
These two things—the transformation of the economic base of society and the political and ideological struggle that will rage all through society—are absolutely necessary. It cannot happen under capitalism. It can only be done and will in fact be done as a central dynamic in a socialist society. In a revolutionary, socialist society, uprooting this oppression will not have to first proceed through the question of how it affects “the bottom line”—that is, the ability of capital to accumulate. And that will make all the difference. The Constitution for a New Socialist Republic in North America, written by Bob Avakian, is a blueprint for that revolutionary society, and something anyone who refuses to accept that this is the best of all possible worlds needs to get into and spread the word about.
Poor Black people, including Black youth in the inner cities—with their often-rebellious attitudes, energy, creativity, and capacity to transform themselves and the world—have a great deal to contribute to humanity. But as it has evolved—again through conscious policy, but most fundamentally driven by its anarchic nature—capitalism has no place for millions and millions of people trapped in the inner cities, places like Flint’s North Side. To the ruling class of this country, these are superfluous people.
Those who run this system and their policy makers remember well how in the 1960s the powerful and mass uprisings of Black people against oppression sparked upheaval, protest, and rebellion throughout society. And so young Black people are deprived of access to jobs and education, funneled into mass incarceration, subject to an epidemic of police terror and murder, and then demonized and blamed for the desperate conditions they have been put by the workings of this system.
At the same time, the rulers of the U.S. brand themselves as global champions of human rights. So what we have going on is a slow genocide... one that does not “speak its name” but is genocidal all the same... a slow genocide that could become a fast genocide.
All of this—the ways in which this system does what it does—have come together to make the impact of lead-poisoned water most extreme on the North Side of Flint, among people this system would just as soon see dead.
Help must be delivered to people in Flint NOW! We cannot allow the authorities responsible for poisoning the water in Flint to sweep this crisis under the rug! And the particularly acute needs of people on the North Side must be seriously addressed. People need drinkable water, serious health care, and long-term, ongoing assistance in dealing with the painful and terrible impact of lead poisoning. And every informed expert and activist says what is happening with the Flint water is the tip of an iceberg.
This ongoing crime of poison water in Flint is not because this system is not working the way it should. The problem is that capitalism is a mode of production that has nothing to contribute to humanity and should not be tolerated one minute more than necessary.
1. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America breaks down that three overarching criteria for a socialist economy: 1) Advancing the world revolution to uproot all exploitation and oppression and to emancipate all of humanity; 2) Meeting social needs, creating a common material wealth that contributes to the all-around development of society and the individuals who make it up, and overcoming oppressive divisions between mental and manual labor, town and country, different regions and nationalities, and men and women; and 3) Protecting, preserving, and enhancing the ecosystems and biodiversity of the planet for current and future generations. [back]
Revolution #429 March 7, 2016
February 29, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The U.S. carries out military interventions, wars, and diplomatic maneuvering in the interests of the system of global capitalism that they dominate—a system that grinds up, crushes, uproots, and casts off billions of people, including in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. Above, U.S. Marines train with Nigerian navy forces in 2011. (Photo: Master Sgt. Grady Fontana/Marine Corps)
The U.S. is soon sending several dozen special operations troops to Nigeria as “advisers” to the Nigerian Army in their conflict against Boko Haram, an Islamic jihadist group that controls significant territory in northeast Nigeria and operates in several nearby countries in West Africa. This is not about the U.S. imperialists coming in to defend people against terrorists. IF the U.S. were really against terrorizing people, they would not support the scores of regimes that carry out equivalent if not greater terror than Boko Haram—not to mention their own blood-soaked genocidal record, past and present. No, the U.S. carries out military interventions, wars, and diplomatic maneuvering in the interests of the system of global capitalism that they dominate—a system that grinds up, crushes, uproots, and casts off billions of people, including in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. When the U.S. imperialists move against Boko Haram or other Islamic jihadists, they are acting to destroy whatever they think is in the way at any given time of their domination and/or to set up or protect oppressive relations and regimes that help maintain this hellish system.
But Islamic fundamentalist jihadist forces like Boko Haram are not a radical alternative to the horrors created by the capitalist-imperialist system. They actually aim to enforce—and are enforcing—oppressive relations that keep people in chains and crushed, including the subjugation and degradation of women. Look at how Boko Haram raided a girls’ school in 2014 and kidnapped more than 250 girls—with their leader saying that girls should not be in school and that “Allah had instructed me to sell them” as child brides. This is misogyny of a particularly barbaric and vicious character. No one with any heart should want to live in a world like that.
There is a real answer: an actual revolution—a communist revolution—that aims to get rid of all oppression and emancipate humanity. The new synthesis of communism, brought forward by Bob Avakian on the basis of 40 years of revolutionary work, provides a foundation and point of departure for a new stage of communist revolution. The situation in the world today cries out urgently for this revolution and for the new synthesis of communism to spread among all who yearn for a way out of the nightmare that humanity is trapped in. This—not the so-called liberal democracy of the imperialists nor the dark-ages horrors of Islamic fundamentalist jihad—is the only trend that offers a way out... the only REAL alternative.