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We are people who represent, on a scientific basis, the fundamental interests of the masses of humanity, the great majority of the 7 billion people on this planet; who understand what the problem and the solution is to the situation that faces the masses of humanity; and who have taken on the responsibility of leading people to fight to bring about, through revolution, the solution that is urgently needed.
The presentation by Bob Avakian—THE SCIENCE, THE STRATEGY, THE LEADERSHIP FOR AN ACTUAL REVOLUTION, AND A RADICALLY NEW SOCIETY ON THE ROAD TO REAL EMANCIPATION—is a sweeping, comprehensive document of world-historic importance. At the same time as it has great immediate relevance, it also provides, in an overall and ongoing way, a foundation and strategic orientation in relation to the basic questions of human emancipation it speaks to, which are indicated and concentrated in the title. In order to facilitate the kind of serious and deep engagement with which this document should be approached—both the particular parts of this presentation and the decisive questions they address and, most fundamentally, the method and approach that underlies and runs through the presentation overall—the following provides a framework and guidelines for both individual study and collective discussion of this document.
* Why does this presentation begin by emphasizing the question: “for whom and for what?” Why, at the same time, does it emphasize the importance of theory and method?
* In BA’s opening presentation in the Dialogue with Cornel West, there is a section that speaks to “what if” the world could be radically different (and gets into a number of particular “what if’s”).
What is the reason and purpose for including this in that presentation—what role and aim does this have there? And how have you—and, as far as you are aware, how have others—understood and approached this?
* If what Lenin argues is true—about people being the foolish victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics, etc.—why is this true? And what is the importance of this, in relation to the transformation of society, and the ending of all exploitation and oppression?
I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
* Why is method and approach the most fundamental and essential thing in the new synthesis of communism?
* Why is it correct that “Everything that is actually true is good for the proletariat, all truths can help us get to communism”?
** Why is “class truth” wrong?
** Why is it the case that, in the relation between being partisan and being scientific, being scientific is principal?
* BAsics 4:10 argues that relativism—and treating truth as subjective, and a matter of “narrative,” rather than correspondence to objective reality as the criterion of truth—will ultimately contribute to remaining trapped within a world where “might makes right.” Is this true, and if so why? And what does this question of epistemology have to do with getting beyond such a world?
* What is the difference between materialism—dialectical materialism—and determinism (or “determinist realism”)?
* In an episode of the TV show The Good Wife there is a scientist who makes the statement that human beings are just clusters of atoms, like everything else in nature. What is correct—and what is incorrect—about that statement? How can it be determined whether what is correct, or incorrect, about this statement is the main thing—the principal aspect?
* How should the following statement by Raymond Lotta, cited in the Presentation, be understood: “The basic change wrought by bourgeois society is the socialization of production.” How does this relate to the fact that capitalism represents and embodies the generalization of commodity production and exchange—and the key and pivotal role of labor power (the ability to work) as a commodity under capitalism?
* Why is it that “through which mode of production?” is the most important question in how any social problem is addressed? What is the relation between this and the understanding that this system cannot be reformed, but must be swept away?
* What difference does it make whether the driving force of anarchy (the contradiction between anarchy and organization in capitalist production and accumulation) or the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat is the more important expression of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism?
* Is “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core” just a policy—or is it something more, and if so what?
* Which is principal—which is the main and most decisive aspect—in the relation between epistemology and morality?
II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be,
A Road to Real Emancipation
* The “4 Alls”
** Why is the goal of the communist revolution not “equality”? What does getting beyond democracy and beyond equality have to do with Marx’s statement that Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society, and the culture conditioned thereby, and with getting beyond the narrow horizon of bourgeois right?
** What is the materialism, and the dialectics, of the “4 Alls,” and how should the interrelation of these “4 Alls” be understood?
** Marx begins the statement on the “4 Alls” by talking about how the dictatorship of the proletariat is the transition to the achievement of these “4 Alls.” Why is the dictatorship of the proletariat necessary for this?
* BAsics 2:12
** Why is what is said in BAsics 2:12 correct, and what is its importance? How is this different from how this has been widely understood in the international communist movement?
** What does BAsics 2:12 have to do with why it is that, while socialism is three things—a radically different economic system; a radically different political system; and a transition to communism—a socialist state must be, above all, a base area for the world revolution?
* What is the relation between meeting the needs of the people in socialist society—broadly understood as meaning cultural as well as material needs—carrying forward further the transformation of economic and social relations, and the political and ideological superstructure, and supporting the world revolution? How, in turn, is this connected to the relation between abundance and revolution in the advance to a communist world?
* The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America
** How is this Constitution an application of solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core? What does the “parachute point” have to do with this?
** Why is there provision for a military draft in this Constitution? And why is there inclusion of measures that may be taken in an emergency situation, which restrict the rights of the people? What does this have to do with the relation between necessity and freedom, and the principle that Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society, and the culture conditioned thereby?
* “Emancipators of Humanity”
** What does it mean that there is a great deal concentrated in the call to be “emancipators of humanity”?
** What is the relation between materialism and morality in this formulation: “emancipators of humanity”?
III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
* Why, and in what way, is it correct to speak of strategically “working back” from “On the Possibility of Revolution” and that there is one overall strategic approach for revolution, with distinct but interrelated stages?
* How should the relation between “hastening” and “awaiting” a revolutionary situation be understood and applied?
* Discuss the content of “Some Principles for Building a Movement for Revolution” and the questions posed in the Presentation about this and “On the Strategy for Revolution.”
* Speak to the question posed in the Presentation about the dialectical relations involved in “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.”
* The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat (UFuLP) strategy
** Why is this the correct and necessary strategic orientation for revolution?
** What is the meaning and importance of the separation of the communist movement from the labor movement, and what is the relevance of this for revolution in this country?
** What is the importance of the “two maximizings”?
** It has been said that there can be no revolution without a powerful student movement with a strong current favorable to revolution and communism within that student movement. Why is that true?
** Why is it important for a section of the intelligentsia—understanding this to mean people in the arts, as well as in academia, and others—to be won to this revolution?
** Discuss the point in the Presentation about the relation between the importance of waging struggle against lines, programs, tendencies, etc., that are representative of the petite bourgeoisie, and maintaining and applying the strategic orientation of UFuLP.
** Why is the oppression of Black people an “Achilles heel” for this system in this country?
** Why is what is said in BAsics 3:22, about the emancipation of women and its relation to the communist revolution, correct, and why is it correct to say that, in today's world more than ever, the woman question—the struggle for the emancipation of women and the relation of this to the communist revolution—is more pronounced and more important than ever?
* Internationalism and This Revolution
** What is the importance of “revolutionary defeatism,” particularly in a country like the U.S.? To what degree is this orientation understood and taken up by people opposing the crimes committed by U.S. imperialism—and, more particularly, how well is this understood and applied as a matter of basic orientation, in terms of people in and around the Party and the movement for revolution?
** Discuss what is said in the Presentation about how revolution in (what is now) the U.S. not only needs to be internationalist in its fundamental orientation but also may have a significant aspect of being international.
** How does bringing about revolution here relate to “bringing forward another way” in key parts of the world, and the world as a whole?
* The promotion and popularization of the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA
** Why is this promotion and popularization, as concentrated now in the BA Everywhere campaign, a crucial part—one of the two mainstays and the leading edge—of building the movement for revolution and the Party as its leading core? How should the accusation of “cult” be understood and answered in relation to this?
** In the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, the title is Science and Revolution—On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian. To what does “On the Importance” apply in that title?
* Discuss what is said—including the questions posed—in the Presentation about the role of the website/newspaper, as the second mainstay of the Party’s overall and ongoing work.
* Why is popularizing the strategy an important part of carrying out this strategy?
IV. The Leadership We Need
* If “the masses make history,” why is it true that leadership is decisive in order for the masses, and humanity as a whole, to be emancipated?
* Why should people join the RCP if it has been necessary, and is still necessary, to carry out a Cultural Revolution within the RCP to keep it on the road of revolution and communism?
* Discuss what is said, including the questions posed, in the Presentation—drawing from the Interview with Ardea Skybreak—about the fundamentally antagonistic relation between what is represented by this Party, and its leadership, in particular BA, and the ruling class.
* What is the importance of having a Party in this country based on the new synthesis of communism and the leadership of BA? What particular internationalist responsibilities does this place on this Party, and generally those upholding and applying this new synthesis?
* The “Ohio”
** How should this be understood and applied in building the movement for revolution and the Party as its leading core?
** What is the role and importance of the Revolution Clubs in relation to this “Ohio” (as well as more generally)?
* “Strategic commanders of the revolution”
** What is the meaning and importance of this formulation? Does this apply only to the leadership of the Party, or more broadly?
** How does the discussion in the Presentation on methods of leadership, and in particular the science and the “art” of leadership—and the relation between the two—relate to being “strategic commanders of the revolution"?
* What is most fundamental and pivotal in this Presentation?
* What is the relation between the basic orientation of “for whom and for what?” and the role of a consistently scientific method and approach, overall and specifically in relation to human society and its revolutionary transformation toward the goal of a communist world without exploitation and oppression?
Revcom.us/Revolution on the Recent Events in Brussels
March 22, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these "outmodeds," you end up strengthening both.
While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these "historically outmodeds" has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:28
Get your free e-book copy of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakianhere.
1) Once again, forces associated with Islamic fundamentalist jihadism have struck against ordinary people going about their business, this time in Belgium. This is a reactionary attack in the service of a reactionary agenda and must be unconditionally opposed. This trend takes the anger against the oppression carried out by U.S. and European imperialism, couples it with a reactionary hunger for an idealized past that was itself awful, and misdirects it into fighting for a world in which women are dominated by men, in which superstition reigns over reason, and in which a new “caliphate” will insert itself into the same old reactionary imperialist order and the exploitation and oppression of the masses will continue.
As Bob Avakian (BA) has recently stated:
This system of capitalism-imperialism has been built on, and continues to perpetrate, slavery and white supremacy and all manner of atrocities against Black people, other oppressed peoples, and the masses of humanity throughout the world, including the half of humanity that is female. Some claim that the answer to this is Islam, and in particular fundamentalist Islamic jihad. But that is not the answer – it is not a radical alternative to this system and its monstrous crimes – it is itself another form of enslavement, oppression, and atrocity, against women and the masses of people overall. The answer is an actual revolution – a really radical and emancipating revolution – communist revolution, to bring an end at long last, to all oppression, everywhere.
2) But as BA has also emphasized, this trend would not be nearly as significant in the world today were it not for the far greater oppression carried out by imperialism and, in particular, U.S. imperialism. The U.S. along with its European allies has supported Israel in its open-air, slow-motion genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza (punctuated by periodic wars of aggression against Gaza) and in Israel’s apartheid-like oppression in the territory of historic Palestine overall; the U.S. has supported other reactionary regimes and social forces throughout the region, bringing down terrible suffering and mayhem on literally millions and millions, as it is doing today in its proxy war in Yemen carried out by Saudi Arabia, where thousands of civilians have died from U.S.-manufactured cluster bombs dropped from U.S.-supplied warplanes; and the U.S. has itself directly waged war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other places as well that has resulted in millions of deaths and the driving of many millions more into refugee camps or the open seas.
Now these imperialist hypocrites will use this attack, as they have all the others, to not only reinforce and intensify the worldwide horror they carry out, but to further whip up a warmongering patriotism and xenophobia (fear and hatred of “others”) and to crack down on all dissent and opposition within their “home base.” This will focus on Muslims very broadly, but will extend beyond that. Those who doubt this should consider how the French imperialists used the “state of emergency” measures after jihadist attacks last November to spy on, repress and jail environmental activists.
Bringing Foward Another Way is an edited version of a talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, to a group of Party supporters, in 2006. It is must reading for a serious understanding of what the U.S. "war on terror" is really about and how to bring forward a positive force in the world in opposition to both Western imperialism and Islamic Jihad.
We should in no way support ANY measures undertaken by our own oppressors in the name of safety, security, or any other buzzword they use. We should in every way OPPOSE anything that is done by our oppressor or other imperialists. Such opposition, rather than rallying around their flag, could actually contribute to the dynamic the world so desperately needs: a dynamic in which people all over the world see that people in the countries which are the main source of the oppression are saying NO to both poles of the madness.
3) Even more fundamentally: there IS an alternative to this madness, to a world in which this disastrous dynamic plays out daily all over the world and destroys millions – and that is revolution. Again, we direct you to the quote above from BA. This IS real... this COULD bring into being a different world beyond this horror and insanity...and you need to check this out and be part of it. Go to revcom.us and dig deeper into all this. Help get out this message. Support this movement and be part of helping to spread it.
The Presidential Audition Goes to AIPAC
Tightening Up a “Special Relationship” to Enforce a World of Oppression
by Alan Goodman | March 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On March 21, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich spoke before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and Bernie Sanders sent a presentation that was added to the record of the event.
AIPAC is a pro-Israel lobbying group. But this is not your typical lobbying group. When AIPAC brags that it has far more success with its legislative initiatives than even the National Rifle Association, that’s not because AIPAC has a particularly talented team of lobbyists. Or because Israel or “the Jews” have corrupted the U.S. political process. What that reflects is how essential the “special relationship” between Israel and the U.S. is.
What is that “special relationship”? The United States is the world’s dominant global imperialist power, and Israel is a bulwark of imperialism in the Middle East. This is a strategic region—the main source of oil for much of the world and a key military and trade crossroads.
A critical part of the job of being commander-in-chief/president of the U.S. empire is managing and fostering the relationship with Israel. The powerful ruling-class forces who ultimately define who gets to be considered a legitimate candidate for president pay attention to how candidates do in addressing AIPAC. And the candidates’ presentations reflect and reveal much about the nature and role of the U.S.-Israel “special relationship.”
This Year’s Pilgrimage to AIPAC: Unequivocal Endorsement of Israel’s Crimes
Today, the U.S. empire faces unprecedented challenges and crises in the Middle East. Afghanistan and Iraq, where the U.S. invaded to install compliant regimes, are disintegrating and fertile ground for ISIS and similar forces. Traditional U.S. allies like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt are on shaky ground and/or wracked with crises. The whole mix intersects with challenges to the U.S. empire from rival powers—regional (like Iran) and global (like Russia and China). In some ways, the close ties between the U.S. and Israel pose real problems in managing relationships with U.S. allies in the region. But at the same time, in a situation that threatens to spin out of control, the “special relationship” is absolutely critical for the U.S.
And that need defined all the presentations by the candidates to AIPAC.
The Nusseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip turned to rubble from a July 31, 2014 Israeli airstrike that killed 13 people from two families. AP photo
Donald Trump lashed out at any attempt by the UN or the U.S. to rein in Israel in any way. He, along with all the others, turned the one-sided, ongoing slaughter of Palestinians upside down, claiming “Israel does not pay its children to stab random Palestinians.” Actually, Israel pays its soldiers to carry out mass murder against Palestinian children—over 550 of whom were murdered in homes, schools, and UN shelters during Israel’s 2014 massacre in Gaza.
Ted Cruz opened his speech by declaring “Palestine has not existed since 1948.” In saying that, Cruz celebrated the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”), which took place in 1948, when almost a million Palestinians (half the population at that time) were driven from their land, villages and homes by terrorist attacks carried out by European settler Zionists. The Zionists systematically used rape, torture and murder. By the time the Nakba ended, there had been 31 documented massacres and probably others. Some 531 villages and 11 urban neighborhoods were emptied of their inhabitants.
John Kasich said, “The post-war international system that we and our allies [built]... is under challenge,” and “We can best advance stability in the region by providing Israel our 100 percent support.” That “international system” which is “under challenge” is U.S. domination of a world of sweatshops and slums. And Kasich is identifying the need to support Israel “100 percent” to defend that.
Hillary Clinton: "The United States and Israel must be closer than ever"
Hillary Clinton’s speech to AIPAC got some of the most substantial press, and it played a particular role.
She framed her speech by saying the U.S. faces “evolving threats” that “are converging to make the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever.” She declared the “United States and Israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever and more determined than ever to prevail against our common adversaries and to advance our shared values.” And that “the United States should provide Israel with the most sophisticated defense technology.”
Clinton said one of her first acts as president would be to invite Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House. Netanyahu is a particularly rabid Zionist fanatic even within the spectrum of traditional Israeli politics and someone who basically spit in Obama’s face by speaking to the U.S. Congress to denounce the Iran nuclear deal without an invitation from the White House. Clinton reminded everyone that even with all the tension between Netanyahu and Obama over the Iran nuclear deal, U.S.-Israel military cooperation has “always been stronger and deeper than the headlines might lead you to believe.”
Clinton emphasized that the Iran nuclear deal mainly had the effect of clipping the wings of the Iranian regime. She bragged about being behind “crippling sanctions” that forced Iran to the negotiating table—sanctions that have had a brutal impact on Iran’s economy and the lives of ordinary people there. And she insisted she was the only candidate for president tough enough to “impose real consequences for even the smallest violations of this agreement.”
Above: Four children killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, November 2012. Photo: AP
Hillary Clinton demanded that “Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence.” The reality is that less than two years ago, Israel launched a horrific slaughter against the people of Gaza for 50 straight days. Israel killed 2,251 Palestinians—1,462 of whom were civilians, including 551 children.
Clinton claims to distinguish herself from Donald Trump and Ted Cruz by opposing the open, formalized use of torture by the U.S. government (see coverage at www.revcom.us for exposure of the actual use of systematic torture by the U.S., including “New CIA Documents Reveal: U.S. Torture—Depraved & Systemic”). But why is it any less obscene to outsource open, formalized torture to Israel? Look up reports by human rights groups on Israel’s record on torture. Among them, you’ll find a 2013 report by the UN Committee on the Rights of Children (CRC) that documents how Israel subjects Palestinian children to “continuous use of physical and verbal violence, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, death threats, physical violence, sexual assault against them or members of their family, and restricted access to toilet, food and water.”
Clinton told AIPAC, “[W]e look at the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, one of the biggest and most prominent in the world. And we marvel that such a bastion of liberty exists in a region so plagued by intolerance.”
This promotion of Israel as a “bastion of liberty” is a key weapon in the U.S. ideological arsenal to get people to support Israel and align with the interests of the U.S. But the reality is this: Israel is not a bastion of enlightenment but an enforcer for imperialism—in the Middle East and around the world, with all the horrors that brings.
Bernie Sanders: “Israel is one of America’s closest allies”
Bernie Sanders offered to make a presentation to AIPAC by video, saying he was committed to a major campaign speech in Utah. AIPAC turned down that offer but included Sanders’ prepared remarks in the official record of the conference.
Sanders’ presentation had elements that seemed to distinguish it from those of the other candidates. He criticized some Israeli policies like bombing hospitals, schools and refugee camps while portraying them as “disproportionate responses to being attacked.” But most fundamentally, his speech was framed by how to strengthen the relationship where “Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and we—as a nation—are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but also to making sure that its people have a right to live in peace and security.”
Whatever his personal feelings about some things Israel does, Sanders’ speech objectively played a role of training people who are outraged by Israel’s crimes to identify with the whole U.S.-Israel relationship and the world of exploitation and oppression it is a lynchpin within. And it promoted illusions that there are sympathetic ears in the power structure (or potentially in the power structure) to the horrific conditions the Palestinian people are in.
It must be added that, in the event Bernie Sanders actually becomes the president of the United States, he would have to adopt positions in relation to Israel that conformed to the needs of the U.S. empire. It is already the case that as his career has “progressed” from an activist mayor of a town in Vermont to the U.S. Senate, his positions on Israel “evolved” in conformity with the needs of the empire. As Israel was unleashing the one-sided killing spree against the people of Gaza in 2014, Sanders voted for a Senate resolution supporting “the State of Israel as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.” The vote for that resolution in the U.S. Senate was 100 to zero, and Bernie Sanders was one of the 100 who justified that massacre as Israel “defending” itself.
Let’s go back to what was behind the parade of presidential candidates who went to AIPAC and what they said: Today, the U.S. empire faces a whole series of challenges, threats, and crises, including the clash with global Islamic fundamentalist jihad. In that context, Israel creates problems for the U.S. in trying to put together a “coalition” that includes countries in the region like Saudi Arabia or Turkey. But in the eyes of the rulers of the U.S., facing all these serious challenges, there is a consensus now that they need to tighten up the “special relationship.”
And in that light, there is a concerted effort by ruling class institutions in the U.S. all up and down the line to back Israel to the hilt, to censor and suppress any criticism of Israel, and declare it utterly beyond the pale, anti-Semitic, or even “pro-terrorist” to expose the illegitimacy of a state built on terrorist ethnic cleansing that today is reaching genocidal proportions.
That cannot be allowed to go down. Protest and opposition to Israel, including the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, and critical examination of the nature and role of Israel in academia must be defended. Israel’s crimes should be opposed and protested by anyone who refuses to be complicit with them.
Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic seeks to set forth, defend, and further advance the theoretical framework for the beginning of a new stage of communist revolution in the contemporary world. This journal will promote the perspectives of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. demarcations-journal.org
Beyond that, the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel is a sharp concentration of what it is the U.S. really brings to the world. The Middle East is ground zero in the clash of reactionary forces, but the fact that some of the forces who have claimed the mantle of opposing Zionism are reactionary and offer only different forms of oppression does not in any way legitimize what it is the U.S. and Israel represent in this world.
If you are thinking that there has to be another way in this world beyond the contending reactionary “universalisms” of Islamic fundamentalist jihad and U.S. imperialism, you are correct. But don’t stop there! These “alternatives” are intolerable! I invite and challenge you to join in digging into and promoting the one genuinely radical alternative to both of these horrors: revolution and communism aimed at a world with no more exploitation or oppression of any kind. Today that means Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Whether that becomes enough of a force on the planet to break humanity out of the clutches of the present is, in the most decisive way, up to everyone who yearns for a whole different kind of world, including one where never again will any people be subjected to ethnic cleansing and genocide.
There is urgent work to do now to get that REAL radical alternative on the map.
The Shutdown of Trump in Chicago: Reflections on Legitimacy Crises and Real Revolution
March 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors’ note: The following is correspondence from an RCP supporter reflecting on experience in Chicago. Towards the end of these reflections, the author notes questions that were raised by various people but doesn’t say how these were answered. We invite our readers to write to us about how you’ve explored or should explore these questions with people.
Protesters confront Trump supporters on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago, March 11. AP photo
The crisis concentrated in the candidacy of Donald Trump reached a new height in the powerful and very justified disruption of Trump’s scheduled rally in Chicago on March 11. Thousands of protesters, including many students of color, confronted the fascist rally and essentially forced Trump to cancel it. In the following week, determined protests against Trump spread... Utah, Arizona, New York City. At the same time, what happened in Chicago and elsewhere intensified the legitimacy crisis among those ruling society—a crisis over HOW the representatives of the capitalist class that rules America carry out its rule.
The March 21 Revolution article, “The People Run Trump Out of Chicago—The Crisis Sharpens,” analyzing the strategic significance of the cancellation quotes from an article in the NewYorkTimes: “Behind the showdowns is a climate of frustration and fright not seen since the 1960s, or even the 1850s when, in the words of Joanne Freeman, a Yale historian who has studied violence in American politics, ‘each side was convinced that the other side was about to destroy America—or what they believed to be the fundamental essence of America—and each side totally alienated the other side.’” (“Donald Trump’s Heated Words Were Destined to Stir Violence, Opponents Say,” March 12, 2016)
This crisis in the ruling class is also reflected in what is playing out in the clashes between the Trump supporters and people who are horrified that Trump is a legitimate candidate. In the days leading up to Trump’s scheduled rally at UIC (University of Illinois, Chicago), the campus was roiling. This is a campus that prides itself on its diversity. The recognition that Trump might actually get the Republican nomination, and widely seen videos of Trump supporters viciously attacking small groups of protesters, compelled the students and many others to act.
When a student Facebook page called for a protest at the rally, within hours there were more than 1,600 RSVPs. Everyone knew it would be a very tense scene and they made plans to go with friends. Illinois Congressman Luis Gutiérrez and other Latino Democratic politicians who have criticized government policies on immigration called on people to join them in the streets to oppose Trump. But he called for restraint and arranged for protests to be staged in an area (pen) across the street from the pavilion, where the rally was to take place. Gutiérrez specifically called on people not to protest inside as it would be too dangerous.
Meantime, hundreds and hundreds of students and others organized themselves, going online to get tickets to the rally and then arriving hours early in order to be able to get inside to protest. Black community activists active in the fight against police murder and brutality also went to real lengths to get inside to protest.
An earlier Revolution article noted that 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.... 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 daresdiffer with Trump. (“On the Rise of Donald Trump... And the Need for and Possibility of Real Revolution,” March 7, 2016)
One student who made it inside the pavilion described the following: “At the beginning, the MC made this announcement that was so scary, it reminded me of the voice-over at the start of TheHungerGames: ‘This is a private event, if you see a protester, do not touch them, hold up your event sign and say, Trump, Trump, Trump so that security can identify and remove them.’”
In the hours before the event, three Black women said they ran into four older white Trump supporters and were called the “N” word straight up, and then viciously threatened: “If we see you after the event, we will fuck you until you can’t move. I will make you my slave.” Many youths were stunned by just how vicious the Trump supporters were and they asked older people, “Is this what it was like in the civil rights days?” They said they had seen images of white mobs attacking people, but never personally felt anything as ugly and blatant as how the Trump supporters treated them.
Outside the pavilion, thousands gathered in the streets as the start time for the rally approached, refusing to go to the protest pen. They were a diverse mix of people—mostly young and very multinational. Many were UIC students, but there were also groups of high school youths, people from other colleges, people from all walks of life from all over the city and suburbs, and people from Indiana and Michigan as well. Across the board there was anger and outrage over Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, and anti-Muslim program.
There were also crowds of Mexican youths, some carrying enormous Mexican flags, shouting out swear-word-laden chants in Spanish. (UIC has a 25 percent Latino student body.) Chants of “undocumented and unafraid” rang out. Youths in shirts with slogans like “Muslims Against Trump” and young women in hijabs joined the protest. There were groups of South Asian students, Black students, and community activists, many white students and youths with shirts and buttons for Bernie Sanders. There were also older people of all nationalities, including some who only spoke Spanish.
In the face of all this, Trump canceled his Chicago rally, much to the dismay of his followers and much to the surprise and jubilation of the protesters, who inside swarmed onto the floor of the pavilion. One Black UIC student described her experience leading up to and at that moment: “We got in line with 15 friends, all people of color, to be together for protection. We picked up Trump signs as a way to ‘blend in.’ We went to the main floor and saw only one other Black person and she was for Trump. We were terrified by the looks we were getting. We thought we were in the minority. Then the announcement came that Trump had canceled and all these white people tore off their shirts and had shirts underneath that said, ‘White people against racism’ and ‘Feel the Bern.’ We Blacks linked arms and formed a circle and the white protesters formed a circle around us. The Trump supporters looked really, really angry—it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen because the Trump supporters were not able to act like they wanted and the white people were protecting us.”
As we noted in “On the Rise of Donald Trump... And the Need for and Possibility of Real Revolution,”
there is, and there must be more, resistance ... —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. (emphasis added)
Chicago, March 11. (Video: revcom.us)
The revolutionary communists were on the scene and among the crowd with a sharp presence. This crew reported, “We had two enormous enlargements of the cover of Revolution #428-429 (Mein Trumpf) and 80 picket signs of the same cover in both English and Spanish which were immediately snatched up by protesters who made donations for them as the crowd gathered. It would be an understatement to say the image was very well received. With BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts over our coats, we agitated over the loudspeaker and got out hundreds of copies of Revolution newspaper and even more BA palm cards: BAsics cards with ‘American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives’ and one with ‘Internationalism, The Whole World Comes First.’ Another palm card says on one side ‘What we need is an actual revolution—and if you are serious about revolution, you have to seriously get into BA,’ and the flip side has the powerful quote from BA on the ‘potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness.’”
The report continued, “Agitating that Trump is not an aberration but a concentration of what America is all about, going through the genocide and slavery it was built upon up to the crimes it commits today, led some people to stop in their tracks. When we made clear that we were talking about an actual revolution as opposed to ‘Bernie’s revolution,’ people also stopped. We found many young people newly awakening to political life listening seriously and open to what we were putting out. There was an openness and interest based on how messed up things were. Most in the crowd had never heard of Bob Avakian before. Some people felt that we do need a revolution and were excited to learn about this revolutionary leader they had never heard of. There was a sense among some in the crowd that something big, ugly, and serious was going on and maybe revolution was the solution.”
At UIC and at Sanders rallies the following week, there was a lot of contention over what kind of system spawns a representative like Trump and why the Democrats are not the answer. There was struggle, too, among the revolutionaries over how not to simply unite with the anti-Trump sentiment that was very widespread on the campuses, but to really get into why a genuine revolution is what is needed, the new synthesis of communism, and the leadership we have for this in BA. Why we do not have to accept the terms and choices that all end up preserving capitalism-imperialism, and how there could very well be major openings to wrench a future that is in the interests of the great major of humanity in the whole world out of this cauldron of contradictions.
Interestingly, in response to the Mein Trumpf cover of Revolution, more than one person made reference to the Weimar Republic in Germany. The Weimar Republic was the informal name given to the bourgeois democratic government that ruled Germany after World War I. The Weimar Republic was replaced and forcibly abolished when Hitler and the Nazis came to power in the 1930s.
BA makes the point, “we should recognize and not be blind to what it means when these fascists put the ‘Weimar Republic’—by analogy, the liberals in the ruling class—in the camp of the enemy, and go so far as to label them traitors, and go after them in that way. What is that preparing the ground for, what are the implications of that?” (emphasis added)
Since this was written, we have seen the Republicans routinely denounce Obama and refuse to see him as legitimate, including not even recognizing his authority to nominate a Supreme Court justice. BA then goes on to say:
The “Weimar Republic” does need to be replaced, and superseded. The bourgeois republic—the rule of capitalism and imperialism, in its bourgeois-democratic form—is in fact a repressive system of rule, rooted in a whole network and process of exploitation and oppression, which brings untold, and unnecessary, suffering to millions, and literally billions, of people, throughout the world, including within the republic itself. It needs to be replaced and superseded, however, not by an even more grotesque and more openly murderous form of the same system, but by a radically new society, and a radically different kind of state, that will open the way and lead finally to the abolition of all forms of oppressive and repressive rule and all relations of domination and exploitation, throughout the world.
Again, there is a tremendous challenge to lead mass resistance to attacks on basic democratic rights by fascists like Trump (and Cruz, et al.) while doing so in a way that does not stay confined within the framework set by the capitalist system’s bourgeois-democratic terms, which only keep the nightmare of capitalism-imperialism going. The challenge is to repolarize—repolarize for revolution right in the midst of these tumultuous and rapidly developing crises, speaking to whole blocs of people, many of whom are being drawn into political life for the first time. Agitation is very critical in doing this, both through Revolution and out on the street.
Some people who hate Trump and were overjoyed at the cancellation of his Chicago rally also said that they thought a Trump victory in the general election would be the way to accelerate a revolution. To adopt that orientation would be a horrible mistake. As BA put it,
I have spoken to this phenomenon of the unraveling of what for some time has been the “cohering center” of the society and the rule of the bourgeoisie in the U.S.... I have emphasized that all of this will not, by any means, be positive in the short run, and left to itself—and it is not the role of communists, it is not meeting our responsibilities, to simply stand by and celebrate all the unraveling of the existing cohering center and form of capitalist rule and think it is going to mean that something positive is bound to emerge from this and in fact is just going to “fall into our lap.” We have to take up the tremendous challenge of repolarization—repolarization for revolution.”
(“The Fascists and the Destruction of the “Weimar Republic”...And What Will Replace It”)
It is very important to engage young people being drawn to the Bernie Sanders campaign. They are being drawn into political life and thinking about big questions, like the oppression of Black people, some for the first time in their lives. Not surprisingly, there are many different views, insights about the current situation, as well as many illusions about how the system actually works and what the solution is to the outrages and horrors that they see. More needs to be quickly learned about the patterns of youths and students who are awakening to political life, what are their views and sentiments, and how they are changing, including in the wake of an action like the one at UIC in particular. We have found a few Latino youths who have been part of the gang scene who are promoting Sanders. We need to investigate if this is more widespread and if it is linked to Trump’s attacks on immigrants.
The following were typical of responses from Sanders supporters:
» A young man agreed with some of our analysis of Trump, that he was a fascist and the product of a rotten system. But he really saw Sanders as part of the solution; e.g., he argued that Sanders was against war, “had voted against all the wars.” He was for “socialism,” like Sanders, but saw it as “a whole different animal” from communism. He described the European welfare states as his view of socialism.
» A young woman who is a Bernie Sanders supporter agreed Trump was part of a system that was thoroughly rotten, rooted in slavery and genocide. But she also saw Sanders as part of the solution, a “step in the right direction.” She saw him as being anti-capitalist, representing revolution. She quoted Sanders’ comments on the super-rich, etc. to make her case.
» A young person asked how would the revolution deal with things differently. This Included wanting to know how a new society would deal with the kind of people who are supporting Trump.
» A campus organizer for Sanders put it this way: “I agree with Marx about how communism is the solution. But I think we have to go about it in a way that people will listen to.” She explained it in terms of marketing—at this point, most people think communism is bad, but you can get them to consider “socialism.”
Revolutionaries dug into all this going into the new synthesis of communism brought forward by BA. In all these situations hundreds of papers and palm cards were distributed, and dozens and dozens of names and contacts were made, with specific follow-up plans in mind. This is a highly politicized situation, one that demands that communists be communists.
The orientation from “The People Run Trump Out of Chicago—The Crisis Sharpens” addressed to all those who are agonizing about the way forward, standing up to protest in the face of intimidation and fascist mobs—is essential:
So listen. You are questioning. That is critically important and indispensable. You are fighting. That can be very positive. As you do that, as you intensify that, learn about, get into, struggle over what humanity really needs: revolution, a real revolution. Get into Bob Avakian (BA) and his work and leadership. Get into the way of scientifically understanding the world and what drives a society forward and what the real possibilities are for social transformation that he’s brought forward. Get into the blueprint for a whole new society, on the road to the elimination of all exploitation and oppression that he’s concretized in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. Get into the strategy he’s developed for getting to a situation in which millions would be won to and be prepared to go all-out for revolution and win. Get into and spread this website, revcom.us. Get with the Party BA leads and the Revolution Club led by that Party, and get into the whole movement for revolution and the process of “fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution.
Whatever happens with the immediate crisis—whether those on top succeed in defusing it, or whether in fact it sharpens—the most crucial thing is that there be a vanguard, with real roots among the people and a real magnetic pole among millions FOR revolution. There is work to do NOW. Be part of it.
Behind the Re-Establishment of U.S.-Cuba Diplomatic Relations
Editor's note, 11/27/16: With the death of Fidel Castro and the ascension of the fascist Donald Trump to the presidency, U.S.-Cuba relations will be in flux. This article, dealing with Obama's moves to "normalize" those relations, gives a good basic background in why revolution in Cuba was necessary and had to have U.S. imperialist domination as a central target; how and why that revolution did not ultimately succeed in winning liberation from imperialism; and how to understand and see through the self-serving propaganda of U.S. politicians and media on all this and actually get at the truth.
by Raymond Lotta | December 29, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 17, the United States and Cuba announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations. President Obama also announced that the U.S. will ease restrictions on travel, on the amount of cash that can be sent to individuals in Cuba, on the export of telecommunications equipment, and on certain banking activity.
The U.S. had no right to isolate and punish Cuba. Its economic blockade of Cuba was an act of imperialist extortion. But the terms of normalization that the U.S. is imposing are not in the interests of the Cuban people.
U.S. Imperialism and Cuba
I encourage readers to study Bob Avakian’s essay “Three Alternative Worlds” to get a concise scientific grounding in what real socialism is and how it is different than what exists in countries like Cuba or North Korea (“Three Alternative Worlds,“ December 3, 2006). Bob Avakian has developed the framework, the viable vision and strategy, for a radically new and liberatory society and world. “Three Alternative Worlds” is also a supplement in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. To learn more, go to revcom.us/avakian.
For more than 100 years, the United States has caused incalculable misery and suffering for the Cuban people. Cuba came under the domination of U.S. imperialism as a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Cuban people had been fighting for their independence from Spain, but the U.S. seized on the situation to bring Cuba under its control. The so-called Platt Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress in 1901, which was incorporated into the Cuban constitution, set the terms for U.S. interference in Cuba’s domestic affairs.
The U.S. landed marines in Cuba four times in the early 20th century. It established a military colony—the Guantánamo naval base—which has been used as a concentration camp and torture chamber in the post-9/11 U.S. war on the world.
By the 1950s, the U.S. controlled 80 percent of Cuba’s utilities, 90 percent of its mines, close to 100 percent of the country’s oil refineries, 90 percent of its cattle ranches, and 40 percent of its sugar industry. Sugar plantation workers faced incredibly oppressive conditions—slave-like labor punctuated by periods of unemployment. Cuba also became an investor's paradise for U.S. gambling syndicates, real estate operators, hotel owners, and mobsters. U.S. businessmen and travelers would frequent Havana, the capital of Cuba, as a sex tourism center. There were some 100,000 prostitutes in the country! The U.S. gave economic and military backing to one hated regime after another to enforce these political, economic, and social relations.
These horrors were the backdrop for the Cuban revolution that came to power in 1959. This horror show is what has been extolled by Cuban exiles in Miami and the U.S. propaganda machine as the “lost Cuba.”
The Cuban revolution was a just and popular uprising against U.S. imperialism. It did not go on to break the stranglehold of world capitalism-imperialism, nor did it launch a genuine libratory social revolution aimed at uprooting all oppression including patriarchy. Nonetheless, the U.S. imperialists never reconciled themselves to defeat. In 1961, the U.S. carried out the Bay of Pigs invasion, which the Cuban people defeated. The CIA tried several times, employing the Mafia in some cases, to assassinate Fidel Castro. The U.S. imposed an unjust and immoral embargo that still exists—blocking Cuba’s ability to have normal trade with Western countries, to obtain needed medicines and agricultural and industrial goods.
Behind the Shift in Course: Imperialist Economics and Geopolitics
For the last 50 years, ten U.S. presidential administrations have tried to achieve regime change in Cuba by economic strangulation, political destabilization, and active attempts to overthrow the Cuban government. Have the U.S. imperialists given up on the goal of restoring a subordinate, client regime in Cuba? Have they decided to respect the national sovereignty of Cuba? Hardly. The U.S. has indeed shifted course...but what is happening is a change in tactics not in goal.
A decisive section of the U.S. ruling class, with Obama taking the lead, has concluded that the previous tack of diplomatic and economic isolation of Cuba and direct and indirect efforts to topple the Castro regime no longer serves the strategic interests of imperialism. Instead, the U.S. imperialists are aiming to use normalization of relations to achieve regime change from within—to create the conditions to turn Cuba, once again, into a neo-colony of U.S. imperialism. This is the reality that lies beneath the rhetoric of Obama’s “brave” and “bold” stroke to “break with the past.”
The Cuban economy is in serious crisis. The old-line leadership of Raul Castro and Fidel Castro is looking desperately for new props of economic support, and is willing to wheel and deal with the U.S. imperialists. And over the last five years, economic ties, trade, and financial flows, between the U.S. and Cuba have been growing. In these conditions, the U.S. imperialists are making a major move—and they have the upper hand. The Cuban leadership, for its part, is trying to use normalization and opening up to the U.S. as a way to hold on to power as the economic situation deteriorates.
Normalization is very much about U.S. capital sinking its fangs into Cuba—to extract super-profits from the labor of the Cuban people, to tap into its trained professional strata, and to plunder the resources of the island. The financial press is reporting on investment plans and proposals being drawn up by the likes of the agribusiness giant Cargill and Fanjul Corp (owned by a Cuban exile) that controls Domino Sugar. General Motors and Caterpillar have hailed Obama’s announcement.
But there are bigger strategic issues involved. The U.S.’s new stance towards Cuba serves broader geopolitical objectives: to reassert and tighten U.S. dominance over Latin America—what they have historically and arrogantly considered their “back yard.”
In waging their “war on terror,” their war on the world, since 9/11, the U.S. imperialists have not paid as much attention to Latin America as they have to the Middle East and Central Asia. In these circumstances, Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez and now Nicholas Maduro, was able to stake out more independent positions from the U.S. It has become Cuba’s most important source of economic support—and a thorn in the side of U.S. imperialism.
At the same time, capitalist China has emerged as a major economic rival to the U.S. in Latin America. China is now the second largest investor (behind the U.S.) in Latin America. It is the largest trading partner of several Latin American countries, including Brazil, which is the largest economy in Latin America. China has negotiated an agreement with Nicaragua to finance and construct a canal that will be longer and deeper than the Panama Canal.
All of this is of concern to the U.S. imperialists. Their change in course towards Cuba, to bring Cuba back into its imperial network through normalization of ties, is part of maneuvering to reassert U.S. hegemony in the Western hemisphere.
Clarity About Cuban Society: It Is Not Socialist
The Cuban leadership uses Marxist phrases. The Cuban economy has certain formal features that make it appear to be socialist: state-owned enterprises and extensive state-financed social programs. But this is not the essence of socialism, and Cuba is not a socialist society. Socialism is the momentous revolutionary leap away from capitalism towards communism. The socialist revolution is about putting an end to all exploitation and oppression. It is about empowering the masses of people, through the creation of a radically new and different state power, to increasingly take responsibility for running society, to ever more consciously change the world and change themselves—with the goal of creating a world community of humanity, where there are no longer class divisions and social inequalities, no longer social antagonism.
The achievement of communism requires visionary vanguard leadership basing itself on a scientific understanding of reality and how society and the world can be transformed in the interests of emancipating all of humanity. This is not Cuba. The revolution that Fidel Castro led did not break Cuba out of the bounds of bourgeois economic, political, and social relations.
Before 1959, Cuba had been a “monoculture”: an economy based on sugar production for the world market, dominated by U.S. imperialism. Castro did not lead and mobilize the Cuban people to radically restructure this economic legacy. Instead, the Cuban leadership sought a “quick fix.” Sugar would remain king of the Cuban economy, and the Cuban economy would remain hostage to the world market. But in place of the United States, Castro looked to the social-imperialist Soviet Union as its market for sugar and its chief source of credit. (The Soviet Union had ceased being a socialist society in the mid-1950s.)
The Cuban economy remained dependent and distorted. It was unable to provide for its own food requirements. Most importantly, the labor and energies of the Cuban people were not being applied to the all-around transformation of society and advance of world revolution but rather to the reproduction of relations of dependency and exploitation. Cuba became a kind of repressive welfare state in which the masses are kept powerless and economically chained to the logic of world capitalism. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cuban leadership has looked for new fixes. Tourism was expanded on a large scale. Prostitution reappeared as a social phenomenon. Foreign investment was welcomed in to exploit natural resources. Venezuela provided Cuba with cheap oil—and this has helped keep the economy afloat. But the collapse of world oil prices is sending the Venezuelan economy into a tailspin—and putting new pressures on the Cuban economy. This is not socialism.
Clarity About Bullshit: “U.S.-Style Freedoms”
A narrative is pumped out by imperial ideologues and the media about the great benefits that “U.S.-style freedoms” will supposedly bring to the Cuban people. It is obscene:
Open and free access to information through the web and social media? Yes, the United States offers “internet freedom”—while the NSA surveils and spies on citizens on a scale unmatched by any society in the world or in history.
The “rule of law” instead of “Castro’s repressive police state.” Tell that to a generation of Black and Latino youth for whom the justice system is legalized police brutality and murder and mass incarceration. Talk about the U.S’s respect for the “sanctity of human rights” to the prisoners at Guantánamo—held indefinitely without trial, water boarded, sleep-deprived, and force fed.
The market as an “empowering tool” unleashing the “entrepreneurial spirit”? Go to Haiti, and see how local subsistence agriculture, rice and pig production, was undermined and destroyed by U.S. political and economic power. Go to Honduras, to Guatemala, or Bangladesh and ask the women workers about the great benefits of sweatshop exploitation—factories run like prison compounds that are death traps.
The Cuban people have suffered from direct domination by U.S. imperialism from 1898 until 1959, and then 50 years of U.S. economic blockade, military invasion and threat, and interference. The U.S. has no right to diplomatically and economic isolate Cuba. But the resumption of relations between Cuba and the U.S. on the terms being dictated by U.S. imperialism does not represent anything positive for the Cuban people.
What is needed in Cuba and the whole world is genuine revolution.—an emancipatory revolution that aims to uproot all exploitation and oppression, all oppressive relations and ideas, where intellectual ferment and dissent are fostered, where the conditions are being created for human beings to truly flourish. This revolution is a monumental and complex challenge in today’s world. But it is the only alternative to the madness of this system. And it is possible.
by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary
Communist Party, USA
is running a series of essays and talks from Bob
Avakian, Chairman of the RCP, USA, on issues and
contradictions involved in the socialist transition
to communism. This series will address in depth
a range of questions, including epistemology and
method; the theory of the state; dictatorship
and democracy in socialist society; the forms
of the new state power; the role of and policy
toward classes and strata intermediate between
the proletariat and the imperialists in the new
society; the importance of dissent; the communist
view toward art; the overall approach of "solid
core with a lot of elasticity"; and a host of
other questions involved in bringing into being
a society that would move toward communism and
be a vibrant society in which people would actually
want to live.
This week's essay is taken from
Observations on Art and Culture, Science and
Philosophy, Bob Avakian, Insight
Press, Chicago, 2005.
As the world exists today and as people seek to change it, and particularly
in terms of the socialist transformation of society, as I see it there
are basically three alternatives that are possible. One is the world as
it is. Enough said about that. [Laughter.]
The second one is in a certain sense, almost literally and mechanically,
turning the world upside down. In other words, people who are now exploited
will no longer be exploited in the same way, people who now rule this
society will be prevented from ruling or influencing society in a significant
way. The basic economic structure of society will change, some of the
social relations will change, and some of the forms of political rule
will change, and some of the forms of culture and ideology will change,
but fundamentally the masses of people will not be increasingly and in
one leap after another drawn into the process of really transforming society.
This is really a vision of a revisionist society. If you think back to
the days of the Soviet Union, when it had become a revisionist society,
capitalist and imperialist in essence, but still socialist in name, when
they would be chided for their alleged or real violations of people’s
rights, they would often answer “Who are you in the West to be talking
about the violation of human rights—look at all the people in your
society who are unemployed, what more basic human right is there than
to have a job?”
Well, did they have a point? Yes, up to a point. But fundamentally what
they were putting forward, the vision of society that they were projecting,
was a social welfare kind of society in which fundamentally the role of
the masses of people is no different than it is under the classical form
of capitalism. The answer about the rights of the people cannot be reduced
to the right to have a job and earn an income, as basic as that is. There
is the question of are we really going to transform society so that in
every respect, not only economically but socially, politically, ideologically,
and culturally, it really is superior to capitalist society. A society
that not only meets the needs of the masses of people, but really is characterized
increasingly by the conscious expression and initiative of the masses
This is a more fundamental transformation than simply a kind of social
welfare, socialist in name but really capitalist in essence society, where
the role of the masses of people is still largely reduced to being producers
of wealth, but not people who thrash out all the larger questions of affairs
of state, the direction of society, culture, philosophy, science, the
arts, and so on. The revisionist model is a narrow, economist view of
socialism. It reduces the people, in their activity, to simply the economic
sphere of society, and in a limited way at that—simply their social
welfare with regard to the economy. It doesn’t even think about
transforming the world outlook of the people as they in turn change the
world around them.
And you cannot have a new society and a new world with the same outlook
that people are indoctrinated and inculcated with in this society. You
cannot have a real revolutionary transformation of society and abolition
of unequal social as well as economic relations and political relations
if people still approach the world in the way in which they’re conditioned
and limited and constrained to approach it now. How can the masses of
people really take up the task of consciously changing the world if their
outlook and their approach to the world remains what it is under this
system? It’s impossible, and this situation will simply reproduce
the great inequalities in every sphere of society that I’ve been
The third alternative is a real radical rupture. Marx and Engels said
in the Communist Manifesto that the communist revolution represents
a radical rupture with traditional property relations and with traditional
ideas. And the one is not possible without the other. They are mutually
reinforcing, one way or the other.
If you have a society in which the fundamental role of women is to be
breeders of children, how can you have a society in which there is equality
between men and women? You cannot. And if you don’t attack and uproot
the traditions, the morals, and so on, that reinforce that role, how can
you transform the relations between men and women and abolish the deep-seated
inequalities that are bound up with the whole division of society into
oppressors and oppressed, exploiters and exploited? You cannot.
So the third alternative is a real radical rupture in every sphere, a
radically different synthesis, to put it that way. Or to put it another
way, it’s a society and a world that the great majority of people
would actually want to live in. One in which not only do they not have
to worry about where their next meal is coming from, or if they get sick
whether they’re going to be told that they can’t have health
care because they can’t pay for it, as important as that is; but
one in which they are actually taking up, wrangling with, and increasingly
making their own province all the different spheres of society.
Achieving that kind of a society, and that kind of a world, is a very
profound challenge. It’s much more profound than simply changing
a few forms of ownership of the economy and making sure that, on that
basis, people’s social welfare is taken care of, but you still have
people who are taking care of that for the masses of people;
and all the spheres of science, the arts, philosophy, and all the rest
are basically the province of a few. And the political decision-making
process remains the province of a few.
To really leap beyond that is a tremendous and world-historic struggle
that we’ve been embarked on since the Russian revolution (not counting
the very short-lived and limited experience of the Paris Commune)—and
in which we reached the high point with the Chinese revolution and in
particular the Cultural Revolution—but from which we’ve been
thrown back temporarily.
So we need to make a further leap on the basis of summing up very deeply
all that experience. There are some very real and vexing problems that
we have to confront and advance through in order to draw from the best
of the past, but go further and do even better in the future.
Now I want to say a few things in this context about totalitarianism.
Just as an aside here, I find it very interesting that you can read innumerable
books delving deeply into the psyche of Stalin or Lenin or Mao—“What
went on in the deranged minds of these people [laughter] that
led them to think they could remake the world in their maddened image
[laughter] and led them, in the name of some greater moral
good, to bring great catastrophe on the humanity that they were affecting?”
I don’t know how many books I’ve seen like that. I have never
yet seen—maybe there are some, but I have never seen—a study
of the deranged psyche of Thomas Jefferson [laughter] or George
Washington: “How is it that a person could come to believe in their
own mind [laughter] that they were benefiting not only humanity
in general, but other human beings whom they owned? [laughter] What depth of psychological derangement must be involved in that? [laughter] What is more totalitarian than actually owning other
Or what about the study of the depths of the depraved minds of Lyndon
Johnson or Ronald Reagan [laughter], who murdered millions
of people, including vast numbers of children? “What must have gone
wrong, somewhere in their childhood or somewhere else in their lives?
[laughter] What demented ideas must they somehow have internalized
that led them to believe that in the name of the shining city on the hill,
or whatever [laughter], they had the right and the obligation
to slaughter thousands and millions of innocent people?”
I have never seen those studies. Certainly I haven’t read about
them in the New York Times Book Review section. [laughter]
Still, there are some real questions that are raised about totalitarianism
by the ideologues and the “intellectual camp followers” of
the imperialists that do need to be taken on. In particular, they make
the charge that in a society which they call totalitarian, but which is
in reality the dictatorship of the proletariat, there is first of all
an official ideology that everyone has to profess belief in, in order
to get along in that society. And there is an official politics that everyone
has to be involved in, in order to get along in that society and not get
in trouble. Well, what about this?
Fundamentally, this is a distortion of what has gone on in socialist
societies: why these revolutions were necessary in the first place and
what they were seeking to accomplish and to overcome, and how they were
going about doing that. The reality is that, for the great masses of people
in capitalist (and certainly in feudal) society, they are barred from
really being involved in any significant way in official politics and
the politics that actually affect the affairs of state and the direction
of society. And they are indoctrinated with an outlook and methodology
and ideology that prevents them—discourages them and actively obstructs
them—from really understanding the world as it is and changing it
consciously. And that is what socialist revolutions seek to change, as
well as bringing about fundamental changes in the economy and the social
But what about this question of official ideology that everyone has to
profess? Well, I think we have more to sum up about that from the history
of socialist society and the dictatorship of the proletariat so far.
With regard to the question of the party, I think two things are definitely
true. One, you need a vanguard party to lead this revolution and to lead
the new state. Two, that party has to have an ideology that unifies it,
an ideology that correctly reflects and enables people to consciously
change reality, which is communist ideology.
But, more broadly, should everyone in society have to profess this ideology
in order to get along? No. Those who are won over to this ideology should
proclaim it and struggle for it. Those who are not convinced of it should
say so. Those who disagree with it should say that. And there should be
struggle. Something has to lead—the correct ideology that really
enables people to get at the truth, and to do something with it in their
interests, has to lead; but that doesn’t mean everyone should have
to profess it, in my opinion. And this is just my opinion. But it’s
worth digging into this a bit, it’s worth exploring and wrangling
with the question.
April 14, 2015 UC Berkeley #ShutDownA14 Sather Gate Photo: melaniejaycee@Instagram
If you knew that a murderer was living next door would you do something? What if you witnessed the murder happen, would you demand for justice then? What if countless people were losing their lives every day at the hands of one notorious gang? We have all seen the videos of the crimes the police commit against humanity--killing people who are running away, have their hands up, are laying on the ground or doing nothing. People beaten, tased, stomped, choked and shot to death. If a photo is worth a thousand words, you would assume a video would be worth enough to indict, convict, and send these killer cops to jail. And yet they continue to get away with murder. If you are Black or Brown, you live under that threat every day of your life. If you don't, you probably know someone who does. There is a genocide happening right under our noses. It is a slow genocide now, but you look at people like Trump and you see how this genocide could escalate. The time to fight this is NOW!
SF State: 12 Noon at Malcolm X Plaza UCLA: 11:30AM Meet at Bruin Plaza Shut Down Bruin Walk! UC Riverside: 11:15AM at the Bell Tower University of Wisconsin, Madison: 11AM at Bascom Hill Antelope Valley College: 12:30 by the library Cal State East Bay: TBA Cal State Monterey Bay: TBA, contact Izzy if you are in Monterey area 916-765-8593 Kent State, Ohio: TBA College of Staten Island, NY: TBA Agnes Scott College, GA: No More Stolen Lives Tour, 7PM at the Fire Place Lounge in the Alston Campus Center
We the students are taking a collective stance in opposition to the mass murder of men and women from our communities. We have seen the United states government commit genocide against the indigenous peoples of the world, enslave and torture Africans as well as support and finance global terror through countless wars. What has changed? That's why we the students stand up in opposition to the perpetual terror and brutality carried out by the state via the police. The changes that we want to see in the world do not happen by hashtags and Facebook likes, they happen by rising up and fighting for the future you want to make a reality.
On Thursday April 21, we the students are calling for a national day of action—walkouts, protests, powerful manifestations of resistance on campuses across the country—in which we pose to each other the question: Which side are you on? If you are disgusted by the systematic murder of citizens by the state, if you oppose the targeting and disproportionate mass incarceration of Black and Brown people, you need to be a part of this strike and make a statement by standing with your fellow students as well as community members. However, if you feel that these issues do not pertain to you, know this: If they come for people of color but you are not, then they come for women but you are not, then they come for the poor but you are not, who will be left to protest in your name?
We as students have a crucial role and responsibility in standing up to STOP police terror. 50 years ago students took up the fight against the war in Vietnam, the Black and Chicano liberation struggle, the Women's liberation movement. And they helped to rock this system to its foundation. Today we need to do even more and go even further. Students always get asked what your major is, what career you want... but how often do we get asked what kind of world you want to live in? Everything in society is telling us to find our place within this messed up system. On Thursday April 21, we declare that we refuse to live in a world where law enforcement has a green light to brutalize and murder people.
The No More Stolen Lives Tour will go to college campuses and neighborhoods across the country saying the names of the 1000's of people whose lives have been stolen by those who are sworn to protect and serve. Family members of police murder victims will travel to these areas and connect with family from those areas to tell the stories of their murdered loved ones. This will powerfully put before all of society the reality that murder by police is a widespread, systemic problem, not a few isolate incidents or tragic accidents. It will recapture the humanity of the victims of killer cops who are demonized and criminalized in police reports and media coverage after their lives are stolen. This tour will challenge those who feel they can sit on the sidelines and be neutral in the face of this horrific injustice.
"No More Stolen Lives Tour" at San Francisco State. Photo: Special to revcom.us/Revolution
"Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony? Check yes or no." For three years the Incarceration to Education Coalition at New York University (NYU) has been organizing to abolish this checkbox from NYU's admissions application, and has aligned itself with similar groups at other universities who are trying to fight against the effects of systematic mass incarceration of Black and Latino peoples in this country, fighting against the New Jim Crow. With almost no response to their efforts, on March 25 about two dozen students marched into Kimmel Hall at New York University (NYU) in New York City and occupied the steps leading into the hall demanding NYU "abolish the box."
As one of the organizers wrote, "When we ask about criminal justice history in this country, what are we asking? Not about GPA or academic prowess. Not about ambition or drive. Not often enough about respect or morality. We find out if you've been marginalized." She went on to talk about NYU being in "A city that embraced racial profiling. A city whose blood boiled when stop-and-frisk was deemed unconstitutional in 2014. Blacks make up 25% of the city's population, less than 5% of the university student body, and over 50% of the city's jail population."
Students are determined that the "box" be completely abolished and will accept nothing less.
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.
Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Talking with Organizers for the National Student Day of Action to STOP Police Terror
A Vision to WAKE Up and SHAKE Up Campuses!
March 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
An important CALL has been issued for “April 21: National Student Day of Action to STOP Police Terror! WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?”Revolution newspaper/revcom.us interviewed a number of students in California who are organizing for this Day of Action—some who are members of the Revolution Club, and some who are very new to the movement for revolution and new to taking up the struggle against police murder and brutality. We learned a number of things from talking to these students, including lessons for building for this day that show the potential for this being taken up very broadly among students. We urge students to take up this Call and write to revcom.us about their experiences (firstname.lastname@example.org).
One thing we learned is that these students are coming together from very different backgrounds and experiences, but they all feel passionately about this issue and the urgent need for students to take up this struggle on campus as part of really putting a STOP to an intolerable situation.
One white skater said he comes from a small town where there were like only five Black kids in his high school and little awareness about police brutality. He said his parents always taught him to speak up and took him to a lot of anti-war protests when he was young. But also he himself got fucked with by the police a lot because he was a skater.
A Latina student who helped write the Call said that taking a class where she read The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander sparked her interest in the struggle around police brutality and caused her to begin to have big questions about the whole way this system has used the War on Drugs to demonize Black and Latino people to justify the brutality against them and mass incarceration. She said, “When I started reading that it just opened my eyes—how the War on Drugs was a whole façade for mass incarceration.... They used racist labeling like ‘welfare queens’ and ‘super-predators.’ .... [This] opened my eyes to like, that’s them programming us to think like that, to think it’s just about targeting criminals but it’s not—it’s really about targeting certain races.”
She said that when she was growing up in East LA, “It was just like normal for the police to attack people that looked like us, I just assumed it was like normal. Because I heard so many stories about it growing up from my cousins, my grandpa, my aunts and uncles, I didn’t realize until I grew up and got older that this isn’t right—that this is not normal for this to happen. It really happened when I changed location. I lived in Southern California in a Latino-dominated area where there was hardly any other races around us. But then when I started to experience other places and heard about other experiences where this wasn’t normal, I would tell people stories about my dad growing up, to my friends, and they would go, like whoa, that’s too extreme, why didn’t you do anything about it and I was like, well, what are we going to do, there’s a cop. I don’t know how it changed exactly, I guess it was just like a process, growing up and focusing more on the issues going on in the world than the issues going on in my high school or the drama going on in my cliques.”
Another student, a Black woman who helped write the Call, talked about how she comes from afamily that has a lot of people in the police and military. She said, “Growing up with them was pretty tough because I’ve always been a person that has kind of spoken out against those things, I’m a pretty outspoken person about that type of stuff. So just growing up, I was just constantly clashing with the people who I was related to. Then in college and getting involved was just natural for me... I really tried to find ways to get involved on campus, and try and not only promote what I believed, but to take a stand against something that is really wrong, that is objectively wrong.” She said, “I started with Rise Up October last year, I did fundraising and leafleting. But before that I was in the Black Student Union on campuses, but they weren’t really doing enough in my opinion, wasn’t challenging enough, so that’s when I decided to stick with revcom.us”
A member of the Revolution Club who recently graduated from SF [San Francisco] State said that going to an anti-July 4th picnic and hearing Bob Avakian was a turning point in her getting involved in the struggle around police brutality, but also beginning to put this struggle into the larger framework of the need for revolution. She said, “The first time I heard BA was when they played one of the tapes from the Revolution talk and I heard him say there’s no Black man that walks around that does not have the fear of getting murdered by the police. So when I heard that I kind of thought about it and thought that’s basically true and it says a lot about America and what America represents. It kind of resonated and I guess that that’s when I decided to start getting involved in fighting police murder and brutality.”
Struggling for a Vision for the Day
The second big thing these students talked about was the vision they have for this day, what they hope to accomplish, and what kind of struggle needs to be waged to make this happen. A number of students talked about how this day has to be a day to really WAKE people up, to really do something that disrupts “business as usual,” to make people confront the reality of the situation.As one student put it, “We want to have a rally that goes against business as usual because business as usual in this country is genocide of Black people.”
One Rev Club member said, “What I would like to see happen on [this campus] would be either to have as large number of students as possible walking out of school and doing protests on campus or out in the community at large. We’ve been working with multiple organizations. And I believe we’ll be calling for a demonstration that day that students will walk out of school to attend... So that’s our vision—to have as many students as possible walk out and actually use this as a launching pad to build permanent organizations on these campuses.”
There have been positive responses from both students and professors/teachers. One student reported that, “One of my professors, when I told her about it, she said, if you walk out, I’ll walk out with you.” But students also talked about how it is a struggle sometimes to wrench students out of how they are going about their lives, only thinking about pretty insignificant things, just being concerned about themselves. One of the organizers at SF State said, “This is such an important issue and we need to start caring about issues that are important in our society versus like what’s going on with the Kardashians. That’s what I envision, that one day people will stop caring about the insignificant stuff and start caring about what’s really happening to our fellow peers.”
The Rev Club organizer at SF State talked about how a lot of times there is this “narrowness among students where they’re thinking about themselves and getting through school and then becoming somebody. But they don’t think about the world because they’re not supposed to.” She said you ask them, “Is the only thing you want to do in life is get good grades and think about yourself or do you want to think about how you want to get free?” And she says she picked up a sharp point of agitation from listening to Sunsara Taylor, who challenged students saying, “They ask you what you want to be when you grow up but they never ask you what kind of world you want to live in.”
One organizer at SF State said, “I think a lot of people care about the issue and know about the issue. But when it comes to actually taking a stand and believing they can make a change, that’s where we’re really lacking, and what people really need to understand is that you have an opinion and you have a voice and when you use it and when you stand firm with it and you’re persistent, then that’s when things get changed. But as of right now, I think that a lot of people want to do things the easy way. But this is not something that’s easy; it’s not something that’s even easy to talk about. And I think that’s what’s most important, that we have to help people understand and talk to them about the issue of police brutality in ways that they can get involved,.”
A Black student who has been building the struggle against police murder and brutality on his campus said, “The students, most of them are in school so they can move up, and they don’t really see it as an issue for them, but I’m trying to convey it to them and trying to get them to have a different perception on what’s happening and get them to see that it’s not just happening to criminals, it’s happening to the poor, and now and then it happens to middle class people as well. So I just want them to know that this is a real issue. It’s a real system operating, and it’s a real tyranny going on. I’m just trying to get that through to them. Just trying to figure out a way to relate it to them, to know that this will affect them whether it affects them directly or indirectly, it will affect them eventually. So it’s important for them to stand up with these people that have been directly affected already.”
The “Presence” of BA
A third major thing that struck us in talking to these students was the “presence” of BA and the whole understanding that he has brought forward of the problem we face and the solution to it of communist revolution.
The leadership of the Rev Club members is providing a situation where lots of different people are getting involved, coming at this from different viewpoints and understandings of what is the problem and what is the solution—and as everyone is united around the need to fight police murder and brutality and build for this day, students are being introduced to the leadership of Bob Avakian and the movement for revolution and beginning to grapple with the bigger questions of what it’s really going to take to get to a whole new world, to emancipate all of humanity.
A Rev Club member recounted how someone from the Black Student Union said that he was reticent to take up the Day because “if people see me with you every time you guys have an event, people are going to think I’m in this party. And I don’t really know enough to represent that, so I’m not sure, I’m hesitant about that.” So the Rev Club member said, “You can just be honest and tell people you’re not in the party. But you can also tell people I like some of what they do and I work with them on certain things.” But he also said, “If you feel like you don’t know enough, you’ve got to go the source. Come to the BA Everywhere dinner, go to revcom.us, go to the books—and really look at this program and what it’s saying and compare and contrast this to other programs and how they name the problem and solution.”
Several newer people around the Rev Club talked about how they are seriously checking out what BA and the Revolutionary Communist Party are about. These students are “fighting the power” and as they are doing this, they are transforming their own thinking, and their sense of urgency around the issue of police murder and brutality is increasingly being linked to a growing feeling that these egregious crimes against the people are linked up to something more systemic and fundamental about the nature of America.
The skater talked about how a lot of people have the view that “it’s not all cops” to which he says, “It’s easier to say that it’s not the whole system, that it’s not every cop. But if you look at the facts and you do your research, and have an open mind about it you can see that it is every police officer that is supporting the system that allows the police to do whatever they want to you.” He says he’s not in the Rev Club but, “I support a lot of what they’ve done, what I’ve heard from them so far. But I wouldn’t say that I’m with them yet cause I haven’t read enough about Bob Avakian and enough about this. But I’m supporting it right now because I think that this is the best thing that I can find that’s worth fighting for right now.” When asked about what is attracting him to the Rev Club he said, said, “It’s the only group of protesters that have offered an alternative, that have a plan. That it’s not just, oh, we’re going to go out and protest so that more people know but then there isn’t really a plan after that. So it seems like there is a answer for it—like we’re going to get people aware of why we’re fighting police brutality, why we need to fight against capitalism and imperialism and then we start working toward the end goal of communism—which I don’t really know too much about that right now. But I would rather try communism than people just keep getting oppressed and getting killed by the police.”
One Rev Club member talked about coming at this day from the standpoint of “Humanity needs revolution and communism” and “Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.” He said, “Strategically, this is a major fault line in society. The role of the police—what is the real role of the police—to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. Most people on campus, and everywhere, they don’t quite understand what this quote from BA [from BAsics on about the role of the police] means. They don’t understand what goes into saying that, why it’s true. Lot of people would say, yeah I agree with you about the police. But do they really understand the role of police under this society, why they keep getting away with murder? They have to go there in their thinking. And I think the Revolution Club needs to bring this higher reality and understanding to them and challenge them to really grasp that this is true. And to grasp that we can have a whole different society. Like—oh, why are you bringing in that communism, that BA? Well, if you want to get to a world without police murder—because he authored this Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and you’ve got a great, striking example of how we could uproot national oppression, how we could dismantle current imperialist USA, how we could have a whole different political and economic system, culture, people’s security forces that would rather risk their own lives than kill one of the masses like they do over and over again in this country.”
Another Rev Club member who volunteered to go to New York City last year to build for Rise Up October said that there are a lot of lessons to sum up from that experience and that “this time we are doing things differently,” challenging the students themselves to take the initiative in things like writing the Call and planting a pole that, “We are followers of BA and we think that humanity as a whole needs to be emancipated through revolution and we’re fighting for a communist world where people are not going to be exploited like in the past.” She went on to say, “We need to be fighting the power, but that [alone] isn’t enough, we have to transform the people for revolution. And in the fight against murder by police, it’s egregious and it must be stopped, it’s one of the key contradictions in this country, this country was founded on slavery and the oppression of Black people and we want to unite with people who are fighting this fight. But what’s more important and part of our goal is to let everybody know about who BA is...he’s like the Marx of our time. He’s figured how we’re going to get to this communist world and if you’re about that and you’re about ending this genocide then you should get with us and you should fight with us against murder by police while learning more about who BA is.”
Presidential Candidates Declare Intent to Commit War Crimes
April 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Monday, March 21, all remaining presidential candidates told you they’re ready to support and carry out horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity.
They did so before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) by endorsing, celebrating, and pledging support for the state of Israel. Donald Trump lashed out at any attempt to rein in Israel. Ted Cruz declared Palestine—home to six million Palestinians—didn’t even exist. John Kasich: the U.S. should give Israel “our 100 percent support.” Hillary Clinton: the “United States and Israel must be closer than ever” and the U.S. must “provide Israel with the most sophisticated defense technology.” Bernie Sanders sent a statement declaring: “Israel is one of America’s closest allies.”
This translates into continuing and stepping up U.S. backing for this settler-colonial state’s ongoing abuse, torture, killing, and genocidal ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, such as Israel’s 50-day rolling massacre in Gaza in 2014 when 2,251 Palestinians, including 551 children, were slaughtered in homes, schools, and UN shelters.
So now you know. All the presidential candidates have openly told you and the world that they are ready to carry out war crimes and crimes against humanity in order to defend Israel in service of the U.S. empire. And voting for ANY of these candidates means voting for towering crimes against the people... and makes YOU complicit in those crimes.
International Movement to Condemn and Sanction Israeli War Crimes Undermining U.S.-Israeli Legitimacy
March 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
At one point in Hillary Clinton’s rabid speech to AIPAC (American Israeli Public Affairs Committee) on March 21, she identified “three evolving threats... converging to make the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever.” [our emphasis] And what are those threats, according to the leading candidate to be the next U.S. president? “Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to de-legitimize Israel on the world stage.” [our emphasis]
After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:12
Clinton then made clear what the source of that third threat was: “Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions known as BDS.” [our emphasis] She then branded “all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel” as anti-Semitism. And finally Clinton went on to identify the key location where this threat must be stopped—the college campuses in this country, and internationally:
I’ve been sounding the alarm for a while now. As I wrote last year in a letter to the heads of major American Jewish organizations, we have to be united in fighting back against BDS.... To all the college students who may have encountered this on campus, I hope you stay strong. Keep speaking out. Don’t let anyone silence you, bully you or try to shut down debate, especially in places of learning like colleges and universities.
One of the letters Clinton wrote was to the billionaire arch-Zionist mega-donor and longtime Clinton family supporter, Haim Saban. In it she asked for his “thoughts and recommendations” on how to counter BDS: “From Congress and state legislatures to boardrooms and classrooms....” [our emphasis]. In fact, on the federal, state, and municipal levels of government, bills have been introduced, and in some cases become law, that punish businesses, colleges and universities that support the BDS Movement. In July 2015, the governor of Illinois signed the country’s first explicitly anti-BDS state law. This new law requires the creation of a state-run blacklist of foreign companies that boycott Israel and compels the state’s pension fund to divest from those companies.
What is BDS? What makes it so threatening to Israel and its imperialist backers?
The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) is a worldwide campaign aiming to put economic and political pressure on Israel to end its occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the Golan Heights; for full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and for the right of return of Palestinian refugees. It was started in 2005 by more than 170 Palestinian non-governmental organizations, and has won the support of Israeli citizens, of students and academics, trade unions, political parties, some governmental entities, and masses of people all over the world, including in this country.
One development that has come under attack is the movement of academic organizations to vote to boycott Israeli schools because of Israel’s violations of international law. The American Studies Association passed such a boycott in 2014 by an overwhelming vote. In response, bills were introduced in state legislatures, such as in New York that would pull state funding from any New York college that boycotts Israel.
Hundreds of university professors in England, and hundreds more in Italy, have signed statements saying they will no longer cooperate with Israeli academic institutions. The statement from the UK professors noted that “We couldn’t have done this five years ago. The change in mood is palpable; many people have been critical of Israel and its policies privately, but until now, many have not thought they wanted to state this publicly. It represents a clear shift in the feelings people have about Israel.” Despite blatant threats to these kinds of actions, in November 2015 the American Anthropological Association—the largest academic association in this country to do so up to this point—voted to boycott any formal collaboration with Israeli academic institutions.
“Does the term ‘apartheid’ fit Israel? Of course it does.”
The BDS Movement draws its inspiration from the anti-apartheid campaigns against white minority rule in South Africa. For nearly 50 years under South African apartheid, racial segregation was legal, and the rights, associations, and movements of the majority black population and other ethnic minorities were controlled under white minority rule. This anti-apartheid movement saw students on campuses across the U.S. and internationally carry out occupations and other protests against South Africa; artists boycotted South Africa, refusing to perform there; and it was banned from participating in many international sports activities. South Africa did not compete in the Olympics from 1964 to 1988 as it more and more came to be viewed as a pariah around the world.
If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:12
Saree Makdisi, UCLA Professor of English and comparative literature and author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, wrote an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times in 2014,“Does the term ‘apartheid’ fit Israel? Of course it does.” There Makdisi details the actual conditions and treatment of Palestinians in the Jewish state. And then he sums it up:
And so it goes in all domains of life, from birth to death: a systematically, vigilantly policed separation of the two populations and utter contempt for the principle of equality. One group—stripped of property and rights, expelled, humiliated, punished, demolished, imprisoned and at times driven to the edge of starvation (down to the meticulously calculated last calorie)—has withered. The other group—its freedom of movement and of development not merely unrestricted but actively encouraged—has flourished, and its religious and cultural symbols adorn the regalia of the state and are emblazoned on the state flag. The question is not whether the term “apartheid” applies here. It is why it should cause such an outcry when it is used. (Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2014)
The truth is, Israel is illegitimate. Its existence is based on an ethnic cleansing which destroyed 400 Palestinian villages; massacred thousands of civilians; drove almost a million Palestinians into refugee camps in neighboring countries; and established an apartheid system that has repeatedly violated international law. Israel’s continued occupation, and its slaughter of the Palestinian people in Gaza in recent years, has been fueling international condemnation. In 2014, with the full support of the U.S., Israel launched a 50-day-long military operation, in fact an orchestrated massacre, killing more than 2,100 Palestinians, wounding another 11,000, and traumatizing the entire Gazan population of 1.7 million. And Israel again attacked Gaza in 2015, killing hundreds more. In Israeli military circles, these war crimes and crimes against humanity are referred to by the obscene phrase “mowing the lawn.”
University of California Regents take up Hillary Clinton’s call
Hillary Clinton’s message has been received by the Regents of the University of California who have, for the past year—under the leadership of the former head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano—devoted time and energy to drafting a brand-new statement they are calling “Principles Against Intolerance.” The draft of their “Principles” included this statement: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.” The driving force behind this effort has not been some widespread demand from the students and faculty on the campuses, but from powerful pro-Zionist forces mainly working outside academia, out to stop the growing BDS Movement at the UC campuses. While there has been an increased polarization on the campuses, which has seen growing racist attacks on Black and other minority students, LGBTQ students, Muslim students, and immigrants in general, the draft of the Regents’ statement chose to single out just one so-called expression of intolerance, anti-Zionism, which they want to ban by declaring it a form of anti-Semitism.
The efforts of the UC Regents to use these “Principles” to shut down the BDS Movement and any serious criticism of U.S.-Israeli crimes have met with significant opposition from within academia, and beyond. The Academic Council of the UC Academic Senate opposed it, as did the UAW local representing more than 12,000 academic student employees; and the senior counsel at the ACLU of Northern California said the equation of anti-Semitism and “anti-Zionism” threatens free speech principles.
Anti-Semitism—superstitious and violent hatred of Jewish people—was a core element of the rule of oppressive political and Christian religious authorities in Europe for a thousand years. Jewish people were demonized as “Christ killers” and the discontent of oppressed people, kept in dark ignorance of the real causes of their oppression, was channeled into periodic spasms of violence against Jews. This reached genocidal proportions in Hitler’s murder of six million Jews. (For a discussion of anti-Semitism, Hitler, and the Holocaust, see “Revolution Responds to Question on Nature of Holocaust” in the special issue of Revolution on Israel, which is downloadable as a PDF.).
The movement on campuses to oppose Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. To claim that opposing Zionism is the same as anti-Semitism is like claiming that people who opposed the viciously white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa were “anti-Boer,” since the Boer (Afrikaaner) settlers in South Africa who enforced apartheid were themselves victims of discrimination and persecution in Europe and for a time, by the British in South Africa.
An Israeli student at UCLA who is a student leader for Jewish Voice for Peace gave a powerful, compelling statement against the attempt to suppress debate over a crucial question in the world:
This document does not represent my lived experience as an Israeli student at UCLA. As a student who considers my work advocating for Palestinian human rights as an expression of my Jewish values, I am surprised to see that criticism of a modern nation-state that regularly violates international law is so centered in a report against intolerance. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism, and prejudices against both undocumented and LGBTQ students have no place on our campuses. But political debate over Zionism and the abusive policies of the state of Israel absolutely should be debated vigorously, not silenced by accusations of discrimination. (Al-Bushra, March 16, 2016)
UC Regents maneuver to keep their attack on anti-Zionism
On the eve of the March 23, 2016 meeting where the final version was to be made public, Saree Makdisi and Judith Butler, Maxine Elliott Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley, published a stinging op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, “Suppressing criticism of Zionism on campus is catastrophic censorship.” They called the Regents’ principles of intolerance “a thinly disguised attempt to suppress academic freedom and stifle open debate on our campuses.... If the report is adopted, scholarship and teaching that include critical perspectives deemed ‘anti-Zionist’ could be branded illegitimate, and open discussion shut down.” These scholars go on to expose that the report is just “the latest manifestation of a well-funded and increasingly desperate—even panicky—political campaign to eradicate criticism of Israeli policy from American campuses,” in the face of a compelling student movement for Palestinian rights, and the growth of Jewish voices distancing themselves from Zionism. And then they go on to reveal the following:
And the report was produced under a cloud of external pressure by, among others, UC regent Richard Blum, who publicly issued a veiled threat: “My wife, and your senior senator”—Dianne Feinstein—“is prepared to be critical of this university,” unless UC finds a way to punish the supposed new form of anti-Semitism.
When the UC Regents held the March 23 public meeting, they presented an “amended” version of their “Principles Against Intolerance”—still finding a tortured way to get on record an illegitimate connection between anti-Semitism and political opposition to Zionism. Now, in a “contextual statement,” it says:
Opposition to Zionism often is expressed in ways that are not simply statements of disagreement over politics and policy, but also assertions of prejudice and intolerance toward Jewish people and culture. Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.
This version of their “Principles” was passed unanimously by the Regents. And within days it was announced that the UC Regents intend to monitor “intolerance” by receiving regular reports of instances of intolerance.
Everyone who sees the danger in these moves being led by the political representatives of this country’s ruling class—aimed at silencing and crushing opposition and resistance to the ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people by the Israeli government in service of U.S. imperialist interests—have an internationalist responsibility to find the ways to support and join in the struggle to defeat these attacks against BDS, and on the whole movement in support of the liberation of the Palestinian people, in ways that further delegitimize the crimes of Israel and the U.S. What the “U.S.-Israeli Alliance” represents is not in the interests of the great majority of the people in this country, nor those of the people of the world. Our starting point should be grounded in the revolutionary internationalist orientation brought forward by Bob Avakian:
The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way. (BAsics 3:8)
Why the Bees Are Disappearing—and What It Means for the Planet and Humanity
by Orpheus Reed | March 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A Western honey bee forages on a Spanish needle. The orange mass on the bee's hind leg is her pollen basket. Photo: Bob Peterson from North Palm Beach, Florida, Planet Earth! https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38199011
Over the past decade, bees have been disappearing and dying worldwide in disturbing numbers. In the first years of this, beekeepers would often find whole colonies of their adult honey bees just gone, never to return. Often only a few bees would be left in the hive, taking care of the queen and the immature bees. This disappearance of bees from large numbers of hives came known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). In recent years, it has become more common to find huge numbers of dead bees around the hives—or colonies dwindling away to nothing with remaining bees weakened and unable to flourish.
The collapse, dying off, and weakening of honey bee colonies has become an ongoing worldwide phenomenon. It was not uncommon in “normal” years for fairly large numbers of bee hives to be lost due to various factors. But now, bee hives are being lost at about twice the normal rate.
It’s estimated that 10 million bee hives were lost worldwide from 2007 to 2013. Beekeepers in the U.S. and Europe report close to a third of their hives have been lost each year for much of the last decade. Last year, about 42 percent of bee colonies were lost in the U.S. Some beekeepers have had almost all of their hives destroyed.
This is a very big deal, a serious threat to humanity and the natural world. But the ruling classes of the world are not responding to this crisis as the huge threat it is. More essentially, they are unable to respond in this way because of the way agriculture is carried out under the capitalist mode of production and how that requires them to interact with the natural world. This point will be returned to later in the article.
Foraging bees collect pollen and nectar from flowering plants to feed themselves and their colonies. In doing this, bees often spread pollen from the male parts of a flower to the female parts of a flower of the same species. This fertilizes the plant ovaries, resulting in the production of seeds and fruit.
Pollination by bees—domesticated honey bees as well as wild bees, of which there are 20,000 species worldwide—is responsible for providing an estimated one out of every three bites of food humans put into their mouths. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN), more than three-quarters of the world’s food crops rely at least in part on pollination by animals. Most fruit crops; many diverse vegetables like tomatoes, cauliflower, squash; many bean varieties; nuts like almonds; hay and alfalfa; and many more plants vital for human life require pollination.
And it’s not just bees that have been dying off. Wild and domesticated bees are the main pollinators, but there are many other wild pollinators—butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, different types of birds, and even bats. According to a UN diversity panel, 40 percent of invertebrate pollinator species (“invertebrates” are animals without a backbone, including bees, butterflies, and other insects) face extinction worldwide. Sixteen percent of vertebrate pollinators (“vertebrates” are animals with a backbone, including various birds and bats) are facing global extinction. One invertebrate pollinator is the beautiful and iconic monarch butterfly. Each year these amazing creatures migrate as far as 2,800 miles from Canada to Mexico in the fall. In 1990 there were an estimated 1 billion monarch butterflies—only 30 million remain now, 3 percent of the earlier population.
The killing off of bees and other pollinators threatens the future of the world food supply with potentially huge consequences for large sections of humanity worldwide.
And beyond this, it’s a threat to world ecosystems in general. Nearly 90 percent of wild flowering plants depend to some extent on pollination by animals. These plants are increasingly at risk from the decline of pollinators. This can have enormous disruptive consequences for all the plants and animals that may interact with or depend on these flowering plants. So the decline of pollinators could have a cascading impact on entire ecosystems.
In digging into the potential causes of what is happening to bees and other pollinators, what comes into view is that there are a number of different factors involved, different ways that pollinators are being impacted.
Bee health is dependent on a variety of accessible flowering plants at least for large parts of the year, and much natural habitat that bees rely on has been destroyed.
Bees face a swarm of pathogens, biological agents that can cause harm to or kill an organism. For instance, the Varroa destroyer mite literally sucks bee lymph (the equivalent of blood in humans) and helps spread viruses that can be deadly to bees. Bees are susceptible to infection by the Nosema fungus, which can kill them. In many cases, the chemicals that big companies like Bayer, Dow and Monsanto market to kill off these pathogens can also weaken or even kill the bees they’re supposed to protect. These chemicals are themselves toxic and can weaken bees’ natural genetic defenses to fight off pathogens, making the “cure” as bad or worse than the original pathogen.
Another factor is climate change, which is being driven by the relentless spewing of greenhouse gases under the workings of global capitalism-imperialism. Climate change is harming pollinator species and the plants that rely on them because the timing when plants flower and the ranges where flowering plants and the animals tend to live are being transformed, disrupting their interaction.
And there is increasingly strong evidence that pesticides, especially a relatively new class of pesticides called neonicotinoids (or “neonics”), can have huge adverse impacts on bees and bee colonies, and this could be a key factor in the disappearance and dying of bees (see companion piece, “The Severe Danger of ‘Neonic’ Pesticides to Bees”).
All of these factors (and others) can affect each other and work together, acting to increase the negative impact compared to just one factor alone.
A System That Is Destroying the Environment
Environmentalists and others who care about what is happening to nature often argue that the problem is big monopolies and greedy interests that have too much influence in the political structures. And that in agriculture, the problem is control by big corporations that put profits before people or the environment. Yes, there is greed and big monopolies—but to really find the answers and solutions, to get at the real problem and solution, we have to understand why it is that the very laws of capitalism, the “rules of the game” of this system, require it to operate in a way that is destructive of people and the environment. And that no amount of reforms, regulations, or changes in who runs this system will stop this. Why is this so?
Let’s look briefly at the ways capitalism operates that is destructive to bees and pollinators and nature in general, with a focus on agriculture, and why this is driven by the rules of capitalism and the nature of this mode of production—the ways capitalism is required to operate economically.
First, under capitalism, food is not and cannot be approached as a human need but only another “good” to be bought and sold—a commodity like all other goods and services, including human labor power. In the world today, food production is dominated by a global system of capitalist industrial agriculture to produce this commodity. In the U.S., for example, small-scale farmers have mainly been squeezed out by larger agribusiness interests that were able to mobilize huge assets, mechanize crop production, and lower the costs of production. These large capitalist interests have gained domination over the whole chain of food production, from the ownership of seeds...to the means through which agriculture is carried out...to the marketing and distribution of the food itself.
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.
This is a globalized system of agriculture—where vast monopolies, agribusiness interests of whole countries, and capitalist states are battling it out on a world scale over who will achieve the widest scale production, who can dominate the market for food products, and who can force conditions beneficial to their private interests against other big capitalist competitors. There is a vicious battle to win out, driven by the anarchy inherent in capitalist production. Each capitalist or group of capitalists face the compulsion to keep expanding and increasing profits, or be driven under by their competitors.
Capitalist competition drives forward the development of vast monocultures (single-crop production), including the mowing down of forests and wild lands—not so people can be fed, but in order to produce the most, the most cheaply. In monocultures, the single crop flowers at the same time. Monoculture has contributed to the widespread loss of diverse wild plants and more diverse crops that flower at different times, which is beneficial to bees and other pollinators. In the U.S. and parts of Europe, honey bee colonies are shipped by trucks from one side of the continent to another to pollinate these monoculture crops, a practice that is likely a contributing factor to the stress on honey bee colonies. For instance, 60 percent of honey bee colonies in the U.S. are brought together in California each year to pollinate the almond crop—under such conditions, pathogens can spread more easily among colonies.
Because of the anarchy of capitalist production, it isn’t possible for agriculture to be carried out with a sustainable, rational approach to growing food for the long-term health of humans and continuation of the natural world. Instead, geared to profit making and quick successes to beat out competitors, monoculture crops and seeds are cranked out—and that destroys much-needed genetic diversity that is best adapted to the environmental conditions in particular regions. Crops are engineered to be resistant to pesticides and dependent on use of chemical fertilizers that are required to keep monoculture crops growing. Crops and seeds are soaked in toxic pesticides like neonics to kill or ward off “pests,” despite the fact that these pesticides do great harm and even can kill off the pollinators the crops need to produce as well as wild plants pollinators need. Herbicides kill other wild plants needed by pollinators. And these chemicals poison the soil, streams, lakes, air and animals—including people.
This system and those who rule over it are not capable of carrying out economic development to meet the needs of the people now, while balancing that with the needs of future generations and requirements of safeguarding the environment. They care nothing for the rich diversity of the earth and its species, for the treasures this contains, except when and where they can turn this into profit for themselves....These people are not fit to be the caretakers of the earth.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:29
There is no conscious overall plan, or possibility of drawing up such a plan, under capitalism for developing agriculture in a way that takes into account the long-term viability and preservation of the soil, genetic diversity that is key to plant health, or the protection of ecosystems and people from toxic chemicals that are now present in basically everything and everybody.
All of these requirements of how capitalism must operate mean that crops will be grown for the fastest, most profitable output to gain competitive advantage for individual capitalists. And overall, production and science are chained to the needs of empire and capital accumulation, not to ensuring the future of humanity and the environment. The production and burning of oil and other fossil fuels roar forward, despite the tremendous danger to the planet’s climate and species.
Capitalism-imperialism and those who rule have NO solution—and they are incapable of coming up with a real answer—to the destruction of bees and other pollinators. In fact, the brutal workings and the ugly social and political relations of this system are causing immense damage to the environment overall around the world—and driving the world toward global ecological catastrophe, putting the future of humanity and the planet itself in urgent peril.
From Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development
The following is an excerpt from “Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development,”which is part of the special Revolution newspaper/revcom.us issue on the environmental emergency. As Revolution noted, “These principles, though not exhaustive, concentrate an orientation that enables socialist society to begin to tackle the environmental emergency with a global and internationalist perspective. In putting these principles before people today, we hope to open up debate and discussion that can contribute towards raising understanding of what we are confronting—and raise sights about the viability and desirability of communist revolution.”
C. Transforming the Structure of Industrial Production, Agriculture, and Transport
The new socialist society will set out to transform the environmentally destructive structure and functioning of today’s imperialist economy:
It must immediately begin to move decisively away from reliance on non-renewable and polluting fossil-fuel energy (oil, coal, and natural gas)—and to adopt and develop ecologically sound technologies, like solar, wind, and geothermal power. To move in this direction, the socialist economy must combine diversified large-scale with diversified small-scale production, and develop a rational mix of advanced and intermediate technologies.
Major efforts must be made towards reorienting transportation away from private automobile ownership and from the auto-highway and fossil-fuel-centered systems of transport. Safe and efficient mass transit will be given priority in all new development, restructuring, and research.
It will be necessary to develop agricultural systems based on principles of long-term land-use planning, comprehensive soil and water conservation, and agro-biodiversity. These agricultural systems—large, medium, and small-scale—must allow for technologies and practices that can be locally adapted, fitted to particular conditions, and that can respond to climate change and changes in demand. In reorienting agriculture, the goal must be to achieve high and sustainable yields of agricultural goods and healthful food products that minimize use of resources and minimize damage to nature and to people.
Socialist society must be working to make conservation of resources a standard in all aspects of economic and social life: in technology development, in production, in the consumer goods that are produced and how they are used. It must promote recycling and multi-use of materials and products—this in place of the irrational upgrading of products (annual “new models”) and the wasteful consumption of materials of capitalist society.
The use of neonicotinoid pesticides (known as “neonics”) is emerging as a key factor in the dying off of pollinators, in particular bees. They’re now the most commonly used class of pesticides in the world, representing one-quarter of the global pesticide market, generating billions of dollars in sales.
Neonics may be sprayed, but often plant seeds are soaked in them so that developing plants pull the pesticides up into all their structures, including into the flowers, pollen and nectar. Virtually all the corn and one-third of soybean crops in the U.S. is planted with seeds treated with at least one neonic pesticide, sometimes along with other toxic compounds.
Neonics were at first hailed as a “breakthrough” because they were less toxic to mammals than insects they were designed to repel. But no real study or thought was devoted to the impact on bees, butterflies and other pollinators that are also insects, as well the persistence of neonics in soil, how they can be spread by dust from fields, and how they leach into groundwater and irrigation sources, streams and lakes.
Now with the bee crisis, Bayer and other big companies are funding studies to “prove” that neonics are safe in the amounts used. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), EPA and some non-governmental organizations have for years backed the line that there isn’t enough scientific evidence that neonics are harmful.
Yes, more study is needed to fully understand the collapse of pollinators and how to prevent it. But the truth is that a mountain of scientific studies have already proven that neonics are harmful to bees. They may not be immediately harmful (unless they are present in large doses), but they cause sub-lethal harm to bees that builds up over time and can damage whole colonies. Several scientific review studies by independent scientists reviewing the scientific literature on testing of neonics have concluded that these pesticides are very harmful to bees and likely other pollinators of all kinds. They can impair the bees’ ability to forage for food, the development of their young, memory and learning, and their central nervous systems and make them more susceptible to disease. Neonics—which last a long time in plants, soil and water—have been shown in studies to reduce numbers of wild bees, restrict the growth of bumblebee colonies and undermine their reproduction. Much of this data correlates with what has been observed in bee disappearances and hive and colony loss. The evidence supports the hypothesis that these pesticides build up over time to undermine and eventually—in connection with other causes and toxic substances—can kill off whole hives and colonies of both honeybees and wild bees. They are also most likely harming many other pollinators.
With all the science available on neonics, the EPA and USDA have consistently approved and upheld the use of these dangerous toxic chemicals. They’ve tried to cover up the scientific evidence pointing to the danger. They have relied on studies done by the very companies that profit off this. They have refused to take action even as the danger has been pointed out by beekeepers, environmentalists, and science. They continue to downplay the likely role of neonics in causing pollinator declines and call for “more study” as pollinators face extinction. Now, as more outcry is building—just as with the poisoning of people in Flint and the Porter Ranch gas disaster—the EPA and government authorities are taking measures to try to contain and cover up the crisis, while the destruction by the system grinds on.
The EPA has finally admitted that one type of neonic, Imidacloprid, poses a risk to honeybees, but they have said nothing about how it damages wild bees. EPA and the Obama administration has only finally said that neonics will not be sprayed when honey bees are actively brought together to pollinate fields (a move to protect U.S. agribusiness)—but nothing is done to ban these toxic substances completely.
FBI Announces Dangerous New Plan to Spy on High School Students
March 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Under new guidelines, the FBI is instructing high schools across the country to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, warning that “anarchist extremists” are in the same category as ISIS and young people who are poor, immigrants or travel to “suspicious” countries are more likely to commit horrific violence.
—from “The FBI Has a New Plan to Spy on High School Students Across the Country,” by Sarah Lazare, March 2, 2016, Alternet.
If You're a Ninth Grader from Sudan Who Makes A Clock... The Cops Treat You Like a "Terrorist"
Fourteen-year old Ahmed Mohamed went to high school in Irving, Texas, near Dallas. He is from a Muslim family that immigrated to the United States from Sudan. He likes studying robotics and engineering. On September 15, 2015, he went to school wearing a NASA T-shirt. He brought an electronic clock he had made at home and showed it to his engineering teacher, hoping to start a robotics club. The teacher told him not to show it to anyone else. Ahmed put the clock in his backpack and when it beeped during his English class, the teacher confiscated it.
Then, later in the day, the principal came with four police officers.
The Lazare article contends the FBI’s new “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” guidelines, released in January, are modeled after the British “anti-terror” mass surveillance program, and “are almost certainly designed to single out and target Muslim-American communities.” Lazare goes on to say: “In its caution to avoid the appearance of discrimination, the agency [FBI] identifies risk factors that are so broad and vague that virtually any young person could be deemed dangerous and worthy of surveillance, especially if she is socio-economically marginalized or politically outspoken.”
Lazare writes that the new FBI guidelines are being used to “justify a massive surveillance apparatus, wherein educators and pupils function as extensions of the FBI by watching and informing on each other.”
The FBI document warns: “High school students are ideal targets for recruitment by violent extremists seeking support for their radical ideologies, foreign fighter networks, or conducting acts of violence within our borders,” and claims that youth “possess inherent risk factors.” The FBI guidelines instruct teachers to “incorporate a two-hour block of violent extremism awareness training” into the core curriculum for all students grades 9-12.
The Lazare article describes some features of the new guidelines: “According to the FBI’s educational materials ... the following offenses constitute signs that ‘could mean that someone plans to commit violence’ and therefore should be reported: ‘Talking about traveling to places that sound suspicious’; ‘Using code words or unusual language’; ‘Using several different cell phones and private messaging apps’; and ‘Studying or taking pictures of potential targets (like a government building).’”
According to the FBI’s “educational materials,” which accompany the guidelines, these groups are listed under the category of violent domestic terrorists: “Anarchist extremists,” “Animal Right Extremists and Environmental Extremists,” “Sovereign Citizen Extremists,” “Militia Extremists,” “White Supremacy Extremists,” and “Abortion Extremists.” This is how “abortion extremists” are described in the “educational materials”: “Some abortion extremists believe that violence and bloodshed are justified to support their different beliefs on abortion.... Violent anti-abortion extremists have targeted women’s reproductive clinics.... Those who use violence to defend abortion clinics have murdered, threatened, and attacked those who oppose abortion.” [This description is completely upside down—in reality, anti-abortion forces have launched hundreds of violent attacks on clinics, killing at least 11 people and injuring dozens more. By contrast, incidents of alleged violence on the part of clinic defenders have been extremely rare, and none has resulted in death or serious injury.]
The Lazare article also discusses the Obama administration’s Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program: “The first public iteration of the U.S. counterpart to this program [the British Preventing Violent Extremism program launched in 2005 which focused on spying on Muslim communities] emerged five years ago to ‘address ideologically inspired violence in the Homeland,’ uniting a broad array of government agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security. In 2015, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a CVE summit at the White House and unrolled three 'pilot programs' in Boston, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, these initiatives solely target Muslims in each of these cities.” Included in the article is a quotation from Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims Are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror and an adjunct professor at New York University: “The [FBI] document aims to encourage schools to monitor their students more carefully for signs of radicalization but its definition of radicalization is vague.... Drawing on the junk science of radicalization models, the document dangerously blurs the distinction between legitimate ideological expression and violent criminal actions.”
Alternet also interviewed Hugh Handeyside, staff attorney for the ACLU’s national security project: “Broadening the definition of violent extremism to include a range of belief-driven violence underscores that the FBI is diving head-first into community spying. Framing this conduct as ‘concerning behavior’ doesn’t conceal the fact that the FBI is policing students’ thoughts and trying to predict the future based on those thoughts.”
Sarah Lazare concludes her Alternet article with a serious alarm regarding these new FBI “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools” guidelines:
There are already reasons to be concerned about who will be most vulnerable under this mass surveillance plan. In what is popularly known as the ‘school-to-prison-pipeline,’ students of color and young people with disabilities are already disproportionately suspended, expelled, arrested and funneled into juvenile prisons for alleged behavioral infractions at school.
The FBI’s instructions to surveil and report young people not for wrong they have committed, but for violence they supposedly might enact in the future, is likely to promote an intensification of this draconian practice. Using a program initiated to spy on Muslim-American communities, the government is calling for sanctuaries of learning to be transformed into panopticons [prisons and other institutions where the inmates are spied on without their knowledge], in which students and educators are the informers and all young people are suspect.
These new FBI guidelines of spying on high school students, “Preventing Violent Extremism in Schools”—being ushered in by the Obama administration—represent a straight-up fascist program aiming at not only Muslim and Arab students, but targeting any youths who would question “cultural and religious differences” or criticize western imperialism. At a time when this system is in great turmoil over who is going to rule and how, and at the same time has no answers for millions of youths in the inner cities and barrios, no answers except mass incarceration, police terror, or mind-numbing chump jobs if you can find one—this new FBI program is an attempt by the government to not just stifle but criminalize dissent and critical thinking among high school students, who can represent a serious force for change, for potentially revolutionary change. This fascist FBI program must be exposed and opposed by students, educators, parents, and people everywhere who care about the future of humanity. WE WILL NOT REPEAT NAZI GERMANY! Fuck the FBI! Fuck the American empire!
What Future for Cuba Did the Handshake Between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro Herald?
Updated and reposted March 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
April 13, 2015. A World to Win News Service. What future for Cuba did the handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro symbolize? It was a heartbreaking moment when the leader of a country once a symbol of defiance to the despised “Yankee empire,” as Cubans and others in revolt against U.S. domination labelled it, shook hands with the “honest man,” as Castro now praised the man currently in charge of that empire. It was a bitter moment for Cubans and for people everywhere, including in the U.S. where Obama and the state machinery in general would like this gesture to relieve some of the discredit earned it by the man who is now presiding over the “slow genocide”, as it has been called, of African-Americans, and wars of aggression and attempts to reboot American hegemony throughout so much of the world.
Check out "Three Alternative Worlds," the Supplement to Chapter 2 of BAsics,
from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian.
One especially bitter element in this moment was the way Obama focused on the possibility of removing Cuba from his government’s “international terrorism” list as a way to bludgeon the submissive Castro regime into even more submission. It is the U.S. that held sway over Cuba through terrorist tyrants for decades, that attempted to invade Cuba to bring back the old regime two years after it was overthrown, that mounted all sorts of terrorist attacks on the new regime including, most notoriously, blowing up an airliner full of civilians, and constantly plotted to bring down the regime through the assassination of its leaders. The history of Cuban-American relations is a history of unbridled U.S. violence.
Cuba fell into the hands of the U.S. for the first time in 1898, when the U.S. invaded the island with double purpose of finishing off Spanish rivalry for control of the Caribbean and putting down a Cuban revolt that threatened to turn it into what American statesmen called “a Negro republic.” Slavery and sugar cane had created modern Cuba, and although slavery had been abolished, sugar cane still enslaved the economy and its people.
U.S. troops occupied Cuba for a total of 12 years over the course of the next two decades. The U.S. wrote an amendment into the Cuban constitution allowing it to intervene at will, which it did openly until the American ruling class fashioned a Cuban military that could be entrusted with their interests and political structures to run the country accordingly. This meant some of the world’s most notorious tyrants, generals obsequious to Washington and unspeakably cruel toward the people. U.S. installation of torture republics was standard operating procedure in many places, including in the neighboring Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Sugar cane is a crop that thrives on human flesh. Under U.S. domination, sugar plantations ate up much of the arable land. The U.S. sucked wealth out of Cuba in two ways, by dominating big agriculture and other businesses (such as rum, a sugar-dependent industry), and selling food and nearly everything else to a country that used to be extremely fertile before its forests were burned down to make way for sugar.
People worked unbearably hard in dangerous and life-shortening conditions during the harvest months and went hungry the rest of the year. A sugar cane mill worker killed in a strike was found to have no underwear or socks to be buried in. Cubans worked on U.S.-owned cattle ranches, but only a tenth of the people in the countryside ever drank milk and less than half of that percentage ever ate meat. In fact, it was often family labor on tiny plots of land that enabled people to survive from harvest to harvest in the cane fields. Small farmers, often poor whites, were not much better off than plantation workers.
Cuban society was as devastated as its economy. Under the watchful eyes of Washington’s ambassadors, the U.S.-based Mafia set moral standards and the Catholic Church blessed them. Among the most sacred values was men’s right to rule over women and women’s confinement to the following categories: mothers, wives, mistresses and prostitutes.
Prostitution flourished—in brothels and on the streets, ten percent of Havana’s population “served” American military men, civilian sailors and sex tourists. The biggest growth industry was casinos. Even as Cuba became known as a country where “anything goes” for rapacious foreigners, ordinary Cubans had no rights. The aspirations of the better-off middle classes and professionals were trampled underfoot by the country’s corrupt, arbitrary, vicious and tiny ruling class in association with the ultimate rulers, U.S. monopoly capitalists and their political representatives in Washington.
The 1959 Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and others was an inspiration to people everywhere at that time, not a “disaster” as some commentators call it, nor some obscure “Cold War” quarrel as Obama claims. It was right to overthrow a U.S.-backed regime that murdered as many as 20,000 people in its last years.
But that revolution was not led by a party with a real understanding of and commitment to what it would take to end all forms of oppressive economic and social relations and thinking they engender, despite use of the names “Communist Party” and “socialism.” Its leaders traded dependency on the U.S. for dependency on the Soviet Union. (The USSR itself had already abandoned socialism in the 1950s and had become “social imperialist”, socialist in words, monopoly capitalist and imperialist in reality.) Since the fall of the USSR that leadership has floundered, and not just economically. They have been unable to offer the Cuban people a viable alternative to an uninspiring and untenable status quo.
The unrevolutionary character of the Cuban regime led by Fidel Castro was apparent in the attempt to continue the island’s submission to sugar (now to be sold or traded to the USSR) in forms that reproduced the old relations of exploitation and oppression in old and new ways. Neither the dependent economy nor the society that economy had created were ever thoroughly transformed in a liberating way.
The lack of political rights and ferment of dissent that the Cuban regime’s reactionary critics complain about was stultifying. Yet the most central right such people never talk about and will never agree to anywhere, and that the Castro regime never dreamed of, is the right of the masses of people to increasingly take part in running society through a new kind of state, transforming economic, social and political relations and themselves, leading to a world free of all oppressive relations among human beings. Raúl Castro’s attempt to ensure his regime’s survival by crawling to the U.S. imperialists, the biggest criminals against humanity today and Cuba’s historic slave masters, is painfully ugly, but it is consistent with the nature of the regime and society he and his brother Fidel have led.
The country’s dependency is shifting from sugar plantations to tourism plantations, an “industry” that offers no hope for economic independence and the fulfilment of human potential. And prostitution, which has been reintroduced and thriving for decades, is both a metaphor and mechanism for the further destruction still to come as the “free market”, whose awful power was never abolished in Cuba but now to be stoked by U.S. capital, further destroys bodies and souls.
The lust with which the U.S. now looks at Cuba is terrifying. More generally, however, the Obama-Castro handshake does not represent a new and durable triumph for U.S. imperialism, but manoeuvring in a world where American hegemony is increasingly endangered. An understanding of why the Cuban revolution has ended up where it is today, and why that was not and is not inevitable, would be important for people everywhere whose revolutionary aspirations have not been quenched.
Further, despite its theoretical flaws, the classic Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano, who died April 13, 2015, remains a valuable, highly insightful and poetic denunciation of that continent’s history under colonialism and imperialism. (Monthly Review Press, 1997)
Thoughts on Obama's Springtime Latin American Offensive
March 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
March 21, 2016. A World to Win News Service.
Berta Soler (AP photo)
A Tale of Two Bertas
During his visit to Havana, in a counterpoint to his meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro, U.S. President Barack Obama was scheduled to meet with Berta Soler, a representative of “The Ladies in White,” founded by wives of political prisoners.
There is no need for Obama to visit Honduras, because it has never escaped American domination and in U.S. eyes, no changes are needed in that country. There, Berta Cáceres, another woman considered a troublemaker by her government, was murdered in bed on March 3. One difference between the two kinds of dissidents is that the Honduran regime was brought to power by the U.S.
Berta Cáceres was a leader in a movement against the devastation of Honduras’s environment and indigenous people to benefit foreign investment. She had predicted that she would be killed by the country’s military, which has repeatedly intervened in favor of U.S. interests in Honduras, a job they are trained, financed and “advised” to carry out, as are the police. (AWTWNS160307) After her death, the police detained a survivor of that attack and fellow members of her group. On March 15 Nelson García was shot dead as he returned home after a protest, the third member of her movement to be murdered in the last year.
Their blood is on Obama’s hands. Don’t tell us that the U.S., under Obama or anyone else, is going to stand up for the right to dissent in Cuba or anywhere else unless it happens to suit their interests—and those interests mean enslaving whole countries.
Obama Jokes about Flying to Cuba
Obama joked that his voyage to Havana only took three hours, unlike the last U.S. president to visit Cuba, Calvin Coolidge, in 1928. Coolidge came on a gunboat, sailing for three days.
After snatching Cuba from Spain in the 1898 war waged over Spanish colonies, the U.S. wrote an amendment into the Cuban constitution allowing it to intervene at will. The U.S. army occupied and directly ruled Cuba repeatedly. American warships were a frequent sight in Havana’s harbor. Coolidge came to salute the transformation of this former slave plantation country into a haven for U.S. interests—gambling, prostitution, the majority of the sugar plantations and almost all of the sugar exports. In particular, he came to express support for the regime of General Gerardo Machado, who faced popular unrest, particularly from students.
When Machado’s successor annulled that amendment, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent 19 warships and mobilized the Marines and bombers. Later the U.S. installed the bloodthirsty General Fulgencio Batista, who was to rule Cuba until overthrown by the revolution led by Raúl’s brother Fidel Castro in 1959.
It might look like the U.S. abandoned “gunboat diplomacy” toward Cuba after the 1961 failed CIA-led invasion of Cuba by sea, if you don’t take into account the decades of sabotage, bombings, assassination plots against Cuba's leaders, the CIA bombing of a Cuban airliner and so on, not to mention the half-century U.S. “embargo” of Cuba’s economy, the contemporary equivalent of a naval blockade, which finally forced the Cuban government to accept when Obama made them an offer they couldn’t refuse.
Obama didn’t come to Cuba on a gunboat, but he represents the same ruling class, the same interests, the same policies and, ultimately, the same reliance on the U.S.’s terroristic military power.
The military theoretician Carl von Clausewitz once famously wrote, “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” Obama’s trip to Cuba and Argentina is a continuation of the imperialist politics and goals that the U.S. has pursued by whatever means necessary at any given moment.
Next Stop: Argentina
After celebrating the re-conquest of Cuba, Obama’s next stop is to be Argentina, where a new government has pleased Washington by agreeing to pay off bonds to American investors in what respectable Western business analysts think it’s cute to call “vulture funds.”
October 2014—Women holding photos of relatives disappeared
in Argentina. (AP photo)
Obama is to visit there on March 25-26, coinciding with the fortieth anniversary of the military coup that marked the intensification of the “dirty war” during which the military kidnapped, tortured and killed tens of thousands of people, including those who could best be classified as dissidents—the kind of people Obama claims to support now in Cuba. The exact number is unknown because so many people simply disappeared. Many prisoners were taken in aircraft and dropped, alive, far out at sea. Another hallmark of the military’s suppression campaign was to snatch babies from women—sometimes raping them in prison to make them pregnant—and give them to officers and other regime supporters to raise as their own. Many adults today are not sure who their biological parents were. This is an open wound in Argentine society.
This terror was explicitly supported by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who told a leading general, “We wish the new government well. We wish it will succeed. We will do what we can to help it succeed.... We understand that you must establish authority.” In this meeting he also said, “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly. But then you should get back to normal procedures.” The “dirty war” lasted seven years. (National Security Archive, nsarchive.gwu.edu)
Under the U.S.-supported “Operation Condor”, generals who took power in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay similarly took vengeance on an enormous and unknown number of people considered problematic to the interests of U.S. imperialism and its domestic allies.
Obama’s ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has publicly and literally embraced Kissinger, calling him “a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as Secretary of State.” (Quoted in the New York Times, February 26, 2016) It has been written that her role in supporting the 2009 military coup in Honduras was “pure Machtpolitik [might makes right], the kind Kissinger deployed in Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina and elsewhere.” (The Nation, February 5, 2016)
Apparently Obama wasn’t aware of the significance of the date when making plans to visit Argentina. In reply to criticism that this could seem as a celebration of the 1976 coup, his current Secretary of State Susan Rice said, “On this anniversary and beyond, we’re determined to do our part as Argentina continues to heal and move forward as one nation.” Except, of course, that this nation includes two opposing sides, the victims and their children, those kept and those stolen, and the torturers and murders who have prospered in civilian life, and the same Argentine ruling class that called in the generals.
Can you imagine going jogging and running into the man who tortured you? What do the words “heal and move forward” mean when they come from the mouths of Kissinger’s successors, including Hillary Clinton and her former employer Obama, and the American monopoly capitalist, imperialist ruling class that continues to fatten from the countries they dominate, including Argentina, and are now once again eyeing Cuba as a source of great wealth?
A Final Note: Why Is Obama Visiting a Dictatorship?
Is the Castro regime a dictatorship? It is not, actually, the kind of openly terroristic strongman regime the U.S. has so often installed, in Cuba and many other countries, especially in its “back yard,” Latin America. But the regime does represent the dictatorship of a reactionary class, a monopoly of power—and ultimately force, a state apparatus run by a class of people based in the state and economic institutions organized from what was once the property of U.S. capitalists and their allies, plantation owners and a handful of big-time capitalists. It has been called “a kind of repressive welfare state in which the masses are kept powerless and economically chained to the logic of world capitalism.” (Raymond Lotta, Revolution no. 367, revcom.us)
Just as this state, based on a new exploiting capitalist class despite its (now all but forgotten) socialist pretenses, could not transform the society as it had been shaped first by slavery and then U.S. domination, with all the oppression and inequalities that produced, so also it could not reduce the economy’s dependence on foreign capital, going from dependence on the Soviet Union (where “socialism” had also become a hollow shell since the 1950s) back to the U.S. today.
In socialist society we should not act as if the central authority is all-knowing and as if things will be fine if it relies on its authority to get masses to go along with things, rather than relying on the masses to grasp their own interests and act accordingly, with leadership and through lively, vigorous debate and struggle. We cannot rely on such authority when we don’t have it, in the old society, and we should not try to rely on it when we do have it in the new society—or it won’t last long either.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 2:21
“The lack of political rights and the ferment of dissent that the Cuban regime’s reactionary critics complain about is stultifying. Yet the most central right such people never talk about and will never agree to anywhere, and that the Castro regime never dreamed of, is the right of the masses of people to increasingly take part in running society through a new kind of state, transforming economic, social and political relations and themselves, leading to a world free of all oppressive relations among human beings.” (AWTWNS150413)
The U.S., too, is a dictatorship, where total power is in the hands of a monopoly capitalist ruling class, whether in the form of elections (which made Obama the empire’s CEO) or otherwise. It has no lessons about people’s rights to give Cuba, even when it comes to prisoners: As of 2013, 518 out of every hundred thousand people were in prison in Cuba, compared to 730 people per hundred thousand population in the U.S. (International Prison Studies, prisonstudies.org) Mass imprisonment in the U.S. is directly connected with the oppression of minorities, including the gunning down of youth in the street by the police, a signature feature of daily life in the USA.
Not to mention that the most notorious prison in Cuba, a torture site contrary to international and even U.S. law, is run by the U.S.—Guantánamo. Obama said that he will refuse to even discuss giving Cuba back this infamous piece of stolen land. It could be asked that if it is true Obama wants to close the prison, why does the U.S. need to keep the major naval base, if not for “power protection” throughout the Caribbean, including Cuba’s sister islands, Puerto Rico (an outright colony) and Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic)?
The most important difference between Obama’s U.S. and the Castro’s Cuba is not that one is “free” and the other isn’t, but that the U.S. is an imperialist country that has thrived through global exploitation enforced by global domination.
American media say that some Cubans hope they will be able to get jobs at Guantánamo. This symbolizes the future the U.S. has in mind for many Cubans.