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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.
Three More Reasons Why This System Needs to Be Overthrown as Soon as Possible
Updated April 16, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
#1 – Scientists Say Planet and Millions in Danger... U.S. Rulers Shrug
In March, two groups of scientists issued reports saying the planet is in even MORE DANGER because of climate change. Global warming is overwhelmingly due to human activity, especially the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels under capitalism. The reports, which build on the previous work of thousands of other scientists around the world, say the melting of the ice in the Antarctic and elsewhere and other effects of the warming of the planet are leading the sea level to rise much faster than earlier predictions. The total rise in the world's sea level could reach five or six feet by 2100 according to one of the recent reports and “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years” according to the other—leading to the drowning of coastal cities where millions of people live. This would endanger the planet and the lives of millions who are being born now.
How did the rulers of this system respond? A Washington Post headline sums it up: “We had all better hope these scientists are wrong about the planet’s future.” Regardless of the intention of the author of the article, the Post headline captured the system’s response: “If what they’re saying is true, we’re fucked! But let’s just hope or pretend this isn’t true because we can’t and aren’t going to do anything about it anyway.” Indeed, from Obama on down, the report’s alarming conclusions have been IGNORED and nothing has been done to make this report widely known. This goes right along with politicians and others who say people should ignore what scientists say about global warming, training people in a totally unscientific outlook.
WHY this response in THIS society? Because the constraints of the economic and social relations of capitalism make it impossible for this problem to be seriously discussed, let alone actually addressed. Last November, rulers of the world’s nations met at the UN Convention on Climate Change and no plans were discussed that even came close to meeting their own stated goals of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level. A New York Times article concluded this was because a serious plan to cut carbon emissions—in ways that would change the current trajectory of global warming—would be “potentially disruptive to [the big powers’] economies and politically unrealistic.” [our emphasis]
A society that cared about the planet and the fate of humanity would respond to this report by STOPPING business as usual and SOUNDING THE ALARM. It would bring to bear resources to evaluate the validity of the report, figure out the truth and implications of it, and then based on that, come up with a plan to address the problems revealed by the scientific evidence. It would widely educate people about this; organize teach-ins; mobilize scientists, students, activists, and anyone concerned about this problem—not just here in the U.S., but internationally—to come together to address this crisis. Through this process, the best possible approach would be developed and the societal will would be forged to deal with this crisis in a way consistent with bringing into being a world without any oppressive relations and divisions between peoples.
#2 – White Cop Body-Slams 6th Grade Latina...Business as Usual in America
On March 29, a cop in San Antonio, Texas, body-slammed a sixth-grade Latina to the ground. Millions of people have seen this brutality on YouTube where 12-year-old Janissa Valdez is hurled to the ground, a loud crack can be heard as her head hits the brick pavement, then she’s handcuffed. Janissa says there was some kind of altercation between her and some other girls leading up to this, but nothing that would justify this pig getting involved AT ALL, let alone viciously brutalizing Janissa.
What would be the response if something like this happened in a revolutionary society where the lives of children, including Black and Latino youths, are valued and where there is a commitment to get rid of white supremacy? First of all, security forces in the new society would NOT be enforcers of oppressive social relations. And their first priority would be to handle any situation in a way that values the lives of the people—they would sooner put their own lives on the line than brutalize or kill the people. But if a member of the security forces did do something even remotely like what this cop did in San Antonio, from the top down there would be calls to thoroughly investigate and denounce this. And beyond that, and more importantly, widespread discussion and debate—involving kids and adults—would be organized in society about what the incident shows about the continuing need to eliminate white supremacy; there would be a deep examination of how children are being treated and why beating kids like this is NOT the way to solve problems and NOT in line with the overall goals of the new society—of getting rid of all forms of oppressive economic and social relations and all the ideas that go along with this.
But in THIS society, nothing is done to put a STOP to this police terror. This kind of thing happens over and over. The cops go unpunished. Their actions are justified. More generally, children of color are treated as “problems,” “threats,” and generally people whose lives and dreams are worth nothing. Why? Because the very nature of the system prevents overcoming this oppression. From the beginning, white supremacy has been built into the very foundations of this system. Even though the form may change, the essential racism at the core goes on. In this society, the role of the police is to enforce these relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery, and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. Tearing it up would not just get in the way of its functioning, it would make it impossible.
#3 – Bombing in Yemen, 25 children Murdered: Deafening Silence in the U.S.
On March 15, Saudi Arabia-led coalition airstrikes using U.S.-supplied bombs killed at least 97 civilians, including 25 children, in northwest Yemen. The two strikes were carried out on a crowded market full of people going about their daily lives. Reports said the bombs, which may have killed about 10 (anti-government) Houthi fighters, caused a hugely disproportionate loss of civilian life. And this is only the latest of many such atrocities in Yemen that have gone on for nearly a year.
What was the response to this war crime among people in the U.S.? A Deafening Silence. And we have to ask... WHY?
Look at the tears, sadness, deep questioning among millions of people in the U.S. after 20 children and six adults were killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Obama came out and cried before the nation. But he didn’t say anything about the innocent children being killed in Yemen. That isn’t surprising—it was his decision to support the Saudi war in Yemen that ultimately led to the children’s deaths! And most people in the U.S. are not even thinking about the kids in Yemen.
Sandy Hook was a horrible, senseless tragedy. But is it ANY LESS HORRIBLE than these 97 civilians, including 25 kids, who were blown to smithereens—and not by just a lone individual, but by a reactionary regime encouraged by the U.S., using U.S.-supplied bombs and U.S. “logistics/intel” to guide the bombs?
People are being trained to THINK AND ACT like American lives are more important than other people’s lives. And if people think and act like this, then they WILL be complicit in the war crimes being carried out by the United States, like the killing of 25 children in Yemen.
The U.S. wages wars of empire in order to maintain its oppressive domination of the world, and civilian casualties like the children killed in Yemen are seen as “collateral damage.” These wars are being done “in our name”; we are told they are in “our interest,” to “keep us safe.” But these wars for empire are NOT in the interests of the people here or around the world. People have to STOP thinking like Americans and start thinking about humanity!
A revolutionary society would NOT be carrying out wars for empire and war crimes.
The children in Yemen are OUR children. All lives are precious. And we need a society where people think and act as members of an international community struggling together to bring about the emancipation of humanity. Such a thing cannot be done under capitalism, where nations compete against each other for markets and world domination and which trains people to think in terms of “our nation against everyone else” and “USA Number One.”
One Week in April... Three Reasons Why Fundamentalist Islamic Jihad Is NOT Radical—and Is DEFINITELY NOT a Real Answer to Oppression
April 18, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bringing Forward 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.
The rulers of this capitalist-imperialist system—built on slavery and genocide, operating through vicious exploitation, and perpetuated through unjust wars—declare they bring freedom and progress to the world. They proclaim themselves liberators of women while they enslave half of humanity in a world of sweatshops, forced motherhood (through denial of abortion or other forms of birth control), degrading pornography, and systematic sexual violence and rape. They brand themselves as champions of enlightenment while imposing forced ignorance on the oppressed.
Fundamentalist Islamic jihad poses as an answer to this, one that is lashing back with a vengeance. But look at the reality: In one week in April...
April 13—video emerged of 15 of the young women students kidnapped by Boko Haram while they were taking a physics exam. Two years ago, Boko Haram kidnapped over 300 (276 still in captivity) young women at a school in Northern Nigeria, part of their campaign against women learning science. Since then, hundreds of other women and girls have been abducted by Boko Haram. They have been imprisoned, sold as wives against their will, raped, and sometimes forced to bear the children of their rapists.
What does that serve? The subjugation of women arose with and serves modes of production—ways of organizing how the things people need to survive are produced and distributed—where the wealth of society is violently appropriated by a few from the many. Defining women as property of men, and violently enforcing that, is necessary for the stability and functioning of societies based on exploitation. Fundamentalist Islamic jihad imposes old forms of enslaving women as an “alternative” to new forms of enslaving women. That isn’t radical. That doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Tightening the chains of women’s oppression reinforces all the chains of oppression.
But the world could be a whole other way. Read this.
* * *
April 7, during a raid near Damascus, Syria, ISIS kidnapped hundreds of workers at a cement factory.They publicly murdered those who were Druze—followers of a different religion.
What is radical about this? Everywhere you turn in this imperialist world, one country, nationality, religion, or “race” is oppressing another. And capitalism-imperialism drives the oppressed to kill each other—from the prisons and inner cities of the USA, to the sectarian slaughters in the Middle East.
Does fundamentalist Islamic jihad contribute to oppressed people coming together to throw off the divisions this system imposes and emancipate humanity? Just the opposite: fundamentalist Islamic jihad carries out religiously “justified” ethnic cleansing, fanning the flames of divisions that serve oppression.
But the world could be a whole other way. Read this.
* * *
In the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh, on April 6, Mohammad Nazim Uddin, a law student who frequently posted his atheist views on social media, was publicly attacked and murdered by men who, according to witnesses, shouted “Allah is great!” as they rode off. Fundamentalist Islamic jihad insists on, and enforces with violence and law when they can, fundamentalist Islam as their brand of ignorance, superstition, and Dark Ages mentality. They fear the unfettered search for the truth.
What is radical about this? Under capitalism, science and truth get distorted and twisted, reduced to what is useful in the mad drive for profit. When ideas and discoveries come forward that challenge the legitimacy of the rule of capital or would get in the way of how capitalism functions, these ideas and the people putting them forward get marginalized, mocked, and suppressed, even violently at times.
Who and what does it serve when fundamentalist jihadists terrorize and kill atheists and others who challenge notions that this world of oppression was mandated by “god”? It serves keeping the world as it is. Fundamentalist Islamic jihad is just another force crushing people’s ability to understand and change the world.
But the world could be a whole other way. Read this.
* * *
Fundamentalist Islamic jihad is not in any way an answer to the madness of imperialism. It does not and cannot contribute in any way to humanity getting free of the long night of societies divided into masters and slaves, oppressor and oppressed nations, exploiters and exploited, shrouded in ignorance and superstition. These so-called “radicals” are nothing but wannabe exploiters and oppressors—small-time slavers fighting to get in on the plunder, not to end it—and using horrific oppression all dressed up with religious mystification to cover it over.
NO ONE should want any of this.
There is something else that actually is a radical alternative, another way this world could be—through an ACTUAL REVOLUTION—COMMUNIST REVOLUTION. This answer is found right here.
After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:12
What Do Fundamentalist Islamic Jihad and Zionism Have in Common?
by Alan Goodman | April 11, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
They swear they are mortal enemies. But they have an awful lot in common...
Is it just the fact that Israel has historically financed and promoted the rise of fundamentalist Islamic jihad, and still does when it serves its purposes?
Is it just that Zionism and fundamentalist Islamic jihad invoke an imaginary “god” to sanctify their “right” to terrorize, subjugate, and oppress other people?
Those are real, and important. But the heart of it is this: Zionism and fundamentalist Islamic jihad arose among oppressed people who were trying to go up against oppression, but they did that on the basis of the logic that “My people have been fucked over, and so we can do anything we need to, to fuck over anyone who stands in our way.” Today, both use their states to carry out terrorist ethnic cleansing of peoples and all manner of other crimes. And the lesson is this: Movements based on revenge or “my people first” end up leaving the world as it is.
Trump Announces Plan to Pay for Border Wall: Extortion
April 11, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"
Looking through the bars of the current wall on the U.S./Mexico border. AP photo
A centerpiece of Donald Trump’s campaign is his vow that, as president, he would build a 1,000-mile concrete wall at the U.S.-Mexico border and make Mexico pay billions of dollars for it. This fascist demagogic pig recently said he would force the Mexican government to pay by threatening to block the money transfers (known as remittances) from Mexican people working in the U.S. to their families back home. If this extortion scheme was actually carried out, it would be devastating for the millions of people in Mexico who rely on these remittances to fend off starvation. And it would be a huge blow to the Mexican economy overall, especially at a time when other sources of revenue, like oil, have declined.
Trump’s threat is like the slave master demanding that the slave pay for the bullwhip.
Forged, like the U.S., through conquest and genocide of native people, Mexico itself was invaded by the U.S. in the 1800s. The theft of one-third of Mexico’s land strengthened slavery, as well as the rising capitalist system in the U.S. overall. The nation of Mexico today is thoroughly dominated by the U.S., its economy answering to the heartbeat of U.S. capitalism-imperialism.
For all the talk from Trump (along with Bernie Sanders and others) about how the “free trade” agreement the U.S. signed with Mexico (NAFTA) has been bad for the U.S., it has actually opened up Mexico to even more imperialist plunder and domination. This has been disastrous for the oppressed people of Mexico. The livelihoods of millions of small farmers have been crushed, while the transformation from self-sufficiency in food to Mexico's having to import most of its food has been intensified. Millions of Mexicans have been driven north in search of a means to survive, forced to endure the harrowing crossings through the border region that has been turned into a militarized zone by the U.S. Each year hundreds of immigrants, including children, lose their lives in horrible ways during the trek through desolate deserts. If they make it into the U.S., they are super-exploited in the most low-paying, back-breaking, and dangerous jobs, indispensable to the profitability of U.S. capitalism. They strive to send money to help their families back home, while not being able to see them for years or even decades at a time. Meanwhile, they are hunted down by immigration police—like fugitive slaves in the pre-Civil War U.S. And when captured, the immigrants are mercilessly deported, including parents forcibly separated from their children—as Bob Avakian has said, like how slaves in Virginia were “sold down the river” to plantations further south, ripped from their loved ones.
These are human beings that Trump demonizes as “criminals” and scapegoats for the serious problems in the U.S. economy. But as outrageous as Trump’s border wall plan is, the response from the other candidates, from the White House, from the media and other voices of power only compounds the outrage. Where are the clear and forceful statements denouncing Trump as a fascist, repudiating him as being totally illegitimate, and standing with the Mexican people? There are none. In fact, the other Republicans compete with him to be even more repressive and chauvinist, while the Democrats talk out of both sides of their mouths, but do not challenge the essence of his agenda—that any “reforms” (like Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, a policy that allows some young undocumented immigrants to receive work permits and exemption from deportation) must be accompanied by more repression. The net effect is the old “good cop, bad cop” routine—with the outright fascists setting the agenda.
So here we have Obama criticizing Trump’s plan as “impractical” and “something that’s not thought through.” Obama said, “They don’t expect half-baked notions coming out of the White House. We can’t afford that.” This comes from the mouth of the “Deporter-in-Chief,” who has deported more immigrants than any other president. What the fuck would a more "practical" and "thought through" U.S. government plan to further lock down, dehumanize, criminalize and deport immigrants and militarize the border mean?!?
The outrageous response to the Trump wall plan is a reflection of the role that Trump has been playing so far for the bourgeoisie (ruling class) in the U.S. as a whole. He has been allowed to spout his fascist shit all over, treated as a serious voice and given an extensive forum through CNN, the New York Times, and the rest of the media. While there are now concerted moves among some sections of the rulers to deny Trump the nomination, the fact remains that they do NOT go after the basic themes of his campaign—especially this one. The other candidates are promoted as a “more sensible” choice by contrast, including the Christian fascist fanatic Ted Cruz—while the whole political scene has been moved in an even more reactionary direction. Trump, with his call to “make America great again,” is not some unacceptable exception to this criminal system. He is an extreme concentration of what America stands for.
The following article appeared at revcom.us in April, during the build-up to the Democratic National Convention. We are reposting it in light of developments inside, and outside the Democratic Convention.
If You're into Bernie Sanders...
by Lenny Wolff | April 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
...it’s not hard to see why.
You listened and agreed when Sanders decried the outrageous and grinding inequalities that mark U.S. society. Same when he went after the ruthless way that tens of millions have been locked out of basic necessities like housing, health care, decent jobs, and education. Or when he talked about the tens of millions more who had been taught to expect a better life—and now find themselves in a cycle of huge debt and utter uncertainty about the future.
You nod when Sanders proclaims the mass incarceration of Black and Latino youth to be intolerable, and calls for an end to the war on drugs. And you know that Hillary Clinton and all the rest were neck-deep in that horror till people began rising up. Sanders talks about the need to overcome the oppression of women, gay people, and immigrants, and you feel all that, too. When he attacks the other candidates for having supported destructive wars against other countries and people, and he calls for a different relationship to the environment and goes after the fossil fuel industry—that hits you, too.
More. He says “the system is rigged” in favor of the super-rich. He points the finger at “Wall Street and the billionaire class” and says “they can’t have it all.” He goes after “the 1%” and counts it a badge of honor that the bankers have never asked him to give a speech, let alone throw the money at him like they do at Clinton or Ted Cruz. He says that we need a revolution and that all real change comes from ordinary people banding together and saying “no more.” Sometimes he even talks about “socialism.” When he says “future to believe in,” well, you want that, too—it’s not an exaggeration to say that most of your friends are terrorized when they even think about the shit going on and what the future holds. Sanders says it in a way that seems direct and honest, and seems to be about uniting people and not dividing them.
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
And then there’s the answer: vote for Sanders. Give some money, and then vote and get others to vote. It sounds almost easy: a revolution with no real upheaval, no real battle, no real sacrifice. Even those who say that the Sanders campaign is a way to build toward a movement that would be full of upheaval and struggle—and we’ll return to just what kind of movement that would be a little later—still find themselves seduced by the ease of a “jump-start” off elections.
Now if you think about that for a minute, you might say a “just add water” shortcut approach to revolution is a bit of a contradiction. And you’d be right. If you are one of those people drawn to the Sanders campaign because you feel deeply that the old ways are working against people and we badly need something new, then you’ve got the responsibility to ask yourself whether this really IS what’s needed.
To be clear: We’re not about to tell you to lower your sights, or to “be realistic” in the nay-saying way that just means to go along with the status quo and do what you can on the margins. You probably get enough of that from the Clinton people and your parents. And we’re not gonna tell you to give up your principles—we’re gonna tell you to be true to the best of your convictions and to seriously dig into what it would take to bring about a world in which seven billion humans could flourish. To raise your sights to that.
But first we have to talk about Bernie.
How Bernie Sanders Defines the Problem
Let’s begin with how Bernie Sanders defines the source of the horrible situation we face. Sanders sees this as principally a problem of the super-rich “rigging the system,” but not the system itself. He bitterly attacks Wall Street and says “it can’t have it all”—but he never mentions the word “capitalism.” Wall Street is just a manifestation of the economic and political system of capitalism-imperialism. It’s a symptom, not the disease.
So, what is capitalism? First of all, it’s a whole “mode of production”—that is, the whole set of ways people must relate in order to produce the necessities of life. Like any other system, it’s got rules. Capitalism means that a relative handful of private individuals and blocs of capital own, control, and dominate the wealth that is socially produced by billions around the world. Capitalism means a system where that small class uses their ownership of the means to produce wealth to compel others to work for them. That relationship—that exploitation—is the fundamental source of the huge amounts of wealth concentrated in individual hands. Capitalism means that the capitalists compete with each other to maximize profit in a deadly game of “expand or die.” If you don’t exploit to the fullest, if you don’t constantly search out how to get more, sooner or later—and usually sooner—you will go under. Capitalism leads to huge wealth at one pole and tremendous immiseration on the other—independent of the intentions of any individual capitalist or group of capitalists. And this gets reflected—and it must get reflected—in the power relations in every single sphere of society.
The problem is not that the system is rigged; the problem is the system itself. In defining the problem as he does, Sanders points to the symptoms of the disease but refuses to name the disease itself.
Bernie Sanders and Empire
Left: A girl in India. Background: U.S. troops on patrol in Afghanistan. Photos: AP
Sanders likes to talk about the time when poor immigrants like his parents were able to have a decent life. True, there was a time when, on the basis of dominating and plundering the entire world, the U.S. was able to provide a secure standard of living for a relatively broad section of people. That time—which again was based on a global reign of terror, stretching from Iran to Vietnam to South Africa to the Middle East and Latin America and costing the lives of millions of people—is gone, both because people fought back but even more so because other capitalist-imperialist powers came up to challenge the U.S., as well as reasons having to do with globalization, etc. And nobody should shed any tears over its demise, either. To be clear, the U.S. still tries to run roughshod over the world, still plunders the people and environment all over Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But they cannot provide the same crumbs to the “home population.”
That leads to a second huge and related problem with Sanders. Bernie Sanders has at best a blind spot toward the very towering injustice that makes both the flagrant parasitism he decries and the dream of redistributing those spoils even possible. Sanders compares the U.S. unfavorably to other “major countries” in measurements of citizens’ well-being. But he never says how these “major countries” got to be “major.” He can’t bring himself to say the “I” word—imperialism. He conceals the most profound division in the world today—the division between imperialist and oppressed nations. The only time Sanders really mentions these nations, which contain the vast majority of the seven billion people on this planet, is as destinations for what he calls “American jobs.” Well, there are no “American jobs”—there is a worldwide system of exploitation in which capital flows, and must flow, to where the maximum profit can be made and which exploits people in those areas.
Let’s be clear here: millions of children every year—millions—die from preventable disease and malnutrition in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America. Millions today are fleeing imperialist military invasions, economic devastation and looting, and ecological catastrophe. These outrages are neither accidental nor necessary—they are products of the ways in which the imperialist, or in Bernie Sanders’ parlance, the “major,” countries plunder and fight to dominate the vast majority of the world. And Sanders really says nothing about this. More: quiet as it’s kept, his whole program of taxing the super-rich depends on these super-rich still being super-rich... which is only possible on the basis of this plunder and immiseration. (By the way, these so-called model northern European countries—the examples of the so-called socialism that Sanders talks about—not only partake in this plunder, they distinguish themselves by their heartless attitude toward the refugees they’ve helped to create.)
Yes, compared to the other candidates, Sanders is not an outright warmonger and he did vote against the invasion of Iraq. But press him, and Bernie Sanders makes very clear that he is about maintaining a “strong military”—a military whose basic function is to ensure the continuation of that division into oppressor and oppressed nations and the continuation of America’s status vis-à-vis the other powers. When push comes to shove—as it did with Israel’s invasion of Gaza—Sanders supports imperialist aggression.
In short, the program put forth by Sanders would leave untouched the most towering and fundamental injustices in the world. And, really, let’s tell the truth here: Bernie Sanders’ campaign is training people to see everything from the standpoint of “what’s good for Americans” and NOT what’s good for humanity. There is a very ugly, if unspoken, chauvinism at the heart of his campaign. The trappings are different from Trump and Cruz, and even Clinton, but at the end of the day, the effect is the same.
Third, Sanders points to the racism, the oppression of women, the bitter exploitation and persecution of immigrants, and the destruction of the environment. He will change these, he says. But he does not actually get to the ways in which these people-mutilating horrors have been woven and structured into the capitalist-imperialist mode of production. Getting rid of these whole interknit systems of oppression is not as simple as a few reforms—it will require tearing up the roots of these institutions through revolution to get rid of capitalism and all the institutions and ideas which reinforce it. How can anyone and why should anyone take him at all seriously on this?
Because Sanders so badly misdiagnoses the problem, his solution is not really a solution. It’s a trap. Let’s just suppose for a minute that Sanders did get elected and suppose somehow he could implement his program. Very quickly, those with investment capital would feel that “the climate was unfavorable,” that American capital was being put at a disadvantage. Money for investment would flow out of the U.S. at an even more accelerated rate, searching for higher profits. Not mainly because the capitalists would be rigging the system, and not mainly because of their greed. No. The main reason that they would have to do this is the expand-or-die compulsion at the heart of the system. Before long they would present Sanders with an ultimatum—either change the policy or else.
But suppose Sanders defied this edict. First, capital would in fact flow out of the U.S. and the economy would be devastated. But much more likely would be that the real power of the capitalist state—concentrated in the courts and the military/police forces, with their power of violent suppression—would move against him, in different ways. Sanders himself may not be “in the pocket” of this or that bloc of capitalists in precisely the same overt way as Clinton is. But even with a “President Sanders,” the capitalists as a class will still control both the levers of production and the state apparatus of violent suppression, and on that basis will present Sanders with “an offer he can’t refuse.”
If you were “President Sanders” at that point, either you would fold or you would have to lead people into a battle which you haven’t prepared them for. This is what has happened in many countries where people tried this path of seemingly “painless progress.” People in Chile tried this path in the early 1970s, electing an avowedly socialist president, Salvador Allende. Allende tried to carry out a moderate program of reform and adopted a different policy toward the Soviet Union (which was the chief rival of the U.S. at the time). By 1973, the U.S. orchestrated a military coup in which thousands, including Allende, were slaughtered. People in Greece tried this just last year, where the Sanders-like “anti-austerity” Syriza government ended up caving in to all the demands of the dominant European imperialist powers.
The fact that this would be true in a situation where the only thing at stake would be an effort to make some reforms makes doubly clear that unless and until the instruments of violent suppression of the capitalist class are defeated and dismantled, there can be no liberation. Conversely, so long as those instruments continue to exist, the masses of people will be at the mercy of the capitalist ruling class. The overthrow of this power of violent suppression is at the very heart of any real revolution.
So What DO We Do?
Revolution Club, October 24, 2015, New York City. Photo: Alex Seel
Right about now you may be saying, “OK, Sanders may not be the total answer. But what am I supposed to do?”
First, Sanders is not just “not the total answer,” he is actually part of the problem. He is putting forward a FALSE solution, an “easy-bake oven” road to liberation that is nothing but illusion. This does real harm. It may “feel” liberatory, people may be getting active around this—but you have to ask what the program actually does. If it’s not going to solve the problem, if it’s actively promoting illusions about the character of the problem, the source of the problem and the solution to the problem... then, yeah, it’s harmful.
Let’s be blunt here. This “wisp of painless progress” that Sanders promotes... this idea that voting and sending 27 bucks is gonna change anything for real... this is just BS, if you’ll excuse the pun. Any REAL revolution—in fact, any serious act of standing up against the injustices of the system—is going to involve a lot of sacrifice. And those of you who claim this campaign will jump-start a movement of mass struggle—the same claim people made eight years ago—think about this: you hope to build a movement based on a lie. The lie that you can make this beast work in the interests of the very people it consumes... the lie that you can fundamentally change the way this system does the seven billion people on the planet WITHOUT a complete rupture with its economic and political relations and structures, a real, root-and-branch revolution. Where can such a movement built on such a lie lead but right back into the killing embrace of that same system you claim to oppose? But don’t take our word for it. The history of movements that died in the suffocating “embrace” of the Democratic Party goes back decades in this country.
To those who in all sincerity, though, are awakening through the Sanders campaign: Look, you are right to think the situation is urgent. You are right to think that something drastic must be done. You are right to be thinking about revolution. But think about—check out—get into the REAL revolution. And get into, learn about and follow the real leadership we have for that revolution.
The revolution we need is a communist revolution. The ultimate goal of this revolution, as we say on our website, is
A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
This revolution is both necessary and possible.
Necessary because of everything we’ve only touched on here about how this system functions and much, much more. Possible because with the advent of capitalism, production became global and highly socialized in a way far beyond anything previous. The means to eliminate want and to make possible a full life for all humans now exists. It is the system of capitalism that stands in the way of that and instead brings in its wake misery, terror, privation, and foreclosed lives and futures all over this planet. It is from this contradiction—both the crises that it repeatedly gives rise to, and the ways in which people resist and search for answers in response to this—that makes this revolution possible.
The first real attempts at this revolution took place in Russia and then China in the 20th century. Contrary to what you are taught in school and the media, these revolutions actually achieved great and unprecedented things, up against enormous resistance and aggression. But they were eventually defeated. There are today no communist countries in the world, despite the labels that various regimes may claim.
...The Leadership We Have
But there is leadership to carry all that forward, to build on the positive achievements and overcome the shortcomings and the errors—sometimes serious ones—of those first attempts. That leadership is Bob Avakian.
BA has taken to another level the scientific method to understand and change the world first developed by Marx. Because of BA and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward—there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.
“On the Strategy for Revolution” can be accessed on revcom.us or in the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. Beyond that, there is the basic framework of a doctrine that could, when and as conditions change, with the system in even deeper crisis and millions ready to fight, enable people to actually defeat the violent suppression of the state. (See “On the Possibility of Revolution” online at revcom.us and in print in the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation.) There is a plan, concentrated in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by Bob Avakian and adopted by the Revolutionary Communist Party, which gives a concrete and living sense of how the contradictions of the new revolutionary society would be grappled with, struggled over and resolved, as part of getting to the communist world described above.
So, what to do now? Right now? Get into the movement for revolution—real revolution. Get into and spread BA, learning about his work and helping spread it to others. As you do, fight back against the outrages that drew you to Sanders, not through the killing dead end of the ballot box, but through mass resistance. Join with the Revolution Club in doing this, or write to us and find out how to start one. If there’s a Revolution Books near you join it. Learn about and relate to the vanguard of the revolution, the Revolutionary Communist Party.
Be part of raising funds, right now, as people are agonizing over the future and what to do about it, to get the work and leadership of BA everywhere.
This is controversial. If you think about it for one minute, a REAL revolution would have to be controversial. This goes all the more if it is a revolution in human thought as well. As Ardea Skybreak has said:
“Another minute lost.” The people can’t afford any more of those minutes. As we said at the beginning, if you’ve been into Bernie Sanders, it’s not hard to see why. Our call to you is not to settle for something less, but to truly raise your sights to the greatest thing worth living and fighting and dying for—the emancipation of all humanity and to act on that basis.
How Are We Doing at Making REVCOM.US the Main Vehicle Through Which the Party Leads the Work of Preparing for Revolution?
April 11, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
How are we doing at making REVCOM.US the main vehicle through which the Party leads the work of preparing for revolution?
On January 1, 2016, the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA issued Six Resolutions. The fourth is:
The main vehicle through which the Party leads the ongoing ideological and political work of preparing for revolution is its website, REVCOM.US—the “second mainstay” of our Party’s work.
The website provides ongoing orientation and leadership, both long-range and “in the moment.” It encompasses the key works of Bob Avakian, as well as the newspaper of the Party, REVOLUTION. It analyzes world events and brings out the underlying dynamics and contradictions in those events, how they are grounded in the fundamental nature and dynamics of the capitalist-imperialist system and how they relate to the struggle to overthrow and move beyond this system; it includes reports on the Party’s work in mass struggles around major social contradictions, key Party documents and articles on the importance of building the Party as the leading core of the revolution that is needed. Within this website, the newspaper plays a particular role.
As BA has put it:
WWW.REVCOM.US/REVOLUTION NEWSPAPER brings alive a scientific analysis of major events in society and the world—why they are happening, how different events and developments relate to each other, how all this relates to the system we live under, where people’s interests lie in relation to all this, how revolution is in fact the solution to all this and what the goals of that revolution are, how different viewpoints and programs relate, positively or negatively, to the revolution that is needed, and how people can move, and are moving, to build toward that revolution. Revcom.us/Revolution is the guide, the pivot, the crucial tool in drawing forward, orienting, training, and organizing thousands, and influencing millions—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution—hastening and preparing for the time when we can go for the whole thing, with a real chance to win.
This website is already powerful—but REVCOM.US must truly become a website that reaches and speaks to millions, providing guidance to them in understanding and moving to radically transform the world, as well as providing leadership to those already won to or drawn toward revolution.
So... How are we all doing at making this a reality? Send your insights, questions, concerns, suggestions, and proposals to email@example.com.
Drop the Charges on the #ShutDownRikers Freedom Fighters Clark Kissinger & Miles Solay!
April 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Clark Kissinger (left) and Miles Solay (right) with their attorney Kenny Gilbert. Clark was National Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society in 1964-65. In 1965 he organized the first march on Washington to stop the war in Vietnam, and has never stopped fighting against injustice and working for revolution. He is the manager of Revolution Books in Harlem. Miles is founder of the revolutionary rock band Outernational, touring Europe, Latin America & the U.S.
EVERYONE WHO IS APPALLED at the brutality and beatings of prisoners at Rikers, the torture of solitary confinement, and the killings of people held for no reason other than they cannot make bail, is needed to demand that the charges against #ShutDownRikers Freedom Fighters Clark Kissinger and Miles Solay be dropped. They face one year in the torture cells of Rikers for daring to put their bodies on the line at the entrance to Rikers on October 23, 2015, in answer to the call of Rise Up October to #ShutDownRikers which says:
The time for wringing our hands is over. The time for cosmetic but essentially meaningless reforms is over. A line must be drawn. People of conscience must put our bodies on the line to stop the depravity and barbarity, else we ourselves are complicit.
In response to this call, 100 people – including family members of people murdered by police, students from Columbia and New York Universities, artists, war resisters, revolutionaries and the Revolution Club, and religious leaders – marched to the entrance of Rikers Island, holding high huge portraits of people who had died and suffered from brutality, sexual assault, medical neglect, years of solitary confinement and other forms of Rikers torture.
When they reached barricades that police had put across the road, some sat down, and 16 were arrested, most of whom were released without penalty. But Clark and Miles were given much heavier charges. They are scheduled for trial Tuesday, April 12. In answering the call to Shut Down Rikers, Clark and Miles joined others in refusing to be complicit with crimes against humanity that go on at Rikers daily and at hell-hole prisons and penitentiaries across the country. They set an inspiring example that must be defended and become a model for others. This effort to convict them of a criminal offense is an outrageous attack on the right of the people to protest and fight against atrocities like Rikers. Approximately 10,000 prisoners are held at Rikers every night – 85 percent of whom have not had a trial or been convicted of a crime and are there because they cannot make bail. They are not less human and their lives not less valuable than the lives of people who live a short distance across the East River in Manhattan or anywhere else in NYC or across the country. Clark and Miles are facing Rikers themselves for standing with these prisoners. Now we call on you to stand with Clark and Miles.
Which SideAreYou On? Stand with Clark and Miles!
Demand that all charges be dropped!
Sign the Statement of Support at stopmassincarceration.net
Share on social media.
Invite Clark and Miles to speak at your school or organization.
Join court support at the trial Tuesday, April 12, 9:00 am.
Queens Criminal Court, 125-01 Queens Blvd. (Kew Gardens stop on the E/F) 646.709.1961 • @stopmassincnet stopmassincarceration.net Facebook.com/StopMassIncarcerationNetwork
Iggy & Alfredo Face Felony Charges
For Protesting Police Murder & Demanding Justice!
Drop All the Charges Now
On All Those Arrested Protesting Police Murder!
April 11, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We received this from Stop Mass Incarceration Network - Chicago:
Chicago Revolution Club at Black Friday protest, November 2015.
Police nationwide continue to murder unarmed people, disproportionately Black and Latino. While police almost never face charges, people who protest police murder are arrested, charged, and threatened with years in prison.The murder of Laquan McDonald unleashed a torrent of almost daily protests in Chicago. In response the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and the powers behind them continue to arrest protesters who are standing up for justice, just as they have done since protests against the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner broke out over a year ago. Police have been singling out, threatening, and arresting key activists from different perspectives who are playing major roles in the protests. THIS MUST STOP!
Now is the time for everyone to demand that all charges against all protesters be dropped and that the CPD stop targeting key activists! A political and legal battle needs to be waged to make this happen and all people of conscience need to get involved in this.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
● Demand the charges be dropped against David “Iggy Flow” Rucker and Alfredo Reyes. Contact state’s attorney Anita Alvarez, 69 W. Washington, Suite 3200, Chicago, IL 60602; firstname.lastname@example.org; 312-603-1880.
● Publicize the case. Invite the defendants to speak in classes, to church groups, on the radio. Spread the word on social media. Get this flier out everywhere. Make sure all protestors, and everyone you know who is supportive of the protests, is aware of these cases and get them involved. Speak out at your school, church groups, etc.
● Pack the courtroom. Next hearing for Iggy and Alfredo: Thursday,April 14, 2016, 9:30 am, Room 206, Cook County Court, 2600 S. California Ave, Chicago, IL.
● Refuse to be intimidated. They arrest people and put heavy charges on some so that you will be afraid to stand up for justice. Make this backfire on them. For everyone they arrest, many more must join the struggle.
Funds are urgently needed. Stay tuned to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network facebook page for information on crowdfunding.
IGGY & ALFREDO FACE FELONY CHARGES
On December 13, 2014, protesters took to the streets in Chicago, furious over grand juries’ refusals to indict cops for the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Chicago police arrested more than two dozen people. Most had their charges dropped or were allowed to opt for “community service.” One woman won her trial, defeating the misdemeanor charge against her.
Two protesters, David “Iggy Flow” Rucker and Alfredo Reyes, were beaten by police, and then charged with aggravated battery to a police officer and slapped with $75,000 bail each. Over a year later, they still face felony charges carrying possible 7 year prison sentences.
WE DEMAND – DROP THE CHARGES NOW! HANDS OFF IGGY & ALFREDO!
Iggy works with the Revolution Club of Chicago and has been very visible in protests to stop police murder. He is still being singled out by police. At one recent protest for Laquan, a cop who recognized Iggy assaulted him with a night stick and at another protest, a cop got in his face, shouting, “Hey, punk, wanna take a swing at me?” The Sun-Times recently revealed that the Revolution Club and others were the targets of police spying during this time.
Alfredo joined in the protest against police brutality.
If you have been protesting against police murder and terror, if your heart is with the protestors, if you believe in the value of protests shining a light on grave injustices — then
STAND WITH IGGY & ALFREDO!
* * * * *
Drop the Charges Against the South Shore 2!
Pack the courtroom, Tuesday, April 12, 2016, 9:30 am, Room 604, Cook County Court, 26th and California.
On September 26, 2015, the South Shore 2 were in South Shore with the Revolution Club and others from the neighborhood organizing for the national protest “Rise Up October—Stop Police Terror! Which Side Are You On?” in New York City on October 24, 2015.
The group was passing out palmcards, calling on people to stand up against police terror, and displaying a banner with the faces of 40 people murdered by the police. They passed out whistles to “blow the whistle on police brutality.”
As people from the neighborhood gathered, speaking their outrage about their treatment by the police and the police murders of Alfontish “NuNu” Cockerham and JJ Kemp (two men from the South Shore neighborhood), police began harassing a man nearby for allegedly selling loose cigarettes. Many people gathered to “blow the whistle” on the police, and in the face of this resistance, the cops backed off and let the man go. But a short time later, after most of the crowd left, the police returned and suddenly attacked the group, arresting a young Black woman and young Black man – the South Shore 2. They did nothing to deserve this. For a political protest against police terror they were each charged with the serious felony of aggravated battery to a police officer, by the very police that they were protesting.
Demand Criminal Charges Targeting April 14 Protesters be Dropped
Call Mike Feuer (213-978-8100), L.A. City Attorney
April 11, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We received this from Stop Mass Incarceration Network So Cal:
On April 14, 2015, 1000 people in Los Angeles protested to
STOP murder by police. At LAPD headquarters, a broad
range of speakers, and hundreds of high school students,
exposed the epidemic of police murder and called for it to
stop, now! ~ and then took the streets. Business as usual
was shut down in downtown Los Angeles that day. The march
went to the site of Brother Africa's murder by the LAPD on
skid row and culminated on Washington Blvd, where
protestors rightfully took the intersection of Washington and
Main and Washington and Broadway. The MTA train was
stopped. There was major media coverage of the event. The
protest occurred in conjunction with 30 other cities in the U.S.
on April 14: #ShutDownA14 ~ Stop Murder by Police!
There was an LA Police Commission permit for this April 14
protest and march and for the culminating rally on Washington
Blvd. The LAPD, stung by this "retaking of the political
offensive" and the largest protest in LA since late 2014,
arrested 15 people before the permit "disband time" of 6pm.
13 were charged with "trespassing on railroad property" (the
Metro railway), "refusing to comply with an order by police" and "malicious obstruction of the free movement of people on a
street or public place." Outrageously, 3 were convicted in late 2015 in a trial where the judge worked hand-in-glove with the
prosecution to convict the defendants.
Three more defendants have just started trial, jury selection is underway, with opening statements set to begin either
Wednesday or Thursday, April 13 or 14 (and trial is set for April 25 for 3 more defendants). The three on trial now were
sent to Judge David Fields court, the same judge who presided over the railroad of the 3 defendants convicted in
November 2015! This is a due process violation of the defendants rights, as Judge David Fields has made clear in
open court he considers the defendants guilty, before any evidence has been presented.
The arrests, charges and prosecution of these protestors is part of an operation by the authorities, in Los Angeles and
nationwide, to criminalize and derail protests determined to STOP murder by police - the national upsurge since Ferguson - and
to intimidate and criminalize the people and organizations that have been steadfast in their opposition to the genocidal onslaught
of police murders here and around the county.
Since the year 2000, police in L.A. County have shot more than 1300 people! And, since 2000, not one single criminal
prosecution has been brought by L.A. County "prosecutors" against the police for these shootings. Yet those
protesting to stop these police shootings and murders in Los Angeles, and thousands more nationwide, are criminally
targeted and face up to 1.5 years in jail if convicted at trial. This cannot be allowed to happen. And you are needed! Call Mike Feuer at 213-978-8100. Mike Feuer is the Los Angeles City Attorney. Demand charges be immediately dropped on
the April 14 protestors. Express yourself on the 1300 shootings by police in LA County and the outrage of prosecuting the April
14 defendants and all those fighting to stop these murders by police while police who murder walk off scot-free, time after time.
The LA City Attorney's office is withholding relevant material (discovery) that would show an unconstitutional bias driving efforts
to criminalize protests and protestors who have been acting to expose and stop murder by police, especially since Ferguson,
including the A14 defendants. The prosecution is refusing to hand over documentation of unconstitutional surveillance and
spying on protestors, LAPD "post-operation" reports and more. The L.A. City Attorney, LAPD and other law enforcement
agencies need to turn over that material. And the City of Los Angeles prosecutors must drop the charges on the April 14
Tuesday, April 19th 1:30 pm. Be In Court With April 14th Defendants for Opening Statements! Court 44, 7th Floor, Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center 210 W. Temple, Los Angeles.
Demanding "Justice for Justus Howell" on the One-Year Anniversary of His Murder by Police
April 11, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Carl Dix Speaks
on the One-Year Anniversary of Justus Howell’s Murder by Police
The following speech by Carl Dix was given at an event demanding Justice for Justus Howell on the one-year anniversary of his murder by police.
I co-founded the Stop Mass Incarceration Network along with Cornel West, and I am a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Party. We are here tonight to celebrate the life of Justus Howell, 17 years old, a teenager, full of life, full of hope, the brother aspired to be a doctor, his future stretching out before him. His life was stolen from us by a killer cop, a so-called trained law enforcement professional, a killer cop who, when he encountered a Black teenager, he stole his life. They couldn’t find a gun that night, next day they came back and surprise, found a gun... in order to further the cover-up. This is not an isolated incident, not a unique thing. This happens all the damn time. You see the mothers here, some fathers, aunts, some uncles, nephews, some nieces, cousins, who have lost loved ones at hands of police.
For every one you see here tonight, there are thousands more people whose children, whose parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, loved ones have been stolen by police. Not accidentally, these stolen lives are disproportionately Black and Brown. Earlier we talked about the term genocide. I use that a lot to describe what happens to Black people. I’m not hyping nothing up, I’m being scientific. Police kill and get away with killing Black person after Black person. Some 800,000 Black people are warehoused in prison. In Flint, Michigan, the government even pumped poison into the water of mostly Black people. Started doing it two years ago. When did they stop doing it? They haven’t, they’re still doing it. They’re putting Black people in a position where they can’t thrive and survive as a people; this is the international definition of genocide.
It will continue to happen until we stop it. It’s not up to just Black people alone to stop this. Everyone has to stop this. When you hear Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tony Robinson, Malcolm Ferguson, Sandra Bland, you have to feel that this is my child, this is my sister or my brother, that was my cousin, and on down the line. Don’t tell me this doesn’t have anything to do with you. There is no neutrality in this, no middle ground. You’re either in favor of cops murdering people, as long as it’s other people. You’re either out there being against it or it’s OK with you.
I’m a revolutionary, I’m a revolutionary communist, and I see this horror along with other horrors as being built into the fabric of the system. We need revolution, nothing less, to end it once and for all. As Bob Avakian, the leader of the Party I represent, says about the role of the police: “The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people.” This is the truth Ruth, and everyone else too. This is real and why we need revolution, nothing less. I know not everybody agrees with that, some people might still be thinking about it, some people might be against it. And we can talk about that, have discussion about that, but not idle discussion, while police get away with murder. While we talk we have to stand up and and say this must stop.
You see these family members here. I have two daughters, a daughter who almost died; it would have hurt me to my heart. But it wouldn’t have been at the hands of those who protect and serve. That’s what they’ve been going through. They’ve been standing up in the face of that, and through that... not just for their loved ones, but for everybody, saying this shouldn’t happen to others, that no one else be inducted into that club that they’re in. We’ve got to stand with them. When they carry those pictures, and say their names and tell those stories, doing this to expose the lies that are being told that keep this going, they are doing this for humanity. Not only that, there are there thousands that have suffered this.
Every day we don’t stop this, three more people get killed by police, on average; sometimes it’s more than three. Just since January 1, almost 300 people have been killed by police. This has got to stop, we gotta stand together to stop it. College campuses, walking out, holding rallies, they taking over buildings, all of this to call attention to police getting away with murder... It’s like a responsibility. This has got to stop, we have to stand together to stop it. We have to stop this. I mentioned earlier, April 21, National Student Day of Action to STOP Police Murders. College students all across the country, walking out, shutting down buildings, to call attention to police murders. The ’60s weren’t always big, didn’t get big till the students got involved. High school students should be involved in this, and everyone else support it and spread the word. There’s a slogan we chanted earlier: “Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail. The whole damn system is guilty as hell.” You gotta listen to that whole slogan. Because every now and then, these days, they indict a cop or two, not very many. They even convicted some. Some cops got charged, even convicted, but never go to jail. A cop in Brooklyn, for murdering a guy when he shot down a stairway with no lights cause he heard a sound. They convicted the cop for that, but the prosecutor said he shouldn’t go to jail.
I’m glad to be standing here together with the families and all of you. We are all standing up to stop this. This must stop and it is up to us to stop it. We must keep standing up and bring others with us. Justice for Justus Howell and all the other victims requires that we fight for it. We can’t sit back and wait for it to roll to us. We have to make it happen.
On April 4 in Zion, Illinois, the family, friends, and supporters of Justus Howell came out on a blustery, cold day filled with snow flurries to both celebrate his life and to demand justice for Justus, murdered by Zion cops a year ago. Zion is a town of 24,000 (60 percent Black and Latino) in Lake County, about an hour’s drive north of Chicago, close to the Wisconsin border.
Justus Howell was just 17 years old when he was gunned down by Zion cops on April 4, 2015. They said he was a “threat” as he was running away, and shot him twice in the back. A month later, despite witnesses who said Justus was unarmed, Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim called Justus’ murder “justified” and refused to charge the cop who fired the fatal shots.
Now, one year later, the outrage and the pain of Justus Howell’s murder remain, while the cops who are given a license to kill with impunity walk free.
With close to 100 people gathered at the neighborhood site where Justus was shot down, his mother, LaToya Howell, told supporters, “I ain’t never gonna stop this fight. This needs to be a household word....We have work to do!” and led people in a chant of “Justice for Justus Howell! We ain’t never gonna throw in the towel!” Justus’ father, Lamont Stephen, read a statement he had written, which said in part: “‘We declare the right to be considered human beings and be respected as human beings.’—Malcolm X. It is 60 years since Emmett Till... why are we still fighting for our god-given rights to be treated as human beings? Justus Howell was deprived of his rights to be a human being. Justice for Justus!”
LaToya Howell demands justice for her son Justus, murdered by Zion, IL police on April 4, 2015. Photo: revcom.us/Revolution
Over a dozen family members of people across the country who have been killed by police joined the protest, from Chicago; Detroit; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Madison, Wisconsin; and New York City. Rev. Jerome McCorry of Dayton, Ohio, also attended and spoke. Major TV, radio, and newspaper media from Chicago sent teams to cover the event.
LaToya led people to march through the neighborhood to the police station a little less than a mile away, where the demand for justice for Justus was brought right to the lair of his murderers.
From the day Justus was executed by the cops, his mother LaToya and grandmother Alice have stood firm and have been speaking out against this outrage. They both have played an important role in building a nationwide fight against the epidemic of murder by police, including taking part in the RiseUpOctober protests in New York City last October 24, and in numerous protests and meetings in Chicago and elsewhere.
Later that evening, there was a banquet sponsored by FOCUS, an organization founded by LaToya Howell to motivate and de-stigmatize at-risk youth. LaToya talked about why she formed the organization and what she is trying to do:
This is not only a necessity but my right as a parent. There are still a lot of people out here who are asleep, don’t know how important it is. These are our children, our future. ... Without these voices amplified as one, no one will listen. I believe that we will win. I’m not waiting. I was born into this, it happened to me, we’re in this game, not wantingly, but chosen to be, so we have to stick together to be heard. I wanted to ball up and cry this whole day away, but that would not be Justice for Justus. I believe that we will win.
There was controversy at the banquet—there were arguments that LaToya should love and forgive the police murderer of her son. And arguments that no one who hadn’t lost a loved one to police murder could understand the pain of that, and therefore had nothing to say or contribute to the struggle. Or that no white people could really be trusted to stand with victims of police murder. And there were schemes and dreams in the mix that you can stop the horror of police getting away with murder by getting city officials to pass local ordinances. Carl Dix’s speech responded to some of these views, and from the perspective of getting to a world without any of these horrors or oppression of any kind, was a powerful call and challenge to EVERYONE to stand together to fight to stop police terror.
The banquet overall was a powerful testament to the scope of the horrors of police murder, and families and others refusing to accept it and fighting to stop it. Each one of the family members from around the country spoke to why they were there in solidarity with the fight for justice for Justus and for all the victims of police terror. Janet Cooksey, the mother of student Quintonio Legrier, who was murdered by Chicago cops the day after Christmas, 2015, told Revolution: “It’s been going on for too long, police are getting comfortable, it seems to be part of their job now, killing our youth and covering it up, killing our youth like it’s nothing, and these are our loved ones’ lives. People are going to have to stand up and show them the outrage in us. ... I had a son who wasn’t living the street life. Going to school. An honors student. Loved people, wasn’t doing wrong. I shouldn’t have to be doing this. So it just shows the cops are out here doing wrong and thinking nothing of it.”
For decades and decades, millions of lives have been RUINED by the government’s “war on drugs.” Black and Latino people have especially been targeted. Tens of thousands have been imprisoned for years for even small amounts of marijuana. Millions have been hounded on the street, stopped and frisked, beaten and murdered by the police. Children have grown up without their fathers, young kids have grown up in juvenile detention.
Did this happen because the government was trying to “get drugs off the street”?
No. And John Ehrlichman, a top government official under President Nixon in 1969, admitted this in a 1994 interview on the “war on drugs”:
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.1
Decades of a War on the People
When the “war on drugs” was launched almost 50 years ago, the U.S. ruling class was facing a huge legitimacy crisis. The whole system was under siege from rebellions and revolutions—in the U.S. and around the world.
The civil rights movement in the South had given way to a nationwide Black liberation movement and rebellions against racism and police brutality had erupted in over 100 U.S. cities. There were huge protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam; millions of people were not only against the war but taking up struggles against racism and police brutality, the fight for women’s liberation, and gay rights. Millions of people, especially the youth, saw themselves as revolutionaries, many looking to Mao’s China (which at that time was a genuinely socialist country). The “war on drugs” was part of the system’s counteroffensive in the face of the huge challenge this presented to the ruling class. As Ehrlichman put it: “We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.”
During his presidency, Bill Clinton oversaw an explosion of prison-building while cutting welfare and other services for poor people. Here, he poses in front of a chain gang of Black
prisoners at Stone Mountain, Georgia. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton denounced Black youths as “super-predators” who had to be “brought to heel.” (AP photo)
For generations now, the “war on drugs” has meant cops kicking down doors; people locked up for small amounts of marijuana; harsh sentencing laws; occupation armies of police in Black and Latino communities, harassing, beating, killing people. It has meant Black and Latino youths being criminalized, demonized, and treated as elements in society that need to be feared and controlled, to be incarcerated and subjected to the torture of solitary confinement because they are the “worst of the worst.”
And EVERY U.S. president since, Republican and Democrat, has continued this war on the people.
Under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, racist sentencing procedures were introduced, such as the law punishing possession of crack cocaine (more common in poor Black communities) 100 times more harshly than powder cocaine (more popular among the white middle class.) “Mandatory minimums” for drug crimes meant that people were getting life sentences for possessing small amounts of drugs.
Bill Clinton oversaw an explosion of prison-building while cutting welfare and other services for poor people. He posed for photos in front of a Black chain gang, while Hillary Clinton denounced Black youths as “super-predators” who had to be “brought to heel.” Between 1980 and 1997 (near the end of Clinton’s term), the number of people in U.S. prisons for nonviolent drug offenses went from 50,000 to over 400,000—an 800 percent increase. Nearly 60 percent of these were Black people, even though they constituted only about 15 percent of drug users.
Then we got Obama, who made a big deal about commuting the sentences of 248 nonviolent drug offenders. But this is just a fucking insult to the hundreds of thousands living behind bars because they’re victims of the racist and unjust “war on drugs.” In fact, Obama has done nothing to really put an end to the whole way the “war on drugs” especially targets Black and Latino people.
Since the 1960s, there have been big changes in the global economy and the U.S. capitalist system. There are now millions of Black and Latino people this system cannot profitably exploit, that this system has no future for—that this system fears as a potentially volatile and rebellious force. The “war on drugs” is a big part of the system’s attempt to control and repress this section of society.
The “war on drugs” always was and continues to be a war on the people. This underscores the totally illegitimate nature of this system and that it needs to be overthrown as soon as possible.
1. “Legalize It All” by Dan Baum, Harper’s, April 2016. (Some people question the authenticity of this quote because Ehrlichman is no longer alive to verify it. However, in addition to the fact that Dan Baum is a respected author and journalist, it should be noted that the Ehrlichman quote is in line with other existing evidence, such as the quote from the diary of another top Nixon aide, H.R. Haldeman, that “President [Nixon] emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this, while not appearing to.”) [back]