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Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, The New Communism. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. A prepublication copy is available on line at revcom.us.
This excerpt comes from the section titled "I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science."
You know most people, especially if you get into more privileged strata in society, they just think things are there. You go to the grocery store, of course the shelves are full of things. Or you go to a video games store, of course there are video games there. You go to the mall, of course there are all kinds of stores with all kinds of stuff. But where does all this come from? How many people really think about where this comes from and how all this takes place? People just assume these things are going to be there, because somebody else, somewhere else, is doing all the work to produce all those things. And the question: What is the way in which that gets done, what is the mode of production through which all this takes place?—people don’t think about that or have no real understanding about that. But it’s fundamental, if you think about it.
There was a movie made a while ago—I didn’t see it, unfortunately, although people said it maybe wasn’t that great artistically, but it was making an important point. The title of the movie was A Day Without a Mexican. It was making the point: What if all the Mexicans, who are always slandered—and now there are people like Donald Trump aggressively putting out this slander—what if all those Mexicans stopped working for a day? What would happen? Well, you can expand that and say: What if all the people, all over the world, who produce and distribute all these things that people use every day, stopped working for a day or a week or a month? All of a sudden, people would say, “Hey, what the hell’s going on, the shelves are empty!” So this is something that is basic to society, not only that things get produced but how they get produced. What relations do people enter into in carrying out the production of things? In other words, we’re back to the relations of production, what relations people enter into in producing and distributing and transporting these things. Another way to say that, once again, is what’s the mode of production through which all this is done? That sets the basic terms for everything that happens in society. It isn’t everything that happens in society, but it’s the foundation and sets the basic terms for everything that happens in society. If you think about it, that’s pretty obvious, for the same reason that this movie was made. If people stopped producing those things, everything would grind to a standstill.
And if you try to do something in society that’s basically out of line with the mode of production of the existing system, then either you’re going to fail—or you’re going to have to make a revolution. So, more thinking should go on, more work should go on: Why is this true, that through which mode of production is the most important, the most fundamental question—not the only, but the most important and the most fundamental question—to be posed? When you’re taking up any kind of question in society, any form of oppression, anything that you feel needs to be changed, the most fundamental question is what is the mode of production that’s setting the basis and the ultimate terms and the ultimate limits for what can be changed and how?
As I have said, we’ve got to do the work—and, by the way, I’m not gonna do all the work here. A good part of what I’m doing here is posing questions which we’ll dig into, because we all have to do this work, and it’s no good if we have an attitude that somebody else, somewhere else, will do the work and we’ll just follow along. Everybody has to dig in and work on these things. If we are going to be serious, we all have to do this work. Yes, some of us have been at it longer, have more experience and have developed in certain ways to be able to do this, but we all are capable of doing this and we all have to throw in fully and do it. So, an important part of what I’m going to be doing here is posing questions. And this is a big question: Is it true that through which mode of production will any social question, including the oppression of women, be addressed, is the most fundamental question? And why is that true? I said a little bit about that, but I want to throw it out as a question for people to grapple with.
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights
Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation
The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—
Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity
Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Part IV. The Leadership We Need
The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion
Selected List of Works Cited
About the Author
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
Candidates of an Illegitimate System
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On June 12, 49 people at a gay nightclub were murdered by a gunman claiming allegiance to the jihadist group ISIS. Both Trump and Clinton made a show of mourning the deaths and extending solidarity to the LGBT community—while each avoided getting into the deep roots of anti-gay violence in American society, and the depth of its links to all the reactionary religious fundamentalist movements right now (not to mention a system of imperialism that relies on and reinforces all kinds of patriarchal institutions and values).
And each proposed “solutions.”
Donald Trump seized on this to cast suspicion on every Muslim in the U.S. and all immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa—including, in his words, “the second generation.” He hammered at and doubled down on his anti-immigrant policies. The logic of Trump’s logic would be to put every Muslim into concentration camps—as this country did in fact do to people of Japanese origin or descent, including U.S. citizens, during World War 2, an act which Trump basically upholds. This is in line with Trump’s whole fascist persona and program.
What does it say about the legitimacy of the system as a whole when the candidate of one of its two major parties has built his candidacy on an openly fascist appeal? And what does it say about where things are possibly headed when, in the week after Orlando, his calls for openly fascist measures set the terms for political discussion and debate?
What does it further say about this system’s legitimacy when the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, put her emphasis on maintaining the intensifying U.S. military aggression in Syria? Yet it is precisely the U.S. wars and aggression in the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa (every single one of which Clinton has supported down the line), along with U.S. support for Israel (which Clinton unabashedly brags about), that serve to reinforce this jihadism even when it is violently opposing it through war.
And what does it mean when Clinton, who has a long history of supporting one repressive law after another, says that “here at home, we must harden our defenses”?1 What does it mean when she calls for giving the repressive, murdering police “the right tools, and resources, and training” and more access to “intelligence” (that is, spying and surveillance)? Make no mistake, these heightened powers of repression would be used very widely, including against progressive and truly radical people who oppose the unjust policies of this government, including its wars and domination in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, while also opposing Islamic fundamentalist jihadism. Yet such a movement against both these outmoded forces, coming from within the U.S. itself, could vitally contribute to a different future for humanity. And such repressive powers would also be used against every movement that is fighting against patriarchal gender oppression, against the oppression of Black and other oppressed nationality peoples, against the demonization of immigrants, and against the capitalist plunder of the environment—count on it.
In the face of this, as we wrote in our statement on the Orlando massacre, people must stand strongly with LGBT people against this attack, and the whole wave of anti-gay outrages in society, AND oppose “what will very likely be proposals to heighten the very repressive powers that defend this social system, or to demonize and repress Muslim people as a whole, or step up U.S. military aggression in the Middle East.”
Whether we are talking of jihadism, of the liberalism of a Clinton or Obama, or of the fascism of a Trump—these are all rooted in a worldwide system of exploitation, which grinds up billions of human beings every single day. There is only one REAL alternative to the merry-go-round madness of either jihadism or the worldwide horror of imperialism, and that is revolutionary communism as it has been reconceived by Bob Avakian. This movement aims to seize power: the power needed to enable masses of people to consciously and collectively go to work on actually transforming and overcoming ALL backward and oppressive economic and social relations, not just in the U.S. but all over the world. This movement aims and works to mobilize and lead millions to overthrow this system, at the earliest possible time. This is possible, and this is necessary.
In the face of that possibility in particular, we ask:
Where is the legitimacy of a system that gives you the choice between someone who’s a fascist in all but name, and a warmonger with a whole history of supporting repression, as the highest form of freedom?
A system whose time has passed.
OVERTHROW, DON’T VOTE FOR, THIS SYSTEM!
1. See the transcript of Clinton’s June 12 speech on the Orlando massacre. Clinton has a long record of supporting or initiating repression against the people of the world. Here are just a few: She defended her husband’s draconian crime bills calling Black kids “super-predators.” (“Hillary Clinton’s Super Predator Comments—Full Context,” YouTube) She supported the USA Patriot Act, and has called for Edward Snowden to face trial. (“Hillary Clinton Is Wrong About Edward Snowden,” New Yorker.) [back]
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
June 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Early Sunday morning in Orlando, Florida, a gunman identified as Omar Mateen burst into the Pulse nightclub, known as a center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He opened fire on the crowd of several hundred, killing at least 49 people and wounding another 53. At this point, according to Reuters, the Islamic State (ISIS) has claimed responsibility.
This outrage, at a site which many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people see as a sanctuary, is extremely vicious—and horribly painful to contemplate. Ordinary people have been gunned down, murdered, apparently simply because of the way they live and love.
Such a depraved act is utterly unacceptable, something that humanity should be—and could be—far beyond. Yet while humanity should be far beyond this, the hatred for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people is deeply rooted throughout this entire capitalist-imperialist society. And yes, deeply rooted in American society. Bullying, ostracism from families and communities, beatings, insults and all manner of hate crimes against LGBT people typify life in this society. As a result, suicide among LGBT youth is epidemic. This oppression is so deeply knit into the fabric of society that the so-called holy texts of Christianity, Islam and Judaism call for death to gay people, and most of the religious institutions today constantly line up against any measure calling for any kinds of rights or dignity for LGBT people. Indeed, the last two months have witnessed massive hysteria whipped up from right-wing Christian fundamentalist politicians against transgender people using bathrooms. In complex ways, this insane hatred forms part of the "social glue" and perverse morality that knits together whole sections of this capitalist-imperialist society.
But this particular attack in Orlando has as of this posting reportedly been claimed by the Islamic fundamentalist group Islamic State. If this is true—and it would be consistent with what they profess and what they have actually done—this is yet one more reason why the vicious ideology of Islamic fundamentalist jihadism must be thoroughly and unequivocally opposed and resisted. As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has stated, there is in fact nothing "radical" and nothing at all even remotely progressive about this ideology. Its role in the world in attracting angry people to its banners to carry out vicious and misguided acts only reinforces the oppressive relations of the world, and actually strengthens U.S. (and western) imperialism, as people feel driven to choose between two oppressive alternatives.
Both U.S. imperialism and jihadism must be opposed, with no quarter given to either by anyone who hungers for justice and human emancipation. This means standing with LGBT people against this attack AND it means opposing what will very likely be proposals to heighten the very repressive powers that defend this social system, or to demonize and repress Muslim people as a whole, or to step up U.S. military aggression in the Middle East.
Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club
The whole deadly dynamic where Islamic fundamentalist jihadism and imperialism (which grinds up the lives and mutilates the spirits of millions in the name of its "freedoms") present themselves as the only poles in society must be ended. Revolutionary communism alone truly provides a viable and comprehensive alternative, capable of channeling both people's anger and their aspirations to something better, into the only project that actually CAN emancipate humanity.
This pole must be strengthened now, throughout this society and throughout the world. The obstacle that stands in the way of human liberation and indeed reinforces and fosters every backward and oppressive social relation—the system of capitalism-imperialism—needs to be removed at the soonest possible time so we can go to work on actually transforming all this as part of a radically different and radically more free world, one in which—to paraphrase Bob Avakian—all exploitative and oppressive relations, and all destructive antagonistic relations between people have been overcome and transcended. This is what we are doing right now and urge you to be part of.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
"Leaked" Memo Signals Danger of Stepped Up U.S. Aggression
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
If any country on the planet cries out for a real revolution, it is Syria. Instead, for the past five years, this country at the epicenter of the Middle East has been ripped apart by a bloody horror of a reactionary civil war, courtesy of the U.S., Russia, and a host of other predatory powers and Dark Ages Islamic jihadists.
Buildings destroyed by U.S. airstrike in Kfar Derian, Syria, September 2014. AP photo
This turf war between gangsters big and small has led to death and destruction on a mind-numbing scale: between 400,000 and 500,000 Syrians have been killed. More than one in three Syrians have been forced from their homes. 4.5 million people have fled Syria, most ending up in crowded, squalid refugee camps or perhaps watching their children drown trying to cross the sea to Europe. Another 6.5 million have been turned into refugees inside Syria. Massive swaths of cities have been pulverized—markets, homes, apartment buildings, hospitals reduced to piles of brick and stone. Irreplaceable historical sites have been smashed to rubble. The bloodletting and destruction in Syria makes Mad Max look like family entertainment.
And now powerful forces in the U.S. ruling class want to make things even worse... in the name of “humanitarianism.”
On June 17, a major dispute among the U.S. rulers over what to do about Syria broke into the open. Fifty-one State Department officials—an unprecedented number—signed an internal protest letter, against Obama’s Syria policy. The letter, which was leaked to the press, called for stepped-up U.S. military attacks on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The writers claimed the U.S. has a “moral” and “humanitarian” responsibility to bomb Assad to force him to negotiate an end to the Syrian civil war on U.S. terms. They argued that Obama’s strategy, focused on bombing and assaulting ISIS, isn’t enough and that U.S. interests are being damaged, perhaps gravely. Other ruling class figures have been blasting Obama on similar grounds for some time, and several top Obama officials have previously resigned over Syria policy. Donald Trump and especially Hillary Clinton have both called for more aggressive action against Assad. Obama’s own secretary of state, John Kerry, has expressed sympathy with the critics’ arguments.
Imperialist powers have been driven to dominate Syria for some 100 years, since Britain and France forged modern Syria from the collapsed Ottoman Empire in the decades after World War 1. Syria sits in a strategic location in the Middle East, which is home to over half the world's petroleum reserves and a global crossroads for trade and transit. A succession of imperialist powers—France, the U.S., later the capitalist-imperialist Soviet Union—have dominated Syria through repressive tyrannies, crippling and distorting the country’s development and subjecting the Syrian people to bitter oppression and, often, naked terror.
In the spring of 2011, rays of hope pierced this decades-long darkness. Tens of thousands of people—from middle class and urban youth, to farmers, intellectuals, and Syria’s marginalized Sunnis—courageously rose up against the hated regime of Bashar al-Assad, whose family had ruled with a bloody fist since 1970. This uprising revealed the profound contradictions roiling the oppressive order in Syria and the region, and the real potential for things to develop in an even more positive, revolutionary direction.
But that would have required what has so far been missing in Syria (as well as in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and elsewhere in the region): revolutionary leadership with the scientific understanding and approach which could enable it, even if it started small, to organize and lead growing numbers through the complex, fierce tumult of events toward a real revolution aimed at uprooting imperialism and all forms of oppression as part of the worldwide communist revolution to emancipate humanity. This road, and only this road, can liberate people in Syria, and plant a whole different pole across the region and world.
In the absence of such a revolutionary trend, events have been shaped by vicious predators—global, regional, and local—all operating against the backdrop of the global clash between reactionary imperialism and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism, a clash which is currently deeply and horrifically shaping the world’s military, political, and ideological terrain. Syria’s mass uprising fairly quickly turned into a savage and reactionary civil war. Within a couple of years, reactionary Islamic jihadist forces like ISIS and Al-Nusra, backed in various ways by regional and global powers, controlled large swaths of Syria.
Syrian refugees waiting to cross the border into Turkey, June 15, 2014. (AP photo)
The utterly reactionary Assad regime responded to the uprising and aftermath with bullets, bombs, and war crimes. Teetering toward defeat, the regime targeted everyone in areas held by anti-regime forces, including civilians. It killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions to flee by dropping barrel bombs—metal barrels filled with high explosives and sometimes shrapnel, oil, or chemicals—on residential neighborhoods, and blockading and starving whole cities. Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Russia stepped in militarily, desperate to ensure Assad’s survival. Iran and Hezbollah put troops on the ground and Russia supplied the indiscriminate bombing campaigns.
The U.S. blames everything on Assad, and acts as if it’s a benign, well-intentioned bystander to Syria’s hellish nightmare. In fact, the U.S. has fanned and fueled this bloodbath from the jump. Obama and the U.S. rulers sniffed a big opportunity to take down the “troublesome” Assad regime and replace it with one more friendly to U.S. and Israeli objectives. In doing so, they aimed to cut down Iran’s regional influence and to ice Russia from the Middle East action. So they demanded Assad step down and began trying to cobble together a “democratic” opposition of various flunkeys and wannabe pro-U.S. frontmen.
Meanwhile, U.S. allies including Turkey and Saudi Arabia also smelled blood—and the opportunity to undercut their regional rival, Iran, and boost their regional reach. Mostly—but not always—in concert with U.S. moves, they aggressively funneled hundreds of millions in funds and weapons into the hands of barbaric Islamic jihadists including Al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s arm in Syria. It’s widely reported that Turkey has provided ISIS critical logistical support. (While formally neutral in the Syrian civil war, Israel is reportedly more actively supporting anti-Assad forces, including jihadists.)
All of this has unleashed, emboldened, and strengthened reactionary, anti-Assad Sunni jihadists, who began flooding into Syria from war-torn, U.S.-destabilized Iraq. Would-be jihadists from around the world poured through Turkey into Syria. By 2013-2014, ISIS controlled large swaths of Syria, Al-Nusra controlled other areas, and other forces controlled still other turf, with all of them fighting for reactionary ends. The Syrian civil war was spinning out of the control of any of the combatants, including the U.S.
The U.S. has attempted to navigate these turbulent waters by weakening both sides and preventing either from prevailing. It has supported various anti-Assad forces, including Islamic jihadists, often in covert collaboration with the Saudis. For instance, $500 million in U.S. arms supposedly intended for the “moderate” Free Syrian Army—which at this point is basically used as a fig leaf for Western audiences to cover up arms transfers to anti-Assad Islamists—ended up in the hands of Al-Nusra (which some now call the “moderate” opposition).
Meanwhile, the U.S. is also attacking ISIS. It conducted nearly 3,800 bombing runs in Syria during the last two years, and now has at least 250 of its own “special operations advisor” soldiers on the ground (and on the front lines). All this has fueled and drawn out this slaughter, and there’s no end in sight. (U.S. support of Al-Nusra may be aimed at weakening ISIS as well.)
The fierce clash that’s broken out within the U.S. establishment over Syria has not been triggered by moral concerns about mangled civilian bodies or images of drowning children. The clash has “come to a head”—as one imperialist official baldly put it—because Assad and Russia are no longer negotiating with the U.S. In other words, these officials are freaked out because Russia, Iran, and Assad may be getting the upper hand in Syria (Assad recently vowed to retake every inch of Syria), and tilting the regional power balance their way. And more than that, they don’t think the U.S. can remain the world’s dominant imperialist superpower unless it takes bold, aggressive action whenever its interests or perceived standing are seriously challenged.
Obama has the same overall objectives, he just calculates that the empire’s biggest problem in the region right now is ISIS, and that he can deal with Assad later. And Obama worries that the U.S.’s ability to stay on top of the capitalist-imperialist dung heap would be hurt by getting yet more deeply embroiled in the Middle East when it needs to focus on bigger global rivals—like China.
So this is an argument among gangsters, over gangster objectives. Think about it. The U.S. has been waging war in the Middle East going on 15 years—justified with lies about “freedom,” “democracy,” ending terrorism, helping countries chart their own futures, etc. What’s the reality?
The reality is that no one is MORE responsible for the death, destruction, and suffering visited upon Syria—and the peoples of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia—than the U.S. Literally millions upon millions have been forced from their homes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen by U.S. wars, invasions, occupations, drone strikes, covert operations, and other aggressions. All this has fueled the growth of the oppressive nightmare of fundamentalist Islamic jihad across the region, including in Iraq, which has directly stoked the bloodbath in Syria.
People have to confront this horrendous, criminal reality. And please, no more of this “I don’t like U.S. wars, but we have to do something about ISIS” bullshit. As Bob Avakian has analyzed, outmoded imperialism and outmoded Islamic jihadism reinforce each other—even as they clash. And supporting either one strengthens both. Haven’t the last 15 years proved this time and again? That, too, needs to be confronted. (And tell us, how has passively accepting U.S. moves in Syria—including supporting reactionary Islamic jihadists—helped the people of Syria?)
Having confronted reality, can anyone seriously justify refusing to actively oppose the crimes of this empire, as well as the crimes of the reactionary jihadists? This understanding and stance is the only solid foundation for a real determined, mass antiwar resistance in today’s world.
The people of the world have no interest in the U.S. pouring more fuel on the reactionary firestorm burning in Syria, and more fundamentally, they have no interest in siding with and strengthening the power most responsible, on many fronts, for the horrendous state of the world today—the U.S. of A.
Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club
Those of us who happen to live within its borders not only have the responsibility to oppose any new attack in Syria—or anywhere else—but to seize on their difficulties, including fissures within their own ranks, and work for the defeat of any such aggression. Such defeats weaken the ability of these predators to carry out their crimes, and call into question the legitimacy of their system and their right to rule. This is a critical component of hastening the advent of a revolutionary opening, the time when millions can be led to go for a revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.
Finally, the Syrian civil war highlights a terrible problem: that as it, and many other societies (and the world!) spiral into crisis and upheaval, the only cohesive and strong poles internationally are outmoded imperialism and outmoded fundamentalist Islamic jihad. That must and can change—urgently. We have a huge responsibility to spread and plant the pole of genuine revolutionary communism, embodied in the leadership and work of Bob Avakian, all over the world.
The world as we have known it is flying apart. None of the powers that be have all this under control. Each is facing myriad intractable contradictions, including the fracturing of Syria and the Middle East. This is a situation fraught with danger, but also with the potential for the revolutionary communist pole to spread and take root—rapidly.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
Authorities Greasing Skids to Let Killer Cop Walk in Baltimore!
June 18, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Once again – now in the case of the outrageous MURDER of Freddie Gray – this system is showing that it has nothing to offer the masses of Black people; nothing but savage attacks that have a genocidal thrust – lead-paint poisoning, rotten education, falling down housing, no jobs, abuse and even murder at the hands of the police, and NO JUSTICE ANYWHERE.
Once again this system has proven that, in its eyes, Black people have no rights that their pigs are bound to respect. The murder of Freddie Gray – and the attempts of this system to let his killers walk free – is yet one more reason why this system is totally illegitimate. And it is yet one more reason why we need a REVOLUTION at the earliest possible time!
Just look at the way the trial in Baltimore of one of the cops involved in the murder of Freddie Gray has been run. It has been an injustice on top of an injustice on top of an injustice.
The only reason these cops have been put on trial is because the masses rebelled after the murder of Gray. When masses rose up, it was a beautiful thing – oppressed people in every ghetto, justice-loving people on the campuses and elsewhere, and people all over the world, they all took heart and supported it. It was Obama and those types who hated it, who opposed it, who slandered the heroic youth as “thugs” and all that.
Why? Because the spirit of rebellion is contagious and inspiring, and because rebellions show the potential strength of the people when they straighten their backs, and because AS people straighten their backs and raise their fists, they will seek out different and more revolutionary ways of understanding and dealing with the problem we face. This is what they were desperately trying to cool out when State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby promised to prosecute the cops for Gray's death. This is what they are now trying to crush by these outrageous trials, so they can tell people that their struggle wasn’t shit and that their lives don’t count for shit.
There is a lot riding on whether or not people take to the streets in Baltimore and everywhere if Goodson walks or just gets a slap on the wrist. If an outrage like this isn't met with a powerful response it will signal to the authorities that they can continue to get away with beating us down till we're completely broken. But if we do respond powerfully, if we do put something on the line in response to another killer cop walking free, it will give heart to all those who hated the murder of Freddie Gray and who hate to watch again and again as killer cops walk free.
Talking about putting something on the line brings to mind the example of Muhammad Ali. When the system told him he had to join the army back in the 1960s during the Vietnam War, he told them no. He said the Vietnamese people weren't his enemy; that his enemy was here in this country. They took his boxing championship away from him, but he stood firm. Ali put a whole lot on the line to oppose the injustices this system was inflicting on Black people.
The system is still inflicting injustice on Black people, and police getting away with murder is a concentration of that injustice. Anyone who really embraces Ali's legacy needs to be putting something on the line to fight the way the system gives a green light to cops who brutalize and murder people!
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
Updated June 19, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Freddie was chased and beaten down by cops who arrested him for nothing. Video shows him bent like a pretzel. They ignored his cries of pain and threw him in the police van. Then the cops subjected him to the kind of “rough ride” that has terrorized many Black people in Baltimore. This was a modern day lynching, and it’s the kind of thing police in this country inflict on Black and Brown people with impunity, all the damn time!
They are letting the murdering cops go free on the installment plan. The first trial of one of the cops who was involved in Freddie’s murder ended in a mistrial, and the cop in the 2nd trial was found not guilty. Now the cop who gave Freddie that “rough ride” is on trial. We cannot sit back while the system engages in another mockery of justice and lets another killer cop walk.
What we do matters a great deal. There wouldn’t even have been trials of any of these killer cops if people hadn’t rebelled after Freddie’s death. We must take things into our hands and demand justice for Freddie Gray, and for all the victims of brutal, murdering cops.
List of sponsoring/organizing groups and individuals in formation, including:
Carl Dix, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network with Dr. Cornel West
Tawanda Jones, sister of Tyrone West, who was murdered by Baltimore police on July 18, 2013
Qiara Butler, cousin of Tyrone West
Rev. Carl David Olson, Minister, First Unitarian Church of Baltimore
Tariq Touré, Baltimore Muslim essayist, poet and educator
Wayne AmonRa, outspoken voice in West Baltimore with radio show on WOLB-FM
Bonnie Lane, Baltimore Green Party organizer and advocate for the homeless
For more information and to add your name/organization to the list of sponsors, email to email@example.com
Flash updates when verdict is announced will go out via twitter: @revbmore
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
Updated June 29, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Revolution Clubs and the BA Everywhere campaign invite you to the kind of July 4 picnic you can really enjoy: a REALLY revolutionary one. There’ll be food, fun and friendship—plus ways to find out about the work and leadership of Bob Avakian, BA, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party... ways to get involved with the Revolution Club, which is working to spread revolution and communism, and fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution... and ways to get with BA Everywhere, which is working to raise big money to get the word on BA out all over.
And guess what? There won’t be a bloody American rag in sight—unless it’s being used to get the coals going!
If you are in—or if you can get to—New York, LA, Chicago or the San Francisco Bay Area, bring your friends and bring your family for a day of fun and celebration that is part of getting to a radically different and far better world.
New York City
Riverbank State Park, NYC
679 Riverside Drive at 145th Street
(#1 train to 145th, go into entrance of park to picnic area; last stop of M11 and Bx19 buses go directly into the park.)
People are encouraged to bring a dish, non-alcoholic drinks to share, or things to barbecue. Call 917-741-6716 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to let organizers know what you are bringing.
2-6 pm (Look for big red flag)
63rd St. Beach (63rd & Lake Shore Dr.)
Picnic. Bring a dessert or side dish to share if you can. Children welcome.
A program begins at 3:30 pm.
San Francisco Bay Area
San Pablo Park, Berkeley
2600 Park St. (between Russell and Ward)
Dockweiler Beach, Los Angeles
where Imperial Highway meets the beach (Imperial Highway & Vista del Mar).
Call 323 463-3500 for directions and more information.
Get with the Revolution Club HERE
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bob Avakian recently wrote that one of three things that has “to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this.”(See “3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.”)
In that light, and in that spirit, “American Crime” is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.
In 1981, at the beginning of the Ronald Reagan presidency, an AIDS epidemic broke out in the United States. For four years, Reagan studiously refused to even utter the word “AIDS” in public. By 1987, the first time Reagan would address AIDS with any substance, the plague had killed over 180,000 people in the U.S. (Figures from the Centers for Disease Control.)
The toll was excruciating. Friends and lovers saw each other stricken by (what at first was) a terrifyingly mysterious disease that left people wasted away, unable to eat, covered with cancerous sores and—in every case—dead.
Many of the early victims of AIDS were gay men. Others were Haitian immigrants, or concentrated among prostitutes and intravenous drug users. They were all human beings, but their lives mattered little if at all to those who rule this country. Instead of urgent research for a cure, and compassionate care, they were subjected to prejudice, discrimination, and hate.
ACT UP demonstrators, angry with the government's response to the AIDS crisis, shut down the Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD, October 1988. (AP photo)
Government officials and agencies, and ruling class institutions spread paranoia and hate. Top government officials proposed rounding up people infected with AIDS, and locking them in concentration camps.
Research efforts proceeded at a criminally slow pace for years, blocked by a lack of sufficient government funding, and a competition-for-profit-driven pharmaceutical industry that, at that time, didn’t see a sufficient “market” for AIDS treatment. The impact of millennia of prejudice against gays—which persists in virulent ways under capitalism—cast an ugly shadow over how too many people in society in general responded to AIDS, especially at first. Those in the gay men’s community who were on the frontlines of fighting AIDS had to—and heroically did—go right up on the face of that, with a profound and positive impact on society.
Victims died in homeless shelters, untreated. They died when they were kicked out of hospitals when their insurance ran out. They too often died alone—cast off by a society that made them pariahs because of their sexual orientation, their nationality, or their existence on the margins of society. They died because they feared getting tested—under constant threat of being rounded up by the government.
The criminal element is that thousands and thousands of people, in the richest country on earth, suffered far more than they should have had to, and died unnecessarily of AIDS during the Reagan years. Even before the nature and causes of AIDS were known, even before AIDS was identified as a specific disease, activists in the gay community, public health workers, and others identified sexual practices and other activity (like sharing needles) as forms through which the disease was spread. They developed popular forms of sex education and action—including free distribution of condoms—that saved lives. But their efforts to educate the gay community and other impacted sections of the population—especially poor Black and Latino people in the inner cities—were censored by top government officials who deemed them incompatible with Bible-based traditional morality. State, local, and federal laws blocked condom distribution and needle exchanges to combat the spread of AIDS and other diseases through shared needles. (Even today many states have not legalized needle exchanges). All the while, AIDS spread, and killed far more people than necessary.
Overseeing America’s war on the victims of AIDS—with a vengeance, for eight hellish years—was President Ronald Reagan. Reagan choked off all but minimal funding for research, treatment, and education. Year after year after year, Reagan refused to even utter the word “AIDS” as the plague spread—through that silence encouraging neglect, ridicule and marginalization of AIDS victims. Reagan surrounded himself with and promoted Christian fascists like Jerry Falwell, who condemned AIDS victims saying, “You cannot shake your fist in God’s face and get by with it.”
Big pharmaceutical companies first saw no profit incentive, and thus no urgency, to devote the necessary resources to life-saving research, and later competed with each other to develop treatments, refusing to allow researchers to share what they were discovering and delaying the development of effective treatment.
And mainstream (ruling class) media did their part by alternately ignoring the AIDS epidemic, and spreading inaccurate information that caused panic.
When Reagan was finally compelled to speak to why his administration had not just ignored AIDS, but spread ignorance, he made a joke to the effect that since he had opposed and shredded any and all programs that addressed human needs, why should he behave any differently to victims of AIDS!
Reagan was brought forward to turn back positive changes in society that were a product of fierce struggles in the 1960s against the war in Vietnam, against white supremacy, and male supremacy. This was also the time when the U.S. empire faced a serious challenge from the Soviet Union. Part of his mission was to weld together a section of people who would be a base for a more openly reactionary restructured U.S. society—a leaner, meaner, more overtly white supremacist and male supremacist one. The dehumanization and ostracism of gay people was a major element in this.
HEROES WHO OPPOSED THE CRIME
In the face of all this, heroes emerged to put it all on the line to STOP this crime. Gay rights fighter Larry Kramer defiantly called on people to Act up! Fight back! Fight AIDS! When asked why there was no sense of urgency in the government’s response to AIDS, Kramer called out the government for seeing the lives of gay people, Black people, Latinos, intravenous drug users, and prostitutes as worthless. He demanded that people go into the streets and fight for their lives.
In addition, a significant number of scientists and medical researchers, along with AIDS patients and public health workers, worked tirelessly and in the face of denial of resources, to search for treatment. They fought to demand faster government and drug industry action. And they called out and exposed superstition and ignorance about AIDS and its victims.
In the decades since Reagan, the contours of the AIDS crisis have changed radically. The rate of people dying from AIDS in the U.S. mainly kept increasing annually till about 1995—over 40,000 people died that year alone in the U.S.—and then began to decrease as treatment became more effective and available. Today those hit hardest by AIDS in the U.S. are Black men who have sex with men and other people who are still cut off from access to treatment by a range of factors related to the oppression of Black people in general in U.S. society.
At the same time, on a global scale, the AIDS epidemic is actually exponentially worse today than it was under Reagan. About 34 million people worldwide have died from AIDS and about 650,000 in the U.S. We’ll cover this in a future installment of this series.
The main sources for this article are:
And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the Aids Epidemic, by Randy Shilts.
The 2012 HBO Movie, How to Survive a Plague.
Both are powerful and valuable indictments of the crimes against people with AIDS in that era. The conclusions and framework in this article are, of course, our own.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
The United States of Amnesia:
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Reading most of the media coverage of the Orlando massacre, you’d think Islamic fundamentalists have a lock on deadly attacks on LGBT people. But in February 1997, another violent defender of patriarchy, the Christian fascist Eric Rudolph, bombed the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian club in Atlanta. In his own words: “The attack itself was meant to send a powerful message in protest of Washington’s continued tolerance and support for the homosexual political agenda.... Whether it is gay marriage, homosexual adoption, hate crimes laws including gays, or the attempt to introduce a homosexual normalizing curriculum into our schools, all of these efforts should be ruthlessly opposed. The existence of our culture depends upon it.”
Rudolph was thorough in his defense of patriarchy, or as he called it, “our culture.” In 1996, during the summer Olympics, he set off two bombs at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, killing two people and injuring more than 100—and ranted against the government’s “abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand.” In 1997, just before he bombed the Otherside, he set off a bomb at an abortion clinic in Sandy Springs, an Atlanta suburb. In 1998, he bombed a Birmingham abortion clinic, killing one person and maiming another.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
A History of Super-Exploitation and Vicious Domination
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On July 1, the government of Puerto Rico is scheduled to make a $2 billion payment on $72 billion of debt. As the Fiscal Times wrote, there is “no way” the government will be able to make this payment.
The Puerto Rican government missed a $399 million debt payment last month, the second time it has failed to make a debt payment. Now, a much larger payment is looming.
A further default would be catastrophic for the people of Puerto Rico, who have been suffering from a decade of severe economic recession. But any agreement reached between the government of Puerto Rico and its creditors would also be catastrophic. It would undoubtedly impose further harsh cutbacks in social services, wages, Medicaid and Medicare payments, and funding for education.
From the way this has been spun in U.S. media commentary, anyone unfamiliar with the situation would think the U.S. has been a benevolent, if sometimes paternalistic, benefactor of Puerto Rico, one that has allowed its people and government to spend money foolishly. According to this “narrative,” “the people of Puerto Rico have benefited from U.S. generosity that is no longer available in these difficult times, and suffered from corruption of their own officials.” Puerto Rico failed to “tighten its belt,” as the Financial Times wrote. When the FBI arrested 10 Puerto Rican officials and businessmen recently, the agent in charge said “this is one more case of graft, greed, and corruption that over the past 20 years have contributed to the government of Puerto Rico’s fragile financial condition and brought it to the brink of bankruptcy.”
All this is complete bullshit that turns reality upside down. In actual fact, U.S. imperialism has sucked the blood of the Puerto Rican people for almost 120 years. It has viciously oppressed and exploited them. The U.S. has denied the people of Puerto Rico the most basic right of national self-determination. It has wrenched enormous profit from the abundance of the land and relentless exploitation of the people who live there. And now it is striving to wring even more from the people of Puerto Rico.
In 1898, U.S. military forces invaded and occupied Puerto Rico as part of their triumph over a decaying imperial Spain in the Spanish-American War. Victory over Spain established the U.S. as the unquestioned major power in the Caribbean and much of South America. The U.S. also seized the Philippines from Spain and made it a colony, thus positioning the U.S. to contend for domination in the Pacific.
A treaty signed by the U.S. and Spain in December 1898 ended Spain’s colonial domination of Puerto Rico. Were the people of Puerto Rico given their freedom and self-determination by the U.S., that “great champion of freedom and democracy”? Hell no. They were forcibly maintained as a colony, only now under total U.S. control, and have stayed that way up to today! Over 12 decades the U.S has viciously and consistently tried to crush the desire of people in Puerto Rico to determine their own destiny.
Immediately upon seizing control, the American occupiers instructed military commanders to make sure the people obeyed U.S. authority. They sought to crush the spirit, culture, and language of the people, and continued to do so for decades.
The military declared in 1898 that using Spanish, the language of the people, in schools and other institutions was illegal. The U.S. banned the national flag of Puerto Rico and jailed anyone caught displaying it. Fifty years later, in 1948, in the face of a growing movement for independence, the U.S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico signed a law which made it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, to sing a patriotic Puerto Rican song, to speak or write of independence, or to meet with anyone, or hold any assembly, in favor of Puerto Rican independence. This law remained in force until 1957.
Pedro Albizu Campos, who for decades courageously fought for the independence of Puerto Rico and was the spokesperson for the Puerto Rican Independence Party, was imprisoned for 26 years by the U.S. He was repeatedly tortured and brutalized by prison authorities, and died shortly after he was released from his last imprisonment.
The U.S. Navy established its U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command with bases all over occupied Puerto Rico. For decades, it used the nearby island of Vieques for military exercises, and as a testing ground for explosives. Fierce protest from people of Puerto Rico finally brought this to an end in 2003.
Puerto Rico was developed to serve the interests of U.S. capitalism-imperialism, not to meet the needs of the Puerto Rican people. U.S. imperialism subjected Puerto Rico to a distorted, lopsided development. It is as if someone installed a powerful engine in a car they were rebuilding, but let the tires remain bald, the windshield shattered, the transmission stuck in neutral.
Imperialist buyouts forced many small farmers to work on giant plantations in tobacco, coffee, and especially sugar production, which took over much of the best land on this fertile island. By 1934, 80 percent of sugar cane farming in Puerto Rico was owned by U.S. corporations. A study done at that time revealed that Puerto Rican farmers working for the U.S. sugar barons were paid, on average, 12 cents a day for themselves and every member of their family. These pittances forced many people to leave the countryside for the slums of San Juan... as well as New York, Chicago, Boston, and other cities. Many thousands of people in this era worked as super-exploited field hands in agriculture on the U.S. East Coast, then returned to Puerto Rico for the sugar harvest.
After World War II, the U.S. imposed “Operation Bootstrap” on Puerto Rico. This was a series of initiatives to develop U.S.-owned and -based industries in Puerto Rico. It mandated, among other things, that large numbers of people be forced out of rural areas and into San Juan and other cities.
A harvester hacks at sugar cane with his machete in Puerto Rico, June 1948. (AP photo)
A scholar who studied Operation Bootstrap reported, “By the summer of 1950 eighty new industrial plants were in operation and the hundredth was under construction. When the constitution of the new Commonwealth of Puerto Rico came into effect, on July 25, 1952, some 152 factories were in operation. The overwhelming majority were consumer goods industries: producers of textiles, wearing apparel, footwear, electronics equipment, electric wiring, drafting tools, artist’s brushes, fishing tackle, artificial flowers, and other plastic and metal articles assembled in Puerto Rico for sale in the Unites States. They were ‘labor intensive’ industries, for they relied more heavily on labor than on machinery to supply the value added to the raw materials which they imported from the mainland.”
“Labor intensive” means super-exploited: the capitalists forced people to work long hours, at pay well below what similar jobs would pay in the U.S., with restricted benefits and dangerous conditions—all for the “profit intensive” benefit of the exploiters. Some people got these shit jobs in the new factories. But overall, there was a decline in the number of employed people—the people of Puerto Rico mattered to the capitalists only so long as they could produce wealth and profit.
Women working out of their homes in needle trades had been the largest single source of “industrial” employment in Puerto Rico in the 1930s, ’40s, and early ’50s. Tens of thousands of women, often with assistance from their children and occasionally their husbands, toiled at 1 to 4 cents an hour producing clothing sent to the U.S. and Europe. But even this marginal existence came to an end for tens of thousands, as the capitalists developed even cheaper ways of mass producing clothing in far-flung parts of the world. The dislocation and impoverishment capitalism-imperialism inflicted on so many people in Puerto Rico compelled a large-scale out migration in the 1950s.
Beginning in the late 1960s, pharmaceutical manufacturing behemoths moved into Puerto Rico on a big scale. Companies like Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol Myers Squibb were given lucrative federal tax incentives and set up plants on the island, where, again, workers were paid less than in similar jobs in the U.S. But in the late 1990s, the U.S. began phasing out those exemptions, and they ended in 2006. Since then, employment in pharmaceutical manufacturing has shriveled, as the corporate giants searched for new people and lands to exploit.
Generation after generation, millions of Puerto Rican people have created enormous wealth for U.S. imperialism. The imperialists used this to make further profits all around the world, while impoverishing the people in Puerto Rico. Now the people are left with an economy that has been utterly devastated, the carcass of which is being sucked dry by parasitic hedge funds. And to add insult to injury—the people of Puerto Rico are called “lazy” by the very parasites who have fattened off them for 120 years!
Today, global “turbo capitalism” churns across the planet. It has created a worldwide environment in which capitalists restlessly and constantly seek out areas in which their investments bring the largest reward. This global situation and decisions taken by the U.S. government, under both Democrats and Republicans, have bled Puerto Rico, undermined and destabilized its economy, and brought the country and its people untold suffering.
Blocking a main entrance tunnel, to protest austerity measures in San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 2014. (AP Photo)
Now Puerto Rico is hemorrhaging people, and most of those who remain are afflicted with intensified repression and arrogant contempt by their imperialist overlords. Over the last decade, hundreds of thousands of people—out of a population of 3.5 million—have been forced to leave Puerto Rico and try to find a living in the U.S. This is the largest migration since what is known as the Great Migration during Operation Bootstrap after World War 2.
Many highly educated people, including doctors and health care professionals, have left, leaving Puerto Rico particularly vulnerable as the Zika virus spreads. Cuts in funding inflict further restrictions on health care, and a potentially calamitous crisis in public health looms. “These are a cascade of cuts that will have disastrous, gigantic implications,” said the chairman of the Puerto Rico Healthcare Crisis Coalition. “Health care in Puerto Rico is headed for a collapse.”
Official unemployment is 12 percent. In reality, as lawyer Linda Backiel wrote recently in Monthly Review, “Workforce participation hovers at 40 percent, the majority without full time jobs.” With most farmers driven from the land, close to 90 percent of the food in Puerto Rico must be imported today. This, and the fact that U.S. law requires all shipping to and from the island to use American services, means that food is particularly costly in Puerto Rico.
Utility bills in Puerto Rico average more than twice the cost that they are in the U.S. The cost of electricity is “probably the most serious issue we face today,” a business executive with investments in Puerto Rico said. Soaring utility costs impact the cost of everything, in particular the ability of basic people to survive and obtain lighting, transportation, water, and other life necessities. A woman in San Juan said her community does not have even a basic sewage system. When it rains, water flows into a canal and wastewater backflows into the pipes carrying drinking water, and even floods into their homes. “What keeps impacting us is the problem of polluted water ... our children have to put their feet in polluted water....”
Most children in Puerto Rico now live in poverty, and 84 percent of them grow up in impoverished communities. Children are suffering even more than the rest of the population because of soaring costs, cutbacks in funding for schools and public health, and steep reduction of all government services. Dozens of schools have been closed; deep funding slashes have crippled public higher education. Mass criminalization and incarceration of generations of youth has been carried out systematically by the authorities. Linda Backiel described this situation: “One hundred twenty-five residents of a single barrio or housing project may be charged in a single federal drug conspiracy indictment, so that three generations end up in jail, essentially for participating in the only economic activity visible in their community.”
This nightmare of exploitation and oppression will finally end when the imperialist chains that shackle Puerto Rico are shattered through revolutionary struggle. There is a proud history of resistance of the Puerto Rican people—on the island and in this country. One of the high points in this struggle was the courageous and bold struggles in the 1960s by the Young Lords Party within the U.S. This fighting spirit and struggle needs to be revived, and taken much further—into a fight for revolution based on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism.
Right now is one of those rare times when the media and politicians in the U.S. are actually talking about Puerto Rico—and the real truth about Puerto Rico and the possibilities for great advance in overcoming oppression in today’s situation must be made known as widely as possible in all society. On this scientific basis, support for the struggle of the Puerto Rican people to break the imperialist chains must be built as a part of building the movement for revolution—and with the seizure of power the hold of the U.S. on Puerto Rico will be broken.
Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America explains how the future socialist society will view and relate to the nation of Puerto Rico:
The Nation of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans Within the New Socialist Republic in North America.
1. Puerto Rico and its people were subjected to brutal conquest and domination—first by the Spanish Conquistadors and then by U.S. imperialism, forcibly seizing Puerto Rico at the end of the 19th century—with devastating and even genocidal consequences for the first inhabitants of the island and then the enslaving exploitation of others. Through this process, however, a Puerto Rican nation was forged on that island territory, even as Puerto Rico itself continued to be held as a colonial possession of the imperialist United States of America. As a result of the revolution which brought into being the New Socialist Republic in North America, the hold of U.S. imperialism over Puerto Rico has been broken, and the New Socialist Republic in North America recognizes the independence and right of self-determination of the nation of Puerto Rico. At the same time, the New Socialist Republic in North America works to develop relations with the nation of Puerto Rico on the basis of the internationalist orientation and other principles and objectives set forth in this Constitution, and remains open to the possibility of a union with the nation of Puerto Rico, in a larger socialist state, on this basis.
2. With regard to Puerto Ricans within the territory of the New Socialist Republic in North America, the principles and policies that apply to minority nationalities which were oppressed and discriminated against in the imperialist USA shall be applied, including the right to the establishment of autonomous areas in cities and other places where there are significant numbers of Puerto Ricans.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
What is sound? How does gravity work? What are the ethical challenges of rewriting the human genome—the “coding” in the genes that shapes all life—from scratch? Why is Einstein such a big deal, really? Does science destroy—or enhance—human beings’ awe and wonder at the world? What is our responsibility to the well-being of the planet?
For five days in early June, thousands of people gathered in New York City to dig into these and many more questions at the ninth annual World Science Festival, founded by Brian Greene and Tracy Day. The festival began with a beautifully choreographed tribute to Oliver Sacks, an iconoclastic neurologist and compelling storyteller who explored and shared the lives of his patients in ways that brought alive their humanity as well as shed new light on previously little-understood neurological disorders and the make-up of the brain. Among many other topics, including the ethics of editing genomes and the threat to bio-diversity on planet Earth, the festival grappled with the relationship of the human mind to its neurological functioning, and the dazzling discoveries and life of Albert Einstein. On the latter, we highly recommend watching the film The Genius of Einstein: The Science, His Brain, the Man on the festival website.
One of the special treats of this year’s festival was the participation of some of the leading scientists behind LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). They discussed the science underlying the detection last September of gravitational waves triggered by the merging of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago. (See “Hearing the Universe for the First Time—The Detection of Gravitational Waves and What That Has to Do With... Everything” for coverage of this extraordinary breakthrough.) The festival offered a rare chance to listen to the people who had conceived of the experiment decades ago and worked, again for decades, to bring it to fruition. They talked about why and how they had fought for this, and how it opened up a whole new “lens” to study the universe.
There was a spirit of excitement towards not just the conclusions of science, but also the scientific method and the importance of scientific pursuit. Some people asked whether scientists should “sell” the need for science funding to Congress and taxpayers based on the market value such science could produce, or instead based on the fact that “we are human and should know how the universe works.” The lead LIGO scientists insisted, without hesitation, that research should be argued for on its scientific merits in their own right. This was refreshing and in sharp contrast to narrow practical or financial utility that too often characterizes such discussions.
Why does all this matter to revolutionaries? Because this is part of the rich process of knowing and changing the world, not some narrow instrumentalist view of political work.
With an appreciation of the scientific spirit and mission of the festival, we felt a sense of urgency to win scientists—and the broader community interested in science—to engage with and contribute to opening up societal engagement with Bob Avakian (BA). BA Everywhere is a massive, multi-faceted fundraising effort to make BA a household name and his work a point of reference in society. The festival was a forum where big ideas were being discussed, with those attending able to potentially contribute big funds to an initiative that really matters. Plus, the heart of it all was a discussion of science, which is the essence of BA’s breakthrough: that is, the thoroughly scientific understanding and approach he has forged to making revolution and emancipating all of humanity. Successful revolutions involve the transfer of allegiance of a section of the intelligentsia to the “new order,” and we have to be struggling for this right now, and scientists are a critical part of this. For all these reasons, we had to be there.
This was an exciting part of a process of engagement and struggle with this stratum, over big questions of science and method, of revolution and communism, of a radically different world and possibilities for humanity. As expected, BA and what he represents was controversial—in a VERY good way—unsettling thinking, posing and provoking new questions, and eliciting various responses. The all-round relevance of BA’s work was truly striking, and we got an even greater appreciation of what a difference it would make for BA to be Everywhere. This is part of what we revolutionaries live for!
It is an unfortunate thing that very few had heard of BA—and this needs to change urgently, the goal and raison d’etre (purpose) of the BA Everywhere fundraising campaign. That’s part of what we’re trying to change, and we went to work on it right there.
"Bob Avakian has made a historic breakthrough for human emancipation."
Ardea Skybreak, Science and Revolution: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian and other works
First, as expected, and should be expected, there were a variety of initial responses to what we had on our flyers, and what we spoke to people about in line with them. There was the positive—such as the leading scientist who said, “Wow, thank god, the revolutionaries are here!” as well as their colleague—who travels the world and has seen the conditions of large sections of humanity in the Third World—who said, “I know we need something different, I don’t know what it is. Maybe this is it!” Then there were those who did not want to engage and were more dismissive. This is all part of the process and, again, something to work on and struggle over.
Based on presenting what BA represents and has brought forth, there were the more substantive exchanges and struggles, sometimes really sharp, and mostly fun, vibrant, and revolutionary. We did not aim to nor could we definitively “settle” everything right there, but wanted to set terms on what is correct and scientific, and on this basis, open the process of engagement. Following are a sample composite of the more substantive responses and exchanges, which we thought our readers would be interested in.
» To those who commented, “If BA is so great, why haven’t we heard of him”? we responded, “Precisely what we are trying to change with THIS campaign, and why you are needed” and we started an engagement from there.
» Along with struggles and wrangling on a scientific approach to science itself (as opposed to mechanical materialism, empiricism, and outright relativism), there were a number of inter-related questions which all had to do with whether science can be applied to society. As Ardea Skybreak points out in her interview Science and Revolution, this is a point of struggle with natural scientists. Part of this, I realized through the process, is that people are used to bourgeois economics and sociology being the methods. But what is represented by communism—from the breakthrough of Marx to the qualitative advance represented by BA—is not well-known and more often misunderstood.
First is the thinking that because society involves people and people are different, with varied thinking, science cannot be applied to society. But as we pointed out, from having grappled with the Skybreak interview, how does the scientific analysis of human society differ from scientifically studying ecosystems, with all their multi-faceted dynamic interactions and inter-relationships? Then there is the question of where people’s thinking comes from—and the basic fact that most of the dominant ideas pumped out by the propaganda organs of media, with some variation, are largely consistent with how this society functions in its economic “base.” An example we kept coming back to is the idea that “human nature is selfish,” and capitalism is the “natural extension of that.” There is no evidence of this: Humans are capable of great good and great “evil,” and we’ve seen both, and what we call “human nature” is really “the nature of the system.”
Second is the thinking that there are “many solutions” to social problems and we are all doing our part toward a “common goal.” This was presented coherently by an ecologist who had earlier presented a very dire picture of the threat to the world’s ecosystems and bio-diversity. A comrade of mine really challenged him on whether he would apply the same method to cancer of a loved one, or whether a scientific approach of determining the diagnosis and forms of treatment (i.e., problem/solution) is necessary, applicable, and warranted. Given the overall sincerity of most of these scientists, this was provocative and unsettling—and opened a door to engagement on what it is that BA has actually brought forward in the new synthesis of communism, raising sights in the process to a radically different “solution” and world that has a real chance to go to work on the world’s ecological and environmental problems.
Third, BA’s basic method and approach for scientifically summing up past socialist societies was intriguing to many. We met a medical professional who was really disturbed at the inadequate level of discussion around the ethics of synthetic genomes. She subsequently engaged our team on a variety of discussions. A product of the post-’60s, and really sick of the world “as is,” she was sympathetic to “revolution,” but at the same time profoundly “skeptical” that something “good” could come out of it. This led to a discussion of what BA has actually done, for over 40 years on this question, and his re-envisioning of socialist society, concretized in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. She was won over to this approach, and bought it to study.
» A relatively prevalent line was that capitalism is “not all that bad” and has “lifted millions out of poverty.” There were different threads to this essential argument:
First, we hadn’t realized it till this festival, but Steven Pinker is a big point of reference among some of this stratum, for seemingly having “proved” that “violence has declined,” that “the world of the past was much worse.” This is not the place to refute this thesis (and a comrade of mine did a lot of agitation on Pinker’s flawed methodology), but the point we made—with revolutionary passion—was the suffering we do see now is utterly needless: the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, millions cast off their lands, one in four women victims of sexual assault, mass incarceration in the U.S., and the fact that one in three Black males born today is slated for prison. This is because of the nature of this system and the history of this country, and we need an actual revolution to get this off our backs. Once confronted with this reality, as was expected, things divided out in interesting ways, with some wanting to continue talking, and others not.
Second, among the scientific-minded, there are those who saw this more as the era of science than of capitalism, that “science has advanced the world in the last 300 years.” They pointed to things like modern medicine and communication. We returned to the basic point that the vast gap between what science has brought forth and the fact that billions are locked out of it is unacceptable and needless—from the science of evolution to the actual technologies that make lives better such as health care.
BA, in his essay “Marxism and the Enlightenment,” says we have to divide the Enlightenment into two—a radical rupture with capitalism while basing ourselves on and advancing science and the scientific method, both arising out of the Enlightenment.
» Politically, there were some whose line was “first we have to defeat Trump, then let’s talk.” The struggles around this often became sharp. For example, with a scientist one of us was talking with, we posed that any system that holds up Donald Trump as “legitimate” is itself completely illegitimate and only underscores the need to engage the real alternative that has been brought forward by BA. The scientist argued that things are too urgent, too dangerous for “all that,” and that he’s working for Hillary just to stop Trump.
“She is a war criminal,” we insisted. Someone nearby defended her, but the scientist backed off for a moment, clearly aware that Hillary has indeed carried out international crimes. So, we challenged him again, “If you support her, you don’t stop the capitalists from ruling over us, you just become complicit in the crimes she is carrying out.” He responded defiantly, “Then I’ll be complicit!” We challenged this very sharply, on the morality and ethics of this position, and the fact that there is a “radically different alternative”—with the argument still ongoing, but this reflects the thinking of way too many people, trapped within the terms set by the criminals who rule over us. A few comrades had similar struggles.
» A refreshing aspect was that while there was some basic slander that “communism didn’t work,” which could be easily dismissed with actual evidence, compared to the “usual political circles,” there were few objections on the need for leadership, or the role of the individual per se. We were commenting on this with each other, that at one level the festival was celebrating the individual roles of Oliver Sacks, Einstein, and others such as the leading LIGO scientists. “Pulling the lens back,” it’s an example of what Skybreak says in her interview—that really good scientists and those dealing with reality generally recognize the unevenness in society, the value and role of those who are far ahead and make great contributions and advances for humanity, and from whom there is a lot to learn and follow.
All in all, this is the beginning of a process, and we aim to continue forth with this.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club
This week, as hundreds and hundreds of people were forced to go to appear at the infamous Criminal Courthouse in their city, they were greeted with the Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party: Time To get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution. Large posters of this message in English and Spanish were up on the lamp poles and light boxes by the train stops and bus stops, along sidewalks from parking lots and on fences all around the area where hundreds and hundreds of people walk past on their way to court as well as those going into other courthouses in the area, to City Hall and other government buildings of injustice. And many, potential friends and foes alike, were surprised on Wednesday of that week , to find these posted inside the doors of every stall in the men’s and women’s bathrooms on almost every floor of the building.
This seems pretty simple to do—looks like someone just taped in advance one English and Spanish print version of the Message together and then rolled up a bunch of them like toilet paper so they could unroll each set quickly and tape it on the door. There are tape dispensers you can buy which you wear on your wrist, and little piece of precut tape can be pulled out quickly and quietly. (Don’t forget to flush the toilet when you are done.)
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
The first and second of Bob Avakian’s “3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better” (May 1, 2016) are (1) “People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this,” and (2) “People have to dig seriously and scientifically into how this system of capitalism-imperialism actually works, and what this actually causes in the world.”
People should think about—confront and scientifically analyze—the testimony of victims of CIA torture revealed this week in response to lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). These specifics were not released in the 2014 Senate Torture Report when it was made public. As revcom.us said at the time, the report showed that the purpose of the torture was “to instill terror across a wide swathe of the Middle East and Central Asia, and to send a mob-style message that nobody fucks with the U.S. empire... or else.” (“What the Senate Report Reveals... and Covers Up—Torture to Enforce a World of Horrors,” December 15, 2014) The documents revealed last week make that assessment all the more vivid.
The Bush regime decided early in its “war on terror” to designate men they captured as “enemy combatants” rather than as prisoners of war. “Enemy combatants” is the name made up by Bush’s legal advisors to circumvent domestic and international law (like the Geneva Conventions) against holding people without charge indefinitely.
In “black sites” around the world, the CIA tortured their prisoners—beat them, underfed, isolated, chained, and shackled them upside down and in painful positions, deprived them of sleep, humiliated them, and threatened them with death.
The documents reveal more clearly how CIA medical staff—those who are sworn to “do no harm”—were given specific instructions on the tortures of sleep deprivation, limiting food, chaining prisoners standing for 48 hours in a fixed position, and waterboarding. (Waterboarding, used by the U.S. on people of the Philippines in the 19th century, means tying a person down, repeatedly pouring water into their nose and mouth to the point of drowning, then stopping while the victim coughs air back into their lungs.)
Khaled El-Masri is a German citizen who was traveling in Macedonia in 2004 when he was kidnapped (“rendered”) by the CIA and taken to a black site prison in Afghanistan where he was tortured. The reports say the CIA “quickly concluded he was not a terrorist.” By the time he was released four months later, he had lost 50 pounds and threatened a hunger strike. The CIA told him that a condition of his release, as an innocent person, was that he “not reveal his experiences to the media or local authorities.”
A released CIA document says, “[T]here was an insufficient basis to render and detain al-Masri and the Agency’s prolonged detention of al-Masri was unjustified. His rendition and long detention resulted from a series of breakdowns in tradecraft, process, management, and oversight. CTC and [redacted] failed to take responsible steps to verify al-Masri’s identity. ALEC Station exaggerated the nature of the data it possessed linking al-Masri to terrorism. After the decision had been made to repatriate al-Masri, implementation was marked by delay and bureaucratic infighting.”
Even after El-Masri’s release, the government fought his attempts at justice by claiming his case could not be heard in U.S. courts because of “state secrets.”
Gul Rahman was left half-naked, doused with water, and chained to the floor of an unheated cell to freeze to death at a secret CIA prison referred to by the U.S. military as “The Salt Pit,” near Kabul, Afghanistan, in the winter of 2002. Jason Leopold of VICE News reported the story of Rahman’s death: “The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against the architects of the torture program on behalf of Rahman’s family, alleging human experimentation and torture. One of the two architects, retired Air Force psychologist Dr. Bruce Jessen, was present at COBALT [a CIA detention site] prior to Rahman’s death and performed a psychological evaluation on Rahman, deciding what torture techniques should be used on him ‘to render him compliant.’”
Dror Ladin of the ACLU says, “The CIA and Jessen considered Gul Rahman to have a ‘sophisticated level of resistance training’ because he ‘complained about poor treatment’ and said he couldn’t ‘think due to conditions (cold)....’ When they decided he wasn’t sufficiently ‘broken,’ CIA personnel brutalized, starved, and froze him to death, then lied about it.”
Artwork: Special to revcom.us/Revolution
Again from Vice: a released document details that the CIA’s Associate Deputy Director for Operations/Counterintelligence concluded that Rahman’s “actions likely caused his own death. By throwing his last meal he was unable to provide his body with a source of fuel to keep him warm,” the report said. “Additionally, his violent behavior resulted in his restraint which prevented him from generating body heat by moving around and brought him in direct contact with the concrete floor leading to a loss of body heat through conduction.” Think about that! It’s like the lawyer for the pigs who said, “Rodney King alone was in control of the situation” because he didn’t stop moving while they beat him.
The Justice Department has declined to prosecute anyone in connection with Rahman’s death.
Abu Zubaydah was misidentified by the CIA as a leader of al Qaeda, and severely wounded when he was captured in Pakistan in 2002. He apparently gave information during interrogation, but the CIA thought he knew more. So they shackled him naked in a cold room and waterboarded him 83 times in a month. He was held in a secret CIA prison for years, until he was moved to Guantánamo in 2006, as a “high-value” detainee. Zubaydah is still held at Guantánamo., awaiting trial by military commission. It is unlikely such a trial will ever happen, because the government has no interest in revealing more on the extensive torture by the CIA.
These are the terrible consequences of U.S. imperialism’s role in the world today.
The third of what BA says are the “3 Things that have to happen...” is: People have to look deeply into the solution to all this.
You could start by studying the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which forbids torture by armed forces, militia, or any organs of public defense or security: “No prisoner or any other person may be tortured or subjected to other forms of cruel and unusual punishment, nor treated in any other way which violates the high standards which must be maintained in accordance with the nature, purpose and role of these institutions of defense and security, as set forth in this Constitution.”
And then get more fully into BA.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
June 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Wednesday morning, June 15, 8 people with the Revolution Club were illegally arrested in front of the Los Angeles Criminal Courthouse. They were bringing the Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party that begins: “The Revolutionary Communist Party IS ORGANIZING NOW TO OVERTHROW THIS SYSTEM AT THE SOONEST POSSIBLE TIME. Preparing to lead an actual revolution to bring about a radically new and better society: the New Socialist Republic in North America.”
Members of the Revolution Club were marching in formation, distributing this message and exposing the reality of what goes on in the meat grinder of the Criminal Courthouse, which is itself criminal and part of enforcing a criminal system. After an hour, the LA County Sheriffs arbitrarily decided to stop this completely legal gathering and arrested all those marching. They were given no warning and had broken no laws.
While members of the Revolution Club were under arrest, the LA Sheriffs threatened and attempted to intimidate them. When one of the Sheriffs was called out for threatening one of the revolutionaries, he said: “I'm looking out for me because 'white lives matter' here.” These are the same Sheriffs whose vicious and bloody brutality against people held in their jails and people who visit them has been exposed over the last several years.
The revolutionaries were charged with a misdemeanor, “picketing near a courthouse to obstruct justice.” Given the amount of INjustice that goes on in that courthouse, this charge is a bitter irony. They weren't obstructing anything but were making known there is a force that is serious about bringing into being a whole different world through revolution—which they had every right to do. This is a serious charge with up to 180 days in jail.
Because of the crimes and outrages committed every day in their halls of power, this courthouse has been the site of innumerable protests, and the Revolution Club had every right to be there. What the LA authorities found intolerable was the message of revolution and the challenge to their illegitimate authority.
This cannot be allowed to stand.
This message of revolution needs to reach into every corner of society, including to all those who are ground up through the system's courthouses every day and given no future under this system.
Demand that these illegal charges against the Revolution Club be dropped immediately!
Be part of getting the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP everywhere.
You are needed:
1. Come to the Criminal Courthouse, Thursday, June 16, 8:30 a.m. for a speak-out and press conference. Come ready to speak out about why these charges should be dropped and why this system has no right to rule.
2. Call LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. Demand the charges against the Revolution Club be dropped: 213.978.8100
3. Check out the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP at revcom.us and below. Be part of getting this everywhere.
The problem: this system. This system drives refugees and immigrants into exploitation, horror and death. This system wages brutal wars of slaughter. This system destroys the environment. This system locks down generations of Black and Brown youth, brutalizing and incarcerating them and even blowing them away—or else setting them up to fight and kill each other, when they should be fighting the REAL enemy. This system conditions men to disrespect and brutalize women, when the fury of women must be unleashed for revolution. This system—capitalism-imperialism—must be overthrown.
The solution: REVOLUTION–nothing less! Revolution where millions go up against, defeat and dismantle the system's armed forces of violent suppression. Revolution that sets up a totally new power, with a different economy and different ways people relate to each other.
The goal of this new revolutionary power is communism: a world where people are no longer divided into rich and poor, masters and slaves, rulers and ruled. No longer fighting and slaughtering each other, but working together for the common good. No longer locked in ignorance, but consciously understanding, and changing, the world. No longer destroying the earth, but acting as its caretakers. This is possible, humanity has developed the basis for such a world; it is the system of capitalism that is in the way.
The leadership: Bob Avakian, BA, the leader of the RCP, has developed scientific theory on a world-class level. At the same time, BA deeply understands and connects with the most oppressed.
BA breaks down why reality is the way it is, and how people can change it for the better. He's learned from the achievements and the shortcomings of past revolutions, and brought forward a much more scientific approach to the big problems facing humanity. This is the new synthesis of communism.
BA has developed answers to why this system can't be reformed... how revolutionary forces could grow from weak to strong, and actually defeat the enemy...how people could then build a new society on the road to emancipating humanity throughout the world ...and how to wage the struggles of today to reach that goal.
BA's leadership is a huge strength for the revolution: to follow, to learn from, to defend.
How to move today: The all-out struggle for power is a serious thing, and it can only be won when the system is in deep crisis and millions are ready to put everything on the line. Today is not yet that time... but today IS the time to urgently prepare for that.
1 Go to www.revcom.us every day.—the lifeline that cuts through events to reveal the need for revolution and how to move now to hasten, and prepare for, that revolution.
2 Join the Revolution Club. Revolution requires organization: the Revolution Club is where you get organized to fight the power today to STOP the horrors of the system, and to transform the people, FOR REVOLUTION. Revolution requires a scientific approach: the Revolution Club is where you learn BA's new synthesis of communism, and how to apply it to solve the challenges we face.
The Revolution Club moves boldly and it moves wisely, up in the face of the enemy, projecting revolution into every corner of society.
All of this is part of going for a revolution that we, the RCP, have taken the responsibility to lead. There's a whole other way to live and fight and even die to change the world – a strategy to do that and a way, right now, to make that real.
Prepare the ground, prepare the people, and prepare the vanguard—get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.
Download PDF Flier, 11x17", 2-sided, designed to be folded in half with title on outside:
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The police oversight agency IPRA (Independent Review Board Authority) is urging the Chicago Police Department to implement a major reform policy. After months of protests and outrage over police murders and brutality, IPRA called on the CPD to stop allowing use of the n* word to refer to President Obama! And to take down racially derogatory drawings of Obama up on the wall in the same precinct. A whistleblower reported it. Ten or more cops denied they heard it. The new chief of police ignored it for more than a month.
What kind of police department needs a policy like this? One that cannot be fixed!
And what kind of system has police departments like this ALL OVER the society? One that cannot be fixed—and MUST BE OVERTHROWN!
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
The Stanford Rape Outrage
June 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bob Avakian, "A world of rape and sexual assault"
A clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, given in 2003 in the United States.
Learn more about Bob Avakian here
Bob Avakian has said that the frequency of rape in this society would be reason enough for revolution, even if all its other towering crimes and injustices did not exist. A deep look at the recent rape case at Stanford underlines that—and why a revolution is needed to solve it.
On January 18, 2015 a young woman’s life was shattered. Her evening began with a lighthearted family dinner and a last-minute decision to accompany her sister to a party, but it ended with her strapped to a gurney, with bruises and debris covering her body and the inside of her vagina. She had been viciously raped on the ground, behind a dumpster, outside a Stanford frat party, while she was unconscious.
Brock Turner, 20-year-old Stanford student, was charged. Turner’s lawyer dragged in all kinds of slanders and irrelevant accusations against the victim. He put her through hell on the witness stand. Blaming her for drinking, for being sexually active, for how she was dressed, and more. As if somehow that would excuse Turner’s violent violation of her.
Despite all this, the evidence was overwhelming and the jury convicted him on three felonies.
Then the judge stepped in. He said jail time would “have a severe impact” on the rapist. So, instead of potentially 14 years in prison, he gave Turner a mere six months in jail.
The message sent by the court is that rape is “not that serious.” This is outrageous and wrong.
But that is not all. This case is an X-ray of the whole culture of promoting and excusing violence and degradation against women. It is a concentration of the urgent need for the most radical and thoroughgoing revolution in the history of humanity.
In a display of tremendous courage, the young woman read a letter aloud to the court that detailed her experience. She brought alive how the damage inflicted by rape does not end when the physical act is over. It unfurls over a woman’s lifetime, radiates out to those around her, and hangs in the air as a violation against all women everywhere.
She explained: “I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.”
The trauma infiltrated every aspect of her life: “I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone. After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most.”
With piercing clarity, and without a hint of revenge, she demolished the excuses of her rapist and his defenders. No, alcohol is not an excuse for rape. No, sexual promiscuity (where someone willingly has sex with many people) has nothing to do with rape (where someone is forced to have sex against their will). No, it is not OK that she was asked irrelevant and re-traumatizing questions on the witness stand. She posed, “If a first time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be? The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.”
Her letter is 13 pages long and everyone should read it. In its entirety. Out loud. In classrooms. In church groups. In families. On sports teams. On air.
Her pain must be seen. Her battle against despair must be supported. Her courage must be multiplied.
Even after this harrowing letter, Judge Persky gave Brock a mere slap on the wrist. In effect, he signaled a green-light to rapists everywhere.
Outrageously, Persky is not an exception. Rather, he concentrates this society’s whole putrid rape culture. In the U.S., as in all “modern” capitalist states, rape is only “wink-wink illegal.” In other words, rape is formally against the law, but for all intents and purposes—especially for the powerful and their enforcers—rape is a protected activity.
Face it: Until outrage erupted over this case, Stanford had never expelled a single student for rape. Thousands and thousands of rape kits sit unprocessed for years in police precincts across the country. Less than two percent of rapes reported to police result in convictions and jail time. It was legal in all 50 states for a man to rape his wife until the 1970s. Only in 1993 did the last state make it illegal. In the U.S. military one in three women is raped or sexually assaulted, but if she reports her rape, she is 12 times more likely to be retaliated against than to ever see her rapist convicted.
Why? Because rape serves a major function under this system. It terrorizes all women, keeps them fearful and constantly reminded of “their place.” It is a violent means of enforcing the many twisted “perks” and privileges promised to men, to make them feel they have a stake at least in some part of this system. This is objectively true, even as some men themselves may not like—and even be sickened by—this particular form of oppression.
This violent terror and degradation of women is a cornerstone, a major glue, of every modern capitalist society—including the U.S. And right now, it is being rapidly and aggressively escalated. It’s fueled by men who are furious that women have entered campuses, corporate board rooms, and sports—arenas that used to be male-only bastions of unchallenged domination. It is also fueled by the simmering anger of other men who face growing economic insecurity and the breakdown of the traditional male-dominated family; men hungry to reassert their control and take out their rage against women.
It’s the mainstreaming of rape porn. It’s the music that derides women as “bitches” and “hos.” It’s the Bible scriptures that celebrate rape as a reward of war. It’s the “guy culture” promoted by coaches and gym teachers, in board rooms and military battalions. It is the way boys and men who don’t participate are bullied, called “fags,” and often sexually violated themselves. It is the culture of strip clubs and “escorts” that pervades Wall Street and Silicon Valley. It is the shaming and threats and virtual-mobs of men who hound women on social media. It’s the words of Brock’s father, dismissing his son’s act of rape as merely “20 minutes of action.”
Bob Avakian (BA), Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, once wrote, “Recently I heard a startling statistic: one out of every four women in the U.S. will be the victim of a sexual assault during her lifetime. One out of four!, and the number is expected to rise to one out of three. Right there, even if this ‘way of life’ did not produce any of the other seemingly endless outrages and genuinely monstrous crimes—all the way to world war—that it does produce, even if what stands behind the statistic were the only thing seriously wrong with this system, that alone would be enough to rise up against it and not stop until it had been overthrown and something better put in its place.”
It is essential that people fiercely resist this whole culture of rape and violence and degradation against women. What this young woman did in refusing to just take the howling injustice of the sentence, what two Swedish graduate students did by physically stopping this rape as it was underway—this is what many, many more people must do.
No more joking about, excusing, or belittling rape. No more shaming and blaming rape victims. No more asking, “What was she wearing?” or suggesting that “She asked for it.” No more getting off on porn that sexualizes women’s degradation and torture. No more treating women like punching bags, like sex objects, or like mere breeders of children.
The Revolution Clubs have it right: “We fight for a world where ALL the chains are broken. Women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades. We do not tolerate physically or verbally abusing women or treating them as sexual objects, nor do we tolerate insults or ‘jokes’ about people’s gender or sexual orientation.”
It’s time to start living this way now. And this must be linked to bringing about the kind of total revolution that can uproot and abolish rape once and for all. The system must be overthrown. It must be replaced with a radically new, revolutionary state power.
With revolution, the courts and media will no longer re-victimize women through victim-blaming questions about what they were wearing or their sexual history. Schools will teach equality, mutual respect, and consent in sexual relations. Sports will be radically re-ordered. Under socialism, it will be the norm—not a rare and refreshing exception spurred by mass outrage—for the media to give backing to voices like this young woman’s who speak out against rape. People will be encouraged to break out of the patriarchal family. And more.
All this will radically cut down the incidence of rape and the way in which this terror serves to damage and confine women. And the new society will foster in many more men the aspiration to be emancipators of ALL humanity, not petty tyrants over women.
But this is just the beginning. Bob Avakian has qualitatively advanced the understanding that unless and until all vestiges of male-domination and patriarchy have been completely wiped out, this oppression will become the basis for dragging all of society back to today’s ugly divisions into masters and slaves. So, the orientation of revolutionaries will be to continue to unleash the fury and impatience of women and others to put an end to all attitudes, family structures, notions of “manhood” and gender, and religious traditions that reinforce patriarchy and women’s oppression. To do this even—and in some ways, especially—when this is disruptive to society and its institutions.
This is not a dream. It is possible. But you are needed right now.
Through decades of work and struggle, Bob Avakian has developed the thoroughly scientific approach, the strategy, and the concrete vision for the new society. He has developed the most radical and liberating approach to women in human history: Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution. Plunge into this!
At the same time, BA is actively leading a movement for an actual revolution in the U.S., theoretically and practically. Spread this newspaper/website (revcom.us). Join with the Revolution Clubs. How many more women will be battered and violated, shattered and shamed before you throw in with everything you’ve got?
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
The Stanford Rape Case
June 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors Note: The following harrowing and courageous "victim impact" statement was read in court by the woman who was assaulted and raped by ex-Stanford student Brock Turner. It has been released widely and revcom.us is reposting it here. As Sunsara Taylor said in "The Stanford Rape Outrage: Reason Enough to Make Revolution": "Her letter is 13 pages long and everyone should read it. In its entirety. Out loud. In classrooms. In church groups. In families. On sports teams. On air. Her pain must be seen. Her battle against despair must be supported. Her courage must be multiplied."
Your Honor, if it is all right, for the majority of this statement I would like to address the defendant directly.
You don’t know me, but you’ve been inside me, and that’s why we’re here today.
On January 17th, 2015, it was a quiet Saturday night at home. My dad made some dinner and I sat at the table with my younger sister who was visiting for the weekend. I was working full time and it was approaching my bed time. I planned to stay at home by myself, watch some TV and read, while she went to a party with her friends.
Then, I decided it was my only night with her, I had nothing better to do, so why not, there’s a dumb party ten minutes from my house, I would go, dance like a fool, and embarrass my younger sister. On the way there, I joked that undergrad guys would have braces. My sister teased me for wearing a beige cardigan to a frat party like a librarian. I called myself “big mama”, because I knew I’d be the oldest one there. I made silly faces, let my guard down, and drank liquor too fast not factoring in that my tolerance had significantly lowered since college.
The next thing I remember I was in a gurney in a hallway. I had dried blood and bandages on the backs of my hands and elbow. I thought maybe I had fallen and was in an admin office on campus. I was very calm and wondering where my sister was. A deputy explained I had been assaulted. I still remained calm, assured he was speaking to the wrong person. I knew no one at this party.
When I was finally allowed to use the rest room, I pulled down the hospital pants they had given me, went to pull down my underwear, and felt nothing. I still remember the feeling of my hands touching my skin and grabbing nothing. I looked down and there was nothing. The thin piece of fabric, the only thing between my vagina and anything else, was missing and everything inside me was silenced. I still don’t have words for that feeling. In order to keep breathing, I thought maybe the policemen used scissors to cut them off for evidence.
Then, I felt pine needles scratching the back of my neck and started pulling them out my hair. I thought maybe, the pine needles had fallen from a tree onto my head. My brain was talking my gut into not collapsing. Because my gut was saying, help me, help me.
I shuffled from room to room with a blanket wrapped around me, pine needles trailing behind me, I left a little pile in every room I sat in. I was asked to sign papers that said “Rape Victim” and I thought something has really happened.
My clothes were confiscated and I stood naked while the nurses held a ruler to various abrasions on my body and photographed them. The three of us worked to comb the pine needles out of my hair, six hands to fill one paper bag. To calm me down, they said it’s just the flora and fauna, flora and fauna. I had multiple swabs inserted into my vagina and anus, needles for shots, pills, had a Nikon pointed right into my spread legs. I had long, pointed beaks inside me and had my vagina smeared with cold, blue paint to check for abrasions.
After a few hours of this, they let me shower. I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided, I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it, I didn’t know what had been in it, if it had been contaminated, who had touched it. I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else.
On that morning, all that I was told was that I had been found behind a dumpster, potentially penetrated by a stranger, and that I should get retested for HIV because results don’t always show up immediately. But for now, I should go home and get back to my normal life. Imagine stepping back into the world with only that information. They gave me huge hugs and I walked out of the hospital into the parking lot wearing the new sweatshirt and sweatpants they provided me, as they had only allowed me to keep my necklace and shoes.
My sister picked me up, face wet from tears and contorted in anguish. Instinctively and immediately, I wanted to take away her pain. I smiled at her, I told her to look at me, I’m right here, I’m okay, everything’s okay, I’m right here. My hair is washed and clean, they gave me the strangest shampoo, calm down, and look at me. Look at these funny new sweatpants and sweatshirt, I look like a P.E. teacher, let’s go home, let’s eat something. She did not know that beneath my sweatsuit, I had scratches and bandages on my skin, my vagina was sore and had become a strange, dark colour from all the prodding, my underwear was missing, and I felt too empty to continue to speak. That I was also afraid, that I was also devastated. That day we drove home and for hours in silence my younger sister held me.
My boyfriend did not know what happened, but called that day and said, “I was really worried about you last night, you scared me, did you make it home okay?” I was horrified. That’s when I learned I had called him that night in my blackout, left an incomprehensible voicemail, that we had also spoken on the phone, but I was slurring so heavily he was scared for me, that he repeatedly told me to go find [my sister]. Again, he asked me, “What happened last night? Did you make it home okay?” I said yes, and hung up to cry.
I was not ready to tell my boyfriend or parents that actually, I may have been raped behind a dumpster, but I don’t know by who or when or how. If I told them, I would see the fear on their faces, and mine would multiply by tenfold, so instead I pretended the whole thing wasn’t real.
I tried to push it out of my mind, but it was so heavy I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone.
After work, I would drive to a secluded place to scream. I didn’t talk, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t interact with anyone, and I became isolated from the ones I loved most. For over a week after the incident, I didn’t get any calls or updates about that night or what happened to me. The only symbol that proved that it hadn’t just been a bad dream, was the sweatshirt from the hospital in my drawer.
One day, I was at work, scrolling through the news on my phone, and came across an article. In it, I read and learned for the first time about how I was found unconscious, with my hair dishevelled, long necklace wrapped around my neck, bra pulled out of my dress, dress pulled off over my shoulders and pulled up above my waist, that I was butt naked all the way down to my boots, legs spread apart, and had been penetrated by a foreign object by someone I did not recognise.
This was how I learned what happened to me, sitting at my desk reading the news at work. I learned what happened to me the same time everyone else in the world learned what happened to me. That’s when the pine needles in my hair made sense, they didn’t fall from a tree. He had taken off my underwear, his fingers had been inside of me. I don’t even know this person. I still don’t know this person. When I read about me like this, I said, this can’t be me, this can’t be me. I could not digest or accept any of this information. I could not imagine my family having to read about this online. I kept reading. In the next paragraph, I read something that I will never forgive; I read that according to him, I liked it. I liked it. Again, I do not have words for these feelings.
It’s like if you were to read an article where a car was hit, and found dented, in a ditch. But maybe the car enjoyed being hit. Maybe the other car didn’t mean to hit it, just bump it up a little bit. Cars get in accidents all the time, people aren’t always paying attention, can we really say who’s at fault.
And then, at the bottom of the article, after I learned about the graphic details of my own sexual assault, the article listed his swimming times. She was found breathing, unresponsive with her underwear six inches away from her bare stomach curled in fetal position. By the way, he’s really good at swimming. Throw in my mile time if that’s what we’re doing. I’m good at cooking, put that in there, I think the end is where you list your extracurriculars to cancel out all the sickening things that’ve happened.
The night the news came out I sat my parents down and told them that I had been assaulted, to not look at the news because it’s upsetting, just know that I’m okay, I’m right here, and I’m okay. But halfway through telling them, my mom had to hold me because I could no longer stand up.
The night after it happened, he said he didn’t know my name, said he wouldn’t be able to identify my face in a line-up, didn’t mention any dialogue between us, no words, only dancing and kissing. Dancing is a cute term; was it snapping fingers and twirling dancing, or just bodies grinding up against each other in a crowded room? I wonder if kissing was just faces sloppily pressed up against each other? When the detective asked if he had planned on taking me back to his dorm, he said no. When the detective asked how we ended up behind the dumpster, he said he didn’t know.
He admitted to kissing other girls at that party, one of whom was my own sister who pushed him away. He admitted to wanting to hook up with someone. I was the wounded antelope of the herd, completely alone and vulnerable, physically unable to fend for myself, and he chose me. Sometimes I think, if I hadn’t gone, then this never would’ve happened. But then I realized, it would have happened, just to somebody else. You were about to enter four years of access to drunk girls and parties, and if this is the foot you started off on, then it is right you did not continue. The night after it happened, he said he thought I liked it because I rubbed his back. A back rub.
Never mentioned me voicing consent, never mentioned us even speaking, a back rub. One more time, in public news, I learned that my ass and vagina were completely exposed outside, my breasts had been groped, fingers had been jabbed inside me along with pine needles and debris, my bare skin and head had been rubbing against the ground behind a dumpster, while an erect freshman was humping my half naked, unconscious body. But I don’t remember, so how do I prove I didn’t like it.
I thought there’s no way this is going to trial; there were witnesses, there was dirt in my body, he ran but was caught. He’s going to settle, formally apologize, and we will both move on. Instead, I was told he hired a powerful lawyer, expert witnesses, private investigators who were going to try and find details about my personal life to use against me, find loopholes in my story to invalidate me and my sister, in order to show that this sexual assault was in fact a misunderstanding. That he was going to go to any length to convince the world he had simply been confused.
I was not only told that I was assaulted, I was told that because I couldn’t remember, I technically could not prove it was unwanted. And that distorted me, damaged me, almost broke me. It is the saddest type of confusion to be told I was assaulted and nearly raped, blatantly out in the open, but we don’t know if it counts as assault yet. I had to fight for an entire year to make it clear that there was something wrong with this situation.
When I was told to be prepared in case we didn’t win, I said, I can’t prepare for that. He was guilty the minute I woke up. No one can talk me out of the hurt he caused me. Worst of all, I was warned, because he now knows you don’t remember, he is going to get to write the script. He can say whatever he wants and no one can contest it. I had no power, I had no voice, I was defenseless. My memory loss would be used against me. My testimony was weak, was incomplete, and I was made to believe that perhaps, I am not enough to win this. His lawyer constantly reminded the jury, the only one we can believe is Brock, because she doesn’t remember. That helplessness was traumatizing.
Instead of taking time to heal, I was taking time to recall the night in excruciating detail, in order to prepare for the attorney’s questions that would be invasive, aggressive, and designed to steer me off course, to contradict myself, my sister, phrased in ways to manipulate my answers. Instead of his lawyer saying, Did you notice any abrasions? He said, You didn’t notice any abrasions, right?
This was a game of strategy, as if I could be tricked out of my own worth. The sexual assault had been so clear, but instead, here I was at the trial, answering questions like:
How old are you? How much do you weigh? What did you eat that day? Well what did you have for dinner? Who made dinner? Did you drink with dinner? No, not even water? When did you drink? How much did you drink? What container did you drink out of? Who gave you the drink? How much do you usually drink? Who dropped you off at this party? At what time? But where exactly? What were you wearing? Why were you going to this party? What’d you do when you got there? Are you sure you did that? But what time did you do that? What does this text mean? Who were you texting? When did you urinate? Where did you urinate? With whom did you urinate outside?
Was your phone on silent when your sister called? Do you remember silencing it? Really because on page 53 I’d like to point out that you said it was set to ring. Did you drink in college? You said you were a party animal? How many times did you black out? Did you party at frats? Are you serious with your boyfriend? Are you sexually active with him? When did you start dating? Would you ever cheat? Do you have a history of cheating? What do you mean when you said you wanted to reward him? Do you remember what time you woke up? Were you wearing your cardigan? What colour was your cardigan? Do you remember any more from that night? No? Okay, well, we’ll let Brock fill it in.
I was pommeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now.
And then it came time for him to testify and I learned what it meant to be revictimized. I want to remind you, the night after it happened he said he never planned to take me back to his dorm. He said he didn’t know why we were behind a dumpster. He got up to leave because he wasn’t feeling well when he was suddenly chased and attacked. Then he learned I could not remember.
So one year later, as predicted, a new dialogue emerged. Brock had a strange new story, almost sounded like a poorly written young adult novel with kissing and dancing and hand holding and lovingly tumbling onto the ground, and most importantly in this new story, there was suddenly consent. One year after the incident, he remembered, oh yeah, by the way she actually said yes, to everything, so.
He said he had asked if I wanted to dance. Apparently I said yes. He’d asked if I wanted to go to his dorm, I said yes. Then he asked if he could finger me and I said yes. Most guys don’t ask, can I finger you? Usually there’s a natural progression of things, unfolding consensually, not a Q and A. But apparently I granted full permission. He’s in the clear. Even in his story, I only said a total of three words, yes yes yes, before he had me half naked on the ground. Future reference, if you are confused about whether a girl can consent, see if she can speak an entire sentence. You couldn’t even do that. Just one coherent string of words. Where was the confusion? This is common sense, human decency.
According to him, the only reason we were on the ground was because I fell down. Note; if a girl falls down help her get back up. If she is too drunk to even walk and falls down, do not mount her, hump her, take off her underwear, and insert your hand inside her vagina. If a girl falls down help her up. If she is wearing a cardigan over her dress don’t take it off so that you can touch her breasts. Maybe she is cold, maybe that’s why she wore the cardigan.
Next in the story, two Swedes on bicycles approached you and you ran. When they tackled you why didn’t say, “Stop! Everything’s okay, go ask her, she’s right over there, she’ll tell you.” I mean you had just asked for my consent, right? I was awake, right? When the policeman arrived and interviewed the evil Swede who tackled you, he was crying so hard he couldn’t speak because of what he’d seen.
Your lawyer has repeatedly pointed out, well we don’t know exactly when she became unconscious. And you’re right, maybe I was still fluttering my eyes and wasn’t completely limp yet. That was never the point. I was too drunk to speak English, too drunk to consent way before I was on the ground. I should have never been touched in the first place.
Brock stated, “At no time did I see that she was not responding. If at any time I thought she was not responding, I would have stopped immediately.” Here’s the thing; if your plan was to stop only when I became unresponsive, then you still do not understand. You didn’t even stop when I was unconscious anyway! Someone else stopped you. Two guys on bikes noticed I wasn’t moving in the dark and had to tackle you. How did you not notice while on top of me?
You said, you would have stopped and gotten help. You say that, but I want you to explain how you would’ve helped me, step by step, walk me through this. I want to know, if those evil Swedes had not found me, how the night would have played out.
I am asking you; Would you have pulled my underwear back on over my boots? Untangled the necklace wrapped around my neck? Closed my legs, covered me? Pick the pine needles from my hair? Asked if the abrasions on my neck and bottom hurt? Would you then go find a friend and say, Will you help me get her somewhere warm and soft? I don’t sleep when I think about the way it could have gone if the two guys had never come. What would have happened to me? That’s what you’ll never have a good answer for, that’s what you can’t explain even after a year.
On top of all this, he claimed that I orgasmed after one minute of digital penetration. The nurse said there had been abrasions, lacerations, and dirt in my genitalia. Was that before or after I came?
To sit under oath and inform all of us, that yes I wanted it, yes I permitted it, and that you are the true victim attacked by Swedes for reasons unknown to you is appalling, is demented, is selfish, is damaging. It is enough to be suffering. It is another thing to have someone ruthlessly working to diminish the gravity of validity of this suffering.
My family had to see pictures of my head strapped to a gurney full of pine needles, of my body in the dirt with my eyes closed, hair messed up, limbs bent, and dress hiked up. And even after that, my family had to listen to your lawyer say the pictures were after the fact, we can dismiss them. To say, yes her nurse confirmed there was redness and abrasions inside her, significant trauma to her genitalia, but that’s what happens when you finger someone, and he’s already admitted to that.
To listen to your lawyer attempt to paint a picture of me, the face of girls gone wild, as if somehow that would make it so that I had this coming for me. To listen to him say I sounded drunk on the phone because I’m silly and that’s my goofy way of speaking. To point out that in the voicemail, I said I would reward my boyfriend and we all know what I was thinking. I assure you my rewards program is non transferable, especially to any nameless man that approaches me.
He has done irreversible damage to me and my family during the trial and we have sat silently, listening to him shape the evening. But in the end, his unsupported statements and his attorney’s twisted logic fooled no one. The truth won, the truth spoke for itself.
You are guilty. Twelve jurors convicted you guilty of three felony counts beyond reasonable doubt, that’s twelve votes per count, thirty six yeses confirming guilt, that’s one hundred percent, unanimous guilt. And I thought finally it is over, finally he will own up to what he did, truly apologise, we will both move on and get better. Then I read your statement.
If you are hoping that one of my organs will implode from anger and I will die, I’m almost there. You are very close. This is not a story of another drunk college hook-up with poor decision making. Assault is not an accident. Somehow, you still don’t get it. Somehow, you still sound confused. I will now read portions of the defendant’s statement and respond to them.
You said, Being drunk I just couldn’t make the best decisions and neither could she.
Alcohol is not an excuse. Is it a factor? Yes. But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked. Having too much to drink was an amateur mistake that I admit to, but it is not criminal.
Everyone in this room has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much, or knows someone close to them who has had a night where they have regretted drinking too much. Regretting drinking is not the same as regretting sexual assault. We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That’s the difference.
You said, If I wanted to get to know her, I should have asked for her number, rather than asking her to go back to my room.
I’m not mad because you didn’t ask for my number. Even if you did know me, I would not want to be in this situation. My own boyfriend knows me, but if he asked to finger me behind a dumpster, I would slap him. No girl wants to be in this situation. Nobody. I don’t care if you know their phone number or not.
You said, I stupidly thought it was okay for me to do what everyone around me was doing, which was drinking. I was wrong.
Again, you were not wrong for drinking. Everyone around you was not sexually assaulting me. You were wrong for doing what nobody else was doing, which was pushing your erect dick in your pants against my naked, defenceless body concealed in a dark area, where partygoers could no longer see or protect me, and my own sister could not find me. Sipping fireball is not your crime. Peeling off and discarding my underwear like a candy wrapper to insert your finger into my body, is where you went wrong. Why am I still explaining this.
You said, During the trial I didn’t want to victimize her at all. That was just my lawyer and his way of approaching the case.
Your lawyer is not your scapegoat, he represents you. Did your lawyer say some incredulously infuriating, degrading things? Absolutely. He said you had an erection, because it was cold.
You said, you are in the process of establishing a program for high school and college students in which you speak about your experience to “speak out against the college campus drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that.”
Campus drinking culture. That’s what we’re speaking out against? You think that’s what I’ve spent the past year fighting for? Not awareness about campus sexual assault, or rape, or learning to recognise consent. Campus drinking culture. Down with Jack Daniels. Down with Skyy Vodka. If you want talk to people about drinking go to an AA meeting. You realize, having a drinking problem is different than drinking and then forcefully trying to have sex with someone? Show men how to respect women, not how to drink less.
Drinking culture and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Goes along with that, like a side effect, like fries on the side of your order. Where does promiscuity even come into play? I don’t see headlines that read, Brock Turner, Guilty of drinking too much and the sexual promiscuity that goes along with that. Campus Sexual Assault. There’s your first power point slide. Rest assured, if you fail to fix the topic of your talk, I will follow you to every school you go to and give a follow up presentation.
Lastly you said, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin a life.
A life, one life, yours, you forgot about mine. Let me rephrase for you, I want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives. You and me. You are the cause, I am the effect. You have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. You knocked down both our towers, I collapsed at the same time you did. If you think I was spared, came out unscathed, that today I ride off into sunset, while you suffer the greatest blow, you are mistaken.
Nobody wins. We have all been devastated, we have all been trying to find some meaning in all of this suffering. Your damage was concrete; stripped of titles, degrees, enrolment. My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.
See one thing we have in common is that we were both unable to get up in the morning. I am no stranger to suffering. You made me a victim. In newspapers my name was “unconscious intoxicated woman”, ten syllables, and nothing more than that. For a while, I believed that that was all I was. I had to force myself to relearn my real name, my identity. To relearn that this is not all that I am. That I am not just a drunk victim at a frat party found behind a dumpster, while you are the All American swimmer at a top university, innocent until proven guilty, with so much at stake. I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt, my life was put on hold for over a year, waiting to figure out if I was worth something.
My independence, natural joy, gentleness, and steady lifestyle I had been enjoying became distorted beyond recognition. I became closed off, angry, self deprecating, tired, irritable, empty. The isolation at times was unbearable. You cannot give me back the life I had before that night either. While you worry about your shattered reputation, I refrigerated spoons every night so when I woke up, and my eyes were puffy from crying, I would hold the spoons to my eyes to lessen the swelling so that I could see. I showed up an hour late to work every morning, excused myself to cry in the stairwells, I can tell you all the best places in that building to cry where no one can hear you.
The pain became so bad that I had to explain the private details to my boss to let her know why I was leaving. I needed time because continuing day to day was not possible. I used my savings to go as far away as I could possibly be. I did not return to work full time as I knew I’d have to take weeks off in the future for the hearing and trial, that were constantly being rescheduled. My life was put on hold for over a year, my structure had collapsed.
I can’t sleep alone at night without having a light on, like a five year old, because I have nightmares of being touched where I cannot wake up, I did this thing where I waited until the sun came up and I felt safe enough to sleep. For three months, I went to bed at six o’clock in the morning.
I used to pride myself on my independence, now I am afraid to go on walks in the evening, to attend social events with drinking among friends where I should be comfortable being. I have become a little barnacle always needing to be at someone’s side, to have my boyfriend standing next to me, sleeping beside me, protecting me. It is embarrassing how feeble I feel, how timidly I move through life, always guarded, ready to defend myself, ready to be angry.
You have no idea how hard I have worked to rebuild parts of me that are still weak. It took me eight months to even talk about what happened. I could no longer connect with friends, with everyone around me. I would scream at my boyfriend, my own family whenever they brought this up. You never let me forget what happened to me. At the of end of the hearing, the trial, I was too tired to speak. I would leave drained, silent. I would go home turn off my phone and for days I would not speak.
You bought me a ticket to a planet where I lived by myself. Every time a new article come out, I lived with the paranoia that my entire hometown would find out and know me as the girl who got assaulted. I didn’t want anyone’s pity and am still learning to accept victim as part of my identity. You made my own hometown an uncomfortable place to be.
You cannot give me back my sleepless nights. The way I have broken down sobbing uncontrollably if I’m watching a movie and a woman is harmed, to say it lightly, this experience has expanded my empathy for other victims. I have lost weight from stress, when people would comment I told them I’ve been running a lot lately. There are times I did not want to be touched. I have to relearn that I am not fragile, I am capable, I am wholesome, not just livid and weak.
When I see my younger sister hurting, when she is unable to keep up in school, when she is deprived of joy, when she is not sleeping, when she is crying so hard on the phone she is barely breathing, telling me over and over again she is sorry for leaving me alone that night, sorry sorry sorry, when she feels more guilt than you, then I do not forgive you. That night I had called her to try and find her, but you found me first. Your attorney’s closing statement began, “[Her sister] said she was fine and who knows her better than her sister.” You tried to use my own sister against me? Your points of attack were so weak, so low, it was almost embarrassing. You do not touch her.
You should have never done this to me. Secondly, you should have never made me fight so long to tell you, you should have never done this to me. But here we are. The damage is done, no one can undo it. And now we both have a choice. We can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on.
Your life is not over, you have decades of years ahead to rewrite your story. The world is huge, it is so much bigger than Palo Alto and Stanford, and you will make a space for yourself in it where you can be useful and happy. But right now, you do not get to shrug your shoulders and be confused anymore. You do not get to pretend that there were no red flags. You have been convicted of violating me, intentionally, forcibly, sexually, with malicious intent, and all you can admit to is consuming alcohol. Do not talk about the sad way your life was upturned because alcohol made you do bad things. Figure out how to take responsibility for your own conduct.
Now to address the sentencing. When I read the probation officer’s report, I was in disbelief, consumed by anger which eventually quieted down to profound sadness. My statements have been slimmed down to distortion and taken out of context. I fought hard during this trial and will not have the outcome minimized by a probation officer who attempted to evaluate my current state and my wishes in a fifteen minute conversation, the majority of which was spent answering questions I had about the legal system. The context is also important. Brock had yet to issue a statement, and I had not read his remarks.
My life has been on hold for over a year, a year of anger, anguish and uncertainty, until a jury of my peers rendered a judgment that validated the injustices I had endured. Had Brock admitted guilt and remorse and offered to settle early on, I would have considered a lighter sentence, respecting his honesty, grateful to be able to move our lives forward. Instead he took the risk of going to trial, added insult to injury and forced me to relive the hurt as details about my personal life and sexual assault were brutally dissected before the public.
He pushed me and my family through a year of inexplicable, unnecessary suffering, and should face the consequences of challenging his crime, of putting my pain into question, of making us wait so long for justice.
I told the probation officer I do not want Brock to rot away in prison. I did not say he does not deserve to be behind bars. The probation officer’s recommendation of a year or less in county jail is a soft time-out, a mockery of the seriousness of his assaults, an insult to me and all women. It gives the message that a stranger can be inside you without proper consent and he will receive less than what has been defined as the minimum sentence. Probation should be denied. I also told the probation officer that what I truly wanted was for Brock to get it, to understand and admit to his wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, after reading the defendant’s report, I am severely disappointed and feel that he has failed to exhibit sincere remorse or responsibility for his conduct. I fully respected his right to a trial, but even after twelve jurors unanimously convicted him guilty of three felonies, all he has admitted to doing is ingesting alcohol. Someone who cannot take full accountability for his actions does not deserve a mitigating sentence. It is deeply offensive that he would try and dilute rape with a suggestion of “promiscuity”. By definition rape is not the absence of promiscuity, rape is the absence of consent, and it perturbs me deeply that he can’t even see that distinction.
The probation officer factored in that the defendant is youthful and has no prior convictions. In my opinion, he is old enough to know what he did was wrong. When you are eighteen in this country you can go to war. When you are nineteen, you are old enough to pay the consequences for attempting to rape someone. He is young, but he is old enough to know better.
As this is a first offence I can see where leniency would beckon. On the other hand, as a society, we cannot forgive everyone’s first sexual assault or digital rape. It doesn’t make sense. The seriousness of rape has to be communicated clearly, we should not create a culture that suggests we learn that rape is wrong through trial and error. The consequences of sexual assault needs to be severe enough that people feel enough fear to exercise good judgment even if they are drunk, severe enough to be preventative.
The probation officer weighed the fact that he has surrendered a hard earned swimming scholarship. How fast Brock swims does not lessen the severity of what happened to me, and should not lessen the severity of his punishment. If a first-time offender from an underprivileged background was accused of three felonies and displayed no accountability for his actions other than drinking, what would his sentence be?
The fact that Brock was an athlete at a private university should not be seen as an entitlement to leniency, but as an opportunity to send a message that sexual assault is against the law regardless of social class.
The Probation Officer has stated that this case, when compared to other crimes of similar nature, may be considered less serious due to the defendant’s level of intoxication. It felt serious. That’s all I’m going to say.
What has he done to demonstrate that he deserves a break? He has only apologised for drinking and has yet to define what he did to me as sexual assault, he has revictimized me continually, relentlessly. He has been found guilty of three serious felonies and it is time for him to accept the consequences of his actions. He will not be quietly excused.
He is a lifetime sex registrant. That doesn’t expire. Just like what he did to me doesn’t expire, doesn’t just go away after a set number of years. It stays with me, it’s part of my identity, it has forever changed the way I carry myself, the way I live the rest of my life.
To conclude, I want to say thank you. To everyone from the intern who made me oatmeal when I woke up at the hospital that morning, to the deputy who waited beside me, to the nurses who calmed me, to the detective who listened to me and never judged me, to my advocates who stood unwaveringly beside me, to my therapist who taught me to find courage in vulnerability, to my boss for being kind and understanding, to my incredible parents who teach me how to turn pain into strength, to my grandma who snuck chocolate into the courtroom throughout this to give to me, my friends who remind me how to be happy, to my boyfriend who is patient and loving, to my unconquerable sister who is the other half of my heart, to Alaleh, my idol, who fought tirelessly and never doubted me.
Thank you to everyone involved in the trial for their time and attention. Thank you to girls across the nation that wrote cards to my DA to give to me, so many strangers who cared for me.
Most importantly, thank you to the two men who saved me, who I have yet to meet. I sleep with two bicycles that I drew taped above my bed to remind myself there are heroes in this story. That we are looking out for one another. To have known all of these people, to have felt their protection and love, is something I will never forget.
And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”
Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
A World to Win News Service
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
June 13, 2016. A World to Win News Service. “We all need to calm down here,” UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage lectured a young woman student who called him out for his claim that Britain is threatened with rape on a massive scale if immigration is not cut off.
Repeatedly before this Buzzfeed/Facebook Live debate, he called the New Year’s Eve assaults on women at the main Cologne train station a “nuclear bomb” that would engulf the UK if its government did not leave the European Union and abandon policies that allow any EU citizen to travel freely within the union, including people born outside of Europe. “Frankly if we are prepared to accept, or if Germany and Sweden are prepared to accept, unlimited numbers of young males, from countries and cultures where women are at best second-class citizens then frankly, what do you expect?”
The student, an audience member, knocked Farage back, for a moment. She calmly but very firmly told him, “You say that like England isn’t already in the top five for rape statistics in the world without those migrants coming in. You can’t blame it on the migrants when people get sexually harassed every single day in the streets. If you ask every single woman here she could tell you about a hundred incidents.”
The truth of her argument is backed up by statistics gathered by the UK government itself. Most (90 percent) of sexual assaults and rapes are committed by men the woman has known, “often by someone the survivor has trusted or even loved... friends, colleagues, clients, neighbors, family members, partners or exes.” (rapecrisis.org, figures for England and Wales)
When women in England and Wales responded to a survey conducted for the Home Office in 2013, 85,000 women said they had been raped and more than 400,000 reported being “victims of a sexual offence” on average every year for the previous three years. One in five women from the ages of 16 to 59 reported having experienced such crimes during her lifetime.
Farage claims rape is due to “some very big cultural issues”, and that is largely true, although it is not due to other people’s culture. Clearly rape is part of British culture, and increasingly so. (See The Independent, June 10, 2016—“22 signs we live in a rape culture”.) UK Home Office statistics show that rape and other violent sexual assaults rose sharply since the previous survey. But the authorities do not play a neutral role in relation to this culture. The survey concludes that the percentage of reported sexual offences the police referred for prosecution was lower than any time since the government first began collecting such figures. And of the reduced number of reported cases, only 6 percent of these resulted in convictions.
In fact, as any real analysis reveals, immigrant girls, women and boys are the most likely to be victims of men of all ethnic backgrounds, while the police and other authorities routinely ignore these crimes against them and the poor in general, when not actively covering them up, persecuting victims for reporting them or committing rape and abuse themselves.
It should be pointed out that the UKIP’s rival “mainstream” parties, the Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron and the Labour Party now headed by Jeremy Corbyn, have not only governed over this situation but were deeply involved in covering up rape, child abuse and other horrendous acts by white gangs, Asian gangs, police officers, Catholic priests and other religious figures, top BBC entertainers and other powerful celebrities, Members of Parliament and cabinet ministers. (See AWTWNS150316) More and more women have been getting raped and the British state has been an enforcer of this situation no matter which party has been elected. Why would future elections produce different results?
The British ruling class may have divisions about whether or not the UK should leave the European Union, but its leading political representatives are much more united about escaping the exposure of horrors deeply embedded in the society and its most important institutions—such as the systematic degradation of women at the core of British life and culture—and instead counterattacking around one of its favorite issues, the promotion of British chauvinism.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
From A World to Win News Service
June 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
June 2, 2016. A World to Win News Service. A star athlete at Stanford University—one of the world’s most prestigious universities, often associated with the most advanced technology (the Silicon Valley) in the most “socially advanced” state (California) in a country that considers itself the world’s most advanced and “exceptional” nation—has been given a paltry penalty for rape, probably three months actual jail time. Rape and the threat of rape is universal to the condition of women as a subordinated sex on this planet, but what made this case unusual was not the location.
Download the PDF of this pamphlet: A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity
For once, there were witnesses, and they had difficult-to-disregard credibility. Brock Turner was caught in the act by two male students, who stopped him as he was thrusting his pelvis on a half-naked motionless body in the shadows outside a fraternity party. Secondly, the woman survived, had strong family and other support, even within the court system, and persisted in demanding justice. When her attacker refused to apologize, she went through with the trial knowing that she would be revictimised publicly in the courtroom, with the most intimate details of her life paraded before the media that labelled her an “unconscious intoxicated woman”, derided by the perpetrator’s lawyer and much of public opinion as the real guilty party for drinking while having a vagina. Thirdly, for once, her attacker was convicted of three felonies, carrying a potential 14-year sentence.
The victim’s searing account, read in court on the day of the sentencing, has since gone viral with 16 million hits on Buzzfeed alone (see full statement). It ends with an appeal to women who have been through the same trauma to stand strong and fight against the debasement that rape does to women. Acknowledging the worldwide support she has received, she says, “I remain anonymous, yes to protect my identity. But it is also as a statement, that all of these people are fighting for someone they don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to. I am coming out to you as a woman wanting to be heard. Yes there is plenty more I’d like to tell you about me. For now, I am every woman.”
This is far from the world’s first case where privileged males have demanded impunity (and been largely granted it) for acting out what they and official society see as their entitlement toward women. The “Los Porkeys” case in Vera Cruz, Mexico, where four young men abducted and raped a former schoolmate, has become notorious for the authorities’ reluctance to press charges despite a video confession by these sons of wealthy and politically powerful fathers. But what makes the Stanford case particularly shocking is that despite the conviction, the judge still decided, and argued blatantly in his public decision, that the perpetrator should not be given a punishment that would have “a severe impact” on his life. The impact on the woman’s life didn’t even enter into the equation.
The forms of the oppression of women may differ from country to country, but how different is the Stanford rape case, in essence, from the 2012 gang rape and fatal beating of a young student on a New Delhi bus, or the kidnapping of the Chibok girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria?
How different is the attitude of the rapist, who still insists that being drunk excuses his act? How different are the values upheld by his father, who in a letter to the court belittled the rape as “20 minutes of action” that should not lead to spoiling a son’s promising future for the sake of “political correctness” toward women? He must have fully expected that much of his society from top to bottom would find this argument convincing. How different is the action taken by the judge? Worst of all, he probably thought his decision would be uncontroversial.
What the U.S. justice system did in this case was simply to restate official approval for men’s sense of entitlement to subordinate and humiliate women physically and mentally that is part of the oppressive patriarchal culture rampant everywhere in a world dominated by an imperialist economic, political and social system and the values and culture that go along with the oppressive relations it is founded upon.
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
June 21, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Freddie Gray Trial update from Carl Dix in Baltimore:
The closing arguments in the trial of officer Caesar Goodson, the cop who gave the “rough ride” to Freddie Gray, amounted to more grease on the skids that would lead to letting this killer cop slide out of court free, or at most end up with a slap on the wrist for conviction on a minor charge. The prosecution never even said in its closing argument that Gray had been given a rough ride. Instead, they cited video of the police van making a “rolling stop” (one where the van never came to a complete stop before proceeding thru the stop sign) and a wide turn as evidence that Goodson intended to do Gray harm. When asked by the judge during their rebuttal what was their evidence of such an intent to cause harm, all the prosecutor could say was that “logical inferences” could be made from the sequence of events during the ride that Goodson “intended for it to have consequences.” These weaknesses in the closing arguments of the prosecution flow from the way they “forgot” how to prosecute in their conduct of the case, and from the way the cop who was initially the lead investigator sabotaged their case by testifying for the defense. (See "Authorities Greasing Skids to Let Killer Cop Walk in Baltimore! TAKE IT TO THE STREETS IF GOODSON WALKS OR GETS OFF WITH SLAP ON WRIST!")
For its part, the defense’s closing argument came down to oinking that Gray was responsible for putting himself at risk of serious injury because he refused to remain in the position he was placed in the van. In other words, Gray was supposed to lay still face down in the van with his arms shackled behind his back while the cops drove him around for 45 minutes. The defense also argued that the decision to not give Gray the medical care he requested was made together with the other officers, so Goodson wasn’t responsible for that. To them it is OK for these pigs to arrest Gray for nothing, beat and torture him, throw him into the police van bent up like a pretzel and crying in pain and give him a rough ride, but then to point the fingers at each other to dodge any responsibility for their murderous actions.
The back-and-forth during the closing argument was most intense when the judge questioned the prosecution over whether the failure to give Gray emergency medical care or fasten his seat belt when he was placed in the van was a criminal violation or a civil one. This case is supposed to be about police having murdered a Black man, yet the legal back-and-forth has descended to the level of whether one of the killer cops should get a conviction that would amount to a slap on the wrist or be subjected to a civil suit.
This amounts to the system declaring that its police can brutalize and murder Black people and get off without any punishment; that Black people have no rights that the police are bound to respect. When people rose up after the murder of Freddie Gray, the authorities indicted the cops in an attempt to cool out people’s spirit of resistance. Now they are conducting trials that are a mockery of justice, aiming to crush people’s sense that what they do can affect things. We must meet this with powerful resistance. When this verdict comes down on Thursday, June 23, we must mount powerful outpourings of protest, in Baltimore and all across the country. This will give heart to all those who hate the way police murder Black and Brown people again and again and the way the system exonerates them almost every damn time.
TAKE IT TO THE STREETS IF GOODSON WALKS OR GETS A SLAP ON THE WRIST!
IF YOU’RE IN BALTIMORE, BE AT THE COURTHOUSE AT CALVERT & LEXINGTON STREETS AT 10AM ON JUNE 23.
AND WHEREVER YOU ARE BE IN THE STREETS ON THURSDAY, JUNE 23!
JOIN US IN SAYING THAT POLICE GETTING AWAY WIITH MURDER MUST STOP!
Revolution #444 June 20, 2016
This Whole System Must Be Brought DOWN!!!
Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club
June 23, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
For the “crime” of making eye contact with a Baltimore cop and then moving off the scene, Freddie Gray was illegally arrested. By the time the pigs were done with him, they had cut his spine and put him on his death bed. And today the court set totally free the main accused cop.
This is the third pig that has walked! Does this system want us to believe that somehow Freddie Gray murdered himself!?!?!?
No! This must not go down. Not on top of the way this system has dealt with Black people for 400 years... not on top of the way this system sets loose its pigs like occupying armies in the Black and Latino communities... not on top of the way this system provides no future for the millions of Freddie Grays—no future beyond constant pig harassment, a life on the streets, and an early death. This system has absolutely no legitimacy. A system like this must be brought down, as soon as possible.
We need a real revolution and the Revolutionary Communist Party is, right now, preparing people for that. And as part of getting ready, the Party calls on people from all walks of life to say HELL NO, right in the streets, right now, in the most powerful possible way to the outrageous whitewash of the murder of Freddie Gray.