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Flag-burner Gregory Johnson: "Revelations show the state's charges from RNC protest are false and must be dropped immediately"
August 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Gregory “Joey” Johnson—whose successful battle in the Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson established that burning a U.S. flag in protest is protected speech—says allegations he assaulted two “news reporters” when he burned a flag outside the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 are false. Johnson said that Kimberly Barnett, the Acting Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Criminal Division, has no choice but to withdraw the charges of assault filed against him.
Joey Johnson with the support of the Revolution Club burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump’s nomination.
Johnson with the support of the Revolution Club burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump’s nomination. Cleveland police and other law enforcement agencies immediately assaulted the flag-burning, putting Johnson in a chokehold and then brutally arresting 16 others who were staging a peaceful protest.
Johnson stated that prosecutors are concocting a justification, after the fact, for the police assault against himself and other protesters during this flag-burning, because as established by Texas v. Johnson they could not be lawfully arrested or criminally charged for burning the flag.
The prosecution is claiming that Johnson assaulted two reporters who were allegedly burned by the flag embers. It has been confirmed from police reports, that these two “reporters” were not journalists at all, but Trump supporters who intended to prevent the flag burning because it was “un-American.”
In a video posted July 20, 2016 by Infowars, a website run by Alex Jones, the “reporters” brag about assaulting Johnson in a violent effort to stop him from burning the flag: “We ripped the guy’s [Gregory Johnson] shirt off and just punched him and kicked him man...we just did everything we could.”
All this shows that the charges against Johnson are without factual foundation. The charges stem from allegations by people who by their own admission set out to prevent what is supposed to be legally protected speech, which is an illegal act on their part. On top of which they brag about committing assault and battery on Johnson, another illegal act. Yet it is Johnson who is charged with assaulting these two!
Now, Johnson and the RNC16 (overwhelmingly Revolution Club members arrested at the flag burning) are facing serious charges. Johnson and his supporters are demanding that the charges against him and the RNC 16 be dismissed immediately.
Johnson’s arrest for another flag-burning protest, at the 1984 Republican National Convention, led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court Texas v. Johnson decision in 1989, when the Court ruled that burning the flag in protest constitutes speech protected by the First Amendment. It is well established legally that someone who disagrees with the content of such speech cannot lawfully prevent this speech.
Update: Grand Jury Indicts 2 of the RNC16—Totally Unacceptable!
August 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a Revolution Club member:
There is an outrageous development in the case of 16 people (overwhelmingly Revolution Club members) who were illegally arrested and hit with serious charges for peaceful protest in support of the burning of the American flag by Joey Johnson on July 20 outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. On August 4, two of the 16 (the RNC16) were indicted by a grand jury—and even more charges were added to the already flagrant repression against this action and the individuals involved.
Joey Johnson, with the support of the Revolution Club, burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump’s nomination.
Joey Johnson—whose Supreme Court case Texas vs Johnson established flag burning as protected speech—and the Revolution Club were making a statement to the world that American lives are NOT more important than other people’s lives, in condemnation of the crimes of this system against the people of the world and in overall defiance of U.S. imperialism. (See “Drop the Charges on Notorious Flag Burner Joey Johnson and the RNC16!” for more on this action and the charges against them.)
The powers that be apparently can’t pull together a grand jury worth shit when it comes to indicting murderous police officers, as we have seen too often in recent years. But when truth-tellers like Joey Johnson and the Revolution Club exposed the real history and current reality of this country (in the midst of the raw celebration of U.S. domination, white supremacy, and misogyny that was the RNC) and burned the symbol of empire—the powers threw the book at them. That is because their authority is ARBITRARY and ILLEGITIMATE. And that is what people everywhere should understand, and mobilize to fight and defeat.
The charges against one defendant now include two counts of felony “assaulting an officer” (aka being assaulted by an officer). Both defendants indicted by the grand jury had two misdemeanor charges added, including “resisting arrest” (aka being violently arrested by hordes of police—piles of them on each individual). This represents a serious escalation and shows the prosecutors’ intent to punish people for their powerful, peaceful political statement that day. All of the original charges, against Johnson and the rest of them, should have been dismissed on the spot. Instead, the courts are “upping the ante.”
ALL THIS MUST BE ACTIVELY OPPOSED! People everywhere who are concerned about justice need to take a stand NOW against this outrageous political repression. And all those who care about the people of the world, and about ending all the unnecessary oppression and exploitation worldwide, should learn more about the Revolution Club and the actual revolution that they are building for.
Sign your name to the call demanding ALL these bogus charges be dropped, donate what you can to help with legal fees, contribute your time and your ideas to spreading this story and gaining more support to defeat these charges. The next court hearing for these two defendants is August 18 in Cleveland. Anyone in the area should be there to show their support. Go to revbookscle.org for details about the court hearing.
Go to www.revcom.us to dig into what it will take to overthrow this system, and be part of getting humanity out from under the boot of this repressive, illegitimate, rotten system once and for all.
Drop the Charges Against Notorious Flag Burner Joey Johnson and the RNC16!
July 25, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Burning of the American Flag by Joey Johnson and the Revolution Club at the RNC in Cleveland
On Wednesday, July 20, in the face of the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes coming out of the Republican National Convention, and surrounded by scores of cops and a whole zoo’s worth of fascist lunatics, some of them openly brandishing weapons, something fresh and positive happened. Joey Johnson, backed up by members of the Revolution Club, set aflame the American flag.
The Revolution Club had announced earlier Joey’s intent to do this as the only fitting response to the madness going on inside the convention hall. In response, hundreds of cops and reactionaries gathered to stop it.
They did not succeed. Suddenly, the Revolution Club seemed to materialize out of nowhere, a large circle—a safe space—formed, and Joey got up in the middle to speak:
”1, 2, 3, 4—Slavery, Genocide, and War! 5, 6, 7, 8—America Was NEVER Great! We’re here today to stand with people of the world! We’re taking a stand against this imperialist Republican National Convention. Donald Trump is an open fascist. Hillary Clinton is a proven war criminal. We’re not following either one of their leaders. Donald Trump’s message of ‘America first’ is a fascist message of control over people of the world to wage unending war, to exploit people all over the planet. America No. 1? America first? It always has been first: at genocide, at slavery, at exploitation, of destruction of the environment, of torture, of coup d’etats, of invasions. We’re standing here with the people of the world today... Donald Trump says America first...”
Suddenly, the flag went up in flames.
Revolution Club at the RNC & DNC
Money for bail, legal and organizing support needed urgently.
And just as suddenly, a mob of police assaulted the protective perimeter of Revolution Club members, attempting to extinguish the flames with water and spraying chemical flame retardant in people’s eyes. Half a dozen of these pigs piled on top of Joey, and then brought him to the ground in a chokehold.
At least 17 people were arrested, including Johnson and 15 other members of the Revolution Club. They were charged with multiple misdemeanors and two with outrageous felonies. The pigs quickly called a press conference to claim that Joey had burned himself and they were trying to save him—a lie that has now been exposed, but formed the pretext for the whole attack.
If you can conceive of a world without America—without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world—then you've already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression—and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it—a world without division into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, outmoded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything less?
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:31
Even as this outrageous assault went on, Revolution Club members defiantly chanted “1, 2, 3, 4—Slavery, Genocide, and War! 5, 6, 7, 8—America Was NEVER Great!” and “What’s the problem? The whole damn system! What’s the solution? Revolution! Who’s our leader? Bob Avakian!” People held up posters—”Overthrow, Don’t Vote For, This System!” and images of Bob Avakian. After their comrades had been seized, the remaining members of the Revolution Club and others regrouped and continued to march, agitating about the need for revolution.
The police then proceeded to hold 15 of the comrades for more than the legally allowable 24 hours until late the next day, claiming all sorts of excuses, and kept two more until the day after. Note that the Cleveland pigs had claimed the ability to handle thousands of arrests a day, and had tons of personnel there doing nothing until 11 pm that night, and even promised the National Lawyers Guild that they would release people by 1 pm the next day—and then continued to do nothing and held them till that evening! Further, the authorities put people in solitary for singing, withheld medicines from people, and did not feed one woman the whole time she was in there. The outrageous and openly repressive character of this was described in an article in The Nation (see “Why Are People Arrested at the RNC Still in Jail?“). Despite this and through all this, spirits were high, with people continuing to chant and sing almost the entire time, and then they marched out with heads high into the night when they were finally released. When Revolution Club members rallied Friday in the projects, people had heard all about it and were highly supportive.
Joey Johnson (wearing torn shirt), Revolution Club members, and other flag-burning defendants, just released from jail, rallied in front of the Justice Center, with supporters and Revcoms, who had marched from Public Square chanting "burn that flag!" Photo: Special to revcom.us
This fight is far from over. The defendants have vowed to fight the charges, and a great deal is at stake.
First, burning the flag at the Republican National Convention was extremely timely and necessary. The speeches and chants at this convention, reaching a peak with Trump’s speech on Thursday night, were nothing if not Hitlerian. Yet here he is, treated by the media and by the Democrats themselves, as a legitimate candidate. To treat Trump as legitimate, to give him billions of dollars’ worth of free publicity and allow him to set the terms of debate, means that this system itself is ILlegitimate. Yet where were the political forces ready to say how extreme this was and put something on the line to sound the alarm? The Revolution Club stepped up to fill this need.
Second, the assault on and arrest of Joey Johnson and the Revolution Club members, as well as a bystander, were themselves evidence of the repression that is here and bound to intensify if it is not resisted. The right to burn a flag in protest is a right ironically won by Johnson himself, from a conviction and one-year sentence stemming from the 1984 Republican National Convention. Well, if you can’t burn the flag in protest at THIS Republican convention, and in a setting where the locked arms of supporters gathered around prevented any possible accident, then this right is meaningless. And if in suppressing this right, as the police did, brutality is used and people are denied rights and put in preventive detention until nearly the end of the convention, this is all the more outrageous. These injustices and this repression have to be brought to light, fought, and defeated.
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.
Third, and ultimately most important, Joey and the Revolution Club were there in Cleveland fighting for a whole different future. Everywhere they went, they distributed the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP, USA, “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution,” clearly posing the need for revolution; the problems humanity faces and the solution to those problems; the leadership for that revolution in Bob Avakian; and what people need to do now to make that happen. Everywhere they went—including in the Public Square of Cleveland that Wednesday—they modeled a conscious and disciplined force, a force made courageous by their understanding of what was needed and the morality that grounds the Club (which is also put forth in the RCP Central Committee Message they distributed). Everywhere they went, they put forward the stand: America Was NEVER Great, We Need to Overthrow This System. Everywhere they went—including last Wednesday as the flag went up in flames—they fought for the stand put forth by BA: “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives.”
These revolutionaries must be defended. We’ll be covering this fight and giving readers ways to support this. (To contribute urgently needed funds for the bail and legal expenses for Joey and the Cleveland 17 and to support the work of the Revolution Club at the Republican National Convention and at the Democratic National Convention protests this week, click here.)
DROP THE CHARGES AGAINST JOEY JOHNSON AND THERNC16!
To the Greens: Elections Under This System Will NEVER Transform Shit
We Need to OVERTHROW This System, Not Vote For It
We Need an ACTUAL REVOLUTION!
Updated August 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Green Party platform promises to end poverty, cut the U.S. military budget in half, protect the environment, provide free access to education and health care to people in the U.S., demilitarize the police, end racism, and more. When everyone who is horrified by Trump's fascist madness is being told the only "alternative" is Hillary Clinton, the Green's candidate for president, Jill Stein, says, "Hillary Clinton has a very clear, lifelong—practically lifelong track record for locking up African Americans, for deporting immigrants, for serving the interests of Wall Street, being funded by Wall Street and the war profiteers. So, let's not pretend for a minute that Hillary Clinton's track record offers us any hope."
It's easy to understand why this has appeal. It is, indeed, completely unnecessary and intolerable for a tiny handful of capitalists to control the wealth produced by billions around the world in conditions of enforced suffering and brutality, for police to continue gunning down Blacks and Latinos, for the U.S. military to invade and plunder the world, and for the environment to every day be pushed closer to total catastrophe. And it is true that Hillary Clinton is part of the problem and there is no basis to place hope in her candidacy.
But the notion that these outrages can be ended by "voting Green" is a harmful delusion.
What Is the Problem?
Let's start with something very basic: The problem is NOT just the corporations or a "rigged" electoral system. The problem is that a capitalist-imperialist class rules and enforces the system of capitalism-imperialism on this society and the world.
Further, elections under this system are not part of a classless democracy, they are part of a bourgeois, or capitalist, democracy—that is to say, fundamentally a dictatorship within which people are allowed some forms of participation, so long as they do not directly threaten capitalist rule. And they've proven this to be a dictatorship time and again.
You see, the people who really run this country have a tremendous amount of military power in their hands and any movement that actually threatens their ability to plunder the planet has immediately been dealt with by that armed force. This has not just been true throughout the history of this and every other capitalist country; there are many examples from just the past few years. Think of the tanks and tear gas and military weapons unleashed upon protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, after police murdered unarmed Michael Brown. Think of the coordinated violent police raids and mass arrests inflicted on the Occupy movement in cities across the country over a four-day period in November 2011. Think of the brutal mass arrest of revolutionaries just two weeks ago at Trump's RNC in Cleveland for burning the American flag—what is supposed to be a "constitutionally protected right" of free speech.
Any political program that doesn't seriously deal with that is like setting an unsuspecting person up on a date with a serial killer.
We need to OVERTHROW, not vote for, this system.
There is in fact a program and a strategy to do just that, based on a scientific analysis of society. There is leadership developing this, and an organized force working to make it real. And we're gonna get into that.
But first, let's look closer at the Green Party platform on its own terms.
The Green Platform: ADeadly Delusion
A Lesson from Greece on Why This Won't Work—And Why Revolution and Nothing Less Is Needed
The entire financial base in the U.S. has grown so wealthy BECAUSE of the vast network of international exploitation. Without that, the U.S. economy would disintegrate and there would be no capital to build or employ anyone.
There are rules that define how an economy operates in any social system. And if these rules—in the case of capitalism, an economy defined and driven by insatiable, competitive drive for profit—were thrown out of whack in the way the Greens propose, then one way or another, institutions of the capitalist class would step in through the courts, the media, and their machinery of violent repression to "restore order"—to bring the laws and public policy back in sync with the nature of the economic system. The rulers of the U.S. have done this over and over around the world when regimes attempt to implement reforms that the rulers of the U.S. find intolerable. And they would definitely do that in their own home base—the U.S.
There is a lesson in how this plays out in the real world from Greece. In 2015, the SYRIZA party candidate was elected prime minister of that country. SYRIZA promised major reforms to alleviate massive unemployment, the collapse of social services, and poverty (as well as other major changes in Greek law). But major international capitalist institutions (mainly German) threatened to strangle the Greek economy if those reforms were implemented. And so, whatever their intentions, the SYRIZA leadership signed on to renewing "austerity" measures that intensified poverty and inequality.
** The Greens rail against the staggering amount of money that is poured into the U.S. military and promise they'd redirect it towards education and health care for Americans. This is a military that terrorizes and murders and occupies around the world. This is not a "policy problem." Nor is this a product, mainly, of "war profiteers." This is the essence of America. Without the napalm, nuclear weapons, "special forces," and all the rest of the monstrous machinery, the U.S. couldn't enforce its global system of exploitation—from the sweatshops and fields and mineral mines stretching from Bangladesh to Africa to Central America and beyond. The U.S. military enforces exploitation around the world. And the U.S. military threatens or wages wars against rival countries or forces who it sees as a threat to its position dominating a global setup of capitalist-imperialist exploitation and oppression.
If the Greens somehow got in power, and even if they could somehow compel the military to withdraw even half its 800 bases worldwide, all this would mean is that the whole economic foundation of this country in its international exploitation and plunder would crumble. Where, then, would they come up with their funds for free education or health care for Americans?
No wonder this system has used its instruments of dictatorship to imprison and slander, to spy on and intimidate, to assassinate or disappear those who have challenged its military supremacy. You can't reform this or appeal to it, you have to overthrow it. And you have to do this as part of a whole international struggle all aiming at an emancipated world, where there are no longer dominator and dominated nations and, eventually, no longer any borders whatsoever.
** The Greens promise to "end police brutality and mass incarceration" by creating "a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to understand and eliminate the legacy of slavery."
Are they fucking kidding? How did any of the so-called Truth and Reconciliation Commissions ever CHANGE anything for the masses of people? Look at South Africa. Despite some cosmetic changes and different faces at the top of the heap, the racialized poverty is still grinding, the barbaric racial caste system is still enforced, and the hopes of millions have been crushed.
The police terrorizing, brutalizing, and murdering Black and Brown people in cold blood is not some kind of "mistake." This is the police playing the role they are supposed to play—enforcing a system that was built on white supremacy and has always used grotesque violence to back that up AND which, in this globalized era, can no longer profitably exploit millions of Black people—so it has penned Black and Latino people into ghettos, set people up against each other, and outright kills them off on top of it all.
Fuck another commission. The ONLY way to end this is by overthrowing this system, dismantling its police forces, and building a whole new economy and society that is digging up exploitation and white supremacy. You need organs of state power that are going to back up the masses in transforming ALL relations of exploitation and oppression, and you need leadership committed to that, and in this putrid and racist society the liberation of Black people must be at the heart of that.
We need revolution, not reconciliation!
** The Greens promise "living-wage jobs for every American who needs work, replacing unemployment offices with employment offices."
Let's play this fantasy out: Say the Greens somehow forced American companies to start hiring the millions of Americans who are looking for work at a living wage. Instead of paying immigrants a few dollars an hour to pick crops in the fields, or children a few dollars a day to sew clothes in Bangladesh, these corporations would be forced to pay $15 or more an hour to Americans. These American companies—who are in intense competition with others around the world—would be forced to sell their products at a loss to pay for those wages. In that mad rush of competition, the capital that is currently concentrated in America would pull out and seek out more profit elsewhere. The entire financial base in the U.S., which has grown so wealthy through all this international exploitation, would disintegrate. And then where would the resources come from to employ all these people?
Ending any of these howling outrages requires something muchdeeper than simply redistributing the wealth accumulated through global imperialist plunder and exploitation. It requires OVERTHROWING this system, seizing control of the productive forces of society, and digging up all the forms of exploitation through which that wealth is produced. It requires recasting those productive powers to support revolutionary transformation worldwide, meet the material needs of the people, and mend, protect, and enhance the ecosystems of our planet. It requires a new revolutionary state power and revolutionary leadership that gives backing to the people to wage massive social and political struggle to uproot and overturn all the deep social divisions and oppression that have been woven into this system of capitalist exploitation: white supremacy, patriarchy, and more.
The Greens don't have a program to do this, but the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, does.
The Revolutionary Communist Party is organizing now to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time. It is preparing to lead an actual revolution to bring about a radically new and better society: see the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. It is doing this based on the scientific approach and strategy developed by Bob Avakian, the Karl Marx of our time. Bob Avakian has developed a new synthesis of communism and is actively leading the fight not to redistribute the spoils of this empire, but to bring about a world free of empire—a world in which all seven billion are emancipated.
There is no shortcut to a society on the road to human emancipation. There is no way to meet the people's needs by playing within their rules and within the framework of the Capitalist-Imperialist System. There is no painless way to get there, no way to wield the instruments given you by this ruling class when they possess the bottom-line monopoly on force. But revolution is possible and there is a way to fight and a real chance to win.
This is a harder road. But it is far more realistic—and far, far more liberating. Get into it and get with it today. Engage with the work of Bob Avakian, and form your own opinion. Go to revcom.us. Join the Revolution Club. As you do—and as part of preparing for and hastening this revolution—join in waging powerful, mass independent political resistance against this system's crimes that breaks out of their official and meaningless electoral channels. This is the only way anything meaningful has ever been won.
We had to vote for Obama and the Democrats, we were told, to put a stop to the great harm that was being done by George W. Bush and the Republicans. But did voting for Obama, and having Obama as president, prevent the fascism that has increasingly characterized the Republican Party from reaching a dangerously new level with the Trump candidacy? Obviously not. But why not? Because Obama and the Democrats, as well as Trump and the Republicans, are products and representatives of the same system of capitalism-imperialism, and that system has its fundamental dynamics and ways it has to function, which mean that anyone who rises to the top of that system must continually commit crimes against humanity.
Funneling good sentiments and intentions into voting for Democrats, time after time—accepting and “validating” the logic and assumptions of this system, rather than opposing the whole system and its endless crimes, presided over by both Democrats and Republicans—has made people complicit with these crimes and has contributed to the situation we are in, where an overt, undisguised fascist candidacy, embodied in Trump, is contending seriously to assume the leadership of this system, and it is now being insisted that only voting for Clinton, who is guilty of many despicable and monstrous crimes against humanity herself, can stop Trump and what he represents. As for the argument, “Well, yes, Clinton is not what we really want, she is actually quite bad, but she is ‘the lesser evil,’ and there are realistically only two choices—either Clinton or Trump—so if you don’t go for Clinton you are helping elect Trump,” this actually amounts to nothing more than the argument that, “As long as you accept the logic and ‘choices’ dictated by this system, you have to accept the logic and ‘choices’ dictated by this system.” Doesn’t the fact that this system has produced someone like Trump as a “legitimate” candidate, heading one of the two major political parties of this system—doesn’t this powerfully demonstrate the utter illegitimacy of the whole system? And the fact that Clinton and the Democrats will only oppose Trump with arguments that amount to insisting that they are better representatives of this same system, and can do a better job of perpetrating its crimes—doesn’t this powerfully demonstrate the urgent need to break with the logic and assumptions of this system and rise up against it and those who represent it, including Clinton as well as Trump?
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."
Excerpt from the section:
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People's Sights
All this goes on while, as pointed out in the polemic against Alain Badiou32 in Demarcations #1, the system of capitalism-imperialism “hums in the background,” destroying lives and crushing spirits. And people are conditioned—by family, by friends, by society in the larger sense—that the way you should approach life is not to question why things are the way they are, and not to question whether they could be different, but just to find your place within the world as it is, and do the best for yourself and maybe a small circle of people around you (your family and your really close friends), having no sense of the larger forces at work that are shaping things. Let’s face it: that is how most people spontaneously approach things—how they are shaped and conditioned, living under this system, to approach things. The very basic question of what your life is going to be about gets shaped, once again, by the system—its basic relations and dynamics, and the culture that arises on the basis of that. It’s pursue your dreams, it’s how are you going to make your way in this world as it is. As opposed to stepping back and questioning whether the world has to be this way—and, from that perspective, what should your life be about?
Toward the end of my Memoir33 this question is spoken to: What are you going to do with your life? Are you gonna put your snout in the trough and try to scarf up as much as you can, are you just gonna try to do the cutthroat thing and beat everybody else out? Or could you give your life to making a really different, and much better, world? And people do get drawn toward that, but then once again the system has well-worn channels and ruts to funnel them into—including charities, and so on. These things may do, or may have the orientation of trying to do, some good things, and the people who get drawn to them may have good intentions; but, ultimately and fundamentally, it ends up reinforcing the world as it is. Yet, spontaneously, most people just go along with all this. As I said, people are conditioned by the society at large, and also by their immediate family and friends, that this is the only realistic way to approach the world.
I’m going to talk about this more, a little bit later—what we might call the “George Carlin point.” I don’t know if you are familiar with this routine by the comedian George Carlin, where he starts off talking about how certain kinds of parents just let their kids do all kinds of messed up things, and he goes on talking about this for a while, and then he shifts and says: “He’s not gonna say something bad about little kids, is he?” And he immediately follows this up with: “Yes, he is!” Well, to give you a preview: “He’s not gonna say that youth should rebel against their parents, is he?” “Yes, he is!”
But the basic point is this: We need to fully recognize, and act on, the importance of lifting people’s sights, and lofting their “dreams”—bringing to them an awareness and basic understanding of those larger forces at work, encouraging and enabling them to experience how important and uplifting it is to approach the world with the restless curiosity and critical thinking of the scientific method—to question, to concern oneself with and, yes, agonize over the state of the world and the conditions of the masses of humanity, searching for answers to all this, on a scientific basis, and seriously engaging whether revolution and communism is the solution.
To be clear, I’m not saying you just go to people and say, “You know, it’s very uplifting to do this,” and they respond, “Oh, I wish somebody had told me that earlier, let me get into it right now.” This is going to be a matter of a tremendous amount of struggle. But struggle that’s both down on the ground and very lofty at the same time, that’s the point. Because we do need to make all this a powerful force and “pole of attraction” for growing numbers of people. “Jolts” in society, social upheaval and mass resistance, will provide more favorable ground for doing this, and we should seize on every opening this provides, but here again we cannot tail spontaneity and hope for objective developments to do our work for us—we have to wage struggle, in a compelling way, and bring forward an inspiring world outlook and method, morality and meaning to life, embodied in the communist revolution and its goal of emancipating humanity, to wrench people out of the rut, and the pit, into which the workings of this system casts and grinds down people. Without this, masses of people will never come to see the need, or the possibility, for a radical change in society and the world, will never be won to revolution and communism.
32. Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya and K. J. A., “Alain Badiou’s ‘Politics of Emancipation’: A Communism Locked Within the Confines of the Bourgeois World” in Demarcations: AJournal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 1, Summer-Fall 2009. Available at demarcations-journal.org and revcom.us.
33. Bob Avakian, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream Americato Revolutionary Communist, A Memoir by Bob Avakian (Insight Press, 2005).
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism Dialectical Materialism
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
Revolution Books New York is in the thick of a must-win fundraising battle to raise $25,000 through an online Indiegogo (IGG) campaign. This IGG campaign is a decisive step in an ongoing fundraising effort to make Revolution Books, New York City (RB NYC) sustainable so that it can play its decisive role in the world today.
The cutting-edge and wide-ranging books... programs with world-renowned authors, musicians and others... deep engagement and wrangling with what’s behind the horrors people face in the world today and how it could be radically different and better... at the foundation, the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian—a thoroughly scientific method and approach to understanding society and for bringing about the full emancipation of all humanity through revolution... All this makes Revolution Books, located in Harlem, a unique and vital center for the movement for an actual revolution.
It’s why the success of this fundraising campaign is of urgent concern for everyone who aspires to a whole different future for humanity.
This reporter stopped by the store on Thursday night this past week, to get a first-hand sense of the scene and how the fundraising campaign is going. As of that time, there had been over $8,000 raised—go to the Indiegogo site to get the latest word on the campaign.
There’d been important developments so far—like the $500 matching challenge put out by Grammy-winning jazz musician Arturo O’Farrill, which was met by other donors. But as Raymond Lotta from the store said that night, the “brute and naked truth” is that a big leap is needed to make the goal. “And that means we have to get the word out, we have to project this more widely, we have to ramp it up. And we need to reach out to people who can make big donations. We need to reach out to all kinds of people who can donate, donate, donate—and help get this out more widely.”
Readers of revcom.us and Revolution newspaper should go to the Revolution Books website at revolutionbooksnyc.org, click on the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign button—and contribute!
From the Streets of Harlem to Across the Globe
Scheduled for that night at the store was an event with George Mallinckrodt, author of Getting Away With Murder, exposing torture, especially of mentally ill prisoners, in Florida state prisons. George, who worked in a Florida prison psychiatric unit, is a whistleblower who got fired after speaking out against the criminal abuse of prisoners. He announced to the audience that he was contributing all the proceeds from the sale of his book that night to the fundraising campaign—and urged people to give more.
The store’s mission statement says that “Revolution Books is where people come from across the street and across the globe to find the books and engagement about WHY the world is such a horror—and HOW to change it.” This reporter got a vivid sense of this just from spending a couple of hours there.
There was George Mallinckrodt interacting with a Latina woman from the Bronx, whose son has been under solitary lockdown in a Pennsylvania prison for 17 years—she was going to leave after the program to make the several-hour trip to see him for his birthday. The program that night included an exchange between George and Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party (and co-initiator, with Cornel West, of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network) and a Q&A with the audience that included people of different ages and nationalities.
There was a 30-something couple from England, staying with friends in Harlem, who happened upon the store for the first time that afternoon and came back for the program. They were amazed to find a store like this—in the USA! Store staffers can tell many more stories like this about people coming into Revolution Books from countries across the globe.
Two young Black women, headed for high school after summer, who volunteer at the store, said they wanted to make T-shirts as part of the fundraising with the image of the Earth and the word “Revolution” over it. Why did they volunteer? “This is being about stopping police brutality and murder... and about having revolution for the world,” said one of these volunteers—as the other added, “And revolution is possible!” And why should people contribute? “This store can help people around the world to make a big difference.” “It’s got books like BAsics, the book by Bob Avakian. You can’t change the world if you don’t know the BAsics.”
A woman who teaches an adult literacy class nearby came in—her first time at the store—looking for audio material to help her students. Among the things she picked up was a CD of a radio interview that Cornel West did with Bob Avakian a couple of years ago. She couldn’t stay for the program but was definitely going to be back.
In the house were two members of the Revolution Club, fresh back from the intense weeks of projecting and organizing for revolution in the midst of the protests at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions in Cleveland and Philly. Revolution Club NYC was hosting a “Future People” open mic the next night at the store, with the theme “Cast Off Illusions.”
These were just some of the people at Revolution Books that night... and only a small slice of all the people who recognize the importance of what Revolution Books means for people today and for the future.
Noche Diaz from the Revolution Club leading a discussion at Revolution Books, July 16
On the Revolution Books fundraising Indiegogo page is a statement from a “disillusioned Bernie Sanders person” who says that after the Sanders campaign collapsed, “I stumbled on Revolution Books after going to the vigil for the Orlando shooting and meeting Revolution Club members. I was outraged and since then I’ve been coming here to Revolution Books for answers I hadn’t found anywhere else about the political status of this country, some solutions to take, and I’ve been changing my mind about how politics can affect me and how I can help make change.” (Read whole statement here.)
Eve Ensler, playwright and creator of The Vagina Monologues, and founder of the V-Day Global movement, speaking at the store in 2013, called Revolution Books “a landmark of consciousness.” And, recalling the 1960s when revolution felt possible, she went to say: “I feel it’s really important that places that hold that history, but also the potential for revolution now, are preserved. This bookstore is one of those places.”
The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, in a statement in support of the re-opening of Revolution Books, wrote: “Revolution Books has made an impact on the cultural, literary, and political scene in New York City. Revolution Books is more than a bookstore; as it proudly states; ‘It is a place that changes lives... A bookstore about the world and for a whole new world.’”
Andy Zee, the spokesperson for Revolution Books, offered this on what brings forth this profound recognition and appreciation:
At Revolution Books, the key political, intellectual, and cultural trends of the world today are engaged, probed and debated with a method and approach of discovering what is the reality at its deepest level—what is actually true. This is based on applying the more scientific foundation of the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian. This, in the context of the pathbreaking strategy for revolution and the concrete, visionary Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America that BA has put forth, provokes engagement with how and why an actual revolution to overcome all forms of oppression and exploitation could really be. And at RB, people have the opportunity to check out and become a part of this movement for revolution.
The wealth of books and films at RB provide a fertile vein, a deep mine of human experience, that reflects and concentrates the rich and complex history, the present brutal reality, as well as the aspirations and the soaring artistic achievements of humanity thus far. When all this is combined with the revolutionary theory, with the poetic and wrangling spirit that people find at the store... then, the possibility of a radically better world comes more into focus, its realization something to work and fight for. At RB, people from accomplished intellectuals and artists to people from the projects around the corner, find a place, an engagement, and a path to contribute to a radically new and better world.
Revolution Books NY has hosted hundreds of extraordinary events in the past few years—at the store and at other venues—involving well-known authors and artists and delving into breaking events in the world and wrestling with questions of revolution. Too many to name here—go to revolutionbooksnyc.org to learn more and to see videos of some of the events. But one upcoming event just announced for Friday, August 19: a reading and talk by Ghanaian-born author Yaa Gyasi, whose debut novel Homegoing was recently featured on the front cover of the New York Times Book Review.
The $25,000 being raised in this campaign is needed NOW. Revolution Books opened at its current Harlem location in November last year, after a $100,000 fundraising effort. But just spending one hot summer evening at the store—with several electric fans going full throttle but temperatures still uncomfortably high—shows some of the urgent needs. The store needs funds for air conditioning as well as new signage to make its presence on Malcolm X Blvd. (Lenox Ave.) much more bold, and a new stage that would enable the store to hold bigger and more impactful programs. There’s a great range of books now at the store—including one of the best selections of James Baldwin books in the city—but in order to more fully play its role, the store needs funds to expand the selection with hundreds of new titles.
This is about Revolution Books surviving—and much more. This is a time when, as the Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party says, “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.” (From “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution”) These times demand that this store not just stay open but thrive—to reach many more people and different corners of society, and become even more the political, cultural, and intellectual center of the movement for an actual revolution... to become an even greater resource for the people of the world.
And in order to make that happen, all of us need to take responsibility for helping to make the $25,000 Revolution Books summer 2016 fundraising campaign a success. As the store says: Humanity needs revolution. Revolution needs Revolution Books. And Revolution Books needs you.
On Thursday night, Revolution Books raised three things that people can do immediately to really take things to another level as the campaign enters the home stretch:
1. Donate as much as you can by going to revolutionbooksnyc.org and clicking on the Indiegogo campaign button. Various artists, authors, and friends of Revolution Books have donated great premiums that are available for people who donate.
2. Three important visual artists—Kyle Goen, Dread Scott, and Derrick Adams—have donated astonishing works to the campaign, which are available as premiums for donations of $1,000 to $1,800. If you’re unable to donate at that level, get the word about this to art collectors and institutions that could afford these works.
3. Be part of the outreach—getting the word about the campaign through your family and work networks and social media, urging others to donate, and helping to set up meetings with potential large donors for representatives from the store to talk with.
Chicago Police Videos of Paul O’Neal Killing Released: Black Teenager Was Unarmed—“It was cold-blooded murder”
August 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Eight days ago Paul O'Neal, an 18-year-old unarmed Black youth was shot in the back by Chicago police as he ran away from them. Today the shocking videos were released from the dash cam videos from the police cars and the body cameras of some of the cops.
What do they show? A police car speeds the wrong way down a one-way residential street and stops. The car O'Neal was in comes around the corner and drives around the cop car. You see the cop jump out and begin rapidly firing six or seven shots at the car anyway—as it goes by and as it drives away—one of the neighbors said it was like the “wild, wild west.”
Then the car O'Neal was driving crashes into a cop car. He gets out and runs. And then you see cops chasing after Paul through people's yards and you hear several shots.
Then fatally wounded Paul O'Neal is shown, surrounded by cops, lying face down on the ground in a blood-soaked t-shirt having his head brutally picked up and slammed down as he is handcuffed. One of the cops says, “They shot at us too, right?” Other cops are asking each other if they’re OK, while Paul lies dead or dying on the ground, while one pig has his foot on him.
Suspiciously missing was any footage from the body cam of the cop who fired the fatal shots. But the videos that were released DO reveal the executioner mentality and actions of the system's enforcers both right before and immediately after the cop shot Paul in the back.
Video of Chicago police shooting Paul O'Neal
The lawyer representing Paul O'Neal's family, Michael Oppenheimer, said at the press conference that he watched the devastating videos with Paul O'Neal's mother and sister who were so distraught they could not finish watching all the videos and had to leave. Oppenheimer said, “What I saw was a cold-blooded murder. It was a cold-blooded killing. You don't even shoot, and you shouldn't shoot, dogs that are running away. And, the only shots that anybody could have heard, on these videos or in this case, are the shots of the police officers improperly firing at the car, and at Paul O'Neal.”
The video of the murdering cop's first reaction speaks volumes about the real role, mentality, and culture of impunity of the police. Does the cop who shot Paul O'Neal say 'Oh my god, I just murdered that kid' and try to save Paul's life? No. Did he say, 'Holy shit, I'm going to be charged with murder'? No. He actually said, "Fuck, man I'm going to be on a desk for 30 goddamn days now. Fuckin' desk duty for 30 days now. Motherfucker!" (www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uL68yRBfLE) This is the only punishment he expected—a mere inconvenience while being paid—because the overwhelming punishment for police murder in this country is NOTHING 99% of the time.
And the response of the supervisor on the scene on hearing this was to tell the cops to turn off their body cameras. What does this tell you about this system and its so-called justice. This system is illegitimate and can never give justice and these videos show THAT, they show the murdering pigs continue to murder and all the policy changes and transparency are just part of the workings of the system to quell the anger of the people and keep on brutalizing and murdering. Why do they get away with this over and over and over again? Because when police murder Black and Brown people with impunity they are doing their job. (See BAsics 1:24)
This outrageous murder can not be allowed to go down!
WE NEED AN ACTUAL REVOLUTION TO PUT AN END TO THIS!
Protesting Murder and Terror by the Police Is Absolutely Righteous and Necessary!
Baltimore Pigs Deliver On-the-Spot Death Sentence to Korryn Gaines
This Must STOP!
August 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Photo: Korryn Gaines/Facebook
What kind of a system murders people—especially Black and Brown people—over and over again in situations that could easily have been resolved without shooting someone dead?
On Monday, August 1, a team of Baltimore County cops went to 23-year-old Korryn Gaines’ apartment in suburban Baltimore to serve her and her boyfriend with petty warrants. Her boyfriend fled the apartment and was arrested for an assault charge. Korryn and her five-year-old son Kodi remained in the apartment and refused to answer the door. A pack of heavily armed cops kicked the door open, and a standoff began. This was all to serve a warrant for failing to show up in court involving a traffic stop back in March. Seven hours later the pigs rushed into the house, shot and murdered Korryn Gaines and shot and wounded her son Kodi.
Korryn Gaines’ live video on Facebook of this was widely viewed, until the police got Facebook to shut down her Facebook and Instagram accounts in the middle of the standoff. Stung by the recent live stream video of the police murder of Philando Castile in Minnesota—they did NOT want anyone to know what was happening and what they were doing. They did NOT want this cold-blooded murder to be seen live by thousands of people.
Police claim Korryn threatened them with a legally registered shotgun. But the fact is, these pigs illegally entered her apartment without her permission, and she loudly and firmly told them to leave. It is completely understandable for a Black person to fear for their life when they encounter the police—especially when the cops are heavily armed and kicking down their door! And simply being prepared to defend yourself does not constitute a reason for the police to murder you.
The police and their media mouthpieces have attempted to justify this cold-blooded murder, claiming Gaines was emotionally unstable, and generally defaming her character. On Friday night, August 5, 200 people attended a candlelight vigil where family and high school classmates spoke out, taking on these lies and slanders. As reported in the Baltimore Sun, Ryan Gaines, Korryn’s 26-year-old brother described his sister as “a headstrong woman who would fight battles even when it was clear she couldn’t win.” Gaines said he and his sister shared unpopular political beliefs and that whenever they witnessed injustice they felt compelled to object. He said, “We was passionate about what we believe in.” Korryn commented regularly on police brutality. In fact, just days before she was murdered, she posted a meme that read, “If You Think Murder Is The Only Crime That Carries A Death Sentence Think Again” with pictures of people killed during routine encounters with police. An outspoken voice against police murder and brutality has now been silenced by a police execution.
The police had seven hours to resolve this, and there were certainly many ways they could have handled it without killing Korryn Gaines or wounding her son. But as this system keeps making clear—when an incident involves the lives of Black and Latino people, they simply shoot to kill. They come for a fucking warrant on a traffic ticket and end up murdering a Black woman. And shooting and wounding a five-year-old!
In fact, as one relative recounted at the vigil, he and Korryn’s mother went to the scene to see her and try and resolve the situation peacefully. He said they were confident that if given a chance they would have been able to resolve the situation and that Korryn would be alive today. But what happened is that they were NOT allowed to see Korryn, and he said he was taken aside and questioned about his own political views and associations.
This is what Bob Avakian wrote about Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old African-American woman shot dead by Riverside, California police in 1998—Miller had been passed out in her car, resulting from a seizure, when police claimed that she suddenly awoke and had a gun; they fired 23 times at her, hitting her at least 12 times, and murdering her:
If you can’t handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people’s police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re actually trying to be a servant of the people. You go there and you put your own life on the line, rather than just wantonly murder one of the people. Fuck all this “serve and protect” bullshit! If they were there to serve and protect, they would have found any way but the way they did it to handle this scene. They could have and would have found a solution that was much better than this. This is the way the proletariat, when it’s been in power has handled—and would again handle—this kind of thing, valuing the lives of the masses of people. As opposed to the bourgeoisie in power, where the role of their police is to terrorize the masses, including wantonly murdering them, murdering them without provocation, without necessity, because exactly the more arbitrary the terror is, the more broadly it affects the masses. And that’s one of the reasons why they like to engage in, and have as one of their main functions to engage in, wanton and arbitrary terror against the masses of people. BAsics 2:16
Time's up for this illegitimate system! Time to get organized for an ACTUAL revolution!
What to Make of the Police Walking Free After Murdering Freddie Gray...
And What to DO About It
August 1, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On July 27, Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced that she was dropping all remaining charges against the pigs that murdered Freddie Gray. Four of them had already been tried without any convictions. Now they will all walk free.
Look, you know this was unjust when the prosecutor herself tells you that police sabotaged the case against Freddie Gray. That “lead detectives ... were completely uncooperative and started a counter-investigation to disprove the state’s case by not executing search warrants pertaining to text messages among officers involved in the case.” That police “[created] videos to disprove the state’s case.” And that as things are set up under the current “criminal justice system, we could try this case, a hundred times, and cases just like it, and we would still end up with the same result.”
Think about what it took to even get these murdering pigs charged in the first place. The world saw Freddie Gray bent like a pretzel—for nothing—on video. His screams of pain could be heard a block away in the projects. He got brutalized on one of those police van “rough rides” that any Black person in Baltimore knows about.
Despite all that, it took an uprising to even get the prosecutor to charge police with killing Freddie Gray. It took youths refusing to back down in the face of pigs taunting and beating them. It took going beyond the bounds of respectable protest. It took setting aside deadly gang beefs and standing united against police terror. It took college students—including white students and students from elite universities—standing with the oppressed demanding justice.
And then look at how the system responded: Barack Obama called the youth thugs—while saying nothing of the kind about the police who murdered Freddie Gray. The powers that be orchestrated a spike in violent crime among the people. Youths were hunted down and arrested for being part of the uprising. The same system that couldn’t find any of the pigs who murdered Freddie Gray guilty of anything,convicted and sentenced a 20-year-old Black youth, Donta Betts, to 15 years in prison for damaging property in response to police provoking and attacking youths after they murdered Freddie Gray. At Donta Betts’ sentencing hearing, the prosecution demanded a harsh sentence because they said he displayed “sheer hate and contempt” for the police.
To add insult to injury, the murdering pigs are getting big back-pay settlements for the time they were off work.
The fact that justice has NOT been done in the Freddie Gray murder is yet more evidence that when police murder Black and Latino and Native American youths, they are doing their job as enforcers for this system of exploitation and oppression. If that wasn’t the case, then why would the whole system go to such extremes to let police walk when they are caught red-handed murdering someone—as they were in the case of Freddie Gray?
And it is a whole system in on that—politicians, ruling class media, police, prosecutors, and courts... and the feds too.
“What are we to make of this? What are we to take from it?”
Protesters show determined resistance to the murder of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police. Baltimore, MD, April 28, 2015. AP photo
The obscenity and injustice of letting these murdering police walk has intensified the ongoing state of outrage among millions. Writing in the New York Times, in a column titled “Incandescent With Rage,” Charles Blow posed:
“Yet another black man’s body broken without anyone’s being called to account, another soul lingering on the other side of the grave without justice on this side of the living. No officer has been convicted in the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and dozens more. Indeed, according to Mapping Police Violence, ‘only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in officer(s) being charged with a crime, and only 2 of these deaths (Matthew Ajibade and Eric Harris) resulted in convictions of officers involved.’”
And Blow asked:
“What are we to make of this? What are we to take from it?”
In this short clip, BA poses: if murdering Michael Brown—and we can add the names of so many more youths—isn’t the police doing their job, then why do the police tell you they can’t do their job if they can’t keep shooting down youths in cold blood? And why do they do this over and over and over, and get away with it. If this is not “doing their job,” why are they never punished?
And BA goes on to point to the underlying factor—that this system has millions of people in the inner cities that it cannot even exploit anymore. They are locked down in ghettos, driven to desperate attempts at survival, locked up in jail... and shot down by police by a system that has no use for them.
A SYSTEM like that will not and cannot end police terror and murder of Black and Brown people. And if we’re really being honest, and not backing away from where the evidence leads because the conclusion makes us uncomfortable, then it is clear that the way out of this mess does not lie within the system that produced these outrages.
Protest, Rebellion, and Revolution
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.
Everybody’s not talking about revolution right now. But many people are. There is a broad sense among many people that there has to be a better way the world is organized. But an ACTUAL revolution—that actually is a way out of this madness—requires a scientific understanding of the problem, the solution, and a strategy that can win.
As we wrote recently: BA has developed the scientific understanding and approach to make the kind of revolution that can emancipate humanity. He has learned deeply from previous revolutions, as well as from many different spheres. He has forged a strategy for how a revolution could be prepared for and won, as well as a concrete vision for the new society that is on the road to real liberation. At the same time, he has kept his connection to and acted as a true champion of the oppressed, from those who catch the hardest hell in this country’s ghettoes and barrios, to the majority of the seven billion around the world. He has never given up, and today he leads a party which is actively preparing for a real revolution, one aimed not at reforming but overthrowing this system.
In that light, rebellions like the one that happened after Freddie Gray was murdered by police are not just necessary to have a chance for justice, they open the door to the kind of REAL change people need.
A Black woman who was in the streets of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after the police murdered Alton Sterling there, talked to Revolution about what she felt, and learned through that. What happened in Baton Rouge was an outpouring of protest from the oppressed, not an uprising on the level of what happened in Baltimore. But her insights shed light on what changes when people stand up:
“There were a thousand people out there. Everybody was rattling. It was the first time that I ever saw that many people, Black people, together standing up. It was empowering. I grew up being told Black people couldn’t come together without there being trouble. That we were not capable of doing that. It was mind blowing, freeing... I was in awe. I was impressed. I was proud. I was proud to be a part—it was like—the first time—I’m a proud Black woman but it was the first time I was actually proud—does that make sense?—to be a part of the African-American community. The first time I ever felt like we were together. It was amazing.”
And think about these comments, by the same woman, quoted earlier, after she watched part of Bob Avakian’s video REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
“Yes, with the youth! Our most vital, untapped resource for this revolution! They are young, they are angry, they know that it’s wrong, they have no fear of anything. They’re not afraid of nothing and nobody. But just to have them like that is not going to serve a purpose for the whole movement, the whole revolution. We need to take that anger, take that fury and we can bring it together and harness it like a beam of light. That’s what I mean by focusing it. They have a movement, a revolution behind them, and a purpose, it’ll do some good.”
As people like her get into REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian and challenge others to get with that leadership... think about what impact that force could have in accelerating things towards, and preparing for a real chance at, an ACTUAL revolution.
When people stand up, and rise up, against the outrages of this system—including police murder—their actions could—with a stronger revolutionary force in their midst—bring into even sharper focus how illegitimate the use of violence by the system, against the people, is. And the presence of a stronger revolutionary force in the midst of protests and rebellions could project, and bring to life, that there is a strategy for revolution at the soonest possible moment, and a serious movement for that.
What We Need to Do Now
So, right now, when the ruling class of this country is caught up in a swirl of conflicts and contradictions, when they have no real answers that address the interests and needs of humanity, how do we act? What role does resistance to the crimes of this system, like the police murder of Freddie Gray and so many others, play in getting us free of this system? And how does that get transformed into something that can really break out of the mess we are trapped in today?
The answer is concentrated in this important point of orientation that is up at revcom.us—for those who see the need for revolution, and for everyone who refuses to accept this world as it is:
"It is very important that people rise up and refuse to accept the continual murder of people, particularly Black people as well as Latinos, by police—this, and the other outrages and atrocities continually perpetrated by this system (as concentrated in the 5 Stops), cannot go down without people fighting back and rocking back the powers-that-be. But this must be built toward revolution—an actual revolution that overthrows this system at the soonest possible time—because there is no solution to these outrages under this system, and as long as we live under this system, this will go on...and on. There is a way that we can make a real revolution—and bring into being a radically different and better society: we have the strategy, program, and leadership for this revolution, in the work of BA and the Party he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party. Everywhere we go, and in everything we do, even as we are continuing to learn more about it, we need to be spreading the word about this revolution far and wide, and organizing for this revolution, drawing people around and into the Revolution Clubs, on the basis of the statement from the RCP Central Committee."
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.
A protestor against the 1964 coup in Brazil is pursued by police.
THE CRIME: In 1964, a section of the Brazilian military carried out a coup that overthrew Brazilian President João Goulart. The coup gave rise to two decades of a murderous and brutal military dictatorship and atrocities that led to the disappearance and death of close to 1,000 political opponents, and the systematic torture of over 30,000 more.
The coup had been anticipated—and worked for—by the U.S. for two years or more. And the U.S. provided supplies and funding for the coup. Just before the coup, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil received a secret telegram from Secretary of State Dean Rusk stating that the administration had decided to immediately mobilize a naval task force to take up position off the coast of Brazil including U.S. Navy tankers, along with an airlift of 110 tons of ammunition and other equipment including “CS agent”—a special gas used against street protests. President Lyndon Johnson was briefed on and signed off on that. Goulart was unable and unwilling to mobilize armed resistance, and within days of the coup he fled to neighboring Uruguay. The U.S. immediately recognized the new regime, and declared that the coup by the “democratic forces” had staved off the hand of international communism.
The years of military dictatorships that followed led to the killing of hundreds of political opponents, possibly as many as a thousand. This includes a battle in the Amazon jungle where scores of left-wing rebels were slaughtered. The army used napalm, firebombs, and torture, and carried out orders to execute every single guerrilla captured alive.
In 2007, Brazil’s commission investigating this period reported that 280 different types of torture were inflicted on “subversives” at 242 clandestine torture centers, by hundreds of individual torturers—aimed at crushing opposition groups and intimidating and silencing any other opponents. Tens of thousands were rounded up and imprisoned and/or tortured during the years of military rule.
U.S. presidents Kennedy and Johnson: A month and a half before Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, Kennedy held a two-day meeting with his cabinet where the developing war in Vietnam and political developments in Brazil were discussed. Here Kennedy openly discussed the option of overthrowing Goulart’s government.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
President Kennedy, in October 1963: “What kind of liaison do we have with the [Brazilian] military?”... “We’ve got to do something about Brazil.”
President Johnson, days before the coup: “I think we ought to take every step that we can, be prepared to do everything that we need to do.” (Instructing his aides about U.S. support for the coup as the Brazilian military moved against Goulart on March 31, 1964.)
Continuing under Johnson, the U.S. carried out a systematic campaign to destabilize Brazil, covertly organizing opposition and street protests against Goulart. Meanwhile, they closely watched unfolding developments towards a coup. Johnson made clear to his advisers that the U.S. should do everything it could to assist the impending coup to make sure it was successful.
As the coup was about to be launched, Johnson authorized “Operation Brother Sam.” The U.S. military supplied arms, ammunition and gasoline for the coup, and was prepared to send combat troops if the overthrow of Goulart met with strong resistance. And a massive naval force was dispatched.
Dean Rusk and Robert McNamara, secretaries of state and defense under President Johnson: These architects of the genocidal war against Vietnam were also overseeing the covert activities that set the stage for the coup, and monitoring and directing the massive backup that was sent to prevent, and if necessary crush, any opposition to the coup that might arise.
Lincoln Gordon, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil: The U.S. “eyes and ears” on the ground, Gordon was involved in overseeing covert operations, and reporting on and assessing the developments towards the launch of the coup.
1968: The Brazilian military regime lined up tanks in the center of Rio de Janeiro in a show of force.
CIA Agent Dan Mitrione: Hundreds of Brazilian military and police officers were trained in torture techniques by the CIA—specifically, by agent Dan Mitrione. Mitrione had been an Indiana cop, an FBI agent, and an adviser for the CIA in Latin America. He taught police how much electric shock to apply to prisoners without killing them. This systematic torture was referred to officially as “Scientific Methods to Extract Confessions and Obtain the Truth.” Mitrione tested his torture techniques on street kids and homeless beggars from the streets of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Torture included electric shocks growing in intensity and sessions of “pau de arara” (suspension from a rod by the hands and feet). Many of these techniques would be replicated across the region through the U.S.-sponsored Operation Condor that spread a reign of terror against dissidents and rebels throughout South America (see American Crime Case #87: Operation Condor 1968-1980s: U.S.-Directed Campaign of Political Assassination and State Terror in Latin America).
In 2008, a former police intelligence agent provided testimony suggesting João Goulart—who had been overthrown in the coup—had been poisoned by Condor operatives in 1976.
Henry Luce and TIME magazine: TIMEmagazine published positive reports on the activities of the military regime as it carried out the elimination of political parties, and the implementation of salary controls that increased the hardship among Brazil’s working class.
Military leaders of the Brazilian coup: In addition to the crimes committed during and after the coup, Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship became the “regional model” for the pro-U.S. military dictatorships of the Southern Cone to follow, and which worked together in Operation Condor. The Brazilian military’s “Doctrine of National Security” provided intellectual justification for unleashing the military dictatorships’ violence on the forces of opposition and resistance of their own countries who dared to speak out and resist.
THE ALIBI: The Brazilian military and right-wing sections of the ruling class, together with the U.S. imperialists, justified the coup by portraying Goulart’s government as a “socialist threat,” instigated by international communism.
The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:3
ACTUAL MOTIVE: While the Goulart government was no ally of Cuba, Lyndon Johnson saw its refusal to join in isolating Cuba, as well as efforts such as organizing peasants in northeastern Brazil, as signs of a “leftist” government that couldn’t be tolerated.
For the U.S., stability and control of its “own backyard” has always been essential to maintaining its domination elsewhere in the world. Following World War 2, the struggles for national liberation developing in different parts of the Southern Cone of Latin America, given encouragement and support by the Cuban revolution and often aligned in some way with the Soviet Union, posed a strategic challenge.
The Brazilian coup came in the early stages of what the U.S. military saw as the necessary response—the development of a coordinated, regional counterinsurgency force, and strategy, capable of carrying out assassinations of guerrilla resistance fighters and their political allies anywhere in the region. In many ways, Brazil became a “model” for the other U.S.-backed military dictatorships that followed.
Attempted Coup in Turkey & the Potential for Real Revolution
August 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Turkey, a large country and key U.S. partner, is considered an anchor of stability in the tumultuous, imperialist-dominated Middle East. But on the night of July 15, contradictions roiling beneath the surface of Turkish society suddenly exploded into the open.
Units of the Turkish military attempted an armed coup to depose the Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (pronounced ERD-owan). The coup-makers arrested some top pro- Erdoğan military officials, bombed parliament, took over the state television channel, and tried to capture Erdoğan, the leader of the governing Islamist AKP (Justice and Development Party). Suddenly, it was not clear who held the reins of power.
But the coup-makers barely missed capturing Erdoğan. They weren’t able to gain enough support from the Turkish military and ruling class. And they didn’t rally masses of people to their side.
Erdoğan reacted quickly, mobilizing his supporters, even at the risk of civil war. A key move: he used a smartphone to connect with CNN-Turkey and broadcast a call to his followers, including people from the country’s 85,000 mosques, to go to the streets and fight against the coup. By the afternoon of July 16, it was clear that Erdoğan and his allies had crushed the coup and retained power.
Even so, this sudden fragmentation of Turkey’s political order sent shock waves around the region and world. It highlighted the depth of the global, regional, and domestic conflicts destabilizing Turkey, in the overall context of the global conflict between Western imperialism and fundamentalist Islamic Jihad. Most important, it underscored the urgent need and real potential for breaking out of the horrific dynamic framed by these two reactionary social forces, and bringing forward a genuine revolutionary pole, based on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism.
Background: Imperialism & the Rise of Islamic Rule in Turkey
Turkey is located at the junction between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and is one of the region’s more powerful and most strategically located countries. Historically, Turkey has been economically and strategically subordinated to global imperialism. (Turkey is a member of NATO.) It’s also a brutally oppressive state forged through the horrific genocide of more than a million Armenians, and the violent subjugation of the country’s 10-15 million Kurdish people. (Over the past 30 years, the Turkish government has killed some 40,000 Kurds, trying to crush their struggle for self-determination.)
Bob Avakian on the Rise of Islamic Fundamentalism: Excerpts from Away With All Gods!
Religious Fundamentalism, Imperialism and "The War on Terror" Read more
Why Is Religious Fundamentalism Growing in Today's World Read more
Until recently, Turkey’s oppressing classes have ruled through a secular state, one whose laws are not based on religion. But Turkey, like the rest of the world, has been transformed and destabilized by the enormous economic, social, and political changes being driven by the workings of global imperialism. These and other global changes, as Bob Avakian has analyzed, have also given rise to the resurgence of religious fundamentalism, and in the Middle East to Islamic fundamentalism and jihadism.
This led in 2002-2003 to the coming to power of Erdoğan and his reactionary Islamist AKP, which marked a major shift in Turkish politics. Since taking power, Erdoğan has moved to solidify his grip on Turkey’s political institutions and military. He’s also sought to break down secular rule and push for the Islamization of Turkey’s state and society, with all the horrors this entails, including even more horrendous subjugation and degradation of women. In this, Erdoğan was joined by other Islamist forces, but these allies became bitter rivals. (Erdoğan is accusing the Islamist Fethullah Gȕlen and his followers of organizing the recent coup attempt.)
This falling out and coup attempt did not reflect a theological dispute between different Islamists. Rather, it was a product of the overarching contradiction between imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism and the underlying dynamics of imperialist development. These contradictions have fractured the Turkish political system and propelled different forces into conflict with each other over how to deal with the situation, internally and externally.
Erdoğan’s Vicious Crackdown
What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these "outmodeds," you end up strengthening both.
While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these "historically outmodeds" has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:28
The coup attempt shocked the Erdoğan government. The fissures in the state it revealed left Erdoğan with little alternative but “forward flight,” speeding up his efforts to consolidate his hold on power, and cleaning out the military, security forces, intelligence services, judiciary, and other government structures, as well as the secondary school and university systems of all opposition to his agenda.
At this writing, Erdoğan has instituted a state of emergency and called for the return of the death penalty. Nearly 16,000 people have been detained—10,000 of them military personnel; over 8,000 have been arrested, including a third of the general-rank military command and 1,684 prosecutors and judges; 130 publications have been shut down, and over 60,000 employees, mainly from the Ministry of Education, have been fired or suspended, including the deans of all of Turkey’s 1,500-plus universities. Turkish lawyers report detainees face torture, beatings, and rape.
The revengist Turkish chauvinism laced with Islamic fanaticism that Erdoğan is unleashing in the wake of the coup attempt goes hand-in-hand with an all-out campaign to wipe out resistance in Turkey’s Kurdish provinces and the targeting of the recently established U.S.-backed autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria (Rojava) and the PKK presence in Iraq.
For all this, Erdoğan’s triumph and vicious counter-attack will likely make the ideological and political structure of the Turkish state more brittle.
The U.S.: Better Erdoğan Than the Unraveling of Turkey
When news of the coup attempt emerged, emergency meetings of foreign ministers were convened in countries from Moscow to Washington and at the European Union and NATO level, as all the major players anxiously scrambled to get a handle on this sudden eruption of political uncertainty and turmoil.
Turkey, with the second-largest army in NATO, has long been a linchpin of Western imperialist control of the Middle East and a key U.S. ally. But in the last several years, there have been serious tensions between the U.S. and Turkey over actions by Erdoğan the U.S. rulers feel run counter to their overall regional dominance, including his Islamism and conflicts over anti-ISIS strategy, for example in relation to the Syrian civil war.
Nonetheless, the U.S. and other Western powers backed Erdoğan when news of the coup broke. The Obama administration declared its “absolute support for Turkey’s democratically elected, civilian government and democratic institutions.” Whatever their differences with Erdoğan, they feared the instability of a coup more. The New York Times editorialized, “The volatile Middle East cannot afford to have another state unravel, especially one that is also a bulwark of NATO’s eastern flank.”
Even so, serious differences between the U.S. and the Erdoğan regime remain, and are likely to be intensified by the failed coup.
U.S. support for the reactionary Islamist butcher Erdoğan speaks volumes about who its vaunted allies are, and what the U.S. spreads around the world: imperialism and political structures that enforce imperialism. After the coup, the U.S. has said Erdoğan should be restrained and follow due process, but any protests the Obama administration has made on behalf of the thousands brutally fired, detained, tortured or killed are barely audible.
Key to Breaking Out of the Deadlock Between Imperialism and Islamism:
Grasping Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis of Communism
The attempted coup in Turkey reveals the intensity of the contradictions boiling in Turkey and the potential for further jolts and crises. Yet among many Turkish people and others who care deeply about the future of the Middle East, there’s been a current of paralyzing disorientation and despair.
Ishak Baran (“Turkey: Contradictions Reach a Boiling Point”) writes that a key cause of this demoralization is
[T]he prevailing lack of a correct understanding of the possibility of breaking out of the deadlock between imperialism and Islamism and all the horrors this situation is creating—that the same contradictions driving this process also provide the material basis to do so through revolutionary change....
To see the reality beneath appearances—how the underlying contradictions driving the ugly and destructive developments in the region and now in Turkey also provide the material basis for a thorough-going revolution—requires the science of communism. Today this means grasping Avakian’s breakthrough in developing a more scientific approach and method to understanding the world and changing it....
Anyone and everyone who can’t stand the situation in the Middle East and the world has to urgently familiarize themselves with and grapple with this new synthesis of communism. Cores of people must emerge—and quickly—in Turkey and elsewhere, people who struggle to master and wield the new synthesis of communism and commit themselves to forging a vanguard force to take up the tasks of producing a movement for revolution and a revolutionary people, as this goal and understanding brings an increasing number of people into action.
This is how we can bring out, act upon and seize the revolutionary possibilities latent within the situation that is crushing the people today.
(This article draws from Ishak Baran’s “Turkey: Contradictions Reach a Boiling Point”published on July 21, 2016 by A World to Win News Service, and posted on revcom.us. Ishak Baran is a supporter of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism and a veteran participant of the Maoist movement in Turkey.)
Olympic Flame Extinguished as Protests Rock Brazil—a Country in Crisis
August 8, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following is excerpted from a longer letter from a reader:
Cop pepper sprays demonstrators during a protest against the money spent on Rio's 2016 Summer Olympics on the route of the Olympic torch, in Niteroi, Brazil, August 2. (AP photo)
Rio de Janeiro police during demolition of the Vila Autódromo slum, on March 8, 2016. The area is being transformed into luxury apartment buildings for use after the Olympics. The evicted families were promised new housing but there have been some 22,000 other families evicted in other Rio slums who have nowhere to go. (AP photo)
As the Olympic torch entered the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, teachers who were protesting delayed salary payments to government employees due to the near bankruptcy of the Rio state government clashed with the police, grabbed the torch, and extinguished the flame.
Tens of thousands have taken part in protests aimed at the Olympics but are sparked by an economic, political, and social crisis that has rocked Brazil in the past two years.
The Olympics has become a focus of the anger of the people, where 63 percent of the population thinks hosting the Olympics that has cost $11.9 billion will hurt the country that is already in a deep political, economic, and social crisis. (New York Times, August 4, 2016)
Francisco Dornelles, the vice-governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, has “declared a state of public calamity over the budget shortfalls that could cause a total collapse in public security, health, education, transport and environmental management.” The New York Times reported that in Rio, civil servants and pensioners are not being paid due to the “squandering [of] a bonanza of oil royalties.”
All along the route of the torch relay, protests are being held. People have pelted the torch relay with rocks. Protests have taken place in many of the outlying areas of Rio. In Itaboraí, where a huge refinery project was shut down due to a bribery scandal, causing massive unemployment, the protesters carried a banner reading: “While the torch passes lit in Itaboraí, jobs, health, and education are put out.” (Washington Post, August 2, 2016)
In São Gonçalo, protesters forced the cops to change the route of the torch as they chanted that they were going to put it out. They carried a banner “emblazoned with the Olympic rings and the phrase ‘exclusion games.’” (Washington Post, August 2, 2016)
In Niterói, a more affluent town with views across the bay to the city, the cops tear gassed the demonstrators and arrested people. As one woman was being arrested, she shouted, “Fascist police! Fascist police! The Olympics kill!” (Washington Post, August 2, 2016)
Brazilian riot police used tear gas and pepper spray against hundreds of protesters who were marching along the Olympic torch relay route in Duque de Caxias, north of Rio de Janeiro, Wednesday just before the start of the Olympics. The protest, which was against the salary delays of public sector workers in the state of Rio, took place along the path of the Olympic torch relay. (Olympic torch appears at very end of video)
The cops and military have used stun grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas to clear a path for the torch through some of the poor suburbs of Rio.
It is not clear who all the protesters are, but the police and government are using this as a way to go after those they label as “gangs” and “drug traffickers.” In one instance, 450 heavily armed cops marauded through the Alemão slum near the Rio airport and arrested dozens.
In Natal in the northern part of Brazil, protesters have set fire and destroyed 29 buses and other state vehicles. Inmates in a state prison in that city took over the prison in protest over having their cell phone signals blocked. The government sent 1,200 troops to Natal to put down this mini-rebellion (my words), saying that “these are criminal gangs” who are unleashing a wave of violence against the government.” (Yahoo News, August 3, 2016)
A street vendor who sells in front of a Rio metro station said, “Just thinking of the Olympics leaves me revolted. Our politicians want to trick the world into thinking things are great here. Well, let the foreigners see for themselves the filth we live in, the money our leaders steal.” (New York Times, August 4, 2016)
Brazil has been at the center of the Zika crisis. (See “Zika Virus and Global Inequality: A Deadly Combination.”) Zika infections in the state of Rio are the highest in the country with an infection rate of 157 per 100,000 people. At the same time, the government has cut health care by 30 percent since the beginning of 2015. There is a massive health care shortage with over half of the hospitals shut down.
More than 150 doctors and professors signed a letter saying the Olympics should be postponed or moved out of Rio to “prevent the Olympics from transforming Zika into a global pandemic.” (Dave Zirin, The Nation, July 26, 2016) In May, the Harvard Public Health Review stated that “The 2016 Olympic Games must be postponed, moved, or both as a precautionary concession.”
77,000 people have been displaced and thousands have lost their homes due to Olympics-related construction, and those people have taken to the streets to protest their displacement.
A demonstrator in a costume depicting a banker and holding a replica of a fire extinguisher for putting out the "flame" of an imitation Olympic torch on the route of the Olympic torch, at the Copacabana beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5. (AP photo)
Police murdering people has been on the rise, with a 135 percent increase in the number of people killed by the police in May this year compared to May last year. 307 people were killed by the cops in Rio last year. One out of five homicides in Rio is committed by the cops. This is a 26 percent increase in police killing people in Rio over the past year.
The favelas (where those in poverty live) are in shambles, with anti-crime pacifying programs—using SWAT-type police tactics, massive police presence, and police shootouts killing the residents in the favelas. It is ironic that the organizers of the Olympics had planned what they called “poverty tours” of the favelas where they were trying to institute pacification programs to show visitors how “cute and peaceful the favelas are that you can even bring tourists into them.” But this backfired on them when the cops went on their killing rampage in the favelas. A 17-year-old high school student spoke to this. She told a reporter, “They will want to show everyone who is here from abroad for the Olympics: ‘Look we have security.’ But this is a lie. The want to show that Brazil can protect them—but for us, the population, there will be more violence and deaths.” (Dave Zirin, The Nation, July 26, 2016)
Waterways, including Guanabara Bay where Olympic events will take place, are contaminated “with waterborne virus levels up to 1.7 million times of what would be considered hazardous on a Southern California beach.” (New York Times)
Rio has become a militarized state with 85,000 troops on the ground, double the amount of military forces that were used in the 2012 London Olympics.
Brazil is in the midst of a deep economic crisis where the economy has shrunk 5.4 percent in the first quarter of this year. Inflation reached 10.7 percent at the end of 2015, which is a 12-year high. This is the largest recession for Brazil since the 1930s.
According to Reuters, Rio de Janeiro is one of the country’s most indebted states and has been hit especially hard by the recession. Unemployment is up to 11.2 percent in the period between February and April of this year.
With 11.4 million unemployed, up 20 percent from a year ago, Brazil’s central bank recently estimated that the economy would shrink by 3.5 percent this year, which follows a 3.8 percent drop in the economy in 2015, with average wages falling by more than four percent over the past year.
It is not uncommon to hear these days, from government officials and others, that only 1 percent of the population is in the U.S. military but that this 1 percent is fighting for the freedom of the other 99 percent. The truth, however, is this: That 1 percent, in the military, is in reality fighting for the other 1 percent: the big capitalist-imperialists who run this country—who control the economy, the political system, the military, the media, and the other key institutions—and who dominate large parts of the world, wreaking havoc and causing great suffering for literally billions of people. It is the “freedom” of these capitalist-imperialists—their freedom to exploit, oppress, and plunder—that this 1 percent in the military is actually killing and sometimes dying for.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:5
The political fire-storm that erupted after Hillary Clinton supporters Khizr and Ghazala Khan attacked Donald Trump at the DNC continues to burn and dominate the news.
The Khans, Pakistani-American Muslims, invoked the death of their U.S. Army captain son to denounce Trump for attacking Muslims instead of recognizing their sacrifices for America and for refusing to sacrifice himself. Trump retaliated with a thinly-veiled attack on the Khans for being Muslims: only Mr. Khan spoke at the convention Trump said, because Mrs. Khan “had nothing to say. She probably—maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”
The political and media feeding frenzy escalated from there, with ruling class figures including President Obama joining in, basically demanding everybody take one side or the other.
But what are the two sides people are being told to choose between?
The Khan’s son was a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq in 2004, after the U.S. had invaded and occupied the country. Under international law, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a war crime in its conception—and its execution! First, the U.S. knowingly invaded a country that had not attacked it and posed no imminent threat—a war crime. (Before the war, the rulers fabricated the lies that Iraq was involved in 9/11 and had weapons of mass destruction.) Second, in invading and occupying Iraq, the U.S. carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity including directly killing thousands of civilians, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands more, and carrying out torture at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.
A Few Points
First, NOBODY’S “service” in such a criminal war should be honored! In an interview with the New York Times, Khizr Khan described raising questions about the Iraq war to his son, who was about to be deployed. His son replied: “Look, that’s not my concern and that’s not my pay grade.” This—ignorance or “I was just doing my job”—is NOT a defense for crimes—a principle clearly enunciated by the U.S. judges at the Nuremberg trials of the Nazis following World War 2. In other words, what’s being wildly promoted and celebrated in this “controversy” is blind obedience to an evil cause!!
Second, the Democrats and ruling class as a whole are going to town around this controversy to solidify the terms of debate against Trump and in the election overall: who is going to most aggressively, uncritically and unapologetically support U.S. intervention around the world and the military that carries it out. This is also the theme behind the Democrats’ and rulers’ whole brouhaha against Trump over his alleged ties or softness toward Russia.
So if you’re gonna be against Trump and be for Hillary, you should be clear that the Democrats and the powers-that-be are making very clear to you that this is what you are signing on to.
Note: the Democrats have NOT hit Trump over his fascistic law-and-order ranting—not even mentioned! They haven’t hit him over his racist attacks on Black people—not a word! Nor for his attacks on immigrants—mentioned on occasion, but overall swallowed up by Khan furor. Not for his calls for torture or his attacks on the rule of law—neither even mentioned! Instead, Trump is being hammered on “national security”—i.e., the violent pursuit of U.S. global domination!
If you try to make the Democrats be what they are not and never will be, you will end up being more like what the Democrats actually are.
Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:12
Third, for Trump’s part, his attacks on the Khans further his racist, fascist agenda of targeting all Muslims. That truly has to be opposed and fought against, but on what terms? Not on the terms of who is the most loyal American, but on the terms that such targeting of whole populations is utterly unjust and reactionary, and it forms part of a larger fascist agenda—none of which can be tolerated! The great contribution of immigrants is NOT as loyal cannon fodder serving the U.S. empire, but because many bring knowledge and understanding of what this country actually does all over the world, and conveying that is a very important and valuable contribution to opposing America’s lies, chauvinism, and crimes.
So step back and think about the terms of debate being set and how people are being trained to think by the Democrats and much of system in the Khan vs. Trump feeding frenzy. And think about the implications.
What if someone who’s a Muslim refuses to fight in the next war that Hillary Clinton decides to fight? Is such a person deserving of support? Would Muhammad Ali be deserving of support today if he were to refuse to kill for U.S. imperialism on the legal basis of his religion?
People need to reject the whole America No. 1! Stop thinking like Americans and start thinking about humanity!
Confront the Actual History of the USA
Contribute to the “American Crime” Series
Updated August 25, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Want to volunteer for revcom.us, and feel like you are in basic agreement with the principles for volunteers? We have a project for you!
Revcom.us recently began a new regular feature, AMERICAN CRIME. Each installment focuses 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.
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.
Right now the American Crime series takes on heightened importance, when both Democrats and Republicans are filling the air with the putrid and dangerous stench of how “great” America is, was, or could be. These articles follow this basic format:
If you or others are interested in researching and/or writing to contribute to this series, contact email@example.com. You may have a suggestion or the editors can propose one for you.
You won’t be on your own in working on this. Editors will be working with you as you tackle the project, and will want to hear what you are running into and what you are learning, and may make suggestions.
In working on this project, you will be making a real contribution to waking and shaking people up about the real history of this country, provoking them to learn more about why this country is this way, and inspiring them to look at the real solution.
A NEW PROJECT:
In addition to documenting particular American Crimes, revcom.us has a new, related project: scientifically determining, through as accurate a survey as possible
how many deaths have been caused by direct U.S. military intervention in the past 70 years
how many deaths have been caused by U.S.-supported proxy wars and U.S.-provided military “aid”
how many refugees have been created by U.S. military aggression in all its forms.
Our goal: to arrive at an ironclad figure that no one can factually dispute. This would include, but not be limited to, those crimes covered in the American Crime series. If you want to contribute to this survey, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are some suggested American Crimes in our series that need to be researched and written. If you’re interested in these or have other suggestions, email email@example.com.
U.S. Invasion of the Dominican Republic
In April of 1965, President Johnson sent U.S. Marines and then the U.S. Army's crack counter-insurgency unit into the Dominican Republic. Within 10 days, 23,000 U.S. troops were in the Dominican Republic. Rebel forces fought against the U.S.; a total of about 4,000 Dominicans—mainly civilians—and 44 U.S. soldiers died in the war.
The Coup in Chile in 1973
On September 11, 1973, the U.S. government orchestrated a coup d’etat in Chile that overthrew the elected government of Salvador Allende and installed the fascist regime of General Augusto Pinochet. No one can say for sure how many people were murdered. At the time, Chilean revolutionaries spoke of tens of thousands of victims. Today’s Chilean government says 3,000. Some estimates say that 400,000 people were tortured. A whole generation of intellectuals and others who could escape was driven into exile. Many of those murdered during Pinochet’s years in power were “disappeared,” kidnapped by the U.S.-installed regime and never seen again.
Torture Chamber Guantánamo
People around the world have been rounded up, kidnapped, and illegally held starting right after September 11, 2001, for years on end, including at Guantánamo. Prisoners there have been systematically tortured, some tortured to death. It has rightly become a global symbol of American barbarity.
The Murder of Fred Hampton
Photo: Paul Sequeira
On December 4, 1969, a squad of special police raided a Black Panther Party apartment in Chicago and killed Panther members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a hail of gunfire. In a carefully staged press conference, the police claimed there was a shoot-out when all evidence showed that Fred Hampton was murdered in cold blood while sleeping in his bed.
BP Gulf Oil Catastrophe
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
On April 20, 2010, off the Louisiana coast, a surge of gas burst up through the well being drilled by the oil giant BP. It exploded in an inferno of flame and smoke. Eleven workers were killed. The Deepwater Horizon drilling platform was destroyed, and a toxic gusher was let loose, which poured more than 200 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas into the rich waters of the Gulf before it was capped nearly three months later. It was an almost immeasurable environmental catastrophe that killed workers, ravaged wildlife, and savaged ecosystems from the deep waters of the Gulf to the environmentally vital shores. It threatened human health and created an economic disaster for the many thousands whose living depended on the Gulf’s waters.