Revolution #454, August 30, 2016 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

It's a Scientific Fact
You Can't Be a Cop in America If You Won't Be a PIG

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Police: Enforcers of oppression and madness [00:18:24- 00:30:10] - From Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian

An op-ed piece in the New York Times by Joseph Crystal, a former Baltimore cop, describes what he characterizes as the “attitudes and practices” of the police in Baltimore. (“When Police Are Poor Role Models for One Another,” August 15, 2016). This piece, and a Department of Justice (DOJ) report on the Baltimore police that Crystal refers to, reveal some of the reality of a city terrorized by cops who systematically and illegally degrade and brutalize Black people. And what is revealed in the DOJ report about Baltimore is also true of every major police department in America. (For background on what was exposed in the DOJ report, why it came out in the first place, and what it was intended to accomplish, see “A Summer of Police Terror... Why? And What Can Be Done to STOP It?”)

In this short op-ed piece, the pervasiveness of police supervisors insisting on and enforcing wanton police abuse comes through. Crystal says it broke his heart that a cop who witnessed police planting drugs on someone “was scared to report it, fearing retaliation.” And through understatement, Crystal points to what “retaliation” means in a police department: “It is hard to speak up against colleagues anywhere, but in law enforcement there are more serious concerns, like your safety.” The implication is clear: when cops plant drugs on people, any cop who even thinks about reporting that has to fear for their life, and is going to keep their mouth shut. Think about how this violently enforced policy of planting of drugs on people fits into the larger picture of a society where the prisons are filled past overflowing with victims of a so-called “war on drugs.”

Freddie Gray, murdered by Baltimore police in 2015.

Crystal writes of telling a Baltimore detective who made an illegal, unconstitutional arrest—based on a search without probable cause—that this would not stand up in court. And he describes what happened next: “A sergeant pulled me aside and said I needed to mind my business. ‘We don’t care about what happens in court,’ he told me. ‘We just care about getting the arrest.’”

Crystal invokes an incident where a cop shot a man in the groin who was already down and helpless. Again, the one cop who considered complaining was silenced by threats from other police.

Crystal describes an incident in the DOJ report where a Justice Department investigator went on patrol with a sergeant. The sergeant saw a group of young Black men on a street corner and told a cop to order them to leave. The cop said he had no reason to do so. “Make something up,” the sergeant replied. And Crystal writes, “That the sergeant would do this in front of a federal official investigating civil rights violations may be astounding, but it demonstrated his mind-set. He didn’t think he was doing anything wrong. He must have been in the department for years and had probably been taught to take such action by his field training officer, and even the department’s commanders. It was learned behavior, part of a culture rooted in an ‘us versus them’ mentality.”

According to a lawsuit Joseph Crystal brought against the city of Baltimore, he himself was driven out of the Baltimore Police Department by threats for attempting to blow the whistle on police abuse.

“Choices” Dictated By a Criminal System

On Choices...and Radical Changes, by Bob Avakian

Crystal paints a picture of all-pervasive, egregious, undisguised, illegal harassment and violence against Black people, and a culture where this is not just condoned, but enforced within the police department.

But then, Crystal poses the root of the problem this way:

The drug trade is so insidious in some neighborhoods of Baltimore that when I was a detective there I sometimes had to arrest children for selling narcotics. Sad as that was, a drug counselor told me, they learned to do it from the people around them.

Police officers learn egregious behavior from those around them, too, I thought, when I read the Department of Justice report issued last Wednesday about the Baltimore Police Department’s systematic abuse of black citizens and violation of their rights.

This is all wrong. This is twisting reality in a way that, regardless of intent, legitimizes and justifies the very outrages Crystal exposes, and so many more he does not.

Children in the inner cities may learn desperate means to survive from others around them. But why are they confronted with the need to turn to desperate means of survival in the first place? The “choices” they face are a product of this system, they are dictated by this system, and they are enforced by the system’s police.

Walk through the Gilmor Homes, the project where Freddie Gray was murdered by Baltimore police. You will meet people without a change of clothes, without a cell phone, without a chance in hell of getting to a grocery store. This killing inequality and oppression is expressed in the fact that life expectancy in the neighborhoods around Gilmor Homes is 20 years lower than in suburban Roland Park, less than five miles away.

And under these circumstances, in seeking a way to survive—and absent getting with revolutionary role models who are about overthrowing all this at the soonest possible time, and emancipating all humanity—people’s outlook is going to be overall shaped by the dog-eat-dog mentality and “morality” generated and enshrined by capitalism.

If the youth in these communities are driven to desperate means to survive, that is not fundamentally a product of bad influences or bad choices. It is a product of a system that has no decent “choices” for them. (The preceding discussion of “choices” draws on “On Choices...And Radical Changes” by Bob Avakian, as well as “More on Choices...And Radical Changes by Bob Avakian.” Readers are strongly encouraged to dig into and share those pieces).

       

Those who rule this system remember how in the 1960s, uprisings by, and the influence of, a revolutionary movement among Black people shook society to the core. The uprisings and spirit of revolution inspired millions from all walks of life who were in rebellion against the powers that be. The system responded with violent repression. But at the same time, some doors were opened a bit for Black people to enter into different professions and endeavors. Those openings have been under assault ever since. And it remains the case that any Black person, regardless of what they’ve accomplished by the system’s own standards, is subject to racial profiling, “driving while Black” stops and worse.

But today, as a result of the traumatic and anarchic nature of capitalism-imperialism, factory jobs that were the basis for survival in cities from Baltimore to Oakland, Detroit to Atlanta, are gone. They have been moved to places where capitalists can exploit people even more viciously in dog-eat-dog competition for profit. Other jobs have moved to suburbs essentially off-limits to Black people. Today, conditions for millions of Black and Brown people are worse then they were back in the ’60s.

Those in power see the seething anger in the inner cities as potentially explosive and threatening to their whole setup. And the only real answer they have is violent repression.

People in Gilmor Homes heard Freddie Gray’s screams of pain a block away as police folded him up like a pretzel on their way to murdering him. Message delivered to the oppressed that anyone, anytime, who steps out of line, or does nothing at all, has a target on their back. That is police doing their job in the United States.

You Can’t Be a Cop in America Without Being a PIG

Textbook Definition: What Is a Pig?...

Read more

Despite everything he himself reveals about the “attitudes and practices” of one of the largest police forces in the United States, Crystal claims “most of the officers are good.”

No. The overwhelming majority of cops are PIGS and consciously so.

Here’s an excerpt from how the Black Panther Party once defined a pig:

What is a pig? A low natured beast that has no regard for law, justice, or the rights of people: ...a foul, depraved traducer, usually found masquerading as the victim of an unprovoked attack.

If you’re a cop in America, you’re a PIG. That’s not just a curse. And it’s not a “choice” you make—or not make—once you become a cop. It is a scientific fact. And despite his intent, Crystal’s own piece makes clear that anyone who does not go along with participating in, fostering, and covering up piggery is threatened or worse.

Being a pig, acting like a pig, and relishing the “opportunity” to be a pig are job requirements for being part of police forces that terrorize the inner cities of the U.S. like an occupying army, in order to keep people down. Police do this as part of doing their job as violent enforcers of a system: capitalism-imperialism, a global system of exploitation and oppression. Adopting the mentality of a sadistic, depraved murderer is a perfect fit for that job. If that wasn’t the case, why is that “culture” promoted, enforced, and rewarded in every police department?

How are you going to change that “culture” when you are talking about an oppressive occupying army whose job it is to lock down, terrorize, and attempt to crush the spirit of an oppressed people?

And why would you want to try?

...And What Should They Do?

Here’s what Bob Avakian said in 2002, responding to the murder by police of the unarmed and unconscious young woman Tyisha Miller in Riverside, California:

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

 

 


 

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Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Ground Zero in System's War on Women:
Pregnancy-Related Deaths Double in Texas

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Two-hundred ninety-six dead is a horrendous number. That’s the number of women who died in the state of Texas from 2007 through 2010 before, during, or after childbirth from causes related to their pregnancies. But bad as that number is, a new study has found that the rate of pregnancy-related deaths (maternal mortality) in Texas had doubled by 2012. So from 2011 through 2014, the number of maternal deaths jumped to 537.


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If Texas were a country, it would have the highest rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the developed world!

The study, “Recent Increases in the U.S. Maternal Mortality Rate,” by researchers from the Maryland, Boston, and Stanford universities, which will be published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, also found that across the U.S. the rate of maternal mortality was higher than previously known and rose 27 percent between 2000 and 2014.

“Most maternal deaths are preventable”

Maternal care is basic to healthcare, affecting the lives of millions and millions of pregnant women and mothers, and all humanity’s children. And what makes this rising death toll so outrageous is that it’s utterly unnecessary.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal mortality as a woman’s death from pregnancy-related causes—while pregnant or within 42 days of terminating her pregnancy. Three-quarters of such deaths are caused by severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure, complications from delivery, and unsafe abortions. WHO states, “Most maternal deaths are preventable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known.”1 Yet maternal deaths are rising in the U.S., and spiking in Texas. (The toll of pregnancy-related maternal deaths is much more devastating in the vast areas of the world distorted and impoverished by the workings of global imperialism.)2

This is a society awash in statistics—stock market valuations, baseball batting averages, what’s “trending” online, and yes, infant mortality. But collecting data on maternal mortality, vital to women’s and children’s health, has been crippled and ignored, and the government hasn’t published pregnancy-related death statistics since 2007 (all of which prompted this new study). This is another glaring example of how patriarchy runs through every nook and cranny of this society, and how this system considers women as sex objects and breeders whose lives are expendable.

What’s Behind the Texas Spike in Maternal Deaths?

Maternal deaths and mortality rates, Texas, 2006-2014

The new study didn’t evaluate the causes for Texas’ sudden jump in maternal mortality, but noted such leaps are usually associated with “war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.”

There is a different kind of a war going on now across the U.S. and especially intensely in Texas—a many-sided war against women, one that’s hitting Black women particularly hard.

The leap in pregnancy-related deaths in Texas began in 2011 as the Republican dominated state government slashed the budget for reproductive healthcare by two-thirds, cutting it from $111.5 million to roughly $38 million. This forced some 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The clinics left open could only provide services, such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings, well-woman exams, to half as many women as before the cuts.

In 2011, Texas also blocked Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving state funds to provide poor women with preventive healthcare, cutting off tens of thousands more women from contraception, cancer screenings and other services.

In August 2014, the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero 
Texas, initiated by Stop Patriarchy, traveled through Texas because of 
the abortion emergency there that threatened to close all but six 
abortion clinics that were left. These courageous fighters faced down 
threats, arrests and brutality to boldly put forward their stand of 
Abortion on Demand Without Apology!
In August 2014, the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride 2014: Ground Zero Texas, initiated by Stop Patriarchy, traveled through Texas because of the abortion emergency there that threatened to close all but six abortion clinics that were left. These courageous fighters faced down threats, arrests and brutality to boldly put forward their stand of Abortion on Demand Without Apology!

Those budget cuts were not driven primarily by financial concerns; they went hand-in-hand with an all-out assault on abortion access. Texas had enacted a whole series of anti-abortion laws that cut the number of abortion clinics from 46 in 2011 to fewer than 25 in 2014. (See, “Why Texas is Ground Zero of the Abortion Rights Emergency,” June 30, 2014.)

Some abortion providers offer other forms of health care. So these cuts in family planning funding, aid to poor women, and attacks on abortion meant that tens of thousands in Texas, especially poor and oppressed people and those in rural areas, no longer had ready access to basic healthcare and prenatal care. This made it very difficult for many women to get contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancies or for pregnant women to monitor their own health, and the health of their fetuses.

One of the study’s authors, Dr. Marian F. MacDorman of the Maryland Population Research Center at the University of Maryland, told Revolution/revcom.us that “Planned Parenthood offers a lot of just really basic introductory healthcare. This is the first place people would go to get a pregnancy test, to get a referral for prenatal care, or for whatever they need. And if that place is not available then it might lead to delays in getting the pregnancy test, getting into prenatal care. And we all know that early prenatal care is supposed to be healthy for women, and pregnant women.”

Break All the Chains!

Break ALL the Chains!
Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution

Sampler Edition | Full Work

No doubt other factors, demanding further study, have contributed to Texas’s leap in pregnancy-related deaths. One is the intensifying oppression of Black people, which exacts a terrible toll on Black women who become pregnant. “Certainly in the United States in general and also in Texas specifically, the maternal mortality rate for African-American women is more than twice as high as for white women. So that’s one thing that’s really bad.” Dr. MacDorman said.

A new study by a Texas-sponsored taskforce, released on August 25, found that in 2011 and 2012, while Black mothers accounted for only 11.4 percent of Texas births, they accounted for 28.8 percent of pregnancy-related deaths. In other words, being a Black woman in Texas meant you were nearly three times more likely to die as a result of pregnancy than other women!

Added to these and other horrors, likely driving the rise in maternal mortality, there are more people in Texas without health insurance than in any other state.

In 2013, Texas restored funding for family planning. But some healthcare providers had closed their doors, and those who survived the 2011 cuts are struggling to restore services to their pre-2011 levels.

Maternal Deaths and the War on Women

The leap in maternal mortality in Texas and its rise across the U.S. is taking place at a time when women’s role in society has undergone significant transformations—and is being very sharply contested in many different ways all across the globe. In the U.S. in particular, the evolving demands of global capitalism-imperialism, the political and cultural upheavals of the 1960s, and other factors have led to big changes since the 1950s. Women’s participation in the workforce, universities, and the professions has skyrocketed. Sexual mores and identifications have changed dramatically. The traditional, male-dominated nuclear family is being challenged, shaken, and in some situations fractured.

Patriarchy, the nuclear family, and the oppression of women have been woven into the foundation of American capitalism and society from their beginning. So today, in the face of the tidal forces tearing at this traditional order, powerful ruling forces are fighting very viciously to keep women “in their place,” and maintain this reactionary patriarchal order.

They’re doing so by waging an ideological, political, legal, and economic war on women, whose leading edge now is ending abortion and denying women one of their most basic rights—to control their own bodies and reproduction. Texas is a base area of these extreme-right wing, Christian fascist forces and ground zero in this war on women.

It is not hyperbole to say that some of the women who died in Texas from pregnancy-related causes were casualties in that war on women.

The Battle Against Women’s Oppression and Getting to a Whole Different World

The revolutionary leader Bob Avakian (BA) has written that this very sharp contradiction will be resolved in one of two ways:

The whole question of the position and role of women in society is more and more acutely posing itself in today’s extreme circumstances...It is not conceivable that all this will find any resolution other than in the most radical terms....The question yet to be determined is: will it be a radical reactionary or a radical revolutionary resolution, will it mean the reinforcing of the chains of enslavement or the shattering of the most decisive links in those chains and the opening up of the possibility of realizing the complete elimination of all forms of such enslavement?
—Originally published 1985, Cited in A Declaration: For Women's Liberation And The Emancipation Of All Humanity, a special issue of Revolution, #158, March 8, 2009

That “revolutionary resolution” is urgently needed and a serious possibility. Such a revolution will only be made if the fury of women is unleashed as a mighty force for revolution. And that revolution will only be worth making if it’s aimed at totally uprooting patriarchy and all forms of women’s oppression as part of emancipating all humanity.

To dig into the strategy for revolution brought forward by BA and his leadership of the movement for an actual revolution, click here.

To see how a genuine revolutionary state, based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America written by BA, would deal with the emancipation of women, peoples’ healthcare, and transforming the world overall, click here.


1. See World Health Organization, Maternal mortality ratio (per 100 000 live births) and Maternal mortality, November 2015

2. The workings of global capitalist-imperialism make the situation for mothers and children even worse in the vast areas of the world it oppresses and impoverishes. “Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a leading cause of death and disability among women of reproductive age in developing countries,” WHO reports. “Approximately 2.7 million newborn babies die every year, and an additional 2.6 million are stillborn...By the end of 2015, roughly 303,000 women will have died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Almost all of these deaths occurred in low-resource settings, and most could have been prevented.” The organization sums up, “Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth... 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.”

 

 

 


 

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Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

The Science...Actual Revolution title image

Download PDF of entire work

Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation. 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 "IV. The Leadership We Need."

Excerpt from the section:
Another Kind of "Pyramid"

The fact is that, where most people are at now, is not where people need to be. Where most people are at is shaped and conditioned by how this society, how this system, is working on them. So if we want to lead people where things need to go, there’s gonna be that tension, that contradiction, that we have to be out in front, fighting with people that this is where they need to go, while many things are pulling on them another way and you stand out as being different. But being different in that way is very good and very important, as long as you work and struggle to bring more people forward along the same path. Being radically different than the rest of society is what we need to be—including being radically different than the so-called “movement,” because that “movement” isn’t about anything that’s going to lead to what people really need, and in many ways is actually working against that. That’s not true for all of it; but, in terms of the organized “movement,” it’s true for a lot of it.

I was thinking about this in these terms: Which “M” should we base ourselves on—the “movement” or materialism, dialectical materialism? We need to base ourselves on materialism, dialectical materialism, what the application of that shows to be the fundamental need—not where most people are at, at a given point, but what a scientific dialectical materialist analysis shows us is the need and the basis for transforming things. Earlier, in talking about revolutionary defeatism, I noted that I was struck by the fact that, in hearing reports and in reading things that people have written, on the basis of reading the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, as far as I know, no one commented on the section in that Interview where she speaks passionately about hating the national anthem, hating the Pledge of Allegiance, hating the flag and people saluting the flag. I expected that a lot of people would say, “Wow, me, too—I’m really glad to hear somebody say that!” And the fact that this didn’t happen—that people commented about a lot of things that struck them in that Interview, things they learned a lot from, but there was a glaring lack of commenting on, expressing agreement with, this part of the Interview—raised the question, particularly in terms of revolutionary defeatism: Is this another case where people don’t want to be standing out? Do people not want to be out there, opposing this “thank you for your service,” and hand over your heart, saluting the flag?

Skybreak points out: It’s terrible, you go to a sporting event, or some other event, and they play the national anthem, and these basic youth—not all of them, but way too many of them—stand up and put their hand over their heart. Maybe they even join in singing about “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” For god’s sake (if you’ll pardon the expression), here’s this system that’s crushing them, has enslaved them, exploited them, oppressed them and people all over the world, and they’ve got their hand over their heart, singing along about “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” And we don’t hate that? We don’t see what a terrible thing that is, how much harm that’s doing to the masses of people, that they’re told that this is the way to be respectable and make your way in the world and you should be loyal and patriotic toward your country that’s brutally oppressing you and people all over the world? We don’t think we should stand up against that? I’ll tell you one thing: If even a couple of people went to an event like that, sat among basic masses of people and called that shit out when it started to happen, a lot of good things would get turned loose: a lot of good struggle and a lot of sentiments that are just barely beneath the surface. More than a few people would say, “Yeah, what the hell am I doing, anyway?” We have the responsibility to do this.

 

 

Contents

Publisher's Note

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
Internationalism
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—Revolutionary Defeatism
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Fundamental Orientation

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”

Appendix 1:
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian

Appendix 2:
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion

Notes

Selected List of Works Cited

About the Author

 

 


 

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Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Sit Down With Colin–And (Morally and Politically) Stand Up Against That Genocidal Rag!

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 


The best way to support Colin Kaepernick's courageous action is to duplicate it, wherever and whenever you can, and struggle with others to do so.

In this regard, we are publishing something very relevant as this week's excerpt from THE NEW COMMUNISM by Bob Avakian.

 

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Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

The Birth of a Nation Can Contribute to Liberation—Re-Prosecuting Nate Parker Does Not

by Sunsara Taylor

August 25, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On the eve of the major release of a new film, The Birth of a Nation, which chronicles the heroic slave rebellion of Nat Turner, a huge controversy has broken out over 17-year-old allegations of sexual assault directed against the film's writer, director and star, Nate Parker. Despite the fact that Nate Parker was tried and found not guilty, growing numbers of commentators, including many prominent Black and feminist voices, are publicly insisting that they will not go see this film because of these allegations. This controversy threatens to imperil this film's reach and impact, even before it is released. This is very bad.

This film needs to be seen. Everyone in America—and many beyond—must confront both the horrors and integral role of slavery to this country. They also need to learn the heroism and story of Nat Turner, a man who led one of the most powerful and righteous uprisings against slavery in this country's history. It is extremely rare that a film like this gets made. Even rarer that it gets picked up and promoted as a major Hollywood release. Everyone who cares about liberation, and everyone who wants a culture and atmosphere where radical ideas and art can flourish, should fiercely oppose what is being done to bury this film in controversy and destroy Nate Parker and his co-writer, Jean Celestin. I have not yet seen this film, but any film dealing with such a topic must be seen, and must be judged on its content—not the artist.

This does not mean that we should dismiss or downplay the horror of rape. As I have written much about, rape is a horrific crime. It not only shatters the lives of the women who are its victims, the constant threat of rape is a weapon through which all women are terrorized. It is a key tool enforcing the all-around oppression and patriarchal domination of all women in every part of the world. All of this is something that everyone should fight against, urgently and with great passion.

But re-prosecuting and convicting Nate Parker in the “court of public opinion” 17 years after he was tried and found not guilty of rape is very wrong. It will not help to liberate women—or anyone else. In fact, it works against doing so.

*****

Break All the Chains!

Break ALL the Chains!
Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution

Sampler Edition | Full Work

It is the case both that throughout history women have been silenced if they dare speak out about having been raped AND that throughout the history of the U.S., the accusation of rape against Black men in particular has been used as a license to kill. So is there no way to sort this out? There is, but only in the context of the search for the truth and the struggle to break ALL traditions chains.

As stated in a very important piece laying out important questions of principle and method in the wake of accusations against Bill Cosby,

“[I]t is very important to fight to, first of all, create the kind of atmosphere in society overall and in different institutions and parts of society, that make it much more difficult for rape and sexual assault to be carried out, and that encourage and support women in resisting this and in coming forward to raise this and seek justice when it does happen, while at the same time insisting on a consistent approach of proceeding in relation to accusations of rape and sexual assault, and accusations of crimes and wrongdoing in general, through a process that relies on a scientific method and approach and where the kind of 'trial by media' and 'media tyranny' that is so commonplace these days, and the very poisonous atmosphere this creates and reinforces, will be firmly rejected and denounced.”

Make no mistake: what is being done against Nate Parker and The Birth of a Nation is nothing more than a Trial-by-Media and Trial-by-Social-Media. It’s a trial by the culture of “gotcha,” by what amounts to hearsay—with absolutely no criteria of truth. It’s a trial by what the “mob” is led to think which, by the way, in a class-divided, patriarchal, white-supremacist society will inevitably end up targeting and scapegoating the most oppressed. Do people really need to be reminded of “I heard the Black boy whistled at the white women” or “that loose woman was asking for it,” to see where this will lead—and has led time and again.

Even when not directed against the oppressed, this approach is wrong anyway. It works against the scientific search for the truth, which is essential to the process of real liberation and which is an essential part of any truly just and vibrant society.

It’s NOT a Conspiracy Theory to Ask: Why Now?

Even if Nate Parker had been found guilty of rape 17 years ago—which he was not—it would be necessary to ask: Why is this being resurrected now, so many years after the fact on the eve of this film's release?

The accusation—and acquittal—has been known for years and there are no new developments. The only thing new is that a major publication decided to whip up a storm cloud of controversy around it on the eve of the release of this new film—including by digging up and revealing that the woman involved committed suicide four years ago. In fact, some members of the woman's family have made the important point that they “are dubious of the underlying motivations that bring this to present light after 17 years, and we will not take part in stoking its coals.”

At every step along the way, people in powerful institutions made decisions to manufacture this controversy where none had existed. Someone had to decide to run a major piece in Variety suggesting (i.e., prodding) that this “controversy” might engulf the film. They had to decide to follow this up with details of a tragic suicide they had no interest in reporting on for four years. Others had to decide to put this “new controversy” on the home page—for three days—of the New York Times and then many other publications. People had to pick through trial transcripts and take things out of context. And on it has gone.

It is NOT a conspiracy theory to think, when something is suddenly made into such a big deal, that powerful forces were either behind it or got behind it. Rather, recognizing all this is part of applying a scientific method in a society in which some social groups have more power than others and are able to use that power, when it suits their purposes, to bring down certain individuals or works of art or scholarship.

WHO and WHAT Is Served by This “Controversy”?

This manufactured “controversy” is already working to turn people away from seeing this film. To impact how the film company and others will decide to promote it—already, the American Film Institute has postponed a major screening. To stop discussion of slavery, but also to stop support of those who rose against this and whether they should be supported—which in the case of Nat Turner is not without controversy, much as the people who rose up recently in urban rebellions in Milwaukee, Baltimore, and elsewhere against police murder are not without controversy. To prevent this from connecting with the tinderbox of anger seething in the ghettoes and prisons.

Frontally attacking this film for its actual content would almost certainly catapult it into even greater prominence. So much better for the oppressors to have a “left” cover—a seemingly “radical” reason—for this film to be buried.

While it seems this was set in motion by very powerful, perhaps ruling-class, forces, others have been taken in and taken it up. Whatever their intents, these people are allowing their legitimate outrage at the widespread culture of rape and patriarchy to be a cover for attacking a film which does not promote rape, but—in fact—makes a powerful contribution to the fight against oppression.

A “Not Guilty” Verdict Matters

Nate Parker was put on trial and found not guilty. This matters!

It should not even be necessary to point out that it matters that Nate Parker was found not guilty. Unfortunately, it is.

Too many people are making the very sloppy—and extremely harmful—argument that, because most rapes go unreported and even fewer result in conviction, it follows that Nate Parker must have gotten away with rape. This is wrong. Statistics that men often get away with rape are NOT the same as evidence that a particular man got away with rape.

Others have argued that a woman's accusations should be believed “because there is nothing at all to be gained by going public with a rape accusation.” This is wrong. There are more than a few instances where accusations of rape have been completely fabricated. There have also been many instances where convictions in rape cases have resulted from powerful ruling class interests that have nothing to do with evidence of criminal behavior. And there are times when even sincerely held memories and perceptions of a person turn out not to be true.

In order to sort out the guilt or innocence of a particular person in a particular case, the facts and evidence of that case must be thoroughly examined, sifted through and a verdict rendered. This was done. Nate Parker sat on trial, and when all the evidence was sifted through he was found not guilty of any criminal act. This matters.

An Essential Distinction: Nate Parker Is NOT a Part of the State—Cops Who Get Acquitted for Murder ARE

Some have argued that it is “alarming that Black men have been so quick to suddenly cite the court system” when it is this same court system that lets killer cops walk free.

This argument is also wrong. In thinking this through and writing the following, I have drawn deeply on and paraphrased the article I previously referred to on the Bill Cosby controversy.

Police who murder Black people are part of the apparatus of capitalist state power. The “prosecutor” is also part of the apparatus of this state power. And there has been, over a whole long period of time, a very clear pattern where murders by police are almost always declared “justifiable.” In light of this, there is a sound scientific basis for believing that the regular procedures of the legal system are very unlikely to result in a just outcome. It is correct to believe that any investigation and legal procedures involved will very likely be fundamentally tainted in a way to result in no indictment or, in the very rare cases of indictment, no conviction.

But that is very different from a situation involving an individual—even an individual with considerable wealth and influence—who is not part of the apparatus of state power.

The Truth Must Be Scientifically Established

There are, of course, cases where a thorough review and analysis of the evidence and a trial make it legitimate to conclude that an incorrect verdict was reached. I do not claim to have sifted through all of this in order to draw a scientific conclusion as to the veracity of this verdict. But I have sifted through enough of it to know that those declaring that Nate Parker is “definitely guilty” and that the verdict was wrong are not doing so on anything close to a sound, scientific basis.*

Truth cannot be determined based on who will be served by it, by how it makes you feel or your personal experience, and certainly not by how many people are saying it.  Truth must be drawn from evidence. This is important not just for sorting this particular high stakes controversy. This has to do with fundamental questions of what kind of world we want to live in and how we fight to get there.

We need a world without the grotesque division into exploiters and exploited, without the rampant violence against women and degrading patriarchy, without the ongoing bloody terror against and oppression of Black people, and without all the many other crimes of the system of capitalism-imperialism that rules over us. We need a world without this dog-eat-dog system, a world where people have gotten beyond thinking and calculating every social exchange in terms of competing interests of individuals and groups, but instead proceed from the larger interests of all humanity. To get to this world will require an actual revolution—and this requires a scientific approach.

Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has written that:

For humanity to advance beyond a state in which “might makes right”—and where things ultimately come down to raw power relations—will require, as a fundamental element in this advance, an approach to understanding things (an epistemology) which recognizes that reality and truth are objective and do not vary in accordance with, nor depend on, different “narratives” and how much “authority” an idea (or “narrative”) may have behind it, or how much power and force can be wielded on behalf of any particular idea or “narrative,” at any given point. (BAsics 4:10)

Trials—and Tyranny—by Media and Twitter Run Counter to Liberation

Again, what we have seen is a media and Twitterverse witch-hunt. Everything Nate Parker has said for nearly two decades—including illegally recorded phone calls—has been pored over. Unable to find anything clearly incriminating, writers have instead insisted that statements expressing patriarchal views (towards gay men or towards women) are “proof” of his guilt. Witness testimony has been taken out of context. Allegations—which are just that, allegations (they never were litigated)—by the woman that she was harassed and stalked are being treated as undisputed fact. Almost entirely ignored in this media frenzy has been the evidence of police law-breaking and intimidation, and prosecution's collusion with this, in the pursuit of locking Parker and Celestin up.**

To quote again from the piece about accusations leveled against Cosby:

“What we see in the way these media operate in situations such as this—a process that hardly involves even a pretense, let alone any real substance, of due process, which in fact such mass media are not designed or constituted to create—is a one-sided 'trial by media' and a 'media tyranny' where, once a person has been targeted, there is no real basis or possibility for them to defend themselves in any meaningful way—where denials are treated as evasions and yet more occasion for going after the person—and all this works, in very harmful ways, to create and reinforce the kind of culture and atmosphere that no decent human being should want.”

People Can Change, the System Cannot

Some have implied that if it's necessary for us all to continue to confront the history of slavery, it is hypocritical for Nate Parker to refuse to “relive that period of my life every time I go under the microscope."

This is wrong.

Bob Avakian, "The Oppression of Black People & the Revolutionary Struggle to End All Oppression"
Read more

America is a nation. It is founded on genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of millions of Africans and their descendants, the theft of half of Mexico. It did this through military devastation, lynch mobs, and terror. It has stretched its tentacles of exploitation and militarized murder to every corner of this planet. This is global, it’s systemic and it’s ongoing. America cannot be redeemed, it is the problem. Its true nature must be confronted, and it must be overthrown.

Nate Parker is an individual. He was 19 years old at the time of this incident. While, by all accounts, he behaved in ways that were dehumanizing and degrading to the young woman involved, he did not create the culture of rape and sexual predation which, undoubtedly, shaped his behavior. So, while it is important that Parker—like every other man who has oppressed and degraded women—confront the harm of this behavior, he must also be allowed to grow and to contribute to the world.

Think of the millions of people who have ended up in U.S. prisons not only because of injustice in the criminal system but also because of the way the dominant institutions and culture conditions people to prey upon each other. People who do wrong need to confront this and change. Most of all they need break out of this system's ways of thinking, transform themselves, and become part of putting an end to the system that is the source of the problem. This needs to not only be allowed, but encouraged.

In contrast, revenge—insisting that people can never rise above their lowest point—works against this. It can only contribute to further locking the horrors of this world into place.

Nate Parker Should NOT Be “Put Under a Microscope”

What should be said about Nate Parker? He has maintained his innocence of the charges (which he has legitimate right to do), he has been vindicated in court, and at the same time he seems to have confronted elements of his behavior and values that were reactionary and wrong. He has also indicated that he wants to continue to learn and transform more. He should be allowed to do that and, in fact, he should NOT be put “under a microscope,” to use his words.

People Must Stop Being Played and The Birth of a Nation Must Be Seen

All those who have been caught up in or confused by these attacks should stop allowing themselves to be played by larger forces inimical to the people’s interests. And those who have gone further than that, being whipped up by and getting into revenge, you need to think long and hard about who that serves and what values that reflects and how ugly that really is—and what kind of society you want to live in.

In conclusion, this film must be seen and then debated and judged on its merits. The efforts to prevent this from happening must be defeated. And people need to learn how to see through these destructive attacks.

See also:
My Piece on Nate Parker Was About What's True and What's Liberating
NOT "Whose Narrative" Will Get "Privileged"

by Sunsara Taylor

 


* I read all the closing arguments, read the main witness testimony people are claiming “seals the guilt” [it doesn’t], read Parker’s and Celestin’s statements read into the trial record, read the testimony of the accuser, read the lawsuit—filed a couple years later—by the Women’s Law Project against Penn State, read all available excerpts of the illegally recorded phone calls made of Nate Parker back then, and read everything I could find about why the conviction of Celestin was thrown out [reportedly because his attorney failed to object to the admission of hearsay evidence and to the admission of evidence obtained through an illegal phone recording] as well as why a retrial did not go forward. As this article was being posted I became aware of this Statement by four former Penn State Alumni who supported Parker then and support him now, which is worth reading, even as I have not been able to verify all that they say. [back]

** According to testimony in the trial transcript, police assisted the accuser in illegally recording a phone call of Nate Parker, a felony which carries a seven-year prison sentence; the same District Attorney who wrote the criminal charges against Parker and Celestin assured the officers who broke the law that they would not be prosecuted; and the judge allowed this illegally procured “evidence” to be admitted to the trial. Detective Chris Weaver, the main officer who investigated the case, admitted in court to threatening a key witness, and other accusations were made against him in court that he intimidated at least one other witness and the defendants (all of whom were Black). [back]

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/american-crime-83-the-US-Mexico-war-of-1846-1848-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

American Crime

Case #83: The U.S.-Mexico War of 1846-1848

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Bob Avakian recently wrote that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

Above: A massacre of Mexican civilians in a cave at Agua Nueva by American cavalry. One eyewitness wrote: "...The cave was full of volunteers, yelling like fiends, while on the rocky floor lay over twenty Mexicans, dead and dying in pools of blood, while women and children were clinging to the knees of the murderers and shrieking for mercy..."

 

 

Above (click map to enlarge): After the 1846 formal annexation of the slave-holding "Republic of Texas", U.S. armies invaded deep into Mexican territory from one end to the other. One half of Mexico was taken by the U.S. in the 1848 Treaty of Guadelupe Hidalgo that ended the war. Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans living in the stolen land were then subjected to conditions of poverty, exploitation and discrimination, which continues today.

 

 

The campaign for U.S. President in 1848 took place in the context of the predatory war by the U.S. against Mexico. The two major candidates vying for the nomination of the Whig Party were General Winfield Scott and General Zachary Taylor, both "heroes" who led assaults against Mexican cities and troops. The political cartoon above from 1848 depicts "the only qualification for a Whig president" to be how many people he murdered. (Image: Library of Congress)

THE CRIME: In the spring of 1846, U.S. President James Polk sent General Zachary Taylor and several thousand U.S. troops into what had been—before slave-holding settlers from the U.S. declared it an independent "Republic of Texas" in 1836—Mexican territory between the Nueces and Rio Grande Rivers, near the Gulf of Mexico, with the goal of provoking a war. When Taylor's troops arrived at the Mexican town of Matamoros on the Rio Grande and began menacing maneuvers, they were attacked by a force of Mexicans, just as Polk and his cabinet believed they would be. President Polk wasted no time in declaring Mexico guilty of aggression against the U.S.

On May 13, 1846, the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly to declare war on Mexico. And so began a war that resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives and the theft by the U.S. of more than half of Mexico's land.

After war was declared, General Taylor occupied Matamoros and U.S. soldiers carried out atrocities. When Taylor's army arrived in Monterrey, Mexico, west of Matamoros, a U.S. newspaper wrote: "As at Matamoros, murder, robbery, and rape were committed [by volunteer units of the U.S. Army that were closely tied to the slave-owning class in the U.S.] in the broad light of day, and as if desirous to signalize themselves at Monterrey by some new act of atrocity, they burned many of the thatched huts of the poor peasants. It is thought that one hundred of the inhabitants were murdered in cold blood, and one ... was shot to death at noon in the main street of the city."

U.S. reporters traveling with U.S. troops rarely wrote of these events, but some letters sent home by soldiers did. One Illinois army officer described a massacre by Arkansas volunteers. After one volunteer was killed by Mexicans in retribution for a raid on a ranch in Agua Nueva, where Arkansas volunteers robbed and raped the inhabitants, the Arkansas cavalry retaliated. They rounded up Mexican residents and herded them into a cave. The letter quoted a soldier who witnessed what happened:

The cave was full of volunteers, yelling like fiends, while on the rocky floor lay over twenty Mexicans, dead and dying in pools of blood, while women and children were clinging to the knees of the murderers and shrieking for mercy.

Shortly after war was declared, U.S. naval ships occupied the California port cities of San Pedro; Monterey, the Mexican capital of California; and Yerba Buena (later San Francisco). Other parts of California were also seized by U.S. forces. Mexican control of California ended.

As Taylor's army occupied the north, U.S. warships entered the port of the Gulf coast city of Veracruz in the south and laid siege to it, pummeling Veracruz for four days with 468,000 pounds of "shell and shot" until much of the city was in ruins. After this, General Winfield Scott's army landed and seized Veracruz, and then proceeded inland to Mexico City.

Scott's army entered Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, in September 1847. On February 2, 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, ending the war. The U.S. grabbed millions of square miles of Mexico encompassing the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Utah, Nevada, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Mexico suffered the crippling loss of 55 percent of its land and many Mexicans ended up on the U.S. side of the border where they faced humiliation, the theft of their land, and racist oppression.

THE CRIMINALS: Before running for president, James Polk, born to a wealthy slave-owning family and a slave owner himself, was a little-known politician. But he was backed in his bid for office by former president Andrew Jackson, a notorious slaver and butcher of Native American peoples, and an advocate for the expansion of slavery. Polk won the presidential election in 1844 and enthusiastically took up the cause of territorial expansion. The Polks brought their slaves to work in the White House.

General Taylor, sent to the Rio Grande valley to provoke war with Mexico, was also a slave owner who built up his military credentials in the wars of ethnic cleansing against the Black Hawk and Seminole native peoples.

General Scott oversaw the 1838 expulsion of 14,000 Cherokee from their lands in Georgia and other southeastern states, and their forced march to Oklahoma—the infamous "Trail of Tears" during which 4,000 Native people died of illness, starvation, and exposure.

Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson were all U.S. military officers in the Mexican war, and were later major figures fighting for slavery and the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War. And officers who ended up playing key roles in the U.S. Civil War on the side of the North were also officers in the U.S. army that invaded Mexico, including Ulysses S. Grant and George McClellan. As befit an army of slave owners, exploiters, and oppressors, the officers of the U.S. army all had servants, mostly Black people. Officers from the slave states, and even some from the "free" states, had slaves with them to do their bidding.

U.S. newspapers mainly lauded the war as a great, noble affair demonstrating U.S. superiority and the racial superiority of white Americans. They failed to report on the crimes carried out by U.S. troops. But there were abolitionists (anti-slavery groups) that opposed the war. One abolitionist paper, the Ashtabula Sentinel of Ohio, wrote, not "a hundredth part of the crimes committed by our troops are published, or ever come to the knowledge of our people."

THE ALIBI: President Polk falsely claimed that Mexico was the real aggressor. After he had sent troops to Mexican territory to provoke a conflict, Polk boldly lied, "After reiterated menaces, Mexico has passed the boundary of the United States, has invaded our territory and shed American blood upon the American soil." The New Orleans Bulletin wrote in a tone somewhat typical of the time, "The United States have borne more insult, abuse, insolence and injury, from Mexico, than one nation ever before endured from another.... They are left no alternative but to extort by arms, the respect and justice which Mexico refuses, to any treatment less harsh."

Major political figures, intellectuals, and U.S. media of the day promoted the concept of "Manifest Destiny," the idea that white Europeans were ordained by God to dominate the American continent and lord it over the "lesser races." Newspapers relentlessly portrayed Mexicans in ugly and racist ways. Journalists traveling with U.S. troops were quick to condemn Mexico's system of debt peonage but almost never mentioned the servants and slaves of U.S. officers unless, as often happened, they deserted to Mexico.

THE REAL MOTIVE: The war of conquest of Mexican land was the culmination of a decades-long effort to open up territory for the expansion of the slave system. White settlers seeking to expand slavery moved into Texas beginning in the 1820s. Mexico abolished slavery in 1829-30, and slave owners in Texas revolted and, in 1836, declared independence for the "Republic of Texas" in the Mexican province of Tejas. In 1845, the U.S. government formally annexed Texas, making it part of the United States.

The 1845 seizure and annexation of Texas from Mexico's poorly defended and lightly populated northern territories whetted the appetite of powerful groups of U.S. slave holders and capitalists hungry to grab the land, riches, and the strategic position of Mexico's northern territories.

Order Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy

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Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Powerful ruling groups supported the war against Mexico. They represented rival and exploitive modes of producing wealth. One mode was slavery, and the other was capitalism. The slave-owning class looked to Mexican lands to expand slavery and bring in new slave states to increase their political power. The capitalists eyed Mexican territory for its mineral resources and land. They also wanted West Coast ports for the great advantages it would give merchant capitalists in trade competition with England and France over China.

(In contrast to this, it is inspiring that during the war, between 175 and several hundred largely European immigrant soldiers deserted the U.S. Army and fought on Mexico's side. Called the Saint Patrick's Battalion, they're still honored in Mexico. By 1848 most had been captured and tried by the U.S. military. Some 50 were executed over several days—collectively the largest mass execution in U.S. history.)

REPEAT OFFENDERS: The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) between Mexico and the U.S. ended the war. It promised constitutional rights to Mexicans in the Southwest of what was now U.S. territory, declaring they "shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty and property." This treaty and a protocol guaranteed the Mexican people their land grants, language, and civil rights. In reality, the U.S. immediately began a process of seizing millions of acres of land that had been legally guaranteed to Mexican people, ultimately forcing hundreds of thousands into desperate conditions of poverty and exploitation, and subjecting them to outrageous discrimination by treating them as "foreigners" on the land that the U.S. had seized.

 

Sources:

Amy S. Greenberg, A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico (Alfred A. Knopf, 2012)

Norman A. Graebner, Empire on the Pacific: A Study in American Continental Expansion(Regina Books 1983)

Juan Gonzales, Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America (Viking Penguin 2000)

"Mexican Independence from Spain, and the U.S.-Mexican War," Revolution/revcom.us, May 20, 2007

 

 

 

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REVOLUTION AND RELIGION The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian
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BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian
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WHAT HUMANITY NEEDS Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism
You Don't Know What You Think You 'Know' About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation Its History and Our Future Interview with Raymond Lotta
The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need

 


 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/carl-dix-colin-kaepernick-put-it-on-the-line-what-will-you-do-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Statement from Carl Dix:

Colin Kaepernick Put It on the Line Against the National Anthem! What Will You Do?

August 28, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

National Football League quarterback Colin Kaepernick called it right when he refused to stand up for the national anthem, saying: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in the flag of a country that oppresses Black people and people of color.” What is there to celebrate about the history of America? It being founded on stealing the land from the native inhabitants? It developing its wealth and power based on the enslavement of Black people? The invasions of Mexico and many other countries in the Caribbean and South America? What is there to celebrate in what America does today? The way women are subjected to disrespect and brutality? The massive deportation raids that tear families apart and disappear people? The wars for empire that devastate countries and force people to flee their homelands? America is not now and never was great! Kaepernick took a heroic stand when he said he wasn’t going to show pride in this country while the bodies of Black people killed by police pile up in the streets.

What about you?

Kaepernick put a lot on the line in making this stand. Sports figures who have refused to go along with enforced patriotism and worship of America in the past have paid a heavy toll. Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight boxing championship when he refused induction into the U.S. Army because he saw that the real enemy of Black people was in this country, not the poor people in Vietnam fighting to free their country. For taking this stand, they stripped him of his heavyweight boxing championship, which cost him millions of dollars he could have earned. Even knowing this, Kaepernick said, “If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Kaepernick is putting a whole lot on the line, and he’s doing the right thing! We must ALL have his back.

The killing will not stop just because people tweet about it, or because they grumble about it when yet another video of a modern-day lynching by police hits the news. People have to put themselves on the line. Even when the risk is great. I learned this 46 years ago when I refused to go to Vietnam and kill for this country. I was sentenced to two years in military prison for this, but I kept my humanity—and helped stop a genocidal war.

Colin Kaepernick saw the video of the police murder of Alton Sterling. In response, he said: “This is what lynchings look like in 2016! Another murder in the streets because the color of a man’s skin, at the hands of the people who they say will protect us. When will they be held accountable?” And he took a bold stand to stop this from happening again and again. You have seen the videos of police gunning people down, beating them to death, tasing and choking them to death. What are YOU going to do? What are YOU going to put on the line to stop this genocide?

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/green-party-convention-digging-into-what-it-will-really-take-to-change-the-world-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Digging Into What It Will Really Take to Change the World at the Green Party Convention

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

After Bernie Sanders endorsed Hillary Clinton, a lot of people started checking out the Green Party for the first time. Registration for their national convention spiked. I decided to go down there, to learn what was motivating people and to get into what it will really take for humanity to get free. I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of the conversations I got into with the readers of www.revcom.us.

Read Message | Download PDF 11x17"

Listen to audio of the Message, recorded by members of the Revolution Club

The first night, before things got started, I approached a group of new volunteers to learn why they had gotten involved. We ended up talking at length about the Message from the Revolutionary Communist Party’s Central Committee and the polemic published by www.revcom.us aimed at the Greens (a team handed out hundreds of each throughout the convention).

A white woman asked whether we would ban small entrepreneurs like her brother. I pulled back the lens and explained why, after the revolution, we will abolish all forms of capitalist enterprise (not all at once)—making clear that we don’t see small-business owners as the enemy, but that any system based on socialized production and private appropriation inevitably leads to gross concentrations of wealth and vast immiseration. She got angry, “How dare you communists say my brother doesn’t deserve to get ahead!?”

While making clear that I have no reason to doubt that her brother works very hard, I explained calmly, 1) even his experience of working hard, yet getting burned, demonstrates how capitalism cannot be made to work for “the little guy,” and 2) I doubt very much that her brother—without detracting from him—works harder than the children in Bangladesh making our clothes. She walked off in a huff. But a young Latina from McAllen (a town with a lot of poverty on the U.S./Mexico border), had been nodding every time I spoke about the people in the sweatshops or fields. She asked whether it was really impossible to regulate capitalism, so we got into this.

A Black man joined in, arguing that religion is the source of patriarchy and is the real root problem. I united with much of what he said, but argued that he was missing the deeper forces that gave rise to the problems he correctly identified with religion—changes in the mode of production. Patriarchy (the enslavement and domination of women by men) did not emerge until human societies developed the ability to produce a surplus beyond what is needed for day-to-day survival. With this, it became possible for one group (class) to live off the labor of others, and men began to strictly control the reproduction and sexuality and lives of women in order to ensure that the children born to his wife were really his children and not someone else’s—in order to make sure his children inherited his wealth and social position.

I had lunch with the guy the next day. He wants to abolish money and we got into how money is only an outward expression of commodity production and the law of value, so really it is necessary to abolish all this. Bob Avakian gets into this further here. This guy also hoped that by taking over school boards and getting Greens on the ballot in local areas, they could undermine capitalism from within. We walked through different scenarios and how the capitalist state and its representatives would come down on you as soon as you came close to challenging anything fundamental about their system. We got into the need to overthrow this system and implement a new state power, genuine socialism on the road to communism as envisioned in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. This became something of a theme of the arguments/discussions I got into—and our polemic on the Greens was very relevant.

BA on elections

Some stubbornly refused to acknowledge limitations in their electoral take-over model, but others (like this guy), would acknowledge these limitations but then come up against what they saw as the “impossibility” of overthrowing this system. But overthrowing this system is not impossible. We got into the RCP’s strategy for this (both parts—political and organizational preparation today, and with the emergence of a major revolutionary crisis in the future, an all-out fight for the seizure of power). Interwoven with this was repeated struggle over what is in the first essay in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian on “Reform or Revolution”; i.e., the need to go for breaking free the antibiotics because that is what it will really take, not just nursing the sick as they die [read the essay to really understand this]. Also, I struggled with him and others, “You have no idea what is possible because you haven’t engaged the work that has been done on this yet—which you have a responsibility to do.” Some were interested in getting into this, but they also seemed scared by it.

~~~~~~~~~~

Some at the convention recognized the Revcoms—from Ferguson, from Twitter, from the recent protests against the Democratic and Republican conventions. A Latino guy who does a Bernie blog (now a Jill Stein blog) said, “Yeah, I saw you all over Philadelphia—'We are the Revcoms, the mighty, mighty Revcoms!’”

With a trio of “Bernie or Busters,” I got into a good argument. They initially claimed that our flag-burning at the DNC had disrupted their protests, but I shifted this onto what the flag represents and they backed up significantly. Then we got into struggle over whether the problem was that the DNC was undemocratic and squashed Bernie or whether it is part of a capitalist dictatorship that must be overthrown.

An Iraq war vet listened in. Later, he complained about the U.S.’s wars based on how ill-treated vets were, but I sharply posed that wasn’t the essential problem and got into the quote from BA, “American Lives Are NOT More Important Than Other People’s Lives.” (BAsics 5:7) After some back and forth, he opened up a flood of horrific shit he’d witnessed or been part of. Being in Sadr City when the U.S. imposed a shoot-to-kill curfew, watching a woman bleed to death while being denied medical aid by U.S. soldiers, being screamed at by his commanding officer for not shooting a kid who threw a rock at their tank, watching Iraqi kids try to make ends meet by selling porn to the soldiers, and more. It was wrenching for him to talk about this, and he noted a couple times that a lot of folks would be mad at him for speaking of this stuff. I listened and encouraged him to confront what he had been part of and said he’d been used for something truly horrible and he had a responsibility to bring that experience to bear as part of stopping those very crimes from continuing.

A couple days later we caught up again. He had studied the Message and the polemic and said he agreed with everything except burning the flag, because so many of his buddies died believing in it. We argued vigorously over this. He, like most people, really doesn’t know America’s crimes (everyone needs to read and spread this series!) Interspersed with exposing this country’s crimes, I posed that it was the flag that turned him and his buddies into mindless killing machines and then tossed people onto the garbage heap. “Still, they believed in that flag when they died,” he argued. I asked if his sister was killed by an abuser, would he refuse to call the bastard a killer just because his sister thought she was in love with him? He stopped arguing and then admitted, with a wry smile, that he would probably go much further than calling the bastard a killer. Part of our discussion was also over whether there was anything good in the founders’ vision, getting into the role of slavery and white supremacy as a key part of this.

He asked if I was paid to be there. He’d heard that people are paid to cause divisions and linked this to how “outside agitators will be bused in to cause riots and burn down buildings.” We got into the need to go to substance and program, not rumors. Being “divisive” can be good at times and wrong at times, how do you know? I argued that it is important to play out a political program—what happens if you implement it, where will it lead? We got into the program of the Greens, much of it is aiming for good things, but these things can’t be realized in the way they propose. I walked through how the RCP’s program can lead to real emancipation, not just here but for people worldwide. So, this is worth struggling over with substance, arguing in a good and comradely way because it matters to the lives of billions around the world.

       

He objected to playing out the political programs into the future because it goes against the practice of “mindfulness” (focusing on the present), which is part of PTSD treatment. I argued that while there are probably important therapeutic benefits to that in one’s day-to-day functioning, it would be irresponsible to take that approach to changing the world. I asked if he would accept that approach from a doctor if his child were seriously ill: “Oh, who knows if the treatment will work, let’s just live in the moment.” He said no way. We got further into how to think critically and scientifically, how to sort out what differences matter, etc. I had already urged him to read BAsics, but now I emphasized the importance of the essay, “‘A Leap of Faith’ and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods.” There are a lot of people like him, especially out of the military, who have a deep sense they’ve been lied to but don’t know how to figure out who or what to “trust.” This essay really could make a big difference for them.

~~~~~~~~~~

A workshop titled “The State of Black America” began by touching on the murders of Black people by police, but ended up focusing almost entirely on “perceptions of Blackness” and micro-aggressions. After a while, I posed that there is much that is real and extremely degrading that was being exposed in this examination of micro-aggressions against Black people, but that we have to confront there is a deeper problem. There is a state that was built on white supremacy and slavery and exploitation and is now carrying out a genocide against Black people and other crimes, and we need to overthrow that state or Black people will never get free. The heroic civil rights and Black liberation struggles of the 1960s accomplished a great deal, including widely changing the perceptions of Blackness among millions and millions of people. But the state was not overthrown, revolution was not made, so the system has hit back with a vengeance. This is why Black people are being gunned down, and this is even why the kind of racist shit the workshop leader was exposing has been given renewed initiative, and this is why the most important thing is to make an actual revolution.

A couple people snapped their fingers in approval but the workshop leader declared this was “A perfect example of white people not being good allies.” She said, “I was sharing my pain and a white person says I’m not doing it right.” This was bullshit on several levels and has nothing to do with liberating Black people or anyone else. It was just a cheap way to avoid the substance of what I had said, which she clearly disagreed with but didn’t want to admit (she claimed that “everyone already knows” what I had said and she herself is working on it, and then went on to promote her campaign for office as part of this system). A couple people approached me later, drawn by my comments.

On Saturday night, I ended up basically holding a rolling session during the convention party. A student who is reading Capital wanted to know more about communism. Another guy running for office insisted that his ability to build solar energy in his county was a model for ending fossil fuels and poverty and all over the world. We argued. Even if everything he claimed were true in his county, I argued, that could not be “scaled up” to do what’s needed to deal with the capitalist state and build a whole new system and economy. I brought out the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. Without responding to the real-world problems that I had posed, he stubbornly insisted that what he had done in his county was enough. I would’ve walked away except the student was listening intently and then others drew in. This turned into a ferocious argument, over politics, over “for whom and for what,” history, methodology and epistemology, morality, and more.

At one point, I was setting the record straight on what was accomplished under Mao (great advances in life-expectancy, literacy, social relations, breaking down the mental/manual division, etc.). He responded, “That is what technology is doing everywhere—improving conditions of life.” I called bullshit, posing—for the umpteenth time—that he was completely obliterating the lives of billions around the world. Under capitalism technological advances have allowed for pockets of “improvement” at the cost of billions of lives, including 10 million children who die of preventable disease every year. That he can’t see the difference between improving the lives of everyone and devastating millions of lives while a tiny handful live in opulent wealth is proof of either his profound ignorance or profound indifference to humanity or both. The changing group that joined in largely shared this guy’s prejudices, but not his belligerence, and they were increasingly moved. Several gave me their contact info.

A white guy in his 20s who is running for office wanted to know what I thought of Richard Wolff, then of Thomas Piketty. He had read their books, also watched the Dialogue on Revolution and Religion between Cornel West and Bob Avakian, and we ended up in a deep discussion about why BA is the Karl Marx of our time. We also got into the dirty little secret of capitalist exploitation and the driving force of anarchy. Breaking this down goes beyond the scope of this snapshot, but we spent quite a bit of time on it—and I recommend these pieces to learn more: “The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism,” “The Dirty Little Secret of Capitalist Exploitation,” and “On the ‘Driving Force of Anarchy’ and the Dynamics of Change.” We got into the need to overthrow the system and implement a totally different mode of production and state (not reform or regulate this one). He was very thoughtful and I urged him—and he seemed eager—to read The New Communism.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/standing-up-against-murder-by-stockton-police-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

From Revolution Club, SF Bay Area:

Standing Up Against Murder by Stockton Police... and Struggling Against False Paths

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Three Strikes...

Colby Friday
Colby Friday

On August 16, the Runaway Slave Patrol, I mean the Stockton Police, gunned down another young Black man, 30-year-old Colby Friday. The pig approached Colby because he “fit the description” of a “suspect” (turned out it was the wrong guy), then gunned him down as he was running away. Eyewitnesses said that the pig—notorious K9 Unit pig David Wells—started shooting when Colby stopped to pick up his cell phone, and then kept shooting when he was down, riddling his body with bullets.

Then the police came up with the story: “While he was running, Friday dropped his handgun... Wells ordered him not to pick up the weapon, but Friday bent over and grabbed the gun... That’s when Wells, fearing for his safety and the safety of others, opened fire.” This is just BULLSHIT, typical pig justification, which the media picked up and ran, along with the description of Colby, “a documented gang member with prior arrests,” and David Wells, a veteran “who was named the Italian Athletic Club’s Officer of the Year in 2015.”

Everything about this FITS THE DESCRIPTION of this damn system, and what it does to people every damn day in this country. Why did the pigs come after Colby in the first place? Hmm, young Black man with dreads. Why did he run? Hmm, why might a Black man in Amerikkka run when he sees the police? Maybe it’s because anyone that’s been paying any attention knows that ANY encounter could end in a death sentence for any reason or no reason at all. Maybe it’s because they have CRIMINALIZED a whole generation of Black youth which this capitalist system has no jobs and no future for. Maybe that’s why Colby ran, because he already had “two strikes” on his record and was one of the millions of people in this country pushed and forced by this system to live in a constant state of being “on the run.” But the deeper truth is, as Bob Avakian said, THIS SYSTEM HAS THREE STRIKES.

Bob Avakian: Police murder... and the murderous logic of this system's election game.

The next day, the Revolution Club was on the scene in Stockton at the site of the murder, along with family members, friends, activists, and neighbors who came to tell what they had witnessed and pay their respects. We got out copies of the Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution,” to everyone there. We showed people Bob Avakian’s video clip, “Police murder... and the murderous logic of this system’s election game.” We listened to friends and family tell us what kind of person Colby was, an artist, a rapper, a good guy. We listened to people speak about the situation in Stockton, one of the poorest cities in California, where people told us that 10 percent of the total population of the city has a felony on their record. And we struggled with people over the root of all this and what it’s really gonna take to uproot it.

We struggled against some of the false paths being put forward about working with politicians and police to “improve police/community relations.” All this is just another means to the same end of violently maintaining control over oppressed people, a velvet glove on the same iron fist, and just more of that old “good cop/bad cop” trick they play. Don’t be played!

And even more, is our goal to get these oppressors to listen to us, or is our goal to overthrow them and end oppression? But as one woman said, “people need hope.” Yes, but first they need to confront reality and cast off illusions. No, it’s not the easy road of hoping this system will listen to us and change, which is a false hope which just serves to keep people enslaved... but yes, there is the real hope of revolution. This system in this country is full of cracks, and there is a strategy to work now to bring it down at the soonest possible time. There is a plan for a much better society Day 1 after the revolution. And there is highly advanced leadership in Bob Avakian (BA) leading this movement for revolution now. These questions of reform vs. revolution, and the need to take a scientific vs. a faith-based approach, were big topics of discussion throughout the day.

We also showed people the MSNBC video of the Revolution Club at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to give people a sense of how this revolutionary force is impacting the larger world, and to bring them into the battle to drop the charges against those arrested at the convention, and give them a sense that this is how the revolution advances—through fighting back against the counter-revolutionary attacks like these charges. And we struggled with people over the role that they can play, in digging deeper into BA, into the science of revolution, and in spreading this message as they learn more. Several people took stacks of the Message with plans to get them out in different places in Stockton, and several people said they want to be involved with the Revolution Club.

We struggled with people over the Revolution Club’s Points of Attention. In particular, point 4 about the revolutionary potential of the most oppressed, after someone made the comment that we wouldn’t want to talk with someone like him who “fits the description.” And we got into it around point 2, “Women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades,” after someone said that he only talks “man to man” and doesn’t speak to or listen to “females.”

As we were arguing with this guy, someone told us, “Stop arguing, we’re here for Colby, not for this.” I said, we ARE here for Colby, but we’re also here to change the world, so that this doesn’t keep happening. And this patriarchal mentality is just slave-master thinking, and keeps the world the way it is. I asked them, what if a white person said, “I only talk to or listen to white people”? That seemed to change people’s perspective on it.

All in all, we thought it was important to change our plans as soon as we heard about what happened and come out to Stockton. As the RCP letter to the Revolution Clubs says, “This will be a time when the clubs will have to be even more at the forefront of the sharp struggles that jump off, or can be jumped off, around the genocidal program of police terror and mass incarceration; against the demonization and repression of immigrants; the oppression and degradation of women; the capitalist plunder of the environment; and the wars of empire that these imperialists are constantly waging, openly and through other forces who do their dirty work.”

Plans are in the works for protests against the cold-blooded murder of Colby Friday.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/la-revolution-club-in-response-to-attacks-lies-slander-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

A Statement from the Revolution Club, Los Angeles, in response to attacks, lies and slander being spread by an array of opportunists and counter-revolutionaries:

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We base ourselves on and proceed from the fundamental, scientifically-grounded understanding that police brutality and murder, mass incarceration and the overall oppression of Black people, Latinos, and other oppressed peoples (the essence of which is captured in the first of the 5 Stops: “STOP—Genocidal Persecution, Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder of Black and Brown People!”), as well as what is concentrated in the others of the 5 Stops*, cannot be eliminated under this system, and only an actual revolution can bring about the fundamental change that is needed (and if any of the various opportunists et. al., want to argue that all this can be eliminated under this system, let’s hear it!). We base ourselves not only on this scientifically-grounded understanding of the problem but also the solution—the science and the political strategy and program, that is needed to overthrow this system and bring into being a radically different and far better system, based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—and the leadership that has brought this forward: Bob Avakian, the new synthesis of communism, and the Revolutionary Communist Party, which has this new synthesis as its scientific basis for carrying out the revolution that is needed (and, if any of these opportunists have a different solution, which will actually deal with the real problem, again let’s hear it!). 

Yes, such a revolution—and, for that matter, meaningful resistance to the injustices and atrocities continually spewed forth by this system—will require self-sacrificing struggle on the part of everyone who is serious about going up against and finally putting an end to these outrages. We should all recognize that horror upon horror will be visited upon the masses of people, here and throughout the world, and the very existence and future of humanity will be threatened, so long as this system continues to rule and dominate the world. We should all cast away any illusions that ending the oppression, degradation, and destruction perpetrated by this system can somehow be achieved without great struggle and real sacrifice—that somehow “safe spaces” can be found within the confines of this monstrous system.  We should all be oriented and prepared to make the necessary sacrifices that are required to bring an end to this madness.

For our part, we seek to unite all who can be united in fighting the monstrous crimes of this system (as concentrated again in the 5 Stops), even as we, once again proceeding on the basis of the scientifically-grounded understanding of the problem and solution, work to have all this contribute to the actual revolution that is urgently needed—an approach which is concentrated in the formulation: Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.  At the same time, while we seek to unite with all who genuinely oppose and resist the crimes of the system, as for those opportunists who are intent on preserving this system and carving out a niche for themselves within it—and those who try to treat oppression and the fight against it as something they have a “right” to “own”—we will never go along with their attempts to dictate who can be involved in the fight against this system and its crimes, and how that fight has to be waged. To go along with that would do great harm to the masses of people, here and throughout the world, who are brutally oppressed by and suffer terribly under this system. Where such opportunists go beyond mere attempts to dictate the terms of things in this way, and engage in vicious lies and slanders about those who understand the need for and are actively working for an actual revolution—and especially where they attempt to carry out physical attacks on the revolutionaries—we will not tolerate this, and we will expose this and those who carry it out as doing the dirty work of the enemy and serving not the people but this oppressive system and the murderous forces who rule it. It is the fundamental interests of the masses of humanity, here and throughout the world—their need for a radical, emancipating revolution—that has to set the terms and be the standard, and not the petty inclinations and ambitions of those who are determined to obstruct the development of this urgently needed revolution.


*The Five Stops:
STOP—GENOCIDAL PERSECUTION, MASS INCARCERATION, POLICE BRUTALITY AND MURDER OF BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE!
STOP—THE PATRIARCHAL DEGRADATION, DEHUMANIZATION AND SUBJUGATION OF ALL WOMEN EVERYWHERE, AND ALL OPPRESSION BASED ON GENDER OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION!
STOP—WARS OF EMPIRE, ARMIES OF OCCUPATION, AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY!
STOP—THE DEMONIZATION, CRIMINALIZATION AND DEPORTATIONS OF IMMIGRANTS AND THE MILITARIZATION OF THE BORDER!
STOP—CAPITALISM-IMPERIALISM FROM DESTROYING OUR PLANET!

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/american-crime-82-hurricane-katrina-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

American Crime

Case #82: Murderous Neglect and Repression After Hurricane Katrina

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Bob Avakian recently wrote that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME:

People in New Orleans who were abandoned by the system carry their possessions through the flooded streets, August 31, 2005.

The true story of Katrina reveals the utterly worthless nature of this system and why and how things do not have to be like this. Above: People in New Orleans who were abandoned by the system carry their possessions through the flooded streets, August 31, 2005. (AP photo)

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the city of New Orleans, bringing terrible destruction. But the human suffering and death that followed was not, overwhelmingly, a result of the storm itself. It was a crime of this system.

Days before Katrina hit, meteorologists predicted a serious hurricane, saying the city, about half of which is between one and seven feet below sea level, should be evacuated. But the government did nothing to evacuate the city, stranding close to 100,000 people—people of all walks of life, but especially poor and Black people who did not have any means to leave.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to ensure that the city’s levees could adequately hold in such a storm, and when they collapsed, floodwaters rose 20 feet in parts of New Orleans, and 80 percent of the city went under water. Neighborhoods below sea level, many of them poor and Black areas, were the most vulnerable to flooding. Nearly 2,000 died in the days after Hurricane Katrina hit, about 1,500 of them in New Orleans.

There was no help for tens of thousands of desperate people stuck for days on the roofs of houses in 100-degree heat with nothing to eat or drink. Bodies of poor and Black people were left for days, weeks—floating in water, on sidewalks, underneath debris, decomposing, mangled. The system attacked those distributing desperately needed food and water, calling them “looters.” 30,000 National Guard soldiers occupied the city to “restore law and order” and repress people.

There are several accounts from police themselves who say they were told to “shoot looters,” “take back the city,” and “do what you have to do.” The police shot at least 11 people in the days after Katrina. On September 1, some people tried to get to safety by crossing a bridge into Jefferson Parish and police lined up with shotguns and wouldn’t let them cross.

Lance Madison is arrested by Louisiana State Police and New Orleans Police Department SWAT teams Sept. 4, 2005.
Lance Madison is arrested by Louisiana State Police and New Orleans Police Department SWAT teams Sept. 4, 2005. His brother, Ronald Madison, along with James Brissette, was gunned down by cops that day as they attempted to walk across the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans. (AP photo)

On September 4, the cops fired at a group of people trying to walk across the Danziger Bridge, which spans the Industrial Canal in New Orleans. 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who was mentally disabled, had a hole torn through his spine and chest, shot in the back with a shotgun by a cop, who then proceeded to kick him mercilessly. Seventeen-year-old James Brissette was also killed and four others were severely wounded.

Seven thousand prisoners, mostly poor and Black, were left locked in their cells as water flooded the prison and guards left. For days, prisoners were trapped with no food, water, or needed medication and had to resort to drinking contaminated floodwater containing raw sewage. Prisoners said deputy snipers shot at anyone who tried to get out of the flooded, suffocating buildings. When deputies came back into the prison building, they didn’t come with food, water, or any other kind of help. Instead, they came with riot gear, shotguns, mace, batons, tasers, and brutality, and prisoners were evacuated under inhuman and brutal conditions.

SWAT team drives past flood victims waiting at the Convention Center in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005.

People herded into a virtual concentration camp at the Superdome.Over 25,000 people were subjected to slave ship conditions at the Superdome and Convention Center. People were herded in and locked up to wait to be evacuated, treated -- not like victims who had just experienced a horrible natural disaster, with many not even knowing the fate of other family members—but like prisoners and animals, subjected to the most inhumane, unsanitary conditions, having to face National Guard troops with assault rifles, ready to shoot.

Above: a SWAT team drives past flood victims waiting at the Convention Center in New Orleans, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005. Right: people herded into a virtual concentration camp at the Superdome. (AP photos)

Over 25,000 people were subjected to slave-ship conditions at the Superdome and Convention Center. People were herded in and locked up to wait to be evacuated, treated not like victims—who had just experienced a horrible natural disaster, with many not even knowing the fate of other family members—but like prisoners and animals, subjected to the most inhumane, unsanitary conditions, having to face National Guard troops with assault rifles, ready to shoot. People suffered from dehydration and were surrounded by disease-ridden water.

When the government finally evacuated people from the Superdome on September 1, they herded tens of thousands onto buses with one-way tickets to 44 different states. People didn’t know where they were going. Families were separated, children ripped away from their parents. People were treated like criminals or potential criminals. Background checks were done when people checked into shelters. Some were jailed on old warrants; some immigrants were deported. One resident recalled: “With the evacuation scattering my family all over the United States, I felt like it was an ancient memory, as if we had been up on an auction block.” This was not the only person who talked about how this echoed families being separated during slavery.

THE CRIMINALS:

President George W. Bush was on a month-long vacation when Katrina hit and stayed on vacation for two full days as the government left people utterly at the mercy of the unfolding disaster. Then, rather than visit New Orleans, he did a flyover on his way back to Washington DC, viewing the carnage from Air Force One—up where he couldn't smell the stench of rotting bodies and see the misery of the people. White House officials who blatantly ignored the suffering. In the days after the storm hit: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice took a vacation and went shopping for designer shoes; Vice President Dick Cheney went fly fishing.

Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, who when she sent in National Guard troops, said: “They have M-16s and they’re locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will.”

FEMA blocked efforts by regular people and even businesses to provide relief. They blocked a hotel’s plan to hire 10 buses to take about 500 people to higher ground; turned away a Walmart truck loaded with water; and wouldn’t allow into the area other non-governmental and volunteer groups who wanted to bring in things like food and water. When Bush did finally go to New Orleans five days after the storm hit, he congratulated the head of FEMA, Michael D. Brown, saying, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

The National Guard and the New Orleans Police: Before the storm even hit, Governor Blanco gave authorities power to suspend civil liberties. In the media, people desperately trying to survive were demonized as “dangerous armed gangs of looters.” National Guard soldiers and cops were given a green light to heartlessly and brutally attack people trying to survive. The commander of Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force said: “This place is going to look like Little Somalia”—referring to the 1993 U.S. invasion of that impoverished and plundered African country where U.S. troops terrorized the population with heavily armed raids until they were driven out.

       

THE ALIBI: The U.S Army Corps of Engineers tried to say the levees failed because Katrina was just too big. But they later conceded the levees failed because of flawed engineering and botched tests that should have determined soil stability below the levees. The Corps and local levee boards that maintain flood barriers had not wanted to spend the necessary money to maintain/improve the levees.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he and Bush “were deeply and personally engaged” before and after the hurricane hit and laid much of the blame on the governor of Louisiana and FEMA’s head, Michael D. Brown. Chertoff said they got conflicting information about what was happening. In fact, the governor declared a state of emergency three days before Katrina hit, and then reports, videos, and photos of people’s desperate situation were all over the news.

FEMA deliberately slowed down relief efforts, saying it wanted to coordinate assistance—it urged fire and emergency services departments not to respond to counties and states affected by Katrina without being requested and dispatched by state and local authorities under mutual aid agreements.

Brutal repression, including cops shooting people, was justified by saying “law and order” had to be restored and that people were looting.

THE MOTIVE: In the context of an enormous natural disaster, which the system had refused to prepare for, a combination of a long history of racism built into every level of economic, political, and social aspects of society; and conscious policy on the part of federal, state, and local governments—led to what amounted to ethnic cleansing and crimes against the poor. This connected up to a whole legacy of slavery and the oppression of Black people—going back to when New Orleans was a major center for the selling of slaves, and carried out by a system that has always treated Black people as exploitable, expendable, and undesirable.

Katrina provided the opportunity for government policies that amounted to trying to make the city “less Black” and “less poor.” Efforts to rebuild the devastated, mostly Black sections of the city were stymied and stopped by government policies. Public housing, home to poor and Black people, was bulldozed even when it was sound and could have been made habitable. Louisiana Congressman Richard Baker said, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did it.” Today, New Orleans has 100,000 fewer Black people than it did when Katrina hit.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/the-blood-of-yemeni-children-is-on-americas-imperialist-hands-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

What Does It Say When a Hospital Is Deliberately Bombed?

The Blood of Yemeni Children is on America's Imperialist Hands

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

What does it say when a hospital is deliberately bombed? It says the bombers are targeting the injured, the sick, the elderly, and the children. That the war-wounded don’t deserve medical care. That there’s no place safe from the bombs, nowhere to go. And that the bombers are willing to inflict savage violence regardless of law, morality, or public opinion. In short, bombing a hospital delivers a barbaric message of mass terror.

On August 15, Saudi planes bombed the Doctors Without Borders run Abs Hospital compound in northern Yemen.
On August 15, Saudi planes bombed the Doctors Without Borders run Abs Hospital compound in northern Yemen. At least 19 were killed, including three Yemeni members of Doctors Without Borders (also known as MSF). Dozens more were wounded, including three foreign doctors. (Photo: MSF)

That’s the message that was delivered on August 15 by Saudi Arabia’s warplanes and America’s bombs.

Saudi planes bombed the Doctors Without Borders run Abs Hospital compound in northern Yemen. Doctors and nurses were caring for 25 expectant mothers in the maternity ward. “The emergency room had been full of patients when it was hit,” the New York Times (August 15, 2016) reported. “Many of the victims were badly burned...and body parts were scattered around the site.” At least 19 were killed, including three Yemeni members of Doctors Without Borders. Dozens more were wounded, including three foreign doctors.

The Saudis claim they’re investigating, and insist they only hit military targets. But they had the hospital’s GPS coordinates, and Yemeni officials say the closest military target was more than 30 miles away. And this wasn’t the first Saudi attack on Doctors Without Borders hospitals. It was the fourth. Now Saudi Arabia’s “indiscriminate bombings” and refusal to guarantee it won’t happen again has forced Doctors Without Borders to pull 550 staff members from six hospitals in Yemen, a country whose bare-bones medical infrastructure has already been shattered by Saudi Arabia’s 17-month-long war.

“We basically want to wipe out the Houthis”

Where Are the Images of Yemen's Dead and Wounded Children?

Read more

The hospital bombing is just one example of Saudi Arabia’s savage war on Yemen’s Houthi movement and Shia population. Since it began in March 2015, the Saudis have systematically targeted civilians—and the civilian infrastructure. They’ve bombed schools, warehouses, markets, food factories, water distributors, bridges, and roads. The Saudis haven’t just bombed, they’ve enforced a blockade that’s cut off food, medicine, fuel, and other needed goods. Their war has been a massive, criminal act of collective punishment against Yemen’s people.

A week before the hospital bombing, the Saudis bombed a small market in northern Yemen, killing a dozen civilians. People were afraid to rush to help the victims for fear the Saudis would bomb the rescuers, as they’ve done before. Two days before it bombed a neighborhood and religious school, killing at least 19, 10 of them children. During this period the Saudis destroyed a bridge vital to the food deliveries—increasing the hunger of millions.

Since March 2015, between 6,500 and 7,000 people have been killed. The UN estimates that over 500 children have been killed by U.S-Saudi bombings. More than 2.5 million have been forced from their homes. And one of the world’s most impoverished countries has been plunged into an abyss of suffering and starvation: 21 million of Yemen’s 28 million people are in need of humanitarian aid and half are on the brink of starvation. These are percentages of the population that dwarf even the horrendous—and much more widely publicized—carnage in Syria. “Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years,” the head of the international Red Cross declared.

The evidence points to the targeting of a wide swath of Yemen’s population as being part of a deliberate strategy. According to Harper’s magazine contributor Andrew Cockburn, the Saudi rulers told a top Obama administration official:

“Well, we basically want to wipe out the Houthis” (a reactionary religious movement based among Yemen’s roughly 10 million Shia Muslims). Well, they termed it as “end all Iranian influence in Yemen.” So, the Americans—[Anthony] Blinken was a bit shocked by that, so I’m told, and said, “Well, you know, that’s going a bit far. But it’s—you should certainly stop the Houthis taking over the country.” And that, effectively, gave the Saudis carte blanche.
(Democracy Now!, August 22, 2016)

These weren’t just words: Under Obama, the U.S. has supplied Saudi Arabia with more than $100 billion in weapons. It has provided targeting intelligence, and U.S. air tankers have flown some 1,200 sorties and refueled more than 5,600 Saudi warplanes. In other words, Saudi planes wouldn’t be in the air over Yemen without direct U.S. support. Blood from every Yemeni killed or wounded is on U.S. hands.

Obama Response: No Effect on American Support

This spring, when Syrian planes bombed a Doctors Without Borders supported hospital, Secretary of State John Kerry denounced it as appearing to be “a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime’s appalling record of striking such facilities and first responders. These strikes have killed hundreds of innocent Syrians.”

What about Saudi Arabia’s apparently deliberate August 15 attack on a hospital in Yemen, which Amnesty International said could constitute “a serious violation of international humanitarian law, which would amount to a war crime”?

This attack “like previous ones that killed thousands of civilians since last March,” a New York Times writer commented, “will have no effect on the American support that is crucial for Saudi Arabia’s air war.”

Why does the U.S. condemn Syria’s hospital bombings while supporting Saudi Arabia’s? Because condemning one while supporting the other serves America’s imperialist interests.

The U.S. is a capitalist-imperialist power whose system runs on globally exploiting millions, controlling and plundering resources, securing markets, and dominating whole swaths of the planet—especially energy-rich and strategically crucial areas like the Middle East. Right now, the U.S. is violently scrambling to maintain its grip on this region, which is threatening to tear apart. The U.S. is doing so by attempting to crush reactionary Islamic jihadists whose actions are clashing with its interests, while supporting other reactionary Islamic fundamentalist forces and states—like Saudi Arabia—when that serves its agenda. At the same time, the U.S. is trying to fend off global rivals like Russia, which backs Syria’s reactionary Assad regime, buttress regional allies like the Saudis, and contain other regional powers like Iran.

Right now, right on the ground, all this is translating into bombed-out hospitals, thousands dead, and millions starving in Yemen, combined with pious condemnations of U.S. rivals for committing similar crimes.

Directly aiding and abetting the bombing of hospitals in Yemen. Could there be a clearer statement of the deliberate criminality and ghoulish inhumanity of U.S. imperialism?

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/where-are-the-images-of-yemens-dead-and-wounded-children-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Where Are the Images of Yemen's Dead and Wounded Children?

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Omran Daqneesh
Omran Daqneesh, the Syrian child victim of bombing by the Assad regime, whose image has gone viral in the Western media.

On August 17, a video clip went viral, generating global outrage. Omran Daqneesh, an adorable-looking five-year-old boy with shaggy, disheveled brown hair, is shown sitting traumatized in a medical van, his face is caked with blood and dirt, his left eye socket damaged. If you have feelings, especially for innocent young children, this scene can’t help but tear at you. The U.S. media understands this and has been repeatedly featuring this image, and condemning the perpetrators of such an atrocity.

You see, Omran Daqneesh is Syrian. His family lives in Aleppo, which is now under siege and being bombed by forces the U.S. rulers oppose: Syria’s blood-soaked ruler Bashir Assad and his Russian imperialist backers.

What you don’t see in the U.S. media are pictures of the hundreds if not thousands of children living 1,700 miles south and east of Omran. Children who are just as adorable, just as innocent, and just as terrorized, brutalized and, all too often, dead. You don’t see pictures of these children because they’re Yemeni, and the bombs being dropped on them are made in the USA.

Once again, the U.S.’s vaunted “free press” proves itself to be a craven propaganda tool of the U.S. ruling class, evoking “humanitarian” concern for children only when it serves their bloodthirsty imperialist interests.

This girl is one of 9 million children across Yemen struggling to get access to safe water. This girl is one of 9 million children across Yemen struggling to get access to safe water. (Photo: @UNICEF/Twitter)
At least 174 schools have been destroyed in Yemen by Saudi bombings.
At least 174 schools like the one above have been destroyed in Yemen by Saudi bombings. (Photo: @YemenPostNews/Twitter)

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/cheers-to-colin-kaepernick-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Letter from a reader:

Cheers to Colin Kaepernick—For Not Standing for National Anthem

August 27, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

At the preseason NFL (National Football League) game on Friday night, August 26, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers refused to stand for the national anthem in their game against the Green Bay Packers. Kaepernick, who quarterbacked the 49ers in the 2013 Super Bowl, has been outspoken about police murders. About not standing for the national anthem, he said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder. This is not something that I am going to run by anybody. I am not looking for approval. I have to stand up for people that are oppressed.... If they take football away, my endorsements from me, I know that I stood up for what is right.”

Kaepernick also did not stand for the national anthem in the previous two pre-season games but it was not noticed because he was in street clothes. This was the first game that he did it while suited up for the game.

After the police murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Kaepernick put out an Instagram post: “This is what lynchings look like in 2016! Another murder in the streets because the color of a man’s skin, at the hands of the people who they say will protect us. When will they be held accountable? or did he fear for his life as he executed this man?”

On his Twitter page, Kaepernick has been posting retweets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and about police murders, racism, and white supremacy in the U.S.

The San Francisco 49ers sent out an official statement about what Kaepernick did, stating their view of what the purpose of the pre-game flag ceremony is about and saying that Kaepernick has “the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration.” The 49ers should stick to this statement about recognizing Kaepernick’s right to not stand for the U.S. anthem—and be held accountable if they don’t.

This is a big deal—an active NFL player has taken a courageous stand against the oppression of Black people. Kaepernick is already meeting a firestorm of anger and hatred for what he did. He should not sit alone. All people with any sense of humanity need to sit with him.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/cheers-shaun-king-why-i-will-never-stand-again-for-star-spangled-banner-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Cheers for Shaun King: "Why I'll never stand again for 'The Star-Spangled Banner'"

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Cheers to Shaun King for his August 29 column in the New York Daily News, “Why I'll never stand again for 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'

King, senior justice writer at the Daily News, writes of being inspired by San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem to dig into the actual history and content of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and its author Francis Scott Key. He discovered, “Key's full poem actually has a third stanza which few of us have ever heard. In it, he openly celebrates the murder of slaves. Yes, really.” And after studying the history and content of the national anthem, King writes, “I used to love it, but now I regret ever going anywhere near it.” 

Sit with Colin - No respect for that genocidal rag

And King writes, “I'm joining Colin Kaepernick, who joined in with the spirit of Rosa Parks, by standing up for our rights by sitting down. I hope you join us.”

Read Shaun King’s entire column with his perspective, here.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/453/yaa-gyasi-reading-and-in-conversation-with-andy-zee-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

A Gripping Evening at Revolution Books: Yaa Gyasi Reading and in Conversation with Andy Zee

August 22, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Yaa Gyasi at Revolution Books August 19, 2016

After Yaa Gyasi's reading from her book Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi and Andy Zee held a conversation with the audience.

It was a very special night at Revolution Books on August 19.  Yaa Gyasi read from her powerful and acclaimed novel Homegoing, followed by a conversation with Revolution Books spokesperson Andy Zee and then with the audience. 

90 people came out. They were friends of Revolution Books, people from the publishing world, African immigrants, members of 4 different book clubs, and others. People got word of the program having gotten flyers at places like the Brooklyn Museum’s First Saturday program, at a city park Jazzmobile concert, and through social media. It was a packed house, and the audience spilled out into chairs set up on the sidewalk under a canopy to hear the conversation piped outside. Hand fans were passed out to people inside—it was hot!

The program took place in the last few days of the critical fundraising for Revolution Books NYC to stay open and to grow as the political, intellectual, and cultural center for the movement for an actual revolution. In mid-July, RB launched a $25,000 crowd-funding campaign to restock the shelves with cutting edge books and to make essential improvements like installing air-conditioning, a stage and signage.

Andy Zee welcomed people to the program and to Revolution Books.  RB is where people find the books and engagement about why the world is the way it is, the underlying history of this society, and indeed the world, and the brutal truth of present-day reality...and the way out of this madness.  And at the heart of this is the new communism, the new synthesis, developed by Bob Avakian—central to which is a qualitative breakthrough in a more scientific way to understand reality and to radically change it through revolution to emancipate humanity the world over.  As Andy would later point out, Revolution Books is not just a place to find political theory, history, and connection to a movement to fight for this new world, but also RB is a place to find novels, poetry, plays and art because all of this imagination and experience goes into deepening our understanding of reality, and of the world we want to create. He said that Homegoing is not just a wonderful novel, but an important one.  

REVOLUTION BOOKS NYC

The political, intellectual, and cultural center for the movement for an actual revolution

Indiegogo crowd funding campaign!

$25,000 in 30 Days, The Time Is Now!

Your contribution will fund:  
Thousands of important new books • Bold signage on the street. • A stage for cutting-edge events. • New air-conditioning.

GO TO INDIEGOGO TO CONTRIBUTE

Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi

Yaa read from a beautiful and wrenching chapter that focused on the slave Ness, that included Ness hearing from her mother about her experience as a small child on the “big boat” of the middle passage from Africa to the Americas, and then goes to Ness’s life of unremitting brutality on the plantation.  Yaa’s voice dug deep in the room and out onto Malcolm X Blvd—riveting to hear, with many in the audience moved to tears. 

Then the conversation in the room, deep and deeply felt, was on.... How do you, as a writer, confront what happened to the people we came down from, and how do we all confront it and not be filled with despair and hopelessness? How do you really feel the horror of the lash and worse the denial of your humanity, and not compartmentalize? How do you get through the day knowing your family went through this?

Yaa spoke about her background; about the writer’s craft; about returning to Africa and researching this history, including aspects that are not often explored, like the practice of slavery in Africa; about her influences.

“Story” and Real History

People thanked Yaa for opening a door to the history that most often isn’t talked about so intimately, that has been known in family after family but not spoken about in its stark reality. Woven through the evening was the exploration of why story-telling that is not literally true matters, in getting to deeper truths. This was something Yaa got into especially in response to a question from someone who discussed how difficult it was for her family to discuss the unbearable reality of sharecropping. As this woman spoke, she broke into sobs, explaining that her grandfather had in fact been a sharecropper, with all the terror of that near-slavery in the Jim Crow south. 

Andy followed Yaa and returned to why a scientific method and approach—revolutionary political theory to know and change the world—is essential, and is at the heart of Revolution Books.  The new synthesis developed by BA comprehends the import of art, of imagination.  You need the “distorting” of “story”--exactly to capture vital layers of lived experience and inner life that deepen our understanding. The historical novel can imagine experience that cannot be known today, but in so doing, it should illuminate the larger truth of the history it tells. 

And, you also need the factually accurate history and scientific theory, the analysis of the roots of slavery, this “peculiar institution” that is at the foundation of American wealth, to understand the system that underlies this, and where we are today—and what to do about it, drawing from and recommending to the audience Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, by Bob Avakian. Andy then got into why resistance and rebellion and courage, while essential, are not in and of themselves enough—giving the example of the experience of the African liberation movements of the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. These movements were not guided by a thoroughly scientific understanding of the nature of imperialism and the all-the-way communist revolution needed to put an end to exploitation, oppression, and domination by imperialism. And these movements that came to power did not break the chains of the old system, with many of its features replicated in new ways. Today these are oppressive class-divided societies where many have lost hope. This is a bitter lesson to learn from.

Andy invited the audience to become part of the process that goes on at Revolution Books: read Homegoing and the other incredible novels on the shelves; read the powerful scholarship on slavery of recent years; and read Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy and find the scientific approach to understanding the world and how it got this way—and how it could be radically different—with the real revolution and the new communism BA has developed and is leading.

People felt the pain brought down through Ness’s descendants in Homegoing who end up in modern-day America...and the ways this is still lived with horrific consequence from Milwaukee, to Ferguson, to Baltimore, and more. Yaa Gyasi: slavery is an “open wound that has festered for hundreds of years, and it’s visceral and palpable.”

This was an evening that revealed in its own special way what the new communism opens up.

 

 

 


 

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Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Victory in the $25,000 Fund Drive for Revolution Books, NYC
Thanks To All Who Contributed and Volunteered...And Let’s Take it Higher

August 24, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Above, at the reading by novelist Yaa Gyasi (shown here in conversation with RB spokesperson Andy Zee), August 19 at Revolution Books

Late Tuesday afternoon, the Revolution Books on-line Indiegogo (IGG) campaign reached its goal of $25,000. And by midnight, on this last day of the fund drive, another $2500 was raised.  This is truly something to celebrate! We send a warm thanks to all who volunteered, who contributed funds, and who helped spread the word of this campaign and Revolution Books.  

We launched this Indiegogo fund drive in mid-July. Over the course of 6 weeks, the campaign drew close to 300 backers... from different walks of life...from all over the country...making small and large donations. 

The scene around this fund drive was full of vitality and illustrates that a store that has revolution and communism at its core can take hold and impact people and society. Young volunteers working at RB made videos about what the store means to them in these urgent times. Others spoke of how life-changing it has been to get into Bob Avakian and the new communism, how they learned that there is a scientific way to understand and change the world, and why they want to let others know. RB hosted several author events during the fund drive at which audiences were able to experience how the application of this new synthesis of communism opens up rich discussion with non-communists in the arts.

All of this, and more, indicates the real and growing basis—and the real and growing reservoir of support—for a vibrant bookstore with a breadth of books that matter... precisely because this store, RB, is at the center of a movement for an actual revolution to bring about a radically different world.

In these times, Revolution Books is needed more than ever. As we said on the IGG site for the $25,000 campaign, the funds are “going towards new books, AC, a stage, and front window signage. This is part of a larger plan to raise $40,000 and accomplish the “3 doubles”: double foot-traffic, sales, and monthly sustainers. ... Achieve this and RB can become more self-sustaining and an ever greater resource for the people of the world. 

Let’s build on this victory as we head into what promises to be a critical fall season.

We are now launching the new Revolution Books Educational Fund, Inc., a 501(c)3 corporation that will sponsor the educational programming at RB. If you didn’t get to donate to the Indiegogo fund drive, this will be an important and ongoing opportunity to support RB. We hope you will become a monthly sustainer of Revolution Books. And you can make a donation to RB here.

Again, sincere thanks to all of you who helped make this victory possible.

Humanity Needs Revolution
The Revolution Needs Revolution Books
And Revolution Books Needs You

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/439/awtwns-colombia-peace-accords-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

From A World to Win News Service

Colombia: The peace accords will bring about the changes the country needs—so that nothing changes

May 16, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

May 9, 2016. A World to Win News Service. The following text, dated May 1, 2016, was posted on Aurora Comunista (acgcr.org), the Website of the Revolutionary Communist Group (GCR) of Colombia. We have added explanations in brackets. The parentheses are from the original.

By way of background: Civil war has raged in the countryside of Colombia repeatedly during the last centuries and almost without interruption for the last seven decades.

The years 1948-58 saw rural warfare between the Conservative and Liberal parties in which many thousands of peasants and rural labourers died. After a pact between these two parties brought an end to that war, government forces soon launched assaults on rural areas that had become strongholds of the Communist Party. In 1964, that party formed the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which at one time controlled or contested much of the country. The current round of peace negotiations between the government and the FARC began in Oslo in 2012 and is continuing in Cuba. Although the negotiators missed their self-imposed March 2016 deadline, both sides say they are in the final phase of reaching a comprehensive agreement. The National Liberation Army (ELN), a guerrilla organization formed in 1967, began separate public negotiations with the government in March.

The Colombian state and the FARC guerrilla army, which announced they were entering peace talks in late 2012, are about to reach a final agreement. Despite the tug of war of the last few days, the peace talks with the ELN, announced a few weeks ago, will reach the same end point before too long.

THE NEW SYNTHESIS OF COMMUNISM: FUNDAMENTAL ORIENTATION, METHOD AND APPROACH, AND CORE ELEMENTS

by Bob Avakian, Chairman,
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Summer 2015

Read more

The fact that the accords have reached this juncture has begun to calm the contradictions among the ruling classes (and their political and literary representatives) regarding whether or not to bring about a negotiated end to the “conflict” (which sometimes seems to be the well-known “good cop/bad cop” game). But on the other hand questions are continuing to grow among the masses of people, not only about the peace negotiations but also about the struggle FARC and the ELN have been waging for half a century. In order to clear up some very widespread confusion about basic issues, the following points have to be made:

***

• Humanity’s suffering is the result of the imperialist capitalist system that integrates billions of people into production networks (networks of exploitation, actually) that are highly coordinated on the world level. All the wealth is accumulated by a handful of people in a handful of countries, without planning to satisfy the needs of humanity and consideration of the environmental impact. Each bloc of capital is compelled to concentrate greater riches, to expand or die, in competition with other blocs of capital, not only in clashes between corporations and big business but also rivalries between imperialist countries that reach the point of war.

A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What is New in the New Synthesis? An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA; Understanding the World, And Changing It For the Better, In the Interests of Humanity Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

• Imperialism is not just a set of policies. It does not just mean the extraction of wealth by means of unfair trade or the open looting of third world countries; although it does mean that, too. It is a system in which monopolies and financial institutions control the economy and political structures in their home country, such as the US, and the whole world. The economies and lives of the people in the countries oppressed by imperialism, which are actually semi- or neo-colonies, like Colombia, are subordinated to the accumulation of capital based in the imperialist countries.

• Imperialism is not just “external” to the semi- (or neo-) colonial countries, nor are the multinational companies. Even where capitalist relations have been widely introduced in the oppressed countries, they are not on the road to independent capitalist development and their economies are increasingly disarticulated and distorted, while at the same time sectors of these economies are increasingly articulated to the imperialist system. Thus the development of capitalism in the oppressed countries means the development of imperialist capital.

• National agricultural systems have been transformed into globalized components of transnational production and marketing networks. Agriculture is increasingly losing its “fundamental” role in many third world economies. Imperialism has led in the conversion of land previously used to produce food into land used to produce ethanol and other forms of agriculturally-based fuels, which exacerbates these tendencies even further.

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Part 1: REVOLUTION AND THE STATE

Part 2: BUILDING THE MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION

• Among other kinds of distortions produced by this kind of development, it expropriates a large part of the peasantry and other traditional classes without being able to profitably employ them. The result is an enormous “marginal” urban population that finds itself underemployed or permanently unemployed, and an enormous waste of labouring people in the countryside. Colombia, for example, imports more than ten million tonnes of food per year.

• Under the logic of this profit-driven system, it is “normal” that while the world produces enough food to feed one and a half times its present population, hunger stalks more than a billion of the planet’s seven billion people. This happens in what we are told is the best of all possible worlds!

***

Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage

Available in English, Spanish, Farsi, Turkish, German, Portuguese, Arabic (draft)

• The elites of these countries use violence by the military, police and/or paramilitaries to clear the ground for big agro-industrial projects, and mining, energy and infrastructural schemes.

Colombia has more internally displaced people than any other country except Syria, about six million. Millions more have emigrated to neighbouring countries, as well as North America and Europe.

• Colombia is distinguished as a country of regions that have revolved around four big cities. The urban elites delegate the specific functioning of the rural and peripheral areas to local elites through a mutually beneficial, reciprocal system: the local elites get to rule as they like and have representation in Congress in return for guaranteeing their political support and acceptance without in any way really defying the overall rules of the game established by the elites in the capital or nationally. A combination of strong centralism in essence and a “decentralization” in management of the territories. This explains the existence of regional chiefdoms.

• Today’s state, despite its democratic rhetoric and electoral prancing, is basically a dictatorship of the ruling classes (local and foreign big companies and landlords), as proved by tens of thousands of cases of political repression, forced disappearance and the rape and murder of innocent people perpetrated by the armed forces and police no matter which political party is in power.

• The state is extremely corrupt, working hand in glove with organized crime and servile toward imperialism, particularly US imperialism. But this is not essentially due to the character of the individuals in power. Rather, the state as such serves and must serve to defend and reproduce the relations of exploitation and oppression of the vast majority of people by a tiny minority. It serves to defend and reproduce the current system that is principally capitalist (intertwined with elements of semi-feudalism) and subordinated to imperialism. No change in the persons or parties in the existing state is going to change its basically repressive character. This is the state that FARC wants to be part of.

***

• The peasant resistance that gave rise to FARC a half century ago was just. It is more than right to rebel against the injustices of this system. And it is normal that this rebellion reach the level of armed struggle. But that’s not enough.

• FARC was born “resisting the oligarchical violence that political crime systematically uses to liquidate the democratic and revolutionary opposition, and as a peasant and people’s response to the aggression of the feudal and other landowners that drenched the fields of Colombia in blood as they stole the lands of peasants and settlers.” ([FARC commander Alfonso] Cano, quoted by [FARC negotiations team head] Ivan Marquez in October 2012 in Oslo). Thus, since the beginning FARC did not seek to get to the root of the problem.

• What the FARC has sought is more like “capitalism with a human face”, a more equitable distribution of wealth and the “perfection” of democracy. In Marquez’s words, what they seek is “a peace that brings about a profound demilitarization of the state and radical socio-economic reforms based on true democracy, justice and freedom... Let us hold high the banners of change and social justice”, “expose the criminality of finance capital, indicting neoliberalism [free market economics]”, and achieve “the efficacious and transparent agrarian reform for which the armed people have been struggling for years” (October 2012). Thus FARC’s target has not been capitalism, semi-feudalism and imperialism, but “unfettered capitalism”, “the neo-liberal model”, “Imperial interference”, inequity, etc.

• FARC’s ambitions in regard to the land question are even lower than those of [Liberal Party president Alfonso] López Pumarejo during the 1930s and [Liberal Party president Carlos] Lleras Restrepo in the 1960s, and even the proposals of the early 1950s World Bank mission whose architect was Lauchlin Currie [former economics advisor to US president Franklin Roosevelt].

• What FARC has sought is to “create a socialism that is not like those that have failed or are barely surviving, (but) one in which all Colombians have a place... as well as entrepreneurs and foreign capital, like the Scandinavian systems, in Norway and Sweden, where relations between the state, owners and workers are very good, with high living standards and social benefits... What we want is a more just and egalitarian society... where big employers make money but also contribute to social development.” (Raul Reyes, interview in Clarin, October 1999). This so-called Nordic “socialism” has a name: imperialist capitalism. The “contributions to social development” made by “big employers” come from the exploitation of children, women and men of third-world countries.

***

• The world has changed enormously over the last half century and these changes have had an effect on FARC, although not decisively.

• The fall of the Soviet social-imperialist bloc in 1989-91 made it possible, under the leadership of Yankee imperialism itself, for pro-Soviet guerrillas to fulfil their political programme by non-armed means. Central America provided a “successful” case of this. Nevertheless, the Colombian ruling classes and imperialism aborted the peace process of that period. FARC continued its armed struggle while holding on to the hope of finding a negotiated solution and becoming part of the system when more favourable conditions arose.

• Colombia went from having an economy based on the export of coffee to one based on dollars from oil sales, and, to no small degree, drug trafficking. Today it is a predominantly urban country. Capitalism has thoroughly penetrated the countryside and cities.

• Over the last few decades the Colombian armed forces have been built up enormously. The paramilitary groups have become more powerful and integrated into the system on a national level to clear the way for increased imperialist penetration.

• These and other changes in the country and the world do not make a real revolution less necessary, less possible or less desirable. They make it even more urgent.

***

• To take on the repressive forces of the Establishment requires courage and sacrifice, but that does not define the correctness or incorrectness of anyone’s ideological and political line. Many people give primary emphasis to the sacrifice and devotion to the cause of those who put their life on the line in armed struggle, even if their aims are narrow. But sacrifices, no matter how great, and intentions, as good as they may be, are not enough to get to a truly new country and world. We can’t fall for the false alternatives offered by the country’s current polarization, which would have us believe that anyone who does not agree with the line of the traditional guerrilla forces is part of the system (or echoing the reactionaries).

• The choice of means to achieve political power is not what defines the character of a struggle or organization. It must be made clear that radical ends require radical means, including revolutionary violence, but what’s decisive is: for whom and for what?

• It has to be clearly and frankly stated: FARC (like the ELN) does not and has not represented revolution. They have not represented the struggle for radical transformation, the struggle for real socialism as a society in transition to what was well defined by Marx (and popularized in Mao’s China) as “the four alls”: the abolition of all class distinctions, all the production relations on which they rest, all the social relations that correspond to those relations of production and the revolutionization of all the ideas that correspond to those social relations.

• The peace negotiations process has served and will serve to (further) legitimate the current system and reformism, and to de-legitimate the choice of revolution in the eyes of the people, a delegitimization taken to an unprecedented level by the reactionary offensive after the fall of the Soviet Union and its fake socialism. But it is also an important occasion for many more people to be able to compare and contrast all the aspects of the revolution we need with the true objectives of the forces that have sought to reform the system by radical (armed) means and those trying to do the same thing within the legality of the current system. None of them have truly radical aims.

***

• Yes, many changes will be launched. But the changes due to the peace agreements are changes whose purpose is to allow the system to continue functioning as always. The same thing would happen if FARC or the ELN were to come to power. Different changes, a different kind of changes, are needed, to move toward a repolarization of society, developing a truly revolutionary pole.

What is the change we really need? Actually, what we need is a revolution, but a real revolution. Sooner or later, everyone who is serious about stopping the outrages perpetrated by imperialist capitalism will have to break with this system’s institutions, representatives and way of thinking, and get organized to really do that. The important thing is that a solution to the problem DOES exist, and people have to engage with it and get into it. A better world IS possible. And FARC and the ELN are part of the problem standing in the way of our reaching this better world. They are NOT part of the solution.

For those people who long for a completely different world without the madness and horrors this system brings every day, those who have dared to hope that such a world could be possible, and even those who would like to see this happen but until now have ended up accepting the idea that it could never happen: there is a place for you, there is a role to play, and it’s necessary that thousands, and, over time, millions of people contribute to building a movement for revolution, in many different ways—with your ideas and practical participation, with your help and your questions and criticisms.

To stop being victims of deception and self-deception, everyone—workers in the countryside and cities, youth in the shantytowns, women, indigenous people, African-Colombians, environmentalists—has to take up the scientific method and approach that allows a much better understanding than before of the workings of this system and how to get free of it, and more systematically apply this method and approach to reality in general and the revolutionary struggle in particular. Nothing gives life greater meaning than setting our sights on a goal that is both the greatest challenge and enormously inspiring and liberating, as well as necessary and possible: the emancipation of humanity through revolution and moving toward a communist world, a world free of exploitation and oppression.

What’s needed is Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism!

What’s needed is a real revolution—nothing less!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/did-ya-notice-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

From a reader:

Did Ya Notice...

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Did ya notice that when people stood up to police murder and righteously went into the streets, everyone in this society and even around the world had to take a position on “Black lives matter”? Did ya notice that this woke people to the demonstrable truth that in this society, historically and down to the present, Black lives are treated as if they do not?

Then, did ya notice that in response, the defenders of this system—whether they be running for president, heading a police department, or a talking head on TV—started talking about “don’t Blue lives matter, too”?

Did ya notice that every time someone on TV who defends Black people for rising up, or who points out that if a Black person kills a police officer they will be executed on the spot, but if the police kill a Black person—the police are not charged, not prosecuted, and not sentenced... that they are then asked by the moderator, “Well, don’t you think Blue lives matter, too”? And did ya notice that too often the activists being interviewed will accept this equation?

Did ya notice that, as the Democrats are wont to do, the whole issue got “re-framed”? Re-framed by Hillary Clinton as “We must put ourselves in the shoes of mothers who have lost their children—and in the shoes of police who are afraid to walk out the door to go to work every day.” Everyone’s “narrative,” you see, is equally valid.

Did ya notice that no president ever goes to the funerals of people murdered by police, but every dead cop merits the appearance of at least one major politician or even a presidential address by Obama?

And did ya notice that this “re-framing” is intended to turn inside out and upside down the actual reality of police who kill under the color of authority and with impunity? Did ya notice that this “re-framing” is meant to blunt the truth of 100s and 100s of videos where the police are caught red-handed on camera and even with this—over and over again—no charges are filed?

Did ya notice that every time the police shoot someone down, even a child, all they have to say is that they “felt” their life was in danger?

But do ya think that a Black or Latino person who might reasonably decide to defend themselves from imminent danger of being shot to death by a cop will have their defense treated as legitimate by the media or the courts?

Did ya notice that this “re-framing” of Blue lives matter just as much as Black lives—based on this fallacious “equation”—gives ground and credibility to the fascistically fanged rhetoric of Rudolph Giuliani as well as the more “reasoned” New York City police chief William Bratton, who together with Giuliani, laid down the architecture of massive, discriminatory, and consequently murderous racial profiling?

Did ya notice that when Rudolph Giuliani, bloated and spitting, with genocide in his heart, said, “We are coming for you!” he feels no obligation to say Black lives matter, too?

Did ya notice that when you equate two things or two aspects of real things in contention with real life-and-death consequences—but which are in fact not equal—you end up obliterating the important and essential aspect of reality and truth? And did ya notice that people are being trained to think this way in order to blunt and cripple the people’s strength and sense of conviction?

Did ya notice that this leads to reconciliation where truth is only the first victim?

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/at-the-rio-olympics-a-brave-stand-speaking-truth-and-ugly-americans-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Letter from a reader

At the Rio Olympics: A Brave Stand, Speaking Truth, and Ugly Americans

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Notes from the Rio Olympics:

A Brave Stand

Feyisa Lilesa, from Ethiopia, won the silver medal in the men's marathon race. As he crossed the finish line, he crossed his arms to form an "X"—a symbol of defiance against the Ethiopian government and in support of the Oromo people, an oppressed ethnic group in Ethiopia.* Lilesa repeated the act in a press conference after the race and said he would repeat it at the medal ceremony later. He told reporters he faced being killed for doing so if he returns home after the Games. At the press conference, he said: "The Ethiopian government is killing my people, so I stand with all protests anywhere [referring to the nine-month protest movement of the Oromo people], as Oromo is my tribe. My relatives are in prison and if they talk about democratic rights they are killed." (The Independent, August 21, 2016)

Speaking Truth

Simone Manuel, a swimmer from the United States, won a gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle and the 4x100-meter medley, and silver in the 50-meter freestyle and the 4×100-meter freestyle relay. She is the first African-American woman to win an Olympic individual swimming event. Afterwards she talked about how her victory was special in the context of "ongoing race issues in the U.S." She said, "It means a lot, especially with what is going on in the world today, some of the issues of police brutality. This win hopefully brings hope and change to some of the issues that are going on. My color just comes with the territory." She also said, "Coming into the race I tried to take weight of the black community off my shoulders. It's something I carry with me. I want to be an inspiration, but I would like there to be a day when it is not 'Simone the black swimmer.'" (USA Today, August 12, 2016)

U.S. swimmer Anthony Ervin won a gold medal in the men's 50-meter freestyle. At 35 years old, he is the oldest-ever Olympic swimming gold medal winner. On Democracy Now! he talked about having a Black father and a white Jewish mother and was asked to comment about Black people being killed by the police. He said he was "definitely afraid to speak out... Like I do so fearfully of the repercussion that comes at me because of it," but said, "The plight of being—I mean, just the morale of being Black in America has got to be—it's got to be terrifying if you see those lights [police car's red lights] coming at you, because you don't know what's going to happen. You really—you want someone who's just trying to do their job and is a good person, but what they don't want is just someone who's going to come take your life." (Democracy Now!, August 16, 2016)

Ugly Americans

Ryan Lochte won some medals in Rio as part of the U.S. swim team. But his biggest medal was a gold in the Ugly American Race. He showed up in Rio with a $25,000 diamond- and ruby-encrusted American flag dental grill and every time you saw him on TV when he was not swimming, he was shown grinning, wearing this despicable thing. Then after the swim events were over, Lochte and three others on the U.S. swim team took their cocky frat boy American mentality out into the streets of Rio. It's not clear exactly what happened, but safe to say the four drunk athletes trashed a public bathroom at a gas station in Rio de Janeiro and pissed all over it—and security guards detained them and demanded they pay for the damage. Then Lochte and his teammates just completely lied about what happened—saying they were robbed at gunpoint by the cops. Later the ugly truth came out—after Lochte had quickly gotten on a plane and high-tailed it back to the USA. Lochte is now, as a New York Post article put it, a symbol of "everything the world hates about Americans."

Hope Solo, the goalie on the U.S. Olympic women's soccer team, showed up in Rio after tweeting a picture of herself wearing a big mosquito net helmet, holding a bottle of insecticide. Maybe she thought this was funny, but fans in Brazil thought this was disrespectful and chanted, "Zika, Zika, Zika" every time Solo touched the ball in her matches. Then when Sweden beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals, Solo put on her pouty face and in typical USA, USA sore loser fashion said, "We played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today... The Americans were better than Sweden and should have won." (Solo was later given a six-month suspension from the U.S. women's national soccer team for her comments.)

A Disappointing Backing Down...

Carmelo Anthony, who plays for the New York Knicks, went to Rio as part of the U.S. Olympic basketball team. Carmelo has been outspoken about police brutality. He marched in Baltimore when Freddie Gray was murdered. He defended the women in the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association) when they were attacked for wearing shirts protesting police brutality. After the police murders of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, he spoke out about high-profile athletes effecting meaningful change. He tweeted out, "There's NO more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues anymore. Those days are long gone." At ESPN's annual sports award show, Carmelo and other NBAers called on other athletes to exert their influence. Anthony then hinted that he and others on the U.S. Olympic basketball team would make a political statement about police brutality. He said, "On the biggest stage you can possibly play on and have that voice, represent something that's bigger than us 12 players." Before the Olympics began, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who raised their clinched fists, protesting the oppression of Black people when they won medals at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, said, "I would hope that they circumvent the circumstances of society and digest it and do what they feel is necessary for them to help alleviate the pain of so many people, not just in the United States, but around the world."

But when the U.S. basketball team got up on the podium to get the gold medal—they did NOTHING!! Except just stand there with their hands over their hearts singing the national anthem. And when Carmelo Anthony was interviewed right after the game, he channeled a fucking Trumpism, saying, "I believe that American can be great again." Well Carmelo, we have to tell you America Has Never Been Great! And as you yourself said: "There's NO more sitting back and being afraid of tackling and addressing political issues anymore. Those days are long gone."

* The Oromo people are the single-largest ethnic group both in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa and make up one-third of Ethiopia’s population of 100 million. Starting in 2014, the Oromo people protested their lands being taken by the government. The government has annexed Oromo land, evicted farmers from the ancestral lands, and banned the Oromo culture and language. After mass Oromo protests in late 2015, the Ethiopian government labeled the Oromo people as terrorists. On August 9 this year, 200 protests that included hundreds of thousands of people took place in the Oromia region. The government used brutal force against the protesters, killing at least 100, according to Amnesty International.  Human Rights Watch, which has criticized the Ethiopian government, and estimates 400 people have been killed “in a brutal regime response to the Oromo protests since late last year.” Despite human rights groups depicting Ethiopia as a brutal police state and calling out “the systematic marginalization and persecution of ethnic Oromos,” President Obama, in his 2016 visit to Ethiopia, “doubled down on previous endorsements by administration officials by describing the government as 'democratically-elected.’” (“Oromo protests: Why US must stop enabling Ethiopia,” by Awol K. Allo, Special to CNN, August 9, 2016) [back]

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/north-dakota-protesters-block-oil-pipeline-es.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

An Occupation in the Prairies of North Dakota:

Protesters Block Oil Pipeline That Endangers Native American Lives and Threatens Environmental Destruction

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

An intensifying battle against an oil pipeline is going on in North Dakota, involving a fight against the oppression of Native American people and environmental destruction. In April, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe launched a protest camp against the construction of the pipeline—and in recent weeks, hundreds from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and other Native tribes as well as environmental activists have gathered at the camp. Among those in the protests have been people who were involved in the 1973 uprising at Wounded Knee, when hundreds of Native Americans and others stood up against U.S. government-backed murder and intimidation. The governor of North Dakota has declared a state of emergency for the area, and police have barricaded the main highway leading to the protest site.

The pipeline, under construction by a private oil company based in Texas, is known as Dakota Access and would run nearly 1,200 miles from the Bakken oil fields in northwest North Dakota to Illinois. When fully operational, this pipeline would carry over 500,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The oil company has federal and state approval to go through public lands and negotiated passage through private lands.

The battle against an oil pipeline intensifies in North Dakota, as Standing Rock Sioux tribe launched a protest camp against the construction of the pipeline, as seen here, August 2016. (Photo: AP)

The battle against an oil pipeline intensifies in North Dakota, as Standing Rock Sioux tribe launched a protest camp against the construction of the pipeline, as seen here, August 2016. (Photo: AP)

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says the pipeline encroaches on land that is important to their cultural heritage. And just a half mile from the reservation border, the planned pipeline route crosses the Missouri River. If there is a pipeline break, the oil spill could threaten drinking and irrigation water supplies and endanger the health of not only the people of the tribe but millions of people in the region. There has been opposition to the pipeline, which goes through four states, in other areas, including among farmers in Iowa.

The danger of a serious leak in the pipeline is very real. In an online petition against the pipeline, Anna Lee Rain YellowHammer, a 13-year-old member of the Standing Rock tribe, wrote: “Oil companies keep telling us that this is perfectly safe, but we’ve learned that that’s a lie: from 2012-2013 alone, there were 300 oil pipeline breaks in the state of North Dakota. With such a high chance that this pipeline will leak, I can only guess that the oil industry keeps pushing for it because they don’t care about our health and safety. It’s like they think our lives are more expendable than others.”

So far, more than 20 protesters have been arrested at the protest camp, where people sleep in tents and tipis and cook in open-air kitchens. Earlier this month, riders on horseback forced a line of sheriffs to back off. There have been no major assaults against the camp by law enforcement up to now. But the county sheriff has declared the camp an “unlawful protest” and the governor has claimed the protest poses “public safety risks.” (The pipeline poses serious health and environmental risks—but the governor accuses the protesters of being “public safety risks”?!) Such words could foreshadow an attempt by the government and law enforcement to shut down the righteous protest by force and intimidation. Any such move by the authorities would be totally unjust and must be met by broad and determined opposition.

Along with the protest camp, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is also waging a fight in the federal courts to stop construction of the pipeline. Among those who were at the latest court hearing in DC around this case were actors Susan Sarandon and Shailene Woodley. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio and singer Pharrell Williams have been among those tweeting in support of the protest.

Special Issue of Revolution on the Environmental Emergency

This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:

Read online....

Also available in brochure format (downloadable PDF)

The oil company that owns the pipeline claimed that the pipeline would be safe and would help toward making the U.S. self-sufficient in energy sources. Aside from the real danger of pipeline leaks, there is nothing positive for humanity in the U.S. increasing its oil production!

For one thing, the U.S. capitalist-imperialist rulers see their expanded domestic oil and gas production as a weapon in global rivalries with other capitalist countries. This is not just about economic competition but involves very intense struggles—backed up by military power, if not mainly breaking out in open war at this point—over strategic advantage and domination of key parts of the world.

And very importantly, there is the question of fossil fuels and climate change. Last year saw a record-breaking high in global temperatures—just like the year before, the year before that, and so on. The climate emergency is picking up even more steam, caused by the relentless burning of oil, coal, and gas; deforestation; and capitalist agricultural practices. Polar ice caps are melting with increasing speed, extreme storms and droughts are hitting harder and more often, ecosystems are being destroyed, and other effects of climate change are intensifying. Scientists warn of mass destruction of plant and animal species and catastrophic threats to people, especially in poor countries. Right at this very time, the U.S. is excavating, drilling, and piping oil and gas at record rates—and the Dakota Access pipeline is part of all this.

The battle over the Dakota Access pipeline also points to the long and shameful history of the crimes carried out by the rulers of this country against Native American peoples. In an opinion article in the New York Times, David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, wrote: “When the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Missouri River in 1958, it took our riverfront forests, fruit orchards and most fertile farmland to create Lake Oahe. Now the Corps is taking our clean water and sacred places by approving this river crossing. Whether it’s gold from the Black Hills or hydropower from the Missouri or oil pipelines that threaten our ancestral inheritance, the tribes have always paid the price for America’s prosperity.”

From the conquest, plunder, and life-stealing exploitation carried out by the first European colonialists... to the slave owners and emerging capitalists who founded the United States and expanded their country through predatory violence as well as deception and broken treaty after broken treaty... the original inhabitants of this land suffered decimation and devastation. Huge numbers of Native Americans were killed due to the armed expansion of the U.S., the destruction of their ways of life, the spread of disease for which the Native Americans had no immunity, and other factors. Most of those who survived were forced onto reservations controlled and surrounded by armed forces of the capitalist state—and often forcibly relocated when those areas turned out to contain valuable resources or for other reasons.

The effects of this terrible history continue today. This system of capitalism-imperialism has no real answers to the oppression of Native American people—nor to any of the urgent problems facing people here and around the world and the threats to the planet’s very environment. But the actual revolution—communist revolution—does. Check out the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by Bob Avakian and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, for a vision and concrete plan for a revolutionary socialist society—including how the defeat of the imperialist state through revolution will open the way for actually overcoming the legacy of the horrors the U.S. has carried out against Native American people for so long.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/homeowner-to-10-year-old-kid-in-the-crosshairs-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

From Homeowner to 10-Year-Old Kid... Black People in the Crosshairs of Armed Pigs

August 30, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Indianapolis, Indiana—Early in the morning of August 23, Carl Williams, a 48-year-old Black man, called 911 after his wife ran into the house screaming that she’d just been forced to hand over her car keys to an armed man in front of their home. Williams expected help from the police. Instead, when the police arrived, they shot him. He had only made it a few steps out of the garage when a police bullet tore into his groin.

Williams didn’t end up as one of more than 750 people killed by police across the U.S. just since the beginning of this year—but he was seriously injured, with bullet fragments in his body. He said, “The only thing I can remember is intense pain and falling on the ground and telling the police officers ‘I am the homeowner. Why did you shoot me?’ My life is in turmoil because they did the wrong thing.”

The police labeled this outrageous shooting a case of “mistaken identity.” The description that Carl Williams gave of the man who robbed his wife was nothing like Williams... except that they are both Black men.

Newark, New Jersey—Legend Preston, a 10-year-old fifth grader, didn’t end up murdered by police like 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland... but he very well could have. On August 14, he was shooting hoops at a court near his home when the ball rolled into the street toward a police car. Legend said later that when he went to get the ball, “Some police started coming this way with guns pointed at me, and then I ran into the backyard... I ran because they thought that I rolled the ball into the street on purpose, and they were just holding shot guns at me trying to shoot me.”

Bob Avakian on "Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence"

Transcript of this clip available here.

Who is Bob Avakian?

Because of Bob Avakian and the work he has done over several decades, summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far, and drawing from a broad range of human experience, there is a new synthesis of communism that has been brought forward — there really is a viable vision and strategy for a radically new, and much better, society and world, and there is the crucial leadership that is needed to carry forward the struggle toward that goal.

Find out much more about Bob Avakian here.

Neighbors who saw what was happening had to form a human shield around Legend to protect him and prevent the armed pig marauders from brutalizing him. One of the neighbors said, “He’s only 10 years old, how you all chasing him? He’s only a kid. I’m like, ‘that’s messed up.’” Legend’s mom, Patisha Solomon, said her son has been having recurring nightmares of being chased by cops and shot in the leg. “These policemen who had guns drawn on my child are still on these streets.”

The police have not even issued an apology, saying that Legend “fits the description” of an armed robbery suspect. The alleged robber, a 20-year-old man with facial hair and locks, looks nothing like Legend Preston... except that they are both African-American.

***

The shooting of Carl Williams and the terrorizing of Legend Preston point to a reality of Amerikkka. In the Jim Crow South, every Black person lived under a death sentence, which might or might not be carried out—threatened with torture and execution at the hands of a white lynch mob. Today, under the New Jim Crow, it is the police who mostly carry out the role that the lynch mobs played. And all Black people—whether they’re a homeowner, a kid playing outside, a youth just hanging with friends on a corner, a professional driving a car, etc.—have a target on their backs, subject to being harassed, brutalized, and even murdered by the brutal enforcers of this system.

It is doubtful that there is a Black male anywhere in the U.S., South or North, who doesn’t walk around every day with a real fear of being brutalized or even being killed at the hands of the police. (See the clip Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence” from Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian.)

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/carl-dix-and-joey-johnson-challenge-to-debate-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

In Light of Colin Kaepernick's Courageous Stand:

Revolutionary Military Veteran Carl Dix and Flag-Burner Gregory “Joey” Johnson Challenge to DEBATE

September 1, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

revcom.us/Revolution received the following from Revolution Club Media:

 

September 1, 2016
For immediate release

Contact: 646 450 4701
revclubmedia@gmail.com

 

In Light of Colin Kaepernick's Courageous Stand:

Revolutionary Military Veteran Carl Dix and Flag-Burner Gregory “Joey” Johnson Challenge to DEBATE

“No one should stand for the National Anthem or salute that blood-soaked imperialist rag,” says Carl Dix, a military veteran and founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, explaining his support for Colin Kaepernick.

He has issued a challenge, “I challenge anyone who wants to defend the flag or the anthem to debate.  Let them defend selling children out of their parents’ arms during slavery, driving Native Americans off their lands, dropping napalm on civilians in Vietnam, incinerating hundreds of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, droning weddings in Afghanistan and Yemen, and locking up millions of Black and Brown people across this country.”

Carl Dix is unique among the growing number of U.S. military veterans who have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick in that Dix is no stranger to taking risks to defy enforced patriotism.  As a young man, he led the largest mass refusal of active G.I.s to fight in Vietnam.  For this, he spent two years in military prison.  As part of fighting for an actual revolution, Dix has been a leading voice for over 20 years in the fight against police terror and murder, the very issue cited by Kaepernick in his protest.

Gregory “Joey” Johnson made history himself when, in 1989, he won the Supreme Court case, Texas v. Johnson, which declared flag-burning protected speech.  In July of this year, he was again arrested, along with 15 others, after burning the American flag at the Republican National Convention.  He is currently fighting those charges.

In a recent article on Huffington Post, Johnson writes, “I am so proud of Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the national anthem. This is not merely because I respect his right to freedom of speech, though this is important. I feel this way because I absolutely hate the American flag, the national anthem, and everything they stand for.”

Dix and Johnson say they are willing to debate anyone over Colin Kaepernick's stand and over whether the National Anthem and American flag are symbols of freedom or symbols of blood-soaked oppression.  They say, “We are ready to take on all comers!”

 

Available for interview and/or debates:

Carl Dix is a courageous freedom fighter from the 1960s who went on to become a revolutionary fighter and a communist. Dix spent two years in military prison for refusing to fight in the unjust Vietnam War. He emerged unrepentant and went on to become a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), USA, dedicating his life to the emancipation of all humanity. Today, Carl is a follower of and advocate for Bob Avakian, his leadership and his visionary new synthesis of communism. Carl Dix and Cornel West co-founded the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN), and Rise Up October that brought thousands into the streets in New York City demanding a stop to police terror.

Gregory “Joey” Johnson is a follower of Revolutionary Communist leader Bob Avakian and the defendant in USSC Texas v. Johnson establishing flag burning as protected speech.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/454/sit-down-for-the-rag-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

Updated September 19, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Sit Down for Their Nasty-full Anthem! A Teachable Moment in the USA

Top 10 Reasons to Sit Down for the Nasty-full Anthem—#sitdownfortherag

All over the country, there’s a breath of fresh air blowing out of the world of athletics. From San Francisco to Alabama and beyond, from the pros to the high schools, people are taking the disgusting patriotic ritual of standing and saluting the national anthem at sporting events and using it to raise questions, register dissent, and project resistance. As you might expect, this is coming under attack—and opening up debate.

Now is the time to go to these events and bring things like “The Top 10 Reasons to Sit Down for the Nasty-full Anthem—#sitdownfortherag” and critically relevant BA quotes. If people are acting, talk to them, listen and engage. Take action yourself. Join or provoke the debate—and take it further. Bring Bob Avakian’s Invitation to people—and ways for them to take it up. Take the Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party—and put out the challenge, and the possibility, of REAL revolution.

In short: dive into the controversy... and take it further.

Click here for photo essay

Top 10 Reasons to Sit Down for the Nasty-full Anthem—#sitdownfortherag

  1. Because the United States was founded on slavery, Black people still have no rights this white supremacist system is bound to respect, and there is an epidemic of unpunished murder by police.
  2. Because the U.S.A. was built on and continues to carry out genocide of the native peoples.
  3. Because America was created by stealing half of Mexico's land in a war of conquest, rape and plunder in 1846-48.
  4. Because in America a woman is raped every 2 minutes and a woman is battered every 9 seconds—violence fueled by a culture of porn and patriarchy.
  5. Because the U.S. massacred over 200,000 innocent civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, with nuclear bombs and is the only country that's ever used them.
  6. Because the U.S. murdered 3 million people during the Vietnam War and has killed over 1.3 million in the Middle East since 9/11.
  7. Because America imprisons 2 million people, mostly Black and Latino—more than any country on earth.
  8. Because the U.S. terrorizes and demonizes immigrants, deporting 1.7 million in the last 5 years alone.
  9. Because America's wealth comes from exploiting and enslaving millions of people here and around the world, including children, from Mexico to China to Congo to Bangladesh.
  10. Because America has done more to destroy the planet's environment than any other country on earth—the U.S. military is the single greatest institutional polluter in the world.

(Download an 8.5x11 PDF here)

Sit down for Their Nasty-full Anthem!

And Don't Do the Pledge of Malfeasance to Being a Fascist Robot Either!

  • Get out to all kinds of sporting events, including high school football games—or even practices. Or, wherever the nasty-full anthem celebrating slavery, genocide and unjust war gets played on people. And make a big point of sitting down. Alone, in groups, whatever. If you're with a Revolution Club, do it as the Club for sure! And be sure to bring the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP: "Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution".
  • Print out copies of the Fact Sheet: Top Ten Reasons Why You Should NOT Salute the American Flag to let people know why you aren't going along with this shit, and why they shouldn't either.
  • Print copies of the 8.5x11 flier with BAsics 1:31, the image "Sit With Colin—No Respect for that Genocidal Rag!" and the revolutionary websites people need, and pass them out.
  • Incite and challenge students in high schools or other schools: Do Not Stand Up for that Robotic, Fascistic Pledge of Malfeasance Every Morning!

#sitdownfortherag

  • Tweet #sitdownfortherag—and sit down for the rag when they play the Nasty-full Anthem. Post your account of what happens, and send it to revolution.reports@yahoo.com.

Downloadable flier:
   

 

For social media:

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

There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:1

Now, of course, slavery was not the only factor that played a significant part in the emergence of the U.S. as a world power, whose economic strength underlies its massive military force. A major historical factor in all this was the theft of land, on a massive scale, from Mexico as well as from native peoples. But, in turn, much of that conquest of land was, for a long period of time up until the Civil War, largely to expand the slave system. "Remember the Alamo," we are always reminded. Well, many of the "heroes" of the Alamo were slave traders and slave chasers....And expanding the slave system was a major aim of the overall war with Mexico, although that war also led to the westward expansion of the developing capitalist system centered in the northern United States.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:2

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

Not only did slavery play a major role in the historical development of the U.S., but the wealth and power of the U.S. rests today on a worldwide system of imperialist exploitation that ensnares hundreds of millions, and ultimately billions, of people in conditions hardly better than those of slaves. Now, if this seems like an extreme or extravagant claim, think about the tens of millions of children throughout the Third World who, from a very, very early age, are working nearly every day of the year—as the slaves on the southern plantations in the United States used to say, "from can't see in the morning, till can't see at night"—until they've been physically used up....These are conditions very similar to outright slavery....This includes overt sexual harassment of women, and many other degradations as well.

All this is the foundation on which the imperialist system rests, with U.S. imperialism now sitting atop it all.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:4

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

Imperialism means huge monopolies and financial institutions controlling the economies and the political systems—and the lives of people—not just in one country but all over the world. Imperialism means parasitic exploiters who oppress hundreds of millions of people and condemn them to untold misery; parasitic financiers who can cause millions to starve just by pressing a computer key and thereby shifting vast amounts of wealth from one place to another. Imperialism means war—war to put down the resistance and rebellion of the oppressed, and war between rival imperialist states—it means the leaders of these states can condemn humanity to unbelievable devastation, perhaps even total annihilation, with the push of a button.

Imperialism is capitalism at the stage where its basic contradictions have been raised to tremendously explosive levels. But imperialism also means that there will be revolution—the oppressed rising up to overthrow their exploiters and tormentors—and that this revolution will be a worldwide struggle to sweep away the global monster, imperialism.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:6

These imperialists make the Godfather look like Mary Poppins.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:7

There is a semi-official narrative about the history and the "greatness" of America, which says that this greatness of America lies in the freedom and ingenuity of its people, and above all in a system that gives encouragement and reward to these qualities. Now, in opposition to this semi-official narrative about the greatness of America, the reality is that—to return to one fundamental aspect of all this—slavery has been an indispensable part of the foundation for the "freedom and prosperity" of the USA. The combination of freedom and prosperity is, as we know, still today, and in some ways today more than ever, proclaimed as the unique quality and the special destiny and mission of the United States and its role in the world. And this stands in stark contradiction to the fact that without slavery, none of this—not even the bourgeois-democratic freedoms, let alone the prosperity—would have been possible, not only in the southern United States but in the North as well, in the country as a whole and in its development and emergence as a world economic and military power.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:8

"You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics."

BAsics is a handbook for making revolution and emancipators of humanity.

Get free eBook HERE.

Order HERE.

Shitstorm Over the Nasty-ful Anthem Spreads ... Dive In! Take it Higher!

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Sit Down for Their Nasty-full Anthem! A Teachable Moment in the USA—A Photo Essay


Colin Kaepernick came and kneeled behind players and coaches from Castlemont High in Oakland as they laid on their backs with their hands up during the national anthem. (Photo via Twitter/@kirkmorrison)


Before the college football game between University of North Carolina and Pittsburgh, North Carolina fans and band members hold fists in the air during the anthem. (Photo via Twitter)


Madison, Wisconsin. High school teams Madison East Purgolders and West High Regents both take a knee during the anthem. (Photo via Twitter)


In the face of death threats, the entire Beaumont (Texas) Bulls youth football team and their coach continued to refuse to stand for the national anthem, September 17. (Photo via twitter/@Shaun King)
See also "Texas Youth Football Team Refuses to Stand for the Anthem Despite Death Threats."


Howard University cheerleaders kneel for the national anthem before the game, September 17.(Photo via Twitter/@WPGC)


Camden, NJ Woodrow Wilson High School, September 10. (Photo: twitter/@PhilAnastasia)


San Francisco: Every player on the Mission High School football team took the knee before their game, September 16. (Photo via twitter/@nbcbayarea)


Seattle: Garfield High Bulldogs knelt in unison with their coaches during the playing of the nasty-full anthem, September 16. They were joined by some players on the Wildcats sideline.


Megan Rapinoe continues her protest, and the U.S. Soccer Federation announced it will not discipline her for kneeling during the national anthem, September 15. (Photo: Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

View photo essay

The Revolution Club, Bay Area, at the 49ers Game: Intervening In a Polarized Crowd

Revolution Club at the SF 49ers

Read more

The Shitstorm Over Sitting Down for the National Anthem... And Breaking Out of EVERYTHING the USA Stands For

From a reader:

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand for the national anthem has unleashed a shitstorm. He told the press: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

What happened next points to an important truth: a courageous stand by a single individual against oppression can reveal deep discontent and unleash protest very broadly. Of course, the haters—racists, Fox News fascists, police unions, Donald Trump, and idiots who just resented having their football disrupted by reality—are flipping out. But what is more important, and interesting—starting from the need to get to a world without exploitation and oppression and what that’s gonna take—is what the controversy reveals about deep and wide outrage in society over the way police murder people and get away with it, over and over. And more: by doing this in a way that goes up against the ritual of flag worship that people are expected to participate in, this raises questions about the whole society and the so-called American way of life.

Read more

From the Revolution Club, Bay Area

The New Communism and Internationalism, Shaking up the Campus

September 2: School is starting, and the Revolution Club in the Bay Area headed out to "Calapalooza," a University of California at Berkeley campus-wide event where all the student organizations host booths and thousands of students are out, getting connected and involved.

Into the middle of Calapalooza was the Revolution Club, challenging students to get organized now for an actual revolution, to overthrow the whole system, at the soonest possible time. An American flag was on the ground with one person sitting on it....

Read more

From the Revolution Club, NYC

The Revolution Club in New York—
DIS-Respecting the Flag and Shaking Things Up at Columbia University

Read more

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/455/the-new-communism-and-internationalism-shaking-up-the-campus-en.html

Revolution #454 August 30, 2016

The Revolution Club, Bay Area, Shaking Up UC Berkeley: Jumping into Kaepernick Shitstorm, DIS-Respecting the Flag

September 2, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

School is starting, and the Revolution Club in the Bay Area headed out to "Calapalooza," a University of California at Berkeley campus-wide event where all the student organizations host booths and thousands of students are out, getting connected and involved. The Revolution Club was responding to the call at revcom.us: Sit down for Their Nasty-full Anthem! And Don’t Do the Pledge of Malfeasance to Being a Fascist Robot Either!

Sit with Kaepernick UCB 8-31-16

Into the middle of Calapalooza was the Revolution Club, challenging students to get organized now for an actual revolution, to overthrow the whole system, at the soonest possible time. An American flag was on the ground with one person sitting on it. On one side of the flag were visuals from revcom.us: the graphic upholding Colin Kaepernick's bold move in refusing to stand for the national anthem; the centerfold: Land of the Thief, Home of the Slave; a graphic with two quotes from Bob Avakian on internationalism; the sign: "America was NEVER great! We need to overthrow the system!" On the other side was a whiteboard that read: “I support Colin Kaepernick because...”

This bold move was much needed! Students came over to express shades of opinion on Kaepernick, and fundamentally on the U.S. empire. They came over to question the action: Why are you doing that? The whole scene got under people's skin. Over the course of hours, students would come over and passionately argue, storm off, and then come back, unable to stay away. Some students sat on the flag and talked about all kinds of important questions facing humanity, and the nature and role of U.S. capitalism-imperialism in the world. Consistently, students were challenged to confront the real history and actual role of the U.S. in the world, to dig seriously and scientifically into the root of the problem, and use all their critical thinking to engage the with solution: the New Communism.

       

If you were there, you would have seen people, mainly students, of a vast variety of nationalities, genders, and ages engrossed in back-and-forth with the revolutionaries: from violently angry, to supportive but defensive, to enthusiastically friendly. You would have seen a lot of curiosity and critical thinking. If you stuck around for a while, you would have seen...

Proper display of U.S. flag

Calapalooza August 31, 2016

Answers to "#ISupportKaepernick Because..." at University of California, Berkeley, August 31. Photo: Special to revcom.us.