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Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
A pathbreaking new book from Bob Avakian is available now: THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation.
As described on the book’s cover:
FOR ANYONE WHO CARES ABOUT THE STATE OF THE WORLD and the condition of humanity and agonizes over whether fundamental change is really possible, this landmark work provides a sweeping and comprehensive orientation, foundation, and guide to making the most radical of revolutions: a communist revolution aimed at emancipating humanity—getting beyond all forms of oppression and exploitation on a world scale.
THE AUTHOR, BOB AVAKIAN, IS THE ARCHITECT OF A NEW SYNTHESIS OF COMMUNISM. This new synthesis is a continuation of, but also represents a qualitative leap beyond, and in some important ways a break with, communist theory as it had been previously developed. Avakian has written this book in such a way as to make even complex theory accessible to a broad audience. In this book, he draws on his decades of work advancing the science of communism and his experience as a revolutionary communist leader, including leading the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, as its Chairman since its founding in 1975.
THIS IS A PATHBREAKING WORK, one that scientifically analyzes the system of capitalism-imperialism and its unresolvable contradictions; confronts the challenges facing the movement for revolution; and forges a way forward to making an actual revolution in this country, as part of contributing to communist revolution internationally.
This work is being released at a time of unspeakable and unnecessary suffering from one corner of the globe to the other—millions driven from their homes by unjust wars and environmental destruction, rampant violence and hatred against women, relentless murder and brutality against Black and Brown people by police in the U.S., vicious attacks on immigrants, and much more. It comes as well at a time of tremendous upheaval, with powerful resistance breaking out and people taking bold stands, and with many more being shaken into political life—and deeply disgusted—not only by the fascism of Trump but also the war crimes and lies of Clinton and the Democrats.
All this heightens the importance, and the basis, for this book and Bob Avakian (BA) to be taken out and engaged very, very broadly. If you are questioning—or rising up against—the crimes of this system... If you are an intellectual or artist, a scientist or religious person... If you are locked down in prison or trapped on the hard streets seeking a way to fight and to understand the world and how to change it... If you are from the new generation of students and budding intellectuals who this system is working to train as administrators of its system, but who need to—and can—become leaders and fighters for a world free of exploitation and oppression... Get into—and help spread—this book.
This fall must be a time when THE NEW COMMUNISM gets out very widely and Bob Avakian is engaged as never before.
A major book launch event for THE NEW COMMUNISM has just been announced for Saturday, October 8, at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, featuring Cornel West and Carl Dix. Cornel West stands out among intellectuals for his principle, as well as his work, and stands out as well for having engaged BA, including in the historic Dialogue on Revolution and Religion, and Carl Dix is a longtime follower of Bob Avakian and a revolutionary leader in his own right. Andy Zee, the spokesperson for Revolution Books NYC, will moderate the event, which is sponsored by New York Revolution Books, The Bob Avakian Institute, Revolution Books Educational Fund, and Insight Press. The event, together with a special fundraising reception to follow at Revolution Books, again featuring Cornel West and Carl Dix, will raise funds for the further promotion of THE NEW COMMUNISM.
This is an opportunity for hundreds to gather in one place to hear readings from and discussion of this new book, to raise funds, and to make a big splash about the book and its author in the realm of public opinion very broadly.
As BA himself has put it:
There is an urgent need for this new synthesis to be taken up, broadly, in this society and in the world as a whole: everywhere people are questioning why things are the way they are, and whether a different world is possible; everywhere people are talking about “revolution” but have no real understanding of what revolution means, no scientific approach to analyzing and dealing with what they are up against and what needs to be done; everywhere people are rising up in rebellion but are hemmed in, let down and left to the mercy of murderous oppressors, or misled onto paths which only reinforce, often with barbaric brutality, the enslaving chains of tradition; everywhere people need a way out of their desperate conditions, but do not see the source of their suffering and the path forward out of the darkness.
We encourage readers to write in with their thoughts on THE NEW COMMUNISM, their experiences taking it out, and their ideas for making this work and its author a really big deal throughout society (send to firstname.lastname@example.org). Together, let’s dive into this pathbreaking book and help make a leap projecting it, and its author, Bob Avakian, into all corners of society.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The publication of THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation is a major opening to really promote BA and his analysis of the problem and solution and the whole scientific method he’s taken to another level—and that requires organization! To begin with, it’s time to re-forge the BA Everywhere Committees and take them to a much higher level.
The BA Everywhere campaign flows out of the recognition by revolutionaries that making BA known throughout all of society is one of the most decisive parts—indeed, the leading edge—of building a movement for revolution. The heart of this campaign is a major struggle in the realm of ideas over the question: what is the problem facing humanity and what is the solution? To sharpen this up, as BA himself has put it, “What we’re promoting when we are promoting BA Everywhere is the advance in the understanding of the necessity, the possibility, the character, the strategy and the means for revolution aiming for the final goal of communism.” All this is extremely concentrated in this new book, THE NEW COMMUNISM. At the same time, this campaign embraces and encompasses many—coming from a great diversity of perspectives—who may not themselves be convinced of the need for revolution or of everything BA is putting forward, but who agree it would make a very liberating difference in society if millions of people knew about and were engaging the work and leadership of BA. Through the BA Everywhere campaign, all these kinds of people come together to raise massive amounts of money to project BA and his work far and wide.
Through this period, the BA Everywhere Committees must become vibrant mass forms involving people from many different backgrounds and outlooks. These committees must be a place where people can dig into BA’s work together and actively raise the funds needed to make BA a household name. They should be reaching out to all kinds of people and developing a growing network of donors. They should host salons to give people the opportunity to dig into BA’s work together. (See the article “Taking Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis of Communism to Academic Sociology Conferences: ‘Wow, I’ve never thought of that...’” in this issue for an example of the kinds of things these committees could be doing.)
The BA Institute must also grow and become more widely known through this. Many more people need to be won to support it financially and through their active involvement so that it can fulfill its mission: “to preserve, project, and promote the works and vision of Bob Avakian with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience.”
Even as they step up efforts to take out and organize people on the basis of the Message from the RCP’s Central Committee, the Revolution Clubs need to be immersing themselves in and wrangling with THE NEW COMMUNISM and taking it out to all those they are working with. They should also organize special efforts (and take part in those organized by others) to get out, and get people into, this book. This book must be the foundation on which a whole new wave of real revolutionaries—true emancipators of humanity—are brought forward to change the world.
Buzz, anticipation, and engagement with this book must be built throughout the intellectual, cultural, and artistic scenes. Everywhere people are debating the current state of political affairs, everywhere people are making art that explores this country’s crimes or struggles to envision a better way things could be, everywhere people are coming together in scenes that celebrate the great diversity of humanity rather than the ugly divisions fostered by this system, everywhere people are wrestling with big ideas in philosophy and science and more, people need to be getting advance copies of THE NEW COMMUNISM and buying tickets—especially premium fundraising tickets—to the October 8 launch.
Word needs to spread through social media, online, and on the airwaves about this. Blurbs from people who have read, or begun seriously digging into, THE NEW COMMUNISM, need to be solicited now and then must get out broadly, as part of spurring many more to engage and be there on the 8th. Palm cards and posters need to be spread very widely. Immigrant communities and intellectuals of various diasporas need to be reached with this.
This must be taken to students of all kinds—yes, those who are active in the social movements and studying social injustice, but also those in the sciences and arts, in history and philosophy, in engineering and business and more. Students who threw themselves into the Bernie campaign and now are trying to figure out what to do... Students who are part of the renewed interest in Marxism and communism... Students who have been propelled by the struggle against police murder and racism, or against sexual assault or the deportations or the wars or the environmental destruction... They must be invited and challenged to get into this book and to attend and bring others to the launch.
By going out to all these sections of people with BA and his new book, THE NEW COMMUNISM, let’s make a real leap in both getting BA known and engaged very broadly and in building the growing, organized mass movement to spread this through all of society and raise the funds necessary to do so.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, The New Communism. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. A prepublication copy is available on line at revcom.us.
This excerpt comes from the section titled "II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism: A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation."
Now, in relation to this, I wanted to quote something from a fairly recent book. It's from the "Prologue" of this book, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives,36 by Sasha Abramsky, who is sort of a good liberal writing about how there is still a lot of poverty in America. But he feels obliged at the beginning of this book to state the following: “After all, no society in human history has ever successfully banished poverty; and no polity with a modicum of respect for individual liberty has entirely negated the presence of inequality.” Now let’s break this down. First of all, to borrow a phrase from Marx (and maybe at the same time to borrow a phrase from the movie, Cool Hand Luke): What we have here is a poverty of philosophy—a poverty of imagination and of understanding. It’s true that nowhere, neither in the Soviet Union nor in China when they were socialist, did they completely abolish poverty. They were starting from situations of very impoverished masses of people, but they made tremendous strides toward abolishing poverty. And, at the end of his life, when Mao was battling—on his deathbed, basically—with these revisionists who have since come to power and restored capitalism in China, that was a big part of the struggle. The revisionists were arguing—and they now have implemented and are celebrating—that if we go the capitalist route, we can elevate sections of the population out of poverty. And they declare now that they’ve raised several hundred million people out of poverty. But what they’ve done in essence is created the most crass and horrible society, the most crude kind of commodity relations, where they have these newborn entrepreneurs—in other words, newborn exploiters (some millionaires, even some billionaires)—but the masses of people are still enmeshed in horrible conditions of poverty, hundreds and hundreds of millions of people, and all the old social relations—prostitution, and all kinds of other horrific things—have come back with a vengeance. What Mao was arguing was this: We have to stay on the socialist road; we have to lift up the entire people, step by step, out of poverty, rather than going for a “get rich quick” thing of making China a powerful modern country and raising up certain parasitic bourgeois strata, and certain privileged petit bourgeois strata, while the masses of people continue to suffer. Unfortunately, the wrong side in that struggle won out. But, before that, with the socialist system, they had made tremendous gains in eliminating poverty, and you can read about that in the special issue of Revolution—the Interview with Raymond Lotta37—about the history of communism and the lessons for the future of humanity. It is pointed out there, for example, that when the revolution triumphed in China, around 1950, life expectancy on the average was something like 32 years. That’s how long people lived on the average. And by the time capitalism was restored (or by 1975, just before it was restored), life expectancy in China had doubled to something around 65. And that was pretty near world standards at that time. Coming from this tremendous background and situation of massive poverty, that was a tremendous change, through which a lot of people had been lifted out of dire poverty. So, on the one hand, this guy Abramsky just wipes out this whole experience, or discounts it.
And then you get to the second part, which is put in language that we should break down a little bit: “no polity with a modicum of respect for individual liberty,” he says—in other words, no society, with even a minimum of respect for individual liberty—“has entirely negated the presence of inequality.” And the implication of what he’s saying is not just that this hasn’t been done, but that you shouldn’t do that—that if you try to eliminate all inequality, you are bound to violate people’s rights, bound to violate civil liberties. In other words, you could only do that by “totalitarian” means—this is, in essence, what he’s saying. And, here again, we see the total lack of what? Of the ability to see beyond the narrow horizon of bourgeois right. To see beyond this to where a society would actually operate on the principle of “From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.” Here’s the thing about communism: It’s not like Alain Badiou, and these opportunists who have taken up a lot of his thinking, argue—it’s not that communism is just the urge to equality. No. Communism involves moving beyond equality. It’s moving beyond where equality is a question. Why? Because we want gross inequality? No. Because when you move to communism, and you get beyond commodity production and exchange and the law of value—and you go according to ability and need, as the slogan says—then you’ve actually gotten to a point where equality doesn’t figure in. Marx pointed out—and this is something that was also brought out in the Cultural Revolution in China—that every equality also involves inequality. For example, if you are working on a job next to me, and you’re a single mother with three kids and I’m just a guy taking care of myself, we get the same wage, but it’s not really equal. It’s equal, but it’s unequal, because you have much greater needs, so the wage you get doesn’t give you equality with me in a real sense, because I don’t have as many people who are dependent on me. And then there’s also the fact that everybody and all their abilities are not equal. This is something that was brought out in the Ardea Skybreak Interview very powerfully. What about the idea that everybody should be equal? And she responds, why do people say such stupid things?! Then she goes on to say, look, everybody doesn’t have the same inclinations, the same strengths, they can’t do all the same things with the same quality, and so on. And I don’t feel badly, she says, if some people can do some things better than me—if somebody is a high level artistic performer and they get up on the concert stage, I don’t think I should be up there trying to match them in what they’re doing.
It’s like that ad—maybe you’ve seen it—where they say, OK today for this symphony performance, instead of having the world class violinist Itzhak Perlman, we’re gonna have Rhea Perlman, the comedian, play the violin. And she comes out and goes arreee-a-reee-reee, making a horrible screeching sound with a violin. No, everybody is not equal in everything. So if you and I are doing the same work, the work we do, what we put in, may not be equal in terms of the quality of our work. So when we get the same wage, it’s equal, but it’s unequal, because you’re actually contributing more with your work, the quality of your work is higher. When you get beyond commodity relations, you deal with need, with people contributing and then getting back on the basis of need—you’ve removed the question of equality and inequality from the picture. You’re just going according to people’s abilities and needs.
So, once again, if you can’t see beyond this narrow horizon of commodity relations, then you can’t see how you could have a society in which you have no poverty and at the same time there is a flourishing of people’s intellectual, cultural and social life, and even the question of rights would have no meaning in the sense in which it does today.
In any case, rights are always a contradictory thing. Rights are always a matter of contradiction—the rights of certain people are always in contradiction with the rights of other people, and rights always have limits on them. Think about this—you have probably heard this, although it’s almost always misquoted—you hear people say: “Freedom of speech is not absolute; you can’t shout ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater.” See, they usually don’t state it quite correctly: You can’t shout “fire!” in a crowded theater, if there is no fire. But, anyway, that is a limitation on free speech. Now, in this society—here’s another contradiction—they always talk as if things are in terms of the individual and individual rights, but fundamentally they’re in terms of social relations. And that’s true of speech, and limitations on speech. Shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater, when there is no fire, does harm socially—and, more specifically, it does harm to the interests of the ruling class, it undermines their ability to maintain order and stability and to have people believe that they can run a well-regulated society. Of course, it might also harm individuals who could get trampled in this situation, but that’s not the fundamental and essential reason that there is this limitation on free speech. It’s the social effect—and, more specifically, the way in which this would affect the interests of the ruling class—that is the decisive and determining thing.
36. Sasha Abramsky, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives (Nation Books, 2014). [back]
37. Raymond Lotta, “You Don’t Know What You Think You ‘Know’ About...The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future,” an Interview with Raymond Lotta. Special issue of Revolution #323, November 24, 2013. Available at revcom.us. Also available as an eBook from insight-press.com. See also thisiscommunism.org. [back]
Introduction and Orientation
Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit
Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science
Materialism vs. Idealism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights
Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation
The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—
Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity
Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution
One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Part IV. The Leadership We Need
The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion
Selected List of Works Cited
About the Author
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
Taking Bob Avakian's New Synthesis of Communism to Academic Sociology Conferences
September 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Palm card (front and back) distributed by The Bob Avakian Institute
Click image to enlarge
For individual orders: at Revolution Books NYC, Revolution Books Berkeley, and Insight Press
Will be available soon at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores
For "Buy 2 at a discount with second one sent to a prisoner" and bulk orders: Contact Insight Press, email@example.com or (773) 329-1699. Payment accepted via credit card or money order. Or write Insight Press, 4044 N. Lincoln Ave., #264, Chicago, IL 60618
Booksellers and Book Clubs: Contact Independent Publishers Group (IPG), Baker & Taylor, Ingram and other wholesalers.
Pre-publication PDF of this major work available here.
Last week, I joined a few volunteers with The Bob Avakian Institute to attend two academic conferences of sociologists that were happening back-to-back. There were thousands of people there digging into a whole range of important questions: the environmental disaster, the study of social movements, mass incarceration and the role of the police, the history of capitalism and slavery, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the different forms the oppression of women is taking internationally, the conditions of immigrants and refugees, and much more. Some of these sociologists were aiming to study questions from a more theoretical vantage point and others were working to have their studies lead to more concrete policy changes. There were grad students working on their PhDs to prominent academics from all across the country, and some internationally. In line with the mission of The BA Institute, we went with the aim of promoting the serious engagement with the new synthesis of communism which represents a revolution in human thought.
We distributed palm cards announcing the upcoming release of THE NEW COMMUNISM, in addition to a couple dozen pre-publication manuscripts of the new work. We also gave out a lot of copies of “The New Synthesis of Communism: Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach, and Core Elements,” which provides an outline of the new synthesis. And we also got out a number of Avakian’s other core works.
We spoke up from the floor in about 40 panels, introducing ourselves as volunteers with The Bob Avakian Institute, wielding a quote from BA in relation to what was on the floor, posing a question or point of struggle and sometimes directly speaking to the need for people to get into BA (which was often tied in directly to letting people know that he’s written a Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America) at times when people directly said things like, “We don’t know the answer or the way out.” These were very important interventions and a number of times reframed the whole discussion. Usually after these interventions, people would come up to us, thanking us for our comments, wanting to know more, and we were able to get into the discussion and debate more deeply with people.
We spoke with a lot of professors and grad students individually about the content of Avakian’s work, the fact that this is someone on the level of Marx who has put communism on a more thoroughly scientific foundation. Most sociologists are familiar with Marx’s work to some degree and were interested in the questions of epistemology and the world-historic breakthroughs Avakian has made in that regard. In speaking to this, we often quoted directly from how Avakian himself describes the significance of the new synthesis. That it “represents and embodies a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has existed within communism in its development up to this point, between its fundamentally scientific method and approach, and aspects of communism which have run counter to this.” Some people knew Avakian’s name but had never read his theoretical work, and most didn’t know that he’s spent decades working on the biggest questions confronting humanity. One prominent academic said, “Huh, I don’t know why I’ve never read Avakian” and was very glad to get a copy of his new work.
This was a rich process where we were able to learn a great deal, and have an important impact, including a lot of struggle over questions of science and revolution, the illusions of democracy, the principally emancipatory character of the first stage of communist revolution, how Avakian has analyzed the social base for revolution, and more. Several times, I posed the question BA digs into in THE NEW COMMUNISM: “through which mode of production will any social problem be addressed?” And we struggled through the actual nature of the problem and why the horrors people were exposing are unresolvable under the current system of capitalism-imperialism.
I can’t here do justice to all the range of exchanges we had but want to give readers of revcom.us a sense of just some of what went on:
* There was one panel on neoliberalism and the welfare state. The format of this was really good in that it enabled a lot of lively back and forth among the panelists and between the panelists and the audience. The panel included someone who was trying to come at the question of the struggle against poverty from a more collective/community-based perspective (vs. approaching on an individual level); someone who did a paper with very heavy exposure about the relationship between surveillance and welfare, studying mainly Black people (mostly women) and how much the scrutiny and invasion of privacy goes into the welfare system; someone who looked at the relationship in the Middle East between the costs of social spending vs. military spending, comparing the period before and after the Arab Spring to show how much more repressive these societies have become. The moderator opened by basically posing: neoliberalism is getting more and more intense and rapacious, the welfare state has been gutted, and the labor movements are dead, and pointed in agonizing ways to what happened in Greece: this was our dream and it got crushed. After the different panelists presented, they opened it up to the floor. The first question came from someone who asked the panelists to define neoliberalism. In speaking to this, you got a sense of how, in the main, neoliberalism was being treated as something separate or anomalous to the basic functioning of capitalism-imperialism.
I spoke from the floor and made the argument that neoliberalism is not separate from capitalism-imperialism and spoke briefly to how Avakian has analyzed the driving force of anarchy under capitalism. It is this expand-or-die competition that has driven these different states to gut the social safety net. I pointed to the example from Greece but also the policy proposals of Black Lives Matter (this was referenced by the moderator as something good which everyone should read). I said I had read them, and while there are just demands within them, they are completely impossible under this system and are ultimately appealing to the very system which is the source of the problem. I quoted Marx (one of the main quotes I used throughout the whole of the conference), “you can’t lay hold of the ready-made machinery of the state.” We have to make an actual revolution, and I spoke briefly to what that is, and emphasized that we have to replace this with a socialist state, a transition to communism. And I asked people to speak to this question of the need to confront, defeat and dismantle the state which enforces this whole system of capitalism-imperialism.
People responded in different ways to this: some to the concern of what would replace it, the person who had studied the Middle East talked about the danger of dismantling the Iraqi army, that this led to tremendous chaos. Someone else on the panel spoke more positively and openly to what I raised, except added, yes, but I don’t know how we would do that, or what would replace it.
The discussion continued, speaking to different questions, but was reshaped in important ways by the pole planted in relation to an actual revolution. Interestingly, there was some defensiveness from the panelists, “this isn’t a full rev, but...” But also, in terms of the proposals being put forward, there was a lot of spontaneous American chauvinism. People talking about shopping at local farmers markets, boycotting big corporations, etc. The guy who had done his study on women on welfare critiqued the solutions people were putting forward as entirely out of the realm of what was possible for the women he had interviewed. There are no local farmers markets, and they don’t get to choose “not to participate.”
I spoke a second time to two things: First, building on the panelist’s comments about the more oppressed in this country, I put this in an international context and quoted BA that “American lives are not more important than other people’s lives.” That he was right to point to the conditions of these women on welfare and we also need to look at how the discussion of farmers markets, etc. sits on the blood and bones of the people of the world, enforced by a brutal U.S. military. We can’t look at trying to rescue “the welfare state” in the empire which lives off the people of the world. It’s not only profoundly immoral, it’s impossible.
And second, straight up, there are answers in the new synthesis of communism which has been developed by BA, and I pointed specifically to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America and the fact that he’s developed a strategic approach to making an actual revolution in the U.S. and is leading a party right now which is getting organized for an actual revolution. I encouraged everyone there to get into this and to come talk to me afterwards. Several did, and I spoke with a few people from that panel throughout the conference.
I spoke with one of the panelists afterwards more about the question of revolution. We actually started talking about why these contradictions can’t be resolved under this system and what really is the nature of the problem. He was pretty agonized about this and very intellectually honest. He ran up against the impossibility of doing anything positive on a mass scale within this system but was also vexed and torn about revolution. He said something along the lines of: “I know what you’re saying is true but I really wish there were another way, but I really don’t think there is but I wish there were.” He raised frankly the question of violence, and another volunteer talked about the importance of people fighting based on being emancipators of humanity vs. revenge and pointed to BA’s leadership on this question. This was important, and he really hadn’t thought of the potential for revolution based on something more positive. But also, on the question of violence, I talked about the violence that goes on every day in this system and got into some examples of all that: the wars, torture, drones, murder by police, mass rapes, and on and on. He kind of stopped in his tracks and said, “Everything you just said is so true.” I spoke with him again a few days later, and he said that he hadn’t stopped thinking about that last point since we spoke.
Another panelist we spoke to a few days later also said that, since my comments, she had been thinking about what a bubble she lives in and wants to seriously look into what BA is saying is possible. Another person on the panel later said he didn’t mean to be cynical and agreed that his sights were way too low; he took a copy of the Constitution, and I said I would send him a link to “On the Possibility of Revolution,” which digs into how, in a revolutionary situation, a revolution could be fought with a real chance to win. He was very open and appreciative of this.
* Sometimes there was a need for much sharper struggle. There was one plenary session on “Rethinking Social Movements” which was the theme of the bigger of the two conferences. The people on the panel were celebrating social movements as if they are by themselves all that is needed in the world. This was infused by people talking about how everything is looking up and the people will definitely win out. One person on the panel talked about all the changes that have taken place because people have organized and fought for justice and that this is the main thing happening in the world right now. She talked about being hopeful that the demands of the people are being heard and also emphasized the importance of voting and how Trump will certainly be defeated... that we have to vote for Hillary and keep pressuring the system to move to the left.
One of the people on our team got up and introduced herself as a volunteer with The Bob Avakian Institute, explaining that Avakian has developed a whole new synthesis of communism. She asked the panelists to speak to the question of illusions. And then went on to describe the actual reality we’re confronting on the planet: “a world where Islamic fundamentalism and U.S. imperialism are warring it out, in Syria and in all of these places around the world where refugees are coming across and drowning in the oceans. These are things compelled by the system of capitalism-imperialism.” She united with the importance of the movements of resistance, in particular against police murder (which had been highlighted from the plenary) but said that still, “Every day you watch another person being killed on video and not one cop is indicted. We have to understand deeply the oppression of Black people in this country and that when the police murder people, they are doing their job because they are keeping a system in position that keeps people oppressed... The state is not something you can just pressure this way or that—it is actually the armed enforcement of a system. This is what they learned in Egypt, the army was not their friends, and a million people were wrong when they went along with that. Avakian has developed a scientific understanding that stares that state straight in the face, and says that we need to make an actual revolution and we can build a whole different kind of society. But we can’t sidestep it. Trump is a fascist... and he is unleashing a fascist base, a brown shirts organization on the streets of this country today, and then we have a war criminal who the generals are saying is your best bet against him. This is an outrageous illegitimate system and we need to make a revolution. And I want you to speak to that reality vs. some make-believe about how we just keep doing this thing over and over again...”
No one on the panel did speak to it, and it made some people in the room uncomfortable, but it was vital to bring that kind of sharp reality check to people.
* In a follow-up discussion after a panel on surveillance, one of the volunteers talked with a law professor who was arguing that surveillance is a problem but we live in a democratic society so we can solve this within that framework. They had a sharp and substantive struggle about the nature of democracy and what the U.S. does in the name of that around the world. The professor tried to argue that democracy here and repression abroad were two different things and while the latter was bad, we just have to work to correct it. She (the volunteer) argued back that you can’t separate the trappings of democracy from the fact of dictatorship, the armed enforcement of the system of imperialism and the struggle for economic and political global control. Surveillance exists and is utilized in that context. He said in response: “Wow, I’ve never thought about that.” And he was very interested in getting into the compilation of BA's writings which was published by The BA Institute, Constitution, Law, and Rights—in capitalist society and in the future socialist society.
* There were a lot of panels dealing with the environmental emergency. One scholar I heard spoke powerfully to the urgency of the situation by calling what is happening now around the environment “inter-generational murder” and arguing that we have to really put ourselves to understanding this and stopping it. In the discussion section in these panels, one of the main topics was what to do about this.
One of these panels was on the environmental social movements. One professor spoke to the need to understand the problem more fully but then talked about how we need to “appeal to the enlightened 1%” against the real enemy: the greedy bankers, those in corporate control, etc. He said we needed a revolution but defined that as a peaceful, spiritual “democratic social movement” combined with making radical personal choices (i.e., to personally use less energy).
Another panelist gave an important presentation discussing something that was spoken to rarely at the conference: the role of the state. Using examples in relation to environmental justice (things like the lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan, or big polluters that destroy the water, air or soil in oppressed neighborhoods), he said the federal government has not only done nothing about these crimes, they have helped cover them up in different ways. When they’ve been mandated to do certain things to clean up an area, these laws and mandates are ignored. He also talked about the repression that various movements have faced: from the animal rights struggles to Occupy. He critiqued the way too many in the climate justice movement appeal to the state, and aim to work with the state to solve the problem of the environment in a way that legitimizes the very state structures that are not just causing the problem but repressing people here and around the world, in particular Black and Latino people. Coming from a more anarchist framework, he connected this to how he sees the problem with states more overall (not differentiating that states can be wielded for oppressive ends or liberating ones depending on which system is being enforced). But this was an important and refreshing contribution to the discussion.
This Revolution special issue focuses on the environmental emergency that now faces humanity and Earth's ecosystems. In this issue we show:
There were two other panelists who talked about movements for climate justice: in the U.S. and internationally, with one giving emphasis to organizers on a campus and the other discussing the climate justice protests that have taken place outside the summits of governments coming together to come to agreements on carbon usage and more. While there was important exposure about the climate situation, they were looking more internally at the character of the movements themselves and not whether those movements will actually deal with the problem as it is, and as it’s getting more dire.
I spoke from the floor and opened my comments disagreeing with the first panelist. Yes, we have to identify the problem but even if there were such a thing as “the enlightened 1%,” they can’t deal with this problem in any kind of way that will benefit humanity even if they wanted to. They are bound by the rules and dynamics of this system of capitalism-imperialism, and I spoke some about how that functions. The climate crisis is unresolvable under this system. I said that he was wrong about what a revolution is. In line with that, I appreciated the other panelist’s comments on the role of the state. This system is enforced by that state, and I again quoted the point above from Marx, that “you can’t lay hold of the ready-made machinery of the state.” That we have to make an actual revolution, where—in a revolutionary situation—a revolutionary people in their millions meets, defeats and dismantles that violent repressive apparatus and their institutions of power and replaces that with new institutions of power, and a new state that could actually lead to emancipation and provide a basis for human beings to actually be fit caretakers of the earth. And I encouraged people to get into BA’s work on all this.
Finally, while I think there was something to unite with among people who are fighting to do something about this, we can’t just set up arrangements that make us feel good while our planet burns. I asked people to comment on the following: We can’t all agree the patient is dying of cancer and then kid ourselves that cough syrup will cure it... we can’t say we all agree this is an emergency and then just put one foot in front of the other working on whatever is in front of us and hope somehow it will all work out in the end. We need the courage to confront the problem and seek out the solution that actually measures up to that.
The panel was nearing the end of its time, but one of the panelists spoke and said she appreciated what I said and was herself quite agonized about it, but didn’t have an answer. She was open to hearing radical answers but didn’t know herself how to approach that. This was very honest on her part and important—she didn’t try to promote illusions just to make people feel better.
* Finally, another significant thing that went on is that we were able, in the midst of the conference and its immediate aftermath, to have a few one-on-one meetings with professors to get more deeply into BA’s work and the work of The Bob Avakian Institute. In this we got more deeply into the struggle over the nature of the problem and solution, and the significance of Avakian’s work in speaking to and dealing with all that. And on the basis of opening up deeper engagement, talked about how they could be part of making this known more broadly. All offered their thinking and questions about the content of BA’s work, and committed to reading the new work, and as they were committing to this crucial process, weighed in on how to best get this work into the center of what is being taught and wrangled over in the study of human society on college campuses.
This whole experience—the response from people broadly to what Avakian’s work concentrates and how the urgently changing objective situation is impacting people—underscored how pressing and vital it is to really have Avakian’s work engaged throughout society. This also has a lot to do with the importance of going to this strata with a strategic orientation—aiming for nothing less than what BA describes as the “‘transfer of allegiance’ of a section of the intelligentsia” to the side of revolution and communism with “a very broad embrace, very wide arms, on the basis of being firmly grounded in the necessary solid core.” There is a big need and opportunity for all this right now with the upcoming release of THE NEW COMMUNISM. The need to make BA a point of reference and point of contention is palpable, and you can see—in just this tiny sample—that it could really make all the difference.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On September 9, 1971, the most powerful and significant prison rebellion in U.S. history erupted at Attica state prison in New York. Attica was part of the Black liberation struggle and the revolutionary upheaval of the 1960s. (AP Photo)
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.
This September 9 marks the 45th anniversary of the prisoners’ uprising at Attica.
The Crime: On September 13, 1971, police, sheriffs, park police, and the National Guard launched a murderous assault at Attica prison in upstate New York, killing 39 unarmed people
Four days earlier, on September 9, the most powerful and significant prison rebellion in U.S. history had erupted at Attica. Over half of Attica’s 2,200 inmates, mainly Black but also white and Puerto Rican prisoners, seized control of large parts of the prison, taking 38 guards hostage.
The uprising was fueled by the guards’ routine abuse, horrific living conditions, the state’s refusal to address their grievances, and the racism and national oppression permeating Attica and U.S. society. Many Attica prisoners had been radicalized by the upheavals of the 1960s, and the August 21 murder of the revolutionary prisoner and leader George Jackson, by guards at California’s San Quentin prison, hit them very hard, sparking a silent fast in protest.
The spirit of the Attica Brothers, as they came to be called, was captured by their 21-year-old spokesman L.D. Barkley: “We are men. We are not beasts, and we do not intend to be beaten and driven as such... What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed...”
The prisoners took control of D-yard and a number of cellblocks. They organized food, medical care, sanitation, workshops, command posts, and a security squad to ensure the safety of the hostages. They issued demands “that will bring closer to reality the demise of these prison institutions that serve no useful purpose to the People of America, but to those who would enslave and exploit the people of America.” Their key demands included complete amnesty for their takeover, transport to a “non-imperialistic country” for those who wanted it, and negotiation through a team of observers that they chose. They set forth 15 “practical proposals,” including freedom for political activity and ending the censorship of literature sent into the prison.
The Attica prisoners reached out to the world and to prominent voices in the U.S., including radical lawyer William Kunstler, Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale, leaders of the Puerto Rican Young Lords Party, and New York Times writer Tom Wicker. “We are standing here for the oppressed people of the world, and we are not going to give up or knuckle under,” Herbert X Blyden declared, “We are going to show the way, for we know the way!”
The Attica rebellion took place as the U.S. was being rocked by powerful upheavals against the oppression of Black people and the Vietnam War. There was a mass revolt against mainstream American culture. The legitimacy of the existing order was under severe duress, millions dreamed of revolution, and the rulers feared things could slip from their control. They were shocked and shaken by the prison takeover. New York prison officials refused to accept the prisoners’ demands, especially for amnesty. Governor Nelson Rockefeller rejected calls from many quarters to visit the prison. Instead, he and New York’s police forces secretly planned a full-scale military assault.
September 13. The assault began shortly after 9:30 am. when National Guard helicopters showered the prison with a burning, choking fog of CN and CS tear gas. The Attica prisoners had no guns and hadn’t engaged in any violence after their takeover, but moments later over 550 state troopers and sharpshooters opened fire with shotguns, pistols, Thompson submachine guns and semi-automatics. They unleashed an indiscriminate barrage of over 2,000 (perhaps as many as 4,500) rounds. Around 10:00 am, state police ordered prisoners to stand up and put their hands on their heads, assuring them they wouldn’t be harmed. But the shooting continued and surrendering prisoners were hit.
Within 20-30 minutes, the state’s armed forces were rampaging through the prison. “They came in there with their guns and bayonets blasting everything that moved. They shot at everybody,” Attica Brother Akil Al-Jundi recalled. “They went from cell to cell with machine guns, spraying the cells, under the beds. They didn’t care whether there was anybody there. They were just shooting. Their objective was to kill, not to ask questions, but to kill...”
Political prisoners, leaders of the uprisings and others were singled out and executed. Black Panther Kenneth Malloy was shot at least 10 times, including four rounds from a .357 magnum into his eyes from a foot away. Sam Melville, a white revolutionary who reportedly had his hands folded on top of his head in a surrender gesture, was killed by a shotgun blast to his chest. L.D. Barkley was shot in the back with a .270 silver-nose bullet, likely from a sharpshooter’s hunting rifle.
Hundreds of prisoners were forced to strip naked, crawl through mud and broken glass and run a gauntlet of baton-wielding rows of cops. Several bled to death due to denial of medical care after being wounded, left to lie in their own blood, urinated upon by guards, or beaten until their bones broke.
Frank “Big Black” Smith was stripped naked and tortured for six hours. Smith was forced to lie on a table with a football under his chin and told he would be killed if the ball moved or fell, while he was being burned with cigarettes and hot bullet casings and beaten on his testicles. One inmate had his femurs shattered by a bullet but was ordered to walk. When he couldn’t, a trooper repeatedly jammed a screwdriver into his rectum and forced him to crawl.
Twenty-nine prisoners and 10 guards being held hostage were murdered. Another 89 prisoners were wounded by gunfire and 319 more were injured. A week later, a state court investigation found that 90 percent of the inmates still had visible signs of being brutalized.
Sixty-two prisoners were indicted for 1289 "crimes" stemming from the rebellion, but no guards were ever charged, tried, or convicted. Twenty years later, in a civil suit filed by the prisoners, only Deputy Warden Karl Pfeil was found liable for any wrongdoing.
Part 12 ("A Nation of Law 1968-1971") of the PBS documentary Eyes On The Prize begins with the murder of Fred Hampton. The segment on the Attica uprising, with powerful footage and testimony, begins at 31:13.
The Alibi: New York authorities claimed they were simply trying to retake control of Attica and rescue the guards being held. After retaking the prison, they claimed prisoners had slit the throats of hostages, even castrated one, and murdered others with zip guns. (This was exposed as a lie the very next day when the medical examiner announced his findings: all the deaths at Attica, prisoners and guards, were caused by gunshots. There were no mutilated genitals, no slit throats, no zip gun wounds. And only the state’s forces had guns.)
Overall, New York authorities and the media portrayed the prisoners as “rioters” bent on carrying out vengeance, while the state had tried to resolve the crisis with a reasonable offer and then simply tried to regain control of the prison and protect the guards who were being held by the prisoners. Governor Rockefeller told President Nixon the official story line, that his police had killed prisoners during the takeover, “though, only when they were in the process of murdering the guards, or when they were attacking our people as they came in to get the guards.” In other words, the state had totally made up these slanders, which the media dutifully reported.
The Actual Motive: Attica was part of the Black Liberation struggle and revolutionary upheaval of the 1960s. It was a declaration of the humanity of those this system treats as “beasts,” and a profound exposure of the barbarity of America’s prisons and machinery of violent repression. It highlighted the ongoing enslavement of Black people. And Attica became a clarion call to rise against imperialism and oppression that reverberated worldwide.
The rulers felt they could not tolerate this challenge to their authority and legitimacy by society’s most oppressed. They feared the impact the Attica uprising was having on the millions from many strata who were following it on television, and witnessing the prisoners’ deep humanity. So Rockefeller, backed by the Nixon administration, felt compelled to not only violently crush the Attica rebellion, but make an example out of it with a savage “shock and awe” massacre to terrorize, vilify, and isolate the prisoners, and to send an unmistakable message to the oppressed everywhere “never dare to do this again.”
On September 13, 1971, New York State launched a military assault on the Attica prisoners. Helicopters sprayed tear gas, sharpshooters fired into the yard, and state troopers blasting shotguns swarmed against the rebels. Twenty-nine unarmed prisoners and 10 prison guard hostages were murdered, and hundreds more prisoners were wounded or injured. Above, prisoners were forced to strip naked, crawl through mud and broken glass and run a gauntlet of baton wielding rows of cops. (AP Photo)
New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and the State of New York. An important new book by Professor Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, which draws from previously secret state documents, reveals that Rockefeller had secret meetings with his state troopers to plot the massacre and fabricate the alibi. And the coverup began before the massacre took place: many of the police and prison officers removed their ID badges; the serial numbers of their weapons were not recorded, and normal reports of ammunition discharged were deemed unnecessary.
Rockefeller phoned Nixon the day of the assault. He said it was a “beautiful operation” and a “superb job.” He confided to Nixon he thought as many as 200-300 prisoners could be killed, but he ordered the operation anyway. The prisoners’ demand for amnesty was totally unacceptable, they both agreed; he and Nixon feared granting it would ignite other rebellions.
Blood in the Water also exposes Rockefeller’s and the state’s cover-up of the criminal massacre at Attica. Long-hidden documents showed that state investigators knew law enforcement had committed murder at Attica, but refused to indict a “long list” of police who had killed or wounded prisoners, including one who fired at Kenneth Malloy so many times at such close range that “his eye sockets were shredded by shards of his own bones.”
President Richard Nixon. The Nixon White House and the FBI closely tracked the Attica uprising, which Nixon saw as “a black thing.” After the state retook control of the prison, Nixon said of Rockefeller, “He’s got a hell of a lot of guts... We have got to be tough on this.” And Nixon told Rockefeller he had his full backing.
Scores of prison officials, police, sheriffs, state troopers, and park police who carried out the murder, brutality, and torture. One, Deputy Warden Pfeil, yelled, “Kill the Jew bastard,” as he watched jailhouse lawyer Jerry Rosenberg being beaten, and then hit Rosenberg across his head with a chain himself. State troopers and police outside Attica could be heard gleefully yelling “white power,” as they reloaded to continue the massacre.
In Their Own Words:
On the day of the massacre, Nixon talked to Rockefeller by telephone and told him:
I know you’ve had a hard day, but I want you to know that I just back you to the hilt...the courage you showed and the judgment in not granting amnesty, it was right, and I don’t care what the hell the papers or anybody else says. I don’t care what they say. I think that you had to do it that way, because if you would have granted amnesty in this case, it would have meant that you would have had prisons in an uproar all over this country...you did the right thing. It’s a tragedy that these poor fellows were shot, but I just want you to know that’s my view, and I’ve told the troops around here they’re to back that right to the hilt.
“40th Anniversary of Attica Prison Rebellion: ‘We are not beasts and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such’,” revcom.us, September 11, 2011
“ATTICA!” revcom.us, November 15, 2009
“Attica Brother Akil Al-Jundi,” revcom.us, August 21, 2011
William Kunstler, My Life as a Radical Lawyer, chapter 12 (Carol Publishing Group, 1994)
POV YouTube clip from Disturbing the Universe about the life of William Kunstler
Malcolm Bell, Turkey Shoot: Tracking the Attica Cover-Up (Grove/Atlantic, 1985)
Jennifer Schuessler, “Prying Lose the Long-Kept Secrets of Attica,” New York Times, August 3, 2016
Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Penguin Random House, 2016)
Sam Roberts, “Rockefeller on the Attica Raid, from Boastful to Subdued,” New York Times, September 12, 2011
“40 Years After Attica Rebellion, New Tapes Reveal Nixon, Rockefeller Praised Deadly Crackdown,” Democracy Now! September 16, 2011
Bill Berkowitz, "Cover-Up of Slaughter at Attica Prison Continues Decades Later," BuzzFlash at Truthout.org, September 10, 2014
Bruce Jackson, “ATTICA: an anniversary of Death,” Artvoice, September 9, 1999
“Top Government Official Admitted: The ‘War on Drugs’ IS a War on the People,” revcom.us, April 11, 2016
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016Reader from L.A. on Community-Based Policing
September 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution Club with friends and family of Richard Risher Jr., marching in the streets of Watts, July 26. Photo: Special to revcom.us
At the end of July, 18-year-old Richard Risher, Jr. was gunned down by the LAPD in Nickerson Gardens housing projects in Watts, then kicked and spit on him as he lay dying. His broken-hearted mother has been marching and speaking out, demanding justice for her murdered son. A couple weeks later, the New York Times published a letter celebrating this murder as an example of the success of the LAPD in being able to kill people and get away with it, written by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck together with pig lackey extraordinaire, “civil rights” attorney Connie Rice. The op-ed is called “How Community Policing Can Work,” and brags about how the police were able to convince some people in Watts to blame Richard for his murder instead of the police. It went on to emphasize, “In the past, there would have been no listening—bottles, rocks and worse would have been the only response. But by morning, calm had taken hold.”
This is the pigs themselves (and their tools and fools) putting forward a strategy developed to better control people this system has no future for. For years ruling class representatives and their news media mouthpieces have talked openly about the need to maintain (or restore) the legitimacy of police violence—the belief by most people that the police have legitimate authority and right on their side when they shoot, taze, beat, handcuff, or jail people. This is because some of this legitimacy has been stripped away by the uprisings that began with Ferguson, and because the further loss of this legitimacy on a wider and deeper scale would be a key element of the kind of crisis that could develop into a full-blown revolutionary situation with the potential to go all the way to the destruction of this whole system.
One section of these ruling class representatives, including Beck, Obama, and Bill Clinton, have argued for community policing as the best way to shore up the legitimacy of police violence, to get people to accept whatever brutality and terror they carry out. The housing projects in Watts, Los Angeles are one of the most cultivated and promoted examples of this model. In 2015, the head of the Southeast Division police station in Watts was brought to Obama’s State of the Union speech as an honored guest. On October 22, 2015, Obama convened a meeting of police chiefs from across the country at the White House and featured a discussion with Charlie Beck. By the end of 2015, the LAPD had killed more people that year than any other police department in the entire country.
The Charlie Beck/Connie Rice community policing op-ed begins with “the recent murders of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, La., and the devastating videos of the shooting deaths of black men like Alton B. Sterling and Philando Castile...” First of all, why, according to Beck and Rice, are the deaths of police officers considered murders, but not the men who were shot with no weapons in their hands and not posing any threat to anyone? The whole thing is framed from the beginning that automatically any shooting death of a police officer is a murder while any shooting death committed by a police officer is justified. The problem, according to Beck and Rice, is not that the police are murdering hundreds and hundreds of people every year. The problem, according to them, is not that millions of people have no future under this system, that millions of Black and Latino people are locked into ghettos, discriminated against at every turn, set up to kill each other, and be killed and terrorized by police to keep it this way. The problem, according to them, is “police-community conflict” and a “breakdown of public-police trust,” even while they throw in a generic phrase about “overcom[ing] bias and “replac[ing] the ‘spiral of despair’ in poor neighborhoods with opportunity and justice.”
Identifying the epidemic of police murder, terror and mass incarceration as “police-community conflict” is like saying the problem during slavery is there just wasn’t enough trust between the slave-catchers and the runaway slaves they hunted down and either murdered outright or tortured and dragged back in slave chains. “Why all the conflict?” “We need to develop public-police trust.”
The Beck/Rice op-ed mentions the Department of Justice report that exposes some of the horrific brutality and degradation being carried out by Baltimore police against Black people. But of course they have nothing to say about the inhumanity and injustice of all of this. Instead, the problem is a “breakdown of public-police trust,” which needs to be built back up by “guardian policing” or “community policing.”
Beck and Rice describe community policing as “earn[ing] trust” by participating in youth sports leagues and community gardens. They describe police officers knowing residents by name and walking through the housing projects together with “gang intervention specialists” (in many cases older former gang members who are won to work with police through a combination of the threat of jail, city money, and a genuine desire to stop the killing together with a seriously mistaken and harmful fantasy about what the problem and solution really is). Beck and Rice also talk about lowering crime rates. But what has actually changed in these model areas of L.A.’s “Community Safety Partnership” program?
The same system continues to grind people up. There are no decent jobs or education and there is no legitimate way out of poverty. Children are growing up discriminated against and disrespected in a society that has no future for them. Everybody is trying to survive in a society that functions by a small handful of capitalists owning what everyone else needs and using that to exploit millions of people around the world, throwing away people the capitalists can’t profit off of and shaping everyone’s thinking with the same dog-eat-dog outlook. So our youth go at each other, fighting and killing one another from one neighborhood to the next, trying to survive on the terms of the imperialists. None of this has changed. It is not the job of the police to change any of this. It is the job of the police to make sure it all runs smoothly. The people this system considers human garbage can remain locked in ghettos killing each other off—as long as there is not a challenge to the functioning of this whole system. How Beck and Rice even characterize whose lives matter shows you a glimpse of this:
“The true test of guardian policing, however, is during a crisis. This is when the reservoir of trust saves lives—as it did three weeks ago, after a Los Angeles police officer killed a young man who was shooting at the police.” Think about how vicious this is. “[T]he reservoir of trust saves lives....” Whose life did it save? Did it save 18-year-old Richard Risher, Jr.’s life? Did it save the life of 36-year-old Omar Gonzalez, killed by LAPD two days later? Did it save the life of 14-year-old Jesse Romero two weeks after that, or 18-year-old Kenny Watkins killed the next week, or Marcelo Luna killed three days later—all murdered by LAPD officers? What lives did this “reservoir of trust” save?
They want you to take it on faith that the young man the police killed, who Beck and Rice don’t even consider worth naming, was shooting at the police. They present no evidence that he was shooting at the police, and in fact nobody has presented any such evidence. And they want you to buy into the logic that “saving lives” means saving police lives. Last year, police killed 1,140 people (according to the Guardian). The same year, 41 police officers were killed (according to the FBI). When they say, “the reservoir of trust saves lives,” it is the same logic as Obama bombing Libya, killing hundreds if not thousands of people, and declaring it’s not really a war because no Americans were killed.
While Beck and Rice talk about earning trust and supposedly lowering crime rates, it is worth quoting more at length the heart of what they describe as “the dividend” of this “reservoir of trust.”
“Angry members of the community demanded an emergency meeting with the police. At the end of the painful session, a former gang leader concluded that the death was extremely sad, but ‘if you shoot at the cops, you should expect to die.’ Other attendees handed officers rosaries, and they apologized for earlier ‘kill the cops’ talk after rumors that officers had fired when the young man was surrendering.
“In the past, there would have been no listening—bottles, rocks and worse would have been the only response. But by morning, calm had taken hold.”
The “dividend” or in plainer terms, the profit gained from this investment in “trust” as they see it, is having people in the community the police can rely on to keep everybody else in line while police continue to carry out the same terror. This brings to mind the Judenrat (Jewish councils run by “community leaders” who collaborated with and served the Nazis) and Jewish Ghetto Police in Nazi Germany described by Alan Goodman recently on revcom.us:
“Based mainly among, and reflecting the position of more privileged Jews, defenders of the Judenrat argued that having ‘people from the community’ administer and police the ghettos would work to reduce the violent terror visited on the Jewish population. They even openly argued that collaborating with the Nazis in shipping unemployable people, people on welfare, and troublemakers to the death camps would spare everyone else that fate.” (“Should Oppressed People Join the Police to ‘Make Things Better’? It’s Been Tried Before, So Let’s See How It Worked”) Whatever their intentions, this facilitated and even legitimized the genocide against Jewish people that took place under the Nazi regime.
Here’s the deadly logic of working with—and on the terms of—the police: Richard Risher, Jr. is killed and if you are part of those community leaders sitting down with the police, even if you hate that young people are being killed, he becomes one of the expendable ones. He becomes one of the youth you are willing to sacrifice.
This should not be tolerated! Working with the people whose armed force keeps us locked in a situation where our youth have no future legitimizes that force and, whatever the intentions, contributes to our youth having no future. There is nothing good that can come from working with the police—in whatever guise they wrap themselves. We need to overthrow this system, not reinforce it! The only way out of this madness is through nothing less than an actual revolution. And now is the time to get organized for this revolution.
To the “gang intervention specialists” and to everyone whose hearts and souls are ripped apart by the blood flowing in the streets: raise your sights and stop playing this system's game, allowing yourself to be a tool of the murderous pigs and the system they enforce. Put your heart and determination into building up the revolutionary force who can lead the way out for humanity for real. Struggle with the youth to stop fighting each other in order to be part of that revolutionary force, not by playing along with a system that is out to destroy them. Get with the Revolution Club and get into Bob Avakian, the leadership for this revolution... and be part of spreading that force throughout society.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
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.
And now, the biggest questions cry out loudly, demanding to be spoken to: What is the problem? What does the “American way of life” have to do with it? And what are we going to do about it? Right now, while society is in an uproar, there are new opportunities, and urgent challenges, to seize the moment and transform the terms on which society is fighting this out. And to do that as part of preparing minds and organizing forces for an actual revolution that will end police murder, and the other crimes and horrors this system puts on people here and around the world.
Colin Kaepernick’s action came at a time of exposure, outrage, protest, and significant uprisings against police murder of Black and Brown people. Everywhere you look, times are changing. NFL quarterbacks are generally put out there to act the part of backward “role models” sucking up to and promoting what is ugly, unjust, and criminal about America. And too many prominent athletes in this country who do know better have kept quiet about murder by police. So it is refreshing and a positive development that an NFL quarterback stepped out like this.
When he continued the protest at the next 49ers game, he was joined by teammate Eric Reid. Reid said, “It’s bigger than football, what he’s [Kaepernick] doing. I think it’s worth doing. Taking a knee is worth doing, because it’s people’s lives and issues that are far bigger than the game.” And separately, Seattle Seahawks player Jeremy Lane also refused to stand and sat on the bench during the national anthem at a game in Oakland.
Arian Foster of the Miami Dolphins said, “I understand 100 percent what he’s [Kaepernick] doing. He’s frustrated, just like me. He’s just like my brother. He’s just like my cousins out there. He’s frustrated. It’s hard seeing people get murdered and killed without repercussions.”
A few days later, star soccer player Megan Rapinoe, who is white, kneeled during the national anthem before the Seattle Reigns’ National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) game. She said this was an “intentional” act in solidarity with Kaepernick and that “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it.”
Other athletes who have so far spoken in support of Kaepernick include Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the Black Power salute during the national anthem at the 1968 Olympics, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Basketball Hall of Fame), and Jim Brown (Football Hall of Fame).
Artists who have supported Kaepernick include singer Chris Brown, filmmaker Spike Lee, comedian W. Kamau Bell, hip-hop artist Chuck D, actor Susan Sarandon, and filmmaker Michael Moore.
And all kinds of people are having the way they’ve been looking at the world shaken up. Nate Boyer, who tried out for both the SF 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, is a former Green Beret. He clearly does not agree with Kaepernick about the national anthem, but in a public letter in the Army Times he was moved to say to Kaepernick: “What you are doing takes a lot of courage, and I’d be lying if I said I knew what it was like to walk around in your shoes. I’ve never had to deal with prejudice because of the color of my skin.”
The fact that this controversy has broken out over refusing to stand for the national anthem has thrown the big question on the table: What is the USA all about? Different people, representing different positions within society, with different perspectives on the problem and solution, have jumped into the fray. Shaun King wrote a column in the New York Daily News exposing the story of the national anthem’s third verse, which celebrates the mass execution of escaped slaves who fought against the U.S. in the War of 1812.
Even beyond that, what does this country stand for? It is like what Joey Johnson said when he burned the American flag at the Republican National Convention: slavery, genocide, and unjust war. We’ve got a moment here to be really challenging people with what Ardea Skybreak writes in her new book SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION: On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian:
Personally, I can’t stand the American flag, or the national anthem, or the Pledge of Allegiance, or any of these kinds of symbols that proclaim that one country or one population of one part of the world is somehow better than everybody else. That’s what’s called “jingoism,” or “national chauvinism”—that way of thinking is downright nasty and we should call it what it is and refuse to go along with it! We should all be thinking more like citizens of the world and not like Americans. But then you see people stand up in schools and at sporting events—they’re standing up for the flag and the anthem, and they’re putting their hands over their hearts and maybe even singing along, and often this is being done by people who are themselves being oppressed and degraded on a daily basis by the very system that they are saluting!
It’s time to put an end to this kind of stuff. Think about what you’re doing, what you’re saluting! People need to think more about this, and educate themselves about the true nature of this system. These police murders, for instance: they’re not an accident. They’ve been happening for a long time. They happen on a horrific scale. And they keep on happening, because the root of this problem can be found in the very foundations of this system.
Let’s help people, and challenge people to “educate themselves about the true nature of this system.” Let’s get the crash course in REAL American history and reality—Top Ten Reasons Why You Should NOT Salute the American Flag—all over social media and passed out at sports events when we sit down for the nasty-full anthem. And get the American Crime series into as many classrooms as possible.
It’s good that many people oppose the relentless murders by police, and the mindless patriotism. But what’s good about “USA” patriotism—mindless or not? Let’s bring a massive reality check to what the U.S. and its rag have always actually represented for the world. The U.S. has always been the land of the thief and home of the slave!
Like Bob Avakian says, “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives.” (BAsics 5:7). With revolution, humanity is capable of a much better world. Everyone can get into the leadership, vision, and strategy for this—especially the leadership of BA.
One way the attacks on Kaepernick have come down is to accuse him of disrespecting U.S. troops (which Kaepernick says is not his intention). I’m sure the people hollering about that expected to whip up a lot of reactionaries, but also confuse and disorient a lot of people who aren’t into blind obedience to the flag and the national anthem. After all, the system has been working on this “support the troops” bullshit for a long time, and getting away with it way too much. And yes, they did set loose a lot of noise. But the response from veterans and active duty GIs has been far from all bad.
Now to be clear, I (the writer of this letter) was in this country’s military, and I do not “support the troops.” Nobody else should, either. The U.S. military is an institution tasked with defending and expanding the interests of this imperialist USA, and to do that it has committed unrivaled crimes of brutality, violence, and mass murder (again, see the revcom.us series “American Crime”).
But the troops are drawn from all sections of people whose actual interests are sharply in conflict with the role they play in the world. History has shown that when confronted with reality, many among them are capable of much better!
This was definitely so in Vietnam. In that war, as a result of the righteous ass-kicking the U.S. Army received from the Vietnamese people and the firm stand of sections of the antiwar movement and Black liberation struggle in NOT supporting the troops but rather calling out the CRIMES of these troops and CHALLENGING THEM TO BREAK WITH IT, many became demoralized and unfit to fight, others began to resist, and some became straight-up revolutionaries against the system that ordered them to kill innocent people. This was true of Carl Dix and it was true of others at the time as well. So it is significant, and something which no doubt gives nightmares to the rulers of this country, when some among them today publicly stand on principle, even with their illusions. It can be the beginning of a process which, if revolutionaries work on it, can become something very dangerous for the rulers and very good for the people, especially as things develop toward an all-out revolutionary struggle for power.
There is an online petition that organizers say has 5,500 signatures from veterans and active duty military personnel supporting Kaepernick’s right to sit during the national anthem. On the Twitter hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick, there are tweets from active duty military personnel and veterans from a wide range of perspectives, including a Black GI who posted, “I serve for his right to protest, not for police brutality.” A Black man posted that he wears his uniform when he drives at home so police won’t kill him. Another Black active duty GI asked, how can he tell his children he’s fighting for a country that will not fight for him?
A white active duty GI tweeted his picture with the message, “I didn’t volunteer to defend a country where police brutality is swept under the rug.” A white couple, both of them disabled veterans, posted that they refuse to stand for the national anthem at football games, and described the harassment and threats they get, but also how this messes with people’s justifications for going along with the system “out of respect for our veterans.”
We need to get right into the middle of the controversy around this with the REALITY Bob Avakian speaks to in BAsics:
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.
The Revolution Club, Bay Area, shook up UC Berkeley by jumping into the Kaepernick shitstorm, DIS-respecting the flag, and challenging people to get organized for an ACTUAL revolution.
If you want to get a feel for what it can be like to jump into the middle of all this with revolution, check out the correspondence "The Revolution Club, Bay Area, Shaking Up UC Berkeley: Jumping into Kaepernick Shitstorm, DIS-Respecting the Flag.” They were out there in the middle of the UC Berkeley campus with the Revolution centerfold: “Land of the Thief, Home of the Slave”; a graphic with two quotes from Bob Avakian on internationalism; and a sign: “America was NEVER great! We need to overthrow the system!” Read what happened when they did that, here.
Let’s challenge people to Sit down for Their Nasty-full Anthem! And Don’t Do the Pledge of Malfeasance to Being a Fascist Robot Either! And then it is up to the revolutionaries to take all this somewhere else—to challenge people to rupture not just with mindless patriotism and complicity with oppression, but with patriotism itself and all the ugliness it is saturated with. Let’s get people out of patriotism and get into internationalism and revolution.
Share what happens when you do that by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
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...
Answers to "#ISupportKaepernick Because..." at University of California, Berkeley, August 31. Photo: Special to revcom.us.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Donald Trump whips up lynch mob frenzy at his “campaign rallies” calling Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists. He blames the loss of economic security experienced by big sections of the American middle class on Mexico “stealing our jobs,” and promises to force Mexico to pay for a wall that will intensify death and suffering at the border. Hillary Clinton decries Trump’s rhetoric, but represents the policies of Barack Obama who deported more undocumented immigrants during his first six years than the Republican George W. Bush administration did over its full eight.
Whatever approach they take, Trump, Clinton, and every representative of this system is all about maintaining a relationship defined by the 2,000-mile-long border between the U.S. and Mexico. What does that border actually represent?
1. The current U.S.-Mexico border was created by the violent theft of half of Mexico by the U.S. through the 1846-1848 war. The U.S. instigated this war, invaded Mexico, and carried out civilian massacres, rape, and plunder.
As Bob Avakian has said:
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.
2. U.S. domination of Mexico makes possible vicious super-exploitation of people in that country. Mexican people slave in the maquiladora sweatshops making TVs, smartphones, airplane components, and cars, and on U.S.-owned corporate farms. Their labor pumps super-profits into U.S. capital.
3. Historically, the U.S. rulers have used a slice of the wealth ripped from the labor of people in Mexico—along with much of the rest of Latin America as well as Asia and Africa—to buy stability in their “homeland.” That wealth is part of what has gone into providing a level of relative economic stability and the possibility of upward social mobility for large sections of the people in the U.S.—including the fascists and fools chanting “build the wall” at Trump rallies.
4. The reign of terror enforced by the Mexican state against the people of Mexico flows out of the domination by the U.S. Tens of thousands have died in the past few years at the hands of the Mexican state’s police, army, and death squads, as well as the powerful drug cartels (which are in fact in many ways tied into the state). In so doing, the Mexican state horrifically maintains the “order” that benefits the U.S. capitalist-imperialists.
5. Capital from U.S. corporate agriculture flows freely across the border, devastating small farmers and food production in Mexico. Some two million Mexican people have been forced off their farms since 1994. At the same time, consumer food prices have risen. A quarter of the population does not have adequate access to basic food, and one-fifth of Mexican children suffer from malnutrition.
6. Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are demonized and terrorized, with no rights at all. Their super-exploited labor in agriculture, construction, and other areas is vital to creating profits for U.S. capitalism-imperialism.
7. The border is a one-way pipeline for the U.S. to spew killing pollution into Mexico. U.S. “exports” to Mexico include unregulated polluting factories and environment-destroying and toxic corporate agriculture.
8. U.S. domination and crimes over decades have created a desperate situation for millions of people in the Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In the past few years, refugees from these countries “embarrassed” the U.S. So the Obama administration has “outsourced” rounding up, terrorizing, and turning away these refugees, including tens of thousands of children, to the Mexican government.
9. In sum, the U.S.-Mexico border was created through conquest and serves exploitation and oppression. “There is nothing sacred to us about the USA, as it is presently constituted, or about the borders of the U.S. as they are presently constituted. Quite the opposite.” Bob Avakian, BAsics 3:20
10. The U.S.-Mexico border has the potential to be transformed into a dynamic and positive factor in revolution in both countries, and in the revolutionary transformation of the world in a revolutionary society that may well encompass parts of what is now both countries.
It is hardly conceivable that there could be a revolution in the U.S. which didn’t at some point and in various ways significantly interpenetrate with and have mutual interaction and mutual influence with revolutionary struggles being waged by the people in neighboring countries—especially in Central America.
And, most important of all:
11. There is a way out of this horror and madness—a strategy to make revolution and a leadership determined to do it. The revolutionary state that would come to power would deal with the question of the border, as well as the oppressed position of Chicanos and immigrants within the U.S. This would be done in a way that overcomes the oppression inherited from capitalism-imperialism as part of getting to a whole new world without exploitation, without oppression, and ultimately without borders of any kind. 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. And get with this revolution!
For a basic understanding of internationalism, THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, by Bob Avakian (see the ad at top of this page)
“Under Nafta, Mexico Suffered, and the United States Felt Its Pain,” (New York Times, November 24, 2013)
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
There is nothing sacred to us about the USA, as it is presently constituted, or about the borders of the U.S. as they are presently constituted. Quite the opposite.
Across The Borderline (featuring Bob Avakian)
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.
It is hardly conceivable that there could be a revolution in the U.S. which didn’t at some point and in various ways significantly interpenetrate with and have mutual interaction and mutual influence with revolutionary struggles being waged by the people in neighboring countries—especially in Central America.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
April 25, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Letters from prisoners, like those on this page, are a semi-regular feature of revcom.us/Revolution newspaper. We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.
Letter from a California prisoner:
“One of the things that should really be understood about this Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, in most fundamental terms, is that this Constitution is dealing with a very profound and very difficult contradiction: the contradiction that, on the one hand, humanity really does need revolution and communism; but, on the other hand, not all of humanity wants that all of the time, including in socialist society. So this Constitution is set up to provide the basic methods and means to deal with that contradiction. You don’t just have a popular vote every few years that is set up in such a way that the result is that one day you have socialism, the next day you go back to capitalism, and then you try to create socialism again—which would be impossible, because then you’d get everything bound up with capitalism back, and once again you’d have to go through everything you had to go through to try to get to the point of overthrowing the capitalist system. And, frankly, nobody’s going to support that kind of idiocy. So, at times, a lot of the people may want to be going in a different direction, but you’ve got the institutional means to keep the socialist system going toward the ultimate goal of communism, unless overwhelmingly the people are against you; but, at the same time, this Constitution is constructed in such a way that you have to repeatedly win the masses of people to fight to stay on the socialist road. You need to get to communism, but you’re not going to get to communism by putting guns in the backs of the people and force-marching them to communism. You have to continually win them to that, fighting through all the contradictions that get posed, including the ones that the enemies put in your way, or accentuate, in order to turn the people against you.” (p. 90)
I’m still going through the Science, the Strategy, the Leadership [The Science, The Strategy, The Leadership for An Actual Revolution, And A Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation by Bob Avakian—editors]. Just got to part VI the strategic approach to an actual revolution on pg 94. But ironically I spent some time on the 2nd paragraph on page 90 that’s also quoted on page 3 of the 3.27.16 issue of Revolution. My note next to that paragraph is “1,000 Cultural Revolutions.” (See the paragraph in righthand column of this page.)
I particularly enjoyed how BA stated the new constitution is constructed in such a way that you have to repeatedly win the masses of people to stay on the socialist road and ultimately communism. The very last sentence is an in-depth dialogue in its own right, continually winning people over to take up all manner of contradictions, including ones that the dogs put in your way to turn people against you.
I was likewise struck by the way BA issued the challenge that more people should be grappling with the new constitution to show what kind of society we’re fighting for of course. But also to convey how heavy all this is.
Years ago I used the Draft Program [of the RCP,USA—editors] to help bring a few brothers through the door of the train depo. It was extremely messy, I still had unresolved contradictions about my ability and desire to put myself too far out there and I wasn’t able to help the brothers want to actually be caretakers of the train, tracks or engine. So it didn’t take up nearly enough of the contradictions it needed to be any real school of thought or base for exposing the system or winning people over. In fact as soon as it turned into some bourgeois bullshit I picked up my toys and went home. But I’m still thankful for the experience and like I said it was completely based on the draft, my haphazard application of dialectics and the scientific road, etc. But it was one of those moments I was able to apply what little I knew to actually try to transform objective reality.
So when BA said that about the Draft Proposal [Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)—editors], I knew what he meant, it can be brought to life even now, even before we get to the new society. But of course I not only picked up my toys and went home, I also hid them. Contradictions were messy for me. I was up against too much (and a few more “excuses”).
In any event, I “read” the draft proposal, but honestly that’s all I did was read it. The dogs confiscated it on some excess literature bullshit. I didn’t ask for help gettin’ an additional copy ’cause I’m up for transfer from the SHU [“Security Housing Unit,” isolation cells in California prisons—editors] and didn’t want to get it until I go to the next gulag.
But in rereading the preamble I was reminded of why I picked up my toys years ago when others began to bourgeoisify it up. The potential for both is within the same contradiction:
“the socialist state must give fundamental priority to the advance of the revolutionary struggle, and the final goal of communism, throughout the world, and must adopt and carry out policies and actions which are in accordance with and give concrete effect to this internationalist orientation.”
This is because there can not be any half way communism. It will go forward (all the way) or it will go backwards (all the way).
Like any contradiction one way or the other, it will resolve itself. So the lengthy next paragraph is highly appropriate in explaining what is a state and that all “states” are dictatorships rooted in the social relations and means of production.
So I personally see why BA broke it down as he did explaining the overall role of any state, our state, and the dogs. Also the solid core, though, to my mind the solid core is always humans and especially the advanced agents of those that uphold the road. But in Science, Strategy, Leadership he spoke of the solid core as conditions and although I understand his point, if I was asked to explain the point I would use the term logical necessity (the things that can’t be up for debate).
But yeah, I do see the importance of spreading the draft proposal to get people to envision what could and should be possible.
* * * *
I’m writing a college student who wants a more equitable world. I’m trying to go slow but my intention is to have her break down science, strategy and revolution with me. But I also wouldn’t mind kickin’ up Hamilton or the real American hustle with her. I sent her the article about the Don Scalia [“Gangland Mouthpiece Found Dead in West Texas Motel Room!”]. Awaitin her feedback.
But yeah, fuck all that, that shit’s for the birds. Even when I was deaf, dumb & blind and knew nothin’ about any of those old fuddy duddies, I knew that back then this whole thing was set up to dehumanize, ostracize and brutally exploit Blacks and Native Americans. This is before I understood how fluid that was, how it was because of the mode of production, both a slave economy and traditional wage labor economy in the North. Before I knew the hell women caught or what was going on in any specific way about how brutal all those things was. The simple fact that I knew they treated my ancestors like shit was enough for me to say they could go play in traffic.
So it’s particularly shameful that there are Black, Brown & women in 2016 trying to reform them sorts of people. No way can Hamilton be a role model. No one alive in the 1770s should be embraced if they owned slaves or condoned owning slaves, who set out policies that would strip Blacks of their humanity, their beauty, their equality. Shit we still struggle to address 250 years later. And the only people who caught more hell then was the Native Americans. And the ramifications of that is even more dire for them today.
Hamilton was much like Lincoln in that for all his heroic garb his main thing was to keep the white man’s union together at all costs and to belittle the human suffering of Blacks and Native Americans as they simply did not count. Just the union/government etc.
I don’t got much to say about Hamilton. Sorry. Just sad that there is such a thing as a Black, Brown or woman Hamilton or “founding father” image reformers.
Hopefully Russian youth or Jewish youth don’t try to do the same thing for Hitler. But I do think I saw some Neo Nazis in Russia, and ’though I haven’t seen any Jewish youth try to reform Hitler, they sure try to reform their leaders’ genocidal policies against the Palestinians and their land. So I guess anythings possible...
* * * *
Who gone save the world?
You gone save the world?
Then, me too gone save the world
We gone save the world
Through revolutionary Love
Fuck a chain
And fuck a whip
They just make me angrier
Fuck fisticuffs amongst
Fist up, fist up for the masses
Ask a friend
Ask yo’ self
Then ask the enemy
If I fight back
XXX, California Prisoner
From an ex-prisoner:
Before I was released from prison, I had the opportunity to read BA’s latest work, The Science, The Strategy, The Leadership for An Actual Revolution, and A Radically New Society on the Road to Real Emancipation. This talk which he gave the summer of 2015 touched on a lot of significant points in a very concise manner, while at the same time reinforced key contradictions that we must become better at. The more we strive to reorient people towards approaching the problem and solution from a scientific approach, the better we will be overall in creating a material force—a movement for revolution—that will be capable of carrying out a real revolution in this imperialist country, and once successful, expanding that material basis on an international scale. Because in the last analysis, communism is about fundamentally transforming the whole world and being emancipators of all of humanity not just the proletarians and basic masses within the borders of the United States.
One key point that BA touched upon, that I definitely think we should continually deepen our understanding of and our ability to disseminate to others so that they can come to understand more clearly themselves, is his comments summed up under the subsection: “Through Which Mode of Production.” In it, he asks:
Why is this true, that through which mode of production is the most important, the most fundamental question—not the only, but the most important and the most fundamental question—to be posed? When you’re taking up any kind of question in society, any form of oppression, anything that you feel needs to be changed, the most fundamental question is what is the mode of production that’s setting the basis and the ultimate terms and the ultimate limits for what can be changed and how? (p.27)
Now, these questions that he poses above are very relevant. Suppose we lived during the time of chattel slavery in this country. Let’s say around the 1850s. Under the system of chattel slavery, was it possible for white supremacy to be overcomed once and for all? The answer to that is obviously, “No!”
And why was that so? Well, because as long as production was organized in a way by which it was necessary to hold one ethnic group, primarily Blacks, in bondage in order to produce and reproduce the agricultural demands of the market, it would incessantly give rise to the need to justify this socio-economic division of labor. In other words, the slave owning ruling class—mostly white males—would’ve never been able to sustain and maintain the enslavement of Blacks under the socio-economic system of chattel slavery without justifying our enslavement via pseudo-sociological justifications, a white supremacist worldview, the use of Christianity to legitimize it morally, amongst other things. The only way for any socio-economic system to legitimize itself in the eyes of its population, in the main, is for it’s institutions to perpetually condition its population to see its society as being legitimate: politically, legally, sociologically, ethically, culturally, etc. If not, or if it fails in this regard to convince the people, the people will in time rise up and declare such a system to be illegitimate and demand its replacement.
So again, as long as the socio-economic system of chattel slavery existed, the by-product of it would’ve continuously gave rise to white supremacy in many different forms to justify the system overall. White supremacy, as an ideology, was a tool that the demographic of individuals who had a monopoly of power politically, economically, and culturally used to stay in power; that is the slave owning class of white males. The same sort of thing occurred in other countries, where a particular demographic of individuals primarily made up the ruling class of that nation. In Great Britain, the English historically, for instance, viewed themselves as being racially superior to people of Irish descent. This form of bigotry—national chauvinism—stemmed from the fact that the ruling class in England were made up of individuals primarily of English descent, and because Ireland was a colony of Great Britain, it gave rise to the need to justify their political, economical, and cultural domination of the Irish people collectively; consequently, this form of national bigotry became the by-product of it. In the international division of labor, the English ruling class needed to reinforce their master/slave position over their Irish subjects.
While chattel slavery in America found it necessary to use white supremacy domestically to maintain the rule of the slave owning class over their Black subjects in the South, British imperialism found national bigotry indispensable to its foreign policy agenda in order to maintain their rule over the nations they had colonized such as Ireland, Jamaica, India, etc. White supremacy and national bigotry, thus, work hand and hand as by-products primarily of socio-economic systems to justify and legitimize their class rule and domination over other peoples and nations.
If that’s the case—and I would certainly not want anyone to just take my word for it, but to scientifically analyze this themselves to see if this actually reflects the real world in its contradictoriness and motion—then is it possible, for instance, to overcome white supremacy and American national bigotry once and for all under this capitalist-imperialist system in America? To satisfactorily answer this question, one must again ask themselves:
When you’re taking up any kind of question in society, any form of oppression, anything that you feel needs to be changed, the most fundamental question is what is the mode of production that’s setting the basis and the ultimate terms and the ultimate limits for what can be changed and how? (p. 27)
Well, let’s think about this for a minute. When has white supremacy not existed in this country? That question at first glance seems ridiculous because it ALWAYS HAS. Now think about that: it ALWAYS HAS!
It begs the question then: why has it existed for 400 years then, and only been repackaged at certain junctures in this nation’s history? Well, again, the two modes of production in this country’s history—chattel slavery and capitalism—are two socio-economic systems that relied on dividing all demographic categories in order for a small ruling class of whites to monopolize power politically, economically, and culturally over and above the other ethnic groups domestically and other nations internationally.
This has always been a pressing necessity of these two modes of production in order for the small class of whites to maintain their class rule. That’s why you have people like Donald Trump, who’s a part of the capitalist ruling class, consistently appealing to white supremacy and national bigotry. When we hear him say code phrases like, “We need to take our country back,” what demographics are he alluding to? Well, everybody not white to be blunt. When we hear him railing against state capitalist China and the fact that the United States is “consistently losing” to other countries in these “trade wars,” what is he appealing to? American national bigotry, American national chauvinism. And the reason for this is because many whites in the ruling class know that white supremacy and American national bigotry are two indispensable pillars that buttress their class rule both domestically and internationally.
So when viewing the problem and solution of white supremacy and American national bigotry through the lens of the capitalist mode of production, one can readily conclude that it’s impossible to once and for all overcome them under the mode of production of capitalism-imperialism. Absolutely impossible! The only way to address them once and for all and overcome them is to replace this particular mode of production with one which is capable of doing so. And when we scientifically investigate what that particular mode of production is, one will be forced to conclude that only the socialist one can begin to address them once and for all.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
From a reader:
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?
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The Christian fascists in America are doing everything they can to close clinics that provide abortions and pass laws making it difficult if not impossible to get an abortion. And they LIE—saying that this is about “protecting women’s health.”
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH????
The recent article at revcom.us, “Ground Zero in System’s War on Women...” talks about how 296 women died in the state of Texas from 2007 through 2010 before, during, or after childbirth from causes related to their pregnancies. And the rate of pregnancy-related deaths (maternal mortality) deaths then doubled, with the number of maternal deaths from 2011 through 2014 jumping to 537.
The fact is: Most maternal deaths are preventable, but in the state of Texas alone, hundreds and hundreds of women are dying of pregnancy-related causes.
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH????
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 Texas, the leap in pregnancy-related deaths began in 2011 as the Republican dominated state government slashed the budget for reproductive healthcare (from $111.5 million to roughly $38 million)—forcing some 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. And this 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. 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.
Texas is a base area of the extreme right-wing Christian fascist forces and ground zero in their war on women, and as the revcom.us article says, “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.”
“Protecting women’s health,” my ass! The Christian fascist women-hating defenders of patriarchy are creating a whole situation that is literally KILLING women and taking away the basic right to abortion—the right of women to determine the course of their own lives.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
Revolution Books Berkeley:
September 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On September 3, Revolution Books in Berkeley held a showing of the film William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe. It is the story of William Kunstler, the famous radical attorney from the 1960s. The showing was followed by comments and discussion led by Joey Johnson, notorious flag-burner, currently facing charges for burning the flag at the August Republican National Convention in Cleveland, with 16 other people (known as the RNC 16).
The Revolution Books manager opened by talking about the store and why the store wanted to show this film—the story of an attorney like Kunstler who fought for the oppressed and the rights of the oppressed in the courtroom is very important, especially in times like the 1960s and now. This is an excellent film and well worth watching for anyone. In addition, a part of the film shows how Kunstler took the appeal of Joey Johnson’s conviction for burning the flag at the 1984 Republican National Convention to the U.S. Supreme Court (Texas v. Johnson). The Court made an extremely important decision upholding the right to burn the flag as protected political expression. This itself is important and is crucial to the legal defense of Joey Johnson and the RNC 16. And finally, just a few days before the film showing, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took his courageous action of refusing to stand for the U.S. national anthem at the team’s pre-season football games.
So a lot was in the air in the days going into the event. And one thing that Revolution Books staff, supporters and the Revolution Club quickly learned, taking the event out on the Berkeley campus, is that very few students, even at the law school, had heard of William Kunstler. So it took work to bring students to an event like this. And not so many students came—the majority were from older generations—but the students who came were very glad they did.
After the film was shown, Joey Johnson made some comments and opened it up for questions. Here are some of the highlights of what people said and some of the discussion, including informal discussion that went on into the night after the formal event was over.
Two law students—one from Germany and one from India—said they were going to law school at UC Berkeley. The guy from India said that he had been looking into the law around freedom of speech in India, and he wanted to study what it meant in other countries, so he looked at the U.S. In the process of that, he had discovered, and read, Texas v. Johnson while in India. He said that he knew it was legal to burn the flag in the U.S., and he was impressed with that, but until he saw the film, he had no idea of the tremendous struggle that was involved in this.
The law student from Germany said that William Kunstler and his legal method of putting the system on trial in the course of a legal case was known about and studied in Germany. That is what drew her to see the film. She spoke to how moved she was seeing the film—the way Kunstler had left behind a conventional life of an attorney and had come to fight for the oppressed. Now, she said, we have to go back to the law school and study corporate law—she said she now felt bad about it. “This film is a life-changing experience.”
Someone spoke from the floor to how people, especially people in law school, should be inspired by people like Kunstler and what he did, but there are unfortunately very few around like him today who understand what he did about waging the legal and political battles, that what he did made a major contribution to revolution, and that these are also issues for the lawyers in the case with Joey and the Revolution Club in Cleveland.
Joey Johnson spoke to this as well, raising that he thought the film really brought out how Kunstler was transformed by the times—by the ’60s, how he came to see the law as serving an illegitimate white supremacist system, and how his views of the law were also changed by his clients, the defendants, he represented.
He also said that it is really important to understand that this legal victory in Texas v. Johnson was hard-fought—that one of William Kunstler’s strengths as a lawyer and why Joey Johnson wanted him as the lawyer in the Supreme Court case was that Kunstler understood you have to go outside the boundaries of the law and take it on as a political battle as well as a legal battle. Joey Johnson described Kunstler going with him to speak about the case—they went to law schools, a high school in the Bronx, Stanford University, and other schools. They went on MTV. They went on the Donahue show (an important TV talk show at the time) when President Bush (the first) threatened a constitutional amendment banning flag burning.
Joey Johnson, notorious flag-burner, currently facing charges for burning the flag at the August Republican National Convention in Cleveland, with 16 other people (known as the RNC 16).
Joey Johnson went into how there were a lot of dimensions to all of this. When the flag case was going on, there was a major international incident where the author Salman Rushdie was being threatened by authorities in Iran for blasphemy against Islam for a novel he wrote. Joey said people told him they could relate to his case because the Texas law he was arrested under for burning the flag was called “desecration of a venerated object.” There was an important dimension, as well, of artists involved in the case. Dread Scott did a famous art installation. There was an amicus brief where artists who had used flags or flag-related images in their work raised that if Johnson’s conviction for flag burning were upheld, art would be criminalized. All of this and more entered into a huge societal debate where millions could see that a Supreme Court upholding criminalizing flag burning would amount to forced patriotism. The final Supreme Court decision was close—5 to 4. And Joey Johnson stressed the underlying revolutionary internationalism behind burning the flag. In Cleveland, when he spoke before burning the flag at the RNC protest, he said America was first in genocide, slavery, and nuclear incineration, and “I wish I could have said more but the police were closing in.”
A woman stepped up and told a wrenching story. She was visiting from another country, and her family had come to that country as refugees from a country in the Middle East that the U.S. had invaded and ravaged. Her father and other family members had been brutally and viciously attacked by U.S. soldiers and as a young woman she had been bitterly angry, and so furious at the U.S. that she could not conceive of anything good in America and had refused to come to America. She had tried to sue the U.S. military in court for what had been done to her family—of course she got nowhere. Coming from her perspective on all this, she said she had never considered harming anyone herself, but she fully understood and felt the fury and rage that drives people to commit terrorist attacks. She had finally decided to come to see Berkeley—and had by chance come to see Revolution Books and then this movie. She spoke after the film of how exciting it had been to her to completely, unexpectedly come upon Revolution Books—to come to understand more fully that the U.S. people and the U.S. government were not the same. And to see that inside the U.S. were people who stood up to and repudiated the U.S. empire and its crimes, and who rejected U.S. patriotism and stood with the oppressed all over the world. This was deeply moving to her.
Near the end of the evening, Joey Johnson focused some on Colin Kaepernick’s righteous refusal to stand for the national anthem, and the need for everyone to have his back. He said that the authorities are exerting all kinds of pressure on him, to bully him, and it is important for everyone in society that feels this way to support him. He called on people to work with him after the event to get organized to go out to the high school football games in response to the call from revcom.us to “Sit Down for Their Nasty-full Anthem.”
There was much more, but this should be enough to give a picture of a powerful, moving event.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016Uzbekistan Ruler Croaks
September 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
CNN's September 3 headline reads: “U.S. loses partner in terror war with death of Uzbekistan’s leader.” Give the headline writer some credit: It IS a U.S. terror war.
Of course, that isn’t the message of the article. CNN’s story began: “The death of Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov could pose serious challenges for the U.S. in areas such as counterterrorism and could become another flash point in the contentious U.S.-Russia relationship.
“Since 9/11, Uzbekistan has been at times critical to US foreign policy objectives in Central and South Asia, including in Afghanistan and in efforts to curb Russian influence in the region.”
What does it mean to be a partner in the U.S. terror war? Former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray was revolted by ghastly crimes he saw. Testifying about the horrors of Karimov’s regime at the Bush Crimes Commission in NYC in 2006, he said:
When I came across cases of people being boiled alive, cases of daughters being raped in front of their fathers, cases of torture of children, and the fact that we were receiving intelligence from those torture sessions, it seemed to me axiomatic that anyone brought up in the United States or the United Kingdom would believe their overriding and only duty was to stop it. And, perhaps naively, when I started trying to stop it internally, I actually believed that this must be the work of renegade people at lower levels and that once senior politicians in the UK and US knew what was happening, they would stop it. I was quickly disillusioned. I discovered this part of a wider international policy of the use of torture in the pursuit of the war on terror.
And, he said, “This may sound exaggerated. But it isn’t. At that moment I understood how some civil servant ended up writing out the orders for cattle trucks to go to Auschwitz, and felt they were only ‘doing their job.’ And ladies and gentlemen, that is what we face now: the flight toward fascism.”
Such is the rarely exposed nature of regimes around the world the U.S. calls partners in a war OF TERROR—against humanity. And no amount of crimes by the “other side” in the clash between the West and fundamentalist Islamic Jihad can justify anyone going along with this!
Craig Murray set an important standard in the face of the rulers of the U.S. justifying torture as “saving American lives.” He said, “I would personally rather die than have anyone tortured to save my life.”
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
January 12, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On December 18, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had “verified” a second “miracle” attributed to Mother Teresa since her death in 1997, paving the way for her to become canonized—declared a “saint.” (According to Catholic mythology, it takes two miracles to prove that the person being prayed to is in heaven: the first makes them “blessed”; a second “miracle” means they can become a “saint.” The myth is that only those in heaven can “intercede with God” on the person’s behalf.) Mother Teresa’s first supposed miracle—the claim that a beam of light from her picture made an Indian woman’s cancerous tumor go away in 2003—is contradicted by the explanation of the woman’s doctors, who said that she didn’t have cancer and the tumor responded to medical treatment. This time, we’re told a man in Brazil with a serious viral brain infection was cured by supernatural healing in 2008 after his wife prayed to the Blessed Mother Teresa.
The pope’s official designation of Mother Teresa’s official “sainthood” isn’t expected to come until September 2016. But for the Catholic hierarchy, from the Vatican on down, Mother Teresa has been a “saint” for decades.
As we have written earlier, Pope Francis is being branded the “People’s Pope” for giving up some of the traditional ceremonial trappings of the position; for his expressions of concern over the worst abuses of capitalism; and for his expressions of sympathy for the poor in a world of extreme and savage inequality. He has called the Church “obsessed” with condemning same-sex relationships and forcing women to bear children against their will by opposing not just abortion but any form of birth control—while making clear there cannot and should not be any fundamental change in the Church’s position. And he’s even called for “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” (See “The ‘People’s Pope’: This Is NOT a New Catholic Church” at www.revcom.us.)
But Pope Francis has also sent a message that the Church will support you only if you accept the framework—the current world order—and work for modest reform. The essential message of this pope to the poor and oppressed, like every pope before him, is subservience in this world—which means subservience to a world order of genocide and oppression of whole peoples, while waiting for relief in an imaginary “after-life.” It means accepting and working within a world built on exploitation enforced with violence; and submission to the most obscene degradation of women as less than human. And the pope condemns and opposes any attempt to seriously stand up against the suffering produced by a global system of oppression.
Mother Teresa has been made/turned into a world-famous icon because she embodies that same message. She has been promoted and is seen worldwide as a model of dedication and sacrifice to help relieve the suffering of the poor and destitute of the world. Much of this surrounds her work among the sick and dying of Calcutta, India—now called Kolkata—which earned her the title of “Saint of the Gutters.”
But the incredible hype that has been created around Mother Teresa for decades, so valuable in service of the interests of the Catholic Church and of the imperialist powers and their system, has been called out and exposed from many different angles—by doctors, social workers, academics, and others—who’ve examined the way people are mis-treated at the missions, and much, much more.
The reality of Mother Teresa’s life is that of a religious fundamentalist, a fanatic and bigot, whose concern for the poor was wrapped in a message of acceptance and obedience. Her centers for the sick and dying were not about treatment but about teaching acceptance of their permanent “wretchedness,” while manipulating them in service of the expansion of Christianity among people of other religions. She used her worldwide platform to promote vicious attacks on women around the world fighting against centuries of patriarchy, including the most basic right to control their own bodies through access to abortion and birth control. Mother Teresa used her reputation to bring acceptance to dictators like Jean Claude Duvalier of Haiti; to intervene on behalf of swindlers like the Christian fundamentalist and convicted embezzler Charles Keating; and to praise and promote the war criminal Ronald Reagan at the very time he was having people slaughtered in Central America. In exchange for her endorsement and photo ops with her, millions of dollars were contributed to her charities.
Pope Francis chose his visit to the U.S. last October to canonize a genocidal missionary—Junipero Serra—knowing, and excusing the fact, that Serra and the Church were responsible for the killing of 60,000 Native Americans in his California missions. (See “Genocidal Maniac Declared a Saint: Junípero Serra and the Pople’s Message for Today“ at www.revcom.us.) And now he has decided the value to the Church of elevating Mother Teresa to sainthood is worth the risk of exposure of the Vatican’s actual message and motives.
At the time of her death, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity had opened 517 hospices and homes for the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. The medical journal Lancet, after a visit by doctors to the Missionaries of Charity facilities in Kolkata, published a report in 1994 of the kind of treatment the destitute, with HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis, were receiving. And two years ago, a paper published in the Canadian journal Studies in Religion/sciences religieuses by professors from two prominent Canadian universities examined nearly all of the written materials ever produced about the life and work of Mother Teresa. If you thought the mission of the Missionaries of Charity was to bring care and treatment to those in most desperate need, you’re not even close. What these journals found was grotesque—and intentionally so.
The doctors were shocked by the supposed treatment of those who had come for help in these “homes for the dying.” While there were doctors who called in from time to time, usually the sisters and volunteers made decisions about treatment for the two-thirds of the people coming there hoping to find a doctor. They found a lack of hygiene and unfit conditions, a shortage of actual care, and inadequate food. And even those who were dying in incredible pain were denied painkillers; instead they were simply left without receiving even the most basic care.
This was not due to a lack of funds—the foundation created by Mother Teresa raised hundreds of millions of dollars. These conditions were in fact deliberate—an approach to caring for the sick that glorified their suffering instead of relieving it. As Mother Teresa herself put it (in response to a question at a 1981 press conference, “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot?”): “I think it is very beautiful for the poor to accept their lot, to share it with the passion of Christ. I think the world is being much helped by the suffering of the poor people.”
A volunteer in Kolkata described what she found inside these missions this way: “My initial impression was of all the photographs and footage I’ve ever seen of Belsen [Bergen-Belsen, a Nazi concentration camp] and places like that, because all the patients had shaved heads. No chairs anywhere, there were just these stretcher beds... there’s no garden, no yard even. No nothing.” There were just two rooms with over 50 men in one and over 50 women in the other—dying.
On her first day, this volunteer saw a 15-year-old boy who was dying. A doctor told her he’d been trying to treat the boy, who had a relatively simple kidney complaint that got worse and worse for lack of antibiotics. The boy needed an operation, and the doctor was angry. He said: “Well, they won’t take him to the hospital.” She asked the doctor why they didn’t just get him a cab to the hospital and demand he be treated. The doctor said, “They don’t do it. They won’t do it. If they do it for one, they do it for everybody.”
All of this is consistent with the actual mission of Mother Teresa and her centers—to convert the people under their “care” to Christianity. In February of this year, prominent Hindu nationalist politicians in India criticized the actual motives behind the centers as principally bringing people into the Catholic Church from other religions. This went so far as to keep the baptisms of Hindus and Muslims secret—even from those being baptized! On the verge of death, people were asked not whether they wanted to convert to Catholicism, but if they wanted a “ticket to heaven.” If so, the nuns would pretend to cool the patient’s forehead with a wet cloth, while in fact baptizing them. Apparently, she was video-recorded saying:
Something very beautiful: not one has died without receiving the special ticket for St. Peter as we call it. We call baptism “Ticket for St. Peter.” We ask the [dying] person do you want a blessing by which your sins will be forgiven and you receive God. They have never refused. So 29,000 have died in that one house from the time we began in 1952.
The centers run by the Missionaries of Charity in Papua, New Guinea, don’t have any patients in them; they’re solely used to convert the local people to Christianity.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. By then she had already been elevated to a global icon for the work of her Missionaries of Charity in India. Upon receiving the award, you might have expected her to make a worldwide appeal to put an end to the horrific conditions faced by vast portions of humanity around the world, and to point to the role of wealthy and powerful nations and governments in perpetuating this suffering. But in her speech accepting the award, she never mentioned the war on the poor by this system, to say nothing of resistance—instead, she poured out the most vicious attack on women all over the world. After first blaming mothers forced to go to work for the rising use of drugs among young people in the West, she went on: “I think that today peace is threatened by abortion, too, which is a true war, the direct killing of a child by its own mother.... Today, abortion is the worst evil, and the greatest enemy of peace.” (The Missionary Position, Christopher Hitchens, p. 57)
This so-called “helper of the poor” has “helped” the Church’s efforts in forcing millions of women to risk back-alley or self-induced abortions that lead to the death of tens of thousands of women every year from botched abortions. The Church—and its icons—are soaked in the blood of women, from head to toe; while countless more millions of women are forced to bear children against their will, due to the Church’s opposition to birth control.
In Mother Teresa’s travels around the world promoting her work and raising money, she took the time to publicly embrace—literally—hated dictators and world leaders who were carrying out crimes against humanity. In 1975, to curry favor with India’s Congress Party, she endorsed Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s suspension of civil liberties, saying: “People are happier. There are more jobs. There are no strikes.” In addition to her prominent photo ops with the wife of the hated dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier of Haiti, she visited the arch-conservative Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher—and their private meeting didn’t focus on the homeless and the “Cardboard City” that had become a major issue in England, but on opposition to abortion, at a time when a bill was going through Parliament to make it less available to women.
Mother Teresa went to the White House in 1985 after President Reagan gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Reagan was overseeing genocidal wars in El Salvador and Guatemala and arming the Contras against Nicaragua; in 1980 Archbishop Romero and four nuns were murdered by the U.S.-backed regime in El Salvador. Despite all this, Mother Teresa had no trouble telling the world, “I am most unworthy of this generous gift of our President, Mr. Reagan, and his wife and you people of the United States.” And she went on to say, “I never realized that you loved the people so tenderly.”
In the same period, she went to Nicaragua and El Salvador and then to Guatemala, where she said, at a time when the slaughter of the indigenous peoples had become a worldwide issue: “Everything was peaceful in the parts of the country we visited. I do not get involved in that sort of politics.”
For the Catholic Church, and for the imperialist system, there have been few more valuable myths in the contemporary era that have been spread among the masses of people worldwide than “Mother Teresa.” This actual symbol of fundamentalist ignorance and blind subservience and obedience—who taught the poor not to rebel against, but to accept, endure, and indeed relish, their wretchedness; who contributed to the aggressive reassertion of the patriarchic oppression of women; and who was a willing apologist for those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity—is once again being dragged out to deliver the message.
What we need is not yet one more saint to make slavery more tolerable. What we need is leadership in the fight to do away with slavery. We need a revolution. And we need it as soon as possible.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revolution Club at Columbia University, NYC. Photos: Special to revcom.us
The NYC Revolution Club stepped out on the first day of classes at Columbia University, ready to shake some things up. In the middle of the afternoon, one member of the club walked to the middle of campus, alone, pulled out the american rag, laid it out on the steps, and sat on it. Then three other RevComs entered the scene with large signs: One with "Sit Down with Colin Kaepernick" from revcom.us, and the other with Joey Johnson and the RNC 16 burning the american rag. They started chanting "1,2,3,4, slavery, genocide and war, 5,6,7,8, America was NEVER great!" Noche Diaz of the Revolution Club began agitating about what this country is really all about, why we have no respect for that imperialist rag. He continued: in fact, there is a way out; we have the leadership in Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party and a strategy to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time. He invited students to the October 8 launch of the book, THE NEW COMMUNISM by Bob Avakian, featuring Cornel West and Carl Dix.
This drew in lots of students, who got the Message from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, "Time to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution."
The club sat on the rag, and talked with people who were interested in what we were doing, what we were about, etc. A small group of veterans came out to challenge us, and very quickly debate sharpened over the role of the U.S. military. A veteran and friend of the Revolution Club came by and was invited to sit on the rag, and struggled with a reactionary veteran, saying that even in the Navy, they treat Black people like slaves, and that he was ashamed to have served in their military. Another student joined the club in calling out a reactionary veteran, and struggled with a friend of his who was trying to argue that America was essentially "post-racial." He signed up to learn more about the club, and left with a handful of materials.
So some things have been opened up on this campus with the club's bold action, and need to be pushed on a lot further.
Revolution #455 September 5, 2016
September 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On September 8, more than 400 inmates at Florida’s Holmes Correctional Institution rose up in a series of protests that spread throughout the compound, and lasted long into the night. There are reports that the immediate cause was that prisoners are locked down in hellish, hot dormitories and denied access to outdoor recreation. The uprising took place on the eve of prisoner strikes called for the anniversary of the Attica prison uprising.
The Miami Herald is reporting that authorities re-established control “using canisters of chemicals that made it hard for prisoners to breathe.” As we post this, there are reports that prisoners are confined to dorms, or being shipped to other locations. But prison authorities have imposed ominous censorship, denying prisoners access to the media to tell the truth about the conditions they face and the violence they were hit with.
In a nation of mass incarceration, Florida ranks 3rd—behind Texas and California—in the number of people locked up. Over the past two years, glimpses of the conditions in the Florida prison system have come to light including brutal or unexplained deaths of inmates, and a record number of use-of-force incidents by guards. Four years ago, Darren Rainey, a Black 50-year-old mentally ill prisoner serving a two-year term for drug possession at the Dade Correctional Center in Florida, was savagely murdered by prison guards—forced into a scalding hot shower and left there for more than an hour. When guards finally opened the door, Darren was dead, with his skin shriveled and peeling from his body. One inmate said he saw Darren’s “burnt dead body” go by his cell on a stretcher. Another was told to clean up the scene, and said he found chunks of Darren’s skin in the shower and on Darren’s shoe that he was told to throw in the trash.
It is unclear whether the uprising at Holmes was connected to the call for prison strikes on the anniversary of Attica, but it focused attention on the hell prisoners face in America, and the call for the strikes on September 9.
In 1971, prisoners at Attica rebelled, declaring: “We are men. We are not beasts, and we do not intend to be beaten and driven as such... What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed...” (See American Crime: Case #81: September 13, 1971—Massacre of Heroic Attica Prisoners). Forty-five years later, the actual revolution that will end this kind of inhuman brutality is needed more urgently than ever.
As we go to press, there are reports that Chelsea Manning, in prison for exposing U.S. war crimes, began a hunger strike on September 9. A report from inside Holman prison in Alabama said that at “12:01 Sept 9th, all inmates at Holman Prison refused to report to their prison jobs without incident. With the rising of the sun came an eerie silence as the men at Holman laid on their racks reading or sleeping. Officers are performing all tasks.”
Stay tuned to Revolution/revcom.us for news on those strikes, and solidarity protests outside prisons.
Readers: Please send reports on solidarity protests supporting striking prisoners, including where revolutionary communists connected with the message “Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution,” to email@example.com.