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Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editor's note: The following was distributed at the NYC Launch of the pathbreaking new book from Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM.
If you were inspired by what you heard and felt today... If the readings from Bob Avakian's new book, THE NEW COMMUNISM provoked, challenged and moved you... If you felt like the discussion that followed is what everyone should be talking about everywhere... here are THREE things you can do to be part of spreading this throughout society and digging into it yourself.
1Invite a speaker from The Bob Avakian Institute to your school, classroom, book club, church, professional association or host a fundraising salon. Put this in front of groups of people who need to hear about and engage with the new synthesis of communism—and open up a great debate about BA's analysis of the source of the problem in the system of capitalism-imperialism and what it will take for an actual revolution and a radically different society on the road to emancipating all of humanity. These ardent advocates for the new synthesis of communism can speak to people's biggest questions and challenge them with the reality concentrated in BA's work, with largeness of mind and a welcoming spirit. This can be part of opening up a very different, very needed, and very refreshing kind of debate in society.
2Contribute and help raise funds for THE NEW COMMUNISM to reach everywhere. This book is for anyone who cares about the state of the world and the condition of humanity and agonizes over whether fundamental change is really possible. Think of the millions whose blood boils every time they hear of another police murder... whose heart hurts over the mass death and misery of refugees fleeing war torn lands only to drown in the ocean depths... who are frightened to their core about the speeding rush of environmental destruction... but who don't know there is a way out. All of those people need to know about, and need to have the opportunity to engage with THE NEW COMMUNISM—students, teachers, artists, professionals, farmworkers, activists... everyone.
In addition to broad promotion and advertising to reach throughout society, The BA Institute is launching a program to raise funds to get this book to those whose life is a daily hell under this system. Contribute to subsidize copies of THE NEW COMMUNISM to be distributed for $5 to those just out of the prisons, in the housing projects, and everywhere else where just getting through another day is a struggle, but who need to connect with the scientific breakthroughs and revolutionary understanding in this book.
As one Revolution Club member from the inner-city wrote: "[THE NEW COMMUNISM] showed me that there can be a better society than capitalism. And that made me appreciate it more because as a Black man growing up in this society it was always very, very tough for me. The book gave me a way to understand that we need to make a new society and hope. I am eager to share this book with everybody."
Be part of spreading that hope.
3Dig into THE NEW COMMUNISM deeply with others. This book is a sweeping document of world historic importance. At the same time, it provides a foundation and strategic orientation in relation to "the science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation." Once a month, over the next five months, Revolution Books will host a discussion of each section of the book. Come together with others, take the unique opportunity to go back and forth with a follower of Bob Avakian who has gotten deeply into THE NEW COMMUNISM. Work with the scientific method and approach at the heart of the new synthesis of communism and apply yourself—in a collective way—to the biggest questions and needs facing humanity.
In NYC: These discussions start this coming Thursday, October 13 and will take place the second Thursday of every month for the next five months. Come to this first discussion having read, and ready to get into the "Introduction and Orientation." Bring your questions and thinking. (Revolution Books in NYC is located at 437 Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Avenue at 132nd Street.)
Information on discussions in other cities will be posted as it becomes available.
Checks or money orders may be made out to The Bob Avakian Institute
You can mail your contribution to:
The Bob Avakian Institute, 1016 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60607
Credit card payments can be made on line at www.TheBobAvakianInstitute.org
All gifts are greatly appreciated. Please be aware that The Bob Avakian Institute is not tax exempt and donations made to it are not tax deductible.
If you are a resident of these states: Georgia, Michigan, & Washington D.C. online donations cannot be accepted from residents of these states. We are sorry for the inconvenience. At this time, The Bob Avakian Institute can actively solicit donations from residents of the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wyoming. All gifts (donations) from these states are greatly appreciated. Residents of these same states can donate online.Gifts from residents of other states can be made to RCP Publications.
Revolution #460 October 10, 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."
We should be popularizing this in a very bold way. People often raise the criticism to us: “You always say what you’re against—you’re very negative, you’re against this, you’re against that, you always say what you’re against—but you don’t say what you’re for.” Well, yes, we do—and guess what, it’s not the Democratic Party! But here’s what we’re for—right here, right in this Constitution. A lot of grappling with contradictions went into this Constitution. As I said, it wasn’t just: “Let’s come up with things that will appeal to this group, and things that will appeal to that group.” That’s not how we proceeded at all. It was a matter of doing the best possible—it was dealing in the best possible way with the contradictions that could be anticipated, and what are the principles and guidelines that should be followed to deal with these contradictions. And some of it is very detailed and very precise. People should grapple with, and people should utilize, this document in that kind of way, with that kind of understanding.
Or let’s take another contradiction: Why is the possibility of a draft, for the armed forces of the New Socialist Republic, included in this Constitution? Why doesn’t it say that you can just rely on people volunteering? Well, it does make the point that people volunteering is the main aspect—the main thing that should be relied on—winning people politically and ideologically. In a discussion I had with someone who grew up in China, they said that when China was a socialist country, people in China—the youth in particular—were just tremendously inspired to join the People’s Liberation Army, to defend the socialist state and back up the revolution in the world. People wanted to do this, they wanted to be defenders of the revolution. So there is a lot of that sentiment and orientation that can be relied on. On the other hand, there’s a relation between necessity and freedom here, that you’re going to be dealing with. Why does it say, in this Constitution, that you can’t teach creationism in the schools, that the science of evolution is going to be taught as a fact? Why not just leave it up to people to decide, why not see if anybody likes creationism and wants it taught in the schools? No! You have to set certain terms—this point has been repeatedly emphasized, and for good reason—you have to set certain terms. That’s the solid core you set—and you actually create necessity for other forces by setting certain terms. And then you struggle things out on that basis. This point has been illustrated by using the example of the movie, from a few years ago, Remember the Titans. In the situation that movie was dealing with, in a city in the South several decades ago, they integrated the schools there, they integrated the football team in what had been essentially an all-white school, and they even replaced the previous white coach with a Black football coach. And then they said: Now, let’s deal with the struggle that has to be waged around this. They didn’t go to all the white people and say: “Do you want to integrate the school and integrate the football team and, on top of it, have a Black coach for the football team?” Guess what they would have said?
There are all kinds of things like that in this Constitution. Why does it talk about socializing ownership of the means of production? Why not just leave it to people to vote how they want the economy to run? Because you have to have a solid core, certain fundamental principles, and you have to set terms and create certain necessity. And we aren’t yet at the point—and we won’t be at the beginning stage that this Constitution is talking about—where you can rely solely on people volunteering for the armed forces if the very existence of your republic is in danger. There’s a certain necessity you put on people. Now, if you rely on that, then you’re on a slippery slope toward becoming like a bourgeois state, and you’re exercising power more and more in that way. But, put it this way: There is a certain value and importance, when you have the freedom to do so, to set certain necessity, to set certain terms, and then struggle things out from that standpoint.
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 #460 October 10, 2016
Excerpt from 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, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Question: The statement “On the Strategy for Revolution” from the Revolutionary Communist Party, which people can and definitely should read at the website revcom.us–that strategy statement talks about the orientation of right now working to bring forward, orient and train thousands of people in a revolutionary way, with those thousands reaching and influencing millions of people even before a revolutionary situation, and then in a revolutionary situation, leading those millions of people. It seems like part of what you’ve been saying is that getting into BA is a really essential element of that process of bringing forward, orienting and training thousands of people in a revolutionary way who are reaching and influencing millions now and then in a position to lead those millions in a different situation, a revolutionary situation.
AS: Yes, absolutely. You can’t have a revolution without revolutionary theory, without scientific methods that can clarify what is correct versus incorrect revolutionary theory, and what is the direction things should go in, or should not go in. You don’t have a chance of having a successful revolution if you don’t take up these kinds of methods. And BA models these kinds of methods all the time. All people need to do is pay attention, listen and read and discuss.
Question: I want to return to what we were talking about a little while ago, in terms of what it means that Bob Avakian has brought forward a new synthesis of communism, and I wanted to ask you about the basic difference it would make for, not just a few people, but waves of people, to take up this new synthesis of communism that BA has brought forward, the difference that would make in the world right now.
AS: Well, look, the new synthesis of communism, it’s either correct or not to call it a new synthesis, and people are welcome to grapple with this and to dig into it, and should do that in order to recognize that it actually is a new synthesis. But what that means is that there’s a whole leap, a qualitative leap, in our human understanding of the stage of history that we’re in, and what is the material basis underlying the contradictions, the problems that exist in the world today, including in this society, but everywhere else as well, and what can be done about it. There has been what people refer to as “the end of a stage of communism,” the end of the first wave of the socialist revolutions, and there’s an opening now for the beginning of a new stage. But unfortunately today, there are very few genuine communist revolutionaries anywhere in the world, at least at this point. Very few. So it’s not like the new synthesis of communism brought out by Bob Avakian is the fashionable method or the fashionable ideology that zillions of people around the world are taking up at this point. Quite the contrary. People are fighting against it. People are trying to turn away from it, mainly by ignoring it, neglecting it, refusing to dig into it with any kind of depth and substance, which we’ll get into some more in a minute, I’m sure.
But it’s an outrage that people refuse to engage this. When somebody has done this much work and spent their whole life developing this framework, you should first of all do some deep study of the framework instead of just superficially dismissing it. If you dig into the new synthesis deeply and then still end up having some serious differences with it that you can actually flesh out and argue about with substance–well, OK, then, let’s go ahead, let’s have those discussions, let’s have that kind of serious engagement. But most people, even some people who consider themselves revolutionaries or communists, they’ll just kind of lightly dismiss it, without any serious engagement and without even knowing what it’s about. They haven’t done the work. They haven’t read the articles and the books. They haven’t listened to the talks and watched the movies. But they still feel entitled to just reject and dismiss it, telling anyone who will listen that it’s no good. To me that is unconscionable. Because what is right and what is wrong in these matters will ultimately have bearing on the lives of millions and billions of people. So it matters, and deserves to be seriously engaged and evaluated.
Or, in the very few instances where people have actually tried to do a critique of the new synthesis, they have typically grossly distorted it, revealing that they do not really understand it, particularly in terms of method, and the application of that method to a number of critical questions. Once again, people should go to the online theoretical journal Demarcations, which can be accessed through the website revcom.us, where you can find substantial polemics that thoroughly examine and refute these critiques of the new synthesis and discuss what the new synthesis actually is, and why it is so crucial.
Then there are people who say they are anti-communist, simply because they’re full of prejudices and misconceptions. Because somebody at some point in their lives told them, “Oh everybody knows communism failed, people hate socialism, capitalism is the best possible system.” You “just know this” why? You just know this because somebody somewhere told you that “everybody knows that!” and you bought into this, on blind faith! The only reason you supposedly “know” that communism is no good is because the authorities, the ruling authorities, have been promoting that kind of anti-communist propaganda for a very long time. But face it: You don’t even really know what you’re talking about. You’ll just repeat the slanders about China and Mao, for instance, but have you seriously looked into it to see if it’s really true? Do you even know what kind of contradictions, what kinds of big social problems, they were trying to resolve? What kinds of social needs they were trying to meet? Do you even know what great accomplishments they actually managed to bring about, to the benefit of the vast majority of people, and in just a few short decades? Do you know what their starting point was, the problems they were dealing with when they seized power, and do you know what the old society was like in China, under feudalism and colonial domination, what the old ways of doing things were that were so brutal and oppressive and that they were working so hard to dismantle and get away from? Be honest: You don’t really know any of that, do you? Not really, or in any case not with enough depth. Because if you did, you probably wouldn’t make such facile dismissals of the struggles that they waged. If you actually studied all this deeply and with an open mind, you would know more about, and you would be talking more about, the phenomenal transformations that they were able to accomplish in that society under socialism, in the days of Mao’s leadership. Once again, you can start learning about this by going to the thisiscommunism.org website, which you can link to through the revcom.us website, and checking out some of the substantial work that Raymond Lotta has done on this, and reading some of the analyses that Bob Avakian has done about the restoration of capitalism in post-Mao China, the nature of Chinese society before the revolution, what Mao and the revolutionary party in China were trying to accomplish, and did accomplish, that was extremely positive, and what difficult contradictions they were grappling with, including within the party.
You know, a lot of these people who just give you the one or two sentence dismissal about how “everybody know that this was a disaster, or everybody knows Mao killed millions of people, or everybody knows....” You don’t know shit, OK, to be perfectly blunt about it. You don’t know shit, because you haven’t done the work. And especially those of you out there who are supposedly intellectuals, academics, knowledgeable people, educated people, and scientific people–give me a break! Because you wouldn’t be able to hold forth for ten minutes about what they actually did accomplish, about what they were trying to accomplish, about what problems they were running into, about how they tried to resolve them, about the complexity of the contradictions they were wrestling with, about the many instances in which they handled things the right way, the instances where they made mistakes...you can’t really talk about any of this with any depth or substance because you haven’t really bothered to look into this seriously, so you basically don’t know shit. And yet you somehow feel completely free to repeat and spread a bunch of canned propaganda slanders that supposedly “everybody knows...” and that you have just swallowed whole, uncritically and on blind faith. Shame on you! This makes me mad. Don’t tell me that it’s acceptable to just dismiss a whole huge human social experiment, one that concretely accomplished many wonderful things, and that secondarily had some shortcomings and problems. Don’t tell me it’s OK to just arrogantly wave your hand and dismiss it without having even really looked into it seriously and with an open mind. That’s just so socially irresponsible. That is so unconscionable. That is, frankly, disgusting.
And again with very, very few exceptions, in the international movements, or in this country, people won’t even discuss and dig into BA’s new synthesis. They’ll just make snarky comments and remarks like, “Oh BA, everybody knows...that’s some kind of a cult. Everybody just blindly follows him around, or they think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, or whatever.” Once again, this is totally socially irresponsible. Somebody has spent decades of their life working on the problems of society, working on the problems of revolution, working on the problems of how to actually fight in a way that you could win, but also fight for a goal that is worth winning, and in a way that is consistent with that goal, so you don’t end up with something worse or just as bad as where you started off. Someone who has grappled with great depth and richness with all these issues, and has actually brought forward actual evidence, people–concrete evidence, OK?–repeated patterns of evidence. So you know, bring me the proof. Bring me the evidence. If you claim this stuff isn’t right, bring me the proof of why it’s not right. Do the work. Bring the evidence. Because BA does bring the evidence. He does approach things scientifically. He doesn’t say things because he just “feels” like saying them and because this comes from just some kind of personal “belief.” He doesn’t go on belief, he doesn’t base himself on any kind of “belief”–instead he bases what he says and argues for on concrete and demonstrable scientific evidence. So how ‘bout you try to do the same thing for a change?
On the positive side, it would make a big difference if more and more people became actively committed to learning about the new synthesis–to honestly, with principle and integrity, dig into some of its key principles and key methods and approaches, and, on that basis, critically evaluate it. And then promoted even more widespread discussion about all this in society more broadly. You don’t have to agree with everything, you don’t even have to know everything about the new synthesis to recognize that broader society-wide wrangling with the new synthesis could have great social value. Again, if somebody has spent 40 years developing a new synthesis, I obviously wouldn’t expect somebody just encountering it to start “representing” for the new synthesis, or to be able to do a full criticism of it, or whatever, after just a few months. But even someone who has only recently been exposed to this work in a beginning way should be able to recognize that there’s something very substantial and very serious here that at least deserves serious engagement, and societal debate. Whatever people end up thinking about it, people should be engaging and discussing it seriously, studying it. Undergraduate college students should be writing papers, graduate students should be doing Ph.D. theses, on this new synthesis of communism. Regardless of where you ultimately fall out on it, BA’s body of work is substantial, it is deep and profound, and it demands to be taken seriously, and to be analyzed seriously and to be debated and discussed very widely throughout society.
So even if you had just that going on, it could make a big difference in a positive sense. My understanding is that a big objective of the BA Everywhere campaign, for instance, is to broadly promote precisely that kind of broad societal engagement and debate about this new synthesis. The goal is obviously not to try to get a bunch of people to be blind followers of BA–“blind followers” could not contribute to advancing this project, this conception of revolution. It requires conscious engagement. OK? So the idea is not to get a bunch of blind followers but to promote widespread engagement with the new synthesis broadly throughout society, to get as many people as possible to become familiar with BA’s new synthesis of communism, to discuss it and debate it, study it and wrangle with it, and bring in their own insights, and bat things around with others who are doing the same thing, all as part of a process. And those people who become convinced that this new synthesis really is on track, really is where it’s at, in terms of analyzing the source of the problems of society and analyzing what the solution should be–those people who become more and more convinced of all that should become active fighters for the new synthesis, spreading it to every corner of this society, as well as around the world, taking it out to all sorts of people, to the people in the neighborhoods of the inner cities, into the prisons, into the halls of academia, into the scientific institutions, to people in the arts and other cultural spheres...in short, everywhere!
The only people who...sometimes it’s frustrating because sometimes you get the sense that the rulers, some of the ruling class figures, are the ones who pay the most attention to these theoretical breakthroughs in revolutionary strategy and vision and conception and method. Of course that’s because they’re trying to defend their system against this! On the other hand, sometimes the people who need this the most, who suffer the most, or who have the most criticisms of this system and the way things are, who may complain on a daily basis about this problem or that problem, sometimes they can’t be bothered to actually do the work to learn about this whole vision and conception that’s been worked out over 40 years and more, and that is actually claiming to have a way out. Now, if you end up deciding that no, you don’t like it, this is not the way out, fine, then make your case for that, and go do your own thing. But meanwhile, don’t say that you’re part of struggling against the problems in society and all these different outrages, but at the same time make a point of refusing to seriously check out what BA’s been arguing for. That would be like refusing to take advice from a doctor who has decades of experience and expertise dealing with a medical problem–why wouldn’t you want to hear what that doctor’s got to say?!
Question: Yeah, I definitely want, in a moment, to come back to this point about the snark and slander, and the haters, and the dismissal without engagement. But first I wanted to go a little bit more at this point about how the new synthesis is a theoretical framework to initiate a whole new stage of communist revolution, but at the same time it’s facing a very sharp battle up against other outlooks and methods, and other understandings of the problem and solution. So I wondered if you could talk a little bit more about that: the new synthesis up against other understandings of the world, of problem and solution.
COMMUNISM: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE
A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Available in English, Farsi, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Turkish from RCP Publications, P.O. Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654
$5 + $1 shipping. A draft translation into Arabic is now available online. See all translations here.
AS: Well, I don’t know that I can do justice to this in this interview, and I’m going to point people to more things that they could read on the website. People should go to the revcom.us website where they can find many of BA’s works, and summaries of what the new synthesis is about. Also, people, including on the international level, who are interested in digging into this and understanding things on a more global plane, should definitely check out Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and the whole section that is there about the new synthesis. And I have to say, once again, that people really need to get into the polemics in support of the new synthesis–such as the polemics from the OCR [The Revolutionary Communist Organization] in Mexico and others who are defending the new synthesis and promoting it in opposition to a lot of different wrong lines in the international communist movement. These polemics are actually very rich in lessons and analyses, they are a valuable resource for people to turn to. And the journal of theoretical struggle, Demarcations, which can also be linked to through the revcom.us website, is a very important resource which is promoting broad engagement and struggle internationally over key questions, including analyses of things like what happened in Nepal, how and why the revolution in Nepal went off track, and other related questions.
I’ve spoken a little bit earlier about some of the epistemological errors that have plagued the international communist movement. Two basic types of errors. First, there is a kind of brittle dogmatic tendency among some organizations and parties–you can’t talk to them about things further evolving in the science of communism, almost as if there were never any new objective developments and never anything new to be learned. They approach communism as if it were a bunch of sacred tenets, or like a catechism, rather than a living science. In fact, they refuse to approach it as a science, and to recognize that there’s a need for a science itself to evolve, for new things, new understandings to be incorporated, as part of the accumulating knowledge needed to advance things. They act like they are frozen in time, and they do a lot of damage because of that. And then there’s the other tendency which is also very prevalent, and very damaging in the world, and that represents the opposite error. There are some organizations and parties that are trying to evaluate things like why the socialist revolutions got turned back, why capitalism got restored, first in the Soviet Union and later in China, but who don’t go about digging into this in a rigorous and systematic scientific manner. So they go very much off track, and they think they’ve made some great new discoveries, found a great new alternative, when all they are really doing is arguing for nothing more than standard bourgeois democracy. They tend to think that the basic problem is that everything has to become essentially more elastic, or that the problem in the old communist parties was just too much bureaucracy, and they just don’t recognize or correctly dig into the actual epistemological and ideological errors, the basic errors of method and approach, that were involved in a lot of these situations–they don’t sort it out correctly.
And if you want to see, by negative example, what happens when you don’t apply the kind of rigorous scientific, consistently scientific methodology that Bob Avakian applies, then look at some of these parties and organizations that have gone off track in recent times, because they’ve based themselves only on very partial and unsystematic experience and understanding, and tried, frankly, to rely also on pandering to different social strata. They’ve undone some of their own best work and rendered worthless some of the sacrifices of their own people, because they haven’t been consistent, and they’ve allowed themselves to be buffeted about by one pull or another, usually of bourgeois democracy, of those kinds of illusions. Sometimes you think that really what they want is the kind of bourgeois revolution of 1776 in the United States or 1789 in France. In the bourgeois revolution, when the bourgeois class came to power, it did bring in some bourgeois democracy and some liberties and some emphasis on individual rights that had not existed in prior feudal societies. But you get the feeling that some of these revolutionaries in today’s international communist movement can hardly see beyond that kind of early bourgeois framework! They’re also not keeping up with the big objective changes that have gone on in the world and in the class configurations in the different countries. And they’re also frankly not proceeding from a very inspiring vision of how society should be organized, or how the struggle for a new society should be conceived of and undertaken as part of the larger international struggle, the international communist struggle to emancipate all of humanity.
That’s the thing. You want to see where people go off track? Time and time again, you’ll see that people are not proceeding back from the goal of emancipating all of humanity. They fall into the trap of promoting and trying to advance just one little corner of the struggle–in one particular country, or addressing just one particular set of needs. They’re not proceeding from the most inspiring global vision of all this. And this leads them to go off track. There are many different ways people can go off track. Again, things like the theoretical journal, Demarcations, and the polemics in support of the new synthesis, and the Manifesto of the Revolutionary Communist Party that speaks to the end of a stage and the beginning of a new stage in the communist movement–these are all good places to start digging into these important questions. These are not easy things to get into if you’re brand new to things, but they are things that people should be struggling around. And I think you should be able to pretty quickly see that, if there were more systematic engagement and deep discussion, not just of revolutionary practice in a tactical sense, but of these deeper strategic questions, in relation to those deeper strategic goals, such as what is argued for in the new synthesis, taking into account the way the world has actually been changing, and taking into account the breakthrough advances in philosophy and epistemological method that BA has been representing and concentrating, then I think there would be a much richer mix and much richer basis on a world scale for people to connect in a more unified way, in terms of a revolutionary direction, going in the direction of a communist world.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
Updated November 7, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The following is an excerpt of a letter from prisoner:
THE NEW COMMUNISM is yet another great scientific work produced by Bob Avakian. The most well rounded materialist of our time. This is the most comprehensive, most in-depth work yet. I love how he, in the most simplest terms, dissects not only the problems that the world faces at the hands of capitalism-imperialism, but also details in very real and meaningful ways, what we as communist revolutionaries face in our struggle as emancipators of humanity. But most important of all is how in this single book Chairman Avakian outlined what is meant by “new communism.” While explains why a new communism is indeed necessary in order to emancipate humanity. I have read and reread the great work and am now using it with other comrades in our study groups. EVERY WORK by Chairman Avakian should come with a study and discussion section. Great book and truly, its content is revolutionary in the most fundamental sense of the word. Thank you for sending me the copies and thank you Chairman Avakian for putting so much into emancipating humanity.
From a prisoner in California:
Please send me the soft-cover version [of THE NEW COMMUNISM] & I should be writing soon in regards to your request. But for the record I think the talk is pretty heavy, gives a good overview of communism, its missteps, setbacks, triumphs & present day state of affairs. But most importantly the book & the new synthesis in general is a great place to turn to in regards to how do we go about challenging ourselves & others to confront & dismantle u.s. capitalism & build a "new stage" of scientific socialism internationally.
As I also stated previously Skybreak's book SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION is just as vital & she clearly uses the new synthesis & her scientific grasp to plunge a mighty dagger in the monsters gut & I know how important it is for her and the party to promote the leadership of B-A & I believe this is rightly so...But I also believe her voice is just as urgent even if not just as heavy. But speaks volumes to who & what the party is. So im screamin' both B-A & Skybreak to all who will listen.
From a prisoner:
I would like too start off by giving thanks to Mr. Bob Avakian and the PRLF volunteers. I appreciate the PRLF for reaching back out. To take time out of yall day to help spread the word and help uplift those who might feel forsaken by their people, or who's looking for a better way of life.
By reading articles and books I can understand yall point of view. Which drive me to want to learn more and be as much of the help. To take the literature that I learn and share it with others.
More of my issues is the people, and what I mean when I say the people, is that they are lost and have no idea what's going on around them. They rather sit around and blame other people for their problems and do nothing and how can I blame them, I was once that way. Until I meet a brother by the name XXX. Who told me all about Revolution. I then learned that we shared a lot of the same thoughts.
So for those who are waiting for the time to stand for something, I would like to be of help. To do this I will need all the literature that I can receive. So to name a few, 1. Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2. Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 3. Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, 4. Science and Revolution, 5. BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, 6. Break ALL the Chains.
I'm also on my way home
From a Black prisoner:
Insurrectionary love!!... One of my comrades just tossed me the August 15, 2016 edition of Revolution and I am really impressed with BA's piece: THE NEW COMMUNISM. I grappled with thoughts of revenge myself but BA put that shit in proper perspective for me as well as a couple of other points....RCP's publications are all bammin' thru like a ma'fucka!! Subs to Revolution as well as books such as BAsics and other publications are desperately needed here. I resisted the hell out of BA for some years now. But now I'm forced to get into the line he's pushing and get DEAD SERIOUS ABOUT REVOLUTION. Help me, help the youth bring about a CHANGE.
Excerpted letter from prisoner in California, August 16, 2016:
I will continue to let others know, that getting a copy of the book is very important to understand why we need communism, and also how very important it is to destroy the capitalist system. I've shared my xerox copy with 3 other revolutionaries who by now should've written you for one of there own copy. As you know we New Afrikans inside this prison diaspora practice scientific socialism as our world view, and by so doing, have laid the foundation for others to follow. I can see the transformation of peoples values and ideas change around this practice, and it can only increase as the understanding of destroying capitalism develops. I look forward to hearing from you volunteers regularly, and I will try to submit more articles for you to put on your website.
From a prisoner:
I hope that everyone in the Party is doing well. I remember when I dreamed of paroling and joining the Party, but now my dream is coming closer to materializing into reality. When I am released, one of my priorities is to work with the Party, because had it not been for a member of the Party like Ardea Skybreak, I would not be as advanced in science and evolution as I am today.
And I know if an older man like me can learn about evolution and science, imagine what a young child in the inner cities could learn in their life span? You see, for me, the ship has sailed. But my legacy is an altruistic legacy, and that is to teach a young inner city child something about evolution and biology and that child goes on to be a scientist or doctor etc. Then my mission would be well done.
In addition, would you please send me Science and Revolution. And once again thank Ms. Skybreak for changing my life by teaching me so much. When Revolution comes Ms. Skybreak should be in charge of scientific education.
Excerpted letter from prisoner in Indiana, September 14, 2016:
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund...
Greetings Comrade. I am writing to acknowledge that I received the book BAsics by Bob Avakian you sent me and wanted to thank you for such a gift. Having already a copy of the book I knew what a jewel it is. Reading Mr. Avakian's view on some of the most important issues of our time has brought me a lot of insight on the world in which we live. Like all of you I too recognize the inherent contradictions of this capitalist society and the need to organize ourselves to bring about revolutionary change in the nature of our conditions. As a New Afrikan prisoner who has spent the past twenty five years incarcerated, railroaded for the attempted murder of a pig (police officer), I can definitely relate to the message and good work you all are doing out there. It was after reading BAsics that I first reached out to you and started receiving your monthly newspaper "Revolution", which has open my eyes to the large and diverse community of activists out there working to prepare for the day when the people will be ready for a real revolution. Being a conscious minded prisoner activist naturally I was excited and wanted to join all of my comrades in order to do my part. Yet I realize I don't have to wait till I am set free here within the next few years to take action. Why not educate and organize those around me to wake up and realize their conditions and the power we have to effect change.
Force to grow up in prison over the years through serious deep soul searching I've been able to transform my mind-set from petty criminal to one of social consciousness. With this new state of mind came with a desire to challenge the conditions of my confinement. For the past few years I've been at constant odds with the pigs who run this slave camp and the entire administration has nothing but contempt for me....
Year by year we are being stripped of every meaningful program and opportunity which is replaced by superficial ones that while looking good on paper doesn't offer us anything useful in the area of marketable job skills. Though I realize your organization preach no participation in the system at all, the reality is that people in here are so program that it is hard to get them to see the system as illegit. And if you even mention the possibility of doing away with that system they look at you as if you're crazy. We gotta first bring to light the contradictions then demonstrate why it is that those contradictions exist and explain the only way to rid ourselves of them is to do away with our oppressor. So that is why I do the work I do because my mission is to free our minds from the chains that lock them into the slave like conditions that they find themselves. To be effective at this requires not just dedication on my part but the support of the community out there I am a part of, the revolution community. It is with this purpose in mind to hope that we can build a relationship beyond me being just someone on your mailing list. I would like to correspondence with those amongst you who are willing to share and supply information I can use to help educate my fellow prisoners. I also need help in getting out the word on the abuses taking place behind these walls for if I expose them they won't be able to blatantly continue to do it.
Below you will find a list of other books I am interested in as you requested I supply you with. Like with all literature I read there are books and I pass them around so that others can receive the knowledge as well. One more thing before I go. Do you have any back issues of the Revolution with that "Stop Murder & Terror By Police" and the faces of some of those murdered by police? If so I would love a copy of that if you don't mind. Thanks once again for everything and I look forward to hearing from you all soon.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
Updated October 3, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Look at the world. Murder after murder by police of Black and Brown people... widespread rape and hatred of women... unending deportations with immigrant families torn apart... unjust wars and millions of refugees... the destruction of the environment... poverty... ignorance... and so much more. None of these horrors can be ended as long as the system of capitalism-imperialism rules over us because these horrors are rooted in this system.
"Only an actual revolution can bring about the fundamental change that is needed." So begins "HOW WE CAN WIN--How We Can Really Make Revolution," the pathbreaking statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA that lays out the why and the how an actual revolution could really be made in this country.
The 'Get Into the Revolution National Organizing Campaign and Tour 2016-2017' is setting out to organize thousands of people over the next 12 months into the revolution. "Everyone who hungers for a radically different world, free of exploitation and oppression and all the needless suffering caused by this system, needs to work now with a fired determination to make this happen, so we will have a chance to win." NOW IS THE TIME FOR YOU TO GET WITH THE NATIONAL TOUR, AND GET WITH THE REVOLUTION.
The very horrific problems that this system gives rise to here and around the world contain the potential for revolution—because this system can't solve them, and because people like you and millions more can be organized to be part of the force that brings it down when the combination of developments in the conditions and the work of revolutionaries makes that possible.
A revolution is audacious and complex. To lead it you need science—knowing reality as it actually is and how it could be radically transformed. And, you need leadership. We have that leadership in Bob Avakian and the Party he leads, the RCP, USA. In the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP, USA, "Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution," it says that Bob Avakian (BA) "has developed answers to why this system can't be reformed... how revolutionary forces could grow from weak to strong, and actually defeat the enemy...how people could then build a new society on the road to emancipating humanity throughout the world ...and how to wage the struggles of today to reach that goal."
This Tour will bring alive a radically new morality that the Revolution Clubs are living by and fighting for as concentrated in their "Points of Attention." This is a life and fight to be a part of. This is an organization to join now if you want to be part of what could be the most far-reaching change in human history.
This Tour will be made up of people who are known to represent for the line of this Party and lead the Revolution Clubs. They will travel the country—recruiting people from the hardest streets and the most prestigious campuses, getting down with people at community centers and in house meetings, kicking it in basketball courts and dorm rooms, speaking to large crowds in meeting halls and staying up late-night in change-your-life, heart-to-hearts with small groups and individuals. Through all this, recruiting and organizing waves of new people into the Revolution Clubs—and into the vanguard party of the RCP, USA. The point: to build the force that can actually lead a revolution.
If you feel this world is intolerable and long for fundamental change, you need to be part of organizing this Tour. The new pamphlet, "HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution, " which includes "Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution" and the Points of Attention," is the organizing foundation for the Tour and getting ready for revolution. Study them and spread them far and wide—get them out on the campuses and neighborhoods, take them to friends and classmates and family... start pulling people together to get down with the Tour when it comes through your area.
Contact us here at GetIntoTheRevolution@gmail.com to get involved today.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
Updated November 2, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
(Note: This is a shorter version of the original article, that people can duplicate or use to read aloud with people. Download PDF for printing this statement.)
Capitalism is a “mode of production”—the specific way that society is organized to produce and distribute the necessities of life. Billions of people worldwide work collectively to produce these necessities. Yet the means of producing this wealth are privately owned and controlled by a much smaller ruling class, the capitalist-imperialists. These capitalists exploit the billions on the planet who own no such means and must exchange their ability to work for a wage, or search desperately for some other way to survive.
The capitalist-imperialists on top set the terms for all of society, including the hundreds of millions “in the middle” who may own a small business, or work as a professional, a manager, a teacher, etc. And these capitalists compete with each other, in a ruthless, expand-or-go-under struggle to stay on top. On the basis of that ownership and the control over the wealth that comes with it, the capitalist-imperialist class dominates politics, culture, and ideas—and builds up a massive machine of repression and military might to maintain its rule. They use force—they dictate to—those who do not go along with those terms. And they fight with each other over how to rule.
All the forms of oppression today—one people or nationality dominating another, men dominating women, the senseless wars of plunder—benefit these capitalists, either economically or politically. At the same time, attempting to uproot these sources of outrage, abuse and oppression would NOT benefit these capitalists. The social upheaval that would result would disrupt all of society, including production. The resources needed to heal the scars of oppression, or on the other hand, to stop the destruction of the environment, would be vast, and would cut into “profitabililty.” And these oppressive structures actually economically benefit the capitalists in many ways—through forcing oppressed people to work for less, taking advantage of their conditions to “skin them twice” (using discrimination in lending, for instance, to charge extra high mortgage rates to Black people). Because of this, the system keeps them going.
Even more important: the capitalists could not solve these problems even if they wanted to.
Here's why. Capitalism “works” and can only work through the competition of one capitalist, or bloc of capital, against another. Each capitalist must pursue profit and more profit. To do so, they must carry out production ever more efficiently and cheaply, on an ever larger and more technologically advanced scale, and exploit the workers at their command as thoroughly and ruthlessly as possible. If they do not, some other capitalist will seize the opening and drive them under.
This compulsion to expand or go under underlies and has ultimately driven every crime of capitalism. It drives and shapes every change in the way people work and go about their daily lives. But it is blind, and out of the control of society. Today, with the development of capitalism into the worldwide system of imperialism, the shark-like dynamic plays out on a worldwide political scale, in gangster-like wars of one power against another.
The point is this: even if somehow one set of capitalist-imperialists were to be convinced, against all their “bottom-line” interests, to agree to the social upheaval needed to abolish and transform the oppression that mark and dominate this society; and even if these capitalists could be convinced to redirect the necessarily massive resources in an attempt to solve these problems... they would, very immediately, run up against the very way this system works: eat or be eaten. They would be crushed.
This is how the economic and political system we live under works. These are the rules of the game. For these reasons, in order for humanity to breathe freely, nothing short of, and nothing less than, a revolution against capitalism-imperialism—a revolution which defeats and dismantles the institutions of violent repression which capitalism-imperialism deploys for its protection and expansion—is absolutely necessary.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
The main blow of Hurricane Matthew fell on the narrow Tiburon Peninsula that stretches like a finger from Haiti’s southeastern border with the Dominican Republic west into the Caribbean Sea. In Les Cayes, in this area, homes lay in ruins, October 6. (Photo: AP)
Two young girls in Les Cayes, Haiti, wade through a flooded street after the passing of Hurricane Matthew, October 6. Because of the isolation of the whole area and the lack of government infrastructure, reports of death and damage are still coming in, growing dramatically by the day. At this writing, close to 900 people are reliably reported to have died. (Photo: AP)
On October 4, Hurricane Matthew ripped through Haiti with 145 mile-by hour winds and up to 40 inches of rain. The storm hit many areas of the country, including the rural northwest, the densely populated capital of Port-au-Prince and the rice-growing Artibonite Valley. But the main blow fell in the southwest, on the narrow Tiburon Peninsula that stretches like a finger from Haiti’s southeastern border with the Dominican Republic west into the Caribbean Sea. 1.5 million people were in its direct path, and millions more felt punishing rain, flood, and tropical storm-level winds.
Photos of Jérémie, a small city on the western tip, show utter devastation—over 80 percent of its structures were leveled or heavily damaged, and there are reports of major destruction from other cities in the region.
The majority of people on the Peninsula live in rural areas, in small farming villages in the rugged mountains, on coastal farms or in fishing villages, eking out a living day to day, month to month, year to year. In the hilly village of Chantal the mayor said that 86 people died and 20 more were still missing. Reuters News Agency reported: “’A tree fell on the house and flattened it, the entire house fell on us. I couldn’t get out,’ said driver Jean-Pierre Jean-Donald, 27, who had been married for a year. ‘People came to lift the rubble, and then we saw my wife who had died in the same spot,’ Jean-Donald said, his young daughter by his side, crying ‘Mommy!’”
The southwest was already isolated before the storm. Imperialist investment and the political power that serves it are concentrated in and around Port-au-Prince and a few other areas in central and northern Haiti. From the standpoint of Western capital, there was little profit to extract from the small farmers in the south, and therefore little reason to develop roads, communication or other infrastructure there.
With the storm, phone lines, cell service and electricity, already spotty, went down completely. And even worse, the one road (yes, one road) connecting over a million people to the rest of the country became impassable when a single bridge washed out, and many secondary roads were also blocked by fallen trees. People in the rest of the country tried desperately to reach their loved ones by phone and could not, so many set out on foot and cars to cross the dangerous storm-swollen rivers to return home to help.
Because of the isolation of the whole area, the lack of government infrastructure, and the isolation of many mountain villages, reports of death and damage are still coming in, growing dramatically by the day. At this writing, close to 900 people are reliably reported to have died.
But the disaster goes far beyond those deaths. Hundreds of thousands of farmers work very small plots of land, owning at most a few pigs, goats or work animals. Their backbreaking work provided not only for the bare survival of their own families, but also a significant part of the food supply for the rest of Haiti, growing bananas, mangoes, corn, sugar, and cassava, a root vegetable which is a major staple of the Haitian diet.
Tree crops like bananas and coconuts were ripped apart by heavy winds, with crops thrown to the ground to rot—estimates are that 80 percent of tree crops were destroyed. Near the coast, the sea flooded over the fields, not only destroying crops, but poisoning the soil with salt, making it impossible to replant. Work animals and livestock were killed—for Haitian farmers, a goat or a pig is like a “piggy bank” that can be sold when cash is needed for a wedding, a funeral, education or an emergency; now this bare reserve built up over years has been swept away.
And all this is in addition to people’s homes being destroyed. In Chantal, the deputy mayor said “We have nothing left to survive on, all the crops have gone, all fruit trees are down. I don’t have a clue how this is going to be fixed.”
In the mountains it is likely that there have been and will be further destruction caused by mudslides, destroying both crops and villages; this danger is especially great because Haiti’s mountains have been stripped of trees over many decades by peasants compelled by extreme poverty to cut the trees to make charcoal (saleable as fuel). With no tree roots to hold the soil, heavy rains can bring tons of mud sliding off the hills.
All this not only foretells great suffering among the people hit by the storm, but the likelihood of food shortages and price hikes in the rest of Haiti—a country where malnutrition and hunger already stalk millions, including hundreds of thousands of children.
Before Hurricane Matthew, the Haitian people were already facing a situation of extreme poverty and dislocation—especially since the 2010 earthquake, which devastated the country and killed at least 100,000 people.
Haiti has the highest poverty rate in the world. Many suffer from malnutrition. Even before the earthquake hit, 1.9 million people were in need of food assistance and some 60 percent of the population lived on less than $1 a day. Only 50 percent of the people have access to water through a hand pump or a well and 80 percent do not have adequate sanitation available. Only 50 percent of children living in Haiti are able to go to school. (borgenproject.org)
At the time of the 2010 earthquake, speaking of the U.S. role in Haiti, Bill Quigley, legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said: “We have kept the country dependent. We have kept the country militarized. And we kept the country impoverished. We have dumped our excess rice, our excess farm produce and that stuff on the country, thereby undercutting the small farmers who would make up the backbone of the place... We didn’t create the earthquake, but we created some of the circumstances that made the earthquake so devastating....” (Democracy Now!, January 14, 2010)
The government is extremely weak, corrupt and unstable, lurching from crisis to crisis in the wake of decades of U.S.-backed dictatorships, coups and invasions. A human rights leader said the current interim government lacks the “power or legitimacy to control the country.” At least 55,000 people made homeless by the 2010 earthquake were still living in tents when the hurricane hit, and unemployment is close to 70 percent!
There have been recurring outbreaks of cholera, a deadly water-borne illness which was introduced to Haiti by UN occupation troops who dumped their raw sewage into Haiti’s rivers—cholera has killed at least 10,000 Haitians in recent years.
Now the storm poses the immediate threat of the lack of drinkable water and epidemic disease. On the one hand, the sea has flooded in, contaminating fresh water with salt. And on the other hand, rains have flooded sewage systems and latrines, mixing raw sewage infected with cholera and other diseases into the drinking water. Within three days of the storm, at least seven people had died of cholera linked to sewage contaminated water. The Pan American Health Organization said, “Cholera cases are expected to surge after Hurricane Matthews and through the normal rainy season until the start of 2017.”
Through all this, the Haitian people have struggled to aid one another as best they can. There were dramatic pictures of stronger people carrying others on their backs across turbulent rivers. Teams of young people took to the streets with machetes and power saws to clear fallen trees. Those with homes still standing filled up with neighbors and relatives who had lost theirs. In the town of Cavaillon, Bellony Anazon said “My house wasn’t destroyed, so I am receiving people, like it’s a temporary shelter,” but added that she had no food to give people.
In the face of all this, the response of the U.S. and other great powers—who have long feasted on Haiti in various ways, while violently enforcing a distorted and backward economic structure and a series of reactionary and ineffective governments—has been a) slow, b) tokenistic, and c) focused on “security.”
It took two days for the U.S. Ambassador to Haiti to do an exploratory flyover and “observe” that there was a lot of destruction and that helicopters were needed to deliver aid. (Which was obvious from the day of the storm when the only road washed out.) The day after that, the U.S. promised nine transport helicopters to assist in delivering aid to over a million people spread out over a large area, and two days later USAID promised a shipment of blankets and sanitary supplies that it said would provide some help for 100,000 people.
Given the tremendous wealth and technical resources of the U.S. (for instance, the U.S. military has over 2,500 helicopters that could potentially be used for transporting aid, many stationed just 600 miles away in South Florida), the fact that Haiti is its neighbor and the long-time predatory relationship between the U.S. and Haiti, these efforts are puny and paltry—they are like a billionaire tossing crusts of bread to a crowd of starving people, going through the motions of pretending to care.
Not only has aid so far been minimal, but at the same time the U.S. is cold-bloodedly slamming the door on Haitians trying to enter the U.S. Thousands who resettled in Brazil after the earthquake have now been forced to emigrate north because of the economic collapse in Brazil and are waiting on or heading for the Mexican border. With news of the hurricane—and sometimes with news of loved ones who have lost everything and whose very survival is at stake—these migrants are desperate to find jobs and the ability to send some money home.
But not only has the U.S. so far refused to admit these refugees, it is threatening to deport thousands who came to the U.S. after the earthquake. According to the Department of Homeland Security, conditions in Haiti have “improved sufficiently” that Haitians can safely return... while the U.S. State Department issues warnings to American tourists to stay away from Haiti because it is unstable and dangerous!
While the U.S. is said to be “monitoring” the situation and considering halting deportations, Obama is reportedly “defensive” in the face of Donald Trump’s anti-immigration ranting—even though Obama himself has justly been called “The Deporter-in-Chief” because of his record-breaking numbers of deportations of immigrants from Mexico and other countries.
One thing the U.S. does readily have resources for is political and military control. The day after the storm, before announcing any help for the survivors, the U.S.—which has a whole history of occupying Haiti with U.S. troops—declared that it would send several hundred troops to Haiti, with headquarters in Port-au-Prince that would “coordinate” efforts. And it also positioned an aircraft carrier off the coast, although they had received no request from Haiti for such “aid.”
While massive suffering engulfs hundreds of thousands in Haiti, the primary concerns of the U.S. flow, not out of concern for the Haitian people, but to be able to respond to any political instability, including flows of refugees fleeing the area that might result.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Here’s a question for you: Why do some wars—like Syria—get more coverage in the U.S. media than others—like Yemen?
The American press is full of Syria coverage: not a day goes by without another gut-wrenching description of life under siege in what’s left of the city of Aleppo and stern denunciations of the savage crimes carried out by Russian and Syrian government warplanes, such as bombing hospitals and reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble. Pictures of wounded Syrian children go viral, some of their tweets get global media coverage.
Yet there’s another savage war going on 1,300 miles south of Syria that doesn’t get anywhere near the coverage. This one is in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia’s air force is flying U.S.-made planes, being guided by U.S. intelligence, and dropping U.S.-made bombs—on hospitals and reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble. But we don’t hear nearly as much about that one, or see many pictures of wounded or dead Yemeni children.
Call In the Propaganda Cavalry: The New York Times “Interpreter”!
Perhaps this coverage disparity is raising troubling questions about the media’s role, including among New York Times readers, as well as deeper questions about some key props of this system’s legitimacy overall: the notion that America is a force for good in the world in general, and the global champion of humanitarianism in particular.
Time for the propaganda cavalry! Call in the New York Times “Interpreter” (yes, that’s the name of this feature)! According to this venerated pillar of “objective” reporting, why some wars get covered and others don’t is rather vexing, complicated and somewhat mysterious. But thank god the “Interpreter” was able to break down this perplexing phenomenon in its October 2 installment, “Why Some Wars (Like Syria’s) Get More Attention Than Others (Like Yemen’s).”
“A Compelling Story Line”: Syria Is Hell! Yemen, eh, Not So Much
The “Interpreter” identifies a number of factors that explain why Syria is getting a lot of coverage and Yemen not nearly as much. Key overall, a good story lie, excuse me, line: “Conflicts gain sustained American attention only when they provide a compelling story line that appeals to both the public and political actors....”
But why is Syria such a “compelling story line,” while Yemen isn’t, according to the Times? One is the amount of suffering: “Some of the reasons are obvious; the scale of Syria’s war is catastrophic and much worse than Yemen’s.” Later, the “Interpreter” adds, “Yemen’s death toll is lower than Syria’s.”
Say what?! Yes, the Syrian people are suffering through a catastrophic nightmare caused by reactionaries on all sides. But what do you call it when 14 million people—half the country’s population—is suffering malnutrition thanks largely to the war Saudi Arabia started in March 2015? Or when a Red Cross official stated last year—when conditions were not nearly as dire as they are now, “Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years.” Or when a country—Yemen!—is listed as a Level 3 humanitarian crisis—the same level as Syria and Iraq—and may be on the brink of famine?
When humanitarian deliveries of food, medicine and other needed supplies are cut off to the Syrian city of Aleppo, there’s an international hue and cry. But Saudi Arabia is cutting off the delivery of food, medicine and other needed supplies to most of Yemen, including by bombing ports and bridges, with barely a word of international outrage!
What, none of that qualifies as a “catastrophe” in the eyes of the New York Times “Interpreter”?
On August 15, Saudi planes bombed the Doctors Without Borders run Abs Hospital compound in northern Yemen. At least 19 were killed, including three Yemeni members of Doctors Without Borders (also known as MSF). Dozens more were wounded, including three foreign doctors. (Photo: MSF)
As for numbers killed, at last count at least 10,000 Yemeni civilians have been killed or injured in the year and a half since Saudi Arabia started dropping U.S.-made bombs. How many Yemenis have to be dead or wounded for the New York Times to find it a “compelling” news story?
Oh, but there are other criteria that come into play. What’s needed to ensure coverage, the “Interpreter” tells us, is “an emotionally engaging frame of clearly identifiable good guys and bad guys.” Syria “offers a compelling tale of innocent victims and dastardly villains”—including Russia, the Assad regime, and ISIS. But poor Yemen, “There is no obvious good-versus-evil story to tell there: The country is being torn apart by a variety of warring factions on the ground and pummeled from the air by Saudi Arabia, an American ally. There is no camera-ready villain for Americans to root against.”
You’ve got to be fucking kidding! What, Saudi Arabia, a reactionary medieval kingdom where beheadings are routine and whose global record of spreading reaction and terror make the butcher Assad look like a bit player, isn’t a “camera-ready villain”?
We could go on all night about this kingdom’s “camera-ready” crimes, but let’s stick to Yemen for now. One of the wealthiest kingdoms in the world savagely bombs, blockades and destroys one of the poorest countries. On one day, August 13, Saudi bombs hit the home of a school principal in northern Yemen, killing his wife and four of their children. Then, as is standard Saudi operating procedure, a second airstrike killed more of the principal’s relatives while rescuers were trying to free them. At the same time, the Saudis bombed a school, killing 10 children and injuring 28 more. When rescuers brought survivors to a Doctors Without Borders-sponsored hospital, they were asked to leave because the Saudis systematically target hospitals for bombing. What’s not “camera-ready” and “compelling” about that villainy?
Or, how about an even more “camera-ready villain”—America! It piously parades around the world as the arbiter of “human rights,” while providing Saudi Arabia $20 billion worth of weapons since the war began, including internationally banned anti-personnel cluster bombs and possibly white phosphorous weapons that burn right through flesh to the bone, for use against Yemen’s hospitals and children. The “Interpreter” acknowledges (as it must to maintain any credibility) that Saudi airstrikes “are killing civilians and targeting hospitals and aid workers,” but whitewashes the U.S. role with the concluding phrase, “at times with United States support.” At times? Which times haven’t had U.S. support? Saudi Arabia’s air force couldn’t even get off the ground without U.S. technical and other support (a point the New York Times has made in its coverage). Even after these crimes have been exposed the Obama administration decided to send another $1.15 billion in arms to the butchers of Riyadh.
(The New York Times has editorialized against U.S. support for Saudi Arabia: “America Is Complicit in the Carnage in Yemen” (August 17), criticizing U.S. actions in Yemen as “indefensible,” which it ascribes to the need to “mollify” Saudi Arabia “after the nuclear deal with Iran,” i.e., the U.S. is being forced to do so by the Saudis. But the New York Times does not condemn the U.S. for its actions in Yemen, much less its motives and essential character. Compare this to its September 29 excoriation of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Titled “Mr. Putin’s Outlaw State,” it condemns him for violating “common human decency,” engaging in “unconscionable behavior,” “butchering civilians,” and showing “his true colors” by bombing hospitals.)
Read the American Crime series here
And how about this for villainy. The world’s dominant global power, which claims to be completely against reactionary fundamentalist jihadists, secretly backs them, including with TOW missiles, and encourages its allies to do likewise in order to topple the Assad regime in Syria. Why? To defeat Russian moves in the region and weaken Iran, another regional adversary. All this fuels and drags out the reactionary civil war in Syria, contributing mightily to the staggering tolls of 470,000 dead and 11 million driven from their homes. All the while, this power acts like it’s an innocent bystander, and the slaughter is entirely someone else’s fault. This “narrative” is echoed and amplified—overtly and in more nuanced forms—by its so-called “free press.” One example, the New York Times editorial blasting Russia’s intervention in Syria declared that in contrast to Putin: “President Obama has long refused to approve direct military intervention in Syria.” Oh, really? The 5,433 air attacks the U.S. has carried out in Syria since 2014 (a year before Russia intervened militarily) don’t constitute “direct military intervention”? All this while such a power is also directly abetting and facilitating war crimes in Yemen.
How’s that for duplicitous “villainy” on a global scale?
There are moments you think just maybe the “Interpreter” is going to tell a little truth when U.S. interests are mentioned as something that shapes the coverage. Nope. Another deliberate mind-fuck:
As far as Syria goes, the “[Mis] Interpreter” says: “The war is now putting United States’ interests at risk, including the lives of its citizens, giving Americans a direct stake in it. The Islamic State has murdered American hostages and committed terrorist attacks in the West.”
As for Yemen, “although Al Qaeda does operate there, Yemen’s conflict has not had the kind of impact on American and European interests that Syria’s has.... Yemen’s Houthi rebels pose little direct threat that American politicians might rally against.”
So without directly saying so, America’s interests get spun as “direct threats” to the homeland, and protecting American lives.
But what are “American interests” actually, and why is the slaughter in Syria suddenly a “direct threat” to those interests? The U.S. stance toward Syria has never been about potential attacks on the U.S. It’s been about trying to maintain its domination of the region and making sure Russia, Iran, and Assad don’t gain ground—even if that means half a million people die and the conflict and chaos stokes Islamic jihadists who launch attacks in the U.S. This is why the U.S. has been content to let the killing drag on for years. But now when their rival Russia is making gains, the Assad regime may survive and the whole nightmare may strengthen Iran, then it’s “Whoa! We’ve got to cover this and prepare public opinion, if we decide we need to jump more deeply into these bloody waters.”
Meanwhile, the slaughter in Yemen is NOT a direct threat simply because this does NOT threaten, but serves U.S. interests by bolstering its key client-ally Saudi Arabia and prevents any possible gain by Iran.
And where would any “interpretation” of U.S. news coverage be without blaming the audience: “Americans often seem so inward-looking as to be almost provincial,” The “Interpreter” notes, and America’s “inattention” to the world is “the default, not the exception.”
Wow, who knew bullshit could be so serious, multilayered and yes, deep, as in up-to-your-waist deep?
Let’s start with this: Who in the hell trained people in this country to think that only American lives counted? Memo to New York Times and its “Interpreter”: You know the drill—you invented it!: thousands of people die in some catastrophe and the first question is, were any Americans killed? How does this affect America?... Now let’s parrot what some representative of imperialism has to say about America’s role in the world and what it’s nefarious, no-good enemies, who lack any modicum of human decency, are up to.
Just think about how Hurricane Matthew has been covered. There’s been 24-hour, wall-to-wall coverage of its impact on the U.S. before, during and after the hurricane. Meanwhile, the hurricane hit Haiti, which was already suffering far, far more, much harder: hundreds killed and staggering devastation. Yet Haiti received a small fraction of the coverage.
No wonder most Americans couldn’t find Syria or Yemen on a map, and don’t know Yemen from Yakima.
Of course, maybe more people would have known something about Yemen if the United States government and “antiwar” President Barack Obama hadn’t blocked a UN inquiry into Saudi war crimes, which would have generated worldwide publicity. But somehow this tidbit didn’t find its way into the “Interpreter” less-than-compelling storyline.
And let’s be real here: There are readers of the New York Times who probably consider themselves very well-informed, who should know better but have been [mis-]educated and stupefied by the New York Times, and allow themselves to take refuge in the turgid swamp of “complexity”—rather than breaking out in bitter, derisive laughter at wading through the convoluted mix of lies and double-talk modeled in “Why Some Wars (Like Syria’s) Get More Attention Than Others (Like Yemen’s)”—and see clearly and act on their moral responsibility to humanity to oppose America’s enormous crimes around the world.
So, the U.S. rulers and their lapdog media have lied to us about Syria and Yemen. Now they’re lying to us about how they’ve lied to us. But then that makes sense. What does a habitual liar do when caught in a lie? Make up another one.
So it turns out there IS a “camera-ready villain for Americans to root against.” U.S. imperialism and its media accomplices!
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Twenty-seven years ago, Donald Trump was the chief agitator for a “legal” lynch mob calling for the death penalty against innocent Black and Brown youths—the Central Park 5. These five youths—as young as 14 years old—were falsely accused of the horrible rape of a white woman. The police forced the youths to “confess,” through threats, physical violence, torture through sleep and food deprivation, and false promises. They were convicted and given heavy prison terms—and only freed years later when the truth about the railroad could no longer be suppressed.
Donald Trump never recanted his ugly leading role in the persecution of the Central Park 5. And now, as one of the two top candidates for president of the U.S., Trump is once again spewing out the totally exposed lies about the Central Park 5. He recently told CNN: “They admitted they were guilty. The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”
In other words, according to Trump: never mind the truth—whatever the police, prosecutors, and judges say and do in carrying out their “job” is right and should not be questioned. This is right along the lines of the openly racist, fascist program of powerful sections of the ruling class that Trump represents.
The following is from a revcom.us article earlier this year, getting into the unjust railroad of the Central Park 5 and Trump’s role in it.
On April 19, 1989, a white woman jogger was the victim of a vicious assault in Central Park. She was raped and brutalized so severely that she was in a coma for 12 days. It was a sickening crime in a country where a woman is raped every two minutes—about 80 percent of the time by someone the victim knows, often an intimate partner.
But the authorities’ response had nothing to do with stopping any of that. New York City police interrogated Black and Latino youths they had taken into custody that night for other incidents. They threatened them, lied to them, beat them, and deprived them of sleep, food, or contact with their parents or lawyers. Eventually several of the youths—as young as 14, traumatized, and just wanting to be able to go home to their parents—“confessed.” These youths quickly renounced those coerced confessions. In spite of that, in spite of the lack of physical evidence of their involvement in this crime, and in spite of the fact that substantial physical evidence pointed to someone else, five of them were quickly convicted, sentenced, and jailed. They became known as the Central Park 5.
In 2002, another man, a convicted serial rapist linked to the crime by substantial DNA evidence, confessed to being the sole attacker. After years of protest and struggle, and as the evidence used to convict them was exposed as lies concocted by the authorities, the New York District Attorney cleared the Central Park 5 of all charges. By that time, they had served their unjust sentences—40 years in all.
Two weeks after the attack, before any of the young men had even been tried, Donald Trump ran full-page ads in New York City newspapers headlined “Bring Back the Death Penalty. Bring Back Our Police.” (New York State did not and does not have a death penalty.) The ads set off an explosion of racist frenzy throughout society, with toxic lies portraying youths of color as “roving bands of wild criminals [who] roam our neighborhoods dispensing their own vicious brand of twisted hatred on whomever they encounter.” [emphasis in the original]
This ad was a modern-day version of those that appeared in newspapers in the days of the old Jim Crow. Ads that would portray a Black man who somehow offended white supremacy, or did nothing at all, as a demon, and announce the time and place where he was to be lynched.
Donald Trump was a lynch mob master then. And he still is. Only now he has been put on the biggest stage to incite real “twisted hatred” on a global and not a neighborhood scale: against viciously exploited and hunted Mexican immigrants; against demonized and terrorized Muslims; against women; and to threaten “worse than water boarding” against children of those whom this Nazi “suspects” might be “terrorists.” And, oh, yes, this is the fascist who brags about the way that Black protesters at his rallies are harassed and beaten by those he whips up... and who somehow takes nearly a week to “disavow” the endorsement of a leader of the KKK.
We know what that shit says about Donald Chump. But what does it say about a system that tells you that Donald Trump, a modern-day lynch mob-inciting, foaming-at-the-mouth white supremacist fiend, is a legitimate candidate for president? And what does it say about a system’s media that first builds him up and then, even when they “criticize” him, can’t quite bring themselves to say the main truth: that this ghoul is nothing but a white supremacist demagogue?
It says it’s a racist system and it needs to be gone.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
1) Donald Trump in all his dimensions (the racism, the hatred of immigrants, pig-at-the-trough ethos, mendacity, general glorying in ignorance and utter disregard for the truth, etc.) is a perfect embodiment of American capitalism. The tapes that have been released and which he admitted making—tapes which are putrid expressions of American rape culture and which openly brag about habitual sexual assault—are right in line with that. But this is not new. This is part of a package, no matter how much all these Republicans who are now trying to scrub the filth off them would like to pretend otherwise.
2) Trump was brought forward by, legitimized and finally made one of the two major candidates by the rulers of this SYSTEM. The phenomenon of Trump is part of an overall effort to give legitimacy to the openly racist, fascist, patriarchal ranting. In looking at the debate of October 9, Trump—from his threats to imprison Clinton to his thuggish body language—has now apparently decided to double-down on this.
3) Clinton herself is a longtime representative of this criminal system. She has been in on every crime of the last 25 years carried out by these imperialists, and masterminded some of them—from mass incarceration and the militarization of the police to the wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa that have taken the lives of millions and driven tens of millions from their homes and often from their homelands. To call this an alternative would be a joke if it were not so destructive to any hope for a better future.
4) That these are the “choices” before the people shows that this system is UTTERLY BANKRUPT and ILLEGITIMATE, that there is nothing in this for the masses of people either worldwide or within this country, and that we need to overthrow this at the soonest possible time, not vote for it.
5) The fact that this election has now developed into such a vicious and polarized fight carries great challenges—including greatly heightened repression against the masses of people and the revolutionary forces. But this heightening clash also carries the real possibility of open conflict between different forces in the ruling class. Such conflict can be a necessary part of developing towards a revolutionary situation—a time when people in their tens of millions are jolted into political life and in which, if the movement for revolution has built its influence and organization during times like now, the real possibility of an actual struggle of millions for power can come on the agenda. At such a time—and leading up to that time—it is critical that we not fall in behind one side or another of the oppressive rulers, but take advantage of this situation to build up the forces of revolution.
Get with this Party. Be part of the Organizing Tour this Party is now launching to recruit thousands now into this revolution, to prepare for the time when millions can be led, all-out, with a real chance to win.
AMERICA WAS NEVER GREAT! OVERTHROW, DON’T VOTE FOR, THIS SYSTEM!
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Joey Johnson with the support of the Revolution Club burned the American flag outside the Republican National Convention to protest the toxic chauvinism and reactionary ideas of all stripes surrounding Trump's nomination. Photo: Special to revcom.us
The battle to free the RNC 16 is on–in the streets, in the battle for public opinion, and in the courts. On September 15, attorneys filed motions charging that the arrests were “content-based policing” that “is unconstitutional and utterly unacceptable.” They said, “Flag burning is protected free speech activity.” And that “the City of Cleveland chose to stop these individuals from burning the flag, in violation of their constitutional rights, when Chief of Police Calvin Williams and several other officers pushed into the circle of protesters gathered around the flag to ensure the safety of all present.”
Jacqueline Greene, Co-Coordinator of the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and partner at the law firm of Friedman & Gilbert, as well as one of the lawyers who filed motions to dismiss, said the City of Cleveland had chosen “to prosecute these cases in an attempt to cover up the unconstitutional actions of the police.”
Joey Johnson has announced that the RNC 16 “will be filing a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, the FBI, the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams, and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Tim McGinty for false arrest, for assault pursuant to a false arrest, and malicious prosecution of the RNC 16. We are putting them on trial for violating their own laws, undermining Texas v. Johnson, in order to politically suppress and repress the RNC 16 because of our righteous message, and thereby having a ‘chilling effect’ on people’s freedom to express themselves by burning the flag.”
Stay tuned to revcom.us for developments.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Bob Avakian recently wrote that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")
In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.
Spaniards killing women and children and feeding their remains to dogs. Illustration based on eyewitness account by Bartolomé de las Casas, in his book published in the 16th century.
THE CRIME: On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus, an Italian sailing for Spain, landed on what is now the Bermuda Islands. Columbus is celebrated in the U.S. as the person who first “discovered” the “New World,” making it possible for those who came after him, through hard work, to create the greatest global power in the world today, as the official declaration of “Columbus Day” as a national holiday would have you believe.
Columbus did not “discover” the Americas—they had been inhabited by many different indigenous peoples for some 13,000 years. But he did bring conquest and enslavement, and launched one of the most massive, horrific genocides in human history.
Columbus was searching for a shorter route to the East Indies (South and Southeast Asia), in pursuit of gold and new peoples to exploit and convert to Christianity, and initially thought that's what he'd found. He and his crew were first met by the indigenous Arawaks, who swam out to welcome them. At the time, it’s estimated that roughly 250,000 Arawaks inhabited the nearby island Columbus named “Hispaniola”—today's Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. The Arawaks lived in communal, agricultural villages, without horses, iron implements—or prisons or prisoners. Columbus wrote they “are so naïve and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone....”
But Columbus was making his own calculations from the moment he encountered them: “They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them.... They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”
He immediately took several Arawaks captive, demanding they lead him to the source of the gold on the tiny ornaments they wore. Discovering gold was the reason the Spanish king and queen had backed his voyage. In return, Columbus was to receive 10 percent of all the wealth he brought back, and be appointed governor over the colonized territories. Columbus soon sailed to Cuba and then to nearby Hispaniola where, “bits of visible gold in the rivers, and a gold mask presented to Columbus by a local Indian chief, led to wild visions of gold fields,” Howard Zinn wrote in A People’s History of the United States.
On Hispaniola, the Spanish built a fort (the 39 sailors left to find gold were later killed by the Arawaks). Meanwhile, Columbus took 15 captured Arawak Indians back to Spain. He presented them to the king and queen as evidence, along with exaggerated claims of massive gold mines, that he should be given backing to return with more vessels and troops. Columbus promised he would bring back “as much gold as they need... and as many slaves as they ask.”
Based on these promises, in 1493 Columbus went back to the Caribbean islands with 17 ships and over 1,200 men. From his base on Hispaniola, Columbus sent out expeditions from island to island, capturing Indians and searching for gold fields. Finding none, and needing to fill their ships for the return voyage, in 1495 Columbus sent an expedition that, as Zinn writes, “went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships.” Two hundred died crossing the ocean; those who survived were sold in Spain to be used by artisans and as domestics.
But with too many slaves dying in captivity, and having to make good on his promise of gold to the Crown and the Church, in Haiti all persons 14 years or older were forced to work in gold mines until exhausted. It’s estimated that within eight months, nearly a third died. Each had to collect at least a thimble of gold dust every three months. This was a nearly impossible task: the only gold to be found were bits visible in some rivers. As many as 10,000 had their hands cut off and tied around their necks while they bled to death for failing to meet their quota. Others fled and were hunted down with dogs and killed.
Once the Spaniards figured out there were no gold fields, they forced the indigenous people into slave labor on huge feudal agricultural estates called encomiendas, where they were worked to death.
The Arawaks tried to organize resistance, but were no match for the Spanish armaments. Those captured were hanged or burned to death, triggering the start of mass suicides among the Arawaks, including babies deliberately poisoned by their mothers rather than see them tortured. In two years, half of the 250,000 indigenous people in Haiti were dead. By 1515, only 50,000 Arawaks remained; by 1550, there were 500. And this was just the beginning of the massive genocide of native peoples in the Americas by European powers and their colonial settlers, set in motion by Christopher Columbus and his “discovery.”
The atrocities committed by the Spaniards were so gruesome they’re hard to imagine. Bartolomé de las Casas, a former slave owner who became bishop of Chiapas, described some of what he witnessed in his book History of the Indies. The Spanish “thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices of them to test the sharpness of their blades.... Two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys.” Las Casa concluded: “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel. My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”
Christopher Columbus: Columbus made four voyages to the West Indies, and he was the first to engage in savagery, slavery, and to commit genocide in the New World. Among his many crimes, Columbus supervised the selling of native girls—the ages nine and 10 were most desired by his men—into sexual slavery. He forced the native peoples to work in the gold mines until they died of exhaustion, killing anyone who resisted. Catholic law forbade enslaving Christians; so Columbus refused to baptize the people of Hispaniola. If the Spaniards ran short of meat for their dogs, Arawak babies were killed for dog food.
On his third voyage in 1498, Columbus landed on the island of Trinidad and explored the area off the north coast of South America, before returning to the Spanish colony in Hispaniola. Columbus’s reputation, and that of his two brothers, was so horrific that they were arrested by the governor and shipped back to Spain in chains in 1500. But because of his great assistance to the Crown, Columbus was pardoned by the King and Queen of Spain and let go.
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain: By continually financing the crimes of Columbus, they enabled the brutality, exploitation, and enslavement to expand continually. For them this was a profitable investment, but not only that. It served the goals of the Catholic Church, which were to expand the conversion of souls to Christianity—in opposition to Islam—around the world.
Pope Alexander VI and the Catholic Church: In 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued a Papal Bull (or decree)—Inter caetera—which declared the full backing of the Catholic Church to Columbus and the Spanish king and queen and all they were doing in the New World. Inter caetera granted official ownership of the New World—“dominion”—to Ferdinand and Isabella. It instructed them to “civilize” every “savage” they encountered. In 1515, an ultimatum was issued by the Spanish conquerors to all indigenous people they encountered in the New World to accept “the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world” or else:
We shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command, and we shall take away your goods, and shall do all the mischief and damage that we can.
The Spanish expeditions to the “New World” were justified by Spain’s rulers and the Catholic Church as expressions of the “will of god”—to convert “savages” to Christianity. As Columbus described it: “Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities.”
The Actual Motive:
The goal of the expeditions to the Americas was to find new sources of wealth, especially gold, and people who could be enslaved to produce products for an emerging market. In competition with the Ottoman Turks, who had blocked access to Asia, the Catholic Church and the European powers under their influence were searching for access to new markets, and new sources of gold and other wealth. Columbus offered the promise that there was a way to those riches by crossing the ocean to the west. Finding a continent of people not yet discovered by other rival powers, who could be conquered, dominated, exploited, and converted to Christianity, was the answer to a prayer.
The Spanish empire eventually expanded across the Caribbean Islands, half of South America, most of Central America, and much of Mexico and North America. Meanwhile, in 1501-1502, a Portuguese colonizing expedition sailed along the coast of South America, including the bay of present-day Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From these origins and foundations, and later British and French colonization, what would become the United States of America arose, developed, and carried forward what was begun by Columbus. The genocide of Native Americans began before and continued after the official founding of this country. So did the enslavement and murder of millions and millions of African people, who were first brought to Virginia in 1619, and on whose backs the wealth of this country, and many other parts of the world, was built.
Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, Harper & Row, 1980 (first edition)
Bartolomé de las Casas, History of the Indies, written 1527-1561, published by Harper & Row, 1971
Eric Kasem, “Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery,” Huffington Post, October 15, 2015
Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Vintage Books, 2006
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 4, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
It’s another video of murder by police that is obscene, outrageous, and infuriating. Watch it.
On July 11, the Sacramento, California pigs murdered Joseph Mann like they were hunting for sport. Or like they were playing a fucking video game. A newly released dashcam video of the murder begins with a pig yelling, “Fuck this guy” while police roll up on Joseph Mann, terrorizing him with their cars and sirens. “I’m going to hit him,” one of them yells. “OK! Go for it! Go for it!” yells another of these homicidal pigs as their car bears down on a mentally ill Black man. And when they didn’t hit Joseph Mann with their car, the police chased him down and blasted away at him 18 times—hitting him 14 times.
If this isn’t premeditated MURDER what is?
Joseph Mann was a homeless Black man in need of mental health care in a capitalist-imperialist system that has no place for him, and millions more—human beings whom this system would just as soon see dead.
You’ve read it at this website before, but the following gets more urgent every day:
What do we do?
It is very important that people rise up and refuse to accept the continual murder of people, particularly Black people as well as Latinos, by police—this, and the other outrages and atrocities continually perpetrated by this system ... cannot go down without people fighting back and rocking back the powers-that-be. But this must be built toward revolution—an actual revolution that overthrows this system at the soonest possible time—because there is no solution to these outrages under this system, and as long as we live under this system, this will go on...and on .There is a way that we can make a real revolution—and bring into being a radically different and better society: we have the strategy, program, and leadership for this revolution, in the work of BA and the Party he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party...
—from “A Basic Point of Orientation”
Come to the website www.revcom.us and find out “HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution” and what we need to do now. Find out more and get organized into this revolution.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Insight Press, the publisher of Bob Avakian’s THE NEW COMMUNISM, has put out a list of 5 things everyone can do to spread this historic new work EVERYWHERE in society and change the way that millions think about the possibility of a real revolution to emancipate humanity. What happens at the book launch events for THE NEW COMMUNISM needs to be spread wave after wave.
At the October 8th launch/simulcast events in New York and other cities people will be getting organized to do this. There will be special tables with materials where you can volunteer to:
Already we have gotten reports (and we need more at revcom.us and Insight Press) of people taking rack cards and palm cards for the book to bookstores in campus areas, for example, and having the bookstore manager order the book on the spot. This needs to be multiplied and spread into many areas of society.
If the book becomes available, and prominently displayed, in hundreds of bookstores and other shops where books are sold or people congregate...
If it is in libraries in a wide variety of neighborhoods...
If it could be found on campuses, in areas of political and intellectual ferment, in neighborhoods where Black and Brown people and immigrants live..
Then many thousands will come in contact with and engage BA and THE NEW COMMUNISM for the first time. And that will be a really big deal.
Take up these 5 Things... and let Insight Press and revcom.us know what you are doing and learning.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
From a reader:
There’s more than one story to tell about Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and “whistleblower” who exposed to the world the U.S.’s thorough and systematic spying—on “friend,” foe and, well, everybody—and the use of much of this spying to carry out war crimes and crimes against humanity, including mass murder from drone strikes and helicopter gunships. What he brought to light was released in the news (the Guardian and elsewhere) and at least one documentary movie.
Oliver Stone’s new movie, Snowden, focuses on the story of the patriotic young man who is accepted by the CIA and then the NSA and plays a big part in developing the electronic surveillance capabilities of these institutions. It depicts what happens to him as he discovers the unbridled extent to which the U.S. spies on and gathers information on anyone and everyone, around the world and in the U.S., violating privacy and making free and critical thought in private conversation a dangerous activity—and the use of this spying and massive database archive against people at the whim of those with this power. And blatantly lying about it. All this by the country that, as Edward Snowden sees it, is supposed to be the champion of freedom and democracy.
When he confronts the choice of whether to compromise his sentiments and principles, he chooses not only to refuse to be part of the massive spying but to reveal this to the world. He chooses this knowing the great risk to himself and those around him. It’s a story of holding to principle, not compromising his humanity, believing that this matters (and in fact it does!). It’s a story of following his convictions where they took him, not turning away for a more “comfortable” choice. Stone’s movie is not a documentary—it is Stone telling the story, with actors. But Snowden did have some involvement in its making.
Watching this movie also got me thinking about how this system really is not “all powerful.” This country poses as the “good guys” in the world, the great defenders of “freedom and democracy,” and claims that what’s good for them is good for humanity. But the brutal reality underneath that is that the capitalist-imperialist interests of this country—how this system functions, what it needs, what it depends on—are profoundly opposed to the actual interests of most of humanity, the seven billion. Think about it, this system depends on people to carry out its interests, people like Snowden. And his revelations opened a big gash in the system’s legitimacy that’s still open, in this country and internationally. No one was supposed to find out about this! And we don’t know how big the impact could be.
Snowden is now a major motion picture. It is very well done. The movie is also a challenge. Snowden sets a standard for what you should do with what you come to know, how you should view your life. The cost to him has been real, and he upholds what he’s done. For humanity, this matters.
With a deep appreciation for what Snowden has done, I would urge him and everyone to investigate even further. The crimes Snowden revealed are not, in fact, contrary to what America is about. This country that was founded on genocide and slavery, this system that is based on brutal exploitation and devastation of humanity around the world, this is a system that actually depends on the kinds of crimes Snowden discovered and revealed. And this point makes me think of something Bob Avakian said a while back:
By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Let’s go on a crucial journey together—full of unity against oppression and lively struggle about the source of the problem and the solution. Pursue your own convictions—that the outrages that move you are intolerable—to their logical conclusion, and be determined not to stop until those outrages have been eliminated. And if this, as well as learning about other outrages, and ideas about how this all fits together and flows from a common source—and how it could all be ended, and something much better brought into being—leads in the direction of seeing not only the need for bold and determined resistance, but also the need for revolution and ultimately communism, then don’t turn away from that because it moves you beyond your comfort zone, challenges what had been your cherished beliefs, or because of prejudices and slanders. Instead, actively seek to learn more about this revolution and its goal of communism and to determine whether it is in fact the necessary, and possible, solution. And then act accordingly.
This and much more is findable at revcom.us, including in Bob Avakian’s new book THE NEW COMMUNISM.
Oliver Stone’s Snowden is definitely a movie worth seeing.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
From A World to Win News Service:
Refugee camp for Syrians in Cappadocia, Turkey, 2014. (Photo: Fabio Sola Penna)
About 3,500 people, mostly Afghan, have been living for months in the Elliniko camp in Athens, Greece, consisting of an old airport terminal and two Olympic stadiums which are no longer in use. (Photo: Pierre-Yves Bernard / Médecins sans Frontières)
An unauthorized camp for refugees trying to get to Britain has sprung up in Calais, France. It is called the "Jungle" by the authorities, who provide no services and frequently raid the camp and destroy dwellings. (Photo: Malachy Browne/Flickr)
October 10, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
October 3, 2016. A World to Win News Service. The U.S., UK and France have turned the horrible attacks on civilians in eastern Aleppo into an occasion to score a propaganda victory against their Russian rivals and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime. The bombings of civilians certainly is a war crime, as they claim, and even if this area is a stronghold of Islamic fundamentalist fighters, as Russia claims, such atrocities reveal that both sides are atrocious murderers. But for all the West’s talk about the children of Aleppo—with pictures of wounded and dismayed little children that should break anyone’s heart—what happens when these same children or others like them, in Syria or other countries where the suffering of children has reached massive proportions, try to flee to safety?
Does the West show concern for their treatment in abysmal refugee camps in Turkey and Greece, where refugees feel they are deliberately being made to suffer as punishment for leaving Syria, and to dissuade others from joining them?
Why do the NATO powers refuse to use their naval resources to conduct search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean? Why have they abandoned such operations, with the exception of the Italian Coast Guard, and a Greek Coast Guard that has been stripped of its efficacy by EU (European Union)-imposed cutbacks, so that lives depend on the efforts of fishermen and NGO volunteers?
What about the estimated one thousand unaccompanied children—children who have lost or become separated from their parents—trying to stay alive in Calais, France, in a camp the world’s barbarian authorities like to call “the jungle,” even though its inhabitants help each other out remarkably given the circumstances? So far the French authorities have refused to help even these children, let alone all the children and adults who desperately need it, in a flagrant violation of French and international law. The British government has washed its hands of their fate, even though many of these children have family in the UK and are therefore legally entitled to asylum there. For the U.S., it’s Europe’s problem.
Is the West’s fake “concern” for children anything but another weapon to be wielded in its clash with rival reactionaries?
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
Watch the Launch of THE NEW COMMUNISM from Bob Avakian
Featuring: Cornel West/Carl Dix, Moderated by: Andy Zee
ORDER THE NEW COMMUNISM HERE.
Sunsara Taylor and Noche Diaz read excerpts from THE NEW COMMUNISM at the book launch in Harlem, October 8.
Carl Dix gave a passionate talk on the new book and Bob Avakian himself. He gave the audience a sense of BA’s work over the decades—the content of that work (as concentrated in THE NEW COMMUNISM), and what motivated him to do that work.
Cornel West, coming from his point of view as a revolutionary Christian, spoke on the integrity and importance of BA’s leadership and its relation to the whole “profound commitment [of Black people] to trying to understand this capitalist civilization in profound decay and pervasive decline.”
Annie Day spoke on the work of The Bob Avakian Institute.
(From left) Carl Dix and Cornel West focused particularly on questions of morality and leadership, including getting into the Cultural Revolution within the RCP. Andy Zee (right) moderated.
Andy Zee closed with a challenge to the audience that "The roadmap, the science, the framework, for how to know and change the world and the contradictions that humanity will have to traverse to get free and how to traverse them—are now in your hands if you dig into this book. And get into BA and get with the party and the movement for revolution he leads. Will you be there?"
Over 260 people came to the book launch in Harlem, October 8.
October 13, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On October 8, Bob Avakian’s pathbreaking new book THE NEW COMMUNISM was launched into the world. Over 260 people came out to the historic center for Black culture in Harlem, the Schomburg Library, to hear Cornel West, Carl Dix and Andy Zee, along with others, welcome this book into the world. By the end of the event, very few people had left; and those who remained had gotten into something very special and, for many, very new.
People sat rapt as Sunsara Taylor and Noche Diaz read excerpts from the new work. The readings—which can be seen with the entirety of the program on the Livestream presentation—covered different parts of the book, bringing out both the scope and the scientific breakthrough of BA’s work and leadership, as well as his humanity, his integrity, his sense of humor, and his feeling for the people.
Carl Dix gave a passionate talk on the new book and Bob Avakian himself. He gave the audience a sense of BA’s work over the decades—the content of that work (as concentrated in THE NEW COMMUNISM), and what motivated him to do that work. He spoke movingly of the connection between BA and the masses, especially those on the bottom of society, and he went into the courageous character of his leadership. He traced the outlines of how the new synthesis came out of a decades-long interrogation of reality. “The core of the scientific understanding of how to make revolution and emancipate humanity developed by Marx, Lenin, and Mao is continued in what BA has developed, but he has identified and broken with some secondary but significant unscientific aspects that had been in communism as it had previously been understood, and that were holding it back,” Dix said. “As our Party has said, to be a communist today means to be a follower of BA. This is a very big deal—the science of human emancipation has been rescued and advanced to a new level—and we should appreciate what a big deal that is.” Dix went deeply into the work that BA has done on leadership, and the way in which that leadership is both absolutely necessary and bound up with contradictions—the subject of Part IV of THE NEW COMMUNISM. He gave this a personal dimension as well, as he went into BA’s launching of the Cultural Revolution within the RCP to rupture it back onto the revolutionary road.
Cornel West, coming from his point of view as a revolutionary Christian, spoke on the integrity and importance of BA’s leadership and its relation to the whole “profound commitment [of Black people] to trying to understand this capitalist civilization in profound decay and pervasive decline.”
West went on: “What I love about this particular text is three things. One, there is a revolutionary integrity. And we live in a capitalist civilization across race, across class, across sexual orientation, across national boundaries, in which everything is for sale and everybody is for sale...” He spoke of the revolutionary internationalism that grounds the whole work. And he concluded on the “5 Stops”:
And in his analysis—and then I’ll sit down—five different stops that he has. I love this section of this text. I love it when he talks about my people being all people. I learned that in Sunday school, he learned it in the communist party, but that’s alright. My people across the board—I don’t care who they are. But the five stops—he always puts the struggle against white supremacy at the center. That’s not true for most American leftists, it’s certainly even not true for most American socialists. Second, the centrality of the issue of gender, the vicious forms of patriarchy inseparable from that white supremacy. Third, empire—invasions, dominations... And the fourth, the planet—not just global warming. It’s ecological catastrophe that is impinging every day primarily owing to corporate greed and the elites who are in the driver’s seat of a capitalist civilization that cuts across national boundaries—that’s what you find in this text. And last but not least, the concern about our precious immigrant brothers and sisters and the vicious scapegoating that’s going on, the deportations under neo-liberal presidents, no matter what color they are. The attempt to [not] lose sight of their humanity. How do you bring these together in such a way that you have a united front? And that’s in part what he’s calling for, and I as a revolutionary Christian in the name of Jesus will be part of that united front, even given the disagreements that we might have. That’s why I like this text. That’s why it’s important.
Annie Day spoke on the work of The Bob Avakian Institute, which is dedicated to preserving, projecting, and promoting the works and vision of Bob Avakian, with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience. She set forth a vision of a very dynamic period coming off the publication of THE NEW COMMUNISM, and she gave the audience “three assignments” coming out of this program: to donate funds to get the word of THE NEW COMMUNISM way out into society, including in a program to subsidize those who live lives on the desperate edge; to bring speakers from The Bob Avakian Institute to schools, religious groups, community organizations, book clubs, unions, etc.; and to themselves get into this work, including by coming to discussions of the work.
This was followed by a deeply joined conversation between Carl and Cornel, which was moderated by Andy Zee of Revolution Books in Harlem (which, along with The Bob Avakian Institute and Insight Press, co-sponsored the celebration). They focused in particular on morality and leadership—including getting into BA’s discussion in the book of the Cultural Revolution within the RCP that Avakian leads.
Andy Zee sent the audience home. He said:
We began this afternoon with a question and answer that was posed by Bob Avakian in the introduction to THE NEW COMMUNISM. This was a question that was raised to the revolutionaries in Baltimore in the wake of the righteous rising after the police murder of Freddie Grey. People asked revolutionaries, “Will you be here? We’ve seen a lot of groups come and go and a lot of talk, but will you be here?” And he told of a woman from the same streets, who said, “I’m worried because I’m beginning to hope.” BA answered that: If we don’t answer this with the determination to follow through and the responsibility to be there, not only for that one woman and certainly not for ourselves alone, but for the emancipation of humanity—then “we should get up and leave.” But you all are still here, late on this Saturday afternoon. And so are we.
This is a bigger responsibility than one afternoon, even as this afternoon should be a first step into becoming an emancipator of humanity—or your first step in learning why the world is the horror that it is, learning to be scientific, learning to confront reality as it actually is, learning to go for the truth, to be able to cut to the root of why there is so much suffering in this world and why it is at this point in the history that all these outrages the world faces are so damn unnecessary.
Digging into the why and the how the world could be radically transformed through an actual revolution so that all of humanity can live and flourish in a world where people are no longer divided into rich and poor, masters and slaves, rulers and ruled. No longer fighting and slaughtering each other, but working together for the common good. No longer locked in ignorance, but consciously understanding and changing the world. And no longer destroying the earth but acting as its caretakers.
This is possible. The roadmap, the science, the framework, for how to know and change the world and the contradictions that humanity will have to traverse to get free and how to traverse them—are now in your hands if you dig into this book. And get into BA and get with the party and the movement for revolution he leads. Will you be there? [Someone from the audience shouts: Yeah!]
The program was followed by an extremely lively session out in the lobby, with people going back and forth over the questions and issues raised by the program, many getting connected with organizations that are key to the movement for revolution. Eighty copies of the book were sold and many more people left determined to get one. Then, though the event had run for more than three hours, somewhere between 70 and 100 people wanted to discuss things still more, and gathered for an impromptu question/answer with Carl, Cornel and Andy at Revolution Books, which ran to 6:30 p.m. (and then itself was followed by even more wrangling).
What came through in all of this was the potential power of BA’s new synthesis of communism to transform people, and through revolution, the world. As Ardea Skybreak says in her book-length Interview Science and Revolution, discussing the difference that this vision can begin to make as it gets out into all of society, engaged and taken up: “We’ve seen it before, we’ve seen it in previous periods of revolutionary upsurge. The people get better. The people get smarter. The people get more lofty. They dream bigger, and they act in accordance with these bigger dreams. It’s a beautiful sight. And that’s a lot of what BA is actually giving us the tools to accomplish.”
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
Updated October 20, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Revcom.us and REVOLUTION newspaper call on everyone to support and be part of the annual October 22 protests against police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation. In the face of an intolerable situation in which lying murdering pigs continuing to go free... in which millions continue to be packed off into hellish prisons and then destined for lives as pariahs and outcasts, and with this way disproportionately devastating the Black, Latino, Native American and other oppressed communities... and in which increasing repression in all aspects of life has been intensified by the Obama regime, with both Trump AND Clinton promising worse... this resistance must be strengthened and it must be increasingly linked to and built as part of preparing for an actual revolution at the soonest possible time. This system cannot do without this cancerous repression; the revolution will cut it out and end it on Day One of the New Socialist Republic in North America.
Place: Water Tower Park, Michigan and Chicago (820 North Michigan Avenue)
Day: Saturday, October 22
Call from Gloria Pinex—Mother of Darius Pinex, Murdered by Chicago Police, January 2011
Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired of:
Murder by Police,
Strung Out On Drugs.
Trumped (on), Stomped (on), Framed,
Seeing Our Babies Dying to This System,
No More Telling Us Who to Vote For
For the last 5 years I have struggled with my son’s death by police. Darius was murdered by the CPD. I have had a long fight for justice for me and my family. As I fought I learned no police officer will face any time in jail because they are protected by this system.
The reason I am standing up and calling on you to join me is because this has to stop! There are far more innocent people being murdered out here on these streets and around the country by—cops. The system has no future for us. We need a change. 1134 people were killed by police last year alone.
BE THERE! OCTOBER 22nd, 1PM: WATER TOWER PARK, 820 NORTH MICHIGAN
Enough is Enough!
They killing us every day.
So I ask you, “Which side are you on?”
After granting a permit for the march on Michigan Avenue, the city is trying to maneuver to go back on it. Indications are that they will try to restrict the march to the sidewalks. It is very important that people come out on Saturday, October 22, 1 p.m. at Water Tower Park (820 N. Michigan Ave.) and take to the streets as part of building the kind of resistance needed to stop the way police get away with wantonly murdering Black people in Chicago and across the country. October 22 follows 2 days after the second anniversary of the murder of Laquan McDonald and in the wake of Rahm Emmanuel's plan to hire 1,000 more police to occupy and terrorize oppressed communities. While murdering cops and all those who cover up for them walk free, people are being prosecuted with felonies for protesting police murder and now the city is trying to keep people from being able to march in the streets. ENOUGH! COME OUT FOR O22—MAKE IT UNMISTAKEABLE THAT YOU ARE STANDING UP AGAINST POLICE TERROR.
* * * *
Assemble at noon in front of the Harlem State Office Building at 163 W. 125th St. on the corner of Adam Clayton Powell for a rally and march, followed by a Stolen Lives Induction Ceremony. Check Facebook events page for more info and updates.
* * * *
11:30 a.m.: Meet at Fruitvale (BART) Station Plaza (on the International Blvd. side), for car caravan thru East Oakland, and then at 3:30 p.m. go to Rally for the 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party, at 3:30 at Oscar Grant (City Hall) Plaza, at 14th and Broadway, downtown Oakland
* * * *
Gather at 11am at the corner of 107th and Western Avenue for a Car Caravan thru the streets of South Central as part of the 21st Annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation!
The Revolution Club, Los Angeles is taking up the Call from Carl Dix to Build the Fight to Stop Police Terror as part of Organizing for an Actual Revolution! On October 22nd: Stop Police Terror! Which Side Are You On?
Contact the Revolution Club, L.A. 323/331-1769; email@example.com; or follow us on social media @revclub_la
* * * *
For an updated list of October 22 actions for 2016 in cities across the country, go here.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
We received the following press release:
Press Alert/Photo Op
What: Press Conference REVCOMS BRING NATIONAL ORGANIZING TOUR TO CHICAGO
Where: Cook County (Leighton) Criminal Courthouse (on the steps)
2650 S. California, Chicago
When: Tuesday, Oct 18, 9 am
Speaking: Carl Dix*
The Revolution Club—also known as the Revcoms—are bringing their National Organizing Tour to Chicago. The theme of the tour is “Don't Normalize Fascism! Overthrow, Don't 'Heal,' This System!”
“Chicago is famous for two things.” said Carl Dix, one of the spokespersons for the Tour: “the police murdering our youth and then covering it up, and the way in which the system has turned these youth against each other. We’re going to organize them to turn their anger against this system, and not each other, and to fight to overthrow it.”
“We’ll be going to the campuses, too, where the students are questioning. Our message to everyone: neither of the presidential candidates will bring anything but worse misery and oppression. We need to get organized, NOW, for an actual revolution.”
The Revcoms were recently in the news in Chicago after Milwaukee police chief accused them of leading the recent rebellion against police murder in Milwaukee this summer. When asked about this, Dix said “Innocent as charged.”
*Carl Dix is a courageous freedom fighter from the 1960s who went on to become a revolutionary fighter and a communist. Dix spent two years in military prison for refusing to fight in the unjust Vietnam War. He emerged unrepentant and went on to become a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), USA, dedicating his life to the emancipation of all humanity. Today, Carl is a follower of and advocate for Bob Avakian, his leadership, and his visionary new synthesis of communism. Carl Dix and Cornel West co-founded the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN), and Rise Up October that brought thousands into the streets in New York City demanding a stop to police terror.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 14, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
Editors' note: After Joey Johnson issued this statement, Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out with a statement saying, "Barely aware of the incident [the refusal of Colin Kaepernick and others to stand for the national anthem] or its purpose, my comments were inappropriately dismissive and harsh. I should have declined to respond." Joey Johnson's statement continues to be very relevant.
Joey Johnson at the RNC: "We're standing here with the people of the world."
Statement by Gregory “Joey” Johnson, defendant in 1989 U.S. Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson that upheld burning the American flag in protest as protected speech... AND current defendant along with 15 others (the RNC16) for burning the American flag on July 20, 2016 outside the Republican National Convention in Cleveland as Donald Trump was being nominated for president.
When Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg was asked by Katie Couric how she feels about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other athletes refusing to stand for the national anthem, Ginsburg said she thinks it is “dumb, disrespectful, stupid and arrogant” and said she would have the same answer if she was asked about flag burning.
Colin Kaepernick has said, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color...There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder." Kaepernick courageously set off a new wave of protests against the ongoing horror of the murders by police of thousands of people, overwhelmingly Black and other people of color, captured on video after video, yet with the police rarely even being charged, let alone sent to prison.
All the people who refused to stand up for the national anthem were absolutely right to do so. And I think a lot more disrespect for the national anthem and the flag is needed.
I was the defendant in the U.S. Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson (1989). I was arrested for burning the flag outside the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas as Ronald Reagan was being nominated for a second term. I was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a year in jail. I fought for five years, until my victory when the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning is protected political speech.
Today in the U.S., it’s the same flag and even worse nationalistic chauvinism. First, the Republicans and Donald “Mr. Fascism” Trump, fangs bared, swearing only he can make America great again by hunting immigrants, cheering killer cops, bashing women, carrying out pogroms against Muslims, and ramping up American military firepower. Then there’s the “reasonable” and experienced imperialist war criminal, Hillary Clinton, insisting that “America is already great!”—while the system’s prisons, drone strikes, and world-wide exploitation crush the lives of millions and millions.
“1,2,3,4, Slavery, genocide and war! 5,6,7,8, America was NEVER great!” is what I and other Revolution Club members chanted in a protest outside the Republican National Convention this summer. Then I stood inside a circle of Revolution Club members and stated, “America Number 1? America first? It always has been first: at genocide... at slavery... at exploitation... of destruction of the environment... of torture... of coup d’états... of invasions. We’re standing here with the people of the world today.” Then I burned the flag, that symbol of empire and oppression, as Trump was being nominated inside the convention.
For this, 16 of us were assaulted by police and right-wing operatives of Trump, illegally arrested, and now face serious criminal charges. We are being prosecuted even though the Texas v. Johnson decision determined that burning the flag in protest is “symbolic speech” protected by the First Amendment. This criminal case is outrageous; it must be fought, and it reveals that the essence of what exists in America is not democracy but a dictatorship of a capitalist class and its state, willing to disregard its own laws and rights when it suffers political exposure.
Although Ginsburg says she doesn’t think anyone should be jailed for refusing to stand for the national anthem or for burning the flag, she spoke as if this is just a matter of her personal opinion—without pointing out that this matter has already been decided by the Supreme Court. So her statement denouncing Colin Kaepernick—and flag burning—contributes to the system’s efforts to criminalize these important forms of dissent and enforce patriotism.
Arrogance? In reality, it’s Ginsburg who’s full of imperial arrogance, as she denies and tries to cover over the real crimes of the system people are outraged against.
Revolution #460 October 10, 2016
October 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us
On Saturday, October 8, hundreds of people gathered in Yemen’s capital Sana’a to mourn the death of the father of an official in the government backed by the Houthi movement and elements of the former regime. These are forces which have been under assault by Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the U.S., for the last 18 months.
Aftermath of the Saudi bombing of the funeral hall, Sana'a, October 8. (AP photo)
Suddenly, Saudi warplanes struck—bombing the funeral reception hall multiple times. Over 140 mourners were massacred. Another 600 were wounded, including leading Houthi figures and other officials.
“There were over 800 people in the hall, including the elderly and children,” one survivor told journalists. “Suddenly we heard the sound of airplanes, and then the bombing took place. The first bomb ripped through the ceiling and exploded, with the basement destroyed as well. I was injured and was at a loss. The heat made me feel I was burning. I got up and ran toward the door, where people came in to rescue us. Just then, the second bomb came and hit those people coming to rescue us.” (Salim Saleh Rowaishan, quoted by Democracy Now!, October 10)
“When I got there, there were more than 50 burned bodies,” one witness cited by Human Rights Watch stated, “many where you can still tell the features, but half of their body was gone, half of their head was gone, but the others, it was very, very hard to tell who they were.”
This wasn’t a military base or an airfield. These weren’t troops engaged in combat. This was a funeral. Bombing it was a war crime!
The Saudis initially claimed they knew nothing of the attack, but soon said they’d conduct an investigation into “reports about the regrettable and painful bombing.”
“Regrettable”? “Painful”? The funeral massacre in Sana’a wasn’t an exception; it was a damning concentration of how the Saudis have waged the reactionary, U.S.-backed war they launched in March 2015.
Yemen is in the hellish grip of a reactionary civil war, fueled by reactionary regional and global powers.
Yemen is an impoverished, relatively small country, which is largely rural. It is a society still characterized to a large degree by feudal relations. Yet its history and location make Yemen strategically important to both U.S. imperialism, and to the Islamic fundamentalist Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Yemen is at the mouth of the Red Sea, which leads to the Suez Canal, through which enormous amounts of oil and global trade flow; it sits along Saudi Arabia’s southern border and is close to northeast Africa.
For 33 years, until 2011, Yemen was ruled by the pro-U.S., pro-Saudi despot Ali Abdullah Saleh. In 2011, hatred of Saleh’s regime erupted in massive nationwide protests, when the “Arab Spring” upheavals rocked the region. The U.S. decided Saleh had become a liability and forced him out. But the Yemeni state, in particular the military, remained in place. Major General Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was backed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states, was installed as the head of state in early 2012. Hadi was no different or better than Saleh, and Yemen’s upheaval continued.
In August 2014 a combination of Houthi fighters and elements of Yemen’s military still loyal to Saleh seized control of Sana’a, the country’s capital city. Most Houthis (named after the leader of their 2004 uprising against the Saleh regime) live in the north and are members of the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam. Zaidis make up about a third of Yemen’s population. Zaidi religious authorities—imams—ruled North Yemen for centuries until the early 1960s. The Houthis are fighting under the reactionary Islamist banner of Ansar Allah (Partisans of God) and have been accused of massacres and indiscriminate killings themselves. They’re politically supported by and have some ties to the reactionary Islamic Republic of Iran. In February 2015, the Houthi-Saleh forces took over the central government, and President Hadi was driven into exile in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia felt this turn of events was a serious threat to its interests, including its contention with Iran. With U.S. backing, the Saudis pulled together a military alliance with other regional states and, on March 26, 2015, this alliance launched a savage bombing campaign against the Houthi-Saleh forces with the goal of restoring their puppet Hadi to power.
The Saudis have been waging a war of terror through the air, and a war of starvation by naval and air blockade. Throughout this barbaric campaign, they’ve repeatedly hit civilian targets—hospitals, potato chip factories, neighborhoods, and schools. The UN reports that 4,125 civilians have been killed and 7,207 wounded since the Saudi air campaign began, mostly by the Saudis, dropping mostly U.S.-made bombs. One Yemeni parent wrote of his children saying, “we sleep afraid, we wake up afraid.” (New York Times, October 11).
And now they try and wash away all this blood and these monstrous crimes with words like “painful” and “regret.”
After the October 8 funeral massacre, the U.S. government acted like an innocent bystander, upset with the behavior of one of its friends. A White House spokesperson said the U.S. was “deeply disturbed” by the bombing, and the Saudi’s “troubling” attacks on Yemeni civilians. He pledged the Obama administration would review U.S. support for Saudi’s war and was “prepared to adjust our support so as to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests.” He insisted the U.S. wasn’t giving the Saudis a “blank check.”
In reality, the U.S. has been neck-deep in this war from the start, and neck-deep in Yemeni blood. Whatever its differences with the Saudi regime―and there are real differences and sharp tensions―it remains a key cog in the U.S. global empire. The rulers of the U.S. are compelled to back Saudi Arabia. And back Saudi Arabia they have.
The U.S. has sold Saudi Arabia $110 billion in arms under the “antiwar” President Barack Obama. It’s been arming and supporting Saudi Arabia’s vicious, criminal bombing war against the Houthis for the last 18 months. The Saudis are flying U.S.-built planes, dropping U.S.-built bombs, getting refueled by U.S. air tankers (over 5,700 times at last count) and getting U.S. technical and intelligence support, including from a team of military personnel sent by the Pentagon to Saudi Arabia to help plan its air war.
This is why fragments from a U.S.-made bomb were found at the scene of the October 8 Sana’a funeral massacre!
The U.S. has kept up this support, including recently selling the Saudis an additional $1.15 billion in additional arms, even after repeated, well publicized Saudi massacres of civilians. And they did this after the Obama administration was warned by government lawyers it could be considered a co-belligerent in the war under international law and implicated in war crimes.
These are the “principles, values, and interests” the U.S. pursues out all over the world.
The U.S. rulers have been acting in the shadows during Saudi Arabia’s savage war. Until now.
Early on Thursday, October 13, five days after the funeral massacre, a U.S. destroyer, operating off Yemen’s coast, fired three cruise missiles. They destroyed what the U.S. says were Houthi-controlled radar stations. The U.S. Navy claimed this was “self-defense” in retaliation for the firing of several missiles at another U.S. warship sailing off Yemen in the days before. The ship was not hit, the Houthis deny they fired any missiles at U.S. ships, and the U.S. produced no evidence that they had.
Afterward Pentagon officials acted as if this attack, which was approved by President Obama, had nothing to do with the 18-month war between Saudi Arabia and Houthi-led factions in Yemen. They insisted that the U.S. was not seeking “a wider role in the conflict,” and that the missile attack on Yemen was simply a matter of protecting the “our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” as if the ships were on routine patrols.
But these weren’t routine patrols. The week before the attacks, the U.S. had dispatched these warships to Yemen’s coast because someone—reportedly Houthi forces—hit and nearly sank a ship from the United Arab Emirates. What was a ship from the UAE doing in the area? It was part of an air and sea blockade the Saudi-led coalition has imposed on Yemen since the beginning of the war.
Yemen is a country that imports 70 percent of its fuel, 90 percent of its food, and 100 percent of its medicines! The Saudi-led coalition, including Egypt and other Gulf states, has been strangling and starving this already impoverished, vulnerable population with a blockade that, according to the UN, has cut off 85 percent of the country’s imports—including medicine, water, fuel, and, yes, food. The Saudis have even bombed major airfields and bridges to prevent supplies from entering Yemen, especially Houthi-controlled areas.
Some 80% of the people in Yemen are in desperate need of basic necessities due to long-term extreme poverty drastically worsened by Saudi Arabian attacks and fighting among other reactionary forces. The girl above is one of nine million children across Yemen struggling to get access to safe water. (Photo: @UNICEF/Twitter)
This blockade has had horrendous consequences for Yemen’s people: half the population—some 14 million people—are now suffering hunger or malnutrition. Of Yemen’s roughly 28 million people, 80 percent—more than 22 million Yemenis—are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. There are dire warnings that Yemen is on the brink of famine and collapse. Starving and punishing a whole population is a towering war crime!
The “innocent bystander” America has backed this from the start. The U.S. Navy, which claims to merely be upholding “freedom of navigation,” hasn’t been insisting that food and medical aid, arriving by ship, should be able to penetrate the Saudi naval blockade and deliver needed aid! Just the opposite. In fact, early in the war, the U.S. stopped an Iranian ship from sailing to Yemen, claiming it carried arms. In other words, the U.S. hasn’t been protecting everyone’s “freedom of navigation”—it’s been supporting and enforcing the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen.
Now the U.S. is deploying warships to Yemen’s coast to protect the ships carrying out this criminal blockade. And the U.S. attacked Houthi installations. This constitutes direct military support for—and for the first time, direct military involvement—in the criminal Saudi blockade and its war. (And these U.S. cruise missiles also sent a broader message: no one threatens America’s naval enforcers with impunity.)
The U.S. is directly enabling Saudi Arabia’s air massacres and mass starvation of Yemen’s people—and now directly firing cruise missiles in support of the Saudi war effort for their reactionary interests. Why?
The reactionary rulers of Saudi Arabia are desperately fighting to maintain their extremely oppressive, Islamic fundamentalist, absolute monarchy. They have been shaken by shifts in the world economy and the global petroleum market, as well as by the 2011 “Arab Spring” upheavals. They are locked in a range of conflicts with the reactionary Islamic Republic of Iran and the growth of Iranian influence in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. They’re concerned that rapidly shifting sands of regional alliances will leave their regime in a more precarious situation. Everywhere they’ve sought to fund, arm, and restore tyrants they can deal with. With U.S. backing, they organized an Arab League initiative—supported by Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States—to form a 40,000-man military response force to combat Iranian influence in the region.
The Saudis are increasingly nervous about the erosion of U.S. power in the region in the wake of the failure of the U.S. rulers to restructure and strengthen the U.S.-dominated regional order, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S.-Iran nuclear deal, which was bitterly opposed by the Saudis, as well as the prospect of a Russian-Assad victory in the Syrian war, as well as the ongoing fragmentation of Iraq, have heightened Saudi fears and intensified its fierce regional rivalry with the Islamic Republic of Iran. And Saudi Arabia has long considered Yemen, which is on its southern border, important to its stability and security.
For all these reasons, the Saudis have been determined to crush the Houthi-Saleh uprising. This uprising could give Iran further influence in the region (even as it does not appear Iran is providing the Houthis with much, if any, military support). These tensions and concerns were reflected in the 2015 “shake-up” within the Saudi monarchy and royal family, which reportedly has put proponents of more aggressive Saudi action in charge. (New York Times, April 30, 2015)
For their part, the U.S. imperialists are desperately maneuvering and fighting to maintain their overall regional and global dominance over a world of exploitation and oppression (and there are very sharp arguments in their own ranks over how to do that, including over exactly how to deal with Saudi Arabia). Saudi Arabia—the world’s leading oil exporter with the largest petroleum reserves on the planet and enormous cash reserves—has been a crucial pillar of the U.S. empire since the 1940s. So the U.S. is determined to maintain its stability, including by reassuring the Saudis that in the wake of its nuclear deal with Iran, and ongoing conflicts and tensions over other issues, the U.S. will continue to stand by the Saudi kingdom.
This also means making clear to Iran that the U.S. is determined to remain the region’s dominant power—including by combating Iranian moves that could erode that. One of those interests is global—maintaining the U.S. status of military guarantor (dominator) of trade and navigation, in this case through the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and the Suez Canal, which are major arteries of world trade. For instance, some 30 percent of world maritime oil shipments flow through the Persian Gulf and more than eight percent through the Suez Canal. In addition, Russia’s growing military involvement and assertiveness in the region—particularly in Syria—looms very large for the U.S., and heightens the importance of its alliance with Saudi Arabia. (For background see: “Obama & U.S. Imperialism: Pushing Yemen Deeper into Hell,” Revolution/revcom.us, May 4, 2015.)
The rulers of the U.S. are behind horrific and ongoing crimes against humanity in Yemen. They are backing and enabling the Saudi massacre in Yemen, and now directly, militarily, enforcing a barbaric blockade aimed at starving the civilian population.
STOP WARS OF EMPIRE, ARMIES OF OCCUPATION, AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY!