Revolution #511, October 2, 2017 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Please note: this page is intended for quick printing of the entire issue. Some of the links may not work when clicked, and some images may be missing. Please go to the article's permalink if you require working links and images.

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/503/this-nightmare-must-end-the-trump-pence-regime-must-go-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Join the movement that is protesting
day after day and night after night and not stopping,
until our DEMAND is met:

This Nightmare Must End:
The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

November 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

ENDORSE THIS CALL

 

A Nightmare:

Immigrants living in terror—their next step could mean detention, deportation, being torn from children and loved ones.

A Nightmare:

Muslims and refugees demonized, banned and cast out.

A Nightmare:

Millions—children, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, the poor—denied healthcare, food assistance, the very right to live. 

A Nightmare:

Women objectified, degraded, and denied the basic right to control their own reproduction with fundamentalist Christian fascism increasingly being made law.

A Nightmare:

LGBTQ people stigmatized, ostracized, and denied civil rights recently won.

A Nightmare:

Black and Latino people openly threatened by the President, with maximum sentencing, stop-and-frisk going national, intensified police brutality and murder of our youth with no holds barred. 

A Nightmare:

People all over the world facing bombings, occupations, war and the threat of nuclear war with Donald Trump’s “America First” finger on the nuclear trigger.

A Nightmare:

The truth bludgeoned—lies and more lies—critical thinking being destroyed in education and public discourse.

A Nightmare:

The whole planet in peril from a regime that denies global warming and shreds all environmental protections.

A Nightmare:

A regime step-by-step discarding basic democratic rights, targeting group after group, and suppressing dissent and resistance. A regime unleashing the violence of white supremacists, anti-Semites and fascist thugs. This is fascism—a qualitative change in how society is governed. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.
 

 

THIS NIGHTMARE MUST END.  Millions feel this and ache with the question of how to stop this unrelenting horror.  The stakes are nothing less than the future of humanity and the planet itself.

Who will end this nightmare?  We will. Only the determined struggle of millions of people acting together with courage and conviction can drive this regime from power.

JOIN US—Take to the streets and public squares across the country, beginning a movement of protests that continue day after day and night after night. A movement working to grow from thousands to hundreds of thousands and eventually millions.  A movement determined to not stop until our demand is met:

THIS NIGHTMARE MUST END: THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!

Our actions will reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want—in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime. 

Our determination to persist and not back down will compel the whole world to take note. Every force and faction in the power structure would be forced to respond to our demand. The cracks and divisions among the powers evident today will sharpen and widen. As we draw more and more people forward to stand up, all of this could lead to a situation where this illegitimate regime is removed from power.

Spread the word and organize. Be a part of making history. Don’t let it be said that you stood aside when there was still a chance to stop a regime that imperils humanity and the earth itself. Join us in taking to the streets and the public squares day after day and night after night. Let’s stand together with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, demonstrating that:

In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!

This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must GO!

RefuseFascism.org

RefuseFascism.org is a movement of people coming from diverse perspectives united in our recognition that the Trump/Pence Regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet and that it is our responsibility to drive them from power through non-violent protest. 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/trumps-response-to-hurricane-maria-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Trump’s Response to Hurricane Maria:
Deadly, Racist Contempt for the Lives and Dignity of the Puerto Rican People

October 1, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Puerto Rican city after Maria

 

Puerto Rico is still reeling. Hurricanes Irma and Maria knocked out power, water, phones, roads, for millions, and 95 percent of the people still have no electricity.

A week and a half after Hurricane Maria hit, 3.4 million people are scrambling every single day for their most basic survival needs—drinkable water, shelter from the elements, formula for infants, food for children, fuel for cars, and cash to buy any of these things. (See “Puerto Rico: Gutted by Imperialism: Slammed by Maria; Abandoned by Trump—A Major Humanitarian Crisis in the Making.”)

A major health crisis is growing. Many of the island’s hospitals are still closed; none of them have reliable electricity. When power goes off, surgery cannot be done. People on ventilators die. Medications are in extremely short supply. With the internet down, people’s medical records can’t be accessed. People with diabetes are running out of insulin, and if they get some, it has to be refrigerated, which means you need power. Almost half the dialysis centers on the island are closed. People who need life-saving treatment cannot reach the open facilities because they have no fuel.

Hundreds of thousands of people with normally manageable illnesses are in agony, teetering on the brink of death, or dying, and their loved ones are going through hell as well. Elderly people and infants are suffering because of the heat, stress, lack of food and water. Illnesses spread by unclean water, poor hygiene, or mosquitoes—dengue fever, Zika virus, conjunctivitis, diarrheal diseases—are on the rise, and there is concern about deadly epidemic diseases like cholera if the situation persists.

Many have died already—far more than the 18 people that the authorities and media admit to. The Miami Herald reported that “bodies are piling up at the morgues of the 69 hospitals in Puerto Rico, of which 70 percent are not operating.” (Emphasis added)

Trump/Pence Regime Refuses to Provide Aid

In response, the Trump/Pence regime did almost nothing for over a week, other than issue self-congratulatory tweets about what a “fantastic” job they were doing.

For almost a week there was silence from the White House about the crisis, and no evidence that any cabinet-level figures were even discussing or thinking about what to do about an emergency confronting over three million people. The Jones Act (dictating that only U.S. shipping companies handle cargo to Puerto Rico—which causes steep increases in food and other costs in Puerto Rico) was kept in effect in spite of demands that it be suspended as it had been in Texas and Florida in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. (Finally, Trump “waived” the Jones Act—for 10 days!)

For a week or more, few or no desperately needed helicopters, and no hospital ships were dispatched in spite of calls to do so. A meager force of 2,000 FEMA personnel—lacking clear leadership from Washington—mostly wandered around the convention center in San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital and largest city—talking to each other or distributing applications for possible future aid to desperate people. Containers of supplies—often from private donations—sat at ports unopened.

Across the island witnesses reported no FEMA or U.S. military people in the streets, no water distribution, no rescue teams, no kitchens being set up, except for the heroic efforts of the storm-battered Puerto Rican people themselves, as well as volunteers from other countries who rushed there to help.

“Something Close to a Genocide”

The crisis had advanced to the point where tens of thousands of lives could be on the line if things don’t change rapidly. Yet Trump continued blathering idiotic excuses, like his “discovery” that Puerto Rico “is an island surrounded by water.”

On Friday, September 29, Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, told the world: “I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell. ... We are dying here.” She sharply pointed out how the U.S. “cannot figure out the logistics for a small island of 100 miles by 35 miles.”

She went on: “If we don’t get the food and water into people’s hands, what we are going to see is something close to a genocide,” and “the world will see how we are treated not as second-class citizens, but as animals that can be disposed of.” (Emphasis added) Cruz begged the Trump administration to send help commensurate with the dire situation.

Trump Launches Racist Slander Against Puerto Rican People

Trump’s response to all this was to attack Mayor Cruz and the people of Puerto Rico. On September 30, he tweeted: “Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help. They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort. 10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.” (Emphasis added)1

Here Trump straight up raised the racist trope that Puerto Ricans (or Black people, or immigrants) are “lazy” and “want a handout from the government.” This is Nazi bullshit on many levels. First, as already noted, Puerto Rican people have been working like mad—clearing roads, carrying elderly folks to hospitals, setting up community kitchens—while this motherfucker Trump is tweeting from his luxury golf resort.

And more fundamentally, it is the U.S. that has been squeezing Puerto Rico for 120 years, first exploiting hundreds of thousands working on U.S.-owned plantations, cutting cane or picking coffee for pennies an hour, and then later working them to death in U.S. factories for substandard wages, until finally most of those bloodsuckers moved on to riper pastures, leaving the Puerto Rican people with a mass of debt and a rotted infrastructure.

Sentencing Millions to Poverty and Early Death

But this grotesque racism is not just a justification for the refusal to provide needed aid to storm victims. It is also preparing public opinion for an even more massive crime.

Because beyond the immediate emergency, the near-total destruction of Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure—as well as water purification and transport, hospitals, roads, communication, and so on—makes any kind of decent life for the great majority of people on the island impossible. Just imagine what life would be like if these things are not fully rebuilt.

What does it mean to have a whole land of 3.4 million people without a national power grid, water purification, a network of reliable roads, and so on? It means that things like electricity, clean water, and so on become luxuries, unavailable to poor and working-class people, and difficult even for the middle class. It means there would be enclaves of modernity in some cities, while rural areas would sink ever more deeply into poverty and decay. It means that every aspect of life would become vastly more difficult for the masses of people, whose lives would be increasingly stalked by poverty, exhaustion, preventable disease, and early death.

But that is exactly what Trump keeps hinting at. Right after Hurricane Harvey hit southeastern Texas, Trump pledged federal funds to cover up to 75 percent of the costs of repairing damaged public infrastructure—costs estimated at over $75 billion!

But he is singing a very different tune about Puerto Rico!

Trump to Puerto Rico: Pay Your Debt to Wall Street or Drop Dead

On September 25, Trump tweeted about the electrical grid being “devastated” and then immediately brought up Puerto Rico’s debt: “billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks ... must be dealt with.” On September 29, he tweeted that “... Puerto Rico has been destroyed by two hurricanes. Big decisions will have to be made as to the cost of its rebuilding!” (Emphasis added) And later that day in a speech on tax policy, Trump said, “Ultimately, the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort ... will be funded.”

And, according to NBC News, FEMA “administrators want to assess the damage before committing to fixing public infrastructure in the ravaged U.S. territory.” A FEMA spokesman said, “What is available to Puerto Rico currently is individual assistance”—in other words, NOT infrastructure repair. (Emphasis added)

Rough estimates for rebuilding infrastructure run from $40 billion to $80 billion. Puerto Rico’s government is already carrying $70 billion in unpaid and unpayable debt. PREPA, the government-owned power company, filed for bankruptcy this summer.

So when Trump says that these debts “must be dealt with,” that “big decisions have to be made” about rebuilding costs, and that “ultimately” it is the responsibility of the Puerto Rican government—and when he combines this with racist slanders of the Puerto Rican people wanting “everything to be done for them”—he is signaling that the U.S. government will not finance reconstruction, knowing full well that the Puerto Rican government cannot.

This means either that rebuilding will not happen at all, or that Puerto Rico will rebuild by going even more massively into debt. That in turn would mean ever more vicious and intolerable “austerity”: tax hikes and the funneling of all government funds to service the debt, while money for social services, health care, schools, and so on are further slashed.

Either way, this decision would condemn the Puerto Rican people to generations of unnecessary suffering and misery, taking the 120-year history of U.S. occupation, domination, and exploitation to new levels of oppression.

The Trump regime’s entire response to the natural disasters in the Caribbean has been a crime against humanity, dripping with racism. And it drives home both the colonial nature of the imperialist system that loots, uses, and abandons the oppressed nations it dominates, and the character of the barbaric Trump/Pence regime that revels in the prospect of condemning millions of people of color to misery and death.

These policies truly are genocidal, and have to be condemned and opposed. This regime has to be driven from power. And this imperialist system has to be overturned, here and all over the world, at the soonest possible time.


1. The prominent racist/fascist blogger and Trump supporter Mike Cernovich went even further in attacking Cruz, tweeting, “She is garbage, she is a murderer, she failed her people and her duties and belongs in prison!” [back]

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/ba-speaks-revolution-nothing-less-now-available-online-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

ANNOUNCING:

BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!
Now Available Online at revolutiontalk.net

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A truly groundbreaking work, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! is now available online for everyone to reach.

In this film, BA breaks down—like no one else can—the driving forces in human society, history, how we have gotten to where we are, and how we can get to a much radically different world, a communist world, through making an actual revolution. He does this with heart, humor, and science.

Learn the reality that the textbooks won’t teach you: the atrocities that this capitalist-imperialist system has committed on humanity, how it continues to oppress and exploit the masses of people all over the world; and the answers to the question: which system, capitalism or communism, is the true horror for humanity?

This talk is dealing with the most important thing there could be—the real possibility of bringing into being a radically different world, where all this madness, all the oppression and injustice, all the abuse and degradation that is so much a part of life now, would be done away with. It’s an incredible introduction to BA himself—the most radical revolutionary alive, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party and author of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

It’s a great thing to have this film available to a wider audience, accessible to the masses of people that may not have a DVD player but have a smart phone. Or a prisoner that only has an internet connection to the outside world. This full film is now in the palm of your hand, available to be seen by anyone seeking answers to the madness and terror of today’s world. And to those already with the revolution, it’s easily available to be whipped out when you’re struggling with others about revolution.

Check out the clips as a starting point. Then get deeper—watch the whole talk and understand how everything intertwines, what is the root cause of it all, and why revolution is not just necessary, but possible.

Promote this everywhere: share and spread on Twitter and FB (twitter.com/revolutiontalk and facebook.com/revolutiontalk), send a mass email out today to everyone you know, use the clips and full talk in engagement with people online, organize a showing... or just pull people together on a stoop or street corner.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/508/major-announcement-at-UC-Berkeley-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

A Major Announcement @ UC Berkeley Speak-Out

BOB AVAKIAN TO SPEAK AT UC BERKELEY–APRIL 2018

September 15, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Berkeley, California

The following major announcement was made at a Speak-Out in defiance of the fascist ideologue, Ben Shapiro at the University of California, Berkeley, on September 14.  Revcom.us will be announcing a press event at UC Berkeley where this announcement will be formally made this coming week.

For Immediate Release:

             Bob Avakian, the most radical revolutionary alive, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, author of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, former student at Cal and an active participant in the Free Speech Movement, will be coming to speak on the UC Berkeley campus in April, 2018 about freedom of expression and communist revolution; and, as part of this, he will be exposing and refuting the lies and distortions of Chancellor Christ about the Free Speech Movement.

            While Chancellor Christ and the university administration have done great harm in misrepresenting and misappropriating the Free Speech Movement to accommodate and facilitate the spewing of outright fascist provocation by the likes of Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopolous—which in fact it is right and righteous to oppose and prevent—it would not only be the height of hypocrisy, but would do still further damage to the actual exercise of freedom of expression, if they were to be involved in any way in suppressing or placing obstacles in the way of Bob Avakian speaking on campus about an emancipating communist revolution and freedom of expression in relation to that. For, as we have pointed out: “Fascism already has a platform—the biggest and most powerful platform in the world: the White House!”  And the principle articulated by John Stuart Mill, concerning the importance of the contestation of ideas —a principle whose basic importance Bob Avakian himself  has emphasized—is crucial in particular  “for the dissemination and critical evaluation of poorly known and unpopular ideas in general, and especially if these are ideas which the dominant forces and relations of society (including the ruling state apparatus) do not favor, and actively work to discredit, contain or actively suppress.”

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/refuse-fascism-blocks-rush-hour-traffic-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Protesters #TakeAKnee on the Los Angeles 101 Freeway at Rush Hour

#TakeAKnee Against Trump's White Supremacy—Stand Up to End the Nightmare November 4: the Trump Pence Regime Must Go!

September 26, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Tuesday, September 26, eight protesters from RefuseFascism.org staged an emergency civil disobedience action, and stopped rush-hour traffic for 30 minutes on the 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles. Holding 12 large placards they announced “Nov 4—It Begins. Banners unfurled read This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! All eight were arrested by the California Highway Patrol. This nonviolent civil disobedience action declared to people here and everywhere:

On NOVEMBER 4, 2017, Take to the Streets and Public Squares in cities and towns across the country continuing day after day and night after night—not stopping—until our DEMAND is met: This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/ Pence Regime Must Go!

The activists, while kneeling on the 101 Freeway, chanted “#TakeAKnee Against White Supremacy—Stand Up for November 4—The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!”

Update September 27: the protestors have been released. Thanks to all who contributed and made phone calls.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/hundreds-protest-devos-at-harvard-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Hundreds of People Protest Trump’s Education Secretary DeVos at Harvard

September 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Hundreds of demonstrators outside, along with dozens of Harvard students inside, protested the visit of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to the Harvard Kennedy School of Government on September 28. Outside the auditorium where she appeared, protesters from as far away as Providence, Rhode Island, along with students from many Boston area colleges, lined the sidewalk at a rally called by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and several other organizations, including Refuse Fascism. Inside, at an event billed as “The Future of School Choice,” students unfurled banners including “White Supremacist” and turned their backs in protest. As Carl Dix sharply pointed out, “[DeVos’s] vision, and the vision of the Trump/Pence regime, is of an educational system where the public schools are gutted and students are funneled into schools that train them as Christian fundamentalist robots, unable to think critically or resist. This is a key part of the overall fascist agenda the Trump/Pence regime is working to enforce.”

Hundreds of copies of the Refuse Fascism broadsheet “Indictments of the Crimes of the Trump/Pence Regime,” along with flyers for November 4—It Begins, were distributed.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/students-confront-fascist-provocateurs-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Wednesday on Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley:

Refuse Fascism, Students Confront Fascist Provocateurs... and the Urgency of Struggling for November 4

September 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

The Berkeley Patriots, Milo Yiannopoulos, and other fascists had planned today, September 27, as the wrap-up of a four-day blitzkrieg of pro-Trump white supremacist, alt-right, fascist speakers whose aim was to legitimize and normalize fascism in the name of "free speech," while attempting to terrorize and intimidate the campus community and beyond.

The fascist "free speech" week got cancelled, but alt-right Nazis, white supremacists, and fascist thugs had still descended on campus. Today the Patriot Prayer group announced they would be on campus, and they were met with a determined protest. About 20 people, Refuse Fascism, By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), and others, did a speak-out on the steps of Sproul Plaza in the face of about 50 howling "alt-right" fascists.  

Four activists with Refuse Fascism, including two UC Berkeley ("Cal") alumni, took these fascists on, drawing the connection between the thugs who have been terrorizing Berkeley and the fascist regime in the White House that is terrorizing immigrants, Muslims, LGBT, women, all humanity, and the planet. They talked about why Berkeley is being targeted by these fascist forces and denounced the role of the university and police in collaborating with them. And they argued that this fascism must be rooted out from the top—that the Trump/Pence regime must go—and announced plans for November 4.

One of the Cal alumni talked about Berkeley's proud legacy of fighting oppression, including how she slept on Sproul Plaza during the anti-South African apartheid struggle. Another activist with Refuse Fascism talked about the importance of students being critical thinkers and learning the lessons of the history of fascism so as not to repeat that history.

After yammering on and on about "free speech" the fascists did everything they could to try and disrupt the speak-out, standing right in front of the protesters, holding up American flags, chanting "USA, USA," even singing "We Shall Overcome." Refuse Fascism and others responded with "No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA," and held the steps of Sproul Plaza for an hour, with probably 100 people looking on until riot cops pushed most everyone out of the Plaza.

It was sickening to watch the fascists operate. While some were trying to disrupt and shout down the protest, others were being nicey-nicey, talking to students one-on-one as if they were just there to share ideas, hiding the horrors their movement threatens billions with, normalizing fascist discourse. 

I heard one of the Patriot Prayer leaders talking with several Black students, trying to cover up and normalize his fascist shit with talk about how he doesn't believe "make America great again," but making America "better and better," how "we've all got to come together," and at one point saying, "I agree they're pumping drugs into [ghettos] so the system is rigged, but it's not because it's racist." And this double-talk and pretense of "free speech" was confusing some of the students I talked with. All the while, Infowars and other fascist outlets were filming, collecting information on the students and protesters, organizing, and inciting their audience against the students and campuses.

But then their shit jumps out. One fascist hurled a misogynist, homophobic slur about an opponent's "man-gina." 

A bit later, a number of fascists tried to worm and bully their way into the semi-walled-off space in front of the Golden Bear Café near the Plaza to disrupt and insult a gathering of some 100 or more Black students who were celebrating "Black Wednesday." 

In an ugly display of threatening white supremacy and racism, Kyle Chapman, one of the leading alt-right goons who has attacked protesters in Berkeley, tried to push his way into this space where he clearly wasn't welcome, while live-streaming his action. But he was righteously blocked off by a multi-national wall of some 40 or 50 students—some holding signs with the Cal slogan "This Is Bear Territory," only with "Bear" crossed out and replaced by "Indian."

Chapman demanded entry, saying he's not moving, this was America and there was no territory where "people"—i.e., white people—couldn't go. He tried to compare the students blocking his racist ass to white settlers who refused to let Native Americans go where they wanted, and complained to one media outlet that right-wing thought was being "violently suppressed." But people weren't having it, and were right up in Chapman's face chanting "Black lives matter, Black lives matter," one holding a sign "Hatred—There's Nothing to Debate!" And Chapman was forced to retreat. Meanwhile, Black students were facing off with other white supremacist provocateurs on another side of the area. Black students chanted, "Black people! Black people! Black people!" and at one point a booming "Fuck Trump!"

In talking to some of the students, I found they had a clear understanding that these Nazis were white supremacists who, as one Black student put it, "don't want us here." But that student didn't see the bigger picture of the fascist character and direction of the Trump/Pence regime—and its potentially genocidal implications for Black people and others. Chapman’s action was white supremacist to be sure, but it was much more than that: it was one example of the reality that these fascists are determined to “barge into,” break down, and  attempt to reshape every corner of this society—under their horrific, nightmarish domination. So it remains a crucial challenge to engage and struggle with students over these issues, and win them to urgently take up the battle to organize and build for November 4 and driving out this whole fascist regime. 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/fascist-attacks-on-revolution-books-berkeley-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Four Fascist Attacks on Revolution Books Berkeley in Two Days:

“You Will Not Shut Down Revolution Books! Berkeley Will Be a Fascist Free Zone!”

September 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Fascist forces attacked and threatened Revolution Books Berkeley four different times in two days, Sunday and Monday, September 24-25, attempting to storm and threaten the bookstore. They did not succeed.

It began on Sunday, after a protest led by Refuse Fascism and other groups against fascist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos’s appearance at Sproul Plaza on the nearby UC Berkeley campus. Over the past several weeks, fascist forces with direct connections to the Trump/Pence regime had been organizing to deluge the campus with white supremacist, misogynist, xenophobic hate-mongers under the banner of “free speech.” The speaking engagements were cancelled, but Milo and hundreds of pro-Trump alt-right Nazis from across California and beyond rallied on campus to plant their pole, organize their forces and terrorize students and the surrounding community.

After Milo’s appearance at UC Berkeley, about 40 “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) red hat fascists descended on Revolution Books. They filled the 10-15 foot wide hallway in the mall the bookstore is part of, blocking the entrance to the bookstore and trying to force their way in. A dozen or so bookstore supporters – most of whom had been protesting Milo – were there. Some stood outside blocking the fascists. Others were inside locking and holding the doors shut. These Nazis pounded on the windows, threatened Revolution Books supporters and staff with death, called them “commie scum,” and warned "[W]e know where you are, we’re going to get you."

Some of these “USA, USA, USA” chanting MAGA fascists had been part of the “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that led to the murder of Heather Heyer and the injury of dozens of other counter-protesters. On Sunday they screamed that Revolution Books was supposedly supporting “white genocide,” because it stands against white supremacy.

As they were menacing Revolution Books, they livestreamed the assault to their fascist networks across the country, inciting others to violence against the bookstore and popularizing this kind of thuggery to be unleashed elsewhere. “That’s how we expose communists in this country,” one of the Nazi leaders said. “We go right into their bookstores. We expose them at all costs.”

“It was a mob like you see in the movies—like the KKK, but without the sheets,” Reiko Redmonde, the manager of Revolution Books, said. One supporter of Revolution Books observed that this has the odor of book burning and Kristallnacht. One Refuse Fascism member called it “one of the most terrifying things in my life.”

There were two more attacks like this, with varying numbers of fascists, against the bookstore on Sunday and one more on Monday.

Exposing the Attacks and Building Broader Support

“From the very start people came to the aid of Revolution Books,” Redmonde said. “A whole group—probably 20 activists from the Berkeley Animal Rights Center—came to defend the store.

“And I’ve never seen the building’s security people do their job with such energy – they stood right in front of the store and told these fascists off.”

Revolution Books quickly issued a statement and reached out very broadly for support:  

Revolution Books denounces this outrageous fascist attack, vows to remain open, and calls on everyone in Berkeley and beyond who cares about the future of humanity and values critical thinking to support Revolution Books right now. Come or send statements to our Emergency Press Conference and public Speak Out on Tuesday night: “You Will Not Shut Down Revolution Books! Berkeley Will Be a Fascist Free Zone!”

“Following the attacks students have been coming in, saying they heard about the attack and said that’s why I needed to come here today and buy books from Revolution Books,” Redmonde continued. “And a number of people were buying revolutionary lit – like Bob Avakian’s Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, and Ardea Skybreak’s Science and Revolution. Others were coming by and asking if we were OK, and giving their support.

“The other thing – we have learned a lot more about what these fascists are doing since the attacks because people who follow the alt-right and Nazis are coming in and telling us who these fascists are, and what they’ve been doing. The National Lawyers Guild came in and shared their experience in being attacked by the fascists and what they were doing about it.” (See for example, “Violent Assaults & Harassment Follow #FreeSpeechWeek“)

September 26 Press Conference and Speak-Out

“These fascists coming to our bookstore in mobs underlines the reality that this is fascism, that’s what we’re facing, it brings it home,” Redmonde said in opening Tuesday night’s important and inspiring press conference and speak-out. “The right wing attacked us because we’re a revolutionary communist bookstore that’s about everything the fascists hate – opposing oppression, critical thinking and the vision of a whole new world,”

Over 40 people including members of the press, supporters and friends of Revolution books and others packed into the bookstore. Redmonde and Sunsara Taylor gave presentations providing urgently needed clarity and context about the attacks on Revolution Books, why the store was targeted, and how precious and essential it is in knowing and changing the world.

Sunsara Taylor exposed how the fascists were using the claim of “free speech” as a cover: “They came to Berkeley to shut down critical thinking, dox and terrorize students, and oust professors. They targeted Berkeley to normalize and legitimize fascism, and to assault a symbol of critical thinking and resistance the world over.” This is connected with the Trump/Pence’s regime’s drive to consolidate fascist rule, and underscores the urgency of people coming together across this country from many different perspectives and taking to the streets day after day, night after night, refusing to stop utnil the entire Trump/Pence regime has been driven from power—this begins November 4. If the Muslim ban, the white supremacy sanctioned by this President, the Christian fascism of Pence, or any of that wasn’t enough—let the reality of sworn Nazis pounding on the door of Revolution Books in Berkeley, the same day that Nazis surrounded and threatened an anarchist book fair in Houston, be your wake-up call. We cannot wait—we must drive them out.

Taylor emphasized that the targeting of any place by white supremacists and fascists is intolerable no matter who it was, but with Revolution Books even more is at stake. Revolution Books is a special place—it is a place that brings people together to learn about the world in a deep and scientific way, through world literature and poetry, through science and history, through philosophy and most of all through the new communism developed by Bob Avakian that is at the heart of the store. More than anything else, Bob Avakian has forged a thoroughly scientific way of understanding the world in all its complexity and changingness, and he’s dug deeply over decades into the rise of the fascism that is now fully in power in this country. All this and so much more is what this store brings to people. The fact that there are fascists in the White House, and fascists terrorizing and murdering in the streets, only makes all this—as well as the whole breadth of titles and programs and the many spheres of knowledge engaged and explored at Revolution Books—even more important than ever. This is why the store will and must stay open!

Heartfelt Statements of Support

One City Council member attended the press conference. A broad range of support statements have come and are continuing to come into the bookstore. Renowned author Ayelet Waldman called Revolution Books “beloved” and “freedom-loving, science-celebrating, creativity-inspiring.” Riess Potterveld, the President of the Graduate Theological Union condemned “intimidation” and called for the “safe exchange of ideas and opinions.” City Lights Booksellers wrote, “We stand in solidarity with our fellow booksellers.” Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Jr., the Senior Pastor of the Allen Temple Baptist Church, condemned the attack by a “violent mob of fascists” on a “book store that has existed in our community for 30 years as an important educational resource, providing access to literature, history, science, art, and philosophy.”

On Tuesday there were other heartfelt statements of support. A member of the Berkeley Animal Rights Center said their volunteers, “were grateful to have been available to come down the corridor and form a wall of nonviolence between our neighbors Revolution Books and the violent people emboldened by hate…we’re proud of the work they do to empower people to resist oppression.”

A representative of the Freedom Socialist Party spoke of the need to make common cause against fascism. Reverend Aaron of Punks for Progress and a volunteer with Refuse Fascism brought the seriousness of the fascist attack into the room—describing how these are the people who recite the “14 words” of loyalty to Hitler, and how they tried to push aside staffers and storm into the bookstore.

Andrea Pritchett, an educator and long-time member of Copwatch, spoke of how her students come back after visiting the store and talk of all they’ve learned and encountered, and the possibilities they don’t get anywhere else. “It’s like we’re cousins,” she said. “You’ve struck a rock. This community is rock solid against fascism. Stay strong Revolution Books, we’re here for you!”

Overall there was a lot of love in the room for Revolution Books and afterward there was important media coverage in Berkeleyside, the UC Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian, KPIX / Channel 5 TV News, and elsewhere.

A Niemöller Moment

The attack on Revolution Books is a very dangerous step in the fascist assault on Berkeley. “This is a Niemöller moment,” Redmonde said citing the famous poem from Pastor Martin Niemöller who, after surviving Nazi concentration camps wrote, “First they came for the communists, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist.” She said, “Students, professors, clergy, activists, long time supporters and new friends, everybody who refuses to accept a fascist America, we are calling you to come into Revolution Books this week and beyond, stand with the store, be present and fill the space!”

“With fascist thugs stepping up their assaults from the street from Charlottesville to right at our doors,” Redmonde continued, “with backing and encouragement by the fascist Trump/Pence Regime which is terrorizing Muslims, immigrants, the people of North Korea and more, the mission of Revolution Books is more important than ever.”

Email statements of support to: revolutionbooks@sbcglobal.net

Contribute to Revolution Books at RevolutionBooks.org.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/support-revolution-books-berkeley-against-alt-right-attacks-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Support Revolution Books, Berkeley, Against Alt-Right Attacks

Updated September 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

On Sunday September 24, after a student group that had planned a week of fascist speakers at UC Cal cancelled the week, Milo Yiannopoulos led a group of his fascist supporters to Sproul Plaza to spout their poison.  They were met with determined resistance by Refuse Fascism and By Any Means Necessary.

In the midst of the intense back and forth between Milo/Trump supporters and anti-fascist protesters, MAGA hat (Make America Great Again) fascists descended on Revolution Books, Berkeley, several times Sunday evening. Twice they massed outside the bookstore, pounding on the windows and yelling "USA, USA." Some later forced their way into the store, but were stopped. People, including from the Animal Rights Center came over in support of the store forcing them to leave.  

Revolution Books issued a statement denouncing these attacks and calling for people to come stand with the store. The bookstore vows to stay open in the face of fascist intimidation. Reiko Redmonde, manager of Revolution Books, cited the famous poem from Pastor Martin Niemöller who, after surviving Nazi concentration camps wrote, "First they came for the communists, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist." Redmonde said, "Students, professors, clergy, activists, long-time supporters and new friends, everybody who refuses to accept a fascist America, we are calling you to come into Revolution Books this week and beyond, stand with the store, be present and fill the space!"

"With fascist thugs on the streets and a fascist regime in the White House, the mission of Revolution Books is more important than ever," continued Reiko, "We are a bookstore about understanding the world in order to change the world. At the heart of our store is the most advanced scientific theory and leadership for an actual revolution for the emancipation of humanity: the new synthesis of communism brought forward by the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian. We carry literature, history, science, art, philosophy, and revolutionary theory... Revolution Books is a place of discovery and engagement."

For all these reasons, Revolution Books is recommitting to its determination to be part of bringing Bob Avakian, the most radical revolutionary alive, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, author of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, former student at Cal and an active participant in the Free Speech Movement, to speak on the UC Berkeley campus in April 2018 about freedom of expression and communist revolution. 

Revolution Books, Berkeley is inviting its community to show their love and support for the store today. Send your message of support to Revolution Books in Berkeley! Email address: rredmonde@gmail.com.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Statements of Support for Revolution Books, Berkeley

The following are statements in support for Revolution Books in Berkeley and opposing the fascist/alt-right attacks against the store.

Ayelet Waldman, author:

It horrifies me to hear that our beloved Revolution Books was targeted by vicious white supremacists. Bookstores like Revolution Books are examples of the best this nation has to offer: freedom-loving, science-celebrating, creativity-inspiring. It’s one of the many heartbeats of this wonderful community of ours, and we won’t allow it to be silenced or destroyed.

Alley Cat Books in San Francisco’s Mission District:

Alley Cat Books stands in solidarity with Revolution Books and with anyone who refuses American fascism. There is no place for “free speech” that advocates white supremacy or genocide. Historically, fascism uses the rhetoric of the left to disguise its true intention, which is fundamentally regressive, repressive, racist, sexist, and without any imagination for our collective future. We say NO to this poisonous ideology. We say NO wall. NO KKK. NO fascist USA. Thank you for all you guys do! We stand with you.

Kim McMillon, playwright, UC Merced Graduate Student, ABD:

As a board member of PEN Oakland, I worked with Revolution Books to help create events that positively impacted our diverse community. Revolution Books provides the San Francisco Bay Area community and beyond a safe space for the exchange of ideas and information in support of equality for all. The work of Revolution Books is important for anyone that values freedom!!

Bob Meola, Courage to Resist:

I stand in solidarity with the right of Revolution Books to operate without fear of assault by fascists. Hate speech is not free speech. Fascists and Nazi thugs are not welcome in our community.

Alessandro Morosin, PhD candidate in sociology, University of California, Riverside; M.A., Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara:

Defeat the fascist intimidation of Revolution Books and their activists! Bay Area professors and students: it’s time to take your classes and colleagues down to this truly unique, intellectually committed space, and to invite their volunteers to speak in your classrooms. You will see just what the “MAGA” crowd is trying to suppress and silence. At RB, you will encounter a community who cares deeply about the planet and its people, and who models the critical search for the truth. We can’t afford to let such an inspiring place lose precious ground to the attacks of hateful thugs in today’s dangerous political climate.

Stuart Baker, executive director, Telegraph Business Improvement District:

We stand with our community members at Revolution Books. Intimidating a bookseller is no different than preventing a person from their right to speak freely. As the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, Telegraph stands in solidarity with those who seek a peaceful exchange of ideas, free from force or intimidation. We must keep this goal intact.

Lourdes Reboyoso, activista comunitaria y trabajadora del hogar:

Como Mujer de color, Trabajadora del hogar, Inmigrante, rechazó totalmente estos grupos de odio, que recurren a la violencia para nazis y supremacistas blancos seguir oprimiéndonos , callandonos, amedrentado a todo aquel que no se vea y piense como ellos, pero nosotros no nos vamos a callar seguiremos luchando para recuperar nuestra humanidad que por siglos nos han quitado, no nos esconderemos estamos aquí en la resistencia para no permitir que estos grupos ahora representados en las más altas esferas del poder en el país nos tomen por asalto como lo hicieron a nuestros ancestros, estare al lado de cada organización, grupo o persona que sea atacada por su lucha en contra de las injusticias de este sistema capitalista- patriarcal, estoy con ustedes a su lado lucharemos y resistiremos a este régimen que ha promovido que este odio se levante.

NO al régimen facista de de Trump y Pence!! Fuera!!!

J. Alfred Smith, Allen Temple Baptist Church:


Riess Potterveld, President of the Graduate Theological Union:

Many of us work daily and weekly to create interreligious education and engagement that fosters mutual understanding and respect. Building community that incorporates difference and, in particular, religious difference is work that needs the attention and commitment of leaders at every level of society. It is the work of building a just and peaceful world.

Free access to books and information is essential to education, democracy, and the sustaining of diverse communities like Berkeley. No one gains from living in fear of the disrupting violence of others. Intimidation has no place in our society and we reiterate our clear commitment to the safe exchange of ideas and opinions. “

City Lights Booksellers and Publishers

All of us at City Lights Books were disturbed to hear of the recent attempts to intimidate and shut down Revolution Books for exercising their First Amendment rights. We stand in solidarity with our fellow booksellers, and with all those who exercise their rights to think freely, publish and advocate for their beliefs. And we stand firmly against those who would try to stifle dissent.

Steve Wasserman, Publisher/Executive Director, Heyday

Heyday stands in solidarity with Revolution Books. We are appalled and outraged by those who would interfere with their right to sell books, employing tactics of violent intimidation.

Paul Darwin Picklesimer

The Berkeley Animal Rights Center’s volunteers were grateful to have been available to come down the corridor and form a wall of nonviolence between our neighbors Revolution Books and the violent people emboldened by hate. We focus our energy on challenging the injustices that nonhuman animals endure, but injustice is injustice, no matter who it victimizes. With that in mind, Revolution Books and its patrons are our highly-appreciated allies and we’re proud of the work they do to empower people to resist oppression. Thank you for all that you do.

Bay Area resident

I was shocked to see Revolution Books, in Berkeley California, being attacked by a mob, a few days ago. This wonderfully creative bookstore is a cultural center for respectful intellectual debate. Many prominent artists, writers, and intellectuals gather there. Although it is run by the RCP, they do not push their ideas. It is a great asset to the community and needs to be protected!

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/vietnam-war-protesters-have-nothing-to-apologize-for-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Vietnam War Protesters Have NOTHING to Apologize For

When patriotism and pro-war become synonymous.

by David Zeiger

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Author David Zeiger with active duty GIs demonstrating on Armed Forces Day, 1971

Author David Zeiger with active duty GIs demonstrating on Armed Forces Day, 1971

The following article first appeared online at CommonDreams.org and is republished here. David Zeiger is an award-winning filmmaker and creator of Sir! No Sir!, a documentary about the GI resistance during the Vietnam War. Zeiger is an initiator of Refuse Fascism. This article refers to the documentary The Vietnam War by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, which PBS just finished running as a series. Revcom.us will have more on that film in the near future.—Revcom editors

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License


 

How many times have you heard, or even said yourself, something like this:

It was beyond cruel what was done to Viet Nam vets. I protested the war but not the soldiers who’d been thru hell.

That’s a comment made on my Facebook page when I posted Jerry Lembcke’s very insightful review of Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s series, The Vietnam War. Lembcke points out that the series promotes the established narrative that for Vietnam vets, the experience of coming home to a “hostile” public was “more traumatic than the war itself.” As I will discuss here, Lembcke, a Vietnam veteran and Associate Professor Emeritus at Holy Cross College, has dedicated much of his life to countering and disproving that narrative.

Now take a close look at the above statement. I protested the war but not the soldiers who’d been thru hell. The implication is, of course, that while this person didn’t do it, others must have “protested the soldiers,” referring to the ubiquitous stories of soldiers and veterans being harassed, hounded, called baby killers and spat on by a variety of protesters and, as the stories usually go, “long haired hippies.” Actually, this particular comment was part of a string of responses to someone who claimed he was “urinated on while in uniform.”

That the returning Vietnam veterans were “spat on and called baby killers” has now reached the level of gospel truth, most distressingly among those who were themselves part of the very movement being vilified by those claims. No one saw or was a party to such attacks, yet everyone “knows” it happened. Someone must have done it, or why would so many people claim it was done to them?

Why indeed. Answering that one question sheds a lot of light on how and why the relationship between the antiwar movement and the veterans of that war has been widely, and very effectively, rewritten—a rewrite that has gone virtually unchallenged by those who were there and who, frankly, know better. Today, four generations after the Vietnam War, the mythology of mistreated veterans continues to play a profoundly powerful role in stifling protest against America’s wars in the name of “supporting the troops.” And with Donald Trump threatening to “Completely destroy North Korea” while unleashing the military in the Middle East, nothing could be more urgent than confronting that myth.

First, some personal background. From 1970 to 1972, I was on the staff of the Oleo Strut, a GI Coffeehouse in Killeen, Texas, just outside of Ft. Hood, home to tens of thousands of Vietnam returnees who still had six months or more left to serve. The Oleo Strut, like dozens of GI coffeehouses near bases around the country, was a place where soldiers could find literature about the antiwar and Third World liberation movements, discuss and debate the war with both civilians and fellow GIs, and, most significantly, build their own movement against the war and the military. For two years I helped them distribute their underground paper, The Fatigue Press, with a monthly press run of 5,000. In 1971, I helped plan and organize an “Armed Farces Day” demonstration against the war right outside the gates of Ft. Hood that over two thousand GIs participated in.

Statistics and a wealth of documentary evidence from that time show that my experience at Ft. Hood was the norm, not the exception. The GI Movement of 1968-1973 was so all-pervasive that Col. Robert Heinl famously wrote that it had “infected the entire armed services.” Historian James Lewes has documented over 500 different GI underground newspapers (available online at the Wisconsin Historical Society), along with dozens of organizations from GIs United Against the War to clandestine Black Panther chapters in the military. A 1972 study commissioned by the Department of Defense found that 51% of all troops in Vietnam had engaged in “some form of protest,” from wearing a peace sign on uniforms, to desertion (over 500,000 “Incidents of desertion” in the course of the war), demonstrations, and outright mutiny (including the widespread practice of “fragging”—troops killing their own officers). And by 1972 Vietnam Veterans Against the War was a highly visible, major force across the country. The widespread picture of a military full of soldiers “doing their duty” while privileged civilians protested and hurled insults at them is, to put it bluntly, a lie.

In 2005, at the height of the Iraq war, I made the film Sir! No Sir! That film, broadcast in over 200 countries around the world, told the story of the GI Movement, a story that had been erased from just about every history of the Vietnam War. In Sir! No Sir!, Jerry Lembcke makes the point that the reality of thousands of GIs and veterans opposing the war had been replaced by the myth of hippies spitting on them, and it was that contention that drew the ire and attacks from pro-war veterans who hounded several critics who had praised the film.

But Lembcke is the only person I am aware of who has thoroughly researched the claims of veterans being spat on and the broader insistence that they were shunned and attacked by the antiwar movement. He wrote about his findings in his 1998 book, The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, a must-read for everyone who wants to know how veterans were actually treated by the antiwar movement. Here are just a few tidbits of what his research revealed.

To begin with, over the entire course of the war there is not a shred of documentary evidence that any spitting incidents occurred. No articles in newspapers or magazines, no letters to the editor, no television news stories, no FBI reports, no arrests or complaints filed with police. Nothing. Not even Stars and Stripes, voice of the military, reported on any spitting incidents. And in an era that was heavily documented with photographs, including by the GIs themselves (Lembcke points out that Pentax cameras were sold at PXs and were the camera of choice among the troops, not unlike cell phones today), not one photo of a veteran being spat on exists.

The stories that are told almost always happen in public, usually at airports and coming from crowds of demonstrators whose goal is to humiliate the returning troops. We are told that commanding officers warned GIs they’d be spat on when they returned home, that they should throw away their uniform to protect themselves. Yet no one alerted the cops, or military authorities, or the press? We’re talking about assault here. Wouldn’t the FBI, whose goal throughout the nineteen sixties was to thwart and undermine the antiwar movement, have arrested at least one spitter? There were, if the stories are to be believed, hundreds—even thousands—of them. And what about the press? Soldiers at airports being routinely abused and spat on would certainly have gotten to the media, who would, as Lembcke points out, “been camping in the lobby of the San Francisco airport, cameras in hand, just waiting for a chance to record the real thing—if, that is, they had any reason to believe that such incidents might occur.”

The simple fact is that between 1965 and 1975 no one was claiming to have been spat on. Okay, so maybe they were spat on metaphorically, as the increasingly popular expression goes. I have seen several people who initially claim they were spat on, when challenged, change the story to a version of “Well, I wasn’t literally spat on, but I may as well have been.” When the gentleman who claimed on my Facebook post to have been urinated on was challenged by several people, his story became “I ducked into a bar to get away from the jerks.” Who the “jerks” were was never explained.

But again, that’s not what vets were saying back in the day. As Lembcke writes, “A U.S. Senate study, based on data collected in August 1971 by Harris Associates, found that 75 percent of Vietnam era veterans polled disagreed with the statement, ‘Those people at home who opposed the Vietnam War often blame veterans for our involvement there.’ Ninety-nine percent of the veterans polled described their reception by close friends and family as friendly, while 94 percent said their reception by people their own age who had not served in the armed forces was friendly. Only 3 percent of returning veterans described their reception as ‘not at all friendly.’” (Emphasis added)

And just like the spitting stories, there is no documentary evidence of antiwar activists screaming “baby killer!” at soldiers and veterans. In fact, as every activist who looks honestly at their history can attest, it was the government and military machine that was consistently targeted, not the soldiers. “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?!” was one of the most popular chants, until it was Richard Nixon doing the killing.

So where did this idea of vets being called “baby killer” come from? A plausible source is the My Lai massacre poster. In March of 1968, over 500 unarmed civilians—men, women, and children—were systematically gunned down by a company of GIs in the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division. The military covered up the My Lai massacre for over a year until it was exposed by journalist Seymour Hersh. Caught in their cover-up, the military indicted 22 soldiers and Lt. Calley, the officer on the scene, for the murders. It was the military, not the movement, who “blamed the troops” when the results of their murderous policies were exposed.

In the wake of My Lai, the poster produced by the antiwar movement featured a horrific photograph of bodies piled up in the village. There were only two lines of text: “And babies? And babies.”

I know this powerful poster well because we had it in the Oleo Strut and reproduced it in the Fatigue Press to be seen by thousands of soldiers. Why? Because it embodied the criminal nature of the war they were forced to fight. I imagine some people took it personally, but it should go without saying that the intent was never to accuse all soldiers of being baby killers, but to confront them with the hard reality of the war and bring them into the movement. Should we, in the name of “Honoring the troops,” not have exposed and condemned the My Lai massacre?

Were there angry debates about the war, from dinner tables to street corners to campuses? Absolutely. Were there demonstrations outside military bases, as the purveyors of spitting stories complain about? Of course—but, as in my own experience, those demonstrations were more often than not led by veterans and active duty soldiers who targeted the government, not their fellow GIs. Did antiwar activists argue with everyone, including veterans, that the United States was engaged in a criminal, genocidal invasion that targeted civilians? Most definitely, as well they should have. Did those arguments at times get more than a bit personal (“You support genocide!”)? Yes they did, and understandably so. That was the nature of the times, and the urgency of ending the slaughter that was the Vietnam War.

In one report I read recently, a veteran described how isolated and uncomfortable he felt at the college he attended. He couldn’t express his opinions in discussions about Vietnam, despite his service. It turns out the college he attended was Berkeley, and he supported the war. I was struck by this, because anyone who openly supported the war at Berkeley was bound to be verbally pummeled. It would be kind of like advocating slavery at an NAACP convention. But his discomfort most likely had nothing to do with the fact that he was a veteran, it was his support for the war that was under attack.

And that’s exactly the point. The debate in society was about the war, and veterans were as much a part of that debate as everyone else, if not more so. Veterans were not a monolithic group. Those who opposed the war, and there were thousands, were welcomed with open arms by the antiwar movement, becoming a leading force in the country as Vietnam Veterans Against the War. It was veterans, particularly in VVAW, who exposed most vividly the policies of the government and military—carpet bombing, free fire zones, body count, and the unprecedented use of napalm and Agent Orange. These were the official weapons and strategies employed by the U.S. in Vietnam. And it was those strategies that made Vietnam a genocidal war filled with the atrocities so vehemently, and rightly, denounced by the antiwar movement.

So what happened? How did “The reception from my peers was friendly” get turned into “I was spat on and traumatized?” This is the heart of the matter, and the question Lembcke devotes most of his book to answering. The short answer is that it was the result of a highly effective, decades long campaign by many forces in society bent on casting blame for America’s defeat in the war not on the government and the nature of the war itself, but on the supposed “betrayal” of the soldiers by the antiwar movement. By turning veterans into victims of angry mobs of protesters, those seeking more wars of conquest hoped to isolate and suppress any opposition in the name of “Supporting the troops.” And no one did more to advance that cause than Ronald Reagan.

Although the charge against the antiwar movement of “Disloyalty to the troops” was pushed by Richard Nixon as early as 1969, the spitting stories didn’t fully emerge until the mid-1980s, fifteen years after the war, which is itself strong evidence of their mythical nature. Most significantly, they sprang up while the Reagan administration was secretly funding reactionary armies in Latin America and railing against what he called the “Vietnam Syndrome”—the reluctance of most Americans to support sending troops into Third World countries. Shaming the antiwar movement was key to that campaign, and the spitting stories, eagerly told by a handful of pro-war veterans (the 3 percent of the above survey), did the trick.

Hollywood did their part as well, producing a wave of fantasy revenge films starting in the late seventies. Top of the heap was Sylvester Stallone’s wildly popular First Blood (1982) and Rambo: First Blood II (1985), in which a bulked-up, testosterone-filled caricature of a Vietnam vet single-handedly takes out his revenge first on an uncaring America, then on the bloodthirsty Vietnamese. First Blood featured the absurd scenario of Rambo, a former Green Beret and highly trained killer, whining that “hippies” spat on him at an airport. Those hippies sure were a powerful bunch!

The spitting stories hit their zenith when America did send large numbers of troops overseas, to the Middle East, for the first Gulf war in 1990. Iraq had occupied Kuwait, claiming it was part of their territory (Kuwait’s borders had been created by British colonialists in the early Twentieth Century). As the first Bush administration was flailing around looking for a justification to invade, huge demonstrations were held across the country demanding no invasion. But once the troops were sent, the media was filled with stories of young boys fearful—not of facing battle, but of the folks back home. Once again, horror stories were spread about the treatment of Vietnam vets, along with dire warnings, including from protest leaders, to not repeat the “mistakes” of the nineteen sixties. Congressman John Murtha visited the troops in the Gulf and reported in the New York Times that troops repeatedly asked him whether the “folks back home” supported them. “The aura of Vietnam hangs over these kids,” he said. “Their parents were in it. They’ve seen all these movies. They worry, they wonder.” With that, the “reason” for the war became supporting “our boys in harm’s way.” The demonstrations evaporated, replaced by yellow ribbons.

And that, of course, has both continued and intensified to this day. I’m a baseball fan, and every Dodgers game I attend includes a “Salute to a hero” ceremony, with thousands of fans standing and cheering as the veteran’s deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan are ticked off. You have to be blind to not see that, in the name of “honoring” this individual, it is the wars themselves that are being cheered. But woe to anyone who would actually say that. It’s okay to oppose those wars, as long as you are very careful to never imply that soldiers are committing war crimes and always say “Thank you for your service.” Is it surprising in this atmosphere that there is, today, no antiwar movement?

As the saying goes, a lie repeated often enough becomes the “truth.” The Burns/Novick Vietnam War series ends with Nancy Biberman, [who had been] a Columbia University student activist, asking forgiveness for calling veterans “baby killers.” I’ll go out on a limb and say that Ms. Biberman never called veterans baby killers. Maybe she now believes that even mentioning the thousands of civilians killed by U.S. forces in Vietnam is tantamount to doing just that. Maybe she thinks that others must have done those horrible things we have heard about and every antiwar activist should now atone for their sins.

Both are a surrender to the lie. And both are, despite intentions, an open door to more wars and more slaughter.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/myth-media-the-ken-burns-vietnam-series-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Home-from-War War Stories: Myth, Media & the Ken Burns Vietnam Series

by Jerry Lembcke

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Stories of Vietnam veterans treated badly by war protesters proliferated in the years surrounding the Persian Gulf War of 1991. They were the inspiration for the “yellow ribbon campaign” intended to signal that Gulf War veterans would be treated differently. My book inquiring into the origins and veracity of the stories about disparaged Vietnam veterans came out in 1998. Little did I imagine at the time that, 20 years later, versions of the same stories would be figuring in remembrances appearing upon the 50th anniversaries of some important dates of the war in Vietnam.

The stories have reappeared, prominently, in the June 20 New York Times and the July 16 Washington Post. The Times piece was written by veteran Bill Reynolds who recounted his experience as an infantryman in a bloody Mekong Delta battle in 1967. Reynolds ended the account with the claim that he, “came home through San Francisco’s airport to throngs of hippies harassing me.” The Post story reported on a preview screening of Ken Burns’ forthcoming documentary on the war in Vietnam. Following the screening, veteran David Hagerman told Associated Press reporter Holly Ramer that his reception at the Seattle airport was so negative that he “walked into the nearest men’s room, took off my uniform, and threw it in the trash.”

Reynolds’s story strains belief. Civilian airlines brought troops back from Vietnam but they landed at military airbases like Travis. And there are no news reports or photographs from the war years that document his memory that “throngs of hippies” greeted veterans. Hagerman’s memory also raises eyebrows: the abandonment of military property—his uniform—was a serious offense. And despite the numerous versions of this story that circulate, there is no evidence such as photographs of bathroom trash cans draped with uniforms to support the claims. Military personnel had to be in uniform to fly home free making it additionally unlikely that uniforms were shed in the manner described.

Major news organizations have been taken to task before for giving voice to stories of denigrated veterans without tangible evidence. When the 25th anniversary of the war’s end was marked in 2000, a spate of them garnered similar press attention. News critic Jack Shafer, then editor of “The Fray” at Slate, criticized the Times and U.S. News and World Report for their reports, respectively, that Vietnam veterans had been spat on by protesters and had had to abandon their military clothing to avoid harassment.

When President Barak Obama spoke on Memorial Day, 2012 he recalled that Vietnam veterans had been “denigrated” upon their return home. “It was a national shame,” he said, “that should have never happened.” The President went on to pledge that the current generation of veterans would be treated better. The next day, Los Angeles Times editor Michael McGough criticized the president for having “ratified the meme of spat-upon veterans”—an edifying myth, McGough said, but still a myth.

The questionable accuracy of the hostile-homecoming stories is suggested by data from those times. A 1971 survey by Harris Associates conducted for the U.S. Senate reported 94% of the veterans polled saying their reception from their age-group peers was friendly.

The problem with repeating these stories of doubtful truth goes beyond the credibility of the journalism itself. It is, rather, the power of the stories to displace the public memory of the war itself and the nature of the opposition to it. The response to Reynolds’ article in the Times is a case in point: of the 159 online comments, 48 or 30% focused on just 13 of the 1,500 words that he had written: “I came home through San Francisco’s airport to throngs of hippies harassing me.” Many more of the comments were of the “thank you for your service” variety that are meaningful only with the backstory of supposedly hostile homecomings as context.

Most importantly, the war that Reynolds had written about, and we need to think about, was occluded by his veteran-as-victim anecdote, a storyline that readers could not resist.

The stories of Vietnam veterans defiled by activists has worked over the years to vilify the anti-war movement and even discredit the many veterans who joined the cause to end the war. The stories fed a belief that the war had been lost on the home front; from the 1980s through the 2016 election, conservative politicians ran for office on a conviction that radicals on campuses and liberals in Congress had sapped American will to win in Vietnam; it is the wellspring of the resentfulness that Donald Trump tapped for his run to the White House.

President Obama’s 2012 Memorial Day speech announcing Pentagon funding for a twelve-year series of Vietnam War anniversary commemorations renewed interest in the war and made the treatment of veterans the focus of that interest. Ken Burns’ film due out in September will keep the war in our conversations.

News coverage of the commemorations and the film will magnify those interests. Let’s hope that news coverage of the remembrances and reception to the film will temper the alluring but dubious reports of unfriendly veteran homecomings with references to more historically grounded research.

***

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

***

Jerry Lembcke is Associate Professor of Sociology at College of Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam, CNN’s Tailwind Tale: Inside Vietnam’s Last Great Myth and more recently Hanoi Jane: War, Sex, and Fantasies of Betrayal.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/440/remembering-donald-duncan-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Early Connection to Bob Avakian

Remembering Donald W. Duncan:
From Gung-Ho Green Beret to Outspoken Opponent of U.S. Crimes in Vietnam

May 23, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The death of Donald W. Duncan, a former Green Beret turned outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War, at 79, was noted on May 6 in a major New York Times obituary, which called him “one of the first returning veterans to portray the war as a moral quagmire” and a “fierce critic of the war” which he called barbaric and illegal. Duncan actually died in 2009, but his death only came to national attention recently.

Ramparts magazine cover, February 1966
Donald Duncan's story in Ramparts: "The Whole Thing Was a Lie: I Quit!"

Donald Duncan announced his opposition to the Vietnam War in a February 1966 front cover piece in Ramparts magazine titled “The Whole Thing Was a Lie: I Quit!” (pictured in the New York Times obit). Duncan wrote, “We weren’t preserving freedom in South Vietnam. There was no freedom to preserve. To voice opposition to the government meant jail or death.” He described witnessing torture, murders, and other atrocities carried out by the U.S. military in Vietnam. Duncan’s unequivocal exposure and condemnation of the war in Ramparts had a huge impact and played an important role in fueling the anti-Vietnam War movement. Bob Avakian, then a reporter and staffer at Ramparts, played a key role in developing this piece—a point to which we’ll return.

Duncan would become one of the most important opponents of the war from the ranks of the military. He was a frequent speaker at antiwar rallies and also helped organize key protests, including at the Democratic National Convention in 1968. He was also the military editor at Ramparts, the author of the antiwar memoir The New Legions, and a participant in the International War Crimes Tribunal on Vietnam, organized by philosopher Bertrand Russell and hosted by author and philosopher Jean Paul Sartre.

Donald Duncan and Bob Avakian

The fact that Duncan died in obscurity is itself a condemnation of this system. Duncan should have been celebrated for his contributions. What should also be known, as a critical part of his story, is the role played by Bob Avakian (BA) in helping to make this happen.

The following excerpt from Chapter 7 of BA’s memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist (pp. 144-145), explains his role in Duncan’s coming to grips with his experience in Vietnam and arranging for Duncan to publish his story in Ramparts. At the time, BA had taken a leave from UC Berkeley to be a full-time activist for the antiwar Vietnam Day Committee, including as part of its speakers bureau, and was also working at Ramparts:

One of the important stories we did at Ramparts concerned Donald Duncan. One day some people from the Berkeley anti-war movement came to me and said that they were talking to this guy who was a soldier who was questioning the Vietnam War very seriously and deeply. They wanted me to talk to him because I had done a lot of public speaking and study around the war. So I spent quite a bit of time over at their house talking to this guy, who turned out to be Donald Duncan.

Duncan had been a soldier in Vietnam—he was at the rank of master sergeant when he left Vietnam. He’d come back very disaffected by and very bothered by the war—questioning it and thinking it wasn’t right, but not that clear on a lot of things about it, understandably. I asked him a lot about his experiences in Vietnam and did what I could to help him come to a clearer understanding of the nature of the war and what was wrong with it. And at a certain point, I suggested to both the Ramparts editors and to Donald Duncan himself that they do an article in which he would tell his story and come out and denounce the war. This ended up being a front cover article, with a picture of Duncan in uniform and the headline “I quit!” At that time, there weren’t that many soldiers who’d been in the war itself and come out and publicly denounced it. Ramparts had a circulation of a couple hundred thousands or so, and this article had an impact even beyond the readers of Ramparts.

While I had argued with soldiers that the mere fact that they had been in Vietnam didn’t mean that they were right about the war, there is a truth that if you’ve “paid your dues” fighting there and then you come to say that it’s wrong, that has a big impact on many people—including for the reason that people who are more backward or conservative can’t say, “Oh, that’s just those disgruntled hippies who are cowards, who are draft dodgers, and all that.” As a matter of fact, I would, and did, uphold those people who dodged the draft as doing something truly heroic—not George W. Bush, but people who dodged the draft because they opposed the war, not just to save their own ass. People who evaded the draft, or outright refused to be drafted, or refused to go to Vietnam once they were in the military—people who did these things because they opposed the war—they were doing heroic things, definitely more heroic things than U.S. soldiers who, with all their destructive technology, were massacring and slaughtering the Vietnamese people. Nevertheless, for the U.S. population broadly, for someone who’d been in that war to speak out against it had a very big impact.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/joey-johnson-why-i-burn-the-flag-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Why I Burn the Flag
Notorious flag burner Joey Johnson on the fascist Donald Trump’s attacks on athletes
taking a knee during the national anthem

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Gregory “Joey” Johnson was the defendant in the U.S. Supreme Court flag-burning case Texas v. Johnson (1989) that decided burning the American flag in protest is constitutionally protected speech.

Right now, a lot of people are saying that Trump’s fixation on the flag, and demanding that athletes stand for the national anthem, is an expression of Trump’s racism and white supremacy. “Trump doesn’t care about the suffering of Black people; he doesn’t care about all the police terror.” That’s ALL TRUE! In fact, he is actively working to intensify white supremacy and the overall suffering of Black people, and especially the police terror and mass incarceration directed against Black people, as well as emboldening these vile white supremacist mobs.

But there is more going on. Trump recently went before the United Nations and threatened to “totally destroy North Korea”—threatening the nuclear annihilation of North Korea and its people! He is threatening the people of Iran and the people of Venezuela. Trump and Pence and the class of imperialists they are heading up really need people to hate who they are told to hate, and really get into the jingoism and be obedient and “follow the flag” into the next horrific war for empire.

A lot of the athletes protesting have been making the point: they are taking a knee to protest the oppression of Black people and the police terror going on. And that they in no way mean to reflect on the men and women in the U.S. military and their sacrifices. And it has been essentially made a precondition to be part of the conversation that people first say how patriotic they are, how much they support the military, how this has nothing to do with disrespecting the flag.

But wait a minute! Stop the train! Shouldn’t someone tell these athletes, and people broadly in society—including the soldiers in the U.S. military—the TRUTH? Don’t people need to know that there is not a separation between so many of the outrages they are protesting, police brutality and murder, mass incarceration, the oppression of Black people and other people of color—and the American flag? Because the American flag has flown over all that oppression. And don’t people need to know that what the U.S. military does on a global scale is oppression and slaughter, a million times worse than what the police do every day—especially in Black and Brown communities across the U.S.?

It is right for people to take a stand (or a knee!) and shine a light on howling injustices. But people have to go deeper, to the root of the problem. That is the work that Bob Avakian (BA) has been doing for decades. BA is the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and a movement for an actual revolution in this country, someone who has brought forward a whole new framework for human emancipation. And as he says in his new talk, “The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us”:

While it is right and necessary to unite with people broadly in opposing the injustices and outrages committed by those who rule this country, and while this has taken on heightened importance with the coming to power of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, it is a basic truth that without breaking with American chauvinism—without confronting the very real horror of what this country has been, and what it has done, here and all over the world, from its founding to the present—and without coming to deeply hate this, it is not possible, in the final analysis, to retain one’s own humanity and act in the highest interests of all humanity.

And what about disrespecting the flag? Well, I’ll tell you why I have burned the American flag in protest—and why I am proud of having burned it, and will do it again; why the Revolution Club burns the flag; and why we believe many other people should do the same. The truth is America was NEVER great! And the American flag is a blood-soaked rag of oppression and empire—soaked in the blood of millions of Native Americans who this country committed genocide against and the blood of millions of Africans, brought to America in chains and whipped and driven and raped. Was America great when it stole half of Mexico, or colonized the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico? What about the hundred years of open Jim Crow segregation against Black people and the more than 4,000 lynchings of Black people. Was it great then?

Here’s a challenge: spin the globe and try and find a country the U.S. has not invaded and occupied or carried out a coup in, or backed a monstrous regime in. In just the last three decades, the U.S. has waged repeated wars for empire—invasions, occupations, torture, and predator drone attacks in an arc of countries across the Middle East, repeatedly invading and occupying Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands and kicking off a civil war in Iraq that has virtually destroyed that nation and helped spawn ISIS. Other Middle Eastern countries have been swept into the maelstrom and the toll in dead, wounded, and people driven from their homes in the region is now over six million.

I burn the American flag because, as Bob Avakian says, “American Lives Are NOT More Important Than Other People’s Lives.” (BAsics 5:7) A statement that should so obviously be seen as true but which completely conflicts with the way that people in this country are indoctrinated to think.

And I think soldiers in the U.S. military, just like everyone else, should be told the truth. As Bob Avakian says in his new talk:

The military of this country is not a body of heroes who should be thanked for their service, but a machinery of perpetual war crimes and crimes against humanity, repeatedly carrying out slaughter and destruction on a mass scale in the service of a system literally built on blood and bones.

And he adds:

And as for people who should be appreciated, those from this military who should be supported are those who have broken with it, especially those who have come over to the side of opposition to these crimes and the system this military enforces with its depraved violence and massive destruction.

I want to be absolutely clear: I am really excited to see all these professional athletes taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the oppression of Black people, and other oppressed people, especially at the hands of police terror. That is a very important beginning!

But I do believe people who, righteously, are calling out Trump for being a racist and white supremacist—we need to pull the lens back further. And when it comes to the Trump/Pence regime’s threats of war against oppressed people across the world—in North Korea, or Iran, or Venezuela, or all the countries in the Middle East where the U.S. is carrying out horrific destruction—you are needed to call that out, you are needed to be challenging all that, the illegitimacy of all that, as well. Humanity is urgently calling on us to go further, NOW, and people with diverse viewpoints who can see the dangers of the Trump/Pence regime should take up the call from RefuseFascism.org to drive them out, through massive mobilizations beginning November 4. I know why the capitalist-imperialist CNN and MSNBC are not doing that, why they say, “Well Mr. Trump is the commander in chief, he makes the decisions about going to war,” because to them fascism is a matter of taste, and they would rather keep the American empire with Trump, than lose it. But we are not them. And we should stand with the people of the world!

Joey Johnson can be contacted at joey4revolution@gmail.com.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/509/fascist-pig-trump-and-his-rascist-chauvinist-rant-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Fascist Pig Trump and His Racist, Chauvinist Rant on NFL Players: This Is What His "Make America Great Again" Is Really About

by Carl Dix

September 24, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Klucker-in-Chief, the Grand Dragon of the Land of the Thief and Home of the Slave, has once again vomited out his racist filth all over the world. He has made even clearer his absolute contempt for Black people and shown again that he needs to arouse the most backward, would-be lynchers to roar for blood. THIS is what his rule is all about; this is what he is trying to consolidate and expand.

Here’s what he said:

Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired.” You know, some owner is going to do that. He’s going to say, “That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.” And that owner, they don’t know it, they don’t know it, they’re friends of mine, many of them, they don’t know it, they’ll be the most popular person for a week, they’ll be the most popular person in this country because that’s a total disrespect of our heritage, that’s a total disrespect of everything that we stand for, OK? Everything that we stand for....

The NFL ratings are down massively. Now, the number-one reason happens to be that they like watching what’s happening on, you know, with yours truly. They like what’s happening. Because, you know, today if you hit too hard, right, they hit too hard, 15 yards, throw him out of the game. They had that last week. I watched for a couple of minutes and two guys just really a beautiful tackle, boom, 15 yards. The referee gets on television, his wife is sitting at home, she’s so proud of him, they’re ruining the game. Right? They’re ruining the game. Hey, look, that’s what they want to do, they want to hit, OK? They want to hit. But it is hurting the game.

Think about this. He starts with a sexist slur, goes on to demand that anyone who questions blind obedience and dares to raise their voice in protest be denied their right to make a living, and then ends by attacking even the ineffectual efforts the National Football League has been forced to take to rein in the horrible epidemic of brain damage among the players that has been dragged into the light of day. This pig dares to oink this out the very day that it came out that Aaron Hernandez, formerly of Trump’s beloved New England Patriots, had been suffering from devastating brain damage when he murdered a friend and then later committed suicide in prison. This pig does not care that he makes clear that Black people—and let’s be clear, 75 percent of the National Football League is African American—this pig makes clear that Black people for him are ONLY bodies, ONLY means to his own enjoyment... and HIS enjoyment, and the enjoyment of those like him, comes best when it comes with the literal destruction of the brains of Black people. THIS is what he means when he says “Make America Great Again.”

If you have made your peace with three or seven more years of this lynch-mob master, of this lunatic with his finger at the nuclear button, what have you made your peace with?

It was righteous that Colin Kaepernick started his protest last year, refusing to stand for the pre-game national anthem because he was "not going to stand up to show pride in the flag of a country that oppresses Black people and people of color." It's good that other NFL players, and athletes in other sports, have done similar protests—and very important and positive that now, in response to Trump's attack, many more are protesting. This is a good example for everyone, something to be learned from by the whole movement against the fascist regime.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/anthem-protest-by-nfl-players-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Widespread, Defiant Anthem Protests by NFL Players in Response to Trump

September 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Ravens take a knee during the National Anthem.

Members of the Baltimore Ravens (above) and the Jacksonville Jaguars (right). At the game in London between them, 27 players knelt during the U.S. anthem.

On Friday, Donald Trump attacked the players in the NFL who are not standing during the national anthem in protest of police murders and brutality and social injustice. In a speech in Alabama, Trump said that “If someone disrespects our flag, get that son of a bitch off the field. Out. He’s fired.”

At almost all the NFL games on Sunday, many players and others defiantly responded to Trump by protesting during the anthem in one way or another:

As this is being written, two games have yet to be played this week: the Oakland Raiders at the Washington Redskins tonight, and the Dallas Cowboys at the Arizona Cardinals Monday night. It is reported that the entire offensive line of the Raiders, all Black players, are going to do some sort of protest during the anthem. And Marshawn Lynch of the Raiders will be sitting during the anthem as he has done all season. The first NFL game of the week, between the SF 49ers and the LA Rams, was held before Trump made his comment. But in that game, Eric Reid of the 49ers knelt during the anthem as he has been doing for the past two seasons—last year alongside Colin Kaepernick. And the owner of the 49ers¸ Jed York, called Trump’s statement “callous” and “offensive.”

Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland A’s became the first Major League Baseball player to take the knee during the anthem when he did so at the game Saturday in Oakland, as a white teammate put his hand on Maxwell’s shoulder in support.

This past week has seen a firestorm of opposition to Trump from the world of sports. Sportscaster Jemele Hill of ESPN tweeted out that Trump is a “white supremacist.” The White House called for her to be fired. Stephen Curry, of this year’s NBA champion Golden State Warriors, said he was not going to attend any team celebration at the White House. This prompted Trump to say he was disinviting the Warriors. Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James responded by calling Trump a “bum” and saying, “We’ve got Jemele Hill and Colin Kaepernick and all these people are speaking up, and it’s for the greater cause.”

Now, in a powerful, defiant show of unity, players throughout the NFL have turned on Trump. This is a very exciting and welcomed development in the sports world, with reverberations reaching and inspiring people in a way that has not been seen since the 1960s Black power and anti-Vietnam war movement, when athletes like Muhammad Ali, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos risked their careers to make powerful statements that inspired and contributed to advancing the mass struggles to stop the Vietnam War and against the oppression of Black people in this country.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/10-reasons-to-disrespect-the-anthem-en.html#reasonfive

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017


Warning: file_get_contents(../a/510/10-reasons-to-disrespect-the-anthem-en.html#reasonfive): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/revweb/public_html/quick/511en.php on line 157

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/bob_avakian-the-problem-the-solution-and-the-challenges-before-us-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

August 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Listen

Download PDF of "The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us"

New Talk by Bob Avakian

The following is the text of a talk given by Bob Avakian (BA) to a Party working group in the summer of this year (2017). The audio of this talk is available here.

 

The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us

Touching on Essential Questions Concerning the Actual History of this Country, The Nature of the Capitalist-Imperialist System We Live Under, The Consequences of This for Humanity, The Way Forward to a World Free of the Unnecessary Suffering and Horrors Bound Up With All This, and the Breakthroughs That Must Be Made Now

 

 

Part 1: Breaking with American Chauvinism and the Killing Confines of Capitalism

Contrary to all the mythology that is constantly perpetrated and perpetuated through the dominant institutions of this society and all of its spokespeople, the wealth of this country and the situation of the people within it is not owing to some great freedoms that are particular to this country and to the great innovativeness that this freedom allows and encourages. To get to the reality of what this really rests on we could go back to Marx, speaking about the primitive accumulation of capitalism on the basis of horrific plunder and unbelievable exploitation of masses of people in far-flung parts of the world. This provided the foundation on which the accumulation of capitalism began, coming out of feudal society, and the basis on which whatever innovation was carried out ultimately rested. Marx also spoke of the “rosy dawn” of capitalism with great irony. In the book Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones, I quoted Jack Weatherford who wrote Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World. He begins with this statement: “The capitalists [speaking of the United States, in particular, but the capitalists in Europe and other places as well—these capitalists] built the new structure on the twin supports of the slave trade from Africa to America and the piracy of American silver.” And then he goes on to quote Marx about the rosy dawn: “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.” This is a basic and irrefutable truth.

We hear in connection with all these notions of the great freedom and innovativeness of people in this country and how the freedom allows for this innovativeness—we hear a lot about the expression “American exceptionalism.” Now, when first hearing this term you might think...you might not recognize that there is actually a certain ironic twist to this. You might think: “Yeah, well, that makes sense, ‘American exceptionalism,’ we have this good democracy here and people have a lot of freedom, but of course there are some things that ran really contrary to that in the history of the country—like the genocide against the Indians and all the slavery and everything else. Yeah that makes sense, it’s an exception, it’s a democracy but it’s kind of an exception because it has all these negative features associated with it.” And then, lo and behold, you discover that’s not what it means—that American exceptionalism means America is exceptionally good, that even in comparison to all the other “capitalist democracies” in the world, there’s something special, the shining city on the hill, as Reagan, for example, invoked it. You know, this image that there’s something particularly and specially good about America and its people. And you have to think: what an irony. This is completely upside down. If anybody wants to talk about exception, it should be talked about in the way I was just referring to it—that here are some real negative things here that stand in sharp conflict to “our democracy” which we still haven’t yet overcome. But no, it means the opposite—we’re exceptionally good.

And think of the level of American chauvinism you have to have internalized not to vomit upon hearing that. Let’s look a little bit more at the actual founding cornerstones and the long shadow of slavery in this country along with the genocidal dispossession and rounding up into concentration camps called reservations of the native population, the original population.

The treatment of Black people in this country, the horrific oppression of Black people from the time of slavery down to today—if you want to talk about a special characteristic of America, that’s one of the most distinguishing. And that slavery has been built into the very foundation: it is a cornerstone of the entire society, and its shadow continues to cast itself over the entire society, the entire country and everything about it, right down to today. If you look at the founding documents of this country—for example, if you look at the Declaration of Independence—what are the indictments that are made against the King of England in declaring independence? Among them is the following: “He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.” Now, think about this. Here are people who repeatedly broke treaties with these very Native Americans, the original inhabitants, who never in fact kept a single treaty they made with them, who drove them repeatedly off the land—would grant them land but, “Oh, wait a minute, there’s gold there.” So they have to be uprooted again and put on these Trail of Tears marches where thousands died over and over and over again. And then, in turn, we hear these people described as “the merciless Indian Savages” whom the King of England is inciting against these settlers. This is one of the great crimes of the King of England according to the Declaration of Independence. Again, reality is turned completely on its head.

And then of course it goes on and talks about how the King of England has forced the slave trade upon the European settlers of this territory—as if somehow none of them, including Thomas Jefferson, wanted to have slaves. Never mind the fact that he engineered the Louisiana Purchase to greatly expand the territory that would be slave-based. Somehow supposedly the King of England is responsible for forcing slavery on people like Jefferson and these other founders.

Or look at the Constitution of the United States. Not only the infamous three-fifths clause which declared that the slaves were three-fifths human beings, to be counted as three-fifths for the purposes of taxation and representation; but even such things as the electoral college were in fact engineered in that way, established, and established in their particular forms, as concessions to the slave states. Recently in the New York Times, in a special supplement on the Constitution on July 2, 2017, Garry Wills went into how the Second Amendment itself was not about individuals owning arms—that’s not what was being... that was not the concern that was being addressed. It was, in particular, the right of the slave states to have militias to hunt down slaves and put down slave insurrections. So right there, again, in the very founding of this country’s basic documents, and in the way this has extended its shadow right down to today, the horrific oppression of the original inhabitants, and then of Black people—or of Black people along with that—it’s right at the core of what this country is about, from the beginning to today. The fact is that white supremacy and its continuation in different, but always horrific, forms has been built into the very foundation and structures, the social relations and the culture of this system in this country and is an indispensable part of its ongoing cohesion and functioning.

Now, in light of all this, you might think it’s a little ridiculous when people say something like: “Fascism couldn’t really happen here. We have all these institutional protections against it, and, once again, we are these exceptional people. So how could fascism happen here? It couldn’t happen here.” Oh no, it couldn’t happen here. Not in a country founded on slavery and genocide and steeped in white supremacy as well as male supremacy, manifest destiny and white man’s burden. Oh no, it couldn’t happen in a country like that. And it is important to point out about all these things—the white supremacy, the male supremacy, the American chauvinism, the manifest destiny, the white man’s burden—all of these have been, and remain, intertwined and mutually reinforcing.

If you turn to the book, for example, The Rebirth of a Nation by Jackson Lears—which focuses on the era when the U.S. really pushed itself out into the world as a colonial power, gobbling up the Philippines as well as Puerto Rico, Guam and Cuba, and entering onto the world stage on a level of thuggery previously unseen—he talks about how all this was bound up with a certain sense of male identity and male assertiveness, as well as white supremacy, in rather grotesque forms, unvarnished, the way we’re seeing it coming back now, unvarnished, under the Trump/Pence fascist regime. For example, he cites the woman, Rebecca Latimer Felton, who was the wife and campaign manager, not of a dog catcher, but of a U.S. Congressman, who said that one of the great problems in American society was that men were not providing adequate attention to “white women’s vulnerability to the Black rapists” who were supposedly roaming the rural South. “The fault, she declared, lay with southern white men. They had failed to put a ‘sheltering arm about innocence and virtue.’” She concluded that “if lynching was required ‘to protect women’s dearest possession from the ravening human beasts—then I say lynch, a thousand times a week, if necessary.’” The wife and campaign manager of a U.S. Congressman.

Or let’s look at another statement that shows the horrendous dimensions of this and the way in which all of this is intertwined. In particular, here is the male chauvinism, the patriarchy, the misogyny. Lears writes: “Behind all the economic calculations and all the lofty rhetoric about civilization and progress was a primal emotion—a yearning to reassert control, a masculine will to power.” In particular, this was speaking to the sense that the elite, the wealthy men, had become soft as a result of their riches. And so what was said was necessary to deal with that? War—this would be a masculinizing effect on these feminized wealthy effete men. This was the way that they could experience regeneration.

Or look at the following comment, speaking about the cult of courage and an urge to warfare: “Here,” Lears writes, “was the germ of the worship of force, the secular religion that underlay the regeneration of masculine will.”

And here’s something very interesting in light of the tactics and strategic approach of U.S. imperialism in invading and occupying countries these days. If you think back, for example, to the first Iraq invasion in 1991, Colin Powell said: “We’re not imperialists, we don’t invade countries in order to occupy them, we don’t engage in permanent occupation. We just democratize them and then leave them to the people to run themselves.” Well, this is a well-worn approach of the imperialists, which was being applied as far back as the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Lears speaks to this. He speaks to the approach that the American empire would depend only in part on formal acquisition of foreign colonies, which it did occupy, for example once again, the Philippines. “More commonly it would involve periodic military intervention (rather than permanent occupation) and support for governments friendly to American policies. This indirect approach [to colonialism, I’m adding] would make it easier for American imperialists to wrap themselves in exceptionalist rhetoric and claim moral superiority to their European counterparts.” Here we are again with American exceptionalism, ravishing and plundering colonialism with a particular twist that enables them to say: “Oh no, we’re not colonialists like those Europeans.”

And finally, from Lears he talks about how the resistance of the Philippine people to U.S. occupation was taken by the Americans, including the soldiers of the American imperium, was taken as an affront to white identity and to white being.

So you can see how all of this is all intertwined and mutually reinforcing. And then there’s something that should also be recognized, especially in light of the present situation. There is a direct line and deep connection between all this, and the way in which all this is intertwined and mutually reinforcing—a direct line and direct connection between all this and the virulent hatred and repressive actions directed today against the fight for the recognition of the humanity and the rights of LGBT people.

It is crucial that people be won, including through struggle waged well, to look squarely into the reality of what this system is built on and how it really works, and come to understand why the horrors it causes cannot be reformed away. Here I can only touch on the actual reality of what this system is, how it operates and why, and the terrible consequences of this for humanity. In the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, this is discussed more fully. In THE NEW COMMUNISM, the basic contradictions and dynamics of the system are dug into in some depth. And there is continual exposure and analysis fleshing out all of this on the website revcom.us. But to put this in kind of concentrated way, and what is the actual history and foundation and reality of this country, let’s look at BAsics 1, 2, 3, and 4, beginning with BAsics 1:

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

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

The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.

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

 

Now again, this might sound like exaggerated or extreme descriptions. But in fact, it is an accurate description of the reality of today and the whole historical development leading up to it, in terms of this country and its role in the world. As I said elsewhere, many examples have been given to bring to life more fully the reality of this, and much analysis has been made of how and why this system cannot operate on any other basis than this. For example, in the book, THE NEW COMMUNISM. But, as a shorthand way of saying this, it can simply be stated that there is not a single thing that finds its way into the consumption markets of the U.S. and similar countries which has not gone through, in its chain of production, horrific forms—the most vicious exploitation and oppression—in far flung parts of the world, in particular, the Third World. Not a thing.

We can go to another statement by Marx: “Capitalism came into the world with blood dripping from every pore.” And it has maintained itself down to the present day, on an even greater scale, on exactly the same basis. This country and this system is most emphatically not a force for good in the world, but on the contrary the greatest cause of unnecessary suffering for the masses of humanity.

Now, let’s look at another one of the narratives they like to run out to talk about the great nature of this country and of this system of capitalism—job creation. “The capitalists are not exploiting people, they’re creating jobs. If they go to Indonesia or Guatemala or Haiti or Pakistan or Bangladesh or India and have children, or even adults, working for less than a dollar a day—why that’s better than the alternative. If it weren’t for these capitalists going there, these people wouldn’t have a way to have a livelihood at all. So, yes, maybe the conditions are not as good as you and I might like them to be, but they’re much better than they would be otherwise.” This is a typical rationalization, it’s one of the most disgusting rationalizations. And it’s a complete tautology. It amounts to saying: Under the system of capitalist-imperialism, the choices people have range from bad to worse. And it’s a complete lie. If you step away and out of the confines of the self-contained logic of the capitalist system, think about it: The raw materials are there, the people are there—that’s what you need to develop an economy. The question is, on what terms and through which means are you developing that economy with those people and those raw materials?

Once again we’re back to the question that I focused on centrally in THE NEW COMMUNISM: through which mode of production are things done? Capitalism is not the only way, and is certainly far from the best way, to “create jobs” and for people to have meaningful employment. It is possible to have a radically different economic system, the system of socialism, in which people’s work is not exploited for the benefit of cut-throat competing capitalists who are now cut-throat competing capitalists on a world scale, who immediately, as soon as they find it not profitable enough, stop creating those jobs in this country and go to another country where they create jobs, until they find another country where they can go and more ruthlessly exploit people. The people are there. That is the most important thing. And with the people it is possible now to have a radically different economic and social system which is not built on exploitation and oppression—which, in fact, moves to do away with every form of exploitation and oppression—the socialist system moving toward communism on a world scale, at which point all exploitation and oppression will have been eliminated.

So again, the question is: what’s the economic system underlying all this? Or, once again, through which mode of production are things done? Through an exploitative and oppressive system, or one which is moving to eliminate exploitation and oppression and unlocking and unleashing all the human potential in that direction and for that purpose?

Now, I’ve talked elsewhere and emphasized the anarchic workings of this system. Once more, let’s go back to Marx, who said about the system of capitalism: Its total disorder is its order. This is speaking to the anarchy of these different capitalists who, because of the internal nature, contradictions and dynamics of their own system—which, once again, is gone into in THE NEW COMMUNISM—but because of its very internal nature, its very intrinsic nature, its very internal contradictions and dynamics, is a system that rests on ruthless exploitation and ruthless competition between different units and aggregations of capital, competing intensely with each other today on a world scale and in a highly globalized way.

The point, the brutal reality...we hear, for example, all this from these high-tech billionaires and so on, talking about “epic fails” and the “creative destruction” of the way in which they come in and completely undermine the way things have been done and bring in new ways of doing things. And this is upheld as a great phenomenon in the world, this creative destruction. Even where you fail, you learn how to succeed at creating more creative destruction—in other words, more exploitation. And again, the brutal reality is that this disorder, this creative destruction, causes tremendous suffering on a world scale of people and of the environment, which this system and its internal dynamics have brought to the point where the very future and existence of humanity is seriously threatened. And then, on top of all that, there is a massive destruction brought about by the wars, the coups, and other bloody actions which are carried out in every part of the world to enforce this system’s oppressive rule.

The military of this country is not a body of heroes who should be thanked for their service, but a machinery of perpetual war crimes and crimes against humanity, repeatedly carrying out slaughter and destruction on a mass scale in the service of a system literally built on blood and bones. Once again, this may seem like an exaggeration or an extravagant claim, but look at the wars that have actually been carried out by this military, in the present day in the Middle East, and the horrific results of their invasions and occupations and everything this set loose. Or Vietnam. Or the coups they pulled off from Iran to Guatemala to Indonesia to Chile, which have cost the lives of literally more than a million people—just those coups and their consequences. This is no exaggeration. This is the reality that people have to be brought to confront.

And as for people who should be appreciated, those from this military who should be supported are those who have broken with it, especially those who have come over to the side of opposition to these crimes and the system this military enforces with its depraved violence and massive destruction. And depraved violence is a very apt description. You can go back to Vietnam, not only the massive bombing with chemical weapons—Agent Orange, napalm which literally sets fire to people’s flesh—but the My Lai massacre, which was not an aberration or an exception or a one-time deviation, but a repeated pattern by the U.S. military in Vietnam. The soldiers who became so degraded that they cut off the ears of the people they slaughtered and carried them around as trophies. This is the reality of those that the rulers of this country want people to celebrate as heroes. Because this is the nature of the military that these people are serving in and its role in the world.

Now, along with everything already spoken to in terms of the actual history of this country, as well as its role in the world right up to the present, the theory of government and the founding documents of this country—as articulated, for example in the Declaration of Independence—this theory of government is in fundamental conflict with reality. Let’s look at one of the most oft-quoted statements from the Declaration of Independence. And often you’ll hear people celebrating democracy who will quote this opening of the Declaration of Independence right after “When in the course of human events” and so on (I guess people still memorize this in school on some occasions), there’s this famous passage:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men... [Nota Bene, as they say: all men are created equal, note well] all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.

Now, I have to say there should be a certain prize given here, because it’s hard to conceive of packing more bullshit into such a small number of sentences. First of all, leave aside the part about “endowed by their creator.” Let’s leave aside the fact that there is no creator, there is no god, nobody is endowed with anything by a non-existent being. That’s the first point. But let’s leave that aside. Let’s move on to the core of this—that to secure these rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness)... by the way notice that in the Constitution “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is replaced with life, liberty and property, including that the slaves were property. But anyway, to secure these rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness “governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed.” Well, this completely flies in the face of the actual history of human beings. Human beings who evolved and lived in early communal societies were not marked by all the features of the kind of society that’s spoken to in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. They did not have the kind of oppressive class divisions within their own small societies that are taken for granted in the world today by the defenders of this system and those who don’t know better, even if they should. And the evolution of human beings from there to the present time did not take place through gatherings of the people to institute governments among them which derived their just powers from those who gathered together to create these governments.

Think back to the statement by Marx, describing the “rosy dawn” and what the primitive accumulation of capitalism rests on. The inhabitants, the original inhabitants, of the mines of Potosi in Latin America, who were literally worked to death in the mines— passing their flesh literally into the structures there—they were not governed by an association of people that had come together to choose this. The slaves who were hunted down in Africa... Yes, there was slavery in Africa—we have to speak to what’s raised by all these fascists and others—yes, there was slavery in Africa; yes, there was slavery among the original inhabitants of the Americas. But it was on a very small scale, part of the fabric of those societies. When slavery and genocide became tethered to the machinery and fed into the maws, the jaws of capitalist accumulation and exploitation, it became a whole other thing on a whole other horrendous level, involving and killing millions of people and grinding millions more to an early death. Those people did not come together and choose a government that derived its “just powers” from their decisions.

In the feudal societies of Europe and Japan and China, the serfs did not come together with the nobles and hold a conclave and decide upon the government of their choosing whose “just powers” derived from their decision and their consent.

Oftentimes, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, people did things out of necessity which led to great changes which they themselves did not anticipate and might not even have wanted. Now, I spoke in another work about people in Mexico, for example, thousands of years ago, who lived by hunting and gathering, and then by their own activity, used up many of the resources that they were depending upon, and also due to changes in the natural environment, they were forced to leave the area they were hunting and gathering in, and they went and settled by a river and began to carry out settled agriculture. This is just one of many examples of how this has happened repeatedly throughout the world. And then class differences of a very oppressive nature began to develop among them because of the new situation they were in. Some people were more favorably situated near a river—on more arable land, for a combination of factors—so polarization developed among them. It wasn’t that they sat down together and said: “Let us develop a society in which there’s polarization among us, in which some will thrive and others will suffer and in which those who thrive will exploit those who suffer so they will suffer more—this is what we choose to do as a way to be governed. And of course that government that we established for these purposes will derive its ‘just powers’ from our consent.” This is absolute nonsense. It completely flies in the face of reality. And it has nothing to do with the reality of the United States of America when it broke from England and established a different new country. The slaves were not part of any conclave, nor were the original inhabitants, the so-called Indians—they were not part of any conclave to establish a government deriving its “just powers” from their consent. The character of this society, the class divisions, the social relations in this society were not decided by people sitting down and having a meeting to discuss: “Okay, some people are going to be farmers, and some are going to be rich farmers and some are going to be poor farmers, and some are going to be indentured servants to these other people, and some are going to be slaves, and some are going to be dispossessed of everything they own, and during the course of the Civil War we’re going to start a westward expansion 90 years from now, but let’s plan it now. Ninety years from now we’re going to start a westward expansion to drive the remaining original inhabitants off their land, killing them in the process, suppressing them through warfare. And we’ll bring a bunch of Chinese in, force them to work on building the railroads so we can expand all the way to....” What kind of nonsense is this?! It has nothing to do with how the country was founded, how it developed, and what role it has played in the world right down to today.

These things arise out of the conflict between the necessity that people face and the means they devise to try to transform that necessity through a series of different societies, which are fundamentally founded on the relations that people—in the face of that necessity, and in the face of what they’ve inherited from previous generations—the relations they enter into to meet their material requirements of life, and the superstructure that arises on the basis of this—political institutions, political processes, ideology and culture—which serves those underlying economic relations which are not static and forever but continually change with changes in conditions, including the new productive forces that are brought forward through this process. This is how society has developed from the earliest emergence of human beings down to the present. And the important thing is that it was not predetermined to do so but it has come to a point where there are now the actual material conditions to do away with all these oppressive divisions and exploitative relations among human beings of every kind.

Besides what I’ve spoken to here, this is gone into in greater depth in Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, Part 1. And there is also a very good concentrated discussion of the basic principles that I’m discussing here in Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, Part 1, particularly in the section “How Does Human Society Actually Develop?”

The truth really does matter, and it is very important to insist on and struggle fiercely for the critical importance of actually following the truth wherever it leads—as opposed to the longing, all-too-common among liberals and “progressives”: “Please, can we put an end to these lies from Trump that make me uncomfortable and get back to the lies about this country that make me comfortable.” In the “Democracy” book, (Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?) I wrote: “[I]n all bourgeois democratic countries—and this is no exaggeration—from the very earliest age, through the educational system, the mass media and in other ways, the people are systematically misinformed and lied to about every significant question of current political and world affairs and of world history, and are systematically indoctrinated and imbued with an upside-down world view and errant methodology.” (That’s on page 190, for those who want to look at it.) This is obviously a very provocative statement, and it is as true as it is provocative. In fact, it is so provocative precisely because it is so profoundly true. That is, it seems outrageous precisely because people have been so systematically misinformed and misled.

I’ve already touched on some glaring examples of this, speaking to the actual history of this country and its role in the world. Some others will be spoken to through the course of this talk, and many, many other examples could be cited, including the lies and distortions by the dominant institutions and representatives of this system about the wars waged by this country, about socialism and the overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union and China, the Great Depression of the 1930s and how it was ended, World War 2 and how and why the U.S. emerged as the most powerful imperialist country after that war, what the situation is with Korea and why, what the ’60s was really about, the character and role of imperialist heads of state who are presented as great leaders like Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Churchill, and on and on and on.

While it is right and necessary to unite with people broadly in opposing the injustices and outrages committed by those who rule this country, and while this has taken on heightened importance with the coming to power of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, it is a basic truth that without breaking with American chauvinism—without confronting the very real horror of what this country has been, and what it has done, here and all over the world, from its founding to the present—and without coming to deeply hate this, it is not possible, in the final analysis, to retain one’s own humanity and act in the highest interests of all humanity.

Before moving to Point 2, I just want to make a clarification. In the Declaration of Independence, along with the point about inciting the slaves to carry out domestic insurrection against the slave owners and inciting the “Indian Savages” to make warfare against them (the colonists), the point about the King of England forcing slavery on the colonies was actually, I believe, in Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence but for whatever reasons did not make it into the final version. But nonetheless you can see Jefferson’s thinking there.

 

 

Part 2. The Decisive Importance of MethodScientific Method—in Understanding and Changing the World

First, we need to speak to the glaring lack of materialism that is so widespread and common in regards to what this system is, how it actually functions, why it functions as it does, and what the consequences and implications of this are. Here, again, we can refer back, for example, to the point I made earlier about the narrative of “job creation”—as opposed to the reality of ruthless exploitation. But this lack of materialism is, in fact, extremely glaring. This is what you find, instead of people basing themselves on the critical breakthrough that Marx made in establishing what is the foundation and what are the dynamics of human society in general, what are the fundamental dynamics—the relations between what the forces of production are at hand and therefore correspondingly how people enter into economic relations in order to utilize those productive forces, and on that basis, the superstructure that arises of politics, ideology and culture, and the back and forth, the dialectical relation between and contradictions and relations within, the economic system, between the forces and relations of production, and how those are constantly moving and changing, and in terms of the contradictions between the economic system and the superstructure of politics and ideology that develops on the foundation of this economic system and, in turn, reacts back upon it in certain ways.

This breakthrough has been there for the taking for more than 150 years, and it was systematized in Marx’s major work Capital more than 100 years ago, nearly 150 years again. And yet people, including those who consider themselves scholars of society, constantly turn away from this—reject it, distort it, deny it, or in one form or another try to ignore this fundamental breakthrough—ignore and often oppose this fundamental breakthrough. Instead, what do we get for explanations about society, both in academic circles and out more broadly among the “common people?” Things that focus on the superstructure as the decisive element—theories of “human nature” which supposedly explain why things happen the way they do, emphasis on the political processes, elections and different demographic analyses in terms of how they pertain to and influence elections—all these kind of things which are secondary and can only be correctly understood on the basis of a materialist approach to and a materialist method of proceeding from an understanding of what underlies all these politics, what underlies all these ideas and the culture that circulates in society and predominates in society. Why did Marx say, so very correctly and importantly: The entire history of humanity is the history of the transformation of human nature? Did that mean that the way human nature got transformed was that people fought with each other about what their nature should be? Well, yes, they did do that. But what was more fundamental, underlying and decisive in that? Not the sole factor, but the more underlying, fundamental and decisive factor was: what was going on underneath all of that in the economic base of society?

Here, again, you run into other tautologies. “People are just naturally selfish”—which is another... Marx and Engels point out in the Communist Manifesto that this kind of thinking is just a tautology, that as long as you have capitalism you will have the ideas of capitalism predominating, including the idea that everybody should be out for themselves against everybody else, which corresponds to the commodity relations of a capitalist society where everything is increasingly turned into a commodity. The continuous transformation of human nature proceeds through the changes that occur in the base of society and the corresponding struggle that this gives rise to in the realm of ideas and politics, and so on. So we have, once again, an upside down approach which leads you always into a dead end. You can never understand such basic things as: If you have a society based on exploiting people, you’re gonna have a lot of fucking selfish people, OK? If you have a society in which white supremacy is built into its structures, you’re gonna have a lot of white supremacists.

But see, a sort of basic understanding like that is either neglected or outright attacked and replaced with all these theories that are just going around in a circle, never getting to the underlying basis of why things are the way they are and why they change. Why don’t we have slavery anymore? Is it simply because people developed ideas that slavery was wrong and fought against it? Yes, they did. But that, in turn, while not being reducible to, was fundamentally grounded in changes that were taking place in the economy and the rising conflict and antagonism between a different kind of economic system—capitalism, which was developing particularly in the North—and the slave system, which was seeking to preserve itself and even to expand, centered fundamentally in the South. And not reducible to, but on the basis of that increasing conflict between these different economic systems, these different modes of production, different ideas not only arose but were able to attract masses of people to them.

People could have all kinds of ideas in any kind of epoch, but if there’s not a basis in the underlying foundation of society and its economic dynamics, and in the social relations that are emerging and in the changes that are occurring in the underlying basis of society, then those ideas will not be able to attract a mass following. People thousands of years ago could have the idea that it would be nice if nobody mistreated anybody else, but as long as they didn’t have the basis for an economic system which made that possible, they could not have a society like that. They could not institute those kinds of social relations. It wasn’t a matter of people coming together in a vacuum and cooking up ideas about what kind of society they wanted and then proceeding to implement it. This basic dialectical materialist understanding—dialectical because it doesn’t just deal with the underlying material system, the mode of production, and it doesn’t deal with that as static and unchanging, but deals with the contradictions and motion and development within that economic system, within the superstructure of politics and ideology that arises on that basis, and between that underlying economic system and the superstructure of politics and ideology. And the dialectics of this are that changes are brought about, of any real consequence in society, through what occurs in the superstructure, through the formulation of political ideas and theories and ideologies and through the struggle over different programs, and ultimately, when a revolutionary crisis comes about, then the possibility opens of a radical transformation in society, taking place in a concentrated way in the superstructure, in the struggle over who will rule society and what kind of system will they be able to implement—not out of their abstract reckoning in their heads but in relation, once again, to what are the underlying economic and social relations and the dynamics and changes within that.

So the foundation is the underlying economic system, and it’s in the superstructure where this gets battled out and where the changes get fought out. And the superstructure is a very dynamic sphere; the realm of political struggle, the realm of culture, the realm of ideas is not one-to-one a mere passive reflection of what the underlying economic system is, but it’s full of contradiction and struggle. People who perceive, like Marx did, the contradictions and analyze deeply and scientifically the contradictions in the underlying economic system, were able to recognize the possibility of transformation to a radically different economic system and therefore to formulate the theories and ideas that would lead to that, that would lead to that process of struggle, that could make that possible. This is why Marx said that the sense of the permanence of the existing conditions breaks down in theory before it is actually broken down in practice. Or, as we emphasize, this is why theory can and often does run ahead of practice. Theory has its ultimate point of origin and point of verification in practice, in the actual material world—that’s where ideas arise out of, and that’s where they’re proven ultimately to be true or not true and to find a basis or not find a basis among people. But in that overall process, people can perceive—out of reflecting on the contradictions and motion and development of the underlying relations, they can perceive changes before those changes are actually brought about. If that weren’t so, there could never be any radical change in society.

So this is all very important to understand. What are the actual relations here? If you want to understand why people treat people the way they do, you have to look fundamentally to the underlying economic system, and the social relations that correspond to that, and then the ideas that arise on that basis and the contradictions and motion within all that. That’s the way you understand it. Otherwise, you’ll go around in a circle. “White people are racist.” “Men are chauvinist.” Well, overwhelmingly in a society like this, if you’re looking at the broad population, that’s true—but why is it true? And why are there not very many advocates—although we see some cropping up again now with the Trump phenomenon and his supporters—but why are there not very many advocates of slavery? Other than things like sexual slavery and the trafficking of women and girls today. But why are there not advocates for: Let’s restore the whole slave system? Because that’s completely out of line with the underlying economic system and the way that system operates in the world today. So people may have those ideas, but it’s hard for them to get a hearing on a mass scale or exert significance influence—not simply on the basis of different moralities, but what underlies and gives rise to those moralities, the changes in the economic relations and the social relations. And without understanding this, you could never really see the possibility of changes in both circumstances (that is, the system) and in people—and of the way those can be fought for. So we need, as opposed to this anti-, not just non, but anti-materialist approach, we need dialectical and historical materialism and a correct understanding of the dynamic contradictory relationships within the economic base, within the superstructure, and between the economic base and the superstructure.

Now, let’s look here: I thought it might be worthwhile looking at what might seem like an unusual but actually an important example of applying dialectical and historical materialism—the phenomenon of gangs in the U.S., but not only in the U.S., throughout much of Latin America and the Caribbean. Now, there’s a book called Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America by Ioan Grillo, which is about the Caribbean and Latin America. And it’s very striking. He makes the following statement early in this book: “When you tally up the total body count the numbers are staggering. Between the dawn of the new millennium [in other words at the turn of the century, 2000] and 2010, more than a million people across Latin America and the Caribbean were murdered.” Now even if we think this is somewhat... he does cite sources for this... but even if we think this is somewhat exaggerated, even if it’s anything close to that, think of the implications of that. Think what that reflects. And he goes on to say that it’s a cocaine-fueled holocaust, a cocaine-fueled holocaust. In other words, most of these are—not literally every murder, obviously, there are “crimes of passion” and other murders—but on this kind of scale, the largest contributing factor is the drug phenomenon and the wars associated within the gangs who are part of all this. And if you look at the U.S. itself, Tom Hayden made the analysis a little while ago that, in the decades since the 1970s, tens of thousands of people have died from gang battles in the United States itself. So think about this. A million people in Latin America and the Caribbean, or something on that order, and tens of thousands within the U.S.

Now how do we understand this? Is it because the people doing this are just by nature, their human nature, depraved? Or is there something else going on here that is much more fundamental? In the book I cited earlier, Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones, in speaking to Jim Wallis and refuting his arguments about how you could have a good society based on principles of Christian charity and so on, I analyzed one of the examples he gives of how problems in society can be remedied. He talks about how in Brazil, back in the 1980s, there were a number of peasants who were about ready to be driven off their land, and the women among the peasants contacted the wives of the senators in Brazil and persuaded them to put a stop to this particular dispossession. He holds this up as a model of how justice can be brought in society and changes for the people’s good. And I did a little research and I discovered, not to my surprise frankly, that in the same period he’s talking about, 15 million people in the countryside of Brazil had been dispossessed. That was the overwhelming phenomenon. And the land holdings in Brazil were highly concentrated in large land holdings among a very small percentage of the rural population. And what happened to those 15 million people and their descendants over several generations? Did they evaporate? No. They went into the favelas, the urban slums of Brazil, in conditions where they were not integrated into the economy in an articulated way where they got regular employment even under highly exploitative conditions. Many of them had to engage in various forms of self-employment in the informal economy, including crime, which became one of the more lucrative means of accumulating wealth or at least making a living.

We’ve seen the same phenomenon in the U.S. People from the... Black people, in particular, came from the South after World War 2, worked in factories to a large degree, and other occupations, many of which were closed down or the jobs were replaced by machines. After a couple of generations, many of the youth faced massive unemployment rates. And what did they turn to? Crime and the gang structure in large numbers—not all of them obviously. And you look throughout, not just Brazil, but Latin America and the Caribbean, you have this phenomena of people who several generations ago were peasants in the countryside who were driven off and could no longer live that way, as oppressive and exploitative as that was. They came into the cities, but also could not be integrated into the regular formal economy, and the youth in particular turned to means other than menial employment, such as it was, for making their way through the world and trying to get some kind of existence that was meaningful to them. On the basis of this, and also on the basis that drug production became one of the highly lucrative means of agricultural production, if you will—the raising of cocaine and then the processing of it—you’ve got people drawn into these gangs which then developed into major structures and enterprises which in Latin America are frequently called, and do have some of the characteristics of, cartels. Why did this happen? If you roll the process back 50 years ago, these youth were not into that. It’s not because of some depraved character of their human nature. It’s because of the conditions into which they were thrust and the options that were presented to them, and which were not presented to them.

I mean, in the same book, Preaching From A Pulpit of Bones, I spoke about William Bennett and his pontificating about virtues, and this whole notion of personal responsibility and the choices that people make. And I said: Why is it that the choices for people like Bennett and the class he represents, with their multi-thousand dollar a plate dinners, why is it that their choices are whether to wage war here or there, or whether to close down factories here and move them there, whereas for middle class people in this country it might be how much to go into debt to try to put your kids through college, while for poor people it’s can you get a job or not, and for a girl in Thailand, as young as nine, it’s either be miserably, viciously exploited in some sort of factory or being chained down as a prostitute. Why are those the choices? Is it because of human nature, or is it because of the system and the relations that are embodied in that system and the dynamics of that system?

So you have this phenomenon of gangs now on a major scale. And it’s interesting to think about how in a certain way—not in every detail or every aspect, but in a certain way—this parallels the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism in the parts of the world where Islam has been the dominant religion. Much of the process has actually been the same. Peasants driven out of the countryside, driven into this “planet of slums,” as Mike Davis called it, where up to a billion people live in these massive slums around the core cities of these countries throughout the Third World. They’re uprooted from the traditional relations and then drawn to, in the case of Islamic fundamentalism, attempts to restore, with a vengeance and through barbaric means, those traditional relations—which are being undermined but not transformed in any thoroughgoing way by the dynamics of what imperialism, in conjunction with the dynamics of the particular country, has wrought, has brought forward, has caught people up in. And it’s interesting, you see that some of these leaders of some of these Islamic fundamentalist forces, or people who have become their foot soldiers, were actually people who were into crime, went to jail, and got proselytized by these fundamentalists.

But again, we need to be materialists, but not mechanical materialists, not determinists who think that whatever people’s conditions are in their main aspect is all that there is to their conditions, and whatever their conditions are will automatically produce a certain result in terms of how they act. That’s a kind of mechanical materialism and determinism that we also have to fight against. Because we have to understand the dynamic role of contradiction. There are very acute and profound contradictions in the conditions of all these masses. There is, on the one hand, the pull that I’ve described owing to their conditions, but there’s also the oppression they suffer, the poverty that’s enforced on them, the misery that they are subjected to by the workings of this system, and there are the corresponding ideas of longing for a different and better world that are often suppressed and suffocated to a significant degree once again by the workings of the system, both its underlying workings and the conscious policy and actions of those who rule in society, who dominate the superstructure of political rule and ideology and culture.

So the contradictions of the masses caught up in these situations—whether you’re talking about the favelas and slums of the Caribbean and Latin America, whether you’re talking about the slums and barrios, for example, in the United States where people, many peasants or people from other strata from Mexico and Latin America, come to this country and basically the same phenomenon occurs as occurred to Black people migrating from the South, the first generation maybe finding some kind of menial and super-exploited exploitation, but the youth, many of them don’t feel like going through that, so they turn to this other way of life based on gang structure and crime and so on, not all of them, obviously, but significant numbers. But there’s also the highly oppressive conditions that people are in and the highly repressive situation in which, because of their conditions, the system and its enforcers—the police and all the rest of that apparatus of repression, the courts and the judges, and so on—are constantly subjecting them to all kinds of horrors: outright murder and brutality, mass incarceration, and on and on.

This is the contradictory character of the conditions of these masses and what it gives rise to spontaneously, but also the basis it provides for struggling with people to take a different road, a road of emancipation. That will not happen by spontaneity, and given the pulls that I’ve been describing—the very powerful pulls—this is not going to happen without a great deal of struggle. But the point is that the contradictions are real, and the side of people that aspires to, or can be drawn toward, something actually emancipating, as opposed to enslaving in one form or another, is very real. Without dialectical materialism and historical materialism, you can’t even recognize this, let alone act on it. But with it, you can. And that’s what’s so crucial. So we have to have a correct understanding of the contradictory nature of all this, the contradictory nature of people’s thinking and ideas and the contradictory nature of the economic and social relations that they’re caught up in—which, in an ultimate and fundamental sense, give rise to these contradictory ideas and tendencies and aspirations among them. And we have to work to transform this through a great deal of struggle—and not by any tailing of spontaneity—into a revolutionary force based on the understanding of the possibility, and the inspiration on that real foundation, of the whole prospect and reality of the struggle to emancipate all of humanity.

And within this, without falling into the notion, which I have been criticizing, of turning things upside down and thinking that ideas somehow arise completely independently of the underlying relations in society and thinking that the struggle is merely a struggle in the realm of ideas, at the same time we have to recognize the very powerful role of ideology. People in the same conditions can be drawn to very different programs because of the struggle in the realm of ideas if, again, those ideas have some relation to the underlying reality, not just as it is in a static and unchanging sense, but as it is full of contradiction, struggle and motion. And the ideology of communism, and its further development in the new communism, can be a very powerful force attracting people as the liberatory, emancipating path out of the conditions, the contradictory conditions in which they are caught up. This is something we really have to powerfully recognize. And our ideas, in order to play this role, in order to be a powerful force, have to be in accord with an actual scientific understanding of reality and constantly struggling to further develop and refine that understanding, including because life is constantly changing. But if, in fact, they are based on that scientific approach to the correct relation of things in society—the correct relation between the underlying conditions and the realm of politics and thinking and culture—if they more and more reflect a correct understanding of that, they can be a very powerful pole attracting people toward the only resolution of the contradictions they are caught up in that is fundamentally in their own interests and in the interests of humanity as a whole.

So with that I want to move to part 3.

 

 

Part 3: The Solution, the Necessity, the Possibility and the Desirability of Revolution Grounded in The New Communism

I want to start by reading the 5 Stops, which repeatedly appear in our newspaper, Revolution, and on the website revcom.us, for good reason:

      STOP Genocidal Persecution, Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder of Black and Brown People!

      STOP The Patriarchal Degradation, Dehumanization, and Subjugation of All Women Everywhere, and All Oppression Based on Gender or Sexual Orientation!

      STOP Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!

      STOP The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!

      STOP Capitalism-Imperialism from Destroying Our Planet!

Now, these are, on the one hand, contradictions. They are descriptions of major social contradictions and conditions of masses of people and ultimately conditions affecting all of humanity. Now, we’ve made the very important statement that these are contradictions that cannot be resolved under the present system of capitalism-imperialism—they cannot be resolved in any way that would be in the interests of the masses of people and ultimately all of humanity. And therefore this is a compelling reason and a fundamental reason why we need the kind of revolution we’re talking about to uproot this system, to break its hold over society and humanity and to bring into being a new system based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, a new system of socialism that is part of the worldwide struggle, and works to develop and promote and support that worldwide struggle, ultimately for communism in the world.

Now, for those who want to oppose us, for those who want to say it is not necessary to have that kind of revolution, they have to argue that the things that are encapsulated and concentrated in these 5 Stops are not important, that they aren’t really significant problems. Let them argue that. Or they have to argue: “Well, yes, these are big problems, obviously—only a fool or worse would deny that—but they can all be solved under the present system.” In which case: let’s hear the argument. But it is completely irresponsible either to ignore what’s concentrated in these 5 Stops or to fail to engage the question—if you do recognize how significant they are—to fail to engage the question of whether or not they can actually be resolved under this system or whether it requires a revolution and a radically different system to solve these problems.

We have not come to this position of revolution lightly. We’ve come to it out of a scientific analysis that identifies these major social contradictions—which didn’t just pop out of nowhere, but have been integral parts of the capitalist-imperialist system and have further become accentuated in the present period—a scientific analysis of the magnitude of those contradictions, of those horrors, really, and the scientific analysis that it requires the kind of revolution we’re talking about to deal with those in a way that would be in the interests of the masses of people, not just here but throughout the world, and ultimately in the interests of all of humanity.

So there are these 5 Stops which concentrate these major contradictions of this system, which are unresolvable and are real horrors. And there’s the reality, which I’ve spoken to here—and which, again, for example, on revcom.us is gone into from many different angles and utilizing many different examples—a world of massive poverty, oppression, exploitation, despoliation of the environment and unnecessary suffering for humanity on a massive scale. This is the world that we actually live in. This is the world we’re actually confronted with. And there is an actual answer to this, a scientifically grounded answer.

So, for all the reasons touched on here and gone into in more depth in THE NEW COMMUNISM, the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, and other works, including a great deal of material available through revcom.us, it is clear that this system cannot be reformed, cannot be made to function in the interests of the vast majority of humanity, because of the very basic contradictions and dynamics of this system. And once again, we’re back to the basic point: The fundamental contradictions and dynamics of this system, and what this gives rise to in order to perpetuate this, is not something which is incidental or accidental, but something which is rooted in the very nature of the system itself. Here, I refer people, again, to THE NEW COMMUNISM, in particular Part I, the discussion of “Through Which Mode of Production,” and “The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism”; and Part II, the discussion of “The 4 Alls.”

Now, in terms of the possibility of revolution, one big reason people have a hard time seeing this possibility is the inability or difficulty in seeing beyond the permanent necessity of existing conditions or the positive potential of upheaval and sudden dramatic change—a fear of that, rather than a recognition of the possibilities it opens.

I was thinking here of an analogy to the question of evolution in the natural world. Leaving aside the Christian Fascists who are determined to resist science and to promote an anti-scientific approach to the world, many regular people—especially those who haven’t been exposed to and had the chance to learn about the actual scientific explanation of evolution—many ordinary people have a hard time with understanding or accepting evolution, not only because of the influences of reactionary forces like the Christian Fascist fanatics, and so on, but also as part of this, because they have difficulty in actually conceiving of things not in terms of a few years, a few decades, a few centuries, or at most a few millennia, maybe two or three thousand years, but conceiving of things in terms of millions and billions of years, which is how long life has existed, in one form or another, on this planet. If you can’t theoretically conceive of such a vast span of time, then the question of how all these diverse forms could evolve on the earth seems at best perplexing and at worst sort of like impossible. How could all these diverse things...if you’re thinking of how it had to evolve in 25 years instead of 3.5 billion years...I mean people can’t even think about a billion years. So a lot of regular people—I’m making an analogy—a lot of regular people have a hard time conceiving of things in those terms, besides the fact that they’re indoctrinated, once again, with an upside down world view and an errant methodology. This thing about: “Oh, you don’t believe in god. Well, who woke you up this morning?” Well, my alarm clock. But anyway, the whole point of material reality—you know, that you don’t need a god to explain these things which are explainable by scientific means; or if they’re not yet explainable by scientific means, through scientific means the recognition can be achieved of how you would move toward explaining them or what the contradictions are that lie in the way of explaining them. Rather than it all being mysterious and you have to invoke some sort of supernatural force for the simplest of things, like how do you talk or how do you get up in the morning.

So I’m making an analogy here. Besides the importance of that point in its own right. I’m making an analogy to why people have a difficult time—one of the significant reasons, I should say, why they have a difficult time—imagining the possibility of revolution, is because they can’t imagine a radically different situation in which all the things that normally hold, and hold down people, are beginning to fray and tear apart and even break apart. Even the normal functioning of the system—though people are getting a sense of some of that now with this president, this Trump guy, who tweets out things calling somebody in the Congress a sleaze ball or calls him sleazy Congressman so and so. I mean these are not the normal ways that the ruling class has conducted its affairs. And you have Pence always leering behind Trump, looking, as someone said, like one of those child molester priests—leering behind Trump. This is a different way, so this begins to get people to... it shakes people up, begins to cause them to think about... you know, a lot of them, their spontaneous reaction is they want to go back to the norms that they’re used to. But what if all those norms are breaking down on a whole other level, both because of the struggle that’s been called forth in society and because of the way that at the top the rulers of the society are attempting to resolve these things and this is intensifying the conflicts among them as well as the conflicts they have with the masses of people? So, if you can break out of this framework and this blindfold of only things ... once again, the tautological thinking, the round-in-a-circle thinking, that: “Well, you can’t do that because that’s not the way things are done.”

Now, with all of his problems, there were some positive qualities definitely to Eldridge Cleaver, and I remember when, way back in the day, he was being interviewed on PBS, I believe, by one of those bourgeois wise men, David Susskind, and he began to run down the 10-point platform and program, Eldridge did, of the Black Panther Party. And he got only a little ways into it and David Susskind says, “But you can’t do that kind of thing in this society.” And Eldridge immediately responded: “You can’t do that kind of thing in this society—that’s why we need a radically different society.” See, this is the thinking that people have to be liberated into, breaking out of the confines of the self-contained logic that this is the way things are done, so therefore what you’re saying can’t be done because it’s not how things are done. That’s exactly the point—it’s not how things are done. And we have to wage that struggle in the realm of thinking, in the realm of ideology. At the same time, we have to develop the struggle of the people which contributes to people breaking out of that, on the one hand, and also sharpens up the contradictions in society in a positive way, because they need to be sharpened up in a positive way. Not because that’s our thing, but because society needs to be radically transformed, because of these 5 Stops, because of the massive poverty, exploitation, oppression and suffering in the world that’s completely unnecessary, because of what’s happening with the environment. It’s for those reasons that the contradictions in society need to be sharpened up and people need to break out of the way things are done and do them in a way that corresponds to their actual interests.

Now, in terms of looking again at the prospect of revolution, another thing I want to touch on is what we might call: parasitism, paralysis of bourgeois liberalism and reformism, friendly neutrality, and the possibility of revolution.

Let’s take the first part: parasitism. Going back to the ’60s, for example, more than 50 years ago, many people who aren’t completely blind to the realities of things would say... if you think back to the ’60s, people would say: “I want a revolution, too, but you’re never going to have a revolution in this country because there’s too many middle class people who are too well off.” Well, is this a real phenomenon and a real problem? Yes, it is. It’s a heavy weight on the masses of people and a heavy weight against the kind of radical change and the struggle for that radical change that’s needed. And it is owing to the parasitism of this society. Once again, in this land of short attention spans and no memory, where history is somehow anathema and out of bounds, people think that the way things are yesterday at the most—that’s as far back as they go—is the way things always were. You look at this country, for example—it didn’t always have the same kind of gigantic middle class, very large middle class which is relatively well off, although its well-off position has been significantly undermined in the last couple of decades, and that is something to be definitely aware of—and the implications of that which are, again, very contradictory. But if you look back at the history of this country, here again you get another narrative about the immigrants. The Statue of Liberty—good hearted people, when faced with this anti-immigrant hysteria being whipped up by Trump and these people, will say: “Well look, you know this is a country of immigrants, we’ve always welcomed immigrants.” Well yes, they were welcomed when they could be viciously exploited for several generations coming into New York, living in the Lower East Side in incredibly rat-infested, miserable conditions, working...I mean where did we get International Women’s Day? From out of the struggle of particularly women workers in their horrific conditions in New York City and representative of what was going on in the country as a whole. Where did we get May Day, International Workers Day? Out of the struggle of people who were viciously exploited, many of whom, as in the case of the women workers I was speaking of, were immigrants. And it was really only after World War 2 and the U.S. emerging relatively... see people don’t know anything about—I’m sorry, let me just say bluntly: people don’t know shit about anything in this country. For many of them, it’s not their fault. Some of them, it is because they could know and they don’t, and they don’t want to know or they resist knowing or they refuse to find out. And they’re too busy with...what is it Paul Simon called it even 30 years ago? Constant staccato of information... little bits of information constantly coming at you all the time—but no depth, no digging beneath the surface of the information to see what it really is all about and what larger framework and underlying basis it fits into and is grounded in.

So people don’t know anything. You know, I have to say I got furious the other day—just to engage in a personal indulgence—I got furious when I watched Kenneth Branagh on Stephen Colbert talking about this movie about Dunkirk, going on and on. First of all, Dunkirk was a fucking rout. The British Army got routed and had to flee by any means it could back to the island. And second of all, he goes on to talk about: “If this hadn’t happened, if the British Army had been destroyed at Dunkirk, the whole war would have been different, but because they escaped, because of the assistance of your great country, the history of things....” There are so many fucking things wrong with that, including, hey, you know what? Guess who broke the backbone of the fucking Nazi Wehrmacht, the Nazi war machine? It wasn’t fucking England, and it wasn’t fucking the U.S. It was the Soviet Union, and anyone who’s done any scholarship knows that. But nobody in this country knows it, and nobody is gonna tell them except for a few of us. But the point is, people don’t know anything about... why did the U.S. emerge out of World War 2 the way it did? Because it was, essentially, completely unscathed in World War 2—a few hundred thousand casualties, one thing at Pearl Harbor, nothing directly on the mainland. Europe was completely devastated. The Soviet Union lost between 20 and probably 30 million people. Its whole industrial base was destroyed. Why did things take shape in Eastern Europe and in Korea, and so on, the way they did? Did that have anything to do with—oh a forbidden word—history? Did it did have anything to do with what emerged out of these conditions? Did the character of U.S. society, the “physiognomy” of U.S. society—that is, the nature of the social classes and social groups and how they relate to each other—did that have anything to do with all that? Or is it somehow just the way it’s always been? I’m giving vent to a lot of frustration here, but we really have to not just be frustrated. We have to go out and really struggle to get, once again, a dialectical and historical materialist understanding of where did this parasitism come from? And it is contradictory—the conditions of the middle class, they are being undermined. People in that middle class, even ones who are relatively well off economically—who are benefitting with some of the spoils, the plunder of the whole vast international network of sweatshops that U.S. imperialism could not do without—even those people have better aspirations, because they live in a society full of contradiction and struggle about what the social relations and basic relations should be.

So, on the one hand, there is the parasitism, but it’s also in contradiction to other tendencies among people which ultimately are rooted in the contradictory nature of their conditions and more broadly the contradictory nature of society and ultimately the world—which, despite everything I just said, people are not completely ignorant of, although there is an astounding amount of ignorance, in certain particular spheres especially, having to do with the nature of society, history, and so on.

But in moving toward a revolutionary situation, one thing to understand: It’s not necessary for all the middle class to be enthusiastically leaping into the ranks of the revolution. You won’t make a revolution without at least good numbers of the youth in the middle class becoming part of the revolution, but for many it’s going to be a matter of their recognizing that what they had been used to, and what they may be even desperately yearning to have back, is not going to exist anymore. The norms they want reestablished are not going to be reestablished, and norms that are in conflict with what they want and what they think constitutes a society worth living in are going to be instituted, and the bourgeois liberalism and reformism that’s put forward in various forms—from the “left” groups, from the regular bourgeois politicians—are proven to be completely bankrupt and cannot deal with the new conditions that are emerging. This is where you get, much more broadly than those who will be actively involved, everything from support to friendly neutrality, which is very important. People decide that, at a minimum, they’re not going to help the powers-that-be and the oppressive ruling class suppress the revolution as it emerges.

So yes, this is a big phenomenon. Anyone who thinks about making revolution in the U.S. seriously, knows that this phenomenon, among others—there’s the power of the ruling class and its military, its repressive apparatus overall, its massive machinery of destruction and death—yes, all that’s real. But also very real is this weight of the middle class, even with the undermining of the conditions of significant sections of the middle class. It’s all very contradictory, and we have to approach this strategically and not in a determinist way which looks at it, once again, like “all that’s possible is what is.” But do we look beneath the surface? Do we see the contradictions? Do we see the motion and development? Do we see where...the possibilities that might lie ahead, the contradictory directions things might go, and how we might—and need to, and in fact, must—act on that to transform it in the direction it needs to go in?

So, in terms of the possibility of revolution, you’re never going see it if you don’t break out of the self-contained logic and the determinist logic of just looking at things as they are and then getting caught up in thinking that the way things are is the only way they could be. Why? Because that’s the way they are. Now, when you state it like that, it seems like an obvious tautology, but that’s the thinking that most people are caught up in. “Well, you can’t do things that way.” Why not? “Because that’s not how things are done.” Why aren’t they done that way? “Well, because they’re done differently.” I mean when you break it down, that’s really what a lot of people’s arguments are. What if we don’t accept that that’s the way things have to be? What if there are material conditions in the world that say that there’s a possibility for them to be radically different? Then what?

Now, the next thing I want to talk about and touch on briefly is “How We Can Win” as an actual living guideline and working document. And to stress this I would ...I would formulate this—to stress how this needs to be approached as a living guideline and working document, I would put it this way: “How We Can Win” needs to be taken up and applied and constantly gone back to and dug into more deeply—but taken up and applied all while that’s going on—in the way of working back from the third part, consistently applying the second part, on the basis of the first part.

Now, what do I mean by that? The third part speaks to how we could actually defeat them when the times come, under radically different conditions with the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions—just to emphasize that. But projecting to the possibility of those conditions, it talks about how we could defeat them and lays out certain concentrated principles. The point, after all, is to make revolution, and making revolution does require defeating them. So you have to work back from that. That’s what we’re going for, and if we don’t do that, everything else we do ultimately—not at every point along the way, but ultimately, in the final analysis—amounts to nothing. It amounts to tinkering around and leaving the system the way it is. So we have to actually get to the point where there is a real chance to win, with millions fighting for revolution in a revolutionary situation.

So working back from that, we have to be consistently applying the second part of “How We Can Win”—what it is that we need to do now. How do we go about implementing a strategy in its various dimensions and approaching this strategically, as strategic commanders, to wield this as a strategy so that all the component parts are mutually reinforcing each other on a strategic level? And what’s that grounded in? It’s not grounded in some fanciful idea that it would be nice to have a different society, and because that would be nice we ought to subject everybody to everything that has to go into achieving that, including all the upheaval and all the radical disruption, and yes, all the destruction that will be brought down overwhelmingly by the forces of the old order viciously resisting. No, it’s not that. No, it’s not that we had a nice idea and we’re going to subject everybody to all that because of that nice idea which has no basis in reality. No, it’s because we need a revolution, and why we need a revolution—which comes back to what I was saying earlier in terms of the world as it is, what’s concentrated in the 5 Stops, the horrors of all that, the very real peril to humanity that it’s posing, and the possibility of a radical transformation to something that’s much, much better. It’s not just much better but it’s better in qualitative terms, it’s a whole different kind of world—the basis for which exists within the contradictions of the very world we live in now, including the people who are caught up in those contradictions.

So it’s a matter of consistently wielding this as a living guideline and working document, working back from the third part, consistently applying the second part, on the basis of the first part—on the basis of why there is a necessity and possibility for revolution in the first place, and the desirability. And in this context I just want to say very briefly a few words about Chicago.

We’ve concentrated in Chicago because it has become a concentration point objectively of very important social confrontations and social contradictions. The ruling class, as such, is seizing on it as a bludgeon for greatly heightening its murderous repression that’s carried out among the masses of people who are concentrated in the inner cities in particular, but also as an ideological weapon that it’s been working on for decades—which is not very different from, and is essentially the same as, what I quoted from that wife and campaign manager of that Congressman back at the end of the 19th century—that these are a bunch of savage animals. And we even hear some of the masses telling us: “They’re too far gone, try to get the five-year-olds. These kids, by the time they’re teenagers, they’re too far gone.” No, they’re not, but it’s going to be a very intense, fierce struggle to win them to revolution. But you keep thinking...you know, for decades they’ve been portraying these masses in this way through all the culture, through all the pig shows on TV, through everything the politicians have done. They portray these masses as savage beasts, like this woman said.

And I kept thinking to myself: How the fuck do they keep getting these juries that let these pigs off, or refuse to convict them, one after another, when the evidence of cold-blooded murder is overwhelming and right in front of your face? It’s partly who they get on juries, and it’s partly how the prosecution doesn’t prosecute and accepts the terms, the very narrow terms, of whether the cop had a legitimate fear for his life or whatever—which has racism written into it and institutionalized. “If I’m a cop and I hate Black people, well, then every time I see one of these young Black youth, I’m afraid of them because I hate them, and therefore I can do anything I want to them.” And then the prosecutors accept that and try to work with that basic logic, try to work within it. And you know what the judges... how they’re slanting things. But still you’ve got these juries—how do they not convict, even with all that? Because people who get on these juries, in particular, have been conditioned for years and decades on how to look at this: “If we don’t let these cops do what they gotta do, these savage beasts are gonna run wild, they’re gonna come in our neighborhood and rape the women and burn down everything and steal everything and murder everybody.” This is how they do this. They’re using Chicago as a big battering ram and a big sledgehammer ideologically to go further with that as part of, in practice, greatly heightening the repression, the murderous repression. It’s nothing less than murderous repression with genocidal, yes, real genocidal dimensions.

And so we’ve recognized this. This is a gauntlet that’s been thrown down by the ruling class, and is objectively a gauntlet that we have to pick up and transform. And there is nobody else who’s going to do this—not because of some sort of human nature that we have that’s different from other people, but because people don’t have the science. They don’t have the science to recognize what the actual situation is, what the contradictory situation is. Yes, what the very negative factors are, including in what people are into—not just what they do but how they think, and what needs to be really compellingly struggled with in a very fierce way to rupture them out of that and to get them to actually rise to the potential they have to be emancipators of humanity, to be a backbone of a revolution whose goal is the emancipation of all humanity. And furthermore, having entered into this, there is no way that we are not going to fight through on it. We have to fight through on it because of what it represents objectively, which I was just speaking to. And, on top of that, we have to fight through on it because we’ve gone to the masses and said we’re going to do so. And goddamn it, we’re not going to not do that!

Now, that doesn’t solve the problems. That’s just a basic point of fundamental orientation, and then we have to go to work on the problems—which we are. But I will say, on the positive side, if and as we make even beginning qualitative breakthroughs to bringing forward a critical mass, particularly among the youth, who are won to this revolution and don’t just put the shirt on one day—you know, “BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!” and take it off the next—which is something—but actually get all the way in with this and are really not only willing but fired up to go out and struggle with everybody else about “this is what we need to be with,” and have the vision—a scientifically grounded vision, not a vision that’s cooked up in somebody’s head which has nothing to do with reality and is in conflict with reality, but a scientifically grounded vision—of how we could have a radically different world in which people don’t have to be put through this, all this unnecessary suffering and horror that they’re put through every day, not just the people here but people all over the world. As we make real breakthroughs on that, then, you know, the struggle is going to intensify a thousand-fold. And we have to be prepared for that. We have to be, as we once said, down for the whole thing. We have to be ready to fight that all the way through. It’s not the whole of the revolution by any means, but it is a crucial concentration point of the fight for revolution in this society and in this world. And even all over the world people know about Chicago.

So think of the positive side. What’s it going to mean if the banner of revolution—in a real sense, and real people actually raising and fighting for that banner among others like them and going out more broadly in society and fighting for it—what’s it going to mean positively as that comes forward and the fight is waged not to have it suppressed? I just want to emphasize: this is the stakes of this battle. It’s not everything we’re doing, it’s not even everything we’re doing among the basic masses, but it is a concentration point and carries tremendous stakes and implications.

Next, I want to say a few things about potential civil war between two sections of the people. I notice that the reactionaries, the fascists, are constantly talking about this and gearing up for it in a real way. And if things more fully develop, this is going to be more and more a feature, not just of the future, but in the present struggle. And it already is. I noticed, in reading reports about the July 15th Refuse Fascism demonstrations, the question had to be fought out: Are people afraid to come out because if you go to the Trump star (or whatever it is) in LA, the fascists are going to be there to defend it? In Houston they’re saying (the fascists are saying) they’re going to come armed to confront the demonstrations. This is going to increase more and more. And are people going to fight through that and recognize that if you capitulate to this, things are only going to get worse? They’ve got to be won to stand up to it. So this is in embryonic forms now, in terms of the potential civil war between the different sections of people—the reactionary, and the positive and ultimately revolutionary side of the people. But how this gets fought out now—I don’t mean fought out in military terms, just to be clear. But how it gets fought out politically now and whether people stand up to this, and whether, yes, they defend themselves if they’re attacked, not initiate attack but defend themselves if they’re attacked, whether they refuse to back down—carries real stakes and has real consequences in terms of where society is going to go and whether, first of all, this fascist regime could be driven out, and then beyond that whether a radically different society could be brought into being through revolution.

And within this I do want to say a few words about the role of the youth, especially from the basic masses. Now, I know Farrakhan has this thing, always posing as the general whose army is not ready: “I want to lead you”... (He also says, “Justice or else”—but it’s really or else nothing.... But, anyway he says,) “I want to lead you, but you’re not ready to be led. You’ve got to stop doing all this bad stuff you’re doing because I can’t lead you. You’re not ready to be led. You’ve gotta get out of all this bad stuff and get into all this reactionary shit that I’m promoting. And then I’ll lead you.” Where is he going to lead you?—that’s another question. But there is a real phenomenon. You could issue a call to these youth who are killing each other: “Stop doing that, let’s go out and take on these real fuckers who need to be taken on.” But that would not lead to a good result, at this point, because people need to be transformed, people need to fight the power and transform themselves and transform whole groups of people in increasing waves for revolution. And it’s not the Farrakhan thing: “First you have to be perfect, according to my perverted vision of what’s perfect, and then maybe I’ll lead you somewhere where you don’t need to and shouldn’t go. But you’re not ready yet.” It’s not that, but there does have to be transformation of people.

They have to take up the Points of Attention for the Revolution, including the ones that really sharply concentrate things among the masses—like the second one, around women, if I remember correctly. And the sixth one. How do we break out of this revenge? I saw an interesting...I was reading an article about Mosul in The New York Times Magazine and this question of revenge came up with one of the...you know, it’s perverse... it’s one of the Iraqi military officers who’s waged this battle of devastation and destruction on Mosul. But the question of revenge came up, because everybody’s had people killed by all the sides of this religious sectarian conflict. And one of these guys said: “We have to put aside the revenge, otherwise everybody will be dead.” And there is a certain point to that, not in the way he’s making it, but in terms of the masses, in particular the youth. We have to break out of that—not just so everybody won’t be dead, but so we can get to a whole different place in this country and in the world. And on the basis of that, then these youth can come to the forefront. On the basis of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution, they can come forward and be a force who can be in the forefront of beating back these fascists. I don’t mean attacking them. Again, the sixth point is we don’t initiate violence. In the present stage of things, we do not initiate violence and we’re against all violence among the people and against the people. But that doesn’t mean people don’t have a right to defend themselves if they are not the ones who initiate the violence, if violence is... if illegitimate violence is directed against them, they have a right to defend themselves. And they have a right to be even... besides the question of physical defense when attacked, there’s a question of being a bold revolutionary force that gives backbone to people, which is fundamentally even more important. So that’s something else to think about in terms of how we struggle with people and what lofty sights we raise their vision to.

And I want to say a few words, before moving on to the final point in this section, about the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic. We often say it’s the systematic application of the new communism, a sweeping vision and concrete guideline for a radically different and truly liberating society and world. And this is true. But this has to really be understood as how and why that’s so, and has to be taken up as such.

In this context, I want to read the following from THE NEW COMMUNISM, speaking about this Constitution: “One of the things that should really be understood about this Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, in most fundamental terms, is that this Constitution is dealing with a very profound and very difficult contradiction: the contradiction that, on the one hand, humanity really does need revolution and communism; but, on the other hand, not all of humanity wants that all of the time, including in socialist society.” And here’s a very important sentence: “So this Constitution is set up to provide the basic methods and means to deal with that contradiction....You need to get to communism, but you’re not going to get to communism by putting guns in the backs of the people and force-marching them to communism. You have to continually win them to that, fighting through all the contradictions that get posed, including the ones that the enemies put in your way, or accentuate, in order to turn the people against you.”

I want to underscore this sentence: “This Constitution is set up to provide the basic methods and means to deal with that contradiction.” And really grasping what is being said in a very concentrated way there is really crucial to understanding the full dimensions of what this Constitution is actually doing and what it is—what’s both the heart of it and the many different particular dimensions of it, and how they all fit together and are all serving that purpose, of dealing with that very basic contradiction in all of its complexity.

And just a word on how this Constitution actually got developed. At a certain point, I did go back and read everything from the Magna Carta to Plato’s Republic and the U.S. Constitution, to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and other similar documents, and then some constitutions from the Soviet Union when it was socialist and China when it was socialist. And that was important—that’s what I did right before sitting down to actually wage the struggle to work through the contradictions in theory and embody them in this Constitution. But even more fundamental than that, what I did was repeatedly go back, over the course of a number of years actually, to what I could identify as some of the main contradictions that such a constitution needed to deal with, including this one that I just pinpointed, reading from THE NEW COMMUNISM. And, in particular, how does solid core and elasticity on the basis of the solid core—how should it be applied in a constitution of this kind? How does it apply to the state? How does it apply to civil society and the relations among people, as well as their relations with the state? How do you actually institutionalize the leadership that’s necessary and the understanding concentrated in such a leadership that is necessary in order for society to go where it needs to go, and at the same time institutionalize the provision of the means for many different people of diverse viewpoints and inclinations to be part of this process, while the process continues to go where it needs to go? These were the contradictions I was wrestling with repeatedly.

I even had little diagrams, which then got translated into concrete provisions in the Constitution—like, okay, here’s the Party, a diagram for the Party to ...what are the institutions the Party really needed to lead? The legal apparatus, the courts, the executive, the institutions of defense and security. But how do you do that in a way that isn’t just what we’re accused of doing? For example, Ajith in his polemic says: “Well, this stuff about the Party being... has to be faithful to the Constitution or has to adhere to the Constitution—that doesn’t mean anything, because the Party can suspend the Constitution.” Well, no, it doesn’t actually say that. The Party itself cannot in this Constitution take that step. As referred to under the rights of the people, Point H there, where it says under emergency situations, where literally the existence of the Republic is at stake, certain rights could be suspended, there are a lot of provisions for how that has to be done in a certain way and how it has to be overseen, so it isn’t just arbitrary. But it isn’t the Party that does that. There are institutionalized mechanisms for how that is done that is not just the Party acting unilaterally and acting willfully and arbitrarily on the basis that it doesn’t like something that’s happened. So a lot of struggle went on with how do you actually handle the solid core and elasticity on the basis of the solid core—how do you actually institutionalize it so there’s a very strong basis for things to be led where they need to be go and, on the other hand, for there to be this whole process of a lot of ferment, a lot of diverse thinking, a lot of diversity in culture, even down to the level of how these things will be supported that are oppositional to the direction things need to go in.

And if you go through this Constitution you can see the tension there that’s being worked with—the objective tension of how do you handle that contradiction. That’s what’s so important about this Constitution—that it’s dealing with that contradiction that I spoke to, reading from THE NEW COMMUNISM, but it’s dealing with it in all the manifold ways and many different ways this is going to arise, anticipating as much as possible—because, of course, everything can’t be anticipated—but anticipating as much as possible, and to a very great degree, all these kinds of contradictions, specific contradictions that really get back to the question of solid core and elasticity on the basis of the solid core. How does society go where it needs to go, but then this is not a process of force-marching it there, and there’s a lot of diversity and a lot of wrangling and even a lot of opposition along the way, but it all can go where it needs to go if things are done correctly. It’s not a matter of institutionalizing in the sense that it becomes automatic, but the institutional means are provided for how to struggle through those contradictions. And this really has to be understood. I’m going a little bit into how I approached this because I think it shines further light on what is actually embodied in this Constitution and how important it is, what it’s actually dealing with, and the whole radically different way than this has been dealt with before. Not that it’s rejecting all the past experience (of socialist society) or saying that was principally negative, but it is a radical leap, and it is in some ways breaking with some things, as we’ve said. So I just want to emphasize that point, and it’s really important to wield this Constitution with that kind of understanding and to fight through all the petty objections and whatever to actually get people to engage: This is the kind of society we’re going for, this is what we intend to do. And it isn’t us imposing our unilateral will on everybody, but it does have a direction to it, because that’s a direction things need to go, and at the same time it is envisioning and embodying and institutionalizing a living process full of contradiction and full of diversity and opposition and struggle as a necessary part of that process.

Now, before moving on to the final section here, I want to talk about what is posed by the Trump/Pence fascist regime—how to oppose this, and how this relates to the fundamental strategic goal of revolution.

First of all, identifying the Trump/Pence regime is important. I’ll come back to that a little bit more and how that comes up in the actual work and struggle in Refuse Fascism and what it’s aiming for. One thing I think we should understand, an important part of this whole picture and we can understand it partly in terms of historical analogy, is what we could call—since Trump is the “master of the deal” according to him—Trump’s deal with the Christian Fascists. You see, I think it’s pretty important for us to understand what happened here with Trump and particularly this dimension of it. If you look back over Trump, he used to be pro-choice, a lot of his views were not in line with those of the Republican Party and in particular the Christian Fascists. The racism, the crude misogyny—yes. But a lot of it was out of line with their position. And, at a certain point, there was a recognition from the two sides of some important things from their points of view. Trump, I think it’s fair to say, could not have won the election if the Christian Fascists had not only—not only if they had opposed him, but if they’d been unenthusiastic about him. And you would think: well, why him? Ted Cruz is much more in line with these Christian Fascists, and he’s much more of a Christian Fascist lunatic himself. He’s right in the heart of that stuff. Why not Ted Cruz, from their point of view? Because at a certain point—and this is spoken to in The Coming Civil War articles—you can’t keep dangling as bait before these fascist forces, and in particular the Christian Fascists, about you’re going to do this and that, like get rid of abortion and suppress the gays and all this kind of stuff. You can’t keep dangling that and never deliver on it, and at a certain point if you do, they’re going to break away from that. And in a sense that’s what has happened. Trump ran within the Republican primaries, but he was not really of the Republican Party. And what Trump represented to these forces—which is why, even when the Hollywood Access tape pussy-grabbing thing came out, they didn’t turn against him (you know, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and all these others)—because they recognized: “Here is somebody who is going outside of the whole rules and the way this is done in the ‘swamp of Washington,’ who will actually carry through on this stuff. So even though Ted Cruz is more like what we’re about, he’s too much been a part of those dynamics. Trump is outside of that. Trump will actually carry through on these things.” And Trump, for his part, recognized that if didn’t get this force behind him, he was not going to be able to do it.

The historical analogy this calls to mind is the deal Hitler made with the military in 1934. Hitler came to power, but for a long time the military was not really under his command. It still was under the more traditional command. And at a certain point Trump (I mean Hitler) struck a deal in 1934 with the military. The military would come under his command, and in return he would smash the Storm Troopers, the SA, the brown shirts—which he did. And there’s a certain analogy here to Trump and the Christian Fascists, that Trump took up their program. Look who he nominated to the Supreme Court, a Christian Fascist lunatic, Gorsuch. And look who he’s nominating.... he’s doing what he said he would do, as far as the main programmatic things. He’s delivering what these other people wouldn’t carry through and deliver for them because they were still “playing the game” of bourgeois politics as it’s been carried out. So this is an important thing to understand.

Pence is obviously a critical linchpin in this, in this alliance, this uniting of what’s represented by Trump—his own personal ambitions and everything bound up with that—and the Christian Fascists, and programmatically what he (Trump) has taken up in order to get where he’s going and in order to keep going with it. And this is why the regular bourgeois institutions, especially those more in the center of things, like CNN, the Democratic Party and so on, they keep bringing in historical analogies which don’t pan out or don’t pan out completely. You know, they keep saying: “He can’t do that, that’s not the way things are done.” But then he does it, because he’s not playing by those rules. He’s not working within the norms as they’ve been. He is going directly up against them, precisely as an important part of what he’s doing. I mean who ever heard of somebody tweeting all this stuff—not just the asinine stuff but the actual really fascist stuff, including attacks on other people within the ruling structures. You know, Comey’s a nut job, Adam Schiff is a sleazy Democratic politician. I mean, who heard of anybody doing that—that’s outside the norms. This is an important part of what Trump is doing. And Pence is a real linchpin of this, cementing the Christian Fascists—or hinging them together, if you want to continue the analogy: Trump and what he represents and particularly the Christian Fascists. And it’s worth pointing out what was quoted from Andrew Sullivan way back in the Clinton supplement, The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy...And Why Clinton the Democrats Are No Answer, where it says: nowadays some are saying the religious fundamentalist element of this right-wing thing is not the going thing, it’s the fiscal conservatives who want to cut social programs, cut benefits to people, slash taxes for the rich, and so on—those are the ones who have the initiative. And it was pointed out: Well, that may be a very temporary thing, but in an overall sense these Christian Fascists are the ones more setting the terms within this whole fascist thing. And Sullivan pointed out: Even people who are fiscal conservatives—this is writing way back almost 20 years ago, but it’s even more true now—even the ones who are fiscal conservatives have to wrap up their program in this language of this Christian fundamentalism. So this is an important point to understand. And I’ll come back to the whole question of: Well, if we get rid of Trump, then we’ll get Pence, and that might be even worse.

I think it’s important to identify what we can call the triad of fascism, that is, the unapologetic aggressive assertion of white supremacy, male supremacy and American supremacy (or racism, misogyny and bellicose xenophobic jingoism, if you want to use other terminology), reinforced with defiantly—not apologetically, defiantly—ignorant and belligerent opposition to science and rational thought, combined with equally ignorant and belligerent assertion of the “superiority of western civilization,” as evidenced in Trump’s recent speech in Poland. And once again, referring back to what I read from Jackson Lears’ The Rebirth of a Nation, speaking about things at the turn of the previous century, more than 100 years ago, you can see sharply manifested the intertwining and mutual reinforcement of all of this.

Along with this, we have the fascist thuggery—both physical thuggery and intellectual thuggery: mindless storm troopers, coupled with perverted pretensions of victimhood and irrational rationalizations for atrocities. Think about it: You have these storm troopers—you know, the Oath Keepers, the Ku Klux Klan, and all the rest of these people, the Proud Boys, or whatever they’re called—out there in the streets carrying guns, and so on. And you have the NRA videos basically calling for people to engage in civil war against anything positive in society. But you also have the Ann Coulters and others out there with their intellectual thuggery, presenting at one and the same time the Christian Fascists and other fascists as victims. Somehow these people—whose representatives are in power, with a fascist regime implementing its program—somehow they’re the victims, they’re the Christians in the Coliseum with the lions being turned loose on them. Why? Well, there is this book by this guy—his name is, it’s not Jimmy Kimmel, it’s another Kimmel (Michael Kimmel)—called Angry White Men. And he made a statement which I think speaks to a lot of this sort of mobilized resentment, this frustrated entitlement. He said: If you’ve been in a situation—speaking about men who feel aggrieved these days because “the bitches are getting everything their way”—if you’re used to having everything 100% in your favor, and then it’s cut down to 75%, I guess it feels like you’re being persecuted. And that’s essentially what’s happening here. There have been certain concessions to the struggle against things like white supremacy, and patriarchy in different forms, and so on and so forth. So this feels to these people like their birthright of superiority—even if they’re not wealthy and powerful, all of them, some of them are—their birthright is being undercut and diminished and destroyed by these minor concessions. I think this is very important to understand. Then there’s the irrational rationalizations for atrocity. I mean just look at Ann Coulter—pure irrationality but in the service of all kinds of horrendous things—advocacy of horrendous acts: Go in (to Muslim countries), and kill all their leaders, convert them all to Christianity—on and on and on—you can cite these things endlessly.

So I think it is very important to understand this phenomenon. But I also want to stress, again, the importance of not being cowed by it, but boldly countering these fascist thugs in every sphere—including the intellectual sphere and including the physical storm troopers—but, at the same time, doing so as part of a broader movement to drive out this fascist regime, and from our standpoint, in terms of what’s fundamentally needed, part of advancing the 3 Prepares: Prepare the Ground, Prepare the People, Prepare the Vanguard—Get Ready for the Time When Millions Can Be Led to Fight All-out for Revolution With a Real Chance of Winning.

It’s very important, in connection with all this and overall, to correctly handle the contradiction between the essence of the bourgeois capitalist state, the dictatorial essence of that, and the appearance of democracy—which, on the other hand, the fascists are moving to resolve in their own way by getting rid of the appearance and moving to grotesque outright dictatorship. And in all this, once again, we can see the long shadow of slavery and the continuing oppression of Black people playing a pivotal role, including in fascist rule today. Among this is its expression through the normal electoral set-up. This includes the whole voter suppression thing, which has taken another leap with this commission supposedly investigating voter fraud, which is really a commission for further voter suppression. And you can see it in the skewing of the electoral process to favor the conservative—that is, the reactionary and fascist-inclined—areas and forces. I saw on one of these programs—I think it was on MSNBC—somebody was saying that there is an analysis that by the year 2030 (or something like that, within a couple of decades anyway) 30% of the population will be represented by 70% of the Senate, and 70% of the population will be represented by 30%. This is an important phenomenon, because is it necessary for them to do away with all the electoral processes? It may not be necessary, because things are skewed toward these rural areas, and small states which tend to be highly rural as well (in many cases, not in all cases). Then you don’t necessarily have to do away with the whole electoral process. And that’s an additional reason—not the most essential reason, but an additional reason—why this whole Democratic Party strategy of “We’re going to flip all these elections in 2018 and win the White House back in 2020,” is out of line with what’s actually happening. I’m not saying they couldn’t possibly win an election, if there is an election in those years, but there’s something going on here. Which, once again, if you think about what led to the electoral college in the first place, and the way the representation in the Senate is set up, and on top of that the way the Congressional districts have been gerrymandered so that sometimes you have like one district... you have a lot of Black people in an area, they’re overwhelmingly in one district, and then all the other districts are the white people in the area... all this kind of thing is part of what they’ve been building up for decades now, which is taking another leap.

And we have to understand, and struggle for people to understand, the straight-up Nazi mentality of this fascism and its consciously genocidal—not only implications but intentions. I go back to that comment, once again, by that “sleazy Congressman,” Adam Schiff. I remember seeing him talking about the original Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act, or whatever they call it) when it was passed. One of his constituents came up to him and asked him how he voted on it, and he said he voted for it, for Obamacare. And his constituent is obviously displeased and asks him: “Why’d you vote for it?” He gave a number of reasons, and then he said: “Well, and besides, one of the main reasons is that people who otherwise couldn’t afford health care can now get it.” Then this guy said: “And you think that’s a good thing?” Adam Schiff said: “Yes, I do. Don’t you?” And the guy said: “No! If they can’t afford it, they shouldn’t have it.” Now, think about the implications of this kind on mentality that’s been built up and primed among sections of the people into a fascist force. This depraved world view that certain types of people—including obviously Black people, other oppressed peoples, but also old people, sick people, women and so on, especially ones who want to have birth control and abortion—that these are people who are seen by these fascist forces as a drain and a stain on society and civilization, and who, therefore, deserve to die (or, what is the same thing, do not deserve to live or to be assisted to live).

There’s a great deal concentrated in and great importance to this statement which appears regularly on revcom.us:

The Democrats, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, etc., are seeking to resolve the crisis with the Trump presidency on the terms of this system, and in the interests of the ruling class of this system, which they represent. We, the masses of people, must go all out, and mobilize ourselves in the millions, to resolve this in our interests, in the interests of humanity, which are fundamentally different from and opposed to those of the ruling class.

This is extremely important, and it was very heartening to read about what happened in L.A. when the Trump fascist people came out and were yelling: “U.S.A., U.S.A.,” and the people who were there with Refuse Fascism were led to chant: “Humanity first! Humanity first!”—which drowned out, and actually in the short run silenced, these fascists.

Now, it is also important to go on with the second part of this statement which says:

This, of course, does not mean that the struggle among the powers that be is irrelevant or unimportant; rather, the way to understand and approach this (and this is a point that must also be repeatedly driven home to people, including through necessary struggle, waged well) is in terms of how it relates to, and what openings it can provide for, “the struggle from below”—for the mobilization of masses of people around the demand that the whole regime must go, because of its fascist nature and actions and what the stakes are for humanity.

The Democrats, and the section of the ruling class generally aligned with them, do not and cannot provide any answer to this fascism that is in the interests of the people, of humanity, because they are part of the same system which has created the conditions that gave rise to and fostered this fascism, and they share with the fascist section of the ruling class fundamental interests and assumptions, not least grotesque American chauvinism. This repeatedly comes out from all these institutions of the media and the Democratic Party. And all you have to do is think back to the 2016 Democratic Party Convention that nominated that hawk Hillary Clinton and think how this got concentrated, when not only was there militarism and “U.S.A., U.S.A.” emanating from the stage, but then this got concentrated when some of the people from Oregon, I believe it was, at a certain point, in opposition to all this jingoism and chauvinism, began to chant, “No War, No War, No War,” and they were drowned out by the mass of the delegates yelling, “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” So just think about that.

Or think about the question of the fundamental lie of American society—the fundamental lie that “you can make it if you try.” Now, think about this: In the middle of the election, a Trump campaign functionary in Ohio was forced to resign—even a Trump campaign functionary was forced to resign—because she said: If you’re Black and in America today and you’re not making it, it’s your own fault, you aren’t trying hard enough, you’re not working hard enough. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the essence of what she said. She had to resign from the Trump campaign because of that. That’s because she put it in baldly negative terms, openly blaming the people. But I would like somebody to explain to me: What is the difference in logic between that and Barack Obama’s statement in his victory speech in the 2012 election when he said: The great thing about America is if you work hard you can succeed. What is the difference in substance, in the essence of what’s being said, between that and what this woman in Ohio in the Trump campaign had to resign because she said? It’s exactly the same statement, except one is put in very negative terms, and the other is put in very “positive, hopeful” terms by the man of the “audacity of hope.” But it’s exactly the same message, because what is the logic of: If you work hard in America and do the right things, you can succeed? The logic is: If you’re not succeeding, you’re not doing the right things and not working hard—which is exactly what the woman from the Trump campaign said and had to resign over. So you can see a number—we could go through others, but I am running out of time, so I won’t—but there are many other examples in which they share fundamental assumptions because of the very nature of the system that they represent.

So, in sum on this, even as they do have real and in some aspects very acute differences and conflicts with the fascist section of the ruling class, including over the norms of political rule, they are an expression and an instrument of the same capitalist-imperialist system which produces daily horrors for humanity on a massive scale and which has spewed forth this fascism as a response to a situation that has resulted, above all and most fundamentally, from the basic contradictions and dynamics of this very system that all these politicians and political forces represent and serve.

Now, many have raised: If we drive out Trump—here I want speak to this—then we’ll just get Pence, and if anything he is even worse. Here it’s worth referring back to what was said earlier about the deal between Trump and the Christian Fascists, which Pence symbolizes and whose outlook and program he aggressively spreads and fights for, that of the Christian Fascists. But it’s important to understand that it’s not a matter of just driving out Trump and getting Pence. That way of seeing things, once again, reflects still too much being confined within, and weighed down by, the normal way of seeing and doing things, which is precisely the trap that people have to break out of in their millions and millions. It is a matter not of getting rid of Trump and getting Pence, but it is a matter of driving out the whole Trump/Pence regime. It is a matter of a massive and sustained political mobilization and resistance from below. It is a matter of changing the whole political landscape, the whole political situation, culture and atmosphere in society. If, and as, this begins to happen on the scale and with the determination that is needed, this, in turn, will have significant repercussions among the ruling political forces, creating or deepening cracks and divisions among them and forcing at least sections of the “liberal” ruling class forces to pretend to recognize the legitimacy of what this mass mobilization is demanding, while at the same time seeking to co-opt it and bring it back within the normal and “acceptable” channels and positions. This, in turn, must be responded to by seizing on the further openings that are created by all this, to draw even greater numbers of people into the massive and sustained mobilization. And this overall dynamic must be continued, amplified and accelerated toward the goal of actually driving out this regime before it can fully consolidate its rule and implement its program. All this will be necessary and crucial in order to drive out this regime, and driving out this whole regime in this way would create more favorable conditions for bringing about even further positive change in the interests of not just people in this country who are sick to death of this regime and refuse to accept a fascist America, but of all humanity.

The last thing on this point: there’s the question of what is the relationship between the principal objective now of driving out this fascist regime and the fundamental objective of the revolution we need. Here we have to speak very briefly to Naomi Klein and her book No is Not Enough. Now, it’s very significant that she had to put out a book with that title, even though she didn’t put the exclamation point on the NO. It’s very significant she had to speak to this NO. And what is the answer to that? The answer is, first of all: NO is necessary, vitally necessary. Driving out this regime, in other words, is critical at this point. At the same time, no, it is not enough. And the fact is—which we, again, going back to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, have to be bringing to people in a very bold and vigorous way—that there is a real, viable radical alternative beyond just driving out this regime: the new communism, the revolution it is the foundation for, and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic it has brought forth.

In conclusion on this point, we can go back to the conclusion of the Weimar Republic article and what it says there: that the attack by fascist forces on the Weimar Republic, especially when these fascist forces are in power, is something that has to be opposed; but what needs to be brought forward, fundamentally and ultimately, is not the Weimar Republic, or an even more grotesque and murderous form of what is represented by the Weimar Republic—that is, the bourgeois-democratic form of bourgeois dictatorship and the capitalist-imperialist system it enforces—but the radical alternative represented by revolution, represented and embodied in the new society, the new society represented and embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, and the ultimate goal of a communist world. That is what fundamentally and ultimately needs to replace the Weimar Republic—and, at this point, the road to that lies through driving out this regime and then carrying forward the struggle toward that goal of revolution and a radically new society.

 

 

Part 4: Once More on the Crucial Role of Leadership

Here, I refer people, in addition to what I’m going to say now, to the fourth part of THE NEW COMMUNISM.

As a matter of fundamental orientation and approach, what is needed are emancipators of humanity, “on fire for revolution” and wanting revolution badly enough to approach it scientifically; propagating, and fighting, consistently, boldly to win people to this revolution; not tailing but leading people, including through comradely but compelling struggle, to carry forward “Fight the power, and Transform the People, for Revolution,” and advance the “3 Prepares.”

In this context, I want to talk about something that is spoken to in one of the sections of Part 4 of THE NEW COMMUNISM—what’s referred to as another kind of pyramid. I want to speak to this both because it’s important and also because I have the sense that, at least in some ways, there’s been a misrepresentation (or a misunderstanding and misrepresentation) of what’s being said there. The point isn’t just that when you are engaging in political work and discussion and struggle with various class forces you have to never forget what it is you are standing on and what it is you represent in the fullest sense—not in a tailist sense—that you represent the fundamental interests of the exploited and oppressed of the world and the need for communism to put an end to that oppression and exploitation. That point is very important, that in working among all different sections of the people, as we must, we must never forget that most fundamental thing and have it constantly in mind. But if this point about another kind of pyramid is reduced to that, it’s going to be distorted and vitiated. Its real meaning is going to be lost—the essence of what’s being said here and the contradictions that it’s dealing with. The point here is not just that you have to not forget what fundamentally you’re representing and keep this consistently mind in going among all sections of the people; the point is that you need to go among all sections of the people, you need to engage in discussion and struggle with people of all different strata, and you need to engage in the realm of ideology and philosophy, if you will, theory—you need to do all that, and because you need to do that, then you need to not ever forget what it is that you represent, and you need to consistently fight to do that with the scientific outlook and method of communism as it’s been further developed through the new synthesis of communism. That’s the point of “another pyramid,” and if that first part is lost sight of it becomes narrowed down, and becomes in effect economism, and feeds economism and tailing the oppressed among the masses. It becomes a form of reification, of turning yourself into just a representative of those masses in a narrow, and even in a tailist, sense. So I want to stress that point. It’s really important that this point, which is a very important point, be understood correctly, in its full dimensions and in the full amplitude of the contradictions that it’s dealing with, in particular that contradiction between the need to go among all sections of the people and to engage in the struggle in the realm of ideology and theory and work in the realm of theory and discussion and struggle with people representing different world outlooks and ultimately different social forces and class interests—and in that context and because of the need to do that, never losing sight of what fundamentally it is you’re representing and what outlook and methodology you must bring to bear consistently in doing so.

What we need—once again, a point that’s stressed in the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, as well as in THE NEW COMMUNISM—we need strategic commanders of the revolution, people consistently approaching everything from the strategic standpoint of how to work and fight through the contradictions to actually make revolution, continually grappling with the problems of the revolution, with the goal of advancing toward the emancipation of all humanity with the achievement of communism on a world scale as the consistent guiding orientation. And this means being—among other things, other important things—it means being alert to, and constantly seeking to draw lessons from, major events in society and the world, as well as grappling with and deepening the grasp and application of theory and, in particular, method, all in relation to the strategic objective of revolution and the ultimate goal of communism on a world scale.

Here, let’s talk a little bit about this question of weighing major social and world events— not approaching them in some abstract sense, but weighing them specifically in relation to the goal of revolution, and even more specifically, what is concentrated in “How We Can Win.” For example, a strategic commander of the revolution, when seeing the exposure and the living reality of the horror in Mosul, would think not only about the crimes of imperialism, as well as the crimes of these reactionary fundamentalist jihadists, not only about the devastation that’s brought about by these forces, but would also think about what can we learn from this in terms of what should and should not be done in actually making a revolution that has to go up against these forces, in particular the massive machinery of these imperialists. For example, what light does this shed on why, in the third part of “How We Can Win,” it talks about not openly controlling and governing territory until a very late stage in the overall struggle? What does the experience in Mosul have to do with that? What can you learn from that? Why is that principle in there? See, that’s the kind of thing that a strategic commander of the revolution—just to cite one example—would think about. Not because that’s the form of struggle that we’re engaging in now. We’re not. We’ve made that point many times. We’re talking about—and it’s very explicit in the third part of “How We Can Win”—a radically different, qualitatively different, situation with a ripening revolutionary situation and revolutionary people emerging in the millions and millions. But strategically we have to be thinking about that. What does this struggle going on at the ruling class levels of society—what does that have to do with our more immediate objectives, but even more fundamentally, with our strategic objectives?

I remember, back a long time ago, one of these youth who was very dogmatic and, not surprisingly, didn’t stick around after a while, but who was impressing everybody by memorizing many of my works—I remember talking in a meeting with some of these youth, including that person, about something I’d read in the New York Times. And he made the comment: “Why would you even bother to read the New York Times?”That is not a strategic commander of the revolution. It’s not just a question of, metaphorically speaking, “doing reconnaissance on the enemy”—politically speaking now. It’s a matter of looking at all the major events in society and the world and how different class forces are reacting to them and seeking to work on them, and what that has to do with our strategic goal and the application of our strategy to get toward that strategic goal. This is what it means, and everybody from the newest person in the ranks of the revolution to the most seasoned leader of the revolution, should be doing this on the level on which they’re capable at any given time and constantly striving to raise their level, not just individually but as part of the collective process, to be able to contribute more fully. This is a very important point I want to stress about strategic commanders—what that means and how that has to be applied, how people should be approaching it. We have to be thinking in terms of how are we actually going to make this revolution, how are we actually going to work through the contradictions and solve the problems of the revolution from here all the way forward. And what do all these different social events and world events and the actions of different class forces in relation to them have to do with all that, at every given point, as well as in an overall strategic sense?

And I want to say a word in this context about the new synthesis of communism, the new communism and the leadership of BA. “The basis for a new wave of communist revolution that is urgently needed in the world and the leading edge in building for that revolution in this country, as a crucial part of that worldwide revolutionary struggle”—I just read this like a mantra, on purpose, and that is not how it should be seen and approached. These are not empty words to be ignored or occasionally recited like religious incantations, but something to be deeply grasped and resolutely fought for— everyday, everywhere, among all sections of the people. And you have to basically ask yourself: Look, what is objectively the importance of this new synthesis of communism? What is objectively the importance of this leadership? And it gets back to the “As long as” sentence. (The “As long as” sentence refers to the understanding that, as long as we are basing ourselves on, and actively propagating and working toward, the goal of communist revolution, then it should be easy to promote and popularize the crucial role of BA’s leadership and the new synthesis of communism he has brought forward.) Do you really understand what’s being said there? Do you really understand what’s embodied in this new synthesis? Do you really understand what this leadership represents? And therefore do you go out among the masses of people to struggle with them about this, in a way that flows out of that scientific understanding and not out of religiosity? This is something very important for the masses of people to know about and to take up, to themselves become active fighters for, and to apply actively as part of the overall collective process of the revolution.

I want to read something important which we all can cite but we really need to, once again, struggle with people to deeply grasp and recognize the significance of this. The following is from the first of the January 1, 2016 Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party (It says “U.S.A.” but I’m just going to say Revolutionary Communist Party—No U.S.A, No U.S.A.—anyway, let’s get serious here, although I was serious about that, but anyway, to continue...) It says:

As Bob Avakian himself has emphasized, the new synthesis:

represents and embodies a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has existed within communism in its development up to this point, between its fundamentally scientific method and approach, and aspects of communism which have run counter to this.

And:

What is most fundamental and essential in the new synthesis is the further development and synthesis of communism as a scientific method and approach, and the more consistent application of this scientific method and approach to reality in general and in particular the revolutionary struggle to overturn and uproot all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression and advance to a communist world.

Now, is that important or not important? It depends on what you’re aiming for, what you understand, once again, about what the problem is and what the solution is. Sometimes people say... I saw somebody, a minister, quoted somewhere making a positive comment but he had to, of course, start it off with a slightly snarky, negative comment: While I don’t understand all this devotional stuff about BA, I have to say these revolutionary communists are everywhere, they’re always everywhere—I wish we could be like that. I’m paraphrasing, but he was saying: I wish we were as consistent and always there in the struggle.

Well, by the way, you are the one who deals in the devotional dimension of things. You are part of inventing a god, elevating something above human beings so you can engage in devotion toward it. That’s not what we do. But in any case, I don’t want to be snarky in turn. The point is, how do you understand why it is that the communists, when they’re actually acting with the method and approach and the line they should, are consistently out there fighting on all these different fronts—around the 5 Stops, for short—in opposition to this whole system? Why are they doing that? Because they have a scientific understanding of the problem and solution, for short.

And what does this “devotional element”—which must not be religious devotion, but science—what does this have to do with that? Once, again it’s back to the “As long as” sentence. Is it important that—is it true, first of all, that this science has been qualitatively developed, that there’s been a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has run through communism from the beginning up till now? Is that true? And is that important? The answer is yes and yes. But that’s the basis on which people have to really take this out and struggle with people about it. This is monumentally important to people—that there’s a more consistently scientific approach to understanding why people are in the situation they’re in and what must be done to get to a radically different situation which is liberatory, which is emancipating. If you approach it with religiosity and religious incantations, you’re not going to: A) convince anybody; and more fundamentally, you are actually undermining the very essence of what this is all about. Because it’s about science, and it’s not about religion.

And I want to go to the Sixth Resolution, where it speaks to the fact of BA being subordinate to the Party in one dimension but greater than the Party in another, and that the latter aspect is principal. Once again, we’re back to: what is the importance of what’s been brought forward here? There’s a unity between Resolution 1 and Resolution 6. I mean, there’s a unity between all of the Six Resolutions, but there’s a particular unity between Resolution 1 and Resolution 6. Why is this new synthesis important? How should we present this to people? To use a perhaps over-used but still valid analogy, imagine when Pasteur came forward and said: “I’ve developed something that will prevent people from going through the terrors and the horrors of rabies.” And people said: “Well, you can’t do that. Everybody knows there’s always going to be rabies, people are always going to have rabies. If you get bitten by a dog or a wild animal, you’re going to have rabies. What are you talking about?” Imagine if people had that attitude towards somebody that brought forward an actual way to deal with rabies so that people weren’t put through the whole... I mean it’s a horrific thing, rabies. Imagine if that were the attitude: “I don’t have to think about that.” Or imagine, in relation to the smallpox vaccine (and millions of people in the history of humanity suffered and died from smallpox) or the fact that the plague could be dealt with by antibiotics now, and it was a terrible scourge on humanity—imagine if when those things were brought forward people said: “I don’t care about that. Besides, you can’t do that. Everybody knows people will always get smallpox. It’s just the way it is. It’s human nature, people get smallpox, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So I don’t have to find out about your supposed vaccine that deals with rabies, or your vaccine that deals with smallpox.” Or imagine the Salk vaccine, dealing with polio— that was another scourge on people. Imagine if people said: “I really don’t care about that. Why are you making such a big deal about this guy Salk and the fact that he did something about polio? Everybody knows you always are going to have polio. That’s just the way it is. Children are going to go out to swim in water and they’re going to get polio—that’s just the way it is. You can’t do anything about it.” Imagine if people... I know there are people full of idiocy now about vaccines, including people who should know better, but imagine if that had been the reaction to these kinds of breakthroughs in medicine.

Well, we’re dealing with a much, much greater scourge on humanity than even these terrible diseases. And we’ve identified it—it’s capitalism-imperialism. And there’s an answer to it. It’s not some magic potion, but there’s an answer to it. There’s a way forward out of it. Is that important to the masses of people? Or can that also be dismissed in a flippant way, this irresponsible way: “People are always going to...society is always going to be like this...people are always going to be like this. It’s just human nature. This is the best of all possible worlds.” Or: “It’s no good, but you can’t do anything about it.” Why should we—when we’re talking about something that’s a road forward out of a much greater scourge for humanity than even those terrible diseases—why should we not be impatiently and vigorously struggling with people about that, if that’s what we run into? Or even the people who are not coming from such a bad place—masses of people out there who don’t even know what the problem is, they’re caught up in it and suffering terribly as a result of it, but they don’t know what the problem is. You know, it’s no different than people centuries ago who thought—and some of this still exists in the world today—people who thought that these terrible diseases were the result of demon possession, or whatever, because the Bible told them so. Or the religious authorities told them so. All these terrible ways in which ignorance was imposed on people in a way that reinforced the most horrific conditions of life that they were subjected to as a result of real material forces of the system they were forced to live under. Masses of people out there are going through all this horrific suffering—and on top of it, they don’t even understand what it is and why they’re going through it. And all too often they’re led and misled to blame themselves on top of all the rest of the horrors.

Is it important what we have to bring to them? Is it important that there’s not some magic solution or magic wand you can wave, but there is a road of struggle to deal with this scourge of humanity? Is it important that these things like the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, like the strategic approach to revolution, like an understanding of the relation between the struggle in one country and the worldwide struggle, like an understanding of how all these different 5 Stops relate to each other and relate to the fundamental dynamics of this system, and how they all have to be taken on in a unified struggle, that you can’t eliminate every form of oppression but one—is that important to people? Is that important to the people, not just in this country, but the people of the world? This is the question that has to be answered, and there is an answer to it. It’s extremely important, and people have to go out there and fight for this on nothing less than the basis of that scientific understanding, not with religiosity which leads them to drop it as soon as somebody challenges them, or lets these other people set the terms. There’s going to be lots of opposition, including from people who desperately need this, you know—the nationalism, “I don’t want to follow a white man, I want to follow somebody Black,” or whatever it is. And people have to be told: “Look, you don’t understand—we’ve never had leadership like this. This is something that we’ve never had before that we now have.” If you have a terrible disease you want to go to the doctor that actually might have a cure for this disease. And if it turns out that doctor is this nationality or this gender or that, well, so be it.

The question is: Are we going to find a solution to the terrors and horrors that people are being put through without even understanding why? That’s the way we have to go out to people. This is something we have that’s beyond anything that we’ve had before—way beyond anything we’ve had before. This new synthesis of communism, this scientific approach, what’s concentrated in that First Resolution and in the Sixth Resolution—the importance of that being fought for as the leading edge in building revolution in this country, and also as what is needed throughout the world for people to take up the fight for their emancipation—this is what we have to be grounding ourselves on. And if you do, then into play comes the “As long as” sentence: It’s not hard to go out and fight for this, if you actually are grounding yourself in what the problem is, what the solution is, what this is all about and what we’re all about.

This is critical in terms of the great challenge we face immediately before us—in an ongoing way, but acutely right now—forging a real revolutionary vanguard on the basis of the new communism. This is a contradiction and a challenge profoundly, that’s acutely posed now. We need a living, flowing OHIO, as we’ve described it, a process where people are moving forward from their first engagement with the revolution, through struggle and contradiction, and sometimes backward motion and forward again, toward actually becoming part of the vanguard of this revolution. We need to be continually bringing forward and recruiting into the Party new forces from among the basic masses, especially the youth, but also among students and intellectuals and other sections of the people, on the basis of the new communism and everything that it opens up and everything that it provides the path to, nothing else and nothing less.

So the final point I want to speak to is the interrelation and positive synergy, you could say, between bringing forward new forces, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the continuing Cultural Revolution within the Party at any given time to effect its radical transformation to really and fully becoming the vanguard it needs to be and to rise to the profound challenges that must be confronted, in an acute way now and repeatedly throughout the process of actually making revolution—aiming, once again, for nothing less than the emancipation of humanity with the achievement of communism throughout the world.

We have to correctly handle this contradictory relationship. We have correctly identified that the main way we’re going to revolutionize this Party is by bringing in new forces on the basis of the new communism and nothing else and nothing less. And we have to be understanding that as a strategic goal but also one which we have to make immediate further breakthroughs on now, and in an ongoing way, at the same time as we need to continue to carry forward the struggle within the Party as it is at any given time—and especially as it is, given the positive injections (so to speak) of these new forces on the basis of the new communism—the continuing Cultural Revolution to actually effect the radical transformation of this Party to more fully and really become the vanguard it needs to be. We are acutely put to the test around this now, because of everything we’re up against in the objective situation, including this fascist regime and the fascist forces it is mobilizing and unleashing, as well as the wielding of state power that it now has largely in its hands—not without contradiction, but largely in its hands. And the horrors, the even greater horrors, this is going to bring forward. All that on the one hand. On the other hand, and dialectically related to that, the fundamental understanding of the problem and the solution and the need for revolution as the North Star we continually are guided by, in every particular immediate struggle and phase of things, whatever they might be, including the present one. So we have to handle well this contradiction. But we have to recognize this is a real challenge that we have to take up. It can’t be relegated to a secondary thing, buried underneath whatever immediate tasks there are. As Mao said, so many deeds do cry out to be done. There are so many pressing tasks and responsibilities that we do have to take up and shoulder, because we have the basis to do so and, in the fullest sense, nobody else does—not because, again, we have some better human nature, but because we have a scientific method and approach and its further development through the new synthesis. So we do have to meet all these immediate challenges; but, at the same time, and dialectically related to that, mutually reinforcing in either a positive or negative way, is the challenge of bringing forward new forces to the Party and making that an active process, an active task in that sense—something we’re continually and consistently working on—at the same time as we’re also carrying out the process of leading with this and only this line, and insisting on this and only this line, and modeling this and only this line. This is the contradiction we have to handle well because, look, we can talk about all the things we need to talk about, we can figure out how to move around all the particular challenges we face, but even in order to meet those challenges, as well as more fundamentally in order to actually get to the point where a solution can be brought about to this system that continually spews worse horror after worse horror, requires an instrumentality that has the scientific grounding and methodology to be able to lead through all the complexity and difficulty and the very daunting challenges of all kinds, including the repressive challenges that are bound to come, in order to do that.

So I want to end by emphasizing that: This really has to be, increasingly and more and more fully, a party that is based on this, this new communism, nothing else, nothing less, with all the contradiction and struggle that this is inevitably going to entail.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/problem-solution-and-challenges-before-us/excerpt-1-from-bob-avakian-the-problem-the-solution-and-the-challenges-before-us-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Excerpt posted October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Excerpt from

New Talk by Bob Avakian:
The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us

Excerpt from Part 1: Breaking with American Chauvinism and the Killing Confines of Capitalism

Contrary to all the mythology that is constantly perpetrated and perpetuated through the dominant institutions of this society and all of its spokespeople, the wealth of this country and the situation of the people within it is not owing to some great freedoms that are particular to this country and to the great innovativeness that this freedom allows and encourages. To get to the reality of what this really rests on we could go back to Marx, speaking about the primitive accumulation of capitalism on the basis of horrific plunder and unbelievable exploitation of masses of people in far-flung parts of the world. This provided the foundation on which the accumulation of capitalism began, coming out of feudal society, and the basis on which whatever innovation was carried out ultimately rested. Marx also spoke of the “rosy dawn” of capitalism with great irony. In the book Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones, I quoted Jack Weatherford who wrote Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World. He begins with this statement: “The capitalists [speaking of the United States, in particular, but the capitalists in Europe and other places as well—these capitalists] built the new structure on the twin supports of the slave trade from Africa to America and the piracy of American silver.” And then he goes on to quote Marx about the rosy dawn: “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.” This is a basic and irrefutable truth.

We hear in connection with all these notions of the great freedom and innovativeness of people in this country and how the freedom allows for this innovativeness—we hear a lot about the expression “American exceptionalism.” Now, when first hearing this term you might think...you might not recognize that there is actually a certain ironic twist to this. You might think: “Yeah, well, that makes sense, ‘American exceptionalism,’ we have this good democracy here and people have a lot of freedom, but of course there are some things that ran really contrary to that in the history of the country—like the genocide against the Indians and all the slavery and everything else. Yeah that makes sense, it’s an exception, it’s a democracy but it’s kind of an exception because it has all these negative features associated with it.” And then, lo and behold, you discover that’s not what it means—that American exceptionalism means America is exceptionally good, that even in comparison to all the other “capitalist democracies” in the world, there’s something special, the shining city on the hill, as Reagan, for example, invoked it. You know, this image that there’s something particularly and specially good about America and its people. And you have to think: what an irony. This is completely upside down. If anybody wants to talk about exception, it should be talked about in the way I was just referring to it—that here are some real negative things here that stand in sharp conflict to “our democracy” which we still haven’t yet overcome. But no, it means the opposite—we’re exceptionally good.

And think of the level of American chauvinism you have to have internalized not to vomit upon hearing that. Let’s look a little bit more at the actual founding cornerstones and the long shadow of slavery in this country along with the genocidal dispossession and rounding up into concentration camps called reservations of the native population, the original population.

The treatment of Black people in this country, the horrific oppression of Black people from the time of slavery down to today—if you want to talk about a special characteristic of America, that’s one of the most distinguishing. And that slavery has been built into the very foundation: it is a cornerstone of the entire society, and its shadow continues to cast itself over the entire society, the entire country and everything about it, right down to today. If you look at the founding documents of this country—for example, if you look at the Declaration of Independence—what are the indictments that are made against the King of England in declaring independence? Among them is the following: “He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.” Now, think about this. Here are people who repeatedly broke treaties with these very Native Americans, the original inhabitants, who never in fact kept a single treaty they made with them, who drove them repeatedly off the land—would grant them land but, “Oh, wait a minute, there’s gold there.” So they have to be uprooted again and put on these Trail of Tears marches where thousands died over and over and over again. And then, in turn, we hear these people described as “the merciless Indian Savages” whom the King of England is inciting against these settlers. This is one of the great crimes of the King of England according to the Declaration of Independence. Again, reality is turned completely on its head.

And then of course it goes on and talks about how the King of England has forced the slave trade upon the European settlers of this territory—as if somehow none of them, including Thomas Jefferson, wanted to have slaves. Never mind the fact that he engineered the Louisiana Purchase to greatly expand the territory that would be slave-based. Somehow supposedly the King of England is responsible for forcing slavery on people like Jefferson and these other founders.

Or look at the Constitution of the United States. Not only the infamous three-fifths clause which declared that the slaves were three-fifths human beings, to be counted as three-fifths for the purposes of taxation and representation; but even such things as the electoral college were in fact engineered in that way, established, and established in their particular forms, as concessions to the slave states. Recently in the New York Times, in a special supplement on the Constitution on July 2, 2017, Garry Wills went into how the Second Amendment itself was not about individuals owning arms—that’s not what was being... that was not the concern that was being addressed. It was, in particular, the right of the slave states to have militias to hunt down slaves and put down slave insurrections. So right there, again, in the very founding of this country’s basic documents, and in the way this has extended its shadow right down to today, the horrific oppression of the original inhabitants, and then of Black people—or of Black people along with that—it’s right at the core of what this country is about, from the beginning to today. The fact is that white supremacy and its continuation in different, but always horrific, forms has been built into the very foundation and structures, the social relations and the culture of this system in this country and is an indispensable part of its ongoing cohesion and functioning.

Now, in light of all this, you might think it’s a little ridiculous when people say something like: “Fascism couldn’t really happen here. We have all these institutional protections against it, and, once again, we are these exceptional people. So how could fascism happen here? It couldn’t happen here.” Oh no, it couldn’t happen here. Not in a country founded on slavery and genocide and steeped in white supremacy as well as male supremacy, manifest destiny and white man’s burden. Oh no, it couldn’t happen in a country like that. And it is important to point out about all these things—the white supremacy, the male supremacy, the American chauvinism, the manifest destiny, the white man’s burden—all of these have been, and remain, intertwined and mutually reinforcing.

If you turn to the book, for example, The Rebirth of a Nation by Jackson Lears—which focuses on the era when the U.S. really pushed itself out into the world as a colonial power, gobbling up the Philippines as well as Puerto Rico, Guam and Cuba, and entering onto the world stage on a level of thuggery previously unseen—he talks about how all this was bound up with a certain sense of male identity and male assertiveness, as well as white supremacy, in rather grotesque forms, unvarnished, the way we’re seeing it coming back now, unvarnished, under the Trump/Pence fascist regime. For example, he cites the woman, Rebecca Latimer Felton, who was the wife and campaign manager, not of a dog catcher, but of a U.S. Congressman, who said that one of the great problems in American society was that men were not providing adequate attention to “white women’s vulnerability to the Black rapists” who were supposedly roaming the rural South. “The fault, she declared, lay with southern white men. They had failed to put a ‘sheltering arm about innocence and virtue.’” She concluded that “if lynching was required ‘to protect women’s dearest possession from the ravening human beasts—then I say lynch, a thousand times a week, if necessary.’” The wife and campaign manager of a U.S. Congressman.

Or let’s look at another statement that shows the horrendous dimensions of this and the way in which all of this is intertwined. In particular, here is the male chauvinism, the patriarchy, the misogyny. Lears writes: “Behind all the economic calculations and all the lofty rhetoric about civilization and progress was a primal emotion—a yearning to reassert control, a masculine will to power.” In particular, this was speaking to the sense that the elite, the wealthy men, had become soft as a result of their riches. And so what was said was necessary to deal with that? War—this would be a masculinizing effect on these feminized wealthy effete men. This was the way that they could experience regeneration.

Or look at the following comment, speaking about the cult of courage and an urge to warfare: “Here,” Lears writes, “was the germ of the worship of force, the secular religion that underlay the regeneration of masculine will.”

And here’s something very interesting in light of the tactics and strategic approach of U.S. imperialism in invading and occupying countries these days. If you think back, for example, to the first Iraq invasion in 1991, Colin Powell said: “We’re not imperialists, we don’t invade countries in order to occupy them, we don’t engage in permanent occupation. We just democratize them and then leave them to the people to run themselves.” Well, this is a well-worn approach of the imperialists, which was being applied as far back as the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Lears speaks to this. He speaks to the approach that the American empire would depend only in part on formal acquisition of foreign colonies, which it did occupy, for example once again, the Philippines. “More commonly it would involve periodic military intervention (rather than permanent occupation) and support for governments friendly to American policies. This indirect approach [to colonialism, I’m adding] would make it easier for American imperialists to wrap themselves in exceptionalist rhetoric and claim moral superiority to their European counterparts.” Here we are again with American exceptionalism, ravishing and plundering colonialism with a particular twist that enables them to say: “Oh no, we’re not colonialists like those Europeans.”

And finally, from Lears he talks about how the resistance of the Philippine people to U.S. occupation was taken by the Americans, including the soldiers of the American imperium, was taken as an affront to white identity and to white being.

So you can see how all of this is all intertwined and mutually reinforcing. And then there’s something that should also be recognized, especially in light of the present situation. There is a direct line and deep connection between all this, and the way in which all this is intertwined and mutually reinforcing—a direct line and direct connection between all this and the virulent hatred and repressive actions directed today against the fight for the recognition of the humanity and the rights of LGBT people.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/problem-solution-and-challenges-before-us/excerpt-2-from-bob-avakian-the-problem-the-solution-and-the-challenges-before-us-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Excerpt posted October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Excerpt from

New Talk by Bob Avakian:
The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us

From Part 3: The Solution, the Necessity, the Possibility and the Desirability of Revolution Grounded in The New Communism

I think it’s important to identify what we can call the triad of fascism, that is, the unapologetic aggressive assertion of white supremacy, male supremacy and American supremacy (or racism, misogyny and bellicose xenophobic jingoism, if you want to use other terminology), reinforced with defiantly—not apologetically, defiantly—ignorant and belligerent opposition to science and rational thought, combined with equally ignorant and belligerent assertion of the “superiority of western civilization,” as evidenced in Trump’s recent speech in Poland. And once again, referring back to what I read from Jackson Lears’ The Rebirth of a Nation, speaking about things at the turn of the previous century, more than 100 years ago, you can see sharply manifested the intertwining and mutual reinforcement of all of this.

Along with this, we have the fascist thuggery—both physical thuggery and intellectual thuggery: mindless storm troopers, coupled with perverted pretensions of victimhood and irrational rationalizations for atrocities. Think about it: You have these storm troopers—you know, the Oath Keepers, the Ku Klux Klan, and all the rest of these people, the Proud Boys, or whatever they’re called—out there in the streets carrying guns, and so on. And you have the NRA videos basically calling for people to engage in civil war against anything positive in society. But you also have the Ann Coulters and others out there with their intellectual thuggery, presenting at one and the same time the Christian Fascists and other fascists as victims. Somehow these people—whose representatives are in power, with a fascist regime implementing its program—somehow they’re the victims, they’re the Christians in the Coliseum with the lions being turned loose on them. Why? Well, there is this book by this guy—his name is, it’s not Jimmy Kimmel, it’s another Kimmel (Michael Kimmel)—called Angry White Men. And he made a statement which I think speaks to a lot of this sort of mobilized resentment, this frustrated entitlement. He said: If you’ve been in a situation—speaking about men who feel aggrieved these days because “the bitches are getting everything their way”—if you’re used to having everything 100% in your favor, and then it’s cut down to 75%, I guess it feels like you’re being persecuted. And that’s essentially what’s happening here. There have been certain concessions to the struggle against things like white supremacy, and patriarchy in different forms, and so on and so forth. So this feels to these people like their birthright of superiority—even if they’re not wealthy and powerful, all of them, some of them are—their birthright is being undercut and diminished and destroyed by these minor concessions. I think this is very important to understand. Then there’s the irrational rationalizations for atrocity. I mean just look at Ann Coulter—pure irrationality but in the service of all kinds of horrendous things—advocacy of horrendous acts: Go in (to Muslim countries), and kill all their leaders, convert them all to Christianity—on and on and on—you can cite these things endlessly.

So I think it is very important to understand this phenomenon. But I also want to stress, again, the importance of not being cowed by it, but boldly countering these fascist thugs in every sphere—including the intellectual sphere and including the physical storm troopers—but, at the same time, doing so as part of a broader movement to drive out this fascist regime, and from our standpoint, in terms of what’s fundamentally needed, part of advancing the 3 Prepares: Prepare the Ground, Prepare the People, Prepare the Vanguard—Get Ready for the Time When Millions Can Be Led to Fight All-out for Revolution With a Real Chance of Winning.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/avakian/bob_avakian-a-question-a-challenge-for-paul-krugman-and-all-those-concerned-about-the-future-of-humanity-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

September 14, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A QUESTION, A CHALLENGE FOR PAUL KRUGMAN,
AND ALL THOSE CONCERNED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY

by Bob Avakian

 

 

Paul Krugman, a Nobel prize winning economist who regularly publishes commentary in the New York Times, recently wrote (in a September 11, 2017 column “Conspiracies, Corruption and Climate”) that with Donald Trump in the White House, “know-nothing, anti-science conservatives are now running the U.S. government.” And here is the very sobering statement with which he concluded this column:

The bottom line is that we are now ruled by people who are completely alienated not just from the scientific community, but from the scientific idea—the notion that objective assessment of evidence is the way to understand the world. And this willful ignorance is deeply frightening. Indeed, it may end up destroying civilization. [emphasis added]

This brings into sharp relief the question: If, indeed, the people in power may end up destroying civilization (and this could come about not only through what they do in relation to the climate but through their wantonly unleashing nuclear war), does this not require everyone concerned with the fundamental interests of humanity, with its very fate and future, to act in ways that are actually commensurate with this profound existential threat?

In fact, there are people who are doing so. People who have recognized the grave threat posed by those now ruling us, and the urgency of the situation, and who are therefore determined to act now to not just oppose but remove from power this regime of nightmares. People who have refused to simply hope that the “normal workings” of a process that has brought these people to their ruling position will somehow prevent them from acting in accordance with their “willful ignorance,” and worse. People coming together on the basis of a Call from the organization RefuseFascism with its forthright stand:

“This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!
In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!”  

They are working tirelessly to create the political and organizational basis for massive and sustained mobilization throughout the country, beginning on November 4 this year, whose unifying stand is the insistence that this whole regime now in power must be removed from power. As the special pamphlet from RefuseFascism.org: “The Crimes of the Trump/Pence Regime and How to Be a Part of Driving Them from Power” explains:  

RefuseFascism.org is a movement of people coming from diverse perspectives, united in our recognition that the Trump/Pence Regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet and that it is our responsibility to drive them from power. This means working and organizing with all our creativity and determination toward Nov. 4 when many thousands of people will fill the streets of cities and towns, beginning a struggle that must continue day after day and night after night, eventually involving millions of people, demanding: This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

We extend a welcome invitation to individuals and organizations from many different points of view who share our determination to refuse to accept a fascist America to join and/or partner with us in this great cause.

So, that is the crucial point of orientation and the challenge: People who hold many divergent points of view must come together and act politically, in what is really a meaningful and powerful way, to deal with the looming—in fact the ongoing—disaster embodied in this Trump/Pence regime, because of its willful opposition to the scientific method and its utter disregard for and repeated trampling on the truth, because of its overt white supremacy and misogyny, its xenophobic and bigoted attacks on immigrants, Muslims and LGBT people, its raw “America First” jingoism and the grave danger it poses to human existence through its predatory approach to the environment and bellicose wielding of military power, including its expressed willingness and brazen threats to use nuclear weapons.

In “Conspiracies, Corruption and Climate,” Paul Krugman refers to those now in power as “know-nothing, anti-science conservatives”; RefuseFascism agrees that they are “know-nothing,” and “anti-science” but goes further in identifying them not merely as “conservatives” but actual fascists. Krugman is a proponent of capitalism, whereas I am an advocate of communism, a new communism, who is convinced that what is ultimately and fundamentally required to deal with the current horrors facing the masses of humanity, and the looming threat to the very existence of humanity, is a truly radical and emancipating revolution. But that is not the immediate question and challenge before all of us at this present moment. Rather, it is to deal with the grave danger posed by those now in power, through nonviolent but massive and sustained political action—the mobilization of first thousands, growing into millions, determined to get and remain in the streets until this regime is removed from power. Does not the common recognition that this regime “may end up destroying civilization,” demand of us—of all those, of many divergent viewpoints, who can recognize that these are the stakes for humanity—that we act together, and do everything in our power, to bring about the massive political manifestation that is urgently needed to drive out this regime?

It is in this spirit and with this understanding that it is crucial for everyone—those, like Paul Krugman, with a prominent platform from which to influence public opinion, as well as those without such a platform—who do recognize and agonize over what is at stake for humanity to act, from their own perspective, to give meaningful support to, and indeed to become actively involved in, the critical work building toward November 4: publicly endorsing and promoting the Call from RefuseFascism, helping to break through what is effectively a white-out of this by the mainstream media, donating and raising funds, directing people to the RefuseFascism.org website, and in countless other ways helping to develop the necessary political and organizational basis for what RefuseFascism very rightly calls “this great cause.” For it is the massive and sustained political mobilization called for by RefuseFascism that truly represents the prospect of forging a positive path through and beyond this extremely dangerous and potentially disastrous situation.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/508/bob_avakian_a-country-ruled-by-white-supremacists-since-when-is-that-acceptable-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

September 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A Country Ruled By White Supremacists—Since When Is That Acceptable?

by Bob Avakian

 

 

Jemele Hill, a commentator at ESPN, tweeted that Donald Trump is a white supremacist, whereupon White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders called for Hill to be fired. (She has not been fired but had to issue an apology, saying she should not have implicated ESPN in her comments.) And then there is the comprehensive and compelling case made by Ta-Nehisi Coates, in the current issue of the Atlantic, that Trump’s defining ideology is white supremacy. Here it must be sharply raised:

What does it mean, and what does it require people to do, if an overt white supremacist is sitting in the White House, if this whole administration (regime) is based on white supremacy, if not only Jemele Hill’s comments, but Ta-Nehisi Coates’ argument in his Atlantic article, is accurate—which is the case? Is this something people just have to accept—that overt white supremacists are now ruling the country? Is it something that can, or should, wait until some future election (2018 or 2020) to see if it gets “worked out”? And who will cause this to “work out” in a good way, if their moral and political standard is that it is alright, or something people just have to accept, that the country is being openly ruled now by white supremacists?!

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/celebrating-and-learning-from-the-100th-anniversary-of-the-october-revolution-in-russia-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Celebrating—and Learning from—the 100th Anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

One hundred years ago this month, people in Russia rose up to make a socialist revolution. V.I. Lenin and the Bolshevik Party led masses to seize power and set up the first long-lasting socialist state in history, the Soviet Union. Though communism was eventually defeated in the Soviet Union, the lessons learned from both the tremendous achievements and the shortcomings and sometimes serious errors—along with the later richer lessons from the Chinese revolution, led by Mao—laid the foundation to go forward to new heights. These lessons were distilled by Bob Avakian (BA) and concretized into a new communism. This new communism is a leap beyond, and in some important ways a rupture with, what has gone before.

We are marking that momentous event all month long with features on this great and historic revolution, including: a listing of works from BA and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA that focus on that first stage of communist revolution; an excerpt from a 2013 interview with Raymond Lotta, “You Don’t Know What You Think You ‘Know’ About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future.; and the series "Setting the Record Straight on Communism and Socialist Revolution: REFUTING THE BIGGEST LIES AGAINST COMMUNISM—Introduction to the New Series."

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/323/you-dont-know-what-you-think-you-know-en.html#chapter0300

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017


Warning: file_get_contents(../a/323/you-dont-know-what-you-think-you-know-en.html#chapter0300): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/revweb/public_html/quick/511en.php on line 157

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/ba-key-works-first-stage-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Key Works of Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, on the First Stage of the Communist Revolution

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This October is the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution in Russia, one of the “milestones” of the first stage of communist revolution—with the other two milestones being the 1871 Paris Commune and the Cultural Revolution in China led by Mao Zedong that began in 1966. The first stage of communist revolution came to an end with the 1976 capitalist coup that defeated the revolution in China.

In the period after the coup in China—at a time of an all-out offensive of lies and slanders against communism by ruling class voices and much confusion and disorientation in the international communist movement—Bob Avakian (BA) brought scientific clarity to this crucial juncture and began to open up and chart the path to go forward. He began digging deeply into the experience of not only the revolution in China but of the whole first stage of communist revolution.

As Raymond Lotta pointed out in 2014: “Essentially, BA begins this process of deep exploration and critical examination of the first stage of communist revolution, indeed of the whole communist project, with the work Conquer the World? The International Proletariat Must and Will, which was written in 1981. From here he continued to probe and make new discoveries. And in the more than three decades since the counter-revolution in China, Bob Avakian developed and brought forward a new synthesis of communism.

“And he has been doing this, I might add, against the backdrop of the bourgeoisie’s relentless ideological assault on communism.”

The following are some key works of Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which he leads, on the first stage of communist revolution.

Conquer the World? The International Proletariat Must and Will

The End of a Stage—The Beginning of a New Stage

Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution, Part 2 and Part 3

COMMUNISM—THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE: A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

You Don’t Know What You Think You ‘Know’ About... The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future,” An Interview with Raymond Lotta, Revolution #323, November 24, 2013

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/survivor-of-hurricane-irma-in-st-martin-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Survivor of Hurricane Irma in St. Martin:

“The U.S. Air Force came in...
took only the American citizens”

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A reader sent revcom.us an interview that was done recently with a high school student who was living in the Caribbean island of St. Martin when Hurricane Irma hit in early September. To this day, various European powers and the U.S. control Caribbean islands—under various terms like “territory,” “commonwealth,” or other phrases that disguise an actual colonial relationship. In the case of St. Martin, the island is actually split—one side ruled by the French, the other by the Dutch. This irrational division of a very small island was done to serve imperialist interests, and as the student reveals in this interview, this division into weak colonial governments greatly aggravated the problems people faced during and after the storm.

The student lived on the French side and went to school on the Dutch side. She and her family evacuated to the Dutch side shortly before Hurricane Irma hit. Following are excerpts from the interview.

Q: How did you evacuate to the Dutch side?

A: So, what you can do on the island is—there is no border patrol because it is one island, but two countries. So we could just cross over as much as we wanted all day. My boyfriend’s parents were kind enough to say look, it’s really bad—because we were like, about a 100 meters, maybe even less, away from the beach... we knew we were going to get hit really bad. So they offered—”our house is made out of full concrete, come and join us, you’ll be safe, we’ll try and take care of you as much as possible.”... We packed up our bags, tried to make everything waterproof and safe in the house, and we put everything in our cars and left straightaway and went to their place.

Q: Did they open the shelters before the hurricane hit?

A: On the French side, but not on the Dutch side. The shelters were only opened afterwards on the Dutch side. But maybe during the eye of the storm they realized, oh, ok we need to open it because people are out on the streets and the storm is coming back again. Because what happens during a hurricane, you have the full force of the storm, you have the middle part where it goes quiet for about 25 minutes and you think the storm is over. A lot of people, they don’t know that and they continue like nothing ever happened, and then the storm comes back with full force of wind again.

Q: After you were in the Dutch side you heard stories about in the French side being crazy.

A: They eventually tried to block out the borders because they didn’t want people from the French side coming to the Dutch side and people from the Dutch side to go to the French side. And after the whole week of not talking to each other, the two governments decided to come together and try and fix something. But they spent a week—oh we are not going to talk to you, you are on that side. It’s like when you are one island, two countries, this is the time when you need to get together, but it took them one whole week to actually finally get together. It was ridiculous.

Q: So the hurricane came, and it basically destroyed the island. A lot of the people who were in the houses that didn’t evacuate were actually trapped.

A: They were either trapped, or they managed to get out in time and go to neighbors. It all depends, you don’t really know, because after the hurricane you can’t exactly—there’s no internet, there’s no communication, even the radio station was down. So we have an old-fashioned radio, and we tried our best, but for the first couple of days you wouldn’t hear anything. There’s nothing on the station. Then they got it going... And people, if they wanted to get a message through, they called the radio station from other countries. Or the government officials would come in and talk on the radio station. Because there was no communication, there was no internet, there was no phone calls, nothing.

Q: How many people are on the island, do you know?

A: I don’t know. I know that overall after all the evacuation, the population dropped down to roughly 6,000, but people were still trying to get out. So it’s probably a lot lower now. But driving on the roads, you see there’s nothing there. There’s also a curfew, but hardly any people are driving around. After a week, you see, everyone is gone. It’s like a ghost town.

Q: You were also hearing stories of people taking the food and...

A: Yes, there was a lot of looting and stealing. I can understand from a point of view if it is for food and water, and you have nothing left, that’s understandable. But then you also had on one side, stealing cars and motorbikes. It’s unnecessary... If it were me, honestly—I’m not saying I’m a looter or anything, but if I were walking by and the store was open and I had a family to take care of, I was a mother, yes, I would go and take food and water. Because I don’t have money. I’ve lost everything. And my kids are going to die...

I don’t have too much news for the French side because I wasn’t there, but on the Dutch side there was a lot of water that was brought in.

Q: Do you know from where?

A: Different companies that came in, mainly the U.S. Air Force, and things like that. They came in, they brought water, but the government didn’t know what to do with this water. The water was just there on the airport runway, just sitting in the sun, and there’s people who are starving and need water for hydration. After a week in the area we lived, which was right next to the airport, we only saw water that was to be washed with. It was out of a tank, so it was to be washed with, not drinking water, and that’s seven days later after Hurricane Irma.

Q: You were saying also about the process of evacuation, how some boats came and were just picking up certain people.

A: The company that came in to help us, they came in a bit late, but they still helped. They were taking all nationalities and also pets if you had, with specific requirements, like the certification to travel and the shots and everything. And that company was Royal Caribbean. That company helped us. They took us on the boat. There was help for doctors, help for food, water, anything you needed, a bed with towels, toothbrushes. Anything you needed if you came with completely nothing. They were there. And then you also had other companies, private companies, who came in and helped...

The U.S. Air Force, they came in, took people—only the American citizens—took them and put them on the flight and took them out. And they did that constantly. All day you could see them. The Canadians did the same thing. And then eventually, once the tourists were taken out, the locals could be dealt with.

Q: The United States took all of its citizens and then never came back?

A: All of its citizens, and that was it. Nothing to do with the locals who need help. “You are American? Ok, you can get on.” That’s it. But if you are from St. Martin, no one cares. So a lot of people were stuck, especially—like “Oh I’m from St. Martin, which plane do I get on”? “Oh you can’t get on a plane because you are not American.”...

I was telling my dad, this is ridiculous. It breaks my heart. This is not human. How could you do this? Have some emotion and understanding. And the French marines or Dutch marines, the individual people, they don’t have any control. Like you come and you beg them for water but they can’t do anything, because it’s not them who has the orders. They have to take command from the commander. I saw one Dutch marine, he’s looking at us, and he started crying, because he can’t do anything. He feels completely hopeless...

Q: That’s how you got out of there, through Royal Caribbean?

A: Yeah. But then too, I saw planes coming in and out all day, but it’s not just like you can hop on a plane and get out. They were requesting certain people. For those who are from the island it was hard: “Well what about us? We need help too. Ok I get it, you are a tourist, you paid to come here, but we live here. This is our home, we have lost everything, have some sympathy.”

Q: What do you think what it says about the role of the United States?

A: I feel like the government, they have the ability, they have all the devices, the technology, everything. Airplanes, helicopters, whatnot. It’s just a big country. There’s food and water and everything. There’s money. I’m pretty sure you could have come and helped us. You brought your citizens out, but is it going to hurt you to even help us for a bit?

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/us-virgin-islands-criminally-inadequate-level-of-aid-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

The U.S. Virgin Islands: Criminally Inadequate Level of Aid for People Devastated by Hurricanes

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The U.S. Virgin Islands—St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix—were among the Caribbean islands devastated first by Hurricane Irma, and then two weeks later by Hurricane Maria. Both were Category 5 storms when they hit the islands, and most of the islands' 100,000 people are still struggling to get the barest essentials, nearly two weeks after Maria hit, yet there's been barely a trickle of relief, and what little has arrived never reaches many.

The two hurricanes knocked out power on all three islands. St. Johns still has no power; power is only 15 percent restored on St. Thomas and 10 percent restored on St. Croix. Only a third of cellphone service has been restored, so many people can't even find out if loved ones are safe or need help, or when and where relief supplies are being given out.

The devastation has been catastrophic. Both main hospitals (on St. Thomas and St. Croix) were destroyed, and it's unclear when, even if, they'll be rebuilt. Many roads remain choked with debris, and people's cars are buried or destroyed. "So many public school buildings have been compromised on the three islands that students cannot go back to class," according to the New York Times. "And the wind has stripped the trees of all their leaves, leaving the once lush tropical forests looking as if they were set afire with napalm."

Many people have been left without homes after they were flooded or damaged. Others are trying to live in their storm-damaged homes, some without roofs, as people struggle to find basic materials like tarps to keep out moisture. Most jobs on these islands, which depend largely on tourism, have evaporated and many people are running out of money, unable to buy even basic supplies like cleaners so they can wash clothes or get rid of harmful mold. The situation is especially dire for the ill, the elderly, and for small children in this sub-tropical region marked by high temperatures and sweltering humidity.

A September 30 report posted at BuzzFeed gave a graphic glimpse of what conditions are like on St. Thomas: "Akoya Emmanuel said she had two choices Friday morning: make the trek into town to find bleach to clean the mold from the exposed walls of her home or stand in line for hours to ensure her two daughters had something to eat that day.... 'I have nothing. What we have been surviving on is those sausages and that's if we get it. That's our hope for today.'" Along with the sausages, the only food being distributed by the government are chips and candy bars.

These islands are U.S. colonies, and all the suffering and devastation is being made worse by U.S. domination and exploitation of the islands. They have been driven deeply into debt to U.S. finance capital, and the local government has barely three days of funding. Unemployment here is twice as high as the U.S. average. Over one third of the children live in families below the poverty line, most of whom get food stamps. Yet stores can't take their payment cards because they need to be processed electronically, and power is still largely out. People are in extreme need, and discontent runs deep. The authorities are still imposing a curfew in parts of St. Thomas and St. John.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/puerto-rico-120-years-of-imperialist-exploitation-and-oppression-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Puerto Rico: 120 Years of Imperialist Exploitation and Oppression

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In 1898, U.S. military forces invaded and occupied Puerto Rico as part of the Spanish-American War. The victory over Spain established the U.S. as the unquestioned major power in the Caribbean and much of South America (and its seizure of the Philippines positioned it as a power in the Pacific and Asia).

The U.S., the self-proclaimed champion of "freedom and democracy," denied the people of Puerto Rico the right to self-determination. It has continued to do that to this day.

"Waging War" on Puerto Rican People

The U.S. military outlawed the use of Spanish in schools and other institutions. It banned the national flag of Puerto Rico and jailed anyone caught displaying it. It appointed U.S. residents to be the governors and police chiefs and repeatedly carried out savage repression of students and others demanding Puerto Rican independence.

One notorious example: the Rio Piedras Massacre in 1935. University of Puerto Rico students called a meeting to discuss the program of the Nationalist Party, led by Pedro Albizu Campos. Heavily armed police surrounded the meeting place and commandeered a car with Nationalist Party leaders trying to get to it. They shot up the car and the surrounding area, murdering five people. A funeral for the murdered youths was attended by 8,000 people and addressed by Campos, who accused the governor and police chief of "deliberately murdering" the five. Police chief Francis Riggs responded by telling several newspapers he was prepared to wage "war to the death against all Puerto Ricans."

In 1937, the U.S. governor instructed a new police chief to prevent contingents of students, cadets, and nurses from holding a permitted demonstration for independence in the city of Ponce. Marchers set off as a band played "La Borinqueña," the anthem of Puerto Rico. Over 200 police armed with machine guns and rifles opened fire. According to one account, the police "shot a young girl in the back as she ran to a nearby church. They shot a man on his way home ... They split a fruit vendor's head in two..."  Seventeen people were murdered and over 200 seriously wounded in the Ponce Massacre.

Pedro Albizu Campos, who fought courageously for decades for Puerto Rico's independence and was the spokesperson for the Puerto Rican Independence Party, was imprisoned for 26 years by the U.S. He was repeatedly tortured and brutalized by prison authorities and died shortly after he was released from his last imprisonment in 1965.

In 1948, in the face of a growing movement for independence, the U.S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico signed a law making it a crime to own or display a Puerto Rican flag, to sing a patriotic Puerto Rican song, to speak or write of independence, or to meet with anyone or hold any assembly in favor of Puerto Rican independence. This law remained in force until 1957.

A Century of Impoverishment and Dislocation

U.S. imperialism has subjected Puerto Rico to a distorted, lopsided development serving the interests of U.S. capitalism-imperialism, not the needs of the Puerto Rican people.

Beginning in the late 1960s, pharmaceutical manufacturing giants like Bristol Myers and Eli Lilly moved into Puerto Rico. They were given lucrative federal tax incentives to set up plants on the island. Again, workers were paid less than in similar jobs in the U.S. But even here employment shrunk beginning in 2006, as these corporations sought greater profits elsewhere.

The dislocation and impoverishment capitalism-imperialism inflicted on so many people compelled "the Great Migration" from Puerto Rico, beginning and gaining intensity in the 1950s. The population of people from Puerto Rico soared in mainland U.S. cities, where people were subjected to harsh repression from the police and other authorities, forced to live in overcrowded slums, and ridiculed for their language and culture.

Generation after generation, millions of Puerto Rican people have created enormous wealth for U.S. imperialism. The imperialists have used this to make further profits all around the world while impoverishing the Puerto Rican people, who have been left with an economy that has been utterly devastated. It is complete and utter bullshit when anyone, especially the fascist Donald Trump, accuses the people of Puerto Rico of wanting "everything to be done for them."

An imperialist-created crisis has been engulfing Puerto Rico for several years before Hurricane Maria hit. Like vultures fighting over a carcass, parasitic U.S.-based hedge funds have been scrambling to bleed the country in what the media and political leaders call Puerto Rico's "debt crisis." The crisis has been the suffering inflicted on the people of this beautiful island.

Hundreds of thousands of people—out of a population of 3.5 million—have been forced to leave Puerto Rico to try to find a living in the U.S. This includes many doctors and health care professionals. Speaking of the cuts in health care, the chairman of the Puerto Rico Healthcare Crisis Coalition said, "These are a cascade of cuts that will have disastrous, gigantic implications... Health care in Puerto Rico is headed for a collapse." This was well before the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

About 60 percent of the workforce was unemployed before Maria. The majority of those employed did not have full time jobs. With most farmers driven from the land, 85 percent of the food in Puerto Rico must be imported.

Utility bills in Puerto Rico average more than twice the cost in the U.S. Soaring utility costs impact the cost of everything, in particular the ability of basic people to survive and obtain lighting, transportation, water, and other life necessities. Some communities in San Juan do not have even a basic sewage system. One woman said that in her neighborhood, when it rains, water flows into a canal and wastewater backflows into the pipes carrying drinking water, and even floods into their homes. "What keeps impacting us is the problem of polluted water ... our children have to put their feet in polluted water...."

Eighty-four percent of Puerto Rican children grow up in impoverished communities. Cutbacks in funding for schools and public health, and steep reduction of all government services, have resulted in the closing of dozens of schools; deep funding slashes have crippled public higher education.

       

Ending the Nightmare of Oppression

This nightmare of exploitation and oppression will finally end when the imperialist chains that shackle Puerto Rico are shattered through revolutionary struggle. There is a proud history of resistance of the Puerto Rican people—on the island and in this country. One of the high points in this struggle was the courageous and bold struggles in the 1960s by the Young Lords Party within the U.S. This fighting spirit and struggle needs to be revived, and taken much further—into a fight for revolution based on Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism.

Right now is one of those rare times when the media and politicians in the U.S. are actually talking about Puerto Rico—and the real truth about Puerto Rico and the possibilities for great advance in overcoming oppression in today's situation must be made known as widely as possible in all society. On this scientific basis, support for the struggle of the Puerto Rican people to break the imperialist chains must be built as a part of building the movement for revolution—and with the seizure of power the hold of the U.S. on Puerto Rico will be broken.

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, explains how the future socialist society will view and relate to the nation of Puerto Rico:

The Nation of Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans Within the New Socialist Republic in North America.

  1. Puerto Rico and its people were subjected to brutal conquest and domination—first by the Spanish Conquistadors and then by U.S. imperialism, forcibly seizing Puerto Rico at the end of the 19th century—with devastating and even genocidal consequences for the first inhabitants of the island and then the enslaving exploitation of others. Through this process, however, a Puerto Rican nation was forged on that island territory, even as Puerto Rico itself continued to be held as a colonial possession of the imperialist United States of America. As a result of the revolution which brought into being the New Socialist Republic in North America, the hold of U.S. imperialism over Puerto Rico has been broken, and the New Socialist Republic in North America recognizes the independence and right of self-determination of the nation of Puerto Rico. At the same time, the New Socialist Republic in North America works to develop relations with the nation of Puerto Rico on the basis of the internationalist orientation and other principles and objectives set forth in this Constitution, and remains open to the possibility of a union with the nation of Puerto Rico, in a larger socialist state, on this basis.
  2. With regard to Puerto Ricans within the territory of the New Socialist Republic in North America, the principles and policies that apply to minority nationalities which were oppressed and discriminated against in the imperialist USA shall be applied, including the right to the establishment of autonomous areas in cities and other places where there are significant numbers of Puerto Ricans.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/Puerto-Rico-rising-death-toll-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Puerto Rico: Rising Death Toll, Millions Suffer at the Hands of Imperialism... and FASCISM

September 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Because of Hurricane Maria, the island of Puerto Rico lies in ruins. There is no drinking water, no electricity, at least 80 percent of the crops have been destroyed, and whole sections remain under water. Older people stranded on the 15th floor of housing projects, often ill, slowly dying.  Imagine yourself in that situation. It would be—and it is for those in it—a sheer horror.

Because of imperialism, millions of Puerto Ricans face this crisis with a broken-down infrastructure and virtually no help. Puerto Rico is a colony of the U.S. and as such has only ever been a place to suck super-profits out of the land and the people, and then leave them plundered and decimated when they are done—as they are doing now. With the people whom they have plundered and oppressed now facing a severe calamity, the U.S. is doing the bare minimum to avoid international embarrassment and exposure.  This is in stark contrast to even the inadequate responses to the hurricanes recently in Texas and Florida, in the “home base” of U.S. imperialism. Instead of an immediate massive airlift of needed goods and emergency workers, there is a halting, stuttering effort not remotely close to what is needed... and what is extremely possible.   Instead, hundreds and quite possibly thousands or even tens of thousands may needlessly die and all will suffer. 

This is imperialism.   

But with the Trump/Pence fascist regime in power, there is an added dimension. Trump makes sure to first ignore Puerto Rico (it’s a fucking week before he sends someone to check it out) and then taunt Puerto Rico for its debt (itself a product of imperialism), as if to blame the masses themselves for the hurricane.

Trump tweeted:

“Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..”

“...It's old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars....”

“...owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities - and doing well.”

 

This smug motherfucker is gloating. But there’s a method to the hateful and hate-filled madness. He is doing this because fascism, as a form of rule, not only requires white supremacy and toxic “USA Number One” shit, but its leaders and followers must actively pour contempt on oppressed people, making the “majority population” (white Americans) callous about their suffering, and preparing that population to turn a blind eye to or even support the still greater and possibly genocidal crimes that lay ahead. 

This is fascism.

So Trump first ignores the disaster, then puts out a tweet dripping with a gleeful contempt, and then claims that he’s doing a great job.  His regime defends his callous actions and equally callous inaction.  Again, this is fascism, on a move to consolidate itself.  This will not fix itself; this needs to driven from power.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/501/revolution-club-chicago-summer-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Updated November 3, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From the Front Lines With the Revolution Club—Chicago

The Revolution Club is on a mission to make a major advance in organizing forces for an actual revolution, impacting all of society by people getting out of killing each other, changing what they are living and fighting for, taking up the leadership of Bob Avakian, and getting organized for a real revolution. The Revolution Club has issued a proclamation declaring: This Summer in Chicago Will NOT Be a Bloodbath of Killing Each Other; This Summer Will NOT Be Free Rein for Police to Murder and Terrorize Black and Brown People; This Summer We Get Organized for Revolution to Emancipate All of Humanity.

To do this, the club is out there most every day, doing all kinds of different things, trying to learn as much as we can so we can transform more, so we can learn more and transform better, so we can learn still more... and on and on... till we make a breakthrough... and then go further still. We’re struggling with people’s ideas, straight-up... and we’re leading them to struggle against the enemy. We’re fighting to get to a situation where millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.

DONATE

At Summer's end: WE ARE NOT GOING TO BACK OFF OUR MISSION. Donations needed more than ever as the struggle in Chicago, this crucial concentration point between reaction and revolution, continues and intensifies.
ON TO $50,000!

DONATE HERE

 


 

November 2017

Special Delivery From the Revolution Club, Chicago

November 3, 2017

Every day the urgent need cries out for what Refuse Fascism has called for on November 4: massive sustained nonviolent mobilizations beginning with thousands, growing and continuing until the Trump/Pence Regime is driven from power. The Revolution Club, Chicago, has been going all-out to make November 4 a powerful beginning, and we just went to deliver a banner to Trump Tower that had been signed by youth from Chicago high schools and people in the South Side neighborhoods. This banner reads "Hey Trump, From those you like to Demonize: You and Your GANG in the White House Are the REAL Thugs and THREAT to Humanity. In The Name of Humanity We Will DRIVE YOUR ASS OUT!"...   Read more

Police Blare Sirens to Drown Out Word of November 4 Outside High School

Updated October 22, 2017

Interview with a Member of the Revolution Club Chicago
What Happened at Kenwood High

October 27, 2017

Revolution Club Gets Out With Nov 4 in Chicago

October 30, 2017

Over the past week, the Revolution Club has been out at high schools, colleges, hubs, neighborhoods, protests and events... to reach thousands of people with the message: This Nightmare Must End, The Trump/Pence Regime MUST GO! Nov 4: It Begins, and to organize people to become organizers. The more we have grounded ourselves in the REALITY of the urgency to drive out this regime—the danger for humanity it poses and the potential powerful upsurge of millions who want to see it go—the more we have been able to compellingly make the case to others and call people forward to take this up themselves. We have put straight forward that America was never great and the Revolution Club is working for revolution to overthrow this whole system, and right now we have to get rid of the Trump/Pence Regime. We have called on people to step forward to help get the word out to millions NOW, and almost everywhere we’ve been, people have done that. We’ve worked to give people a vision of how the regime can be driven from power and struggled with people where necessary about acting in the interests of humanity and how people like themselves acting now can be felt throughout society and draw forward thousands and millions more. And we’ve worked to bring forward people in the face of and in response to repression on various levels. As we’ve gone along, we’ve more and more promoted the new talk and Q & A from BA, hosting some collective showings and doing some showings with individuals.

  • At a South Side high school where police attempted to intimidate students
  • Watching the New Bob Avakian Talk with High School Students and Getting Organized for Nov 4
  • Transportation Hub Becomes Organizing Center for Nov 4

Read more


 

Late Summer Diary - September 28, 2017

Fighting the Power, and Transforming the People, for Revolution... In the Heart of Chicago

The Revolution Club keeps fighting to bring forward something new and revolutionary in Chicago. We’re still learning, still fighting... and want to share some scenes of that.

A month ago, fresh off the heels of being on the frontlines in Charlottesville, Carl Dix gave a talk on “Trump’s Violent Reassertion of White Supremacy, the Threats of Genocide, and What Must Be Done NOW!,” providing important leadership. The 50 or so people there really felt the urgency of the current situation and engaged his talk in a serious way. Almost nobody left until the place we held it at began turning out the lights.

Off of his talk, the Revolution Club hosted a well-attended discussion of the statement from the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, “HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution.” People were getting clearer on what is meant by an actual revolution. They were seriously grappling with what would go into actually being able to defeat a very powerful adversary in an all-out struggle for power, and what would be the right conditions to begin that all out struggle.

Meanwhile, the Revolution Club was out in different neighborhoods, engaging with people in a mass way and one-on-one. We were leading people in struggle against the crimes of the system, organizing people into the revolution, and in some ways presenting as an alternate authority. In one neighborhood, we had a number of encounters leading people to post up and blow the whistles when police were stopping people for no reason. People in the neighborhood joined in and together with the Revolution Club did not back down until the police either backed off or left. In one instance, police got their revenge on the Revolution Club members by arresting three of them in front of our organizing center.

In a West Side neighborhood, we joined together to protest with the family of a teenager who had been killed by a vigilante fireman. In the wake of his funeral, where a preacher blamed him for his own death, the Revolution Club issued a polemic, “We Say: BULLSHIT!”, boldly taking on the way religious thinking chains people down, and have begun getting it out there and in other neighborhoods.

Joey Johnson and the RNC16 at the Republican Convention,
July 20, 2016. Photo: special to revcom.us

 “Underline that...”: Taking Comrade Niko’s Statement to the People

The Revolution Club took up the fight to defend the RNC 16, the Revcoms who burned the American flag when Trump was nominated at the Republican National Convention in July 2016 and were now facing prison. The week before the felony charges on two of the RNC 16, Niko and Bo, were dropped (VICTORY!), we hosted a program at the Revolution Club Organizing Center that featured a powerful statement from Comrade Niko. Niko was one of the first volunteers to come to Chicago to take up the Revolution Club’s mission to bring forward forces for revolution who are right now being killed off by police or killing each other. His statement addressed big questions about what is worth sacrificing for, how people who face prison or death all the time for bullshit need to be living for revolution, and that he has seen that the world doesn’t have to be this way because of Bob Avakian. This statement was both very heartfelt and substantial.

Niko’s statement became an important tool in leading people to start becoming leaders for this revolution. We read this with people to focus up ideological questions, and people working with the club took it up themselves to use with others. It was posted up in different neighborhoods. This became one way people took up working to bring people to the showing of the DVD of Bob Avakian’s talk BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! hosted by the Revolution Club.

One example of this was talking with a man who has run with the club on and off about how to bring the revolution to people. He said a common response he gets is, “what’s in it for me?” or “why should I risk something for this?” We happened to be right next to a light pole with the statement from Comrade Niko taped up. We read a portion of it that really gets at those questions, and proposed he read it with others. He said “this is really good. But...” then he went on to say a lot of people have a way of talking about things where they don’t really listen. That people will read that, dissect it, and take from it what they want and not really hear what’s being said. He said you need to be able to cut through that and get people’s attention.

We looked back at Niko’s statement on the pole and read, “I see there are lots of people, a lot of Black youth, putting your life on the line for bullshit. Why can’t you put your life on the line for something much more—emancipating humanity?” He said “Yes, that’s what I’m talking about, that’s it.” Then he asked if we had a pen so we could underline that part. He said he talks to people in that spot often and would bring people over to the pole to show them the underlined part. We continued talking about why he needs to get into BA and watch the full showing of Revolution—Nothing Less!, and get other people to do that too. We looked back at the pole and pointed to another phrase from Niko, “I have this understanding from BA of how the world can be different, and to act on that understanding, to bring others forward....” He said, “underline that one too.”

“OK, OK, let’s do it!” Boldly Posing Another Way Than the Dog-Eat-Dog

We went to different neighborhoods getting the word out about the showing of the film BA Speaks :REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and finding new ways to involve people in making revolution. At one corner, some of the guys caught up in the life talked with us about the revolution and about BA. One of them who was more serious said he couldn’t come because he would have to cross into opposition territory. We said it was time to break down those boundaries, to put on Revolution—Nothing Less! T-shirts and walk together to where the film was being shown.

On the day of the film showing, five of us walked over to the corner in our T-shirts. We had a crew that was a combination of core Revolution Club members, a man who has started to run with the club, and two younger guys, one very new to the revolution. The three newer people all have had some involvement or connection with the gang life in other neighborhoods.

It took two tries to explain the significance of what we were doing. To have people crossing through these boundaries with the Revolution—Nothing Less! shirt on, coming to watch the BA Speaks DVD, would be taking a huge risk because of all the dog-eat-dog shit this system has them caught up in. But it would also be a huge advance in showing there’s another way besides this dog eat dog shit. That what we are doing by going over there, in this way, is representing people getting out of that and into the revolution. That there’s a way out of this system’s madness, and a way to work today so people can actually connect up with the leadership we have for this revolution.

This second time the younger guy froze for a sec and had to shake himself loose. It was sinking in that he is from a different neighborhood. He spun around once and said out loud to himself “OK, OK, let’s do it!”

When we got there, some of the people who had seemed more serious walked off to avoid us, one told us on the phone, “I gotta do me and make money.” Some others stayed and tried to dismiss us, and the younger guys in the team were getting worked up because they thought because they weren’t in their own area one of the guys was taunting to escalate a fight. But we stayed firm and the older guy on our team, who lives in another neighborhood, helped keep the younger guys focused on why we were there and why we needed to handle the situation in the way the revolution handles it, not being provoked into bullshit but challenging people to get out of the way this system wants us living and to get with the revolution.

We didn’t accomplish our objective of getting this guy to come to hear BA Speaks. But there was something important here: Bringing together this grouping of people, giving everybody a sense of how what we’re doing fits into making revolution, and together asserting revolutionary authority aiming to change people and not being bound by what people are stuck in. Even in this neighborhood where the club is more known, people looked at the revolution differently as we rolled through. This was because we had this force working together that really represented something different... and because we looked damn good in our Revolution Nothing Less !T-shirts.

BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less!

We did a lot in the short time since Charlottesville—including traveling two days to see the solar eclipse in southern Illinois, as well as stepping in to speak to the death of Kenneka Jenkins and everything that raised about how women are treated in this society. But not least, we decided we needed to screen the entire 6+hours of Bob Avakian’s epic speech, Revolution-Nothing Less! We made this a key part of our work going out to people to get into this leader, what he has brought forward, what that has to do with how people can themselves become leaders for this revolution that humanity so urgently needs.

The MC kicked things off with a brief introduction of the film, of Bob Avakian, and announced, to loud applause, that BA will be speaking in person at UC Berkeley in April 2018. The film comes on, projected onto a screen and hooked up to a good sound system, and BA begins to speak. Then, people were in for the journey, the whole 6+ hours with only one ten-minute intermission. There was coffee, snacks, a light lunch, and no reason to be anywhere else. About 20 people came to see the film (in addition to the core Revolution Club organizers). Some watched all or most of the film, some watched an hour or two. It was noticeable how closely people were paying attention and listening. People who watched the whole thing were really engaged the whole time, literally sitting on the edges of their seats well into the last hour of the film.

One woman (who said she couldn’t stay the entire time) commented (after she DID stay the entire time) that she really appreciated BA’s honesty, telling people straight-up about what they are getting into and the risks involved in making revolution. One man we had just met the day before came right at the beginning, leaving after the first hour only to come back later with three more people who all came in and watched another hour of the film. A woman who had marched with the Revolution Club during the Bud Billiken parade asked how education would be handled in the New Socialist Republic of North America.

During the break, a woman was running some Black cultural nationalist stuff about how this wasn’t for her, people just need to know themselves and know their history, and it seemed she was maybe fishing if she could pull anyone else away from being serious. But people actually knew why they had come so that didn’t have much pull at this time. Later on, there was also a guy who came who had a more political nationalism he was arguing for, but he had to admit he agreed with a lot of what he heard from BA, and that “BA really does have a blueprint... But he’s white!” Both of them responded differently to being challenged by what they saw from BA speaking, but also how the Revcoms, including Black Revcoms, took on nationalism, and with substance fought for the leadership we have in BA.

In building this we set out to make the showing of the film, and the leadership of Bob Avakian, a mass question in several neighborhoods and more broadly, even as we worked to get with many particular people about their role in coming and organizing other people to come. This fed into how seriously people looked at coming to this film showing, how seriously they took the need to get deeply into BA.

BA’s talk, and the way people were organized to come hear it, had an effect on everyone, new and old. It was an important engagement which there is a solid basis to grow from, both in people joining the Revolution Club and taking responsibility for the revolution in a serious way, and in expanding out more widely with spreading the word of the leadership we have.

Drive Out Trump/Pence

We didn’t accomplish all our aims for the summer. But we are learning as we fight, and we are getting ready to really rip this fall... especially around the November 4 date when “it begins”—thousands, leading to millions, in the street to drive out this fascist regime.

See you there!

November 4: It Begins

 

 


August 2017

From a member of the Revolution Club, Chicago
Eclipse

August 28, 2017

The Revolution Club, Chicago made posters about the Eclipse of 2017 to put up on walls in some South Side neighborhoods together with news of the revolution.

News flash from Charlottesville: Interviews with the Revolution Club

August 14, 2017


Revolution Club-Chicago speaking at August 13 protest standing with Charlottesville:


Revolution Club-Chicago speaking in Charlottesville, VA August 12:
“We are doing this for humanity. We need an actual revolution. We have the leadership in Bob Avakian.”

Charlottesville, VA | August 12, 2017

Revolution Club brings banner signed by many people from the South Side of Chicago to the protests in Charlottesville


Revolution Club marches in south side Bud Billiken parade on August 12. The largest African-American parade in the U.S.

 


July 2017


July 22: Carl Dix Speaks in South Side, Chicago


July 22: Carl Dix Sets the Record Straight in Face of Police Commander


July 21: Chicago Pigs Swarm and Arrest Revolution Club

July 21: Revolution Club, Chicago, Press conference at 7th District Chicago Police Department

 

 


June 2017

In the face of police attempts to intimidate and suppress... people rally in the Englewood neighborhood

On June 10, people in a neighborhood in Englewood on the South Side knew the Revolution Club would be there at 5 pm to deliver a message. We had been there all week, spreading the word and getting to know people, drawing people into discussions of BAsics and showing them clips of BA speaking. When the Revolution Club arrived, the pigs had a “paddy wagon” at the corner they use when they make mass arrests, along with a bunch of other pig vehicles in a clear, overwhelming presence to intimidate people from coming to hear the message of revolution. A commander was on the scene. This commander is someone who is being promoted as a leader in the Chicago Police Department as a model of bringing down vicious brutal repression on the youth with a LAPD-style “community policing” cover. He leads the 7th District police station, which arrested two members of the Revolution Club in April. He made sure that people knew he was there... and in some cases he made sure they knew that he knew who they were. Clearly the pigs feel threatened by this message and aim to intimidate people.

There were youths and others, including family members whose relatives were killed by police, who defied the police presence to come hear the message of the revolution, some putting on T-shirts on the spot to represent for this. Many others hung out on porches, or on sidewalks, or in the park... taking it in but maybe not yet ready to represent as being really interested. Others stayed away until after the police pulled out and only then came in... and some who had been with this during the week stayed away altogether.

The speech delivered by Carl Dix, and the way the Revolution Club represented from the stage and on the ground as an organized force embodying the six Points of Attention for the Revolution, was a powerful projection of what this revolution is all about—inspiring and challenging people at the same time, and addressing the big questions people have been running up against in their thinking.

This cracked the ice... but just that. How do we break through, for real? This is what we constantly grapple with. We decided to go for simple “pop-up” rallies in a variety of locations, trying to get this out much more broadly.

Carl Dix speaks from the stage at the June 10 rally. His speech, and the way the Revolution Club represented from the stage and on the ground as an organized force embodying the six Points of Attention for the Revolution (below), was a powerful projection of what this revolution is all about.

Download poster (PDF) for printing and getting out all over
Download as JPG for web and social media

Getting with the revolution... revenge or revolution... break ALL the chains...

The club began going to intersections in other neighborhoods to do agitation. At the second one we went to, we posted up on a corner and started doing agitation. Almost immediately, three youths were drawn by the agitation and crossed the street to meet the revolutionaries. All three were expressing agreement with what was coming from the bullhorn. We let them know that we were building a movement for an actual, all-out revolution, that we have the leadership to do that in Bob Avakian; we have the science and the strategy to do that, and we have the program for a new society. We pulled out BAsics and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America to give them an idea of what we’re talking about.

We challenged them to get with this on the spot and all three wanted to know how. “Get your BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt and run with us right now,” we told them. They said they didn’t have any money, so we told them to put their shirts on and raise the money from the people out in the streets. They put on the shirts, grabbed some flyers and the donation bucket. We went out among the people at and around the intersection as the comrade on the bullhorn called on everybody to donate money and support our youth when they step into the revolution.

This was a lively scene, the Revolution Club was out in force with and among the masses we are fighting to bring forward, we were on all sides of the intersection calling on people to get with and support the revolution. We were getting donations and expressions of support from the older crowd, while a couple of them went over to also get their shirt. The three youths who had put on the shirt got some shit from the younger people that knew them. “Man, what are you doing in that shirt?” “You need to get with this too,” was how that back and forth kept playing out. No one was allowed to just walk by and ignore what was going on, the youths we were with wouldn’t have it: “Man, you better take one of these flyers.”

We raised the money for the shirts and came back to the initial corner where we began doing agitation. We were going through the six Points of Attention with the three youths as others would come in closer to listen in to what was going on. One guy rolled up on his bike to find out what we were doing. He said, he had done some years in prison and that he hated this system, but then at one point he said, “Man, Trump is a bitch.” We didn’t let that slide, fuck Trump but the use of the word “bitch” is degrading to all women and the thinking behind it is one of the ways that they keep us fucked up and divided, unable to recognize the full humanity of the people around us.

One of the youths who had put on the shirt said he liked Point 2, it stood out to him, but then he said that if someone were to treat his mother or sister like that, that he would chop them up and kill ’em, “tear his limbs off,” he said. We went at that also―it’s fucked up as hell and it goes against Point 4, they’ll keep us trapped and unable to fight for a better world if we don’t get beyond this revenge shit. He said he agreed, but when another comrade came up just a few seconds after that exchange and asked what people had thought about the Points of Attention he repeated he liked Point 2 and again said he would “amputate the limbs” of anyone who would treat one of his loved ones like that.

The comrade opened up a discussion on revenge and retaliation. People said that they thought revenge was good, it makes you feel better and you feel like you could breathe easier. Our comrade pointed out that this goes against the interests of the people; it doesn’t go to the root of the problem, which is the system that is causing all this shit to begin with. It keeps us from fighting for the truly liberating world that is possible. One of the other youths then talked about a documentary he’d seen about Native American tribes who got convinced to take revenge on each other and this was part of how they were wiped out and conquered. The first guy who had said he wanted to rip off people’s limbs said he could see how the retaliation among the people now is the same thing and he doesn’t want to see Black people wiped out like the Native Americans. Later he said he was glad we’d had this conversation because he had been thinking about taking revenge against some people who had robbed him and now he was rethinking it.

One of the people standing off to the side listening in was about 12 or 13 years old and he wanted to ask a question sort of off to the side. I asked what was it, he said, “So what you’re saying is that if someone is walking up on me and getting ready to smoke me, I’m not suppose to smoke him first, I’m suppose to just let him kill me?” He looked so young and I was taken aback by the question he was posing. I then asked him, “Why can’t we fight for a world beyond all this shit instead? Why can’t we fight for a world where kids like you don’t have to think about making those choices?” He responded with a “Thank you, sir” and walked away.

Point of Attention Number 2: Yes, ALL Women!

Leading up to the June 10 rally we struggled with how to go most thoroughly and sharply on the question of women. Throughout our engagement with people young and older, a trend had arisen of people really resonating with the second point of attention and then with some probing, the notion of “these women” (my mother, my sister, my cousin, etc.) do need to be ensured they aren’t getting abused sexually or otherwise, and are treated as a full human being... but THOSE women, the ones who don’t dress or act a certain way, well those are bitches, I call it like I see it.

NO!!!

There are no “other women” and fuck the distinction of those who fit into some neat arbitrary package. We had to figure out a way to go at it and reread and watched some of the ways BA goes at this question, like in guy culture making you literally want to distance yourself in repulsion after he rightly compares it to using the N-word. It’s something integral to both most religion and the pornography culture really taking hold. A lot of us were socialized in it, too; that’s what really laid the foundation for how we saw women and men as well. But it can be broken with, and needs to be; how the hell can you make a revolution worth having without the emancipation of women? And as they get into the revolution, waves of women need to be coming in and unleashed to tear this system down and see the communist world through in a socialist society.

For the program with a lot study and wrangling amongst each other, we dug into BAsics 5:18 to essentially get at the point of really wanting out or fitting in to get a piece of oppression pie. And linked it with the women around them treated as subhuman or appendages because the logic of this system dictates it and has socialized their role as such. The deaths of people killed by the police and how women are in death treated no less human than a man. If we can recognize that, then what’s holding us back while they are alive? Ending on BAsics 3:22 we concluded with the necessity to break all the chains and, with all human beings, tear down this system and fight through on a new world together.

Bob Avakian Through the Years - 1969, 1979, 2003.

Yes this is positive... but maybe NOT how you think...

We’ve been doing different and new things throughout our work, coming up against new challenges and putting our heads together to learn all we can to be better able to transform what we confront. Everywhere people are caught up in bad shit and being played by this system, we are going in with the way out, marching in tight formation, fanning out to engage people, doing agitation in busy intersections and right inside the neighborhoods, waging fierce ideological struggle on street corners or right on people’s front porch, wielding our BAsics and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. We’ve been out with a sound car as others are on foot to cover more ground with the challenge to get with this movement for revolution, we’ve popped open the back of a van to show BA Through the Years on a big screen TV, calling on people who are out to come check out the leadership we have.

Throughout it all, however, people have continually reinterpreted what we put forth. In a neighborhood where we had engaged quite a few people, a couple of us walked up on a scene where a crowd was facing off against the police who had chased down one of the youths and had him detained in the back of a patrol car. People saw us coming and right away cheered, “Hey, it’s Stop the Violence!” This turned out to be part of a larger trend and obviously a big problem because we need to get to a situation where millions are willing and determined to put their lives on the line to bring down this system and we won’t be able to do that if people think we are just another pacifist, reformist group. We summed up that right from the beginning we had to make very clear to people what it’s gonna take to bring this system down and build something new on the rubble of what we overthrow, and that is what we are getting prepared for right now. Some of the hard core youth who had previously refused to engage us were noticeably intrigued when we took this approach with them. “I’d get with that” or “I’m down for that” was how a couple of them put it, but most people, hard core youth and others, would respond with, “You can’t do that” or “How are you going to do that?”

There is not much need to go into how we responded to every question raised, but a point needs to be made that time and again we (broadly speaking) are confronted with the need to go deeper and wrangle in a lively way with what we do have, namely the scientific method and approach embodied in the new synthesis of communism and what has been brought forward from its application to the questions people raise when they realize that we are actually talking about a real revolution. These are serious questions and not something to be flip about, as if we got all the answers written down somewhere. There have been significant breakthroughs in theoretical conception and strategic approach to making an actual revolution, but there is no getting around the fact that masses of people are going to have to wrangle seriously and deeply with what those are if we actually are going to bring forward a revolutionary force that has a real chance to win.

We’ve used the Revolution Club Organizing Center to hold showings of parts of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, to have discussions on quotes from BAsics, the handbook for revolution, and we are beginning regular discussions on the pamphlet HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution, that go all the way through it in a deep way.

America was NEVER great—Revolution, Nothing Less!

As the Revolution Club has been out in neighborhoods on the South Side having an impact through pop-up rallies and struggling with the masses to change what they are living and fighting for and step up to the challenge of organizing for an actual revolution to emancipate humanity, the political situation throughout society has been highly charged, with daily new outrages from the fascist Trump/Pence regime and the regular workings of this capitalist-imperialist system. We are taking responsibility for the whole thing and interacting with the contradictions of the larger terrain, working to impact the whole society for revolution and organizing forces into making revolution as we go.

On June 17, the Puerto Rican People’s Parade in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago was led by Oscar López Rivera, the former political prisoner who is a long-time fighter for Puerto Rican independence and the rights of Puerto Rican people. He also led the parade in New York the weekend before, in the midst of a whole struggle over his role in this, concentrating questions of the oppression and liberation of Puerto Rico and Puerto Rican people. All of this has unfolded in the context of intense contradictions in Puerto Rico, where basic necessities are being cut and people have been protesting and standing up to fight against this and the Trump/Pence regime has cut funding and is increasing the suffering of the people there. In Chicago’s Humboldt Park there is a whole history of struggle, including where there was a rebellion in the 1960s in response to police murder of a Puerto Rican youth on Division Street. Humboldt Park, on the edge of the West Side, is also a neighborhood where today there is the same kind of violence among oppressed youth that reaches into all oppressed neighborhoods of Chicago. The weekend of the parade, 15 people were shot in Humboldt Park.

The Revolution Club entered into all this with a contingent marching in the parade under a banner with the slogans of our summer proclamation, “The Revolution Club Declares: This Summer in Chicago Will Not Be a Bloodbath of Killing Each Other; This Summer Will Not Be Free Rein for Police to Murder Black and Brown People; This Summer We Get Organized for Revolution to Emancipate All of Humanity.” A couple people from the South Side who have connected up with the revolution recently were part of marching in this contingent: breaking down some of the barriers of nationality and neighborhood that divide up the city. We all wore the BA Speaks: REVOLUTION―NOTHING LESS! T-shirts and marched in formation with fists up, chanting mainly in Spanish (which our mostly English-speaking contingent learned how to do), “¿Qué es el problema? ¡El Sistema! ¡El Sistema! ¿Cual es la solución? ¡Revolución! !Revolución!” (“What’s the problem? The system, the system! What’s the solution? Revolution! Revolution!”) We also carried pictures of Philando Castile, killed by a pig in Minnesota who was just declared not guilty the day before. All along the parade people got copies of Revolution newspaper.

The response was mixed. Among the crowd, some waved Puerto Rican flags and raised fists, some chanted along with us. Others seemed not sure of what they thought. Jeeps with loud and obnoxious horns in the parade behind us waved a Puerto Rican flag next to a Blue Lives Matter flag in support of the police, and tried to drown out the sound of our chants. Some people came up to us at the end of the parade wanting to find out more. We were flyering the crowd and calling on people to come downtown where we were going to burn an Amerikkkan flag in protest of the acquittal of the pig who murdered Philando Castile in front of his fiancée and her four-year-old daughter. This pissed off some reactionaries who came out for the Puerto Rican parade, and got support from others.

Straight from the Puerto Rican parade, the Revolution Club popped up downtown to lead a march and flag-burning in response to the sickening verdict out of Minnesota the day before that yet again affirmed that in Amerikkka, Black people have no rights this country is bound to respect. Carl Dix delivered a searing indictment of the system that murdered Philando Castile as news cameras filmed him and the Revolution Club, letting people know that we were going to burn the Amerikkkan flag. We then marched to Millennium Park chanting Philando Castile’s name at the top of our lungs in righteous anger, putting the blame on the whole system, and putting forward the solution to all this, Revolution―Nothing Less! and the leadership of BA.

We got to the park and gathered a crowd with our agitation that Amerikkka was never great, that it’s responsible for brutality and death here and all over the world; the whole damn system is guilty for the death of Philando Castile and so many others throughout the whole fuckin’ planet. The notorious flag burner and communist, Joey Johnson, pulled out a bunch of these filthy, blood-soaked rags and lit the first one on fire tossing it on the sidewalk for all to see. This astonished some, enraged others, but also got enthusiastic approval from some in the crowd. Joey threw rag after rag into the flames of the first, showing the crowd the utter contempt with which this symbol of murderous imperialism needs to be treated by everyone who sees the need to fight for anything decent in this world. Someone angrily yelled at us, “People die every day for that flag!” and we responded even more furiously, “People are MURDERED everyday in the name of that rag! Fuck that rag!” Some in the crowd gave us their numbers asking us to hit them up so that they could get involved with this movement. One went around giving props to the revolutionaries before he walked up to spit on the ashes of the flags that had been burnt.

We marched out, after a long day but more energetic than before and in the highest spirit, chanting once again and determined as ever to make those breakthroughs for revolution, here in Chicago and all over the world.


May 2017

Meeting the Leader of the Revolution

One of the first things the Revolution Club did was organize a showing of the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion, a Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian, in a storefront the club had opened in April. Over 40 people packed into the organizing center to hear the dialogue between Bob Avakian (BA) and Cornel West, 15 or so from the surrounding neighborhood and others from around the city—on the basis of really a few days of organizing. One of the older volunteers wrote the following report:

At all points during the Dialogue,* people were really engaged with the film, often audibly engaged with it. There were 3 women in the middle of the audience who were constantly talking back to the screen, in a good way, shouting encouragement and props to both speakers. While I think at least 2 of them were religious, they really ate up BA’s tearing at the Bible and the whole religious argument that people need god to be good. The Usain Bolt section really got into people’s hearts and took them with it all the way up to its conclusion.

The section where he talked about us needing to live in a world where the horrors of today are gone, going through them one by one had people cheering. People were also way into the sections where he took on women’s oppression, the need for people to respond to the looming Ferguson verdict and James Brown.

There were also several people, including the 3 women I mentioned earlier, who really liked his agitation re the Democrats and American savagery overall. One of these women was also audibly moved when he talked about the hell imperialism brings down on workers in Bangladesh. The same people who were moved by BA were also moved by Cornel West, including in sections of his speech where he was strongly putting forward his own views.

Briefly on the Q&A, 2 places where people were audibly moved were when BA responded to the question of why are we still fighting for justice after so many decades and we need help to deal with the way they swept up our children in raids in the projects and the question of what do you say to young people who feel they’ve done such horrible things they can’t be redeemed. It seemed that people got that here was a revolutionary leader who was determined to lead in developing what’s needed to get ready and in position to lead people all out in going for revolution with a real chance to win and determined to struggle with people to be able to be part of this revolution. And has scientifically-founded faith that people can do this, but not as they are.

It is really the case that people who were there for substantial parts of the Dialogue did meet the leader of the revolution and almost all of them developed a real respect for him. At least 3 people got the DVD of the Dialogue and a younger person there bought The New Communism.

A week and a half later, the film still reverberates. One woman came by the next day talking about the need to get the youth into science and how the film had given her the most energy she’s had in months; a few days later she brought a friend over to find out about this. People have come into the organizing center, and there have been long talks in and out of the center between club members and some of the people who came. Some have drawn closer to the club; and some have marched with and agitated with it in the hood. Leading with BA—putting this revolutionary leader and what he’s about in front of people and letting them interact with him—is the key to breaking open this situation and opening up people’s thinking. This has to happen all over the city this summer.

* To get the references in this account, go here and watch the Dialogue. [back]

Watch the film HERE

Read more         Listen here

Bob Avakian Through the Years - 1969, 1979, 2003.

$20,000 is needed immediately to support the work being done in Chicago.

Please share the campaign on social media. Ask 5 people you know to contribute ($10 to $500 ... it all helps). DONATE GENEROUSLY NOW. 

A Day in the Hood: Coming Alive Then Running Into Borderlines

From a volunteer:

The Revolution Club went out to a neighborhood to organize people into the movement for revolution. The plan was to march through as a visible disciplined revolutionary force and call on people to get out of the harmful shit that this system has got them caught up in and get with the movement for revolution. As we were getting ready to march, a couple of youth were walking by so a couple of Rev Club members went over to talk to them. We told them we were communists and that we were organizing now for an actual overthrow of this whole system. One responded, “Oh, against the government? Hell, yeah.” They spoke bitterness about the fucked up conditions in Chicago and the need for something to be done.

We came back to the point that what we need is an actual revolution because those conditions they were talking about and the problems that go hand in hand with those conditions are created by a system that needs to be and can be gotten rid of, not just in Chicago but all over the world. Our only chance at changing this for the better depends on us understanding what’s at the root of these problems. Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, has developed the understanding of that system, a strategy to overthrow it, and a program for what should replace it embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

We pulled out a phone to show them the “BA Through the Years” video so they can catch a glimpse of the kind of leadership that exists. They laughed at the way BA went at how people get caught up in the idea that they are “regulating the corner” or thinking that this is “our hood” when the reality is that they don’t own or control shit. We told them because of the work this leader has done through the course of several decades, we have a thoroughly scientific method that allows us to get at the root of what’s going on and figure out the ways to change it all. What’s needed is for them to step into this, to put on a shirt and march with us, to join the Revolution Club, this is where people learn the new synthesis of communism that BA has developed and learn how to apply it to the problems of the revolution.

They had raised before that a lot of people won’t change or don’t want to hear this, so we told them coming into this is the way that things will change. People are caught up in a lot of shit because they don’t see any other way the world could be, but when they see people like them getting with the movement for an actual revolution, if they see them stepping into this and marching with the Revolution Club then that begins to change things on a level of significance that is much greater that what goes on in these few blocks and goes beyond what happens just in Chicago.

Other Revolution Club members had begun to talk to other people who were passing by and at one point decided to bring everyone together to engage with each other. This was right when the two youth we were originally talking to were about to read the six Points of Attention for the Revolution. This turned into a scene where people took turns reading each point out loud and talked about what they thought of the points.

After they read all the points out loud, one of the Revolution Club members asked them which points stood out to them. One person said Point 3, his friend said Points 1 and 4, and then the two other guys who had been brought over both said Point 2, and were kind of excited that they both thought that was important. When asked why, one person said that the disrespect and the different forms the oppression of women takes was wrong, the next guy spoke of the need for equality for gay and differently gendered people. The third person who answered then rethought what he said first and also spoke to point 2 before going on to speak to what was important in Points 1 and 4.

We posed the challenge again to step into this movement and march with the Revolution Club right then and there and spoke to the impact that this could have once again. As people were dividing out around this challenge and it looked like nobody would march, the pigs stopped to fuck with one of the masses. The Revolution Club went over to post up and make sure that the pigs didn’t go and just wantonly brutalize one of the people like they’re known to do.

The pigs left and we got in line to march and one of the guys we were just talking to fell into our ranks. He seemed unsure and began to fall behind when we started marching, but a Revolution Club member let him know that he’s right behind him and that he should march right next to the person on his side.

We marched together, chanting and in formation for a couple of blocks when all of a sudden, the person who had just joined us stepped out and apologized to a club member and explained that he couldn’t cross over to where we were going to march. That area was controlled by a different set—he feared getting shot if he went there.

The fact that people who want to step up and be about fighting for a whole new world that moves beyond all the fucked up shit that goes on in the world, feel trapped in a small piece of ground is both heartbreaking and infuriating. This also points to and poses a challenge to revolutionaries, just one more reminder that the world desperately needs change and that it is our responsibility to lead that transformation—and doing it right now.

Back and Forth: “I Get This—But Other People Won’t Take It Up”

From a volunteer:

A person working out of a local shop stepped out one day as revolutionaries were out at an intersection in Chicago fighting to bring people into the movement for revolution. He’d seen us out there before and was curious about what we were doing. We told him we were revolutionary communists and that we were out to build a movement for an actual revolution, that people had uprooted their lives and came from different parts of the country because a fascist regime has seized the reins of power and is poised to take the oppression of Black people to horrific new levels, zeroing in on Chicago.

When we met this guy we were building for a film showing of Revolution and Religion... to help introduce the leadership of BA to the masses, and after watching the trailer he said he wanted to pay for a ticket, not for himself but for us to give to anybody that we ran into who seriously wanted to go. He himself couldn’t make it, he argued, but he wanted to support what we were doing.

We see this kind of support as positive and significant but more is needed. This support from afar is a lot of how people want to relate to the revolution so we wanted to dig up what was standing in the way of people stepping into this movement. Some of the contradictions he raised were that people are afraid of a showdown with the repressive forces of the state, the youth are caught up in a lot of bad shit and it’s hard to get them stop, or even get a hearing.

We’ve been doing work nearby so we’ve continued to drop in on this shop, and this guy has taken some things up and thrown in some to build things while continuing to not fully commit to join the Revolution Club. We went through the six Points of Attention for the Revolution with him and he bought a shirt. He called on someone going through the shop to "stand with people" and come out to an upcoming event where an important message from the revolution is going to be given, and he bought The New Communism.

Recently, while in the shop, while we were having some struggle about whether or not we could even get a hearing from people caught up in all this shit that Chicago is too known for, he pointed out someone there who is in the life and called him over. He told us that this was one of those "knuckleheads" that you can’t talk to. He called the guy over and pointed to a flyer on the wall and asked him, "What do you think about this?" The response was, "Revolution? I don’t know and I don’t care nothing about that shit." The guy we were talking to then gestured to us as if saying, "Go ahead."

We took this on by making the point that this is about getting free and asked if that wasn’t something he wanted to do. There was a whole back and forth through which it was revealed that both of them felt the same way about the shit going on, "It would be good, but it’s so hard to get people to come together." The person we were working with seemed more optimistic after this exchange, in which he threw in at one point by clarifying that we were talking about freeing all people not just Black people, and agreed to help set up some meetings with other people.

Demonstrating at District 7: We Won’t Be Backed Down

The Revolution Club and supporters protested in front of the Englewood District 7 police station against the outrageous arrests of two Revolution Club members last month. This protest was in response to the arrests of two Revolution Club members at the Peace Walk led by the Catholic Church. At District 7—otherwise known as a nest of abusers, repressors, and murderers—we delivered a message: we will not be backed off the mission of organizing into the revolution the youth this system has no future for, and every time the police and other enforcers of this system try to suppress this movement, we are going to call forward more forces for revolution and get stronger in the face of it. In addition to the statement given by one of the Revolution Club leaders who had been arrested, two ministers spoke, expressing their appreciation for and support of the Revolution Club, and speaking out against the history of brutality and murder by this police district.

We marched a few blocks down to a busy intersection, gathering on the corner to bring this message to the people and leading a “speak-out” where people who had come to support got on the mic as well as some who had just been passing by. Different people said we need a revolution, with different ideas of what that means. One person said, “We will need a revolution in order to fight the superior forces of this system that are keeping us at a lack and a standstill.” Another began by talking about the dilapidated neighborhoods of the South Side and the unfairness of this. He said we need a change, a revolution, and went on to broaden out to the whole history of this country, the enslavement of Africans, the slaughter of Native Americans, followed by Jim Crow, and now people being mass incarcerated. He ended saying it’s time for a change.

When the protest was over, some people came to the Revolution Club office to hang out together and to talk about how to organize for the upcoming May 20th march and rally in South Shore, with a message being delivered by Carl Dix, “What you should—and should not—live and die for.” At first people were in different groupings talking about different things, and then we brought people together to all talk with each other, which was a key element of bringing forward something new. One big controversy: leadership, why do you need it and what kind do you need. Someone brought up Occupy and said they couldn't get anywhere because they didn't have leadership. We got into the importance of leadership, the role of BA and the leadership he's provided, and the need for people to get into this—but summed up later we could have actually done better by putting the chapter on leadership in BAsics before people and discussing key quotes from there. There's plenty of ways to let people encounter BA and have that, uncut, set the terms.

When we came all together to talk in a bigger group, a man in his 20s spoke movingly about how he sees the club and his role in all this. He said he has seen the Revolution Club not just on the South Side but at demonstrations in other parts of the city and he feels like the Revolution Club represents the way forward. He said he kept hearing people talk about the six Points of Attention for the Revolution and wanted to know what those are. Someone handed him a copy and asked him if he wanted to read it out loud. He did and read through all six, sometimes pausing to think and briefly respond to what he was reading. At the end, he said the most striking to him were Points 2 and 3. On Point 2 he felt strongly that women are being oppressed all over the world and the need to fight to end this oppression. On Point 3 he was struck by the vision of a world without borders, which he described as artificial barriers meant to keep people in and keep people out. The power of these points as representing a whole different way came out; the room listened raptly, and some seemed to hear them in a new way. He said he wanted to think about all of these points more, but spoke powerfully about the attraction he felt toward the revolution. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/revcom-writes-from-the-scene-in-st-louis-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Revcom Writes From the Scene:
Night After Night in St. Louis

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We received this several days ago from a member of the Revolution Club:

In St. Louis there has been a sustained thing of people taking the streets and shutting it down. Every day there is a meet-up spot where people drive to and gather until the word comes out from one of the leaders about where to go.

On Friday, we met up north in a mall parking lot located in the middle of not much. The only place open was a huge store that sold arms. We got word to head up to a casino and to follow as a caravan. A lot of cars got split because of red lights and a lot of people got lost—including us—since we were following a car that made a U-turn he wasn't supposed to make. We ended up parking and heading over to the meet-up spot in St. Charles, a predominantly white suburb where a lot of cops live, and there was an Oktoberfest event where everyone was getting drunk. We marched through the streets and alongside the festival chanting "Indict convict..." and "Hey hey, ho ho these killer cops have got to go." Some drunks tried to follow and start shit with us but were kept away by the pigs. There were the chants "This is what democracy looks like." We went alongside the festival as Black people said they were called the N-word and people were told to get out of their city. The crowd would give high fives to those sticking their hand over the fence.

There was a young white woman who joined our march. I asked her if she had just joined and why. As she was carrying her empty collectible glass jug of beer, she said, "There's too much corruption in this system. The cops are killers." Her male friend also was marching and was taking live video. As we marched down, some residents were out of their houses supporting us. One white person yelled out, "I'm a part of this!" The leaders of the movement were on the bullhorn as we took over one of the intersections and said they were not anti-police but anti-bad police and got into what Black Lives Matter means to them. There was a moment of silence as some hecklers tried to disrupt things. The pigs blocked off the major intersection that led to the casino and the leaders called the night off.

The movement to stop police murder took a big hit this weekend with the brutal arrest of some people, including at least one Black youth who was strangled, thrown to the ground, and arrested along with his grandmother who was trying to free him. People had met up at the Galleria mall again like they had in the last week to shut it down. We met in front of the mall and then people went around and gave word to meet in front of the Apple store. There was an announcement downstairs and it all began with people marching through. At the escalator, a pig blocked one of the ways to go up, so people just charged through. As stores began bringing down their gates and closing up, there were people behind the rails looking over at the bottom level and cheering. Once everyone got downstairs we did more chants in celebration, but then some whistles went off by the pigs and there were a line of them charging at people. People began to run toward the exits. Inside the pigs had gone after people, with one throwing and wrestling a white man to the ground with more pigs jumping over the man. The leaders outside did agitation against the police who had come outside to single out a white man and threw him up off the ground and body slammed him, jumped on him, and arrested him. One pig walked toward me as I was blowing the whistle and then they all started chasing one of the leaders of the movement, who got away. Everyone went over to the courthouse to protest and spent the day there. At night, the Galleria was filled with state troopers. People met at a nearby shopping square where they shut down Target. Riot police came out as there was a moment of silence for Anthony Lamar Smith.

One night I stayed at the place of someone I met at the St. Charles protest. She was reading the “role of the police” poster I had. I got into the strategy to defeat them with her and she said she had been thinking about how to do that. She said she’s a part of a democratic socialist group and is helping as she can with donating and volunteering to feed people and provide resources. She had been reading BAsics that I left at her place. She really likes the first quote and thinks it is true. She has read the first few pages and likes the part about the U.S. military and the interests it serves. She wishes there were more statistics, but she figured she has to get into the cited works that follow each of BA's quotes. She offered to drive me to the protest that was happening in a few hours, so I went to her house where she pulled up BA on the big screen. She pulled up BA Through the Years and began snapping her fingers in agreement to the beginning. When it got to the Revolution Talk, she said, "Wow he's still at it... after all these decades." I announced BA will be in Berkeley next year, and she said, "I wonder if we can drive over there." After getting into a lot of things like the Points of Attention, she said, "I'm down." Today, she's printing more of the November 4 This Nightmare Must End flyers and will pass them out at her campus. We're getting back together later this week.

       

When we got to the protest, she raised that she should form a communist group on campus. She had questions about corruption and other individuals taking over and what are the different lines and difference between Trotskyites and communists and anarchists. After we discussed some, she asked me, "OK, should we go around and get these flyers out?" She introduced me to her socialist friends. I gave a Revolution newspaper to one guy and I was talking about getting with the leadership of BA. He asked who is Bob Avakian and knows nothing about him and had heard that we're "weird." He went on to say he's already a communist and is working in St. Louis. He asked whether I was from St. Louis and if there was a Revolution Club in St. Louis. The young woman I was with pointed at me and said, "That's why he's here." I asked him what is his strategy, solution and way beyond these relations between people. He said they're still figuring it out. I gave him the choice to get to know BA by taking the paper and if he wants to do that he can, and if not then he could continue not knowing the way out and whatever it is, we need to organize to drive out this Trump/Pence regime. The young woman afterward said he was definitely not one of her friends and she thought it was ridiculous for people to not get into BA if they didn't know anything about him.

I met one of the students we interviewed the other day who really liked the Trump fascist poster from Revolution. She said she passed out the materials we gave her on campus and I gave her a stack of November 4 flyers for her to get out, and she said she would make more copies and will get back to us.

I introduced myself to one of the leaders as I was handing out flyers yesterday. He is a Black politician and said he already knew me. I was like oh, OK. He said he couldn't take a flyer but to contact him about uniting with it because he does unite with November 4 and thinks they could do something with it. He reasoned he is too much into putting a stop to police murder of Black people in St. Louis.

The march began with people having blue tape over their mouths to represent blue silence. Among the protests have been the chant "White Silence Is Violence," and the theme of this march was "Blue Silence Is Violence." It was over the fact that there was a Black cop who was shot by a white cop when he was off duty and a Black undercover cop who was brutally attacked and arrested by the police. In front of the pig headquarters, one of the leaders said, "They can't even take care of themselves. So how can they take care of us? We gotta take care of ourselves!" People began chanting "Indict, convict, send the killer cops to jail" without my starting it. Then people took a knee for a minute for the players of the NFL and Kaepernick. Then hundreds took to the streets. People attempted to take over a blocked highway with pigs on bikes standing there. It was interesting they sent out pigs on bikes.

The sentiment among the crowd was a lot of anger for the brutal arrests of people who just got out and joined the protest with the parents of Isaiah Hammett and Isaiah Perkins who vowed not to give up until their murderers were in jail. Then the crowd headed to Busch Stadium to declare, "NO JUSTICE—NO BASEBALL!" The protest ended with the reverend saying they had a strategy and they go back each night to figure out what to do for the next day.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/watching-atomic-cafe-w-rev-club-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Watching The Atomic Cafe with the Revolution Club

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a member of the Revolution Club New York City:

"This was so enraging!" a member of the Revolution Club burst out after the screening ended. She was met with nodding heads and cries of agreement from the rest of us. "People need to know; people need to see this!" she continued.

We were exchanging comments after a screening of the 1982 film The Atomic Cafe at Revolution Books NYC, which was hosted by the Revolution Club in place of our regular open mic nights, as part of the Future People cultural series.

We certainly recommend that other people make the time to watch this film; it is a very well-made documentary comprised entirely of U.S. Cold War era propaganda, military training footage, and newsreels starting around the year 1945, from the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, covering about 20 years through the height of the Cold War frenzy.

"We see very clearly that American interests are not the same as humanity's interests," someone said, referencing the "Peace! It's WONDERFUL!" montage of "American life" shortly after the atomic bombing of Japan. Minutes after scenes of tremendous devastation, charred bodies and buildings reduced to rubble, radiation sickness and missing limbs from those who survived the initial blast, we see white American families frolic together at beaches and amusement parks, enjoy hearty meals together, and laughing. Much like President Truman did shortly before his television statement declaring that the nuclear bomb had been a gift from "god" to America and that they would continue to use it as "god" intended.

One woman declared, "This [the propaganda] is absurd! How did people believe this?!" And a Revolution Club member responded that this anti-truth and anti-science propaganda was not only training people to NOT think critically about what this country does all over the world, but actually get them to accept the horrors and cheer them on, all in the name of "America First" chauvinism.

We talked about the anti-communist hysteria that was whipped up to justify attacking Korea, leaving three million people dead, as well as justifying constant nuclear testing and detonations which poisoned several areas in the Pacific region, and even in some areas in the U.S. such as Arizona. Another woman, who had grown up in the '50s, recalled getting exposed to radiation from such testing.

In the film, the U.S. political mouthpieces and propagandists tout ideals of individual freedom and liberty for all, at the same time as their military leadership condemned hundreds of their own soldiers to radiation sickness by deliberately and repeatedly running nuclear tests on them.

Someone criticized the film as focusing too much on the critique of American culture, and not enough on the devastation of life and the environment caused to all the places the U.S. destroyed and radiated, many of which are still suffering from lingering effects today.

Another woman, who had grown up hearing stories of the great social changes that had occurred in the 1960s, felt that those who, like her, had been raised in the '80s and '90s had been denied some of that social consciousness and revulsion to U.S. imperialism that people had in the '60s. "It's like that [chauvinism] never got rooted out and has taken an even stronger hold today. So then what fundamental shift DOES have to happen in this country and in people in order to 'root it out' for good?"

We closed on this point: The reality is that the Trump/Pence regime is speeding up its attacks on people and every day we are brought closer to the brink of a new era of nuclear warfare, with Trump's finger hovering over the trigger and his threats to annihilate North Korea escalating. At the same time there is a real basis for huge sectors of society to "wake up" and take up the mission of Refusefascism.org, to drive out this fascist regime through mass mobilization in the streets beginning on November 4. We gotta go out and win people over to confront the real existential threat this regime poses, and fight against the lies being pumped out by the regime's mouthpieces and the whole process of normalization taking place. And we gotta do so with broad open arms saying, "Look, you realize what is going on here, so don't go back to sleep—follow through on your convictions and stand together with everyone who can be united, and in the name of humanity, drive out this regime."

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/american-crime-59-the-us-domination-of-cuba-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

American Crime

Case #59: The U.S. Invasion, Occupation, Domination, and Plunder of Cuba: 1898 to 1959

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

The Crime: In 1895, the Cuban people rose up against the Spanish colonialists who had ruled their country for more than 350 years. Cuba was one of the last outposts of Spain’s once vast empire and a source of immense profits from the sugar plantations. Spain waged a brutal counter-insurgency war, employing what later became known as the “strategic hamlet” strategy: forcing entire villages and small towns into concentration camps and carrying out a burn-all, kill-all policy in large regions along with efforts to starve rebellious regions into submission. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people died at the hands of the Spanish military. But by the spring of 1898, the Spanish were all but defeated.

Headlines in the New York Journal when the U.S. warship Maine blew up in Havana harbor.

When the U.S. warship Maine blew up in Havana harbor, the U.S. press, especially that owned by William Randolf Hearst, initiated a fierce PR campaign to blame Spain and demanded U.S. military action against the Spanish. "Remember the Maine!" became a rallying cry for war.

As this was taking place, on February 15, 1898, a U.S. warship, the Maine, blew up in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, and 266 of the 350 sailors onboard were killed. U.S. president McKinley initially thought it was an accident, but the U.S. newspapers quickly blamed Spain for the explosion and demanded U.S. military action against the Spanish.1 “Remember the Maine!” became a rallying cry for war.

On April 20, the U.S. Congress passed the Teller Amendment declaring, “The United States ... hereby disclaims any disposition or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control over said island [Cuba] except for pacification thereof, and asserts its determination, when that is accomplished, to leave the government and control of the island to its people.” The amendment was meant to placate the Cuban people and people in the U.S. who had anti-imperialist sentiments opposed to foreign occupation.

Five days later, on April 25, the U.S. declared war on Spain. And on May 1, a U.S. invasion force commanded by future U.S. president Teddy Roosevelt landed at Santiago de Cuba and within a few weeks defeated a demoralized, outgunned Spanish force that had already been largely defeated by the Cubans. Shortly thereafter, Spain surrendered. While there were pro-U.S. elements among the rebels, including some who favored annexation to the U.S., the vast majority of rebels and their leadership wanted complete independence. The U.S. feigned sympathy with those aspirations and began what McKinley claimed was a temporary occupation.

The U.S. went on to directly rule Cuba for four years. Under their rule, black people were treated with utter contempt. For example, when the U.S. organized a Cuban Rural Guard, it created a segregated force with all-white officers. When the U.S. held an election in 1900, it pointedly excluded black people. A New York Times headline justified this exclusion in blatantly racist terms: “CUBA MAY BE ANOTHER HAITI.; Results Of Universal Suffrage Would Be a Black Republic—The Negroes Could Carry First Election.”

In May 1902, the last American troops sailed from the island, but not before the U.S. Congress passed the Platt Amendment,2 which gave the U.S. control over nearly every aspect of Cuban political life. Cubans were given an ultimatum: accept the Platt Amendment or face indefinite U.S. military rule.

With the Platt Amendment enshrining the right of the U.S. to intervene pretty much anytime it wished, American capitalist investors felt confident about moving into Cuba. Within a few years, 60 percent of Cuban rural property was in the hands of U.S. capitalists.

The resulting U.S. economic and political domination of Cuba was hugely advantageous to U.S. business interests. Under U.S. control, sugar plantations, even more dominant than they had been under the Spanish, ate up much of the arable land. The U.S. sucked wealth out of Cuba by dominating big agriculture and other businesses such as rum, tobacco, and cigar making, shipping, mining, and public utilities. Cuba became dependent on U.S. imports of food and nearly everything else, in a land that had been extremely fertile before its forests were burned down to make way for sugar.

The Cuban economy, built around the production of cane sugar, ground up hundreds of thousands of human beings in backbreaking and health-destroying labor. Rising and falling sugar prices and tariffs led to boom-and-bust cycles, which provided fabulous wealth for a few but ruin and immense suffering for many. Sugarcane workers worked unbearably hard during harvest months and went hungry much of the rest of the year. Often, it was family labor on tiny plots of land that enabled people to barely survive from harvest to harvest in the cane fields. Cubans worked on U.S.-owned cattle ranches, but only a tenth of the people in the countryside ever drank milk, and less than half of that percentage ever ate meat. Small farmers, often poor whites, were not much better off than plantation workers. Meanwhile hunger, poverty, and injustice were the lot for large sections of the Cuban population.

At various times in the decades following the U.S. withdrawal in 1902, U.S. troops returned to occupy Cuba. In 1906 to 1909 and in 1917 to 1922, the U.S. intervened militarily to put down protests against the corrupt and brutal government.

The U.S. intervention in 1912 came at a time of rebellion by Afro-Cubans against racial bigotry. The protests and an armed uprising (called the Armed Uprising of the Independents of Color, or the Negro Rebellion in the U.S.) against savage racism and oppression, were met with ruthless brutality. As many as 6,000 Afro-Cubans—rebels and the local population—were massacred, executed, or lynched by Cuban forces backed by nearly 3,000 U.S. Marines.

U.S. military power served to stabilize the imperialist hold on Cuba and to prop up some of the world’s most notorious tyrants, obsequious to Washington and unspeakably cruel toward the people.

In the 1930s Depression years, falling sugar prices led to widespread unemployment and starvation. In 1933 this exploded into a revolutionary movement that swept the island, including a paralyzing general strike initiated by transit workers and the seizure of dozens of sugar mills and the formation of “Soviets” by radicalized sugar workers.

Cuba’s president at that time, Gerardo Machado, was unable to defeat the forces rising against his regime. A special envoy, Sumner Welles, sent by U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt to deal with the crisis, pressured Machado to leave office, and a new U.S.-backed president assumed power. Still, the crisis and mass rebellion continued and spread into the ranks of the military. A group of non-commissioned officers led by army sergeant Fulgencio Batista seized control of the Cuban army and together with students and others drove Machado’s replacement from power. A reform government briefly held power, withdrew from the Platt Amendment, and began to make some changes that threatened U.S. economic and political interests. The U.S. withdrew support from that government and maneuvered against it. With U.S. help, Batista became the new head of the Cuban military and assumed the role of a U.S. strongman, ruling Cuba directly or from behind the scenes until the revolution in 1959.

Like other U.S.-backed rulers before him, Batista relied on repression, racism, torture, and public executions to stay in power. Under his rule, U.S. domination of Cuba’s economy reached new heights. By the late 1950s, U.S. financial interests owned 90 percent of Cuban mines, 80 percent of its public utilities, 50 percent its railways, 40 percent of its sugar production, and 25 percent of its bank deposits.

Cuban society was as devastated and dominated as its economy. Under the watchful eyes of Washington’s ambassadors, the U.S.-based Mafia set moral standards and the Catholic Church blessed them. Among their most sacred values were men’s right to rule over women and women’s confinement to the categories of mothers, wives, mistresses, and prostitutes. Prostitution flourished—in brothels and on the streets—10 percent of Havana’s population “served” American military men, civilian sailors, and sex tourists. The biggest growth industry was casinos.

Ordinary Cubans had no rights. The aspirations of even the better-off middle classes and professionals were trampled underfoot by the country’s corrupt, vicious, and tiny ruling class in association with the U.S. monopoly capitalists and their political representatives in Washington.

In 1952, Batista, who had been out of the presidential office for a number of years, returned by way of a coup. The years that followed saw corruption on an even more vast scale, along with increasing anti-government rebellion. An effort to provoke an insurrection in 1953 by a group led by Fidel Castro was followed by intense and bloody repression. Perhaps as many as 20,000 students, workers, and others were murdered. Many others were jailed and tortured. The U.S. supported and backed the Batista regime in this bloody repression. Yet discontent spread and a guerrilla movement led by Castro’s 26th of July Movement gained strength in Cuba’s mountain areas.

On January 1, 1959, Batista fled Cuba along with members of his family and government, taking with him hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from the Cuban people. A week later, Castro and his army rolled victoriously into Havana. After 61 years, the era of U.S. economic and political domination of Cuba, with all its plunder and terror, came to an end. But while Cuba did break from direct U.S. domination, it did not break from the overall grip of imperialism.3

The Criminals

The entire U.S. ruling class for many decades agreed on the need to control and dominate Cuba. President McKinley oversaw seizing of the island in 1898 under the pretext of guaranteeing Cuban sovereignty. The U.S. media whipped up war fever by blaming Spain for the sinking of the battleship Maine, even though they had no real evidence. Theodore Roosevelt, later the U.S. president, commanded a regiment in the invasion force. General Leonard Wood served as the U.S. military governor of Cuba until 1902. Sumner Welles, President Franklin Roosevelt’s special envoy, tried to save the brutal Machado regime and then negotiated Machado’s departure and replacement in 1933. Under President Truman, Batista carried out the coup that brought him to power in 1952. Under President Eisenhower, Cuba became the playground of the U.S. Mafia. Under every president and every U.S. regime from 1898 to 1959, Cuba was an exploited neo-colony of the U.S.

The Alibi

As the defeat of the Spanish colonialists seemed imminent in 1898, the U.S. claimed that the Cuban people were incapable of independent rule because there were too many divisions and conflicts among the anti-colonial forces. There were also outright racist justifications, like a U.S. general who said of the Cuban people, “They are no more capable of self-government than the savages of Africa.”

When the U.S. warship Maine blew up in Havana harbor, the U.S. press, especially that owned by William Randolph Hearst, initiated a fierce PR campaign to blame Spain (the cause of the blast remains inconclusive up to today) and whipped up jingoistic sentiment for military action. The press campaign was an important factor in building support for the U.S. invasion of Cuba in May 1898.

In Washington, politicians played on those sentiments. They claimed the U.S. had no colonial or imperialist ambitions in Cuba, while pontificating about its moral responsibility to come to the aid of the oppressed Cuban victims of Spanish colonialism. At the same time, they promoted and played on racial hatreds and fears that the revolution in Cuba could lead to a dangerous “Negro republic.”

The Actual Motive

The U.S. rulers had their eyes on Cuba at least since the 1820s when Southern slave owners feared that a rebellion of Spain’s slaves, along the lines of the revolution against slavery in Haiti, would be detrimental to the stability of the U.S. slave system. In the 1840s, the U.S. seizure of Mexican territories sparked enthusiasm for further expansion, and some looked then to Cuba.

By the late 1800s, as capitalism further developed in the U.S., monopolies emerged in various industries, as did big banks. They needed new areas to invest large amounts of accumulated wealth (capital). Industries needed access to resources and markets. There was intensifying rivalry among the emerging imperialist powers of the world for control of regions of the globe. The U.S. claimed the Caribbean territories and Latin America as its turf. The weakening of the Spanish empire and the rebellions in Spanish colonies opened opportunities for U.S. imperial expansion.

The seizure of Cuba (and other Spanish colonies—Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines) in the Spanish-American War was not only in order to gorge on the exploited wealth but to prevent rivals from moving in. The U.S. was very explicit about this. The Platt Amendment specifically prohibited any power, other than the U.S., from establishing bases on Cuba. The U.S. also feared that the revolutionaries in Cuba—hundreds of thousands of poor working people, small farmers, the majority of them Black people who had been slaves until the 1880s, and some middle class professionals, and members of the Cuban elite—would defeat Spain and set up an independent country that would be unfavorable to U.S. interests.

The invasion of Cuba and other Spanish territories at the end of the 19th century signaled the emergence of the United States as an imperialist world power. Its successful invasion, domination, and plunder of Cuba was but a glimpse of the immense crimes to come.


Sources

A World to Win News Service: What Future for Cuba Did the Handshake Between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro Herald?Revolution/revcom.us, March 28, 2016

Cuba, A New History, Richard Gott, Yale University Press, 2014

Cuba, Between Reform and Revolution, Louis A. Perez, Oxford University Press, 1995

The Cuban Reader History, Culture, Politics, Aviva Chomsky, Duke University Press, 2003

The War of 1898, Louis A. Perez, University of North Carolina Press, 1998

Wikipedia on Fulgencio Batista, Gerardo Machado, Negro Rebellion

AfroCubaWeb on the 1912 Massacre

Footnotes

1. Following the explosion, the U.S. claimed that Spain used a mine to blow up the Maine. Years later, evidence mounted that the explosion may have been from within the ship, from its boiler room, not from outside. [back]

2. The Platt Amendment contained eight provisions. The key ones were the third, which gave the U.S. the right to intervene in Cuba militarily, and the seventh, which gave the U.S. the right to maintain a base on the island. Because of the seventh provision the U.S. was able to set up a military base at Guantánamo, which it maintains to this day. [back]

3. See “Re-colonization in the Name of Normalization: Behind the Re-Establishment of U.S.-Cuba Diplomatic Relations,” by Raymond Lotta at revcom.us. [back]

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/puerto-rico-major-humanitarian-crisis-in-the-making-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Puerto Rico: Gutted by Imperialism; Slammed by Maria; Abandoned by Trump
A Major Humanitarian Crisis in the Making

September 28, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Thursday, September 28, 2017: The U.S. Territory (that is, colony) of Puerto Rico and its 3.4 million inhabitants are still staggering from the blows of Hurricane Maria that hit eight days ago, on the heels of Irma two weeks before, and on top of a ten-year-long major recession and massive debt crisis caused by U.S. imperialist domination of the Island.

For millions the situation is quite bluntly, desperate, with potential to get much worse. There is almost no electrical power on the Island, other than what can be gotten from emergency generators, which are few and far between to begin with, and for which fuel is almost impossible to find. Even in the capital of San Juan, a children's hospital reported that children on ventilators were in imminent danger of dying because fuel was running out, and things are worse in smaller cities and rural areas.  As of Tuesday, only 11 of Puerto Rico's 69 hospitals had any power. The electrical system is not expected to be restored to the Island for months.

Likewise, communication and transportation systems are shattered, isolating different parts of the Island from each other, and the Island as a whole from the outside world. Almost all telephone landlines and cell phone towers are down, and countless roads have either been destroyed by flooding and mudslides, or are blocked by downed trees or limbs. Even more than a week after the storm hit, there are many parts of the Island that have not been reached or heard from, much less helped.

For the poor (43 percent of Puerto Ricans lives in poverty, and real unemployment may be as high as 40 percent), living in flimsy homes with few reserves, the situation was urgent as soon as the storm struck last Wednesday. A woman who was making $138 a week doing cleaning jobs before the storm, and doesn't expect to find work now at all, told a reporter, "The poor people are hungry. Workers need direct help." (LA Times, September 20, "After Hurricane Maria, 'Puerto Rico isn't going to be the same'").

And as days went by, things got worse. On Saturday, September 23, the mayor of Vega Alta (population 39,000) on the north coast said that a major neighborhood was unreachable, and it included a nursing home where the loss of power was life-threatening. The mayor of Manati (population 44,000) broke down in tears, reporting that the town had run out of food and water. "Hysteria is starting to spread. The hospital is about to collapse. It's at capacity. We need someone to help us immediately." (The Guardian, September 23: "Crisis grows in Puerto Rico as towns without water, power and phone service.") An 80-year-old dam holding back a major reservoir cracked, threatening as many as 70,000 people with flooding.

Even as of Tuesday, September 26, at least 44 percent of Puerto Ricans—1.5 million people—still had no drinkable water. The water system depends on electrical power for both purification and distribution, so no power, no water. And without electric power many are unable to purify unsafe water by boiling, raising the likely spread of diarrheal diseases that endanger children, the elderly and the frail, or even major epidemics like cholera, spreading through contaminated water. The Zika virus, which is spread by mosquitos, is also likely to surge as the insects breed in standing water. And the healthcare system, already overwhelmed, is in no position to handle anything like that.

And where is the aid? Squeezed by its lenders (both large banks, hedge funds and the U.S. government), the Puerto Rican government is effectively bankrupt, with no reserves to launch major aid and reconstruction efforts. PREPA, the government-owned power company is likewise without reserves. PREPA stopped doing even routine maintenance on its ancient system several years ago, and projects it could take them six months to get power fully restored.

The masses of people, as is almost always the case in disasters, have come together to do what they can—clearing roads by hand, carrying sick people to the hospitals, sharing what little food they have. And Puerto Ricans in the diaspora (over four million live in the U.S. alone, due to the economic devastation wreaked on their homeland by the U.S.) have spearheaded emergency fundraising efforts in the U.S. and elsewhere to raise funds, collect food, water and clothes and ship them there.

But a disaster of this scale is obviously far beyond the magnitude of what can be done by these kinds of grass roots efforts. What is needed is massive, urgent, and sustained aid from the U.S. government.

Puerto Rico (like the U.S. Virgin Islands, also decimated by recent storms) is a colony of the United States, which has ruled and enriched itself there for almost 120 years. It is largely responsible for Puerto Rico's (and the Virgin Islands') extreme vulnerability to these storms, and it must be held responsible to provide meaningful aid in this emergency.

For days the U.S. media inferred that this was actually happening, regularly and smugly referring to 2,000 FEMA employees who were on the ground before Maria hit (a number which has now reportedly risen to 10,000) as if things were well in hand. This is a pittance of what is needed for a mountainous country of almost 3,500 square miles which has been completely shattered.

Trump and others also bragged about a few shiploads of food and water that were delivered—about enough for one quart of water for everyone without water ... that's if it was actually distributed, which by all reliable accounts it has not been. In fact, reporters have filmed huge cargo containers, much of it containing aid sent by volunteers, sitting on the tarmac at San Juan airport for days, unopened!

And indeed, six days after the disaster, journalist Julio Ricardo Varela, writing in the Washington Post, quoted a reporter in Puerto Rico that, "I've yet to see a National Guard, FEMA, Red Cross or federal vehicle anywhere on this island." Eyewitnesses in Ponce, the second largest city, likewise report that people are overwhelmingly on their own, trying to help each other with no outside aid or communications. CBS News asked FEMA for the location of water distribution efforts so they could film them—and FEMA refused to provide that!

The U.S. is the richest country in the world, with vast fleets of ships, both military and private; with thousands of helicopters; with a strategic petroleum reserve of nearly 700 million barrels; with millions of employees. As an oppressive and reactionary system, it is incapable of doing what even a much poorer socialist society could do, which would be to immediately mobilize, organize and lead the broadest numbers of people, including professionals, scientists, and ordinary working people, on the Island and the mainland, as well as all available material resources, to meet the most urgent survival needs and to initiate reconstruction, and to do so in a way that actually overcomes existing inequalities between different sections of society, and between (formerly) imperialist and (formerly) colonial countries.

But the U.S. certainly can, and has an absolute responsibility to, immediately deploy the necessary resources to getting emergency aid to everyone on the Island, and providing support for reconstruction of the basic infrastructure, including electricity, water purification and distribution, communications, transportation, food distribution, healthcare and housing, in order to prevent vastly more unnecessary suffering and death than has already happened.

Yet so far, not only has the U.S. completely failed to act on anything like the needed scale—it had refused repeated requests from Puerto Rican leaders to suspend the Jones Act, which requires that only U.S. shipping companies be used to bring cargo to and from Puerto Rico—a major impediment to aid shipments. (The Jones Act was immediately suspended for both Texas and Florida after Harvey and Irma; the refusal to do so for Puerto Rico is another cruel marker of colonial oppression and racist disregard for the lives of the people there.) With growing exposure and outrage around this, Trump finally temporarily waived the Jones Act for Puerto Rico on September 28—for ten days only!

And there are now many reports that FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has taken control of the airport in San Juan and—for reasons that are yet unclear—is blocking dozens of flights of aid being sent by private citizens and groups, as well as obstructing people from leaving the Island. (MSNBC, The Lead with Jake Tapper, September 26, 2017).

Then on top of all this, after being silent about the Puerto Rican crisis for five days (while he poisoned the internet with his fascist attacks on NFL athletes), on September 25, racist-in-chief Donald Trump finally issued a Tweet that amounted to a full-out "Fuck you" to the Puerto Rican people.

Expressing zero sympathy for the suffering of the people, Trump actually blamed Puerto Rico for the disaster. Declaring that "Texas & Florida are doing great" [Note: BULLSHIT!], Trump went on to contrast them with "Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, [and so] is in deep trouble." In another Tweet he said that, "Much of the Island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities—and doing well."

Here Trump is not only lying about the disastrous shortages of "food, water and medical," he is also implying that the indebtedness of Puerto Rico (which again, resulted from U.S. bloodsucking to begin with) makes Puerto Rico a hopeless basket case that can't be helped. And he goes even further by indicating that repaying "billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks" is a priority over saving the lives of the Puerto Rican people.

Hurricane Maria dealt a terrible blow to a nation of people already impoverished and made vulnerable by over a century of U.S. domination, and now the fascist Trump/Pence regime excuses its lack of help by pointing to the poverty of Puerto Rico.  What a (self-) indictment of a heartless, inhuman and destructive system that needs to be swept away as soon as possible in order for humanity to flourish!

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/ice-raids-target-sanctuary-cities-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

ICE Raids Target Sanctuary Cities: 500 Immigrants Arrested in Four Days

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In a four-day period ending Sunday, September 24, the ICE immigration police rounded up nearly 500 immigrants in a number of cities and regions of the country in what they called "Operation Safe City." These raids had nothing to do with making cities "safe." This was the use of federal force by the Trump/Pence regime to deliver a reactionary political threat. Its open intent was to intimidate cities and other jurisdictions that have declared themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants—refusing to subordinate the law to this fascist regime's vicious deportation agenda. And at a time when immigration arrests have risen 43 percent since the Trump/Pence regime took power, these raids further terrorized undocumented immigrants, sending the message that sanctuary cities cannot protect them.

In ICE's own words, "Operation 'Safe City' focused on cities and regions where ICE deportation officers are denied access to jails and prisons... or jurisdictions where ICE detainers are not honored.... Sanctuary jurisdictions that do not honor detainers or allow us access to jails and prisons are shielding criminal aliens from immigration enforcement and creating a magnet for illegal immigration." The "violators" singled out and targeted were New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, Washington, and Baltimore as well as Cook County, Illinois; Santa Clara County in the San Francisco Bay Area; Portland, Oregon; and across Massachusetts.

"Detainers" are orders from ICE for local police to hold people they arrest until federal agents have time to come and take them, regardless of whether the person has a legal right to be released. ICE detainers are not based on probable cause; they are not signed by a judge but in most cases by some ICE agent. They are not reviewed by any court. Several courts have ruled that detaining someone not because of a crime they committed but because another government agency wants to get their hands on them is unconstitutional.

Instilling Fear Among Immigrants

David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the Guardian, "Persecuting cities because they are following the constitution and making sure they don't violate people's rights takes it down to a new level of low... This is all about instilling fear in the immigrant community."

Jon Rodney, with the California Immigrant Policy Center, called these raids part of a "longstanding pattern of scapegoating, criminalizing, and demonizing immigrants." He said that "Trump's deportation force...simply cannot carry out its dirty work without enlisting thousands of local law enforcement agencies."

Only days before ICE's "Safe City" operation was launched, Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General for this regime, spoke in Portland. Over 150 people were outside, condemning his appearance and the message that he was bringing. As Trump does in his Nazi rallies, Sessions attacked anyone opposing the fascist agenda. He stoked racist, anti-immigrant fears based on claims that "pedophiles, rapists, murderers, drug dealers, and arsonists" are supposedly being protected by sanctuary cities—and therefore that sanctuary cities must be "a trafficker, smuggler, or gang member's best friend." To this top representative of the in-justice system under the Trump/Pence regime, sanctuary cities are a part of society's "eroding" discipline and a "disturbing disrespect for the law."

"Operation Mega"

In early September, there were reports that ICE was going to launch "Operation Mega" at the end of September, targeting at least 8,000 undocumented immigrants. An internal document described the plan as "the largest operation of its kind in the history of ICE." ICE later released a statement saying because of the situation with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida, there was no nationwide operation planned at this time. Two weeks later, they launched Operation "Safe City." Whether ICE still plans to implement the "Mega" raids at a later time is unclear. What is certain is that the cruel, unjust attacks on immigrants will continue to escalate as long as this fascist regime is in power. They must be stopped.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/from-the-department-of-useless-harmful-criticism-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

From the Department of Useless, Counter-Productive and Downright Harmful Criticism

September 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Count on the New York Times to criticize a progressive work of art or a broad protest from the so-called left. Such was the case on September 26, when they ran “Protests Start a Dialogue, But About What, Exactly?”

The Times consulted all sorts of people who they only quote for such occasions to run out all kinds of reasons why the taking of a knee by hundreds of football players wasn’t such a much after all.

And, according to the Times at least, they ran the table. “It’s the kind of thing white people who think they’re not white supremacists like to do.” (Really? Seemed that most of the players kneeling were Black, and what would be wrong anyway if more white athletes and fans joined in?) “It takes the focus off police brutality.” (How so? We mean, really, wasn’t that what the original protest was about and what Trump was attacking?) “The NFL is capitalist anyways and these owners are just doing this to protect their investments.” (Uh, yeah—but is it bad that owners and others, like former coach and now-announcer Rex Ryan, who supported Trump now feel for whatever reason that they have to publicly range themselves against the Trump regime on what is clearly an important issue to the fascists?) “This is making the issue the flag and free speech instead of police brutality.” (And? Isn’t the American flag intimately and integrally connected with murder by police and every other aspect of white supremacy in this society? So what is wrong if the flag also becomes part of the fight? And isn’t the right to take political stands something that athletes have had to fight for, at cost to their careers—as Colin Kaepernick, John Carlos or Muhammad Ali show—and something that Trump was directly threatening?) “This is nothing new; and it calls attention away from how white supremacy permeates every aspect of society and has done so for a long time.”

Let’s take that last criticism a little deeper. It’s true—and it isn’t. What’s true is that white supremacy has permeated America from Day One, still permeates America and will continue to permeate America unless and until there is a revolution to bring in a whole new society, a socialist society on the road to the emancipation of ALL humanity.

What is missed though is profound. What these “leftists” all ignore—at least insofar as they are quoted in this article—is that Donald Trump took the stage in Alabama and assumed the persona of a modern-day lynch-mob leader, agitating his followers against what everyone watching knew was “uppity Blacks” (who else was “taking a knee during the anthem”?), and acting out that character with a passion and venom that was all too real. Listen to the second time he says “Fired!”—listen to the venom and hatred oozing out of his voice—and then watch him preen for his audience, if you can keep from barfing. Trump not only sanctions, he acts out and gives leadership to the vilest strands and forces in American society. He is preparing for something. Yes, he is taking what has existed all along—and he is moving it to a new level. It is good—it is imperative—it is absolutely necessary for people to oppose this and keep opposing this. Would silence and acquiescence have been better?

An analogy: anti-Jewish hatred existed in Europe for hundreds of years. And you can read more than one history of the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews where German Jews told themselves that “this was nothing new.” It wasn’t; and it was. And the latter aspect proved horribly more profound.

So with Trump. He’s nothing new; and he IS. What’s new is that there is both a severe escalation of the attacks on the rights and humanity of Black people in every sphere of American life, and there is a logic that ultimately leads to where Hitler’s did.

And here is where we can “agree” with some of the critics. Protesting this outrage is not enough; this must go further. One thing that’s different with this American fascism is that it is still consolidating, still taking form and shape even as it has seized the reins of state power. There is still a brief window of time in which to stop it. But that depends on people who see the threat acting against it—it depends on people seizing the opportunity that’s been posed to come into the streets in mass nonviolent protest on November 4 and to stay in the streets until this regime is history.

We don’t want to see the result if we don’t.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/not-funny-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Not Funny

September 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Staring in the face of the danger of nuclear holocaust brought on by Trump’s reckless threats and equally reckless actions,* Gail Collins of the New York Times wishes that somehow Mike Pence could take the reins of power.

The only response to this is NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! Look, this is a regime. Trump is leading this, but it IS a whole cabal of reactionaries who believe that America needs to deal with its contradictions through a hyper-aggressive and bellicose foreign policy and the extreme suppression of civil and legal rights within the country. It’s not just that Pence won’t eat lunch alone with any woman besides his wife, some kind of standard-issue boring politician with quirks; this is a highly-focused religious fanatic who believes in end-times and the rapture and dreams of America as a “Republic of Gilead,”** who persecuted and jailed a woman in the state he governed, claiming her miscarriage was really a self-induced abortion. He is just as vicious as Trump if not more so.

Political humor can be sharp and biting, revealing the rot behind the mask in a way nothing else can—but it can also be a road to normalizing, to learning to live with the horror, as it is with Collins in this instance. We don’t need narcotics. Only the determined massive action of millions, clearly demanding that the whole regime go, and refusing to get out of the streets until it does, has any chance. And if you are truly worried about the prospect of an all-too-real nuclear Armageddon, as you should be, then be part of that.

 

* Among the most recent U.S. threats and actions: in a September 19 speech at the UN, Trump threatened that he would “totally destroy” North Korea; the U.S. further tightened up economic sanctions on North Korea, which will have devastating effects on the people; the U.S. flew B-1B nuclear-capable bombers and F-15C fighters over waters well north of the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea. [back]

** In the current TV series The Handmaid’s Tale, based on the novel by Margaret Atwood, the Republic of Gilead is a Christian fascist society in which biblical law and patriarchal values—as updated and interpreted by the new rulers—are increasingly imposed. [back]

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/there-is-no-shortcut-through-2018-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

There Is No Shortcut Through 2018—This Regime Must Be Driven from Power!

September 27, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

If you hate this regime, if you fear its destruction, but you are pinning your hopes on the 2018 elections, there are two articles in the Tuesday, September 26, New York Times you need to read.

The first, “Wisconsin Strict ID Law Discouraged Voters, Study Finds,” makes clear that Republican laws to suppress the vote of Black people, the poor, immigrants and the young are doing just that—holding down the vote enough so that some elections (including the 2016 one in Wisconsin) have probably been decided by the practice.

The second, by Michelle Goldberg, “Tyranny of the Minority,” points out that due to the laws of this country, rooted in and going back to slavery and now strengthened by the Republi-fascists, while the Democrats took over 55 percent nationwide of all the votes for the House of Representatives, Republicans actually hold a nearly 40-seat majority! As for 2020, should there still be a planet at that point, the Republicans could lose the popular vote by five million and still win the presidency.

Leaving aside a longer though important debate about the role of elections in capitalism, the point here for now is this: There is no easy, cut-rate way out of this nightmare. But there IS a way. There is November 4, and the prospect of thousands and then millions taking the streets in a sustained way, creating a political crisis which then can force the Trump/Pence regime from power. That will take YOU to do; but it is possible and it is more than worth it.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/check-it-out-nick-cannon-stand-4-what-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Check It Out:
Nick Cannon: “Stand 4 What?”

October 2, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

I am writing to encourage Revolution/revcom.us readers to check out Nick Cannon’s new song and video, “Stand 4 What?” Just a few weeks ago, the rapper/actor marched with protesters in St. Louis, Missouri, after a judge acquitted the cop who murdered Anthony Lamar Smith.

“Stand 4 What?” asks the question of why Black people should stand for the national anthem. The video is laced with images of oppression, showing the degrading and brutal treatment of Black people from the days of slavery, to Jim Crow and the present-day reality of one murder by police after another with the killer pigs walking free. I do disagree with Nick when he says, “I honor and respect our men and women of service…” The U.S. military is an armed force of brutal conquest and murders around the world, and the real heroes are the resisters who refuse to fight for them. But go online, give this song a listen and share it with others. It is powerful, an example of resistance that is much needed in art and culture. Here is a small sample of some of the lyrics:

Stand for what? You want me to stand for a song that continues to remind me of all the harms that done us wrong?... Stand for what? For your army that none of our sons truly belong?... Stand for what? Your forefathers who were really just pimps?... That’s how you wanna treat em? Slave masters, whips, and cops’ night sticks, that’s how you continue to beat em… Because I’ll say it as loud as you can see, Fuck Francis Scott Key and General Robert E. Lee. They don’t represent me and neither do either of these hypocritical political parties… Stand for what? I ain’t standing for shit except Kaepernick.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/465/other-voices-on-trump-resistance-en.html#rogwaters

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017


Warning: file_get_contents(../a/465/other-voices-on-trump-resistance-en.html#rogwaters): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/revweb/public_html/quick/511en.php on line 157

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/509/days-and-nights-of-protest-for-anthony-lamar-smith-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Days and Nights of Protest After St. Louis Judge Acquits Pig Who Murdered
Anthony Lamar Smith
THIS is What Justice Looks Like in America

Updated September 19, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Tuesday, September 19: Monday night marked the fourth day and night in a row that people of all ages and nationalities have taken to the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, condemning and refusing to accept the “not guilty” verdict handed down by a judge for the cop who murdered Anthony Lamar Smith in December 2011. Yet another pig has gotten away with cold-blooded murder of a Black man.

On Friday night, the police used pepper spray on protesters, arresting 33. The National Guard had been put on alert before the judge’s verdict was announced but were not called in. On Saturday, protesters mobilized for noisy marches through suburban malls chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “It’s our duty to fight for our freedom,” spreading the movement to wider communities. At one point the marchers were joined by Nick Cannon―rapper, actor, director, comedian, and television personality. And a mass rally was held Saturday night. On Sunday, 1,000 people mobilized in front of the St. Louis Police Department, lined up in rows from block to block, and then held a die-in. From there they went to Saint Louis University and marched through the campus.

The police have gotten more vicious each night as protesters have refused to go home, or to let up. On Sunday evening 123 people were arrested after the police claim they ignored an order to disperse. The police used a technique called “kettling,” blocking exits and arresting people en masse. Dozens of residents, journalists, legal observers and protesters trying to leave were arrested. One of the reporters arrested said he was pepper sprayed in the face while a pig’s foot held his head to ground.

The police were recorded on social media that night, perversely using a chant stolen from the protesters: “Whose streets, OUR streets.” Following the mass arrests, the St. Louis police chief reiterated the message his goons had just delivered, making clear who really has state power under this system: “The city of St. Louis is safe and the police own the night.... We're in control. This is our city and we're going to protect it."

This is what “justice” looks like in the eyes of this utterly unjust system in AmeriKKKa!

On Monday morning, Black and white students at three high schools in the area walked out to hold protest rallies to condemn the verdict. Later on, 1,000 people gathered outside the St. Louis jail where people had been arrested the night before. Activists had been raising money and working all day to get them out. Hundreds stayed out there at the jail in support Monday night in the rain. 

St. Louis is just 10 miles away from Ferguson, where Michael Brown’s murder by police in 2014 was met by an uprising of the people who refused to back down, sending shock waves around the country and beyond. This and the rebellions following other police murders have forced people of all nationalities to face the ugly reality that when police murder Black, Latino, Native American, and other oppressed people, they are doing their job—and that’s why they are almost never punished.

A professor from Washington University in St. Louis, in a piece at CNN.com, wrote: “The pain and grievances of so many lost since Michael Brown has me and others like me, who didn't protest Ferguson, in the streets. I didn't speak out back then, but this time—after the acquittal in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith—I join others in protesting in support of our shared humanity.”

A woman who took part in a silent march of 100 to City Hall on Monday morning, led by clergy and political leaders, told NPR in St. Louis that she didn’t protest after Michael Brown’s death, but now her six-year-old daughter goes to an African-American school and she sees things differently. “I'm acutely aware of our white privilege every day and I need to put that to work. I need to do better for my kids. I'm afraid of institutional racism; I'm afraid of them having their black friends killed on the streets.” A group of four women on the same march carried signs saying “White moms for black lives.”

The Cold-Blooded, Premeditated Execution of Anthony Lamar Smith

Anthony Lamar Smith was approached by two pigs who claimed they had seen a “drug deal.” Smith took off in his car and the pigs chased him down. Along the way, Stockley told his partner: “I’m going to kill this motherfucker, don’t you know it!” One minute later Smith was murdered. The pigs slammed into Smith’s car, Stockley got out, walked right up to the car, and fired five shots through the driver’s window into Anthony Lamar Smith. One of them—the “kill shot”—was fired from six inches away. This was a police execution.

Stockley was not done yet. When he discovered that Smith had no gun, he did what cops do all the time: He went to his pig car; dug through his duffle bag for a “throw-down” gun; and planted that gun in the car next to the body. All of this evidence was recorded and is available online, including the fact that the weapon had none of Anthony’s DNA on it—but it did have the DNA of the pig!

In a sign of how blatant this murder was, five days before the verdict, the Ethical Society of Police, an organization of “officers of color” in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, issued a video statement of their findings that called for Stockley to be convicted. “He wasn’t defending himself in the line of duty,” said the Society's president. This statement was issued jointly with the President of the National Coalition of Law Enforcement Officers for Justice, Reform and Accountability.

But none of this mattered to the judge. In fact, in the court ruling he wrote, “Finally, the Court observes, based on its nearly thirty years on the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.” Here the judge violated his own rule of law: claiming that regardless of the facts in this case, that the only gun found in this murder had been planted by the cop, it could be assumed that this “urban heroin dealer” was armed.

Why does this happen over and over and over again? Because, as Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, says in BAsics 1:24: “The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.”

Enough with this system that needs to have pigs gun down Black and Brown people by the hundreds each year. Enough with police getting away with murder!

 

 

Hundreds and hundreds of people marching in St. Louis Friday after the judge released his verdict.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/michael-slate-interview-with-scientist-michael-mann-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Michael Slate Interview with Scientist Michael Mann:
The Links Between Climate Change and More Destructive Storms, Worse Droughts and Floods, and Other Extreme Weather

September 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is an edited transcript from a September 22, 2017 interview on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK radio, with Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science and the director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University. He coauthored, with the Washington Post cartoonist Tom Toles, The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics and Driving Us Crazy.

The Michael Slate Show airs every week at 10 am Pacific Time on KPFK, 90.7 FM, a Pacifica Network station in Los Angeles. The show can also be streamed live and people can listen to or download archived shows.

Revcom.us/Revolution newspaper features interviews from The Michael Slate Show to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports, and politics. The views expressed by those interviewed are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere by revcom.us/Revolution.

~~~~~~~~~

Michael Slate: It's always good to talk with you. Let's start off with the big question. How do things stand right now? How bad is it?

Michael Mann: As I've often said recently, the impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We are seeing them play out in real time. Here on the East Coast, of course, we have seen two unprecedented storms: Harvey, which was the most flood-producing hurricane on record here in the United States. And of course, Irma, which devastated the Caribbean islands, Key West, Florida, led to massive flooding along the Florida coast. It was the strongest storm as measured by peak wind speeds ever in the open Atlantic. So let's take stock. Over the last two years or so, when global sea surface temperatures have been at an all-time high, the warmest on record, we have seen the strongest hurricane globally, Patricia in the Pacific a couple years ago. We have seen the strongest hurricane in both the northern and the southern hemispheres. In the southern hemisphere we had Winston, which struck Fiji, the strongest hurricane ever observed in the southern hemisphere, the strongest hurricane in the Pacific, and now with Irma, the strongest hurricane ever in the open Atlantic.

As we continue to warm surface temperatures, this is one of the easiest things to predict. Because it's basically just the laws of thermodynamics. And they tell us that as you warm the ocean's surface, you're going to get stronger storms, stronger hurricanes. The strongest hurricanes will get stronger, and you will see more flooding because there's more moisture in the air when the air is warmer. And we saw that. That's what contributed to the record flooding in Harvey.

So, we long predicted that this would be the case, and now we're seeing it. And as we here in the East Coast are dealing with these devastating storms—and there's another one brewing, as your listeners might know, Maria, which is now about to strike several of the Leeward Islands. The same islands that suffered through Irma are now going to get hit again by a hurricane that is intensifying very quickly. And the warmer the ocean temperatures, the faster these storms intensify, and we're seeing it once again.

While all of this is happening here in the East, of course you folks out west have been suffering through record heat and a record wildfire season. Let me say it again. The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle. We are now seeing them. They are making extreme events even more extreme. And whether we're talking about hurricanes, or droughts, or floods, or wildfires, we're now seeing this stuff.

Michael Slate: You once said that climate change has changed the fabric within which all weather now occurs. Let's talk about that.

Michael Mann: Yeah. The atmosphere on average, the surface of the earth, the lower atmosphere, is more than a degree Fahrenheit warmer than it was a century ago, in fact, roughly a degree Celsius, almost a degree and a half Fahrenheit warmer than it was. Basic thermodynamics tells us that that means there's probably somewhere between 5, 6, 7 percent more moisture in the atmosphere. And that means there is more moisture available to be turned into record precipitation, whether it's rainfall, flooding rains in these hurricanes, and the many thousand-year rainfall events we've seen around the country over the last couple of years, events that shouldn't happen on their own, due to chance alone, more than once in a thousand years. And we're seeing lots of these events, because we're literally loading the random dice of weather towards more of these events. It's very basic physics. It's basic thermodynamics that tells us that a warmer atmosphere has more moisture. That means you get more floods, and there's more energy in the atmosphere to intensify tropical storms, or to give us these record Nor'easters we've seen on the East Coast.

Seemingly paradoxical, but it's not, is the fact that warmer winters, where it's still cold enough to snow, and on the East Coast of the U.S., Washington, DC, through New England, it's still going to be cold enough to snow in the winter, and because the winters are warmer there's more moisture in the atmosphere. That moisture can feed these massive storms known as Nor'easters that form along the Northeast Coast and themselves have very damaging winds associated with them, but they produce record snowfalls as well. So yes, record snowfall doesn't disprove climate change. It's actually consistent with what we expect. We expect a shorter season where the ground is covered with snow, but individual snowfall events, we expect them to become more intense. And these Nor'easters, like hurricanes, we expect them to become more intense because there's more warmth, there's more moisture in the atmosphere, and that moisture is what provides the energy to intensify those storms.

Michael Slate: Is that the whole story about why these storms today seem to grow much bigger and much stronger than people have ever seen?

Michael Mann: Yeah. It's actually not rocket science. Warmer temperatures, more moisture in the atmosphere mean more fuel for strengthening these storms. And we're seeing it. In fact, there's an article that appeared in Nature a few years ago that estimated from observation—this isn't theoretical, this is actually from the observations—we can see an increase of about 10 miles per hour in the peak wind speeds of the strongest hurricanes with each degree Fahrenheit of warming. That amounts to roughly a seven percent increase in wind speeds. That might not sound so bad, but guess what? The destructive potential of a hurricane is proportional to the third power of the wind. So that seven percent increase in wind speed leads to a 20 percent increase in destructive potential. That's not subtle. That sort of increase, you can see it happening. And we are seeing it happening.

Michael Slate: Now, you've also said that almost all of the strongest hurricanes on record have occurred over the past two years. What is it about the past two years that actually seems to have concentrated a lot of this?

Michael Mann: We've seen record global temperatures for the past few years. There was a period of time during which the contrarians, the climate change deniers, made a lot of hay out of this supposed hiatus or pause. There wasn't a pause in global warming, but we had a sustained period of El Niños and La Niñas—these are natural climate events that impact weather around the world. And an El Niño year tends to be warmer than average. A La Niña year tends to be colder than average. And we had a number of La Niña years in a row. We sort of had a decade-long period where we were in La Niña conditions much of the time, and that actually combined with some small natural factors, volcanic activity, small variations in the output of the sun—all these natural factors sort of conspired to offset some of global warming, over the period of the better part of a decade. But those natural factors swing one direction at one time, and then they swing in the other direction at another time, and they're temporary. It was a temporary reprieve from the ongoing warming of the climate. And now that those natural factors have subsided, we're now seeing that we're still, as we always were, very much on this course of a rate of warming right now that is about two degrees Celsius, more than three degrees Fahrenheit, warming per century. That is the trajectory that we are on right now.

Michael Slate: Let's look at the sea level rise and how it's threatening human society and the planet.

Michael Mann: Absolutely. That's another one of those factors. People can debate the details of the various processes involved in the intensification of these tropical storms, and which of those processes might have been impacted by climate change, but here's something that we can't debate, the fact that global sea level has risen more than half a foot over the past century. In some areas like New York City, it's close to a foot. We've seen the veritable tip of the iceberg. We're starting to see global sea levels bend upward and we know there's a lot more to come as we start to melt the major ice sheets, which are going to be the major contributors to ongoing sea level rise.

So regardless of what else might have been impacted by climate change, Superstorm Sandy, one foot of that 13-foot storm surge was due to global sea level rise. That added a foot to the size of that storm surge that struck Battery Park, New York, that struck the Jersey coastline. I grew up going to the Jersey coast with my grandparents. And that may sound like a small amount of sea level rise, one foot. Actually it meant 25 more square miles of coastal flooding and billions of dollars of additional damage that was done. And that's just one foot.

Now, if we continue on the course that we're on, the science is now fairly clear on this. By the end of this century, we're probably talking about six feet, six feet of global sea level rise at least. If we continue, again, with business as usual and we don't abate ongoing burning of fossil fuels, then you can see what one foot has already done. We're seeing the inundation of low-lying island nations. Bangladesh has suffered through record flooding. It's impacted both by sea level rise and potentially more rainfall that now comes with the monsoons, because that atmosphere is warmer and holds more moisture.

And of course, with Harvey, now the Gulf Coast, with sea level rise, in that region sea level rise has been a little less. It's been about a half a foot. But that means that storm surge associated with Harvey was at least half a foot higher than it otherwise would have been. And that led, once again, to a lot more flooding. Now, if we truly stay on the course we're on, and we have six feet plus of sea level rise by the end of the century, then we're starting to talk about literally retreating from the major coastal cities of the world. It would be a massive upheaval. You can imagine the conflict that would come as we have to relocate 25 percent of the world's population over a timescale of just decades. So in a worst-case scenario we're talking about calamitous changes, calamitous impacts. The good news is that we still have time to choose a different path.

Michael Slate: We're talking about how the storms today have grown much bigger and much stronger and you use the phrase, "Global warming is juicing storms." And the effect that global warming has on extreme weather, making storms like Irma and Harvey even more dangerous and more likely than it ever would have been in other times."

Michael Mann: Yeah, absolutely. Warmer temperatures mean more energy to strengthen these storms. Warmer temperatures in the summer when you don't have rainfall in subtropical regions, in mid-latitude regions that see relatively little rainfall, and where you can have sinking dry air in the summer, well those warmer temperatures evaporate what moisture you do have in the soil even faster, and you get worsened droughts. California suffered through what we have reason to believe now was their worst drought in at least 1,200 years. So it's making the droughts worse. You have more heat extremes, more drought so drier soils. That comes together and you get the sort of record wildfires that we're seeing this season. This is the worst fire season out West on record. Not a mystery. Why? It's been drier, and it's getting hotter. And the forests are weakened, ironically, by pests like pine bark beetles that can live through the increasingly warm winters. So the forests had been weakened by these pests that in part have prospered as winters have warmed up and that creates much more fuel for these fires when they do happen in the summer.

Michael Slate: What about the situation where Hurricane Harvey actually was stalled over Texas with 50 inches of rain, causing all kinds of disastrous flooding?

Michael Mann: That's an important thing to understand about Harvey. A substantial part of why we saw that record flooding, more than four feet in some parts of Houston, was because of the stalled nature of that weather system. It just stayed in place. And when weather systems stay in place, that's when you start to get extremes. You get extreme droughts when the same location is being baked by the sun day after day. You get extreme heat waves under those circumstances. You get extreme flooding when storms stay parked over the same place day after day. And this is where the connections become a little more tenuous. There is an emerging body of research, and we've published on this ourselves, that suggests that as we warm the planet, and in particular, the Arctic warms even faster, because as the ice melts, the earth's surface, the Arctic Ocean, can absorb more of the incoming sunlight when there isn't ice on top of it, so it warms even faster. This in part leads to what's known as "Arctic amplification," where warming is even greater as you go north towards the Arctic.

As you change that pattern of how temperatures vary from the tropics to the polar regions, it turns out that that pattern of variations is actually what controls the jet stream. The jet stream owes its existence to changes in temperature with latitude, and changes in temperature with height in the atmosphere. So as you start to change those temperature patterns, you can change the jet stream. And as you weaken the contrast between the equator and pole, which is what happens when you warm the poles a lot more than the tropics, you decrease the contrast, you decrease the difference in temperature between the warm tropics and the cold polar region. And as you reduce that contrast, that tends to weaken the jet stream.

What's also true is that climate change tends to shift the jet stream poleward. So, for example with Harvey, we had this very large, blocking high pressure, this ridge over the southern United States. The jet stream had been pushed way up to the north. That is consistent with what climate model projection says that we're going to tend to see the jet stream in the summer pushed further north. And there weren't these troughs associated with the jet stream there to come through and sort of take Harvey away and take it east toward the Atlantic Ocean.

So we can't say with certainty that those mechanisms were responsible for the specific behavior of Harvey. But we can say that climate change is creating conditions in terms of the behavior of the jet stream and the weakened nature of the jet stream and the poleward migration of the jet stream, is favoring the sorts of conditions that we saw with Harvey, where these systems can stay stalled.

We saw that with Irene, back in 2011. It was a devastating hurricane that produced record flooding in Pennsylvania and up through New England. It was only a tropical storm when it struck the New Jersey coast. But sea surface temperatures off the East Coast were unusually high at that time. That meant there was more moisture in the air and there was more moisture to turn into record flooding. So we see this theme repeating itself over and over again.

Michael Slate: What is the role of human-induced climate change in all the events we've been talking about, in terms of both these things happening and in terms of the worsening of it all?

Michael Mann: Yeah, absolutely. There are certain things that are iron-clad. You don't even have to talk about them probabilistically, statistically. We can just say, sea level rise means that these storm surges are bigger. Full stop. That's a very direct causal connection. More moisture in the atmosphere, greater intensity because of warmer sea surface temperatures. Those are statistical relationships. On average we expect storms to be stronger and for there to be more moisture because ocean temperatures are warmer. In any one case, of course, the vagaries of weather come into play, and just how any one weather event evolves depends on a number of factors, some of which are random. But the way to think about this, once again, is like dice. We're loading the dice so that the sixes are coming up much more often than they should. The "sixes" can take the form of unprecedented superstorms, unprecedented droughts, floods, heat waves. These things are happening significantly more often than we would expect in the absence of our warming of the planet, and the change in climate that we are causing.

In the same sense that the tobacco industry was found guilty of hiding health impacts of their product—their product was killing people. We can't prove that any one person who smoked cigarettes for 20 years and died of lung cancer—we can't prove that they wouldn't have died of lung cancer anyway. That's possible. But we can step back and look at the fact that 10 times as many died than should have and that smoking cigarettes increased the likelihood of you getting lung cancer by a factor of more than ten.

We say that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer. We're comfortable saying that, even though it's a statistical linkage. We should be equally comfortable in saying that warming the planet with greenhouse gases leads to more destructive storms, worse droughts, worse floods, and that's exactly what we're seeing.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/earths-sixth-mass-extinction-more-severe-than-thought-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Is More Severe Than Previously Thought—
Only Through Revolution Can It Possibly Be Stopped

September 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

A recent study by scientists from the Instituto de Ecología at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and the Department of Biology at Stanford University shows that Earth’s sixth mass extinction is more severe than previously thought.

Extinction of species over long periods of time is something that has happened constantly over the course of the history of life on Earth, as fossil records show. A mass extinction is when there is a big increase in the extinction of species of various types in more than one geographical area over a relatively short period of geological time—which doesn’t mean years or hundreds of years but is relatively brief compared with the estimated 3.8 billion year history of life on Earth.

The first five mass extinctions were all caused by natural phenomena, such as the asteroid strike that is thought to have led to the extinction of all dinosaurs and other species.1 Many scientists have been warning that the greatly heightened level of extinctions currently is of crisis proportions and that we are approaching, or are already in, the sixth mass extinction. Unlike the previous ones, this extinction is not due to natural causes but is being driven by human activity—by climate change caused in large part by the capitalist-imperialist system’s burning of fossil fuels, cutting down of rain forests, and other ways that natural habitats are being destroyed: acidification of oceans... and other interrelated and interacting factors.

The study, by Gerardo Ceballosa, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Rodolfo Dirzob,2 provides the scientific data backing their statement that the “Earth is experiencing a huge episode of population declines and extirpations, which will have negative cascading consequences on ecosystem functioning and services vital to sustaining civilization.” The scientists describe this as a “biological annihilation.” The study states that the causes for the “catastrophic declines” in vertebrate (a major taxonomic group of animals that includes mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fishes) species are due to “habitat loss, overexploitation, invasive organisms, pollution, toxification, and more recently climate disruption, as well as the interactions among these factors.”

Cheetahs, Borneo and Sumatran orangutans, African lions, and giraffes are examples of species of mammals that were relatively safe one or two decades ago but are now considered as endangered.

The scientists’ research shows that almost 200 species of vertebrates have gone extinct in the last 100 years. Under the “normal” extinction rate for the past two million years, it would have taken 10,000 years for 200 species of vertebrates to become extinct—so this makes clear the accelerating pace of extinctions. The scientists also point out that 41 percent of the 3,623 land invertebrate species and 25 percent of the 1,306 marine invertebrate species have been classified as threatened with extinction. One-third of the 27,000 vertebrate species examined “are experiencing declines and local population losses of a considerable magnitude.”

It is the mass decline of biological populations that is the most important finding in this report. The scientists point out those previous reports on the coming sixth mass extinction had a strong focus on species extinction. They say this does not address the seriousness of the problem that is posed when looking at both mass species extinction and the mass decline of geographical species populations.

There is a difference between the two—species and populations. A species is often defined as a group of individuals that actually or potentially interbreed in nature. In this sense, a species is the biggest gene pool possible under natural conditions. (A gene pool is all the genes in a population. Any genes that could wind up in the same individual through sexual reproduction are in the same gene pool.) A population is a group of living organisms that are found in a specific area and can reproduce with each other to give a fertile offspring. (For a further discussion of speciation and populations, read Chapter 1 of The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism by Ardea Skybreak.)

The report notes that looking only at species extinction is a problem because:

...that conveys a common impression that Earth’s biota is not dramatically threatened, or is just slowly entering an episode of major biodiversity loss that need not generate deep concern now. Thus, there might be sufficient time to address the decay of biodiversity later, or to develop technologies for “deextinction”—the possibility of the latter being an especially dangerous misimpression. Specifically, this approach has led to the neglect of two critical aspects of the present extinction episode: (i) the disappearance of populations, which essentially always precedes species extinctions, and (ii) the rapid decrease in numbers of individuals within some of the remaining populations.

These population extinctions of today are vastly greater than species extinctions. The scientists point out that “population extinctions are a prelude to species extinctions, so Earth’s sixth mass extinction episode has proceeded further than most assume.” This is causing damage to ecosystems that endanger things that are essential to human life, e.g., food, water, flood and disease control, and production of atmospheric oxygen.

The report concludes:

When considering this frightening assault on the foundations of human civilization, one must never forget that Earth’s capacity to support life, including human life, has been shaped by life....The sixth mass extinction is already here and the window for effective action is very short, probably two or three decades at most. All signs point to ever more powerful assaults on biodiversity in the next two decades, painting a dismal picture of the future of life, including human life.

A Shortcoming of the Report—and the Need to Get to the Real Root of the Problem

A problem with the report is in the solutions provided. The scientists say that if there is to be a chance to mitigate the extinctions and the threat to humanity, what need to be addressed urgently are human overpopulation and overconsumption, especially by the rich. They fail to address the other factors raised in the report—habitat loss, overuse of resources, invasive organisms, pollution, toxification, and climate change. In other words, the ecological and environmental crisis facing humanity because of the way the current system, capitalism-imperialism, is organized and operates.

The largest threat to the planet and its biodiversity is not the number of humans on the planet or overconsumption. The fact is, while especially the richest one percent on this planet consume and use up resources at gross levels, there are billions who have almost nothing to consume—who are literally starving, possess nothing, have very little access to any resources, etc. That situation is due to the way the current system, capitalism-imperialism, is organized and operates. And that system—based on the blind drive to maximize profit, whatever the cost to human lives and the environment—is also what is creating an environmental and biological catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

Fossil fuel energy, which capitalism is hooked on, is acidifying and warming the oceans. Just think about the horrible destructive forces of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, driven by the super-heated waters in the Gulf and the Caribbean and other factors due to global warming. Think about the massive deforestation in the Amazon and Indonesian jungles by capitalist-imperialist enterprises for large industrial cattle farming and growing crops.

An article in the Independent in August 2017, “Industrial farming is driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, says leading academic,” cites the work of Professor Raj Patel of the University of Texas. Patel states, “The footprint of global agriculture is vast. Industrial agriculture is absolutely responsible for driving deforestation, absolutely responsible for pushing industrial monoculture, and that means it is responsible for species loss. We’re losing species we have never heard of, those we’ve yet to put a name to and industrial agriculture is very much at the spear-tip of that.”

There are objective material reasons why this is happening. Capitalist-imperialist enterprises are very highly organized in producing goods and in harvesting food. All of these enterprises are privately owned while they are in fierce competition with each other in order to expand, control resources, and then turn that into profit. It’s a dog-eat-dog competition between them—either expand, while eating up other capitalist enterprises, or face being eaten up yourself.

These privately owned capitalist enterprises are faced with this deep contradiction—production is highly organized on a certain level (and on a globalized scale), while the competition they face forces them to carry out their production in a completely anarchic and irrational way in order to survive. The deeper scientific understanding of the contradiction between “anarchy” and “organization”—and how anarchy is the “principal form of motion” of capitalism and its fundamental contractions—is an important breakthrough brought forward by Bob Avakian (BA), as part of the new synthesis that has put communism on an even more scientific foundation. For more on this, see BA’s THE NEW COMMUNISM, in particular the section “The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism.” Also, the revcom.us article by Raymond Lotta, “On the ‘Driving Force of Anarchy’ and the Dynamics of Change. A Sharp Debate and Urgent Polemic: The Struggle for a Radically Different World and the Struggle for a Scientific Approach to Reality.”

A Real Answer to the Question: “Will Human Survive the Sixth Great Extinction?”

In a 2015 National Geographic interview with Elizabeth Kolbert, the author of The Sixth Extinction, science journalist Nadia Drake raised the question “will humans survive the sixth great extinction?” Kolbert told Drake that there are actually two questions: One is whether, even if we save an X number of species, we can “keep going down the same trajectory, or do we eventually imperil the systems that keep people alive?” And two, “Even if we can survive, is that the world you want to live in? Is that the world you want all future generations of humans to live in?”

These are important questions. And there are real answers.

As the special Revolution issue on the environment made clear:

The only viable way to deal with the crisis of the environment is revolution. The recent message and call from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, The Revolution We Need…The Leadership We Have, puts it this way: “It is this system that has got us in the situation we’re in today, and keeps us there. And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much better system into being. The ultimate goal of this revolution is communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.

I encourage people to get into the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by Bob Avakian, to see how the society after revolution will function in all aspects, including the approach to dealing with the environmental emergency humanity is facing:

[T]he New Socialist Republic in North America, in its development of a socialist economy, in all spheres of government and social activity, and in its international relations, will apply itself—an the initiative, knowledge, energy and creativity of the masses of people who make up the backbone of this Republic—to addressing this environmental emergency, in its various dimensions, and will seek out ways to do so through increasing cooperation and common endeavor with scientists, and people from all walks of life, in every part of the world, struggling and joining with others in struggle to overcome barriers that are placed in the way of such efforts by the operation of the capitalist-imperialist system and the functioning of imperialist and other reactionary states.

Further:

One of the distinguishing features of the New Socialist Republic in North America is its determination to apply the principles set forth ... by the Revolutionary Communist Party [in Revolution’s Special Issue on the Environment]—and what has been learned since, with further developments with regard to the environmental crisis and in the world more generally—in order to contribute all it can to solving the environmental crisis and, to the greatest degree possible, reversing its terrible and manifold effects, and to ushering in a new era in which human beings and their society can truly be fit caretakers of the earth.


Notes:

1. The five previous mass extinctions were:

a. 360 million years ago: A prolonged climate change event, hitting life in shallow seas very hard, killed 70% of species, including almost all corals.

b. 250 million years ago: The big one—more than 95% of species perished, including trilobites and giant insects–strongly linked to massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia that caused a savage episode of global warming.

c. 200 million years ago: Three-quarters of species were lost, again most likely due to another huge outburst of volcanism.

d. 65 million years ago: After a giant asteroid impact on Mexico and large volcanic eruptions in what is now India; involved the end of the dinosaurs and ammonites among other species.

e. 3 million years ago: A severe ice age led to sea level falling by 100 meters, wiping out 60-70% of all species which were primarily ocean dwellers at the time. [back]

2. “Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines,” published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [back]

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/beautiful-in-midst-of-tragedy-of-earthquake-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Something Beautiful Born in the Midst of the Tragedy of the Earthquake

October 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is a translation of an article, originally in Spanish, that appeared on the blog of Aurora Roja, voice of the Organización Comunista Revolucionaria, México.

From something horrible can be born something beautiful for the good of humanity. This is what happened in relation to the September 19 earthquake in Mexico City, whose devastation was greatly increased by the crimes of the current system (see "Mexico: The Earthquakes and the Fissures in the Criminal System"). Thousands of people mobilized, especially young people, to places where there were collapsed buildings, to remove debris with their hands, buckets and a few tools. They collaborated in long lines where pieces of concrete or buckets filled with rubble were passing from the ruined buildings while others went through some holes to rescue people trapped still alive or unfortunately some already lifeless.

Faced with tragedy, the relations of the invested pursuit of money, sale, profits, "to see what I get for myself," so characteristic of the current mainly capitalist system, were suspended in part and for a time. Many thousands of young people and others gave themselves fully to the rescue efforts without seeking any advantage of their own, motivated only by the desire to rescue and support people trapped or left homeless. This represents some shoots of communism, although communism may have been the furthest thing from the thinking of the participants at the time. For it will be precisely in the future world society without classes that the relations ruled by money, commodities, profits, "me first and fuck everybody else," as well as all the exploitation and oppression that this entails, will finally be left behind, and humanity will work collectively for the common good (as many thousands began to do for a time in the rescue efforts), according to the principle: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their need."

The young people came from universities and schools, from different downtown and well-to-do neighborhoods, as well as from the neighborhoods of the poor and masses of the city, and from the shanty towns in the State of Mexico. A large number of people came to donate food or tools, with others receiving, organizing and sending it all to the brigades or to the victims. A young woman, interviewed by Aurora Roja next to a collapsed building near Parque de los Venados on September 20, told us: "I went to the store. I bought bread, ham and so on. I started to make tortas [a kind of sandwich]; I threw them into the bucket and I came to distribute them to the people who are helping in this place. So I thought I could help. Yesterday I did it, until tonight today." She continued to offer water and tortas for free. In this same place, a young man told us: "I am from Chile. I have been living in Mexico for two years. I'm expecting to spend the night with all these people to remove debris. Yesterday I was helping in the same way in other places. In Chile I experienced the 9.1 earthquake. It was terrible! I know what this is about and here I am." Others passed by offering hot coffee and bread to a line of dozens of people waiting their turn to relieve those who were "inside," removing debris.

In the days after the earthquake, hundreds of young people joined together and collaborated in the collection center of the Olympic Stadium of Ciudad Universitaria [main campus] of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Lines of them passed the different provisions or tools from hand to hand, with some others with a wheelbarrow carrying the heaviest packages. Others prepared food or distributed it to those who were there doing all this solidarity work. Many sought to be part of the relief brigades that were being formed to be sent to disaster areas, with some basic training.

When we joined the work there, we talked with a motorcyclist, who commented: "We come with our motorbikes to help. Here the brigades are formed up. Relying on the motorbike, we are assigned to go to the places that they tell us and pick up doctors and take them to the places where they are urgently needed, or we do the same with engineers, architects, rescuers or pick up and take medicines, and with the motorbike we move fast. That's why you see so many motorbikes here, and this is how we help."

A couple of young people also told us: "We could not help immediately after the earthquake, but as soon as we got freed up, we went to where the collapsed buildings were. In some places we were able to help. In other places it was more difficult, because the police and the army arrived and told us to leave, saying that help was no longer needed or they just started to prevent people from entering. I think that perhaps they already want to put the machinery in, and a lot of people are starting to think that's what is going on, that maybe that's why the army and the police are starting to arrive. This is wrong, if there are still people trapped, you have to help rescue them."

In fact this has happened in several cases, either using heavy machinery before rescuing all the people or simply the state locking down control of the situation from above in response to the mass independent mobilization of the people. For example, in the building at Álvaro Obregón number 286 in the La Roma neighborhood, only the angry protest of relatives of the victims prevented them from using heavy machinery while there was still a chance to find and rescue people. And the relatives still have spent days waiting for their loved ones to be rescued. The authorities lie to them, they hide from them that they have rescued bodies, deny them information, and try to isolate them from the press. Faced with this situation, relatives have become enraged, closing streets along with others and taking other actions to pressure the authorities to even give them information. On Monday, September 25, when they called out the authorities, they shouted, among other things, "Turn them over now, a lot of days have gone by; if it's possible that they are alive, you are taking their life away! Neither the Army nor the Navy has done fucking anything! Let the rescuers come in!" (Proceso magazine, No. 2135, September 30, 2017) In another case, among several others, documented with videos, in the collapsed building at Zaragoza 714, in the Portales Sur neighborhood, authorities prevented volunteers from coming in, which halted the rescue work for 24 hours and resulted in the death of a woman who had been identified while still alive, trapped in the rubble.

The authorities are also trying to hoard the material people have collected on their own initiative, and protests are mounting in the face of a number of cases where this help collected is not being delivered to the victims but rather is being diverted to the political campaigns of the electoral parties or for other purposes. In fact, the UNAM authorities closed the collection center in the Olympic Stadium in relation to a conflict that has not been clarified in which it was questioned whether the help was actually reaching the victims. In a neighborhood near the university, we talked with friends who on their own set up on a corner and began to collect food. People began coming and donating bags of sugar, rice, soup or tuna, toilet paper and clothes. Others came to ask, "Are you going to deliver this directly to the people? Because people distrust these efforts, because all the help will be given to the government and then it won't get to the people." They answered them, "We ourselves are going to go to the Morelos neighborhood and we are going to turn this over directly into the hands of the people. We are not going to give it to any institution, but directly to the people who need it." By the afternoon they had already left for the Morelos neighborhood with two trucks, all at their own expense, both from their own resources and from donations from the people of the neighborhood. The same thing was repeated in many parts of the city.

People even came to Mexico City from other parts of Mexico to help. Two women told Aurora Roja, "We came from Ciudad Juárez [on the northern border of Mexico with the United States]. We grabbed what little we had and we came to help people in this city whatever way we could. And we have been around to various places helping, and it has been a beautiful thing because at the same time the people themselves have helped us out with food and a place to sleep. We didn't think about ourselves. We said 'let's go help' and here we are."

There were also many cases of solidarity and heroism at the very moment of the earthquake. When interviewing a teacher, she recounted, "The kids went out with their teacher, but in the hallway the teacher was frozen in fear and the kids just couldn't keep going forward. Behind them were the older kids, running towards the stairways, but, they didn't run over the little kids!, who were blocking the hallway, but rather they reacted quickly. They turned around and ran to the other stairs and that's how they went down the stairs to the yard. On the ground floor, I heard the whole building 'crunching,' but I could not leave the kids. I didn't leave until I got the last kid out. At that moment I thought I could die crushed, I was resigned to that circumstance, but I could not abandon my kids. My fellow teacher was in the upper part of the building and he did the same with his kids: He did not abandon them and got them all out. There was a lot of solidarity between the kids and the teachers."

All this shows the great potential that exists among the people, who woke up and united in the face of adversity. The authorities have tried to contain, control and stifle this new and inspiring outbreak of independent initiative of the people, while they have cynically praised it, trying to claim the people's achievements as their own. But the facts are demonstrating, and more and more people are realizing, in varying degrees and forms, that this government, this state, serves interests that are not the people's interests: In fact it actually serves the interests of the big capitalists and rural landowners and their criminal system. The initiative and selflessness of people in the interests of the people in the face of earthquakes gives us a glimpse of the great transformative potential latent in the people and the possibility of another world. It is a great potential that is possible and necessary to unleash, raise awareness, organize and lead to put an end to this system of such unnecessary misery and suffering so a radically different and much better society can be born.

Posted by Aurora Roja

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/510/10-reasons-to-disrespect-the-anthem-en.html#reasonseven

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017


Warning: file_get_contents(../a/510/10-reasons-to-disrespect-the-anthem-en.html#reasonseven): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/revweb/public_html/quick/511en.php on line 157

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/from-RCP-false-claims-by-Alex-Jones-and-the-truth-about-refuse-fascism-november-4-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party
False Claims by Alex Jones/Infowars...and the Truth About Refuse Fascism and November 4

October 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and supporter/confidant of Donald Trump, has posted on his website [Infowars] the claim that the November 4 demonstrations initiated by the organization RefuseFascism.org are part of a move to launch a civil war in the U.S. Jones cites unverified video footage of supposed “antifa” activists talking about how to use knives, and then flashes to the cover of the 2005 pamphlet The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party. This false claim has been repeated on several other right-wing conservative websites and has unleashed a torrent of threats online against members and supporters of the RCP, RefuseFascism.org, and other individuals. 

This statement pushed by Jones is a lie.

What is being called for on November 4 by RefuseFascism.org is the beginning of mass nonviolent protests under the unifying slogan: This Nightmare Must End: We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America. A major point of this movement is precisely to PREVENT the kind of violent legal and extralegal repression that characterizes fascist regimes—the kind of thing which has already happened in Charlottesvile, as well as elsewhere! Driving out this fascist regime through these massive nonviolent protests, starting with thousands and ultimately actively involving millions, and thereby creating a situation akin to the protests that took place in late 2016 into early 2017 in South Korea, is the single, unifying objective of every organization and individual in Refuse Fascism. People and groups within Refuse Fascism have many different ideologies, programs, and proposals about the future, including about what replaces the Trump/Pence administration. But the demonstrations set to begin on the 4th have a clear objective and a clear character and it is not “civil war”!

People should read the pamphlet The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era for themselves. It discusses moves being made under the George W. Bush regime at that time toward consolidating a Christian fascist state, how the forces behind it were aiming the edge of their spearpoint against liberal Democrats, and how this must not be allowed to go down like that but instead has to be repolarized in a revolutionary direction

Bob Avakian and the RCP advocate and organize for revolution when specific historical conditions would make that possible, while uniting with Refuse Fascism’s more immediate aim of driving out the Trump/Pence regime and preventing the consolidation of fascism; we firmly adhere to Refuse Fascism’s call for mass nonviolent demonstrations to begin on November 4. People can and should go to the website revcom.us to find out more about Avakian’s new communism, the Constitution that would guide a new socialist society, and the strategy for revolution. We welcome discussion and debate about what should replace not only this regime, but the system that gave rise to it. But right now, again, the focus of all political forces and people of good will must be to politically drive out this regime. The slanders of an Alex Jones must NOT be allowed to divide us.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/511/refusefascism-org-statement-on-lies-and-distortions-by-fascist-web-sites-n-trolls-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

From RefuseFascism.org:

RefuseFascism.org Statement on the Lies and Distortions by Fascist Web Sites & Trolls

by Refuse Fascism staff

October 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

RefuseFascism.org has recently been the subject of numerous patently false articles posted on the internet that lie and distort its call for mass non-violent demonstrations to begin on November 4 and to raise the demand: This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

One of the first and most cited of these attacks appeared on InfoWars, the website of Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and supporter/confidant of Donald Trump. This article falsely claims, first of all, that RefuseFascism.org is interchangable with Antifa, and that November 4 is planned to be a round of “riots” based on plans outlined in a 2005 pamphlet by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, titled The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution. InfoWars then cites and includes what is purported to be an undercover video of supposed Antifa activists explaining how to use weapons such as knives, flashing to the cover and title of the pamphlet.

These absolutely false claims have then been repeated on several other fascist and conservative websites, and have unleashed thousands of vile and intimidating social media posts and outright murderous threats against members and supporters of RefuseFascism.org, the Revolutionary Communist Party, Antifa, and other individuals.

The article and claims posted on InfoWars and on other websites are categorical lies. Here is the truth:

RefuseFascism.org has called for non-violent protests to begin on Saturday, November 4 in cities and towns across the country to raise the single demand: This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! The plan is for these protests to continue every day until this demand is met. RefuseFascism.org has put forward the orientation for these protests with the slogan: In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!

RefuseFascism.org was formed and exists precisely to put a stop to the kind of violence and threats of violence against the people that characterizes fascist regimes and the extralegal fascist groups they foment. Donald Trump, during his campaign and continuing in rallies and tweets up to the present day, riles up and instigates white supremacist, misogynist and xenophobic hatred in his social base – including threatening violence. In Charlottesville, this resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer by a fascist thug.

RefuseFascism.org has clearly stated that it is:

“a movement of people coming from diverse perspectives, united in our recognition that the Trump/Pence regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet and that it is our responsibility to drive them from power. This means working and organizing with all our creativity and determination toward Nov. 4 when many thousands of people will fill the streets of cities and towns, beginning a struggle that must continue day after day and night after night, eventually involving millions of people...”

What is envisioned beginning on November 4 are ever-expanding protests that create a political situation similar to the one that took place in South Korea from October of 2016 through early March of this year, when the president of that country was removed from office.

The individuals and organizations in RefuseFascism.org have many different ideologies, programs and proposals about the future, including ideas of what might replace the Trump/Pence regime. Our protests have a clear objective and character, and it is not acts of violence or “civil war”.

The views of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), and the views of Antifa and its various constituent organizations are their own. The RCP has stated: “Bob Avakian and the RCP advocate and organize for revolution when specific historical conditions would make that possible, while uniting with Refuse Fascism’s more immediate aim of driving out the Trump/Pence regime and preventing the consolidation of fascism; we firmly adhere to Refuse Fascism’s call for mass nonviolent demonstrations to begin on November 4.” The RCP’s full views are on their website, revcom.us including a statement on why they support RefuseFascism.

RefuseFascism has published its views on Antifa and the attacks on Antifa.

As a matter of principle and orientation, RefuseFascism.org calls on all principled organizations, media, and individuals to reject, repudiate, and to stop repeating the distortions and lies of these attacks on RefuseFascism.org and November 4th. RefuseFascism.org has published the following statement:

Don’t allow the ruling forces, or any other force, to divide us or pit us against each other. Don’t fall for “divide and conquer” schemes and divisive actions, reject and rise above petty disputes and sectarian squabbles—reach out BROADLY to UNITE ALL WHO CAN BE UNITED, from different perspectives and viewpoints, around the great unifying objective of driving out, through massive, sustained political mobilization, this regime which has already done such great harm and which poses a grave threat to humanity.

This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/revolution-clubs/revolution-club-frequently-asked-questions-en.html

Revolution #511 October 2, 2017

Revolution Club—

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated November 4, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

1. “Why are you wearing the BA SPEAKS: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirt?”

This T-shirt represents people getting free. Putting on this shirt means I’m no longer standing on the sidelines watching with no hope for the future or of getting free. I’m making a statement to be on the side of the people and getting ready for a time when there is a basis to go all out for revolution and end the nightmare that humanity has been trapped in for way too long.

Why aren’t YOU wearing the shirt?

2. “Why should I follow BA if he is white? How can I trust BA as a leader if I haven’t met him?”

No one should follow a leader because they’re white. Or Black. Or male. Or female. Or any other identity. People should follow Bob Avakian because he has answers on how we get free. He has answers for how we can make revolution to overthrow this system of nightmarish oppression, and how we can lead a new society on the road to real emancipation. BA is not leading any one group of people to try to get ahead of others. BA is leading a revolution to end all oppression and emancipate all of humanity. And if that’s not the leadership you’re looking for, what’s the point?

There are plenty of leaders you can meet who aren’t worth following to the grocery store. You can meet Farrakhan. He’s not even trying to lead a revolution! He’s so eager to get a piece of the capitalist-imperialist pie he even said he’ll make deals with the most powerful white supremacist in the world today, Donald Trump! You can meet with plenty of other forked tongue politicians and others who will stroke your ego, tell you what you wanna hear, and promise you a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. That’s not what BA is about. BA tells you the truth, whether you like it or not. BA will struggle with you over where things need to go and what you can and need to do about it. BA has made a breakthrough in the science of human emancipation that provides us the tools to understand and radically change the world. And BA is leading the revolution with a deep connection to what people are actually going through and why it is so unnecessary. We’ve never had a leader like BA. And he needs to be defended and protected by the revolutionary people from a vicious enemy that would like nothing more than taking him out.

What people can do, and should do, is get to know this leader and his work. Great efforts are made to make this available at revcom.us, where you can get his writings and audio talks, including his memoir; the film of him dialoguing with Cornel West, REVOLUTION AND RELIGION; as well as the film of him talking straight up, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

3. “The revolutionaries don’t believe in God?”

“Let’s call this what it is—it is a slave mentality, with which people are being indoctrinated. All this ‘thank you Jesus!’ is a slave mentality.” (BAsics 4:18) Whose interests does it serve for people who are being fucked over and oppressed to accept this way of life as the will of a god who is punishing them or testing them with the promise of something better when they are dead? Who benefits from that? Think of what religion has been used to justify just in the history of this country: the pillaging and mass murder of the native peoples; enslaving, raping and selling African people; legalizing the beating and raping of women by their husbands.

We need to get beyond ALL lords and masters, and beyond all the oppressive economic and social relations, and traditional ideas, on which they rest. And to do that we have to confront reality as it really is. The truth is there is no god. And that is a great thing! It means we ourselves can understand the world using science and we ourselves can change it. It means we don’t have to be chained by books like the Bible that teaches that women should be killed if they are not virgins when they get married, children who rebel against their parents should be killed, gay people should be killed, and people who displease god or believe in other religions should be killed, including children (and if you bring us your Bible we can show you where it says that). We can get free of this kind of hate and this way of people treating each other.

At the same time, to join the Revolution Club you don’t have to agree that there is no god. Many good people, including revolutionaries, are motivated by their belief in a loving god that drives them to fight for justice. To make revolution, many, many of these kinds of “believers” are needed. To join the Revolution Club, you have to agree to the Points of Attention for the Revolution and while it is not a requirement to give up belief in a god, it is a requirement that we base ourselves on what we understand to be true and be open to discussing and debating what is true. Point of Attention #5 says this: “We search for and fight for the truth no matter how unpopular, even as we listen to and learn from the observations, insights and criticisms of others.”

4. “I heard BA’s a cult leader.”

This is the farthest thing from the truth and would be laughable if it wasn’t so harmful. Ironically, when people tell you this they are trying to get you to stop asking questions and stop thinking for yourself (which is what real cults do!). And even more ironically, what most characterizes BA’s leadership is that he leads people to think critically, which is the exact opposite of a cult leader!

So, we could all just laugh this off as ridiculous and idiotic. But it is actually harmful for people to be going around saying BA’s a cult leader—because it attempts to put a wall in between the people and their revolutionary leadership. It attempts to keep people disconnected from the leader they have who is on their side for real and leading them to rise to the challenge of freeing themselves and all humanity. BA has developed a new communism, an advance in science to understand human society and the world and how to change it, a toolkit that can be used to work through and fight through all the problems that stand in the way of getting all of humanity free of all oppression. He is also providing incredibly high-level leadership right now to the process of making revolution in the most monstrous empire on the planet. And he is hated and threatened by the powers that be and their followers and enforcers. What we need, what humanity needs, is A LOT MORE FOLLOWERS of BA. People taking up that toolkit and becoming leaders for this revolution. NOT RELIGIOUS WORSHIPERS OF BA. SCIENTIFIC FOLLOWERS. And a movement for revolution that will defend and protect this precious leadership.

5. “What’s in it for me?” / “I have to take care of me and mine first.”

What’s in it for you is losing those damn chains that got people held down! Getting PAST all that. Also while you’re “taking care of yours,” others are being murdered, rounded up, demonized, facing horror after horror on a daily basis. Quite frankly, it isn’t about you. It’s about the masses of people here and around the world putting a stop to this the only way it can be done—revolution, nothing less.

And we have a saying: “for whom and for what,” why are we doing this? We’re not doing this because it personally makes us feel good. No, it’s bringing forward another way outta this madness and we have that WAY. So break with that outmoded way of thinking and start living for humanity.

6. “You can’t win.”

How do you know? Have you studied past revolutions? Have you studied the strengths and weaknesses of this system? Have you studied how imperialist armies fight and how revolutionary armies fight and how “insurgent forces” fight? The Revolutionary Communist Party has done this work and a lot more. It has developed a strategy for revolution and a doctrine for how to fight with a real chance of winning, once a revolutionary people in the millions, and the necessary conditions for revolution, have been brought into being. The outline of this is laid out in the statement, “HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution.” We should dig into that statement together.

One thing it says in HOW WE CAN WIN is: "To make this revolution, we need to be serious, and scientific. We need to take into account the actual strengths of this system, but more than that its strategic weaknesses, based in its deep and defining contradictions. We need to build this revolution among those who most desperately need a radical change, but among others as well who refuse to live in a world where this system spews forth endless horrors, and this is continually 'justified' and even glorified as 'greatness.'"

The problem: this capitalist system of oppression and exploitation of millions of people here and around the world, along with the plunder of the environment. The solution is revolution.

Revolution requires millions of people who see or can be won to see the illegitimacy of this system and those who rule. The Revolution Club is organizing, NOW, for revolution to overthrow this system at the soonest possible time with a real chance to win. We are Preparing the Ground, Preparing the People, Preparing the Vanguard for Revolution. What is needed is YOU!

7. “You’re going to get people killed.” / “The police are going to come down harder on me if I get involved in the revolution.”

What is actually worth living and dying and risking something for? This system kills and destroys people every single day, and gets people to take up its dog-eat-dog mentality and destroy each other. Why not put your life to something worthwhile? Getting rid of this system and emancipating humanity from this hell.

Yeah, if you step out of the life and get into the revolution, the police are going to hate it. They are going to fuck with you. We know all the dirty shit they are capable of—setups and murders and a whole court system backing them up. The police and the system they enforce would much prefer that you stay in your place, fighting over drug territory, taking revenge on other people in the same situation as you, going in and out of their prisons, always on probation or parole, always trying to stay low, on the run... and not causing any trouble for their system which keeps grinding you up and grinding up people all over the world. Children blown to pieces in wars for empire or washing up dead on beaches as their families try to escape war and poverty. Women killed in sweatshops that catch fire, or murdered for trying to go to school, or beaten and raped by men who consider them objects and property. Black and Latino people in the U.S. murdered by police, Rohingya people in Myanmar slaughtered...

So. What are you going to do inside this slave system? Bow your head and be an obedient slave? Or learn how to end the whole system of slavery and become a leader for the revolution to do that?

When you step into the revolution, you will not be alone. Every time the police try to take revenge on you for joining the revolution, you will have the movement for revolution at your back. We must mobilize people to support each other, mobilize lawyers to defend revolutionaries, raise money to fight cases, and most importantly bring forward more forces for revolution as we do all this. You stepping into the revolution now, putting on the T-shirt, living by and fighting for the Points of Attention for the Revolution—yes with all of the risks—inspires and gives strength to others to do the same.

8. “Black people will never get together.” / “White people are too fucked up.”

In saying that you are taking up the way the system wants you to think. Let’s look at this scientifically. It is the system that creates the conditions in which people are divided and not a predetermined human nature that says people are doomed to fight each other and exploit and oppress others. There are examples throughout history, even very recent history, where people from all walks of life have come together to fight the outrages of this system. People in times of acute crisis in society can have their thinking transformed and have their sights set higher and unite with others against the real enemy... this capitalist imperialist system and those who rule over it. Stop thinking the way the system wants you to think and step into the revolution.

9. “I have a responsibility to take revenge for my loved ones or I’m not a man...”

You are being played by this system that set up your loved ones to be killed in the first place and got you going after people who are just like you that this system rules over and oppresses. Give the lives of your loved ones some REAL MEANING by taking up the fight to get rid of this system that is really responsible. And when you start talking about being a "man" and not being a "bitch," this system has you played twice—now it has you trying to make your life count by dominating over and devaluing women.

Lift your sights and change what you are fighting for. Get out of that revenge shit that is just another form of “me and mine first” that is the way of life under this capitalist-imperialist system. Get out of that “man up” shit that keeps women enslaved and holds all of humanity back. Become an emancipator of humanity. Join the Revolution Club.

10. What does it mean to join the Revolution Club?

When you join the Revolution Club you join an organized group of people who are preparing for revolution—preparing the ground, preparing the people, and preparing the vanguard leadership, getting ready for the time when millions can be led to fight, all-out, with a real chance to win. In the Revolution Club you get trained to become a leader for this revolution.

In the Revolution Club you live by a different morality. You live by and fight for the Points of Attention for the Revolution. You are fighting for a morality that stands for a world in which there is no more exploitation of the many by the few and no more oppression of one group of people by another.

In the Revolution Club you learn how to lead people to stand up against the injustices of this system and learn how to come together and fight together against the system and all the ways in which it comes down on people. You learn about and do that in a way that contributes to and builds up the forces we need for a real revolution. This means learn how to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.

In the Revolution Club you learn about science—what it is and how to apply it to everything, including making revolution. This means learning about Bob Avakian’s new communism—and spreading this everywhere. You transform your own thinking and lead people to transform their thinking to start thinking about the interests of humanity first instead of “me and mine first” and to lose their fear of fighting to change the world. You struggle with people to break free of the system’s way of thinking. You learn—and learn to apply—the strategy for an actual revolution to overthrow the capitalist-imperialist system. You get into the vision and plan for the new society in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America authored by Bob Avakian (BA)—a society on the road to wiping out all forms of exploitation, oppression, and destructive conflicts among the people.

When you join the Revolution Club, you learn about and follow the leadership of Bob Avakian (BA) and the Revolutionary Communist Party. The most precious thing the masses of people have in their fight to get free is their vanguard party, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), which leads the Revolution Club and the whole movement for revolution. In the Revolution Club you learn about the Party and how you can make the leap to becoming a communist leader and prepare to join the RCP.