Revolution #523, December 25, 2017 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

In this Film, Bob Avakian Analyzes the Deep Roots and Driving Forces of Trump/Pence Fascism and What Must Be Done to Stop It.

Watch It Here, and Spread It.

Updated April 2, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Be part of bringing the most serious answers to the most urgent questions to tens and hundreds of thousands, and ultimately millions.

This talk from Bob Avakian (BA) provides a scientific understanding of the roots of this fascist regime—in the history of the U.S. and the deeper roots in the system of capitalism-imperialism. He does so with passion, humor, humanity, and a deep sense of history. He cuts into the deepest, most agonizing questions, first in the speech and then in a wide-ranging Questions and Answers.

If more people watched this talk, it could change today’s political equation. But far too few have seen this talk, or even know about it. You are needed to be part of changing this.

Donate towards promotion of this film:

Scroll down for the film trailer, videos of the Q&A session following the speech, and clips from the film


Click to view the full speech.

The film and all video clips are also available for download HERE

For instructions to download this film click HERE

 

 

 

Questions and Answers with Bob Avakian

NEW:  Download, share, and watch each Q&A in a separate clip. To download these clips, click the "v" icon on the bottom right of the clip to get to the Vimeo page, and scroll down to the button for "Download"

Q&A: What do you say to the comedians who ridicule Trump/Pence but also run the risk of contributing to normalizing fascism?

Q&A: If we drive out the Trump/Pence regime, what will replace it?

Q&A: How can we sustain the massive movement required to drive this regime from power?

Q&A: What strategies are there to break through the mainstream news whiteout of Refuse Fascism?

Q&A: How can we protect immigrants targeted directly by this regime?

Q&A: What's the role of students in the movement to drive out the Trump/Pence regime?

Q&A: The Democrats are supposed to be the lesser of two evils, but I don't want to vote for them. I know the system sucks, but what do we do in the interim?

Q&A: As a revolutionary Christian, I believe that we do need this revolution but how can you have religious people not feel alienated?

Q&A: What's the relationship between fighting fascism and making revolution?

Q&A: How can we overcome obstacles in reaching out broadly to drive out the Trump/Pence regime?

Q&A: Millions hate what's happening with the Trump/Pence regime, but does that matter if they don’t act?

Q&A: Do you think that we need animal liberation?


Trailer and Clips From the Film:

Trailer

Clip: "Free Yourself from the GTF!"

Clip: "What are we facing?"

Clip: "Order or Justice?"


Clip: "What Must We Do?"

Clip: "The direct line from the Confederacy to the fascists of today"

Clip: "Why is it the Democrats can only try to resolve this on the terms of the system?"

Clip: "The Christian Fascists
Now In Power"

Clip: "The 'Unholy Alliance' Between Trump and Fundamentalist Christian Fascists"

 

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/516/how-to-download-new-film-by-bob-avakian-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Download and share the new film by Bob Avakian…
Here’s how:

November 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To DOWNLOAD the Full Speech, Trailer, Q&A or Clips from the Vimeo page (HERE):

  1. Look for a number at the bottom right of each video that starts with “#vimeo.com/”. For the video you want to download, click on that number.
  2. On the new page that opens, below the video on the right is a button “Download”. Click that button.
  3. A menu will pop up. Click on your choice of size of file to download.

4. Repeat this process for each file (Full Speech, Trailer, Clips, Q&A) that you want to download from the Vimeo page (HERE).

 

To SHARE the Full Speech, Trailer, Q&A or Clips from the Vimeo page (HERE):

  1. For each video (Full Speech, Trailer, etc.) that you want to share, click on the “Share” button—the little paper airplane near the upper right corner.
  2. The Pop-Up Menu will give you many choices for how to share.

Share widely!

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/three-key-points-on-imperialist-fascist-logic-of-trump-tax-bill-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Three Key Points on the Imperialist—and Fascist—Logic of the Trump Tax Bill

by Raymond Lotta

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The new tax law is NOT principally a handout, motivated by corporate greed—although greedy hands are seeking to maximize and game its benefits, which are utterly skewed to the wealthy. This tax bill is a conscious and strategic move to deal with economic contradictions and imperialist great-power needs.

Yes, the tax bill will accelerate the upward redistribution and concentration of income and wealth. The Tax Policy Center has calculated that by 2025, the top one percent of households would receive nearly 85 percent of the total tax reduction.

This upward redistribution and concentration of wealth is a phenomenon, a pattern, of the last few decades. Countless studies on inequality (most famously Thomas Piketty’s work) have demonstrated this trend in the imperialist countries, with the U.S. the leader in inequality.

But the tax bill is not in essence a con game to rob the poor and large sections of the middle class, although people will suffer greatly. There are larger economic pressures and compulsions at work. And there are imperialist great-power needs, specifically the Trump/Pence regime’s global agenda.

The companion piece to this article deals with some of the fascist political and ideological implications of the Trump/Pence tax law, and the truly vicious economic attacks on the masses. These are indeed critical. But there is a deeper logic setting the context for all that.

1. There is a “logic,” a capitalist-imperialist geostrategic logic, to the Trump agenda.

The Trump economic strategy has four main elements: a) rewriting regulations and the tax code; b) further slashing social spending; c) expanding energy (fossil fuel) production, both to spur profits and to enhance U.S. global economic strength, competitiveness, and leverage (over world oil prices and over oil-producing regimes the U.S. deems as enemies, like Iran); and d) remaking global trade rules and agreements to give greater immediate advantage to certain sections of U.S. capital, to further subordinate “partners” like Mexico.

The world capitalist economy has been undergoing major changes in the balance of strength of rival imperialists. In particular, capitalist China has emerged as a global rival to U.S. imperialism, and China has over the last 20 years been growing rapidly and extending its global reach and influence.

There is a view on the part of advisers in the Trump regime that the U.S. has more economic leverage... to leverage. As they seem to see it, other countries are more dependent on the U.S. for export markets (to sell their goods) than the U.S. is on their markets. And so, in this view, the U.S. can create obstacles to these countries’ ability to sell their goods in the U.S. (like imposing tariffs, a kind of tax, on products coming into the U.S.) and the U.S. can absorb retaliatory economic measures that these countries might take against the U.S.—and can also bully other countries into submitting to U.S. economic dictate.

This is a dangerous game to play, especially with China, where U.S. capital has huge investments. And China is actually financing much of the U.S. government deficit through its purchase of debt (bonds) issued by the U.S. Treasury.

But more than economics is involved. China in particular is expanding its military capabilities and Trump is pushing for a massive military buildup and military modernization, including and especially nuclear weapons.

The new U.S. national security document issued by the Trump/Pence regime on December 18 should be taken very seriously. It was apparently drawn up by the so-called “adults in the room,” notably National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster (at least in reports circulating).

The document is highly militaristic and full of threatening rhetoric—describing China and Russia as “revisionist powers” and “hostile competitors” seeking to “shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests.” It calls for the U.S. to prepare to militarily “overmatch” its rivals. The U.S. already has enormous military advantage, but this document is arguing for even greater advantage, buildup, and readiness. The Trump regime has been calling for the U.S. to be oriented to wage far larger wars than those of the last few decades.

The Trump economic program is aimed at shoring up and bolstering the domestic economic base of the U.S. empire—energy, sectors of manufacturing, the industrial base for the military. This economic program is in the service of an aggressive, hyper-nationalist economic and strategic agenda that is “chauvinist globalist” (America First).

2. A structural problem of the U.S. economy has been low rates of capital investment. The new tax law aims in part to deal with that—but whether it can is far from certain.

The competitive drive to invest, to expand, to exploit labor on an ever more technologically advanced foundation for profit and more profit is taking place in a more intensely competitive global environment. But capital investment in the U.S. in recent years has been low by historical standards. This is so despite the fact that the U.S. economy has been growing and business spending has picked up some in the last year. “Capital investment” (or capital formation) refers to business spending on new factories and structures, equipment, technology, etc., to boost productivity and expand and cheapen production.

One of the goals of the tax cut is to stimulate capital investment. Job creation is neither the goal nor the necessary result of capital investment: on the one hand, much capital investment has been and will continue to be labor-replacing technology; and, on the other, U.S. multinational corporations depend for the profitability on overseas cheap-labor investment, outsourcing, global supply chains, etc.

Could such a tax cut stimulate investment? Yes, but not necessarily. There is no established connection between low taxes and high investment, high growth, and job creation. But trapped by their ideological illusions and capable of all manner of lying, the proponents of the tax bill are half believing and half deceiving.

The laws of capital operate behind the capitalists’ backs. It is not tax levels but the underlying profitability of capital that sets the terms of investment. And this the capitalists cannot control. Profitability is determined by the complex, competitive struggle and interactions of capitals, by technological change, by wage rates, by international factors, and other things as well.

The facts: corporate earnings have been very high in recent years. But this has not translated into major new rounds of capital investment. There are various reasons for this, but a critical factor is that the return on investment is not sufficiently high to draw forth new spending on a scale that would ramp up productiveness of labor and competitiveness.

And, so, many U.S. corporations are sitting on large hoards of cash. These can be seen as competitive war chests for future investment, to wage the battle to beat competitors and gain market share. Lower corporate taxes might simply add to capital that is not being actively, productively invested. In the recent past, corporations have used extra profits from paying less tax to buy back their own stock (to boost stock prices) or to purchase financial assets and property. In other words, lower corporate taxes can simply lead to more financial manipulation and gain, not real investment. This is all part of the anarchy and parasitism of capitalist-imperialism.

3. Taxes on corporations are necessary to underwrite the capitalist-imperialist state; the capitalist state safeguards and advances the strategic interests of imperialist capital; but this is full of contradiction. The slash in corporate tax rates is an attempt to deal with those contradictions. Yet these contradictions are potentially explosive.

The cornerstone and centerpiece of the just-passed tax bill is the large reduction of corporate tax rates from 35 to 21 percent. The official tax rate (35 percent) with state taxes added in brings the top rate to 39 percent. This would make the U.S. corporate tax rate the third highest in the world. But this is highly misleading. When you factor in various exemptions and allowances, and other special provisions, the corporate tax rate washes out at about 27 percent. That level fits with the global average. And there have been blatant instances in the last six years when some large U.S. corporations have avoided paying any taxes.

But this “average” tax rate is a constraint on some sections of U.S. capital in the particular conditions of the world-capitalist economy—with shifts in global economic power and heightened global competition.

In this light it is extremely useful to review Bob Avakian’s article “‘Preliminary Transformation into Capital’...And Putting an End to Capitalism.” In examining the dynamics of capitalism, government spending, and the taxes and borrowing required to finance state expenditure—Avakian points out that “taxes are in fact in conflict with profitability for discrete, individual aggregations of capital.” Taxes are a deduction from surplus value (profit)—which comes from the exploitation of wage-labor.

Now the capitalist state is indispensable to the functioning of the system. It acts to safeguard the larger strategic interests of the national capitalist-imperialist formation, like the U.S., China, Japan, Germany, Russia, etc. The imperialist state provides the repressive and military support for capital. This means, for instance, contending for domination of different parts of the globe through military and other means. The capitalist state also takes measures to facilitate the more profitable functioning and expansion of capital, like building roads and transport, investing in research, etc.

But this “greater capitalist interest” is itself fought out and fought over by different sections/wings of the ruling class. The benefits from expanding exploitation around the world, or building new infrastructure, will accrue to some sections of capital more than others, and they will fight with each other over this. And taxes still reduce the pool of surplus value available to individual capitals. This is true even as these individual capitals require the capitalist state to assure the political and economic conditions necessary for profitable capitalist production to take place. So, again—the whole thing is full of contradiction. The slash in corporate tax rates is a key way that the now politically dominant sections of the imperialists in the U.S. see dealing with those contradictions. But these cuts will also result in declining revenues for the government that could lead to ballooning budget deficits—between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion by most estimates—and create major financial strains on the economy (and be a “rationale” for social spending cuts).

By way of conclusion...

In short: the main purpose of this tax law is to strengthen certain sectors of the U.S economy as part of the “America first” economic-military agenda. But there is no guarantee that lower corporate taxes will in fact stimulate major new investment. The “tax reform” will, however, lead to greater income and wealth inequality, and new hardships on the poor and many in the middle strata. The fascist regime’s gamble here is that they will be able to ram through to a more dominant role in the world economy; that they can kick-start higher levels of capital investment; and that they will succeed in jamming these vicious attacks on living standards down the throats of the masses. Whether this gamble succeeds, at a huge and perhaps truly catastrophic cost, or whether it fails... the main implication is clear: prepare for struggle.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/new-tax-law-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

The New Tax Law: Cementing Policies and Politics of Cruelty, Advancing a FASCIST Political and Ideological Agenda

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This week, Republicans in both houses of Congress rammed through their final tax bill, and delivered it to Trump to sign and put it into law. Then they gathered at the White House to revel in an ugly-American, predators’ celebration, and to heap praise on Führer Trump.

This bill, the first major change in federal tax law in three decades, is hundreds of pages long, and includes many different, often hidden or complicated provisions. While everything about its provisions and effects are not yet known widely, some major dimensions are clear. You don’t have to be an economist, lawyer, or accountant to understand the basics: this is a blueprint aimed at strengthening the U.S.’s biggest, most predatory capitalists and America’s global economic dominance. At the same time, the law advances policies and politics of cruelty that severely hurt the poor and the most vulnerable sections of society. The new law actually even increases taxes on parts of society like urban areas, liberal states, and universities not part of the fascist social base. Undergirding these politics and policies is an ideology of “personal responsibility,” and a segmentation of society into those who are deemed “contributing and deserving” and those not. This bill is an ugly expression of fascist political aims and a fascist worldview.

The law was deceitfully titled the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” Short term, it gives many working and middle class people temporary tax cuts, and it may even buoy the economy. This could be seen as a deliberate move by the Trump/Pence regime and the Republicans to buy acquiescence and support, for this act and for this Trump/Pence regime, and make this poison go down.

In reality, as Raymond Lotta states in the accompanying article, “Three Key Points on the Imperialist—and Fascist—Logic of the Trump Tax Bill,” this bill “will accelerate the upward redistribution and concentration of wealth. The Tax Policy Center has calculated that by 2025, the top one percent of households would receive nearly 85 percent of the total tax reduction.” As Lotta demonstrates, the centerpiece of this bill, the permanent corporate tax cuts, are compelled by competitive imperatives of the capitalist-imperialist class, as perceived by those currently in power. And the countervailing social and economic cost of these cuts is imposed on sections of society in line with the ideology and politics of those currently in power.

Medium term, and in many cases very immediately, the bill will crush many poor people, impoverish millions more, and assault broad swaths of the middle class. It will immediately deal a body blow to the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) and potentially, healthcare for millions. It will run up massive debt and lay the basis for and trigger further, drastic cuts in society’s already scanty basic social safety net, including Medicare (the government program that defrays costs for medical treatment for the elderly) and Social Security. It will undermine the basis for the public education system—already crumbling in many parts of the country—while favoring private and religious schools. And it will most definitely not reward “hard work.” In other words, the tax cuts for the corporations and the super-wealthy come at a cost: to the poor and the vulnerable.

The Permanent Corporate Tax Cuts and the Temporary Narcotic for the Masses Before the Pain Begins

The Trump/Republican tax law is constructed around a massive tax cut for corporations and businesses, whose tax rates will be cut nearly in half, as well as the ultra-rich. Over the next 10 years, this will transfer $1.5 trillion to America’s biggest exploiters—whose wealth is wrenched from the brutal exploitation of hundreds of millions, in the networks of production and exploitation that span the globe. Note well: this tax cut is permanent.

The tax cuts for the vast majority of people, however, aren’t permanent. They shrink over time and will likely be ended by 2027 when all but the richest will see their taxes rise. A decade from now people making around $50,000 annually, often barely surviving with families, are expected to pay billions more in taxes—while those making a million and more will pay billions less.

These massive corporate tax cuts are expected to increase government debt by an estimated $1 trillion to $2 trillion. This is expected (and may have been deliberately constructed) to trigger deep, automatic spending cuts targeting social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. This would push many, many millions, especially Black, Latino and other oppressed or impoverished people, to the edge of survival—or past it. Trump and the Republicans are basically declaring war on almost all the economic concessions of the past 90 years.

Many are denouncing the bill as a “giveaway” to the rich, or greed run amok. Yes, the hideous greed is there for all to see, and the Trump/Pence fascist regime and its Republican cohort are running amok. But as Bob Avakian (BA) analyzed in his prescient analysis, “The Truth About the Right-Wing Conspiracy... And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer,” all this springs from and is driven by something much deeper, the very nature and deepest compulsions of the capitalist-imperialist system:

And, in the present period and the present “global environment,” the requirements of the capitalist economic and social system not only demand that the lords of capital be able to carry out their supreme commandment, “let us prey,” in a more unrestrained and more “mobile” way, on a world scale. They also demand, within American society itself, a slashing of major social programs and a heightening of the repressive powers of government, along with the fostering of a repressive social atmosphere. They demand what the organization Refuse and Resist! has called the politics of cruelty, or the politics of poverty, punishment, and patriarchy.

This has been borne out in spades since BA wrote it 20 years ago. As Lotta demonstrates, this Trump/Republican tax bill is aimed at lessening the tax burden on corporations and businesses in order to strengthen their ability to compete and dominate globally. The tax bill encourages investment—but not necessarily creating jobs. And it’s taking place in the context of a massive military buildup and growing threats of war. This is what “Make America Great Again” looks like.

The Fascists’ Upside Down Ideological Attack on the Poor and the Vulnerable

Buttressing this economic assault, is an ideological one—aimed at further shredding cohering governing and social norms: that government is responsible for some kind of “safety net” for people in need. Under assault and eroding for a while, this tax bill represents a further leap in this direction.

First, the dominant Republi-fascist core of the U.S. ruling class has an inherent segmentation of society built into their worldview. They think the corporations and banks, and those who run and own them, are the ones who contribute, and make this society function. And then there are the others... non-contributing and non-deserving. Listen to what some leading Republicans say:

Charles Grassley, senator from Iowa, on giving huge tax cuts to the ultra-rich: “I think not having the estate tax [on estates worth over $11 million] recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Orrin Hatch, senator from Utah, referring to a federal program that allots funds for medical care for nine million children: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.”

Who do they mean when they talk about people who “expect the federal government to do everything”? They mean the people at the bottom, the people who have always caught hell in this system, most especially Black and Brown people. Who are the people Hatch and his ilk think of as “not helping themselves”?

All these people—the exploited ones from whose blood this wealth is sucked and those cast off by this system when they can no longer be profitably exploited—these are the “unworthy.”

And who are these corporations and “investors” Trump and the Republicans hail and speak for? Capitalist-imperialist exploiters1 whose wealth, power, and global empire have been built by enslaving Black people, committing genocide against Native Americans, super-exploiting sweatshop workers all over the world, and waging wars and murdering millions from Hiroshima, to Vietnam, to Iraq so they can dominate and control the planet.

The Big Lie of “Personal Responsibility”

Second, undergirding these politics of cruelty is an ideology of “personal responsibility.” Those vampires who have sucked their blood for centuries claim that the situation of the poor, the exploited, and the oppressed is fundamentally their own fault—and that the system, society, and government have no responsibility for redress. This is particularly stark for the Republican-fascists whose idea of “small government” includes getting rid of the “nanny state,” with its social welfare programs and safety nets, however inadequate and eroded it is, in the name of “choice,” “privatization,” and “personal responsibility.” That’s why Paul Ryan constantly refers to the safety net as “entitlement programs,” code for programs which people feel “entitled” to, but are not “deserving” of, if they can’t or don’t pay for it.

This notion of personal responsibility, implemented in these policies and politics of cruelty against the most vulnerable, is zealous among the Republicans, but shared and voiced by the Democrats, Clinton and Obama in different ways. Writing during the Clinton administration, Avakian said the following:

As utilized by Clinton as well as the “conservatives,” this theme of “personal responsibility” is an ideological weapon which serves the function of blaming the people for the failure of bourgeois society to live up to principles and promises it proclaims, and in particular blaming those in the inner cities for the impoverished and oppressed conditions into which they have been cast and confined. It seeks to locate the cause of this situation—and the actions of people forcibly maintained in these conditions—in some alleged “moral failing” on the part of the people themselves, and to deny and obscure the real cause: the workings of the system itself and the policies of the powers-that-be. (Did the people in the ghettos and barrios “de-industrialize” the cities and forcibly segregate housing, or for that matter did the people in the rural areas bring about the domination of corporate and banking capital over the farm economy?) “Personal responsibility” adds insult to injury—and, more than that, “personal responsibility” serves as the “moral sermonizing” to accompany the politics of punishment, the pious words pronounced by the executioners.

Targeting and Punishing Liberalism, Secularism, and “Blue States”: “Make Them Pay, Let Us Pray...”

This tax bill also includes provisions to help further the Republican—fascist—domination of the U.S. government. The bill is a political blow on economic terms.

It targets and punishes, with precision, states and constituencies where support for the Trump/Pence fascist regime is weakest—New York and the New England states, California, and so-called “Blue” (Democratic-leaning) areas more broadly. It is an assault on centers of liberalism, secularism, and scientific thought. As an article in the New York Times put it, the bill is “an economic dagger aimed at high-tax, high-cost and generally Democratic-leaning areas—most notably New York City and its neighbors.”

Homeowners broadly will be hammered by the tax bill’s reduction of mortgage interest deductions, but New York, California, and some other “blue” states will be hit even harder by that change and capping deductions for state and local income taxes. This will hammer many in the upper middle class in these states and limit their ability to raise taxes to pay for state-sponsored social programs in healthcare, social programs, and education. In California, K-12 schools could lose $4.6 billion a year, and infrastructure projects (roads, waterways, school building, etc.) could be severely impacted. The bill promotes traditional marriage and the patriarchal oppression of women by increasing the child tax credit and eliminating the deduction for alimony payments, which would discourage divorce. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans added a $10,000 tax credit to pay for religious, private, and home schooling, all key elements of the Christian fascist movement.

The bill includes an excise tax on the investment earnings of certain university endowments, impacting at least three dozen major universities and colleges. Again, this targets centers of liberalism, secularism, and critical thinking. The previous House version of the bill would have treated graduate assistantships as taxable income, making it unaffordable, surgically targeting a key demographic and realm largely hateful of the fascist direction of society. While this did not make it through this time, consider it a warning shot.

This is not the normal give and take of bourgeois electoral politics. It is intended to reshape society for years to come.

And where were the Democrats in all this? While opposing this bill, they did not generate massive mobilizations against it, similar to those against earlier Republican efforts to gut Obamacare. Proceeding from a 2018 electoral calculus, the Democratic leadership is mainly spinning the tax bill, and the devastation it will cause, as something that could benefit them—because it will back-fire and cost the Republicans votes next year! “This tax bill will be an anchor around the ankles of every Republican … they’re going to learn it next November,” Democratic Party leader Chuck Schumer declared during the process. Meanwhile the cruel, devastating and long-term attacks on the people become law and policy, and further, the temporary narcotic of the short-term tax cuts, in fact, could potentially influence sections of people toward the Republican-fascists, including electorally, furthering the fascist trajectory!

A Vicious Tax Bill from a Vicious System

This vicious new tax law didn’t fundamentally spring from the greed of a few individuals, the imaginations of lobbyists, or pressure from political donors. At heart, it arises from the basic nature and driving compulsions of capitalism-imperialism. This is not a curse word, not mere rhetoric. Capitalism-imperialism is an economic and political system which generates enormous wealth in the hands of a few, yet leaves billions destitute and increasingly desperate. To maintain and extend this system they wage wars of insane devastation and threaten human annihilation, they hold whole regions of the world in chains, they foster and enforce the murderous white supremacy born centuries ago to justify the slave trade and their genocides against indigenous peoples all over the planet, they perpetuate the eons-old abuse, degradation, and enslavement of the female half of humanity, and they ravenously shred the fabric of life on the planet. Now that system in the U.S. is presided over by a fascist regime.

This is a system which needs to be overthrown through revolution at the soonest possible moment. We have the strategy, the leadership for such a revolution, and a concrete and visionary blueprint for a radically different and far better society, aiming towards emancipating all of humanity. You can find out about it HERE, and HERE.

Right now, the Trump/Pence fascist regime is a more monstrous and grotesque form of rule of this system, inflicting horrors and threatening the future of humanity. To stop this, and for the possibility to fight for any kind of different and better future, it is urgent to unite millions to drive this regime from power, through massive, nonviolent political protest. The regime has gotten through many challenges, doubling down each time towards consolidating fascism. That dynamic will continue unless it is removed from power.

Trump has signed a tax bill that will be a crushing assault on tens of millions of people. It will make life intolerable—and no one should tolerate it. This again underscores the urgency of driving this regime from power through the kind of mass, nonviolent political protest and resistance called for by RefuseFascism.org.

 


1. As to the rationale of them being “job creators,” please see the accompanying excerpt from Bob Avakian on the underlying logic of this claim. [back]

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/young-comrades-write-on-bob-avakian-new-talk-and-more-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Young Comrades on BA's New Talk, Fighting the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime, Struggling with Students…and More

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The World-Historic Challenge We Face

“Too Late” Could Be Any Day Now

December 25, 2017

Sorry, for taking so long to write! I have found it hard to pull away from things to have the time to step back and think.

The RF summation talk was very materialist, and illuminating because it was materialist! While we had been grappling with a whole series of contradictions we’ve been up against—the normalization and fear, the democratic illusions and false paths, the inability of people to connect the fascist dots, the American chauvinism, the ignorance about the role of protest—by putting those contradictions in the context of this deeper contradiction, the talk helped to explain their pull.

Read more.

People Damn Sure Need To Be Brought Together To Stop Fascism… That’s Not Going To Be Smooth Sailing, But We’re On Mission To Do That

December 25, 2017

RefuseFascism.org spoke with a woman in the Revolution Club who has been very active in organizing for Refuse Fascism, about her thoughts on the opening talk to the Refuse Fascism Mass Meetings – This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! This interview was originally posted at RefuseFascism.org.

Q: You heard the speech at a mass meeting, talk about your initial response when people discussed it.

A: OK, I remember just opening up, speaking about how bad this year has been, overall. But it is very important that so many people from different ages and backgrounds have come together to work on stopping this nightmare, in different stages. And we need to go back to some of that. I liked that the speech talked about some of that. I also talked about there have been moments in history where art, culture, you know, knowledge and stuff have just been lost. And this is actually a moment when that could happen and that’s part of what we’re actually trying to prevent from happening.

Read more.

Thinking on Students and the Moment We're In

Let's Make the Argument to People...

December 25, 2017

While there are huge holes in my understanding of what students are thinking about this situation, I learned a great deal at a panel on Black Radical thought, at a protest against a fascist coming to speak on campus, and at a graduate student walkout in response to the tax bill.

People at the Black Radical thought panel (made up of Black intellectuals and graduate students) were speaking to the fact that Trump represents something different. They posed this as a heightened danger of the shifting cultural norms, but I heard the argument from the panel and from a few students I spoke with afterward, that though the cultural norms around which the country is being cohered are alarming, the regime (they usually just say Trump) is failing at executing the plan.

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Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Thinking on Students and the Moment We're In

Let's Make the Argument to People...

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

While there are huge holes in my understanding of what students are thinking about this situation, I learned a great deal at a panel on Black Radical thought, at a protest against a fascist coming to speak on campus, and at a graduate student walkout in response to the tax bill.

People at the Black Radical thought panel (made up of Black intellectuals and graduate students) were speaking to the fact that Trump represents something different. They posed this as a heightened danger of the shifting cultural norms, but I heard the argument from the panel and from a few students I spoke with afterward, that though the cultural norms around which the country is being cohered are alarming, the regime (they usually just say Trump) is failing at executing the plan.

At the protest against a fascist speaker, I realized to what degree this question of free speech is on the minds of students as that was the topic of most of the conversations that spawned in the turmoil of confronting the fascists. It is VERY important that whenever these fascists show up to campus, there is student opposition (this has to grow and it has to be led in the right direction) but even when mobilized, most students were defensive about the question of free speech, especially when it came to whether or not the fascists should be shut down. The reasons people felt compelled to come out were mostly framed in terms of the hate speech, the administration’s role in protecting students (including the absurdity of having to pay security fees to protect the fascists), and fear for the safety of sections of the student population. Based on what I have learned so far, there is little recognition that this is part of a strategic goal to consolidate fascism. Notably, one student who spoke on the bullhorn that day stated these fascists coming onto campus are conducting a recruitment process, but I wasn’t able to inquire about what he meant or how he saw this.

I think one big problem is that people are not recognizing the subversion of the separation of powers.

I was giving people an analogy to the civil rights movement, asking if they thought the Freedom Riders and the like should have been asking “pointed questions” instead of acting in defiance of the status quo as they did. The response to this, when the point was not overlooked by posing questions about democracy, was something along the lines of “it’s different—we currently have rights.” I got the sense overall that people were not recognizing the fact that those rights are being stripped away at a rapid pace.

Even at the graduate student walkout against the tax plan, something more directly related to the regime, one speaker did say the bill was an attack on intellectualism and also made the connection to other policies of the regime that represented attacks on other sections of people, but there is still a glaring lack of recognizing the larger picture and connecting the “bad policies” to the fascist imperatives of the regime and of understanding this attack within the context of all the other assaults on democratic rights and a scientific epistemology.

Thoughts on the talk and the overall situation...

I think the talk from BA (The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!) has been greatly underutilized and that it would be very helpful to sit down with people and talk explicitly about this and about why the analysis and method embodied in the talk is crucial for people to take up as a tool to mobilize the millions of people. I don’t think there is enough of an appreciation of this fact.

After I read the “The Fascists and the Destruction of the ‘Weimar Republic’...And What Will Replace It and “The Truth about the Right Wing Conspiracy... and Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answerpieces over a year ago now, I began to recognize the importance of people seeing this as a fascist regime and a coming together of fascist forces that have held tremendous sway in politics for decades now... that the basis for this lies in the history of this country and the nature of the capitalist system and the necessity the imperialist are having to confront.

I was coming across people who, when I lay out the definition of fascism from revcom.us would reject the analysis because they didn’t agree with the framework of the definition (in relation to questions about the existence of a ruling class, the fact that bourgeois democracy is a form of dictatorship, and the underlying dynamics of the capitalist system to which the ruling class is beholden and responding to). I think these are VERY important questions to be getting into with people... we should NOT shy away from the challenge of having to fight with people over what is true, but this was posing itself as a contradiction. How do you struggle with people to recognize this is fascism short of having them take up a communist framework... how to unite the diverse sections of people needed to drive out this regime? In the talk, BA models this well. He shreds illusions about Western and American superiority, speaking directly to the obstacles holding people back as he puts forward a moral challenge to everyone with a conscience that fascism can and is happening in this country and that we have to drive the regime out in the name of humanity. He does a lot of work in identifying the contradictions for us and he models a method of talking to people about reality that we really need to be taking up. There truly is no replacement for making the argument to people and BA speaks to the basis to really mobilize millions by having them confront the necessity.

The depth of white supremacy

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around how white supremacists justify themselves. The contradiction posed in The Atlantic article, “The Nationalist’s Delusion” about the age old tradition of America and Americans of all political stripes to proclaim “freedom and equality for all” at the same time as they dehumanize or go along with the dehumanization of whole sections of people. Watching the documentary on the Freedom Riders, and picking up a book called “There Goes My Everything” about how white people in the South reacted to civil rights has opened my eyes more and more to the role of American chauvinism in all this and the lack of recognition of what’s captured in the statement “America Was Never Great.” This is what BA gets into dispelling the myths about America and “the superiority of the West”... getting into the horrors of how this country and this system got started and how the wealth was built up on the backs of the people of the world and Black people in America. As I learn more about the Civil Rights era and how white people responded to this it really brings the point home that there is a real basis for things to go in a genocidal direction, that the ideological basis for this has resided in the cultural norms from the founding of this country which were transformed in the 60s but which obviously still hold a lot of sway. And BA deals with the epistemological question through challenging people to “free themselves from the GTF”—a fight that is important to be waging with people, especially in relation to the question of nuclear war against North Korea, but which has implications overall in relation to the fascist imperative to forge and violently enforce a national narrative that disregards truth.

More thoughts to come.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/too-late-could-be-any-day-now-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

The World-Historic Challenge We Face

“Too Late” Could Be Any Day Now

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Sorry, for taking so long to write! I have found it hard to pull away from things to have the time to step back and think.

The RF summation talk was very materialist, and illuminating because it was materialist! While we had been grappling with a whole series of contradictions we’ve been up against—the normalization and fear, the democratic illusions and false paths, the inability of people to connect the fascist dots, the American chauvinism, the ignorance about the role of protest—by putting those contradictions in the context of this deeper contradiction, the talk helped to explain their pull.

On the one hand, the abnormality and extremity of the Trump/Pence regime and people’s corresponding revulsion at it. On the other hand, the normalcy of most people’s lives (particularly the middle class)—grounded in the relative stability of this country over a whole period of time (and post-WW2 U.S. imperial dominance)—and the habituated mode of living and of doing politics thru normal channels. All this as the normalcy begins to fray and unravel all around.*

As the talk says, “There is a sharp contradiction between people’s deep and profound revulsion at Trump and Pence including all the horrific things they have done, and, on the other hand, people’s illusions that rest on their relatively stable lives, including their experience and belief in the stable functioning of the government, its institutions and processes.”

And so people desperately cling to the belief that things can be dealt with thru those processes, and in a way that avoids the upheaval that’s required, which they don’t want and in many cases can’t even imagine. It is a very dynamic dialectical relationship between the stability and the illusions! The illusion that someone up there will deal with this problem excuses people from doing anything, and the desire to continue to go about one’s life breeds those kind of illusions... whether it be “checks and balances,” elections, the generals, Mueller, the metaphysical belief that it can’t happen here, and/or some non-existent grand referee that will not allow things to go too far. This leads to all kinds of moral degeneration. Acceptance of the “horrors you know rather than the horrors you don’t know.” Normalization, complacency, complicity, and even collaboration, as people gamble on the hope that the horrors won’t hit them and those they care about. When people retreat into “local” politics, isn’t that just another way of saying: Trump can murder millions of Koreans, ban Muslims, build walls to keep the Brown people out, plunder the ecosystems and Native lands, and I’ll just worry about me and the people I care about?!

People go through all kinds of contortions to make reality fit their hope that things can be resolved in an easier way... turning away from the larger reality, minimizing the danger, exaggerating the sorry state of “the resistance.” Think about how many people when Trump first came in said he won’t last a month, then said he won’t last three months, then six months. Recently, since the Flynn indictment, Colbert has been having so much fun joking about the orange jumpsuit and handcuffs Trump and his cronies are soon gonna be wearing. It’s hard to believe that someone, at this point in the game, could still get a crowd to laugh at those kinds of smug jokes—wishful thinking is a powerful drug!

What can you say about the students who were so concerned about whether their classes would be disrupted by people protesting against fascism, and most of all just wanted both sides to go away so they could go back to studying! Looking back from the vantage of this RF summation, BA really nailed it with his challenge about order or justice.

How else do you explain how hard these bourgeois democratic intellectuals are clinging to the (for them) fundamental principle of “free speech,” other than fear of upheaval and a desire to resolve things thru normal channels. They act like it’s Baldwin vs. Buckley in 1965 (this came up in a recent panel at Cal), and not Milo/Coulter as Goebbels in 1933. They say ridiculous things like: the truth will win out in the free exchange of ideas. With the barbarians battering at the gate, they hide from the actual context and power relations using ahistorical formalistic reasoning, and cling to what they feel makes America great. With [UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol] Christ and [UC Berkeley law school Dean Erwin] Chemerinsky staring down the barrel of Trump’s threats to de-fund and the Milo/Coulter/Bannon assault and the series of battles with fascist thugs in downtown Berkeley, they utterly capitulated. Chemerinsky’s bottom line argument for why you have to allow these fascists to speak is: it’s the law and we’ll be sued if we try to stop them. (What a morally bankrupt position! And also legally problematic, as [UC Berkeley law school professor] john powell pointed out, since there are in fact different rights/laws in contradiction with each other, even within the First Amendment. In fact, the university went above and beyond the law to facilitate the fascists coming while violating the free speech rights of those standing up to fascism! We need to do a polemic on this guy, especially since he is basically setting university policy, not just at Cal but across the country.) Chemerinsky also adds that any suppression of “free speech” will only aid the fascists in claiming victimhood, and ultimately any free speech restrictions will be used against the “left.” The logic of all this being, the only way to maintain order is by conceding to the fascists’ demands. Even the people opposed to the fascists coming and the university’s position framed things in terms of order and stability—protecting students’ ability to continue their education in peace.

At the same time, the reality of the situation continually asserts and re-asserts itself, and people who may have checked out for a bit are once again horrified and jolted back into political life. This has been a dynamic and contradictory process over the last year, with Muslim ban #1 and especially Charlottesville being major jolts, deepening revulsion and sense of the fascist nature of the regime, followed by normalization. There have been glimmers of (false) “hope”—the steps taken in the Mueller investigation, the Virginia and now Alabama elections, temporary defeats for certain Trump measures—and renewed illusions that Trump will be forced out (or at least contained), that we can ride this out, that we can fight these things piecemeal. There have been points when Trump temporarily adjusted his rhetoric (such as on his recent Asia trip); there were big efforts on the part of the regime to prevent a Katrina situation in Texas and Florida, and times when the fascists tactically retreated from certain things (like “free speech week”). But the Trump/Pence juggernaut has continued to push its fascist agenda forward on all fronts, and at an accelerated rate recently it seems.

People came out in the streets in massive numbers for the women’s march, the climate march, and science march, and in smaller numbers for a whole series of things—Puerto Rico, the trans ban, DACA, the tax bill, net neutrality, the national monuments in Utah, Jerusalem, etc—but overwhelmingly this has been in the framework of registering opposition. The outpouring in response to the first Muslim ban, in response to the attempts to overturn Obamacare, and following Charlottesville in Boston, SF, and Berkeley DID have the character of people determined that this will NOT go down. There has been confusion, chauvinism, and shameful silence from the people on Trump’s threats to Korea (and also his earlier missile attack on Syria, MOAB in Afghanistan, and the ongoing U.S.-backed genocide in Yemen).

The basis to mobilize the masses to break with their illusions, get out of their comfort zones, and hit the streets in an unprecedented, massive, sustained struggle to oust this regime lies in the extremity of the regime, what they’re doing and what they intend to do. The world historic challenge we face is to do this before it’s too late, before things actually get so extreme that, a) unconscionable and/or irreversible damage has been done to humanity or the planet; or b) fascism gets consolidated and repressive measures put in place to prevent people from rising up. With humanity standing at an all-around environmental tipping point, nuclear war looming, a genocidal logic in motion against “undesirables” and “enemies,” an ever hardening fascist social base, and a core of generals and pigs of various kinds united around Trump’s “America First” law and order fascism... “too late” could be any day now.

“The huge problem for all those who hate the Trump/Pence regime but aren’t, as yet, willing to break out of the normalcy of their lives and the political framework in which they conceive of affecting politics is that the world and life as they have known it is coming to an end if the Trump/Pence regime remains in power.” (From the opening talk of the December 10 Refuse Fascism conferences.) This is a provocative way to put it, and speaks to the principle thing we need to be hammering at in our agitation and actions—the necessity to oust this regime.

This also got me thinking about how this world and life as they have known it is coming to an end, period. I mean, what is the larger context in which Trump has come to power? The gutting of social welfare (in the U.S. and every imperialist country) because of global competitive pressures, the increased competition from Russia and China etc., the mess the U.S. has made in the Middle East and the challenge of Islamic fundamentalist jihadism, and the intensification of all the 5 Stops contradictions etc. Bernie galvanized the Dems’ base with a New Deal-type vision that has no basis in the world today. Hillary basically campaigned as the candidate of the status quo, which is what created all this mess in the first place, and couldn’t generate much enthusiasm. She was unable to really call out Trump, because her program shared essential assumptions and she was terrified about upheaval (already on display in Chicago and San Jose) and delegitimization of the whole system.

In this context, for sections of the ruling class and for people who want to hold on to their privilege, fascism becomes an attractive resolution. Even if Hillary had won, a) the fascists weren’t going to accept her legitimacy, and were in fact preparing to grab their “muskets and pitchforks” and march on Washington, and b) the ongoing workings of the system would continue to create conditions which the Democrats don’t have an answer for, and which would continue to call forth a fascist resolution. BA gave that interesting example of all these white people who voted for Obama cuz they wanted to declare this country “post-racial.” But the workings of the system continued to kill Black people every 28 hours and the fault line of rebellion against police murder and racism erupted.

In The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era, BA uses the analogy of two ladders connected at the top being pulled out and raises the question of whether the center can hold. I imagine Obama literally straddling a crack in the ground as it widens, trying to hold it together, saying to one side Trayvon coulda been his son and then to the other side calling Black youths in Baltimore “thugs.” Ultimately, Obama and the Democrats, as BA said, created “fertile ground” for Trump because they helped to create the illusion that America was post-racial with the logical conclusion that Black people have no right to complain. And when Trump came along, directly appealing to these people’s white male entitlement, pledging to restore law and order, they went for it, and the Democrats would not and could not call it out because their system also rests on white supremacy. Hillary’s one good comment about the “deplorables,” as a friend pointed out, was widely summed up by the Democrats to be a bad misstep which she never repeated again.

This kind of dynamic and polarization is obviously horrible... but, the “center not holding” and the Democrats unable to offer any real alternative or resistance to fascism, is also “fertile ground” for repolarization, for winning people away from the Democrats and toward our principal and fundamental objectives. At the same time, it seems to me that this dynamic also means that even if we succeed at driving the fascist regime from power, the threat of fascism and the fascist social base will be a significant part of the landscape until we make a revolution. Not only, as I’ve been saying, because these intensifying contradictions, and the Dems’ lack of answers, call forth fascism as a resolution. But also, because Trump has brought the fascist genie all the way out of the bottle and that can’t be undone. In the Coming Civil War BA repeatedly references Newt Gingrich’s analysis about how the U.S. was as irreconcilably divided as the period leading up to the Civil War. Well that’s even more true now! And as bad as the epistemology was amongst the fascist social base before Trump—the self-contained Christian fascist worldview, the “truthiness” of W. Bush and his big lie about Iraq (which a huge number of people believed)—it is way worse now. Bush lied, but Trump blatantly lies, and his base loves it cuz it serves their political ends. In the Coming Civil War, BA analyzed that “you can’t keep making promises [to the Christian fascists] and then leave them unfulfilled... There is a certain tension there that will rupture beyond those bounds at a certain point.” Well, it’s ruptured...

What would it take, for example, for the Democrats—the party of Bill Clinton (who passed NAFTA and militarized the border) and deporter-in-chief Obama whose system has created the desperate conditions that compel people to come here—to really call out Trump for his ugly xenophobic attacks on immigrants? It would require forcefully asserting the full humanity of immigrants and giving them rights, which the ruling class can’t do, because they also need immigrants living in a state of terror so they can regulate the flow of immigrant labor and super exploit the ones that make it here. It would require creating real sanctuary cities and states which prevent ICE from rounding up and deporting immigrants. Instead the Democrats are sucking up to Trump to get a deal for the “good immigrants” while selling their families down the river... You can walk thru almost any crime of the Trump/Pence regime and see why the Democrats are unable and unwilling to forcefully oppose it. BA also does this about abortion in that same Q&A.

Right now there’s all this talk about Black people, Black women in particular, being so decisive in Alabama. There’s a hue and cry for the Democrats to finally change their campaign strategy, from taking Black people for granted while trying to appeal to “swing voters,” to more directly energizing and appealing to Black people. This would mean emphasizing things like racial discrimination and criminal injustice.

This seems like a more logical approach right? Wrong! Not if you’re a ruling class party that requires criminal INjustice. Doug Jones kind of epitomizes the mainstream Democrat position, emphasizing “kitchen table issues such as healthcare and the economy,” calling for “bipartisan solutions to those issues, and pledging to find “common ground between both sides of the aisle”. He stakes out a position just to the left of fascist lunacy... he wants to reverse mandatory three-strikes laws for nonviolent offenses and opposes additional restrictions on abortion, saying current laws are sufficient.

I had an interesting back and forth with a friend about all this. She recognizes the bad role the Democratic leadership is playing now... She thinks it’s cuz they’re habituated to politics as usual and don’t get that we’re in a new situation. When I laid out why the Democrats do what they do, using their consistent support for Israel (a point Trump tweeted about) and in particular Schumer’s support for Trump’s Jerusalem move as an example, her initial response was to ask, “Are you saying only people who are totally against capitalism can fight fascism in the way that’s needed?” I said no, people can fight it ferociously proceeding from their own bourgeois democratic principles, that I was just talking about why the Democratic Party leadership does what it does. This obviously points to the need for a deeper discussion about the class nature of politics, and the difference between the Democratic Party ruling class and their base.

Anyway, even tho the RF talk didn’t explain all the deeper reasons why the Dems can’t be relied upon, it did make it clear that they can’t be relied on and did exposure about the harmful role they are playing. It also made clear that along with actions/exposure of the fascists, we also need actions/exposure against the Democratic leadership. And it encouraged people to dig into the BA talk, which does provide the deeper analysis. All this is important guidance in recognition of what we’re up against in terms of the Democrats’ role in sucking people into official channels (even more so as we get closer to the 2018 election) and fighting against people doing what Refuse Fascism is calling for.

Maybe in addition to our seven panels and other materials exposing the fascists, we need a fact sheet of Democratic Party leadership complicity and collaboration with fascism. Here’s some of what comes to mind:

In concluding, I feel we are at an extremely dangerous and very pivotal moment. We are in a potentially explosive moment when there is an attempt to impose a new cohering norm. Many people, because of demographic changes and technological changes and righteous struggles from the ’60s back to the Civil War, are repulsed by this. But for the reasons described in the RF talk, they have up till now “retreated into the illusion of a world where this is coming to an end.” You can see the outlines of the slow slide into normalization with everyone going along to get along (the disgusting display of sycophancy by the media when Huckabee Sanders demanded the say what they’re “grateful” for, comes to mind). You can also see the much more immediate danger of a war or an “incident,” with everyone rallying around the flag and rights curtailed. And yet, this is one of those moments when the whole world can turn on the actions of a small number of subjective forces... There are the actions of the regime that continually assault people and undermine the world as they’ve known it. As I finish writing this, it seems that the FCC vote to repeal net neutrality has really struck a nerve. There are the actions of other forces—the forces who are demanding impeachment, the women who are speaking out about Trump’s sexual predation and calling for an investigation, the vote in Alabama which was a blow in some ways to Trumpism (despite his attempts to walk back his support for Moore, but the fact that Moore was even a candidate and got so far was a sign of the strength of Trumpism), the Democrats who’ve funneled so much hope into this Mueller investigation... and what happens if Trump fires him, or sabotages the investigation in some way? This is a moment when we better be applying those six paragraphs on strategy, fundamentally proceeding from and bringing people a materialist understanding of things, hammering at the immediate reality of this extreme fascist danger and how we need to act now, and putting the contradictions to people in the way the RF talk did.

 


* While Nazism did not arise in the context of decades of stability and hundreds of years of deeply entrenched democratic traditions (quite the opposite), by the early ’30s they had achieved some stability, and even some prosperity (the shiny new paint on everything as Claudia Koontz talked about). Ultimately as we know, they not only put all of Europe thru hell but the entire German people... and that temporary stability was all part of Hitler’s preparation for war. Anyway, the RF talk made me think about the glaring contrast captured in the title of the book In the Garden of Beasts between daily life in 1933 Berlin, the diplomat strolling thru the beautiful sun-dappled Tiergarten, and the beastly Brownshirt atrocities happening throughout the country. That contrast, along with Hitler’s skillful normalization tactics (distancing himself from the worst atrocities, slowing/toning down at times), bred illusions and self-delusions. And shameful complicity, active and passive. One of the forms of passive complicity for writers who remained in Germany was called “inner emigration,” receding as much as possible from the world while waiting for Hitler’s regime to collapse. This is how some of my friends who have stopped watching the news are acting. Although people like this are unable to fully block out the larger reality, and are gnawed at by that contradiction. [back]

 

 

 

 


 

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Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

People Damn Sure Need To Be Brought Together To Stop Fascism… That’s Not Going To Be Smooth Sailing, But We’re On a Mission To Do That

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

RefuseFascism.org spoke with a woman in the Revolution Club who has been very active in organizing for Refuse Fascism, about her thoughts on the opening talk to the Refuse Fascism Mass Meetings – This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! This interview was originally posted at RefuseFascism.org.

 

Q: You heard the speech at a mass meeting, talk about your initial response when people discussed it.

A: OK, I remember just opening up, speaking about how bad this year has been, overall. But it is very important that so many people from different ages and backgrounds have come together to work on stopping this nightmare, in different stages. And we need to go back to some of that. I liked that the speech talked about some of that. I also talked about there have been moments in history where art, culture, you know, knowledge and stuff have just been lost. And this is actually a moment when that could happen and that’s part of what we’re actually trying to prevent from happening.

Because so many people were bringing up questions like how do we break people out of the normalcy. Actually, a lot of the questions they were asking were directly answered in the talk, and I referenced those questions. I was thinking how crucial it is for people to be reading this speech, and sharing it with others. There’s some guidance given about how do we actually go beyond these problems that are, way beyond just being dismayed or looking at them and being frustrated.

Q: What is your take on what’s said in the speech about what the movement has been up against? Let me read you a section of that, you might want to bounce off of:

“There is a sharp contradiction between people’s deep and profound revulsion at Trump and Pence, including all the horrific things they have done, and, on the other hand, people’s illusions that rest on their relatively stable lives, including their experience and belief in the stable functioning of the government, its institutions and processes. Even when people in this country’s personal situation is actually precarious, there is both the actuality of life here being relatively stable, and the illusory belief that it will always be so.

“Look, let’s get down on the ground. The progressive and more historically marginalized strata of this country expect that their interests will be taken care of by the Democrats. This is so, perhaps especially so, by those who want to reform the Democratic Party. There is a “faith” that is not substantiated by reality that Trump and Pence and what their regime is doing will be redressed by the Democratic Party. It will not. They, and others in power, will only act if and when they feel that they are losing the allegiance of huge sections of society. They will only act when the turmoil created by the people compels them to act on what is for them their greater interest in maintaining their system.”

A: I think that the stability point and actually getting people to accommodate to even some of the most egregious things, channeling through the processes, is very true, very sharp. A lot of people we’ve been running into, and even some of our own forces, are understanding – or – rationalizing what’s happening.

There was a point where I actually said, it’s on us to drive out the regime. That actually means us reaching out and breaking people of the norms. And that means working with people. Talking with people. It’s very clear that this kind of stuff isn’t going to happen on its own. And, there’s an importance of us all coming out of our own typical way of doing things, and learning how to do these things. Like Now! Because the need is so sharp. Especially since this isn’t something guaranteed. We’re seeing, very quickly people’s rights, their status, their, even their ability to live being snatched and taken away at an alarming rate. I feel like the speech really sharpened that up, talking about how this country has gone through, or how this country has had, a stable situation. And people aren’t used to seeing anything abnormal, and acting outside of the normal channels – because of that whole history.

Q: Could you explain what you meant by “we have to do things in new ways.”

A: People who take up the message of Refuse Fascism at any level – Democrat, Republican, whatever political alignment – we actually have to do the work. Not just get outraged at whatever’s happening, we have to be working on understanding that– there’s a lot of guidance on that at the website refusefascism.org – and leading others to act on what they understand. People aren’t used to talking to each other about these things, about politics, since talking politics is a “no no!”

Q: And can you follow up on the stability point, how you see that? This problem that even for people in a precarious situation, there is this faith that the Democrats will pull this out… How did listening to the speech change what you were thinking…

A: This is something we have been running into. It was something that we had been thinking about and working on. But actually, I guess, extracting that from just the point of basic understanding of how different sections of society think is a little bit different.

Q: What did you get from the speech in terms of what Refuse Fascism ran into in the wake of Nov 4? There are all kinds of theories on what the movement has been up against.

A: I think that the stability point is something we had not identified before. But the thing of people being channeled into politics as usual – is something that we did identify. Even people in the worst situations are also swallowed up in that because of how people are trained to look at things that way. It may seem like the people we’re struggling with don’t give a shit about anybody, even though it’s not exactly like that at all. But the way the speech walked through the stability point was the most, I would say, that was the most clarifying.

Q: The speech has a whole 3-prong plan: active investigation; ACT-UP type disturbing the normalcy; and it encourages Refuse Fascism chapters and supporters to watch and discuss the video of Bob Avakian’s talk, The Trump/Pence Regime Must GO! In light of some of what we’ve been talking about, what’s your thinking on the value of point 3 – of people engaging with that Talk?

A: I think it’s extremely crucial. Even for people just stepping in. Because through the Talk, BA [Bob Avakian] walks people through how this country got to where it is now. And in the Q&A BA digs into questions people have, and not in like a surface-level way. He’s training people to look at the world differently. And also, like, understand, there’s no shortcut to what we’re doing. This is, it’s, people actually have to rise up and drive this regime out of power, or, essentially, we’re, you know, screwed.

Not only that, it’s also an introduction to BA. In a way of, how do you work with and talk to people you don’t necessarily have the same political alignment with. That’s something some people have some trouble with, because they think the solution is we all have to agree in order to work with one another. And that’s not true. I mean, we do have to agree on what’s principal. But we actually can work things out to reach a deeper understanding. And people can change what they think, how they think. And it’s very needed that people engage this high level of theory, and not just theory. It’s just really important. I remember we watched a lot of this in the buildup to November 4, in the Revolution Club.  We’d watch a couple of the Q&A questions and discuss them. And this would actually get us kind of geared up, going into different sections of society. What do we need to keep in mind? What problems are we going to be running up against that we need to break through on?

And one of the questions a lot of people have is how do we sustain the movement. The way that one is answered, it puts it very clear to people, that people actually have to understand what they’re doing, and what they’re about. They can have a certain amount of understanding and join in. But deepening that understanding will change how you act and respond. And that’s a crucial thing in this whole process.

There’s this other point in the Talk which I thought was very good, because we are on the ground running into anti-communism. And there’s this point where BA says some people say you’re trying to trick people into becoming communists, and he kinda answers that, by saying, but nobody says that about the Democrats, nobody says that to these other groupings. One, it’s not true. And two, it’s not actually wrong to explain things from whatever understanding you’re coming from. And also there is that point, “first they came for the communists…”

It can’t just be the case where, you know, very few people are actually working on this while the masses of people can actually understand this – the masses, the intellectuals, other sections of people – can understand the gravity of what’s going on, and how needed it is for them to act and reach out to people they’ve never talked to, never interacted with, and actualy lead them.

Q: Do you have experience to share on showing this Talk by BA to other people? Are there things especially that connected with people? Not just people coming from your perspective? Who should be watching this film? Any response to the Great Tautological Fallacy – the GTF – and whether America is really the greatest country in the world? Do you have thoughts on that? Or experience with that?

A: I’ve watched this film with different people, at different times. I remember, after watching it with this young queer woman, I guess she was bringing out the point that she didn’t really think about the fact of what America has,  – how if every country consumed what America has, it would take five earths to do that. The point of the excess, and how did people even get what we have. That was a point. And the point of looking critically at the history of this country how did we even get what we have? I think that point stuck in for her. And not just saying, Oh, slavery happened in the past. What was that!? What function did that serve? Sort of, I guess, the point of people here in this country actually thinking they’re better than people around the world. That was a point stood out.

Q: And this is not just history.

A: Yeah, I mean I think all this is directly connected to what is going on now. The Talk is very sharp and relevant to things that happened recently. In regards to that point, like if you look at what happened in Charlottesville – people aren’t sure what to take away from that, how to even understand that, from people thinking oh it’s just a bunch of racists, and not necessarily seeing the connection, to what’s been unleashed by this regime, and even the fact that this is connected to, this has a historical connection here.

Q: I brought up BA’s Talk because it is part of the 3-prong plan but also because it speaks to a lot of questions you were bringing up. But, circling back to the speech to the mass meetings itself, is there more you want to add to your thoughts about it? For people who have been part of this movement there was November 4, but it didn’t launch the movement that needs to be launched, and that has been disorienting, or a challenge to understand. And there are different views on what was run into. Have you had experience contrasting the analysis in this speech with other ways of understanding this. It’s unusual, very different, to really dig into what people were up against. Not just, “that didn’t work let’s try something else.” So do you have experience or thoughts to share on that?

A: Yeah, I think during the discussion, after the speech was read, listening to people talk about what happened, it was clear that this is something we’re going to have to work with people on–even understanding what the speech is bringing forward, and actually going into some of the questions, to help people understand some of what the speech brought forward. Because once the speech was over, the first questions or thoughts that were being raised were all criticisms of tactics, you know, tactical criticisms. What we’ve done… Did we do this? But not actually taking into account, you know, all that had happened, or even taking into account that it’s not necessarily, always the subjective when things don’t go where you want it to go. And you do actually have to think about that.

And in this case, what’s brought out in the speech, we do have this historical, [laughs], frankly, problem of sheepishness following. And the stability question. We’re going up against that. As well as all the attacks that were happening beforehand. And yes, some of the problems might have been on the subjective end. But that’s not necessarily where all the mishaps were. And actually the point is: what we called for wasn’t wrong! Even though it didn’t amount to what we wanted it to, it wasn’t wrong. Because what was happening? In the face of all this. Leading up to all this. What’s happening now? There is fascism that is consolidating. And people damn sure need to be brought together to stop it. That’s our mission. We can’t stop til it’s done. It’s not going to be smooth sailing, and we shouldn’t wish for it to be smooth sailing, either. We actually have to do the work, and try new things. Like it’s not going to be a step-by-step-by-step process. Who knows when we’re gonna break through. But we’re on a mission to do that. And everyone at every level needs to be on that mission, whether they’re first coming in and checking things out – everyone needs to be thinking, strategizing, working on these questions in a living way.

Q: Anything else to add?

A: Actually, I do want to say one more thing. I want to stress this point: everybody has to be talking and working with people, and working to bring them forward. And that it’s going to take everybody doing that in order for us to get like where we need to go, everyone working on the same problem.

At one point, I was talking with a woman who was talking about, leading up to November 4, some of her friends knew about it but they were talking about it and one of them said “this organization is violent” or something. And this other woman said, “I’m not gonna believe that until you show me the evidence.” It was really good. That’s a good answer, but not just answer, a way of approaching things. People should approach the world that way, no matter what their political alignment. And through that, in that way, people can change. I think it’s important that she said that, and actually that that is in the life of what Refuse Fascism is about.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/how-NYTimes-trains-you-to-be-Ignorant-arrogant-chauvinist-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

All The News That’s Fit to Print... in the United States of Amnesia

Three Examples in Just Two Days of How the New York Times—Yes, the New York Times—Trains You to Be Ignorant, Arrogant and Chauvinist

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The New York Times is relied upon by many progressive and thinking people for a more or less accurate rendition of what’s going on in the world. It is recognized as the “newspaper of record”—the more or less objective rendering of the most significant events in the world.

To be clear, the New York Times—unlike, say, Fox News—does not generally invent outrageous lies and then claim that they are true (though they did do quite a bit of damage by independently perpetuating the outright lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction—a lie which justified George W. Bush’s disastrous war against Iraq). And right now they are generally under attack from Trump for reporting some things accurately. Yet by what they choose to include, what they choose to highlight, and what they choose to conceal they do in fact train their readers in an errant methodology and an upside-down view of the world, as shown in the following examples:

Horror in Guatemala Where the Main Perpetrator Is Never Mentioned

Daniele Volpe’s article in the December 22 New York Times, “Decades After Civil War, A Dignified Interment,” describes a small portion of the crimes committed against Guatemala’s indigenous population. She writes “During the [civil] war, 70 to 90 percent of the villages in this area were destroyed, and 60 percent of the population was displaced, forced to flee and seek refuge in the neighboring mountains, according to a United Nations truth commission. The United Nations investigation estimated that around 7,000 of the Ixil, a Maya group, were killed.” She goes on to say, “The so-called scorched-earth policy against the Ixil intensified under Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, who took control of the government in March 1982. The army massacred entire villages, razing buildings and destroying livestock.” 

In this entire article, the words “United States” do not appear. Volpe does not mention the whole ugly history of the U.S. in Guatemala, going back now over a century. You can start that history with the land grab by United Fruit in 1906; by the 1930s, the United Fruit Company was the largest landowner in Guatemala. The role of the U.S. picked up in particular after the election of Jacobo Árbenz in 1954. Árbenz began taking back land from United Fruit and giving it to landless peasants. So the CIA engineered a coup to overthrow the Árbenz government, installing Colonel Carlos Castillos Armas, who was trained at the U.S. Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. Thousands of people were arrested and many tortured, and the land was returned to United Fruit.

By the late 1960s, more than 1,000 U.S. Special Forces were operating in the highlands of Guatemala, training Guatemalan military and operating alongside them. A guerrilla insurgency against the reactionary governments arose. More slaughter followed, but by the early 1980s, with all of Central America in upheaval, the U.S. backed Efraín Ríos Montt’s rise to power through a military coup. Ríos Montt stepped up the genocide against the indigenous people with U.S. support. Even after the genocide in Guatemala was becoming known internationally, U.S. President Reagan called Ríos Montt: “a man of great personal integrity and commitment. (See “American Crime Case #95: Reagan’s Butcher Carries Out Genocide in Guatemala”) 

Estimates are that more than 150,000 people have been murdered by successive Guatemalan governments who were receiving military, financial, and diplomatic backing from the U.S. But in the New York Times article this ugly and horrific history is totally erased and covered up. The real cause of the problem—U.S. domination and horrific genocidal repression through proxies—is not just covered over, it is never mentioned. The reader is left to “tsk tsk” and led to conclude how sad it is that “the people down there have never really learned how to be civilized”... as they peel a banana over their breakfast cereal, and turn the page to a Christmas ad selling expensive jewelry.

Environmental Catastrophe in Indonesia That Has No Culprit

The same day, the New York Times front page contained a heartrending and maddening article, “An Ultimatum for Jakarta: Redevelop or Drown.” This article describes the ways in which climate change has interacted with breakneck, unplanned development to not just doom the city of Jakarta down the road, but to fairly immediately throw the fates of 30 million people onto the scales. Corruption in the government is indicated. Yet there is no mention of the U.S. role in violently installing the violent, corrupt, neocolonial lackey regimes that have ruled Indonesia for over 50 years on behalf of their (mainly U.S.) imperialist overlords, beginning with a 1965 coup that was orchestrated and directly aided by the CIA. This coup overthrew one government, totally crushed the Communist Party of Indonesia, and murdered anywhere from half a million to one million people in the process. No mention is made of the ways in which the regimes brought to power by that coup opened the floodgates to imperialist investment of all kinds and inserted Indonesia into the world market in ways that have environmentally despoiled the nation.

Again, the readers are being left—and being led—to shake their heads at the insane policies “over there” that are leading to environmental catastrophe.

Nothing in these articles is a lie or “fake news.” Yet the truth is nevertheless being hidden, because the real relationships and causes are being hidden. 

But then turn a day earlier, to see how you are being trained to view the history within these borders. Look at the dean of the New York Times columnists, Thomas Friedman, and see if you will join us in saying:

Dear Thomas Friedman: Go Fuck Yourself

From Thomas Friedman’s December 20 column in the New York Times, “How Trump Made Putin’s Christmas”: “First, we’ve always educated our citizens up to and beyond whatever the main technology of the day was—when it was the cotton gin, which meant universal primary education.”

No, dear Thomas, the cotton gin—which was operated by the slaves themselves—meant the massive expansion of slavery. It meant 3.2 million people enslaved in the U.S. by 1850. It meant slaves subject to the “whipping machine”—for the main way productivity was increased was through whipping enslaved human beings every night if they did not meet their assigned quotas. Quotas which were constantly raised. (See The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, by Edward Baptist.)

Universal primary education?!? In actual fact, state laws forbade slaves from learning how to read. Any slave who dared defy that law was subject to murder or mutilation.

Leave aside all the other intellectual crimes of Thomas Friedman (for instance, supporting the war against Iraq, continually shilling for and whitewashing Zionism, globalization, etc.). What kind of gaping white supremacist mindset can allow the writing of such garbage? What kind of society is it when the liberals—yes, the liberals—can take someone who has proven himself either an ignoramus or amoral and make him among the most prominent of their pundits?

A society that is as bankrupt intellectually as it is morally.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/522/skybreak-a-party-on-the-basis-of-the-new-synthesis-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Excerpt from SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak

What Does It Mean, What Difference Can It Make, To Have A Party Organized on the Basis of the New Synthesis?

December 18, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In the early part of 2015, over a number of days, Revolution conducted a wide-ranging interview with Ardea Skybreak. A scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, Skybreak is the author of, among other works, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters, and Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps: An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women's Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation. This interview was first published online at www.revcom.us.

Ardea Skybreak Science and Revolution excerpts A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What Is New in the New Synthesis? The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic--A Visionary and Concrete Application of the New Synthesis Serious Engagement with the New Synthesis--The Difference It Could Make An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

AS continues: Once again, think of the real difference it could make if the new synthesis were to spread, were to be broadly engaged with, throughout society, and were taken up by revolutionaries everywhere. Many of the revolutionary communists today are people who came out of the great upsurges of the 1960s, including Bob Avakian himself. This was a very rich period. But there’s a tremendous need now for younger generations to take up this new synthesis, to work with it, to contribute to further advancing it, and to spreading it around the world. Again, I would use the example...besides the U.S. itself, I’ll use the example of the Middle East. What a difference it would make if significant numbers of people, including young people in these Middle Eastern countries that are in such turmoil...if, instead of choosing between either promoting American-style democracy and aspiring to either move to America or to build up a similar system in their own country (with all the horrors that are involved with that), or joining in with these nut-case Islamic fundamentalists and all  their horrible ways of trying to restructure society–if, instead of choosing one or the other of those no-good options, there were some significant blocs of people, including significant numbers of young people, who were delving into the new synthesis of communism, studying it, debating it, really grappling with it and figuring out how to apply it in the context of their own countries–this could provide a real alternative, a genuinely positive alternative. They would, of course, have to figure out what it means concretely to apply the new synthesis to the particular conditions of their particular countries and societies. But the key methods and principles of the new synthesis would apply anywhere. They could take that up, and it would provide a positive alternative to both those bad alternatives. It could become a rallying point in places of the world that are in turmoil, of which there are many.

Q: Continuing with the point you just made about the difference, the tremendous difference, it would make if younger generations took up this new synthesis, I did want to ask specifically what you think  it means that  there’s this vanguard party,  the Revolutionary Communist Party, led by BA, that bases itself on the new synthesis of communism that BA has brought forward, and the need for that party to grow and for people to join that party.

AS: Well, again, I would refer people to the website revcom.us, where there are some articles that get into why a vanguard party is needed. Why you can’t make a revolution without one. I think people would get a lot out of digging into some of that. And your question is a good question, because I think  it’s a question that  people don’t discuss  a lot, or not enough. How are you going to help make an actual revolution without being really disciplined and really organized into a revolutionary organization, in other words, a revolutionary party?  It’s not going to be enough just to function as atomized individuals or even to just get together with handfuls of like-minded individuals in a somewhat disorganized manner.

There’s a statement on the revcom.us website, Get Organized for an Actual Revolution. If you understand what an actual revolution is, what it involves–that it actually does require getting to the point where you can dismantle the existing state apparatus and replace it with a completely different state apparatus, different organs of power, that you have to seize power and organize society on a new basis with new institutions–how are you going to do all that without a very tightly cohered and organized body of people, who are very committed and dedicated to doing that and who are willing to function in a very disciplined and organized way? Many people would probably recognize the need for tight and disciplined organization later on, when things get to the point of military struggle, or things like that–people think about disciplined armies, and so on. But what about for the current phase  of things, where what’s mainly  involved is political  struggle, fighting the power primarily politically for now, working to unite people on that basis, and working to transform the thinking of the people, but doing so in a way that will lay the basis for being able to “go for the whole thing,” for the actual  seizure  of power, when the conditions exist for doing so? Even now, under the conditions of today, you’d better not just function in an individualistic way, or in a scattered way, like a bunch of disorganized individuals who sometimes work together and sometimes don’t, and who are constantly pulling in different directions and end up undermining even their own best efforts. Making revolution is a complex multi-faceted process which needs to pull together many different components of the struggle and keep them all pretty much on track and advancing in a certain direction. So you’d better be as unified as possible, you’d better all be pulling  in the same basic direction, and you’d better be recruiting more people and constantly expanding the ranks of the disciplined, organized body that can provide ideological and political strategic guidance and direction to ever broader people in society.

Q: And what does it mean  to have a party that’s based on the leadership of BA and this framework of the new synthesis?

AS: Well, a party is obviously made up of a lot of individual human beings, and not all of them see eye to eye on everything or understand things the same way or function all at the same level. And, as I said before,  I think  there’s a tremendous “gap” between Bob Avakian and pretty much  everyone  else. He’s like “miles ahead  of even the best of the rest,” as someone once said, in terms of people in the RCP as well as people outside the Party. That’s just objective  fact. But OK, we can work with that–first of all we can learn to more deeply value and appreciate what it is that BA has developed–that he has come to concentrate and that he is constantly modeling for others–which objectively puts him so far ahead of the rest of the pack, so to speak. We can do our best to learn from him, in particular by closely studying his whole method and approach to things. And we can work to at least significantly “narrow”  the gap, in an ongoing  way, including by having a good attitude about being led and learning from advanced leadership, and by actively contributing ourselves to continual grappling with the new synthesis and how to apply its key principles and methods in an ongoing way to further developing and advancing the movement for revolution.

People should understand better both what it means to be willing to lead, and what it means to be willing to be led. It should be a two-way street of mutual and inter-dependent responsibilities and the furthest thing from a passive or one-sided process. Being provided leadership, if it’s good leadership, doesn’t mean  that  you’re just being bossed around or given orders all the time! [laughs] That’s not leadership. Good leadership consists primarily in training people in overall orientation and method and approach, and in this way giving them the tools to contribute as much as possible themselves to the advance of the overall larger process and objectives, and to in turn train others to do the same.

And again, a revolutionary party has to function as a unified  body, which is why there’s a concept, democratic centralism, that people can read about in the Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Democratic centralism is not just a question of people following orders or being disciplined, although it is that, too, for instance in relation to things like carrying out assignments and responsibilities. But, democratic centralism involves much more than that. Democratic centralism is, most fundamentally, a scientific concept about epistemological discipline. It doesn’t mean  that  people are slavish. But it means that when analyses and syntheses are developed at leading levels, and strategies and methods for a particular period of work and for prioritizing things are being developed, then the Party as a whole should function as a unified body to take this out to the best of their ability into the world. Like good scientists who are working in a coordinated and disciplined way on a scientific  project. In this case, they’re working  on the project of transforming society, transforming the thinking of blocs of people, of fighting the power around egregious outrages, all in a disciplined and unified way along with the broadest numbers of people that can be united to do so, and doing all this in a coherent way. And then,  if Party members have differences and don’t agree with certain things, they have a responsibility to raise their questions or disagreements, in a systematic way, through the appropriate channels. This, too, is part of the scientific method and process.

You function in a united, unified way, but then internally people discuss and wrangle and debate and raise questions or disagreements and modifications, and so on, so that there is actually  a genuinely collective process. You know, there’s that  formulation of the RCP, that  the Party’s collectivity is its strength. It is of course being given centralized guidance: Guidance is being provided regularly to the Party and to the people around the Party who are interested in learning about this guidance and orientation. So, yes, the Party is being guided, it is being led. It is being guided by BA, including through his works, and it is being guided through the website revcom.us, through Party documents, and so on. So there’s definitely guidance, there’s definitely leadership, being provided. At the same time, people are not–and should not be–passive. People in the Party, at every level, as well as people outside the Party, should definitely be raising their own thinking, their questions, their disagreements, but in a substantial way, and in an appropriate manner. In a manner that will likely contribute in a positive way to the overall process. This doesn’t mean  that  you have to have a whole deep analysis of something before you can raise a question or possible disagreement, but whatever you raise should at least be with the right spirit. What I mean by saying that this should be raised in a substantial way and with the right spirit, is that it should not consist of a bunch of “nyaa-nyaa, crotchety-crotchety, complain-complain, I don’t like this, I don’t like that.”  You know what I mean? That doesn’t get anybody  anywhere. Even if it’s a simple question or a simple disagreement, it should be raised in the spirit that we’re all trying to get to a better world, and that’s what we should all be doing together.

That’s why, once again, I feel that  in the Dialogue,  Bob Avakian and Cornel West set a good example that other people should follow. They have some substantial disagreements, which they made clear. But they also identified substantial points of unity, and manifested a sort of joint moral conscience, in terms of fighting oppression. And so they could find the way to work together while still talking to each other and talking to the general public about what some of their differences are, and challenging people to grapple with that, not being afraid of seeing people grapple with that.

Q: So the Party enables people to collectively, in a unified way, apply the new synthesis of communism to reality, to grapple over that new synthesis and its application, and to further develop it.

AS: Right. Like a good team of scientists, with BA in the position of team leader, overall team leader, and with other people playing their roles to the best of their abilities, in accordance with their experience and understanding, and with the development of their ability to grasp and apply the scientific  method. It’s very much  as if you were trying to solve a huge scientific problem in the natural sciences–for instance, if you were trying to find a vaccine for Ebola, or trying to cure cancer, or trying to figure out how to turn back global warming, or trying to stop the deforestation of rain forests–and, in order to increase your chances of succeeding, you set about organizing and unifying a whole bunch of scientists to work together, at different levels, with different abilities, different levels of experience, but all united in their willingness to: work coherently together, using the best possible scientific methods; study and build off of the accumulated knowledge in their field so far; bring their own creativity and initiative to bear; and follow the lead of a team leader, who is best able to provide overall guidance and direction for the project as a whole, and who has demonstrated, and models for others, an especially advanced and developed level of knowledge, expertise, and methods relevant to the particular field, and to the problem to be solved.

Well, in the “field” of applying scientific  methods to “solving the problem” of emancipating all of humanity from the bone- and soul-crushing system of capitalism-imperialism, the person today who is best imbued with these qualities and most able to assume the responsibilities of team leader  is clearly BA. Again, this isn’t just my personal opinion–I believe this is a clearly demonstrable fact. There’s simply nobody else today working at quite this level. So we should consider ourselves lucky to be able to work with, to take guidance from, the person who happens to currently be “the most advanced expert  in the field,” and we should take full advantage of his overall guidance and leadership if we are serious about making revolution, in the right ways, and with a real chance of succeeding.

But everyone  does need to pitch in. Look, you go out into the world and you’re trying to transform material reality,  you’re trying to transform society, and of course sometimes you’re not sure what you’re doing, or you run into obstacles or you start going off track, or whatever. But you can learn  from all that,  too. Don’t step over it. If you do go off track, or if you run into problems, don’t just try to skirt it, ignore it, finesse it or just move on to the next thing. Instead, leave your ego out of it [laughs] and confront it, face it, figure it out. There are bound to be lots of problems and lots of mistakes made, and the problems you are having are probably shared by quite a few others. So let’s just talk about  it, let’s collectively learn from it, in order to keep getting better at what we need to do.

And if, on the other hand, people are doing things that are making breakthroughs, are making advances, don’t keep this to yourself  either. Don’t just think,  “Oh, how cool!” and then keep it to yourself. Report on what you are encountering, on what you are learning out in society, on what is actually advancing things and connecting with things. Because there will be important insights and new experiences that come from every level, including from people at the base of the Party and from the people outside the Party who work closely with the Party. But knowledge of this needs to be shared. You don’t want to squander any of that.

So, again, there’s the responsibilities of leadership and the responsibilities of the led, at whatever level. The responsibility of leadership at every level is to lead. The responsibility of the led is to take leadership, to follow leadership, with the orientation of not being slavish but of fighting oppression and working towards the emancipation of humanity. And, in the course of taking leadership, learn to be a leader yourself and spread that leadership and that revolutionary consciousness and organization throughout society.

Q: So, with the Party there’s a basis for this new synthesis to become  a material force in the world in a way that  wouldn’t be possible without this Party.

AS: Yeah, without an organized party, without an organized revolutionary movement, it would just end up being small numbers of people talking to each other behind walls.

Q: Returning to the work and the leadership of Bob Avakian, and the role he plays in the world, as you have said, this is very contended. There are some people who really love Bob Avakian and what he’s brought forward and represents and the role he plays in the world, and there  are some people  who really don’t like this. And I wondered if you could get into that further.

AS: I think that’s actually  a very important thing  to dig into more deeply, because there’s a lot you can learn  from digging into the reasons why so many people do love Bob Avakian and his work, and, at the same time, the reasons why so many people hate Bob Avakian and his work–or at least hate Bob Avakian, because, again, many of the “haters”  hate him without really knowing  his work–they typically don’t really study his work, they don’t really get into the specific arguments, they don’t really engage the analyses and the syntheses, they don’t come up with serious, substantial criticisms. What prevails, at least these days, among most of those haters is more in the nature of petty slanders, insults and personal attacks. It’s very low-level, low-minded kinds of attacks, and there’s a real shortage among most of those haters of any kind of substantial analyses of the societal problems that are being tackled and the solutions that are being proposed.

With a few exceptions, you don’t see people writing  papers or giving speeches that are really engaging what Bob Avakian is saying about the strategy for revolution, how to develop a revolutionary movement in the United States, why revolution is necessary and possible, how we could have a realistic chance of winning, what kind of society we could build up, and just how would we go about  it. You know, there’s a whole body of work that Bob Avakian has developed, over decades, with very substantial documents and analyses of these questions, and he’s done a tremendous amount of work to make this readily available. And yet these haters are not so much, in this period at least, characterized by people who really develop counter-arguments and substantial counter-analyses. It really is much more gutter talk and snark. And this has something to do with the prevailing culture. There are many people in the culture generally these days who seem to make it a hobby to tear down other people with petty slanders and insults. It’s all over the internet and stuff. But, with regard to Bob Avakian specifically, this takes the form of a tremendous amount of passionate vitriol against him. And you have to ask yourself: Why would some people so passionately hate someone who has spent his whole life dedicating himself to trying to serve the people, and to the emancipation of humanity? You can agree or disagree with his specific arguments and analyses, you can have substantial differences, and so on, and you can debate these and discuss these in a principled manner. But why on earth would you be trying to personally attack and tear down someone who has not been trying to promote himself or sell you anything or feather his own nest, or anything else of that  nature? Quite the contrary, he’s dedicated his entire life to serving the people and trying to come up with solutions to the horrors of the system and to being able to bring into being a new society that would be better for the vast majority of people in this country and the world. So why would anyone actually have such passionate hatred for someone like this?

And it’s important to make a scientific assessment of those kinds of tendencies, besides just recognizing the prevailing culture of snark, which is a disgusting feature in society more generally these days. Again, I feel you have to further explore why some of these haters, most of whom today don’t even bother to familiarize themselves with BA’s extensive body of work or engage it with any seriousness, are nevertheless so bent on spewing so much hateful vitriol in his direction. Why is that, really? And I think that, to get at what’s really going on with this, you have to ask those people  some pointed questions: What’s YOUR analysis  of the problem? What’s YOUR analysis of the solution? What are YOU putting forward, and arguing for? What kind of resistance are YOU organizing? What are YOUR strategic objectives? What kind of new society are YOU proposing and how are you proposing to get there? If you don’t think  this system  needs  to be overthrown and dismantled through revolution, then what program and solutions are YOU proposing? What is YOUR plan for getting rid of the incessant outrages and abuses generated by this system and built into its foundations, such as the police murders of Black and Brown people and the slow genocide of mass incarceration; the patriarchal culture of rape, degradation and dehumanization of women and denial of the right to abortion; the wars of empire, armies of occupation and crimes against humanity perpetrated on a regular basis by imperialism; the closing and militarization of borders and brutalization and dehumanization of immigrants; the accelerating and multi-faceted degradation of the global environment that is being driven by imperialism towards a literal tipping point of no return. What is YOUR solution to all this? What do YOU propose?

We should be confronting those haters with such questions. We shouldn’t let them  get away with spewing hatred to try to tear down and diminish BA, and by extension everyone working with BA, just because they themselves have nothing much of substance or value to propose. If they don’t like what BA and the RCP are analyzing and proposing, why don’t they just go do their  own work on solving the problems of humanity!

I think some of these people just want to keep one foot in the system, you know? Why are they kicking and screaming at the prospect of going towards a new society that could benefit the vast majority of people? Would they actually prefer to keep things as they are? This is particularly characteristic of some of the petit bourgeois strata, in other words, the people in the middle classes. Not all of them, of course, but some of the people in the middle strata want to keep at least one foot...Look,  by definition, that’s what the petite bourgeoisie is, right?  It’s the class that  sits in between the proletariat and the most oppressed at the bottom of society, on the one hand, and the ruling  bourgeois, the ruling  capitalists, on the other  hand. So they’re kind of in an in-between limbo, and it’s pretty common for many of them  to hedge their bets and try to keep one foot in both worlds–one foot in the current system,  because, if they’re being honest, they still kinda like living under this system, from which they still derive quite a few advantages and privileges; and one foot which, at least in their better moments, might be willing to step into the future, because many of them do recognize that this system is a horror for the people at the bottom especially, and many, again in their better moments, would sincerely like to get to a more just and equitable society. But they are often reluctant to upset the applecart and do what needs to be done to get there. So they remain torn. Some of them end up playing very positive roles and contributing  in various ways to the overall process aimed at emancipating the oppressed, the exploited, and ultimately all of humanity. But some of them get downright nasty and try to hold back, and tear down, those people and forces that are actually going forward and working on getting organized for an actual revolution and a fundamental change in the system running society. So judge for yourself.

And we can talk about  that  some more. But, I guess I’d like to ask people to think  for a minute about respect and about disrespect; about people who prove, over and over again, that they have principle and integrity, and a generous and broad-minded spirit, and who are trying to change the world for the betterment of humanity, versus, on the other hand, people who seem to spend a great deal of their time mainly tearing other people down, and spreading petty, snarky, vindictive slanders and insults and launching personal attacks while themselves having very little to offer people in terms of a viable and realistic way out of the horrors of the system, and very little to offer people in terms of a concrete plan for how to remake an entire society on a basis free of institutionalized exploitation and oppression. So, please, people, think about this contrast. Because it is burdensome and damaging when there are people who are always kind of nipping at your heels, trying to get in the way, and especially trying to get in between Bob Avakian and the people he’s trying to speak to–constantly nipping, nipping, back-biting, trying to tear down. Is this really what should be going on?

Have some principle, have some integrity. If you have disagreements on matters of substance, by all means write them up, make speeches, make analyses, make them known. If you have alternative programs and approaches, by all means bring them forward. But do it in a principled manner, with principle and integrity. Don’t go down in the gutter, nipping at people’s heels and trying to get in the way, trying to prevent them from connecting to the people they are trying to reach.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/522/digging-in-and-scientifically-summing-up-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Party Unit Discussion on Refuse Fascism

Digging In & Scientifically Summing Up

December 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA says the following about Party units:

Party units combine the strengths of their members and collectively approach the world, and making revolution, with sweep and rigor; imagination and thoroughness; creativity and perseverance; and struggle and unity. The unit is the principal site where members work to systematically grasp and apply, deepen and develop, and struggle over the line of the party. Units base themselves on the theory/practice/theory dynamic, leading their members in the ongoing process of knowing and transforming the world.

The following report, from a party unit made up of newer comrades, gives a sense of what this means—and has some important insights overall.

December 2017

We sat down with local leadership to discuss some of the questions that were forwarded to all comrades and Revolution Club members to help guide summation.

We began by discussing our overall thoughts provoked by the materials by BA, as well as other material on revcom.us and elsewhere, about the current situation. We’ve each individually been going back to different works of BA, articles on revcom.us, as well as other things coming from different perspectives that speak to the current situation but that don’t necessarily recognize the fascist character of the regime.

In going back to other works by BA in addition to the new talk, I was struck by the need to actually keep going back to what’s concentrated in the method. We have to take it up more fully and fight with people to go there and take it up. BA speaks in the new talk about how people who were all caught up in all this relativism now that Trump got elected feel that the truth matters. We still have to struggle with people about reality, how do we know what’s true, how do we change it. We’re under a fascist regime and we’re up against the urgent need to drive it out, but we’re running up against all kinds of problems. It’s all contradiction, the science is key, we need to have a scientific approach to everything, and it tends to get separated off too much. We’re communists in RF and if we’re trying to change reality our best chance to do so is to be scientific: theory, practice, theory all throughout. There is a pull to being overwhelmed by the actual shit that’s happening but they’re all contradictions. How are we going to deal with them? There’s that second to last question in Part 4 of the Q&As. We have to confront reality as it actually is and act with urgency but not in a frenetic way, there is a need for urgency on a scientific basis. It’s hastening while awaiting, but with a scientific approach, not just go go go.

X was moved to go back to “Unresolved Contradictions” and “The Truth about the Right Wing Conspiracy” piece off of what she’s been learning about students’ thinking. People are agonizing about the situation, students came out to protest Shapiro but [we had to argue]: would you ask pointed questions to people fighting for segregation if you were against it? They responded: not the same situation because people now have rights. People were separating off Ben Shapiro from the regime: “There are people who believe these things and if we don’t engage these people how are we gonna change their minds?” vs. an understanding of the regime. X was thinking about the need for people to understand the development of the situation and how we got here. Not just that Trump is a lunatic and the separation of powers are gonna save us. No, for decades, people have been working on this; a Christian fascist core has been going at this for decades. People aren’t seeing their program for what it is and how the fascists are seeing their necessity. That’s really important and clarifies a lot of shit, and we don’t go there enough with people. People need science and materialism. Why haven’t we gone there? I don’t know, there’s a separation where we’re not bringing in what we understand, e.g. the definition of fascism. Are we just using a more popular one vs. revcom’s definition? We rely on doing a lot of exposure on the horrors which is very important, but don’t enough make the case about how the checks and balances are being undermined and how society is transforming. Do we really understanding that enough? Do we pay attention to what the fascists are doing? Not sufficiently.

Y was speaking to how she’s been thinking about the talk and why is it that BA gets into the questions that he gets into. These are the questions that are on millions of minds and how even with us we don’t see it in a way where it needs to get to millions. That millions of people are agonizing over these questions and where they actually engage this talk it can have an impact on how people understand things and move them to act. We don’t know how people in the club see this film, we don’t think that people [in the club] are asking those questions: Why does BA speak to what he does? And it’s not just a matter of repeating what BA says, but bringing it straight to them for them to engage. We need to appreciate that this film is for millions and the core should be deepening our understanding and leading people to go back to and watch it themselves because it’s important. Why is BA speaking to those questions, those questions are what people are running up against, what’s paralyzing people from acting, not understanding in a scientific way where this regime came from? It didn’t come out of nowhere, they weren’t under a rock somewhere, it’s been building up to that. The talk traces examples of how even in a period where things were supposed to be OK, they were openly doing shit that is exposing itself, small steps of how things have been building up. People get Bush, then Obama and now Trump. The history of capitalism and white supremacy has everything to do with where we are now. It goes up against how Trump is viewed—not an egomaniac, stupid, he’s going to fail—but he’s actually dangerous and BA walks through why that is.

X spoke about reading an article in The Atlantic that’s titled “The Nationalist’s Delusion.” It speaks to a long held strategy in American politics where racism is disavowed but racist agendas are carried out. All men are created equal and yet they had slavery, segregation, etc. Even critics look to find different explanations for Trump’s election, “economic anxiety” or things like that, but not white supremacy. You can see how bound up this is with American chauvinism and why BA went there in the new talk when speaking to the fact that it’s not the greatness of western civilization but the fact that capitalism developed differently in different countries. It’s possible to say that people have gone further right in mainstream politics, but it’s not the case that people have gone further left. In reading the revcom piece “Why the Democrats’ Victories Do NOT Spell the End of Trumpian Fascism...” while it’s not fully getting into the history and development of fascism, it does provide evidence for people on how coming under the banner of the Democratic Party is so harmful, that going further right is actually the strategy for the Democrats. We have to make the case and provide evidence for people: why what is happening is happening, why the illusions people have are illusions and lay bare evidence for that.

American chauvinism: really understanding history and reality of white supremacy... something people really need to understand and why BA spends so much time on that part.

I was thinking about why did BA go at the GTF. I remembered I said something about U.S. crimes and [someone I was working with in RF] said, “You can’t say that to people, we understand that, but people out there won’t.” But American exceptionalism, chauvinism is in the way of people confronting this is a fascist regime, it’s what’s behind the “it couldn’t happen here” thinking, and all the faith people have in this system even though it is this system that brought this forth. If people confront the actual history of this country and what it has done, then it is not so unbelievable that they would seek a fascist resolution to unresolvable contradictions. There has to be unity/struggle/unity not just unity and avoid struggle for the sake of unity. It’s not just about being anti-American and be just like “fuck them” because we want to provoke an argument, but here’s a contradiction. It’s not because we’re stubborn on this point but it’s a big obstacle in people’s thinking, it’s getting in the way of people being able to recognize the immediate danger. The point isn’t that we have to get into the mode of production in every instance of a conversation when we go out to people and struggle with them to take up the mission to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, but we do have to get into the actual history of this country.

Y had made a point about the need to lead with BA and not just playing it for people but having people actually engage with what BA is putting forth and this made me think of the last showing the Revolution Club did of the talk. There was a lot of back and forth with a couple of people who showed up and watched the entire talk and three of the Q&As but it was too much people putting forward what they understand and not leading people to go back to what we just watched. Leading with BA doesn’t just mean playing the talk for people and then having a whole separate conversation that doesn’t involve taking people back the substance of the talk and engaging with BA. BA says that a lot of people who don’t agree with him have to be part of the movement to drive out the regime or else it won’t be what it needs to be, but what’s in the talk is not limited to what most people who need to be part of this will agree with.

When talking about what brought people out and what kept them away on the 4th, X spoke to how we did identify the fear, that people heard about fascist attacks and how there was confusion about November 4. We also heard about the civil war thing, the fascists who said they were going to come armed, etc. We heard about this from a couple people, one thought November 4 was a hoax. This person did end up coming to November 4, a socialist type person. Another person, undocumented, had a fear of physical attacks.

One student was motivated because she felt like others are not relating to the situation in a way that is commensurate with what is happening. All the normalization has motivated her further. We did the burning of a MAGA hat, and we’re talking about what’s up, and people were just walking by, including progressive people. She said it’s going to affect a lot of people but they’re not acting on that. She has a visceral outrage at what’s happening, but at first she lacked political understanding that this was a transition to fascism—but when she read the panels, especially the one on civil liberties, “oh shit, not just the attacks, something else... and we really have to respond.”

Something else that held people back was people seeing Trump as failing. Including citing health care stuff and the Mueller investigation. “See, there’s opposition. He’s trying to do stuff and he’s not being successful” and that’s people just looking at Trump, not the whole regime.

Y talked to a woman who’s a veteran that was at November 4, she heard about it, knew the message behind it. She heard an interview where someone made the point that everyone of different viewpoints was welcome. She thought it was important, the unity, people coming together from different perspectives... She said she was glad she hadn’t known of the threats because that probably would’ve stopped her from coming out, but now that she saw the outcome she was glad she showed up. She said she wouldn’t have come out because she didn’t want to confront the fascists. She saw the clip from the veteran who spoke at one of the rallies. She’s proud to have served in the military, she wasn’t on the ground in the way that he was so she saw different things. Y told her that she says some of the same things as the fascist about loving this country and wanting to fight for it but the fascists are standing for white supremacy and she’s not. But still she’s conflicted because they both love this country; she doesn’t like to sound like them because people will conflate. She disagreed about the history of this country but she was coming at it from her own experience. Her parents were immigrants and she was able to go to college, from her perspective the U.S. treated her and her family well. It’s contradictory because she does see how other people are being fucked over by this regime and she feels responsible, she’s not for white supremacy but she knows that when she talks about the U.S. she sounds similar to those who are.

Other people who did come out on November 4 knew that the fascists were going to be there and came to defend people and stand with others who were stepping out. Even for ourselves, it’s been understanding the necessity and stepping out based on that understanding. There has been real fear about going out and getting hurt and it’s interesting that everyone was thinking about it but nobody said anything till afterwards.

X said that the idea that Trump is failing has a lot of weight, it’s a big thing on campus and in society. Their assessment isn’t based on anything solid other than he failed at health care. We have to fill the gaps in people’s understanding and make the case about what this is and why people need to step out. It has to do with what runs through the entire talk, people will only step out if people recognize the necessity to do so, what’s it going to take to stop it and make a decision about how to relate to it all.

We had a meeting with the Rev Club that we had to go to and didn’t go on much longer because of it, but there are important things that should be returned to.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/521/opening-talk-refuse-fascism-december-10-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Opening Talk, Refuse Fascism, December 10, 2017

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

December 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is the text of the opening talk given at Refuse Fascism mass meetings around the country.

“The Trump/Pence Regime is a fascist regime. Not insult or exaggeration, this is what it is.

For the future of humanity and the planet, we, the people, must drive this regime out.”

RefuseFascism.org was formed one year ago, one month before Trump was inaugurated. This is what we said then. Every agonizing infuriating day since, this basic message and mission has been borne out.

The National Office of RefuseFascism.org has prepared this talk to open a discussion of what our organization set out to do, and why; to get into what we have achieved and what not, and why; and finally what we need to do now. After we discuss this talk, there will be two shorter talks followed by discussions digging further into what we are proposing for the next 6 weeks.

As we meet today, immigrant communities around the country are living in terror of having their families and lives torn asunder. Arrests of immigrants are up 43 percent this year. Trump’s Travel Ban is in effect.

Wild fires rage in California caused by almost no rain this year. Three devastating hurricanes tore through this country in 2017, and Donald Trump, with the arrogance of a racist colonialist overlord, threw paper towels at the people of Puerto Rico. Today, months later, most of the island has no electricity. In the face of this and overwhelming scientific evidence of global warming, the Trump/Pence Regime has ripped up every environmental protection regulation they can get their filthy hands on, including pulling out of the Paris environmental agreement, which, weak as it is, is the only international accord to reduce global warming.

Donald Trump has ratcheted up the danger of cataclysmic nuclear war—threatening to rain down “fire and fury” and “totally destroy” North Korea. One year ago, Refuse Fascism’s Call to Action also said that “because Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger, the Trump/Pence Regime is more dangerous to the world than even Hitler.” This too was true then, and ominously, is truer still today.

Our founding Call to Action also recognized that “Fascism has direction and momentum. Dissent is piece by piece criminalized. The truth is bludgeoned. Group after group is demonized and targeted along a trajectory that leads to real horrors. All of this has already begun under the Trump regime. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.

Is this not still the case?

Last August, recognizing that millions feel in their bones that this Nightmare Must End, Refuse Fascism called for nationwide protest marches and gatherings on November 4 that would BEGIN a process in which people would continue to protest in different ways everyday, growing and building, so that the thousands who came out on November 4 would draw forward tens, and then hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions of people—determined to not stop until the demand was met: that The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

We based our call on the reality that the situation was (and still is) so extreme, so dire—with tens of millions of people in this country sick at heart because of the grave danger that the Trump/Pence Regime poses to lives here and around the world—that it was, and remains possible that masses of people would reorder their lives and rise to act with the determination to protest day after day and night after night. For only by protesting in a way commensurate to the threat of impending fascism could it be stopped.

On November 4, four thousand people came out in 20+ cities, and did so in the face of fascist threats broadcast on media and the internet. In three cities our marches faced vicious armed fascists who came to threaten and possibly harm those who dared to march with Refuse Fascism.

November 4 was a significant harbinger of what is needed: an inspiring day, the most significant demonstration to demand that the whole Trump/Pence Regime be removed from power. The bravery, conviction and determination of this protest should give every person with a conscience, hope. But, November 4 did not launch the movement of continuing, growing mass nonviolent protest. This was and still is urgently needed if humanity is to stop the consolidation of fascism in the world’s most powerful superpower.

The numbers of people were just not there. There were way too few prominent voices of conscience—people who have the platform to be heard and who are listened to by millions. There were not enough of the organizations who have been fighting against the different attacks of the Trump/Pence Regime representing on the streets. November 4 involved many students, but the schools and colleges did not come out en masse.

We said from the formation of Refuse Fascism that only the people taking to the streets with courage and conviction, acting outside the framework of the normal political processes of this country—elections, hearings, etc., could bring a stop to what is a highly abnormal situation—a full out fascist regime that is shredding norms and remaking society and government. Under the signboard of Make America Great Again, the Trump/Pence Regime is forging an American fascism: Manifest Destiny and American exceptionalism, a fascism wrapped in the Bible taken literally and the American flag, saturated with racism, misogyny, and xenophobia. The Refuse Fascism Call to Action says that fascism is more than a “gross combination of horrific reactionary policies ... [that] What is crucial to understand is that once in power fascism essentially eliminates traditional democratic rights.” At a certain point, which could come sooner than most people recognize, it could become too late to stop—with dissent locked down, and a populace accommodated to the new norm of fascism.

Refuse Fascism recognized that to stop this juggernaut the whole regime must be driven out. With Trump the demagogic ringmaster, and Pence the medieval minded Christian fascist standing beside him, they have assembled a vicious cabal that controls and is remaking every department of the executive branch. The fascist Republican Party controls Congress, two-thirds of the state governments, and is packing the courts. They are shredding norms of truth, science, separation of powers and church and state, and more and worse, all with no serious opposition from the Democratic Party leadership. Even after millions signed a petition for impeachment, even after a Republican senator who is leaving the Congress said that Trump has put the country on a path to World War 3, the Democratic leadership said: impeachment is not on the table—now, and even after 2018.

Refuse Fascism has put forth that it is only the determined mass action of the people that has the potential to stop this. Doing so by ultimately hundreds of thousands and millions engaging in mass protest day after day, growing in numbers and determination, with the aim of creating a nationwide political crisis such that, as the Call for November 4 said: “every force and faction in the power structure would be forced to respond to our demand. The cracks and divisions among the powers already evident today would sharpen and widen. And, that “As we drew more and more people forward to stand up ... all of this could lead to a situation where this illegitimate regime is removed from power.”

This we were not able to launch on November 4. This is the mission that remains to be accomplished. So, let’s dig deeper into this.

We must dig into this not for ourselves alone... and not by ourselves, but as an integral part of the struggle to drive out this regime. We must squarely, honestly confront the necessity that bears down on humanity and together carve out the way forward. We do this because “In the name of humanity, we REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.

Stepping back and taking a wide view of what happened and what didn’t on November 4, reveals that people did not take to the streets in massive numbers or with the determination to stay in the streets to drive out the regime because they are used to a certain way of life, a stability that comes from living in a country that hasn’t seen a war on its soil in 160 years and not a major upheaval in half a century.

The reality we confront is that most people in the middle classes, who have been the most vocal in their upset and outrage at the regime, have a mode of living that, as yet, they have been unwilling to disrupt. People have become habituated to having others take care of political and governing matters for them, except for maybe pulling a lever and voting every few years. Even the majority who don’t vote, were not yet ready to cast aside the normalcy of their lives, even as that normalcy is beginning to fray and unravel. This underlies why many people really welcomed the Refuse Fascism basic message, and really hate the Trump/Pence Regime, yet refused at this point to break with the norms and the framework of politics as usual.

We have been and still are working on the contradiction between the relative stability of most people’s lives in this country and their deep and profound revulsion and turmoil over the horrific actions and future of the Trump/Pence Regime. We were not able to move a sufficient number of people to do what must be done. The huge problem for all those who hate the Trump/Pence Regime but aren’t, as yet, willing to break out of the normalcy of their lives and the political framework in which they conceive of affecting politics, is that the world and life as they have known it is coming to an end if the Trump/Pence Regime remains in power.

We must say once more, that because Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger—without any constraint from anyone else in government or the military—the stakes of people remaining complacent, the price of accommodating to the developing fascism, the going about daily life and effectively normalizing that which is not normal, could well be the future of our species and planet. And, we repeat, this not exaggeration.

People have been trained to see that all that is possible is to cheerlead, hope for, or work with the Democratic Party. Over and over on the media major issues are framed and reframed in terms of Republicans vs. Democrats with eyes focused on the next election even before the previous is over.

We must say to people: Don’t listen to those who tell you that this regime can be dealt with in normal ways—whether through elections, special prosecutors, or a change in Congress. We must say this, and we must make the case.

Does this mean that the situation is hopeless? That people will never move? NO!

There is a sharp contradiction between people’s deep and profound revulsion at Trump and Pence, including all the horrific things they have done, and, on the other hand, people’s illusions that rest on their relatively stable lives, including their experience and belief in the stable functioning of the government, its institutions and processes. Even when people in this country’s personal situation is actually precarious, there is both the actuality of life here being relatively stable, and the illusory belief that it will always be so.

Look, let’s get down on the ground. The progressive and more historically marginalized strata of this country expect that their interests will be taken care of by the Democrats. This is so, perhaps especially so, by those who want to reform the Democratic Party. There is a “faith” that is not substantiated by reality that Trump and Pence and what their regime is doing will be redressed by the Democratic Party. It will not. They, and others in power, will only act if and when they feel that they are losing the allegiance of huge sections of society. They will only act when the turmoil created by the people compels them to act on what is for them their greater interest in maintaining their system.

While it remains true that Refuse Fascism is still not known by all of society, many people did know about November 4. Everywhere we went overwhelmingly people responded with enthusiasm to Refuse Fascism’s slogans and Call—carrying signs in demonstrations, contributing to the New York Times and Washington Post ads, and in many other ways. But, when considering whether or not to risk upheaval in their lives and in their beliefs to really throw in with what is objectively required to stop the unfolding fascist consolidation of the Trump/Pence Regime, they retreated into the illusion of a world that is coming to an end.

We should be clear eyed to the training and, it should be said, indoctrination. Every day people are being told by the Democratic Party leadership and those, such as MSNBC among others in the media, as well as political and service/NGO type organizations, who themselves rely on and in turn promote reliance on the Democratic Party, to NOT do what Refuse Fascism was and still is calling for. To not be in the streets, to not stir the beast of the fascists, to not undermine their electoral efforts to appeal to swing voters, to not think and act outside of the framework of politics-as-usual and, let’s be honest, to perhaps begin to question why the Democrats have conciliated with these fascists over a long period of time, or even begin to question the whole set-up.

They are telling people to deal with this in normal ways—wait for the Mueller investigation, and please, don’t do anything to hurt our chances in 2018 or 2020. Refuse Fascism has truthfully pointed out that (1) this could well be too late to prevent a catastrophic war, environmental devastation, the terror and uprooting of the lives of millions of immigrants, ending the right to abortion and many other horrors, including even more draconian laws shutting down dissent; and (2) these fascists are working overtime to strip away voting rights especially from Black people and Latinos, along with a whole historically based racist rural electoral setup so they have a lock on elections. NO! It is deadly to fall for this when confronting the consolidation of fascism. We have to make the case that the only way forward is TO VOTE WITH YOUR FEET IN THE STREETS.

In sum, we need to discuss why it is that we have to continue and persevere in making the case through what we say, what we write, and most importantly through what we do, so that people confront the necessity that they and all of humanity face with the consolidation of fascism by the Trump/Pence Regime. And, why on that basis, what Refuse Fascism is organizing and building towards is the way to make the change that is necessary—driving out the Trump/Pence Regime from political power.

We should discuss and understand, and we should bring out to people all across the country, that the basis to remove the Trump/Pence Regime ultimately lies with them. Refuse Fascism is prepared to throw its all into this. We are prepared to lead together with others. There is a place for everybody, for diverse organizations with many different purposes and understandings who recognize, or can be won to recognize, that only the people acting together with determination in the streets to compel the removal of the Trump/Pence Regime from power can stop the consolidation of a fascist America.

Before concluding, we believe that this contradiction, between people’s revulsion at the Trump/Pence Regime and their unwillingness at this point to disrupt the relative “normalcy” of their lives, is the main thing we didn’t break through on for November 4 to succeed. There were other factors that contributed as well, such as we needed to get enough of a critical mass of people and organizations so that the audaciousness of our plan and mission felt viable to people. People told us that they were afraid because of all the rumors of what the fascists might do. These are real issues that need to be addressed, but they live in the larger problem of which we have spoken. For there are many times in history when people overcome fear and defy the odds when they recognize the necessity to act in extraordinary ways.

We should discuss and begin this summation at this meeting. It is a summation and process that will continue. And, at the same time, we need to move forward. Our analysis of the Trump/Pence Regime is correct and borne out every day. Our mission and objective of driving the regime from power by the mass nonviolent action of millions of people is what needs to happen.

To that end the National Office is proposing the following plan for the next six weeks, until about the end of January.

There are three prongs to this plan.

# 1: A key element of the next period is one of outreach, active investigation with many different kinds of people and organization; ideological struggle over the necessity humanity faces with the Trump/Pence Regime and what is the way forward; and polemics on social media and our website comparing and contrasting different analyses and solutions. Over the next period we need to be actively struggling and learning—summing up the first year of the Trump/Pence Regime and the resistance and struggle we called for. We should do this not just among ourselves, but together with people very broadly. This should be a period of broad outreach and ideological struggle and learning (in relation to each other). Very important, through this process we need to further build and grow Refuse Fascism and forge principled unity with other organizations and communities opposed to this regime.

# 2. Refuse Fascism needs to continue to lead struggle. Particularly we need to initiate actions that sharply expose the regime and its crimes and why it must go. And, we need to act in ways that sharply expose why that the Democratic leadership provides no answer. Here we should look at how the DACA young people went to Nancy Pelosi’s office and exposed how she was bargaining their families’ and their communities’ lives for their status and they were not having it. In such actions we should learn from the actions of ACT-UP in the early 1990s. And, Refuse Fascism should participate in, work in coalitions, that are consistent with our mission on protests on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.

We also need to be involving many new people in spreading the message of Refuse Fascism and raising the funds for this great cause.

___________ will speak after we discuss what I have presented here a vision of this whole point.

# 3: The National Office encourages chapters and people checking out Refuse Fascism to watch and discuss the film of the Talk and Q&A by Bob Avakian, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible.

This talk and Q&A speak to many of the issues that people confront and raise.

So before opening up the discussion, let me close with what we have said for over a year, and remains as true as the day first written:

“Let it not be said that we did not move heaven and earth to drive out this regime. This must be a moment in history when millions stand together with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to resist and say NO! Not just for ourselves, but in the name of humanity.

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

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/521/rf-talk-first-prong-of-the-6-week-plan-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Speech by Refuse Fascism:

The First Prong of the 6 Week Plan —December 10, 2017

December 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is the text of a second speech prepared by the National Office of Refuse Fascism for the mass meetings this week around the country.

The earlier speaker spoke about how it is true that we are confronting a fascist regime and that the only way to stop it before it becomes too late is for the people in their millions to go into the streets and stay in the streets until this single unifying demand is met: This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

What I want to speak to now is: What is to be done? I am going to lay out a basic plan for the next weeks or so, from now until January 20, the anniversary of the inauguration. This is going to be a period of transition, learning and developing a plan for the next phase.

The National Office has proposed three main things that Refuse Fascism should be doing.

(1) First, we need to spread the word about this movement everywhere to friends, family, community groups, and others. We need to be doing active social investigation and outreach.

All this will overlap with the National Tour being planned in January, but also needs to go on throughout the next six weeks and should involve all of us in different ways.

Active social investigation means reaching out to many different people and organizations. This should include people we have worked with before and others we have not yet been able to talk with.

We need to be talking to people, sharing with them the understanding that this is a fascist regime and only the people mobilized in mass, sustained, nonviolent protest eventually involving millions demanding “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” can drive out this regime and end this nightmare—and exploring how others see this. As we do, we need to struggle with people over the differences that truly matter and wherever possible to strengthen our unity to rise to what is demanded of us. This will involve calling on them to join with us, strategizing with those who do see the dangers to actually get with the only program that can end this, and struggling with others who are stuck in a path that can only lead to conciliation and accommodation.

There are many levels and ways of doing this, from getting up signs/posters in storefronts, on lawns or house windows, broad distribution of our Call in the public square, at meetings of social and political organizations, cultural events. There is sharing this with family and friends over the holidays. There is spreading this message on social media: @RefuseFascism, and many other creative ways.

Raising funds is an urgent necessity but also an important form of political work and active social investigation.

It is still the case that most people do not know about Refuse Fascism even after November 4, they are not yet aware that there is an organization that has clarity of what we are confronting and has the plan to fight against it.

(2) The second thing our National Office has put forward is that we need to be taking action in ways that challenge the complacency and normalization of fascism in this society.

Protests and actions that break the silence and bring the noise, that “disturb the air,” draw sharp dividing lines for what people need to confront and act on, and that break people out of complacency. No one associated with the Trump/Pence regime ought to be allowed to appear in public without being challenged and politically confronted over the crimes they are committing. People need to be standing up against the ICE raids, even when they happen in the predawn hours. People need to be sitting-in at the offices of the officials who are packing fascists onto the federal courts. People need to be hounding  every agency and public person associated with throwing away the lives of the Puerto Rican people, with ripping up women’s reproductive rights, with spreading fascist propaganda like Trump’s  anti-Muslim tweets. (And, by the way, protesting places like Twitter for keeping Trump’s account open even when he violates their policy by directly threatening to murder 25 million North Koreans.)

Why is this so important? First of all, if we understand that people have to take to the streets day after day with determination and courage, we have to model that. Actions that break out of the constraints of “acceptable protest and usual channels” and that say, over and over again, not only with our words but with our daring and our bodies and by putting something on the line: THIS IS NOT NORMAL. Don’t sit back, don’t try to wait it out, join in fighting to prevent a fascist America NOW, before it is too late!

Very important: Everyone here should come out and we need to make a big deal and bring out many others to join the protests this Tuesday, December 12, on the day of the Alabama election to say NO to everything Roy Moore represents—all the white supremacy, bigoted Christian fascist theocracy, all the hatred of LGBTQ people and women, anti-science lunacy and more—which is a major part of this Trump/Pence regime and the danger it poses to the whole country and world.

At the same time, we need to take actions against those institutions and “leaders” that concentrate what is standing in the way and opposing people taking this road. That means identifying political forces and institutions like the leaders of the Democratic Party, the liberal major media like MSNBC, the New York Times, who are obscuring the truth and pushing people into the jaws of fascism with their insistence that, “You can’t have fascism in America,” by its very nature, and that the paths for preventing that are open and effective.

Why is it important to expose the leadership of the Democrats? Because they are aggressively channeling people’s desire to act into roads that only strengthen the regime and derail the opposition—telling people that working for 2018 elections or getting more women to run for office will solve the problem when it won’t. Some people think that because these Democrats and liberal media outlets are often targeted by the Trump/Pence regime (think of the chant: Lock Her Up aimed at Hillary, or the way Trump calls the media the “enemy of the people”) that we should not raise criticisms of these institutions or risk appearing like we are joining the fascists by calling them out. But the reality is that people have to be led to reject those paths, to step outside of those channels or else humanity will pay the price. People also have to be led to call out the efforts to “white out” and bury news of the only real path and organization that has any hope of challenging this regime—RefuseFascism.org and the people acting in the streets demanding that this regime must go.

Stepping up all of these kinds of actions will be crucial in drawing forward the people who do see the need to act, who want to put something on the line to fight against a fascist America, and feel stymied and discouraged by what they see unfolding and the way that others around them are turning a blind eye. These kinds of actions are also a key way of jolting those people who have come to accept that this is what we are going to have to live with, to provoke their moral courage and inspire them to become part of the solution. If people don’t see any force that is leading people to call out an emergency and give people a way to act on that, then that reinforces the pull to close their eyes, just hope that they and those close to them will escape the horrors, and all the ways that people are choosing to play it safe.

We have called on our chapters to be creative in finding the ways to take actions that learn from the Act Up orientation of the late 1980s, the way that Larry Kramer roused the people in response to the plague of AIDs affecting huge numbers of gay men and others at that time. There are other examples from history that should be learned from as well. But the point to grasp is that these actions are not gimmicks just to get publicity (though publicity is important), these actions confront society in dramatic ways that concentrate the urgent need to act. Some of these actions will involve nonviolent civil disobedience, risking arrest, like the actions taken in Los Angeles blocking the freeways with our message, not once but twice! and others will be like the actions taken by DACA recipients and those supporting them who sat-in in the U.S. Capitol, or at Nancy Pelosi’s offices when a bunch of DREAMERs took over her press conference and shouted her down, refusing to stop or relent despite all her political maneuvering, demanding that Pelosi and the Democrats not collaborate with Trump by trading away the safety and lives of their parents, families, and other immigrants in the name of getting a DREAM Act passed. This was selfless, courageous, and much, much more like this is needed!

The more this is going on in different and creative ways, the more many people will be both challenged and inspired to join with us. 

In addition to planning mobilizations of our own, we need to be joining with actions others are calling. In particular, we need to build contingents for and join with the organizing for major demonstrations that are being called for the January 20 inauguration anniversary, either the women’s march or others opposing the regime. We should endorse and join in coalition with others, seeking to be part of and have influence on them. And we might want to organize feeder marches in some places. It is not just important to be in unity with those who are stepping out into the streets, it is also a way that we can engage with those who feel compelled to act, giving them leadership and a way to act more effectively with a better understanding of what we are up against.

Last, we need to be tense to the possibility that there are changes that spontaneously cause tens and hundreds of thousands to take to the streets around an outrage. We should be prepared to push such openings as far as they can go.

(3) The third proposal from the National Office is a strong suggestion
that we make a lot of use of the recent talk from Bob Avakian (BA),
The Trump Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity,
We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America—A Better World
IS Possible!

We should find ways to make this broadly available and encourage engagement with this talk by all those who need to hear a comprehensive argument for why we are in the situation we are in, and what can be done about it.

Talk by Bob Avakian, The Trump Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America—A Better World IS Possible! https://vimeo.com/238240664

This talk, given from the revolutionary communist perspective of Bob Avakian, provides a clear scientific understanding of how this fascist regime has emerged onto the political terrain and into the halls of power in the U.S. today. Everyone, no matter what perspective you are coming from, will benefit from hearing and engaging this presentation and discussion, including in the Q&A where people working on the problem of the Trump/Pence fascist regime are able to pose their questions and frustrations, and get profound answers to them. It can make a huge difference if people who are determined and dedicated to the mission of Refuse Fascism themselves take the time to get into this, and it is also crucial that a much broader audience have the opportunity to hear and learn from this talk. We need to figure out all the ways, via social media and by word of mouth, for many more thousands to be led to this crucial talk that was provided to us at this crucial juncture.

*** ** * ** ***

As a key part of everything we are doing, we have to be raising major funds. This is not a distraction from the other important work that we have to do; it is essential for raising our capacity to build the organization that is needed, to reach the millions and bring an end to this regime. And it is a way that many people can make a contribution. The outreach and struggle with people to donate is no different from the political struggle we have identified that has to inform our work overall. There is no other source of funds—we can only rely on the millions who hate this nightmare and want to be part of bringing it to an end. RefuseFascism.org has a donate page where people can find the materials and the Call for people to donate. Go there and spread this on social media and email to everyone you know. We have set ambitious goals, but they are attainable if we reach out and involve many thousands now.

In everything we do, we should seek to involve as many people as possible, finding the different ways that people can take this up, spread it and act to organize people to do everything in their power to drive out this regime before it becomes too late.

Everyone everywhere who is part of Refuse Fascism and unites with the mission of Refuse Fascism can take up any or all of these three main tasks for this next period in different ways depending on their conditions. Let’s organize them to be part of this great cause.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/why-Is-schmuck-fumer-one-upping-the-fuhrer-on-jerusalem-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

The Democrats—An Alternative to Trump?

Then Why Is Schmuck Fumer One-Upping the Führer on Jerusalem?

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Democrats represent a real alternative to Donald Trump? Serious opposition to his fascist program? Give us a fucking break!

Führer Trump recently announced that the U.S. was moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been part of historic Palestine for hundreds of years until Israel seized first West Jerusalem and then East Jerusalem in its bloody wars of conquest in 1948 and 1967. So Trump’s announcement is a big thumbs up to these outrages and a bright green light to the rest of Israel’s unceasing crimes against the Palestinian people—its apartheid rule, its ethnic cleansing, and its threat of genocide!

Trump’s announcement was so provocative and dangerous, and so blatantly unjust, that a huge majority in the United Nations voted for a resolution to condemn it. Nikki Haley, Trump’s UN ambassador, then threatened the countries that voted for that resolution with cut offs in aid, in a fairly naked gangster-like move.

All this is even more ominous as Trump has been working to pull together and support a coalition of Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran, with a real threat of war in the region.

So if the Democrats are attempting to provide a “sane alternative” to the bellicosity of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, then you’d think that they would oppose Trump’s incendiary move. Right?

Well, actually leading Democrat Schmuck Fumer aka Chuck Schumer, did blast Trump... for his “indecisiveness” on the issue of moving the U.S. embassy—that is, for not being rabidly pro-Israeli brutality enough!

You see, Trump didn’t say when the U.S. embassy would move, and he wouldn’t recognize Israel’s total control over all of Jerusalem (East Jerusalem remains home to over 400,000 Palestinians, nearly half the population of the entire city, and has been seen as a potential Palestinian capital in any “two-state” solution.)

The day before Trump’s announcement, Fumer urged Trump to recognize Israel’s control over an “undivided Jerusalem”—i.e., their right to formally annex the whole city in yet another massive assault on Palestinians. “President Trump’s recent comments suggest his indecisiveness on the embassy’s relocation,” Fumer told an Israeli news agency. “As someone who strongly believes that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, I am calling for the US Embassy in Israel to be relocated to Jerusalem.”

And this foul shit isn’t even the worst of it. Fumer isn’t just pushing forward Israel’s murderous ethnic cleansing via open-air concentration camps and draconian repression. He’s not just modeling “bi-partisan backing” for massive military aid, covert ops cooperation, and diplomatic cover for Israel. He’s also setting up all those entering into the whirlpool of Democratic Party politics for complicity in war against Iran (or others) if things come to that, and war crimes right now against the Yemeni people. And when Trump launches such a war, how will they oppose his attempts to then even more openly and viciously crush dissent? If past experience is any guide, they will not oppose it at all—as they did not when Bush did the same.

So vote—in the streets, with your feet!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/522/acquitted-of-all-charges-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

First Six Anti-Trump Inauguration Day Defendants Acquitted of All Charges
Drop the Charges on ALL J20 Defendants!

December 22, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On Thursday, December 21, six people on trial for charges stemming from arrests at the defiant protest last January 20 against Donald Trump were found not guilty on all eight counts they were facing—misdemeanor rioting and conspiracy to riot, and five counts of felony property destruction. The jury deliberated for two days before rejecting the government’s attempts to carry out a political railroad of the six J20 defendants. According to a press release from Defend J20 Resistance, “Defendants Jennifer Armento, Oliver Harris, Britt Lawson, Michelle ‘Miel’ Macchio, Christina Simmons, and Alexei Wood left the courthouse today elated by the outcome.”

The government is still intent on bringing 188 remaining Inauguration Day defendants to trial, many facing a possible 60 years in jail. The defeat of the prosecution of the first six defendants was a victory—but all the charges against all the defendants must be dropped!

This prosecution is an act of revenge against the protests that erupted as Trump took office, showing the whole world that there were millions in the U.S. who hate Trump and everything he stands for. But as we have reported, these trials are about much more than revenge—they are a major escalation of fascist repression, with extremely ominous implications.

From the Defend J20 Resistance press release: “Supporters continue to point out that the government has attempted to chill political protest with high-level felony charges and that part of the punishment for defendant’s expressing their views is being forced to endure months of aggressive prosecution and a weeks-long trial. Most of the defendants facing trial have been working together to collectively defend themselves against the outrageous claims of the government, and will continue to do so.

“The trial also underscored the extent to which the Trump administration was actively working with far-right and neo-fascist political groups like Project Veritas, Oath Keepers, Media Research Center and Rebel Media to criminalize and punish anti-fascist and anti-Trump activists. Despite what could be considered collusion with these groups, and the government’s attempt to criminalize ‘anti-establishment’ views, the jury roundly rejected those efforts.”

A hearing in the trial of the next seven Inauguration Day defendants on three misdemeanor charges—rioting, conspiracy to riot and one count of property destruction—is scheduled for January 19. The next trial of people facing the same charges that the first six defendants were acquitted of is set for March 5.

The J20 Defendants must be vigorously defended and supported. And their spirit of determination to struggle and sacrifice in the interests of humanity should be called forth from thousands and millions who need to act with ever more defiance and determination to drive the fascist regime from power.

For more background, see: Michael Slate Interviews Sam Menefee-Libey on Trial of Inauguration Day Protesters: “This really is very frightening”

 

 


 

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Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

October 18, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A Question of Basic Stand and Orientation

By Bob Avakian

 

SUPPORT AND SPREAD THE FURY
AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE

The phenomenon of sexual harassment and sexual assault—including (but not limited to) the sexual abuse of women by men who hold positions of power over them—is long-standing and widespread throughout this male supremacist society and is reinforced by the putrid culture it has spawned. The outpouring of outrage against this sexual abuse and the all too commonplace institutional cover-ups and complicity with it, and the demand for a radical change in the culture—which has made a major leap in relation to the accusations against Harvey Weinstein and has now spread far beyond that, involving millions of women, in sphere after sphere throughout this country and in other countries as well—is right, righteous, and long overdue, and should be supported, encouraged, spread, and defended against counter-attack. 

In the context of such a long-suppressed outpouring of outrage, there are bound to be some negative aspects, including some excesses, where false or exaggerated accusations are made in particular cases; but these have been (and will almost certainly remain) a very secondary aspect of the phenomenon. If and when it may be necessary to point to some of these shortcomings, this must be done very judiciously, in a way that does not undermine the overwhelmingly positive character of this upsurge, and in fact helps to strengthen it.

This long-suppressed and thoroughly just outpouring of outrage is not the same as any particular accusation. Such particular accusations do have to be approached on the basis of scientifically evaluating the evidence, and this is especially important where the accusations not only allege misconduct but actual criminal action, such as rape or other sexual assault. But this distinction, between particular accusations and the overall phenomenon, should not be allowed to obscure or diminish the righteousness and importance of the massive upsurge against this widespread and deeply-rooted abuse and the tremendous injury it does to women and to humanity as a whole.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/519/a-righteous-upsurge-against-sexual-assault-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Updated March 5, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Upsurge Against Sexual Harassment And Abuse—And The Crucial Questions In Going Forward

 

A Question of Basic Stand and Orientation

By Bob Avakian

SUPPORT AND SPREAD THE FURY AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE

The phenomenon of sexual harassment and sexual assault—including (but not limited to) the sexual abuse of women by men who hold positions of power over them—is long-standing and widespread throughout this male supremacist society and is reinforced by the putrid culture it has spawned. The outpouring of outrage against this sexual abuse and the all too commonplace institutional cover-ups and complicity with it, and the demand for a radical change in the culture—which has made a major leap in relation to the accusations against Harvey Weinstein and has now spread far beyond that, involving millions of women, in sphere after sphere throughout this country and in other countries as well—is right, righteous, and long overdue, and should be supported, encouraged, spread, and defended against counter-attack.

In the context of such a long-suppressed outpouring of outrage, there are bound to be some negative aspects, including some excesses, where false or exaggerated accusations are made in particular cases; but these have been (and will almost certainly remain) a very secondary aspect of the phenomenon. If and when it may be necessary to point to some of these shortcomings, this must be done very judiciously, in a way that does not undermine the overwhelmingly positive character of this upsurge, and in fact helps to strengthen it.

This long-suppressed and thoroughly just outpouring of outrage is not the same as any particular accusation. Such particular accusations do have to be approached on the basis of scientifically evaluating the evidence, and this is especially important where the accusations not only allege misconduct but actual criminal action, such as rape or other sexual assault. But this distinction, between particular accusations and the overall phenomenon, should not be allowed to obscure or diminish the righteousness and importance of the massive upsurge against this widespread and deeply-rooted abuse and the tremendous injury it does to women and to humanity as a whole.

The New Synthesis and the Woman Question: The Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution—Further Leaps and Radical Ruptures

By Bob Avakian

Part III of “Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution” (2009)

Read more

The #MeToo Movement: Keeping Our Eyes On The Prize

A very righteous mass upsurge has broken out around a key fault-line issue of this, and all prior, class societies. Sexual harassment and sexual assault is a problem going back millennia, and a problem which is totally pervasive, including on a global scale. A problem which negatively affects every single girl and woman on this planet: indirectly, since every instance of degradation, humiliation, and dehumanization of any girl or woman is ultimately projected onto ALL girls and women; and, of course, way more often than not directly, because one would be hard-pressed to find a single adult woman anywhere in the world who does not have quite a few personal #MeToo stories.

In this light, the opening of Bob Avakian’s recent statement on this remains very important: “The outpouring of outrage against this sexual abuse and the all too commonplace institutional cover-ups ... is right, righteous, and long overdue, and should be supported, encouraged, spread, and defended against counter-attack.”

This must continue to go further. At the same time, at this point it is in fact necessary to recognize and overcome some negative trends which could serve to misdirect and derail this struggle.

What Should Be the Aims of This Struggle?

When the #MeToo upsurge first emerged there was, in addition to the initial press exposures and outpourings of righteously speaking bitterness, a very significant focus placed on the whole question of INSTITUTIONAL COMPLICITY AND COVER-UPS (similar to the issue of the Catholic Church in relation to pedophile priests). This was a big part of what was new and historically unprecedented about this upsurge: not just the scale of it, the feeling of a dam breaking like never before, including globally, but also the serious attention being given to the fact that these individual behaviors could not go on if they were not being routinely and systematically protected and defended by leading institutions in every corner and sphere of society. This was new, and a very welcome development.

One of the things very important about this is that when you start to recognize the role and complicity of institutions, you start to ask yourself about the overall prevailing culture. You start to wonder about what kind of society and what kind of system we are living under that produces and maintains such institutions and such a culture.

Read entire article

Sri Lanka, 2004. Photo: Mukai

Sri Lanka, 2004. Photo: Mukai

Look at all these beautiful children who are female in the world. And in addition to all the other outrages which I have referred to, in terms of children throughout the slums and shantytowns of the Third World, in addition to all the horrors that will be heaped on them—the actual living in garbage and human waste in the hundreds of millions as their fate, laid out before them, yes, even before they are born—there is, on top of this, for those children who are born female, the horror of everything that this will bring simply because they are female in a world of male domination. And this is true not only in the Third World. In 'modern' countries like the U.S. as well, the statistics barely capture it: the millions who will be raped; the millions more who will be routinely demeaned, deceived, degraded, and all too often brutalized by those who are supposed to be their most intimate lovers; the way in which so many women will be shamed, hounded and harassed if they seek to exercise reproductive rights through abortion, or even birth control; the many who will be forced into prostitution and pornography; and all those who—if they do not have that particular fate, and even if they achieve some success in this 'new world' where supposedly there are no barriers for women—will be surrounded on every side, and insulted at every moment, by a society and a culture which degrades women, on the streets, in the schools and workplaces, in the home, on a daily basis and in countless ways.

—Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:10

Other Key Works:

Click HERE to download the PDF

Excerpt from:

BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

Watch entire talk online at revolutiontalk.net

Bob Avakian: "A World of Rape and Sexual Assault"

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/522/american-crime-50-us-intervenes-to-crush-1917-russian-revolution-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

American Crime

Case #50: U.S. Intervenes to Crush the 1917 Russian Revolution

December 19, 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 focuses on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

U.S. troops march through Russian street of Vladivostok.
The U.S., Britain, France, and other countries joined Russian counter-revolutionaries in a battle to overthrow the new revolution. This was the Civil War of 1918-1921, pitting the “White” armies and their imperialist backers against the revolution’s fledgling Red Army. The U.S. sent a “White” army of 13,000 to Siberia: 5,000 to Arkhangelsk and 8,000 to the port city of Vladivostok (shown here).

 

THE CRIME:  One hundred years ago, in October 1917, the Russian people, led by V.I. Lenin and the Communist (or Bolshevik) Party, rose up in revolution and overthrew the country’s old, oppressive system rooted in capitalism and feudalism.* It was an earth-shaking, earth-changing event. It was the first attempt in modern history to build a society free from exploitation and oppression, aiming for a communist world. This socialist revolution electrified people the world over, and served as an inspiration and model of what they, too, could achieve.  

But the U.S. and oppressors in Russia and the world over saw this liberating revolution as a nightmare and a threat, and they immediately moved to crush it. Over the next several years their assaults took the lives of millions in the new society.  

The new revolutionary state (later named the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Soviet Union) had immediately begun implementing its promise of “peace, bread and land.” The old Russian regime had joined the imperialist bloodfest of World War 1 (1914-1918) as one of three major "Allies" (with Britain and France; the U.S. joined the war on the same side in three years later) against Germany and its partners. But the new revolutionary state quickly pulled Russia out of the war, took measures to solve the country’s food crisis, and started distributing land to the peasants. The revolution quickly enacted measures for women’s equality, including the right to abortion and divorce. It upheld the right of self-determination for the oppressed nations within old Russia’s Tsarist empire, and outlawed anti-Semitism. In December 1917 it repealed all laws against homosexuality.

For the U.S. and its British and French allies in particular, this communist revolution represented a grave challenge to their system overall, and the Bolshevik withdrawal from World War 1 was an immediate threat to their plans to defeat Germany and divide the spoils of war. 

So the U.S., Britain, France, and other imperialist powers quickly moved to defeat the revolution and restore their former allies to power. The war had already inflicted a staggering toll on the Russian people—nearly 1.5 million dead, three million wounded, and widespread famine. Now the imperialists wanted to snuff out their hopes for a new society and drag them back into the reactionary slaughter.

In 1918, the British-French-American alliance took steps to isolate revolutionary Russia politically and economically, imposing a punishing economic blockade: for two years no food, medicine, fuel, or other goods could enter the country. This included the world’s first oil embargo. 

Then the U.S., Britain, France, and nearly a dozen other countries joined forces with Russian counter-revolutionaries in an all-out battle to overthrow the new revolution and re-establish the old, oppressive order. This was the Civil War of 1918-1921, pitting the “White” armies and their imperialist backers against the revolution’s fledgling Red Army, made up mainly of workers and peasants. The Whites were a reactionary collection of anti-communists and opponents of the revolution—Tsarist military officers, ultra-nationalist Russian chauvinists and anti-Semites, monarchists, religious fanatics, and various reformist democrats. Most saw themselves, as one White general put it, as “fighting for Western civilization and culture”—white European supremacy, patriarchy, religious obscurantism, and brutal colonialism.

The Western imperialists backed the White armies with troops, military advisers, weapons, munitions, money, and political support.

The U.S. sent 13,000 troops, far more than any other world power, to Siberia. Nearly 5,000 landed in the city of Arkhangelsk and fought the Red Army from September 1918 through July 1919, inflicting casualties and destruction. Another 8,000 U.S. troops moved into the port city of Vladivostok, the staging point for a multinational fighting force including Japan and China.

Meanwhile, French forces took control of the key Black Sea port of Odessa in Ukraine, which at that time was part of Russia. The British backed the butcher General Denikin with arms, munitions, and troops as he advanced toward Russia’s capital Moscow.

White armies attacked the revolution from the south, north, northwest, and east. Their campaign came to be known as the “White terror.” In the Civil War’s first days, the Bolsheviks controlled at most one-third of Russia’s vast territory.

In southern Russia, General Lavr Kornilov commanded his troops, “The greater the terror, the greater our victories,” ordering them to take no prisoners and vowing “to set fire to half the country and shed the blood of three-fourths of all Russians.” A general under Kornilov’s command called on people to arm themselves to destroy “the evil force which lives in the hearts of Jew-communists.” In one small town alone, Whites murdered more than 1,500 Jews, mostly the elderly, women, and children. Some 100,000 to 150,000 Jews in Ukraine and southern Russia were killed in pogroms (lynch-mob-like attacks), and hundreds of thousands more were left homeless, with tens of thousands falling victim to serious illnesses.

In the Don region, the regional Soviet government was defeated in 1918 and replaced by a White Cossack regime, which proceeded to shoot or hang 45,000 people, and in that same year mass executions occurred in other southern Russian territories under White occupation.

In the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East, Cossack warlords practiced great cruelty. In September 1918, during the suppression of a peasant uprising in Slavgorod, the Cossacks killed up to 500 people. The village of Black Dole was burned down and the peasants were shot, tortured, and hanged from pillars, including women and children. Girls and women of Slavgorod and surrounding areas were raped and then shot. Some victims under Cossack rule had their eyes gouged and tongues and strips of flesh from their backs cut off, others were buried alive, or tied to running horses. In these regions the White terror took an estimated 300,000 lives.

In the Siberian city of Omsk in the east, an eyewitness reported, “At a time when the wives of dead comrades, day and night looked in the snow for bodies, I was unaware of the horror behind the walls of the guardhouse. At least 2,500 people were killed. Entire carts of bodies were carried to a city, like winter lamb and pork carcasses. Those who suffered were mainly soldiers… and workers.”   

After three years of fierce fighting, the revolutionary people and their Red Army were able to defeat the Whites, and the foreign powers, including the U.S., were forced to leave.

The cost was horrendous. The blockade and then the Civil War had forced people to leave the cities to forage for food and fuel. In the bitter winter of 1919, people who’d frozen to death lay in streets, homes, and hospitals. Diseases ran rampant, with millions dying of typhus in 1920 alone. Millions more died of starvation. By 1922 there were more than seven million hungry children roaming the streets. The economy was devastated: factories and bridges had been destroyed, mines flooded, machines damaged, industrial and agricultural production vastly reduced. All told some five to seven million died of starvation and disease during and immediately after the Civil War. 

These horrors were supported, enabled, deepened, or carried out by the invading imperialist powers, including the “freedom loving” United States.

THE CRIMINALS

President Woodrow Wilson: Famous for issuing declarations upholding the right of nations to self-determination, Wilson granted the Russian people no such right to determine their future. He sent 13,000 troops, far more than any other world power, to intervene in the Civil War in the attempt to defeat the Red Army, destroy the fragile socialist revolution, and drag Russia back into World War 1. Wilson may also have sought to recover U.S. military equipment and advance other U.S. interests in Europe and the Asia-Pacific, but clearly, he wanted the revolution stopped dead in its tracks. 

Winston Churchill: Churchill was perhaps without peer among major Western imperialist leaders in his desire to see the Soviet revolution defeated. As the Secretary of State for War and Air in Britain, then the world’s leading imperialist power, Churchill considered the revolution an abomination and called on the invading allies to “strangle the Bolshevik baby in its cradle.”  

The governments of the other invading nations: Canada, Australia, India, South Africa, France, Japan, China, Greece, Estonia, Serbia, Italy, Poland, and Rumania

General Lavr Kornilov: As leader of the White forces in southern Russia, Kornilov made good on his statement, “The greater the terror, the greater our victories.” In the Don region village of Lezhanka, for example, Kornilov’s officers kill more than 500 people. In April 1918, a Soviet artillery shell killed Kornilov, who was replaced by General Anton Denikin, who took the White terror to an even higher level. In the territories they occupied, Denikin’s forces engaged in mass executions and plunder. In one town, in September 1918, 4,000 people were massacred, and the press during the Denikin regime in the Don region constantly incited violence against communist Jews and Jews believed to be communists. During the Civil War, an estimated 50,000 Jews were murdered by Denikin’s Whites and other anti-Soviet forces. Meanwhile, in eastern Russia, Admiral Alexander Kolchak ordered his troops to raze whole villages to the ground. In some Siberian provinces, 20,000 farms were destroyed and more than 10,000 peasant houses were burned down.

THE ALIBI:

The U.S. and other capitalist-imperialist nations framed their hostility toward and efforts to crush the Russian revolution in its infancy by intervening in the Civil War as a monumental battle between good—Western democracy, freedom, and individual rights—and evil—a monstrous, godless socialism and communism that was destroying the lives of its citizens and was threatening to do the same worldwide.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE:

The attitude of the U.S. and the other imperialist powers was not, “millions of Russians have rejected their old government and established a new system. It’s their country, let’s give them a chance to see how it works out.” No—the imperialists saw the Bolshevik revolution as a fundamental threat and challenge to their entire system—economically, politically, and ideologically—a whole new and radically liberating model of how society can and should be organized. 

As Raymond Lotta states,

We’re talking about a sea change in human history, the first attempts in modern history to build societies free from exploitation and oppression…. These were titanic risings of the modern-day “slaves” against their “masters.” They aimed to bring about a community of humanity,… one 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. Never have there been such radical and far-reaching transformations in how society is organized, in how economies are run, in culture and education, in how people relate to each other, and in how people think and feel…”

The Russian revolution and the development of Soviet society also represented an immediate threat to the strategic interests of the U.S. and other capitalist-imperialists, especially their control of the colonial regions of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where the revolution strongly reverberated among the oppressed. In some of those countries and elsewhere, for example, communist parties were formed in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution.

The capitalist-imperialist powers, with the U.S. increasingly in the forefront, remained hostile to the Soviet Union for the three-plus decades it remained a real socialist state, including through economic, political, and military threats and isolation, and the enormous horrors inflicted on the Soviet Union during World War 2.

* For centuries Russia had been ruled by autocratic Tsars (Kings). In February 1917, this autocracy collapsed in the face of popular protests and the withdrawal of support by traditional elites and Russia’s imperialist backers who feared the Tsar was moving to pull Russia out of World War 1. A new bourgeois-democratic, pro-imperialist government was formed. It continued Russia’s participation in World War 1 and left the savage relations of feudal and capitalist exploitation and oppression that underpinned the Tsar’s regime in place. [back]

SOURCES

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,” Revolution newspaper, special edition, November 24, 2013

Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Russian Revolution 1917-1932, Opus Books, 1983

David S. Folglesong, America’s Secret War Against Bolshevism: U.S. Intervention in the Russian Civil War, 1917-1920, University of North Carolina Press, 1995

Peter Kenez, Civil War in South Russia, 1918: The First Year of the Volunteer Army, University of California Press, 1971

Dimitri Von Mohrenschildt, ed., The Russian Revolution of 1917: Contemporary Accounts, Oxford University Press, 1971

U.S. and Allied War in Russia, 1918-22, Critical Enquiry,” criticalenquiry.org

Allied Intervention in Russia,” The National Archives (UK)

Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War,” Wikipedia.org

The White Terror (Russia),” Wikipedia.org

 

 

 

 


 

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Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Michael Slate Interviews International Law Professor Richard Falk on U.S. and Israel:

"Iron fist geopolitics where law and morality are completely marginalized"

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is excerpted from an interview with Richard Falk on Friday, December 13, 2017 for The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica radio. Richard Falk is a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, and he has been teaching at UC Santa Barbara. He is a former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967. As background to this interview, we encourage readers to explore the special issue of Revolution: Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL.

Revolution/revcom.us features interviews from The Michael Slate Show to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theatre, 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 Revolution/revcom.us.

 

Michael Slate: Trump announced he’s going to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and is going to move the U.S. diplomatic embassy to the city of Jerusalem. What’s the problem here, Richard?

Richard Falk: Well, there are a number of problems. For one thing, there’s an international consensus that Trump’s announcement broke, to the effect that no change in the status of Jerusalem would be made until the parties themselves—in other words, Israel and Palestine—reached an agreement as to how they would share control over the city. That was understood to be something that would be deferred until the last stages of supposed peace negotiations. So that’s one aspect of what’s wrong and disruptive of that.

The other is the fact that Israel is trying to establish a capital in an occupied territory, which is not its own territory. The assumption being made by the Israeli assertion is that Jerusalem as a totality is part of Israel. But the whole international law understanding of the status of Jerusalem is that it is not resolved as to its proper legal status, and in the interim, it’s occupied territory, at least so far as East Jerusalem is concerned. And the whole of Jerusalem is in a kind of legal abeyance. So you have two big problems there.

Michael Slate: Israel is probably the only country in the world that has refused to define its borders in all these decades.

Richard Falk: Yes, exactly. Because there’s the tension between Israel as an established political entity, and the ambitions of Israel to satisfy the maximal Zionist vision of biblical Israel, which extends at least to the West Bank and the whole of Jerusalem. So there’s always been that tension, and Israel has cleverly avoided committing itself publicly to this vision of a Greater Israel, which is a direct confrontation with the international consensus, and to the establishment of its own legitimacy back in 1948, when it was accepted as an independent state on the basis of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which was a division of the territory of Mandated Palestine between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and even at that time was considered by the Arab world, and certainly by the Palestinians, to be a highly unfair territorial allocation.

The way in which Israel has been able to project its effective control over Jerusalem is a geopolitical one in which it was content with U.S. ambiguity—that it would support Israel in terms of its own extension of control, but until Trump, it would adhere to the international consensus that the legal future and the political future of Jerusalem would be determined by negotiations, by diplomacy, between the two parties. And why this decision is seen as a rupture and a repudiation of this longstanding international understanding is that it looks like a way of affirming Israel’s determination to have an endgame to the conflict imposed by its unilateral edict or decree. In other words, abandon diplomacy, and not even pretend that it’s interested in a negotiated solution.

Michael Slate: There is a particular importance in relation to the West Bank and how Israel views that. It’s also true, you’d have to say, about Gaza, when you look at the seemingly never-ending attacks on Gaza, that it’s very much bordering on the denial of the existence of Palestine as a legitimate state and the Palestinian people as a legitimate people.

Richard Falk: No question. From the very beginnings, the puzzle challenging Zionism was how do we get rid of the Palestinian majority. Remember that when the Balfour Declaration1 100 years ago was issued, the Jewish population of Palestine was no more than six percent at the most. And even at the end of World War 2, when the partition resolution was adopted, the Jewish population of Palestine was only 33 percent. And to make Israel fulfill the Zionist vision of a democratic and Jewish state meant they had to establish a Jewish majority. The only way they could do that was to get rid of most of the Palestinians. The Nakba,2 or dispossession of Palestinians that occurred in the 1947-48 War, achieved that result, but it’s been a continuous process of how do we deal with this demographic, so-called “ticking bomb,” without repudiating our legitimacy claims that rest on being a liberal democracy.

Increasingly, as they’ve moved toward this unilateral end of the conflict, they’ve abandoned any serious claim of being a democratic state as distinct from a kind of ethnocratic state. It’s clearly intended to be a Jewish state, and the idea of democracy and human rights is definitely subordinated, and that is why we concluded in our UN study that Israel’s structure of control over the Palestinian people as a whole really rested on apartheid structures of victimization and subjugation based on ethnic identity.

Michael Slate: I spent a lot of time studying apartheid in South Africa, and went there when it was an apartheid state and interviewed all kinds of people. There’s a lot in common there [between apartheid and Israeli occupation of Palestine]. But there is this ethnic cleansing that they’ve done with the Palestinian people—that they don’t really need the Palestinian people, and they don’t really want them.

Richard Falk: In that sense it’s very different because the South African economy was premised on cheap African labor. Israel has deliberately not wanted to base its economic viability on Palestinian labor for precisely the reasons you suggest. But they want to get rid of as many Palestinians as possible. And ethnic cleansing is the gentlest accurate word for what happened in 1947-48, which meant the expulsion of 700,000 to 750,000 Palestinians, and the denial of any right of return, regardless of how deep the connections of the Palestinians were with the land, and with family, and other connections.

Michael Slate: And that leads to something which is really important for understanding this: There is a certain bowing down to the Christian fascists in this country, personified by Pence.

Richard Falk: That’s a very good point. One of the things that’s interesting about this decision is that it joins the kind of unilateralist foreign policy that Trump champions, which was epitomized perhaps by the withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Agreement, being the only country out of 193 that repudiates this seminal experiment in international cooperation to solve common problems.

So you have on one side this unilateralism, ignoring international cooperative arrangements and structures. And on the other hand, you have this double policy domestically, satisfying donors like Sheldon Adelson, and satisfying Christian evangelists like Mike Pence—and at the same time serving the interests of class-based politics associated with Wall Street and the financial world.

These two domestic and international vectors of Trump’s policy converge in this Jerusalem issue.

Michael Slate: How does General Assembly Resolution 181 [the U.N. resolution that divided Palestine into what were to be Palestinian and Jewish states] fit into things?

Richard Falk: It fits in, again, in at least two ways. One is that Israel’s own legitimacy as a state is premised on the partition resolution that was adopted in 1947 and served as the basis of Israel’s admission to the UN a year later. Secondly it disposes of Jerusalem as belonging neither to Jews nor the non-Jewish communities in Palestine, but as an internationalized city under UN administration. And the notion here was that this particular city with its religious symbolism should not be part of the partition arrangement. So, there was in a sense a territorial denial in the very foundation of Israel’s own legitimacy from a UN point of view that took place as soon as Israel in 1967 took over the whole of Jerusalem militarily, and immediately doubled its area by Israeli law and then declared it to be the unified eternal city of the Jewish people. So 181 is very fundamental, I think, to a correct understanding of the evolution of the conflict and its relation to Jerusalem as a particular place.

Michael Slate: Israel has been pretty open about what it’s doing today in relation to Jerusalem, that it is their capital.

Richard Falk: Yes, they were saying that, but even the U.S. refused to endorse that. And what’s different now is that the Trump diplomacy, such as it is [laughing], is an unconditional endorsement of what Israel was unilaterally proclaiming ever since 1967, essentially.

Michael Slate: I read somewhere where international law says that East Jerusalem is occupied territory, and therefore, anything that is done to it is subject to the Fourth Geneva Convention [which, among other things, defines the rights of civilians in occupied territories]. But it appears that doesn’t seem to mean anything to anybody.

Richard Falk: Well, what you’re really saying indirectly is that geopolitics trumps—and that’s a bad pun—international humanitarian law. And where there’s a sufficiently strong geopolitical move, the U.S. and other countries push international law to one side. That happens particularly in relation to security issues and war-peace issues. It doesn’t happen so much in commercial, trade, or investment issues or maritime safety—a whole series of things where international law works pretty well.

It doesn’t work well where hard power is part of the core of the problem. And that’s been the case in all of these territorial conflicts. And the Zionist movement, and Israel as a state, has been very opportunistic in the way it’s disguised its real goals and pursued them stage by stage. Going back again to the Balfour Declaration, where they were only aspiring to achieve a homeland within the established entity of Palestine, of which they were a small minority as I said earlier, to then wanting to be a state in accordance with the partition conception, to then wanting to be a state that could encroach upon the occupied Palestinian territory and become a state that was larger than what was envisioned either by partition or by the end of the so-called War of Independence in 1948.

So at every stage, Israel has escalated its real demands, beyond what its public posture had been at an earlier stage. That makes it extremely difficult for the ordinary person to understand the progression and escalation of Israeli ambitions. Because the full extent of them were not publicly visible until very recently. And now with the green light given by the Trump administration, they’ve become more and more visible.

Michael Slate: There’s been a campaign that’s gone on over the years to not just verbally but physically do away with the Palestinian population in whatever means was necessary.

Richard Falk: Yes, but “do away” has been somewhat ambiguously implemented, and may mean different things to different strands of the Israeli leadership. One meaning of “do away” is to effectively subjugate, whether the Palestinians are treated as a discriminated minority in Israel, or as a captive population in Gaza, or as insecure residents of Jerusalem, or as an occupied West Bank, or permanent consignment to refugee or involuntary exile status.

So one whole sense of what it means to get rid of the Palestinians is to subjugate and effectively control. The other, which overlaps with this, is to seek to avoid demographic ambiguity by the growth of Palestinian population by actually physically getting rid of Palestinians to the extent possible.

One of the ways this is currently being considered within Israel is to somehow get rid of Gaza as part of the Palestinian entity, and persuade either Egypt or Jordan to absorb and administer Gaza, either as part of their own territory or as some sort of protectorate within their territory. This effort has so far failed, but it’s indicative of this effort to combine on the one side ethnic cleansing with on the other side, complete subjugation.

Michael Slate: It’s a very bad situation for the Palestinian people. We lose some of our own humanity if we stand there and allow yet another genocidal assault to go on.

Richard Falk: I completely agree with you, Michael. It’s a precedent for precisely that kind of unilateral, geopolitical militarism, or iron fist geopolitics, where law and morality are completely marginalized and a bunch of calculations have been made. I think two of the things that are different in the Trump presidency is, first of all, intensifying these dysfunctional special relationships that pre-existed Trump, with Israel and Saudi Arabia. And secondly, this pandering in an even more extreme way to the major Israeli donors within the United States, and the Christian Zionists who have somehow wrapped up their own expectations of the second coming of Jesus with the transcendence of Israel as a renewed biblical state.


1. A declaration issued by British Lord Balfour in 1917 that promised a “national home” for Jews on Palestinian land. [back]

2. In Arabic, “nakba” means “catastrophe.” [back]

 

 


 

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Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Check It Out:

No One Ever Really Dies by N.E.R.D.
with Pharrell Williams

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Pharrell Williams, who used to be known for his “happy” songs, has come out with a new album by his alt-rap band N.E.R.D., No One Ever Really Dies, featuring Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna. The Los Angeles Times called it “a rowdy album” and said it “is full of heaving beats and harsh digital textures that catch the day’s chaotic spirit.” In an article in the British newspaper Guardian by Hattie Collins, Williams is quoted as saying as he introduces the record, “I don’t know if you’ve seen the news or who’s running my country but it’s a real fucking shit show. I’ve never seen such desperation in my life.” Talking about his own musical transformation, he told Collins, “I’ve made all kinds of songs in my career. People might say: ‘Oh what about this song?’ Yep, you’re right. I recognize now. I get it. It was fun to me at the time, but the earth changes and the rules change. We have to remember that. Context is important.”

Pharrell Williams asked Collins if she had ever listened to the U.S. national anthem and in particular to check out the third verse. Collins writes, “This, he says, will help me understand where he’s coming from. The third verse is widely read as a celebration of slavery. Although it’s no longer sung in schools or at sporting events, its very existence speaks to the systematic racial injustices in his country. Its very existence, Pharrell insists, means athletes must continue to ‘take the knee’, because racism is inherent, ingrained in the very heart of the American conscience.”

The album deals with a lot of different topics—truth, the life of teenagers, women, the children of conservatives in this country, corporate malfeasance. The song “Lemon,” sung by Rihanna, starts out with “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” But the one song that stands out is the one with Kendrick Lamar about the police murder of Keith Scott in North Carolina in 2016, “Don’t Don’t Do It.”

In talking about this song, Pharrell said, “This was something I saw on the news. We have that crazy, crazy man [running the country] but also they have police that shoot unarmed black people the whole time. It rains and they shoot black people.”

The second verse sung by Pharrell names some of the cities where cops have murdered Black people:

Whoa Ferguson, oh Baltimore
Raleigh, North Carolina
But you know, they’re gonna do it anyway
Wisconsin, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Cleveland, Ohio
Montgomery, Baton Rouge, Cincinnati car
Dayton, Ohio
But you know, they’re gonna do it anyway
New York, New Jersey, Phoenix, Minnesota
South Carolina
They gonna do it anyway

In the final verse Kendrick Lamar gets into it:

You better duck, run fast from the mania
Don’t stare, don’t laugh at the media
Brake free, press gas when it enter ya’
Don’t let it go bad when he ante up
Highway, get out the way
Black man do your great escape
Pac-man wanna prosecute you
Raise your hand up, and they’ll shoot ya’
Face off, face off Adolf Hitler
Grandkids slayed off
Niggas, same rules, same chalk
Different decade, same law
Keep focus, you wanna get caught with your eyes open
You wanna stay clear of the prognosis
Pride provoked him, watch demotion
Watch em’ close enough
Don’t let the holster break or roast ya’
Roller coast ride that bitch
Soon or later sides gon’ switch
You know Johnny got that itch
How many more of us gotta see the coroner?
Slain by the same badge, stop, wait, brake, fast!

 

 


 

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Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic

How to Read El Pato Pascual (Donald Duck) Art Exhibit

December 18, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

I recently went to an art exhibit, “How to Read El Pato Pascual (Donald Duck): Disney’s Latin America and Latin America’s Disney” at two galleries in Los Angeles. This exhibit is part of a larger series of exhibits, “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, Latin American & Latino Art in LA.” 

The El Pato Pascual exhibit, with over 150 works by 48 Latin American artists, investigates and challenges nearly 100 years of cultural influence between Latin America and Disney. Many of the pieces show how the artists depict the role of Walt Disney’s comic characters in forcing American culture and economic values on the people in Latin America.

The idea for the exhibit came from the book Para Leer al Pato Donald (How to Read Donald Duck) by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart. The book was published in 1971 in Chile at a time when there was social and political unrest and a section of the Chilean people was opposing U.S. imperialism.

Dorfman wrote about the reason this book needed to be published:

It was meant to respond to a very practical need: the mass media stories Chileans had been consuming, that mentally colonized the way they lived and dreamed of their everyday circumstances, didn’t faintly match the extraordinary new situation in their country. Largely imported from the United States and available via outlets of every sort (comics, magazines, television, radio), they needed to be critiqued and the models and values they espoused, all the hidden messages of greed, domination, and prejudice they contained, exposed.

After the U.S. CIA initiated the coup in Chile in 1973 that overthrew the elected President Salvador Allende and put the U.S. puppet dictator Augusto Pinochet in power, the book was banned and Dorfman and Mattelart were forced into exile. Pinochet’s government collected all the books and televised the burning of them, reminiscent to the Nazi book burnings in Germany. (For more on this, see American Crime series Case #57: The 1973 CIA Coup in Chile.”)

There were attempts to ban the book in the U.S. Walt Disney filed lawsuits claiming the book violated copyright protection laws. Disney lost the lawsuits and the book was allowed in the country.

The book has been published in 10 different languages. The English edition was published in 1975 with an introduction written by UCLA Professor Emeritus of Art History David Kunzle and an appendix written by John Shelton Lawrence, professor emeritus at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. (The book can be found online.)

In the introduction, Kunzle writes:

It is no accident that the first thoroughgoing analysis of the Disney ideology should come from one of the most economically and culturally dependent colonies of the U.S. empire. How To Read Donald Duck was born in the heat of the struggle to free Chile from that dependency; and it has since become, with its many Latin American editions, a most potent instrument for the interpretation of bourgeois media in the Third World.

This exhibit is currently housed in two locations—the Luckman Gallery at Cal State LA and the Schindler House in West Hollywood. The art at the Schindler House is more representative of Dorfman’s and Mattleart’s book and of the role Disney played in Chile, while the art at the Luckman Gallery has a wider range of contextualization of how Disney is viewed by Latin American artists.

Jesse Lerner, Professor of Media Studies at the Claremont Colleges, and one of the two curators of the exhibit, gave me a personal tour of a small section of the exhibit. He and co-curator, artist Ruben Ortiz-Torres, have published a wonderful book with the title of the exhibit. The book has a collection of writings and photographs of all the art in the exhibit. The book is in English and Spanish.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Lerner said about the exhibit: “Disney borrows from Latin America, they turn it into something Hollywood, they send it back to Latin America, and the Latin Americans do something else with it and send it back.”

The way Ortiz-Torres put it: “Disney appropriates and the people appropriate Disney. It’s a constant dispute.”

As someone who did not know about Dorfman’s and Mattelart’s book, but knew about Disney in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, I found many art pieces thought provoking. You can feel the anger of the artists in many of the works, as well as the juxtaposition of Disney’s happy cartoon characters alongside the reality of the lives of the masses in Latin America and their struggles.

The Pacific Standard Time LA/LA exhibitions are composed of about 100 separate exhibits that are housed from Riverside, to San Diego, to Santa Barbara, with the majority of them in Los Angeles. The full exhibit will close in mid-January. Topics of the exhibit are Art and Activism / Borders, Diaspora & Displacement /Critiquing Globalism and Modernism / Definitions of Identity, Design/Architecture / Film/Music/Dance Series / From Abstract to Conceptual Art / Pre-Hispanic to Colonial.

People who are living in Southern California or going to be visiting there in the next month should check this out.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/521/michael-slate-interviews-sam-menefee-libey-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Michael Slate Interviews Sam Menefee-Libey on Trial of Inauguration Day Protesters

“This really is very frightening”

December 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following are excerpts from a December 1, 2017 interview on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK radio with Sam Menefee-Libey of the Dead City Legal Posse about the trial of protesters who were arrested in Washington, DC, last January 20, Trump’s Inauguration Day.

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

Revolution/revcom.us 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 Revolution/revcom.us.

****

Michael Slate: A few weeks ago I first spoke with Sam Menefee-Libey of the Dead City Legal Posse talking about defending the Inauguration Day protesters and about his involvement in taking up the fight around that. These are people facing 60 years in prison in a vengeful attack on the right to protest and especially the right to protest against the Führer—for daring to stand up and fight against the Trump regime. Sam is back to talk with us. Sam, welcome to the show.

Sam Menefee-Libey: Thanks for having me back, Michael. 

Michael Slate: OK, the trial has begun for six of the 230 defendants, known collectively as the J20 Defendants, who are facing a possible 60 years in prison for demonstrating against the Trump Inauguration. So Sam, what’s going on now? Where are things at?

Sam Menefee-Libey: Your listeners may remember that back on Inauguration Day there was an anti-fascist, anti-capitalist march where folks who were assaulted by police for over a half an hour and then eventually kettled and over 230 people were held and mass-arrested. They were blanket charged with felony riot. A couple months later, in April, there was a superseding indictment that added a bunch of different additional felony counts: incitement to riot, engaging in riot, conspiracy to riot, and five counts of property destruction charged under conspiracy liability. The judge finally at the beginning of November recognized the fact that the defense had identified right away, which is the fact that there is no actual felony charge for engaging or conspiracy to riot and so this was reduced to misdemeanors. Now there are 194 people left. The vast majority are facing six felonies and two misdemeanors and the first six are on trial this week. We just finished the sixth day of the jury trial.

Michael Slate: So let’s talk about this. Is there really evidence of something that would support a conspiracy to riot charge?

Sam Menefee-Libey: The government is presenting, throwing a lot of stuff out there. They’re showing a lot of video, they’re showing certain messages taken off of people’s phones and most of it is just planning a protest. There’s actually a video shown in court on Tuesday that was taken by the ultra-conservative right-wing propaganda outfit Project Veritas undercover. The U.S. Attorney’s Office elected to show a 35-minute video that was taken by Veritas despite Veritas’s long track record of deceptive and devious practices. Then the U.S. Attorney’s Office actually tried to hide the source of the video, originally, and tried to just say it was from a citizen. But the defense was able to note that it was from Project Veritas.

It’s a 35-minute video of a planning meeting of a protest. There’s lots of discussion of keeping safe and making sure that we are standing in solidarity with each other and that we’re dedicated to anti-racist principles. I think that folks are waiting a big bombshell, and instead it was just a protest planning meeting, that was then corroborated by an undercover police officer. We’ve learned a lot about the Metropolitan Police Department intelligence gathering practices in this trial, and it turns out that they have a standard operating procedure for infiltrating what they call “anti-establishment groups” that are engaged in first amendment activity. So it’s been a very interesting week and so far there’s been a very, very little particularized evidence of any of the six people that are actually on trial and most of the stuff they are actually presenting is just video of that day and meetings that they plan to protest.

Michael Slate: You know one of the things that really got me too is the whole way they painted this. I mean, it is true that this Veritas group has a reputation, a well-deserved reputation as, oh can we say, what? Pigs? 

Sam Menefee-Libey: Yeah. So there was very interesting testimony on Wednesday and Thursday from the commander of the civil disturbance unit of the Metropolitan Police Department that day, Commander Keith Deville, and he commented at length about how proud he is to facilitate people’s First Amendment rights. But then in the radio runs that they play, he repeatedly differentiates between protestors and anarchists and he seems fully preoccupied with anarchists. It was very telling to watch him repeatedly testify that officers used restraint despite emptying multiple gallons of pressured cans of pepper spray from MK-46 pepper spray canisters, which are nicknamed by the police as super-soakers, that they threw dozens of stinger grenades which have rubber cluster munitions and are concussion grenades. It was really stunning to see all of that and to have it constantly come back to the cops just totally, unabashedly talking about really profiling people.

Michael Slate: What they’re doing with this Project Veritas and the filming and all this other stuff and the cop being present in the meeting is that they really are trying to lay the groundwork to push a conspiracy charge straight up, right? 

Sam Menefee-Libey: Yes, yes. I mean the five property destruction charges, which are five of the six felony charges that folks are facing—that’s 50 of the 61 year potential sentence—are charged under conspiracy liability. So yeah, that is what they’re pushing, and we’re really learning a lot about how the Metropolitan Police Department apparently has a bunch of standard operating procedures for actually going after and doing intelligence gathering on first amendment activities. They do it surreptitiously with undercover officers, and it’s very disturbing. 

Michael Slate: Let’s talk about this other thing that’s been also very disturbing for anybody who reads about this—the precedent-setting moves by the prosecution demanding names and the email addresses of—are you ready for this, folks?—1.3 million people who visited the Inauguration Day protest website. They’ve also been allowed to search Facebook messages comments and friends’ lists.

Sam Menefee-Libey: Yeah, I mean there’s been a tremendous amount of overreach from the very beginning... The legal theories are incredibly broad and scary, the warrants that they’ve put out. They’ve even raided someone’s house on the strength of apparently that video that they showed in court, and took a bunch of stuff… just a bunch of innocuous things. They took his anti-fascist flag because apparently having an anti-fascist flag is a bad thing. The digital search warrants have been frightening. They were asking for IP addresses for folks who have visited DisruptJ20.org because Disrupt J20 was the umbrella organization that facilitated a bunch of autonomous protests that day. They’re just sort of repeatedly asking for things that shock the conscious of the average person, and we’re really stunned that a number of judges allow them to do so all over again—from the judge admitting the Veritas video as evidence to allowing the search warrants to go forth with only minor changes.

Michael Slate: Now let’s talk about Alexei Wood, a journalist.

Sam Menefee-Libey: Yeah he’s one of the six [people now on trial]. Alexei is a photo journalist who actually live-streamed the whole march, and so they’re using his video as evidence. But he clearly didn’t engage in any property destruction because he was live-streaming himself the entire time. They’re charging him with conspiracy along with everyone else. He and another journalist, Aaron Cantú, are still facing charges. Both of them are freelancers anyone who cares about press freedom should also be incredibly concerned about that. 

Michael Slate: When we last spoke, was it Alexei Wood’s camera work, his films, that they were trying to seize and use in the trial?

Sam Menefee-Libey: Yeah, so they did seize the camera and multiple SD cards. I think it’s actually creating more trouble for them than they were hoping, because it has a bunch of his photojournalist work on it and a bunch of his photographer-for-hire work on it. It supports the fact that he was, in fact, there as a photographer and as a videographer. But yeah, they seized all of his equipment, and they’re using his video, the live-stream video that he took, against everyone.

Michael Slate: It’s clear that the prosecutor is trying to build a conspiracy case. But basically from what I’ve read from what other people have said, and what you’ve said, they’re not anywhere near proving any kind of conspiracy case. So what are they doing?

Sam Menefee-Libey: You know, I think that is a big question. I think that they’re hoping to establish precedence for a lower standard for proving conspiracy. And they’re hoping to—they simply say that showing up to a protest that was publicly advertised as an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist march where folks should wear black, if you showed up and wore black and stayed after some minor property destruction, that you then were automatically part of the conspiracy. The judge has even had several really ominous rulings on sitting case law where conspiracy can be spontaneous and non-verbal so they really are pushing, that if you went to this protest and you stayed and you were still present after property destruction occurred, that means you become part of the conspiracy. It is terrifying.

Michael Slate: And if you raised an eyebrow there in the crowd, you can also be made part of the conspiracy, right? 

Sam Menefee-Libey: Yeah, they’re also saying that people chanting is evidence of conspiracy. This really is very frightening.

Michael Slate: All right, Sam, you have a wrap-up thing you want to tell people before we go?

Sam Menefee-Libey: My organization, DC Legal Posse, has been around but also Defend J20 Resistance has been great—and you can find more information on DefendJ20Resistance.org and you can donate money, you can provide support for defendants....

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/522/defiant-dream-7-continue-protest-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Defiant “Dream 7”—Just Out of Jail—Continue Protest to Demand Legal Status for DACA Youth

December 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

On Wednesday night, December 20, seven young undocumented immigrants along with another activist walked out of a Washington, DC jail after six days of a courageous hunger strike behind bars to demand that Dreamers receive legal status. Dreamers, like these hunger strikers known as the Dream 7, are immigrants who were brought to the U.S. without documents when they were children and had been receiving temporary protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The day after getting out of jail, the Dream 7 were right back out on the frontlines, joining a protest at the U.S. Capitol.

In September, the Trump/Pence regime ended DACA and gave Congress six months to replace it. That deadline is fast approaching, and beginning in early March some 700,000 to 800,000 Dreamers who have grown up and lived most all their lives in the U.S. could begin to face deportation. There have been protests around the country against the government’s threats to deport the Dreamers.

The Dream 7 and another person were arrested on Friday, December 15 after engaging in civil disobedience outside the offices of Democratic NY Sen. Chuck Schumer and Republican Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo. In jail, they began a hunger strike to demand that Schumer and the Democrats push through a “clean” Dream Act, as part of a spending bill being taken up in Congress, giving legal protection to the Dreamers—and not make deals with Trump and accept heightened border “security” and other anti-immigrant measures.

Cata Santiago, one of the Dream 7 said, “Time and time again politicians have failed to stand by our community. Now, at the peak of the Dream Act fight, Chuck Schumer and the Democrats won’t hold their promises to protect us. That’s why, after sacrificing so much in jail for these six days, we are leaving now—because we need to continue mobilizing. The only way we will win is by fighting for our community ourselves, and not relying on politicians like Schumer who just end up letting us down and betraying Dreamers.”

These young fighters are putting a lot on the line with their courageous action and stand. They are an inspiration to others to get out into the streets against the anti-immigrant attacks and other fascist outrages and demand that this regime must go!

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/522/michael-slate-interview-with-Basilisa-alonso-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Michael Slate Interview with Basilisa Alonso of Our Dream Coalition

The Brave DACA Fighters—Taking Action in the Face of a Dangerous Situation

December 21, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is excerpted from an interview with Basilisa Alonso Friday, December 18, 2017 for The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica radio.

Revolution/revcom.us features interviews from The Michael Slate show to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theatre, 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 Revolution/revcom.us.

This interview, which discusses the December 15 civil disobedience action by seven DACA youth (known as the Dream 7) and another activist and their arrest, was done before they were released from jail on Wednesday, December 20.

 

Michael Slate: In September, Trump announced his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Obama-era program that kept undocumented immigrants who'd been brought to the United States as children from being deported. Now, seven DACA recipients have been arrested in the offices of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, demanding that they, along with other members of Congress who previously expressed support for the Dreamers, live up to their word. The DACA recipients are demanding that members of Congress block any spending bill that does not include a Clean Dream Act [giving legal status to DACA recipients].

Here to speak with us is Basilisa Alonso, who is a volunteer with the Our Dream Coalition. I wanted to start by saying that someone called me and said, “Have you seen this? This is so important.” There's so much on the line here, and there's so much bravery, and it's something that people everywhere have to pay attention to, respect, and actually think of what it means for them in the conditions we're living in today. So why don't you tell us about the recent action that was taken by these seven Dreamers?

Basilisa Alonso: Sure. On Friday, seven undocumented youth and one ally went to Sen. Schumer's office and Rep. Curbelo's office. The reason why they went there was because these are two people, especially Sen. Schumer, who has positioned himself to be a leader, and who has multiple times said he stands with Dreamers, but just last week he was already backtracking on that and saying that the Dream Act could be brought up for a vote later on. That's something that is totally different than what he has been saying up until a few days ago.

These really brave people took action, because we're asking that this issue no longer get kicked along down the road. We've been waiting for over 10 years. This has been a long time in the making. People are losing their status—every single day about 120 people. We just can't wait right now. If they say that they stand with Dreamers, then they need to prove it.

Michael Slate: You said it was a very dangerous situation for people. Why?

Basilisa Alonso: Because people are already losing their status. There are about 120 DACA recipients every day that lose status. As we are seeing with our brave comrades who are in jail right now, DACA is no longer a guaranteed protection. ICE has been alerted about one of our colleagues in jail, and that puts the entire group at risk. So ICE could potentially detain them. Every day that they spend in jail heightens the risk of ICE intervening and perhaps detaining them.

This is something that can be fixed. All we're asking is that Sen. Schumer and Rep. Curbelo come out and publicly pledge that they have the votes necessary to stop any spending bill that doesn't include the Dream Act.

Michael Slate: When you talk about what the congressional people are saying, what the system is saying to people, it's very different than what the youth and other people, the Dreamers, are actually demanding. There's a certain amount of righteousness that's really important that's on the side of the people.  And there's a certain amount of dishonesty and just flimflamming on the side of the system.

Basilisa Alonso: You're absolutely right. This is something that we are told some things privately. We are told some things publicly. But essentially what we want is for something to happen already. It's never been “our time.” It's never been the right time for any type of immigration bill to come up. The last time we had any sort of immigration relief was in 1986. We really just can't wait. We need the Dream Act now to protect everyone who is losing status.

We always knew that DACA was only a temporary fix, because that was something that we have to renew every couple of years, and we knew that there was always the possibility that if a president was in office who didn't have the same views as President Obama, they could revoke that at any time, like it has happened.

Politicians have told us, especially Democrats, that they are on our side. This is something we're constantly told, that we have been told for many, many years, that we should focus on Republicans. But let's not forget that in 2010, the Dream Act failed because five Democrats didn't vote with their party. We just want to make sure that everyone remembers that, and that no one forgets that, and that Sen. Schumer actually whips his party to not vote for a spending bill that does not include the Dream Act. And we also need his guarantee that he has the votes necessary to make this happen, to make the Dream Act happen this week.

Michael Slate: This is a very serious matter for many. How many hundreds of thousands of people . . .

Basilisa Alonso: 800,000.

Michael Slate: This is a massive crime against humanity, when they're talking about just rolling down the tracks and deporting people. People don't think about this. It really can go from what it is today—where you're having deportations that are sort of behind the screen—to when you're actually having railroad cars filled with people, deporting them.

Basilisa Alonso: And that's something they can't turn away from. What happened on Friday [with the arrests], we're showing that this is what's going to happen. This is going to be our reality if nothing is fixed. We're also asking that we get the Dream Act, but with no negative attachments. We don't want any money for the Border Patrol. We don't want any money for the wall. We don't want our communities to be criminalized. My parents are not criminals. My parents are the original Dreamers.

We want the Dream Act, but not at the cost of our families. And that's something that they can't turn away from. Sen. Schumer, Rep. Curbelo and the rest of Congress will go home and spend a very lovely time with their family for Christmas. But for our families that's not going to be the case. A lot of us go home every single night and don't know if we're going to see our families the next day. And that's the reality that we live in. I know it's hard for someone who doesn't understand the reality that we live in to wrap their heads around, but that's what's happening.

The fact that seven people are sitting in DC jail right now, and have been exposed to ICE, that's just a reality that Congress can't push aside. They have to face that. They were arrested and they're in DC Jail for simply asking that Sen. Schumer really prove that he is the leader that he says he is and that he really stands with Dreamers. And the same thing with Rep. Curbelo, who says that he stands with Dreamers.

Michael Slate: Just so people know, 11,000 people have lost their status so far, and every day, 122 more people lose their DACA status. So every day without DACA threatens deportations for hundreds of people, right?

Basilisa Alonso: Absolutely. As soon as we lose our status, we are exposed to deportation. That is especially dangerous for people at border towns because of the interaction with the Border Patrol. One thing that Sen. Schumer seems to forget is that New York is a border state. We border Canada. So there's plenty of people, plenty of farm workers, who get deported all the time from interaction with Border Patrol.

So losing our protection is horrible, but the other thing is that we won't be able to work any more. This is going to be one of the most massive layoffs if you think about it like that. We have 800,000 people who are no longer going to be able to work – to contribute to society and provide for their families.

Michael Slate: What if some students are picked up by ICE or whatever, and they're run out like this, what is the impact on the families left behind? Do they then become susceptible to ICE and deportation?

Basilisa Alonso: We simply don't know. The government said, come out, come forward, come out of the shadows. We're going to grant you this protection. Don't be afraid. We won't use your personal information against you. But we don't know if that's going to be true or not with this administration. This administration could potentially utilize the information that we used when we applied for DACA to go after us and our families.

Michael Slate: Tell me something about the people who got arrested. They made a decision that morally and politically, they were not going to bend to the rules. They've undertaken a lot of actions in the jail, I understand.

Basilisa Alonso: They were arrested on Friday [December 15]. Today is the fourth day that they have spent in jail. They have also been engaging in a hunger strike. So their bellies are empty, but we know that they said that their hearts are full with the strength of the community. We are showing up to show them that we are there, that we stand with them. But again, they can come out tomorrow. All we need is for Sen. Schumer and Rep. Curbelo to do their job.

Michael Slate: I'd like you to talk for a minute about the hypocrisy of the Democrats. You have Schumer and all these people, and there's a stench of hypocrisy surrounding everything they're doing in relation to this.

Basilisa Alonso: Absolutely. I come from New York, and when people think of New York, they think of New York City and its welcoming policies toward immigrants. But I grew up right outside of New York in Westchester County, which is a little more conservative. I think that people don't really see New York as a place that's hostile to immigrants, but any place outside of New York City can be a hostile place.

We've been told throughout this very long journey that now is not our time. It's never been our time. It's never been the right time to do something about immigration. When it's midterm year, they say we can't do that because it's going to harm Democrats who are running for reelection. For example, when President Obama came in, he said that immigration was going to be his priority. Latinos came out in support because in addition to education and health care, he said he was going to do something for us, and he didn't. We were put on the back burner. They said wait, now is not your time.

In 2010, when we lost the Dream Act because of five Democrats, they said it was because of reelection. They were facing tough reelection. “But we're with you and we'll do something.” When DACA happened, that was some pressure from our community. We had people sitting in at President Obama's reelection offices to bring attention to the fact that he hadn't kept his promises. So he gave us DACA, but because of the work the community put in.

But then we wanted something more permanent, because we knew that in a sense, that was just breadcrumbs. But again they told us, now is not your time. Now here we are in 2017, and we have an administration that is revving up their deportation machine. They're deporting people indiscriminately. And they're telling us again, this is not the time.

So then when is the time? If we couldn't do it under a Democratic president when we had a majority in both houses, and now we can't do it now with a president who is coming after me and my family, then when is the time? We can't wait any more.

Michael Slate: Absolutely. What kind of response have you been getting from people who hear about this?

Basilisa Alonso: Yes. We have been receiving an outpouring of support from the community. There's been more DACA recipients who have been just inspired by the big sacrifice that these seven people and one ally are taking. They're literally putting their livelihood on the line. That's just something really inspiring. And it's a shame, frankly, that seven people have to risk deportation in order to move leaders in Congress. I really wish that Congress could have a quarter of the strength that these people are showing right now.

Michael Slate: When I heard about this, I was very moved. I thought, here are people whose freedom, whose safety, whose very lives are at risk here if they dare to stand up and do this. I want to talk about that, because there's an overall importance to this action, saying this at this time, under this regime – and we have a fascist regime in power. To stand up against them like this is not only brave, but extremely important in terms of the example it sets for people everywhere else.

Basilisa Alonso: I think that one thing that these folks are giving us is hope. That we can stand up and we can fight back, even under this administration. We may not be able to vote. We may not be able to pay high-powered lobbyists, but we have the power of our stories. That's what they're using. They're using their stories and hopes to motivate the American public to stand with us. Because we can't do this alone. We need those affected, community members and our allies to stand with us. We need congressional representatives to realize that my friends right now have been in jail for four days now. ICE knows about them. And this is something that they can end. We're just asking that they finally do their job after two decades.

Michael Slate: Now, you talk about stories, and that's important as well. Let's talk about that. Give people a sense of what those stories are.

Basilisa Alonso: We have one person who is very young. Her parents are undocumented. They're both farm workers. They work from sunup to sundown. They get treated unfairly; their job is backbreaking. But here she is, speaking up for herself and speaking up for her family, and just taking that risk, because she knows that even if something happens to her, even if she has to suffer for a week to get Congress to act, what we're going to get is hopefully protection for her, but not at the expense of her migrant, farm working parents.

Michael Slate: I think it's so important for people to understand what people are facing and the fact that in the face of all that, that they have the heart and the soul and the thinking—the broadness of mind and the dedication to stand up against this regime and the horror it's bringing down.

Basilisa Alonso: There's a saying, “When they take everything away from you, they even take your fear.” That's a saying very popular in Latin America. We've been pushed to the brink where our backs are against the wall. We are at this point laying all our cards on the table. We are laying our hearts bare. We're saying, we need your help. We need the American public to make those calls, to hold their members of Congress accountable, and we need our undocumented community to stand up. We're not going to let them drive us back into the shadows. That's what they're going to do.

We've been able to come out of the shadows. DACA was a win from the community. We won DACA because we had people, like the people sitting in jail right now, who risked a lot, even with no protection against deportation. They participated in civil disobedience, and they were arrested and they could have been deported. But they put everything on the line to fight for all of us. For all the 800,000 people who have DACA, and for all their families.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/522/yemen-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

America—A Force for Good in the World?
Tell That to the People of Yemen

December 18, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

What would you say and what would you do if you knew the United States was helping wage a war of starvation against millions of the world’s poorest people? A war waged by bombing farms and markets, attacking fishing boats, and blockading food shipments. A war that has left three-fourths of a country’s people, including children, without enough food and millions on the brink of starvation.

Take a hard look at what’s going on right now in Yemen. The U.S. has staunchly backed Saudi Arabia’s war there for nearly three years, supplying billions in bombs and military equipment, refueling its warplanes, providing intelligence, and supporting its naval blockade.

The aim of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is to crush the Houthi rebellion because they see it as a threat to their reactionary interests. The Houthi movement is based among followers of the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, who make up more than a third of Yemen’s 25 million people. The Houthis are fighting under the reactionary Islamist banner of Ansar Allah (Partisans of God) and are politically supported by and have some ties to the reactionary Islamic Republic of Iran. But the Saudi-U.S. war isn’t just targeting Houthi fighters but millions of civilians as well.

Bombing Fishing Boats and Water Facilities

On December 12, a fishing boat off Yemen’s coast was attacked without warning by a Saudi helicopter. This wasn’t an accident or an isolated incident. Fishing is crucial to Yemen’s shrinking food supply, and Saudi Arabia and its allies have attacked 250 Yemeni fishing boats and killed 152 fishermen so far.

There have also been 942 Saudi air attacks on farms, 114 on markets, 34 on mosques, 147 on school buildings, 26 on universities, 378 on transport, and 61 on food storage sites since March 2015, according to a December 12, 2017 article in the Guardian . Saudi ships (with U.S. naval support) blockade the ports of a country that imports 80 percent of its food. All this is evidence, according to one study, of a deliberate strategy “to destroy food production and distribution” in Houthi-controlled areas. Saudi bombing has left 20 million people in Yemen without access to clean water and sanitation along with adequate food. The result is mass hunger, looming famine, and the largest cholera epidemic in history, now affecting over 800,000 people, half of them children under 18, with 4,000 new cases every day.

The UN calls “deliberate deprivation of resources needed for the group’s physical survival ... such as clean water, food and medical services” an act of genocide!

U.S. Response to the Human Catastrophe

How have the U.S. rulers, who claim to be a force for good in the world, responded to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen? With outrage at images of mothers desperately comforting their cholera-stricken infants? Condemnation of the famine stalking millions, crippling its youth? Declarations that the killing must end after news of the latest Saudi air massacre, which killed another 39 people in Yemen’s capital Sana'a?

In a high-profile press conference on Yemen this past week, America’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, made no mention of the millions on the verge of perishing from starvation or cholera because of U.S.-Saudi collaboration. She didn’t display any of the hundreds and hundreds of U.S. bombs and missiles that Saudi Arabia has dropped on water and sewage treatment plants, hospitals and clinics, apartments and mosques, and funerals and wedding parties in Yemen.

Instead, Haley directed her outrage... at Iran. Presenting what she declared was part of an Iranian missile fired from Yemen at Saudi Arabia, Haley claimed it proved that the Iranian regime was supplying the Houthis. She accused Iran of being responsible for the carnage in Yemen and claimed it poses “a threat to the peace and security of the entire world.” Offering no proof of where or when the missile she displayed was recovered, made, or used, Haley denounced Iran for “allowing missiles like this to be fired over innocent civilians”—as Saudi-dropped U.S.-made bombs and missiles are raining down on Yemeni civilians!

Who’s Greatest Mass Murderer on the Face of the Earth?

So in the face of Yemen’s deepening hell of hunger and famine, Haley reaffirmed U.S. backing for Saudi Arabia’s barbaric war and escalated threats against Iran, raising the danger of even greater slaughter to come. (See sidebar.) The U.S. hand in the genocidal war in Yemen isn’t some “unfortunate exception.” In the name of “freedom,” “democracy,” and “saving lives,” the U.S. has repeatedly targeted civilians and carried out massacres: three million in the 1950-1953 Korean War, 500,000 by Indonesian generals at the behest of the CIA in 1965; two to three million during the 1965-75 Vietnam War; over a million Iraqis by starvation and disease due to U.S.-UN sanctions in the 1990s; over 1.3 million in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan as a result of the unending “war on terror” launched in 2001; and the list could go on and on.

This staggering violence and slaughtering civilians has been carried out to maintain and expand America’s global empire of capitalist exploitation and oppression—a system that has ground up the lives of literally billions.

Are these the actions of a “force for good in the world”?

Stop Thinking Like Americans and Start Thinking About Humanity!

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/521/digging-into-ba-on-fascism-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

The Bob Avakian Institute Leads a Discussion on the Film The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

“Where does he start, why, where does he go, and what did you think?”

December 16, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This question began a recent discussion of Bob Avakian’s filmed speech, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible. The film showing and discussion itself was sponsored by The Bob Avakian Institute last week in Chicago.

The audience was diverse in regard to age, background, experience, and point of view—though all were pretty firmly against the Trump/Pence regime and just about everybody had been acting against it. Many of the people there had seen the film, some more than once. Yet people found themselves able and wanting to dive back in and go deeper. At the end, someone remarked that what was different in this discussion was the way that the leader of it kept taking people back to the content that BA was putting out there, and to the method and approach behind that content. While there’s a lot to be done in the immediate, and a whole lot of things that always get sparked in people’s thinking when they watch BA, including ideas on what to do, this person thought it was important that things kept getting returned to the actual content of what we had been watching.

People grappled in particular with just how deeply embedded in U.S. history and reality, and overall human history, this fascist movement is—all the different layers of causes and dynamics that led to this moment. From that initial vantage point, and going deeper as we went, people were able to weigh and approach objectively all the things they ran into—for instance, that the Constitution would prevent fascism. They were sparked to think about the whole world and the developments over the past decades—including the rise of Christian fascism (with one person bringing in parallel developments in Latin America).

 The “Great Tautological Fallacy” sparked people to make a lot of connections—from the history and symbolism of the Statue of Liberty, to the way the culture promotes superheroes and wars and does NOT promote the real history, the content of “taking a knee,” and the importance of the upsurges against police murder a few years ago and sexual abuse today. People did telling exposure of what the Europeans did to Native Americans, including vicious massacres singling out “Two Spirit”1 people in particular.

The Alabama election where Roy Moore was just barely defeated was on people’s minds and came into the discussion in ways that deepened an appreciation for what is in this talk by BA—both the point on the straight line from the Confederacy to Trump, and the ways in which this is exposed and pursued in the speech.

This was part of an overall emphasis in the discussion on BA’s focus on slavery in the U.S.—why did he go there so heavily? What light did this shed on things—and how did it differ from other analyses, other “frameworks of understanding?” Again, quite a few people went at this point, bringing in different dimensions and different understandings.

People were led to contrast this at one point with a recent speech by Obama, where slavery and other outrages are presented as somehow counter to the main foundations and direction of U.S. history and society—including the fact that Obama talked constantly in this speech about “different narratives,” in contrast to going for the truth and unsparingly confronting it; that is, what is modeled in BA’s speech.2

Why is something like this so crucial for a critical mass of people to understand? Why must people very broadly be exposed to this—and yet why can people still act, based on what they do know, even as they are learning more and wrangling with—including disagreeing in part with—the analysis that’s in here? This too came up for grappling and there is more to explore about those dynamics.

Due to time constraints, the discussion was not able to do much more than touch on other critical and major themes of the talk by BA in their own right—the emergence and role of Christian fascism in the U.S., the U.S. role in fueling the growth of Islamic fundamentalism, the big challenges that the U.S. empire is facing around the world, and the problems of American chauvinism expressed in the Great Tautological Fallacy. Nor could we go that deeply into the problems facing the U.S. rulers that have led to the Trump/Pence regime’s fascist solutions, or BA’s analysis of why the Democrats have no real answers that are in the interests of humanity and why it is so imperative to have a movement of millions to drive out the Trump/Pence regime for humanity’s sake and if there is any hope of getting to a better world. The point was made—there are layers and layers to this talk, and a need to spread it and get more deeply into it, and to keep discussing and thinking about what is in there.

There was time to watch and discuss one question and answer from the speech—BA’s response to the question as to why the American people were not more incensed and ready to protest at U.S. outrages against other countries (Korea, in this case) and what this had to do with the chances to really prevent the full consolidation of fascism.

 People really “felt” the question, and wrangled with it. They commented on the repressive state laws against protest pointed to by BA, the Great Tautological Fallacy (again), and the way the “windows are closing” on the chance to actually stop this—all as part of BA’s emphasis on the need and basis to struggle with people about all of this.

Here too people grappled with the content of the answer but also—and even more fundamentally—how BA approached this. There were no shortcuts or easy answers; if anything, BA brought in other dimensions of the problem as well, even as he was exploring paths of possible solution. You got the feeling of someone confronting, grappling with, and working on a problem—and inviting others into that grappling. There was not a hint of anything pat or precooked or designed to “buck people’s spirits up.”

The program had opened with an introduction about the work of BA, its significance for the whole world, and the particular role of The Bob Avakian Institute in relation to that. It closed with the leader of the discussion coming back to that significance—and saying that there was no way that anything good can come out of the situation in the world today without humanity really grappling with this work; at the same time, if that did happen, a future could be forged that was far different, even beautiful, despite the damage and destruction of the environment and people that so directly looms before and weighs on us.

 


1. People in Native cultures who did not strictly conform to conventional “male” or “female” gender roles. [back]

2. On December 5, 2017, Obama spoke at the Economic Club of Chicago. This speech is significant on different levels, and a full analysis of it deserves to be done. But for the purposes of this article, Obama said: “The America I know is based on freedom of press and religion, endorses free markets, is willing to be part of big global problems such as Zika. The other narrative is America First, for people who want to find security and are looking for simple answers in the face of massive disruptions in the workplace due to automation and globalization. The technology revolution has made it easy to deliver powerful stories that cause people to question their basic assumptions, leading to a clash of cultures. The question is whether we will resort to nationalism as part of our need to assert our superiority over others or whether we will go back to a narrative that people all over the world aspire to.” [back]

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/522/reflecting-on-bob-avakians-speech-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Letter from a reader:

Reflecting on Bob Avakian’s Speech “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible”

December 17, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

There are many ways to watch this speech and many dimensions to appreciate—but after November 18—as we do the rigorous work to scientifically step back and sum up what it is we are trying to accomplish, what it is we are encountering and how we learn from an intense year of fighting to win millions of people to the need to drive out this regime—it is worth re-watching the speech Bob Avakian (BA) made this October and learning from the method he approached this talk with.

Specifically there is a difference between more positivist approaches to summation—that is to say summation done very much from within the terms of how we did at this or that aspect of our work or within the terms as they are presented by the “resistance,” or the maneuvers of the Trump regime; we need to step back all the way to the reality of the situation we are working to transform, including in its deeper underlying dimensions.

“People always were and always will be the foolish victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling classes.” (Lenin, as quoted and referenced in The New Communism by BA)

The way people look at things is a reflection—not in a mechanical one-to-one sense, but in a fundamental sense it is a reflection—of the position and inclinations of some social group or some class of people in society. Spontaneously people look at what is to be done about the current—or any—situation and try to rearrange things or reality within the existing framework of how society is organized and how things are done. But “how things are done” is dominated by “the forces of some ruling classes” and the inclination to stay in these terms are also shaped and reinforced by the relative position of people within that framework.

Now look back at this speech―including the question recently asked at an event sponsored by The Bob Avakian Institute on where BA begins this speech—and how this analysis is rooted in the whole history of the country and the country’s role in the world: the history of classes and class society and the specific and peculiar history of the forging and formation of the U.S. on a foundation of white supremacy and the direct links and connections from the Confederacy to the fascists of today—or the GTF (Great Tautological Fallacy) and the widely held cohering national mythology of American exceptionalism.

Communists are going to work on this situation and these contradictions—vexing ones given we are dealing with what is fighting to remain the world’s sole superpower and a large middle class that has benefitted from this, with some sections of these strata responding to changes and the undermining of their position in the imperialist world economy and losing what was a traditional way of life by looking to and taking up a fascist resolution to this, while others are horrified and repulsed by everything Trumpian and who welcome the ways of life enriched by world migrations and integration, the changes in the position of women, the throwing into the air of traditional gender roles and the increasing role of science and the scientific method to understanding and being in the world, but who are also looking to maintain the comforts and stability living in the West bring.

Avakian is not looking at this with world-weary, determinist “realism” but with an approach of seeing these as contradictions rooted in an underlying reality—a reality that is in motion and going through convulsive change—and a recognition that the stability people are going to great lengths of self-deceit to maintain—is also coming to an end and where abrupt changes that people tend to see as “it couldn’t happen here” can happen very quickly. These are contradictions that can be worked on—and must be—but the freedom in this necessity is not clear without a method that digs down into the foundations of the underlying reality.

If you look back at this speech you can see BA approaching this not with determinist realism, cynical realpolitik, or tailing the outlook of the middle classes but struggling with people (in this speech he speaks to different sections of the people) with strategic confidence, with a lot of heart and compassion, and very wide arms. And that is BA applying the new synthesis he has been the architect of—putting the living science of communism back on its scientific foundations.

This speech is an application of Enriched What Is to Be Done-ism—worked with and described by BA in “Unresolved Contradictions and Driving Forces for Revolution”:

What is involved in “Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism” is sharply and scientifically exposing the system, bringing to light the causes and reasons for the oppression that different sections of the people suffer and the outrages that masses of people detest; showing, in a living way, how all this is rooted in and has as its source the system of capitalism-imperialism, which perpetuates and enforces this on a daily basis and in horrific dimensions; illustrating, through the application of a scientific, dialectical materialist method, how different sections of the people tend to respond to different events in society and the world, and how this relates to their position within the overall production and social relations; bringing forward and setting before all, and boldly struggling for, our revolutionary and communist orientation and convictions; and mobilizing people, yes, to fight back against oppression but to do so on the basis and with the orientation and aim of building a movement for revolution, toward the goal of sweeping aside the capitalist-imperialist system, bringing into being a new, socialist system and continuing to advance, together with people struggling throughout the world, toward the final goal of communism; and setting before the masses of people not only the goals of the revolution and the basic strategy for making revolution, as embodied in the line and policies of the party, but also the problems of making revolution, involving growing numbers of the masses in grappling with and helping to resolve these contradictions in the direction of revolution and communism.

While this particular speech by BA is not principally aimed at what the last part of the sentence above speaks to, i.e. getting into the goals and strategy of the revolution per se, it definitely aims to involve growing numbers of masses in grappling with helping to resolve the contradictions involved in driving out the Trump/Pence regime. I think if we are understanding and learning from this method—including comparing and contrasting how we’ve understood and made use of this talk—it should be possible for people to make much better use of this—seeing the decisive difference that this talk can continue to make and taking initiative to get this out to many more people in the immediate period. Having discussions and engagement about this, encouraging many people who are not communists to be grappling with the analysis and method and popularizing this among their own milieus.

Taking this out boldly and creatively will greatly increase our ability to unite very broadly. Based on this kind of engagement and putting the real problems of the revolution before people we should be better able to work with all kinds of people in solving the problems of the revolution—including right now working on what it must take to win people to the necessity and possibility of driving this fascist regime from power—and the better world it would contribute to.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/would-trump-need-approval-to-launch-nuclear-strike-against-north-korea-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Would Trump Need Approval to Launch a Nuclear Strike Against North Korea?

UMass Students Stunned by Right Answer

December 29, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A couple of us took the quiz on the Korean War to the University of Massachusetts, Boston campus. UMass Boston is principally a commuter school, with a very diverse student population, including international students, as well as a higher percentage of vets, older students, and students who work while attending classes. We went on the last day of class. Over the course of two hours, 45 students took the quiz at our table and turned their results in.* Several dozen more took the quiz back to their classes or to the library as they prepared for finals.

Of the 45, only two answered all ten questions correctly with one other getting nine right.  Including questions not answered as incorrect, half of the students scored 50% or worse.

Interestingly, the most difficult question was not on the history of the Korean War, but #10—what approval Trump would need to launch a nuclear strike against North Korea today?  Only seven of the 45 got this question correct. Most students either did not answer this question or answered “d”—“all of the above”, assuming the President would need the approval of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, authorization of Congress, and a review by the Defense Intelligence Agency before being able to launch a nuclear strike.

While many students were upset by their ignorance of the Korean War (with a couple admitting they were not even aware that the war had taken place) and by reading of the reality of what the U.S. had done to the Korean people, the fact that, today, Trump has the freedom to launch a nuclear strike with no constraints was the most disturbing result. Most students had simply assumed that, given the profound implications of unleashing nuclear devastation upon another people, this responsibility would be the most carefully monitored. It hadn’t really been part of their thinking that they could go to bed and wake up with a war being unleashed while they slept.

At one point, some young women selling T-Shirts that read “Build Bridges, Not Walls,” a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., invited us to share their table. They were raising money towards a class project of visiting a town in Mexico, to work with the community and wanted to talk more about the Trump/Pence regime. The women, of different nationalities, had all taken the quiz, with one woman from the Middle East doing the best. They talked about how much they enjoyed going to school but how ignorant they were of the entirety of the history of the United States and how little they learned in school. Even their best professors could only cover so much.  

While everyone was somewhat familiar with the Vietnam War, which was covered in some classes, there was virtually no discussion of Korea—and even with Vietnam, most students had no clue as to the degree of devastation the U.S. had inflicted—the millions of Vietnamese killed in the war, the massacres, and widespread slaughter of civilians. What was on the table was the GTF (Great Tautological Fallacy) that the United States is basically a force for good in the world. While none of these women would have supported that position, they hadn’t really confronted the sheer scope of the horrors the U.S. has and is inflicting on the people of the world.

We were not prepared to show any of the new talk by BA, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, A Talk by Bob Avakian, which was a shortcoming because some of these women would have been prepared to watch at least part of it on the spot. (LESSON HARD LEARNED—NEVER GO ANYWHERE NOT PREPARED TO SHOW THIS TALK!!!)

Since this was the last day of classes, they were all taking off for the holidays so at the end of the day, we agreed that we would come back the beginning of the next semester and not only take the quiz out in the public areas but bring it into classrooms. We are also planning to screen the film of the BA Talk.  


* The actual results are below:

Question 1: 14 chose a, 4-b, 11-c, 7-d, and 9 got it right
Question 2: 12 chose false and 33 got it right
Question 3: 13 chose a, 9 chose b, 13-c, and 10 got it right
Question 4: 10 chose b, 19 -c, 7-d, and 9 got it right
Question 5: 2 chose a, 4-b, 3-d, 5-e, and 31 got it right
Question 6: 2 chose a, 7-b, 8-c, 9-d, and 19 got it right
Question 7: 18 chose false, and 27 got it right
Question 8: 1 chose a, 8-b, 9-d, and 27 got it right
Question 9: 20 chose true and 25 got it right
Question 10: 5 chose a, 1-b, 3-c, 17-d, and 7 got it right

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/erica-garner-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Erica Garner, Fearless Fighter Against Police Murder

December 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Erica Garner, eldest daughter of Eric Garner, passed away on Saturday December 30 at the age of 27.  Her family sent out the following tweet:

 

 

Erica saw her father murdered by the NYPD. Like millions of us, she heard him say, "I can't breathe," over and over again. In response, she became a tireless fighter against police terror, speaking truth to power, no matter who liked it or who didn't. She will be missed.

Erica Garner—Presente!

 

Erica Garner leads protest in 2014 on Staten Island

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/523/alabama-police-brutalize-black-youth-en.html

Revolution #523 December 25, 2017

Enforcing White Supremacy: Alabama Pigs Brutally Beat 17-Year Old Black Youth

Updated January 1, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Ulysses KeAndre Wilkerson, a 17-year-old Black youth was savagely beaten by Troy, Alabama, cops on Saturday night, December 23. These pigs inflicted Ulysses with trauma to the brain, swelling of the brain, massive swelling and bruises on his face, and an eye socket broken in three different places.

After the police were done assaulting the teen, he was first taken to a regional facility in Troy, then to the University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham. When Angela Williams finally got to see her son in the hospital, handcuffed to his bed, she said “I was shocked, horrified, and devastated to see my son this way.” Williams posted horrific photos of her son’s swollen and bloodied face on Facebook, which soon went viral. People in Troy and everywhere that the photos of Ulysses Wilkerson have been seen are outraged, and demand justice and an end to this kind of police brutality. One message on Angela Williams’ Facebook page read: “As a mother, I feel your anger and pain. His crime is evident on his face, He is a young Black man. Nothing he could have done earned him this terrible beating. I pray you get justice for your son. The ‘officers’ who committed this attempted murder should rot in Hell!”

Police claim they approached, chased, and nearly beat the life out of Wilkerson because he was walking out from behind a downtown business Saturday night, and ran when he saw them. Even if this is true, what fucking reason, or right, did they have to approach him, stop him, or chase him? Even they don’t claim he was doing anything wrong. Yet he is referred to by the police chief as “the suspect.”

The Troy police chief said Wilkerson resisted arrest and refused to comply with commands to put his hands behind his back, so “officers had to use physical force to affect the arrest. The force used was reasonable and necessary.” Reasonable to whom? Necessary for what? Reasonable to the enforcers of a system that has enslaved, raped, segregated, lynched, beaten, murdered, and incarcerated Black people since they were dragged to these shores, and while the forms have been “modernized,” the oppression, degradation, and inhumanity have never ceased. Necessary because the message has to be delivered over, and over, and over again—don’t even think about resisting, let alone finally putting an end to this nightmare.

The Pike County district attorney told CNN a different story; that “police said they used force after Wilkerson reached into his waistband for what they feared might be a weapon.” The phrase “reached into his waistband” is pig-speak, used over and over to claim they “feared for their lives” whenever these killers are caught brutalizing or murdering their unarmed target. In this case, the family is supposed to be “grateful” that their son was only beaten bloody—the pigs could have just killed him.

Ulysses Wilkerson is being charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental operations, both misdemeanors. The pigs who left him in a hospital have not been charged with anything.

In the face of community outrage, the Alabama State Bureau of Investigations is now looking into the case, but said they will not release any information about the investigation, nor release the body camera footage of the police attack, until their investigation is finished—sometime in February!

At a press conference held by the family on Friday, a pastor and local activist reported that the teenager, who’s been released from the hospital, has few memories about what happened. “He remembers one thing, a big tall white officer kicking him in the face. He remembers that.”

Hundreds Rally to Condemn Brutality Against Black Teen by Alabama Police

Hundreds of protesters rallied in front of the Troy, Alabama Police Department on Saturday, December 30, to condemn the savage beating of 17-year-old Ulysses Wilkerson by two pigs the previous Saturday night. Troymessenger.com reported that nearly a dozen organizations, including Black Lives Matter groups from Montgomery and Birmingham and a local elected official, spoke at the two-hour rally.

Speakers demanded answers to this horrific beating, including release of the video and audio evidence of what the pigs did. One of the rally organizers said if the family does not have answers by Friday, he would call for a “national rally.” Angela Williams, Ulysses' mother, said, “We will not settle until we know the truth behind the brutal beating of my dear son and these police officers are held accountable for their crime.” Earlier that morning a “Community through Unity” prayer service was held, organized by half a dozen local pastors.