Revolution #540, April 23, 2018 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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

 


 

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Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

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/avakian/film-trump-pence-regime-must-go/index.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

 

WHAT IS IN THIS FILM?

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 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.

WATCH THE FILM, CLIPS AND Q&As HERE.

WHO IS BOB AVAKIAN?

"If you don't have a poetic spirit—or at least a poetic side—it is very dangerous for you to lead a Marxist movement or be the leader of a socialist state."
– Bob Avakian

Bob Avakian (BA) is the architect of a whole new framework of human emancipation, the new synthesis of communism, which is popularly referred to as the "new communism."

BOB AVAKIAN (BA) OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY HERE.


 


 

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Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

A film to change history at a moment when the future hangs in the balance:

Creating a Movement Around the Film of a 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!

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Humanity faces an unprecedented danger. In a world that was already intolerably torn apart by savage inequalities and terrible repression and wars to enforce those inequalities, by the prospect of environmental disaster and the present reality of tens of millions of refugees fleeing for their lives, a fascist regime—the Trump/Pence regime—now has hold of most of the main levers of power in America. Its current moves to consolidate that power and even more aggressively project it, around the world and within the U.S., heighten that danger.

People around the world, including tens of millions within this country, are in anguish over this. They search for ways out, they toggle between falling into despair, closing their eyes to the unfolding horrors, and putting their hopes into elections and/or investigations that without a serious mass struggle below—from people in our hundreds of thousands and millions, will not dislodge the forces intent on bringing a fascist America.

But there is a way to understand this, a way forward... and a way out. This is concentrated in Bob Avakian’s one-hour speech, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible. BA gives the full scope and depth of what we face. He scientifically cuts right to the heart of the deep, historically developed, and systemic roots, as well as the more immediate causes of this regime. He speaks very directly and clearly to the questions about “it can’t happen here” and “what about me and my safety,” and a host of others that stand in the way of people fully confronting it. He raises big questions about the system we live under and points to the revolution that is needed. In doing all this, he compels people to look again at the whole way they view the world. In short, it’s a wake-up film. He does all this with a wide embrace for his whole audience... and as their responses show, people feel it.

If you haven’t watched the film in the past 10 days, stop here and watch it again, now. Then ask yourself: Is there any other talk or article that puts together the making of an American fascism—from its roots in the Confederacy to the rise of Christian fascism? That so sharply reveals why the Democratic Party is no answer, and yet puts forward a way for millions of people to come together to stop this? Because Avakian cuts so deep, and at the same time is accessible to all kinds of people, this film has the potential for hundreds of thousands of people to feel that this is a must-see, and to spread it through social media and their social networks.

If this were to happen, it would make a huge difference... and it could make all the difference. But for the film to really take off requires the active work of all who have seen and been moved by the film. That’s our responsibility—whether we’ve followed BA for years or just now met him through the film. We must, all of us, create a social movement to get this film out to people and connect it with them. What happens with this regime, for good or ill, will have existential ramifications for humanity—and this film can be a key factor in determining what those ramifications will be.

Agitating and Organizing—Go Bold and Go Systematically

But how do we get it out to all of society?

We need to agitate. There’s a way for everyone to do this: those who can get out boldly in a crowd and those who can speak to friends, family, neighbors, and people in their circles. With everyone, we need to take this to people with boldness and imagination.

This is a time when many more people need to go bold: Going to wherever people are gathering to talk about or hear about the issues of the day... to all kinds of cultural events... or even just where people cluster in their daily lives, whether a stop sign at a freeway off-ramp or the platform of a busy train station. It can mean standing up in your classroom before class, or calling people together after work, or—if you’re religious—speaking out in your place of worship.

That means taking the film everywhere, to those who are or have been active, in whatever form, and to those who haven’t. Finding the ways to get the word out very broadly, through the posters, social media memes, palm cards, and a hundred other forms. It means, if you are new to this and even if you’re not, calling together people to come over to your house and watch it. (See here for experiences in taking the film everywhere.)

And we need to organize. Sitting down with those who do connect with this film and talking with them about their social networks (online, “in real life,” and both) and how to spread it and deepen it and working with them to do that... even as we learn from them more about those networks. If people have questions—and they will—let’s first off go to the film clips of the Questions and Answers with BA.

One key way to organize and build this movement: getting people’s responses in the form of statements and seeing if they would allow their statements to be used to promote the film. Then encouraging them to spread those statements themselves.

Another key way: encourage people, after every showing, to check out and join Refuse Fascism! Clearly, building Refuse Fascism is one of the big aims of the film (and Refuse Fascism itself has taken up the film as a critical part of what it’s doing right now).

People should begin soon to pull together actual committees to spread the film. People who are getting the film around, in whatever way, need a place to collectively sum up their activity, to talk about what they’re running into and what they’re learning, to pool their ideas and lay new plans in a setting where people can spark off each other. These should be lively places, as purposefully intent but also as matter of fact and engaging as the film and the Questions and Answers session themselves. They need to have an atmosphere where even as people are organized and serious about getting down to work, there is room for wide-ranging discussion about all kinds of things, most definitely including the vision and better world that IS possible, as BA puts it in the title, based on the new communism.

Last week’s article on “the plan to change everything” proposed major film showings in late May or early June, with a plan to project them very broadly into people’s consciousness. This will be part of the overall thing we’re talking about here—jump-starting this movement, getting a critical mass of viewers and “spreaders” going that sets off a social chain reaction where this film gets way beyond the people who today have seen it. These committees will play an absolutely necessary role in making those showings as high-impact as possible. These committees should also be a way to draw people in who come forward in the next two weeks of “taking BA—including this film!—to campus.”

Building the Movement FOR Revolution

This film makes the case like no other on fascism, how it relates to the history of this country and the nature of this society—and what to do about it. And it also opens the door to the most radical revolutionary on the planet—BA, who has put communism on a much more fully scientific foundation and who is leading the movement for revolution in the U.S. Revolutionary communists need to hold that door as wide open as possible.

The Revolution Clubs should actively work in and build these committees that are dedicated to promoting the film, and at the same time should also actively put forward the stance and activities of the clubs, making it possible for people to work with and join them, as well. If the clubs are not growing through all this, we’re gonna need to stop and sum up why—and then change it.

The Party itself should be opening up many opportunities for people to study and discuss BA’s work—whether it be THE NEW COMMUNISM, the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, or any other foundational work. The Party, too, needs to grow, qualitatively and quantitatively.

All of this—popularizing and bringing forth active followers of BA, forging and growing the Revolution Clubs, further building Refuse Fascism around its singular mission to drive out this regime—can really take a leap with this film becoming a big deal in society, and is, correctly approached, all part of making revolution at this juncture in history.

Again, It’s Up to US

Which leads us back to this incredible film, and the need to get it ultimately to millions and to unite right now with scores, then hundreds, then thousands around the need to do just that. Some good things have begun to be done. Some of them you can read about in this issue of our site. But this is all still just a tiny glimmer of the potential.

So there is the potential. But even more important is the necessity we face, and that is this: If humanity is going to have any chance of getting out of the disaster looming in on us, this film and its message has to get to hundreds of thousands, and then millions. That, and nothing less, has to be the measuring stick for everything.

And, once more—that’s up to us.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/barefoot-doctoring-on-campus-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Heading into “Take BA to Campus Week”
April 30-May 4

“Barefoot Doctoring”* at San Francisco State University Film Showing...Wrangling with Social Work Prof...Organizing at New York City College...A Student's Video Comment

Updated April 30, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In the question and answer period of BA’s talk on “THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!”, BA makes the point that, “In every significant and positive social movement and struggle, students have always played a really important role.” Right now, this is most clearly felt in the absence of students in the battle to drive out this regime. But BA’s answer to the question goes on to make the point that we need to understand this better as we are working to transform it.

From coast to coast, people have been out on campuses, gaining some experience and making beginning headway in the efforts to take the film of BA’s talk THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible to campuses. Below is some correspondence on these experiences. New reports are coming in, and we will continue to post them on this page.

Right now, before the spring semester ends at many schools, is a critical time to step up the work to impact campuses with this film. “Take BA to Campus Week” begins April 30 (though in some instances it started a week earlier or will start a week later). We need to come out of this period with a deeper understanding of the mood of the students, a real presence on some critical campuses and activated cores of people who are into this film and want to see it go further, as well as people who are getting into BA and wrangling in a more overall way with the new communism. And we need growing Revolution Clubs.

There are different strengths and weaknesses to the efforts described in the correspondences below, and different things to learn from each. None of these should be seen as THE answer; all of them are actually parts of an ensemble of what revolutionary political work on campus should look like (an ensemble that would also include things like programs on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, “HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution”; ongoing study groups on THE NEW COMMUNISM by Bob Avakian; bringing people from those who catch the hardest hell onto the campuses while bringing students into the battles and even just the lives of the communities off-campus; broad distribution of Science and Revolution by Ardea Skybreak; and other things).

But reports sent in to revcom.us are invaluable if we are going to actually distill an overall approach to this crucial arena. Learning from these experiences and forging an overall approach will be key to that, and these reports and observations should contribute to that.

Watch Q&A Part 2

Barefoot Doctoring at a New York College

April 30, 2018

For the last two months, a few of us have been taking the film of BA’s talk, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible to a local New York City college with a large proportion of Black, Latino and immigrant students...

Read more

From a reader:

For the last two months, a few of us have been taking the film of BA’s talk, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible to a local New York City college with a large proportion of Black, Latino and immigrant students. On March 1, nearly 20 students joined with us for 11 minutes of silence in support of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

Our approach has been pretty simple. We distribute palm cards for the film to students, faculty and staff outside the school, while focusing on briefly telling people who BA is, what the film is about, then encourage them to watch clips of the film. Having the film playing continuously on a tablet with an amplified speaker makes a big difference in how many people stop and watch clips. Many of those who’ve stopped feel Trump IS a racist horror and real danger, and that too many people are “sleepwalking”—not protesting or resisting in the way that’s needed. So a good number are attracted to watching BA’s “wake-up” film. A woman walking by told us she didn’t have time to stop, but she was drawn in by the film and watched it for 20 minutes. We hear a lot of “he’s right about that” or “I agree with what he’s saying.”

After watching the film trailer, one woman student said, “What he was saying—if they [Trump/Pence] were to go through with getting rid of North Korea with nuclear weapons, we wouldn’t get rid of half of North Korea, we’d get rid of half the world. So I agree with what [BA] is saying.” She didn’t know about the example of Egypt and Tahrir Square but said, “I feel like if we actually stand up against him in numbers like he [BA] was saying then, yeah, we can stop Trump.” Did she want to be part of this? “Yeah, I want to be part of it.”

Two students have watched the whole film with us, and it kicked off wide-ranging discussions over a number of questions including how revolution would deal with all the individualism in this society, what it will really take to stop the Trump/Pence regime, whether voting and the Democrats are an answer, and whether people are too scared of communism to embrace BA’s solution. Both left eager for further engagement, including with THE NEW COMMUNISM.

So far we’ve signed up dozens of people who’ve said they want to help take responsibility to spread the film far and wide. Some have taken beginning steps. One student distributed over 100 palm cards including to the faculty. We’re working with them to get organized (and to understand and help transform the obstacles that make that difficult for many people) to spread the film and engage BA’s work further.

We’ve also gone door-to-door to talk to faculty and met a good number, including some who’ve taken cards for their classes. Others have watched and commented on the film. Some interesting engagement over science, the importance of Darwin and evolution, fascism, and BA’s new communism has begun.

We’re working with students and faculty to make “Take BA to Campus Week” a big deal. While focusing on the film and organizing a showing, we also want to open the door to a broader introduction to BA and the new communism. We’re thinking of doing a book table, getting faculty members the new official biography, spreading the brochure from The Bob Avakian Institute, perhaps mass distributing BAsics quotes and the film cards for REVOLUTION—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live, along with invitations to the film showing. 

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To the Masses In A Mass Way – Agitation And Struggle

April 23, 2018

The following is a report from a campus in which the Revolution Club has been a presence for a while, and where a number of relatively high-profile fascists have recently spoken...

The first day we had a loudspeaker playing clips and I believe this played a part in attracting people, though only one or two at a time. People were just walking by as I tried to do agitation, so I just started going straight up to people and struggling with them to get into this talk. Since we had the loudspeaker we were able to let the clips do the agitation for us while we went up to people calling them over, this is what worked best. A woman who said she was in a rush got pulled in after watching the GTF clip, she confided that she was undocumented and was afraid of stepping out, so I played the Q&A where BA speaks to this. When that Q&A was over I tried to talk to her but she wanted to continue watching the Q&A that came next. She left abruptly before that one was over leaving only her email address. Another woman walked up as this was playing and later talked about how she really liked what he said about identity politics and how she was so tired of that. She gave an example of a group of women who were fighting for a higher wage and how those very women kept people from joining the struggle because they weren’t women or part of that particular group of people. It’s been like this throughout where people engage parts of the talk, leave an email but won’t commit to taking up the mission to take this talk out...

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The following is a report from a campus in which the Revolution Club has been a presence for a while, and where a number of relatively high-profile fascists have recently spoken.

We’ve been going to campus almost every day and trying to get off the ground. We decided to establish a consistent public presence at two key places at lunch time where students hang out. We’ll do quick classroom announcements and let people know where they can find us. We have a rolling cart with a TV powered by a car battery and we show clips and Q&As for about three hours.

The first day we had a loudspeaker playing clips and I believe this played a part in attracting people, though only one or two at a time. People were just walking by as I tried to do agitation, so I just started going straight up to people and struggling with them to get into this talk. Since we had the loudspeaker we were able to let the clips do the agitation for us while we went up to people calling them over, this is what worked best. A woman who said she was in a rush got pulled in after watching the GTF clip, she confided that she was undocumented and was afraid of stepping out, so I played the Q&A where BA speaks to this. When that Q&A was over I tried to talk to her but she wanted to continue watching the Q&A that came next. She left abruptly before that one was over leaving only her email address. Another woman walked up as this was playing and later talked about how she really liked what he said about identity politics and how she was so tired of that. She gave an example of a group of women who were fighting for a higher wage and how those very women kept people from joining the struggle because they weren’t women or part of that particular group of people. It’s been like this throughout where people engage parts of the talk, leave an email but won’t commit to taking up the mission to take this talk out.

One of the members of a Black student group who is attracted to the Revolution Club called us to be part of planning a protest against a fascist speaker. When we got there, there was a lot of discussion about what the protest should be about and what different people’s roles should be. I stated that “this represents a fascist onslaught, an attempt to normalize fascism, preparing people to go along with horrific crimes. We have a different understanding of what this is and we have different goals. But we all agree that this is a problem and that it has to be opposed so there’s plenty of basis for unity, and if this situation is going to be successfully turned back then there is a need for further unity going forward with lots of debate about what is the problem and what is the solution.”

Most people appreciated us being there, though we did get some cold responses going into the protest. The leadership planned to have 12 disrupters but a lot more people than expected went in while a group stayed outside chanting and playing music. Two people from the Revolution Club went inside but the disruptions more took the form of arguing back and forth with the fascists, rather than collective chants.

Outside people really warmed up to the Club and kept asking one of the comrades to get on the mic to lead chants and agitate. Toward the end one of the people who had went in came out a little spooked by what was going on inside and told people that the fascists wanted to physically fight. This very clearly scared some people who started talking about backing down and leaving or at least toning down the language. I intervened at this point and agitated on what this is and what it’s going to take to really deal with it, we shouldn’t speak lightly of sacrifice but we have to confront the reality that fighting back against the ugly shit that is taking hold is going to require sacrifice and if we’re not willing to put our bodies on the line to oppose it than they will steam roll ahead and take us back to the days when they celebrated and sold postcards of lynchings. This turned the whole mood back around to one of defiance.

Some of the fascists came out in a small group but ended up keeping their distance. As other fascist who attended the event made their way toward the walkway next to where we were at, people got information and started dancing in unison electric slide style blocking the way forcing the fascists to walk alongside the edge.

Everybody was invited back to “debrief” at the student group office. We spoke in the beginning to bolster people’s spirit and bring in BA, arguing once again about the need for principled debate and struggle about the problem and the solution making sure everybody got a palm card. People were clearly shaken by what went on inside, they didn’t know how ugly this really was. There was a lot of nationalism and identity politics going on, and some reducing things to what goes on, on this particular campus, but every time one of us got to speak we’d bring in the whole picture and get a lot of “snaps” while we were talking. Someone spoke, and in what I thought was a clear polemic on what I had said, stated that “we need to penetrate the system and become lawyers and doctors” while a couple of other people said that capitalism was the problem. We got some contacts, including that of the chair’s, and believe there is a lot of freedom that can be wrenched going forward out of this.

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The New Communism Could Change Everything...If

Active Investigation On An Elite Campus

April 23, 2018

We want to share some thinking and some experience on trying to wrestle with how to do things a little differently. This is on an “elite” campus where we have done some work to make a big push around the talk from Bob Avakian, “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go,” as part of a plan around breaking new ground in working toward our #1 strategic objective. Over the last couple weeks we’ve had some rounds of discussion among the club here about the letter “The New Communism Could Change Everything... IF,” the prospectus from The Bob Avakian Institute, the article from revcom.us “A Plan to Change Everything,” and the Q&A from BA’s talk “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go” that have both informed and helped form our plans...

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Working With People To Activate Their Social Networks

April 23, 2018

We've been spreading revolution and especially working to get BA's talk seen on a particular campus for some months, building on a whole history of work. In the last period in particular, we've focused on broad promotion of the recent BA film, with some smaller viewings of it and being part of resistance against the regime. When a few of us stepped back to think about it, we realized there were some important things we'd been stepping over...

Read more

We've been spreading revolution and especially working to get BA's talk seen on a particular campus for some months, building on a whole history of work. In the last period in particular, we've focused on broad promotion of the recent BA film, with some smaller viewings of it and being part of resistance against the regime. When a few of us stepped back to think about it, we realized there were some important things we'd been stepping over.

First, there are a number of people we know who are connected in to different kinds of social circuits... some through the dorms, some through their social life and some through the political organizing they've done on campus. They have a sense of how to reach people—not mainly through mass flyering, but through their personal ties and connections. One person we know has a lot of connections to artists and students of color... another is linked up with the sorority and fraternity council... another is in athletics... someone else is a grad student. Every campus has its own dynamic. But campuses are not just 1000s of students bouncing around like atoms. People group into different sets, some isolated and some overlapping, some more alive with ferment and potential and some not; we’ve got to get that if we’re going to get anywhere.

When you survey the campus with more of a bird's eye view, you can see the importance of these kinds of ties and connections... and how you could reach—and learn more about—broad swaths of people through personal and political connections. While it's important to be out on the quad meeting people, these kinds of deeper links can have a more qualitative impact and strengthen the broad work you're doing.

Most of these individuals have seen the BA film on the Trump/Pence Regime but we haven't enough drawn out what they think or thought about how to marshal these connections in a systematic enough way. We're going to try to pull these folks together to talk more about the film, what they all thought of it and how it can be seen by many many more people. If they can't all get together at the same time, we'll meet with smaller groups of them... working together and on a more collective mission. Some of these people are interested in getting more deeply into BA and the whole new communism, checking out the Revolution Club... others are more interested in building resistance against the fascist regime and unsure what they think of the whole revolution. This is all in motion and while continuing to open the door to all of what BA is about, this film especially can reach everyone who is concerned or questioning what this regime is doing. We should definitely open the door to the Club—but if we make joining the Revolution Club a requirement for working on the film (whether we say that straight-up or just convey it through our actions), then the whole process is going to be much narrower than it needs to be and has to be.

Getting this bird's eye view also helps us learn more about the kinds of questions and debates happening on campus. One part of this that's struck us is how much turmoil there actually is among people, but it's not right now bubbling to the surface. There's struggle about whether the student groups are playing the role they should be playing right now, debate about how and whether to take on various fascist speakers that come to the campus, people's thinking both stuck in—and sometimes straining against—the dominant frameworks of relativism, identity politics and individualism... we've also found a special appreciation for the struggle against American chauvinism that's spoken to in the BA film.

We have to be in there with people—in the places and spaces where this kind of debate and discussion is going on or can be drawn out—learning and leading. And especially driving people to this film... working together for it to be seen by hundreds and thousands on any particular campus, and millions throughout society.

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Poster of BA film - The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

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"Barefoot Doctoring" at...

SF State Film Screening and Discussion

April 30, 2018

From readers:

Professor Daniel Phil Gonzales and the Asian-American Studies Department—part of San Francisco State’s famous and hard-fought-for College of Ethnic Studies—hosted, along with Revolution Books Berkeley, a screening and discussion of the film of Bob Avakian’s talk, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible. About 10 students from Prof. Gonzales’ class, a few other students, and a couple of elder members of the local community attended...

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From a student after viewing the film:

Wrangling with a Social Work Prof About What We’re Facing—and Working Together for a Showing of the BA Film

April 30, 2018

A team of two met with a social work professor at a local university. We’ve periodically sent him emails over the past months and since Trump was elected. Over numerous years, he’d take time to seriously engage the Bob Avakian and RCP, who he genuinely respects, but also has fundamental disagreements with. He’s specifically raised in the past and recently “a tension I feel regarding being a progressive Catholic and my challenges of understanding Avakian’s desire to work with those in the progressive faith traditions.” But we hadn’t met for quite a while. Two major things we wanted to get into with him: a segment of the BA film THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! Q&A on “Minorities have been in not a very favorable situation in this country to fight against everything that is going against them...” and to discuss the new 2018 Call to Action from Refuse Fascism...

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From professors who have seen this film:

Dr. David I. Orenstein, Professor of Anthropology, Medgar Evers College/CUNY

“Do not sleep though this revolution! Avakian’s speech, when focusing on the Trump administration’s anti-humanistic actions and policies, demands that we remain awake. It demands that we take action to stop Trump’s allies, enablers, racists and evangelical apologists from making good on their dystopian ‘Making America Great Again’ slogan. It demands that civil society act against the attacks on modernity; the poor; those in the LGBTQ community, on scientific truth, on the rule of law; on press freedom; on healthcare and on refugees and immigrants. Watch this film. Get angry! Use this anger and channel it into resistance. And most of all VOTE for change.”

Rafael Angulo, Clinical Professor, School of Social Work, University of Southern California

“Bob Avakian is speaking against apathy and for the need for courage... and for hundreds of thousands and millions to be out on the front lines. I’m glad to see an atheist quoting a religious pastor, Martin Niemöller—who spoke out against Nazi Germany and on behalf of the Jews and those in the resistance. Too often communists and those religious haven’t united in a potential partnership with the same end-point, and it gives me a sense of hope to hear and see Bob Avakian seek that partnership. The Trump presidency calls into question the deepest meaning of our religious claims and values and we have a greater impact when we work in partnership rather than live in silos. All people of good will, unite!”

Jim Vrettos, Professor—John Jay College, NYC; host of The Radical Imagination TV show on Manhattan Neighborhood Network (cable)

“Whether you agree or disagree with his scientific analysis of the objectives realities of our world, you shouldn’t doubt Bob Avakian’s lifelong, uncompromising dedication and commitment to the fight to liberate the oppressed, exploited and wretched of the world.

“That alone in the Age of Trump makes the viewing of Avakian's film The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! a must see for progressives and others of whatever political ideology and persuasion.”

An Idea for Barefoot Doctoring on Campus… and Beyond

April 23, 2018

A lot of people have been struck by the clip on the GTF – the “great tautological fallacy” named by BA in the Trump/Pence film. One thing that could be done would be stickers that play off this and make it a thing on campus… and maybe elsewhere.

The stickers could be and should be simple, something people can put on their jackets or hoodies or whatever. “Ask Me About The GTF.” You could also put the link to the talk on the bottom so that it’s advertising it at the same time.

Clip: "Free Yourself from the GTF!"

 


* When China was a revolutionary society led by Mao Zedong, there was a whole movement of “barefoot doctors”—peasants who were given basic medical training and then sent out to villages all over the country, helping many people by providing much needed basic medicine, medical treatments, and public health education. Today, there is a crying need for a movement of barefoot doctors on a mission to get Bob Avakian (BA) and the new communism he has brought forward widely known, engaged, and appreciated throughout society, and around the world. There are all kinds of people who can do this, from longtime revolutionaries to people who are just getting into BA’s work—based on a basic scientific grasp of the central importance of BA and the new communism to the future of humanity. We call on YOU to be part of this—there is in fact nothing that is more important for many, many people to be doing right now. And as you take part in this movement, contribute to this page on revcom.us, so that we can learn and get inspiration from each other’s experiences.  [back]

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/promoting-bob-avakians-talk-on-social-media-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

A Simple Way to Begin a Geometric Progression on Social Media—
Promoting the film of Bob Avakian’s Talk

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

A fan of the filmed 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, has been spreading this on social media and we wanted to share what some of the impact has been.

She shared a post from revcom’s Facebook page (@tuneintorevcom) to a variety of Facebook groups and pages, from groups calling for impeachment, to groups working to elect more Democrats, to groups ridiculing Trump in various ways, and more. The post had the trailer for the film with this text:

She did this with several similar posts with clips. These clips were viewed thousands of times, were shared on Facebook by others hundreds of times and received dozens of comments. The comments were often substantive, including back-and-forth discussion among themselves. When people shared the clips to their own page, many had comments like: “NOW HEAR THIS” or “Watch & Share !!”

The plan posted last week at revcom.us called for the creation of a social movement around BA’s talk, and the spreading of the talk as this fan did is something that anyone can do. And it can play an important role in the development of that movement. We encourage people who are already active on social media to do this, and report to revcom on what you are learning.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/notes-and-thoughts-on-spreading-bob-avakians-talk-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Some Working Notes and Thoughts on Spreading BA’s Talk on the Trump/Pence Regime

by Sunsara Taylor

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

I have been following closely—and working hard to contribute to—the campaign announced in revcom to transform the situation where hardly anyone knows about BA and the significance of the work he has done, particularly focused now on BA’s speech on Trump/Pence. The following are some working notes on some of my experience with this, as well as some thoughts on how to step up and make more systematic and impactful our efforts to carry this work forward.

[1] SYSTEMATICALLY REACHING BACK TO EVERYONE WE KNOW

I’ve been systematically reaching back to all the people I have met or worked with in different ways (whether a long time ago or more recently). I have sent a series of mass emails, highlighting different questions of the day, new blurbs from various people, or different key excerpts of the film (like the GTF or the challenge of “Order or Justice“), all pointing to the importance of watching the whole film and talking with me about its contents. At the same time, I have also been calling, texting, and emailing people individually and persistently.

So far, I have been working through about two dozen people like this, talking with them where possible, or otherwise just keeping this in front of them. One person who agreed to watch and help spread the film promised “next week” so many times I started to wonder if there was something else going on. But then, out of the blue she sent me her thoughts on the film and did something that would significantly help spread this among those she has influence with.

Another old friend immediately agreed to watch the film and help promote it, mentioning how much he enjoyed BA’s previous speeches. But then he kept putting it off due to what he described as life events and business. After a while, I had a friendly struggle with him about that exact dynamic—people being consumed with their lives at a time when fascism is being consolidated, the danger of war being heightened dramatically, and other horrors mounting. I pointed out that many people were more outraged and willing to suspend their routines the day after the election than they are now—and this is precisely what we have to urgently transform, and this film is a critical part of transforming that dynamic, which is why he should put watching the film and helping get it out there higher on his priority list. He responded very deeply, admitting that this spoke exactly to what troubles him about what is taking place in society and that he really appreciates being pushed because he agrees and he often feels terrible that he is not doing enough. He then pushed himself, not only watching the film but also taking a first step in spreading it to others. My intent is to build on this, seeking to work in collective ways with him to promote this film, as well as into the work of RefuseFascism.org, and a deeper engagement in BA’s work overall.

Activating social media networks: I have also worked with those who have watched the film to make sure they get it out on their social media platforms. When two people I know did this, it garnered about 100 more views of some portion of the film. This is still incremental, but it is part of how others start seeing it from other broader voices and this needs to be built upon.

I try to think about what voices might make a particular impact on influencing others. For example, I worked with someone to make special fliers promoting the film that included the quotes about it from David Gunn Jr. (son of the first abortion doctor to be murdered by anti-abortion fanatics) and Rev. Donna Schaper (who has spoken publicly about her own abortion and whose church has played a critical role over decades in support of abortion rights in many ways) that I took to an event highlighting this country’s abortion rights emergency.

[2] MASS OUTREACH—TAKING THE FILM EVERYWHERE

Recently a Revolution Club member and I attended an interfaith religious celebration and dinner for immigrant and refugee justice put on by a city government commission in collaboration with several nonprofits and various religious leaders. The program had speakers from different faiths, city workers, immigrants from around the world, and several nonprofits.

We met about half a dozen religious leaders who were very open to hearing about the film. One rabbi told us her wife had brought home the film palm card from somewhere and they had saved it, but not yet watched it. A couple of imams from Queens were very moved by the whole event, emphasizing that they’d never felt welcomed by Jewish leaders before. They were very open to watching and hosting a screening of the film. One priest told us how he came to this country without papers after more than a dozen of his comrades were slaughtered by his country’s government after the communist group he’d been part of made a truce and turned over their weapons. He didn’t know about BA but was intrigued about THE NEW COMMUNISM.

All this requires follow-up. We have sent emails, but not called through yet. But this is the kind of thing that a lot more people need to be doing a lot more of—there are all kinds of events going on all the time where people are grappling with, or trying to carve out a culture in opposition to, the ugliness that is riding high today with this regime.

[3] Overall, there is a real need for all levels of this campaign—as laid out in the new plan posted online—to be more concretely developed and systematically pursued. I am thinking here particularly of: (1) more systematic work by those who are able to deeply advocate for BA to pry open engagement among those with disproportionate influence and to influence the superstructure, (2) really unleashing a mass movement to the masses in a mass way among all kinds of people new and old, and (3) how these levels are conceived of and carried out to mutually reinforce and strengthen each other.

While this is far from exhaustive, I have been thinking about three key arenas that we need to more systematically approach.

(A) Religious and faith leaders: There has been particular openness both historically (going back to Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones: We Need Morality But Not Traditional Morality) as well as more recently (Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion—A Dialogue Between Cornel West & Bob Avakian, as well as to the responses already to BA’s talk on Trump/Pence). At the same time, from a different but reinforcing and positive angle, there has been the phenomenon of more faith leaders raising their voices in concern about the current moment, particularly against the attacks on immigrants and Muslims, but also in relationship to opposing the white supremacists in Charlottesville or even more recently standing up against the outrageous arrest of two Black men in Starbucks.

We need to significantly step up our work to get BA’s talk out to these networks and leaders, while at the same time we need to much more systematically work to learn who are the key faith leaders nationally, what are the key networks, what are the key convergences, conferences, programs, etc. that we need to go into and fight for engagement in with the new talk in particular as well as with RefuseFascism.org (not the exact same, but very positively related).

Part of this must also include a better vision of how to marshal the engagement that has taken place among these networks to become something of a growing pole of attraction/engagement. We need to strategize much more systematically with the folks who have engaged over how to do this, learning who they think the key people to get with are, what are the key questions to take up, and more. We are not yet maximizing the real, even if still initial, good will and ties we have among this community—including wielding more consciously the rich taped and written responses that various religious leaders have provided urging others to watch BA’s speech.

At the same time, there needs to be more systematic and conscious “barefoot doctor” work to go out to these networks around the country and to be setting up film showings and meetings with leaders that people with more experience and ability to represent could then be integrated into.

(B) Black intelligentsia, artists, students, aroused sections of Black people. We need to continue to seize every opening that presents itself through events and outbreaks of struggle where we are and continue to go back to all we have worked with over years, while also more systematically identifying who more broadly we need to be reaching out to, what are the terms that need to be entered into beyond our immediate areas or networks. Who are the national figures, what are the convergences (academic, cultural, religious, etc.) we should consider relating to. And, what are the questions that we need to engage.

(C) Immigrants—both the movements taking this up right now and the broad communities: We have found fertile ground in taking the BA film out to sections of immigrants—this is reflected in the snapshots on revcom. Can we map the terrain on this more fully—who are the leading academics dealing with the question of refugees and immigration, rising populism and nationalism in this country and around the world? Who are the key immigrant rights forces and leaders—there are a lot of networks that have sprung up, we need to understand more. Who are the artistic figures dealing with this (for example, a major literary event and a significant museum festival in NYC right now both deal with the questions of borders, language/translation, immigration and detention in different ways). We need to step up “barefoot doctor” work out among the neighborhoods and broad networks, while also developing a more scientific understanding of where we most need to go to connect with influencers.

This is not comprehensive of the key sectors we need to reach—but getting systematic about these could make a big difference as we continue to move forward.

[4] TAKING BA AND THE FILM TO MASSES OF PEOPLE IN ALL CORNERS OF SOCIETY IN A TRULY MASS WAY

It seems we really need to kick up to a much higher level a spirit and movement of going out to the masses of people in all corners of society in a truly mass way.

In cities like NYC, there should be teams out on the trains—getting the film card out to thousands of people in just a few hours. Everywhere, as nice weather finally visits us we should be out at farmer’s markets with fliers and a tablet for people to watch clips of the film. We should be at street fairs and gallery openings, at the theaters, at movies, at campus events, in classrooms, and more. We need a culture and spirit of taking this everywhere and more people taking initiative to seize every opportunity possible. People should be taking posters to cafes and laundromats in their neighborhoods and those nearby, not just waiting for a team or an assignment.

It is also important that the teams that are organized not be focused narrowly. Citywide coordination is necessary to ensure that key events are covered with basic materials—but shouldn’t there also be at least some coordination of the kind of truly mass outreach that reaches thousands every day? It is good and necessary that the film cards get out at key events related to Trump or immigration or the King anniversary, but it is not acceptable—nor is it necessary for it to remain the case—that in crowds like the one described in the account of taking BA to the museum, BA is virtually unknown. Transforming this is not going to come from just getting out to the politicized events. There is a lot that even small numbers of people can do who are truly on a mission to get out in a mass way—and there are a lot of people and networks you start to meet who do have more influence when you start to go at things this way. I can think of quite a few examples in recent years where small numbers of people who were truly determined to get out in a very mass way with something ended up seeing their efforts amplified in television shows, on the social media platforms of world-renowned artists, as well as creating a buzz of engagement and involvement that began to bubble up from below.

*****

Hopefully these notes will help provoke others to go out even more boldly and more broadly, as well as more systematically and with a growing social impact, with this essential film from BA as well as his whole body of work, and to write in and share their experience here at revcom.us so we can all learn from and build on this experience together.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/482/skybreak-a-communist-statesman-modeling-communist-leadership-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

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

A Communist Statesman, Modeling Communist Leadership

March 13, 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.

This excerpt from the interview, “A Communist Statesman, Modeling Communist Leadership,” is a ‘must-read-and-review’ for all those concerned with making revolution and bringing into being a radically different and far better world.

Q: I think that that’s a really important point, and it relates to something you said a minute ago, that you felt BA really came across as a statesman in this Dialogue1. And maybe you could explain that a little bit more, because I think that’s a really important point and I know you were saying earlier that you felt like you really got a sense being at this Dialogue, experiencing it, that this is the leader of the revolution, this is somebody who could lead the future society. So I don’t know if you wanted to speak a little more to that.

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: Yes, the reason I felt the statesman aspect, too, is that I think we live in a complicated period, that there are a lot of challenges in this period to actually advance the revolutionary struggle, to deal with the actual fight–the “fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution” aspect of things is going on right now in a way it hasn’t for some time, in particular around the police murders. And, look, BA leads the work of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and there’s not a single initiative, I’m sure, of the Revolutionary Communist Party, that doesn’t have the stamp of leadership of BA and of the top leadership of the Party on it, in terms of how it’s unfolded. As you can see from the diversity of things that are taken up by this Party, and as reflected in the website revcom.us, there are a lot of very challenging contradictions to deal with. And that gives only a hint of what this leadership involves.

I don’t think most people have any idea what revolutionary leadership is about. A lot of people think that a leader of revolution is kind of like an “activist” leader, sort of like a leader of a demonstration, what I think of as tactical leadership. But overall revolutionary leadership is not just tactical. Of course there does need to be tactical leadership in various dimensions, and I’m not trying to devalue that. There is very much a need for the kind of person who might be agitating in a demonstration, for instance, helping to put forward a better understanding of what people are fighting about, and leading people, even tactically, in the streets, for instance in a demonstration. But there’s an important point to be made about how the leader of a revolution and the leader of a new society has to be an all-round statesman and has to be more like a strategic commander of the revolution as a whole. And there’s a formulation that’s been put forward recently that a communist leader–and not just the top leadership, but every single revolutionary communist–has to think of themselves and strive to be a strategic leader of the revolution, “a strategic commander of the revolution, not just a tactical leader, and not just a strategic philosopher.” This is very important. In other words, if you’re going to lead a revolution, lead the seizure of state power and become a leader of a new society–and that’s what I mean by statesman–you have to fully recognize and grapple with the complexity of what you’re doing and the many different levels and layers of it, and the many different contradictions among the people. You have to deal with the fact that you don’t have absolute freedom at any given time, and yet you’re trying to move things in a certain direction. You’re trying to be true to your principles, and you’re promoting that openly, but at the same time you’re dealing with the people you’re leading, who often don’t understand, at least not with any depth, what you’re putting forward in leading them, or who tend to distort what you’re putting forward, because they don’t understand things well enough or because they’re being shaped and influenced by other programs, other outlooks and methods.

So strategic leadership is a very, very complex task, and that’s also involved in why, as I mentioned earlier, so many natural scientists are at a complete loss when they try to address social transformations and they suddenly seem to forget everything they ever knew about basic scientific methods! Part of that is also because so many people have a completely wrong view of what actually constitutes overall leadership in the social arena, especially as pertains to revolutionary change. Much of the time they seem to think a political leader is just somebody with a bullhorn in a demonstration. But that’s tactical leadership, that’s not the overall strategic commander type of leadership that can guide an actual overall radical transformation of a whole society through revolution and the building of a whole new kind of society on a fundamentally different economic basis, with everything that flows from that. That kind of multi-faceted leadership is a much more complex task, and most people today frankly have little or no conception of all that it involves.

And there’s the question of dealing with the audiences–if you wanna put it that way, there are many different audiences. You’re not trying to be all things to all people. You are actually trying to meet the objective interests of the international proletariat, by which I mean–it’s not any individual proletarian that’s the question–there’s an international, world-wide class of people who don’t own the means of production, who have no ability to run society under this system, who can really only sell themselves basically, under this capitalist-imperialist system. They have the greatest interest–whether they know it or not as individual proletarians–as a class, they have the greatest interest of any class in actually going in the direction of communism and getting beyond all these class divisions and relations of exploitation and oppression. But is that the only class that’s going to be part of the process? No. The capitalist-imperialist ruling class is a very small segment of world society, or of any given society, but you do have all these other forces that kind of have one foot in one system, while one foot may be aspiring to something better. And those more “intermediate” strata, they tend to not be very constant, they tend to flip from one side to the other on any given day! Add to that the fact that hardly anybody has been given any scientific training, so hardly anybody tries to approach problems with any kind of consistently systematic and rigorous method. So you’ve got people going all over the place, you know, both in their thinking and in their actions. Bob Avakian’s talked about the challenge of “going to the brink of being drawn and quartered,” both in terms of getting to the revolutionary seizure of state power, and in terms of building a new society–that there are so many different kinds of people pulling in different directions, with different and opposing ideas, and so on.

And here’s another reason you need science. How can you know what’s best for society? How can you know what’s best for the majority of humanity? The capitalist-imperialists, they are proceeding on the basis of what’s best for their system. It’s not just a question of corporate greed, it’s not just that. It’s much more than that. They have a system that they need to maintain, a system that is based on profit, and we can talk about the fundamental contradiction of capitalism-imperialism, it might be worth touching on that a little bit. But the point is that they’re trying to keep their system going, but they don’t understand–even the people running this society often don’t even understand the deeper laws of their own system. But if you’re trying to bring into being a whole new kind of society, one that actually more fully meets the objective interests and needs of the vast majority of humanity, you’ve gotta do a lot of work, and you’ve gotta go up against a lot of misconceptions and prejudice and anti-scientific views. You have to deal with that diversity of views and opinions and with people pulling in all sorts of different directions, while at the same time not losing the reins of the process itself. That’s where the strategic commander role comes in. If you are confident in your scientific approach, then you can say with a quite a bit of certitude that you think it is possible to determine what is in fact in the objective interests of the majority of humanity, and what it would take to move in that direction. It’s like if you’re riding a horse. You’ve got your hands on the reins, so you’re not just going to let the horse run to any old place–the horse here being the process, not the people, but the process, right, the revolutionary process. But if you ride a horse and you pull the reins in too tightly, and you pull the horse’s head too hard, and the bit cuts into the horse’s mouth, and you’re not allowing it any kind of free rein, then that horse is going to stop dead in its tracks, or it’s going to buck, and in any case it’s not going to be able to be part of freely moving forward and advancing the process.

So there’s always a tension–the reason there’s a need, as BA has stressed, for “lots of elasticity, on the basis of the solid core” is not, as some people have incorrectly argued, just because the middle strata of people are going to “buck” and cause problems for you, are going be resentful, and so you’ll have to give ’em a bone here or there, to keep ’em from fighting you, or something. No! That would be disgusting. The real reason that you need to build in and allow for some genuine elasticity, on the basis of the solid core, is because society needs it, the process needs it. The revolutionary process itself needs to breathe, the revolutionary society needs to breathe, or it won’t be any good. Both the process of getting to the revolutionary seizure of power, and then the process of building the new society needs to breathe. And if you try to control it all too tightly and too rigidly–even if you happen to be right in what you’re doing at any given time, if you’re too tight and controlling, it’s just going to be discouraging and demoralizing to people, and people are not going to be given the scientific tools to figure it out enough themselves, and you’re going to end up with a repressive society, a rigid society and a rigid process.

And Bob Avakian really understands that, because he’s a good enough scientist to understand the material tension that exists, objectively, between what’s called the solid core, the certitude, the elements that you can actually be confident of, in terms of what’s wrong with the current society and what’s needed in a future society to benefit humanity, while at the same time understanding the need to sort of shepherd the process in such a way that it can encompass and incorporate the widest possible diversity of views and approaches from among the different strata of the masses in society.

I don’t know if I’m expressing this well enough, but he has certainly expressed this very well in many of his writings and talks, and I would encourage people to dig into this whole aspect of solid core with lots of elasticity on the basis of the solid core. And that last part–on the basis of the solid core–is very important to understand. You couldn’t have the right kind of elasticity without the solid core. You don’t wanna end up like you’re trying to herd cats, with everything and everybody going all over the place. There does need to be a solid core. In fact, the more you’ve got a firm handle, a rigorous scientific handle, on that solid core, on that core scientific theory, on that core accumulated knowledge and experience and on that core certitude, the more it should actually be possible to unleash and encourage broad elasticity and initiative among the people, both in the current revolutionary process as well as in the future socialist society, including in relation to the kind of dissent and broad societal ferment which can actively contribute to further advancing society in a good direction.

Q: As you were talking, one thing that is posed is that there is a unity, there is a connection between what you’re saying about the approach of solid core with a lot of elasticity, both in the process of making revolution to get to a future society on the road to communism, and then in that future society itself–there’s a connection between that approach all the way through the process of making revolution and getting to communism and your point about how you could really get a sense in this Dialogue of BA as the leader of that future society. And then there’s the point that you were making earlier, about why would BA do this Dialogue with Cornel West, if he weren’t actually applying and modeling that approach of solid core with a lot of elasticity? And so something I wanted to probe a little further is this point about how BA, in this Dialogue and in his whole body of work, he’s very much pulling no punches, he’s very much putting forward his understanding of the science of communism and of reality, and he’s not trying to finesse or smooth over differences, including with Cornel West, while at the same time he’s also very much recognizing the unity that they have, and the unity that needs to be forged broadly. And he’s taking the approach that there’s a lot that somebody like Cornel West–he has a lot of insights, there’s a lot that he can contribute to this whole revolutionary process, even while they’re very much getting into their differences. So, is there more you wanted to say about the application of solid core with a lot of elasticity even in terms of how BA was relating to Cornel West in this Dialogue?

AS: Well, I think you can see the application and modeling of “solid core with lots of elasticity on the basis of the solid core” in what BA does, both in relation to Cornel West on the one hand, and also what I was trying to say before in relation to the audience–or audiences, plural, because there are many different strata and different viewpoints represented in the audience–and what you see is, you see the certitude based on experience and knowledge. Look, think about in the natural sciences: If somebody happens to emerge who is the most advanced in their field of science, or in a particular development of the natural sciences, at a given time–somebody who is really advanced and really visionary and really is playing a leading role that way–it would be ridiculous for them to come out and just kind of act as if they don’t know what they know, or not struggle with people and not provide the evidence that they’ve accumulated and analyzed over, literally in this case, decades. Right? So even as he’s working with Cornel, he’s also not pulling any punches because, first of all, he respects people enough not to pander or condescend or pretend he doesn’t know what he actually knows. The only people he doesn’t respect are the exploiters and oppressors at the top of society. But he has enough respect for people, even people who might disagree with him in some important ways, to be honest and to explore differences with principle and integrity instead of condescending or pandering to people or pretending to have more agreement than he does.

He’s gonna call it like it is. He’s gonna tell people, including the audience...he knows this audience is holding on to a lot of different views and misconceptions that he thinks are very harmful. Like a lot of these religious views that are holding people back from understanding reality the way it actually is, and from seeing how it could be changed. His position is definitely not neutral–with religion, he’s not just saying look, that’s not where I’m at, but it’s all good, go ahead and believe whatever you’re gonna believe. He’s definitely not saying that. Instead, he’s really struggling with the audience, right down on the ground–he’s saying, you gotta give up some of this religion stuff, because it is actually harmful; it is clouding your understanding of the way reality really is; and, because it’s doing that, it’s actually making it harder for you to see the way forward, and to see how to transform society in a good direction. So you gotta get off this stuff! And he’s saying that to an audience of people, most of whom are religious, especially among the most oppressed–the very people who are most important for, and who most need to step forward to take up, the revolutionary process. He’s got enough respect, enough strategic confidence in people, to tell it like it is.

Now, in the situation where he’s working with Cornel, he’s working with a developed intellectual who’s also got a lot of experience in life, and who has studied many different things himself and analyzed many different philosophies. And BA’s got respect for that process, too. But he’s still going to call it like it is, and he’s going to bring out the evidence. What does it actually say in the Bible? What is the role of religion? Let’s get into it!

Some people might say, Well, I don’t need to hear all this, because I already don’t believe in God. Well, yes, you do need to hear all this, and do you know why? Because billions of people around the planet are deeply influenced by one or another religion, and they approach all of reality through the prism, through the lens, of their particular religion. This is the framework, this is the theoretical framework, if you want to call it that, that most people on this planet apply to try to make sense of the world, and of what’s wrong with it, and what could or couldn’t be done about it. Religion is a very major question, in the United States and all over the world. So Bob Avakian, on the one hand, in the Dialogue, you see him struggling with Cornel, but with a good method, a good warm method, because these are two people who do respect each other and who do like each other but who are just going to honestly tell each other and the audiences where they have some significant differences. And because they have principle and integrity, they’re able to put forward and clarify those important differences, so that the audiences will be better able to grapple with these questions themselves, when they go home and in an ongoing way.

At the same time, what I think Bob Avakian is modeling, with the elasticity part, is: Listen, this revolutionary process, it’s a very rich and complex and diverse process, which does have to involve a wide variety of people. In fact one of the points Bob Avakian has made repeatedly is that, at the time of the revolution and the actual seizure of state power, most of the people involved in the revolution are still going to be religious! In a country like the U.S., there’s no question that this is true. Most people won’t have given up their religion–even if they’ve decided to join in to be part of fighting for revolution and for socialism in different ways, most still won’t have completely broken with all that. And that’s just one example of having a materialist scientific understanding of reality, understanding just how complex it is, how complex the process is. But you’re not going to try to trick people who disagree with you into walking alongside you in the revolutionary process by concealing your views. No, that’s not what you should do. Instead, as a revolutionary communist, you’re going to be honest about those differences. But, if you’re serious about wanting to transform society in the interest of humanity, you’re also going to recognize that the process that you are arguing for, and that you are helping to give strategic leadership to, has to be able to encompass quite a diversity of people, who are not all going to see eye-to-eye with you on a number of different and important questions. And that this will be the case all along the way, even as people increasingly unite together to fight the common enemy, to seize power, and to build the new institutions and organs of a new society.

It’s because he really understands all this that Bob Avakian can, at one and the same time, genuinely and sincerely embrace and feel very warm towards someone like Cornel West (and I believe those feelings are very much reciprocated), and at the same time remain very clear about the importance of speaking to the differences, and speaking to why you need to take up a consistently scientific method and approach if you really want to change society for the better. And so yes, he’ll tell people bluntly why they should give up religion–all religions–because they get in the way of moving forward. It is a fact that all religions all around the world were invented long ago by human beings, to try to explain what they didn’t yet understand and to try to meet needs that can be transcended now. All around the world people invented different sets of supernatural beliefs to try to fill gaps in their understanding of things, in both the natural and social world, and as a mechanism for dealing with such things as death and loss. If you don’t yet have the scientific knowledge to understand how all life evolves, and how there is clear evidence that human beings themselves simply evolved from a long series of pre-existing species, you’re probably going to want to involve some kind of higher supernatural power to explain how we got here! [laughs] Every religion in the world has some of those commonalities. At the same time, they all have their different particular creation myths, and so on. And they have their different holy books, and prophets and stuff like that. And Bob Avakian is saying, Come on now, let’s get serious, let’s actually open up the Bible and see what it says. See, a dogmatic revolutionary might have said, Well, I don’t believe in god, and I think religion’s bad for the people, so I’m not even gonna pay any attention to it. But instead BA’s saying, religion’s a very important problem in the world, it’s a very important question, billions of people believe in some kind of god or some kind of religion, so we have to address this. And he did some homework, too. He did the work. He read the Bible, in its entirety. He knows the Bible. Unlike many people, he can tell you what’s in it. And he can tell you what these religious forces have argued. He can tell you something about the history of how human beings invented a lot of these religions. He can also speak to why people might be motivated to have a moral conscience on the basis of some of the things they learned in church or mosque or temple or whatever. At the same time, he can also show you, scientifically, the harm that it does to cling to this. And that it is not necessary. You can leave that stuff alone. You can just let it go. You can leave those old ways of thinking behind, and you can take up a philosophy and scientific method about transforming the world in the interests of all humanity, which is full of life, full of joy, full of spirit, full of art and culture, and not dead and cold in any way, but that doesn’t have to have these religious and supernatural trappings and all the old stuff that goes along with it.

 


The "Dialogue" referred to here is an event that took place in November 2014 at New York City's historic Riverside Church and was attended by 1900 people: REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion--A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST and BOB AVAKIAN.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/prisoners-write-on-bob-avakian-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Prisoners Write on Bob Avakian and the Emancipation of Humanity

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolution receives many letters from prisoners writing on a range of topics. The following are excerpts from letters from prisoners writing about Bob Avakian and communist revolution.

“Brother Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party has, theoretically and practically, taken responsibility for leading the Revolution”

The study of science and the study of life through science (also philosophy) especially that of evolution, has taught me the true origins of creation and that of life and the interconnectivity of all of life. And to respect and appreciate the rich diversity of life and its multi-beautiful expressions. It has taught me that all of life is related through a long line of related ancestors. That all of life can be traced back to a line of common ancestors. It has taught me that all of life is connected through a web of interdependence. That no life exists of its own and isolated from the rest of life. That each life is dependent on other life for its very existence.

As a consequence of this interdependence when life is being destroyed especially when whole groups of species, plants, etc. are forced into extinction and/or the natural habitats are destroyed or/and damage is being done to the air and water quality and supply the effects are felt throughout the whole of life. It’s like Brother Amos Wilson once said “certain actions are like causing a stone to fall into a lake, the ripples are felt far and wide effecting generation after generation yet to be born”. History bears witness to this—It’s literally historical facticity.

There has been actions taken by the ruling class in the remote past that, even today, continue to affect individual groups and humynity as a whole. There are actions being taken today by the capitalist-imperialist ruling class of the United Snakes of AmeriKKKa that, while being felt immediately, the ripples will also be felt far and wide affecting generation after generation after generation yet to be born. Actions such as the consolidation of fascism, the denial of global warming, science, and the scientific method, Nuclear Posture Report (N.P.R.) [See revcom.us article on the Trump/Pence regime’s nuclear posture report, here—editors], criminalizing of protest, which is the forcible suppression of opposition. A primary principle in consolidating fascism. And We are the opposition. Things will continue to get worse unless We Unite, Organize, and Mobilize and stop these fascists in their tracks. When you look around the world and see the horrors that been going on and the ones that are materializing, there is only one solution “Revolution.” It’s as simple as that.

My loyalty and dedication to Revolution and the Liberation of Humynity originated with the study of Black History. While studying Black History i became conscious of the fact that the same conditions my ancestors were fighting against We are still suffering from today. That Our enslavement, oppression and exploitation never ended but evolved, mutated into other forms. And that the physical chains were removed only because the ruling class has created a system that, unless it’s completely overthrown, will forever Keep Us in bondage.

Only i did not understand this until i began to study the history, ideas, ideology and philosophy of the 1966 Black Panther Party founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. It is through the Black Panther Party that i started to understand the underlying causes of Our Suffering is the System itself. And it is not just a New Afrikan (so-called Blacks) problem because everyone was suffering because of this system. And everything from the oppression and exploitation of Black, Brown, and Native Peoples, to the genocide of Native People, to the enslavement, oppression, and exploitation of Winmin and Patriarchal relations, the oppression L.G.B.T.Q community, to drugs, violence, poverty, etc. etc. has its roots in the system itself. And the ending of all of this can only be brought about through the over overthrow of the system and the radical transformation of society as a whole and ultimately the world.

Through the Black Panther Party i became aware of other Peoples’ struggles throughout the world and the leaders of those struggles. People like Mao, Lenin, and Castro just to name a few. I started to realize and understand the interconnectivity of all Peoples Struggles. That there was a connection between the oppression and exploitation of People in AmeriKKKa and those in other countries. And that We were/are struggling against the same forces, which therefore, We all had a common enemy (the Capitalist-imperialist ruling class) which, undeniably, gave Us a common unity.

The more i read and studied about the horrors going on, not just in the United Snakes of AmeriKKKa, but the entire world and how it is all connected and coming from a common source, the more i developed and extended Love & Unity to Humynity. The realization and understanding of the interconnectivity of Our struggles, the common enemy and unity We shared compound with the Love i developed and have for Humynity lead me to start preparing and dedicating My life to the Freedom of Humynity.

I started practicing by speaking out and standing up against the injustice, mistreatment, and abuse of prisoners which led to a whole lot of hole time. But one thing kept bothering me, the Masses in AmeriKKKa lacked a Revolutionary Party—at least that was what i thought. From this thought came the idea and the contemplating of getting out and finding some dedicated, intellectual, and conscious sisters and brothers forming a Revolutionary Party. Only it was one already out there i just didn’t know it.

While sitting in the hole with these thoughts running through my mind a brother down the walk called my name and told me he got something he want me to check and that he know i will like. Sent me a newspaper that was titled Revolution. The name itself caught my immediate attention. Staring at the newspaper title Revolution for a minute and then my eyes dripping to the corner where it said Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA i opened the newspaper and was introduced to Bob Avakian (BA) and the Revolutionary Communist Party USA.

I had read about Communist Parties in other countries but did not know it was one in the United Snakes of AmeriKKKa. Yet, the fact that it was/is was relieving.

I read the whole newspaper. Every article attentively hoping not to miss anything. By the time i was through i was hooked. I got the information for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund and wrote and asked to be put on the mailing list to start receiving Revolution newspaper. I would spend the next eight years studying and researching the things P.R.L.F. sent. And i encourage you to do the same.

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund in Solidarity with Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA that he leads has clarified so much for me, has furthered my understanding of things, and has awoken me to so much more. They have connected the dots on international things and have explained and clarified the connection of those dots. They have shown Us the historical reality of past horrors in the present and reality of them being future horrors if We do not act now.

Brother Bob Avakian and the Revolutionary Communist Party has, theoretically and practically, taken responsibility for leading the Revolution. BA and the RCP, USA have over 40 years of dedication of serving the Revolutionary cause and to the Liberation of Humynity. And they’re the ones out there putting in the work and effort constantly trying to raise the consciousness of the Masses and trying to organize and mobilize them.

BA has went so far as drawing up a blueprint for the future Revolutionary Society. Now grasp the dedication and seriousness of this Revolutionary Leader and his Revolutionary Party. Many people and organizations are explaining to Us everything that is wrong with the present society and world. And some of these People and organizations analysis are dead on and some are espousing Revolution. But none (that i know of) has given Us a good idea on what the future Revolutionary Society will be like or look like. However, BA has not only given Us a good idea on what future Revolutionary Society will look and be like, he has written a constitution (Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)) based on this idea. Now if that ain’t a serious dedication to the Emancipation of the Masses i don’t know what is....

***

“Stand up for humanity and get down with BA and this New Wave of Revolutionary Communism”

What Bob Avakian means to me on a personal and individual level can be defined in my ability to view reality in a more broadened scope than I could prior to meeting him through his work as both a member and Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party U.S.A. The Scientific Method of Revolutionary Communism has molded my thinking in such a way that I now have a basic understanding of why myself and other individuals, male and female, of my caste group live in such a marginalize state of existence. I am a 39 yr. old convicted felon and I’ve been in prison for 19½ yrs., so to me having a “solid core with a lot of elasticity” means to have a serious fucking attitude problem for having to survive within this marginalize state of existence for so long, while at the same time being able to maintain my sense of humor. (smile)

Bob Avakian represents a man of principled action which is a characteristic of his that I try to mimic. Even when being engaged in some unprincipled bullshit, I try my best to do it in the most principled way possible. Does that last statement make any sense? Let me give you an example of "trying" to be principled while engaging in some bullshit.

A fight breaks out amongst two convicts who are drunk on wine. Inmate one is battered and bruised so bad that he is taken to the hospital, while inmate two is sent to solitary confinement. While inmate two is in solitary confinement, inmate one is released from the hospital and he gathers support from other inmates, and once inmate two returns to population inmate one and those in his support group plan to attack him...To make a long story short, it is decided that the two inmates fight each other again in a one on one battle.

And to the victor went the spoils. Since inmate two beat inmate one to a bloody pulp it was decided that inmate two was right and inmate one was wrong. It wasn't until after some investigation on my part did I learn that inmate two has a history of getting drunk and starting fights and that inmate one doesn't even drink. This is a true story of actual recent events, and I am mentioning this here because in BA's book “From Ike to Mao and Beyond” on page 355 (The Real Deal section) he speaks at taking a pragmatic approach to real life situations and taking the backwards position/line that “might is right” and “if you lose you must be wrong and if you win you must be right.” In Chairman Mao's “Little Red Book” there is a quote of his in Chapter 23 (Investigation and Study) when he says “No Investigation, no right to speak.” I'm not sure what today's party position is on Chairman Mao's quote, but during those days of the Cultural Revolution Mao said it was ridiculed as “narrow empiricism,” and again, I am mentioning all of these things because I am attempting to make the connections to immediate circumstances and events here within, and how a more principled approach to the above mentioned fight could have drawn a much more solid conclusion. On the other hand there has been those times where I can arguably say that situations came about that were of a more principled nature, and an attempt to approach the situation in a more principled way was executed. My Rule of Thumb is to divide any encounter that may arise into two when trying to be scientifically accurate, and recognize that in the midst of struggle—any struggle—there may be some set backs along the way. I may not be as principled and patient as Bob Avakian, but I'm working towards it.

The leadership of Bob Avakian is what we need. We got a Bully like Donald Trump as President and Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. From my marginalized state of existence, especially from where I currently am being warehoused in this maximum security prison, life can be very depressing at times.... Sometimes people will say what they would have done during the times of Chattel Slavery. I'm sure you've heard it in your life time, maybe after watching Roots on television people will talk about what they would have done way back then. Well, now is the time for anybody who may have entertained those thoughts to... Stand up for humanity and get down with BA and this New Wave of Revolutionary Communism. I just recently read one of the printouts of the material posted on Revcom.US where the people took to the streets in protest, and were met by wanna be intimidators who were chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A! U.S.A.!” but were silenced when those courageous revolutionaries shouted out in defiance “Humanity First! Humanity first! Humanity first!” How can you—we—anybody lose when the fight is for all of Humanity and the environment? BA and the leadership he provides is what the people need. Someone who has proven to be in the Interest of All Humanity. Fuck Donald Trump!

***

“Having the Teachings of Bob Avakian and the philosophy of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA as a Foundation”

Greetings Comrades and Friends,

I appreciate you informing me that my letter (thoughts) were of some positive use. Especially, to the point of it being posted on the South Side of Chicago [See here for an account of how the Revolution Club in Chicago took out this prisoner’s letter to the people—Editors]. Hopefully, it reaches at least one of the many searching for an answer.

I am, also, glad that I can show that we locked in the “Belly Of The Beast” can still contribute positively to The Struggle. Yes, I know PRLF and Bob Avakian has been telling us that from day one. Still, it does the Spirit good and motivates us to keep striving in The Struggle. And yes, we (prisoners) can grasp and wield the scientific method and approach for getting to a radically different and better world.

At times, we (prisoners) get caught up with the Drama and Bullshit of this world we exist in. But, having the Teachings of Bob Avakian and the Philosophy of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA as a Foundation (something like a safety net). We don’t need to fall back into our old self-destruction ways, and the powers-that-be can’t stand it! They hate to see US (prisoners) moving forward when it’s not coinciding with their overall plan/program (religion, or snitching on each other). It hurts them to see a positive movement that they don’t approve of or authorize. It’s a lot of GREAT MINDS and untapped energy behind “The Walls.” I witness it every day, it just needs to be focused. It’s so much potential sitting in here, I know that WE could build a better world for the future generations to inherit!

Well, the prison officials got me for: BAsics, Away With All Gods!, The Science of Evolution, Science and Revolution, and Constitution for the New Socialist Republic....

I understand the policy of not writing responses to PRLF subscribers. So, please tell all my comrades and friends there—THANK YOU! And you all silent support is the Guiding Light when it is the darkest in here. Just knowing we are not alone, nor forgotten gives us the strength to keep striving in The Struggle!

I shall keep you all informed of any retribution against me, but sometimes it’s better to fade it, and deal with it In-House. Does that make sense?

IN THE STRUGGLE,

P.S. Once again, Thank All Of You!

***

“I love and respect what you do and say, fuck the fascists and pigs”

The other day I got your questionnaire and yes I still want your literature. I love and respect what you do and say, fuck the fascists and pigs. See I’m doing 30 to life. I wish I would of knew about your P.R.L.F when I was a youngster. I would have been a better person. But it’s never too late right. I wanted for a long time to find the right way where everyone has a part and is important. And yes I passed on your knowledge to other prisoners. And yes I want all the information [you] can give me and teach me. I’m sure the pigs probably read our mail but that’s okay. Maybe they’ll learn from us. Smile. I was blind deaf. Now I hear and see what these ass kissing pigs and politicians and capitalist truly are. Also this pigs enforce the capitalistic fascist regime, oppression by mass incarceration of the Brown, Black, white, red, yellow people that are marginalized and disenfranchised. They can kiss my ass. I rather die or sit in the hole before I give them my sweat blood and tears or make them money. The pen and the heart and mind, true believers and revolution are the only way. These pigs and politicians can take physical but not my faith in Bob Avakian and the collective whole who believe in him and the revolution. Power to the people. Long live BA. You have a comrade for as long as these fascist pigs let me live.

Respectfully &

 

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/get-bob-avakians-speech-inside-prison-walls-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Raise and Contribute Funds:

Get BA’s Speech Inside Prison Walls

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Here’s a big challenge, right now, to everyone reading this call. People locked up in America’s dungeons urgently need to engage with 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—but they can’t watch it online.

Revcom is printing a special issue, in English and Spanish editions, featuring the full text of the speech by Bob Avakian (BA). It will get to hundreds of prisoners and Spanish-speaking people across the country.

Funds—at least $2,000—are urgently needed to get the speech into the hands of as many imprisoned people as possible. And you need to be part of raising those funds.

Prisoners can, should, and must play a dynamic, inspiring and instructive role in the whole process of making a big societal impact with this speech. They can contribute to involving growing thousands of people in the streets “in defiant mass struggle” against the fascist Trump/Pence regime.”

Provoking, Inspiring, Transforming

Nothing comes close to BA’s speech in laying bare the roots and dynamics of the Trumpite fascism moving to consolidate power in this country—and the deep need to drive it out, for the future of humanity and the planet itself. Nothing comes close to BA’s uncompromising internationalism, his liberating methodology, the enormous heart that he brings to addressing the most pressing problems confronting humanity, from a sweeping, strategic vantage point.

Think of the difference it will make as copies of BA’s speech pass from cell to cell through some of the most notorious hellholes in this country; as prisoners of different nationalities and backgrounds discuss the significance of the “Great Tautological Fallacy”; as they grapple with and learn from the scientific method and approach BA uses to develop his analysis. Think what it will mean as people cast off and locked up by this heartless, racist system read and engage with BA’s searing exposure of this country’s bloody history of slavery and genocide, and how that legacy endures and is expressed today.

One prisoner described some of his own transformation as he grappled with the works of BA: “Prisoners can set an example that people can change. If you can change, who else can change? I was talking about my circumstances and everything that I changed about myself, about my outlook and the way I live my life. That wasn't easy. That took struggle. There were times when I was considered the scum of the earth, an irredeemable monster—and there were times that even I believed it. But you could change. You could change all that by taking this up. BA says ‘Never underestimate the great importance of ideology.’”

People who come to Revcom.us are always provoked and stimulated by letters prisoners write to the site, and the way they transform through their engagement with BA. These prisoners are a challenge to people inside and outside the prisons to themselves take up and spread BA’s works. Prisoners locked away in savagely repressive conditions bring substantial, insightful contributions to the broader engagement with the new communism. Stories about copies of Revolution and works of BA being passed along prison grapevines inspire.

Help raise the funds so that prisoners will not only be able to read, study and spread BA’s speech inside the walls—they will also write to Revolution, encourage others outside to get into, spread, and take up the film themselves. This will contribute to a powerful dynamic between many of the millions of people locked up, and the “outside world”—loved ones, families, friends and former schoolmates learning of and themselves getting acquainted with the emancipatory outlook and scientific method of BA.

Contribute, Raise Funds for Getting BA’s Speech into Prisons

Donate as much as you can yourself. Get contributions from friends, family, co-workers, people you know who have loved ones incarcerated, people you know who yearn for a better world. Reach out to community organizations, prisoner support groups, student groups, and others to raise money. Correspond to us about your experience so others can learn from your experience and approach.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/10-days-6-outrages-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

10 Days, 6 Outrages: What This Says About AmeriKKKa

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

April 3: University of Chicago Police shoot a Black/Asian student who is clearly having a mental health crisis and then charge him with assault. April 5: A young Black man convicted of burglary and theft is also found guilty of murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison for the death of his friend who was murdered by the police. April 5: Cops fire more than 30 shots into a car in a Walmart parking lot, killing a 26-year-old Black man. April 12: Two Black men are arrested in Starbucks for “not ordering anything.” April 12: A white racist shoots at a Black youth asking for directions. April 13: Cambridge pigs beat Black Harvard student who is standing in the street, naked and mentally disoriented.

These are not aberrations, isolated incidents. It is a basic fact that whether it is in the news or not, police murder of Black people, racist vigilante attacks, blatant discrimination goes on all the time. But this is not happening just because of individual racist cops, judges, store managers, or neighbors—and it won’t be stopped by “diversity training.” There is a bigger pattern here that reveals something deeper and built into the capitalist-imperialist system we live under.

There has been righteous anger and protests at these incidents. Many are sick and tired of hearing about such outrages happening over and over and over again. And people need to ask themselves: What kind of society, what kind of government, what kind of ruling class unleashes this, sanctions this, and does nothing to stop this?

This situation is utterly needless. But it IS necessary to this system. White supremacy has been a part of the DNA of Amerikkka from day one. As Bob Avakian has said, “There would be no United States as we know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.” (BAsics 1:1) And now the workings and policies of this white supremacist system are in the hands of all-but-open fascist—Trump, who continues to demonize Black people and institute all kinds of moves to unleash the police even more and heighten repression. This is the overall situation in which these police murders, white vigilantism, and freelance racist actions are taking place.

From the cops whose job is to repress, brutalize, and murder—to keep Black people under control. To the white racist “neighbors,” business owners, managers, and others—who act as freelance enforcers of white supremacy, intent on maintaining the privilege of white people and enforcing the oppression and discrimination of Black people in all different parts in society. To the armed KKKers who Trump calls “good people.” To the less overt, but still racist acts carried out in the name of “safety,” “protecting my business,” or getting a good education for my kids, maintaining “law and order,” etc. This is 2018, but this can be compared to the bounty men who hunted down escaped slaves, the “good Southern families” who carried out the most brutal measures to keep the slaves “in their place,” the KKK nightriders who accosted Black men and lynched them in the forests, and the respectable people who tsked and turned their heads.

A different kind of society—without all this—is possible. But it is not going to happen by trying to reform this system, by simply trying to “change people’s thinking.” If we want to know how to put an END to all this, once and for all, we have to get at the root of why this shit keeps happening. We have to understand how these things keep happening because of the very nature of this system.

It will take a revolution to get beyond not only these horrors, but all of the unnecessary madness plaguing humanity—a real revolution aimed at getting rid of this system and bringing into being a whole different economic and political system aimed at emancipating all of humanity. There must be an uncompromising struggle against racist white vigilantism and the police murder of Black people—as an important part of preparing the time for when the people can make revolution to get rid of this goddamn system. Bob Avakian has said:

There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn’t fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There’s never gonna be a revolution in this country, and there never should be, that doesn’t make that one key foundation of what it’s all about. (BAsics 3:19)

Because of the struggle of millions of people, some things have changed. We don’t have straight up legal segregation and the KKK is not just running amok lynching people. But we still have the same system with new ways of enforcing white supremacy. And the oppression of Black people is manifested in a thousand different ways—not only in open violence and blatant discrimination but revealed in all social indicators like incarceration rates, health, education, income, social services, etc. For example, maternal and infant mortality rates among Black people are twice as high compared to the rates among white people—and segregation and unequal treatment in housing continue and are even intensifying in many ways.

A revolution to get rid of this system and to bring into being a whole new, liberating society IS possible. With the leadership of Bob Avakian, there is a truly scientific way to understand the roots of this oppression, the forces that keep it going, and the way to overcome it—as part of overcoming and abolishing all other forms of exploitation and oppression and destructive conflicts among the people, and emancipating humanity. This is the new communism of Bob Avakian (BA).

So every time, when another outrage happens—when there’s yet another police murder of an unarmed Black man, yet another racist vigilante attack, yet another incident of blatant discrimination—get mad. But don’t just get mad. We need to fight the power, build the movement for revolution, and as we do that, get into BA to understand how we can put an end to this shit once and for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/gaza-week-4-palestinians-again-stand-up-to-israel-murderous-violence-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Gaza Week 4, April 20:

Palestinians Again Stand Up to Israel’s Murderous Violence!

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

For the fourth week in a row, unarmed Palestinians stood up against Israel’s murderous violence. Some 10,000 demonstrated in Friday’s “Great March of Return” at the Gaza-Israel border. They demanded the right to their land, taken seven decades ago when Israel was founded. They called for end to the slow, torturous death imposed on Gaza’s 1.8 million inhabitants by Israel’s genocidal embargo. Most of all they came out to assert their humanity.

Palestinian youths again risked death to run across their own land to approach the border fence—a 300 yard strip Israel has turned into a killing field. Masses of women came out in the face of Israeli army warnings that protesting was against their “feminine nature,” and that they’d lose their “honor” by demonstrating. “Women are at the centre of this issue and make up half of society,” one protester told Middle East Eye. “It’s every Palestinian woman’s right to defend her land and nation. Women are at the heart and centre of the resistance.”

There were also protests in the West Bank and in Israel, where thousands of Israeli Palestinians gathered in a town south of Haifa to take part in the “Great March of Return.”

Bullets, Tear Gas, and Lies—Israel’s Response to Unarmed Protest

Once again, with the eyes of many across the world on Gaza, Israel opened fire. They assassinated a 15-year-old, and three other Palestinians, all under 30 years old. These are deliberate executions by Israeli military snipers—whose commander claims they know where each bullet goes.

With their aerial surveillance planes overhead, the Israeli military fired tear gas canisters at vehicles clearly marked as press. At least one car full of journalists was hit, causing serious injuries. Massive amounts of tear gas were fired at protesters, some hundreds of yards from the fence. There were reports of live fire at protests in the West Bank.

On Friday, 727 protesters were wounded. These protests brought the four-week death count to at least 37, and the injury total to 4,300 according to the Gaza’s Ministry of Health. Brad Parker, international advocacy officer at Defense for Children (@DCIPalestine) tweeted,“The number of patients treated in @MSF clinics in Gaza over the last three weeks is more than the number treated throughout all of 2014, when Israel’s military offensive Operation Protective Edge was launched on Gaza.”

There were no Israeli casualties this Friday, and there have been none—zero—in the three Fridays before, giving the lie to Israel’s claims the protests have been “violent disturbances,” and “terrorist attacks.”

It would be impossible for Israel to carry out its crimes without massive U.S. military, political, and economic backing—including for these latest murders in Gaza. The blood of the Palestinian people is on America’s hands!

A Critical Moment:
Condemn Israel’s Crimes, Uphold the Palestinian People’s Just Struggle for Liberation

This wave of Palestinian protests highlights the deep yearning of the Palestinian people for real emancipation and an end to the horrors that have been inflicted on them over these past seven decades. Yet neither wing of the currently dominant Palestinian leadership—the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas and the oppressive conciliators of Fatah—represents the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people or the path forward.

These interests are NOT represented within the clash between U.S. imperialism, now in fascist form with the Trump/Pence regime, with its enforcer in Israel on one side, and the Islamic fascists represented by Hamas and its backer in Iran on the other. As Bob Avakian has analyzed:

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade [increasingly globalized western imperialism] on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists. (BAsics 1:28)

The current wave of Palestinian protests is totally just and must be supported. And it points to the basis and potential for bringing forward a whole other, emancipating way forward for the Palestinian people.

The significance of these protests is also heightened because they are taking place with a fascist regime now in charge in the U.S. and the storm clouds of war looming over the region, which could lead to even more murderous assaults on the Palestinian people. (The U.S. move of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem points in this dangerous direction.)

So especially at this fraught, dangerous moment, it’s imperative for many, many more to speak out against the crimes being carried out by Israel and the U.S., and to visibly demonstrate support for the just struggle of the Palestinian people.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/earth-day-2018-trump-pence-fascist-regime-barrels-ahead-with-plunder-of-environment-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

As the World Marks Earth Day 2018:

Trump/Pence Fascist Regime Barrels Ahead with Plunder of the Environment

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Earth Day this year took place at a time when the world is hurtling at an accelerating pace toward global environmental catastrophe. To cite just one sign of this: A recent report from scientists 1 warned that ocean “dead zones”—where there is zero oxygen—have quadrupled since 1950 because of human-caused global warming and pollution. Things are headed toward mass extinctions of many forms of ocean life, with unthinkably disastrous consequences not only for hundreds of millions of people who depend directly on the sea but for all of humanity.

And the country that has done more than any other to contribute to environmental disaster—the United States—is now headed by a fascist regime stuffed with anti-science know nothings, pathological liars and Christian fascist zealots who refuse to even accept the well-established scientific fact of climate change. One of the top ghouls in the Trump/Pence cabal is Scott Pruitt—the head of the Environmental “Protection” Agency (EPA). Right now, the mainstream media is all focused up on the sordid scandal swirling around Pruitt’s corrupt actions. But far more dangerous, to people here and around the world, is what Pruitt has been and is doing as a point man for the Trump/Pence war on the environment. 2

While Trump declares outright that climate change is a “hoax,” Pruitt claims that there is “tremendous disagreement” about how much impact the use of fossil fuels—which produces CO2 and other greenhouse gases—has on global climate change. This is nothing but a devious lie with the same aim as Trump’s blatant denial of science. There is near-unanimous agreement among scientists worldwide that not only is climate change happening as a result of human activity, but that it is clearly caused by the burning of oil and other practices that produce greenhouse gases.

All around us, there is overflowing evidence of the catastrophic direction the world is heading in because of climate change: record-setting global temperature year after year…increasingly powerful and destructive storms due to warming of seas and air…quickening melting of glaciers and ice at the poles…people driven from their homelands because of drought and forced to become climate refugees. In the face of this, the Trump/Pence regime is putting their foot down on the gas pedal of the accelerating environmental emergency.

Slashing Limits to Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Under Pruitt, the EPA—which should really be known as the Environmental Plunder Agency—has been cutting back on or outright eliminating one environmental regulation after another relating to greenhouse gases and pollution hazards. One major effort in this regard is Pruitt’s announcement in early April this year that the EPA is beginning to reconsider the current fuel efficiency standards for cars and light-duty trucks. Pruitt said the previous administration “set the standards too high.” Cars and trucks account for one-sixth of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. National Geographic described Pruitt’s announcement as “the first step in a rollback of one of the U.S.’s biggest efforts to curb carbon emissions.”.

It is not the case that the pre-Trump regulations on car emissions—and other rules dealing with fossil fuels—were sufficient to deal with the problem humanity is facing. Under Obama, the U.S. had somewhat different environmental policies, including signing on to the Paris international climate treaty. But there was still the same system at work—the system of capitalist-imperialism. Under this system, nothing can be done unless, ultimately, there is profit. Different blocs of capitalists compete against each other, driven by the ruthless commandment of “expand or die.” Whatever the views of individual capitalists, they are compelled by the underlying driving forces of their system to rapaciously despoil the environment without regard for consequences for humanity and all species of life.3 While the Paris accords and various regulations under Obama did put some limits on greenhouse gas emissions from cars, power plants, and other sources, they never came anywhere near what is actually required to address the gigantic problem of climate change in a serious way.

But what we face in the Trump/Pence regime is an extreme concentration of that system. The Trump/Pence regime is now sweeping aside even the limited federal regulations on greenhouse gases enacted previously—and going after states like California which have had their own emission standards and other environmental regulations. All this could compel other countries to lower their greenhouse gas emission rules, so that their industries would not fall behind in the competition with U.S. capitalists.

“They’re Going to Be Killing People”

Pruitt’s EPA is also targeting rules and regulations relating to limiting environmental pollution. Investigation of corporations for violation of clean air and clear water laws are way down. In the first 266 days under Pruitt, the EPA filed about a thousand fewer cases of enforcement actions and sought almost $9 billion less in fines and orders for repairs against environmental violators than in a similar period the previous year. 4

Earlier this year, the EPA issued a legal memo that would allow companies more leeway in meeting standards to limit toxic air pollution. While air pollution affects people broadly, the loosening of regulations would particularly hit neighborhoods of Black and other oppressed people, who are more likely than the general population to live near major industrial polluters. A former head of the environmental justice division at the EPA said about this change under Pruitt, “They’re really going to be killing people. You’re going to have all kinds of public health problems.” 5

Censoring the Truth

Along with the assaults on environmental regulations, Pruitt is also leading the charge against the truth about global warming and other environmental threats. Pruitt’s EPA has been systematically deleting mention of “climate change” as well as other terms like “fossil fuels,” “greenhouse gases,” and “global warming” from its website.6 Previously, the website had included information like data from years of research about emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases and their effects on climate.

This is not the only federal agency where such censorship on information about climate change has been carried out under Trump—but it has been most extensive at the EPA. Phillip Duffy, president of the prestigious Woods Hole Research Center told TIME magazine, “The idea that the science of climate change is in doubt—and that this justifies changing EPA websites—is simply false. I see no way to avoid concluding that [the current EPA administration] places the interests of the fossil industry above those of the people it is charged to protect.” The EPA has also been erasing mention of climate change from its strategic plans and preventing its scientists from speaking about climate change at conferences.

A Grave Threat to Humanity

What’s happening at the EPA under Pruitt is part of the Trump/Pence regime’s wholesale assault on the environment. Just a few days before Earth Day, for example, the Senate confirmed yet another climate change denier to a high-level post—Jim Bridenstine as head of NASA, an agency whose scientists had done important research on climate change.

Climate change and the global environmental emergency certainly did not begin with the rise of Trump and Pence. But in little over a year, they have already done great damage in many different ways, including making the threat of global climate disaster much, much worse. And they are determined to force their way ahead to full consolidation of fascist rule. They pose a grave and urgent threat to humanity and the environment—they must be driven out before they can cause even greater harm.

But as people unite broadly against the fascist regime, there needs to be debate and wrangling over what is actually needed to take on the global environmental emergency for real. Going back to the “way things were” under the same system is no answer. An actual revolution is needed to uproot and sweep away this predatory system and bring into being a radically new and much better system, including a completely different approach to the environment—a society aiming toward a world free of all exploitative and oppressive divisions among humanity. Bob Avakian brings alive a concrete plan for such a society in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

 

1. “Ocean suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn,” theguardian.com, January 4, 2018. [back]

2. For more background on Pruitt, see “Who Is Scott Pruitt, REALLY?“ at the RefuseFascism.org website. [back]

3. To get more into these points, check out the special Revolution issue on the environmental emergency. [back]

4. “Under Trump, E.P.A. Has Slowed Actions Against Polluters, and Put Limits on Enforcement Officers,” New York Times, December 10, 2017. [back]

5. From “The EPA Wants to Regulate Factories Like Your Local Dry Cleaners,” Earther.com, January 26, 2018. [back]

6. “Here’s What the EPA’s Website Looks Like After a Year of Climate Change Censorship,” TIME.com, March 1, 2018. [back]

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/537/this-nightmare-must-end-the-trump-pence-regime-must-go-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

New Call to Action From Refuse Fascism:

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

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

April 2, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

We are horrified and angered at the shocking damage already done to lives here and around the world by the Trump/Pence regime. We recognize that they are poised to do far worse, including threatening WAR, even nuclear war. Through an unrelenting barrage of daily outrages and Twitter outbursts, the Trump/Pence regime is radically remaking society—step by step hammering into place a vicious American fascism. This is not insult or exaggeration, it is what they are doing.

Therefore, WE RESOLVE that nothing short of removing this whole illegitimate regime from power will stop this nightmare.

There is a way to do this. To do so,we must cast aside illusions and self-delusions:

All too many people think and act as if what we face is just the worst of pendulum swings between Republicans and Democrats. NO! This regime, if left in power, will effect a thoroughly reactionary restructuring of society.

If we think that the normal processes of the 2018 or 2020 elections, or the Mueller investigation will, by themselves, redress the situation that humanity faces, we are not understanding the determination of these fascists in power to shatter norms—even though they have been doing so for over a year.

If we think that the heightened activism of the past year, either by itself or together with the elections will stop this regime, we are missing how much harm this regime has already done, absorbing individual protests as it rapidly moves its agenda forward on multiple fronts.

If we are not as outraged and motivated to act today as we were right after the election, we are on our way to accepting a great horror that builds daily. If we adjust to the injustice of this regime, do not ask how the German people could have accepted Nazism in the 1930s.

An American Fascism

We must not reassure ourselves that it couldn’t happen here. It is. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is a 21st century fascist program of Manifest Destiny—”America First”—wrapped in the flag and Mike Pence’s Bible taken literally, with a program of white supremacy, misogyny, and xenophobia.

This regime denies truth and objective evidence, and yet it has its hands on the most powerful military and nuclear arsenal in history and is preparing and threatening to use it! Millions of immigrants live in terror fearing their loved ones will be ripped away. People’s humanity is viciously denied. Women are poised to lose the right to abortion. Trump and Sessions have instructed police to “take the gloves off,” further brutalizing people of color. LGBTQ rights recently won are under assault. Damage done to the environment by this regime in just 14 months could be irreversible.

Fascism rules by organized repression and terror by the government: civil liberties are stripped away, law re-written, dissent criminalized, the courts packed with fascists, and the separation of powers and of church and state ultimately eviscerated. As part of radically remaking society, the Trump/Pence regime must sharply attack those in positions of power who oppose them. Fascism also mobilizes mobs of vicious thugs as we’ve seen with Nazis marching and murdering in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Trump/Pence Regime has not yet been able to implement their full program. But they are advancing. It might only take a single serious crisis—international or domestic—for this regime to drop the hammer.

Don’t Normalize... Don’t Accommodate... Don’t Conciliate... Don’t Collaborate...

People all over the world are counting on us to STOP this nightmare. The different strains of fascist demagogues and movements in this country see in Trump and Pence their “last chance” to achieve their reactionary program. They will not listen to facts or reason; they have already and will continue to change rules, manipulate elections, and they will not give up.

The Democratic Party leadership will NOT lead us out of this. They are about maintaining order for their whole set up. For them, order is more important than justice, even if that means the order of fascism. After Trump’s election, President Obama said of Trump, “We are all on the same team... We are now all rooting for his success.” NO! If Trump succeeds, it will be catastrophic!

But there IS another way. A different kind of protest. We need to organize now for the time when we can launch massive, sustained nonviolent protests in the streets of cities and towns across the country—protests that continue day after day and don’t stop, creating the kind of political situation in which the demand that the Trump/Pence regime be removed from power is met.

Everyone who recognizes that the Trump/Pence Nightmare Must End is invited to join in and prepare for launching this great act of sustained resistance.

Imagine tens of thousands beginning in several cities and towns, with marches, candlelight vigils, rallies—students, religious communities, immigrants, everyone with a heart for humanity in the streets and not backing down—growing from thousands to hundreds of thousands and eventually millions. Our actions will reflect the values of respect for all of humanity and the world we want—in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime. The whole world will take heart.

This will shake millions awake, with many losing their adjustment to life under this regime. The international credibility of the regime will be undermined. A determined struggle that doesn’t yield and won’t be provoked can create a serious political crisis. Those in power who are themselves now under attack by the regime but conciliating with it would be compelled to respond to our struggle from below, leading to a situation where this illegitimate regime is removed from power.

This would be hard, but possible. Possible because millions of us feel the horror of Trump and Pence. Many have righteously protested different outrages, but now we must rise to another level of determined resistance.

We must confront the reality that the world as we have known it is being torn asunder. This requires getting out of our comfort zones and not allowing our differences to stand in the way of rising together in an unprecedented, unrelenting mass struggle to confront the danger of a Trump/Pence fascist America.

WE PLEDGE that we will not stand aside while there is still a chance to stop a regime that imperils humanity and the earth itself. Join us. Let’s stand together with conviction and courage, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to struggle with all we’ve got to demand: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go.

In the Name of Humanity,

We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America!

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

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Go to:
RefuseFascism.org
to add your name to this statement

 @RefuseFascism on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/538/speech-official-launch-for-the-refuse-fascism-call-to-action-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

We Are At a Crossroads:
The Stakes Are the Future of Humanity

Talk by Andy Zee at the April 11 official launch of the Spring, 2018 Refuse Fascism Call to Action

April 12, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

The following is the text of a talk given by Andy Zee—spokesperson for Revolution Books and a co-initiator of Refuse Fascism—as part of the April 11 livestream of the announcement of the new Refuse Fascism Call to Action and plans for the coming weeks and months.

 

We are approaching a fork in the road. Tonight, Refuse Fascism puts before the world the stark truth that the Trump/Pence regime is a fascist regime that is step by step bringing about a fascist America. And, that there is a way, a road that requires courage, conviction, and determination, to stop it. The stakes are high and acutely posed as we meet this evening because the Trump/Pence regime is on the verge of TWO MAJOR LEAPS THAT ALSO POSE FORKS IN THE ROAD FOR THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY WITH STAKES FOR ALL OF HUMANITY.

One, should Trump act to fire special prosecutor Mueller, demonstrating that the Trump/Pence regime regards itself as above the law, this will challenge the people of this country to decide whether or not they are willing to go down the road to fascism. Accepting such a move by Trump—even if by just going out into the streets for a day and then going back to business as usual—will signal to the Trump/Pence regime and their powerful backers that they can tear up the rule of law. That we won’t stand in the way of their consolidating all power in their hands as they move to impose a fascist America on the world. Trump already feels the heat and should he fire Mueller he will face tremendous pressure to move fast to suppress opposition at the highest levels of government and throughout society. Will we meet this challenge?

Two, Trump has cleared out all the vacillating, less obedient members of his inner circle, forging a fascist War and Torture Cabal seriously heightening the danger of war—even nuclear war. Gina Haspel, his nominee to head the CIA, is a war criminal, a torturer, who ordered cover-ups of her crimes. Mike Pompeo, the Trump/Pence nominee for secretary of state, is a fascist “Tea Party” leader known for his vicious hatred of Islam and his advocacy of war and torture. Then, there’s John Bolton, who is the new national security adviser, who was a key architect of the Iraq war and the lies that justified it, and is a blood-thirsty war monger who advocates pre-emptively “eliminating” North Korea, even putting forth a bogus “legal” theory to justify such a war crime. Bolton also wrote in the New York Times: “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” The Trump/Pence regime is determined to scuttle the Iran deal, to further unleash Israel and Saudi Arabia as attack dogs in the Mideast, all of which greatly increases the danger of even wider, more deadly wars. Do you, do we, have any conception of and responsibility to, the horrors such acts would mean?

Yet, in the wake of these cabinet appointments, there has been no protest. Zero: when it is not even an “open secret” that the Trump/Pence regime is plotting for major war... it’s in their sights and what they are planning for.

SO, HERE TOO IS A CROSSROADS FOR THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY: ARE YOU, ARE WE, GOING TO ACCEPT THE LOGIC AND LIES THAT WILL BE USED TO JUSTIFY THE KILLING OF POTENTIALLY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE? This is a human cost that John Bolton has explicitly said would be worth it if the U.S. could take out North Korea’s weapons. Or, is your morality so poisoned by the ideology of “America First,” or by the comfort of your life, that you will not STAND UP AND ACT? Do we believe that American lives are worth more than the lives of other people? Are We Going To Rise to What History and Humanity Demand of Us and Take to the Streets to Demand that These Moves Towards and Acts of War Must Stop and that the Trump/Pence Regime Be Removed from Power?

The 2018 Call to Act from Refuse Fascism which we are about to present says straight up: “If we adjust to the injustice of this regime, DO NOT ASK HOW THE GERMAN PEOPLE COULD HAVE ACCEPTED NAZISM IN THE 1930s.

These two crossroads—the possibility that Trump will make a decisive move to assert that he and his regime are above the law, and the present danger of escalated WAR, interact with and feed off each other. The question is: WILL WE ACCEPT IT? OR, WILL WE UNITE—COMING FROM MANY DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS AND POINTS OF VIEW—TO STOP THIS THROUGH MASSIVE NON-VIOLENT PROTEST THAT DOESN’T STOP UNTIL THIS ILLEGIITMATE, ILLEGAL, and IMMORAL FASCIST REGIME IS REMOVED FROM POWER?

For over 14 months REFUSE FASCISM has put forth, backed by substantive analysis, that what we face is a REGIME, not the worst of reactionary Republican administrations, but a regime that is radically remaking society in a fascist direction. And that the only way to stop this is through massive, non-violent, sustained protests in cities and towns across the country—protests that don’t stop until the Trump/Pence regime is removed from power.

But, the millions of people who deep in their hearts abhor this regime are being told by the Democratic Party leadership and those who front for it, that there is an easier way to stop Trump: elect the Democrats to Congress. We pose to you: if this is your strategy you don’t understand that this is a fascist regime. If you see the horror of Trump as just a swing of the pendulum, and the midterms as the answer, you will necessarily mute protest. Your blue wave will carry you crashing into the rocks of a regime that will stop at nothing.

More, if you did elect a Democratic House, then what? The Democratic leadership has taken impeachment off the table. They have no answer to what to do about Pence and the whole fascist movement. And, let’s get down to the real deal, for the Democratic Party leadership, their dispute with Trump and Pence is over how to rule and advance the interests of the American Empire. Do you really think that if the U.S. launches bombing in the Mideast or against North Korea that these leaders of the Democratic Party will do anything other than be a part of, or vie for leadership of a wave of American chauvinism? When they do, this will further clear the path for the Trump/Pence regime to further consolidate its power. Recall that every leading Democrat has vowed to “work” with Trump where they can. NO! You Don’t Work With and Normalize Fascists.

We are not calling it fascism to hype anyone into action. But consider: What do you call it when people are demonized and attacked for who they are: immigrants, Black people, women, LGBTQ people, refugees, Muslims, Jewish people, the disabled, Native Americans—any and everyone who opposes the regime’s White America First rule. What do you call it when civil liberties and basic democratic rights are cast aside? You call it fascism. We must not shirk from it, but confront the truth and unite to say NO! Go to RefuseFascism.org to learn more, to donate, to sign the Call, and to get involved.

In closing, I reiterate, we are at a crossroads. The stakes are the future of humanity. Right now the Trump/Pence regime faces increasing necessity—domestically and internationally—to radically restructure U.S. governance and international relations, shattering norms. They have made great progress ramming into policy their “America First” and “Make America Great Again” fascist agenda. The danger of war, potentially nuclear war, and of this regime “dropping the hammer” with new, more draconian laws that take away democratic and civil rights means there must be real urgency to our organizing and forging unity. We cannot predict when the Trump/Pence regime will have made a qualitative leap in consolidating fascism. Yet, we recognize that what they have already set in motion requires that everyone who REFUSES to Live in a Fascist America unite with Refuse Fascism and together we must bend every effort to mount the kind of struggle that is put forth in the 2018 Refuse Fascism Call to Act. And, as part of getting to that point, everyone, every organization, must not allow this regime to launch a war, a massive bombing, or subvert the rule of law by firing the special prosecutor, and take to the streets.

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

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/gaza-killings-spark-protests-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

In the Wake of Gaza Killings:

Israeli-born Actor Natalie Portman, Jewish-American Youth and Others Courageously Protest Israeli Crimes Against Palestinians

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Israel’s blatant massacres of unarmed Palestinian protesters has sparked widespread revulsion and protests on different fronts, and, importantly, ferment and opposition among Jewish people.

Oscar-Winner Natalie Portman Refuses to Appear with Israeli PM Netanyahu: “I Must Stand Up Against Violence”

The most prominent protest has been that by Oscar-winning actor Natalie Portman, who was born in Israel and has starred in major films, including Black Swan and three Star Wars episodes. Portman has announced she would not travel to her country of birth to accept the Genesis Prize.

This is a major award, known as Israel’s Nobel Prize, and it includes a $2 million prize. According to the Genesis Foundation, it’s given to “extraordinary individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement, commitment to Jewish values and to the Jewish people.” Her decision prompted the foundation to cancel the entire awards ceremony.

Portman’s rejection, coming in the midst of Israel’s murderous crackdown on unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, sent shockwaves through Israel and has reverberated globally. It has been widely covered in the international media and drawn forward support from other prominent artists. It has also triggered a vicious, reactionary counter-backlash from various Israeli officials and supporters. One official demanded Portman’s Israeli citizenship be revoked (she holds dual U.S. and Israeli citizenship). An Israeli legislator worried that her action was “a warning light,” and that Natalie Portman was “now speaking for many Jews in the United States, and essentially the young generation.”

In the face of these attacks and criticism, and the enormous pressures of being an international celebrity, Portman has courageously stood by her decision. In a statement, she explained:

My decision not to attend the Genesis Prize ceremony has been mischaracterized by others. Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend [the Genesis Prize ceremony] because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. By the same token, I am not part of the BDS movement and do not endorse it. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation. I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance. Israel was created exactly 70 years ago as a haven for refugees from the Holocaust. But the mistreatment of those suffering from today’s atrocities is simply not in line with my Jewish values. Because I care about Israel, I must stand up against violence, corruption, inequality, and abuse of power.

(Of Netanyahu, Portman had previously said, “I find his racist comments horrific.”)

Natalie Portman’s courageous stance needs to be widely supported!

#IfNotNow to Sen. Schumer—“How many more Palestinians must die?”

The Jewish group IfNotNow has held 30 demonstrations against Israel’s violence against Palestinian protesters and the silence and complicity of leading Jewish institutions and politicians. Its press release states:

Over the past two weeks, 37 young American Jews have been arrested in six cities at the offices of various Jewish institutions and leaders as part of a campaign to protest Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters in Gaza.... including in Boston at the Israeli Consulate, in New York City at Senator Schumer’s office, in the Twin Cities at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota, in Los Angeles at the Jewish Federation, in San Francisco at Senator Feinstein’s office, and in Washington, DC at Senator Cardin’s office. At each location, the young Jews demanded a statement condemning Israeli violence against Palestinian protesters, and at each location the organization or individual chose to call the police to arrest the protesters instead of releasing any statement.

In New York, protesters barricaded the entrance to Schumer’s office after his staff refused to issue a statement condemning Israel’s use of live fire against unarmed protesters. “How many more Palestinians must die?” they chanted. “Is Palestinian freedom less important than our freedom?”

According to its website, IfNotNow is “a movement led by young Jews to transform the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.” Members have been “Moved to act by moral anguish and inspired by Hillel’s three questions,1 we too feel called to take responsibility for the future of our community. We know the liberation of our Jewish community is bound up in the liberation of all people, particularly those in Israel and Palestine... Our elders told many of us that because of our history, we should oppose oppression in all the places it lives, whether it preys upon us or others.” (See Interview with Eliana Fishman of IfNotNow)

April 14: 150 Protest “Birth Right” Celebration—#ShedLightonBirthright!

On April 14, over 150 students from New York and New England colleges protested “Birthright Israel” at its annual gala in New York City. “Birthright Israel” is a program sponsored by prominent Zionists and backed by the Israeli government that funds free indoctrination trips to Israel for Jewish youth in order to deepen their sense of Jewish identity and connection to and support for Israel.

The protest was held by Return the Birthright, which calls on young Jews to boycott the Birthright campaign and support Palestinian rights instead, declaring: “it’s unjust that we get a free Birthright trip, while Palestinian refugees can’t return to their homes.” The student groups demonstrating included Jewish Voices for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, the Palestine Solidarity Alliance, IfNotNow, and the Democratic Socialists of America.

During the protest, IfNotNow projected giant images of “Shed Light on Birthright” on the building with slogans including “Birthright Lied To Us,” and “Jewish Youth Demand the Truth.”

April 9: 50+ NYU Student Groups Endorse Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement for Palestinian Human Rights

According to an April 9 statement by New York University’s chapter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement:

A broad coalition of student groups at New York University votes to endorse BDS, calling on NYU to divest from companies complicit in the Israeli occupation and pledging to boycott Israeli academic institutions and conferences sponsored by Israel. Earlier this week, 50 NYU student groups voted to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, refuse to co-sponsor any events with pro-Israel campus groups, and pressure the premier academic institution to divest any holdings from companies that do business with Israel.

Other Actions:

March 30, New York City: “Emergency rally: solidarity with Gaza #GreatMarchofReturn.” Some 90 people gathered in New York City’s Washington Square Park to uphold Palestinians’ right of return to their land and demand the lifting of the siege of Gaza and an end to Israeli violence. The event was sponsored by Within our Lifetime • United for Palestine and a number of other organizations, including Students for Justice in Palestine from NYU and the College of Staten Island, NYU Jewish Voice for Peace.

Chicago, April 20: Shabbat Vigil—Honoring Lives of Palestinian protesters in Gaza

Some two dozen joined a vigil sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago to honor Palestinian protesters killed by Israeli snipers in Gaza by speaking their names and reciting the Kaddish (Jewish prayer for the dead). People condemned the indiscriminate killings and injuries of grassroots protesters and press, affirmed the rights of Palestinians to protest for their right to return home, and demanded that U.S. laws making it illegal to provide weapons used in human rights violations be enforced


1. If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
  If I am only for myself, what am I?
  If not now, when?  [back]

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/interview-with-eliana-fishman-of-ifnotnow-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Interview with Eliana Fishman of IfNotNow:

“When young American Jews see the protests in Gaza, we see ourselves”

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revolution/revcom.us recently interviewed Eliana Fishman, a member of IfNotNow, which describes itself as “a movement led by young Jews to transform the American Jewish community’s support for the occupation into a call for freedom and dignity for all Israelis and Palestinians.” The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

****

Revcom: Eliana, tell us about the recent IfNotNow protests. What were the highlights? Why were people willing to be arrested for this cause?

Eliana Fishman: The killing of 31 Palestinian protesters and injuring of over 1,000 more with live fire is, simply put, unconscionable. The Palestinian protests are part of an effort to end the Occupation, after 51 years of brutal control, and yet our community has been silent or supported these actions. How many more deaths will it take before they speak out against the occupation? We refuse to wait. If the American Jewish community refuses to act, we will act now to be the leaders our community needs. We had actions with 37 activists getting arrested in DC, Boston, the Twin Cities, NYC, San Francisco and LA.

When young American Jews see the protests in Gaza, we see ourselves. So many of us participated in the Women’s March, or have been part of actions for Dreamers or Black Lives Matter. Why are activists in Gaza getting shot at for doing the same things that we've done?

Revcom: What has been the response to your actions?

Eliana Fishman: One hour after our action in San Francisco, Sen. Feinstein tweeted a statement saying, “This violence is exceptionally destructive for both the Palestinians and the state of Israel. It must end. Violence is not the pathway to reconciliation.”

We have gotten coverage in Haaretz and several local newspapers. We have not gotten any response from the American Jewish establishment.

Revcom: What motivated you to join IfNotNow?

Eliana Fishman: I am a proud and active Jew—I attended 13 years of Orthodox Jewish day school, 10 summers at Conservative* summer camp. I am religiously observant, and a member of a synagogue. Israel’s Occupation is destroying my American Jewish community. The Occupation is not only a daily nightmare for Palestinians, but it is also a moral catastrophe for both Israeli Jews and American Jews. I don’t want to be part of a community that thinks upholding Occupation is an acceptable thing to do.

Revcom: Your group calls for people to fight oppression wherever it’s found. What are your thoughts on ending all forms of oppression?

Eliana Fishman: IfNotNow supports freedom and dignity for all.

Revcom: What impact do you feel the group’s moral stance and challenge have had on individuals and broadly?

Eliana Fishman: So many IfNotNow members got involved because this was the first place where they could be proudly Jewish, without selling out any of their other values.

Revcom: What is your thinking about Trump and the danger he and his government present?

Eliana Fishman: IfNotNow sees Donald Trump and [Israeli prime minister] Bibi Netanyahu as two sides of the same coin. Despite the Trump administration’s horrific immigration policies, racism, sexism, anti-Semitism etc., the American Jewish community has sucked up to Trump because he supports Israel’s Occupation. We will not stand by while our community sells us out in an attempt to uphold Occupation.


*Conservative Judaism is a form or branch of Judaism.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/roger-cohen-appalled-by-israel-killings-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Roger Cohen Is Appalled by Israel’s Killings—Now He Must Face What’s Really Led to “The Insanity at the Gaza Fence”

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Israel’s use of live fire against unarmed demonstrators at the Gaza border is generating outrage across the world. And the demand of the protests for the Palestinian “right of return” is shining a spotlight on the core nature of Israel as a settler state and bastion of Western imperialism, built on violent ethnic cleansing. This is also giving rise to deep distress, agony and unease among Israel’s supporters, particularly liberal Jews (see “Gaza Killings Spark Protests”).

One of those supporters is New York Times columnist Roger Cohen. His April 20 column, “The Insanity at the Gaza Fence,” gives voice to genuine agony. He acknowledges Gaza is an “open-air prison.” He writes, “Israel has the right to defend its borders, but not to use lethal force against mainly unarmed protesters in the way that has already left 35 Palestinians dead and nearly 1,000 injured.”

Cohen is worried about Israel’s future. He feels Israel’s ongoing military occupation and the rightward drift of its politics is untenable, but he continues to uphold Israel’s founding and its fundamental legitimacy:

Palestinians lost their homes after Arab armies declared war in 1948 on Israel, which had accepted United Nations Resolution 181 of 1947 calling for the establishment of two states of roughly equal size—one Jewish, one Arab—in British Mandate Palestine. The resolution was a compromise in which I still believe, not because it was pretty, but because it was and remains better than other options.

Instead, Cohen locates the problem in the lack of compromise on both sides—Palestinian “intransigence” and Israeli “overreach”—and their inability to agree on a real two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians—as if an oppressed people and their brutal colonial oppressors bear equal responsibility. And Cohen cruelly adds that Palestinian fighters and resisters have died for “nothing.”

He calls Israel’s military response “stomach turning.” But he also condemns the Palestinians’ demand for their right to return to their stolen land as “stomach turning,” condemning it as “flimsy code for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.” (Well, if returning stolen land threatens “Israel as a Jewish state,” doesn’t that raise profound questions about the legitimacy of such a state?!)

Cohen’s rendition of Israel’s history and nature is a distortion and whitewash, including of its essential nature as a racist settler state and outpost of Western imperialism, in particular the role it has played in helping violently maintain U.S. domination of the Middle East. There was nothing legitimate about the UN partition of historic Palestine, which represented the interests of Western imperialism. Israel then proceeded to violently expel 750,000 Palestinians—including through terrorist massacres like Deir Yassin—destroy their villages, and seize their land, including outside the partition boundaries. The Palestinian people had every right to resist this colonialist intervention!

And no matter how many compromises the Palestinian leadership has made or U.S.-brokered agreements (read sell-outs) they signed, Israel has continued its relentless, ongoing, genocidal campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians, carried out through massive violence and a dehumanizing military occupation.

These are all towering crimes that must be squarely confronted and repudiated, not accepted as the politics of realism or “better than other options,” as Cohen puts it.

This is a moment to learn the REAL history of the state of Israel! You can find that in Revolution’s special issue: The Case of Israel - Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?

Cohen and other Israel supporters are also wrong about something else. Israel is not the answer to the hopes and aspirations of millions of Jewish people, and it is definitely not in their interests. Instead, it has put them on the wrong side of the fight for human emancipation. As Bob Avakian has written:

After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel. (BAsics 5:12)

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/the-case-of-israel-part-2-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism:

The Case of ISRAEL

Part Two

Posted April 23, 2018 | Originally published October 10, 2010 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Case of Israel – Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?”

What is the history of the Israeli State?

What role does Israel play in today’s world?

What is the true history of the Palestinian people, and their dispossession from a land they had lived in for centuries?

What is the relationship between the U.S. and Israel?

In the past few weeks, courageous protests of Palestinian people in Gaza have been viciously suppressed by heavily armed Israeli forces. At least 30 people have been killed, and over 2,500 wounded. The protests continue, and are building towards May 15, the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel through the violent uprooting of three-fourths of the Palestinian population and the theft of their land. Palestinians mark May 15 as the Nakba – the “Catastrophe”.

In the context of these protests, last week Revolution began a serialization of a special issue from 2010, “The Case of Israel – Bastion of Enlightenment or Enforcer for Imperialism?” The questions it addresses are more important than ever.

 

The Holocaust: A Great Crime of Imperialism

Only a couple of decades after the end of World War 1, the imperialist powers were again driven to a war to redivide the world. The German ruling class had turned to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to lead them out of severe internal social crises, and to violently restructure the international division of colonial plunder that was skewed in favor of the victors in the First World War.

World War 2 was fought between two main alliances. On one side was Germany, Japan and Italy. The other alliance was the U.S., Britain and the Soviet Union. All the principals in the war were fighting for their own imperialist interests—with the exception of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was not imperialist and was fighting for its very life against a military onslaught by Germany that was historically unprecedented in its power and ferocity.

Going into this war, the Soviet Union at that time stood dramatically apart from centuries of tradition in many ways. One was that it granted equality to Jewish people. This had a great impact on the political sentiments of Jewish people in Europe. Broad attraction on the part of Jewish people to progressive causes, and to support for the Soviet Union, explains in large part why the German imperialists felt compelled to carry out the horrendous war crime that became known as the Holocaust—the systematic and wholesale murder of millions of Jews.4

Much as this has been greatly distorted in official U.S. history, the great bulk of fighting, death, and terrible destruction in World War 2 in Europe took place between Germany and the Soviet Union, in the Soviet Union. Over 14 percent of the population of the Soviet Union was wiped out during the war—almost 24 million people.5 Jewish people were active in resistance to the Nazis, and often aligned with the Soviet Union and the world communist revolution. As Hitler's armies and German imperialism advanced to the east and as Hitler invaded the Soviet Union, the German rulers came up with a "final solution" to kill off the millions of Jews within the territories they occupied. In addition, Hitler's policies of exterminating Jews in the captured territories facilitated Germany's alliances with traditional reactionary and virulently anti-Semitic ruling class forces in those countries.

Here it must be said that the U.S. rulers saw it in their own interests to stand aside from, and not try to stop the Holocaust. Hitler's anti-Semitism was not utilized by the "Allies" as a significant propaganda factor in World War 2. In 1939, U.S. authorities turned away the USS St. Louis, a ship filled with Jews seeking asylum. They were sent back to Europe, many to their deaths at the hands of the Nazis. This highly publicized incident sent a clear message to the Jews of Europe that they would get no mercy or support from the U.S.

It went so far that Roosevelt not only refused to bomb the railroad tracks hauling Jews to their deaths in the gas chambers, he even refused to let the word get out that this was happening!

After the war, the victorious allies did publicize the crimes of the Holocaust, and some Nazi war criminals were prosecuted. But the driving forces behind the Holocaust—the German ruling class as a whole—and the passive complicity of other imperialists was never widely exposed or understood.

And Jewish survivors of the Holocaust were, overall, not provided with the kind of support and compensation they needed to rebuild their lives in Europe. Many desired to move to the United States. Between 1880 and 1914, some two million Jewish people had emigrated from Eastern Europe to the U.S., and many Holocaust survivors had family ties there, or prospects of finding a community that would welcome them. But the same heartless U.S. immigration policies that kept out Jews escaping the Holocaust before and during World War 2 remained in place until 1948. Denied resettlement in the U.S., many Holocaust survivors emigrated to Palestine.

 

4. For a comprehensive exploration of the relationship of Jewish people to the economic, political and military factors behind the rise of Hitler and World War 2, see Why Did the Heavens Not Darken by Arno J. Mayer (Pantheon Books, 1988). [back]

5. See sources referenced at Wikipedia article on World War II Casualties. Some Western sources estimate the number of deaths at 20 million. [back]

 

Revolution Responds to Question on Nature of Holocaust

Revolution received the following letter from a reader:

I thought your special issue on Israel was very good. I got a lot out of how you situated the stages of the development of Zionism and Israel in relation to what was going on with the imperialist powers at any given time. But it strikes me that the Holocaust is a very complex phenomenon, demanding more explanation than you gave it in the article. Could you respond?

Editors Respond:

This is an important question that deserves and requires some additional exploration. The discussion of the causes of the Holocaust, and the relationship between that terrible crime and Zionism, was an important element of our special issue on Israel. As the reader points out, this was part of overall situating the factors that made Zionism a viable force in the world, within a whole complex set of developments in Europe, with the Holocaust being a very important part of that.

The special issue of Revolution, and in particular the article, "Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL," and the shorter article, "Question: Does the Holocaust Justify the Dispossession of the Palestinian People?" expose that the Holocaust was a crime of imperialism. The Holocaust was a terrible crime. And as the special issue on Israel pointed out, and we will expand on here, this was not some inexplicable crime that can only be "understood" as an expression of humanity's capacity to do evil, or some eternal and inherent anti-Semitism. Instead, the Holocaust was the product, in complex ways, of the workings of the system of capitalism-imperialism. And, the issue makes the case that it is utterly unjust, immoral, and without basis to defend the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and the establishment of the Zionist state of Israel, on the basis of the Holocaust.

As we wrote: "Let us state in no uncertain terms that the Holocaust was clearly one of the great crimes of modern history. But on a very basic moral level: how does a crime against one people (the Jews) committed by the government of another (the Germans)—no matter how horrific that crime—justify the dispossession, exile, constant humiliation and oppression, and denial of self-determination to a third (the Palestinians)? It does not and it cannot."

But all this does require examination in more detail, and in many dimensions.

In responding to this question from a reader, we will not attempt an overall analysis of all the causes of the Holocaust. But we will explore some key political, economic, social, and yes—religious—factors underlying this great crime. And in the process, further deconstruct and expose claims that Israel's existence is justified by the Holocaust.

In discussing the underlying causes of the Holocaust, the special issue of Revolution on Israel focused on the factor of the massive and bloody clash between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and the alignment of Jewish people in relation to that1. "The Nazi regime conflated Judaism and communism; that is, the Nazis rolled them into one big enemy, the so-called Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy. The Nazis regarded the communist project of emancipation—including the abolition of anti-Semitism—as utterly intolerable and evil; the participation of Jews in this project only added to their hatred. As the Nazi forces invaded the Soviet Union, the counter-revolutionary forces from among the Soviet citizenry which supported them were the same ones who eagerly assisted in the extermination of the Jews and the murder of communists."2

This was, indeed, one—and a very significant—factor behind the Nazis' "final solution," that is, their attempt to literally kill off nearly all the Jewish people in Europe, along with the Roma people (referred to as Gypsies), gays, and others. But there were other factors—both long-term and immediate—behind the Holocaust, particularly rooted in centuries of promotion of fear and hatred of Jews by the ruling establishment in Europe, and the powerful role of Christianity in the ruling order. And Hitler's fanatical nationalism that carried with it an absurd, yet foundational notion of "racial purity." Even the connections between Hitler's war on the Soviet Union and his anti-Semitism were multi-layered and complex.

The Immediate Situation Behind the "Final Solution"

The Nazi plan for the mass murder of the Jews of Europe was laid out and implementation orchestrated in gruesome detail at the Wannsee Conference, held in the Berlin suburb of the same name in January, 1942. The agenda of this conference was, explicitly, what the Nazis called the "Final solution to the Jewish question."

The Conference confronted, from the perspective of the Nazi leadership, how to carry out the "cleansing" of German-occupied territories of Jews. This ethnic cleansing of the Jews had been part of the Nazi program for some time, but a set of developments and circumstances—including setbacks Germany was encountering in World War 2, created a situation where, at Wannsee, even more extreme measures towards the Jews were adopted.

Leading into, and early in the war, the Nazis had explored possibilities for massive deportation of Jews from Europe—including forced emigration from Europe to African countries dominated by European imperialism, including Madagascar3.

But the Nazis were unable to implement mass deportation of Jews from Germany and German-occupied areas for a number of reasons. One was the refusal of the "Allies" to accept Jewish deportees4. Another was the continuing domination of naval passageways that the Germans had hoped to use to deport Jews from Europe by British naval power.

Further, the Nazis had hoped to send large numbers of able-bodied Jews to die in forced labor on their Eastern Front. But on the eve of the Wannsee Conference, the Germans began to suffer serious military setbacks in the war with the Soviet Union, and made an assessment that they did not have the resources or freedom to implement the scale of forced labor involved in that plan.

There were other immediate factors behind the adoption, at Wannsee, of the "final solution" in the form of death camps. Among them, serious food and housing shortages in German-occupied territories in Eastern Europe. Local Nazi officials, along with allied local fascists, demanded these shortages be mitigated by seizing the homes and property of Jews.

All of these factors combined to set the stage for the horrific crime of the killing of some six million Jews in Europe. The Nazis, led by Hitler, unleashed and carried out vicious attacks on the Jews as soon as they took power in 1933 (including building the Dachau concentration camp). Prior to 1942 many Jews were slaughtered, and Nazi officials made statements about the need to exterminate the Jews. Wannsee marked an extreme escalation of even this situation. The Nazis adopted and put into motion detailed, and definitive plans for the most thorough and efficient murder of all Jews in areas under their control—setting in motion the deportation of remaining Jews under Nazi control to death camps.5

Drawing on a Deep Well of Anti-Semitism

Beyond, and underlying the immediate agenda that produced the "final solution," an interweaving set of political, economic, and ideological factors formed the historical backdrop for the Nazis' vicious anti-Semitism.

One profoundly influential factor was the generalized virulent, violent anti-Semitism that was pervasive in Europe for over a thousand years. From the time that the Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity as state religion, Christianity was tightly integrated with the political, economic, and ideological domination of oppressing classes in Europe. The Catholic Church was an extremely powerful element of the ruling state structures in feudal Europe.

The Jews, as non-Christians, were outsiders—ostracized, and periodically persecuted. This was justified in part by the explosive claim that Jews had committed "deicide"—the killing of a god!—by refusing in great numbers to follow Jesus and, according to Christian myth, legend, and theology, agreeing to his crucifixion at the hands of the Roman authorities.

The Spanish Inquisition in the decades around 1500 saw the use of waterboarding torture, and the burning of Jews at the stake. Jews who refused to "convert" to Christianity were killed or driven from the country.

The Rise of Capitalism and the Enlightenment: The Impact on Jews...

The rise of the bourgeoisie and capitalism in Europe was accompanied by the Enlightenment—an ideological and political trend. In the economic base of society, as well as in the superstructure (the laws, customs, and thinking of people) these developments gave rise to seismic changes. These changes had great, and contradictory, impact on the status of Jews.

Speaking of the ideologists of the French Revolution, but applicable more broadly to the bourgeois-democratic revolution and the Enlightenment era, Frederick Engels wrote:

"The great men who in France were clearing men's minds for the coming revolution acted in an extremely revolutionary way themselves. They recognized no external authority of any kind. Religion, conceptions of nature, society, political systems—everything was subjected to the most unsparing criticism: everything had to justify its existence before the judgment-seat of reason or give up existence. The reasoning intellect became the sole measure of everything. It was the time when, as Hegel says, the world was stood on its head, first in the sense that the human head and the principles arrived at by its thinking claimed to be the basis of all human action and association; but then later also in the wider sense that the reality which was in contradiction with these principles was, in fact, turned upside down. Every previous form of society and state, every old traditional notion was flung into the lumber-room as irrational; the world had hitherto allowed itself to be led solely by prejudice; everything in the past deserved only pity and contempt. The light of day, the realm of reason, now appeared for the first time; henceforth superstition, injustice, privilege and oppression were to be superseded by eternal truth, eternal justice, equality based on nature, and the inalienable rights of man.

"We know today that this realm of reason was nothing more than the idealized realm of the bourgeoisie; that eternal justice found its realization in bourgeois justice; that equality reduced itself to bourgeois equality before the law; that bourgeois property was proclaimed as one of the most essential rights of man; and that the government of reason, Rousseau's social contract, came into being, and could only come into being, as a bourgeois-democratic republic. The great thinkers of the eighteenth century were no more able than their predecessors to go beyond the limits imposed on them by their own epoch." (Socialism: Utopian and Scientific)

As part of subjecting religion, conceptions of nature, society, and political systems "to the most unsparing criticism," irrational hatred and fear of Jews, the exclusion of Jews from economic, political, cultural, and intellectual life, and different forms of prejudice, persecution, and oppression came under attack. The bourgeois-democratic revolution that overthrew the French monarchy and nobility granted Jews full political rights. And the 1776 revolution in the U.S. against England institutionalized the separation of church and state.

Opposition to anti-Semitism arose along with other enlightened movements like those to abolish slavery and grant equality to women. All this was fiercely contested, both by pre-capitalist forces and institutions, and among different sections and trends in the bourgeoisie.

Within this explosion of social turmoil and intellectual ferment, there was a lessening of elements of centuries of oppression and marginalization of the Jewish people. And, Jews were active in all the economic, social, philosophical, and political movements of the time. The Jewish philosopher Spinoza identified places where the Bible and the Torah (essentially the first five books of the Bible adhered to by Judaism) are self-contradictory, and he did other rational studies that revealed that the Bible could not be the inerrant word of an all-knowing, all-powerful god who actively intervened in the lives of humans. For this, Spinoza was excommunicated by the Jewish religious authorities, and Protestant and Catholic authorities censored, burned, and banned his writings.

The capitalist system brought into being new forms of grinding exploitation and brutal oppression. Vast numbers of people who had suffered under feudal rule in the countryside were now violently and forcefully "freed" of their connection to the land, and driven and pulled into the slums and sweatshops of European cities. Through this, a new class of exploited people—the proletariat—emerged, an international class which owns nothing, yet has created and makes the modern, highly socialized means of production work. In some ways, the exclusion of Jewish people from wide areas of economic and political life in pre-capitalist societies in Eastern Europe facilitated their entry into new realms of economic and social life created by the rise of capitalism. In much of Eastern Europe (where the overwhelming majority of the world's Jews had lived for a thousand years), economic and social status was historically related to ownership of, or permission granted by the nobility to work the land. For hundreds of years, in these agrarian societies, legal and social prohibitions, persecution, and pogroms (mob violence against Jews) prevented or greatly restricted Jewish people from engaging in farming. They ended up concentrated in the cities where they acquired craft and other skills.

Locked out of many professions (like the military and civil services), many Jews ended up in professions like medicine, finance, and law. These professions rose in societal influence and prestige with the advance of capitalism and the decline of feudalism. Jewish traditions of literacy based in theological study and debate (among men at least) were advantageous in entering new arenas of intellectual and scientific inquiry.

And Jewish people were disproportionately represented in the radical and revolutionary movements of the time, including the communist movement for the abolition of all exploitation and oppression.

... and Ongoing Prejudice and Persecution

All this was intensely and wildly contradictory. As Engels summed up, the formal equality enshrined by the bourgeois-democratic revolutions and their ideologues actually covered up profound inequalities built into a system where the fundamental relations in society are grounded in the exploitation and oppression of the many by a relative handful. And where the drive of the capitalists to expand their profits/their capital dominates all of society and all the relations among people in society.

But even the fulfillment of the promise of formal equality was highly contested and uneven. The rise of capitalism emphasized the ideology of equality. In previous oppressive societies, people had their place in life defined by the social class, or religion, or the gender they were born into, and this was enforced in the realm of law, and in people's thinking. These ideas (and laws) were obstacles to the capitalist reorganization of society. And in the context of the promotion of formal equality, old customs, laws, and prejudices were subjected to criticism and in different ways knocked aside.

All this gave rise to all kinds of movements for equality. But as the bourgeoisie came to power, it often found it in its interests to limit or oppose demands for even formal equality—for women, for example.

And Christianity remained, for powerful sections of the ruling classes, an essential factor in legitimizing and maintaining (and enforcing) their rule. Leaders of the Protestant rebellion against the Catholic Church—expressing the outlook of the rising bourgeoisie in opposition to the absolute rule of kings, nobles, and the church hierarchy—challenged the authority of the Pope. At the same time, Martin Luther, the leader of this Protestant rebellion, wrote that Jews were a "base, whoring people." Luther advocated that Jewish synagogues and schools should be set on fire, Jewish prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. Luther wrote, of the Jews, "[W]e are at fault in not slaying them." (Luther, On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543)

In short, the profound changes in the economic foundation of society associated with the rise of capitalism gave rise to closely related changes in law, culture, and thinking. Jews found greater acceptance in commerce and cultural life. But at the same time, powerful countervailing trends erupted. In many realms the bourgeois revolutions were not able to, and did not, even complete the ruptures with feudal traditions and prejudices—traditions, institutions, and prejudices that they found useful and essential to maintaining social order and their class rule6. Further complicating the terrain was the fact that in much of Eastern and Southern Europe, feudal economic and social relations remained powerfully embedded in society. With the rise of capitalism in Europe, Jews both entered into broader society in unprecedented ways, and were the victims of periodic pogroms instigated directly or indirectly by the ruling classes.

Imperialism, World War 1, and the Rise of Hitler

The clash between openings for Jews and various forms of backlash and attacks on the status of Jewish people formed a tense contradiction. Both sides of this complex equation developed in intensity with the rise of imperialism in the late 1800s, and the spreading of capitalism into still semi-feudal Eastern Europe.

The earth-shaking changes ushered in by the emergence of capitalism in Europe loosened and challenged, but did not come close to uprooting traditional theocratic-based fear and hatred of Jews. And even as great changes took place in the political and social landscape of Europe in the 1800s, and early 1900s, powerful forces in European society—including elements of the Christian establishment, along with feudal and other reactionary forces—lashed back at these changes, and, as part of that, targeted the Jews.

Sections of people were periodically enlisted in spasms of anti-Semitic violence. Peasants locked out of any scientific understanding of the forces that were upending their lives had their desperation channeled away from the ruling classes and towards the Jews. Even in the most cosmopolitan countries—like Germany—anti-Semitic demagoguery had an appeal among sections of small business owners and shopkeepers who tended to be blinded by their social and economic positions to the actual mainsprings of capitalist society.

At times, the status of Jews, served as political flashpoints in contention within the ruling classes. The Dreyfus Affair that divided France in the late 1890s and early 1900s involved the framing of a Jewish officer in the French military on bogus treason charges. It was a move by reactionary sections of the French army and church to reassert influence that had been curtailed by the French revolution. Radical bourgeois-democratic forces in France, including the influential intellectual Emile Zola, rallied behind Dreyfus and he was exonerated. For sections of the French bourgeoisie, the Dreyfus Affair was a challenge, and an opportunity to strike at remnants of feudal influences and impediments to the rise of—as they saw it—"true equality."

The inexorable demand of capitalism to "expand or die," including the contention of different imperialist powers over colonial domination, exploded into World War 1, from 1914 to 1918. As the special issue of Revolution on Israel identified: "On one side were Britain, France, the U.S. and Russia. On the other stood Germany, and the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman (Turkish) empires. Neither side was fighting for any greater cause than a bigger share of the plunder. Sixteen million people died as the armies of contending imperialists slaughtered each other, and civilians, to determine which imperialists would expand and which would be crushed. In the course of that war, empires crashed to the ground—most importantly the vast Russian empire, where a socialist revolution emerged victorious. In other parts of the world, the old order collapsed but the victorious imperialists raced in with new forms of domination."

The horror and suffering of World War 1, along with the world's first successful socialist revolution in 1917, profoundly challenged—both in reality and in people's thinking—the permanence of the existing order. And this was as true in Germany as anywhere. In the short two decades between the end of the first World War, and the beginning of the second World War, Germany saw both an attempt at socialist revolution (that was crushed by the German ruling class with invaluable aid from reformist "socialists" in the government), and then the rise of Hitler with his fascist (extreme, overtly and violently repressive) program for German imperialism.

Post World War 1 Germany had offered tradition-breaking openings to Jews in economic, political, and cultural life. By the 1920s, Jews were as accepted and assimilated in Germany as they were anywhere in capitalist Europe. At the same time, and partly in reaction to these changes in the status of Jews, Germany was a hotbed of anti-Semitic resentment. This resentment was felt, and fostered by powerful sections of the ruling class who saw changes in post-war Germany as treasonous, and inimical (intolerable obstacles) to Germany rising to the top of the imperialist world order.

These reactionary forces could continue to pluck the strings of irrational fear and hatred of Jews that were deeply embedded in the culture. German Jews ended up—as they had in the Dreyfus Affair in France—as flashpoints in conflicts within German society. But this time with terrible results.

Hitler's Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

As the special issue on Israel briefly alludes to, the German ruling class turned to Hitler, and his fascist program in all its dimensions, at a time of great crisis for German imperialism. The point of situating the roots of the Holocaust in the traditions of European culture and politics is not to argue that Hitler's ferocious anti-Semitism and the Holocaust were simply extensions of traditional fears and hatred of Jews.

In re-cohering German society, Hitler did draw on a deep well of prejudice against Jews, and a long tradition of scapegoating Jews. But there were other factors that came together—in the situation faced by German imperialism, and in Hitler's ideology—that led to the Holocaust.

Germany had been on the losing side of World War 1, and was cut out of the international division of Africa, Asia and Latin America by European, U.S., and Japanese imperialism. In the immediate aftermath of World War 1, Germany was devastated militarily and economically.

Many Germans drew the conclusion was that the horrific imperialist war—responsible for the deaths of some ten million people—and the system that gave rise to it, had to go. There was great attraction to the model of the Bolshevik revolution in what became the Soviet Union. Others, including dominant sections of the ruling class, drew opposite conclusions: that the loss in the war was the result of weakness that had to be, and could only be overcome with more extreme nationalism and a return to a mythic and reactionary Germanic identity.

All these contradictions sharpened tremendously with the global Great Depression, which began in 1929. Germany's economy had developed very dynamically after World War 1, and politically, the post-war Weimar Republic was a period of relative tolerance (again, based on the bloody suppression of an attempt at socialist revolution). During the Weimar period, reactionary fascist forces who seethed at what they perceived as the "betrayal" of German national interests by "weak" forces in the ruling class provided the ground from which Hitler emerged. Even as Hitler and his program emerged, he and his movement were kept somewhat in abeyance by the German ruling class.

But with the severe depression that wracked the capitalist world in the 1930s, the balance of forces within the German ruling class moved towards Hitler and his fascist program. They shared Hitler's determination to end Germany's exclusion from colonial super-exploitation that was choking the ability of German capital to expand in the face of rivals like Britain and France. And they saw in him a populist demagogue capable of channeling desperation and outrage of sections of the masses into appeals to vitriolic nationalism.

An immediate result of Hitler's coming to power was the ruthless, violent crushing of Germany's large communist movement. After the defeat of the revolution in Germany in the aftermath of World War 1, communists had again developed great influence among the poorer sections of the German working class in particular. And Hitler went after them with a vengeance. In the famous words of German theologian Martin Niemoller, "First they came for the communists..."7

Hitler's Insane "Master Race" Theories

One significant dimension of Hitler's ideology and agenda was his adoption of, and taking to extremes, the pseudo-science (fake science) of Eugenics along with bizarre "master race" theories. Absurd as these theories were, they found a home among Germans who gravitated towards a mythology that whipped up and supposedly "rationalized" national chauvinism and the superiority of their nation when the status, and very coherence of that nation seemed to be in question. And these theories were adopted as the ideology of the Nazi state—to devastating effect.

Eugenics claimed that humanity could be improved by forced sterilization of people with real or perceived physical or mental conditions (which included, along with genuine medical and mental handicaps, categories like homosexuality and poverty). These theories had significant influence in the rest of the world, including the U.S. in the period leading up to the rise of Hitler. In the U.S., laws and policies were implemented in less extreme ways in the form of forced sterilization, for example, of prisoners in some parts of the U.S. And Eugenics theory merged with traditional racism in significant parts of the U.S.—especially the South—as a force behind the adoption of laws and policies enforcing sterilization of Black people and others.

To Hitler, much of what he saw as weakness in German society was a result of the "dilution" of not only German culture, but the Aryan gene pool by "degenerates" (like the handicapped, gays, and people suffering from alcoholism), as well as the "dilution" of the gene pool by non-Aryans—particularly the Jews. Eugenics theories, along with other unscientific schools of anthropology and other realms, formed part of the framework from which Hitler developed his "master race" theory.8

And again, regardless of the extent to which other leading members of the Nazi power structure and German ruling class actually believed these insane theories (and some did), they took on a "life of their own." A significant section of German people was mobilized behind this poisonous mythology that in turn invoked—and drew on—centuries of Christian anti-Semitism.

Hitler was not a "perfect fit" for German imperialism. German scientists working on nuclear weapons were handicapped by the exclusion of Jewish physicists and other scientists, as well as by ideological dictates that they not acknowledge the work of Jewish scientists like Einstein9. And Hitler's determination to exterminate the Jews factored into real divisions in the German ruling class over his whole program10. But Hitler's master race ideology, hyper-aggressive military policies, and brutally repressive domestic agenda—with its component of genocidal anti-Semitism, was overall adopted by the German ruling class as—if not a "perfect fit"—the perceived best solution to the situation they found themselves in.

Hitler's Obsession with "Judeo-Bolshevism"

The Jews in Germany posed—by their very existence—a challenge to Hitler's program of a tightly united German nation cohered by a mythology of an "Aryan master race." These theories provided a—profoundly false—"justification" for German expansionism, domination of other countries, and the driving out or crushing of supposedly "inferior races." Hitler's "master race" lunacy provided a core ideology for a movement that would crush internal dissent and embark on hyper-aggressive imperialist adventures.

Integrally mixed into all this was the relationship of Jews in World War 2 Europe to the communist revolution and the socialist Soviet Union.That relationship had different, complex, and contradictory components—including but not only in the political dimension. To Hitler, the threats to German imperialist interests from the Jews and the communist revolution were integrally intertwined.

Overall, Hitler's conflation of Jews and communism reflected some, secondary elements of reality—there was an attraction among Jewish people to progressive and radical causes including communism. But this was coupled with mountains of exaggeration, distortion and outright invention, all underpinned by insanity, as reflected in the "master race" theories.

But a) Hitler's program was seen as expeditious to dominant sections of the German ruling class (whether they themselves all believed all of Hitler's master-race and anti-Semitic theories or not); and b) the adoption of these theories and programs had terrible implications and led to horrific crimes—including the Holocaust.11

Needed: The Emancipation of Humanity, Not Zionism

A whole complex mix of political, ideological, and military factors converged to lead up to the great crime of the Holocaust. We have explored some of them here in expanding on the discussion in the special issue, and other factors are still beyond the scope of this article.

But the overall framing dynamic that set the stage for the Holocaust was the operation of global capitalism-imperialism. The Holocaust was not a pre-determined result of the workings of global imperialism, or even necessarily the only possible outcome of the situation confronting German imperialism. But it was a product of a whole series of policies adopted by the German imperialist ruling class in furtherance of their interests—both contention with their imperialist rivals, and their drive to crush the Soviet Union. Hitler's virulent anti-Semitism served the mission of cohering and enforcing unity on the German "home front" for a horrific war, and in particular the war against the Soviet Union that resulted in over 20 million deaths.

And as noted in our special issue on Israel, the U.S. and the "democratic West" remained mostly silent and restrained in response to the Holocaust while it was taking place, refusing entry to Jews fleeing Hitler, and shared the Nazis' determination to wipe the socialist Soviet Union off the map.

In this light, the Holocaust—a great crime of imperialism—in no way justifies Zionism, which, as our special issue makes clear, is another crime of imperialism.

The Palestinian people were not in any way responsible for the Holocaust. Their exile from their homeland through terrorist ethnic cleansing is utterly immoral and unjust, and cannot be defended by invoking the crimes of the Holocaust. Nor does the Holocaust in any way justify Israel's ongoing role as a global hitman for the same imperialist system that gave rise to the Holocaust.12

The solution to all oppression—in any form—cannot be achieved by a persecuted people turning on another oppressed people, as Zionism insists. Instead, as we pointed out in the special issue on Israel, "So long as imperialism exists, the majority of nations and peoples will be oppressed by a relative minority of dominant nations. It is important and valuable and just—in fact, it is absolutely necessary—that people stand up to that oppression, refuse to tolerate it, resist it, and work to abolish it. But if that turns into a fight for national rights at the expense of another people's rights, then it is not so fine—then it is on the road to very quickly becoming reactionary. The only way to be finally sure that there will be no more genocides, of any kind and against any people, is to abolish imperialism itself—to, yes, emancipate all humanity, and nothing less."

1. In two different articles in the special issue, the number of those killed in the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union was given in one article as 24 million, and in another article as 28 million. Both these figures, and numbers in between, and others in the same ballpark are given by historians and different sources as the death toll in that conflict. Conditions of a long, vicious war, with massive civilian casualties, and widespread deaths due to hunger, cold, and disease, among the population, along with a lack of today's level of sophisticated record keeping make it difficult to determine the exact numbers killed in that theater of World War 2, but all agree that the great majority of deaths in World War 2 in Europe were in the Soviet Union (see resources at wikipedia under "World_War_II_casualties.") [back]

2. See "Question: Does the Holocaust Justify the Dispossession of the Palestinian People?" [back]

3. The French surrender to the Nazis in World War 2, and Nazi expectations that Britain would capitulate as well, led the Nazis to anticipate "inheriting" and having access to France's extensive colonial empire. This formed a backdrop to the Nazi "Madagascar Plan," to deport the Jews of Europe to Madagascar—a French colony in Africa. [back]

4. See special issue of Revolution for documentation of the complicity of the U.S. in the Holocaust. [back]

5. Minor adjustments in these policies were made for some countries in Western Europe under Nazi domination, where there were small numbers of Jews, and where it was the assessment of Nazi diplomats and others that rounding up and killing all the Jews would have very negative consequences – this policy was applied in Norway, for example, but affected very small numbers of Jews. [back]

6. Even today, feudal and theocratic remnants like formal recognition of kings, queens, official state religions, and powerful "Christian Democratic" parties are integral to political life in modern Europe. [back]

7. See "Martin Niemoller and the Lessons for this Moment," by Toby O'Ryan, Revolution, Oct. 30, 2005, available at revcom.us. [back]

8. Today, evolution-deniers claim that Hitler's "theories" of racial superiority were derived from or rooted in Darwin's theory of evolution. The opposite is true–the theory, and reality, of evolution debunks theories of racial superiority. As Ardea Skybreak writes in her book The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters, "The main thing that evolution teaches us about race is that there is no such thing as truly distinct biological races of human beings!" (Insight Press, 2006, p. 166). What are called "races" are socially and culturally defined categories, with meaning in that sense, but not natural divisions of the human species. Throughout recent history, and down to the present day, oppressive forces have seized on what are actually fairly minor secondary characteristics of appearance like skin color, or the shape of the eyes, to create social categories of races—and on that basis to justify, and carry out, terrible oppression of whole peoples. For more on the actual nature of races, see "Evolution, Racist? No Way! The Creationist Big Lie," Revolution Feb. 15, 2009, available at revcom.us. [back]

9. Many German Jewish scientists were forced to flee Nazi Germany, and were welcomed by the U.S. – even as other German Jews fleeing Hitler were refused entry to the U.S. They were a factor in the U.S. developing the atomic bomb ahead of the Nazis. [back]

10. For example, Hitler's Secretary of State, Ernst von Weizsäcker, who claimed after the war that he had opposed Hitler, and who maintained some contacts at least with more actively pro-Western factions of the German military during the war, was not invited to the Wannsee Conference because Hitler's closest associates suspected he was not fully on board with the "final solution." [back]

11. For an in-depth and insightful exploration of the factors behind Hitler's anti-Semitism, and factors that led to the Holocaust, see Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? by Arno J. Mayer. [back]

12. See for example, "The U.S. ... Israel ... and Crimes Around the World," special issue of Revolution Oct. 4, 2010. [back]

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/538/the-bob-avakian-institute-program-series-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

The Bob Avakian Institute Program Series

At a time when the world cries out for a radical and fundamental alternative to the current order...

There is a NEW Communism...and this could change everything.

April 9, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Millions flee from country to country, drowning or shot down or starving as they run… genocides and the threat of genocide in every corner of the planet… the trajectory toward environmental destruction accelerates… and fascist regimes consolidate themselves all over the planet, including within the U.S. Even in the face of struggle and protest—the oppression of Black and other oppressed peoples, of women, of immigrants, of LGBTQ people intensifies, with threats of much, much worse.

The brave new world of globalization and "the end of history," the supposed triumph of a reformed capitalism with a human face, has brought us here—to the age of Trump and Pence. Yet there IS an alternative to the twin dead-ends of the outright fascism rising around the world and the "neoliberal" capitalism (or its more polite cousin "democratic socialism"), which both enforce the exploitative system of capitalism-imperialism.

Where there is oppression, there will be resistance—the masses of people will continually rise up against their conditions of oppression and those who enforce this oppression. But without the necessary scientific theory and leadership on that basis, the struggle of the oppressed will be contained, and remain confined, within the system which is the source of oppression, and the horrors to which the masses are subjected will go on, and on.

In the face of this huge need, the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian has brought forward a new synthesis of communism—a new communism. Bob Avakian is the most radical revolutionary on the planet—someone who has been leading struggle against this system and developing revolutionary theory, especially at key junctures, for nearly 50 years. This new communism represents and embodies the scientific understanding and approach the masses of the oppressed need to make the revolution they need—a revolution whose ultimate goal is a communist world—to emancipate themselves and ultimately humanity as a whole.

As Bob Avakian himself has emphasized, the new synthesis of communism—

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

ANNOUNCING A SERIES OF MAJOR PROGRAMS ON THE NEW COMMUNISM

Beginning this Fall and extending through the Winter, The Bob Avakian Institute will sponsor major programs on this new communism. We are inviting people from all viewpoints who have engaged Bob Avakian's work to submit papers or apply to be discussants on the topics below. The sole requirement is serious, honest engagement with this work.

Some of the topics we intend to focus on include:

At a Time When the Very Notion of Objective Truth Is Under Attack from Both Right and Post-modern "Left"… How Do We Know What Is True and Why Does It Matter?

Even among the most progressive, the framework of "standpoint epistemology"—the assumption that truth is determined differently for each individual or specific oppressed grouping and that analysis of the overall and most determining dynamics of society is "totalizing," oppressive, and necessarily too incomplete to be accurate—holds sway. The new communism by contrast maintains that it is both necessary and possible to make an objective scientific analysis of any given society—the main dynamics that drive it forward, the relations between different contradictions within a society, and, most crucially, the underlying and most determining causes of oppression and the path to emancipation.

In waging this struggle, Bob Avakian has upheld and carried forward the gist of Marx's scientific breakthrough, but he has also ruptured in significant ways with problems of past communist methodology, including positivism and empiricism, religiosity and teleology, and reification of oppressed groups (including the notion that specific forms of consciousness are inherent in specific social groups and the individual members of those groups). In particular, he has radically advanced what the search for truth has to do with getting free, to a world beyond "might is right," beyond antagonistic social divisions, oppression and exploitation. All of these dimensions will be explored.

Can the Problems That Plague Humanity Today Be Solved Through Reform of Capitalism? Or Is Revolution Necessary?

Is there something intrinsic to capitalism that not only gives rise to horrors like the threat of nuclear war, the plunder of the environment, the systematic oppression of whole nations, nationalities and "races," gender oppression, and the worldwide persecution of immigrants and refugees, but also makes their elimination impossible within that system? Or can reforms fundamentally solve these problems? Bob Avakian has taken the pathbreaking insights of Marx and Engels on this further. Avakian's analysis of the compulsive dynamics of the capitalist mode of production, as well as how it relates to relatively discrete and historically evolved social contradictions, such as the oppression of women and the oppression of minority nationalities, marks a leap beyond previous communist theory and experience—both in analysis of these interconnected relations, the problem, and the solution, what it will take in revolutionary processes to get beyond all of them.

In a highly integrated world, how is communist revolution a world process, and what is the relation between (and contradictions inherent in) making revolution and advancing socialism in one country, overcoming exploitation, inequalities and oppression, and at the same time supporting revolution worldwide? In a country like the U.S., atop "the international food chain," how does communist revolution help break down the lopsidedness between the "first" world of imperialist countries and the "third" world of oppressed nations? The new communism carries further and in crucial ways breaks with previous conceptions and experiences.

Can There Be a Society On the Road to Eliminating Exploitation, Social Inequalities, and Oppression Which Also Has an Unprecedented Level of Dissent, Debate, and Experimentation?

Even the best of the previous socialist revolutions did not fully have the right synthesis of these two great needs of what would be a society truly on that road. Bob Avakian's Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, an application of the new communism, poses not just a thought-through and affirmative answer to this—but a real breakthrough. It is the concretization of over 40 years of work on this problem. What social contradictions does this Constitution address, how does it do this, and does it provide—as stated—the visionary and concrete blueprint for a transition to a world without the oppression of one section of people by another? As a critical component of this: Avakian's concept of "the solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core."

Is a Real Revolution—the Seizure of State Power—Possible Within the U.S.? Is It Desirable?

The dream of revolution that animated the most advanced political movements of the 1960s is now widely thought to be impossible. The argument, in brief, is that the powers-that-be are too strong, the middle class is too well-off, and the people most directly in need of such a revolution, who should be inclined in that direction, are caught up in other things right now and would be isolated and outnumbered even if they were to want to act. There is a further argument that any such revolution leads to disaster in the form of revolutionaries going off-track, including becoming oppressors themselves in the course of fighting this system. Bob Avakian has developed deeply considered and scientific answers to these questions.

On the Absolute Necessity for—and Problems Inherent In—Leadership: What Is To Be Done?

A leaderless social movement is possible, but the much-touted leaderless revolution is impossible. Yet successful revolutions have been defeated, such as in China and the Soviet Union, with sections of leadership "going bad." Why does this happen, and how should we deal with this? Why do you even need leadership, what is communist leadership, and what is the right way to conceive the relationship between leaders and led, a thorny contradiction for this era? Avakian's new communism comprehends a different synthesis and conception than in the past revolutions, charting a different process towards communism.

* * *

Bob Avakian's new communism is based on nearly 50 years of theoretical work and participation and leadership in the struggle for revolution. This new communism provides answers to the questions above and a framework for further exploration. Given the centrality of those answers to the fate of humanity, this new synthesis needs to be engaged, discussed and debated. We invite you to be part of doing so.

First program: Fall 2018, New York

 

If you are interested in submitting a paper or abstract, but have not yet read Avakian's work, we suggest The New Communism—The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation. Go here for suggested readings on the topics above.

 

To submit a paper or abstract for consideration, or for more information, write to programs@TheBobAvakianInstitute.org

Advisory Board in formation. if you are interested in volunteering for the Program Committee write to programs@TheBobAvakianInstitute.org

 

The Bob Avakian Institute is a nonprofit institute organized for educational purposes. Its mission is to preserve, project, and promote the works and vision of Bob Avakian with the aim of reaching the broadest possible audience.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/american-crime-case-43-the-US-invasion-of-panama-1989-1990-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

American Crime

Case #43: The U.S. Invasion of Panama, 1989-1990

April 23, 2018 | 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.

 

THE CRIME:

On December 20, 1989, the U.S. military invaded Panama with 27,684 troops and 300 aircraft, killing thousands of civilians and removing Manuel Noriega and his Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) from power. The invasion was given the name of “Operation Just Cause” by U.S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.

The lead-up to the invasion happened during the Ronald Reagan presidency (1981-1989), while the invasion itself was planned and occurred during the first year of the presidency of George H.W. Bush (Bush Sr.).

In 1986, it was revealed that Noriega had ties to Colombian drug interests, and he was linked to drug trafficking and money laundering. Further, he was providing intelligence information simultaneously to Cuba and the U.S.1

Reagan instituted economic and military measures against Noriega as a way to have him removed from power, but despite wanting to send troops to remove Noriega from power, he never did. By cutting economic aid to Noriega, Reagan created an economic crisis, including food shortages and widespread hunger among poorer Panamanians.

By mid-1988, middle class Panamanians who supported the U.S. and were backers of Noriega began to turn against him as the Panamanian economy fell apart and the banking system was in shambles. Black and impoverished Panamanians suffered the most from the U.S.-imposed economic measures, but there was a section of those people who supported Noriega because he was a mestizo (mixed race) who came from their impoverished neighborhood. Noriega’s main support came from the military forces of the PDF and small shopkeepers. Noriega’s determination to remain in power made him more hostile towards the U.S.

After Bush became president, Noriega stole an election in May 1989 from Guillermo Endara, who was backed by the U.S. Bush began to ramp up troop levels in and around Panama. (The U.S. had approximately 18 military installations inside Panama in 1989.) Then in October, an attempted coup against Noriega, which the U.S. supported but did not militarily back, failed.

On December 16, a U.S. Marine lieutenant was shot and killed. The Bush administration claimed Noriega’s forces were responsible and ordered the U.S. National Command Authority to execute “Operation Just Cause.”

The U.S. invasion began with an overwhelming ground force and unchallenged air superiority. Its goal: destroying Noriega’s military forces, capturing Noriega, and terrorizing the community where Noriega had his strongest support

Stealth bombers, which had never been used before in combat, dropped 2,000-lb bombs.

The Central American Human Rights Commission (CODEHUCA) reported, “The most devastated civilian neighborhoods—such as Chorrillos and San Miguelito—were extremely poor, densely populated areas. Half of the neighborhood of Chorrillos—which had a pre-invasion population of approximately 25,000—was literally destroyed by US troops and civilian residents were victims of direct attacks.”2

The headquarters of Noriega and the PDF was situated next to the impoverished Chorillos neighborhood, Noriega’s hometown. The destruction of that neighborhood included destroying Noriega’s forces and was meant to eliminate any support for Noriega from the people of Chorillos.

U.S. troops set buildings on fire and executed people in the streets. In the Academy Award–winning documentary The Panama Deception, a witness says, “The North Americans began burning down El Chorrillo at about 6:30 in the morning. They would throw a small device into a house and it would catch on fire. They would burn a house, and then move to another and begin the process all over again. They burned from one street to the next. They coordinated the burning through walkie-talkies.” Witnesses recounted U.S. soldiers setting residential buildings on fire. Video footage shows the charred remains of rows of housing complexes in El Chorrillo.3

Author William Blum reported that “...people burning to death in the incinerated dwellings, leaping from windows, running in panic through the streets, cut down in cross fire, crushed by tanks, human fragments everywhere.”4

The devastation of the El Chorrillo neighborhood, a residential area the size of ten city blocks, was so complete that not one single structure was left standing. Those who were not killed and lived in El Chorrillo called it “Guernica” or “Little Hiroshima.”

Panamanians interviewed by CODEHUCA testified to the horrors of the invasion:

[W]e saw from our window a group of approximately 18 soldiers coming down the street, and saw them entering each house. We saw the residents coming out, followed by the soldiers, and then we saw the houses, one by one, go up in smoke. The US soldiers were burning the houses. We saw people trapped in their apartments, because they lived on the second floors of these wooden houses. (COHEHUCA Doc. #7)

[W]e saw a pile of bodies, both dead and wounded, piled all together on top of each other. We thought that they were all dead until we saw some of them moving. We saw some of them with their heads smashed open. We saw others that were totally crushed and I think that tanks had passed right over these people because they were so crushed. (CODEHUCA Doc. #7)

Every day, truckloads were taking bodies to the common graves. In the morning and in the afternoon, I saw US troops driving US trucks taking 50 bodies—each trip—to be buried.... (CODEHUCA Doc #24)

Shortly after the invasion ended, bulldozers excavated mass graves and shoveled in the bodies. “Buried like dogs,” said the mother of one of the civilian dead.5

During and after the invasion, the U.S. military enforced repressive actions against the Panamanian population which included:

* Illegal detentions of thousands of civilians.

* Illegal searches and seizures of unions, churches, government offices, opposition political parties, human rights groups and embassies of other countries.

* Unauthorized and illegal dismissals of more than 10,000 Panamanians from their jobs in the private and public sectors.6

In its brutal invasion of Panama, the U.S. military used a number of sophisticated weapons for the first time in combat—this against an unarmed civilian population. Thousands were killed, and whole neighborhoods were destroyed. Human remains were incinerated and dumped into mass graves, thus making the full death toll unknown.

It has been estimated that 3,000-6,000 Panamanians lost their lives. Foreign journalists were also killed in the invasion.

THE CRIMINALS:

President George H.W. Bush (Bush Sr.) was the president when the U.S. government planned and ordered the invasion. The New York Times reported that Bush said, ‘‘Let’s do it,” and that “[H]e also felt that the Panamanian leader, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, ‘was thumbing his nose at him.’ The President felt that General Noriega was getting more and more abusive and that at some point he would have to be dealt with...”7

Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense, and Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, oversaw “Operation Just Cause” from Washington, DC. Cheney had drafted the plan and it was refined and “significantly improved” by Powell following the October 3 coup attempt that failed to oust Noriega.8

They were responsible for having the Defense Department experiment with a new “super-weapon” during the invasion—the Lockheed F-117A stealth ground attack aircraft that delivers a 2,000-pound bomb with “pinpoint accuracy.”

Powell wrote in My American Journey that they settled on the name of the invasion “Operation Just Cause” because “Along with the inspirational ring, I liked something else about it. Even our severest critics would have to utter ‘Just Cause’ while denouncing us.”9

The U.S. media were cheerleaders for the invasion and complicit in the cover up of its crimes. Fairness  & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) reported, “Few TV reporters seemed to notice that the jubilant Panamanians parading before their cameras day after day to endorse the invasion spoke near-perfect English and were overwhelmingly light-skinned and well-dressed. This in a Spanish-speaking country with a largely mestizo and black population where poverty is widespread.”10

FAIR reports that “In the first days of the invasion, TV journalists had one overriding obsession: How many American soldiers have died? The question, repeated with drumbeat regularity, tended to drown out the other issues: Panamanian casualties, international law, foreign reaction.”

Ted Koppel of ABC’s Nightline told his audience, “Noriega’s reputation as a brutal drug-dealing bully who reveled in his public contempt for the United States all but begged for strong retribution” (December 20, 1989).11

The Panama Deception showed how the mainstream media uncritically adopted U.S. government propaganda about the invasion. The film exposes what the media refused to: the lies and distortions, the hypocrisy, the dead bodies, the survivors’ harrowing tales, and the complete impunity of the U.S. military in suppressing the truth.

THE ALIBI:

George H.W. Bush gave four reasons for the invasion in his address the day the invasion started:

The goals of the United States have been to safeguard the lives of Americans, to defend democracy in Panama, to combat drug trafficking and to protect the integrity of the Panama Canal Treaty [the Torrijos—Carter Treaties]. Many attempts have been made to resolve this crisis through diplomacy and negotiations. All were rejected by the dictator of Panama, Gen. Manuel Noriega, an indicted drug trafficker...[The] forces under his command shot and killed an unarmed American serviceman, wounded another, arrested and brutally beat a third American serviceman and then brutally interrogated his wife, threatening her with sexual abuse. That was enough.

General Noriega’s reckless threats and attacks upon Americans in Panama created an eminent danger to the 35,000 American citizens in Panama. As President, I have no higher obligation than to safeguard the lives of American citizens.12

The next day Bush said, “Our efforts to support the democratic processes in Panama and to ensure continued safety of American citizens is now moving into its second day.’”13

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE:

In reality, Bush knew that there was no concerted effort by Noriega to endanger U.S. citizens in Panama.

And he knew that Noriega had been involved in “drug trafficking”—on behalf of the U.S.! Noriega had been a CIA operative since 1967, providing the U.S. with valuable information about Cuba and anti-U.S. movements in Latin America. The U.S. knew of and made use of Noriega’s drug dealing. Under Reagan, the CIA paid Noriega $200,000 per year14 to allow the U.S. to ship weapons purchased in Poland through Panama into Nicaragua to the U.S.-backed Contras (armed right-wing groups), who were fighting the Sandinista government.15 The CIA paid for the weapons by trafficking cocaine—the “drugs-for-guns” trade that Noriega was a part of.

So these were pretexts to hide Bush’s real agenda: U.S. control of the Panama Canal in service of its imperialist domination of Latin America, its global dominance, and the “New World Order” Bush was attempting to hammer into place as the Soviet Union was falling. By 1989, the U.S. rulers felt Noriega had become unreliable and that his belligerence threatened these interests, particularly when administrative control of the Panama Canal was formally being shifted from the U.S. to Panama.

Even before the canal, Panama was of enormous geopolitical, economic and strategic military significance for the U.S. as it became a global power in the late 1800s. Then after the Panama Canal was built, the U.S. interest in this small strip of land focused on the strategic importance of the canal. “The Canal was crucial to U.S. global operations—its capitalist penetration of Latin America and Asia, and its ability to shift its military forces aggressively around the world.”16 (see the Revolution article “The U.S. Invasion of Panama 1989: The Injustice of ‘Operation Just Cause’”). Further, Panama provided the U.S. with military bases from which they could launch any military incursions into other countries in Latin America.

The Revolution article also pointed out:

In the 1970s, faced with defeat in Vietnam and growing challenges from its Soviet rivals, the U.S. ruling class decided to change how they exercised control over the Panama Canal Zone—from direct U.S. colonial control, to control through the Panamanian neocolonial government.

As that changeover approached, Noriega looked less and less like the man-for-the-job...[The invasion] represented a tightening of the U.S. grip on Panama and all of Latin America. It was one of the first new global moves (after the collapse of the Soviet Union) to push forward the U.S. as the world’s “only superpower”...17

The importance of Panama and the Panama Canal to the U.S. cannot be overstated. Controlling passage through the canal and being able to have military bases in that region in 1989 was a very high priority for the U.S. The Bush regime could not allow a belligerent leader in Panama with the canal’s administrative changeover to Panama only 10 years away.

The invasion of Panama with its brutality and overwhelming force, was a precursor for other U.S. invasions yet to come. On September 11, 1990, George H.W. Bush told Congress that the U.S. was going to implement a “New World Order,” under which the U.S. would use its brute force to enforce its role as the only superpower in the world. Next up was removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq. A few months after Bush’s speech, the U.S. invaded Iraq, killing and wounding “at least 100,000 Iraqis” in a six week period.18


Selected Bibliography

Blum, William, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II—Updated Through 2003, Common Courage Press, 2008.

“Central American Human Rights Commission (CODEHUCA) Panama Delegation Report to Peacenet”

Chomsky, Noam, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Odonian Press, 1992, the section on The Invasion of Panama.

“How Television Sold the Panama Invasion” by Jeff Cohen and Mark Cook, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.

Musicant, Ivan, The Banana Wars: A History of the United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990.

“The 25th Anniversary of the Invasion of Panama” by Joseph Palermo, Huffington Post, February 18, 2015.

The Panama Deception, Director: Barbara Trent, Writer and Editor: David Kasper, Narrator: Elizabeth Montgomery, Released: Empowerment Project, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A Rhino Home Video Release, 1992.

The U.S. Invasion of Panama 1989: The Injustice of “Operation Just CauseRevolution #017, October 9, 2005.

“United States Invasion of Panama” from Wikipedia

 


1. Panama Strongman Said to Trade in Drugs, Arms and Illicit Money,” Seymour Hersh, June 12, 1986, New York Times. [back]

2. Central American Human Rights Commission (CODEHUCA) Panama Delegation Report to Peacenet, (The CODEHUCA report states, “The US invasion of Panama has been presented by the US government and the international media as a surgical strike that toppled the Manuel Noriega regime with minimal human and material cost. This report, prepared by a joint delegation of the Central American Human Rights Commission (CODEHUCA) and the Panamanian Human Rights Commission (CONADEHUPA), is based on testimonies and interviews collected on a recent fact-finding visit to Panama. It reveals that the reality of the Panamanian invasion, and the conditions under which the Panamanians now live, is fundamentally different from the image presented to the international community.” [back]

3. The Panama Deception, documentary film by the Empowerment Project, 1992, narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery and winner of the 1993 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. “The Panama Deception documents the untold story of the December 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama; the events which led to it; the excessive force used; the enormity of the death and destruction; and the devastating aftermath. The Panama Deception uncovers the real reasons for this internationally condemned attack, presenting a view of the invasion which widely differs from that portrayed by the U.S. media and exposes how the U.S. government and the mainstream media suppressed information about this foreign policy disaster.” The film asserts that the U.S. government invaded Panama primarily to destroy the PDF, the Panamanian Defense Forces, who were perceived as a threat to U.S. control over Panama, and to install a U.S.-approved government. The film includes footage of mass graves uncovered after the U.S. troops had withdrawn, burned down neighborhoods, as well as depictions of some of the 20,000 refugees who fled the fighting” (from the Empowerment Project). [back]

4. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II – Updated Through 2003, William Blum, Common Courage Press, 2008. [back]

5. How Our 1989 Invasion of Panama Explains the Current US Foreign Policy Mess,” Mother Jones, December 23, 2014. [back]

6. CODEHUDCA Report. [back]

7. Fighting in Panama: The President; A Sense of Inevitability In Bush's Decision to Act,” New York Times, December 24, 1989. [back]

8. “U.S. in No Hurry to Quit Panama,” by Thom Shanker and Timothy J. McNulty, Chicago Tribune, December 22, 1989. [back]

9. How the 1989 War on Manuel Noriega’s Panama Super-Charged US Militarism,” Nation, May 30, 2017. [back]

10. “How Television Sold the Panama Invasion”, FAIR.org. [back]

11. John Chancellor, commenting approvingly upon hearing only nine U.S. soldiers had died: “We lose numbers like that in large training exercises.” (NBC, 12/20/89) CNN anchor Ralph Wenge, interviewing a former U.S. military commander, said: “Noriega asked for this. President Bush listed all the things Noriega had done to force him to take action. Why does Noriega do these things?” (12/21/89). Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather all said similar things. [back]

12. “Fighting in Panama: The President,” New York Times, 12/21/89. [back]

13. “How Our 1989 Invasion of Panama Explains the Current US Foreign Policy Mess”, Mother Jones, December 23, 2014. [back]

14. “United States invasion of Panama“, Wikipedia. [back]

15. Musicant, Ivan, The Banana Wars: A History of the United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama,  Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990, p. 391. [back]

16. “The U.S. Invasion of Panama 1989: The Injustice of ‘Operation Just Cause,’” Revolution, October 9, 2005. [back]

17. Ibid. [back]

18. “Tens of Thousands of Iraqi Soldiers' Bodies Left Behind : Casualties: Body count is practically impossible with victims in tanks, bunkers and roadside ditches”, by James Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1991. [back]

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/awtwns-the-political-execution-of-lula-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

From A World to Win News Service:

The Political Execution of Lula and the Shadow of Fascism Falling Across Brazil

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

April 18, 2018. A World to Win News Service. Lula (Luiz Ignacio da Silva), the Brazilian ex-head of state U.S. President Obama once called “the most popular politician on Earth,” is now in prison serving a 12-year sentence for accepting the renovation of an ocean-front apartment placed at his disposal by a contractor.

The federal facility where Lula is now entombed bears a plaque commemorating the day when, as president from 2003 to 2011, he inaugurated it. Like any inmate, his access will be limited to family visits on Thursdays and consultations with his lawyers. Lula had generally been expected to easily win the upcoming October presidential elections on the ticket of the Workers Party (PT) [Partido dos Trabalhadores], which identifies itself as “democratic socialist.”1 Now it is considered very unlikely that he will even be allowed to run.

This is far from the first time a Brazilian politician has been jailed for corruption. But it’s not just more of the same of the country’s usual rough-and-tumble political manoeuvring. For Lula is not just the country’s most popular politician by far, especially among the lower classes, but also a symbol of their hopes for change—and his imprisonment is bound up with aggressive attempts by an amalgam of rising fascist forces to crush these hopes and usher in a much more reactionary order.

Two crucial lessons can be drawn from this episode: first, Lula and the Workers Party (PT) he represents were arguably the leading showcase of what militant social democracy can achieve when it forms a government in today’s world. The humiliating turn of events with Lula’s imprisonment following 13 years of PT governance during which, despite some limited and temporary success with the redistribution of income, overall saw a continuation of intolerable conditions of life for the great majority of Brazil’s oppressed, not least in its notorious urban shantytowns, the favelas, where police murder people with unrivalled impunity—in 2016, 4,224 people (according to the 11th Annual Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security), nearly four times the number killed by police in the U.S., even though Brazil’s population is one-third smaller. A generation of reactionary governance by social democracy was one of the key ingredients in the rise of the fascist forces that have increasingly set the terms in the country’s political life.

Second, anyone who holds out hope that mainstream social democrats will lead a fight to stop the rise of fascists in their own country needs to take a long, hard look at this episode. If Lula and the PT, despite substantial continuing popularity, accepted his imprisonment like this do you really think social democrats anywhere else will do any better?! The problem lies not in any personal flaws in Lula, but in the character of social democracy itself. This article will examine these two points in more depth.

The severity of Lula’s sentence in comparison to the banality of his alleged crime is all the more remarkable in a country where the current president and his party have escaped prosecution for far more serious charges, backed by ample evidence. This political execution was demanded by a broad section of the ruling class as reflected in the media owned by its handful of leading families, and, under their baton, a significant section of the traditional middle classes. Whatever the various political agendas behind it, this step opens the way for the advance of naked fascism and has awakened frightful memories of the way a military junta ruled the country from 1964 to 1985.2

“Tropical Trump” Bolsonaro’s Plan to Merge Fascist Dictatorship with Imposition of Christian “Traditional Values”

After keeping a low profile in the decades since the junta, the generals have stepped up their public interventions recently. The commander of the army reserves warned that the army would move in if Lula were allowed to remain free and win the elections. This stepped-up intervention by the military is linked to the rise of broader fascist forces in the country. One of the most prominent of their political representatives is Jair Bolsonaro, a former army officer who considers himself the junta’s political heir, recently baptised in the Jordan River and now born again in alliance with Brazil’s evangelicals. Pentecostals and other Christian fundamentalists who believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible have captured a quarter of Brazil’s 210 million population. Their proselytism and emphasis on personal conversion have made them more able to politically mobilize millions of people on a grass roots level than the equally reactionary Catholic Church that until a few decades ago claimed hegemony over Brazilian minds.

Bolsonaro, called “the Tropical Trump” by the Guardian, is far from the only prominent politician in this mould, but with Lula out of the way, he is touted as a frontrunner in the upcoming elections. He embodies the extremely dangerous intersection of generals and preachers with an organized mass following eager for war against what they consider the permissiveness that has taken hold of Brazil over the last decades. Even if he doesn’t win the elections still six months in the future, his sudden and unexpected advance, winning respectability and far more broad support than other, more traditional reactionary politicians these days, signals an upheaval in the political landscape.

Bolsonaro brags that after decades in the political wilderness he has restored the respectability of right-wing views unspoken for many years because of their association with the hated junta. He flagrantly proclaims his admiration for the general considered the most bloodthirsty of all the members of the junta that murdered hundreds of people, drove many thousands into exile and extinguished the cultural and intellectual scene that was Brazil’s gift to the world.

What Bolsonaro advocates goes beyond the replacement of parliamentary democracy by a form of political rule based on open terrorism against the people. He wants this political “revolution,” as he calls it, to bring about an equally radical imposition of the traditional values that have lost some of their hold since the days of the junta. This has happened, in large part, because of the changes in the economic and social structure of Brazilian society brought about by the country’s development since then as part of developments in the world as a whole. Bolsonaro represents a qualitative ratcheting up of the traditional ideological values that have held together Brazil’s exploitative and oppressive society and are a key part of what gives the ruling classes anywhere the legitimacy and authority that no form of rule can long survive without.

Above all, this means what Bolsonaro calls “family values”—the enforcement of the oppression of women and other forms of oppression associated with that, especially what reactionaries everywhere call “gender ideology” (the idea that traditional male and female social roles are not inherent in biology). Much of his violent discourse is aimed at LGBT people—he infamously said that he would prefer to see any son of his dead rather than “come home with some guy with a moustache.” This extends, however, to women as a whole. In parliament, he opposed the passage of more serious penalties against rape. When a fellow parliamentarian accused him of encouraging rape, he replied that she was “too ugly” to “deserve” being raped by him.

The prohibition of abortion is central to Bolsonaro’s platform. This issue came to the centre in Brazilian politics a few years ago, when the Catholic Church excommunicated medical personnel for performing an abortion on a nine-year-old Brazilian girl pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather. (Her mother was also excommunicated for complicity in the abortion. The stepfather, while jailed, was deemed to have committed a lesser sin and allowed to remain in the Church.)

Current Brazilian law allows abortion only in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the mother. Until recently, many people expected those restrictions would soon be removed. Christian fundamentalists like Bolsonaro consider even these limited exemptions a threat to a social order based on God’s will that must be restored.

Bolsonaro also attacks the political stirrings among formerly totally marginalized people in the favelas and the countryside. In reaction to new demands to end colour-based discrimination, he said people in black communities were too lazy to "do anything, even bother to procreate." Like Bolsonaro’s views of women, these rantings have a political programme. Earlier this year, the military was sent in to take over “security” in Sao Paulo. Military police and soldiers have conducted operations to take over one after another of the mountainside favelas that ring the city. In January alone, they killed at least 154 people, many of them black. Military officials have complained that they can’t do their job without guarantees they won’t be subject to civilian justice some day, as happened after the end of the junta. Bolsonaro proposes to legalize the murder and torture at the hands of the security forces that are already extremely widespread—to go from covering them up to making them the official order of the day.

How Have Lula and His Party Reacted?

A judge ordered Lula to surrender to the authorities immediately, even though the process of appealing his conviction is far from exhausted. Instead, he took refuge in the São Paulo union headquarters where he began his career as an organizer before the founding of the Workers’ Party (PT) that eventually came to power under his leadership. 

Although tens of thousands of supporters gathered to protect Lula from the authorities, they found themselves playing a different role, begging him not to give himself up and even twice blocking his car to prevent him from leaving. Finally he walked through their lines and boarded another car, beginning a journey to the city of Curitiba, where police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse still more protesters lining the streets and in front of the prison. As many as 1,500 people a day are joining a vigil in the surrounding streets. Many plan to camp out there indefinitely.

Why did Lula and his party decide on this course of action, rather than defy the fascist forces, call out their illegitimacy even under the rules of Brazilian law, expose their horrific goals and unleash his supporters eager to stage massive resistance in the streets and force all the sections of the ruling class to soberly consider the consequences of an explosive political situation?

Lula explained that he wanted to show that no one, even him, is above the rule of law. But the rule of law the PT considers sacred has never been neutral. It reflects and perpetuates an inherently exploitative and oppressive economic and social system. In surrendering, Lula led people away from doing what is most urgently needed: to stand up and defeat fascist moves to take over the state apparatus and wield it to bring about a catastrophic change—the replacement of today’s form of rule by an undisguised, terror-based, unbridled fascism.

Lula’s defenders, critical and otherwise, argue that by refusing to give the armed forces an excuse to stage a coup, he acted to save electoral democracy in Brazil. Yet the workings of the courts and parliament served to bring down Lula’s successor from the PT, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president from 2011 to 2016, who was impeached, and now, by jailing Lula, thwart the PT’s hopes for a comeback through an electoral process that is instead providing a platform for the views of Bolsonaro and his ilk and allowing them to claim they represent the will of the people. The terrible irony is that the PT’s reactionary opponents have not flinched at defying judicial rulings when it suits them, while also using the courts and the electoral system as fronts on which to fight for their fascist goals.

The PT and its defenders use the term “soft” coup d’état to describe the sequence of events that began with the impeachment of President Rousseff and led to the jailing of Lula. If that’s true, why hasn’t the PT more seriously resisted it? The state’s repressive power can’t be the only reason, since the ruling class must consider the political consequences that the unrestrained use of that power could bring. Further, while a considerable section of Brazil’s ruling classes have turned against the PT and many support Bolsonaro, the PT was able to win acceptance from broad sections of ruling class forces in the past.  The starting point for the PT project is to work within the electoral system of bourgeois democracy, in reality a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, the ruling class representing a capitalist system whose workings define what is possible for the lives of the people and even the exploiters themselves. This requires that the PT confine themselves to what that system defines as acceptable politics even when major parts of that ruling class are moving toward an open dictatorship based on undisguised terror, abolishing established rights, openly labelling sections of the people undesirable and unleashing soldiers and religious fanatics against them. This is fascism, with all its Brazilian specificities, but fascism just the same. 

Staying Within the Boundaries of Bourgeois Democracy Leads to Surrender to Fascism

Lula’s surrender to the authorities encapsulates the role he and his party have played since the beginning as loyal participants in the country’s political system. His supporters’ slogan, “Elections without Lula are a fraud,” has some truth to it, insofar as removing the only truly popular candidate risks revealing to many millions of people a truth that is usually hidden: that the ruling class sets the terms for and manipulates the electoral process and decides what’s permissible. But what about the elections that Lula and the PT took part in, drawing people into the system’s machinery by raising hopes that were never anything but an illusion?

By channelling popular discontent into elections, the PT played an important role in shoring up the legitimacy of the Brazilian state following decades of rule by the hated military junta. The party’s supporters grew to include sections of the urban middle classes and people in the favelas around Rio, São Paulo and other cities, many of them, like Lula, immigrants from the country’s extremely impoverished, deeply oppressive backlands whose cheap labour has been at the heart of the Brazilian “miracle” from which they have been largely excluded—the explosion of wealth produced by environmentally disastrous enormous soy farms and cane fields, cattle ranches often built on stolen land, manufacturing in foreign-owned firms and construction. 

As a Brazilian economics professor explains, when Lula ran for president for the first time in 1989, he made a promise—one that he was to keep—to maintain “the main economic guidelines of his predecessor: a primary fiscal surplus goal, a low inflation target and a flexible exchange rate.” However, Lula significantly expanded spending on fiscal transfers to the relatively poor, and extended previous social programmes, broadening their coverage. The Bolsa Familia program [under which families were given cash in return for keeping children in school and attending preventive health care visits] was held up as a global example, touted by the World Bank as a “‘quiet revolution’ that significantly reduced poverty.” (Matías Vernengo, “Goodbye Lula?” nacla.org) These welfare payments were made possible by a booming international market for the exports on which Brazil’s economy depends, especially oil and agricultural commodities.

But the country’s economic independence, a precondition for the people’s ability to liberate themselves as part of emancipating all humanity from the global imperialist system and all forms of oppression, is impossible without the revolutionary transformation of every aspect of life in Brazil. Instead, the PT policies made the country more dependent on the global market and international investment. That made it even more vulnerable to the 2008 global financial crisis and subsequent downturn in commodity prices. In 2013 the PT government was hit by widespread protests against public transport prices so high that they often kept people imprisoned in favelas and other neighbourhoods, and found itself unleashing harsh repression.

Lula’s surrender is consistent with what he and his party have represented all along. Whatever their initial apparent successes, this appeasement of the military and far right, and their insistence on keeping the struggle within the limits of what the ruling class will allow, along with the disillusionment in electoral politics that their broken promises, brokered politics and corruption helped produce, have greatly aided the rise of fascists who promise to put an end to “politics as usual” by replacing it with openly violence-based rule.

What’s happening in Brazil will have huge repercussions on the continent and beyond. The 1964 military coup was aimed at a government that Washington feared would lessen Brazil’s economic dependency and seek more political independence from the U.S. Washington encouraged and financed the coup plotters and eventually stationed warships off the country’s coast in case the coup forces needed assistance. Then Washington used the Brazilian junta to help install U.S.-dominated military regimes in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, and wage horrendous wars to save US domination of Central America. But this is not a matter of history repeating itself. Events are being driven by global developments in the imperialist system and their dynamic interaction with the particularities of Brazil’s place in that system and its national and historical specificities.

Imperialism, rather than spreading enlightenment and progress as its apologists once claimed, today is giving rise to different kinds of fascism in different ways, along with new varieties of religious obscurantism. Crises in the old structures of political rule, and in the ideological glue holding together exploitative and oppressive societies, are major factors at work in many countries. One common feature in the rise of fascism in different countries is a move toward resolving the contradiction between the reality and false appearance of freedom for the people under bourgeois democracy by instituting openly dictatorial rule. Bolsonaro has openly proclaimed, “I am in favor of a dictatorship.”

This applies to what’s happening in Brazil. People like Lula and the PT, not just in Brazil but everywhere, are stubbornly—and maybe fatally—holding on to preconceptions that do not stand the test of reality (such as the belief that the capitalist system can be made tolerable for the broad masses of people by using its own political structures). Everywhere classes and people whose interests are rooted in the global workings of the imperialist system are, by that very fact, doing their best not to endanger those interests and the stability of the imperialist order by confronting these fascists. 

Confronting these trends requires the most thoroughly scientific theory and method to identify the real dynamics driving developments and determine an adequate course of action, not only to defeat the rise of these fascist forces but to take humanity to a world free of oppression and exploitation where monsters like Bolsonaro can only be read about in courses on ancient history. The framework for this has been established by the work of Bob Avakian. In particular, see "The Fascists and the Weimar Republic ... And What Will Replace It"; Away With All Gods, Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008, especially pp. 102-105; and, more generally, The New Communism, The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, Insight Press, 2016, available in PDF format from some retailers. Updated prepublication PDF downloadable at revcom.us.

 

1. “Democratic Socialism,” or social democracy, refers to a political trend that envisions a form of “socialism”—actually, some variant of state ownership of some industries and extensive welfare measures—that would come to power through bourgeois elections. [back]

2.  On April 1, 1964 the Brazilian military—backed by the U.S. embassy and State Department—seized political power from the elected government of João Goulart, a leftist government attempting to carry out popular reforms. A reactionary military dictatorship was established and held power for over twenty years. During this time, there were 50,000 arrests and hundreds of murders of those considered to be communists or subversives; widespread torture (including rape and castration); and overall suppression of freedom of speech for all, regardless of what social or economic strata. All of this was supported by the U.S. government. [back]

 

On March 17, 2017, A World to Win News Service (AWTWNS) announced its transformation into a more thorough-going tool for revolution based on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Read its “Editorial: Introducing a transformed AWTWNS” here.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/539/sunsara-taylor-disrupts-appearance-by-james-comey-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Sunsara Taylor: "why I disrupted @Comey's only public book event"

April 19, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper and co-initiator of Refuse Fascism, disrupted an April appearance by James Comey (ex-FBI head), as seen through tweets below:

 

Thread on why I disrupted @Comey's only public book event.
[1] It is not normal for the commander-in-chief to threaten to imprison his fired FBI head (Comey) or his political opponent (Hillary). These are the moves -- along with much more -- of a fascist Trump/Pence Regime. pic.twitter.com/q2xnPJCD5L

— Sunsara Taylor (@SunsaraTaylor) April 19, 2018

 

[2] The Trump/Pence Regime is a FASCIST REGIME. It poses a catastrophic danger to humanity.
But, Comey is NOT going to save us -- he tells us to wait for the elections. But the elections won't stop a fascist America.#Comey #ComeyBook pic.twitter.com/Tv2a76YCKg

— Sunsara Taylor (@SunsaraTaylor) April 19, 2018

 

[3] Only an unprecedented struggle from below can stop a fascist America -- 1000's taking the streets in cities nationwide, staying day after day in nonviolent political protests, growing to involve millions who don't stop until our demand is met: THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! pic.twitter.com/FjBneOWlFK

— Sunsara Taylor (@SunsaraTaylor) April 19, 2018

 

[4] This is what https://t.co/UFM0ZOGjlH is preparing for. EVERYONE who refuses to accept a fascist America is invited & urged to come together now with this movement before it is too late.
IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN STOP A FASCIST AMERICA!

— Sunsara Taylor (@SunsaraTaylor) April 19, 2018

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/539/what-are-you-going-to-do-if-trump-fires-mueller-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Staring into the Abyss of Fascism...
What Are You Going to Do If Trump Fires Mueller?

April 16, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In the past week, an investigation by Robert Mueller, the special counsel charged with examining Trump’s campaign’s ties with Russian agents, has been lurching closer to Trump. Trump has lashed out in response. He has made repeated threats to fire Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, the Department of Justice official who appointed him.

A Fork in the Road

The fascist Trump/Pence regime is confronted with immense and intense challenges, globally and domestically. Conflict over the Mueller investigation is sharpening at the same time as the regime has launched attacks on Syria. In early April it began “war games” in South Korea. Trump has assembled a “war cabinet” around him, adding longtime fascist warmonger John Bolton, Christian fascist Mike Pompeo, and torturer Gina Haspel to his inner circle. As Andy Zee said at the launch for Refuse Fascism’s new Call to Action, “We are approaching a fork in the road.”

People must recognize Trump’s attacks and threats on the Mueller investigation for what they are—a big step towards the consolidation of fascism. As Revolution/revcom has written, “Fascism is the exercise of blatant dictatorship by the bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) class, ruling through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as ‘enemies,’ ‘undesirables,’ or ‘dangers to society.’”

Trump’s attacks on Mueller are aimed at establishing his ability and that of his regime to shred and disregard the law. They are aimed at sweeping aside and crushing opposition, even when it comes from within the ruling class.

To consolidate fascism, the Trump/Pence regime must attack and shatter the norms, laws, and institutions that cohere bourgeois democracy in the U.S. Even in “normal times,” while the masses of people have some democratic rights, this takes place in the context of an overall class dictatorship of the capitalist-imperialists, in which the terms are set by the imperialists and backed up by the state’s monopoly on the use of force. It is not a matter of indifference—indeed, it is a matter of grave consequence—if a fascist form of rule is consolidated. It will wreak an even greater degree of suffering on the masses and make the fight for any kind of better future much much more difficult.

The need to shatter those norms is a central reason Trump keeps assailing the press, and appointing Christian fascists to the federal judiciary. He also continues to attack and degrade sections of the ruling class who oppose his program and his efforts to establish unhindered authority of the executive (presidency). His attacks on the Mueller investigation are an attempt to shatter the constitutional “separation of powers” that has been a core principle of this country since its founding.

Bob Avakian, in his article “The Fascists and the Destruction of the ‘Weimar Republic’... and What Will Replace It,” made this important and highly relevant observation about fascism and its attempts to consolidate power:

Besides attacking people who are genuinely opposed not only to this fascism but to the capitalist-imperialist system as a whole, one of the main lines of their assault is (to use a very relevant analogy) viciously going after the Weimar Republic (the bourgeois-democratic republic in Germany after World War 1, which was replaced and forcibly abolished when Hitler and the Nazis came to power in the 1930s)....

Going after the equivalent of the Weimar Republic in the U.S. today, the Democratic Party and the “Liberals” and so on—attacking them as nothing less than traitors―is part of an overall program aimed at silencing and outright suppressing, including through the force of the state, any group or section of society, even within the ruling class, that would pose an obstacle to the implementation of the program that the Christian Fascists, and forces in the same general camp with them, are very seriously seeking to impose on the U.S. (and indeed throughout the world). There is, and for some time there has been, a very definite, conscious and concerted effort by the forces in that general fascist camp to systematically attack not just communists, or anarchists and other radicals, but liberals, mainstream ruling class liberal politicians—attacking them as having been nothing less than traitors, from the time of the cold war to the “war on terror.” [bolded emphasis in original, italicized emphasis ours]

Trump is not just demolishing these norms; he is moving to establish fascist norms in their place. If he moves to fire Mueller, people must get in the streets and stay in the streets in protest. It will not be enough to vent our anger and opposition once, and go home. The fascist regime would absorb the protest, and move on to carry out further suppression of opposition—within the ruling class, and broadly in society.

This is a challenge the people must rise to, and meet. An attempt by Trump to shut down or cripple the Mueller investigation must become a moment when masses of people express—in the streets—a determination to not go any further down the road to fascism. We must protest, and persevere in sustaining that protest as our numbers and determination grow.

Acting in the Interests of Humanity

Different forces in the ruling class are clashing sharply over how to proceed in this situation. Democratic senator Chuck Schumer, addressing Trump, said, “For the sake of our country, we plead with you. Don’t put this country through a constitutional crisis, whether by firing Mueller, Rosenstein or otherwise impeding this investigation from going forward. The rule of law is paramount in this country. No man—not even the president—is above it.” Some leading Republicans have also warned against Trump’s threats to shut down Mueller’s investigation. Senator Lindsey Graham, usually a Trump ally, said that if Trump moved to fire Mueller, “that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.”

Meanwhile, Steve Bannon, back from rallying white supremacists in Europe, has been huddling with other fascists, including congressional representatives and White House staff. They are reported to be hatching a plan to protect Trump and put an end to the Mueller investigation by firing Rosenstein and stopping Trump’s “cooperation” with Mueller.

Pleading with fascists, as Schumer argues for, will not help. In fact, it can only do great harm, by raising illusions that the Democratic Party can somehow be relied on to stop fascist consolidation, and by demobilizing people from the struggle that must be waged to prevent fascism from consolidating its grip on power. But millions of people acting on this crisis in the interests of humanity, not “our country,” as Schumer puts it, is in fact the only way many, many people who look to Schumer and other Democrats for leadership can become part of an effort that actually derails the fascist juggernaut. And that is what humanity, and the planet, urgently need.

Revolution will continue to analyze this rapidly developing and highly volatile situation.

Points of Orientation

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/540/student-outrage-continues-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

Student Outrage Continues… Walkouts Nationwide Demand an End to Gun Violence

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Friday, April 20, thousands of students in over 2,600 schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. walked out of their classes and spent the day in marches and protests, expressing their continued outrage at the epidemic of gun violence in schools and in society, and demanding those in power put an end to it. “Enough Is Enough!” The date marked the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting horror at Columbine High School in Colorado that left 15 dead and 21 injured. This was the third major nationwide outpouring, and the second nationwide walkout, by secondary school students since the February 14 massacre that took 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

From New York to San Francisco, from Houston to Chicago, and from Denver to Washington, D.C., students marched, held rallies with periods of silence, and more. Southern California saw thousands walk out, and hundreds of students marched on City Hall in downtown L.A. More than 1,000 high school students converged on downtown Portland, Oregon, where an 11th grade student was the first to speak: “We are all here because we care about something important. Our silence is recommended, even forced upon us, by this government. But we will not remain silent.” Thousands more students from high schools throughout the Houston area walked out, with some holding rallies on their campuses, and 2,000 rallied downtown.

In New York City an estimated 5,000 students from 35 high schools in all five boroughs of the city as well as from New Jersey and Connecticut rallied for several hours in Washington Square Park. They came in groups small and large, with all kinds of hand-made signs. A huge group of students sat in silence in a circular area in the middle of the park, each one holding the name of one of the 162 people who have been killed since Columbine.

There continues to be a powerful sense among these youth that something is really wrong with a world where kids and teachers are getting killed in their classrooms… where mass shootings can take place in night clubs, at concerts, in churches... over and over again. And they see those with power continuing to do nothing to get to the bottom of it. Their disgust at the NRA, as well as at the politicians they see as bought off into ignoring this epidemic, is visceral. There is real grappling among them over what is the solution to all of this. But to the degree their sights remain focused on guns as the problem, then the solutions will remain focused on “gun control.” And this goes hand-in-hand with the appeal by the Democrats for the students to direct their anger into the voting booth as the way to bring change.

Making the Connection with Police Violence Against People of Color

Some students at these protests were making the connection between “gun violence” and the epidemic of killings of Black, Latino and Native American people by the police. One student in Washington Square Park carried a hand-made sign that read: “People of Color, Shot by Police.” In small letters, he had written the names of Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, and scores of other Black and other oppressed people murdered by the police. Why did he do that? “Because I think one of the main gun violence problems is the police killing Latino people and Black people and Native American people.”

A New York Times reporter wrote that one of the high school organizers of the walkouts in New York spoke to the rally about the killing of Stephon Clark, the 22-year-old father of two young children killed by the Sacramento police barely a month ago, as a part of the same battle that they are waging against gun violence:We will not stop until 58 people can walk into a concert, 49 people can walk into a club, 20 first graders can walk into their classroom, 17 students can walk into their school, 12 people can walk into a movie theater, one black man can walk into his grandmother’s backyard, and all of them can walk out.”

Voter registration was promoted from the stages, on the signs, and by Democratic Party organizers in the crowds signing up the students, even those too young to actually vote, with the message that voting is the way to make the politicians “accountable.” An offshoot of last month’s March for Our Lives—called Vote for Our Lives—kicked off a national voter registration campaign the night before the walkouts, with the catch phrase “We don't need more guns, we need more votes. Vote for our lives.” But this “solution” of relying on the Democrats and the electoral process only corrals people into working to maintain the very system that is responsible for massive violence and oppression—not just in the U.S., but even more so around the world, for decades and decades.

The fact is the source of the epidemic of mass slaughter in this society has been woven into the fabric of this country since its origins: in slavery, genocide, and the theft of territory; and in the political structures, social relations and the institutions of violent suppression necessary to maintain this capitalist-imperialist system down to today. Without getting at these roots, there can be no solution to this epidemic. To understand “gun culture” in this country, you have to understand the history of white reactionaries in enforcing the degradation and oppression of Black people through slavery … then the KKK lynchings of Jim Crow segregation … and now, after the upheavals of Black people in the 1960s, the way white supremacists are “armed to the teeth” to protect “their way of life,” and how racialized violence is fostered not just by the NRA but by politicians all the way to the highest offices of the government. Never forget that Bill Clinton expanded the genocidal mass incarceration of Black people and other oppressed people, and another Democrat, Barack Obama, maintained it. Stopping all this also means recognizing the way that violent wars of empire are built into the very fabric of what America does around the world.

It is a very positive development that this generation of students continues to take the streets demanding change. Big questions are being posed, and this outrage needs to turn into many hundreds of thousands of people awakening to political life, digging into why these horrific killings are happening and how to stop it for real. As revcom.us has written, addressing the students who are demanding that school shootings end:

As you awaken to the horrors of this country and what it does, lift your sights to the emancipation of all of humanity. Otherwise none of these burning outrages will end, and in many ways you could end up being pitted against others whose lives are being wantonly destroyed by the same system that is responsible for the school shootings you’re rightly outraged about.

The real insanity is leaving in place this capitalist-imperialist system built on racism, genocide, and misogyny which doesn’t give a shit about youth in Parkland, Florida, or people anywhere else. It’s the same system that’s driving the world toward environmental calamity with global warming, and threatening it with nuclear holocaust. It’s going to take nothing less than an actual revolution to change that.

To those agonizing over the latest school shooting and those who abhor it—dig more deeply into the history of this country and the nature of this society. Rise up, resist, and revolt against all abuses and outrages going on, and against the system underlying them. Come to revcom.us and get into the most radical revolutionary vision, strategy, and plan for a whole new world, without the needless carnage and insanity that is an American hallmark.

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/534/the-new-communism-could-change-everything--if-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

THE NEW COMMUNISM COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING—IF...

March 15, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following are excerpts from a document written by a leading comrade of the Revolutionary Communist Party and circulated among Party members and supporters. Footnotes have been added here.

 

Let’s speak frankly now. Let’s be willing to honestly confront and be blunt and grapple with the problems of the revolution, including with people outside our own Party. Let’s start by stating some simple basics about the current reality:

We revolutionary communists are supposed to represent and speak in the name of the interests of all of humanity. And we are supposed to do so on the basis of science and nothing less. On that basis, we can in fact have a great deal of certitude in stating that what humanity needs, more than anything else, is a communist world, achieved through a process of revolutions (of the right kind) to establish socialist societies (of the right kind) as a transition and road, and a base for advance, to that communist world. So it’s not just communism we are fighting for, it’s the right kind of communism, the NEW COMMUNISM.

The new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian (BA) really is a total game-changer, which objectively represents and constitutes the opening of a whole new chapter in the historical evolution of communist theory and practice. IT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING. But this will happen only IF the New Communism of BA becomes widely known, takes root, and spreads ever more broadly, in a kind of geometric progression, throughout this society and also throughout the entire world.

But right now the objective situation is such that hardly anyone has even heard of the New Communism, hardly anyone is even searching for that kind of solution to the world’s problems, and the so-called educated or “progressive” and “enlightened” people here and around the world remain primarily mired in moribund and paralyzing retrograde frameworks of the past (standard bourgeois democracy, social democracy,1 variations on Ajithism,2 etc.) and by and large are stubbornly (and sometimes snarkily, with significant vitriol) refusing to explore and engage anything that might be radically new and inspiring but which might actually require them to question and break out of the relative stability and comfort they can still typically benefit from (especially in the U.S.) thanks to their objective acceptance, accommodation and ultimately complicity with the dominant and ruling exploitative and oppressive frameworks, in all their vile and brutally violent incarnations (including their increasingly fascist directions) here and throughout the world.

So the external objective/subjective conditions we are dealing with are difficult to say the least. And, relatedly, the revisionism that has plagued the ranks of communists everywhere in recent decades, including in our own Party,3 has posed especially significant obstacles to waging the necessary struggles to break through any of this. So overall this is a very challenging time.

But one thing is crystal clear: There is nothing that would be more important to accomplish in this period of history than to succeed in breaking through some of these obstacles and getting the New Communism, as well as its architect, BA (the person who has elaborated and developed this new synthesis of communism, and who himself stands as a concentrated expression of its core principles and scientific methods), widely known, engaged and appreciated throughout this society (and among all strata), and beyond that throughout the world. And it must also be said that, conversely, if we don’t succeed in doing THAT—if we don’t succeed in making qualitative and quantitative breakthroughs in fulfilling THAT mission—then not much at all will come out of anything any of us have done over the past decades, or continue to do today. All that hard work, and all that dedication, and all that sacrifice? It will all amount to a big fat zero if we do not succeed in broadly spreading the New Communism, getting it to take root and initiating a process of sustainable geometric progression.

If we don’t succeed in this, there really is no point to any of the other things we do. If we don’t succeed in this, then even important things like: the website (and associated social media) outreach and leadership; particular “Fight the Power...” conjunctural initiatives around any and all of the 5 Stops4 (including genocidal police brutality and murder); particular emergency-worthy and strategic “nodal point” initiatives (such as Refuse Fascism); particular attention paid to international developments (and to revolutionary-minded forces in other countries) and to struggling against the stranglehold of jingoism and national chauvinism among the people in this country; particular attention paid to realizing the two maximizings (developing work among both the most oppressed social base and educated youth in particular); particular attention to vigorous recruitment and the developing of a newly revitalized Leninist party on the basis of the New Communism (and not something else or lesser than that...), none of our dedicated work in any of these spheres will ultimately amount to anything more than perhaps a minor footnote in history, unless...

Unless we do manage to fulfill our core mission and accomplish what we should all recognize as being our single most crucial and critical strategic goal, and daily preoccupation: which, again, would mean breaking through the assorted obstacles to get BA and the New Communism he has brought forward WIDELY known, engaged and appreciated throughout society. 

Managing to do that should be understood to be our foremost, most singular and critical, strategic mission and objective (for all of humanity and its future, if it is to have any kind of future worth having). 

In line with all this, let’s once again take a hard look at BA’s previous interventions of recent years—what he himself accomplished, vs. what did or did not come out of it in terms of the #1 objective.

Much of this is familiar to all of us, of course. To be blunt once again: they have ALL been, to a very large extent, criminally squandered.

But first, to speak to the positives: Simply put, in addition to the many invaluable published works and audio and video compilations, we have in recent years been treated to an unbelievable series of public and semi-public direct interventions by BA in person. These have consistently been incredible, world-class-level presentations of new communist theory, propaganda and agitation, all put forward with great depth, and substance, and heart, and all done in such a way as to serve as a living laboratory of scientific methods applied to the problems of human society. All done in a manner that is widely accessible to a wide variety of audiences, and which concentrates many different levels of precious lessons for everyone, ranging from brand new people, of different backgrounds and strata, to the most experienced communist “veterans,” including top leadership of our own Party, including, of course, ourselves.

Isn’t everything I just said here true? Just think of direct interventions like the 7 Talks,5 or the talks that gave rise to the 2003 Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About film; or the talks that gave rise to the REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! film; or the series of internal leadership seminars a few years ago which drilled home the importance of scientific methods and the need to break with the mass line,6 reification,7 populist epistemology,8 etc. carried over from earlier stages of communism; or the thrilling (and contended) public Dialogue at Riverside Church with Cornel West, and the film that came out of that; or the series of internal seminars which ultimately fed into the process of BA’s writing the seminal book THE NEW COMMUNISM; or the most recent semi-public (and only one-hour long!) 2017 talk which is a truly masterful concentration of both current conjunctural (fascism on the rise) and deeper historical roots analyses (how did we get to this point and why?), along with leadership being given to what to do about all this, all while never failing to reveal and confidently proceed back from the largest and most strategic objectives of the New Communism, while also providing a school of method and principle, plus an outlining of the basic pathway forward in practice for those with whom unity can be forged in the current conjuncture even if they don’t yet share (and might never share) those ultimate communist objectives. A model of solid core, with lots of elasticity based on the solid core. A model of unite all who can be united, on the right basis and with the right methods. A model of calm confidence and certitude based on science. A model of decency, of morality, of approachability, of humor and compassion, and yes of hope, all the while not falling into the slightest bit of tailing or ass-kissing and instead waging ferocious polemical struggle with the masses of different strata to work on those living contradictions and challenge and bust through the obstacles and the confining and paralyzing frameworks of this period. And all in an hour. Wow! And then with it the Q&A, with all its intangibles, substance, remarkable scientific ease and liveliness on full display “off the cuff”–Wow yet again!

So all that is great and inspiring, but here’s the rub: ALL these more or less “direct” interventions by BA have been remarkable and world-class in terms of both form and content. ALL of them have been schools of method, for everyone. ALL of them are objectively priceless in and of themselves, and I am quite sure that they will ultimately “bear fruit” in a way commensurate with their quality—at least I expect this to happen over the longer term, if somehow humanity manages not to drive itself to literal extinction in the near future. I certainly am confident, on a scientific basis, that any decent future for humanity would necessarily have to be carved out by “going through” the new synthesis of communism brought forward by BA.

Because of all that I have said here (about the longer-term future in relation to the entirety of BA’s body of work, including all these interventions), it would be totally and obscenely wrong to conclude these interventions have been wasted efforts because they were, ultimately, squandered in the aftermath. But at least in the shorter term, to put it quite crudely, “what has come out of these interventions?”

BA did his part(s), but what have the rest of us succeeded in doing in the aftermath of these BA interventions that we could point to and honestly say: “This has really helped to spread the New Communism much more broadly and widely; you can see that, thanks to this intervention, lots more people now know about BA, and what he has brought forward; that lots more people are now discussing, debating, contesting, engaging the New Communism; that this is all giving rise to a certain kind of geometric progression as all this is really beginning to take hold and is spreading farther and farther day by day, reaching a great many people we could not possibly encounter directly. Very significantly, there are now clear indications of the emergence of significant new cohorts of genuine and motivated actual followers of BA and of the New Communism–significant not simply in importance, but in actual numbers, and expanding societal influence, as well—all of which bodes well for the possibility of the New Communism spreading and taking root to an unprecedented degree in the next period.”

Unfortunately none of this has happened.

Again, BA has done his part, in every single instance. But the “toxic combination” of recent years, characterized by the predominance of anti-scientific revisionism in both our own Party and the international movements, combined with the frustrating degree to which masses of all the different strata have NOT been correctly identifying the source of “the problem” confronting society and all of humanity, or have not been in any serious way looking for this kind of “solution” (for all the reasons we have previously discussed and which I won’t belabor here)—this “toxic combination” has resulted in a situation where it is today incredibly difficult and dislocating for even the best of the current communist leadership to create the necessary conditions for these BA interventions to take place on an even remotely correct basis (appropriate audiences, appropriate security, etc.) and, even beyond that, in every instance, there also does not seem to have been a sufficient material basis and/or sufficiently grounded ideological orientation to enable even the best of current leadership to “come out the other end” of these BA interventions in such a way that seeds of New Communism could really be broadly planted and then harvested on any kind of significant scale

So, we have to confront this reality, and yet figure out ways to not let it defeat us. Acknowledge the reality that all that incredible effort gets put into things but, in this period at least, not a whole lot actually “comes out of it all” in terms of really making significant progress in meeting that #1 strategic objective. Again, it will all likely bear fruit in a more commensurate way somewhere down the line, but at least in this period, in a period where the fragile flickering light of the New Communism could still so easily be extinguished, I don’t think we have succeeded in creating anything like the necessary material basis within which these remarkable direct interventions could actually be properly harvested, with the goal of unleashing that process of “geometric progression” of spread and societal influence we so desperately need to effect.

One of my recurring frustrations is also that every one of these interventions has produced incredibly valuable materials (books, films, etc.) which themselves provide so much of what we need to “spread” BA and the New Communism broadly throughout society, but we are always so busy doing other things that we barely make use of these most valuable tools for harvesting and spreading.

But of course this does not mean that the current situation (the repeated squandering) is acceptable, or could never ever be transformed (!), or that, no matter what we decide in the particular, we should not do all that is in our power to figure out how to spread the New Communism far and wide and work to have it take root. This does need to happen! It does need to be our #1 strategic objective.

For one thing, we need to revive the whole orientation around barefoot doctors9 and Huxleys.10 We need everyone, from leading people to Party members and supporters broadly, to serve minimally, or at least in some capacity, as barefoot doctors. Can you call yourself a communist if you’re not in some fashion doing at least that? To engage in at least the simplest tasks that can help spread the New Communism and BA (including by distributing BA literature and showing BA films as well as advertising the existence of the website, etc.). The original barefoot doctors in China during Mao’s time (largely peasant masses who were given basic medical knowledge and training) may not have had the basis to provide advanced medical theory or conduct complex medical interventions (they did not and would not have been allowed to try to do so, as this could have done more harm than good) but they provided an invaluable service by tirelessly going out far and wide, by trying to reach as many people as possible, by doing so repeatedly and consistently, and by bringing very basic medicines and treatment and basic medical education (the equivalent of spreading literature and films) to all sorts of places and people who had never had access to even such basics. An invaluable service. So is there anyone who really cannot or should not serve minimally as a barefoot doctor in relation to BA and the New Communism?

In conjunction with that we need Huxleys to actually be, and function as, HUXLEYS(!!). To do so correctly, consistently, and with the understanding that this is their PRIMARY mission, not just something they do alongside everything else they do. I don’t care how many direct interventions BA does, or of what quality, or with what conjunctural timeliness—if we don’t have a crew of ardent and motivated Huxleys, who see themselves first and foremost as followers of BA, and who consistently see their primary mission as what I referred to as our #1 strategic mission overall, and then act in accordance with that in everything they do, including by actually acting in society primarily as Huxleys, then we will never have the material basis to not squander BA’s works and interventions, and we will never develop fresh new cohorts of motivated followers of BA and the New Communism. We might recruit one or two fresh faces here or there, but we will never be able to regroup, re-ascend and revitalize an actual Leninist party that actually corresponds to and can implement the core objectives and methods of the New Communism.

At the same time, I know one thing: If this fascism of the Trump/Pence regime gets consolidated and this really becomes the widely accepted “normal” of this society, not only will this have disastrous consequences overall, but more specifically, we, as communists, are going to have an even much harder time getting anywhere, including with the spread and promotion of the New Communism and the works of BA and the development of open and motivated active followers of BA dedicated to getting all this to take root and spread even more. So the mission of Refuse Fascism, and whether it spreads and gains traction and committed adherents and stays on the right track, and so on, really is not “just another good initiative or good thing to be doing.” And in relation to our strategic communist objectives, the failure of what is represented by Refuse Fascism might well end up putting the final nail in our coffin.

Something like the recent 2017 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—which speaks powerfully to the immediate, urgent importance of bringing forward masses of people in nonviolent but sustained political mobilization to drive out this fascist regime, and the crucial relation between that and our fundamental revolutionary objectives—really needs not to be squandered! This film needs to be used (a lot!!) and there needs to be an active approach on our part to have all its positives made full use of and broadly projected and injected into everything, etc. I get frustrated that still not enough of this is going on (and that the film still seems to get sort of “tacked on” to other things). With that particular intervention and film, if we don’t keep putting enough leading attention into it even now, in the aftermath, then we will suffer the consequences (yet again) of unconscionable squandering (including in failing to fulfill both some important aspects of our #1 objective to promote and project BA and the New Communism, and also failing to take full advantage of this talk’s ability to positively influence the development of the necessary anti-fascist trajectory). All this would be bad enough, and we really should try very hard to make full use of everything that could be accomplished through broad promotion and dissemination of that talk—I think we have barely scratched the surface!

I will end here by simply restating the obvious:

BA himself really does actually concentrate the best of what is the New Communism, and his various works and interventions are themselves the best possible “advertisement” for this new synthesis of communism—there are no better tools for the spread and popularization of the New Communism than BA’s various works and interventions “in their own right,” free of any intermediary distortions or re-castings or reinterpretations.

But—and this is a critical but—regardless of what BA himself is or is not able to personally undertake, everything that is represented by the New Communism—which really does have the potential to “change everything!” in the interests of all of humanity—will never spread broadly enough and will never take root deeply enough unless there develop legions of motivated, inspired followers—genuine, motivated and inspired followers—of the New Communism, and of BA himself as a concentration of all that. So, one way or another, bringing that into being really has to be our primary preoccupation and objective, increasingly in its own right, as well as within everything we do.

 

 


FOOTNOTES

1. Social democracy refers to a political trend that envisions a form of “socialism”—actually, some variant of state ownership of some industries and extensive welfare measures—that would come to power through bourgeois elections. It denies the need to meet and defeat the violent repressive power of the bourgeois state through massive all-out struggle for power involving millions and millions, and opposes revolutionary trends that recognize this necessity. This began as a serious trend in Europe, where the usually unspoken basis for it was the spoils from the continued plunder of colonies and neo-colonies. Today it is a significant force in Latin America (Lula in Brazil, Bachelet in Chile, etc.), as well as elsewhere, and takes shape in the U.S. in groups like the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and others. [back

2. Ajithism refers to the trend concentrated in the pamphlet “Against Avakianism,” written in July 2013 by Ajith. This trend is analyzed and extensively criticized in the article “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past,” published in the online journal Demarcations. This polemic with Ajith is a critical work that goes into and demarcates the new synthesis from what has gone before on a range of questions, focused on Bob Avakian’s breakthrough in epistemology. The authors make the point that “To the extent that there were errors in the communist movement, including in the thinking of its greatest leaders, this should neither make communists shrink in horror nor adopt an ostrich-like defense of secondary weaknesses. But what were mistakes in one historical context, when championed, canonized and developed as Ajith does, become transformed into a qualitatively different project for society.” “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past,” page 80. [back]

3. Revisionism refers to schools of thought and political trends that claim to be communist, or Marxist, but revise the revolutionary heart out of communism. The character of revisionism today has been gone into in many works—most especially Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, RCP Publications, 2008 and THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, Bob Avakian, Insight Press, 2016. Essentially, revisionism draws on some variant of bourgeois democracy, or a fixation on certain incorrect and wrong lines in the first stage of the communist revolution (the period from the writing of the Communist Manifesto in 1848 to the overthrow of socialism in China in 1976), or both to oppose the further advance of communism, as crystallized in Bob Avakian’s new synthesis. Both these works go deeply into the Cultural Revolution within the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA—the content of the lines that have contended with the new communism, the course of the struggle, and its crucial character in determining whether or not there will be an actual vanguard, a revolutionary... communist... party in this country. [back]

4. STOP Genocidal Persecution, Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder of Black and Brown People!
STOP The Patriarchal Degradation, Dehumanization, and Subjugation of All Women Everywhere, and All Oppression Based on Gender or Sexual Orientation!
STOP Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!
STOP The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!
STOP Capitalism-Imperialism from Destroying Our Planet! [back]

5. 7 Talks. These talks were given by Bob Avakian in 2006 and covered a wide range of topics. Some of the material in these talks were drawn on for other works, including Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2008 and Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Bob Avakian, Insight Press, 2008. These talks include: “Why We’re in the Situation We’re in Today... And What to Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution”; “Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy”; “Communism: A Whole New World and the Emancipation of All Humanity—Not ‘The Last Shall Be First, And the First Shall Be Last’”; “The NBA: Marketing the Minstrel Show and Serving the Big Gangsters”; “Communism and Religion: Getting Up and Getting Free—Making Revolution to Change the Real World, Not Relying on ‘Things Unseen’”; “Conservatism, Christian Fundamentalism, Liberalism and Paternalism ... Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton ... Not All ‘Right’ but All Wrong!”; “‘Balance’ Is the Wrong Criterion—and a Cover for a Witch-hunt—What We Need Is the Search for the Truth: Education, Real Academic Freedom, Critical Thinking and Dissent.” [back]

6. Mass line was a method developed by Mao that set the heart of the communist method as taking the scattered and unsystematic ideas of the masses, concentrating what is correct in them, and returning what is correct to them in the form of policies that they can take up and act on. Bob Avakian analyzed the problems with this principle in his 2014 talks [“The Material Basis and the Method for Making Revolution” and “The Strategic Approach to Revolution and Its Relation to Basic Questions of Epistemology and Method”]. Such a method relegates communists to essentially holding a mirror up to and confining themselves within the limits of whatever the sentiments of the masses are at any given time, as opposed to scientifically analyzing what must be done at any juncture and then struggling and working with masses to take this up. The “mass line,” however, became enshrined for decades as a more or less unchallenged principle prior to BA’s forging of the new communism; and, in fact, “mass line” was a method, as BA points out, that Mao himself did not follow at certain critical junctures in the revolution. [back]

7. Reification refers to the view, predominant in the communist movement before the new synthesis, that proletarians by virtue of their class position, have a special purchase on the truth; in particular, that they have within them the means to grasp the historic role of the proletariat as a class and will “instinctively” gravitate toward that view. This confounds the position of the proletariat in society as a class and the consciousness of individual proletarians. In fact, an understanding of the historic role of the proletariat in relation to ending all forms of exploitation and oppression came out of scientific study of the whole course of social development, and analysis of the underlying and generally hidden dynamics behind that development. Anyone who wishes to understand and play a role in leading the communist revolution has to study it as a science, whatever their class background (and people of all backgrounds can and do take this up). At the same time, everyone in society, no matter their class origin, is both influenced by the pulls of living life in a capitalist system and subject to being trained in, and spontaneously taking up, all sorts of unscientific and, indeed, antiscientific methods. For more on reification, see “Ajith—A Portrait of the Residue of the Past.” [back]

8. Populist epistemology refers to the notion that what people think ultimately determines reality, or at least that communists should “factor in” what the majority of people think in arriving at the truth. Truth, however—including the truth about objective reality and whether particular analyses or policies correctly reflect that reality and the path forward toward transforming it in a revolutionary direction—is independent of what anybody thinks. Darwin’s theory of evolution would be true whether anybody thought it was or not; as are certain fundamental truths about society and what kinds of transformations are necessary to change it, as well as more immediate things that can be determined to be true or not. This notion has done and continues to do tremendous damage, leading communists to opportunistically tail behind and fail to challenge backward sentiments and beliefs and outright wrong and even reactionary paths among masses of people. The correct understanding is captured in BAsics 4:11: “What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think.” BAsics: from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011. For more on this, see “The Material Basis and the Method for Making Revolution” and 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, Insight Press, 2015. [back]

9. “Barefoot doctors” were peasants in China who, during the period when China was revolutionary and in particular during the Cultural Revolution, were given very basic training in medical science and sent among the masses to minister to basic health needs. While they were not fully trained in medicine, they could still do good by spreading certain basic scientific understanding about the human body and health. By analogy, barefoot doctors are those who may not have the most developed understanding of the science of communism but who want to help spread it as they are learning more, and while they may not be able to contend with other outlooks and modes of thought, can still do a great deal of good. [back]

10. Thomas Henry Huxley was a champion for Darwin’s theory of evolution. While Darwin for various reasons did not focus on debating the truth of the theory in public venues, Huxley played the role of going everywhere to fight for Darwin’s breakthrough. He was known as “Darwin’s bulldog.” By analogy, people who do gain a more developed understanding of the new communism should be out taking on all proponents of contending viewpoints and modes of thought. [back]

 

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: http://revcom.us/a/539/a-plan-to-change-everything-en.html

Revolution #540 April 23, 2018

BA, the New Communism, and the Challenge to Us: A Plan to Change Everything

April 16, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

April 16, 2018: We write this as Trump struts and preens for having bombed Syria (a conflict which the U.S. has stoked and maneuvered in from the beginning), supposedly to punish the deaths of nearly 50 civilians... while continuing to sponsor with money, arms, and training a Saudi war against Yemen that has taken the lives of thousands of children. We write this as the New York Times Magazine front-pages the fact that Black mothers and babies die at more than twice the rate of white mothers and babies, and as the drumbeat of police murder of Black and Latino and Native American youths continues. As the environment hurtles toward utter disaster. As immigrants and refugees are demonized, hunted, persecuted, imprisoned, and essentially murdered on the high seas and deserts, while the U.S. itself leads the pack on this. As the stories of abuse and degradation of women continue to fight their way out of every corner of the globe. We write this as fascism stalks the globe, with its champions in the White House—Trump on the offensive, with Pence and a whole Christian fascist movement as the backbone.

This world cries out for revolution. But what kind of revolution?

Revolution requires leadership. But what kind of leadership?

A little more than a month ago, revcom published a critical, and what must become a seminal, editorial, “THE NEW COMMUNISM COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING—IF...” There, the challenge was sharply posed:

We revolutionary communists are supposed to represent and speak in the name of the interests of all of humanity. And we are supposed to do so on the basis of science and nothing less. On that basis, we can in fact have a great deal of certitude in stating that what humanity needs, more than anything else, is a communist world, achieved through a process of revolutions (of the right kind) to establish socialist societies (of the right kind) as a transition and road, and a base for advance, to that communist world. So it’s not just communism we are fighting for, it’s the right kind of communism, the NEW COMMUNISM....

There is nothing that would be more important to accomplish in this period of history than to succeed in breaking through some of [the] obstacles and getting the New Communism, as well as its architect, Bob Avakian [BA] (the person who has elaborated and developed this new synthesis of communism, and who himself stands as a concentrated expression of its core principles and scientific methods), widely known, engaged and appreciated throughout this society (and among all strata), and beyond that throughout the world. And it must also be said that, conversely, if we don’t succeed in doing THAT—if we don’t succeed in making qualitative and quantitative breakthroughs in fulfilling THAT mission—then not much at all will come out of anything any of us have done over the past decades, or continue to do today. All that hard work, and all that dedication, and all that sacrifice? It will all amount to a big fat zero if we do not succeed in broadly spreading the New Communism, getting it to take root and initiating a process of sustainable geometric progression.

The author then goes on to sharply lay out the crucial task before us: spreading the new communism much more broadly and widely and developing a situation where lots more people know about BA, and what he has brought forward; where lots more people are discussing, debating, contesting, engaging the new communism; and where this is all giving rise to a certain kind of geometric progression as it takes hold and spreads farther and farther day by day, reaching a great many people we could not possibly encounter directly. Going further: We need a situation in which significant new cohorts of genuine and motivated actual followers of BA and of the new communism are cohering into a real force—significant not simply in importance, but in actual numbers, and expanding societal influence, as well—all of which bodes well for the possibility of the new communism spreading and taking root to an unprecedented degree in the next period.

The plan that follows responds to this challenge. It is a plan to begin that “geometric progression,” now. Below we discuss the overall political terrain on which this takes shape. We examine in basic terms some relationships between different urgent tasks that have to be handled well. Then we get into some of the key components of the plan, while indicating where we need to do more work. Important elaborations of key points can be found in boxes that go with this plan.

This is a campaign to go out to masses of people. This campaign aims to involve many people who previously knew nothing about BA and the new communism but who—in this moment—can be moved, with the power of this revolutionary theory and leader, to take this up and be part of radically changing the world. Without that, it can’t really work; but with it, we can actually... change everything.

The Political Terrain on Which We’re Working and the Pathways to Transformation

We confront—and must transform—a highly fraught situation. A crisis, in the truest, fullest sense of the word. A fascist regime holds power in the U.S. and is right now attempting to fully implant its rule. One outrage follows another, with the latest shouldering the one before it out of the headlines in a dizzying procession. Conflicts rage around the world, with possibly catastrophic ones threatening to erupt. Meanwhile, the business of “capitalism-imperialism as usual” grinds on and accelerates, crushing the lives and mutilating the spirits of billions each day.

Yet the “division of opinion” is unfavorable. Most people cannot see beyond the bounds of the “proper channels” of the very system that is moving to implant fascism. People are anxious but also learning to live with the normalization of this—which immeasurably heightens the danger.

But within this lies a deep potential for radical change, either positive or negative. The stakes hold both extraordinary danger AND a high potential for people to search out, hear, and grapple with new ideas—and act on those ideas to transform the situation.

In truth, three possible futures contend in the current situation. One is that posed by the fascists—and yes, they can succeed in forcing this openly racist, misogynist, and xenophobic future down the throats of humanity and indeed almost certainly WILL succeed unless they are stopped by the massive, defiant, in-the-streets struggle of millions. There is the second future of “imperialism-as-usual,” represented by the likes of Obama and Clinton, in which some of the rights of the better-off sections of people within the imperialist countries are respected some of the time and lip service is paid to diversity of people and thinking... while billions worldwide and in this country are ground down daily to feed the system’s machinery and are crushed when they resist.

But there is a third future as well—of revolution, guided by the vision, ethos, and plan of the new communism. We need, most of all and ultimately, revolution—the right kind of revolution. Nothing else can end what we call the “5 Stops”—the wars for empire, the oppression of women, the oppression of Black, Latino, and other oppressed nationality people, the persecution of immigrants, and the capitalist plunder and destruction of the environment; nothing else can get us out of a situation of cycling between fascism and “normal” capitalist-imperialist oppression. In fact, spreading the word on the leadership of BA and the breakthrough elements of the new communism is a fundamental part of the strategy to make that revolution and of the process, right now, of preparing the terrain, the masses and the vanguard for the time when that could be correctly done with a real chance of victory. (See HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution.)

Getting out word of this third future—spreading this everywhere—is the heart of this plan. At the same time, as we have written elsewhere, “At this immediate moment... ousting this fascist regime is a ‘stage we [the movement for revolution] have to go through.’”

The organization Refuse Fascism has united around a plan “to launch at the soonest possible time a nationwide movement of nonviolent political protests, in the streets and public squares, that don’t stop until the demand that the Trump/Pence regime be removed from office is met.” The success of this plan in its own right is crucial, and we urge everyone reading this to read that plan as well, and to follow and support Refuse Fascism.

Refuse Fascism aims to radically reshape the political and social environment. Its success is critically important, very possibly decisive, for humanity. At the same time, the campaign to bring forward that geometric progression of influence of and followers around BA and the new communism will and should dynamically interact with the struggle against fascism (even as it won’t be limited to that).

The Critical Importance of BA’s Filmed Talk on the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime

Let’s take a minute to get into that. One key part of that interaction: Bob Avakian’s filmed speech from last fall, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible. There is nothing comparable to the way this speech and the question/answer session that follows uncovers the deep roots and underlying dynamics of this regime; to the way it puts forth the compelling necessity to drive out the regime; to its engagement with what holds people back; and to the way it explicates the strategy to do that. More, there is the deep understanding of societal dynamics, the thorough internationalism, and the emancipatory methodology AND morality that ground this film—and the speaker who delivers it. If even 100,000 people were to see this talk in the next few months, it would make a huge difference in what they thought necessary and possible and it would compel many of those who watched into conscious activity toward Refuse Fascism’s goal of thousands (and ultimately millions) in the streets, day after day and night after night, in defiant mass political struggle.

At the same time, most people who see the film will “meet” BA for the first time. They’ll not only hear him make a crucial argument on the central issue of the day; they’ll be led to confront the horrific future that the Trump/Pence regime represents and its deep roots in the whole history of this country and structure of its society. This provokes big questions about the system we live under and if a better world is possible, which BA points to. So the film also, and crucially, opens the door to a whole further journey. That makes for a potentially powerful synergy between the crucial struggle to drive out the Trump/Pence fascist regime and the urgent necessity to bring BA and what he represents—the new communism, and the revolution to bring a whole new world into being—to millions.

As the talk becomes a point of reference in the debate around the Trump/Pence fascist regime, and as and if there is increasing defiance against the regime itself along the lines being fought for by Refuse Fascism and its allies, there will be a different level of projection of Bob Avakian into the “public square.” There will be new openings, which must be seized on, sometimes at a moment’s notice. There will be serious attacks of different kinds, which must be recognized and correctly countered... meeting each such attack with greater mobilization of masses.

So there is the immediate context of the fascist threat which we are working to radically transform as a stage of the overall process of making revolution. There is, as well, the overarching ideological terrain where sights are low and the possibility of a different world, of real and viable alternatives to this system, is not on the map. This too we must radically transform, wielding this plan. Indeed, without many thousands at least being exposed to a genuine communist critique of the current world and vision of a better one—to the new communism—and without a growing section taking it up, it is very unlikely that we can defeat fascism.

The Plan to Change Everything: Basic Components

How do we begin those transformations? What follows covers the period through early next year. For the next several months at least, BA’s filmed talk on the Trump/Pence regime is the main—but not the only—vehicle of this effort. This means ongoing, all-the-time work in taking the film out everywhere, and it also requires some focuses.

In this next period, these focuses include a national Take BA to Campus Week, April 30-May 4; and major showings in key metropolitan areas in the second half of May and early June. (See the accompanying box “Two Major Efforts.”)

At the same time, the talk must form part of a whole larger engagement with BA—with the new communism he has brought forward, and the revolution he leads. In line with the reality that it is the totality of the new communism that unlocks the door for humanity, there are three other key components to the campaign right now along with the talk. These include:

Create a Social Movement Around the Talk

Over the past weeks, revcom.us has highlighted some of the work that has been done with the talk (as well as with other elements of the BA “package”). This has shown a glimmer of the potential. But in light of the pivotal and multidimensional importance of the talk as we’ve been discussing it, the scale and scope of this effort must increase by several orders of magnitude, to a whole other level. This must become a social movement in its own right.

What are the keys to this?

Taking and connecting the talk to key sections of people. Right now, there are sections of people that are aroused and in a mood to fight; there are sections of people under attack but perhaps intimidated; and there are sections of people who need to be part of the fight, to influence everyone else. BA’s talk must reach all of them, in a range of creative ways. (See accompanying box “Who Must See This Talk.”)

How do we do it? We go to actions, to programs, to groups and organizations far and wide. We let no assumptions get in the way about who might or might not be interested. We grasp more deeply the acuteness of the situation and the potential power of the talk, and on that basis we conceive and carry out plans on a far greater scale than we have up to now.

A note: When we go out to people, we agitate. On the street, at a program, at a demo... we agitate. And we don’t confine our agitation to the immediate topic of the talk. We wage ideological struggle with people, in every corner of society, and spread the basic message in relatively brief and straightforward terms: who is BA, what is it he’s done that is so new, and so important (what has he done? why is it so important?), and that could change everything, if it is taken up (how could it “change everything”? What do you mean by “if it is taken up”?).

And if you or the people you’re with think the agitation is good, send it to revcom. Agitation can lay bare the real terms of things; it can present and struggle for a different framework of understanding; it can draw out the needlessness of this system, the need—and possibility—FOR revolution, and what we have in the understanding brought forward by, and leadership of BA. Let’s learn from the best, and then take it further.

Activating preexisting social networks. We should work with people to spread the film through their networks—their schools, political groups, religious congregations, families and friends, etc. And then we sum up the response with them. We listen to the contradictions they run into, and work together to solve them. For certain, we should prepare new people by going over “BA: A Contended Question” before they go out. We listen to their ideas on how to spread it and work with them to systematize them. In short, we should organize people, learning from them as we do and helping them identify potential links and levers to make this movement grow.

Make BA a much greater presence on social media. The more that we can learn the dynamics of social media and how to spread things on them, and the more that we can plug into social media with material that people can use, the more that BA can break out broadly. How to utilize the various platforms? There are volunteers who have taken on the job of leading this; if you have ideas, or if you know people who have ideas and expertise, or if you want to be part of this... write to revcom!

Connecting the talk, and BA, to people with (different kinds of) influence. There are artists, clergy, journalists and writers, public intellectuals, professors and scholars, political figures and activists who have already engaged the talk. Some have made public statements responding to it, others have called on people to get into it. It is vitally important that people who would want to go to bat for spreading this talk to be given the chance and consistently worked with to do that. This creates a whole public conversation on it, between BA and among the people commenting, it enables other people who have seen it to learn from how a variety of prominent voices responded to the talk, and it draws people broadly toward getting into it themselves.

This process should aim high in terms of people with a lot of influence but not be limited to people with a conventional “platform.” There are some people who may not be well known but who have particular insights on the film, or who may be from a group that, as a group, has “won the ear” of people more broadly; for instance, high school youths who became active off of Parkland, DACA youths, relatives of the victims of police murder, or others... What they have to say has importance in itself and, many times, their experience can lend texture and weight to their insights and cause others to check out what they’re talking about. And again, in every case—we should be using this process to open the door wide to BA and all that he represents and has brought forward.

More on Organization

Any serious effort at social transformation requires organization. People need a place to get and discuss—and argue over―direction, a place to contribute insights and figure out together how to combine efforts for maximum effect, a place to strategize and, sometimes, to just kick back and talk about the big wide world and what it’s all about.

The Revolution Club is one critical organization where that has to happen. The Revolution Club unites on the need for revolution and communism, and on that basis both spreads and takes up the new communism and mobilizes people to fight the power, and transform the people (including themselves), for revolution. The club, as active fighters for BA and the new communism, needs to bring forward many more active followers. This doesn’t happen automatically; it requires fighting for revolution among all sections of the people... and then when you do attract people, it requires a real plan for and a real systematic method of working with them.

This is something that Revolution Club chapters really need to think about: what is the culture, or atmosphere, of our chapter? How are people brought forward? How revolutionary is it—how much is it grounded in the orientation, and method and approach, of the new communism?

At the same time, there are people who may not at this point want to join the club but who DO want to help this campaign succeed. There needs to be a network for such people, and a way for them to come together as well in an organized way. This can mean volunteering for The Bob Avakian Institute (in places where the institute has an organized presence), or it can mean being part of a network that comes together at different times. But people don’t just magically come together without leadership. Thought must be given as to the forms this should take; while we’re not certain yet as to the specific forms this should take, we ARE certain that such forms will be needed... and we invite your thinking on this.

Revolution Books should both aggressively go out into society with programs and initiatives around BA that flow out of and feed into the whole campaign and in so doing draw in many new volunteers, sustainers, and supporters. The stores have to become political, intellectual, and cultural centers of a movement where the new communism is being engaged, applied, contended over, and connected with.

A key yardstick of this campaign: are the organizations growing and getting stronger?

Building for the Fall—and Summer—While Going All-Out Right Now

As touched on above, The Bob Avakian Institute recently announced a series of major programs, beginning in the fall, exploring major questions of the new communism.

But we can’t wait for the fall to build for those! Right now, we need to get the prospectus out on campuses and in conferences of various kinds, and made known to all who are trying to figure out how to change the world. This is nothing less than a major battle of ideas over how to understand the world, what is the problem we face, the goal of communism and the socialist road to get there, how revolution could win, and the question of leadership. This should be a major if secondary part of Take BA to Campus Week. Beginning now, we should be uniting with people who may not themselves be partisans of the new communism but who would like to see this debated to help build for this... even as we get into the new communism with them and the frameworks it’s contending with.

In a short time, we will be announcing plans for the summer. This will entail taking BA into the communities of the oppressed, as well as going to conferences, cultural events, and elsewhere with the film and the fall programs. Following up with these plans with those students who do come forward in this period will be critical.

It will be important during this whole next period that people have organized ways to engage the new communism. This may mean showings and discussions of REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! (see “Showing the BA Film at the Revolution Club Organizing Center in Chicago”), study groups around THE NEW COMMUNISM, or forums on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, or single sessions on quotes from or chapters of BAsics (see “Discussion at Revolution Books in Berkeley: Revolution, Religion and Epistemology”).

At the same time, the Party needs to be transforming itself—qualitatively, in line with the “The New Communism Could Change Everything—If...” polemic, and quantitatively, through a growing stream of people coming forward to build and join this Party.

A Final Note

In the plan above, we’ve broken things down into components. We’ve mainly discussed things from the standpoint of the situation as we go online, April 16. But the world is more complex than that. Components form part of a larger, fluidly dynamic process. The larger world is constantly changing—with new phenomena emerging, other contradictions intensifying or receding, etc. We have to be ready for anything... alive to the changes, and seeking out the possibilities beneath the surface of those changes, for profound social transformation. This has to be treated as a living, dynamic plan.

To return to an earlier point, we have to be able to say “yes!” with real substance at every key juncture along the way to whether we are, for real, getting toward that needed geometric progression of the new communism, spreading and taking root to an unprecedented degree in the coming period.

Who will do this? You, who are reading this article... and the people whom you reach with word of this emancipating framework, the new communism, and the revolutionary leader who brought it forward, Bob Avakian.