Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Readers Respond...

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Name: Someone who believes in justice

Comment: hi revolution newspaper, i have not written in for awhile now, but i thought i'd let you know about something that happened at my high school to protest the cuts of education. About 400 students walked out of class and into the high school quad, got into a group of 5 in a row, and walked to the town plaza for a rally. The students were holding signs saying "No cut in education, save our schools, and education is our future". The students were seriously angry about the school might be getting cut of teachers, programs, sports, and even the possibility of shutting the school down because of all the budget cuts. What this shows is that the state of California doesn't care about our education, but making the system rich for certain people and prisons. My personal thoughts about this is, if school's close, then where will our children go in the future? It seems that the only choice is the military or prison. We are caught in a danger zone where we are being casted away from learning and just being able to be human beings.

This rally and march opened up a lot of people’s eyes and raised people’s awareness to what will happen to education.

I'm in a journalism class collecting photos and video's to put on YouTube and send to you also. We are doing this to tell people what is going on and more people need to know so we can prevent this from happening. Others in my class, will be sending more information on what happened.

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Comment: I, too, am fed up with the extensive collateral damage that free, unregulated markets have wrought upon the world, and, unfortunately, Americans are so provincial in their thinking, that they extrapolate the condition of other societies from the comfort of their own situations, to wit..."I'm doing fine, therefore, everyone else must be doing fine, also."

It's that kind of thinking that perpetuates the problem..."feeds the monster" so to speak.

What scares me is the Marxist axiom "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." For many people this sounds like a classic recipe for slavery, i.e. "Maximum effort, minimum reward." And people aren't going to leave their comfort zones to fight for what they think will end up being just another form of slavery.

How will the new Revolution be different from the others? Will the average citizen have a better lifestyle and higher standard of living than the relatively impoverished conditions they lived in under Soviet Communism? Not to mention the restrictions on speech and ideas that were brutally enforced.

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Comment: yes, sports, whether olympic or professional, is all about big money and ad endorsements for toyota, gm, coke and gillette. it's about spending money, dog eat dog and machismo. sports is rarely about fun, comraderie and getting together to pursue something humanity might actually enjoy for its own sake. music has largely become the same thing, with pop singers cutting each other's throats to cut albums, be cool, maintain an image and make big bucks while manic fans drool all over them. how great it would be if a communist world could return sports into a pleasureful and joyous activity that all who would want to could participate rather than just another extension of the winner/loser paradigm so representive of modern, post-industrial capitalism!

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Comment: Good afternoon...

what news!! what’s going to happen with the children who go into “Bagram” ...what is the “Muslim” religion doing with these innocents...

And the United States oppressing, torturing, finishing off and minimizing the dignity of these people... when they see these atrocities why do governments get down on their knees to them?? Why the lack of authority and independence to think of the good of the people, of the citizenry...That’s why humanity is more and more degrading, and it cannot even be compared to animals, because if we did, mankind would be more animal-like than the animals themselves...

What is the USA’s goal in torturing, massacring and discriminating against people this way???

Bagram Prison, Afghanistan:

A Brutal U.S. Torture Center

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Snapshot of IWD activities:

Students in a high school social studies class in a small town in the U.S. studied the centerfold of Revolution newspaper on the oppression of girls worldwide. Then some of them made posters for International Women's Day, making up their own slogans such as: "Gender is Not a Role" and "Women's Rights Forever". These signs were carried by two teachers in a lively march in a nearby large city a few days later, captured in photos so the students could see the march and their contribution to it.

This week the class will view the movie "Persepolis", about a young girl growing up in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The class will discuss the couragous role women there are playing today in challenging oppression in their country.

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A letter from a Revolution reader:

A teacher, Robert, in an inner city high school here called me and told me about what happened in his class this week. He was excited by the result. He is doing an entire semester on "Comparative Politics and the History of China", with an emphasis on China before the revolution of 1949 and the world shaking changes brought on by that revolution. There have been lectures, student papers, discussions about the earthshaking changes in the social relations and the productive relations in China, and lots of time spent on the transformations in China over the oppression and liberation of women, ie. bound feet, forced child marriages, and then the huge steps taken after the revolution to liberate women. Anyway, always looking for ways to engage the students and break out of the usual, my friend decided to change up a bit and try some role playing, a kind of action in class.

The assignment was that the students role-play backward and progressive relationships between people; however it turned into gender roles between boys and girls. The first class tried but they made both relationships backward ones. They had a guy who wanted the girl to wear high heels and she refused. They got into an argument, then he shoved her and she cried. She goes to sit down and is crying and a guy comes up to her, sees she is crying, sits down with her and they walk away together. My friend said that there was no progressive position in that. He told this class that the guy coming along, and then she walking off with him showed no real coming to terms with the oppression she was crying over nor did they set new terms. Maybe the girl felt better for the moment but there was not much more. Robert told that class to tell the next class what happened and so they can learn from it.

In the next class for the backward relations, the students showed a scene where some guy goes in a store and harasses the girl at the register, makes sexist comments towards the cashier and asks for her number. He made degrading metaphors about the food and her body, that he wanted to consume her like the food. Someone else comes in with high heels and he makes advances to her, but she just wants to get her food and leave. He was still looking her over. She gets her food and leaves and he starts making comments about her hair and called her "bitch", "ho" because she was not responding. The progressive alternative was that 4 people met up at a coffee house, 1 guy and 3 girls.They sit down, conversing with each other, 2 were talking in Spanish about movies and the Latino guy asks her if they could see a movie. They keep talking and they all get up and go their separate ways. No sexist comments, and the girls felt comfortable and human. So Robert told them they portrayed progressive relations and they should tell the next class about it.

In the next class the reactionary relations were portraying an emperor, who was sitting on his throne and has eunuchs around him and there were people coming to him offering him, gifts to get his favor, bowing down to him. Then the students came up to date and portrayed a scene where girls were making pictures for a magazine, modeling different clothing, taking pictures. They then came out with the magazine, as though their pictures were in it. The girls took it out to sell it. They sell it to a man, who then makes comments to his girlfriend, "You need to lose weight, you should look like the women in the magazine. Now go home and cook me a meal." Then came the advanced, progressive part where the students showed a homeless women on the street and a group of people talk to her and say, "Times have changed!" and they take her home. Back at home they have a big group of people in an urban village or neighborhood and they take her there. The whole class jumps into the skit and in that "urban village" everyone is sharing, both men and women taking care of the children, playing with them. The children are talking about what they learned in school and learned about the past capitalist society and what they have now is so much better. The children tell the older people that the old system of capitalism is in the trash heap of history. The children are talking to adults about this while they are preparing the meal, both men and women doing the cooking. They set up 3 tables, sit down for the meal and everyone starts clapping for the way things have turned out after the revolution in the new and liberating society .

My friend Robert who is a regular reader of Revolution and distributes issues to students, including the "A Declaration For Women's Liberation..." issue, summed it up this way: "This class spends a lot of time discussing social relations. All we talked to was the oppression of women, the source and the solution. We have spent 6 weeks on revolution in China, the relations of people and the need for revolution for the entire year." I asked him why he did the role playing. He said," I wanted to get the students to have a different way of understanding the comparison and contrast of social relations in capitalist society and then in a revolutionary society, especially in socialist China. I wanted them to see the connection between theory and practice. Like in the movie " Breaking with old ideas", I wanted them to break out of sitting in class and writing about it on a test. Doing the role playing seemed to make the students feel more comfortable about breaking out of confining themselves to sitting in class and some of them not saying much. It worked out because after they did this activity they started talking about things they never talked about, kind of unleashed their thinking about the relations between men and women in this society and their own experiences. Several girls talked about their different instances on the street where older men were trying to get with them, harass them, making comments, telling them 'you are out selling butt' if they would not talk to them, and constantly having men stop their cars to try to get them to go with them. So the girls said they fear going outside even during the day. I asked 2 boys how they got their respect for women. They said they got it from their parents. Then a girl said she has an older brother who calls girls "bitches" on the phone and she doesn’t understand it and her mother tries to change him but nothing seems to work, so she said that a family is not always successful in changing these attitudes towards women. These relations are embedded in the economic and political structure of capitalism which I have taught throughout the year. This day was unleashing. It unlocked lots of thinking about the issue of women's oppression and liberation. I have done lots of film showings, outside speakers, formal class discussion. But this was different and it made a difference." And several young women in these classes are organizing themselves to come out to the International Women's Day march on Saturday March 13th.

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