Revolution #275, July 22, 2012

Brief Filed Objecting to Dangerous Mischaracterization of RCP, USA

The July 8, 2012 issue of Revolution addressed highly important legal and political issues focused up in a recent lawsuit initiated by several progressive activists, journalists, and scholars. As the article explained, “The lawsuit is contesting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012, in particular one of its key provisions, section 1021. The NDAA gives any president the power to detain U.S. citizens indefinitely in military prisons, without charge or trial. It is a very ominous and threatening development. On May 16, a federal judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs that section 1021 of the law is unconstitutional—and issued a temporary injunction blocking its enforcement. At this time, there is a further legal process underway which will determine whether this injunction will become permanent, preventing this section of the law to be enforced. But dragged into this mainly positive ruling is an erroneous and potentially harmful characterization of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and its Chairman, Bob Avakian.” (“Threatening Situation for the RCP and Bob Avakian: Letter Points to Dangerous Mischaracterization in National Defense Authorization Act Ruling,” Revolution #274, July 8, 2012).

In response to the ruling, a legal brief objecting to the mischaracterization was filed with the court by a lawyer. The brief included the following points:

  1. On May 16, 2012, this Court issued an Opinion and Order in this cause enjoining the enforcement of Sec. 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012.
  2. Mr. Avakian wishes to express agreement with the assessment that Section 1021 of said National Defense Authorization Act—and in his view this applies to the Act more generally—illegitimately gives sweeping powers to the government that constitute a serious threat to fundamental rights and liberties, and could result in people being arbitrarily subjected to indefinite detention, at the hands of the government, without just cause or due process.
  3. However, in the Opinion, the Court incorporated the following language, “Hedges also testified that he has previously associated with a group called Bob Avakiam Revolutionary Party, a Maoist group, which he stated he understands endorses the use of violence towards revolutionary ends—a philosophy to which Hedges stated he did not ascribe.... Despite that fact, Hedges understands Sec. 1021 as potentially encompassing his association with the Avakiam Revolutionary Party and thus, the statute already has had a chilling effect on his associational activities.” (Order p. 18).
  4. This Opinion contains an erroneous and potentially harmful mischaracterization of the Revolutionary Communist Party, U.S.A. (hereinafter referred to as the RCP) and its Chairman, Bob Avakian.
  5. First, neither the name of the political party nor the name of its chairman is referenced correctly in the Court’s Order.
  6. Mr. Avakian’s name is Bob Avakian, not Avakiam.
  7. The name of the party is the Revolutionary Communist Party, U.S.A., not the Bob Avakiam Revolutionary Party.
  8. Of even greater concern is the way in which Mr. Avakian and the party are characterized in the Opinion and the context in which they are being discussed.
  9. Mr. Avakian’s concern is that such mischaracterizations in the Court’s Order—and in particular the use in this Order of the phrase “endorses the use of violence towards revolutionary ends”— could lend itself to the false interpretation that the Revolutionary Communist Party, U.S.A. might seek to achieve a revolution through acts of terrorism.
  10. This is an egregious distortion of Mr. Avakian’s political philosophy and the RCP’s political agenda.
  11. In fact, the RCP and Mr. Avakian have, publicly and repeatedly, made clear their political and philosophical opposition to terrorism.
  12. Mr. Avakian and the RCP have consistently taken the position that revolution is only possible when there is a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people numbering in the millions. Mr. Avakian teaches that the initiation of, or advocacy of, isolated acts of violence, by individuals or small groups, divorced from masses of people, and attempting to substitute for a revolutionary movement of millions, is both wrong and harmful.
  13. It is the position of the RCP and its Chairman, Bob Avakian, that fundamental social change can only be achieved once millions of people are themselves desirous of such change and determined to bring it about. Prior to, and in the absence of, such a revolutionary situation, the real work of revolutionaries should consist in raising political and ideological consciousness of masses of people and building massive political resistance to the injustices of the prevailing system.
  14. In short, the RCP is a political revolutionary party and movement. Mr. Avakian and the RCP have been working for over thirty years to bring about fundamental social change in line with their actual philosophical and political views and principles. Neither Bob Avakian nor the RCP are terrorists.
  15. It goes without saying that to advocate philosophically for social change through revolution falls under protected speech and the First Amendment. It is part of the political discourse, and such speech must not be chilled.
  16. The mischaracterization of the views of Bob Avakian and the RCP, taken together with the specific placement of this paragraph in the Court’s ruling, creates a damaging false impression of the principles and practices of the organization. Given Bob Avakian’s position as the organization’s chairman, mischaracterization of the organization also reflects negatively on him personally. 

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