"The film brings you up close inside Cornel West's and Bob Avakian's dialogue: the passion, the audacity, the science, the morality, the revolutionary substance. Two courageous voices modeling a morality that refuses to accept injustice – pouring heart and soul into standing together challenging all of us to fight for a world worthy of humanity."

Andy Zee,
co-director of the film


BA Speaks

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

BAsics 1:13

Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

What Humanity Needs

At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks, a younger generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward.

Special Issue

People need the truth about the communist revolution. The REAL truth. At a time when people are rising up in many places all over the world and seeking out ways forward, THIS alternative is ruled out of order. At a time when even more people are agonizing over and raising big questions about the future, THIS alternative is constantly slandered and maligned and lied about, while those who defend it are given no space to reply.

Contains Interview with Raymond Lotta, Timeline of The REAL History of Communist Revolution, and more...


Cold, Calculated Murder in the Mediterranean

April 27, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On the night of April 18, a ship packed with desperate migrants sank in the deep cold waters of the Mediterranean Sea off the shore of Libya. While the total number of people on board will never be known, estimates range from 750 to 950 people. Only 28 survived.

Press accounts focused on the horrific conditions on the boat itself. Survivors reported that hundreds of people were locked in the hold of the ship. European leaders—including the rulers of Italy, who have cut back on what were already minimalist rescue missions—issued the shallowest of statements of regret while blaming the smugglers who run the boats and proposing increasingly militarized moves against migrants.

Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"

Lost in the hypocrisy and finger-pointing was the essential reality that the hundreds of deaths were a direct and immediate result of Italy and other European powers cutting back on the rescue operations they maintain in the Mediterranean Sea in order to send a deadly message to those driven to desperate, dangerous attempts to cross the sea to their shores: Don’t expect to be rescued.

Beyond that, what is obscured in how this is all being portrayed in ruling class media is that the hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees attempting to get into Europe from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East by land or by sea are driven on their perilous journeys by the workings of a system that has brought grotesque inequality and endless unjust wars to the world.

A Cold Calculation: Drown the Refugees

Last year, more than 3,000 migrants died in attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea, which separates North Africa from southern Europe. But instead of taking steps to save lives, Italy radically cut back on its “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) mission that provided an already abysmal level of search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

Everyone knew this would lead to more deaths. Tineke Strik, rapporteur for the human rights body of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, quoted Frontex, the EU border force: “‘I would expect many more sea deaths the moment that Mare Nostrum is withdrawn.’” Michael Diedring, the secretary-general of the European Council for Refugees, said the result of the shutdown of Mare Nostrum would be “multiples of the 3,000 that have already perished.” (Guardian, October 31, 2014)

Nor did the other powers of the European Union step in to rescue refugees drowning in the Mediterranean. The cold calculations of the British government were spelled out by a Foreign Office minister who said: “We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean,” because that might serve as “an unintended ‘pull factor.’” (Guardian, October 27, 2014)

A columnist in the British newspaper The Telegraph wrote with angry irony: “Every year, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children seeking sanctuary from the chaos and carnage of places like Syria and Libya wash up in their ramshackle craft on the Mediterranean coastline. The countries that constitute their destination—Italy, Greece, Spain—have found themselves on the front line of a mini-humanitarian crisis. But our politicians have now found the answer. And it’s a bold one. We’re going to take those refugees, and we’re going to drown them.” (October 28, 2014)

And so far, more than 1,700 migrants perished in the Mediterranean since the start of this year—more than 30 times higher than during the same period of 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Persecuted in Europe

The journey to Europe for refugees is treacherous. But even for those who make it to Europe alive, the situation is another dimension of the human rights catastrophe. Even a beginning exposure of that hell is beyond the scope of this article, but in Greece, tens of thousands of refugees are treated as scapegoats for economic crisis and massive unemployment, and are subjected to unconstrained violence by police and closely connected fascist movements.

Refugees picked up in the Mediterranean often end up in dehumanizing and brutal concentration camps. In December 2013, an exposé that revealed naked African asylum seekers being hosed down with disinfectant in freezing conditions on the Italian island of Lampedusa was characterized by the local mayor as being reminiscent of a Nazi concentration camp. (See “Italy’s ‘appalling’ treatment of migrants revealed in Lampedusa footage,” The Telegraph,December 18, 2013.)

Driven by a System of Inequality and Brutality

Regardless of the factors driving the wave of refugees to Europe, the response of the European powers would be inhuman and obscene. But adding another layer of outrage is the fact that overwhelmingly those driven to Europe are direct victims of imperialist policies and wars.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte insisted with fascist arrogance that Europe should not take the brunt of blame for deaths in the Mediterranean: “We also ask that Africa, the source of the problem, also collectively takes up its responsibility,” Rutte said. “Last time I checked Libya was in Africa, not Europe.”

But that distinction has never been honored by the European powers when they invaded and plundered Africa and literally enslaved millions and millions of people.

To take just one example: From the end of the 19th century through the turn of the 20th century, King Leopold II of Belgium ran the Congo as his private property, amassing an enormous fortune by turning most adult males into slaves to collect wild rubber and ivory from the jungle. Leopold’s army forced hundreds of thousands of slaves to work in killing conditions where many died from exhaustion. Slave uprisings were put down with extreme bloodthirstiness. The Belgians worked thousands to death in gold mines. It has been estimated that about 10 million people out of a population of 20 million lost their lives under King Leopold’s barbarous rule.

And European and U.S. plunder of the world is not just history, it is present day reality and a very immediate, direct impetus for people to flee their homelands.

Libya, the transit point for many refugees, has been reduced to a country torn to shreds by regional warlords and reactionary forces backed by various regional and global oppressors since being “liberated” by massive bombing by a coalition of the U.S. and European powers—a coalition that included the U.S., France, Britain, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, and Italy.

Apparently the fact that Libya is “in Africa not Europe” didn’t stop Western powers from bombing residences, mosques, medical facilities, TV stations, and other civilian infrastructure (war crimes) in a move to install a more compliant pro-Western-imperialist regime. The move backfired on the West in many ways, but it produced a nightmare of sectarian bloodshed and societal breakdown for the Libyan people.

The biggest source of refugees entering Europe is Syria, where a reactionary, multi-part civil war is driven by clashing oppressive global and regional powers, most decisively by the U.S. and its Western European allies. 3.8 million (out of a total prewar population of 22 million) in that ransacked and decimated country have been driven to seek refuge in hellish camps in the desert in places like Jordan and Lebanon. Those who can make it to Libya are among those dying at sea or surviving the dangerous journey to reach Europe.

Another significant source of refugees is Yemen, where for nearly a month now, the U.S.’s close ally Saudi Arabia has been pummeling the country with an air assault. According to the World Health Organization, “Health facilities are struggling to function as they face increasing shortages of life-saving medicines and vital health supplies, frequent disruptions in power supply and lack of fuel for generators. Lack of fuel has also disrupted functionality of ambulances and the delivery of health supplies across the country. Power cuts and fuel shortages also threaten to disrupt the vaccine cold [storage] chain, leaving millions of children below the age of five unvaccinated. This increases the risk of communicable diseases such as measles, which is prevalent in Yemen, as well as polio, which has been eliminated but is now at risk of reappearing.” And a lack of safe water has resulted in increased risk of diarrhea and other diseases.

Another product of the Saudi assault has been the strengthening of Al Qaeda forces which, where they are in control, have made life unlivable for women. All of these factors are driving people to desperate attempts to reach Europe.

Go through the list of countries from which the migrants are fleeing and look up the history and current activities of the Western powers:

  • The Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea), which was a hotbed of contention between rival imperialist blocs in the cold war, and left to rot at its conclusion.
  • The Balkans—where after the U.S. and West European powers violently dismembered the former Yugoslavia, setting off sectarian massacres, they left the region in shambles.
  • Former French colonies in Africa—countries where the economies were strangled and subjugated to the French empire, and where imperialist domination has evolved to new forms of French and other European political, military, economic, and cultural domination.

A Moral Question for Humanity

In the face of the humanitarian crisis, the European powers have issued only the most shallow claims of caring, along with blaming “smugglers” who—while profiting off moving their human cargo—are tiny cogs in a machinery of global oppression. And with outrage growing over the deaths of 900 migrants, EU leaders proposed a limited increase in rescue patrols. Doctors Without Borders responded: “This proposal falls short of offering adequate search and rescue means and pursue[s] the same policies that have contributed to the current situation. Focusing on keeping people out by cutting their only existing routes is only going to push people fleeing for their lives to find other routes, potentially even more dangerous. We see no real safe and legal alternatives to boat migration coming out of this meeting. Without these alternatives, declaring war on smugglers is declaring war on the very same people the Member states say their priority is to save.”

In short, the European governments are moving to violently enforce the Mediterranean as a deadly protective moat. According to European Council President Donald Tusk, the focus of EU naval actions will be “to capture and destroy the smugglers’ vessels before they can be used.” (AFP, April 4, 2015)

And European governments are moving to make life even more forbidding for those refugees who reach the shores of Italy, Greece, Spain, or other countries bordering the Third World. As noted, every European country has sections of its ruling class fostering fascist movements physically targeting immigrants. Combined with official government persecution, police brutality, and repression, Europe is sending a message to the victims of its exploitation, oppression, and wars: Get back to where you came from! And many of the countries through which immigrants pass are rounding them up and putting them in concentration camps.

There is a profound moral question posed here: Whether to be acquiescent in the violent enforcement of the gaping divisions in this brutally unequal world or whether to expose, denounce, oppose, and protest that, from the standpoint of getting to a world without any oppression, a world where humanity is not divided into relatively privileged enclaves surrounded by a world of misery and desperation.


Who Are the Refugees?

  • According to the UN, more than 207,000 people made the risky sea crossing last year, almost three times as many as the previous high of 70,000 during the Libyan civil war in 2011.
  • Of these, over 3,000 died, out of a total of 4,272 reported deaths worldwide on migrant vessels this year.
  • The numbers of those driven from their homes to seek refuge in Europe include 60,051 Syrians and 34,561 Eritreans.
  • Most set off from Libya bound for Italy and Malta, looking for work or, increasingly, asylum.
  • In December 2014, 24 Ethiopians drowned when their boat capsized in bad weather off the Yemeni port of Al-Makha, according to the International Organization for Migration. Thousands of people fleeing troubled countries in the Horn of Africa try to reach Yemen every year in the hope of making their way on to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
  • About 540 people also died in 2014 crossing the Bay of Bengal, out of a total of 54,000 making the journey, while another 71 deaths out of 4,775 crossings were reported in the Caribbean, the UN said.
  • "It took one Somali woman seven months and 4,000 miles to trek to Libya. From there, she hoped to cross the Mediterranean Sea so her baby could be born in Europe. She didn't get there. She was arrested as she was sailing north and is now one of 350 migrants being held in a facility just outside Tripoli. Other pregnant women fleeing repression have come to Libya—many fleeing fighting that refuses to stop. They, like male migrants, are willing to risk their lives on crowded boats to make the final part of the trip. The Somali woman's baby, Sabrine, was born a week after she was detained."
  • "About 8% of the recorded migrants between January and April 19 of this year are children. Of those, 70% are not accompanied by adults—some of them as young as 9 years old. Such numbers represent only people rescued at sea or caught once they reach land."
(Quotes and statistics from CNN: "Pregnant women among African migrants trying to cross sea to Europe")

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