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Articles in this issue (scroll down or click to read article below):

  • In This Issue… June 5, 2023

    Bob Avakian (BA) is the most important political thinker and leader in the world today.

  • SOMETHING TERRIBLE,OR SOMETHING TRULY EMANCIPATING: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War— And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed

    A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution

  • “WOKE” IS A DESTRUCTIVE FORCE in the political, intellectual, artistic and ethical life of society
  • VIDEO:

    “Woke” Lunacy Vs. Real Revolution — Sunsara Taylor Speaks at UCLA
  • From Sunsara Taylor: Donate to "‘Woke’ Lunacy vs. Real Revolution" Campus Speaking Tour
  • BOB AVAKIAN ON ANARCHISM AND ANARCHISTS— Some Good Intentions, but No Fundamental Solution, and Some Big Problems
  • Shameless American Chauvinism: “Anti-Authoritarianism” as a “Cover” for Supporting U.S. Imperialism

    New: Added Note by Bob Avakian

  • “DON’T WORRY ABOUT A NUCLEAR WAR— IF THERE IS ONE, RUSSIA WILL LOSE!” The Dangerous Demagoguery of Timothy Snyder On Behalf of U.S. Imperialism and Its Proxy War in Ukraine

    by Bob Avakian

  • Pouring Gasoline on a Raging Fire: Face-off Intensifies at Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine
  • IMPORTANT NOTICE: Nominations Now Open for Bootlickers Hall of Shame
  • The War in Ukraine and the U.S. Threats Against China: A Resource Page

    Dangerous Developments, Imperialist Power Moves, Rank American Hypocrisy

  • VIDEO: The Revcoms’ June 4, 2023 Fundraising Livestream

    Be Part of the $100,000 Revcom Fund Drive: Donate to Bring About a Whole Different World
  • News and Statements from the Donors to the Fund Drive Livestream
  • Report from the Revolution Club, Bay Area
  • Editorial:

    Raising Money… and Making Revolution
  • Andy Zee on the WE ARE THE REVCOMS Proclamation
  • Statement from International Grad Student in Philosophy, Columbia University
  • VIDEO:

    “A Challenge To the Youth” fromThe Bob Avakian Interviews
  • Revcoms Write on the We Are the Revcoms Broadsheet
  • Alert! Danger of Major “Legal” Attack on Black People and Other Oppressed Nationalities: Fascist Supreme Court Expected to Launch Major Attack on Affirmative Action Soon
  • Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution Standing Up to Defend the People at Elementary School Targeted by Anti-LGBTQ Thugs
  • A Response to Pamela Paul's Knee-Jerk Denunciation of Mao’s Cultural Revolution... Or How Critical Thinking Is Deleted in “The Decade That Cannot Be Deleted”
  • Scientists Sound Alarm: Pace of Climate Change Moving More Quickly to Cross 1.5◦ C Danger Level
  • American Crime Case #41: COINTELPRO—The FBI Targets the New Left, 1964-1971
  • American Crime Case #42: COINTELPRO—The FBI Targets the Black Freedom Struggle, 1956-1971
  • In the 1960s, the Government Spread Lies to Foment Violent Conflict Within the Movement The Lessons of That Time Need to Be Learned Anew Today
  • "Stop Executions in Iran!" rings out in Colombian streets "The struggle of the Iranian people is our struggle!"
  • From the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW:

    Rage and Grief Confront New Executions by Iran’s Theocratic Regime
  • From Atash/Fire, Journal of the Communist Party of Iran, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, November 2022:

    If There Is to Be a Revolution, a Revolutionary Situation Must Be Created!
  • From the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now:

    Inspiring Protests by Groups of Political Prisoners: “Executions Will Only Strengthen the People’s Will to Resist”
  • VIDEO from The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show: 

    Excerpts from Q&A of “‘Woke’ Lunacy vs. Real Revolution” at UCLA: Identity Politics — What is Science? — MAGA and the Stakes of the Moment
  • VIDEO from The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show:

    Shilling for U.S. Imperialism in Ukraine, Dangers of Nuclear War, and Lessons from Hiroshima
  • From the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now:

    Life of Iranian Political Prisoner Nahid Taghavi in Immediate Danger Fellow Prisoner & Renowned Human Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi Sounds Alarm

    International Emergency Campaign (IEC) Calls for Global Outcry Demanding Taghavi's Immediate Medical Release


    In This Issue… June 5, 2023

    Welcome to the June 5, 2023 issue of Revolution.

    We strive to ground all the coverage on this website in the science, strategy and vision brought forward by Bob Avakian, BA, the most important thinker and leader in the world today. The method and approach developed by BA enables us to analyze the underlying dynamics and driving forces of events, to go up against and lay bare the false paths that are out there, and to lay the foundations of the revolution humanity so urgently needs. The race against time we face is one of bringing forward millions for revolution in the next few years to meet the challenge of making revolution in these times. The keys to this are laid out by BA in a number of critical works, especially Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed. A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution, and now, in the recent Bob Avakian Interviews on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show on YouTube. Without grounding yourself in and returning to these works, along with other critical works for this whole period, you won’t really know what’s going on or why—with all the horrors today—revolution is actually more possible. And you won’t know how to go to work on realizing that possibility. 


    Table of Contents:


    U.S. Constitution: An Exploiters’ Vision of Freedom—Added Notes (and Brief Introduction), by Bob Avakian

    From Bob Avakian…

    “Woke” Is a Destructive Force

    No Nuclear War! It’s This System, not Humanity, That Needs to Become Extinct!

    Raising $100,000 by July 16 to Put Revolution on the Map

    Taking the “We Are the Revcoms” Proclamation Out into the World


    The Bitter Lessons of COINTELPRO Need to Be Taken to Heart NOW

    The Courageous Uprising in Iran




    Bob Avakian (BA) is the most important political thinker and leader in the world today.

    Bob Avakian is completely different than the endless stream of bourgeois politicians who are put forward as “leaders,” whose goal is to maintain one variation or another of this system of capitalism-imperialism that is founded on and perpetuates itself through cruel and literally life-stealing exploitation, murderous oppression, and massive destruction, in all parts of the world. BA is a revolutionary who bases himself on the scientific understanding that this system must finally be overthrown through an organized struggle involving millions of people, and replaced with a system that is oriented to and capable of meeting the most fundamental needs of humanity and enabling humanity to become fit caretakers of the earth.

    Bob Avakian 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."

    BA is the author of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, an inspiring application of the new communism—a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a new socialist society, whose fundamental goal is to bring about a world without classes and class distinctions, a world without exploitation and oppression, and without the destructive divisions and antagonisms among people: a communist world.

    Ardea Skybreak, a scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and a follower of Bob Avakian, speaks to the importance of what he has brought forward:

    Bob Avakian ... on the basis of decades of hard work [has been] developing a whole body of work—theory to advance the science of communism, to advance the science of revolution, to more deeply explain where the problems come from, what the strategy is for getting out of this mess, what the methods and approaches should be to stay on track and actually build a better world, to build a society that most human beings would want to live in. (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)

    BA is a leader who is firmly convinced, on the basis of a consistently scientific method and approach, that the goal must be nothing less than all-out revolution, and who at the same time has emphasized:

    the new communism thoroughly repudiates and is determined to root out of the communist movement the poisonous notion, and practice, that “the ends justifies the means.” It is a bedrock principle of the new communism that the “means” of this movement must flow from and be consistent with the fundamental “ends” of abolishing all exploitation and oppression through revolution led on a scientific basis. (From Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary)

    As a revolutionary leader, BA also embodies this rare combination: someone who has been able to develop scientific theory on a world-class level, while at the same time having a deep understanding of and visceral connection with the most oppressed, and a highly developed ability to “break down” complex theory and make it broadly accessible.

    A leader like this has never before existed in the history of this country, and this leadership is of tremendous importance for the emancipation of all humanity.

    What is urgently needed now is for continually growing numbers of people—in the thousands, and ultimately millions—to become conscious and active followers of BA, building the revolutionary movement, based on the new communism, for which BA provides this unprecedented leadership.

    Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America cover 240


    "BA is the author of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, an inspiring application of the new communism—a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a new socialist society, whose fundamental goal is to bring about a world without classes and class distinctions, a world without exploitation and oppression, and without the destructive divisions and antagonisms among people: a communist world."

    Click to read and download (PDF)

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    Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions,
    The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—

    And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed

    A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution

    In the course of this talk, I will be referring to, and digging further into, key points that are put forward in two very important documents which are featured on our website A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution; and an article of mine, following up on that “Declaration and Call”: This Is A Rare Time When Revolution Becomes Possible—Why That Is So, And How To Seize On This Rare Opportunity. So, for everyone getting into this talk, everyone who cares about the crucial questions it is speaking to, it is also important to take up (or return to) and get deeply into those documents as well—and to go regularly to, and watch the weekly YouTube show Revolution—Nothing Less, both of which sharply illustrate why a real revolution is urgently needed, and is possible, what are the goals of this revolution, and how to be part of building for this revolution. What I will be speaking to here is, as the title says, a necessary foundation and a basic roadmap for this revolution.

    One other point: I am going to say what needs to be said about the way things are, why they are that way, where things are headed, and what needs to be done to radically change this in a positive way—and, as part of that, I am going to bluntly speak some truth that is bound to offend some people. I do this because the stakes in all this are so high, and (to refer to a line from Bob Dylan) the hour is getting late, and there is no time to speak falsely now. But I do this, not out of a sense that people are so deeply caught up in, that they cannot break with, ways of thinking and acting which serve to perpetuate their own oppression and degradation, and that of others as well. No, I am doing this precisely out of the understanding that masses of people not only need to, but can, make a profound break with this—that they can radically change themselves as part of, and in the process of, radically changing the world, in an emancipating way.

    So, let’s get to it.

    Bob Avakian



    Learn more about Bob Avakian and the new communism


    cover of pamphlet Bob Avakian: This Is A Rare Time When Revolution Becomes Possible—Why That Is So And How To Seize On This Rare Opportunity


    Here is the heart of the matter: Many people—including someone like Martin Luther King—have argued that attempting to carry out a revolution to overthrow this system is suicidal, particularly for Black people in this country—when, in fact, Black people, and masses of other oppressed and exploited people, profoundly and desperately need this revolution. The reality is that such a revolution can succeed, but this is possible, particularly up against powerful ruling forces, like in this country, only in rare times and circumstances. And here is a very important truth: This is one of those rare times and circumstances.

    This rare time must not be wasted, squandered, thrown away. Rather, revolution must be actively prepared for and vigorously, consistently worked for—now, and in an ongoing wayto build up the scientifically oriented and powerfully organized forces for, and to prepare the ground for, this revolution.

    And that is why we revolutionary communists say:

    [E]veryone who can’t stand this world the way it is ... who is sick and tired of so many people being treated as less than human ... who knows that the claim of “liberty and justice for all” is a cruel lie ... who is righteously enraged that injustice and inequality go on, and on, and on, despite false promises and honeyed words from people in power (or those seeking power) ... everyone who agonizes about where things are headed and the fact that to be young now means being denied a decent future, or any future at all ... everyone who has ever dreamed about something much better, or even wondered whether that is possible ... everyone who hungers for a world without oppression, exploitation, poverty, and destruction of the environment ... everyone who has the heart to fight for something that is really worth fighting for: You need to be part of this revolution.

    We’re talking about a real revolution, not playing around with a few changes that leave this system in place and in power, while benefitting only a small number. As the “Declaration and Call” makes very clear:

    A revolution means a force of millions, drawn from many different parts of society and organized for an all-out fight to overthrow this system and replace it with a radically different and much better economic and political system, a socialist system, based on meeting the needs of the people and carrying forward the fight for a communist world where there will finally be an end, everywhere, to the exploitation, oppression, and destruction of the environment that is built into this system of capitalism-imperialism. Anything less than this revolution will completely fail to deal with the root of all the problems or lead to the actual solution. [Emphasis added here.]

    So let’s get more deeply into why this is one of those rare times and circumstances when this revolution is possible, and what must be done for there to be a real chance for this revolution to actually succeed.

    First, let’s get clear on these BASIC TRUTHS:

    We live under a system—the system of capitalism-imperialism (capitalism is an economic and political system of exploitation and oppression, and imperialism refers to the worldwide nature of this system).

    It is this system which is the basic cause of the tremendous suffering that people, all over the world, are subjected to; and this system poses a growing threat to the very existence of humanity, in the way that this system is rapidly destroying the global environment, and in the danger of war between nuclear-armed capitalist-imperialist powers, such as the U.S. and China.

    All this is reality, and no one can escape this reality. Either we radically change it, in a positive way, or everything will be changed in a very negative way.

    To be very clear once more: Changing it in a positive way means making revolution—a real revolution, to overthrow this system of capitalism-imperialism and replace it with a radically different and emancipating system. For it is also a basic truth that: In today’s world, to fundamentally change society, you must seize power—overthrow the existing state power and establish a new state power.

    And here is another very important truth from the “Declaration and Call”:

    We have seen the potential for revolution powerfully demonstrated in the summer of last year (2020) when millions of people, of all races and genders, all over this country, and all around the world, rose up together against racist oppression and police murder. We have seen this potential in the mass outpourings of women, in countries all over the world, refusing to put up with being abused and degraded. This potential is also revealed in the deep distress being expressed, by scientists and millions of ordinary people, about the continually worsening climate crisis and the threat this poses to the future of humanity—a crisis this system cannot solve, but can only make worse.

    As we have also seen, when millions of people do take to the streets—and, especially when they do this not just for a day or so, expressing their feelings and then going home, with things returning quickly to “normal,” but when they do this with real determination and in a sustained way—this can change the “political atmosphere and alignment” in society as a whole, compelling every section of society, and every major ruling institution, to respond to this. To again cite a powerful example, this was the case with the massive uprising in the summer of 2020.

    But, as important as it is, millions taking to the streets, even in a sustained militant way, cannot by itself lead to fundamental change—which can only happen if the system that they are rebelling against is actually brought down.

    There have been many situations in different countries where a huge part of society has rebelled, even taking to the streets for weeks and months, but the ruling institutions, and in particular the police and military, did not “break apart,” and the people were not prepared to take the struggle to the next level—so there was no fundamental change. There have also been disastrous outcomes when people rising up in a mass revolt have mistakenly believed that, simply because their cause is just, the armed forces of the existing system will sympathize and join with them—when in fact those armed forces continued in their role as violent enforcers of the existing system and sooner or later acted to forcefully suppress the people.

    No, the existing oppressive system must be overthrown—the institutions of violent suppression of this system must finally be broken apart, defeated and dismantled by an organized revolutionary force. That is what is necessary for things to go beyond just mass protest, however militant and determined, and become a real revolution.

    Speaking specifically of this country, even in a situation where millions of people are taking to the streets, in a sustained way, in determined rebellion against oppression and injustice, and even with some among this system’s armed forces sympathizing and identifying with this, it is very unlikely that this, in itself, would lead to those armed forces splitting apart and a significant part of them joining with the people rising up in this way. (This is all the more true of the police, whose ranks are filled with hardcore right-wing brutes.)

    It is a fact that one of the objectives of the revolution—and what would be a necessary part of the strategy of the revolutionary forces—would be to win over significant parts of armed forces that start out opposing the revolution. But the possibility of this, and the way in which it could be achieved, would depend on how the revolutionary process actually unfolded.

    Later, toward the end of this talk, I will speak to this more directly, and get into some key aspects of the doctrine and strategic approach that would need to be applied by the revolutionary forces in order to have a real chance to win, when the necessary conditions for the all-out revolutionary fight had been brought into being—including the approach to winning over forces from the opposing side, in the course of that all-out fight. And, as part of that, I will talk about how, in an actual civil war, fought between opposing sections of society, things could develop in such a way that the armed forces that had been the backbone of state power, enforcing the existing capitalist-imperialist system, would split apart in the context of such a civil war—and what would be the implications of that for carrying revolution to a successful outcome.

    But, before that, it is important to get into this fundamental question: What are the necessary conditions for a revolution? In basic terms, they are:

    A crisis in society and government so deep and so disruptive of the “usual way of things,” that those who have ruled over us, for so long, can no longer do so in the “normal” way that people have been conditioned to accept.

    A revolutionary people in the millions and millions, with their “allegiance” to this system broken, and their determination to fight for a more just society greater than their fear of the violent repression of this system.

    An organized revolutionary force—made up of continually growing numbers of people, from among the most oppressed but also from many other parts of society—a force which is grounded in, and is working systematically to apply, the most scientific approach to building for and then carrying out revolution, and which is increasingly looked to by masses of people to lead them to bring about the radical change that is urgently needed.

    To get into this further, let’s start by focusing on the first of these conditions.

    There is some important historical experience to learn from—situations where a ruling class was no longer able to rule in the “normal way” that people had been conditioned to accept, and a real possibility arose of putting an end to the existing system, even one which had been so powerfully entrenched that such a profound change had long seemed impossible. This has happened especially when the ruling class, or a section of the ruling class, of that system no longer believes in, and more or less openly abandons, what had been the “cohering norms”—the regulating set of beliefs and processes—of that system.

    An example of this kind of thing—which involved a significant change, even though it was not brought about by a real revolution—is the collapse of the Soviet Union in the years 1989-91. The Soviet Union was the world’s first socialist state, brought into being through the Russian Revolution of 1917. The truth, however, is that capitalism had actually been restored in the Soviet Union, in the mid-1950s—even as it continued for some time to maintain the façade of “socialism.” But then, in the 1980s, “reforms” were instituted that began to unravel this whole thing, and finally sections of the ruling class abandoned the pretense of socialism, and the country underwent a transformation to an openly capitalist society, dropping even its outward identity as the “USSR” (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). The same kind of thing happened in some Eastern European countries that had been under the effective domination of the Soviet Union—countries where there were massive uprisings, the ruling structures split apart, and the result was a change from disguised capitalism to open capitalism—a major change, even if not a real revolution.

    This, again, is part of a more general phenomenon where major change, and even a real revolution, can become possible (or more possible) not simply when there is a deep crisis in society, and not just when the ruling forces are seriously divided, but when they actually split apart, and the old way of ruling can no longer hold. Another example of this kind of thing is the creation of the Soviet Union itself, resulting from the Russian Revolution. This occurred during World War 1, in which millions of Russian people died and the masses of people overall suffered tremendous hardship. In this critical situation, the ruling forces of that country split, resulting first in the overthrow of the long-entrenched rule of absolute monarchs (the Tsars), but with an opening created for a revolution that overthrew the exploiting classes as a whole, including the bourgeois forces that were attempting to consolidate capitalist rule without the Tsars.

    Or, to take another important example, this time from the history of this country: Why did so many Black people (nearly two hundred thousand) join the Union Army fighting against the southern Confederacy during the Civil War in the 1860s? Because the country, and those who ruled it, had split apart, and masses of Black people could sense that, in this situation, there was a real possibility of putting an end to their enslaved condition, which did happen as a result of that Civil War.

    How does this kind of thing apply to this country now? As is becoming more clear every day, there are deep, and continually deepening, divisions not only in this country overall but among the ruling powers of this system. And, as I will get into more fully in a little while, one part of those ruling powers, represented by the Republican Party, no longer believes in or feels bound by what have been the “cohering norms” of “democratic” capitalist rule in this country. This is leading, and will increasingly lead, to further, deepening divisions and bitter clashes throughout society, as well as “at the top.” All the ruling institutions of this system will be increasingly affected by this. The polarization will continue to sharpen, with forces grouped around and led by the Republican Party becoming even more aggressive in insisting on imposing, including by violent means, their vision of what “makes America great,” with all the very real horrors, on top of horrors, that this involves.

    All this in itself will have contradictory effects—some definitely negative, but some positive, or with positive potential. And, as this unfolds, this profound truth will be more and more forcefully demonstrated: The crisis and deep divisions in society can only be resolved through radical means, of one kind or another—either radically reactionary, murderously oppressive and destructive means or radically emancipating revolutionary means.

    With all this, what is urgently needed, what is possible—and what must be actively, tirelessly worked for, in order for there to truly be a positive outcome to all this—is a fundamentally different alignment in the country as a whole: a Repolarization that is favorable for, and brings forward the necessary forces for, Revolution—a real revolution to overthrow this system, and bring into being a radically different and much better system.

    But why, and how, could it be possible to bring about such a repolarization for a real revolution?

    This is because of something that is very different, in a very profound way, from what has been, for generations, the “normal situation” in this country. I spoke to how this has come about, in the following from “Rare Time”:

    Even though “democracy, with liberty and justice for all” is a cruel lie, this lie has been crucial for the rulers of this country to keep things together under this system—and especially to keep people who are oppressed under this system believing in the possibility of making this system more just. This is why both ruling class parties generally agreed, for a long time, to work within the same framework for ruling this country—they agreed to accept the results of elections and bring about “the peaceful transfer of power” between the different representatives of this same system, whether Democrat or Republican.

    With changing conditions in this country, and in the world as a whole, over the time since the end of World War 2 (75 years ago), it has been necessary for the ruling class, in order to maintain “order and stability” in this country, to make certain concessions to the struggle against white supremacy, male supremacy, and some other oppressive relations, while at the same time insisting that this is all part of “creating a more perfect union” and “further perfecting the great democracy that has always existed in this country.” This has also been necessary in order for the rulers of this country to continue promoting it as “the leader of the free world,” which they say must remain the dominant power in the world—but which, in reality, is the most oppressive and destructive power, plundering masses of people as well as the earth.

    But a section of the ruling capitalist class, represented by the Republican Party, has all along resisted even these partial concessions to the fight against oppression, and has become convinced that these changes have now gone too far, that they threaten to destroy what has held this country together and enabled it to dominate the world.

    The Republicans have become a fascist party—a party based on open and aggressive white supremacy, male supremacy and other oppressive relations—a party convinced that only it deserves to rule, moving to manipulate elections and suppress votes in order to gain and hold onto power, refusing to accept the outcome of elections it does not win, determined to gut and pervert “the rule of law,” trample on people’s rights, and adopt what amounts to an undisguised capitalist dictatorship, ready to use violence not only against masses of people but also against its rivals in the ruling class.

    These Republicans have mobilized a significant section of people who believe, with an intense, irrational passion, that white supremacy, male supremacy, and other oppressive relations (as well as unrestrained plunder of the environment) must be firmly upheld and enforced. They have been driven to a state of vicious insanity, embracing all kinds of lunatic conspiracy theories, along with a crazed Christian fundamentalism, as a response to the threat they see to their entitled (or “god-ordained”) position and their insistence that further concessions to the struggle against oppression will destroy what has “made America great.”

    Every day, and in a thousand ways, the reality screams out that there is no living together with this fascist lunacy—and no one should want to! There is no way that any decent person should want to live in the society, and world, that these fascists are determined, that they are willing to kill, to bring into being.

    As I wrote in my New Year’s Statement, this January (2021):

    Biden and the Democrats cannot “bring the country together,” as they falsely claim, because there can be no “reconciliation” with these fascists—whose “grievances” are based on fanatical resentment against any limitation on white supremacy, male supremacy, xenophobia (hatred of foreigners), rabid American chauvinism, and the unrestrained plundering of the environment, and are increasingly expressed in literally lunatic terms. There can be no “reconciliation” with this, other than on the terms of these fascists, with all the terrible implications and consequences of that!

    Early in his campaign for president, Biden bragged about how, as a senator, he was able to work with white supremacist, southern segregationists! Now, he is still trying to work with the blatant white supremacists and outright fascists of the Republican Party. But, try as he might, they are not willing to work with him—except on their terms.

    Things are not as they were in the past, and the reality is this: The profound divisions, within the ruling class, and in the society overall, cannot be smoothed over—they are only going to become deeper and sharper, more acute and antagonistic. Here is the fundamental truth that needs to be clearly and deeply understood: These divisions

    cannot be resolved within the framework that has existed, and has held things together, for nearly 150 years, since shortly after the end of the Civil War which led to the abolition of slavery—they cannot be resolved on the basis of the capitalist “democracy” that has been the “normal” means of capitalist rule (dictatorship) for so long.


    This rare situation, with the deepening and sharpening conflicts among the ruling powers, and in the society overall, provides a stronger basis and greater openings to break the hold of this system over masses of people.

    It is extremely important to deeply understand this:

    As this situation develops, and the ruling class is more and more unable to rule in the old way, society and daily life for masses of people, from different parts of society, can become increasingly unsettled and chaotic, with frequent “disruptions” of the “normal” way things have been.

    And as “the normal way” society has been ruled is failing to hold things together—and society is increasingly being ripped apart—this can shake people’s belief that “the way things have always been” is the only way things can be. It can make people more open to questioning—in a real sense it can force people to question—the way things have been, and whether they have to stay that way. And this is all the more likely to happen if the revolutionary forces are out among the people shining a light on the deeper reality of what is happening, and why, and bringing out that there IS an alternative to living this way.

    This is a crucial part of how a revolutionary situation could be brought into being—a situation where it becomes possible to actually bring down this system.

    On the other hand, “left to itself”—that is, if the current character and dynamics of all this remain on the same course they are now on—this situation, the divisions characterizing it, and the outcome resulting from it are almost certainly going to become even more terribly negative. So, all this must be radically changed, in what is a relatively brief, “compressed” period of time—not just weeks or months, but also not decades. If things have not already fully erupted before then, the scheduled presidential election of 2024 is very likely to be a critical focal point and turning point, through which the fascist Republicans will attempt to gain and lock down power over society, and put an end to any possibility of a future “transfer of power” away from them.

    With the Republicans’ continuation of the Big Lie that the last (2020) presidential election was stolen from Trump, their moves to suppress votes, and their whole orientation that, in any case, with regard to the 2024 presidential election (assuming there is one), the only acceptable outcome is that they are declared and confirmed as the winner—all this has made clear that they will allow no “peaceful transfer of power” in government, unless it results in their coming to power. Growing numbers of fascist-oriented people in this country are prepared to use violence in pursuit of their perverse notion of “making America great again”—and the Republican leadership is ready to resort to this, if they cannot come to power otherwise. Already Republican elected officials, including members of Congress, are whipping up sentiments in favor of such violence and supporting fascist mobs who have engaged in this violence.

    In the situation of the 2020 presidential election, defeating and ousting Trump through that election was possible, and was important to do, as a tactical move to prevent the further consolidation of fascist rule right then. Even with that electoral defeat, however, Trump and his supporters nearly succeeded in pulling off a coup that would have resulted in his remaining in power, in defiance of the outcome of the election and the “peaceful transfer of power” from one section of the ruling class to another. And things have moved, and are continuing to rapidly move, beyond the situation that existed with that 2020 election and in its immediate aftermath.

    Further, this system’s electoral process itself works against the kind of fundamental change that is now urgently needed. Among other things, it lowers people’s horizons, restricting “realistic choices” to what is possible within the confines of this system and conditioning people to view and approach things on the terms of this system. Continuing to vote for Democrats, and attempting, through the electoral process, to prevent a successful Republican-fascist seizure and consolidation of power, will very likely fail, and more fundamentally will contribute to the continuation of things on the disastrous course they are now on, with terrible consequences for the billions of people on this planet—for humanity as a whole.

    As I emphasized in my New Year’s Statement:

    The electoral defeat of the Trump/Pence regime only “buys some time”—both in relation to the imminent danger posed by the fascism this regime represents, and more fundamentally in terms of the potentially existential crisis humanity is increasingly facing as a consequence of being bound to the dynamics of this system of capitalism-imperialism. But, in essential terms, time is not on the side of the struggle for a better future for humanity.

    Time, and with it the current momentum of things toward a disastrous outcome, is moving on. The time that still does exist must not be squandered in what would, especially now, be meaningless maneuvering within the framework of this system and its elections. This time must be seized, with the necessary urgency, to build toward the only resolution that can avoid that disaster, and wrench something truly positive out of all this: an actual revolution.

    Through the rest of this talk, I am going to speak more fully to what needs to be done in order for there to be the basis to actually make this revolution; and toward the end of this talk, I will turn directly to the basic approach to waging the all-out fight for revolution, with a real chance to win. But here a crucial truth needs to be emphasized: Everything depends on bringing forward a revolutionary people, from among the most bitterly oppressed, and all parts of society, first in the thousands and then in the millions, as a powerful revolutionary force, organized from the start and consistently with a country-wide perspective, impacting all of society and changing the terms of how masses of people see things and how every institution has to respond. Everything must be focused now on actually bringing forward and organizing this revolutionary force.

    The basic way to do this is laid out in the “Declaration and Call.” First of all:

    We need to urgently change the situation where not nearly enough people know about this revolution and are with it. We need to get this revolution, and its leadership, known everywhere. We need to challenge and seriously struggle with people right around us, and all over the country, to do something that, yes, requires real heart and will make a positive difference for real—become part of this revolution, and follow this revolutionary leadership. We need to organize more and more people into the ranks of the revolution.

    So what does it mean to go to work now to organize people into this revolution? As the “Declaration and Call” explains:

    Organizing people into this revolution means reaching out to all sorts of people—not just where there are protests and rebellions against oppression and injustice, but everywhere throughout society—spreading the word about revolution and getting people together (in real life and online) to grapple with why an actual revolution is necessary, what such a revolution involves, and what kind of society this is aiming for. This will enable people who are new to the revolution to themselves become organizers for this revolution and to recruit more and more people to do the same. On this basis, and through the growing ranks of the revolution acting together as an increasingly powerful force, it will be possible to attract and organize the necessary numbers, and build up the necessary strength, to be in the position to do what needs to be done.

    We need to struggle hard with people to take up the orientation and strategy, the values and goals, for this revolution, and dedicate themselves to working for this revolution, while we unite growing numbers to fight the abuse, brutality and destruction perpetrated by this system, and through all this get thousands and then millions of people prepared and steeled to do away with this system that brings so much hell to people. We need to wield this growing revolutionary force to stand up to this system and its murderous enforcers and to change the whole “terrain” (the political, social and cultural situation and “atmosphere”) throughout society, in order to weaken the hold of this system over people, win people away from acting to strengthen and enforce this system, and create the best possible conditions for this revolution to succeed.

    Along with that, this basic understanding and approach needs to be consistently applied:

    An important principle and method in organizing people into the revolution is the understanding that, while revolution requires serious commitment, people’s level of commitment will, at any given time, “essentially correspond to and [be] grounded in what aspirations have been awakened, or brought forward [in them], and what they are coming to understand is required in relation to that,” and this commitment “should proceed from what they themselves have been won (yes, won through struggle, even at times sharp struggle) to see as a necessary and essential contribution to the revolution.” People can start with basic tasks that they can readily carry out and feel confident doing which make a real contribution to building the revolution, and can learn to take on more responsibility as they gain more experience and a deeper understanding. The important thing is that they are part of the process of building the revolution, together with others. These principles and methods should be kept clearly in mind and applied at all stages of people’s involvement with the revolution, to enable them to continue advancing in understanding and commitment.

    (That is from Part II of my speech Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.)

    As the “Declaration and Call” makes clear, in order to win masses of people to revolution, there is a tremendous amount of struggle that needs to go on, not just against the system that is the source of the horrors that people are continually subjected to, but also against ways of thinking and acting among the people that actually “internalize,” and serve to perpetuate, this system and the ways of thinking it promotes, with its monstrously oppressive relations and putrid values—ways of thinking and acting that work against the repolarization that is urgently needed to have a real chance at seizing on this rare opportunity to make revolution.

    In Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis, I pointed to the characterization of the current polarization by the fascist former Republican congressman Steve King—that there is a lot of talk about another civil war, and one side (the fascist side) is heavily armed (with 8 trillion bullets) while the other (“woke”) side can’t decide which bathroom to use. Even as this involves some real distortion, and definite slander against trans people, there is a demented insight, and too much of the truth, in this observation by that fascist King. And, if this polarization remains essentially unchanged, it will have even worse implications, as things develop and further intensify.

    Very much related to and an expression of this, is the reality that today, particularly among the middle classes, things are still way too much in line with the words of the poet Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” It is fascists who have declared “this is war!”—who viscerally feel that the way things are going is completely intolerable to them, is an existential threat to a way of life and a country that they believe is worth being part of. And, in their demented minds, the government (or government that is in the hands of, or strongly influenced by, the Democrats) is working to continue things on this course, and is therefore completely illegitimate. At the same time, among what can rightly be called “decent people,” who are opposed to these fascists, there is way too much obliviousness, ignorance and ignore-ance—or even continuing denial—of what is going on, way too much being lulled by a sleepy sense that the way things are going is favorable to how they want things to go, or at least that “things will work out” in a way that is in accord with their inclinations. Or, to the degree that there is a recognition that this is not the case (for example, with the accelerating environmental crisis), this has led far too much to defeatism, cynicism, and passivity.

    But that is not all there is to the problem. As I also noted in Hope For Humanity:

    [A]nother element of this that we can’t overlook is that, while a lot of what [Steve] King describes applies in a certain demented way, particularly to progressive or so-called “woke” middle class people, there is another kind of problem with regard to more basic oppressed people, and in particular the youth—a big problem that their guns are now aimed at each other ... this is something that needs to be radically transformed in building a movement for an actual revolution.

    I will have more to say that relates to this, later. But here it is important to call attention to what has been, so far at least, the “soft” treatment of those who took part in the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol and Trump’s attempted coup—the low level charges and lenient sentences being handed down in the court cases around this, as well as the fact that there has been no move to indict Trump and other top fascist political figures. This calls to mind the way things were handled in Germany, with the rise of the NAZI fascist movement there, headed by Hitler. In the 1920s, Hitler led what came to be called the “Beer Hall Putsch”—a clumsy attempt to come to power through a poorly organized coup that lacked the necessary planning and support. But Hitler in particular was treated very leniently, and this “Beer Hall Putsch” became in effect a dress rehearsal for the later seizure and consolidation of power by the NAZIs, the crushing of any effective opposition, and all the horrific NAZI atrocities that followed. (The parallel is captured in what some people today have put forward regarding the coup attempt by Trump and his supporters in the aftermath of the 2020 election, and in particular the storming of the Capitol on January 6: “What do you call a failed coup? A dress rehearsal!”)

    Meanwhile, what is the situation “on the other side of the divide,” and particularly among people who claim to be “woke”? It must be bluntly said that “woke” is becoming a joke—a bad joke. The slogan we revcoms have raised, “You Think You’re Woke But You’re Sleepwalking Through A Nightmare,” captures something very important. But it needs to be added that this “wokeness,” with its evading of and diversion from the real struggle that needs to be waged, and its substituting of “word changing” and “cancel culture” in place of this struggle, is actually contributing to and furthering this nightmare.

    A ridiculous, and outrageous, example of this is the ACLU’s butchering of a statement by former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg about a woman’s right to abortion: The ACLU actually replaced “woman” with “person” (and “she/her” with “they/their”)! This is part of a larger phenomenon which, in the name of trans rights, actually pushes in the direction of erasing women, conceptually. But rhetorically erasing the concept of women does not, and cannot, erase the reality of the existence, and the horrific oppression, of billions of women in this real world. What it actually does is undermine the massive, militant struggle that is urgently needed against the mounting attacks on, and the further fastening of the chains of oppression on, the half of humanity that is female.

    If the ACLU, and others, who have done good things in the past, continue on this course, they will undermine much of the good they have done, and much they could still do, and need to do.

    Do these “woke” and “progressive” people really believe that a focus on changing terms (nouns, pronouns, etc.) will actually lead to changing the world, in a positive way?

    Do they really believe that calling oppression “agency” makes it less oppressive (for example, when women are caught up in prostitution and pornography, does calling this “agency” on their part make this something other than horrific oppression to which those women are subjected, and which does great harm to all women)?

    Do they really think that having more “inclusion” of oppressed people in the dominant institutions and the structures of power of this system of capitalism-imperialism will actually change the fundamentally, and horrifically, oppressive nature of this system? (The First Black President... First female Vice-President... First Asian... First Latinx... First Gay... First Trans... First... SAME SYSTEM!)

    Or is the deeper problem that these “progressive” and “woke” people have just given up on, or never really thought about, working for change that would actually lead to ending oppression?

    With regard to “woke folk”—and in particular the whole “cancel culture” thing—it needs be said: Masses of people are being brutalized and savaged, the world is burning (literally as well as figuratively) and you are preoccupied with changing the faces of those who preside over these horrors, and spitting on people if they don’t use nouns and pronouns that you approve of, or in some other way violate the constantly mutating standards of “wokeness.”

    This ties in with the discussion in Breakthroughs of a certain attitude and approach—“striking a pose to intimidate”—that was sharply criticized by Mao Zedong (the leader of the Chinese revolution, and what was a revolutionary socialist state in China until his death in 1976, whose “little red book” of quotations was widely read by people all over the world, including Black people, youth of all nationalities, and others in the U.S.). “Striking a pose to intimidate,” Mao made clear, is useless against the enemy, and does real harm among the people. As I pointed out in Breakthroughs:

    [I]dentity politics, and in particular the posturing that all too often accompanies it, is only “useful” among people who will be intimidated by this, and in fact such intimidation does a great deal of harm. That’s what Mao meant when he said this kind of thing does great harm among the people. Intimidating people rather than winning them to a scientific understanding of reality, and what needs to be done about it, can only do harm among the people, and it’s absolutely useless against those who have real power.

    Along with this, it has to be said that there is too much of people being absorbed in “trauma culture”—where any insult or affront, or challenge to one’s cherished beliefs, is treated as actual trauma, and any real trauma that is suffered becomes a motivation to turn inward to focus on individual “self-care.”

    In Hope For Humanity, I emphasized this:

    The trauma that results from directly suffering horrific forms of oppression and degradation is very real, and no one should deny or underestimate that—but, instead of an individual “turning inwards,” this needs to be transformed into anger and determination to be part of a collective struggle to put an end to all the atrocities, everywhere, whose fundamental source and cause is this system of capitalism-imperialism.

    But, along with “trauma culture”—and I am going to call this out, even though it may “overlap” with some of what is asserted by fascists, coming from a completely opposite place and with completely opposite objectives—it is too much the case that, despite often ill-founded, ridiculous and even cartoonish references to “badass” this and that, too many people are being encouraged and conditioned to be “soft crybabies”!

    Here I have to say: Enough of “woke folk” who act as if it is actually oppressed people (or, as they like to say, the “marginalized”) who are fragile beings constantly in need of the protection of “safe spaces,” lest they fall apart at the mere appearance of a “triggering” phenomenon. And since when are universities and other institutions supposed to be places where you are “safe”—not just from physical violence of one kind or another, and from overtly threatening or clearly degrading verbal assaults, but from ideas, statements, etc., that simply make you uncomfortable?! How are you going to “change the world” if you are in danger of falling apart at things like that? Again, from Hope For Humanity:

    [I]n any real struggle to deal with any real oppression, up against powerful enforcers of that oppression, you are going to have to face the prospect of real sacrifice, including the prospect of being physically attacked. And if you think that you can carve out little safe enclaves, and that this is somehow going to lead to any kind of significant change in society, you are full of illusions and delusions.

    To add to the problem, this is often accompanied by attempts to sideline and silence others who, according to this scheme of things, occupy a “privileged” and not a “marginalized,” status.

    This is all an expression of extremely lowered sights—with a marked tendency to identify the “enemy” as people who may have more “privilege,” rather than the system of capitalism-imperialism, its fundamental relations, and its institutions of authority and power, which embody and enforce the terrible exploitation and oppression that masses of people here, and literally billions of people around the world, are subjected to.

    Here again we are back to Mao’s point about striking a pose to intimidate—that it is useless against the actual enemy and does real harm among the people.

    All this represents the influence of forces proceeding from a bourgeois (or petty bourgeois) outlook and aspirations—seeking a re-arrangement which will provide them (and perhaps some others like them) with a better position within this horrific system of oppression, and trying to force opposition to injustice into the framework and in the service of this objective.

    So, once again, with all this in mind, and with regard to the society overall, what is profoundly and urgently needed is repolarization—for revolution: winning growing numbers of people away from support for either side in the division among the ruling powers that are seeking to maintain and enforce this system, in one form or another, away from those promoting deadly illusions and self-serving goals which are dead-end, non-solutions for the masses of people.

    This goes back to the first of the three conditions for revolution—the deep divisions among the ruling powers—and more particularly that, with the conflicts among the ruling forces increasingly becoming really deep and sharp, masses of people respond to this not by falling in behind one side or the other of the oppressive rulers—not by acting in ways that serve to perpetuate and reinforce the oppressive rule of this system—but by taking advantage of this situation to build up the forces for revolution.

    It is true that there are a lot of very bad things connected with the present polarization and the whole trajectory things are on, and this could lead to something really terrible; but it is also true, and of profound importance, that it is possible that we could wrench something really positive out of it—revolution, to put an end to this system and bring something much better into being. But, once more, this requires recognizing the situation, and the current trajectory of things, for what they are—and responding in a way and on a level that is commensurate with this, is in accordance with the profound stakes involved—acting to change things, urgently, toward the goal of getting rid of this whole system, and replacing it with something radically different and much better.

    The reality now is that the fascist section of the ruling class, represented by and concentrated in the Republican Party, is actively and aggressively engaged in a “two-pronged” move to achieve and consolidate fascist rule. These “two prongs” are: corrupting and controlling the electoral process and key government institutions; and the threat and use of violence, including through the mobilization of violent mobs. These fascists are, for now, relying mainly on the first, but with the second (violence) as an “accompaniment” to this—which could become their main means, if that proves necessary for them. In any case, if they succeed, the full power of the government—including the executive power of the presidency, the courts and legal apparatus, the prisons, as well as the police and the military—will be wielded to crush any effective opposition to fascist rule and to forcefully impose its program of “restoring” America to its mythological “greatness” on the basis of aggressive white supremacy, crude and brutal male supremacy and suppression of LGBT people, xenophobia (hatred and persecution of foreigners and immigrants, particularly from what Trump infamously referred to as “shithole countries”), forceful assertion and chauvinistic trumpeting of American dominance and “the superiority of western civilization,” along with willful rejection of science and the scientific method, especially where it would interfere with unrestrained plunder of the environment, as well as people.

    Given the nature, objectives and actions of the fascists, there is the real possibility of actual civil war. But given the nature, objectives and actions of the “mainstream” section of the ruling class (as represented by the Democratic Party and media such as MSNBC, the New York Times and CNN), and given the current situation with those, from different parts of society, who tend to support, and politically tail behind, this “mainstream” section of the ruling class, it is possible that the fascists could achieve and consolidate power without a civil war, but with all the terrible consequences that would follow this fascist consolidation of power. Or, as emphasized in the “Declaration and Call,” in what would amount to a one-sided civil war, these fascists could carry out a slaughter of those they hate, including Black people and other people of color, “illegal immigrants,” “uppity women” and those who don’t conform to “traditional” sexual and gender relations and “norms.”

    In any case, it is a deadly serious reality that these fascists are determined to crush—as violently as necessary—anyone and anything, anywhere in society, that stands in the way of implementing their horrific objectives.

    This puts an exclamation point on what the “Declaration and Call” says immediately after this:

    This situation needs to be radically changed, to where there are masses of people prepared to defeat these fascists and to do so as part of getting rid of this whole system, which has bred these fascists, along with all the other horrors it continually perpetrates.

    The Democrats will never, and can never, fight these fascists in the way they need to be fought, because that requires getting into the real nature of this system, and bringing out the fact that these fascists, as grotesque as they are, are in fact a grotesque expression of the very system that the Democrats themselves are an expression of, and are working to perpetuate. Most fundamentally: The purpose and aim cannot be simply to defeat these fascists, as an end in itself, with the orientation of somehow returning things to the “normal” way this horrific system of capitalism-imperialism has operated for more than a century.

    This is not the time of the Civil War in the 1860s, when the goal of those fighting against injustice was to abolish slavery, and—in terms of who ruled society—the only possible positive outcome was the consolidation and strengthening of the rule of the rising capitalist class centered in the North. That time is now long gone. And this system of capitalism, which has developed into a system of worldwide exploitation and oppression, capitalism-imperialism, is long outmoded—long past its expiration date, long past any circumstances where it could play any positive role. The goal now must precisely be getting rid of this whole system of capitalism-imperialism.

    The character of a new civil war would have significantly different features from that previous civil war of 1861-65, where one geographic part of the country, the southern Confederacy, attempted to secede and form a separate country in that territory. Today, the forces of fascism among the population are again concentrated in the South, as well as in rural areas throughout the country; but, in the South and throughout the country, they are closely connected, geographically, with sections of the population that are opposed to this fascism. Any new civil war would be fought between opposing forces that would be in close proximity to each other—in a real sense intertwined geographically—around the country. This would have both advantages and disadvantages for the people on the positive side of such a civil war, and this would need to be taken into account in their approach to fighting that civil war.

    (The “Red States/Blue States” picture, which is constantly presented in the mainstream media, is very misleading in terms of the geographic and political divisions in the country. It does not present an accurate picture of population concentration—of which sections of the people are actually concentrated where, and in what numbers, within the existing states. Of particular importance, it downplays the concentration of people in this country as a whole in urban areas, including the suburbs around the inner city cores, and the concentration of masses of oppressed people especially in those inner city cores. It downplays the strong opposition to the fascists that exists among large numbers of people in the urban areas. This mainstream presentation of things is meant to reinforce the sense that the only possibility is the continuation of this system of capitalism-imperialism, and the only choice is between the two parties representing the ruling class of this system: the “red” Republican Party or the “blue” Democratic Party. And, by the way, with the color red historically associated with communism, the “appropriation” of this color in association with the fascist Republican Party is an abomination!)

    The current polarization, even on the positive side, among those opposed to the fascists, is not what is needed, and will not meet the profound and urgent challenge of these times. For the reasons discussed in this talk, there can be no real and lasting defeat of these fascists on the terms of the Democrats, on the terms of what have been, for generations, the “norms” of “democratic” capitalist rule in this country. Fundamentally, there can be no resolution to this, under this system, which will be in the interests of the masses of people, not just in this country but in the world as a whole. Once more, what is urgently needed is a very different polarization than what exists today—a repolarization—for revolution.

    And, once again as well—without being absolute about this—there is a limited time frame within which this repolarization must be achieved. If things continue as they are, with the fascist offensive by the Republican Party and its base becoming even more aggressive and powerful, then it is very likely that their “two-pronged offensive” will succeed, that they will utilize the changes they are forcing through state governments and key parts of the federal government, in particular the courts, to regain and consolidate control of the country as a whole, move forward with a vengeance to implement their fascist program, and forcefully suppress, as violently as necessary, any effective opposition.

    The urgency of this situation—and the urgent need for repolarization, for revolution—must be clearly understood, and forcefully conveyed to masses of people. This must be done in a compelling way, without hype (and there is no need for hype to describe the critical situation and urgent stakes). While it is crucially important to unite with people in rising up against the terrible injustices and outrages constantly perpetrated by this system, and to continually bring alive the possibility of a radically different and emancipating alternative, once again it needs to be stressed: It is necessary to wage a tireless struggle to break people out of the ways of thinking, and acting, that in fact keep them chained to this system and contribute to perpetuating this system, in one form or another.

    Fatalism, and defeatism—the belief that nothing can be done to change the terrible situation and bleak future humanity is now facing, that no positive radical change is possible—this way of thinking itself must be defeated, overcome both through sharp struggle and by bringing alive and popularizing the possibility for a radically different and better world, through revolution, which is grounded in a scientific, materialist approach to and understanding of the real world and the actual possibility for its positive radical transformation. Overall—and above all in terms of the basic masses, the bitterly oppressed people who must become the backbone of this revolution—overcoming this defeatism, and bringing about the necessary repolarization, must be carried out, and can only be achieved, through a powerful combination of fierce ideological struggle among the people, to win growing numbers to a scientific understanding of the situation we face and the actual solution to this, together with determined resistance against this oppressive system—all of which must be led to contribute to building up the forces and creating the political alignment necessary for revolution.

    While masses of people urgently need this revolution, it is all too true that, right now, the great majority of them are thinking in a lot of wrong ways. To put things straight-up, they don’t know shit and have their heads up their asses! This needs to be radically changed—and can be, but only through a tremendous amount of sharp struggle. As I have said before (in “Rare Time”):

    It is the responsibility of everyone who recognizes the profound need for revolution—and the rare possibility in a time like this to actually make revolution—to wage a tireless, and at times fierce, struggle to win more and more people to make a radical rupture with the confining and degrading terms of this system, and to take up, and act on, the revolutionary orientation and motivation that is put forward in the “Declaration and Call.”

    Instead of “staying in your lane,” and “going for self,” while this system is moving to even more decisively crush any hope for a world worth living in, people need to be looking at the bigger picture, focusing on the greater interests of humanity and the possibility for a far better world—and acting to make this a reality.

    Instead of finding excuses to go along with the way things have been, standing apart from (or even bad-mouthing) the revolution, people need to get with this revolution, and not throw away the rare opportunity to be part of bringing something much better into being.

    Instead of lashing out with individual acts of frustration, or attempts to take on this system with small, isolated forces that have no chance of succeeding, people need to pour their anger, and their hatred for injustice, into building a movement of millions that could have a real chance to defeat this system and make a real revolution.

    Instead of fighting and killing each other, what people need to be doing now is uniting to defend each other—opposing all unjust violence, not launching attacks on anyone but at the same time not allowing the police or “civilian” fascist thugs to wantonly brutalize and murder people. And people need to do this as part of building up the forces for revolution.

    Instead of snarking and sniping at each other, and being divided by “identities,” people should be working to unite everyone, from every part of society, who can be united in the fight against oppression and injustice, with the goal of putting an end to this system that is the source of this oppression and injustice.

    Instead of being a tail on the Democratic donkey—with its attempt to keep this monstrous system going, and to deal with the growing fascist danger, by relying on the “normal procedures” of this system and doomed efforts to “heal the divisions” that are deepening every day—people need to work for the revolution that is urgently needed, and deal with the fascist danger as part of doing that.

    Running through much of the situation today is the problem of individualism—“going for self” regardless of the effect on other people, and on humanity as a whole—which is encouraged and expressed in extreme forms in this particular society at this time, and is often combined and intertwined with a lack of hope for anything better in this world. Again, from Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis:

    Lack of real hope for a better life in this world is a heavy chain weighing down, suffocating and deeply scarring the masses of humanity, including the youth who are concentrated in the ghettos and barrios of this country as well as its overflowing torture chamber prisons. And the extreme individualism promoted throughout this society, the obsessive focus on “the self,” has reinforced the heavy lid on the sights of people, obscuring their ability to recognize the possibility of a radically different and better world, beyond the narrow and confining limits of this system, with all its very real horrors.

    Along with other negative trends, there is the way that people’s sense that the world is fucked up beyond repair, and things are just going to keep going to hell, leads them to just try to get what they can for themselves now, before it’s too late. So people need hope—not hype but real hope that is based on a scientific method and approach to understanding the world as it actually is and the possibility of changing it, in the way it can be changed, to bring a radically different and much better world into being, through a real revolution. They need the scientifically based sweeping vision, and concrete blueprint, for a radically different and emancipating society that is set forth in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which I have authored.

    They need the fundamental approach to understanding reality, and the basis and possibility for radically changing it, that is concentrated in the following:

    [T]he systems that characterize the societies that people live in ... are historically evolved. This means that changes in human society are based, and can only be based, on transforming what already exists in that society, on the foundation of the forces of production that have been developed at any given time [the land and raw materials, factories and other production facilities, machinery and other technology, and the people, with their knowledge and abilities].

    And even revolutionary changes—a radical leap from one system to another—can only proceed on the basis of transforming what exists. This cannot be done by coming up with ideas or notions about how society “ought” to be, if those ideas or notions have no basis in the existing reality.

    What is crucially important to understand is that the basis now exists to enable the billions of people on this planet to have the means for a decent life, worthy of human beings—a life that is continually being enriched, not just materially but socially, intellectually and culturally. But, at the same time, the way human society has developed under the domination of this system of capitalism-imperialism has led to a highly “lopsided” world, where billions of people in the world live in horrific conditions of oppression and misery, with millions of children in the Third World dying each year from starvation and preventable diseases....

    It is the productive forces that have been developed under the capitalist-imperialist system that actually provide the material basis to move beyond all this. But, at the same time, it is this system, with its mode of production based on exploitative relations of production, that is the direct barrier to making this a reality—is a chain on the masses of people throughout the world, and on humanity overall.

    That is from the article Why The World Is So Messed Up, And What Can Be Done to Radically Change This—A Basic Scientific Understanding. As I pointed out in that article: The resolution to this howling contradiction between what are now the conditions of the masses of humanity, and what is actually possible—the only resolution that is in the interests of those masses, and ultimately all of humanity—is through the revolution to overthrow this system and replace it with a socialist system on the road to a communist world. Bringing this fundamental understanding to people is crucial, in order for them to really have hope, on a scientific foundation.

    But the fact is that there is not only a lack of hope among many, but also a lack of searching—for an understanding of why the world is so messed up, and can anything be done to really change this. This needs to be strongly and deeply challenged, through the promotion of broad debate about these literally life and death matters, and a tremendous amount of struggle over the big question: what is the fundamental problem humanity is facing, and what is the solution?—or, put in basic terms, reform vs. revolution, working within this system, or overthrowing it and replacing it with a radically different system. This needs to be vigorously taken up and fiercely debated and struggled out among people in all parts of society—including students, academics and other intellectuals, people in the arts and the professions, as well as people with only a limited formal education—all of whom can be, and need to be, seriously engaged with these vital and urgent questions.

    To return to the current lack of searching: this is linked in many cases with self-absorbed individualism, either blindly and blithely oblivious or virulently poisonous. Once more from Hope For Humanity:

    Individualism is a significant factor and “unifying element” in much of the negative trends that play a major role in keeping people from recognizing the reality and depth of the horrors continually brought about by this system—and recognizing the urgent need to act, together with others, to abolish and uproot all this, at its very source.


    [T]he terrible suffering of the masses of humanity and the urgent challenges facing humanity as a whole as a result of the escalating destruction of the environment by this system of capitalism-imperialism as well as the possibility of nuclear conflagration that continues to loom as an existential threat over humanity—all this cannot be seriously addressed, let alone actually solved, by each person pursuing their particular individual interests, and in fact people acting in this way constitutes a major obstacle to bringing about the necessary solution.

    This individualism, in turn, is based, to a very significant extent, in parasitism—living in this country that is sitting atop the imperialist food chain, deriving benefits from the exploitation and misery of millions and billions of people worldwide. This applies not just to the section of people in this country that is really well off, but also to the large number who are scrambling to make it through the day, the week, or the month: for them in particular there is a kind of toxic combination of having to struggle and scrounge to get through, and at the same time benefitting to some degree from imperialist parasitism. The effect of all this is to make it seem possible, and/or to seem necessary, to ignore what is going on in the larger world. But, in reality, there is, and increasingly there will be, no ignoring what is happening in that larger world, and no avoiding the consequences of failing to confront and radically transform this.

    Yes, it is true: YOLO. But, since you only live once, you should make it count for something—something much bigger than yourself—being part of an historic revolution to free all oppressed people, and bring in a new day for all humanity, with whole new horizons of freedom and life with meaning for human beings, way beyond what is possible now, when we are still forced to live under this monstrosity of a system which denies a decent life to billions of people on this planet and has no decent future, or no future at all, for those of the younger generations.

    Parasitic individualism needs to be directly, sharply, and deeply challenged, as it is a major obstacle in the way of people seeking out the answers to the profound and accelerating crisis and potential catastrophe that people, not just in this country but in the world as a whole, are facing (whether or not they recognize, or acknowledge, it). And this individualism prevents people from acting together, as a revolutionary force, to wrench something positive out of all this ongoing madness.

    In both immediate and overall strategic terms, very much bound up with challenging this parasitic individualism is waging substantial, determined, relentless struggle against American chauvinism—the disgusting notion that America and Americans are better and more important than everybody else. As I have pointed out before, this is a poison infecting people broadly in this country, even among the bitterly oppressed; and a positive, revolutionary resolution to the current course of things cannot be brought about unless masses of people break with this American chauvinism. One of the main, and most ugly, manifestations of this American chauvinism is the sickening support, even among large numbers of “progressive” and “woke” people, for the U.S. military—with all this nauseating “thank you for your service”—a “service” which consists of horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity in enforcing the interests and objectives of the most exploitative, oppressive, and destructive social force in the world: U.S. capitalist imperialism. Combating this, and winning people to reject and repudiate this—among all sectors of society—is crucial now, and has definite strategic implications, in building for and then carrying out the revolution that is urgently needed.

    So people need to be jolted awake, to reality—to the reality of this system of capitalism-imperialism, the reality of where things are heading right now, with terrible consequences if things continue on this course—and the reality of the possibility, and the urgent need, to wrench something positive out of this, through a real revolution.

    Another important dimension of the straight-up, hardcore struggle that needs to be waged with people, including bitterly oppressed people, is spoken to in the following in Part 3 of my New Year’s Statement:

    Given the tight connection between militant patriarchy and fascism, it is not surprising that some (though clearly a minority of) Black and Latino men have been drawn to support for Trump, despite his overt white supremacy. (This includes some who are or have been prominent in rap music. While there have been positive forces and elements in rap and Hip Hop overall, what has been increasingly promoted is a culture that is full of, not to say dominated by, misogynistic degradation of women, as well as admiration for the kind of hustler gangsterism that is one of Trump’s defining “qualities.”) It is also not surprising that even significant numbers of women (mainly white women but also some Latina and other women of color) have been drawn to this fascism, as the phenomenon of the oppressed clinging to “tradition’s chains” that oppress them is unfortunately all too common.

    There must be determined struggle against the “macho” bullshit of all too many Black and Latino men—a “warrior mentality” of the wrong kind, which also characterizes far too many Native American men, in their own particular way, with their utterly misplaced, and frankly perverse, pride in being part of the same U.S. military that carried out the genocide against these original peoples in America. There must also be sharp struggle against the ways that, among the other half of humanity, which is female, the phenomenon of the oppressed acting in ways that oppress them not only involves clinging to highly oppressive patriarchal religious tradition but also takes the form of aggressively reveling in and flaunting what is objectively highly demeaning “sexualization” and commodification of sex. This is actively promoted among Black and Latina women—and is a definite negative trend in popular culture, including Hip Hop. It is also noteworthy that, as surprising as it might seem when looked at superficially, this self-degrading hyper-sexualization often goes hand-in-hand with its “mirror opposite”: religious obscurantism—a fundamentalist form of religion that blocks, obscures the light of reason. There is also a similar phenomenon among gang members, where gang-banging and other acts of degradation and self-degradation are combined with a heavy religious obscurantism, in one form or another.

    To far too great a degree, the “education” that masses of basic people get—and in particular the “education” that tends to “stick”—comes through religious institutions, and the promotion of obscurantist religion. This is a real problem, a significant part of why far too many basic oppressed people are susceptible to anti-scientific thinking, including crazy conspiracy theories.

    This “religious impulse” continues to exert a significant influence—is a significant phenomenon—among many in the Black middle class as well, including many who acquire a more “cosmopolitan” education, even at the more “elite” universities.

    All this is promoted and reinforced by the continually propagated notion that the very identity of Black people is somehow inextricably bound up with religion and religious institutions, in particular the Christian Black Church (the idea that this religion and Black identity are so tightly and essentially woven together, that they cannot be separated) and that, without religion and the Black Church, Black people could not survive, or thrive, in racist America. But, for the masses of Black people, “thriving” within this monstrous system is impossible—and merely surviving, while still being terribly oppressed, tormented, tortured and repeatedly brutalized and murdered, under this system, cannot be, and is not, the most that can be hoped for, or achieved.

    It is true that, although Christianity in particular was imposed on Black people by the slave system, the Black Church has at times, and to a degree, played a positive role in the struggle of Black people; but it is also true that it has placed very definite constraints on this struggle, channeling and limiting it within the confines of this very system that is the source of the oppression and suffering to which Black people have been subjected throughout the history of this country.

    As another dimension of this problem, especially with the undermining and outright gutting of public schools, particularly in the inner cities, in the realm of athletics—one of the very few arenas in which a few basic Black people can attain wealth and prestige—there is the fact that significant numbers of Black athletes now go through private Christian fundamentalist schools for their basic “education” (in fact, mis-education). And then, even as they take stands in support of struggles against injustice, many of these athletes also utilize their “platform” to promote the religious obscurantism with which they have been indoctrinated—which contributes to the situation where masses of people, who are influenced by these prominent figures, are vulnerable to all kinds of distortions of reality.

    We have witnessed statements and actions by influential Black celebrities, in sports as well as the arts, which reflect and encourage anti-scientific ways of thinking, including disinformation about and discouraging people from getting the vaccines against COVID, when Black people (and other people of color) are dying at higher rates than others from COVID, and the vaccines have been proven safe and very effective against serious illness and death from COVID. This spreading of anti-scientific disinformation is very harmful, both in its immediate effects, and in strategic terms.

    Yes, it is true that, in the history of this country, Black people have been the victims of horrific medical experiments, and still today they are subjected to discrimination, and at times uncaring and even harmful treatment, in the realm of health care. And, yes, it is true that Black people have been, and continue to be, subjected to vicious and often murderous oppression at the hands of government authorities. But all that is certainly true of Native Americans as well. Yet they have a much higher rate of vaccination against COVID. What they do not seem to have among them, at least not as a significant factor, is the phenomenon of prominent and influential people spreading anti-scientific disinformation about the vaccines and active discouragement from getting vaccinated.

    With regard to vaccines, and dealing with COVID generally, as with all social problems and their solutions, what is needed is an evidence-based scientific approach.

    Besides the great harm it does to people who are hit hardest by COVID, and to the overall efforts to “get on top of” this COVID pandemic, another very damaging effect of this anti-scientific, anti-vaccine disinformation is that it plays directly into the hands of the white supremacist fascists, who have been quick to pick up on, praise and promote this. As I have said about this:

    What a terrible situation where some Black people and other oppressed people can actually find themselves in the same place as those fascists who regard them as inferior sub-humans and want to deny them basic rights, lock them up permanently, or outright exterminate them!

    To a great degree, this spreading of harmful, even deadly disinformation is also an expression of rampant individualism—the notion that “it is my right, and an expression of my personal freedom, to do whatever I want, and no authority should be allowed to restrict that.” As I have also pointed out:

    This is nonsense—very harmful nonsense! Individual freedom is not absolute—as almost everyone will agree when this is posed to them in terms that do not run up against their individualism. For example, few will argue that someone should have the freedom to drive 100 miles an hour through a school zone when children are crossing the street. And any reasonable person will agree that it is not okay for white supremacists to lynch Black people—or for the police to wantonly murder Black people—simply because they feel like it—because they see it as an expression of their “individual freedom” (and “personal choice”)....

    It would be impossible to live in any society where “individual freedom” (or “personal choice”) were absolute. The question is: Are expressions of individual freedom, or restrictions on individual freedom, good or bad—do they make for a better, or worse, society?

    On the part of at least some of these Black celebrities, this irresponsible spreading of anti-scientific nonsense is also part of self-promotion—is an expression of the dominant culture overall, where opinions are “re-branded” as “my truth” and are put forward as being the same as (just as good as, or perhaps even better, than) facts, and people seek to build a following by spouting opinions, including many which are wildly in conflict with reality.

    But, again, the influence of religion, and especially crudely anti-scientific obscurantist religion, is also a significant factor in these harmful positions taken by some influential Black celebrities. In the absence of, and especially in opposition to, a scientific approach, people are left groping in the dark, unable to determine what is actually represented by different forces and where different paths will lead. Any rebellion in these circumstances is rebelling blindly, believing that you are striking out against things that oppress you (and others like you), when in fact you are playing into the hands of, and actually strengthening, the most vicious oppressors and ultimately the whole system of oppression.

    The religious obscurantism that is far too widespread among the basic masses is another chain of oppression on them, which needs to be vigorously and resolutely struggled against.

    And, while it needs to be recognized that there are many religious people who play a positive role in the fight against many injustices and forms of oppression, and it is important to unite with them in this fight, it is also important to struggle against the religious outlook in general. Why? Because putting an end to injustice and oppression, and uprooting the basis for all this, requires a revolution led by a powerful and growing force of people who are grounded in a scientific method and approach, in particular the scientific method and approach of the new communism.

    What is said in the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a fundamental truth—and there is a need to unsparingly drive home this truth: “Oppressed people who are unable or unwilling to confront reality as it actually is, are condemned to remain enslaved and oppressed.” (This is BAsics 4:1.) And the religious outlook and approach—with its misplaced belief in the ultimately decisive role of non-existent supernatural beings and forces—is an obstacle to applying a consistently scientific method to confront reality as it actually is, and transform it in an emancipating way.

    To put things in deliberately provocative terms: It’s time to leave that “god stuff” alone—that will never lead anybody to get free. We need a lot less of this “god talk” and a lot more talk, and action, for revolution—real revolution.

    Some people may not like my saying all this, but I’m going to say it anyway, because I’m not here to please people, or to make them feel better about their enslaved and degraded position—I’m here to bring them a scientific method and approach to making revolution, in order to free themselves and all humanity, and I’m here to tell them the truth about everything that stands in the way of that.

    And one big reason why I say what I say, regardless of whether some people like it or not, is because Black people, who have so long been subjected to the most horrific oppression under this system, can and must play a decisive and tremendously powerful role in bringing about the revolution that will not only put an end to their oppression, but will strike a powerful blow for ending all oppression, of everyone, everywhere. As I have stated before:

    There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.

    But this can happen only as growing numbers of Black people, together with others, take up a scientific, not a religious, viewpoint, method and approach.

    So, am I saying that there is no place in this revolution for people who continue to hold religious beliefs? No. It is an objective fact, which needs to be understood, that many people who take part in this revolution will still hold religious beliefs, of one kind or another—and of course religious people who want to be part of this revolution should be welcomed into the broad ranks of the revolution. The casting off of religious belief by masses of people must be a conscious, voluntary act, which will advance in tempo with the overall development of the revolutionary process and the transformation of society, and the world, toward the goal of ending all oppression and exploitation, all division of society into masters and slaves. But, again, there must be a leading force, and a growing force of the revolution that is solid core/hardcore based on a scientific, not a religious viewpoint, method and approach, and there must be generous-minded but consistent, determined, compelling struggle, waged broadly—sharply posing the need for people to take up the scientific viewpoint, method and approach of the new communism, in opposition to everything that is an obstacle to that, including belief in gods or other supernatural forces which in reality do not exist, and religious tradition which upholds oppressive relations.

    Here is another profound truth: Even with all the ways that the heavy chains of hundreds, and thousands, of years of oppressive tradition weigh down on the masses of people—and place a heavy burden particularly on the half of humanity that is female—there is a deep yearning to be free of all this, which not only leads to imaginary hopes of supernatural salvation but also erupts in unrestrained fury right in this real world. And that fury needs to be fully called forth, given a scientific, revolutionary expression—focused toward the emancipation of all the oppressed and exploited of the world, and ultimately all humanity—directed to fighting against the fundamental source of all the suffering: this system of capitalism-imperialism, with its suffocating and brutal, patriarchal male supremacy, along with all its other outrages. This takes on even more powerful meaning and urgent importance in the current situation in this country (and others), where the forceful assertion of raw misogyny (hatred of women) and patriarchal subjugation of women is becoming more blatant and unbridled, focused to a significant degree now in the escalating moves to even further deny women control over their own lives and their very bodies, with the right to abortion, and even birth control, being brought under mounting attack. Right now, this slogan and call needs to be taken up broadly and made a powerful material force: Break the Chains, Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!

    In relation to all this, these observations of mine, from a number of years ago now, not only have great importance in general and at all times, but are especially important now:

    The religious fundamentalists, of various kinds, make a point of recruiting in the prisons, and they come with a heavy ideological message.... It is not at all the case that people can only “lose their religion” by replacing it with another religion in some form. But there does have to be another explanation about the world and existence and why this is the way it is, and how it could be different.... If you want to rupture people out of shit, not only stuff that lands them in prison, but the daily shit they are caught up in, in the society, you have to have a really strong hardcore ideological thing to bring to them.... [I]t has to be coherent and systematic. It has to explain the world—and in our case we can actually explain it in a scientific way. That’s an advantage of communism over religion, even though religion has certain short-term advantages.... But we have the advantage of actually being able to make reality make sense for people. That’s a very powerful thing.

    We should not underestimate the importance, not only with prisoners but in general, of doing a lot of ideological work to really enable people to see the world in a wholly different way—really the way it is. To take the pieces of this puzzle that are all out of whack and don’t fit together—it’s like looking through a weird kaleidoscope the way most people see reality. And then it’s misinterpreted for them by all these different bourgeois and reactionary ideologies and programs, and so on, including various religious views. But communist ideology and its application to the world is a way of taking reality and having it make sense for people.

    At the same time, winning basic people, and in particular the youth, to revolution also requires making further critical breakthroughs in what I have called the “George Jackson question”—the problem sharply posed by George Jackson, a prisoner who became a militant revolutionary associated with the Black Panther Party during the upsurge of the 1960s, and who grappled deeply with the question of revolutionary possibility, before he was assassinated by the authorities. To a slave who does not expect to live beyond tomorrow, Jackson said, the idea of gradual change, and revolution in some far-off future, has no meaning and no appeal.

    This takes on particular and special meaning in a rare time like this—a time when revolution could actually be possible, exactly not in some vague far-off future, but through the swirl of the sharpening events and conflicts that are happening right in this present time.

    Here, again, is the decisive question of how much the organized forces of revolution are built up and have an impact on all this, in the direction of the revolution that is so urgently needed.

    To appeal to masses of people, and in particular basic youth, the revolution must become a growing, organized, disciplined, bold and fearless force which, through its scientifically based method, its sweeping vision, its emancipating program and goals, and its actions, is an increasingly powerful pole that will attract these youth—and fighters for revolution from all parts of society.

    There is plenty that needs to be done, and urgently, which requires real boldness and heart, in working for this revolution: powerfully spreading the word about this revolution, challenging people to get into this revolution, recruiting and organizing them into this revolution—going up against and breaking through all the bullshit that people are caught up in that goes against their own real interests—doing the work that needs to be done to transform people’s thinking, and their actions—standing up against the forces oppressing the people, waging the fight that needs to be waged against the atrocities of this system—doing all this to get ready, and to have the basis, to wage the all-out fight to finally overthrow this system, as soon as the necessary conditions for that have been brought into being.

    And, as the revolution grows in this way: There is plenty that needs to be done, and urgently, which requires real boldness and heart, to stand up against the fascists, and any other oppressive force, in their moves to threaten and intimidate, brutalize and even murder people. Let me make clear that I am not calling for launching unprovoked and unjustified attacks on anybody; but there is a right, and a need—and there is the responsibilityto defend the people who are oppressed and brutalized under this system, and those who represent and stand for what is right, and are being attacked because of that.

    In the six Points of Attention for the Revolution—which are basic principles that the Revolution Clubs, a key form of organization for this revolution, base themselves on and fight for—the final point is this:

    We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.

    Yes, this is something very serious: going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way. And, yes, a big part of this is overcoming how people who are already messed over, in so many ways, by this system, get caught up in yet another way this system messes them up: fighting and killing each other. This needs to stop.

    But it doesn’t need to just stop. People who have been caught up in this need to become part of something really positive—they need to become part of the forces for the revolution that is so urgently needed now.

    The frustration and anger that so many feel, especially so many basic youth, because they can sense that life under this system has nothing good for them—that, from the time they are born, they are locked down and surrounded by forces that regard and treat them as alien objects of fear and hatred—and that those with power look at them as scum who deserve nothing more than a boot up the ass and a bullet in the brain—this frustration and anger needs to be redirected to fighting the system that treats them this way, and has robbed them, and so many like them throughout the world, of a decent life and a decent future, or any future at all.

    Once more, there is plenty that calls, urgently, for great courage and boldness in doing what needs to be done: to be part of rising up against this system and getting ready to go all the way with revolution as soon as the time is right—and, as an important part of that, supporting, and defending, people who are constantly being subjected to unjust attacks on their rights and their very being.

    There are the continuing attacks on people and movements that are rebelling against racist oppression.

    There are threats against, and physical attacks on, health care officials and providers, local government officials (and their families!), as well as employees in stores, and so on, when they are advocating and implementing much-needed and life-saving measures, such as mask and vaccination mandates to deal with the continuing COVID pandemic. There are attacks on school board members not only for adopting these basic health measures but also for things like approving the teaching of some truth about the white supremacy that has always existed in this country, or allowing rights for trans people.

    There are the threats, harassment and attacks on women seeking abortions, and on clinics and medical personnel working to provide those abortions, along with the escalating assault on the right to abortion by the Republican-fascist party, and those it has placed in the courts.

    There are brutal and often murderous attacks on LGBT people.

    There are continuing moves, including with the threat or use of violence, to once again prevent Black people and other oppressed people from even exercising what are supposed to be basic rights, such as voting. (With a scientific method and approach, it is both possible, and important, to actively oppose attempts to deny people the right to vote, and at the same time win people to see that their efforts need to go, not into voting for representatives of this system that is oppressing them, but working to build up the basis to overthrow this whole system.)

    All these attacks on people and their rights need to be powerfully opposed, and people on the good side of this need to be actively protected and defended, where they are assaulted with threats and even outright physical attacks.

    There is the need to prevent the police from brutalizing and just coldly murdering people. Let us remember what was said by some people who witnessed, and even recorded, the slow-motion vicious execution of George Floyd: They agonized over whether they should have done more, should have acted to stop this blatant assassination of a defenseless Black man. Now, again, what I am pointing to is consistent with point 6 of the six Points of Attention for the Revolution—and, in what I am saying here, I am not calling for launching an attack on anyone. But there is no right for anyone, including police, to just murder someone—and there is a right and responsibility to defend and protect people from unjust attacks on their rights, and on their very lives.

    Imagine if, in these different kinds of situations, there were a force of hardcore revolutionaries, including basic youth, whose presence in a disciplined and organized formation made clear that no unjust attacks on people would be tolerated. But this must not just be imagined—it must be developed as one important part of the overall process of preparing for, and building the organized forces for, revolution.

    This must be taken up in a serious, scientific way—not attempting, at any given point, to do what there is not yet the basis to do, but actively working to bring into being the conditions where what was not possible before becomes possible, as the organized ranks of revolution continue to grow and become steeled as a disciplined force. Taken up in this way, this can increasingly have dynamic effect—with “reverberations” and impact far beyond the immediate situation, attracting more people to this revolution... which, in turn, will make it possible to have even greater impact... and attract even larger forces.

    All this is an important part of the overall approach that I have laid out in the course of this talk, which will enable what are today the small organized forces of this revolution to continue to grow—increasingly by leaps and bounds—in numbers, organized strength, and impact on society as a whole. This is what more and more people must be challenged, and enabled, to become part of.

    This brings up another important dimension of working for revolution—and opposing the fascists as part of doing that: It is necessary to sharply expose and oppose—and fight to politically and practically overcome—the reality that for white supremacists and fascists generally the Second Amendment, the “right to bear arms,” has been regularly upheld and given the backing of the law and the courts, and the support of the police and other institutions of the state; while for Black people, other oppressed people, and generally those opposing the oppression and injustice of this system, the “right to bear arms,” even in self-defense, has been actively opposed and suppressed.

    This is made graphically clear in the book by Carol Anderson focusing on the Second Amendment—The Second: Race and Guns in a Fatally Unequal America. This book contains (yet more!) searing exposure of the depraved violence visited upon Black people throughout the history of this country, and speaks to how the “right to bear arms” has never applied to Black people, and instead there has been the perverse “right to kill” Black people, on the part of the powers-that-be and racist whites generally. This cannot be allowed to continue!

    And it is not just around what is represented by “the Second Amendment” that a determined fight must be waged, but around the many ways in which the approach to rights that are supposedly guaranteed to people is applied in a highly unequal way, so that oppressed people, and those acting against the oppressive relations of this system, constantly find their rights attacked, “abridged,” or outright denied and suppressed. In waging this fight, it is important to recognize and, to the degree possible, take advantage of this contradiction: In reality, under this system of capitalism-imperialism, rights and liberties are determined, and limited, in accordance with what serves the interests of this system and its ruling class; but, we are constantly told that, under this system, there is “liberty and justice for all,” and the rulers of this system, or at least some of them, feel it is important to maintain this myth. Again, to the degree possible, this contradiction must be seized on, in waging the fight to defeat attempts by the enforcers of this system to violate what are supposed to be basic rights, in their moves to suppress people rising up against this system and its profound injustice.

    But, most fundamentally, this fight must be waged with full awareness, a scientifically grounded understanding, of the essential nature of this system, with the orientation and goal of working toward the overthrow of this system and the dismantling of its relations and institutions of vicious exploitation and blood-soaked oppression and repression.

    Once again, in order to make all this a reality, as this revolution is being brought to growing numbers of basic youth, and others, and they are being challenged to get into it, they need to be struggled with, hard, to get rid of the ways of thinking and acting that keep this system going. People need to “get their head right,” get their head out of their ass, and take up the scientific method and approach of the new communism to understanding reality, and transforming reality in a fundamental way, through revolution. This means not being just out for yourself, or those you can identify with in a narrow way (whoever that may be), but becoming revolutionaries in the fullest sense—revolutionary communists, emancipators of all humanity—becoming part of the organized and disciplined forces for this revolution, and nothing less.

    As we say, to “everyone who has the heart to fight for something that is really worth fighting for: You need to be part of this revolution.”

    So, on the foundation of everything that has been said so far, and in moving to the conclusion of this talk, it is worthwhile returning to, reviewing, and elaborating briefly on some key aspects of these big questions: Why this is one of those rare times and circumstances when revolution becomes possible, even in a powerful country like this, and how to seize on this rare opportunity to actually make this revolution.

    * There is the sharpening conflict at the top, and throughout the country, with society and the “ruling norms” of this system being torn apart, driven especially by the relentless offensive of the fascist forces. Yes, as the “Declaration and Call” makes clear, there are a lot of bad things connected with this, and it could lead to something really terrible; but, if it is seized on and correctly worked on by growing organized forces of revolution, guided by the scientific method and approach of the new communism, it is also possible that we could wrench something really positive out of this—revolution, to put an end to this system and bring something much better into being.

    * Bringing into being a revolutionary people in the millions—with an organized force of thousands at the core, leading these millions—is the key objective and necessary focus of revolutionary work now, in preparing to go for all-out revolution, with a real chance to win, as soon as the conditions for that have been brought into being.

    And here is another very important requirement in all this. In order for there to be the necessary force of thousands, able to lead millions—and more particularly in order to defeat the vicious repression that is bound to be brought down on a seriously developing revolutionary force, including the ability to replace leaders who are killed or imprisoned by the repressive force of the existing state power:

    It is a matter of strategic importance to develop a large core of experienced and tested leaders—not just “tens” but at least hundreds of such leaders, on all levels—firmly grounded in the line, above all the scientific method and approach of [the new communism], and capable, on that basis, of taking initiative to lead, including in situations of sharpening contradictions and the intensification of repression and even attempts at violent suppression by the powers-that-be, throughout the process of advancing the “three prepares” [prepare the ground, prepare the people, prepare the vanguard leadership for revolution]; and then, when the conditions come into being, this core of tested leaders needs to be capable of giving direction to thousands, and in turn millions, to fight all-out, in a unified way, for the seizure of power. Whether or not such a cadre of leaders—in the hundreds, at least—is developed, will have a significant bearing on whether or not all the work we are doing now is really preparing for revolution, and whether there is a real chance of winning when the time comes.

    (That is a crucial point I have emphasized in the book The New Communism, Part IV, “The Leadership We Need.”)

    This development of hundreds of such leaders must be carried out in the crucible of intense struggle in the tumultuous time before us, as a crucial part of bringing forward the thousands to lead millions. And, as the work of building for revolution is developing, these hundreds, together with the thousands they are leading, must be forged into a disciplined vanguard force, capable of leading the overall revolutionary process of preparing for and then, when the time is right, carrying out the all-out fight for the seizure of power.

    * Transforming the people is decisive in order for there to be a positive outcome to all this—and transforming the thinking of masses of people is crucial, is pivotal, in doing this.

    * At the same time, there is real importance to fighting the power—building powerful, massive resistance to the continuing atrocities of this system—and actively defending, and opposing moves to intimidate, and attack, those who are targeted by “official” enforcers of this oppressive system and “civilian” fascist forces.

    * The key, the most decisive thing: All this must be for revolution: carried out to build toward, and get in position to have a real chance to win, an all-out fight for revolution, as soon as the conditions for that have been brought into being.

    Once more: Everything depends on bringing forward a revolutionary people, from among the most bitterly oppressed, and all parts of society, first in the thousands and then in the millions, as a powerful revolutionary force, organized from the start and consistently with a country-wide perspective, impacting all of society and changing the terms of how masses of people see things and how every institution has to respond. Everything must be focused now on actually bringing forward and organizing this revolutionary force.

    And then, once this revolutionary force is brought into being, everything would be focused on how to actually fight to win.

    At that point, this force of millions would need to be mobilized and wielded in such a way as to make clear that it is going for a complete, revolutionary change—that it will not back down from this goal and accept anything less. In this way, it would constitute a powerful pole attracting and drawing forward even broader numbers of people from all parts of society—and it would pose a definite challenge and call to people everywhere in society, including in all the existing institutions of this system, to come over to the side of this revolution.

    And, through the swirl of this intense process, concrete work would need to be carried out to organize, train and prepare the initial fighting forces for the revolution, while actively, vigorously combating and defeating attempts to violently suppress this.

    Here, again, is something that is crucial to understand, something that is a hallmark of a serious, scientific approach to fighting to win, when the time comes: No matter how much the situation in society overall is changed, and no matter how much even the most powerful institutions of violent repression of this system are affected by this, with significant splits very likely occurring among them, the revolution will still be confronted with powerful armed forces of counter-revolution, from among sections of the official institutions, along with fascist “civilian forces” aligned with them. And it would be extremely unlikely that, particularly at the beginning phase, the revolutionary fighting forces would be able to confront and defeat those armed forces of counter-revolution by directly and frontally taking on anything close to their full force. That is why, in the doctrine and strategic orientation that has been developed to enable the revolutionary forces to fight to win, when the time is right, it is stressed that:

    [T]he revolutionary forces would need to fight only on favorable terms and avoid decisive encounters, which would determine the outcome of the whole thing, until the balance of forces had shifted overwhelmingly in favor of the revolution.

    This doctrine and strategic orientation is spoken to in some depth and spelled out more fully in my speech Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Could Really Make Revolution, with additional thinking provided in my article A Real Revolution—A Real Chance To Win, Further Developing the Strategy for Revolution, both of which can be found at This sets the basic groundwork for how, when the necessary conditions have been brought into being, a revolutionary force, mobilizing masses of people, could actually approach the overthrow of this system in such a way as to effectively neutralize and eventually overcome what would almost certainly be, at the outset, the overwhelming power of the armed forces seeking to defeat and pulverize this attempt at the revolutionary seizure of power. It speaks to how, when the revolutionary situation has been ripened, revolutionary fighting forces, with the backbone drawn especially from youth who have been won hardcore to this revolution, could be organized and trained, and provided with the means to engage and defeat forces of counter-revolution in encounters, beginning on a small scale, which would be favorable for the revolutionary forces—and how, on that basis and through the course of doing that, they could grow in strength and win over growing numbers among those who had been part of the counter-revolutionary forces, and then finally defeat the remaining forces of counter-revolution.

    At the same time, the development of this basic doctrine and strategic approach is an ongoing process. And throughout this period of preparing the ground, preparing masses of people and preparing the leading forces for this revolution, this basic doctrine and strategic approach for the all-out fight must be continually developed and made more “operational” in conception—that is, it must be further elaborated and further concretized, particularly in terms of what will constitute the actual pathways to victory—and, flowing from and serving that, what should be the specific nature and features of the encounters with the other side, particularly in the beginning phases, and (as far as possible) overall.

    As spoken to earlier, a big factor in regard to all this is the real possibility of civil war between opposing sections of society, and how this could impact the key institutions of state power of this system. If such a civil war were to erupt—or even if the deepening divisions in society were moving more directly toward such a civil war—this could have a profound effect on such institutions, with the real prospect of splits among them, and even the splitting apart of such institutions, with some parts siding with the fascists and others with those on the side opposed to the fascists.

    This possibility is something that the basic doctrine and strategic approach for the revolutionary fighting forces would need to take into account and encompass. But, in order for the revolutionary forces to win over, and incorporate into their ranks, significant numbers from among the ruling and repressive institutions of this system, and to do so in a way that would actually maintain the emancipating character of the revolutionary forces, and strengthen them on that basis, it would be necessary for the revolutionary ranks to be tempered and steeled, not just in terms of fighting capacity but in terms of their fundamental ideological and political orientation, as fighters for the emancipation of humanity.

    Here again is the very important point that

    This is not the time of the Civil War in the 1860s, when the goal of those fighting against injustice was to abolish slavery.... The goal now must precisely be getting rid of this whole system of capitalism-imperialism.... which has bred these fascists, along with all the other horrors it continually perpetrates, here and throughout the world.

    So, in the event of, and in the context of, a new civil war, the approach of the revolutionary forces, led by the new communism, would be to carry out the necessary political work, in combination with the actual fighting, to develop such a civil war into a revolution to achieve the goal of getting rid of this whole system, and replacing it with a radically different and emancipating system based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

    Above all, right now, this further emphasizes the crucial importance of working actively, boldly and tirelessly for the necessary political repolarization in society as a whole, and among all sectors of society, in a direction favorable for all-the-way revolution.

    In this same light, it is also necessary to take into account how a revolution in this country would have important international dimensions and interconnections. First of all, this revolution would of course not be bound by the present territory and borders of this country, which have been forged through wars of conquest and genocide. This revolution will inevitably be influenced by, and will in turn significantly influence, what is happening in countries to the south (and north) of it, with which the USA has historically been closely interconnected, and which in many cases it has dominated and plundered.

    And more generally, there will be the ways in which this revolution will be viewed, and responded to, by different forces, far beyond the present borders of this country. A serious fight for revolution in this countrythis country—would have the effect of a powerful political earthquake, sending seismic shockwaves throughout the world. It is true that one reaction to this would be that oppressive governments and forces throughout the world would see this as a serious threat to their position and objectives, and there is a real possibility that there could be moves by some of these forces to aid, or join in, attempts to crush such a revolution. At the same time, such a revolution would shake awake and provide a powerful positive shock to literally billions of people everywhere, shattering the sense that no alternative to this terrible world is possible. Overall, it would almost certainly contribute, in a very significant way, to a repolarization on a global scale.

    All this would need to be taken into account by the leading forces of this revolution, as an important part of its strategic orientation and objectives.

    In all this, and in everything I have spoken to in the course of this talk, this fundamental principle stands out: Revolution is a very serious matter, and it must be approached seriously and in a consistently scientific way.

    In Conclusion: Everyone who really wants to see the world changed, in a profoundly positive, emancipating way, and everyone who thinks about whether this is actually possible, or wishes it could be, needs to seriously engage what has been spoken to here, take up the scientific revolutionary orientation, method and approach of the new communism; become part of, and work tirelessly to build up, the organized forces for this revolution whose goal is nothing less than the emancipation of all oppressed people, everywhere, and ultimately all of humanity, from the horrors of this system and from any way in which people are exploited, oppressed, degraded and treated as less than human.

    To return to this crucial and urgent truth:

    This is one of those rare times and circumstances when revolution becomes possible, not just because this system is always a horror, but because the crisis and deep divisions in society now can only be resolved through radical means, of one kind or another—either radically reactionary, murderously oppressive and destructive means or radically emancipating revolutionary means.

    There is a great challenge that must be met, and a tremendous amount of work and struggle that must be carried out, with scientifically grounded determination and boldness, in order to make possible the emancipating revolutionary resolution.

    There is no guarantee of achieving all this, but there is a real possibility. And what we do—what all those who want to see a world and a future worth living in, where human beings everywhere can truly flourish in the fullness of their humanity—what we all do can make a tremendous difference in what the outcome of all this will be.

    There is the possibility, there is the challenge.

    Dare to become part of the forces for this historic revolution. Dare to work resolutely to make this a reality. Dare to struggle, dare to win.



    Bob Avakian



    Learn more about Bob Avakian and the new communism



    cover of pamphlet Bob Avakian: This Is A Rare Time When Revolution Becomes Possible—Why That Is So And How To Seize On This Rare Opportunity




    Brief Introduction:

    The following article by Bob Avakian was originally published in 1987. We are republishing it now, because it remains highly relevant in terms of understanding the basic nature of this system we live under—the system of capitalism-imperialism—and the role of the U.S. Constitution as the legal and political basis for this system of ruthless exploitation, murderous oppression and massive destruction. In this republished version, Bob Avakian has provided some Added Notes at the end of the article, to further clarify important points.

    * * * * *

    James Madison, who was the main author of the Constitution of the United States, was also an upholder of slavery and the interests of the slaveowners in the United States. Madison, the fourth president of the United States, not only wrote strongly in defense of the Constitution, he also strongly defended the part of the Constitution that declared the slaves to be only three-fifths human beings (that provided for the slaves to be counted this way for the purposes of deciding on representation and taxation of the states—Article I, Section 2, 3 of the Constitution).

    In writing this defense, Madison praised "the compromising expedient of the Constitution" which treats the slaves as "inhabitants, but as debased by servitude below the equal level of free inhabitants; which regards the slave as divested of two-fifths of the man." Madison explained: "The true state of the case is that they partake of both these qualities: being considered by our laws, in some respects, as persons, and in other respects as property.... This is in fact their true character. It is the character bestowed on them by the laws under which they live; and it will not be denied that these are the proper criterion." Madison got to the heart of the matter, the essence of what the U.S. Constitution is all about, when in the course of upholding the decision to treat slaves as three-fifths human beings he agrees with the following principle: "Government is instituted no less for protection of the property than of the persons of individuals."1 Property rights—that is the basis on which outright slavery as well as other forms of exploitation, discrimination, and oppression have been consistently upheld. And over the 200 years that this Constitution has been in force, down to today, despite the formal rights of persons it proclaims, and even though the Constitution has been amended to outlaw slavery where one person actually owns another as property, the U.S. Constitution has always remained a document that upholds and gives legal authority to a system in which the masses of people, or their ability to work, have been used as wealth-creating property for the profit of the few.

    The abolition of slavery through the Civil War meant the elimination of one form of exploitation and the further development and extension of other forms of exploitation. As I wrote in Democracy: Can't We Do Better Than That?, "despite the efforts of abolitionists and the resistance and revolts of the slaves themselves—and their heroic fighting in the Civil War itself—it was not fought by the Union government in the North, and its president, Lincoln, for the purpose of abolishing the atrocity of slavery in some moral sense.... The Civil War arose out of the conflict between two modes of production, the slave system in the South and the capitalist system centered in the North; this erupted into open antagonism, warfare, when it was no longer possible for these two modes of production to co-exist within the same country."2 The victory of the North over the South in the U.S. Civil War represented the victory of the capitalist system over the slave system. It represented the triumph of the capitalist form of using people as a means of creating wealth. Under a system of outright slavery, the slave is literally the property of the slaveowner. Under capitalism, slavery becomes wage-slavery: The exploited class of workers is not owned by the exploiting class of capitalists (the owners of factories, land, etc.), but the workers are in a position where they must sell their ability to work to a capitalist in order to earn a wage. Capitalism needs a mass of workers that is "free," in a two-fold sense: They must be "free" of all means to live (all means of production), except their ability to work; and they must not be bound to a particular owner, a particular site, a particular guild, etc.—they must be "free" to do whatever work is demanded of them, they must be "free" to move from place to place, and "free" to be hired and fired according to the needs of capital! If they cannot enrich a capitalist through working, then the workers cannot work, they cannot earn a wage. But even if they cannot find a capitalist to exploit their labor, even if they are unemployed, they still remain under the domination of the capitalist class and of the process of capitalist accumulation of wealth—the proletarians (the workers) are dependent on the capitalist class and the capitalist system for their very lives, so long as the capitalist system rules. It is this rule, this system of exploitation, that the U.S. Constitution has upheld and enforced, all the more so after outright slavery was abolished through the Civil War.

    But here is another very important fact: In the concrete conditions of the U.S. coming out of the Civil War, and for some time afterward, wage-slavery was not the only major form of exploitation in force in the U.S. Up until very recently (until the 1950s), millions of Black people were exploited like serfs on Southern plantations, working as sharecroppers and tenant farmers to enrich big landowners (and bankers and other capitalists). A whole system of laws—commonly known as Jim Crow laws—were enforced to maintain this relationship of exploitation and oppression: Black people throughout the South—and really throughout the whole country—were subjected to the open discrimination, brutality, and terror that such laws allowed and encouraged. All this, too, was upheld and enforced by the Constitution and its interpretation and application by the highest political and legal authorities in the U.S. And, over the past several decades, when the great majority of Black people have been uprooted from the land in the South and have moved into the cities of the North (and South), they have still been discriminated against, forcibly segregated, and continually subjected to brutality and terror even while some formal civil rights have been extended to them.

    Once again, this is in accordance with the interests of the ruling capitalist class and capitalist system. It is consistent with the principle enunciated by James Madison: Governments must protect the property no less than the persons of individuals. In fact, what Madison obviously meant—and what the reality of the U.S. has clearly been—is that the government must protect the property of white people, especially the wealthy white people, more than the rights of Black people. It must never be forgotten that for most of their history in what is now the United States of America Black people were the property of white people, particularly wealthy plantation owners. Even after this outright slavery was abolished, Black people have never been allowed to achieve equality with whites: they have been held down, maintained as an oppressed nation, and denied the right of self-determination. Capitalism cannot exist without the oppression of nations, and this is all the more so when capitalism develops into its highest stage: monopoly capitalism-imperialism. If the history of the United States has demonstrated anything, it has demonstrated this.

    The Heritage They Won’t Renounce

    The ruling class of the U.S. today—above all the U.S. imperialists, the large-scale capitalists and international exploiters who dominate the U.S. and most of the world—are indeed, as they proclaim, the direct and worthy descendants of their “Founding Fathers.” And this is why the ruling class and its political representatives, while they feel obliged to say that they are opposed to slavery today (at least in the U.S. itself), solemnly praise and celebrate slave owners and upholders of slavery who were so prominent among the “Founding Fathers” and played so central a part in the establishment of the system in the U.S.: men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

    These imperialists will never admit that their “Founding Fathers” established a system of government that, in its very foundation, is based on oppression and exploitation. They will never admit that their Constitution is the legal instrument for enforcing that exploitation and oppression. They cannot admit this, any more than they can admit their much-vaunted wealth and power has been established and built up by stealing land and resources from the native peoples (and Mexico) through extortion and outright murderous means; by trading in human flesh and harnessing human beings in slave labor; by pitilessly exploiting immigrants in their millions as wage-slaves; by robbing and plundering throughout the world, particularly Latin America, Africa, and Asia (what today is generally called the Third World). They cannot acknowledge that, while the forms of slavery have changed, the U.S. has, from the beginning and down to today, remained a society where enslavement, in one form or another, has been at the very heart of the economic system and the very basis of the political structure.

    There are many (including even Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall) who argue that, because of the upholding of slavery in the Constitution—and other injustices, such as excluding women from voting, and the treatment of the Indians—the Constitution was not such a great document when it was written, but it has been made great through the history of the U.S. and the struggles to create a more perfect Union and a more perfect Constitution. In other words, the Constitution may have had defects in some important ways when it was originally conceived, but the miracle of it is that the Constitution has within it provisions for changing and improving it—for extending democracy and rights to those previously excluded. And, some will add, while the Constitution upholds property rights, it also upholds individual and civil rights (even the statement from Madison cited at the beginning of this article stresses that, some might argue). Let’s look more deeply at these questions.

    Extension of the Constitution … Extension of Bourgeois Domination

    The extension of constitutional rights and protections to those previously excluded from them has gone together, in an overall way, with the extension of bourgeois (capitalist) relations and their dominance throughout the U.S. And, at the same time, it has gone hand-in-hand with the continuation of the oppression of Black people, of Native Americans, of Latinos and immigrants from Latin America (and elsewhere), of the oppression of women, and other forms of oppression and exploitation. All this is not in contradiction to but is consistent with the fundamental principles on which the Constitution is based and the way in which it treats the relationship between the rights of property and the rights of individuals.*

    It is noteworthy that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution (echoing the 5th Amendment) has as its pivotal point the provision that no State may “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law.” Especially in the period since World War 2, this amendment has been used as a major part of the basis to extend civil rights for Black people, for women, and for others discriminated against. Yet this amendment was passed right after the Civil War, in 1866; and for many decades this amendment was not used to combat racial or sexual discrimination. Instead, “For many years the Supreme Court applied the due-process clause mainly to protect business interests against state regulatory legislation.”3 It was only beginning after World War 1, and more fully after World War 2, that the 14th Amendment was applied in a significant way to the questions of racial and sexual discrimination. Thus, “in a long series of cases” beginning in 1925, the Supreme Court “gradually expanded its definition of due process so as to include most of the guarantees of personal liberties in the Federal Bill of Rights and has protected them from state impairment. A similar development occurred with respect to the equal-protection clause.”4 These changes in Supreme Court decisions were part of larger changes in ruling-class policy. But these resulted not from some brilliant new legal insight, nor from some sudden flash of moral awakening within the ruling class. Rather, they resulted from the changed situation of Black people in U.S. society and, more decisively, from the situation and needs of the ruling imperialists.

    As noted earlier, the masses of Black people have undergone a dramatic change in their particular conditions of existence—and of oppression—in the U.S. This began during and immediately after World War 1 but developed fully during and after World War 2. Demand for labor in war production and other strategic industry, followed after World War 2 by sweeping changes in Southern agriculture—called forth by technological changes and international economic competition—drove millions and millions of Black people from the rural South to the urban ghettos of the North and South, and into the most exploited sections of the proletariat. At the same time, the U.S. imperialists emerged not only victorious but greatly strengthened from world war that devastated those countries which were much more directly and centrally involved. So, after World War 2 U.S. imperialism was everywhere, scooping up the former colonial possessions of the prior colonial powers and establishing U.S. neocolonial domination in the name of freedom and (usually) in the guise of allowing formal independence. In this situation, it was not so necessary—nor was it so helpful—to openly and blatantly treat Black people as “second-class citizens” in the U.S. itself. So, over the period of the next several decades, concessions were made to civil rights demands and struggles at the same time as deception, vicious repression, and the promotion of “loyal and responsible Negro leaders” were carried out to keep things firmly under the control of the ruling class and in the service of its larger interests. Similarly, recent decades have seen political and legal changes that have brought certain extensions of formal rights to women and certain concessions to their battle against oppression. These have corresponded to significant changes in society and the world, including the fact that in only a small percentage of U.S. families is it any longer the case that the family is supported by just the man working. But, again, these concessions have been confined within limits that fundamentally conform to the interests and needs of the ruling class in the face of changing conditions in the U.S. and the world.

    Would anyone dare say that, because of these changes and concessions, inequality and injustice have been eliminated in the U.S.? The fact is, none of this has in any way eliminated, or come close to eliminating, discrimination against Black people, their overall conditions of oppression, their status as an oppressed nation. Nor have the ruling imperialists ceased to oppress the Native Americans—they have never even stopped trying to cheat and rob them of valuable land and resources. Nor have these imperialists ceased to discriminate against and viciously exploit other national minorities and immigrants. Nor, despite the constitutional amendment (the 19th, in 1919) giving them the right to vote and other concessions to “women’s rights,” have women been granted equality—there has been no end to the subjugation and degradation they have been subjected to: The oppression of women remains a foundation stone of U.S. society, as indeed it must so long as a system of class domination and exploitation is in force. Today, 200 years after the U.S. Constitution first took effect, and after all the changes and amendments, no one can seriously and reasonably argue that the various kinds of oppression that I have spoken to here do not exist or are only a minor aspect of the situation. No one can seriously and reasonably argue that they are not a basic and deeply rooted feature of American society.

    The reason for this is rooted in the very reality and nature of the economic system in the U.S. and the political system that upholds and enforces this economic system, including the Constitution as the legal “cement” of the political structure. The fundamental reason why the “extension” of constitutional rights to those previously excluded from them has not put an end to exploitation, inequality, and oppression is this: The essence of the capitalist economic system is not the competition of commodity owners, all vying equally in the marketplace (equal opportunity for all). The essence is the exploitation of labor as wage-labor, the command by capital over labor power (the ability to do work) as a commodity—a unique commodity—that creates wealth through its use.** (As a dockworker told me years ago: No one gets rich working; the only way to get rich is by making other people work for you.) And the essence of the political structure that goes along with and protects this capitalist economic system is not freedom and democracy for all, regardless of wealth and social position. The essence is the dictatorship of the bourgeois class—its monopoly of political power and armed force—over those it dominates in the economic system, especially the proletariat. Thus, the right to vote and other formal rights for the proletariat and other oppressed masses are in no way in fundamental opposition to the economic and political system of capitalism and bourgeois dictatorship.

    Bourgeois Democracy—Bourgeois Dictatorship

    Bourgeois democracy presents itself as classless democracy: It proclaims equality for all. Thus, the U.S. Constitution does not say that different classes of people shall have unequal wealth and power; rather, it sets forth a charter that appears to treat everyone the same, regardless of wealth and social status. Yet there never has been, and never could be, a capitalist society without tremendous differences in wealth and power, without fundamental class divisions and antagonisms. In fact, a capitalist society without these things is not even conceivable. And in reality, democracy in capitalist society can only be bourgeois democracy. This means there is democracy—equal political rights and the power to make fundamental decisions—only among the capitalist class, the ruling class. For the rest, and for the proletariat especially, bourgeois democracy means dictatorship: It means being ruled over by the capitalists, even while being allowed to vote and even while being governed by a Constitution that sets forth laws that are said to be applied, equally, to all. How can this be?

    First, as for voting, as I pointed out in Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?:

    On the most obvious level, to be a serious candidate for any major office in a country like the U.S. requires millions of dollars—a personal fortune or, more often, the backing of people with that kind of money. Beyond that, to become known and be taken seriously depends on favorable exposure in the mass media (favorable at least in the sense that you are presented as within the framework of responsible—that is, acceptable politics)…. By the time “the people express their will through voting,” both the candidates they have to choose among and the “issues” that deserve “serious consideration” have been selected out by someone else: the ruling class….

    Further, and even more fundamentally, to “get anywhere” once elected—both to advance one’s own career and to “get anything done”—it is necessary to fit into the established mold and work within the established structures.5

    But that is not all:

    If, however, the electoral process in bourgeois society does not represent the exercise of sovereignty by the people, it generally does play an important role in maintaining the sovereignty—the dictatorship—of the bourgeoisie and the continuation of capitalist society. This very electoral process itself tends to cover over the basic class relations—and class antagonisms—in society, and serves to give formal, institutionalized expression to the political participation of atomized individuals in the perpetuation of the status quo. This process not only reduces people to isolated individuals but at the same time reduces them to a passive position politically and defines the essence of politics as such atomized passivity—as each person, individually, in isolation from everyone else, giving his/her approval to this or to that option, all of which options have been formulated and presented by an active power standing above these atomized masses of “citizens.”… [T]he very acceptance of the electoral process as the quintessential political act reinforces acceptance of the established order and works against any radical rupture with, to say nothing of the actual overturning of, that order.6

    And let us remember that one of the main reasons for which the U.S. Constitution was “ordained and established,” as proclaimed in its “Preamble,” was to prevent social upheaval and the overturning of the order upheld by that Constitution—to “insure domestic tranquility.”

    The same can be said of the other aspects of bourgeois democracy and the kind of rights set forth in the U.S. Constitution (including its “Bill of Rights”): They have the purpose and function of reinforcing the rule of the bourgeoisie and keeping political activity within limits acceptable to the bourgeoisie. Thus, “the much-vaunted freedom of expression in the ‘democratic countries’ is not in opposition to but is encompassed by and confined within the actual exercise of dictatorship by the bourgeoisie. This is for two basic reasons—because the ruling class has a monopoly on the means of molding public opinion and because its monopoly of armed force puts it in a position to suppress, as violently as necessary, any expression of ideas, as well as any action, that poses a serious challenge to the established order.”7 The history of the U.S., like the history of all other “democratic” bourgeois dictatorships, is full of graphic illustrations of just how true the above-quoted statement is!

    Formal equality—the treatment of all persons as equal, and specifically as “equal before the law,” without regard to wealth or social position—in bourgeois society actually covers over the relationship of complete subordination, exploitation, and oppression to which the proletariat and masses of people are subjected. If a small group—the capitalist class—controls the important means of creating wealth, then in reality they have the power of life and death over those who control little or none of these. To have such power over other people is, in essence, to hold them in an enslaved condition, whether or not the chains are literal and visible. In such a situation—which is the fundamental condition of capitalist society—how can there be anything but profound inequality economically, socially, and politically? And with such a fundamental division, with such fundamental inequality, there can never be anything but exploitation, oppression, domination, and dictatorship.

    With regard to the law, this will manifest itself in two main ways. First, those who dominate society economically will dominate in deciding, through the political structure, what the laws will be. They will insure that the laws serve their interests. And second, the actual application and enforcement of the law will discriminate in favor of those with wealth and power and against those without them—and even more so against oppressed nationalities, women, and others who are “the last of the last” in society. Everyday life in any capitalist society proves this over and over. Thus, once again, as with the right to vote and other constitutional rights in a bourgeois-democratic republic, formal equality before the law expresses itself, in reality, as profound inequality—and more—as something confined within and conforming to bourgeois domination and dictatorship.

    The basic difference between the bourgeoisie’s view of freedom and democracy on the one hand, and the striving of oppressed masses for an end to oppressive conditions on the other hand, is sharply drawn in recent events in Haiti, the Philippines, and South Korea. The oppressed masses (and students and other revolutionary intellectuals) want some kind of fundamental change in the social system and a breaking of the chains of imperialist domination in their countries. But the bourgeois opposition leaders and parties want only the recognition of bourgeois-democratic provisions and procedures—with elections the highest expression of political activity. Most of all, they want the sharing of power more broadly and “equally” among the upper classes—really, they want their chance to hold the reins of power—while leaving the social system and imperialist domination intact. As for the imperialists, where they become convinced of the need for change in such situations, they make every effort to keep it confined within the framework of imperialist domination and bourgeois rule. Indeed, they try to use such situations to strengthen and perhaps “refine” the apparatus of bourgeois politics—and, above all, of repression—in the countries involved.

    This brings us to a most fundamental point that is so often ignored or glossed over in discussions and debates about democracy in countries like the U.S.: The fact is that even the extent to which rights are allowed to the nonruling classes in imperialist countries depends on a situation where, in large parts of the world under imperialist domination, the masses of people are subjected to much more open and murderous repression. In short,

    The platform of democracy in the imperialist countries (worm-eaten as it is) rests on fascist terror in the oppressed nations: the real guarantors of bourgeois democracy in the U.S. are not the constitutional scholar and the Supreme Court justice, but the Brazilian torturer, the South African cop, and the Israeli pilot; the true defenders of the democratic tradition are not on the portraits in the halls of the Western capitols, but are Marcos, Mobutu, and the dozens of generals from Turkey to Taiwan, from South Korea to South America, all put and maintained in power and backed up by the military force of the U.S. and its imperialist partners.8,***

    But, at the same time, the imperialist rulers and ardent worshippers of bourgeois democracy go to great lengths to try to cover over, or explain away, the brutal repression “at home” that is so essential to the functioning of the system and the maintenance of the established order:

    For there is vicious repression and state terror carried out continually—and not only in times of serious crisis or social upheaval—in the imperialist countries; it is carried out specifically against those who do not support but oppose the established order, or who simply cannot be counted on to be pacified by the normal workings of the imperialist system—those whose conditions are desperate and whose life situation is explosive anyway.

    In the U.S. the hundreds of police shootings of oppressed people, particularly Blacks and other minority nationalities, every year; the fact that jails are overwhelmingly filled with poor people, the greatest number again being Black and other minority nationalities—it is an amazing but true statistic that one out of every thirteen Black people in the U.S. will be arrested each year (and Blacks are incarcerated eight and one-half times as frequently as whites)!—and the widespread use of drugs, surgical techniques, and other means to repress and terrorize prisoners (as well as an astounding number of people not in jail, including allegedly recalcitrant children); the use of welfare and other so-called social service agencies to harass and control poor people down to the most intimate details of their personal lives; this, and much more, is part of the daily life experience of millions of people in the major imperialist countries. Along with all this, of course, is the use of the state apparatus for direct political repression….

    In times of severe crisis and social strain, of course, all this is carried out more intensively and extensively…. Already, right now in the U.S., to cite one important aspect of this, hundreds of thousands of immigrants, “illegal” and “legal,” are being subjected to a campaign of terror—including raids at their places of work and homes, the sudden and forcible separation of parents from children, and the deportation of large numbers of refugees back to the waiting arms of death squads and other government assassins in countries like El Salvador. The same kind of thing is also being directed against immigrants in France, West Germany, England, and other imperialist democracies.

    Through all this, while overt political repression by the state is in one sense the clearest indication of the class content of democracy—in the imperialist countries as well as elsewhere—in another sense the daily, and often seemingly arbitrary, terror carried out against the lower strata in these imperialist countries concentrates the connection between the normal workings of the system and the political (that is, class) nature of the state.9

    A New and Far Greater Vision of Freedom

    In the course of this article so far, in speaking to some essential questions concerning the U.S. Constitution and the system it upholds, I have answered some of the main arguments made in defense of this Constitution and this system, including the argument that the Constitution, if not perfect, is perfectible—that it can be continually improved and the rights it establishes can be extended to those previously excluded. Before concluding, I want to briefly address some of the other main arguments made on behalf of—or in defense of—this Constitution and the principles and vision it embodies.

    “This Constitution establishes a law of the land that is applicable to all—it establishes a government of laws, not of people.” This is closely linked to the principle of “equality before the law.” What is meant by “a government of laws, not of people” is that no one is “above the law” and that what is allowed and what is forbidden are set forth before all, in one set of regulations binding on everyone, and this can be changed only through the procedures established for making such changes. A “government of people” refers to a notion of a government where it is the will and the word of certain people—a king, a despot, a small group of tyrants, etc.—that determine what is allowed and what is forbidden, and where this can and will change according to the dictates and the whims of such rulers: There is no common and clearly spelled-out standard binding on all, even on the political leaders and the powerful and influential in society.

    Like all principles of bourgeois democracy, this notion of “a government of laws, not of people” misses and obscures the essential question. First of all,

    “the rule of law” can be part of a dictatorship, of one kind or another, and in the most general sense it always is—even where it may appear that power is exercised without or above the law, laws (in the sense of a systematized code that people in society are obliged to conform to, whether written or unwritten) will still exist and play a part in enforcing the rule of the dominant class. Conversely, all states, all dictatorships, include laws in one form or another.10

    Most fundamentally, the question is: What is the character and the class content of the laws, what system do they uphold and enforce, which class interests do they represent—of which class dictatorship, bourgeois or proletarian, are they the expression and instrument—and toward what end are they contributing—the maintenance of class division and domination, exploitation and oppression, or the final elimination of class divisions, of all oppressive social divisions, and of social antagonisms? In short, the essential question is not “a government of laws vs. a government of people,” it is which people—which class—rules, and what laws are in force, in the service of what ends?

    “‘We The People,’ that is the heart of this Constitution and the genius of this Constitution: It establishes a government of, by and for all the people.” As a matter of historical fact, this opening phrase of the Constitution, “We the people of the United States,” was not the product of some lofty desire by the “framers” of the Constitution to set forth some universal principle of popular sovereignty. It was the product of their desire to overcome the problem of States posing their own sovereignty against that of the Federal Government—and the desire to avoid the specific problem of not knowing which States would ratify the Constitution: “The Preamble of the Articles of Confederation had named all the states in order from north to south. How was the [Constitutional] Convention to enumerate the participating states without knowing which would ratify? In a brilliant flash of inspiration, the Convention began with the words, ‘We the People of the United States…do ordain and establish this Constitution….’”11

    More importantly, the larger historical context and the actual content of this proclamation—“We The People”—must be made clear. The founding of the United States of America as an independent country represented not just the breaking away from domination by a foreign power. It also meant breaking away from a form of government that vested great power in the person of the monarchy—even while it ultimately served the interests of the bourgeoisie and the landed “nobility.” In general, the rights and the restrictions of power established in the Constitution of the newly founded United States revolved around preventing arbitrary rule by despots and the concentration of too much power in one person or one part of the government. The “separation of powers” and the “checks and balances” of different branches of government was seen as a way of insuring that the government would serve the interests of the capitalist class and (at that time) the slaveowners as a whole. It is in this light that “We the people of the United States,” in the “Preamble” of the Constitution, must be understood. Obviously, “We the people of the United States” did not include all those who were expressly excluded from the process of selecting the government and endorsing the Constitution. For, “Even on the most obvious level, how could the government of the newly formed United States, for example, be considered to have derived its powers ‘from the consent of the governed’ when, at the time of the formation of the United States of America, a majority of the people ‘governed’—included slaves, Indians, women, men who did not meet various property requirements, and others—did not even have the right to vote…to say nothing of the real power to govern and determine the direction of society?”12

    Bourgeois ruling classes generally speak in the name of the people, all the people. From their standpoint, it may make a certain amount of sense: They do, after all, rule over the masses of people. But from a more basic and more objective standpoint, their claim to represent all the people is a deception. If it was a deception at the time of the founding of the United States and the adoption of its Constitution, it is all the more so now. For now the rule of the capitalists is in fundamental antagonism with the interests of the great majority of people, not just in a particular country, but all over the world. Now the decisive question is not overcoming economic and political obstacles to the development of capitalism and its corresponding political system. The time when that was on the historical agenda is long since passed. What is now on the historical agenda is the overthrow of capitalism and the final elimination of all systems of exploitation, all oppressive social relations, all class distinctions, through the revolution of the exploited class under capitalism, the proletariat.

    To get a very stark sense of just how historically conditioned—how long since outmoded and completely reactionary—are the interests and the paramount concerns of the "Founding Fathers" and their descendants, the ruling imperialists of today, let us consider the fact that, in writing their Constitution, Madison and others "For theoretical inspiration...leaned heavily on Locke and on Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws. Both writers had insisted on the need for separation of powers in order to prevent tyranny; in Montesquieu's view even the representatives of the people in the legislature could not be trusted with unlimited power."13 In reading over Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws I could not help but be struck by how thoroughly his frame of reference is that of a bygone age and his outlook that of exploiting classes whose period of historical ascendancy is long since past. As a glaring illustration, consider the following:

    If I had to justify our right to enslave Negroes, this is what I would say: Since the peoples of Europe have exterminated those of America, they have had to enslave those of Africa in order to use them to clear and cultivate such a vast expanse of land.

    Sugar would be too expensive if it weren't harvested by slaves.

    Those in question are black from the tip of their toes to the top of their heads; and their noses so flattened that it is almost impossible to feel sorry for them.

    It is inconceivable that God, who is a very wise being, could have placed a soul, especially a good soul, in an all-black body....

    One proof of the fact that Negroes don't have any common sense is that they get more excited about a string of glass beads than about gold, which, in civilized countries, is so dearly prized.

    It is impossible that these people are men; because if we thought of them as men, one would begin to think that we ourselves are not Christians.14,****

    Let the "Founding Fathers" and their descendants draw theoretical inspiration from the likes of Montesquieu! Let them defend slavery and modern-day exploitation on the ground of property rights, taking their lead from the likes of James Madison, the main author of the Constitution. As for the proletariat, our goal is "Marx's view of the complete abolition of bourgeois property relations—and all relations in which human beings confront each other as owners (or non-owners) of property rather than through conscious and voluntary association."15

    For the exploiting classes, and in a system under their rule, the "bottom line" is to reduce the masses of people to mere wealth-creating property—and today, under the domination of the imperialists, the greatest of all exploiters, the mass of humanity is treated as merely a means to amass even greater wealth and power in the hands of, and for the profit of, so few. And at what cost! This cost must be measured in massive human suffering, degradation, and destruction. Imagine the even greater cost in human suffering, degradation, and destruction that will have to be paid unless and until the oppressed and exploited victims of this system, who are the great majority of humanity, rise up and overthrow this system and finally put an end to all social relations of exploitation and oppression.

    In conclusion, The Constitution of the United States is an exploiters' vision of freedom. It is a charter for a society based on exploitation, on slavery in one form or another. The rights and freedoms it proclaims are subordinate to and in the service of the system of exploitation it upholds. This Constitution has been and continues to be applied in accordance with this vision and with the interests of the ruling class of this system: In its application it has become more and more fully the instrument of bourgeois domination, dictatorship, oppression, conquest, and plunder.

    Our answer is clear to those who argue: Even if The Constitution of the United States is not perfect, it is the best that has been devised—it sets a standard to be striven for. Our answer is: Why should we aim so low, when we have The Communist Manifesto to set a far higher standard of what humanity can strive for—and is capable of achieving—a far greater vision of freedom.*****



    1. Quotes from James Madison are from the Federalist Paper No. 54 in The Federalist Papers (New York: New American Library, 1961), pp. 336-341, especially pp. 339 and 337. [back]

    2. Bob Avakian, Democracy: Can't We Do Better Than That? (Chicago: Banner Press, 1986), pp. 110-11. [back]

    3. Edward Conrad Smith, editor, The Constitution of the United States with Case Summaries (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1979), p. 18. All citations in this article are from the essay “The Origins of the Constitution.” [back]

    4. Ibid., pp. 18-19. [back]

    5. Avakian, Democracy, p. 69. [back]

    6. Ibid, p. 70. [back]

    7. Ibid, p. 71. [back]

    8. Lenny Wolff, The Science of Revolution: An Introduction (Chicago: RCP Publications, 1983), p. 184. [back]

    9. Avakian, Democracy, pp. 137-39. [back]

    10. Ibid., pp. 233-34. [back]

    11. Smith, Constitution of the U.S., p. 12. [back]

    12. Avakian, Democracy, p. 100. [back]

    13. Smith, Constitution of the U.S., p. 13. [back]

    14. Charles Montesquieu, De L'Esprit Des Lois, Paris: Garnier, 1927, livre 15, chapitre 5, "De L'Esclavage Des Negres" (The Spirit of the Laws, book 15, chapter 5, "On the Enslavement of Negroes"), my translation. [back]

    15. Avakian, Democracy, p. 212. [back]

    Added Notes by the Author, Spring 2023

    * A major factor underlying this “extension of constitutional rights and protections to those previously excluded from them” has—especially since the second half of the 20th century—been the increasing globalization of the capitalist-imperialist economy, a worldwide system of exploitation ensnaring literally billions of people, and in particular super-exploitation of masses of people, including more than 150 million children, in the Third World of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The relationship of this worldwide exploitation, and super-exploitation, to the situation in the U.S. itself—particularly with regard to the economic structure and social and class relations within this country—is analyzed in depth in the paper by Raymond Lotta Imperialist Parasitism and Class-Social Recomposition in the U.S. From the 1970s to Today: An Exploration of Trends and Changes, which is available at The political dimensions of this are explored in my article Imperialist Parasitism and “Democracy”: Why So Many Liberals and Progressives Are Shameless Supporters of “Their” Imperialism (also available at, where the following is made clear:

    [T]his imperialist plunder provides the material basis for a certain stability, at least in “normal times” in the imperialist “home country” (with the U.S. a prime example of this). This relative stability, in turn, makes it possible for the ruling class to allow a certain amount of dissent and political protest—so long as this remains within the confines of, or at least does not significantly threaten, the “law and order” that serves and enforces the fundamental interests of this ruling class.

    At the same time, as sharply demonstrated in mass uprisings which do call into question that “law and order” and/or defy allegiance to the imperialist interests of this system—such as the mass outpouring against police terror in 2020, and urban rebellions and mass opposition to the Vietnam war in the 1960s—the rulers of this country will frequently respond to such opposition with severe repression and murderous retribution.  For example, the city of Wilmington, in Biden’s home state of Delaware, was placed under martial law for months during the 1960s upsurge against the oppression of Black people, and a number of members of the Black Panther Party, most prominently Fred Hampton, were murdered by police, along with many Black people taking part in urban uprisings in that period, while militant mass resistance against the Vietnam war and rebellions among middle class youth and students were in some cases subjected to a vicious, and at times murderous, response by police and National Guard troops.

    It should never be forgotten, or overlooked, that the “law and order” that enforces this relative stability has included the regular murder of Black people, as well as Latinos, by police—resulting in the fact that the number of Black people who have been killed by police in the years since 1960 is greater than the thousands of Black people who were lynched during the period of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror, before the 1960s. It should also not be overlooked that the U.S. has the highest rate of mass incarceration of any country in the world, with Black people and Latinos particularly subjected to this mass incarceration. [back]

    ** The point here, as emphasized in my work Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary, is that the essence of the capitalist economy, and the source of capitalist “wealth” and “economic growth,” is not a bunch of capitalist entrepreneurs and their “innovation,” or their “entrepreneurial genius.” It is the exploitation by the capitalists (the bourgeoisie) of wage-workers (the proletariat). This is different than the question of what is the driving force compelling the capitalists to continue to intensify the exploitation of the proletariat and to continually find new means of doing so. As also pointed out in Breakthroughs:

    Engels, in Anti-Dühring, discussed the motion of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism between socialized production and private appropriation. He pointed out that the working out of this contradiction assumes two different forms of motion that go into the dynamic process of this fundamental contradiction’s motion. Those two forms of motion are, on the one hand, the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat that it exploits, and the other form of motion that Engels identified, importantly, is the contradiction between organization and anarchy, the organization of production on the level of, say, an enterprise—which may be highly organized, with lots of calculations going into it, market estimates and all kinds of things, and may be very tightly organized in terms of how the actual process of production is carried out on the level of the particular capitalist corporation, and so on—while, at the same time, this is in contradiction to the anarchy of production and of exchange in the society as a whole (or today in the world as a whole, today more than ever in the world as a whole). So you have these two forms of motion—and I’ll come back later to a crucial distinguishing aspect of the new communism: the importance of identifying the second form of motion of this fundamental contradiction, that is, the anarchy/organization contradiction, or the driving force of anarchy, as overall the principal and most essential form of the motion of the fundamental contradiction of capitalism....

    In this regard, in the article “On the ‘Driving Force of Anarchy’ and the Dynamics of Change,” Raymond Lotta cited this statement of mine:

    It is the anarchy of capitalist production which is, in fact, the driving or motive force of this process [of capitalist production], even though the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and proletariat is an integral part of the contradiction between socialized production and private appropriation. While the exploitation of labor-power is the form by and through which surplus value is created and appropriated, it is the anarchic relations between capitalist producers, and not the mere existence of propertyless proletarians or the class contradiction as such, that drives these producers to exploit the working class on an historically more intensive and extensive scale. This motive force of anarchy is an expression of the fact that the capitalist mode of production represents the full development of commodity production and the law of value.

    And then there is this very important passage:

    Were it not the case that these capitalist commodity producers are separated from each other and yet linked by the operation of the law of value they would not face the same compulsion to exploit the proletariat—the class contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat could be mitigated. It is the inner compulsion of capital to expand which accounts for the historically unprecedented dynamism of this mode of production, a process which continually transforms value relations and which leads to crisis.

    (Breakthroughs is available at; and the article by Raymond Lotta referred to here, “On the ‘Driving Force of Anarchy’ and the Dynamics of Change,” can be found in the online theoretical journal Demarcations, Issue Number 3.) [back]

    *** As noted in “Imperialist Parasitism and ‘Democracy’: Why So Many Liberals and Progressives Are Shameless Supporters of ‘Their’ Imperialism”:

    Some of the mass murderers in other countries who today play such a crucial role in serving the interests of U.S. imperialism throughout the world, and in making possible the maintenance of bourgeois democracy in this country itself (worm-eaten as it is indeed), are the same as they were 40 years ago, and some are different—but the essential reality remains that the “platform of democracy” in this country rests on fascist terror, along with ruthless exploitation, in the oppressed nations of the Third World (Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia). [back]

    **** In relation to this statement by Montesquieu—and more generally his views on slavery—I am reproducing here the following “A Note from Bob Avakian: On Montesquieu, Slavery and the U.S. Constitution,” which appeared in Revolution #037, March 5, 2006, posted at

    Recently, Revolution ran an excerpt from a pamphlet I wrote, which was originally published in 1987, U.S. Constitution: An Exploiters' Vision of Freedom. In that excerpt, there is a quote from De L'Esprit Des Lois (or, in English, "The Spirit of the Laws") by Charles Montesquieu, an 18th–century French philosopher, who was one of the sources of inspiration for the U.S. Constitution, and in particular the theory of the separation of powers that is incorporated in that Constitution. The quote from this work of Montesquieu's, which was published in 1748, is one in which he recites an extreme and grotesquely racist justification for "the enslavement of the Negroes." In relation to this, it is not infrequently argued that Montesquieu was being ironic here, and deliberately overstating this argument, in order to, in effect, polemicize against the enslavement of African people, and that in general Montesquieu's writings express opposition to slavery. But the reality is not so simple as this, nor does this reflect what Montesquieu was essentially seeking to do in this part of "The Spirit of the Laws." It can be said that in "The Spirit of the Laws" Montesquieu's position is one of general opposition to slavery, and he indicates that slavery is not appropriate in countries like France; but, at the same time, he speaks to various circumstances in which he believes slavery can be justified or reasonable. For example, he argues that in the parts of the world, in particular the southern regions, where the climate is warmer, this climate makes people lazy (indolent), and slavery may be justified in order to get them to work (and he argues that in a despotic country, where people's political rights are already repressed, slavery may not be worse for people in that condition).

    This, and the general discussion of slavery that makes up this part (book 15) of "The Spirit of the Laws," is included in a broader discussion by Montesquieu on the nature of different societies and governments in different countries and parts of the world (this is found not only in book 15 but also books 14 and 16 of "The Spirit of the Laws") in which Montesquieu argues that geography and in particular climate plays a big part in determining the nature of different peoples and the character of their society and governing system. And it is important to understand that, although in this discussion Montesquieu makes logical refutation of certain arguments, including certain defenses of slavery, this is not a polemic for or against slavery, or other forms of government, and its character is not that of moral argumentation, so much as it is an attempt to explain why various practices, and various forms of society and government, have existed (and in some cases continue to exist) in various places.

    Another way to put this is that what Montesquieu is doing, in these parts of "The Spirit of the Laws" (and generally in this work), is attempting to make a kind of materialist analysis of these phenomena, including slavery in many places where it has existed—although it must be emphasized that this is not a thoroughly scientific, dialectical materialism but instead a rather crude and vulgar materialism which is marked, and marred, by a considerable amount of determinism: it is a kind of mechanical materialism that argues for a direct and straight-line (linear) connection between things like geography and climate and the character of society and government. It is a kind of materialism that does not adequately and accurately characterize the real motive forces in the development of human society, and in fact this kind of vulgar materialism has often been used to justify various forms of oppression, including colonial and imperialist domination. While we can, and should, recognize that, in the circumstances and time in which he wrote—about 250 years ago—there are aspects of what Montesquieu was seeking to do that were new and represented a break with the suffocating and obfuscating feudal outlook and conventions, it is very important to understand how Montesquieu's outlook and method were marked, and limited, by the social, and international, relations of which they were ultimately an expression: relations in which one part of society, and of the world, dominates and exploits others. And that is the basic point that was being emphasized in relation to Montesquieu and the U.S. Constitution, in the pamphlet U.S. Constitution: An Exploiters' Vision of Freedom.

    With regard to the specific passage that was cited in U.S. Constitution: An Exploiters' Vision of Freedom, "on the enslavement of the Negroes," there is, in fact, some reason to accept that Montesquieu does not actually agree with the justification for this enslavement that he summarizes, and that he is actually subjecting this kind of justification to some ironic and satirical treatment. A reasonable interpretation of Montesquieu's arguments, as he goes on in this part of "The Spirit of the Laws" (book 15), is that this kind of argument, about the non-human character of the Negroes, is not a valid argument, not one that actually justifies this enslavement. But then he does go on to explore the question of what might actually be reasonable justifications, in certain circumstances, for slavery; and, as spoken to above, he finds such justifications in situations such as those where there is a despotic government, or where—as he concludes, through an application of vulgar and determinist materialism—the warm climate makes people lazy and unwilling, on their own initiative, to work.

    Thus, in looking into and reflecting on this further, I would say that, while it is important to understand the complexity and nuance of what Montesquieu writes here—and it can be said that the way in which I cited Montesquieu in writing this pamphlet on the U.S. Constitution does not really or fully do that—it is not the case that what Montesquieu was doing here was actually making a case against the enslavement of the Negroes, or against slavery in general. Once again, it is important to keep in mind the fact that, although he was opposed to slavery on general principle, and declared that it was a good thing that it had been eliminated in his home country, France, and more generally in Europe, Montesquieu did not think slavery was wrong, or without justification, in all circumstances. And it also seems that Montesquieu did not hesitate to invest in companies involved in the slave trade. In this, there is a parallel with John Locke, the English philosopher and political theorist, who, as I pointed out in this same pamphlet (U.S. Constitution: An Exploiters' Vision of Freedom), was also a major influence in the conception of the U.S. Constitution. As I wrote in Democracy: Can't We Do Better Than That? (p. 29):

    "In sum, the society of which Locke was a theoretical exponent, as well as a practical political partisan, was a society based on wage-slavery and capitalist exploitation. And it is not surprising that, while he was opposed to slavery in England itself, he not only defended the institution of slavery, under certain circumstances, in the Second Treatise, but turned a not insignificant profit himself in the slave trade and helped to draw up the charter for a government headed by a slave-owning aristocracy in one of the American colonies. For as Marx sarcastically summarized: ‘The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.’" [back]

    ***** In the years since the writing of this article, I have devoted considerable work to the development of what is meant by this “far greater vision of freedom”—what it would mean “in real life.” One very important result of this is the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which provides both a sweeping vision and a concrete blueprint for a radically different and emancipating society and world. This Constitution is available at [back]


    in the political, intellectual, artistic and ethical life of society

    Bizarre and capricious rules enforced by cancel culture threats. Puffed-up unscientific claims to “represent the marginalized.” Insisting that people “stay in their lanes” in fighting oppression. “Woke” lunacy manifests much that is harmful with the capitalist-imperialist system and its dominant culture, furthering the nightmare of humanity!

    “Woke” once meant righteous awareness of racial oppression but has long since morphed into fanatical lunacy and vicious mob mentality. A bloodlust to target and tear into individuals, while cowardly ducking, and often, actively obstructing the real and needed fight against the system, especially its overthrow through an actual revolution!

    Woke Lunacy and the fascist steamroller moving through society are in a deadly dance, mutually opposing, while fueling and feeding off the other. Fascism is by far the greater danger, but in this dynamic, brazen white supremacy and misogyny feast on and defeat the brittle bravado of “woke.”

    At a time of unprecedented change—as the “powers that be” clash and as cohering norms of the U.S. are ripping—there is a much greater chance to bring this whole oppressive edifice down. We have a chance to aim for something radically different; we have a responsibility to fight for something actually liberating. We must seize this chance and rise to this responsibility.

    Out of love for humanity and the planet, out of a profound respect for truth and science, and out of a necessary revolutionary determination for the emancipation of all of humanity, we will defend and debate the following, in the public square and in public discourse:


    Woke Lunacy: Insisting there is no objective reality; each person “owns” their “truth”

    Woke Lunacy denies an objective reality, while at the same time brutishly dictating which parts of reality people of different “identities” are allowed to discuss or act upon. If objective reality is just a “white European” or “masculinist” construct, try crossing the interstate at rush hour without getting hit by the reality of speeding cars.

    Truth is not a composite of “narratives.” Truth is what corresponds to objective reality. This can be determined through scientific, evidence-based methods. Direct lived experiences can contribute to this process, but science, and the scientific method, is decisive for determining what is true—and acting on that basis to radically change the world.

    2  Woke Lunacy: An obliterating obsession with changing words—and an ugly erasure of women

    Woke Lunacy does not differentiate between malicious, neutral, or benign intent. The ritual humiliations of well-meaning people for using “wrong” words are the petty power plays of schoolyard bullies. Word changing is no substitute for WORLD changing.

    Nowhere is this more destructive than the erasure of women. Increasingly relentless and vicious attacks on trans people must be vigorously fought! But the substitution of dehumanizing non-synonyms like “people with uteruses” and “chest-feeders” for the word “woman,” ostensibly for “trans-inclusivity,” does harm. In the face of the greatest assault on women’s lives in generations—the overturning of the right to abortion—the woke establishment’s refusal to even use the word “woman” muddied the heart of this attack, blunted its danger and demobilized resistance. This strengthens the Christian fascist crusade to cement forced motherhood and traditional gender roles.

    3  Woke Lunacy: “Me, Me, Me”—cocooned in an American Empire that savages the world

    The one privilege wokesters rarely call out is American privilege. Indeed, many want all they can get of that privilege.

    The woke mob tweets their accusations of “privilege” and “colonization” from cell phones brought to them by the blood and tears of children in Congo, mining for the cobalt those phones require. To those whose horizons don’t extend beyond mere “inclusion” and “equality” within the most blood-soaked empire ever known, we dedicate these lyrics from Bob Dylan: “We looted and we plundered on distant shores. Why is my share not equal to yours?”

    4  Woke Lunacy: Hiding from reality with “trigger warnings,” “safe spaces,” and “trauma culture”

    Terrible things happen to people under this system. Exposing this is not “trauma porn.” Everyone needs to learn about and confront the barbaric history of slavery and white supremacy and the continuing reality of racial oppression.

    Acting as if oppressed people are fragile beings who will fall apart at a “triggering” phenomenon is the hallmark of condescending saviors. Trauma from this system is real and harrowing, but needs to, and can, be directed towards fighting the source of oppression and injustice.

    The best things to happen in college are intellectual challenges, debate and critical thinking, learning about the world… standing up for a great cause even at the risk of one’s safety, and radically changing the world with revolutionary joy.

    5  Woke Lunacy: Firestorms of woke-mob “cancel culture” to tear down individuals

    Instead of righteous struggle to expose and transform oppressive institutions, woke culture unleashes cruel witch hunts to destroy the reputations, careers, and lives of people. This is revenge, not justice. Woke Lunacy judges people by a single mistake, or even a mere accusation, rather than by the arc of their lives. Imagine if this criterion were applied to all of you!

    The world of woke invokes the Red Queen of Alice in Wonderland, “Sentence first—verdict afterwards.” Rule of law, presumption of innocence, and evidence out the window. With regard to centuries of horrific sexual assault, what is sorely needed is an atmosphere where women can come forward, be taken seriously, and where there is due process, all as part of getting to a radically different world.

    6  Woke Lunacy: Accusations of “appropriation” to censor artistic expression

    Identity hustlers have turned censoring art into an art form of its own. Cancelling authors, blacklisting fiction, covering murals, censoring art because the creator is of the “wrong” identity—or because it's not “their” story to tell. Woke Lunacy treats the diverse fluorescence of cultures and struggles of our planet as property to be owned and commodified, miserly guarded against “appropriation.If art and fiction were restricted to direct experience alone, would there be any left?

    7  Woke Lunacy: Insisting all follow “BIPOC leadership”—when there is no such thing!

    Who is “BIPOC leadership,” pray tell? AOC? Kamala Harris? Candace Owens? Clarence Thomas? When children in Yemen, Pakistan and Afghanistan were afraid to look at a clear blue sky because of Obama’s drones raining down bombs and terror, do you think they gave a fuck that he was the first Black president?

    Leaders should be evaluated not based on “identity,” but on whether they are correctly identifying the source of the problem, pointing the pathways to getting humanity free, and bringing forward others who can do the same.


    In the words of Bob Avakian, revolutionary leader and author of the new communism:

    Instead of “staying in your lane,” and “going for self,” while this system is moving to even more decisively crush any hope for a world worth living in, people need to be looking at the bigger picture, focusing on the greater interests of humanity and the possibility for a far better world—and acting to make this a reality....

    Instead of snarking and sniping at each other, and being divided by “identities,” people should be working to unite everyone, from every part of society, who can be united in the fight against oppression and injustice, with the goal of putting an end to this system that is the source of this oppression and injustice.


    Follow: @therevcoms


    From Sunsara Taylor:
    Donate to "‘Woke’ Lunacy vs. Real Revolution" Campus Speaking Tour


    I am writing to ask you to donate generously to a fight I am waging that is as controversial as it is necessary.

    “Woke” Lunacy vs. Real Revolution is the name of the campus speaking tour and campaign that I have launched, together with Rafael Kadaris and a team of revcoms.

    The initial stops in Berkeley and San Diego have struck a deep chord. One attendee put it this way:

    Sunsara turned woke-ness on its head and made it feel comical. She was inspiring. Instead of crawling in the dirt, cancelling and obsessing over identity, she lifted our sights to a real revolution that sets all of humanity free. Afterwards, a throng of young people formed around Sunsara to keep talking and just touch her fearlessness.

    Why is it so crucial for you to donate to this effort?

    Look around: Abortion bans. Anti-trans laws. Brutality at the border. Relentless racist murder by police. The looming threat of fascists returning to power in 2024. Humanity's very future imperiled by climate change and the danger of a potentially nuclear war between the U.S. and Russia and/or China.

    “Woke” lunacy is paralyzing and intimidating decent people who should be fighting back. It is providing fresh fodder for fascists to viciously attack every cry for justice.

    Campuses should be crackling with debate over the source and solution to injustice. They should be hotbeds of resistance and revolution! The arts and intellectual life should be filled with work challenging us to think and dream outside our comfort zones.

    Instead, we see destructive moves to tear down and cancel individuals based on “identity” and accusations alone. We see demands for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” to hide from reality. We see moves to censor art and books that don't conform to the constantly mutating standards of woke-ness.

    Many people grumble about this. We are daring to radically change this!

    I encourage you to check out the coverage and clips from the first stops of this Tour, as well as the powerful series we have produced on The RNL–Revolution, Nothing Less!–Show.

    I also urge you to dig into the penetrating analysis of “woke” identity politics by Bob Avakian (go here). One of the most important dimensions of the new communism that Avakian has forged is his thorough rupture with the poisonous notion that the “ends justify the means.” He brings this to bear in his contrast between the petty reforms and revenge that characterize “woke” and the real revolution and emancipation that humanity needs. This is the approach that is guiding our Tour.

    Now, we have to step this campaign up and amplify it nationwide.

    Our biggest event yet will be at UCLA on May 24.

    We'll be broadcasting this speech on May 26 on a special episode of The RNL–Revolution, Nothing Less!–Show and hosting screenings nationwide.

    Will you give $250, $100, or $50 to this effort? Earmark your donation “woke vs. rev.”

    Radical change is coming, one way or another. Through your donation to the “Woke” Lunacy vs. Real Revolution speaking tour, you can have a huge impact in waking young people and others to fight for and win the future humanity deserves. Please give generously.

    Sunsara Taylor


    The masses of people around the world are suffering terribly, this system is splitting at its seams, and the planet stands at a precipice. What this cries out for is:

    World changing, not word changing…

    Heart, not snark…

    Unity, not MY identity…

    Emancipation, not cancellation…

    Soaring the heights, not lowering of sights…

    Science and daring, not “competing narratives”…

    A REAL revolution, not an appeal for “inclusion.”


    Some Good Intentions, but No Fundamental Solution, and Some Big Problems

    In these times, some anarchists have distinguished themselves in standing up against fascist thugs. Some are serious about seeking to change society in a positive direction. And some do act in a principled way in their relations with others seeking such change. But the truth is that anarchism cannot lead to bringing into being a radically new society that is on the road to eliminating exploitation and oppression and dealing with the increasingly existential environmental and ecological crisis. This is something that can be, and is, readily demonstrated in scientifically analyzing the nature of the beast we are up against—the system of capitalism-imperialism that now dominates the world—what is actually required to uproot and eliminate the relations of exploitation and oppression that are embodied in and enforced by this system, and how any anarchist program will utterly fail to achieve this.


    It is worth repeating here these fundamental truths:

    There is no possibility of putting an end to the continuing horrors caused by the system we are now forced to live under, the system of capitalism-imperialism, without a revolution—a real revolution to overthrow this system. Such a revolution is an extremely complicated and difficult process. There is no possibility of making this revolution without leadership. Not just any kind of leadership, but leadership that is based on the most consistently scientific method and approach....

    You cannot bring a radically different and emancipating society into being, moving to abolish all oppression and exploitation, without breaking the capitalists’ violent hold over society (the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie) and establishing a radically different socialist form of rule (the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat). And only with this socialist system can you give the most powerful support to the revolutionary struggle throughout the world.*

    Anarchists refuse to recognize, and actively oppose, these fundamental truths.

    This relates to an additional problem with anarchists more broadly: the general and widespread tendency among anarchists to be opposed to authority of any kind, regardless of the nature, content, purpose and role of any particular authority. This is completely unscientific. Among other things, it is an expression of extreme individualism that often assumes irrational dimensions which, despite the passionate opposition to fascism among anarchists, actually shares much in common with fascists. It is not at all a stretch to say that, in the case of many anarchists, their basic orientation could be captured in the slogan, popular among fascists: “Don’t Tread On Me!”

    It is right to unite with anarchists, where possible, in the fight against fascism, and more generally against outrages and injustices constantly perpetrated by this system of capitalism-imperialism; and, as a general point of orientation, it is important to engage in principled discussion and debate over what is the problem that we are up against, and what is the solution to this, including with anarchists who are willing to engage in such principled discussion and debate.



    Cover of A Declaration, A Call to Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution


    But it is necessary to firmly oppose the far too many instances where anarchists, rather than seeking to achieve unity where unity should be possible, and to engage in principled ideological struggle over the problem and the solution, instead act in an antagonistic manner toward those who are working to bring about the fundamental transformation of society that is so urgently needed—and specifically those of us who are working to build an organized revolutionary force, of thousands and ultimately millions, based on and led by the new communism as the scientific approach to the overthrow of this system of capitalism-imperialism and its replacement by a socialist society on the road to the final goal of a communist world.

    * Questions That Come Up... And Answers: On Revolution And The Need For The Scientific Leadership Of Bob Avakian. On Dictatorship, The Need For Revolution, And What Comes Next. This article is available at (emphasis in the original).  [back]


    Shameless American Chauvinism:
    “Anti-Authoritarianism” as a “Cover” for Supporting U.S. Imperialism

    New: Added Note by Bob Avakian


    Editors’ Note: The following article was written by Bob Avakian at an earlier stage of the war in Ukraine. Because it remains highly relevant to the situation today, we are featuring it now, with a new Added Note by Bob Avakian at the end of this article, which speaks further to the massive war crimes and crimes against humanity continually committed by U.S. imperialism, and the way this is glorified and celebrated by representatives, functionaries and enforcers of this system, with Barack Obama a notable example.

    “Go search where you may, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

    –Frederick Douglass, former slave and determined abolitionist, 1852.

    In recent years, there has been lot of talk, and a lot written, about the growing danger of “authoritarianism” in the U.S., as represented by Donald Trump and the Republican Party. Now, in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and U.S. moves in response to this, there is the spectacle of a number of supposed “experts” on “authoritarianism” rallying around the flag of U.S. imperialism in the face of the challenge to its dominance posed by Russia, with China lurking as perhaps an even more serious challenge. (Russia and China have not been “communist” for a long time—and instead have, for decades, been capitalist-imperialist countries and, as such, represent a significant challenge to the imperialist interests of the U.S.)

    If we listen to these “experts,” the powerful force with imperial ambitions that we should be most concerned about now is Russia and its “authoritarian” leader, Vladimir Putin. Suddenly, the expression of high-minded principle about how wrong and dangerous it is for one country to invade another, on the basis of flimsy pretexts and outright lies, applies only to Putin (and, of course, to other “authoritarians” that “we” do not like), and most certainly not to “us.”

    Certainly, the big power bullying and aggression by Russia, with its invasion of Ukraine a clear example, is something that all decent people should oppose. But no decent person should be joining in with the U.S. imperialists in their rivalry with Russian imperialism. For reasons I will get into here, it is utter, disgusting hypocrisy for the U.S. imperialists, and their media mouthpieces and other representatives, to be self-righteously condemning this Russian invasion, when the U.S. is the country which has, by far, carried out the most invasions and other acts of violent interference in other countries.

    Somehow, these “learned people” have “forgotten” about the U.S. invasion and occupation of another “sovereign country,” Iraq, in 2003—on the basis of flagrant lies about Iraq supposedly possessing “weapons of mass destruction” and being closely linked with Islamic fundamentalist terrorists like Al Qaeda. This U.S. invasion was a blatant international war crime, which set in motion events which have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, created millions of refugees, and unleashed a maelstrom of death and destruction in that part of the world. (One of the most disgusting spectacles on the “mainstream” media these days, such as CNN, is the presence of government officials who are “veterans” of this U.S. war crime in Iraq, and who arrogantly denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the illegal act of a powerful country aggressing against a weaker country! Somehow, the outrageous irony of these American war criminals denouncing the war crimes of others is “lost” on, or deliberately ignored by, these media.)

    Somehow, these “experts” are ignorant of (or they are deliberately ignoring) the fact that the U.S. by far holds the record for violently interfering in the affairs of other countries: In addition to the continuing crimes against humanity carried out by the U.S., just since World War 2, including the U.S. slaughter of millions of civilians in Vietnam, and before that in Korea, and the bloody coups it has engineered in Indonesia, Iran and elsewhere, in the period from 1846 to the present the U.S. has intervened in South and Central American countries—militarily, through CIA coups, or in other ways—at least 100 times, at the cost of literally hundreds of thousands of deaths and endless misery for the people of those countries.

    Somehow, these “enlightened historians” have lost sight of the fact that the country they are living in (the “good old USA”) established, and repeatedly expanded, its territory on the basis of predatory violence on a massive scale, including genocidal “military campaigns” against the indigenous peoples of this continent (repeatedly breaking treaties in the process), and an expansionist war of aggression which resulted in ripping off a huge part of the territory of Mexico, in the middle of the 19th century, largely for the purpose of expanding slavery. And, after all, this is a country where a “manifest destiny” was declared—to conquer territory “from sea to shining sea” (and beyond).

    American Chauvinism and the Uses and Misuses of “Authoritarianism”

    The notion of “authoritarianism,” as wielded by these “scholars,” “pundits,” and others, is a misleading concept, which serves American imperialist interests and promotes American chauvinism (the sickening belief in the superiority of Americans and “the American way of life”). “Authoritarianism,” in itself, has no particular ideological, political or social content, and in fact serves to cover over or obscure actual social, political and ideological content. For example, to refer to Donald Trump and the Republican Party as “authoritarians” makes it seem as if what defines them is simply the urge to ill-gotten and tyrannical power. It tells you nothing about what they are seeking to do with that power—what ideology and what political and social program they are upholding and seeking to implement and enforce. The fact is that they are fascists—which has a very definite content: hatred and violent suppression of Black people and other people of color, immigrants, women and LGBT people, unrestrained plunder of the environment, grotesque American chauvinism, crude anti-intellectualism and anti-scientific lunacy.

    Refusing to call these fascists what they actually are—and instead just referring to them as “authoritarians”—serves a number of objectives, all in line with American chauvinism.

    First, it covers over the fact that these fascists have been bred by the system that has ruled in this country, from the days of slavery to the present, with blatant inequality and blood-soaked oppression poured into its foundation and its ongoing functioning. This has been nurtured by the putrid and poisonous soil of this country—a country that, from the start, has regarded and treated Black people as sub-human beings created by “god” to be beasts of burden, or destined by their “nature” to become dangerous criminals; women as lesser beings, fit only to be subordinate servants of men, objects of their sexual domination and mere breeders of their children; and LGBT people as essentially non-human “deviants.” Forcefully imposing a situation where that is the unchallenged state of things is the fanatical passion and goal of the fascists. And, since these fascists have indeed sprung forth out of the soil of this country, what does that say about this country: how is it then possible to maintain the farcical notion of “American exceptionalism,” the idea that there is something “exceptionally good” about this country?—a notion that the actual history, and present reality, of this country shatters to pieces and reveals as vile mockery—which is why so many “historians” and “scholars” do not want to really, scientifically examine this history and reality.

    Second, speaking of “authoritarianism,” without reference to the actual ideology and political and social content of the “authoritarians,” allows for the pretense that “extremists” of the “right” and the “left” are essentially the same. Thus, with the label of “authoritarianism,” communists can be thrown into the same camp of “very bad people” with fascists—when, in reality, communists are the exact opposite of, and the force most fundamentally opposed to, fascism. This can be readily seen through any objective, scientific analysis of the ideological outlook and aims of genuine communists, who, on a scientific basis, stand for and are fighting for the abolition of all exploitative and oppressive relations, while the fascists are fanatically determined to impose the most horrific expressions of these very relations, and seek to justify this with all kinds of lunatic conspiracy theories and anti-scientific distortions of reality.1

    And this notion of “authoritarianism of the left and right” serves to propagate and perpetuate American chauvinism in this way: If the problem and danger is “authoritarianism,” of the left, as well as the right, then of course, according to this perverted logic, it is “American democracy” that is the “center”—the center of all that is good and righteous—in opposition to the evils of “authoritarianism.”

    Here we are back to what I have referred to previously as the GTF, the Great Tautological Fallacy, the “round and round in a circle argument” that America is a force for good in the world—and whatever it does is good, or at least done with “good intentions,” because America is... a force for good.2 This GTF is a “great escape mechanism” for all these anti-authoritarian “historians” and other American chauvinists, allowing them to explain away (or neglect as irrelevant or insignificant) the horrific crimes committed by this country throughout its history, and down to today, to which I have referred in this article.

    “We may have founded a country on slavery and genocide,” some might admit; but, they insist (while ignoring or discounting the life-stealing, soul-crushing oppression to which masses of people are subjected day after day) “we have been continually moving toward a more perfect union.”

    “We may carry out wars of conquest, invasions, coups, and other acts of violent interference in the affairs of other countries”; but, they claim, “We do this for some greater purpose, or at least in opposition to some greater evil.”

    “We may live in the only country that has actually used nuclear weapons”—the atomic bombs that were dropped on two Japanese cities, instantly incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians, at the end of World War 2—but, the argument goes, “We did this to save lives, especially the lives of American soldiers.”

     Such are the ridiculous, and outrageous, rationalizations.

    Free Yourself from the GTF!

    And now, with Russian, and Chinese, challenges of various kinds to U.S. dominance in the world, the argument of the U.S. ruling class, and those who parrot its American chauvinist rationalizations, amounts to essentially nothing more than this: “We have established, through massive force and violence, an ‘order’ in the world that is favorable to our ‘national’ (that is, imperialist) interests, and no one has the right to use force to change this in a way that threatens those interests.”

    In short, “we” are the “good guys” in the world, so things “we” do that would be “evil” if others did them are after all “good”... because “we” are the “good guys.” And now especially, a particular variation of this is the claim that, in the rivalry and confrontation between the imperialists of this country, on the one hand, and those of Russia, or China, on the other hand, “we” must stand with “our own” (U.S.) imperialists because the governments of “those” countries are “authoritarian,” while “our” government is not (yet) “authoritarian.”

    That all this is completely bankrupt, both logically and morally, should be obvious to anyone who is not blinded by the American chauvinist GTF.

    For those of us who are not willing to be blinded by this, we can and must confront and analyze reality as it actually is, and draw the necessary conclusions. Besides the fact that the U.S. is today, and has historically been, allied with many “authoritarian” governments throughout the world (and, in fact, has forcibly installed such governments in many countries), the even more fundamental fact is that the essence of the conflict between the U.S. and countries like Russia and China is not one between “democracy” and “authoritarianism,” but is a matter of rivalry among imperialist powers, all of which are monstrous oppressors of masses of people, and none of which represent or act in the interests of humanity. What is called for, and urgently now, is to oppose all imperialist marauders and mass murderers, and all systems and relations of oppression and exploitation, while giving particular emphasis to opposing “our own” imperialist oppressors who commit their monstrous crimes “in our name” and seek to rally us to support them on the basis of a grotesque American chauvinism, which we must firmly reject and fiercely struggle against.



    In the “mainstream media” (such as CNN and MSNBC), there is a continual parade of former military officers, CIA operatives, and so on, trotted out as “expert commentators” on the war in Ukraine. One of these “expert commentators” is William Taylor. Taylor was a witness in the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which centered around the charge that, in pursuit of his own political ambitions and objectives, Trump had undermined U.S. military support for Ukraine (even before the Russian invasion in 2022). Taylor was also an officer in the U.S. military during the war in Vietnam. Of course, not once during these appearances by Taylor is he held accountable for the almost unbelievably monstrous crimes carried out by the U.S. military in Vietnam—including the gruesome ways in which at least 2 million Vietnamese civilians were slaughtered by the U.S. in that war—nor is the fact of those monstrous crimes ever referred to. For this reason—and because the actual history of the Vietnam war and the role of the U.S. in that war has been suppressed, or “whitewashed,” by the dominant institutions in this country, including the “mainstream media”—I am reproducing here some relevant facts about that war, and how this has been grotesquely distorted by political representatives of the U.S. ruling class, notably Barack Obama.

    First, there is the following (from my article “Bob Avakian on Impeachment, Crimes Against Humanity, Liberals and Lies, Provocative and Profound Truths,” also available at, referring to that first impeachment trial of Donald Trump:

    Adam Schiff, the most eloquent of the “House Managers,” positively invoked Ronald Reagan, speaking of the USA as “a shining city on the hill,” when in reality this is a  country founded on slavery and genocide, which has continued to viciously exploit and oppress people—and to carry out murderous invasions and coups, while ravaging the environment—with terrible consequences for the masses of people, in every part of the world.  And, throughout the impeachment hearings in the House and then the Senate trial, Schiff and other Democrats made a point of praising witnesses who have been part of the U.S. military, repeatedly referring to William Taylor as a “hero” for his “service” in the U.S. army in Vietnam.  There was, and there is, nothing “heroic” about the U.S. military.  On the contrary, it is—without the slightest exaggeration—a machinery of massive, and unspeakable, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and its actions in Vietnam constitute a systematic concentration of this, with a level of destructiveness and depravity that is almost unfathomable:

    the slaughter of  millions of Vietnamese civilians, with incessant bombing and shelling, including of schools, hospitals, dams and other crucial infrastructure, and widespread use of napalm, white phosphorous, Agent Orange, and millions of anti-personnel weapons, burning to death and maiming huge numbers of children and others;

    ruining the livelihood of millions of Vietnamese—destroying large parts of the soil and livestock so essential for the people in rural Vietnam;

    torture of people held as prisoners—including large numbers of civilians—male, female, old and young, including the very young;

    mutilating the bodies and wearing as “trophies” body parts of Vietnamese killed; mass rape of Vietnamese women and girls.

    All this, and more, by the U.S. military and its “heroic” soldiers.

    Previously, I have challenged “liberals” in particular to seriously engage the “American Crime” series on, which chronicles and outlines many of the most horrific crimes of the U.S. ruling class, going back to the beginning of this country and right up to the present, carried out under Republican and Democratic administrations. Included within that series is the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, in which U.S. soldiers wantonly murdered over 500 civilians, almost all of them old people, non-combatant women and children. And it is a well-documented fact that this massacre was not some kind of exception, or aberration, but represented the essential approach and means of the American war machine in Vietnam, fueled ideologically by a perverse, poisonous combination of ignorant, irrational anti-communism, American chauvinism, and grotesque racism and misogyny which regarded and treated the Vietnamese people as subhuman “gooks” and “slopes,” and females the lowest of all.

    Nothing good will ever come from denying or ignoring these essential truths about this country and its role in the world, or by limiting oneself to condemning the blatant lies of Trump and his fellow fascists in the Republican Party while excusing, or even taking up, the profound lies of Democratic Party defenders and apologists of this monstrous system of capitalism-imperialism.

    And finally, keep in mind what is summarized above about the actual role of the U.S. military in Vietnam, as you read the following words by Barack Obama  praising that same military for its role in Vietnam:

    “One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam—most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there.... [Y]ou wrote one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history.”

                —President Barack Obama, May 28, 2013, part of the Vietnam War Commemoration

    Here Barack Obama is willfully, and viciously, rewriting history: He turns upside down the actual role of these “troops” in Vietnam. He complains that the “troops” who carried out these atrocities in Vietnam were not “thanked” for their “service” of horrific war crimes, but instead these war crimes were, rightly and righteously, condemned by masses of people in this country; and he fails (or refuses) to mention the fact that many of these troops (and former troops) came to openly rebel against what they were ordered to do in Vietnam and became an important part of the massive opposition to the U.S. role in that war.

    And think about this: If Obama can call what these “troops” actually did in Vietnam “one of the extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history,” that is a profound exposure not only of Obama himself but, more fundamentally, of the truly monstrous system of U.S. capitalist imperialism, of which Obama is a blood-soaked representative and functionary.



    1. For a concentrated discussion of the profound difference between communism and fascism, see the article “Fascists and Communists: Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart” by Bob Avakian, which is available at [back]

    2. Bob Avakian speaks more fully to the GTF in the speech THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian in 2017. For more on this film, and to view the film, Q&A sessions, and clips, go to BA’s Collected Works at [back]




    The Dangerous Demagoguery of Timothy Snyder

    On Behalf of U.S. Imperialism and Its Proxy War in Ukraine

    by Bob Avakian

    Recently, the New York Times (Sunday, May 14, 2023) published an article by Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University. Snyder did not directly say “Don’t Worry About a Nuclear War—If There Is One, Russia Will Lose!”—but he might as well have said that. The actual title of his article is “Putin Is Fighting, and Losing, His Last War,” and this article is a shameless apology for U.S. imperialism, overall and specifically in its proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

    Snyder’s arguments, reeking of American supremacist arrogance, are despicable, and they are dangerous—not simply downplaying the possibility of nuclear war but concluding the article with the claim that the threat of nuclear war must be ended with Russia’s swift defeat (or, in the words of Snyder’s final sentence: “When Russians talk about nuclear war, the safest response is to ensure their very conventional defeat”).

    Snyder makes the specious (seemingly logical but deceptive) argument that since nuclear powers, including the Soviet Union as well as the U.S., have lost wars without resorting to the use of nuclear weapons, there is no significant danger now of nuclear war arising out of the conflict in Ukraine. Besides the fact that nuclear war could erupt out of accident or miscalculation by either or both sides in the Ukraine conflict, this argument of Snyder’s ignores, or glosses over, other particular dangers of this situation.

    The U.S. is very heavily involved in the war in Ukraine—massively arming Ukraine, increasingly providing training, as well as intelligence and planning, for the Ukrainian forces, and using Ukrainian troops as cannon fodder in this war. The U.S. has openly declared that its objective in this war is a defeat for Russia, reducing Russia’s power, status and influence in the world, and preventing Russia from posing a significant challenge to the “international order” in which U.S. imperialism is the dominant power. (Another objective of the U.S., and in particular the Biden administration, is to solidify and strengthen NATO as a powerful military force of “western” imperialism, headed by the U.S.—and to repair the damage that was done to this NATO alliance by Trump during his presidency.) The U.S. actions in Ukraine also seem to have the aim of “sending a message to China,” which the U.S. imperialists, in both ruling class parties, regard as the most serious challenger to U.S. world dominance. Delivering a defeat to Russia in Ukraine could, the U.S. imperialists hope, issue a warning to China about the danger of confronting U.S./NATO military power and could undermine an alliance between China and a significantly weakened Russia. Such are the calculations—the “gangster logic”— of imperialist oppressors.

    More Ridiculous—and Reckless—Argument from Snyder

    Listen to this “logic” from Snyder:

    If Russia detonated a [nuclear] weapon, it would lose that jealously guarded treasure of superpower status.

    Really—that is all (or the most essential thing) that would happen if Russia used nuclear weapons?! Here Snyder is truly blinded by his American supremacist arrogance—and he seems set on obscuring reality for the rest of us. The actual reality, in contrast to the dangerous delusions Snyder is spreading, is that the use of nuclear weapons by Russia in the context of the war in Ukraine—even “tactical” nuclear weapons—would lead to a massively destructive response by the U.S./NATO. And even if that U.S./NATO response itself were non-nuclear, it would very likely provoke a further escalation by Russia. This dynamic could very easily lead to strategic nuclear war between the two sides, with the prospect of wiping out human civilization as we know it.

    Here is more demagogic and dangerous “logic” from Snyder:

    By taking nuclear blackmail seriously, we have actually increased the overall chances of nuclear war. If nuclear blackmail enables a Russian victory, the consequences will be incalculably awful. If any country with nuclear weapons can do whatever it likes, then law means nothing, no international order is possible, and catastrophe beckons at every turn.

    This from a craven apologist of U.S. imperialism, which has established and enforced an “international order,” with itself as the dominant imperialist power, through repeated invasions, coups, and other violent interference in countries all over the world, at the cost of millions of lives and massive destruction. The U.S. imperialists by far hold the record for violent aggression against other countries and peoples. And, as instruments of this continuing violent aggression, the U.S. maintains hundreds of military bases in countries all around the world and a military budget greater than Russia and China combined.

    As for nuclear blackmail, that is what the U.S. has, for decades, done to the rest of the world, with its ongoing threat of using nuclear weapons, whether that threat is openly stated or not—a threat that is all more ominous because, let us not forget, the U.S. is the only country ever to have used nuclear weapons, dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities at the end of World War 2, incinerating hundreds of thousands of civilians, and causing horrific suffering and slow, agonizing deaths for many who, at least for a time, survived the initial blast. The U.S. imperialists have never acknowledged that it was wrong to carry out these atomic bomb attacks—and, of course, they have not renounced the use of nuclear weapons, and they continue to “upgrade” their massive “nuclear arsenal.”

    (Exposure and analysis of many of the egregious crimes of the U.S. ruling class, around the world, as well as within the U.S. itself, are contained in the “American Crime” series, and other works, at

    Of course, one of the scenarios that Snyder posits is possible—that Putin would pull back from Ukraine while declaring “victory” because Russia faced (and faced down) the U.S./NATO in Ukraine, fighting them to a standstill. But there is certainly no guarantee of things going that way! And what if Putin is serious about the orientation that a nuclear power does not lose wars, especially if that loss poses a serious threat to its existence, or its status in the world? This must be viewed in the context where the U.S. has declared and is determined that Russia must suffer defeat in this war—a major war in a country (Ukraine) right on the border with Russia. (This analogy has been made before, and it definitely helps to sharpen things up: What would the U.S. rulers do if they invaded Mexico, then Russia massively intervened on the side of Mexico, with the result that this became a major showdown between these two world powers, each possessing thousands of nuclear weapons, and Russia declared its determination to deliver a defeat to the U.S. in this war?)

    The Way Out of This Madness

    It is true that, so long as there are nuclear armed imperialist (and other reactionary) states, the people of the world will be subject to nuclear blackmail. That underscores once again the profound, and acute, importance of my statement that the people of the world can no longer afford to allow these imperialists to dominate the world and determine the destiny of humanity—they need to be overthrown as quickly as possible. (This statement is part of interviews that were done with me last fall on the YouTube RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show.)

    As I have also emphasized, those who hunger for a more just world need to oppose all imperialist wars, and all oppressive actions and relations carried out and enforced by ruling classes everywhere. And more specifically, those living in one imperialist country or another need to be, first and above all, opposing their own imperialist ruling class—that is the only morally and politically justified position. This means that people in Russia need to be primarily concerned with opposing Russian imperialism and its unjust role in the war in Ukraine. In this imperialist country (the “good ole USA”) it is our responsibility not to be craven apologists for “our own” imperialist ruling class but, in opposition to that, firm and determined opponents of these imperialists and their monstrous crimes, while also opposing other imperialist and oppressive forces. This is not only a matter of fundamental principle, in a general sense—it takes on even greater importance given that U.S. imperialism has, for decades, been the dominant oppressive power in the world, wreaking havoc on people all over the world (as well as the environment).

    In this process of fighting for a more just world—and most essentially in carrying forward the work of revolution toward the ultimate goal of a world without imperialist (and other reactionary and oppressive) forces and relations—it will be necessary to expose and refute the shameful (or shameless) and highly dangerous demagoguery of their defenders and apologists, like Timothy Snyder.


    Pouring Gasoline on a Raging Fire: Face-off Intensifies at Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine

    Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.


    Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.    Photo: AP

    The war that began in February 2022, when Russia unjustly invaded its neighboring country of Ukraine, quickly turned into a war between rival, nuclear-armed powers: on one side, the U.S./NATO, on the other, Russia. It is not a struggle between “autocracy" and “democracy.” The Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army are cannon fodder in this war—used cold-bloodedly to advance U.S. imperialist interests.3 Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of people have been killed in this war, hundreds of thousands more made homeless, many more maimed, crippled, and raped, in a war that is unjust and criminal on both sides. As Revolution exposed and analyzed last week, right now massive escalations in this war are being prepared and could erupt at any time. The possibility of either side or both sides using nuclear weapons increases every day this war goes on.

    And still another danger of this whole horrific situation “going nuclear” looms.

    * * *

    Specter of Nuclear Disaster at Zaporizhzhia

    The largest nuclear power plant in Europe is in the region of Zaporizhzhia, in southeastern Ukraine. The city of Zaporizhzhia (which has a population of over 700,000) and the region around it, including the nuclear plant, have been occupied by Russia since shortly after the war began. But as the largest land war in Europe since the end of World War 2 has raged in its vicinity, the plant is still staffed largely by Ukrainians, under Russian supervision.

    South Ukraine showing Crimea and position of nuclear plant at Zaporizhzhia.


    Map dated August 2022   

    Fighting around Zaporizhzhia has left the matter of responsibility for the plant’s safety and security unsettled and uncertain. Both sides have blamed each other for artillery shelling that has damaged buildings at the plant at least six times, “and brought down power lines essential to cooling fuel in its six reactors …” Lack of cooling could set off a chain reaction that triggers a major disaster like those at power plants in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011, and Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986. As National Public Radio reported in March, “the specter of a possible nuclear meltdown hangs over every minute of the war.”

    This spring a United Nations report said the situation at Zaporizhzhia is "extremely fragile and dangerous" and that as “military activities” continue, the danger of damage to the plant, and possibly a nuclear meltdown, grows. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) developed five “principles” to reduce the risk of a catastrophic nuclear event at Zaporizhzhia, beginning with both sides pledging not to attack the plant or launch weapons from it. But as of late May, “neither Russia nor Ukraine committed to respect” these principles to “try to safeguard Ukraine's Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”

    So, on top of the possibility of the war itself escalating to the use of massively destructive nuclear weapons that both the U.S. and Russia control, there is the possibility of a nuclear meltdown at Zaporizhzhia that neither side is acting to prevent, in the middle of a heavily populated region. From any rational perspective, from any assessment that takes into account the interests of humanity, this is truly, murderously insane.

    It is also a concentrated expression of the expand-or-die logic of capitalism-imperialism. The entire dynamic of this war must be radically changed in the interests of humanity, not rival and contending imperialists.

    Bob Avakian expressed this fundamental truth in an interview on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show

    We can no longer afford to allow these imperialists to dominate the world and to determine the destiny of humanity. They need to be overthrown as quickly as possible.



    1. See Revolution’s “The War in Ukraine and the U.S. Threats Against China: A Resource Page” for more on the history and nature of this war, including numerous important articles by Bob Avakian. [back]



    Nominations Now Open for Bootlickers Hall of Shame

    banner bootlickers gallery Snyder


    You’ve seen the bootlickers. Some of them are teachers, preachers, writers and wannabe politicians scrambling to justify and normalize the everyday murderous exploitation of the system. They get boosted especially in those times when the outrage cries out and masses of people threaten to erupt in struggle. We don't mean the ones who really stand with the people, but the posers who really just want “a place at the table” of this rotten system. Sometimes you can catch these bootlickers online, doing podcasts or guesting on shows or tweeting out their bullshit. Some of them get on MSNBC or CNN. They claim to be “progressive,” or even “radical.” They come in every “race,” nationality, and gender, to bolster their credibility with different sections of the people. And they all have one thing in common:

    They are fronting for the capitalist-imperialists who really control things. They provide the rulers with cover and credibility for whatever foul shit they are up to, giving “progressive” excuses to normalize and cover for their crimes. They do their best to mislead, confuse, stupefy masses of people and otherwise serve the capitalist-imperialist system.

    They need to be called out for what they are: BOOTLICKERS!

    And we’re calling on you to help do it. If you have an example of an egregious, consistent bootlicker, send it in to us at Revolution Reports ( We’ll put a portrait of that bootlicker, along with examples, and report on whatever crimes they are covering up, on the wall of our online Bootlickers’ Hall of Shame. Send the link or the clip of the bootlicker in question, and give a little report on the crime that they are covering for (or provide links to it), etc. If you want to, you can compose the nomination yourself; but if you don’t want to do all that, just provide us the links and information and we’ll do our best.


    The War in Ukraine and the U.S. Threats Against China: A Resource Page

    Dangerous Developments, Imperialist Power Moves, Rank American Hypocrisy


    U.S. embassy delegation led by Army military attaché reviews map with Ukrainian officers who are conducting military operations against pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.


    Donetsk, Ukraine, November 19, 2021, three months before Russia invaded Ukraine: U.S. embassy delegation led by Army military attaché reviews map with Ukrainian officers who are conducting military operations against pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.    Photo: AP

    The War in Ukraine: Dangerous Developments, Imperialist Power Moves, Rank American Hypocrisy

    Dig Beneath the Surface to Understand Why This War Is Happening

    Crisis in Ukraine: Biden and Putin Hold Humanity Hostage, Threaten "Armageddon"—WE NEED REVOLUTION!

    The Cuban Missile Crisis: World In The Balance — an excerpt from Bob Avakian's memoir

    Steps Toward Oblivion: the Threat of Nuclear War

    Dangerous Escalation in Ukraine— A conversation between Andy Zee & Lenny Wolff

    Basic Principles

    Bob Avakian speaks on War, Capitalism-Imperialism, and Revolution

    "Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation & Crimes Against Humanity"
    An Excerpt from Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, a speech by Bob Avakian

    Escalations, Inching Towards An Abyss


    VIDEO: The Revcoms’ June 4, 2023 Fundraising Livestream

    Be Part of the $100,000 Revcom Fund Drive: Donate to Bring About a Whole Different World


    News and Statements from the Donors to the Fund Drive Livestream


    These statements were sent in by people who donated to the $100,000 Revcoms Fund Drive.

    Share your response or your experience! Write to us at

    Read more
    Statement from International Grad Student in Philosophy, Columbia University

    I first encountered the Revcoms through the May Day [May 1st, 2023] parade. It was a very fruitful event for me intellectually. I got to hear personal stories of a Haitian during the parade, who condemned U.S. invasions and interventions in Haiti starting in 1915. I also heard from Black citizens who refused to go to the Vietnam War, for “the true battle is against the ruling class and imperialism.” I heard people saying there is only one race and that is humanity. In the evening event at the bookstore that followed, I was invited to read a poem by a Gazan poet, who described the horrors and fears during an Israeli airstrike. People were really appreciative of my poetry reading, and I could sense solidarity in the air among people coming from some 10+ countries. It was really a fantastic night.

    ► Read more
    Donating for the Proclamation and Sunsara’s tour:

    I am donating $200 to popularize the Proclamation and support Sunsara's tour. Sunsara's talk at UCLA and the Q&A that has been released is so inspiring. What makes it so is the way she applies BA's approach and method to dealing with the challenges the revolution confronts. That approach is to premise everything on what is necessary for humanity to achieve emancipation and on that basis speak to the questions people have. Never going low and personal but always keeping the level on a high plain. This extremely principled approach, even when under attack, comes from keeping the people of the world at heart, including the possibility that those hung up in all kinds of wrong thinking can transform themselves. The Proclamation and Sunsara's tour has such huge potential to help change the terms of what exists.

    From a $200 donor:

    I’m donating $200.00 to the fundraiser because the suffering humanity goes through is unnecessary and through Revolution a better world is possible. I call on 5 others to donate $200.00 as well.

    “Donating my tax refund…”

    I sustain the RevComs & I’m donating my tax refund. I’ve been grappling with how fundraising is a central part of widening a movement of many people actively working for revolution.

    From a long-time revolutionary donating $500:

    $500 from a long-time revolutionary who now can see that because of the work that BA has done there is a way out. We could be in a time when there could be a real revolution. What would you give for that? I would like to earmark $100 for the Sunsara Taylor tour.

    Donating airline miles:

    I have felt keenly that I am not doing enough to help bring about the changes needed to get rid of the stranglehold of out -of-control capitalistic oligarchy consolidating full-blown fascism. But I realized that I could donate my airline mileage to active revcom folks to join the tour. I contacted a friend, who put me in touch with the Revolution Club. I was so happy that they connected with me to get mileage tickets for Lapis and Leo [of the Revolution Club in Chicago] to get out to Los Angeles. It's so important to find a way to help even if one can't get out “on the street” so easily as before, especially supporting new leaders. I hope others who have some mileage built up will use it to support this cause.

    Lapis and Leo from Revolution Club Chicago describe going to Los Angeles to organize for the "Woke" Lunacy vs. Real Revolution speech

    From donors making a $500 challenge:

    A friend made a sizable contribution to putting revolution on the map in 2023, and I added an amount to make a $500 challenge for the livestream.

    We feel that in order to get to a new world founded on the New Communism, the vision forged by BA, it's necessary to support all work going in that direction, like The “Woke” Lunacy vs. Real Revolution Tour, The RNL Show,, leaflets, programs….

    Read more

    This clash of ideas is not only necessary, it is what the world needs to raise people’s sights, to aspire for the emancipation of humanity, to save the planet, and start resolving the major problems the people of the world face.

    In whatever way we can, we need to be flooding the neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, with palm cards, leaflets, posters, the Proclamation, in a very consistent way so that people come to know about this Revolution, and this leadership, and why they need to support it by contributing to putting this Revolution and nothing else on the map.

    Call to Donate to $100,000 Fund Drive from a Person Running with the Revolution Club

    From a donor in NY:

    It is my pleasure to donate $5k to the movement for Revolution during what feels like a very stifling time. I’m watching the RevComs go very hard with trying to breakthrough people’s low sights of just trying to get representation and a seat at the table for whatever crumbs they are willing to give out. I see the RevComs struggling with people, with love but tough love, to imagine a whole other way the world could be.

    Read more

    I feel deeply that other people are yearning for it too but don’t see a real way out and haven’t yet been introduced to Bob Avakian’s new communism. Hoping this contribution helps put Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism in front of more people and makes it more accessible to those who are searching for a way out.

    I too have been a bit demoralized by the aftereffects of the uprising but I always keep in mind this one thing BA says about how in countries where there was a revolution, it seemed like there was no way it would ever happen and afterwards they say it was inevitable. This is the idea I keep returning to when it feels impossible.

    Hoping we get to a place where people say “it was inevitable”.

    Much love to the RevComs!

    Call to Donate to $100,000 Fund Drive from a Revcom Supporter in Los Angeles

    Report from the Revolution Club, Bay Area

    The Revolution Club in the Bay Area has been broadly distributing and deeply grappling with the proclamation “We Are the Revcoms (Revolutionary Communists).” Since May Day...we’ve taken this message out to several festivals, a flea market, and a farmers’ market. We’ve done all of this with the strategic orientation from Bob Avakian’s quote “Everything depends on bringing forward a revolutionary people…”

    ...It is not easy, but we are confident that if we persevere in this approach that we will bring forward a solid core of revolutionaries along with a presence and support base that’s built on the right foundation. Fundraising is really a key way through which people can become part of this movement. We look forward to putting revolution on the map this year together with others throughout the country and raising big funds in order to do so!

    ► Read more
    Houston, May 28
    Breaking into New Avenues for Fundraising

    Our fundraising efforts up to this point had some difficulties breaking into new terrain. The Revolution article “Two Key Things to Do” made some helpful and thought-provoking points, including the orientation of taking the “fundraising letter from Sunsara Taylor  to universities, community colleges, and so on that are still in session… go to bookstores… go to programs addressing critical issues or artistic events that are dealing with important questions… and get this out and spread the word about The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show special showing on May 26 of Sunsara Taylor’s May 24 speech at UCLA. Raise money utilizing her letter.” 

    ► Read more
    Chantelle from Revolution Club LA on going to Frieze Los Angeles Art Fair to raise funds

    Donation statement supporting Sunsara Taylor Tour: "Woke" Lunacy vs. Real Revolution

    Getting out bundles of WE ARE THE REVCOMS:

    A couple of us, friends of the Revolution Club in Chicago, have been systematically sending or dropping off bundles of the broadsheet to some of the many people we have known over the years along with materials about the $100k fund drive that they can distribute too. These examples show the potential we have found in doing this.

    Read more

    A friend of the Rev Club, the father of another young man killed by the police, watched a download of The RNL Show’s Andy Zee’s presentation on the broadsheet with one of us. He followed along in the broadsheet just like the people in the audience at Andy Zee’s presentation. He found the experience very helpful and positive. He put them in the stores in one mini-mall on the southside of Chicago. He wants to get more very soon.

    We met with a woman whose grandson was shot by the police years ago. She not only wants a bundle but also is buying several revcom t-shirts to donate funds and to wear to represent for the revolution. She gets out materials at her church and to friends and family.

    We mailed 100 copies of the broadsheet and the call to donate to another long-time supporter whose nephew was murdered by the police. He now lives downstate and regularly gets packets of materials to get out in in the city where he lives.

    We finally reached someone we did not have a snail mail address for. He is planning to come to the livestream showing at the Revolution Club organizing center and to get a bundle of the broadsheets and calls to donate. He said, “This summer I want to be ‘boots on the ground’.”

    From a revcom supporter:

    The [Sunsara Taylor speaking] tour is fighting to take on one of the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of getting lots of students involved in the movement for Revolution and that obstacle is: woke lunacy. Taking on this toxic concoction of American chauvinism, identity politics and cancel culture is key to breaking down this barrier and drawing forward this much needed section of people: the intelligentsia. I'm donating as a part of supporting the Revolution tour going on the offensive.

    From Houston: The “Trolley Car Argument” to Donate

    The trolley car argument was conceived by a sociologist. In it you are asked to sacrifice one human being by pushing them in front of a trolley car that will stop the trolley from a wreck that will kill all of the people in the trolley car. One life for the lives of many.

    Let’s make some assumptions that I think can be argued are basically correct.

    Our government is based on Capitalism.

    Read more

    This Capitalism has led to Imperialism where our government in our name is trying to control the world.

    In attempting this control Capitalism has initiated wars of conquest and subjugation.

    This Capitalism has exploited many in the USA until many are now useless to them, and it sees incarceration as a means of control here.

    This Capitalism has subjugated many outside our borders and ruthlessly exploited their labor. In many cases exploited to starvation and death.

    Reform of this system has not worked. The rights that we won by hard struggles in the past are being rapidly stripped from us today.

    There is a rift in our form of government, pitting two parties against each other.

    This creates a rare opportunity for a “trolley-car event.”

    That “trolley-car event” is a revolution to overthrow the Capitalism and replace it with a new form of government. The Capitalist class is a very small sub-part of the world’s population. They are the “one human being” in the Trolley Car Argument. The people in the trolley car who are saved are the rest of the human beings of the world.

    Here are some other, facts, not assumptions.

    The Capitalists will not buy into the assumptions above giving up and going along.

    The revolution will need to involve many, many people.

    Getting the many, many people will require organizing and struggle to get them convinced that there is hope and that this is possible.

    This will involve a cycle of raising money to organize this struggle who will then contribute and help organize to win more people … until the real revolution is possible.

    Some more facts:

    The first round of organizing has happened. They are the Revcoms.

    They need money to continue organizing.

    That is where we come into play. Give money, give talent, join.

    To conjugate: Singular, I give, I gave, I have given. Plural is needed, We give, we gave, we have given. This will lead to the change in Caesar’s dictum: We come, we see, we conquer.

    Contributor to Sunsara Taylor “‘Woke’ Lunacy vs. Real Revolution” speaking tour:

    I am contributing to help spread the Woke speech because this world hungers for a vision and strategy to orient itself around emancipation and that speech does just that. Close to one billion people face food insecurity, and needless wars for empire on the planet are creating a desperate situation. This economic system also colonizes people, demeans women and differently gendered peoples which creates even more desperation and lowers our sights in creating illusions of competing identities. In contrast, the Woke speech orients people to change the world based on how the world actually works based on science, and our common aspirations for emancipation.

    From a person who crochets:

    Greeting comrades. I am a strong believer that we need to change the conditions in this world, so to help make a difference and put revolution on the map, I will be selling crochet baby blankets and sleepers as gifts for any boy or girl; they make nice baby shower gifts for your friends or family members. Not only that, but “no more stolen lives, stop killing us” tee shirts. And “put the guns down, stop killing us” shirts!! Roasted peanuts and punching balloons. Let's fight for a better world. Help us put revolution on the map. We need revolution, nothing less!!!! Humanity first!!!!

    In memory of a courageous warrior in Hawai’i:

    I’m making this contribution in memory of Gwen Kim, a courageous warrior who never gave up on her dream of revolution and a world free of oppression.

    Coming to political life in the late ‘60s, Gwen was strongly influenced by Mao Tsetung and the revolution in China and was an early supporter of the RCP, which continued until her death last week. While involved in local struggles, she exposed the workings of capitalism-imperialism in everyday language to the masses she worked with and linked struggles here to the struggles of the oppressed around the world. 

    Read more

    Gwen embraced people from all ethnicities, classes and genders, had a deep love for the people, and a strong belief in the ability of even the most backward to transform. At the same time, she boldly spoke truth to power and harbored a special hatred for the U.S. military’s destruction of Hawai`i and its forcible occupation and colonization of the Nation of Hawai`i. In her later years she had health limitations but continued to speak out against fascism, attacks on abortion rights and LGBTQ people, was especially inspired by the heroic uprising of the women of Iran, and regularly shared articles from revcom on social media.

    Gwen was well-known in Hawai`i for her involvement in struggles against mass evictions (Kalama Valley, Waihole-Waikane, Ota Camp, Sand Island, Makua Beach), anti-militarism (such as the bombing of Kaho’olawe Island, Makua Valley, and Pohakuloa), a founder of Nuclear Free & Independent Pacific, and many struggles demanding respect for Hawaiian cultural sites and practices (most notably, Mauna Kea), and many more.  She was arrested numerous times for standing for justice and defying the orders of the police and military.

    Gwen was inspired by the works of BA, following them in the Revolutionary Worker and then, and identified herself as an “aspiring communist.” While she was on a fixed income, she traveled to the Continent to hear his historic speech in 2003: “Revolution: Why it’s Necessary; Why It’s Possible; What It’s All About” and BA’s Dialogue with Cornel West in Riverside Church in 2014. Those who attended the Dialogue will remember Gwen turning to a group of hecklers in the audience who interrupted BA while speaking and loudly and boldly telling them she had traveled all the way from Hawai’i to hear BA speak, and to please be quiet and show some respect.  

    When I last visited Gwen shortly before her death, she recalled participating in a watch party for the December 2022 fundraiser and shared that while her time with us would shortly be over, she was especially moved by the young revcom leaders and the importance of The RNL Show to bring BA’s vision of communism to people more broadly, both here and around the world.  She ended by saying her life had been a “fabled journey,” had been better than she could have dreamed of, and that she was happy that she was leaving the fight for revolution in good hands. Gwen Kim truly lived “a life worth living.”

    I invite everyone, those who knew Gwen, and those who share her dream of revolution and a better world, to join me in contributing to this fundraiser to really put Revolution on the map.

    From Hawaiʻi:

    We’re making this contribution in memory of Gwen Kim and our shared dream of a Real Revolution against capitalism-imperialism and a world free of oppression. Back in the day we had a slogan: “Revolutionary Fighters Step Forward.” In that spirit, we are especially inspired by young revolutionaries who are courageously stepping forward to put revolution on the map and to spread the works of BA everywhere as part of realizing our shared dream. Although we are limited in the ways we can be on the front lines like they are, we are proud to be part of a network to put making a real revolution on the map.

    This is a bundled contribution from eight supporters.

    From a writer in Texas:

    Dear Friends: There is so much dynamism in what the revcoms have been doing over the past year. Airing the amazing 3-part interview with Bob Avakian. Breaking with the "gradualist" approach and transforming leaders from "movement activists" to "strategic commanders of the revolution." Leading with revolution to take on the woke lunacy that has become a destructive force in the ideological, moral, and political life of a whole generation—who need this revolution and have so much untapped potential to make history by winning a better future.

    Read more

    I am striving, while seeing and becoming more a part of the collective process, to bring alive the decades of work Bob Avakian has done to lay the theoretical framework and blueprint for the emancipation of all humanity from this putrid system. I'm donating the $100 I can afford right now, but also struggling with others to donate to something that truly promises to transform people and reality. A real revolution requires serious funds, and we have to be serious because the existence of humanity is truly at stake.

    Revolution, nothing less!


    Report from the Revolution Club, Bay Area

    The Revolution Club in the Bay Area has been broadly distributing and deeply grappling with the proclamation “We Are the Revcoms (Revolutionary Communists).” Since May Day when we announced the nationwide publication of this Proclamation, we’ve taken this message out to several festivals, a flea market, and a farmers’ market. We’ve done all of this with the strategic orientation from Bob Avakian’s quote “Everything depends on bringing forward a revolutionary people…”

    WE ARE THE REVCOMS (revolutionary communists)


    On May Day itself, the Club read out loud the freshly printed Proclamation as part of our day’s orientation. The point was emphasized that the Proclamation will be one of the main organizing tools for (and accelerant to) the spring/summer offensive to put revolution on the map. We set out to talk to everyone, but with our sights set on the people that the Proclamation singles out in the opening paragraph: “To everyone who can’t stand this world the way it is…” We met a lot of thoughtful people that day who were attracted to the rally and march, and our straight-up revolution message. This included a revolutionary-minded international student who was moved to tears after the march and two people who were moved to check out the Revolution Club closer.

    The following day, one of them joined a few Club members for a scheduled discussion of the Proclamation and became a member on the spot after reviewing the Points of Attention for the Revolution. This discussion included a continuation of a conversation that came up on the subway ride home from May Day. A newer member of the Club who came forward around International Women’s Day and Sunsara’s tour against “woke” lunacy, brought up the doubt about whether “the ultimate goal of finally abolishing wars among human beings” is possible since “there have always been wars and conflicts among humans.” We talked about the full scope of the future communist society, how by necessity it can only be done on a world scale with the eventual abolition of the “4 Alls.” And how through this, wars themselves would no longer be necessary and are not inherently bound up with human nature. Separately, the question of the existence of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction came up. People had doubts about the practical feasibility of dismantling these weapons under socialism, but mainly the conversation revolved around “ends and means.” How even the ways of fighting by revolutionaries, and defense of a future socialist state, need to be consistent with the goal of human emancipation. That these weapons are inconsistent with that goal because of how extremely devastating and indiscriminate they are. We got into the policy written in the draft Constitution to never use these weapons and to dedicate resources to safely dismantling them.

    Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America


    Another question raised was about our strategic approach of “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.” Someone asked why isn’t it “Transform the People” first, and then “Fight the Power” with these already transformed people. The point was made to them that the two are not separate processes, that the transformation of people has to be done as we stand with and defend people against unjust attacks. And that fighting the power takes different forms, such as taking to the streets on May Day, which is where this person came to know us. In a conversation amongst the leading core after this discussion, we talked about how fighting the power actually serves as fertile ground and an accelerant for transforming the people. And that people can’t fundamentally transform if they become defeated and accept even the worst outrages.

    With the summer festival season starting, we’ve also had some experience inviting people to join scheduled discussions at our event booths. These are informal discussions where people can dig into the Proclamation and get to know the Revolution Club. At one of these discussions at a book festival, we were joined by someone who met us on May Day. They got fired up, reviewed the Points of Attention, and joined the Revolution Club right there at the booth. We invited people throughout the day at these events with small flyers, and we also made calls the day before to invite broader contacts. Later in the day, we were joined by a young couple we had just met who at first stated their full agreement with the need for revolution, but throughout the discussion advocated for the need to “feed people first” and local farming collectives being the way to end capitalism. A veteran revolutionary challenged her to think about who owns the major means of production (land, factories, resources, etc.). And to think about how this approach would meet the other needs of the people (clothing, housing, medicine, etc.). Or how this approach would deal with inequalities in geography between these different localized farming collectives. Some of the newer Club members expressed some agreement with the approach of trying to meet people’s needs within the existing system to win them over to the revolution. We struggled over the need to have higher sights than trying to get small scale reforms within the system on some local level, and that this revolution has its sights set on the emancipation of all humanity. We tried to pull the conversation back to the Proclamation, but the couple wasn’t interested in continuing the conversation after being challenged. This exchange inspired us to take up more systematized discussions around key questions and ways of thinking that keep people stuck in this system with members of the Club, as we realized there is quite a bit of unevenness in understanding. We scheduled the first in a series of discussions the following weekend at our booth at the Malcolm X Jazz Festival.

    As we grappled with the goal of organizing thousands, and then millions, of people into this movement, and the unique opportunity we have in this rare time to make revolution, we realized the importance of masses of people taking up the Proclamation as their own. This has led to taking up a new approach: challenging people who are more interested in this revolution, and who have a fire in their belly against oppression, to make a $2 donation for a bundle of 5 Proclamations that they take to others, stay in touch with us, share their experience of bringing it to others, along with the questions and conversations they had. This allows regular people to both contribute financially and politically to put revolution on the map, while it also trains them on how to work collectively with this movement. The price of $2 for a bundle of 5 broadsheets is something most people can afford but it is already a contribution and sometimes a sacrifice. Revolution requires funds, and if we don’t want to be social workers but want to lead the masses to emancipate themselves, we need to create the culture of not just giving things out for free but one in which the people continuously support this movement for revolution and encourage others to do so. We are only just beginning to take up this challenge and we look forward to gaining more experience with it. This can be a key way to identify potential leaders for revolution, people who are bold enough to be the first to take this up at a time when on the surface things look stable, but below it’s ready to erupt. We’ve so far had limited experience, but we intend on following up with everyone who has taken bundles so far and assessing our approach. And as newer members of the Club become more confident—based scientifically on evidence—of the need and possibility of revolution, this will enable them to more effectively challenge masses to take up this approach.

    As another form of fundraising that we’ve discussed before locally, going into the warmer days of summer, we’ve started bringing water bottles with The RNL Show stickers to every outing for a $2-$3 donation. We found it to be an easy way for people to contribute to our fundraising goals while promoting the valuable guidance of the weekly RNL Show and hydration! So far we’ve been hampered by unseasonably cold weather.

    Several people at the jazz festival took bundles and donated, and many others took individual copies. The main organizers of this event were local identity politics hustlers as well as Black small business owners. We got to experience firsthand how this “woke” bullshit keeps people away from even hearing the truth if it comes from the “wrong identity.” A few people who started walking up to the booth seeing the word “revolution,” stopped in their tracks and turned around whispering something about “white people” as they looked at the diverse group of revolutionaries. One of the groups we approached with the Proclamation refused to talk to us saying: “We don’t want to talk to white European colonizers at the Malcolm X festival! Get out of our faces!” For a lot of the Club members the level of ignorance was surprising, but it gave us experience on holding our ground and really fighting for the truth even if it’s unpopular.

    We ended the day with a scheduled deep-dive of the Proclamation. While we discussed the entirety of the Proclamation, particularly the second paragraph about the rare time and the quite a bit on the defining elements, we spent the majority of the time defining basic features of our program. We zeroed in on the middle section with “defeat… abolish… establish…” And a large part of the conversation focused on “defeat…,” both the seriousness of it, as well as the increased possibility of it, with the sharpening divisions in society and amongst the rulers. At the end of the discussion, people said they felt a better understanding of what we’re all about, even if they’re not fully convinced of the evidence. We encouraged this exploration process and scheduled a discussion the following week on BA’s piece on the U.S. Constitution and another discussion on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

    While we’ve run into quite a bit of ignorant dismissal and cowardly “woke” slanders (e.g., they shout “cult!” and run away at a farmers’ market), we’ve also discovered that there are people out there who care about the future of humanity and the planet, and that this revolution can connect with them. And we’ve been consistent about staying in touch with those people and finding ways to organize them in ways big and small. An example of this is a restaurant owner from the Middle East who by chance talked to a Club member when they went in for lunch and separately was approached by a team canvassing local businesses for donations. Through these conversations, he repeated multiple times that the problem is capitalism and that he agrees we need revolution. He told us he wanted to find out more and wanted to contribute and connect us with a cultural group he knows.

    Recognizing that $2 for water bottles isn’t going to generate enough funds for a revolution of millions of people, the Club is organizing a fundraising BBQ lunch to coincide with this livestream, and this restaurant owner donated several sides for us to use. We will make sure to come back to him and let him know how his contribution is part of something very big and get into the content of the Proclamation with him. And, overall, we are continuing to rely on the initiative of masses of people, new people, to carry out every element of this BBQ so that they get the experience of working as a team for a common goal. We’ve also integrated our regular discussions into the lunch planning, like clips from the BA Interview during the BBQ planning meeting and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic being combined with preparing ingredients and marinating meats the day before the event. We will have more to say about this BBQ and the livestream afterwards.

    Overall, we’re taking on several new ways of doing things with limited experience. It is not easy, but we are confident that if we persevere in this approach that we will bring forward a solid core of revolutionaries along with a presence and support base that’s built on the right foundation. Fundraising is really a key way through which people can become part of this movement. We look forward to putting revolution on the map this year together with others throughout the country and raising big funds in order to do so!



    Raising Money… and Making Revolution

    This week we call on all revcoms, on everyone who supports the revcoms, and on all of you who hunger for a different world and have come to this site seeking one… to do two big things:

    One, make a major effort to get out the Proclamation WE ARE THE REVCOMS. If you’ve been doing this, sum up with others your efforts so far, develop thinking and plans to make those efforts count for more, find the ways to bring forward people you’ve been meeting to be part of this whole process, and make another major push. And if you haven’t been doing this, let’s get busy!!

    REVCOMS distribute the broadsheet.


    REVCOMS distribute the broadsheet.    Photo: @therevcoms

    This is a time of sharp changes. Radical change is coming, one way or the other. That change will either be a reactionary, violent change coming on top of the horror that already exists… or a revolutionary, emancipating change. This Proclamation puts before the world our scientific understanding of the need for revolution and possibility—IN THIS TIME—to make revolution.

    Two, take out the call for the June 4 Fundraising Livestream when you are distributing WE ARE THE REVCOMS and circulate that call far and wide. Begin yourselves to raise the urgently needed money to make the vision in WE ARE THE REVCOMS a material force in society.

    The movement for revolution needs money to not only get out thousands and thousands of these Proclamations to people, but to carry out the many-pronged strategy laid out in that Proclamation.

    IMPORTANT: Making revolution requires struggling with people to concretely support that revolution, every step along the way, whether they have known about the revolution for a while or are just getting introduced to it. When you struggle with people not just over ideas, but over what they are going to do—including where they are going to put their resources—you give them a way to change the world and to change themselves too.

    Making revolution also requires working with people, bringing them in on the problems we are trying to solve and why, and unleashing their creativity to more deeply understand and help solve problems, in a process together with others. We have many examples over the past year and more of people who have done what may seem to be small things—making and selling crafts, bake sales, yard sales, going to friends and family and so on—but if multiplied could be very significant. These “building block” activities enable people to contribute their talents and in the process to create revolutionary networks of organization, community and solidarity. Let us know what you are doing or have done, so others can learn.

    At this Sunday’s livestream, we’ll be talking with Sunsara Taylor about her speech at UCLA on “‘Woke’ Lunacy Vs. Real Revolution” and the initiative this is part of. We’ll go back and forth with Michelle Xai of the Los Angeles Revolution Club on what’s coming up this summer. And we’ll get into the three-part interview with Bob Avakian, Up Close and Personal with Bob Avakian: Heart and Soul & Hard-Core for Revolution, with Annie Day, and some new plans to widely promote it.

    So get the word out on this livestream fundraiser. Bring people together for festive group watches. Build this as a big aid in raising funds.

    Very importantly: send experiences you have this week in getting out the Proclamation and in raising funds to or DM us @therevcoms by this Saturday at noon.

    One final note: As part of this, and leading into the fundraising livestream, we should spread the powerful and provocative speech from Sunsara Taylor, “‘Woke’ Lunacy Vs. Real Revolution,” and raise funds from people in every corner of society who want to see this woke madness taken on.


    Andy Zee on the WE ARE THE REVCOMS Proclamation

    Editors’ note: This is the text of a talk on We Are the Revcoms that was that basis for Andy Zee’s remarks at Revolution Books New York on May 16. The full video of the talk that Andy Zee delivered is available here.

    "WE ARE THE REVCOMS," Andy Zee at Revolution Books NYC on May 16, 2023.

    This evening we are going to discuss the broadsheet, the proclamation from the revcoms. After these opening remarks, I will take questions, offer some answers, and open up some discussion as we go along. Then we can have some informal discussion.

    I am going to point to some of the main features of this proclamation to ground our discussion, but first I want to get a sense of how many of you have had a chance to read this broadsheet. (More than half the room raised their hands.)

    Before we get into We Are the Revcoms—what it says, what it calls for, including what it calls on all of you to do, why it is issued now, and the role this proclamation can and needs to play—the fact that you’re here at Revolution Books means you are concerned, you are thinking about the state of the world, you are curious, serious, looking for answers. You didn’t come to The World Is Fine/It’s All Good Bookstore, you came to Revolution Books—where, if you didn’t know it before, the revolution in our name is not a lifestyle change, a pose, it’s not an advertising slogan or brand, but an urgent and serious mission—an objective whose urgency and possibility accelerates every week. The statement We Are the Revcoms speaks to that:



    Boom. There it is. It’s spoken. Declared. This is who we are—The Revcoms—an abbreviation for revolutionary communists, communists on the basis of the new communism developed by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian. The Revcoms—an abbreviation that is a new word, that needs to become known far and wide, a nascent vanguard, a force to build, a force to be a part of and join, a force to support, a force to do what? To work for a REAL REVOLUTION.


    WE ARE THE REVCOMS Mayday 2023


    This is what we, the Revcoms, put before the world: our determination, our scientific understanding that there is the urgent need, there is the basis and the possibility, to prepare now for a real revolution to overthrow this system of capitalism-imperialism that is the source of the existential threat to humanity and to all the madness that people here and around the world suffer.  

    We Are the Revcoms states that:

    1.  We are determined to prepare the people and organize the forces for a real revolution that must finally lead in defeating the violent enforcers of this system;
    2.  We aim for nothing less than abolishing this system with all its oppressive institutions and its governing U.S. Constitution; and
    3.  We aim to establish a far better system based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America written by Bob Avakian. This constitution would provide the means to bring into being a society free all of slavery, all exploitation and oppression based on class, race, sex, and gender, and all relations in which one part of humanity is subordinated to and dominated by others.


    We’re here in the wake of the vigilante choking to death of Jordan Neely—a troubled man, an ill man by all reports, but an incredibly talented dancer and mime who could glide a Michael Jackson moonwalk not on slick and polished stage, but on the grit of a subway platform… transforming the drudgery and tedium of an outmoded underfunded public transit system for the masses into a sublime uplifting moment and a place of beauty.  

    Jordan Neely’s killing has touched a number of live third rails of this time in this cesspool of a country: the callous criminal suffocation and demonization of the poor, the homeless, the infirm, the mentally ill… it stabs at the wound of white supremacy taken to a new depth with the legitimization of vigilantism across the country and from the highest levels of bourgeois politics and media… it concentrates the hardening and accelerating fascist momentum in the funds raised for Jordan’s killer—just as they did for Kyle Rittenhouse and George Zimmerman—cheered on by Republican fascist politicians and media, with the mainstream imperialist Democratic Party far from thoroughly repudiating this, arresting protesters, sweeping up the homeless… and as my comrade Lenny Wolff brought out on last week’s The RNL—Revolution Nothing Less—Show, it reveals the class dictatorship we live under… which brings me back to the importance of WE ARE THE REVCOMS (Revolutionary Communists)—WE ARE WORKING FOR A REAL REVOLUTION AND A WHOLE NEW, EMANCIPATING WAY TO LIVE.

    Who is this Proclamation addressed to? To everyone who can’t stand this world the way it is... who is sick and tired of so many people being treated as less than human... These are but the opening two lines, as this preamble goes on to include all who are agonize over the state of things today… everyone who hungers for a world without oppression, exploitation, poverty, and destruction of the environment... everyone who has the heart to fight for something that is really worth fighting for…

    We call on all who feel this way to become a part of this revolution. And those of you here or who are watching online on The RNL Show, and those of you who support, sympathize with, or who are themselves Revcoms: Are YOU taking this out and putting this before everyone described in this opening paragraph? If so, we want to learn from your experience. If not, why not? And we can discuss that tonight.

    For this is a stark fact—a revolution when the conditions present themselves and the initial thousands have been organized requires millions to overthrow the system that we live under… If you’re keeping this message from the masses of people who do care but don’t know about this revolution and the leadership we have, then the seed of this proclamation will not bear the fruit of a revolution for a radically new emancipating way that people here and around the world could be living.


    Let’s take a look at the statement as it is on the broadsheet, which needs to be distributed far and wide and find its way up onto the walls—in the streets, in stores, community centers, schools and colleges… everywhere there are people who are described in the opening paragraph.

    I want to briefly point to three things in the first column—which we can discuss in the Q&A.

    1.  That we base our understanding of what is the problem we face on the scientific method and approach that Bob Avakian has brought forward.
    2.  It is that scientific method that reveals that it is the system of capitalism-imperialism that is the source of all the outrages and madness that people are subjected to all over the world. We draw special attention to the existential threat to the survival of humanity and much of life on earth that is heightened by the present growing danger of world war between nuclear powers—Russia and/or China and the U.S. And,
    3. That the very extremeness of the time we live in, and particularly to the sharp divide among the rulers of this system in this country, opens up the unusual, rare and unique time when a real revolution to overthrow this system could be possible.

    I will read now what it says about this possibility:

    This is a “rare time” when the capitalist-imperialists who rule over us, in this country, are deeply divided in a way they have not been since the Civil War in the 1860s, and the country is being ripped apart, with one section moving toward an outright fascist form of rule with the other fighting for the horrific way things have been. They cannot resolve these deep divisions, and “hold the country together,” on the basis of the “normal way” this system has operated—and, in any case, that “normal way” is full of oppression, destruction, and the real danger of wiping out humanity. For these reasons, this revolution we are working for is urgently necessary—and more possible.

    This column concludes with:

    Bob Avakian has sharply expressed this profound reality: We can no longer afford to allow these imperialists to continue to dominate the world and determine the destiny of humanity. And it is a scientific fact that humanity does not have to live this way—a whole different way to organize society, a whole better world, is possible.


    Which leads to the heart of the statement:

    Shaping up before us now are two fundamentally opposed futures: Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating.

    And because of this, we are determined, as I said at the beginning of this presentation, to do these three things (again, I’m going to read):

    • To seize on this “rare time” to develop the basis to actually make revolutionto finally defeat the violent enforcers of this monstrous system. This means organizing for this revolution now, among the most bitterly oppressed, and from all parts of society, first in the thousands and then in the millions, and doing so consistently with a country-wide perspective... politically impacting all of society and changing the terms of how masses of people see things and how every institution in society has to respond... developing the conscious, organized revolutionary forces to the point where, with millions won to revolution, it will then be possible to have a real chance to win.
    • To abolish this system, with all its oppressive institutions, and its governing U.S. Constitution—a document written by, and fundamentally serving the interests of, slave-owning and capitalist exploiters, from the founding of this country down to today—a document that restricts the notion of “freedom” to what is possible within the killing confines of this system of brutal exploitation and murderous oppression.
    • To establish a far better system, based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by Bob Avakian—which provides a sweeping vision, a firm foundation and concrete blueprint for bringing into being a society, and ultimately a world, free from all forms of slavery, all exploitation and oppression based on class, race, sex and gender, all relations in which one part of humanity is subordinated to and dominated by others. This socialist system, in uprooting the capitalist-imperialist system in this country and supporting revolutionary struggle in the world as a whole, will create a realistic possibility, and will move systematically and effectively, to address the already acute and fast accelerating environmental crisis, while also moving to abolish nuclear weapons, with the ultimate goal of finally abolishing wars among human beings, with the abolition of the capitalist-imperialist system, and all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression, which are the basis for wars.”


    So how do we go about doing this? That is what’s in the third column: where it outlines that:

    We have the method, strategy, and plan to make this real.

    To make what I have so far outlined from this statement: a real revolution, is a big deal. It is a hard road, a road that requires sacrifice. But there is no other way out of the madness of today and the terrible future that unfolds before our eyes. Don’t hide your eyes, cover your ears, and in a thousand ways avoid the reality—both the horror and the potential for real revolution for a liberating future—turning away, sticking your head in the sand, or making excuses to go along with the way things have been, standing apart from (or even bad mouthing) the revolution. Instead, get with this revolution, let’s not throw away the rare opportunity to be part of bringing something much better into being. All the more so because there is the leadership of Bob Avakian and the Revcoms, with the tools in the science that you can take up along with the strategy, the vision and the concrete blueprint in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America for a radically new society on the road to real emancipation.

    We can get into as much of this tonight as you want or as we have time for… but let this be the beginning of an urgent liberating process to fight for the future of humanity. A crucial start of this process is spreading this statement We Are the Revcoms far and wide and digging into it as we will begin to do tonight. This year, we are putting revolution on the map, and we are calling on you to be a part of doing that.

    Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America



    Statement from International Grad Student in Philosophy, Columbia University

    I first encountered the Revcoms through the May Day [May 1st, 2023] parade. It was a very fruitful event for me intellectually. I got to hear personal stories of a Haitian during the parade, who condemned U.S. invasions and interventions in Haiti starting in 1915. I also heard from Black citizens who refused to go to the Vietnam War, for “the true battle is against the ruling class and imperialism.” I heard people saying there is only one race and that is humanity. In the evening event at the Revolution Books bookstore that followed, I was invited to read a poem by a Gazan poet, who described the horrors and fears during an Israeli airstrike. People were really appreciative of my poetry reading, and I could sense solidarity in the air among people coming from some 10+ countries. It was really a fantastic night.

    I was again invited to the Jordan Neely protest and funeral. I got to exchange views with other members of Revcoms, and learnt from Carl Dix that it is not a matter of building more mental health asylums, but the system driven by profit is fundamentally inhumane for young, Black people like Jordan Neely.

    That perspective got me really interested in the larger ideology of the group. I did more research online about the Revcoms and Revolution Club, and one thing that resonated with me and with what Carl said was Sunsara Taylor’s critique of identity politics on YouTube: for immigrant children who are kidnapped at the border and working for big corporations, it does not matter that the person who suppressed exposure of this crime is Susan Rice, a Black female.

    "Woke" Lunacy Vs. Real Revolution — Sunsara Taylor Speaks at UCLA
    Episode 149 of The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show

    Bob Avakian said in a speech: with the same system in place, no matter who has the upper hand against whom, the horrible situation that some will oppress others will simply continue. We want to get to a world where there are no people who are up and no people who are down, no people who rule and no people who are ruled over, which seems to me to be true equality, more true than the Greek philosopher who envisioned the idea of equal citizenship of ruling and being ruled in his Politics. The same philosopher said different constitutions are distinguished by its ruling class and class interest; and Marx picked up on that and said the state is the violent machinery whereby the ruling class maintains its rule, and the ruling ideology in a state is the ideology of the ruling class. Along this vein, to change the nature of the profit-driven system, there is no alternative outside of a real revolution, revolution defined as the total change in the system based on the new constitution [Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian].

    These events are deeply thought provoking and prompt me to acquaint myself more deeply with Marxist literature. I helped the group spread words by posting fliers and the Proclamation “We Are the Revcoms” on Columbia campus. I call on more people to donate to the fund drive to continue that debate and spread more words for the flames of a real revolution.

    WE ARE THE REVCOMS (revolutionary communists)




    “A Challenge To the Youth” from
    The Bob Avakian Interviews

    Watch the full The Bob Avakian Interviews at

    Revcoms Write on the We Are the Revcoms Broadsheet

    Editors’ note: The following is an edited version of correspondence received this week from some revcoms in Chicago. This is a systematic approach to getting started with the We Are the Revcoms broadsheet. We encourage other revcoms to respond.

    We have been returning to the pre-May Day guidance on the proclamation/broadsheet We Are the Revcoms.

    This guidance is very concentrated and helpful. We Are the Revcoms, “Organizing for an Actual Revolution: 7 Key Points,” and the Bob Avakian (BA) Interviews are an overarching and leading edge of the whole strategic ensemble of our work in preparation for a real revolution. Concentrating and putting before all: our goal, our strategy, our morality and the leadership we have in BA, as we carry out the full roadmap of Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed. A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution. We Are the Revcoms will deepen and sharpen the ferocious struggle we need to have with all the ways people think about the world that keeps them chained to the system.

    In grappling with this ourselves certain things stand out.



    Digging Into—and Returning to—the Broadsheet

    Digging into the broadsheet in its own right for the Revolution Club and everyone in reach of the club and its supporters is very important. This was important going into May Day but much more could have and should have been done, even with the press of the build up to May Day, fundraising and the arrangements to print the broadsheet. We need to quickly return to this both in and around the club, through watching The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show and in forging plans.

    In thinking about why this frames and complements the "7 Key Points," we asked: “What is We Are the Revcoms doing that is needed? How does it sharpen the ferocious struggle we need to have with people?” It is a very popular version of setting before all the problem and the solution... it is emphasizing certain things from the standpoint of the seizure of power... the existential crisis of climate change and the growing danger of nuclear war.... not clinging to the awful "normal way" things have been in the face of the fascists. The contrast of the two constitutions... taking on the illusion that the U.S. Constitution is the best humanity can do... the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by BA, contrasts both the emancipating vision but also very concretely—getting rid of nuclear weapons and going to work on climate change. These in a sense could be “immediate demands” and objectively go up against the American chauvinism of war and destruction for preservation of U.S. domination and empire.

    The back page gives people ways into the revolution, to learn about and meet the leader of the revolution (the Interviews, who is BA) and also The RNL Show, the Revolution Clubs, and the website. This proclamation can go “anywhere” and do its work where people are being jolted, agonizing and lifting their heads if we can figure out how to get it out there (and take up political struggle in such a way that people are seeking it out)... WHO ARE THOSE PEOPLE?... THEY ARE THE REVCOMS.

    The importance of discussing the proclamation and returning to it is very critical for old and new alike and using it to forge groupings of people who are in varying degrees supportive of the revolution, spreading the broadsheet, fund raising to get it out all over the country, watching the Interviews and The RNL Show.

    Chicago Revolution Club member distributes We Are the Revcoms to a woman.


    Chicago Revolution Club member talks with woman about the proclamation.    Photo:

    Mobilizing Everyone, Far and Wide—and Contending with Dead-End Paths

    We should be mobilizing everyone to help get it out far and wide and whenever and wherever possible making a priority out of digging into the content to deepen people’s understanding of the rare times and the emancipating way of living that could be wrested out of the insanity.

    Since May Day, the club here has been in the midst of two outbreaks (the murder of Lil Red by the Chicago pigs and the reactionary protest in South Shore over the immigrants). What should look different about how we take up fighting the power and in particular transforming the thinking of the people with the proclamation, "7 Key Points," and the Interviews as a strategic leading framework and edge?

    In summing up the 2020 beautiful uprising around George Floyd, revolution was brought out but not in the sense of really contending with the dead-end paths in a mass way... we got out flyers but didn’t engage the reformist political lines that dominated the uprising frontally in the way needed.

    We have been wrestling with how to not turn the proclamation into something we just distribute. How does it really need to be wielded fully?

    Guys at bus stop in Chicago read We Are the Revcoms.


    Guys at bus stop in Chicago read We Are the Revcoms.    Photo:

    How would the club carry this out in the midst of these outbreaks (i.e., in the protests themselves) but also in and around them in a mass way?

    One way this would be different is if we actually joined the content with people and they began to wield it. For instance, there are stolen lives family members (those who have had people in their family murdered by pigs) who have responded to these police murders and are influential and supportive of the “revolution” who can play an outsize role in these struggles. Some are drawn to BA and have made statements in response to attacks on him. Delving into the proclamation with them, and them joining with the club in wielding it in the midst of these outbreaks and more generally is something we should pursue.

    In the midst of these protests around police murder should we consider dramatic actions like ripping up the U.S. Constitution to drive people to the message of the proclamation.

    Maybe it would mean getting the broadsheet to both the people who are protesting but also saturating whole areas where things are breaking out, enlisting as many others to do this as possible... maybe it would mean not just getting it to people at a protest but fighting to sit down with even one or two key people who are fighting for justice to get into what is in the broadsheet and why other things out there are dead ends. It is very important connecting with these outbreaks especially among the basic masses and the youth in and around the street life but we have to figure out how to bring them some key clips of the interview with BA as well as the broadsheet.

    One part of our plan should be to send or get stacks of 50 to 100 to individuals who live in different areas of the city. Everyone supportive of the club can get it out in the course of their everyday lives like Neesha (a beloved Revolution Club member who died last year) used to do... leave it on public transportation, post it at school or grocery store, stack at church, etc.

    Los Angeles, May First, reading broadsheet


    Los Angeles, May First, reading the broadsheet.    Photo:

    There are people we know who were “in the life” who have trouble going to different parts of the city but interact with others they could be engaging with over the proclamation.

    There are people the club knows in different cities who could get these out to people they know and they could also get out small stacks in hang-out spots, including memorials like grocery stores with George Floyd murals (Ferguson, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Waukegan, Champaign, Minneapolis, Baton Rouge, to name a few)... there are supportive people in all these areas. Ask them to fundraise too, tune into the fund drive livestream and get others to do so.

    Everyone who is going somewhere this spring or summer: Take stacks of the broadsheet to get out to people you see or leave/post in some key gathering spots. Take Spanish of the broadsheet too. Graduations, vacations, family retreats, etc.—seed and spread it all over.

    Car decorated for Chicago RevClub outing with the proclamation WE ARE THE REVCOMS and "Stop Attacks on Immigrants."


    Chicago Revolution Club takes out the proclamation and "Stop Attacks on Immigrants."   

    There are parts of the city where the club historically and in the last period concentrated having an IRL [in real life] presence. Are these areas where there is a plan to saturate, wall poster and get out to every household, and how do we mobilize all positive factors to accomplish this? There are different areas of the city where there are club members, friends of the club living there and/or have extensive family connections. What if there was a week where everyone we know there made it their mission to get the broadsheet out (i.e., saturate that part of town so it could hit with more impact)? Besides the individuals, there are small business people and community organizers who are friendly and small stores who could carry stacks. How through all this could there be fundraising plans made which would involve people?

    In South Shore, where right now there is a reactionary outbreak and fight to repolarize around the immigrants seeking asylum... how can the broadsheet really be wielded? How to saturate the whole area with it as part of the pole of a whole different way things could be? Holding discussions and playing clips of the Interview, The RNL Show etc.—how to fully make use of the Revolution Club center to do this?

    There are some key high schools... also doing this in ways that dramatize the message... like the skit about Ukraine and nuclear war... the earth on fire (even simple protests like the one in Austin on Earth Day with a stack of the broadsheet).

    There are some other parts of town with either mixed or broader middle strata where ways should be found to get this out.

    Also, the American Librarians Association (ALA) convention in Chicago in June is important to reach with this in some quantity.

    With an eye to the 2024 Democratic Party convention coming here, the Hyde Park neighborhood which is a big center of the “Obama legacy” takes on even more importance. This is good area to poster and saturate and also to get up widely the "A Challenge" poster around the BA Interviews—"What?! You Don't Know... The Most Important Political Thinker & Revolutionary Leader in the World Today”

    Something Terrible or Something Truly Emancipating - Square, wo "NEW"



    Alert! Danger of Major “Legal” Attack on Black People and Other Oppressed Nationalities:

    Fascist Supreme Court Expected to Launch Major Attack on Affirmative Action Soon

    The Supreme Court heard two cases this term challenging the use of race as one of many factors in considering student applications for admission to Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Affirmative action was a concession forced from the rulers of this society—the capitalist-imperialist class—by the massive struggle in the 1960s against the oppression of Black and other oppressed nationality people that is built into American society. Affirmative action programs resulted in significantly more Black and other students of oppressed nationalities, as well as women, being admitted into higher education institutions—many of which were virtually all-white. (In 1959, Harvard University had 18 Black freshmen—1.5% of the class!). The upcoming Supreme Court rulings are widely expected to completely overturn 50 years of established practice on affirmative action, even at private colleges such as Harvard, practices which had been upheld by earlier Supreme Court rulings.

    This is completely illegitimate.

    By putting affirmative action into law in the 1960s and ’70s, the federal government was being forced to acknowledge in a small way that for centuries, this country and its institutions had discriminated against Black, Latino and other oppressed people—and that particularly in higher education, there needed to be “affirmative” steps taken to address this. Since then affirmative action has been attacked and chipped away at (similar to how the right to abortion was attacked and chipped away at after the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision making it legal nationwide). This has been tantamount to the legal reinstitution and reinforcement of discrimination and overt white supremacy.1

    Affirmative Action rally at Supreme Court


    Students rally outside the Supreme Court in support of affirmative action.    Photo: AP

    But up to this point, affirmative action has still been upheld as constitutional. Previous court decisions upheld it as a way to achieve diversity on campuses, and then NOT even as a way to redress past discrimination. If the Supreme Court now outlaws affirmative action outright, this will be a major step backward—a major ATTACK—on Black and other oppressed people in many dimensions: hiring, access to educational opportunities and housing, representation on juries, etc.

    Many anticipate that the fascist super-majority on the Supreme Court will overturn affirmative action in the name of a “colorblind Constitution,” as the plaintiffs (those arguing against affirmative action) in the current cases argue. First of all, the U.S. Constitution was never “color-blind.” Color-blind? Not only was the enslavement and literal sale of African and then African-American people deemed “constitutional,” the U.S. Supreme Court went so far as to rule in the Dred Scott case that a Black person “had no rights which a white man was bound to respect.” Color-blind? This Constitution was the legal foundation for Black people being held in brutal conditions akin to slavery, generation after generation, after a short 10-year Reconstruction period following the Civil War. Color-blind? This exploiters’ Constitution justified segregating schools by race for nearly a century. If the fascist justices now on the Supreme Court were the least bit honest about what they are doing, they would wear their white robes and Klan hats to the session where they announce their decision!

    As Bob Avakian has said in discussing the actual treatment of Black people in this country, from slavery to Jim Crow and now to the situation today: “In terms of depravity, you can’t find anything Hitler and the Nazis did that was worse than this.” (From “AMERICA: Truly a Model—of Depraved RACIST GENOCIDE”)


    The expected decision on affirmative action is only one part of a larger legal offensive likely to come down in a series of Supreme Court decisions over the next few weeks. Stay tuned to, which will cover these decisions as they come down.

    One last point: The shock of this decision after the beautiful uprising after the police murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor raises yet again what it will take to actually put an end to the oppression of Black and other oppressed people. The proclamation WE ARE THE REVCOMS makes it clear that the U.S. Constitution is nothing but an exploiters’ vision of freedom in contrast to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, which aims to dig up the roots of the oppression of Black and all oppressed people here and around the world. 

    Over these next few weeks, revcoms should be seizing the opening to compare that instrument of exploitation and oppression, the U.S. Constitution, to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and should very explicitly make sure that people get exposed to the orientation and program of THIS Constitution to eradicate the oppression of Black and other oppressed nationality as one critical example of the society that millions need to be mobilized to fight for. 



    1. For example, after California banned affirmative action in 1998, Black and Latino enrollment at University of California, Berkeley, dropped from 24 percent of the total student body to just 13 percent. Latino enrollment has risen some since then due to demographic changes in the state. But today, over one-half of California’s college-age residents are Black or Latino, but only 15 percent of UC Berkeley’s freshmen class is Black or Latino. At California’s state universities, Black students were 8 percent of the freshman class in 1997, and that has fallen even lower to just 4 percent today. (For further background, see here and here.) These examples point to the devastating effects that Supreme Court’s striking down of affirmative action could have on students of oppressed nationalities across the country. [back]


    Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution

    Standing Up to Defend the People at Elementary School Targeted by Anti-LGBTQ Thugs

    As LGBTQ Pride Month opened, on June 2 nearly 200 anti-LGBTQ fascists descended on an elementary school in North Hollywood, California. They had banners and t-shirts that said “Leave Our Kids Alone” and they chanted “Stop grooming our kids.” They were met by 100 counter-protesters including LGBTQ rights groups, clergy, revcoms, and people who came on their own because they were concerned and disturbed and wanted to help provide support and safety for people coming under attack.

    The fascist assault was in response to a planned “Rainbow Day Assembly” at the school to mark LGBTQ Pride Month, where children were being read a book called The Great Big Book of Families that simply normalizes families that have “two mommies” or “two daddies.” While little children were inside attending school, the fascist mob yelled degrading and dehumanizing insults against LGBTQ people. Some used a cover of peacefully protesting for “parental choice,” but were grotesquely painting any recognition of the humanity of LGBTQ people as “sexual perversion” against children. The more thuggish elements tried to provoke fights with the counter-protesters. One hard-core fascist suggested over a microphone that “deadly force” and “gunshots” may be the only way to stop what he was portraying as a takeover by homeless drug addicts.

    Building up to this, these fascists targeted a trans third-grade teacher. The teacher’s pride flag was burned in a weekend break-in at the school. The teacher has been removed from the school and their pictures scrubbed from the school website in an attempt by the school to protect the teacher and the safety of everyone at the school.

    People mobilized to oppose all this. While the fascists rallied in the street with American flags, counter-protesters waved rainbow flags and formed a line on the sidewalk to prevent the fascists from coming over. At one point the fascists were allowed by the police to head straight to the school entrance and tried to rush the sidewalk of the entrance but were stopped by counter-protesters, including a line of revcoms who were oriented and organized to defend the rights and lives of people under attack by these thugs. Police then amassed and tried to push the LGBTQ rights protesters into the group of fascists, who snatched a flagpole from one protester to try to rip her rainbow flag off of it. Organizers were able to prevent this from becoming an all-out brawl, and then police formed a line between the two sides.

    The main message that came through from the counter-protest was that people were standing up for the humanity of LGBTQ people, and there was a clear feel of not allowing the fascists to intimidate and harm people. Many of the individuals who felt compelled to come said they wanted to help make sure people were safe. One man who said this is his first protest came because he’s “straight against hate” and wanted to help escort people to and from their cars or whatever was needed to make sure people at the school and parents bringing their kids would be able to get in and out safely.

    Revcoms at protest and counter-protest


    Fascists descending on Pride Day at Saticoy Elementary School in Los Angeles (top left) were met by people standing up in defense of LGBTQ rights, including clergy, revcoms, and others.   

    Within this, the revcoms were a serious force for revolution, working to defend people from attack and getting out the message of the proclamation “We Are the Revcoms (revolutionary communists).” While there is more that can be done to even more powerfully project all of this, we engaged people on the reality that society is ripping apart and that makes this a time of radical change one way or the other and there is a real force working for revolution, or as it’s said in the proclamation: “Shaping up before us now are two fundamentally opposed futures: Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating. … Which future we get depends to a great extent on what we do.”

    We posed to people the possibility of a whole new emancipating way we could be living and becoming part of working for this revolution. This was most concretely expressed in the enlargement we held as we lined up to block the fascists from coming through: Point of Attention #2 from the Points of Attention for the Revolution, which the revcoms live by and fight for. “We fight for a world where ALL the chains are broken. Women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades. We do not tolerate physically or verbally abusing women or treating them as sexual objects, nor do we tolerate insults or ‘jokes’ about people’s gender or sexual orientation.”

    Among the decent people, including clergy and even members of the media, seeing the fascist mob in front of a California elementary school was jolting. Some had tears in their eyes thinking about loved ones and the level of dehumanization and threats. When they encountered the revcoms, people were both challenged and drawn by confronting the reality of the ripping up of society. Some didn’t want to face this and didn’t want to consider revolution, but were moved when engaging that instead of this hell we could actually have a real chance at a new and better society and a real future for humanity.

    Three lessons:

    1) All of this is an illustration of Bob Avakian’s analysis that “‘the normal way’ society has been ruled is failing to hold things together—and society is increasingly being ripped apart—” and that “this can shake people’s belief that ‘the way things have always been’ is the only way things can be. It can make people more open to questioning—in a real sense it can force people to question—the way things have been, and whether they have to stay that way. And this is all the more likely to happen if the revolutionary forces are out among the people shining a light on the deeper reality of what is happening, and why, and bringing out that there IS an alternative to living this way.” (From Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed.)

    These fascists are not intending to confine themselves to passing monstrous anti-LGBTQ laws, but fully intend to attack even what have become accepted norms over the past years—accepted thanks to dogged and courageous struggle by LGBTQ people and those who support LGBTQ rights. And they don’t intend to confine their attacks to the states dominated by Republi-fascists. They intend to violently enforce their ugly shit—to terrorize LGBTQ people and, as one fascist said at the “Conservative” Political Action Committee convention, “eradicate them from public life.” These “Proud Boys” must not be allowed to wreak their ugly shit and the people who stand up against them need to be learning about why this is happening and what can and must be done about it.

    2) In this situation, it is extremely important to take to heart and energetically take initiative to implement these two guidelines from Bob Avakian:

    Instead of fighting and killing each other, what people need to be doing now is uniting to defend each other—opposing all unjust violence, not launching attacks on anyone but at the same time not allowing the police or “civilian” fascist thugs to wantonly brutalize and murder people.  And people need to do this as part of building up the forces for revolution.

    Instead of snarking and sniping at each other, and being divided by “identities,” people should be working to unite everyone, from every part of society, who can be united in the fight against oppression and injustice, with the goal of putting an end to this system that is the source of this oppression and injustice.

    What the revcoms did, with just five people, shows what people need to be doing everywhere.

    3) As the proclamation “WE ARE THE REVCOMS” makes clear, this is part of “apply[ing] the strategic approach of Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution: involving masses of people in rising up to resist the continuing crimes of this system, and defending people from attacks on their rights and their lives by racist, woman-hating and anti-LGBTQ thugs, in and out of government… winning people to the scientific understanding that we do not have to live this way—that this system of capitalism-imperialism is the root cause and fundamental source of all the unnecessary suffering that masses of people are subjected to, here and throughout the world, and poses a growing threat to the very existence of humanity through the accelerating destruction of the environment and increasing danger of nuclear war—and that we need to, and can, bring a whole different and much better system and world into being through revolution.”


    A Response to Pamela Paul's Knee-Jerk Denunciation of Mao’s Cultural Revolution...
    Or How Critical Thinking Is Deleted in “The Decade That Cannot Be Deleted”

    The May 19 print edition of the New York Times featured an opinion piece by Pamela Paul titled “The Decade That Cannot Be Deleted.” It is a vicious and uninformed takedown of the Cultural Revolution that was initiated and led by Mao Zedong in 1966—and that lasted until 1976, when a new exploiting class overthrew socialism.

    Paul repeats standard-issue lies and distortions about the Cultural Revolution: that “intellectuals were tortured,” that Mao “sought to purge Chinese society of all remaining non-communist elements,” that this was “political trauma” writ large in which “comrade turned on comrade, friend upon friend, husband upon wife, and child upon parent.” She cites figures (with no substantiation) that “1.6 million to two million deaths” resulted from what she describes as “the horrors of Maoism.”

    These kinds of misrepresentations, blatant disregard of the actual policies and leadership-guidance of the Cultural Revolution, and sensationalist accounts of “mob terror” are deconstructed and refuted in materials available on the Setting the Record Straight on the Russian and Chinese Revolutions resource page, now at Overall analysis of the Cultural Revolution can be found in the writings of Bob Avakian, especially “The Cultural Revolution in China...Art and Culture... Dissent and Ferment...and Carrying Forward the Revolution Toward Communism; in an extensive interview with me about the history of communist revolution; and there is other important research and work by various authors and scholars about the Cultural Revolution, including by some who took part in it.1

    Paul reduces a complex and turbulent decade of epochal struggle, experimentation, and transformation to vengeful violence. It is mind boggling how she elides the most essential question: what was the Cultural Revolution actually about... and what changes did it bring about? It would be as though you wrote an account of the U.S. Civil War and kept it at the level of the scale of disorder, dislocation, and death; rendered it as a needless “tragedy” of “brother-against-brother” in every household and workplace—but said nothing about the fundamental question and conflict underlying this war: slavery and its preservation and expansion, or its abolition.2

    1. Some Key Markers of a Truly Liberatory Decade... That Pamela Paul Obliterates

    Paul traffics in unsubstantiated death tolls, but says nothing about the countless lives saved and enriched by the Cultural Revolution—for instance, by the unprecedented expansion of health services to the countryside, and the creation of the most egalitarian, needs-based, universal health care system in the world. (For the record, Shanghai had a lower infant mortality rate in the early 1970s than did New York City!) You are kept in the dark about the ethos of “serve the people” that guided the management of the economy, that was taken up by people from all walks of life as a criterion for evaluating and, yes, criticizing leadership on all levels.

    Nor, reading Paul's article, would you gain any understanding of how a new revolutionary culture was being created—with ballets and operas that synthesized/hybridized Western and non-Western dance and musical techniques and forms—that told stories not of feudal dynasties but of bringing a new world into being, of women awakened to struggle for liberation. And just to be clear about charges of museum-sacking, while there was intense ideological struggle against old and enslaving customs, traditions, and culture—official state policy was to protect cultural relics.

    Revolutionary ballet during China’s Cultural Revolution.


    Revolutionary ballet during China’s Cultural Revolution.   

    Were there problems in how intellectuals and professional artists were treated? Yes. Were they persecuted, punished, and killed off as a category? No, this is “tales from the crypt” nonsense. Again, readers can go to sources cited above.

    Here is a thought-question to Pamela Paul. Why were the most radical forces of the 1960s and early 1970s in the U.S., like the Black Panther Party and currents within the women's liberation movement, looking towards, learning from, and popularizing experience and theory of the Cultural Revolution? It was because the Cultural Revolution was the crest of the worldwide rebellion and revolutionary upsurge that shook the foundations of oppressive class society. And Maoist China was undergoing something utterly unprecedented: a galvanic “revolution within a revolution.” It was a source of inspiration and hope to people across the planet aching and struggling for emancipation.

    But Pamela Paul skirts this reality and falls back lazily on bourgeois narratives of the Cultural Revolution as “mob terror” instigated by a fanatical Mao. It's not as if she had to toil away on this thesis. After all, we are ceaselessly bombarded with the message that communism is a “dangerous” and unworkable ideal that can only lead to nightmare. We hear it from ruling classes and from ideologues within academia; the media reinforces it; a veritable cottage industry of highly publicized memoirs of “suffering,” especially by people who lost privilege and station, gives the storyline a “human face” and patina of authenticity.

    “The Decade That Cannot Be Deleted” fits neatly into the pervasive, anticommunist narrative. But I must say that it is disappointing that Pamela Paul would produce such an intellectually irresponsible piece. She has been willing to “go against the tide” (to use a Maoist phrase of the Cultural Revolution) taking on character assassination, false accusations, no need-to-substantiate charges leveled against writers like Jeanine Cummins, author of the novel American Dirt... and unfounded assertions of transphobia directed at author J.K. Rowling. She has raised the banner of fact and evidence as opposed to unthinking judgment and censure.

    But when it comes to the monumental political-social revolution that was the Cultural Revolution—Pamela Paul tosses critical thinking and rigorous historical analysis out the window. Now in her article, Paul bemoans “the absence of real history” of the Cultural Revolution. But this is a disingenuous call for even more distortion of the Cultural Revolution in the name of historical “reckoning.” So let's unpack “real history.”

    2. What Was the Historical Backdrop and What Were the Actual Aims of the Cultural Revolution?

    Yes, that fundamental question ignored by Pamela Paul. The Cultural Revolution led by Mao was guided by his scientific analysis of the complex reality of Chinese society and the real dangers facing socialism at the time.

    Mao launched the Cultural Revolution to address a world-historic problem of communist revolution: how to keep a revolution aimed at putting an end to all exploitation and oppression on the road to achieving that goal. And how to do so in ways that enable the masses in their millions to understand and grapple with this problem, to wage new forms of revolutionary struggle under socialism to prevent the restoration of capitalism, and to further revolutionize the institutions of society and people's thinking and values.

    We have to step back further. In 1949, the Chinese revolution, mobilizing millions under Mao's leadership, came to power. It drove out foreign imperialism and shattered the old oppressive economic and social order marked by despotic landlord rule in the countryside, and corrupt urban capitalism. The revolution established a new socialist state power and economy geared to meeting basic needs. The revolution under Mao's leadership set out to forge new liberatory institutions, and new cooperative and collective relations among people, to challenge deeply entrenched subordination of women, and carry out other social transformations. 

    Some of the Barefoot Doctors who delivered health care to Inner Mongolia.


    The Cultural Revolution in China was marked by an unprecedented expansion of health services to the historically oppressed communities and the creation of the most egalitarian, needs-based, universal health care system in the world. Here "barefoot doctors," people trained in basic and preventative medicine reach out to people in the Inner Mongolia region.   

    But even as the revolution progressed, China was still, Mao analyzed, a society marked by social inequalities and differences: between the cities and rural areas; between a minority working mainly in the realm of ideas and administration and those mainly involved in laboring activity; between industry and agriculture; between men and women; and so on. There remained differences in income—and money and price were still integral to the functioning of the economy. Such “scars” of class society could not be eliminated overnight, but neither could they simply be “lived with.” These inequalities had to be restricted, reduced, and eventually overcome.

    Mao went further. He analyzed how a new privileged class, a new bourgeois capitalist class—whose roots lay in the kinds of inequalities just described—had emerged within the top levels of the Chinese Communist Party and government. This new bourgeoisie was seeking (in the name of a more “efficient” socialism) to put the economy on a profit-based foundation; to put the educational system on an elitist and technocratic footing; to focus resources to the cities, away from the countryside where the great majority of people (peasants) lived at the time.

    These “capitalist roaders” had tremendous strength and influence by the early 1960s in the military, in governing, economic, educational, and cultural institutions. They were already implementing such policies in ways they could. By the mid-1960s, they were maneuvering to seize power.

    That was the real-world backdrop for the Cultural Revolution. For ten years, Mao led a mass revolution to prevent capitalist restoration. Society was “sprung into the air.” New systems of political governance enabled workers and peasants to take greater responsibility for the direction of society. “Open door” research brought scientists to the countryside to conduct experiments alongside peasants and to share their lives. I already talked about the breakthroughs in culture.

    Yet and still, the capitalist roaders amassed the strength to carry out a violent coup in 1976. These forces arrested Mao’s widow, Chiang Ching, who died in prison along with other significant top leaders of the Cultural Revolution, and murdered many others.

    The China of today is ruled by a new bourgeois-capitalist class—the very political target of the Cultural Revolution. These capitalist roaders in power systematically restructured China's socialist economy, turning China into a sweatshop for world capitalism, into a society marked by some of the world's most extreme inequalities of wealth and income. China is now the second largest home of billionaires. It is the world's top carbon polluter. China has evolved into a capitalist-imperialist power plundering resources in Africa and elsewhere.

    For purposes of legitimacy and stability, this new bourgeois ruling class feels compelled to maintain the Communist Party—now as a repressive force enforcing the dictates of capital and pursuing China’s imperialist interests. And it suppresses the actual history of the Cultural Revolution for the obvious contrasts with what they are doing today.

    3. What Were the Methods of the Cultural Revolution?

    Yes, another fundamental matter ignored by Paul: the actual methods of the Cultural Revolution. Mao was aiming to prevent the restoration of capitalism—not through purge and murder but by calling on and mobilizing tens and hundreds of millions of workers, peasants, and students to take up a “second revolution” to overthrow these capitalist roaders through political struggle and carry the revolution forward in all spheres of society.

    The main forms of struggle of the Cultural Revolution were mass debate (over policy and the direction of society) in public forums, newspapers, and wall posters; mass political mobilization—demonstrations, strikes, political uprisings that led to new and more participatory forms of political power; and mass criticism in public gatherings and assemblies of authorities promoting neo-capitalist policies and programs, as well as administrators, high-ranking professionals, experts, and others who were influenced by a bourgeois-elitist outlook and grown detached from the basic people.

    Big character poster in China


    Big character posters on factory wall in China provided the masses a new form of revolutionary struggle under socialism to prevent the restoration of capitalism.   

    These methods of struggle were clearly spelled out in official and widely publicized documents, including the following guidance: “Where there is debate, it should be conducted by reasoning and not by force.”

    Acts of violence and killings did take place during the Cultural Revolution. But here is what the evidence shows:

    • This was not the main trend of the Cultural Revolution, and it was not the orientation of Mao.
    • When things went in a violent direction, Mao and the revolutionary forces condemned and criticized such trends through statements, directives, editorials, and on-the-ground interventions.
    • Much of the violence fanned during the Cultural Revolution was actually instigated by the new capitalist forces, especially for the purpose of discrediting Mao.

    Now there were shortcomings and problems, even serious ones, in the larger approach of the Cultural Revolution. In attempting to narrow that great divide between mental and manual labor, in promoting new revolutionary art and cultural activity by peasants and workers—too many constraints were placed on professional artistic and intellectual work. You didn't have the kind of intellectual-cultural ferment needed in a society on the road to communism. There was not the understanding of the great importance of dissent, including dissent from anti-socialist perspectives. This has been explored deeply in the work of Bob Avakian.3

    Constitution For The New Socialist Republic In North America cover 400


    4. Memory, Nostalgia, and the Fight for Historical Truth

    Paul presses her case against the Cultural Revolution by invoking the thematic of the new book Red Memory: The Afterlives of China's Cultural Revolution by British journalist Tania Branigan. This is the notion that in China people are not allowed to remember, there is an “enforced forgetting” of, the Cultural Revolution. Translation: people are not being sufficiently encouraged and institutionally led to collectively remember in a certain way—that is, to have and embrace the memory of... “the horrors of Maoism.”

    Even more disturbing for Branigan and Paul is the problem of mis-remembering, specifically what they view as a dangerous “nostalgia” for the Cultural Revolution. They lament that sections of young people “yearn for its [the Cultural Revolution's] 'idealism' and clarity,” and that “former Red Guards recall the unity and purpose missing in today's materialist society [in China].”

    Pamela Paul goes one step further. She likens this kind of sympathy for and attraction to the Cultural Revolution to Civil War “nostalgia” and “reenactments” in the U.S.—with its “Confederate statues and weddings on Southern plantations.” To which I must politely retort: what universe do you live in? The Cultural Revolution was the continuation of the struggle of the former slaves, serfs, oppressed and exploited for emancipation. It struck, and continues to strike, “horror” among oppressors and ideologues of oppression (and the woefully misinformed).

    Paul cites poet-essayist Clint Smith's work How the Word Is Passed and the role that memory and history can play in making sense of America's past and present—its legacy of slavery and segregation. And, by analogy, she suggests that that kind of “reckoning” is what's needed in China with regard to the Cultural Revolution. But, again, she has it all wrong and twists reality!

    Is Pamela Paul aware that in April 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, when Black people rose in mighty rebellions, Mao Zedong issued a powerful statement of support? He declared that this righteous rising of Black people was a “clarion call to all the exploited and oppressed people in the United States to fight against the barbarous rule of the monopoly capitalist class,” and “a tremendous aid and inspiration to the struggle of the people throughout the world against U.S. imperialism and to the struggle of the Vietnamese people against U.S. imperialism.” How has that “word been passed” to you?

    And here is a further irony. The Reconstruction period of U.S. history in the years 1867-1877 saw radical social transformation: in the participation of the formerly enslaved in political life, in access to economic resources, in the opening up of educational opportunity. But for decades—and not just in historical works reflecting the former Confederate outlook but also in much mainstream historiography—this was depicted as a time of excess, government overreach, vindictive violence, of “carpetbaggers” seeking personal aggrandizement. Very much like the mainstream anti-Cultural Revolution narratives that masquerade as history and contribute to an unquestionable conventional wisdom.

    5. A Basic Point of Orientation, and an Invitation

    Bob Avakian wrote a short but important essay in 2013 titled “A Question Sharply Posed: Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson?” It opens this way:

    Slave rebellion or slave master? Do you support the oppressed rising up against the oppressive system and seeking a radically different way, even with certain errors and excesses—or do you support the oppressors, and the leaders and guardians of an outmoded oppressive order, who may talk about “inalienable rights” but bring down wanton brutality and very real terror, on masses of people to enforce and perpetuate their system of oppression?

    And further in this essay, he poses this question:

    Do we need to learn from not only the overwhelmingly positive experience of the communist movement so far, but also its shortcomings, including sometimes serious errors and even excesses? Yes, this is an important part of the new synthesis of communism, and it is crucial to be able to do even better in the new stage of communist revolution.

    This applies profoundly to the Cultural Revolution. We must learn from its enormous achievements, indeed rescue the truth of those achievements from distortion, but also learn from its mistakes and excesses. Precisely to do better, on the basis of the new communism developed by Bob Avakian, in making the revolution to free humanity from all oppression in today's world.

    In this spirit, I invite Pamela Paul to come to Revolution Books in Harlem to engage in a serious and open-minded conversation about the real history of the Cultural Revolution.



    1. See, for instance, Mobo Gao, Gao Village: Rural Life in Modern China; Dongping Han, The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village; and Xueping Zhong, et al, Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era. [back]

    2. Which, in fact, is how that history was taught until very recently in the U.S., not only in the schools but through popular culture, like the film Gone With the Wind (and is again being taught in places like Florida and Texas). [back]

    3. To take one example, Bob Avakian has written about the “wrong and harmful notion … that truth has a class character—that there’s bourgeois truth and proletarian truth. This even found its way into guiding directives of the Cultural Revolution in China and ran counter to its overwhelmingly positive character as a mass revolutionary struggle being led on a communist basis.” This passage in BREAKTHROUGHS: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, from the section “The Science,” is worth going deeply into, and for the work that Avakian has done on both the epistemology, or theory of knowledge, of the new communism and a different conception of how socialist state power should be exercised, we strongly refer the reader to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which sets out the sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a socialist society in which dissent and intellectual ferment, and the search for the truth, are fostered on an unprecedented scale, and part of the very fabric of the new socialist society. [back]


    Scientists Sound Alarm:
    Pace of Climate Change Moving More Quickly to Cross 1.5 C Danger Level

    Somali families flee drought stricken area, June 2022.  Tens of millions of people are being uprooted by natural disasters due to the impact of climate change.


    Somali families flee drought stricken area, June 2022.  Tens of millions of people are being uprooted by natural disasters due to the impact of climate change.    Photo: AP

    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued a stark and alarming report last week. Climate change is already catastrophic—it is driving famine in Africa, heat waves in Asia that kill thousands, creating climate refugees all over the planet. But in the next five years, according to these new scientific findings, we are almost certain to see what the WMO calls a “surge” in global temperature. And during this time, it is quite likely that the average global temperature will rise to 1.5 degrees Centigrade (C) above pre-industrial levels (the period 1850-1900). Even though the WMO predicts that the temperature will drop somewhat after reaching this peak, at least temporarily, this potential breach of 1.5 C degrees is happening faster than previous scientific analysis projected.

    The 1.5 degrees C rise is equivalent to 2.7 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale commonly used in the U.S.

    This potential breach of 1.5 degrees C is a signal of the very grave danger we face. The 1.5 degrees C level is a level that scientists have said we should not cross—a level which if sustained would cause grave and in some ways nearly irreversible damage to the environment and life on the planet, with extremely serious consequences for society.

    Global Warming from 1880 to 2022.
    Credit: NASA Climate Change

    Behind the More Rapid Temperature Rise

    There are two key reasons for the imminent surge in the coming years.

    The main and overwhelming one is that the capitalist-imperialist system continues to massively burn coal, oil, and gas which produces greenhouse gases which heat up the planet. This system is utterly incapable of getting off of this trajectory. For 50 years, we have seen climate conference after climate conference, major international agreement after major international agreement promising to cut emissions, yet this system continues to spew out greenhouse gases. Bob Avakian has deeply analyzed why this is so, see here and here, and there are many important articles on which speak to this on the special page on the environment: “Capitalism-Imperialism Is Destroying the Planet... Only Revolution Gives Humanity a Real Chance to Save It”

    Chart of rising CO2 level from 1880 to 2020.


    Chart: NOAA/NCDC   

    The second reason for the coming temperature surge is that in the last three years, the planet has been going through a natural climate cycle known as La Niña.  La Niña cools the planet, and this cooling has slowed down as a result of how fast climate change has heated it up. La Niña is now coming to an end, and will be replaced by El Niño, which will heat up the planet. El Niño heating will combine with the heat from the continually rising level of greenhouse gases spewed out by this system, and this is what is highly likely to take things past the 1.5 C limit.

    The Outsize Role of the U.S. in Climate Change

    We have to be very clear: while climate change is a capitalism-imperialism problem,

    • the U.S. is #1 in destroying the climate
    • the U.S. is #1 in history in injecting greenhouse gases (carbon and methane that trap heat in the atmosphere)
    • the U.S. military is the #1 institutional injector of greenhouse gases
    • the U.S. is the #1 producer of oil and natural gas
    • the U.S. is #1 in carbon emissions per person among major industrialized countries

    The rising heat will further damage the natural life-support systems of the planet, which are already under severe stress, and devastate vast sections of the people in the Global South who are already living on the desperate edge of survival and who have contributed very little to the carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

    Because of relentless heat, Pakistani laborers sleep in the street.


    Because of relentless heat, Pakistani laborers sleep in the street.    Photo: AP

    An Already Dangerous Trajectory... a System That Has Brought Us to This Precipice

    Even before this coming surge, what has been happening to the global climate up to now is already extremely alarming and very dangerous. The WMO released another report earlier this year about climate developments up through 2022. Here are just a few of the hair-raising things they pointed out:

    • The years 2015 to 2022 were the eight warmest years on record back to 1850 when they started modern temperature measurements.
    • The Greenland Ice Sheet, the biggest mass of ice in the world outside of Antarctica, lost ice in 2022 for the 26th year in a row. Sea ice in Antarctica reached the lowest level ever. Melting of glaciers is likely to continue for thousands of years.
    • Sea level and ocean heat reached the highest level ever and this will likely continue, leading to changes that cannot be reversed for hundreds to thousands of years.
    • Drought, floods, and heatwaves are hitting many regions of the world. The WMO Secretary General said, “For example, in 2022, continuous drought in East Africa, record breaking rainfall in Pakistan and record-breaking heatwaves in China and Europe affected tens of millions, drove food insecurity, boosted mass migration, and cost billions of dollars in loss and damage.”

    Very importantly, there are some extremely urgent and essential things NOT in the WMO reports. We conclude with these paragraphs from our earlier article on findings of the UN Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change that fully apply here:  

    What’s missing from this report is the sobering and inconvenient truth that it is IMPOSSIBLE for this system to interact sustainably with the environment. Fossil fuels are poured into the foundations of capitalism-imperialism, and to reduce and abolish their use with the urgency, and on the scale and scope, needed would require nothing less than a revolution to overthrow this system and replace it with a radically different, liberating, and ecologically sustainable socialist economic-social system.

    There is a strategy for this revolution, a blueprint for this society, and the leadership to get us there. And this is not some far off pipe dream—this is a time when such a revolution becomes more possible in this very country. Making this revolution would give us the only real chance to seriously address and truly act on this crisis. Those who agonize, who are filled with dread and rage, over the climate crisis NEED to become a part of this revolution.

    WE ARE THE REVCOMS Mayday 2023



    American Crime Case #41: COINTELPRO—The FBI Targets the New Left, 1964-1971

    Bob Avakian has written 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 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.

    See all the articles in this series.

    BAsics cover 600

    BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian   

    Between the anti-war protesters and the war planners in the Pentagon; between the Black Panthers and J. Edgar Hoover; between Black, Latino, Asian, and Native peoples on the one side and the government on the other; between the women who rebelled against their “traditional” roles and the rich old men who ruled the country; between the youth who brought forward new music, in the broadest sense, and the preachers who denounced them as disciples of the devil and despoilers of civilization: the battle lines were sharply drawn. And through the course of those tumultuous times, those who were rebelling against the established order and the dominating relations and traditions increasingly found common cause and powerful unity; they increasingly gained—and deserved—the moral as well as political initiative, while the ruling class dug in and lashed out to defend its rule, but increasingly, and very deservedly, lost moral and political authority.

    —Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:6


    From 1956-1971, the FBI operated a covert, illegal program that targeted the system’s political opponents in the U.S. The program, COINTELPRO (for COunter INTELligence PROgram), was used to infiltrate, harass, disrupt, smear, and murder or destroy individuals and organizations. COINTELPRO initially targeted the Black civil rights and liberation movements.1 (See, American Crime “Case #42: COINTELPRO—The FBI Targets the Black Freedom Struggle, 1956-1971.”)

    From 1964-1971, COINTELPRO targeted student activists and the anti-Vietnam War movement, known as the New Left.2 COINTELPRO operatives worked with the local police and “red squads” to target individuals to be arrested. Dirty tricks were used to try to foment disputes between and split up political organizations. The FBI coordinated raids with the local police, and worked in conjunction with local police to attack demonstrations where nonviolent protesters were brutally beaten and murdered.3

    Three major events led to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s decision to institute COINTELPRO against the New Left:

    1. In the fall of 1964, the Free Speech movement at UC Berkeley captured the imagination of students throughout the country and resulted in college demonstrations against ROTC, the CIA, and universities’ involvement with military and defense research;
    2. With the U.S. escalation of the war in Vietnam in 1965, SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) expanded,4 and by 1967 SDS had become a major force on the campuses along with other organizations like the Vietnam Day Committee at UC Berkeley. It was estimated that SDS had over 30,000 active members on 250 campuses;
    3. In April 1968, students at Columbia University occupied five campus buildings and went on strike in opposition to institutional racism, the university’s support for the U.S. war machine, and the university’s suspension and expulsion of student activists. Columbia was brought to a standstill. Cops were called in to smash the strike.



    Stop the Draft Week: “From Dissent to Resistance”, Oakland CA, 1967 (Photo: AP)
    Read more.    Photo: AP

    In May 9, 1968, a month after the Columbia student takeover, Hoover issued a memo to institute COINTELPRO in order to disrupt, attack, and destroy the New Left.5

    His tactics included drafting leaflets smearing the left, fomenting conflicts between different groups, working with local police to bust activists for using pot, sending anonymous letters warning parents and school administrators of what their children and students were supposedly doing, warning police about antiwar coffee houses opening near military bases, and using disinformation and ridicule to counter the New Left’s publications and activities. All these secret COINTELPRO tactics were aimed at preventing the New Left from exercising their First Amendment rights, preventing efforts to speak, to teach, to write and publish, to meet, to protest, and to unite with the Black liberation struggle and other struggles for national liberation.6

    By 1970, the FBI, in conjunction with U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark’s Interdivisional Information Unit, had issued more than 40,000 intelligence reports concerning “civil disorders and campus disturbances” involving over 10,000 students.7

    The FBI, in conjunction with the Justice Department and the local police, busted political activists on assorted charges.

    Frank Donner, an ACLU expert on political surveillance and counterintelligence, in 1971 pointed out that “The pot bust has become a punitive sanction against political dissent and the threat of prosecution (on drug charges) is a favorite method of ‘hooking’ student informers.”8 For instance, John Sinclair, head of the White Panther Party (an anti-racist and anti-capitalist group organizing among white youth), was arrested by two undercover pigs at a rock concert for smoking marijuana. He received a nine-and-a-half-year sentence! Also, it was well known within the movement that cops would plant marijuana in order to arrest political activists.

    The FBI and local cops went after leaders of the movement by arresting them on bogus conspiracy charges where lengthy, expensive, and time-consuming trials were held. Two important conspiracy trials were the Chicago 8 and the Oakland 7 that were held in response to massive protests against the Vietnam War in those two cities.9 These trials set a new standard for how to deal with the government’s repression against the movement and its leaders, with the defendants and their attorneys taking a militant stand, going on the offensive against the government in the courtroom, and raising the antiwar movement to a new level.

    Arrests for desecration of the flag were another way activists were targeted. The ACLU reported at least 100 flag cases by May 1971. “Police red squads working in collusion with FBI COINTELPRO operatives rousted demonstrators, who incorporated the flag into their apparel, altered it to include peace signs, or movement symbols, burned it, or displayed it upside down.”10 (Bob Avakian writes in his memoir that he served 30 days in jail on trumped-up charges of desecration of the flag at a Free Huey Newton demonstration at the Oakland, California, courthouse.11 )

    The FBI attacked the underground press,12 and COINTELPRO was used to attack SDS.13

    BAsics cover 600

    BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian   

    When a monopoly of political power—and, in a concentrated way, the monopoly of “legitimate” armed force—is in the hands of one group in society, and that group excludes others from that monopoly of power and force, then that is a dictatorship of the ruling group—or class—regardless of whether or not that ruling group allows those it excludes from power, and over whom it rules in fact, to take part in elections to vote for different representatives of the ruling class, as happens in the U.S. and a number of other countries. Political rule in the U.S., regardless of whether or not there is an open and undisguised tyranny, is and always has been a bourgeois dictatorship, a dictatorship of the ruling capitalist class (or, in the early history of the U.S., before the defeat and abolition of the slave system, through the Civil War, what existed was the dictatorship of the ruling classes—the slaveowning as well as the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie).

    —Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:23

    Agents Provocateurs: The FBI sent infiltrators into organizations in order to foment acts of violence that would enable the authorities to attack those organizations. These infiltrators are known as “agents provocateurs.”

    The “Camden 28” defendants were acquitted of all charges for breaking into the New Jersey Selective Service office in an attempt to destroy draft files after it was revealed that the prosecution’s star witness admitted the FBI instructed him to infiltrate the group, propose the action, and provide the burglary tools used to break in.14

    Ward Churchill writes that one of the most well-known agents provocateurs was Thomas Tongyai, who was paid by the FBI and spent two years going to colleges in western New York state “urging students to kill police, make bombs and blow up buildings.”15

    Alfred Burnett, an FBI-paid infiltrator, “lured Larry Eugene Ward into planting a bomb at a Seattle real estate office on the morning of May 15, 1970, by paying Ward $75, providing him with the bomb, and giving him transportation to the bombing scene. Ward, a 22-year-old veteran who had been twice wounded and decorated three times for service in Vietnam, was shot and killed by waiting Seattle police as he allegedly fled after the bombing attempt, although he was unarmed, on foot, and boxed in by police cars.”16

    Attacking Support for the Black Panther Party: The FBI was very concerned about coalitions forming between SDS and the Black Panther Party, which they felt would “pose a formidable threat,” and they were out to stop it using COINTELPRO tactics, including by sending phony letters aimed at stirring animosity between the two organizations.

    One letter the FBI sent to the BPP in Newark, New Jersey, was addressed “Dear Pussycats,” signed by SDS, and ridiculed BPP cadre: “I just read the 10/10/70 issue of your paper, particularly pages 3, 4 and 5 and was much impressed with the people’s Army. A woman, a boy and an old man.’ Man, you sure are tough. You’re a Joke man. You’re some vanguard of the oppressed black.”

    Jean Seberg: COINTELPRO tactics were used to attack and prevent influential people from openly and financially supporting the Black Panther Party. Actress Jean Seberg was one.

    An FBI memo approving the targeting of Seberg stated: “Jean Seberg has been a financial supporter of the BPP and should be neutralized. Her current pregnancy by (redacted name) while still married affords an opportunity for such effort.” Based on an FBI note to gossip columnists, Joyce Haber wrote about this in the Los Angeles Times. She did not name Seberg but the damage had been done. Haber’s article caused Seberg to miscarry and ultimately commit suicide.17

    Bob Avakian: In his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond, Bob Avakian (BA), Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, talks about how he was a target for surveillance. At a demonstration, he was approached by the head of the Berkeley police “red squad” and told that he and the Revolutionary Union (the RU, which BA played a central role in founding) were under surveillance. He wrote about being in Chicago for the New Politics Convention, and going back to his car and finding a guy who was “obviously from the Chicago red squad or the FBI” in a car behind his car “writing things down.” A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) discovery revealed that the House of Representatives did a “whole report and investigation on the RU.” Another FOIA inquiry also showed that BA was under surveillance in Maywood, a suburb of Chicago, and that the FBI had made a diagram of the inside of his house, “indicating through which windows someone could see different things going on inside the house.” This was a similar type of diagram to that used by the FBI and the Chicago cops that enabled them to assassinate Fred Hampton, leader of the Chicago Black Panther Party.18, 19

    From Ike to Mao and Beyond cover

    From Ike to Mao and Beyond—My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a memoir by Bob Avakian   

    to Bob Avakian
    read from his memoir

    excerpts from
    the memoir

    the book from


      J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI: Hoover was a staunch anti-communist who had instituted COINTELPRO.

      The FBI: William C. Sullivan, the assistant FBI director, took the student occupation of Columbia University “very seriously.” For the FBI, the New Left became “fair game.”20

      The U.S. Government: The U.S. government initiated a number of conspiracy trials against the New Left. Among them, Lyndon Johnson’s administration charged renowned pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock and Yale University chaplain the Reverend William Sloane Coffin with conspiring to advise people to evade the military draft. Richard Nixon’s administration prosecuted prominent antiwar leaders—like the Chicago 8 and the Seattle Liberation Front (the Seattle 7, 1970) with conspiracy to incite a riot. Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 for theft and conspiracy after he released the top secret Pentagon Papers in 1971 exposing U.S. lies and deception in the Vietnam War. The Gainesville 8 leaders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) were charged with conspiracy to disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida.


      COINTELPRO was a secretive, covert operation that no one outside the FBI was to know about. Therefore, no public rationale for it was required.

      However, Hoover, so concerned that the student movement was sweeping the campuses, wrote a public letter in September 1970 to college students attempting to persuade them not to join the mass protests rocking the campuses and the country.

      Hoover applauded the students for being the “best educated, most sophisticated, most poised generation in our history,” and upheld their desire to make America “a better country,” and their right to want change. “There’s nothing wrong with student dissent or student demands for changes in society or the display of student unhappiness over aspects of our national policy,” he wrote. But he warned them against violence, lawlessness and those who have “lost faith in America,” claiming they just wanted chaos, “violence and destruction,” and had “no rational, intelligent plan of the future.” Then he offered the students FBI tips for avoiding being lured into “extremist” activities (with the implication students should snitch on activists).21


      Bob Avakian: "Free Yourself from the GTF!"


      In a meeting between President Lyndon Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover on April 28, 1965, James Kirkpatrick Davis, who has extensive ties with the FBI, writes:

      Johnson expressed extraordinary anxiety over the New Left movement and what it was doing to the country. He told Hoover that, according to intelligence reports reaching him, the North Vietnamese and Red Chinese felt that intensified antiwar agitation in the United States would eventually create a traumatic domestic crisis leading to a complete breakdown in law and order. Thus...U.S. troops would have to be withdrawn from Vietnam in order to restore domestic tranquility. Quite simply, the president felt that the New Left movement was giving encouragement to the enemies of the United States.22

      The purpose of COINTELPRO was written in a memo from J. Edgar Hoover to the FBI on how it was to be used against the New Left:

      Our nation is undergoing an era of disruption and violence caused to a large extent by various individuals generally connected with the New Left. Some of these activists urge revolution in America and call for the defeat of the United States in Vietnam. They continually and falsely allege police brutality and do not hesitate to utilize unlawful acts to further their so-called causes. The New Left has on many occasions viciously and scurrilously attacked the Director and the Bureau in an attempt to hamper our investigation of it and to drive us off the college campuses. With this in mind, it is our recommendation that a new Counterintelligence Program be designed to neutralize the New Left and Key Activists. The Key Activists are those individuals who are the moving forces behind the New Left and on whom we have intensified our investigations.

      The purpose of this program is to expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize the activities of this group and persons connected with it.23

      Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy cover


      Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy by Bob Avakian   

      Selected Bibliography


      Churchill, Ward, and Vander Wall, Jim, The COINTELPRO Papers, South End Press, 1990.

      Cunningham, David, There’s Something Happening Here: The New Left, The Klan, and FBI Counterintelligence, University of California Press, 2004.

      Friedman, John S., ed., The Secret Histories: An Anthology, Picador, 2005.

      Jeffreys-Jones, Rhodri, We Know All About You: The Story of Surveillance in Britain and America, Oxford University Press, 2017.


      COINTELPRO, FBI Counterintelligence, Covert Operations, Black Bag Jobs, Church Committee,” The Freedom Archives

      CONINTELPRO: The Untold American Story,” Paul Wolf, Civil Liberties Defense Center

      Counterintelligence: A Documentary Look at America’s Secret Police,” Vol. 1, by the National Lawyers Guild, 1980

      Important Lessons on Political Piggery: How FBI COINTELPRO Targeted Radical Groups,” Revolution, August 20, 2014

      COINTELPRO, Wikipedia


      1. This secret program was only discovered in the early 1970s after some activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and released the documents they had obtained. On the night of March 8, 1971, when the nation was paying attention to the first heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, eight antiwar protesters burglarized an FBI office in Media, just outside Philadelphia, taking thousands of documents. The stolen material included the secret case histories of thousands of Americans. Much of it was malicious gossip about things like “sexual deviance and race-mixing,” two of J. Edgar Hoover’s favorite subjects. Betty Medsger of the Washington Post received some of the files, and she was the first to break the story. She noticed a routing slip with the word “COINTELPRO” on it, but did not know what it meant. NBC reporter Carl Stern sought to find out what this word meant, and he obtained more documents under the Freedom of Information Act that revealed the full scope of COINTELPRO.  [back]

      2. The “New Left” was a broad, diverse political and cultural movement that arose during the 1960s, mainly among young people and students in the U.S. and Europe. It was sparked by and centered around support for the Black civil rights and liberation struggles, opposition to the U.S. war in Vietnam, and later the women’s and gay liberation struggles. It was called the “New Left” because in many ways it developed separately from or in opposition to the “old left” from the 1930s and 1940s in particular, linked to the revisionist Communist Party, USA.  [back]

      3. The most notable of those who were murdered by the local cops in conjunction with the FBI were:

      • The shooting of student demonstrators at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4, 1970, when national guardsmen opened fire on a crowd protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia, killing four—Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder—and wounding nine (several of the dead and wounded were bystanders rather than demonstrators).

      • James Rector, who was shot and killed during the Berkeley People’s Park protests in May 1969, while he was on a rooftop near the park. (Also see Bob Avakian’s memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond, 199-201, for more on the People’s Park struggle.)

      • Samuel Hammond, Delano Middleton, and Henry Smith were killed and 28 others wounded when South Carolina state troopers fired without warning on a peaceful demonstration in February 1968 at South Carolina State College in Orangeburg.

      • Willie Ernest Grimes was shot and killed by police during demonstrations at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University on May 21, 1969.

      • Phillip Gibbs and James Earl Green were killed and 12 were wounded when Mississippi highway patrolmen fired into a dormitory at Jackson State University, May 15, 1970.

      (All of the above are chronicled in the book, The COINTELPRO Papers, by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, pp. 220-221.)  [back]

      4. In his memoir, on  pp. 193-198, Bob Avakian discusses his encounters with SDS where it first was formed as an organization to make the U.S. “live up to proclaimed principles of democracy” in 1960, but then became more “radicalized with some various revolutionary currents” in the late 1960s.  [back]

      5. The next day Hoover outlined the tactics:

      1. Prepare leaflets “designed to counteract the impression that SDS and other groups speaks for the majority of students” and put “obnoxious photos” of student leaders on the leaflets.

      2. Take advantage of “personal conflicts or animosities existing between New Left leaders.”

      3. Give the “impressions that certain New Left leaders are informants for the Bureau or other law enforcement agencies.”

      4. Use articles to show the “depravity of New Left leaders and members,” e.g. use of drugs and free sex, and send these articles to parents, wealthy donors, and university officials.

      5. Alert the local authorities about who in the New Left is using marijuana in order to have them arrested on drug charges.

      6. Send anonymous letters to a New Left member’s parents, parents’ neighbors, and parents’ employers describing the activities of the New Left member.

      7. Send anonymous letters to university officials, legislators, and Boards of Regents, describing the activities of faculty members and graduate assistants in the New Left movement.

      8. Use cooperative press to describe the activities of the students as constituting “a minority of the students and do not represent the conviction of the majority.”

      9. Exploit any hostilities between the key organizations—SDS, Socialist Workers Party (SWP), Young Socialist Alliance (YSA), and Progressive Labor Party (PLP).

      10. Alert the press and the local police forces regarding any New Left coffee houses that are opened near military bases in order to influence any members of the armed forces.

      11. Use cartoons, photographs, and anonymous letters that will have the effect of ridiculing the New Left. Ridicule is one of the most potent weapons we can use against it.

      12. Use “opportunities to confuse and disrupt New Left activities by disinformation. For example, when events are planned, notification that the event has been cancelled or postponed could be sent to various individuals.”

      Churchill and Vander Wall, pp. 183-184.  [back]

      6. Friedman, John S., ed., The Secret Histories: An Anthology, Picador, 2005, pp. 239-246.  [back]

      7. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 183.  [back]

      8. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 191.  [back]

      9. The Chicago 8 was an assortment of antiwar leaders who participated in the massive week-long demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that culminated with thousands being attacked by the Chicago cops, the National Guard, and other federal cops. In his book, There’s Something Happening Here, David Cunningham writes, “By the week’s end over 1,000 demonstrators had been injured (including many in the media), 668 arrested, and Dean Johnson, a Sioux teenager, shot and killed.... One official account of the week, the ‘Walker Report’ described [the cops’] actions as a ‘spontaneous police riot’” The Chicago 8 were charged under the 1968 Anti-Riot Act “for conspiring to cross state lines with intent to incite a riot.” Six of the defendants were well-known movement leaders: pacifist David Dellinger, Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale, SDS leaders Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis, and “Yippie” leaders Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. The other two defendants were little-known SDS members John Froines and Lee Weiner. Seale’s case was severed from the other seven and he was gagged and bound during his trial when he demanded that his First Amendment rights be upheld. He was sentenced to four years in prison for contempt of court, but the ruling was later overturned. The trial of the remaining seven lasted for months. They were found innocent of conspiracy charges but were found guilty on other charges. Federal Judge Julius Hoffman also brought 175 contempt charges against them, including their attorneys, William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass. The defendants received a sentence of five years in prison and $5,000 fines, plus added jail time for the contempt charges. The convictions on the substantive charges and contempt charges were appealed and later overturned.

      The Oakland 7 were seven San Francisco Bay Area political leaders who were arrested and tried on conspiracy charges for a week-long demonstration, the October 1967 Stop the Draft Week, to shut down the Oakland Induction Center (where draftees were inducted into the military for the Vietnam War). Bob Avakian writes in his memoir about the significance of Stop the Draft Week that even though this militant action did not actually shut down the center, “this actually became a much bigger thing, and it had a very powerful impact in terms of rallying opposition to the Vietnam War and raising the opposition to a more serious level.” (See From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, A Memoir by Bob Avakian, Insight Press, 2005, pp. 159-161.) The government, stung by the protest, struck back against some of the leadership of Stop the Draft Week. The trial lasted 11 weeks and all seven were found not guilty.  [back]

      10. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 191.  [back]

      11. From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, A Memoir by Bob Avakian, Insight Press, 2005. (Note: The Supreme Court later ruled that burning the flag was constitutionally protected free speech in the 1989 Texas v. Johnson case. Revolutionary Communist Party supporter Joey Johnson had been arrested and convicted for burning the flag at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas.)  [back]

      12. In an FBI memo dated September 9, 1968, a COINTELPRO action was taken to disrupt Liberation News Service in New England by sending an anonymous letter signed by “a former staffer” trying to foment a split between the Massachusetts LNS office and the New York office, claiming that one of the founders of LNS was “suffering from megalomania.” Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 194.  [back]

      13. An FBI memo, dated September 19, 1968, states: “[W]e have previously prepared a pamphlet which casts SDS in a derogatory light. The pamphlet depicts certain Princeton SDS leaders as apes. Newark has suggested that of the 150 pamphlets supplied 120 of these be sent to an outspoken conservative (a member of the John Birch Society) who would be expected to distribute them at a Conservative Club meeting at Princeton University.... It is felt that a greater distribution should be made of the pamphlet so that a broader cross section of the student body at Princeton will receive it.” Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 200.  [back]

      14. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 223.  [back]

      15. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 222.  [back]

      16. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 223.  [back]

      17. Churchill and Vander Wall, pp. 216-219.  [back]

      18. From Ike to Mao and Beyond, p. 164 and pp. 324-325. See also Bob Avakian (BA)—Official Biography, particularly Part 1: FORMATIVE EXPERIENCES, CRITICAL JUNCTURES, DECISIVE LEADERSHIP.”  [back]

      19. A table of “Additional Groups Targeted by COINTELPRO-New Left” lists the Revolutionary Union (RU) as one of the 200 or so New Left groups that the FBI put under surveillance. (Something Is Happening Here, by David Cunningham, pp. 279-284.)  [back]

      20. Spying on America: The FBI’s Domestic Counterintelligence Program, by James Kirkpatrick Davis, Praeger Publishers, 1992, p. 130.  [back]

      21. “An Open Letter to College Students,” from John Edgar Hoover, Director Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Justice, September 21, 1970. The letter stated:

      As a 1970 college student, you belong to the best educated, most sophisticated, most poised generation in our history.

      The vast majority of you, I am convinced, sincerely love America and want to make it a better country. You do have ideas of your own and that’s good.

      You see things wrong in our society which we adults perhaps have minimized or overlooked. You are outspoken and frank and hate hypocrisy. That is good too.

      There’s nothing wrong with student dissent or student demands for changes in society or the display of student unhappiness over aspects of our national policy. Student opinion is a legitimate aspect of public opinion in our society.

      But there is real ground for concern about the extremism which led to violence, lawlessness, and disrespect for the rights of others on many college campuses during the past year.

      The extremists are a small minority of students and faculty members who have lost faith in America. They ridicule the flag, poke fun at American institutions, seek to destroy our society. They are not interested in genuine reform. They take advantage of the tensions, strife, and often legitimate frustrations of students to promote campus chaos. They have no rational, intelligent plan of the future either for the university or the Nation.

      The extremists are of wide variety: adherents of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) including the Weatherman; members of the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA), the Trotskyist youth group; the Communist Party’s Young Workers Liberation League (YWLL). Or they may be associated with the Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam (SMC), a Trotskyist dominated antiwar group.

      Many are not associated with any national group. The key point is not so much the identification of extremists but learning to recognize and understand the mentality of extremism which believes in violence and destruction.

      Based on our experience in the FBI, here are some of the ways in which extremists will try to lure you into their activities:

      1. They’ll encourage you to lose respect for your parents and the older generation....

      2. They'll try to convert you to the idea that your college is ‘‘irrelevant’’ and a “tool of the Establishment....

      3. They’ll ask you to abandon your basic common sense....

      4. They’ll try to envelop you in a mood of negativism, pessimism, and alienation toward yourself, your school, your Nation....

      5. They’ll encourage you to disrespect the law and hate the law enforcement officer....

      6. They’ll tell you that any action is honorable and right if it’s “sincere” or “idealistic” in motivation....

      7. They’ll ask you to believe that you, as a student and citizen, are powerless by democratic means to effect change in our society.... They’ll encourage you to hurl bricks and stones instead of logical argument at those who disagree with your views.  [back]

      22. Davis, p. 132.  [back]

      23. Churchill and Vander Wall, pp. 183-184.  [back]

    1. ARTICLE:

      American Crime Case #42: COINTELPRO—The FBI Targets the Black Freedom Struggle, 1956-1971

      Bob Avakian has written 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 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.

      See all the articles in this series.

      The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need


      Special issue of Revolution
      Download PDF of special issue here


      From 1956-1971, the FBI operated a covert, illegal program that targeted the system’s political opponents in the U.S. The program, COINTELPRO (for COunter INTELligence PROgram), was used to infiltrate, harass, disrupt, smear, and murder or destroy individuals and organizations. COINTELPRO targeted the Black civil rights and liberation movements, communists, socialists, nationalist independence movements, the New Left (student radicals, the antiwar movement), and gay rights and environmental activists.

      The FBI was one arm of the U.S. government’s repressive apparatus used to crush opposition during the 1960s and early 1970s. COINTELPRO was the main way the agency went after dissidents and organized opposition. It had been developed by J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, from several programs that contained secret databases of people Hoover believed were enemies of the U.S. By 1970 these databases contained 26,000 names1 that Ward Churchill said was anyone “who fight(s) for peace and social justice in the United States.”2

      This secret program was only discovered in the early 1970s after some activists broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and released the documents they had obtained.3

      COINTELPRO was used against thousands who were exercising their democratic and First Amendment rights—anyone Hoover felt was fighting to bring social and political change: artists, writers, musicians, actors, attorneys, teachers, students, doctors, academics, religious leaders, progressive and political bookstores, political activists and their organizations.

      BAsics cover 600

      BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian   

      Editor’s note: Here Bob Avakian talks about the 1960s.

      Between the anti-war protesters and the war planners in the Pentagon; between the Black Panthers and J. Edgar Hoover; between Black, Latino, Asian, and Native peoples on the one side and the government on the other; between the women who rebelled against their “traditional” roles and the rich old men who ruled the country; between the youth who brought forward new music, in the broadest sense, and the preachers who denounced them as disciples of the devil and despoilers of civilization: the battle lines were sharply drawn. And through the course of those tumultuous times, those who were rebelling against the established order and the dominating relations and traditions increasingly found common cause and powerful unity; they increasingly gained—and deserved—the moral as well as political initiative, while the ruling class dug in and lashed out to defend its rule, but increasingly, and very deservedly, lost moral and political authority.

      —Bob Avakian, BAsics 5:6

      But it was Black people and their movement for equal rights and liberation that Hoover was most aggressively out to crush.

      An FBI memo dated March 4, 1968 established the ways COINTELPRO aimed to stop the Black civil rights and liberation struggles:

      • Prevent the COALITION of militant black nationalist groups ... [that] might be the first step toward a real ... [Black revolutionary army] in America, the beginning of a true Black revolution.
      • Prevent the RISE OF A “MESSIAH” who could unify, and electrify, the militant Black Nationalist movement.
      • Prevent VIOLENCE on the part of Black Nationalist groups... a goal of the Counterintelligence Program to pinpoint potential troublemakers and neutralize them before they exercise their potential for violence.
      • Prevent militant Black Nationalist groups and leaders from gaining RESPECTABILITY, by discrediting them to three separate segments of the community (Black community, white community/liberals, and Black radicals who follow these groups).
      • A final goal should be to prevent the long-range GROWTH of militant black organizations, especially among youth. Specific tactics to prevent these groups from converting young people must be developed.4

        COINTELPRO put Black people under surveillance everywhere—their stores, churches, classrooms, libraries, bars and restaurants, and settlement houses. Black students were particularly targeted for surveillance, and informers were sent into every college to watch all activists. At Swarthmore College, every Black student was under surveillance.5

        Smearing and Threatening MLK

        Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) became an FBI target of COINTELPRO starting in 1957. In 1960, the FBI infiltrated King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

        By 1964, the FBI feared that King had become a Black “Messiah” and was not only leading the civil rights struggle, but was “pursuing a more fundamental structural agenda for social change.” The “problem of the removal of King (MLK) from the national scene” was put forward in an FBI memo written on December 1, 1964, where the FBI was looking to work with the most conservative civil rights groups to discredit King. When it was revealed that King was going to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the FBI took tapes of wiretaps and hotel bugs they had from King’s conversations and cut them up and put them together in a way that would make it appear that he “had engaged in a series of ‘orgiastic’ trysts with prostitutes.” The FBI sent an anonymous letter to King saying the tapes would be released soon, and hinted suicide was his only way out. The end of the letter stated:

        King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have 34 days in which to do ... You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.

        For more than a year after King was assassinated in 1968, the FBI continued their COINTELPRO program to discredit him.6

        Fomenting Feuds and Going After Malcolm X

        A major tactic of COINTELPRO was to provoke disputes between groups. This was first put forward in a 1966 memo to create a dispute between the Communist Party, USA, and La Cosa Nostra that “would cause disruption of both groups by having each expend their energies, time, and money attacking each other.”7 The attempt to create this dispute did not pan out as planned by Hoover, but it was a COINTELPRO tactic that would be viciously used with more success against the Black liberation movement.

        The FBI claimed the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X was a result of the COINTELPRO program to create a feud between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam (NOI). Despite the fact that it remains a question as to whether the bullets that killed Malcolm X came from the NOI or an undercover NYPD cop, a COINTELPRO memo, dated January 22, 1969 states: “Over the years considerable thought has been given, and action taken with Bureau approval, relating to methods through which the NOI could be discredited in the eyes of the general black populace or through which factionalism among the leadership could be created.... Factional disputes have been developed—the most notable being MALCOLM X LITTLE.”8

        Targeting the Black Panther Party

        In September 1968, Hoover identified the Black Panther Party (BPP), which had grown nationally as the organization that could unite the Black liberation movement. A COINTELPRO memo targeted the BPP: “It is essential that we not only accelerate our investigation of this organization and increase our informants in the organization but we take action under the counterintelligence program to disrupt the group.” The memo called for creating factionalism between people inside and outside the BPP and to paint a picture that some BPP members were cooperating with the cops.

        By early 1969, the BPP had grown in all the major cities of the U.S. Their newspaper had a circulation of 250,000. They had built unity with the Peace and Freedom Party and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. So, COINTELPRO set out to destroy the BPP.

        On January 9, 1969, John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, BPP leaders in Los Angeles, were gunned down by members of the US Organization (United Slaves) during a meeting at UCLA to discuss forming a Black Studies Department. Their assassinations were a result of COINTELPRO actions against the BPP. In a memo, dated November 25, 1968, Hoover laid out the plan:

        In order to fully capitalize upon the BPP and US differences as well as to exploit all avenues of creating further dissension in the ranks of the BPP, recipient offices are instructed to submit imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP.9

        The Los Angeles FBI office sent a memo to Hoover stating that they are:

        currently preparing an anonymous letter ... which will be sent to the Los Angeles BPP supposedly from a member of the ‘US’ organization in which it will be stated that the youth group of “US” organization is aware of the BPP “contract” to kill RON KARENGA, the leader of “US”, and they, “US” members in retaliation, have made plans to ambush leaders of the BPP in Los Angeles... It is hoped that this counterintelligence measure will result in an “US” and BPP vendetta.10

        After Huggins and Carter were assassinated, the FBI offices in Los Angeles and San Diego produced and distributed in the Black community inflammatory cartoons “attributed to both US and the BPP appearing to viciously ridicule each other.” One of them shows Karenga with a list of things to do, with Huggins’ and Carter’s names checked off, and BPP leader Bobby Seale’s name as the next one on the list.11

        During 1969, Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois BPP in Chicago, was working to build unity between the BPP and several other organizations—the Blackstone Rangers, the Mau Mau, the Young Lords, the Young Patriots, and SDS.12 The Chicago COINTELPRO section sent an anonymous letter to Jeff Fort, leader of the Rangers, telling him that Hampton had put out a hit on him. The letter had a significant impact in preventing Hampton from consolidating this city-wide coalition of political organizations, but it failed to do what had happened in Los Angeles to Carter and Huggins.13

        The Chicago COINTELPRO section then sent an infiltrator/provocateur, William O’Neal, into the BPP. O’Neal became Hampton’s bodyguard and gave a detailed floor plan of Hampton’s apartment to the FBI and Chicago police. O’Neal then worked out a plan with the CPD for an “arms raid.” The raid was executed on December 4, 1969, when the armed forces of the state shot their way into Hampton’s apartment with shotguns and a .45-caliber machine gun. Hampton was assassinated in his bed and another Panther, Mark Clark, was also murdered. (See American Crime Case #74, “The FBI-Chicago Police Assassination of Fred Hampton,Revolution newspaper, October 31, 2016.)

        A week later, on December 11, Chicago COINTELPRO section head Robert Piper took a major share of the credit for this success in a memo to the FBI headquarters stating that the raid could not have occurred without the intelligence information “not available from any other source,” provided by their informer, O’Neal.14

        The FBI has admitted that it ran 295 COINTELPRO operations against Black individuals and Black organizations. Of these, 233 were aimed at the Black Panther Party from 1967-1971. The total number of fatalities resulting from these brutal, illegal operations is unknown, as is the number of years spent in prison by innocent people who were railroaded there by the FBI.15


        Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI: Hoover’s main targets were Black people and their organizations. Legal scholar Randall Kennedy said Hoover “viewed protest against white domination as tending toward treason.”16

        On June 15, 1969, Hoover declared, “The Black Panther Party, without question, represents the greatest threat to internal security of the country”; he pledged that 1969 would be the last year of the party’s existence.

        In a memo dated September 16, 1970, Hoover said the “purpose of counter-intelligence action is to disrupt [the Black Panther Party] and it is immaterial whether facts exist to substantiate the charge. If facts are present it aids in the success of the proposal but the Bureau feels ... that disruption can be accomplished without facts to back it up.”

        The FBI: FBI agents were required to have informants who spied on Black people and infiltrated Black organizations. In Washington, DC, each agent was required to have six Black informants. COINTELPRO in the Black community was so widespread that Betty Medsger suggested that in the Black neighborhoods of Philadelphia “at that time, anybody a Black person encountered might have been an FBI informer.”17

        The U.S. Government: Hoover got permission from Attorney General Robert Kennedy to install “limited” wiretaps on MLK’s phones. And other presidents engaged in covert, often illegal spying (whether directly part of COINTELPRO or not). Dwight Eisenhower authorized spying on Eleanor Roosevelt and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. John Kennedy spied on congressional staffers. Lyndon Johnson ran frequent “name checks” on Barry Goldwater’s staff. Richard Nixon spied on everybody, including members of the Supreme Court and TV journalist Marvin Kalb.18

        THE ALIBI

        COINTELPRO was a secretive, covert operation that no one outside the FBI was to know about. Therefore, no public rationale was required; in fact it would alert potential targets and damage this whole system’s legitimacy and credibility. When the COINTELPRO documents were released, they exposed the lie the U.S. proclaims that it is “a bastion of democracy,” where people have the right to speak, organize, dissent, and protest.


        COINTELPRO’s purpose was summarized in a memo from J. Edgar Hoover to the FBI spelling out how it was to be used against Black people and organizations:

        The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder. The activities of all such groups of intelligence interest to the Bureau must be followed on a continuous basis so we will be in a position to promptly take advantage of all opportunities for counterintelligence and inspire action in instances where circumstances warrant. The pernicious background of such groups, their duplicity, and devious maneuvers must be exposed to public scrutiny where such publicity will have a neutralizing effect. Efforts of the various groups to consolidate their forces or to recruit new or youthful adherents must be frustrated. No opportunity should be missed to exploit through counterintelligence techniques the organizational and personal conflicts of the leaderships of the groups and where possible an effort should be made to capitalize upon existing conflicts between competing black nationalist organizations. When an opportunity is apparent to disrupt or neutralize black nationalist, hate-type organizations through the cooperation of established local news media contacts or through such contact with sources available to the Seat of Government [Hoover’s office], in every instance careful attention must be given to the proposal to insure the targeted group is disrupted, ridiculed, or discredited through the publicity and not merely publicized....

        You are also cautioned that the nature of this new endeavor is such that under no circumstances should the existence of the program be made known outside the bureau and appropriate within-office security should be afforded to sensitive operations and techniques considered under the program.19

        A letter to Revolution/, “A Reflection on Piggery—Then and Now,” points to the necessity the rulers of this system faced, especially in the 1960s and early ’70s, which drove them to implement COINTELPRO, whose lessons remain relevant today:

        Black people in the U.S. were relentlessly defying the system in many different forms, taking mass political action and outright rebelling—and this won the sympathy and support from literally hundreds of millions of people all over the world. This put the U.S. ruling class on the political defensive and challenged their pose as the “great defenders of people’s rights.” If they had to openly crush this movement, they certainly would; and the hundreds of times that they directly used police, federal agencies, the National Guard and even the Army to go after people proves this. But they much preferred to conceal their role. Why? Because they were really worried about losing their democratic cover in the eyes of the world, as well as losing legitimacy within the U.S. To put it differently: one reason they need to use underhanded programs like COINTELPRO is precisely to keep people blinded to the fact that this democracy that they preach about is essentially a dictatorship of the capitalist-imperialist class.

        COINTELPRO did serious damage to the Black liberation movement from 1956-1971, but it did not stop the struggle for Black liberation, as called for by Hoover. The Black Panther Party, the Black liberation movement, and others brought forward many positive, revolutionary things that are important to learn from. Bob Avakian (BA) came forward during this period and worked closely with the BPP. Over the decades since, he has continued to wrestle with and advance the understanding of what he describes as “The pivotal role of the Black national question, the pivotal relation between national liberation and proletarian revolution, in the U.S.,” as a key part of the new communism he has brought forward.


        Selected Bibliography


        Churchill, Ward and Vander Wall, Jim, The COINTELPRO Papers, South End Press, 1990

        Friedman, John S., ed., The Secret Histories: An Anthology, Picador, 2005

        Jefferies-Jones, Rhodri, We Know All About You: The Story of Surveillance in Britain and America, Oxford University Press, 2017


        Churchill, Ward and Vander Wall, Jim, “COINTELPRO, FBI Counterintelligence, Covert Operations, Black Bag Jobs, Church Committee,” The Freedom Archives

        Wolf, Paul, “COINTELPRO: The Untold American Stories,” Civil Liberties Defense Center

        National Lawyers Guild, “Counterintelligence: A Documentary Look at America’s Secret Police,” Vol 1. The FBI’s Counterintelligence Operations Against: Black, Puerto Rican, Native American, and Chicano/Mexicano Movements,” 1980,

        How FBI COINTELPRO Targeted Radical Groups: Important Lessons on Political Piggery,” Revolution newspaper, August 20, 2014

        The FBI’s Covert Program To Destroy the Black Panther Party,”

        Denton, Jack, “The FBI’s Long, Alarming History of Investigating Black Musicians,” Pacific Standard magazine, November 22, 2107

        Davis, Joshua Clark, “The FBI’s War on Black-Owned Bookstores,” The Atlantic, February 19, 2018

        COINTELPRO, Wikipedia


        1. We Know All About You: The Story of Surveillance in Britain and America, Rhodri Jefferies-Jones, Oxford University Press, 2017, p. 130.  [back]

        2. The COINTELPRO Papers, Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, South End Press, Boston, 1990, p. xiv.  [back]

        3. On the night of March 8, 1971, when the nation was paying attention to the first heavyweight championship fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, eight antiwar protesters burglarized an FBI office in Media, Pa., just outside Philadelphia, taking thousands of documents. The stolen material included the secret case histories of thousands of Americans. Much of it was malicious gossip about things like “sexual deviance and race-mixing,” two of J. Edgar Hoover’s favorite subjects. Betty Medsger of the Washington Post received some of the files, and she was the first to break the story. She noticed a routing slip with the word “COINTELPRO” on it, but did not know what it meant. NBC reporter Carl Stern sought to find out what this word meant, and he obtained more documents under the Freedom of Information Act that revealed the full scope of COINTELPRO.  [back]

        4. “The FBI Sets Goals for COINTELPRO,” by the American Social History Project—Center for Media and Learning  [back]

        5. “When J. Edgar Hoover Lost and Freedom Won,” interview with Betty Medsger by Mark Karlin, Truthout, January 29, 2014.  [back]

        6. Churchill and Vander Wall, pp. 96-101.  [back]

        7. Churchill and Vander Wall, pp. 42-43.  [back]

        8. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 102.  [back]

        9. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 130.  [back]

        10. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 132.  [back]

        11. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 131.  [back]

        12. The Blackstone Rangers or the Black P. Stone Rangers was a Black street organization. The Young Lords was a Puerto Rican organization. The Young Patriots was a white street organization. SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) was a radical student organization.  [back]

        13. Churchill and Vander Wall, pp. 135-139.  [back]

        14. Churchill and Vander Wall, pp. 139-141.  [back]

        15. Churchill and Vander Wall, p. 164.  [back]

        16. “J. Edgar Hoover: Racism and Power”, by Frank Schneiger, February 12, 2017.  [back]

        17. “Just Being Black Was Enough to Get Yourself Spied on by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI”, by Betty Medsger, The Nation, January 22, 2014.  [back]

        18. “Domestic Spying, Blackmail, And Murder: Inside The FBI’s COINTELPRO”, by Richard Stockton, April 18, 2017.  [back]

        19. “COINTELPRO Revisited – Spying & Disruption”, [back]

      1. ARTICLE:

        In the 1960s, the Government Spread Lies to Foment Violent Conflict Within the Movement

        The Lessons of That Time Need to Be Learned Anew Today

        Did you know that from 1956 to 1971 the FBI conducted a program designed to foment conflict within revolutionary movements, as well as broader movements for reform—conflicts which not only crippled these movements, but served as a cover to carry out frame-ups and even outright murder of revolutionary fighters and activists?

        Did you know that they sent undercover people into these movements specifically to create or magnify conflicts? Did you know that they relied on unsubstantiated gossip and often inventions, as well as forged documents as part of their arsenal?

        All this came to light in 1971, when some brave and heroic people appropriated the files revealing this program in a nighttime operation to go into an FBI office and bring these criminal activities by the government to light. As a result, many people in the movements of the time and even beyond, in broader society, adopted different standards for settling inevitable conflicts over politics and ideology in a principled way, and preventing the police, FBI and other government agencies from spreading slanders, fomenting conflicts and endangering the lives of people active in the struggle for justice.

        Muhammed Kenyatta waves stolen FBI documents, 1971.


        Muhammed Kenyatta waves stolen FBI documents, 1971.    Photo: AP

        Now, decades later, a new generation is way too unaware either of the FBI activities or the protocols widely adopted. We can see the results of this in the current vicious and very dangerous slander campaign that has been launched against Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, the Revcoms, Bob Avakian and Sunsara Taylor.

        We urge people to read and spread the article below, and to insist on principled discussion and debate over disagreements and to oppose the dangerous campaign of lies, disinformation and distortion that has now erupted.


        COINTELPRO was launched by the FBI in secret in 1956 in the context of the rising civil rights movement, and operations were later “signed on” to by the Kennedy administration. Its reach was broad and vicious. The FBI, working in sync with local police “Red Squads” (political police) wrote leaflets fomenting conflicts between different groups. They sent anonymous letters warning parents and school administrators of what their children and students were supposedly doing. They conducted police surveillance and repression against antiwar coffee houses opening near military bases. And those the FBI identified as leaders, in particular, were marked for “neutralization” by the FBI, a euphemism for being framed up on serious criminal charges or killed.

        One of the earliest, ugliest and most grievous FBI operations was against Malcolm X. We recently covered this, and we are including it here as a companion to this article.

        Going After Martin Luther King Through Personal Slander and Harassment

        One element in COINTELPRO attacks on the civil rights movement was the dissemination by the FBI of allegations about Martin Luther King’s sex life that had nothing to do with the struggle for civil rights, or debates within that movement or in society as a whole. The FBI bugged King’s bedroom(!) and then, directly or posing as “concerned individuals” sent supposed taped “evidence” to media outlets and others, including colleges where King was invited to speak, demanding he be disinvited. They even sent such a tape to his wife, Coretta Scott King, in the hope of causing anguish and breaking up the marriage.

        The FBI also circulated allegations that King’s movement had organizational and financial connections to communists, playing on anti-communist prejudices, to push (and provide an excuse for) white liberals and what the FBI identified as “the responsible Negro community” to stay away from the civil rights movement at a time when civil rights activists were being brutally attacked and murdered by police and the KKK, and as a cover for massive surveillance of the civil rights movement. Whether or not the authorities were directly involved in King’s murder in Memphis in 1968 as his family and close associates have insisted, the COINTELPRO operation created conditions that facilitated his assassination and was continued for a year after his death.



        Going After the Panthers: Fomenting Conflicts to Murder Leadership

        A major objective and focus of COINTELPRO was isolating and setting up the most revolutionary forces at the time, especially the Black Panther Party (BPP), for attack. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, in a secret memo, wrote to offices calling for “imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling the BPP.” (Emphasis added.)

        As they did with Malcolm X (see the accompanying article), the FBI often focused on setting up others to do the actual dirty work. To take one notorious example, the FBI forged a letter, supposedly from someone in the community, to Jeff Fort, the leader of the Blackstone Rangers, a Chicago gang at the time, claiming that the Black Panther Party was getting ready to move on him. In this case, in the climate of the times when there was both a broad culture of being alert to moves by the authorities to forge accusations to set people up, and when there was broad respect for the Panthers and the revolution, Fort decided the threatening letter was not credible. This letter was part of a larger COINTELPRO operation that set into motion events that led to the assassination of Panther leader Fred Hampton by Chicago police and the FBI in 1969.



        Chicago police with Fred Hampton's body.    Photo: AP

        In another COINTELPRO operation, the LA office of the FBI came up with a plan to forge a letter claiming the US Organization (United Slaves), which had been attacking the Panthers, believed that the BPP had a contract out to kill their leader. The LA FBI office wrote that the objective was for “this counterintelligence measure [to] result in an ‘US’ and BPP vendetta.” The operation was part of what led to the terrible murder of Black Panther leaders John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter by US members in Los Angeles.

        Black Panthers, Bunchy Carter and John Huggins


        Bunchy Carter and John Huggins, Black Panther leaders, murdered in 1969.   

        Again, there were real issues to resolve, questions to investigate, and debates to struggle out among those struggling for a different and better world in different ways, coming from different outlooks at the time, as now. The pattern and practice of COINTELPRO was to exploit these contradictions to twist them into vicious, destructive personal attacks, with an aim of disintegrating the movements for social change and an edge of isolating and setting up the most radical and revolutionary forces and leaders for what COINTELPRO documents euphemistically referred to as “neutralization.”

        Conclusion: don’t fall for—and don’t tolerate—the kinds of behavior that mimic what the FBI has used to destroy social movements. Call it out.

        FBI surveillance files on Bob Avakian.


        FBI surveillance files on Bob Avakian.   

        Identifying and Going After Bob Avakian Early On

        In his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond, Bob Avakian (BA), who emerged as a revolutionary in the 1960s and today is leading the movement for revolution, talks about how he was a target for surveillance. At a demonstration, he was approached by the head of the Berkeley police “red squad” and told that he and the Revolutionary Union (the RU, which BA played a central role in founding) were under surveillance.

        BA has written about being in Chicago for the New Politics Convention and going back to his car and finding a guy who was “obviously from the Chicago red squad or the FBI” in a car behind his car “writing things down.” A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) discovery revealed that the House of Representatives did a “whole report and investigation on the RU.” Another FOIA inquiry also showed that BA was under surveillance in Maywood, a suburb of Chicago, and that the FBI had made a diagram of the inside of his house, “indicating through which windows someone could see different things going on inside the house.” This was a similar type of diagram to that used by the FBI and the Chicago cops that enabled them to assassinate Fred Hampton, leader of the Chicago Black Panther Party.




        The book The COINTELPRO Papers, by Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall contains a vast collection of original FBI memos and reports including documentation for the incidents described in this article. It is available as an online PDF.

        This article draws on installments of the American Crime series at American Crime Case #41: COINTELPRO—The FBI Targets the New Left, 1964-1971 and American Crime Case #42: COINTELPRO—The FBI Targets the Black Freedom Struggle, 1956-1971.

        An important letter drawing lessons for today from the COINTELPRO operation against Malcolm X: A Reflection on Piggery—Then and Now.

      2. ARTICLE:

        "Stop Executions in Iran!" rings out in Colombian streets
        "The struggle of the Iranian people is our struggle!" editors’ note: This report was posted May 23, 2023 on the Global Movement page of the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now.

        Holding posters of people executed in Iran, leafletting bicycle riders in Bogota, Colombia, to stop executions.


        May 21, 2023, handing out leaflets on the streets of Bogotá, Colombia, demanding that executions in Iran be stopped.    Photo: via twitter @ComRevCo

        On May 21, in Bogotá and Cali, Colombia, in areas ranging from Ciclovia to street traffic, to street vendors and buyers in some of the hardest-hit oppressed districts, people carrying large placards of executed political prisoners and flyers reached out widely with the urgent call to stand with people in Iran and free political prisoners. Days earlier, the Islamic Republic of Iran had hanged three protesters.

        Following are photos of these actions and a discussion on Instagram around them. Translation from Spanish posts are by an IEC volunteer.

        Comrevco (Grupo Comunista Revolucionario, Colombia) in several posts on May 21 in Instagram and Twitter, reported: 

        Bogota, Colombia, leafletting bus to stop executions in Iran


        In Bogotá, Colombia, leafletting a bus with the demand to stop the executions in Iran.    Photo: via twitter @ComRevCo

        "May 21 in the city of Bogotá, Colombia, in Ciclovia, the message was taken to riders and pedestrians, Stop the execution of political prisoners in Iran, denouncing the wave of death and oppression that this regime inflicts on the Iranian people, and taking out the message that we are united by the same interests and the same struggle for a radically different world. We are not willing to allow the slipknots of the gallows that are around the necks of the fighters in Iran to cut short the rebellion of a whole generation. The people of Iran, the people of Colombia and all the oppressed and exploited peoples of the world under the capitalist mode of production are called upon to unite in a single effort: Revolution, nothing less!”

        Taking demand to stop the executions in Iran to a street market in Cali, Colombia


        Taking demand to stop the executions in Iran to a street market in Cali, Colombia     Photo: via twitter @ComRevCo

        "The cry, 'Islamic Republic of Death! Stop the executions of political prisoners in Iran, now!' rang out in Aguablanca, Cali, one of the districts hardest hit under this horrific system, together with the message: The struggle of the Iranian people is our struggle!"

        Taking demand to stop the executions in Iran to a street vendor in Cali, Colombia.


        Taking demand to stop the executions in Iran to a street vendor in Cali, Colombia.    Photo: via twitter @ComRevCo

        "The shameful regime in Iran has cut short the life of 3 youths, repudiated by people in many places like Cali, Col, where people struggle to understand the source of these horrors and build a different world where people would have the right to live."

        On Instagram, a reply that questioned this action caused a lengthy response.

        A user commented: "What benefit do they receive by going out to spread this information? Informing the basic people could do little or nothing to prevent deaths and even change a regime and its religious culture if that is the intention..."

        Another responded at length, including these profound remarks that many others around the world should take to heart:

        "In Colombia, during the struggles of many basic people in 2019, 2020 and 2021, each time a voice of encouragement was heard from 'outside' for the youth and the people opposing injustice and repression, police brutality and paramilitary attacks, the criminalization of young people; it was cause for celebration and inspiration, they felt validated and many others were forced to consider the reasons for this support and enter the debate and the fight... exposure in embassies abroad to what the regime was doing in Colombia, the voices of prominent artists who could not simply remain silent in the midst of social unrest... all those voices from 'outside' were powerful and important... and still required more and more in-depth debate about the source of the problems and a real solution...

        "This small group of people in this work in Cali, Bogotá, and other cities, and together with people in other parts of the world who do not feel small before the responsibility of responding to injustices and thinking of the whole world first and foremost, deserve all our support, and to make this work something very powerful that resonates with even more voices in the world and in Iran, that reaches the prisons of Iran and that the fighters know that they are not alone, and that there are people ready to fight for a truly different world, for an actual revolution, where the horrors imposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the threats of war from the imperialists and their invasion of peoples and their 'sanctions,' the horror suffered by half of humanity, women, under patriarchal imperialist capitalism (in Iran and the rest of the planet), the destruction of the environment, poverty and war and the looting by the imperialists in Syria or Sudan or Afghanistan, or in Cali or Medellín or Bogotá, or in Lima or Rio de Janeiro, become part of history... let's sweep that away and build a radically new world through revolution."

      3. ARTICLE:

        From the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW:

        Rage and Grief Confront New Executions by Iran’s Theocratic Regime

        Editors’ note: We received this update from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW (IEC).

        At dawn on Friday, May 19, at Isfahan’s Dastgerd Prison in central Iran, Iran’s filthy mullah regime executed Majid Kazemi, Saleh Mirhashemi, and Saeed Yaghoubi and quickly buried them. The three men had joined protests during the months of the Women-Life-Freedom uprising. They were rounded up in arbitrary arrests, convicted in sham, torture-tainted trials based on forced then retracted “confessions” (hear Majid Kazemi’s chilling description).2

        Three Iranian political prisoners executed May 19, 2023: Saleh Mirhashemi, Majid Kazemi, Saeed Yaghoubi.


        Three political prisoners executed May 19, 2023. Left to right: Saleh Mirhashemi was a 36-year-old karate champion and body-building instructor who had just married; Majid Kazemi, 31, had set up his own copper-working shop, and was engaged; Saeed Yaghoubi, 37, was an athlete who supported his aging parents.    Photo: Amnesty International

        In the days before their execution, family members and many others protested in front of Dastgerd Prison at night and were attacked by the regime’s thugs. A handwritten note from the three condemned men, smuggled out of prison, read, “Don’t let them kill us,” and was signed “Children of Iran.” It was shared worldwide and inspired many expressions of support, including the publication of this letter. The publication of this letter was sent out on Google Alerts.

        Mothers of protesters previously murdered by the regime in Sanandaj, in the province of Kurdistan, released a video of support, holding the photos of their murdered children. By May 17, with executions expected the next morning, the sidewalks around Dastgerd Prison were full, and the streets and highways leading to this dungeon were bumper-to-bumper with hundreds of cars to prevent prosecutors and execution staff from arriving. Security forces attacked them, including with gunfire, but people stayed through the night. Similar protests took place in Tehran (Iran’s capital city) and Sanandaj.

        However, the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran] is out to exact revenge for the recent uprising and spread terror to silence further dissent and resistance. The executions of the three men were carried out two days later, on May 19.

        When news of the executions spread, protests broke out in many cities, particularly in Tehran and Isfahan. From apartment windows in Tehran, chants rang out, “Death to the Dictator.” In Zahedan, capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province, hundreds of marchers chanted, “We don’t want the Republic of Executions” and “There are a thousand others behind every person killed!”

        Tweet URL
        Tweet URL

        Another video of student protest gathering at Beheshti University; In front of the repression officers, the students sing the slogan #Zen_Zandangi_Azadi in one voice. #IranRevolution
        Saturday, May 30, 1402

        As we wrote last week, the horrific surge of executions in Iran continues. As of May 19, 2023, the regime has murdered at least 264 people this year,3 or almost two per day. Most of the executions are for the catchall “drug-related” charges. Among those who continue to face imminent danger of execution are six Arab activists in Ahwaz, a majority Arab area, and at least six Baluchi protesters from the fall 2022 uprising. And there are many more in the gruesome execution “pipeline.”

        Protests were called for May 20 by the Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims in scores of cities worldwide under the theme of “United Against Executions in Iran.” Stay tuned for reports and plans from the IEC.

        We Demand:

        Stop the executions!

        Free Iran's political prisoners now!

        No U.S. threats or war moves against Iran!


        Gallery of six Iran political prisoners in imminent danger of execution.


        Courtesy of IEC


        “Turn your tears to rage... Pound the palace of the oppressors!”
        This is the voice of the Mothers of Khavaran Cemetery:4

        Rise UP! You whose grief torches your hearts.
        Lift your head from where you lie prostrate in mourning
        This is not a time to mourn!

        It is a time to unleash your rage!
        Turn your tears to rage! Shout out your rage!
        Raise your rage in a fist, to shatter the palace of the oppressors!

        Rise up.
        The tulips and hyacinths are gone.
        Anemones are waiting for your kind hands.5

        They have drenched the meadows red with blood!
        So, rise hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder
        Keep the Zhina revolution alive and on track!

        May the outcry from the Mothers of Khavaran be your guiding light.
        Rise up, mothers
        O oppressed people of history, rise up!
        Before the city walls are covered with [memorial] photos
        Of those whose hearts yet beat with life and love


        Poem by Shafagh, one of the Mothers of the Laleh Park6
        Thursday, May 18, 2023

        Published in a tweet and translated to English by IEC volunteers.



        1. On November 16, 2022, a large number of protesters were caught up in a dragnet, all arbitrarily charged with the shooting deaths of two Basijis (plainclothes militiamen) and one cop at a protest in the “Isfahan House” district. The trials presented no evidence linking these men or other defendants to the killing nor that they were armed. There were the only confessions obtained through horrific torture and threats against their families, which they retracted in court. None of the defendants were allowed to choose their own lawyer. They were convicted of “waging war on God” in a trial that lasted four days. “More executions of protesters in Iran imminent after sham trials,” Center for Human Rights in Iran, May 17, 2023; Iran executes three men accused over anti-government protests,” The Guardian, May 19, 2023. [back]

        2. Daily update on; IRI does not publicize many of its executions, especially in oppressed nationality regions, so this statistic, based on media reports and internal contacts, is conservative [back]

        3. Mothers of Khavaran is an organization of mothers of victims of the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in the 1980s, whose bodies were hidden in mass graves in Khavaran Cemetery. [back]

        4. Note by translator from Farsi: Tulip and hyacinth flowers often symbolize love and beauty. Anemone is a Greek word, "daughter-of-the-wind," and the anemone flower symbolizes anticipation of time to come. [back]

        5. Mothers of Laleh Park is an organization of mothers of victims of the regime’s repression of the 2009 Green Movement. [back]

      4. ARTICLE:

        From Atash/Fire, Journal of the Communist Party of Iran, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, November 2022:

        If There Is to Be a Revolution, a Revolutionary Situation Must Be Created!

        Editors’ Note: The following is a translation of an article from the Communist Party of Iran, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (CPI-MLM), which appeared in their journal Atash/Fire, No. 132, November 2022. Given the recent developments in Iran and the efforts by the CPI (MLM) leadership to maximize gains toward an actual revolution, we thought it important to share this article with readers. This translation from Farsi is by volunteers; bracketed explanatory notes are from the translators.

        The nationwide uprising, which has continued unabated so far, is plowing and irrigating the ground for a real revolution. Every man or woman who falls at the hands of [Supreme Leader] Khamenei's military adds to the unity of the will to overthrow the regime. With each leap, distinct political lines about the future also become clearer. The most oppressed of the oppressed in the society, the women, have risen up and have become makers of revolution, and a new generation is standing on the shoulders of the sacrifices of three generations over the past 43 years and is determined to win this time.

        The idea that the revolution [of 1979] was a "catastrophe" has been pushed aside.  In this fresh and invigorating atmosphere, the lethargy and submission to the status quo that had gripped society, body and soul, has departed.

        Marx's voice is echoing in the air: Revolution is a Festival of the Oppressed! The sense of taking hold of our own destiny is so strong that even when we bury our dearest ones who have sacrificed their lives, we are rejoicing, and shaking the Islamist fascists to their core. But we are a long way from revolution and there are many dangers along the road.

        This has made it more urgent to clarify the objectives of the revolution and the roadmap for its realization. Any delay in doing so would result in the loss of the wonderful opportunities for revolutionary emancipation that can be achieved.

        In order for the tragedy of 43 years ago not to be repeated in a different form, under the banner of "revolution," an awareness of the character of the revolution and the conditions needed to achieve it must be promoted and take root among millions of people. The yardstick must be that the fact that revolution is not about changing the regime (regime change) while leaving the foundations of capitalism intact and in control of society.

        If instead of the rule of the Islamic fundamentalists, a government under the name of a republic or a monarchy comes to power to consolidate the capitalist system, this time without the title "Islamic Republic," it will not be a revolution. A change of ruling clique implemented by the capitalist-imperialist governments of the world is not a revolution—they have incorporated this regime into their world order for 43 years, and can do so again.

        Revolution is a historic change that occurs with the conscious participation of millions of people from different sections of society, especially the oppressed and exploited classes. To be specific: revolution is the overthrow of the Islamic Republic regime, its entire military and state apparatus, and its ideological institutions in an all-out and organized struggle of millions of conscious people, with the aim of establishing  a socialist state.

        Why a socialist state? Because this is the only state whose goal is to eradicate the capitalist mode of production. Why should the capitalist mode of production be eradicated? Because it is based on the oppression and exploitation of the majority of society and its functioning  produces class divisions, poverty and unemployment, the oppression of women, the oppression of [minority] nationalities, devastating wars and the destruction of the environment.

        The foundation of the Islamic Republic is the capitalist mode of production. Its difference with the Shah's regime is that, by merging religion with the state, this regime has painted a halo of eternal sanctification over capitalist oppression and exploitation in order to make its victims surrender. And if they don't surrender, [then] charge them with "waging war against God," and suppress them.

        It is not just the Islamic Republic that has a capitalist economic base. The whole world is [currently] based on the capitalist-imperialist system. One part of this global system is the imperialist capitalist countries (Europe, North America, China and Russia) and the other part is countries under their domination in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Islamic Republic and all oppressive regimes, such as the Shah's regime, are the products of this global system and integrated into its governing structures.

        The rise of fascist Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East, and today, the Christian fascists in the U.S., arises from how this system functions. This savagery has [now] created the necessity of eliminating capitalism, relegating the class system to the [dustbin of history], and establishing a communist society. The consequence of not responding to this necessity will bring on more horrifying suffering—not only for the Iranian people, but also for all of humanity. Under such circumstances, it's worse than madness to miss the opportunity [that] the current uprising has provided for revolution.

        If our approach to revolution is anything other than this, we will never reach a just society; the blood spilled in the streets and the sacrifices of the people will have been wasted. However, it's possible not to waste it, because we have the science of revolution that explains why revolution is necessary, what revolution is all about, the path to winning it. The emancipation of the vast majority of people can actually be achieved through such a revolution—even if they are not aware of it right now.

        The task and policy for today is to create a powerful political movement for communist revolution, amidst the ongoing battle that must continue until the Islamic Republic is overthrown.

        Knowing the Obstacles on the Road, and Overcoming Them

        In the tortuous road ahead, we need to recognize the obstacles that lie ahead, in order to remove them. Many people wrongfully use the concept of "a revolutionary situation" to explain current conditions, even though we are very far from a revolutionary situation. We have some work to do to reach such a situation. "Revolutionary situation" is an important theoretical concept that is explained in the science of communism, and refers to the conditions that make the victory of the revolution possible. Bob Avakian summarizes three conditions necessary for a revolutionary situation:

        A crisis in society and government so deep and so disruptive of the “usual way of things,” that those who have ruled over us, for so long, can no longer do so in the “normal” way that people have been conditioned to accept.

        A revolutionary people in the millions and millions,  with their “allegiance” to this system broken, and their determination to fight for a more just society greater than their fear of the violent repression of this system.

        An organized revolutionary force—made up of continually growing numbers of people, from among the most oppressed but also from many other parts of society—a force which is grounded in, and is working systematically to apply, the most scientific approach to building for and then carrying out revolution, and which is increasingly looked to by masses of people to lead them to bring about the radical change that is urgently needed.
        —"Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating: Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed. A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution," by Bob Avakian

        Something Terrible or Something Truly Emancipating - Square, wo "NEW"


        These three conditions do not move separately from each other but have a dynamically interactive relationship. To the extent that any one of them moves forward, it affects the other two conditions, and among them the evolution and movement of the second condition has a decisive effect on the status of the other two conditions.

        Let's look at the first condition, namely the emergence of a deep and crippling crisis within the ruling class. What has been the "usual practice" of the Islamic Republic, which had made people get accustomed to accepting it? The most important one has been a religious government whose compulsory hijab has been one of its foremost symbols. A large section of the people no longer believes that society should be governed through this set of beliefs and processes, and in their eyes the Islamic Republic has lost all of its legitimacy to govern.

        The marathon endurance of the uprising that has been boiling up from every faultline in society has greatly weakened the regime's ability to control society. There have been many divisions within the regime that have been intensified as a result of the ongoing uprising. Nevertheless, the regime has not been split apart from within.

        The various factions of the ruling class have reached a consensus against this uprising (at least temporarily), with the notion that they will first "rein it in" and then introduce certain "reforms." In fact, the spokespeople for such "consensus" have been those who were previously "barred from participating" and "barred from being selected and elected" by the ruling gang headed by Khamenei: people like Larijani [conservative former head of parliament], Khatami [former "reform" president] and Behzad Nabavi [former imprisoned member of parliament and elections critic].

        But they themselves know that the only remaining thing left for the survival of their Islamic Republic is repression. They are in alliance with the likes of Mostafa Mirsalim, a "member of the Expediency Discernment Council," who believes that a religious (theocratic) government should be maintained, and that the compulsory hijab and repression of women are central to the preservation of religious rule.

        The alliance that has formed among various factions of the Islamic Republic is not just due to fear of "tomorrow" and the "execution of everyone" at the hands of people (as the governor of Mazandaran has said). They really do want to hold on to religious rule. This is what is meant when we say that there has not been a split in this ruling class. The gauge of  a split within the ruling class would be that a wing or a faction says that religious rule can no longer be maintained, and acts accordingly. Moreover, the regime's organized fascist base, whose motivating force is religiosity, is still standing.

        Finally, the regime enjoys the support of capitalist-imperialist powers such as Russia and China that desperately need to dominate Iran's "playing field" in their global rivalries with western imperialists. Both parties to this rivalry (the so-called West and East) have no reservations about turning Iran into a scene of proxy wars, as is being done in Ukraine. These are factors, despite being contradictory, that have prevented the Islamic Republic’s ruling class from splitting.

        The purpose of giving a scientific assessment of the complexity of the situation is to emphasize that we [need to] see the twists and turns in the road, so that we can determine our tasks and prepare to move forward victoriously.

        Let's look at the second condition in the formation of a "revolutionary condition." Completely destabilizing the regime's balance and tying the hands of its imperialist allies are entirely dependent on the second condition, namely the creation of "revolutionary people numbering in millions." There is a difference between joining the current uprising versus the creation of millions of people who know the difference between revolution and regime change [that is] for the benefit of a few, people who are not willing to accept anything less than revolution.

        A revolutionary people comes into being as a result of awareness of the revolutionary goal, and a determination to fight for that revolutionary goal. It is this awareness that creates not just the needed courage, but also the initiative, the planning and the skill to crush the foundations of the old state apparatus, and the step-by-step creation of the future new state apparatus.

        The current uprising has brought about a great change in the thinking of hundreds of thousands, even millions of people. The Islamic Republic's intellectual dominance has been shattered in many ways. A large number of young women and men are realizing their mission and motivating other sections of people against the government and the need for sacrifice in this regard. The regional diversity of the uprising has given it an amazing richness and has created a beautiful nationwide unity which is vital to winning the upcoming revolutionary war and building the future new society. Although unfortunately, the myth of "patriotism" and the "flag" is still strong in many people's minds, Persian supremacy over non-Persian nations has been dealt a heavy blow.

        The role of women as a basic force in the radical transformation of society has become an undeniable fact. This is a tremendous achievement. But there is still a long way to go in changing people's thinking. The remnants of male/patriarchal culture and the supremacy of the “Glorious Land of Persia” [chauvinism] must be taken seriously, as it is encouraged and reinforced in a thousand and one ways.

        To consolidate the current achievements is deeply dependent on tens of thousands, and then millions of men and women coming to realize that male/patriarchal oppression is rooted in the socio-economic system called capitalism.  As long as there is a capitalist system—whether with the Islamic Republic regime, or the monarchy, or a democratic republic, or any other form of government—it will fuel the oppression of women and will reproduce male/patriarchal social relations and related decadent ideologies.

        Realizing this fact, one can see how this social oppression is intertwined with class distinctions, poverty, unemployment and other oppressive social relations such as the oppression of minority nationalities, catastrophes like the filthy regional and imperialist wars, as well as the destruction of the environment. All of this is part and parcel of the socio-economic fabric of capitalism. All these facts dictate the content of the needed revolution, and tell us what kind of leadership that the revolution needs.

        We reach the third condition in shaping the revolutionary situation. That is, the existence of "a force which is grounded in, and is working systematically to apply, the most scientific approach to building for and then carrying out revolution, and which is increasingly looked to by masses of people to lead them to bring about the radical change that is urgently needed.” (Bob Avakian, “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating”) [Emphasis added.]

        This scientific approach is the science of the new communism, which our party, the Communist Party of Iran (MLM), is based on, and our duty is to act as the basis for the creation and expansion of such a force.

        In fulfilling this task, working on the second condition (creating a movement of millions of revolutionary people) is decisive. Once such a force is formed, a revolutionary war can be organized [to fight until] final victory, with a force that constantly grows and revolutionary leaders that are trained and tested. No revolution can succeed without [seizing] political power. Without [state] power it is never possible to destroy the old socio-economic system and replace it with a new and just system.

        To work on the second and third conditions, we rely on three basic Party documents that can be found in all Party publications and media channels. Today, however, [what] we must specifically take to people [are] the "Three Directives" which are in chapter four of the document "The Manifesto and Programme for the Communist Revolution in Iran." We can use [these Directives] in four ways:

        1) Distribute information to the public on what our immediate actions and steps will be [on] the day after the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, in order to eradicate the roots of the regime and open the way for a just society.

        2) Use the "Three Directives" as a yardstick to distinguish all of those who can be united with, versus those political forces belonging to the bourgeois classes that already intend to install themselves [in power], upon the "downfall" of the Islamic Republic ([whether they are] Monarchists or the Transition Council or any other institution that [hopes to] lay claim to the future of the society and its direction).

        3) Use these Directives to create small and large militant alliances in neighborhoods, in factories, in towns, in villages and with various guilds... for tomorrow.

        4) Take collective action to carry out every aspect of these steps to make the Islamic Republic a target of struggle that can be implemented starting today, and at every juncture during the development of the uprising. For example, defying the regime's red lines regarding the compulsory hijab and gender segregation, non-compliance in religious practices, refusing to show up at the Islamic Republic's houses of injustice, pressuring regional birth certificate centers to issue birth certificates and IDs to Baloch and Afghan people. Most importantly, call for the unconditional release of all political prisoners, etc.

        By building such a movement, we can begin now to develop the key institutions and foundations of the future government—from below, by involving millions of people from different sections of society, who are aware of and believe in the goals of this revolution. Any kind of "provisional government" should be the expression of these Directives and nothing less. The revolution cannot limit itself to merely expanding the current uprising. [Instead] this uprising must find its clear voice in relation to the future alternative.

        Bourgeois political entities, who want to impose their views and their agenda (the likes of Pahlavi monarchists and the Transitional Council, etc.), say that after the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, the details of the future society and the next regime will be determined by a "constituent assembly, comprised of all points of view" and then [all will head to] the election polls! There is nothing more demagogically hypocritical than this "democratic" populism. Whichever socio-political entity has a clear understanding of its future alternative at that very moment, will control the composition of the Constituent Assembly and the ballot boxes. There's no doubt that [these forces] have been fully clear about their own future alternative, and are plotting their domestic and international alliances.

        But people are not [yet] clear about which alternative will be to their immediate and long-term benefit! Therefore, beginning today, we must clarify what entities we will ally with in the future.

        The Content of the Desired and Possible Future Must Create a Powerful Alliance

        For this to happen, from now on people should know what law will replace the constitution, the Sharia and civic laws of the Islamic Republic, in order to truly fulfill the essential equality rights, political, economic and social rights for the entire population, and in particular the rights of women and people of oppressed nations.

        How will freedom of thought and expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of press, freedom to form organizations and parties, freedom to strike, freedom to dissent and be the people's critics be guaranteed? How are confiscated assets going to be used to provide urgent shelter, medical treatment and education for everyone, especially those in deprived areas?

        How promptly will Afghan child laborers and immigrants be able to benefit from their [new] rights? What type of economy will eradicate oppression, exploitation, poverty and unemployment, and will prevent the destruction of the environment?

        People need to find out, from this day forward, what will happen to the regime's military and security institutions. How will the complete separation of religion and state be carried out to ban the usage of religion in any shape or form in the legal, judicial, educational and family infrastructure? What will we do with the military and security pacts and economic contracts the Islamic Republic has with imperialist powers? What forces, and with what kind of policy, will take over garrisons, ministries, banks, radio and television, communications, industries, dams and farming, and what will be done with them?

        What will become of religious institutions, massive agricultural lands owned by the Jihad of Construction and the Imam Reza Holy Shrine Enterprise, [both multi-billion dollar entities], etc.? What will become of dams and water reservoirs? How will the councils of the poor and the landless workers and peasants in each region be formed and governed? How will the councils of professors, teachers, college students and elementary students that were formed during the revolution run the educational institutions? And what about dozens of other colossal and vital issues related to the character and principles of a desirable and possible future society?

        We can never cast blame or be surprised about the efforts by out-of-power bourgeois forces to preserve their class system. But their opportunistic slogan of "unity, unity" must be shattered, because the vital task on the agenda that our society is striving for [requires] the overthrow of this regime and the establishment of a New Socialist Republic—and nothing less! The opportunistic slogans of "unity, unity" serve only to roll back and cover up this endeavor, and we cannot tolerate it. Therefore, without hesitation, we shall promote the alternative of communist revolution among the people and make sure that its clear, loud sound echoes and has influence all over the country.

        Only by creating a Movement for Revolution with such content and creating a great united front around such a program, can we transform the amazing opportunities of the current uprising, and the larger uprisings to come, into a power that paves the way for building a society that helps the people transition [away] from the current horrors.

      5. ARTICLE:

        From the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now:

        Inspiring Protests by Groups of Political Prisoners:

        “Executions Will Only Strengthen the People’s Will to Resist”

        Editors’ note: We received this update from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC).

        In recent weeks, several collective efforts by Iran’s political prisoners have emerged to protest the current “hanging spree”1 by the Islamic Republic of Iran, with many more executions looming. The fact that this resistance is taking place behind the walls and under the very eye of the “Republic of Executioners” highlights the urgency to make the struggle to free them all an international demand. Their inspiring courage and camaraderie under dire conditions should be spread and emulated.

        The weekend of May 20-21 saw protests in numerous cities around the world against the executions in Iran that needs to continue in advancing a global movement to free Iran’s political prisoners with determination, innovation and urgency.

        Golrokh Iraee wrote inside Evin: “The political women of Evin Prison held a ceremony on Saturday [May 20] at 6 pm in the courtyard of the women's prison to protest the recent executions, including the execution of two people in Arak prison on the charge of blasphemy and the three recently executed in Isfahan. In this ceremony, a number of attendees presented their views.”

        Her IG post includes this graphic with very brief summaries from each speaker; the post and comments present the full speeches in Farsi. Translations below are by an IEC volunteer.

        Gallery of Iranian political prisoners.


        The title reads: “Executions will only strengthen the people's will to resist”

        Top row, left to right:

        • Bahareh Hedayat: “The people have always been at the forefront of protests, have accepted its dangers, and willing to pay for it with their lives.”
        • Sepideh Gholian: “We will put all we have into the fight for these people and this land.”
        • Golrokh Iraee: “Our silence only gives permission to those responsible for these heinous crimes and makes us complicit in erecting the gallows.”
        • Mahvash Shahiari: Along with offering condolences to the families of those executed, Mahvash expressed concern and sadness for the increase in the number of executions.
        • Narges Mohammadi: “The regime is using executions and killings to exact violent revenge on people's revolutionary movement.”

        Bottom row left to right:

        • Shakila Monfared: “If we do not protest today, tomorrow will be our turn. Since executions began increasing, I have been thinking of the famous quote that: ‘first they came for the communists, but we remained silent because we are not communists…. Then they came for us and there was no one left to speak up.’ It doesn't matter what is the alleged reason for the execution, if we do not speak up today, tomorrow we will be the ones executed.”
        • Zohreh Sarv: “We will decisively put an end to this bloodthirsty and misogynistic government.” [from her full statement]
        • Vida Rabbani: “Years ago, we told the Islamic Republic everything that we had to say…. Their answer to protests is blood running in the streets.” [from]
        • Nasrin Khazri Javadi: “We are now witnessing the spilling of our youths’ blood by executions … while young people’s blood is still fresh in the streets.”
        • Faezeh Hashemi: “If the IRI is serious about punishing wrongdoers, then where are the sentences for those who committed mass executions in the 1980s, the serial killings of the green movement...?”

        Golrokh’s post continues: “It is no longer enough to verbally condemn the Islamic Republic and ask for an end to executions.... We must go to the streets, without masks, to take our rights and to save the lives of dozens of people who shall be hanged by tomorrow morning’s call to prayer or in the following days.”


        Reported from Ghezel Hesar prison: “This is the way heroes act, they continue their struggle even in captivity. A number of prisoners of the 2nd ward of Ghezel Hesar prison in Karaj started their hunger strike since Sunday [May 21], after hearing the news of the executions of Saeed Yaghoubi, Majid Kazemi and Saleh Mir Hashemi, opposing the rise of numbers of executions in Iran. This is heroic act, while in captivity by Islamist criminals, waging war against them.” – IG post by @aworldwithoutborder, May 23, 2023


        Six political prisoners in the men’s ward of Evin Prison issued a statement, which includes:

        “Contrary to the government’s always incorrect calculations, the terror resulting from the execution will not prevent people from trying and fighting to rule over their own destiny.” —Mostafa Tajzadeh, Amirsalar Davodi, Hossein Razak, Reza Shahabi, Saeed Madani, Kivan Mehtadi, May 21, 2023

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        From the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now:

        Life of Iranian Political Prisoner Nahid Taghavi in Immediate Danger

        Fellow Prisoner & Renowned Human Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi Sounds Alarm

        International Emergency Campaign (IEC) Calls for Global Outcry Demanding Taghavi's Immediate Medical Release editors’ note: We received this news release from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now.

        Nahid Taghavi, Iranian political prisoner


        Nahid Taghavi    Photo: Narges_Mohammadi_Media

        June 5, 2023

        Interviews available

        On Sunday, June 4 renowned Iranian prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, recently profiled in the New York Times, reported that the health of fellow political prisoner Nahid Taghavi had seriously deteriorated and requires immediate medical attention.

        Mohammadi calls attention to the fact that "The officials of [Iran’s] judiciary branch push sick prisoners to the maximum possible limit, to the point of the loss of health, torment, and deprivation. The life of political prisoner Nahid Taghavi is in danger…. How long will this harassment continue?"

        Taghavi's daughter, Mariam Claren, told the International Emergency Campaign (IEC): "We are deeply concerned about Narges Mohammadi's report on my mother’s health. If the Islamic Republic doesn't kill the people in the street or hang them, they let them slowly die in prison. I ask all people around the world to be my mother's voice and the voice of all political prisoners in Iran. Demand my mother's release! Don’t lean on your governments! History and recent events have shown us that the so-called democratic governments only care about business, not the people."

        "We are calling for a global outcry to demand Nahid Taghavi be immediately released on medical furlough so she can receive proper treatment," says IEC spokesperson Dolly Veale. "Denial of medical care is a form of torture that Iran's theocratic, inhumane regime systematically carries out."

        Nahid Taghavi: Arrested, Railroaded, Now Medically Tortured

        Nahid Taghavi is a 68-year-old German-Iranian citizen who suffers from diabetes and hypertension. After her arrest in October 2020, she was interrogated for some 1,000 hours, all without legal counsel.

        Amnesty International declared her and British-Iranian citizen Mehran Raoof, who was also arrested then, prisoners of conscience, “detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association.” Amnesty called for their immediate, unconditional release.

        In August 2021, after a sham trial, she was convicted along with Raoof, who is also still being held, and sentenced to 10 years and eight months in prison. In 2022, Taghavi was released on a brief medical leave but was forced to return to prison before she could complete the medically necessary course of treatments.

        Mohammadi reports Taghavi "is in so much pain that you can clearly see the pain on her face. She gets out of her bed with difficulty, goes to the hospital and is injected with a strong painkiller and returns to her bed. I am used to seeing Nahid several times a day with a cigarette pack and a cup of coffee in the yard with an open face full of love and deep and sharp discussions."

        Taghavi "spent two hundred and twenty days in a small solitary cell, alone, with three blankets," Mohammadi writes, and "Lack of light, air, space for movement, poor quality food, deprivation of medical and health care and history of lumbar disc, mental and nervous pressures, and the continuous pressure of interrogation cause her lumbar disc to become more acute and cervical disc, uncontrollable diabetes and blood pressure."

        Read Narges Mohammadi's full statement, in Farsi

        * * *

        The Lives of Iran’s Political Prisoners Hang in the Balance – We Must ACT NOW!

        This Emergency Appeal from the International Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now, launched in March 2021 in the U.S., has been endorsed by over 5,000 people from 50 countries, including Germany, the UK and France. Signers include former Iranian political prisoners, relatives of current prisoners, the Burn the Cage/Free the Birds movement in Europe, and prominent voices of conscience including Shirin Ebadi, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem, Ariel Dorfman, Jody Williams, Daniel Ellsberg, Judith Butler, and Raymond Lotta. It appeared as an ad on the back cover of the Summer 2021 issue of The New York Review of Books as well as in the Summer 2022 issue of Ms. magazine and has been translated into Farsi, Turkish, French, Spanish, and German.

        Endorse the Emergency Appeal to Free Iran's Political Prisoners

        * * *

        Below is a mechanical translation of Narges Mohammadi's tweet, editorial clarifications by IEC volunteers are in brackets.

        The officials of the judicial branch harass and deprive the "sick prisoner" to the maximum possible limit, to the point of losing health.

        Political prisoner and human rights activist, Narges' Mohammadi, in a letter from Evin prison, reported the health condition of dual-national political prisoner [Nahid Taghavi],  as critical. She wrote:

        "This is the second time I have seen 68-year-old Nahid Taghavi in such a state. She is in so much pain that you can clearly see the pain on his face. She gets out of his bed with difficulty, goes to the hospital and is injected with a strong painkiller and returns to her bed. I am used to seeing Nahid several times a day with a cigarette pack and a cup of coffee in the [prison] yard with an open face full of love, in deep and sharp discussions. She has [endured] this pain throughout 220 days of solitary confinement.

        Nahid graduated from the University of Florence in Italy. She was arrested on the street in October 2020, and transferred to solitary cells 2-A of the IRGC [in Evin Prison]. She spent two hundred and twenty days in a small solitary cell, alone, with three blankets (one under her head, one under her body and one on her face).

        Lack of light, air, space for movement, poor quality food, deprivation of medical and health care [despite her] history of lumbar disc, mental and nervous pressures, [in addition to] the continuous pressure of interrogation cause her lumbar disc to become more acute and cervical disc, uncontrollable diabetes and blood pressure.

        Nahid was deprived of access to a specialist doctor until February 2022. [Meanwhile], her fingers stopped working. Numerous pills from the infirmary inside the prison have made her condition worse day by day and finally in July 2022, she was sent to get cortisone injections into the joints of her body, which is a very painful injection. After months of delay, that is, months of pain and torture, the second treatment finally happened in April 2023.

        These days, Nahid is again suffering from dry fingers and severe pain in her neck, back and hands,  despite the forensic medical order [that was] attached to the judiciary's [sentence], that she should not be in an environment full of anxiety and stress.

        Both times, after very difficult and painful injections of cortisone into the joints, Nahid was transferred from the hospital bed to the prison bed. How long will this torment continue?"

        Narges Mohammadi, June 3, 2023