Posts by issue number/Posteos por número de la edición

 

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

  • A Guide to This Issue of Revolution What You Need to Know and Engage This Week About the World and Revolution: In This Issue August 8, 2022
  • 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

  • Organizing for an Actual Revolution: 7 Key Points
  • BOB AVAKIAN: A RADICALLY DIFFERENT LEADER— A WHOLE NEW FRAMEWORK FOR HUMAN EMANCIPATION

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

  • Theory and Reality... Knowing and Changing the World

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

  • A Scientific Approach to Society, and Changing Society

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

  • The Importance of Line... and of Polemics

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

  • When People Are Falling Into Bullshit, They Should Be Told So: The Need for Sharp, and Principled, Struggle

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

  • The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

  • Excerpts from:

    What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian
  • People speak out

    Statements in Reply to Attacks on Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and the Dangerous Distortions and Slanders against Bob Avakian and the Revcoms

    This Week: " ... they go after Bob Avakian because he is telling people what is behind the curtain" ...

  • Reposted from Counterpunch:

    Why is “the Left” Red-Baiting Rise Up for Abortion Rights on the Eve of Fascist Destruction?
  • What to Learn—and What NOT to Learn—From the Kansas Referendum on Abortion Four Points of Orientation
  • Fighting for the Right to Abortion: Sights and Sounds, July 31-August 6
  • VIDEO:

    A Pivotal Part of the Strategy For Revolution: The Struggle to Transform the Thinking of the People
  • FBI Raid on the African People’s Socialist Party: A Chilling “Message,” an Act of State Repression
  • U.S. “Commemorates” Its Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima… By Playing “Nuclear Chicken” with China… and Russia
  • Member of Angola 3 Dies at Age 75 Long Live the Spirit of Albert Woodfox, Inspiring Political Prisoner!
  • From a Reader:

    More Thoughts on Bill Russell—Determined to Fight Against Racism.
  • The Spread of Monkeypox: Global Inequality and the Vicious Insanity of Imperialism
  • People Righteously Resist Attack on Berkeley’s Historic People’s Park—Beating Back Attempts to Convert to Dorms
  • Check It Out: The Film Blue Bayou
  • Spread the Word about The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show

    YOU Have a Role to Play in Building This Revolution

    Sharing and Spreading the Word about The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show Is a Key Way to Do Just That

  • Materials for Organizing for Revolution Materiales de organización para la revolución
  • DONATE NOW to push Summer Fund Drive across finish line
  • From the New Communism Movement of Afghanistan (JAKNA):

    The Struggle to Free Women in Afghanistan and the Need to Overthrow the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban!
  • ALERTS from the International Emergency Committee to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW (IEC) - August 8, 2022

    NOW AVAILABLE: Ms. Magazine with Emergency Appeal to Free Iran's Political Prisoners
  • VIDEO:

    Andy Zee interviews political activist Jim Fouratt
  • Brianna Marie Grier Has a Mental Health Episode… Pigs Arrive… She Ends Up Dead
  • VIDEO:

    Freddie McGee, father of Freddie Latrice Wilson, reads his response to the attacks on Bob Avakian
  • From Chapter Nine: "Becoming a Communist"—Excerpts from From Ike to Mao and Beyond

    People's Park

  • VIDEO:

    Rafael Kadaris Talks about the Democrats' Climate Bill—BULLSHIT of Historic Proportions
  • VIDEO:

    Roosevelt, member of the Chicago Revolution Club, reads his statement of support for Bob Avakian
  • ARTICLE:

    A Guide to This Issue of Revolution

    What You Need to Know and Engage This Week

    About the World and Revolution:

    In This Issue August 8, 2022

    A Crucial Struggle in the Defense of Principle and Leadership Based on That Principle

    There is a struggle continuing to rage with deep implications for the whole direction of things in this society. This week another internet news platform—VICE—launched an attack on Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights (RU4AR), with a particular focus on the fact that some of its members follow the author of the new communism and revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian (BA). If that sounds familiar, it’s because this article repeated the unprincipled, baseless and very dangerous charges against Bob Avakian previously aired in outlets as seemingly disparate as the more-or-less mainstream Daily Beast, The Intercept (which styles itself as “progressive”), and the Daily Caller (a straight-up fascist site begun by Tucker Carlson). While giving some space to some of the refutations from Sunsara Taylor—who is a follower of BA—as well as RiseUp leaders Lori Sokol and Merle Hoffman (who are not), it also detailed a number of anonymous charges from those they claimed had left RiseUp and even dug up one really foul and, yes, utterly invented, unsubstantiated and totally unverifiable attack dating from 1979. And through it all, the one theme pounded on was “cult.”

    “Strangely enough,” none of these reporters at any of these outlets have thought to include any actual quotes from BA himself from articles specifically replying to the charges of “cult,” two of which were published in the past year and a half. ("Bob Avakian Answers Accusations of 'Cult': Ignorance, and Cowardice"; "Bob Avakian Speaks to 'Cult': A Ridiculous, Ignorant, and Irresponsible Accusation. We Are Applying a Scientific Method and Approach to Understanding, and Transforming, the World to Emancipate Humanity") Why do you suppose that might be?

    Fighting Back

    This barrage of attacks is one end of the struggle. Here it has to be said that there have been excellent and thorough refutations of the main lines of attack, both from RU4AR and from revcoms, including Sunsara Taylor. (For some of these replies go here, here, here, here and here.)

    At the same time, there is—and there has to be—another side to the fightback: one of people who from a variety of perspectives see the danger bound up in the campaign of defamation and slander and who feel the need to take a stand against the attackers. Something is growing here that needs to be encouraged, given direction and organized. Last week we published an initial round of such statements; this week we are publishing more, from a wider range of sources and a wider range of concerns. This has to grow.

    Here we want to highlight something that one person wrote last week: “[I]t’s important to immerse yourself in the knowledge of the movement of Bob Avakian and to support this leader. And to protect him at all costs. Protect him at all costs. Because they have killed enough of our leaders. So we have to form a strong web around him and protect him.” This is a correct and important sentiment. One big way to weave that web now is to spread these statements. Another important way is to take a stand, in your own words and in your own way, against the lies and worse that are being spread and share it with revcom.us and on social media.

    The Crucial Fight Over Method, Principle, and Standards

    There’s another struggle bound up in this—one over how we think about reality and how we sort through the real differences that inevitably come up in fighting for revolution. In this regard, we want to strongly call everyone’s attention to “Bob Avakian On Methods, Principles and Standards”—an excerpt from an interview from 10 years ago, What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, an Interview with Bob Avakian. BA in this interview discusses what it means to apply science to understanding and transforming society and, very importantly, what it means to have principled debate and struggle over different political analyses and positions… and what happens when principle is jettisoned or ignored. These are questions to wage real struggle over, right now; no one can stand aside. In this piece, BA’s method is as exhilarating as the conclusions he comes to—read it and spread it and discuss it. It stands in stark contrast to so much of what people are bombarded with in this society.

    Waging this fight—for the methods, principles and standards that will enable people to get to the truth and that will prevent the rulers from stirring shit up and then utilizing the stigma and divisions they’ve fostered to carry out really foul stuff—has to be a critical part of what we’re doing. And getting into this piece—reading it and coming back to it, reflecting on it, talking about it with comrades and friends, spreading it to others—is invaluable and necessary.

    The Struggle Over Leadership and the Times We Live In

    This struggle over leadership is not some random occurrence. It takes place in a specific time and place—one analyzed in great depth in Bob Avakian’s extremely important talk, 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. This is a time of high stakes for everyone—one in which this empire is in significant trouble around the world, in which the old ways of ruling which people have been conditioned to accept are coming apart at the seams, and where the possibilities of either something even more horrific emerging out of that OR something indeed “truly emancipating” being wrenched out of it are very immediate, in ways that are truly unprecedented. At this moment, the danger of this leadership—BA—connecting with much broader numbers of people is something that haunts not only opportunists, but powerful sections on both sides of the ruling class.

    It is not accidental that the flashpoint of this particular struggle has been the battle around the right to abortion. The overturning of Roe v. Wade, and all that it concentrates, is not simply a momentarily very acute contradiction. It is one that has ongoing, decisive bearing on the whole direction of things, including the prospects for something terrible, or for wrenching something truly positive and emancipating out of the continually intensifying contradictions. This is so because of the fundamental nature of what this concentrates—yes, the very real question of the enslavement of women... or a fight against this that can be of crucial importance for their real emancipation, and that of the masses of people overall. This would be true, even if the overturning of Roe were not accompanied, as it almost certainly will be, not only by continuing attacks on the right to abortion, anywhere/everywhere in this country, but also very likely attacks on LGBTQ rights, as well as other dimensions of this ongoing and escalating fascist juggernaut and the effective paralysis of the Democrats in the face of it.

    For those now on the attack, the great “offense” of Rise Up—and of the revcoms within it—is that they reached out and have continued to reach out as widely as they could with the real terms of things: that this was a fight against female enslavement and the oppression of women, not some vague notion of “bodily autonomy”… that people need to tell the unvarnished truth about what this will mean and to risk something to sound the alarm and wake up others… that a wide range of people and political forces were needed in this fight… and that the fascist beast that others would prefer to turn away from or deny must be confronted, and the conciliation of the Democrats with that monstrosity called out, opposed, and ridden over.

    In this issue, we highlight important developments in this struggle: the referendum in Kansas which upheld abortion rights and the law passed three days later in Indiana which eviscerated them, and the battle over what that means; and a very good segment from The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show on YouTube featuring a bold action undertaken in Los Angeles by Rise Up.

    We also again highlight The RNL Show. We urge our readers to review Andy Zee’s commentary for the latest episode of the show and then rewatch the entire show with that in mind. Then work to spread this, joining with others if at all possible, to come up with creative ways to build the audience.

    Finally, in addition to other important articles, we call your attention to an outrageous—and ominous—raid that took place against the Black nationalist organization African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Organization in St. Louis and St. Petersburg this past week.

    Included in this issue:

    * 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

    * Organizing for an Actual Revolution: 7 Key Points

    * Bob Avakian: A Radically Different Leader—A Whole New Framework for Human Emancipation

    * Bob Avakian On Methods, Principles and Standards: excerpts from What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, an Interview with Bob Avakian

    * Countering the Attacks on Bob Avakian, the revcoms, and Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights

    * The fight for Abortion rights

    * The RNL Show

    * FBI Raid on the African People’s Socialist Party: A Chilling “Message,” an Act of State Repression

    * U.S. “Commemorates” Its Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima… By Playing “Nuclear Chicken” with China … and Russia

    * Member of Angola 3 Dies at Age 75 Long Live the Spirit of Albert Woodfox, Inspiring Political Prisoner!

    * More Thoughts on Bill Russell—Determined to Fight Against Racism.

    * The Spread of Monkeypox: Global Inequality and the Vicious Insanity of Imperialism

    * People Righteously Resist Attack on Berkeley’s Historic People’s Park—Beating Back Attempts to Convert to Dorms

    * Check It Out: The Film Blue Bayou

    * Brianna Marie Grier Has a Mental Health Episode… Pigs Arrive… She Ends Up Dead

    * Donate to the Revcom.us Summer fund drive—$20,000 by mid-August!

  • ARTICLE:

    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

    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 revcom.us: 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 revcom.us, 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

     

    BOB AVAKIAN:
    A RADICALLY DIFFERENT LEADER—A WHOLE NEW FRAMEWORK FOR HUMAN EMANCIPATION

    Learn more about Bob Avakian and the new communism
    A DECLARATION, A CALL TO GET ORGANIZED NOW FOR A REAL REVOLUTION

     

    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.

    And:

    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.

    And:

    [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 revcom.us. 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.

    Announcing New work by BA, SOMETHING TERRIBLE, OR SOMETHING TRULY EMANCIPATING:

     

    Bob Avakian

     

    BOB AVAKIAN:
    A RADICALLY DIFFERENT LEADER—A WHOLE NEW FRAMEWORK FOR HUMAN EMANCIPATION

    Learn more about Bob Avakian and the new communism

    A DECLARATION, A CALL TO GET ORGANIZED NOW FOR A REAL REVOLUTION

     


    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

     

  • ARTICLE:

    Organizing for an Actual Revolution:

    7 Key Points

    Everyone who can’t stand this world, the way it is, needs to be challenged to be part of the revolution that is the way out of this madness. And people need to know there is an actual strategy for making this revolution, based on the key points of the “foundation” and “roadmap” for this revolution in the work by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian: “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating.” The following is the basic means for carrying out this strategy, so that the currently small forces for the revolution that is urgently needed can grow in numbers and strength, quickly in a concentrated way, and become the powerful force that is needed to lead this revolution. Spreading and popularizing these Key Points is also an important part of carrying out this strategy.

    1   Set forth, and explain, in the following basic terms, why this is a “rare time” when revolution becomes (more) possible, even in a powerful country like this:

    Brutal and murderous white supremacy, male supremacy, and other oppressive relations, the deepening crisis in society and the world overall, including the constant wars and the continuing destruction of the environment: all this cannot ultimately be resolved, in any positive way, within the confines of the system that rules in this country and dominates in the world as a whole—the system of capitalism-imperialism. Under the rule of this system, all this will only get worse. The deepening divisions within this country now, from top to bottom, mean that those who have ruled in this country for so long (the capitalist-imperialist ruling class) can no longer rule, as a “unified force,” in the “normal” way that people have been conditioned to accept—with a system of government that has an outer shell of “democracy” to cover over the fact that it is an actual capitalist dictatorship at its core, relying fundamentally on the armed force of the institutions of “official violence,” the police and the military. Because of big changes in this country and the world overall, one part of the ruling class, represented by the Republican Party, has become fascist: they no longer believe in or feel bound by what have been the “norms” of “democratic” capitalist rule in this country. And the other section of the ruling class, represented by the Democratic Party, has no real answer to this—except trying to maintain the “normal way” that the oppressive rule of this system has been enforced for hundreds of years, while the fascists are determined to tear up those “norms” and rule through more openly and aggressively oppressive means, without the traditional disguise of supposed “democracy for all.”

    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. And this resolution could quite possibly happen, one way or the other, within the next few years. 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. In a situation like this, things that have basically remained the same, for decades, can radically change in a very short period of time. This rare time must not be wasted—it must be seized on to have a real fighting chance to bring about a truly emancipating revolutionary resolution, and not be subjected to a terrible, reactionary, murderously oppressive and destructive resolution.

    2   With the recognition of this rare time when revolution becomes (more) possible: wield the forces for revolution now to impact masses of people, in all parts of society—bringing to people the message of revolution, especially in short, powerful and popular forms, both online and “in real life”—setting forth why this revolution is necessary, and is possible, and how to be part of working to make it a reality. In hard-hitting, compelling ways, carry out ferocious struggle against ways of thinking that keep people chained to this system, winning growing numbers to break with all that, while also mobilizing masses of people to fight against injustices and outrages that are continually committed under this system and to stand up against the forces that perpetrate and enforce these injustices and outrages. Spread far and wide the inspiring vision of how much better life could be, for the great majority of people, if millions of people got behind this revolution and carried it through—making it possible to restructure all of society on a completely different foundation, with a radically different economic system (mode of production) and emancipating relations among people, as spelled out very concretely in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian.

    3   With “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating” as the basic guide, and utilizing the YouTube RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show and the website revcom.us as key resources, organize people who are drawn to this to grapple with why an actual revolution is necessary, what such a revolution involves, and what kind of society this is aiming for. Involve them in the process of building for revolution, in an organized way—in being part of carrying out point 2. Enable people in parts of the country where the revolution does not yet have an organized presence to link up with others and become part of this revolution.

    4   Through this process, build up the forces of revolution, first in the hundreds, in areas all over the country, and weld them together as an organized force. Develop and train revolutionary leaders, on the basis of the scientific method and approach of the new communism that has been developed by Bob Avakian.

    5   Wield these organized forces to repeat points 1-4 on an increasingly larger scale—reaching much greater numbers of people, in all parts of society, organizing thousands into the process of building for this revolution, while developing and training growing numbers of high-level revolutionary leaders. Powerfully impact society as a whole, awakening and influencing millions toward revolution. Keep clearly in mind, constantly popularize, and act on the understanding that:

    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.

    6   Once this revolutionary force is brought into being, with a continually growing core of tested and steeled revolutionary leaders, and the crisis in society and the divisions, from top to bottom, are reaching a breaking point: everything would then be focused on how to actually organize and wield this revolutionary force to fight to win—to actually defeat the forces seeking to crush the revolution. This will mean carrying out the basic approach for how this could actually be done that is set forth in “Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating.”

    7   Continually popularize these Key Points, while actively carrying them out, and involving more and more people, in an organized way, in doing so.

  • ARTICLE:

    BOB AVAKIAN: A RADICALLY DIFFERENT LEADER—
    A WHOLE NEW FRAMEWORK FOR HUMAN EMANCIPATION

    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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  • ARTICLE:

    Theory and Reality... Knowing and Changing the World

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

    Editors’ Note: At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian (BA) was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks.  (This interview, with the title What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, is available at revcom.us,)

    Brooks—a younger-generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward—is the author of “God the Original Fascist,” a series of articles which appeared in Revolution in 2005, and is available at revcom.us (excerpts from these articles are quoted by Bob Avakian at the beginning of his book Away With All Gods!—Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008). We are republishing here sections of this interview which are highly relevant to the current situation—particularly as a critique of the all-too-common practice of lies, slander and unprincipled rumormongering that are part of the popular culture these days, including among people calling themselves “anarchist”... “left”... “progressive”... “woke.”

    In this interview, 10 years ago, BA called out this highly destructive way of avoiding principled struggle over differences—and, in opposition to this, emphasized the kinds of standards and methods that need to be applied in order to have principled and meaningful struggle over differences and arrive at a scientific understanding of what different ideologies and programs actually represent, and where they will actually lead.  We want to call attention especially to the section of this interview “The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need,” because of its particular and very direct relevance to what is happening today.

    What Humanity Needs - Cover

     

    What Humanity Needs, by Bob Avakian   

    Brooks: Well, carrying forward with some of what you were just talking about, I wanted to get a little bit more into this point about the importance of theory and line, including because I think this is sometimes something that the younger generation doesn't give enough weight to. I mean, obviously, it's not just the younger generation. But, when I was re-reading your memoir,2 one thing that came through is that in the height of the '60s there were all kinds of different lines and programs out there, all different kinds of understandings that were being put forward about the problem and the solution. I know that you speak a lot in that memoir to the importance of theory and line, in terms of navigating through all that, and it is clear that there was importance to polemics, in taking on incorrect lines. It seems like that becomes all the more important when things are sharpening up and a lot of people are becoming politically awake and trying to figure out what the problem and solution is.

    So, I wondered if, in relation to these times right now, when there is all this stuff going on in the world and people are kind of raising their heads—and, as the RCP's statement "On the Strategy for Revolution" puts it, questioning and resisting what they usually accept—how you see the importance of line and theory, and polemics, in that context.

    BA: Well, theory is important in an overall, overarching sense, and is important in an ongoing way. Theory is what leads to an understanding, in one way or another, of reality, or parts of reality. And the question always is: Is the theory, in the broadest sense, and in the deepest sense, a correct reflection of reality, or is it not? You know, everybody has theories. Even the "man and woman in the street" have theories about all kinds of things. And then other people who are intellectuals, more full-time, you might say—people who work with ideas in a more continual way—have more developed theories about a lot of different things, theories as applied to particular things or as applied to the world, nature, existence in general. So, the question is not: is there gonna be theory or no theory? The question is: what kind of theory, and does the theory, in its main lines—not in every detail, but in its main lines, and in essential ways—really correspond to reality? Another way to say this: is it scientific?

    Let's not mystify science. Science means that you probe and investigate reality, by carrying out experiments, by accumulating data, and so on; and then, proceeding from that reality and applying the methods and logic of rational thought, you struggle to identify the patterns in the data, etc., you've gathered about reality. If you're approaching it correctly, you are striving to arrive at a correct synthesis of the reality that you've investigated. And then you measure your conclusions against objective reality to determine if they are in correspondence with it, if what they sum up and predict about reality is confirmed in reality. That's the way breakthroughs in science have been made—whether it's in the realm of biology, like the understanding of evolution, or whether it's things about the origins of the universe (or the known universe), like the Big Bang theory, or whatever. That's the process that goes on, and the question is: is it scientific? That is, does it, in its main and essential lines, correspond to reality?

    And, particularly for people who are seeking to change the world—which, in fact, all scientists are in one way or another, but especially when you're seeking to change things in the political realm, when you're seeking to change society in a major way—then the question is not just does it correspond to reality, although that's fundamental, but can it actually lead to changing the world, and is it actually applied to changing the world? And then, in the process of that, is there more raw material gathered, so to speak, from which to learn more and to develop further your scientific understanding, about particular things and overall?

    So that's on the role of theory and line in general. The question, once again, is: Is it scientific—in the way that I just was discussing that, and not with some mystical notion about science, as something which only a small weird group of people called "scientists" could possibly understand. Now, just as an aside, not all scientists are weird, by any means. Some of them are weird, but a lot of them are weird in good ways, creative ways. But they're just human beings grappling with different aspects of reality. Now, in a sense, there is a "rarified quality" to any particular sphere, or any particular area, of science. It is necessary to immerse yourself in those spheres in order to actually learn about them. But they're not mysterious, they're not magical, they're not things people can't learn. Some people, for a combination of reasons, may have more aptitude for, or may more readily be able to deal with,  different dimensions of reality and understand that part of reality in a scientific way better than others. But there's nothing mystical or magical about this.

    Theory is an attempt to explain reality, and once again the question is: Is it scientific—does it correctly, in its main lines and in essential ways, reflect reality? Now, theory cannot be unchanging, because reality is constantly changing. That's one of the main features of reality. So theory has to continually develop, even when it's fundamentally correct. For example, despite what all these religious fundamentalists try to say by way of denial, the theory of evolution is not only well established, it's one of the most firmly and fundamentally established understandings of reality in all of science. Darwin made the initial breakthrough in synthesizing the theory of evolution—other people were coming to understand some aspects of evolution, but Darwin is the one who systematized and made a leap forward in terms of human beings' understanding of what evolution is all about, the evolution of life, including the evolution of human beings. Yet there are many things that Darwin did not understand. Now the religious fundamentalists always leap on that to say: "See, they're saying Darwin was wrong." No. This is the way any science develops. What Darwin discovered, or systematized, remains fundamentally true. But there are always new developments—for example, the field of genetics, and other things that didn't exist at the time that Darwin lived and systematized, synthesized the theory of evolution.3

    But that's what theory is—it's an attempt to explain reality. The question, and in an important sense the basic dividing line, is: does it correctly explain reality in its main features and along essential lines, or does it not? And then, how can it be applied to transform reality, and what is learned in the ongoing process of theory to practice and back to theory? Not just in a narrow sphere, in the sense of merely what can be learned from any particular activity, but in the broad sense, learning from all different fields of human activity. So, that's one thing on theory.

    _______________

    2. Bob Avakian, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist: A Memoir by Bob Avakian (Insight Press, Chicago, 2005) [back]

    3. Endnote by BA: For a thorough, lively and accessible exposition of the theory of evolution, exposure and refutation of "creationist" attacks on the theory and scientifically-established fact of evolution, discussion of decisive questions of outlook and method, and how all this relates to the struggle for the emancipation of the oppressed, and ultimately humanity as a whole, see Ardea Skybreak, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism—Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters (Insight Press, Chicago, 2006). [back]

  • ARTICLE:

    A Scientific Approach to Society, and Changing Society

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

    Editors’ Note: At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian (BA) was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks.  (This interview, with the title What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, is available at revcom.us.)

    Brooks—a younger-generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward—is the author of “God the Original Fascist,” a series of articles which appeared in Revolution in 2005, and is available at revcom.us (excerpts from these articles are quoted by Bob Avakian at the beginning of his book Away With All Gods!—Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008). We are republishing here sections of this interview which are highly relevant to the current situation—particularly as a critique of the all-too-common practice of lies, slander and unprincipled rumormongering that are part of the popular culture these days, including among people calling themselves “anarchist”... “left”... “progressive”... “woke.”

    In this interview, 10 years ago, BA called out this highly destructive way of avoiding principled struggle over differences—and, in opposition to this, emphasized the kinds of standards and methods that need to be applied in order to have principled and meaningful struggle over differences and arrive at a scientific understanding of what different ideologies and programs actually represent, and where they will actually lead.  We want to call attention especially to the section of this interview “The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need,” because of its particular and very direct relevance to what is happening today.

    What Humanity Needs - Cover

     

    What Humanity Needs, by Bob Avakian   

    BA continues: Some people think—and it's sometimes even argued, including mistakenly by some natural scientists—that there can't be a scientific approach to society. Now, why that would be, I don't know. Society consists of nothing but particular forms of matter in motion—in this case, people, interacting with each other and interacting with the rest of nature. Why should that realm be closed off to science any more than any other sphere of matter in motion that exists? Whether it's the planets, or whether it's microbes, bacteria, whatever it might be: all these things can be subjected to scientific analysis, and breakthroughs can be made in all these different areas, even while everything about any particular aspect of reality, let alone all of reality, will never be known by human beings, including because there's too much reality out there and because it's always changing, and because human capacities are limited in some ways, even with the technology that continually develops. But a great deal can be learned, and in many spheres the essential dynamics and the fundamental things about reality can be learned, can be systematized and synthesized.

    At the same time, some people believe that you can just go out and engage in politics, for example, without having a scientific approach, without the need for theory. But that's completely wrong. As soon as you actually try to change something in the political sphere—or at least as soon as you try to really change an important part of society—you run up against how complicated it is, and how much resistance you are gonna meet from the forces of the old order, which are going to move to maintain that order and to crush any resistance against it. So you're up against that, on the one hand, and then you're up against all the different contradictions that exist among the people, that become very complex at times—the pulls on people in different directions, and what are the spontaneous things people in different sections of society tend to gravitate toward, and why. It requires science, too, to understand all that. How can you actually overcome the divisions among people in the course of building the movement for revolution—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution? How can you actually take on the established, entrenched, and very powerful forces of the old order and defeat them? These questions require continual work—and they require science. They require the application of the scientific method, and not subjectivity—not falling into what you would like to be true—or not falling into just accepting what's conventional wisdom, or "what everybody knows," which is sometimes true, but is often wrong. "Everybody in the world knows that god exists"—well, not everybody, but the great majority of people "know" this. But it's wrong. The fact that "everybody knows it" doesn't make it any better—it makes it worse—because it's wrong. And we could cite many other examples.

    If you're being scientific, you don't go by "what everybody knows." You proceed by probing, investigating—and, yes, in the process changing—reality, and then systematizing what can be learned: what are the patterns; what is the essence of what you're learning; what ties things together; what differentiates some things from other things—for example, how is this plant different from that plant; how do these plants interact; how does this plant interact with that insect? All that kind of stuff is true in the "natural sciences." And it applies as well in the "social sciences," in the science of understanding and changing society, and the human beings—yes, including the outlook and values of the human beings—who make up society. This can be changed—and, in fact, changes continually. For example—and I see that this is something that's been brought out by other people in discussions—take a basic development like the introduction of the horse into the culture of many Native Americans: this completely changed their way of life, and their way of thinking. And that's just one of dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of examples that could be given, including in the modern world today.

  • ARTICLE:

    The Importance of Line... and of Polemics

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

    Editors’ Note: At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian (BA) was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks.  (This interview, with the title What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, is available at revcom.us.)

    Brooks—a younger-generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward—is the author of “God the Original Fascist,” a series of articles which appeared in Revolution in 2005, and is available at revcom.us (excerpts from these articles are quoted by Bob Avakian at the beginning of his book Away With All Gods!—Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008). We are republishing here sections of this interview which are highly relevant to the current situation—particularly as a critique of the all-too-common practice of lies, slander and unprincipled rumormongering that are part of the popular culture these days, including among people calling themselves “anarchist”... “left”... “progressive”... “woke.”

    In this interview, 10 years ago, BA called out this highly destructive way of avoiding principled struggle over differences—and, in opposition to this, emphasized the kinds of standards and methods that need to be applied in order to have principled and meaningful struggle over differences and arrive at a scientific understanding of what different ideologies and programs actually represent, and where they will actually lead.  We want to call attention especially to the section of this interview “The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need,” because of its particular and very direct relevance to what is happening today.

    What Humanity Needs - Cover

     

    What Humanity Needs, by Bob Avakian   

    BA continues: Now, on the question of line and polemics. Line is the application of a world outlook and method to reality. It's a probing of reality and the drawing together and synthesizing of the lessons that are learned from probing reality. Line can be either correct or incorrect. Line, to put it another way, is an expression of, first of all, your world outlook and your method, how you approach reality—and everybody does that with one outlook or another. Religion is a world outlook. The idea that everybody is out for themselves, and screw everybody else, is a world outlook.

    And there's also method. Is your method scientific, or is it something else? Is it subjective? Is it, for example: "Well, that may be true for you, but it's not true for me"? Let's go back to god again: "God may not exist for you, but god exists for me." No. Either god exists for everybody or there is no god. Or else your god is a very personal one, a matter of your personal feelings, so we can all ignore it, in terms of its being some kind of supernatural power or force. What people normally mean by god is not something that's merely personal to somebody—it's something that has a transcendental, a "larger than all the rest of reality" existence, which fundamentally and ultimately determines existence and how it goes, and what happens to people. So, that kind of relativist thing—"you have your truth, and I have my truth"—no. You may have your preferences, and I may have my preferences, but those are not the same thing as truth. Truth is a correct reflection of objective reality, at least in its main lines and its essential features.

    And so line is a reflection of world outlook and method, and then its application programmatically, so to speak—in other words, what you are setting out to do on the basis of, or flowing from, your world outlook and your methodology. Going back to the formulation I've used a number of times here: what is the problem in the world, and what is the solution? What is humanity up against—to invoke Richard Pryor, why are we in the situation we're in today—and is there anything that can be done to change it, and if so, how fundamentally can it be changed? That's the application of your world outlook and method to the problems of society, to the problems of human existence, if you will. So that's what line is.

    Now, people learn by having line—in particular a correct line, that is, a scientific and a fundamentally correct understanding of reality—brought to them, and then by taking that up, engaging, and struggling with it. Maybe pointing out some things that are wrong with it, even if it's essentially correct, but deeply engaging it. People also learn a tremendous amount—and this is where the role of polemics comes in—by seeing different lines in confrontation with each other. If individuals, or groups, have fundamentally opposed understandings of what the problem and what the solution is, then people can learn by engaging this, comparing and contrasting the opposing lines—particularly if things are on a high level, where you're really getting to the essence of things. Not focusing on minor details, and especially not on petty personal things (as all too often happens with the culture today, with all this tabloidism and rumor-mongering, and all that), but actually focusing on raising your sights up to the big questions: does this, in its main lines, correctly reflect reality, or does it not? When you see two opposing views, or lines, confronting each other, especially if this is done in a principled way—where people are actually going after the substance of what the other person or group says, and refuting it, or attempting to refute it—seeing that kind of confrontation enables people to learn in ways that they wouldn't otherwise learn. This is a critical element in people learning. Without that, people can be introduced to certain ideas; they can compare them to reality—and, yes, they can learn a great deal—but they can learn even more when, in addition to that, there is the confrontation of opposing views, and when there are polemics focusing on the essential aspects of those opposing views.

    If you understand that line is an application of a world outlook and method to actually saying what should be done—what is the problem and how do we go about changing that?—then you understand that line matters a tremendous amount. If the problem is that people are selfish, then the solution either lies in doing something to change that, or there is no solution, because you can't change it. Well, that would have big consequences. But, if the problem is the nature of the system—the fundamental relations of exploitation and oppression of this system, and the ideas that go along with that and reinforce that—and the way to change that is to uproot and abolish this system and transform those relations, and transform the thinking and outlook of the people, then that leads to a very different understanding of what should be done. So, it makes a tremendous difference.

    Lines, and contention between opposing lines, are not just some sort of sectarian squabbles—and they should not be reduced to sectarian squabbles, let alone to personal vendettas or personal grievances, but should be focused on the question of how do you go about understanding the world, what do you understand about the world, and what does that lead you to believe needs to be done. If things are joined on that level, and people are enabled to see what the differences are, and where the one and the other leads, then that provides a much richer basis for people who are serious—who really feel compelled to understand the world, and further to change it—to actually be able to sift through these things and come to a better understanding. Not all on their own, but through people engaging this with them and going through the process together with them of sorting this out and sifting through it.

  • ARTICLE:

    When People Are Falling Into Bullshit, They Should Be Told So: The Need for Sharp, and Principled, Struggle

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

    Editors’ Note: At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian (BA) was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks.  (This interview, with the title What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, is available at revcom.us.)

    Brooks—a younger-generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward—is the author of “God the Original Fascist,” a series of articles which appeared in Revolution in 2005, and is available at revcom.us (excerpts from these articles are quoted by Bob Avakian at the beginning of his book Away With All Gods!—Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008). We are republishing here sections of this interview which are highly relevant to the current situation—particularly as a critique of the all-too-common practice of lies, slander and unprincipled rumormongering that are part of the popular culture these days, including among people calling themselves “anarchist”... “left”... “progressive”... “woke.”

    In this interview, 10 years ago, BA called out this highly destructive way of avoiding principled struggle over differences—and, in opposition to this, emphasized the kinds of standards and methods that need to be applied in order to have principled and meaningful struggle over differences and arrive at a scientific understanding of what different ideologies and programs actually represent, and where they will actually lead.  We want to call attention especially to the section of this interview “The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need,” because of its particular and very direct relevance to what is happening today.

    What Humanity Needs - Cover

     

    What Humanity Needs, by Bob Avakian   

    Brooks: I know that, in terms of your own development into a revolutionary communist and in terms of your relation to other people in that process, the role of struggle has been really important—people struggling with you during your development, and then you, at different points, very sharply struggling with other people.

    BA: [Laughs] That is true. In my own development, there were people who struggled with me—some of them correctly, some of them incorrectly, some of them mainly correctly, and some of them mainly incorrectly. But all of that was part of the process of my learning—going through this process of really deeply grappling with these things because you understand it matters, it has real implications in terms of what's gonna happen to masses of people, not just yourself. You get into this—and the reason I laughed is because people did struggle, sometimes very sharply, with me. If you're going to get offended if things get sharp, and you respond to people struggling with you by thinking, "you're being oppressive because you're challenging my views strongly, and you're not giving me space to think," then you're not going to learn what you could learn. Now, we should have good methods with people, we shouldn't "jack people up" and shove them up against the wall, ideologically speaking. But there is a need and a role at times for very sharp struggle.

    When people are falling into bullshit, they should be told so. Now, that's not all you should say. You should show them why. You should give them the substance. You should explain to them what's wrong. But this idea that everything has to be all so super-polite—this goes along with the relativist notion that everybody's ideas should be considered equally valid. Well, no. It's not a question of the person, it's a question of the ideas. It's not that one person counts for less than another person, but it's a question of whether the ideas are correct or incorrect. If they're incorrect, and if they're doing harm, they need to be called out sharply. Not in a way that puts people down. Not in a way that's antagonistic toward them—unless what they represent is really, fundamentally antagonistic to the interests of the masses of people, and they're digging in their heels around that. But among the people, so to speak, wrong ideas should be struggled over. Where people are putting forward different notions that are really wrong, and they are digging in their heels around them, they should be struggled with sharply. And where people say things that they don't have a basis for saying, where they haven't really investigated, they need to be told: you don't know what you're talking about.

    Especially in this culture today, as I was referring to earlier, there is all this "tabloidism." You go on the Internet and there's all this nasty, low-level crap. People hide behind the pseudo anonymity of the Internet to attack people in low and vicious ways—not being at all principled, not lofting things up to the level they should be on. And, by the way, I say "pseudo anonymity" because the state can find out who you are any time they want to. Now, if you're not going up against the state, maybe you don't have to worry about that. But, for anybody who thinks they're really anonymous on the Internet—think again. You may be able to hide from other people for a while, but the state will certainly be able to find out who you are, if they want to, if you're all over the Internet. In any case, not to get too far afield on that, the point is: It does go back to that Mark Twain thing that I'm fond of quoting, because it's so applicable [Laughs]. He said: What you need to get along in America is the perfect combination of ignorance and arrogance. And there is way too much of that.

    Ignorance is one thing. Let's demystify that word. It just means you don't know. In and of itself, this word isn't an insult. "Stupid" is different: "stupid" implies you can't think, even if you are given information. But ignorant just means you don't know. There's nothing wrong with ignorance, in itself. But if you pass judgments based on ignorance, and you insist on things based on ignorance, that's where the Mark Twain point comes in: the combination of ignorance and arrogance—arrogance that is grounded in ignorance. "I haven't bothered to really find out what you stand for, but I know it's no good." That kind of thing is all too common in the culture these days—and that needs to be called out for what it is. Do some work. These things matter.

    If people are saying—either our Party or anybody else—that they believe they have an understanding of the fundamental problem humanity is up against and the solution to it; if we say that the problem is the capitalist-imperialist system, and the answer is communist revolution to bring into being an entirely different world without exploitation and oppression, without antagonistic conflicts among humanity or between humanity and the rest of nature; if people are saying that, that's obviously a very big deal. That's very serious. It matters a tremendous amount to the masses of humanity. If the people saying this are right, it's a very big deal; and if they're wrong, that is a very big deal. But your responsibility, if you're newly encountering this and you're ignorant about it—that is, you don't know because you have just encountered it—don't get sidetracked by what "everybody else" says about it. If you're serious—and this is serious—dig into it and learn about it. That's your responsibility.

    That's the responsibility we took, back in the day, when we confronted the truly big things that were going on in the world, back in the 1960s. Not just the people who became communists, but many more people broadly, had that kind of serious orientation. There was, in the '60s movement, a different culture, a better culture, than what prevails today. Not that there weren't opportunists—people who were underhanded and unprincipled, and people who were out for personal gain and attacked other people in ways that were unprincipled and harmful to the general movement. There was some of that, of course. As long as there are class distinctions, as long as there are divisions among people that are oppressive, and as long as there is the corresponding ideology, there will be that shit in the mix. But, let me put it this way: There was a very powerful thing that ran counter to that in the '60s, where people understood that things mattered tremendously to the people of the world. The Vietnam War was going on. Your government, if you were an American, was waging this horrific war—massacring people, burning down villages, dropping napalm on little children, bombing dams and flooding whole areas, killing literally millions of people over the decade of that war. And you felt a sense of responsibility to resist that, and to do what you could to stop it, by joining together with others in massive political resistance to it. And so there was a different kind of culture among the very broad numbers of people who were deeply alienated from and determined to stand up against not just certain policies, and not just around certain particular, and more limited, grievances, but against the whole system, or the whole "power structure," as it was often called, and the whole "ethos," the whole prevailing philosophy and culture, that went along with that.

    And there was a positive thing about communism in the mix. That raised people's sights also. Many people were drawn to that, instead of being bogged down in trying to figure out how we can make this system work in the interests of the people—which is impossible, and which, frankly, also ends up turning people against each other. If you are limited to the confines of this system, you will end up in conflict and competition with other individuals and with other sections of the people. You will be in competition in the attempt to get "your share," or to have the grievances of your particular identity group addressed, as opposed to that identity group, and so on. But, through the very broad and radical upsurge of the 1960s, people's sights were being lofted up. That's what we need to fight for now—and that is a fight.

    What is going to be the culture? What is going to be the morality? How are people going to approach the question of what different individuals and groups represent and where they would take things? Are they gonna do it on the basis of the lowest kind of shit that people can get dragged down to? Or, are they gonna do it on the basis of what people actually stand for, what they actually say is the problem, and the solution? Let's see that in confrontation with other ideas about what the problem and the solution is—let's dig into that, and struggle through to figure out what's really right and what's really wrong.

  • ARTICLE:

    The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need

    From What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

    Editors’ Note: At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian (BA) was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks.  (This interview, with the title What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, is available at revcom.us.)

    Brooks—a younger-generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward—is the author of “God the Original Fascist,” a series of articles which appeared in Revolution in 2005, and is available at revcom.us (excerpts from these articles are quoted by Bob Avakian at the beginning of his book Away With All Gods!—Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008). We are republishing here sections of this interview which are highly relevant to the current situation—particularly as a critique of the all-too-common practice of lies, slander and unprincipled rumormongering that are part of the popular culture these days, including among people calling themselves “anarchist”... “left”... “progressive”... “woke.”

    In this interview, 10 years ago, BA called out this highly destructive way of avoiding principled struggle over differences—and, in opposition to this, emphasized the kinds of standards and methods that need to be applied in order to have principled and meaningful struggle over differences and arrive at a scientific understanding of what different ideologies and programs actually represent, and where they will actually lead.  We want to call attention especially to the section of this interview “The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need,” because of its particular and very direct relevance to what is happening today.

    What Humanity Needs - Cover

     

    What Humanity Needs, by Bob Avakian   

    Brooks: What do you think is the responsibility—particularly of revolutionary forces but, even more broadly, of anybody who's serious about or even questioning about whether the world could be different? Isn't there the responsibility of setting whole new standards and taking on this vicious culture of gossip and slander, setting the standards that you're talking about, where people are proceeding from what it's actually gonna take to change the world? How do you see people's responsibility in terms of that?

    BA: Well, again, people have to fight to make the focus of things: what is the way we're gonna actually understand the world and change the world? If that's what we're setting out to do, if that's what we really wanna do, then we're gonna proceed from the need to get a real understanding of what it is that different people and groups actually are for and where it would actually lead. What is their line, and what are the implications and the consequences if that line is carried out and if people are mobilized around that line, as opposed to another one? And it is a fight to make that the focus.

    There's also a fight to have the standard be: That other stuff—that "tabloidism," that low-life gossiping, slander and rumor-mongering, the personal backbiting, and the rest of that—we don't want that, that doesn't go here. We're about something serious here, we're about trying to make a new world, and that other stuff is part of the old world we need to get rid of. If you have a criticism of somebody, let's raise it up to the level of things that really matter.

    And, along with that, let's raise it up to a level where people, beyond just the parties in conflict, can figure things out. If I say, "you punched me, and anyway you're an asshole": for people who were not there, who are not directly involved, how are they gonna sort that out? And is that really where their attention should be focused? You could go around and around and, first of all, you might never sort it out. Second of all, and even more fundamentally, it's not what people's attention should be focused on. If we have political differences, we're not gonna resolve them—and people are not gonna be able to know what's right and wrong—by descending down to that level.

    It will also not get things onto the level where they need to be—but will actually drag them down and away from what needs to be focused on—if, when an individual or group forthrightly puts forwards its views and aims, instead of responding to the substance of this, it is "answered" by accusing them of arrogance for putting this forward, or trying to dismiss them as a "cult," or demanding: "Who are you to say that you know what the problem is and what should be done?" Instead, the focus needs to be on: What does this person or group stand for, and what does that other person or group stand for—and which one, if either of them, really is in correspondence with reality and with the interests of humanity, and which is not? Or, which ones go part way and then turn back, and which ones can actually break through and go where we need to go?

    People need to be insisting that those are the questions that should be focused on. And there's a related and important point of method. In contrasting opposing views, in polemics, what should the approach be? For example, we wrote a long polemic against Alain Badiou's political philosophy, his so-called politics of emancipation—which is really just the politics of staying within the world as it is, confined within the bourgeois world. When I say "we wrote," I am referring to the polemic written in Demarcations, an online theoretical journal which puts forward the perspectives of our Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party.4 The people who wrote that polemic worked very hard on it. They read a lot of what Badiou has to say, and they applied the method of taking on the best arguments that Badiou himself makes about what he sees as the essence of things, as opposed to taking cheap shots. If you read that polemic, you'll see that it's not taking on all of his philosophy, but it's taking on his political philosophy and his political orientation, and it goes deeply into what he has to say about that, and shows why it's wrong—in a way that people who are serious can actually get inside of and get an understanding of—as opposed to taking cheap shots, chopping up things that people say, misrepresenting them in so doing, and so on. Rather than that, let's really examine what somebody has to say, in the best representation that they themselves can make of what they're arguing for, and then let's examine whether it's right or wrong, and whose interests it actually serves. Those are the standards that people should be striving for—and insisting upon.

    Also, people should understand that not only does gossip and rumor-mongering, personal backbiting, "personal grievance narratives," and all the rest of that, do a lot of harm in terms of dragging people's attention down toward the gutter, and keeping people from focusing on the big questions that really make a difference in terms of whether the world's gonna stay the way it is, or whether it's gonna be radically changed and how; but it also greatly aids the repressive forces of the present system. It provides a lot of fuel for them, and it creates an atmosphere in which they can actually send in agents, and make use of this whole atmosphere to stir up a lot of shit between people.

    There has been a lot of bitter experience with this. For example, there were political differences that developed within the Black Panther Party at a certain point, particularly at the end of the 1960s and into the early '70s. There was a division where people were grouped around Huey Newton on the one hand, and Eldridge Cleaver on the other. They had big differences. But, all too often, instead of those differences being struggled out on the high plane of what is this one saying about the problem that the revolution is facing, what's the other one saying—and which one is right, or are they both partly right and partly wrong, or are they both wrong?—instead of that being what people focused on, a lot of personal shit got thrown into the game, and personal attacks were made. This created an atmosphere in which the political police—the FBI, the repressive forces of the state—could thrive. They could get people at each other's throats, and sometimes they could even get people to go at each other physically, attack each other, while the state could say: "Look, it's not us, they're just fighting each other—that shows you these revolutionaries are no good, they're fighting each other."

    So this kind of atmosphere not only leads away from a correct understanding of things and interferes with the ability to get to the essence of things, but it also demoralizes the masses of the people whose hopes have been raised that there can be a radical change for the better, while it creates an atmosphere in which the forces of the present order, which are not only oppressive but are literally murderous, can have more favorable conditions in which to operate. And I'm not engaging in any exaggeration or hyperbole—they're murderous on a massive scale. If you don't think so, look into it, and see what they've done throughout the world, as well as within the U.S. itself. There are literally millions upon millions of people that they've murdered or enslaved, or driven off their land and herded into concentration camps, in what's now the U.S. itself, as well as in every other part of the world.

    This is what we're up against. And to feed an atmosphere where things are on a low, petty and nasty level—giving vent to personal grievances or personal narratives, rather than focusing on the big questions—this can only aid those truly murderous forces of the repressive state, whether people intend to do that or not. Some people may be consciously doing this, consciously seeking to aid the state—either they themselves are agents of the state, or they've become so thoroughly corrupted by their own narrow outlook, that they are willing to actually do things that they know will aid the state—or they're doing it unknowingly, but it has the same effect.

    So there has to be a fight. People have to say: No, let's raise our sights. This is not the level things should be fought out on. This is not the level where criticism and struggle should be carried out. And, furthermore, this is not the way we're gonna sort out what's right and wrong. If things get down to the level of these personal narratives and backbiting, then those who are not directly involved are very unlikely to be able to arrive at a correct understanding of what happened. But you can sort out what different people stand for, what they say the problem is and what the solution is. That's where people's attention has to be focused. And there has to be an insistence: No, we are not gonna sink down into that gutter, and we're not gonna play into the hands of the enemy, of this ruling class that is literally a world class bunch of murderous gangsters—and, again, I say that without any exaggeration or hyperbole—we're not gonna play into their hands by keeping things on that level. And we are gonna struggle in the culture at large to tell people: Let's get out of that cesspool, and let's get up here into the realm of the future of humanity; and over that, yes, let's have lots of very sharp, but principled struggle—about the substance of what humanity's up against and the substance of what we need to do about it.

    _______________

    4. Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya and K.J.A., "Alain Badiou's 'Politics of Emancipation': A Communism Locked within the Confines of the Bourgeois World," Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 1, Summer-Fall 2009, demarcations-journal.org. The next (second) issue of Demarcations is scheduled to be published in Summer, 2012. [back]

  • ARTICLE:

    Excerpts from:

    What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, An Interview with Bob Avakian

    Editors’ Note: At the beginning of 2012, an in-depth interview with Bob Avakian (BA) was conducted over a period of several days by A. Brooks.  (This interview, with the title What Humanity Needs: Revolution, and the New Synthesis of Communism, is available at revcom.us.)

    Brooks—a younger-generation revolutionary who has been inspired by the leadership and body of work of Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism this has brought forward—is the author of “God The Original Fascist,” a series of articles which appeared in Revolution in 2005, and is available at revcom.us (excerpts from these articles are quoted by Bob Avakian at the beginning of his book Away With All Gods!—Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, 2008). We are republishing here sections of this interview which are highly relevant to the current situation—particularly as a critique of the all-too-common practice of lies, slander and unprincipled rumormongering that are part of the popular culture these days, including among people calling themselves “anarchist”... “left”... “progressive”... “woke.”

    In this interview, 10 years ago, BA called out this highly destructive way of avoiding principled struggle over differences—and, in opposition to this, emphasized the kinds of standards and methods that need to be applied in order to have principled and meaningful struggle over differences and arrive at a scientific understanding of what different ideologies and programs actually represent, and where they will actually lead.  We want to call attention especially to the section of this interview “The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need,” because of its particular and very direct relevance to what is happening today.

    What Humanity Needs - Cover

     

    What Humanity Needs, by Bob Avakian   

    Theory and Reality... Knowing and Changing the World

    Brooks: Well, carrying forward with some of what you were just talking about, I wanted to get a little bit more into this point about the importance of theory and line, including because I think this is sometimes something that the younger generation doesn't give enough weight to. I mean, obviously, it's not just the younger generation. But, when I was re-reading your memoir,2 one thing that came through is that in the height of the '60s there were all kinds of different lines and programs out there, all different kinds of understandings that were being put forward about the problem and the solution. I know that you speak a lot in that memoir to the importance of theory and line, in terms of navigating through all that, and it is clear that there was importance to polemics, in taking on incorrect lines. It seems like that becomes all the more important when things are sharpening up and a lot of people are becoming politically awake and trying to figure out what the problem and solution is.

    So, I wondered if, in relation to these times right now, when there is all this stuff going on in the world and people are kind of raising their heads—and, as the RCP's statement "On the Strategy for Revolution" puts it, questioning and resisting what they usually accept—how you see the importance of line and theory, and polemics, in that context.

    BA: Well, theory is important in an overall, overarching sense, and is important in an ongoing way. Theory is what leads to an understanding, in one way or another, of reality, or parts of reality. And the question always is: Is the theory, in the broadest sense, and in the deepest sense, a correct reflection of reality, or is it not? You know, everybody has theories. Even the "man and woman in the street" have theories about all kinds of things. And then other people who are intellectuals, more full-time, you might say—people who work with ideas in a more continual way—have more developed theories about a lot of different things, theories as applied to particular things or as applied to the world, nature, existence in general. So, the question is not: is there gonna be theory or no theory? The question is: what kind of theory, and does the theory, in its main lines—not in every detail, but in its main lines, and in essential ways—really correspond to reality? Another way to say this: is it scientific?

    Let's not mystify science. Science means that you probe and investigate reality, by carrying out experiments, by accumulating data, and so on; and then, proceeding from that reality and applying the methods and logic of rational thought, you struggle to identify the patterns in the data, etc., you've gathered about reality. If you're approaching it correctly, you are striving to arrive at a correct synthesis of the reality that you've investigated. And then you measure your conclusions against objective reality to determine if they are in correspondence with it, if what they sum up and predict about reality is confirmed in reality. That's the way breakthroughs in science have been made—whether it's in the realm of biology, like the understanding of evolution, or whether it's things about the origins of the universe (or the known universe), like the Big Bang theory, or whatever. That's the process that goes on, and the question is: is it scientific? That is, does it, in its main and essential lines, correspond to reality?

    And, particularly for people who are seeking to change the world—which, in fact, all scientists are in one way or another, but especially when you're seeking to change things in the political realm, when you're seeking to change society in a major way—then the question is not just does it correspond to reality, although that's fundamental, but can it actually lead to changing the world, and is it actually applied to changing the world? And then, in the process of that, is there more raw material gathered, so to speak, from which to learn more and to develop further your scientific understanding, about particular things and overall?

    So that's on the role of theory and line in general. The question, once again, is: Is it scientific—in the way that I just was discussing that, and not with some mystical notion about science, as something which only a small weird group of people called "scientists" could possibly understand. Now, just as an aside, not all scientists are weird, by any means. Some of them are weird, but a lot of them are weird in good ways, creative ways. But they're just human beings grappling with different aspects of reality. Now, in a sense, there is a "rarified quality" to any particular sphere, or any particular area, of science. It is necessary to immerse yourself in those spheres in order to actually learn about them. But they're not mysterious, they're not magical, they're not things people can't learn. Some people, for a combination of reasons, may have more aptitude for, or may more readily be able to deal with, different dimensions of reality and understand that part of reality in a scientific way better than others. But there's nothing mystical or magical about this.

    Theory is an attempt to explain reality, and once again the question is: Is it scientific—does it correctly, in its main lines and in essential ways, reflect reality? Now, theory cannot be unchanging, because reality is constantly changing. That's one of the main features of reality. So theory has to continually develop, even when it's fundamentally correct. For example, despite what all these religious fundamentalists try to say by way of denial, the theory of evolution is not only well established, it's one of the most firmly and fundamentally established understandings of reality in all of science. Darwin made the initial breakthrough in synthesizing the theory of evolution—other people were coming to understand some aspects of evolution, but Darwin is the one who systematized and made a leap forward in terms of human beings' understanding of what evolution is all about, the evolution of life, including the evolution of human beings. Yet there are many things that Darwin did not understand. Now the religious fundamentalists always leap on that to say: "See, they're saying Darwin was wrong." No. This is the way any science develops. What Darwin discovered, or systematized, remains fundamentally true. But there are always new developments—for example, the field of genetics, and other things that didn't exist at the time that Darwin lived and systematized, synthesized the theory of evolution.3

    But that's what theory is—it's an attempt to explain reality. The question, and in an important sense the basic dividing line, is: does it correctly explain reality in its main features and along essential lines, or does it not? And then, how can it be applied to transform reality, and what is learned in the ongoing process of theory to practice and back to theory? Not just in a narrow sphere, in the sense of merely what can be learned from any particular activity, but in the broad sense, learning from all different fields of human activity. So, that's one thing on theory.

    A Scientific Approach to Society, and Changing Society

    BA continues: Some people think—and it's sometimes even argued, including mistakenly by some natural scientists—that there can't be a scientific approach to society. Now, why that would be, I don't know. Society consists of nothing but particular forms of matter in motion—in this case, people, interacting with each other and interacting with the rest of nature. Why should that realm be closed off to science any more than any other sphere of matter in motion that exists? Whether it's the planets, or whether it's microbes, bacteria, whatever it might be: all these things can be subjected to scientific analysis, and breakthroughs can be made in all these different areas, even while everything about any particular aspect of reality, let alone all of reality, will never be known by human beings, including because there's too much reality out there and because it's always changing, and because human capacities are limited in some ways, even with the technology that continually develops. But a great deal can be learned, and in many spheres the essential dynamics and the fundamental things about reality can be learned, can be systematized and synthesized.

    At the same time, some people believe that you can just go out and engage in politics, for example, without having a scientific approach, without the need for theory. But that's completely wrong. As soon as you actually try to change something in the political sphere—or at least as soon as you try to really change an important part of society—you run up against how complicated it is, and how much resistance you are gonna meet from the forces of the old order, which are going to move to maintain that order and to crush any resistance against it. So you're up against that, on the one hand, and then you're up against all the different contradictions that exist among the people, that become very complex at times—the pulls on people in different directions, and what are the spontaneous things people in different sections of society tend to gravitate toward, and why. It requires science, too, to understand all that. How can you actually overcome the divisions among people in the course of building the movement for revolution—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution? How can you actually take on the established, entrenched, and very powerful forces of the old order and defeat them? These questions require continual work—and they require science. They require the application of the scientific method, and not subjectivity—not falling into what you would like to be true—or not falling into just accepting what's conventional wisdom, or "what everybody knows," which is sometimes true, but is often wrong. "Everybody in the world knows that god exists"—well, not everybody, but the great majority of people "know" this. But it's wrong. The fact that "everybody knows it" doesn't make it any better—it makes it worse—because it's wrong. And we could cite many other examples.

    If you're being scientific, you don't go by "what everybody knows." You proceed by probing, investigating—and, yes, in the process changing—reality, and then systematizing what can be learned: what are the patterns; what is the essence of what you're learning; what ties things together; what differentiates some things from other things—for example, how is this plant different from that plant; how do these plants interact; how does this plant interact with that insect? All that kind of stuff is true in the "natural sciences." And it applies as well in the "social sciences," in the science of understanding and changing society, and the human beings—yes, including the outlook and values of the human beings—who make up society. This can be changed—and, in fact, changes continually. For example—and I see that this is something that's been brought out by other people in discussions—take a basic development like the introduction of the horse into the culture of many Native Americans: this completely changed their way of life, and their way of thinking. And that's just one of dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of examples that could be given, including in the modern world today.

    The Importance of Line... and of Polemics

    BA continues: Now, on the question of line and polemics. Line is the application of a world outlook and method to reality. It's a probing of reality and the drawing together and synthesizing of the lessons that are learned from probing reality. Line can be either correct or incorrect. Line, to put it another way, is an expression of, first of all, your world outlook and your method, how you approach reality—and everybody does that with one outlook or another. Religion is a world outlook. The idea that everybody is out for themselves, and screw everybody else, is a world outlook.

    And there's also method. Is your method scientific, or is it something else? Is it subjective? Is it, for example: "Well, that may be true for you, but it's not true for me"? Let's go back to god again: "God may not exist for you, but god exists for me." No. Either god exists for everybody or there is no god. Or else your god is a very personal one, a matter of your personal feelings, so we can all ignore it, in terms of its being some kind of supernatural power or force. What people normally mean by god is not something that's merely personal to somebody—it's something that has a transcendental, a "larger than all the rest of reality" existence, which fundamentally and ultimately determines existence and how it goes, and what happens to people. So, that kind of relativist thing—"you have your truth, and I have my truth"—no. You may have your preferences, and I may have my preferences, but those are not the same thing as truth. Truth is a correct reflection of objective reality, at least in its main lines and its essential features.

    And so line is a reflection of world outlook and method, and then its application programmatically, so to speak—in other words, what you are setting out to do on the basis of, or flowing from, your world outlook and your methodology. Going back to the formulation I've used a number of times here: what is the problem in the world, and what is the solution? What is humanity up against—to invoke Richard Pryor, why are we in the situation we're in today—and is there anything that can be done to change it, and if so, how fundamentally can it be changed? That's the application of your world outlook and method to the problems of society, to the problems of human existence, if you will. So that's what line is.

    Now, people learn by having line—in particular a correct line, that is, a scientific and a fundamentally correct understanding of reality—brought to them, and then by taking that up, engaging, and struggling with it. Maybe pointing out some things that are wrong with it, even if it's essentially correct, but deeply engaging it. People also learn a tremendous amount—and this is where the role of polemics comes in—by seeing different lines in confrontation with each other. If individuals, or groups, have fundamentally opposed understandings of what the problem and what the solution is, then people can learn by engaging this, comparing and contrasting the opposing lines—particularly if things are on a high level, where you're really getting to the essence of things. Not focusing on minor details, and especially not on petty personal things (as all too often happens with the culture today, with all this tabloidism and rumor-mongering, and all that), but actually focusing on raising your sights up to the big questions: does this, in its main lines, correctly reflect reality, or does it not? When you see two opposing views, or lines, confronting each other, especially if this is done in a principled way—where people are actually going after the substance of what the other person or group says, and refuting it, or attempting to refute it—seeing that kind of confrontation enables people to learn in ways that they wouldn't otherwise learn. This is a critical element in people learning. Without that, people can be introduced to certain ideas; they can compare them to reality—and, yes, they can learn a great deal—but they can learn even more when, in addition to that, there is the confrontation of opposing views, and when there are polemics focusing on the essential aspects of those opposing views.

    If you understand that line is an application of a world outlook and method to actually saying what should be done—what is the problem and how do we go about changing that?—then you understand that line matters a tremendous amount. If the problem is that people are selfish, then the solution either lies in doing something to change that, or there is no solution, because you can't change it. Well, that would have big consequences. But, if the problem is the nature of the system—the fundamental relations of exploitation and oppression of this system, and the ideas that go along with that and reinforce that—and the way to change that is to uproot and abolish this system and transform those relations, and transform the thinking and outlook of the people, then that leads to a very different understanding of what should be done. So, it makes a tremendous difference.

    Lines, and contention between opposing lines, are not just some sort of sectarian squabbles—and they should not be reduced to sectarian squabbles, let alone to personal vendettas or personal grievances, but should be focused on the question of how do you go about understanding the world, what do you understand about the world, and what does that lead you to believe needs to be done. If things are joined on that level, and people are enabled to see what the differences are, and where the one and the other leads, then that provides a much richer basis for people who are serious—who really feel compelled to understand the world, and further to change it—to actually be able to sift through these things and come to a better understanding. Not all on their own, but through people engaging this with them and going through the process together with them of sorting this out and sifting through it.

    When People Are Falling Into Bullshit, They Should Be Told So: The Need for Sharp, and Principled, Struggle

    Brooks: I know that, in terms of your own development into a revolutionary communist and in terms of your relation to other people in that process, the role of struggle has been really important—people struggling with you during your development, and then you, at different points, very sharply struggling with other people.

    BA: [Laughs] That is true. In my own development, there were people who struggled with me—some of them correctly, some of them incorrectly, some of them mainly correctly, and some of them mainly incorrectly. But all of that was part of the process of my learning—going through this process of really deeply grappling with these things because you understand it matters, it has real implications in terms of what's gonna happen to masses of people, not just yourself. You get into this—and the reason I laughed is because people did struggle, sometimes very sharply, with me. If you're going to get offended if things get sharp, and you respond to people struggling with you by thinking, "you're being oppressive because you're challenging my views strongly, and you're not giving me space to think," then you're not going to learn what you could learn. Now, we should have good methods with people, we shouldn't "jack people up" and shove them up against the wall, ideologically speaking. But there is a need and a role at times for very sharp struggle.

    When people are falling into bullshit, they should be told so. Now, that's not all you should say. You should show them why. You should give them the substance. You should explain to them what's wrong. But this idea that everything has to be all so super-polite—this goes along with the relativist notion that everybody's ideas should be considered equally valid. Well, no. It's not a question of the person, it's a question of the ideas. It's not that one person counts for less than another person, but it's a question of whether the ideas are correct or incorrect. If they're incorrect, and if they're doing harm, they need to be called out sharply. Not in a way that puts people down. Not in a way that's antagonistic toward them—unless what they represent is really, fundamentally antagonistic to the interests of the masses of people, and they're digging in their heels around that. But among the people, so to speak, wrong ideas should be struggled over. Where people are putting forward different notions that are really wrong, and they are digging in their heels around them, they should be struggled with sharply. And where people say things that they don't have a basis for saying, where they haven't really investigated, they need to be told: you don't know what you're talking about.

    Especially in this culture today, as I was referring to earlier, there is all this "tabloidism." You go on the Internet and there's all this nasty, low-level crap. People hide behind the pseudo anonymity of the Internet to attack people in low and vicious ways—not being at all principled, not lofting things up to the level they should be on. And, by the way, I say "pseudo anonymity" because the state can find out who you are any time they want to. Now, if you're not going up against the state, maybe you don't have to worry about that. But, for anybody who thinks they're really anonymous on the Internet—think again. You may be able to hide from other people for a while, but the state will certainly be able to find out who you are, if they want to, if you're all over the Internet. In any case, not to get too far afield on that, the point is: It does go back to that Mark Twain thing that I'm fond of quoting, because it's so applicable [Laughs]. He said: What you need to get along in America is the perfect combination of ignorance and arrogance. And there is way too much of that.

    Ignorance is one thing. Let's demystify that word. It just means you don't know. In and of itself, this word isn't an insult. "Stupid" is different: "stupid" implies you can't think, even if you are given information. But ignorant just means you don't know. There's nothing wrong with ignorance, in itself. But if you pass judgments based on ignorance, and you insist on things based on ignorance, that's where the Mark Twain point comes in: the combination of ignorance and arrogance—arrogance that is grounded in ignorance. "I haven't bothered to really find out what you stand for, but I know it's no good." That kind of thing is all too common in the culture these days—and that needs to be called out for what it is. Do some work. These things matter.

    If people are saying—either our Party or anybody else—that they believe they have an understanding of the fundamental problem humanity is up against and the solution to it; if we say that the problem is the capitalist-imperialist system, and the answer is communist revolution to bring into being an entirely different world without exploitation and oppression, without antagonistic conflicts among humanity or between humanity and the rest of nature; if people are saying that, that's obviously a very big deal. That's very serious. It matters a tremendous amount to the masses of humanity. If the people saying this are right, it's a very big deal; and if they're wrong, that is a very big deal. But your responsibility, if you're newly encountering this and you're ignorant about it—that is, you don't know because you have just encountered it—don't get sidetracked by what "everybody else" says about it. If you're serious—and this is serious—dig into it and learn about it. That's your responsibility.

    That's the responsibility we took, back in the day, when we confronted the truly big things that were going on in the world, back in the 1960s. Not just the people who became communists, but many more people broadly, had that kind of serious orientation. There was, in the '60s movement, a different culture, a better culture, than what prevails today. Not that there weren't opportunists—people who were underhanded and unprincipled, and people who were out for personal gain and attacked other people in ways that were unprincipled and harmful to the general movement. There was some of that, of course. As long as there are class distinctions, as long as there are divisions among people that are oppressive, and as long as there is the corresponding ideology, there will be that shit in the mix. But, let me put it this way: There was a very powerful thing that ran counter to that in the '60s, where people understood that things mattered tremendously to the people of the world. The Vietnam War was going on. Your government, if you were an American, was waging this horrific war—massacring people, burning down villages, dropping napalm on little children, bombing dams and flooding whole areas, killing literally millions of people over the decade of that war. And you felt a sense of responsibility to resist that, and to do what you could to stop it, by joining together with others in massive political resistance to it. And so there was a different kind of culture among the very broad numbers of people who were deeply alienated from and determined to stand up against not just certain policies, and not just around certain particular, and more limited, grievances, but against the whole system, or the whole "power structure," as it was often called, and the whole "ethos," the whole prevailing philosophy and culture, that went along with that.

    And there was a positive thing about communism in the mix. That raised people's sights also. Many people were drawn to that, instead of being bogged down in trying to figure out how we can make this system work in the interests of the people—which is impossible, and which, frankly, also ends up turning people against each other. If you are limited to the confines of this system, you will end up in conflict and competition with other individuals and with other sections of the people. You will be in competition in the attempt to get "your share," or to have the grievances of your particular identity group addressed, as opposed to that identity group, and so on. But, through the very broad and radical upsurge of the 1960s, people's sights were being lofted up. That's what we need to fight for now—and that is a fight.

    What is going to be the culture? What is going to be the morality? How are people going to approach the question of what different individuals and groups represent and where they would take things? Are they gonna do it on the basis of the lowest kind of shit that people can get dragged down to? Or, are they gonna do it on the basis of what people actually stand for, what they actually say is the problem, and the solution? Let's see that in confrontation with other ideas about what the problem and the solution is—let's dig into that, and struggle through to figure out what's really right and what's really wrong.

    The Culture, the Principles, the Standards We Need

    Brooks: What do you think is the responsibility—particularly of revolutionary forces but, even more broadly, of anybody who's serious about or even questioning about whether the world could be different? Isn't there the responsibility of setting whole new standards and taking on this vicious culture of gossip and slander, setting the standards that you're talking about, where people are proceeding from what it's actually gonna take to change the world? How do you see people's responsibility in terms of that?

    BA: Well, again, people have to fight to make the focus of things: what is the way we're gonna actually understand the world and change the world? If that's what we're setting out to do, if that's what we really wanna do, then we're gonna proceed from the need to get a real understanding of what it is that different people and groups actually are for and where it would actually lead. What is their line, and what are the implications and the consequences if that line is carried out and if people are mobilized around that line, as opposed to another one? And it is a fight to make that the focus.

    There's also a fight to have the standard be: That other stuff—that "tabloidism," that low-life gossiping, slander and rumor-mongering, the personal backbiting, and the rest of that—we don't want that, that doesn't go here. We're about something serious here, we're about trying to make a new world, and that other stuff is part of the old world we need to get rid of. If you have a criticism of somebody, let's raise it up to the level of things that really matter.

    And, along with that, let's raise it up to a level where people, beyond just the parties in conflict, can figure things out. If I say, "you punched me, and anyway you're an asshole": for people who were not there, who are not directly involved, how are they gonna sort that out? And is that really where their attention should be focused? You could go around and around and, first of all, you might never sort it out. Second of all, and even more fundamentally, it's not what people's attention should be focused on. If we have political differences, we're not gonna resolve them—and people are not gonna be able to know what's right and wrong—by descending down to that level.

    It will also not get things onto the level where they need to be—but will actually drag them down and away from what needs to be focused on—if, when an individual or group forthrightly puts forwards its views and aims, instead of responding to the substance of this, it is "answered" by accusing them of arrogance for putting this forward, or trying to dismiss them as a "cult," or demanding: "Who are you to say that you know what the problem is and what should be done?" Instead, the focus needs to be on: What does this person or group stand for, and what does that other person or group stand for—and which one, if either of them, really is in correspondence with reality and with the interests of humanity, and which is not? Or, which ones go part way and then turn back, and which ones can actually break through and go where we need to go?

    People need to be insisting that those are the questions that should be focused on. And there's a related and important point of method. In contrasting opposing views, in polemics, what should the approach be? For example, we wrote a long polemic against Alain Badiou's political philosophy, his so-called politics of emancipation—which is really just the politics of staying within the world as it is, confined within the bourgeois world. When I say "we wrote," I am referring to the polemic written in Demarcations, an online theoretical journal which puts forward the perspectives of our Party, the Revolutionary Communist Party.4 The people who wrote that polemic worked very hard on it. They read a lot of what Badiou has to say, and they applied the method of taking on the best arguments that Badiou himself makes about what he sees as the essence of things, as opposed to taking cheap shots. If you read that polemic, you'll see that it's not taking on all of his philosophy, but it's taking on his political philosophy and his political orientation, and it goes deeply into what he has to say about that, and shows why it's wrong—in a way that people who are serious can actually get inside of and get an understanding of—as opposed to taking cheap shots, chopping up things that people say, misrepresenting them in so doing, and so on. Rather than that, let's really examine what somebody has to say, in the best representation that they themselves can make of what they're arguing for, and then let's examine whether it's right or wrong, and whose interests it actually serves. Those are the standards that people should be striving for—and insisting upon.

    Also, people should understand that not only does gossip and rumor-mongering, personal backbiting, "personal grievance narratives," and all the rest of that, do a lot of harm in terms of dragging people's attention down toward the gutter, and keeping people from focusing on the big questions that really make a difference in terms of whether the world's gonna stay the way it is, or whether it's gonna be radically changed and how; but it also greatly aids the repressive forces of the present system. It provides a lot of fuel for them, and it creates an atmosphere in which they can actually send in agents, and make use of this whole atmosphere to stir up a lot of shit between people.

    There has been a lot of bitter experience with this. For example, there were political differences that developed within the Black Panther Party at a certain point, particularly at the end of the 1960s and into the early '70s. There was a division where people were grouped around Huey Newton on the one hand, and Eldridge Cleaver on the other. They had big differences. But, all too often, instead of those differences being struggled out on the high plane of what is this one saying about the problem that the revolution is facing, what's the other one saying—and which one is right, or are they both partly right and partly wrong, or are they both wrong?—instead of that being what people focused on, a lot of personal shit got thrown into the game, and personal attacks were made. This created an atmosphere in which the political police—the FBI, the repressive forces of the state—could thrive. They could get people at each other's throats, and sometimes they could even get people to go at each other physically, attack each other, while the state could say: "Look, it's not us, they're just fighting each other—that shows you these revolutionaries are no good, they're fighting each other."

    So this kind of atmosphere not only leads away from a correct understanding of things and interferes with the ability to get to the essence of things, but it also demoralizes the masses of the people whose hopes have been raised that there can be a radical change for the better, while it creates an atmosphere in which the forces of the present order, which are not only oppressive but are literally murderous, can have more favorable conditions in which to operate. And I'm not engaging in any exaggeration or hyperbole—they're murderous on a massive scale. If you don't think so, look into it, and see what they've done throughout the world, as well as within the U.S. itself. There are literally millions upon millions of people that they've murdered or enslaved, or driven off their land and herded into concentration camps, in what's now the U.S. itself, as well as in every other part of the world.

    This is what we're up against. And to feed an atmosphere where things are on a low, petty and nasty level—giving vent to personal grievances or personal narratives, rather than focusing on the big questions—this can only aid those truly murderous forces of the repressive state, whether people intend to do that or not. Some people may be consciously doing this, consciously seeking to aid the state—either they themselves are agents of the state, or they've become so thoroughly corrupted by their own narrow outlook, that they are willing to actually do things that they know will aid the state—or they're doing it unknowingly, but it has the same effect.

    So there has to be a fight. People have to say: No, let's raise our sights. This is not the level things should be fought out on. This is not the level where criticism and struggle should be carried out. And, furthermore, this is not the way we're gonna sort out what's right and wrong. If things get down to the level of these personal narratives and backbiting, then those who are not directly involved are very unlikely to be able to arrive at a correct understanding of what happened. But you can sort out what different people stand for, what they say the problem is and what the solution is. That's where people's attention has to be focused. And there has to be an insistence: No, we are not gonna sink down into that gutter, and we're not gonna play into the hands of the enemy, of this ruling class that is literally a world class bunch of murderous gangsters—and, again, I say that without any exaggeration or hyperbole—we're not gonna play into their hands by keeping things on that level. And we are gonna struggle in the culture at large to tell people: Let's get out of that cesspool, and let's get up here into the realm of the future of humanity; and over that, yes, let's have lots of very sharp, but principled struggle—about the substance of what humanity's up against and the substance of what we need to do about it.

    _______________

    2. Bob Avakian, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist: A Memoir by Bob Avakian (Insight Press, Chicago, 2005) [back]

    3. Endnote by BA: For a thorough, lively and accessible exposition of the theory of evolution, exposure and refutation of "creationist" attacks on the theory and scientifically-established fact of evolution, discussion of decisive questions of outlook and method, and how all this relates to the struggle for the emancipation of the oppressed, and ultimately humanity as a whole, see Ardea Skybreak, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism—Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters (Insight Press, Chicago, 2006). [back]

    4. Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya and K.J.A., "Alain Badiou's 'Politics of Emancipation': A Communism Locked within the Confines of the Bourgeois World," Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 1, Summer-Fall 2009, demarcations-journal.org. The next (second) issue of Demarcations is scheduled to be published in Summer, 2012. [back]

  • ARTICLE:

    People speak out

    Statements in Reply to Attacks on Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and the Dangerous Distortions and Slanders against Bob Avakian and the Revcoms

    This Week: " ... they go after Bob Avakian because he is telling people what is behind the curtain" ...

    Updated

    Editor's Note:  The following are statements that were either given to Revcoms or sent to this site, or sent to RiseUp4AbortionRights which gave us permission to publish.  These statements are especially timely and needed in the face of slanderous lies and attacks launched by various opportunist forces and media outlets against Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, on the role of the Revcoms and Sunsara Taylor in it—and especially targeted against Bob Avakian with unprincipled slander and dangerous lies. We will continue to publish other statements along these lines, and any statements RU4AR receives and publishes against these attacks.


    From D. Ocean, Health Care Practitioner

    "When Bob Avakian and the RevCom’s take a principled position and cut through the bullshit, when they show this attack on women and the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a fascist attack, when they show how the Democratic Party is conciliatory with these fascists (refusing to mobilize the people), when in contrast to giving in and capitulating RU4AR mobilizes thousands of young women…  it is at this point these forces go after Bob Avakian because he is telling people what is behind the curtain."

    Read more

    When Bob Avakian and the RevCom’s take a principled position and cut through the bullshit, when they show this attack on women and the overturning of Roe v. Wade is a fascist attack, when they show how the Democratic Party is conciliatory with these fascists (refusing to mobilize the people), when in contrast to giving in and capitulating RU4AR mobilizes thousands of young women…  it is at this point these forces go after Bob Avakian because he is telling people what is behind the curtain.  Vicious attacks on Sunsara Taylor… because she TOOK A STAND!  When Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights started, Sunsara Taylor and others from RevCom made it clear:  we have to hit this and we have to hit this hard and mobilize the masses to fight to make sure things don’t get to where they’ve gotten, with Roe overturned and new horrors now happening.  The forces who launched this attack have no answer other than to pretend these attacks are not as serious as they are.  Their program is… bankrupt.  

    Which Side Are You On?

    But more:  this is counter-revolution.  Accusations about misappropriation of funds is being spread.  This is an attempt to discredit, to delegitimize, to create suspicion.  This can do damage by creating distrust among people who don’t know the real.  Its all old game but it can be effective.  Rather than a solidarity movement, look how the forces spreading lies about BA and RevCom have sunk to the level of Alex Jones!  Let’s be real, the forces spreading this disinformation DESPISE the very idea of revolution—so much so that they envy the shock jock Alex Jones and want to be him... spreading lies, slander and disinformation.  More than shameful... attempting to destroy legitimate protest? This is what fascism does! 

    Since when do cults fight to liberate women, Black people, LGBTQ, and wage the fight against capitalism and imperialist war—describe a cult that engages in that?

    And because people out there can be lazy and won’t "back check", this bullshit “cult” charge can get over among some.  Just blurt out “CULT” and because people don’t practice science that can also take on wings.  Isn’t the question whether what BA is saying is true, or not, and where will it lead if its promoted and followed.  Of course none of the “leaders” of this bourgeois capitalist set up (or these "self-appointed leaders of the women's movement" who spew groundless accusations) endorse Bob Avakian… they would rather have people turn away.  Now their mouthpieces—even some so-called "progressive journalists"—work to cut people off from Bob Avakian before his ideas spread, before BA’s new ideas have a chance to catch on.  That IS what is happening here.  No way should we allow this.

    Why did Malcolm X place the Republican and Democratic Party leadership in the same canine family (foxes and wolves), and why is that relevant today?

    This is dangerous.  The forces behind these lies and slanders know this.  They know about COINTELPRO.  They know about Malcolm X.  What happened to Malcolm when he said the Republicans and the Democratic Party - they got the same game going.  We know what happened and that can’t be allowed to happen now.  It’s slander, its libelous, but I say listen and read BA.  Look at the facts.  Look at his principled approach.  Is what BA saying true?  Or not?  That’s the question.  Do you disagree?  If so, say so.  Debate is welcome, I know this from years of experience with the RevComs.   But whether you agree with the need for revolution, or not, these counter-revolutionary attacks must be exposed and denounced; EVERYONE really does need to take a basic stand against this outrage.

    D. Ocean
    Health Care Practitioner


    From Gloria Pinex—fighter for justice and mother of Darius Pinex, killed by Chicago police

    Darius Pinex

     

    Darius Pinex   

    I know BA personally. The first time I heard him speak I fell in love with him. And I don’t know why someone wouldn’t want to hear from someone who gets down to earth with things. I don’t know who wouldn’t want the truth. Anything having to do with oppression he touches on it. He touches bases on Police Brutality, oppressed women—yeah—he does a lot. All that gibberish they are talking is absolutely absurd. It’s not Bobby—it’s not his character.


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Carol Downer, Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Centers and Life-Long Fierce Advocate for Reproductive Rights

     “…Before you seek to defame and cast out Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights on serious (but unproven) charges of being a cult and a pyramid scheme which diverts money from social and racial justice movements, you need to seek out the experiences of non-communist feminists who have worked with the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), such as myself. As an anti-racist activist since 1965, and a feminist pro-abortion activist since 1969, I have first-hand experience with the RCP since the 1970’s which refute these charges….”

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    WITNESS

    To: 23 grassroots pro-abortion organizers who denounce Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.

    I am making this statement as an individual. My accounts of the work that the Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Centers (FWHC) have done with the RCP are given solely for the purpose of giving an eyewitness account to give you a fuller picture of the RCP and to directly refute many, if not all, of the charges you made.

    Before you seek to defame and cast out Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights on serious (but unproven) charges of being a cult and a pyramid scheme which diverts money from social and racial justice movements, you need to seek out the experiences of non-communist feminists who have worked with the Revolutionary Communist Party, (RCP), such as myself. As an anti-racist activist since 1965, and a feminist pro-abortion activist since 1969, I have first-hand experience with the RCP since the 1970’s which refute these charges. As the Executive Director of the Feminist Women’s Health Centers (FWHC), we have worked with the RCP and with its various ad hoc committees on many occasions and on many social justice issues.

    I’ve observed that the RCP often establishes ad hoc grassroots groups to fight on various issues, such as police abuse, abortion rights, and suppression of opponents to the Iranian regime. Non-communists are welcomed to work within or work closely with these groups. The RCP shares its literature and encourages discussion, but there is no pressure to adopt communism or Bob Avakian’s teachings. I have read many of Bob Avakian’s writings, heard him speak and watched his filmed talks. I find them interesting and thoughtful.

    The FWHCs, which were founded in the early 70’s, also incorporated issues that were not directly related to the running of our women’s health centers. No one accused us of “glomming on” to these issues, such as home birth, forced sterilization, police abuse, and anti-Muslim violence. And, as regards being a pyramid scheme, RCP-sponsored Refuse and Resist for many years who escorted abortion clients through heavy weekly picket lines at the Eve’s Clinic in El Monte, California and later at the FPA clinic on Westmoreland Avenue. This clearly did not have their bottom line increased.

    In 1979, I was a member of the Committee to Send Back the Shah. I, and Rebecca Chalker, also of the FWHC, travelled with the Committee to Iran. The FWHC’s also worked with RCP committees who fought against police abuse, and escorted at abortion clinics. The activities of these ad-hoc groups were mostly funded by donations from the sale of the RCP newspaper. I saw no evidence of large donations from anyone. After our Los Angeles health center closed, I joined Sunsara Taylor in Texas on the Stop Patriarchy tour. We slept on the motel floor and cooked our own meals.

    Bob Avakian believes that a communist revolution is needed and that their dedicated efforts will make it possible. RCP members accordingly devote every minute after work hours to make it happen. I believe that females working together can eventually achieve equality, and the resulting egalitarian society will revolutionize the world.

    I have personally known many RCP members for years. They definitely do not behave like someone belonging to a cult. They are educated, thinking political activists that are working toward establishing a communist society, and they like Avakian’s approach. They take on various issues because they feel strongly about the rights of the poor and the working class, and the rights of women, and they believe that working on the specific issues builds toward a revolution. They don’t “glom on” to these issues because they are popular or to exploit them.

    Stop trying to keep people from associating with Rise Up, because you disagree with tactics you consider “theatrical” that alarm people about abortion. I have always believed that it is counter-productive to use coat-hanger imagery, however, many abortion rights advocates find the specter of “back-alley abortions” to be a strong argument for keeping abortion legal. If we threw out everybody who comes to a demonstration or starts a pro-abortion group on such debatable differences, we’d have a very small movement.

    Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights has indisputably attracted a great deal of public attention. Their focus on their outrage may make some people uncomfortable, but remember that bold action can be part of successful protest and even the seizing of power.

    You may be respectful of the rights of free speech, however there are many in our country who are not. Many equate “communism” with “un-American” and want to persecute and outlaw communists. Your ill-founded attack has enabled opportunistic so-called reporters to build a firestorm of criticism against the RCP and Rise Up4 Abortion Rights. Could it be that you’re concerned that wealthy philanthropists who financially support grassroots efforts such as yours will be scared to associate with a movement that includes communist groups?

    The string of decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court in June, 2022 heralds a trend toward outright fascism in this country. Those decisions reveal the ruling class’ overall plan to maintain Western white supremacy and rampant industrialization by destroying sexual and reproductive rights, by doing away with federal regulation on fossil fuels, by unleashing gun violence and by encouraging police abuse on those who protest, especially poor people and people of color. I urge you to keep up your own valuable work and to be inclusive of all who are working for the common goal of protecting our environment, our sexual and reproductive rights and a more equal society.

    Carol Downer

    Life-Long Fierce Advocate for Reproductive Rights


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Jim Fouratt, gay rights activist who participated in the Stonewall Rebellion, actor, and former nightclub impresario

    “These attacks on Rise Up are so similar to the attacks that happened in the 60s and 70s under the Cointelpro program by the FBI. And they’re happening today, I believe, because of the success of Sunsara Taylor and the Rise Up movement with the revcoms.”

    Read more

    As a senior, I’m a contemporary of Bob Avakian. I was in San Francisco at the time of the Black Panther Party. I remember the white people that stood up and supported the Black Panther Party and their programs. Bob Avakian was a young man and he was there. So I know of Bob Avakian for a very long time. I also was the first gay person to be allowed to speak at a left rally, it was at Yale in support of Bobby Seale. Although we were put on last, it was the first time that an openly gay or lesbian person had been visible and spoken from their sexual orientation point of view.

    Cointelpro [the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program which spied on, disrupted, and set up revolutionaries and activists during the 1960s and 70s] wreaked havoc on my life. The FBI’s goal was to seek out who they saw as young people who were potential leaders. This was a story of Fred Hampton in Chicago. He was murdered by the police because he could have been the next major Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King. They went after me because I could speak. Most gay and lesbian people did not because they were invisible. They weren’t protected under the law and their jobs, etc. And they were subjected to police harassment of all different kinds.

    I came to Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights because they were out there standing up against the Supreme Court overturning Roe from the beginning, with their green posters and their green bandanas. I still wear them. I saw that it was important to find unity on the issue of the right of women to choose and the right of women to control their body. That includes trans people or people who identify as trans people. I own my body. You own your body. No government and no religion should be putting their hands on it. That’s what brought me to Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.

    These attacks on Rise Up are so similar to the attacks that happened in the 60s and 70s under the Cointelpro program by the FBI. And they’re happening today,

    I believe, because of the success of Sunsara Taylor and the Rise Up movement with the revcoms.

    We don’t all have to agree about lots of issues, but we come together because we feel unity with abortion rights. And I said it when I spoke at a Rise Up protest in February at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, if you want to disagree with me about someone or some person or history or whatever, let’s go talk over there in the corner. But today we’re here to fight the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions that control our lives today. (I made a point of saying not all Roman Catholics are bad people.)

    You know, I went back and read all the papers of Bob Avakian. I knew the name, I knew some things, but I didn’t know his politics of today. I tell you, if you haven’t done that, and you’re out there making these kinds of accusations, you’re being really stupid and dangerous. It’s a kind of anti-intellectual culture. Read the ideas. Discuss them. That’s dialectics. That’s how we learn to talk and listen to each other.

    I want to say thank you, Sunsara Taylor, for all the work you did. Rise Up was there in the beginning, making the link with the activists of the past of the women who had spent 20 or 30 years making sure that Roe stayed in place. I remember what it was like when women could not legally get an abortion. I remember how it impacted on poor people of different races and different sexual orientations. The idea that they’re calling Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights “homophobic” is bizarre to me. I have a whole history of being in the frontlines of fighting for civil rights for lesbian and gay people and bisexuals and trans as we went forward. So I say thank you to everyone who was involved in Rise Up, including Sunsara and other revcoms. Let’s just move forward. Those green signs were everywhere in Washington, DC when Roe was overturned. I was sick at the time, but I watched and I thought, they can’t stop showing them because we, and all of the young people and all of us old people that came together to try to stop the Supreme Court have not given up!


    Roosevelt—member of the Chicago Revolution Club

    Over the years I've seen and heard many leaders who have tried to diagnosis the many issues plaguing the Poor community's . Since 1999 one in particular showed up on my radar, Bob Avakian has been more in tune and aware of the true solutions that's needed to overcome these issues which existed for far too long! Others have came up with their ideas of fitting inside of the same dam System that's caused pain and suffering all over this planet! Sounds crazy but it's true.

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    Actually Bob Avakian has been fighting against this System of Capitalism and Imperialism since the 60s! And has never gave in to the corruption that has lured numerous others away from the goal of fighting for the people and has published a number of books to enlighten the masses on a real way to defeat this System and its puppets! Visit www.revcom.us for a complete encyclopedia of the books by B.A .

    A real leader who refuse to do like so many others is very rare, and should be heard, not ignored. There are those who hear him, take what he says, try to rephrase it to make it their own. What they should be doing is the right thing since they already know that B.A. Is the Architect of the New Communism and like I stated earlier a number of great "Real books" on the subject of Revolution, and the emancipation of humanity. When we have a leader amongst us with this kind information we should be taking it up.

    I have heard others and this true, and I've heard Bob Avakian, and this is my leader.


    Brother Raymond, founder of Brothers Standing Together

    I’ve worked with the Rev Club over many years and I’ve never heard BA try to mislead or misguide anyone. They don’t like the fact that BA is a thinker. He has a great mind and people want to know what he is thinking. So therefore people misconstrue and try to say that he has a “cult.” He doesn’t have a cult he has a group of thinkers like himself who are organized and strategizing to lead the masses in the rebellion against violence and Police Brutality. So that’s what’s going on and that’s the BA I know. Anything else they said is just bullshit.


    A Concerned Activist

    I’m someone who got involved in the early days of building up the October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation. The October 22nd Coalition formed in the late 1990s to fight police brutality and many, many different groups and people joined together, building support for and protesting with the families of children whose lives were stolen by police murdereven publishing a book documenting the many cases of people who were killed by police. For over fifteen years, we worked together with O22, making a difference.

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    The leadership of Bob Avakian and the Revcoms was key to this fight against police brutality! Because before we built up the October 22 Coalition, I didn’t see anyone else out there fighting against police brutality. No one else was out there on a national scale. O22 was the first out there broadly in this fight. I even went with the October 22nd Coalition to Washington, DC and unfurled a banner on the steps of the US Capitol and I remember Al Sharpton as one of many speaking that day against the 41 bullets shot by police into the body of Amadou Diallo. And it’s still going on, since police shot over sixty bullets into Jayland Walker, murdering him.

    I think it is important that we all unite together nowto fight for abortion rights! To attack Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights as disrespectful to Black people and people of color because Rise Up raises the slogan “Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement” is wrong and goes against the whole history of this country and how people are enslaved in many ways and forms, including that we are now living in the era of the New Jim Crow. As Black people, we know that over generations Black women were being raped and everyone turned a blind eye. So the slogan "Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement” is very correct and important to raise in our battle for us, as women today, to have the right to abortion.


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Boston May Day (BMDC)

    “[Those attacking] place priority on attacking the presence of the RevComs in Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. The government and employers have for many decades used red-baiting as a means of attempting to destroy social movements defending the rights of working people and the oppressed… Martin Luther King Jr. was labeled a ‘communist’ by FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover and subsequently assassinated.”

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    BMDC Denounces Attack against RU4AR

    agreed upon July 3, 2022

    The Boston May Day Coalition [BMDC] has been involved in the struggles of working people since 2006 and began to gear up for the fight to defend Roe vs. Wade this past winter. Even last fall, we were appalled to see that the forces supporting the Democratic Party and especially those supporting the Women’s March failed to see the need to mobilize a broad based massive visible effort in defense of abortion rights. During that period, we managed to hook up with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights which was sounding the alarm and mobilizing dozens, hundreds, and later thousands of youth, locally and nationally, in an effort to wake up the rest of the country to the real danger that lay ahead, while so many others on the left were sleeping at the wheel!!

    The broadside attack is currently aimed at women, trans folks, and underage girls. But the Supreme Court has now opened the door to eliminating all rights not envisioned by the “founding fathers” who excluded women and African Americans from the constitution! The overturning of Roe vs. Wade calls for the broadest unity of forces who are willing to fight the systemic reactionary monster which seeks to suppress and deny the legitimate rights of working people and the oppressed.

    Unfortunately, after all these months we now see the group, NYC for Abortion Rights, initiating a public campaign against Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. They claim to want a “strong and united” movement but pursue a policy to divide and weaken the movement. They demand that RiseUp “step back from pro-abortion spaces” as if they are entitled to exclude an organization from the movement! Is this any way to build a social movement? This seems utterly juvenile and something you would expect to see in high school.

    NYC for Abortion Rights and others place priority on attacking the presence of the RevComs in Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. The government and employers have for many decades used red baiting as a means of attempting to destroy social movements defending the rights of working people and the oppressed. Whether it be the fight for women’s suffrage, the rise of the unions, the civil rights movement, the antiwar movement, the abortion rights movement, the environmental movement, etc., the reactionaries have always used this tool to destroy our fights. Martin Luther King Jr. was labeled a “communist” by FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover and subsequently assassinated. Popularizing these tools from this reactionary tool kit poses an existential threat to the movement today just as it did in the past.

    NYC for Abortion Rights and others decry the activity of Rise Up’s members “wearing of white pants painted with fake blood, die-ins, and coat-hanger imagery”. They advocate for “safe self-managed abortion” and “medication abortion as a post-Roe tool”. It seems that these people know little about the history of the mass movement which won abortion rights. At the time of Roe vs. Wade, thousands of women had died from self-performed abortions using clothes hangers and from back-alley abortion providers unfit to practice medicine. Yes, we will see the return of clothes hanger and back-alley abortions in the future. Yes, women have died and will die in the future in spite of proclamations from the affluent wing of the abortion rights movement, because those who reject “die ins” are rejecting the reality of women living in poverty.

    Indeed, slavery was ruled legal by the U.S. Supreme Court, but the abolitionists continued to fight until it was overthrown. Segregation was legalized in a supreme court ruling until Jim Crow segregation was overthrown by the Civil Rights movement. The battle for the restoration of Roe vs. Wade and Abortion on Demand Without Apology has only begun and NYC for Abortion Rights and others want to give up without firing a political shot. The Democratic Party has been telling us that we can vote our way out of this crisis. The current “moderate majority” government in Washington may have good reason to celebrate this campaign against Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights.

    NYC for Abortion Rights and others are upset because “RiseUp frequently likens abortion bans to “female enslavement”. Unfortunately, the role of “housewife” or “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” is where the reactionaries want to place women. It is the duty of the movement to point this out even if it makes some people unhappy. Accusations of RiseUp being homophobic or misusing funds are just out and out lies. RiseUp has done much on a shoestring budget. The reactionary Supreme Court which seeks to drive us all down will not have the last word in the battles ahead around abortion rights.

    BMDC rejects these divisive attacks and reaffirms the need to build a strong and united movement that develops a movement building culture which seeks to welcome all currents to the organizing table in an effort to organize joint actions decided upon by all the participating organizations. We reject the notion of a movement following a cult of personalities in the form of NYC for Abortion Rights and those who seek to divide us and weaken our ability to fight back against the attacks coming down from the government and reactionaries who want to take all of us back to 19th century style peonage, poverty, and political atomization.


    From Brother B In The Streets, Educator, California

    "There is something called objective truth—and people will be played for fools if they refuse to realize there are people who DO speak the truth (and there will be forces who don’t like that and want to stop it).  And that includes the truth about what the problem and what the solution is—no one else, other than Bob Avakian, shouts “Revolution—Nothing Less”—with real substance, and over many decades."

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    Bob Avakian a “cult” leader.  I’ve heard this kind of talk for a long time, and each time it comes up what do these forces who spread this accusation reveal about themselves:  no engagement… absolutely no serious engagement with anything Bob Avakian has written.  Show me where, in anything Bob Avakian has written, or in his talks, where he says his work shouldn’t scrutinized.  People mustn’t be intellectually lazy and just swallow this talk about “cult.”  There is something called objective truth—and people will be played for fools if they refuse to realize there are people who DO speak the truth (and there will be forces who don’t like that and want to stop it).  And that includes the truth about what the problem and what the solution is—no one else, other than Bob Avakian, shouts “Revolution—Nothing Less”—with real substance, and over many decades.  

    People should ask themselves what is “objective reality”?  How to solve the problem of dismantling this capitalist-imperialist system?  That’s different from judging people by what they’re ancestry is or promoting the idea that there are many different versions of reality.  We hear about micro-aggressions and they are real, but what about the macro-aggressions that tie us all together, and a revolutionary leader who speaks to all of that?   These attacks include the accusation Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and Revcom is a pyramid scheme!  Vicious and unprincipled.  Well, if your “identity politics” is not connected to dismantling this system, you are shuffling chairs on the Titanic, and for some this also now means joining the camp of counter-revolution.  Bob Avakian has pushed a hard scientific line for a long time.  Its right for those who grasp it to stand on it, and for those who’ve never seriously engaged Bob Avakian: find out about what Bob Avakian is saying about objective reality, about the problem and the solution, and the principles that must guide the revolutionary struggle.

    Brother B In The Streets
    Educator, California


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Fran Luck, host and producer of The Joy of Resistance, Multicultural Feminist Radio on WBAI 99.5 FM in NYC

    “When [movements] are really taking off and getting some power and getting some recognition, a whole group of more establishment people… often attack very viciously and slanderously… It’s a very dangerous pattern and it should be fought and it should be exposed. I’m very proud that Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights is standing up to it.”

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    Big movements do not begin in politicians’ offices. They begin with masses of people in the streets. Later on, after there is some kind of disruption happening, the politicians get rid of it and make it into some sort of legislation usually watering it down. That’s how so-called “progress” is made.

    I’ve been following the incremental attacks on abortion for the 20 years we’ve been on the air. But as soon as we got into this chapter of it, I looked around for people who would go out into those streets and start to raise hell. I couldn’t find anybody except Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights who was out there immediately and mobilizing excellently. I was very excited about that. I didn’t see any of the other feminist groups and I’m in touch with a lot of them because a lot of them have been on the radio show I produce. They weren’t there. Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights was there. The crowds they were gathering were getting into the news. The different slogans they were using were getting into the news. I just thought that was really excellent, so I was very happy to sign the statement. I was very happy to join.

    Now, when I heard about these attacks, it was a very familiar feeling. It was like: Oh no, here we go again. I had seen these kinds of attacks in other movements. I’d seen them in the housing movement. I had seen them in the feminist movement in the early days, when radicals started the feminist movement. Often women associated with the Left, women who were doing consciousness raising or consulting their own experience, were writing a whole new story for women. This is in the mid-60s. These women really spread it far and wide. There were consciousness-raising groups in towns and cities all over the country. Then, what do you think happened? A whole lot of people, usually women who were very involved with the system, began to feel that, “Oh, this movement is really getting someplace. Maybe it’s time that we took it over. Those crazy people who started it, well they were they’re good for starting things, but we can’t let them run they’re going to ruin it. We need to get it under control. We need to blend it perhaps with existing institutions. We need to water it down before it becomes too disruptive of the status quo.” That is a story that has been told often. You can actually go to The Power of History, an essay by Kathie Sarachild of Redstockings, if you want to find out more about that takeover of the feminist movement and how it was kind of siphoned into the Democratic Party. That doesn’t mean the radicals didn’t continue to fightthey are still fightingbut that was a great, great lesson. At that point, the radical feminist movement was attacked in many ways. A lot of the leaders were kicked out of groups they had started.

    You see this kind of thing happen over and over again. Radicals tend to have more vision because they have a broader vision. The word radical really means getting to the root of things, looking at the deeper causes of things. Therefore radicals are pretty creative about what they’re doing. On the other hand, people who are doing incremental kind of one-issue-at-a-time and don’t have much vision beyond that, well, they’re good at co-opting what radicals are doing. But they’re not good at sustaining movements that have a real vision. So as soon as I saw these attacks on Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, I said here we go again. And I ask people who may not have seen this before to keep a sharp look out for it, because it tends to repeat in many movements. When they are really taking off and getting some power and getting some recognition, a whole group of more establishment people come in and start attacking and they often attack very viciously and slanderously. In those ways they’re going to delegitimize those radical movements in people’s eyes. Sometimes it’s a turf war. Sometimes it’s people who are not maybe classical liberals, they can claim to also have socialist roots, but their socialism is a very establishment socialism if you really look at. So I wanted to pass this on to all of you. It’s a very dangerous pattern and it should be fought and it should be exposed. I’m very proud that Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights is standing up to it.

    This is not a transphobic movement. You are right for using the word women in much of the sloganeering. The word women must not disappear and it is not in contradiction to supporting all gender non-conforming people. So that’s basically what I want to say. I very much support you. I’ve put out several tweets that have gotten around. I have worked together with Sunsara at WBAI radio. Once again, I thank you. Carry on. We need to be in those streets. We need to have no-business-as-usual while women do not have our rights. We need to have that as an ongoing inspiring motif and we need to stay with it, so thank you all!


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Pam Laskin, poet, author, editor, lecturer at the City College of New York

     “As an active member of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and admirer of the passion, integrity, hard work and commitment of one of its leaders, Sunsara Taylor, I was appalled to read the recent attack waged against Bob Avakian, the revcoms and–in particular–against an institution, Rise-Up, so committed to securing the health and safety of women’s reproductive freedom.”

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    The following is a copy of the letter Pam Laskin sent to the editor of the hit-piece published at The Intercept attacking Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, as well as Bob Avakian, Sunsara and the Revcoms.

    Dear Ms. Renner,

    As an active member of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and admirer of the passion, integrity, hard work and commitment of one of its leaders, Sunsara Taylor, I was appalled to read the recent attack waged against Bob Avakian, the revcoms andin particularagainst an institution, Rise-Up, so committed to securing the health and safety of women’s reproductive freedom.

    I have been at many of the rallies organized by this group, and their honest and transparent commitment to this cause is to be revered, not bashed. What struck me at one of the earlier ralliesin March, before the Supreme Court came out with their decision, is how willing Sunsara, a spokeswoman, was willing to join forces with all the other organizations marching to defend this sacred right. Though Rise Up has a particular stance (which you naively and disparagingly attacked), she realized that it was critical to inspire revolution as a catalyst to overturn this decision, while also working with any other group after the same goal.

    My guess is that you have never even heard her speak or bothered to interview her, becauseif you hadyou never would have waged a verbal assault on her goals. A new nation of young people are joining forces with this group because they are inspired by her powerful message.

    During these awful political times, when truth is a commodity and our current rhetoric is based on lies, wouldn’t youas a journalistwant to fully investigate your piece, so you are not perpetuating the negativity, lies and danger of our current world?

    Shame on you for not doing otherwise.

    Signed,

    Pamela L. Laskin
    Director, Poetry Outreach
    Lecturer, The City College of New York


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Rachael Wachstein, anti-fascist fighter who worked with Refuse Fascism

    “While the far right is rallying disparate groups from bible-banging Evangelicals to gun-loving white supremacists, the left and progressives prefer to fight amongst themselves. When you attack the Revcoms because you don’t like their tactics or how they organize, you are hastening our country’s authoritarian, fascist takeover.”

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    While the far right is rallying disparate groups from bible-banging Evangelicals to gun-loving white supremacists, the left and progressives prefer to fight amongst themselves. When you attack the Revcoms because you don’t like their tactics or how they organize, you are hastening our country’s authoritarian, fascist takeover. You aren’t fighting the good fight when you spend your time and energy knocking down those on your own side. Stop this holier than thou BS! If you don’t like how the group organizes, you are free to do it your way. It’s all hands on deck people! There’s a place for all of us who are needed if we stand a chance of surviving the fascist surge that is sure to ramp up heading into the 2024 elections, which we can guarantee will not be free or fair. What is needed now is a united people’s front. We need to lock arms and push back. Shame on anyone who distracts from this common mission. You can either be right and stand alone or you can see our common cause and link arms to resist. Next time you want to lash out at Revcoms because they aren’t doing what you would do, maybe you should take that energy and direct it against the real forces of Christian fascism taking our country by storm.


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Bay Area Youth with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights

    “Now is not the time to start fighting within this ‘movement’. We might not all have the same ideologies, but we’re all fighting for the rights of women & all people who can give birth.”

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    Statement Addressing The Allegations Towards RU4AR On account of the Bay Area Youth who’ve worked with RU4AR since April 2022.

    Motivation/Goals?
    We work to get as many people in the streets with us as possible. The women & everyone who helped fight in Argentina won their right to abortion & other essential healthcare through protests with masses of people. Simply voting blue & claiming to be pro-choice isn’t enough. SCOTUS has already stated that they’ve got queer marriage and the right to contraceptives on the chopping block next.

    Graphic/Violent?
    The use of imagery including bloody pants, coat hangers, etc. is based off of the women who were severely injured or died from a lack of safe & legal abortion. This is the reality of what will occur. The argument that now there’s alternatives such as abortion pills or that people can just travel is invalid. Not everyone has the money or situation to fly to another state for an abortion, or to purchase an abortion-inducing pill. It is extremely important to both highlight & recognize the fact that this issue affects black, latinx, low-income, and other further oppressed people disproportionately

    Funding/Donations?
    When you donate to the Bay Area Rise Up4 Abortion Rights Chapter, the money goes towards the printing & creating of our signs, stickers, banners, and other items used in protest. Many of our banners are made by us (the youth) on our downtime, and sometimes even just hours before protests. In order to create these, we have to invest in fabric, paint, stencils, etc. To make ourselves heard, we need megaphones & batteries for them.

    Closing
    All in all, we need to stand united in this fight. Now is not the time to start fighting within this “movement”. We might not all have the same ideologies, but we’re all fighting for the rights of women & all people who can give birth.


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Nina Felshin, contemporary art curator, writer, activist.

    “The attack on RU4AR is utterly malicious, shocking, and scary…”

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    The attack on RU4AR is utterly malicious, shocking, and scary. One can only wonder what other McCarthyite weapons will be used to target the RCP and other dissident voices on the left… It would seem to me that the funders of the signatories probably set them up to do this, no? The attack is so transparently stupid—but dangerous, nevertheless—and it seems obvious that the real target attack is on the RCP…
     
    Americans are taught who the enemy is—and it’s always those who refuse to be taken in by the US narrative, including China, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, Iran, Cuba, and Nicaragua; independent journalists; and organizations like the RCP. Now, maybe more than ever, communism—and socialism—has once again been turned into a threat. The plot sickens.


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    Peter Switzer, activist, videographer, editor

    “Is the Intercept actually going to allow slimy McCarthy type hit pieces like the one McMackey scratched out with zero reporting done and just lazy BS hearsay from others who really don’t know much, if anything at all, about Rise Up 4 Abortion, or the RevComs, or Bob Avakian? How much do they know about CoIntelPro or the McCarthy hearings?”

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    The following is a copy of the letter Peter Switzer sent to the The Intercept in response to their membership email (at times he quotes their letter). Switzer addresses the hit-piece they published attacking Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights, as well as Bob Avakian, Sunsara and the Revcoms.

    July 22, 2022

    Hey Intercept,

    You’re certainly not helping democracy “survive” in any way… that’s a fact, something you folks seem to be in extremely short supply of over there.

    You’ll have to lose the gaslighting, mudslinging, libelous non-“journalist” Robert Mackey before I would ever think about reading your slanderous rag ever again.

    Is the Intercept actually going to allow slimy McCarthy type hit pieces like the one McMackey scratched out with zero reporting done and just lazy BS hearsay from others who really don’t know much, if anything at all, about Rise Up 4 Abortion, or the RevComs, or Bob Avakian? How much do they know about CoIntelPro or the McCarthy hearings?

    – “Swooping”?

    – Really?

    What a joke, so old, so tired, such complete BS. RU4AR was organizing and agitating in the streets with NO “cameras” back in January 2022, straight through into DC well before the “cameras” came out there, and are still organizing actions and protests in the streets today. Where the hell were you? Where was McMackey?

    RU4AR organized most of the actions in the streets across the country, that’s why they were/are there at most of them, with the microphone. Imagine that fact…

    Rise Up was even ignorantly criticized for adopting green as the color of resistance for abortion rights when they began. There is a reason Rise Up chose green that most others didn’t have a clue about. Low and behold RU were criticized for “co-opting” that too when folks were made aware, a color, “co-opting” a color! Any allegations of “co-opting” are such a freaking joke, it would be painfully hilarious if it wasn’t so freaking sad and down right counter-revolutionary.

    The same people who didn’t know where or why the green was chosen, are now all wearing green BECAUSE of Rise Up’s foresight and understanding, back in December/January to follow the women of Argentina and Colombia, where abortion rights were won in the streets, by the people. Even your pals in congress are now wearing green, (pic below) seen while Chu spoke on the steps of the house. The Dems weren’t wearing green before Rise Up adopted and popularized it here. Clearly RiseUp influenced many other groups in this way in the US, and elsewhere, as was its intention.

    Mackey is ridiculous. Mackey’s putrid fact free rambling so called “journalism” belongs in the toilet, at best.

    From The Intercept fundraising email:

    – “Journalism will play a key role in the fight to restore sanity to the Supreme Court.”

    The Intercept’s “journalism” certainly won’t.

    – “It’s up to us to explicate the impact of these decisions, illuminate the forces that unleashed them, and demand action from those with the power to check the court’s excesses and repair the damage.”

    Did it even occur to McMackey or the Intercept what RU is actually calling for??

    Do you even know now, almost eight months into it?

    If anyone over there truly believed only half of the content in this email you’ve sent along with your quest for “lavish” cash, then you would cease to publish what is the worst representation of “journalism” the internet has to offer.

    I won’t be reading or accepting anymore stories or emails from your lower than swill you somehow label “dogged investigative journalism” site any time in the future. Unsubscribing today.

    Get real, or GTFO.

    Rise Up!!

    Peter Switzer


    Original posted at RiseUp4AbortionRights.org

    A medical professional, after reading Sunsara Taylor’s rebuttal to the hit-piece by Robert Mackey at the Intercept

    “Detailing the complete lack of journalistic integrity, both by Mackey and by [the Intercept’s] editorial staff, is important. Illustrating the trumpian methods of ‘argument’ he employed to extremely dangerous ends, here directed by ‘progressive’ journalists against some of the only organized forces that mobilized protest and resistance.”

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    When I checked this morning, the Intercept still had the original story [attacking Rise Up and the Revcoms] featured prominently (middle of the page, one of the top stories in the “politics” section) without a printed rebuttal. The article by Sunsara was very well constructed. Detailing the complete lack of journalistic integrity, both by Mackey and by editorial staff, is important. Illustrating the trumpian methods of “argument” he employed to extremely dangerous ends, here directed by “progressive” journalists against some of the only organized forces that mobilized protest and resistance.

    Continuing to press for the Intercept to publish the rebuttal should be seen by MANY as a just demand given the embarrassing lack of journalistic standards in Mackey’s article, and if they don’t do so soon, finding ways to make this a point of controversy among people who would generally read the Intercept could serve an important role, especially linking their article to the other unprincipled attacks published around the same time and with remarkably similar content, as the “Behind the week of internet attacks…” piece [by the revcoms published at Revcom.us] does. And doing this with the aim of exposing the putrid values and impoverished political vision and program that these attacks stem from and serve, and showing by way of contrast what a difference it makes to seek to understand the nature of this attack on abortion rights and the objectives of those pushing it, a scientific analysis that shows the way to fighting these outrages today and does not turn away from what is needed to take on the source of these regenerating horrors at their root!

    I thought the section [in Sunsara’s rebuttal] “Canceling Bob Avakian to Erase Revolution” was especially powerful. It opens by tackling head on why these accusations of “cultishness” are not only shameful and have nothing to do with honest reporting or discourse, but have the effect of placing “out of bounds” any engagement with BA’s work on these crucial questions of the basic nature of this system, whether there is a path beyond all of this system’s horrors through revolution, what makes that possible and what characterizes the radically different society that would take its placeall questions of critical importance, that any reader of the Intercept who honestly confronts the magnitude of the crises and crimes of this system should wantor be challengedto engage. I also think it’s helpful to enumerate the ways that the charge of “cult” plays with people, the labels that get affixed (“Everyone knows that cults are creepy and unthinking and dangerous. Everyone knows they are predatory.”). It places what people think out in the open, allows it to be taken on directly, and allows the hollow accusations and the whole innuendo-laden to be torn apart.


    From a photographer who covered the Ferguson uprising, the Stockley verdict and the Black Lives Matter Uprising in 2020

    This is something that’s been on my mind anyway. I've been having to deal with this since it happened. Me and a few other people—we had to defend the work of the RCP, Ferguson, Refuse Fascism, Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights – we’ve had to defend all of that. And that’s ongoing.

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    The first thing I want to say is I felt totally insulted—and that’s what I felt about this. I felt totally insulted for somebody to say I’ve been working with a cult all these years. Because working with the RCP and following the leadership of BA who I think is the leading thinker in the world right now, not that I agree with everything he says but I will say he is the leading thinker in the world forging forward the strategy of liberation for all mankind. Working with the RCP and following the leadership of BA has done nothing but test my thinking, made me stretch my thinking—my imagination—to grapple, to understand different complex situations that we get in the world today. My mind has been stretched, has been tested to the limit in trying to understand complex situations like thinking how revolution is possible.

    If this was a cult, a cult is based on certain unchanging religious principles. There’s no religiosity in this movement. BA and the RCP, particular people like Sunsara Taylor & Andy Zee raised alarms around the coming onslaught, the emergence of fascism, in the U.S. before anybody else saw it. To be able to see the oncoming of fascism before anybody else did and then start preparing people for it—I commend the RCP and Bob Avakian for doing that. And to ask people to get into the streets to stop the reversal of Roe v Wade, abortion rights was, I think, kind of remarkable. And I think BA and the RCP are to be commended for that.

    I think what people need to do despite this onslaught by a lot of the so-called left, then the so-called “Woke” movement that’s full of identity politics. People, like BA says—people need to be scientific. People need to get up into these questions about today, what’s going on. Particularly regarding the strategy to reverse the Supreme Court Decision against abortion rights. BA and the RCP have been instrumental in pointing the way how to deal with this problem—the streets.

    A cult wouldn’t have done all that. A cult is the philosophy of religion. RCP, BA, is the philosophy of growth. Of analyzing life, and the objective situation as they are developing. So in the end I say like BA—are we headed for a horrible end or is humanity headed toward a much better future?


    Statement in response to the attacks on Bob Avakian from Freddie J. McGee, father of Freddie Latrice Wilson, shot 18 times by Chicago Police.

    Someone trying to volunteer to help you, trying to save you. And you seem like you don’t care. You have to criticize the person trying to help you. If you want to use a recent example there is Martin Luther King, he was for the righteous. He was trying to support the people. He got murdered because he was trying to tell people the truth, he was trying to get people together. And they killed him for it. We still have someone like Bob Avakian risking his life, taking his time trying to help people.

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    Freddie Latrice Wilson

     

    Freddie Latrice Wilson   

    Stevie Wonder can see this shit—I’m a man, but I see how a woman feels about her rights. You’re damn right a woman has the right to say whether she is going to have a baby. It is so wrong that people have the power to tell people how to live their life. And to have someone strong enough to stand up and support you—there should be more people in the world today out here supporting Bob Avakian and the revolution. Anyone who cares about people.


    From a Black filmmaker

    They say RCP is working in “its own interest.” Which is in the interest of Revolution, who is in everybody’s best interest. When you get too effective, here comes the hit.


    A Supporter of Bob Avakian

    We are talking about Leader Bob Avakian, the leader of the RCP. A very charismatic leader. A very forthright leader. He is before his time, dead on point with his analysis born out of the Black Panther Party. Very committed to what he does—and he does it like none other.

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    If you look at him and judge him by the white skin you need to look a little bit deeper because he’s lots more than white skin. You have to look at the circumstances that gave birth to him and what he stands for for all those years and continues to stand for.

    Bob Avakian is a very great leader and he will do his absolute best whether you get behind him or not. He’s committed to the movement. He’s committed to making sure we have a better world to live in and committed to getting rid of oppression.

    You know, when you talk about getting rid of oppression you live in a world that is kind of like a glass cylinder. They are going to throw bricks when the person is pulling the shade, or exposing their deeds. And Bob Avakian has done that like none other. He has exposed their deeds and they are not in the least appreciative of it.

    So naturally they will try to throw their darts and attack him at any level and at any point they can. They are trying to pick, prick and find a weakness in his mantle but he has none. He knows that the only way to beat this system is to dismantle this system and break this system and get free of this system. And to create a new system that is above the oppression of all people. He wants a world where all people can exist free of oppression and free of crushing one another to get on top as the capitalist-imperialist does.

    None has exposed this movement like Bob Avakian. I learned SO MUCH under my short tenure and studying under the revolution about the way this system operates and the things that they do that are maniacal. Forthright maniacal and deviant in their nature to undermine a populace that has already been downtrodden.

    We know the tricks of COINTELPRO—divide and conquer. We know the history. We know how they killed Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, the various Black Panther Party leaders. And not only how they killed the Black Panther Party leaders—how they moved on all of the political organizations of that time to dismantle, disrupt and destroy those movements. So we have history of this.

    And Bob Avakian has not been silent about it. He’s not held his tongue. He’s not kowtowed and kissed ass like many other leaders do to appease the government. You’ve got to respect a man like that. You’ve GOT to respect a man like that.

    I myself was leery at the first onsight of coming in to the movement. But as I began to read the material and become immersed in the material and do my studies with the RCP I found out that the man was just unmasking a very wicked, wicked capitalist-imperialist bourgeoisie nation that downtrods and grinds the bones of the less fortunate. How do you build yourself on the crushed bodies of others? And this nation has done that like none other nation.

    This nations, if ever brought to bear for the crimes—it’s crimes it’s done against the Native American people, it’s crimes it’s done against the African-American people alone! If they were brought to bear for just THOSE crimes they’d have enough to pay. But yet and still Bob Avakian exposes that there is a continued process—they haven’t given up, they haven’t given way to the way they do things, to the ways they operate.

    So it’s important to immerse yourself in the knowledge of the movement of Bob Avakian and to support this leader. And to protect him at all costs. Protect him at all costs. Because they have killed enough of our leaders. So we have to form a strong web around him and protect him. Thank you.

    My name is Hannibal Salim Ali and I’m a supporter of Bob Avakian.

    Bob Avakian, A Radically Different Leader—A Whole New Framework for Human Emancipation

     

    Read more   

  • ARTICLE:

    Reposted from Counterpunch:

    Why is “the Left” Red-Baiting Rise Up for Abortion Rights on the Eve of Fascist Destruction?

    Editors’ Note: This article by Paul Street, historian and author, originally appeared at Counterpunch.org, August 1.

    Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights leads people across Brooklyn Bridge May 26, 2022 to stop overturning Roe v Wade

     

    Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights leads people across Brooklyn Bridge May 26, 2022 to stop overturning Roe v. Wade    Photo: riseup4abortionrights.org

    There’s nothing new in United States history about the slanderous demonization of those who step up and fight to make a better world from the bottom up. From at least the Molly Maguires (1870s) and the Haymarket Martyrs (1880s) through the rise of the House Un-American Activities in the late 1930s, the 1950s McCarthy terror, and the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO war on Black and New Left leaders during the 1960s and 1970s to Donald Trump’s description of George Floyd protesters as “radical Left terrorists who want to destroy our country,” those who lead the struggle for progress have long been subject to smears that encourage and justify repression.

    Libelous Red Baiting and “Cult”-Charging

    Still, it’s bracing and a little bizarre in 2022 to see an anti-Communist jihad launched from “the left” (see below) against an organization that has been fighting to defend something commonly identified with mainstream liberalism: the right to an abortion.

    I am referring to recent attacks directed at Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights (RU4AR), the organization that has led the struggle against the Christian Fascist war on women’s right to control their own reproductive lives. Each of the charges made against the organization is false and libelous, including preposterous and baseless claims of financial corruption, anti-transgenderism, anti-gayness, indifference to the need for abortion services, and indifference to the plight of people caught up in the horror of prostitution (what some liberal progressives offensively call “sex work”).

    None of the false claims made against RU4AR is more provocative and chilling than the claim that it is nothing more than a “front group” for the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP), which is in turn described as “a cult” under the spell of Bob Avakian.

    The “evidence” for this accusation consists of the facts that one of the group’s three co-founders, Sunsara Taylor, is an open RCP leader and Avakian follower, and that RCP members (“revcoms”) have been visible and vocal at RU4AR rallies.

    The “communist front” claim is a ridiculous insult to Taylor, who makes no effort to hide her politics. It is an even bigger affront to RU4AR’s other two esteemed feminist founders, neither of whom are revolutionary communists and both of whom are capable of picking movement allies with eyes open: the legendary founder of Choices Women’s Medical Center Merle Hoffman and Lori Sokol, the executive director of Women’s e-News.

    The red and cult-baiting is unjustly offensive also to the tens of thousands of concerned and active citizens who have taken up RU4AR’s calls for mass action and civil disobedience because the calls match their sense of what is required in the battle against the female enslavement that is forced motherhood.

    Is it really surprising and problematic that revcoms have followed Taylor into RU4AR? Consistent with Avakian’s writing and speaking over decades, the RCP has long and correctly placed the struggle against patriarchy (along with the struggles against white supremacy and against Christian fundamentalism) at the center of its fight for socialist revolution. It would be bizarre if revcoms had not rightly taken up RU4AR’s fight for abortion rights.

    The “cult” charge is rooted in a slanderous identification of leadership with slavish devotion to a single individual. Do RU4AR’s “left” haters think JPMorgan Chase is a “Jamie Dimon cult?”? Do they honestly believe that RCP members would continue to follow Avakian if he became a Christian nationalist, a Marine Le Pen supporter, a climate denier, and/or a Rastafarian who claims that covid vaccines are “the work of the devil”? (One can agree or disagree with Avakian’s politics and theories, but anyone who has had any serious contact with the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist RCP knows that the “cult” charge is ridiculous and contrary to Avakian’s consistent call for people to study, organize, and unite broadly across sectarian and ideological lines.)

    What “Socialist Feminists” and Other “Grassroots Repros” Did the Day After Roe Fell

    Perhaps the most curious and telling thing about the attack is that it has come initially and mainly from “the left.” The lead red-baiting anti-communist attackers have been the liberal and progressive journals Jezebel and The Intercept, and 23 “grassroots repro” groups led by the self-described “intersectional socialist-feminist collective” New York City for Abortion Rights (NYC4AR).

    Here’s something to reflect upon: one day after the US Supreme Court tore up women’s constitutional right to an abortion in the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling, NYC4AR didn’t produce and disseminate a critique of the decision and a call for mass resistance. No, it put up and spread an elaborate Instagram post making all the ridiculous and baseless charges mentioned above. It called for the shutting down of RU4AR, the one group that has called people into the streets to demand legal abortion nationwide for the last eight months, going back to when the Supreme Court first heard oral arguments on Dobbs.

    That’s how NYC“4AR” responded to the undoing of Roe v. Wade.

    For real.

    Here are the names of the groups that signed NYC“4AR”’s hate post, issued one day after Dobbs: Reproductive Justice Collective; United Against Racism & Fascism (NYC); Fund Abortion Not Police; Feminist Collages (NYC); Shout Your Abortion; Washington Square Park Mutual Aid; Buckle Bunnies (Texas); Mujeres en Resistencia (NY/NJ); Abortion Access Front; Reproductive Freedom Fund (NH); The Jane Fund (Massachusetts); Reproductive Rights Coalition (Charlotte, NC); Tigers for Choice (Texas); Chicago Abortion Fund; National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund; SWOP Brooklyn; Brooklyn People’s March; Forward Midwifery; SMAbortionActivists; New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; Women’s Information Network of NYC (WIN-NYC); Chicago Democratic Socialists of America Socialist Feminist Working Group.

    Think about that: Roe is reversed and one day later, 23 “grassroot repro” groups (many backed by corporate-bankrolled corporations and financial institutions), including a part of the Chicago DSA chapter, are seen with their names affixed to a COINTELPRO-like assault on the group that led a six-month nationwide protest campaign under the slogan “Post-Roe, Hell No!”- an assault issued by a group that actually calls itself a “socialist-feminist collective.”

    What did you do the day after Roe fell, dear reader? RU4AR members led rallies outside the Court chanting “This decision must not stand, legal abortion across the land!” Literally from the minute the ruling came down, they called for its reversal and for the Biden administration and Congress to use their powers to make abortion legal and available in every state in the country.

    How “communist cult” of them!

    The Instagram attack, trolling RU4AR across the Internet (through the dark magic of hashtags) like white on rice, is surely one of the most sordid episodes in the history of what passes for “the left” in the 21st Century USA. It’s called doing the work of the right from “the portside.”

    The fascist right appreciated the hit jobs. RU4AR’s “left” haters’ smear campaign was picked up by the neo-Nazi Daily Caller and the fascist police state zine Law Enforcement Today.

    Other takers have included the sensationalist pop-cultural Daily Beast and the masculinist “guy culture” zine MEL Magazine, which proudly includes a bold section on “Dicks.”

    Undeterred by alliance with the far right, the “left” red-baiting and “cult”-shaming of RU4AR has more recently been disseminated by the “socialist Twitch streamer” and “progressive Democrat” Hasan Piker, who recently repeated the vicious and moronic claim that RU4AR is an “anti-trans hate group.”

    How COINTELPRO: fomenting progressive division and ratting out revolutionaries and radicals, setting them up for repression from fascists within and beyond the state.

    On the Eve of Fascist Consolidation

    This attack is especially reckless and insidious because of the historical moment in which it is taking place. As RU4AR has insisted throughout, the Dobbs decision is a leading judicial battering ram in a many-sided fascist offensive meant to eviscerate what’s left of bourgeois democracy and rule of law in the U.S. The “left” smear campaign against RU4AR comes amidst the most egregious systemic attack on US democracy since the Civil War. This is unprecedently perilous moment, with the liberal and moderate center unable to hold. Republifascists are marching forward across “red” America and preparing to seize triple-branch national power over the next two and a half years. The country is saturated with assault rifles and other lethal firearms, dangerously concentrated in the hands of a determined and paranoid right-wing. Attacks like the ones recently launched on RU4AR play into the repressive hand of the state and the right. They put lives at risk

    This is how liberal and “left” outlets, groups, and individuals like “socialist-feminist” NYC4AR, the 23 “repro” groups, the Chicago DSA Socialist Feminist Working Group, Jezebel, the Intercept, and Hasan Piker spend their energies in this moment? Seriously?

    Ten Explanations

    Which brings me to the money question: WHY? What on Earth would compel liberal and “left” writers and “activists” to launch an anti-Communist jihad against an organization that has been fighting fiercely to defend and expand abortion rights?

    There are ten basic reasons:

    +1. Ideological, organizational, financial, and political commitment to insider strategies of elite lobbying and major party electioneering: the very same failed, top-down approaches that RU4AR rightly denounces as insufficient and inadequate, indeed as complicity. Beneath this commitment lay longstanding professional and liberal class fears and distrust of the masses and the financial umbilical cord linking many “repro” and “choice” NGOs to corporate-captive foundations that are tied into the neoliberal corporate and imperialist Democratic Party – that is, to the vaguely liberal wing of the ruling class, which has no interest in RU4AR’s mission of sparking masses to march to disrupt business (rule) as usual in the streets and public squares. As a leading Chicago RU4AR activist tells me, “Our ‘left’ attackers’ commitment to a status quo that is going over to counter-revolution” means “going after those who would dare to stand up to the status quo (Rise Up) and even call for its overthrow (Revcoms).”

    +2. Fury at being called out for their advance surrender to the reversal of Roe v. Wade. As the Chicago activist told me last week: “Their thesis was ‘We can’t organize to stop SCOTUS from doing whatever it’s going to do, we can only rely on the Democrats.’ Rise Up had a very different narrative:

    ‘We won abortion rights by mass struggle, that’s what will shake the powers-that-be into stepping back from their woman-hating assault. Raise questions about the legitimacy of their institutions!’ Rise Up PUT THE LIE to the mainstream choice and ‘repro’ groups’ whole narrative. It was on the ground organizing tens of thousands to try to save Roe from the start, beginning last January.”

    Indeed. Had the “left” pro-choice groups joined RU4AR, they might well have helped rescue Roe or at least significantly limited the damage.

    +3. Jealousy. RU4AR has challenged the “choice” establishment’s appeasement with great talent and élan. Thanks in no small part to the skills and experience of its revcom-affiliated volunteers, RU4AR knew and knows how to organize and stage powerful, attention-grabbing actions and rallies. It demonstrated these abilities in militant fashion, shaming by both word and deed those “abortion activists” who chose submission, passivity, and cynical electoral politics and fundraising over serious resistance in the half-year leading up to Roe’s reversal.

    +4. Turf protection: fear of losing membership and contribution ground to a new, militant and attention-grabbing organization that rightly undertook provocative direct actions along with dedicated popular recruitment to mobilize mass popular opposition to the emergence of the post-Roe era now upon us.

    +5. Click-bait: salacious conspiracy-mongering attracts eyeballs and subscribers. Charging RU4AR with “hijacking” a legitimate liberal cause in service to a mysterious “communist cult” is a bright shiny object, irresistible to some writers and editors even or especially at some “left” outlets.

    +6. Historical and experiential ignorance. Perhaps this is too kind (it probably is), but the McCarthy era and COINTELPRO are distant memories for most people younger than 70.  It strikes me as possible that some if not many of RU4AR’s haters have little to no idea that they are walking in some very ugly historical grooves by engaging in an anti-communist witch hunt. Not to overdo the “forgive them for they know not what they do” line, but they have likely also had relatively little if any exposure to serious Marxist-Leninist thinkers and activists like Avakian, Taylor, and the revcoms, something that makes them prone to paranoid-style narratives on “communists under your bed.”

    +7. Failure to grasp the dire historical moment. The “grassroots abortion activists” and “democratic socialists” attacking RU4AR do not understand and in some cases deprecate RU4AR and the RCP’s observation that we are now facing a fascist section of the ruling class that is growing and poised to come back into power with literal vengeance. This fascism-denial and indifference is part of why they see no problem in recklessly joining the right (e.g., the Daily Caller and Law Enforcement Times) in denouncing communists within the abortion rights movement.

    +8. Fake-“socialist” inability to grasp the necessity of revolution. RCPers within and outside RU4AR consistently and (in this writer’s carefully considered opinion) rightly call out “democratic socialists’” pitifully tame commitment to incremental and economistic reformism – and their refusal to break with the underlying system and parties of capitalism-imperialism. It’s questionable whether RU4AR’s “socialist” haters even grasp the critique. As the aforementioned Rise Up activist tells me: “DSA is so settled into the imperialist U.S. status quo and so mired in the ‘fight for more’ of the spoils of empire that they can’t see any need for let alone possibility of an actual revolution. (I’m not sure they care or know of let alone understand RCP’s and Avakian’s critique of social democracy.) They’re too busy being ‘realistic’ and that’s their stance toward the loss of Roe: they’re being ‘realistic’ and Rise Up is just ‘showboating,’ they think. And now their non- or anti-revolutionary position has gone over to active counter-revolution.”

    +9. Sleepy “woke” uber-identitarianism: the utterly false claim that RU4AR is anti-transgender is intimately related to the preposterous notion that one “excludes” transgender people (who account for a tiny percentage of pregnancies) when one makes the obviously correct observation that the Christian fascist war on abortion rights is fundamentally a patriarchal campaign to deepen the oppression and control of women and girls. It’s another example of “oppression Olympics,” a noxious spin on bourgeois identity politics claiming that “trans men are more oppressed than women and girls so that’s who we have to center our politics on.”

    +10. Desire to appropriate RU4AR’s tactics and absorb them into the dismal Dems’ top-down insider strategy. Some mainstream “choice” forces are now, post-Roe, deploying the green bandana, the Latin American abortion rights symbol popularized in the USA by RU4AR. They are also getting arrested outside the Supreme Court, as did RU4AR activists before the Dobbs decision. The mainstream trick here is to take these effective tactics without admitting that they were pioneered by a militant organization that included – what horror! – communist activists and a communist co-founder (Sunsara Taylor). The establishment NGO groups now wearing green and engaging in civil disobedience are trying to deceptively attach their approach of “there’s nothing we can do, vote blue no matter who” to a symbol of real resistance. They are trying to cover up the capitulation of the Democratic Party to this fascist assault on the basic civil and human rights of women and girls.

    Such is the grotesque and tortured “logic” behind the sorry spectacle of the shameful “left” neo-McCarthyite attack on the nation’s leading abortion rights organization in the wake of the Dobbs decision – an organization that would not have been formed had the country’s reigning Democratic Party-affiliated “choice” groups not chosen to surrender in advance – please see Karen Attiah’s remarkable Washington Post editorial “ ‘The Art of Losing the Abortion War,’ for Our Dear American Leaders” – to the end of Roe v. Wade.

    Paul Street’s latest book is This Happened Here: Amerikaners, Neoliberals, and the Trumping of America (London: Routledge, 2022).

     

  • ARTICLE:

    What to Learn—and What NOT to Learn—From the Kansas Referendum on Abortion

    Four Points of Orientation

    Kansas abortion-rights activists hold rally outside statehouse, Topeka

     

    July 30, Topeka, Kansas. Hundreds of people occupied the Kansas Statehouse to protest against an amendment that explicitly states that women do not have a constitutional right to abortion. Many women stepped forward to tell their own personal stories, including one woman who talked about how she needed an abortion when she got out of an abusive relationship. This same day, in Lawrence, Kansas, 60 people gathered at the Douglas County Courthouse to march downtown to protest the amendment. (The amendment was later defeated at the polls on August 2.)    Credit: Twitter @RosieRiveterDFW

    On Tuesday, August 2, voters in Kansas overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have opened up the pathway for extreme anti-abortion bans. This is a good thing. It means that, at least for now, women across Kansas and at least some in surrounding states where abortion has recently been banned in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning abortion protections nationwide will be able to access abortions in Kansas. But it is crucial that those who support women’s fundamental right to abortion draw the right lessons from this experience and not the wrong lessons. With this in mind, here are four crucial points of orientation:

    1There is a tremendous reservoir of potential fury, commitment and determination among millions and millions of women and others throughout society to fight for abortion rights and women’s liberation.

    Millions and millions throughout this society are deeply furious and terrified about the growing assault on abortion and the hatred for women that is driving it. The energy and passion with which a great many women and others campaigned against the Kansas amendment provides a window into the depth of fury and energy and commitment that could be and urgently needs to be unleashed in a massive struggle in the streets to win back the legal right to abortion nationwide.

    2 “Clever messaging” that obscures how the fight over abortion rights concentrates whether women will be enslaved or emancipated aids the women-haters and fascists.

    The Economist concisely summed up the approach taken by the dominant forces of the Democratic Party and the pro-choice establishment this way:

    The pro-choice campaign triumphed through smart strategy. Instead of slogans explicitly about abortion, it emphasised personal liberty and privacy. The front of the main leaflet distributed by Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the cannily named group opposing the amendment, simply read “it’s up to us to keep Kansans free”. Television adverts urged viewers to “say no to more government control.” Ashley All of Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the main group opposing the amendment, says that such messages resonated with a broad group of voters. “Not just progressives” explains Ms All, but also conservatives and libertarians “who really just don’t want government in their business.”

    No! A huge part of why the Christian fascist fanatics have succeeded in seizing more and more political ground, capturing more and more levers of state power all the way up to the Supreme Court, and are now overturning abortion protections and banning abortion in growing numbers of states across the country, is precisely because the Democratic Party and the pro-choice “movement” which has been slavishly subordinated to it has for decades avoided taking them on frontally and calling them out for enslaving women.

    What is needed, in contrast, is a full-throated fight for all women to have access in all circumstances of their choosing to LEGAL ABORTION ON DEMAND AND WITHOUT APOLOGY. We need to tell the truth that forced motherhood is female enslavement and unleash the fury of women and others who care about justice to fight with all we’ve got with these stakes in mind.

    3 The fight over abortion is not momentary or superficial. It is not just about who will come out ahead in one or another election cycle. It is deeply rooted in the oppression of women and the patriarchal family, and these are deeply rooted in the system of capitalism-imperialism that we live under.

    The life span of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 and which was overturned this past June, coincided with truly profound changes in the social position of women throughout society and profound changes in the family as an institution. Owing both to major economic changes in the world and in the U.S., as well as to the ferocious struggle of women for their liberation, women have entered into public life and into work in ways that were unheard of just a few generations ago. None of this would’ve been possible without access to abortion and to birth control.

    Yet, as Bob Avakian wrote in his 2021 New Year’s Statement:

    [T]he elimination of male supremacy is impossible within the confines of this system. This is true because male supremacy has been deeply woven into the fabric of this society, and because this system is based on capitalist commodity relations and exploitation—things are produced to be exchanged (sold), through a process in which masses of people work, for a wage or salary, to create profit that is accumulated by capitalists who employ them and control their work—a system in which the patriarchal family unit remains an essential economic and social component and requirement, even as it is being put under increasing strains. And the fascist section of the ruling class has, over a number of decades now, waged a relentless attack on Constitutional rights, and mobilized their social base of religious fundamentalist fanatics, to forcefully and often violently assert “traditional” patriarchal oppression—with the assault on the right to abortion, and even birth control, a major focus of this attempt to essentially enslave women. (Bolding at the end is mine.]

    This should help make clear why the fanatical assault on abortion rights has been as ferocious as it has been over decades—bombing clinics, killing doctors, harassing and shaming millions of women at clinic doors. It explains why they have not remained a fringe movement, but have been elevated within and then increasingly captured the Republican Party and major levers of state power. And it sheds light on why they will not be appeased or thrown off course by losing an electoral referendum here or there.

    It also points to why, ultimately, putting an end to the oppression of women and fully defeating this Christian fascist assault on abortion that is so deeply entrenched in this society will take a total revolution. And why, even short of that, millions need to break out of the killing confines of this system’s elections to wage massive political resistance and struggle to beat back this assault.

    4 A radical resolution for women is coming. It will be a decisive part of the fight for the future overall. Whether it will be enslaving or emancipating depends on what we do.

    Whatever temporary setbacks or local defeats the Christian fascist haters of women may suffer along the way—and let’s be clear, right now, in state after state they are mainly succeeding in banning abortion—they are not going to relent until they are decisively defeated. This can be seen in the fact that, a few days after the Kansas vote, Indiana passed an extremely repressive law against abortion, effectively wiping out the right. As Bob Avakian went on to quote from an earlier work of his in that New Year’s Statement:

    The whole question of the position and role of women in society is more and more acutely posing itself in today’s extreme circumstances—this is a powderkeg in the U.S. today. It is not conceivable that all this will find any resolution other than in the most radical terms and through extremely violent means. The question yet to be determined is: will it be a radical reactionary or a radical revolutionary resolution, will it mean the reinforcing of the chains of enslavement or the shattering of the most decisive links in those chains and the opening up of the possibility of realizing the complete elimination of all forms of such enslavement.

    It is time for all those who care about women and justice overall to cast off illusions and prepare for struggle. To break out of the killing confines of this system’s elections and the capitulating terms of the Democrats and the so-called “movement.” To unleash the fury of women as a powerful force standing up against this fascist tide and demanding legal abortion on demand and without apology nationwide. To unite all who can be united in this fight from many different perspectives standing together as is being fought for by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights. And, for growing numbers of people to lift their sights to and wage this fight as an organized part of the movement for revolution so that we can truly and finally break all the chains.

     

  • ARTICLE:

    Fighting for the Right to Abortion:
    Sights and Sounds, July 31-August 6

    Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights:

    Andy Zee interviews Victoria Eggers from the LA chapter of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights and Vet Rise 4 Roe, Episode 113 of The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show.

    Austin, Texas

    Austin Texas blocking intersections demanding legal abortion nationwide

     

    August 6, Austin, Texas. Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights organized a Weekend of Rage March where people took over several intersections along South Congress to demand, “Legal abortion across this land!”    Photo: Casey Cunningham

    Coco Das at August 6 Austin Protest

     

    Coco Das at August 6 Austin protest.   

    Speaking in at the action in Austin on August 6, Coco Das from Refuse Fascism posed:

    Why with such a dismal record on maternal health is Texas so focused on banning abortion? Why has Ken Paxton spent his time suing the Biden administration arguing that Texas should not have to abide by a federal law that requires doctors to perform emergency procedures – including abortions – to save the life of a mother.

    Because this state is run by Christian fundamentalist lunatics – by fascists who have used the mantle of Christianity to rise to power and consolidate their power. If they are not the physical descendants, they are the spiritual and moral descendants of the slave holders and segregationists who founded and dominated this state until the civil rights and liberation movements of the 60s.  These white supremacist, woman and LGBTQ hating, xenophobic, fanatical theocrats have taken over the Texas GOP, and they are gleeful over the suffering and death of people in this state and let’s be real, even their own people can be sacrificed in the service of their cause.

    … We do not choose the times we live in. We do not choose when we are born. But we can choose how we act in this moment. We can choose if we are going to hand over the future of our children to these lunatics or if we are going to wage a fierce struggle for a whole different world, which IS possible and no one knows that better than these fascists.

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    Seattle

    Banner drop in Seattle, August 4 over Interstate 5 in Seattle. Overwhelmingly the response was honks and cheering. One person leaned out of her car window frantically waving her own green bandana when she saw us! That passion needs to return to the streets and grow into a massive green wave that makes our demand undeniable. 

    Holding banner Legal Abortion Nationwide Now on overpass

     

    Honolulu, Hawaii

    "This is what we need! How can I help?" "What can I do if I live on another island?" "Outrageous!" "This is insanity!" For 4 hours concert-goers shared their outrage, told their stories, eagerly reached for stickers and leaflets, and signed up to find out more about the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights movement as they stood in the line to get into the Jack Johnson concert.

    Two women with Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights stickers

     

    Across the Country:

    Indianapolis, Indiana

    July 30, Indianapolis, Indiana. A few hundred abortion rights activists gathered to protest as Senate Bill 1 which bans most abortions in Indiana was passed and will now move to the House for approval.

    Indiana Abortion ban protest

     

    Topeka, Kansas

    July 30, Topeka, Kansas. Hundreds of people occupied the Kansas Statehouse to protest against an amendment that explicitly states that women do not have a constitutional right to abortion. Many women stepped forward to tell their own personal stories, including one woman who talked about how she needed an abortion when she got out of an abusive relationship. This same day, in Lawrence, Kansas, 60 people gathered at the Douglas County Courthouse to march downtown to protest the amendment. (The amendment was later defeated at the polls on August 2.)

    Kansas abortion-rights activists hold rally outside statehouse, Topeka

     

    Mount Desert, Maine

    July 31, Mount Desert, Maine. For the last few weeks area residents have been gathering across from the home of Leonard Leo, who protesters say was directly responsible for overturning Roe v. Wade and the erosion of reproductive rights. Leo is co-chairman and former executive vice president of the Federalist Society, a legal organization of conservatives and right-wing libertarians that advocates the appointment of anti-abortion judges to the federal courts. Leo advised Trump on the appointment of the reactionary judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.

    Chalk on roadway in front of the house of Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society, Mount Desert, Maine

     

    Boise, Idaho.

    August 3. About 500 people gathered for a pro-abortion rights rally at the state’s capitol. The first speaker was a vet who said, "Today I am faced with my reproductive freedoms being taken away by a country that I served. I have to worry about if the law will leave me to die in an Idaho hospital if I need a lifesaving abortion, leaving my three children motherless. This isn't the free America that our service members fight and die for." The rally featured a number of people running for office. After the rally people took to the streets to march down Capitol Boulevard.

    Casper, Wyoming

    August 3. Contending groups gathered at the Wellsprings Health Access clinic, which provides abortions. There are anti-abortion protests here weekly. But on this day, abortion rights activists also gathered to celebrate a judge’s ruling to block a ban on abortion, carrying signs like, “Right to life is a lie, you don’t care if women die!” The clinic’s opening was set for this summer but had to be delayed after an arson attack.

    Teton County, Wyoming

    August 3. After a judge in Teton County temporarily blocked Wyoming’s abortion ban, people rallied for abortion rights on Town Square. Some said they came for personal reasons and talked about how their lives had been impacted by an unplanned pregnancy or unexpected complications that required an abortion.

    Saskatoon, Canada

    August 1. About 100 pro-choice activists rallied for a “my body my choice” march. The action was done to draw attention to the fight for abortion rights in the United States and to call for access to reproductive rights in Canada. One of the organizers said, “We are human beings. In front of being a mother, a sister, a daughter, we are human beings first and our roles as women are important but they do not define us as human beings.” 

    Winnipeg, Canada

    August 4. More than 100 people on bicycles and skates took to the streets to show solidarity with those fighting for the right to abortion in the U.S. and to highlight struggle in Canada. One issue protesters highlighted was the lack of abortion rights for women living in the rural areas of Canada. People gathered at the Manitoba Legislative Building in downtown Winnipeg and then rode/skated to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

    In the Arts

    Robbie Conal

    Acclaimed guerilla artist Robbie Conal produced this powerful animation and accompanying posters depicting the six Supreme Court "justices" who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade. In 1991 he produced a poster depicting former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist with the phrase “GAG ME WITH A COAT HANGER” referring to the "gag rule" introduced under Ronald Reagan that banned doctors from counseling patients about abortion.   

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  • ARTICLE:

    VIDEO:

    A Pivotal Part of the Strategy For Revolution: The Struggle to Transform the Thinking of the People

    A Pivotal Part of the Strategy For Revolution: The Struggle to Transform the Thinking of the People
    An excerpt from The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show, episode #113
  • ARTICLE:

    FBI Raid on the African People’s Socialist Party:
    A Chilling “Message,” an Act of State Repression

    On July 29, the FBI raided the St. Louis, Missouri home of Omali Yeshitela, the leader of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) and the Uhuru Movement. The APSP and the Uhuru Movement are Black nationalist organizations with a history going back to the early 1970s of opposing U.S. imperialism and the oppression of Black people.

    Local news coverage said the raid took place at 5 am, and the FBI used flashbang grenades to startle the occupants of the home. Yeshitela and his wife were detained in handcuffs during the search. According to Yeshitela, scores of agents and local police in combat gear with automatic weapons broke down his door, broke windows, and sent a drone into his house nearly hitting his wife.

    At the same time, the FBI staged raids on different offices of the Uhuru Movement in St. Louis and St. Petersburg, Florida, including the office of the APSP’s radio station and newspaper, Burning Spear.

    Omali Yeshitela, leader of the African People's Socialist Party, points to damage done in the FBI raid on his home.

     

    Omali Yeshitela, leader of the African People's Socialist Party, points to damage done in the FBI raid on his home.   

    The FBI claims these raids were to gather evidence in a criminal case against a Russian national, Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who is in Russia. The indictment of Ionov does not name APSP or Uhuru but refers to “Unindicted Co-Conspirators” (UICs) whose location, description, and activities, as laid out in the indictment and in a Department of “Justice” press release correspond to the APSP and Uhuru (for example, identifying dates and locations where the APSP ran or supported candidates for local public office in 2017 and 2019 while not explicitly naming the organization). Among other charges, the indictment claims Ionov funded candidates in U.S. elections, and the descriptions match candidates the APSP and Uhuru ran for mayor and city council in St. Petersburg.1

    Including UICs in indictments is a legal device that the FBI has used to justify “investigating” (harassing, intimidating, spying on, and isolating) people not charged with crimes.2 In this case, the “Justice” Department indictment of Ionov has all the hallmarks of being a thin “legal” cover for going after APSP and Uhuru for their political views, and specifically at this time their justification and political support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.3

    There is a proxy war being fought out in Ukraine between the rival imperialist powers of Russia and the Western imperialist U.S./NATO bloc. Russia invaded Ukraine, and the U.S./NATO is arming the Ukrainian military and resistance against this invasion. Neither imperialist power, nor its acts and rhetoric, should be supported, from the standpoint of humanity. At the same time, the raids on APSP and Uhuru must be opposed by everyone who finds it unacceptable for the FBI and the U.S. government to move to silence views that are different from U.S. propaganda pumped out by its organs of mainstream media, especially those critical of the U.S. role in the world.

    A “Legal” Pretext, an Intimidating “Message” to Enforce Loyalty in Time of War

    In St. Louis, St. Petersburg, and nationally, TV news regurgitated and amplified FBI claims that the raids were a “crackdown” on “Russian propaganda.” This at a time when people in this country are being inundated with propaganda programming them to cheer on their “own” U.S. ruling class (really their own oppressors), pumping out U.S. chauvinism, and hate against anyone associated with Russia. A week after the raids and sensationalized coverage, a man with a flamethrower torched a red, black, and green Black nationalist flag flying outside the raided home. Police say he told them he didn't like "socialists" or the "ugly flag" he saw every day going to and from work.

    The so-called “evidence” in the indictment linking UICs—reportedly referring to APSP and Uhuru—to an operation of the Russian government includes statements circulated by APSP and Uhuru that “the war [in Ukraine] began 8 years ago, when the US and the EU brought new leadership to power in Kiev;” and that “pro-Western neo-fascists… shot thousands of civilians in Donbas.”

    Invoking such statements as “evidence” in a criminal case is a very dangerous attack on not just opposition to the U.S. role in the war in Ukraine, but to basic evidence-based critical thinking and dissent in general.

    • It is a matter of fact, not dependent on what position anyone takes on the nature of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that in 2014 (8 years ago), the United States did orchestrate regime change in Ukraine, replacing an elected Russia-leaning president with a pro-U.S. regime (see, for example, "What You Should Really Know About Ukraine" by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting).
    • Russia is lying when it claims one of its objectives in invading Ukraine was to “de-nazify” the country. But the fascist nature of the Azov Brigade that has been integrated into and is a significant factor within the Ukrainian military, particularly in fighting in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine (which historically has a large number of ethnically Russian people) is not lying Russian propaganda. This has been acknowledged even by CNN and other mainstream sources.
    • Accusations that Ukraine has committed war crimes that have resulted in deaths of civilians in the war are not simply Russian propaganda. A recent report by Amnesty International (AI) blames the deaths of civilians in the Donbas region on both Russian and on Ukrainian forces. And the AI report specifically documents that the Ukrainians, “violate international humanitarian law and endanger civilians, as they turn civilian objects into military targets” by staging attacks on Russian and pro-Russian neighborhoods from residential districts, hospitals, and schools in “clear violation of international humanitarian law.”

    Following the logic of the logic in this indictment, and the high-profile and massive militarized raids on APSP and Uhuru, a “message” is being potentially sent to all those who raise questions about, expose or criticize the “official story” presented by the rulers of the U.S. to justify and romanticize their brutal, bloody proxy war with Russia in Ukraine.

    It is important to note that every criminal war for empire waged by this country, including the proxy war in Ukraine, has been accompanied by violent suppression of dissent, shredding of civil liberties, and inciting blind rage against sections of people who the U.S. rulers worry might be disloyal.4 All to enforce a toxic cloud of ignorance about the actual nature of what this country does to people here and around the world through its wars for empire. And all efforts to suppress differences and dissent, protest and debate over what the U.S. does around the world, including the proxy war in Ukraine, must be condemned and opposed.

    _______________

    FOOTNOTES:

    1. The indictment alleges that Ionov provided financial support to electoral campaigns for local office by APSP and Uhuru members in St. Petersburg, Florida. By any measure, even if true, accusations of Russian backing for a campaign for a local political offices in St. Petersburg are ridiculously insignificant compared to the extensive history of U.S. involvement and interference in the elections of other countries. The rulers of the United States, as extensively documented in a study by Dov H. Levin, interfered with the national elections of 81 other countries from 1946 to 2000. These were not mayor or city council elections in smaller cities, they were national elections, including—as a matter of fact—presidential elections in Ukraine. And they haven’t stopped since. The accusations of Russian interference in a U.S. election law are a cynical pretext for gestapo-style raids on a Black nationalist organization that, from its perspective, opposes the U.S. role in Ukraine. [back]

    2. Unindicted co-conspirators have no legal recourse except to demand that their names not be published in official indictments. In a 2007 case against a Muslim charity accused of ties to Muslim fundamentalists in Palestine, the government’s indictment publicly named 246 people as unindicted co-conspirators. The ACLU filed a court motion demanding its clients be removed from the list as it violated their constitutional right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. In the case of the raids on APSP and Uhuru, the FBI is cynically absolving itself of violating the rights of APSP and Uhuru by not formally naming them, even as the descriptions of people and events, and the FBI’s statements justifying the raids, are full of details that reportedly point to the APSP and Uhuru. [back]

    3. In an article in APSP’s newspaper, Burning Spear ("The African People’s Socialist Party calls for unity with Russia’s defensive war in Ukraine against the world colonial powers," 5/22/2022), Omali Yeshitela writes that the war in Ukraine is a “defensive war being fought by Russia against the global colonial ruling class and its minions. Thus, it is absolutely necessary for Africans and all the victims of European colonialism to take a definitive stance in solidarity with Russia which, independent of its own consciousness, is fighting against the power of colonial slavery that has dominated the life of Africa and Africans for 600 years.” [back]

    4. Among countless examples: the jailing of Socialist Party leader Eugene Debs for a speech opposing World War I; the internment of 120,000 people of Japanese descent during World War II; the persecution of anti-war activists and whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg during the Vietnam War; demonization, detention, and violence against people perceived to be Muslims in the U.S. after 9/11 and the launching of the “War on Terror"; and the imprisonment of Chelsea Manning for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and the persecution and jailing of those who published that exposure. [back]

  • ARTICLE:

    U.S. “Commemorates” Its Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima…

    By Playing “Nuclear Chicken” with China… and Russia

    Seventy-seven years ago this month, America became the first—and only—country to ever use nuclear weapons, dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki, Japan (August 9), massacring between 210,000 and 220,000 people, overwhelmingly civilians.1

    The U.S. is “commemorating” this horrific anniversary by playing “chicken”2—with China in the Asia-Pacific region and Russia in Ukraine—escalating the threat and danger of nuclear war, whether begun deliberately, accidentally, or through miscalculation.3

    mushroomcloud.jpg

     

    Mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.   

    Pelosi Goes to Taiwan—Escalates U.S. Moves against Imperialist Rival China

    On August 2-3, Democratic Party leader and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi went to the island of Taiwan—the highest-ranking U.S. official in 25 years to do so. With this visit, she aggressively ratcheted up the already extremely dangerous, expand-or-die imperialist rivalry between the U.S. and China over which will be the dominating exploiter in the Asia-Pacific region, and the world. And she did so knowing full well it would be seen by China’s rulers—who are capitalist-imperialists4 in global competition with the U.S.—as an act of aggression against them and interference in China’s “internal” affairs. In other words, a major—and dangerous—provocation, against a heavily nuclear armed rival!

    Taiwan sits 112 miles off China’s coast (some 6,500 miles from the U.S. West Coast). China’s capitalist rulers have continued to claim Taiwan as part of their sovereign territory, given the historic links, despite it now being governed independently.5 The U.S. has de-facto informally recognized this since 1979, as the U.S. established close relations with the capitalist rulers of China. Taiwan is strategically vital, because of its location in a major manufacturing hub and one of the busiest trade routes in the world. It is highly militarized with U.S.-supplied weapons, and its contested status is a dangerous potential flashpoint for a major war.

    The U.S. is increasingly arming and bolstering Taiwan as part of “containing” China, as a deterrent to any possible Chinese attempts to invade and absorb Taiwan into its territory, and as an effort to maintain U.S. domination of the Asia-Pacific region, in the face of a rising Chinese imperialism and challenges it poses to the U.S. empire. China has increasingly declared its intention to “reunify” Taiwan with the mainland as part of its stepped-up efforts to project economic, political and military power throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Pelosi’s visit was accompanied and followed by major Chinese military exercises and shows of strength.

    There are voices even within the U.S. ruling class expressing concerns about where all this is going. New York Times columnist and rabid cheerleader for U.S. global dominance Thomas Friedman denounced Pelosi’s trip as utterly reckless, dangerous and irresponsible.” A former Obama official summed up, “This is an exceptionally dangerous situation, perhaps more so than Ukraine. … The risks of escalation are immediate and substantial.”6 CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria, a U.S. national security expert, called it “a hair-raising crisis that could spill into a military conflict.” [Emphasis added.]

    At the same time, there remains overall consensus within U.S. ruling circles—including among those expressing concerns over Pelosi’s trip—that China poses the greatest danger to U.S. world dominance and that the U.S. must step up its efforts to weaken, curb and contain China. 

    While U.S. Secretary of State Blinken blamed China for the escalation of tensions,7 there was hardly any mention in the U.S. media of four American warships positioned east of Taiwan, including the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan… or the military exercises the U.S. launched with its allies Indonesia, Australia and Japan on the same day China began its exercises… or that the U.S. imperialists spend $801 billion a year on their military, more than double what China does.8

    Mainstream U.S. media are propaganda organs of this system, a core part of the capitalist-imperialist system—in this case, fanning American chauvinism and brainwashing people into supporting America and “our” imperialists in their battles with their rivals.

    BAsics 1-3 English

     

    And Meanwhile, Back in the Ukraine…

    This sharp escalation of the U.S.-China rivalry is happening as the U.S./NATO proxy war with Russia in Ukraine is grinding on, with Russia trying to firmly seize big swaths of eastern Ukraine and the U.S. and its allies continuing to flood Ukraine with heavy arms—so far more than $51 billion worth by the U.S. alone.

    (For deeper analysis of the Ukraine war, see these and other articles by Bob Avakian: “The War in Ukraine and the Interests of Humanity: A Scientific Revolutionary Approach vs. Harmful Confusion and Chauvinist Delusion. Bob Avakian Responds to People Who Should Know Better (and Maybe Once Did),” “Word War 3 and Dangerous Idiocy,” “Ukraine: World War 3 Is the Real Danger, Not a Repeat of World War 2”; as well as other coverage at revcom.us, including: “As the U.S. Faces Setbacks in Ukraine: Death, Duplicity, Ruling Class Divisions… and the Danger of Far Worse.”)

    This conflict, too, has the potential for unpredictable and very dangerous escalation, even into nuclear conflict—as the imperialists and their mouthpieces are well aware! As the very same Friedman mentioned above commented, “This Ukraine war is SO not over, SO not stable, SO not without dangerous surprises that can pop out on any given day.” He then went on to point out that, among U.S. ruling circles, there is growing and “deep mistrust” of Ukraine president Zelensky, of his actions and his intentions—which flies in the face of U.S. public rhetoric glorifying and praising him. Given Friedman’s ruling class connections, this is speculation that is founded on a real basis. And this even further highlights the dangers of the U.S. and NATO continuing to arm and support Zelensky, who has worked tirelessly to draw U.S./NATO into further and more direct conflict with Russia. Friedman fears that with this brinksmanship, the U.S. could be “plunged into indirect conflicts with a nuclear-armed Russia and a nuclear-armed China at the same time.”9

    All this is “nuclear chicken” on steroids—escalating the danger of World War 3, and extremely dangerous for all of humanity!

    All of the U.S. media rhetoric echoing Nancy Pelosi’s comments on giving Taiwan “a choice between democracy and autocracy,” and similar talking points in the U.S.’s proxy war with Russia in Ukraine—this is lying, deadly bullshit. (See “Shameless American Chauvinism: ‘Anti-Authoritarianism’ as a ‘Cover’ for Supporting U.S. Imperialism,” by Bob Avakian.)

    BAsics 1-31 English

     

    It is way past time to sweep this monstrous genocidal system off the planet through an actual revolution—and this revolution is more possible now, in the very belly of the beast, the U.S. For more on WHY this is the case, and the roadmap to make it real, dig into Bob Avakian’s scientific and emancipating leadership—starting with 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

    The Republican Party Is Fascist

    The Democratic Party Is Also a Machine of Massive War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

    This System CANNOT Be Reformed—It MUST Be Overthrown!

    _______________

    FOOTNOTES:

    1. See the American Crime series article on revcom.us: August 6 and 9, 1945—The Nuclear Incineration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [back]

    2. “Nuclear chicken” is a termed used widely in mainstream media and political analyses. In explaining the term, historian Lawrence Wittner cited mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell, who suggested during the Cold War that the two sides were involved in a crazy version of the street game of “chicken”: “[Russell said] the game became ‘incredibly dangerous’ and ‘absurd’ when it was played by government officials ‘who risk not only their own lives but those of many hundreds of millions of human beings.’ Russell warned that ‘the moment will come when neither side can face the derisive cry of “Chicken!” from the other side.’ When that moment arrived, ‘the statesmen of both sides will plunge the world into destruction.’” [back]

    3. “I think the tensions clearly are escalating, and we are closer to nuclear war than we’ve ever been. And we need to recognize that,” Ira Helfand, the former president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War said on Democracy Now!, August 4, 2022. “You know, the song that you played earlier in the show, ‘You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction,’ that’s the problem. We don’t believe it, because it is such a horrible reality that we’re confronting. But we better start believing it, because it’s true.” The head of the United Nations also warned last week that the world’s big nuclear powers had put humanity “one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” [back]

    4. Under the leadership of Mao Zedong, China was a revolutionary socialist country from 1949 to 1976. After Mao’s death in 1976, a violent capitalist coup overthrew socialism and brought back capitalism. The new rulers have continued to call themselves “socialist” and “communist,” but China is now a capitalist-imperialist power in contention with U.S. and other imperialist powers globally. For more on the history of the revolution in China and the whole first stage of communist revolution, see the Revolution special issue at revcom.us: You Don’t Know What You Think You “Know” About… The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future.  [back]

    5. Taiwan was part of China until 1949. When the revolutionary forces led by Mao Zedong came to power on the mainland, the pro-U.S. counter-revolutionary forces fled to and took over Taiwan, declaring themselves to be the “real” Chinese government. While China was still a socialist country (1949-1976), it maintained that Taiwan was legally part of China; this position was recognized by most of the world. After socialism was overthrown in China, the new capitalist rulers have continued to claim Taiwan. Taiwan is highly militarized with U.S.-supplied weapons, and its contested status is a dangerous potential flashpoint for a major war. [back]

    6. New York Times, August 2 [back]

    7. Blinken said, "There is no justification for this extreme, disproportionate and escalatory military response... now, they've taken dangerous acts to a new level." (Reuters, August 5) [back]

    8. U.S. Seeks to Reassure Asian Allies as China’s Military Grows Bolder, New York Times, August 5 [back]

    9. Why Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan Is Utterly Reckless, New York Times, August 1   [back]

  • ARTICLE:

    Member of Angola 3 Dies at Age 75

    Long Live the Spirit of Albert Woodfox, Inspiring Political Prisoner!

    Albert Woodfox recent

     

    Albert Woodfox.  Advocate staff photo by Max Becherer   

    I thought that my cause, then and now, was noble. So therefore, they could never break me. They might bend me a little bit. They might cause me a lot of pain. They might even take my life. But they will never be able to break me.

    Albert Woodfox, 2010 (during his 36th year in solitary confinement)

    On August 4, 2022, Albert Woodfox, one of the political prisoners known as the “Angola 3,”1 died as a result of COVID-19. Albert’s family issued this statement:

    With heavy hearts, we write to share that our partner, brother, father, grandfather, comrade and friend, Albert Woodfox, passed away this morning. Whether you know him as Fox, Shaka, Cinque, or Albert—he knew you as family. Please know that your care, compassion, friendship, love, and support have sustained Albert, and comforted him.

    Even in the long and foul history of America’s oppression of Black people, the deliberate torture and torment of the Angola 3 stands out for its barbarity. Each of them spent decades in solitary confinement in six-by-nine-foot cells, 23 hours a day, subjected to gassing and beating if they raised any complaint. For years they were even denied books, magazines or radios, in a deliberate effort by the authorities to break their spirits and sanity.

    Woodfox spent 44 years in solitary. When his mother died in 1994, he was denied permission to attend her funeral, and the same again when his sister died. Prison authorities admitted this entombment was aimed at stamping out or containing the radical political influence of the Angola 3 and the Black Panther Party with which they were affiliated.

    Yet what stands out even more sharply is the way in which the men—to use Bob Avakian’s phrase—“rose above the muck and the mire,” above the mere struggle for survival for oneself, above the dog-eat-dog mentality of capitalism, and soared to the heights as selfless fighters against the oppression of Black people and against the oppression and degradation of humanity as a whole.

    Albert Woodfox was born in New Orleans on February 19, 1947, and for the most part was raised there. Desperately poor, as a teen Albert stole bread and canned food for his family. When he was 18, petty crimes landed him at the huge Angola prison complex in Louisiana.2 Angola was not just built on the site of an old slave plantation, it operated like one. Black prisoners worked the fields while white prison guards on horses, armed with shotguns, acted as overseers. Any infraction could mean being fed into a network of rape by other prisoners, which was encouraged by the guards.

    Woodfox was released after eight months but then rearrested for armed robbery and sentenced to 50 years in prison. He fled to Harlem but was picked up and thrown into the Tombs3—New York City’s own hellhole of incarceration—for over a year.

    But in that time his whole life changed! Albert was imprisoned with members of the New York Panther 21, Black Panther leaders and activists who were framed on bogus charges of plotting terrorist attacks (all 21 were acquitted). The Panthers held great authority in the Tombs, not through fear but by treating people with respect and educating them to see the systemic racism of the U.S. capitalist system that had driven people into crime and prison, and that this was part of a broader system of oppression that needed to be gotten rid of. Prisoners were sharply challenged to get with that struggle instead of petty crime.

    Woodfox wrote later:

    It was as if a light went on in a room inside me that I hadn’t known existed. I had morals, principles and values I never had before. I would never be a criminal again.

    Albert took this spirit back to Angola. He hooked up with Herman Wallace (later joined by Robert King) to form a Black Panther chapter there. One of the first things they did was to insist on an end to sexual violence among the prisoners. They fought for reading matter, for decent food, and other improvements. They used the Panthers’ 10-Point Program as a guide both for study and for action, and worked to stay connected to the radical movements nationally.

    And Woodfox also immersed himself in the study of radical and revolutionary thinkers, from George Jackson and Frantz Fanon to communist leaders Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong. Albert developed a lifelong discipline of getting up in the quiet of 3 a.m. to read for two hours each day.

    Woodfox commented that his attitude towards people changed as he took on this role, which gave him the strength to fight on:

    You know, throughout all this, I developed an unbelievable love for humanity and dedicated myself to doing whatever I can to better humanity.… And I thought what we were doing was a noble cause. So we were prepared. And so the beatings and the gassings and the decades of solitary confinement, you know, was really—although painful and difficult, it never got to the point where they were able to break us.

    Albert was free from prison for only six years of his entire adult life, but used even those few precious years to continue fighting against injustice and struggling to understand the world better. His example—and that of all the Angola 3—needs to be honored, celebrated, and most important, built on. The potential for thousands and millions who are today caught up in all kinds of negative bullshit to make the leap to becoming emancipators of humanity is the hope and future of humanity, a challenge to all that we have to fight for fiercely, especially in this time when the possibility of revolution grows greater.

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

     

    Six Degrees of Separation: Reflection from a Revcom Staffer

    The tribute to Alfred Woodfox is very moving and inspiring. I have a six-degrees-of-separation connection. In the fall and winter of 1969, I did my internship with a prison reform organization working full time going cell-to-cell in The Tombs interviewing prisoners for eligibility for "pre-trial diversion" in that "modern-day" slave prison where the Black Panther Party 21 were on trial. I met them there—they recruited me to read and distribute their paper, and that was my first serious encounter with revolutionaries. They and the reality I encountered convinced me to give up on reforming the system, and they encouraged me when I went back to college to start a BPP solidarity committee (there was one already which I joined)... and that set me on a winding path that took me to the Red Papers and Bob Avakian...

    _______________

    FOOTNOTES:

    1. The Angola 3—Robert King, Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace—were persecuted by prison authorities after forming a chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1971 and leading others to fight for prisoners’ rights. Louisiana attorney general Buddy Caldwell called Woodfox “the most dangerous person on the planet.” Woodfox and Wallace were framed for the killing of a prison guard; King wasn’t even at Angola when the killing happened but was still somehow “implicated” by authorities. In total, they spent over 100 years in solitary. For more on the Angola 3 frame-up, see “Herman Wallace: Unrepentant Political Prisoner and Fighter for Justice,” revcom.us, October 5, 2013. [back]

    2. Officially, the Louisiana State Penitentiary. [back]

    3. Officially, the Manhattan Detention Complex. [back]

  • ARTICLE:

    From a Reader:

    More Thoughts on Bill Russell—Determined to Fight Against Racism.

    Editors’ Note: Last week we posted a short letter from a reader on the death of basketball legend Bill Russell. The following are further thoughts from the reader on Russell’s life and legacy.

    Boston Celtics Bill Russell in the air, at April 1962 game with Los Angeles Lakers.

     

    Boston Celtics Bill Russell in the air, at April 1962 game with Los Angeles Lakers.    Photo: AP

    In the history of sports you can count on your fingers and toes the number of great athletes who also acted in the interests of humanity—Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Colin Kaepernick, Martina Navratilova, Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bruce Lee, Althea Gibson, Craig Hodges, Billie Jean King. Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Megan Rapinoe, Paul Robeson, and Bill Walton are some. Bill Russell stands out as one of those.

    Bill Russell’s struggle against racism was shaped by his experiences growing up and playing basketball. He was born in Louisiana, where he first encountered and was told about how Black people were treated by his grandfather and father—both who refused to back down when confronted with racism. In an article for Slam magazine’s social justice issue, Russell wrote, “What I learned from these events and the many other events that I saw or experienced like them was twofold: First, that you must make the price of injustice too high to pay, and second, that such events are not reflective of your character, but of the character of the perpetrator.”5

    His family moved to Oakland, California, when he was nine years old. They lived in the projects in west Oakland. It was a tough segregated neighborhood, and Russell found himself in many fights growing up there. As he recalled later, his mother told him “that it didn’t matter whether I won or lost those fights, but what mattered was that I stood up for myself.”6

    He attended McClymonds High School, which had an overwhelmingly Black student body. Surprisingly, he was not a great basketball player in high school and only made the varsity in his senior year. His experiences as a youth and young man shaped his determination to fight against racism and to become a great basketball player, to struggle with determination to break through and overcome some of the barriers that held Black people back.

    Facing and Fighting Against Racism in College and the NBA

    The racism that Russell faced followed him to college and then to the NBA. Russell’s college, the University of San Francisco (USF), was the first major university in the nation with three starting Black players. In 1954, the team went to Oklahoma City for a tournament, and the players were not allowed into the team hotel due to the presence of Black players.7 Despite being the best basketball player in America in his final year in college, he was not awarded Player of the Year in Northern California.8 That award went to a white player.

    Russell’s daughter recounted that when her father played for the NBA's Boston Celtics, “the fans called him 'chocolate boy,’ ‘coon,’ ‘nigger,’ you name it…”9  Their house in Boston had been burglarized. “Our house was in a shambles, and ''NIGGA'' was spray-painted on the walls. The burglars had poured beer on the pool table and ripped up the felt. They had broken into my father's trophy case and smashed most of the trophies.” Russell always claimed that he played for “the Celtics, period. I did not play for Boston,” and he referred to the city as “a flea market of racism.”10

    Russell’s encounter with racism also came at the hands of the cops. After George Floyd was murdered by the cops, Russell wrote about his experiences:

    When I was a kid, I learned to run away from the police because they’d arrest you, or kick you, or kill you if you were Black… As an adult, the police would follow me around Boston, Reading, Mercer Island, Los Angeles… You don’t need me to tell you that racist police officers are a problem, and you don’t need me to tell you that such racism is pervasive throughout not just police departments, but every American institution because every American institution was built on the backs of Black and Brown people.11

    After receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Russell tweeted out a picture of himself wearing the medal and down on one knee, emulating NFL player Colin Kaepernick who took a knee during the national anthem to protest police murders of Black people. Russell tweeted, “Proud to take a knee and stand tall against social injustice.”

    Bill Russell taking a knee

     

    After receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Russell tweeted out a picture of himself wearing the medal and down on one knee    @RealBillRussell

    As a player for the Celtics, he led a boycott of an unprecedented exhibition game in Lexington, Kentucky, when a restaurant would not seat Russell and his Black teammates. He helped to lead an integrated basketball camp in Jackson, Mississippi, after Medgar Evers was assassinated there in 1963.

    As a basketball player, Russell changed the game, especially the way that defense is played. The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) made a rule change based on how Russell played.

    The college conference Russell played in also adopted the “Russell Rule,” which “requires each member institution to include a member of a traditionally underrepresented community in the pool of final candidates for every athletic director, senior administrator, head coach and full-time assistant coach position in the athletic department.”12

    But it is his determination to fight against racism that makes Bill Russell a very special person.

    The NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, knew Bill Russell for a long time. Together, they were part of the Cleveland Summit, where a small group of prominent athletes gathered to support Muhammad Ali’s decision not to go and fight in Vietnam. In his recent piece in the Atlantic, The Bill Russell I Knew for 60 Years, Kareem writes, “The Bill Russell of the Cleveland Summit was who I wanted to be when I grew up. In fact, the Bill Russell of the Cleveland Summit made me grow up right then and there. As I had emulated him on the court, I chose to also emulate him off the court.”

    Russell told his daughter, “I knew you'd encounter racism and sexism, and maybe, in some ways, that's a good thing. If you were too sheltered, I'm afraid you'd be too naive. If you were too sheltered, you might not be motivated to help others who do not have your advantages.''13

    “He stood for humanity, activism and equality”

    Former NBA player Etan Thomas interviewed three activist athletes in an article published in Basketball News online, “Dr. John Carlos, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Craig Hodges remember Bill Russell.” Carlos, who gave the Black Power salute on the victory stand during the national anthem at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, said, “...Bill Russell was the blueprint for the modern-day athlete. He stood for humanity, activism and equality. But he didn’t just talk the talk, he walked the walk for the better part of his life.... I remember being introduced to Bill Russell by my buddy, Blaine Robinson, and the first thing he said was... [Russell] looked at me and smiled and said, 'Carlos, I got one bone to pick with you,' and I said, 'What’s that Bill?' and he said, 'You thought to do that shit in Mexico before I did.'”

    Abdul-Rauf, who played for the NBA Denver Nuggets and refused to stand for the national anthem, said, “[Russell] lent his support to others and it extended beyond the labels that society placed on its citizens in an effort to draw the lines in the sand, so to speak. For example, take his support for Muhammad Ali; [Bill] wasn’t a Muslim, but he saw that it was an injustice and he lent his support and that’s what made him special. Bill Russell was a free thinker. He is definitely going to be missed, and a gap has been created. Anytime you lose a figure like that in the world, with that type of impact, a gap has been created, and it’s hard to fill."

    Hodges, who played for the NBA Chicago Bulls, and tried to organize an NBA finals game boycott after the Rodney King beating, said, “When I think about where I sit as far as social activism, to me, it’s like a kaleidoscope when you look back at the history of athletes using their voices. It’s like a kaleidoscope when I think of the '68 Olympic experience, Muhammad Ali, and his fights, and Bill Russell and what he was doing in Boston. It was all connected, and that’s the beauty of what it was.”

    In an article for the Boston Globe, Bill Russell wrote, “[There’s] the kind of strange that means peculiar, perverse, uncomfortable and ill at ease. Now that’s the kind of strange I’ve known my whole life. It’s the kind of strange Billie Holiday sang about when she sang, ‘Southern trees bear a strange fruit. Blood on the leaves and blood on the root,’ referring of course, to the then common practice of the lynching of Black people.”14

    Russell’s legacy is much more than what he did on the court. His legacy is to end all the “strange” that Black people face—police brutality, mass incarceration, all forms of discrimination, and white supremacy.

    _______________

    FOOTNOTES:

    1. Bill Russell’s Fight Against Racism, by Bill Russell, August 1, 2022. NOTE: this is from his 2020 article that was republished after his death. [back]

    2. Bill Russell’s Fight Against Racism, by Bill Russell, August 1, 2022 [back]

    3. Bill Russell, Civil Rights Hero and Inventor of Airborne Basketball, by Doug Merlino, Bleacher Report, April 29, 2011 [back]

    4. NBA Legends: Bill Russell’s transformation of the game, by Avneesh Garimella, The Edict, January 31, 2018 [back]

    5. Growing Up with Privilege and Prejudice, by Karen Russell, New York Times Magazine, June 14, 1987. [back]

    6. Bill Russell quotes at https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/75414.Bill_Russell [back]

    7. Bill Russell’s Fight Against Racism, by Bill Russell, August 1, 2022 [back]

    8. Russell Rule Diversity Hiring Commitment, August 3, 2020, WCC [back]

    9. Growing Up with Privilege and Prejudice, by Karen Russell, New York Times Magazine, June 14, 1987. [back]

    10. Bill Russell’s Hope for America that This Time Will be Different, by Bill Russell, Boston Globe, June 16, 2020 [back]

  • ARTICLE:

    The Spread of Monkeypox:
    Global Inequality and the Vicious Insanity of Imperialism

    Letter from a Reader

    Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency. And this week, the U.S. government finally declared monkeypox a health emergency. Cases of the extremely painful, contagious disease are rising around the world. It has spread to 85 countries. As of this writing there are more than 7,500 reported cases in the U.S., more than any other country outside of Africa, and the number of cases in the USA has increased 10-fold in less than a month.

    World map of monkeypox spread

     

    Map of Monkeypox spread as of August 6 to 88 countries and more than 28,000 cases. Dots correspond to the number of people infected. Blue dots are countries in Africa with  historically reported cases. Orange are countries which have not historically reported cases.    Source: CDC

    This did not have to go this way. There is a well-known vaccine—the smallpox vaccine—which in past years was held in massive stockpiles of millions of doses around the world—which also works on monkeypox. But for decades the disease existed almost exclusively in Africa, was not studied by scientists outside of Africa, and although the continent of Africa had thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths, got NO vaccines for monkeypox, and got none of the medicine to treat monkeypox. This is one more stark expression of the bitter reality that to the global system of capitalism-imperialism, the lives of people in Africa mean nothing. (Another stark expression: two years after the COVID vaccine was developed, less than 19.8% of the people in Africa are vaccinated for COVID.)

    Monkeypox, which could have been contained in Africa, and its spread there greatly reduced, is now spreading all over the world.

    Activists in Montreal demand government agencies stop the spread of monkeypox

     

    On Monday, August 1, a group of activists and advocates from across the world stormed the stage at the International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada during a special session on the global monkeypox outbreak, calling for immediate action from the World Health Organization (WHO) the United Nations (UN) and from U.S. government agencies including The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) to stop the global spread of this disease.    Prep4All

    Monkeypox is caused by a virus which is a very close relative of the smallpox virus, so close the same vaccines work for both. But monkeypox only kills about 1 percent of those it infects, and is not as contagious as diseases like COVID or the flu. While smallpox was one of the most deadly diseases known to humanity—300 million people died from it in the 20th century alone. Thirty percent of the people who got smallpox died.  

    Smallpox was completely wiped out by global public health campaigns by 197710. Massive stockpiles of the smallpox vaccine were kept for decades after, up to the present. These stockpiles, at one point many millions of doses, were not used to combat monkeypox in Africa, but instead were allowed to expire. 

    As far as we can find, there was never even a serious consideration of using these stockpiles to stop monkeypox in Africa. Joe Osmundson, a professor of microbiology, said on Democracy Now!:

    The United States government let 28 million doses of the modern smallpox vaccine, JYNNEOS, expire and get binned from the national stockpile, as opposed to being used in the endemic regions, from Congo to Nigeria, where people commonly are getting monkeypox. I was on a webinar with the head of the Nigerian CDC, who laughed when I asked, “What countermeasures do you have? Do you have vaccine? Do you have treatment?” They have nothing11.

    Monkeypox, which had been infecting people in the countryside in a number of African countries for decades, first made a leap into the cities in Africa and then made a further leap internationally, especially to the U.S. and Europe. Just why the disease made this leap when it did is not clear to scientists. But it is now spreading quickly. And further, it is mainly spreading among gay men, and largely through sex (the disease can spread in other ways, including through other kind of direct contact between people including infected utensils and bedding.) Monkeypox does not spread as easily as COVID, and can be stopped IF there is vaccine available. But the vaccines have not been available, not nearly enough to do what is required to stop the disease12

    Monkeypox has spread in the U.S. and Europe, without enough vaccines, and with difficult restrictions on medicine available for treatment and testing. The public health authorities have not moved with urgency and determination to solve these problems. Activists in the U.S. and internationally have demanded an emergency response. Further, the fact that this disease has been spreading among gay men (ninety-eight percent of the cases in the U.S. are among gay men, though anyone can get it, including from things like bedding, utensils) has opened up ugly attacks on gay people by fascist politicians, and further spread the poisonous political atmosphere of today.   

    What stands out through all this is the insane horror the capitalist-imperialist system is based on, and further intensifies every day it continues to exist.  The system is unable to provide medical care to people who need it most, even in rich countries like the U.S.  The sooner we put this system out of existence, the better. 

    _______________

    FOOTNOTES:

    1. The smallpox virus today only exists in government labs in the U.S. and Russia. (Some speculate that other governments have secretly held onto the smallpox virus.) Both the U.S. and Russia say that they keep the virus for defensive purposes against the use of smallpox as a weapon. [back]

    2. "'Immense Frustration': Monkeypox Spreads Amid Slow U.S. Response, Few Vaccines; WHO Declares Emergency," Democracy Now!, July 25, 2022 [back]

    3. Over the last decade the United States government let millions of doses of smallpox vaccine expire and be removed from the national stockpile. This was happening at a time in 2017 when monkeypox was spreading to more urban parts of Nigeria and was spreading through person-to-person contact. Health researchers say that availability of vaccines as well as contact tracing could have perhaps contained the spread and prevented the current global emergency. Rather than replace the expiring doses the U.S. chose to wait for development and approval of a freeze-dried vaccine with a longer shelf life. So as the disease began to spread inside the U.S., where there were only about 400,000 doses available. [back]

  • ARTICLE:

    People Righteously Resist Attack on Berkeley’s Historic People’s Park—Beating Back Attempts to Convert to Dorms

    After over 50 years of efforts—legal, police, University of California (UC) and the city of Berkeley—police and construction crews swooped into Berkeley’s historic People’s Park in the middle of the night on August 2, on a mission to destroy the park and build student dorms. Crews put up fences, cleared a way for bulldozers, cut down trees and started to tear up the park.

    Peoples' Park, cop on a tree

     

    Peoples' Park, cop on a tree trunk    Photo: Revolution Books, Berkeley

    Peoples’ resistance to these assaults began before dawn, when people were arrested sitting and blocking the construction machinery. By later in the day, larger crowds gathered, including youths, UC students, and older people, including some veterans of the original battle in 1969. “Whose Park? People’s Park!” rang out. The fences around the park started to come down. Authorities were forced to retreat, and pulled back the police. A few days later, a court blocked further construction on the park until October.

    Peoples' Park the fence comes down

     

    Peoples' Park, the fence comes down    Photo: Revolution Books, Berkeley

    The university has been trying to get rid of People’s Park before the park—as the historic People’s Park—was even forged in huge battles in 1969 in which the battle for the park became a kind of concentration of battles against the system at that time. In his Memoir, Bob Avakian gives this characterization of the battle at that time:

    This developed into a major battle because the university was completely unyielding and was determined to “pave paradise and make it a parking lot,” as the Joni Mitchell song says. The university administration threw down the gauntlet, and the people who were building People’s Park refused to back off and carried forward what they were doing—and it became a gigantic struggle.

    People’s Park has been a reminder of and living monument to the struggles of the 1960s and stands as a symbol of resistance up to today—continuing to be an inspiration and beacon for those resisting the powers that be and their efforts to erase this legacy.

  • ARTICLE:

    Check It Out: The Film Blue Bayou

    I say this unhesitatingly. In my opinion, Blue Bayou is one of the most beautiful, damning, and heartrending films you're going to see this year.

    Justin Chon wrote, directed, and co-stars. The film tells the little-known story of Korean (and other East Asian) adoptees whose U.S. parents did not finalize citizenship or fill out the right paperwork when these infants and children were brought to the U.S. And so, these adopted children can, decades on, suddenly and vindictively be subject to cruel deportation.

    The film was shot in New Orleans. It opens with a job interview. Korean American Antonio LeBlanc (played by Chon) gets the racist treatment right away from a prospective employer who sneers at an old felony conviction. Antonio is scuffling to hold things together along with his pregnant wife, Kathy, and her daughter, Jessie, from an abusive previous marriage. Their love is as palpable as are the larger social-political forces conspiring against them. 

    The film captures the camaraderie between Antonio and his close friends (most of them African American): basic people trying so hard to maintain their dignity and help each other in desperate situations forced on them. The film moves between raw scenes in the city and lyrical interludes in the Louisiana bayou where Antonio confronts ghosts of his past. At a party hosted by Vietnamese refugees, Kathy (played by Swedish actress Alicia Vikander) delivers a knockout version of the song “Blue Bayou.”  

    A noisy altercation in a supermarket leads to Antonio's arrest by hateful police. When they learn that  technically he's not a citizen—he's turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). I am not going to say more about the story. I urge readers to see the film and draw your own conclusions.

    Blue Bayou premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and is streaming on HBO Max. 

  • ARTICLE:

    Spread the Word about The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show

    YOU Have a Role to Play in Building This Revolution

    Sharing and Spreading the Word about The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show Is a Key Way to Do Just That

    Updated

    Take these sticker designs, print it out, and post it up everywhere you go! Recruit your friends to do the same.

    Document your handiwork! Snap pictures of the stickers up around town, post them to your social media, and tag us @therevcoms.

  • ARTICLE:

    Materials for Organizing for Revolution

    Materiales de organización para la revolución

    Updated

    These materials are for everyone who wants to play a role in spreading revolution—to your friends, in your communities, on your campuses, in the many different and creative ways you can think of getting them out.

     

    Estos materiales van para todos aquellos que quieren jugar un papel en difundir la revolución: a tus amigos, en tus comunidades, en tus escuelas, de las muchas formas creativas y diferentes que puedes imaginar para difundirlos.

     



    Quotes from "Something Terrible or Something Truly Emancipating..."
    Citas de "Algo terrible, o algo verdadero emancipador..." 

    Palmcards | Tarjetas de mano

    Posters | Carteles
    Poster - Announcement of BA Talk "Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating"

     

    Download 11x17 Poster (PDF)   

    Poster - Announcement of BA Talk "Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating"

     

    Download 11x17 Poster (PDF)   

    Poster - Announcement of BA Talk "Something Terrible, Or Something Truly Emancipating"

     

    Download 11x17 Poster (PDF)
    (Includes flag for La Opinion reprint of article)   

     

     

    Noche Diaz: "Read or listen to Bob Avakian's SOMETHING TERRIBLE, OR SOMETHING TRULY EMANCIPATING"
    Share on Tik Tok
    Noche Díaz: "Lea o escuche ALGO TERRIBLE, O ALGO VERDADERAMENTE EMANCIPADOR de Bob Avakian" (vídeo en inglés)
    Compártalo en TikTok

    Audio URL
    A REVOLUTION RHYME
    FOR THIS HISTORIC TIME
    Read by Roosevelt, Revolution Club, Chicago
    UNA RIMA DE LA REVOLUCIÓN PARA ESTOS MOMENTOS HISTÓRICOS
    Audio en inglés por Roosevelt, Club Revolución-Chicago

    A REVOLUTION RHYME FOR THIS HISTORIC TIME
    by a Revcom poet
    UNA RIMA DE LA REVOLUCIÓN PARA ESTOS MOMENTOS HISTÓRICOS 
    de un poeta revcom, vídeo en inglés

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    Break all the chains. Unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution.

     

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    Break the chains! Unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution!

     

    No going back! No surrender!

     

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    Genocidal Civil War Or Emancipating Revolution

     

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    Break All The Chains - Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution

     

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  • ARTICLE:

    DONATE NOW to push Summer Fund Drive across finish line

    Dear readers,

    Generous contributions, large and small - they ALL make a world of difference - have brought the revcom.us Summer Fund Drive within reach of our $20,000 goal (read letters from readers on why they donated). Thanks!

    If you haven’t donated yet, this is the moment to push this drive across the finish line by our August 20 target date. If you have donated, thanks again! Be sure to let friends know you donated and encourage them to join you (you can use this basic “ask” template).

    Donating, and reaching out to others to donate, is a critical part of the basis for this website to contribute to organizing people into the movement for an actual revolution at a time when, as Bob Avakian says, humanity is confronted with two possibilities: SOMETHING TERRIBLE OR SOMETHING TRULY EMANCIPATING. Your donation makes it possible to maintain and expand revcom.us’ mission of organizing people for an actual revolution.

    DONATE NOW to help push the Summer Fund Drive across the finish line!

  • ARTICLE:

    From the New Communism Movement of Afghanistan (JAKNA):

    The Struggle to Free Women in Afghanistan and the Need to Overthrow the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban!

    Editors’ Note: This is an unofficial translation from Farsi by revcom.us volunteers of a statement from the New Communism Movement of Afghanistan (JAKNA). The statement calls for actions on Sunday, August 14, the anniversary of the re-establishment of the power of the Taliban, in solidarity with the struggle of Afghan women.

    One year ago, the reactionary flag of the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban was raised in Afghanistan. The whole world, from the Christian fascists of the U.S. Republican Party to the Democratic Party, from the European Union to Pakistan, Iran, and Qatar, China, Russia, and India—they all rolled out a red carpet for the Taliban or turned a blind eye to their past crimes. The fate of millions of people in Afghanistan was sacrificed so that the anti-people and anti-woman Islamic fundamentalists could come to power. This brought to power the same exact forces that the NATO imperialists once swore to annihilate when they invaded the country [in 2001], bombing and killing, promising that would bring “freedom for the women of Afghanistan.”

    One of the first reactionary acts of the Taliban terrorist group upon coming to power was to exclude women from all social arenas, including workplaces and education centers.  The Taliban also deprived women of the right to choose their own clothing, which led to widespread protests and women coming into the streets with shouts of rebellious fury. From the very first day, women of Afghanistan stood face to face against the Taliban and raised their voices, “No to Reactionaries! Either Death or Freedom!”

    The Taliban, like other Islamic fundamentalists, began implementing Sharia law by imprisoning women and enslaving them inside the fortress of fundamentalist religious laws. This was done in order to rebuild the old patriarchal relations, shackling women’s feet in order to reorganize society in the Taliban’s own image as fast as possible. What happened in Afghanistan in one year—what was imposed on women—has been nothing less than an organized program to enslave them!

    No decent person should remain silent and turn a blind eye to this enslavement.  No one should unite with the Taliban and their misogynistic ideas. No one should have any illusions that the Taliban’s dark-ages ideology and mentality can be swayed by begging for petty concessions for the women and people of Afghanistan!

    The many layers of the enslavement of women in Afghanistan by the Islamists are in line with the enslavement of more and more women happening at a global level. Today, we witness attacks on women’s rights and freedom in the Middle East and North Africa and the Indian subcontinent, in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Turkey. We even see Christian fundamentalists/fascists banning abortion in Europe and the United States, in El Salvador, Poland and Ghana. On the other hand, we also see the unprecedented expansion and promotion of the sex industry and sexual slavery of women in the four corners of the world. These are all expressions of the different aspects of the horror and filth the capitalist system inflicts on women. Despite all this horror, women are standing on the front lines of resistance against reactionaries and the patriarchy. From the protest movement against the mandatory hijab in Iran, to the movement against honor killing in Turkey, to the abortion rights movement in America, to Chile, many are raising their voices “No to Reactionaries! Either Freedom or Death!”

    Build the struggle of the women of Afghanistan in unison with the struggle of women for their rights and justice all over the world against slavery and patriarchy.

    We want to emphasize that at this moment the oppression of women in many parts of the world is playing the role of a fundamental fault line for revolution. Despite the differences of regional dynamics, they are all operating within the same global imperialist-capitalist economic framework.

    It is necessary and essential to understand that the historical oppression of women, worsening by the day, is due to the direct connection between the class and social systems, with the mode of production in command. This working imposes the disaster of unnecessary suffering, unbearable misery, and horror on billions of people around the world.

    Therefore, to eliminate all oppression, we have to not only pay close attention to particular contradictions such as the oppression of women, but at the same time, we must understand the necessity of replacing the economic system, or mode of production, with one that allows for changes in society. 

    This necessity cannot be achieved without a revolution in the political superstructure. “The Communist revolution and nothing less” is necessary for the oppressed and exploited all over the world, including women.

    The solution to the problems of women in Afghanistan cannot be achieved with identity politics, from within the narrow confines of reformism, or by demanding small changes, but only with a revolution, one that requires organizing and raising the understanding of the masses of women of the need for revolution. The brave demonstrations of women in the streets of Kabul and other provinces in the last year were important and inspirational, but they cannot lead to fundamental change and will remain within the framework of this system.

    The immediate remedy proposed by identity politics or concentrating on certain minor demands diverts the vision of women who are angry about the patriarchy and its connection to the capitalist system.  This system is incapable of eliminating the root cause of the problem.

    As long as women activists in Afghanistan are still caught between the two outmoded systems of imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism, seeking support from the imperialists (or so-called international community) while also meeting and negotiating with the Taliban.  But neither of these forces can bring them freedom from oppression.

    The situation of women in Afghanistan in the past year—and for the last 20 years—shows that you cannot free women from oppression by issuing a few specific demands. On the contrary, the liberation of women must be an urgent part of an overall countrywide and worldwide strategy for revolution. At this moment, women’s oppression in Afghanistan has the greatest potential to galvanize rebellion against the Taliban and all other types of jihadist and Islamist or patriarchal concepts and traditions.

    We are followers of the New Synthesis of Communism developed by Bob Avakian. We in JAKNA see women’s oppression in the overall context of a scientific analysis of all the contradictions that exist in Afghan society. 

    We are clear of the need to unleash the fury of women in Afghanistan against the Taliban and Jihadist rule, against the patriarchy and the imperialist-capitalist system to make a communist revolution. On this one-year anniversary of the reactionary rise of the Islamic Taliban, Afghanistan needs a movement of “women’s rebellion” more than ever. This movement can and should contribute to overthrowing the Taliban regime as part of paving the way to build a new and emancipatory society.

    The women rebels of Afghanistan are standing face to face against the terrorist Taliban and shouting “No reactionaries! Death or Liberation.” The women in the ranks of this movement need to become “strategic commanders of the communist revolution.”

    To all who hate the enslavement of women by the Taliban and other Islamist patriarchs in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world:

    To all who are tired of living in this nightmarish society:

    Join us in solidarity actions on August 14 all over the world.

    Join the ranks of freedom lovers, the revolutionary and communist men and women. Let’s unite hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder to fight for a world without discrimination, oppression and capital, a world without patriarchy, exploitation, and humiliation!

    Down with the Islamic Emirate of the Taliban!

    Down with the Imperialists—the U.S., Russia, China, and NATO!

    Long live the women's liberation movement! 

    Long live the communist revolution! 

    —New Communism Movement of Afghanistan (JAKNA) August 7, 2022

  • ARTICLE:

    ALERTS from the International Emergency Committee to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW (IEC) - August 8, 2022

    NOW AVAILABLE: Ms. Magazine with Emergency Appeal to Free Iran's Political Prisoners

    Editors note: We received the following from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners NOW.

    Ms. Magazine's 50th Anniversary edition Publish Iran Appeal

     

    Now on newsstands!  The IEC's Emergency Appeal appears in Ms. Magazine's Summer edition, on pages 40 & 41.  Get your copy NOW and share it widely!    

    Imagine the misogynist IRI regime squirming when they see this in Ms. magazine's 50th anniversary edition, "Never Underestimate the Power of Women's Rage!" 

    Publishing the Emergency Appeal right now—with its powerful political content and world-renowned signers—is the best way to impact the international political terrain and build broad awareness and support for all of Iran’s political prisoners. Its stance of proceeding from the interests of humanity, not of those of any reactionary government, and stressing the “special responsibility” people in the U.S. have to oppose the IRI’s vile repression while also actively opposing “any war moves by the U.S. government that would bring even more unbearable suffering to the people of Iran” is even more important now given the current situation in Iran and the world...

    We encourage people to get a copy to bring into your classrooms to share! Or ask your favorite bookstore to display the ad. Or bring it with you to show people at events, protests and speak-outs! Many thanks to the dozens of donors, in the U.S., Europe, Canada, from the Iranian diaspora and elsewhere whose generosity made this possible!


    Prominent Poets and Writers from Africa, Latin America and Europe Endorse the Emergency Appeal

    During the time that ads to Free Iran's Political prisoners were running online in Ms., dozens of artists from Africa, Latin America and Europe signed the Emergency Appeal to Free Iran's Political Prisoners Now! Among the signers were Nimrod Bena, poet, writer, editor and philosopher from Chad, Kayo Chingonyi; Zambian writer, editor, broadcaster; Hilde Susan Jaegtnes, poet, fiction writer, screenwriter, actress and composer (Norway); Martín Barea Mattos, poet and director of the international poetry festival "Mundial Poético" in Montevideo, Uruguay; Oscar "Puky" Gutiérrez Peña, poet, cultural manager and editor (Bolivia); more than a dozen Colombian writers and artists including Luis Villa and Angela Briceño; and Chilean poets Eugenia Brito Astrosa and Amanda Durán.      

    For a complete list of signers, visit the IEC website. For your friends and colleagues to add their voices to this Emergency Appeal, share this link. Or print this page for people to sign.


     Bella Now! in Berlin Festival, Saturday, Aug. 13

    The song by Shekib Mosadeq and Miles Solay "Inspired by the struggle to free all political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in Afghanistan" will be performed live at a music festival in Berlin this weekend.

    Berlin Music Festival August 13, 2022 - Bella Now!

     


    Call to protest IRI President Raisi's September visit to the United Nations

     

    Call to protest IRI President Raisi's September visit to the United Nations   

    IRI President Raisi plans September visit to the United Nations

    The IEC received a call for demonstrations in September from the UK-based CFPPI (Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran).

    Stay tuned for the latest on this from the IEC. In the coming days, be sure to check the IEC Website/Plans or IEC Website/Events for future plans! 

  • ARTICLE:

    VIDEO:

    Andy Zee interviews political activist Jim Fouratt

    Andy Zee interviews political activist Jim Fouratt
  • ARTICLE:

    Brianna Marie Grier Has a Mental Health Episode… Pigs Arrive… She Ends Up Dead

    Brianna Marie Grier, mental health episode, cops arrive, Brianna dies.

     

    Brianna Marie Grier    Photo: Facebook

    Sparta, Georgia—On July 15, 28-year-old Brianna Marie Grier was having a schizophrenic episode. Grier had a history of mental illness, and her mother, Mary Grier, called for help. What happened then? According to the cops’ own report, when they arrived, “Mrs. Grier [Brianna’s mother] stated that you all need to take her back to the hospital where you have taken her before.” Brianna’s mother wanted the cops to make sure her daughter got the help she needed. But instead, the cops arrested her. And what they did next led to the horrific death of Brianna.

    It was all caught on a 10-minute video. And it is hard to watch the wanton disregard for Brianna’s life. And what is really striking is how the cops very calmly, almost routinely, ended her life.

    Brianna is tased and thrown into the backseat, handcuffed with no seatbelt. The cops later say that Brianna kicked the door open. But this was a lie. By standard procedure the cops are supposed to make sure the door is closed—which makes it impossible for someone to open it from the inside. And a report from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation shows that the door was never closed.

    The pigs were completely nonchalant after they realized Grier had fallen out of the car. In no hurry, they get out of the car, walk up to Brianna, who is crumpled on the ground, and command her to “sit up.” Grier was taken to the hospital with two skull fractures. She was placed on a ventilator, in a coma for several days. Her family was initially prevented from seeing her. After several days, she was pronounced dead.

    Brianna leaves behind twin 3-year-old toddlers who are now asking when their mother is coming home. Her family says Brianna was a smart, loving person who loved to dance, sing, eat at cookouts and spend time with her daughters.

    Brianna’s mother said when she went to see her daughter in the hospital, “I just broke down and cried because it’s just ridiculous how she laying up there with tubes and pipes everywhere on her for no reason because it didn’t have to be that.”

    How many times have we seen this happen... again and again and again? Someone is having a mental health crisis and their family calls 911 because they want their loved one to get help. But what happens then is that the person is brutalized by the pigs, even killed. Brianna’s mother said, “If I had known it was going to turn out like this, God knows I wouldn’t have called to come and get her.”

    Brianna Marie Grier was having a mental health emergency. And the cops called to the scene knew that Grier had mental health problems as many other times in the past they had been called to take her to a mental health facility. But did they give her the help she needed? Did they make sure she was safe to travel so they could take her to the hospital? Did they show any compassion and regard for human life? NO. NO. And NO. These cops were just “doing their job”—not to “serve and protect” the people. But to serve this system which brutalizes and murders the people all the time.

    BAsics 1-24

     

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    From Chapter Nine: "Becoming a Communist"—Excerpts from From Ike to Mao and Beyond

    People's Park

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    People’s Park

    During this period we still maintained our connections to the Berkeley movement, and in fact the RU had collectives in Berkeley. When the oil workers strike broke out in Richmond in 1969, we went and talked about that to people in the student movement and others in Berkeley and mobilized people from the campus and among other forces in Berkeley and around the Bay Area to come out to Richmond in solidarity with the strikers. Simultaneously, there was a Third World student strike at San Francisco State, which was a very crucial struggle, and there was a similar strike at UC Berkeley. We developed ties with people in these strikes and also helped mobilize people from these struggles to link up with the strike of oil workers. And people in the RU were continuing to build the anti-war movement in Berkeley and other parts of the Bay Area. Those of us based in Richmond at that time took part in that in various ways, both building opposition to the war in Richmond itself but also being involved in other protests and demonstrations around the Bay Area more generally.

    And then People’s Park broke out. I was actually out of the Bay Area when it initially jumped off. As I recall, people associated with Jerry Rubin,21 Stew and Judy Albert and some others, discovered this property that the university owned but was not using at that time, just a little bit off campus in the Telegraph Avenue area, which extends out from the south end of the campus. The university was planning to turn this into a parking lot, and these activists took the initiative to turn it into a park instead.

    This developed into a major battle because the university was completely unyielding and was determined to “pave paradise and make it a parking lot,” as the Joni Mitchell song says. The university administration threw down the gauntlet, and the people who were building People’s Park refused to back off and carried forward what they were doing—and it became a gigantic struggle. That might sound a little improbable, but if you think about the context of things at that time and that the people involved were part of a broader movement, you can see why other people—even if they weren’t actively involved at first or didn’t think that was the main kind of activity that people should be directed toward—would still see this, in a broad sense, as part of the whole movement that they were part of. Thousands of people saw it that way.

    And when the university moved against People’s Park and brought the police down on it, people responded accordingly. This developed into a major struggle in which eventually the National Guard was called out. As a result of and through the course of this whole struggle, there was actually a form of martial law implemented in Berkeley during this period. People were forbidden to gather in crowds of more than a few. If you gathered on the street corner, the police would come and break it up. People would come by on motorcycles with stacks of literature and throw them on the corner and then drive off, and then other people would scramble, pick them up, and distribute them, because you weren’t even allowed to do that. I remember driving somewhere in Berkeley and getting caught in a traffic jam, and I saw this cop standing out in the street—he had a gun pointed at somebody. So I got out of my car, and the cop wheeled and pointed the gun at my head. This kind of thing was going on throughout the city.

    So things became very intense, and we in the RU decided that even though this wasn’t the form of activity that we would have put our main energies into or focussed our attention on, and we weren’t the initiators of this by any means, once it became a much bigger issue it was important to relate to it. So we put out leaflets and tried to mobilize as many forces as we could to support this struggle. I remember we put out one leaflet to the National Guard itself, because a lot of the people in the National Guard were not really “gung-ho” types—quite a few of them were sympathetic to the struggle and some of them were even people who had been involved in the movement. This leaflet had a drawing showing a normal person going through changes as they got into their National Guard uniform and were mobilized against the people, with this National Guardsman ending up as a pig—and the message was: don’t let this happen to you. We passed out thousands of copies of that leaflet, to people in the National Guard as well as others. And we put out a number of other leaflets as well, calling on people to support the battle for People’s Park.

    Even though I was living in Richmond at that time, I myself got actively involved as the People’s Park struggle crescendoed. At the high point of the struggle there were tens of thousands of people mobilized, with many of them demonstrating at the fence that the university had put up around People’s Park to keep people out. I remember being right at the fence, and the National Guard was on the other side, inside the park, with their weapons loaded. We were shaking the fence, and it was swaying, almost coming down. And it was very clear that had we brought the fence down, they were going to open fire. This was even before Kent State and Jackson State. It was also clear that people were not prepared to take that next step, that it would have been a massacre that people weren’t prepared for. So that didn’t happen. People shook the fence, but they didn’t knock it down.

    Confronting the Implications

    During that upsurge around People’s Park, a guy named James Rector was killed in one of the demonstrations. I was in that demonstration, but a few blocks away from where he was killed. That was a very heavy thing, obviously. That same day, the police not only shot live ammunition at people but also fired a lot of tear gas. And they had started using these tear gas grenades instead of just tear gas canisters. These were more dangerous because they not only had the tear gas and all the effects of that, but they would explode, on a delay. I remember the same day that James Rector got killed, I picked up one of these tear gas grenades to throw it back at the cops, and it exploded in my hand—and it took me about two or three seconds to work up the nerve to look and see if I still had a hand. Then I discovered that it was just a tear gas grenade, and my hand was still there.

    As a footnote to that story, my father was a judge then and the deputy in his courtroom was a member of the county sheriffs who’d been mobilized as part of the police force attacking the demonstration that day. He came into court and in a nasty way said to my father, “How’s your son?” And my father didn’t know anything about this, so he said, “What do you mean?” And the deputy came back, “Oh, we were watching a film of the People’s Park demonstrations the other day, and we saw that your son picked up a tear gas grenade and it went off in his hand.” And my father told me later that he was very upset by this.

    The tear gassing affected thousands of people, and many people had this experience of these tear gas grenades going off near them, if not literally in their hands. But the James Rector murder by the police was yet another step, another outrage, beyond that.

    People had to confront the implications of this, but generally they were not freaked out by it. From the time I started working with the Black Panther Party, and as the struggle intensified and the repression became much harsher and more intense, I think many people sensed the high personal stakes, even the risk of death. And, in fact, during that time I knew that there were attempts to set me up to be killed. But I don’t remember, to be honest, a lot of talk among activists about dying or the fear of dying.

    To tell the truth, I felt, and most of the people I knew felt—and this might sound like a funny word in this context—very joyous about being involved in the struggle. We weren’t in it because it made us feel good, but the fact is that you felt as if your life mattered and counted for something. I remember demonstrations where we chanted, “The whole world is watching.” And, with the May Events in ’68 in France, the Vietnamese people (who were obviously waging struggle on a whole other level), the struggles in Latin America, the things going on in the U.S. and, for people like me, the Cultural Revolution in China—with all that going on, you felt you were part of a whole wave of people who were trying to change the world, were determined to make a much better world. So that’s what motivated you, and sure, I think there was a feeling that you could die, but I don’t think that preoccupied people. And I don’t remember talking about that a lot. The thought would go through your mind, but we were motivated in a different way and weren’t thinking that much about whether we might die.

    ________________

    21. Jerry Rubin, along with Abbie Hoffman, had founded the Yippies, a group that tried to infuse radical and confrontational politics into the hippie communities that had grown up around the U.S. Rubin and Hoffman played a major role in the Democratic Convention of 1968 and were subsequently tried for conspiracy, along with Bobby Seale and others, in a very wild trial. They were convicted, but the convictions were eventually overturned. [back]

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