Posts by issue number/Posteos por número de la edición


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

  • In This Issue… March 20, 2023

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

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

    A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution

  • The RNL Show Interviews with Bob Avakian

    A Rare Appearance on
    The RNL—Revolution Nothing Less—Show
    on youtube/therevcoms

  • I’m So Sick of this Whole “Identity Politics” and “Woke” Thing


    On Movements, Principles, Methods, Means and Ends

  • Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds”
  • Imperialist Parasitism and Class-Social Recomposition in the U.S. From the 1970s to Today: An Exploration of Trends and Changes
  • Parasitism and Class-Social Recomposition in the U.S. From the 1970s to Today: Introduction-Summary
  • Nationwide Protests—Sunday, April 2
  • 3 Reasons Why the Demand  “Fund People's Needs, Not the War Machine” Is Immoral and Impossible: STOP THINKING LIKE AMERICANS, START THINKING ABOUT HUMANITY
  • 20th “Anniversary” of Totally Unprovoked War by the U.S. Against Iraq
  • Did Somebody Say “War Crime”?

    USA Number One in the World in War Crimes and Hypocrisy
  • Bringing Forward Another Way
  • Amarillo, Texas: Medication Abortion Nationwide on the Chopping Block
  • Biden Drills for Oil in Pristine Alaskan Wilderness: An Environmental Disaster Sections of Environmental Movement Can't Let Go of Him As “Climate Leader”
  • An Existential Crisis Erupts in Zionist, Apartheid Israel
  • A fierce, joyous, revolutionary IWD breaks through the clouds on Venice Beach
  • Because We Don't Have to Live This Way
  • International Women’s Day 2023—United States

    Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!

    Capitalism and Patriarchy — You Can't End One Without Ending the Other

    Abortion On Demand and Without Apology 
    Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement

  • International Women's Day 2023 Around the World
  • VIDEO:

    Bob Avakian on Why You Can’t Break All the Chains Except One...
  • Protests in Iran Smaller but Fiercer As Theocrats Execute Prisoners, Torture Children, Punish Hijab-less Women

    Execution for alleged “membership in a banned group”

  • Free Sepideh Gholian and all Iranian Political Prisoners! Press Release
  • TWO NOTES 1. What Is the Nature of “Amnesty”? 2. The Dialectical Synergy Between Sheikh [Mullah] and Shah [Monarchy]
  • From Atash/Fire, Journal of the Communist Party of Iran, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, November 2022:

    If There Is to Be a Revolution, a Revolutionary Situation Must Be Created!
  • VIDEO:

    April 2nd — Mobilize Against the U.S./NATO Proxy War with Russia and the Growing Danger of WW3
  • From

    Fascist Judges: Keep Your Hands Off Abortion Medication!

    Take Action if there is a negative decision (banning mifepristone)
    Call for protests on the day of, or day after, the decision out of Amarillo, TX.

  • VIDEO:

    Woke Idiocy vs. the Revolution Humanity Needs

    In This Issue… March 20, 2023

    Welcome to the March 20, 2023 issue of Revolution.

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

    Table of Contents:

    Bob Avakian on Opposing “Woke” Madness and Obstructions

    Waging the Struggle Against Fascist Lunacy and Woke Madness

    No nuclear war! It’s this system, not humanity, that needs to become extinct!

    20 years since the criminal U.S. invasion of Iraq

    Other Featured

    International Women’s Day 2023

    The Courageous Uprising in Iran




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

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

    Bob Avakian is the architect of a whole new framework of human emancipation, the new synthesis of communism, which is popularly referred to as the "new communism."

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

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

    Bob Avakian ... on the basis of decades of hard work [has been] developing a whole body of work—theory to advance the science of communism, to advance the science of revolution, to more deeply explain where the problems come from, what the strategy is for getting out of this mess, what the methods and approaches should be to stay on track and actually build a better world, to build a society that most human beings would want to live in. (From Science and Revolution, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak)

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

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

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

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

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

    Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America cover 240


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

    Click to read and download (PDF)

    Download poster and leaflet:



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

    And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed

    A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution

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

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

    So, let’s get to it.

    Bob Avakian



    Learn more about Bob Avakian and the new communism


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


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

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

    And that is why we revolutionary communists say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

    It is extremely important to deeply understand this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    As I emphasized in my New Year’s Statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In Hope For Humanity, I emphasized this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    There are brutal and often murderous attacks on LGBT people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Here again is the very important point that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To return to this crucial and urgent truth:

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

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

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

    There is the possibility, there is the challenge.

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



    Bob Avakian



    Learn more about Bob Avakian and the new communism



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



    I’m So Sick of this Whole “Identity Politics” and “Woke” Thing


    On Movements, Principles, Methods, Means and Ends

    The Ends Must Determine the Means, Not the Ends “Justify” the Means

    Movements—in the social and political sense—involve people acting together for certain objectives. Positive social and political movements mobilize masses of people in struggle against oppressive and murderous policies and actions of their government and oppressive social relations (such as white supremacy and male supremacy) and the institutions and culture that embody, promote, and enforce them. For example, in recent years, there have been powerful movements against institutional racism and police terror, in this country and all around the world. And, in many countries, there have been mass outpourings against sexual abuse and other horrific oppression and degradation of women, including attacks on the right to abortion.

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


    Several years ago, when the long-standing predatory sexual behavior of Harvey Weinstein was being forcefully exposed, and could not be denied, I wrote the following:

    The phenomenon of sexual harassment and sexual assault—including (but not limited to) the sexual abuse of women by men who hold positions of power over them—is long‑standing and widespread throughout this male supremacist society and is reinforced by the putrid culture it has spawned. The outpouring of outrage against this sexual abuse and the all too commonplace institutional cover‑ups and complicity with it, and the demand for a radical change in the culture—which has made a major leap in relation to the accusations against Harvey Weinstein and has now spread far beyond that, involving millions of women, in sphere after sphere throughout this country and in other countries as well—is right, righteous, and long overdue, and should be supported, encouraged, spread, and defended against counter‑attack.1

    At the same time:

    This long‑suppressed and thoroughly just outpouring of outrage is not the same as any particular accusation. Such particular accusations do have to be approached on the basis of scientifically evaluating the evidence, and this is especially important where the accusations not only allege misconduct but actual criminal action, such as rape or other sexual assault. But this distinction, between particular accusations and the overall phenomenon, should not be allowed to obscure or diminish the righteousness and importance of the massive upsurge against this widespread and deeply‑rooted abuse and the tremendous injury it does to women and to humanity as a whole.2

    Unfortunately, however, as things have developed, particularly in this country, the righteous rage that has been unleashed around this has not mainly taken the form of a movement mobilizing masses of people in struggle against the horrific oppression of women and the institutions and culture that embody, promote, and enforce this. (As one striking aspect of this, while there is an urgent need for mass mobilization taking to the streets in powerful resistance against the mounting attacks on the right to abortion, there has been a marked absence of such mass resistance.) Instead, with “me too,” what this has involved (or devolved into) is not so much a “movement,” but a continuing succession of accusations, directed mainly against individuals, where the goal often is (or becomes) “canceling” the person (or persons) accused, without any kind of scientific evaluation of the evidence.

    The issues that have given rise to “me too” are clearly of great importance, and many of the accusations made in this connection are no doubt true. And, as an important article at has emphasized:

    It is a very real phenomenon, and an egregious outrage, that many women who are raped and sexually assaulted are then intimidated, or otherwise prevented, from coming forward or from pursuing this. And this needs to be resolutely opposed and fought against.3

    But again,

    as outrageous as this is, as much as it is an additional assault on these women and on women overall, that is not the same thing as saying, and should not lead to an approach that says, that every accusation of rape or sexual assault is automatically (or almost certainly) true—nor even that if there are many people making similar accusations, then those accusations are therefore true (there have been more than a few instances where multiple accusations against a person have proven to be false). What is true has to be determined by a scientific approach, relying on evidence and the correct analysis and synthesis of what the evidence as a whole indicates. Accusations are a kind of evidence—as are denials of those accusations—but in and of themselves they do not constitute a sufficient basis to draw definite conclusions.4

    So what is the answer to this? The best and most just way to deal with this, particularly while we are still living under this system, is to build mass struggle to

    create the kind of atmosphere in society overall and in different institutions and parts of society, that make it much more difficult for rape and sexual assault to be carried out, and that encourage and support women in resisting this and in coming forward to raise this and seek justice when it does happen, while at the same time insisting on a consistent approach of proceeding in relation to accusations of rape and sexual assault, and accusations of crimes and wrongdoing in general, through a process that relies on a scientific method and approach and where the kind of "trial by media" and "media tyranny" that is so commonplace these days, and the very poisonous atmosphere this creates and reinforces, will be firmly rejected and denounced.5

    Continuing exposure of and mass opposition to such outrages as gender and racial oppression is very much needed and extremely important, but the “cancel culture” that often accompanies this is a decidedly negative counter-current, which is generally an expression of petty bourgeois narrowness and cynicism,

    which is marked by (real, or artificial and fashionable) outrage at instances of social injustice but at the same time by a dismissal or outright rejection of any real attempt at bringing a truly just society into being, and which is often molded and manipulated by ruling bourgeois forces—and is carried to fanatical extremes, unmoored from and in opposition to a rational, scientific method and approach. And this is made all the worse by the powerful influence of the extreme individualism that is promoted throughout this society, with its poisonous component of constantly seeking to “tear down” others (which has become a perverse “national sport”).6

    And here we see the basic problem that I pointed to, in speaking about “cancel culture” in Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds”:

    among other things, “cancel culture,” in primarily targeting individuals, is an approach that tends to ignore, downplay and fail to really fight against the institutions and the whole system which constitute the deeper root and source of these outrages. Rarely, if ever, does this approach aim at “canceling” the whole system!7

    Further, this “canceling” of people

    is often amplified through “trial in the media and social media,” with neither any prospect nor even any pretense of due process or any real attempt to get at the truth, fueled by the dangerous notion that a mere allegation is enough to condemn someone and make them a permanent pariah, and marked by a refusal to apply any measure of proportionality, to make any distinctions between different kinds and degrees of wrongdoing.8

    It is true that individuals raising incidents of sexual or other abuse can encourage others to do so, and this can lead to a situation where “the dam breaks” and the whole larger social phenomenon of such abuse forces its way into public consciousness, where before it had been effectively, or largely, suppressed. This could contribute to a real outpouring of mass struggle against such abuse. But, again, that does not mean that it is justified, or will lead to a positive result, to trample on basic principles and methods in the approach to particular accusations of abuse, even if this is done in the name of the larger social good. And focusing on individuals as an overall approach—especially with revenge all too often becoming the aim, and crucial principles and methods violatedcan only lead away from the actual solution.

    What is needed are mass movements that mainly focus and direct the struggle against “the institutions and the whole system which constitute the deeper root and source” of the outrages. There is great importance to uniting all who can be united in these struggles, and overall in the struggle against injustice and oppression. Principled ideological struggle, over what are the deeper causes of the outrages being fought against, and what direction the struggle against this should take—this is necessary and important. But this is far different from, and directly in opposition to, petty narrowness and sectarianism—including “woke commodification” of the struggle, with notions of “ownership” of a movement, and the division of those who should be united in the struggle into “commodity” categories: those who have the supposed right to “own” a movement and decide its direction, and those who, on the other hand, are reduced to subordinate “allies” of these “owners.” (It is remarkable how much the terms of capitalist commodity relations and “business” have saturated the “popular culture,” with expressions about “owning” this or that strikingly commonplace; and this way of thinking also has significant influence in “woke” culture and movements claiming to be opposing oppression.) This narrow approach does not seek to break out of the oppressive and suffocating confines of this system of capitalism-imperialism, but strives instead for a “better place” within this system, which causes so much horrendous, and unnecessary, suffering for the masses of humanity.

    It is also striking that so many “woke” people do not expose and condemn the fact that the country they are living in (the “good ole USA”) has, over nearly a century, been the most powerful imperialist oppressor in the world, and the greatest destroyer of the environment, doing the greatest harm to humanity. How much, in all the “woke” talk about “privilege,” is there a denouncing and renouncing of American privilege—of American supremacy and American chauvinism? How much a clear-cut stand that American imperialism should be firmly opposed in its attempt to maintain its position as number one oppressor, worldwide, and that the masses of people in this country have no interests and no stake in American imperialism’s rivalry with China, itself a rising capitalist-imperialist power? How much a reckoning with the fact that people in this country share—even though quite unequally—in the “spoils” that come from American imperialism’s plunder of the world’s people, including masses of children? How much an orientation and declaration that it would be far better to do without these “spoils”—by doing away with American imperialism and struggling together with people all over the world to be rid of all imperialism, and all relations of exploitation and oppression, all plunder of people as well as the environment?

    Not very much.

    In opposition to concepts of “ownership,” in regard to mass movements, while due weight needs to be given to the whole history and present reality of horrific oppression, and the experience of people directly subjected to such oppression, if the goal is actually to abolish and uproot oppression, the standard against which anyone’s (or any group’s) ideas and proposals need to be evaluated is: objective reality—and specifically what is the nature of the particular problem (or form of oppression) people are up against, what is the source and cause of this, how does this relate to the fundamental problem (the whole system), and how to correctly handle the relation between the more particular and the fundamental, in order to move toward achieving the actual solution. (And, no, objective reality is not a white supremacist or male supremacist “construct”—it is...objective reality.)

    In this regard,

    it is very relevant to refer to a statement by Lenin who said that all those who approach revolution with the orientation, “They had their chance, now it’s my turn to have a go at it”—all those who approach revolution in that way do so from the point of view of the petite bourgeoisie. And it hardly needs saying that the approach of the petite bourgeoisie is not going to lead to the achievement of the “4 Alls” and the emancipation of humanity.9

    (The “4 Alls” refers to the statement by Marx that the communist revolution aims for the abolition of all class distinctions, all the production relations on which those class distinctions rest, all the social relations that correspond to those production relations, and the revolutionizing of all the ideas that correspond to those social relations. This is both a concentrated and a comprehensive expression of the fact that this revolution aims for the complete elimination and uprooting of all relations of exploitation and oppression and the institutions that enforce this, along with the radical transformation of the culture and ways of thinking that arise from and reinforce these antagonistic relations among human beings.)

    And, of course, Lenin’s important insight definitely applies to people who are not even striving for a real revolution, to put an end to this whole system, but are “working for meaningless petty reforms and seeking funds for themselves and positions within the structures of this system.”10

    A Scientific Approach, Not “Knee-Jerk” Reactions, Subjectivism and Sophistry

    Here is another matter of fundamental principle:

    It has to be said—and cannot be overstated—that, in the world today, there can be no just society without the rule of law; there can be no rule of law without due process of law; and there can be no due process of law without the presumption of innocence (and that presumption of innocence must be real—and not a farce, as it is in this society).That is why so much emphasis is given to these principles in the new communism, including specifically the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which I have authored.

    It also has to be said that there can be no justice, and great harm will be done, where “trial in the media and social media” is treated as equivalent to, or a substitute for, due process—and this is especially so when what is involved are accusations not against representatives of state power, like the police, but against “ordinary people,” even wealthy and/or prominent ones.11

    Yet substituting “trial in the media and social media” for due process, and violating the important principle that an allegation or accusation, by itself, is not in fact “proof”—this all too often characterizes “cancel culture.” This is graphically expressed in the fact that, with “me too,” the orientation has been widely propagated, and taken up, that it is necessary to “believe all women” making such accusations—not just take such women seriously, but automatically “believe” them. And this same approach (that accusations, unless obviously unfounded and blatantly ridiculous, should be accepted as “proof”) has been widely applied to allegations and accusations of many different kinds.

    It is also necessary to make certain important distinctions—between different kinds and degrees of wrongful acts (even where “guilt” is validly established) and between situations where the accused acknowledges the wrongdoing and, on the other hand, those situations where they deny wrongdoing and insist on their innocence. But it is often the case that where the accused does deny the accusation, “trial in the media and social media,” with the “presumption of guilt” (particularly in the form of treating an accusation itself as “proof” of guilt) assumes even more insistent and virulent expression.

    Some defend “the presumption of guilt” in these situations by applying sophistry (faulty, bogus reasoning) that argues along these lines: “Okay, due process of law, including the presumption of innocence, should apply in court proceedings relating to alleged violation of the law; but in the realm of public life and public opinion this does not apply.” And so the approach is taken—directly and explicitly, or implicitly and in practice—that, in this realm (of public life and public opinion), it is perfectly fine to rely on “trial in the media and social media” and the standard that a mere accusation is the same as actual proof.

    This often finds expression in the statement that an accusation is “credible.” Here a trick (a “sleight of hand”) is being played. “Credible” essentially means “believable.” Many things can be “credible” but that does not mean that they are true. Yet, with this logic, “credible” is treated as equal to, or a legitimate substitute for, true. (And acceptance of the idea that accusations being “credible” means the same thing as such accusations actually being true—this leads to, and reinforces, a more general credulousness: a readiness to believe things, especially things that tend to “confirm” one’s inclinations and prejudices, without having a valid basis for determining whether they are true.) This orientation also frequently finds expression in the statement that “I believe so-and-so” (someone making an accusation), where such “belief” is closely akin to religious belief—is a substitute for actual evidence (or flies in the face of evidence that runs counter to such “belief”).

    In reality, whether something is true—and specifically whether an allegation or accusation is true—cannot be determined on the basis of whether, by itself, it seems believable. Once again: The truth of such an allegation or accusation can only be determined by examining it scientifically, through accumulating and evaluating evidence, including what is said, and what may be brought forward as evidence, by way of refuting such an allegation or accusation.

    In cases where there are serious allegations of wrongdoing but legal, courtroom proceedings do not apply, and what is at issue is something like the accused’s employment or position (as well as their reputation), the best chance of getting at the truth would often mean having a process that is carried out by a qualified “disinterested party” (a person, or group of people, with the appropriate training and experience, and with no “stake,” no “axe to grind,” in the matter) and where the approach that applies in legal matters would also be basically applied, including the requirement that an allegation be proved, with compelling evidence, and there is a real opportunity for the person (or persons) accused to confront and attempt to refute the allegation and any evidence offered as proof of it. (Of course, it will be difficult to effect such a process, in the current atmosphere especially, with the very negative “tear down” culture and far too many people, including many celebrities and influential people, quick to dissociate themselves from, and join the condemnation of, people on the basis of what are mere accusations, which have not been proved—or have, in some cases, been effectively disproved. Even more significantly, corporations and other prominent institutions which for so long ignored, covered up and suppressed exposure of actual wrongdoing, have in many cases “flipped” to an approach of ridding themselves of people accused, without the kind of process called for here. With both these approaches, the basic motivation has been the same: to protect their “brand” and “bottom line.”)

    In some cases, and particularly in the absence of the kind of adversarial process that takes place in legal, courtroom proceedings, or something approximating that (both sides presenting evidence and questioning the evidence brought by the other side), it may be very difficult, if not actually impossible, to validly determine whether an accusation is true, or not. And, while it is very important that there be mass struggle against oppression and injustice, it is a fact that there is not a basis within the confines of this system of capitalism-imperialism to fully and finally uproot the oppressive and exploitative relations that are built into this system. But that does not mean that it is alright to substitute “cancel culture” in place of actual mass movements, and to substitute subjective impressions and opinions in place of a valid process for determining the truth.

    What I am arguing for here is also in direct opposition to another very harmful aspect of “cancel culture”:

    There is the phenomenon of not only targeting and seeking to tear down individuals, but along with that, or as part of it, going through the whole history of people’s lives, going back decades—even into someone’s very early years—and seeing if you can find something around which they can be condemned and which therefore disqualifies them from any positive role in anything. Now, as I have stressed many times, where people have committed real crimes and outrages they should be held accountable; but there is also the need to look at the arc of someone’s life and what is the principal and defining aspect of their life. Is it the mistakes they’ve made, or even a really terrible thing they’ve done at some point? Is that the essential aspect of their life and what defines it? Or has their life involved real transformation, where what has come to define what they are about are the positive things that they have done and the positive trajectory to their life overall?12

    Of course, the basic approach argued for here is not “perfect” and will not always lead to the most correct and just outcome (as, in fact, is the case with actual court proceedings, especially under this system). The reality has to be confronted that it is not possible to achieve a fundamentally just resolution to all this within the confines of this system, with the oppressive and exploitative relations built into it, and the putrid culture that it is promoted by this system and serves to reinforce it. But, so long as we are living under this system, the approach I have outlined here is definitely better than “cancel culture,” with its reliance on “trial in the media and social media” and acceptance of an allegation in itself as “proof.”

    This emphasizes the point—something which is also a critical matter of method and principle—that people should not “jump to conclusions” about an allegation or accusation, substituting their own inclinations or prejudices for a process which has more of a possibility of arriving at a valid conclusion. It emphasizes that there should be no “trial” in the media and social media—and that an orientation and culture needs to be fostered and fought for where people actively reject efforts in the media and social media to pre-judge and prejudice things in regard to allegations and accusations.

    As pointed out in the article on fascist lunacy and “woke folk insanity,” trial in the media and social media, the acceptance of a mere allegation as “proof,” and the whole “cancel culture” that goes along with this, is

    just another version of the extremely harmful notion that “the ends justify the means” (that any means are justified if the goal is, or is proclaimed to be, righteous), something that is firmly rejected by the new communism and should be rejected by anyone who aspires to a truly just society.13

    Difficult as it may be, especially in the current social atmosphere—where many people are genuinely and righteously outraged by the endless abuses to which masses of people are continually subjected, but may also be influenced by the poisonous culture of “tear down” and revenge that is promoted throughout society—it has to be recognized that there will be situations where it is not possible to come to a well-founded conclusion about certain allegations and accusations. In these situations, it is correct and important not to draw, and especially not to broadcast and propagate, definitive conclusions (even in the guise of “opinions,” “guesses,” and “inclinations”). In short, sometimes it will be correct and necessary to just say “we can’t tell,” and act accordingly—yes, applying what amounts to “the presumption of innocence.”

    This will undoubtedly lead to certain situations where someone who is in fact guilty of harmful actions (whether actually illegal or not) will “get away” with this, and escape what would be appropriate accountability. But, again, applying the principles and methods I have emphasized here will definitely lead to a better situation than one where subjective, unscientific judgments are substituted for a process through which allegations and accusations could be reasonably evaluated (or, worse yet, these subjective judgments are persisted in, when there is such a process but it leads to a conclusion that is contrary to these subjective judgments); where, without any semblance or pretense of due process, people are “tried and convicted” in the media and social media; where there is a marked lack of proportionality, so that regardless of the nature of the offense for which someone is “convicted,” they are generally subjected to “cancellation” and, if not literally deprived of their liberty, are often deprived of their livelihood or standing in society and turned into outcasts (treated as permanent pariahs).

    With the approach of focusing on and “canceling” individuals, the larger social outrages—the oppression and injustice that does great harm to masses of people—will remain fundamentally in place and unchanged. On the other hand, even while there will be situations where it is not possible to validly determine the “guilt or innocence” of a particular person (or persons) who are accused of wrongdoing, it is definitely possible to come to firm conclusions about what is right and wrong in terms of oppression and injustice, and to build mass movements that focus the struggle against the institutions and culture—and ultimately the whole system—that is responsible for this oppression and injustice.

    There are also situations where accusations of wrongdoing do not involve direct personal (or professional) interactions but things such as statements, writings, and actions of the alleged wrongdoer which have a broad social effect (involving, for example, race or gender relations). In this regard, as I have spoken to previously, “in some cases it is actually clear, right away, what is right and wrong—things that should be upheld, and things (such as Confederate monuments) that should be repudiated and removed.”14 In many cases, however, the situation is more complex. Particularly in situations where what is involved is in fact complex, it is especially important to seriously engage what is being said by people on the different sides of a dispute, rather than “rushing to judgment” and looking for cheap ways to attack someone whose position you are inclined to disagree with. Here, the following principles of epistemology (the means for arriving at the truth) are of critical importance:

    The truth of something does not depend on who says it, or how it makes you feel. Because something comes from a source you like does not make it true; and because something comes from a source you do not like does not make it untrue. And truth is not a “popularity contest.Because a lot of people believe something does not make it true; and because only a few people believe something does not make it untrue.

    Truth is objective—which means: Whether something is true or not depends on whether it corresponds to actual reality.15

    But, in opposition to any kind of serious and scientific approach,

    “woke folk cancel culture” rejects the distinction between what is more immediately clear and what is more complex—and rejects rational discourse and serious, scientific exploration of and grappling with questions that may in fact be complex, replacing this with knee-jerk reactions, in accordance with whatever have become the momentary imperatives of “identity politics wokeness.”16

    “Ends and Means,” and the Fundamental—and Urgently Needed—Solution

    The completely legitimate frustration and anger that results from the recognition (or the sense) that there is not, and there cannot be, any fully just resolution to all this under this system—this should be turned into a profound determination to abolish this system, and bring something much better into being. As emphasized in Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis: “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 this needs to become something greater than personal angst, or a desire for revenge—it 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.”17

    This means and requires building movements that are actual movements of masses of people mobilizing to fight the oppression and injustice constantly perpetrated by this system—mass movements that in word and deed reject the poisonous notion that “the ends justify the means,” and instead employ means that are consistent with, and an expression of, the goal of ending the injustices and outrages to which masses of people are continually subjected under this system.

    Fundamentally—and as a matter of urgent importance—it means actively, systematically working now to build up the organized forces for, to bring into being more favorable conditions for, and then to carry out a revolution with the aim of bringing about the elimination and uprooting of all injustice and oppression, all exploitation and degradation, through overthrowing this system of capitalism-imperialism, which is the ultimate source and root cause of all this, and bringing into being a radically different, emancipating society and world, on an entirely new foundation.

    As I have emphasized in Breakthroughs:

    The goal of this revolution is not revenge and the reversal of the positions of oppressed and oppressor (“the last shall be first, and the first shall be last”).... You see it over and over again—the goal becomes revenge, it becomes something short of transforming all of society. It becomes, “get mine if I can, or if I can’t at least I can tear somebody else down.” That’s very pronounced in this society, particularly at this time, and even struggles which are dealing with very real and profound contradictions and relations of oppression can be turned toward that kind of outlook and approach by the powerful pull of spontaneity and the prevailing relations in this society.

    This goes back to the point that even movements which start out highlighting very important outrages and injustices, and carrying out struggle against them, can only continue to go in the direction they need to go in, ultimately—and all these different forces in society that are opposing various forms of oppression can only be united in a lasting and forward moving way—on the basis of a scientific communist approach and what it reveals to be the solution to the profound problems that the present society embodies and enforces. With the outlook of the petite bourgeoisie you’re never going to get there. What is needed is—in a non-reified sense, in the communist sense—the outlook of the proletariat, the outlook and approach that corresponds to the fundamental interests of the proletariat, which involves the recognition that only by emancipating all of humanity can any one section of the exploited and oppressed be emancipated.

    In contrast to narrow and petty motivations and aspirations for things such as revenge and “my turn to have a go at it,” the goal of the communist revolution is, as emphasized in THE NEW COMMUNISM, “getting to a different world where all these horrors for the masses of people don’t go on any longer.” The goal is the emancipation of humanity—the abolition of all exploitation and oppression, and the corresponding antagonisms among human beings, and the uprooting of the soil out of which they arise, with the achievement of communism, throughout the world.18


    1. A Question of Basic Stand and Orientation, SUPPORT AND SPREAD THE FURY AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE, by Bob Avakian, is available at  [back]

    2. A Question of Basic Stand and Orientation, SUPPORT AND SPREAD THE FURY AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE.  [back]

    3. Some Points of Orientation, Principle, and Method Regarding the Accusations Against Bill Cosby. This article is also available at  [back]

    4. Some Points of Orientation, Principle, and Method Regarding the Accusations Against Bill Cosby.  [back]

    5. Some Points of Orientation, Principle, and Method Regarding the Accusations Against Bill Cosby.  [back]

    6. Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds.” This article is also available at  [back]

    7. Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds”.  [back]

    8. Bob Avakian, Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis, Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism. This is available at (This passage is also cited in Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds.”)  [back]

    9. Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary, by Bob Avakian, published as an ebook by Insight Press (insight‑, is available online at Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other major retailers (EPUB, MOBI, PDF). It can also be accessed at  [back]

    10. FROM THE REVCOMS: A DECLARATION, A CALL TO GET ORGANIZED NOW FOR A REAL REVOLUTION. This is available at—and it is being posted and passed out to people in neighborhoods and other places around the country, as a key part of spreading the word about this revolution and organizing people into this revolution.  [back]

    11. Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds.”  [back]

    12. Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis, Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism.  [back]

    13. Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds.”  [back]

    14. Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds.”  [back]

    15. Conspiracy Theories, Fascist “Certitude,” Liberal Paralysis, Or A Scientific Approach to Changing the World. This article by Bob Avakian is also available (in both a short and longer version) at (Emphasis—boldface—added by the author here to the phrase “or how it makes you feel.”)  [back]

    16. Bob Avakian On Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds.”  [back]

    17. Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis, Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism.  [back]

    18. Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary. The quote in the last paragraph here is from the book by Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM, The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, Insight Press, 2016.  [back]


    Bob Avakian On
    Fascist Lunacy and “Woke Folk” Insanity: A New “Two Outmodeds”

    A number of years ago, drawing from the title of a book by Benjamin Barber, I referred to one of the main confrontations taking place in the world as Jihad vs. McWorld/McCrusade. (“Jihad” here refers to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and “McWorld/McCrusade” to increasingly globalized western imperialism, infused with a poisonous sense of “the superiority of Western Christian Civilization.”) As I wrote then:

    What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these “outmodeds,” you end up strengthening both.

    While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these “historically outmodeds” has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the “historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system,” and in particular the U.S. imperialists.1

    Today, these “two outmodeds” still have real importance, but it must be said that there is, in addition, a new kind of “two outmodeds,” which is particularly pronounced in the U.S.: fascist lunacy and “woke folk” insanity.

    New Year's Statement by Bob Avakian


    I have written and spoken extensively about the viciously deranged, anti-scientific mangling of reality and truth that characterizes fascism as a powerful force contending for power—aiming to institute a more blatant and overt capitalist dictatorship, which would gut and pervert the rule of law, brutally suppress the rights of masses of people and carry to even greater extremes the exploitative and oppressive relations of this system of capitalism-imperialism and the threat to human existence through destruction of the environment and the danger of nuclear war.

    But there is another kind of insanity that is becoming a major destructive force in politics and society: the increasing move to tear down everything and everyone that does not, and cannot, meet the tortured, anti-historical and anti-scientific “test” of conforming to the often arbitrary standards of “wokeness.” There are numerous and multiplying instances of this—including, for example, situations where someone (say, an artist) who is white does something powerful to expose the oppression of Black people... and instead of this being appreciated for its contribution to the understanding of and struggle against this oppression, the person is attacked for alleged “cultural colonization” (supposedly “appropriating” the exposure of and struggle against this oppression). This is crazy, and worse than crazy. As others have pointed out, carried to its logical extreme, this kind of “identity politics” wokeness—with its insistence that only people who directly experience something can legitimately say anything about it—would, among other crimes, put an end to, or at the least would seriously restrict and vitiate, literature and art. And overall, this does great harm to the struggle against oppression and the kind of society we should want to live in. Yet, like an out-of-control virus, this madness is continually expanding in its scope and mutating in its particular forms, as it becomes more and more extreme, and more and more unhinged from a sane approach to reality.

    The Actual Struggle Against Injustice and Oppression, and the Perversion of Poisonous “Cancel Culture”

    In A Beautiful Uprising: Right And Wrong, Methods And Principles, in examining different trends that were evident in the mass outpouring against police terror and institutional racism last summer, I emphasized these basic points of method and principle:

    It is crucially important to identify what, in any given phenomenon (a system, a movement, a person), is the main thing (the principal aspect), which defines the essence of that phenomenon at any given time, and overall. For example, both Nat Turner and John Brown, who led heroic (if ultimately defeated) rebellions against slavery, were highly religious—and it is not wrong to see each of them as a kind of religious fanatic. But their religious zealotry was in the service of fighting the main (the most egregious) form of exploitation and oppression of that time—slavery. We cannot condemn Nat Turner or John Brown because they did not recognize that, to lead the struggle to do away with all oppression, it is necessary to cast off the mental shackles of religion and take up a consistently scientific method and approach—just as we cannot condemn them for not fighting against what is today the main system of exploitation and oppression subjecting the masses of humanity to horrific suffering, the system of capitalism-imperialism, because in their time the most decisive immediate question was not (yet) the abolition of the capitalist-imperialist system and the ending of all relations of exploitation and oppression, but the abolition of the system of outright slaveryThat was the main (principal) contradiction being confronted. And the main (principal) aspect of what they did, in rising up against slavery, was overwhelmingly positive, even with certain definite secondary shortcomings (including the fact that, in the rebellion led by Nat Turner, they killed not only the adults but the children of slave-owning families).2

    The cancerous “cancel culture” carried out in the name of “wokeness” tramples on these crucial methods and principles. In “A Beautiful Uprising” I pointed to the fact that, in some cases it is actually clear, right away, what is right and wrong—things that should be upheld, and things (such as Confederate monuments) that should be repudiated and removed—while in many cases the situation is more complex. But “woke folk cancel culture” rejects the distinction between what is more immediately clear and what is more complex—and rejects rational discourse and serious, scientific exploration of and grappling with questions that may in fact be complex, replacing this with knee-jerk reactions, in accordance with whatever have become the momentary imperatives of “identity politics wokeness.” As I emphasized in Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis:

    where people have committed real crimes and outrages they should be held accountable; but there is also the need to look at the arc of someone’s life and what is the principal and defining aspect of their life. Is it the mistakes they’ve made, or even a really terrible thing they’ve done at some point? Is that the essential aspect of their life and what defines it? Or has their life involved real transformation, where what has come to define what they are about are the positive things that they have done and the positive trajectory to their life overall?

    What is involved here is a very wrong and harmful approach of “canceling” people—indicting them (in the realm of public opinion if not legally) and canceling them out—which is different than holding people accountable for serious acts of oppression or other outrages that they’ve committed but then also looking at the whole arc and main content of what their life has been about. (And this is made all the worse by the fact that it is often amplified through “trial in the media and social media,” with neither any prospect nor even any pretense of due process or any real attempt to get at the truth, fueled by the dangerous notion that a mere allegation is enough to condemn someone and make them a permanent pariah, and marked by a refusal to apply any measure of proportionality, to make any distinctions between different kinds and degrees of wrongdoing.)3

    Hope for Humanity


    It has to be said—and cannot be overstated—that, in the world today, there can be no just society without the rule of law; there can be no rule of law without due process of law; and there can be no due process of law without the presumption of innocence (and that presumption of innocence must be real—and not a farce, as it is in this society). That is why so much emphasis is given to these principles in the new communism, including specifically the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which I have authored.4

    It also has to be said that there can be no justice, and great harm will be done, where “trial in the media and social media” is treated as equivalent to, or a substitute for, due process—and this is especially so when what is involved are accusations not against representatives of state power, like the police, but against “ordinary people,” even wealthy and/or prominent ones. Yet “trial in the media and social media”—where mere accusations are treated as proof of guilt and there is a marked lack of proportionality (and at times even a refusal to recognize or accept the outcome of serious investigation and genuine due process)—this is what is clamored for and practiced with the cancerous “woke folk cancel culture.” This is just another version of the extremely harmful notion that “the ends justify the means” (that any means are justified if the goal is, or is proclaimed to be, righteous), something that is firmly rejected by the new communism and should be rejected by anyone who aspires to a truly just society.

    Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America cover 240


    But this kind of madness is what happens when petty bourgeois narrowness and cynicism—which is marked by (real, or artificial and fashionable) outrage at instances of social injustice but at the same time by a dismissal or outright rejection of any real attempt at bringing a truly just society into being, and which is often molded and manipulated by ruling bourgeois forces—is carried to fanatical extremes, unmoored from and in opposition to a rational, scientific method and approach. And this is made all the worse by the powerful influence of the extreme individualism that is promoted throughout this society, with its poisonous component of constantly seeking to “tear down” others (which has become a perverse “national sport”).

    And, among other things, “cancel culture,” in primarily targeting individuals, is an approach that tends to ignore, downplay and fail to really fight against the institutions and the whole system which constitute the deeper root and source of these outrages. Rarely, if ever, does this approach aim at “canceling” the whole system!

    All this is also an expression of “woke entrepreneurialism”: It treats oppression and opposition to oppression as “capital”—and seeks to “own” and “leverage” it—instead of fighting to abolish the oppression.

    Now, as with the original “two outmodeds,” it is important to have a definite understanding about which of these new “two outmodeds” represents the greater danger and does, by far, the greater harm. Clearly, it is the fascist lunacy, and not the “woke folk” insanity. But, at the same time, as with the original “two outmodeds,” these new “two outmodeds” also reinforce each other even while opposing each other, and this, too, is a dynamic that must be broken with, in rejecting and opposing both of these new “two outmodeds.” (And those who deny that “woke folk” insanity and “cancel culture” is a real and serious problem—insisting instead that what is involved is merely holding people accountable for wrong-doing—are refusing to look at, or are seriously distorting, reality. They are akin to those pseudo “leftists” who have tried to prettify Islamic fundamentalist terrorism by characterizing it as “political Islam” and even in some cases have tried to portray this as a positive force against western imperialism.)

    These New “Two Outmodeds”—Death Throes of This Moribund System—and the Revolution That Is Urgently Needed to Overthrow This System

    In my New Year’s Statement (A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation Of All Humanity), I pointed to the fact that, while they invoke very different political objectives, the fascists and the advocates of “identity politics” wokeness have much in common in terms of their epistemology (their approach to knowledge and truth). Both treat “truth” as something that conforms to subjective inclinations and prejudices, rather than to objective reality.5 And it has to be said that, in its social effect, “woke folk” insanity actually serves to reinforce and strengthen the fascist forces, which are quite capable of seizing on especially the most egregious expressions of this “wokeness” not just to mock and ridicule “woke” people but to deny very real oppression and obstruct the struggle against it, while in an overall way this “woke folk” insanity constitutes a diversion and evasion from—and actually does great harm to—the struggle against the oppression and exploitation of masses of people, here and throughout the world, and the need for revolution to abolish and uproot the basis for this oppression and exploitation.

    It is this revolution—an actual revolution, to overthrow and completely abolish this system of capitalism-imperialism and bring a radically different and much better society into being, on an entirely different foundation—which must be urgently built for now, through applying the scientific method and scientifically-grounded principles of the new communism, in opposition to everything that serves to enforce and reinforce this system of capitalism-imperialism, which embodies the most horrific oppression and which increasingly poses an existential threat to the very existence of humanity.



    1. Discussion of these “two outmodeds” (Jihad and McWorld/McCrusade) can be found in a number of works by Bob Avakian, including Bringing Forward Another Way, which is available at BA’s Collected Works. [back]

    2. The article Bob Avakian On A Beautiful Uprising: Right And Wrong, Methods And Principles is also available at [back]

    3. Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis, Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism is available at BA’s Collected Works. [back]

    4. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America is available at [back]

    5. New Year’s Statement By Bob Avakian, A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation Of All Humanity, available at [back]


    Imperialist Parasitism and Class-Social Recomposition in the U.S. From the 1970s to Today: An Exploration of Trends and Changes

    Author's Note: The following paper is the product of research inspired and guided by questions and contradictions posed by Bob Avakian about the workings of the imperialist world economy and the dominant position of the U.S. within it—and critical effects of this on the class and social structure of U.S. society.

    In Breakthroughs—The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, Bob Avakian writes of an increasingly globalized capitalism that:

    relies to a very great degree for production and for maintaining the rate of profit on a vast network of sweatshops, particularly in the oppressed countries of Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa (the Third World or global South), while capitalist activity in the capitalist-imperialist “home countries” is increasingly in the realm of finance and financial speculation, and the “high end” of (not the physical production of the basic physical materials for) high tech, as well as the service sector and the commercial sphere (including the growing role of online marketing). As Lenin phrased it, this puts “the seal of parasitism” on the whole of societies such as the U.S...

    In relation to that “seal of parasitism,” Bob Avakian posed two intertwined questions for research and grappling: How definite and operative is the connection between heightened globalization and intensification of exploitation by imperialism, in particular U.S. imperialism, in the oppressed countries of the Third World, on the one hand, and the changing social and class composition of the United States, on the other? Can these changes be understood as a defining expression of imperialist parasitism?

    The answer to these two questions is that there is in fact a very strong connection and, yes, the social-class changes that have taken place in the U.S. over the last few decades are very much a defining expression of imperialist parasitism.

    What follows are key findings and synthesis of investigation. A brief Summation of major themes of this paper is available at



    To understand why we are confronted with the situation we are, it is necessary not merely to respond to—and in effect be whipped around by—what is happening on the surface at any given time, but to dig beneath the surface, to discover the underlying mainsprings and causes of things, and arrive at an understanding of the fundamental problem and the actual solution.


    Parasitism is a concept that V.I. Lenin, the great communist theorist and leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917, worked with extensively in his analyses of imperialism—the system that dominates the world. Parasitism refers to the ways in which the imperialist countries benefit from the superexploitation of labor—horrific conditions of employment in which workers are paid at bare subsistence or below-subsistence levels—in the oppressed countries of Asia, Latin America, and Africa (the Third World or global South). This provides a critical source of profits and stimulus to the profitability of capital.

    The subjugation of the oppressed countries by imperialism not only distorts their economies and societies—such as the ways in which imperialist agribusiness devastates subsistence agriculture (food grown on small, family-based landholdings to meet basic survival needs) and drives people from rural areas into ever-swelling cities. This subjugation also “reacts back” on the entire social structure of the imperialist countries. The profits, or “spoils,” of empire enable the imperialists to maintain a certain, relative social stability in the heartlands of empire in normal times. Parasitism results in the greater concentration of wealth among bourgeois-financial strata whose economic activity is ever more divorced from the realm of production.

      The character of employment and the typical family household in the U.S. are very different today than in 1970 or 1980:

      • A profound transformation of the occupational structure (the types of jobs that people get) has occurred over the last 50 years. The U.S. economy is now overwhelmingly dominated by jobs in services—medical-health, other professions, information, finance, technical, government—as opposed to production. There has been a steep decline in manufacturing employment. The single largest occupational category in the U.S. is retail.
      • Big demographic changes in the labor force, especially involving women and immigrants, have taken place. At the start of 2020, women were the majority (slightly over 50 percent) of employees in the U.S. economy; and immigrants from the Third World are essential to profitable functioning of key segments of the U.S. economy.
      • There has been an ongoing disintegration of the traditional patriarchal household (married couple-family with children and a sole, male breadwinner). This is connected both with these economic changes, especially the decline of better-paying manufacturing jobs and resulting financial pressures on families, and with the struggles of women for equality and access to work and career, along with other social changes.
      • The post-World War 2 working class based in large-scale industry, with union protections, has shrunk massively in the U.Sas a proportion of the labor force—though there are still millions of industrial-manufacturing workers. This was happening as corporations relocated operations to low-wage countries to meet intensified competition and to maximize profits and introduced new job-displacing technology in efforts to raise efficiency and competitiveness.
      • The post-World War 2 “American middle class” of better paid workers who could achieve a “middle-class standard of living” and small proprietors has become less defining of the contemporary U.S. middle class. An upper middle class of professionals (“credentialed” with four-year college and advanced graduate degrees) and financial-administrative-technical strata has gained far greater economic and social weight and influence.

      Different factors have conditioned the shifts that have taken place in the class-social configuration of “late imperial” America. These include geopolitics, like the great power rivalry, including the “space race,” between the U.S. and Soviet Union... and the eventual demise of the Soviet Union and its imperialist bloc in 1989-91, which gave the U.S. greater maneuvering room internationally. The necessity of U.S. imperialism to maintain, enforce, and extend its empire has called forth military spending and investments in technology and computerization that spread through the economy. There is the impact of political and social struggles, especially those of Black people and women—and how they have influenced patterns of employment (like the expansion of government jobs for women and Black people).

      But the most decisive factor at work—not by itself but interpenetrating with these and other factors—has been deeper imperialist penetration into the Third World, and the fuller integration of the oppressed economies into the world capitalist economy. The defeat of the socialist revolution and the restoration of capitalism in China in 1976 was a critical development: the new rulers of China opened the floodgates to foreign capital investment and China became the epicenter of a massive new wave of imperialist globalization in the global South.

      Imperialist parasitism—superexploitation of the labor forces of the oppressed countries and plunder of raw materials—and fierce competition among the imperialist powers for markets has contributed to growing occupational polarization. The U.S. economy requires engineers, “money managers,” and information technology workers. It also needs low-paid cashiers, hospital orderlies, logistics and delivery workers, and low-paid food processing workers.

      The economic transformations of the last few decades... the dramatic turns of the economy, most notably the “great recession” of 2007-09... and the economic disruptions and widespread suffering related to the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic as it has unfolded within the structures and constraints of world capitalism... these major developments have NOT led to a “great leveling” within the U.S.

      This underscores an important feature of U.S. society:

      Imperialist globalization has contributed to an increasingly fractured, polarized, and “enclaved” society—not only racially but also in terms of different social groups. U.S. society is marked by extreme deprivation on the bottom... income and employment gains for professional-technical strata... and the obscene, grotesque redistribution and concentration of wealth towards a small upper fraction of society.

      For anyone yearning for a radically different and far better world, it is important to gain a scientific understanding of the nature and scope of the social-class changes that have taken place in U.S. society since 1970: their material roots and political-ideological manifestations. This is deeply shaping people’s lives. It is part of the ground on which fascism in the U.S. has grown and taken hold. These trends and changes have profound implications for socialist-communist revolution in this era—for being able to identify its bedrock and broader forces and for being able to recognize and act on the potential for and obstacles to making that revolution.

      Not least, it is this highly parasitic society that a truly radical, liberatory revolution must transform... as part of advancing the world revolution to emancipate all of humanity. In this light, Bob Avakian's New Year's Statement: A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation of Humanity is essential reading—to understand the dynamics that have led to the dire situation that humanity is now confronting and why revolution, guided by the new communism that Avakian has developed, is the only real alternative to this system of capitalism-imperialism with all its horrors.

      This research paper is divided into nine sections organized around these themes:

      1. Setting the stage: heightened imperialist globalization, shifts in the global labor force, and superexploitation in the Third World
      2. Imperialist globalization and financialization of the U.S. economy
      3. Massive decline of manufacturing employment in the U.S. economy... but not its disappearance; the attack on and decline of unions
      4. More on changes in the occupational structure and growing inequality in the U.S.
      5. When work disappears, the pain is great... but far greater for Black workers than for Trump’s “neglected” white worker; broader employment and unemployment trends, especially for Black people
      6. A changing economy and women’s struggle for equality: shifting gender norms colliding with patriarchy and its brutal reassertion
      7. Foreign-born workers in the U.S., and the “brain drain” from the Global South
      8. Not a “disappearing” middle class... but a reconfigured middle class whose traditional core has been “hollowed out”
      9. Growing regional divergence in the U.S. and growing inequalities


      Manufacturing factory in El Salvador


      Between 1970 and 2012, the share of Third World countries in the total amount of worldwide exports of manufactured goods rose from 20% to 60%.    Photo: Tegra

      The heightened imperialist globalization of production refers to the fact that a qualitatively greater share of industrial production serving the profit-making requirements of imperialist capital is carried out in wider parts of the world, outside the “home” (the domestic) market of the imperialist economies—even though the national-home market remains the single largest market and is the base of the national-imperialist capital of countries like the U.S., Japan, Germany, Russia, etc. This heightened globalization is an expression of the expand-or-die logic of capitalism-imperialism and the rivalry among imperial powers. Imperialist globalization involves the growth of manufacturing capacity (factories and equipment) and related transport, power generation, and communications in the oppressed countries of the Third World. It involves the integration of production activities worldwide under the dominance of imperialism.

      In particular, a greater share of manufacturing—whether we’re talking about the production of automotive equipment, clothing, appliances, and so forth—is carried out overseas by imperialist firms in the Third World. This is done through direct foreign investments, as when a General Motors sets up factories, distribution centers, etc. Or investment takes the form of “outsourcing,” as when a Walmart, Target, or Apple contracts out production to local firms in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. In all these cases, needed elements for production (like components required for Best Buy TVs produced by local companies in China) may be subcontracted out to yet other local suppliers.

      Syrian refugees including children in Turkey sweatshop


      Syrian refugees, including children, sew and haul bundles of clothes in subcontracted workshops in Turkey.   

      Some 30-35 percent of all exports leaving the U.S. and some 30-35 percent of all the imports entering the U.S. are actually goods that are being transferred within U.S. transnational companies (like General Motors, General Electric, Boeing, etc.) that straddle the globe. For instance, some 40 percent of the value of goods that the U.S. imports from Mexico is actually part of a loop-like process in which, to take an example, automotive parts manufactured in the U.S. might be shipped to Mexico for assembly, and then exported back to the same companies in the U.S. Boeing encourages its U.S. domestic suppliers of equipment to outsource to Mexico.

      This lowers costs for U.S. capital. It cheapens the cost of parts and supplies. It cheapens overall labor costs. Again, taking the case of Mexico, in 2016 average hourly manufacturing compensation costs (wages and benefits received by workers) in Mexico was $3.91; in the U.S. it was $39.03—in other words, workers in Mexico were receiving 1/10th the pay of U.S. workers in manufacturing.1 All this enhances profitability and is essential to bolstering the competitiveness of U.S. capital on the world market.

      ► A large percentage of the world’s clothing, appliances, and other consumer goods—and a growing share of the components and equipment, and other elements that enter into the production of more advanced manufactured goods in the imperialist countries—are being produced in the countries of the global South. Between 1970 and 2012, the share of Third World countries in the total amount of worldwide exports of manufactured goods rose from 20 percent to 60 percent.

      Before 1980 the great bulk of manufactured goods that developed capitalist and imperialist countries imported into their economies came from other advanced capitalist countries. But this has also changed: the share of imported manufactured goods of advanced capitalist countries coming from Third World countries rose from 10 percent in 1970 to 57 percent in 2012.2

      The imperialist world economy is marked by a situation where the process of production (increasingly carried out in the Third World) and the final consumption of goods (focused in the rich imperialist countries) are increasingly disconnected from each other. This is a major expression of modern-day imperialist parasitism.

      Let’s look at some examples:

      —If your shirt or iPhone could talk...

      In 1990, 56 percent of all clothes purchased in the U.S. were made in the U.S. By 2012, only 2 percent of these clothes were produced in the U.S. Most of the workers producing these garments and textiles are employed in the poor countries of the global South. Most are women, some are boys and girls. Fewer than 2 percent of workers in garment and textiles earn a “living wage.” In 2016, Western clothing giants like H&M, Next, and Esprit were found to have Syrian refugee children sewing and hauling bundles of clothes in subcontracted workshops in Turkey. The World Bank has calculated that in the global garment industry, the wage cost per clothing item produced is only 1 to 3 percent of the final selling price!3

      As the 2010s opened, most of Apple’s iPhones were assembled in a factory compound in China run by the Taiwanese-based company Foxconn. Employing 450,000 workers, this was the largest agglomeration of factory workers in the world. These workers were subjected to a relentless pace of work, and cruel systems of control, including public humiliation and punishment for speaking. It was outside the gates of this factory complex in 2010 that assembly line workers threw themselves off the roofs of towering 10- and 12-story dorms where many live—killing themselves in protest against such conditions.4 Note that Amazon, Microsoft, and Sony also outsource production to Foxconn.

        Making IPhones in China Foxconn factory


        Most Apple iPhones were assembled at this Foxconn factory in southern China. Foxconn employed 450,000 workers.    Photo: AP

        —Pharmaceuticals and medical

        The U.S. controls the dominant share of the highly profitable global pharmaceuticals market. It benefits more than any other imperialist country from the use of “intellectual property rights” (patents for new drugs that keep prices high and unaffordable for great numbers of people in the oppressed countries and that, for extended periods, prevent cheaper, generic versions from being produced). At the same time, 80 percent of the ingredients going into many of these patented drugs sold in the U.S. are manufactured abroad. China is the largest overseas supplier of compounds that go into drugs. And 40-50 percent of the generic drugs consumed in the U.S. are manufactured in India.5

        Or take the case of personal protective equipment. A product essential for protecting the lives of medical personnel who save lives is produced in imperialism’s supply-chain sweatshops that endanger lives. Consider the conditions at the Malaysian company Top Glove. It supplies 25 percent of the global rubber glove market.

        This is a company that has been sued for forced labor. Its workers live in dormitories, 20 to a single room, producing up to 220 million disposable gloves a day, with workers earning some $300 a month. With facemasks “soaked in sweat,” they work week after week of overtime, with no social distancing, and never receiving the results of COVID tests they are required to take. Of the 11,215 employees, 5,700 in a single complex have tested positive since November. A whistleblower who warned of the unsafe conditions and dangers was promptly fired.6

        Garment factory workers in Bangladesh


        The workers at Top Glove factory in Malaysia live in dormitories, 20 to a single room, produce 220 million disposable gloves a day for “roughly $300 a month in salary.” This is a case of how a product essential for protecting the lives of medical personnel who save lives is produced in sweatshops that endanger lives.    Photo: AP

        ► Pulling the lens back... supply chains and the competitive struggle for imperialist profitability.

        These are the workings of “supply chains” that began to take hold from the 1970s onward. A supply chain is an integrated network of production units, transport, and distribution forming the process of producing a final commodity for sale: from clothing, to automobiles, to pharmaceuticals, to electronics,  and jet engines. Imperialist capital contracts out to different suppliers that are links in interrelated segments of production. Supply chains encompass mining of materials, manufacture of parts and components, assembly of products, and transportation.

        Supply chains (sometimes called “value” or “commodity” chains) constitute what some scholars call the “new central nervous system” of the world (imperialist) economy. By the 2010s, 80 percent of global trade was flowing through supply chains dominated and controlled by Western transnational corporations. One in five jobs worldwide is linked to production in these chains.7

        Low-cost production in the oppressed countries is pivotal to the profitability of these supply chains.

        Now the same factory in China might be producing goods for different Western corporations. But supply chains are not some single monolith serving a single “super-imperialist” capital. They are privately controlled by competing corporations, banking, and investor groups. They are weapons in the competitive battle of imperialist capital for winning market share. The imperialist corporations that command these supply chains, that purchase the output from low-cost suppliers, put continual pressure on suppliers to further cheapen costs, and move operations from, let’s say, Indonesia to Vietnam. And as imperialist rivalry intensifies, supply chains are geographically reconfigured to lower costs, to minimize disruptions, and build up new or strengthen existing bases of competitive strength. This has been a phenomenon of the 2020-21 pandemic, as trade tensions between the U.S. and China grew.

        Imperialist supply chains combine 21st century high-tech global coordination of production and transport with 19th century sweatshop conditions in the oppressed countries, as in the garment factories of Bangladesh that employ 3.6 million workers, many of whom live in mud-drenched slums. Low-cost suppliers in Honduras, in China, in Vietnam, and elsewhere are competing with other suppliers to meet production targets and standards set by a company like Target. If that means factories with no grounded wire or fire exits... if it means makeshift buildings that collapse, only to be replaced quickly by others—so be it. That is the cost-cutting logic of capital and profit maximization.

        Think about it: Apple, the iconic emblem of so-called “American ingenuity” and “technological prowess,” would not be the U.S’s first $2 trillion company (a record ignominiously achieved during the COVID pandemic) without the 40,000 children who dig tunnels and haul rocks from cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo—providing a mineral essential to gas turbines and jet engines as well as to powering smartphones, laptops, electric cars, and other “devices of our times.”8

        Imperialist supply chains combine 21st century high-tech global coordination of production and transport with 19th century sweatshop conditions in the oppressed countries.

        ► Under the dominance of imperialist capital, a globally integrated, cheap-labor manufacturing economy has been forged. The numbers below show how the global industrial workforce is increasingly concentrated in the oppressed countries of the global South.

        1950: 34 percent of the world’s industrial workers lived in the global South
        1980: 53 percent of the world’s industrial workers lived in the global South
        2010: 79 percent of the world’s industrial workers lived in the global South9

        On the one hand, more of the world’s industrial production is carried out and more of the world’s workers are located in the Third World. On the other, the global labor force effectively doubled in size between 1980 and 2000—rising from 1.5 billion workers to 2.9 billion workers.10

        A major factor driving the vast enlargement of exploitable labor available to imperialist capital beginning in the 1980s was the defeat of the Chinese socialist revolution and restoration of capitalism in China in 1976. As imperialist globalization intensified through the 1980s and 1990s, a now-capitalist China was incorporated into the world imperialist economy—with Chinese sweatshops and low-cost factories integrated into global supply chains. For the last 20 years, China has been the second largest recipient of foreign investment, and the superexploitation of Chinese labor became a vital stimulus to imperialist profitability.*

        Put differently: there would be no “Walmart price” without the “China price”... based on savage exploitation. And keep in mind that Walmart is the largest retailer in the world (bigger than Amazon) and that 70 percent of Walmart’s merchandise is manufactured by workers in some 30,000 factories in China.11

        In this period of the 1980s and 1990s, India was also being more fully integrated into the world imperialist economy. By 2008, China accounted for 43 percent of all global supply chain jobs, followed by India with 16 percent of all global supply chain jobs. For both countries, the main destination for the goods they produced and sold on the world market was the U.S.12

        Young miners haul cobalt


        40,000 children dig tunnels and haul rocks from cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is an essential mineral for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, laptops and smart phones.    Photo: AP

        ► The vast growth of a global pool of labor—much of which is cheaply employed, under-employed (part time or temporary), and unemployed—puts downward pressure on wages worldwide, including in the U.S.

        How is this so? Accelerating in the 1980s, U.S. corporations were relocating more and more manufacturing jobs out of the U.S. to low-wage countries (and similar processes were at work in Western Europe). In those low-wage countries, an abundance of labor—people whose traditional rural livelihoods had been ruined... people flooding into the cities owing to poverty, war, violence, and ecological calamity... people desperate for work—this has created favorable conditions for superexploitation. The fact that more of what is manufactured in the world is produced by laborers in the oppressed countries subjected to cruel working conditions and low pay and the threat of “outsourcing” more jobs—this exerts downward pressure on average wages in the imperialist countries.

        ► At the same time, the vast increase of imported consumer goods based on highly productive, low-wage (intensely exploited) labor in the Third World has contributed to sustaining mass consumer purchasing power in the U.S. (and other imperialist countries). Low-cost production abroad has also contributed to lowering the cost of hiring workers in the imperialist countries.

        How is this so? Less skilled workers in the U.S. can be paid low wages and still hold on to a certain level of consumption, even as wages have been stagnant and even as people struggle to scrape by—for instance, by holding more than one job. This is because low-cost production in the oppressed countries has enabled prices of certain consumer goods to fall, like clothing and electronics. So the cost of a flat-screen TV, which is standard in the vast majority of households in the U.S., has come down—and this means that the amount of labor time that the average wage-earning worker in the U.S. must expend in order to buy that TV has also come down.

        Rohinga refugees in camp in Bangladesh


        People whose traditional livelihood was ruined from poverty, war, violence, and/or ecological calamity flee to cities. This has created favorable conditions for superexploitation. Here, some of the 3.5 million who have left oppressive conditions in Myanmar.    Photo: UNCHR

        An important point of understanding: the imperialist world economy is marked by a situation where the process of production (increasingly carried out in the Third World) and the final consumption of goods (focused in the rich imperialist countries) are increasingly disconnected from each other. This is a major expression of modern-day imperialist parasitism.


        Financial graphic showing complexity of finance


        Financialization refers to the greatly increasing importance and weight of banking-financial activity, investment in stocks and management of financial funds, the growth of new and ever-more speculative kinds of financial instruments (where there is great risk of loss but also expectation of great gain); and the general rise of financial profits in the overall economy.   

        Heightened globalization of production, with China at the epicenter of low-cost manufacturing production, has also gone hand in hand with heightened financialization in the rich imperialist countries, with the U.S. at the epicenter of this process.

        Financialization refers to the greatly increased importance and weight of banking-financial activity, investment in stocks and management of financial funds, the growth of new and ever more speculative kinds of financial instruments (where there is great risk of loss but also expectation of great gain); and the general rise of financial profits in the overall economy.

        In the early 1990s, Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE for short) surpassed manufacturing as the single largest sector of the U.S. economy.13

        The extraordinary growth and size of this FIRE sector is measured by its share of “output,” or the “value added” of its activity: like providing “financial services,” deriving fees for “managing risk,” facilitating buyouts and mergers of corporations, arranging “initial public offerings” of sale of stock of new companies poised to grab market share, and profiting from wild run-ups in “value” of stocks and exploiting momentary “price differences” between currencies (the euro, dollar, yen, etc.), profiting from “appreciation” (rising market worth) of commercial real estate, etc.

        The purpose of the quotation marks (“ ”) in the above paragraph is to call attention to the fact that this financial activity is not producing real new value in the economy. But these FIRE profits do not come out of thin air. They ultimately rest on real production, on a base of globalized production, on a feeding chain of global exploitation and superexploitation from which imperialist capital and financial institutions extract profits.

        Here is a useful characterization (put in somewhat technical terms) of some of the mechanisms at work:

        “Extremely high rates of exploitation rooted in low wages in the export-oriented periphery [the oppressed countries of the global South producing raw materials, parts, and finished goods for sale on the world market] have given rise to global surpluses [earnings from selling exports] that can nowhere be profitably absorbed within production [in these less-developed countries]. The exports of such economies are dependent on the consumption of wealthy economies, particularly the United States.... At the same time, the vast export surpluses generated in these ‘emerging’ export economies are attracted to the ... capital markets of the global North, where such global surpluses serve to reinforce the financialization of the accumulation process.”14

        Let’s put this parasitism and the larger workings of imperialism and the suffering it causes in more graphic terms:

        The toil and agony of superexploited labor in the hellholes of China’s export-processing zones in the 1990s and 2000s was providing U.S. companies with low-cost manufactured finished goods and parts and supplies, and huge profits... while also generating dollar earnings for these Chinese manufacturers exporting goods and other investors... who then exchange these dollars with the Chinese Central Bank... which invests these dollars in bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury. This inflow of funds into the U.S.—rooted in sweatshop labor—helped finance U.S. government spending and stimulated the U.S. economy in the early 2000s.

        This inflow of funds also fed a speculative housing bubble (remember the term FIRE—finance, insurance, and real estate)... a housing bubble that later morphed into the subprime mortgage crisis... a mortgage crisis that triggered the global financial crisis of 2008-09... that led to people losing homes and savings in the U.S.... and to the drying up of much imperialist bank lending to many poor Third World countries, leading to cuts in already minimal health spending in these countries... and more unnecessary suffering.

        Sortin piles of world currency


        The U.S. dollar is the main currency in the world: for conducting trade; for borrowing funds and repaying debt (when governments in the Third World borrow money, they must export goods to earn dollars with which to pay back what they owe imperialist banks and governments).   

        ► The parasitism of the U.S. economy is facilitated and buttressed by the “privileged” role of the dollar in international finance and trade. What does that mean? The U.S. dollar is the main currency in the world: for conducting trade (oil, for instance, is priced in dollars); for much of global bank lending and repayment of debt (when governments in the Third World borrow money, they must export goods to earn dollars with which to pay back what they owe imperialist banks and governments). The dollar and U.S. market also serve as a “safe haven” for overseas banks, corporations, large private investor institutions, and governments. They invest in U.S. property and financial markets to protect holdings against political and economic instability elsewhere in the world. This “special role” of the dollar gives the U.S. competitive leverage in the world economy; and enables the U.S. government to run up huge deficits in ways that other countries cannot.

        Financialization is not just a characteristic of the banking sector per se; it encompasses the increasingly financialized operations of companies like GE and GM (for instance, trading in global financial and currency markets; establishing financial lending arms). At the same time, on the financial sector side, companies like Master Card and Visa are “high-tech innovators” in artificial intelligence and digital commerce.

        In cities like New York and Los Angeles, employment in the FIRE sector is large. In New York City, one of every 12 workers is employed in finance and insurance alone.15 This sector generates demand for all kinds of services, for information technology, for communications infrastructure. Investment in U.S. commercial and luxury real estate, sports arenas, high-end shopping districts, and profit-driven gentrification of ever larger tracts of U.S. cities has had a huge impact on the urban landscape of “late imperial America.”

        The financial sector contains a high concentration of high-income earners. This has contributed to greater social inequality and social polarization in U.S. society: the enclave-like existence of different segments of the population manifested in housing, access to health care, schooling, and higher education.

        Gated community in the U.S.


        The financial sector contains a high concentration of high-income earners. This has contributed to greater social inequality and social polarization in U.S. society: the enclave-like existence of different segments of the population manifested in housing [gated community shown here], also is reflected in access to health care, schooling and higher education.   

        The heightened financialization of the U.S. economy is at once a product of and essential to the profitable functioning of an ever-more globalized world capitalism—in which imperialist capital and the imperialist countries benefit (siphoning value) from globalized, cheap-labor production networks. From the standpoint of how a consciously planned, socialist economy serving social need would function, this is cruel and absurd. From the standpoint of the requirements of this system of competitive, profit-based, globalized capitalism-imperialism... it is preeminently rational.


        In 2019, some 2,150 billionaires in the world, with the U.S. leading the pack, had more wealth than the 4.6 billion people who make up 60 percent of the planet! This is parasitism writ large. (Oxfam, Time to Care: Unpaid and underpaid care work and the global inequality crisis, Oxford: 2020)


        Detroit Packard Plant shut down


        Closed auto plant in Detroit.   

        ► Manufacturing employment as a share of total U.S. employment declined from 28 percent of all employed workers in 1960 to 8 percent in 2017. In terms of the actual numbers of workers, manufacturing employment fell from a peak of 19 million workers in 1978 to 12.4 million in 2017, a decline of one-third.16 Between 2001 and 2016, about 18,000 factories closed their doors in the U.S.17

        For the 25 years following the end of World War 2 in 1945, the U.S. enjoyed unmatched global economic supremacy and limited competition from other imperialist powers. But that changed in the early 1970s, with the growing economic strength of Japanese and German imperialism. In the 1980s, in particular, large numbers of manufacturing jobs in consumer electronics, automobiles, machine tools, steel, and microelectronics were lost to Japanese competition. Companies like Toyota made huge inroads into markets that U.S. companies had previously dominated, including the U.S. market. This competition was a spur to the kinds of intensified globalization of production discussed earlier—direct investment overseas, outsourcing. And the development of global supply chains has been essential in the battle for global market share.

        ► In 2010, China overtook the U.S. as the world’s largest manufacturerToday the U.S. is the world’s second largest manufacturer, and Japan is the third.

        The imperialist globalization of production, in particular the shift of manufacturing to oppressed countries, is not the only reason for the decline in manufacturing employment in the U.S. and other imperialist countries.

        ► Automation and technological change is the other decisive—actually, the main—factor that has contributed to the decline of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Automation involves machines replacing human labor, like robotics. From 1997 to 2016, real manufacturing output (the goods actually produced) in the U.S. rose 40 percent while manufacturing employment fell some 30 percent. That is a staggering statistic.18

        New technologies have led to increased productivity of labor: fewer workers producing more goods. Technological innovation and transformation, and the resulting rise in productivity and shrinkage of the better-paid manufacturing labor force, have been driven by the competitive capitalist need to raise efficiency, in order to preserve and extend market share and profits.

        Expansive warehouse at Amazon fulfillment center


        Warehouse employees have to get used to working with robots called “drives” that move goods through delivery-fulfillment centers. Robots speed up productivity and bring down costs. Keeping pace with this artificial intelligence technology is taking a toll on human workers' health, safety and morale. Photo: Amazon-YouTube-screencapture    Photo: Amazon-YouTube-screencapture

        ► That drive for efficiency and cost-cutting to maximize profits also called forth new corporate strategies of workplace reorganization. Intensifying international competition, particularly coming from Japanese imperialism in the 1980s, spurred new management practices like “lean production” and “downsizing”: eliminating jobs considered wasteful or that could be combined with others, making greater use of part-time and temporary labor, keeping inventories of products and materials at flexible levels in order to respond to volatile changes in global demand. The 1990s saw greater use of new monitoring (and surveillance) technologies to intensify the pace of work. These new modes of workplace organization put a premium on fewer workers producing greater output.

        Electronic device for surveillance of office workers


        The 1990s saw greater use of new monitoring (and surveillance) technologies to intensify the pace of work. These new modes of workplace organization put a premium on fewer workers producing greater output.   

        ► In the U.S. economy today, the largest segments of manufacturing, measured by sales revenues, include sectors like computer and electronic products; motor vehicles and parts; aerospace; machinery; refined petroleum products (fuels for transport, industry, etc., petrochemicals that go into plastics, fertilizers, etc.); pharmaceuticals. The U.S. is now the world’s largest oil producer (“achieved” during the Obama years). It is the leading manufacturer of commercial jets and dominates other aspects of aerospace. Measured by employment, auto and auto parts is the largest single sector of U.S. manufacturing, with some 1 million jobs in 2019.

        In looking at that category of “computer products,” keep in mind that Apple is classified as a “manufacturing company” in this sector. But while the iPhone is, as the label says, “designed in California,” the product is almost in its entirety manufactured abroad in low-wage countries, mainly China.

        Manufacturing in the U.S. demands, and has seen a shift towards, a labor force with a higher “skill set” and “educational attainment” than was the case 40 years ago. At the same time, and as supply chains operate within the U.S., there are low-paid, less-skilled tiers of workers producing parts and components, along with low-paid sectors like food processing. Temporary workers, most of whom receive lower wages than full-time workers, make up about 10 percent of the U.S. manufacturing labor force.

        ► The five largest manufacturing regions in the U.S. in terms of numbers of workers are, in this order: 1) Los Angeles Metropolitan area; 2) Chicago Metropolitan area; 3) Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan area; 4) Houston Metropolitan area; 5) Detroit Metropolitan area. The Los Angeles manufacturing hub encompasses the high-tech, aerospace sector of better-paid workers, and auto. It also includes the labor-intensive garment industry, which relies heavily on immigrant (and undocumented immigrant) workers—and other sectors, like electronic instruments, medical equipment and supplies.19

        Boeing airplane assembly line


        The U.S. is the leading manufacturer of commercial jets and dominates other aspects of aerospace. But Boeing has cut production of commercial jets in an effort to reduce costs as orders have slowed. Boeing plant in Renton, Washington, 2013.    Photo: Courtesy of Boeing

        ► The assault on unions by government and industry has been integral to “workplace reorganization” in the manufacturing sector and broader economy. In 1980, one in five workers was unionized (much of this in mining, manufacturing, and transport). In 2019, only one in 10 U.S. workers was represented by unions, a record low since the end of World War 2.

        An historical turning/tipping point came in 1981when then-president Ronald Reagan moved to crush a national strike by air traffic controllers. In the decades since, two things have been happening: a concerted attack on unions by companies and the growth of jobs that were not the traditional object of mass union drives. In the 1970s there were, on average, some 300 large strikes—involving at least 1,000 workers—every year. Through the 1990s that number plummeted to fewer than 60 major strikes per year; in the 10 years 2008-2018, the average number of large strikes per year was just 13!

        De-unionization has been a major contributing factor to growing wage inequality in the U.S.: the widening gaps in pay between different sections of the labor force. It is estimated that one-third of the growth of wage inequality among men, and a fifth among women, in the years 1973-2007 was due to fewer workers being represented by unions. To clarify what this means: the wages or earnings for significant sections of workers would have been substantially higher if those workers were covered by union contracts, which typically bring higher wages and benefits—and these workers’ wages are falling further behind those of better-paid workers (both union and non-union) and professionals.20


        Click to enlarge   

        ► The steep decline of manufacturing employment as a share of total employment is a stark and defining feature of a changing job mix in the U.S. One consequence is the enormous strain of limited opportunity this puts on young workers without college degrees searching for jobs. It is generally the case that two or even three service jobs can often be required to make up for the loss of income from, or to earn the equivalent of, one decent-paying manufacturing job.


        The discussion of the decline of manufacturing jobs would not be complete without an explicit, scientific retort to Donald Trump’s racist-fascist narrative that Mexican, Chinese, or other workers from Third World countries are “stealing jobs” from American workers. This has no empirical foundation:

        First off, many of those “lost” U.S. manufacturing jobs ”are “forever gone” to technology—like farm jobs that no longer, and will no longer, exist. In fact, as discussed, automation has been the main driver of job loss over these past 50 years.

        Second, workers in the global South are subjected to the same global cost-cutting dynamics of competitive capitalist accumulation and resulting job loss and relocation: jobs moving from Mexico to China, from China to Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia... from China back to Mexico. This is not workers from one country “stealing” jobs but capital “racing to the bottom” of wage scales.

        Finally, nobody “owns” their wage job. The capitalist class owns and controls the major means of production, and laborers must, in order to survive, sell their labor power to the capitalist. That private capitalist control over the means of production and the overall conditions of profitability set the terms for workers being hired or let go.

        What has changed in the last 30 years is that the exploitable-superexploitable labor force of the world has grown vastly and become more fully integrated into global networks of production commanded by imperialist-monopoly capital. And low-wage/high-productivity labor in the Third World plays a critical role in the production and accumulation of imperialist profit. Which is to say... sections of U.S. industrial workers are thrown on the scrap heap not by foreign workers but by the workings of profit-maximizing capital.


        Expansive hillside slum in Mumbai


        The rapid and chaotic urbanization of the Third World—the expansion of city populations without the corresponding growth of industrial and non-industrial employment and without rational urban planning—is leading to the rise of shanty-towns and slums on a scale not seen before in human history. Here, Mumbai, India, 2020.    Photo: AP

        ► By 1970, the United States completed the transition from a society in which most workers were predominantly engaged in goods-producing sectors of the economy (manufacturing, agriculture, mining) to one in which most were employed in service-producing sectors (like retail, finance, health care, education, etc.).

        Dennis Gilbert’s The American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality21 is a valuable reference that offers this overview of how this goods-to-service employment trend has played out in the U.S. over the past four decades, using data from the mid-2010s:

        “The post-industrial economy tends towards occupational polarization. It requires engineers, money managers, and physicians, but it also needs cashiers and hospital orderlies. The demand for routine blue-collar and office workers shrinks ... reducing the opportunities for workers without strong educational credentials.... The trend towards earnings inequality is remarkably pervasive. Inequality has increased between the college and high-school educated, between the skilled and unskilled, between younger and older workers, but also between the college educated, among the high-school educated, among doctors, among carpenters, among people employed in manufacturing, among those employed in the service sectors ... even among corporate executives.... The one notable exception to this pattern: the earnings gap between men and women has narrowed. But at the same time, earnings disparities have increased among women and among men.”22

        ► The largest single occupational category in the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is retail salespersons—followed by food preparation/serving workers (including fast food), and then cashiers. Walmart and Amazon are the two largest private employers in the U.S. It is emblematic that Amazon’s immense warehouse (“fulfillment center”) in the Baltimore area occupies the former site of what was once the largest steel-making facility in the world.

        ► The expansion of what is called “informal” or non-standard work is an important phenomenon of a highly competitive, turbo-charged globalized imperialist world economy. “Informal” employment refers to jobs that are highly insecure: without regular hours (or even set pay); with few if any safety and health protections; and few if any benefits, like unemployment pay or retirement support.

        Despite the growth of manufacturing and other industry in regions of the Third World, almost 70 percent of employment in low- and middle-income regions of the world is in the “informal economy.” This refers to street vendors, food stalls, rag and waste pickers, domestic workers, construction laborers, and others working without regular hours and pay. At the same time, other informal workers fall within far-flung subcontracting arrangements by large firms in industries like toys, footwear, and clothing.23

        This is very much linked to the dynamic of the rapid and chaotic urbanization of the Third World: the expansion of city populations without the corresponding growth of industrial and non-industrial employment... and without any kind of rational urban planning and allocation of resources for safe sewage disposal, for educational and health systems for these new migrants to the cities. And so the rise of shantytowns and slums on a scale not seen before in human history.

        In the imperialist countries since the 1980s, and tracking with intensified globalization of production, non-standard employment as a share of total employment has greatly risen. It is estimated by the imperialist think tank Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development that 60 percent of new job offerings in the 1990s and 2000s had these non-standard features of jobs without regular hours and pay and with few benefits. There has been a widening gap between those workers with more “standard” jobs and who have some small, limited measure of job security, on the one hand—and those, on the other, with non-standard jobs. Younger workers are more clustered in these less secure jobs.24

        Whole Foods delivery people lined up on their bikes


        In the U.S., 25-30 percent of the labor force participates in some capacity in what is now called the “gig economy”--and 1 in 10 workers relies on “gig work” as their primary source of income. Here, food delivery workers for Whole Foods.   

        ► In the U.S., 25-30 percent of the labor force participates in some capacity in what is now called the “gig economy”—and 1 in 10 workers relies on “gig work” as their primary source of income. This “gig economy” refers to temporary or freelance jobs, where workers often connect with clients and customers independently and mainly through online platforms.

        As throughout the U.S. economy, “gig work” is deeply segmented. Some of this work is high-paying/self-employed in technical/professional/financial services. Much of the “gig work” that goes on is supplementing other work, other jobs, that people might have. This is a new, non-traditional way in which people are working. Some of these “gig economy” jobs are held by the chronically under-employed (people in part-time or temporary jobs wanting to work full time)—and who often rely on this work as their primary livelihood.25

        The lower rungs of “just-in-time” logistics workers, including the so-called “last mile” delivery workers for digital commerce, emerged as an important component of the “gig economy” during the COVID-19 pandemic (many Amazon drivers are actually independently contracted and working under great duress).

        ► The pandemic and occupational inequalities. Access to “safely distanced” work situations is economically and socially polarized. In low-wage sectors with “essential workers,” like meatpacking, workers have long faced extremely hazardous work conditions, including high rates of industrial injury, etc. When the pandemic hit, major meatpacking companies balked at introducing safe-distancing and other protective measures; regular COVID testing was not implemented; and infection rates were high, especially in the early months of the crisis.

        In terms of who is able to “telework” (work from home): as the pandemic unfolded, only 9 percent of workers in the lowest 25 percent of wage-salary earners are able to “telework” from home, as compared with over 60 percent of those in the top 25 percent of wage-salary earners.26

        ► A large sector of low-wage workers is a characteristic of the U.S. labor force: 53 million workers—44 percent of all workers aged 18-64—hold low-wage jobs, with median hourly wages of $10.22 (and annual earnings of about $18,000). Nearly two-thirds of low-wage workers are in their prime working ages of 25 to 54—and 40 percent in this group are raising children.27 Close to half of workers earning less than $15 an hour are employed in what was designated at the start of the pandemic as “essential occupations,”  including nurses aides, personal care assistants, and maintenance workers.28



        Black unemployment has been consistently twice the level as for white workers.    Chart: Lance Lambert Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

        Historically, the manufacturing sector was the source of relatively high-paying jobs to men with high school or less education. The decline of manufacturing has had disruptive effects on the lives of workers of all races and national/ethnic groups—but disproportionately and massively so on Black workers and families.

        Some relevant documentation:

        ► Major job disruption in cities with large Black populations. In Detroit, middle-income Black families depended more on manufacturing jobs than white middle-income families: slightly less than one-third of all Black employed individuals worked for manufacturing companies—a rate almost twice that of white workers, making the loss of these jobs more devastating for Black families. From 1970 through 2013, the number of Black manufacturing, transportation, utilities, and construction workers employed in Detroit fell by nearly half: from 102,000 to 53,000. These workers’ average yearly earnings fell by almost $7,000 in the same period. In Chicago in 1960, one-third of Black workers were employed in manufacturing; in 2017, just 5 percent of Black workers had jobs in that sector.29

        ► Black workers have historically lagged behind white workers in household wealth. This refers to the value of vehicles owned, home value paid off, retirement savings, stocks, etc. When manufacturing downturns hit, white families had some resources and mobility to leave “de-industrialized communities” and seek out new work prospects. Black families did not have the same capacities, owing to a persistent and worsening “racial wealth gap” (less “household wealth”) and the dynamics of residential housing segregation: being “stuck in place” and not having the same ability to move into neighborhoods of choice because of discriminatory lending practices and other racist institutional barriers. Moreover, in the wake of major plant shutdowns and the overall evaporation of factory jobs, Black workers had considerably less access, and for many no access, to government job-retraining programs.

        Woman holds two bottles of contaminated Flint water.


        Flint's poisoned water system is a horrific case study of manufacturing decline, urban fiscal crisis, and unconsionable health endangerment.    Photo: AP

        ► Flint’s poisoned water system as a horrific case study of manufacturing decline, urban fiscal crisis, and unconscionable health endangerment.

        The city of Flint, with a population that is 60 percent Black, lost 70,000 manufacturing jobs—mainly as a result of the decline of auto production from the late 1970s to 2006. The city lost nearly half of its population (with many white people leaving) between 1960 and 2010. The financial stress this put on the city was immense. Because factories shut down, tax revenues fell; as that tax base contracted, it was harder for the city government to borrow money. This put great financial pressure on the city, leading to spending cuts and measures to cut costs.

        One such measure was the decision taken in April 2014 to change the city’s water source from treated water from the Detroit Water and Sewage Department from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to water sourced from the contaminated Flint River. Between 6,000 and 12,000 children were exposed to drinking water with high levels of lead—which may lead to cognitive-developmental impairment.30

        ► Manufacturing job loss and widening Black-white inequalities.

        As discussed, historically, the manufacturing sector provided well-paying jobs to less educated men. In the last 50 years, the decline of these types of better-paying jobs has not only had a broad adverse impact on less-educated men in general (including white men) but has also had a larger effect on Blacks relative to whites. In a society and economy in which capitalism and white supremacy are entwined, hardship is not equally distributed. The decline of manufacturing intensified economic and social inequalities between whites and Blacks.


        The decline of manufacturing intensified economic and social inequalities between whites and Blacks, 1980-2018. Click to enlarge.   

        The findings summarized in the study “Torn Apart? The Impact of Manufacturing Employment Decline on Black and White Americans.”31 are revealing.

        In terms of effects, the decline of manufacturing employment on the Black community:

        • The decline in manufacturing in the 1960-2010 period led to a 13 percent decline in Black male wages.
        • This decline accounted for one-third of the increase in wage inequality among Black men (in other words, more income going to higher-paid Black men).
        • This decline of manufacturing employment was associated with higher poverty rates for Black women and Black children.

        At the same time, there has been a widening difference in the economic and social conditions between Blacks and whites:

        • The decline in manufacturing increased the gap in wages between white and Black men.
        • The decline in manufacturing also contributed to widening the already substantial gap between Black children living in poverty and white children living in poverty.
        • There are similar outcomes over those 50 years in other dimensions as well, like widening gaps in Black home ownership relative to whites, and mortality rates for Black children relative to that of white children.

        So the decline in manufacturing employment has put a disproportionate burden on the Black community.

        ► On African-American employment trends overall. Here is a concise picture as of the mid-2010s:

        “Compared with whites, Blacks are still underrepresented at the top of the occupational structure and overrepresented at the bottom, most notably among service workers, which remains, by far, the largest single occupational category for Blacks.... Blacks are still much more likely than whites to have no job at all—especially in periods of recession....

        “One result of these trends has been increasing class differentiation among African-Americans. Although large numbers of young, well-educated Black men and women have been moving into jobs that were open to few of their parents, the Black underclass of low-wage or unemployed workers persists.

        “The Black-white pay gap, which had long been shrinking, began to expand after 1980. From 1980 to 2016, the median hourly wage of Black men (median is a kind of average) sank from 76 to 69 percent of white men’s. For Black women, who were near parity with white women in 1980, the retreat was even larger: from 90 to 80 percent. (The wages of Black women rose in this period, but white women’s wages rose faster.) In part, these trends reflect larger changes in the American economy, which have especially affected lower levels in the labor market, where Blacks are still disproportionately concentrated: falling employment in manufacturing, the decline of labor unions, the widening wage gap between college educated and less educated workers.”32

        The kind of occupational inequality that exists between whites and Blacks (especially the high concentration of Black workers in low-paying service jobs) is captured by this stark statistic: in the U.S. labor force in the mid-2010s, there were approximately health aides for every practicing physician, but 15 African-American health aides for every Black physician.33

        ► Black unemployment over the last 50 years has, on average, been twice the level of unemployment of white workers. And this official rate does not include individuals who are not actively looking for work.

        In fact, a higher proportion of would-be workers among Black people are “discouraged” workers. They have given up the search for work for extended periods, owing to discrimination and lack of jobs in close proximity to neighborhoods. Again, the impact of manufacturing job loss in cities where Blacks have lived and the movement of jobs to suburbs to which lower sections of the Black labor force do not have ready access—often because of lack of convenient public transportation, as well as housing discrimination.

        Many “discouraged” workers become “disconnected” from the formal economy.

        ► Systemic racism and under-employment among Black people. Underemployment refers to the phenomenon that a significant section of the working population is compelled to work part time or in temporary jobs—but really want to be working full time. And so, this grim reality: in 2019, in a pre-pandemic period of economic growth, the Black underemployment rate was 12 percent—that’s 1 out of every 8 Black workers, which is twice the level of underemployment for whites.

        ► Many African-Americans are working in jobs that do not reflect the skills and educational level they have achieved... they cannot gain employment in their chosen field. And so, this grim reality: in 2019, in a pre-pandemic period of economic growth, almost 40 percent of Black workers with a college degree or advanced (graduate school) degree who were employed... were working in a job that does not require a college degree. To put it differently, they are working in jobs that do not give expression to their skills, creativity, and aspirations.34

        In a cruel way, the U.S. prison system acts as a systematic “regulator” of jobs and labor markets for Black and Latino men in particular—steering the formerly incarcerated into low wage jobs and excluding them from better-paying jobs.

        ► The “crime of mass incarceration” perpetrated against Black people and its consequences for employment. As is well known, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. As is well documented, African-Americans are more likely to be incarcerated following an arrest than whites (states imprison Blacks at five times the rate of whites).

        The formerly incarcerated have a far more difficult time securing employment than does the general population. Studies show that having a “criminal record” reduces employer callback rates (after a formerly incarcerated person files a job application or interviews for a job) by 50 percent. The jobs that many formerly incarcerated do land tend to be insecure and low-paying. And exactly because of the instability of these jobs, people in and out of these jobs will often leave the labor force altogether, or enter into the “underground economy” of semi-legal work.35

        The formerly incarcerated of color return to impoverished neighborhoods of high unemployment (again, the vanishing manufacturing jobs that had once been a staple of local economies). Many with prison “records” are denied full access to public housing, to food stamps, student financial assistance, and job training. They face high barriers to getting certain jobs requiring occupational licenses and apprenticeships (and at the same time go through training and certification programs that lead nowhere). In some of the poorest Black communities, the formerly incarcerated confront a near total absence of or exclusion from regular, gainful employment and the omnipresence of a drug economy.

        In a cruel way, the U.S. prison system acts as a systematic “regulator” of jobs and labor markets for Black and Latino men in particular—steering the formerly incarcerated into low wage jobs and excluding them from better-paying jobs.36

        * * * *


        ► There has been a significant decline in the participation rate of men aged 23-54 in the labor force. In the 1950s and 1960s, 97 percent of men between the ages of 25 and 54 were working or looking for work; in 2018, this was down to 89 percent, and was much lower in distressed manufacturing regions.

        ► There have been changes in how long people work for one employer—and this has a gender dimension. Since the early 1970s, as manufacturing employment has declined, women have been entering the labor force by the millions. As these women get older, their “job tenure”—this means how long on average they stay with one employer—increases. But for men in certain age categories, job tenure has undergone change. In the 1980s, some 40 percent of men aged 50-59 had been in their current jobs 20 years or more. But by the mid-2010s, this had dropped sharply to 26 percent. This was especially pronounced in manufacturing, but occurred across a wide range of industries, including construction, retail, and agriculture.37

        ► “Angry white men” finding fascist “voice and vindication” in Trump-ism.

        As demonstrated in this analysis, white workers were not hit harder by economic strains and distress of the past 50 years than Black workers. But two things must be noted:

        First, the fabric and expectations of the “longstanding social world” of sections of privileged white male workers have been fraying since the late 1970s—especially since the early 1990s when globalization of production centered in China greatly accelerated. Steady, well-paying, “male-dominated” manufacturing jobs were being lost. The new jobs available were increasingly low-paid service, on the one hand, and those requiring more education on the other. And both categories of jobs have been and are increasingly populated by women and minorities.

        Second, sections of these strata were and remain fired up by a sense of “dispossession as members of the formerly autonomous, independent, lower middle class of independent farmers, small shopkeepers, and skilled workers.”38 The fascist response has been the mobilization of “aggrieved (white) male entitlement”: the cry of being “robbed and emasculated” of a “birthright” by “undeserving others” (fill in the blank). This is very much linked to the dynamics of imperialist globalization, the decline of manufacturing employment, and the erosion of previous conditions of relative stability and some measure of upward social mobility (the ability to climb job ladders and make gains in income). At the same time, there have been dramatic changes in the position and role of women in the economy and society that become grist for the politics of fascist resentment


        1970s women march for equality


        The struggle of women in the 1960s and 1970s for equality undermined traditional work expectations and life trajectories. Photo: Wikimediacommons   

        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.

        Bob Avakian

        The dynamics associated with the “post-industrial” transformation of the U.S. economy, resting on ever-more globalized production centered in the Third World, have interacted with the struggle of women in profound ways. This has had major effects both on the representation of women in the labor force and on the traditional patriarchal family (patriarchy referring to the dominant position of men in society and the economy).

        The ranks of working women increased markedly in the 1950s and 1960s. This took a further leap in the 50 years since. In 1968, 40 percent of working-age women were participating in the labor force—that is, either holding jobs or looking for jobs; in 2018, 60 percent of working-age women were in the labor force. In January 2020, just before the pandemic hit, women were the majority (just over 50 percent) of employees in the United States.39

        ► The massive entry of women into the labor force has been driven both by economic necessity and political-social struggle. As “well-paying” manufacturing jobs with benefits were vanishing—and these jobs were predominantly held by males—the wages of the male “breadwinner” (the person whose earnings support a family) could no longer financially support that family.

        This economic pressure compelled more married women to seek work. This was simultaneously accompanied by the great expansion of the largely low-paying, female-dominated service economy. Some of the key sectors are retail, health care, and education. Much of that employment, such as in rapidly expanding retail like Walmart, “offered” highly variable work hours at low wages and with few benefits. Growing numbers of married women entered the labor force—preponderantly into these kinds of jobs—and this helped buffer against loss of family income from the decline of male manufacturing employment.

        At the same time, the struggle of women in the 1960s and 1970s for equality was undermining traditional work expectations and life trajectoriesOccupational barriers were being broken down as married and unmarried women—often using laws like Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (which prohibits discrimination by employers based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin)—fought for the opportunity to make employment decisions for themselves and to pursue a career outside the home.

        Anti-discrimination and affirmative action measures had a major effect of boosting the employment of women, as well as Black workers, in particular sectors, especially government jobs. For decades, women have made up the majority of the state and local government workforce, and in 2019, women made up 60 percent of all state and local public-sector workers.40

        In the last 50 years, work has become a core part of women’s identity, an identity no longer strictly defined and circumscribed as “homemaker” or “support system” for men. But this was/is happening in a male supremacist and white supremacist society.

        In the early 2000s, only 1 of 14 households in the U.S. was made up of a married couple with children in which only the husband works.

        ► Social and cultural changes and the vanishing “traditional family.”

        Important social-cultural changes have facilitated women entering into, and being pulled into, the workforce. These include wider availability of contraception and a declining birth rate; a rising divorce rate; and the increasing proportion of births to single women. In the United States today, mothers are the breadwinners in nearly half of families with children under 18. Forty-five percent of white mothers are the breadwinners, 47 percent of Latina mothers, and 74 percent of Black mothers.41

        By 1970, the traditional American family of a married couple with children “headed” by a sole male breadwinner (the stuff of old TV shows) was disintegrating. In the early 2000s, only 1 of 14 households in the U.S. was made up of a married couple with children in which only the husband works.42

        By 2015, 20 percent of all family households were headed by females—up from 10 percent in 1970. For families with children, over 25 percent are headed by women (in other words, neither a “male breadwinner” nor two-parent incomes). These families experience high levels of poverty.43

        ► Huge increase of women gaining college degrees and women’s increasing presence in the professions.

        As the U.S. expanded higher education in the late 1950s and 1960s (this was strongly linked to the global competition with the Soviet Union), more women began entering and graduating from college and graduate school. This trend accelerated from the 1970s onward. Since 1982, women have earned more bachelor (4-year) degrees than men. At the graduate school level: in 1971 women received just over 10 percent of doctoral degrees, by 2014 it was over 50 percent; in 1970, women made up just over 5 percent of medical school graduates; today some 50 percent of medical school graduates are women.44



        ► Inequality among women in the labor force

        While women of all economic and racial/ethnic groups entered the workforce in greater numbers, this also took place alongside a major divide between professions open to middle-class women with college and graduate degrees and the kinds of work generally available to less-educated women, especially women of color.

        Indeed, part of the conditions that made it more “feasible” for professional women to enter higher-paying occupations has been the expansion of services like housecleaning, day care, home health care, and food preparation. These jobs are largely low-paying and overwhelmingly performed by women—and many of the home and care jobs are filled by immigrant women from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, and other parts of the Third World.

        At the same time, households headed by women, especially women of color, face enormous financial strain and hardship. These women struggle to support families generally without access to affordable child care and paid family and medical leave.

        So there is this “pulling in different directions,” in terms of family income. Married heterosexual couples in which both spouses work in the professions have seen a great increase in their combined family income. And the earnings of wives in these households have been pivotal to the growing share of total income of the top 20 percent of families in the U.S. Meanwhile, the difficult circumstances facing female-headed families with children has put downward pressure on the incomes of those on the lower rungs of society.

        Patriarchy continues to place the onus of choosing between “career or family” on women. The unequal, patriarchal division of labor that continues to assert itself—and the lack of social-government policies to support caregivers who also work—means that the norm for working mothers is that they return home to a “second shift” of unpaid housework and caregiving.

        “At the end of the day,” even though working parents are the modern norm—women still spend far more time caring for children and performing household labor than men with the same parental and working status. And through the 2020-21 COVID pandemic, great numbers of women have had to leave jobs because of school closures and caregiving responsibilities—and various studies have shown that women are doing significantly more of the additional childcare, education, and housework during the pandemic.45


        Chart: PEW

        ► Changing economy and gender roles... and men. Men continue to benefit from structural-institutional male privilege in job access, pay, and workplace authority. But there has been a downward trend for sections of male workers compared to the pre-1970 situation, with respect to a) acquisition of skills; b) employment rates; c) occupational “status” (the vanishing of well-paying manufacturing jobs); and d) real wage levels (especially for those without a college education).

        As globalization, technological transformation, and the decline of unions accelerated, the economy, as already discussed, was shifting from occupations traditionally dominated by men to more female-dominated, low-paying service jobs, many of which have the “stigma” of “women’s work” attached to them: like caregiving, which is profoundly devalued in this society. (More men are joining some of these jobs, but not at the rate that women are joining male-dominated jobs.)

        As the U.S. economy has undergone the economic-social changes described, principally driven by leaps in imperialist globalization, there is this new reality of “late imperial America”: more women at work... more of household income being provided by women, and in growing numbers of households with two wage earners, women earning more than husbands... and more men at home unwilling to take certain jobs, or locked out of work (as is the situation facing currently incarcerated and formerly incarcerated Black and Latino men). This alongside the continuing unraveling of the “traditional” family.

        ► The massive entry of women into the workforce has not overcome “gender segregation of jobs.” The last 50 years have seen more men and women moving into “non-traditional” occupations: for instance, more women becoming doctors and more men becoming nurses. But the mixing of women and men in occupations slowed down after the 1990s and came to a halt in the 2000s. More than 40 percent of workers are in occupations in which more than 75 percent of workers are of one gender.

        One of three working women is employed in two industries: health care and social assistance, and the so-called leisure and hospitality industry (food and beverage, hotels and other lodging, travel, etc.). But even when men and women work in the same occupation—as hairdressers, cosmetologists, nurses, teachers, computer engineers, mechanical engineers, or construction workers—men earn more, on average, than women.

        The concentration of women, especially women of color, in the hospitality and service sectors made them particularly vulnerable to the economic disruptions of the pandemic—these were jobs that shut down early. Relative to their pre-pandemic employment levels, Black and Latina women suffered the greatest employment setbacks in the first year of the pandemic relative to any demographic in the labor force.46

        Women continue to be under-represented in certain industries and occupations and are paid less than men in all sectors. Today a woman employed full-time, year round, earns about 80 cents for every dollar earned by a similarly employed man. In relation to white non-Hispanic men, white women earn 79 cents, Black women 63 cents, and Latinas just 55 cents.47

        ► And across all occupations, the plague of sexual harassment

        What has been called the “‘manly’ jobs problem” refers to a diminishing set of jobs and an associated workplace culture where being “adept” is defined in aggressive, masculine terms of physical strength. Again, that sense of male entitlement “threatened” both by the contraction of manufacturing employment and by the entry, starting in the 1970s, of women into these jobs (as well as construction and mining). Women perceived as “undeserving” and “unqualified”; women as the objects of the vile and violent reassertion of male hegemony.

        The #MeToo outpouring of 2017-2018 against male sexual abuse, harassment, and degradation initially erupted in media companies, technology start-ups, and the entertainment industry. The cancer is pervasive. This is from an account of a 25-year legal battle to redress sexual harassment of women who had worked at a Chicago Ford plant. Many of these women had finally won jobs that paid a living wage. They lifted their heads only to find that:

        Bosses and fellow laborers treated them as property or prey. Men crudely commented on their breasts and buttocks; graffiti of penises carved into tables.... They groped women, pressed against them, simulated sex acts.... Supervisors traded better assignments for sex and punished those who refused.

        In her last year there [one of the African-American plaintiffs who quit her job at Ford] said she earned $23 an hour; at Bed Bath & Beyond, she got only one-third of that pay. [Since leaving Ford], she worked as a home-health aide at night and mowed lawns during the day.... “I’m 61 years old, and I cut grass for a living.”48

        Extensive research shows that women are driven out of non-traditional occupations by hostile work environments. Some 60 percent of women working in science, technology, and engineering jobs experience sexual harassment. Over time some half of women in these occupations quit their jobs—and half of them wind up leaving these fields altogether.49


        Thousands of migrants traveling north to U.S. Mexico border


        In 2015, 150 million migrants, overwhelmingly from the global South, were part of the global labor force. Almost half of these workers are concentrated in two regions: Western Europe and the United States. Migrants from Central America headed north, stop in Chiapas, Mexico.    Photo: IOM (International Organization of Migration)

        Imperialist globalization has intensified the flow of migrant laborers and immigrant workers from Third World countries to the rich countries.

        migrant worker is a person who migrates from one country (or region) to another to seek employment—but not with the intention of permanently staying in that country. In 2015, 150 million migrants, overwhelmingly from the global South, were part of the global labor force. Almost half of these workers are concentrated in two regions: Western Europe and the United States. The vast majority of these migrants (70 percent) are employed in services, a significant number of them are domestic workers, and 73 percent of all migrant domestic workers are women. Immigrants are those who leave a country to settle permanently somewhere else, and who have the option of returning home.50

        All told, the number of people in the world who live outside the country of their birth has risen from 153 million in 1990 to 272 million in 2019.51 Growing numbers of refugees are part of the world’s migrant population—tens of millions who have been forced by circumstances to leave their countries to seek safety and asylum—but who often wind up in impoverished refugee camps and brutal detention centers.

        The increasing flows of migrant workers and immigrants to the imperialist countries are bound up with conditions of imperialist domination, plunder, and distorted development in the oppressed countries. Imperialist agribusiness undermining traditional agriculture, with the poverty and dislocation that results; the ruinous long-term effects of U.S.-sponsored wars on the economies of countries like El Salvador and Guatemala; and the destructive effects of global warming on agriculture and rural life.

        At the same time, the deepening integration of the economies of the global South into the world imperialist system has spurred the growth of middle class and professional strata in these countries—and the imperialist countries exert a pull on these strata. There is the magnet of better-paying/high-paying, and more secure technical and professional jobs, along with advanced research and hospital facilities, etc., and a relatively more stable political-social environment. So, the rich capitalist countries draw in the down-pressed and the educated-professional middle strata (and take measures to attract highly skilled immigrants).

        Women farmworkers harvesting corn


        Immigrants and migrant workers make up 17 percent of the U.S. workforce, that's about 1 in 6 workers. 1 out of 3 immigrants in the work force is estimated to be an undocumented immigrant. Because of their precarious status, the 8 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force are not fully protected by U.S. labor laws.    Photo: FERN-News

        A) Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Force

        The United States has more immigrants than any other country in the world. As of 2017, some 44 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country. This is a record number in the history of the U.S. Immigrants represent 13.6 percent of the total U.S. population, up from 4.7 percent of the population in 1970—which amounts to an almost a three-fold increase. The 1990s saw a huge increase in the number of immigrants coming into the U.S. The number of adult immigrants coming into the U.S. and the grown children of immigrants is now a major and critical source of the increase in the U.S.’s potential labor force—people who would be working or looking for work.52

        ► Most of the immigrants in the U.S. come from three countries, in this order: Mexico, China, and India. There are 11 million immigrants from Mexico, compared to some 3 million from China, and 2.6 million from India. So Mexico is far and away the largest source of immigrants in the U.S. This has everything to do with deep poverty in Mexico, intensified by the North American Free Trade Pact (NAFTA) that took effect in 1994, and which opened up more of Mexico’s economy to U.S. imperialist capital. As of the 2010s, the fastest growing segment of immigrants to the U.S. is from Asia.53

        ► Immigrants and migrant workers make up 17 percent of the U.S. workforce, some 1 in 6 workers—and 1 out of 3 immigrants in the workforce is estimated to be an undocumented immigrant. Immigrants represent 25 percent of all construction workers and 40 percent of all meatpacking workers. And anywhere from 50-75 percent of the field workers who grow, harvest, and process the  food that Americans eat are undocumented immigrants, overwhelmingly from Mexico. Undocumented workers make up 25 percent of all maids and cleaners in the U.S.54

        Because of their precarious status, the estimated 8 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. labor force are not fully protected by U.S. labor laws. They are subjected by employers to substandard working conditions and unpaid wages. The sword of deportation hangs over their heads—and the reality and threat of deportation are part of the conditions in which undocumented workers are profitably incorporated as a superexploitable section of the U.S. workforce... living in the shadows.

        Migrants from Turkey arrive by boat at Lesbos, Greece.


        Imperialist globalization has intensified the flow of migrant laborers and immigrant workers from Third World countries to the rich countries. Migrants from Turkey arrive in Lesbos, Greece, March 2020.    Photo: AP

        ► A defining feature of the relations between the rich capitalist countries and the oppressed countries of the global South is the growing importance of funds that migrant and immigrant workers living and working in the rich countries send home to support their families. While this might amount on average to only 15 percent of these immigrant workers’ earnings in the U.S., this money is often a lifeline for the poor families back home of these immigrant workers—needed cash for basic necessities.

        Funds that overseas workers send home are called “remittances.” These financial flows have grown so enormously over the last four decades that their year-to-year amount now exceeds the year-to-year amount of imperialist foreign aid sent to the oppressed countries and imperialist private direct foreign investment (as when Ford opens a factory) in the oppressed countries.55 The exploiting ruling classes of the oppressed countries in turn count on remittances from migrant workers to provide some financial relief towards economic and social stability in conditions of high unemployment and poverty.

        Funds sent home by Mexican immigrant workers in the U.S. play an integral role in the current and strategic economic relations of domination by the U.S. over Mexico.

        There is a vicious dynamic bound up with the workings of imperialist global expansion. Imperialism’s deepening penetration and anarchic transformation of the oppressed countries drive people from their home countries to the imperialist countries to find jobs. Immigrant workers from Mexico typically work in the lower rungs of the U.S. labor force, where they are subjected to harsh conditions of employment and pay.

        Mexico is now the U.S.’s largest trade partner, having replaced China in 2019. As rivalry for global markets with capitalist-imperialist China intensifies, the manufacturing supply chains in Mexico take on magnified importance for U.S. imperialism and global competitiveness. And the remittances sent home by Mexican immigrants working in the U.S. help sustain impoverished households that form part of the reservoir of superexploitable labor serving the profit-maximizing requirements of U.S. imperialist capital.


        The number of international students in master’s and doctorate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs now earn more than half of all degrees conferred. Companies sponsoring international technical workers has been integral to the growth of top tech companies. The most well-known way companies hire foreign workers is the H1-B visa, a three-year work visa for a “specialty occupation.”    Source: One Zero

        B) Imperialist Parasitism and the “Brain Drain” from the Third World to the Imperialist Countries

        ► High Tech and Foreign-Born Workers

        The recruitment of skilled foreign workers from the Third World has played, and continues to play, an essential role in America’s high-tech sector.

        High tech refers to those industries and companies with a high concentration of workers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It includes firms in computers, software development, and information technologies; robotics; biotech; and artificial intelligence. It includes companies like Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google, Oracle—and new “start-up” companies in these fields. The historical hub of high tech has been Silicon Valley, the area south of San Francisco.

        High tech has been a major source of U.S. imperialism’s competitive strength in the world economy. U.S. technological advances today are highly dependent on investment in the high-tech sector, including by Apple, Alphabet-Google, and Microsoft. The supply chains discussed in this paper require sophisticated information, communications, cost-monitoring, and logistics technologies. The genocidal military machine of U.S. imperialism requires this technology. Indeed, there would be no high tech/Silicon Valley absent U.S. government and Pentagon investments, contracts, and funding for science, space, and modern computing.

        In this light, think about the following imperio-chauvinist account by former U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham regarding the important role of skilled foreign workers in the emergence of Silicon Valley:

        “Silicon Valley is a vital catalyst for America’s economic edge. It is the global center of the digital revolution.... The country reaps the economic benefits of having some of the largest and most innovative technology companies and research centers housed within our borders.

        “But in the late 1970s, the center of technology revolution wasn’t guaranteed to occur in the US

        “At the time, top computer talent was scattered across the globe, and the industry needed a place where the best and brightest could gather to collaborate and innovate. It could have been anywhere—but Silicon Valley ended up in America.


        “The answer, in large part, is because the US opened its doors to skilled foreign workers.”56

        In 1965, the “door opened” with the repeal of the Immigration Act of 1924—facilitating a large inflow of skilled foreign workers, overwhelmingly from the Third World, particularly India. Many were recruited and hired into the burgeoning tech centers of the U.S., notably Silicon Valley. This is a “brain drain” from the poor countries to the rich countries. It is a “subsidy” to imperialism: the cost of training these skilled workers is borne by their home countries. The former U.S. Energy Secretary gleefully recounts that between 1973 and 1977, more than 60 percent of the top electrical engineering graduates from the India Institute of Technology came to the U.S.

        The door for skilled workers opened wider in 1990, when the U.S. introduced a special visa (H-1B) that allowed U.S. employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers on a temporary basis. In the mid-2010s, 70 percent of these visas were issued to engineers and other high-tech workers from India.

        ► Over 70 percent of information technology employees in Silicon Valley in the mid-2010s were foreign born. In Seattle, another high-tech hub, the share of high-tech workers born abroad increased from 11 percent in 1990 to 40 percent in 2016—and more than 40 percent of these tech workers come from India.57

        A strategic sector of the U.S. economy thrives on a “brain drain.”

        C) “Stealing” Health Care Professionals from the Third World.

        In 2015, the number of African-trained medical graduates practicing in the U.S. alone was some 14,000, a 27 percent increase over 2005. This is the equivalent of one African-educated physician migrating to the U.S. each day over those 10 years, 2005-15.

        In the mid-2010s, there were more than 247,000 doctors with medical degrees from foreign countries practicing in the United States—accounting for over 1 in 4 doctors in the U.S. Some 23 percent of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides are foreign-born. One in 10 of such aides comes from the Caribbean and Central America alone!58 There has been a century-long colonial/neo-colonial relationship between the U.S. health care system and medical colleges and nursing schools in the Philippines, which have essentially trained huge numbers of nurses to work in the U.S. And in times of health crisis in the U.S., as with AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, more nurses from the Philippines are steered to the U.S.

        As more graduates of U.S. medical schools go into high-paying specialized medicine, more primary care positions in the U.S. are being filled—more of the basic health care needs of Americans are being met—by physicians and health workers from Third World countries. This exacerbates health care shortages in the Third World. Countries that are major “providers” of doctors to the U.S. and other imperialist countries include India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and South Africa—all countries that suffer shortfalls of physicians.59

        Many medical professionals are born abroad.


        The American health care system is highly dependent on professionals born in other countries, an analysis of U.S. census data shows. As of March 2020, there were just over one million professionally active physicians in the United States, and about 1 in 4 are from other countries.   

        How this plays out in Africa overall is criminal. According to the World Health Organization, Africa has more than 24 percent of the global burden of disease, but has access to only 3 percent of health workers and less than 1 percent of the world’s financial resources spent on health. Africa is in chronic (crisis) need of health care for mothers and their infants. But Africa has experienced an enormous drain of skilled medical professionals to the imperialist countries—to Great Britain and the U.S. in particular.

        In 2015, the number of African-trained medical graduates practicing in the U.S. alone was some 14,000, a 27 percent increase over 2005. This is the equivalent of one African-educated physician migrating to the U.S. each day over those 10 years, 2005-15. It is estimated that Africa loses $2 billion annually through the brain drain from the health sector, in terms of the unreimbursed costs of training of medical personnel in African countries who then immigrate to the West, and related losses suffered.60

        But the “cost” goes far beyond the ways in which poor countries are financially subsidizing rich countries by providing medical personnel. There is the loss of lives that emigrating physicians could have saved, especially children under the age of fiveTo put this in stark perspective: at the height of the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, there was an average of 2 doctors per 100,000 in Sierra Leone, and 45 per 100,000 in Nigeria—as compared to some 250 doctors per 100,000 people in the U.S.61

        The “brain drain” from the Third World is a savage expression of imperialist parasitism.


        Globalization and deindustrialization have not led to a “great leveling.” The U.S. is a far more polarized, fractured, and segmented society than it was in 1970. This is true economically, socially, regionally, and politically.

        A certain historical configuration of the U.S. middle class has shrunk. This middle class grew and to some degree thrived economically in the 1945-75 period. It encompassed and was centered on sections of better-paid and unionized workers in large-scale industry, craftsmen, small-business owners, lower managers, salaried public sector workers like teachers, and those in professions not requiring college or advanced degrees.

        This middle class was a social base for the “American dream” with its ideological beckoning of material security, the ability of a family to buy a home and “build up some wealth,” and the promise of some upward social mobility (the ability to earn more) for itself and its children. This middle class has seen its conditions deteriorate. There are contradictory effects of the loosening grip of the cohering myth of the American dream. Traditional expectations have been exploded. This is also part of the ground on which Trump fascism feeds.

        This decline of the core of the traditional middle class is very much related to what has been analyzed, notably the waves of globalization, technological change, and downsizing of the manufacturing labor force. The auto and steel companies were no longer providing the scale of well-paying, low-skilled jobs that they had in the past, with union agreements offering pensions and benefits. The “big box” stores (Target, Home Depot, etc.) were putting immense cost pressure on small businesses. Teachers have been hard hit since the 1970s—suffering big losses in income as state governments slashed budgets over the last decades. The health care sector remains one of the few in which “middle class-paying” jobs with low- and mid-level skills are being generated.

        At the same time, the economic forces working in this direction were also contributing to the growth of an upper end of the U.S. middle class. Concretely, imperialist globalization, technological change, and heightened financialization—and with this the evolution of many U.S. companies like IBM and Dell from production to services over the last few decades—stimulated the expansion of higher-income “domestic supply chain” service jobs. Jobs like operations managers, computer programmers, etc. Their average earnings in the mid-2010s were $63,000. At the higher end of these services—like engineering, design, software publishing, logistics services, etc.—earnings averaged $89,000.

        So with the decline of the traditional middle class has come the growth of an upper end of the professional and “new entrepreneurial” petite bourgeoisie. It is found in finance, information technology, biotech, in the legal and medical professions, consulting, and other such sectors. People work as salaried employees and independent contractors, and as business owners. In 1970, 18 percent of the middle class worked in business and professional services; in 2015, 33 percent of the middle class worked in these sectors.

        This change in the composition of the middle class has also been a factor contributing to growing inequality in U.S. society. On the one hand, you have the deteriorating situation of the traditional “blue-collar middle class” (those better-paid workers in highly unionized industry who aspired to and achieved a certain middle class lifestyle). In 1971, 28 percent of adults in middle-income households were in manufacturing; in 2015, that figure was 11 percent. On the other, you have the increase in households earning more than $126,000 a year, which in 2015 accounted for 1 in 5 households in the U.S. These households often consist of those highly educated, high-earning married couples in the professions.

        So the middle class has declined from an estimated 60 percent of the adult population in the early 1970s to 50 percent or so in 2015, largely because of the decline of its “traditional” core. Meanwhile, an “upper end” of the middle class has grown and made substantial income gains.

        To return to a basic understanding of this paper: the expanding upper-end professions exist on the foundation of parasitic globalized production (think Apple) and sit at the higher reaches of the imperialist feeding chain—but those working within these professions are also subject to the work-intensity pressures and squeezes of global competition and profit-maximizing capital.


        Supplementary Technical Note: The data and income categories in this section are drawn from Sam Fleming and Shawn Donnan, “America’s Middle-Class Meltdown: Core shrinks to half of US homes,” Financial Times, December 9, 2015. They work from the Pew Research Center database. The measure of traditional middle class used is a household having an income that ranges from two-thirds of the median income to two times that income. “Median” is a kind of average income, in which half of wage and salary earners earn more and half earn less. The upper middle class household is one whose income is 2 to 3 times the overall median household income.


        It’s a very marked feature of the society right compared to, say, 50 years ago, [that] this society is much more rigidly divided into different strata and much more enclaved.... [T]here is a widening and hardening of class and social divisions, not just along ‘racial lines,’ or in terms of national oppression, but also more broadly in terms of different social groups in society.

        —Bob Avakian

        A number of mainstream economists have pointed to a growing divergence (a widening gulf) of incomes among regions in the United States. Some express worry that there is no foreseeable (translation: bourgeois) solution to this and its socially and politically polarizing implications.62

        For most of the 20th century, incomes were converging among regions in the United States. But since 1980, incomes have been growing further apart by region. This accelerated in the 1990s—much of this linked with the loss of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and the rise of capitalist China as the manufacturing center of the world imperialist economy.

        The point is, it is not simply that certain sections of the U.S. labor force were hit harder by the loss of jobs and income in consequence of imperialist outsourcing, intensifying global imperialist competition, and technological change. Nor simply that other sections of the labor force have fared far better in terms of jobs and income. It is also the case that these upward and downward trends are more concentrated in certain regions—for instance, heavy manufacturing job losses in the Midwest and the growth of new high-earning middle class professions in the Northeast, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Pacific Northwest, etc.

        The high-earning, so-called “knowledge economy”employing a highly educated workforce, turning scientific discoveries and research towards profit-making application, and linked with university-research and medical-hospital complexes—is locally clustered in particular cities and in regions (as mentioned above).

        Further, the enormous concentration of capital in companies like Amazon, which so thoroughly dominates digital commerce, is another engine of regional inequality—both on the low end of grueling, $10 an hour jobs (Amazon added 425,000 non-seasonal workers during the first 10 months of 2020) and in how it funnels money into wealthier parts of the country, like Seattle and Washington, D.C.63

        At the same time, there is increasing regional divergence within states: between coastal cities and cities and towns in the interiors of states.

        ► In New York in particular but also in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a few other cities that function as financial-administrative command and control centers of empire, class and social divides are extreme, widening, and hardening. With the growth of wealth on the upper end has come the growth of “wealth work” on the lower end: an expanding category of low-paid “urban servants”—grooming the better-off, stretching them, driving them, delivering for them. Women and immigrants perform much of this work. Many of these workers commute long distances from low-cost neighborhoods to perform this work.

        ► As we have seen, a growing share of men of prime working age (25-54) are not working or seeking work. Among white men in this category in non-metropolitan areas, the last 20 years saw a rising death rate, especially among 25-44 year olds, due to suicide, opioids, etc. Places such as Kentucky and West Virginia had the same life expectancy as New York as recently as 1990; today they lag five years behind.64

        Workers without a college education are still the majority of the U.S. labor force. But today there is very little “upward mobility”—that is, improvement of earnings and incomes over time—for non-college-educated workers. The earnings differentials between non-college-educated and college-educated workers have widened. “Upward mobility” is almost exclusively the preserve of the college-educated—especially so in those regions and cities where high tech, the “knowledge economy,” and finance are concentrated. But as we have also seen, in the racialized and gendered labor markets of U.S. capitalist-imperialism, there is pervasive inequality, including among those with college and advanced degrees.

        ► Globalization and deindustrialization have not led to a “great leveling.” The U.S. is a far more polarized, fractured, and segmented society than it was in 1970. This is true economically, socially, regionally, and politically.

        A crucial insight of Bob Avakian that has helped guide—and that is confirmed through—this analysis: “It’s a very marked feature of the society right compared to, say, 50 years ago, [that] this society is much more rigidly divided into different strata and much more enclaved.... [T]here is a widening and hardening of class and social divisions, not just along ‘racial lines,’ or in terms of national oppression, but also more broadly in terms of different social groups in society.”65

        This system crushes and deadens the human spirit as well as grinding away the life—or outright stealing the life—of billions of people in every part of the world.

        Think of the tremendous waste—and outright destruction—of human potential that results from all this. All this is the consequence of the fact that the world, and the masses of humanity, are forced to live under the domination of this system of capitalism-imperialism.

        All this is the basis on which a relatively small part of the people within this country, and a very small part of humanity as a whole, has the conditions and the “freedom” to develop and apply their initiative and creativity—only to have this serve, under this system, to reinforce the “lopsided,” highly unequal and profoundly oppressive conditions in the world as a whole and for the masses of people in the world.

        And all of this is completely unnecessary.

        —Bob Avakian


        At the start of this paper, the question was posed: How definite and operative is the connection between heightened globalization and intensification of exploitation by imperialism, in particular U.S. imperialism, in the oppressed countries of the Third World, on the one hand, and the changing social and class composition of the United States, on the other? Can these changes be understood as a defining expression of imperialist parasitism?

        This paper demonstrates that the answer is a definitive yes...

        But not in a simple, mechanical way. Heightened globalization is not the only cause of changing social and class composition; nor is there a one-to-one connection between, let’s say, the increase in jobs in global supply chains and the loss of jobs in the U.S. This paper has also shown how the “changing social and class composition in the United States” has been influenced by other important factors, like technological transformation and social struggles. These have interacted with the intensification of exploitation in the oppressed countries of the global South by imperialism.

        In understanding trends and changes, it is necessary to recognize the role of contingency as well—that is, major events and shaping circumstances that were not certain to occur and could not have been fully anticipated. Of major importance in this regard was the collapse of the social-imperialist Soviet Union and its bloc in 1989-91, and the defeat of socialism and the restoration of capitalism in Maoist China in 1976. China’s trajectory from 1976 to the present—from a subordinate, capitalist “workshop/sweatshop” for Western imperialism, to a rising imperialist power—has had enormous impacts on and consequences for the world imperialist economy and rivalry among the major imperialist powers.

        Imperialist parasitism, of the U.S. in particular, has been heightened through a massive new wave of globalization and deepened penetration of the Third World, especially since 1990. And the changes in the social and class composition in the U.S. over these past 50 years are indeed, in ways illustrated in this paper, a “defining expression of imperialist parasitism.”

        Bob Avakian reveals the underlying reality of this capitalist-imperialist system:

        This system crushes and deadens the human spirit as well as grinding away the life—or outright stealing the life—of billions of people in every part of the world.

        Think of the tremendous waste—and outright destruction—of human potential that results from all this. All this is the consequence of the fact that the world, and the masses of humanity, are forced to live under the domination of this system of capitalism-imperialism.

        All this is the basis on which a relatively small part of the people within this country, and a very small part of humanity as a whole, has the conditions and the “freedom” to develop and apply their initiative and creativity—only to have this serve, under this system, to reinforce the “lopsided,” highly unequal and profoundly oppressive conditions in the world as a whole and for the masses of people in the world.

        And all of this is completely unnecessary.66

        Hope for Humanity


        * It is beyond the scope of this paper to analyze the complex dynamics of China’s emergence as a major imperialist power, now contending globally with U.S. imperialism. For the 25 years 1980-2005—and especially through the 1990s when foreign capital flooded in—China principally functioned as a dependent “sweatshop for Western imperialism,” offering up vast labor reserves. Foreign companies were deriving huge gross profits from differences between cost of production and retail price (and a company like Apple has had the additional monopolistic advantages of patented technologies, branding, and retailing). And it is still the case that vast transfers of value are taking place, even as China’s ruling class has built up, and is rapidly accelerating the build-up of, a powerful, independent base of national-imperialist accumulation. [back]

        1. Congressional Research Service, U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective, 2018.  [back]

        2. Data from John Smith, Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis, New York: Monthly Review Press, 2016, p. 53.  [back]

        3. Data from Dana Thomas, Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, New York: Penguin, 2019, Introduction.  [back]

        4. See Brian Merchant, The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone, New York: Back Bay, 2018; and Keith A. Spencer, A People’s History of Silicon Valley: How the Tech Industry Exploits Workers, Erodes Privacy, and Undermines Democracy, London: London Publishing, 2018.  [back]

        5. CNBC, “Fears of US drug shortages grow as India locks down to curb the coronavirus,” March 19, 2020.  [back]

        6. See “A Company Made P.P.E. for the World, Now Its Workers Have the Virus,” New York Times, December 20, 2020.  [back]

        7. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, World Investment Report, 2013; International Labor Organization, World Employment and Social Outlook 2015: The Changing Nature of Jobs, 2015.  [back]

        8. See “Apple and Google named in US lawsuit over Congolese child cobalt mining deaths,” The Guardian, December 16, 2019.  [back]

        9. Smith, Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century, p. 100.  [back]

        10. See the widely cited study by Richard Freeman, The Great Doubling: The Challenge of the New Global Labor Market, New York: The New Press: 2006.  [back]

        11. Oscar Quine, “Walmart Triples India Exports as Major U.S. Companies Pivot From China,” Newsweek, December 15, 2020.  [back]

        12. See Intan Suwandi, et al., “Global Commodity Chains and the New Imperialism,” Monthly Review, March 2019.  [back]

        13. Bureau of Economic Analysis data cited in “America’s Path To A Fire Economy,” Global Macro Monitor, June 5, 2019.  [back]

        14. John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney, The Endless Crisis, New York: Monthly Review Press, 2012, p. 63.  [back]

        15. “Recent trends in employment and wages in New York City’s finance and insurance sector,” Monthly Labor Review, April 2019.  [back]

        16. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  [back]

        17. Alan S. Brown, “State of American Manufacturing 2019,” American Society of Mechanical Engineers, April 30, 2019.  [back]

        18. “Most Americans unaware that as U.S. manufacturing jobs have disappeared, output has grown,” Pew Research Center, July 25, 2017.  [back]

        19. Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited in “What Gets Made in LA Is Way More Than Movies,” National Public Radio, November 30, 2015.  [back]

        20. Data on unions and strikes from Steven Greenhouse, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor, New York: Knopf, 2019.  [back]

        21. Dennis Gilbert, The American Class Structure in an Age of Growing Inequality, Thousand Oaks, CA.: SAGE Publications, 2018.  [back]

        22. Gilbert, pp. 251-2.  [back]

        23. World Bank, “Challenges of Informality,” in Global Economic Prospects, January 2019; and J.J. Thomas, Surviving in the City: The Urban Informal Sector in Latin America, London: Pluto, 1995.  [back]

        24. See Aaron Benanav, “Automation and the Future of Work,” New Left Review, November-December 2019.  [back]

        25. See Gig Economy Data Hub, “How many gig workers are there?” and “Who participates in the gig economy?” March 15, 2020.  [back]

        26. Economic Policy Institute, “Not everybody can work from home: Black and Hispanic workers are much less likely to be able to telework,” March 19, 2020.  [back]

        27. Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman, Meet the low-wage work force, Brookings Institution, November 2019.  [back]

        28. “Essential workers comprise about half of all workers in low-paid occupations,” Brookings Institution, November 15, 2020.  [back]

        29. Data from Center for American Progress, “Trade and Race,” July 18, 2019; The Atlantic, “Chicago’s Awful Divide,” March, 2018.  [back]

        30. For background, see Anna Clark, The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water, and the American Urban Tragedy, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2018; and Peter Hammer, “The Flint Water Crisis, the Karegnondi Water Authority and Strategic-Structural Racism,” Testimony to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, July 18, 2016.  [back]

        31. Eric Gould, VOX, Center for Economic Policy Research, 19 December 2018.  [back]

        32. Gilbert, p. 58.  [back]

        33. Gilbert, p. 58.  [back]

        34. Data from Elise Gould and Valerie Wilson, Black workers face two of the most lethal preexisting conditions for coronavirus—racism and economic inequality, Economic Policy Institute, June 2020.  [back]

        35. See Lucius Coulotte and Daniel Kopf, Out of Prison & Out of Work: Unemployment among formerly incarcerated people,” Prison Policy Initiative, July 2018.  [back]

        36. For detailed documentation of ways this plays out in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods, see Jamie Peck and Nik Theodore, “Carceral Chicago: Making the Ex-offender Employability Crisis,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, May 2008; see also, Reuben Jonathan Miller, Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2021.  [back]

        37. Data in this section from Raven Molly, et al., Changing Stability in U.S. Employment Relationships, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2020.  [back]

        38. Michael Kimmel, Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era, New York: Nation Books, 2017, p. 277.  [back]

        39. Bureau of Labor Statistics; and Tara Law, “Women Are Now the Majority of the U.S. Workforce—But Working Women Still Face Serious Challenges,” Time, January 16, 2020.  [back]

        40. David Cooper and Julia Wolfe, “Cuts to the state and local public sector will disproportionately harm women and Black workers,” Brookings Blog, July 9, 2020.  [back]

        41. Sarah Jane Glyn, “Breadwinning Mothers Continue To Be the U.S. Norm,” Center for American Progress, May 10, 2019.  [back]

        42. “Traditional Families Account for Only 7 Percent of U.S. Households,” Population Reference Bureau, March 2, 2003.  [back]

        43. Gilbert, Growing Inequality, p. 84.  [back]

        44. Data from “Professional Women: A Gendered Look at Inequality in the U.S. Workforce,” Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, 2017; Data base, Association of American Medical Colleges.  [back]

        45. Claire Cain Miller, “Mothers Return to Work While Handling Covid Burdens at Home,” New York Times, March 5, 2021.  [back]

        46. Ella Koeze, “The Job Recovery Is Slowest for the Disadvantaged,” New York Times, March 10, 2021.  [back]

        47. Data in preceding section from Valerie Wilson, Exposed and underpaid: Women still make less than men, including in sectors especially affected by the coronavirus, Economic Policy Institute, March 30, 2020.  [back]

        48. Susan Chira, “How Tough Is It to Change a Culture of Harassment? Ask Women at Ford,” New York Times, December 19, 2017.  [back]

        49. Wilson, “Exposed and underpaid.”  [back]

        50. International Labor Organization, ILO Estimates on Migrant Workers, December 2015.  [back]

        51. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, International Migration 2019.  [back]

        52. Jynnah Radford, Key findings about U.S. immigrants, Pew Research Center, June 17, 2019; Jeffrey Passel and D’Vera Cohn, Immigration projected to drive growth in U.S. working-age population through at least 2035, Pew Research Center, March 2017.  [back]

        53. Radford, Key findings about U.S. immigrants.  [back]

        54. See Radford, Key Findings; Stephen Groves and Sophia Tareen, “U.S. meatpacking industry relies on immigrant workers. But a shortage looms,” Los Angeles Times, May 26, 2020; Miriam Jordan, “Farmworkers, Mostly Undocumented, Become ‘Essential,’” New York Times, April 2, 2020.  [back]

        55. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Remittances matter: 8 facts you don’t know about the money migrants send home, June 17, 2019.)  [back]

        56. Spencer Abraham, “The U.S. is only a leader in tech because of foreign workers.” Business Insider, November 29, 2018. Emphasis added.  [back]

        57. Adrian Otoiu and Emilia Titan, “Trends among native- and foreign-origin workers in U.S. computer industries,” Monthly Labor Review, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, December 2017; Gene Balk, “More than half of Seattle’s software developers were born outside the U.S.,” Seattle Times, January 17, 2018.  [back]

        58. American Immigration Council, Foreign-Trained Doctors are Critical to Serving Many US Communities, January 2018; Journal of American Medical Association, “Proportion of Non-US-Born and Noncitizen Health Care Professionals in the United States in 2016,” December 4, 2018.  [back]

        59. See Matt McAllester, “America Is Stealing the World’s Doctors,” New York Times, March 7, 2012.  [back]

        60. Mo Ibrahim Foundation News, Brain drain: a bane to Africa’s potential, August 9, 2018.  [back]

        61. Statista, Physician density in West African countries suffering from the 2014 Ebola outbreak, August 16, 2014.  [back]

        62. See Paul Krugman, Regional Economics: Understanding the Third Great Transition, September 2019 Memo for conference sponsored by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.  [back]

        63. See Alec MacGillis, Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-Click America, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2021.  [back]

        64. Krugman, Regional Economics.  [back]

        65. Bob Avakian, The New Communism, 2016, p.235.  [back]

        66. Bob Avakian, “Capitalism-Imperialism—The Suffocation of Seven Billion—and the Profound Need for a World on New Foundations.”  [back]

      • ARTICLE:

        Parasitism and Class-Social Recomposition in the U.S. From the 1970s to Today: Introduction-Summary


        In Breakthroughs—The Historic Breakthrough by Marx and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, Bob Avakian writes that an increasingly globalized capitalism:

        relies to a very great degree for production and for maintaining the rate of profit on a vast network of sweatshops, particularly in the Third World of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, while capitalist activity in the capitalist-imperialist “home countries” is increasingly in the realm of finance and financial speculation, and the “high end” of  (not the physical production of the basic physical materials for) high tech, as well as the service sector and the commercial sphere (including the growing role of online marketing). As Lenin phrased it, this puts the “seal of parasitism” on the whole of societies such as the U.S.

         In relation to that “seal of parasitism,” Bob Avakian posed two intertwined questions for research and grappling: Is there a definite and operative connection between heightened globalization and intensification of exploitation by imperialism, in particular U.S. imperialism, in the Third World (or “global South,” as it is often called) and the changing social and class composition of the U.S, as a defining expression of imperialist parasitism? The answer is yes.

        This research paper is now posted at In what follows, I highlight some of the key findings and conclusions.

        A profound transformation of the occupational structure and of the distribution of income in the U.S. has occurred over the last 45 years. This is bound up with important demographic shifts and changes, like a growing proportion of women, and proportionately more immigrants from the Third World, in the labor force. American society is very different than it was in 1970. How people enter into the economy, job prospects, living standards, the goods that people consume, declining social mobility, patterns of inequality—all this and more are part of the picture.

        Different factors have been at work—but deeper imperialist penetration into the Third World, and fuller integration of the oppressed economies into the world-capitalist economy, has been decisive.

        Parasitism is an important concept that V.I. Lenin, the great communist theorist and leader of the Russian Revolution of 1917, worked with extensively in his analyses of imperialism, the system that dominates the world. Parasitism refers to the ways in which the imperialist countries benefit from the superexploitation of labor—horrific conditions of employment with pay that is at bare subsistence or below-subsistence levels—in the poor countries of Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The subjugation of the oppressed countries by imperialism not only distorts the economies and societies of the global South but also “reacts back” on the entire social structure of the imperialist countries. The profits, or “spoils,” of empire enable the imperialists to maintain a certain, relative social stability in the heartlands of empire in normal times. Parasitism results in the greater concentration of wealth among bourgeois-financial strata evermore divorced from organizing production.

        Bob Avakian has further extended and applied this concept of “parasitism” to develop a deeper, a more scientific, understanding not only of defining economic features of the world imperialist economy today, but also ideological and cultural phenomena: like the “selfie” and “brand me” individualism rampant in America, and the aggressive chauvinism that sees America as the source of wealth and “good” in the world. People need to understand the material roots of the changes that have taken place in U.S. society. These changes have implications for revolution—for its bedrock and broader forces, and the potential for and obstacles to making revolution. And for understanding the highly parasitic society that the socialist-communist revolution must transform

        In this light, Bob Avakian's New Year's Statement A New Year, The Urgent Need for a Radically New World—For the Emancipation of Humanity  is essential reading—to understand the dynamics that have led to the dire situation that humanity is now confronting and why revolution, guided by the new communism that Avakian has developed, is the only real alternative to this system of capitalism-imperialism with all its horrors.

        Globalization, de-industrialization, and downsizing of the last few decades have not led to a “great leveling” in the U.S. Rather, this has contributed to an increasingly fractured, polarized, and “enclaved” society—not only racially but also in terms of different social groups. America is a society marked by extreme deprivation on the bottom...income and employment gains for “credentialed” professional-technical strata...the transfer of value produced by superexploited labor in the oppressed countries to the imperialist countries...and the extreme, grotesque upward redistribution to and concentration of wealth among a smaller fraction of society.

        Here are more specific findings of the study:

        *By the 2010s, 80 percent of global trade was flowing through global supply chains dominated and controlled by Western transnational corporations. These supply chains connect different units of production worldwide in the manufacture and transport of goods. They combine high-tech, 21st century coordination with 19th century sweatshop conditions. Women workers are a major share of the supply chain labor force, as in the garment factories of Sri Lanka. Think about it. Apple, the iconic emblem of so-called “American ingenuity,” would not exist without global commodity chains that require and thrive on brutally “efficient” assembly lines in China, where suicide was a form of work protest in the early 2010s. Think about it, Apple would not be the U.S.'s first 2 trillion dollar company without the 40,000 children who dig tunnels and haul rocks in the cobalt mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

        *From 1970 to 2012, the share of developing nations in world exports of manufactured goods— like auto and plane parts, apparel and electronic devices—rose from 20 percent to 60 percent. Many of these exports become part of domestic production in the imperialist countries.

        *In 1950, 34 percent of the world's industrial workers lived in “less developed regions”; in 1980 that share rose to 54 percent; and in 2010 it soared to 79 percent. This industrial-labor force shift has enhanced the profitability of imperialist capital and put downward pressure on wages worldwide.

        *In the U.S. over the last 40 years, manufacturing employment (traditionally better paid and more stable) declined as a share of total U.S. employment: from 28 percent in 1960 to 8 percent in 2017. The loss of millions of manufacturing jobs over this period is very much connected to global outsourcing and sub-contracting, as in border factories in Mexico, and direct investment (U.S. companies opening auto factories in China). This decline in manufacturing employment, along with more output being produced by fewer workers, is also the result of technological transformation—like robotics, information technology, transport innovations, etc.—and corporate strategies of downsizing and “more efficient” modes of workplace organization. In 2010 China replaced the U.S. as the world's largest manufacturer (measured by output).

        *Two or even three service jobs are often required to replace the income of one decent-paying manufacturing job.

        *The disruptive and job-squeezing effects of “deindustrialization” have hit Black and Latino workers especially hard. Many African-American workers have become part of a “surplus” labor force—unemployed or underemployed. Many of the formerly incarcerated are locked out of the labor market or channeled into poverty-wage, irregular jobs.

        *A major demographic change in the U.S. economy over the last 50 years is the further leap in women's participation in the labor force, including the professions. At the start of 2020, women were the majority (slightly over 50 percent) of employees in the U.S. This change has been driven both by economic necessity and political-social struggle. The “traditional” patriarchal household (married-couple family with children and a sole male breadwinner) no longer prevails. Yet shifting gender norms are colliding with the brutal reassertion of patriarchy, including pervasive sexual harassment and entrenched inequality.

        *The vast increase of low-cost imported consumer goods based on superexploitation—high-productivity/low (often below subsistence) wage labor—in the oppressed countries has allowed prices to fall (the “Walmart price”) and cheapened the cost of labor-power in the U.S. These imports have also helped sustain mass-consumer purchasing power in the imperialist countries—even with advancing de-industrialization and downward pressure on wages and employment.

        *The single largest employment category in the U.S. is retail.

        *Heightened globalization has gone hand in hand with heightened financialization of the U.S. economy. By the early 1990s, the finance, insurance and real estate sector surpassed manufacturing as a share of the U.S. economy (GDP).

        *Imperialist parasitism—superexploitation of the labor forces of the oppressed countries and plunder of raw materials—and fierce imperialist competition for markets has contributed to growing occupational polarization in the U.S. The U.S. economy requires engineers, money managers, and information technology workers...but it also needs cashiers, hospital orderlies, and low-paid logistics and delivery workers.

        *Globally, an important trend is the expansion of non-standard or what is called “informal” work—non-regulated, low pay, and irregular (legal and illegal) employment. This is what rules in the burgeoning urban slums of the Third World, where well over 1 billion desperately struggle to survive. 

        *In the U.S., 1 in 10 workers relies on “gig work” (freelance, contract, like Uber) as their primary income source.

        *Heightened imperialist globalization has led to a significant increase in immigration (both official and undocumented) to the U.S. and other imperialist countries from the oppressed countries. Key sectors of the U.S. economy rely on immigrant labor for profitability—like construction, meatpacking, and crop farms—with workers subjected to cruel conditions of employment, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the system's edict to work and possibly die...or go hungry and homeless.

        *A “brain drain” from the oppressed to the imperialist countries has severely impacted the impoverished countries—at the same that it has been a source of competitive advantage for U.S. imperialism. Seventy-one percent of tech employees in Silicon Valley in the mid-2010s were foreign born. Why did Silicon Valley end up in America? The answer is multidimensional, but the “brain drain,” especially from South Asia, is an essential factor.

        *Slightly more than 1 in 4 doctors in the U.S. is foreign-born. Africa, which has the “greatest “disease burden” in the world, was losing on average 1 African-educated physician to the U.S. a day in 2015. Keep in mind that during the height of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, there was an average of 45 doctors per 100,000 in Nigeria—compared to 250 in the U.S. One in 10 nursing, psychiatric, and home-health aides comes from the Caribbean and Central America alone—while basic health needs go unmet in these countries.

        *A trend towards pervasive and widening income inequality is a basic feature of the U.S. labor force: income inequality between college- and non-college educated, between highly skilled and lesser skilled, etc., and within professions. Upward mobility in the U.S. is almost entirely for the college-educated but almost entirely downward for non-college educated (still the majority of the labor force). 

        *The traditional “blue-collar” middle class has shrunk, but the middle-class has not disappeared; rather, it has become more centered around higher-paid business and professional services.

        *The labor force of the so-called “knowledge economy” (professional-financial-university/educational-information technology) is clustered in certain geographic areas, especially cities. So there are great regional divergences in income as well. This is linked with the role of cities like New York City and Los Angeles as parasitic financial-administrative-command centers of imperialist capital and empire. And with this has come the emergence of a new underclass of “urban servants” servicing “wealth workers.”

        As stated at the start, the U.S. is a far more polarized, fractured, and segmented society than it was in 1970. Globalization and deindustrialization have not led to a “great leveling.”

        Bob Avakian reveals the underlying reality of this capitalist-imperialist system:

        This system crushes and deadens the human spirit as well as grinding away the life—or outright stealing the life—of billions of people in every part of the world.

        Think of the tremendous waste—and outright destruction—of human potential that results from this. All this is the consequence of the fact that the world, and the masses of humanity, are forced to live under the dominance of this system of capitalism-imperialism. 

        All this is the basis on which a relatively small part of the people within this country, and a very small part of humanity as a whole, has the conditions and “freedom” to develop and apply their initiative and creativity—only to have this serve, under this system, to reinforce the “lopsided,” highly unequal and profoundly oppressive conditions in the world as a whole and for the masses of people in the world.

        And all of this is completely unnecessary




        New from Insight Press

        Available online at Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other major retailers
        (EPUB, MOBI, PDF)

        Hope for Humanity


      • ARTICLE:

        Nationwide Protests—Sunday, April 2


        NO WORLD WAR 3!


        Protest locations (in formation):

        Los Angeles:

        1 pm
        Hollywood and Vine
        @Revclub_LA / IG RevolutionClubLA
        (323) 671-9839

        New York:

        2 pm
        U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Station
        Times Square
        43rd Street and Broadway


        2 pm
        Randolph and Michigan (Millennium Park)

        Bay Area:

        2 pm
        Powell and Market, San Francisco, press conference and rally


        Sign up, DM, or text/call to learn more + organize

        contact revcoms, donate


      • ARTICLE:

        3 Reasons Why the Demand 
        “Fund People's Needs, Not the War Machine”
        Is Immoral and Impossible:


        3 Reasons Why the Demand  “Fund People's Needs, Not the War Machine”  Is Immoral and Impossible


        You are right to oppose U.S. war moves in Ukraine and around the world. But demanding that this system “fund people's needs, not the war machine” is leading you in exactly the wrong direction! Here are 3 reasons why:

        1. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in the war in Ukraine. Millions have become refugees. In what is now a proxy war with the U.S. and NATO using Ukrainians as cannon fodder to weaken their imperialist rival, Russia, two nuclear-armed rival superpowers are facing off and endangering humanity with World War 3. This could spiral out into nuclear catastrophe. And you think Americans should concern themselves with their pocketbooks?! The immorality of this is astounding. It is the well-worn path of pandering to people’s narrowest concerns reinforcing the American chauvinism that puts “American needs” above the lives and futures of people all over the world and all humanity.

        What we urgently need is a radically different dynamic—people standing up for the interests of humanity, and NOT with their rival contending imperialists.

        American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives.


        2. The basis on which Americans' “cost of living” is cheapened—through global networks of exploitation with hundreds of millions of people, especially women and over 150 million children toiling in the sweatshops, mines and farmlands—is enforced by that war machine. The wealth of America—as unevenly as it may be distributed—comes from the parasitism of capitalism-imperialism with the U.S. feeding off the rest of the world. This parasitism rests on the brutality, terror, violence and torture of the American military with its 750 bases in over 80 countries, proxy wars, coups and invasions. 

        And anyway, we live under a system of capitalism-imperialism which cannot be made to “meet the people's needs.”  It is an economic and political system which can only run according to certain rules and dynamics. It is a system driven, not by human need or rational development, but by blind cutthroat competition over the more profitable exploitation of people and the resources of the planet. This system can't be reformed to be other than what it is, it must be overthrown through an ACTUAL revolution. 

        BAsics-5-8 English


        3. Instead of seeing ourselves as "Americans" and acting around narrow self-interest, we should identify and stand with oppressed and exploited humanity the world over and fight together with them to bring in a whole new world.  Instead of appealing for a better share of the spoils of empire, what we need to be doing is organizing now for revolution—to defeat and dismantle the violent repressive institutions of this system and establish a radically different, and far better, state power with an economic and political system that can put humanity's resources and knowledge to meeting people's needs and act as a base area for revolution around the world. There is a concrete blueprint for this in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, written by the revolutionary leader and author of the new communism, Bob Avakian.

        We are in a rare time when this revolution has become more possible. The rulers at the top of this society are splitting apart. The “democratic” norms that have held this country together since the Civil War are being ripped up by a fascist Republican Party, while the Democratic Party threatens the future of humanity. These accelerating changes are horrific, dangerous AND also create a heightened possibility to wrench something emancipating from this—real revolution. But people need to break with their loyalty to this vicious monster of a country and become a revolutionary people fighting for the interests of humanity. 

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

        —Bob Avakian, from The Bob Avakian Interviews at



        NO WORLD WAR 3!


        Chicago Revolution Club at antiwar protest 3/18/2023


        Chicago Revolution Club Antiwar Protest March 18, 2023   

        Nationwide Protests Sunday, April 2

        Los Angeles:

        1 pm
        Hollywood and Vine
        @Revclub_LA / IG RevolutionClubLA

        New York:

        2 pm
        U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Station
        Times Square
        43rd street and Broadway


        2 pm
        Randolph and Michigan (Millennium Park)

        Bay Area:

        2 pm
        Powell and Market, San Francisco, press conference and rally


        Sign up, DM, or text/call to learn more + organize

        contact revcoms, donate


      • ARTICLE:

        Message from the Revcoms on the One-Year Anniversary of the Ukraine War


        NO WORLD WAR 3! 


        Message from The Revcoms on the One-year Anniversary of the Ukraine War

        One year ago this Friday, February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. In the past year, tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of people have died in the war in Ukraine. Millions more have been turned into refugees. While we see the horror of this destruction and devastation, the leaders of the U.S. see opportunity, licking their chops with the possibility to throw Ukrainians to the meat grinder in service of weakening the U.S.’ imperial rival, Russia, and to greatly expand the U.S./NATO military presence and dominance throughout Europe and beyond. Both sides are now preparing for further offensives, as the U.S. and NATO pour billions more in military aid into the war and provide Ukraine with deep intelligence and major strategic planning.

        This has also been a year of the U.S. making escalating threats against China. This past year, Biden has four times threatened to send U.S. troops to the island of Taiwan (which the U.S. officially does not even recognize as a separate country) to counter any Chinese military incursion. The U.S. has ramped up economic warfare against China, expanded its military presence in the Philippines as a strategic stepping stone to Asia. The U.S. conducted a military exercise with Japan, which was seen as deepening the role of the U.S. and NATO in preparing for conflict with China. The shooting down of a Chinese air balloon over the U.S. has come with even louder warlike rhetoric and behavior from the U.S.

        Biden and other U.S. mouthpieces, as well as too many celebrities like Sean Penn and other liberal/progressive figures who should know better, constantly repeat the official narrative that this is all part of a worldwide conflict of “Democracy vs. Authoritarianism” with the good-ol’ USA as the “good guys.” NO! Besides being founded on genocide and slavery, and continuing to carry out horrific oppression of Black people, other people of color, women, immigrants, and LGBTQ people—the U.S. is, by far, NUMBER #1 in being guilty of the war crimes, illegal invasions and occupations, and lies to justify them: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Honduras, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Indonesia, Laos, Korea, Cambodia and Vietnam... And we can never forget the U.S. is the ONLY country to have used nuclear weapons. 

        The reality is that this is a fight between big-time worldwide gangsters over turf and control—with humanity caught in the middle and hanging in the balance. The consequences have already been disastrous, and the continued spiral of escalation and potential for nuclear war threatens total catastrophe.

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

        No decent person should be joining in with the U.S. imperialists in their rivalry with other imperialists. The silence, so far, from people of conscience in this country has been deafening. Continued silence could be deadly. THIS MUST CHANGE, AND WE ARE CHANGING IT.

        Starting April 2, and then building again around the May Day internationalist holiday, we will be mobilizing rallies to raise the slogans and demands:


        NO WORLD WAR 3! 


        We will be giving details on these manifestations over the next few weeks. But if you have a conscience… if you are increasingly alarmed… if you are unwilling to risk the very future of humanity in the cause of what is in essence imperialist powers fighting over empire… you need to support these actions!

        No one with a conscience should stand aside. The stakes are too high, and there are no safe spaces or minding your own business in the event of World War and nuclear Armageddon.

        Everyone needs to be challenged with, and think deeply about, the truth of these words by Bob Avakian, BA:

        All this emphasizes why it is vitally important for the masses of people, in this country, and other countries aligned with it, as well as in Russia—for people everywhere—to finally and fully wake up now, recognize the real, and profoundly heavy, stakes involved, and act in accordance with our actual interests—the interests of all of humanity: demanding that this war in Ukraine, and the involvement (direct and indirect) of the imperialists on both sides in this war, be STOPPED, before it not only causes even greater suffering for the people of Ukraine but possibly escalates into a far more terrible conflict which causes massive destruction and death, on a whole other level, and even possibly poses a threat to the very existence of humanity itself.

        Elsewhere Bob Avakian also says:

        What is called for, and urgently now, is to oppose all imperialist marauders and mass murderers, and all systems and relations of oppression and exploitation, while giving particular emphasis to opposing “our own” imperialist oppressors who commit their monstrous crimes “in our name” and seek to rally us to support them on the basis of a grotesque American chauvinism, which we must firmly reject and fiercely struggle against.

        The world, and the future, that the rulers of the U.S. and all the other imperialists are fighting for is not only cruel, deadly, and insane—it is also NOT the only world, the only future, that is possible. We Revcoms who follow Bob Avakian are taking responsibility to rally and build this determined opposition as part of working for revolution—a revolution that DOES have a future for humanity that is worth living in. When we replace this system through revolution, not only will we close shop on all the hundreds of military bases around the world belonging to what will be the former USA, the constitution we put in place will outlaw nuclear weapons and advocate for their elimination throughout the world.

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

        Bob Avakian, The Bob Avakian Interviews


        NO WORLD WAR 3! 


        Palm Card Front - BA Interview - local info (color)


      • ARTICLE:

        20th “Anniversary” of Totally Unprovoked War by the U.S. Against Iraq

        Flames light the skies from U.S. bombardment of Baghdad, Iraq, March 21, 2003.


        Flames from U.S. bombardment of Baghdad, Iraq, March 21, 2003.    Photo: AP

        Twenty years ago, on March 19, 2003, the U.S., under the administration of George W. Bush, invaded Iraq. Over 300,000 were killed directly in the fighting; studies estimate the indirect deaths from the war (due to destruction of health care, food production, water and power system, etc.) to be over 600,000; and at least 4.5 million people were driven from their homes (see the American Crime series article on this at for more on the invasion). The U.S. military occupied Iraq for years. They raided people’s houses, beat them, humiliated them, raped them, and—yes—killed people on “routine patrols.”  They threw thousands into prisons where U.S. soldiers and the CIA carried out sadistic sexual tortures, and more. To this day, the Iraqi people suffer the “aftereffects” of this totally unprovoked war and brutal occupation.

        Iraq, 9-year-old girl carried by her uncle, injured from U.S. bombing, March 22, 2003.


        In Basra, this nine-year-old girl was injured from bombs dropped by coalition warplanes, March 22, 2003.    Photo: AP

        Why did America perpetrate this horror? 

        The U.S. claimed that Iraq had been stockpiling chemical weapons and hiding uranium to build nuclear bombs, and that it was planning war against America. Yet meticulous inspections by United Nations inspection teams turned up nothing whatsoever in the way of “weapons of mass destruction.” Long after the bloody invasion was over and well into the occupation, the U.S. was finally forced to admit that in fact there was absolutely no evidence of such weapons.

        Some elements of the Bush administration also accused Iraq of being behind, or at least complicit in, the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. In fact, no proof was ever offered—because there was none.

        The real reasons the U.S. carried out this invasion were these:

        First, to avenge the humiliation of the 9/11 attacks. Never mind that the Iraqi regime had nothing to do with those attacks. Everybody had to see that the big gang boss could still wreak terrible punishment on people and make any who opposed him for any reason at all pay a terrible price.

        Second, the Bush regime saw a need to more firmly bring the Middle East under U.S. control. They thought the degree of instability there (including Iran with its attempts to assert a degree of independence within the imperialist order, Islamic jihadist insurgencies in various countries, the Palestinian uprisings, etc.) ran the risk of destabilizing the Middle East if left unchecked. And at the same time, they actually thought that it could fairly easily implant a U.S.-style democracy in Iraq—with all the bogus electoral bullshit to cover up the brutal exploitation and oppression. They figured they could then use Iraq as an ally, a “showcase,” and a base area in their attempts to much more thoroughly clamp down on the Middle East and to crush, or at least intimidate, any opposition whatsoever.

        Torture at Abu Ghraib: a hooded Iraqi prisoner, forced to balance on a small box, with wires attached to his fingers—he was forced to stand for hours, told that if he fell over, the wires would electrocute him.


        Torture at Abu Ghraib: a hooded Iraqi prisoner, forced to balance on a small box, with wires attached to his fingers—he was forced to stand for hours, told that if he fell over, the wires would electrocute him.    Photo: AP

        Third, because they thought that they had not “gotten enough” when their former imperialist rival for world domination, the Soviet Union, collapsed. The U.S. aimed to become the unchallenged—and unchallengeable—power. 9/11 was the perfect excuse to strike hard to do that.

        As then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told top aides after the attack on 9/11, “Hard to get good case. Need to move swiftly. Near term target needs—go massive—sweep it all up, things related and not.” These orders (revealed when aides leaked their notes from that day to the news media) say it all—we can’t wait to prove who did it and may not be able to anyway, so let’s use this attack as an excuse to “sweep up” all our enemies, whether they had anything to do with it or not.

        This is how they think. Gangster logic from a gangster system. 

        And this—mass bombing from the air, unspeakable tortures, massacres—is how they work their will.  Gangster actions that would put 1,000 Scarfaces to shame.

        U.S. soldiers run past dead body in the street of Fallujah.


        U.S soldiers run past dead body in Fallujah, March 22, 2004.    Photo: AP

        And why? To serve a system—an economic and political system that can only survive on the basis of massive exploitation of the people and resources of the global south and that must violently enforce that exploitation. A system of imperialism.  As Bob Avakian has said:

        The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism. (BAsics 1:3)

        All this did not go as America had planned. In some important ways they miscalculated, and while they won the war, they were not able to achieve their main political and strategic objectives and in some important ways lost ground. Why things “went wrong” for them—and what this says about the limitations and weaknesses both of their system and their way of looking at things—is deeply gone into in Bringing Forward Another Way, by Bob Avakian.


        Bringing Forward Another Way by Bob Avakian   

        Today the U.S. faces much more serious challenges than it did 20 years ago. Its rivals—Russia, but even more so China—are stronger. The U.S. itself is waging a proxy war in Ukraine against Russia, using Ukrainian soldiers to do the bleeding and dying while America and its allies supply the arms, intelligence, and much of the strategic direction. As horrific as this is, it could get far worse in a flash: any incident could send this spiraling out of control into a nuclear apocalypse. And at the same time, Biden is issuing threats against China and carrying out economic warfare against it while stirring up the American people. To paraphrase and draw on Bob Avakian, this could lead to something really terrible… or—depending on what WE do—something truly emancipating. 

        As the revcoms often chant: This system can’t be reformed… it must be overthrown.

        And as Bob Avakian has recently said:

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

        Bob Avakian: Free Yourself from the GTF!
        The Great Tautological Fallacy

        Spread this video clip from Bob Avakian widely during the week of the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
      • ARTICLE:

        Did Somebody Say “War Crime”?

        USA Number One in the World in War Crimes and Hypocrisy

        On Friday, March 17, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin, charging him with war crimes for the abduction and deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children during the war that started with Russia’s invasion in February 2022. There does seem to be evidence that Russia has carried out such abductions—as well other war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Ukraine war, including targeting and killing tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians. Russia is denouncing and dismissing the indictments, which the ICC has no power to enforce.1

        The scope, timing and public nature of the ICC arrest warrants for Putin (along with another top Russian official) raised questions among legal experts. One British expert on international law, for example, said, “No doubt there will be many questions about why this particular crime and why the decision to make this public now.” The New York Times wrote that legal experts have “noted that the court [ICC] had been under intense pressure to act against Mr. Putin.”2

        Who’s Calling Who a War Criminal?? The 2003 U.S. Invasion of Iraq

        But wait. This ICC arrest warrant and indictment for war crimes is being issued on the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq!



        U.S. ”Shock and Awe” bombing of Baghdad, a city of nearly six million people, March 2003.    Photo: AP

        That invasion and the occupation that followed were a textbook case of war crimes and crimes against humanity—carried out by the U.S.—on a massive scale!!

        The U.S. invaded Iraq—without provocation—based on the bogus claim that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq presented a “threat” to the U.S. because it had “weapons of mass destruction” and was linked to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and therefore involved in the attacks of 9/11.

        The U.S. rulers knew these justifications for war were baldfaced lies. Their invasion was a blatant and naked act of imperialist aggression—the supreme war crime of aggressive war.3

        As if that wasn’t criminal enough, the U.S. carried out further war crimes and crimes against humanity during its years of occupation, including widespread torture, and massive toll of 300,000 or more killed directly in the fighting (and indirectly over 600,000 deaths from the destruction caused by the war). Just one example of these horrendous crimes: the massive air and ground assault by U.S. troops on Fallujah, a densely packed city of 300,000 people.4



        Fallujah, Iraq, November 2004.    Photo: AP

        And the U.S. troops, military police (MPs) and CIA agents routinely carried out torture against Iraqi prisoners. Pictures that later came out showed Iraqi men at the Abu Ghraib prison, usually naked with suffocating hoods over their heads, being brutalized and humiliated by MPs, who posed in these trophy pictures with wide grins, mocking the prisoners. In one photo, a hooded Iraqi is shown balanced on small box, with wires attached to his fingers—he was forced to stand for hours, told that if he fell over from exhaustion, the wires would electrocute him. Some prisoners died from the torture. Nearly 4,000 prisoners were crammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, most living in tents in the prison yards. Iraq Prison Abuse Scandal Fast Facts, CNN, March 10, 2023; see also, Seymour Hersh, Torture at Abu GhraibThe New Yorker, May 10, 2004

        Torture at Abu Ghraib: a hooded Iraqi prisoner, forced to balance on a small box, with wires attached to his fingers—he was forced to stand for hours, told that if he fell over, the wires would electrocute him.


        Torture at Abu Ghraib: a hooded Iraqi prisoner, forced to balance on a small box, with wires attached to his fingers—he was forced to stand for hours, told that if he fell over, the wires would electrocute him.    Photo: AP

        A recent post by author and historian Paul Street (“Shooter Nation,” March 195), gives a vivid sense of the depraved, criminal savagery of the U.S. torture in Iraq (citing the testimony of Vincent Emanuele, a former U.S. Marine):

        I think about the hundreds of prisoners we took captive and tortured in makeshift detention facilities. ... I vividly remember the marines telling me about punching, slapping, kicking, elbowing, kneeing and head-butting Iraqis. I remember the tales of sexual torture: forcing Iraqi men to perform sexual acts on each other while marines held knives against their testicles, sometimes sodomizing them with batons. ... [T]hose of us in infantry units ... round[ed] up Iraqis during night raids, zip-tying their hands, black-bagging their heads and throwing them in the back of HUMVEEs and trucks while their wives and kids collapsed to their knees and wailed. ...

        [W]hen they were released, we would drive them from the FOB (Forward Operating Base) to the middle of the desert and release them several miles from their homes. ... After we cut their zip-ties and took the black bags off their heads, several of our more deranged marines would fire rounds from their AR-15s into the air or ground, scaring the recently released captives. Always for laughs. Most Iraqis would run, still crying from their long ordeal.

        Prisoner tortured with a dog at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, May 21, 2003.


        Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq: In 2003 it came out that U.S. personnel had been systematically subjecting Iraqi prisoners to sexual torture and other gruesome practices. This went along with policies of torturing prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay base and at various unknown "black sites" in countries around the world. A veritable empire of torture, all run by "the good 'ole USA," with approval from the highest levels of government.      Photo: AP

        All these, and more, would fully justify indictments and convictions of the U.S. rulers—Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice and the rest—for war crimes for their leading roles in the Iraq war!

        How Did America’s Rulers React When THEY Were Faced with Investigations for War Crimes?

        As soon as the ICC arrest warrant was issued for Putin, Biden declared it was “justified.” First of all, aside from the great crimes committed by the U.S. in Iraq as spoken to above, there is the unprecedented hypocrisy of Biden and the U.S. rulers in accusing others when the U.S. has been and continues to be Number One in the World in war crimes and crimes against humanity through its history. (Readers can see for themselves at in the American Crime series and in other articles like The United States of Atrocity: When It Comes to War Crimes, USA Is “Number One”.)

        And then there is the “inconvenient truth” that the U.S. itself has never agreed to be part of or respect the full authority of the ICC. In fact, the U.S. has attacked the ICC for decades.

        How did the U.S. government react when the very same ICC said that its prosecutor could investigate allegations of American war crimes? The ICC reportedly had concluded in 2017 that it had enough evidence to show that U.S. forces had “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence” in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, as well as in secret CIA “black sites” around the world where waterboarding and other torture was carried out.6

        Iraqi prisoner of war, seen behind barbed wire fence, comforts his 4-year-old son.


        Iraqi prisoner of war comforts his 4-year-old son.    Photo: AP

        U.S. officials attacked this ICC accusation with indignation and fury! It revoked the visa of the court’s chief prosecutor. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced the ruling as a “truly breathtaking action by an unaccountable, political institution masquerading as a legal body” and called it a “renegade, unlawful, so-called court.” In September of 2021, Prosecutor Karim Khan of the ICC announced that the court was ending its investigation into U.S. war crimes. (Coincidentally—or not—this prosecutor is now the chief ICC prosecutor who announced the arrest warrant for Putin.)

        And this was not just a one-time thing. In the context of moves by ICC and others to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out by the U.S. in its “war on terror” (which, in reality, was a war for empire), President George W. Bush signed into law the “American Servicemembers Protection Act” in 2002, authorizing the use of military force to “liberate” any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied country being held by the ICC.7

        Yet now, Biden and others find this international court to be a legitimate forum to pursue charges of war crimes—against a rival imperialist power, Russia, that the U.S. and its NATO allies are fighting a proxy imperialist war against in Ukraine.



        1. Unlike typical legal proceedings, the ICC issues arrest warrants before evidence has been presented in a court and subject to legal challenge. [back]

        2. It should be noted that this warrant came out right as there was an announcement that China’s leader Xi Jinping was going to Russia next week to meet with Putin. It is certainly possible that the ICC move was consciously timed to embarrass and take the air out of the U.S.’s main imperialist rival, China—and to put obstacles in the way of closer relationships between China and Russia, another top imperialist rival of the U.S. [back]

        3. See American Crime Case #70: "Operation Iraqi Freedom," 2003,, December 5, 2016, for a fuller account of the invasion. [back]

        4. American Crime Case #94: November 2004—War Crime Fallujah,, June 6, 2016; American Crime Case #23: The Afghanistan and Iraq War Logs and the Persecution of Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks,, April 15, 2019. [back]

        5. Shooter Nation, Reading a Pathological Memoir 20 Years After the Invasion of Iraq, The Paul Street Report, March 19, 2023. [back]

        6. U.S. to Penalize War Crimes Investigators Looking Into American TroopsNew York Times, June 11, 2020. [back]

        7. USA: The “Laws” on War Crimes Apply to Everyone—Except the US, of Course, April 18, 2022. [back]

      • ARTICLE:

        Bringing Forward Another Way

        Bringing Forward Another Way is a talk given by Bob Avakian to a group of Party supporters in 2006 and published in early 2007. This groundbreaking analysis, made during the George W. Bush years, continues to be very relevant, especially in the context of sharpening contradictions centered in the Middle East and aggressive U.S.-led moves against Iran. This work is an illustration of applying the scientific method to approaching international conflicts and understanding social and political contradictions—and identifying where the fundamental interests of humanity lie, providing concrete leadership and guidance for the strategic repolarization for revolution and a thoroughly internationalist orientation. Given the current situation in the world, we urge our readers to restudy this important work or to get into it for the first time.

        Editors' Note: The following is an edited version of a talk by Bob Avakian to a group of Party supporters, in the fall of last year (2006).

        Bringing Forward Another Way cover 600


        By Way of Introduction

        In relation to what I am going to get into here, the 7 Talks I gave recently (plus the Q&A and the Concluding Remarks accompanying those Talks),1 in addition to Views On and Basis, Goals and Methods,2 serve as background. Obviously, I'm not going to try to repeat much that was said in those talks, but they should remain a point of reference for much of what I am going to say here and provide a foundation for it.

        What Is Driving the Wars Being Waged, and Wars Being Threatened, by "Our Government"?

        I want to begin by looking at not just the freedom and the ambitions of the imperial rulers of the U.S., and in particular the core of that ruling class now, grouped in and around the Bush regime, but also their necessity and how they perceive that necessity. We have talked a lot about the ways in which they have seized on a certain freedom, for them, as a result of the demise of the Soviet Union in particular, and their ambitions of making U.S. imperialism an unchallenged and unchallengeable power in the world. But it's also important for us to understand, and to enable others to understand, how they are seeing their necessity—particularly how this is seen by that core of the ruling class which has been driving things for the last number of years. Our responsibility lies in, first of all ourselves understanding, but second of all giving people as broadly as possible, at any given time, a full, scientifically based picture of what is going on in the world, where the dynamics are driving things—and why—and what are the means for acting to radically transform all this, with the objective of getting rid of all these horrors and bringing a new world into being—a transformation, in other words, that would be in the interests of the great majority of oppressed people, indeed the great majority of people throughout the world and ultimately humanity as a whole.

        At any given time, many people will be out moving in relation to, and in opposition to, the crimes of this system—and we obviously need a lot more of that. Those who are part of this broad movement will have various levels of understanding and different views about what this is all part of, what it stems from, what to do about it, and so on. It is our responsibility at any given time not just to unite with whatever motion there is and to work to develop this into a much broader and more powerful political resistance, but also to be continually digging down more deeply, to understand more fully what's driving things and therefore how to move in relation to it, and through uniting and struggling with a broad diversity of people and forces, to enable people to move in greater numbers, and to greater effect, in the direction in which things need to go in order to actually deal with the root cause of all this.

        Recently I read the book Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, by Thomas Ricks, who is a military correspondent for the mainstream, bourgeois media, the Washington Post in particular. This is very interesting—this is not simply Thomas Ricks, the military observer, writing—this book represents and incorporates a section of the U.S. military opening up its deep concern, anger, and, in a sense, protest about how the Bush regime has conducted the war in Iraq, with many of them coming to the conclusion that it should never have been launched in the first place—or, if it were going to be launched, then there needed to be a whole plan for what they were going to do after they toppled the Hussein regime, a plan which, in any real sense, they did not have. There is a lot of speaking bitterness from these military people that comes out in this book. In a real sense, besides Ricks' own analysis, this book acts as a conduit and a vehicle for what a lot of these military officials are saying, on the level of colonels and even up to generals, some still active-duty, some of them retired.

        At the beginning of the book one of the things Ricks does, which is important, is that he discusses the role and motivations of people like Paul Wolfowitz (former assistant secretary of defense, and now head of the World Bank) and others of these "neo-cons" who were driving forces in insisting on overthrowing the Hussein regime—they were insisting on this even before Bush came into office. Ricks discusses how Wolfowitz and the neo-cons generally were viewing the situation, not only in Iraq but in the Middle East overall, and why they were so determined to invade Iraq and overthrow Hussein. As I was reading this, I thought of a metaphor which then later was explicitly used by Ricks: Among other things, these neo-cons in particular saw the Middle East as a swamp breeding all kinds of terrorist mosquitoes; and their calculation was that, even though Saddam Hussein as such was no threat to the U.S. (or even to his "neighbors" in the region), still if they left the Middle East the way it was, it would just keep on generating these poisonous creatures and this would get in the way of all their fundamental objectives in terms of U.S. imperial domination in that region, and in the world as a whole—objectives which are not those of the neo-cons alone but were, and are, shared by the ruling class as a whole, even with some significant differences among them over how to go about achieving those objectives. So this metaphor of drying up the swamp, which was explicitly invoked by Ricks in this book (Fiasco) clearly does capture the thinking, or an important part of the thinking, of people like Wolfowitz and these other neo-cons, who have been very influential in the Bush regime.

        Another way to say this is that Iraq was not just seen as a "target of opportunity," to use their terminology, but invading Iraq was something they needed to do in order to begin installing in that part of the world regimes that would actually more fully serve U.S. imperial interests and would be "enablers" of their agenda in that part of the world (and their agenda overall). And if they didn't do this, if they left Iraq as it was under Hussein, then the whole "mix" in the Middle East—with Iran, on the one hand, and Saddam Hussein on the other, and Saudi Arabia and all the rest in the region—would just keep producing these intolerable conditions from their point of view. So they were looking at this in this way: If we don't get to this and do this pretty soon, this is going to be all out of control.

        Yes, they saw real opportunity and some freedom they could seize on, in moving against Saddam Hussein, and this was part of their wild ambitions for further remaking the world under even more firm U.S. imperial domination; but they also were acting out of a sense of real necessity—perhaps more so than I, at least, had recognized previously. As they see things, a policy of maintaining the (relative) stability in the Middle East, as that has existed, has led to a very bad situation, breeding terrorism and getting in the way of everything they need to do, and reacting back against it. This not only comes through in how Ricks speaks to things in the book Fiasco, it was also explicitly stated by Bush in a recent speech, or in a series of recent speeches by Bush and others in the Bush regime.

        How the Bush Regime Views "Stability" and "Peace" in the Middle East

        For example, in September (2006) Bush and Rumsfeld gave extremely important speeches where they were talking somewhat honestly from their own point of view. [laughs] Now, it is important to recognize and keep in mind that their point of view doesn't accurately reflect reality, and it involves a distorted understanding, even on their own part, of what they themselves are doing—of what their objectives really are, as well as what their actions in pursuit of their objectives will actually lead to "in the real world," as the saying goes. But, nonetheless, these speeches by Bush and Rumsfeld were not simply deliberate distortions and demagoguery—they were a combination of demagoguery and actual articulation, by Bush and Rumsfeld, of their views and objectives. So for example, in a speech in Washington D.C., September 5 of this year (2006), on the "global war on terror," Bush said:

        "The only way to secure our nation is to change the course of the Middle East."

        And then again on September 11 (2006), speaking about the Middle East, Bush said explicitly:

        "Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither."

        The "War on Terror": What Is Really Going On—and Why

        By taking these comments by Bush—and subjecting them to critical and scientific analysis, to get to the essence of what these comments are actually speaking to—we can begin to see more fully the real motives and motive forces involved in the Bush regime's approach to not only Iraq but to the Middle East as a whole, as a region of great strategic importance. We can see even more clearly how the Iraq war is not a "distraction" or a "diversion" from "the war on terror" but is, in fact, a central part of what this "war on terror" (or, as we have also identified it, the "juggernaut" of the Bush regime) really is all about. In its essence, this is a war for empire.

        As our Party pointed out from the beginning of the juggernaut by the Bush regime—in other words, from shortly after September 11, 2001 and with the U.S. war against Afghanistan following shortly after that—oil, in the more limited sense, has never been the essence of what this juggernaut has been all about.3 Yes, for the U.S. imperialists as a whole (and not just the Bush regime) controlling the oil, in the Middle East in particular, has been very important in terms of a whole ensemble of strategic relations in the world, including with regard to maintaining a superior position vis-à-vis other imperialists (in Europe, Japan, etc.); but all this has never been just about grabbing Iraq's oil, for example. That is involved, but what is more fundamental and essential are strategic calculations—the perceived freedom and perceived necessity on the part of this core of the ruling class, grouped in and around the Bush regime, now, and the ways in which this relates to the strategic interests of the U.S. empire and its ruling class as a whole.

        As I'll talk about further as we go along, this relates to the fact that the "war on terror" is, on the one hand, a misnomer—it is not an accurate characterization of what is really going on, in fundamental terms, and this catchphrase "war on terror" involves a whole bunch of demagoguery, and a whole lot of deliberate deception—but at the same time there is also some truth to what's being described with the term "war on terror." Once again, this is the complexity of the reality that we have to understand, more and more deeply, in order to act to change it in accordance with the fundamental interests of the great majority of people, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world.

        There is both demagoguery and instrumentalism on the part of Bush & Co. (by "instrumentalism" here I mean torturing reality in the attempt to make a distorted version of reality an instrument of certain aims), but there is also some truth with regard to the so-called "war on terror." That is, from the point of view of these imperialists, looking at a whole strategic arc from Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan all the way over to places like Indonesia (a country with a large population where Islam is the dominant religion and Islamic fundamentalism is also on the rise), if things were allowed to continue as they have been for a number of years, this would rebound against the interests of U.S. imperialism in very serious ways. Forces of militant, even fanatical, Islamic fundamentalism do not pose a positive alternative for the masses of people—including those currently drawn to or swept up in this fundamentalism—but to a significant degree and in significant ways they do pose a real obstacle to the aims and designs of the U.S. imperialists in particular at this point. These Islamic fundamentalist forces are what the Bush regime (and the U.S. ruling class as a whole) are largely referring to, at this point at least, when they talk about "terrorism"; and these Islamic fundamentalist forces do use methods and tactics that to a large degree can legitimately be described as "terrorism," including deliberate attacks on civilians.

        At the same time, it is very important to keep in mind two things in this regard: First, it is the imperialists, and the U.S. above all, who, going back over many generations, have, by far, directly carried out (or in some instances have backed and been ultimately responsible for) the most monstrous acts of death and destruction, including the slaughter of millions and millions of civilians, in all parts of the globe, from the Philippines to Vietnam to Chile, the Congo, Iran, Indonesia, Iraq, and Afghanistan… and on and on… not to mention the actual use of nuclear weapons by the U.S.—the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japanese cities at the end of World War 2, with all the horrors that involved.

        And, second, the way in which these imperialists use the term "terrorism" is deliberately calculated to be so broad and vague that it can be turned against any force, of whatever kind, that poses an obstacle to these imperialists—including revolutionary movements and revolutionary wars which do not involve, on the part of the revolutionary forces, deliberate attacks on civilians or the destruction of civilian infrastructure and which have the participation and support of masses of people. Even where all that is true, the U.S. imperialists will not hesitate to label these revolutionary forces "terrorists" if what they are doing runs counter to the interests of U.S. imperialism.

        So, once again, there is a great deal of hypocrisy and deception in the use of this term "war on terror"; and at the same time it is also the case that this refers to a war that the Bush regime—and, in fundamental terms, the imperialist ruling class as a whole—feels compelled to wage in order to deal with obstacles to its interests, objectives, and grand designs of unchallenged world domination.

        This Is Not Our War—and This Is Not Our "Quagmire"

        The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way.

        It is very interesting to read some of these imperialist analysts. For example, Michael Scheuer (a long-time CIA operative), who was the actual author of the book Imperial Hubris (although he wrote it under the name "Anonymous"), made some observations a couple of years ago that were pretty prescient. And you have to give people credit when they have real insight and foresight. [laughs] In that book, he said two things (or two things I want to focus on here). One, he said the Iraq War is for Osama bin Laden the Christmas present he never thought he'd get. (Of course, that statement is somewhat ironic, since bin Laden is obviously a Muslim and not a Christian, but still the basic point is valid and important.) And two, Scheuer said: you watch and see, things in Afghanistan are gonna start going very badly for the U.S. pretty soon—that initial victory there is not going to look so good in a couple of years either. Well, he's been proven right on both counts, you have to say. I mean, he's not the only one who saw that, but if you read that book he made these statements rather emphatically and without qualification, and they're proving to be true.

        This ties up with the bind these imperialists are in: In a very real sense, there was an accurate perception on the part of the neo-cons and the Bush regime that, from the point of view of the interests they represent, they did have to do something to change the equation in that whole part of the world ("to change the course of the Middle East," to invoke once again Bush's phrase); and, on the other hand, look at the difficulties they've gotten themselves into as a result of their invasion and occupation of Iraq in particular.

        Whenever I get a chance I like to check out what these right-wing demagogues are saying—the way in which they are (to use that phrase) "spinning" the propaganda of the Bush regime and its program. These days many of them are putting out a very different line than the one they used to justify and drum up support for the invasion of Iraq in 2003—all the talk about "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and so on. At the start, they had one set of rationalizations for the Iraq war, but now they've got another set of rationalizations, which more correspond to the situation they face now and how they are seeking to deal with that. Now you hear these people—these apologists for the Bush regime—saying that the Iraq War was really about… Iran! Why? Well, to paraphrase the propaganda:

        "Look what's happening now in Iraq. Look at all the gains that Iran is making in Iraq. They've got all these Shias and Shia militias, all these forces there, that the Iranians are basically controlling. So now we gotta take it to Iran."

        Of course, these difficulties the U.S. has encountered in Iraq are not the real—or not the most fundamental—reason that they are setting their sights on Iran. I will get into this further a little later in this talk, but the fact is that Bush & Co. had identified the regime in Iran as one it wanted to go after even before they invaded Iraq (remember how, early on after September 11th, they included Iran in the "axis of evil"?). But the fact is that, if they hadn't invaded Iraq and overthrown Saddam Hussein, they wouldn't be having the trouble they are having with these Shia forces in Iraq, and they wouldn't have this whole mess. So Bush and the U.S. ruling class certainly don't have "all freedom" in this situation, and they didn't have "all freedom" all along.

        If they had let things go along the way they were, in the Middle East in particular, this would have meant perpetuating conditions that do give impetus to Islamic fundamentalism of the kind that causes real trouble for the U.S. empire. There is, as you know, tremendous suffering on the part of the masses of people throughout that region. There is the corruption of the regimes there, and the repressive nature of those regimes. There is the worsening of the material conditions of the masses of people and, along with that, the tremendous upheaval and dislocation of millions and millions of people in those societies, with the "traditional way of life" significantly uprooted but with no real positive radical alternative possible within the dominant social and international relations—none that would really meet the needs and serve the interests of the masses of people. Is it really surprising that this situation and its driving dynamics would lead people to gravitate to extremes? And there is a force of "Islamic extremism" which has been and is moving to organize people in relation to this—organize them around precisely an extreme version of traditional relations and traditional values and culture, which seem to be, and in a real sense are, under attack from many sides, especially as the effects of globalization, and the imperialist system as a whole, increasingly penetrate into and make themselves felt within these societies.

        So, it was the reckoning of those in and around the Bush regime—and, from the standpoint of their system and its interests, there was a logic to this—that they couldn't just leave things to develop as they were—they had to make some dramatic moves to "change the course of the Middle East."

        Invasions… and Occupations… Upheaval and Chaos

        But their problem is, as we are seeing, that whether it's Afghanistan or Iraq, these imperialists are good at invading countries and knocking over regimes, but then when they find themselves in the position of occupying the country and they have a population that gets aroused against them, it becomes a different dynamic, and it is not so easy for them. It is not so easy for them to maintain "order" and to impose the changes they want to impose in accordance with their interests. It is not so easy to impose this "from the top down"—which is the only way imperialist occupiers can impose changes.

        In this connection—and referring back to the observations and predictions by Michael Scheuer about the difficulties the U.S. would have in occupying Afghanistan—I have to say that I cannot help noticing the great irony when I hear about these bourgeois feminists and others who got sucked into supporting the war in Afghanistan (or who rationalized their support for this war) on the basis that the U.S. invasion and occupation was supposedly going to bring reforms beneficial to women. Well, if you look at the situation now, the U.S. doesn't control much more in Afghanistan (if any more) than the Soviets did when they were occupying that country in the 1980s. And, if you are going to be honest and scientific, you have to recognize that the reforms that the Soviets brought in, during their occupation of Afghanistan, were a lot more thorough, particularly with regard to women. That's one of the things that provoked the ire of a lot of the Islamic fundamentalists.

        Now, the Soviets did this from the top down; they imposed it by invasion and occupation and coups, and so on. Then, when they couldn't get very far with these reforms in this way, and they had trouble achieving a stabilized rule and order under their occupation, they backed off and conciliated with the forces of Islamic fundamentalism. After all, the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan wasn't like the revolution in China, which came "from the bottom"—and which won the masses politically and mobilized and relied on them to carry out radical changes, not only in economic relations but also in the social relations and the customs and culture, and so on.

        In contrast to this, the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, as well as the Soviet occupation before it, has represented and embodied an attempt to impose some changes from the top; but if you're going to talk about what was actually done, the Soviet reforms went further, particularly with regard to the status of women. Yet, in the end, the Soviet occupation could not succeed either.

        And to get back to the main point here, the same thing has been shown in Iraq: It's one thing to go in and knock over a regime, especially one you've weakened by a previous war and ten years of sanctions, and so on; but it's another thing to maintain an occupation and to force things on the population you are now directly ruling over. At this point, many political strategists of the U.S. empire, and even many in their military leadership, are admitting this—many of the military people that are quoted in this Ricks book (Fiasco) are acknowledging, in effect: "Iraq was a pushover, their army was chump change, anybody with a formidable army could have gone in and knocked them over." Of course, they don't quite say that, because they want to talk about how great they are, what a great military power they are, but nonetheless they're pretty much acknowledging that, by the time of the 2003 invasion, the Iraqi military was a very weakened force, even compared to the first Gulf War in the early 1990s. Of course, if you go back and look at what many, if not most, of these "experts" were saying—and if you look at the propaganda of the Bush regime in particular—at the start of the present war, and in the lead-up to this war, there was an incessant chorus issuing dire warnings about how dangerous Saddam Hussein and his regime was: It was portrayed as one of the most dangerous and powerful enemies the U.S. faced in the world; it was ready to unleash a mushroom cloud over the U.S. itself as well as constituting a great danger to all of its neighbors.

        Then they invade—and it doesn't go so well after Bush declares "Mission Accomplished" in 2003. And it's kept getting worse for them—and now they're really stuck. From the point of view of the imperialists—but we should also understand that this does involve fundamental questions that affect broad sections of the people in society, including many people with progressive sentiments and views in general—there is no easy way to deal with this. There's no easy way out for the U.S. imperialists—and admitting defeat is not an option they want to consider. As I emphasized at the beginning, our responsibility is to be thoroughly scientific. Our responsibility is not to just automatically dismiss whatever the imperialists say—"That's just a bunch of imperialist propaganda—next point, move on." While firmly maintaining our basic stand, in accordance with the fundamental interests of the masses of people, throughout the world, in opposition to the imperialists and their system of exploitation, domination, and oppression, we cannot be simple-minded. We have to be scientific and analyze reality in all its complexity.

        It is a fact that it would cause a lot of upheaval and chaos in the Middle East if they just were to pull out of Iraq. It would encourage Islamic fundamentalists to step up their attacks against U.S. forces elsewhere; and given the worldview and the whole approach of those fundamentalists—which, as you know, is fundamentally different from ours and is not good—they would quite likely carry out further attacks against American civilians, to the degree they were able to do so. But it is also very important to keep in mind that in the world today—and in the situation and lives of the majority of people throughout the world—there is already a great deal of upheaval and chaos. And the dynamics that are now, to a large degree, driving things—the dynamics that have led to the current situation in Iraq and more generally in the Middle East, with ramifications and implications in every part of the world—this will, in any case bring a great deal more upheaval and chaos, affecting people everywhere, until there is a resolution of this of one kind or another.

        Besides the moral bankruptcy of seeking to avoid chaos for yourself and the things that more immediately affect you, while many, many others are caught up in this and are suffering horribly—besides that whole moral dimension, which I will return to later, because it is in fact something that needs to be emphasized and joined with people—there is the reality that, even those now occupying more privileged enclaves in the imperialist countries and in other parts of the world will not be able to avoid being affected by great upheaval and chaos in the period ahead. The essential question is not whether there will be chaos or no chaos, or whether it will end up affecting people everywhere, in one way or another. The question is: What will this all lead to, what will come out of it, what kind of world will emerge out of all this?

        Osama bin Laden and others like him are reactionary but they're not fools. Their program and the tactics which flow from that program—and from their basic worldview and values—are extremely reactionary and harmful to masses of people, even those they mobilize. But they are not without a sense of tactics, and even of nuance. Look at what bin Laden said in the context of the 2004 election in the U.S. In effect, he took the bourgeois democratic views and illusions that so many people in this society, including many progressive people, are mesmerized by and caught up in, and he threw it back in their faces. He said: "You have the right to vote your government in or out. You have the right to change the policies of your government through voting, so if these policies continue you are at fault." And more recently on CNN, I heard some Islamic fundamentalists in Britain saying the same thing about the British government and the British people.

        If you think about it, this involves a kind of profound irony: people like bin Laden are taking these bourgeois democratic prejudices and illusions and using them for their own ends. Primarily, of course, statements like this from bin Laden and similar types are, from their point of view, aimed at justifying to their social base what they are doing—that it's justified to attack the civilians of countries like the U.S. and Britain. And there are a lot of people "in the Islamic world," including people drawn to the Islamic fundamentalist banner, who are very uncomfortable about these attacks on civilians. So statements like bin Laden's—about the right to vote out the government in the U.S. or Britain—are not primarily aimed at the people in those countries, but are aimed at the social base of the Islamic fundamentalists themselves. Now, from our radically different perspective and with our radically different objectives, we of course understand that such attacks on civilians are completely unjustified. But, at the same time, we must never lose sight of—nor fail to vigorously bring to light—that what has been done by the bin Ladens of the world pales in comparison to the truly monstrous and massive crimes that have been, and every day are being, carried out by imperialism, and in particular U.S. imperialism.

        But the essential point I want to emphasize here is that, in a real sense, the situation that has been created through the U.S. "war on terror" so far, with its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (as well as its military actions in other parts of the world) is indeed a mess, and we shouldn't have any simplistic notions of what's involved in all this and what's going to come out of it. There is not going to be any kind of smooth way out of this. And, I'm sorry, as much as I respect John Lennon, "just give peace a chance" is not going to deal with the heightening complexity, and intensity, of the situation. Now let me emphasize here again that we can, and must, unite with lots of people for whom sentiments like that—the desire for peace and the belief that peace can prevail if in fact it is just "given a chance"—are their defining and driving sentiments, but we also have to be struggling with people about what's really going on here—what is the root cause, what are the actual dynamics, and what is the real and fundamental solution.

        There is not an easy way out. And many people sense this. I have heard and read about discussions with progressive people who say things like: "Well, it was terrible that the U.S. went into Iraq, but we can't just precipitously pull out now." Again, I am not talking about reactionaries here. People can sense that one result from a U.S. pull-out from Iraq could be the strengthening of Islamic fundamentalist forces, and that these forces do not actually draw any distinction between the U.S. government and the people of the country. Now, let me be very clear once again: What I am saying here should in no way be understood to deny, or to lessen the importance of, the point that I have repeatedly stressed—that the interests of the masses of people in the U.S., as well as those of the great majority of humanity, are fundamentally different from, and opposed to, those of the imperialists; and the difficulties in which the imperialists find themselves as a result of their invasions and occupations must be seen, and responded to, from the point of view not of the imperialists and their interests but in accordance with the interests of the great majority of humanity, and ultimately humanity as a whole. My point here is that the situation is very complex and that bringing forward and rallying people to their own fundamental interests, on the massive scale that is required, cannot and will not be done with any naive and simplistic approach but only by coming to terms with what is really going on in the world, in all its complexity, and the challenges this poses—and struggling to win people to the correct understanding of this, and to acting on that understanding, in the context of and on the basis of grasping the actual situation and its dynamics.

        Those who have been around since the 1960s will remember this, and those who weren't around then might find it interesting, and perhaps amusing: During the time of the Vietnam War, one of the justifications for the U.S. aggression against Vietnam was what was called "the domino theory"—if Vietnam falls, then that will set off a chain of falling dominos, not only in parts of Asia but with implications for the world as a whole. This was often expressed in terms such as: "If we don't stop them in Vietnam, pretty soon they'll be at our doorstep." Of course, underlying this was not only crude anti-communism (crude distortions of what communism is and what communists stand for and fight for) but, along with that, the basic assumption that people and countries all over the world constitute essentially nothing more than objects to be controlled, and exploited, by American (imperialist) interests and that it must not be tolerated for the U.S. to "lose" these countries to their own people. This came to be widely rejected, especially by the late 1960s, and one of the ways the "domino theory" in particular was ridiculed was by saying: "What are the Vietnamese going to do—take their boats (sampans, they were called) and sail over to California and attack us?"

        Well, that kind of joke doesn't really go right now. Today, these Islamic fundamentalists are, first of all, coming from a whole different place than the Vietnamese liberation forces, which were genuinely revolutionary (even if their leadership was never thoroughly communist). Despite their shortcomings, the Vietnamese revolutionaries had a theory and strategy of people's war which was aimed against the imperialists and their armed forces but was not aimed against the people of the U.S. In fact, the Vietnamese put a lot of emphasis on drawing the distinction between the government and the people of the U.S., and on winning political support among the people in the U.S.—they did a lot of work which was aimed at gaining that support, or at least developing opposition to the war among broad sections of U.S. society. But things are different now, in some significant ways. It is definitely true that the Bush regime in particular seeks to manipulate things so as to continually manufacture fear among the people in the U.S. and the sense that they are constantly in need of repressive government actions "to prevent further terrorist attacks on America and the American people." But that is only one aspect of things. It is a definite orientation and aim, among at least some of the Islamic fundamentalist forces, to strike not just at the U.S. armed forces but also the people in the U.S. This is a very different situation than what obtained during the period of the Vietnam war, and if we are going to really move people in the way that people need to be moved, in order to really act in their own interests in fundamental terms, we're going to have to take account of all this—of the situation in all its complexity. While many others may provide valuable insights into all this, and while it is definitely necessary and vitally important to unite as broadly as possible with others in opposing what the Bush regime (and the imperialist ruling class as a whole) is doing in the world, there is no substitute for our Party speaking to all this in a thoroughly scientific way, with our communist outlook and methodology.

        More on the Aims of the Bush Regime—and on the Consequences

        Returning to the objectives of the Bush regime, and to the actions they have undertaken in pursuit of those objectives (objectives which, once again, are shared by the ruling class as a whole, in fundamental terms), the fact is that, through their invasions of first Afghanistan and then Iraq, they have heightened the mess that they perceived in the first place. As they saw it, they were going to go in with military force, they were going to set up a regime on the basis of their military victory, and they were going to call it democracy—and their plans and objectives did envision combining certain outward forms of bourgeois democracy with a "free market economy." And then they were going to basically "run the table" with that—move on from Iraq to other parts of the Middle East, to impose the same "model" of society. Well, it hasn't turned out that way, and now they are confronting the ramifications and implications of that reality.

        During the course of the Iraq war, and increasingly as the U.S. has run into trouble and become "stuck" there, the example, or analogy, of Vietnam has been invoked. So let's look at a crucial aspect of how the U.S. eventually got out of Vietnam. To be honest and blunt, they got out of it partly by arrangements they made with China, after Nixon began moving to "normalize relations" with China. And Nixon got some heat for that, too, within U.S. ruling class circles, because a lot of them didn't understand what he was doing. But what Nixon did was basically to enter into a different set of relationships with China than what had existed previously. Not different in the most fundamental sense, because China and the U.S. at that time still represented two fundamentally different and ultimately antagonistic social systems, one socialist and one imperialist; but each government, proceeding from its sense of how to further the interests it represented, moved to conclude certain agreements involving areas of mutual interest, particularly with regard to the Soviet Union, which had itself become capitalist-imperialist (although then in a state-capitalist form and with the continuing camouflage of "socialism") and was, at one and the same time, the most militarily powerful imperialist rival to the U.S. and the main danger to China, threatening it with military attack, possibly even with nuclear weapons.

        As part of this agreement with China, Nixon was able to, metaphorically speaking, "stanch some of the geostrategic bleeding" that U.S. imperialism suffered as a result of having to admit defeat and pull out of Vietnam. And, as I have referred to, the Chinese had their own objectives, which had to do especially with working to stave off an attack by the Soviet Union. Again, the threat of such an attack was a very real thing. The Soviet Union, a nuclear superpower, had troops massed on the Chinese border and, it seems, was seriously considering an attack on China, including possibly with nuclear weapons. Now, from the standpoint of our Party, and our communist outlook and objectives, even understanding the very great necessity, the very real threat, the Chinese faced, we can still criticize and must criticize how they dealt with all that, in particular the way in which they allied with and covered up the reactionary and bloodthirsty nature of a number of regimes that were installed and/or kept in power by the U.S., and were key cogs in the imperialist alliance headed by the U.S.—regimes headed by such brutal tyrants as the Shah of Iran and Marcos in the Philippines.

        But, once more, in scientifically analyzing, and yes criticizing, these moves by the Chinese government at that time, we cannot do what so many are inclined to do so frequently—to ignore the necessity that different forces have and act like they can do whatever they want. We can't do that. And we should struggle with everybody else that they shouldn't approach things that way either. We should struggle with other people about how to understand the world, but first of all we have to understand it correctly ourselves.

        Israel and Its "Special Role" in Relation to U.S. Imperialism

        I have heard that some people don't like my statement: "After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel." But this does capture something very important, and there is something very important to understand about the "special role" of Israel—not only in relation to U.S. imperialism in general, but also particularly in relation to the neo-con/Bush regime strategy.

        Why is this Bush regime the most unrelenting and unqualified in its backing of Israel? Now, a lot of people—even some well-intentioned but confused people, as well as some people whose intentions and objectives are not good—argue that the reason the U.S. government is generally so one-sided, and the Bush regime in particular is so absolutist, in its support of Israel, is because of the Israeli lobby, or because of Zionist influence, in the U.S. Now there might, superficially, seem to be some support for that theory by looking at the neo-cons. It is true that in a significant sense this is a phenomenon of Jewish intellectuals who were once sort of Cold War liberals and have become hard-core right-wing ideologues. That, however, is not the essence of the matter. I do not know how different individuals among the neo-cons actually view the interests of Israel vis-à-vis the larger interests of U.S. imperialism. Whatever the case is with individuals in that regard, the fact is that, as a general phenomenon, these neo-cons are ardent advocates of both Israel and of the particular strategy for U.S. imperial domination in the Middle East (and on a world scale) with which the neo-cons are identified. And more fundamentally, this position, which the neo-cons urge, of unqualified hard-core support for Israel fits into and serves the larger imperialist strategy for the Middle East and ultimately for the world—and that is why this neo-con position has such influence. If their position did not serve the larger interests of U.S. imperialism, or if it ran counter to how those now at the core of the ruling class perceive those interests, then whatever the motivations and inclinations of particular individual neo-cons, they wouldn't have the influence they do.

        To put it in basic terms, Israel is a colonial-settler state which was imposed on the region of the Middle East, at the cost of great suffering for the Palestinian people (and the people of the region more broadly). Israel could not have come into being without the backing of imperialism, and it acts not only in its own interests but as an armed garrison and instrument of enforcement for U.S. imperialism, which supplies the Israeli state with aid, and in particular military aid, to the tune of billions of dollars every year. But, along with this general nature and role of Israel and its relation to U.S. imperialism, if we take into account the strategic orientation that has guided the Bush regime—based on an assessment that for U.S. imperialism there is now not only a certain freedom but very urgent necessity to recast the whole nature of the regimes and of the societies across a wide arc centered in the Middle East—then you can see even more clearly how absolute support for Israel is crucial in all this. There can't be any wavering or even the appearance, or suggestion, of more "even-handedness" in dealing with Israel, on the one hand, and the Palestinians (and others in the region) on the other hand. You have to have your ducks in a row. You have to have your priorities very clear. You have to have a regime there, at the center of your policy for that region, which is completely reliable for U.S. imperialism.

        If you look at any other regimes in the region, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are big allies of the U.S. But in Saudi Arabia and in Egypt, the situation is very unstable and potentially very volatile: there are serious tremors beneath the throne, so to speak—there is the growing danger of "social earthquakes" that could threaten to topple, or actually topple, those regimes. You don't have that in Israel. Hopefully, as things develop overall, there will not be just a "loyal opposition peace movement" among Israelis but the development of a much more powerful progressive movement with a much more radical view in Israel—and this is something that progressive people in Israel, or with ties to people in Israel, should work to foster and develop. But right now a positive and truly radical movement of that kind does not exist in Israel, and the dynamics with regard to Israel are not now such that the more that the regime in Israel is hard-core, the more it is going to run into antagonism with the bulk of its population. In the short term, the dynamic is essentially the opposite, unfortunately.

        You can look at the recent Lebanon war—and in particular the massive Israeli assault on Lebanon—as an illustration of what the dynamic actually is now: the more massive and murderous the Israeli attacks were on Lebanon, the more that the people of Israel, in their great majority, rallied to the government of Israel. In part this was influenced by the fact that Hezbollah was launching missile attacks which caused some destruction and death in parts of Israel; but this was really on a very minor scale relative to the widespread death and devastation that Israel, with its arsenal of powerful and precision weapons, very deliberately and as a matter of policy, brought down on the civilian population of Lebanon, devastating whole sections of the country, killing many, many times the number who died in Israel, and forcing huge parts of the Lebanese population to flee out of the country. Where was any real outpouring of opposition to this among the Israeli population?

        The Danger of War Against Iran

        And, on a larger scale, as Seymour Hersh has pointed out, this Israeli assault on Lebanon was viewed by at least some powerful people in the core of the U.S. ruling class, including Dick Cheney, as a dress rehearsal for an attack on Iran. It didn't go as well as they wanted, but that won't stop them from attacking Iran. They'll just try to sum up the lessons and—from their murderous point of view—aim to "do better."

        Once again, in all this, the regime in power now in the U.S. is acting not only out of perceived freedom, but also out of real and perceived necessity. And the more their actions, proceeding on this basis, have failed to achieve their objectives, the greater the necessity has become—for themselves as well as for others: different strata and sections of society all over the world have now had this necessity imposed on them and find it impinging on them. And where is it all heading?

        To return again to the situation in Iraq and the implications of this, whatever the U.S. does in regard to Iraq—whether, to use that now diminished phrase, it "stays the course" or tries to find some way out of the current occupation and tries to pursue its objectives in somewhat altered form—there is no easy way out of this for them. All this has already intensified the contradictions in the whole region—intensified them greatly in the whole region and even beyond that. And this will continue to be true and to assert itself and to further intensify, even though it won't necessarily, or likely, be a linear development, increasing in a straight upward line, but will more likely go through twists and turns and a kind of wave-like motion (with relative peaks and troughs), even as it continues to intensify overall.

        And what is the response of significant sections of the ruling class, including some prominent leaders of the Democratic Party as well as a number of neo-cons, grouped mainly in the Republican Party—what is their response to this situation, to this mess that's been created in Iraq for them and for others? Well, as many of them see it, all this is further evidence of the need not only to persevere in this course but to spread the whole approach, and to go after Iran in particular. That's why you see people like this right-wing talk show guy Glenn Beck doing what he's doing—saying that the whole thing in the Middle East, including the Iraq War, is really about Iran, that war with Iran can't and shouldn't be avoided, and on and on. The ground is being prepared for war with Iran. Public opinion is being created. And so now we have the reinterpretation of things. Now, the whole problem is Iran.

        Now, there is a section of the ruling class saying, no we've got to negotiate with Iran. They are arguing, in essence, that with regard to Iraq and the Middle East overall, it is necessary to do with Iran and Syria and others in that region what Nixon did with China in regard to Vietnam: find a way out of a war that has become a "quagmire" by negotiating with other forces in the region to bring about some kind of settlement that won't be a complete debacle and disaster, from the point of view of the imperialists. They're not posing it exactly that way, but that is, in effect, what one section of the ruling class is arguing for. But that's not going to be very easy to do, because there are a lot of other "wild cards" in the mix—including that there are other Islamic fundamentalists, Sunni fundamentalists, and so on, who are not beholden to Iran by any means and who in fact have acute contradictions with what's represented by Iran.

        At the same time, there's a whole push now, from other sections of the ruling class, and in particular many of the neo-cons—people like right-wing commentator and strategist William Kristol—who are basically calling "W" a wimp. "W" now stands for wimp, because he hasn't taken things to Iran already—what's he waiting for? And, along with people like Kristol, there are other neo-cons who have insisted: "Look, the problem here is that we don't play well on the defense—we're good at the offense. We can't fight this battle in the Middle East by keeping it limited to Iraq, because that pushes us on the defense. We have to go on the offense and take it to Iran and other places."

        And then there are Democratic Party politicians, like Barack Obama, who are joining in the chorus insisting that Iran must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons and, as bad as war with Iran might be, it would be worse to let Iran develop nuclear weapons. This, among other things, is why we have started calling him "Barack Obamination" or "Barack Go-Bomb-a-Nation." And then there's Hillary Clinton, who is also insisting that "we cannot allow Iran to have nuclear weapons." And there was recently a cover story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine4 which purported to discuss the question of Islamic views on violence but, after it wound around through all sorts of seeming theoretical expositions on this question—seeming theological discourse on Islamic views of justified and unjustified violence—ended by expressing the conclusion that one could guess was coming all along: "we" cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon—this must be prevented, whether that can be done through negotiations or whether it will take war.

        Now, this is not to say that war with Iran is, at this point, inevitable. We should avoid tendencies to be simplistic in our understanding of all this—we should not repeat the erroneous tendencies that have existed in the communist movement, including in our Party at times, to fall into mechanistic and determinist thinking, as if the fact that there are dynamics and tendencies in a certain direction and toward certain developments means that those developments are bound to take place. We have made mistakes of that kind before, and it is very important not to repeat them.5 There are a lot of contradictions at play, and nothing is set in stone. But there is a certain logic and a certain driving dynamic that is pushing things toward this position of spreading the war and going after Iran.

        Now, once again we can't be simplistic in our own understanding and we shouldn't oversimplify things for people. There is a difference between boiling things down to their essence and oversimplifying them. It would cause problems for the U.S. imperialists if Iran were to get one or two nuclear weapons. It would not be the case that Iran would thereby be able to somehow bomb New York City or Chicago or whatever. But it would change some of the equation in the Middle East—or it could—in a way that would work against the interests of U.S. imperialism. As one key aspect of this, even though Israel itself has hundreds of nuclear weapons, if Iran produced just a couple of nuclear weapons itself, even though Iran would still be far from on a par with Israel in this regard, Iran might then be able to offset some of the ways in which Israel threatens the other states and peoples in the region, and this itself could mean a significant change in the "power equation" in the region, in a way that would be unacceptable not only to Israel but also to the imperialist power behind Israel, the U.S. Again, it is not that, with one or a few nuclear weapons, Iran would pose a threat to Israel (or the U.S.) which the latter could not counter—the balance of power, and the "balance of annihilation threat," so to speak, would still be greatly in favor of Israel (and the U.S.)—but this might give Iran more "leverage" and perhaps enable it to be more of a force in that crucial region. And that is unacceptable not only to Israel but, more decisively, to the U.S. imperialist ruling class as a whole.6

        This is another illustration of the reality that, from the point of view of these imperialists, there is real necessity impinging on them; and we should not present to people, or think in our own minds, that all this has some sort of easy resolution. Again, we should learn from our former methodological errors and not fall into simplistic and linear analyses; but we can say that all this is not going to get resolved in some kind of simple and easy way.

        More on the "Two Historically Outmodeds"

        This leads me to the question of World War 3. A number of pundits and "analysts"—including once again right-wing squawking heads like Glenn Beck—have continued to insist: "This is World War 3, we are already in World War 3." This specter of World War 3 involves, in a real sense, both considerable distortion of reality and actual reality. And this does get to the "two historically outmodeds" and how in fact they do reinforce each other even while opposing each other. As I have formulated this:

        "What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these 'outmodeds,' you end up strengthening both."

        While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these "historically outmodeds" has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the "historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system," and in particular the U.S. imperialists.

        Now, it's not that these other forces—the "historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity," and more specifically the Jihadist forces of Islamic fundamentalism—it is not as if they don't pose threats to the ordinary people in many countries, and it's not as if they don't do real harm to the interests of the masses of people throughout the world. Even such things as that New York Times Sunday Magazine article I referred to, and more generally the arguments of these ruling class representatives about Iran and nuclear weapons—it's not as if there is no aspect of reality that they are speaking to, even while they are grossly distorting much of reality. It is a fact that at least many of these Islamic fundamentalists have hit upon a certain strategy which is really reactionary and extremely wrong, and does involve completely unjustified actions against civilians—this is their answer to what are greatly unequal (or, as the imperialist say, "asymmetrical") power relations, particularly as this is concentrated in the military sphere: the overwhelming superiority of the imperialists, in conventional military terms, in relation to the nations and people they dominate, oppress, and exploit. And the idea that Iran or even North Korea could get a nuclear weapon and slip it to some other people—and that it wouldn't be traceable to the state that produced the weapon—this is not simply and entirely imperialist propaganda. It's not completely far-fetched.

        Recently Ted Koppel wrote a whole article about this, explicitly invoking the "Godfather"—the movie Godfather I. You see, some of these artistic works have a certain universality, although different classes view them differently. And, speaking from the standpoint of the U.S. imperialist ruling class, Koppel invoked the scene in Godfather I after Mafia Godfather Don Vito Corleone's oldest son, Sonny, has been killed, in the context of war between different Mafia families. Finally, after this has gone on for awhile, these Mafia families have a "sit-down," to try to negotiate an end to this warfare. And Don Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) has real largeness of mind, in terms of the relations and interests among these Mafia families. He says:

        "For the sake of our larger interests and peace among us, I will forgive the death of my older son. But what I will not forgive is if anything happens to my son Michael. If a car accident should happen to him… "—he goes on to list a bunch of different things that are apparent accidents, and he says: "If any of those things happen to my son Michael, I'm going to blame some people in this room, and that I will not forgive."

        Invoking this scene, Ted Koppel says we should learn from this and apply it in our dealings with Iran—we should say to Iran:

        "Okay, go ahead and have your bomb, but if any such bomb ever goes off anywhere around our interests, you're on the hit list right away. We won't even argue about it, we won't even investigate, we won't even think about who did it—we'll just blame you and act accordingly. Now, if you want to get a bomb, go ahead."

        Koppel's argument here is not just large-scale gangster logic on behalf of U.S. imperialism—it is that, but it is not just that. It is not just a matter of imperialist manipulation and demagoguery. There is a reality that Koppel is speaking to—from the point of view of U.S. imperialism. We should understand the complexities in all this. I have pointed out before that, sooner or later if things keep going the way they are—and in particular if these "two historically outmodeds" continue to drive much of the dynamics of things and reinforce each other even while opposing each other—then things could get to the point where some of these Islamic fundamentalist forces will get some real weapons of mass destruction, maybe even nuclear ones, and then the shit's going to really fly on a whole other level. And, to refer back to the point I made earlier in discussing Vietnam and the "domino theory," these Islamic fundamentalists are not guided by the same kind of thinking and approach that the Vietnamese were, even with their shortcomings from a communist standpoint. These Islamic fundamentalists are not communists! They are not revolutionary or progressive forces. They do not look at the world the same way. They are reactionary, they are historically outmoded. They look at the world from that standpoint—from the standpoint of their reactionary philosophical, or theological, worldview—and what they do flows from this.

        In this, they are not unique. This is, in an essential sense, common to all religious fundamentalists, including those who have positions of significant power and influence within the ruling class of the U.S. at this time (and this is why I have referred to Jihad on the one hand and "McWorld/McCrusade" on the other hand). This same basic worldview can be seen in the comments of one of these colonels or generals in the U.S. military about Pat Tillman's family.7 This U.S. officer said: The reason the Tillman family is making such a big fuss about how Pat Tillman got killed is that they're atheists and they think he's just going to become worm food. He was saying that if the family were Christians and believed that Pat Tillman were going to "a better place," they wouldn't be so upset. Well, that's the mentality of religious fundamentalists.

        And that is the mentality, in the general ideological sense, that characterizes Islamic fundamentalists too. They look at the world very differently than people who approach it in a rational and scientific way. They "live in a different world"—a different world than the real one—in terms of how they perceive reality and the driving and defining forces of reality. All this is part of the complexity of things, and we are not going to get anywhere if we don't engage and grapple with this complexity in a very deep and all-sided way, utilizing the best of our materialism and dialectics, and keep on working at it.

        Now, having said that, it is important to return to the question of which of these "two historically outmodeds" has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity. Some people, including some who claim not only to be anti-imperialist but even to be "Marxist," have criticized or denounced this "two historically outmodeds" formulation as being pro-imperialist because, they claim, this statement fails to distinguish between imperialism and the countries and peoples oppressed by imperialism. Well, if you are supposedly a "Marxist," you might be able to look at the wording of this formulation and notice that it says: "historically outmoded strata among oppressed and colonized humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system." If you were even close to being a Marxist in reality, you would know that some distinction was in fact being made there, an important distinction, even while what is said about their both being historically outmoded and how they reinforce each other, even while opposing each other, is also real, and "operative." But it is important to be clear about which has done and continues to do the greater damage, which has posed and does pose the greater threat to humanity. Clearly, and by far, it is the "ruling strata of the imperialist system."

        It is interesting, I recently heard about a comment that someone made relating to this, which I do think is correct and getting at something important. In relation to these "two historically outmodeds," they made the point: "You could say that the Islamic fundamentalist forces in the world would be largely dormant if it weren't for what the U.S. and its allies have done and are doing in the world—but you cannot say the opposite." There is profound truth captured in that statement.

        As a matter of general principle, and specifically sitting in this imperialist country, we have a particular responsibility to oppose U.S. imperialism, our "own" ruling class, and what it is doing in the world. But, at the same time, that doesn't make these Islamic fundamentalist forces not historically outmoded and not reactionary. It doesn't change the character of their opposition to imperialism and what it leads to and the dynamic that it's part of—the fact that these two "historically outmodeds" do reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. And it is very important to understand, and to struggle for others to understand, that if you end up supporting either one of these two "historically outmodeds," you contribute to strengthening both. It is crucial to break out of that dynamic—to bring forward another way.

        Rejecting—and Breaking Out of—the Framework of the "War on Terror"

        For people living in the U.S., there is a particularity that needs to be continually gone back to, in relation to the "war on terror." I have made the point that this is not entirely fabrication on the part of the Bush regime (and the imperialist ruling class generally). There are real aspects to this—or, better said, there is a reality to which these imperialists are speaking, even while they fundamentally distort reality. But, in essential terms, this "war on terror" is an imperialist program which, among other things, is aimed at blotting out and turning the attention of people, even people who should know better, away from reckoning with the profound inequalities and oppressive relations that exist within different societies but especially on a world scale, under the domination of the imperialist system and in particular U.S. imperialism, which boasts of being "the world's only superpower" and is determined to maintain all this. If you accept the terms of "war on terror"—and especially if, as part of this, you do not look more deeply at the more fundamental relations in the world, the effects and consequences of that and the ways in which it is at the root of developments in the world now—you will get increasingly caught within the logic that what is most important is that "we" (meaning the people in the U.S.—and "I" above all!) "have to be protected." You get caught up thinking and arguing about what should be "the real war on terror." This has happened even to a lot of progressive people—including those who frame their opposition to the Iraq war in terms of considering it a "diversion from the war on terror"—they become trapped within the wrong logic. If you are carried along by this logic, you can end up in a very bad place.

        You cannot get to a correct understanding of things, and you cannot move toward the only possible resolution of all this that is in the interests of humanity, by proceeding from within the terms of the "war on terror." Even while "the war on terror" is not entirely a fabrication, even while there are important aspects of reality that it is reflecting—from the point of view of the imperialists—it is a fabrication in the form in which it is presented to people. That contradiction is important to understand: There are important aspects of reality that this formulation of "war on terror" (or "war against terrorism") is reflecting; but, as it is presented, it is a fabrication. Its essence is not "a war on terror." It is essentially a war for empire. And the confrontation with Islamic fundamentalist, and other, forces (even those which actually do employ tactics and methods which can legitimately be called "terrorist") takes place within, and is essentially framed by, that context and that content of war for empire.

        "Living in the House of Tony Soprano"

        Here I want to bring up a formulation that I love, because it captures so much that is essential. Soon after September 11 someone said, or wrote somewhere, that living in the U.S. is a little bit like living in the house of Tony Soprano. You know, or you have a sense, that all the goodies that you've gotten have something to do with what the master of the house is doing out there in the world. Yet you don't want to look too deeply or too far at what that might be, because it might upset everything—not only what you have, all your possessions, but all the assumptions on which you base your life.

        This is really capturing something very powerful, not only in a general sense but also more specifically in terms of what is pulling on a lot of people who should be in motion very vigorously and with real determination against the outrages that are being perpetrated in their name and by their government—by this ruling class, and by the core that's at the center of power now in the U.S.

        When this analogy, or metaphor, of "living in the house of Tony Soprano" was first brought forward (or when I first heard of it, at least), in the immediate aftermath of September 11, 2001, it was very timely and relevant. But September 11th was a rude announcement that there's a price to be paid for living in Tony Soprano's house, for continuing to go along with these profoundly unequal relations in the world and the way that your government, and this system fundamentally, bludgeons people in the world into conditions of almost unspeakable suffering in order to keep this whole thing going and in order, yes, for some "goodies" to be handed out to sections of the population in the "house"—not only "goodies" in an economic sense but also in the form of a certain amount of stability, and a certain functioning of democracy (bourgeois democracy) within the U.S. itself. All that is being shaken up now. Now, you don't just get the goodies for "living in Tony Soprano's house"—you get the "strangers" out in the backyard at night. "They're out there somewhere." It's a different world. It isn't the same equation as it was, even a decade or so ago—it's not the same now "living in Tony Soprano's house."

        It is not that everything was all smooth and nice for everybody in this house—for many people in the U.S. that has been far from the case—and it is not that nobody was aware of things going on in the world, of what "Tony Soprano" was doing to people out there all over the world. In fact, one of the ironies is  that a lot of people have been somewhat aware of this, but when the terms get sharpened up, some people want to pull back from what they themselves know. And so we have to get into real and sometimes sharp struggle with people.

        This is a point I believe I made in one of those recent 7 Talks—and, in any case, it is a very important point to emphasize: There is a place where epistemology and morality meet.

        There is a place where you have to stand and say: It is not acceptable to refuse to look at something—or to refuse to believe something—because it makes you uncomfortable.

        And: It is not acceptable to believe something just because it makes you feel comfortable.

        Ultimately, especially in today's world, to do that is a form of complicity, and we should struggle with people about that.

        And it also won't work to apply that kind of approach. You'll just end up in a very bad place, reinforcing both of the "historically outmodeds" and being on the wrong side of what needs to happen in the world, if you follow that approach out to its logical conclusion.

        We need a different world than one where there are a few houses of Tony Soprano, surrounded by a seemingly endless sea of suffering and oppressed humanity, living in terrible squalor and under undisguised tyranny; where the power, wealth and privilege of the relative few depends on, and is grounded in, the exploitation and misery of the many (and where, even within "Tony Soprano's house" itself, there are many who are treated as little better than second-class members of the family, or as despised servants). This is a world that cannot, and should not, go on as it is.

        Even before people are won to the communist standpoint and program, to fully deal with this, there is a struggle to be waged and they can be won to the broad position that we need a different world. We can struggle about what that world should be, and how it should be brought into being; but this dynamic we're on is going to lead to a disaster for humanity, including all of those who are trying to hide from it, in one form or another, or are thinking that if they remain passive, somehow it will pass them by.

        An Unequaled Barbarity

        In a speech on September 11 this year (2006), the fifth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Bush said—now listen to this: "Five years ago, 19 men attacked us with a barbarity unequaled in our history." Think about that statement for a second and what they're trying to put over on people with that.

        Really, "a barbarity unequaled in our history"? How about little things like slavery? How about little things like genocide of the Native Americans? How about lynching? How about wars like the war against the Philippines at the end of the 19th century, and all the atrocities committed by U.S. forces against the people of the Philippines? Or Vietnam? Or Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

        Note that Bush didn't say "on our territory." He said "unequaled in our history." That is not only a profound lie but a profound exposure of the monstrosity of the mentality of someone who could say something like that.

        Recently in our newspaper, Revolution, we had pictures and headlines from the time of the dropping of the atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War 2. There's all this talk these days about how "we" can't let others have nuclear weapons. And you have to keep reminding people in this country—or informing people, probably the majority in this country, who don't know it—about which country is the only one that has ever actually used nuclear weapons. I hate to say it—I don't want to be Jay Leno on the Tonight show, out on the street with his microphone, asking people basic questions about things and getting wrong answers, showing how all the "rubes" are really as stupid as you might think they are. But the fact is that this is a systematically uneducated and mis-educated population. Something a professor at one university said to us is actually very important. He said about the youth that he teaches now: "You should understand that they don't know anywhere near what you think they know."

        The widespread ignorance that does exist, even among the relatively educated population in the U.S., is generally accompanied by an attitude that we're the "good guys" in the world, so what we do that brings suffering to other people doesn't count in the same way as if the same thing were done by others. Partly out of an attitude like that, and partly out of just plain ignorance, it is very likely that a majority of people in the U.S. do not know—or have been unable, or unwilling, to "process the information"—that the U.S. has actually used nuclear weapons, that it has dropped atomic bombs on civilian populations. Or somehow it's like the Bob Dylan lines I referred to in the Memoir (From Ike to Mao and Beyond, My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a Memoir by Bob Avakian): When the character in a Dylan song tries to get into a fallout shelter, he is refused and threatened by the owner of this bomb shelter, and then there is the following exchange between the two of them: "I said, 'You know, they refused Jesus too'; he said, 'you're not him.'" This is the same kind of logic that many people in this country use—and a logic that is systematically used by the rulers and apologists of this system—when just some of the "unequaled barbarity" they have committed comes to light: "That's us—that doesn't count… you're not us."

        In one of the recent 7 Talks (if I recall correctly, it was the one on religion8) I got into the question of logical syllogisms, and I want to return to this here.

        This is related to the question of "common sense." A lot of people talk about "common sense," and this is something that is frequently invoked by right-wing politicos, talk-show hosts, etc., especially when they want to appeal to a certain philistinism in the service of their reactionary objectives. They will often say, "let's just talk common sense here." Well, it is very important, in terms of epistemology—in terms of struggling with people over how to really understand what is going on in the world, and why—it is very important to grasp the fact that "common sense" means one (or both) of two things: It means either elementary logic and/or thinking proceeding from assumptions that are so deeply embedded in the prevailing culture that people don't question them, or even are unaware of them.

        You see this all the time. People proceed from certain assumptions, like "we're the good guys in the world." They don't even necessarily say "we're the good guys" every time; they just proceed from that assumption and then make arguments about what "the bad guys" (the ones who are opposed to "us" or who are "getting in our way") are doing in the world.

        Well, as I have pointed out, with any of these syllogisms, or any kind of logical reasoning, there is the question of whether you are in fact reasoning logically—which is a problem for a lot of these hard-core defenders of the system and apologists for its crimes, especially the religious fundamentalist ones—they do not proceed logically much of the time. But even if you are proceeding logically, there is the question of whether your assumptions are valid to begin with, whether they actually are true. And, in addition to critically examining the logic (or lack of it) that characterizes people's thinking, there is a real importance to bringing to light the unstated, unchallenged—and often even unrealized—assumptions that go into a lot of what many people say, and think.

        If you think back to the build-up to the invasion of Iraq, whenever anybody would bring up anything about what was wrong with invading Iraq, those who supported the invasion—and who, at the same time, were unwilling, or unable, to think at all critically about all this—came back with a constant refrain: "But we were attacked." This has the virtue of highlighting both bad logic and faulty assumptions. Bad logic: "We" (the U.S. and its citizens) were not attacked by Iraq, so how does the argument that "we were attacked" justify an invasion of Iraq? And faulty assumptions, which do not conform to reality: the assumptions that "we" have been completely innocent, doing no harm in the world, and then "we" were suddenly attacked out of nowhere, with no relation to anything "we" were doing in the world. Well, in reality, who are "we," what have "we" actually been doing in the world, and where did this attack come from—and why?  What set of social relations are "we" out in the world enforcing? What is our Tony Soprano doing out there?

        So there are epistemological points that have to be gone into as part of this—most fundamentally in terms of how we understand reality, but also how we struggle with people about all this. I mean, imagine making the statement Bush did: "Nineteen men attacked us with a barbarity unequaled in our history."

        And, in speaking to the American Legion on August 29 of this year (2006), referring to the U.S. airplane, the Enola Gay, that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and feeling the need to combat what he and others like him labeled the "blame America first" position, Donald Rumsfeld said:

        "Not so long ago, an exhibit, Enola Gay, at the Smithsonian Museum in the 1990s seemed to try to rewrite the history of World War 2 by portraying the United States as somewhat of an aggressor. Fortunately, [Rumsfeld continued] the American Legion was there to lead the effort to set the record straight." 

        What is Rumsfeld doing here but, once again, justifying the unleashing of atomic bombs on Japanese cities, killing and horribly maiming hundreds of thousands of civilians? As pointed out in our newspaper, there has never yet been a prominent spokesman of U.S. imperialism who has said it was wrong to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Think about that: 60 years later, not a one. And you won't find any among the politicians who are now running, or considering running, for prominent office. You won't find any prominent representative of the government who will say this was wrong. They may not jump up and down and celebrate this nuclear slaughter the way they did at the time—and yes they did. But unleashing these atomic bombs on innocent civilians was well worth it, they continue to insist—it saved lives.

        Here is another example of faulty, and often unstated, assumption, combined with bad logic. First of all, "saving lives" was not the essential reason these atomic bombs were used to devastate two Japanese cities. This was done to make a statement on the world stage, particularly to the Soviet Union, to the Chinese revolutionaries and to others, about who is the big dog running the world now—"it's us, the U.S. imperialists"—and what price will have to be paid for going up against that. But even if those bombs had been used "to save lives," the question is: whose lives? There's a big assumption "smuggled in" there. It's American lives that are being talked about. Sometimes they do try to make convoluted arguments about how they actually saved Japanese lives by using these atomic bombs. But this is like the argument of an American military officer, commenting on a Vietnamese village that was leveled by U.S. bombing—"we saved the village by destroying it." This is what was done, on a much more massive and horrific level, with the use of atomic bombs on Japanese cities. But mainly, let's face it, it's American lives these people are talking about.

        They will say: "Our soldiers would have had to invade Japan otherwise, it would have been a massive invasion, the Japanese would have resisted, we might have lost a million soldiers." These are distorted and exaggerated claims to begin with. But something essential is smuggled into this. Often they don't spell this all out, they don't state explicitly the basic "equation"—which is: "American lives are more important than other people's lives; it would have saved American lives; therefore it is justified." Whether or not this is spelled out, that is the reasoning. That's the "common sense" reasoning going on with this kind of syllogism. We have to "pull out" the often unstated assumptions in all this, and make people confront what's actually being said.

        American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives

        One of the positive things on the political terrain these days—and we have to struggle for this to be brought forward a lot more fully—is a fairly widespread sentiment and consciousness, within the U.S. itself, that American lives are not worth more than other people's lives. This view is even more widespread than during the Vietnam War, I believe, although it did find expression then as a pretty mass phenomenon. Those who haven't been around as long perhaps aren't fully aware of this, but it's a relatively new thing for there to be a mass phenomenon where people in the U.S. itself are arguing that American lives are not worth more than other people's lives. This is a very important and relatively new positive thing on the political terrain. In the history of this country, there has always been the assumption—this has been promoted by the ruling class, but it's held much broader sway—that American lives are, of course, more important and worth more than other people's lives. The difference is that now there is actually a significant section of society who, when it's presented that way, will vehemently disagree. That's an important thing. And we have to win many more people to this viewpoint that American lives are not more important.

        All this—and the whole experience that is captured with the metaphor of living in the house of Tony Soprano—does come back around to the question of complicity. Now, in this connection I want to say a few things about the mobilization on October 5 (2006) that was called by World Can't Wait, and the fact that, frankly, in terms of numbers and accordingly in terms of impact, this fell far short of what was needed. Now, as Maoists, we're not supposed to blame the masses when things don't go well. But goddamnit—I want to blame the masses a little bit! Not strategically. Ultimately it is our responsibility—it is the responsibility of those who do understand the urgent need for massive opposition and political resistance to this whole course that the Bush regime is driving things on. But in line with, and as a part of, that responsibility, terms have to be presented sharply to people.

        Someone made the point that we should say to those people who knew about October 5, and who said they agreed with its basic stance and aims but did not come out that day: "Shame on you if you sat on your ass on October 5! If you knew about it or had a basis to know about it and you did not make use of this vehicle and help make this vehicle as powerful as possible—shame on you!" Now, if that's all we say, it won’t get very far—and it wouldn't be fundamentally correct. But there is an element where this has to be joined with people. It is a truth, which people do have to be confronted with, that if in the name of avoiding upheaval and chaos, and in the name of trying to stay safe—even in the sense of staying within a political process and political confines that you are more familiar and comfortable with, yet this process leads to terrible things, one after another—if on that basis you don't join in the kind of massive outpouring of resistance that is called for, and if you don't contribute to that—then yes, you are complicit. The ad that World Can't Wait put in the New York Times on October 4 was very right in its basic stance, as expressed in the headline of that ad: "Silence + Torture = Complicity." People have to be confronted with this.

        Epistemology and Morality… Crimes and Complicity

        This has to do with the point about "where epistemology meets morality." I thought the quote from Josh Wolf that was in an article in our paper recently was very much to the point. He is a video journalist who wouldn't turn over to the police and a grand jury his videotapes of an anti-globalization demonstration in the Bay Area. And they are going after him because he won't be complicit with them in this way. He said, very strongly: "People out there, quit hitting the snooze button. Wake up and hope it's not too late." And then he said very explicitly: "Quit saying you can't make a difference. That's just another form of cowardice." It is definitely another form of complicity. And as part of wrangling with people and doing what needs to be done to bring forward meaningful political action on a mass scale, this issue of complicity has to be joined with people.

        It does seem that one of the big problems with World Can't Wait, and specifically in terms of its October 5th mobilization, is that far too many people still didn't know about it. But then there are others who could have helped more people know about it, and more than a few of them didn't do what they should have and could have done. Now, we shouldn't shriek at people, we shouldn't actually get strident and shrill, but we also shouldn't be liberal and avoid struggle with people, even sharp struggle where necessary, so long as it is on a lofty and principled basis. We and others who are involved in World Can't Wait are not doing this because this is "our thing." We are doing this because of what's going on in the world and the stakes that are intensifying all the time.

        Of course, there have been important positive things brought forward by World Can't Wait and in connection with its efforts—and it is important to build on the positive things. But there needs to be a challenge carried out, and we shouldn't shy away from it or shrink from it. We should join this struggle—in a good way. If you just go out and try to jack people up with no substance, that's no good.  But we have to get into the substance of this with people. These two "historically outmodeds" are reinforcing each other; this dynamic is very bad and will lead to far worse disaster—if we don't lead people to break out of this. World Can't Wait was, and is, a vehicle for people to do that. What mainly needs to be done, on a whole larger scale still, is to show people, in a living way, why what is represented, and called for, by World Can't Wait is necessary, and how it can make a crucial difference. But we also have to join the issue of complicity with them. There was that slogan back in the '60s, which was not fully scientific, but it was more good than bad and more correct than incorrect: "You're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem." That kind of orientation was not wrong. If you drew the lines irrevocably and you didn't try to win people over when they were on the wrong side (or were trying to sit on the sidelines), well then, yes, that would be wrong. And if you didn't make any kind of materialist analysis of what are the actual driving forces underlying things, and what are actually the ruling and decision-making forces in society—then, yes, that would be wrong. But it is not wrong, and in fact it is very necessary, to pose the challenge to people: Look, there's a great earthquake here, and neither side of the way the earth is separating is going to lead to anything but disaster; we've got to forge another way, you've got to be part of that—and you've got to get out of your "comfort zone" to do it.

        Current Conflicts and Analogies to World War 2

        To step back a bit, what is going on in the world as a whole is more complex than Jihad vs. McWorld/McCrusade. There is China, there is India—there is a whole large area of Asia, and other parts of the world, which don't figure neatly into this. And we shouldn't go around trying to cram reality into neat little boxes. It's more complex than that. The world and what is driving things in the world cannot be fully described by this contradiction of Jihad vs. McWorld/McCrusade. But this is a big part of the dynamics driving things right now, even if not the only factor. And we can certainly say that there is no part of the world that is, or will be, unaffected by this conflict–-and most fundamentally and essentially by the actual dynamics and motive forces underlying this conflict and in particular the actual aims, necessities, and actions of the U.S. imperialists. This conflict, understood in this way, will increasingly exert a major influence on events in the world, even while they will not all be reducible to it and we should not try to reduce them all to it.

        With this in mind, I want to talk about the analogies to World War 2, and the whole frame of reference of that war, which is frequently invoked in support of the "war on terror" today. Again there are both things that are real and things that are instrumentalist, and outright deceitful, in this analogy to World War 2 and that frame of reference. If you look at recent speeches by representatives of the Bush regime, for example (some of which I've cited earlier in this talk), or if you read the book Fiasco, you will see that for people like Wolfowitz and many others, even though they were very young at the time of World War 2, this is an operative frame of reference for them. Of course, this is seen through a certain lens and through the prism of the interests of U.S. imperialism in the current world situation. And it is both demagoguery and their actual way of thinking when they continually cite these analogies to World War 2, to Hitler, to appeasement of Hitler, and so on and so forth. People like Wolfowitz and others actually do see much of reality through this prism. But, at the same time, they fundamentally distort this reality: They have a fundamentally distorted view of, and perpetuate and propagate a distorted view of, the nature and course of World War 2 itself and of things bound up with it.

        The Real Nature of World War 2—and the Role of Different Forces in that War

        If you go back and read Revolution magazine9 from the late '70s and early '80s, you'll see that our Party went through a process of reexamining our understanding of World War 2 and forging a more correct understanding of the character and course of that war. At the time of the founding of the Party in 1975 (and in the Revolutionary Union, which was the forerunner of the RCP), we had basically gone along with the "received wisdom" of the international communist movement, which said that, particularly after the Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany in 1941 and entered the war, World War 2 was a different kind of war, and different in particular from the previous world war. Even though we always recognized that a lot of the things that U.S. imperialism was doing in World War 2 were in pursuit of its imperialist interests, we accepted the "received wisdom" which treated that war as principally an "anti-fascist war" with the Soviet Union aligned with other governments that were opposed to the axis of Germany and Japan (and, for a while, Italy). But then, at the end of the 1970s and into the early '80s, we carried out a lot of study and a lot of struggle which led us to a different, more correct analysis of this. We came to the understanding that this war was, from the beginning and in its main and essential aspect, a war fought among imperialists for imperialist aims, even while, much more so than during World War 1, there were just and revolutionary aspects to World War 2, including the Chinese people's war against Japanese occupation and the wars of liberation waged by other peoples in Southeast Asia against Japan, for example. And the role of the Soviet Union, which was then a socialist country, was different than the role of the imperialist states and bourgeois forces with which the Soviet Union was aligned (including the U.S. as well as Britain), even though it was not nearly as different as it should have been. That's a whole discussion I don't want to back into here. The decisive point here is that World War 2 was essentially not a "great anti-fascist war," even though a lot of people in the world were motivated by opposition to fascism and the ravages carried out by the "fascist Axis," and even though there were liberatory aspects of great significance in that war. So it was a more complex war than World War 1, which was basically and almost entirely inter-imperialist. But World War 2 was also, essentially and in its main and defining aspect, a war among imperialists to determine which would be the dominant power(s) controlling the largest part of the world, including in the vast areas of (what is now generally referred to as) the Third World.

        It remains very important to have a correct understanding of this war, because it still casts its shadow in significant ways, both materially and ideologically—both the outcome of that war and also the way in which a certain interpretation of that war is used to shape the thinking of people, including the way in which many people are still influenced by this more or less unconsciously. Even people who were not around at the time, and people who know little if anything about the actual causes and the actual course of World War 2, are still influenced by the "long shadow" cast by that war—by the outcome of the war, what it gave rise to, and what has gone on as a result of that, over the whole period up to the present (though this has been a complex and contradictory process, and has not developed in some linear, uniform, and straight-line way). So it was very important for us to come to the understanding that World War 2 was principally a war fought among imperialists for redivision of the world, as World War 1 had been in a much fuller way, even while in World War 2, on the part of the Soviet Union, on the part of the Chinese war of resistance and other wars of resistance and liberation against occupation by Japan and other "fascist axis" countries, there was definitely a positive and progressive aspect, a liberatory aspect, that should have been supported.

        Once you understand the actual nature of that war, then you understand more about the actual history of U.S. imperialism. If you go back and read America in Decline,10 some of the history recounted and analyzed there, including with regard to World War 2, is very important and highly relevant today. And you see that what the U.S. was fighting for—what the ruling class in the U.S. was quite consciously fighting for—was pursuit of its own imperialist interests. That is why they dropped the atomic bomb on two Japanese cities at the end of that war, but it's also why they fought the war as a whole the way they did—and didn't fight it the way they didn't—that is, why, for several years, they largely held back from getting involved in the major theaters of the war in Europe in particular, and let the Soviet Union do the bulk of the fighting on that front and take the overwhelming brunt of the destruction and casualties.

        Stalin, Hitler, and Churchill—Communism, Fascism and Imperialism—and World War 2

        And that gets to another very important point: the character of how World War 2 is presented to people in the "West," in the so-called "Free World," is just a fundamental and grotesque distortion. For example, there is this movie out now, Flag of Our Fathers, about Iwo Jima. Now, in that movie, you can see how a lot of people got chewed up in that one battle (for the island of Iwo Jima). A lot more American lives were lost in World War 2 than in wars since then. But that was in the hundreds of thousands. In the Soviet Union, 20 million people's lives were lost in the course of that war—20 million. And that is a reflection of something very basic. Never mind about Iwo Jima, or Operation Overlord and the Normandy Landing, and all that stuff—that is not what defeated the Nazis, that is not what broke the back of the German army. It was the Soviet Union and the tremendous sacrifice of its people that was the main factor in the defeat of Nazi Germany. But I would like to have an essay contest to see how many college graduates in the U.S. would get this history right—a very small percentage, I would bet.

        Even if you take someone like Keith Olbermann, who is coming forward on MSNBC as a sort of liberal opponent of what Bush is doing, his frame of reference is seriously flawed. For example, he attacked this speech by Rumsfeld where Rumsfeld basically said that people who were opposing the Iraq War were appeasers—that's just one small step short of calling them traitors (and they do have the shrieking voices out there, explicitly talking treason, calling people traitors—check out Ann Coulter and David Horowitz, for example). But it was very interesting that in Olbermann's response to this, a lot of it was in the terms of who is the real Winston Churchill here—who is the real statesman that we should all respect? Well, what about Winston Churchill—what did he actually represent, what was he really all about? If, for example, you read the book All the Shah's Men,11 about the U.S.-led coup in Iran in 1953, you can see what Churchill was saying and doing in regard to that part of the world, coming out of World War 2—how he was defending and championing, in blunt and grotesque terms, the interests of British imperialism. Or go back and study the actual history of Churchill even before that: He was never anything but a crude grasping imperialist who is responsible for great crimes against people colonized and oppressed by British imperialism. But he is a hero, an icon, "in the West," in the "Free World," not only because of his role in leading Britain in World War 2; and not only because of his general stand as a champion and leader of imperialism; but also, more particularly, because of his hatred for revolutions against imperialism, and especially his hatred for communism, and the way he "stood up to Stalin," denouncing the "Iron Curtain" after World War 2, and so on.

        Now I don't have time here to offer any kind of overall and all-sided analysis and evaluation of Stalin and his role in different periods. But I do want to point out that almost universally those who denounce Stalin and dismiss him as a terrible tyrant—who make him the very representation of tyrannical, totalitarian rule—know very little about Stalin and have done very little study of what Stalin actually thought and said, what he actually did and why, and in particular what necessity Stalin was responding to in various circumstances. For these people—from outright reactionaries to many self-described "progressive" people—Stalin has essentially been reduced to a swear word. As far as I know, there are 13 published volumes of Stalin's works. I don't know how many of these people who are always denouncing Stalin have read any of this. At one point, I read all 13 of these volumes, and I have a lot of criticisms of Stalin, including some very serious criticisms, based on seriously studying not only what Stalin himself said and wrote but also many different analyses of "the Stalin period." I'm not saying you have to read all this—or anything like all of it—before you could have any opinions or any right to speak about Stalin; but Stalin is a major historical figure, the period of Stalin's leadership in the Soviet Union (and in the international communist movement) involves major historical events and turning points, and you should at least make a serious attempt to be informed, in a basic way, about something like that before you become part of the chorus denouncing (or praising) it. The reality is, however, that overwhelmingly and with few exceptions, the people who denounce Stalin, often and generally in visceral terms, really know very little, if anything, about Stalin, what he was actually dealing with, and what he did, and why, in those circumstances.

        This brings me back to the question of World War 2 and the role that was actually played by different forces in World War 2, including the Soviet Union under Stalin's leadership. Now, it is a fact that, during that war, Churchill even acknowledged that, after Germany invaded the Soviet Union, roughly three-quarters of the German army was occupied fighting the Soviets, fighting on the Eastern Front. And it is a fact that it was the Battle of Stalingrad that broke the back of the German war machine and turned around the whole course of the war, as Mao pointed out at the time. But you can't find—I don't know what this figure would be, maybe something like one in 10,000 Americans, who even knows that (whatever the figure is, it's astronomical).

        So the whole character of World War 2 is distorted even from that standpoint. What was represented by and what was the role played by different forces, and who actually did what—even on the basic level of who actually did what in fighting the war—all this is grossly distorted. You would never know from this litany you always get, lumping Stalin with Hitler—"Hitler and Stalin… Hitler and Stalin… Hitler and Stalin" (and often Mao gets thrown in these days, and sometimes Lenin too)—you would never know that Hitler and Stalin, and the countries they headed, were on opposite sides of this gigantic cataclysmic encounter called World War 2.

        I remember a comrade telling me a number of years ago that she had an argument with one of her reactionary relatives during the Vietnam War—almost everybody who was around during the Vietnam War had those arguments with some of their relatives—and her relative, who was actually from "the World War 2 generation," was insisting: "We've got to fight the communists—we had to fight them in World War 2, and we have to fight them now." And the comrade answered: "No, no—we were on the same side as the Soviet Union in World War 2!" But her relative insisted again: "No, we weren't!" This is the kind of thinking, and the rewriting of history, that goes on, that is widely fostered and promoted.

        And this makes it easier to bring in these grotesquely erroneous theories of people like Hannah Arendt about totalitarianism. As a matter of fact, Arendt's theory of "totalitarianism" never measured up to the real world—it was not an accurate and scientific analysis even as applied to the Nazis and other fascists—it was not an accurate description of what the actual dynamics and what the actual forces at play were. And this is all the more true when it comes to the communists. It is striking in reading Hannah Arendt's Origins of Totalitarianism (which I did in connection with writing the book Democracy: Can't We Do Better Than That?12) that with Arendt there is a lack of any real understanding—and in fact there is a gross distortion—of basic questions, including why it was that the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany ended up on opposite sides in World War 2 and engaged in a several year, all-out confrontation in which the fate of millions of lives and the continued existence, or extinction, of the respective governments was determined. Did all this come about and unfold simply as a result of a fit of "pique" on the part of Stalin or something—or some personality conflicts, or "the clash of totalitarian urges and wills"?

        Arendt's analysis is just totally non-materialist and completely off the mark in terms of the real nature and real causes of things, including momentous events in human history. But people are broadly influenced by these ill-founded and erroneous analyses like Arendt's. The fact that Nazism and fascism, on the one hand, and communism on the other hand, are radically and fundamentally different; and the fact that in World War 2 communists and fascists were on opposite sides, bitterly fighting against each other—all this is nowhere in the "popular consciousness." And if you asked people to summarize what are the aims and objectives and outlooks of the fascists, on the one hand, and the communists, on the other, overwhelmingly they couldn't do it. Very, very few people could do it with any accuracy.

        And when we hear these analogies invoked about "appeasement" (referring to British policy toward Hitler before the outbreak of World War 2 and comparing it to events today), one of the main things that is generally left out is that the whole point—or certainly one of the main points—of this "appeasement" was to push Hitler and Nazi Germany to the East, to attack the Soviet Union. It wasn't like: "Oh, Hitler's a good guy and we can get him to act reasonably and cease being a threat to us." Glenn Beck is always fond of referring to a senator (from Idaho I believe) who at the time of World War 2 was probably one of those pro-Nazi American politicians. This senator supposedly said something like: "If I could just talk to Hitler, I know we could somehow work this all out." In his role of utilizing right-wing comic book terms and scenarios to whip up support not only for the war in Iraq but the extension of war to Iran, Beck likes to use statements like this to ridicule the idea that "we" can deal reasonably with what he presents as the modern-day equivalents of Hitler—meaning anyone now getting in the way of U.S. objectives of unchallenged domination not just in the Middle East but throughout the world. But, once again, the real deal is that this "appeasement" before World War 2 was largely aimed at pushing Germany to the East.

        In his book Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?, Arno Mayer makes an analysis, in a serious and basically materialist way, of the real difference between how Hitler viewed and acted toward the East—and in particular the Soviet Union—as opposed to how Hitler dealt with the West. This book by Mayer also sheds important light on the overall actions and motivations of the Nazis in particular, including the mass genocide of Jewish people and how that fit into the larger context of Hitler's views, aims, and objectives. It is for very good reasons that we are constantly bringing forward these days the statement by Pastor Martin Niemöller about his experiences in failing to join with others in resisting the Nazis in Germany—until it became too late to effectively resist. How many people, even among those who are aware of this statement by Niemöller, are familiar with, and understand the meaning of, the first sentence in that statement?  Put this on a test: fill in the blank—Pastor Niemöller said, "First they came for the____." How many people could fill it in correctly? How many people would know that it says: "First they came for the communists"? How many people know that Hitler and the Nazis had to break the back of the very large and influential Communist Party of Germany at that time in order to implement the Nazi program? (It is true that the German Communist Party was riddled with many erroneous tendencies—tendencies which ultimately and objectively amounted to a reformist, rather than a revolutionary, stance and program—but that does not change the basic fact that crushing the German Communist Party was essential for Hitler and the Nazis in order to carry out their objectives, in Germany itself as well as on an international scale.) How many people know that? I'm not talking about people who have been prevented from knowing much about the world at all—I'm talking about people who are literate, educated, and think they know a lot about the world, but have been systematically miseducated and misled, and to some degree have fallen into believing these things because, once again, it is (or it seems to be) comfortable to believe them—it conforms to certain prejudices, predilections and predetermined ideas that have to do with the way people's lives are organized under this system, especially living in the "number one imperialist power in the world" ("the world's only superpower").

        To the Bourgeoisie, Fascism—and Slavery—Are "A Matter of Taste"

        How often do you hear it discussed that, for several years in the mid-1930s, the Soviet Union was attempting to build united fronts with Britain and France around things like what Germany was doing in Czechoslovakia, and that the Soviets were repeatedly rebuffed, essentially (even while there were some half-assed agreements to oppose Nazi aggression, they were basically not acted on by the imperialists who entered into these agreements)? Now, from our standpoint, and with our historical analysis of World War 2, and what led up to it, we have some serious criticisms of the policy of the Soviet Union in seeking these alliances with imperialist states. But the important point here—in analyzing questions like what "appeasement" was really all about, and what necessity the Soviet Union was facing in the build-up to World War 2—is that, in their attempts to build a united front against Nazi Germany and its initial military moves, the Soviets were essentially, and repeatedly, rebuffed by the imperialists. And it was in response to that, that the Soviets then turned around and signed an agreement with Nazi Germany (the "Hitler-Stalin Pact"), in order to gain some time, and yes some territory, to prepare for the very real possibility—which became a reality within two years—of a massive attack by Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union.

        To go just a little bit afield here (I believe I have recounted this story before but it bears repeating here), Molotov, who was one of the top officials in the Soviet party and government at the time, was actually the one who signed the agreement with Nazi Germany in 1939—with Ribbentrop signing for Germany, if I remember correctly. When Molotov was asked at the time, "How can you sign an agreement with Nazi Germany?" Molotov replied, somewhat flippantly: "Well, we have agreements with all kinds of bourgeois states." And this brought the reply: "Yes, but these are fascists." To which Molotov is reported to have answered: "To the bourgeoisie, fascism is a matter of taste."

        Now, again, that was too flippant and facile an answer, but I do have to say that there is some essential truth to this. When you look at the history of the U.S. bourgeoisie, for example, things like slavery are "a matter of taste." It was nearly a hundred years after the War of Independence from England before slavery was ended. During that whole period, slavery was an integral part of the U.S. economy and social system, and slave owners were an integral and powerful part of the governing system in the country as a whole. Slave owners, and defenders and champions of the interests of slave owners, such as Thomas Jefferson, are still upheld and celebrated as founders of the country and architects of liberty, serving as models for all mankind. So it reflects an important aspect of reality to say that slavery, like fascism, is—for the bourgeoisie—a "matter of taste."

        To return to the dynamics at the time of World War 2 (and in the period immediately preceding and leading into that war), this was a situation where the Soviet Union was faced with the growing danger of attack by Nazi Germany and was repeatedly rebuffed in its efforts to build meaningful and effective united fronts to put a stop to what Germany was doing in that period. Again, we can have and do have substantive and important criticisms of all that. But first of all, it is necessary to assess this, and to make criticism that should be made, on the basis of understanding the actual dynamics and the actual necessity faced by the Soviet Union and its leadership. And, second of all, the criticism that we do need to make should be done from the point of view of trying to determine what should have been done in the face of those dynamics and that necessity. As communists, we have to evaluate all this, and sum up what was done, and what should have been done, from the point of view of how to advance through all the difficulty and complexity that will have to be confronted in moving to abolish and surpass the era of the bourgeoisie and imperialism and advance to the radically new era of communism. But all this talk about "appeasement," as it is commonly put forward, is just more distortion and "mis-direction"—just as the imperialists, and their media and mouthpieces, cover up which country it was that actually did the main fighting against Nazi Germany in World War 2, while the U.S. basically sat back for several years—yes, they sent some "lend-lease" equipment to the Soviet Union, but essentially they sat back and let the Soviet Union and its people do the bulk of the fighting and dying, even as the Soviet Union kept saying to them: "Open a second front in Europe, will you please!" But the U.S. imperialists' response was, in essence: "Nope, not in our interests. Keep it up boys! You're doing a good job fighting and dying there."

        This history is hidden from people, so when World War 2 analogies are invoked and in particular when "appeasement" is invoked, it's all through a distorted prism and with a tremendous amount of misinformation, and dis-information, being deliberately purveyed, on top of the widespread state of ignorance that is fostered in the U.S., particularly about world affairs and world history. This relates to Lenin's statement that it takes ten pages of truth to answer one sentence of opportunism.

        Now, there are real problems with post-modernism and deconstructionism, and related philosophical relativism, as we know—very serious problems. But you do have to, in a sense, deconstruct some of this stuff, this distortion of history, and we have to do this in a systematically and consistently scientific way, from the standpoint and with the method of dialectical materialism, in order to get the underlying assumptions that are built into and largely hidden in this. I know this has been the experience with the Setting the Record Straight project13 (and other efforts of ours): Every time you venture out in the world to talk and struggle with people about the way the world is, why and how it got to be that way, and, by contrast, the way it could be and the way it needs to be—you run into a whole set of assumptions, spoken or unspoken, conscious or unconscious, that you have to get to before you can enable people to begin seeing the world the way it actually is, and could be.

        So, in order to speak to people about all this, in a way that leads to a real understanding of things, and is convincing and compelling, we have to get into some of the underlying assumptions and sort out what is true from what is not true, in regard to major historical events as well as present-day reality. Not that every time we sit down for a cup of coffee with someone, we have to get into the whole history of World War 2. [laughs] But in the course of the work we do, we have to struggle with people over an understanding of important parts of reality and history that are still casting long shadows and are still being invoked in a distorted way (even while it's true that the imperialists, and those who follow in their wake and adopt their outlook, actually do, to a significant degree, perceive reality the way they're portraying it, at the same time as they employ a lot of instrumentalism and demagoguery in their distortion of reality).

        "Spreading Democracy" and the "War on Terror"—Distortions of History, Distortions of Reality

        All this distortion serves the purpose now of putting the current "war on terror" in the context of—or portraying it as a part of—a continuum of "the great battles of the 20th century against totalitarianism." It is very important to the U.S. imperialists to do this, as part of continuing to propagate their cardboard and comic book version of history where "We've always been the good guys fighting the great battle for democracy—we've had to take on various totalitarianisms, and now we have a new one to deal with." Now, the rather obvious instrumentalism and demagoguery comes in, for example, when they portrayed someone like Saddam Hussein as a Hitler: "Okay, Saddam Hussein doesn't really fit neatly into this framework—but never mind, he can be Hitler for a day. And then we can go on to something and someone else." So, now it's the turn of Islamic fundamentalist Jihadists to be the equivalent of Hitler—to be labeled "Islamic extremists" or "Islamo-fascists." Once again, we see that there is both hypocrisy and self-deception. It's both reality and instrumentalism. It's both somewhat what they believe and in any case what they want other people to believe.

        This also applies to the whole thing of "spreading democracy": There is both reality and instrumentalism, there is both hypocrisy and self-deception. And it is important to understand what they mean when they talk about democracy and "spreading democracy." Again, one of my main themes here is that we have to really be thoroughly scientific and actually enable people to understand the world in its essence. And here the point I have made before about simplicity and complexity—about how there is both the basic essence of things and the complexity bound up with them—has important application. We have to enable people to get the basic, and in a sense simple, terms of something—the essence of it, in other words—but also to increasingly grapple with and grasp the complexity.  And this applies to the talk, by Bush and his regime, about democracy and "spreading democracy." One of the main reasons I am emphasizing the need to not only get to the basic essence but also to really go into the complexity of things, is that it won't do to repeat mantras, like: "You have to understand—democracy is nothing but bourgeois democracy, which means it's actually a bourgeois dictatorship carried out over the masses of people by a handful of ruling class exploiters and oppressors."  All true, but not very compelling to those who are not already convinced of it. We have to be able to actually make this come alive and be compelling for people. But there is not only that general truth, there are also particularities of how this is being shaped and thrust out into the world today.

        Bourgeois Democracy… and Fascism

        It is often the case that other people, who are coming from other points of view, can have insights that we should learn from and recast with a dialectical materialist, a thoroughly scientific understanding. For example, I was reading some observations by one of our comrades, drawing from some insights in statements by Arundhati Roy. What I want to focus on here is the observation: "There's a crisis of democracy—it looks like Iraq, and in the 'democratic countries' it's being '1984-ed.' " There is something important there which captures important aspects of what is going on with the Bush regime's crusade to "spread democracy," while at the same time they are moving to change U.S. society in a fascist direction and for generations to come (to borrow from the Call of World Can't Wait).

        What does this "spreading of democracy" mean? What are they actually doing? When Bush and others say things like "People in Iraq (or Afghanistan) came out and voted and there were elections, this is a great step forward"—is this all just tricks and lies? No, these are trappings of bourgeois democracy that they are talking about, but this is part of the kind of society they want to construct in Iraq, and in that region more generally.

        Now, what's the other part? Well, let's go back to "Elementary Logic 101": If you have an election under the military occupation of a foreign power it is not a free election, okay? Whatever that term "free election" means, whatever meaning there is to that, that's not it.

        But this occupation is also part of the democracy they mean to impose. It comes with, and through, bludgeoning—things will be hammered into place according to certain definite aims and interests of U.S. imperialism. And things will be structured and ordered in that way.  And then, according to their vision and plans, you will have the development of "free markets," the growth of a middle class, more stability, a Western-oriented society—like Lebanon.

        Recently, Israel—and the U.S. through the vehicle of Israel—went and did what they did in Lebanon, massively pounding and devastating the country and its people; but Lebanon has been a model of what they are trying to do in the region. I remember seeing Anderson Cooper on CNN, when things were going on in Lebanon, with the Israeli assault and the massive outrage among the people in Lebanon over this—with many, even secular forces, rallying around Hezbollah—and there was Anderson Cooper pulling out his hair: "What happened?! We were doing so well in Lebanon, you know? Jesus Christ, what's going wrong here? We got everybody mad at the Syrians and everybody loved us and everything was going so well—and now what's happening?!"

        Well, some of the underlying and driving dynamics of imperialism are what's happening there, buddy. And this is all the more upsetting for them, because Lebanon was basically a model of how they want to remake the region—how they want to bludgeon the Middle East into being. And, once again, on their part there is both reality and instrumentalism in all this. The "democracy" they are "spreading" does look like Iraq: What they are aiming for in Iraq does include some of the forms and trappings of bourgeois democracy, and they actually do want to develop more of a "Westernized middle class" there—although it is a great irony that there was, to a significant degree and in significant ways, such a middle class under Saddam Hussein, and as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation and all the devastation and madness that has been part of that, and has been unleashed by it, much of that middle class has moved to get out of Iraq. But the U.S. imperialists, and strategists in the Bush regime in particular, actually have theories about this, they actually believe that their "free market" stuff will—someday—benefit everybody. Maybe not in your lifetime or mine, or for several generations, but someday it will benefit everybody. That's how they see it. And in the meantime, they believe, it will create enough of a middle class and other strata that will be inclined toward the U.S. and not want to have upheaval—and that's good enough for now. That, again, is how they see it—even as reality is working out in a very different way.

        So, if you understand that, you can understand how this involves the appearance, and in some ways the reality, of a very acute contradiction: On the one hand, they have this crusade to "spread democracy," and there is an aspect of reality as well as of instrumentalism and demagoguery to it, at the same time as it can legitimately be said—and needs to be said—that they are moving to change U.S. society in a fascist way and for generations to come. It is not necessarily the case that the trappings of democracy will be eliminated as they move to change U.S. society in a fascist way and for generations to come—nor will they necessarily or likely give up the banner of democracy while doing this. The meaning of the words can change. Remember that recent exchange between a right-wing radio guy and Dick Cheney: "Don't you think, Mr. Vice President, that dunking somebody in the water, if it would save some lives, is a no-brainer?" "It's a no-brainer for me," replied Cheney. But then, in the same breath, they insist: "We don't torture!" Now, how can you put those two things together? This has to do with their insistence that, because they have tremendous power, they can define reality any way they want. Or, as a Bush administration official was quoted in that Ron Suskind article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine: We create our reality on the ground, and while you're studying that oh so judiciously, we will go on and create further reality.14 If we say water-boarding is not torture, then it's not torture (and, oh yes, as Cheney "clarified," he wasn't talking about water-boarding but just a little dunking in the water to make somebody talk!). Water-boarding is not torture, because we do not torture—here is another of their self-serving tautologies (similar to: we're the "good guys" in the world, so whatever we do is… good).

        They Lied to Us… and Deceived Themselves

        One thing we should really understand—-and I believe this is a slogan, or formulation, that could and should be popularized: If you look at what they did in Iraq, the way they justified it and what's happened there, you can capture a lot of this in the formulation They lied to us and deceived themselves. This is a big part of what happened. They actually believed their own propaganda. The way they were seeing the world—they really thought that's the way the world is. They really thought they could do what that Bush administration functionary said to Ron Suskind—that they could just continue to create their own reality on the ground, as if no other factors, and no other people, have anything to do with what reality is and how it develops.

        As I was listening to one of these imperialist spokespeople on the media recently, I couldn't help blurting out: "They don't understand how their own system works." This is important to grasp. They don't understand what the actual nature of U.S. society is and what it rests on fundamentally. They actually believe all this stuff about "free markets." Or, to a large degree, they believe this, because once again there is also a lot instrumentalism. But they do believe a lot of it, and they don't understand what their system and its operation around the world actually leads to and what it actually calls forth. They understand some of it—it would be wrong and way oversimplified to say that they don't understand any of it—but, in essential and fundamental terms, they don't understand how it actually functions, what the underlying dynamics are, and what it calls forth in different ways. So they believe they can go in and do this kind of thing in Iraq, and everybody's going to welcome it—you know, the flowers and all that kind of stuff. They believed that to a significant degree. And then sometimes they don't know what they believe and what they want you to believe. The two get very closely bound together and even become identical in their thinking. But, to a significant degree, they do believe their own propaganda: they actually deceive themselves, and they don't understand how their own system works.

        They don't understand the lopsidedness in the world—the great disparity and acute polarization in the world, where tremendous wealth and power are concentrated in the hands of a small number of people, and in a handful of countries, while in most parts of the world, and in the world as a whole, the great majority struggle, often unsuccessfully, even to secure the basic necessities of life while being subjected to life-stealing exploitation and murderous oppression. Yes, the imperialists know this lopsidedness is there, and they make calculations based on it, yet they lack the intention, and the ability, to put an end to this lopsidedness. Along with that, they don't really understand what it flows from, what are the foundations of that lopsidedness, and why it is continually recreated, often in even more extreme terms.

        Democracy—Concentrating Some Essential Understanding

        Here I want to return to two brief statements regarding democracy that are run regularly in Revolution newspaper. These statements—one of two sentences, and one of three sentences—are an attempt on my part to capture some essential aspects of reality, and to concentrate much of the complexity bound up with this reality in a scientific way. Especially in light of what is going on in the world today, and the rationalizations that are being propagated to justify what the Bush regime (and U.S. imperialism in general) is doing in the world today, it is worthwhile digging further into these statements.

        To take "the two sentences" first, this begins (the first part of the first sentence is): "The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism… " Now, you could get into a whole bunch of arguments about that statement if you didn't correctly understand it, and particularly if you approached it in a dogmatic way. [In a sarcastic voice:] "Well, I thought you said that democracy in the U.S. does exist but it's bourgeois democracy." Yes, but note that what's being said here refers to the essence of what exists. It is emphasizing that, if you want to understand the essential and driving forces in society, don't look to the superstructure of politics and ideology, and don't look to superficialities—look to the economic base first of all.

        This is what is brought out in the first of these sentences, taken as a whole: "The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism." Those political structures could be democratic (that is, bourgeois-democratic) or they could be fascistic (or they could be one in the name of the other). But what is their essence? And what is fundamental?

        And then this statement goes on (the second sentence is): "What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism." This, again, is the essence of what they spread around the world. The structures to enforce that imperialism may be the Saudi Arabian royalty—or it may be sweeping aside the Saudi Arabian royalty and instituting a more bourgeois-democratic form of government there. But what's the essence? What are the driving forces? It is imperialism—the capitalist system in the stage of imperialism—a worldwide system of exploitation under the overall rule of capital and driven by the laws of capitalist accumulation, as conditioned by the dominance of monopolies, international investment/export of capital, the division of the world among the imperialists as well as the great division between a few imperialist countries and a vast number of colonized and oppressed nations.

        In the three-sentence statement on democracy, essential points are emphasized which closely interconnect with the two sentences I have just discussed. Now, I have said a number of times that if I were teaching a course on this subject (on the nature of democracy and its relation to the fundamental character of society, rooted in its economic system), I would read these three sentences, and the rest of the semester would consist of: explain. Because there is a tremendous amount concentrated in these sentences that is very important to understand—and is very widely misunderstood. How many people actually have engaged the substance of this? And how many people need to? So let's look at these three sentences.

        The first is: "In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about 'democracy'—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse." How much further ahead would we be if there were a large section of people who understood the essence of that! I've often joked that, with the success of the socialist revolution, one of the first acts of the new revolutionary state—the dictatorship of the proletariat—should be to ban the word "democracy" for ten years, because it has been the source of so much misunderstanding and confusion. But that is, after all, a joke—we can't actually do that, and shouldn't try to do that, for a lot of reasons—just to be clear. But there is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding and confusion about this question of democracy, and people just keep falling, over and over again, into the same kinds of illusions about this. If there were a leap to where a significant section of people understood just this one sentence, think how much further ahead we'd be.

        And then this statement goes on (the second and third sentences are): "So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no 'democracy for all': one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality." 

        Once more, if we could actually get people to begin grappling with and understanding this, we would be so much further ahead. This is not just important as theoretical abstraction—which it is. It is theoretical abstraction, and it is extremely important as theoretical abstraction for people to be wrangling with. But it also has everything to do with what's going on in the world and major struggles that have to be waged in the world today. Whether you understand this—whether you grasp the essence of what is being captured and concentrated here—or whether you are full of the illusions that are promoted in opposition to that, is of tremendous importance and moment, literally in terms of what direction the world will be heading in. Because the fact is that not only do the imperialists not understand their own system. But, without negating positive things they do and contributions they make, the fact is that neither is all this understood by the many reformers, populists, and democrats on the political terrain.

        To further illustrate the essential points here, I wanted to bring in another great shopkeeper quote from Marx (and in this case, Engels as well). As you know, Marx made a very profound observation about the relation between the democratic intellectuals and the shopkeepers—how, even though in their everyday approach to life, they may be as far apart as heaven and earth, they share an essential unity in that, in their thinking the democratic intellectuals do not get further than the shopkeepers get in their practical dealings; that the one, in the realm of theory, as much as the other in the exchange of commodities, does not get beyond what Marx termed "the narrow horizon of bourgeois right."15 The other quote I am referring to here is from The German Ideology:

        "Every shopkeeper is very well able to distinguish what somebody professes to be, and what he really is, [but] our historians have not yet won even this trivial insight. They take every epoch at its word and believe that everything it imagines about itself is true."16

        This really captures something very profound. How many people do you know who take every epoch, and in particular this epoch, at its word, and believe that everything it imagines about itself is actually true? How many people do we encounter in the course of our work who, as I put it in the polemic against K. Venu,17 take bourgeois democracy more seriously than the bourgeoisie does—and keep trying various ways in their minds and in their practice to try to perfect this bourgeois democracy into something other than what it is and what it is capable of being?

        This goes back to the two sentences and the three sentences I spoke to above. There are so many people who take this epoch in particular, the bourgeois epoch, at its word, and who don't go beyond the appearance of things to get to the essence—to the underlying relations and dynamics that are driving things and that establish the foundation for, and ultimately determine the nature of, the political system and institutions, as well as the dominant culture and ideology, in any society, in any epoch. How many people ignore, or are simply ignorant of, the fundamental reality that, in any society in any epoch, political structures, institutions, and processes must be understood precisely in relation to the underlying economic base and to dynamics that are rooted in that economic base—in the relations and driving contradictions that characterize that economic base? How many people still need to be won to approach the world in that way?

        Understanding the World In Order to Change It

        All this stresses the profound importance of communism as a scientific worldview and approach to reality, of materialism and dialectics. It stresses the importance of theory and methodology. We're not going to get where we need to go—and certainly the complexity of what we're up against now should drive this lesson home to us—if we don't grapple in the realm of theory and methodology and then apply that to changing the world. Marx was right, profoundly so, when he said in the "Theses on Feuerbach" that the philosophers have only tried to understand the world, the point however is to change it. But we should not and must not do a "two into one" on that—wrongly combining, conflating, and "mashing together" theory and practice. That, frankly, is what has characterized a lot of movements, including revolutionary and communist movements. There has been a lot of positivism. A lot of thinking that theory comes immediately out of (or is essentially reducible to) immediate practical experience. This goes along with the tendency to negate the need for a leap from practice to a higher, more abstract, conceptual level of knowledge, and with the notion that theory is related one to one with a particular kind of practice and that theory can only advance in more or less direct relation to such practice, negating the fact that, while in the final analysis all theory has its origin and point of verification in practical experience, this must be seen in broad and not narrow terms and theory can, in important aspects, run ahead of and anticipate practice.

        Theory and (political and ideological) line are abstractions from reality which, the more correct they are, the more they can guide us in changing the world in accordance with its actual nature and its actual motion. If you are going to wield theory and line as an instrument to change the world, you have to take it up and wrangle with it in its own right—abstracted from the reality out of which it comes, of which it is a concentration—and to which, yes, as Marx emphasized and we must emphasize, it must be returned in order to change the world. But if you leave out the step of grappling, on the level of abstraction, with theory, you are bound to go astray and land in a pit.

        And everybody can deal in abstractions, by the way. It's not only a handful of people who can do this. Revolutionary theory, communist theory, has to be made accessible to masses of people, but they actually engage in abstraction all the time, with different world outlooks. I've never met any basic person, or any person from any stratum, who doesn't have all kinds of theories about all kinds of all things—most of them drawn from the bourgeoisie and ultimately reflecting its outlook—although some of them do this only indirectly and appear to be, and to some degree are, ideas and theories that people have "cooked up" on their own, more or less unconsciously reflecting the dominant bourgeois outlook in society. Of course, to make theoretical abstractions that most correctly, deeply and fully reflect reality, in its motion and development, requires taking up the communist world outlook and methodology and increasingly learning to apply this consistently and systematically. And, as Lenin emphasized (in What Is To Be Done? and elsewhere), this communist outlook and methodology will not just "come to" the masses of people on their own and spontaneously, but must be brought to them from outside the realm of their direct and immediate experience. But the fact remains that everyone engages in theoretical abstraction of one kind or another—everybody is capable of this—and, fundamentally, it is a question of how are you doing this, with what world outlook and methodology?

        This is an analogy that I have found helpful: Reality is like a fire, like a burning object, and if you want to pick up that burning object and move it, you have to have an instrument with which to do it. If you try to do it bare-handed, the result is not going to be good. That's another way of getting at the role of theory in relation to the larger world that needs to be transformed, in relation to practice, and in particular revolutionary practice, to change the world.

        The point is not to remain at the level of abstraction. There are two leaps that must be made. One is to the level of abstraction. The other is back to practice to change the world—in a broad sense, and not a narrow, positivist, pragmatist way, which can only serve reformism and perhaps "revengism" but not radical and revolutionary objectives, not the transformation of the world to bring about the emancipation of all humanity.

        This is why I have stressed the point that theory is the dynamic factor in terms of ideology—it's a dynamic factor in changing people's world outlook. It is not that we don't need to struggle with people over things like morality and people's moral responsibilities. In this talk, and in general in my talks and writings, I have emphasized the need to do precisely that because, in fact, this is extremely important. But people's morality, their sense of right and wrong, flows from their understanding of the world. How do you know what is "right" and "wrong"? That flows from a certain understanding of the world—one way or another.

        So we need both those leaps. We need to engage on the level of abstraction from reality, concentration of reality, which is what theory and line are. We need to wrangle over things continuously on that level—we need to repeatedly wrangle with what is actually a correct understanding of reality, because reality is not only complex in a general sense but it is constantly moving and changing, and we are always racing to catch up with it. Even though at times you are able to anticipate things—and in that sense be, in your conception of things, "ahead of" the development of reality—most of the time, or in an overall sense, you are racing to catch up with reality. And that's the way it's going to be. If we don't engage in the realm of abstraction, of theory, we're dead. Simple as that. But if we leave it there, and don't return it back to practice, to change reality—not just in a narrow sense but in the broadest, world-historical sense—then what is the point?  In either sense—if we fail to make either leap (from reality to theoretical abstraction and conception, and from that back to practice, to change reality)—then what are we doing?

        The Necessity That Is Being Confronted

        Now, having spoken to some questions of basic analysis and of outlook and methodology, and with that as a foundation, I want to return again to the situation, to the necessity, that has to be confronted now. From what has been discussed so far, it is possible to see that the necessity facing the U.S. imperialists and in particular the core at the center of power now in the U.S.—and what they have done and are doing in the world in responding to that necessity, as well as how they are moving in relation to the freedom they have perceived that they have in the current situation, particularly since the "end of the Cold War" and the demise of the Soviet Union and its bloc—all this is in turn imposing necessity on all different strata and groups throughout the world, including within the U.S. itself.

        Again, to just touch on these points quickly—but as bases and focuses for further reflection and wrangling—for the class of U.S. imperialists themselves, this situation is now impinging on them, and this necessity is making itself felt, in increasingly acute ways. They can't roll back the clock and go back to the situation before they invaded Iraq this time (in 2003) and ousted Saddam Hussein. Some of them might actually wish now that they could do that—but they can't. Some of these right-wing commentators were, for awhile, making joking remarks like: "Here's what we should do. We should get Saddam Hussein out of jail, apologize to him, put him back in power, tell him to whip this shit in shape while we ignore what he has to do to get this done." Now, clearly they can't do that. But these jokes themselves are a reflection of "the fine mess they have gotten themselves into," and the fact that, as a result, the necessity that is confronting them is greatly heightened.

        And one of the ways this finds expression—and in fact this is another manifestation of, or dimension to, the point about "the pyramid of power"18 in the U.S. now—is this: Especially in these acute circumstances, as well as in an all-around and basic sense, to really take on and answer the right-wing section of the ruling class and its program and where it is driving things, it would be necessary to get down to, and to hit strongly at, the underlying assumptions and foundations upon which this rests. And that the other representatives of the ruling class—including as this is embodied in the Democratic Party leadership—can never do—and do not want to do.

        If, for example, you are going to really challenge the thrust of the Iraq War, and the "let's go after Iran" logic, and so on, you have to call into question the whole assumptions of the "war on terror" and you have to bring forth what all that is really all about and is based on.  Or, if you are going to take on something like the attacks on affirmative action, you have to talk about the actual history of this country—and all the atrocities, including genocide, slavery, and other horrendous forms of oppression, down to today—that this has involved. And that you cannot do from a ruling class perspective. Or to defend the right to abortion in a truly powerful way, which can answer the many-sided attacks on this—practical, political, and ideological—you have to get into the role of women in this society and the whole historical oppression of women—how that is bound up with other fundamental social and class relations. That, again, is something you cannot do while remaining within the dominant and "acceptable" framework of bourgeois politics and ideology.

        This is especially acutely posed in today's circumstances. Bourgeois politicians can't even do what the Church Senate Committee (named after Senator Frank Church) did back 30 years ago. Then, as a result of a whole mass upheaval and growing mass consciousness about the real nature of what the U.S. does around the world, this Senate Committee came out and exposed some of the things the U.S. had done, like in Chile and other countries where the U.S. pulled off coups and committed other crimes. Today, if you want to represent the ruling class, you cannot do even what the Church Committee did. It's nowhere on the agenda to talk about that stuff. The current situation—and not just the freedom but the necessity of the ruling class—doesn't allow for that kind of discourse, even in watered-down terms.

        I was watching this guy Jeff Cohen on Amy Goodman. He was the founder of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). He's got this book out: Adventures in Cable News Media.19 It's an interesting book. It provides exposure of how the mainstream media operate. This is coming from a certain standpoint, different from our own, but it's not without its insights.

        Cohen makes an observation that objectively has to do with the "pyramid point." He recalled how, during a break when he was on one of these CNN Crossfire shows, he turned to the right-winger, Robert Novak, and said, "Do you really think Pat Buchanan is a liberal?" And, Cohen recounts, Novak went into a whole tirade about how Buchanan is an economic "New Dealer" and a populist and all that. And then Novak said: I was an Eisenhower Republican in the '50s, and everyday since then I've gone further to the right. In commenting on this, Cohen makes the very true and very telling point that you could not get somebody on TV, as a regular and mainstream commentator, who said: "I was a Kennedy Democrat in the '60s, and every day since then I've gone further to the left." No way such a person could ever have any place in the mainstream media—except as some sort of object of ridicule. I mean, Noam Chomsky has been declared to be "from the planet Saturn"—he's way beyond the pale of respectable and acceptable discourse in the mainstream media.

        Cohen, who was a producer for the Phil Donahue show before it got kicked off of MSNBC, talks about how, if they wanted to have even a relatively mild left-winger on that show, they were told they had to have at least two or three right-wingers to "balance" that left-winger. And the Donahue show was supposed to be the liberal answer to the right-wing talk shows. But when it got to the question of someone like Chomsky, the "joke"—or, really, more-than-half-serious point—was that if they were going to have Chomsky on, they'd have to have 38 right-wingers for "balance." [laughs]

        Again, this is not just owing to the organized strength of right-wingers, nor is it merely a matter of corporate dominance in the mainstream media. More essentially, it is a reflection of the necessity that the U.S. ruling class faces–-not just the freedom they are seeking to seize on, but also the necessity and the way in which how they have responded to that necessity has created further necessity impinging, yes, even on them.

        But this is also impinging on and confronting all different strata throughout the world—other imperialists in other countries, other ruling classes, for example, like in China and India, or Pakistan. Remember, there was that whole thing about Richard Armitage, the friend of Colin Powell and assistant secretary of state in the first Bush administration—how, right after September 11th, Armitage went to the head of state of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, and basically gave him the "offer he couldn't refuse" routine—insisting that he allow Pakistan to be used as a base for the attack on Afghanistan, and for the "war on terror" more generally. Recently, when Armitage was asked about this, he said—continuing the Godfather routine, or at least his role as the henchman of the big Don—"I never make a threat I'm not in a position to carry out, and I couldn't personally carry that out."  Well, that was never the point. [laughs] The threat was coming from U.S. imperialism—you were just the one delivering the threat.

        But, beyond the particularities (and peculiarities) of that, in one way or another what the U.S. is doing impinges on all kinds of ruling elites, and other forces—and not just through direct Mafia-type threats. Every ruling class--in India, China, Russia, France, Germany, and so on—and even lesser ruling classes in various parts of the world, which are fundamentally dependent on and beholden to imperialism—all of them are forced to respond to this. They are all being confronted with this necessity.

        And so are all the "popular strata" throughout the world. All the non-ruling class strata, all the different groupings among the people in the U.S. and in countries all over the world, are being confronted with necessity which is stemming mainly at this point from what the U.S. ruling class, and its core at the center of power now, is doing. On a deeper, more fundamental level, all this is stemming from the underlying dynamics of the imperialist system, but in more immediate and proximate terms—in terms of what's directly affecting people right now—it is proceeding to a significant degree out of how the core at the center of power of U.S. imperialism now is perceiving things, including its necessity as well as its freedom, and how it is acting in relation to that. But, again, it is very important to stress that this is not a matter of "all freedom" for them—as powerful as they are, it is far from the case that they can just "do whatever they want." And what they are doing not only involves necessity as well as freedom for them; it presents necessity but also—at least potential—freedom for those forces, of various kinds, who are opposed to them. Here, once again, I am using "freedom" not in a more "conventional" sense, but in the sense of confronting and transforming necessity—material reality—in ways that are favorable, are in line with one's objectives.

        So there is not a single group in society—and, for that matter, ultimately not a single individual, but in any case not a single stratum or group in society anywhere in the world, from ruling classes down to the most basic masses—which is not being impinged upon and being confronted by these dynamics. Of course, most people are unaware of this, or only vaguely conscious of it—or, even if aware of it in varying degrees, they do not yet have a scientific understanding of it and therefore are not able yet to consciously act to change all this in their own interests, and most fundamentally in the interests of humanity. So the challenge this poses for us, as communists—as those who have the responsibility of acting as the vanguard of the proletarian revolution and moving humanity to a whole new stage and a whole new world—this challenge once again revolves around Mao's "amendment" to Engels: that freedom does not lie just in the recognition of necessity, but in the transformation of necessity, through struggle. And, especially in these acute circumstances, the orientation, the perspective, and the approach has to be one of wrenching freedom out of all this.

        This is being more and more acutely posed. It is true, as I pointed out not long ago: If there are a few more major changes in the world—particularly in this dynamic where Jihad and McWorld/McCrusade mutually reinforce each other while opposing each other—it is going to be qualitatively harder to break out of this dynamic. And this is one of the things we have to join more fully, and struggle over more deeply, with people. You know, sitting on top of a rumbling volcano might somehow seem more comfortable than trying to move, but it's actually not a very good position to be in. [laughs] This is what we have to get people to understand.

        Attacks on Foundational Things in the History of the U.S.

        Along with the whole international dimension of what these imperialists, headed now by the Bush regime, are doing, there is an attack on foundational things in the history of the U.S., with regard to the rule of law and the secular nature of law and government. And it is important to note that the attacks on, and undermining of, these foundational things is causing restlessness and, yes, some movement among people, but this is in contradictory directions. Here we see once again the profound truth of that statement—one of the most important points in the Call of World Can't Wait: "That which you do not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept."

        Mao observed that where there is oppression there will be resistance; but this should not be understood in some sort of linear sense. People can capitulate. People can learn or be forced to accept that which they do not resist and mobilize to stop. And you already see this happening. A number of people have commented along these lines:

        "I thought that when they showed the pictures of torture at Abu Ghraib, that would be enough—that there would be a mass outpouring of outrage. I thought that when they had the exposure about Fallujah and how the U.S. military basically destroyed that city; I thought when, even after Abu Ghraib, they started openly talking about torture again and legitimizing it; I thought when they began openly talking not only about outlawing abortion, but birth control as well—I thought there would be a mass outpouring."

        Well, it isn't going to happen spontaneously. There will be spontaneous outpourings, but the level and the character of massive outpouring of political resistance that is needed—here I'm talking about something short of revolution—this is not going to happen spontaneously. Because that dynamic is at play, where far too many people are learning to accept all this. And an important dimension of this—an important aspect of the problem—is that, when foundational things are brought under attack, this cuts the ground out from under people in terms of resisting. These foundational elements, even as illusory as they are—even with all the illusory elements that they involve—these are the things, or important parts of the things, that people have felt they could stand on, as solid ground from which to engage the world politically, so to speak. And when the ground moves underneath you like that, it's very hard if you're not moving with it—or you're not moving to counter it—it's very hard to find firm ground to stand on. What you could stand on yesterday, you can no longer stand on tomorrow.

        As I touched on a minute ago, there are two foundational things about the history of the U.S., and the exercise of bourgeois rule in the form of bourgeois democracy in this country, which are being brought under frontal attack increasingly. One is the undermining of the rule of law. We see this in a very sharp and concentrated way with the torture law, the so-called "Military Commissions Act," not only in its codification of torture, but also in its gutting of habeas corpus and in the powers that it grants to the executive. This is an attack on the historical basis of the bourgeois Constitution and the rule of law in U.S. society. We've gone into this elsewhere and we should continue to go into it more deeply. Here I'm just going to call attention to it.20

        This goes along with and interpenetrates, in a very negative "synergy," with the whole Christian fascist attack on the secular foundations of the Constitution and government of the U.S.

        Someone said—I think it might have been in the movie Jesus Camp—I haven't seen that movie yet, but I believe someone who has seen it recounted this, where one of these fundamentalist preachers said: India is the most religious country in the world, and Sweden is the most secular country; and we're a nation of Indians being ruled by Swedes.  Now, as a matter of fact, one of the things about India is that it probably also has the most Maoists in the world, by the way. [laughs] It is definitely true that there's too much religiosity there, but describing India as the most "religious" country in the world is not really an accurate and hardly an all-sided characterization.  But this statement (about India and Sweden) gets at something nonetheless. And, of course, the significance of this is that these right-wing religious fundamentalists—these Christian fascists, as we very accurately refer to them—want to change the situation so that there is in fact religious rule: law and government based on a literalist reading of the Bible, as interpreted and enforced by religious authorities.

        An important thing to keep in mind in regard to this is that, while the U.S. is a very religious country, in the sense that the great majority of people profess some religion, it is not true that this is a religious country in the sense these fundamentalist Christian fascists mean it. They mean, and they insist, that not just the people, in their large majority, are religious but that, from its founding, the government and the laws were based on religion, and in particular on Biblical principles (and, of course, their literalist interpretation of those principles). This is not true. It is—yet another—falsification of history. The United States, in its Constitution, and in the basis for its laws, was and has been all along explicitly secular. That is, the notion of basing the Constitution and laws on religious, and specifically Christian, precepts was expressly and explicitly rejected in the founding of the country. So, again, what is involved here is an attack on another foundational thing about bourgeois society and bourgeois constitutional government in the U.S.—an attack which is being openly and aggressively carried out by the fundamentalist Christian fascist movement. And it is important to keep in mind that this is not just a grouping of isolated fanatics but a powerful force which has connections and influence at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

        And then there is the whole way in which the fundamentalist Christian fascist outlook and program interconnects with and serves the grand scale imperial designs of the Bush regime and provides a certain additional element of rationalization for it. I spoke to this in the recent 7 Talks, including "Why We're in the Situation We're in Today… and What to Do About It: A Thoroughly Rotten System and the Need for Revolution" as well as the talk on religion itself ("Communism and Religion: Getting Up and Getting Free—Making Revolution to Change the Real World, Not Relying on 'Things Unseen'"). I am not going to get into this point further here, but I did want to mention a couple of relatively new books that are interesting in this regard: One is The Theocons—Secular America Under Siege by Damon Linker, who used to be involved with the Catholic Christian fascists whom he calls theocons. The other one, interestingly enough—I finally broke down and got this book—is Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism by Michelle Goldberg. (Yes, that Michelle Goldberg—the one who attacked us in such an unprincipled way in connection with the original "Not In Our Name" statement21 and the development of a movement of opposition to the juggernaut of the Bush regime in the aftermath of September 11—but there are some insights in this book and it is worth reading.)

        These frontal attacks on foundational things about constitutional bourgeois democracy in the U.S., interconnecting with the whole international drive to which I've spoken throughout this talk, are raising a lot of profound questions and unsettling people in a lot of ways. But, again, the effect of this is very contradictory—acutely so. This underscores once more the need to break out of linear thinking—the notion that the more that things people really cherish are brought under attack, the more they will resist. No—it's much more contradictory than that. There is an aspect of truth to that, and that is an aspect of the situation, but there are things pushing in the other direction, which I was speaking to earlier in terms of ground to stand on, and that ground being cut away. And the synthesis people need is not going to come from inside the logic with which they've been proceeding with their beliefs and illusions about these foundational things.

        This relates to an important point in the Democracy book (Democracy: Can't We Do Better Than That?), where it speaks to the contradiction between the profession of the imperialists about democracy, on the one hand, and what this amounts to in reality, and how—this is very, very important—at one and the same time this is a continual source of exposure of the system and a constant source of regenerating illusions about the "perfectibility" of this democracy and this system which goes by the name of democracy. So we're going to have to learn even better how to handle correctly that contradiction in a way that moves things and moves people in a positive direction off of that contradiction—in a fundamental sense towards revolution but also, in more immediate terms, towards the kind of massive outpouring of resistance that is urgently needed, involving large and growing numbers of people with a diversity of political and ideological views.

        Now, clearly, these attacks on foundational things, which I've been pointing to, are not attacks on the dictatorship of the proletariat—since, unfortunately, that does not exist, anywhere in the world, at this time. No, they are attacks on the form in which historically the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie has been exercised in the U.S., in the form of bourgeois democracy. And if we can't correctly understand and handle the contradictions involved in all this, then we're not going to get where we need to go. And it's going to require a lot of work and a lot of struggle, including some acute struggle with people, in order to, at one and the same time, enable increasing numbers of people to shed their illusions while, at any given time, we will be—and will need to be—uniting with large numbers of people who are acting out of motivations that to a significant degree stem from their illusions. This is a contradiction that it is extremely important to handle well.

        What was said on the website of World Can't Wait, right after its October 5th (2006) mobilization, is quite correct and has application in terms of the objectives of that organization as well as in an overall sense: There is still time, but there's not a lot of time. There is still time, but not a lot of time, to race to catch up to where we need to be before the dynamic is one that's very hard to reverse, or to transform into something more favorable. Speaking for our Party (and I am sure that, coming from their own perspective, this is also the stand of many other people, including in World Can't Wait), we are never going to quit, we're never going to give up, as long as we're able to do anything. But the question of where are we going to be fighting from—from what position, with what political and social forces, with what popular consciousness gaining initiative, and so on—that's very acutely posed now. All this will have ramifications and implications in terms of everything, down to the most fundamental things concerning the direction of society and the world; the impact is going to be felt for decades—what's going on right now, and what the outcome of this is.

        There are all kinds of things—including the prospect of legitimacy crisis and, yes, even the possibility of revolutionary crisis—that could possibly emerge out of all this, without putting a specific time frame or attempting to identify particular dynamics that could lead to this. And, in sort of a back-handed way, you can actually see the question of legitimacy crisis looming in more profound terms than just talk about elections being rigged and stolen, and so on. From what I have heard, there is actually some talk going on in liberal and progressive circles about how maybe a military coup wouldn't be so bad after all! You know, look to the Wesley Clarks, even the Colin Powells—somebody up there who's got some power, within the power structure itself. Partly, this is because some people are becoming convinced—somewhat through work we, and others, have done but more fundamentally reality is working to convince some people—that these Democrats aren't going to do anything, nothing essential to change the whole direction of things. But if you're still stuck within—if your thinking is still confined within and you haven't yet broken out of—the established and dominant political framework, where do you go next? Revolution? No. At least not immediately. Some of these people think, “Well, then, how about a military coup?!”

        Particularly in the middle strata, but not only there, people are looking for some resolution of all this that's going to restore their illusions—and restore what their illusions are based on—without everything getting completely out of hand. And a lot of people in the middle strata—look, let's be honest and confront reality as it is—they fear the Bush regime, they fear upheaval, and they fear the basic masses. Okay, we're being scientists, not emotional people or people who are out for revenge. We have to work our way through those contradictions.

        This is the whole point about emancipators of humanity—bringing forward a section of the proletariat, and others taking up the proletarian standpoint, who are not coming at it from a petty standpoint. Yes, it's insulting and maddening, what goes on all the time—including the outlook of a lot of people in the middle strata and what is often their attitude toward the basic masses—but, in a fundamental sense, this is the workings of the system. All this stuff is the workings of this system, and that's what we have to enable people to understand. For that matter, the things the masses are pushed into doing, in which they fuck each other up; the way in which these middle strata look at that, the way they look at the basic masses in general—all that is fundamentally the workings of the system. And we have to get to where we're bringing forward a section of people which is aiming to get totally through and beyond this whole stage of history, to bring about the revolutionary overthrow of capitalist-imperialist rule, by millions and millions of the masses, leading broader sections of the people, to actually sweep this system aside and bring something better into being in a profound sense.

        But to really work toward and contribute to that, we have to understand the terrain, the political terrain. We have to understand—this is Lenin’s point in What Is To Be Done?—we have to understand the characteristics of different classes and strata while not looking at this in static, undialectical, linear terms but grasping the contradictory ways in which they respond to things. Without being vulgar materialists, determinists, and pragmatists, and while recognizing that this is not some kind of uniform phenomenon, we can say that the proletarians and other basic masses respond to major social and world events in ways that are significantly different from how, in general, people within the middle strata respond to such events. And, of course, within the middle strata, broadly speaking, there are different kinds of responses. The intellectuals and educated strata generally do tend to react to events differently than the shopkeepers, for example, even though Marx is right about the fundamental unity between them, when he speaks about how the democratic intellectuals do not get further in their thinking than the shopkeepers get in their everyday practical dealings—both remain within what Marx called "the narrow horizon of bourgeois right."

        We have to understand all this complexity, if we're going to lead this all where it needs to go. And big things are "up." When you hear about people buzzing, or whispering, about military coups, this is a reflection of the fact that questions of legitimacy crisis are "brewing." Once again, all this will not develop in, and must not be approached in, a linear way. It's going to be much more complex and contradictory, and we have to work and struggle our way through this, dealing with all these different contradictions, and all the different levels of expression of these contradictions, while keeping it all going toward where it needs to go.

        This is once again an expression of the "drawn and quartered" point.22 If you think you're just going to go out here and raise a banner and march forward and overcome one obstacle after another with more and more and more people, well then you're going to be in for a big demoralization and disorientation—if you haven't already encountered that many times over. So, to repeat a metaphor I have used before, you have to have a lofty and sweeping vision and big arms to encompass all this—and, through all the acutely contradictory back and forth, twists and turns, and ebbs and flows of it, keep going where it needs to go, and get to where there is ultimately a revolutionary situation, at whatever point that comes. This whole process will perhaps involve situations where legitimacy crises arise that don't develop all the way to a revolutionary situation but get resolved short of that, in one way or another, and then you have to struggle for the best resolution of that in line with your fundamental, overall, and ultimate revolutionary objectives.

        These are basic points of methodology, and they are extremely important in terms of everything we engage and everything we wrangle with.

        The "Two Maximizings" in the Development of the Revolutionary Movement—Among the Basic Masses, Among the Middle Strata

        Moving ahead then from that foundation, I want to talk a little bit about the "two maximizings" and the decisive role overall of the first. To very quickly paraphrase here, this ("two maximizings") refers to developing a politicized atmosphere and a revolutionary current—and in particular a growing pole of people partisan to communism and to the Party—among the proletariat and basic masses; and developing essentially the same thing among the middle strata. And then there is the need to develop the "positive synergy" between these "two maximizings"; or, to put it another way (in more "classical communist terms"), the dialectical relation—the mutual interaction and reinforcement—between the two, in a positive way.

        You are not going to bring forward a revolutionary force and a communist movement among the basic masses, on anything like the scale that is necessary, and potentially realizable, without there being the development of political ferment and political resistance broadly—and, yes, the development of a revolutionary and communist current—among the middle strata. In the absence of that, the basic masses are going to say to you—and they're going to have a point—that "we'll never get anywhere, we're going to be surrounded, everybody's going to oppose us, and we're just going to be viciously crushed once again." On the other hand, you can't hinge the development of a revolutionary force and a communist movement among the basic masses, and in society in general, on developments among even the progressive section of the middle strata or among the middle strata more broadly. That's not mainly where it's going to come out of. So we have to get the dialectics of this correctly.

        We saw some of the positive development (and "synergy") that I'm talking about in the 1960s, for example. Why did the '60s become "the '60s"? It's because, in addition to all the ferment that was largely centered among the middle strata—the youth counter-culture and the anti-Vietnam War movement, and so on—there were masses of people, Black people and others, at the base of society who were expressing in very powerful ways: we refuse to live this way anymore. And, largely as a result of this powerful impulse, things developed beyond the confines in which various reformists and bourgeois forces were trying to contain them; things quite broadly found a revolutionary expression, in a general sense. And this, overall and in a political and ideological sense, lit a fire under all the other different strata in society. In terms of what was going on in U.S. society itself—and in the context of the whole world situation, including the heroic resistance of the Vietnamese people to U.S. aggression as well as the Cultural Revolution in China—it was that upsurge "from the base," more than any other factor in American society, which gave the defining character to what "the '60s" became in the U.S. Not the distorted character that is attributed to it now, especially by the ruling class and mainstream media, etc., but its actual, extremely positive, radical, and revolutionary character.

        I remember seeing a Peter Sellers movie in the early '70s, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (if I remember correctly, Alice B. Toklas was credited with coming up with a recipe for "grass" brownies). The movie was about this character, played by Peter Sellers, who was a typical middle class guy, a lawyer who kept getting to the altar to get married and then running away and dropping out. He had a younger brother who was a hippie who had already dropped out, and (to make a long story short) at one point this younger brother takes the Peter Sellers character to a "head shop"—they're looking around, and the hippie younger brother finds a copy of Mao's Little Red Book and says: "Oh, you've gotta have one of these. Everybody's gotta have one of these." That scene did actually characterize the times. It was not the way they portray it now. After a certain point—this was very positive, and we must not allow it to be summed up as negative—the revolutionary forces and, in a general sense, a revolutionary culture, had the initiative among very broad sections of society. And there are important lessons in that, in terms of developing the "two maximizings," and their "positive synergy" today.

        Emancipators of Humanity

        Essential in this—the principal aspect of this, in an overall sense—is bringing forward increasing numbers of the proletariat and basic masses, bringing forward growing waves of people from among the proletariat and basic masses as emancipators of humanity who are viewing things from that perspective. Revolutionary masses who are taking up the communist outlook and method and are learning to view the reactions and responses and the characteristics of different classes and strata from the point of view of "how do we get to a whole different world?"—and not from the point of view of "how does that affect me, or how does that make me feel?" That's what it means to rise to the level of being emancipators of humanity. It means you see beyond the shortcomings and limitations of these different strata—speaking of the middle strata in particular—and you see the necessity and the challenge of winning them, through a whole complex process, to be on the side of, or at least to a stance of friendly neutrality toward, revolution, preparing the ground politically for, and helping to hasten the time when a revolutionary situation comes into being.

        If we don't bring forward a section of the proletariat and basic masses—or growing sections, wave after wave of people-–who are consciously motivated as emancipators of humanity, we have no chance for anything good to come out of all this. This definitely does not mean that it's unimportant to work among the middle strata, even with all their limitations. Believe me, the proletariat and basic masses have all kinds of problems and limitations too. The point is that they occupy a different position in society and are propelled toward different things. But here, again, there is the essential question of where they are going to be led, what they are going to be led to do—because, on their own and even with a certain gravitation toward radical solutions, this will not take the fully positive expression it needs, it will not go where it needs to go, without leadership—communist leadership.

        And this responsibility falls to us—to those of us, drawn from many different strata in society, who at any given time have taken up the standpoint that corresponds to the fundamental interests of the proletariat, as a class—the outlook and method, and the cause and program, of revolutionary communism. It falls to us to in fact be the vanguard of the proletariat in that sense. If we don't do that, if we shirk or shrink from the responsibility to do that, how are the masses going to understand their own role as the emancipators of humanity? How are they going to be able to see beyond all the difficulties and the tremendous weight on them and the ways in which they're pulled down and pulled toward other things, which do not correspond to their own fundamental interests and the larger interests of humanity? How are they going to be able to realize their potential as the emancipators of humanity if we aren't very clear and firm about this (while also, on the basis of firmness, having flexibility, on the basis of solid core having elasticity)?

        The Only Hope the Masses Have—and the Responsibility We Have

        This is the only chance the masses have. They don't have any other chance. Mobile Shaw23 was right: we are collectively the only hope the masses of people have. Of course, there are other communists throughout the world. But collectively we are the only hope the masses of people have and the only hope the world has—hope that all this craziness and destruction and sacrifice that's coming anyway is going to turn toward something much better. We must not shrink from that role. And we must never forget that this is our role, through everything we're doing. Even when we're sitting down and having a cup of coffee with people—and overall in working our way through a lot of things that are short of revolution—we can't ever forget that this is what it's all got to be aimed for. We've got to have those broad arms and that sweeping vision; and, as I've said before, we've got to go be willing to go right to the brink of being "drawn and quartered," without allowing that to actually happen, in order to move all this forward.

        This is our responsibility. If there's going to be a united front from a strategic standpoint—and if it's going to be a united front under the leadership of the proletariat—in both aspects, and in the essence of this, it requires our leadership. It requires lots of people, from many different strata, taking a lot of initiative and doing a lot of creative things and being unleashed in ways that are unexpected and surprising to us—positively, not only negatively!—but it requires our leadership in overall and fundamental terms.

        As I've spoken to a number of times, there are plenty of contradictions, including acute ones, within the proletariat itself, broadly speaking. To point to a very glaring and acutely posed one now, take the contradictions between Black masses, on the one hand, and Latino masses and immigrants, on the other hand. I was talking about this with some comrades not long ago and we were observing (with perhaps slight but unfortunately not great exaggeration) that 90% of the Black masses have a bad line on the immigrants and 90% of the immigrants have a bad line on the Black masses! That's the reality we're dealing with. And how is that going to change? Where are the understanding and the programmatic policies going to come from to lead and mobilize people in a radically different direction and to achieve a synthesis that unites them on the basis of their fundamental interests? Nowhere else than from the standpoint of communism and through our playing our role as a communist vanguard. These are the realities. I don't believe that statement is hyperbole. And if these realities don't show you the need for a communist vanguard, then I don't know what will.

        We've got to work and struggle our way through this—through all these contradictions, including those that are fostered between different sections of the basic masses. Where do the fundamental interests of the masses—all these masses—lie? And even the white proletarians—who are not just a few, around and about, but who number in the millions and millions—what are their fundamental interests? And how do those interests get expressed? Or the middle strata in society, including the huge numbers who are straining against the hold of their prejudices and illusions—how are they going to get moved in a way that's going to lead toward a positive resolution out of all the turmoil and upheaval that has been and will increasingly be unleashed in the world—a resolution in the interests of humanity?

        We have two things going for us, against all the very big things that we have to confront, the gigantic and momentous things we have to go up against, the very daunting things. One is our dialectical materialist outlook and method, our scientific approach to reality. And the other is reality itself and its motion and development, which that outlook and methodology reflect and encompass. Are the fundamental and essential interests of the masses of people going to be served by Black masses lining up with reactionaries against the immigrants, while the immigrants are mobilized around a line that all Black people are lazy and don't want to work? We know the answer to that—and we should never forget the answer to that. And we should go deeply into this with the masses of people, both in the ideological dimension and practically in terms of what we mobilize them to do and how we mobilize them to take the political stage.

        So we have to be, at one and the same time, working among the middle strata and building a metaphorical—or political and ideological—fire under the middle strata, in a good way, by bringing forward increasing numbers of people, particularly from among the basic masses, as revolutionaries, as communists, as emancipators of humanity. And we have to recognize the need to not just engage with, but to struggle—yes, sometimes sharply, but in any case consistently, and at the same time in a principled way and from a lofty plane—to wage struggle with people while having an orientation of striving to win people over and of uniting the greatest number possible at any time, in order for people of all strata to be moved in the way they need to be moved. But we do need to light this political and ideological fire, and we really need to be taking the whole thing, this whole communist thing, very boldly out in every corner of society, particularly among the basic masses, but among every strata. If we don't do that, then the attempts, as important as they are, to work among various strata—and to build united fronts involving people of many different ideological and political viewpoints and perspectives, including major united front efforts like World Can't Wait—will not succeed, will not break through on the level and scale they need to.

        Never Underestimate the Great Importance of Ideology

        In the context of what I have been discussing here, and as a point of basic and overarching importance, I want to emphasize something we could capture with the phrase: "Never underestimate the great importance of ideology."

        We have a very negative example of this with the Islamic fundamentalists. The way in which they are proceeding to do what they're doing has a very powerful ideological component to it.

        How do people respond to the conditions that they find themselves in? What course or road do they take, and what do they respond to, in the face of those conditions? This is not predetermined. There is not just one way that people respond, automatically and regardless of influences on them. And even the level on which people sacrifice depends on their ideological orientation to a very significant degree.

        Lenin pointed out, for example, in What Is To Be Done?, that, in the course of the Russian revolutionary movement, Iskra, the newspaper of the Bolsheviks, trained a whole generation in how to live and how to die. And that's what these Islamic fundamentalists are doing, from a very different and fundamentally reactionary standpoint. We can see the very negative effects of this. And, yes, in the short run they have certain things going for them because they can promote metaphysics and idealism, with the notion of another world and how you'll get your reward there. And, of course, it's too late, once you're dead, to find out there's nothing there—including you! But are there things worth living and dying for? This is a profound ideological question. Besides things like these Islamic fundamentalist movements, look at what many people are living and dying for these days, especially the youth, being drawn to crime and gangs, and so on. Where is that going to lead? And what is that going to contribute to and reinforce? But, with all this, it would be a very serious error to underestimate the great importance of ideology, of one kind or another, and how it leads people to act, and be willing to sacrifice—how it trains them, in short, to know how to live and how to die.

        And from another angle—talking about the other "historically outmoded"—we shouldn't underestimate the degree to which Bush and company are also attaching great importance to ideology. Bush, in his recent speeches, and others, like Rumsfeld, have continually emphasized that the battle against what they call "Islamic extremist totalitarianism" is not only a major military battle but also the great ideological battle of our time. This is how they're presenting it. And, yes, we can make our jokes about "W," who doesn't know how to pronounce "nuke-u-lar," and so on and so forth, but there are people surrounding him and there is a core there that thinks, that is very deeply ideologically committed and understands the importance of the battle in the ideological realm. That's why they're bringing forward all these World War 2 analogies and all their talk about totalitarianism and extremism, and so on. In other words, they are bringing forward their solid core—with very little elasticity and a lot of absolutism, these days especially. And what can stand up to and really oppose that? In the final analysis, and in fundamental terms, only our solid core—with a lot of elasticity, on the correct basis of the necessary solid core.

        The relativism and ideological flabbiness so common among the liberals—both those within the ruling class, but also more broadly in society, including the liberals and progressives among the middle strata—this is not capable of and is not going to stand up to the reactionary solid core in the ruling class—nor, for that matter, to the reactionary solid core of the Islamic fundamentalist phenomenon.

        And here I want to return to Michelle Goldberg. Despite, or in some ways actually because of, her own worldview, including the influence of Hannah Arendt's notions of totalitarianism, the following from "our old friend" Michelle Goldberg provides a valuable window into the thinking of many liberals and progressives these days. She says: "Ideologies that answer deep existential needs are hugely powerful." That's a profoundly important point.24 Then, after making this very crucial basic point—"Ideologies that answer deep existential needs are hugely powerful"—Goldberg goes on:

        "The Christian nationalists [or what we would call Christian fascists—BA] have one. And their opponents largely do not. Today's liberalism has many ideas and policy prescriptions, but given the carnage born of utopian dreams in the 20th century, it is understandably distrustful of radical, all-encompassing political theories. It is cautious and skeptical. Liberals don't want to remake the world; they just want to make it a little better." (Michelle Goldberg, Kingdom Coming, pp. 191-92)

        Well, there's a lot packed into that statement. This is why it's worth reading people like this, even after they've slandered us (which Goldberg did a few years ago, in connection with the original "Not In Our Name" statement and the political movement which that statement helped to inspire). Here is a classic example of someone who is highly disturbed by developments in U.S. society, in particular the growing influence of Christian fascism. From reading this book it is clear that she would like to keep things, including opposition to this fascist trend, within certain bounds, but she has a sense that this may not be possible. This is very profound in its implications, in a number of ways. So, in a certain sense, "there you have it" in those few sentences—a lot is actually captured there—including a window into the highly distorted way that people like Goldberg are viewing the experience of communist-led revolution and socialist society in the 20th century (a major part, if not the heart, of what she is referring to with the phrase: "the carnage born of utopian dreams in the 20th century"). And this is why, in a general and overall sense, it is worth it and necessary to investigate what people from all different strata are thinking, both when they systematize it like this and through broader investigation to find out about, and make a synthesis from, more scattered and unsystematic ideas and sentiments among people in different parts of society.

        But, with all this, it is extremely important to keep in mind a profound point from Marx. To paraphrase (and somewhat expand upon) what he says: what matters fundamentally is not what anyone or any group of people might want subjectively, or might be thinking at any given point, but what the underlying and driving contradictions and dynamics will confront people with. Among other things, this underscores the great importance of our solid core, ideologically as well as politically—a solid core which is dialectically related to, and in an essential way encompasses, elasticity and which can lead the way to in fact radically remaking the world to bring into being something far better.

        "Maintaining Our Strategic Nerve"

        In the context of everything going on today, everything that has to be confronted and cries out to be radically transformed in a much better direction, I want to emphasize this basic point of orientation: In the face of the difficulties, in the face of even defeats along the way, in the face of falling on our face at times, it is very important, especially at crucial junctures, that—to use a certain phrase—we not lose our strategic nerve. It's very easy in the face of tremendous necessity and great difficulties, in the face of certain setbacks and of people flying in all directions, to lose your strategic nerve—to lose your grip on what actually is underlying and driving things and to be swept away in one form or another—either carried away with positive things or quite often carried away with disappointments—and to just openly go in the direction of throwing up your hands and capitulating, or to go off into an infantile direction, which is in fact the "mirror image" of capitulation and leads to the same ultimate result.

        Now I want to say, just for the record, that at times I myself have been acutely disappointed by—and, yes, have cursed in graphic terms—the people in this society who are sitting by and doing nothing in the face of atrocities and horrors committed by their government and in their name—I would bet that I have done this at least as much as anyone else who has set out to mobilize people to do what needs to be done to change the present disastrous course of things and to radically transform society in a positive way. But what do we do then?

        There is a tremendous gap between what is going on—and the rapid pace at which more and greater outrages and atrocities are being committed and being prepared by those in power in the U.S.—and, on the other hand, what people are doing, or not doing, in terms of political resistance to oppose this, in the massive and determined way that is required. This is a very acute contradiction. But what do we do in the face of that—what do we do, in order to transform that in a positive direction? Do we keep our fundamental and strategic orientation, and work and struggle through the contradictions—do we persevere, but with the necessary sense of urgency that the situation demands? Or are we going to search for gimmicks, or throw up our hands and give up? Are we going to, in one way or another, lose our strategic nerve? In speaking of "strategic nerve," I mean this in the sense of our basic and strategic orientation, not in some sense of "personal courage," in the absence of and divorced from that orientation. Another way to say this, another crucial expression of this, is that we can't lose our materialism and our dialectics.

        The clock is ticking down. We are not operating in a vacuum here. U.S. society is in fact being remade in a fascist direction, with implications for decades to come; the world is increasingly being subjected to the attempts of those in power in the U.S. to further bludgeon things into correspondence with their needs, aims and objectives; and there are the very real, negative effects of the continuing dynamic where McWorld/McCrusade and Jihad mutually reinforce each other even while opposing each other—with already terrible and potentially far more disastrous consequences. But, at the same time and largely as a result of all this, a lot of people are running up against what someone has described as sort of a "cusp" or "trough." They're running up against the fact that the ways they thought they could affect the political direction of U.S. society, and the role of the U.S. in the world—those ways don't work. Those doors are being increasingly slammed in their faces. But they haven't yet made the determination—haven't yet been won—to the fact that they have to make some radical ruptures in terms of their political views and actions, even short of the full rupture of going for revolution. And if we were to lose our strategic nerve—in other words, our strategic orientation and methodology and approach—that would be especially criminal in this context.

        Instead, we have to be combining, in the correct way, perseverance and urgency—persevering, but not in an aimless, timeless way, persevering with the appropriate and necessary sense of urgency—learning, as we struggle, to break through on these contradictions and carrying forward that dialectical process of unity-struggle-unity with a broad and diverse range of people and political forces, not only in such major efforts as World Can't Wait but in other key arenas, too, and in an overall way. At the same time, we have to be much more vigorously and boldly taking our full revolutionary, communist line in a truly big way out to the masses—to basic masses, but to other strata as well. And, in line with the very great and urgent needs, as well as in terms of our fundamental orientation and objectives, we must make further, and increasingly greater, advances in building the Party as the revolutionary, communist vanguard the masses need—building and strengthening the Party both quantitatively and qualitatively—continually increasing its numerical strength and not only its organizational but, even more essentially and fundamentally, its ideological and political solid core, and the corresponding elasticity, initiative, and creativity grounded in and flowing from that solid core.

        Strategic Repolarization—for Revolution

        Now, having stressed the tremendous importance of ideology, I also want to emphasize the need to grasp the importance of political line and policy and of providing practical means for masses of people to mobilize to change the world. There's a need to apply the two "mouthful formulations." The first one, from "Strategic Questions,"25 has to do with how, in the development of political movements and the political struggle overall, to continuously forge (and reforge under new conditions) unity as broadly as possible so that it is objectively in line with and furthering the aims of the proletarian revolution and so that, at any given time in that process, as many people as possible are being won and influenced in their subjective consciousness toward the communist position, without however overstepping and undermining the correct unity for the given circumstances, which will be on a level different from, and short of, support for the communist position and proletarian revolution. And the second "mouthful formulation," which has been drawn from GO&GS (Great Objectives and Grand Strategy),26 has to do with identifying and moving around—bringing forward political resistance and mobilization on a mass scale in relation to—concentrations of major contradictions in society and the world, and how that in turn contributes to moving everything toward revolution.

        The overall work of our Party is, in significant measure, an application of these "two mouthfuls." This is an application of the united front under the leadership of the proletariat, in terms of policy and program. And it is very important to see every aspect of our Party's work not as a thing unto itself but as part of an overall strategic approach. An overall strategic approach and a means for what? For revolution—for repolarizing in a way more favorable for revolution and to prepare the ground, politically, for the emergence of a revolutionary situation and, relatedly, the emergence of a revolutionary people in the millions and millions.

        And, if we look at things in terms of repolarization for revolution, the following formulation is very relevant and important—not speaking to any particular immediate situation so much as with strategic and overall considerations in mind:

        What's being argued for is, if we do work correctly, we can take advantage of the paralysis of significant sections of the bourgeois; isolate to the maximum degree possible this really hard-core section of the bourgeoisie; and, with the necessary qualitative change in the objective situation, go after the overthrow of the bourgeoisie as a whole.

        Confronting Daunting Problems 

        Now, in moving closer to a conclusion (see, I'm dangling that prospect out there!), I want to speak to something I have formulated previously (I believe it was the "Reaching/Flying"27 series that ran in our newspaper a few ago), where I spoke about "two things we don't know how to do"—namely, meeting repression and actually winning when the time comes. Now the point of saying these are two things we don't know how to do is not to project some phony posture of humility: "We're very modest—there are some things we know how to do, in fact there are really important things we don't know how to do. Isn't that great?" No, it's very bad, it's a very real problem, that we don't know how to do these things. The point is to call attention to the fact that we'd better work on these things—in the appropriate way and not in inappropriate ways.

        Dealing with Heightening Repression

        So, let's talk briefly about this. Resisting the heightening repression—this is a gigantic challenge. I mean, let's do keep in mind that bourgeois democracy is after all bourgeois dictatorship where democracy is ultimately and fundamentally only for the ruling class and those who serve its interests and dictatorship is exercised over the rest; but it's not good what's happening right now, the way they're moving with that bourgeois dictatorship, the way they are markedly and openly stepping up the repression and undercutting the ground from which to oppose and resist it. It's not good for the people of the world. It's not good for the people in this country, and it's not good for the organized forces of political resistance, and not good for us as the vanguard of the necessary revolutionary movement. It's very bad. The fact that, on the orders of the President and his functionaries, anybody can be yanked out and put in a deep freeze, locked up with no rights, subjected to torture and perhaps never heard from again—that is not a good thing in any sense! This is posing itself very acutely and urgently now, and again you find the problem that foundational things are being undermined so that people are losing their sense of even what to stand on to fight some of these things—which is a significant part of the purpose of undermining these foundational things.

        And then there is the dynamic of "that which" (as the Call of World Can't Wait emphasizes: "That which you do not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept"). If you don't fight something, you don't forge the means for fighting it—for resisting it and building massive political opposition—and you are much further behind in being able to fight not only that outrage but the ones which are coming behind it and for which it is preparing the ground. And a major part of the dynamic these days is this: What was yesterday's outrage becomes today's institutionalized and codified reality. This dynamic is very, very bad and poses very serious problems on many different levels—on the level of the mass movement and mass resistance, and on the level of organized political forces, and yes, definitely, on the level of vanguard leadership. For anybody with progressive sentiments, and certainly anybody with a revolutionary orientation, if this is not giving you nightmares, there is something very wrong.

        So we (and by "we" I mean not just our Party but the broader movement and broader forces of opposition) have to come from way behind on this, and very urgently—in a very telescoped way and on different levels and in different dimensions at one and the same time: We have to develop resistance to the repression while learning how to not just survive the repression that will come anyway (and, in some aspects, may even be heightened in response to resistance) but also to forge the means for advancing politically and in an overall sense in the face of this heightening repression and in the face of the shifting ground.

        In terms of our Party and in the most fundamental terms, it is going to take the highest level of application of our scientific world outlook and methodology to be able to rise to this challenge. We are way behind on this, and there are no easy answers to it. And the dialectical relations are very difficult to handle correctly, particularly the dialectical relation between taking risks politically and practically in order to get into a position to better deal with the repression, vs. what you lose, or might lose, by taking such risks. This is an extremely intense contradiction—a very acute and very, very daunting challenge. And this has to be fought through on the level of forging policies and approaches for the mass movement and for the vanguard in different dimensions.

        When they are gutting habeas corpus and codifying torture, when they actually now have brought legal charges of treason against someone—I am referring to someone who is an Islamic fundamentalist nutcase, but they're charging him with treason for making videotapes in support of Jihad against America—think of the implications of that. And they always do things like this, to the degree they can, with people they think will be—and in some cases may actually be—the least defensible, in order to scare everybody away and to turn everybody off from rising to oppose this. I hope everybody is taking note not just of the ongoing rantings of Ann Coulter and David Horowitz and that ilk about treason, but also of the comment by Gary Bauer who, after seeing the October 4th World Can't Wait ad in the New York Times, said: If that's not treason, I don't know what is.28 Well, if an ad like that, opposing torture and other crimes against humanity of the Bush regime—if that is denounced as treason, think about the implications of that. And Gary Bauer is not a minor figure. He might not be right in the inner core of the ruling class, at this time, but if so he's at most only a couple of rungs away.

        We have to take all this very seriously. If we don't yet know how to deal with all this, we'd better make leap after leap in developing the ability to do so, with the necessary sense of urgency and through the dialectical back and forth between practice and theory in this regard. We must not allow a situation to unfold that will just foster further demoralization among the masses, especially basic masses, who are already inclined, in large numbers, to say: "I told you, you can't do anything. Anytime you try to do anything, they'll just come and wipe out the organizations and the leaders." I don't want to see that again. And I don't want to see people have to conclude that you can't build mass resistance, let alone a revolutionary movement, because they'll just come and devastate this with repression. This is not just some subjective thing—"I don't want to see this"—this has to do with what we are all about, with the fundamental needs and highest interests of the masses of people and ultimately of humanity—as communists we cannot allow this to happen. And, to invoke again and give particular emphasis to that Dylan line: "Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late."

        As has been seen in the history of the communist movement on an international level, in the experience of socialist states in relation to the overall worldwide revolutionary struggle, and in the experience in particular countries: repeatedly there have been situations where heightened possibilities and potential openings for advance, perhaps for great qualitative advance, often, or even generally, go hand in hand with greatly heightened dangers and the prospect of profound losses and setbacks. This is what the Soviet Union faced in the context of World War 2 and in relation to the question of advancing, or not, the international communist movement and the international revolutionary struggle. It's what China faced at the juncture where, in the late 1960s and early '70s, the Soviet Union was seriously threatening China with attack, perhaps even with nuclear weapons.

        What can get posed at such critical junctures is not just greatly heightened dangers in some abstract or general sense, but the risk of losing everything, at least for a certain period of time. Being able to—or developing in the midst of intensifying contradictions the ability to—forge, and to continue forging in new circumstances, the means to handle these contradictions correctly, and well, is of decisive, strategic, and at times even world-historic importance. And, without overstating things, this is one of those times.

        Approaching Revolution, and Winning, in a Serious Way

        The other thing that I have said we don't know how to do is, when the time comes, be able to win. We don't know how to get over the first hump of seizing power through a mass revolutionary upsurge. To put it bluntly and somewhat crudely, to emphasize the reality people face: Those who rule the U.S.—and much of the world—are some powerful nasty motherfuckers who have an ideological solid core that doesn't give a fuck about killing millions of people, is firmly convinced that it represents everything good in the world and that any opposition to it, especially of any essential or fundamental nature, represents a concentration of evil in the world and needs to be stamped out. We should reflect on that very seriously.

        Recently, Rumsfeld and others in and around the Bush regime have been making an analogy which, in immediate terms, they are applying to Islamic fundamentalists. They speak of how, a century ago, at the beginning of the 20th century, this guy Lenin wrote this pamphlet What Is To Be Done?; and, they say, "If we had known everything this would lead to, through the course of that century, wouldn't we have moved to stamp that out right then and there?" Well, on the surface—and in the main aspect now—they are making an analogy to Islamic fundamentalists today (bin Laden and others), but they are also making a general point. And if we don't listen and take heed of the broader point they are making, well… Bush couldn't get that saying right, but we can render it a little differently: If they tell you once, and if you don't listen, shame on you. And if they tell you a bunch of times and you still don't listen, then you have no right to be calling yourself a vanguard or anything like that. You have no right to step out before people and say, follow us.

        We have to take up the question and approach the question of winning in a very serious and not in an infantile way, and not in a way which makes it even easier for this kind of concentrated power of reaction to crush any attempt to bring a new world into being. Not long ago a very important statement was published in Revolution newspaper, "Some Crucial Points of Revolutionary Orientation—in Opposition to Infantile Posturing and Distortions of Revolution." This was both a matter of necessity—it was necessary to clear up some confusion that had been created—and a matter of seizing freedom out of this necessity to put forward before people a serious and scientific presentation of what this revolution is about and how in fundamental terms it has to be gone about.

        This statement is worth reading here, in its entirety.

        "Revolution is a very serious matter and must be approached in a serious and scientific way, and not through subjective and individualistic expressions of frustration, posturing and acts which run counter to the development of a mass revolutionary movement which is aimed at—and which must be characterized by means that are fundamentally consistent with and serve to bring into being—a radically different and far better world. Revolution, and in particular communist revolution, is and can only be the act of masses of people, organized and led to carry out increasingly conscious struggle to abolish, and advance humanity beyond, all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression.

        "A bedrock, scientific understanding which must underlie the development of such a revolutionary movement is that [and here this statement quotes from the first of the Three Main Points that are run regularly in Revolution]:

        "The whole system we now live under is based on exploitation—here and all over the world. It is completely worthless and no basic change for the better can come about until this system is overthrown.

        "And that:

        "In a country like the U.S., the revolutionary overthrow of this system can only be achieved once there is a major, qualitative change in the nature of the objective situation, such that society as a whole is in the grip of a profound crisis, owing fundamentally to the nature and workings of the system itself, and along with that there is the emergence of a revolutionary people, numbering in the millions and millions, conscious of the need for revolutionary change and determined to fight for it. In this struggle for revolutionary change, the revolutionary people and those who lead them will be confronted by the violent repressive force of the machinery of the state which embodies and enforces the existing system of exploitation and oppression; and in order for the revolutionary struggle to succeed, it will need to meet and defeat that violent repressive force of the old, exploitative and oppressive order."

        I am going to continue reading this statement, but people could very well benefit from studying this over many times to see how things are said and how they are not said, and the ways in which attention is paid to how fundamental principles are put forth while at the same time infantile posturing is avoided—and not only infantile posturing, but other ways in which the enemy can actually be aided, by stating things in a way that does not conform to what is actually intended and what will actually advance the struggle.

        This statement goes on:

        "Before the development of a revolutionary situation—and as the key to working toward the development of a revolutionary people, in a country like the U.S.—those who see the need for and wish to contribute to a revolution must focus their efforts on raising the political and ideological consciousness of masses of people and building massive political resistance to the main ways in which, at any given time, the exploitative and oppressive nature of this system is concentrated in the policies and actions of the ruling class and its institutions and agencies—striving through all this to enable growing numbers of people to grasp both the need and the possibility for revolution when the necessary conditions have been brought into being, as a result of the unfolding of the contradictions of the system itself as well as the political, and ideological, work of revolutionaries.

        "In the absence of a revolutionary situation—and in opposition to the revolutionary orientation and revolutionary political and ideological work that is actually needed—the initiation of, or the advocacy of, isolated acts of violence, by individuals or small groups, divorced from masses of people and attempting to substitute for a revolutionary movement of masses of people, is very wrong and extremely harmful. Even—or especially—if this is done in the name of 'revolution,' it will work against, and in fact do serious damage to, the development of an actual revolutionary movement of masses of people, as well as to the building of political resistance against the outrages and injustices of this system even before there is a revolutionary situation. It will aid the extremely repressive forces of the existing system in their moves to isolate, attack and crush those, both revolutionary forces and broader forces of political opposition, who are working to build mass political resistance and to achieve significant, and even profound, social change through the politically-conscious activity and initiative of masses of people."

        Again, I would seriously recommend that people study this over and over again to see how the contradictions were handled on all different kinds of levels. 

        Now, in previous talks I've spoken about two tracks in relation to winning, in relation to the seizure of power when there is the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people of millions.  In light of what I've just read (which was the whole of "Some Crucial Points of Revolutionary Orientation—in Opposition to Infantile Posturing and Distortions of Revolution"), and with that as a template, if you will, or a foundation—and from a strategic, not immediate, standpoint—we should understand the role and the dialectical relation of these two tracks. These are separate tracks, and only with a qualitative change in the situation (as spoken to in what I just read from "Some Crucial Points") can there be a merging of the two tracks. Until that point, they can only correctly be developed, and have to be developed, separately.

        The first track, which is the main focus and content of things now, is political, ideological, and organizational work, guided by the strategic orientation of united front under the leadership of the proletariat, having in view and politically preparing for the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people on a mass scale. This is what it means to "hasten while awaiting" the development of a revolutionary situation.

        The second track refers to and is in essence developing the theory and strategic orientation to be able to deal with the situation and be able to win when the two tracks can and should be merged—with a qualitative change in the objective political terrain, with the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people (as I have spoken to that here and as is set forth in a concentrated way in "Some Crucial Points"). What is appropriate now in this regard is attention to the realm of theory and strategic thinking and understanding, learning in a deep and all-sided way from experience of different kinds. There is a need to study all these different kinds of experience and for it to be synthesized from a correct strategic perspective—all in order to accumulate knowledge to deepen theoretical understanding and strategic conception.

        If either one of these tracks is ignored or not correctly dealt with, then the possibility for revolution will be thrown away even if the objective conditions for revolution should come into being. And it will not just be "oops, the chance was missed." It will be a terrible debacle and disaster for not just the organized forces of revolution but for millions of people and a betrayal of what communists are supposed to be about and work toward and contribute to, in terms of the transformation of the whole world.

        Nobody can guarantee anybody the emergence of a revolutionary situation, correctly understood, at any given time. We're not fortune tellers, and we're not sellers of some sort of bromide that cures all diseases—we're not religious hucksters, charlatans, and opportunists. And no one can guarantee that, even if you get the most favorable situation possible under a given set of circumstances, you are going to win. But if all this is not approached with all the seriousness that has been emphasized, if it is taken up irresponsibly and without a clear sense of what should and should not be done, and what is correct and appropriate and what is highly incorrect and inappropriate, then the name of communists is not deserved, the name of vanguard is a bitter irony at best.

        * * * * *


        The essential challenge that we face, not just in a general and historical sense, but very urgently—the question that is posed, not only in an overall strategic sense but also immediately and acutely—is one of being the vanguard of the future, or at best the residue of the past. And the dimensions and the stakes of this are constantly increasing.

        This applies to our Party. It involves the question of being, in a sense, real, concentrated expressions of the emancipators of humanity and leaders of the emancipators of humanity. And the same challenge applies on the international level to the communist movement and in terms of the internationalist responsibilities of communists.

        Are we going to go down as a residue of the past and another disappointment and in fact another arrow in the back of the masses of people? Or, without any guarantees of victory in any particular set of circumstances but with strategic objectives and a sweeping view in mind, are we going to rise to the challenge of being, together with our comrades throughout the world, the vanguard of the future?


        1. The audio files of the 7 Talks, along with the Q&A and Concluding Remarks for those talks, are available for listening and downloading at and [back]

        2. Views on Socialism and Communism: A Radically New Kind of State, A Radically Different and Far Greater Vision of Freedom and The Basis, the Goals, and the Methods of the Communist Revolution are drawn from a talk given by Chairman Bob Avakian to a group of Party members and supporters in 2005. Both works are available online at [back]

        3. See, for example, "The New Situation and the Great Challenges," a talk given by Bob Avakian in the latter part of 2001. The text of the talk, first published in Revolutionary Worker [now Revolution] #1143, March 17, 2002, is available online at [back]

        4. "Islam, Terror and the Second Nuclear Age" by Noah Feldman, in the Oct. 29, 2006 issue of the New York Times Magazine. [back]

        5. Here, along with—and as an illustration of—the basic methodological point he is emphasizing, Bob Avakian is referring to the analysis put forward by the RCP during the 1980s, and particularly in the early part of that decade, that the intensifying contradictions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union would erupt into all-out warfare between them (and their respective blocs and allies) unless this war were prevented by revolution in large and/or strategic enough parts of the world. For a discussion of this by the RCP, including a criticism of the methodological errors involved, see Notes on Political Economy (Chicago: RCP Publications, 2000), available online at [back]

        6. For further discussion of these questions—Iran, Israel, and the U.S. and the role of nuclear weapons—see recent articles in Revolution newspaper ( For example, "Bald-Faced Lies and Bogus Pretexts: Bush Threatens War Against Iran" in issue #79; "Hidden U.S. Plans for War on Iran: Imminent Danger… And Strategic Stakes," #59; "Bush Regime in the Middle East: Global Ambitions, Murderous Logic & the Danger of Regional War," #56. [back]

        7. Pat Tillman was a professional football player who, after September 11, left the Arizona Cardinals to join the U.S. military. His brother was also in the U.S. military. Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan—by "friendly fire" from U.S. forces, as it turned out—yet U.S. military and government officials kept trying to cover this up and deceive people, including Tillman's family, about what actually happened. Tillman was played up as a big national war hero, but as his family continued to dig for the real story of what happened to him, they became more and more alienated and angry because of the lies and deception they kept running into. And they have become increasingly critical not only of how the military dealt with Pat Tillman and his death but of the military and the government more generally, and of the Iraq war specifically. [back]

        8. The title of this talk is "Communism and Religion: Getting Up and Getting Free—Making Revolution to Change the Real World, Not Relying on 'Things Unseen'"; this talk and others of the 7 Talks are available online at and [back]

        9. For example, the articles "Outline of Views on the Historical Experience of the International Communist Movement and the Lessons for Today" and "Some Notes on the Military and Diplomatic History of WW2" in Revolution Issue 49, June 1981 (out of print). [back]

        10. Raymond Lotta with Frank Shannon, America in Decline (Chicago: Banner Press, 1984). [back]

        11. Stephen Kinzer, All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003). [back]

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

        13. The Set the Record Straight project is aimed at combating the widespread lies and slanders about the experience of socialism in the Soviet Union and China and at critically examining that experience from a scientific standpoint—to help draw important lessons from both the mainly positive aspect of that experience but also the very real shortcomings and errors, and to popularize this among as broad an audience as possible, including through forums and debates with people putting forward different and opposing viewpoints. An important speech by Raymond Lotta—"Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be a Far Better World"—and other material from the Set the Record Straight project are available at the project's website, The project can be contacted at [back]

        14. The article by Ron Suskind, titled "Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush," appeared in the Oct. 17, 2004 issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Suskind quotes a senior Bush aide who tells him, ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'' [back]

        15. The point from Marx, summarized here, about shopkeepers and democratic intellectuals is found in Marx's essay The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. The fuller statement by Marx is:

        “… one must not form the narrow-minded notion that the petite bourgeoisie, on principle, wishes to enforce an egoistic class interest. Rather, it believes that the special conditions of its emancipation are the general conditions within the frame of which alone modern society can be saved and the class struggle avoided. Just as little must one imagine that the democratic representatives are indeed all shopkeepers or enthusiastic champions of shopkeepers. According to their education and their individual position they may be as far apart as heaven from earth. What makes them representatives of the petite bourgeoisie is the fact that in their minds they do not get beyond the limits which the latter do not get beyond in life, that they are consequently driven, theoretically, to the same problems and solutions to which material interest and social position drive the latter practically. This is, in general, the relationship between the political and literary representatives of a class and the class they represent… ." (Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Moscow: Progress Publishers, pp. 40-41, emphasis in original) [back]

        16. This passage from The German Ideology was cited in the article "On Empire—Revolutionary Communism or 'Communism' Without Revolution?" in A World to Win magazine, issue #32, 2006. This article provides important analysis of and polemics against the basic worldview and political positions found in the books Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 2000) and Multitude (New York: Penguin Press, 2004) by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. [back]

        17. K. Venu was an erstwhile "Maoist" in India who, at a certain point, with changes in the Soviet Union beginning with Gorbachev and with the Tiananmen Square events in China in the late 1980s, began to view as essentially negative the historical experience of socialism in the 20th century, not only in the Soviet Union but in China as well. Venu retreated into a position which, in the final analysis, amounted to upholding bourgeois democracy as the highest objective to be striven for—obscuring the fact that this bourgeois democracy is in fact a form of bourgeois dictatorship and that the socialist state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, makes possible not only a much broader and deeper democracy for the masses of people, but even more fundamentally that this state is essential for, and provides the vehicles for, the advance of communism, worldwide, with the abolition of the division of society into classes, and thereby the elimination of the need for a state of any kind.

        The polemic against K. Venu, titled "Democracy: More Than Ever We Can and Must Do Better Than That," is included in Bob Avakian's book Phony Communism Is Dead… Long Live Real Communism! (Chicago: RCP Publications, 2004) and originally appeared in A World to Win magazine #17, 1992. The polemic is available online at [back]

        18. In a number of talks and writings, Bob Avakian analyzes the relations at the top of U.S. society—as well as the relations between various contending forces "at the top" and social bases at various levels of society—in terms of a "pyramid." This analysis can be found, for example, in the DVD of the talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About (available at See also the articles "The Pyramid of Power and the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down" and "The Center—Can It Hold? The Pyramid as Two Ladders," available online at [back]

        19. Jeff Cohen, Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media (Sausalito, CA: PoliPoint Press, 2006) [back]

        20. See Revolution articles on the Military Commissions Act, online at "The Torture Bill: Compromising Your Way to Fascism" (issue #63); "Facts About the Military Commissions Act (Torture Law)" (#64); "Interview with Bill Goodman, Center for Constitutional Rights—The New Military Commissions Act: "It is a dangerous moment for all of us" (#65). [back]

        21. The "Not In Our Name" Statement of Conscience, signed by a large number of prominent people in various fields, as well as thousands of others, was originally published as a paid ad in the New York Times on September 19, 2002. This statement, and the new Statement of Conscience opposing the Bush government's domestic and international agenda, is available online at [back]

        22. In a number of works, including the book Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy (Insight Press, 2005), Bob Avakian speaks to this concept of being--or going to the brink of being--"drawn and quartered," in developing and leading a revolutionary movement and the new socialist society that will be brought into being through revolution. This is linked to the concept of "solid core, with a lot of elasticity," which Bob Avakian puts forward as a basic guiding principle for the revolutionary struggle and for socialist society, and for those who lead in this process. See, for example, in the Observations book, "Bob Avakian in a Discussion with Comrades on Epistemology: On Knowing and Changing the World," pp. 43-64, especially p. 64; and "Intoxicated with the Truth," pp. 68-73, including footnote 2 on p. 68. [back]

        23. Willie “Mobile” Shaw was a member of the RCP. He grew up in and lived his whole life in the Nickerson Gardens Housing Projects in Watts, Los Angeles; after working with the revolutionaries there for a period of time, he joined the Party. The hardship of his life conditions led to his having a serious illness, and he died on November 24, 2005, due to complications following surgery. See the pamphlet Statement by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, on the Occasion of the Death of Willie “Mobile” Shaw, available online at [back]

        24. [FOOTNOTE BY THE AUTHOR] In the context of this statement by Goldberg, as well as for more general and fundamental reasons, it is important to keep in mind that, contrary to the way in which it is often, even generally, presented in this society, ideology does not necessarily mean an instrumentalist approach to "organizing reality" in pursuit of desired ends, which bears little or no relation to how reality actually is. Communist ideology is definitely a worldview and set of principles to live by, on the one hand; and at the same time it is, in fundamental terms, in accordance with reality and its motion and development, and is a means for scientifically engaging reality. This is why we say that communist ideology is both partisan—it stands with and for a definite side among the contending social forces in the world, the side of proletarian revolution and the advance to communism—and it is objective: it seeks an objective, scientific understanding of reality, in order to transform it in accordance with the advance to communism, and since that advance is objectively possible and its possibility is expressed in the way the fundamental contradictions in human society are tending, on a world scale, there is no need for communists to distort reality, or contort it, to make it fit their aims and objectives—and, on the contrary, any such distortion and contortion will actually work against the advance to communism. Of course, it has not always been the case that communists have acted in accordance with this fundamental truth—there have been marked tendencies in the history of the communist movement to fall into adopting various forms of "political truths"—in other words, stating as truths things which are in reality not true but which seem convenient at the time (an approach Lenin identified philosophically and criticized as "Truth as an organizing principle" or "organizing experience"). But the fact remains that, as a matter of basic principle, communism as a worldview and method rejects such instrumentalist approaches and recognizes the fundamental epistemological principle that, as I have put it in another discussion: "Everything that is actually true is good for the proletariat, all truths can help us get to communism." (See "Bob Avakian in a Discussion with Comrades on Epistemology: On Knowing and Changing the World," in Bob Avakian, Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy, Insight Press, 2005.) [back]

        25. Strategic Questions was a talk by Bob Avakian in the mid-1990s, and selections from it were published in the Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution) in issues 881 and 884-893 (November 1996 through February 1997) and in issues 1176-1178 (November 24 through December 8, 2002). These selections can also be found online at [back]

        26. Great Objectives and Grand Strategy is a talk given by Bob Avakian at the end of the 1990s. [back]

        27. Reaching for the Heights and Flying Without a Safety Net is a talk given by Bob Avakian in 2002. Excerpts from the talk appeared in Revolutionary Worker #1195-1210 (April 20-August 17, 2003) and are available online at [back]

        28. For more on the treason indictment and Bauer's remark, see "The Federal Treason Indictment: Threatening Extreme Punishment for Public Speeches," Revolution #66 (Oct. 22, 2006), online at [back]


      • ARTICLE:

        Amarillo, Texas: Medication Abortion Nationwide on the Chopping Block

        Note to readers: Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights had an emergency Webinar on Sunday, March 19, on what is at stake in the fight around the potential banning of mifepristone. Be sure to keep checking the Rise Up website and stay tuned at for further updates.

        Austin, Texas: IWD 2023, International Women's Day Sit-In for Abortion Rights in the Texas State Capitol Rotunda.


        March 8, 2023. International Women's Day Sit-In for Abortion Rights in the Texas State Capitol Rotunda.    Photo: AP

        On Wednesday, March 15, a federal district judge in Amarillo heard arguments in a lawsuit that aims for a nationwide ban on mifepristone. Mifepristone is the most widely used, safe and effective drug used in medication abortions—the majority of all abortions—and it is now on the chopping block. (The lawsuit was initiated by the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, an anti-abortion coalition, against the Food and Drug Administration [FDA], the federal agency that tests and approves prescription medications.)1

        And this is not just any judge—Matthew Kacsmaryk is himself a hardcore Christian fascist whose entire career has been focused on stripping women and LGBTQ people of their fundamental rights, including same-sex marriage, transgender rights, abortion, and birth control. (Learn more about Kacsmaryk here.) So in spite of the weak and dishonest arguments the Alliance is putting forward, there is a very strong possibility that Kacsmaryk will rule completely, or at least partially, in their favor.

        Here’s how confident the fascists are: they are already trying to get a preliminary injunction so that mifepristone will be banned immediately, that is, before the trial is conducted and the verdict issued. Wednesday’s hearing was to discuss this motion.

        Kacsmaryk attempted to keep this hearing secret to avoid press and protests. In the end, a small number of reporters and public were allowed in. Their reports indicate that Kacsmaryk seemed to take the arguments for a preliminary injunction very seriously, while also exploring possible legal barriers to granting it.

        Women with bloody pants and "blood" running down steps, Mifepristone stays.


        Mifepristone Is Overwhelmingly Safe; It’s the Christian Fascists That Endanger Women

        The core argument of the suit is the claim that nearly 23 years ago the FDA rushed mifepristone through the testing and approval process. The Alliance claims that the drug is unsafe and approval should be withdrawn… to protect women! At the hearing, an Alliance attorney asked: “How many women must die or come close to death before the FDA takes mifepristone off the market?”

        This is some cynical, lying BS!

        First of all, clinical trials, with 2,100 women using mifepristone, began six years before it was approved. This was the beginning of a long testing process more rigorous than most other drugs.

        Second, since the approval, this drug has been used by about five million women. In that time the FDA reports 28 deaths “associated with” (not necessarily caused by) mifepristone—one death for every 179,000 abortions! By comparison, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the U.S. maternal mortality rate is 32.9 per 100,000 live births. So giving birth is roughly 50 times more dangerous than mifepristone. And the FDA also reports a very low rate of serious side effects.2

        The real “danger” the fascists are concerned with is that currently, medication abortion enables women to have some control over whether, when and with whom they will have children, even in states that ban abortion. This motivation is underscored by the fact that 22 Republi-fascist state attorneys general filed a brief supporting the Alliance suit, arguing (along with “safety” concerns and other bogus arguments) that the national availability of mifepristone makes it hard for them to maintain a watertight ban on abortion in their states.

        And the real danger to women is not mifepristone—it is the relentless campaign of Christian fascist forces to strip women of control of their own lives and reduce them to second-class citizens.

        A decision on the motion for a preliminary injunction could come any day. Even if Kacsmaryk rejects that motion, he may very well still rule in favor of banning mifepristone permanently. An attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights summed up that this “would amount to a nationwide ban on medication abortion, and patients who seek this care would not be able to get this care from any pharmacy, or any prescriber or any provider.”

        More Attacks Barreling Down the Pipeline

        But as bad as that would be, this is far from the only attack on abortion rights right now.

        On March 17, Wyoming banned all medication abortions. And on March 19, a separate bill went into effect making doctors liable for felony charges for performing clinical abortions. In Texas, a proposed bill would not only ban medication abortions, but would require internet service providers to block websites providing information about medication abortions.

        An extremely disturbing trend is attempts in a number of states to equate abortion of a fetus with murder of a human being. At least one bill recently introduced in South Carolina would impose sentences of 30 years or even the death penalty on women for having abortions. According to the Guardian, at least four other states—Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky—are considering bills that would propose homicide or other criminal charges against women seeking abortions. In most of these states homicide can be punishable by death, but it is not clear yet if any or all of these bills treat abortion as a death penalty offense.

        To be clear, none of these bills has passed so far, and it is possible that none will in the short run. At this time, these bills remain controversial among the Christian fascists. But the very fact that these bills are being proposed and debated is an indication of what direction things are headed.

        Seattle, RU4AR, protest about threat to Mifepristone, February 25, 2023.


        Seattle, RU4AR, February 25, 2023.    Photo: RU4AR_Seattle

        Another pathway for equating abortion with murder—and punishing people accordingly—is through lawsuits. In Texas, powerful Christian fascists (including the former Texas solicitor general) are representing and in other ways backing a woman’s ex-husband in filing a “wrongful death” lawsuit for his ex-wife’s medication abortion. He is suing two of her friends for giving her advice about abortions, as well as another woman who provided the medication. The ex-husband is demanding a million dollars from each of them, and the lawsuit refers to those three women and his ex-wife as “murderers” (or similar terms) 28 times.

        Whether or not this suit succeeds, the intimidation effect of suits like this—dragging people into court, forcing them to hire attorneys, defaming them publicly—is huge. The effect is to terrorize anyone seeking, or even thinking about, an abortion, and to isolate them from friends and medical personnel who are now subject to being sued as well.

        “Forcing Women to Have Children Against Their Will Is a Form of Enslavement… We Need REVOLUTION”

        Responding to this escalation in the war on abortion rights, Sunsara Taylor (a follower of Bob Avakian and key co-initiator of Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights), said the following:

        A system that allows Christian fascist theocrats to capture the Supreme Court, overturn women's fundamental right to abortion, and go on to further restrict, shame and punish women's access to abortion—on top of all the other ways that women are oppressed, demeaned and degraded—is completely illegitimate. Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement!

        No one should accept this, and we do not have to. Through a real revolution that overthrows this system, we can bring about a radically new society that not only immediately guarantees the right to abortion and birth control, but is working to bring into being a society, and ultimately a world, free of all forms of slavery, all exploitation and oppression based on class, race, sex and gender, and all relations in which one part of humanity oppresses another. This revolution is not only urgently needed and possible—right now, because of the way that long-established norms and rights like that to abortion are increasingly being shattered and society is being ripped apart—this revolution is more possible than it has been in many years.

        But only if we fight for it. Now is the time for everyone who cares about women and girls and justice overall to lift your sights to this revolution, to learn about it and the leadership we have for it in Bob Avakian, and to spread this to others. We must do this as we unite with all who can be united from different perspectives to stand up now and fight this escalating assault on women's right to abortion and their very humanity.

        Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement

        Legal Abortion on Demand and Without Apology!

        Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!



        1. The suit also aims to end the use of misoprostol—the follow-up medication in mifepristone abortions. [back]

        2. The Alliance tries to make a big deal out of “cramping” and “bleeding,” but these are natural results of the termination of any pregnancy as the woman’s body expels the fetal tissue. [back]

      • ARTICLE:

        Biden Drills for Oil in Pristine Alaskan Wilderness: An Environmental Disaster

        Sections of Environmental Movement Can't Let Go of Him As “Climate Leader”

        Donald Trump notoriously said some years back that if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York City, his core fascist supporters would not even blink, they would still be behind him. The equivalent for Joe Biden would be if he took a big club and went up to the Arctic and clubbed a baby seal to death. Well, Biden has just done much worse than that. And a host of leaders of the “environmental movement” continue to proclaim their loyalty and slavishly plead with Biden to be a “climate leader”—as the capitalist-imperialist system he represents and presides over escalates its war on nature.

        Biden: I could club a polar bear cub in the Arctic, and these “Environmentalists” would still support me.


        Sections of the environmental movement can‘t let go of Biden as “Climate Leader.”   

        Is this an exaggeration? Not at all. Let’s get into it.

        Willow Project: Unmitigated Assault on Nature

        On March 13, the Biden administration gave its approval to the Willow Project. ConocoPhillips, a large U.S. oil company, will be allowed to drill, with about 200 wells, on federal land in pristine Alaskan wilderness that holds 600 million gallons of oil. This project will add carbon emissions to the atmosphere equal to opening up 69 new coal-fired power plants. To bring out the oil will take gravel roads, hundreds of miles of ice roads, and will disrupt and potentially threaten the health and livelihoods of Native people who live in the area.

        Map showing location of new oil drilling in Alaska


        Location of the Willow oil drilling project in Alaska’s Western Arctic, which the Biden administration approved March 13.    AP photo

        When the oil produced by the Willow Project is burned, it will cause what has been called a “carbon bomb”—it will accelerate the heating up of the whole planet at a time when scientists are urgently calling for “keeping the oil in the ground.“1 Meanwhile the Arctic is already warming from climate change four times faster than the rest of the planet—and this will make it warm even faster. Keep in mind that the U.S remains the world's largest producer of both oil and natural gas!

        It is a crime to run roads and build oil wells on the territory of endangered Arctic species, and this will kill animals. It’s a crime to keep drilling and burning more and more fossil fuels when climate scientists have made it clear that the warming earth demands that this has to STOP. And on top of this is the world-class hypocrisy, the bullshit, of Biden’s own promises when he was courting environmental support for his 2020 campaign against Trump: “no more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.” Biden's approval of new oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness will also help legitimize new oil drilling by other countries—”don't tell us to cut back when you're doing this.”

        Several prominent environmental organizations have issued protests and joined together in a lawsuit to block the Willow project.2 But a number of major and influential environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Sierra Club, have at the same time upheld Biden, and continue to strongly support him.

        They Know the Science but Politically Act in Willful Disregard

        The leaders of environmental organizations like these are well informed about the reality of what has actually been done to the environment and the climate—and not just by the climate-denying Republicans like Trump, but by Biden, and by Obama and the Democratic Party in power before them. They are fully aware that greenhouse gas emissions (carbon and methane that trap heat in the atmosphere) have climbed under Democrats as well as Republicans, and that this is driving the temperature of the planet up, and up.

        These environmental organizations know that international conference after international conference has failed to produce even plans close to what is needed to stop this; that it is the U.S. that has historically put more carbon into the atmosphere than any other country (even if China is now putting in more each year). They well know that the much-touted Biden “climate plan” which passed Congress last year is not going to put an end to burning fossil fuels or keeping these fuels in the ground. And they know this basic conclusion of climate science: that the oil must stay in the ground!

        Alaska oil drilling in ocean


        A test drilling off the Alaska coast.      Photo: ConocoPhillips via AP

        These environmental groups are up on the intensifying climate emergency with the threat to biodiversity, the destruction of life on the planet by this system. They know that the ice in the Arctic is melting—and that this and other changes could have extreme consequences for climate and the environment. 

        But despite all these facts that they know and publicize, they cravenly cling to Biden, and promote false and deadly hope among the many people they influence.

        A joint statement by a number of major groups condemns the Willow project and then makes this apology for and plea to Biden: “President Biden can still deliver another huge climate and biodiversity victory by saying no to this project. He should put the health of local people before the profits of corporations. He should always be a global leader in taking real and enduring climate action.”3 Are you fucking kidding?!?

        Again, these people are NOT ignorant. And this is part of why it is so shameful and disgusting that even after Biden has done the Democratic Party equivalent with regard to the environment of Trump's shooting someone in cold blood on Fifth Avenue and keeping his support, they continue to cling to Biden as a global climate leader. They offer no alternative to the insane fascist Republicans except to hide in the tent of the other wing of the U.S. capitalist-imperialist ruling class, the Democrats.

        BAsics 3:12 quotation by Bob Avakian


        Fronting for Biden's 2022 Climate Act Greases the Skids for Disarming People

        A development leading up to and shaping the current moment is the “Biden Climate Bill,” officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act that was passed in the late summer of 2022. This received great hosannahs from the same organizations we are writing about here. They hailed it as a monumental and historic victory against climate change. It wasn’t.

        We strongly urge everyone to read the in-depth analysis by Raymond Lotta and the Environment Writers Group about this legislation on here. As this article summarizes:

        When the Biden climate act is analyzed and measured against 1) the enormity of the problem of global warming caused by the use of fossil fuels; 2) the outsize role that the U.S. has historically played, and continues to play, in heating up the planet; 3) the scale and speed of measures needed to actually cope with this accelerating crisis; and 4) what is not only necessary but actually possible on the basis of a revolution, and a radically new and different socialist state power and economy as set forth in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian—it becomes clear that this legislation falls massively and obscenely short of what is needed. Worse, it actually prolongs the dependency of the U.S. economy on fossil fuels.

        In plain words, this climate legislation that is considered Biden's crowning environmental achievement is part of the problem of global warming, not the solution. [Emphasis added]

        What is covered up and what these environmental forces are unwilling to come to grips with—although it is staring them in the face—is that it is this capitalist-imperialist system itself that is giving rise to accelerating environmental catastrophe, and to the deep divisions and antagonisms within the U.S. and the world.

        Polar bear with two young bears


        Polar bear with young    Photo: ANWR

        A Time of Potentially Unprecedented Catastrophe... but Also a Rare Time When Revolution Becomes More Possible

        The environment is under intense and naked and brutal assault from both the Democrats and the Republicans, the two ruling-class parties in the U.S.

        As for other, major, international developments, Biden and the Democrats have spearheaded the U.S./NATO role in the proxy inter-imperialist war between NATO and Russia, being fought out over Ukraine. This war is not only a meat grinder for the people of Ukraine. It is also being used to throw out environmental constraints and to justify jacking up U.S. fossil fuel production. This decision approving new oil drilling on federal land was made in a bellicose political atmosphere in which the Biden administration has called for ramping up oil production to weaken Russia and replenish oil supplies disrupted by the war.

        And increasingly looming on the horizon as the fighting ratchets up in Ukraine is the danger of nuclear war—the other threat, along with the environmental crisis, in which the very existence of humanity and the planet are at stake. And BOTH these threats to humanity and the planet are spawned by this entire system which must be opposed and stopped.

        If people think that in confronting and acting on the environmental emergency—as well as the multi-sided crisis humanity faces today—the only choice is Trump or Biden, then that is REALLY a catastrophe. But the reality is that this is NOT the only choice. We actually CAN bring about a radically different and far better world through revolution, and this shines through the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian.

        And this is not a remote and distant prospect. The world is being torn asunder. The accelerating environmental crisis is one more expression of how extreme things are getting on this planet, one more major expression of the fact that this capitalist-imperialist system MUST be swept off the face of the planet, and a far better one put in its place.

        BAsics 1-31 long English


        Click here for PDF poster: Vertical || Horizontal   

        See also:

        Bob Avakian: Free Yourself from the GTF! The Great Tautological Fallacy



        1. “In doing so, Biden is ignoring the concerns of the International Energy Agency and the world’s leading climate scientists, who argue we cannot carry on drilling if we want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. He also ignored the online petition signed by over three million people and a viral #StopWillow TikTok campaign.” From “‘Read my lips’: Biden blows up campaign pledge to approve Willow ‘carbon bomb’ in the Arctic,” March 14, 2023, Andy Rowell, Oil Change International. [back]

        2. The lawsuit is headed up by EarthJustice. [back]

        3. The groups below signed the joint statement cited in the text:

        Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic
        Alaska Wilderness League
        Trustees for Alaska
        Friends of the Earth
        Conservation Lands Foundation
        Environment America
        Defenders of Wildlife
        League of Conservation Voters
        Northern Alaska Environment Center<
        Sierra Club
        The Wilderness Society
        Evergreen Action
        Chesapeake Climate Action Network
        Greenpeace USA

        The full statement is here. [back]

      • ARTICLE:

        An Existential Crisis Erupts in Zionist, Apartheid Israel

        Netanyahu photoshopped into Hitler pose


        A major crisis has engulfed the country of Israel. It erupted in response to moves by the government, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu and dominated by Jewish fundamentalist and other Jewish fascists, to disempower the Israeli Supreme Court. The Zionist state of Israel has always been illegitimate, built on the blood, bones, land and homes of the Palestinian people, and an enforcer of western, especially U.S., imperialism. And now, fascists in power in Israel and their base in Israeli society are hell-bent on removing what they see as an intolerable obstacle to radically tearing up the norms that have cohered Israeli society since its inception.

        Powerful forces in the Israeli political, economic, and military establishments have condemned this move in the most explicit terms. The chief justice of Israel's Supreme Court called the proposed changes a "fatal blow to democracy." Israel's attorney general said it would give the government "almost unrestrained power" and "weaken constitutional protection over ... human rights."  Isaac Herzog, Israel’s President (a ceremonial but significant position in Israel), is warning that “Israel is in the throes of a profound crisis. Anyone who thinks that a real civil war, of human life, is a line that we will not reach has no idea. The abyss is within touching distance.”

        And hundreds of thousands of Israelis (overwhelmingly Jewish people) have been engaged in determined protest against these moves.

        The crisis in Israel, accurately understood, exposes the irreconcilability of a profound contradiction at the core of that country: the attempt to define Israel as both a democratic state and a Jewish state built literally on the blood and bones of the Palestinian people.

        Bob Avakian on the Existential Crisis Facing Israel 
        from the Q&A sessions for the film "Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution"
        Watch, Share.

        And importantly, although beyond the scope of this article, the intense conflict within Israeli society is erupting in the larger context of rapidly intensifying economic and military global and regional challenges to Israel’s longtime sponsor, U.S. capitalism-imperialism. Israel plays a uniquely tightly interwoven role in relation to this intensifying conflict. Escalating challenges to U.S. domination globally (from Russia and China) and in the Middle East (from Iran and aligned forces) are creating stresses, strains and conflict in the “special relationship” between Israel and the U.S.

        Jewish Fascists Target the Supreme Court

        The event that triggered the current crisis is a move by Netanyahu to fundamentally disempower the Israeli Supreme Court. Netanyahu himself is facing criminal charges of corruption. But whatever Netanyahu’s personal opportunist agenda, he stands as the front man for a coalition hell-bent on disempowering Israel’s Supreme Court.

        For decades, the Israeli Supreme Court has served to arbitrate intense conflicts between secular and Jewish fundamentalist agendas in Israeli society. Concessions to diversity and enlightenment for Jewish Israelis have been largely made through rulings by Israel’s Supreme Court. Those include limited mandates for secular education; formal legal equality for women (within a highly misogynist society); a measure of gay rights; and defined legal status for “civil unions” that exist in unequal parallel to religious marriages.

        To be clear, the Israeli Supreme Court, as it has been, is an institution enforcing Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people (and other minorities in Israel). While imposing very occasional and limited constraints on extralegal seizure of Palestinian property, it has allowed the systematic expansion of legal seizures of Palestinian homes throughout the West Bank, rubber-stamping the seizure of Palestinian homes and farms and businesses under the most illegitimate pretexts. It has enabled systematic terror against Palestinian villages, and the building of a massive wall that serves to encircle and isolate Palestinians in the West Bank in what are effectively not-very-low security prisons. Israel’s Supreme Court rulings have legalized dehumanizing and degrading checkpoints that Palestinians are subject to while overtly entitling Jewish Israelis’ freedom to pass through these checkpoints unhindered. It has upheld the routine kidnapping by authorities of Palestinians without formal criminal charges, including children, and their detention and torture for years. (See the “Legal Status” section of the Human Rights Watch report “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution”).

        On July 8, 2021, Israel’s Supreme Court, rejected challenges to something called the Basic Law: Israel—The Nation State of the Jewish People. That law, passed in 2018, broke major new ground in explicitly declaring Israel a Jewish state, with no ambiguity as to whether it was a state with anything like equal rights for all people, or even all citizens. That law declares: “The exercise of the right to national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish People.”

        And yet, for all that, the Jewish fundamentalists find the Supreme Court, in its long-existing form and role, to be intolerable! For the Jewish fascists, any concessions or even optics of concessions to diversity, formal legal equality for women, LGBT rights and minimal and highly truncated integration of Palestinians into Israeli economics, culture and politics are suicidal to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

        The changes in law proposed by the Netanyahu coalition would mandate that only a unanimous decision of all 15 justices on the Israeli Supreme Court could strike down legislation. This would instantly enable Netanyahu’s one-vote majority in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, (they hold 61 seats, the opposition holds 60) to pass even more extreme legislation without meaningful legal review.

        Key Government Figure Blurts Out Genocidal Agenda

        Palestine, February 27, 2023, a Palestinian man walks between scorched cars in a scrapyard, in the town of Huwwara.


        A Palestinian man walks between scorched cars in a scrapyard, in the town of Huwwara.    Photo: AP

        The agenda of the Jewish fascists is exemplified by statements and actions by Bezalel Smotrich, a powerful top official in the Netanyahu government. Smotrich has called for the imposition of Jewish religious law (as interpreted by fundamentalist fascists) as the law of the land. In case the implications aren’t clear, he was recently recorded describing himself, without irony, as a “fascist homophobe.”

        And Smotrich told Palestinian and other non-Jewish members of Israel’s parliament: “[I]t’s a mistake that [Israel’s first Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion didn’t finish the job and didn’t throw you out in 1948.” (See the special issue of Revolution on Israel for the story of the terrorist, murderous expulsion of the Palestinian people from Israel in the Nakba—catastrophe—by Zionists in 1948). Other leading Jewish fascists have demanded laws against the marriage of Jews and Palestinians (in the tradition of and influenced by laws that outlawed marriage between Black and white people in much of the U.S. for most of its history).

        These Jewish fascists in power are deeply and openly connected to the “settlements” in the illegally occupied West Bank of Palestine that are essentially bases for continuous terrorist attacks on Palestinians. Smotrich himself instigated a 17-hour reign of destruction, terror and death on February 26 against the Palestinian village of Huwwara, calling for it to be “wiped out.” First, he “liked” a tweet by a local Israeli official that called for people “to wipe out the village of Huwara today.” When asked why, he told a reporter, “Because I think the village of Huwara needs to be wiped out. I think the State of Israel should do it.” (See previous coverage at A Rabid, Racist, Israeli Regime Escalates Terror Against Palestinians, and State-Sponsored Settler Terror and Death Against Palestinians in Huwwara: An Israeli Kristallnacht).

        Opposition to Netanyahu and Mass Outrage

        Protester wearing a Netanyahu mask outside the Israeli Supreme Court


        A protester wearing a rubber mask depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrates in front of the Supreme Court.    Photo: AP

        As this article is being posted, huge clashes are taking place between police and anti-Netanyahu protesters. On and off for three weeks now protesters have shut down Israel’s Highway 20 (the Ayalon Highway). That major freeway connects Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest (and most diverse, cosmopolitan) city with major cities to the north and south along Israel’s coastline. The impact is analogous to protests shutting down I-95 on the East Coast in and out of New York City or I-5 in and out of LA on the West Coast.

        Of particular note has been the role of army reservists in protests. Much of Israel’s military power relies on civilian reservists who are called up as needed, allowing the country to mobilize a vastly disproportionately large army compared to the country’s relatively small Jewish population. To put it concisely: Israel can’t wage wars like the ones it periodically wages against the Palestinian people and other countries in the region without reliable reservists. The newspaper Haaretz reported that “In recent weeks, as opposition to the government and the judicial overhaul intensified, a growing number of reservists—from the elite fighter pilot squad to members of intelligence units, military doctors and general reservists—have been threatening they will refuse to report to duty in protest of the current Netanyahu government’s attempts to undermine democratic rule in Israel.” (See box: “The Israeli Army Is a Genocidal Machine of Torture and Death”).

        Overwhelmingly, even where they raise specific legitimate demands (for secular education, legal rights for women and LGBT people, and against some of the most egregious assaults on Palestinians), the protests are straightjacketed by the terms of upholding a Zionist state when the very “logic” and immorality of Zionism have brought things to this point.

        The current crisis in Israel, and in particular the intersection of the fascist and theocratic assault on basic rights for Jewish Israelis with the ferocious escalation of genocidal terror against Palestinians is provoking soul-searching among sections of Jewish people in Israel, and Jewish people around the world including the U.S. It should serve as evidence, for those with the integrity and courage to confront this, that the Zionist state of Israel is not in the interests of the vast majority of not only the oppressed Palestinian people in Israel but the Jewish people there as well.

        This is a moment when this provocative challenge from Bob Avakian needs to be injected into societal discourse on Israel:

        After the Holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel.
        (BAsics 5:12—available as a printable poster and a sharable social media graphic).

        The rulers of this country (both the Republi-fascist and Democratic Party factions) brag about their “special relationship” with Israel. That means people in this country have a special responsibility to expose and oppose Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, Zionism, and the U.S. sponsorship of the Zionist regime.

        But that’s not all. Revolutions happen, generally, country by country. But the need and basis for revolution is ultimately defined by what is going on in the world as a whole. An actual revolution in the U.S. would be a global game-changing event. That revolution would sever forever the “special relationship” between the U.S. and allied and client regimes around the world, including Israel. And it would pose a whole other model of how the world could be that would set new terms for people everywhere.

        The Israeli Army Is a Genocidal Machine of Torture and Death

        Poster of U.S. ... Israel crimes around the world.


        Click image to expand.    Poster:

        The Israeli military establishment in general, as it is, has sharp contradictions with the Jewish fundamentalist fascists. Most fundamentalists refuse to serve in the Israeli army. This is not because they oppose the mission of the Israeli army. Nor are they pacifists (in fact large numbers of them are organized into violent paramilitary fascist “settler” gangs that carry out constant and increasing violence against Palestinians).

        But Jewish fundamentalists, like their Islamic and Christian “brethren,” will not interact with women in any form resembling acknowledging women as equals. Women are subject to the draft in Israel and some 40 percent of the Israeli military is made up of women in various roles. And openly gay men serve in the Israeli army. Both of these things are seen as an abomination by the fundamentalists. The refusal, on the part of most Jewish fundamentalists, to serve in the military (they are routinely given exemptions on religious grounds, and requirements that they “serve” in civilian activities are routinely ignored) is a problem for the formal military, and a source of great resentment on the part of more secular or liberal Jews.

        The involvement of members of the military, and statements by high military officials supporting some of the demands of anti-Netanyahu protests, have been widely greeted by protesters. An editorial in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz noted (unfortunately with too much accuracy) that all political trends in Israel see the Israeli military “as an institution that unifies all sectors of society, a symbol borne out of the collective ashes of the Holocaust and its cautionary message that Jews must be able to defend themselves.”

        In reality, the Israeli army is the main force imposing conditions of suffering and death on the Palestinian people, and increasingly facilitating settler terror. And operatives of different branches of the Israeli military have carried out thousands of assassinations of Palestinians and others around the world.

        Here are just two examples that demonstrate the actual nature and role of the Israeli military around the world, from one year, 1982:

        • Under the direction of the U.S., in 1982 and 1983 the Christian fundamentalist butcher Ríos Montt imposed a reign of genocidal terror against indigenous communities in Guatemala. This was characterized by beheadings, mass rape, slaughter of pregnant women, and the abduction of Mayan children who were sold or given as slaves to functionaries of the fascist Guatemalan regime. The New York Times reported that at that time, Israel was the “principal supplier of arms” to U.S. aligned brutal oppressive regimes carrying out widespread war crimes in crushing popular-based oppositional guerrilla movements in Central America including not only Guatemala but Honduras and El Salvador. And the Times noted that when [then] Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. prompted Israel to do more in Guatemala, “By all accounts, Israel needed no prompting.”
        • In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. During the period when Israeli military forces controlled much of Lebanon, they surrounded and sealed off the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut while their Lebanese allies massacred between 750 and 3,500 people. Israeli military and allied forces were to occupy southern Lebanon for 18 years.

        And Israel maintains a nuclear force of at least 100 weapons with which it terrorizes the region, including posing an ongoing threat to Iran.

        The Israeli military cannot be a force for positive change, let alone the necessary overthrow of Zionism in Israel. It is a machine of oppression, terror, torture and death.

      • ARTICLE:

        A fierce, joyous, revolutionary IWD breaks through the clouds on Venice Beach

        Video by Fabian Lewkowicz/ @SantaMonicaCloseup

        On March 11, 2023 about 65 people came together on Venice Beach for an International Women’s Day march and rally that was joyous, fierce and revolutionary. We kicked off the day with a powerful rally at the Venice Boardwalk. We chanted together, heard speakers from Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights (RU4AR), from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC), and from the Revcoms. We also had song and poetry, with members of the Revolution Club performing “Cancion Sin Miedo” and a poem written by a Revcom “Because...”.

         The RU4AR speaker gave people a sense of the urgency of taking on the attacks on abortion rights, and what RU4AR is working on and bringing to people, challenging the idea that we are safe being in states like California, while others tell women to stay calm. The speakers from the IEC brought to life the courageous struggle of the women in Iran, the demand that all the political prisoners be freed. They told us of the horrible repression women and girls are facing, but also shined a light to the possibility of a different world. They led us in a chant: “Women, Life, Freedom! Zan, Zendegi, Azadi!”

        Annie Day with the Revcoms brought to people what they don't know and have not felt – that we don't have to live this way. What a new society would look and feel like, the possibility to make a revolution, and what we have to shake off to make that revolution a reality. People from the stage to the crowd were in tears, inspired and unleashed. The rally was powerful and moving, people who came feeling alone especially right now, were welded together as a force, beginning with the rally and through the course of the day, moving together to impact with these slogans.

        One big part of the day was the dance and song written by the Revcoms, “Battle cry to Break the Chains.” We began to learn the impact of this when we performed it before IWD with flash mobs.  We learned what a simple yet powerful way this was for people to connect to the sentiments the dance expresses – going from watching it, being moved by it, to being able to easily learn the steps and to step into a collective expression on the spot. The dance expresses the slogan “Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution.” It gives people a way to unleash it and call forth this in others. People were pulling out their phones filming, with the biggest smiles on their faces. Every time we performed people joined it on the spot. People donated and some people came up wanting to sign up and get involved. We are continuing to learn the potential of this song and dance in impacting, and we definitely saw this at the march. People who came to the rally were unleashed with this, learning it, moving together, impacting together and really coming out of their shells.

        Dance: Battle Cry to Break the Chains! International Women's Day 2023 in L.A.

        With Farsi subtitles: Dance: Battle Cry to Break the Chains! International Women's Day 2023 in L.A.

        We marched through Venice boardwalk where you see booty shorts with things like “Mike’s Bitch” & “Carlos’ Ass” and agitated “Women are NOT Bitches, Hoes, punching bags, Women are FULL Human beings!” This inspired someone to come up and lead us in this chant: “I’m not your bitch! I’m not your hoe! You better know, you better know!” This person and others brought so much strength, rage and determination. Young women, trans youth, and men brought a lot of fury through dance and marching. We chanted “Patriarchy. Capitalism, gotta get rid of the whole damn system” and had cheers coming from the large outdoor cafes, women high fiving each other, men grinning cheek to cheek at each other, couples where the women made them stop and listen, men expressing how strong it was.

        The different people who all came together were very important. People we had met over the course of the last 2 weeks, who had seen this message at the beach, in their school, at the farmers’ markets, women who had taken part in the green wave in Mexico and Chile.  All who came wanting to check it out and were very inspired by the whole thing. Nuri an Iranian women who had been imprisoned at the infamous Evin prison during the time of the Shah said “Yesterday was wonderful, it was really great. I forgot every bad thing and just recalled the good things when I was there. There was so much excitement and happiness in the faces of the many people who got the flyers, watched the dancing and music and heard the speeches, the different languages.”

        At the celebration it continued, with a program with Bob Avakian (BA) at the heart of it, we showed a clip from the BA Interviews where he talks about the BAsics 3:22 quote. People who had never encountered this had a chance to meet BA and the response was audible.  The kinds of discussions were very rich, with the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America opened up on a table, with discussions of what would a world without patriarchy look like? Why not revenge against rapists? Getting into the situation we are confronting, what is our strategy to change a situation where it all seems impossible to transform into something positive? Getting into questions of identity politics and how to deal with the ridiculous but dangerous charges of “cult” you will hear when you take this out.  It truly came through how revolutionary the whole day was, what kinds of questions people were provoked to ask and learn more. One person who we met this past week was in tears when we told them we have a strategy to make revolution and BA has written a constitution for that society after a revolution, they came because they were inspired by this, and was part of really rich discussions of that constitution and a future society.

        It was a very beautiful day, full of joy, determination and yes fury towards what is being done to half of humanity, and a lot of hope for what is possible through an actual revolution, people began to step into that future, with a different way to treat each other, being part of bringing this message to others, while themselves deepening their understanding.

      • ARTICLE:

        Because We Don't Have to Live This Way

        Editors’ note: This is the text of the speech by Annie Day, speaking for the revcoms, at the International Women’s Day event in Los Angeles, March 11, slightly edited.

        We don't have to live in a world where women and girls are beaten, brutalized, degraded, demeaned, hated and shamed… this world where women and girls are pimped and tricked, sold into sexual exploitation on an industrial scale... where LGBT people are demonized, despised and terrorized... where women and girls are forced to become mothers against their will—with NO choice, NO matter their conditions, hopes or dreams...

        We live this way now—not because of human nature or the nature of men—but because of a system of capitalism-imperialism that has the heavy chains of hundreds, and thousands, of years of patriarchal oppression woven into its every fiber.  This system has to be swept away… pulled up by the roots and overthrown through an actual revolution.

        This revolution is possible.  A revolution that shatters the rule of this system over society and brings into being a whole new system with an economy based on meeting the needs of the people, not the drive for profit rooted in the vicious exploitation of people, including women in sweatshops around the world… a whole new society moving to uproot the old, oppressive ways of thinking and acting… unleashing a struggle against the suffocating patriarchal gender roles in every sphere of society—including the dehumanizing of boys and misshaping of men... a world where no woman ever again feels terror at footsteps in the dark, where our relations of love and sex don't come with the danger of violence and force, where the rearing of the next generation is a collective responsibility and joy. 

        WE DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE THIS WAY and we are in a rare time when this revolution has become MORE possible.


        We are not in normal times—as bad as those were... and there is no turning back.  The oppressive rulers of this system are split in a way they haven’t been since the Civil War 150 years ago.  The fascists now in the halls of power, in the courts, and throughout society—they don’t believe in and are not playing by the rules of this system anymore—and they are determined to enforce their dark ages biblical future on society—taking away ANY right to abortion, birth control, gay marriage, trans rights and any rights for LGBT people… as part of their overall agenda of white supremacy, and fascist theocracy.  To enforce this, they are stealing elections, shredding the laws, and preparing for a one-sided civil war.

        The other section of the rulers, these mainstream imperialist Democrats, have no answer to any of this!  And anyway, they’re facing off with Russia and China in a way that could lead to World War 3. 

        These splits at the top are tearing apart the whole society. And this crisis could unravel their whole system... if we seize on this!

        This could, as the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian (BA) has said, lead to “something terrible, OR something truly emancipating.”... and this could come to a head sooner than you think... with a real fighting chance to take this system on, to defeat them through an actual revolution, and to free the planet from their death grip.


        But to not live this way we have to get serious and we have to get organized—the revcoms have a plan for how to make this revolution, a strategy. We have a blueprint for what could replace this system in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America written by Bob Avakian. And we have visionary and scientific leadership for this revolution—in BA, and the revcoms. 

        Now is the time to get with this revolution.

        It's time to stop looking up to the Cardi B's, Ice Spice's and Beyoncé's telling you your power lies in your ability to sell yourself, mimicking the misogyny of “bitch” this, “bitch” that, treating others like dogs on the terms of this dog-eat-dog system...

        It's time to stop following politicians and CEOs telling you that all we have to do is break the glass ceiling, and get more “girl bosses” atop an empire that depends on sucking the life out of women all over the world…

        It’s time to stop being afraid to say the word WOMAN… allowing ourselves to be divided by identities; stop canceling each other and instead canceling this whole system…

        It's time to stop swallowing your anger, turning it inwards… cutting yourself, starving yourself, reshaping your body parts to make you a more valuable commodity or hating yourself when you can't... it's time to raise your sights beyond yourself...

        It's time to get real and fight for something that really IS worth fighting for—something that could really make possible a whole new way.

        As BA has said,

        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.

        Look around you—we know we are not yet the numbers we need, but look at each other... see each other... feel each other. Coming together AS A FORCE, welded together AS A FORCE we can start to change things—we can start to change how people see what's possible, what's necessary, we can break through the feelings of despair and hopelessness and powerlessness. We can call forward the others... the angry ones... the impatient ones... and the revolutionary forces can grow from small to large. And believe me when I say that this system and those who rule it are terrified if we come together in this way... They want us to stay silent, obedient, acquiescent and sad... they do not want us to feel our power, our anger, our hope for a different world, or our fury...

        Now is the time to join the revolution... for everyone who hungers for a better world... who wants to see an end to the long night in which humanity has been divided into masters and slaves, and who wants to see a dawning of a new day for humanity.

        Break the Chains! Unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution. (call and response)


        Palm Card Front - BA Interview - local info (color)


      • ARTICLE:

        International Women’s Day 2023—United States

        Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!

        Capitalism and Patriarchy — You Can't End One Without Ending the Other

        Abortion On Demand and Without Apology 
        Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement

        Los Angeles

        On March 11, 2023 about 65 people came together on Venice Beach for an International Women’s Day march and rally that was joyous, fierce and revolutionary. We kicked off the day with a powerful rally at the Venice Boardwalk. We chanted together, heard speakers from Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights )RU4AR), from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC), and from the Revcoms. We also had song and poetry, with members of the revolution club performing “Cancion Sin Miedo” and a poem written by a revcom “Because...”.

        The RU4AR speaker gave people a sense of the urgency on the attacks on abortion rights, and what RU4AR is working on and bringing to people, challenging the idea that we are safe being in states like CA, while others tell women to stay calm. The speakers from the IEC brought to life the courageous struggle of the women in Iran, the demand that all the political prisoners be freed. They told us of the horrible repression women and girls are facing, but also shined a light to the possibility of a different world. They led us in a chant: “Women, Life, Freedom! Zan, Zendegi, Azadi!”

        Annie Day with the Revcoms brought to people what they don't know and have not felt – that we don't have to live this way. What a new society would look and feel like, the possibility to make a revolution, and what we have to shake off to make that revolution a reality. People from the stage to the crowd were in tears, inspired and unleashed. The rally was powerful and moving, people who came feeling alone especially right now, were welded together as a force, beginning with the rally and through the course of the day, moving together to impact with these slogans.

        Read more

        Video by Fabian Lewkowicz/ @SantaMonicaCloseup

        Chicago IWD Celebration, March 11:

        From the Revolution Club Chicago

        We were pleased that close to 40 people joined our celebration of International Women's Day at our organizing center on Chicago's southeast side. Most of the nearby storefronts are still empty and boarded up, having never recovered from the pandemic. But the storefront at 1875 E 71st Street, the Revolution Club Organizing Center, was definitely “live.”

        We had zip-tied the “Break All the Chains, Unleash the Fury of Women for Revolution” banner to the outside grate. New decorations inside included enlargements of photos from Wednesday's International Women's Day rally and march called by the club and photos of the “green wave” in Latin America. Rise Up for Abortion Rights brought a beautiful display. There was an array of “snacks from around the world.”

        Participants included at least a half dozen people who had never been to our center before and others who had maybe been there only once or twice. As they arrived, people from the neighborhood and other parts of the city loaded up their plates with snacks and took their seats.

        Read more

        Chicago, IWD 2023, watching video at Revolution Center.


        Chicago    Photo: @Revclubchi

        Chicago, Revolution Center, IWD 2023 event.


        Chicago    Photo: @revclubchi

        Downtown Chicago, International Women’s Day, March 8

        The poem “Because,” read by Annie Day, could be heard across the street as it blasted from the sound system catching people’s attention as the crowd gathered. The banner, “Break the Chains, Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution” framed the rally and led the march. There were large photos of women erupting in struggle in Iran, in Mexico, and in Latin America. Lots of green bandanas and stickers with “Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement.” A Rise Up for Abortion Rights contingent was there with banners “Legal Abortion Nationwide” and signs and a banner to free women imprisoned in El Salvador for the crime of a miscarriage.

        Read more

        Protesters marching


        Chicago, IWD 2023, protest goes to Walreens on State Street


        Chicago, IWD marchers protest Walgreens' refusal to distribute Mifepristone. Photo: Special to Revolution/   

        New York

        International Women's Day at Revolution Books, NYC
        From the staff of Revolution Books

        On March 11, Revolution Books (RB) hosted a defiant celebration of IWD. Some 40 people came to experience part or all of the program, with close to 20 staying for most of it.

        It was a diverse audience: several RiseUp4AbortionRights activists/organizers, and others concerned about the attack on abortion rights; several longtime friends of RB from Harlem; a photojournalist whose work has appeared in prominent publications; a Columbia University student; international visitors from Mexico, Colombia, Iran, and Brazil; some visiting activists from Atlanta who came to show their support; and others. The two emcees had never done this before but really rose to the occasion.

        Read more

        IWD 2023 - Outernational at Revolution Books, New York City


        Outernational gave a powerful performance of their song “Free Women” in English and in Spanish, with the band augmented by a singer and a musician from Colombia.    

        IWD Rally at Columbia University

        On March 8, 2023, friends of Revolution Books NYC held a rally to celebrate International Women’s Day on the steps of Columbia’s main library in the center of campus.  A Columbia student and a Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights activist read poems, including one from Iran, to mark the day, and Revolution Books supporters gave voice to the revolutionary message of IWD 2023.

        New York - IWD 2023 - Columbia University


        Bay Area

        March 8 in the San Francisco Bay Area jumped off with a rally and speakout in the San Francisco Mission District.  In the evening, about 30 people joined in a celebration at Revolution Books hosted by the Revolution Club, with poets, a performance of an original song, videos of Annie Day presenting “Because,” and Bob Avakian on what it means to break all the chains.  It was serious and joyous, and a high point was everyone joining in to sing a version of the song “Bella Ciao”—dedicated to the women in Evin Prison in Iran.  Women political prisoners have videoed themselves singing “Bella Ciao” in Farsi after they were released from prison and have even recorded themselves singing the song inside the prison.  At the end of the event, people wrote and posted statements of defiance outside the bookstore.  And made plans to go to Los Angeles for the IWD protest on Saturday March 11.

        Young woman sings at the Bay Area IWD celebration, March 8, 2023.


        Bay Area IWD Celebration   

        UC Berkeley, IWD 2023, students make signs for celebration.


        UC Berkeley Students make signs for celebration. Photo: Special to   

        Cleveland, Ohio

        On March 11, a crew went out for International Women’s Day, holding street corner rallies around town.

        We had a large festive banner that read "Break the Chains, Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution,” and signs that read "Abortion on demand and without apology," "Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement,"  "Capitalism and Patriarchy-you can't end one without ending the other," and "We need a revolution, nothing less."

        We protested at a local Walgreens for their refusal to provide Mifepristone, at a fake clinic ("crisis pregnancy center"), and at a town square where we got lots of honks and raised fists. 

        Cleveland, IWD 2023, Break the Chains banner in front of drugstore.


        Cleveland    Photo: Revolution/

        Cleveland, IWD 2023, protesters stand in front of Walgreens.


        Cleveland    Photo: Revolution/


        Philadelphia, IWD 2023, march


        Philadelphia    Photo: @SamGoldman

        Demonstrations were organized around March 8 by Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights in a number of cities.  Look back for coverage of these demonstrations.

      • ARTICLE:

        International Women's Day 2023 Around the World


        Iranian Women Mark International Women’s Day with Protests in Half Dozen Cities 

        On March 8, in a half dozen or so cities, Iranian women and men marked International Women’s Day with protests in defiance of the Islamic regime’s bloody crackdown.  They called for freedom, women’s rights, and denounced the government’s response to the poisoning of thousands of schoolgirls.

        In west Tehran, women and men called for an end to attacks on women and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, chanting “Death to the dictator” (referring to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) and "Woman, life, freedom."  In eastern Tehran, security forces wielding tear gas and shotguns dispersed a group protesting discrimination against women.  

        There were also protests in Ahvaz in southern Iran, Rasht in the north, Karaj, and the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj and Saqqez.  In Rasht women shouted out, "Whether with hijab or without hijab, we’re moving toward the revolution."

        And on March 8, five girls in Tehran issued a 40-second video coinciding with IWD.  Dressed in loose fitting clothing and without headscarves, they danced in a public area (dancing in public is illegal in Iran) to the tune of Calm Down by Rema and Selena Gomez.  The video went viral and the authorities are reportedly trying to identify and perhaps arrest them.

        These actions demonstrate real courage in the face of a regime willing to violently attack opponents:  Between September 2022 and March 2023, the regime arrested at least 3,953 women during protests according to human rights activists, and killed 66 women.

        Read more

        "Women, Life, Freedom" - Rasht, Iran, March 7, 2023

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        Iran: A group of women in Tehran with placards, banners and slogans, condemn gassing young women students

        Women Courageously Protest Taliban’s Ban on Female Education

        Since the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban came to power last year in Afghanistan, they’ve imposed one enslaving measure after another against women—banning them from schools after sixth grade and all university and higher education, from traveling without a male relative, from working with nongovernmental organizations (a major source of jobs and income which impacts 11.6 million women in Afghanistan) and more.

        Eighty percent of school-aged Afghan young women and girls—some 2.5 million people—are forced to remain out of school.  Afghan women are more and more imprisoned in their homes—where 95 percent of violence against women takes place—and legal protections for those fleeing domestic violence have largely vanished.

        Read more