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A Message to the Anti-war Demonstrators

What Will It Take?

What Will You Do?

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Guantanamo. . . “shock and awe”. . . “collateral damage”. . . Fallujah. . . Abu Ghraib. Behind the words stand the cities reduced to rubble, the bodies in the streets, the hooded prisoners, the kicked-down doors, and the children—crying in terror or silently watching the humiliation of their parents. All justified by outrageous lies.

The horror grinds on, every day.

Iraq cannot wait.

Iraq cannot wait for “pendulum swings.” Iraq cannot wait for possible resolutions to set “reasonable” deadlines for hypothetical timetables. Iraq cannot wait for the 2006 U.S. elections—especially (but not only) when the major Democrats all oppose withdrawal from Iraq, and some even support more troops being sent.

Nor will Bush be swayed simply by public opinion turning against him, or the war. Bush himself seems to believe he’s on a “mission from God” and the pack of neo-conservatives, Christian fascists and kluckers who surround him have demonstrated their intent to hold on to power. What do the 2000 elections tell us, after all, if not that?

Iraq—and the world—cannot wait. We cannot tolerate three more years of slaughter and lies and madness.

The war and occupation of Iraq is not going away. Indeed, it will almost certainly grow more intense in the weeks and months to come, with more Fallujahs and more Abu Ghraibs. All that is what has brought people back into the streets again, demonstrating against the war. This is important and good and necessary.

But the question we all have to face is this: how to act in a way that truly corresponds to the urgency and scale of the situation? People have said to us, “we’ve protested, we’ve voted, but what’s going to make a difference?”

The Bush Package

Before getting into that—and as part of answering it—let’s step back for a minute. Bush is not the first U.S. president to launch an imperialist war. Not by a long shot. Nor is he the first U.S. president to militarily occupy another country in the name of democracy, or to grease the way to war with one lie after another.

At the same time, the Bush regime has taken the “standard operating procedure” further. They’ve declared a new “doctrine” that gives them the right to invade another country without even the pretense of an “imminent threat.” They’ve claimed the right to hold a person without charges, indefinitely, merely because the president says the person may be a “terrorist”—and this has now been upheld by the courts. The Bush regime instituted, and in so many words, justified the widespread torture of prisoners of war.

If all this were the only outrage of the Bush regime, it would be enough to declare it illegitimate. But look as well at their callous and murderous racism in the face of Hurricane Katrina, coming on top of a whole history of antagonism to the rights of Black people and an unprecedented polarization of rich and poor. Look at how they have packed the courts, including the Supreme Court, with fascist judges. Look at their use of the state to support extreme fundamentalist Christian-ity. Look at the relentless attempts to deny women the right to control their own reproduction; look at the way they demonize gay people and deny them equal rights. Look at how Bush himself, as well as his administration, trumpets ignorance —suppressing findings on global warming, stopping stem cell reseearch, and declaring himself in favor of teaching “intelligent design.”

This is a whole package.

This package is the product of a system, imperialism. And even the “normal workings” of that system are a horror for the majority—the vast majority—of the people on this planet. A handful of highly developed capitalist countries violently subordinate whole peoples and nations to the relentless drive of profit, leaving starvation and misery in their wake while fighting among themselves for superiority. The war in Iraq is essentially an attempt by the U.S. to dominate the whole Gulf region and the Middle East beyond it—at terrible expense to the people there, and in competition with their rivals in Europe and Japan.

Bush himself represents a section of the imperialists in the U.S. which believes that the huge changes in society—the emergence of the U.S. as the sole superpower, the socio-economic turbulence of globalization, the changes in the way people think and relate to each other within the U.S. itself—make necessary radical changes in the way in which U.S. imperialism enforces its will in the world and is ruled at home. When Dick Cheney talked after 9/11 about a “new normalcy” lasting for a generation, he was talking about the kind of thing represented by the war in Iraq and a much more highly repressive—a fascist —form of rule domestically. They have made huge strides in this since 9/11, and they are continuing this, relentlessly. It’s not for nothing that people talk about not wanting to live in a “new Rome”—or that older generation European immigrants make analogies to Hitler.

Again, what we have here is a package, a whole direction that has to be repudiated and opposed. Bush (and his regime) is not the whole of what’s wrong with this system. Again, they are creatures of a system —responding to what they see as the underlying needs of that system as it faces uncertainty around the world and in its home base. And we should be clear as well that they are setting the terms for the whole ruling class and don’t face any serious opposition within the ruling class, whether around the war or repression (note that the Patriot Act was recently unani-mously renewed by the Senate). They are an extreme concentration of the system. They are not the whole of it—but what they represent is something ex-tremely vicious and dangerous and the whole direction must be repudiated.

The Bush regime must be driven from office.

Nothing less will do. Again, this is a whole package, a whole dynamic, and must be fought as such. That, and nothing short of that, is what will make a difference. And that is why you need to throw in with the effort to drive out the Bush regime—and in particular, the call for massive demonstrations around that demand on November 2.

Reversing the Dynamic

For some time now there has been a very bad dynamic going on. Millions of people have been deeply disturbed and outraged by all this, but they have not found a way to act.

But, as the Call for November 2 has put it, “silence and paralysis are not acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept.” And people have come forward now to pose a challenge to those who do see or sense the stakes. Again, from the Call:

“We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.”

This plan is visionary. It is bold. It is audacious. But here’s the main thing: it actually corresponds to the danger we face; and nothing else can unlock the potential energy among literally tens of millions of people that still remains dammed up. It can make a difference. Thus, in its boldness and audacity lies its strength.

Yes, it will be hard. The Bush crew will not go without a struggle. And the people who have to do this—in their millions—are going to have make big leaps in their level of organization and militance in order to do this. No way around that.

But there IS something to build on. For one thing, there is a network of activists and cores of people that have begun to take shape around this bold call. There is beginning organization. And there is the embryo of a new spirit that all this can mesh with and build on and make still more powerful. Cindy Sheehan’s brave protest in Crawford against the war in Iraq, in the face of personal and political attack, struck a chord and unleashed tens of thousands of people to take a stand. Millions of people found Bush’s outrageous inaction—and action—around Hurricane Katrina intolerable; it called into question anew his very legitimacy and raised huge questions about the whole history and structure of society. These people want—and need—more.

This is an opening, but that’s all it is—an opening—and it has to be seized upon—quickly!--and turned into something bigger. If not, these people—Bush and Cheney and Rove and the rest—will find the ways to recoup their position and reinforce their fascist agenda, and to suppress and take revenge on the opposition that does exist.

And What If We Succeed?

Some people say, no one has ever done this sort of thing before. Well, yeah. But if that were taken as the argument for what should or could be done at any time, then nothing new would ever come into being. There’s a lot of truth to the adage that necessity is the mother of invention—and with this much necessity staring us in the face we better be damn inventive and quit dwelling on what (supposedly) can’t be done. Right now even right-wing columnists openly worry about the current political terms “bursting open.” We who want progressive social change should be at least as keen to seize on the possibility and think big. As the Call for November 2 points out, “history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.”

And think about it: what if we succeed? What if we really do pull together and launch something new on November 2? What if people, through their united and diverse actions on that day, create a new dynamic in society, where there is a growing movement uncompromisingly demanding the Bush regime’s ouster and taking increasingly determined, mass action to bring that into being? What if people across a whole broad spectrum are able to unite in action and debate the future they do want, as they are struggling against the one that is being clamped down? What if there is a new ethos in society—one in which “the right side” of things responds with whip-like speed and sharpness when women are denied birth control, when radical professors come under fire, or when there is an obscenity like the exploitation of Terri Schiavo? We’re not talking about some big day that takes place in the same overall context—we’re talking about changing the context itself through mounting powerful outpourings of protest on November 2.

But again—let yourself think it—what if people succeed, in both launching this dynamic and then carrying it through? Even here, we should be sober. For one thing, there is still the larger battle to replace this whole system. And if the people do drive Bush from office, it is almost certain that the forces in the government, the military and society at large that share Bush’s agenda would be fighting like hell to reassert their position and their whole agenda. So, yes, in very important ways even getting rid of Bush would be only the beginning.

But what a beginning it would be! Three huge differences would stand out from today. First, an independent mass movement of the people would have inflicted a major political defeat against the vicious agenda now in command, with its major representative brought down and the whole ruling class in a scramble, quarreling among themselves. Second, there would be a politically energized and unleashed people, ready and able to take the struggle further and seize on the openings created. Yes, the struggle would get sharper—but for the first time it would actually be two-sided. And third, many more people would be actively debating a different future, and as part of that, checking out and coming over to a revolutionary communist understanding, program, and organization.

“Come Out of the Stands and Get Into the Game”

There is right now a tremendous amount of work to do to realize the immediate goal of truly setting in motion this dynamic. Even with beginning advances, the people are far from where they need to be on this. From here out, every day must count for the massive outpouring that must come on November 2, uniting all kinds of people to powerfully raise the slogan of “The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!”

For one thing: people need to change their lives, now, to make this happen. Put it this way: the fans have to get beyond cheering and booing, and come down out of the stands and onto the field to make sure the right team wins.

If you quit your job or left school to work for Howard Dean—even though his program fell far short of what you wanted—now is the time to sacrifice for something that you actually believe in!

If you hated the war and threw everything into getting Kerry elected—even though he supported the war—now is the time to work your hearts out for the things you actually support!

If you grow heartsick watching the footage from Katrina or the pictures from Abu Ghraib but tell yourself that “the most that I can do about it is to just try to do good in my own little corner”—think about what you’re saying! How can that be a response to torture, or to any of the other outrages that, not too long ago, you told yourself you’d never accept?!?

And to those of you who have taken up the challenge to end this war—going on the road with Cindy Sheehan, or taking on other forms of activity—by all means continue and intensify your efforts. But now is the time to link these efforts to November 2, throwing in all you have to make that day a powerful motive force in ending this war. To those of you who left your jobs and homes to go to New Orleans, or otherwise supported the people—yes, keep that up and intensify it, but do more as well—take that same spirit and energy and put it toward building resistance not only to that outrage but to this whole regime on November 2. Anything less will not cut it. And, again—one more time—think of what it would mean to succeed!

Tell The Truth

Above all, November 2 is based on the truth of what is needed. The truth about this war; the truth about this regime and how really dangerous it is; and the truth about what it will take to stop it. And to those who have begun to step forward to take up November 2, including many people new to political activity, remember this: at the beginning, truth is always in the hands of a minority; but if you persist in it—if you find the ways to deepen your understanding of it and connect it to people with conviction and imagination—you will be able to win people to understand it . . . and act on it.

And then, organize. Organize. Organ-ize. Build committees where you work, where you live, where you go to school. Hook up to the national website of World Can’t Wait. Reach out to people who’ve never acted before, and reach out to those already in organizations. Get out the call for November 2, everywhere you go.

Over the past few weeks, as those of us who support the RCP have sold Revolution, and as we and others have taken out the Call for November 2, many people have said that they think the mood is changing and that there are millions ready to act. We think that is true; the mood is changing. But someone has to bring the vision that can inspire those millions. Someone has to take responsibility. Someone has to change their life, determined to be part of making it all happen.

Be that someone.

To Musicians, Actors, Lecturers, Preachers, and Others in the Public Eye

You have an audience. Use your ability to reach a broad audience to fulfill a great need—to mobilize MILLIONS for November 2, 2005 to take a massive first step in a powerful movement to force Bush out.

When you are in front of a mike, on stage, on a podium, and on TV/radio talk shows, read this key section from the call “The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!”

“...Silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.”

“And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.”

“To that end, on November 2, the first anniversary of Bush’s ’re-election,’ we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: ’NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!’”

Get in touch with World Can’t Wait at worldcantwait.org


Religion, Morality ... Polarization, Repolarization

Two Solid Cores in Fundamental Opposition

by Bob Avakian

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

EDITORS NOTE: This is part of a series of excerpts on various subjects—drawn from conversations and discussions, as well as more formal talks, by Bob Avakian—which we will be running in this newspaper over the next period of time. This has been edited for publication, and subheads and footnotes have been adde

If you go back to what I was speaking to earlier, with the metaphor, or image, of the pyramid as two ladders,1 and you begin to see the ladders slide down and the center not holding them together at the top anymore, then you see more fully the relevance and importance of the comment by Hertzberg in The New Yorker,2 which I cited earlier—in effect: “Uh oh, now not only does the radical right have a lot more power, but this is an opening to the radical left”—because there is the whole prospect of the center’s not holding in the way it has been.

Now, it is crucial to grasp that a positive repolarization is not going to happen spontaneously: it depends to a tremendous degree on what we do, and how we understand—and act on an understanding of—reality. But, in fundamental terms, it is true that things can increasingly be posed in terms of two solid cores in opposition to each other, at opposite poles. Yes, there are and will be a number of other forces in the field. It’s like Lenin said: It is not a matter of two armies lining up, and one says, “we’re for socialism” while the other says, “we’re for imperialism.” There will be many gradations and complexities. But there will be, or can be, as this unfolds, two poles in fundamental opposition to each other: on the one hand, their solid core—the solid core of bourgeois rule now—with no elasticity; and, on the other hand, the solid core that is represented by communism and the communist outlook and method, as we must understand and apply it—a solid core with a lotof elasticity. And then, if things do go that way, there is going to be a fight—I’ll go back to Newt Gingrich and his comparison between the situation today and that leading into the Civil War in the U.S., in the middle of the 19th century3—there will be a fight to the finish, between those two poles and the forces they are able to rally around them.

Yet, again, the challenge this poses for us—which we must very clearly recognize and very seriously confront—is that everything will not just “fall in our lap” in a favorable way, Humpty Dumpty does not fall apart that way. What it emphasizes is the need for—and what we have to grapple with is the means for—a more favorable repolarization, not tailing in the wake of the present polarization, to say nothing of simply ignoring it in a Pollyannish kind of way—or dealing with it in a way that would amount to a pitiful and paltry excuse for communism, instead of actually grasping and applying the communist outlook and method in a living way, as I have been speaking to.


One of the things that is important in the statement that was put out by our Party right after the 2004 election (“The Will of the People Was NOT Expressed in This Election”4) is that it does speak to the need for repolarization, very correctly, and it raises the specific point that we need some “intervention” with these people who are under the sway of fanatical Christian fundamentalism, who (as that statement very accurately describes them) are seriously addicted to Armageddon fantasies. You go into bookstores, even mainstream bookstores, and you see these reactionary fundamentalist “rapture” books by people like Tim LaHaye (whose wife, Beverly LaHaye, is the founder of Concerned Women for America, one of these right-wing Christian Fascist groups—the “mothers in the fatherland”5 Nazi type of thing). You have millions of people in the U.S. buying these books about the rapture. These people are indeed seriously addicted to Armageddon fantasies—and they live to a very significant degree in this self-contained, self-reinforcing world, which these books are also a big part of fostering and reinforcing. And, as our election statement says, there needs to be some serious intervention with these people. We need to actually organize some of this intervention—and be prepared for how tough it’s going to be, not only because of the nature of these forces and everything I’m saying about them, but also because the state is not on our side. The Christian Fascists may not actually have “god on their side” in reality, but they do have the state on their side in very significant ways.

We need youth in particular and people in general who are armed with a communist outlook going right up into these people’s strongholds—at their churches, and so on—leafletting them and engaging them in debate. We need all kinds of creative ways to engage these people. Not simply to curse at them—they need to be engaged and struggled with in an overall sense to confront things they have never confronted. They have a self-contained world, and I’m not naive about the prospects in the short term, but this needs to be done with strategic prospects and strategic considerations in mind. They need to be confronted with the reality that they are sealed off from. Many of them, not all certainly but many of them, live in suburbia and are actually rather well to do. It is wrong to think that these are all people who are poor and uneducated. Many of them are educated, in a certain way. You know, there is a book by Robert Kaplan, The Ends of the Earth, and one thing that really struck me and stayed with me from that book (although it is overall not a good book at all) is something that he cited having to do with Islamic fundamentalists: There is nothing more dangerous than education on a narrow foundation.For example, Mohammed Atta, who was apparently one of the main organizers of (and participant in) the September 11 attacks, was an engineering student. That is not to put down all engineering students as narrow-minded and backward, but there is something there, having to do with the truth that education on a narrow and a mechanical basis, on a narrow foundation, can be very dangerous. This applies to many of these Christian Fascists, who dwell in a largely self-contained world. As the author Mark Crispin Miller once put it: If you get your news only from Fox News and listen to Christian radio or whatever, you have about as much understanding of the world as people in the ninth century. Now that is hyperbole, but it speaks to something very real.


In connection with all this, there is a point I have been emphatically calling attention to for a decade or more: It is essential to go after the foundation of this reactionary religious fundamentalism and biblical literalism, this Christian Fascism. I have noticed that a number of people have commented in watching the DVD of my speech on revolution6: “Wow, I’m really surprised at the way he goes after religion, I didn’t know you could do that.” Well, it is possible to do this—and it is crucial to do it. Now, we shouldn’t go after this in an unthinking dogmatic way, but the point that I’ve been hammering at has to do with a key contradiction I have spoken to a number of times—the contradiction that these Christian Fascists are objectively caught up in—the contradiction between an insistence on a literalist interpretation of the Bible, the insistence that the Bible is, in every word and detail, the true word of God that must be believed and followed to the letter, with all that the Bible actually calls for —all that in contradiction to what most people in this society would consider just, decent, and even sane.

There is a very sharp contradiction in all that. In things like the book Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones and the recent talks I gave on religion,7 I have pointed to some examples of the horrors that are not simply described but are actually advocated, indeed insisted upon, by the “god” of the Bible and his representatives—things which are in fact praised and celebrated in the Bible: slavery; the mass raping of women and the murder and plunder of people who practice other religions; putting to death homosexuals and women who are accused of witchcraft; murdering women who cannot prove they are virgins when they are married; executing children who strike their parents or simply are rebellious against them; and bashing in the heads of babies among those peoples who have angered this “god.”

These things can be found throughout the Old Testament of the Bible in particular, including in the first five, so-called “Mosaic,” books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—as well as in the book of Joshua and so-called “Prophetic” books like Isaiah (for example, in Chapters 9 through 14 in Isaiah).

And here is another example, which was cited in the book Freethinkers, A History of American Secularism,by Susan Jacoby: In the second book of Kings, it tells how one time the prophet Elisa was mocked by some children in a place—and the “god” of the Bible, worshipped by Elisa, sent forth female bears to attack the children, ripping apart their flesh. Here is how the Bible describes it (in 2 Kings 2:23-24):

“He [Elisa] went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, `Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!’ When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.”

Now, of course, any decent person in today’s world would find this barbaric. But it is very important to recognize that these Christian Fascists actually insist on believing and accepting everything that is said in the Bible; and the fact is that there is nothing in the Bible, including the horrendous thing I just cited from “Second Kings” as well as the other atrocities to which I have referred, which, as a matter of principle, these Christian Fascists would not do. And we must understand, as well, that they are deadly serious about imposing a literalist interpretation of the Bible and of “biblically based law,” on society, if they can get into position to do so. The leaders and conscious political operatives among the Christian Fascists will and do have tactics, and even some sophistication and subtlety at times, when they feel that is useful; but, again, speaking in fundamental terms, there is nothing in the Bible that, in principle, they don’t intend to implement—including the kinds of horrendous atrocities I have mentioned here.

In this connection—and in case anyone does harbor the illusion that challenging people caught up in this and winning them away from it is going to be easy—I can refer to the experience that people in the RCYB (Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, the youth group led by the Party) had in taking out a Party statement around the movie The Passion of the Christ in New York: When people swept up in this Christian literalist fundamentalism who were going to that movie were confronted with this contradiction—between the horrors the Bible advocates and celebrates and what people today would be expected to regard as just and decent—a lot of those people said, “Well, if that’s what the Bible says, I guess that’s what we’ve got to do.” So we can’t think that just presenting this contradiction to people in sharp terms is going to instantly win them over or cause them to fundamentally call into question their religious fundamentalism. We have to keep hammering at this, and we do need some organized “intervention” of revolutionary youth and others to go out and, in an organized and systematic way, confront these people and challenge them—not simply or essentially in terms of why they voted for Bush, not in the framework of electoral politics and the splits within the ruling class as such, but in more fundamental terms about the very nature of society, and the kind of world we should want to live in, and what different values and morals have to do with that. And while there are ways in which we can and should unite with others, including progressive, thinking religious people, to challenge this literalist reactionary fundamentalism, there is also a great need for us to do this directly under our own banner because communists are the only ones who can fully take this on and fully present an alternative to it that is actually in the fundamental interests of the great majority of humanity.

There is a need to be taking this on, much more frontally and much more systematically, in the realm of propaganda generally, but also, yes, even in the realm of direct “intervention,” political intervention to challenge those who are presently caught up in, or significantly influenced by, this Christian Fascism. There is a need for taking on the question of morality and values—and exposing and countering the actual morality and values of this Christian fundamentalism in particular. There is a need to hit directly at the foundation of this, to hit at the faultline that lies within this Christian Fascist formation—the contradiction between a literal insistence on the Bible and what that would mean, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, what most people can consider decent and just in a modern society. There is still time to hit at that contradiction, that faultline, before they close it up. But we’d better recognize what’s at stake and what the urgency of this is.


There is also another dimension to this whole question of hitting at this Christian Fascist morality and its values—that is, hitting politically at the actual effect of implementing the morality and values these people are being organized around and are embracing, in opposition to the kind of morality and values that should be the determining and influencing and characteristic morality and values in a society and world that people should really want to live in. So there isn’t just the negative aspect of hitting at this faultline, hitting at the very foundation of the religious fundamentalist basis of their morality, but there is also bringing forward the positive alternative—bringing forward positively the kind of morality people should be won to and should gravitate to and take up.

This also has basically two dimensions, or two levels. First is our full communist morality—and that is the principal aspect and main thing—because, as I said just a minute ago, only that communist morality can fully address and pose an alternative to this fascist fundamentalist morality and values. We need to go back to things like Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones and draw out from there and popularize what communist morality is and why it corresponds to the fundamental needs and interests of the masses of people.

But there also is a need to unite people more broadly in bringing forward, popularizing, and struggling for a positive morality: Besides our full vision of communist morality, there is also a need for a kind of “united front progressive morality,” if you want to put it that way. This, too, needs to be popularized, and we need to unite with other people to popularize it, even while we are in no way holding back from, and in fact are vigorously bringing forward, our full communist view of morality. Our Party’s spokespeople, our “statespeople,” our comrades and friends who have some history and knowledge in this sphere have to be mobilized to take up this sphere and, as a key part of this, to work in a good way with many progressive forces in waging this battle, both to oppose the Christian Fascists and to bring forward a positive alternative.

In a discussion with some progressive religious people, one of the things I said to them was: “You have to take the position, as a basic dividing line stand, that the Bible should not be taken literally—or else you cannot fight these Christian Fascists. The fact is that if you take the Bible literally you will support, you will back, and you will get drawn into, horrors. This has been true throughout history, and it’s true right now. The Bible is not the literal word of God, and it cannot be taken as such.”

Actually, many of these progressive religious people are very knowledgeable—not only about the Bible and religion but about other things as well. But a problem is that they generally don’t know how to wield what they know most effectively and powerfully. For example, I watched someone with this progressive religious perspective on TV, on a panel with four Christian fundamentalists, and these fundamentalists kept bringing up the thing from the book of John (in the New Testament of the Bible) about how only through Jesus can you get to the father and get to heaven, and all that kind of stuff—and how, if you don’t take Jesus as your savior, the Bible says you will be condemned to eternal damnation. They kept insisting, “Don’t blame us, that’s what God says, look, it’s right in the Bible.” And this one guy, who was trying to oppose them from a progressive religious standpoint, was trying to say, “Haven’t you ever heard of historical criticism, don’t you know that this was inserted into the Bible after the time of Jesus?” No. They don’t know—and/or they don’t want to know—about that. They just have a viewpoint and agenda they want to push, and that’s it.

This progressive religious guy couldn’t get a word in edgewise. Well, people like him have important things to say, if the ability to say this can be wrenched out of situations and confrontations like this, and if they can be led to say it in effective and forceful ways.

A key aspect in all this is mobilizing—and, in the correct sense, leading—progressive religious people to join this battle much more fully and systematically, and in much greater dimension and numbers, and to wage it more consistently and thoroughly. These people objectively need leadership, orientation and direction—even to fight in the best way on terms that are essentially in line with their own views. Our objective cannot realistically be to win them all over to communism—that’s not going to happen en masse. For most of them it’s going to happen, if at all, somewhere down the road. But it isn’t necessary for them to be won to communism to play a very positive and very important role in this battle. But even to do that “on their own terms” they need us to be putting forward our full communist view of this and to be carrying out a healthy process of unity-struggle-unity with them, in relation to this crucial battle against Christian Fascism and reactionary religious fundamentalism in general, and in relation to the largest questions about the way the world is, why it is the way it is, and how there could be a radically different and far better world.


1. See “The Center—Can It Hold? The Pyramid as Two Ladders” in Revolution #4, May 29, 2005.

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2. See “The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era,” Revolutionary Worker #1274, April 10, 2005.

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3. See “The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era,” Revolutionary Worker #1274, April 10, 2005.

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4. The statement appeared in Revolutionary Worker #1258, Nov. 14, 2004.

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5. This is a reference to the book Mothers in the Fatherland, by Claudia Koonz. In this book Koonz examines how a number of women played prominent roles in organizing other women around the program of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s—in particular around the Nazi “ideal” of a woman as a breeder of her husband’s children and keeper of his home, and as an embodiment and bearer of religious tradition and training. This was captured in the Nazi slogan “Kinder, Kuche, Kirche” (Children, Kitchen, Church).

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6. Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About is available in VHS or DVD from Three Q Productions (threeqvideo.com).

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7. Bob Avakian, Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones: We Need Morality But Not Traditional Morality (New York: Banner Press, 1999); “God Doesn’t Exist—And We Need Liberation Without Gods” and a second talk, “Christianity and Society—the Old Testament and the New Testament, Resistance and Revolution,” are available online as audio downloads at bobavakian.net.

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Bush’s Plan for New Orleans: Turning Devastation into Profit

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

September 15, New Orleans: Surrounded by death and destruction, George W. Bush addressed the nation with his plan to rebuild New Orleans—a big plan to cash in on the misery, suffering and death brought by hurricane Katrina.

First, he took a moment to channel Bill Clinton, and feel the pain of “fellow Americans calling out for food and water.” And he even acknowledged “a history of [note, history, not present day reality of] racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America.”

Bush slandered the people who worked together to survive—those who foraged for food and survival supplies, the people—including many Black youth—who kept tens of thousands of people alive. He had the unbelievable gall to call them “criminals who had no mercy”—clueless to the glaring irony that he himself and the class he fronts for are the ones who saw the people of New Orleans as not worth the investment it would have taken to secure the city from a Level 5 Hurricane, and who are now lining up to profit off the misery of the people in the region.

Greed and God

Louisiana congressman Richard Baker revealed how these truly merciless criminals really think, when he said: “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.”

These same religious conservatives preach that the poor should be “personally accountable” for their plight —covering up the reality of centuries of oppression and exploitation. (And let’s not forget it was Clinton who wiped out “welfare as we know it.”)

“Homeland Security”

Bush bragged that the government was “beginning to bring in mobile homes and trailers for temporary use,” and bringing in a few doctors. Meanwhile, thousands of people are living in horrific conditions, getting deadlines to move out but with nowhere to go. Very ominouslyñand this says something about what the rulers are preparing to do—Bush announced that “the Department of Homeland Security is registering evacuees who are now in shelters, churches, or private homes.”

So now hundreds of thousands of displaced, hungry, angry Black and poor people will be added to the lists of randomly selected Middle Easterners, Muslims, political dissidents, and other “threats to U.S. security”—to be “registered” for possible surveillance, roundups, and detention.

This comes on top of knocking down laws that supposedly restrained the use of the US military to enforce laws on US soil, the widespread deployment of the National Guard, and statements like the one from Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force, that the armed forces were going to turn New Orleans into a “little Somalia.”

Leaner, Meaner, Crueler, and More Profitable

Bush said: “It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity. It is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty, and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region.”

Two things need to be said about this: Bullshit. And, bullshit.

First, entrepreneurship doesn’t do any of that. It promotes petty, competitive, look out for number one, dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest. The solution to the problem is not petty entrepreneurs competing with each other to get rich. In fact, in the midst of some of the most terrible conditions, we saw a glimmer of another way of people relating to each other. We saw people working together—not climbing on top of each other—to survive. As one elderly woman said, “Those looters are the only ones keeping us alive.” It is this kind of caring, cooperation, and creative initiative that Bush calls “criminals who had no mercy.”

Second, this entrepreneur thing is bullshit because Bush’s plan isn’t mainly about small time business. It’s about monopoly capital, like the corporations that are getting handed billion dollar contracts to “rebuild” the region, and who are busily and greedily getting rich “rebuilding” Iraq. (See “Pigs at the Trough,” page 4 in this issue.)

The actual picture that emerges from Bush’s plan is one of a stripped-down, leaner, meaner (in every sense) city, with zoning laws, minimum wage protections, environmental protection, and civil liberties blown away in a second hurricane of federal “help,” all in order to facilitate a restructuring of big capital to more ruthlessly and efficiently extract profits from the region.

Third World-Style “Development” Zone

The heart of this is Bush’s proposal for a “Gulf Opportunity Zone”—encompassing the disaster zones of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He said, “Within this zone, we should provide immediate incentives for job-creating investment: tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again.”

This is the same model used in Third World countries to attract blood-sucking corporations—by promising them the highest possible profits, no taxes, minimal government regulations (for things like environmental protection and worker safety), and the lowest possible wages. Rightwing think-tanks have advocated such zones for decades to draw the poor of the inner cities into a profitable sweatshop economy.

Federal rules for competitive bidding have already been tossed aside, so that corporations are getting contracts for massive, open-ended construction, clean-up and supply projects—with a “blank check” for budgets and profits. On Sep-tem-ber 8, Bush suspended the Bacon-Davis Act, the federal law that requires subsidized construction projects to pay “prevailing wage rates.” So already low wages in this region will be driven further down.

Their Plans...

While competing centers of capital fight over the details, a basic image is emerging of a “New Orleans theme-park” on the site of some of what was New Orleans, with troublesome housing projects and angry people dispersed, locked down, monitored by “homeland security,” and working for starvation wages.News reports of long lines of people applying for low wage jobs give a preview of the future in store for the people in Bush’s “recovery” vision.

Bush talked about a “determination to clear the ruins and build better than before”—but under the current system, “better” doesn’t mean a better life for the people, it means more profit sucked out of the people. And it means reinforcing and intensifying the oppression of Black people—locked at the very bottom of society for 400 years.

As columnist Paul Krugman wrote in the September 16th issue of the New York Times,

“It’s a given that the Bush administration, which tried to turn Iraq into a laboratory for conservative economic policies, will try the same thing on the Gulf Coast. The Herritage Foundation, which has surely been helping Karl Rove develop the adminstration’s recovery plan, has already publsiched a manifesto on post-Katrina policy. It calls for waivers on enviornmental rules, the elmination of capital gains taxes and the private ownership of public school buildings in the disaster areas. And if any of the people killed by Katrina, most of them poor, had a net worth of more than $1.5 million, Heritage wants to exempt their heirs from the estate tax.”

Instead of mobilizing vast numbers of people to donate their time, labor, and creativity to help—which would be done in a socialist society and has been done in socialist societies in response to natural disasters—this system starts from how to squeeze the most profit out of all this, seeing the hurricane as an act of god that wiped out troublesome public housing, and dispersed troublesome people whose slave, and proletarian ancestors built the city of New Orleans, and who worked at its hotels, restaurants, and other tourist attractions.

In the ruins and suffering, they can only see a giant opportunity to clear away obstacles that stand in the way of maximizing profit. How appropriate that Bush delivered his speech standing in front of a statue of former president Andrew Jackson, who was a slaveowner while he was president.

Katrina, and the official response, left millions suffering. And it brought forward millions of others straining to help. But capitalism can’t connect the desire and ability of people to help with the problem of rebuilding this region. Instead, the recovery effort itself is commanded, directed and twisted not by the needs of the people but by the demands of profit in the most cold, heartless, and intolerable ways.

Never Forgive, Never Forget

Things cannot go down like this. Already, the system has compounded the misery and suffering of Hurricane Katrina, and now they want to plunder and profit off all the destruction in ways that will make things even worse yet.

The uncaring, cold-blooded actions of this system in the wake of Katrina revealed a reality of an uncaring, cold-blooded system. We must never forgive and never forget that. Nor can we accept, or accommodate ourselves to, Bush’s plan to bulldoze away human beings to pave the way for restructured capital investment and unleashed greed.

The demands in the August 31 Statement of the Revolutionary Communist Party must continue to be raised and fought for: At the government’s expense, people must get decent housing and care until they can safely return to their homes. Hotels, convention centers, and other buildings must be provided to people in need of shelter and there must be free communication for people to contact relatives.

Immediately, there must be emergency medical care and measures to prevent massive epidemics and needless dying. Those charged with so-called looting must have their charges dropped. People must NOT be abandoned or allowed to die. All necessary resources, including mobilizing volunteers, must be brought to bear on this. And the government must not repress people who volunteer or prevent them from helping, but instead must assist these efforts. And there must be no profiteering and speculation off people’s misery by the sharks of insurance companies, oil monopolies, real estate developers, and so on.

On the Ground in the Hurricane Zone

Tired of Being Treated Like a Dog

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

A Revolution correspondent submitted this report based on interviews and observations made in Louisiana.

One late evening in Baton Rouge I sat, as the sun set over the broad Mississippi, talking to BHD, a woman who had escaped from New Orleans.

BHD was telling me that I needed to get right with Yahweh. And I was sharing the DVD sampler of a talk by Bob Avakian that makes the atheist argument in a deep way.

An outdoor church service was going on nearby. In fact it was going on more-or-less continuously outside the main center for evacuees. And I realized that, despite her personal belief in god, she was thinking about the local preachers with a lot of anger and bitterness.

She told me how she and her boyfriend had been staying in a nearby temporary shelter at a local church run by some conservative Baptists.

"I was riding the bus the other day and this lady said, ’You from New Orleans?’ And I said ’Yes,’ but before I knew what was happening I had tears in my eyes. I’m just trying to get through this reality. And it’s sinking in to me that there’s no more New Orleans.

"My daddy said to me a long time ago that ’New Orleans is a swamp, and if they don’t do something about it we’re going to have trouble like we never seen.’ I think about my mother, who I buried just a year ago, her casket floating down Airline. I’m feeling a lot of things now. People think I’m depressed, and maybe I am. But I’m mad now.

"I’d like to ask Mr. Bush, what is wrong with Baton Rouge? And what is supposed to be wrong with the people from New Orleans? Why are we not getting the assistance we need? Why were people left to die? What the hell is going on? Why are we an hour away from where this storm hit, being ate up every night, wearing somebody else’s clothes, living like hobos. It’s not my fault, it’s not our fault. I may not know how to read or write that well, but I’d gotten my life together. And now it’s gone.

"I’m speaking from my heart. You know how long this has been in my heart?

"Me and my boyfriend were watching the news the other day here in Baton Rouge. And I got mad. My boyfriend said, ’You see how that cop’s looking at you?’ But you know what, we’re not scared. OK?

"Everybody wants to blame Bush, but why can’t nobody just get the job done? Why can’t he get the job done? Why can’t we get back on our feet again? This is all just going to keep getting worse around here, people with all these children and these families. I’d say to Bush, you just don’t care? Or what?!

“These people around this church here got a nasty attitude. They look at you, know you’re from New Orleans and they think you’re dirt. I don’t like it. None of us like it.”


Baton Rouge is only 50 miles north of New Orleans — but it is a conservative town, deeply marked by the racist history of the plantation South, and a place where some people are deeply suspicious of New Orleans, and especially its Black people.

After the flood, Baton Rouge doubled in size overnight. Thousands of evacuees poured in. There were many people from the town who opened their homes and communities to those fleeing the flood.

But at the same time, the air was crackling with racist rumors about robberies and crime. Local gun stores sold out.

And there has been hostile talk that the evacuees are not welcome. That their kids should not be allowed into local schools. That they should not be allowed to stay and settle in. That the presence of all these Black, poor, desperate, broke, uprooted people might change Baton Rouge forever.

And these tensions have escalated as reports have emerged that the poor districts of New Orleans might be bulldozed forever—that when this city is finally rebuilt it may not have a place for many of those at the bottom.

There is already a sense among the people in the shelters that no matter where they go they will now be made unwelcome—and that they are being demonized as dangerous, a problem, and as even sinners who were targetted and punished by god.


BHD told me:

"I’m from Carrollton, and the canal there flooded real bad. And now I’m here, and don’t know when I’m going back. I’ll tell you one thing, if that had been a city full of half a million white people, they wouldn’t have let it drown. Hell no!

"Let’s get this together. Let’s get the water out of New Orleans. Let’s get people jobs and a roof over their head. Just get us all so we can start living again and start doing the things that people do.

"My boyfriend was saying—maybe you think it sounds crazy, but with what’s going on in the world today you never know— he said they’re trying to get all the Black people out of New Orleans.

"This man in the church wants to relocate us away from New Orleans. We said we want to go back and he got mad. My boyfriend is finding out about work in New Orleans. He’s a carpenter, and that’s our home.

"This man in the church says they’re going to get all the Black people out—he used another word for us! When they do decide to build New Orleans back up, we’re not going to be able to get back in there.

"I know it sounds crazy, but you never know what they’ll do. Look at slave times, what they did then. It ain’t that much different, really, what they’re doing to Black people now.

"I can’t believe that these people in Baton Rouge still have so much prejudice in their hearts. I’m not talking about everybody, but about these people who say they’re looking after us. It’s a church! They ignore us when we speak, and ignore what we’re going through. They laugh in your face! They think I’m a foolish woman and I should ’be grateful.’

"I get mad and humiliated—and all the time them acting like they’re such ’good Christians’! They doing it for themselves, not for us. Some of them are no different than the cops and soldiers they got all over here, except they want you to pray with them too.

"I don’t need to be praying with them.

"I’m scared I’m gonna get put on the street, but I’m tired of being treated like I’m some dog. I don’t need them praying over me.

“The governor told us all to pray, and I do pray. But we need a hell of a lot more than that now.”

From the RC4

Report from Houston and Baton Rouge

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

This is Joe Veale of the Revolutionary Communist 4. I was recently in Baton Rouge and the Houston Astrodome, talking with people who had been evacuated from the hurricane and flooding of New Orleans.

At the Astrodome, we passed out the special Hurricane Katrina issue of Revolution, which includes the RCP statement and demands and the “Wanted” poster that calls out the Bush regime as mass murderers. People grabbed up the paper, and some people took copies inside to pass to others, under the eyes of the tight prison-like security.

The government plans to move everyone from the Astrodome by the 17th of September. Who knows where? From talking with the people, I was able to get a real sense not only of the horror of the hurricane and the flooding but of the cold-blooded response of the government and its suppression of people who are trying to deal with this desperate situation that the government created in the first place, with its failure to act. The picture I got was one of people in a situation of extreme desperation, and the seizing on this by authorities as an opportunity to kill and viciously repress people who their system has no use for anyway. A situation made more desperate because the government left the people with no way out from the hurricane and the flood that followed—left them to find their own way out if they could. On top of this, they sicced their dogs—police, right-wing vigilantes, mercenaries from Iraq, National Guard—to repress and murder people.

One young woman with six kids told me that the only reason she and her kids were able to make it out alive is because others she did not know had broken into stores and provided them with food and water. She told me that the situation was so extreme, so desperate, that some people lost their minds. She watched some people jump from a bridge in New Orleans.

I could not help thinking about that old-time slavery—when African slaves jumped the ships to their deaths into the ocean instead of being packed on those ships like sardines, not knowing where they were going, or if they were going to live or die.

Virtually all the Black people from New Orleans that I spoke with made comparisons between what they experienced and what is happening in Iraq, under military occupation. People talked about National Guards walking the streets with their weapons pointed at them, kicking in doors, yelling at them, shooting them.

People tried to break through this vicious repression, to help those trapped in this life-and-death situation. Veterans for Peace and Justice loaded up trucks full of food and water to get to people. But at every turn, they were turned around by the National Guard and prevented from getting these supplies to the people.

I heard a story about 94 school bus drivers from Houston who paid for gas themselves and drove to New Orleans to get people out. They were held up for 30 hours by the National Guard and made to turn around and go back to Houston without rescuing anyone.

Before going to Baton Rouge, I had read about some Naval helicopter pilots who were given a mission to take supplies to the National Guard. On their return, some of them decided to go into New Orleans, to see if they could rescue people from the roofs of their homes. They were able to rescue about 100 people.

But once back at their base, the pilots were in trouble. They were told they were wrong for rescuing people, that they had lost their focus and violated their orders. They received a disciplinary reprimand for violating orders. After that, a number of the pilots pulled the patches off their jackets in protest. The patches read, “Rescue and Saving Lives.”

The people did not have to die. The Bush regime is wanted for mass murder.

How Could This Happen?

The Lunatic Theories of Fundamentalist Religion

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

A Revolution correspondent submitted this report based on interviews and observations made in Louisiana.

We talked to a young white woman student from L.S.U. who had been helping people in Baton Rouge since the storm first hit. She told us: “This is Bush country, and it’s religious country. Religion gets into everything around here. The middle class people here think anything can be dealt with by praying and relying on god. But they can’t understand how the government knew about this in advance but did nothing about it. It all could have been avoided, and government let people down at every step. Now there’s total chaos, and people are praying a lot but having a hard time finding an explanation.”

Fundamentalist Christian preachers, from extremely powerful and influential Christian Fascist leaders to storefront preachers, are injecting themselves into this situation with an ugly and vicious theory: It had been “God’s will” to destroy New Orleans.

George Smock, who runs the Campus Ministries in Columbia, Missouri, said

“This city, New Orleans, is home to Mardi Gras and other depravity. This week they were supposed to have a ’week of decadence.’ But not anymore. Its very likely they won’t be having Mardi Gras in February or March or whenever. In a part of Mississippi there’s a bunch of riverboat casinos; they got wiped out. So again, I think this came about as the result of the wrath of God.”

Hal Lindsey, one of the best-selling authors of “End Times” theories, said on his September 9th show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network:

“It seems clear that the prophetic times I have been expecting for decades have finally arrived. And even worse, it appears that the judgment of America has begun.”

Charles Colson, an advisor to Richard Nixon who went to prison for the Watergate coverup, said on his Breakpoint Christian radio broadcast:

“One lesson I learned from Katrina is that we better win the war on terror and resolve to prevent another 9/11.... ’Did God have anything to do with Katrina?’ people ask. My answer is, he allowed it. And perhaps he allowed it to get our attention so that we don’t delude ourselves into thinking that all we have to do is put things back the way they were and life will be normal again.”

This hurricane was the product of natural processes—where the warmth of the sun generates storms and winds of great force in the atmosphere. The disaster that followed was the product of man-made processes and errors, as many people were trapped without food, water or the means to escape.

But these Christian fascists deny all this in vicious and crudely anti-scientific ways. They blame the death and suffering on the people themselves—accusing them of “sin” and of tolerating “sin.” And they go even further, claiming that unless the U.S. undergoes major political and social changes (toward a theocratic religious dictatorship) the people will face even more massive suffering and disasters (all thanks to the wrath of their god).

Striking a Chord: A Report from Atlanta

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

We received the following correspondence from Atlanta:

Dear Revolution,

The Party Statement: “Hurricane Katrina — The People Did Not and Do Not Have to Die,” and the special issue of Revolution on the hurricane are having an electrifying effect here. The response is tremendous and people are taking up bundles of them and joining with distribution teams.

A team of people went out and dropped five banners from overpasses around some core city neighborhoods and began taking out the statement ñ looking for the centers where evacuees from New Orleans were being sheltered and “processed.” People, very broadly, are so angry, frustrated and wanting to do something. It was very common for people to begin crying as they talked with us about the flyer and the horrors people had suffered and the needless deaths.

The statement and the special issue really struck a chord with people and there is a hunger to really talk about what the problem is in a deep way. One discussion grew a small crowd on a Black campus. Masses were using our statement and arguing with others, saying, “it’s the whole system, like they’re saying here, that’s the problem.” We ran into people who had seen the banners—which had the title of the Statement and the Revolution web site on it. A first run of 2,000 posters of the statement are getting up and out to people and getting a huge response, too.

Groups of evacuees started coming in over the Labor Day weekend. But reaching groups of evacuees at the shelters was difficult in the beginning as they were closed and guarded from everyone but medical and social services. We had better experience at the State labor centers, which in several counties were kept open all weekend for evacuees to register for jobs, apply for unemployment, etc., and we got out flyers in bundles to people who were taking them back either to the shelters or to the homes they were staying in. There were people in a large Red Cross-run shelter, in churches, and many in homes of relatives, friends or strangers who took people in. We were also able to get flyers in bundles out to evacuees in the many lines for social services.

Wherever we have reached our basic people — downtown, in neighborhoods, at the MARTA stations, farmers markets and grocery stores—we’ve had people taking them up.

Some Black churches have made our literature available to their congregations, which include folks newly arrived from New Orleans. And a manager of a major grocery store, part of a chain, in a solidly upper-middle class Black community of Atlanta, read our demands and said she’d put them at the checkout counter of every cashier for her customers.

When the statement was “hot off the press” we went to the annual Black Gay Pride parade in midtown Atlanta. Everywhere, everybody was talking about the situation in New Orleans with anger, sorrow and a profound sense that this affected everything—it even colored how other important issues were taken up. The BGP marchers took up the leaflets and several organizers thanked us for coming.

A group of Atlanta University students called for a march on the Wednesday after Labor Day, thinking it would draw hundreds of students because of how intensely everyone was following the situation and how enraged people were. When a group of comrades and friends showed up for the march there were only a couple of AU students (who had brought a petition they wrote to impeach Bush) and a couple of high school students. But we had tons of the statement, copies of the special issue, and posters. So the students took these up and marched through the campuses to draw some more students. There was a lot of debate and struggle over what to do and many people took up flyers and Revolution newspapers.

Some people went to the women’s campus where several young women took bundles of Revolution and World Can’t Wait flyers. Discussions broke out about what it would take to drive out the Bush regime and why this system is the problem. More than 600 copies of the Back to School Revolution issue got out during this march. We also met t-shirt vendors who want to print the WANTED t-shirt and help distribute it through their outlets.

Through all this, we have been meeting many people who want to know about communism and atheism and want to get deeper into the revolutionary program of the RCP and find out more about Bob Avakian.

Pigs Rush to the Trough

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

First, the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast were abandoned to die by the thousands. Now the bloodsuckers have descended.

Government funds are pouring in to “hurricane relief”—and before the most basic needs of people had even been taken care of, billions of dollars in government contracts were already being promised to giant engineering and construction firms with high political connections.

Many are the same firms that cashed in on “opportunities” in bombed-out Iraq— in a frenzy of corruption and padded contracts. According to the London Review of Books, U.S. auditors “have so far referred more than a hundred contracts, involving billions of dollars paid to American personnel and corporations, for investigation and possible criminal prosecution.”

Now many of these same companies— Halliburton, Bechtel, Fluor Corporation, the Shaw Group, and CH2M Hill, have landed huge government contracts to build temporary housing, repair levee flood walls, and for other reconstruction and “recovery” projects on the Gulf Coast. These contracts were reported September 10, even before everyone in New Orleans had been rescued.

Halliburton Corporation, once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, made $10 billion in Iraq—with at least $1.4 billion now under scrutiny for total fraud. Now, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root is being hired to rebuild damaged U.S. naval bases in Louisiana and Mississippi and for other projects.

The “private security firm” Blackwater, hired by the U.S. occupation authority for death-squad activities in places like Fallujah, is now deploying mercenaries into New Orleans. They prowl the streets of that flooded city, armed to the teeth. These hired killers say they have been deputized by the state’s governor and are authorized to use lethal force.

Bush has announced his plans for a third-world-style “enterprise zone” in the disaster zone—called the Gulf Oppor-tunity Zone—where corporations will get heightened profits through tax breaks and lowered wages.

Meanwhile, so-called “faith-based organizations” are also pouring in—making money and inroads with support at the highest government levels. In a move that shocked many, FEMA (the main federal disaster agency) listed Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing (OB) on their website as one of only three suggested organizations where people could send cash for hurricane relief. This official blessing was an attempt to channel millions of dollars into the pockets of prominent fundamentalist Robertson—a powerful backroom advisor to President Bush.

Robertson is a leading Christian Fascist operative—with a long history of supporting death-squad activity and assassination in Latin America. He closely supported Guatemala’s genocidal military dictatorship in the ’80s (headed by fellow Pentacostalist General Rios Montt), and then this year called for a hit job against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Robertson has special hurricane credentials: He is notorious for preaching the lunatic anti-scientific theory that group prayer can deflect hurricanes! He personally claims to have prayed them away from U.S. coasts several times. He also claims that disasters are divine punishment for “sin.” When the city of Orlando put up flags to honor Gay Pride Month in 1998, he threatened, “You’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you.”

In other words, government sponsorship of Robertson’s OB means funding his agents to go out into the disaster zone to preach that the people are to blame for their own suffering (because not enough obeyed the biblical rules and Robertson’s reactionary morality).

Operation Blessing is also highly corrupt: Half its money last year actually went straight into Robertson’s televangelist operations. Money raised by OB in 1994—supposedly to airlift genocide victims in Rwanda—was used to fly equipment for Robertson’s African diamond mining operations. Robertson avoided prosecution through the intervention of political allies.

After a wave of outrage and criticism, Robertson’s OB was removed from FEMA’s website. But this has not stopped his operations from exploiting this disaster every way it can.

Before the flood waters even started to recede, this Gulf Coast disaster had become a frenzy of profit-making and corruption. Capitalism and Christian Fascism are in full operation—feeding off the vast suffering of the people.

God the Original Fascist

Part 1

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

EDITOR’S NOTE: This series of articles was submitted by a reader who was inspired by Bob Avakian’s writings and talks on religion and, further provoked by discussions and arguments with friends about the Bible, engaged in a systematic study of the first five books of the Bible. These books, which are known as the “Mosaic books” (and which contain such crucial passages as that outlining the Ten Commandments), lay out the foundation for some of the Bible’s most important themes. After having read these five, Mosaic books of the Bible, the reader was struck even more deeply by how profoundly the essence of the Bible’s message has been distorted and hidden

A series in four parts, submitted by A. Brooks,a reader of REVOLUTION newspaper

Introduction to the Series: Why Studying What the Bible Actually Says Is Crucial in These Times

“When you approach a town to attack it, you shall offer it terms of peace. If it responds peaceably and lets you in, all the people present there shall serve you at forced labor. If it does not surrender to you, but would join battle with you, you shall lay siege to it; and when the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, the livestock, and everything in the town—all its spoil—and enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemy, which the Lord your God gives you. Thus shall you deal with all towns that lie very far from you, towns that do not belong to nations thereabout. In the towns of the latter people, however, which the Lord your God is giving you as a heritage, you shall not let a soul remain alive.”

Deuteronomy 20

“See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity. For I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His Commandments, His laws, and His Rules, that you may thrive and increase, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land you are about to enter and possess. But if your heart turns away and you give no heed, and are lured into the worship and service of other gods, I declare to you this day that you shall certainly perish. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life — if you and your offspring would live—by loving the Lord your God, heeding His commandments, and holding Fast to him.”

Moses, speaking to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 30

“You’re either with us or with the terrorists.”

George W. Bush, shortly after September 11, 2001

Recently, I had a spirited and instructive debate with a close friend of mine. Like me, this person is an atheist, and thus by definition does not believe that the workings of the universe are governed by a God, or a higher power of any sort. However, she was arguing that whether or not one believes literally in a God, the “core principles” that are articulated in the Bible are good rules to live by.

This is actually a viewpoint that I have encountered relatively often, and I decided it was something worth looking into. It was actually this discussion, in large part, that provided the immediate inspiration for me to read and study the five Mosaic books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuter-onomy. As it turns out, almost from the beginning of the text, one can find the advocacy of codes of conduct and belief systems that, if followed literally, would do tremendous harm to any society. This, in turn, got me thinking about some eerie connections between the type of rhetoric, ideology, and actions one finds in these Mosaic books and the rhetoric, ideology, and action that pervades the Bush administration and its most devoted followers.

This country, and all of humanity, are currently confronted with a president whose policies and ideology are so horrific that they in many ways surpass those of even the most ruthless war criminals to occupy the presidency in the past (and this is indeed a competitive field!). The “Dubya” regime has been characterized by unprecedented and overt demands for total, unquestioning obedience to the program of this ruling class. This program has been centered around the perpetration of unspeakable acts of death, destruction, and torture against people in Iraq, in the Guantanamo Bay prisons, and throughout the globe. The ruling structure in power has, of course, sought to legitimize and enable these atrocities abroad by creating the basis for swift repression on the “home front” against all those who do not step in line to support this program.

Meanwhile, another element of Bush’s regime that has so many people correctly identifying Dubya as a “fascist” is his allegiance to and central role in the leadership of an Evangelical Christian movement that aims to transform society in a way that aligns it with a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible. In short, Bush and Co. aim to create a Christian theocracy. This, to say the least, would reap consequences for humanity that are disastrous in terms of the future of science in our society; the basic rights of people of color, women, Jews, homosexuals, and other groups that have been discriminated against and oppressed; the flourishing of critical thinking and debate, and many other areas.

It cannot be overstated that the coexistence of Bush’s vision of a society based on strict adherence to the Bible, and his policy of world domination and plunder, is anything but a coincidence. Indeed, Bush often articulates (sometimes subtly, sometimes directly) a vision of conquering Iraq and other “terrorist nations” in terms of a war between cultures and civilizations, with America carrying the sword of Christianity. In fact, General Jerry Boykin, currently one of Bush’s most trusted leaders in the armed forces, has openly referred to the war on Iraq as a war against “Satan.”

Many folks—including plenty of well-intentioned progressives and even leftists, as well as religious people who seek to emphasize aspects of their faith that seem to focus on serving and providing for one another rather than conquering or converting — have banded together to condemn Dubya’s vision as a perversion of the core principles of the Bible. However, while this viewpoint is clearly based on a fundamental hatred of atrocities carried out by the system and must be united with on that level, to classify what Bush and company are doing (and trying to do) as a misguided reading of the Bible is in an important sense missing the boat.

In actuality, and somewhat ironically, the Christian fascist reading of the Bible is not at all misguided but is instead quite accurate. In other words, the horrific vision of the current administration does not demonstrate the horror of deviating from the core principles of the Bible; rather, it shows the horror of following the core principles on the Bible.

To understand this more fully, it is necessary to do what is done far too infrequently, especially in this society, and even more especially at this particular juncture in time: We must examine some of the key principles that are actually articulated in the Bible, rather than merely relying upon what essentially amounts to literary “sound bytes”; i.e. the referencing of a few passages that are either not representative of the overall themes of the Bible or are taken out of their context—or both. In this way, I am hopeful that valuable discourse will have been generated that will seek to identify the very biblical roots of the deadly program the Christian fascist element of this system seeks to implement. I am likewise hopeful that such discussion will illuminate the necessity to oppose this program itself, as well as to recognize the horrors that inevitably result from efforts to implement the value system promoted by the Evangelicals’ most revered text: The Holy Bible.

Over the course of this series, I will center this discussion of the Bible around the five Mosaic books, seeking to subject these documents to a process that they far too often elude: critical analysis. While these books do not even represent the entirety of the Old Testament of the Bible, to say nothing of the New Testament, examining them nonetheless provides a valuable window into some of the key themes that the Bible addresses. In this series, the first five books of the Bible will be examined and dissected, using many references to individual passages to support my points, but with the ultimate emphasis being not on the same regurgitation of individual phrases that the Evangelicals focus on, but rather on the goal of arriving at a much more clear picture of the predominant themes that characterize the first five books of the Bible.

Over the course of this examination, I hope to demonstrate that in its essence, the story of the five Mosaic books is primarily one that many folks in contemporary American society know all too well: A repressive social order, consolidation of rule “at home” by way of fear and terror, and the bolstering of power by unrelenting conquest and destruction of “foreign” peoples and their countries. It is because of all these elements that I refer to God quite unapologetically as the“O.F.”—Original Fascist.

Part 1: The Core Principles, and the Actual Outlook, of the Bible

There can be little doubt that throughout history, awful events and acts have been initiated and justified in the name of Christianity. To briefly mention just a few powerful examples: The Crusades; the conquest of Aztec, Incan, and other Native American civilizations by Europeans who felt their society and religion were superior; the brutal enslavement of Africans in the Americas; the persecution of Jews throughout history, most horrifically and powerfully embodied in the Holocaust; and the present war against an “axis of evil” that many Christian fascists feel is synonymous with a war against the Islamic world. In addition, fundamentalist Christians have used the Bible to condemn homosexuality, and demand that women occupy a traditional, subordinate role to men in society at large, in the kitchen, and in the bedroom.

However, as mentioned, while many progressive-minded folks readily recognize the horrible ways in which the Bible and religion have been used over the centuries to reinforce oppressive social agendas and justify all sorts of crimes against humanity, what is far less understood is the degree to which these repugnant principles are actually articulated as plain as day right in the Bible itself. How in the world, many people wonder, can a book that emphasizes loving thy mother and father, serving the poor and disadvantaged, and respecting the humanity of others- be distorted to serve such vicious and cruel ends?

The answer, unfortunately, is that these high-minded principles, in actuality, have very little to do with the fundamental message of the Bible. I hate to say it folks, but as crazy as these Christian fascists seem (and are), they’re not merely pulling ideas out of thin air. The core principles that Dubya and the Christian fascists are seeking to apply and uphold today as the guiding light for America’s foreign and domestic policy are the very same core principles that one finds in the Mosaic books: conquest, plunder, oppression, and repression of all sorts.

In some ways, it is easy to see how good-hearted people could be deceived into interpreting the Bible as a source of moral goodness and love for others. All that one has to do is isolate the passages that seem to reflect these sentiments and then teach them as if they were reflective of the text as a whole. This is, in fact, largely the way that the Bible and other religious texts are traditionally taught in modern societies. For instance, in one passage in Exodus 34, God is described as “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation.” Several other passages throughout the Mosaic books call for mercy to be visited upon those in need and even those who are oppressed. For instance, in Exodus 22, God reminds the Israelites not to celebrate their release from enslavement at the hands of the Egyptians by oppressing others: “You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.”

And in Deuteronomy 23, the principle is articulated that “You shall not turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge” from his master; “He shall live with you in any place he may choose among the settlements in your midst, wherever he pleases; you must not ill-treat him.”

It is from passages such as these that progressive-minded religious folks have derived the idea that the Bible can be used as a tool to spread love for fellow citizens and as a weapon to fight social injustice. There is only one problem, however: While seemingly high-minded principles such as these are indeed sprinkled here and there in the Bible, they are in no way representative of—and in fact, con-tra-dict —the fundamental essence of the text. Just as the entire history of the United States—with its brutal oppression of women, people of color, homosexuals, and other groups, combined with the unspeakable savagery it has visited upon peoples throughout the globe—makes a mockery of the progressive-sounding rhetoric that can be found in some parts of the Declaration of Independence, so does the vast majority of what is written in the five Mosaic books reveal the few respectable passages to be nothing more than lip service.

The Bible and Science

To begin with something that is so obvious it is often overlooked, if one takes the Bible literally, then one must believe that the entire world, and the plethora of diverse life that can be found on it today, were created not over the course of millions and billions of years by natural processes but rather over the span of a mere seven days (or actually six days— let’s not forget that day of rest) by an all-powerful creator! This belief, of course, leaves those who adhere to it no choice but to disregard centuries of advances in science that have shown that life on earth has existed for billions of years, and that life evolves through the natural process of natural selection, rendering many species that once existed extinct but also creating new ones. (The topic of evolution is masterfully and thoroughly discussed in the excellent multi-section series by Ardea Skybreak, The Science of Evolution. Check it out—it’s fun!)

To use just two examples, taking the Bible’s version of creation as fact, one would have to conclude that God created such wonders of the world as the Grand Canyon and dinosaurs, both of which science has proven to date back far, far beyond the time that the Bible was written. Confronted with awesome discrepancies such as this, it is no accident that Evangelicals are left to scramble to devise ludicrous explanations such as that dinosaurs and humans roamed the earth at the same time, and that all of the Grand Canyon was created during the Flood mentioned in the story of Noah’s ark! The only thing more astounding than these explanations themselves is the frightening reality that these explanations are actually gaining currency in “mainstream” thought; for instance, as discussed in Esther Kaplan’s work With God on Their Side, the Grand Canyon gift shop was recently forced to begin selling books that “explained” that the Canyon’s features were carved out as the result of the great flood unleashed by God.

When ignorance and cruelty are combined great horrors result—and, as will be shown more fully in the rest of this series, that is what will happen if the Bible, and what it actually says, is taken as The Truth and acted on.

To be continued: Part 2: The Repressive Social Order of the Bible

From Ike to Mao and Beyond by Bob Avakian

Review of From Ike to Mao and Beyond by Bob Avakian

Rethinking the “Unthinkable”: An Updated View of Communism

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

The following review of Bob Avakian’s memoir appeared in the July-August 2005 issue of The Free Press, published in central Ohio. The review, reprinted with permission from the publication, is available online at freepress.org

Rethinking the “Unthinkable”: An Updated View of Communism

by Tom Harker

From Ike to Mao and Beyond
by Bob Avakian
449 pp

July 20, 2005

How does a good California boy of the 50’s, an elementary school “Traffic Boy” who loved Smilin’ Ed’s “Froggy the Gremlin,” a high school quarterback (“a little guy, brimming with confidence”), a serious fan of basketball and music, and the son of a prominent judge go from a nine-year-old supporter of Eisenhower to a supporter of Mao Tsetung and the Chair-man of today’s Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP)?

Bob Avakian lays it out in his memoir From Ike to Mao and Beyond.

Most of us don’t really know much about Communism. Growing up, we have all been taught to fear and disparage it. Like Avakian, many Americans practiced hiding under their first grade desks in case of nuclear attack by “godless Com-mu-nists.” Like Avakian, many of us lived through the McCarthy witch hunts that found communists under every bush darkly working for the destruction of America.

Younger folks missed that, but they may have been around for the “Domino Theory” of Viet Nam (“gotta stop the communists now, or they’ll eventually be invading us through Mexico”). Folks younger yet, may remember Ronald Reagan, “the Gipper,” ordering “the Evil Empire” to tear down the Berlin Wall.

In any case, most living Americans have never heard much of anything positive about Communism. In a sense, Avakian’s book provides a refreshing rejoinder to the overwhelmingly one-sided view many of us have taken as a given.

Reading through the author’s chronology, the fact of his progression from Eisenhower to Mao and beyond—far from sounding inexplicable—seems the most natural, rational, and heroic path he could have followed.

As a youth, confronted with the blatant racism of the time and the related dissembling of politicians (including Kennedy), Avakian chose to side with the people and with rationality. Living in Berkeley, fate brought him together with Eldridge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, and Huey Newton (movers in the emerging Black Panther Party). Avakian writes that his friends “saw themselves as heirs to Malcolm X... They had this revolutionary stance, they were indicting the whole system—that’s what they got from Malcolm X—but they were calling for revolution too.”

The Panther’s view was, apparently, more radical than the contemporary Communist Party of that time (the Communist Party, USA—the CP), which the author characterizes as less radical than Malcolm X, dedicated mainly to working “palatably” within the system, trying to appeal to the “mainstream,” “the lowest common denominator.”

At this point in his life he was not a communist but was searching for something that made sense, something that offered a real chance of addressing the overwhelming problems of the time. Not an easy undertaking.

We humans seem to be wide-awake searchers in our youth, but somewhere along the way arbitrarily shut down and glom on to something, anything—the nearest “life raft”—that offers some hope of respite from thinking, wondering, and doubt. From that point on, we need not think beyond the common propaganda shared by all who cling to our own particular delusion. Like pet parrots, we can eat, sleep, and rejoice within our cage of secure certainty.

That is what makes Avakian’s path “heroic.” A fundamental aspect of the “Communism” he describes is a steadfastly rational, scientific approach to understanding the world (no faith-based initiatives here). As such, bending the reality observed by his senses to the “reality” demanded by the moment, or the media, or by the dominant culture, or by intellectual fatigue; or even by the iconic example of Mao himself; was not acceptable regardless of the consequences. This stubborn insistence on facing the facts as they presented themselves led, inevitably, to his leadership of the RCP.

In 1967 visiting Eldridge Cleaver’s apartment, the not-yet-communist Ava-kian was startled and confused by a large poster of Mao Tsetung hanging prominently on the wall. Cleaver explained, “We have that poster of Mao Tsetung on our wall because he is the baddest motherfucker on the planet earth.” That was a start.

Avakian reiterates throughout the book a major theme: the Marxism/Leninism/ Maoism he espouses is based on the foundation of science and truth. Today, perhaps more than ever, self-serving spin is promoted over truth in nearly every venue, and the scientific method is replaced by “faith”—faith in our leaders, our nation, and religious authority. It was pretty much the same in Avakian’s formative years, and he deserves credit for resisting it, demanding to search rationally for the hard facts of the situation we faced then.

Apparently, neither blind “faith” nor patriotism, nationalism, personal need, peer pressure, or anything else could turn him from his effort to honestly appraise the world he found around him. And, importantly for those who have heard nothing but negatives regarding communism, Avakian let the criticism he developed fall wherever he thought it was merited; addressing not only the brutality and imperialistic lust of the ruling class, but also the shortcomings of leftists and communist groups he felt had lost sight of the goal or historically had made honest mistakes in judgment along the way.

True to the notion that Marxism is a scientific effort, open to the development of a higher understanding that can allow avoidance of the mistakes of the past, Avakian readily admits the mistakes of earlier attempts at establishing a world free of “people who so viciously rule the world [and] oppress and exploit people in the most ruthless and murderous way,” a world “under the domination of this system and the way it twists and distorts the relations among people and turns people into instruments either to be used for the amassing of wealth on the part of a relative handful, or else just to be thrown onto the scrap heap like so much useless material.”

In addition to recounting a life lived during very interesting and important times; in addition to recounting his involvement with significant historical figures and events; beyond sharing his personal story; in From Ike to Mao and Beyond,Bob Avakian offers a fresh, new look at a system of thought that has, by some, been consigned to the “ash heap of history.”

As we presently experience what many of us see as the demolition of everything America has claimed to be and to stand for over the years; as we experience the demonizing of gays, the suppression of women, the scapegoating of minorities, the “Christianizing” of what has been a secular, tolerant, diverse, open, and progressive society; as we witness the steady degradation of working people, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled; perhaps we are ready to entertain some doubt about all the negativity heaped on “Communism” over the years by folks like those presently destroying what many of us believe in.

Bob Avakian’s new and innovative conception of “Communism” deserves consideration.

Hunger Crisis in Niger: Starvation by the Market

by Raymond Lotta

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

click for photos

I was reading the conservative financial journal The Economist.1 They were reporting on the acute and widespread hunger in Niger (pronounced nai-jer), and a phrase popped off the page: “the market respects demand, not need.” What they were saying is that famine is stalking Niger not because there is too little food. No. The problem, and this was freely admitted in the article, is that the poor majority of people cannot afford to buy the grain they need. And that grain is available! In short, market forces are responsible for the critical levels of hunger now affecting 3.6 million people in Niger.

So here we have editors of The Economist defending the wonders of the market but coming up short in offering a solution to the horrific situation affecting millions in Niger. It’s one of those moments when truth leaks out: “the market respects demand, not need.”

Of course, this is elementary to Marxism’s critique of capitalism. The market responds to profitability and monetary demand, not social need—whether we are talking about housing, health care, or any of life’s necessities in capitalist society.

Background to the Food Crisis

Niger is a former French colony in the Sahara. It is landlocked and heavily dependent on agriculture fed by rain. It has a population of 12 million people. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with one of the most fragile economies in the world. It has the highest infant mortality in the world; fewer than 20 percent of girls attend schools; and it continues to spend more on debt servicing than on education and health care combined. Niger is the world’s third-largest uranium producer—and most of the revenues from this industry go to the large Western transnational corporations.

Niger suffered major natural calamities this past year. The seasonal rains ended early. Locusts besieged croplands. But Niger’s production of millet and sorghum and other cereals that people count on for food fell by only 11 percent. In fact, production of these cereals was greater in 2004 than the harvest of 2000-2001, when there was no food emergency.

So what is the difference this time? Why are people going without food? Again, it is not because food is unavailable, but because it is unaffordable. A poor harvest that caused suffering became a hunger crisis. Essentially, the hunger crisis revolves around two intertwined factors: market forces resulting in high retail prices and lack of purchasing power; and “free-market” policies imposed on Niger by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

High Retail Prices and Lack of Purchasing Power

The people most affected by this food crisis are nomadic herders. They raise goats and other livestock, moving from one locale to another. They sell livestock and buy food with what they earn.

The problem is that the terms of trade have turned against them. The price of food has gone up some 75 percent this year over its average during the last five years, while the price for cattle has plummeted.

Why has the price of the millet and sorghum gone up? Part of the reason is that other markets, in neighboring Nigeria for instance, have more purchasing power. Food is being bought up in the region, and this is having the effect of driving up prices. Wealthy commercial traders based in the cities are selling grain to the highest bidders—in this case to other African countries.

But what about declining livestock prices? Part of the reason livestock prices fell is that pastures have been damaged and herds this year were not as plump as last year’s. But a more important factor is the impact of the higher food prices. The rise in prices for cereals forced herdspeople to sell more of their livestock. But putting more livestock on the market had the effect of driving livestock prices down...which has forced people to sell still more of their herds to gain the necessary income to buy food.

By June, the sale of one goat bought half as much millet as it had six months earlier. In some areas, it now takes two to three animals to buy the same quantity of food that previously cost just one. And many people are subsisting on leaves because they cannot afford to buy millet but do not want to sell their remaining herds.

IMF and World Bank’s Program for Starvation

This is not the total explanation for high retail prices and lack of purchasing power. We have to dig deeper. Actually, we have to look outward to the role of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). These two Western-dominated financial institutions have a stranglehold on Niger’s economy, along with many other Third World economies. Subsistence farming and local production of staple grains the poor majority depend on do not yield much profit. And so they do not receive Western financial backing.

Niger has foreign debt to pay back. Its pro-Western government has been locked in to dependence on the rich countries for aid and assistance. And under pressure from the IMF, Niger’s government has agreed to a serious of “reforms.” These reforms are designed to create a more “market-oriented” economy. There is blackmail at work here. Niger cannot qualify for debt reduction unless it carries out these “reforms.” Let’s look at some of the “free-market” measures dictated by the World Bank and IMF and how they are contributing to the hunger crisis. 2

REFORM: Eliminating government controls over gasoline prices. Imposing a tax on fuel. The gasoline tax is a main source of revenue to pay back the country’s foreign debt.

EFFECT: Higher gas prices have increased the cost of transporting goods, including food. This has contributed to higher food prices.

REFORM: Promotion of commercial livestock exports in order to stimulate earnings to repay debt.

EFFECT: Export promotion has drained support away from local livestock production.

REFORM: Privatization of social and medical services.

EFFECT: Already meager health care in the cities is now even more beyond people’s reach. Veterinary services have been privatized. This has contributed to loss of herds, since poor herders cannot afford these services.

REFORM: Privatizing irrigation systems. Allowing water systems to be purchased raises revenues to repay debt and allows private investors to turn a precious resource in a semi-arid country into a commodity to be bought and sold.

EFFECT: Small-scale agriculture is damaged. This is so because small producers cannot afford these services and because irrigation will increasingly serve commercial interests. The privatization of water was a major cause of famine in Somalia.

REFORM: Early in 2005, the government was required to impose a 19 percent tax on flour, milk, and sugar as a condition for IMF budget support. This tax was applied to basic grains as well.

EFFECT: Protesters carrying signs that read “We Are Hungry” marched in the streets of Niamey, the capital of Niger. The government backed off on the taxes.

At the recent G-8 conference of the rich countries, it was announced that a new era of social justice was before us. Here we see the real agenda.


The market and “free market” policies are literally starving people to death in Niger. A rational economic system would operate very differently. You would ensure that production is geared to meeting social need. You would regulate prices so they are in line with these social priorities. That’s what socialism makes possible. But capitalism does not and cannot do that. Why? Because “the market respects demand, not need.”


1. “Destitution not Dearth,” The Economist, Aug. 18, 200

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2 Documents relating to the IMF and World Bank programs for Niger are online at imf.org and worldbank.org.

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Colonialism, Neo-Colonialism, and African Hunger

, by Raymond Lotta

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Harsh climate that brings droughts can cause massive human displacements. Other factors of nature, like the invasions of locusts that struck Niger, can intensify hunger. But the fundamental causes of Africa’s recent famines, including what is happening in Niger, are poverty, the larger economic and political structures responsible for that poverty, and decades of dependent, distorted, and environmentally destructive development. Here are some relevant facts:

1). Imperialism and environmental degradation.

When the European powers stepped up their colonization of Africa in the 19th century, they caused tremendous harm to traditional farming and herding practices. For centuries, local farmers had adapted to changing environmental conditions. In Niger, for example, small family groups migrated every year in order to allow the fragile land to regain fertility for future agricultural use. The Europeans (the French in the case of Niger) considered such farming techniques wasteful and unsuited to the export crops they hoped to cultivate. Throughout the African continent, the imperialists grabbed the choicest lands and reoriented production towards cash crops for export: like coffee, sugar cane, and cocoa. One immediate result was that food production for the poor majority was neglected.

At the same time, large-scale export agriculture led to massive environmental degradation. Western commercial interests cleared millions of acres of brush and trees for plantation agriculture. This removed a source of organic replenishment. In addition, intensive commercial farming of cotton, peanuts, tobacco, and other crops leached nutrients from the soil. Soil erosion, deforestation, and the expansion of desert resulted. Peasant farmers and nomadic farmers (people who move from place to place raising crops and animal herds) were pushed on to more marginal lands that became overgrazed and overexploited.

2). Market pressures and rewards.

Many peasants producing food were victims of land-grabbing by colonialism; others were squeezed out of farming (deliberately so) by taxes imposed by the Europeans; and many small farmers holding on to land found themselves unable to compete with commercial agro-interests. Market pressures were asserting themselves. Ruined and income-losing peasants were forced, if they were to survive, either to work on plantations producing export crops, or to migrate to rapidly growing and crowded cities to seek employment. This flow of people produced a dividend for capital: a cheap labor force. (In the case of Niger, the French succeeded in destroying much of traditional agriculture but failed in their attempts to create plantation-based export agriculture.)

3). Development policies favoring the cities and food aid that increases dependency.

In the post-World War 2 period, Africa’s cities grew chaotically, and the danger of urban unrest became a source of concern to the African elites and to the Western corporations and governments that propped them up. Policies were enacted to keep prices paid to farmers low—in order to provide cheap food to people in the cities and hopefully maintain stability. Cheap food policies were also a kind of subsidy to urban employers, enabling them to pay lower wages. Farmers had less “market incentive” (prices were low) to produce food crops, since their selling prices were kept low.

At the same time, Western investment and aid programs focused on large commercial agricultural interests, to the further detriment of small-scale subsistence agriculture. One of the aims of U.S. foreign aid programs in the post-World War 2 period has been to subsidize U.S. agricultural exports. What is presented as humanitarian assistance is in fact a program of “dumping”: U.S. food surpluses are sold cheap in Third World countries. This imported food undermines local farming; increases dependence on foreign food sources; and fuels black market re-sale of food products.

4). The Cold War.

From the late 1960s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the rivalry between the imperialist United States and the social-imperialist Soviet Union heated up in Africa. The West engaged in huge arms transfer programs to various African states and pro-Western insurgent groups. This was for two purposes: to shore up pro-Western puppet governments against popular pressure, and to wage what were called “proxy wars.” In these wars, various African governments and local armed groupings functioned as stand-ins for the United States and its adversary, the Soviet Union. The military expenditures by African governments mushroomed, driving up debt. The “proxy wars” of the late 1970s and 1980s were fought in countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, Mozambique, and Angola. These wars destroyed life and ravaged rural areas and food production in considerable parts of the continent.

The West also lent money to underwrite “showcase development” schemes—like big dams, stadiums, and various urban development projects. These did little to promote balanced agricultural-industrial development but added to the debt strains of these economies and the claims placed on them by Western financial institutions.

The U.S. has also explicitly used food aid as a club. In 1965, a U.S. National Security Council memorandum stated: “U.S. aid should be used as a political weapon, with major assistance going to African friends of the U.S.” Countries that go along with U.S. foreign policy receive such aid; those that don’t are punished.

5). International Monetary Fund austerity programs.

African debt to Western financial institutions spiraled in the late 1970s and 1980s as world market prices for traditional African exports declined while prices of imported manufactured goods rose. Niger’s main export is uranium, whose world market price has generally been in decline over the last 25 years.

In the 1980s, imperialist-dominated lending institutions like the International Monetary Fund imposed austerity programs on many African countries. These were designed to extract debt repayment. Austerity measures included steep cuts in social services for the poor and middle classes, higher food prices, along with currency devaluations and various measures to further boost export production. In recent years, the West has pushed programs to expand production of agricultural and specialty fish products for export to wealthy overseas markets.

6). The ongoing horrors of capitalist globalization.

The film Darwin’s Night-mare tells the story of the export and processing of Nile perch in Tanzania. This predatory species of perch was introduced into Lake Victoria in the 1960s. Fishermen have migrated from famine-stricken inland areas. The perch is processed in modern factories by superexploited laborers who live in camps ravaged by AIDS. The frozen filets are flown to Europe in the same cargo planes that return with weapons to fuel the continuing wars in the region. Meanwhile, the nile perch is destroying the ecosystem of Lake Victoria.

So this is where the history and workings of imperialism have brought the people of Africa.

Selected Sources

Richard W. Franke and Barbara H. Chasin, Seeds of Famine: Ecological Destruction and the Development Dilemma in the West African Sahel.

Kevin Danaher and Abikok Riak, Myths of African Hunger.

Michael Maren, ed., The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity.

Downloadable MP3 of Bob Avakian's talk "Elections, Democracy and Dictatorship, Resistance and Revolution"

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Get the downloadable MP3 of Bob Avakian's talk, "Elections, Democracy and Dictatorship, Resistance and Revolution." It’s provocative, humorous, and makes you think twice about how you've looked at these critical questions. Included in this talk is a discussion of what's wrong with "Support the troops but not the war." Avakian poses and speaks to challenging questions like.

What’s wrong with the slogan “Support the Troops, But Not the War”?

What are you supporting when you raise this slogan and where does that take you?

How do you decide which troops should be supported?

What if a woman is getting raped and someone says, “I support the rapist, but not the rape”?

What kind of life is being defended when some southerners say, “The Confederate flag is not a symbol of oppression...it’s just a way of life.”

Who decides where the U.S. armed forces will go and what they will do?

What does the debate around this slogan have to do with making revolution?

To hear this whole talk by Bob Avakian, including the part on where the slogan, “Support the Troops, Not the War” will take you, go to: bobavakian.net and get the bootleg of the talk, ELECTIONS, DEMOCRACY AND DICTATORSHIP, RESISTANCE AND REVOLUTION.

Download it, listen to it, play it over your school’s PA system, blast it from your car when you’re driving down the street. Copy it and get it around to everyone. The people need this truth!

Bob Avakian Speaks

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Download bootleg audio files of recent talks by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, from bobavakian.net

These talks are being made available raw. They have not been edited for publication by the speaker.

The talks:

Also available at bobavakian.net—

In an interview series with revolutionary journalist Michael Slate, Bob Avakian gets into the following questions:

From bobavakian.net:

“It’s in YOUR hands: Feel free to copy everything that appears here. Bootleg these speeches! Put them on CDs, on your MP3 player, or on your website. Play them in your car, at home, on the train or bus, at study groups and wherever people gather. Get these materials on websites that circulate MP3s and audio books. Get these materials wherever revolutionary and progressive materials are discussed or featured online. Get out the word about this new website. Link to this site and these materials any way you can.”

Also available as downloadable audio files:

Bob Avakian Speaks Out
On War and Revolution
On Being a Revolutionary and Changing the World

Interviewed by Carl Dix



Other Works by Bob Avakian

REVOLUTION: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About

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Order online at threeQvideo.com


Bob Avakian: Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy

Insight Press
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Order direct from Insight Press, Inc.
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Suite 264
Chicago, IL 60618

Order online at Amazon.com. Also available at Revolution Books stores and outlets.


Marxism and the Call of the Future: Conversations on Ethics, History, and Politics

by Bob Avakian and Bill Martin

Open Court Press
Order online at opencourtbooks.com
Also available online at Amazon.com and at Borders, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores


...and other books and pamphlets are available from RCP Publications (PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago IL 60654) and at Revolution Books stores and outlets.

A wide range of articles, essays, and serialized writings are available online at the REVOLUTION newspaper website: revcom.us

Lessons from the “Great Mississippi Flood” of 1927

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

At the September 2nd benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Aaron Neville sang a powerful rendition of Randy Newman’s song “Louisiana 1927” that ended with the refrain:

Louisiana, Louisiana.
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away.

What happened in 1927 and what does it tell us about today? The place to start is the book Rising Tide: the great Mississippi flood and how it changed America by John M. Barry.* While I can not go into all that is revealed in this fascinating study, here are a few striking points:

The report confirmed that black refugees “could not secure supplies without an order from a white person,” and they found “oppression,” that black “men were beaten by soldiers and made to work under guns. That more than one wanton murder was committed by these soldiers... [T]hat women and girls were outraged [raped]... by these soldiers.”

All this was done under the leadership of the Percy family—the most powerful political family in Mississippi who were noted Southern liberals who had consistently opposed the Ku Klux Klan as being too extreme.

New Orleans—which lies on the east side of the Mississippi—was spared the flood when the handful of rich bankers who ran the city had the National Guard blow a hole in the levee on the west side of the river. This flooded the poor parish of St. Bernard and drove out its thousands of residents, most of whom lost everything. And then it turned out that this was totally unnecessary—the river never go high enough to breech the levees anyway!

So if you think the horrors in the wake of Hurricane Katrina are just the product of the “incompetence” of the Bush crowd, reflect on the above history.


* A powerful documentary, “Fatal Flood,” based on this book and other accounts of the 1927 Mississippi Flood was recently aired on the PBS program American Experience. The PBS website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/flood/index.html includes transcripts, film clips, voices of the people who lived through the flood, and Delta Blues music from this show.

Return to article

People Need Science Not Prayer to Understand and Change the World

Letting Go of God Part 2

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Revolution received the following correspondence from a reader who last week submitted “Time to Let Go of God”:

On Friday the 16th, on the so-called day of prayer for Katrina victims, Bush, speaking at Washington National Cathedral, stated that:

“Through prayer, we look for ways to understand the arbitrary harm left by this storm and the mystery of undeserved suffering. And in our search we are reminded that god’s purposes are sometimes impossible to know here on earth.”

I had to stop and say to myself, is he serious? Is this the crap he’s trying to give to the people to speak for the devastating flaws of this government and system overall in handling the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina? Then I thought about it—what if I were a bloodsucking conniving imperialist responsible for the death and the “undeserved suffering” of countless people on a daily basis. I’d tell people to look to god too—that he works in mysterious ways, that it’s time for prayer and atonement and whatever else that would keep them from holding me responsible and coming after me for my gruesome crimes on humanity.

Yet while he and the class of people he represents actually have an interest in putting forth this outlook, the exploited and oppressed who are taking up and putting forth this outlook that god’s purpose is responsible for all of this, they have absolutely no interest in it. This is first and foremost because no such god exists. All of this religiosity about having prayer, that it’s all in god’s hands, that people should be thanking god for his mercy, they should be repenting for the sins that brought about this judgment, this is not what the people need at all. This will give them no real solution to the problems that this system continually brings down on them. In fact, this outlook only serves to perpetuate these oppressive conditions for the people.

While there is much to understand about how hurricanes work, they, like all other natural disasters, are natural phenomenon of the earth—not some mysterious hand of god—and they are understandable through science, not prayer. In fact, all of reality is understandable through science, including human social relations. We can see that the real problem is not the sinful nature of people, or the wrath of god, or the devil, but how the people of the world are forced to organize in order to produce the necessities of life.

It is through science that we can actually identify the reality that there was needless suffering and dying of people during this natural disaster, and literally every day under this system. We can understand that the entire oppressive way that human beings must relate under capitalism continues to create miserable conditions for the majority of the planet. Through science (and once again, not prayer) we can understand and change the world so that this needless suffering—which is an avoidable product of capitalism—is alleviated with the overthrow of this system through a communist revolution.

Let’s take one example: it wasn’t the hand of god that brought Blacks to New Orleans as slaves, or the reason why Blacks there (or other places as well) are impoverished in the first place. But this was the result of how this system has historically exploited Black people through plantation and urban slave labor and sharecropping relations, and then further has systematically placed Blacks in the lowest sections of the working class where they are still exploited. Many Blacks, because this system can’t find any way to exploit them, are forced into the margins of society living from day to day without any means of economic or social security. Thus a major disaster such as Hurricane Katrina takes place and what happens? Tens of thousands of Black people are stranded without food or resources. Once again, this was not the result of the hand of god but very real material factors, the national oppression of Black people in this case, rooted in the way this system functions.

One thing that these Christian Fascists really hate is science (unless of course they can use it to make lethal weapons of warfare and destruction). It tears apart their whole mythological setup of reality and ultimately undermines every “god given” legitimacy they have to rule. They hate science, and they don’t want the masses of people to know or use science in understanding the world. As long as they can keep on putting the causes of people’s suffering on these invisible forces, they can continue to wash the blood of the masses of people off of their hands, justify unspeakable crimes on humanity, and continue to make the world a tortured existence for hundreds of millions of people. And why? Because it’s all a part of god’s plan.

Well, let’s stop and think about that for a minute — what kind of god would bring about, allow or foster this kind of immense horror and suffering on people? What kind of god would leave tens of thousands of people stranded and practically left to die, without food, shelter or resources? What kind of god would have allowed them to be poor, exploited and oppressed in the first place so that they were left without any way out? A really sadistic and horrible god, that’s what kind—a god fit to exist only in the mind of a class of people who look for every way to legitimize the oppression and suffering of the people they exploit.

Do we really want to accept their outlook of these things? Do we really need a time for “spiritual atonement” as people get their lives back together? Do we really want to accept that this was all some act of god for judgement as if the people are to blame, and that prayer and repentance is the way out? Is this what the people truly need to be following? Do we really want to let these conniving, murdering bloodsuckers off the hook for this? NO—Hell NO! Is there another outlook that is based on science and reality that actually points to the real solution? Yes, it is the revolutionary communist outlook of this very paper you are reading right now. We don’t need to believe in myths about any gods, resurrected saviors, demons or devils, angels, ghosts, or prophesies. None of these things are real, and believing in them won’t lead us to a world without oppressive social relations. We need communism, and not anything less real than that.

Solidarity and Protest: September 29 - October 2!

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

The RCP is calling for four days of solidarity protests for the people made victims of both Hurricane Katrina and the Bush Regime’s neglect and abuse.

From Thursday, Sept 29 - Sunday, Oct 2, on the one month anniversary of the four days of hell people went through (and in many ways are still going through),protest against the neglect, abuse, lies, racism, and the repression the displaced people are facing.

Display the Wanted Poster on the back of this issue everywhere: In housing projects, high schools, laundromats, stores, houses of worship, community centers, clubs, and everywhere else.

Wear black ribbons. Wear “Wanted ...” T-shirts made from the poster on the back of this paper (distributors call 773.227.4066, or go ahead and print shirts using the PDF artwork at recom.us).

Drop banners from bridges, and send signed banners to the people in all the languages that people speak—Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Creole... [Send c/o RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654—we’ll get them there].

And in all this, raise our demand that The World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime!

New York City, September 11: The New Orleans Jazz Funeral Procession

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Last week Revolution reported on a September 4 jazz funeral procession in New York City, which was attacked by the police. A week later, World Can’t Wait organized an even bigger procession. Here is the report.

Sunday, September 11, 2005. At 3 p.m., musicians with trumpets, trombones, saxophones, clarinets, tubas, accordions, and drums and percussion of every variety start showing up at Washington Square Park in downtown New York City. Pretty soon, 400 people with black umbrellas, costumes, and signs are stepping off behind a black coffin held aloft marked “New Orleans.” Snaking around the park fountain, the Jazz Funeral Procession sways to a slow dirge, then breaks into “When They Saints Go Marching In,” the crowd dancing, singing, hand-waving, as layer upon layer of horns belts out the passions of the gathering.

The procession was organized by The World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime and musicians, critics, publicists and radio DJ’s across the city. The call to musicians went out Wednesday, and by Friday thousands in the jazz community and way beyond all the way to California and New Orleans, had heard about it by phone, email and radio announcements.

It was a beautiful, soulful and powerful procession, anchored by members of bands like Hungry March Band, the Big Apple Circus Band, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and other professional jazz players. The unforgettable scene moved many to tears and attracted a crowd of photographers, film crews, moms with strollers, kids on skateboards. (Watch the video at: worldcantwait.net/news/WCWnews/hurricane_video.php)

But within minutes, the march was face to face with dozens of cops in formation, physically blockading people from leaving the park. They threatened to arrest everyone—and were clearly ready to do just that, holding batons and handfuls of plastic “riot cuffs.” Behind them were paddy-wagons with the doors open.

People were trapped, but who wanted to go home?! Lacking a megaphone or permission to move, a “portage” to the next park was organized on the spot. Within 45 minutes a big portion of the procession reassembled 10 blocks away at Union Square, and soon they were off again— hundreds strong in a proud march around the park, horns soaring, undeterred by the buzzing police motorcycles trying to pen them in.

This beautiful outpouring of people’s spirit, music, and mourning demonstrated in microcosm the powerful basis in this moment to rapidly build a movement that can drive the Bush regime out—and the urgent necessity to do this. The raw display of police force (and the media white-out of the procession) is a harbinger of the severe new norms being bolted into place right now. It was also an open admission of their fear of this political message finding its way into the streets where it could connect deeply and spark resistance, something which—in this politically parched and fraught time period—could spread like wildfire.

The whole world is watching the people of New Orleans starve and perish in their homes or be warehoused in shelters—while Bush offers smirks and occupying armies. And musicians are not even allowed to march in New York City to demand an end to the government repression in New Orleans and that people’s needs be met.

But march they did, eloquently expressing their sorrow and love for the people of New Orleans, and holding the regime accountable for towering crimes.

It’s likely that the city has not heard the last from these musicians. Stay tuned.

Learning from History of Iraq

Nothing Good Can Come from U.S. Occupation

by Larry Everest

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Should the imperialist power that conspired to put Saddam Hussein in power, that was directly complicit in his regime’s worst crimes, and that—through two wars and 13 years of sanctions—killed far more Iraqis than anything attributed to Hussein, now be entrusted with controlling Iraq and shaping its destiny? Should that power be believed when it now talks of being a force for liberation?

Of course not. Then why believe that the U.S. occupation of Iraq is in any way justified, or that anything good can come of it?

Many who opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq feel it’s now somehow wrong or “unrealistic” to demand the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the U.S. forces who are illegally, immorally, and unjustly occupying Iraq.

Bush and Co. claim that if the U.S. suddenly pulled out of Iraq now, a bloody civil war—a Rwanda-type or a Yugo-slavia- type scenario—would ensue. And this logic is accepted and put forward by leading Democrats and some people who say they oppose Bush.

But let’s look reality in the face: A bloody war is taking place right now —as U.S. forces and their Iraqi allies brutally attempt to crush anti-occupation opposition. Iraqis testifying at the recent World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul, Turkey, argued that the U.S. occupation is actually exacerbating ethnic and religious tensions and conflict.

The civil war that is already going on could very well escalate if the U.S. left. Iraq is riven with deep national, social, and class contradictions—thanks primarily to the legacy of imperialism—and the Iraqi resistance is a complex mix of fundamentalist Islamists, elements of the former Ba’ath regime, nationalists, and others in the mix.

But it has to be said straight up: Even if civil war were to intensify with the end of U.S. occupation, that would be better than the situation now. Allowing the U.S. to complete its “mission” in Iraq would be criminal—not only guaranteeing ongoing bloodshed and torture carried out by the U.S. and its Iraqi puppets, but also strengthening the oppression of the Iraqi people in many ways, shapes, and forms for decades to come—adding yet another dreadful chapter to imperialism’s long and savage history in this ancient land.

On the other hand, forcing the U.S. out of Iraq would be an enormous victory for the peoples of the world. It would remove the primary obstacle to genuine liberation for the Iraqi people. It could help change the present horrendous dynamic in Iraq and strengthen secular progressive and revolutionary forces there. Beyond Iraq, a U.S. defeat in Iraq would be a serious blow to the U.S. war on the world and could make further U.S. aggression more difficult. This would give heart to people all over the world and possibly fuel new waves of anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggle.

The most important way people in the U.S. can come to the aid of the oppressed people of Iraq is to build a powerful movement demanding the U.S. get out—NOW!

Learning from History

A quick review of history helps clarify what the U.S. is really up to—and why it is not doing, and will not do, anything positive for the Iraqi people.

Over the past 80 plus years, the U.S. and Britain have repeatedly intervened in Iraq and the Middle East. The record shows that their actions have never been motivated by concerns for the masses and for self-determination and liberation; they have been driven by the ruthless calculations of global imperialism and ensuring U.S. domination of the region and its vast energy resources.

In this quest, the U.S. has launched covert and overt wars, backed regional tyrannies, and supported Israel’s forcible dispossession of the Palestinians and aggression against neighboring states—inflicting enormous suffering and perpetuating brutal oppression in the process. The 2003 invasion of Iraq represents a savage leap in this history of aggression and domination.

Yes, deep national, social, and class divisions run through the societies of the region. But foreign imperialist domination—by the U.S. in particular—has been and remains the main obstacle to the people’s liberation. And that is more true today than ever—as witnessed in Iraq!

The Creation of Iraq

Britain created Iraq after World War 1, chose its government and shaped its future, not in accord with its promises of self-determination or Iraqi wishes, but to help insure British control of the Middle East for its strategic location and its vast oil reserves. The British realized petroleum was becoming the lifeblood of modern empire—a key economic input impacting production costs, profits, and competitive advantage; an instrument of rivalry whose control ensured leverage over other powers and the world economy; and a resource essential for projecting military power globally.

Britain combined three demographically distinct administrative units of the Ottoman Empire to form the new Iraqi state: Basra in the Shia south, Baghdad in the Sunni center, and Mosul in the Kurdish and Turkomen north. Iraq’s Kurds had been promised independence after World War 1. Instead, the British brutally suppressed the Kurds and incorporated them into Iraq because without the oilfields of Mosul and Kirkuk, the new state would not be economically viable.

A pro-British monarch was installed and a comprador-feudal elite cultivated from among the Sunni elites, exacerbating ethnic and religious tensions. One percent of the landowners owned 55% of the land, and the country’s petroleum wealth was signed away to British and American corporations for a song.

Iraq’s borders were drawn to prevent it from becoming a Gulf power—the small state of Kuwait was given 310 miles of Gulf coastline while the larger state of Iraq was given 36 miles—sowing the seeds of conflict and war for decades to come.

The Iraqi people, however, never welcomed foreign conquerors—with flowers or sweets! In June 1920, over 100,000 Shi’as, Arab nationalists and tribal leaders rose up against the British. The so-called standard bearers of the West retaliated with a rampage—destroying, sometimes burning, whole villages and executing suspected rebels on the spot. British forces bombarded Shi’a rebels with poison-gas-filled artillery shells, and over the years Britain developed a number of anti-personnel weapons for use in Iraq, including phosphorus bombs, war rockets, metal crowsfeet (to maim livestock), man-killing shrapnel, liquid fire, and delay-action bombs.

1958 to 1979: CIA Intrigues and Betrayal of Kurds

In 1958 the Iraqis finally overthrew the hated monarchy. The self-proclaimed champions of freedom in Washington and London responded with military deployments—including nuclear weapons—threats of war, and covert operations which would ultimately bring Saddam Hussein to power. In 1963, the CIA provided the Ba’ath Party with lists of suspected communists, left-leaning intellectuals, progressives, and radical nationalists—thousands of whom were promptly massacred in a Ba’ath-led military coup.

One Ba’ath cadre later admitted, “We came to power on an American train.”

In 1972 Iraq signed a 15-year friendship treaty with the Soviet Union and completed the nationalization of its oil industry. Did Washington accept Iraq’s right to exert control of its resources and future? No. The U.S. and its regional henchman, the Shah of Iran, immediately turned to Iraq’s Kurds and encouraged them to rise against Baghdad, providing millions of dollars in weapons, logistical support, and funds. The CIA saw the Kurds not as friends but as “a card to play” against Iraq and “a uniquely useful tool for weakening [Iraq’s] potential for international adventurism.”

In 1975, when U.S. and Iranian goals were met and Iraq was forced to sign the Treaty of Algiers, the Kurds were promptly abandoned, and then quickly decimated by Iraq’s military which had been forewarned of the betrayal. Between 150,000 and 300,000 Kurds were forced to flee into Iran. “Covert action,” Henry Kissinger infamously remarked, “should not be confused with missionary work.”

The 1980s: Fueling the Iran-Iraq War

During the buildup to the 2003 invasion, George W. Bush condemned Saddam Hussein for his actions in the 1980s—invading Iran, accumulating weapons of mass destruction, and using them against Iranian troops and Iraqi Kurds.

What Bush did not say, however, was that these crimes took place when Hussein’s government was closer to Washington than ever before—and that the U.S. directly facilitated every one of these crimes.

In effort to counter the 1979 Iranian revolution that overthrew the Shah and head off Soviet geopolitical moves (including Soviet efforts to turn Iraq into a regional ally), Washington fueled the Iran-Iraq War—by first supporting Iraq, then Iran, and then Iraq again, all the while making sure neither side won decisive victory. The U.S. moves turned the war into one of the longest and bloodiest conventional wars of the 20th century. “Doling out tactical data to both sides put the agency [CIA] in the position of engineering a stalemate,” Bob Woodward wrote. “This was no mere abstraction. The war was a bloody one...almost a million had been killed, wounded or captured on both sides. This was not a game in an operations center. It was slaughter.”

After the Iraqi military’s 1987-1988 Anfal offensive against the Kurds, including the use of chemical weapons, the U.S. didn’t punish the Hussein regime. On the contrary, Washington rewarded Hussein with increases in aid and trade in hopes Iraq could become a loyal ally in the region.

The 1990s: A Decade of War Crimes

After the end of the war with Iran, Saddam Hussein demanded that the other U.S.-backed regimes in the region, in particular Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, help with the huge debt that Iraq had incurred and raise oil prices to increase Iraq’s oil revenues. When the demands were met with hostile refusal, Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. (Just before the invasion, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq had signalled to Hussein that such a move would be acceptable.)

The invasion abruptly turned Baghdad from a U.S. ally to an enemy. However, U.S. aims in the 1991 Gulf War were never limited to expelling Iraq from Kuwait, much less preventing aggression; instead, coming at a time when the Soviet Union was spiraling into collapse, the war was an effort to radically deepen U.S. regional hegemony and usher in a “new world order” of unfettered U.S. dominance. These objectives demanded crushing Iraq as a regional power and forcefully demonstrating U.S. military might to the world. George H.W. Bush publicly talked about going the last mile for peace while secretly telling his war cabinet, “We have to have a war.”

The U.S. rejected at least 11 different peace proposals. Bush I was literally “jubilant” when negotiations collapsed and enraged when it seemed they might succeed. He and his advisors viewed the UN as providing “a cloak of acceptability” to their war aims, as National Security Adviser Scowcroft put it.

These objectives dictated an extremely brutal military strategy—against both Iraq’s military and its civilian infrastructure. The Defense Department estimated the dead at 100,000 Iraqi soldiers killed and 300,000 wounded.

Many more Iraqis would eventually die as a result of the deliberate destruction of Iraq’s power grid and water systems. Article 54 of the Geneva Convention prohibits attacks on essential civilian facilities, including “drinking water supplies and irrigation works.” In other words, the U.S. bombing campaign was a war crime.

U.S. aims also dictated that the war continue after Iraq withdrew from Kuwait and combat formally ended. The main weapon was sanctions, which was justified in the name of disarming Iraq, but whose aims actually went far beyond disarmament. Sanctions were designed to cripple Iraq by preventing it from rebuilding its industry, economy, and military; block rival powers from making inroads in Iraq; and make life so miserable that rising mass discontent would compel elements in the Iraqi military to overthrow Hussein. This is why sanctions were never lifted even after Iraq had in fact disarmed ñ which is the simple reason why no weapons of mass destruction were found following the 2003 U.S. invasion.

As Iraqi doctors pointed out to me, destroying water and sanitation systems and then preventing them from being rebuilt—thus subjecting a country to water-borne disease—is a form of biological warfare.

No one knows exactly how many Iraqis were murdered by U.S. sanctions. Estimates range from 500,000 to 1.7 million between 1990 and 2003. In 1998 UNICEF estimated that some 5,000 Iraqi children under five were dying each month thanks to U.S. actions. That the equivalent of a World Trade Center catastrophe—and more—every 30 days.

The New Millennium: Invasion, Conquest, Occupation

As brutal as this history has been, the 2003 war represents a quantum leap in U.S. aggression. Today’s war is being fought in the context of a new overarching global strategy: to secure U.S.’s position as the world’s only superpower for decades to come by forcefully suppressing any possible rivals; by crushing masses who resist, particularly revolutionaries; by restructuring global political, economic and military relations; and by imposing capitalist globalization.

This unbounded campaign for greater empire is being carried out under the rubric of the “war on terror.” Iraq was not a “diversion” from this “war.” The invasion of Iraq shows what the U.S. “war on terror” is really all about. U.S. strategists saw conquering Iraq as a key step in unfolding their broader global agenda: “shocking and awing” the world, strengthening the U.S. grip on the Middle East, turning Iraqi into a military and political platform for further aggression, and gaining tighter control of international energy supplies.

What the Bush regime calls “liberation” in Iraq is nothing but 21st-century neo-colonialism, with the U.S. trying to cobble together a new, reactionary pro-U.S. ruling class—at the moment comprised of Shi’ite theocrats and Kurdish warlords.

Author’s note: The history of U.S. intervention in Iraq is thoroughly discussed and documented in my book, Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda (Common Courage Press 2004). This article is based on my testimony at the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul Turkey. A longer version is available at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/WTI062405V.shtml.


Shaken Not Stirred: A Bold, Audacious Student Movement to Drive Out the Bush Regime

by R.J. Schinner, National Student Organizer for World Can’t Wait, youth_students@worldcantwait.org

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

We received this article from the national student organizer for World Can’t Wait.

We need to shake things up on the campuses. The fact is, people are not by and large apathetic right now. Millions have watched with horror the mass murder in New Orleans at the hands of the Bush regime, torture after bombs after lies in Iraq, and this past week hearings to appoint a fascist to preside over the Supreme Court, while the right to abortion (among other things) hangs in the balance. Millions are agonizing over all this but don’t know what to do about it. People are paralyzed. They are up against a powerful regime that doesn’t care about what people think, what is true, or what is good for the planet and its people. They have been played by a Democratic Party that works overtime not to stop any of this nightmare (in fact it is part of making it); stirring people around in circles that go nowhere, only demobilizing and preventing people from stepping out in resistance that could actually stop the Bush regime.

World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime is heading a different route. We are acting on what’s true, what’s right, and what the world needs. And we’re not afraid to go out and challenge people to be a part of this. If we are to break the millions who hate where the Bush regime is taking things out of this deadly paralysis, we need to shake things up in bold, creative, and determined ways that connect with and draw forward millions in resistance to drive out the Bush regime.

To this end, we are calling for and leading a student movement that will pierce the paralysis on campuses across the country. Truth generally starts off in the hands of a minority, and it is on this minority to go out and win others to understand and act on this truth. If you understand that the world really cannot wait for fascism to consolidate power in the U.S. and for further and more atrocious crimes to be committed by the Bush regime around the world, and if you understand that the only way to do this is by breaking out of the framework of relying on the Democrats to save us and taking independent historic action to drive the Bush regime from power, then you have a big responsibility on your hands. You must become an organizer, step out and shake things up, and draw forward millions in massive resistance to drive out the Bush regime.

How Can We Do This?

First, we need to keep a firm grip on the fact that this is what the world needs. That all the reality that is described in the opening paragraphs of the World Can’t Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime call about the crimes this government is committing are simply true, and need to be stopped. Some have told us we need to tone down our message or find some way to gradually convince people, instead of putting out the truth straight up and then struggling for it. For a number of reasons, this logic is not only wrong, but deadly. For one thing, we do not have time to gradually convince people, baby-step by baby-step. And furthermore, the logic of compromise and cutting to the middle only loses ground to the Bush regime and trains people in paralysis and capitulation. It must also be said that no major social change has ever happened without a minority stepping out and standing up for what’s right and true, refusing to compromise, and winning over millions. It’s time to “call a spade a spade.”

Second, we need to step out and act on this understanding even if we are at first acting alone. This means finding the ways to shake people up and show that there is a way to resist and STOP the Bush regime. This past Thursday (9/15), we put out a call for students to go out on campus in the midst the Roberts hearings with visual displays of coat hangers bearing the words “Resist or Die,” “The World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime,” and exposure of where society will be going with the Supreme Court of the Bush Regime (i.e. they intend to outlaw abortion, in case you haven’t noticed by the fact that people like and including Roberts have openly stated this as their goal1). Where students took this up, this shook things up on campus, stopped students in their tracks, and got people thinking about what needs to be done. This kind of action is the beginning steps of sharply bringing home the stakes for humanity right now and breaking people out of the paralysis. We need far more and far greater of this. We need to be bold, determined, and creative.

Third, we need to connect all this with the millions out there who do hate what’s going on, and desperately want a way out, and begin reaching out to those who have been fooled by Bush. But we CANNOT do this, as some have argued, by watering down our message or making reality or our resistance more palatable to the “mainstream”. And while this may offend some at first, this will also inspire and galvanize those who are looking for a way out from this nightmare. There is a basis, especially now, as the crimes of the Bush regime in New Orleans are exposed for all to see, to bring millions of people into this resistance, if we go out and challenge them to.

Fourth, we need to take on the Bush regime and its shock-troops on campuses whenever they rear their ugly head. If David Horowitz comes to your campus to advocate fascist thought police and purging progressive thought and faculty, he needs to be publicly repudiated and made to look like the bumbling fascist fool that he is, and we must make NO APOLOGIES for doing so. And all these Young Republicans and Students for Academic Freedom (sic) need to be put on the defensive, because they are not simply “expressing their views”, but are part of a well-funded and organized brown-shirt movement to impose a fascist clampdown on the campuses. Similarly, whenever some crony of the Bush regime comes to your campus to justify their crimes, they need to be publicly repudiated. When this has happened, as much as the media tries to cover this up and make people forget about it, it has a huge effect (for example, just remember back to when Madeline Albright was called out at OSU on national TV for the first Gulf War).

And fifth, we need to do all this in a way that builds strength, momentum, and organization up to November 2nd. We must take bolder and more determined actions, including making sacrifices, and spread these to campuses across the country. And we must seize on moments and places where students are ready to step out in resistance and set an example for others to follow. Beginning now, students need to write statements about why they are taking up the Call for World Can’t Wait—Dive Out the Bush Regime and what they are doing at their campus on November 2nd,, and spread these statements to other campuses. We have called for walk-outs, student strikes, and campus shut-downs. Right now,students need to call for such actions on Nov. 2nd, put this call out to everyone on their campus, welcome and enter into all the controversy and debate this will spark, and galvanize and organize students to walk out and protest on Nov. 2nd.

Opposition to the War

If you still have doubts about whether the approach of World Can’t Wait is correct, consider what happened when Cindy Sheehan called out Bush for the liar and killer he is, called out the war, and demanded the US get out of Iraq now. Her stand was right, and it galvanized opposition to the war and dragged Bush’s lies back into the light of day. Meanwhile, the Democrats worked to pull this opposition back into acceptance of the war (but we can’t pull out now), and some criticized Sheehan for telling the truth. Now, many are going to the Sept. 24th protests against the war with the same spirit, conviction, and determination as Cindy Sheehan. This renewed, active opposition to the war, from Camp Casey, to kicking military recruiters off campus, to the outpourings on the 24th, is very positive and needed right now, and the world has been desperately missing this since spring 2003. At the same time, we cannot allow this opposition to get sucked back into the paralyzing reliance on the Democrats. And as the Call for the World Can’t Wait—Drive Out the Bush Regime says, “We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.”

The widespread and fierce opposition to the war on Iraq demonstrates the potential for Nov. 2nd. Coming out of Sept. 24th, students need to go back to campus as organizers in the movement to drive out the Bush regime. Join us at the Sept. 24th protests—we will be distributing fliers, Resist or Die T-shirts, stickers, etc. and enlisting organizers on the spot. We are having a one day student conference in D.C. on Sept. 25th, to bring together those who will be turning their campuses alive with resistance on Nov. 2nd. We will be discussing and debating out how to build this movement, how to involve the millions who don’t want the future Bush has in store for us, and what Nov. 2nd and all the weeks leading up to it need to look like on campuses everywhere.

Build a Student Movement

Students have a big responsibility in all this. This is because they are in a key position in society to act as a catalyst for sparking resistance, exactly because students have more access to progressive and radical ideas, are not weighed down by tradition and acceptance, and are able to organize and sacrifice. This was certainly true of the 1960s, and needs to be true NOW. Just think of what it meant to the world when students shut down campuses across the country in response to the US invasion of Cambodia, risking jail, riot police, and even murder (Kent State and Jackson State) at the hands of the authorities. Think about what it meant when elite universities like Columbia and Harvard turned out determined resisters of the status quo, or when Berkeley was known as the People’s Republic of Berkeley. Just think about what it would mean now for campuses to turn into centers of resistance, refusing to stop until Bush stepped down from power, and spreading this everywhere.

Some people say that the students of the 1960s were just a bunch of spoiled rich kids who really didn’t affect anything. By “some people say,” I mean this is what the status quo that was threatened by the radical student movement has been telling us for decades in order to convince students not to do it again. The simple fact is the student movement shook up society, called forth others to resist, and lost the allegiance of a generation to the American empire, not to mention contributing to ending the war in Vietnam, winning the right to abortion, gains in the civil rights movement, and more. Ever since then, the status quo has been working overtime to reverse anything that was won through the struggle of the people in the 1960’s, and bombard us with the lie that this is the best of all possible worlds, so accept it. So let’s draw the real lessons from the 1960s—that when millions of people break from “mainstream politics” (i.e. the Democrats) and fight for what’s right, it can actually make difference—and take things further.

And while I’m on the subject, let me say a few words about “spoiled college kids.” Instead of just complaining about them or (if you’re one of them) saying “we don’t want to impose our views on others,” let’s organize students at the elite universities to change the whole direction of society and take responsibility to fight for what’s right and true. If this is not our orientation, the only thing that will be “spoiled” is our chance to drive out this horrible regime.


Become an organizer. Send us your audacious plans for what November 2nd is going to look like on your campus. Take this challenge out to other campuses, and society as a whole. RESIST OR DIE. Get in touch with us, and come to the student conference in DC on Sept. 25th: youth_students@worldcantwait.org

To Musicians, Actors, Lecturers, Preachers, and Others in the Public Eye

You have an audience. Use your ability to reach a broad audience to fulfill a great need—to mobilize millions for november to take a massive first step in a powerful movement to force bush out.

When you are in front of a mike, on stage, on a podium, and on TV/radio talk shows, read this key section from the call “The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!”

“...Silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.”

“And there is a way. We are talking about something on a scale that can really make a huge change in this country and in the world. We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.”

“To that end, on November 2, the first anniversary of Bush’s ‘re-election,’ we will take the first major step in this by organizing a truly massive day of resistance all over this country. People everywhere will walk out of school, they will take off work, they will come to the downtowns and town squares and set out from there, going through the streets and calling on many more to JOIN US. They will repudiate this criminal regime, making a powerful statement: ‘NO! THIS REGIME DOES NOT REPRESENT US! AND WE WILL DRIVE IT OUT!”

Get in touch with World Can’t Wait at worldcantwait.org



Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Hurricane Katrina ripped the lid off and revealed the real underbelly of America: the oppressive relations of society that people must live in and adapt to every day; the ways in which this government does not give a damn about the masses of poor and oppressed people; the potential of the oppressed people to act with courage and humanity, even under extreme stress and up against the repression of the very government that claims to be helping them; and the ways in which people from all walks of life can be won to support the oppressed.

It is not surprising that the powers-that-be are now moving to demonize the people who were the victims and turn the truth upside down. But we—and you—have a role to play in all this. We must make sure that people do not “forgive and forget” this. We must do everything we can to get people to act and to resist. And we must act ourselves.

With that in mind, we are calling on all prisoners, who have a very first-hand knowledge of the repressive and deceitful ways in which this system works, to take up the following challenge:

There are over two million prisoners in this country—the most in the world. Over half are Black or Latino or Native American. The ruling class of this country has nothing for you. They hope you will either rot or be taken over by their religious indoctrination, which is designed to get you to blame yourself for what they’ve done to you and even to fight for them.

But there is a different future available, in the revolutionary movement. You can make a huge difference. Link up. Write to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund with your ideas and your plans for November 2.

Merchandise Mart
PO Box 3486
Chicago IL 60654

Call for October 22, 2005:

Tenth Annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

In July 2005, an 18-month-old baby is killed in her father’s arms by Los Angeles police. Police justification of this—that they were trying to “save” the baby—reminds people of the famous Vietnam era military quote—“We had to destroy the village in order to save the village.” In Compton, police surround a truck where a man gave them the finger and fire 100 shots. In the last two years since Cau Bich Tran (a young Vietnamese mother of two) was killed while holding a vegetable peeler, there have been about a dozen police-involved killings in the San Jose area alone. Rudy Cardenas was one of those stolen lives, and state drug agent Walker who shot him in the back is going to trial for manslaughter in September. Amnesty International released a report last November documenting over 70 deaths by tasers since 2001. The Stolen Lives Project has documented an alarming escalation nationwide in the numbers of people killed by law enforcement agents. These killings march hand-in-hand with the repression, searches and seizures legalized by today’s USA PATRIOT Act, which evoke remembrances of the COINTELPRO days of the 1960s and 70s.

Around the country, thousands of Muslim, Arab and South Asian immigrants are arrested, detained, and/or deported without legal recourse. Two New York city officials openly call for racial profiling to be used in the bag searches in the subways, a councilman asserting, “Plain and simply, young Arab fundamentalists are the individuals undertaking these acts of terror” and that they are “[a] particular group of people who are engaging in these terrorist activities. And they’re not skinny, balding Italian-Americans from Staten Island.”

In Minneapolis, a police consultant, proposing a racial profiling program, brands youth of color as “domestic terrorists.” Seattle’s ex-police chief goes on a speaking tour to promote his new book in which he lies about police “restraint” in handling the 1999 WTO protests and justifies the use of lethal force against protesters “when necessary.” The North Carolina October 22nd Coalition website (http://ncoct22.org) asks, ”Notice how today’s police look like a member of an urban military? They use military weapons against you, the civilian."

In New York, Juanita Young (mother of Malcolm Ferguson, killed by NYPD in March 2000) is persecuted by the DA on a bogus charge of criminal trespass for the “crime” of speaking out against police brutality. Her lawyer, Lynne Stewart, another outspoken activist, is subject to 45 years in prison for defending one of her clients’ rights to lawyer-client confidentiality. In Mississippi, people’s lawyer Chokwe Lumumba is suspended for demanding equal justice for poor Blacks and using his 1st Amendment right to criticize judges and the legal system. On May 2nd, the U.S. and New Jersey State governments raise the bounty on the head of the former Black Panther currently exiled in Cuba, Assata Shakur. Attorney General Gonzales, author of the torture memo justifying Abu Ghraib prison, announces the $1 million reward and lists her as “a domestic terrorist.”

What can we do about all this increased repression and brutality?

Nicholas Heyward, Sr. (father of Nicholas Heyward, Jr., killed by NYC housing police in 1994) says,

“Police brutality has always existed in poor and oppressed neighborhoods. But since September 11, 2001, it has gotten much worse. In order for any justice to be done, it takes a mass number of people coming together for a common cause. Police brutality affects everyone and has to stop. We need as many people as possible to come out this year on October 22nd to support the families of victims of police brutality.”

Juanita Young adds that resistance is critical:

“You can’t give in. They will try to make an example out of you, try to break your spirit. If you don’t resist and keep on fighting, they will be able to get away with what they’re trying to do to us.”

Norma Martinez (mother of Gonzalo Martinez, killed with 31 shots by LAPD in 2001), writes:

“Since Gonzalo died, more than 25 people have died at the hands of police. Not too long ago, young Devin Brown (13) was killed by LAPD. David Viera was killed by the city of El Monte, shot 11 times. Twenty-two year old Javier Quezada was killed, shot 11 times, right in front of his mother when he was suffering an anxiety attack. No police are in jail. We need justice.”

October 22nd is the day when people all over the country come together to STOP police violence, repression, and the criminalization of a generation. Across the country, in different cities and through different means of expression, we raise a resounding “NO” to their steadily increasing moves towards a police state.

We resist so that we will not be crushed.

Link up to the nationwide protests through the October 22nd website, http://october22.org.

Email information on your plans to office@october22.org.

Endorse this call, give financially, and spread the word.

Join the struggle! Fight back! On October 22nd, wear black!

October 22nd Coalition
P.O. Box 2627, New York NY 10009

U.S. Intervention in Nepal: Lies, Hypocrisy, and Reality

by Li Onesto

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

Planet Earth, right now, is really a totally messed up place. But is another world possible? Can humanity ever get rid of the oppressive inequalities between countries, nationalities, men and women? Is there a path for the future of humanity other than McWorld globalization or the jihad of religious fundamentalism?


I’d like to answer this question by responding to something Tim Robbins said at the big Not In Our Name anti-war rally in Central Park (October 6, 2002). In a speech against the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he referred to the Taliban, saying: “These people in Afghanistan, they’re not peasants fighting for liberation.”

The implication here was that, if that were the case—if there were a peasant movement fighting a genuine liberation struggle—then this would be worthy of people’s support.

So I want to say to Tim Robbins and others: In fact, there are peasants fighting a genuine liberation struggle in Nepal. And you and many others should take a stand in support of them. You should support the People’s War in Nepal which is fighting, in a secular way, not a fundamentalist religious fanatical way, to emancipate themselves. And you should oppose the increasing U.S. intervention in Nepal aimed at crushing this revolution.

The U.S. government and their mouthpiece media will say to you: “Yes, we know the regime in Nepal is brutally killing, torturing, and jailing thousands of people... but we have to stop totalitarianism and keep this country from becoming a failed state... we have to help the democratic process...”

When you hear this, stop and THINK.

“Stop totalitarianism” means: Crush the revolution. “Help the democratic process” means: Promote and enforce the process that keeps oppressors and exploiters in power to rule over a system that enforces a cruel caste system, crushing poverty, feudal women’s oppression and the systematic discrimination of ethnic minorities. “Preventing a failed state” means: Ensuring U.S. strategic interests in the region and the world AND making sure that a liberated country doesn’t emerge as a real model and alternative for the people of the world.

This is what U.S. intervention in Nepal is about enforcing.


In Nepal over 85% of the people are peasants living in the countryside. Most cannot feed their families and are constantly ripped off by landlords, corrupt officials, dirty politicians and moneylenders. Different castes and ethnic groups face systematic discrimination. Women are suppressed and treated as inferior and unequal in every facet of society. The whole country is subordinate to, dependent on, and dominated by India and imperialist countries like the United States. A corrupt and reactionary government has done little, if anything, to address basic problems of food, water, sanitation, and health care.

Addressing any one of these problems requires tearing up and discarding all the economic, social and political relationships within Nepalese society and between Nepal and other countries.

This is what the People’s War in Nepal aims to do. And you can see the outlines of a new revolutionary society in the territory controlled by the Maoists.

In liberated base areas, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is leading millions of people to radically change their lives and themselves. Land seized from corrupt officials and cruel landlords has been redistributed and there are beginning forms of collective farming. Women own land for the first time. Oppressed minorities have the right to practice their own languages and culture and participate equally in the new revolutionary governments. Laws and social practices that discriminate against lower castes have been done away with. Arranged marriages, polygamy, and other feudal traditions oppressive to women are no longer practiced. Wife beating and rape are severely punished by people’s courts. Women are given the right to divorce, inherit land, go to school, and fight in local militias as well as the People’s Liberation Army. There is a whole new culture and way of thinking among the people in these liberated base areas.

This is a living example of how a Maoist people’s war mobilizes the masses to fight with the aim of taking power into their own hands and building a whole new society that really digs at the deep economic, social, and political inequalities laid down and enforced by feudalism and capitalism.

All has all been possible because the armed struggle against the Royal Nepalese Army, has allowed the revolutionary forces to seize political power in liberated base areas—which has allowed them to establish new forms of people’s government. Now, to fully implement such revolutionary changes throughout Nepalese society, it will require overthrowing the current ruling class and seizing nationwide power.

The Maoists in Nepal now control about 80 percent of the countryside. But India, the U.S., the UK and other powers backing the Gyanendra regime and have said straight up that the Maoist revolution in Nepal cannot be allowed to win. And there is a real danger of invasion by the Indian Army, some kind of UN-sponsored troops, or even the U.S. military.

The U.S. has supplied the King Gyanendra government—a straight-up monarchy that is murdering, torturing, and unjustly arresting thousands of people—with millions of dollars, thousands of M-16s, night-vision and communication equipment, and special-forces counterinsurgency training. American soldiers have conducted joint training exercises in Nepal with the Royal Nepalese Army.

All those who oppose the madness of U.S. war and oppression around the world should oppose U.S. intervention in Nepal. And all those who dream of, and want a new liberated world should support the People’s War in Nepal.

Dispatches From the People’s War in Nepal by Li Onesto

(Pluto Press and Insight Press, 2005)

In 1999, Li Onesto traveled deep into the guerrilla zones of Nepal where a Maoist revolution has been raging since 1996. Allowed unprecedented access, she interviewed political leaders, guerrilla fighters, villagers in areas under Maoist control, and relatives of those killed by government forces. Illustrated with photographs, Dispatches provides a vivid picture of the new people’s governments and courts, the redistribution of land, new cultural and social practices, and the emergence of a new outlook among the people.

Dispatches is available from:

Pluto Press, 345 Archway Road, London N6 5AA, plutobooks.com

University of Michigan Press, 839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48106, press.umich.edu/

Insight Press, 4064 N. Lincoln Avenue, #264 Chicago, IL 60618, insight-press.com

amazon.com and Revolution Books stores and outlets.

Go to lionesto.net for photos, articles, reviews, and speaking engagements.

Contact Li Onesto at: lio@lionesto.net


Ominous Ruling in Padilla Case

Revolution #015, September 25, 2005, posted at revcom.us

José Padilla is a U.S. citizen being held in indefinite detention, without charges, as part of the “War on Terror.” On September 9, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that the President has no right to detain, as an “enemy combatant,” a U.S. citizen arrested in the U.S. in a civilian setting. The Appeals Court ruling wiped out the lower court ruling, again stripping Padilla of rights long considered fundamental—the right to a lawyer, to confront witnesses, or even to know what charges are being brought against you.

The response of major U.S. mainstream newspapers gives a sense of the enormity of what is at stake here. The Citizen-Times newspaper in Asheville, North Carolina opined that “If the detention of José Padilla is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the United States will have slipped dangerously closer to being a police state.” The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wrote that “All Americans should be terrified and outraged by the proposition that the federal government can safely be entrusted with the power to arrest U.S. citizens in this country and hold them in prison indefinitely—perhaps even for life —without even filing (much less proving) criminal charges against them.”

USA Today criticized the Appeals Court ruling as “shocking,” and warned that this ruling not only upheld what has been—and is continuing to be done—to Padilla, in terms of holding him without charges or trial, without the right to due process or any rights at all, in essence, but went further and “universalized” this. As the USA Today’s editorial put it:

"The Court said Congress has given the president authority to order the jailing of anyone anywhere for as long as he wishes, as long as he claims it’s connected to the war on terrorism.

"That sounds more like the power accorded a dictator than the president of the United States. Repeal of the Con-stitution’s Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments wasn’t part of the package when Congress passed that anti-terrorism resolution after the 9/11 attacks....

“But if Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested on U.S. soil, can be held indefinitely without being charged, then no one’s liberty is secure.”

While the Appeals Court ruling will no doubt be appealed further, it must be soberly understood that precedents are being set that can and will—if not turned back by struggle that takes on the whole agenda that they are a part of—be used against progressive forces in general, and especially revolutionary forces.

As Martin Neimoller, a German pastor imprisoned by Hitler from 1937 to 1945, put it:

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

"Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

"Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

"Then then came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

“Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

The editorial comments from establishment newspapers highlight how draconian things have become. They also point to the rifts, fissures, and openings that can erupt in the status quo when rights that have been considered basic for centuries are torn up. All this further underlines the urgency and stakes of grasping and acting on the extremity of these times, and fighting to pull something radically positive out of them.