Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

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The Alito Hearings: Jubilation of the Fascists and Anger of the People

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

People expected last week’s Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito to be a major political clash. But the political battle people hoped for did not materialize. By week’s end, two things stood out.

One, Alito’s ascendancy to the Court would, as feared, mark a serious leap in the fascist remaking of the legal system.

And two, the political polarization in this country has to change, and change very quickly.

Why the Theocrats Cheered

The heavyweights turned out in force on the eve of the hearings, at "Justice Sunday III." Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Tony Perkins--as well as the third-ranking Republican senator, Rick Santorum--went to the church of Black preacher and sell-out Herbert Lusk. This unholy bunch insists that the law should be based on the tenets of an extremely reactionary variant of Christian fundamentalism. And these Christian fascists believe they’ve found a savior--or at least a tool--in Samuel Alito.

Listen to Falwell: "What we've worked on for 30 years, to mobilize people of faith and values in this country, is coming to consummation right now. . . Now we're looking at something that really started 30 years ago, a reconstruction of a court system gone awry."

Then, on the first day of hearings, theocratic Republican senators Cornyn of Texas, Brownback of Kansas and Coburn of Oklahoma weighed in. They expressed their firm expectation that Alito would reverse the current Supreme Court on the separation of church and state, the right to abortion, and the right of gay people not to be jailed for consensual sexual activity.

Over the next several days, the cause for the jubilation and confidence of the Christian fascists would become clear.

Alito Sticks By His Reactionary Opinions

It’s not, as some said, that Alito dodged the questions or said nothing. More accurately, what he didn’t say said plenty. Alito refused to say that Roe vs Wade--the decision upholding a woman’s right to abortion--is "settled law." On the basis of this testimony many commentators summed up that, should he get on the Court, Alito will fight to overturn Roe.

Alito has a particularly ugly history on abortion. Writing in 1985 as a functionary in the Reagan Justice Department, Alito devised a strategy to undercut Roe by putting legal restrictions on abortion and getting the courts to uphold those, rather than tackling Roe head-on. Then, after Roe had been hollowed out, conditions would be better to overturn the decision altogether. And again, Alito did NOT disavow the memo on this during the hearings.

Promoted to the appeals court a few years later, Alito infamously fought to uphold the Pennsylvania law that would have forced married women who sought abortions to notify their husbands. (This opinion was directly opposed by the Supreme Court ruling on the case.) Kate Michelman, the former head of NARAL, gave powerful and moving testimony to the committee about what it meant for her, as a mother of three children, to be forced to ask the husband who had abandoned her for his permission to terminate her pregnancy. Now the man who would blithely force women to do this--and who would actually try to eliminate the right to abortion altogether--stands ready to join the highest court in the land. And this at a time when the Bush regime drives relentlessly to restrict and eventually outlaw abortion and to promote and strengthen patriarchal male domination generally.

Nor did Alito disavow at the hearing his earlier backing for the doctrine of "unitary executive"--a doctrine which invests extraordinary and, in some interpretations, supreme power in the presidency. He did not criticize his earlier arguments defending Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell for illegal wiretaps, which maintained that the members of the executive--"the President’s men"--could not be prosecuted for civil damages. This too at a time when Bush openly violates the law on wiretapping and implies that his critics are guilty of treason.

Finally, Alito did not disavow his 1985 statement saying that he had taken up constitutional law specifically in opposition to earlier Supreme Court decisions, including those overturning some of the ways in which Black people had been denied the right to vote. (These decisions had been made as concessions to the civil rights movement and Black liberation struggle.) Alito now says he had been misinterpreted, or that he worded things poorly, and that "of course" he believes in "one person, one vote" in general--but he never disavowed his earlier statement on what drove him to take up constitutional law and he continues to balk when this principle is actually applied in practice. And again--this under a regime that systematically disfranchises Black voters and attempts to illegally cement Republican dominance.

Alito’s Racist Codewords

Almost equally important were Alito’s opening remarks, especially his attacks on the antiwar students where he went to college, at Princeton. He characterized them as "very privileged people behaving irresponsibly" and drew "a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw on the campus and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community."

Two points. First, those students were fighting for justice, often braving attacks from police and National Guard. They were principled and courageous, not irresponsible--and we need more of this today. Second, and perhaps more important, Alito adopted here the rhetoric and imagery of the so-called "hard-hat" movement of the time. These were people, mostly from the better-paid sections of the working class, small businessmen, and the police, who joined together in violent attacks not only against antiwar demonstrators, but even more so against Black people attempting to integrate housing and schools.

Some commentators covered that up, while making a big deal of how Alito represented the "hard-working and responsible white ethnics." In fact, Alito represents a fascist section of the ruling class, and has devoted his life to that. But in his hearing appearance he tried to appeal to and mobilize the narrow and backward section of "white ethnics" who went along with the racism and reaction and still do, as opposed to the significant section that broke with it then and are dissatisfied and angry with the fascist direction of politics now.

(A further irony in this remark is that Alito himself joined a group that was indeed over-privileged and irresponsible--the Concerned Alumni of Princeton. This bunch defended their privilege by attacking affirmative action for Black people and the very presence of women and gay people on campus! Alito was proud enough of his membership to list it on his job application in 1985--and then claimed at the hearings to have no memory of the group’s specific positions!)

Democrats Make a Show, But Ease Alito’s Way

But while the hard right fascists strutted and brayed, the Democratic opposition fumbled and bumbled. Everybody had figurd on a showdown. But where was the Democratic senator who gave any sense of that?

Put it this way. If you saw a boxer come into the ring for a very important fight, one that could mean a shot at the championship, and you noticed that he or she was out of shape in the first place, and then only threw a few lackluster jabs . . . and if you saw the fighter refuse to go in for the kill when some of those jabs somehow landed . . . and if at the end the boxer seemed almost relieved when the ref called a TKO and ruled her or him out of the running for the championship--well, you’d figure that either that fighter had not believed that they had the stuff to be champ in the first place, or else they had thrown the fight. Or both.

And that pretty much describes the Democrats. Where was the Democrat who said, "Hey, look, answer the question straight, or I’m filibustering!" Where was the Democrat who said, "Can’t remember the positions of that racist sexist organization, my ass! You put it down on your job application in 1985. Now tell the truth, and remember you’re under oath." More than that: where was the Democrat who clearly called out the stakes--that Alito’s elevation to the court would amount to a major step toward fascism, and nothing less, and that it had to be opposed with extraordinary measures?


This doesn’t come from stupidity or weakness or lack of sophistication, as some commentators speculated. It comes from the top Democrats’ position in the current power structure, and how they see their role and their options in regard to that. In some significant respects, they do not like the Bushian moves toward all-out theocratic fascism. But this opposition is, at best, partial: the top Democrats still oppose withdrawal from Iraq, still support the Patriot Act, and increasingly adopt or concede to the Christian fascist terms on abortion, the separation of church and state, and other key issues.

Even to the extent they may oppose the Bush program, the Democratic leaders fear even more that the masses will come into the streets against it. Those who wish to write or lobby their Congressmen could save themselves the trouble, as these "representatives" are well aware of how angry people are. They simply do not want to do anything that might risk politically uncorking that anger, lest those whom they consider "their base" might go into the streets--and out of their control. So they say and do just enough to look as if they’re trying. . . while they play for time and string people along.

Be they Democrat or Republican, the loyalty of those at the top of the "pyramid of power" lies, above all, to the preservation of imperialism. They may have different views on how to do that and different roles to play in doing it, but do it they will. And the Alito hearings show it.

The Anger Must Be Mobilized

Meanwhile, millions were infuriated by these hearings. The accompanying article "Monday, Bloody Monday" and the photo and caption on the Grand Lakes Theater benefit in California give a sense of that. So do the e-mails we’ve received from new readers expressing tremendous anguish over the direction of society and urgently asking what to do.

Like we said, the anger is there. The question is whether it can find effective organized political expression. And the answer is "yes, if."

Yes, if people refuse to be confined by what the top Democrats will do or call for. Yes, if people will join in with and strengthen the initiatives being taken that actually call out the gravity of the situation and mobilize people to act against it. Yes, if people take to heart the understanding that the Bush regime faces serious problems and there is a huge potential because of that to dramatically change the equation by standing up and stepping out. And yes, if people also grasp that by doing nothing we guarantee that Bush will weather these problems and that the fascist future people fear will come to its ugly fruition.

All that means that there is work to do by those who do understand just what is up.

It is not enough to seethe, and it is definitely not enough to just hope that the Democrats will take action, or even to pressure them. Even if you believe in the Democrats, you have to recognize that they will never do anything at all unless and until they fear that you, and people like you, are "getting out of hand." What do the Alito hearings show, if not that?

Above all, people must break out of the confines set and enforced by those on top. Right now this pivots around mobilizing others, and committing yourself, to the mass political actions called on the occasion of Bush’s State of the Union address--actions demanding that Bush step down and take his program with him. The more that people take this up, now, the more that every force in society can be compelled to move, and the more we can change the whole dynamic and direction of things.

As for the Alito nomination, it is not over. There is disappointment, but there is also anger. Demonstrations, public meetings, and other anti-Alito activities during the next week should be supported and strengthened in their own right, and should also help feed into making the actions set for the State of the Union as powerful and massive as possible.

As we have said, this January is a crucial juncture. Every day must count, and count for a lot. The anger that exists so broadly, the anger that is building with each day, must be given massive and powerful political expression.


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The Christian Fascists and the U.S. Military

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

Editors Note: The following are excerpts drawn from a talk given by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, to a group of Party members and supporters in 2005. This has been edited for publication here, and subheads and footnotes have been added.

There are some things that I wanted to bring out that have to do particularly in today's situation with the relation between the Christian Fascists and the military, and the unity between the Christian Fascist fundamentalist outlook and the bourgeois military outlook, and the mutual reinforcement of these things in today's world particularly. In this connection I recently read a book by Andrew J. Bacevich, called The New American Militarism: How Americans are Seduced by War. Bacevich, himself a graduate of West Point and a Vietnam war veteran, is now a professor of international relations at Boston University, and at least in reading this book it seems that he speaks from a more or less "liberal imperialist" point of view. But he speaks to a number of very important questions, having to do particularly, although not only, with this interconnection, or mutual "symbiotic" reinforcement, between the bourgeois military view in general and the Christian Fascist fundamentalist viewpoint.

Now, perhaps ironically, Bacevich seems to deny, or at least to underestimate, the extent to which right-wing Christian fundamentalism has taken hold within the officer corps of the U.S. military itself. In fact, this can be seen in all kinds of ways -- not just with the example of General Jerry Boykin,1 but the massive proselytizing that's going on by Christian fundamentalists within the U.S. military right now, including in Iraq. 1 Now, bourgeois commentators, and so on, are all wrong when they constantly repeat: "there are no atheists in foxholes." For one thing, there have been millions of atheists in foxholes already, especially (although not only) communists. But, if you are seeing things and thinking within the bourgeois framework, there is a reason why, when you get into war, not only religion in general but more specifically religious fundamentalism might have a certain appeal. And with the U.S. military in Iraq now, you see these mass baptisms taking place in Baghdad and other places, in the Tigris River or wherever. So Bacevich underestimates, not to say outright denies, the extent to which right-wing Christian fundamentalism has taken hold within the military -- and in particular, in a concentrated way, within the officer corps of the U.S. military -- but he does provide some important insights into the way in which there is a mutually beneficial, and reinforcing, relationship between what we recognize as the general bourgeois-reactionary mentality and "ethos" of the U.S. military, particularly its leadership and officer corps, on the one hand, and Christian fundamentalism, on the other hand, which we very correctly identify as Christian Fascism, in its reactionary political expression.

 Among other important observations in The New American Militarism, Bacevich points out that with the Christian fundamentalists there has been developed what he calls a "crusade theory of warfare" [p. 131]; and that, as he puts it, "in their advocacy of preventive war [even before 9/11], Christian conservatives were merely a little ahead of their time." [p. 132] In other words, even before this was explicitly adopted as a doctrine by the Bush regime, Christian Fascists had already articulated preventive war as a theory of war, particularly when waged by the U.S. And further, Bacevich speaks to how, in the eyes of the Christian Fascists, "For some countries -- those designated for special roles in God's programs of salvation, the usual rules [of war, and in particular the rules of ‘just war’] do not apply." [p. 134]. Bacevich notes that "some countries" includes Israel as well as the U.S.,2 and one way to look at what is happening in the world today is that, with the Bush regime, the U.S., in pronouncing and applying its doctrine of preventive war, is applying to itself now overtly, on a global scale, what Israel has always applied to itself on a regional scale -- namely, "the rules don't apply to us."2

Bacevich links this to a longer-term "abiding religious sensibility that has informed America's image of itself and of its providential mission." [p. 122]. As one example of this, we can recall Reagan speaking of America as a "shining city on the hill." This has always been suffused with religious notions (even when it wasn't explicitly expressed that way): the notion that there is something about god's providence and god's will that is particularly expressed in America, and not only America itself but America's mission in the world ("America's image of itself" and "its providential mission," as Bacevich puts it).

Bacevich goes on to situate this more specifically in the great divide that opened in U.S. society through the 1960s --which, as I have spoken to, has yet to be resolved fully, one way or another (and this has to do with the whole question of the coming civil war). Bacevich writes:

"The calamity triggered by Vietnam and the 1960s -- in the eyes of those who viewed that calamity as one that persisted long after the fall of Saigon -- had several dimensions. It was a foreign policy crisis but also a domestic crisis. It was a cultural crisis but also a moral one. It touched on matters that were immediate and personal -- family and the relationship of men to women, for example -- while also raising profound questions about national purpose and collective identity. No group in American society felt more keenly the comprehensive nature of this crisis than did Protestant evangelicals."

And I would add here that these vague and somewhat "inchoate" (or not well and fully formed) feelings were seized on by conscious right-wing imperialist operatives and systematized into a fascist -- and, in particular, Christian Fascist -- outlook and political force. These feelings might have remained more scattered and diffuse had not a section of the ruling class seen it in its interests, and seen the need as well as the potential, to "cohere" and organize this -- raise it to a more conscious level, give it a fuller and more comprehensive and systematic expression, and organize it into a political movement. But continuing with the observations by Bacevich, he goes on: "It was here, among committed Christians dismayed by the direction that the country appeared to be taking, that the reaction to Vietnam as a foreign policy failure and to Vietnam as a manifestation of cultural upheaval converged with greatest effect." [p. 123]

This is, I believe, a very important statement to ponder. And speaking to the mutually supporting relationship between these Christian fundamentalists and the military, Bacevich writes: "at least some evangelicals looked to the armed services to play a pivotal role in saving America from internal collapse." Now here, let me say, he doesn't mean this just in a military sense, but in an ideological sense, as well. He goes on: "In a decadent and morally confused time, they [many Christian fundamentalists] came to celebrate the military itself as a bastion of the values required to stem the nation's slide toward perdition: respect for tradition, an appreciation for order and discipline, and a willingness to sacrifice self for the common good" -- of course, in the framework of bourgeois relations and ideology. And Bacevich goes on: "In short, evangelicals looked to soldiers to model the personal qualities that citizens at large needed to rediscover if America were to reverse the tide of godlessness and social decay to which the 1960s had given impetus." And, at the same time, he notes: "Militant evangelicals imparted religious sanction to the militarization of U.S. policy and helped imbue the resulting military activism with an aura of moral legitimacy." [p. 124] So here we can see how this is a mutually reinforcing relationship, even leaving aside the fact that Bacevich underestimates the degree to which Christian Fascist ideology has taken hold within the U.S. military and particularly its officer corps.

Now again, it is important to emphasize that this process that Bacevich refers to was not as "spontaneous" as he presents it, but was in fact encouraged, systematized, organized and given leadership by very conscious operatives of the imperialist system, and in particular of the more right-wing sections of that ruling class (using those general terms). But what has been cited here from Bacevich does give a real sense of the "hard core" that characterizes not only the imperialist ruling class generally at this time but also the U.S. imperialist military in particular. And this helps give an even clearer sense of, on the one hand, the great importance of recognizing what I was just speaking to and emphasizing -- that is, the dialectical and mutually reinforcing "interplay" between military and political (and ideological) factors --and, at the same time, of creating a political (and ideological) repolarization that reaches into every part of U.S. society, including the bastions of reaction and of reactionary power, "peeling away" people from within these sectors and institutions, particularly those whose objective interests do not really lie with this fascist core of the ruling class, and with the imperialist system itself.


1. Wearing his uniform, Boykin declared during a church service that Bush was “in the White House because God put him there for such a time as this.” He has also made other outrageous statements—like saying, in relation to the U.S. occupation of Somalia and war against Islamic forces there, that “my God was bigger than his.”After these statements caused a major controversy, the Bush administration promoted him to the position of deputy undersecretary of defense.

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2. In "The Pyramid of Power" Bob Avakian speaks to the contradiction that, on the one hand, Christian fundamentalism and a literalist interpretation of the Bible have historically led to extreme anti-Semitism, linked to the view of the Jewish people as "the killers of Christ," yet in today's world Israel plays a particularly important role, for U.S. imperialism generally and specifically in the program of those grouped in and around the Bush regime. Chairman Avakian points out that the Christian fascist "reconciliation" of this contradiction lies in the promotion of the belief that the existence of present-day Israel plays a crucial part in the unfolding of the "second coming" of Jesus and the triumph of God's kingdom, and therefore Israel must be defended at all costs. In fact, as also pointed out in "The Pyramid of Power" and elsewhere, the Christian Fascists are among the most fanatical adherents of not only Israel's right to exist but its right to forcefully extend its border and to suppress, as viciously as necessary, any resistance among the Palestinian people. See "Elections, Resistance, and Revolution: The Pyramid of Power and the Struggle To Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down," Revolutionary Worker #1237 (April 25, 2004). This article is a transcription of an answer to a question following Bob Avakian's speechRevolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About (Chicago: Three Q Productions, 2004). It also appears in the pamphletThe Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era by Bob Avakian (Chicago: RCP Publications, 2005).

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"A Leap of Faith" and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods

Part 2: The Leap From Perceptual to Rational Knowledge

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

This is the second article in a 3-part series. Part 1, "Religion Is Religion, Communism Is Scientific," appeared in Revolution #28. This article was written by Bob Avakian in response to a letter that was sent to him that attacked communism and argued against the scientific viewpoint and method, insisting that atheism is just another form of religion. Chairman Avakian addresses a number of points in that letter but focuses on the fundamental difference between a communist and scientific outlook and method on the one hand and, on the other hand, a religious worldview which relies on "leaps of faith."

Originally published in Revolution #10, this article is available in its entirety online at

Organize discussions groups at your school, neighborhood, and workplace to study and wrangle over this crucial article! Send in your comments and questions – online at or by regular mail to RCP Publications (P.O. Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654-0486).

As Mao Tsetung pointed out in his important philosophical works, such as "On Practice," in the gaining (or accumulation) of knowledge by people, there are two basic stages: The first is the stage of perceptual knowledge, and the second stage is that of rational knowledge. And arriving at the second stage, of rational knowledge, not only involves and requires building on what is learned through the first (perceptual) stage but also making a leap in systematizing what is perceived: identifying the "patterns" in what is perceived and the essential character and basic identity of things that lie beyond the outward appearance of things. Getting into this further, and using some examples from "everyday life" can help illustrate this fundamental point. It can make more clear the fundamental difference between the actual acquiring of rational knowledge, through a leap from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge, and a religious "leap of faith" which does not, and cannot, lead to rational knowledge.

As Mao also pointed out, when we first encounter anything, we see it in only a partial and scattered way, observing some of its features but not what "ties them together"--what is the essential character of something, which gives to that thing its identity as such--and how it is both different from and at the same time relates to other things. This is the stage of simply perceiving something, of perceptual knowledge. For example, many people who are not "into football" have commented that, in looking at a game of football (on television, for example) it just appears that a lot of very bulked-up guys, wearing a lot of strange equipment, are running around and violently banging into and jumping in piles on each other! But, if you watch football for a while and persevere in attempting to grasp what is actually going on, you can begin to see the "patterns" involved, and the "rules" and "laws" that actually govern and give shape and identity to what is happening. Football fans are familiar with the basic nature and essential character of the game, with its "rules" and "laws," and can readily offer all kinds of opinions and judgements about what is going on, based on an understanding of all this. But, of course, when such fans first started watching football themselves, they were not familiar with all this and it seemed to them, too, to be a bunch of random, arbitrary and "disjointed" activity. So what is involved in moving from that to an understanding of the nature of this game and its governing "rules" and "laws" is a matter of accumulating more and more perceptual knowledge and then making a leap,"putting this together" and systematizing it--analyzing it and making a synthesis of what is at the heart of it, what are the key "patterns" involved and what "ties it all together" and gives this game its character as "football." Now, quite often this actual leap, from perceptual to rational knowledge, goes on largely unconsciously after a certain point--in many cases, the person involved is not aware of consciously making this leap to rational knowledge--but it is a real leap nonetheless and leads to a higher form of understanding, rational knowledge. (Whether it is worth it to engage in the process and effort of moving from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge with regard to football is, of course, something that is culturally and socially influenced, and also involves matters of personal preference within that context--and I will not offer any opinions or judgements about this, one way or the other, here!)

But let’s contrast this kind of leap--a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge of real things --to a "leap of faith." Let us imagine someone saying, "I don’t have to watch football, or listen to explanations about it, I can come to understand it because ’god will reveal it to me.’" That would be putting forward a "leap of faith" as the way to acquire knowledge of something (in this case football). But, in fact, this kind of "leap" will not lead to actual knowledge of real things, nor can it be tested by applying means and methods that relate to the actual world of real things--there is no way to test that person’s assertion that "god will reveal" this knowledge to them, there can be no evidence of this, outside of their own claim about it. But I certainly wouldn’t advise you to be guided by that kind of "knowledge," supposedly arrived at through that kind of "leap of faith," if you are going to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to bet on football games!

Let’s take another example: a trial in which someone is accused of robbery. The prosecutor will try to present evidence (witness testimony and/or other evidence) which shows that the defendant was at the place where the robbery occurred, at the time it occurred, and perhaps that the defendant was found in possession of a weapon that is very much like (or even identical to) the weapon used in the robbery, and so on. On the other side, the defense may try to show (through witness testimony, etc.) that the defendant was somewhere else entirely at the time the robbery occurred, and/or that the weapon the defendant was found with is in fact a different weapon than the one used in the robbery, and so on. When the jury moves to render a verdict, they will be called on to make a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge--to "sift through" the testimony and other facts and get to the essence of what is shown by that evidence. Of course, the jury may do this poorly--they may be influenced by prejudices, particularly against the defendant, and/or they may simply make a mistake in their attempt to determine the "patterns" and the "essential reality" of what has been presented to them--but that does not change the fact that what is required, what they are called on to do, is precisely to make a leap from facts presented (testimony, etc.) to a conclusion about what those facts reveal that is essential about what is at issue (whether or not the defendant committed the robbery). Once again, what is involved is a leap from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge.

If, for example, the defense presents 10 witnesses, including people who have no relation to the defendant, who testify that, at the time the robbery was committed, they are certain that they saw the defendant in a different location entirely from where the robbery occurred--and especially if the prosecution is not able to "shake" those witnesses with regard to this testimony--then it is only logical to conclude that the defendant did not commit the robbery and must be found not guilty. But the important thing, in relation to the points being discussed here, is to recognize that what is involved in arriving at that verdict is "drawing a conclusion from the facts"--which again involves and requires an actual leap from perceptual knowledge (hearing the testimony) to rational knowledge (making the determination, drawing the conclusion, that the person could not have committed the robbery). That this is the only logical conclusion that could be drawn from the facts presented may tend to "blur" the fact that there is a leap involved--that reaching this conclusion requires going beyond the mere hearing of the facts to "putting the facts together" and grasping the essence of what those facts show. And it is important to emphasize that what is involved is precisely a logical conclusion--one that is arrived at by applying logical reasoning to enable the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge.

Again, let us contrast this with a "leap of faith." If someone were sitting on the jury and they said, "I know that boy is guilty because ’The Lord told me so’"--that would be the opposite of applying logic and reason: It would be a "leap of faith," as opposed to the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge--a "leap of faith" that would fly in the face of the facts and of the logical process involved in making a radically different kind of leap: a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge. And I don’t think I have to make much of an argument that it would not be very desirable to have people on a jury who would be proceeding by making those kinds of "leaps of faith" and determining the fate of someone in that way.

Or, let’s take a final example "from everyday life." If a small child observes traffic--and especially if what is involved in the flow of traffic, etc., is explained to the child by an adult--the child will come to see, before too long, that if they step out into moving traffic, they will be badly hurt, or even killed: they will have gone from seeing what at first appears to be the random movement of vehicles, without a definite "pattern" and character, to understanding what the "pattern" and the essential character of this movement of vehicles is, and when it is safe, and not safe, to cross the street. Here again what is involved is the kind of leap from perceptual to rational knowledge that we have seen illustrated in previous examples. But if the adult instructing the child were to tell them, "It is safe to walk out in front of the moving traffic, because ’god will protect you’"--that would be, not a leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, but a "leap of faith" that flies in the face of reason and logic--and would almost certainly have terrible and tragic consequences.

Scientific Knowledge and the Scientific Method

And if this crucial difference between these two radically different kinds of leaps--the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, as opposed to a "leap of faith"--applies, and is of real importance, in "everyday life," this is so in a concentrated way with regard to scientific knowledge: knowledge that is acquired and tested through the consistent and systematic application of the scientific method--in contrast with "leaps of faith."

The scientific method involves carrying out investigations of reality, including through observation and experimentation, to accumulate facts which then are systematized into a theory which gets to what it is that these facts have in common, what patterns they reveal, and what is the essential character of what is involved. Then this theory is tested by applying it once more against the standard of what can be learned through further experimentation and observation proceeding according to this theory, to see if the results are consistently in line with what is predicted by this theory. If, in the application of this scientific method, results are obtained--things are observed or results produced through experiments, and so on--that contradict the theory; if, for example, things can be shown to happen which this theory predicts could not happen; then it must be concluded that the theory is wrong, or at least that it contains flaws (is wrong in some respects). If, however, after repeated testing, from a number of different directions and over a whole period of time, the results continue to be consistently in line with what is predicted by the theory--and no results or observations lead to facts which are in contradiction to the theory, or cannot be explained by it--then it can be concluded that this theory is correct. But, even in achieving the status of a generally accepted scientific theory, any particular theory must not only be subjected to repeated testing but it must also be subjected to review by other scientists, particularly those with knowledge and expertise in the particular field of science that the theory relates to; and if it "passes" that review--if none of these scientists can show that the theory is flawed, or simply wrong, if there are no results which can be shown to contradict the theory and its predictions about reality-- then the theory will acquire general acceptance in the scientific community as a valid and true explanation of reality (or that part of reality that the theory deals with).

Now, it is true that the development of scientific theories generally involves the formulation of initial "conjectures" and "preliminary hypotheses" about things--in other words, in a sense scientists often make "informed guesses" about the way something in reality might be, even before they can provide proof of this. But, first of all, even these preliminary hypotheses are themselves based on previously accumulated, and verified, evidence about the way reality actually is--as opposed to "leaps of faith" and religious declarations about things, which we are simply expected to believe without any concrete evidence or the prospect of ever being able to obtain such evidence. Secondly, scientists take their preliminary hypotheses and systematically test them in the real world, and only on that basis are new scientific facts generated which can then contribute to the development of generally accepted scientific theories.

Of course, scientists can, do, and have made mistakes. This has happened not only with individual scientists but at times even with the scientific community in general and those who are regarded as "experts" and "authorities" in various fields of science. Scientists are after all human beings with limitations; they live in and are part of society, and they are influenced in various ways by the ideas which prevail in society at a given time. At the same time, as further knowledge is acquired--as further experimentation and observation goes on, not only in direct relation to a particular theory but in science, and indeed in the world at large--any particular theory will be subjected to continued testing and review, and it may turn out that new things that are learned call into question parts, or in some cases even all, of a particular theory, and then the theory will have to be modified or even completely discarded. But the crucial point is this: The scientific method provides the means for continuing to investigate reality and continuing to learn more about it, and on that basis to correct mistakes that are made.

The understanding of reality that is gained, through the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge, becomes, in turn, the basis, the foundation, from which further perceptual knowledge that is accumulated is analyzed and synthesized to make further leaps of this kind (from perceptual to rational knowledge yet again...and then again...). So the acquiring of knowledge--by individuals and by society and humanity overall--is not a "one-time" thing, but an ongoing process. This applies to "everyday life" and it applies in a concentrated way with regard to the conscious and systematic application of the scientific method. This relates to another point Mao emphasized: beyond the leap from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge, there is a further leap--from rational knowledge to practice, in the course of which material reality is changed and further perceptual knowledge is gained, laying the foundation for a further leap to rational knowledge...and on...and on.

A "Leap of Faith" is a Leap Away From a True Understanding of Reality

In opposition to this, a religious worldview--which insists on a reliance on faith and "leaps of faith" instead of investigation and analysis of the real world and the leap from perceptual to rational knowledge--such a religious worldview cannot lead to a true understanding of reality, and in fact is bound to lead away from such an understanding in fundamental ways. Of course, not all people who are religious are "scriptural literalists"--who insist on an acceptance of the Bible (or some other scripture of some other religion) as the declared word of a supposed all-powerful and all- knowing supernatural being and therefore the "absolute truth." In fact, there are many religious people who accept a good deal of the conclusions of science, and there are more than a few who try to reconcile their belief in some kind of supernatural being with an acceptance of the scientific method and its results, as applied to the realm of material existence. At the same time, however, their religious viewpoint insists that there is some other realm, of non-material existence, when in fact there is not; and there has never been and could not be evidence offered for the existence of this non-material realm which could meet the test of scientific investigation. And it is a fact that even those who attempt to reconcile religious belief, of one kind or another, with a general acceptance of the scientific method and the results of applying this method, cannot consistently do so,because those religious beliefs are bound to conflict, at certain times and in certain ways, with the conclusions reached by the application of the scientific method.

Next issue, part 3: The Big Bang, Evolution, and Revolution

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U.S. War Machine... Heading Towards Iran

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

Over this past week, tensions between the U.S. and Iran got ratcheted up. Iran's government removed seals that kept Iranian scientists from accessing uranium enrichment equipment at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility. Those seals were part of a special deal that Iran's rulers made with European powers for inspection and supervision of Iran's nuclear power program--a deal that provided for much more supervision than is called for in existing international agreements governing the development of nuclear power plants. In response, European powers, including Russia, cut off their cooperation with Iran's nuclear development program.

The tension surrounding these developments comes from the fact that the U.S. and its regional enforcer, Israel, have been increasingly making threats against Iran, and a real danger of a widely escalated war in the Mid-East looms behind the charges and counter-charges surrounding Iran's nuclear program.

Readers might find it hard to imagine, given how bogged down the U.S. is in the Iraqi quagmire, that even Bush and his crew would charge off into a much wider war, with even more dangerous implications. But powerful forces within the Bush regime, as well as a powerful underlying logic, are driving events in a direction where such a conflict is a real danger.

Nuclear Thugs Cry "Nu-cu-lar Terror"

In his 2002 State of the Union speech, Bush placed Iran in the "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea. We know where that led with Iraq. In that speech, Bush said, "Iran aggressively pursues [nuclear] weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom."

Here, as with so many of Bush's accusations in the "war on terror," the hypocrisy is off the charts. Even setting aside who's calling who "election cheaters" and "implementers of domestic repression," which country is it that is right now in possession of over 10,000 nuclear warheads? And the U.S.--not Iran--has declared its right to attack anyone, anywhere with those weapons, with Bush himself having his finger on what he calls the "nu-cu-lar" trigger.

And in the Middle East, acting as a U.S. enforcer, Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal is the world's worst kept secret. Estimates by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Federation of American Scientists put the number of nuclear weapons in Israel's hands in the range of 300-400.

Iran in the Crosshairs of the Ever-Expanding "War on Terror"

One year ago, writer Seymour Hersh wrote in the New Yorker Magazine (1/24/05) that a former high-level intelligence official told him, "This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone." And the former high-level official told Hersh, "Next, we’re going to have the Iranian campaign. We’ve declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy."

As we have continually pointed out, the so-called "war on terror" is in fact a war for unchallenged U.S. domination of the planet, even while it takes the form, now, of targeting Islamic fundamentalist forces, and is focused on the Middle East. A key element of this is to lock down strategic control of the main source of world oil. In addition, Bush and his inner circle have identified the potential and need to radically tear up the status quo in the region to create more stable and reliable conditions for more brutal and efficient exploitation of the people and resources (this being the essence of Bush's calls for bringing U.S.-managed democracy to the Middle East).

Over the past few years, U.S. moves in the region have been been challenged not only by Islamic fundamentalist forces, but also in the form of complex contention with European powers like France, Russia, and also China. This contention was the main reason why the U.S. could not get the UN to endorse its war on Iraq.

Within this mix, Iran is a big factor. Iran is a large nation--three times as populous as Iraq. High oil prices have provided its rulers with cash to build up some elements of a national infrastructure, and the regime--while widely hated--has a social base, and might well be able to mobilize even sections of people who oppose it within the country in the event of an attack by Israel or the U.S.

In the 1970s, Iranians were oppressed by a brutal pro-U.S. dictator, the Shah, who was promoted by Jimmy Carter as a model of "Human Rights." During that time, Iran served as a second pillar (along with Israel) of U.S. domination in the Middle East. A nuclear-armed Iran would be a major factor in the balance of power in the region, looming over U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia, and even having the potential to challenge Israel's monopoly of nuclear terror in the region. That potential poses a problem for the U.S. agenda in the Middle East, to say the least!

The European governments have maneuvered in this mix by pushing for inspections by international agencies, while the U.S.--as one might guess--is itching to enforce gangster law in gangster style, and even with gangster rhetoric. In his New Yorker piece last year, Seymour Hersh quoted a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) saying: "The neocons say negotiations are a bad deal.... And the only thing the Iranians understand is pressure. And that they also need to be whacked."

Iran Breaks the Seal

Why did Iran move now to break off its agreement with the European powers by unsealing nuclear byproducts that they had previously agreed not to access? Iranian authorities contend that they need to do this to develop the technology to manage their nuclear facilities, instead of relying on Russia and others as they currently do. But it is also the case that access to these nuclear power byproducts is a component of developing nuclear weapon technology and expertise. Iran's rulers might feel that if a showdown must come, then sooner--while the U.S. is so bogged down in Iraq--would be better than later for them.

As Iran cut the inspection seals, Condoleezza Rice jumped on the phone to line up representatives of European powers and Russia, who are reportedly close to joining the U.S. to bring charges against Iran before the UN Security Council--a move disturbingly reminiscent of the way the U.S. attempted to align other world powers to support their invasion of Iraq.

One factor pushing the U.S. towards a clash with Iran is the way that the rise of Iran intersects the situation in Iraq. The U.S.'s goal is an Iraq that is thoroughly under U.S. domination but with enough stability and internal cohesion to act as a counterweight to Iran and something of a base area for the U.S. in the region. To say that this is not going well for them is an understatement. The scope and ferocity of resistance has compelled the U.S. to rely on and unleash Shi'a fundamentalist militias. These militias, and the puppet Iraqi army in which they play a major role, have a dual nature. They are working under U.S. sponsorship to carry out attacks on Sunni forces opposed to U.S. occupation. But they also have ties to the Shi'a theocratic regime in Iran.

Within the bigger context of conflict between the U.S.'s wild ambitions in the Middle East and the rise of Iran, the increasing influence of Iran in Iraq is a factor tending to push Bush to up the ante, roll Iran and Iraq into a big ball, and try to settle the whole situation decisively with an attack on Iran.

Holding... and Playing? The Israel Card

One form that attack might take is for the U.S. to set its regional attack dog, Israel, against Iran. Last year the British newspaper The Times reported that "Israel has drawn up secret plans for a combined air and ground attack on targets in Iran if diplomacy fails to halt the Iranian nuclear programme." The Times reported that "The inner cabinet of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, gave 'initial authorization' for an attack at a private meeting last month on his ranch in the Negev desert." That story also reported that Israeli forces used a mock-up of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment plant in the desert to practice destroying it through a combination of attacks by Israel’s Shaldag (Kingfisher) commando unit and airstrikes by F-15 jets using bunker-busting bombs to penetrate underground facilities.

Right after Bush's second term began, Vice President Dick Cheney give Israel a public "wink and nod" to attack Iran. In an interview on MSNBC (Jan, 2005), he said: "One of the concerns people have is that Israel might do it [attack Iran] without being asked... Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards,"

Deciphering this statement, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski told PBS that Cheney "in fact used language which sounds like a justification or even an encouragement for the Israelis to do it."

A Wild Mix of Contradictions

There are obvious dangers for the U.S. in an attack on Iran, even in the form of an Israeli air strike. Iran has many options for responding, and is a much larger, stronger country with a much more powerful military than Iraq was on the eve of the U.S. invasion. And Iran, along with forces it influences in the region, could strike at U.S. forces in Iraq. Congressman John Murtha has been loudly raising the alarm that the U.S. military in Iraq is 'broken." Some commentators have speculated that the emerging calls for impeachment [see "The ‘I’ Word Surfaces: New Openings and New Challenges," Revolution #30] are linked to forces in the power structure who are getting nervous about the emerging danger of war with Iran.

Overwhelmingly though, "opposition" voices in Congress and in the Democratic Party argue that even though Iraq was a "mistake," we have to "stay the course." This so-called opposition is within, and accepts an imperialist framework that cannot allow the U.S. to "lose" Iraq, much less allow the emergence of Iran as a regional power, let alone a regional nuclear power, that could tilt the balance of forces in this region.

In any event, the noise emanating from the halls of power indicates that the "Iran hawks" are at the wheel. Nobody can predict exactly how this will turn out, but a course is being set towards some form of U.S. attack on Iran, with the potential to unleash great suffering, destruction, and chaos in the region. Any moves by the U.S. against Iran must be opposed by people in the U.S. They are driven neither by a "war on terror," nor by a desire to prevent nuclear war, but by a frenzy to expand empire.

It is also important that the Iranian people, suffering under the oppressive rule of theocratic Mullahs, see a powerful movement to drive out Bush, making clear that Bush and his crew do not speak for the people in this country. That we do not accept and will not go along with this "war on terror" and instead we oppose "our own" regime. Such a movement will make a statement to the people of Iran that huge numbers of people in this country are opposed to Bush, and that terms of this conflict are not "Islam versus the Great Satan." No! Neither side in this conflict can be allowed to impose those terms as the only options in this situation.

In this context, opposing U.S. aggression against Iran helps create better conditions for progressive forces, including communist revolutionaries in Iran, to unite with the anger of the people in Iran towards the fundamentalist Mullahs, and their anger at U.S. imperialism, and lead that anger in a genuinely revolutionary direction.

Nuclear Hypocrisy

Enforcement of nuclear power development rules is about as consistent as foul-calling in the NBA, or refereeing in pro wrestling. Pakistan and India, for example, have not even signed international nuclear development treaties, and they both receive ongoing assistance in their nuclear technology development from the U.S. A World To Win News Service (10/31/05) exposed that that "Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Washington in July [2005] and signed a "strategic partnership" agreement with the U.S.. In this context, President George W. Bush promised India access to American nuclear technology. In return, Singh agreed that India would support the U.S. against Iran at the UN." That same article pointed to the hypocrisy in in the U.S. policy towards Pakistan's nuclear weapons program: "UN weapons inspectors had found traces of enriched uranium [used for making nuclear weapons] on nuclear centrifuges Iran had bought second-hand. The regime claimed it had not used them to obtain the advanced levels of enrichment necessary for making weapons. For many months the U.S. used this as its main argument why Iran should be punished. But it turned out that the traces on the centrifuges came from Pakistan’s use of them to make enriched uranium for bombs before they sold the centrifuges to Iran. Instead of criticizing Pakistan for doing what the U.S. forbids Iran to do, the U.S. dropped the whole matter. Pakistan’s Islamic military dictatorship is now also an important American ally, along with its rival India--and while the U.S. has always encouraged that rivalry to facilitate its domination of both countries, the U.S. intends to keep both regimes in its pocket."

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Global Migration, Lopsided World

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

This is the text-only from a photo spread in Revolution. Get a copy of this issue of the newspaper to see the powerful images in this article.

In a poor third world country: A family kicked off their land in the countryside ends up in the city's shantytown with no electricity, no running water, no sanitation. The mother works in a sweatshop owned by a foreign company, subjected to slave-like conditions and sexual abuse. Unable to find a job, unable to feed his family, the father hands his 14-year-old daughter to a man who promises to find her a "good job." In fact, the man is part of the international sex trade. The 10-year-old son, instead of going to school, ends up working in a factory making clothes for people in faraway countries to wear.

With no hope and no future, the father takes his family's life savings and gives it to a human smuggler who will get him into the United States or France or Germany. He finds himself in a run-down, poor neighborhood in Los Angeles, Paris, London, or New York. Hounded by the immigration authorities, he's cheated, misused, and ruthlessly exploited. Picking apples or working in a low-wage factory, living on the edge in a dilapidated apartment with five other immigrants, he sends most of his paycheck back home. He hopes someday he will see his family again.

This is life and reality for millions of immigrants, trying to survive, looking for some kind of future. If you make it past the border guards, if you're not attacked by racist vigilantes, or stopped, beaten, and jailed by the police... if you don't suffocate in a cargo container or die in the desert from dehydration... then you can live and work in the shadows, facing constant harassment and repression.


In poor countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, hundreds of millions, peasants kicked off their land and workers desperately unemployed, are forced to leave their country in search of work.

In the year 2000, 850,000 people legally immigrated to the United States, more than half from Asia or Mexico. This doesn't include illegal immigration. It is estimated there are 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S.


The workings of imperialism force people to migrate: The poor countries of the world are dominated and oppressed by a handful of rich imperialist countries. Multinational corporations pump billions of dollars into poor countries, transforming and controlling the whole way food is grown, cities are built, factories are run, and governments rule. Imperialist countries like the U.S.grow strong, powerful, and wealthy on the backs of oppressed nations. Millions are displaced by wars of imperialist aggression.

As a result, hundreds of millions of people in poor countries around the world live in dire poverty without enough food, without safe drinking water, basic sanitation, adequate housing and healthcare. Every year, worsening economic conditions compel millions to migrate in search of jobs. It is estimated that nearly 1 out of 6 people in this world, more than one billion people, are crossing national borders as migrant workers. Half of the world's people still make their living farming the land, but hundreds of millions are being kicked off their land, forced to move to cities to try and eke out a living in slums and growing shantytowns.


Millions of lives have been ruined by "fair trade" agreements and policies by international finance organizations--which are designed to bring more profit to the capitalist corporations. The World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), controlled by the U.S.and other rich countries, impose strict requirements on poor countries in exchange for badly needed loans. They demand cuts to social services, higher food prices, currency devaluations, and measures to boost export production and imports--leading to increased poverty and unemployment. The WTO Agreement on Agriculture and NAFTA have forced poor countries to open up to more agricultural imports, paving the way for large agribusinesses to buy up land, and the ruin of small family farmers who can't compete with cheap imports.

In India a devastated farmer commits suicide by eating pesticides to end his life. Another sells his kidney to feed his family.


José Antonio Villaseñor Leon, living in a town outside of Mexico City, had a hard time making ends meet and supporting his 5-year-old son, Marco Antonio. He sold his taxi and other possessions to pay smugglers for the trip across the border. On May 14, 2003, Jose and his son Marco were among 18 people who were found suffocated to death in an abandoned tractor-trailer truck in Victoria, Texas. Four were from Central America, one was from the Dominican Republic, and 13 were from Mexico. They were among dozens of people packed into the locked trailer headed for Houston.


Endless and vicious anti-immigrant laws passed by the U.S. government which criminalize and demonize undocumented immigrants have further emboldened and whipped up fascist anti-immigrant movements.

On September 30, 2005, deep in the lynching belt in Tifton, Georgia: Six Mexican immigrant men were killed. Beaten with an aluminum bat and shot. One immigrant woman was raped. Several others were critically injured. There had recently been 20 other similar incidents in this area.

20-year-old Guillermo Martínez lived just over the border from San Diego. His family says he was trying to get to Fresno, California to take a job picking fruit. On December 30, 2005, just after dark, the border patrol shot him dead. Human rights advocates report that at least four other immigrants had died in the last 15 months in run-ins with Border Patrol agents. One man fatally shot, three others drowned running away.


Where there is oppression is resistance: On July 1, 2005, a huge outpouring of 40,000 people, primarily immigrant Mexicanos, hit the streets in Chicago to oppose the anti-immigrant vigilante group, the Minutemen, and the government’s immigration policies. In May of 2001, in the town of Oldham (190 miles northwest of London), hundreds of immigrant youth from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, rebelled against police brutality and anti-immigrant attacks from the racist National Front and the rightwing British National Party. They took to the streets for three nights, throwing bricks, garbage cans, and firebombs at the police. After 9/11, protests were organized in cities throughout the U.S. against the whole way the government targeted and viciously persecuted Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants. In November 2005, in the working class suburb of Paris, Clichy-sous-Bois, after two teenagers fleeing from the police were burned to death on an electrified barbed wire fence, thousands of working class youth, largely children of Arab and African immigrants, took to the streets, night after night, for three weeks.


The basis for proletarian internationalism is more powerful than ever.

Only revolution can put an end to the lopsided world where a rich, imperialist countries dominate and oppress poor third world countries.

Only the rule of the proletariat worldwide can put an end to the oppression of nations that gives rise to the need for immigration and overcome the national divisions among the workers.

Throughout the world, immigrants, especially immigrant proletarians, must be a powerful and driving force in this revolution.

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January 9, 2006: "Monday Bloody Monday"

The World Can't Wait called for "Bloody Monday" actions around the country on January 9 to "oppose Alito's rubber-stamp approval to the Supreme Court." The following report is about how revolutionary communists took this up in the southeast ghetto section of Washington, D.C.

It’s the first day of the hearings to confirm Alito as Supreme Court Justice and while two sides square off in front of the Supreme Court, a few miles away across the bridge in Southeast D.C. --an area that is virtually all Black -- you got a glimpse of the potential for massive numbers of Black people, especially the youth, to fight for that better future.

Several people go to a transit center in SE to sell the Revolution newspaper and talk to people about the battle. We post up hand-written signs -- Abortion is Not Murder! Fetuses Are Not Babies! Women Are Not Incubators! Drive Out the Bush Regime! Join the Emancipators of Humanity! Women Hold up Half the Sky!

An organizer at a bus stop: "Without the right to abortion, women are slaves! This traditional morality that Alito and the Bush program stands for means death for women. If women can’t decide fundamental questions about their own lives, like when to have children, they are reduced to slaves!"

Someone shouts back: "She shouldn’t have opened her legs!"

In response to this another woman says: "I used to think that way -- until I needed an abortion. If I ain’t got say-so about this then I don’t really got much say about a lot of things. It would be a terrible thing if they can stop abortions."

Then some youth gather, from different schools and different neighborhoods. They greet each other joyfully with hugs. They laugh loud, talk shit, clown around, being seen. Ten cop cars are on the scene. The system has a future for these youth: prison and punishment. And the Bush regime has added its own "Christian Fascist" twist, which includes a strong element of genocide.

But these youth have the potential to fight for a different future, and to play a crucial role in changing the whole direction of society – right now.

One of the organizers selling the Revolution shouts out to the youth about the upcoming demonstrations against the Bush regime in D.C on January 31 and February 4. "Bush has to step down!"

One of the youth, Danny, turns around. "Yeah! He need to! Yeah!" He takes a stack of leaflets and with no discussion steps into the crosswalk, agitating. At first the other youth ridicule Danny, and ask is he getting paid for this. But Danny stands in a crowd of 30 or 40, debating and struggling with them to take up the flyers and posters.

"Bush let the people die in that flood in New Orleans. You saw it! All them people calling for help! You heard ‘em! Bush killed them people down there! Bush got to go!"

He runs out into the intersection, and puts posters and flyers on the windshields of the puzzled motorists stopped at the traffic light. Soon two or three other youth join him. He tapes the posters up on the walls. Soon several other youth go into the streets, handing out leaflets, and putting them on the windshields of the cars stopped at the light.

The cops pull up and try to disperse the crowd of 35 kids on the corner. A chant goes up: "Fuck Bush!" Everyone is laughing and chanting: "Fuck Bush!" Then it becomes a rhythmical chant "Fuck Bush!... Fuck Bush!" Another part of the crowd starts up "Fuck the police!" and this chant gets taken up enthusiastically for a few beats until it returns to "Fuck Bush!...Fuck Bush!" The cops are off guard and irrelevant. The cars are honking. The youth have turned it into a march and it’s really powerful. They appear to be twice their number and they all head off together and take the intersection, stopping both lines of cars, and the chant turns into "Bush Step Down! Bush Step Down!"

They hold the signs over their heads and look at themselves in amazement. "Bush Step Down!"

They march into the transit center station chanting with their posters held high. People getting off work at first look startled -- and then, electrified. They take posters and flyers and exit the station holding "Bush Step Down" posters over their heads and with wide smiles across their faces.

The atmosphere was now electrified with politics. And with the masses beginning to take matters into their own hands. The actions of the youth had helped push the discussions that had been going on all afternoon about abortion, communism, religion, the liberation of women, the Bush regime and a dozen other things to a whole new level of engagement. And in the flurry of the posters going up and the spirited discussion, you could see and hear an inkling of a different future.

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Taking Willie “Mobile” Shaw to D.C.

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

Editor’s note: The Revolutionary Communist Speaking Tour has hit Washington, D.C., “challenging and inspiring especially those in the ghettos and barrios to rise up . . . and to join the communist cause to emancipate all of humanity.” The following correspondence came from a veteran comrade working with the Tour there.

The Chairman’s statement on the death of Comrade Willie "Mobile" Shaw and the Joe Veale tribute [see Revolution #27, December 18, 2005] came at a particularly difficult time. I was struggling through line questions and orientation and taking on some very new and challenging assignments. I was not discouraged but feeling a little overwhelmed.

I didn't know Willie but it was very apparent that this was a comrade who fought with everything he had to understand and take to others the most advanced and correct understanding. Are we communists always looking to the horizon and fighting for the highest interests of the people? Or are we out to tell people what they want to hear or something palatable? I happened to be around other comrades who knew Mobile personally. They could relate anecdotes about how he fought through difficulties to do this, and did not allow his personal situation or objective conditions to prevent him from reaching and striving for the most from himself and others – for the sake of the masses of people of the world. This quality stands out in a world where too many people seem to give in to cynicism or blame the masses in some ways for their condition. In this way he was representing what it means to strive for our organization to be a party of Bob Avakian. There is a particular message out there broadly for the masses to step into Mobile's shoes but frankly, all comrades, veterans and "not so veteran," need to strive to do so as well.

I've talked to a few people from among the proletariat who've been intrigued by this statement in the sense that they ask, "Who is he?" and when I've read to those people the first few lines of this statement they've said that they've "wanted to be part of something like this." More than a few assumed that Willie had been murdered by the enforcers for his revolutionary politics. They say, "How did they kill him?" or "I didn't hear about this, when did they kill him?" I explain what I've heard from others – that he'd been ill for quite some time and that, despite the hardships of this illness, Willie never let this keep him from fighting for a better world. I've explained how he lived his life and what his example means for how the people can strive to work for and be about something more than this dog-eat-dog way of life that's propagated by this system. I particularly pointed out how this orientation was for the people of the world and not just for one race or nation or just for this community. This has been most challenging to folks who, even the best of whom tend to put things in the terms of our "people." This was always challenging to people.

This statement gets right to the core of many of the things that people are thinking about and agonizing over. One example sticks out to me. I'm used to particularly religious people saying stuff like, "I'm leaving it all in god's hands!" Some of these folks say this in anger coming from a more backward place believing that we communists are demons or apostates of hell. Others are actually friendly. The latter are sympathetic and aware of the nature of this oppressive system but they have consciously chosen to surrender. Some people are like the latter group but respond like the former.

I encountered a Black woman of around 50 years old about a week ago who very angrily yelled at me that we needed to leave it all to god! "I'm good!!! I ain't got nothin' to worry about because all this is in HIS HANDS!!!"

I told her that she needed to stop believing this nonsense! Stop letting things happen to us and take responsibility for the future yourself! I approached her and just began telling her about Willie Shaw. She continued to yell at me but I went ahead and told her she needed to listen if she had an open mind at all. She did listen. I read to her the passages mentioned above and went on to tell her that there's millions of people like Willie who, if they were conscious and armed with an understanding of how the real world works and began to act on that understanding, could fight for a different future. The world could be a much different and better place.

This woman broke down in tears when I told her that our Chairman was challenging people like her to live like this and fight for this different and better future, stepping into Willie's shoes. She started telling me that she had recently lost her apartment, and her brother and niece, all the family she had in the world, had been killed due to neglect in some industrial accident and she didn't have the power or ability to fight the case. "I'm angry all the time at everything! All I know is that I see all this stuff going up for white people and our people ain't got nothing and are getting less and less and ain't nobody telling us what to do about it. I want to thank you for telling me about this because I needed to hear it."

I don't know what I expected but this reversal was remarkable to me. At one time I would have assumed that anyone coming at me with her attitude was just some religious zealot. At best I would figure that I could argue with this person to expose their ridiculous backwardness. In this case I exposed it to her. I gave her a DVD sampler and several copies of the paper which she said she'd give to others at the place where she now lives. She pointed out where she lives. She had no money and said she'd give something the next time I saw her.

This was the most pointed experience I've had in taking this out. It does illustrate in general how what we're saying is important to the masses and taken seriously by them. We should not underestimate the ability of people to take this up.

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At the White House Gates: Delegation Delivers Indictments Charging Bush with Crimes Against Humanity

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

On Tuesday, January 10, the Bush administration was served with five indictments charging crimes against humanity. With purpose and determination, a delegation from the Bush Crimes Commission went up to the White House gates to deliver the indictments. The delegation included former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, authors William Blum and Larry Everest, and members of After Downing Street, Code Pink, Democracy Rising, Progressive Democrats of America, Spirit House, and World Can't Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime!

On January 20-22 in New York City, the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity by the Bush Administration will convene its final tribunal session to present witnesses, experts, and documentary evidence on the five indictments. Witnesses include Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinksi (the former Army Reserve brigadier general who was in charge of Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison and who says the torture of detainees was ordered by higher-ups); Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan; Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector; Dahr Jamail, a journalist who has reported extensively from Iraq, and many others. (Go online to for updates and details.)

It is highly significant when people like Janis Karpinski speak out against the Bush regime. Her witness testimony at the Tribunal will be a major event that nobody will want to miss.

"We delivered those indictments because we're not going to be obedient Germans," Ray McGovern told Revolution. "Back in the '30s they hunkered down and hoped that Hitler and the Nazis would just go away. They didn't do the kind of thing we did in D.C. on Tuesday, and what we'll continue to do. Unlawful wiretapping and spying, Iraq and the torture and detentions, and on and on. This can't go down unopposed, and I do wonder about the number of months we still have before they try to come after us for what we're doing."

White House personnel refused to take the indictment papers from the delegation, on grounds of "security." When the delegates explained that the envelope containing the indictments was open so that the contents could easily be checked, the White House personnel said, "We're not authorized to accept any material for the president from the public."

Moments later, a police hazardous materials (hazmat) squad showed up in a large van. An officer got out, put on white gloves, gingerly approached the envelope with the indictments (which had been propped up at the White House gates), and placed it carefully in a plastic bag. As a member of the delegation told the press, "To a government that commits crimes against humanity, the truth is hazmat."

Mike Hersh, a member of Progressive Democrats of America and After Downing Street, said at the press conference: "When I was a child, I watched the Watergate hearings on television. I heard testimony about an administration run amok, wiretapping and spying, arrogantly abusing the power 'we the people' entrusted to it, and lying about it all. Many of us thought that the Nixon gang reached the zenith of presidential corruption, but we were sadly mistaken.

"Today, in that building over there [the White House], sit men and women who not only believe they're above the law, but who openly arrogate to themselves powers and prerogatives which would make a monarch blush. When Bush spoke to America about the outrage of illegal spying, it wasn't to condemn the lawbreakers, it was to rage against the truth-tellers who exposed his administration's reckless lawlessness."

The indictments, which were also sent by certified mail to the White House and mailed and hand-delivered to the Justice Department, allege war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Bush administration in relation to five areas:

1) Wars of Aggression, with particular reference to Iraq and Afghanistan;

2) Torture and Indefinite Detention;

3) Destruction of the Global Environment;

4) Attacks on Global Public Health and Reproductive Rights;

5) Knowing Failure to Protect Life During Hurricane Katrina.

The Bush Crimes Commission held the first session of the tribunal last October. The final session of Jan. 20-22 takes place at a critical time. As Larry Everest wrote last week in Revolution:

"There is a particular urgency to the Commission's work now. Questioning, distrust, and anger over actions by the Bush regime have grown by leaps and bounds... This Commission of Inquiry is an instrumentality of world humanity and an imperative of conscience. It can become a vehicle for the millions looking for clarity and voice, can change the terms of debate, and can deliver a powerful and urgently needed 'j'accuse' ('I accuse') right in Bush's brave new 'homeland.'"

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New York City, January 20, 21, & 22, 2006

International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes Against Humanity By the Bush Administration

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

Friday, Jan. 20, 5 pm
Saturday, Jan. 21, 10 am
The Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive

Sunday, Jan. 22, 1 pm
Columbia University Law School, 116th & Amsterdam Avenue

(list in formation)
Ajamu Sankofa, executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility-NY
Dennis Brutus, South African exile poet
Abdeen Jabara, former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Adjoa Aiyetoro, Prof. of Law at Univ. of Arkansas

Ann Wright, former foreign service officer who resigned from the State to protest the war on Iraq

Witnesses and Prosecutors
Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski
Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan
Scott Ritter, former UN weapons inspector
Lindsey German, Convenor, UK Stop the War Coalition
Michael Ratner, president, Center for Constitutional Rights
Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst
Dahr Jamail, journalist, reported extensively from Iraq
Marjorie Cohn, president-elect National Lawyers Guild
Stephen Bronner, Rutgers University
Ted Glick, Climate Crisis Coalition
Daphne Wysham, Institute for Policy Studies, SEEN
Tom Devine, Government Accountability Project
Chokwe Lumumba, attorney and human rights activist
Steven Miles (on medical personnel and torture)
Katrina survivors
Larry Everest
Dr. Thomas Fasy

Information: 212-941-8086 or email:


The first session of the International Tribunal on Bush crimes was held in October 2005. (Audio and video coverage of the first session, including as broadcast on "Democracy Now," at: The Commission of Inquiry will convene its final session January 20-22 and present witnesses, experts, and documentary evidence on the five indictments. The jury of conscience will consider the evidence and deliver its opinion on each count of the indictments.

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Harper's Editor Warns of Fascist Danger

Lewis Lapham's Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and Stifling of Democracy

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

Dear Revolution:

Someone recently emailed me a set of quotes from a new book, The Gag Rule: On the Suppression of Dissent and Stifling of Democracy, by Lewis Lapham. Those selections from the book, which is described as a "new polemic about the strangling of meaningful dissent" in the United States, contain an urgent message about the danger posed, not just by fascism, but by way in which many people in this country have not fully grasped the threat and the danger.

Lapham is the editor of Harper’s magazine and has written many popular books criticizing the bourgeois media and the war in Iraq, among other topics. He is a firm believer in bourgeois democracy, which he calls "a system that "allies itself with change and proceeds from the assumption that … the old order (whether of men or institutions) will be dragged offstage when its prescriptions no longer fit the facts. " And he is arguing strongly that this system is in danger of being replaced by fascism: "… the argument now going forward in the United States is the same argument that put an end to the Roman and Weimar Republics, built the scaffolds of the Spanish Inquisition, gave rise to the American Revolution."

Lapham joins the ranks of Harold Pinter and other prominent writers in making a direct analogy between Bush and Hitler, and between the U.S. at the present time and the Weimar Republic of 1920s Germany, before Hitler ascended to power in 1933. He polemicizes that "it is not the law that takes freedom from us but the laziness of our own minds, the unwillingness to think for ourselves and so resign, even momentarily, from the herd."

Lapham writes that Nazi Germany is the example "that comes most readily to mind when talking with people in New York about the Justice Department's newly acquired weapons of mass investigation, I listen to them compare intrusive intelligence gathering to state-of-the-art weather forecasting -- a routine and necessary precaution, annoying and possibly unconstitutional but entirely appropriate in time of trouble." He quotes at length from They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945by Milton Mayer:

What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret, to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security.... I do not speak of your "little men," your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men, mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about-we were decent people-and kept us so busy with continuous changes and "crises" and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the "national enemies," without and within, that we had no time to think about those dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?

Through this quote and others, Lapham warns that fascism is allowed to rise largely unopposed where people are "[unwilling] to think for ourselves and so resign, even momentarily, from the herd". He directly speaks to those who assure themselves that "it couldn't happen here", warning of "the paralysis that accompanies the wish to believe that only the wicked perish." And, through quoting Mayer, he addresses the fact that many people -- including those who call themselves "learned men" have been kept from having the kind of understanding that it would take to see such developments.

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it-please try to believe me-unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, "regretted," that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these "little measures" that no "patriotic German" could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

-- a regular reader of Revolution newspaper

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Food for Thought

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

On November 2, thousands of high school students in Los Angeles walked out of school as part of the nationwide launch of the World Can't Wait movement to drive out the Bush regime. One of those students was a Black youth who decided at the last moment to go to the World Can't Wait rally. He said:

"Maybe you just get one chance to be in on making history. I was thinking that maybe this was my chance and it would be fucked up to miss it... When I saw that you could say what was on your mind and the cops couldn't do nothing, I was like, 'Oh yeah!'"

Think about the whole life experience that would lead this Black youth, and others like him at the bottom of society, to the assumption and expectation that you can't "say what was on your mind." Think about the reaction of the youth--"Oh yeah!"--when he found himself in a situation where he could do this without the cops coming down with force.

What does this say about the promise and reality of rights under this system--especially for those at its bottom? What does this say about the profundity of the class divisions and social inequalities that lie at its root? And what does this say about the kind of society we have to fight to bring into being?

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From A World To Win News Service

Hurricanes, climate change and global warming

Part 3: How Dangerous is Global Warming?

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

November 28 2005. A World to Win News Service. While the U.S. government has insisted that global warming doesn't exist, most scientists are convinced otherwise. Some researchers say global warming was a major factor in the deadly series of hurricanes (as the violent tropical storms or cyclones that hit the Americas are called) that struck the Caribbean, Central America and the U.S. recently. At the Montreal international summit on climate change , the first such meeting since the 1997 Kyoto summit, the U.S. continued to refuse to recognize the dangers or even the existence of global warming, which an attending UK scientist declared is as perilous to the future of humanity as weapons of mass destruction. Observers at the opening of the Montreal meeting of 190 countries had little hope that it would make real progress in achieving international agreements to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the main factor in the rapid rise in world temperatures. Even though the targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions agreed to at Kyoto are criminally inadequate (the goal is to reduce emissions to 5 percent below the 1990 level by 2012), so far actual emissions have increased, not decreased even the European Union, which supported Kyoto, has failed to meet its target. What is the link between global warming and tropical storms? What are the causes of global warming? To what extent is global warming caused by human activity, and what can be done about it? How dangerous is global warming? Why do the rulers of the U.S. and other major powers refuse to take serious action even as disaster stares mankind in the face? These questions are addressed in this article, which is being run in five parts. See earlier issues for:

Part 1: Natural Climate Changes
Part 2: Man-made Climate Changes

Data provided by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that the average sea level is on the rise as global warming heats up ocean water, making it expand, and melts glaciers and the huge ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica. In general, it shows that over the last 100 years, the global sea level has risen by about 4 to 14 cm. The diagram below shows sea-level changes measured on the Dutch, German and Polish coastlines.

Most scientists believe the rise in temperature, sea level rise, heavy rainfall, flooding in some areas, drought and wildfires in other regions, are a prelude to abrupt changes in the Earth's climate. Based on the IPCC models, an increase of between 20 cm and 88 cm in sea level is predicted by the end of the 21st century. Temperature increase is predicted to have relatively little effect on sea-level rise in the first half of the 21st century, because it takes a lot of initial energy to effect any noticeable change in the ocean-ice-atmosphere climate system. However, if the ice sheets were to melt completely, their contribution to sea-level rise would be as follows: mountain glaciers = 0.3 metres, West Antarctic Ice Sheet = 8.5 metres, Greenland = 7 metres, East Antarctic Ice Sheet = 65 metres. The total sea-level rise would be 80.8 metres - a situation human society as a whole and no nation no matter how rich is prepared to deal with effectively.

The Earth's permafrost (permanently frozen ground in the Arctic regions) is another sleeping giant whose awakening would cause abrupt climate changes. The more than two billion hectares of the Earth's surface that is under permafrost is more sensitive to temperature rise than any other area. For example, in Fairbanks, Alaska, where roads, buildings and lawns have disturbed permafrost, much of it is already thawing. The ground underneath is giving way. Houses are falling apart and large holes in the roads make constant repairs necessary. The effects on the Russian arctic are even more dramatic. If the permafrost continues to thaw, organic material that has been frozen for thousands of years will break down, giving off carbon dioxide and/or methane, which is an even more powerful greenhouse gas. The carbon stored in the world's permafrost, estimated as high as 450 billion tons, if and when released, could easily set off an unprecedented chain reaction with a domino effect on global warming.

An equally important and imminent danger of abrupt climate change has to do with deep-ocean currents (also called thermohaline circulation). The Gulf Stream carries warm and salty surface water from the Gulf of Mexico all the way across the Atlantic up to the Nordic seas. It has been calculated that the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, for instance, delivers 27,000 times the energy of all Britain's power stations put together. If ice sheet and glacier melt put enough fresh water in Arctic water, the Gulf Stream will shut off due to the resulting equilibrium in the salt content and temperature of the water in the Gulf and the North Atlantic. A shutoff or slowdown in deep-ocean circulation would cause a sudden climatic shift in the UK and Western Europe, with short summers and very cold winters, similar to the climate in Moscow, which is not much further north than Manchester, even though the overall trend worldwide would be toward warmer weather. Similar changes would also wreak havoc with agriculture, not to mention people's daily lives, in other parts of the globe.

Gas hydrates tsunamis are an even more dangerous phenomenon-- perhaps the one that most worries scientists. Gas hydrates are gases (carbon dioxide and especially most commonly methane) trapped in an ice-like form under sea beds and lakes. There are 10,000 giga tons of gas hydrates stored beneath the Earth, compared with only 180 giga tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There is clear evidence that in the past violent gas hydrate releases have caused massive slumping of the continental shelf, thus setting off tsunamis. About 8000 years ago, a 15-metre tsunami wiped out many Scottish coastal villages.

To be continued.

NEXT WEEK - Part 4: What Is To Be Done?

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Socialism is Much Better Than Capitalism and Communism Will Be A Far Better World
Part 7: Mao's Breakthrough--The Revolution Comes to Power

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

Editor's note: Revolution is serializing the speech "Socialism Is Much Better Than Capitalism, and Communism Will Be A Far Better World" by Raymond Lotta.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Communism and Socialism
Part 3: The Bolsheviks Lead a Revolution That Shakes the World
Part 4: The Soviet Experiment: The Social Revolution Ushered in by Proletarian Power
Part 5: The Soviet Experiment: Building the World's First Socialist Economy
Part 6: The Soviet Experiment: World War 2 and Its Aftermath

Lotta is on a national speaking tour as part of the Set the Record Straight project. Information on upcoming speaking dates and related materials are available at www.

On October 1, 1949 Mao Tsetung spoke to millions assembled in Tiananmen Square in the capital city of Beijing. He had led the Chinese people in 20 years of armed struggle to overthrow their landlord oppressors and to drive out foreign imperialism. At this victory celebration, Mao told the crowd and the world: "The Chinese people have stood up." The crowd roared. But Mao, while sharing their great joy and sense of victory, also looked beyond the moment. The heroism and sacrifice that had led to this celebration were, he said, "but a beginning...only a brief prologue to a long drama."

For Mao, the revolution wasn't stopping. It was entering a new stage of socialist transformation of the economy, the creation of new political institutions, and the forging of new values of working for the common good. The ultimate goal was communism, a world without classes. But others within the Party leadership saw the situation very differently. For them, the seizure of power in 1949 basically marked the end of the revolution. As they saw it, the task now was to build China into a modern power. This was part of the complicated and challenging situation faced by Mao and the masses.

The overthrown landlords and capitalists were not reconciled to their fate. Neither were the imperialists who had dominated China.

Less than a year after the communists came to power in China, the U.S. launched war in Korea. They carried the war ever closer to China and threatened to attack China with nuclear weapons. China sent military aid and volunteers to Korea and fought the U.S. to a standstill. But the cost was high. China lost over 200,000 people in the conflict and total casualties ranged as high as 900,000.

The U.S. confronted revolutionary China with a network of military bases in Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan along with its Naval Sixth Fleet. For two decades, China was also prevented from carrying on trade with large parts of the world as a result of an economic embargo put into effect by the United States and Western countries. This was the hostile international environment that the revolution faced.

Why There Was a Revolution

A new anti-Mao book has just come out-- Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. In typical anti-communist fashion, it claims that the Chinese revolution was the product of Mao's evil machinations. It talks as though things were just fine before the revolution--or that social oppression took care of itself. But let’s look at what China was like before the revolution.

The vast majority of China's people were peasants who worked the land but had little or no land to call their own. They lived under the dominance of landlords who ruled the local economy and people's lives. Peasants desperately scratched out survival. In bad years, they had to eat leaves and bark, and were forced to sell their children. Agriculture was plagued by endless cycles of floods and droughts. China suffered on average one major famine a year and hundreds of thousands died in the famines of 1921 and 1943.

For women, life was a living hell: beatings by husbands, the painful binding of feet, arranged marriages, and young women were forced to be concubines to landlords and warlords.

By practically any measure, the economy was near the bottom of the scale of development. It had little industry. For example, Nanjing had a population of 700,000 and 200,000 people worked as servants, waiters, bar girls, prostitutes, rickshaw drivers and other such trades. Yet there were only 16,000 industrial workers.

In Shanghai's textile mills, young women were locked in at night. People lived crowded together in one-room hovels on the narrow, dark, and dirty side streets and alleys, or on the street itself. An estimated 25,000 dead bodies were collected from the streets each year by municipal sanitation teams. Meanwhile foreign-controlled districts of the city were built up with fancy hotels and nightclubs.

While in pre-revolutionary China there was widespread practice of traditional medicine, it was also the case that in a country of 500 million, there were only 12,000 doctors trained in Western medicine. Four million people died each year from infectious and parasitic diseases. China had 90 million opium addicts.

This is why people made revolution and seized power. And under the leadership of Mao and the Chinese Communist Party, the Chinese revolution immediately set out to change these conditions.

The Revolution Brings Decisive Change

When the communist-led Red Army took control of the big cities, it seized hold of the big banks, factories, and other businesses. It put these productive assets in the service of a new economy. The party led people to reorganize production. Child labor was abolished. The working day was reduced from 12-16 hours to 8 hours.

When the revolutionary army defeated the U.S.-backed Chiang Kai-shek's armies and local landlord forces, the feudal system was quickly overthrown. Overthrowing oppressors had actually begun in the liberated areas during the revolutionary war. Work teams led by the party went into villages, carried on political education, and held meetings with the peasants about their conditions and problems. They encouraged and led the peasants to rise up, to organize themselves, and to seize the land.

After victory in 1949, land reform became law and swept across China like a river bursting a dam. Throughout China, peasants divided up the land, tools, and animals. In a country where women had never been treated as equals, not just the men but women got land.

Women lifted their heads. In 1950, a new marriage law put an end to child and arranged marriages. The new law guaranteed the right to divorce for women as well as men. But for Mao the revolution was about more than new laws. It had to change people's thinking. It had to change the old oppressive social relations and challenge the backward ideas and values that rested on these relations and that were common among the people.

The hysterical anti-Mao biographies say Mao was drunk with power. But what these slanderous accounts are really objecting to is that the revolution overthrew the old power of landlords, big capitalists, and foreign dominators and established a new power. This was a form of the dictatorship of the proletariat. It empowered the workers and peasants to start to rule society and to suppress old and new exploiters.

We are told that Mao wantonly killed millions of people. But in fact, hundreds of millions were liberated, and untold lives were saved, by the new economic and social system that the Maoist revolution created. The oppressed had been treated throughout history as no more than a pair of laboring hands. Now they had the right and capacity to stand up. And they had the backing of a people's liberation army.

Think about what it would mean in a future society in what is today the U.S. if the oppressed had a state power that served their interests. Instead of the police brutalizing people in the oppressed communities, the state would be aiding people in uprooting the legacy of discrimination. In Maoist China, the former nobodies had the freedom and power to transform economic, political, social and cultural life.

NEXT WEEK: Social Transformation and The Great Leap Forward

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Go Ahead, Answer It

Revolution #031, January 22, 2006, posted at

Go Ahead, Answer It

We realize that all this media attention to government wiretaps and massive data mining has made you reluctant to use the phone. Don't worry. Our President told us to target only those Americans contacting foreign terrorists and their supporters, sympathizers, casual acquaintances, persistent war critics, pesky environmentalists, and anyone else that he decides are bad people. The dwindling number of good, honest Americans who support our President have nothing to fear, and rest assured, those who try to prove otherwise will be hunted down by federal investigators. We will no longer permit the irresponsible reporting of facts to cause worry and doubt among the American people.

Of course you will still be monitored, but consider it not an invasion, but an enhancement of your privacy. Can't keep track of who you called or what you wrote? We will. Don't remember that January 5, 2004 email to your Aunt Rose entitled "Bush is a liar?" We haven't forgotten. And now that we're tapping directly into some of the main telecommunication arteries with the ability to identify key words and phrases - we have the ability to assist those millions of Americans who may need reminding about what they shouldn't say on the phone or computer. Might be a mom calling her school to insist that her kid not be preyed on by military recruiters. Or an unruly teen making off-color jokes about the vice-president.

Be patient with us though – there’s so much to handle now that we’re getting a little overwhelmed. But we’re working hard on our capabilities and with the help of your president, soon we’ll be able to sift through the information we're collecting and immediately dispatch an intervention team to the proper residence and bring them to their senses. We can be very persuasive, you know.

So don't let all the hysterical reporting upset you. Rest easy, and don’t do anything to rock the boat. It's not like tomorrow morning government agents are going to kick in your door, drag you out of your home in front of your terrified family, and ship you off to some Eastern European prison for interrogation because of some little careless disloyal remark you made on the telephone. Because we’re positive you would never say those things. After all, we'd know if you did.

This good advice was brought to you by

The National Security Agency

"We’re always interested in what you have to say"

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