Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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

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

DISC I - Session I

1. “They’re selling postcards of the hanging”
2. Police: Enforcers of oppression and madness
3. 1960’s: Racism and oppression challenged head-on
4. A world of rape and sexual assault
5. “Traditional” values - tradition’s chains
6. U.S. expands through conquest and exploitation
7. Youth deserve a better future
8. Not fit caretakers of the earth
9. A history of genocide and war crimes
10. As long as you don’t say nothin’
11. Why do people come here from all over the world?

DISC 2 - Session 2

1. What is capitalism?
2. A lopsided imperialist world
3. How the world got this way
4. A better world is possible
5. Today, societies are divided into classes
6. The proletariat and communism
7. Imagine ... a new society Healthcare, work, education, science, etc...
8. The dictatorship of the proletariat, and what it’s for
9. The “voting trap” under capitalism
10. Democracy and dictatorship during socialism
11. Overcoming wounds and scars from capitalism
12. From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs
13. It’s not “Make them suffer like we suffered”
14. Carrying forward the revolution under socialism
15. “Two sides” to globalization
16. A vampire system with “NUKE-ular” weapons
17. International class-world-wide struggle

DISC 3 - Session 3

1. How could we actually make revolution, in a country like the U.S.?
2. Uniting all who can be united for revolution
3. Iraq war resistance—what was accomplished?
4. Learning while leading, leading while learning
5. The “solid core” of the united front, and ending national oppression
6. How a revolutionary situation can come about
7. It’s not just “The Corporations”
8. Why not bring about change peacefully?
9. Isn’t the problem “human nature?”
10. Dialectical materialism, historical materialism
11. Religion
12. Does communism equal “totalitarianism?”
13. Valuing dissent in socialist society
14. The people need leadership ... a communist vanguard party
15. A challenge and call: get with the party

DISC 4 - Questions and Answers

1. Smoke weed in socialism?
2. Difficulty for proletarians to get active?
3. Change for women in a new society?
4. Another war for election purposes? (pyramid)
5. What made you not believe in god?
6. First thought on 9/1I?
7. How to reach the proletariat?
8. More on 9/1I?
9. When will people fight for a different future?
10. How does the party keep its goal of revolution?
11. Is communism a European ideology?
12. Reparations for African-Americans?
13. Breaking down borders under socialism?
14. A new generation of revolutionary leaders?
15. Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party?
16. Favorite band, favorite movie?
17. We need a revolutionary people.
18. Involving more minority youth?
19. At 89, I want to see change.

We are thrilled to announce the online launch of Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, starting on Tuesday, September 1, 2009. This four-part film will be going up online. There will also be selected clips posted that day on YouTube.

The film thoroughly goes into the kind of revolution we need—and it gives people an up-close-and-personal experience with Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution. He lays it all out in a nine-hour speech—and then goes into three hours of question-and-answer dialogue with the audiences. It’s all there—full of heart and soul, humor and seriousness.

Posting this film online opens up a new opportunity for people to dramatically expand the major and multifaceted campaign recently announced by the Revolutionary Communist Party calling on people to join with “the revolution we need… the leadership we have.”

Online millions and millions of people are searching for the truth, and watching videos, short and long. Some of these give part of the answer; but some of them—including some of the most popular—give people bullshit answers, pointing people in the wrong direction and spreading poison. There is nothing online like THIS DVD of Bob Avakian’s: nothing that answers the questions of why we are in the situation we are in... what is the source of the problem... and what is the nature of the solution. Nothing that gets at these questions as deeply, thoroughly and truthfully as this. Here and all over the world, people need to see this video. And wherever people are debating these big questions...this film needs to be in the mix and part of the debate.

To make that happen, this launch needs to be A BIG DEAL. And you are needed to accomplish this. Imagine… on Tuesday, September 1, people on Facebook and MySpace linking to the new Revolution film website being set up, embedding the clips on their page and encouraging others to do the same… blogging everywhere, tweeting… text blasts and email lists reverberating with the news of this launch. This would coincide with postcards passing hand to hand in neighborhoods and during freshman orientation at colleges and schools across the country… signs and posters appearing in dorm rooms, housing projects, community centers, coffee shops, laundromats and barber shops. This kind of launch could have an exponential effect—making the presence of this talk online known to many thousands on Day 1. And on the weekend of August 22-23, when there will be another major effort to get out the statement, “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have,” there should also be an effort to sell and show the DVD very widely.

And that’s just the beginning… Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About will be capturing people’s attention in many different ways… Clips being projected on the sides of buildings or neighborhood lots and folks going home to catch the full talk... debates and discussions breaking out and then people sending the links to all their friends. The views on the YouTube clips should grow to where thousands and thousands are watching this and spreading it to their friends… ultimately going viral on the net.

Getting in on this and doing the work to make this happen is a way many, many people can join in and contribute to this movement for revolution.

And the work begins now. Call your friends and the people you’ve been meeting taking out this message and call: “The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have” the last few weeks. Play them a clip of the DVD, go to YouTube and look up the short film, “Next Stop… Revolution.” Talk with people about this campaign, the message and call from the RCP. Get everyone organized to be part of launching this Revolution talk online on September 1, 2009. Collect as many email addresses as you can and prepare to send out the links to the film.

On September 1, 2009, look for clips from this talk on YouTube and before then, check for promotional materials and the announcement of the Revolution film website. Promotional materials will be available on Thursday, August 20.

Get with and be part of launching the Revolution film online.


We must spread the word to every corner of this country… giving people the means to become part of this revolutionary movement, and organizing into this movement everyone who wants to make a contribution to it, who wants to work and fight, to struggle and sacrifice, not to keep this nightmare of a world going as it is but to bring a better world into being.

—“The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have,”
Revolution, #170, July 19, 2009

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Paris, Texas—Modern-Day Lynching, Age-Old Outrage

by Frank Harper

“They’re selling postcards of the hanging...”

—Bob Dylan, “Desolation Row.” 1965

Paris, Texas, has an infamous place in American history. In 1893, it was the first place to hold a public, organized, and widely advertised lynching of a Black man.

Henry Smith was accused of killing and assaulting the three-year-old daughter of a Paris cop, despite the complete lack of evidence, witnesses, or clues. Smith was captured in Arkansas and brought back to Paris on a train. Thousands of whites gathered at each stop as a brutally beaten Smith was displayed before the mobs.

When he got to Paris, about 10,000 people who had come in trains from Dallas and other cities were awaiting the savage spectacle of Smith’s lynching. Henry Smith was paraded through Paris on a carnival float and taken to the prairie outside town. There he was placed on a scaffold and tortured for almost an hour by the cop and his family. They drove hot iron brands into his flesh, starting with his feet and working upwards.

An article in the New York Sun reported that “every groan from the fiend [this refers to Smith, not to his tormentors], every contortion of his body was cheered by the thickly packed crowd. Eventually, the hot irons were thrust into his eye sockets and down his throat.” Somehow, Henry Smith was still breathing. The mob poured oil on him and set him on fire. Brawls then broke out as the participants in the lynching fought to collect Henry Smith’s bones, ashes, and teeth as “souvenirs.”

Flash forward 115 years.

September 16, 2008. Early on a Sunday morning, the disfigured and partially dismembered body of a young Black man, Brandon McClelland, was found in a remote area of Lamar County, Texas, just outside Paris.

Police immediately announced that Brandon had been the victim of a hit and run driver. But some of the true story of his brutal murder soon began to come out.

Two white men, Shannon Finley and Charles Crostley, had driven across the state line to Oklahoma that night with Brandon, on a “beer run.” When they returned to Paris, Brandon got out of the truck and said he was walking home.

The men in the truck ran over Brandon as he was walking down the country road. When he fell under the truck, they dragged his body back and forth along the road. They continued doing this until the mangled, mutilated body of Brandon McClellan came free from the truck’s chassis. They probably poured two cans of beer over Brandon’s body. Then they left to try to wash Brandon’s blood off their truck.

As news of Brandon’s death reached town, anger and anguish rippled through the Black communities of Paris and Lamar County. People were reminded of the lynching by truck of James Byrd 10 years earlier in Jasper, another Texas town several hours south of Paris—three white supremacists had been convicted for the murder of James Byrd. The McClelland family said that Brandon’s murder was a “Jasper style lynching.”

Protests demanding prosecution of the two killers rocked Paris last autumn, as hundreds of people, organized by the Houston chapters of the New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam, traveled to Paris. Finley and Crostley were both arrested and charged with murder and tampering with evidence.

But Stacy McNeal, the Texas Ranger in charge of the “investigation,” almost immediately announced that he didn’t “see how it was racial.” And in June 2009, “special prosecutor” Toby Shook dropped all charges against Finley and Crostley, citing a “lack of evidence.” The two killers were freed without restriction.

The Crime and the Cover-up

According to an Associated Press report, “Finley’s  estranged wife and one of his friends said they had been told by the two defendants that Finley began to bump McClelland with the front of his truck until McClelland fell, and Finley drove over him, according to court papers. Crostley and Finley then allegedly drove to a car wash to clean off the blood.”

As Brandon’s mother, Jacqueline McClelland, said, “they tied my son to that truck and dragged him until his body parts were detached. His body was so destroyed that it could not even be embalmed by the funeral home. This is a hate crime.… This was not a hit and run. They [Finley, Crostley, and their families] hid the truck and even tried to wash the blood off. The police didn’t even tape off the crime scene and some of my son’s body parts were still lying out there. This is just like Jasper.”

Jesse Muhammed, a reporter for the Final Call newspaper who traveled to Paris from Houston in early October of 2008—a couple of weeks after Brandon McClelland’s murder—wrote that “We went to the scene of the crime in Lamar County. You would not believe that parts of Brandon McClelland’s skull was still out there on the ground! Shows how much the police cared. It was like an episode of CSI:NY with blood tracks up and down the road and tire marks chased by the blood trails. This was one of the most painful stories I have had to cover in person.”

But authorities moved quickly to conceal and cover up evidence of Brandon’s murder. In the affidavit filed for the arrests of Finley and Crostley, authorities said they observed human blood on the bottom chassis of Finley’s truck. But later lab reports claimed that there was no “biological evidence” on the truck. Jacqueline McClelland said “one minute you’ve got evidence and the next minute you don’t? Now nobody is charged in my son’s murder. It’s just cruel and unjust.”

Ms. McClelland told the Dallas Morning News that “beer cans were lying out there [where Brandon died], but the police didn’t even pick them up, they just left evidence out there. They won’t even consider the racial issues. That’s the way it is in Paris.”

An autopsy report signed by 10 medical examiners of the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Science at Dallas said that the “initial investigation suggested that the blunt force injuries sustained were the result of an accidental hit-and-run. However, additional investigation and developments in the case indicate that the decedent was intentionally run over with a truck.”

The report further states that “therefore, based upon the autopsy findings and the history available to us, it is our opinion that Brandon Demon McClelland, a 24-year-old black male, died as a result of blunt force injuries.”

The “prosecutor” with overall responsibility for the case of Finley and Crostley, Lamar County D.A. Gary Young, had been Finley’s defense attorney five years earlier when Finley was charged with manslaughter for shooting his “best friend” to death. Finley claimed that he and his friend were being robbed by two Black men. There was no evidence for his claim, and Finley named or described no suspects except to say that they were “2 Black men.” No one was arrested, much less charged with this supposed attempted robbery. Finley said he aimed poorly when he shot at the alleged robbers and hit his friend in the head—three times. Young was able to get a reduced sentence of three years for Finley in that case.

Young was compelled to recuse himself from direct involvement in the trial of Finley and Crostley, and a “special prosecutor” was appointed. It was this prosecutor, Toby Shook, a prosecutor in the Dallas County D.A.’s office, who announced that the charges against Finley and Crostley had been dropped, citing what he outrageously called a “lack of evidence.” Jacqueline McClelland summed up the maneuvers of the prosecutors accurately when she said, “I feel like everyone is trying to get these guys off.”

The ugly and deep history of the oppression of Black people in this country is thoroughly embedded in every aspect and every place of this society, but in few locations is it so brazenly on display as in Paris. A monument to Confederate veterans is the centerpiece of the town square. Paris achieved some notoriety last year when 14-year-old Shaquanda Cotton, a Black girl, was given a seven year prison sentence for shoving a hall monitor in her school, while the judge who sentenced her had given a white girl the same age as Shaquanda probation for burning down her parents’ home. Earlier this year, nooses, Confederate flags, and racist graffiti were flaunted for months at a pipe fabrication plant that is the town’s largest employer. As a man said at one of the protests demanding justice for Brandon, “I am 55 years old, and I know racism when I see it. Paris, Texas, is eaten up with racism.”

Much of the long-standing anger at this oppression has burst forth in recent months. The savage murder of Brandon McClelland has become a catalyst for the outrage many people, especially youth, have at the abuse to which they are constantly subjected. Protests of hundreds of people have demanded justice for Brandon McClelland, and the prosecution of Finley and Crostley. The state of Texas has responded by refusing to prosecute.

It was over one hundred years ago that the first openly organized public lynching of a Black man in the U.S. took place in Paris, Texas. Since that time, promises of change in America have been made again and again, only to be broken again and again. Here we are in 2009, and the men who murdered Brandon McClelland are still walking the streets. It is way past time that the system lets such murderers go free without the people waging determined political resistance. JUSTICE FOR BRANDON MCCLELLAND!

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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U.S. Hand Behind 2001 Massacre in Afghanistan:

Mass Murder in the Sands of Dasht-i-Leili

In November 2001, a massacre of at least 2,000 Taliban prisoners took place in Afghanistan, where many of them were buried in the Dasht-i-Leili desert. But only now, nearly eight years later, is a fuller picture emerging of how top Bush administration officials repeatedly thwarted efforts to investigate what happened, including, and in particular, what may have been the U.S. military’s role in the mass killing.

A July 11 front-page New York Times article, written by investigative reporter James Risen, brings out how Bush officials frustrated calls for an investigation into this incident. Risen says this was principally because the Afghan warlord whose forces carried out the massacre, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, “was on the payroll of the CIA and his militia worked closely with United States Special Forces in 2001.” Risen, however, chooses not to follow where this important information could well lead, as we shall see.

* * *

On the heels of 9/11 and the beginning of the “war on terror,” the U.S., in November 2001, spearheaded an invasion of Afghanistan which, in league with Afghan tribal warlords, brought about the fall of the Taliban government. In late November, thousands of Taliban surrendered to Dostum’s forces in the northern city of Kunduz. The prisoners were then packed into 30 metal shipping containers that were placed on lorries to be driven to a prison near the town of Sheberghan.

Survivors and eyewitnesses told the Times and Newsweek magazine in 2002 that over the three-day trip, the prisoners were given no food or water. Many suffocated to death, while others were killed when guards shot into the containers.

Ahmed Rashid, a mainstream Pakistani journalist and best-selling author who regularly appears on CNN and the BBC and writes for the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, has detailed this U.S. massacre. In his book, Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, Rashid describes how only “a handful of people in each of the thirty containers survived the journey—in one container only 6 out of 220 survived, according to UN officials.” (p. 93) Rashid also recounts how, when the trucks reached Sheberghan, the dead were quickly taken into the desert and buried in huge pits dug by a bulldozer—in a clear effort to bury the evidence.

In his Times article, Risen reports that, in early 2002, Dell Spry, the FBI’s senior representative at the detainee prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “heard accounts of the deaths from agents he supervised there. Separately, 10 or so prisoners brought from Afghanistan reported that they had been ‘stacked like cordwood’ in shipping containers and had to lick the perspiration off one another to survive, Mr. Spry recalled. They told similar accounts of suffocations and shootings, he said. A declassified F.B.I. report, dated January 2003, confirms that the detainees provided such accounts.”

Spry sent the information up his chain of command, but a senior FBI officer told him to drop the matter because, Risen writes, “it would be up to the American military to investigate.” But the military showed no interest in the matter. Pentagon spokesmen, according to Risen, “have said that the United States Central Command conducted an ‘informal inquiry,’ asking Special Forces personnel members who worked with General Dostum if they knew of a mass killing by his forces. When they said they did not, the inquiry went no further.”

What’s Missing from Risen’s Article

However, what Risen does not report in his July 11 article is that many of the Guantanamo detainees who spoke to Spry’s FBI interviewers said that U.S. personnel were present during the massacre. In a July 22 report, tells of a recent exclusive interview it conducted with Spry, in which he said that “he informed Risen about the additional allegations that U.S. forces were present.” Salon contacted Risen, who confirmed that Spry had told him of the allegations. But Risen told Salon he decided not to publish what the detainees had said “in part, because he didn’t believe them.” Risen said: “I just felt like the whole issue of potential U.S. involvement in the massacre could not be proven and was not conclusive. Frankly, I don’t believe it, and it detracts from the rest of the story. It had been a stumbling block for this story for some time.” (See

This, to put it mildly, is outrageous. It appears that Risen (perhaps with the go-ahead from his Times editors) has taken it upon himself to censor potentially explosive claims by the detainees of possible U.S. involvement in the massacre because these claims “could not be proven” and were “not conclusive.” Well, for one thing, the major reason why there is not yet conclusive evidence, one way or the other, is that for nearly eight years, the U.S. government has thrown obstacle after obstacle in the path of those calling for a thorough investigation, including requests from some of their own officials in the FBI and the State Department, along with the Red Cross and human rights groups like Physicians for Human Rights, some of whose members discovered the mass grave site in 2002 and have been demanding an investigation ever since.

In Descent into Chaos,Ahmed Rashid writes that “...witnesses who had given testimony, such as the lorry drivers, mysteriously disappeared. Eyewitness accounts and video footage showed that U.S. Special Operations Forces were present in Kunduz, and the Pentagon was repeatedly asked why the U.S. soldiers did not try to stop the loading of the prisoners into the containers.” (p. 94)

Risen himself reports that “several Afghan witnesses” to the massacre “were later tortured or killed.” What, we must ask, did those tortured, killed, or disappeared witnesses actually see?

Further, is Mr. Risen unaware of the years and years of cover-up of the slaughter by U.S forces, in one incident, of hundreds of civilians during the Korean War? Or the attempted cover-up from on high of the slaughter of almost all the inhabitants, including the women and children, of a Vietnamese village, My Lai, during the Vietnam War? Or the more recent attempted cover-up of the torture of many at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison?

Another Obama Promise

Shortly after publication of Risen’s July 11 article, President Obama told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview that he has directed his national security team to look into the massacre, saying that if U.S. conduct at that time “in some way supported violations of laws of war, then I think that, you know, we have to know about that.”

What will actually happen remains to be seen. But it needs to be stressed that, in his first half-year in office, Obama has promised “change” that has devolved into nothing more than the same Bush regime policies in glossier packaging. In May, for example, Obama reversed his previously announced position and said he would block the release of some 2,000 photos documenting U.S. military personnel torturing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, arguing that to release the photos “would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.” But now Obama is sending 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, to join the 38,000 already there. Wouldn’t a serious investigation of what happened in November 2001 in Afghanistan—and with everything learned fully published—be seen by Obama as yet something else that could “further inflame anti-American opinion” (why shouldn’t it!?) and “put our troops in greater danger?”

But while Obama worries about the safety of U.S. troops—who are carrying out such war crimes—we need to ask what this growing occupation means for the Afghan people. One stark example: on May 4 of this year, a U.S. air strike killed over 140 people in the western province of Farah. U.S. officials claimed the strike was targeting Taliban fighters, but surviving villagers said the Taliban had left before the air strike began. Families said they were sitting down to dinner when the bombs fell.

The atrocities of the system of U.S. imperialism continue...and so do the cover-ups.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning
Part 9

By Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

[Editors’ note: The following is the ninth excerpt from the text of a talk by Bob Avakian, earlier this year, which is being serialized in Revolution, beginning with issue #163. Parts 1-8 appeared in issues #163, #164, #165, #166, #167, #169, #171, and #172. Part 9, along with Parts 6-8, are from the section titled "The Social Basis for Revolution." This part includes two subsections: "Relying on the masses, but not on spontaneity, even in socialist society" and "Fundamental errors of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist): wrong conception of the problems, wrong 'solutions.'" The text of the talk has been edited and footnotes have been added for publication. The entire talk can be found online at]

Relying on the masses, but not on spontaneity, even in socialist society

But first I want to speak to another basic contradiction that is a key obstacle, or key factor to be taken into account and to be struggled through, in the course of our revolution in the broadest historical sense. And that is the contradiction between the fact that in fundamental terms the advance to communism must be the conscious act of the masses of people making up the great majority of society and on the other hand what has been brought out through the experience of socialist societies so far, namely, that even in socialist society spontaneity cannot be relied on to continue the advance on the socialist road toward communism. Another way to formulate this is: the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat and for a vanguard leadership, in relation to—and in some important ways in contradiction to—the need for this state (dictatorship of the proletariat) to increasingly be radically different from all previous forms of the state.

It is for very good reason that we have opposed bourgeois-democratic notions of how the will of the people gets expressed, especially in a society dominated by exploiters. Even with regard to socialist society, we have correctly resisted the notion of this being identified, in essential terms, with the people voting in elections, and in particular elections involving competing political parties. Not that there is no role for that kind of thing in socialist society but, very correctly and very importantly, we have rejected the notion that this is the essential way in which the masses can express their will and in which their interests can be served.

This notion (that such elections—at least in socialist society—are the essential means for the expression of the will of the masses of people) goes along with a lot of tailing of spontaneity and a misconception that the masses, in their majority, are always, and more or less spontaneously, in a mood to continue advancing on the socialist road toward communism, and therefore they will always be inclined to support those people who put forward that kind of program. In line with this, there is also the misconception that the only real problem, in socialist society in particular, is to make sure that leaders don't become corrupt and bureaucracies and bureaucrats don't take over and divert the course of the revolution; that the key task is to find the means for the masses to supervise the leaders and prevent the leaders from going bad. Now, it is not that there is no role for any of this, but to identify this as the essence of the problem is to seriously misapprehend the actual, fundamental problems, to seriously underestimate, and mis-assess, the fundamental contradictions underlying the very real difficulty and struggle that is involved in advancing on the socialist road toward communism, once power has been seized and the socialist state—the dictatorship of the proletariat—has been established.

It will not be possible to resolve the very real problems and contradictions that do have to be confronted, if the "solution" involves idealizing and romanticizing the masses, and ignoring the very real conditions and social forces, material and ideological, that pull in contradictory directions on the masses of people, even in socialist society—including the fact that sections of the masses at any given time can be pulled back toward the old ways, especially in the face of the difficulties that are bound to be encountered in transforming society on the socialist road in a world still dominated by imperialism and other exploiters and powerful reactionary forces, and in a situation where it requires continual struggle to keep advancing on the road of revolution.

Fundamental errors of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist): wrong conception of the problems, wrong "solutions"

In this regard I want to make some observations concerning the seriously erroneous thinking of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).1

The CPN(M) has put forward a view and a program which in essence identifies communism with bourgeois democracy (that is the actual meaning of its notion of "communism of the 21st century"). This party has become precisely the representative of the fundamentally erroneous view that the masses spontaneously will always desire to continue on the revolutionary road, and therefore they will always support those leaders who represent that road and who put forward programs to advance on that road; and that the masses will, through their actions, if allowed to do so, correct the leaders who deviate from that road, so to speak. This, again, is a fundamental underestimation and misunderstanding of the real and decisive contradictions in socialist society—in the economic base, in the political and ideological superstructure, and in the relation between the base and superstructure—especially in the context of a world still dominated by imperialism.

Now, there are real contradictions, which they seem to be addressing. But their program is seeking to provide a fundamentally wrong answer. And this is related to the fact that they are not correctly identifying the problem. Once again, different classes see the problems and solutions differently.

From the point of view of communism and advancing on the socialist road toward communism, there is this profound, and often acutely posed, contradiction: If, in fact, the emancipation of humanity has to be the conscious act of growing numbers of the masses of people—even while the notion that elections represent the most essential means for the expression of the political will of the masses, and the conception that they will always be spontaneously gravitating towards the program of communism and advancing on the socialist road, is wrong and must be rejected—it can't be the case that at every key point when the spontaneity of the masses is going in another direction, the communists have to step in and act instead of—or even in opposition to—the masses. It will never be correct, nor serve the revolutionary advance to communism, to institutionalize things in such a way that coercion becomes the essential means through which the masses are maintained—or an attempt is made to maintain the masses—on the socialist road. Such a concept is itself profoundly wrong and will lead to the same dead-end as tailing the masses and seeking to rely on spontaneity; and ultimately, or not so ultimately, it will lead to the restoration of capitalism, where socialism has been established.

This is a very real contradiction and thorny problem. We have to develop the ways in which the socialist road is forged through the conscious initiative of the masses, and we must not in fact attempt to do this through the party acting instead of the masses; at the same time, the spontaneity of the masses and its limitations has to be correctly understood and the means have to be developed, with the leadership of the communist vanguard, for the masses to grasp the necessity of advancing, and then actually to fight consciously to continue advancing, on the socialist road—through all the contradictory motion that's involved in that, and not with an idealized vision which assumes that this is going to be a matter of all the masses marching uniformly and in unison toward the goal of communism at every point and with every twist in the road. This goes back to the point that was stressed (almost two decades ago now) in "The End of a Stage—The Beginning of a New Stage,"2 about unresolved contradictions in socialist society and the way in which this calls forth social forces within that society which still demand and are striving for radical change, which the vanguard party has to embrace in the largest sense—learn from, and also struggle over and actually lead to become part of the process of continuing to advance on the socialist road toward communism.

All the understanding, which has been brought forward as part of the new synthesis,3 concerning the role and importance of dissent in socialist society, and the necessary turmoil and "messiness" of the process, has everything to do with being able to embrace all this and lead it toward the goal of communism, while doing so with a full recognition of the contradictoriness of this whole process—and within that constantly looking for and seeking to encourage and support forces which come forward, or can be brought forward, in relation to these unresolved contradictions under socialism, contradictions which propel these forces in the direction of seeking to continue the radical transformation of society, even though at any given time that won't spontaneously be reflected uniformly among the masses, or even perhaps among the majority of people, as a conscious desire to continue to struggle for communism. That's where the role of the vanguard constantly comes in—interacting with these forces and with movements, struggles, and aspirations that are called forth, by the very contradictions still existing in socialist society—continually finding, and forging, the means to embrace all this in an overall sense and lead it toward the goal of communism.

But the idea that, as the CPN(M) argues, all this can be handled through elections with competing parties, and that the masses are always going to gravitate in their majority toward the socialist road and therefore will always elect communists as the leaders of the new society, so long as the communists are not deviating from the correct path and are not becoming overlords over the masses—this is completely naive and idealist.

And this relates to the CPN(M)'s fundamentally wrong viewpoint and method philosophically—its whole approach of combining two into one, in opposition to the correct understanding of contradiction: the understanding that all of life and reality, including society and its transformation, is driven forward by contradiction, and the struggles this gives rise to. The CPN(M) is in fact putting forward the idea that you can handle contradictions—and even that you can avoid the eruption of what are objectively antagonistic contradictions—by seeking to reconcile opposing positions, which in reality always means conciliating, in the final analysis, to what's old and what's reactionary. This is in opposition to recognizing that things will constantly divide out in terms of opposing forces—in terms of contradictions—and that it is a question of constantly recognizing and acting to strengthen what's new, what's revolutionary and what represents the radical transformation of society. That the resolution of contradictions is achieved, and can only be achieved, through struggle. And that when the relations are objectively antagonistic, this resolution will involve, and require, antagonistic struggle, just as when they are not antagonistic then the resolution can be achieved through non-antagonistic struggle—but struggle nonetheless. Contradiction, all contradiction, is resolved through struggle and not through conciliation. This is the difference—the fundamental and essential difference—between the approach of "combining two into one" and that of "dividing one into two": between seeking to conciliate and to reconcile contradictions rather than to resolve them through struggle, either antagonistic or non-antagonistic struggle, depending on the particular nature of the contradiction and the corresponding character of the struggle.

So in this connection, it is important to take the measure, so to speak, of the widespread trend—which is very pronounced in the CPN(M) but also finds expression among others in the ICM (international communist movement), unfortunately—the trend of forces seeking (whether they realize it or not) to reinvent the wheel: to act, and often with no small amount of arrogance, as if they have come up with some startling new discoveries concerning the reasons for the restoration of capitalism in formerly socialist countries and the means for preventing this, when all they have really done is retreat into and rehash worn-out bourgeois-democratic analyses, prejudices and prescriptions, as a supposed analysis of, and remedy for, the reversal of socialism and the overall setback of the communist movement in the last several decades. They have singularly ignored—or, in any case, have failed to seriously engage, let alone to really absorb—the crucial analysis of Mao's on the character of socialist society and the danger of capitalist restoration, and the real lessons to be drawn from this experience, which fundamentally confirm Mao's analysis and approach. At the same time, they have ignored—or dismissed with no, or only very superficial, engagement—the extensive work our party has done around this, which finds expression in the new synthesis and the overall body of work and method and approach of which this new synthesis is, in important ways, a concentration. All this is spoken to powerfully in the Manifesto from our party, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage.

In a very real and fundamental sense, the question of how to view contradiction, and how to understand the means for dealing with contradictions, runs through all of this. The idea that if communist parties have splits—or if antagonistic struggle breaks out within communist parties, in or out of power (to use that shorthand phrase)—that shows that somehow the leaders mishandled the contradictions: this notion is nothing but another expression of the phenomenon that Marx identified and analyzed so insightfully and penetratingly, with regard to the position of the petite bourgeoisie and the thinking that reflects this position, which envisions that it can stand above the great antagonism of the contending classes. Contradictions and struggles within communist parties are a reflection—and in some significant ways a concentrated reflection or expression—of the larger contradictions in society between real and opposing class and social forces which in turn are embedded in, and embody, real material contradictions in the relations of production and the social relations and which find expression in the political institutions and structures and the superstructure as a whole, including ideas and culture.

This is why, despite the best efforts of someone like Mao to prevent splits, such splits repeatedly occurred throughout the history of the Chinese Communist Party. After all, it was Mao who insisted on the basic principles: practice Marxism, not revisionism; unite, don't split; be open and aboveboard, don't intrigue and conspire. He meant all that, and he practiced all that. But adhering to these principles cannot do away with the existence of the bourgeoisie and the fundamental relations in which its continuing existence is grounded, the ways in which it is constantly regenerated, not only in capitalist society but in socialist society as well, and the ways in which this gets expressed within the communist party itself, among people who take up the bourgeois world outlook and the aspirations that go along with that—who see the problems and solutions in a way that corresponds to the outlook and interests of the bourgeoisie. To think that you can avoid—and that you should make a principle of avoiding—splits with forces like that is in reality (and whatever one's intentions) to establish a principle of compromising away fundamental principles and of conciliating with, and ultimately capitulating to, the exploiting classes.

As I have pointed out previously in correspondence to other leading comrades of our party—and this is very relevant to the situation today in the ICM:

"The following from 'Conquer the World’ and specifically the section 'Leninism as the Bridge' is indeed very relevant, insightful and incisive: 'To put it somewhat provocatively, Marxism without Leninism is Eurocentric social-chauvinism and social democracy. Maoism without Leninism is nationalism (and also, in certain contexts, social-chauvinism) and bourgeois democracy.'"4

And, in what I wrote to other leading comrades, I went on to say:

"Along with this, we should clearly understand—and here again the Manifesto speaks to the substance of this very well and importantly—that today Maoism without Bob Avakian's new synthesis will turn into its opposite. Instead of making the leap forward that is required, there will be a retreat backward, ending up sooner or later—and perhaps not that much later—in outright opposition to revolutionary communism."


1. This party, having merged with another group, is apparently now calling itself the Unified CPN(M). For a fuller discussion of the RCP, USA's fundamental differences with the line and direction which this party has increasingly adopted in the past few years, see "On Developments in Nepal and the Stakes for the Communist Movement: Letters to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2005-2008 (With a Reply from the CPN(M), (2006), published in Revolution #160 (March 29, 2009) and available at A PDF document—Letters to the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2005-2008 (With a Reply from the CPN(M), 2006)—is available online at [back]

2. "The End of a Stage—The Beginning of a New Stage" is a talk by Bob Avakian in late 1989, published in Revolution magazine, no. 60 (Fall 1990). [back]

3. Bob Avakian’s new synthesis is spoken to in "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity," Parts 1 and 2, available at; the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation, a Revolution pamphlet, May 1, 2008, which includes "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity"; Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, a Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, September 2008, available online at, in Revolution #143, and in pamphlet form from RCP Publications, 2008; and "Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: What IS Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis?," a speech given in various locations around the country in spring 2008, available online at [back]

4. Conquer the World? The International Proletariat Must and Will, published as Issue #50 of Revolution magazine (December 1981), available online at [back]

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Why DO People Come Here?*

Why do people come to America? Because the capitalist-imperialist system of the United States has messed up the rest of the world even worse than what it has done in this country. One example—among many—is Mexico.

As part of gaining its riches and power, the U.S. has made it impossible for many people to live in their own countries. To get a deeper understanding of how this system works and how it controls and shapes people’s lives, look how it is that immigrants from Mexico end up in the United States.

1 150 years ago, after Mexico became independent from Spain, the United States waged war on Mexico and stole a large part of its territory. One of the main reasons behind this was that slave owners in the southern U.S. needed more land. The U.S. replaced Spain and other European colonial powers as the alien force dominating and plundering Mexico. In the early 1900s, during the Mexican Revolution, the peasants in Mexico had been promised land. But in reality the masses of peasants have continued to be exploited as poor farmers while their country is plundered by the United States.

2 Throughout the 20th century, U.S. capital expanded into and increasingly dominated farming in Mexico. U.S. capital has increasingly integrated Mexican agriculture into the needs of the world market. U.S. capital dominates and distorts Mexican agriculture, and increases Mexico’s dependency on imperialism.The imperialist powers, especially the U.S., have increasingly forced the Mexican government into debt. Then financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund—which are dominated by the U.S.—put tremendous pressure on the Mexican government to cut social aid and services to pay off their debt. These financial institutions also pressure the Mexican government to promote crops that can be sold on the world market—which is controlled by the rich countries and their financial institutions. Land and resources have been shifted away from basic food production and the results have been a disaster for the peasants. Peasant farmers are growing crops, not for their own needs, and not necessarily for what is needed in Mexico itself. They are growing things geared to a world market dominated by companies controlling billions of dollars.

But the Mexican peasants cannot compete in this world market and are not able to survive by farming. For example, in Chiapas, most peasants used to grow corn and beans. But over the years many have switched to growing coffee for export. When the price of coffee fell on the world market in 1990, thousands of Mexican peasants were ruined.

Peasants harvesting cempasúchil (marigold) flowers in the fields surrounding Cholula town in Puebla state, Mexico, 2007.

3 The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (signed between the U.S., Mexico and Canada) has intensified the already desperate conditions of many peasants in Mexico. NAFTA mandated that the Mexican government drastically cut farm subsidies to small farmers, while in the U.S. agricultural exporters continue to receive the equivalent of $10 billion in subsidies per year. In 2004, 10 years into NAFTA, nearly 30 percent of Mexico’s population was living on less than $1 a day. As Mexico became more dependent on imports of corn and wheat, it also became more vulnerable to sudden world market price rises. So NAFTA has also aggravated the problem of hunger. From 1994-2004 (according to World Bank figures), 6 million campesinos, or one-quarter of the rural population, were forced to leave the countryside and look for another way to survive. In Mexico, only one-third of new job seekers entering the employment market will find a job. This has put even more pressure on people to go to the U.S. to look for work. Emigration has reached the level of 600,000 people per year who risk their lives to cross the border into the U.S. In 2007 alone, 562 people died crossing the border into the U.S.

Many small farmers in Mexico have been ruined by NAFTA’s policy of allowing foreign food companies to import their goods without tariffs. The exploited and unemployed people of Mexico’s rural areas make up 44 percent of the migrants to the U.S., even though they only comprise one-quarter of Mexico’s population. Many of Mexico’s domestic industries were forced to close when NAFTA allowed foreign industries operating in Mexico to import materials from their own foreign suppliers. Many foreign companies who took advantage of NAFTA’s “free trade” provisions to super-exploit cheap labor in Mexico have since moved to China and other countries where the price of labor is even cheaper. This has caused a large increase in Mexico’s unemployment rate.

2007 demonstration in Mexico City against rising corn prices.

4 Through all this, hundreds of thousands of peasants and others have been forced to leave their homes in Mexico, to look for work, to search for a way to survive, in the United States. And in the U.S. they face intense and brutal discrimination and exploitation—working in the factories and fields, once again to enrich the capitalists—living in fear every day that they will be rounded up by the immigration police.

The stand of the revolutionary communist movement—and of everyone who hungers for revolution—toward immigrants must be clear: to welcome such immigrants as brothers and sisters… to insist on equality of nations, including equality in culture and language… to stand with them as they oppose repression… to draw on their desire for revolution, encouraging them to get into and spread the new revolutionary thinking of Bob Avakian… and to recognize in such immigrants a source of great strength for the revolutionary movement to put an end to this system, and bring in a new, revolutionary one that is truly internationalist.


* The text and photos on this page were inspired by a section of the talk by Bob Avakian in the DVD—Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, where he talks about “Why Do People Come Here From All Over the World?”
[Here is the link to the audio of this section:] [back]

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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The Revolution We Need...

The Leadership We Have

A Message, And A Call, From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

This Is NOT The Best of All Possible Worlds…

And We Do NOT Have to Live This Way

"The land of the free, and the home of the brave." "The leader of the free world." That’s what they always say about this country. But this is a Big Lie.

The truth is that we live under a system that, from the start in this country, built up its wealth and power by enslaving millions of Black people, stealing land from Indians and Mexicans through war and genocide, and working many people, including children, literally to death. It is by such murderous means that this system has expanded "from sea to shining sea" across this continent—and around the whole world.

Read on…

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Serial Killers of the Oakland Police Department Strike Again

Eight months after the murder of Oscar Grant by BART police—after protests in the streets, after several meetings about a citizen’s review board, after saccharine official apologies mixed with vicious official threats against the people—the police are still shooting people on the streets of Oakland. On August 1, a Saturday night, Brownie Polk, a 46-year-old father, was shot to death by an Oakland cop. This is the second killing of a Black man by the Oakland Police Department in less than a month. Parnell Smith was shot by OPD on the same street, International Boulevard, about 55 blocks away, on July 15.

A woman officer shot Brownie Polk multiple times at close range. The police claim he was advancing on the cop and threatening her with a hatchet. But Brownie’s friends and relatives say that Brownie carried tools everywhere he went, and would not threaten anyone. Police say that the liquor store owner called them because Brownie was creating a disturbance, but the store owner denies that he had called police, saying that Brownie was well known at the store, came there every day. A clerk there told Revolution that he was shocked to hear about the shooting, and couldn’t believe that Brownie would threaten anyone. Another clerk told the media that it was the officer who charged at Brownie—and then shot him. Brownie Polk’s sister told the San Francisco Chronicle, “He would never charge at police with a hatchet. He would never do it. I would bet my life on it.” The OPD says the shooting was justified, and that a surveillance video from the store backs their story, but as of the writing of this article the police refuse to release the video.

Revolution newspaper, the Revolution Club and others went to the East Oakland neighborhood shortly after the incident was reported, to investigate, to expose the system behind this murder, and to build resistance, as part of building a revolutionary movement. The revolutionaries distributed the statement “The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have,” and pointed people to the part which reads: “It is up to us: to wake upto shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rat-race…to rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world…when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness…those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.”

Five minutes on the street and you knew two things: Brownie Polk was loved. And people were angered at his unjust execution. “It was murder. It was something we always feared growing up, being killed by the police,” said Tony, a childhood friend. “I loved Brownie, and every day I go to the memorial [outside the liquor store] to light the candles.” Another friend wrote a statement about how she loved Brownie, and sarcastically referred to the cops’ lies in the Oscar Grant case, asking, “Was this a mistake again? Maybe they thought they were reaching for their taser, but instead they reached for their gun. Did their finger slip and accidentally shoot him four times instead of one? Do you think that a hatchet could travel as fast as a bullet?...No, I don’t think so. It’s his line of work, that was a tool of use to do his job and I don’t think it would have been as fatal as a bullet...oh excuse me...four bullets!”

Brownie grew up in Oakland, and had lived in the same house in that neighborhood for many years; everyone knew him and relied on him as a handyman; he did construction, painting, fixed the kids’ bikes. He was always working and always ready to help.

Friends said Brownie had a playful saying, his way of talking about the oppressed, he said it all the time, “Don’t forget about the little people.” And this appeared on tribute t-shirts and on memorials inside and outside the liquor store, and outside of Brownie’s house. “Don’t forget about the little people.”

The revolutionaries distributed the statement from the RCP in front of the liquor store where he had been killed. People stopped to talk about their outrage against this latest police murder. Soon a small number of revolutionaries and people from the neighborhood took off down the street toward Brownie’s house, chanting, fists in the air: “Justice for Brownie Polk” and “No More Stolen Lives, Enough is Enough.” By the time they marched back to the store there were about 50 people.

People from the neighborhood spoke on the bullhorn and talked of Brownie’s love for his neighbors: Black, white, and Latino. And they loved him. An older Mexican couple told us that they were one of the first Mexican families to move there many years ago, and Brownie was the first one to break the ice, to welcome them to the neighborhood, and called her “Ma.” “The police think they can do whatever they want. And that can’t go on anymore. We have to do something,” said an older Latino man. “We need a much better future for our little ones.” Women pointed out that Brownie respected them, and would escort the women wherever they had to go. In front of the house where he had lived, many people cried as others spoke out about Brownie and against what the police had done. One man talked about the hopes that Brownie had for the “little people” changing the world. The revolutionaries agitated that we need a revolution, and that we have a plan, organization, strategy and a leader, Bob Avakian. The chants became: “What do we need?—Revolution! Who’s gonna make it? The little people. Who’s gonna lead it? Bob Avakian.” Some people already were familiar with this revolution through the newspaper, and one woman had worked with the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression, and the Criminalization of a Generation, but many were just hearing about the RCP and Bob Avakian for the first time. People wanted to know who Bob Avakian is and more about him, and the revolutionaries summed up there’s lots of openness, but that we have a lot of work to do to help people delve into materials like the statement and the DVD—Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About. A man from the neighborhood told people to find out for themselves by getting the newspaper and urged them to “get with this revolution family.”

The next evening we returned and many people welcomed us again. People were still grieving, hurting, but quite a few wanted to give expression to their outrage. So there was another march through the neighborhood, and young women from the neighborhood played a big role, taking up the bullhorn, and challenging people to come off their porches and join it. They led chants in English and in Spanish. We soon ran out of the posters we had made with the excerpt from the statement with the faces of Brownie Polk and Oscar Grant. Some people in the neighborhood who had been active with the RCP in the past embraced us as old friends, and spoke out, answering some of the political questions others had, about revolution, about Bob Avakian, and whether revolution, and this party is for real, like the stickers say. As the evening continued, some Cuban neighbors played a rhumba on congas, cowbell and shekere in front of the house. Friends and family had a barbecue in Brownie’s honor and generously and warmly invited the revolutionaries to eat, and stay and talk some more about ending police murder, about revolution and about the far better future that is possible as well as urgently needed.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Building a Revolutionary Movement... Right on the Spot

Dear Revolution,

I am writing to share a few experiences and ideas for building the campaign to spread the RCP’s new statement “The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have.” [Revolution #170, July 19, 2009] What we’ve been trying to do is to create some real buzz about revolution in the community and at the same time enable people to get involved in building this revolutionary movement right on the spot.

In one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, we wanted to prepare the ground in advance for the RCP’s new statement. This is a community where there are foreclosed homes standing everywhere—glaring testimony to a bankrupt system which is rotten to the core. On the boarded up fronts of these foreclosed homes someone apparently put up billboard-like walls with some of the back pages and centerfolds of Revolution. One of these posters called out the brutal beating of Rihanna, another defiantly declared: “A Fetus is Not a Baby.”

When the new statement came out, we went back to the community and found that some people had been studying and discussing the posters among themselves. We approached three young women on their porch. One of them said she wanted another copy of the newspaper, and they all began discussing the different posters they had seen up on the walls. Later, a young man called Revolution Books and said he had been reading the posters as he was working at rehabbing these foreclosed homes. When the revolutionaries came through again with the new statement, he got really excited and he wanted to share his ideas on how to spread this much more broadly in the neighborhood. Another youth from the same area called the bookstore to say he really liked the new statement and the issue “on the females.” (“A Declaration for Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity,” Revolution #158, March 8, 2009) He said he would join us at the bookstore for a discussion of that issue and would try to pull some of his friends into it.

We also developed “organizer kits” in nice red plastic bags which we take out on every outing and prominently display when we set up tables. They have been very well received by people, and are a main form of drawing people into the campaign on the spot. During one neighborhood outing, we got out eight kits in the last 45 minutes after deciding we needed to give a lot more emphasis to calling on people to spread the word and get down with this more deeply.

The $3 kit (we charge more whenever possible to supplement costs for people who can’t afford more) includes five copies of the new statement, a copy of the new Manifesto from the RCP (in newspaper form) [“Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage,” Revolution #143, September 21, 2008], “The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System, and the Revolution We Need” [Revolution #144, October 5, 2008], “A Declaration for Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity,” a promotional plugger for Bob Avakian’s memoir [From Ike to Mao and Beyond], and, a copy of the “sampler” of Bob Avakian’s DVD, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About. One teacher bought 50 copies of the statement to use with his high school students this summer, and we’ve decided that we were aiming too low in the number of copies of the statement, and need to include more copies of the statement, including fliers of the shorter version.

When we take these materials out, some of the people we meet are finding the ways to become part of this campaign. We were out at a street fair wearing Revolution tee-shirts, and a man in his 30s came up to our table and wanted to know: “What is this revolution about?” He said, “I’m down with the revolution. Where is my tee-shirt and what can I do?” After discussing what this is all about and showing him some segments of Bob Avakian’s DVD he left with an organizer kit, a tee-shirt, and the special offer (Bob Avakian’s DVD and a 10-week sub to Revolution). He said, “Bob Avakian is going to teach me about being a revolutionary.” A vendor we met is getting the statement out to all her customers and has made suggestions about where in the community to show the DVD and distribute materials, and a delivery driver is helping to get the statement out as he does his runs.

A reader

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Joe Veale writes to prisoners:

"The Revolution Needs You"

To My Sisters and Brothers Behind The Prison Walls:

The revolution needs YOU. Needs you to consciously and actively join the struggle to initiate a new wave of communist revolution in the world that is being led by Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

Many of you probably know that the RCP has recently issued a major statement: The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have.

This statement is the focus and pivot of our Party’s efforts over many months, reaching and enlisting many, many people, in a campaign with many parts and dimensions.

It has 3 inter-related aims:

First, we intend to really put revolution out there on the map in this society so that millions here and around the world know about THIS revolution.

Second, we intend to make Bob Avakian a “household word,” someone known throughout society, with growing numbers checking out, getting into and supporting his work, his thinking and his leadership.

And third, we aim to draw forward a core of people who see it as their mission, and are guided by the Party’s vision and line, to go out and actually fight for this line, win people to it, organize them into the revolutionary movement and struggle for them to become communists and then to join the Party once they’ve made that leap to being communists.

Here’s how you can contribute to this major revolutionary effort under the conditions you are in.

You are in a “special” position to struggle with—make the case with—deeply move, inspire, and win many, many to act for the cause of revolution. Think about it...

Young people who today are trapped, double trapped—whether in middle school, high school, or no school—especially in the inner cities of this society—nonetheless, trapped in the dog-eat-dog ways of thinking and acting, the human rat race that this system imposes on people here and all over the world—literally feeding off of all this—these youths need and can get the fuck up out of that shit and get into THIS revolution. But they can’t do it alone. They need leadership. And as a part of that, they very importantly...need to hear from YOU.

It would be very powerful and inspiring to receive letters from you that would be printed in Revolution, posted on its website, and/or read as part of cultural/artistic performances, read in the schools or the street corners—speaking to the youth about what their lives should be about—challenging a whole generation about what they should live and die for...revolution. YOU going on a mission to wake up and shake up these youth to this liberating reality.

*  *   *

We have the leadership we need for this revolution. That leadership is Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

It is rare in history when an individual comes along who understands how to navigate the revolution from beginning to end. All the way to total human emancipation. Who understands this clearly and scientifically.

The last time in history an individual like this existed it was Mao.

Personally, I was in a lot of turmoil, spent many sleepless nights, after Mao died and the counter-revolutionaries were able to reverse the revolution.

Why so much turmoil? Why so many sleepless nights? I worried and agonized over whether the masses would have the leadership we need to remake the world. This is what Mao had provided the masses over the world with—enabling us to consciously and scientifically understand things as they really are—so that we could go about making sweeping, world historic revolutionary change.

I scanned the globe in search of this. Determined to go wherever in the world and directly follow such leadership once out of the pen. Ironically I saw this leadership potential come through my cell bars in a pamphlet from RCP Publications written by Avakian. It was called Revolutionary Work in a Non-Revolutionary Situation—and “my mind was blown” with how Avakian understood and could apply the communist method of dialectical materialism. Which is captured in the title.

Even then it was clear to me—though at the time I considered Avakian a “youngster” in the communist movement—that Avakian was developing the ability to provide communist leadership in the way of Mao.

The fact that he has continued and continues to develop in this way—going beyond Mao—Mao had discovered and developed the understanding that the revolution had to continue under socialism, under the dictatorship of the proletariat to reach communism—Avakian has recast the best of Mao’s understanding of this—dusting it off where it needed dusting off—where it would not have led to emancipation—he has put THIS revolution on a clearer, more emancipatory, and more scientific basis.

This is the reason why it is now more possible than it has ever been in history... for the masses of people here and throughout the world to understand, see, and fight for total revolution. For communism. For the complete emancipation of humanity.

We have a special, rare, unique, precious leader. A great champion of revolution and a great resource for people here and all over the world as the RCP statement says.  

Yet there’s a contradiction. An irony. Especially in U.S. society people do not know of this great champion. This great resource.

But many, many of you do. Once again YOU have a very, very important role in changing this. You can contribute to this especially by writing us at Revolution on your insights and thoughts on the need for revolution, the importance of the leadership of Bob Avakian, and connecting all this with the new generation.

Also by corresponding with your families and friends about this. Spreading the word on the grapevine so others can do the same.

We want to get these letters out and about right away. Some of these will be published in a special issue on prisons which is coming out early this fall. Send your ideas and contributions for that as well. Let us know when to expect them.

Lastly, even though circumstances put confining restrictions on you—you speaking out in the ways I’m talking about will/does inspire others—including many, many from the middle strata. What you understand about the importance of Bob Avakian and the need for revolution can be a means for all kinds of people getting into THIS revolution.

Continue with your revolutionary transformations as you continue to deepen your ability to understand and fight against the even larger circumstances (your situation is part of) the capitalist/imperialist system and not be crushed by it.

Continue your study of Revolution and the writings of Bob Avakian. Get to know him more deeply. As a revolutionary thinker, leader and person. And get to know what turned him into such a leader. Read his truly moving life story in the book: From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist.

Become part of the initiators of the movement to bring on a new wave of revolution to emancipate humanity.

With a Communist Embrace,

Joe Veale

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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A Letter from the Youth:

Funds Needed for Special Issue of Revolution

People often complain that young people are too focused on themselves to care about the world around them. Well, it’s not so simple. We are writing to you from the Revolutionary Youth Summer Project in New York—where young people from around the country have come together to put revolution on the map, to work to make Bob Avakian a household name, and to build a movement for revolution. We are connecting up with a new generation. And we are learning about how many young people wish the world could be different, but how much this system has kept from them about how change can come about. We have done social investigation to learn about the dreams and the nightmares of the youth. Now we are putting all this into a special issue of Revolution newspaper directed at high school and middle school students.

This special issue will take on the myths and confusion, often taught in schools, surrounding communism and the past communist experiences. It will critique some of the culture that is widespread among the youth—and discuss the actual impact of this on people. We will explore just what sort of future this society has for the youth, including what young people have said to us in their own words. This special issue of Revolution can bring forward young people, challenging them to hook up with this revolutionary movement and to engage with the leadership of Bob Avakian.

This special issue needs to get into the hands of many, many thousands. This is where you come in.

We need funds to enable us to produce, print and distribute lots of copies of this special issue to as many young people as we can. We need funds to produce a high-quality issue that not only captures the attention and imagination of young people, but challenges them not to ignore reality-—but to be a part of actually transforming it. We need funds to get this out to all kinds of places, including the classrooms. If you’re a high school teacher or middle school teacher order bulk copies.

Your donations will go towards helping to build a revolutionary movement among a generation that is increasingly being written off, yet has so much potential.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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“If Revolution could get into more prisons…”

The following correspondence is from Ray Hill, a co-founder of the Pacifica station KPFT in Houston and host of the weekly radio program “The Prison Show”:

Allies in Struggle:

I am an activist in Houston, Texas, who began organizing in the mid 1960’s in the civil rights, anti-Vietnam war, gay/lesbian rights, and free speech and press movements. I am a co-founder of KPFT-FM, Houston’s Pacifica radio station. I was sent to Texas prison in 1970, sentenced to 160 years (20 consecutive eight-year sentences) for commercial burglaries. In 1975, I was released by discharge after four years four months and 10 days. My release was the result of my jailhouse lawyering.

Instead of losing my commitment to struggle, I nurtured it in prison but I left haunted by the empty men I left behind. Beaten down by their brutal keepers and by their own guilt, shame and fear, most are resigned to their oppression and actually fear being released to continued drug, alcohol and other forms of self abuse that can only lead to their return.

I felt I had to do something about their loss of hope. When I became the first ex-convict and openly gay person to be approved as general manager of an FCC licensed broadcast facility in the U.S. in 1980, I started “The Prison Show” to politicize and encourage Texas inmates. That has continued for more than 29 years.

You can help. The problem is that those oppressed by prison are convinced they are only getting what they deserve. I am reminded but a quote from Sister Harriet Tubman when being recognized for freeing hundreds of slaves, she said: “I could have freed thousands if I could have convinced them they were slaves.” So it is with prisoners. They are slaves and they are surrendered to their slavery status. If we could expose them to revolutionary ideas, some would begin to drop their self imposed shackles and learn to walk and think upright.

The Revolution Newspaper is asking for donations to a fund that will pay for the subscriptions to the paper sent to inmates inside prisons everywhere. On “The Prison Show,” I reach 22 Texas prisons in my broadcast footprint and two federal prisons with access to radios, all in the greater Houston area. On most Friday nights I have several thousand prisoners listening for encouragement. If the Revolution could get into more prisons, the subscribers would have the tools to carry the message to others around them and help generate hope and maybe the beginning of self worth that can help shake off the oppression they have come to accept.

Do nothing and nothing will happen. Support this effort.

I’ll see you on the radio.

Ray Hill, Houston

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Brutal Police Raid on Home of Juanita Young

As we go to press, Revolution has learned that late Saturday night, August 8, as many as a dozen or more plainclothes New York City police staged a brutal raid on the home of Juanita Young. Juanita Young is the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was murdered by New York City police in March of 2000 (see “Victory in Civil Suit Against NYPD: Jury Awards Millions to Family of Malcolm Ferguson—‘The struggle is far from over,’” Revolution 6/17/07). She is an outspoken and tireless fighter against police brutality, repression, and the criminalization of a generation.

In the raid, police broke up a family barbeque, viciously assaulting people, and arresting seven of Juanita’s children and friends, including two of her daughters. At this writing, some of the victims of the police attack have been released, and face criminal charges. Family members and witnesses are very concerned about the condition of Juanita Young’s son J.J., who—according to witnesses—was beaten and pepper-sprayed particularly brutally, and appeared to be in very bad shape, and who has not been released or hospitalized as we go to press.

“They killed one of my children and now they are attacking my whole family…. But they are not going to make me shut up.” – Juanita Young

The day after the raid, Juanita Young told Revolution: “They killed one of my children and now they are attacking my whole family.” And, she said, “They’re going after my children to get at me — it’s like they’re saying ‘We killed one and we can take them all.’ But they are not going to make me shut up.”

* * * * *

Photos of the beatings (by plainclothes police identified only by their guns, clubs, and in some cases visible yellow armbands) are available online at Revolution will have more details on this outrage, and news about ways people can protest at

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Revolution Publication Schedule & the Campaign Around
The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have

The special issue of Revolution (#170) with the message and call, The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have, will be the pivot of revolutionary work for the upcoming months. In order to enable all those who are joining the revolutionary movement around this message and call to accomplish great things, the schedule for the upcoming months will be: three consecutive new issues of the newspaper, and then one week when there will be no new issue. During the weeks when there is no new issue of Revolution, there will be a focus on getting out the message and call in great numbers, and drawing people into the revolutionary movement.

Readers should stay closely tuned to “Spreading Revolution and Communism” features in the print edition of Revolution, and check in regularly at the “Spreading Revolution and Communism” link at for more correspondence on getting out the message and call. Discuss, and learn from the experiences of others—for example, the article “Building a Serious Movement for Revolution” (Revolution 8/2/09) has important suggestions on how to organize a good fundraising event, in the context of building a revolutionary movement with roots in communities.

The schedule for the next several months of publication is:

There will not be a new issue of Revolution shipping on August 17. On the weekend of August 22-23, people will be reaching out to new areas with the message and call, showing the DVD “Revolution—Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About” by Bob Avakian, and holding fundraising picnics.

New issues of Revolution will be shipped on August 24, 31 and September 7. The issue that ships on September 7 will be a special high school/middle school issue.

No new issue will ship on September 14. On the weekend of September 19-20, there will be another wave of outreach into new areas with the message and call, the “Revolution” DVD, and fundraising events.

New issues of Revolution will be shipped September 21, 28 and October 5; the October 5 issue will be a special issue on prisons and prisoners.

Stay tuned to the “Spreading Revolution & Communism” section of the print and web editions for more news, reports, and correspondence.
Send reports and correspondence to To volunteer to work on producing Revolution newspaper, contact

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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A brief comment on the summation in the "A Reporter’s Notebook 'All That Has Been Hidden'" as well as some threads from other "snapshots" and summations run in the newspaper


I thought that the insights in the Reporter's Notebook re "it really jumps out that people from different backgrounds and strata have been systematically denied a basic understanding of what is meant by revolution, socialism and communism; of the nature of the U.S., and the role it plays around the world; of the fact that we live under a capitalist-imperialist system, and the implications of that for humanity" and the different ways that this presents was helpful in terms of getting a better sense and texture of how this is presenting itself as we go out with this campaign; and further, the reporter's argument, that given such "lack of basic understanding," "we have to constantly remind ourselves of everything that has been hidden from the masses, and everything that has been distorted. And, proceeding from this recognition, we have to be as specific and as substantive as possible in laying out exactly what kind of revolution we are talking about, what socialism and communism mean, what the tremendous achievements of past socialist societies were, and what the content and vital importance of Avakian’s leadership is" is also something to which attention needs to be paid.

At the same time, as part of these insights, it is also important to understand that this lack of a basic understanding of the underlying dynamics and resolution of the problems humanity faces is not expressed as a "blank slate" in terms of consciousness, that is people do have definite or vague synthesis and ideas about the world, what is possible, and views on revolutionary leadership (in the various ways these were reported on in the "Notebook" and other summations). That is, people have "verdicts" on these things. These "verdicts" are based on their "training" by the system, by defeatism in their own lives, etc., though the ability for these "verdicts" to have legs is related to the points of the "Reporter." On one level the statement ["The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"] speaks directly to this "what people don't know" phenomena, and gives an agitational "hook" to acknowledge this ("If you have not heard about this..."), without being defensive or getting stuck on what people don't know, and being able to further engage. On another level, I think that there is a certain "dignity of actuality" in terms of the leadership of Bob Avakian that has to be grasped deeply and on a correct basis, and which can actually drive people to re-engage these questions more "on the ground" so to speak. That is, in their own thinking to begin to re-engage these questions from the viewpoint of "well I had not seen the possibility of (revolution; doing more than getting some reforms; doing more than just surviving; etc.) but the fact of this revolutionary leader changes the equation." In some of the "snapshot" summations there were glimpses of this dynamic. I think that the following segment of the statement is something that should be discussed by revolutionaries taking out this campaign as a pivotal point of agitation to break through the "verdicts" (stated or unstated), as a way to engage people with the reality that there is a revolutionary leader with a scathing indictment of the system, with a worked out vision and plan for how humanity can emancipate itself, a leader of a revolutionary party which is building a movement for revolution in this country NOW.

"Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing."

These sentences above should become very central to how we are engaging the masses, this in turn will both draw the advanced forward (because in the substance of these sentences is an expression of the possibility of revolution); and this will also become, from many angles, a very contested proposition—the energy around this should become a every important driving dynamic of this campaign. And this can become a living "pivot and hinge" around which we can be "as specific and substantive as possible in laying out exactly what kind of revolution we are talking about,... the content of Avakian's leadership," and his vision of communism. The point here is that we have to learn how to "sell" these truths in a living way which brings forward and challenges the advanced and sets the framework and terms of on what basis we are struggling more generally with people. Another way to put this, is that "what people don't know," while part of the terrain we must confront, cannot be setting the terms of things; the above segment, and the statement overall, which is the "pivot and hinge" of the campaign, must set the terms and framework in the culture we are developing around this campaign.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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From a staff member of Revolution Books, Cleveland

The situation at the Akron Women's Medical Center has escalated since the murder of Dr. George Tiller, the doctor from Wichita, Kansas who was one of the few doctors who did late-term abortions.  Every Saturday, women come to this clinic for abortions, but on their way in, they have to confront a gauntlet of loud and threatening anti-abortion protestors.

On July 18, the anti’s were right up in the face of people, yelling and waving their phony fetus posters.  Before anyone knew it, one of them hit Charles Wright, a long time women's rights advocate, so hard on the side of the head that he knocked him out.  Charles was rushed to the hospital, where doctors discovered that he had 6 broken ribs. He remains in intense pain, can barely sleep, and ended up with a hospital bill totaling $38,000.

As soon as we heard about this, we hooked up with a Revolution subscriber from Akron and went to see Charles, who told us that in the wake of this attack many people were fearful of going back to the clinic.  We all agreed that we had to make it clear to friend and foe that we will not back down in the face of this attack.  We decided to put out a broad call for people all over Northeast Ohio to come to the clinic for a rally on Saturday, August 1, under the slogan, Women are not incubators! Fetuses are not babies! Abortion is not murder!

This was a challenge because we were just beginning the campaign to take out the statement  from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA: "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have."  But the call itself states: "It is up to us: to wake up... to shake off the ways they put on us, the ways they have us thinking so they can keep us down and trapped in the same old rat-race... to rise up, as conscious Emancipators of Humanity. The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world... when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness... those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."

With this orientation, we got the word out – We posted on Facebook, sent out massive emails, got it up on our website, made lots of phone calls, contacted the media, and talked with people in the pro-choice and women's movements.  The Akron Beacon Journal and the Cleveland Scene Magazine published articles on the attack on Charles and the call for the rally.  The word was getting out!

At the heart of our message was the quote from Sunsara Taylor, "When it comes to abortion, there is ONLY ONE moral question: Will women be fully emancipated human beings in control of their lives and reproduction OR will we be forced to submit to patriarchal male authority and to breed against our will? A woman who cannot decide for herself, without any shame, judgment or restrictions, when and whether she chooses to have a child, has no more freedom than a slave. The movement to forcibly deny women the right to abortion and to birth control is a movement to enslave women. With its aims, its methods, and its morality, there can be no compromise".

The rally was very controversial. Some of the Akron folks initially said they were too scared to return to the clinic.  Others in the mainstream pro-choice movement argued against the protest, sometimes in ways that weren't so honest.  Emails got sent claiming that the rally was cancelled, some tried to downplay the seriousness of the attack on Charles, others said that we should rely on the police, and that our protest would hinder the police investigation, and that the clinic didn't want us to be there anyway.

The response from some in the pro choice movement reminded us of the article by Andy Zee in Revolution, "In the Era of Obama: The Collapse of 'The Movement'; the Resistance and the Revolutionary Movement We Need"

“A grievous, shameful and dangerous state of affairs permeates the movements of opposition in the U.S. Their outlook and politics have collapsed into passive acquiescence and even overt criminal complicity with the policies and actions of the ruling class, and are doing so by promoting the deadly illusion that the election of Barack Obama is bringing progressive change.

This is bullshit, it’s knowable, and it must change.”

On the day of the rally, we unfurled a huge banner reading, "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology," marched up to the police station, right across the street from the clinic.  There were already people there waiting for us!  All told, about 25 people gathered, outnumbering the anti-choice thugs! 

From the moment we arrived, there was a feeling of newfound strength and a spirit of determination and boldness to get our message “Abortion on demand, without apology” out there. One clinic activist told us, “I could cry right now because of all the support here and the fact that so many people came out."

Moments later, an antiabortion nut came across the street and tried to block our banner with their sign. We responded by blocking his sign with one that read "Dr. Tiller HERO", and kept moving our banner to get in front of his. The same guy called the police more than once during the day to complain about us stepping into the street or about our bull horn. At one point, the police came and ordered one our crew to bring the bullhorn to the police car, but we all said, “No way he is going with you.”

Right after this we noticed a young man yelling at the anti abortion crowd, so one of us went to talk to him. He said how hard it was for him and his girlfriend to go through with an abortion and then to hear these people made him furious.  We got him a leaflet and copy of Revolution #158, "A Declaration for Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of Humanity."

After that, the women heading up the clinic told us to bring the banner and all the people over to their side of the street.  From that point on, the anti-abortion forces were on the defensive and the guy who tried to block our banner backed off. Almost everyone coming in and out of the clinic took a flier, and thanked us for being there.

Throughout the day, we got out Revolution #158 and #171 to almost everyone there. Some people we talked to were interested in revolutionary solutions to horrors like the attack on abortion rights to the horrors of imperialist wars as in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also got out several of the Revolution #170, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have.”

We talked to people about how we need resistance, like what we were doing today, and we need to build it stronger as part of a revolutionary movement that could lead to getting rid of capitalism/imperialism that has the women and oppressed people throughout the world in unnecessary chains. It doesn’t have to be this way.

People were full of passion about the need to fight to keep these clinics open.  Charles, still bruised and in pain, proudly showed up at the rally, and said, "I got hurt for doing this, for protesting for abortion rights. You have to fight for what's right!  I believe in a woman's rights over her own body.  A fetus is exactly that...a fetus.  And it's not a child until it's born.  I love women and I respect them, and I respect their decisions."

There was NO talk of how we have to find common ground with the anti-abortion forces, and this struck us as significant because of the prevalence of this line of thinking in society more broadly (and clearly promoted by Obama), and also within the pro-choice movement nationally.  While people didn't buy into the “common ground” position itself, we did struggle with many who were defensive about making the choice of abortion.  Most disagreed with patriarchy, but Revolution #158 was a great resource because people didn't really understand where it comes from and why it is being forcefully escalated, and what to do about it. Many people were openly unapologetic about not believing in the Bible, and not using religious arguments to defend abortion, or feeling the need to be “soft” on the horrors of religion. 

Here is some of what people had to say about how they saw things and why they came out:

"I'm old enough to remember when abortion wasn't legal, and the ugly things that happened.  I've been here before, not often, but in the light of things that have been happening in this country, I feel the need to come down here more often and not let these protesters walk over this clinic."

"Abortion is not, not, murder.  It is a basic women's right.  It's about the women."

"There aren't many abortion providers left in Ohio.  And especially with Dr. Tiller getting assassinated, the escalation of violence at the clinic has gone up. Before it was just verbal, and now it's physical.  They used to just occasionally trespass."

"I haven't been on the streets much (to protest) since I had a little one.  I became a mother by choice, but parenthood isn't for everyone.  I feel very fortunate to have grown up with (access to and education about) birth control and abortion.  And I want my daughter to have the same.  If we're not out here doing this, it's not going to happen.  I never understood how they stand out here with their signs but never want to do anything about the massive inequalities in society.  They're the same people voting against affordable health care and child care.  It just doesn't make any sense."

On the slogan, Abortion on Demand and Without Apology: "I think it's perfect.  I don't believe we should make lists -- if you were raped...if it was incest...Fuck that!  If you don't want to be a parent for whatever reason, you don't have to be." 

"You can just feel the love. We have been run over by these people for months.  They hurt people, and they don't care.  And their religion tells them it's ok.  And if that's religion, I don't want any part of it."

After the rally some of us got together to talk..  For some, including Charles, it took a lot of courage to be there and this added to the significance of the moment.  Our bold presence at the rally was a shock to the anti-abortion forces, who were more subdued than anyone can remember.  One woman described how in the past the anti’s were so aggressive that they would dog the women all the way up the steps to the second floor door of the clinic, ranting in their ears the whole way.   But the rally that day had been a dramatic turn of events.   Someone said it was such a relief to see our response in coming to the support of the boyfriend of a woman who was getting an abortion—when the anti’s surrounded him and started their shit and he went off on them, we were right there by his side.

Looking ahead, we talked about how this was an opportunity to develop a network to continue and strengthen a movement in support of Abortion on Demand and Without Apology.  The “Chain of Life” anti-abortion onslaught in October is something that people were aware of and wanted to be able to bring people to action around in the future, in addition to ongoing support at the clinic.  There was a tremendous amount of concern and anger about the presence of Christian fundamentalism pervading society, uneven understanding about how they are increasingly backed by the state, and about the toll taken on women who need abortions, because of the ever more repressive laws being imposed.

We proposed that people organize a reading group around Revolution newspaper, to be able to put this question into perspective of what’s going on in the world and learn more about the nature of this system of imperialism and how a revolution can happen.  One guy nearly fell out of his chair.  “You guys are for revolution, you mean a real one...?!?”  The conversation turned to “what kind of revolution?”  One person said he had heard that in 2010 Russia would collapse and this would lead to a general world crisis that might bring these powers down.  One woman was critical of NOW—they do nothing—why aren’t they raising hell right now?  Why aren’t people in the streets?  Why do people continually see all these outrages and turn again and again to hopes for changing some law or another?  She said she cares about the whole world, everyone should – and thought a big problem is that people don't look at the big picture.

We showed Part 4 of the DVD "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What it's All About." People heard about the ongoing oppression of Blacks since the end of the Civil War, why immigrants come here from around the world, the oppression of women and homosexuals—and all the while they say, “this is the greatest country in the world...”  People laughed at Avakian's biting sarcasm, saying “thank you!!” to his sharp exposure, and repeating along with him the fact of a woman being beaten every 15 seconds in this country. 

At the end, we all had a hard time saying goodbye.  We left with some beginning plans for a reading circle of Bob Avakian's "Away With All Gods," and more. 

The next day, the Akron Beacon Journal ran another article on the protest itself.  Included in the article was a quote from a staff member of Revolution Books:

"Lee Thompson, an abortion advocate from Cleveland who writes for Revolution, the newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party U.S.A., said she helped to get others out on the protest line because of the escalation of violence.

''We are here to say that we will not allow threats, intimidation and violence at women's clinics,'' she said. ''We are here today to stand up for the right to abortion on demand and without apology.''

Off of these 2 articles in the Akron Beacon Journal, there have been posted over 50 pages (!) of comments on their website.  These comments include many spirited and unapologetic defenses of the right to abortion, along with a lot of fascistic rantings –  against women, against abortion, for the bible.  And within this, some have openly called for more physical attacks on clinic defenders and on the Revolutionary Communist Party. 

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Taking "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" to Chicago's Bud Billiken Day Parade

On a very hot Saturday, the 80th Anniversary of the Bud Billiken Day Parade took place on the south-side of Chicago. Drawing together thousands and thousands of Black youth and their families spanning generations, it is the largest single gathering of its kind in the U.S.

The highlights of the parade were the youth in the school marching bands, drill teams, in-line skaters and other performers who wowed and amazed the crowds lining the parade route, cheering with an exuberance that did not wilt in the stifling heat.

Each year, the parade marks the return of the youth to school but no one ever mentions the horrendous conditions these school-age youth confront. In one Chicago school in the Black community, over 10% of the students are homeless. Less than 50% of the students finish high school in the city's public school system. As the Message and the Call ["The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"] from the RCP puts it, "... despite the good intentions of many teachers, the educational system is a bitter insult for many youth and a means of regimentation and indoctrination overall...."

The t-shirts passed out by the Chicago Public School system were a cruel joke—on the back they had a list of what these children can supposedly become: lawyer, doctor, teacher... a list that ended with president. They forgot to list prisoner or dead. Last summer, the police in Chicago shot and killed over 12 minority youth in a 2 week period! In July 2009 over 240 people were shot (40+ killed) in Chicago in waves of what the press dismisses as "gang violence."

There is a dark ominous cloud that increasingly hangs over the parade...the contingents not just from the military, but from military-run PUBLIC schools...under Arne Duncan, now the Obama-appointed U.S. Secretary of Education, Chicago became home to the largest number of public charter schools literally run by branches of the military. We're not just talking ROTC, and not just talking military recruiters who are now a fixture, but WHOLE schools run by the Army or Navy to create a pipeline of youth into the military.

At the end of the parade route when one military academy contingent was disbanding, revolutionaries were there handing out a free back copy of the newspaper with the front cover "Don't Be a Buffalo Soldier." The students' commander—a special ops type guy—got into a yelling match with the distributor... "you are harassing these students"... "you can't give this stuff to them"... "I'll have you arrested" to which there was a feisty back and forth for all to hear. "You are training them to be killers for the empire"... "You are lying to these students, you can't keep the truth from people." As students continued to take the newspaper, the commanders started grabbing them back out of the students' hands and whisked them onto buses. The revolutionaries vowed to be outside the opening day of school.

As the statement says: "A system which offers million and millions of youth no greater purpose, no better fate, than crime and punishment, or to become a mindless killing machine for the system itself—that alone is reason enough to sweep this system from the face of the earth!"

The revolutionaries needed to bring the message and the call from the Revolutionary Communist Party into the whole parade scene. Thousands of leaflets with the call on one side and Bob Avakian's statement on Willie Mobile Shaw on the other side were printed up, along with a few thousand neon yellow stickers with big block letters saying "EMANCIPATORS OF HUMANITY" with

The police presence at the parade is massive and meant to be intimidating, especially to the youth. The police have exhibited a particular hatred for anything calling out police violence and previous years have snatched banners, surrounded anti-police brutality marchers, tried to shut down the informal vendors and passed more rules and regulations.

The revolution needed a bold presence. This required getting good places for the tents at the entrance to the park where the parade enters. And forming up teams to go out into the crowd before the parade started, when the streets are lined with people just waiting around. But early in the morning the crowds are thin and it would be relatively easy for the police to try and shut the revolutionaries down without many people even being there to have our backs. So only the Revolution booth skeleton was set up at the crack of dawn to hold its primo spot, but no banners or displays were hung yet. The revolutionaries gathered across the street but wore other shirts over their Revolution t-shirts. The red flags were not unfurled. The truck which would hold the display "NO MORE STOLEN LIVES" of all the people killed by the Chicago police had a good spot on the route but the display lay in the truck bed.

As the crowd began to fill up in the park, the revolutionaries went around and talked to the neighboring vendors and picnicking families. Kitty corner from the park, the police were amassed getting their assignments. When the police dispersed, then the revolution booth was unveiled—everything had been prepared in the days before to put it up in short order—the banners 15 feet in the air. One banner with the Revolution newspaper masthead and the other with the full title of the DVD of a film of a talk by Bob Avakian in large letters [Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About]. There were displays on three 10 x 6 foot sides of the tent. All the literature, stickers etc. came out. The Revolution t-shirts were unveiled and the team going out into the crowd practiced their chants louder and moved out in the parade route. In 20 minutes or so, the Revolution was in the house.

Three sides of the tent were vivid color displays. One side had a 6-foot enlargement of the short version of the statement; the cover and centerfold of the special issue of Revolution #170 and a special section on the leadership we have in Bob Avakian. Turn the corner and there were color enlargements of the covers of the "A Declaration for Women's Liberation and Emancipation of All Humanity" and the "Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of this System and the Revolution we Need." Each was framed by a quote from Bob Avakian. There were other graphic pieces drawn from Revolution newspaper. The back page poster about the beating of Rihanna still draws a lot of attention and discussion. Woven through all this were scenes of "spreading the word about revolution" to all sections of people. Turn the corner again and this side was a stark depiction of the horrors of imperialism with recent center spreads enlarged from Revolution—the world food crisis; we are being lied to about the real causes of Africa's oppression and suffering; democracy + capitalism = imperialism and the centerfold on the worldwide oppression of women.

It gave a sweeping picture of the world we live in, and why only communist revolution could solve these daunting problems, and how this party and Bob Avakian could lead such a revolution. In the days leading up to the parade, newer people helped lend their creative juices and political thinking about what/how to convey our message through the displays. Something to keep building on and improving.

Another canopy was set up for viewing of the DVD Revolution, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian and a place for people to gather and talk. Playing in the background was the ghetto re-mix, songs by Nina Simone, and the reading of the statement by Joe Veale. Once the parade started, the noise was so overwhelming it drowned out all the other sound including attempts to watch the DVD.

Like flies the police began to hover around the truck that held the display of people murdered by police. In spite of a legal observer challenging them on this, the police wrote bogus tickets on the truck—"license plate too high"; "commercial vehicle in residential area"—when the whole street was filled to the brim with cars and commercial vehicles parked legally and illegally. This blatant harassment will be fought.

The contingents of people, all dressed in their Revolution T-shirts and carrying red flags, had marched out chanting. One chant was a familiar rhythm with startling content:

"Everywhere we go,
People want to know
Who we are, so we tell them
We're for revolution,
We're with Bob Avakian
Fighting for emancipation of all of humanity.

Heads turned and people reached out to get thousands of flyers and the bright yellow stickers Emancipators of Humanity. The police surrounded the group—and tried to stop them from marching, eventually confiscating dowel sticks (less than one-half inch thick) that held up the red flags. As the police tried to say you can't parade—the contingent pressed on as eager hands grabbed the fliers and the police backed off in their efforts to get them to cease and desist.

Some of the people who had gotten the paper from the contingents got some money and came back to the table to pay for them—others took the revolutionary "tour" around the tent. The displays elicited some deep discontent with the way things are or hit home about the oppression of women or the locking up of the youth. A mother talked about her son railroaded to 11 years in prison. Others said enough is enough and wanted to see people come together to make a radical change and then there was a lot of debate over what that means. Some more readily endorsed the concept of a revolution—and were challenged to become part of a movement that is seriously working for revolution. Others who came by spoke to how they had a bad feeling about communism. Or how repression comes down on people when they get too close or too much of a following like the Panthers during the '60s. They wrangled with questions of how to advance in the face of repression. They opened up to the possibility that they have been lied to about the achievements of socialism and what communism really is.

Many stopped at the enlargement of the special supplement—and we read sections aloud so it would have the full impact—this is where we are going, this is communism, this is what the emancipation of all humanity is all about. People from a nearby hospital took bundles of fliers back to work and some to pass out on the bus ride home. One 20-something woman and her kids looked at the displays. She was going back to college. She said you don't hear people talking about the common good of people—most people think about themselves. She was challenged to take that on—the world didn't have to be dog-eat-dog-look out for number one—that a whole other world was possible. She got an organizer kit.

The youth were mainly running in small posses. At the parade to see and be seen. It was harder to engage them more deeply on the spot. When the challenges got sharp, that usually opened things up. One young man boasted "I can't read" when approached with a leaflet. He was challenged—"I think that is bullshit. Everyone I know who is illiterate doesn't brag about it. You need to know about the world, the revolution we need and the leadership for this revolution." At this point his friends were cracking up and all took leaflets.

Another person reported, "In challenging a group of very street young guys around the need to spread revolution and the leadership we have with Bob Avakain, one guy stood up and said seriously, we were just talking about the need for leadership in the world, some of the others guys laughed, but he was serious, he said he would check out the flyer." One young grouping of high school girls came by—when talk turned to Professor Gates—one young woman jumped right in—about how the cops had busted this professor right in his own home! The other girls were a bit taken back—wow—she really knew what was going on—with that they studied the displays on the tent. At the end when asked what struck them another young girl said "people are going hungry—that's not right"—she was looking at the pictures of the women from Haiti feeding her child dirt and grease to keep them alive. This opened up further discussion around what capitalism and imperialism does around the world and why it doesn't have to be that way. There were a few younger people who spent time at the booth going more deeply like a ninth grader who asked a lot of good questions—history of communism, democracy and capitalism, Obama and could he fix things and ended up watching sections of the Revolution DVD. This kid's family is also into Cornel West and he ended up getting an organizer kit and a CD of the Dix/West dialogue in Harlem for his dad and signed up to hook up with the youth.

More than a few older people rolled their eyes when we spoke about the need to bring the youth forward—to get out of the "life" and get into revolution. Others promoted religion, but many with a social justice approach to taking on oppression. They were more open to listening to the CD of the dialogue between Carl Dix and Cornel West, which a number of them got. But their religious beliefs really blinded them to the underlying dynamic of this capitalist/imperialist system and left them look to "getting right with god" and leaving the big decisions up to Obama.

The revolutionaries made an important beginning impact. Much more needs to be done to crack open the space among the youth including by drawing forward those who are willing to step out and go up against the pull of the social scenes and the intimidation of the police. Recognition should be growing of the revolution we need and the leadership as we head towards opening of school and the challenge needs to be deepened these youth that there is no greater purpose and no greater cause to which to dedicate our lives than the emancipation of all of humanity.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Bringing "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" to Leimert Park in L.A.

This past weekend, a bilingual DVD showing of "Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About," a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, was held in a well-known breakfast and dinner/jazz club in Leimert Park which is the center of the African-American arts scene in LA. Outside on the sidewalk, facing the street, a large vinyl banner of the cover of the DVD announced the showing. A diverse group of 20 people came to watch the DVD including 2 Spanish-speaking people, store owners from the area and younger people from different parts of the region.

We presented a special selection of excerpts which played in both Spanish and English simultaneously (with Spanish language translation run through headphones). It included sections of "They're selling postcards of the hanging," "A world of rape and sexual assault," "Not fit caretakers of the earth," "Why do people come here?" and "Imagine.. a new society." One of the themes of the selections was how communist revolution could not only end national oppression but emancipate all of humanity. The program was hosted by Clyde Young of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and Michael Slate, writer for Revolution newspaper and KPFK (Pacifica) radio show host. After the showing, Clyde challenged people to get with "The Revolution We Need… The Leadership We Have" and we got into it. 

The people who showed up were serious and some had come from quite a distance. It was the younger folks who jumped in: One young white man took a 3-hour bus ride to get to the showing. We had met him in an area where we had taken a sound truck, done a DVD showing in a park, went back the next week and met a number of youth at a free jazz festival at the same park. He wanted to know, "what will you do with all the wealthy people, because they won’t want to give it up?" Another white student just out of City College studying public policy asked how you go from a situation of doing a lot of education, to a revolutionary situation?" A Spanish-speaking immigrant invited people to join this revolutionary movement and engage with Bob Avakian’s works more deeply.

A middle-aged Chicano former musician wondered later what you do with investment brokers in the new society and how do you get people to not just think of themselves? He was very interested in Avakian’s new thinking around middle class people and how to incorporate them into the dictatorship of the proletariat. Two young Black men came later in the showing. They said that they had known Mobile Shaw and spent many hours up at his house watching the DVD and talking about revolution (See "Statement by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, on the Occasion of the Death of Willie 'Mobile' Shaw" on the back page of Revolution issue no. 171). They stayed for the whole discussion and one bought a bundle of the special issue afterwards, saying he used to be into this, and hasn’t been active for a while, but wants to get back involved.

One shop owner came to the showing to support it and to dig deeper into Bob Avakian’s works herself, and a friend of hers, another shop owner, came as well, though left very early saying she had just wanted to check it out. The shop owner who stayed for most of the showing kept crying out "That’s right!" during parts of the beginning section on "They're selling postcards of the hanging." The next day, she thanked us for inviting her, and said that Avakian was both "extremely intelligent" and "very down to earth" and she said she liked all of what she saw, and agreed with all of it. She repeated "he was so sincere and down to earth" and said this world "is so crazy" that you lose sight of many things. She said she went home and told her sister that they weren’t going to have any Buffalo Soldier stuff in their shop (which they had almost ordered because some folks had been telling her she should). She said she told her sister "Buffalo Soldiers carried out murder and we should know this, but then with all the craziness you lose sight of’s very good to have Bob Avakian out here telling people the truth about this."

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Some thoughts from people in New York doing phone banking on the message and call from the RCP "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"

In the phone banking we found that quite a few people who got the statement at the July 14 Carl Dix/Cornel West program had not yet read it. Our experience has been that to get people to engage this actually takes work and does not happen spontaneously. When we called people back we encouraged them to read it—and we read parts of it over the phone on the spot—several of them really liked it and were particularly struck by what the statement had to say about the youth and off of this a few of them came to the Raymond Lotta program, "Why Everything You've Been Told About Communism is Wrong, or Why the Bolshevik and Chinese Revolutions Were Breakthroughs in Human Emancipation" and have hooked up with the youth volunteers. From people being very busy, to not reading long text over the internet (where even the statement is considered long), to going up against a priori assumptions people have as to what they think will be in the statement (clouded by the predominant narrative and verdict that revolution and communism is neither possible nor desirable) it actually takes work to connect and get people to engage the statement. Where we have sat and read the statement with the basic masses this has been a very important method of getting people to engage and even where this has gone on in full—it's also taken going back into sections of this and drawing out what people think.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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A plea to my generation...

Hey there,

I would like to say that I have been very inspired by all of the correspondence that has been sent in from people. It is really great that you all are posting it online and in the paper. I have definitely learned from other people's experiences and wonderful ideas. I would like to contribute what turned out to be more of a plea than ideas on how to spread this further. None the less I have supported this newspaper for a while and felt compelled to send in some correspondence of my own. You all are doing a great job!

Keep up the good work!

"The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"

I would like to start off by saying that shortly before this call was put out I had been reading the memoir by Bob Avakian, From Ike to Mao and Beyond, and had been very inspired by reading about everything that was going on during the sixties. I really thought, before reading it, that the memoir was not a piece of literature that was very important. I didn't see how it contributed to the overall work that we have been carrying out. I was very wrong about that though. I can see how even in his memoir Bob Avakian has the method of thoroughly and often humorously explaining everything that was going on at the time and how it affected the way things developed including himself and the Party. So this was very inspiring in a lot of ways. For someone who did not live through that type of environment it is amazing to read about all the wonderful things that were going on at the time, and everything that Bob Avakian and the Party have gone through in order to stay on the Revolutionary road to Communism.

I was contemplating how I was going to work to contribute to that type of movement and to fight for it to be even more revolutionary this time around, in order to actually get on the path to Communism. At that moment I opened up the web page to Revolution and saw that "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" had been posted. As I went through and read the article those thoughts I had been having seemed to really connect with what this statement was calling for.

It was motivating as well as inspiring. I felt moved to get up and do something right then and there. And then of course I realized it was 9 am on a Monday morning and I hadn't even brushed my teeth yet; none the less it was a great feeling.

I agree that this call is right on time and right on point, and the ways in which we are working towards bringing into being not only a Revolutionary movement but a core of people who, as the Constitution of the Party poetically puts it, "want revolution so badly that they are willing, and determined, to be scientific about it."

Some of the things I have been thinking about lately have been how to actually break through the rampant isolation and relativism that plagues my generation. I guess people from my generation where raised with the "Don't talk about Politics and Religion" policy. . A lot of people my age are uncomfortable with discussing these things and quite frankly Houston seems to harbor that atmosphere quite well. My generation doesn't have the type of exhilarating society where debates about important issues are being discussed and debated. My generation doesn't have the type of society that stands up against continuing wars and police brutality. Not to say that it's not there at all, but it's too rare and too small. My generation doesn't have mass protests and great upheaval.

But my generation does have the type of leadership that can not only create that type of movement, but can actually enable us to be critical, to be scientific, and to be rebellious for the goal of actually breaking free from the brutally oppressive intolerable exploitative system of capitalist dictatorship.

My generation; we have been lied to! They say that we can't do better than this system; that it just needs to be reformed. They say that we're in the situation we're in because our generation just can't get its act together. They say that there are things that should not be discussed. They say that no one will watch out for you, so you might as well watch your own ass. They say all these things but when was the last time they listened to what we have to say? When was the last time the congressmen, the senators, the President came into your neighborhood and asked what you thought? Or got up on their podium and started talking about ending the exploitation, instead of making more jobs where when it boils down to it... you are still working for a relative handful to get rich off your labor! You're still working to maintain a system that spreads devastation not democracy all around the world. My generation; open your eyes! This world is intolerable, but we can do better than this! We have to work for it though. I know that in the age of microwaves, drive-thrus, Wikipedia, text messages, and all the other instant gratifications that we are used to; working for long term goals is a bit foreign, but we can do this! Let's organize discussions and meetings on the spot wherever we are, be it in the neighborhood projects or in the park. Let's do Revolutionary Poetry in the streets that inspire people to learn more about this Revolution. Let's incorporate the masses of people in protests and fundraisers.

There are so many people who need to be reached with this call, who need to be introduced to this Party and its leader and learn about The Revolution We Need... And The Leadership We Have. Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do!

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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"The Revolutionaries Are Here!" Taking out "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" to a high school and in a proletarian neighborhood

At the high school we went out there boldly in Revolution t-shirts, with a banner, agitating on the bullhorn, and plenty of copies of the call and statement from the RCP "The Revolution We Need ... The Leadership We Have." We got statements into the hands of the youth and a bunch of them signed up. That night we e-mailed the students who signed up, then came back the next day and got out more flyers and met more youth, getting into discussions with them mainly about the need for revolution.

All of us read the article by Andy Zee in issue 172 "Observations on Taking the Message Out in Harlem," and the next week we went back to fight to bring forward some of these youth, on the basis of honing in on the leadership we have. We learned that the controversy had begun to swirl in the school over communism, and whether or not it is desirable with communism being defined as "everybody's equal and gets paid the same." Also swirling seemed to be people taking positions on "the revolutionaries." One young woman didn't want a flyer and told us, "I'm not a revolutionary, I'm a Jehovah's Witness," while a young guy specifically said he's a supporter of us and what we're doing.

We made a half-page high school flyer with the picture of the dead Iraqi child on one side and the paragraph on what kind of future this system has for the youth in this country and that this system needs to be swept away, and on the back a picture of Bob Avakian's DVD Revolution Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About with the paragraph that it is up to us to shake this off and rise up, and the days when people aren't inspired and organized to stand up can and need to be gone. The flyer called on people to get with the revolutionaries and come to a nearby McDonalds to watch the DVD. This flyer was taken up by students who took stacks of them inside the school and passed them out in class.

We did DVD showings at the McDonalds two days in a row. The first day two rebellious students who hate the police and live near the McDonalds came and checked it out really quickly and took papers to get out in school. The second day a more serious 22-year-old who lives across the street from the school came with his 17-year-old friend who goes to the same high school but is not due back in class until September. They watched the"Imagine" track and the Q&A on smoking weed in socialism, and we talked about what kind of revolution this is, in particular a revolution of masses of people with communist goals and aims vs. individual acts of frustration. The older of the two very sincerely made the point to his younger friend that we have to be working for revolution now, we can't wait, because this is about the people of the world. He told us he really appreciates this leader and what we are doing. We told him we're recruiting into the revolutionary movement and he should join, and he said OK. He gave $2 for a bundle of 20 papers and then he and two friends came out with us the next day when we went into the community.

We have plans to follow up at the school with weekly DVD showings at the McDonalds, and we're aiming to meet some teachers who will invite us to come speak in classes, and we're talking to the contacts we've met.

In the neighborhood, we went to a shopping area where a lot of people go and did a march through the area with a small youthful crew. We held up the banner of the DVD, and we marched using the chant, "seize the day, seize the hour, the people need revolution, and political power." We ran into three white youth who had seen the paper at the Warped Tour and they marched with us until we stopped. They didn't want to run with us the whole day, but got the paper and gave their contact. Next time we should go at a slower pace so that we are able to talk to people who are checking us out and spend more time talking with the youth we run into about this statement and what we're doing and challenging them to take up bundles of the paper.

It was when we got into the neighborhood itself where people got a sense that "the revolutionaries are here." We had a large crew all in the Revolution t-shirts, and a sound truck playing one of us reading the statement. We talked to everybody out on the street and in the park and we went into the apartment complexes and knocked on doors. We talked to some youth who opened up and spoke bitterness about their encounters with the police, but we weren't really able to go over to a discussion about the kind of revolution we need and the leadership we have.

We told everybody we'd be doing a DVD showing in the park after dark and we did. We made a screen, hooked up the projector and played the DVD, loud enough that it could be heard down the block. A couple people decided to come over and watch some of it. This DVD showing contributed to the sense that the revolutionaries are here and not backing down, in the sense of fighting through on doing it and bringing people to it. The small crew that included the new youth also marched down a major commercial street in the area to where the theaters and restaurants are stopping at each corner to talk to people and get out the paper. It was loud and vibrant, with everyone holding up the paper, and stirred things up. The decorated truck followed the march and people kept coming up to it, wanting to know what this was about. Two people along the way had heard of Bob Avakian before and both basically said, "I think he has some good ideas," when asked what they thought of him. Seeing this march gave people a sense of seeing those ideas becoming a material force.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Revolution at Rock the Bells

Thousands of twenty-something proletarians, college students, older hip-hop heads, and a smattering of high school youth came to the day-long hip-hop festival Rock the Bells last weekend to hear artists like Nas with Damian Marley, Busta Rhymes, The Roots, and Ice Cube, and less mainstream people like Sage Francis. Rock the Bells is a festival that aims to have a rebellious edge—featuring many artists who challenge the status quo in different ways, who instead of only rapping about bitches and ho's and making money, include lyrics that rail against some of the outrages of this system. Every once in a while, you hear lyrics that encourage resistance to these outrages, or even inspire people to dream of a better world, but most of even the rebellious edge of this culture is unfortunately locked within itself, trapped in not being able to see any means of actually changing the world, and consigned to the idea that bringing out some of the truth through the music is as far as we can go to having any kind of effect on society. In fact, over and over again this is what we heard from many of the youth at this concert who hate the injustices they see around them, who think we needed revolution yesterday, but up until now have not seen any real possibility of that.

We've gone to Rock the Bells several years in a row, so our paper and the Bob Avakian DVD [Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About] are already known by some people. Some people expect to see us there and some of those have been watching carefully, checking us out. This year, we had a real presence with "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." The Revolution DVD banner was visible as people entered the parking lot, flyers of the message and call from the RCP, USA got into people's hands as they walked in, and then inside, the words of this statement emanated out into the walkways from the loudspeaker in the Revolution booth, alternating with the voice and words of Bob Avakian, as his historic Revolution talk played on a laptop screen in the booth. A five-foot enlargement of the statement with color pictures flanked the booth. Many people passing by the booth stopped to read parts of the statement and find out about this leader.

One youth in his twenties who'd met us last year and signed up to be on the e-mail list has been getting the e-mails from the bookstore. He came into the booth asking, "Do you have the Bob Avakian DVD?" He said he had listened to the Cornel West and Carl Dix dialogue on KPFK and wants to watch the DVD. He wasn't ready to get involved, didn't want to talk more or give his number, but said he just really wants to learn more and when he's ready he'll come to the bookstore. A guy from Arizona said he got the special offer from us last year, has watched the DVD and has been reading the paper. He loves the newspaper and shows it to all his friends. One of his friends who was there with him said he'd been reading the newspaper and thinks it's great. We asked what he likes about it and he said sometimes people are in this really small world of what's going on around them and the newspaper opens up what's going on in the whole world.

People had all different kinds of ideas of what revolution meant. Some people were into Che and said that's what it means to be a revolutionary—to fight for real and to give your life for the people. We told people who said this that Che had good intentions but he didn't have a strategy that could lead to liberation—in particular he didn't think the masses themselves could understand and change the world and actually uproot the relations of oppression and exploitation and thoroughly transform society. We told people this highlights even more the significance of THIS leader, Bob Avakian, who has tremendous confidence in the ability of the masses to change the world and change themselves in the process, and has developed revolutionary theory which can lead them to do this. Mainly the people we talked to who were more into Che weren't into pursuing this discussion when it came down to genuine revolutionary leadership that exists today and what's involved in actually making revolution.

Some people made comments that were clearly not at all serious about making revolution, best described as "infantile posturing and distortions of revolution" which is addressed in an article from called "Some Crucial Points of Revolutionary Orientation—In Opposition to Infantile Posturing and Distortions of Revolution." We used the orientation in that article to address these comments, but we should have also directed people to read it themselves (it's located as an appendix in the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation).

Other people said revolution was about people changing themselves as individuals, or that the way to make revolution—and really they meant a general idea of change—is through music that makes people more conscious. With many people who said these kinds of things, we went right to the need to get rid of this whole system, that this is the revolution we're talking about, and that right now we need to be fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution. For some of the advanced, when they realized we were talking about a real revolution to get rid of the whole capitalist system, they said yes we need it, but it's not possible, they are too strong, we would be crushed. We used the statement itself, reading from the enlargement we had where it speaks directly to this question. When we got to the part that "now IS the time to be WORKING FOR REVOLUTION—to be stepping up resistance while building a movement for revolution—to prepare for the time when it WILL be possible to go all out to seize the power," some of these people were looking at us with new eyes, and saying, "yes!"

A small detour: earlier in the week, a teacher at a high school where we've been doing a lot of work with the statement, said his students had come to him with the flyer and asked him if we were for real. He had taught them about the need for resistance, about different revolutionaries in history, and they saw the revolutionaries outside of their school and couldn't believe it was really real. This was how some of the revolutionary-minded people at Rock the Bells were. They spoke with a sense of urgency, almost desperation, for the need to radically change this world, and as they engaged what we were bringing to them, they grabbed onto it thirstily but also somewhat tentatively—like someone in a desert who is going to the pool of water they see, but also thinking it might be a mirage.

One person who was like this was maybe around 20 years old and he was at the concert with his girlfriend. It was the Fuck Capitalism t-shirt hanging from the booth that first caught his eye. He showed it to his girlfriend and they both came over to get a closer look. I showed them the statement and we started to talk about it, getting into some of these questions. I asked them what they think of communism. The boyfriend explained to me that he hates money, he hates what money does to people, what people do to each other to get money. He said he wants to see a world where people work together and share for the benefit of everybody and when he's said this to his friends, they've called him a communist—but he never really knew what communism was. We read the part of the statement about communism, and I began to tell them how the history of socialism has been kept from people, how these societies were turned back by the forces of the old order, but they didn't fail and we can go further the next time around. I showed them the picture in the paper from China, and described what was going on in that picture with everybody writing big character posters. They thought it was great.

I asked them if they wanted to see part of the Bob Avakian DVD where he talks about what a new society would look like. They wanted to know about who Bob Avakian was. I told them about how he developed into a revolutionary and a communist and how he has studied and summed up the experience of the first wave of communist revolutions, developed theory and strategy for how we can make revolution in this period and take it even further, and he is leading a vanguard party to initiate a new stage of revolution in the world. They decided to buy the DVD. I told them that we had a special offer with a subscription to the newspaper and we looked through the articles in the current issue. They definitely wanted the subscription, and they took ten issues of the statement to distribute.

An important component in how seriously people were taking us is how seriously we took ourselves. The more bold and confident we were in putting forward the content of this statement, the more it attracted the serious people to us—like one guy rushing into the amphitheatre heard us say, "we need a real revolution, we need resistance, and we're building a movement for revolution—NOW." He stopped, took the flyer and asked, "How do I sign up?" We told him to take a bundle of papers, to distribute them there at the concert, to donate money for those papers, and to give us a way to get back to him. He said OK, took ten papers, gave $5, and gave his number.

Our boldness also drew a couple backward comments from those who are more seriously against communism and revolution but didn't feel the freedom to do more than yell out something stupid in passing (one guy passed by the booth and said "fuck communists," another threw the flyer and said loudly, "oh I thought this was porn"). The word clearly got out that not only were we the revolutionaries, we were the COMMUNIST revolutionaries. Some people said they've read the communist manifesto and they like it. Some of them said it's a good idea but doesn't work. Others who hadn't engaged it that much and were pretty much just repeating what's commonly out there just passed by and said, "Communism doesn't work" or "It won't work here." At the end of the night we did agitation from on top of a milk crate as waves of people were exiting the concert. Again, some passed by and said, "I don't agree with communism," and kept walking while others stopped to talk about what they understand of communism. But many stopped to get the statement or get a bundle of statements, because they agreed: that the crimes of this system are intolerable and that we need "to be stepping up resistance while building a movement for revolution¼" and they were inspired and challenged by the call to wake up, to shake off the ways they put on us, to rise up as conscious emancipators of humanity.

After watching us throughout the day, one person came up and said he liked what he saw, that he's the organizer of an extreme sports event, and he wants to donate booth space for us to be there. A young Black man walked in to the bookstore the next day, saying he was in town for Rock the Bells, that he'd seen us there, had gotten a subscription to Revolution the year before, and he wanted to renew his subscription, get the DVD, and get a second subscription in Spanish. He told the staff person that he sends his paper to friends in different cities, that he doesn't know if any English-speaking people in his town would be interested in the paper, but there's a meat-packing plant nearby where a lot of Spanish-speaking immigrants work and he thought some of them would be interested. After talking it over with the comrade at the bookstore, he decided to get a bundle of 50 of the statement, half in Spanish to distribute at the meat-packing plant, and half in English to distribute to students at a nearby college.

Altogether, we got out over 2000 copies of the short-version flyer, 500 plugger cards for the Bob Avakian DVD, and more than 800 copies of the full message and call from the RCP, USA. Of the 800 papers, 500 went out in 26 bundles to people from all over the area and from other cities and states to take this back and spread it where they live.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Bringing Forward a Communist Core in the Spanish-Speaking Community

Dear Revolution,

In Part 8 of "Ruminations and Wranglings", Bob Avakian speaks to "the crucial importance of bringing forward and continually strengthening the communist solid core of, in turn, a broader revolutionary movement." In light of what he is putting forward, there was a meeting with some of the Spanish-speakers who have been taking out the message and call, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" to the Spanish-speaking community.

The purpose of the meeting was to learn from their experience in going out to achieve the three inter-related objectives of this campaign. How they understand it. What questions, ideas, and suggestions they have about who and how to advance and spread out this campaign, and then we wanted to get into how to continue to take out this campaign in a way that will continue to build on the three objectives—to change the situation where there IS a broad revolutionary movement in this country that everybody in society is responding to one way or another, that the leader of this movement (Bob Avakian) is known broadly throughout society, and within that there is a growing militant core who are on a mission to emancipate all of humanity.

One of those who have enthusiasm for taking this out, talked of the receptiveness from the masses to revolution we need. He told a story on how he would take out the statement to people, telling them about how god did not put us in this situation and how thinking that way would stop people. He said some would give money and take small bundles. He also spoke about a regular group of people he gets the paper to weekly, including some bundles, but he was having difficulties in figuring out how to be further organizing of such people.

A short clip was played from the DVD, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, where the Chairman talks about the masses need for leadership in order to strengthen the way this group takes that out and enables them to struggle with the people around it.

A question was posed, why is communism alive in the world and why is it possible for it to get some strong legs under it? To get into it, we read that section on the leadership we have.

One person spoke to the fact that he was running into some anti-communism but he thought most were receptive. At the same time, people in the group were coming up against how to make distinctions between movements in Latin America and the revolutionary movement we are trying to build. We discussed that in order to do this, we need to be using the message and call, as well as much more use of the DVD and Bob Avakian's memoir [From Ike to Mao and Beyond] (though only the first 6 chapters are in Spanish). It was also emphasized that we should be using the "Imagine" part of the DVD to give people a living sense of how the "wretched of the earth" have done this before, and how this is fundamentally different from what is currently being done in Latin America, by people like [Subcomandante] Marcos in Mexico.

Another person has shown a lot of enthusiasm for this whole campaign and felt that he has not been taking out the message and call correctly. He said that he has being taking this to smaller groups of people, rather then getting it out in bold and broad ways, which he felt was the more correct approach in terms of conveying the seriousness of what we are trying to do in projecting this movement as one that needs to grow by leaps and bounds. He said that we need to get the DVD out there, project it on walls or in the parks where there are soccer and basketball games, be in the t-shirts, with 10-12 people going into the Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, with our tables, raising funds with buckets like the picture on page 3 of the special issue, and put more emphasis on being bold.

There was a discussion about how to do both—being out there broadly and boldly, as well as having discussion with smaller groups of people—where the small needs to grow, and even the big needs to get bigger—with an emphasis on the broadly and boldly as was laid on in the editorial in the paper on taking out the message and call. The group came to the conclusion that our vision has to be more in line with having a bold and broad approach to bringing people into the revolutionary movement, where people will find their level of how to enter this movement.

Throughout this discussion there was a lot of emphasis on making more use of the DVD to show people who this leader is and the part in the statement about the precious and rare leader and what makes him so.

The group broke up with a determination to make plans, based on the discussion, for how to continue to take the message and call to the Spanish-speaking community and find ways to organize people on the spot.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Finding Bob Avakian

Ever since I found Bob Avakian accidentally while searching for something on the internet in 2002 or 2003, the orientation of my life has completely changed. He has truly inspired me and helped raise my political consciousness to the level that I am ready to fight for the revolutionary line: "emancipation of all humanity –this and nothing less than this..." being the lofty goal.

Having migrated to the U.S. from a third world country, I was among the millions of communists and other revolutionaries and progressive people around the world, who had been disillusioned after the Chinese coup of 1976 when capitalism was restored in China. The Soviet Union had already become a social-imperialist country after the death of Stalin. Not expecting to find anything truly revolutionary in "the belly of the beast," I was content to listen to Amy Goodman, read Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, and other progressive but not revolutionary voices. I did like Howard Zinn's "People's History of the United States," which was very insightful.

Having been in the U.S. for some time, I felt comfortable enough to think about participating in some progressive political activity and as a consequence joined the Green Party. Since it was the only visible progressive political party, and I could not imagine any revolutionary communists having anything to do with either of the two pro-imperialist parties [Democrat and Republican], I had a feeling that I may find some true revolutionaries, temporarily biding their time in the Green Party, waiting for a better objective situation.

The existence of a revolutionary organization like the RCP, and a leader of the stature of Bob Avakian came as a great but welcome surprise to me.

I must confess that initially when I looked at the topics Bob Avakian had written about, I did not take him seriously. Having read some Marxist literature, especially by Chairman Mao, I thought those topics had already been dealt with quite thoroughly. So what was the necessity of repeating them? But, when I actually got to reading Bob Avakian, I immediately knew that it was not the same. I had forgotten that Marxism is a living science, and needs to be continually developed, and human understanding of reality deepened. I knew that was exactly what I was face to face with. Ever since then, there has been no going back for me. I have come to firmly believe that what Bob Avakian represents in his vision and strategic orientation, is the correct revolutionary road that can deliver humanity from the horrors of today's world. Lenin said, "Without revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary movement." Considering the different strains of erroneous revolutionary lines prevalent today, even in the world communist movement, this statement has never been more true.

It is not an exaggeration to say that in Bob Avakian we have that kind of a rare leader who can make the difference in carrying the revolution through to the end, and beyond. His whole life speaks for itself. He is one leader who, since the upsurge of the '60s and '70s, and until today, has stayed the course and never wavered. He has made tremendous contributions to developing Marxism to a new level, employing the method of dialectical materialism. He has carried the RCP through all the struggles with their twists and turns on the revolutionarily road. He has critically examined and analyzed the experience of the great Soviet and Chinese revolutions, taking into account both their immense achievements and the errors and mistakes; and brought forward a new synthesis which can form the basis for unleashing the second wave of revolutions in the world.

Considering the crying need for a communist revolution, and the leadership we have in Bob Avakian and the RCP, it is time to spread the word; put revolution out there in the society, make Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP and leader of the revolution a household word, and bring a core of people forward who are actually ready to fight for this line.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Correspondence to the Revolution newspaper

from a reader–August 3, 2009:

I recently screened excerpts of Bob Avakian's speech, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About for a discussion group that meets regularly at a public library. At least 20 people came, older people, many of them descendants of immigrants from Europe and the Soviet Union who had settled in this modest income section of the city years ago. Few knew much of anything about Avakian or the Revolutionary Communist Party or the Revolution newspaper, but there was some familiarity with the legacy of Bolshevik and Chinese revolutions, unions and the old Communist Party and various versions of Marxism, McCarthyism and the 1960s in this country.

And indeed a very lively discussion followed the DVD excerpts, especially taking off on the "Imagine" section where Avakian concretely challenges people to imagine a very different world in a socialist society as a transition to communism. Every person took part, and, with the exception of a couple of staunch anti-communists, people were really taken with what they had just viewed, and almost everyone in one way or other expressed some level of agreement with what Avakian envisioned...about particulars such as a whole different system of health care, education, housing, and more...and what it would mean for people to be able to really fully participate in the big decisions in transforming society and people. Also, people compared that with what goes on under this system, "capitalism," including some sharp criticism of profit over everything, Obama, and how powerless people are.

Along with the real inspiration people got from the DVD, there were questions and doubts, expressed, with feeling. People said that they had heard some of these ideas before, but had been "let down," or disillusioned, and did not see it happening. Others said they had gone through, and expressed renewed anger mixed with demoralization about the McCarthy era and how many forces gave up on revolution, and the loss of the revolution in the Soviet Union. And "what guarantees" are there that that would not happen again?

People realized that there were no iron clad guarantees, but this got us into talking about how Avakian has led in studying and learning the lessons of the real and great advances made in the revolutions in the Soviet Union and China, especially the Cultural Revolution, and also the mistakes.

This was breaking new ground for these people. They had questions...for example, what does Avakian say about voting, voting here really did not change things, how would that be different? Someone asked about Nepal and what the RCP's understanding of that was, and was glad to hear of the articles and letters on the Revolution website. And it was very important to urge them to get the DVD, to go to the Avakian web site to read what he has said and written about these questions.

People were really engaged in this and even within the time limits, perhaps called for more focus, but then another question came up—"But how could you possibly have a revolution here?" along with "what keeps you going like this?" This led to explicit reference to the statement, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" and the three objectives in the editorial of the issue #170 of the Revolution newspaper. Everyone had a copy of this in their hands and now people took another look.

The session had run over time, but among the people who came up afterwards was a woman who at first seemed to be describing communism as egalitarianism...but in fact she really wanted to be sure that there would not be another class set up. Another said he appreciated the session, but there was still this "human nature." One who had been very vocal about being "let down" said that she was going to take another look at what the RCP and Avakian were saying. Everyone got information about the Revolution newspaper, the websites of Bob Avakian and Revolution Books, and one person got the full DVD set of Avakian's speech to view and send to family. For the people at that library the question of this revolution and the leadership of Avakian was in the house, and they will be thinking and talking about it with their family and friends.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Snapshot #4

A team of revolutionaries took to the streets and subways of a very multi-national section of the city to distribute the RCP's statement "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." This place has a concentration of immigrants from West Indian Island countries of Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent, Jamaica and a very sizable population of people from Haiti along with a growing number of folks from Mexico. Many African American people born in the USA live here as well. Revolution newspaper is fairly well known in the area with a regular readership.

The outrageous arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates was on everyone's mind and was a point of attention in our agitation which identified this as "reason 10,001" for why we need revolution. This incident was a gauge of the attitudes of people about the society we live in and the need as well as the desirability of revolutionary struggle. There were people responding to agitation about how fucked up is capitalism and imperialism but "What can you do about it?" In relating to the Gates arrest, some said, "This is the way it is and we gotta learn how to deal with it." Others were saying bitterly that it was wrong to sit down with a beer with the cop who perpetrated this outrage.

We also talked to people about the need for a communist revolution. Many would say that such a communist revolution would be desirable—but "is it really possible?" All kinds of reasons were cited: "the masses of people are not ready for this" or in some way they're just too much into survival, feeding their children or getting more for themselves. Many asked, "what difference can one person make?" We often responded to this by pointing to the back page of issue #171 and reading Bob Avakian's statements on the occasion of the death of Willie "Mobile" Shaw and challenging them to LIVE LIKE WILLIE MOBILE SHAW– a man who despite great personal hardship devoted his life to communist revolution.

We struggled for people to take a step to be part of the revolutionary movement, to take up bundles of papers. What really made a difference was challenging people that we have leadership in Bob Avakian, and we have a plan and a strategy for actually making revolution in this country. And we struggled over the point of needing to get out here themselves to change this situation. I found this day and in previous days taking out this statement people are seeing themselves as observers in all of this. In talking about this with one fellow who was old enough to remember Gil Scott Heron and "The Revolution Will not be Televised," we extended the analogy to say that not only is the revolution NOT some "reality" TV show being performed for your entertainment but it requires the concerted efforts of you and you and you to get with this right now and to make this real in society and the world. We didn't win most of the debates with people but there were a number who were convinced enough to start to take it up.

At the end of the day, our group was invited by a local Haitian business owner and friend of the revolution who treated us to a Haitian style dinner of roast chicken, brown rice, pepper sauce, green salad and plantains. We were also treated to a performance by the Haitian Drumming Students and members of a cultural group. Everyone danced around the room to the intense, pulsing beats. We were welcomed by the drummers and some of us spoke about the revolutionary movement we are building to liberate the world and emancipate humanity. When we left the drummers and our friend invited everyone to come back. The dinner with our Haitian friends was a major highlight of the day.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Taking out: "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"

Report from a major metropolitan area

Our team has been trying to learn better how to really connect with people and bring people into the revolutionary movement, people who really want to see a different kind of world. We brought together all our different past experience, both good and bad learning from it, taking a lot of knowledge and experience and people's different strengths, and applying it all to making the beginning with the message and call from the Revolutionary Communist Party (Issue 170), putting this out into society in a major way. We were not afraid of past mistakes, or even new ones, even though we were trying really hard not to make them, because there's really a lot at stake. We had real goals, we fought to achieve them, and we got better at making scientific summation as we went along, about what are the questions, how is it going, how are we doing so far, what is the impact objectively, what should we try differently. It's a very rigorous and scientific thing, making revolution!

One really great exchange we had was with a Black Honduran woman in her late 20s and her 12-year-old son born here in the U.S. The thing that was really good about it was that we had a deep engagement with them about the statement, including learning what they were thinking about the reality of the world today, and based on this, they came up with some meaningful ways to get organized into the revolutionary movement immediately right on the spot.

They both were really impacted by the pictures in the paper, and what we said about how it's a system of capitalism-imperialism and we need a revolution, and we have the leadership to make it. We asked had she ever thought about that before and she said, "No, but I should." We said that now was her chance and we could all sit down and read this statement out loud and talk about it, and how they can be part of spreading this and changing the world right now. She said okay, can you come back in about 10 minutes, and I promise I'll be ready, so that's what we did.

We came back and brought with us another member of our team who has a lot experience going to the people in the projects and barrios, and also a young friend of ours who himself is only in middle school and is beginning to get what this is all about and is eager to take out Revolution newspaper.

We squeezed into the living room, with our new friend's three other kids also sitting around listening or coming in and out playing, and we read the whole statement out loud and they all listened. It was challenging to figure out how to get started. First I tried to point out that there were three points the statement was making that people could share their thoughts on the way the whole system is, the need for revolution, and the Leadership we have. This was kind of a lot for people to wrap their minds around at once! Then our friend spoke up and said, "I noticed that it talked about god, that there are no gods and we don't need them. Well I believe in God." she explained, "That's the way I was raised." One of us spoke up and said that this is a way in which the truth is kept from people and in which they are kept down, being told that the problem is them and that what they need is religion. He talked about how he himself was raised in a family where people believed in God, and where they rolled around on the floor and said the devil was in them at church on Sundays. She shook her head and said, well that's not what I mean! And then we talked about how a communist view is about really knowing the world and understanding it.

Then there was a pause and the conversation went off in a different direction. We read outloud the section in the statement on the youth, on what this system does to them, and how this is reason enough for a revolution. This jumped off a whole conversation. Our friend talked about how the youth were out there killing each other, doing terrible things to each other, running around "like they're crazy," that they don't care, and that she's afraid for her son and doesn't go out or let him go out anywhere. She also posed the question –"Why?"—Why is it that the youth act like this, it just seems insane. She said that really she gets the point about it's a system, but said that she believed it wasn't all that, because some people do get out of the projects, some of them do act in the right way and have a job and try and support their families, so it is partly because of how these youth act that they get in these situations.

Then her son had a chance to speak up. He commented overall that people needed to come to together, to live in a different way where they weren't killing each other all the time. He said he felt like in order for that to happen, their environment had to change. We asked him what he thought a revolution was and he said, "A change." This was a really important point that people had to change their environment, and also his desire for people to really come together, and we explored this with him, going into how the only reason people can't is because there's this system that's in place and we need revolution.

Then his mom at some point decided to ask another question. She said, "Okay, but how are we going to do this?" A very important question! So we got into it.

We brought in that we were like a doctor trying to understand and cure a virus, that you have to know what that virus is and what its doing to get rid of it. We also brought in that we can actually understand how it is that the youth got into this situation, and why they are acting the way they do, even though it seems so crazy. That Bob Avakian breaks a lot of this down in his DVD Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, in terms of the history and foundations of this country and how we got into the situation we're in today, about how there came to be millions of Black youth in the inner cities with no hope of ever having a job, and the jobs they might have in the past when people came up during the great migration, having been moved all over the world where people can be more profitably exploited. That this shows how the system works, and you can look at the tags on your clothes and see that they are made in Taiwan, in China, in Vietnam, and all this wealth being produced is being accumulated and kept by a small class of people.

We said to them that if people were watching this DVD and getting into these things, this would be part of how we would do this, this would be building a revolutionary movement right now, that people needed to spread this statement everywhere to their friends and family and put it up in their windows and get it out in the neighborhood, that people needed to come to the DVD screening at a community church the next week, and bring lots of their friends and all their questions. We also posed that people needed to help us to learn about the terrain, about what people are thinking and where to go to get down with them and bring the Revolution, and how they can be organized into the revolutionary movement.

She thought about it for a while and then made a couple of suggestions. She said that we should go around to the beauty parlors and barber shops. She also commented that we should go into her son's school when they start in the fall and get kids talking about all this. These were really important ideas and we made plans right then to come back the day after tomorrow in the evening and she would go out with us to the barber shops. She took a copy of the DVD sampler and a paper and donated a couple dollars, saying when we came back she would get the special offer DVD and 10 week subscription, she also took fliers for the DVD screening and had an idea of three different buildings she wanted to post them in near there.

Overall, we have done some important work in the projects that represented beginning ways of people finding out about the Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have, and taking this up. Whether this will become a real buzz throughout this area and whether a core of people will come forward around this here, is very much yet to be determined, but we are taking the orientation from the message, "We mean what we say, and we will not back off or turn our backs on what we have started, on the people who need this revolution. We will keep coming back and digging in, to strengthen this movement for revolution, to build up the bases, spread the influence and organize the forces we need to make revolution. We will not be scared off, backed down or driven away. A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD, A MUCH BETTER FUTURE, IS POSSIBLE. WE HAVE WHAT WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR THAT WORLD, THAT FUTURE. IT IS UP TO US TO GET WITH IT AND GET TO THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING THIS HAPPEN.

More to come...

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Spreading the Word in Watts

A large group of us, all wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the REVOLUTION masthead in English on one side and Spanish on the other, went to Watts, in South Central Los Angeles, with a sound truck playing Joe Veale reading the shortened version of the message, The Revolution We Need.... The Leadership We Have. We got a very good response overall, especially among high school-aged youth. This is just a small slice of what happened that day.

Some parts of the area are more polarized in a negative way with reactionary Christian forces pretty outspoken and yelling at some of our grouping, like one woman driving by who stopped, asked if this was a revolutionary newspaper and if we are atheists; and when she heard us say "Yes!" she yelled, "You're going to hell!!" and then drove off!

Then we found others who hate that shit and just want them to shut up. We ran across an older Black man who had come out of his apartment looking for the woman among us who had just knocked on his door. He said he wanted to apologize because he was rude to her. "It's just that I thought she said 'Revelations' and I am sick and tired of these Christians coming around—I'm not a religious man. And now I realize she said 'Revolution'! and I want to apologize to her."

He took out a dollar to get the newspaper because he said he is familiar with it. And he said he knows of Bob Avakian because about two years ago a good friend of his had given him some CDs by Avakian. It turns out he was talking about Mobile Shaw. He said he supports this revolution, but more from the sidelines. He feels he's too old to get involved and has never joined any organization before. He bought the special statement issue, and then was interested in Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey From Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, but didn't have the money to get it right then.

He didn't give us a way to reach him; we'll be back in the area again soon and will look him up. One thing we summed up is if we are regularly at an outlet or a place in his area with discussions and showings of the DVD Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, people who are checking us out can find us and come with their hard questions, engage more deeply, and join in the revolutionary movement to emancipate humanity.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Warped Tour in Chicago: Entering the Fray and Taking on All Comers

There is No God! We Need Liberation Without Gods! Revolution!

From Penny Brown

The national Vans Warped Tour, a kind of alternative rock and punk mecca for suburban teenagers and young people 15 years running, had a distinct feel this year as crosses and other Jesus paraphernalia adorned a very significant proportion of the crowd. As the report to Revolution from a reader in Los Angeles made clear, Under Oath, a Biblical-literalist band was definitely in the house. They had a sign up on their booth, “American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God” which is straight up some horrific KKK shit. And then there was The Devil Wears Prada...and they seem to actually mean The Devil...Wears Prada, which we heard punctuates their songs (some of which feature Latin readings of Bible verses) with agitation on “The power of Christ compels you!” Both of these bands were featured on the main stage at the Chicago show. And there were other Christian bands as well.

Revolution Books had a table prominently featuring the new message and call on "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," along with a secondary focus on Bob Avakian's book, Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, the Declaration on Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity, and the recent centerfold of Revolution, “A Fetus is Not a Baby!” People who came to the table brought a lot of questions about the history and possibility of communism (in particular many of them believed “communism is a good idea, but people will never work if they get all their needs met whether they work or not”), and not a lot of people came with any real sense of urgency to change the world, or with a feeling about the need for revolution.  What they did have was a serious distaste for Christianity taking over the culture, and in particular taking over this festival in a very palpable way.

With all this in mind, we made a simple poster that said “There is no God. We Need Liberation Without Gods. Revolution!” and waded into the swarms of people walking around, one person holding the sign over their head and another with lots of copies of the flier version of The Revolution We Need, The Leadership We Have.

This was electric.

The person holding the sign was practically not even able to get his hands over his head before people began swarming around. Immediately, pro-Jesus dudes began yelling at us: “Didn't you ever believe in God? Weren't you ever religious?” And young atheist women came up and told them to back off, gave us high fives and took the fliers. We would debate whoever wanted to come up and get into it, while making sure to give most attention to the people who very actively supported what we were doing (including “I LOVE YOU GUYS!” and “I have to shake your hands!”). We had the distinct feeling we were saying what a lot of people wanted to say or at least that they longed for this to be taken on. And the debates would get going between the different sides around us as well.

One grouping of young men who were at least Christian right-wingers, if not straight up Christian fascists, got particularly hostile, but with them and everyone who would come debate us, they were not able to answer with any substance our challenges for them to prove that there was a god, or our challenges on the content of the Bible and the horrors that meant. They even went on to justify horrible crimes when we said, look if there were a god, he would be a monstrous god who would let all these horrors go on in the world, one of them said “if that's what's happening to those little children in India, then that's fine with me because that's how God wants it”. When they realized we were communists, one of them  tried to get me going with, “well you know, this guy's grandfather killed 15-20 of your people in the Korean war”. It was interesting that consistently, we were not on our own or allowed to be encircled by these kinds of people.  We backed up what we said, and other youth would come up to us for high fives and to get the flier, and sometimes to debate the Christian youth. That particular group of guys walked away, one of them saying loudly to his friends, “Okay, come on guys, we don't need to waste our time on these people. We're going to have all of eternity in heaven to be able to bitch about these people!” Some eternity! We replied.

Supportive, intrigued, and sometimes very excited people would come talk to us, and we would get them the flier, have some basic discussion and send them over to the Revolution Books table. A number of people made the effort to find their way through the maze of tables, following the big red flags which were waving above our booth. Once people arrived, there was some difficulty in pushing this initial excitement to the next level, in getting organized with the revolution (nobody bought an organizer packet) or in getting deeper on the questions. Everyone kept insisting (and pledging), I just want to take the flier and I'm gonna check out your website. We tried to sharpen up that there was real urgency to fight for a whole different future.  Okay, you don't like what you're seeing with all these youth getting organized around a Dark Ages mentality, but it's even bigger than you think (the people behind the curtains are powerful forces who run this system) and these people aren't going away without a fight. There is a way out of the madness, founded on science and a morality of liberation and that's revolutionary communism. You've been lied to about this, and so has everyone else.  You gotta be a part of puncturing those lies and spreading the word about this revolution and this leadership. Mainly people said, okay I want to check out the website. But through all this, around 1,000 copies of the flier went out. A number of people put on stickers featuring statements from Away With All Gods! and some even took them to hand out at shows they felt would have a receptive audience. Later, when we went to some of the shows, people would recognize us, “hey, you guys were the ones with that sign!” All of this had a big impact.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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Yard Sale

From a reader

A successful Dawn to Dusk yard sale took place Saturday July 25 to raise fund for the Revolution Books store in Cleveland and Revolution paper. What made it a success was not just the amount that was raised but also the mass effort to put the fundraiser together.

The response was fantastic and donations came in from all parts of Cleveland and outside the city. People who understand the need for the bookstore and paper were happy to give what they could. The event brings to mind the idea of a solid core with a lot of elasticity because people that donated came from ideologies all across the political spectrum. One person is leaning toward libertarianism but enjoys the paper and discussions so much he felt compelled to donate. Conversely, a woman who has been reading Bob Avakian for thirty years contributed for obvious reasons. There are many more examples of people giving which includes people from the Mexican American community outside of Cleveland, social workers, college professors, a woman battling to save her home from foreclosure, an unemployed artist, and many more.

Personally, I enjoyed working with others to advertise, collect items, and help run the sale. It was enjoyable because it served a meaningful purpose to help keep the store operating and the paper as the scaffolding of this revolution.

On the Saturday of the sale it rained twice but we were able to rescue all the items and come back with a flourish to raise over six hundred dollars in one day.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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From A World to Win News Service

Iran trials: Counterattack from a position of weakness

August 3, 2009. A World to Win News Service. On August 1 the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faction of the Islamic regime took their coup to a new stage in an attempt to terrorize and demoralize the people.

They announced the trial of about a hundred people arrested in events after the election, among them several leading figures from the regime's "reformist" factions who held high positions during the Mohammad Khatami administration previous to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency.

The timing of this trial was significant—two days after another round of courageous demonstrations in Tehran and other cities, and two days before Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei confirmed Ahmadinejad's second term in office.

The most important part of this trial was the "confession" of Mohammad Abtahi, Vice President during the Khatami presidency and campaign adviser to presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi. In his "confessions" he denounced Mousavi, Khatami and Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He reluctantly confirmed the "potential" for a "velvet" revolution in the country, claimed that foreigners fomented the protest movement and so on. The Islamic Republic media carried several interviews with Abtahi and a similar figure in which they described how well they had been treated in what they called a top guest house, how nice their interrogators were to them, and most importantly how they had changed their minds and grown while in detention. One thing they did not say is why this change took place.

Mousavi, one of the real targets of this trial and perhaps in danger himself, responded in a statement, "This demonstrates the moral collapse and disgrace of those orchestrating this scene." Khatami said, "This is simply a show trial… and the confessions lack any credibility."

These "confessions" were expected much earlier, because details of the torture the regime was applying to prisoners had already come out. It has been reported that even some members of the ruling faction were aware of the scandalous methods used to obtain them and opposed the broadcasting of the confessions for fear that they would further discredit the regime. Ahmadinejad is said to have sacked Intelligence Minister Mohsen Ezhei after a violent argument on this subject.

Even the website Alef run by Ahmad Tavakoli, close to the ruling faction, called this trial a "mistake." It warned, "Have those convening this court thoroughly thought through the consequences and impact of their move on the country's politics? " (Naser Imani, Alef, August 2, 2009)

Since its birth the Islamic Republic has repeatedly staged trials of its opponents featuring confessions extracted by torture or vicious psychological pressure such as the threat of rape or other harm to close family members. This is common knowledge in Iran.

In the 1980s, tens of thousands of communists and other revolutionaries were victims of this policy. Those who did not renounce their past and did not give TV interviews to condemn communism or their ideology or their organization and leaders or "confess" to relations with a foreign country, especially the "Great Satan" (the U.S.), were executed after trials lasting only a few minutes. Back then those crimes were passed over in silence by the so-called "international community," including human rights groups and other Western institutions.

This method has continued to be a main aspect of the regime's repression since then, used against different sections of the people, including these arrested in the raids on intellectuals in the '90s and then against the students after the 1999 upsurge in the universities.

The irony is that many of those who are now falling victim to these methods were in the forefront of their application against the communists and revolutionaries in the 1980s.

But whether such acts at this moment are tragic or bitterly comic, they represent a counterattack by the ruling faction of the IRI against the intransigent people's struggle as well as their rival faction. Those on top are trying to show that they are still in control. They are baring their rotten teeth to indicate that they are not going to back down easily. But the other aspect of the matter is that they are running out of effective options to contain the situation and have to resort to methods that are already widely exposed and hated by the people. There is much reason to doubt that these methods will work in their favor. They risk further isolation even within their own ranks, as more people within their own faction are wavering and questioning the wisdom of such acts.

The regime faces a situation where it has little to rely on within the country but its monopoly on force.

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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From A World to Win News Service

Hiroshima, Nagasaki and now

August 3, 2009. A World to Win News Service. August 6 and 9 mark the anniversaries of two of the worst war crimes ever committed—the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan just before the end of World War 2. About 120,000 people were murdered immediately, and painful radiation poisoning killed a similar number later. The shadow of the mushroom cloud continues to hang over the world because the U.S., the imperialist power that killed those civilians, continues trying to rule the globe and hasn't given up nuclear weapons. Nor have its imperialist rivals and other reactionary governments.

In April of this year, U.S. President Barack Obama made a declaration that would gladden hearts all over the globe if it were true: "I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." Yet in July when he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced what was supposed to be a step toward implementing that goal, the result was "little cause for celebration," according to an anti-nuclear weapons organization that says it shares "President Obama's vision of a world without nuclear weapons." (Nuclear Age Peace Foundation,

In reality this agreement doesn't make the world a safer place, and maybe just the opposite.

It is true that the world has seen a huge cutback in the number of nuclear warheads and missiles since the mid-1980s, even before the fall of the USSR. This has not meant, however, that the U.S. has surrendered its nukes. Under ex-president George W. Bush, it blatantly declared its plans "to dominate and control the military use of space, to protect U.S. interests and investments," which definitely includes strategic nuclear weapons. (The 2000 Rumsfeld Commission Report, cited on

The fact is that the Obama-Medvedev Joint Understanding represents little or no progress towards ridding the world of this scourge. The goal for the year 2016 is to cut the number of "strategic delivery systems"—long-range missiles and bombers and certain missile-launching submarines—by about a third. But the reduction in the number of deployed strategic warheads to be carried by these "delivery systems" would be much less. Due to changes in how "deployed" nukes are counted, the new limit of 1,500-1,675 warheads may turn out to be only slightly lower than the 1,700-2,200 level set by the Moscow Treaty signed by Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin seven years ago. (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 22, 2009)

"Deployed" is the key word here. It means ready for almost instant use. The announced reductions would focus on getting rid of weapons now in storage and scheduled to be recycled. In fact, although both the U.S. and Russia now each have about 5,000 nuclear warheads (amounting to 90 percent of the world's total), the number of actually deployed weapons may already be below the new agreement's limits: The U.S. and Russia have "more than 1,000 warheads on high alert, ready to launch within tens of minutes, even though a deliberate attack by Russia or the United States on the other seems improbable." (Bulletin) Since each of these warheads is many times more deadly than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this means much of humanity could be wiped out in the blink of an eye—and that would not change under this agreement.

The most flagrant problem is what is not in this agreement or anywhere else—a renunciation of the U.S.'s long-held doctrine of "first use" on which some of its military plans are based. The U.S. says it has the right to fire off nuclear weapons as it sees fit and even refused to promise that it would not launch a nuclear attack if not attacked with nukes first. So far, nothing has changed through all the U.S. administrations since 1945.

Along with that, the agreement makes no mention of tactical nuclear weapons, the kind the U.S. considered using on Iraq and is most likely to employ in the near future under foreseeable circumstances. Similarly, instead of destroying its older strategic nuclear weapons systems, the U.S. wants to convert them to what's considered tactical use, whether or not they are fitted with nuclear warheads. This is the kind of weapon most likely to see action soon. For instance, the U.S. has converted some intercontinental missile-carrying submarines to cruise missile launchers, and it does not intend to give them up.

Equally significant in terms of immediate relevance, Obama has also failed to heed a call made by several countries over the last decades to make the Middle East a "nuclear-free zone." If the U.S.'s concerns with Iran's moves towards nuclear weapons were really rooted in opposition to nuclear proliferation, then logically it would support this idea, which Iran might conceivably accept as well. But politically and most certainly financially and technically, the U.S. supports Israel's nuclear arsenal because those weapons further American interests and policy in the region, and they are non-negotiable.

Before the Islamic regime took over, Washington actually encouraged the Shah of Iran, whose government the U.S. helped bring to power, to embark on a nuclear weapons programme as part of Iran's then-role as a secondary pillar of U.S. domination in the Middle East. Today Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and says it welcomes international inspections. But the U.S. and its allies want to forbid it to gain the engineering skills and technology that could be used to make bombs in the future—already attained by many countries—because such weapons would break Israel's regional monopoly on nuclear terror. Israeli officials recently admitted to the authoritative U.S. journalist Roger Cohen that what worried them most is not a possible Iranian nuclear attack—possible but unlikely, in their view—but that Iranian possession or even "near possession" of such weapons would change the balance of power even if they were never used. ("The making of an Iran policy," The New York Times, August 2, 2009)

One reason why the U.S. was so anxious to sign this agreement with Russia has nothing to do with peace and everything to do with aggression: the U.S. wants to rally public opinion and other governments to its efforts to squeeze the Islamic Republic of Iran. Another reason is that at this summit, Russia agreed to let the U.S. use its airspace for the war in Afghanistan. These are not exactly steps toward peace.

At the same time, while trying to get Russian assent for more pressure on Iran, the U.S. is also trying to neutralize Russia's military power to pursue its interests in opposition to the U.S. While Obama hasn't explicitly endorsed Bush's plan to station American anti-missile systems in Central Europe, he hasn't dropped it either. Such anti-missile systems, though small, would be useful in blunting Russia's capacity to retaliate after a U.S. first nuclear strike. They would be useless against a Russian first strike on the West.

Obama's crusade against nuclear proliferation is a crusade against other countries getting in on this criminal game, and even that is subordinate to the interests of the American empire. Putting aside the question of North Korea (maybe two warheads), the two main nuclear newcomers, Pakistan (15 warheads) and India (75 so far), acquired this status with American complicity. No matter where it got the technology, Pakistan acquired nukes when it was a trusted ally of the United States, and now the U.S. is turbocharging India's nuclear program. (The U.S. supposedly is only helping India on the civilian power plant side, but the same arguments about the eventual dual uses of the technology in Iran are just as applicable here.) Could this be to contain China's ambitions?

The U.S. is unlikely to give up its nukes. But consider what would happen even if it did: In the last several years, no less a gang of proven war criminals than former U.S. secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, George Shultz and William Perry (under presidents Nixon, Reagan and Clinton respectively) and the warmonger former Senator Sam Nunn have called for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Why? "Because a world without nuclear weapons is one in which the United States would have complete dominance," a hydrogen bomb designer told a writer on this subject for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (May 13, 2008). Some imperialist war strategists consider nukes a "spoiler" in that they enable small countries to make big threats. Without them, the U.S could be in an even stronger position to exert its will because of the unchallengeable power, at this point, of a military whose size and advanced technology is based on the wealth attained by the very global exploitation it was organized to enforce and expand.

The world has seen war after war since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki signalled the U.S. drive toward world hegemony. The end of the "Cold War," a confrontation between rival imperialist blocs during which the U.S. and USSR waged local proxy wars against each other while threatening global nuclear winter, brought about very important changes, but not world peace. Instead, it prompted a new U.S. hegemonic offensive and a new round of direct imperialist invasions, marked by the "death from the skies" that has been the U.S.'s signature, along with heartbreaking wars in Yugoslavia, Rwanda (and its aftermath in Congo), Sudan and other places where big power rivalry has been at work aggravating other contradictions.

The interrupted stream of horrendous violence even since the last world war should tell us something. The root cause lies not in any particular government but in the imperialist system in which a tiny handful of capitalists in a small number of countries control and clash over the wealth produced by the world's people in their billions.

Capitalism has given no reason to hope that it can even do without nuclear weapons, let alone end war.

(For a brief analysis of the political context in which the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan, and its efforts to cover up that crime, see AWTWNS for August 1, 2005, which also includes excerpts from journalist John Hersey's famous account of the human cost in his book Hiroshima.)

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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From A World to Win News Service

Iran: Upsurge continues

There have been further developments since these articles were posted. On August 3, when the "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei put his seal of approval on the re-election of President Ahmadinejad, and again on August 5, when Ahmadinejad was formally sworn in, there were boycotts of the ceremonies by their opponents from within the regime (which is very unusual, perhaps unprecedented). There were also street protests outside, which were reportedly small and scattered, due mainly to the very heavy police and military presence and the ongoing repression against the regime's opponents. Meanwhile, there are reports of growing opposition to Ahmadinejad in rural Iran, previously one of the regime's strongest bases of support. (New York Times, August 4, 2009)

The U.S. is making new threats against Iran as part of the imperialists' ongoing efforts to contain and weaken Iran. The Obama administration is reportedly considering imposing "extreme" economic sanctions against Iran to cut off its imports of refined oil products, including gasoline. That would have a serious impact on both the rulers and the people of Iran. And it could trigger an escalating spiral of moves and counter moves: Iran has threatened to halt its oil exports and block ships from coming in and out of the Persian Gulf (through which 20 percent of the world's oil flows); if that happened, the U.S. would likely respond militarily.

For background on Iran see: "Roots of the Iranian Uprising: 'A Society Drowning in Corruption, Destruction, Superstition, Dark Religious Ignorance, Drug Addiction and Prostitution,'" by Larry Everest; "Response To Election Fraud Reveals Deep Schisms in Iranian Ruling Circle and Broad Based Profound Hatred of the Regime: UPRISING IN IRAN," by V.T.; and "An Assessment of the Momentum Towards War Between the United States and Iran: Causes and Potential Ramifications," Preliminary Findings by a Working Group.

August 3, 2009. A World to Win News Service. With their latest round of daring protests, a great many Iranians have clearly announced their refusal to return to business as usual. In fact, just the opposite. Judging by reports from various sources, the regime's efforts to crush the struggle have made many people determined to continue until the regime falls. "The lack of fear is palpable," one young woman put it in an e-mail.

On Thursday July 30, 40 days after the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan, Sohrab Araabi, Ashkan Sohrabi and dozens of other young demonstrators by the Iranian security forces on June 20, tens of thousands of people (40 thousand or more according to several reports) travelled by tube and car to Behesht-e Zahra, the major cemetery south of Tehran, using the Shia tradition of marking the fortieth day after a death to continue their protests against the Islamic regime and especially its "Supreme Leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In north and central Tehran, many thousands of youth gathered in most of the squares and main streets. There were reports of protests of large crowds in Vanak Square, Motahari Avenue, Beheshti Avenue, Northern Hafez Avenue, Vali Asr Avenue, Zartosht Avenue, Ferdousi Square, Fatemi Avenue and elsewhere. They chanted anti-regime slogans and clashed with the anti-riot police and plainclothes security forces. In other cities, including Isfahan, Shiraz, Ahwaz, Mashad and Rasht, people came out into the streets to use this occasion to protest against the regime. Many people from the provinces came to the capital that day.

A large crowd attempted to make their way to the Grand Mosala Mosque, the site where presidential candidate Mir-Hussein Mousavi had asked the authorities for a permit to hold a ceremony. The regime denied permission for a gathering there or anywhere else. These protestors were met by anti-riot police, and were scattered to all the streets around as far as Vali Asr Square.

In addition to protesters on the sidewalks and in the streets, other people showed their support in different ways. For example, in many different parts of Tehran and especially in the traffic jams, drivers honked their horns in simultaneous rhythm. Some got out of their cars and shouted, "Down with the dictator!" This drove the security forces mad, and they started to smash car windows and beat drivers and passengers, no matter if they were honking or not. As in previous demonstrations, there were numerous reports of neighborhood residents opening their doors to rescue people fleeing the police.

While the regime was too terrified to let people gather and did everything possible to scatter them into different parts of Tehran, the youth turned this to their advantage, spreading their protests over a much wider area before the security forces could get there. People are gaining more experience and using these experiences in their struggle. For example, many young people now cover their faces. Some young women have reversed the rules usually imposed on them, using scarves to keep their faces covered and their hair bare, walking with their shoulders and head held high. There were reports that many youth did not want to go to Mosala because it is an enclosed place, difficult to escape from if they were attacked by the uniformed or non-uniformed thugs. Secondly there are many closed circuit cameras there, and on top of that, because it is a mosque.

Everywhere that the protests were taking place in Tehran, including Behesht-e Zahra, the riot police clashed with protestors. At Behesht-e Zahra mothers locked hands to protect the crowd. In other places riot police beat protestors indiscriminately. They attacked with electric Taser guns, chains, whips and batons. Sometimes they fired paintball guns to mark people to be picked up later. They shot tear gas and pepper gas to scatter the demonstrators, who set fire to rubbish bins to counteract the effect. Some protestors believe these gases included chemicals that weaken and temporarily paralyse those exposed to them so as to allow the security forces to beat and arrest them. On at least two occasions captured by mobile phone cameras, security forces fired their guns directly at the people. However, so far no deaths have been reported. According to the regime—whose information is not reliable at all—50 (possibly more) people were arrested. Judging by what has happened to others before them, they may undergo severe torture.  

"Independence, freedom, Iranian Republic"

The protestors on Thursday continued to chant their usual slogans like "Down with the dictator," "Down with Khamenei," "Down with this lying government," and also "Our Neda (or Sohrab or…) is not dead, for us the government is dead."

But one new slogan protestors among one of the biggest crowds in Tehran on Thursday chanted with all their strength is particularly significant: "Independence, freedom, Iranian Republic." This is versus the slogan chanted during the 1979 revolution, "Independence, freedom and Islamic rule." What is the Iranian Republic? Maybe nobody knows exactly, or at least everyone might have their own understanding. But people agree that above all it is a rejection of the "Islamic Republic." This new slogan signals a stepping-up of the protestors' demands.

The importance of this slogan is not only its "anti-structural character" and rejection of the whole Islamic system. It is also an indication that control of this upsurge is slipping out of the hands of the so-called "Green wave" led by Mousavi, his fellow presidential candidate Mehdi Karoubi and others who have been core figures in the Islamic Republic. People have announced loudly they don’t want to be limited within the Islamic regime but want to go beyond that.

In what seems to be a reaction to the use of this slogan at the Thursday action, Mousavi hastily told Ghalam news August 1 that "the demand of the people is to defend the republican aspect of the system along with its Islamic aspect. The slogan is Islamic Republic, not a single word more or less." He was particularly worried since the pro-Mousavi slogans were less prevalent and the color green was rarely seen in these crowds. What many youth chanted and did was not what Mousavi and his faction in the regime wanted. Mousavi wanted people to go to Mosala and remain silent (his usual instructions for protests), using their voices only to read verses from the Koran or at most to chant Allah-u Akbar (god is great). People certainly did not want to stay quiet. Instead they wanted to chant their harshest slogan against the Islamic regime, and they did so.

Mousavi supporters spread the slogan "Allah-u Akbar" from the beginning of this movement. Many youth who didn’t agree or even did not believe in that chose to chant it for tactical reasons. But in recent days it is getting less and less strong. Some people argue that the slogan should be used to maintain unity, and others say that it keeps the regime thugs from arresting or harassing those who chant it. But none of those reasons apply any more. First of all, it cannot and did not unite the youth. Many simply do not believe in it anymore. They have seen that "Allah-u Akbar" is the main slogan of those who are beating, imprisoning, torturing and killing them –in other words, this is the slogan of those they are fighting against. So it is not really a slogan to unite and because of that many youth are reluctant to chant it. Secondly, it doesn't even work in terms of reducing the regime thugs' brutality. They have viciously attacked people who chant that slogan from their roofs.

Despite the efforts of Mousavi and his supporters to keep the protestors literally silent in the streets and politically within the framework of the Islamic republic, and despite the full insistence of the imperialist media widely watched in Iran, including BBC and Voice of America, that the protesters are supporters of Mousavi and the uprising is about their uncounted votes, many people have already travelled much further. There is hardly any talk about Mousavi and much less about the votes among the protestors. They are increasingly targeting the Islamic Republic itself.

What is the significance of Thursday's protest?

What is equally important about the Thursday protest is that despite the regime' s brutality and the acts of terror committed in the medieval prisons, the people have not been intimidated or discouraged. This clearly shocked the regime itself.

For many people, Thursday's protest was going to be a barometer to measure how effective the regime had been in dampening resistance. The answer is that the regime has failed. The movement still has a long way to go and what will happen depends on many different factors, most crucially the goals and vision that come to lead it. Will one or another regime faction (or another bourgeois, imperialist-dependent force) be able to maintain its grip over the people's movement, or instead will the movement see the emergence of a radical leading force that can lead people to break free of that grip and fight through the twists and turns of a complex and tortuous path in a completely different direction—toward the establishment of a revolutionary New Democratic (anti-imperialist and anti-feudal) state that can open the door to an independent and socialist Iran as a bastion of the world revolution? What is clear is that the movement has shown a real strength rooted in an acute and intense contradiction between the reactionaries and the people, after 30 years of brutality, repression, suppression and exploitation.

The brutality of the regime and the perseverance of the protestors are drawing more sections of the people into the movement and the ruling faction of the regime is becoming increasingly isolated. For example, on Thursday morning security forces arrested a group of artists and filmmakers on their way to pay their respects to the martyred at the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. Among them was the internationally-known director Jafar Panahi who made the films White Balloon, The Circle and Offside.

What strengthens this view is that there are signs of deep cracks within the ruling faction itself. The influence of the "leader" Khamenei is weakening within the leading Shia circles in Iran and in particular Qom, one of Shia Islam's main religious centres. Various grand ayatollahs and other religious authorities such as Ayatollahs Sanei, Mousavi Ardabili, Montazeri and others have either condemned the regime or warned it against further brutalisation of protestors and prisoners. They are particularly worried about the fate of the Islamic Republic, mindful that the Shah’s brutality cost him his throne and brought his dynasty to an abrupt end 30 years ago.

Even worse for the ruling faction, it is going through an internal crisis. This crisis emerged when Ahmadinejad appointed Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, who had earlier made a much-criticized comment about friendship between the Iranian people and the "Israeli people," as his first vice president, the man in charge in the president's absence. This appointment triggered an angry response within Ahmadinejad's own cabinet and, reportedly, the resignation of several cabinet members, although only one resignation has been confirmed. Ahmadinejad did not accept any of these resignations because that would have brought the total number of departures to half of his current cabinet, and therefore he would have been constitutionally required to seek a vote of confidence in parliament, where he faces opposition. He even resisted an instruction by the "Supreme Leader" to remove Mashaei for his and the regime's own good. This provoked more criticism of Ahmadinejad from within his own faction, including by Friday prayer imams, the extremely pro-regime cleric Ahmad Khatami and many conservative members of parliament.

The eruption of these differences was so untimely for the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad faction that some observers believed this was a show in order to divert people's attention from what is going on in the country. This is one possibility, but it is more likely that there are real differences and contradictions among them.Theimpact of the people's struggle has the potential to provoke a crisis among them. The failure of their plans and the ineffectiveness of their extreme brutality could be reflected in different ways. As the movement gets stronger, such differences and much deeper crisis are hard to avoid. As a secondary cause other forces are exerting themselves. Members of the other faction of the regime that includes people like the very powerful Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former president Mohammed Khatami are not sitting idle. They are actively fighting to win over more people in the ruling power, and even within the ruling faction. So there are some people within the Khamenei faction who are under pressure and cannot just go along with whatever Ahmadinejad is doing.

The imperialist powers have been trying to influence developments in Iran in various ways. They are watching the situation closely and as the situation intensifies they will become even more directly involved. One of the things they are most sensitive to is the path that movement might take. The radicalization of the movement and the emergence of a revolutionary force that would be strong enough to lead the movement would be their main concern.

The future development of the struggle depends on several factors but what is certain is that the people have so far shown a remarkable determination to continue their struggle and they have paid a high price for that. They have already inflicted irreparable damage on the Islamic regime. The legitimacy of its president has evaporated, the power and influence of its leader has shrunk tremendously, the legitimacy of a religious regime is under a question mark for growing numbers of people, the unity among its various gangs is being torn apart, and it is ever more hateful among the masses. The genie is out of the bottle, and it will not be easy to stuff it back.

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

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Revolution #173, August 16, 2009

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West and Dix Open Up the Dialogue:

A Great Night in Harlem

The Ascendancy of Obama...and the continued Need for Resistance and Liberation: a Dialogue between Cornel West & Carl Dix." This program was presented by Revolution Books on July 14, 2009. It was held at the Harlem Stage of Aaron Davis Hall in New York to an overfilled crowd of 650 with a couple hundred turned away. This is a rough cut of the video without the audience Q&A. To contribute or volunteer to produce a full length quality DVD, contact Revolution Books, 212.691.3345 or

On July 14, 650 people filled a Harlem auditorium completely, and an overflow crowd of at least 100 more gathered on the streets outside, to hear, "The Ascendancy of Obama… and the Continued Need for Resistance and Liberation: A Dialogue Between Cornel West and Carl Dix."

In his promo video for the event—which has now been viewed more than 3,000 times on YouTube—Dix, a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, set unmistakably clear terms:

If you're somebody who doesn't want to hear straight talk on these questions, I suggest that you just stay your ass at home on July 14, and I feel sorry for you. But if you're somebody who's concerned about the state of humanity… if you hate the fact that these wars for empire continue whether it's Bush or Obama in the White House... if you feel it in your gut every time that you hear that the police have killed another unarmed Black or Latino youth and gotten away with it… if it really bothers you that women in this so-called "best of all possible societies" face violence and sexual assault in horrific numbers… and you wonder what, if anything, can be done to deal with these and other problems that people face, then you need to be out on July 14, and you need to spread the word and challenge others to be there as well. It's that important.

In the days and weeks leading up to July 14, the Revolutionary Youth Summer Project—a collective of 20 young people from across the country who have arrived in New York City to build a revolutionary communist movement—had done extensive outreach in Harlem to mobilize people for the event. The team took to the streets with sound trucks, banners, red flags, and plenty of newspapers and leaflets, as well as a portable DVD player with which to show the YouTube video. In their chants and agitation, the youth emphasized that Obama was a representative of the same imperialist system that has always committed brutal crimes around the globe, and that people should therefore not support Obama. One chant went: "Barack Obama is part of the system/commander in chief of imperialism/fuck that shit, no more confusion/what we need is revolution!"

Some people, like a young Black man visiting from Atlanta, dug this message: "That's all I needed to hear!" he exclaimed enthusiastically, when one youth told him that Obama's presidency was nothing to celebrate. Others did not like what the young revolutionaries had to say, and suggested that they take their message "downtown," or "to Long Island." Some were just taken aback. "Say that again!" a young woman of color exclaimed, after one of the youth repeated the statement from Dix's video that those who felt Obama's election constituted a revolution had "lost their muthafucking minds." Her tone seemed to be partly a challenge (as in "I dare you to say that again!") and partly a sincere desire to hear the statement repeated.

Heading into the program, then, it was clear that Dix's message—as well as the event it was promoting—had a powerful polarizing impact: it had the potential to push away those unwilling to question what Obama's presidency really represents for the people of the world, to draw forward those who were willing to engage this question, and to compel people in both camps to take note that new terms were being boldly thrust onto the scene.

Hundreds Take a Clear Stand

With their presence at the Harlem Stage of City College's Aaron Davis Hall, the hundreds who turned out—whether or not they had literally seen the video clip—embraced the spirit of Dix's challenge: Yes, they did want to hear the truth about Obama, and the crimes of their government. And no, they did not wish to accept the world as it is as tolerable.

Conversations with a handful of people in the building's lobby, before the dialogue began, suggested an atmosphere of excitement, curiosity, and anticipation.

Christianne, a 26-year-old waitress, said she had found out about the program during a recent visit to Union Square, during which she encountered volunteers with the Revolutionary Youth Summer Project.

"In talking about what I see wrong with the world, and what I'd like to see happen, and my inability to come up with a solution, this seemed right up my alley," Christianne said. She added that she had watched Dix's three-minute video in Union Square.

Christianne said that she wasn't going into the event with particular questions in mind, nor expectations of specific issues on which Dix or West would speak.

"I'm just going to see what piques my curiosity," Christianne said.

Sara, a 31-year-old white school teacher in the Bronx, said it was West who had drawn her to the event; she said she wasn't familiar with Dix at all. Sara described West as a "smart" and "provocative" speaker. Asked what she thought about the event's title, Sara replied, "I find it intriguing," and indicated she wasn't completely sure what it meant; she suspected its implication was, " [We have a] Black leader, but that doesn't mean we stop fighting."

Inside the auditorium, Bob Marley's "Emancipation Song" played as the beginning of the program drew near. Its opening lyrics—"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery/none but ourselves can free our minds"—were quite fitting for a night in which one central theme expressed from the stage was that the people must take the responsibility of resistance into their own hands; that it is wholly unacceptable to be suckered into complicity with the crimes of our government simply because a Black president is now presiding over those crimes.

Shortly after 7 pm, Sunsara Taylor—a writer for Revolution newspaper, and one of the two moderators for the evening—stepped to the podium. She noted, to applause from the audience, that the event was being broadcast live on local progressive radio station WBAI, before promising an informative and thought-provoking discussion.

"We're in for a journey this evening," she said, as she introduced her co-moderator, the longtime radical journalist Herb Boyd.

"Welcome to City College," Boyd began. "Welcome to Harlem. Welcome to the revolution."

Boyd suggested that the theme of the evening's program was quite relevant to the history of Black experience in America.

"Resistance and liberation—those have always been operative words in the African-American canon and lexicon," Boyd said, adding that Dix and West were well qualified to address those topics. At that point, the two featured speakers walked onto the stage, hand in hand, to loud applause; some members of the audience rose to their feet.

Dix Lays Bare the Imperialist System… And Obama's Rebranding of It

Dix was the first to speak, and as was the case with his YouTube video, he wasted little time establishing clear terms of discourse. "What we're doing tonight is important," Dix began. "We're not gonna pretend Afghanistan is the good war."

The crowd responded with delayed, yet sustained, applause.

"We're not going to give Obama a pass for his Cosbyesque attack on poor Black people," he continued. "What we are going to do is get at reality as it actually is, and as it needs to be transformed."

And with that, a critical conversation happening virtually nowhere else was underway.

In the first part of Dix's speech, he laid out his analysis of the euphoric reaction to Obama's election, and contrasted that with what Obama's victory actually means for Black people and the people of the planet more broadly. Dix alluded to his "lost their muthafucking minds" statement from the YouTube video. At the Harlem Stage, Dix made clear that he stood by that assessment, but added that he wanted to address the underlying reasons why so many people were euphoric. Traveling with his family to the eastern shore of Maryland, which he described as "Mississippi further up north," Dix had to watch his 40-year-old father be addressed as "boy" by a white teenager. He witnessed the city of Baltimore close down its swimming pool, rather than integrate it.

"I know about the white supremacy of this setup," Dix said, "so I understand why people seeing a Black person elected president would get swept up." However, Dix added that while he understood the excitement over Obama's victory, he "did not and do not share it."

Obama's victory, Dix said, was serving to conceal the essence of this system of imperialism and the crimes it commits, and to solicit acquiescence to the system's crimes from people who would not have accepted them under any other president. As an example, he referred to Obama's recent speech in Ghana, during which the president demanded that African people and nations assume responsibility for rectifying their suffering. In so doing, Dix pointed out, Obama sought to mask the legacy of slave ships, the brutality of European colonists, the manner in which imperialism has consistently plundered Africa, and the murderous proxy wars carried out by the U.S. and other imperialist nations; the message Obama delivered, Dix said, was that the real cause of the plight of African peoples was that their governments were corrupt.

"This is a concentration of the role that he's playing," Dix said of Obama's speech.

The next section of Dix's presentation focused on the status of youth under imperialism, and the implications of Obama's presidency for those youth. Dix took on the commonly-expressed sentiment that, even if Obama himself does not represent anything good, at least having a Black man in the White House will inspire Black youth to achieve. In actuality, Dix said, Obama's victory will only suck youth into supporting a system that has condemned them to failure; the real doors that will open to these youth, Dix said, are the doors to the military recruiting centers, the jails, and the courthouses. On top of that, Obama attacks the oppressed youth and blames them for their conditions.

"It was bullshit when Cosby said it, and it's bullshit now," Dix said, to applause.

The final part of Dix's speech focused on what humanity needs to get beyond a system that thrives on torture and wars for empire, spawns massive disease and starvation, ravages the environment, violently subjugates women, and offers millions of youth no better fate than death or jail: revolution. Drawing on the RCP's new statement, "The Revolution We Need, the Leadership We Have," Dix told the crowd that the system of imperialism needs to be swept off the planet, with imperialist institutions replaced by revolutionary institutions. He explained that in past revolutionary societies, such as China under the leadership of Mao Tsetung, monumental and previously unthinkable advances had been achieved quickly under the guidance of a state that served the people; for instance, China went from a society where prostitution was pervasive to one in which the practice had basically been eliminated, and from a country where hundreds of millions were addicted to opium to one in which there were essentially no addicts. Dix went on to say: "Now revolutionary power in China was overthrown when Mao Tsetung died. But Bob Avakian has taken up the understanding that Mao developed and led the Chinese revolution on the basis of and developed it even further and that puts us in position to not only make revolution again but go farther and do even better with it the next time."

Similarly, Dix said, youth in modern imperialist societies who were immersed in the poisons of gangs, drugs, and religion need to be challenged to instead devote their lives to revolution, changing themselves in the process.

Dix finished by quoting the late Oscar Brown's poignant poem, "The Children of Children," and asking: "What is going to be our answer to the children of children all over the world?"

West Makes an Electrifying Appeal for Resistance

While he clearly did not share Dix's revolutionary communist perspective, West united with the need for resistance and repeatedly commended Dix for being a powerful voice for the oppressed who was willing to sacrifice his life to fulfill that role. "I am here," West said, "because at this particular historical juncture, we have got to create a space for principled criticisms of the Obama administration."

During an electrifying speech that often moved the audience to loud applause, as well as to appreciative laughter, West applauded Dix for driving home the message that humanity's goal should not be to place a Black man at the head of an empire that continues to heap horrific suffering on the vast majority of people of color.

West then walked the crowd through the process, and reasoning, behind his own decision to become a "critical supporter" of Obama's campaign. West joked that when he saw Newsweek heavily promoting Obama early in his campaign, "my suspicion was not just doubled, it was cubed." He then described speaking to Obama on the phone, and asking him if he would be true to the spirit of political activists such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Phil Berrigan. "I'll do the best I can," West quoted Obama as saying.

During his presentation, and then during the Q and A ,West argued that his concern for the world's oppressed compelled him to support Obama; he presented his decision as a tactical choice motivated by a desire to fend off the forces of fascism embodied in the McCain/Palin ticket and to end the age of Reagan-style conservatism. At one point, West argued that if McCain and Palin had emerged victorious, the dialogue he and Dix were having might not have been possible.

West mused that when Obama won the election, he was "relatively content," rather than euphoric. He added that the same factor that motivated him to support Obama—West's concern for the fate of humanity's downtrodden—moved him to be immediately critical of Obama after the election. For instance, West angrily ran down the list of Obama's team of economic advisers.

"Here comes Larry Summers!" West said. "Here comes Robert Rubin and his crew!" West contrasted Obama's $700 billion bailout to banks with his demand that the impoverished "pull themselves up by the bootstraps." And he condemned Obama's foreign policy team as a crew of "recycled neo-imperialists," as well as Obama's silence in the face of Israel's massacre in Gaza.

One of the more stirring moments of the program came when West, after alluding to the vicious FBI and CIA repression of resistance and revolutionary movements in the 1960s, sarcastically acknowledged the likely presence of federal agents in the room—"We know the CIA and FBI are here; we welcome you," he said, to thunderous applause and laughter—and then proceeded to put them on notice that the people in the room would continue to resist the crimes of their government, and to hold the government accountable for these crimes, and would not be deterred.

This was the sort of bold, unapologetic seizing of the political and ideological offensive that can give heart and courage to many people.

"We end with a call to action," West concluded, praising the young faces in the front row who were part of the Revolutionary Youth Summer Project. "You have to make reform and revolution a way of life."

The Q and A: Points of Unity, Divergence Become Clearer

After West concluded, Taylor returned to the podium, and said, "If you can believe this, now it's going to get really interesting."

She was right. During the Q and A from the moderators, and then the audience, both the unity and differences between Dix and West came into sharper focus. Taylor began by asking each speaker to describe his views on democracy, given that each of them had spoken of America's foundation of wars, slavery, and genocide. West stated very bluntly that, while he agreed that the U.S. was an empire, he believed in the "expansion of forms of democracy within the capitalist project," while Dix referenced Bob Avakian's three sentences on democracy in arguing that speaking about democracy in a society divided into classes was "meaningless and worse," and that the key questions that must be posed are which class is ruling, and whether the democracy it employs reinforces, or works to eliminate, class divisions.

"America was founded on slavery and genocide," Dix said, "but it was also democratic."

He went on to point out that American democracy was based, from its origins, on the violent exclusion of entire groups of people, and that it was on that basis that democracy was extended to one particular group—white men. He also reminded the audience that the American form of government involves dictatorship, not just democracy: when did the American people get to vote on ending the wars in the Middle East? he asked. Dix further stated that the goal of revolutionaries was not to "perfect" the system of U.S. imperialism, which commits crimes all over the world; it was to end that system.

Two of the five questions from the audience focused on the relationship between individuals transforming themselves and the overall transformation of society. The answers to these questions brought out further differences in the viewpoints of Dix and West. In response to an evacuee from New Orleans who argued that "revolution takes place internally," West largely agreed: After saying that talk of revolutionary overthrowing was "not my language," West added, "First and foremost, we have to muster the courage to bear witness to the system of evils inside of us."

Dix, on the other hand, essentially argued that West had the relationship between societal and individual change reversed: "It is through the course of resistance that we will change," Dix said. To illustrate the point, Dix drew on his own personal experience as a war resister who served time in Leavenworth prison rather than serve the imperialist army in Vietnam. When he was drafted, he faced a series of choices: He could serve in Vietnam; he could flee to Canada; or he could stay in the U.S. and be part of the resistance. He chose the latter course of action, which then set him on a radical (and eventually revolutionary) pathway.

The next question, asked by a young Black woman, was simple but profound: "How do you resist?" Within both Dix and West's responses was a sense that the decision to resist could come about in many different ways, and take many different forms. Dix said that the specific event which fills an individual with a strong sense of injustice and compels them to act politically could be a global issue, like the U.S. wars for empire, or it could be something more local and immediate, like seeing police harassing youth on the corner. As an individual resists, Dix said, their eyes start to open, and they realize that the atrocities against which they are acting are not isolated acts, but rather systemic. Dix said his orientation was to resist on the basis of putting forth that revolution was the solution to the particular problems being fought, and to unite with others who were genuine about resistance even if they did not agree with that view.

West drew an analogy between becoming involved in resistance and falling in love: As one enters into either process, an old part of them dies and a new part of them is born. West said that people can resist in a lot of ways, including through art; he cited Nina Simone's use of song and Talib Kweli's use of hip-hop as forms of fighting the power.

Towards the end of the program, there were two moments that exemplified the spirit of unity amidst struggle (friendly struggle with one another, and fierce struggle against the status quo), and the spirit of lively exchange, that characterized the evening. First, Dix broke out into a rendition of the Isley Brothers' version of "Ohio," with the opening lines: "Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'/We're finally on our own/ This summer I hear the drummin'/ Four dead in Ohio/Gotta get down to it. Soldiers are gunning us down. Should have been done long ago."

The audience clapped in rhythm along with Dix, and cheered when he finished. West leaned over and embraced him.

"That was one of my favorite performances of my lifetime," a young white woman would say after the event. "And I'm 22 years old."

A moment later, West said that the reason he reads the works of Bob Avakian and wrestles with him is not because he is a communist but, "He is a certain kind of human being who has raised his voice and in his project that includes communism, I see some character, I see some quality of service to the poor, I see those who are concerned to sacrifice, I see a willingness to wrestle with deep issues that the mainstream does not want to wrestle with, including mainstream intellectuals."

While it is, of course, crucial to win as many people as possible over to the need for communist revolution—and the need to take up Avakian and his work on that basis—it is also crucial to building a revolutionary movement that broad sections of people, including those who are not communists, support, engage, and defend Avakian. The fact that West, a prominent and influential Black intellectual, made the public statement that he did, even though it will likely make him the target of unprincipled attacks from reactionaries and some "progressives" alike, is a big deal, and potentially an important opening in creating a culture of appreciation, promotion, and popularization of Avakian and his work.

Clyde Young on the Critical Role of Revolutionary Theory

In between questions from the moderators and the audience, Clyde Young of the Revolutionary Communist Party delivered a moving and convincing argument for the critical importance of revolutionary theory in general, and Revolution newspaper in particular. Young's speech was in tune with one of the major lessons of the program overall, which is that one of the first and most important steps in building revolution—or even mass resistance—is widely spreading the understanding of what fundamental change really means, and what it will require.

Since the event was a fundraiser for not only Revolution Books, but also the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF), Young placed particular emphasis on the impact that spreading revolutionary consciousness can have within the nation's penitentiaries.

Young recalled digging into the works of Malcolm X and the Black Panthers, and immersing himself in revolutionary theory, while serving a 17-year prison sentence. At the time, he said, Revolution newspaper did not exist, so he had to break down and interpret works like the Communist Manifesto on his own. "Today," Young said, "Revolution is a lifeline for many, many prisoners behind walls."

Young told the crowd that Revolution newspaper frequently received letters from prisoners who were wrestling with the works of Avakian, and of the party in general. And he said that the paper had the potential to powerfully transform people, and the way they viewed the world; forging unity, rather than needless division, among different sections of the oppressed.

"Just changing the color of the president won't get the job done," Young said. "What we have to do is change the world. But to change the world, we have to understand it."

At the close of his presentation, Young informed the crowd that the newspaper subscriptions of 400 prisoners were due to expire after the month. He asked if anyone in the crowd was willing to donate $500. One person raised their hand to indicate they would be willing if two others stepped forward as well. Huge applause emanated from the crowd when the third and final donor stepped forward.

Young then asked if anyone were willing to donate $100, in order to buy three subscriptions for prisoners: at least two people stepped forward.

The Crowd Leaves Feeling Fired Up

After the program ended, it was clear that people of many different strata and perspectives had been energized, inspired, and stimulated by the event; they had been provoked to think about new questions, and about old questions in new ways. Audience members expressed appreciation that they had the opportunity to hear frank, critical discussion of Obama and his presidency, in addition to blunt exposure of the reality that his ascendancy had not altered the imperialist system or halted its crimes.

"It was amazing!" a middle-aged white woman said of the program. (She seemed anxious to get where she was going, and efforts to have an extended conversation with her were unfortunately unsuccessful.)

"I'm new to this," she continued. "I'm not a revolutionary. I'm not a communist. I found them [the speakers] both very articulate and very real and true. I was surprised how much I agreed with them."

Asked to elaborate on why she said she was "surprised," the woman responded, "I'm a very centrist kind of person."

A young Black bank employee who was born and raised in Newark, and who described himself as a "freethinker," was very enthusiastic about both speakers. "It's so appropriate, what they're saying in terms of our view of Obama," he said, "the euphoria of a Black man in the White House, but the bottom line is he presides over a very racistand oppressive system."

"I thought the discussion was relevant in terms of creating that space to talk about Obama," another young Black man said. "Not the person, but Obama the president and what it means to the revolution or class struggles or different issues we're facing now. It's definitely timely, since Obama's been in office for more than six months now. It's good to have people who are out there thinking critically about how is Obama being the first African-American president going to address the issues that are systematic within the United States and capitalism."

He added that he was unfamiliar with Carl Dix before the event, and said he very much enjoyed hearing a person of color put forth a communist viewpoint. "I think I never really thought of the communist party as being relevant in American politics, to be honest with you," the man said. "I had nothing to disagree with them, it just seems like a relic of the past. It's kind of refreshing to see that there are people who are trying to create a paradigm shift, essentially, and not just look within the system and try to tinker with things within the system, but really say the system is inherently structured to perpetrate everything we are against."

Jenny, a 51-year-old white artist from England, said she wished she had heard more clashes between the speakers. "I thought they were being more careful of each other," Jenny said. She said she was quite familiar with both Dix and West going into the event, and that she knew they differed over the question of revolution; she felt that difference had been muted during the event.

"I suppose the main thing they were trying to focus on was Obama," Jenny said, "and I think it was useful that they did that for a lot of people."

Jenny agreed with the speakers that Obama's presidency was sucking many people into supporting the crimes of this government, and constituted a significant obstacle from the standpoint of building resistance to these crimes. However, she said that she viewed revolution as impossible.

"Why?" she was asked.

"Because I'm a pessimist," she said, with a laugh.

Asked to explain that sentiment further, Jenny replied, "The U.S. and the whole system that it perpetuates, I don't believe it's possible to end it the way you guys think it could be ended."

"Why?" Jenny was asked again.

"It's too powerful," Jenny replied.

Jose, a 21-year-old Latino student at Baruch College, said the roughly two-and-a-half hour event had held his attention the entire time.

"It was very stimulating and thought-provoking in the exchange of views that was shared by the audience, and of course Cornel West and Carl Dix," Jose said.

Jose, too, said he was already quite familiar with West—but not Dix—heading into the program. "But I'll start looking into him after the show," Jose added.

Asked what he thought of the speakers (particularly Dix, since he was far less aware of him going in), Jose said he was struck by Dix's emphasis on the need to radically change ideas and institutions, rather than simply looking to politicians to bring change.

"His point of view on society, and his approach to society, is new to me," Jose said.

However, echoing a comment made by the freethinker from Newark, Jose added that he still wasn't clear about what ultimate solution Dix was advocating. "I didn't understand what type of revolution he wanted to bring," Jose said, wondering if Dix envisioned means such as protest or civil disobedience as vehicles to implement radical change.

After the RCP's revolutionary strategy was explained to him—“hastening while awaiting" a revolutionary situation by working now to win millions of people over to understanding that the atrocities committed against the people of this planet stem from a common system, and that revolution is required to overcome that system, thereby laying the foundation for the people to actually make revolution when there is a crisis in the system—Jose said that he had more clarity on the question.

The young white woman who had raved about Dix's impromptu singing performance was equally thrilled about the event as a whole. "It was exhilarating," she said. "It was awesome. I got chills so many times just listening to people speak with so much passion about things that they really believe in. To hear other people say that they would die for something that they believe in, and to be talking about a poor working class, is a conversation that most people don't even consider because they don't belong to it. And I feel like I very much belong to it."

A few moments later, she spoke powerfully to the impact a program like this can have on those in attendance, and those who learn about the event after the fact.

"I think that for people to be talking about this stuff," she said, "versus all the trivial, superficial shit that goes on in everyone's daily lives—to find other people who want to have a conversation that's meaningful—is refreshing.”

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