Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

Please note: this page is intended for quick printing of the entire issue. Some of the links may not work when clicked, and some images may be missing. Please go to the article's permalink if you require working links and images.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Pelican Bay State Prison, CA and Menard Prison, IL:

Overturn the Ban of Revolution Newspaper!

End the Political Censorship and Thought Control at Prisons Nationwide!

Along a remote stretch of California's spectacular coast line 13 miles south of the Oregon border, sits Pelican Bay State Prison. 3,400 inmates are locked up in this super-max prison. 1,200 of these inmates are incarcerated in the Security Housing Unit (SHU), a notorious isolation unit. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, these prisoners don't see beyond the hallways of their cells.1

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) provides subscriptions to Revolution newspaper to over 45 inmates at Pelican Bay. Each paper is shared with other prisoners. As one subscriber from Pelican Bay wrote, "I been getting the Revolution newspaper for about 8 years and can't imagine being in this dungeon without it."

Revolution newspaper is a lifeline for these prisoners.

In February 2010, Pelican Bay State Prison authorities issued formal notification to RCP Publications that Revolution newspaper is contraband and is therefore banned from that prison altogether. No subscriber will be allowed to receive Revolution. According to the PRLF, the prisoners were not notified until February 2010 that newspapers from as far back as October and November 2009 and all subsequent issues had been confiscated. Meanwhile, another letter from a prison official in California's Chuckawalla Valley State Prison indicates the ban could be instituted in the rest of the state prison system.

Over the last few years incidents of the paper being withheld from prisoners have been increasing across the country. But this transparently political ban at Pelican Bay prison, with its significant number of subscribers, is a major escalation in the suppression of Revolution newspaper. For over 20 years, the PRLF has made revolutionary literature available to prisoners, including in California. Now the authorities slam the door shut on Revolution reaching its subscribers.

This ban at Pelican Bay (and any other prison) must be overturned. It is illegal, unconstitutional and immoral.

Prisoners Raise Their Heads...


Prisoners Respond to
"The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have"

In response to the message and call issued by the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have," (Revolution #170) there was wave of response from prisoners.  Below are excerpts from three letters from prisoners in California: 

One California prisoner wrote: 

"This issue [of Revolution] has had a profound effect on me, and on my life changing decision to no longer be just a reader of Revolution, but to be part of the revolutionary movement... The way the article 'The Revolution We Need...the Leadership We Have' was written was extremely insightful into the vast destructiveness of the capitalist imperialist system. This may not be news to many people, however the realization is somewhat new to me.... The article said just enough to kick off a firestorm of analysis regarding the causes of the downward spiral. Society is headed into oppressive oblivion and there's necessity of bringing about revolution.  Furthermore, this article was very illuminating as it showed the far reaching and intertwined affects of the system that is impacting all aspects of society."

Another wrote:

"Why I feel that revolution is needed is mainly because of what Chairman Avakian was saying in the "Ruminations & Wranglings" series in Revolution newspaper.  I want a meaningful purpose in my life.  I want to be the revolutionary sister that leaves a qualitative influence on peoples' lives.  I want the masses to give a damn about each other and the planet they live on.  I want people to see that it is not any gods that shape our lives but that the masses have proven time and again that they are the makers of history.  Which also means that it has been them this whole time and not some deity.  Man has created deities in his image and ideology.  Fighting for a communist revolution gives the worth back to those deemed worthless by this system. Fighting for a communist revolution can also put love in your spirit.  It puts hope in your tears.  I want to be there when we achieve state power in the USA."

And, of the many who responded, here's a third: 

"As the article says 'fight the power and transform the people for revolution.'  Well what this means is the power is the ruling class, the imperialists, transforming the people is changing this bling bling society, the slave mentality, the heavy chain of religion, the self destruction that is planted in our minds as youth from this society, the defeatism all this needs to be shown to the people and not only telling them 'that's wrong' but showing them why that's wrong thinking, and then showing them what a better more revolutionary way of going about it is needed.  Where does this culture come from? And who benefits more out of it?  These questions need to be grappled with so the people can see the truth, the righteousness of where you're coming from and in this way you will transform the people so that revolution is possible."


Revolution, and the Revolutionary Worker before it, has been going into Pelican Bay Prison for decades. So why now is it being banned?

To understand this, one must go back to July 2009. At that time, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, issued a message and call and launched a major campaign: "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." As a part of this, Joe Veale wrote a public letter to prisoners encouraging them to correspond, to speak to the youth who are trapped in dog-eat-dog ways of thinking and acting... and broadly to others, including in the middle strata. Veale called on them to move, inspire and win many, many people to the cause of revolution and to recognize the rare and precious leader we have in Bob Avakian.

And in the summer and fall of 2009, there was a flourishing of letters from prisoners. Three examples of this correspondence, from Pelican Bay and other dungeons, are in the accompanying article. It was clear this statement, and the campaign which it launched, had struck a chord in the hearts of these prisoners.

But that's not all.

These letters and more were printed in the pages of Revolution and posted on the Internet. The voices of men and women who brave what might seem to be insurmountable odds to speak out from the dungeons where America has locked them up and locked them down were being heard broadly in society. These voices were having a profound effect on those who were listening. These are human beings who refuse to be destroyed, mentally and physically—and who grapple with the biggest questions of the revolution. Prisoners put pen to paper in order to communicate with the world.

Hundreds attended benefits for the PRLF which featured dramatic readings of these letters by a range of professional actors. And still more broadly, people from all strata have read these letters and responded, including with donations. No one should underestimate the impact it can have—and what it means—for people of all sections of society to read and hear what these prisoners are writing. As one Black woman who came to a benefit for the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) said, "This is amazing. The prisoners are so smart and thoughtful and write so well. These are our people saying these beautiful things. It gives me hope."

Then, in fall 2009, Revolution announced there would be a special issue of the paper focused on prisons and prisoners. (Special Issue on Prisons and Prisoners in the U.S: From the Hellholes of Incarceration to a Future of Emancipation, Revolution #183, November 15, 2009) It contained analysis, both from prisoners as well as regular writers for the paper. At the heart of it was a powerful centerfold with a passage of Bob Avakian's talk, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About (available at, which took off from the horrible, dog-eat-dog conditions in prison to show that, yes, another world is indeed possible... and that the wretched of the earth have a central role to play in it. This issue we now know never reached a significant number of prisoner subscribers, especially at Pelican Bay.

And the Ban Comes Down

The letter banning Revolution newspaper from Pelican Bay State Prison in California read, "This letter is to advise you that your weekly periodical 'Revolution' will not be delivered to inmates housed at Pelican Bay State Prison. Your periodical newspaper has been determined to be contraband because it 'promotes disruption and overthrow of the government and incites violence to do so....'"

Disapproval notifications sent to prisoners in February 2010 stated the reason for banning issues of the newspaper as far back as October 2009 was "Incites racial violence and promotes governmental anarchy."

The ban at Pelican Bay is an egregious act of political suppression based on the content of the newspaper. The discussion of revolution found in the pages of the newspaper is well known and undisputedly constitutionally protected speech measured by Supreme Court decisions on this over the last 50 years.

Who Promotes Racial Violence... And Who Promotes Unity in Struggle Across Racial and National Lines?

The other pretext for the ban—that Revolution newspaper promotes "racial violence"—has no credibility. One prisoner commented, "First off what racial group in particular are they speaking of? In other words to which audience is the paper targeting to incite racial violence when the fact is prison officials are basically the architects of racial disharmony among prisoners."

Countless letters from prisoners who read Revolution demonstrate it is an invaluable tool in reaching across divisions by nationality and forging of multi-national unity among the prisoners:

I'm currently in one of the three SHU's in California. I can't imagine any deeper, darker, or more desolate pits in the U.S. than these.... The SHU "just so happens" to be where they isolate and slam down the most progressive, revolutionary, intelligent and indomitable elements of the prison population. When, by word of mouth or by my political activity on the tier, these cats learn I'm a communist revolutionary with revolutionary literature available for all regardless of race, groups, etc. a lot of them are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity to use this literature....

Let's talk about who actually has a well-documented history of inciting racial violence. The prison system, especially in California, foments widespread gang and racial clashes as a means to divide and conquer the prisoners and then uses this as a rationale for more repression, brutality and torture against the prisoners. For instance, at the Corcoran SHU in California, the guards literally instigated gladiator type fights—they would take prisoners and whip them into a frenzy against each other, put them in pens and then release them out to fight each other, sometimes to the death.

The Ban Must Go!

A prisoner at Pelican Bay wrote about the ban on Revolution newspaper:

I am...offended by their notion that they are "cultivators" of my mind, that they "water" my mind with their approved books and approved reading and I will "grow" to be an "approved crop" instead of a weed.

We can not let the ban on Revolution stand. A mass and massive political and legal struggle must be mounted to overturn the ban at Pelican Bay. And let's meet this challenge with the aim of not only overturning the ban—but geometrically spreading Revolution behind prison walls and the words of these revolutionary minded prisoners out into society. Revolution newspaper calls for support for the work of the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund. People can contribute to the fight against the censorship in many ways: raising awareness and funds, developing networks of support, dramatic readings of the prisoners' letters. The ban must be challenged at Pelican Bay and at other prisons as well, like Menard prison in Illinois (where authorities have placed Revolution newspaper on their "banned literature" list.)

Taking on and waging the struggle against this ban can also contribute, very strongly, to achieving the goals of the campaign, to putting communist revolution, as it has been reconceived by Bob Avakian, on the map in this society; to broadly make known in this society the leadership of Avakian—giving people a sense of and building support for the work he is carrying out, his history and character as a rare and outstanding communist leader... and through strengthening the core of the revolutionary movement and the party that is leading it.

1. NPR, Laura Sullivan, July 26, 2006, "At Pelican Bay Prison, a Life in Solitary" [back]

What You Can Do

  • Support the work of the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (info below; 773‑960‑6952).
  • Donate! And raise money for the struggle to overturn the ban on Revolution.
  • Take part in the struggle against the ban: Spread the word about the ban and the struggle against it, develop networks of support, organize dramatic readings of the prisoners' letters, and in many other creative ways.
  • Lawyers and others in the legal arena: Help in legal challenges against the ban on Revolution newspaper at Pelican Bay and at other prisons.
  • Meet this challenge by spreading Revolution behind prison walls and the words of these revolutionary-minded prisoners out into society.


Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

"A burning desire to change the system through revolution"

The following letter was sent in response to the statement, "The Revolution We Need, the Leadership We Have," in Revolution #170

I tried to keep the enclosed letter to the point. Although you'll find that I'm not the best with words, what I've tried to express comes from deep within me. I hope my thoughts and opinions are useful.

Greetings from behind the concrete walls of a capitalist prison, and salutations to all who are contributing to the revolutionary movement.

I only recently received issue #170 of Revolution ["The Revolution We Need, the Leadership We Have"]. And I must've read and re-read it countless times. So far, with the numerous highlighter marks, underlines, and enthusiastically scribbled notes I have put on the paper, have made it resemble subway graffiti art.

This issue has had a profound effect on me and on my life-changing decision to no longer be just a reader of Revolution, but to be a part of the revolutionary movement, under the RCP leadership.

The way in which the article was written was extremely insightful into the vast destructiveness of the capitalist-imperialist system. This may not be news to many people. However, the realization is somewhat new to me. And it has struck a chord deep within me, at the same time filling me with a revolutionary fervor for change.

The article, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," said just enough to kick off a firestorm of analysis regarding the causes of the downward spiral society is headed into oppressive oblivion. And there's necessity of bringing about revolution.

Furthermore, this article was very illuminating as it showed the far-reaching and intertwined effects of the system that is impacting all aspects of society.

What type of government puts a price tag on quality education and health care? Or what type of system allows corporate racketeers and their profit-making schemes to take the forefront over the well-being of the majority in society?

When in the heck did we cease to be humans, and start being consumers of target (market) audiences? Well, we know the answer to these questions. But these are examples of the many disparities existing in society as a result of the system.

And they boil my blood with a burning desire to change the system through revolution.

However, this has led to another set of questions and answers. How, as revolutionaries, are we to awaken the masses from their over-consumptive induced slumber? This is not going to be easy, as many people are content with the daily grind of the status quo and are preoccupied with chasing the illusionary American Dream. And becoming the Next Top Model or the New American Idol.

To awaken the masses I believe we (revolutionaries) must become more visible in not only the hardest or most oppressive parts of society, but in also the other strata of society that are being directly affected by the system too. At the same time becoming more vocal against the vast injustices caused by the system. We must empower the masses and take back our lives from the death grip of the capitalist imperialist system and liberate humanity...

How does the Party plan to utilize technology, internet, peer to peer networks, blogs, etc. during the revolution and throughout the development and progress of the revolutionary movement. In this issue of Revolution (issue #170) a face was put on the leader or representative. At first I didn't think this was a good decision. However, as I began to analyze this decision, I believe that it was a very wise choice. Taking the human psyche into consideration I think that people need and want a leader who can be seen and be somewhat accessible to them. Although this may not be feasible during the revolutionary process. I believe the leadership should be an emphasis on interacting with the masses and Party members and supporters. Whether through personal appearances or through internet technologies such as webcasts, blogs, and real time conversations in a chatroom type of environment, the interaction between the leadership and the masses, I think would be extremely beneficial to the future of the revolutionary movement and the party. As I would give people a sense of participation who haven't experienced that through the corrupt capitalist system. At the same time this would form a very strong Party and revolutionary base.

In closing I must say this issue of Revolution (#170) was in my opinion the most inspiring. The article, the photographs were like sharp spears tipped with reality being thrown at me, piercing my dormant human consciousness. It (issue #170) showed and proved that no place on earth is exempt from the oppressive and destructive forces brought on by the capitalist imperialist system. Its tentacles are far reaching, and the importance to emancipate humanity through communist revolution has never been clearer.

In Solidarity,

[Prisoner from California]

Urgent Need: 150 Prisoners Await Subscriptions to Revolution

Today there are over 150 prisoners on the waiting list for a subscription to Revolution newspaper. These prisoners, each and every one, could play a crucial role in spreading the ideas in this newspaper to those the system has cast off, changing people from cast-offs to emancipators of humanity. These subscription requests cannot be filled until funds are donated to subsidize them.

Write your check today to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (see information and address on this page).

We received this from PRLF:

Donate to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) is an educational literature fund that fills requests from U.S. prisoners for revolutionary literature.

The main requests received by PRLF from those behind bars are for complementary subscriptions in Spanish and English to the weekly newspaper Revolution* and for revolutionary and other books, including ones highlighted in the newspaper. Through providing this literature, PRLF provides an educational opportunity for prisoners to engage with world events and key political, cultural, and philosophical questions of the day from a unique revolutionary perspective, including discussions of morality, religion, science, and the arts. Every week prisoners can delve into the urgent and lively news and debate about unfolding political and social struggles, and can critically think about and dissect the current state of society as well as search for an alternative.

PRLF is a project of the International Humanities Center, a non-profit public charity exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code ( Checks should be made payable to IHCenter/PRLF and mailed to:

International Humanities Center   
860 Via de la Paz, Suite B-1 
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272


Prisoners Revolutionary
Literature Fund

1321 N. Milwaukee, #407
Chicago, IL 60622

To volunteer or reach PRLF, please write us at the Chicago address, call us at (773) 793-8637, or e-mail us at

*published by RCP Publications (

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Some Thoughts on "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The viewpoints expressed here are those of the writers and not Revolution newspaper.

Dear RCP

Revolutionary greetings! I just received issue number 170 and so I wanted to express some of my thoughts of this issue, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have."

First what was powerful was when I opened up the paper and seen the vivid uncut portrayals in the pictures of America's dirty work. To see the collage of horror all together was a powerful message. And I could relate to many of the pictures, the picture of the police smashing a Black youth's back with his knee. I have been in that exact position more than once, out in society and here in American gulags. In the barrios or ghetto projects, police brutality is a fact of life and begins as a right of passage to youth of color, police brutality is used as a mechanism of control to the potentially rebellious youth of color and it is taught at an early age, it becomes an unwritten rule that the lumpen know all too well, like the rule that if you run from the police if caught you will get beat.

The picture of the Iraqis being rounded up and arrested by blatant military force is a perfect example of a "police state," we experience the same thing here in the U.S. However instead of outright military uniform, the captors dress in police uniform, but most have witnessed groups of youth being thrown against the wall or told to sit on curbs while police rummage through their belongings or gather intelligence on them to put on "field cards" for later harassment. These are the constant harassments that you see on TV/Internet going on in Iraq with U.S. military "patrolling" and engaged in a harassment offensive. This is what Latinos and Blacks go through in their neighborhoods! The only difference is the uniform the oppressor wears. Latinos and Blacks get their doors kicked down and their house "cleared" just as in Iraq, Latinos and Blacks get sprayed with bullets, shot dead by the same security forces, with the same excuses—"he was reaching for his waistband."

The picture of the L.A. Rebellion always puts a smile on my face, pride for the people rising up on that day. When the '92 riots kicked off over the Rodney King verdicts I was in California's "C.Y.A." (reformatory school) and I remember when the riots began the guards put us on lockdown with no movement in the whole institution for fear of all of us rebellious youth at that time raising shit to our captors. I was already in the hole at this time for other mischief but I remember being in this dungeon and talking about the riots in L.A. As we had heard about it and even though at that time none of us had studied revolutionary struggles or theory, we didn't know the root cause of why the ruling class cast us off—we didn't even know what the ruling class was! But we did know we were happy and excited, we knew instinctively that what was taking place in L.A. was not only right it was a beautiful thing and we wanted in! I always look back to that situation and it solidifies the position that should a revolution reach these shores the millions of youth such as we were in that dungeon would rush to partake in the struggle, even without being fully immersed in political science they would instinctively know that the people were correct.

But getting to the main article of issue 170, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"... well first of all, being not only held in one of America's gulags, but also held in the California supermax known as Pelican Bay. I really appreciate all the literature I am able to receive particularly from PRLF as I have used this time in the dungeon to really develop my revolutionary line and see the U.S. for what it really is and identify all the horror that's wrapped up within the inner workings of this capitalist system that is basically machinery of death. But this article sounded much like a conversation I had with one of the people here in which we were just discussing this whole sham of land of the free! And having cookouts on July 4th and all that Americana mumbo jumbo but in reality there is not a damn thing to celebrate about this racist country or its genocidal birth! The so called "Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo" that called for the theft of half of Mexican land, as well as all Native land they call America validates this country not as "land of the free," rather the land of the thieves! Not to mention the slavery instituted to create an economy on this stolen land. This system is rotten to its core; "democracy" is but a cheap coat of shellac, it looks glossy and nice but when you flip it over you see its underbelly is mere rancid innards. Those of us in prisons across the U.S. understand the dialectics with this country's so-called democracy very well, we learn of its mechanics through our painful introduction to its injustice system. The flooding of drugs into our communities, little to no jobs or training and a capitalist culture that everywhere we look we see luxury items on billboards, movies, T.V., magazines, newspapers, on clothing, in art form and in our music. We are born and raised in the economically depressed neighborhoods where even walking to the corner store is a cat and mouse game with police, not knowing if today is the day we go to jail or worse. I have felt the boot, the stick and the mace more than a few times but the blow from the nightstick was my painful birth into a revolutionary! For I no longer continued to see this society we live in through cozy blinders but I seen the uncut reality that millions of people live under here and the horrors inflicted around the world by this country.

And those who can fight their way through this madness out in society as well as the 2+ million held in concentration camp like dungeons supermax gulags and endure the psychological torture and not only "stay strong," but go past that and learn the history of this country's vileness as well as the theoretical sciences that can change the political landscape and the relations we have today. Our revolutionary spirit can flourish in even the most draconian deprivation tanks—this is dialectical materialism! Marxism in action. Those of us in prisons need to manipulate our confinement to build revolutionary minds! We cannot sit around waiting for the state to help us understand how to struggle for liberation, we must find ways to teach ourselves and then teach others!

As the article says, "Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution." What this means is the power is the ruling class, the imperialists, and transforming the people is changing this bling bling society, the slave mentality, the heavy chain of religion, the self destruction that is planted in our minds as youth, the defeatism. All this needs to be shown to the people and not only telling them "that's wrong" but showing them why that's wrong thinking, and then showing them what a better, more revolutionary way of going about it is needed. Where does this culture come from? And who benefits more out of it? These questions need to be grappled with so the people can see the truth, the righteousness of where you're coming from and in this way you will transform the people so that revolution is possible.

In the article it speaks of, "For a revolution, there must be a revolutionary people among all sections of society but with its deepest base among those who catch hell every day under this system. "  We have nothing to lose but our chains. But even here it takes transformation to grasp the true nature of our conditions. I have come to see over the years that this newspaper is an excellent educational, people building organizational tool within the prison system, with it dialogue has opened, seeds have been planted and lines have been sharpened on many fronts.

The thing about what I have been able to study of Bob Avakian is I not only see the chairman of the RCP in his writings but I see a genuine revolutionary. I remember reading his memoir From Ike to Mao and Beyond and I seen of all the people he struggled with over the years and many setbacks and targeting by the police as well as the feds, where many have fell off out of exhaustion, police harassment or incorrect political line, Avakian has remained firm in his struggle for the people, and this article that came out in issue 170, it said how Avakian has given his heart for these struggles and how he's studied and developed scientific theory for making revolution. But something this article does not say is that Avakian did not have to take the revolutionary road, the strenuous trek to struggle with the oppressed. Avakian grew up with a father who was a judge, he was going to premed school and could have easily stayed in school got the plush doctor job, the Corvette, the model wife and lived high up in the suburbs tucked away safely free from the "crime ridden" areas, street people and "criminal elements," basically the downtrodden and castoffs. But he chose to struggle with the people, those who grew up in dramatically different living conditions and so he was in turn harassed with the people, jailed with the people, and he continues with the people. So there are lots of contributions Avakian has made to the International movement—but this is what stood out to me as someone I should and have looked into more deeply.

A prisoner

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Ex-prisoner calls for support for PRLF

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The viewpoints expressed here are those of the writers and not Revolution newspaper.

By the time I was 17-years-old, I was serving a 20 year sentence in an adult maximum security prison. My family faced the difficulties of survival under this capitalist system, and when I was a teenager we ended up homeless because the mortgage was foreclosed on our home. I got involved in a street organization (AKA "gang") and participated in small time drug deals, robbing, and stealing to try to survive on the streets. I had no vision or hope for the future, because I didn't know where I was going to sleep or if I was going to eat that day or the next, or if I was going to get blown away in a confrontation with the pigs or a rival gang.

Once I was locked down behind the walls, I soon started to question what brought me—and all the other people there with me—to prison. And as conditions became more and more repressive, I began to resist—and to develop more of an understanding of the historical forces that led all of us into the horrendous conditions of the hellholes of the American prison system.

I was placed in segregation—solitary confinement—for an indeterminate period of time for resisting an officer, and faced the prospect of languishing in isolation devoid of human contact for numerous years in a concrete tomb. It was in the midst of this—the daily salvos of pepper spray choking the whole cellhouse, the tac team stomping down the gallery to drag someone out of their cell and beat them down, the constant agony of men straining against the solitude crying out for some kind of conversation or contact—that I first read Revolution newspaper.

Revolution began to open my eyes to a whole other way that society could be organized and a whole other way of thinking. Instead of focusing intently on revenge and my own personal oppression or wrongs, I began to see that this capitalist-imperialist system is fundamentally based on the exploitation and oppression of the vast majority of humanity at the hands of the few within the ruling class who own and control the means of production. And that the basis exists to emancipate all of humanity from the oppressive relations of class society, and unleash people to flourish in ways undreamed of under the confines of this capitalist system.

Once I was released from prison, I continued to develop my understanding. Comrades struggled with me to break out of looking at things quite often still from the perspective of my own experience of oppression. The question of the oppression of women is something that really challenged me to rupture with being caught up in that and the broader degrading, patriarchal social relations of capitalism. Think about what its like to be locked up in the repressive conditions of a prison cell for years on end—and then think about what it's like to be a woman in this society, subjected to harassment and sexual objectification while just walking down the street and where one in three women is subjected to sexual abuse. This is bullshit! Why should half of humanity be treated as less than full human beings? The special issue of Revolution, A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity, really inspired me. And seeing the outpouring of women and hearing their stories after the assassination of Dr. Tiller showed me how vital the fight for abortion rights is.

There is a deep desire among prisoners broadly to understand the world. Revolution newspaper is a vital resource that not just allows prisoners to understand the world, but to become part of changing it as they change themselves—to become part of putting revolution and communism back on the map, to popularize the pathbreaking work in reenvisioning communism that Bob Avakian has done, and to bring forward a core of people dedicated to building this revolutionary movement. The prisoner's letters that are published in this issue capture a glimpse of their eloquent struggle to strain against the enforced dehumanization and degradation of their circumstances and rise up to become emancipators of humanity.

We have a responsibility to these men and women—to support them in their struggle, to make sure that they continue to get Revolution newspaper and other revolutionary literature such as that provided by the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund. To make sure that they can continue to further develop a communist understanding and approach—and that while they are still held captive in the dungeons of the belly of the beast of this imperialist system, and even more so when they are released from prison, that they can be actively involved in building this revolutionary movement to liberate humanity.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

"Revolution Should Be Understood To Be The Only Solution!"

The following are excerpts of letters that were sent in response to literature sent to prisoners.

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund wants to call attention to the fact that these particular prisoners are among the 150 people on the waiting list for a subscription to Revolution newspaper. A donation of $70 today to PRLF would enable their subscription to be filled right away. (See box below for information on how to donate to PRLF)

First of all I would like to thank you for the literature that you sent me. I just finished reading "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" (condensed version).... I am 23 years old. So, I know that I'm still young, and have a lot to learn. Nevertheless, I do know that we need a different system, and that the only way that is possible is through revolution.

"The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," is so true, and should be studied by everybody. Thus, they can understand the essence of this system of capitalism-imperialism. Of course, there are going to be those whom have been indoctrinated by the doctrinal systems of this system. For instance, the media and even our schools... are meant to keep us ignorant....

The Iraq War is a perfect example, and in order to get us to join or support their imperialist wars, they feed us all kinds of propaganda. The most common one is of course, that it is the only way to keep us safe from the terrorists whom are the enemies of peace, democracy, and humanity itself.

However, nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, the ruling classes only want to strengthen their empire. Thus, every victory for them, is a defeat for the rest of us. ...The ruling classes also throw a lot of religion at us to keep us under control. They tell us that this is all God's will, and that we have to have faith and patience, and he'll make things better.... As it was already stated in the Revolution... it wasn't some god that got us in this mess and it won't be some god that is going to get us out of it. Hence, revolution should be understood to be the only solution!


Greetings RCP

First I must give thanks where thanks are due for opening my eyes to a new way and for information mainstream media does not provide.... I've made my share of mistakes that's why I sit here now. But I'm on the back side of my time now. I will be out within the next two years and I've been looking for something that would give my life meaning, a direction. Then a buddy of mine let me read one of his Revolutions: Sept 21, 2008 "Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the RCP USA." I don't know if life changing is the word. But really changed my way of thinking and how I look at this so called government and this society that we are living in. I started to look at my own personal beliefs and the things I was taught or told to believe in and I didn't like what I saw. I really started to question a lot of things. I still have a ton of questions but I'm informed now and I now have a stepping stone to start my search for answers and most important I found something I really believe in something important "a change for the better." Something we all need as a society and for that you have my full support...

With Solidarity And Thanks,
"One Who Has
 Nothing To Lose
But My Chains."

We received this from PRLF:

Donate to the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) is an educational literature fund that fills requests from U.S. prisoners for revolutionary literature.

The main requests received by PRLF from those behind bars are for complementary subscriptions in Spanish and English to the weekly newspaper Revolution* and for revolutionary and other books, including ones highlighted in the newspaper. Through providing this literature, PRLF provides an educational opportunity for prisoners to engage with world events and key political, cultural, and philosophical questions of the day from a unique revolutionary perspective, including discussions of morality, religion, science, and the arts. Every week prisoners can delve into the urgent and lively news and debate about unfolding political and social struggles, and can critically think about and dissect the current state of society as well as search for an alternative.

PRLF is a project of the International Humanities Center, a non-profit public charity exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code ( Checks should be made payable to IHCenter/PRLF and mailed to:

International Humanities Center   
860 Via de la Paz, Suite B-1 
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272


Prisoners Revolutionary
Literature Fund

1321 N. Milwaukee, #407
Chicago, IL 60622

To volunteer or reach PRLF, please write us at the Chicago address, call us at (773) 793-8637, or e-mail us at

*published by RCP Publications (

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

From a Former Prisoner:

This Paper Has an Awakening Effect on People

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The viewpoints expressed here are those of the writers and not Revolution newspaper.

The following is from a reader of Revolution newspaper who spent many years in prison:

Revolution newspaper is very important to those locked up. When you read the letters from prisoners you can see how this paper is a catalyst that is opening up minds and these people are thinking about things you don't normally be thinking about in prison. That is what is so good about it. Reading this paper, especially the articles by Bob Avakian, make things clear and it will change you. That's what's happening with me. This is very good.

These cats (prisoners) are individuals, very different in ways, but when they start reading that paper and spreading it to other inmates, they are in a process that can build up a revolutionary movement and change their lives. You can see it in their letters. The paper has an awakening effect on people. They start struggling against the old ideas they use to have and they start seeing the world in a different way. The newspaper gives you the idea that the world can be changed and you can change.


When I first tried to understand what Bob Avakian was talking about with the two outmoded ideologies and systems, Islamic Fundamentalism and Imperialism, I said "Damn!" this is something. And Islamic Fundamentalism, I really didn't understand what that was until I started reading Revolution. The oppression of women, backward ideas, fighting to go back not forward, reading what was in the paper really helped me. This is not a national liberation struggle or something good. It's not part of any solution for humanity. And, imperialism is not only no better, it's even worse. We need to put communism and real revolution on the map. This is something way different from Imperialism and Islamic Fundamentalism. Where are you going to find out about this, not in the Daily News or the New York Times, or these other movement newspapers. People, and not just people locked up, need Revolution and Avakian's leadership. I felt I can explain it to people. It's clearer now.


People think about all kinds of mad crazy shit in prison. Believe me. The newspaper gives people humanity to think about, it helps you understand what's going on, and gives you something to grab hold to. Is this system really doing this shit to people and it doesn't have to keep going like this? If yes, then we should stop it. One person is saying (in his letter) that he has learned that everything is interconnected. That is in the letter by the cat who likes science. Well that is science what he's saying. Everything is interconnected. In prison they give you nothing good to think about. But this brother is reading Bob Avakian and Stephen Hawking, in prison! This is real hope for the future.


I read a few books on Mao. I read all this crap, "Mao killed 50 million, 70 million," it was confusing. It kind of made me lose my faith in a way, my belief that communism could work. I don't mean faith in a religious way. I mean hope that we could change things. I came into contact with people outside of prison who call themselves socialists and they didn't have answers. They did not see that we need a new wave of communist revolution. I don't think they think real revolution can be made. I was thinking about how do you argue against people who say that socialism can't work—it failed in the Soviet Union—it failed in China. You hear this and you start questioning yourself. Is this true? It made you feel like throwing your hands up sometimes. I was influenced by this stuff. I guess my Marxism was eclectic.

Not too long ago, in the last year, there were these articles about China and Mao in Revolution and that helped me a lot. I learned that revolution did not fail, it was defeated, and there is a big difference between the two, but if you are not reading this paper, you won't know this. You will get pulled backward. I started reading Conquer the World?, and From Ike to Mao, Ruminations, and the new Manifesto. I've learned a lot. Now I feel like I can answer some of the shit people have been brainwashed to believe.


I used to always have trouble with leadership and I was influenced by other lines there too. One of the most important things I've learned from Revolution is that you need leadership. I heard people say there was a cult of personality around Bob Avakian. I'm thinking, that's not good. I mean that is what some people say. But I started reading the paper and talking to people with the RCP, and looking at the world, and watching the DVD, and reading BA, and looking at what other political lines have to say, and I came to the conclusion myself. This dude Bob Avakian is more knowledgeable than the average cat on the streets, or the average leader. He really is on a different level. No bullshit. He's into it, he learned from the BPP, he was digging into all about Mao and past revolutions, and how communism can go even higher this time. He's in a better position than me and anybody I know to lead a real revolution. He went from Ike to Mao and he stayed with this shit. One of the key points to putting Bob Avakian on the map is that people have to see that there is leadership. And we are not talking about that "slave feet" leadership that marches people in circles to let off steam and then go home. Avakian is about trying to figure this shit out. There is no denying that this brother's got a handle on what's going on and he can make it clear to you.

If communism is hanging on by a string in the world right now, if it is that serious and I believe it is, it's the RCP and Bob Avakian that can get us in a stronger position so we can have more revolution. I can see that.


I used to think revolution and communism was inevitable. It's gonna happen someday. All I got to do is lay back for the right time... But if you are reading From Ike to Mao, Ruminations, and the newspaper, you can see that this ain't a waiting around kind of party. You have to fight for revolution. You can't sit back. You got to wait like a crouching tiger. The RCP got a group of dedicated people, really, really working hard for this. I think that is part of the scaffolding for revolution too. More people got to join this or it could be lost. That's scary.

I spent a lot of time reading, studying, and thinking about all this. It has been a long journey from the first political book somebody handed me in prison, Soledad Brother, to now and I have to go further.


I want to say to all prisoners as somebody who has spent a good portion of his life behind bars, and as somebody who reads this newspaper every week, study this newspaper, spread it, be around revolutionary minded people while you are inside. Get even more into revolution when you get out. I know for a fact if you don't get more into revolution this system can pull you back into the very shit you don't want to do or be. Get with the organization that is providing real leadership when you get out. Get with the Party. And for humanity's sake, let's make revolution as soon as we can.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Years of Police Terror Finally Gave Painful Birth to a Revolutionary

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The viewpoints expressed here are those of the writers and not Revolution newspaper.

Dear RCP:

Greetings and a clenched fist comrade salute to all you brothers and sisters. I write you from a dungeon known as California's supermax prison "Pelican Bay."  This country is undergoing a dramatic "facelift" in its political arena, the blatant disregard for humanity that Bush II displayed forced the ruling class to dig deep in its trump chest so that once more the people can be corralled into their Bourgeois politics with all the false hopes and empty promises that come with it. Thus the need to bring to light the cold truth is needed now more than ever.

First, I speak from the inner core of the nation of prison, from deep within the Beast's Rancid innards known as the Security Housing Unit (S.H.U.). I know first hand the bottom end of oppressive U.S. Imperialism, I have been state raised since age 11. Juveniles, Boys Camps, Reformatory schools, then Prison and now control unit. The streets of the Barrio were everything to me, and the broken home-life would be the fuel for the anger I always feel for growing up with empty hands and constant harassment from the police, because I was Latino in a poor neighborhood, dressed a certain way, hanging out with other poor kids my age, no direction and hungry as ever. These are the conditions of millions of youth across this country who turn to petty crime as they don't understand why their circumstances are so bleak, or any other alternative to changing these conditions.

As I began to become caught in the prison trap, time spent in the "hole" began to be time to read, learn and study. I began to read my own history of Latin America and the many Revolutions and struggles; this led me to take up Revolutions worldwide and realize that every Liberation struggle for the most part was fought against U.S. backed Regimes. This was eye opening! as I thought, "I never read about this in Jr. High or elementary classes." I began to want more because I realized this history had been kept from me all my life as Bob Avakian says I had "been locked out of politics" and so naturally wanted to learn more! It was at this point that I realized that my lumpen lifestyle was time lost with misdirected anger and it was at this point that the years of police terror of night sticks, mace and the heel of the boot finally gave painful birth to a Revolutionary! And as I began to study the works of Marx, Lenin, and Mao and develop my understanding of dialectical materialism, I realized my situation of being raised in gulags and solitary confinements enduring the degradation and humiliation of being left in bare concrete cells at times with nothing but toilet paper, shackled every time I left my cell like a wild animal, strip searched and left in phone-booth-like mesh cages for hours on end, it was through living a tortured life in U.S. Gulags that rather than allow my treatment to crush my spirit and any concept of why this occurs or of a better world that I chose rather than lay down and become the self hating criminal "worst of the worst" I began to develop consciously! I began to study and do all I could to obtain reading materials, papers, books, literature from my concrete cage for intense study, a Revolutionary classroom that was open 24 hrs a day! This is when I realized what I was seeing develop in myself and others held in repressed holes, solitary, control units (supermax) was Marxism, It was Dialectical Materialism in practice! I was using the very tools of repression from the state to psychologically and ideologically beam me down to strengthen my resistance and sharpen my political line! I then see the beauty of Dialectical Materialism and it was then that I knew that the ideas posed by Marx were indeed applicable to all levels of society, even to prisoners.

My awakening to Revolution has led me to challenge the state on numerous lawsuits, protests and other actions while in prison. This has unleashed the state to take me out of general population and be housed indefinitely in a control unit (S.H.U.). This has only strengthened my understanding of this society's repressive nature and my belief that another world is necessary!

Today Obama is used on the one hand to corral Black People into bourgeois politics while on the other hand Latinos are now being brought into bourgeois politics by the appointing of Sotomayor to the supreme court, the truth is Sotomayor will continue upholding the laws of the ruling class and burying Latinos, Blacks, and others in the vast network of their prison palooza. If Sotomayor or Obama were true "representatives of their ethnicities" or even had a smidgen of concern for people of color, why have they not spoken about the disproportionate amount of Latinos and Blacks in the prison system? Why has the racist three strikes laws not been an issue worth addressing? Because they support and uphold this rotten system! These are the "representatives" that the people have to choose from in Capitalist America, these "representatives" that say nothing when fascist militia groups kick down the door of proletarian families and gun them down in cold blood as minutemen did on May 30, 2009 in Arivaca, Arizona, murdering Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia Flores. Yet these "representatives" don't utter a word! When Oscar Grant is executed in Oakland, California, by the Gestapo like police again no word uttered! These are not "representatives" of the people they are Imperialist running dogs as Mao liked to say! The truth is that the facets that compose the Capitalist American society such as repression on Latinos and BLACKS will never truly be challenged by members of the U.S. Government. It is solely up to the people to build and strengthen these contradictions. The capitalist culture fuels the prison boom and Incarceration of vast multitudes of Latinos and Blacks; they work hand in hand to compliment and feed off one another. On the one hand Government complains of prison overcrowding while at the same time increasing penalty and stiffer repressive laws like the three strikes. But isn't increasing longer prison time for petty crimes (i.e. life in prison for stealing a candy bar) increasing prison overcrowding??! The Prison Phenomenon we are witnessing is doing far more to Latinos and Blacks that will not be felt fully for generations to come.

The incarceration of large numbers of people of color is not simply a matter of taking people's freedom, but this also affects whole communities in general and families in particular. This ripping parents away from their family smacks of the days of slavery when families were split up and households broken, the family unit was destroyed then and is being destroyed again! This weapon of chronic incarceration being unleashed on the people, this low intensity warfare being waged on the masses is worse than flooding the neighborhoods, barrios and ghetto projects with vast amounts of drugs as not everyone in these economically depressed areas do drugs or sell drugs, many commit petty crimes to eat and support their family when no other resource is available so these repressive racist laws work to target these other elements in the poor communities. The children left behind, being nothing more than residue in the mind of the capitalist ruling class, will serve to be the future reserve army of incarcerated, this does the same job as flooding poor neighborhoods did in the 1980s only this is "legal," and there will be no Iran Contra Scandal. It will all be supported by the courts. This Mass incarceration wreaks havoc on the oppressed communities and the millions of potentially revolutionary people are warehoused in prisons and broken down further resulting in suicide, drug addiction, religion or political coma.

The struggle for a better world should not be exclusive to a struggle of poor people. I write from the vantage point of the oppressed as this is the condition I was born and raised from, but there is also a need from those with very opposite lives who have never felt the pain of having a childhood friend gunned down in the street or the pain of being a child and watching as your home is raided by police and your family members dragged off to jail; there are those who have lived different or even sheltered lives yet through circumstances in life have come to identify with the people's struggles and have seen the racism that has plagued America since the first settler arrived, these are the people that we also need who stand by the people for what is morally correct.

In building public opinion there is a need to create a new culture outside the spheres of capitalist society. We need to enculturate or rather re-enculturate in some cases people to experience the world in a revolutionary viewpoint in all levels of society, from art, music, literature, poetry, media, etc. This will take people from all backgrounds to engage and radically alter culture and thinking in this society. Newspapers such as Revolution is one such vehicle to teach the people truth. I have been receiving Revolution/Revolutionary Worker for about 8 years now, this has been possible through the PRLF and people's donations—power to the people! Thus the people themselves have made it possible to send me Revolutionary nutrients. I in turn have shared my papers over the years with all I've come in contact with in all the prison general populations, holes and control units and planted hundreds if not thousands of revolutionary seeds, so please do not feel as if your efforts/donations are a waste in any way as Revolutionary shoots are sprouting, though sporadic, they are consistent! I am living example of this development!

La Lucha Continua

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Circulating Revolution and Literature by Bob Avakian in the Prison

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The viewpoints expressed here are those of the writers and not Revolution newspaper.

Excerpt from a letter received several years ago:

Before I get into these issues, I'd like to express and extend my appreciation towards Bob Avakian for speaking directly to us in Revolution No. 11 and really motivating, inspiring and orientating us to develop ourselves ideologically and politically as not merely "revolutionaries" but communist revolutionaries. He noted the crucial role prisoners need to be playing in spreading the message of communist revolution and MLM [Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought] throughout the prisons and getting the word out to our homeboys and homegirls and families on the streets as part of raising class consciousness and helping build and strengthen the revolutionary movement and contributing to the resistance. Those of us who are trapped under the gun, and those loved ones who are connected to us on the streets ensnared in the barrios and ghettos, need to get with the revolution, study MLM and learn about and promote the leadership of Bob Avakian.

I'm currently in one of the three Security Housing Units (SHU) in California. I can't imagine any deeper, darker, or more desolate pits in the U.S. than these. Every day I'm circulating the light of Revolution and other illuminating literature by Bob Avakian, the PRLF and Revolution Books stores have provided me among the captives I can reach and communicate with. The SHU "just so happens" to be where they isolate and slam down the most progressive, revolutionary, intelligent and indomitable elements of the prison population. When, by word of mouth or by my political activity on the tier, these cats learn I'm a communist revolutionary with revolutionary literature available for all regardless of race, group, etc., a lot of them are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity to use this lit to either acquaint themselves with or enhance their understanding of the political ideology and science our class enemies malign and slander so vehemently. Contrary to what ignorance gets poured on into people's minds through the bourgeoisie's political propaganda agents, in prison 99% of us are seeking an alternative to living and dying like this. So, after reading a coupl'a newspapers or a book or two, the first question I'm asked before the wrangling and unity-struggle-unity begins is, "Who is Bob Avakian?" In response to this inquiry, I've adopted a updated version of the line Eldridge Cleaver used to describe the identity and significance of Mao in the '60s to you, Bob Avakian. I reply, "Bob Avakian is the baddest motherfucker on the planet earth! He is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. He has re-envisioned the whole idea of communist revolution by summing up the weaknesses and shortcomings and, more importantly, the great achievements and advances of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the revolutionary movement internationally. He knows the way out of all this shit and into a completely new society and world. If you have any desire to be free and to liberate humanity and change the world into a place we got a shot at surviving in and will actually enjoy living in, then learn about him and what he's reppin." I state this with complete confidence, and it's refreshing and invigorating to introduce yet another to this leader who is so genuinely committed to the people. Sadly though, over 500 years of imperialism, colonialism, oppression, degradation, murderous brutality and betrayal, and the very real and all too present history and culture of white supremacy is expressed so poignantly and succinctly in their very next question: "Oh yeah? Dog that's straight! But what IS Bob Avakian?" Most cats get the impression from his writings that he's Black or Latino, or even Asian. They're astonished to learn that Bob Avakian is white. Almost automatically Avakian's ethnicity acts to disqualify him as a revolutionary in the minds of even a lot of revolutionary minded individuals. So let me get into some of my thoughts on Bob Avakian's credentials as a communist leader.

This is a theme that has come up very sharply while popularizing the leadership of Bob Avakian and I think they've come a long way towards dispelling the notion that there can or should only be particular nationalities from specific socio-economic status (basically excluding whites and legitimizing poor Blacks, Latinos or Native Americans) at the helm of any revolutionary movement in the U.S. since only one from among the oppressed nationalities will and can truly act in the interests of the oppressed nations and resist betraying the people or succumbing to certain race and/or class privileges the bourgeoisie will attempt to entice them to steer the upsurge back within acceptable boundaries or abandon it all together. I have only one thing to say in regard to this, and that's that it flies in the face of history.

How many Black/Latino/Native/etc. leaders and/or nationalistic revolutionary movements have failed to grasp or understand where the masses need to go, or either been co-opted by the bourgeois political "left-wing" or other imperialist forces or simply and subtly turned revisionist throughout history? Now, I don't call our attention to history to propose or argue that "minorities" in the U.S. or non-white people internationally are incapable of leading movements or a revolution to fruition, for history overflows with examples of just that and more! Nor am I seeking to lend credence to the erroneous idea that only white people and so-called "white movements" have been largely successful when they've risen on the stage of history, and therefore should be imbued with leadership positions or given the reins outright to ensure success because of their supposed prowess in struggle, superior intellectual, cultural and genetic disposition for the opposite has a abundance of historical and scientific precedence.

What we all need to be raising is the reality that the "right" nationality does not qualify and should not sanctify revolutionary leadership, because even if a particular man or woman with an ample amount of melanin comes to the fore, his/her leadership will ultimately serve to sap the initiative of or misguide or even destroy the mass movement or revolution if the LINE is wrong. The correct line is the principal aspect of the contradiction between communist revolutionary leadership and the basic masses, and only by following whoever has the right line can we accomplish our world historic mission.

* * * * *

I think Clyde Young summed it up very well when he appeared on KPFK in L.A. He was asked  " revolutionary it is to have an older white man from upper middle class economic background leading a revolutionary organization?" Clyde replied straight up, "I think the crucial question here is not that he is a white leader but that he is a communist leader. I think that's a very important point to be emphasizing."  Yes, Sir! And this is exactly the point I've been emphasizing with these cats around here and encourage others to do wherever they're at with those who believe that communist revolution led by the proletariat and its vanguard party is on the historical agenda but haven't gotten beyond the narrow nationalism and other expressions of unscientific and unmaterialistic and undialectical thinking. This is not Black or Brown or Red or Yellow revolution. This is international revolution, it's the proletariat getting where it needs to go....

I'm a 23-year-old "Blaxican" from San Jose, CA and there are those who seriously wonder why I be running around extolling this white dude I don't even know personally and who doesn't know I exist. Well, it's simple really. First, I know what I need to know about Bob Avakian and I respect and admire him on that basis. Second, he does know me, for I am one amongst the masses and he knows the masses very intimately. Third, I wanna be free to live my own life, not suffer and die to enrich a few muthafuckers, not when we're at the stage where it's entirely unnecessary. We can't invest our ambitions into leaders who don't know the way to bring them to fulfillment. And we definitely can't wait around expecting some "savior" to emerge who fits the finely calibrated criteria—racially, socio-economically, sexually, culturally, etc.—then launch the revolutionary struggle behind that person. We can't wait for someone deemed with leadership potential now to start investigating and analyzing everything necessary to develop line and when they "got it!" rally the masses into action. Not only can "we" not wait, "THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT!" Like Avakian says all the time, communist revolutionaries must be leading the masses to where these interests truly lie, infusing their spontaneity with class consciousness, MLM and communist morality, not trailing behind them or sitting on the sidelines cheering them on. Rather, we gotta be right there in the thick in their resistance, soles on the pavement, roaring a resounding "NO MORE."

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us



Challenging Traditional Gender Roles and Sexuality

One of the most important things that emerged in the upheaval of the 1960s (and into the early 1970s), particularly through the more radical currents within the women's movement, was the challenging of traditional gender roles in many different ways. And this, again, owing significantly to economist influences, was not thoroughly taken up and pursued by the emerging communist forces, including the RU (Revolutionary Union) at that time. Even while we did learn some things from this movement and did take up aspects of this, it was not taken up in the kind of central and thorough way it should have been. (This was interconnected with influences of the communist movement internationally and historically, which I will also discuss further through the remaining part of this talk.)

At the same time, and along with this challenging of traditional gender roles, there were many questions of sexuality and sexual liberation that were being brought up by the women's movement: a lot of experimentation, some of which led to dead ends, some resulting in bad ends, as is spoken to in our party's Declaration.1 Nonetheless, very important questions were being raised and answers were being sought in this sphere too. The whole question of emancipating women's sexuality—and that sexuality not being reduced to a "duty" to fulfill men sexually—was a very important dimension of what was being brought forward. But this didn't fit neatly into the views and the tendencies of the communist movement internationally and historically—it was something that, to significantly understate it, was at odds with a lot of the prevailing tradition within the communist movement, which significantly influenced the RU at that time.

And, along with this, in this whole context of throwing into the air and challenging traditional notions and oppressive conventions and mores with regard to sexuality, homosexuality also became a major social question and focus of struggle. And this, as we know, was way outside the pale of what the communist movement historically and internationally was prepared to engage in any kind of way other than to just reject it outright—and this included the RU, and then, for much too long a period, the RCP.

Now, it is true that, while there were, as our Declaration points out, many positive aspects to the sexual exploration and the challenging of tradition with regard to sexuality, and in particular the sexuality of women, which emerged through the upsurge of that time, there were ways, as that Declaration also emphasizes, in which the traditional roles and the traditional domination by men over women reasserted themselves and took advantage of, and turned into their opposite, these attempts to liberate women's sexuality. Notwithstanding these negative aspects, the questions that were being thrown up and the answers that were being sought were extremely important, as we can recognize more clearly now, particularly as we now view things not through a reified and economist understanding of what the proletarian revolution is all about, but understanding it in its fullest expression as (in the words of the Communist Manifesto) the most radical rupture with all traditional ideas, as well as with all traditional property relations. If, at the time of that powerful upsurge, in the 1960s and into the 1970s, we had really understood that fully, and proceeded from that understanding, we would have welcomed and embraced, and scientifically synthesized, what was being brought forward and thrown into the air and wrangled over in the realm of sexuality.

The Communist Movement, Socialist Society and Women's Emancipation—A Critical Overview

This brings me to some important points concerning the history and historical influence of the communist movement on this question—not just the question of sexuality but of gender relations and the woman question more broadly speaking. Here again, I want to emphasize that more definitely needs to be learned about this. But the following are some observations which may, in turn, serve as a part of the framework for further investigation, analysis and synthesis.

Now, not only to be "fair" in some abstract sense, but to be objective and scientific and to recognize what has in fact been the principal aspect of things, some very important fundamental analysis was made by the communist movement with regard to the oppression and the struggle for the liberation of women. Historically new breakthroughs were made, with Engels' The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State seminal in this regard. But, at the same time, intermixed with this, within the communist movement, there was from the beginning and there increasingly developed strong currents of economism, nationalism, patriarchy and traditional views and values with regard to women. This took very sharp expression in the Soviet Union over the period in which it was actually a socialist country.

To briefly touch on some important aspects of this, which, again, require further investigation, analysis and synthesis: In the Soviet Union during the period of socialism (from the time of the October 1917 revolution up through the mid-1950s, when capitalism was restored) transformations of a truly major and in some ways quite profound nature were carried out which did qualitatively change the position of women in a positive way and significantly strike at deep-seated inequalities between men and women. We should not ignore or underestimate this.

As part of this, there was some challenging of traditional gender roles in the popular culture as well as in official policy, especially in the 1920s. But there were significant limitations and shortcomings in this, and especially after the 1920s there was not only a lack of continuing to challenge and transform traditional gender relations and roles, but there was, in some aspects, a retreat from this. This is part of a larger phenomenon that we've noted, which was manifested in a number of different dimensions. For example, in the sphere of art and culture there was a lot of experimentation, a lot of throwing things up into the air, particularly in the early years of the Soviet Republic. But then at a certain point, after Stalin's leadership was firmly consolidated, things changed. However, it is necessary to look through a broader lens and not attribute this simply to a single individual. The larger context was set by the view—which did have a basis in reality—that, in the 1930s, and especially as that decade went on, there was a growing danger of imperialist attack on the Soviet Union, and that in any case it was necessary to rapidly industrialize and transform the economy, including in the countryside, or else, as Stalin put it, "we will perish." As this approach was applied, everything tended to get reduced to and funneled into the drive for rapid development of the economy. And to a significant degree, different forms of experimentation in different spheres—whether it was art and culture or the sphere of sexuality and gender relations—tended to be hemmed in and "compressed" within this framework, wherein it was held that the transformation of the economy, viewed essentially as a matter of technology and technological development and transformation, would lay the basis for, if not itself bring about, the elimination of the social relations that remained from the old society.

And then, particularly in the periods more or less directly leading into and during, and then after, World War 2, there were a number of statements from official sources in the Soviet Union that emphasized not only that it was "natural" for women to have a "maternal instinct" and to want to have and rear children, but also that it was their patriotic duty to do so—their duty to the Motherland, as it was formulated.

Now, we should not in this context ignore the objective factors of first the impending and then the actual massive attack on the Soviet Union, with the tremendous loss of life that occurred as a result of the Soviet Union's involvement in World War 2. In various studies I've seen, the estimate of 20 million (which we all sort of grew up with as the standard estimate of the number of Soviet lives lost during World War 2) has actually been challenged from the standpoint of saying that the number was probably even higher; some estimates of 25, 30 or even 40 million are offered, and not by people who are totally out of touch with reality. To emphasize the enormity of this, 20 million, the low estimate, would represent at least 10% of the Soviet population at that time, while 40 million would amount to about 20%—1 out of every 5 Soviet citizens! So it's understandable, on one level, why, in the aftermath of that war, there would be an emphasis on the need to increase the population, and that along with this tendencies to view this as the essential role and contribution of women would be strengthened. This is understandable, but it is not legitimate, justified or acceptable for communists to be putting this forward as their answer to this very real and acute contradiction—the tremendous loss of population as a result of the war.2

Obviously, in the history of the socialist and communist movements up through the experience of the Soviet Union during the period of Stalin's leadership, while again many truly profound changes and great achievements were brought about in relation to the status of women, as well as in other spheres, there remained a salient need for a further radical rupture with regard to the conception of women's role in society and its transformation, including a thorough break with the "motherhood cult" and with traditional gender roles.

As some observers of the Soviet experience (and not only the most overtly anti-communist) have pointed out, with some justification, while there was an advocacy of equality for women—and, it is important to emphasize, very important steps were taken in that direction, in the Soviet Union when it was socialist—there was no fundamental nor consistent effort to educate and mobilize masses to challenge and transform traditional gender roles in any kind of thorough way as part of fully uprooting tradition's chains. And, as one expression of this, increasingly after the early years of the Soviet Republic, the idea of the abolition of the family receded and then all but disappeared and was to a significant degree replaced by glorification of the family as it existed in the Soviet Union—and it was proclaimed that this was a different kind of family, and therefore women's role as mother had a different meaning. This went along with increasingly extolling motherhood in particular, even while this coexisted with significant steps that were being taken to overcome inequality and ways in which women's role had been limited—particularly as this applied to their role in work and the economy—including by removing barriers to women in traditionally male occupations.

In other words, as some have formulated it, there was a conception and even policies moving in the direction of equality for women, but there was no fundamental and consistent challenge to, or effort to transform, traditional gender roles, at least not after the beginning experimentation in the 1920s.3

All this does illustrate the basic point I have been emphasizing: In the Soviet Union, when it was socialist, there were, both in conception and in practice, not only important breakthroughs in terms of overcoming inequality for women in many different spheres, but also, especially in the early years, some challenging of traditional gender roles; but this latter aspect in particular was also in conflict with, and was increasingly giving way to, the assertion of traditional patriarchal views and conventions, along with economist and nationalist tendencies within the Soviet Union and the international communist movement overall, in which the Soviet Union exerted a great influence.

Now, in China, there were definitely significant advances beyond the Soviet experience, including with regard to the role of women in many different spheres of society. One of the ways this was powerfully expressed was in the sphere of culture, particularly through the course of the Cultural Revolution—with the model opera works and ballets, and so on. And this included a definite element of challenging traditional gender roles in many different spheres.

But still there were significant influences of economism, nationalism, patriarchy and traditional views and values, with regard to gender roles, and especially with regard to sexuality. Let us put it this way: What I referred to earlier, regarding the questions that were being raised and the answers that were being sought in terms of sexuality and, in particular women's sexuality, through the women's liberation movement, and especially its more radical sections, during the 1960s and into the 1970s—that would not have met with great welcome, nor was it embraced at the time, by the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. This is something we have to squarely recognize. And, for the most part, this was not welcomed and embraced by new communist forces looking to the Chinese Communist Party at that time, including specifically the RU and then the RCP. I will say that in visiting China in the early 1970s, along with the many tremendously positive things that I took note of and was inspired by, you did get this feeling of a certain heavy atmosphere and some sense of repression with regard to sexuality. And, looking at this in larger perspective, it does seem to have been part of an historical trend in the communist movement with which the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese revolution did not really rupture. This was not something that was unique to, or a specific weakness of, the Chinese revolution in contrast with the communist movement overall.

While, again, there is certainly more to be learned about this, it can be said that, with regard to the sphere of sexuality, in some significant ways for the communist movement overall, and specifically for our party and the RU before it, the question of homosexuality has been emblematic of the weakness of the communist movement and socialist states historically—from the time of Engels, with his unfortunate remarks denigrating homosexuality, up through the Chinese revolution. This, in a significant way, has concentrated a weakness of the communist movement on the question of sexuality more generally, including specifically how this relates to the status, and the struggle for the complete liberation, of women.

The Need and the Basis for a Further Leap and Radical Rupture

So, while again there is definitely more to be learned through further investigation, study, analysis and synthesis, all this does, I believe, establish that there is a need for a further radical rupture, to lay a firmer foundation for really achieving the "4 Alls"4 in their fullest dimension. This has not been given full expression or been fully recognized in the history of the communist movement, including in the history of our party, until very recently when we have begun to seriously address questions from a different and much more radical standpoint.

The change in the position of our party on the question of homosexuality5 is, in very significant measure, a result of what has developed into the New Synthesis, and specifically the method and approach embodied in that New Synthesis. It represents a breaking with trends and tendencies within the communist movement which, to no small degree, have been suffocating of the kind of radical theory and radical movement that communism actually should be and must be. But, in a real sense, this constitutes a beginning, which we need to build on and go much further with—on the basis of a scientific approach and the scientific synthesis of what I referred to earlier as the visceral and the theoretical.

At the same time, the struggle against the oppression of women, aiming at nothing less than the complete and final abolition of this oppression in every form, is also a crucial part of making revolution in the first place, without which there can be no revolution, certainly not one aiming for communism. Building a movement for revolution as powerfully as possible toward the first great leap of the seizure of power and the creation of a new, revolutionary state, empowering people to actually build a new society free of exploitation and oppression—when the conditions for that have been brought into being through the unfolding of the contradictions of the system itself and the conscious, consistent and determined ideological, political and organizational work of the growing ranks of the revolutionary communists—this is what we have to be taking up and proceeding from. Viewed in this light, there is a present and pressing need for further grappling in the realm of theory, analysis and synthesis to deepen our understanding concerning the oppression and the liberation of women—building on and advancing from the work that has been done, in order to learn still more about the origins of the oppression of women, but also about the specific forms this oppression is assuming in today's world as well as the actual material underpinnings and dynamics underlying this—all focused toward a deepened grasp of the necessary conditions for the complete emancipation of women and the role of the struggle around this contradiction as a pivotal and decisive front of the overall struggle for a communist world and the emancipation of humanity as a whole from all oppressive divisions.

1. A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity, Revolution #158, March 8, 2009. [back]

2. It should be stressed here that this view, of women's contribution to the country through childbearing, was not unique to Stalin and the Soviet leadership in the time of Stalin. Take, for example, the following statement by German socialist August Bebel in the early part of the 20th century: "A woman who gives birth to children renders, at least, the same service to the commonwealth as the man who defends his country and his hearth with his life against a foe in search of conquest." (From Woman Under Socialism) It is important to stress that this statement by Bebel is made in the context of emphasizing the dangers women face in childbirth, as part of a polemic on behalf of equality for women and in opposition to attempts to limit their role in public life and in contributing to society overall. And this statement by Bebel is not in the same category as the following, made during the same period, by the aggressive champion of American imperialism, Theodore Roosevelt: "But ... the woman who, whether from cowardice, from selfishness, from having a false and vacuous ideal shirks her duty as a wife and mother, earns the right to our contempt just as does the man who, from any motive, fears to do his duty in battle when the country calls him." (Cited in For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts' Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English, Second Anchor Books Edition, 2005, p. 209.) Nonetheless, Bebel, like Stalin and other prominent socialist and communist leaders who advocated for and led struggle on behalf of equality for women, was not free of the influence of paternalistic and even patriarchal views toward women. [back]

3. Footnote by author: In this connection, as part of research on this question, I came across a reference to a book which I haven't yet read—and therefore I can't evaluate the book overall—but the passage referred to did seem to be making an important point. This book is Creating Rosie the Riveter: Class, Gender and Propaganda During World War II, by Maureen Honey (Univ. of Massachusetts Press, 1984). It appears to be comparing the experience in the U.S. (as attested to by the reference to Rosie the Riveter) and in the Soviet Union in the context of the second world war, and it identifies some significant similarities, it seems, between the two: the situation where (although estimates are that in the Soviet Union nearly a million women did take part in guerrilla warfare and other forms of military activity in fighting the Nazis, which is different than the U.S.) with large numbers of men in the military, women increasingly, in the Soviet Union—and in a new way, in some senses, in the U.S.—were fulfilling roles in the economy which men had traditionally occupied and from which women had generally been barred. But there was a way in which—even in the Soviet Union, and not just in the U.S.—this role of women in production, along with their role as mothers, was presented not only (and in the U.S. particularly, not so much) as a matter of rights and equality but also as a matter of duty, and more specifically patriotic duty to the country. This is something which is worth pursuing further. [back]

4. Earlier in the talk, Avakian describes the "4 Alls": "This is the goal around which people must be brought forward: the advance to communism, the achievement of what we refer to as the '4 Alls,' as they were popularized in China at the time of Mao: the abolition of all class distinctions, the abolition of all the production (or economic) relations on which these class distinctions rest, the abolition of all the social relations corresponding to those production relations, and the revolutionizing of all the ideas that correspond to those social relations." [back]

5. For a discussion of the RCP's position on homosexuality, and the development of that position, involving a major, qualitative change in its views on this question, see "On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme," RCP Publications, 2001. See also Bob Avakian and Bill Martin, Marxism and the Call of the Future: Conversations on Ethics, History, and Politics (Open Court, 2005), especially chapter 21, "Sexuality and Homosexuality." [back]

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us



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

Editors' Note: The following are points made by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, in a recent exchange with other comrades. This has been edited for publication here.

One of the more important statements in the Manifesto from our Party (Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage) is the quote from Marx: "Once the inner connection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions breaks down before their collapse in practice." This is not just a matter of abstract theory—it has a broader effect. That belief weighs heavily on people who don't like the way things are—they are weighed down by a belief in the "permanent necessity of existing conditions." Over and over we are confronted by the fact that people can't see beyond the way things are now.

This has to do with the importance of constantly wrangling with what a revolutionary situation would look like and how a revolution could actually be made. There is a point in "Out Into the World—As A Vanguard of the Future" on grappling with what a revolutionary situation would look like.1 We need to give people a really living sense of what we mean by "hastening while awaiting" the emergence of a revolutionary situation. And this is linked to the point that what we're doing is building a movement for revolution and letting people know what we think that revolution would look like.

This question of belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions—and the inability to see beyond those conditions—came up with World Can't Wait when people would ask: "What good would it do to drive out the Bush Regime?" Well, think of the pyramid dynamic2 in that light: what would the Democrats have had to do if there were a million people demanding "Drive out the Bush Regime"? If there were millions even today insisting in the streets that the Democrats not "bow down" to what is represented by the Republicans, even that would change the dynamic; the Democrats would have to make tactical adjustments to deal with this, and the adjustments would create more necessity and more freedom for the revolutionaries to deal with. We have to break people out of the belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions.

This has to do with the idea of putting out a constitution for the future socialist state.3 It has to do with the Raymond Lotta speech.4 We are precisely taking on, in many different dimensions, this belief in the permanent necessity of the existing conditions. This also happens with initiatives among the proletariat and other basic people that project an alternate authority while challenging illegitimate and abusive actions of the current authority. And so is what we're doing with the woman question, and morality and culture—because what we're doing with popularizing and actually creating a movement where people live our morality is nothing less than projecting an alternate authority in the realm of ideology. All of these initiatives are saying that the world does not have to be this way; they are all different avenues of bringing people to grapple with the reality that the world really does NOT have to be this way.

We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution

A big part of transforming the people is, yes, a different consciousness and morality, but also people seeing the breakdown in their own understanding of the "permanent necessity of existing conditions" and the possibility of a whole different thing. This is related again to how we talk to people: we ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution—not asking them: "Would it be a good idea to have a revolution?"—after which they give all the reasons why it wouldn't, or why we can't, and that sets the tone and conditions for what follows. No, we don't ignore those questions—we talk with people about them, but by saying, "okay, those are points and we have thought about them and have answers we can get into—but we ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution and this is what that revolution will look like, and this is how everything we are doing is contributing to this revolution."

That Marx statement is very profound—and not just for the intellectuals. Just because "all theoretical belief" is used, we could make the mistake of thinking it only applies to people who grapple with high levels of theory. But in today's world, this belief (that the world cannot be fundamentally changed) has "filtered down" and is one of the main things that weighs on people. So this is a thread that has to come through much more in terms of this campaign that we're waging this year to really change the whole trajectory of things, now, very radically, focused on the message and call issued by our Party, "The Revolution We Need...The Leadership We Have."5 It is nowhere near the case that the basic spirit, substance and sense of what Marx is getting at there guides what we're doing now. And this is one of the biggest weights on people. There are ways in practice as well as theory that we have to begin to break down the belief in this "permanent necessity," as well as battling over whose morality is attracting people.

This has everything to do with the "hastening while awaiting" point. If you conceive of revolution as someday the world is somehow going to be radically different and at that point we will do something to radically change, that won't happen—but that's not what we're doing. We have to elevate our sights and lead consistently with the understanding that the world does NOT have to be this way, and we ARE building a movement for revolution. This is not put forward, at least not in any consistent and compelling way, to the advanced around us at this point—whose number is still too small—this is not what's coming through to them. The whole thing about "revolution is real"—revolution made palpable—this is bound up with everything I'm talking about here. Actually building a movement for revolution and bringing that to the fore.

What follows that quote from Marx is that he brought to light not only the inner connections of capitalism itself, but its inner connection with other systems and showed on that basis that there was no necessity for capitalism or any other systems of exploitation. He showed that this is an historically evolved system. Marx made the point that bourgeois theorists will talk about all kinds of changes in capitalist relations, but always with the assumption that those relations are the highest and final end point of human development. But it's not the only way, especially in today's world, to do things—there's a much better way. This is the point that's made in the "Revolution" speech on the DVD, about how we can do all this complicated production without the imperialists, and do it better.6

But everything you say gets filtered through the existing production relations and superstructure that arises on this economic base. Look at the experience of the person who wrote the newspaper on the "Imagine" section of the talk on revolution: because they didn't first see it in the context of the whole speech, they understood it as just another "politician's promise." Then they saw the whole speech all the way through, and it clicked in a whole different way with them.7

All this has everything to do with whether we're building a movement for revolution and a radically different society, or whether we're just puttering around. We're not going to get there if this orientation doesn't infuse and inform everything we're doing. Then you get the phenomenon where people newly coming into this run into opposition and fall away, and while there are problems with our comrades taking an "all-or-nothing" approach with such people, this point I'm making here is even more essential.8 In fact the actual breakdown of the existing system is impossible in practice if it has not been done first in theory, that is to say, in the understanding of many people. This has to much more consistently come through, in everything we do—not just in speeches or articles, but in the whole ensemble of the work we do, this is what we should bring forward to people: There IS NO permanent necessity for the existing conditions.

There will never be an attempt at revolution, a real attempt, if you are not constantly grappling with what that might look like when, with the necessary qualitative changes and leaps in the objective situation, what is talked about in "On the Possibility"9 would be real. You cannot transform things through this capitalist economic base in a progressive way; if you want to "get beyond General Motors" you will have to do away with the existing state power. I'm not saying we should give a speech to this effect all the time, but this should infuse and guide what we're doing, and what we bring to people.

Then, when you do have a significant core that no longer believes in the permanent necessity of these conditions, they can do much better in going back and forth with broader masses. They can make clear to people who do come forward that, yes, you will get a lot of opposition out there, but that's just because there's a superstructure (there is a whole apparatus for "molding public opinion" and shaping "popular culture") which influences people to think that there's no other way to live than this—and in actual fact that's just not the case.

This is what it means to build a movement FOR REVOLUTION. Yes, fight the power, but this is the "for revolution" part.10 We should be going to people like I said: "We are building this movement for revolution and you should be part of this, but we're not having a poll as to whether people think it's possible...we have plenty to say about that...but we are in the meantime building this."

Emancipators of Humanity

What is the actual new synthesis?11 The heart of it is solid core and elasticity. At a talk I gave, years ago now, someone asked: "How would you do better than the Soviet Union or China under Mao?" One of the things I said to him is: "I don't believe in tailing people because they're oppressed—we need emancipators of humanity." When you are in a qualitatively different situation than what we have now—when the present system has been swept aside and the new, socialist system has been brought into being—there would have to be an army, as the backbone of an actual state, that enforces the new system, and that army would be made up of very basic people in large part. But we have to train them to understand that, as part of that, they are going to have to be out there protecting the rights of people who oppose this new system, and they are going to have to defend the right of these people to raise this opposition, while at the same time they would also have to stop people who really are making attempts to smash the state power we have. I said that this will be a struggle with masses, but we have to bring forward on every level people who have this kind of understanding of what we're doing. The Constitution of the new, socialist system is going to enumerate the rights of people, and this state apparatus is going to protect people's rights who don't agree, so long as they don't actively and concretely organize to overthrow that state apparatus. That is where the Lenin point comes in: As long as there are classes, one class is going to dictate, and "better me than you"—that is, better the dictatorship of the proletariat than the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (capitalist class).

But what is that dictatorship of the proletariat? BOTH aspects of this are important—solid core and elasticity. There would not be a General Motors in socialist society, and there would also not be an FBI or an LAPD. Those kinds of institutions would be abolished and—unless they agreed to abolish themselves voluntarily—they would have to be forcefully abolished under a future dictatorship of the proletariat. Maybe they would be given 24 hours to disband!...but disbanded they would have to be. There would be revolutionary institutions in place of those old, oppressive and reactionary institutions...and, yes, that is what we're building for—aiming for the time when there is a qualitative change in the objective situation, when a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions and millions have been brought into being. And when that revolution is made, when a new, revolutionary state power is brought into being, there would not just be a new army, but that new army would be guided by very different principles. There would be a culture in that army, but it definitely would not be (as in the hymn of the imperialist Marine Corps): "From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli"—that's just not going to be what guides the new state apparatus! No more General Motors and no more Marines. The principles we're talking about here, and the reason we're going out to win people to be emancipators of humanity, is that they're going to be the actual backbone of the new state.

This has everything to do with the "permanent necessity" point. It has to do with "human nature," and the fact that, just as there is no "permanent necessity" for the existing conditions, there is also no "unchanging and unchangeable human nature."

People say: "You mean to tell me that these youth running around selling drugs and killing each other, and caught up in all kinds of other stuff, can be a backbone of this revolutionary state power in the future?" Yes—but not as they are now, and not without struggle. They weren't always selling drugs and killing each other, and the rest of it—and they don't have to be into all that in the future. Ask yourself: how does it happen that you go from beautiful children to supposedly "irredeemable monsters" in a few years? It's because of the system, and what it does to people—not because of "unchanging and unchangeable human nature."

We're talking about a whole different and better way that we can bring into being...if we win.

Yes, we are talking about conditions that don't yet exist now, and our enemies can intentionally take things out of context and misconstrue it. So we had better learn how to talk about this well, because people do need to grapple with the possibility of these future conditions as part of having this vision out there. Let's inspire people—let's have a lot of expressions of a radically different culture, and let's write some new hymns for people—ones with a radically different message than that of a marauding, murderous, invading and occupying imperialist force—"From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli"...NO. How are people being led and inspired to live and to die? We have to say to those who want a new world but who don't want—or don't understand the need for—the whole thing of fostering and protecting and listening to dissent: "If you want a new world where children are not killed by police and where all these other outrages don't happen, then we have to be down for this whole thing. We should not want these outrages to happen to any group of people. Our aim should be a radically different world, where all that has been buried in the past."

1. This refers to the following passage from "Out Into the World—As a Vanguard of the Future," a talk by Bob Avakian in 2008:

"Next, I want to turn to what could be called: more on—more work to be done on—a revolutionary situation (with its various components), particularly in a country like this. What I'm getting at here is the importance of continually wrangling with the questions: What would such a revolutionary situation actually look like? What could it emerge out of? What factors could come together to establish the necessary basis for such a revolutionary situation?

"It is very important to be continually returning to and wrangling with such questions. At the same time, it is also important to emphasize that this must not be approached in an idealist fashion—conjuring up a scenario and then seeking to impose this, in an apriorist manner, on reality. Rather, it is a matter and a need of constantly probing, digging beneath the surface to identify trends and forces, within a particular country and in the overall world situation, that could become part of, or contribute to, the 'mix' of a revolutionary situation; and it is important to do that in advance not only of the actual emergence of a revolutionary situation, but well before the specific features of that situation become immediately and obviously apparent. Well before that, and repeatedly, it is necessary to be grappling, in the realm of strategic conception once again, with both the objective and subjective aspects of such a revolutionary situation: with how objective factors could conceivably come together to provide the objective elements of a revolutionary situation and what position would the vanguard of the revolution have to be in, in terms of its influence as well as its organized ties with different sections of the masses, in order to seize on such a situation—and what the vanguard would have to do in such a situation to bring about its full ripening and to then lead people, in their millions, to wage the actual struggle for the seizure of power. This is another expression of theory, or strategic conception, 'running ahead' of practice. But, at the same time, it would be necessary and important to keep in mind and maintain the recognition of a decisive principle that Lenin stressed—that, in the event itself, life is much richer than its anticipation in conception and, in this sense, as Lenin emphasized, theory is gray while the tree of life is green—and accordingly, as real-life contradictions continue to unfold—including through the role of accident and contingency, in dialectical relation with necessity and causality—it is necessary to be continually returning to and grappling anew with the conception of what a revolutionary situation would look like and what demands its development would place on the subjective factor (the vanguard party).

"It is not idle speculation—nor, again, idealist apriorism—that is being called for, but a continual wrangling with what, after all, we are trying to get to, in terms of the first great leap, getting over the first great hump, and how that informs and influences what we are doing now, even while our work in this period is qualitatively different than the work revolutionaries would be doing once a revolutionary situation actually emerged. This is another way of saying: what is the living link here?—in this case particularly on the level of strategic conception and its relation to practice at any given time.

"And it can also be emphasized, and must be emphasized, that not to grapple with this, in the way I've been speaking of this here, is another form of tailing spontaneity and will lead in the direction of 'gradualism'—or, to put it simply, revisionism—and of accommodation and capitulation to the world the way it is, as it's dominated and ruled by imperialism and reactionary classes." [back]

2. For a discussion of the pyramid dynamic, see Bob Avakian's most recent talk, "Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution" at—in particular, the section "The Continuing Relevance and Importance of the 'Pyramid Analysis'" under "I. Once More on the Coming Civil War...and Repolarization for Revolution." [back]

3. Bob Avakian has recently raised the idea, among Party leadership, of having some comrades in the Party write a constitution of a future socialist state, as a way to give substance and life to how the new synthesis would apply to actually governing a society that would be both a radically new system itself and at the same time a society in transition to communism. [back]

4. This refers to Raymond Lotta's speech "Everything You've Been Told About Communism Is Wrong—Capitalism Is a Failure, Revolution Is the Solution!" given on college campuses in 2009-2010. [back]

5. See Revolution, #170, July 19, 2009, for this message and call. That issue also contains an editorial laying out the campaign's aims:

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

"Second, we intend to make Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party and leader of the revolution, 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, as laid out in Chairman Avakian's recent talk Ruminations and Wranglings, 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.'" [back]

6. This refers to a passage in the speech Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, where Bob Avakian states: "Capitalism, especially now that it has reached the stage of imperialism, controls, dominates, manipulates and mangles the lives of people all over the world. Many times you hear these imperialists and their mouthpieces say things like this, 'well you say we're exploiting people. But without us there'd be no jobs.' They come out with this especially when it comes to light that they are paying people something like a few cents an hour in countries all over the Third World. No. The truth is, without these imperialists, there would still be people capable of working, people capable of planning and running an economy. There would still be natural resources and potential wealth for the people in those countries, when they take control over their societies and remake them in a radical way through revolution. But then, what there would be, is no capital, no capitalism, no imperialism, exploiting and robbing the people and plundering their countries. And the masses of people everywhere in the world would be much better off. You cannot make this system into something else than what it is. So long as it rules, so long as it is in effect, everything that it does, all the ways it makes people suffer all over the world, will continue and will only get worse. Because that's the only way this system can operate." [back]

7. The reference here is to a letter from a reader published in Revolution #190, "The Revolution Talk: 'A Precious, Rare, and Enormous Tool.'" [back]

8. The "all-or-nothing" approach being criticized here is one that demands a high level of activity and commitment from anyone who shows interest in revolution, communism and the Party, rather than finding the ways for people to check things out and participate at a level corresponding to their actual understanding of the world and their sense of how to change this at any given time, "giving them air to breathe" and room to learn through their own experience, while at the same time struggling with them over these questions—struggle which is carried out in a living, non-dogmatic way, encompassing both learning and leading. [back]

9. The reference here is to "On the Possibility of Revolution," which originally appeared in Revolution #102 and is included in the Revolution pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation (May 1, 2008), pp. 80-89. [back]

10. The formulation "Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution" embodies a basic part of the Party's strategic approach for building a revolutionary movement. For a discussion of this formulation, see Bob Avakian's talk "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity," in particular "Part 2: Everything We're Doing Is About Revolution." [back]

11. Substantive discussions of the new synthesis can be found in "Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: WHAT IS BOB AVAKIAN'S NEW SYNTHESIS?" (a talk given in spring 2008 and available online at and in a section from Bob Avakian's talk "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity," which can be found in PDF format at Go to for more works by Bob Avakian. [back]

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Food for Thought

What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think.

Bob Avakian,
Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
previously unpublished

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Reporter's Journal on the Earthquake

KATASTWÒF!—Voices from Haiti

Part 3: Conversations in Port-au-Prince

by Jon Travers

On January 12, 2010 an extremely powerful earthquake struck Haiti—devastating the capital of Port-au-Prince. This Katastwòf, as it is called in Kreyol, killed over 200,000 people. In the week after the earthquake Revolution newspaper ran important articles exposing the whole history of U.S. domination in Haiti, how this created conditions of intense poverty and lack of infrastructure—direct causes of the huge death toll. And we did extensive coverage of the whole way the U.S. was sabotaging aid deliveries and justifying this in the name of "security concerns." (See "The U.S. in Haiti: A Century of Domination and Misery" and "Why So Many People Died in the Earthquake... And Why the U.S. Can Do No Good in Haiti," Revolution #190, January 31, 2010.)

To get a deeper picture of what all this really meant for the Haitian masses and how people were looking at and dealing with the situation we sent a reporter to Haiti 12 days after the earthquake. The following is the third part in a series of pages from his journal. Go to to read Part 1, Revolution #194, and Part 2, Revolution #195.

Overcrowded housing on a hillside in Port-au-Prince.

After two days in Pétionville I go to Port-au-Prince, the capital city where so many died in the earthquake. We drive down a long winding road called Rue John Brown, named after the heroic white abolitionist who led an armed attack on a U.S. army base shortly before the Civil War, in an attempt to initiate a slave uprising. I can't help but think how in the U.S. you almost never see a street named after John Brown—but there are countless streets, schools and monuments named after slave-owners like Washington and Jefferson.

There are dramatic cliffs and ravines off to our left. At first glance I think I am looking at the raw stone face of the mountains. But then I see these steep slopes are literally covered with little houses and shanties. Or were... many were crushed or slid off the mountain during the quake. My friend Janot tells me that not all the damage was caused by the earthquake–often these homes are washed away in a strong rain. A steep stairway leads from the road we are on down into the ravine below which is also filled with homes.

Former peasant living in Port-au-Prince at the time of the earthquake.

Over the last 25 years, people have built housing wherever they could in a desperate scramble to live in the capital. This housing was miserable and dangerous in the best of circumstances—in the earthquake many were death traps.

The impoverished and overcrowded conditions of Haiti's cities were clearly big factors in why so many people died in the earthquake. But these cities had not always been so crowded. In 1960, Port-au-Prince, the capital and by far the largest city in Haiti, had a population of only 257,000 out of 3.7 million in Haiti as a whole. Before 1970, over 80% of the people still lived in rural areas.

Yet at the time of the earthquake, 50 years later, an estimated three million of Haiti's 8-9 million people—more than one-third of the population—lived in Port-au-Prince. The new population was made up of a lot of former peasants who were mainly concentrated in the biggest slums and the worst housing. For instance, Cité Soleil, the largest slum in Haiti, was set up by Papa Doc in 1958 for manual laborers in an area close to the "Export Processing Zone" and quickly became the entry point for new arrivals to the city from the countryside searching for work. By 2000, it had grown to 300,000 people.  For people like this, a friend tells me, "life was already like living in an earthquake."

Destruction in the Countryside

One of the Haitian black pigs killed because of pressure from the U.S. government in 1983.

People here are pretty steeped in Haiti's history of resistance and rebellion. Even little kids can identify revolutionary leaders pictured on the currency (like Toussaint L'Ouverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines) and roughly explain their role in the revolution. The Haitian people waged a heroic and successful struggle against slavery and defeated the French colonialists in 1804. And I am reminded of how the French, U.S. and other capitalist powers punished Haiti because of this—politically and economically isolating the country for decades. Ever since, in these conditions, Haiti remained severely underdeveloped and poor and what developed was an oppressive sharecropping system in which the peasants became increasingly exploited by powerful forces in the countryside who had economic relations with elite classes in the cities.

This is the background to how small peasant agriculture was ruined by the workings of imperialism and policies by the U.S. and U.S.-dominated financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. This is a big factor in why so many people moved from the countryside to the cities. Revolution wrote:

"Thirty years ago most of the food eaten by the Haitian people was domestically grown. Then in 1986 the IMF loaned Haiti $24.6 million. One of the conditions of this loan was that Haiti reduce tariff protections on Haitian rice, other agricultural products and some industries. This made it possible for other countries, especially the U.S., to compete in Haiti's markets. But the Haitian farmers could not compete with U.S. rice growers who were being subsidized by the U.S. government... Before long the local rice market in Haiti collapsed and thousands of farmers were forced to move to the cities to look for work... Subordinate to the needs of U.S. imperialism, Haiti's agricultural economy was dramatically changed—and in a way that deepened the country's dependency, disarticulation and misery among the people." ("Truth Amidst the Rubble: The U.S. Is the Problem, Not the Solution," Revolution #191, February 7, 2010)

Talking to people in Port-au-Prince gives me a vivid picture of how this affected the lives of the masses.

Two brothers, Luc and Reneé, tell me how they moved from the countryside to Port-au-Prince. Luc is a very compelling figure in a quiet way. At 71, he moves carefully and speaks quietly, and with great thought. He tells me about his young years in the Gonaives area farther north from Port-au-Prince on the coast:

"Most of my family were farmers—we grew patat, bananas, corn, oats, sugar cane, coffee and a lot of rice. The soil was so good—when the rains came it helped the ground, you just threw the seed down and all kinds of things came up quickly. We had a fair amount of land, but my family did not hire people or rent land, we did all our own work..."

Luc and Reneé tell me they left the countryside to go to school and then stayed in the capital to practice their trades. Meanwhile most of their family remained farmers in the Gonaives area. But, Reneé said: "Now things are completely changed, there is no countryside, no rain, no planting in the ground." Luc added, "Things started to get worse and the cutting down of the trees was a big part of that... People had to cut down the trees for charcoal."

Gerard, who is 50, tells me he grew up around the town of Jacmel but was able to get some education, including in English. He worked in a fancy hotel in the U.S. Virgin Islands for four years, met and married an American woman in that time and fathered a daughter with her... and then was arrested for being undocumented. He spent 6 months in detention in the U.S., and then had to return to Haiti. Once back, he moved to Port-au-Prince because it was impossible to stay in touch with his wife or to arrange visits with her from the isolation of the countryside. And she had to stay in the U.S. because she had a decent job there that was sustaining all three of them—Gerard said he hadn't had steady work since returning to Haiti and mostly got by selling cigarettes on the street. Gerard said:

"After 1986 the rain came less and less. This was because of the destruction of the forests... The trees were destroyed by being burned for charcoal by the peasants, when they became more needy after the killing of the Haitian pigs in 1983. The pigs were killed because the Americans said they brought illness, so it was called 'pest control.' The Americans pressured the Haitian government to kill them and they gave them money for each one they killed.

"[Before that] peasants would sell their pigs to pay for their children to go to school, to build a house, to buy seed and fertilizer... At this time I was 24 years old. I had a pig that was about four months old, about half a meter high and two meters in length. They offered me $3 for it. $3! I was crying, this was my starting-out-in-life pig. I wasn't a political person, but I was sad, crying, 'why do you do that?'

"To buy a baby pig was about $150. You would give it cast-off food, burnt food, leftover grain from meal production that you mixed with water... you didn't have to pay to feed it. Our pigs were very quiet. And they were helpful, they would snuff in the dirt, break up the soil and then you could plant where they had dug, yams, banaan [plantain], patat. And they would fertilize the crops. After they took all our pigs, the Americans brought in their own pigs for us to buy. The American pigs had to have special shelters built to keep them out of the heat, you had to spend a lot of money on that, they lived better than we did.

"My father had a lot of trees and we [kids] used to plant a lot of them. But I went to see the land last year and it was naked. When you cut the trees, that causes erosion and it causes the rain to stop, and then the soil changes so that the trees can't grow. But the peasants had no choice once the pigs were gone, no other way to survive, to put their children in school. A sack of charcoal [the main cooking fuel in the cities] sells for $120. The peasants knew it was bad to cut the trees, but when they had a need they had no choice but to cut trees and sell charcoal.

"I myself used to be part of a big organization that taught us to plant trees. Every year I would plant 100 to 150 trees. My father would never cut a live tree; we waited until it was not only dead, but dried out, so there was no life to it. When someone would cut a live tree I felt like crying. I like trees, I would feed my trees like you would feed a child. I left my country in 1985 and it was covered with trees; when I came back, it was like a desert."

To be continued

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

NYPD in the Classrooms:

Turning Schools into Prisons in the Name of "Safety"

Welcome to the youth wing of the New York City prison system, also known as the NYC system of public schools.

In 1998, the NYPD was given authority to ensure "safety" in the city's public schools. What "safety" has meant in reality is the harassment, brutalization, and criminalization of a generation of youth. Today, more than 5,000 civilian NYPD employees, called "school safety officers" (SSOs), and nearly 200 armed NYPD cops patrol the city's schools. SSOs wear NYPD uniforms and can stop, frisk, interrogate, and arrest students. A federal lawsuit filed in January 2010 by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) documents numerous incidents of students being handcuffed, arrested, and physically assaulted for minor misbehavior or for nothing at all.

The New York Times' Bob Herbert has also documented some of these incidents ("Cops vs. Kids," NYT, 3/6/10):

In March 2008, a sixth-grade girl and boy at a Bronx middle school drew a line on each other's desk with an erasable marker. SSOs seized the two, handcuffed them, an armed cop interrogated them, and the kids were then hauled away to the local precinct.

In fall 2008, an SSO at a Queens high school kicked in the door of a stall in the boys' bathroom. The student in the stall, who had done nothing wrong, was hit in the head by the door and injured. The boy's family sued the city, and a $55,000 settlement was reached.

In January 2008, a kindergarten pupil was acting up. An SSO handcuffed the boy, who was then taken to a hospital psychiatric ward. As Herbert remarks: "A 5-year-old!"

In filing its lawsuit, the NYCLU noted that "The aggressive policing in the city's schools contributes to the school-to-the-prison pipeline, a disturbing national trend wherein students are funneled out of the public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. These children tend to be disproportionately Black and Latino..."

Herbert pointed out that "This poisonous police behavior is an extension into the schools of the humiliating treatment cops have long been doling out to youngsters—especially those who are black and Latino—in the city's streets." ("Poisonous Police Behavior," NYT, 6/2/07) 

Young women in these schools are frequently harassed and groped by the police. A March 2007 NYCLU report ("Criminalizing the Classroom: The Over-Policing of New York City Schools," surveyed women students who said officers touched them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Women whose underwire bras set off metal detectors, which now exist in most of the city's schools, were forced to raise their shirts or unzip their pants, supposedly to prove they weren't concealing weapons or cell phones.

The creativity, energy, initiative, and rebelliousness of the youth that THIS system crushes COULD be fully appreciated and unleashed—under a whole different system, a socialist society. Those entrusted with public security in this revolutionary society will treat people with respect and do everything possible to help them, instead of acting like an occupation army in hostile territory. And the youth should be a crucial part now of building a movement for revolution.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

The Harm of The Hurt Locker

by Annie Day

There are times when you feel we've entered the twilight zone. Large sections of people with the capacity for progressive and humane sentiments find themselves standing with, and actively supporting, criminals. This is how I felt watching The Hurt Locker, and watching The Hurt Locker win award after award at the Oscars. It was only seven years ago where the tension was palpable at the Oscars—who was going to have the courage to speak out, and several did—they wore pins with the symbol of our planet, called for peace, used their platform to declare the actions of this government were not to be done in their name. And now, cheers and accolades from the same people for the soldiers executing those same actions. There is something seriously wrong here.

The Hurt Locker is a film that is supposed to exist without context. It depicts Iraq as a shadowy, nearly soulless place. A line is dropped here or there to just barely intimate there is a problem with the U.S. occupation but that is all in passing. An Iraqi taxi driver escapes death, is dragged away, arrested by Americans, "if he wasn't an insurgent, he is now." Or we see an American commander willfully let an Iraqi insurgent bleed to death, though saving his life is possible. There are a few innocent Iraqis—stuck in between sadistic insurgents and the heroic, if flawed, Americans. Some even support Americans, but they are not to be trusted, and you get the feeling they could shoot at any point. The incessant use of the racist slur, "haji" to describe any and every Iraqi becomes like background noise, just a normal part of the scenery.

Even those intimations float away, or perhaps a larger logic takes hold and we are left hoping for "our kind." Because whatever you are to think of the war, in this film, our hearts are to be with those fighting it.

Watching The Hurt Locker, the viewer finds themself rooting for the American soldier. They will be out in a matter of days—and you want them to live, to make babies, and to get out of what is only portrayed as a dusty, dirty, hot hellhole. Despite perhaps your rational and civilized sentiments, watching this film, you find yourself hoping the soldier will not hesitate to shoot, even if it means risking an innocent Iraqi life because the last time he hesitated, an American was blown to bits. Or in another scene, you want the American to leave the innocent Iraqi who was strapped to bombs against his will in order to save himself. Here is the subtle and insidious message—when it comes right down to it, the lives of the American soldiers matter more than the people of this land.

And while war may twist and break people, and isn't it unfortunate this began in the first place, we should be glad there are heroes fighting it and we must at any rate finish what's begun.

But this is a message full of grave dangers for the people of the world, and it threatens in turn to make criminal every person who is complicit.

While any one film does not have to tell you everything about anything, there are essential assumptions in this that go not only unspoken and unchallenged, but built on. Why do so many Iraqis want to fight the Americans? A question never asked or answered. Though many of the soldiers may want out, why are they there? A question never asked or answered. Was Iraq always a nightmare, with every woman wearing a headscarf? A question never asked or answered. And besides counting down the days, carrying through on the logic of a war once set in motion, do the soldiers have any other choice? A question never asked or answered.

What is the reality? American soldiers are part of an occupying army—they are carrying out war crimes. They are not innocent victims stuck in a web not of their own making. They have a role, and they have a responsibility.

Here is just one soldier's testimony about what the reality was:

"By the time we got to Baghdad, however, I was explicitly told by my chain of command that I could shoot anyone who came closer to me than I felt comfortable with if that person did not immediately move when I ordered them to do so, keeping in mind I don't speak Arabic. The general attitude that I got from my chain of command was 'better them than us,' and the guidance that we were given reinforced that attitude across the ranks. It was an attitude that I watched intensify greatly throughout the course of my three tours. I remember in January of 2004 attending the formation where we were given what was going to be our mission for the second deployment. And I was sitting there, like a good Marine, with my pen and paper ready to write down those carefully chosen, thoughtful words that would justify my existence in Iraq for the next seven months, and my commander told me that our mission was, and I quote, 'to kill those who need to be killed and save those who need to be saved,' and that was it" (from Jason Lemieux at the Winter Soldier hearings, "Testimony from Veterans, Winter Soldier Investigation: Iraq and Afghanistan," Revolution, #126, April 13, 2008).

Or another, "There was really no rule governing the amount of force we were allowed to use on targets during the invasion. I remember one woman was walking by, and she was carrying a huge bag, and she looked like she was heading towards us, so we lit her up with a Mark 19, which is an automatic grenade launcher, and when the dust settled we realized that the bag was only full of groceries.  She had been trying to bring us food and we blew her to pieces for it" (from Jason Washburn, "Testimony from Veterans, Winter Soldier Investigation: Iraq and Afghanistan," Revolution, #126).

This testimony goes on and on for hours like this. This morality, these tactics are the morality and tactics of an occupying force, a force there for their imperialist interests. They can only fight by terrorizing a whole nation. And terrorize they do—in the sickest, and most gruesome of ways.

The ones fighting do have a choice. And all of us have a responsibility. These soldiers need to be challenged—very, very sharply. With whom should they stand, and should they go along or should they resist? We have seen throughout history what difference it makes when people who have done this system's bidding wake up, confront what it has meant and speak out. And we also have a choice—will we actually stand with the people of the world, will we break from the narrow chauvinism and American exceptionalism, the fear of the other and the foreign? Or will we continue to go down this deadly path, accepting the terms provided by the imperialist war makers, going along with torture, endless occupation, now on several war fronts? Will we, through our resistance, attempt to speak to the people of the world, telling them we are not with our government, giving air to breathe for the potential of liberating resistance (and not the resistance that ends up strengthening Islamic fundamentalism).

Several years ago, there was a flurry of different war movies—The Valley of Elah, Redacted, Rendition. And while I didn't like everything about all of them, there was a basic clarity about what this war was, and what it meant—for Iraq, America and the world. These films did not win any major awards, and a summation was propagated—one should not attempt to make "political" war films, one should not speak badly of "our troops." And now this—The Messenger, Brothers and yes, The Hurt Locker . Films that tell us the stories of soldiers, "without the politics" we are told.

But here it must be said loud and clear: in this, there is no such thing as not taking a side! There is no such thing as an "apolitical war film." The most essential fact of war is, to quote one of the most famous war strategists, that it is "a mere continuation of politics by other means." When this is glaringly the case, to attempt to step around all that is to take the side of the aggressor.

We do not need this.

We need a resurgence of cultural opposition, we need stories told from the perspective of the people of the world, we need films that expose the crimes of our government, and the crimes of those going along with our government. And we need a rising wave of defiance in society, those who are breaking free from all this narrow fucking chauvinism, we need people to stop thinking like Americans, and to really and truly, think about humanity.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

The following is excerpted from a statement by the Revolutionary Communist Party, Chicago Branch:


Mark Anthony Barmore, an unarmed Black man, was shot in the back, at point blank range, and killed by Police Officers Oda Poole and Stan North inside a church day care center located in the Black community in Rockford, Illinois on August 24, 2009. Seventeen year old Marissa Brown and her mother Shelia, who is a pastor at the church, were both working in the day care at the time. They witnessed the police gun down Barmore, which took place in front of a dozen children, putting all of their lives in danger as well.

Marissa and Shelia Brown gave statements to investigators that day about what they had seen. But from day one, it has been the Browns (and even the children!) who have been treated like suspects and criminals by the authorities, who went so far as to separately interrogate each child at the scene, without parents, lawyers or DCFS [Department of Children & Family Services] representatives being present.

December 26, 2009 press conference at the church day care center where Mark Barmore was killed by police. His father and mother are seated at left.

Since then, the Browns have never been interviewed by a single state, local or federal investigator. After waiting around for four months without interviewing the key witnesses, Winnebago County State's Attorney, Joe Bruscato, hastily took the case to the Grand Jury right before Christmas while the Browns were to be out of town. Judge Joseph McGraw, 17th Judicial Circuit Court, denied their emergency motion for a postponement. Two birds were killed with one stone. Insured that the cops would be exonerated by the Grand Jury who had no opportunity to hear what really happened from the Browns. And created a pretext to go after these two eyewitnesses who dared to tell the truth. Yes, in December, State's Attorney Bruscato charged Marissa and Shelia Brown with criminal contempt of court for failing to appear before the Grand Jury.

On February 20, 2010, the Court of Appeals in Elgin, Illinois granted the Browns emergency motion to stay the Circuit Court proceedings on the criminal contempt charges for Shelia and Marissa Brown that had been set for a hearing on March 1. This means that there will be no future court dates before Judge McGraw until the Court of Appeals first rules on the Browns appeal of their request to have that Christmas postponement of their Grand Jury subpoenas issued. This is a temporary stay which is expected to last only a month or so.

But in the meantime, Winnebago County authorities who had been playing hardball decided to ratchet it up to the level of shock and awe. They brought a new "unrelated" felony case against Marissa Brown. On February 19, 2010, amidst the fanfare of a press conference at the Winnebago County Courthouse, Bruscato charged Marissa Brown with four felony counts of filing a false report, stemming from an incident that she reported at her school, Roosevelt Alternative High School. On January 5, before classes started, Marissa reports she was held at gunpoint by a man who came into the school bathroom. She immediately called her father, Melvin Brown, also a pastor of Kingdom Authority International Ministries, the church where the police executed Barmore. Brown has been key in initiating mass rallies, speak outs, press conferences, church services involving thousands of people in the struggle to get justice for Mark Anthony. The Browns immediately reported this incident to school officials.

At the press conference, Bruscato said that the police had investigated the January 5 attack that Marissa reported and found that there was no evidence supporting her allegations. Bruscato said that his office charged Marissa with four felony counts of false reports because the Browns went to four different school and police officials.

But initially, the school principal told Marissa's parents that the school could confirm that four men who didn't attend the school had been seen in the hallway about that time that morning. Later the principal denied telling the Browns that. The principal of Roosevelt Alternative High School is named Angela Hite Carter. Many in the Black community in Rockford claim that she is the sister of Marilyn Hite Ross, Deputy State's Attorney to Bruscato. Marilyn Hite appeared at Bruscato's right hand in Judge McGraw's courtroom, arguing that Marissa and Shelia Brown ought not be granted their emergency continuance in order so that the key eyewitness testimony might be heard before the Grand Jury and she also appeared in behalf of the state's attorney's office against the Browns at the initial hearing on their contempt charges in January.

This is an extremely serious escalation against Marissa—each felony count in the new indictment against Marissa is punishable by up to three years in prison.

This is totally outrageous and totally wrong! And it must STOP!

Imagine that you are a seventeen-year-old young woman. You witnessed a person who you knew, ("Skip," his friends called him), being shot to death in front of you and while you had twelve little kids in your charge. You decided you had to speak up and tell the truth of what happened. Thousands of people, predominantly Black but also whites and Latinos, initially rallied to your church and out in the streets, again and again, in outrage at this murder.

But soon after, a reactionary onslaught in support of the killer cops followed—with almost a thousand people, this time almost all white. Skip's family and neighbors woke up to find their cars painted with swastikas and KKK slogans, a gun with bullets coming out. Horrible racist comments are being made about you and your parents on the radio, on internet blogs, and you get calls on your cell phone threatening to kill you! Someone assaults you in the bathroom at school. You have to go into the courtroom again and again and you are surrounded by all these sheriffs, cops, clerks. And now you have to go turn yourself in to jail. When you come out on bail you have four felonies! You know that you and your family have gone far out on a limb! But like your dad says, if they can get away with just coming in a church and shooting a Black man down like that, how is it any different than slavery times, or when they lynched people?

You know they are saying you filed a false report to make you look like a liar so that no one will believe you when you say the police shot Skip when his hands were up. And to scare you, and your family and to send a discouraging message to all the people who marched and any others who might march in the future for justice. The thing that makes you feel the best is that a lot of people came to court to support you. You don't want to back down and you and your family decide to keep on fighting.

The Browns (and the Black community of Rockford) can not be in this alone! In the face of these attacks, this struggle for justice must get stronger, and become something that people around the whole country take up.

Take action now!

–Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Chicago Branch

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

National Campus Speaking Tour:

From the Burkha to the Thong: Everything Must, and Can, Change—WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!

a talk by Sunsara Taylor

If you are a woman, your body is a battleground. Spin the globe. Anywhere you look women are being held down and slammed backwards, objectified and degraded. On campuses nationwide, Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution newspaper, will make the case for why there is no biological, god-given, or man made reason why things have to remain this way—and how this can change through revolution and through a movement for revolution starting now.

LA • April 8 • Thursday • 7pm
La Kretz Hall Auditorium, UCLA. (Doors open and photo display at 6:30 pm.) Sponsored by Critical Thinking at UCLA; Academic Advancement Program (AAP), UCLA; and Revolution Books/Libros Revolución.
for information: 310-210-6012

Honolulu • April 13 • Tuesday • 7 pm
UH-Manoa, Architecture Auditorium
Sponsored by Revolution Books
contact: 808-944-3106

More dates upcoming.
To bring Sunsara to your campus, Contact:
Find Sunsara Taylor on YouTube and Facebook.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

"From the Burkha to the Thong: Everything Must, and Can, Change—WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!"
Sunsara Taylor National Campus Speaking Tour

Organizers' Kit

- from New York City organizers for Sunsara Taylor's National Campus Speaking Tour

Something new is happening on campuses across the country this spring. In a provocative speech, "From the Burkha to the Thong: Everything Must, and Can, Change—WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!" Sunsara Taylor is challenging and engaging a broad section of students to think in new ways about the world, about the situation of women, and about the necessity and possibility for fundamental change. As the announcement for the speaking tour brings out, Sunsara is recruiting a new generation for revolution and building a movement for revolution–starting now!

Learning from the experience in building for the tour in New York City, we have put together a basic organizing kit for making this happen, reaching new audiences with the most radical and liberating revolution that can liberate women and all of humanity. This is aimed towards assisting those who already have tour dates set up; and to enable those who want to bring Sunsara to their campus to envision how they could do this.

Keep in mind:

Organizing kit includes:

  1. Flyer for the speaking tour
  2. "From the Burkha to the Thong" Street Theater
    1. We did it and you can too
    2. Script
    3. One student's experience: "Black Lace Eyes"
  3. Fundraising
    1. Notes on fundraising
    2. Fundraising letter
    3. Sample invitation to salon
  4. Notes on media work
  5. National press release
  6. Correspondence from Alice Woodward on Sunsara's tour and the campaign for "The Revolution We Need, the Leadership We Have"
  7. Using Facebook
  8. "Dear NYU" – letter to campus newspaper
  9. Materials for the event
    1. Sample event program
    2. Audience survey to insert into programs

Download the entire kit.

Keep in contact with the coordinator of Sunsara's speaking tour at

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

What the Democracy Sponsored by the U.S. Means for Women in Iraq Today

Recent parliamentary elections in Iraq have been hailed by the U.S. government and media as a success in establishing democracy in Iraq. Most people in the U.S. see photos of women covered head to toe and figure that this is a longstanding tradition that has always prevailed in Iraq. Wrong! Women had more rights under the brutal Saddam Hussein regime than they do now. Here is some of what the U.S. invasion and occupation and U.S.-installed government has meant for women in Iraq:

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

An Historic Contradiction: Fundamentally Changing The World Without "Turning Out the Lights"


Recently Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, drew attention to the following contradiction and then invited some people associated with or with responsibility in regard to the Party to respond with their thinking on this contradiction. Avakian wrote the following:

In the polemic against Alain Badiou's political philosophy in the online theoretical journal Demarcations, the following concise indictment is made of Badiou's ultimate reformism, and of reformism in general:

"And the world stays fundamentally unchanged. Capitalism-imperialism continues humming in the 'background,' crushing lives and destroying spirits in its meat-grinder of exploitation. And the horrors continue unabated."

This is our standing and powerful refutation of every other trend in the world. On the other hand, the way that a lot of people look at what we're about—and not entirely without justification—is: "Here come the communists, turn out the lights, the party's over."

All this embodies a real, and profound, contradiction that we must continue to wrestle with.


We are excited in this issue to run the following responses to Avakian's invitation.1

1. Editor's note:

The following replies were originally written as personal letters and hence assumed a certain "common language" between Bob Avakian and the correspondent. As a result, there is a lot of "shorthand" used. Sometimes the meaning of these terms are explained in context, or are otherwise clear; at other times, this may not be so. Some of those terms include:

New synthesis: the basic breakthrough in communist theory developed by Bob Avakian, in the dimensions of philosophy and method; internationalism; the character of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of socialist society as a transition to communist society, including the particular concept of "solid core with a lot of elasticity"; and strategic approach to revolution. [For more on the new synthesis, see especially the Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.]

The 4 alls: this formulation was often used to drive home the all-round character of the communist revolution by the Chinese communists who sided with Mao during the last battle to prevent capitalist restoration in China. (Capitalist restoration began with a military coup that occurred shortly after Mao's death in 1976, in which Mao's closest followers—including his widow Chiang Ching—were arrested and/or killed.) Marx's formulation (from The Civil War in France) was: "This Socialism is the declaration of the permanence of the revolution, the class dictatorship of the proletariat as the necessary transit point to the abolition of class distinctions generally, to the abolition of all the relations of production on which they rest, to the abolition of all the social relations that correspond to these relations of production, to the revolutionizing of all the ideas that result from these social relations."

The two humps: this is a formulation from Bob Avakian's mid-'90s talk "Getting Over the Two Great Humps: Further Thoughts on Conquering the World." These "humps " refer to the process of 1) getting to the point where the forces of proletarian revolution are strong enough to seize power in a particular country; and 2) getting to the point internationally where the overall "balance of forces" has shifted in favor of the proletariat and the question of actually getting to communism comes more directly onto the agenda.

The "Ohio": the "Ohio" process borrows a metaphor from the Ohio State marching band and its routine where the band members spell out "Ohio" in script in a marching routine in which the first members of the band traverse through, and spell out in turn, each letter of "Ohio"—the point being that people who come around the revolutionary movement go through a process of development.

Class truth: this refers to the notion widely held in the international communist movement that "the bourgeoisie has its truth, and the proletariat has its truth," as if truth itself had a class character. In reality, truth has no class character; an idea is true to the degree that it accurately reflects the objective world. Bob Avakian is the first communist who identified and criticized this notion of "class truth," which ends up constraining and ultimately blocking the search for what is really true.

The proletariat, due to its position as a class which has nothing to fortify in the present order, has every interest in being as thorough-going as possible in getting to the truth of things; and the science of communism, and its outlook and method of materialist dialectics, is the best method for getting at the truth; and in these senses it can be said that communism is both partisan and true. But it does NOT follow that communists are always correct in their observations and conclusions, and that non-communists are never correct; relatedly, all statements must be judged on the degree to which they correspond to reality, and not who says them or what (often narrowly conceived) interest they seem to serve.

Reification: literally, turning a process into a "thing." As it applies to the proletariat, this refers to a view, also more or less explicitly unchallenged in the communist movement until Avakian's criticism, that confounded the fundamental interests of the proletariat as a class and the sentiments, views, and programs that conformed with those fundamental world-historic interests with the position, sentiments, views and programs that find a following among this or that section of the proletariat at any given time.

Reductionism: a philosophical method that reduces complex phenomena to a single determinant cause—e.g., reducing the causes of complex social behavior to a gene (or set of genes) and ignoring the social factors that come into play in shaping social behavior and constraining the forms it can/might take. This is linked to positivism, a philosophical school that limits the search for truth and the scope for statements about the dynamics of reality to immanent causes. Such views are often contrasted to the metaphor used by Bob Avakian of truth being like a multi-level, multi-layer, constantly moving map.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

What Is Communist Revolution?

It is this system that has got us in the situation we're in today, and keeps us there. And it is through revolution to get rid of this system that we ourselves can bring a much better system into being. The ultimate goal of this revolution is communism: A world where people work and struggle together for the common good...Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings...Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.
This revolution is both necessary and possible.

From: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have
A Message, And A Call,
From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Who Is Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party?

In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity. Bob Avakian came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s—taking part in the great movements of those days, and especially working and struggling closely with the most advanced revolutionary force in the U.S. at that time, the Black Panther Party. Since then, and while many others have given up, Bob Avakian has worked and struggled tirelessly to find the way to go forward, having learned crucial lessons and built lasting organization that could continue the struggle, and aim to take it higher, while uniting with the same struggle throughout the world. He has kept on developing the theory and strategy for making revolution. He played the key role in founding our Party in 1975, and since then he has continued the battle to keep the Party on the revolutionary road, to carry out work with a strong revolutionary orientation. He has deeply studied the experience of revolution—the shortcomings as well as the great achievements—and many different fields of human endeavor, through history and throughout the world—and he has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win. 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. And it is up to us to get with this find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the defend this leadership as the precious thing it is...and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better.

From: The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have
A Message, And A Call,
From The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Bringing Revolution Talk Into Some High Schools: Windows to the World and Opening up Pathways To Imagine How the World Can be Different

In the last period, we have had the opportunity to bring the Revolution talk by Bob Avakian into high school classrooms. It was an eye-opening experience for many of the high school students and teachers who were part of it. As for myself—I gained a deeper appreciation for the multi-layeredness of reality and pathways for a new kind of thinking to emerge when people see and hear Bob Avakian up close like this. I want to share with the readers of Revolution some of what went on.

I brought the Issue #183 of Revolution which had a headline of "From the Hellholes of Incarceration to a Future of Emancipation" into a literacy class. I focused in on the centerfold of this issue which had an excerpt entitled "A Better World Is Possible" from the film of the talk by Bob Avakian: Revolution:Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. (Session 2, Chapter 4) This was a small grouping of students, which made it possible to have a lot of time for discussion. The showing of the video where both auditory and visual learners could access the information is especially effective. At the same time, each had their own print copy of this section of the "Revolution" talk in front of them and another copy of it on the over-head projector. As the talk rolled on the screen and throughout the discussion– they were drawn into it and stayed focused. I mention this because if you've ever been in a high school classroom--maintaining attention span is a challenge. After watching the film, we turned to the center fold and read out loud sections of it. As we read, several points provoked deeper discussion. One student, Marlon, spoke with passion from his own experience to testify to some of the points. Marlon is a 15-year-old who has been in the foster care system since very young and has been living in the dangerous zone of drive-by shootings and stabbings in the hood from day one of his life. When we got to the section where Bob Avakian tells the story of prisons in California, Marlon puts his finger on that paragraph and says that this is "dead on it." Then, he proceeded to elaborate on this point in detail by recounting the lived experience of his uncle who was right there at Corcoran SHU when this Roman gladiator killing set up by the prison officials took place. He said that this was some scandalous shit that he would never forget.

Another student commented on the section where Bob Avakian speaks to the irony of someone saying that "I'm regulating my corner." He (the student) spoke to the insanity of this turf war shit amongst the youth and how an old man was beat to death not far from the school. But then, this is the way it is and unless you figure out how to be the top dog of that turf... you can't survive. But what kind of "survival" is that? Someone else said that we just gotta stay out of trouble. Marlon said that he sees things can change because it has happened in the past. He talked about what some relatives who had been through the Black Liberation struggle during the 60's told him about those good old days.

There was a jet-propelling moment (from the past to the future) when we got to the section of 'we have already reached that time in human history where things do not have to be this way.' This was very thought provoking to them. Things got concrete when someone pulled out their cell phone and showed off all the diverse ways that things can get communicated these days when it was just the home phone in the old days. But what is standing in the way of society advancing? But then, why are there children in Haiti who can't even buy the things that they themselves produce? We also talked about all the knowledge that has been garnered throughout human history. But then, why is there a certain section of society locked out of access to both old and new discoveries in all spheres of life? It came out that none of the students had been to visit the science museum in this area. They were challenged by Bob Avakian's assertion that all this can change and that the masses of people are capable of much better things than this. (meaning being pawns in turf war competition) Marlon looked up and said : "Who me? Change all that? Well maybe, if it's with a whole lot of other people thinking the same way."

Several days later, one of the students raised a question about how the question of crime is going to be handled in this future society. He said that he can't imagine that everyone is just going to do good all the time. Aren't there going to still be people who are not going to want to work for the common good and rip things off of other people? What do you do about that? More to delve into off of this. Marlon proposed that we have more sessions like this and call it Avatar Fridays since the last day of the week is when we can kick back a bit and have a snack and just talk about futuristic things or things that are not in the prescribed "curriculum."

On another occasion more recently,we showed the section of the Revolution talk on the topic of Capitalism (Disc 2, chapter 1) to a total of 225 students from 8 classes and 4 teachers. More than half of these classes were students. We used this section of the talk to frame and inform the content of a power point presentation that some of us made based on the article entitled "Why So Many People Died in the Earthquake... And Why the U.S. Can Do No Good in Haiti" by Li Onesto. As the week proceeded, we learned the difference it made to rely on that section of the talk to guide our approach. The more that we consciously centered things around the talk, the more the level of discussion was raised to grapple with the nature of capitalism and why the solution can only be the most radical revolution. And there was more grappling with the need to build a movement for revolution as a crucial bridge to that future. There was a host of questions around whether the US was really offering "aid" to Haiti and why is Haiti so poor. In one instance, the talk provoked some lively controversy as a student stridently argued for the great wonders of capitalism: it provides jobs for people, gets production done so that we have the things that we need to live on and the wonderful things that we have now is because of capitalism. Other students jumped in with comments about how they could see the destructiveness of capitalism, but couldn't things just be equalized so that everyone has a share of the wealth? Another student said that capitalism is good for a certain group of people, but what about the muffled cries of little children that the video talks about? Offshoots of this discussion went on in the next few days. The guy who was defending capitalism said that he still wasn't convinced that capitalism is so bad, but one thing that he is more sure of now is that the US does do this nasty shit to people all over the world. Others said that they see more clearly how capitalism developed and what is at the heart of it. They had assumed from textbook knowledge that capitalism is something that always existed and there's no other way to live than according to its operating procedures. They weren't so sure at all about revolutionary transformation and how that's going to take place. There's a lot more to explore as we get into the talk. In more than one session, we heard moans of disappointment (Oh, gee we want to see more) when we turned off the talk to start the discussion. We invited students to come back to the classrooms at lunch time to see the rest of the talk. At the end of the sessions—posters, stickers and palm cards promoting the talk were handed out. Some students took stacks of them. The stickers were especially popular. Several students started decorating themselves on jackets and hats. We heard later from a student that stickers appeared all over a bus stop. Walking through the computer lab several days later, I saw students hovering around the computer as one of them pointed out the website and told them to check out something real. And for the teachers who are pummeled with the ranting of "raise those test scores" and "teach to the test", there was a moment where minds could stretch and wander a bit in the search for the truth and unlock critical thinking. One thing that I want to say here is that it made SO much difference for these students to SEE and HEAR Bob Avakian up close like this. On one level, the ideas that he conveyed tickled their brains in positive ways like no one else has, but also there is the way that he spoke with deep emotion and conviction which touched their souls.

There is certainly a lot more to understand and stir the pot with as we seek to push forward with a energy, creativity and imagination to contribute towards achieving the three objectives of the campaign which can make all the difference in the world.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #196, March 28, 2010

Current Issue  |   Previous Issues  |   Bob Avakian  |   RCP  |   Topics  |   Contact Us

Readers Respond...

  Previous Posts:
    Readers Respond to Revolution's
    Coverage on the Environment
    (January 17, 2010)

    December 20, 2009
    November 15, 2009
    September 6, 2009
    June 28, 2009
    May 24, 2009
    February 1, 2009
    December 6, 2008

Name: Someone who believes in justice

Comment: hi revolution newspaper, i have not written in for awhile now, but i thought i'd let you know about something that happened at my high school to protest the cuts of education. About 400 students walked out of class and into the high school quad, got into a group of 5 in a row, and walked to the town plaza for a rally. The students were holding signs saying "No cut in education, save our schools, and education is our future". The students were seriously angry about the school might be getting cut of teachers, programs, sports, and even the possibility of shutting the school down because of all the budget cuts. What this shows is that the state of California doesn't care about our education, but making the system rich for certain people and prisons. My personal thoughts about this is, if school's close, then where will our children go in the future? It seems that the only choice is the military or prison. We are caught in a danger zone where we are being casted away from learning and just being able to be human beings.

This rally and march opened up a lot of people's eyes and raised people's awareness to what will happen to education.

I'm in a journalism class collecting photos and video's to put on YouTube and send to you also. We are doing this to tell people what is going on and more people need to know so we can prevent this from happening. Others in my class, will be sending more information on what happened.

* * *

Comment: I, too, am fed up with the extensive collateral damage that free, unregulated markets have wrought upon the world, and, unfortunately, Americans are so provincial in their thinking, that they extrapolate the condition of other societies from the comfort of their own situations, to wit..."I'm doing fine, therefore, everyone else must be doing fine, also."

It's that kind of thinking that perpetuates the problem..."feeds the monster" so to speak.

What scares me is the Marxist axiom "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." For many people this sounds like a classic recipe for slavery, i.e. "Maximum effort, minimum reward." And people aren't going to leave their comfort zones to fight for what they think will end up being just another form of slavery.

How will the new Revolution be different from the others? Will the average citizen have a better lifestyle and higher standard of living than the relatively impoverished conditions they lived in under Soviet Communism? Not to mention the restrictions on speech and ideas that were brutally enforced.

* * *


Comment: yes, sports, whether olympic or professional, is all about big money and ad endorsements for toyota, gm, coke and gillette. it's about spending money, dog eat dog and machismo. sports is rarely about fun, comraderie and getting together to pursue something humanity might actually enjoy for its own sake. music has largely become the same thing, with pop singers cutting each other's throats to cut albums, be cool, maintain an image and make big bucks while manic fans drool all over them. how great it would be if a communist world could return sports into a pleasureful and joyous activity that all who would want to could participate rather than just another extension of the winner/loser paradigm so representive of modern, post-industrial capitalism!

* * *

Comment: Good afternoon...

what news!! what's going to happen with the children who go into "Bagram" ...what is the "Muslim" religion doing with these innocents...

And the United States oppressing, torturing, finishing off and minimizing the dignity of these people... when they see these atrocities why do governments get down on their knees to them?? Why the lack of authority and independence to think of the good of the people, of the citizenry...That's why humanity is more and more degrading, and it cannot even be compared to animals, because if we did, mankind would be more animal-like than the animals themselves...

What is the USA's goal in torturing, massacring and discriminating against people this way???

Bagram Prison, Afghanistan:

A Brutal U.S. Torture Center

* * *

Snapshot of IWD activities:

Students in a high school social studies class in a small town in the U.S. studied the centerfold of Revolution newspaper on the oppression of girls worldwide. Then some of them made posters for International Women's Day, making up their own slogans such as: "Gender is Not a Role" and "Women's Rights Forever". These signs were carried by two teachers in a lively march in a nearby large city a few days later, captured in photos so the students could see the march and their contribution to it.

This week the class will view the movie "Persepolis", about a young girl growing up in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The class will discuss the couragous role women there are playing today in challenging oppression in their country.

* * *

A letter from a Revolution reader:

A teacher, Robert, in an inner city high school here called me and told me about what happened in his class this week. He was excited by the result. He is doing an entire semester on "Comparative Politics and the History of China", with an emphasis on China before the revolution of 1949 and the world shaking changes brought on by that revolution. There have been lectures, student papers, discussions about the earthshaking changes in the social relations and the productive relations in China, and lots of time spent on the transformations in China over the oppression and liberation of women, ie. bound feet, forced child marriages, and then the huge steps taken after the revolution to liberate women. Anyway, always looking for ways to engage the students and break out of the usual, my friend decided to change up a bit and try some role playing, a kind of action in class.

The assignment was that the students role-play backward and progressive relationships between people; however it turned into gender roles between boys and girls. The first class tried but they made both relationships backward ones. They had a guy who wanted the girl to wear high heels and she refused. They got into an argument, then he shoved her and she cried. She goes to sit down and is crying and a guy comes up to her, sees she is crying, sits down with her and they walk away together. My friend said that there was no progressive position in that. He told this class that the guy coming along, and then she walking off with him showed no real coming to terms with the oppression she was crying over nor did they set new terms. Maybe the girl felt better for the moment but there was not much more. Robert told that class to tell the next class what happened and so they can learn from it.

In the next class for the backward relations, the students showed a scene where some guy goes in a store and harasses the girl at the register, makes sexist comments towards the cashier and asks for her number. He made degrading metaphors about the food and her body, that he wanted to consume her like the food. Someone else comes in with high heels and he makes advances to her, but she just wants to get her food and leave. He was still looking her over. She gets her food and leaves and he starts making comments about her hair and called her "bitch", "ho" because she was not responding. The progressive alternative was that 4 people met up at a coffee house, 1 guy and 3 girls.They sit down, conversing with each other, 2 were talking in Spanish about movies and the Latino guy asks her if they could see a movie. They keep talking and they all get up and go their separate ways. No sexist comments, and the girls felt comfortable and human. So Robert told them they portrayed progressive relations and they should tell the next class about it.

In the next class the reactionary relations were portraying an emperor, who was sitting on his throne and has eunuchs around him and there were people coming to him offering him, gifts to get his favor, bowing down to him. Then the students came up to date and portrayed a scene where girls were making pictures for a magazine, modeling different clothing, taking pictures. They then came out with the magazine, as though their pictures were in it. The girls took it out to sell it. They sell it to a man, who then makes comments to his girlfriend, "You need to lose weight, you should look like the women in the magazine. Now go home and cook me a meal." Then came the advanced, progressive part where the students showed a homeless women on the street and a group of people talk to her and say, "Times have changed!" and they take her home. Back at home they have a big group of people in an urban village or neighborhood and they take her there. The whole class jumps into the skit and in that "urban village" everyone is sharing, both men and women taking care of the children, playing with them. The children are talking about what they learned in school and learned about the past capitalist society and what they have now is so much better. The children tell the older people that the old system of capitalism is in the trash heap of history. The children are talking to adults about this while they are preparing the meal, both men and women doing the cooking. They set up 3 tables, sit down for the meal and everyone starts clapping for the way things have turned out after the revolution in the new and liberating society .

My friend Robert who is a regular reader of Revolution and distributes issues to students, including the "A Declaration For Women's Liberation..." issue, summed it up this way: "This class spends a lot of time discussing social relations. All we talked to was the oppression of women, the source and the solution. We have spent 6 weeks on revolution in China, the relations of people and the need for revolution for the entire year." I asked him why he did the role playing. He said," I wanted to get the students to have a different way of understanding the comparison and contrast of social relations in capitalist society and then in a revolutionary society, especially in socialist China. I wanted them to see the connection between theory and practice. Like in the movie " Breaking with old ideas", I wanted them to break out of sitting in class and writing about it on a test. Doing the role playing seemed to make the students feel more comfortable about breaking out of confining themselves to sitting in class and some of them not saying much. It worked out because after they did this activity they started talking about things they never talked about, kind of unleashed their thinking about the relations between men and women in this society and their own experiences. Several girls talked about their different instances on the street where older men were trying to get with them, harass them, making comments, telling them 'you are out selling butt' if they would not talk to them, and constantly having men stop their cars to try to get them to go with them. So the girls said they fear going outside even during the day. I asked 2 boys how they got their respect for women. They said they got it from their parents. Then a girl said she has an older brother who calls girls "bitches" on the phone and she doesn't understand it and her mother tries to change him but nothing seems to work, so she said that a family is not always successful in changing these attitudes towards women. These relations are embedded in the economic and political structure of capitalism which I have taught throughout the year. This day was unleashing. It unlocked lots of thinking about the issue of women's oppression and liberation. I have done lots of film showings, outside speakers, formal class discussion. But this was different and it made a difference." And several young women in these classes are organizing themselves to come out to the International Women's Day march on Saturday March 13th.

Send us your comments.