Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Involuntary Manslaughter: NOT Acceptable!

The whole damn system is GUILTY!

We demand justice for Oscar Grant!

The police shooting of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old Black man, was a cold-blooded murder. It was a towering crime. When the jury delivered a verdict of involuntary manslaughter in the trial of former BART cop Johannes Mehserle, after only about six hours of deliberation, it amounted to a message to cops everywhere that they can kill and get away with it. And this verdict told the people that when someone is gunned down by police, their life is worth nothing to the system, that a slap on the wrist is the most that the system will deliver to a murdering cop.

Cephus Johnson, Oscar's uncle told the press, "We as a family have been slapped in the face by this system that has denied us the right to true justice. We truly do not blame the jury, but we blame this system."

In reaching the verdict it did, the jury was required to first rule out second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter, both of which legally mean that the killing of Oscar was an unjustified, intentional killing of a human being. Involuntary manslaughter is a much lesser offense, and carries a much lighter sentence. It means that there was no bad intent involved, just "negligence."

According to some attorneys, when the judge sentences Mehserle, probably in September, there is a wide range of possible sentences—from many years, to the possibility Mehserle could simply be put on probation and serve almost no time in jail at all. The sentencing is shaping up as one further juncture in the battle for justice for Oscar.

As word of the outrageous verdict spread, over 1,500 people gathered in determined protest in the heart of downtown Oakland, in the face of police state-like repression.  The protest lasted well into the night, with police arresting over 80 people.

It Was Police Murder


Ron Dellums, the mayor of Oakland, along with many other "authorities," went to great lengths to try to prevent, and prepare to viciously suppress, any expressions of outrage (in connection with the now added insult of the verdict) revealing yet again and very clearly what their concerns and priorities are, and are not, and what and whom they really represent and act on behalf of.

Why is it that they are NOT after all really concerned about and preoccupied with the outrageous stealing of a precious life through a wanton act of...yes, MURDER, and with the further outrage and insult of a totally unjust verdict in regard to this, which denies this murder, slaps the family and many others—all people who are tired of oppression and care about justice—in the face and in effect says the life taken is not precious but worthless.

Why are Mr. Dellums and all such types—and those higher up for whom Mr. Dellums and the like are in fact flunkies—much more concerned about, and really preoccupied with, preventing people from righteously expressing their outrage, and with viciously repressing them if they dare to do so?!

What does this tell us about them and the system they act on behalf of and enforce?

And how much more do we need to see of this system before we decide we have had enough of it, and work with everything we have to build a movement for revolution to get rid of it, and put something in its place that would value the lives of the millions of people like the one wantonly murdered and would actually bring justice?

"The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."

from the Message and Call from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA,
"The Revolution We Need...
The Leadership We Have

Millions saw the videos on TV and on the Internet. Millions saw that from the beginning, the cops were the ones who attacked Oscar and his friends. Millions saw that detained, lying face down, putting his hands behind his back while one cop kneeled on his neck, Oscar was shot in the back. Cold-blooded murder, a totally unjustified and brutal act.

Let's tell the truth—this system lets cops get away with brutality and murder every single day. While at least 100 people are killed by cops in California alone each year, no cop in at least the last 15 years before Mehserle has even been brought to trial on murder charges stemming from an on-duty killing. Police harass, brutalize and murder youth in the streets of the inner cities—over and over again—and then they spit out their maddening insults, insisting that this is "justified," as if these youth are not human beings, have no right to live, deserve no respect and no future.

Cops are the enforcers of a system that is hell for the people, and the system protects its cops—including when they murder people completely without legal justification.

Many people think that if the laws of this system were applied fairly, there could be justice. But everything about the Oscar Grant case points to how this is not true. The truth is that the special treatment of cops is embedded in the law itself; it is not in opposition to the law. One of Mehserle's defense attorneys let a little of the truth out in court: "We as a society have decided police officers are different," ... "We give them guns and we tell them to use those guns." If you read the judge's instructions to the jury it is very clear that embedded in the law (at least as applied in this case by this judge) is a whole level of protection for cops. Just one example: the standard for criminal negligence. The jury needed to find that Mehserle violated this standard to convict him of involuntary manslaughter. The standard is that 1) he acts in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury and 2) a reasonable peace officer would have known that acting in that way would create such a risk. But "a reasonable peace officer" is part of a whole system which is inherently unjust and which is enforced by these "reasonable peace officers"—supporting and defending all of the oppression of this system is required of the cops—and backed by law.

This is the fundamental reason why it was not the law but the outcry and protest of the people, in many different ways, including the rebellion in downtown Oakland on January 7, 2009, that forced the system to arrest and bring murder charges against Mehserle. It was not that the system worked in this case—it was that people protested and fought for justice. This system of justice—and these laws—reflect and enforce the basic economic and social relations in this society. The law fundamentally enforces a system of inequality, domination, and exploitation, including the oppression and subjugation of Black people, and "legitimizes" the violence the police use to keep people down and maintain the whole set-up. This is why people are preyed on and killed by police every day in this country.

But that is only part of the picture. It is not just that the law by its very nature is deeply embedded with protection for police and the role they play. Even beyond that, police routinely violate the rules and laws that they are supposed to follow—and are backed up by every avenue of the system. How many people have been shot in the back by police, or nearly beaten to death like Rodney King, and it is upheld by the legal system, and the victims of police brutality and murder vilified and blamed by the courts and the media, which automatically jumps to the defense of the police?

All of this—the way police brutality is protected by law, the way it is defended by the system whether legal or not, the way the system mobilizes the media and all kinds of formal and informal social and political networks—points to the fact that what we are up against is a whole system that enforces and justifies police murder in all kinds of ways, that suppresses and demonizes not only the victims of police brutality but everyone who steps forward to fight for justice.

It isn't just one bad cop, one bad judge, one bad jury. We are up against a whole system of injustice. 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.

There Is No Such Thing as "Outsiders" in the Struggle Against Oppression

As the trial neared its conclusion, there was a multi-pronged, and full-scale assault on the people. The police launched "Operation Verdict," mobilizing over 1,000 police from all over northern California to come to Oakland. They announced that over 20,000 National Guard were on reserve. The police staged a highly publicized practice "riot" in the Port of Oakland. They set up a hotline for "tips, rumors and information" relating to protests or "potential problems" after the verdict. Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums met with non-profit groups, urging them to inoculate their base against "outside agitators." Ministers and non-profit organizations called for "peace" and denounced any who refused to toe the line. Police went around to merchants in key neighborhoods in Oakland, putting pressure on them to close down at the time of the verdict, threatening that police would not be able to protect them from "rioters." The media highlighted day after day the fact that merchants in downtown Oakland and other neighborhoods were putting boards over their windows.

As the verdict drew near and it became clear to many that most likely the system was going to let Mehserle off with at most a slap on the wrist, the system pulled out all stops to foster an atmosphere and political polarization broadly in society that the problem was the struggle of the people against the police murder of Oscar Grant, and that the solution was police, snitch networks, and more police.

When the verdict was about to come down, city officials, the media and police blanketed the airwaves and went door-to-door downtown telling people working there to leave the area as soon as the verdict was announced. In the late afternoon, as word of the verdict spread, office buildings started to close, and a massive traffic jam resulted as an exodus of vehicles clogged all arteries radiating out from the city's center. And an army of riot cops moved in, bristling with crowd control weaponry, a sea of blue uniforms, shiny plastic, and black metal. More surrounded the area in cars, vans, motorcycles, ATVs, armored trucks, and even trailers with horses inside.

In the face of this repression, over 1,500 people came with courage and defiance to protest a verdict they saw as clearly wrong. At a speakout at 14th and Broadway, they expressed their outrage. Many made the connection that the "involuntary manslaughter" verdict was a statement that the life of a Black man was worthless in the eyes of the system. One youth denounced the system and said, "cops murdered somebody today and we don't even know his name!" He challenged the crowd, "What are you going to do to fight for justice tomorrow?" Another Black youth held up a picture of Oscar Grant and said, "He looks like me!"

Speaker after speaker from the crowd talked about the epidemic of police brutality. Homemade signs held by protesters showed the faces of many victims of police murder.

Among those in the crowd, and from the speaker's platform, people were wrestling with how to understand and act on the fact that for once a cop who killed a young Black man was convicted of anything. Oakland attorney John Burris spoke to this on Democracy Now: "I and my long history being involved in police matters since 1979 and well over 30 homicides involving the police, have never had a case where an officer was convicted of any crime against an African-American male. So in that sense, it is a small victory. But it does not in and of itself fairly and accurately represent that the system works. But it cannot work in a situation where a person is killed with his hands behind his back, with an officer over him, claiming that he has seen something and that becomes an involuntary manslaughter." (7/9/10).

The crowd downtown spread out over several blocks—and people clearly wanted to act, to speak out, to march, but they were hemmed in on all sides by large numbers of police, sometimes five rows deep. As night fell police announced the gathering an "unlawful assembly," reading an official warning that people would be arrested and subject to possible great injury if they remained.

But people did not leave, and courageously stood their ground, refusing to only have a speak-out rally and go home, accepting this injustice. Police reacted viciously. A retired school principal was hit on the head with a baton and taken to jail. A prominent civil rights attorney was arrested. Tall Black youth were targeted and thrown to the ground and beaten. Many times the police would just charge into the crowd and grab someone. According to police, 83 people were arrested. Many of them were beaten, and several required hospitalization. And yet, people still refused to accept the verdict, and the protest lasted into the night.

In the aftermath, most mainstream media accounts of the protest fixated on minor property damage, and ignored or justified the massive police brutality. And Oakland's Mayor Ron Dellums denounced the protesters as anarchists and "outsiders," charges that were quickly echoed across the airwaves, including with glee by Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck at Fox "News."

Here it must be pointed out that with his "outside agitator" attack, Mayor Dellums was plagiarizing Bull Connor, Lester Maddox, George Wallace, and the whole collection of segregationist, KKK politicians in the South, when they denounced young people from the North—whites and Blacks—who risked and sometimes gave their lives as Freedom Riders integrating bus stations and lunch counters in the South, as "outside agitators."

There are no "outsiders" in the struggle against oppression. Then or now. It is right for everyone who hates this outrage to join in the struggle—no matter where they come from, their nationality, or background. It is right to demand and fight for justice—and against oppression.

Those who are attacking the courageous people who came out to protest this unjust verdict, who slander, beat and arrest them, and who direct and justify the whole operation—they are on the side of injustice.

It's as simple and basic as that.

This Verdict is Unacceptable

The system delivered its verdict, a slap on the wrist to Johannes Mehserle. It mobilized its armies of cops, its liars in the media, its networks of politicians, ministers, non-profits and snitches to stifle and suppress the people. It is heartening that in the face of all that people took to the streets with courage and determination, and gave voice to the bitter anger of many, many more, in Oakland and beyond.

It is critical that the system not be allowed to carry out crimes like this and get away with them. And at the same time, people need to develop their capacity to wage determined struggle, and their organization—and build this resistance as part of building a movement for revolution.

And this struggle is not over.

The system cannot be allowed to just crush people, murder them, and get away with it. And especially not in this case, with so many watching and so much at stake. In the face of this verdict, people must find ways to continue and intensify the political struggle for justice for Oscar Grant. And against the whole damn system!

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

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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The Whole Damn System Is Guilty!

When a cop can murder a young, unarmed Black man, lying face-down in handcuffs, it's an outrage. This is what happened to Oscar Grant, as clearly shown by numerous videos. Yet his murderer has barely been given a slap on the wrist.

This same sort of outrage goes on year after year, city after city, throughout society. Sean Bell, unarmed, 23 years old and Black—New York police shot 50 bullets at him in 2006, murdering him on his wedding day. Amadou Diallo, a young African immigrant, murdered on his front steps by police who fired 41 shots at him. Patrick Dorismond, Haitian-American... Mark Garcia... Anthony Baez, Puerto Rican...Tyisha Miller, shot 12 times by the Riverside, California, police as she sat in her car, unconscious... the list goes on. All murdered by police, all committing no crime, and in all cases but one the police going totally free. The Stolen Lives Project has documented several thousand such cases—and this documentation itself is far from complete.

This is murder carried out "under color of authority." This murder is obscene. This murder is illegitimate. This murder is unconscionable and utterly immoral. AND IT MUST NOT BE TOLERATED!!

And when this kind of murder goes along with the widespread imprisonment of Black and other minority youth, with the police routinely forcing these youth to "kiss the pavement" and often beating them for the slightest show of defiance or merely to "make an example"...

when this kind of murder goes along with schools that don't teach and inescapable discrimination in jobs and whole areas being left to rot, while those who have been consigned to this fate are constantly demonized by the media...

when all this comes on top of 400 years of different forms of oppression, all preserving the essential core of white supremacy, despite oceans of blood shed by people trying to get free of this...

when all this flows out of and reinforces the basic economic workings of that same rotten society, generating untold wealth and power at the top of society and indescribable misery at the bottom... and when it finds endless echoes and constant reinforcements in the culture and ideas and institutions of that society... then:

It's A System.

The Message and Call of our Party puts it this way:

"It is a system of capitalism-imperialism...a system in which U.S. imperialism is the most monstrous, most oppressive superpower...a system driven by a relentless chase after profit, which brings horror upon horror, a nightmare seemingly without end, for the vast majority of humanity: poverty and squalor...torture and rape...the wholesale domination and degradation of women everywhere...wars, invasions and occupations...assassinations and massacres...planes, missiles, tanks and troops of the USA, bombarding people in far away lands while they sleep in their homes or go about their daily lives, blasting their little children to pieces, cutting down men and women in the prime of life, or in old age, kicking down their doors and dragging them away in the middle of the night...while here in the USA itself the police harass, brutalize and murder youth in the streets of the inner cities—over and over again—and then they spit out their maddening insults, insisting that this is 'justified,' as if these youth are not human beings, have no right to live, deserve no respect and no future."

And as we ask elsewhere in this paper, "how much more do we need to see of this system, before we decide we have had enough of it, and work with everything we have to build a movement for revolution to get rid of it...and put something in its place that would value the lives of the millions of people like the one wantonly murdered and would actually bring justice?"

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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From Revolution Books, Berkeley

The Whole Damn System is Guilty!

The killing of Oscar Grant, an unarmed 22-year-old Black man, was a cold-blooded murder. It was a towering crime. This verdict is a slap on the wrist. It is another crime of the system.

Under the law, 2nd degree murder is the unjustified, intentional killing of a human being. Involuntary manslaughter is a much lesser offense, and carries a much lighter sentence. We saw the videos. From the beginning, the cops were the ones driving the action. Detained, lying face down, putting his hands behind his back while one cop kneeled on his neck, Oscar was shot in the back. Cold-blooded murder, a totally unjustified and brutal act.

Think about it: If this case did not involve police, the situation would be completely different.

Imagine if seven ordinary people had swarmed the BART platform that night, rousted people off the train—cursing them with racist epithets—kicking, and shoving people to the ground, and then killing a man who was lying face down—shooting him in the back. Imagine if dozens of people had seen it. If they videotaped it. What had happened wouldn't even be a question. It would be obvious. Murder.

This involuntary manslaughter verdict tells cops everywhere they can kill and get away with it. And this verdict tells the people that when we or people we love are gunned down, a slap on the wrist to a cop is the best that we can get.

Let's tell the truth—this system lets cops get away with brutality and murder every single day. The only reason that Mehserle even had to face murder charges at all—and everyone should know this almost never happens—is because the people rose up and fought for justice. And now the defenders of this system are saying that the battle for justice hurt the people. Bullshit. It's the system the cops enforce with their brutality that hurts the people.

But it doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to live in a society where our youth are gunned down by the police who get away with it over and over, where immigrants are criminalized by just the way they look, where oil gushes into the gulf and marshes week after week killing rich sea life and a whole way of life for many thousands. We could build a society where police brutality and other injustices are done away with and people work together to build a new society. Building that kind of society would take a revolution. We need such a revolution and right now we are building a movement for revolution.

The system is rotten. We don't have to live this way. We need a Real Revolution!


2425 Channing Way, Berkeley, CA 94704

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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From A World To Win News Service

Israel and the U.S.: who is whose tool?

28 June 2010. A World to Win News Service. The American international policy professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, who are critical of U.S. support for Israeli settlement expansion and its attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, argue that "the unmatched power of the Israel lobby" distorts U.S. foreign policy. Many people outraged by these crimes have been influenced by their still widely circulated article "The Israel Lobby" that first appeared in The London Review of Books in 2006 (available at and was later expanded into a book published in 21 countries.

Their work contains much useful information about the links between the U.S. and Israel. Yet their basic theory turns reality upside down. The truth is that Israel exists largely thanks to the U.S., because it plays an essential role in American domination in the Middle East and its current quest to "stabilize" an unjust and unacceptable situation for the people. In arguing that "American interests" would be better served by less uncritical support for Israel, Mearsheimer and Walt do not really confront the nature of the U.S.—a monopoly capitalist country whose wealth and power are inextricably linked to a global empire of exploitation and oppression. Nor do they thoroughly deal with the nature of Israel as a colonial settler state whose existence itself is no more defensible than the apartheid regime in South Africa.

This greatly weakens their critique of the U.S.-Israel nexus and reduces it to wishful thinking. That's especially dangerous at a time when the U.S. is trying to have it both ways, to do everything possible to support Israel's continued existence and aggression and at the same time try to appear as a friend to the Palestinians.

Despite their academic prominence, these two scholars have been the object of a Zionist hate campaign and an intellectual boycott, especially in the U.S. It is shameful that so many writers and public figures who explode in the face of any criticism of Israel have tried to silence Mearsheimer and Walt by pinning the label of anti-Semitism on them. But while these two consider themselves critical friends of Israel, it is true, as their attackers realize and they do not, that once you start to analyze Israel from the point of justice for all, the whole Zionist enterprise can be called into question.

In fact, their argument is essentially similar to the all-too-common idea among the masses of people in the world and the U.S. itself, that U.S. crimes in the greater Middle East and beyond can be explained by "Jewish pressure groups" rather than a system that basically can't work any other way.

The following reply to Mearsheimer and Walt was written in April by Stephen Maher, who describes himself as a graduate student at the American University School of International Service who has lived in the West Bank. We are reprinting it from his blog and While we do not share some important elements of his analysis, we welcome both his basic conclusion and his method of taking all the facts into account and testing ideas against reality.

Many of Israel's critics blame an "Israel lobby" for the near-total complicity of the U.S. in Israeli annexation, colonization and cleansing programs in the occupied West Bank. This complicity continues to the present, despite the "row" that erupted after the Israeli government humiliated U.S. Vice President Joe Biden by announcing the construction of 1,600 settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem while he was visiting the country. Indeed, despite the apparent outrage expressed by top White House officials, the administration has made clear that its criticism of Israel will remain purely symbolic. However, as we shall see, the lobby thesis does little to explain U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Years after Noam Chomsky, Stephen Zunes, Walter Russell Mead and many others published their critiques of the Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer "Israel lobby" thesis, many of the sharpest critics of Israel continue to attribute U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East to the influence of the lobby. Given the prevalence of the Israel lobby argument, and the latest diplomatic confrontation between the U.S. and Israel, it is important to revisit the flaws in the thesis, and properly attribute U.S. behavior to the large concentrations of domestic political and economic power that truly drive U.S. policy.

U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is similar to that which is carried out elsewhere in the world, in regions free of "the lobby's" proclaimed corrupting effects. The inflated level of support that the U.S. lends Israel is a rational response to the particular strategic importance of the Middle East, the chief energy-producing region of the world. By building Israel into what Noam Chomsky refers to as an "offshore U.S. military base," it is able to protect its dominance over much of the world's remaining energy resources, a major lever of global power. As we shall see, those blaming the lobby for U.S. policy once again misunderstand the U.S.'s strategic interests in the Middle East, and Israel's central role in advancing them.

Geopolitics and the U.S.-Israeli relationship

A central claim of the "Israel lobby" thesis is that the "lobby," however defined, overwhelmingly shapes U.S. policy towards the Middle East. Thus, if the argument were true, its proponents would have to demonstrate that there is something qualitatively unique about U.S. policy towards the Middle East compared with that in other regions of the world. Yet upon careful analysis, we find little difference between the purported distortions caused by the lobby and what is frequently referred to as the "national interest", governed by the same concentrations of domestic power that drive U.S. foreign policy elsewhere.

There are states all around the world that perform similar services to Washington as Israel, projecting U.S. power in their respective regions, whose crimes in advancing Washington's goals are overtly supported and shielded from international condemnation. Take for instance the 30 years of U.S. support for the horrors of the Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor. In addition to the use of rape and starvation as weapons, and a gruesome torture regime, Indonesian president Suharto slaughtered 150,000 persons out of a population of 650,000. These atrocities were fully supported by the U.S., including supplying the napalm and chemical weapons indiscriminately used by the Indonesian army, which was fully armed and trained by the U.S. As Bill Clinton said, Suharto was "our kind of guy."

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, U.S. ambassador to the UN at the time of the Indonesia invasion, later wrote that "the Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook" to end the butchering of the East Timorese, a goal he carried out with "no inconsiderable success." Yet this support was not due to the influence of an "Indonesia lobby." Rather, planners had identified Indonesia as one of the three most strategically important regions in the world in 1958, as a result of its oil wealth and important role as a link between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

In some regions, as in Latin America where U.S. clients like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and terrorist armies like the Nicaraguan Contras, spent years murdering defenseless peasants demanding basic human rights, the threat is mostly one of "successful defiance"; that is, a country defying U.S. orders and getting away with it. Should the U.S. tolerate one such case, the logic goes, it will embolden resistance to its dictates elsewhere. The danger underlying such defiance—referred to as "the threat of a good example" by Oxfam—is that a country will implement a successful model for independent development, refusing U.S. dictates and seeking to direct much-needed resources to serve the needs of the domestic population instead of wealthy foreign investors.

Such thinking is deeply institutionalized and exhibited by U.S. policy worldwide, going back to the very beginnings of the modern imperial era after World War II. It was clear from early in the war that the U.S. would emerge as the dominant world power in its aftermath, and so the State Department and Council on Foreign Relations began planning to create a post-war international order in which the U.S. would "hold unquestioned power." One way it planned to do so was gaining control of global energy resources, primarily those of Saudi Arabia, which were referred to at the time as "the greatest material prize in history" by the U.S. State Department.

As Franklin Roosevelt's "oil czar" Harold Ickes advised, control of oil was the "key to postwar political arrangements" since a large supply of cheap energy is essential to fuel the world's industrial capitalist economies. This meant that with control of Middle Eastern oil, particularly the vast Saudi reserves, the U.S. could keep its hand on the spigot that would fuel the economies of Europe, Japan and much of the rest of the world. As U.S. planner George Kennan put it, this would give the United States "veto power" over the actions of others. Zbigniew Brzezinski has also more recently discussed the "critical leverage" the U.S. enjoys as a result of its stranglehold on energy supplies.

Thus in the Middle East it is not simply "successful defiance" that the U.S. fears, nor merely independent development. These worries are present as well, but there is an added dimension: should opposition threaten U.S. control of oil resources, a major source of U.S. global power is placed at risk. Under the Nixon administration, with the U.S. military tied down in Vietnam and direct intervention in the Middle East to defend vital strategic interests unlikely, military aid to pre-revolution Iran (acting as an American regional enforcer) skyrocketed. Amnesty International's conclusion in 1976 that "no country has a worse human rights record than Iran" was ignored, and U.S. support increased, not because of an "Iran lobby" in the U.S., but rather because such support was advancing U.S. interests.

Strategic concerns also led the U.S. to support other oppressive, reactionary regimes, including Saddam Hussein's worst atrocities. During the Anfal genocide against the Kurds, Iraqi forces used chemical weapons provided by the U.S. against Kurdish civilians, killed perhaps 100,000 persons, and destroyed roughly 80 percent of the villages in Iraqi Kurdistan, while the U.S. moved to block international condemnation of these atrocities. Again, supporting crimes that serve the "national interest" set by large corporations and ruling elites, and shielding them from international criticism, is the rule, not the exception.

It is no coincidence that the U.S.-Israel relationship crystallized after Israel destroyed the independent nationalist regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser in a pre-emptive attack in 1967, permanently ending the role of Egypt as a center of opposition to U.S. imperialism. Since before World War II, Saudi Arabia had happily served as an "Arab facade," veiling the hand of the true ruling power on the Arabian peninsula, to borrow British colonial terminology. With Nasser's Arab nationalist rhetoric "turning the whole region against the House of Saud," the threat he posed to U.S. power was serious. In response, the State Department concluded that the "logical corollary" to U.S. opposition to Arab nationalism was "support for Israel" as the only reliable pro-U.S. force in the region. Israel's destruction and humiliation of Nasser's regime was thus a major boon for the U.S., and proved to Washington the value of a strong alliance with a powerful Israel.

This unique regional importance is one reason for the tremendous level of aid Israel receives, including more advanced weaponry than that provided to other U.S. clients. Providing Israel with the ability to use overwhelming force against any adversary to the established order has been a pivotal aspect of U.S. regional strategy. Importantly, Israel is also a reliable ally—there is little chance that the Israeli government will be overthrown and the weapons end up in the hands of anti-Western Islamic fundamentalists or independent nationalists as happened in Iran in 1979.

Today, with the increased independence of Europe, and the hungry economies of India and China growing at breakneck speed along with their demand for dwindling energy resources, control over what is left is more crucial than ever. In the September 2009 issue of the Asia-Africa Review, China's former Special Envoy to the Middle East Sun Bigan wrote that "the U.S. has always sought to control the faucet of global oil supplies," and suggested that since Washington would doubtless work to ensure that Iraqi oil remained under its control, China should look elsewhere in the region for an independent energy source. "Iran has bountiful energy resources," Bigan wrote, "and its oil gas reserves are the second biggest in the world, and all are basically under its own control" (emphasis added).

It is partially as a result of this independence that Israel's strategic importance to the U.S. has increased significantly in recent times, particularly since the Shah's cruel, U.S.-supported dictatorship in Iran was overthrown in 1979. With the Shah gone, Israel alone had to terrorize the region into complying with U.S. orders, and ensure that Saudi Arabia's vast oil resources remain under U.S. control. The increased importance of Israel to U.S. policy was illustrated clearly as its regional strategy shifted to "dual containment" during the Clinton years, with Israel countering both Iraq and Iran.

With Iran developing technology that could eventually allow it to produce what are referred to in the February 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review as "anti-access weapons" or weapons of mass destruction that prevent the U.S. from being able to freely use force in any region of the world, this is a crucial moment in Washington's struggle to seize control of Iran. This confrontation, stemming from the desire of the U.S. to control its oil and destroy a base of independent nationalism, makes U.S. support for Israel strategically crucial.

The "Israel lobby" and U.S. pressure

If we adopt "the lobby" hypothesis, we would predict that the U.S. would bend to Israel's will when the interests of the two states diverge, acting against its "national interest." Yet if U.S. policies in the Middle East were damaging its "national interest," as proponents of the lobby argument claim, that must mean that such policies have been a failure. This leads one to ask: a failure for whom? Not for U.S. elites, who have secured control of the major global energy resources while successfully crushing opposition movements, nor for the defense establishment, and most certainly not for the energy corporations. In fact, not only is U.S. policy towards the Middle East similar to that towards other regions of the world, but it has been a profitable, strategic success.

Indeed, the U.S.'s policy towards Israel and the Palestinians is not to achieve an end to the occupation, nor to bring about respect for Palestinian rights—in fact, it is the actor primarily responsible for preventing these outcomes. To the U.S., Israel's "Operation Defensive Shield" in 2002 had sufficiently punished the Palestinians and their compliant U.S.-backed leadership for their intransigence at Camp David. While the Palestinian Authority was already acting as Israel's "subcontractor" and "collaborator" in suppressing resistance to Israeli occupation, in the paraphrased words of former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's deliberate destruction of Palestinian institutions provided the opportunity to rebuild them, and ensure an even greater degree of U.S. control.

The settlement and annexation programs help guarantee Israeli control over the most valuable Palestinian land and water resources, ensuring Israel will remain a dominant society not easily pressured by its neighbors. To help achieve these goals, the U.S. shields Israeli expansion behind a "peace process" in hopes that given enough time the Palestinians will concede more and more of what was once theirs. The primary concern is to present the appearance that the U.S. and Israel are ardently crusading for peace, battling against those who oppose this noble objective. Though it is true that people across the region are appalled and outraged by Israeli crimes, such anger is a small consideration next to the strategic gain of maintaining a strong, dependent ally in the heart of the Middle East.

The reconstitution of an even more tightly controlled Palestinian Authority, with General Keith Dayton directly supervising the Palestinian security forces, enabled the U.S. to meet these goals while more effectively suppressing resistance to the occupation. Likewise, redeploying Israeli soldiers outside of Gaza allowed Sharon a free hand to continue the annexation of the West Bank while being heralded internationally as a "great man of peace."

The treatment of Israel by the mainstream U.S. media is also standard for all U.S. allies. Coverage in the corporate press is predictably skewed in favor of official U.S. allies and against official enemies, a well-documented phenomenon. Thus, proponents of the lobby thesis are missing the forest for the trees. What they see as the special treatment of Israel by the mainstream press is actually just the normal functioning of the U.S. media and intellectual establishment, apologizing for and defending crimes of official allies while demonizing official enemies.

Of course, this is not to argue that there are not organizations in the U.S., like the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League and AIPAC [the lobbying group American Israel Public Affairs Committee] that seek to marginalize dissent from Israeli policy in every forum possible. Rather, I am pointing out that the power of these groups pales in comparison to other, far more powerful, interests and concerns. While the AJC or ADL may mobilize for the firing of a professor critical of Israel, for example, that argument is amplified by the elite-owned and controlled press because doing so serves their interests. Likewise, AIPAC can urge unwavering support for Israel on the part of the U.S. government, but without the assent of other far more powerful interests, like the energy corporations and defense establishment, AIPAC's efforts would amount to little. U.S. policy, like that of other states, is rationally planned to serve the interests of the ruling class.

Israel could not sustain its aggressive, expansionist policies without U.S. military aid and diplomatic support. If the Obama administration wanted to, it could pressure Israel to comply with international law and resolutions, join the international consensus, and enact a two-state solution. While the "Israel lobby" thesis conveniently explains his failure to do so and absolves U.S. policy-makers of responsibility for their ongoing support of Israeli apartheid, violence and annexation, it simply does not stand up under closer scrutiny.

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

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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From the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund...

News Flash!

Revolution newspaper received the following from the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, Executive Director's Newsletter, dated July 1, 2010.

The ACLU - Foundation (Southern California), legal counsel for the PRLF regarding the ban of Revolution newspaper, sent letters in early June to two California prisons--Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) and Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP)--saying if they did not lift their blanket bans on Revolution and permit its distribution to prisoners, the ACLU would discuss with PRLF future options, including litigation. Both of these California prisons had officially notified RCP Publications (and thus PRLF) in February that Revolution newspaper was banned. The letters from the ACLU requested a response by June 21st.

In a letter dated June 15th, the Assistant Warden of CVSP, Neil McDowell, wrote: "This is to advise you that your publication entitled 'Revolution' does not have a blanket ban at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison (CVSP). The memo dated February 16, 2010 authored by Sergeant L. Nunez was inaccurate in stating as such." No further explanation was given for why that letter was written nor for the ban that has been in effect.

The Warden of Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP), G.D. Lewis, sent a letter to the ACLU also dated June 15th, which stated: "To date, ALL issues of Revolution Newspaper mailed to PBSP inmates in the past nine months, have been delivered," and that "No ban of Revolution Newspaper is in effect... I am considering this matter closed."

Needless to say, the PRLF has serious concerns about the complete truthfulness of the wardens' claims. This month alone, the PRLF has received at least two letters from prisoners at PBSP who state that their newspapers are being delivered at best sporadically. One prisoner says he received only a single issue in March, one in April and another in May.

The PRLF has good historical reasons for its concerns as well. For many months, beginning in October, 2009, PBSP banned the newspaper without any notification to prisoners or publisher, in egregious violation of CDCR's own procedures outlined in memos turned over to the ACLU. Then in February, 2010 PRLF received a letter from PBSP advising it that Revolution newspaper will not be delivered to inmates; that it "has been determined to be contraband because it promotes disruption of the government and incites violence to do so."

When this ban was called out and the ACLU filed for all public records, PBSP began to maneuver. In May, PBSP notified RCP Publications that there was no ban and that their own February, 2010 letter which notified Revolution newspaper of the ban was in error! This May letter claimed that there was only a single issue of Revolution barred, and they stood by the decision to do so; yet there is evidence from many official "Notification of Disapproval" forms received by prisoners that newspapers dating back to October, 2009 were disapproved. Now the warden's June letter states that ALL issues have met the criteria for delivery to prisoners.

It is important to note that by announcing that ALL issues of Revolution newspaper mailed to PBSP inmates in the past nine months have been delivered, the warden at PBSP has now been forced to admit that there was in fact NO VALID BASIS to bar a single issue of Revolution newspaper from any prisoner during that time period.

But it is up to us to hold PBSP to that statement. The prison officials are repeat offenders in violating the prisoners' First Amendment rights; the truth of the situation must be learned directly from the prisoners.

And there are many unanswered questions for which PBSP officials have offered no explanations. For reasons yet to be learned, the prison continues to try and obscure the extent, nature, and justification of the ban that it carried out for many months.

The PRLF is pursuing this on the legal front--and together with that continuing to actively mount a broad, societal effort to bring awareness of the ban. At this juncture we have made some significant headway; but we need to see the overturning of this ban all the way through. The prison officials must be compelled to fully DISCLOSE all documents regarding disapproval in the CA prison system. There must be VERIFICATION (facilitated by prison officials) that all issues of Revolution (past and current) are being delivered to prison subscribers. And if an issue of Revolution is not delivered in a timely way, prison officials must provide prompt NOTIFICATION to the ACLU-F (SoCal) and the PRLF.

Importantly, PRLF is also working to put in place legally ENFORCEABLE mechanisms to ensure that NO prison in CDCR system can arbitrarily ban issues of Revolution newspaper, or any other public newspaper or literature which does not conform to the thinking of the officials administering the prisons. Such practices are inhumane and unconstitutional.

Thoroughly resolving this in a way which requires the prison officials to follow their own regulations and inhibits their ability to manufacture or arbitrarily institute new bans in any form has important implications: for upholding the rights of prisoners to a life of the mind, for the distribution of Revolution newspaper and other revolutionary literature in the prisons--and beyond that for critical thinking in society as a whole.

The efforts of a broad range of people who have taken up work to Overturn the Ban are having an impact on the prison officials. Important headway is being made...but if we stop now, it could be like starting a course of antibiotics and not finishing the full course. The infection can come roaring back and then you are less able to deal with it because you didn't finish the full course of treatment.

The June 15, 2010 letters from PBSP warden Lewis and CVSP assistant warden McDowell amount to an admission that the reasons given for designating Revolution newspaper as "contraband" are wrong and baseless. Yet for all the reasons outlined here, this effort is not over! The actions of prison authorities in this matter up to now have been illegal and harmful and there is much that remains hidden in the administrative entrails about their efforts to deny this newspaper to prisoners that cannot be allowed to stand or to continue in new forms.

PRLF will continue to keep people informed of significant developments.

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Adopt a Sub, Donate Generously to the PRLF and Urge Others to Contribute

One lesson we have learned over and over in the course of this struggle is how precious Revolution newspaper is to its readers in prison. You can see this in their letters, which literally number in the hundreds. We cannot let their subscriptions to Revolution be cut off for any reason. The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund urgently needs $6,000 to renew hundreds of Revolution newspaper subscriptions. 

The ban at Pelican Bay and Chuckawalla has been all about the attempts of the prison authorities to enforce "mind control" and cut the lifeline that Revolution newspaper represents for many prisoners. A fitting response to the attempt to ban the newspaper is for the numbers of subscriptions to dramatically increase, both in California and nationwide.

There are currently 65 prisoners on the waiting list for Revolution subs in California alone; $2,275 would fund their subscriptions for a full year. $35 covers a one-year sub for one prisoner. If you can, adopt a bloc of subs. 

The Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund is in affiliation with International Humanities Center, a nonprofit public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501[c](3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Send your checks to Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund,
1321 N. Milwaukee, #407, Chicago, IL. 60622

Make tax-deductible checks to IHCenter/PRLF

Make non-tax deductible checks to Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund

Credit card and Pay Pal donations can be made online at: ("International Humanities" will appear on your credit card statement), or at

Contact PRLF: (773) 960-6952 or

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Opening Speech at May 29-30 Conferences on the Campaign, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"

Nearly a year ago, the RCP, USA launched a campaign around "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." Anchored by a powerful Message and Call from the Party, the campaign has accomplished some important things. But the campaign has not yet broken through to its main objectives—popularizing to millions the need for, and character of, revolution; making the leadership of this revolution, Bob Avakian, a household word; and bringing forward a core of new fighters around this revolution and this leadership. To deal with this, the Party called conferences on May 29 and 30 in two cities.

These conferences were very successful. People came from a number of different cities, large and small. And they brought a wide range of experience with them—experience in different forms of fighting the power and, in many cases, in beginning to take out revolution. The chemistry that came through by having people with diverse viewpoints and experience wrangle with the purposes and goals for this campaign and then, on that basis, develop ideas and plans—and in so doing, constantly returning to those larger goals and purposes—brought forward something new. For the first time there was a sense of a national campaign; now the charge is to make that real, and take it all to a higher level.

I. We Need Revolution

We have a lot to do here this weekend, a lot to accomplish, and I want to lay out a framework that can help us accomplish that on the best possible basis. Our overall purpose is to take this campaign—"The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"—to a qualitatively higher level.

So I'm going to talk about why we undertook this campaign. I'm going to talk about the high stakes involved. I'm going to get into the goals of this campaign. And then I want to explain in some depth what all this has to do with doing what we ultimately and urgently need to do—and that is to make revolution.

But I want to start by talking about Aiyana Stanley-Jones, the 7-year-old child murdered by Detroit police two weeks ago today. I know you've read in our paper how she was sleeping on the couch in the living room, next to her grandmother, when the cops swarmed into their home after midnight. You may have read how the cops had every basis to know that there were children in the home because they had been surveilling the place. How these pigs shot her in the head and then carried her lifeless body out of her home like a rag doll. How they then brutalized her father and arrested her grandmother, putting her in chains. And how all this was filmed for a reality TV show in order to sell back to people their own brutalization and degradation, and add bitter insult to the horrible injury. How the mayor of Detroit then jumped to defend the police and attack the family's lawyer and, yes, attack the masses themselves for "making bad decisions." How Al Sharpton then ran to Detroit to "give the glory to god"—and put the blame on Black people themselves, especially the youth. But to echo the article in our paper, THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT: for yet again, at least for now, the masses have been forced to chew on their sorrow and swallow their anger and just walk on—until they eventually turn it back, once more, against each other.

Or maybe you read in our paper a few weeks back about the massacre in Gardez, Afghanistan. Twenty-five people were celebrating the birth of Hajji Sharaf Udin's newborn grandson. At 3 in the morning, again while people were sleeping, Udin's son, Mohammed Dawoud went to investigate noises that he heard outside. The noises were American special forces, who promptly murdered Dawoud. Just like the Detroit police, these American soldiers then attacked the house and murdered three women who were crouching behind the door in fear. Bibi Shirin was 22 years old and the mother of four children under 5; Bibi Saleha was 37 and the mother of 11 children; and Gulalai was 18 years old. Maybe you remember how those same American soldiers then assaulted the survivors, arresting eight of them and holding them for four days of American-style interrogation, hoods and all, and then tried to cover up the massacre, stonewalling and lying for more than a month before the truth finally became undeniable. And here too THAT'S STILL NOT THE WORST OF IT—for all too many people remain passive in the face of this and other outrages by the Obama administration, including Obama's self-declared right to assassinate, without even the semblance of any due process, anyone that he decides to.

Or maybe you're burning in anger over Arizona and its maniacal fascist legislature, one day virtually criminalizing people of color and almost literally the next day forbidding the teaching of ethnic studies—including the teaching of the historical fact that the U.S. stole New Mexico, Arizona and large parts of the rest of the western U.S. from Mexico in the first place...because teaching that fact "might incur resentment."

Maybe you read our declaration for women's liberation and the emancipation of all humanity, and were stunned by what it revealed about the scope and depth of the oppression of one half of humanity all over the world. A fabric of oppression, to quote our declaration, that "is carved deeply into the calloused hands of women in the sweatshops of China and Honduras," that "is draped over the faces of young women in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia," that "is stripped off the bodies of girls of Moldova and Bangkok who are put up for sale in brothels," and that "is worn like a prize by pre-teens in the U.S. and Europe who are taught to dress and move like sex objects long before they understand what sex even is."

Or maybe you're heartsick over the disaster now unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe you've read our paper, which goes into the real depth of this disaster, and here too, once again, exposes the lying and suppression and cover-up that is second nature to the people who run this system.

Or perhaps you're losing sleep over the continued rise of a fascist movement in this country... distressed about people who have been organized by one section of the rulers to aim their resentment and anger toward those "below" them or "slightly higher"—toward immigrants and Latinos more generally...toward Black people, particularly poor Black people...and on the other hand, toward intellectuals and artists...and, yes, toward communists, including very explicitly this Party.

All that and more keeps you up at night. All that and more brought you here today.

But the fact is: none of this has to be this way.

Let's go back again to the heartless murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Mayor Bing in Detroit said this: "It's quite demoralizing. I don't know how to stop it." But we DO know how to stop it. We know how to stop it because we know how to deal with what started it and what keeps it going—this rotten capitalist system, with its ever-changing but somehow never-dying structures of white supremacy. We don't need murdering pigs—but so long as you have a SYSTEM which relies on the social structures designed to keep the masses of Black people and other people of color impoverished, imprisoned, insulted and brutalized, then for just that long there will be murdering pigs to enforce those structures. But we don't need that system and we can do away with that system—through revolution.

And no, we don't need the masses of youth preying on each other and even killing each other off. But so long as you have this capitalist system, where everything and everyone is looked at as a source of profit and where as a result "look out for number one and screw everyone else" (while "giving it to god" on Sunday) is the real morality that is promoted and reinforced every day... so long as you have these white supremacist, racist institutions constantly blaring the message that lives lived in black and brown skins are worth less than those lived in white skins... then this kind of ugly thing will play out amongst the most oppressed...whether you are talking about Detroit, Mexico City, Mumbai or Paris. But we can do away with that too, but not by sermons and not by education—education that leads nowhere. We can do away with it if—but only if—we make revolution against the system that spawns it and do away with that system and all its fucked-up ways of relating. This system, with its planet of slums and its planet of gangs, has NO future for these youth—but the revolution DOES.

We need state power—revolutionary state power—a state power not of these imperialists, but a state power serving and rooted in the masses of people, with the leadership of the vanguard party. If we had state power, we would deal with the worst of this overnight, even as we set about the longer but still do-able process of leading people to tear up the deeper roots of this horror. And even before we have that power, right now as we ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution, we are learning how to draw these youth into something else and something far better—fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution.

We can stop this shit. It doesn't have to be this way. We don't need a system that divides the world into different sets of turf ruled by different cliques of legitimate gangsters—that is, the ruling capitalist-imperialists—fighting like dogs over who has the right to exploit and super-exploit the people and to plunder the resources of the earth. What we need is revolutionary state power—and if we had it, we would use it to build a system that does NOT run on the worldwide division of people into exploiter and exploited, oppressor and oppressed. We would use that state power NOT to rain down terror on oppressed people all over the planet, but to support revolution—REAL revolution, revolution designed to end oppression and NOT just repackage it, with a different set of oppressors—all over this planet.

And there is no objective need to befoul and devastate and destroy the environment either—unless you have a system in which every player is driven to seek profit on top of more profit... If we had the power, we could forge a future where people would live as caretakers of the planet, nursing its terrible wounds and developing a sustainable relationship to nature—and not piratically and insanely plundering the earth the way that these rulers do now. These dominators and despoilers need to get the fuck out of the way—and the people need to MAKE them do it, through revolution, for these capitalists will never leave on their own. Just look at the principles in the special issue of Revolution on how our revolutionary socialist state power would handle the environment and tell me that there is anyone else willing to stand up and say "Give US the power, and we could deal with this"—and able to actually back that up with substance. [Revolution's special issue on the environment is available online at]

We want state power. We would use that state power both to prevent the exploiters from returning and to set about resolving the great disparities and inequalities in the world—between oppressor and oppressed nations, between men and women, between those who work with ideas and those who are locked out of that sphere—and we would do it in a society that would be full of ferment and initiative from many different directions.

II. Revolution Is Fighting To Break Out...

Revolution—the REAL revolution, the communist revolution—could deal with all these outrages and more, and could do it as part of moving forward to a planet without any exploitation...without any forms of oppression...and without all the institutions and ideas, whether ancient or oh-so-modern, that reflect and reinforce that exploitation and oppression. Revolution—the REAL revolution, the communist revolution—would get rid of their instruments of oppression and it would bring in a new power, one which would mobilize the people to transform the material reality they face.

We need state power—state power to defend the people as they overcome the age-old divisions and as they work through the complicated but nevertheless very do-able and very joyful process of dissolving the mental shackles that chain their minds. We need a state power that would lead people to transform their own supposedly unchangeable human nature, not in a crude way that tramples on people's individuality, but through a whole process where as people transform the material world they are also led, and take initiative, to open up capacities and parts of themselves that they never knew they had.

But here's the most painful thing of all: this revolution right now is pretty much off the map in people's thinking. Even where people are fighting back—like in Arizona, or in the fights against education cuts—we have to face it: Revolution isn't out there as a REAL viable possibility in their thinking.

This revolution—the REAL revolution, the communist revolution—is fighting for its life. That's right, fighting for its life. And not just to survive, as some kind of abstract hope that might as well be a religion—but to survive and grow as a real contending force, increasingly mobilizing people to fight the power, and preparing people to SEIZE the power as part of conquering and transforming the whole world.

But even worse—not only is the reality of this not known to most people, to the extent they have heard of it, people have been convinced that such a revolution is either impossible or undesirable.

How did this happen?

The communist revolutions that came to and held power—first in the Soviet Union in 1917 and lasting for several decades, and then in China from 1949 to 1976—achieved things that had never been seen on this planet. People began the process of genuinely freeing themselves, and they set about creating a whole new world on the soil of this rotten and decaying one.

But these were the first attempts. These new socialist states were surrounded on all sides, constantly invaded or threatened with invasion. The leaders of these societies were starting almost from scratch in building a world without exploitation and oppression. True, they had the insightful and far-seeing (but nevertheless beginning and somewhat basic) framework brought forward by Marx and Engels, and then Lenin; but now all that had to be applied, and that is always more complicated and full of learning once you get into it. In both the Soviet Union and then China, our movement led people to do amazing things, our movement and its revolutions inspired the whole world, and tremendous lessons were learned. But ultimately both these revolutions were, as the Message and Call of this campaign puts it, "turned back by the forces of the old order."

Looking at it from the long view of history, looking at it with a scientific understanding of how different classes come into being and the tortuous process through which they reshape the world in their own image—and on this point, I will refer people to especially the second part of Bob Avakian's talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About—these defeats are very painful but not surprising. And from this same viewpoint, it is not surprising that the imperialists—the concentration of everything that is old, decaying, rotten and reactionary in this world—would then do everything that they could to bury this movement, once and for all.

I mean, talk about brainwash! These imperialists use their television stations, their publishing houses, and their news media to slander and distort these revolutions, and to downplay and deny their incredible accomplishments, day after day, week after week, year in and year out. Where this movement has still raised its head, these imperialists have used threats and prison and murder, as well as slander. And all the while, they have brought forward and supported, all over the world, religious fundamentalists as "an alternative" for dispossessed and angry youth.

Their so-called brilliant scholars just brazenly make up lies or distort facts, as Raymond Lotta so powerfully shows in his talks, and then they broadcast them over and over until "everyone knows" these lies as the truth. Those who dissent or question this verdict are warned, sometimes quietly and sometimes quite openly, that they are risking their "access" and their position... and sometimes more. And the imperialists have also played on real weaknesses and shortcomings of the first stage of our revolution, some of them quite serious—even as those shortcomings were overall secondary to the great achievements.

It got so bad, over those decades, that all too many communists themselves—including, yes, most of us in this Party—let themselves get worn down by it and, in the words of the Manifesto from our Party, objectively abandoned the outlook and aims of the communist revolution, accommodated to the system of imperialism, and settled for, at most, reforms within this horrific system. All too many communists stopped being communists, perhaps not in word, but in fact.

III. The Leadership We Need...For A New Stage of Communist Revolution

But there was, during this period, someone who traveled a different road. The Message and Call puts it this way:

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.

Bob Avakian confronted the problem, head on and straight up. He analyzed the first stage of the communist revolution, upholding its achievements but also confronting and digging into its shortcomings. He worked on the problems we faced, he wrangled with them from many different angles, and in the course of this he came up with a new synthesis of communism—something that is comparable, as the Manifesto from our Party says, to "what was done by Marx at the beginning of the communist movement—establishing, in the new conditions that exist, after the end of the first stage of the communist revolution, a theoretical framework for the renewed advance of that revolution." Communism has not only been defended, but further developed and, in important aspects, re-envisioned through Bob Avakian's new synthesis.

And when he found that most of the people in the Party that he led were pulling to a different road, turning away from advancing the revolution and into a preoccupation with building a reformist movement, in one form or another, he launched a tremendous struggle within that Party—a cultural revolution within the RCP—to not only get this Party back onto the revolutionary road, but to put it on a more profoundly revolutionary basis than ever.

This Cultural Revolution was a struggle over LINE—that is, over what would be the guiding method of the Party for understanding reality; over how the Party understood the whole history of our revolution; and over the strategy and policies that flowed from that method and understanding. At bottom, it was over whether this would be a revolutionary party—a vanguard of the future—or whether it would be a relic of the past. And this high-risk high-stakes struggle, initiated and led by Bob Avakian, did in fact result in a

real revitalization of the revolutionary and communist outlook, objectives, spirit, and culture of the Party—a Party facing squarely, and confronting scientifically, the complexities, the difficulties and the dangers, as well as the inspiration, of doing all it can to work for revolution in this country, and to contribute the most it can to this same cause throughout the world, all aiming for the final goal of communism. 1

Bob Avakian saved this Party as a revolutionary party; and now this Party must, and can, move forward and lead people to initiate a whole new stage of communism, fighting for this understanding everywhere and using it to make revolution right here.

So, when people ask, "Why do you make such a big deal about Bob Avakian?" there's a very basic truth that they're not getting. And we should tell them that, straight up, with no apology. Without Bob Avakian and the work he did and is doing—without Bob Avakian and the courageous struggle he waged, and led—it is very likely that there would BE no communism today, at least no vital and viable communism. Without Bob Avakian, it is very likely that there would be no Party in the U.S. today—at least no party that is really a vanguard of revolution—nor would there be a revolutionary movement.

One more thing. Without Bob Avakian—BA—and the work he's done, it is very likely that there would be no plan, no foundation and no strategy for actually making revolution in the USA—actually figuring out how to break through the suffocating situation of today and get things to the point where people in their millions could actually be won and roused to take on this monster...and to win.

Do you realize how precious THAT is? To not only be able to uncover and analyze the causes and forces behind the character of the prison that confines not only see the basis for a future without those bars and chains...but to know the way out?

Why do we make such a big deal about Bob Avakian? Because he IS a big deal. And in fact, we need to make a much bigger deal about him—and that's one big objective of this campaign, and one big thing we're going to be getting into this weekend. The work he has done has provided the potential to MAKE revolution known; and not just known—to make it a real goal, actively fought for, by increasing numbers of people—a viable force that can actually carry forward the needed changes that only grow more urgent with each unbearable day. The Party that he has fought for and led in re-forging can lead that. We don't intend to die of slow suffocation; we don't intend to "fight the good fight" so that we can shuffle off the stage with good consciences... we intend to do what the old '60s song said: "break on through to the other side."

IV. The Campaign and Its Objectives

This campaign—The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have—is the crucial link to getting on a trajectory to doing that. And that's what this conference has got to be about. To quote from the letter that called you here:

People need to hear and see that things DON'T have to be this way. They need to hear about revolution. And they need to know there is a Party that is building a movement for revolution. That is what this campaign is about. We aim to make known to millions the goal and character of thisrevolution, communist revolution, as it has been revitalized and reconceived by Bob Avakian; to make the leader of this revolution a household word; and through all this to forge a core of dedicated fighters who are going to advocate for this revolution and make it a driving dynamic force in society and the world.

These three goals are somewhat distinct, but they work together. First of all, people got to know about, hear about, see, and FEEL the revolution. In all kinds of different ways—speeches, posters, literature, and yes, in bold hard-fought struggles standing up against the system and its enforcers, especially where it is carrying out its most atrocious outrages—this revolution has to get known. People have got to see the revolutionaries rolling with these T-shirts with the BA image or with the Revolution masthead. People got to see, and they have stand up with, the revolutionaries standing firm and fighting back when we come under all the different attacks that the system comes at us with, and we have to mobilize them to make every assault politically boomerang against the enforcers of oppression, as we turn these attacks into a way for more people to hear about and come together to defend this new movement.

People have got to know—and we have to bring it home in all kinds of imaginative ways—that this is not just about their neighborhood, but it's something going on all over the nation, with potentially worldwide reverberations.They have to see and hear this Message and Call not once, not twice, but over and over—coming from different places, some unexpected and even wild—so that this doesn't just fade from memory after a week or two. They have to be led to go deeply into this statement—this Message and Call is RICH, this is "Revolution 101"—with a basic foundation in the goals, methods and strategy of revolution concentrated in it. The basic fact that there is a movement for revolution...a revolutionary communist movement...this has to penetrate into the atmosphere, and affect all of society. Some people are gonna love it, some people are gonna hate it, and some people are gonna just have it circulating in their minds—but the revolution has got to get out there and get known. Let me tell you, the days will come—and they may come sooner than you think and almost certainly those days will come before we feel fully ready for them—when masses of people will be seeking a way out. And when they do, they better know something about this revolution.

But there's another element to this campaign, another objective. There's making known the leadership of Bob Avakian. I've talked about Bob Avakian in one dimension earlier, and it's an important one: the objectively undeniable role he's played in laying a foundation from which the whole movement can go forward and in waging a battle to save this Party as a But there's more to say. The Message and Call puts it this way:

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.

"A great champion and a great resource for the people here, and indeed people all over the world." People need to know that, they need a basic sense of how that is so, and they need to know him. It is up to us to get Bob Avakian's memoir—From Ike to Mao and Beyond—out there to people. Up to us to spread the Revolution talk to people, watch it with them where we can, and write up the lessons of that for our newspaper. Up to us to get this T-shirt out there, and this way cool graphic out and about. Up to us to do a hundred and one other things that are going to get taken up in this workshop tomorrow to make this leader a household word.

Obviously, things have not yet broken loose in this country. And in many ways the atmosphere is more suffocating and locked down than it was in the early '60s—though there ARE openings, some of which we can recognize and seize on, and some of which we are going to have to create. But there is a real basis to get Bob Avakian's leadership out there, now, on a much much huger scale than it has been, through this campaign, and to do that in such a way so that when and as things begin to open up—and this campaign, along with other things we do, is part of prying things open—he will be a point of reference and more than that: a magnetic pole for people who are searching for a leader with real answers and real substance.

And look. I've read reports about, and I've talked to people, who've said, "It would make such a difference if we could see and meet the Chairman in person. It would make such a big difference if the Chairman could be out here speaking." Now some people say that in a nasty way or a baiting way. But the people I'm talking about are mostly coming from a good place. Well, the Party appreciates your sentiment. But let me also say this: the Chair IS "out here." He's out here in his memoir... out here in the Revolution talk...out here in the graphic the pages of Revolution newspaper, almost every other audios that are online. He's out here and we have to get him much much further out here to hundreds of thousands and then to millions. Not five years from now, not two years from now, but right now—beginning with the plans we make this weekend. Let's make "Are you getting into BA?" a mass challenge. And let's make "GET INTO BA" a mass slogan.

And we have to be bold with people. We don't need to—in fact we most definitely should NOT—get into long defensive explanations when people raise this stuff about "why are you making such a big deal," or "everyone says you're a cult," or "I don't follow leaders"—in other words, when people begin, frankly, repeating a lot of the conventional wisdom or prejudices that have been hammered at by the bourgeoisie in these past 35 years of counter-revolution. No. We should just put it right out there, like I said to you earlier: you don't understand—without Bob Avakian there would very likely be no revolutionary communism in today's world. And the fact is that we're not promoting him ENOUGH yet—and we aim to do a whole lot more and a whole lot better!

We should put it out there, plainly, matter of fact, without any hint of religiosity, and then we should challenge people: if you are serious about fundamental change, it is the height of irresponsibility to fail to engage Avakian's work on the level it demands.

If you are at all serious about human possibility, then you have to wrangle with why the previous revolutions were defeated. You have to wrangle with whether we can really make a revolution that both can overcome the terrible inequalities and disparities and horrors in the world—and can do that without turning out the lights, as Avakian has put it, on intellectual and artistic endeavor and initiative.

If you are serious, you have to wrangle with whether Marxism really is a science—and if it is, what it really means to say that, and how our scientific understanding of the world has changed in the 160 years since this science was first forged.

If you are serious, you have to wrangle with how do people change their understanding of the world and, yes, their deepest moral feelings—not just after the revolution, but how do they change now, in order to MAKE revolution and as part of MAKING REVOLUTION?

If you are serious, you have to wrangle with whether it is even conceivable that the ruling class of this country could some day be vulnerable to a revolutionary challenge...and if it is conceivable, then how could that possibly come together and what would be required of revolutionaries—both then and, from the vantage point of that future time, today?

And if you are wrangling on that road, then you will meet someone else who got there first and will welcome you onto it and wrangle with you and try to learn everything he can from you—because that's how he rolls. And that would be Bob Avakian.

It's there for the taking. And then sure, let's argue about it. Let's learn from each other as we do. But on the basis of you being serious enough to get deeply into this. To quote Bruce Springsteen, the door's open but the ride ain't free—you have to do some work too.

This gets us to the third objective of this campaign—bringing forward a core of dedicated, ardent fighters who are going to passionately advocate for this revolution and make it a driving dynamic force in society and the world. Fighters who are going to come at this not from what my friends think, or what my family thinks, or how backward things are out there, or how brutal and heartless these monsters at the top are—but from what humanity needs and what really is possible.

Fighters who are going to put their questions on the table from the standpoint of working them through, on the road to deepening their commitment to this revolution.

Fighters who will boldly take on what the enemy throws at them, and who will just as boldly take on both the backward thinking and the real questions among masses broadly, as well as the sophisticated apologists for this system.

Even a relatively small initial core of such fighters, coming forward from all ages but especially the youth, and from all walks of life, especially those on the bottom of society, can make a huge difference. It can have a magnetic effect. And such a core will stand out all the more sharply against the backdrop of today. Such a core can act as a living embodiment of the vision of a revolutionary movement that Bob Avakian put forward in "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity":

There will be, and there should be, all kinds of struggle about those questions [of how to make revolution]. But people should have a sense: If you want to know about, and work toward, a different world—and if you want to stand up and fight back against what's being done to people—this is where you go. You go to this Party, you take up this Party's newspaper, you get into this Party's leader and what he's bringing forward, you come to the Revolution Clubs, you join in with the people carrying out political activity that embodies this—spreading revolution and building resistance, and the "positive synergy" between the two—all aiming for revolution.

There needs to be more room for and emphasis on systematic study and struggle for people who are getting into this. There needs to be a more widespread and keener sense of what this Party is about and what it means for people...of the crucial importance of the Cultural Revolution in our Party and what a great thing it is...of what it means to take leadership from this Party and what it would mean to join it... All that has to be much more part of the atmosphere, much more of what we call a "mass question"—something that lots of people are openly and constantly wrangling over and returning to, in their conversations and their thinking. People have to be coming into this Party, and helping to further transform it, too, into an even more revolutionary party...into an even sharper instrument with which to deeply understand and radically transform reality in the interests of the masses.

Our aim and our plan with this campaign is this: to get those three objectives working together, so that some people may be hearing about Bob Avakian and then checking out the Revolution talk or the memoir and from there learning about the revolutionary movement and getting into it... and other people, within the atmosphere where the image of Avakian is getting around and the Message and Call of this campaign are everywhere, see this movement stand up to the authorities and they come into things from there...or still others are going to a speech by Sunsara Taylor or Raymond Lotta or Carl Dix about some particular burning question and from there look more deeply into all this... or they're beginning to read Revolution, every week... or they are hearing about and supporting the fight to allow prisoners to continue to get and read Revolution...and where, as people are doing this or hearing about it, they are catching the feel that there is a wave—even if right now the beginning of a wave—of people who are getting into this, for real, and as they see and encounter these people, the elan and the hope and the science and the fresh approach of these new revolutionary communists draws them forward to check all this out further.

The idea here is to get all three of these objectives—and all the work involved in each particular effort and initiative related to this campaign—cross-fertilizing, and synergizing, and amplifying one another—so the message and feel gets out NOT that these people are good-hearted folks with interesting ideas, but that these people ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution.

Right now we do not have this campaign clicking on all eight cylinders. But this is a goal that we can reach. This is a goal that we can brainstorm about and percolate on and develop plans for and carry out those plans so that in a finite time this movement for revolution can be in a different position in society. We can, through waging and winning this unprecedented campaign, break through and break out... and get into position where we can begin advancing the revolutionary communist movement with societal impact and worldwide reverberations...making known to all a political and ideological force on a mission to fight for this new stage of communist revolution.

V. The Campaign—As Part of a Strategy

Now all this is part of a larger strategy. And yes, we have a strategy. I'll say it again, because it's something that we don't do enough to let people know: we have a strategy to make revolution. There's actually a method to what we do—it's not something like Jehovah's Witnesses, where their members go around and talk to people and try to recruit them, waiting for the day when god comes to deliver the big payback and set everything right. It's not "we're doing this because this is what communists always do." No. And make no mistake—we are NOT trying to stir up a "radical opposition" for its own sake. We ARE BUILDING a movement to actually MAKE REVOLUTION.

How could you make a revolution? Let's talk about this a little. The Message and Call of this campaign says that,

Revolution can be made when there is a revolutionary situation, an even greater crisis in society as a whole: when people in greater numbers come to deeply feel and understand that the present power has no legitimacy...that it serves only a handful of oppressors...that it uses lies and deception, corruption and completely unjust force and violence to keep this system going and "keep the people in their place"...when millions see the need to fight to break this power and establish a new power that can bring about the changes that people desperately need and want.

Let's break this down. "An even greater crisis in society as a whole." How could that happen? Well, let's look back at some of what we started this speech with. Let's look at these fascists out here. These Tea Party people and others. Believe me, we take these people quite seriously. We see these people in Texas rewriting the textbooks to even further distort U.S. history and these Republican governors "honoring the Confederacy"—that is, the slaveholders in the Civil War. We see—and we are out there opposing, including our people right now out there today—these fascists in the Arizona legislature with their apartheid-style laws. We see these Christian fascists, continuing their onslaught against abortion and murdering and threatening providers, lashing out against women, and threatening our comrades who lead struggle against them as well. We see them demonizing and stirring up fear of and hatred against gay people, and denying them their elementary rights. We watch Glenn Beck, and we call attention to his scenarios of militias made up of what he calls "angry Bubbas"—translation: racists—taking up arms.

And we see the Democrats—doing everything they can to hold it all together and to PREVENT people from resisting this, at the same time as they join with the Republicans to push forward the wars and repression and massive imprisonment of minority youth and serious economic deprivation that both parties are firmly behind. And we see and run up against how all this right now is intimidating and suffocating people.

But we see something else, too. We see the way that the divisions at the top of the ruling structures of society at a different point could come unraveled. Among these rulers, there are two different visions of how America needs to be ordered in the next few decades, and the potential antagonism between them is very great. Be clear, the point is most definitely not to choose sides between these rival factions of imperialists—because "they're both worse." The point is that this clash could provide the people with one of those rare openings when revolution could actually come onto the agenda for real.

Here's what I mean. When "the center cannot hold"—that is, when there is not enough cohesion among the ruling class itself to hold together its rival factions—and the "weakness of the center" is what a lot of their commentators have been bemoaning—when this happens in societies, there are fissures created out of which mass discontent can erupt. Splits that provide cracks through which the anger and discontent that people are just forced to swallow in "normal times" can come roaring out, like lava erupting from a suddenly active volcano. And something else can happen, too; to return to the Message and Call, "people in greater numbers [can] come to deeply feel and understand that the present power has no legitimacy...that it serves only a handful of oppressors...that it uses lies and deception, corruption and completely unjust force and violence to keep this system going and 'keep the people in their place.'"

You can see the embryo of something like that going on in Iran over the past year—where a society that seemed locked down tight for 30 years suddenly was engulfed in a crisis that started as a clash between two rival factions in the ruling class of the Islamic Republic over how an unstable society rife with contradiction was going to be ruled. This clash led to massive street demonstrations and fighting, and bigger questions were thrown up, and other forces began to come into play.

You can even study the history of the Civil War in this country from this angle and learn how fundamental change can actually happen.

But here's the rub—if there is not a revolutionary pole strong enough to lead people to wrench something altogether new out of this... then the rulers will just bludgeon their way out, and things will go to a still deeper circle of hell.

No, it's not enough for there to be a societal crisis to which we the revolutionaries could somehow "just add water," as if fundamental social change was like instant coffee. Here's how the Message and Call lays it out:

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...people who are determined to fight for power in order to radically change society, to get rid of oppression and exploitation. But the point is this: we cannot, and we must not, sit around and wait for "one fine day" when this revolutionary situation comes about and a revolutionary people comes on the scene. No, we must--and we can—work to bring a revolutionary people into enable people to see why they should put no faith in this system, and should not live and die in a way that keeps this system going...but instead should devote their lives to resisting oppression and building up for the time when we can get rid of the cause of all this oppression. Using our Party's newspaper, Revolution, as the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for this whole process, this is what our Party means when we say we are hastening while awaiting the revolutionary situation, preparing minds and organizing forces...for revolution.

It is crucial that when things do go up for grabs—when people are searching for a way forward, when they are questioning the assumptions they've believed in their whole lives, when they are streaming into the streets at great personal risk—it is crucial then that there be a different magnetic pole, one with the ties and influence and understanding that could enable it to forge and lead a powerful united front that actually COULD make revolution and bring in a whole new system.

So, yes, we have a strategy. We have a way to get to that tomorrow, starting from today. We are hastening revolution, even as we're not going off half-cocked... even as we're tensely awaiting, while doing all we can to shape, the situation where you actually COULD begin the fight to establish a new state power.

Recently, Revolution published two paragraphs from Bob Avakian that put out a very concise guideline on this:

At every point, we must be searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built toward.

The objective and orientation must be to carry out work which, together with the development of the objective situation, can transform the political terrain, so that the legitimacy of the established order, and the right and ability of the ruling class to rule, is called into question, in an acute and active sense, throughout society; so that resistance to this system becomes increasingly broad, deep and determined; so that the "pole" and the organized vanguard force of revolutionary communism is greatly strengthened; and so that, at the decisive time, this advanced force is able to lead the struggle of millions, and tens of millions, to make revolution.

Now there's a lot packed into those two paragraphs. You could—and at some point everybody should—spend a day and more breaking this down and getting into this. The point I want to focus on here, though, is that when we focus on these outrages—be it the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf, or the cruel murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, or Arizona even as we speak—we are focusing on them both because they demand action in their own right and as part of "bringing a revolutionary people into being."

We have an analysis of these contradictions—even as we are open and attuned to new ones emerging or coming to the fore. The pace can be intense, but we're NOT aimlessly or randomly running around. What we do has a point—to review and roughly paraphrase those paragraphs, we are searching out those concentrations of KEY social contradictions, and we are looking for the right forms, that can strengthen people's consciousness AND their fighting capacity to carry out political resistance...we are bringing to life the fact that we need, and can get, a radically different world...and we are making revolution real for people. But that's not all—we're doing this in a way that calls into question the very legitimacy of the rulers...that builds up society-wide resistance...that strengthens the pole of revolutionary communism within all that...and that does all this in such a way so that the advanced revolutionary force could actually lead millions at a future time when things have further ripened.

Listen: the very things that are at the root of the power of this ruling class—their ability to exploit people all over the planet and plunder the earth, their murdering police, the repression and injustice against immigrants and people of color generally, their structures of gender oppression, their wars and military strength—these are the very contradictions that can politically backfire against them, if revolutionaries wield their science to work on those contradictions and if things come together in a certain way.

We have a strategy—and our newspaper is, as the statement says, "the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for [the] whole process" of carrying out that strategy. This is the paper that cuts to the bone to tell you WHY things are happening... to show you HOW it doesn't have to be this way...and to give you the ways to ACT to change it. It is a call to action and a means of struggle. It is, and has to be much more, the scaffolding on which this movement is built, where those who are getting into it and following it can wrangle in its pages and on its website with how we can better build this movement. It is a guideline, where today thousands, but soon tens of thousands and eventually millions, all over the place, stay connected and learn to act in a powerful and united way. It is the foundation, where those who read it learn about the larger goals of revolution and communism, and come to see the ways in which the struggles of today are connected to those larger goals...where they come to grasp the scientific communist outlook through its application to all the many particular events and outrages and developments in society... and where they get organizationally linked up to this revolution.

And, yes, we have a strategy that takes in how, at a future time when things DO get to the point at which the rulers are weakened and fighting amongst themselves, when many other political forces are paralyzed, and when millions are ready to put everything on the line, that those millions would not be left without a way to fight and win—that is, to actually be able to meet and defeat the violent, repressive force of the old, exploitative and oppressive order. This is contained in the contribution to the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation that is entitled "On the Possibility of Revolution"—and a basic sense of this has been put in the speech two years ago, available on-line,"Making Revolution in the USA." This article, "On the Possibility of Revolution," is something that people need to get into and study, now.

Do you realize what it means that we not only have a leader and a party that knows where we need to go, but a strategy that can actually get us there? This is very precious—and this is something that we have to make much more widely known than it is today, as we carry forward with the campaign.

VI. Conclusion

So we've traveled a bit into the future in this last section. Now let's bring it back to the here and now (even as that future is pregnant in the here and now). The Message and Call puts it this way:

[Y]es, it is true—now is not yet the time, in this country, to go all-out to seize the power away from those who rule over us and to bring a new power, serving our interests, into being. But now IS the time to be WORKING FOR REVOLUTION—to be stepping up resistance while building a movement for revolution—to prepare for the time when it WILL be possible to go all out to seize the power.

Which leads me back to this campaign. This campaign is the crucial link right now in "hastening while awaiting the revolutionary situation, preparing minds and organizing forces...for revolution." If we accomplish the goals of this campaign—if the revolution gets known and its magnetic force increases...if Bob Avakian becomes a household word among those who are awake or awakening...and if a growing core of people, including and especially from the "catch-hell-every-day, nothing-to-lose" section of society, advocate, fight for and sacrifice for THIS revolution...if we do that, then we will not only have made a must-do leap along the road from where we are today, we will have gotten into position where we can make further and even more powerful leaps in this whole process.

Remember why we started this campaign.

Because at a time when revolution urgently cries out to be done, revolution is not only not on the map in people's thinking—it is in danger of becoming a relic of the past.

Because not only is revolution needed, but the problems that communist revolution ran up against in its first stage have been identified and a framework for their solution has been developed, by Bob Avakian.

Because we must and we can break out of the situation we're in right now and get a whole different trajectory going.

At a time when in the space of one month the police can murder a lovely 7-year-old girl and utterly violate her family... when Nazi-like legislation can get passed against people who have been driven here for their survival... when the capitalists can inflict, in their insane and heedless drive for profit, a major disaster on the environment... we need revolution, and we badly need a movement right now FOR REVOLUTION– a movement that puts forward its message in compelling ways and that on that foundation can inspire and backbone resistance, linked to the goal of revolution.

To quote again our Message and Call, the foundation and glue of this whole campaign:

The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world...when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness...those days must be GONE. And they CAN be.

We are here today at conferences which can play a crucial role and have a decisive impact in building the movement we need—FOR REVOLUTION. Though our numbers right now may be small, especially when weighed against the challenges we face, our movement is very very large in terms of the truth it grasps, the justness of its cause, the vision it aims for and the determination and boldness and imagination it possesses to rally people to it. We are here to wrangle with these goals and their connection to brainstorm different ideas and angles and hammer out ways to make it all come get much, much better organized...and to break out. And we do all that on the foundation of the Message and Call, and in particular its conclusion:




1. Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, RCP Publications, 2008, page 43. [back]

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Speech on 2nd Day at May 29-30 Conferences on the Campaign, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"

Nearly a year ago, the RCP, USA launched a campaign around "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." Anchored by a powerful Message and Call from the Party, the campaign has accomplished some important things. But the campaign has not yet broken through to its main objectives—popularizing to millions the need for, and character of, revolution; making the leadership of this revolution, Bob Avakian, a household word; and bringing forward a core of new fighters around this revolution and this leadership. To deal with this, the Party called conferences on May 29 and 30 in two cities.

These conferences were very successful. People came from a number of different cities, large and small. And they brought a wide range of experience with them—experience in different forms of fighting the power and, in many cases, in beginning to take out revolution. The chemistry that came through by having people with diverse viewpoints and experience wrangle with the purposes and goals for this campaign and then, on that basis, develop ideas and plans—and in so doing, constantly returning to those larger goals and purposes—brought forward something new. For the first time there was a sense of a national campaign; now the charge is to make that real, and take it all to a higher level. (The opening speech for the first day of the conferences can be found at:

So, today we are going to get further into this campaign. But it's not like, "Yesterday we did the big ideas... and today we are getting down to the work of it." We are going to do this by going back and forth between the practical dimensions of what we are undertaking and the larger strategic aims that all of this is for: making revolution, leading millions to seize state power, and advancing humanity as far as we can, as fast as we can, toward real emancipation, all over the world.

Our aim is to come out of these conferences with not only the plans and vision we need—but with a deeper collective sense of the dynamics to accomplish this, the ways we are going to make leaps to another level, and a new capacity to work as an overall team on a mission to—and capable of—rising to the historic challenge that was laid out yesterday of opening up a new stage of communist revolution for the world.

In laying out these plans, I am going to be drawing from a lot of the lessons we summed up through a recent period of investigation that the Party conducted. Many of you were part of this—either asking questions or being asked a lot of questions and getting into this campaign. And we learned more fully the impact we have been having, what has begun to be brought forward, what we need to more fully confront, and the ways for more people to contribute to this effort even as they are learning more about it and drawing closer in the process.

On one level, it's very easy to see the obstacles. We are a relatively small group of people. What we are fighting for—communist revolution—has been slandered, heaped with distortion, and suppressed. Many of those who most need this revolution are caught up in killing each other or in reactionary religion. Most progressive people are paralyzed and silent in the face of U.S. war crimes—like the massacre in Gardez that was spoken about yesterday as well as a whole host of domestic repression and fascist attacks on the people.

Further, even after several months of rather tireless work, we still have not broken through on our goals—making this revolution known society-wide... making Bob Avakian a household word... and bringing forward a core of fighters to initiate a new stage of communist revolution. Accomplishing these would actually be a break-out for our movement, and put our movement, and the masses of people, into a whole different position from which to go forward.

But, it would be very wrong to leave it at that. It would be unscientific—that is, it would not be an accurate reflection of reality—and it would therefore be damaging to our ability to go forward—if we did not recognize that there HAS been a lot we have begun to accomplish, a lot that we have learned, many thousands who have been introduced to this revolution and a great many who have contributed in different ways. There are, in actual fact, important seeds of this new movement for revolution.

One of the big charges of the conferences being held this weekend is to seriously and scientifically grapple with BOTH aspects of this contradiction—BOTH the fact that we do not yet have a campaign AND the beginnings we have made. We have to grapple with and develop plans for these seeds to be nurtured and how there can be cross-fertilization and synergies between new things that have begun to take root so that we can make leaps in establishing something that really goes societal.

This means really taking in the lessons and plans I am going to lay out and then, on that foundation, wrangling collectively over whether and how these plans will truly have societal impact and how they can be improved upon, fleshed out, further developed so that they DO lay out a way we can accomplish our goals.

In doing this, we should act like a team of scientists. By this I mean we should be looking for patterns, looking at the ways things are developing, struggling to identify both trends and countercurrents in society and our work. We should be working to identify the material basis for the things we are observing and seeking to transform. We should be looking not only at surface phenomenon, but what is moving and shaping things—or what has the potential to—beneath the surface. All of us together have to be struggling to ascertain the most accurate understanding of what reality is and how it has the potential to change through our work.

Each of us should strive to be right but not be afraid of being wrong. We should set aside preconceived notions and limits in our thinking and imagination. We should stretch ourselves to get into things that maybe we had always thought were for other people to think about. I don't care how long you've been in this—for a few decades or for a few weeks—we all need to contribute in this way to further forging our plans and our collective will in a way that none of us can do on our own.

The Campaign As Campaign

So, with that as orientation, the first lesson I want to get into is the importance of taking up this campaign as a campaign. During our investigation, a LOT of people told us they didn't even know we were doing a campaign. They said, "I thought you were doing what revolutionaries always do." Through this, we came to more fully recognize that while we had been doing many important things—putting Bob Avakian's Revolution talk online and promoting it, touring the campuses, spreading this movement to people in the basic communities, and much more—we hadn't been stitching them together and waging this as a campaign.

But, no, we are not "doing what revolutionaries always do." We are doing what revolutionaries do when they finally are shaken awake from revisionist slumber and look out at a world that has been ravaged by decades of an imperialism that arrogantly declares itself an unchallengeable "best of all possible worlds"—and when these revolutionaries come to appreciate what it means that we have the leadership we need to lead the masses to make revolution to get out of this nightmare—and to really fight to bring forward a new stage of communist revolution.

So, we undertook a campaign—and now, through these conferences, we intend to really make it a campaign—to really put revolution back on the map, to make Bob Avakian known throughout society and to bring forward the beginning cores of this movement for revolution.

These three goals of this campaign are not just "good things to work towards"... or, as some people said to us, "It's always important to have goals." They are three interrelated, dynamic components of a way that a new dynamic can begin to be forged—beginning to bring forward a new stage of revolution and communism, within a finite and rapidly shifting time and terrain, to the point where the revolutionary movement representing this is much more of a contending force in society and in a qualitatively different position from which to hasten, while awaiting, the development of a revolutionary situation.

Flowing from this, people who meet us through this campaign should not weigh their own possible participation in this campaign in terms of whether they want to adopt what probably strikes them as a rather demanding but perhaps ethical lifestyle.

No, they should be led to grasp that they have a role to play in whether the possibility of real liberation gets opened up and whether people will be able to seize it when it does. And one thing we've learned is that, right from the outset, people can grapple with this campaign—and they can relate to and contribute to this campaign—if they know it IS a campaign.

Why should someone take a few extra—or a few hundred extra—copies of the Message and Call when we knock on their door in the projects or in their dormitory? Only if they have closely studied it and agree with all of it? Or because they want to see the possibility of revolution open up in the real world and learn more about it—and the leadership we have—themselves? Yes, people need time to absorb this message; but frankly, they are more compelled to dig into it because they realize this is not a one-on-one conversation, but about changing the whole world.

Why should a professor or a student step out and advocate that people should engage Raymond Lotta1 even as they fear academic repercussions? Because it is the intellectually honest thing to do? Yes! But along with this and compelling people to be true to their intellectual principles, they should do this because there are stakes for humanity in opening up an honest debate and engagement over the communist project on the campuses, stakes that have to do with busting open that ferment more broadly in society at a time when the world is hurtling towards greater disaster and yet a force is on the scene that is working to change all of this.

The MORE that people understand each important component of this campaign as part of a campaign AND the more they see the campaign in the context of really initiating a new stage of communist revolution—getting in position so that when the time is right we can actually MAKE revolution, seize state power, and set about emancipating humanity... the more people see this, the more they will want to and can find the ways to contribute to this, even as they themselves are still learning more and wrestling through their own questions about this revolution.

The Statement

The second major lesson about this campaign that we need to really deeply grab ahold of is the tremendous importance of the statement, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have."

This Message and Call is the glue and the pivot of this campaign. And there is a LOT packed into this statement.

This statement speaks to people's conditions of life and dissatisfaction—and grounds this in a system that is not permanent. As the very opening of the statement makes clear: "This is NOT the best of all possible worlds... And we do NOT have to live this way." It addresses the biggest obstacles in people's thinking—from religion to Obama to the idea that people are too messed up... to questions of strategy for revolution. It gives people a basic definition of communism and lets them know we have a liberating history we are building on and an even more liberating future to make real. It boldly puts forward the great champion and resource for people here and worldwide we have in Bob Avakian. It pledges to the masses of people that there IS a force—a Revolutionary Communist Party and a revolutionary movement it is leading—that will not turn our backs on those who need this revolution.

And it challenges and invites people to get into this revolution.

We ourselves need to be much more constantly returning to this statement, digging into and drawing guidance from it, measuring our work against it and the vision it lays out.

But one thing we have found is that people don't get all this out of the statement from just one read. This is not a problem of the language of the statement—in fact, we have found that when people actually stop and read just about any sentence in it, it provokes them to go further into the whole thing.

But the substance of this statement is dealing with things that people don't think about in their day-to-day lives—at least not yet. As one person said at a program at Revolution Books in New York, most people—and he was including himself in this—go all year without considering if and how the world could be different or what it would take to make it so.

We've also learned that it's not enough for people to encounter this statement just once. They have to see it—and other signs of this growing movement for revolution—bubbling up in many different directions, over and over in regular ways that they come to rely on and in ways and from people they didn't expect.

This is why we've focused on saturating key areas with this statement—and this will again be an important part of our plans coming off this conference. We are going to focus on this nationwide for a concentrated ten days coming immediately off these conferences.

Now here, I need to make clear: saturation does not mean "get out a lot of fliers." You know, I hear people talking about, "We saturated this neighborhood and we saturated over there on that campus."  No you haven't. Speaking scientifically, there is only one place in the country that we know of where we have actually saturated and that was at the University of Chicago in the run-up to Raymond Lotta speaking there. And, you know what? It had a really big impact. By the final days leading up to his speech, students were saying to us constantly, "I got your flier EIGHT times already!" They were saying, "I had been seeing your fliers all over the campus, but then I read what you posted in the bathrooms about the education system and it really got inside me—let me get that flier again." Reactionary defenders of capitalism were using sidewalk chalk to argue against the constant presence of our fliers and student associated websites were beginning to discuss the flood of information about this upcoming speech. When we sat down to take a break and have lunch, we could overhear students talking with each other about the communists and their propaganda that were all over campus. And all of this continued over the course of a couple of weeks—with fliers and agitation and posters in all kinds of unexpected places and table tents and announcements in classes and at events.

That is what it means to saturate. And it makes an ideological statement. This is not optional. Too much is at stake. Others are starting to talk. You, too, must form an opinion.

And so far as I know that is the ONLY place we have actually achieved saturation yet during this campaign.

By saturating we aren't just trying to get out a lot of materials and we aren't trying to become fixtures on the scene. We are working to push this enough into people's worlds that they have to engage this and have their assumptions challenged by it and to create a situation where people are wrangling with each other about it—and where we are operating in that whole mix. And by concentrating our efforts in key areas we are not really just trying to impact those areas—the point is to get this to have a big enough social effect in a concentrated place it can start to have broader impact. It starts to get blogged about and debated and make it into the news and spread to other places.

So, starting this upcoming Friday after this conference we are going to have a 10-day concerted national saturation push to really put this campaign onto the map in key areas and to get some momentum for the summer. Our goal is to distribute a million of these statements over the course of the summer—and to get out 200 in 10, that is, 200,000 nationwide during this first 10-day push.

We are going to do this as a national effort and with every area having goals and calling in their numbers each night. Each day we will tally up where we are at—giving everyone a sense of the growing momentum and what they are contributing to. Lessons will be quickly summed up and popularized on the We ARE Building A Movement For Revolution page of Revolution's website. And we are going to do all this in a way that draws in and involves many hundreds of people—this means as soon as we get home from this conference getting on the phone with everyone we have met so far through this campaign and this means quickly organizing and involving all those we meet through this 10-day saturation period.

Next I want to walk through the key areas of focus that—while they are not the limits of what we should be thinking about—they are the areas this conference is going to take up in workshops. Even as people will be focusing on different components, it is important for everyone to have a sense of the whole picture and to be thinking about ways that there can be cross-fertilization and positive synergies between different elements of this campaign. This is part of getting a campaign—as opposed to separate, discrete efforts that are good, but frankly don't add up to something larger.

These workshops include: 1) campuses and youth, 2) making Bob Avakian a household name, 3) Revolution newspaper, 4) the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund including the fight to overturn the ban on Revolution newspaper at Pelican Bay and other prisons, and 5)—very importantly if we are going to make good on any of the rest of our plans: Fundraising.


I will begin by discussing the campuses. We have done a lot of things on the campuses—with the statement, with the major speaking tour by Raymond Lotta, "Everything You've Been Told About Communism Is Wrong: Capitalism Is a Failure, Revolution Is the Solution," as well as the tours by Sunsara Taylor and Carl Dix. Rather than going through each of these efforts, I am going to try to extract some overall lessons.

One of the biggest things we had to struggle out in taking revolution and communism—taking this campaign—to the campuses is again, what are we seeking to do? This is a question we have to keep asking ourselves in all that we do. Get a few people around "our thing" and hope to somehow avoid all the anti-communist lies people have ingested? Or open up a new stage of communist revolution which means really going frontally up against these verdicts in order to open them up as contested ground in a societal way?

And do we grasp that there is a strategically favorable dimension to going at this on the campuses which do, after all, at least to an extent and in principle train people in critical thinking and at least claim certain standards of intellectual honesty? It is worth noting that at every campus we have found students resonate deeply with what is written in the Party's Message and Call: "And, despite the good intentions of many teachers, the educational system is a bitter insult for many youth and a means of regimentation and indoctrination overall. While, particularly in some 'elite' schools, there is some encouragement for students to think in 'non-conformist' ways—so long as, in the end, this still conforms to the fundamental needs and interests of the system—on the whole, instead of really enabling people to learn about the world and to pursue the truth wherever it leads, with a spirit of critical thinking and scientific curiosity, education is crafted and twisted to serve the commandments of capital, to justify and perpetuate the oppressive relations in society and the world as a whole, and to reinforce the dominating position of the already powerful."

One of the most significant things we have learned so far is that the more we are completely outrageous and yet eminently reasonable, the better.

Let me say that again: completely outrageous... and yet eminently reasonable.

The more we have been able to provocatively challenge the pillars of anti-communist so-called authority while at the same time backing those challenges up with substance and counterposing a far greater vision for humanity's future... the better. This is very different than incrementally grooowiinnnggg a moooovement.

When you sharply and radically challenge institutional anti-communist pillars, you reveal and clarify the polarization that exists. You create a situation where students can't just continue to go along as they did before—they increasingly have to decide if they want to defend those pillars or be a part of challenging them, and this means they have to think about and rethink things they used to take for granted. This is the kind of situation where those fighting for the truth and for the highest interests of humanity can increasingly gain advantage.

Anyone who attended Raymond Lotta's talks, for example, will recall the audible gasp and nervous laughter that followed his damning exposure of the LIES that are given a scholarly gloss by people like Roderick MacFarquhar of Harvard University, who are considered major authorities on communist revolutions. Students who were so confident on their way in to the event that Raymond Lotta was exaggerating when he said, "EVERYTHING you've been told about communism is wrong" were shaken. Then they have to ask themselves, "If one of the most respected and widely cited authorities in academia was peddling lies and no one was challenging him... how deep did it go?"

At the University of Chicago students were busy googling "Bob Avakian" on their iPhones during the presentation or trying to look up new statistics to try to stump Raymond. The more he exposed, the harder they tried and the harder they tried, the more he exposed. And where did that leave people? One student wrote, "If all your facts and predictions are true, I think I agree with you. But I am wary of human nature, practically." Another student told us she now realized that she'd never investigated what she'd been taught about communism and now she had a lot of new reading to do.

Even if people go into this reading and debate with the aim of proving we are wrong—reality is reality and communism has been profoundly liberating and will be even more so in the future due to Bob Avakian's new synthesis—and people who are honest will increasingly have to confront this. Besides, if we are wrong in any element of our understanding, we are not afraid of that—we want to know that and welcome being held to those standards.

We saw some of this as well in Carl Dix's tour, "From Buffalo Soldier to Revolutionary Communist," where he took on people's illusions about Obama and, drawing from his own life story and transformation, posed instead a revolutionary way out for Black people and all of humanity.

And we saw this approach—of being completely outrageous and yet eminently reasonable—in something as simple as the title of the tour Sunsara Taylor did, "From the Burkha to the Thong: Everything Must, and Can, Change—WE NEED TOTAL REVOLUTION!" When students and professors all over the country began raising, "Who is she who grew up in this country to criticize the burkha?" she did not seek to avoid this controversy, but instead took it head on, incorporating a polemic on this in her speech and then—as you can watch on YouTube—being eager to take this on when people came to her event to argue for the veil.

People were attracted to this and inspired by this and whatever they thought they couldn't get it out of their heads and were debating it for days. Along with this, they were attracted and inspired by the fact that Sunsara Taylor was confidently putting forward a solution to this madness, and was recruiting people into a movement for revolution that welcomes women's anger and impatience and is modeling a whole different morality NOW.

There are young people on these campuses who are searching for a way to contribute to changing the world—but they don't think communism is the way to do it. If we are going to provoke them to not only rethink but to get into this—we need to build on and do even better at both hitting hard at their deeply held assumptions in ways that cannot be easily dismissed and speaking to people's highest aspirations.

So, this workshop on the students and youth needs to get into these lessons and how we can go even further with this approach, and it needs to grapple with how do we do something we haven't done thus far—really get a dynamic going where people from among the most oppressed sections of society are coming onto the campuses and mixing it up and these students who are starting to get into the revolution are coming out into the neighborhoods and learning from the people there and helping spread the revolution.

And this approach of being completely outrageous and eminently reasonable must infuse this campaign as a whole.

One key nodal point in this will be the U.S. Social Forum to be held June 22-26 in Detroit. Many thousands of people who crave a better world will be attending and yet, they too, are filled with anti-communist assumptions. Various writers for Revolution newspaper will be holding workshops ranging from the environment to a debate over sex work, to the real truth about communism, and more. This is also taking place in the city where 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones was just murdered by police, and at a time when the horrific oil spill will still be going on. All this means we want to go in there and really stir things up and introduce many people to this revolution and this campaign but most of all the fact that we have a solution to all this, we know the way out, and we are recruiting people into the movement for this revolution NOW.

We're going to be doing the same thing on some of the concert tours going on this summer. And, of course, this is going to be controversial. But, look—the only people who are afraid of controversy, who want to seek to avoid controversy, are the people who think that the way things are going right now is just fine. The way people are thinking is just fine. The ways they are acting is just fine. The massive crimes being done to the people all over the world and to the planet itself are just fine. I'm sorry, that's not acceptable!

Making Bob Avakian a Household Word

Next, I want to get into the biggest strength that we have: our Chairman, Bob Avakian.

The second objective of this campaign—and one that has a tremendous amount of dynamism and frankly defines the character of the other two objectives—is to make Bob Avakian truly a household name, someone whose work and talks and life story are being broadly debated and deeply engaged. Someone whose existence is known by millions and who people have an opinion about. Someone whose reputation and mystique is both a force of attraction and inspiration as well as opposition, even fierce opposition.

Really pushing Bob Avakian out there in a big way—and really struggling with people who are provoked by the idea of revolution to get deeply into his work—this is going to make a critical difference in accomplishing all three of these goals. And here I want to reference everything that was in the speech yesterday—about who Bob Avakian is... the role he has played... and the role he is playing... and say that we all have to continue to get an ever more deeper grounding in this, learning more, even as we are very aggressively popularizing him.

First, I want to talk about this incredible new image.

Obviously, this is HOT. This is intriguing. This is challenging. This is celebratory. This has an edge. This is SERIOUS. This is clearly something going on.

Implicit within this image is the fact that this leader is of a caliber that belongs on a shirt. And that the people who are into this leader are not pleading with you to [meek voice] "maybe... please think about what he is saying... if you don't mind... and if it doesn't offend you"... but are making a statement: "This is the shit—if you don't know, you better go find out." It's a radical challenge.

Imagine this image bubbling up from the underground—really taking off in the youth culture this summer... popping up in unexpected places... imagine concerts where a third of the crowd is wearing this image and the rest are trying to figure out where to get one... imagine kids leaving eager to be the first among their friends to show up in this new shirt... Imagine those who have felt too alone until now starting to feel that they'd be hooking into a spreading counterculture. And it's not just a "counterculture" that is alienated with the world the way it is, but a counterculture aiming to become the dominant culture that upends the way the world is.

And yes, there will be polarization with this as well—people who put on the shirt will come under attack, and some will take it off and we will have to struggle with them to put it back on again. But the question will be getting opened up and spreading. Many thousands will be getting on the internet and the question will emerge broadly as to what and who this is all about.

And all this will synergize and interact with other ways people are running into this campaign—propelling them back into the statement or to check out the Revolution Talk online or to give money when they are asked or to come out to a bookstore.

Another key dimension of this work to make Bob Avakian known is BAsics. This is a back-pocket-size pamphlet coming out in early fall made up of 100 key powerful quotations from Bob Avakian, introducing people to this leader BA and giving them the BAsics of revolution. This will include concentrations of method and truth that are principles to live by and fight for, that provide a framework for understanding and changing the world, that provide a materialist source of inspiration and daring, that provoke and challenge, and provide a standard to measure everything and everyone by—including this Party and its leadership.

There will be promotion and ads for this publication and many of the people seeing the image will want to get their hands on it. It will be a major way into this revolution. And we want to raise the funds to send 2,000 copies of it into the prisons for free right away.

The third big component of the immediate plans around this second objective is the Revolution Talk by Bob Avakian. This really is a thorough revolutionary education—why the world is the way it is, how it can be radically transformed and emancipated through revolution and an introduction to the leader of this revolution.

One of the things that has been summed up in Revolution newspaper is that this talk hits people on a lot of levels. It is extremely accessible and there is a lot people can get right off the bat, but also, what he is saying is outside people's thinking... it is challenging and they need to do the work to get into the whole thing...

One person told us that they had to watch the talk three times to really begin to understand it. It was just too much and too different from anything he'd ever heard for him to even really take it in the first two times. But when he finally made it through the third time he felt he was beginning to understand the world and appreciate this leader in a whole different way. Another person wrote in to our paper and admitted that the first time they watched the "Imagine" section of that talk, it struck them as just another politician promising things—until they went through the entire film and spent additional hours talking it over with others, they really didn't begin to see how he wasn't just promising, he was laying out something that there was a material basis for and how it could be accomplished and why it must be.

So, we need to be getting this Revolution Talk out everywhere—on palm cards and posters, showing it outdoors in parks all summer, and making a really big deal on a whole other level about this talk online. And as we go very broadly, we also have to be challenging people to not make a facile judgment—but to really go through it deeply.

Now, I made the point that Bob Avakian is the greatest strength that we have. Not surprisingly, Bob Avakian and our promotion of him has also provoked the greatest, and the most stubborn, controversy. But this kind of controversy can actually be very positive. Wrapped up in this controversy are the key questions that people are going to have to grapple with and work through in order to come to a revolutionary stand. Do the masses of people actually need to make the kind of total change we are talking about, that is to say, do they need to make revolution? Do we need leadership to do this—and if so, what kind of leadership? And why is Bob Avakian's leadership in particular—in particular, the new synthesis he has forged of communism and his method and approach—so absolutely crucial to making revolution... and keeping it a revolution worth making? So finding the ways to provoke this kind of controversy and, once provoked, to jump into this—this is something that we all need to be putting our heads to.

So I want to clear something up. The people who are saying these things about there being a cult around BA—well, this accusation isn't original. This accusation isn't original. All this is is mainly the voice and the strength of the bourgeoisie that has been hammered into people for decades being given voice through the people themselves.

Now some of the people who say this stuff about a cult DO know better, and they are just counter-revolutionaries. But most of the people saying these things don't have even a clue what they are talking about. They haven't watched the whole Revolution Talk and really worked to wrap their minds around it. They didn't wrestle with the Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, where Avakian's contributions are laid out in their world-historic context. They haven't read BA's memoir to get a sense of what his life has been and continues to be about.

No. They are just repeating anti-communist "conventional wisdom." And this conventional wisdom is shaped by—and reinforces—the horrors of this world, the very world that you correctly want to see changed. A lot of you read the resolutions on leadership put out by our Party coming into this, and the commentary that went with that.2 These actually speak very deeply and very boldly to these questions, and I want to suggest to everyone that we return to these, using them ourselves and going over with them with others who have this question.

And we need to be very clear in answering when people say that we shouldn't promote Bob Avakian so much, for whatever reason. We should just tell them: Given what we understand about what BA actually represents, what he has brought forward and the role he plays, and what this means for the masses of people, not only in this country but throughout the world, and for the future of humanity, it would be HIGHLY IRRESPONSIBLE if we DID NOT promote BA as fully as we could. In fact, the real problem is not that we are promoting BA too much, but on the contrary that we have not yet been able to do nearly enough to promote him; and this is something we are setting out to change in major way, like it says in the Message and Call.

And we should tell them this too: everyone who comes to understand what we understand about this should also contribute whatever they can to this effort. If you don't have that understanding, but you get on a basic level the importance of what he's doing, then you should contribute what you can to making him and his work much more widely known; and at the same time, you should more deeply engage with what we are saying about BA, and with his body of work and method and approach.

If you are proceeding from humanity's need to get free it can ONLY be a good thing that there is a leader who has solved or pointed the way towards solving the biggest problems of the revolution.

If you are proceeding from humanity's need to get free—you will be EAGER to get into this leader.

Now some people think they are being really clever and say things like, "I don't want to hear what BA has to say... I want to hear what YOU have to say."

Okay, so picture back in the day, someone coming up to you and saying—holy shit man, you gotta hear this guy, he does this stuff on the guitar that will totally blow your mind... no one's ever heard anything like this before. His name is Jimi Hendrix.

Would it really be appropriate for you to say, "Well, I don't want to hear how Hendrix plays the guitar, I want to hear YOU play"?

Obviously, the whole idea is absurd. There are people who are just better at certain things—and you have to check THEM out.

And yeah, I get that we are making revolution—and this is different than playing rock and roll and it's important that other people be able to get into and break down the science of revolution and be part of applying it. But there ARE people like that—there is a whole Party that went through a Cultural Revolution and has taken up the framework BA has developed and is out applying it and fighting for it in the world. But the point is, to the degree we are doing this—it's because we've gotten deeply into BA. And, he is still head and shoulders ahead of us—and that is a very good thing.

But for those of you who are newer—you don't have to be able to break down everything the way BA does. It's fine to tell people, I am still learning about this myself—but I know enough to know I have to get into it and that you should too.

Then there are people who say things like, "You act like Bob Avakian has the answer."

Well, find out. Has he developed breakthrough answers to very sharply posed and crucial questions of making revolution? And, beyond that, has BA further developed the scientific communist method for continuing work to develop answers to still further questions...while continuing to put these questions out there for others to grapple with, too, in the ongoing process of understanding and radically transforming the world?

And let's be real. You don't determine whether or not he does, you don't determine whether anything is true or not, by taking a poll—do your friends all agree or not. You determine what is true by going deeply into it—and measuring it up against reality.

No one would take you seriously if you saw one high school production of one Shakespeare play and started passing facile verdicts on his entire body of work. Well, the work that is concentrated in this talk is much more challenging and much more exhilarating than that and we need to be very upfront on setting the standard broadly that you actually have to get deeply into this. So... GET INTO BA!

Everyone needs the space to go through this and engage it at their own pace—but not the space to refuse to pursue this.

Those of us who are fighting for this need to know the difference—so I am going to say that again:

Everyone needs the space to go through this and engage it at their own pace—but not the space to refuse to pursue this.

Now, I want to speak directly to anyone in this room who is still up against this yourself—if this question of the so-called cult is still tugging at you:

Don't turn your back on the fact that you finally found a movement and a leader that not only speaks more powerfully than anything you've heard before about how completely intolerable this present world is, but also how unnecessary it is. A movement and a leader that poses a way out that has inspired and moved you. Sure, you don't yet know for sure that it can work. Sure, you don't know that it won't somehow go bad despite people's good intentions. Fine, you don't know. But that's exactly the point: you don't know. But you were attracted to this for a good reason and before you turn your back on the things that compelled you to get this far, before you turn your back on the chance that humanity can actually be led out of this hellhole of a world, before you turn your back on the opportunity—and, yes, your responsibility—to contribute to that, you had better go deeply into it.

There is a place where epistemology meets morality, and not acting on what you know to be true—and not pursuing something that holds the potential to liberate all of humanity to find out whether or not it really is true—just because you don't like the potential ramifications to you and your life, because it is unpopular or risky or because it goes against the tide—is immoral and unacceptable.

As it says in the Party's statement, "It is up to us to get with this leadership... to find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he heads... to learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the world... to build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the core... to 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."

Revolution Newspaper

Revolution newspaper is the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party and it is the collective organizer of the whole movement for revolution. It lays bare the truth about what is developing in the world each week, it draws out the need for revolution from that, and it shows what such a revolution must be about and how it can be made. And as a big part of that it introduces people to Bob Avakian whose work is featured every week.

In line with all this, the paper and its website have a very critical role to play in this campaign. The more we make advances with this campaign, the more we put this revolution and Bob Avakian out in society—the MORE people are going to be turning to our newspaper, particularly online, to really find out about and get organized into this revolution.

The work to bring more volunteers into working on the paper, writing for it, fact checking for it, laying out the articles, doing research, giving feedback, and translating things into Spanish has been one of the very important seeds in this recent period and it needs to be built upon.

Soon, we will launch a new website for Revolution newspaper and we need to bring many more people into making this a vital and buzzing center for revolution and making this site increasingly known and debated over throughout the net. This website will be one of the main places people go when they decide to seek out this movement. And all of us must be able to increasingly go to this website and find the signs and the lessons of a growing movement for revolution being summed up and shared—through the Spreading Revolution and Communism section as well as in other ways.

This paper must much more become the scaffolding of the movement we are bringing into being. That means you, and people like you, voicing their ideas, writing on what you are learning, what we are accomplishing and what obstacles we are running into—so that we can all learn better and more quickly how to accomplish our objectives and advance the movement for revolution.

Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund and Overturning the Ban of Revolution

One of the most powerful examples of just how big a difference it makes for people to be systematically reading Revolution newspaper are the letters from the prisoners who subscribe and this brings me to the fourth workshop we are holding.

Now, before I get into this—let's just reground ourselves in what we are really talking about.

The prison system in this society is a concentration of everything ugly and wrong with this system. 2.3 million people are locked away in these dungeons. Think about that number. And think about what that means—1 out of every 8 young Black men is locked away like this. Whole generations of our youth in the inner cities grow up expecting to end up locked away and written off. Inside the walls is like a nightmare world of brutality, rape, humiliation and torture—from the guards and to the way that prisoners are set against each other by race, by rival gangs, by fundamentalists of all stripes who prey on and reinforce people's ignorance, machismo and fear. Tens of thousands driven to insanity in solitary confinement—ongoing conditions that meet and exceed the international standards of torture. These plantations of concrete and steel are made to erase and to break whole sections of people—think what that says about this system... and think what it means that even in the darkest cells in the most inhuman conditions there are prisoners who have risen above this muck and mire. Prisoners who have defied everything this system has done to them and tried to turn them into—and instead dared to lift their heads and get into Revolution. Who have learned through the pages of Revolution about all this system has kept hidden—from the science of evolution to the science of revolution and the incredible resource and inspiration of the leader of this revolution, Bob Avakian.

And think what it means that when given the opportunity to contribute to this movement for revolution, when asked to write in to this newspaper from behind the walls, we were flooded with hundreds of letters—of these human beings struggling in the most inhuman of conditions to give whatever they could to the revolutionary fight to emancipate all of humanity. Do we really get just how precious this is?

Do we get how unconscionable it would be to allow this to be snuffed out—for this connection between these prisoners and this movement for revolution and this leader to be cut off? And do we get how powerful this can become—how this is a seed not only of a revolutionary movement that can grow in the prisons but the impact this can have throughout society if it is known about and its influence spread?

The workshop on the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund needs to take up many dimensions of this fight: the legal battle, forming mass committees, and an idea that is already in development of staging theatrical readings across the country of the letters from prisoners.

But a critical dynamic of this fight is something our Party has referred to as: revolution, counter-revolution, more revolution. That is, how do we take this attack and not only turn it around—but do so in a way that draws many more people into this revolutionary process? How do we make this ban become something that Mao Tsetung described as a great big rock the other side picked up to hurl at us, only to drop on its own foot?

Let's take up this fight in a way that introduces all of society to these revolutionary prisoners and to the paper and leader that they are connecting to.


The other workshop topic and goal I want to discuss is Fundraising.

This is a big part of our plans—it needs to be if we are not going to stay on the margins.

At one of Sunsara Taylor's events, someone in the audience asked—how can you be a communist and claim to be against capitalism but yet you ask for money?

Well, here's the answer: this revolution is not about modeling a new lifestyle or trying to make a statement about how committed we are or just removing ourselves from capitalist structures (as if that were possible). NO! The point is to seize state power and radically change the whole world and nothing less than that! That's what this campaign is for and we mean to win it. This means raising BIG MONEY so we can have BIG IMPACT.

And we need to take this up with EVERYBODY. Look, there is still too much of an attitude that some people don't have money so we can't ask them and that other people have money and so by definition won't be interested in the revolution. Not correct. Yes, this system has people scrambling and hustling to survive, but these people are capable of grasping that there is something bigger here. There was a write-up on Spreading Revolution and Communism about a team that raised money in the projects not by asking people to only give what didn't hurt them, but by telling them why it mattered, giving them a vision of the campaign. Off this, even people who didn't agree with everything pulled out bills because they could see that this important effort needed support from people like them.

And, there are many, many people of greater means who have deep dissatisfaction with the world, with the lack of intellectual ferment and radical imagination, with the horrible acquiescence in society... people who do aspire for more and better, and who need to be struggled with but also given a way to contribute to this.

When people give money it has a real impact. Whether or not we can make reams of stickers for the youth, whether we can put T-shirts on promotional teams at concerts and tours over the summer, whether or not people feel that this is bigger than us and them, bigger than the projects they live in, bigger than one city, this is part of a nationwide effort that is aiming to seriously impact the whole world and they can be part of that. It is not every day that people get the chance to do something like this. In fact, most have never had this opportunity in their lives. People can grasp this and contribute to it. They are needed and we shouldn't sell them short by not asking, not struggling with them, not giving them the opportunity to contribute in this meaningful way to the campaign.

Besides, fundraising is a way for people to get organized—and to take part in the revolution with others in a way that breaks the isolation and grows the revolutionary culture. This includes high-level salons in people's homes and it includes making a big revolutionary celebration out of the anti-4th of July fundraising picnics we have planned across the country. Everybody we meet through our efforts at saturation should be invited to these picnics and we should start making a really big deal about them everywhere we go—letting people know that they'll be a place to meet others who are getting into this and to together raise the money to help REALLY put this on the map in an even greater way.

Objective Developments

Finally, I want to step back from the workshops and even from the campaign as such and talk for a minute about the larger objective world.

This campaign is to build a movement for revolution to really impact and change the whole world. It is not a self-contained process—and we need to be interacting with the quickly and sometimes sharply changing larger world.

Things like the police killing of Aiyana Jones in Detroit, or the Nazi anti-immigrant laws in Arizona or the BP oil spill still gushing in the Gulf of Mexico or Afghanistan surge or something like the assassination of abortion provider George Tiller one year ago this weekend—what is our attitude when these things erupt?

Do we tell ourselves and tell the masses, "This just proves we've been right to be fighting the good fight and we'll keep it up..."?

Do we freak out and say, "Oh shit, I was already behind on the 27 things I am supposed to be doing and can't deal with one more"?

Or, do we act like revolutionaries and communists and people who can't wait for the world to fundamentally change? Do we recognize in these crimes the moments when it is both necessary and possible to lead the masses to stand up against these outrages and to fight the power and transform the people FOR REVOLUTION? Do we see the need and the increased basis to pose our revolutionary aims and objectives to thousands or even millions?

Do we jump in the car with as many other people as we can rustle up—as Carl Dix recently did after the police murder of Aiyana Jones—and drive all night to be out in Detroit, standing with the people in their righteous outrage and insisting, "The days when this system can just keep on doing what it does to people, here and all over the world... when people are not inspired and organized to stand up against these outrages and to build up the strength to put an end to this madness... those days must be GONE. And they CAN be."

Do we grasp how much seething anger there is among the basic people over this police terror—and are we straining to bring forward the necessary resistance and to forge increasing sections of the basic people, and the basic oppressed youth in particular, into the backbone of this revolution?

Do we recognize the potential, right now, to bring forward a section of truly radical young women and men who are completely fed up around the increasing assaults on women's rights and their lives—from the brutal and perverse portrayals of women as objects to be plundered and tortured and thrown away that saturate society to the increasing criminalization of and shame on abortion and even birth control. Are we stepping into this with urgent and revolutionary outrage as well as bringing forward a powerful contending vision and liberating morality that corresponds to total revolution?

Do we see openings in these flashpoints to pose a contending revolutionary legitimacy and alternate authority, the specter of a new state power that would do away with these outrages and a movement for revolution concretely struggling to get closer to that day—up against the completely illegitimate and unjust authority of this capitalist ruling power?

Are we constantly posing to the masses of people, "We need state power! State power representing, rooted in and mobilizing the masses, led by their vanguard which could right away put an end to the worst of these outrages. We have the understanding and leadership to lead the masses to both hold onto this new state power, preventing the overthrown exploiters as well as new capitalist forces from restoring this imperialist nightmare, while unleashing a process that is full of mass participation and struggle, ferment and space to go to work at overcoming the backward attitudes and relations and thinking that take more time."

And are we constantly ourselves grappling with the contradictions—as well as the method and framework for resolving those contradictions that has been developed by this Party and its leadership—that come with state power? An important thing to take note of in this regard is that soon the RCP will be publishing a new constitution of the future socialist state. This is something we are all going to want to dig into and make a really big deal out of—it will be a means for popularizing and making even more real for all of us what this new state power will mean.

The final point I want to make is that, in every thing we do, we need to make a real leap in really doing what it says in the end of the Party's Message and Call—"giving people the means to become part of this movement, and organizing into this movement everyone who wants to make a contribution to it, who wants to work and fight, to struggle and sacrifice, not to keep this nightmare of a world going as it is but to bring a better world into being."

We need to be much better in quickly following up with people we meet, learning what they think, getting them into the Revolution Talk, finding ways for them to contribute and not giving up on them or writing them off if they don't come forward in a straight line. It is not possible to know in advance where each person will end up. Again, the more that we grasp this campaign as a campaign that is building a movement for revolution—and the more we let people know that is what it is—the more we will be able to find many different ways of involving many different people.

All of the workshops should discuss this question of how we are bringing people—particularly people from among the basic proletarian masses—into this movement for revolution. Every workshop should also get into how this Message and Call fits into its work, how each element contributes to—and is strengthened by—the fight to make Bob Avakian a household name, how we will be raising money through all of our work and how each of these elements being focused on fits into and contributes to the campaign as a whole.

So, I have gone through a lot of lessons and some vision of plans and some of this I have done in quite a lot of detail. But it's important that, even as we are dealing with a lot of details and making a lot of plans, we do not lose sight of the forest for the trees.

The trees are important—but the forest is the whole new world we are fighting to bring into being. This is a world where never again does a Black family have to bury their 7-year-old child after the police murder her and then brutalize and lie about her family. A world where a hero like George Tiller, who courageously risked his life to enhance women's lives, is not demonized, hunted down and killed—but celebrated, cherished and joined by many more. A world where the warnings of scientists are not ignored and suppressed, and the natural environment is not destroyed in the deadly competition for ever greater profit.

As the Message and Call puts it, "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."


1. Raymond Lotta has been on a speaking tour, "Everything You've Been Told About Communism Is Wrong, Capitalism Is a Failure, Revolution Is the Solution." [back]

2. The 1995 Leadership Resolutions on Leaders and Leadership. Part I: The Party Exists for No Other Reason than to Serve the Masses, to Make Revolution (; Part II: Some Points on the Question of Revolutionary Leadership and Individual Leaders ( [back]

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Revolution Interview

A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports, and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

Robert Perkinson: Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire

Robert Perkinson is a professor of American Studies at University of Hawaii and the author of Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2008), a sweeping history of the U.S. prison system from slavery time to the present, with a particular focus on Texas. Revolution talked with Perkinson after a recent New York City book release event at Revolution Books.


Part 1: The Long Shadow of Slavery

Revolution: Your book goes deeply into the history and the current reality of the vengeful model of prisons in Texas. Can you give our readers some context and overview of what you lay out in your work?

Robert Perkinson: Texas is the most locked-down state in the most incarcerated country in the world. There has never been a nominally democratic country that has incarcerated such a great portion of its citizenry. And Texas has really been at the epicenter of that counterrevolutionary change that has swept American society over the last 40 years. We now have 2.4 million people in prison; 170,000 of them are in Texas, more than any other state. The promise, however fleeting, of rehabilitation has largely collapsed in our prisons and jails; they really are warehouses for the poor and the mentally ill and those addicted to drugs—those on the margins of society. My book looks at the whole sweep of American history, and the whole sweep of the prison and its entwinement both with politics and economy. It argues that the traditional history of the prison that typically tells a story rooted in the Northeast, a story of "good intentions gone awry," is really less important than the Southern story—which is not a story of good intentions gone awry but of bad intentions gone worse. Whereas in the North penitentiaries were built ostensibly to rehabilitate, in the South they were built to punish, to exploit labor, and to further solidify the racial divide. It is that model of imprisonment that has really come to the fore in our time.

Revolution: You write in the book that "in the realm of punishment, all roads lead to Texas." Your work is an in-depth examination of why that is, starting from the slave state days of Texas, and even before, and this is well worth studying. But can you draw out in broad strokes what you mean by "all roads lead to Texas"?

Robert Perkinson: There are two reasons why I think Texas provides the most illuminating case study of mass imprisonment. One is that it is the biggest, baddest system in the country. There are more people being executed, more people behind bars generally, more people in supermax isolation, more people in for-profit facilities than in any other state. It is also very much an embodiment of the Southern model of incarceration, so that most of its prison infrastructure is built on former slave plantations, precisely in the counties that had the greatest portion of slaves before emancipation. So the prison infrastructure very much grew out of the ruins of slavery, kind of phoenix-like.

But there is another reason too. You can find equal harshness and as prominent, if not more prominent, ties to the history of slavery in Louisiana or Mississippi, but the difference with Texas is that it has really had national political influence in a way that more backwater states, like Mississippi and Louisiana, never have had. By the latter half of the 20th century, Texas had perfected the plantation model of punishment, such that it became a conservative counterpart to the liberal, supposedly beneficent California regime. And as the country swung to the right politically, after the collapse of the Great Society, and after the war, and after the urban rebellions of the '60s, that Texas model became a template for the nation. So whereas policy makers and penologists had previously looked to Texas as kind of an anachronistic, throwback to the old South, it started to become not a backwater, but a beacon. And other states started following and copying Texas' focus on labor, cost-cutting, and exacting military-style discipline. All prisons are authoritarian, but really Texas was more totalitarian. So I argue that it really led the way in this punitive counterrevolution in American politics and penology.

Revolution: Can you get more into what you're raising about a link to slavery? In a section subtitled "The Long Shadow of Slavery," you note that while there are clear differences between literal enslavement and prisons, that "Texas prisons carried forth many of slavery's core practices and cultural traditions."

Robert Perkinson: Well, there are two ways that the ghosts of slavery live on in Texas politics and prisons. Most concretely you see it in the rhythms of daily life and the disciplinary practices of the institutions themselves. The form of labor organization under slavery was the gang-task system: there would be a white driver, sometimes even a slave driver, and then there would be a gang of workers that would go out to the fields to fill a certain quota over the course of the day. That style of labor fell apart and was replaced by sharecropping and tenancy in the South after the emancipation, and it survived only in Southern prisons—that's the only place that you still see that form of labor organization. (To a certain extent you still see gang-task labor management in some proletarianized, really harsh corporate farms in California, and some other places with disenfranchised immigrant field workers, but it has its purest forms in these prisons). So you still see long lines of, mostly African American, convicts being led out of the cotton fields by an armed white man on horseback, every morning before dawn; and they work essentially from dawn to dusk. The labor is less exhausting than it was before federal courts began intervening in the 1970s, but that is still very much a facet of the whole ethos of the prison. These prisons are all built on slavery blueprints.

We see traces of slavery in the rhythms of daily life and in prison culture as well: the time that meals are served (in accord with field conditions), the deferential and demeaning nomenclature, the insular rural white guard culture—passed down from father to son, and over the generations, from slave driver to corrections officer. So in a sense these prisons are cultural preserves, almost living museums in a perverse sense.

But the other way is in politics. First, it's important to dispel a common misperception: To a surprising extent there is very little correlation between how we deal with criminal punishment and prisons, and crime on the streets. There is very little correlation between rising crime rates and rising imprisonment rates. Sometimes they correlate, other times they don't at all. What really governs how we manage our prisons is politics, and in particular, racial politics (and to a somewhat lesser degree, class politics). What I found is that Texas' racialized prison politics took shape during slavery and has never escaped its shadow.

Finally, there's another way that history stretching back to slavery helps us understand the U.S. prison state. In the book, I argue that mass imprisonment represents an echo of what happened after Reconstruction. After emancipation, during the period of Reconstruction, there was this moment of flourishing Black freedom in American life—building churches, building schools, getting elected to office, integrating public facilities. And that was smashed by both a federal withdrawal of troops and protection and the formation of a terrorist militia, led by the Ku Klux Klan, that established Jim Crow segregation and lynching and convict leasing that endured for another century.

So there was this expansion and then a constriction of freedom, and what I argue is that we see the same thing happened after the Civil Rights movement. There is this flourishing of liberty with the Black Civil Rights freedom movement, so we see the whole infrastructure of Jim Crow segregation collapse, which was an astonishing accomplishment. But out of the rubble of that collapse, a new white conservatism emerged that turned not to segregation, but to the politics of law and order to govern this new integrated social order that conservatives had feared and fought against. And so you see the same jurisdictions that fought against integration most avidly have become our most avid jailers. In the same period that segregation statutes were swept from the books in Texas, for instance, you see drug penalties being ramped up, more resources being given to law enforcement, new prisons being constructed. It became the way the new conservative movement coped with integration, by this massive, police response. And we see obvious manifestations of that in the drug war, in the crack cocaine disparities, and the way politicians, like in the Willy Horton ads, were so effective against Mike Dukakis. But it's that politics of fear led by the right with the collusion of the Democrats, that has created a prison nation.

Revolution: In relation to the point about the prison boom as a response to the upsurges of the '60s, you cite a 1968 quote from H.R. Haldeman, Richard Nixon's top aide: "[the president said] that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognized this while not appearing to."

Robert Perkinson: I argue that the law-and-order response to desegregation really began with conservative Southern Democrats—the Strom Thurmonds of the world. They warned—if you go back and look at their quotes in the 1950s—that integration was going to unleash a terrifying crime wave, and they demanded a tough police response. So the reactionary Southern Democrats are the ones that really began this.

But then, pretty quickly the smartest strategists in the Republican Party realized that the Democratic Party was vulnerable. The Dems had this rock-solid hold on the South with an unwieldy coalition that included everyone from Black sharecroppers to white supremacists plantation owners. These folks were all voting in the same party (to the extent that Blacks were allowed to vote), and the GOP realized that as the Democrats were embracing the cause of civil rights, they could lose the support of angry anxious white voters, especially if Republicans made appeals in the idiom of law and order. Barry Goldwater was really the pioneer in that regard, copying the strategy first laid out by George Wallace.

Richard Nixon, then, was the first person that rode this "Southern Strategy" to power. He is the first person that really broke apart the Democratic coalition in the South, and began turning white southerners to the Republican Party, and that is now where they almost all reside. So that is in some ways what Nixon was talking about—he realized that a critical part of his electoral appeal was to harvest angry, often racist, conscious or unconscious, white voters; but in the post-Civil Rights era, you could no longer do that with crass racist demagoguery, you had to come up with a new way of appealing to that electorate.

Revolution: Aside from electoral strategies, there was a felt need at the top of the power structure to reverse what came out of the '60s.

Robert Perkinson: Yes, so it was real too. Crime rates were going up in the 1960s—even more than they were going up, the report of them were going up, because the government was keeping closer track. So it seemed that crime was going up even faster than it actually was. Like you say, the civil rights movement had achieved its immediate legal goals and...

Revolution: ...was growing into the Black liberation movement.

Robert Perkinson: Right, so there was a sort of radical wing of the Civil Rights movement, and people also started to talk about economic and social justice, not just civil rights. All of which was very threatening to those with economic and social power. So there was also this desire to ramp up law enforcement in response to the Black Panthers in particular, as a kind of domestic counterinsurgency. And this is really the era of global revolution too, so in their minds the Black Panthers, and the Viet Cong, and the Mau Mau, and all these radical organizations around the world, were swept into this—what they imagined to be this kind of communist boogie-man that they needed to repress by any means necessary.

Revolution: And this has had devastating consequences, especially in the oppressed communities and in particular Black and Latino youth.

Robert Perkinson: Well, the other thing that happens at the same time during this period is that as the right comes to power, the right slowly begins chipping away at the already anemic social welfare state, and that has had a particularly injurious effect on those at the bottom, and particularly Black Americans. We saw all of these tax policy changes during the Reagan administration that favored the wealthy and ultimately favored whites over Blacks, so at the same time that African Americans are being targeted by the drug war, intentionally or not, and being incarcerated in higher numbers, they are also being harmed as a general group by the whole gamut of economic policies. So we've gone from a helping hand style government to a closed fist—from carrots to sticks, from the Great Society to the Mean Society. There is a whole transformation, and that has had huge effects, even though by many measures the U.S. is so much less racist and much more tolerant now, than it was in say 1950. I mean, attitudes about interracial marriage and dating, and some of our superstars in sports and even our president have backgrounds that would have been unfathomable a century ago. Yet in some ways, especially by economic measures and most starkly of all by criminal justice measures, racism is alive and well. Racial division in some ways is as bad, almost, as it had ever been in the 20th century, certainly as bad as it has been anytime since the 1920s. There is a new study just out that the disparity in family wealth between Blacks and whites has quadrupled in the last 20 years. The racial disparities in criminal justice have almost doubled over the last 40 years. In some ways America is dispensing less equal rights now than before the civil rights movement, which is a pretty astonishing development.

Part 2: Warehousing of Prisoners and Dreams of Freedom

Revolution: What is the current situation with prison labor?

Robert Perkinson: If you go read prisoner memoirs from Northern prisons all through the 19th and 20th centuries, idleness is one of their central complaints. It's rarely a complaint that Texan or other Southern prisoners made, because they were worked to the bone, in very much the same style and with the same work quotas as had slaves. First, after the Civil War, they were worked for about half a century for private profit—almost all prisoners in the system, white and Black, were worked by private contractors, often to death, with African American prisoners being worked much harder and having higher work quotas than whites and sent to harsher work sites. And then when the states took over the system, around the turn of the century, that focus on labor exploitation as a way to cut costs and make the prison system almost—"self-sustaining" is the catch word that politicians used—continued all the way through the 20th century. And it only began to fall with the tremendous expansion of the system and federal court intervention in the late 20th century.

Now in the 21st century, they have had to build so many prisons—it went from like 20 prisons to 112 that they have in Texas now—a lot of them are just kind of concrete warehouses set up anywhere where the land is cheap. So the tradition of labor exploitation has finally begun to collapse into a warehousing regime, just within the last few years.

Revolution: While there is academic rigor in your research, you're also clearly passionate about this subject matter. How did you get into this area of study?

Robert Perkinson: I started working as an activist in college, working on all sorts of different causes in the '80s against the U.S. wars in Central America, against apartheid, against nuclear weapons. But I started noticing that every few weeks a new prison was opening, and the prison budget in some states was surpassing the higher education budget. More and more people were getting arrested for low-level drug possession, and more were going to prison for it. I started getting interested in that as a symptom of what was going wrong with the U.S. generally. So I started working as an activist—I did a conference on the drug war, and worked on the Mumia Abu-Jamal case for a while. And then in grad school I decided to take this on as a serious area of study.

I thought I would work on private prisons at first, but then finally when I started really reading, I decided what we really needed is to have a broad historical understanding of where this monster came from, in order hopefully to slay it. And so my hope is that, by illuminating the racial and fear-laden politics of prison politics, organizational strategies to try to change it will become more clear. My sense is that it is going to take not just tinkering around the edges, and technocratic fixes, or new studies showing we can save monies by this or that—rather, in the same way that this is a big change in American history, it is a big obstacle and it is going to take a lot to change it. In some ways I feel like it took a Civil War to end slavery, it took the Civil Rights movement to end Jim Crow segregation, and it will probably require another Civil Rights movement in order to transform the U.S. prison system.

Revolution: What is your view of the concept of the "prison-industrial complex," which is widely put forward?

Robert Perkinson: Yes, I used that term a lot as an activist. And it has been something that is kind of a very short phrase that encapsulates a critique of the criminal justice system. But the more that I started research and formulation of my own critique, I realized that it might encapsulate a critique in a slightly deceiving way. The suggestion with that term and its allusion to the military industrial complex—which itself was a term to try to explain the oversized influence of defense contractors on U.S. foreign policy and military spending—the presumption is that the profit motive and corporate greed, and for-profit prisons companies in particular, and to a lesser extent contractors and banks issuing prison bonds and so on, that they are really a driving force in the rise of mass imprisonment in the United States. I think all of that is a contributing force, but I don't find it credible that it is a driving force, because most of the economic forces in play are present in other countries of similar economies to the U.S., and there has been no comparable prison build-up elsewhere. We also see tremendous growth rates of imprisonment even in states where there is no private imprisonment, California notably.

So what I think we really have is more of a prison racist complex. And the suggestion in that term is that what we need to change is the poisonous racial politics in the United States. That is what needs to change for imprisonment politics to change. Whereas in the prison industrial complex, there is this supposition that if you could take the profit motive out of incarceration that somehow this system would teeter and collapse, and I don't think that is quite right.

Revolution: Increasingly in the prisons, as in society generally, fundamentalist Christianity is put forward as a so-called "alternative" to the dog-eat-dog mentality that's fostered by the prison system itself. What have you learned through your studies about this phenomenon in the prisons?

Robert Perkinson: Christianity has played a conflicted role in the history of prisons. On the one hand a lot of the prison reform movements, especially in the North but also in the South, have been led by Christian organizations preaching the ethic of mercy and forgiveness and helping those who are less fortunate. On the other hand, the Southern model of conservative Christianity that developed hand-in-hand with slave-owning emphasized deferring worldly pleasure for the afterlife, as well as submitting to god in the spiritual world and to your master or boss or husband in your daily life. It is that strain of Christianity based on submission and deferred rewards for those on the bottom, that is ultimately comforting to those in power and that has really started to gain a lot of official sanction in a number of prison systems. In fact there are all these evangelical right-leaning prisons that are being set up across the country, amazingly with tax dollars—in effect, they are forced Christian indoctrination camps for unfree people, where you will be rewarded if you adopt this strict fundamentalist theology. I visited one of these in Texas, and it is actually quite a nice prison compared to some other prisons, because there are more resources and there are free people coming in, women as well as men, and there are singing groups. But the theology that is imposed is very rigid, very Talibanesque (the Christian version). It is not quite big enough to have had a huge impact, so it is still early to know what the legacy of that will be.

Revolution: Your book is among books and other publications that have been banned from Texas prisons. Why did they ban it?

Robert Perkinson: It is quite sad because a lot of the book is based on extensive interviews that I did with prisoners who very generously shared their time with me. I worked with my publisher to set aside copies for these prisoners, and now they can't read it. The stated reason for the ban is quite twisted. There is a section towards the beginning of the book where I talk about the high rates of previous sexual victimization among female inmates. I tell this story of one prisoner who was raped as a child, and in a sentence in her words, she describes what happened to her. So the box that they checked in their censorship form is that the book depicts indecency with a child, so they lumped it into the same category as child pornography, even though this was a critique of abuse of children.

Revolution: You dedicate your book to "My friends in prison and their dreams of freedom." How have your interactions with prisoners affected you?

Robert Perkinson: It has probably changed my ideas so much that I can't even identify it all. I was very lucky; to their credit Texas prison authorities gave me quite generous access—so I was able to talk to hundreds of people, sometimes in snippets of conversations and other times really in depth. Some of the prisoners I interviewed for extended periods have really become intellectuals, and I shared with them some of my writing or at least my ideas, and they would present their critique. I would say "this is how I think the system works," and they would write back and say "no, I think it works this way." So there was a lot of back and forth in the same way that I have with other university professors and criminal justice professionals. So a lot of the prisoners became not just research subjects, but intellectual collaborators in the project.

I have gotten a chance to meet some in the free world after their release, and I hope to see many more.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Needed: Mass Opposition to Attacks on Immigrants

July 29 is the day that Arizona's controversial anti-immigration law, SB 1070, is set to go into effect. The law makes it a crime to willfully be in Arizona without proof of legal status. Once the police have stopped someone, whatever the legal justification, it requires them to demand papers if they even suspect the person could be an undocumented immigrant. In effect, it legalizes racial profiling, exposing anyone and everyone to police interrogation and brutality if they "fit the description"—meaning they speak with an accent, have dark skin, dress in a certain way, or are found in the "immigrant" part of town.

This law will make the already precarious existence faced by undocumented immigrants even worse. People who yesterday faced being rounded up when they tried to search for work, shop for groceries, raise children, or just live in neighborhoods targeted for immigration sweeps, now must try to survive as virtual fugitives from the law—seen that way by neighbors, co-workers, or classmates who might turn them in at any time. If this doesn't make you think about the early stages of the Nazis' treatment of the Jews—it should.

The passage of SB 1070 sparked immediate outrage and alarm by people within Arizona and around the country. It has led to protests and civil disobedience, calls for boycotts of Arizona companies and sports teams, and even to official votes of condemnation by city governments and others.

The "Immigration Issue" and Conflicts in the Ruling Class

This system relies on, and has integrated into its functioning, a huge section of vulnerable, highly exploitable immigrant labor, the bulk of it from Mexico. It is an essential element enabling U.S. capital to successfully compete in the global economy. At the same time, U.S. imperialism has reached deep into Mexican society, dominating and twisting the economy to the point that millions can barely survive and see little choice but to head north in hopes of finding work and a chance to send money home to those remaining behind. As a result, there are now an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., working mainly in shit jobs for low pay, living in the margins and in many ways "living outside the law" as a fact of daily life.

There is widespread consensus in the ruling class that "the immigration system is broken." While there is agreement that a different system for dealing with the millions of undocumented immigrants is needed, there are sharp differences over what to do, reflecting differences over how much it threatens the country's social cohesion, and whether the proposed solutions will work or will end up causing even greater problems for the system.

SB 1070 has been crafted and championed by a hard core, right-wing section of the ruling class, and has become the rallying cry for everyone from leading Republicans to Tea Party activists to forces like the KKK and the open white supremacists. They see the character of the country—defined by its white domination and white privilege—being undermined by the changes that immigration has brought. The stated "intent" of the law is to bring about "attrition by enforcement," a form of ethnic cleansing aimed at forcing undocumented immigrants out of the state—and out of the country—by mobilizing every level of police authority to make life so unbearable, and the threat of deportation so pervasive, that people will simply pack up and flee. And these fascist forces see Arizona as just the first of many more efforts to put this program into effect. Similar legislation has been introduced in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and South Carolina, and many more states may follow suit.

Other sections of the ruling class, including those forces grouped around the Obama Administration and the Democrats generally, but also including some prominent figures in the Republican Party, see things like SB 1070 as a dangerous and risky course of action. They argue that trying to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country is not possible and would throw the entire U.S. economy—and society generally—into chaos. They worry that the openly reactionary nature of moves like SB 1070 risk unleashing upheaval and resistance both from the immigrants being targeted as well as those in society who would stand with them, potentially leading to confrontation with the reactionary forces behind this program. They also see Arizona's move to craft its own immigration laws as a dangerous precedent and one that could interfere with the larger national interests of the imperialists as a whole, in particular in relation to Mexico. There are strategic implications for the U.S. empire in maintaining a level of stability within Mexico; and already the attacks on immigrants here, the disruption of the flow of remittances and the forced return back across the border are affecting the whole social fabric there, adding to an already growing instability.

Obama's Speech on Immigration

The growing tension surrounding the Arizona law, rooted in these complex contradictions, led President Obama to give a major speech on July 1 arguing for why the administration's program for comprehensive immigration reform, and not what is taking place in Arizona, should prevail. Five days later the Justice Department filed a lawsuit in federal court in Phoenix to block the implementation of the Arizona law.

But even as he opposed SB 1070, Obama conciliated and compromised with the reactionary forces behind it. He did not condemn this reactionary program, and did not call on people to take to the streets to oppose it. Instead, he went out of his way to say that he recognized the "frustration" of those behind SB 1070, that their program was "understandable but unrealistic." It was an expression of the fact that the Democrats can't and won't call the people into the streets to stand up to such fascistic measures, in large part because they fear the kind of social upheaval that could result and instead they work to keep people demobilized and paralyzed politically.

Further Militarizing the Border

Militarizing the border is the key way that immigrant labor is regulated and super exploitation is reinforced, and Obama made clear his administration agrees this militarization needs to increase. As a result of the policies he's already enacted, there are "more boots on the ground on the Southwest border than at any time in our history."

What this has meant is that the number of Mexicans killed or wounded by U.S. immigration authorities has risen from 5 in 2008, to 12 in 2009, to 17 so far in the first half of this year alone. In a two-week period last month, one immigrant was tasered to death at the checkpoint south of San Diego and a 15-year-old boy was gunned down by a border patrol agent who fired across the border into Juarez, Mexico. Even more, amassing more and more troops along the Mexican border, at a time when there is growing instability and crisis on the Mexican side, increases the likelihood of a situation where those troops are sent across the border.

At the same time, huge numbers of people in Mexico and countries to its south continue to have little choice but to try to make the dangerous trip to "El Norte." But because of the "funnel effect" in the way the border wall has been constructed and the border is enforced, people are being forced to risk not just apprehension but death by crossing the treacherous and deadly Arizona-Sonora desert in record numbers. It was estimated that the remains of 85 people were found, ravaged by the heat and by animals, in the last 6 months of 2009. How many more have perished cannot be calculated.

All-Around Assault on Immigrants

Obama said there's still "more work to do" because the borders are "just too vast to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols." Since his election U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has not ended its factory and neighborhood sweeps, but has added what some employers call "silent raids." By auditing their employee files they are forcing the employers to fire unauthorized workers en masse, working to create a climate where hiring the undocumented is no longer practical. ICE has been able to target far more companies than the Bush administration was able to reach by relying on workplace roundups. There has been a dramatic increase in the network of detention centers in recent years, many of them privately run, that are holding immigrants awaiting a determination whether they should be deported. It has come to light that in the past seven years over 100 immigrants have died in these detention centers.

While Obama did not address this in his speech, part of the immigration plan he supports, as described in an Op-Ed piece by Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Lindsey Graham in March, includes the introduction of a high-tech, tamper-proof identification card that would feature a biological identifier, like fingerprints or retinal scans. This high-tech national ID card would be required of everyone in the U.S. who wants to work, immigrants and citizens alike.

Obama spoke of the "need to provide farms a legal way to hire the workers they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status." What he's talking about has been named a "guest worker" program designed for admitting lower-skilled workers. Such a system of "circular migration" already exists on a small scale, but there are calls for a massive expansion. The system enables employers to import legal temporary workers for up to six months—and then send them home when they are no longer needed or wanted. Workers brought in through the "guest worker" program are required to hand over their immigration papers to the companies that employ them, making them virtual captive labor. This system creates an underclass of workers who can be easily deported if they're fired; are often cheated out of their wages; and are forced to live in terrible conditions.

"Out of the Shadows..."

Finally, Obama talked about the need to "demand responsibility from people living here illegally. They must be required to admit that they broke the law. They should be required to register, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English. They must get right with the law before they can get in line and earn their citizenship." This is the Democrats' plan to solve the problem of millions of people on the bottom of society "living in the shadows" while trying to avoid a major disruption of the economy. And no one knows how many of those who admit they broke the law could end up being jailed or deported instead of being integrated into this society with some form of legal status. In particular, if having used "fraudulent documents" to get employment disqualifies you from this program, it's estimated possibly 75 percent of undocumented workers could be excluded.

More fundamentally, the whole disgusting premise is that undocumented immigrants are criminals who must admit their guilt, accept punishment, and then go to the back of the line. It completely reverses right and wrong; it holds them responsible for the way their country has been economically and politically dominated and ravaged by U.S. finance capital, forcing them to come here at great risk and sacrifice, to be super-exploited in sweatshops with low wages and dangerous working conditions and hunted like criminals.

In essence, the goal of Obama's program, as much as that represented by SB 1070, is to find a different way to regulate the immigrants—further tightening the border; preventing the undocumented from being able to work; developing a guest worker program to reduce the need for them; and finding the most effective way to bring them "out of the shadows" and "into the reach" of the system and its authority. Taken as a whole, Obama's "compromise" version of comprehensive immigration reform offers nothing but increased repression, desperation, and criminalization for the millions of undocumented immigrants and their families.

The Need for Mass Opposition to SB 1070

The hearing on the federal lawsuit will be on July 22, and it remains to be seen what will come of this in the short run. Regardless of what happens, without a major challenge to the toxic anti-immigrant climate that is being generated, the reactionary forces who have been emboldened by this offensive against immigrants will not back down. They will find other ways to respond. And Joe Arpaio, the fascist Sheriff of Maricopa County who has announced that he will launch raids on immigrant neighborhoods beginning July 30, is not going to be deterred, whatever the result of the lawsuit.

What is urgently needed is broad, visible opposition to what all sections of the ruling class are pushing around immigration. Today, the battle lines are being drawn in Arizona. Everyone who is righteously outraged by the whole anti-immigrant climate needs to speak out against SB 1070 and struggle with many others to do the same. Come to Arizona on July 29. Be part of the fight.

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Why do we say WE ARE ALL ILLEGALS?

Millions of people who have done nothing to harm humanity are being branded illegal and denied basic rights. People are being shot in cold blood by border patrol agents and are dying of dehydration trying to find their way through the desert. They are rounded up in sudden raids at home or at work or stopped by police in random traffic stops and taken away from their children for not having the right papers. This is already the situation in Arizona where SB 1070 is set to go into effect on July 29, taking this terror to a whole new level and making it the new legal and social norm—and not only in Arizona. Following SB 1070's passage, we have seen a wave of new proposals to deny housing and utilities to those without papers, to deny citizenship to their children who are born in this country, and calls for more federal troops on the border. And many people are being sucked in to endorse these laws and the whole mindset that goes with them. In the face of all this, what should people who abhor this do?

First off, just because a law has been passed does not mean it should be respected. Slavery was once the law of the land: did that make it right? Runaway slaves and anyone who helped them were breaking the law. Who were on the right side then—the slaves who resisted and those who supported them or the slave catchers and the Supreme Court which enforced those unjust laws?

For generations, Black people living in the southern U.S. suffered barbaric brutality under Jim Crow laws—which instituted new forms of segregation, discrimination and suppression of a whole people. Those laws made it illegal for Black people to share public and private accommodations with white people, including public transport, schools, restaurants, jobs—and instituted a whole rule of terror, including official and "unofficial" lynchings, and a whole culture of white supremacy. What would have happened if tens of thousands of white people had refused to obey those laws, had refused to identify as white, and defied the forced separation by race? What if they had refused to be part of all this, including the right to terrorize Black people, but instead had stood with Black people against those laws?

In the 1930s, Nazi Germany passed laws depriving Jews of their rights, forcing them to register and wear a yellow Star of David. What if Germans who were not Jews had worn the yellow stars in protest of this? What if people who were not Jews had opposed these laws and refused to allow this kind of persecution and vilification of a whole people? How would history have turned out differently if people had not accepted and adjusted to those unjust laws?

"We are all illegals" means we refuse to cooperate with the logic and terms that allow a whole section of people to be segregated, hunted down and forced to live in a constant state of terror, to be targeted for mistreatment and abuse by the authorities and reactionaries who have been given license by this whole atmosphere. "We are all illegals" means we have the courage to stand up, shoulder to shoulder with those this foul system deems "illegals," against the horrible injustice concentrated in laws like SB 1070. It means we firmly reject the whole social and political hysteria being whipped up against immigrants and anyone who may look or sound like one.

Many people correctly see SB 1070 as legalized racial profiling on a mass scale and sense it won't stop at the borders of Arizona. Imagine if people all over the country and in Arizona—Black, white, Asian, Latinos, Native Americans—wore T-shirts, armbands, stickers, put up posters all over the place that unapologetically declared "we are all illegals!" Imagine if people began to organize to defeat this whole offensive. This would radically change the current climate of fear and resignation to one of defiance and resistance.

We are all illegals! We don't gotta show no stinkin' papers!

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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SNAPSHOTS: Revolution in the Mix at U.S. Social Forum

In June, as anger over that murder of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones simmered in the abandoned Detroit ghettos, over 10,000 people came to Detroit for the U.S. Social Forum. The movement for revolution was in the mix. Following are snapshots from what that was like...

* * *

On the opening day of the USSF, a couple thousand people marched through Detroit to Cobo Hall where the USSF was held. A correspondent described the crowd:

People from Boston who took up the fight to get arrest records expunged... Young Asians living in Connecticut trying to find community in a town where they are being jacked up by the police... a young white guy from the Detroit area who said he wanted to see a society based on justice and peace ... a group of young Black women from Boston fighting for services for the youth because "they say we are the future, but they refuse to help us get there." So much enthusiasm for creating a different society. Yet it was like Sunsara Taylor recently described the situation on college campuses: "Communism is the furthest thing from their minds."

Revolutionaries at the USSF were determined to change that. They insisted on everyone getting the Message and Call from the RCP, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." Some 10,000 copies of the Message got out at the conference, several thousand more in the community. Not quite enough for it to be impossible to ignore, but plenty enough to stir things up. The image of Bob Avakian—on t-shirts and hand cards artfully posted up in batches—made an impression. And a huge billboard on the main highway leading to Cobo Hall promoted Bob Avakian's talk, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About.

All this challenged the thematic framework of the USSF and the thinking of those who attended. People came with genuine desire and strivings for a better world—which is why the revolutionaries put so much stress on being in the midst of this. Most of those at the USSF are involved in trying to address many problems in society, ranging from persecution of immigrants to drastic cutbacks in social services. They had important experiences, insights and ideas to learn from and unite with and raised big questions for debate. But the particular solutions, and the overall conception of the USSF, were terribly out of synch with the actual magnitude and depth of the horrors and challenges facing humanity at this moment in history. "Solutions" and frameworks ranged from "You can't change the whole world" to "It's not desirable to change the whole world" so instead you have to work within the margins and build up the new, build up the alternatives. One theme that was constantly repeated: "We aren't just resisting, we are developing solutions," or "alternatives." Even setting aside the fact that there is hardly "too much resistance" going on these days, the "solutions" and "alternatives" being proposed were embedded in the existing capitalist system and the kinds of relationships and thinking it engenders. These proposed "solutions" didn't even measure up to the kinds of problems that people at the Forum were identifying.

And many people seemed not to be aware of, or were "tuning out" huge crises in the world—the U.S. wars of aggression in the Middle East, the oil catastrophe in the Gulf, the ongoing wave of police murder against Black and Latino youth... Revolutionaries and others, including activists from World Can't Wait, struggled with people to confront these horrors, both in terms of strategic solutions, and in terms of immediate action and protest. Both World Can't Wait and activists around the Gulf Catastrophe held small but important protests during the USSF.

As the revolutionary message got out broadly, people began to become more conscious of radically different frameworks on what is the problem, and solution. As that process developed, things got more controversial, and at times more heated. There was a widespread tendency to deny the reality that everyone and every trend has an agenda of one kind or another, and the question is what is that agenda, and where does it lead. And that was closely tied to controversy over the promotion of Bob Avakian as a unique and precious revolutionary leader. As all these questions got sharpened up, there were opportunities for important struggle. There were people—a small section—who gravitated towards radical and revolutionary solutions. For many more, seeds were planted in their thinking and they at least became aware there is a movement for revolution. Those seeds will be important as the real world of capitalism-imperialism imposes choices on people in the future.

Several workshops with participants from a revolutionary communist perspective were a chance to sharpen up these questions, and engage more deeply. Sunsara Taylor debated the editor-in-chief of $pread magazine on "Sex Work or Sex Slavery: The Empowerment Debate," which contrasted revolution to uproot the oppression of women and the conditions that give rise to the massive sex "industry" with a model of empowering individual sex workers and leaving the system intact. Alan Goodman was part of a panel on "Israel's crimes against Gaza and the Role of the U.S." where he reported on experiences taking out Bob Avakian's quote "After the holocaust, the worst thing that has happened to Jewish people is the state of Israel." Someone in the audience argued the quote is offensive and unnecessarily confrontational, when what they felt is needed is "information, not confrontation." That led to debate over whether the quote was true, which deepened people's understanding of the illegitimacy of Israel and underscored how important it is for this quote—which concentrates such important, but often hidden and obscured truths—to be promoted. A workshop presented by the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund on the battle against the ban on Revolution newspaper in California prisons attracted a number of people who committed to take up the fight against the ban when they returned to their home areas. A workshop/debate sponsored by Revolution Books on microlending attracted people who sincerely believe in, and are actively involved in microlending, as well as those who feel there is something wrong with it but wanted to learn more. From different angles, both panelists devastatingly exposed how micro-lending further impoverishes and traps those who it claims to be helping and then a robust debate broke out over whether revolution is realistic or "too far off."

In another workshop, Raymond Lotta participated in a panel on "Copenhagen, the Environmental Emergency and the Future of Humanity," along with Maggie Zhou. Zhou, a molecular biologist, organizer of Climate SOS, and national committee member of the U.S. Green Party, presented scientific data on climate change and argued, from her political perspective, for the need to act urgently so that measures could be taken to drastically limit carbon emissions. After the provocative presentations, the first round of questions and comments focused on facts, figures, and tactics like boycotts and protests. Lotta broke in: These things can be important, but he challenged people to look, seriously, at the scope of the problem—the nature of the problem, and address what he was arguing as the only real solution. The tone of discussion got more urgent, and interesting. One woman said she had seen a poll that indicated people feel it's easier to imagine the end of humanity than it is to imagine the end of capitalism. Another woman asked, how would "post-revolutionary society" in the U.S. deal with the fact that it will take more than a revolution in one country to fix the planet? Lotta emphasized that it will not be a post-revolutionary society, it will be a revolutionary society, and he broke down what that means. And he spoke to how Bob Avakian's new synthesis represents a leap in understanding the world revolution, even as it is made overall country-by-country, is a world process, and that serving that world revolution must be the highest priority of a revolutionary society, and how that relates to the great challenge of rescuing the environment.

* * *

More or less unique among forces at the USSF, the revolutionaries fought to break down the gulf between those inside the USSF and the community, from the perspective of bringing forward positive synergy for revolution.

Revolutionaries were part of a march the day after the USSF of over a hundred people in downtown Detroit to oppose the murder of Aiyana Stanley-Jones by Detroit police. Very few of the USSF participants were aware of this police murder, and it was important that the revolutionaries struggled with people at the USSF to join the march—and some did. Chants in the march included "No Justice, No Peace," "Justice For Aiyana Jones, The Whole Damn System's Guilty." And, in the face of the authorities trying to blame Aiyana's family for her death, the march included a chant from a vigil in Aiyana Stanley-Jones' neighborhood earlier that day: "Aiyana Jones she has a name. Her family is not to blame. The system is wrong. We gotta be strong."

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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A cab ride with the revolution at the U.S. Social Forum

At the end of one day at the USSF, a bunch of revolutionaries piled into a van-sized cab for a ride back to the Detroit Revolution Books outlet. The mainstream media in Detroit, overall, had painted a nasty and ridiculous picture of the USSF—a bunch of anarchists and trouble-makers coming from out of town to "mess up our city." (This from mouthpieces of a capitalist system that has pretty much destroyed Detroit.) The cab driver, a Black man in his 30s, hadn't bought into that particular hype, but he did consider any idea that you could make things better pretty much a pipe dream.

When we told him how shocking and insane it was that so much of Detroit had simply been abandoned, he replied that it's all about lowering your expectations. "I'm making minimum wage driving a cab here," he told us, but "back in Flint [a nearby rust-belt town] there are no jobs at all. At least here I know I won't starve." We had some back and forth on whether things have to be this way, with the cab driver basically telling us we were well meaning, but out of our minds if we thought anything could really change.

Then a loud and insistent voice from the back row of the van cut in: "You don't get it, man, we're talking about a REAL revolution." The guy in the back of the van—someone newer to the revolution—explained what that was about, making it clear we were NOT talking about doing any of this within the capitalist system, and how we were at the USSF building a movement FOR REVOLUTION.

"Oh...," the driver said, "You mean... actually...?"

Yes, we said, we are talking about making a real revolution.  Now is not the time to go all out for the seizure of power, but when the time is right it will mean meeting and defeating all they will use to stop the revolution.  But that is possible. A fight could be waged, with a real chance to win, and bring a new power into being. 

This definitely changed the tone of the conversation.

"But is anyone going to listen? Nobody wants to hear it."

Again the guy in the back row of the van—"I started reading this paper when I was in prison, and I knew a lot of guys there who would be into this."

The tone changed more, the conversation got more serious. By the time we got to our destination, the driver asked for a copy of the RCP's Message and Call, and got a copy of Revolution. He noted the address of the Revolution Books outlet, and said he'd definitely be by to talk more about all this.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics—later this year, 2010!

Work is in full swing for the publication this fall of BAsics...a back-pocket-size book of about 100 quotations from Bob Avakian. BAsics will make BA, his work, and leadership much more widely known, and enable people to grasp, wield, and discuss his understanding and development of the strategy for making revolution, his path-breaking re-envisioning of socialism and communism, and his ability to speak to key questions with depth, nuance, insight, heart, and humor.

BAsics is a crucial element of the campaign, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." This important project needs your involvement and participation.

Get your suggestions in now for BA quotes for BAsics. Send to by July 31. (Entries even after that date from prisoners are encouraged.)

Ideas and volunteers are needed for all aspects of the BAsics project: fundraising, transcribing, proofreading, translating, production, promotion and distribution. 

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Aiming to Go Viral with the Revolution Talk

Last week's special efforts to promote Bob Avakian's talk, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, was a real success. We called for people to be part of getting 1,000 views on a clip from this talk on YouTube, "What to the slave is your Fourth of July? From the past to the present." We aimed to make a voice for real revolution heard as this system celebrated its criminal empire.

We far exceeded our goals and made a big societal impact in the process, including with major national media coverage of the way the real revolutionaries were marking July 4.

As of now, this YouTube clip has been seen about 3,000 times in Spanish and English. Hundreds of people watched it from Facebook and Twitter and at least 60 people (that we can tell) reposted it. Through this, many people were introduced to Bob Avakian for the first time. People reposted it for different reasons and from different perspectives. And this kicked off all kinds of online debates and discussions about the content of this clip, who Bob Avakian is, and why people should seriously engage what he's saying and what he's about.

A feature article in Newsweek online, "The New Revolutionaries" by Ravi Somaiya (Sunday, July 4, on the rise of what it called "anti-government zeal" wrote, "The Tea Party wants to repeat the 1776 revolution, with some selective editing of the founding fathers' aims. The Revolutionary Communist Party is calling for a revolution against the original revolution itself." This included a link to the article at about promoting the YouTube clip for July 4 from the Bob Avakian talk. This drove even more people to watch the clip itself, and created a much broader societal awareness of a movement for real revolution.

There's a lot to learn from this effort!

First, we took one of our great strengths—Bob Avakian and the content of his Revolution talk and really built on that in relation to something timely. Second, we consciously gave people a vehicle to be part of this movement for revolution in a concentrated way where all across the country (and actually around the world) people could pull together to accomplish a concrete goal... which is part of a bigger goal in making Bob Avakian a household name... an essential part of really putting revolution on the map... and we made all that known. We reached out to and marshaled something else we have going for us—a base of people in the world and on the net who are broadly following this movement and are part of it from different perspectives and on different levels. We provided a means to act in a very basic but very important—and meaningful—way, including by providing a form where people could voice their radical sentiments and aspirations up against all the patriotic bullshit being pumped out that day, and introduce people to Bob Avakian.

Coming off of this, the Revolution talk national web promotion team has announced a regular Repost/Retweet Wednesday and Invite/Follow Fridays where people can spread the Wednesday clip of the day (with ongoing updates from the Facebook page and Twitter account on how it's going), and on Fridays, people will be asked to invite their friends to become fans of the page themselves, or sign up to follow the Revolution talk twitter feed. They're also planning to make a big deal out of the clip, "Why do people come here from all over the world?" in relation to the planned date for the fascist anti-immigrant law in Arizona to go into effect on July 29. Updates and announcements about this will be coming from the Facebook page so stay tuned in.

These kinds of efforts—in conjunction with all the other parts of this campaign, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have"—is a big part of how this talk can "go viral." Everyone we meet should be invited into the online and on the ground presence of this talk through follow-up emails, phone calls and in-person discussions about who Bob Avakian is, what difference it makes that people throughout society know who he is, and have some sense of the kind of movement for revolution we are building.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Phoenix AZ, Tuesday, June 29: Bringing Arizona Freedom Summer to the Warped Tour

Thousands of young people from all over Arizona found out today that there is a movement in this country, and right now in this state, fighting for revolution. They heard the revolutionaries denouncing the Nazi-like racism bubbling up in Arizona and found a group of people that refuses to back down and accept it. This had an electric effect and our booth was busy all day with people signing up to get involved.

But not surprisingly, some people didn't like it. A number of white people walked by yelling about sending the "beaners" back to Mexico. They said they were proud to be from Arizona and love SB 1070. A couple others gave us the Nazi salute when we called them out for supporting white supremacy. Some ripped up our flyers and threw them at us. Quite a few told us to leave this country if we don't like it. People called out "more troops on the border" in response to our sign about "no troops on the border" and told us we needed to protect America from drug cartels.

But for the majority of people we talked to, the message displayed on a huge banner on our booth—"We are all illegals! We don't need to show no stinkin' papers! No troops on the border!"—was a breath of fresh air, a much needed wind at the backs of people who've been feeling like their backs are up against the wall. People were coming up in waves to take pictures of the sign and telling us their stories... My family is stuck in Hermosillo trying to cross... my best friend was supposed to be here at Warped with us today but already took off for Colorado because of this law... people in my family were stopped for speeding a couple months ago and got deported... I was stopped by police and because I didn't have my ID they took me to jail because they said they had to make sure I was legal... and on, and on. One guy stood with us while we were on the bullhorn, yelling back at anyone who yelled at us. Another hung out nearby, listening and waiting until we were done to come up and say how great it is what we are doing and that what is happening to immigrants now is like the enslavement of Black people.

People who've been told all their lives that immigrants are the problem (now Arizona governor Jan Brewer is saying that they're all drug mules), heard the revolutionaries say that the problem is not immigration, but capitalism. Many got copies of the part from Bob Avakian's Revolution talk where he breaks down "Why do people come here from all over the world": because the rulers of the U.S. have fucked over the rest of the world even worse than they've fucked over this country!

One white youth came up to us saying, "Yes, I agree with you, that's why everybody wants to leave Arizona. I want to leave Arizona." We told him that we were volunteers who came from around the country TO Arizona and that what's happening here has to be stopped as part of building a movement to get rid of the system that causes this oppression in the first place. He took stacks of the Message and Call from the Revolutionary Communist Party, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," to pass out, then came back to get more after he ran out.

Native Americans from all over Arizona took stacks of the Message and Call to take back to the reservations. One Native youth talked about the miserable conditions and gang violence on the rez. So we read this section from the statement together:

"For millions in the inner cities, if they are not killed at an early age, their likely future is prison... This system has robbed so many youth of the chance for a decent life and has got far too many living, dying and killing for nothing—nothing good—nothing more than messing up people and murdering each other on the streets of the cities here...or joining the military, being trained to be murderers on a mass scale, massacring people in countries across the globe. A system which offers millions and millions of youth no greater purpose, no better fate, than crime and punishment, or to become a mindless killing machine for the system itself—that alone is reason enough to sweep this system from the face of the earth!"

He and his friends signed up and said they'd get the word out about Arizona Freedom Summer.

Some people were excited right away to hear we are boldly promoting revolution and communism, while others had a lot of questions about what they've heard about communism before. The level of engagement was really striking—with all these young people listening, asking questions, and telling us how they see what's happening and how they feel about it. And by the end of the day, people who had read the Message and Call or the flyer for Arizona Freedom Summer, or had seen us out in the crowd with our sign and bullhorn, came back to the booth to sign up.

All day long whenever we would get on the bullhorn and begin speaking some truth about this country—the history of slavery, genocide and theft of land, the white supremacy festering from Arizona to Detroit—people stopped in their tracks. Crowds gathered. Reactionary white people were furious, ignorant white people were shocked, while many brown-skinned folks and conscious white people were ecstatic. At the end of the day a young Latina woman and a white youth faced off in front of our sign. He was arguing that "they" take "our" money and resources. She told him that what he was supporting was only one step away from what the Nazis did to the Jews. She talked about how they made the Jews wear special badges so they could be targeted. Later, she came to our booth and took a bunch of "We are all illegals!" posters to put up. As we talked about, if they're gonna come after one group of people and label them "illegals," then they're gonna have to come after all of us.

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Revolutionary Anti-July 4th picnic, San Francisco Bay Area

People came together in cities around the country for Anti-July 4th picnics to raise thousands of dollars (in total) for the campaign "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have." Below is a snapshot we received of the picnic held in Oakland, California as the community was tensely awaiting the verdict in the trial of the cop who murdered Oscar Grant:

On the 4th of July, the system celebrates U.S. power and domination over the world in an orgy of patriotism and American flags. We said a loud "NO!" to all that in Oakland, California. We came together for a Revolutionary Anti-July 4th picnic to raise funds to support "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" campaign. People were greeted by music, and the image of Bob Avakian decorated the front of the park and flew from t-shirts hanging from the bookstore canopy. Something really different was going on that day.

Some people came who hate everything July 4th is celebrating and who dream of a world without America. People with some knowledge and life experience of what the U.S. has done in Iran, India, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Guatemala joined with Native Americans, African Americans, youth and revolutionary veterans to share a delicious potluck lunch, hear speakers, and have fun.

Building for the picnic touched a nerve—a lot of people are angry and fed up with this system and open to revolution against it. A sound truck criss-crossed neighborhood streets announcing the picnic and people ran up to the truck to get fliers. We went door-to-door in the neighborhood and set up displays and tables in busy spots, attracting attention with photos of police brutality and the U.S. wars in Iraq. Several hundred dollars of tickets were sold before the event.

The park is in the heart of the immigrant community, only blocks away from where Oscar Grant was shot in the back in cold blood by Johannes Mehserle on January 1, 2009. People are talking about this everywhere on the streets. What will the verdict be? What will people do? is on everyone's minds. Many stores have boarded up their windows and the police are going around telling merchants to shut down when the verdict is announced. Many people are also upset about the fascistic new anti-immigrant law in Arizona, the shooting of 15-year-old Sergio Hernandez in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico by the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Gulf oil disaster. The picnic took place in the midst of this charged and highly politicized atmosphere.

The picnic generated some controversy. On the day of the picnic, a priest at a nearby Catholic church with immigrant parishioners said from the pulpit that when the verdict is announced about Oscar Grant's murder, people should just stay home. He warned that there were revolutionaries outside and that people should stay away from them because they don't believe in god and we do. When the mass ended, many took leaflets, while some refused.

People helped build for the picnic while wrestling with big questions of revolution.

One woman who we met during the 10-day saturation push studied the statement, liked what it said about the problem, but had questions about the solution, why it said "there is no god" and its emphasis on this leader. She ended up coming early, helped pick up food and said we were the only ones really doing something that makes sense.

Very significantly, much of the food was generously donated by merchants and restaurant owners who were from Latin America or Palestine and know first hand what the U.S. has done to those countries and their people and what it feels like to be oppressed here. They gave bags of tomatoes, onions and cilantro which was made into salsa, rice and beans, sour cream, pounds of chicken, chips, tostadas (a crispy tortilla), pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) and fruit.

These store owners were sympathetic to the statement's message against July 4th and for revolution. During the 10-day saturation push, some had taken fliers and posters for their windows or counters and donated funds. People expressed outrage about police brutality and the way the police often take away immigrants' cars if they are caught driving without papers.

Once people entered the park, photos from Revolution of police brutality and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan drew people into the park who wanted to find out what was going on. A Latino immigrant family came and the father said he had gotten mistreated by the police. A new person had gotten a flier on the street and said she never thought about revolution before, but now thinks it's a good idea because people should stand up to the government. A young woman said she thought the world had to be changed and agreed this is the best thing to do with your life.

Several people said they were really glad to be someplace where people were calling out the U.S. and what it is doing to the people of the world. They were happy to take a stand against America's wars and its crimes.

The program began with a quote from Bob Avakian about proletarian internationalism, "If you can conceive of a world without America..." and an audio from Avakian's Revolution Talk on "What to the Slave is Your 4th of July?" by Frederick Douglass. Speakers condemned police brutality and the unjust recent arrest of two young revolutionaries who were legally observing police. Prisoners' letters were read on "What to the American Prisoner is Your 4th of July?" We heard about Oscar Grant and the trial of Johannes Mehserle. Others talked about the capitalist oil spill in New Orleans, the Emergency Gulf Summit, Arizona Freedom Summer, and Detroit—the police murder of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones and the Social Forum.

One highlight of the event was a beautifully sung performance of Nina Simone's "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free." This led to a fundraising appeal which called on people to donate $2,000 on the spot to print 80,000 statements of "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" as part of our goal to distribute one million statements throughout the country this summer. The speaker said, "We ARE BUILDING a movement for revolution" now and linked this movement to getting to a communist world. We got a $200 pledge, several $50-$100 donations, a day's wages and many smaller donations for a total of more than $2,100. This event and the raising of funds was an important contribution to the campaign.

A very important part of the picnic was the showing of the Revolution DVD. Groupings of people gathered under a canopy and intently watched "They're Selling Postcards of the Hanging" and "Youth Deserve a Better Future" from the Revolution Talk by Bob Avakian. Some of the immigrants said they didn't know about the lynchings of Black people that happened in this country. One person said he thought nobody should be mistreated in that way and we have to change things. One woman was upset because she had no idea people had been treated that way. Another said he had spent time in prison and wanted to see a change. After watching the talk, several were interviewed to contribute to developing a film to promote the DVD.

More than 75 people participated in the picnic. The majority gathered near the tables, talked with friends and met new people. Some people came who had heard about it days before. Others were attracted to the showing of the Revolution Talk. Some residents of the neighborhood watched and listened from their apartments next to the park. Overall, the wonderful contributions of food, the program, the conversations, the music, people playing soccer and the great company made for an enjoyable and successful event.

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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Revolutionary Strategy

Some Principles for Building A Movement for Revolution

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

At every point, we must be searching out the key concentrations of social contradictions and the methods and forms which can strengthen the political consciousness of the masses, as well as their fighting capacity and organization in carrying out political resistance against the crimes of this system; which can increasingly bring the necessity, and the possibility, of a radically different world to life for growing numbers of people; and which can strengthen the understanding and determination of the advanced, revolutionary-minded masses in particular to take up our strategic objectives not merely as far-off and essentially abstract goals (or ideals) but as things to be actively striven for and built toward.

The objective and orientation must be to carry out work which, together with the development of the objective situation, can transform the political terrain, so that the legitimacy of the established order, and the right and ability of the ruling class to rule, is called into question, in an acute and active sense, throughout society; so that resistance to this system becomes increasingly broad, deep and determined; so that the "pole" and the organized vanguard force of revolutionary communism is greatly strengthened; and so that, at the decisive time, this advanced force is able to lead the struggle of millions, and tens of millions, to make revolution.



Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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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

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Revolution #207, July 18, 2010

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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.