Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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The Gulf Oil Disaster... And the Deep Cover-up

by Larry Everest

On April 20, 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, a surge of gas burst up from deep under rock and water, through the "Macondo" well being drilled by the oil giant BP. It exploded in an inferno of flame and smoke. Eleven workers were killed. The "Deepwater Horizon" drilling platform was destroyed, ripping apart piping 5,000 feet deep on the Gulf floor. A toxic gusher was let loose, which poured more than 200 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas into the rich waters of the Gulf before it was capped nearly three months later. It was an almost immeasurable environmental catastrophe that killed workers, ravaged wildlife, savaged ecosystems from the deep waters of the Gulf to the environmentally vital shores. It threatened human health and created an economic disaster for the many thousands whose living depends on the Gulf's waters.

On May 21, a month after the explosion, President Barack Obama announced the formation of a "National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling." He promised it would get to "the root causes of the disaster and offer options on what safety and environmental precautions we need to take to prevent a similar disaster from happening again."

Six months later, on November 22, the commission released a preliminary report. The "take home message" was accurately summed up in an editorial, typical of mainstream coverage of the commission's report:

"Not every bad thing that happens is a result of malevolent [bad and vicious] forces at work. A great many of them are caused by foolishness, haste, overconfidence, inexperience and failure to communicate. The preliminary conclusions of the chief investigator of the special commission looking into the causes of the summer's giant Gulf of Mexico oil spill suggest that there were enough of those more simple human failings taking place on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform to account for the disaster. There is no particular reason to believe, said staff chief Fred Bartlit, that the fatal explosion and disastrous flood that followed had to be the result of any criminal intent or even a contemptible desire to do dangerous things on the cheap." (Salt Lake Tribune)

But there were powerful "malevolent" forces behind this crime. And "criminal intent" doesn't even get to the heart of the problem, although there was enough of that to go around. From demands of investors for more and faster profits, to BP's desperate moves to stay one step ahead of cutthroat rivals, to the strategic demands of a system that relies on oil for profit and power... all the players in this nightmare could no more have walked away from the insane risks and horrible cost of drilling miles beneath the ocean for oil than a desperate addict could pass up a hit. Regardless of anyone's intent, the Gulf oil catastrophe was and is the convulsive product of the most essential dog-eat-dog laws defining the capitalist system.

Risking Lives and the Environment to Save Money and Time


Risking Lives and the Environment to Save Time and Money

* Refusing to Test the Well: On April 20, BP canceled the cement bond log test, needed to tell if cement had sealed the well (or needed to be patched). It would have taken 9 to 12 hours and cost $118,000, and if problems had been found, BP could have been forced to do a new cementing job, taking a month and costing up to $30 million.

* Overlooking - or Misinterpreting - Key Tests: Hours before the blowout, several "negative pressure tests" showed that the blowout preventer (designed to seal the well in case of emergencies) was leaking, the cement seal was faulty, and gas and fluid were rising up through the well. Operations should have been halted immediately, yet the crew decided the tests were fine and they could proceed to seal the well. This "baffled" the commission, but there are indications that BP cost-cutting (using two doses of testing fluid instead of one to save the cost of disposing of one) may have skewed the test, and that conflicts between BP, Transocean and Halliburton, and an overall corporate culture UC Berkeley professor Bob Bea described as "embedded in risk-taking and cost-cutting," may have led to communication and decision-making breakdowns and a rush to finish the well. ("Scientists, drilling experts say BP valued speed over safety in oil rig disaster," Times-Picayune, 11/26/10)

* Replacing Drilling Mud with Lighter Seawater: Normally wells are plugged before heavy drilling mud, used to hold down liquids and gases, is replaced with lighter seawater. But BP decided to replace the drilling mud first. "Maybe they were trying to save time," BP's top rig official speculated. "At the end of the well sometimes they think about speeding up." The decision was catastrophic: the well blew before BP could plug it.

A Times-Picayune investigation summed up: "E-mail messages and reports by BP engineers in the weeks before the accident make reference to money or time savings as they debated methods for closing the well. In each case, they went the cheaper way."

In the month before the Macondo well exploded, there were several dangerous surges or "kicks" of gas from the well—a clear sign that there was gas at extremely high pressure in the well and/or that the drilling procedures were unsafe. On April 14, BP drilling engineer Brian Morel emailed a colleague saying, "this has been a nightmare well which has everyone all over the place."

Yet BP still chose the riskier of two possible designs for the steel pipe, or casing, to line the last 1,200 feet of the well. A more expensive option—called a "liner/tieback" design—is supposed to provide protection against the kind of upward flow of gas that set off the horrific explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig. But BP chose the more dangerous "single-liner" design, according to internal BP emails, to save time and $7-$10 million. The well was behind schedule, and each extra day of drilling cost BP another $1.5 million. By the time of the blowout, the well was $40 to $60 million over budget. (See "Documents Show Early Worries About Safety of Rig," New York Times, 5/29/10.)1

In addition, BP rejected urgent alarms and appeals from experts and contractors to install additional "centralizers" to insure that cement pumped around the well casing would seal it and prevent gas from surging upward. "It will take 10 hours to install them [21 centralizers]," a BP official emailed on April 16. "I do not like this." After the decision, BP engineer Brett Cocales emailed, "Who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine." It wasn't. Partly because BP used too few centralizers, the cement job failed and gas surged up through the Macondo well.

And there were many other such decisions, chalked up by the commission to "human error" (see sidebar online at

The Insane Logic Behind Risky Big Bets

There is a pattern here—not isolated and random "human error," but consistently putting profit over all. And an examination of the period leading up to the Gulf disaster reveals more than a pattern, it reveals the roots of this pattern in the nature of this system.

When the Deepwater Horizon exploded, BP was the world's fourth largest private corporation and one of the most profitable—making $17 billion in 2009. But in the 1980s, BP was a much smaller corporation, crippled by the 1979 Iranian revolution and the takeover of its oil reserves there, and weaker than bigger rivals. (BP was originally formed in 1908 in Iran as the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, earning enormous returns through its imperialist monopoly control and exploitation of Iranian oil.)

In the late 1980s new managers took over who aggressively expanded the corporation with risky big bets: mergers and acquisitions of other oil corporations. BP rapidly grew to be the world's second largest oil company, behind only Exxon-Mobil (which it aimed to overtake). One way it grew had been to become a leader in deep water and ultra-deep water drilling—where the greatest untapped energy reserves and profits are to be found. This is why BP is so deeply invested in the Gulf of Mexico—one of the most dangerous places to drill—producing 25 percent of the oil produced there.

But by the end of its buying spree in the early 2000s, BP's Chairman Lord Browne openly worried that BP's "big bets" might not pay off and that it could be crushed by competitors unless BP radically reorganized its far-flung operations and slashed costs.

A series of horrendous, high-profile disasters ensued: in September 2004 an accident at BP's Texas City refinery killed two workers and injured another. A March 2005 blast at the same refinery killed 15 workers and injured 180. (The year before, BP had ordered refinery costs cut by 25 percent. BP's internal report on the Texas City blast blamed workers' mistakes, not cost-cutting and poorly maintained equipment.) Four months later, in July, BP's Gulf "Thunder Horse" offshore platform nearly sunk after a hurricane. In March 2006, a BP pipeline in Alaska ruptured, spilling more than 260,000 gallons of oil, the largest spill ever in the North Slope. In each instance, workers and others had warned BP that safety was being compromised and danger loomed.

After these disasters, BP replaced Lord Browne as its Chairman with Tony Hayward, who pledged to make safety his first priority and to spend $14 billion upgrading BP facilities. To whatever degree Hayward was serious about this pledge, the compulsions of capitalist cutthroat competition and profit maximization soon undercut it. First, financial markets—which control the capital BP and other corporations need to function—reacted negatively, and BP stock sunk. Internally, BP was worried that its less efficient operations had led to a "growing gap between us and Shell," as well as with Exxon-Mobil. In 2009, falling oil prices hurt BP's bottom line. In response, between 2007 and 2010, BP laid off 7,500 employees and cut costs—$4 billion in 2009 alone.

We live under a system of capitalism, and that system operates according to certain unbreakable rules. One of the most basic rules of capitalism is that individual capitalists (or "blocs of capital") must and do battle each other for survival. Any capitalist who does not constantly seize any advantage to undercut their competition—fight for control of market share, and cheapen costs—runs the risk of being driven under by others. Sometimes being driven under takes the form of big corporations collapsing or being bought out. Sometimes the rivalry inherent in capitalism gets expressed through horrible wars of slaughter, either between empires or to further subjugate the oppressed. But the underlying rule is the same: expand or die. And this law was in effect at every stage of the events that led up to, and in the wake of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon.

Dog-Eat-Dog Still in Effect as the Ecosystem Faces Disaster

This basic commandment—expand or die, maximize profits or go under—was in full effect during the disaster, while oil was still pouring into the Gulf. BP's stock was plunging. Its longtime rivals, Shell and Exxon-Mobil, were not rushing to help BP clean up the Gulf. They were sitting back as the Gulf was being savaged, watching BP twist in the wind and reportedly "licking their chops" in hopes of taking over BP and strengthening their global position. ("Imagining the Worst in BP's Future," New York Times, 6/7/10)

In the wake of the Gulf disaster, Hayward was forced out and Bob Dudley took over as BP's Chairman. On October 18, he emailed BP employees that the criteria for evaluating fourth quarter performance would be "each business's progress in reducing operational risks and achieving excellent safety and compliance standards" and by managing "every risk we face" to prevent future disaster.

Was such a move met with cheers and plaudits from the managers of massive chunks of capital? Was it upheld as a brilliant example of how "the market" in all its wonder moves to correct imbalances? Another expression of how "if there is a need, there is no better system than capitalism to move with creativity, and even compassion"?

What do you think happened?

This move was immediately attacked by Wall Street analysts, who called it "highly unusual" and worried that it "could spook shareholders who are also concerned about BP's profits and operational efficiency." (Andy Rowell, "Safety Versus the Bottom Line," Oil Change International, 11/19/10)

The Global Dimension

Oil is immensely profitable—four of the world's seven most profitable corporations are oil companies. But the factors that drove BP and its partners and financial backers to burrow deep beneath the fragile ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico, and then another mile into the ground beneath it, also included political and military factors essential to the survival of capitalism, and of the U.S. and its allies in particular.

These are times when the U.S. faces challenges to its sole-superpower status from many rivals, and when its domination of the oil-rich Middle East is being confronted by forces who, though not radical or representing anything positive, do threaten U.S. domination. All this adds yet another dimension to the system's rabid quest for oil, anywhere, at any risk.

As we go to press, Barack Obama has announced a seven-year ban on drilling in the section of the Gulf where the disaster took place, along with areas along the Atlantic Coast. What this ban actually means requires more analysis than can be done in this article, and it is not at all clear that it will actually go into, or stay in, effect. But whenever environmental concessions are made, such moves under capitalism are always extremely limited, partial, and under constant assault. They are made within the framework of, and in service of the same system that is ravaging the environment around the world. Obama's ban leaves untouched other—at least as dangerous—offshore drilling in other parts of the U.S. And it was immediately met with demands it be overturned, from "both sides of the aisle."

And even when temporary and limited concessions are made, those adjustments in things like oil drilling are overwhelmingly confined to the rich countries, while pollution and destruction continue unabated in the poor countries. For example, as a result of drilling by Western oil companies, almost six million barrels have oozed and washed through Nigeria's main river delta over the last 50 years. Most of it has been concentrated in a thousand-square-kilometer [about 247,000 acres] area called Ogoniland. The once-fertile land is dotted with puddles of crude oil. In many areas wild plants and cultivated crops like cassava are dead. Palm trees no longer yield much wine. The inland waterways and mangrove swamps, once rich in shrimp, crab and other fish, are lifeless. The birds are gone. The sea, for many people a source of life, has become a source of sickness and death. (See "The Gulf of Mexico and the Niger River Delta: oil spills worlds apart," A World To Win News Service, June 21, 2010.)

Another such example is Ecuador, where an area of rainforest the size of Rhode Island was made toxic by U.S. oil companies.

A System Unfit to Rule the Planet

All down the line, from the way financial markets reacted when a BP executive gave lip service to putting a priority on safety, to the way the logic of capitalism was internalized and applied by high-level and middle managers in their decision-making, to the geopolitical exigencies that provided an added push to "drill, baby, drill," the terrible disaster in the Gulf was a product of capitalism.

Capitalism is the reason the rulers of this planet are tearing up the rainforests, fishing the seas devoid of sea life, wiping out precious and rare species, and filling vast areas of the ocean with toxic waste.

Things do NOT have to be this way!

The special issue of Revolution on the environment (available at includes "Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development." Those principles concentrate an orientation that enables a whole different kind of society—a socialist society—and lay out how such a socialist society would begin to tackle the environmental emergency, with a global and internationalist perspective—one that puts the interests of humanity, and the planet, first.

People do not need capitalism to "make things happen." With communist revolution, people could begin to bring to life the words of Karl Marx, the founder of communism: "From the standpoint of higher economic forms [socialism and communism], private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one human by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and must hand it down to future generations in an improved state."

1. Obama's Commission argued that oil and gas shot up through the center of the casing, not through the gap outside, so that BP's decision to use cheaper casing did not contribute to the disaster. Other analysts argue that this isn't true, and that even if gas did burst up through the central piping, BP's decision could still have contributed to the explosion. (Here, the Commission agrees with BP's investigation, not the claim by BP's partner in the well, Halliburton, that gas did erupt along the outside of the casing. So while serving the needs and functioning of the capitalist system overall, the Commission may also be playing a role in resolving conflicts among different capitalists.) Whether in fact the more expensive, and slower method would have prevented this particular disaster, there is no dispute that in its own calculations, BP went with the faster, cheaper technique despite alarms and warnings that this would be more dangerous. [back]

This system and those who rule over it are not capable of carrying out economic development to meet the needs of the people now, while balancing that with the needs of future generations and requirements of safeguarding the environment. They care nothing for the rich diversity of the earth and its species, for the treasures this contains, except when and where they can turn this into profit for themselves... These people are not fit to be the caretakers of the earth.

Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
From the filmed talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About

Send us your comments.

Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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


If the police have... sweated you at school, dogged you in the streets, hit on you or otherwise sexually harassed you, or ... if the police have racially profiled, "stopped and frisked," threatened, tasered or brutalized you or any member of your family, ...if the police have killed friends or family.

Write us!!! Tell your story.
Revolution c/o RCP Publications,
Box 3486, Merchandise Mart,
Chicago, IL 60654-0486

Views of those who contribute to "Bear Witness" are their own and they are not responsible for views expressed elsewhere in this newspaper.

The following was submitted to Bear Witness...

"I was on my way home from school and the police told me to stop. They asked me to take out the stuff in my pocket. So I asked them why and then they told me to get against the wall. They patted me down and took stuff out of my pocket and threw it on top of their car. Then they told me to get my stuff and leave. 'Go home!' No questions. I didn't feel too great after that. I felt like I had just been robbed."

14-year-old student in Harlem


"The police walked up to my mother and me. I was drinking juice. This officer was like, 'Can I smell that?' My mother said, 'She's only a little girl. Who do you think I am? No, you can't smell that. It's juice.' Then the police started acting like they were gonna take my mom, arrest her... for no reason. They were like 'I should give you a ticket for that.' Just because she wouldn't let them smell the juice. They had an attitude. They showed disrespect to her. And what are we supposed to do when the police arrest our parents right in front of us. We gonna start crying. They don't even care what we say. That's not right. It's not fair."

12-year-old girl in Harlem


"im from kinston n.c. i am a victim of police brutality i been tasered 3 times pepper spray punch kick -- they strike me with baton. i need help."


"The police shot my cousin. They said he had a gun but it was his inhaler because he has asthma. He died two years ago. We been trying to fight the case but they say the cop has no fault in it. He was just using force because that's what good cops are supposed to do—whatever. We've been trying to fight it... we can't... we don't find a way out. I don't know. I don't know what to do."

A high school student in Harlem


Question: "Have you had any experiences with the police?"

Answer: "Not yet."

13-year-old boy in Harlem


"I was late for school. So I wrapped up my breakfast in a paper towel and ran out of my house. I was running and I put the sandwich in my pocket. A police officer saw me put the sandwich in my pocket so he stopped me and made me take it out and I had to unwrap it. He saw that it was just a croissant but he said I could have put something inside it so I had to open it up and hollow it out. He kept saying I might have drugs. But, then he took a bite of my sandwich and let me go. It was stupid and ridiculous, but what could I do? They stop a lot of people."

16-year-old student in Harlem


"I am Cornelius Hall, father of Jerrold Hall who was also murdered by BART Police (storm troopers). My family was suppressed as the Grants are being now. The same system that has supported murdering cops continues to do so. I asked help from Ron Dellums and he refused although he will say he don't remember. He is now in a position to help his community but won't.

"There are ministers, city officials and thousands of good citizens who do not and will not accept a second degree manslaughter verdict as justice. They have been to the Mountain Top and will fight with you no matter the cost, Keep the Course."

Cornelius Hall writing to Revolution about the police murder of Oscar Grant


"Can I tell about my father? He was going to New Jersey because he's a cab driver in New York. He had to drop somebody far and he didn't know how to get there. So he asked a police officer where to go. The police officer told him to get out of the car. Then the police officer threw him up against the car and started to pat him down. And then, my father, he felt very scared. And he started crying. From that day on he says he feels different. He has told me this story over and over again, almost every day. Every time I see a cop in the street, I don't know, I don't feel safe no more. I don't feel justice. You never know what's going to happen."

15-year-old boy in Harlem

"Me and my friend just finished work and stopped at a restaurant in the Flats. I came out the restaurant to get inside my car and eat my burger and my drink. Then 4 white guys walked up to my car with guns out, telling me to get out. I thought they were going to rob me because they had guns drawn. They told me to get out and put my hands on the car. They shook me down. I had nothing on me. Then they handcuffed me and put me in the back seat of their car, took me downtown, going underneath the Justice Center to the garage. And one cop asked me if I ever had my arm broken. I said, 'No.' He said, 'It is very dark and no one will hear you when you scream.' Then we get in the elevator and one cop punched me in the face and told me, 'You are going to say you tried to steal [your own] car.' 'No I'm not,' I said. I was booked and in jail for about 2 weeks. I went to court and the judge asked me if the detectives were in the court, I said, 'No.' The charges were grand theft of my car and they didn't show up because they didn't want to go before the judge. The judge said, 'You are not the only Black guy that came here to be charged with stealing his own car.' I can't understand how they are going to charge me with theft when I had my title and keys. They never asked me for them. But he hit me in the face and said he would make me say I stole my own car. Sittin' in my car eatin my sandwich. They stopped me cause I am Black. This happened a few years ago. This is something I will never forget, like if a person robbed you, something you will never forget."

From Ohio

Send us your comments.

Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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

Online Only


Views of those who contribute to "Bear Witness" are their own and they are not responsible for views expressed elsewhere in this newspaper.

The following was submitted to Bear Witness...

I grew up in NYC and I remember my brothers getting beat by the police for just walking down the streets. They were horrible then I just don't know what to say for them now. That beautiful young man [Sean Bell] lost his life for what? Something must be done about the policemen around the states. They need to have real life training every day because we can't have anymore meaningless killings it has to stop....

* * *

I am Cornelius Hall, father of Jerrold Hall who was also murdered by BART Police (storm troopers). My family was suppressed as the Grants are being now. The same system that has supported murdering cops continue to do so. I asked help from Ron Dellums [mayor of Oakland] and he refused although he will say he don't remember. He is now in a position to help his community but won't.

There are ministers, city officials and thousands of good citizens who do not and will not accept a second degree manslaughter verdict as justice. They have been to the Mountain Top and will fight with you no matter the cost, Keep the Course

* * *

Things have changed. It is not just youth and minorities who face these attacks. The middle class, their kids and even pets are subject to elimination with prejudice. Just look at the news reports. Yet, the masses have not connected the dots. Two years ago, during the election season, a local man's home, Asheville, NC, was invaded, he was beaten by a city cop, for flying the US flag upside-down. Locally, this situation has been cleaned up, as a new sheriff has replaced the old, corrupt Fascist regime with more considerate, professional policies, as there is a Leftist tendency here. Nationwide, it is still business as usual.

* * *

im from kinston n.c. i am a victim of police brutality i been tasered 3 times pepper spray punch kick they strike me with baton i need help.

Bear Witness: February 18, 2010

cops suck man one arrested me in nyc cuz i looked like an al quaeda member wen i was 14 i dont even wear a turban but still may be its cause of ma skin ma race aint arabian tho

* * *

Hello. I so sorry about your loss. My kids father was gun down by police in front of them in April 12, 2008. Brent L., Mosley III. I hope you all keep pushing for justice. They justify his case but a gun was involve but it was all done very wrong. I need to try to find a attorney to represent me and my two boys. If you have any suggestions can you please email me back. This has to stop!

Excellent and accurate article. I live in NJ and am currently suing local police (Monmouth County) for 10 years of civil rights violations in Federal Court. I cannot afford an attorney so I am Pro Se. They have falsely arrested me 4 times once when I was trying to leave the state to get away from their constant stalking of me.

* * *

The stalking is so bad they sit outside my house 3 cop cars and shine their police light in my bedroom. Once they illegally entered my house without a warrant climbed thru a window and assaulted me (I had called them and stated 4 drunk teenagers were harassing me at my house) and dragged me out of my house handcuffed in my underwear at noon and transported me in my underwear to a hospital.

* * *

I am homeless because they wait for me to come home and follow me home. I have been stabbed in my home and raped and they will not do anything about it because they are involved.

The other day, I was on a train and the cop was waiting for me to exit; I saw him so I did not exit. He asked the train conductor where I was going.

When I run to a women's shelter because I am afraid of the cops the women's shelter refused to let me stay there because I say the cops are my abusers.

No one cares or helps when the cops brutalize someone and that to me is outrageous. I am watching this NYPD trial every day and I feel in my heart and pray they put that sick pig Kern away for the rest of his pig life for what he did to Mineo.

* * *

account of 16 Oct US immigration

bear witness

On 16th October 2010, I planned a holiday to meet my partner and see some friends for 2-3 weeks in Los Angeles.

As I entered [the U.S.], I was sent to secondary questioning.

To my knowledge, everything was fine for travel, I was approved travel authorisation by ESTA [European Security Transportation Association], and I believed I had been told prior on 22nd February 2010, that I had been denied entry via ESTA, and to wait a couple of months and re-apply, if I was denied again, I would need to obtain a visa. I applied to ESTA approx. 1 month prior to travelling. I had been approved my authorisation, so I presumed I was fine to enter the united states, and did not believe I needed to obtain a visa from the consulate, to my understanding this was visa approval.

On 16th October, I was denied entry, I was told I needed to obtain a visa. I was very stressed and scared about this, especially because my last experience with immigration was traumatic in Los Angeles, and I was very scared. I was upset, and crying and feeling very ill due to the anxiety, as I was waiting for a return flight they had booked for around 9pm that evening, I felt more ill, my temperature was high and I could not stop shaking and vomiting, and my head was in agonising pain. I also had a very sore stomach, with severe cramping due to the stress. I was terrified and not understanding fully the whole situation. I felt like I was being treated like a criminal, when in fact I had not done any criminal activity.

I badly needed to see a doctor. I asked for medical attention, several men came to the room and checked my blood pressure. My blood pressure was OK in their eyes so they told me to stick it out and get on my flight. I was vomiting severely and was starting to feel very humiliated, there were around 6-10 officers standing around the room I was held in and they were expecting me to vomit in the rubbish bin in front of them and all other people who were awaiting interviews with immigration to see. This was very distressing, I ran out of the room to the bathroom next door on 2 or 3 occasions to be sick, all while someone chased after me as if I was a criminal to guard me.

I came back to the room and was told, OK, if you really want to see a doctor then you have to go to hospital, this means you may miss your flight and then we are going to put you in jail when you come out of the hospital. This was so terrifying to me. What had I done wrong? To be ill and be threatened with jail, just because I needed medical attention urgently. A supervisor came into the room and I told him what I had been told by another officer, he told me no he shouldn't have said that you will just have to await another flight, but this was all so confusing, I was so ill and shaking and scared I needed a doctor.

During this time, a private detective had arrived. He wanted to find out things regarding my previous travel to the U.S. as then, in Los Angeles, I gave $1000 cash to the immigration officer. I thought this was a fee as I had been told at the time, after researching this when I got out of the question in LAX, I found there is no such fee. During my interview of my sworn statement in Newark, they asked about my previous travel, I told them what happened, I said then I paid a $1000 fee followed by a $65 fee. This raised a flag with them. They told me this shouldn't have been done, they called in the supervisor, who then accused me of saying this just to try to get into the country, he thought I wanted sympathy or something, which was so distressing. All I was thinking at this point was oh no, I wish I didn't say that because they are a team and they will just be more harsh on me. The last thing I ever thought this would do would be help me.

So, the private detective arrived, I wasn't even told he would be coming. I believe they held me from going to get medical treatment instantly to wait his arrival. He arrived in dirty jeans and a dirty sweat jumper. He produced his id card, and started trying to get me to talk, I was in so much pain and just wanting a doctor, I told him there is no way I will talk without having a lawyer about anything because I already had been treated as a criminal and threatened with jail just for needing a doctor, so no way will I talk, he said oh but this is my day off and I drove all the way here, I didn't ask for that. I wasn't allowed to speak with a lawyer or contact my embassy or anything.

About 45 minutes after trying to get a doctor, they took me to hospital. The whole way there I threw up in the back of the ambulance and was shaking uncontrollably, all while the 2 people in the back with me, male and female talked about their personal lives ignoring me.

There at the hospital, it was called Trinitas hospital, I was treated for my sickness, I was put on an IV and given 3 injections for the pain and illness. I was given Zofran, Pepcid, and Toradol. This was all from anxiety and stress caused for the situation. I spent several hours in hospital, I did not know the times and when I asked the time to any officer escorting me I got no response. The female officer was very unhappy to be escorting me as it ran into overtime and she wanted to be home already.

Finally I asked what was going to happen, she assured me it would be OK, she told me I was going back to the airport, where there are showers and I would be taken care of by 2 females until my flight which was leaving in the morning of the 17th October. I felt better after the medication, and was told to take it easy.

I was escorted back to the airport, where I was taken to terminal C. There the officers said I was not meant to be there, feeling very weak and scared still, I was transported to another terminal, terminal B. There I asked the women who were meant to be taking care of me the time of my flight, begrudgingly, and unhappy to have to deal with me, she told me it was in the morning the next day, she said, oh we had a change of plan by the way, you are being picked up at 2am to go to jail. Why, I couldn't understand, she said there was no room for me while they officers behind the counter laughed amongst each other. I begged to speak to my mum, they said no, I begged to speak to my embassy, they said no, I was terrified, no one knew where I was... Finally someone let me have a very quick call, I was not allowed to say anything but I was at the airport, I whispered on the phone to my mum for help to call the embassy. They grabbed the phone from me. All laughing like it was a game.

I was so scared and terrified, I wanted to call my embassy, my mum, anyone as no one knew where I was or what was happening and I wanted help. I was denied these rights. I could not understand, I was so ill. I went to the bathroom and vomited with this and felt myself panicking again. My mobile was taken from me, and there was a sign to indicate this, but there were 2 females awaiting something flirting and having fun with the male officers while texting friends, I could not understand this as the sign said no mobiles at all.

I begged and pleaded to please be allowed to speak to my embassy, something. I was not allowed.

The women and others working at the government enjoyed taunting me for crying for being scared also.

Feeling very drowsy and weak I was told to sit down and did, I fell asleep, I was awoke by 2 officers to escort me to jail. I was so scared.

I was put into a van and they would not tell me the name of the place I was going to. The van had no air, it was dark and behind bars, it was so terrifying. I thought, what was going to happen to me? They could do anything. I wondered, were they going to kill me or something, it was terrifying.

I arrived at the facility which was dirty and awful from the outset, I asked the female officer to call someone, anyone, I was not allowed, she said I should have been allowed to call my embassy at the airport.

After hours of paperwork, tears and feeling in pain again, I was checked into the facility. I was given jail clothing to wear. I had to get changed in a room, completely stripped, even to have to change my underwear to jail underwear, it was so humiliating, the room I had to change in was holding room 224, it was written on the door. The toilet was covered in urine and on the floor ants crawling around. It was covered in dust and hair and just disgusting. I was crying and feeling more and more scared. I was then taken to see the doctor, who told me I had to eat and try to relax, strangely no one had a record of my hospital visit for medical treatment and they seemed to find it hard to believe that this was the case.

I could not believe I was sent to jail just after medical treatment in a hospital. I was so confused.

It was around 4:45am when I was finally shown to my room. I was not allowed to take anything with me, I was luckily allowed a bottle of water. I told them I was just out of the hospital, they did not know this which I found strange as I thought it would be on my paperwork.

I had to make my own bed from a roll of sheets I was given, the sheets were stained and filthy. The toilet was open, with just a small wall between it and the dorm room beds, anyone could walk past the window and see you at the toilet, or in the shower which was also open. My room had 6 beds in it, I was the only person locked in this room. All the beds were filthy, they had not been used for a long time, covered in dirt and dust, the beds were single beds, with a very thick mattress, about 3 inches thick with thick plastic covering. The pillow was made of plastic or leather, and it was very dirty. It was freezing, but I could not have another blanket or anything. I fell asleep to be shaken to be awoken at around 5:00am due to a fire drill.

Here we had to stand outside the dorm rooms in a line, I saw other inmates at this point and I felt so bad for these other poor people, I knew none of their stories or how long they may have had to be there.

At around 5:55, we were put back in our rooms. I was told I would be awoken at 6:30 again for breakfast. I was. Breakfast was served in a dirty plastic tray. It consisted of very watery, what I think was porridge, a stale roll of bread, half a grapefruit, and 2 broken hard boiled eggs.

I ate the grapefruit, I had not eaten for a day and I was told I had to eat on the time schedules or I get nothing. The rest was inedible; it looked like it was picked out of a trash can and slopped onto this dirty brown plastic tray.

I proceeded to get back into bed, it was all I could do. An officer came in, I am unsure of the time, to shake me and wake me to make me get up, I told her I just got here at 4:45am, and said I needed to rest as I was meant to be travelling, I asked for a call, anything, I was denied these things. I was thankfully allowed to stay in bed. I tried to sleep more. The room was so cold with such an uncomfortable thing that they called a bed. I think I slept for a couple of hours more, I woke up and was just staring at the ceiling, wondering why on earth am I here and would I ever get out of here. I just lay there crying. I desperately needed to use the toilet, I was so humiliated to use it though as anyone could look through the windows. I just couldn't stop crying.

I asked an officer who came in to check on me what time I was leaving, she said she would check when, she never came back. I started to read the posters on the wall, one stating, all detainees are entitled to one free 3 minute phone call, I was not allowed this, I could not understand.

Another big sign stated all detainees are entitled to speak to the embassy, a lawyer etc etc, again, I was not allowed this and asked many times. Why was this? I could not understand.

I looked around the floor which was so filthy, covered in dust, hair, general dirt, blood stains, the toilet had dried urine all over and around it, it was so dirty, this place was not for someone to stay, and certainly not someone who was not a criminal. The shower and toilet where completely public, it was just beyond humiliating to have to go to the toilet with anyone able to see you.

Lunch was at 12pm. I had told them I am a vegetarian when asked about food and told my eating times, I asked for some fruit if possible just. The food came, I was unsure of what it was to be honest, it smelled disgusting, some sort of brown watery sauce, with mushrooms and some other things I could not identify, again, served with a stale roll of bread and some sort of dark purple juice. I picked at the roll.

I went back into bed to try to sleep again until I could awake from this nightmare.

Dinner came around 5pm. Chicken this time, covered in a sauce that looked like the lunchtime sauce, with a dried piece of bread, some rice and green beans, again in a dirty brown tray. Again this was inedible to me. An officer came in and enquired why was I not eating, I said I was vegetarian. I asked could I please have a piece of fruit or something please, she kind of laughed and said I will see what I can get you. She returned with 2 very hard stale muffin like things. I attempted to eat one, I was so hungry.

I asked her when I would be leaving, someone please tell me, she finally told me you should be getting ready in the next hour to go. Thank God I thought.

I lay in the bed again staring at the ceiling, I brushed my teeth, and awaited someone to get me. Just waiting staring at the door. Someone finally came, rude, but at least the door was opened. I was taken to holding room 224 again, where I had to get changed back to my clothes and get my belongings.

I awaited transportation. There were 4 women in the office talking to each other, speaking about their sexual lives and all these things that I found disgusting and certainly did not think I should be listening to. I was desperate to get away. I humoured the conversation smiling while I waited to get out of there.

Two officers turned up to escort me back to get my flight. It was at 9:25pm. I was told I could get my phone at the airport on arrival to call my mum who I knew would be very worried about me, as well as my partner.

The officers took me in this van again, 2 females, 1 male. One female took coffee orders for starbucks while I was waiting in the office at the detention center. On the way to the airport, they stopped at a terminal, I think before mine, while she went in and got coffees and snacks in a starbucks bag. I waited there around 10-15 minutes, while the other female officer called in the miles on their van and said they were checking me in which was untrue.

We got to my terminal finally. I was checked in and waited in the van while this was done. They came back to get me after this. We proceeded through security, I was escorted by 1 male and 1 female. I was told I could not have my phone until on the flight. I was allowed to buy a drink, we sat and awaited my flight.

I was so happy to be onboard my flight and be able to finally call my mum and my partner who were so worried. My mum told me the British Embassy told her I was in the airport and was happy and well taken care of. Either the U.S. embassy did not tell the British Embassy I was taken to a jail, or the British Embassy lied to my mum. I am unsure of this. My mum could not believe what I had told her had happened. Shocking that no one was informed of my whereabouts.

I felt so humiliated, so scared, I was terrified for my life. I had no idea where I was, what was going to happen to me. This was a very troublesome experience, and all just to get a couple of weeks holiday to see some friends and my partner and his family in America.

I was denied all my basic human rights, to have a lawyer, to speak to my embassy, I could not have any of it. To be treated like a criminal was just a disgusting experience, and so distressing.

I feel completely violated and even more so after reading the reputation of the detention center I stayed at, with 5 deaths at it due to people being denied medical treatment when needed, never mind the other issues protesters have been dealing with, with this detention center.

It was called the Elizabeth detention center, New Jersey. By just googling it, there was case after case of mistreatment poor people have suffered there.

I understood what I was told with I just need to get a visa and come back in the beginning. What I cannot understand is why I was so badly mistreated, why I was taken to a detention center, and there was no one else in holding, with lots of rooms I could have waited in at the airport and why I was denied the rights to speak to a lawyer, or my embassy, and why was I denied the rights stated in my dorm in the detention center.

I wonder if it was because I have a Syrian background? Did they just have a bad day and take it out on me? What was it to go through this humiliation?

I have had nightmares every night I try to sleep, waking sweating thinking I was there, reliving the fear I felt in the van wondering what was going to happen to me. I am so scared of anyone I see in an outfit representing law, thinking I have done something wrong they will put me in jail, even though I have done nothing. I still haven't eaten properly and have lost a lot of weight, I just feel on my nerves constantly.

There are more details no doubt of all that happened that I have left out, I just wanted to get the brief of what happened on paper to send this out to the right people who can help me get justice as I don't think this was right to suffer this humiliation.

If the police have... sweated you at school, dogged you in the streets, hit on you or otherwise sexually harassed you, or ... if the police have racially profiled, "stopped and frisked," threatened, tasered or brutalized you or any member of your family, ...if the police have killed friends or family.

Write us!!! Tell your story.
Revolution c/o RCP Publications,
Box 3486, Merchandise Mart,
Chicago, IL 60654-0486

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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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From Ike to Mao and Beyond
My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist
A Memoir by Bob Avakian

from Chapter Nine: Becoming a Communist

The Revolution Comes to Richmond

Because of the whole general upheaval that I've been describing, and all the back and forth over different ideas and programs, people were following closely what was happening all over the country. People in other parts of the country were very intensely following what was happening with things like People's Park, and people who didn't go to the Democratic Convention in 1968 were very intensely following that, and there were a lot of people who felt themselves a part of a whole movement, wherever things were happening. As one important dimension of this, there were over a hundred newspapers that eventually developed that were either written by or directed to GIs in the U.S. military — radical and revolutionary newspapers. And in different locales around the U.S., a lot of people were putting out their own newspapers. There were many different ways in which people were circulating their ideas and their experience, and many, many people were wrestling with all this. Of course, there were differences, but people were struggling out their differences, and even where you had differences, you would still unite in a lot of ways.

So, through this whole kind of process many people came to know about what we were doing in Richmond and the whole banner that we were trying to raise in practice as well as in theory of "going to the proletariat." A number of people were attracted to that, and people would get in contact with us. Some couples moved to Richmond and there were also individuals who'd come. A number of women came on their own to become part of this, and that was significant. As I said, we sort of started out, a few of us, with this view of ourselves as "macho revolutionaries," but we were changing — and being changed — in that, too. The women's movement was beginning to develop, and expressing itself in different ways throughout society. The RU initiated a major International Women's Day rally in San Francisco in 1970, but well before that all these different influences were all part of the ferment and upheaval that we were part of, and that were influencing us in important ways.

So we had sort of an inner core of RU people there in Richmond, but then there were broader groupings of people there who were working collectively and struggling collectively, and there were a lot of things going on in Richmond. At the same time, the RU was developing as more of an organization throughout the Bay Area — in San Jose and Stanford, in San Francisco and Berkeley, and in Oakland as well. And one of the most lasting and important things is that there are some people who got involved, who came to Richmond at that time, and who have stayed with things, in one way or another, all the way since then. People I can think back to, from the days in Richmond 35 years ago. At the same time, everything that this experience taught us became part of the development of a whole revolutionary line and program and strategy, and in that way it contributed to the founding of the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1975 and to its further development. So all of that was important at the time, but also made a lot of lasting contributions.

Through all this work in Richmond, we started meeting more people. We would meet adults who had kids, or we would just meet kids who were in junior high or high school. I remember one great walkout where the kids in one of the junior highs in Richmond busted out and climbed over the fence. This was in support of the farmworkers, so they went down to the Safeway, which was being boycotted by the farmworkers, and trashed it. It became a big thing. Dozens of them were busted and the action was written up and denounced in the local paper. But we mobilized support for this, and they all got off without having to go to juvenile prison. We would write and pass out leaflets and pamphlets about local issues as well as national and international events, and a number of kids just loved to pass these out in the junior high and high schools, partly because they agreed with it and were part of the whole movement, and also partly because they knew it really pissed off backward teachers and principals and school authorities, and they loved that part of it, too. In fact, some of the kids we knew hardly ever went to school, and one of the rare times they'd go is when they could take our pamphlets or leaflets in and pass them out and stir shit up.

So we were doing a lot of that, and then in 1969 there was this anti-Vietnam "moratorium" declared, with big demonstrations against the war back east and in San Francisco. As part of that, we got together with the Panthers, who were also in Richmond, and decided to call for a walkout and rally on the same day in Richmond. This had some really key elements that were missing from a lot of the other anti-war demonstrations. We focussed it in a park right across from Richmond High. And Richmond High was like — well, I think I mentioned before that when I was at Berkeley High people would say, "Richmond High! Even the white guys are tough over there!" It had this whole proletarian character to it.

We knew a teacher who taught at Richmond High. I went to his class one time, not long after we moved to Richmond, and I gave this whole rap about Vietnam — the history of it, what the U.S. was doing and why it was wrong, and so on. And I could tell that the students in the classroom had never heard this kind of stuff. Their teacher was progressive, but they'd never heard this whole thing laid out like this, and maybe part of the reason he invited me to talk to them was that he figured I could do this more easily than he could — he could just say he was having visiting speakers or whatever. So, while I'm laying out this rap on Vietnam, I can see in their faces and their body language that this is new to them. Finally a guy raises his hand and I was preparing myself for an argument, because I knew kids like this were bombarded with the standard pro-war propaganda — and this was a new experience for me, too. But he said: "What took you so long? How come you haven't come and talked to us about this kind of stuff before?" So I said, "Well, you know, that's a good point, but now we are here."

So we were building on that kind of thing when we went to Richmond High and put out a leaflet and called for a walkout and a rally. And about 500 people came to the rally, which was very significant for Richmond — there had never been an anti-war rally on that scale before in a place like Richmond, and it was overwhelmingly these proletarian youth, Black, Latino, and white, who walked out from the high school. Then, at the end of the rally about two to three hundred of us went over and surrounded the draft board in Richmond, which was drafting people out of Richmond but was also a good symbol of the whole war and the military. And it was a very militant demonstration. We found out later that the draft board was packed with pigs, just waiting for any excuse to attack, though things didn't come to a major confrontation that day. But we made our point, and it was very important to those who took part, and the youth in particular, that they were part of this whole bigger anti-war movement but had also made their statement right there, in Richmond. This was one of the high points of our work in Richmond.

A little while later, when students were shot and killed at Kent State and Jackson State,1 we were already doing work at the junior college in Richmond, Contra Costa College, as well as other places. We had waged a struggle together with students at Contra Costa to get the college to fund a day care center, because there were a lot of proletarian students there who couldn't afford childcare in order to go to school. That was an important battle, but we were also doing a lot of other kinds of political organizing and educational work — passing out leaflets, having rallies, giving speeches, and holding protests.

So when Kent State happened, I remember speaking at a rally at Contra Costa College. Basically the whole college, or a large part of it, had come to a standstill, and the level of unity there was very high. There were some students there, including some veterans of the military and the Vietnam War, who had some differences with us, but on that day we were all very tight in our outrage and our support of the students at Kent State. And then we learned about the murders of Black students at Jackson State, and that became a question that we took to the students and others in Richmond as well. It was a very powerful day — basically the campus at Contra Costa College came to a standstill. Because of all the weight that proletarian people have on them, Contra Costa College, like Richmond in general, had not historically been a place where it was easy for people to mobilize themselves politically. And, as that high school student had spoken to, people weren't coming to them to bring them an understanding of these things and to enable them to learn about the world. But this was changing through our work and through the general upheaval that was going on.

Learning From The Proletariat – Deep Bonds

Mao wrote about revolutionary youth going to the masses of working people and how, in his own experience, he learned a great deal more from them than he brought to them, even though obviously what he brought to them was very important. And this was also our experience in Richmond and my personal experience. We made not only many political ties but deep personal ties and friendships and relationships of various kinds with people that I still look back on very fondly. I think of the people often and feel strong bonds with them, even today.

There were many people who taught me many deep lessons. I remember this one white proletarian youth who was really just a beautiful guy. He was open to learning a lot of things, but he also taught me a tremendous amount, coming from his whole life experience and what the practical realities were, the difficulties of becoming politically active with the weight that was on him and on his mother, who was working a low-paying job trying to support the family. I still think about him a lot, and I remember very sadly, in fact, the last time I saw him. He came forward and became very revolutionary-minded and, as I said, he taught me a lot, but he was also pulled down by drugs at the time, and the last time I saw him we had a very deep-going, honest talk for several hours sitting in a car in Richmond, and he confided in me that he was hung up on heroin, and therefore he couldn't stay active in the revolution. This was a heartbreaking thing to me.

There were also some individuals in particular with whom I developed very deep bonds, people who mean a lot to me personally, and from whom I learned a great deal. For example, William Hinton wrote this book Fanshen about the experience of the Chinese Revolution. I used to read that book to some people in Richmond who didn't have a lot of formal education. And it was amazing to me — it really struck me — how readily and deeply they identified with the people who were the main characters, the poor peasants who were rising up to change the world in China, as described in Fanshen.

But also, early on, when I was reading to them, they would often stop me and say, "I don't know what that word means." So, after a while, when I was reading to them, I would be looking out for this and I would change some of the wording as I was reading, breaking words down into other words, while keeping the meaning so that they would get the essence of it. I wasn't watering down what was being said, but I was changing the language as I read, because the people I'm talking about had been denied almost literally any kind of formal education because of the poverty and difficulty of their circumstances. So I had to break this down into language that would convey the same meaning, but that they would be able to get. I would always do my best to read in a way that wasn't leaving them behind. And there would be struggle and criticism because sometimes I would forget or wouldn't do it very well — or I'd go too far and they'd say, "You know, I'm not an idiot."

I still remember this very vividly and fondly to this time, and I also learned a great deal from it. Sometimes people would ask me, "How is it that you give these speeches that break things down so people can understand them?" And I would cite this experience as one of the main ways that I learned the importance of doing that. This is mainly a question of your political and ideological understanding, or political and ideological line, as we say, and how to actually understand things well enough to be able to break them down and popularize them; but there was this dimension as well that was crucial for me. Along with the deep personal ties I made, this was also a great learning experience for me. I was very fortunate to have this experience where I had these kind of ties and personal relations with people where they would speak honestly with me, let me know when what I was saying, or reading to them, was getting across to them, and when it was missing the mark.

This is something that has remained very valuable to me up to today. And, on a personal level, I still have very fond remembrances and strong deep feelings of affection for the people I was so close to then.

To be continued

1. On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen killed four unarmed students demonstrating at Kent State University in Ohio. Shortly after that, on May 15, state troopers killed three Black students demonstrating at Jackson State, in Jackson, Mississippi. The killings sparked a nationwide student strike, massive demonstrations and, in many cases, further battles with police and National Guardsmen. [back]


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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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Spread Bob Avakian's Memoir Far and Wide!

Revolution is running a series of excerpts from Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. Previous excerpts appeared in issues #208-#212, #214-#218. We continue the series here.

From the description of the book: "Bob Avakian has written a memoir containing three unique but interwoven stories. The first tells of a white middle-class kid growing up in '50s America who goes to an integrated high school and has his world turned around; the second of a young man who overcomes a near-fatal disease and jumps with both feet into the heady swirl of Berkeley in the '60s; and the third of a radical activist who matures into a tempered revolutionary communist leader. If you think about the past or if you urgently care about the future ... if you want to hear a unique voice of utter realism and deep humanity ... and if you dare to have your assumptions challenged and your stereotypes overturned ... then you won't want to miss this book."

We're running these excerpts to encourage everybody to take the memoir out broadly, as part of what they do all the time, and to introduce many more people to Bob Avakian. The memoir gives a real sense of why the Message and Call of the campaign "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" says of Avakian: "He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world."

Some ways to get the memoir out:


Hear Bob Avakian read sections from his memoir.
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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of Revolution

Everyone who comes in contact with Revolution, in print or online, is invited, and challenged, to subscribe to and financially sustain this paper. This is an essential element of building a movement for revolution. This time of year, there is a special opportunity for those readers who most want Revolution to make a substantial difference to turn new people on to this paper while making it possible for it to continue to publish.

This is a challenge to those who have a sense of how important it is that Revolution cuts to the bone, telling the truth of what is happening in the world, but way beyond all that, digs up and reveals the root causes of outrages, from the devastation of the environment to the criminalization of a generation.... AND this is a challenge to those readers who get how important it is that Revolution reveals why and how things do NOT have to be this way....

In this issue, Revolution continues serializing Bob Avakian's important new talk, "Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon." Step back and think for a moment about what a difference it can make, right now and in the tumultuous years ahead, if people, and especially the youth, are exposed to and wrangle with today's most advanced revolutionary theory, with the new synthesis of Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. Think for a moment about how critical it is for people to learn, by digging into Bob Avakian's works and method and approach, that there is another way, a truly emancipatory way beside the deadly, dead-end alternatives being presented to them.

If you appreciate how vitally important it is that people around the world meet and connect with the leadership and work of Bob Avakian in this paper....

If you have a sense of the unique role this newspaper plays, along with developments in the world, in unlocking hidden revolutionary potential buried in people's thinking....

If you are one of those who have a feel for how Revolution is the hub and pivot of an emerging movement FOR REVOLUTION....

Then this holiday season you can do two things that will make a great difference:

One—Buy gift subscriptions for your friends. Make multiple copies of the subscription form on this page. You can elect to get a beautiful holiday gift card notifying your designees that they are getting a gift subscription. Consider the importance, in these times of relative political calm, but with great storms potentially on the horizon, of 200 new one-year subscriptions to Revolution by the end of this holiday season. Think hard, dig deep, and buy as many subs as you can. And put your head together with other readers in your city or town, workplace or campus, and come up with a goal of how many subs your community can buy for friends, neighbors, co-workers, coffee shops, hair salons, academic departments at universities and more. Send us your experiences to share with others.

Two—Donate to Revolution this holiday season. You can use the form on this page to give gifts to Revolution in the name of friends—a most appropriate present for those who care more about changing the world than accumulating a new gadget this holiday season. Have a heart-to-heart talk with friends who read the paper about making collective commitments to collect and turn in regular contributions each month. And, donate yourself, and collect donations from others for special holiday gift donations.


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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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"Lighting Up the Sky" with the
Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)

In the weeks following the release of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, people have begun experimenting with new and creative ways to tell the world of this radical step into the future.  The cover of the Constitution has begun to appear through light projections. It was seen projected on UC Berkeley's Sproul Hall (top), a major center of radical student protest in the 1960s. More recently, it was projected on buildings at and near the United Nations in New York (bottom). If you observe other creative expressions, send photos and descriptions to Revolution.

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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund sent the following request from a prisoner for the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal):

"This is the real change...

"Hello, my name is XXX and I am one of many thats being held in one of Alabama's many prisons. I am also a proud reader of the Revolution paper. I don't know what it is about some of the people here but when I bring this type of conversation to the table they shy away... I also [have friends] here [who] love the fact that I get this paper, everyone wants to get one but we understand that there are others that would like to get this paper in other prisons so we all share mine and build on the topics weekly. We are so excited about the CONSTITUTION for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. It's like waiting on Christmas when you were a kid. So Please, Please. Send me a copy so me and the few others that believe and think how I do can start putting this in our lives. You know Obama spoke of change... I don't see it... this is the real change.... Thank you for giving so many people a chance to be heard. Change is here."


For the holidays, give a gift of critical thinking and a life of the mind to a prisoner:

Adopt a subscription to Revolution newspaper for a prisoner.

  • $35 a month (or $420 a year) would provide a subscription for 12 prisoners every year.
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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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Who's Terrorizing Whom in Korea?

During the week of November 23, North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire. And on November 28, the U.S. and South Korea launched a highly provocative "war games," including a joint naval operation threatening North Korea (officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea—DPRK). North Korea's small and primitive nuclear weapons program is constantly in the news, but the U.S. maintains a "nuclear umbrella" over South Korea with a massive nuclear arsenal, some of it positioned in the region, that can strike North Korea at any time. There is a real danger of a terrible war erupting out of this situation.

The mainstream U.S. media depict this conflict as driven by irrational impulses of North Korea's ruler Kim Jung Il, and as related to succession issues in his regime. But the roots of this crisis reach far beyond North and South Korea. This conflict is rooted, in the most fundamental sense, in the drive to maintain and enforce the position of the USA as the planet's sole superpower, presiding over a world of exploitation and oppression.

* * *

The history of conflict between North and South Korea goes back to the period during and after World War 2—when defining elements of the global terrain were the confrontation between the world communist revolution and imperialist powers—especially the USA, and the struggle of oppressed nations, like Korea, to break free of imperialist domination. In the aftermath of World War 2, communist revolutionaries led by Mao Tsetung drove the imperialists out of China, and from 1949 to 1976—when a counterrevolutionary coup d'etat restored capitalism—China was a socialist state, and an inspiration for the world revolution.

In 1950, shortly after the victory of the revolution in China, U.S. troops (operating with some allies as a "United Nations" army) invaded Korea to stop forces seeking to drive out all foreign imperialists and unify Korea. The U.S.-UN troops advanced to the Chinese border with Korea and threatened to use nuclear weapons against China. China intervened in the war, and together Korean and Chinese fighters pushed the U.S.-UN invaders back to the 38th parallel. Korea was left divided in half—the U.S. occupied and dominated the south. Two states, North and South Korea, emerged.

In the following decades, the U.S. set up a series of fascistic pro-U.S. regimes that brutalized the people of South Korea (officially known as the Republic of Korea—ROK). South Korea has been a significant economic and political component of the U.S.-dominated imperialist world order. Today, 30,000 U.S. troops remain stationed in South Korea.

North Korea is not any kind of positive model of liberation either. Despite the invocation of "socialist" rhetoric, North Korea was never a socialist state. It is ensnared in and warped by the world imperialist setup, under a regime resembling a feudal monarchy.

Today the Korean peninsula is a flash point for a set of complex and intertwining regional and global power conflicts that have emerged over the past few decades. Korea borders both Russia and China—powers with their own agendas in Asia and beyond. Korea is situated in close proximity to Japan—a major imperialist power in its own right, and a key U.S. ally.

North Korea has felt compelled to, and has been able to develop a very small nuclear weapons program. This program is minuscule compared with those of the U.S., Russia, France, China, Israel, or India. To date, North Korea has never attacked anyone with nuclear weapons, but the U.S. has—killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians at the end of World War 2 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (for a catalog of U.S. nuclear threats and blackmail since that time, see "Obama Speeches at West Point and Oslo: More Troops in Afghanistan and Preserving U.S. Nuclear Dominance... Is This the Path to Ending the Horrors of War?" by Larry Everest, in Revolution).

Nevertheless, in the context of the U.S. violently imposing its domination on the world, U.S. bullying of North Korea plays a role in jockeying with Russia and China for power in Asia.

In his speech to the UN in 2002, in the early stages of what has become an endless war on the world, George W. Bush placed North Korea, along with Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, on the infamous "axis of evil" list. To many, this was simply another illustration of Bush's inability or refusal to engage with reality. But while there was a definite and fundamental element of lying in Bush's speech, he also—inadvertently—revealed something about the actual nature of the so-called "War on Terror." What North Korea had in common with other countries that Bush (dishonestly) claimed were associated with 9/11 is that the North Korean regime and its relationship with other countries is an impediment to the real agenda of that war—to forcefully reassert and embed the U.S. as the world's sole imperialist superpower.

As has been the case with the rest of what was called the "War on Terror," attempts to isolate and subjugate North Korea have not gone particularly well for the U.S. Documents exposed by Wikileaks on November 28 indicate that the U.S. believes Iran is attempting to adapt North Korean rockets for use as long-range missiles. The North Korean regime has been able to find maneuvering room in a world and in a region where many of the world's rival powers are contending. Huge numbers of South Koreans and many U.S. military personnel are within range of North Korean artillery. For U.S. imperialism, North Korea falls into the category of "rogue states"—defined not by how repressive they are, or how brutally their people are exploited, but whether or not they are loyal lackeys of the U.S.

Any U.S.-South Korean military action in Korea is unjust, regardless of who supposedly "shot first." It would be war to enforce and more deeply tighten the chains of a capitalist-imperialist world, presided over by U.S. imperialism. And that is a world of child laborers and massive enslavement of women in the "sex trade"... a world of profit-driven environmental disasters and constant threat of unjust war... a world of brutal repression of dissent and rebellion.

An important part of building a movement for revolution, to bring into being a new kind of world free of all oppression, is for people in the United States to STOP looking at the world as Americans, and start looking at the world from the interests of humanity. And from that standpoint, it is important that people in the U.S. oppose "their own" ruling class in its wars of aggression, including any military moves by the U.S. in Korea.

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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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Revolutionary Strategy

Some Principles for Building A Movement for Revolution

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 #219, December 12, 2010

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Read and Spread Revolution Newspaper

We have a strategy—and our newspaper is, as "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have" 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.

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Revolution #219, December 12, 2010

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SUSTAIN Revolution financially each month!

Revolution newspaper is the foundation, guideline, and organizational scaffolding for the movement we are building for revolution. Stop and think about it—how essential is that?! But the reality is that this newspaper will not fill this need without more people becoming regular monthly sustainers. Sign up yourself to contribute regularly. And then, wherever you are—at a protest, a concert, selling Revolution, at FaceBook... or just hanging out—struggle with people, including people you just met, to sustain Revolution regularly. Once a week, check yourself: How is this going? How many new sustainers did you sign up?

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Revolution #219, December 12, 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 #219, December 12, 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

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