Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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A Statement from the
Revolutionary Communist Party


Under this system of capitalism, so many in this society and so much of humanity are forced to endure great hardship and suffering, exploitation, injustice and brutality, while wars and the ongoing destruction of the natural environment threaten the very future of humanity. In the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) our Party has set forth an inspiring vision, and concrete measures, for the building of a new society, a socialist society, aiming for the final goal of a communist world, where human beings everywhere would be free of relations of exploitation and oppression and destructive antagonistic conflicts, and could be fit caretakers of the earth. But to make this a reality, we need revolution.

Many people insist, "there could never be a revolution in this country: the powers-that-be are too powerful, the people are too messed up and too caught up in going along with the way things are, the revolutionary forces are too small." This is wrong—revolution is possible.

Of course revolution cannot happen with conditions and people the way they are now. But revolution can come about as conditions and people are moved to change, because of developments in the world and because of the work of people come to see that things do not have to be this they come to understand why things are the way they are and how things could be radically different...and as they are inspired and organized to join the revolutionary movement and build up its forces.

Revolution will not be made by acting all crazy—trying to bring down this powerful system when there is not yet a basis for that—or by just waiting for "one fine day" when revolution will somehow magically become possible. Revolution requires consistent work building for revolution, based on a serious, scientific understanding of what it takes to actually get to the point of revolution, and how to have a real chance of winning.

In order for revolution to be real there must be: a revolutionary crisis, and a revolutionary people, numbering in the millions and led by a far-seeing, highly organized and disciplined revolutionary party. Clearly, this is not the reality now. So, how can this come about? And what is the strategic plan?

The potential for a revolutionary crisis lies within the very nature of this capitalist system itself—with its repeated economic convulsions, its unemployment and poverty, its profound inequalities, its discrimination and degradation, its brutality, torture and wars, its wanton destruction. All this causes great suffering. And at times it leads to crisis on one level or another—sudden jolts and breakdowns in the "normal functioning" of society, which compel many people to question and to resist what they usually accept. No one can say in advance exactly what will happen in these situations—how deep the crisis may go, in what ways and to what extent it might pose challenges to the system as a whole, and to what degree and in what ways it might call forth unrest and rebellion among people who are normally caught up in, or feel powerless to stand up against, what this system does. But two points are very important:

1) Such "jolts" in the "normal functioning" of things, even if they do not develop all the way to a fundamental crisis for the system as a whole, do create situations in which many more people are searching for answers and open to considering radical change. The work of building the movement for revolution must be consistently carried out at all times, but in these situations of sharp breaks with the "normal routine" there is greater possibility, and greater potential, to make advances. This must be fully recognized and built on to the greatest degree possible, so that through such situations, leaps are made in building up the movement and the organized forces for revolution, creating in this way a stronger basis from which to work for further advances.

2) In certain situations, major events or big changes can happen in society and the world and can come together in such a way that the system is shaken to its foundations...deep cracks appear and magnify within the ruling structures and institutions...the raw relations of oppression are more sharply exposed...conflicts among the powers-that-be deepen, and cannot be easily resolved, and it becomes much more difficult for them to hold things together under their control and keep people down. In this kind of situation, for great numbers of people, the "legitimacy" of the current system, and the right and ability of the ruling powers to keep on ruling, can be called seriously and directly into question, with millions hungering for a radical change that only a revolution can bring about.

More needs to be learned, and will be learned, about how the revolutionary struggle can win when these conditions have been brought into being, but the basic strategic conception and approach has been developed for actually defeating and dismantling the oppressive forces and institutions of this system—and bringing into being new institutions of a new, revolutionary system—when there is a revolutionary crisis and a revolutionary people. (This basic conception and approach is set forth in "On the Possibility of Revolution"—and this is also included in the pamphlet Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation—published by our Party.)

But the possibility of revolution will never really ripen unless those who recognize the need for revolution are preparing the ground for this politically and ideologically even now: working to influence the thinking of people in a revolutionary direction, organizing them into the struggle against this system, and winning growing numbers to become actively involved in building the movement for revolution. This is what our Party is all about, and what we mean when we say we are "hastening while awaiting" the changes that make revolution possible. This is the key to breaking through the situation where there are not yet the necessary conditions and forces to make revolution, but those conditions and forces will never be brought into being by just waiting for them to appear.

All along the way, both in more "normal times" and especially in times of sharp breaks with the "normal routine," it is necessary to be working consistently to accumulate forces—to prepare minds and organize people in growing numbers—for revolution, among all those who can be rallied to the revolutionary cause. Among the millions and millions who catch hell in the hardest ways every day under this system. But also among many others who may not, on a daily basis, feel the hardest edge of this system's oppression but are demeaned and degraded, are alienated and often outraged, by what this system does, the relations among people it promotes and enforces, the brutality this embodies.

What is the way to carry out this work? Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. This is a big part of the answer. People need to fight back, and people do fight back, against the many ways human beings, and the environment, are exploited, degraded, ravaged and even destroyed by this system. But to make that fight more powerful—and, more, to carry it through to put an end to all this—people need to learn that the fundamental problem is this capitalist system, and the solution is getting rid of this system and bringing into being a new system, socialism, aiming for the final goal of a communist world. Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution is a key part of our strategic approach, which provides a way for the Party to unite with and give leadership to people to change themselves as they take part in the struggle to change the lift their heads and broaden their vision, to recognize what kind of world is possible, what their real interests are, and who their real friends and real enemies are, as they rise up against this take up a revolutionary viewpoint and revolutionary values and morals as they join with others to resist this system's crimes and build up the basis for the ultimate all-out revolutionary struggle to sweep this system away and bring in a whole new way of organizing society, a whole new way of become emancipators of humanity.

For all this to happen, and for the revolution to have a real chance of winning, leadership is essential. And there is such leadership. But there is also much work to do.

To support and strengthen our Party as the overall leadership of this revolution. The more our Party's revolutionary viewpoint and strategy is spread and gains influence throughout society...the more that people come to understand and agree with what the Party is all about, and join its ranks on that basis...the more the Party's "reach" extends to every corner of the country...the greater its organizational strength and its ability to withstand and to lead people forward in the face of government repression aimed at crushing resistance and killing off revolution—the more the basis for revolution will be prepared and the more favorable the chance of winning.

To learn from the Chairman of our Party, Bob Avakian, spread the knowledge and influence of his pathbreaking leadership, and defend and protect this rare and precious leader. Bob Avakian has dedicated his life since the 1960s to the cause of revolution and communism. While providing practical leadership to the Party and the revolutionary movement, he has deeply studied and summed up the world historical experience of the communist revolution and the socialist societies it has brought into being—the great achievements and the serious problems and errors—and has studied many other fields of human experience and knowledge. He has advanced the science of communism and made decisive breakthroughs in the theory, method, and strategy of revolution and the final goal of communism throughout the world. It is crucial for growing numbers of people to know about and study his talks and defend and protect take up the leadership he is providing, which opens new pathways for revolution.

To much more fully wield our Party's newspaper, Revolution. This plays a pivotal role in carrying out our strategy. Through publishing works of Bob Avakian, and through many different articles, interviews, letters, graphics, and other features, Revolution enables people to really understand and act to radically change the world....It gives people a living picture and scientific analysis of what is going on in the world, and why....It exposes the true nature of this system, and shows how major events in society and the world are concentrations of the basic contradictions of this oppressive and putrid system....It brings alive the need and possibility for revolution and a whole new society and world....It heightens the ability of growing numbers of people, in all parts of this country, to act politically in a unified way, and to wrestle with and help find solutions to the problems of our movement, on the basis of a growing revolutionary consciousness....It is the key instrument in developing an organized political network, among the most oppressed and other sections of the people, which can have a growing impact on the political scene and the society (and the world) as a whole, building up the forces of revolution and influencing ever broader numbers of people....It provides a foundation and a means for extending the "reach" of the revolutionary movement and building up bases for this movement—in neighborhoods, where people work and go to school, and wherever people come together—and especially where they resist and rebel against this system.

All this can enable the revolutionary movement, with the Party at the core, to confront and overcome the very real obstacles in its advance and grow, through ongoing work, and through a series of critical leaps in times of sudden breaks and ruptures with the "normal routine" prepare the ground, and accumulate forces, for revolution—and have a real chance at winning. It is how thousands can be brought forward and oriented, organized and trained in a revolutionary way, while beginning to reach and influence millions more, even before there is a revolutionary situation...and then, when there is a revolutionary situation, those thousands can be a backbone and pivotal force in winning millions to revolution and organizing them in the struggle to carry the revolution through.

For those who have hungered for, who have dreamed of, a whole different world, without the madness and torment of what this system brings every day...those who have dared to hope that such a world could be possible...and even those who, up to now, would like to see this, but have accepted that this could never happen...there is a place and a role, a need and a means, for thousands now and ultimately millions to contribute to building this movement for revolution, in many different ways, big and small—with ideas and with practical involvement, with support, and with questions and criticisms. Get together with our Party, learn more about this movement and become a part of it as you learn, acting in unity with others in this country, and throughout the world, aiming for the very challenging but tremendously inspiring and liberating—and, yes, possible—goal of emancipating all of humanity through revolution and advancing to a communist world, free of exploitation and oppression.


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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Getting Out the Statement on Strategy

Editors' note: We received the following from a reader, and encourage readers to check back at soon for more correspondence on getting out the statement "On The Strategy For Revolution" from the Revolutionary Communist Party

It's really important to get the statement "On The Strategy For Revolution" into the hands of as many people as possible. There are a lot of interesting plans to do just that—taking it into barbershops and cafeterias on campuses and stirring up controversy and debate on the spot, having salons over it with long time and newer ties, distributing it at conferences and other gatherings, placing an ad for it in a newspaper with a significant readership among Black people in a large city, etc. It is important to follow thru on these and other plans and to report on them to the readers of Revolution.

I wanted to contribute an experience I had with the statement. I was walking down a major street in a Black neighborhood of a large city on the way to meet up with a professor to get him the statement and talk with him about the April 11th Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World. As I got to our hook up spot, I took the paper out, and someone I had known for decades but hadn't seen in a while walked up to me. We greeted each other, and he pointed to the front page of the paper and asked, "Is that really about that?" I asked what he meant, and he said, "Is that really about a strategy for revolution, for revolution here?" I said "Yes, and you need to get this and read it." He handed me a dollar and began telling me about something he was involved in that he wanted the Party to be a part of. I told him to send me the info on it and to read this issue of the paper and let me know what he thought of it. He said he definitely would.

As he left, a younger Black guy who had overheard our conversation tapped me on the shoulder and asked could he get one of those papers, and he bought one too. I missed something important here because I neglected to ask for his contact info.

Then the prof I was waiting to meet came up. He was late getting to his class, so I quickly got him the material around BAsics and the Celebration of Revolution and raised several things he could do to make this as powerful as possible. I also got him the paper and told him he should read the statement and let us know what he thought of it, and it needed to get to his students too.

He responded first to the things I had proposed around BAsics and the celebration. Then he said, I should come to session of his class and speak about the strategy for revolution. (He teaches a class on the history of the civil rights movement, and as part of that, he does a session on the relation between the issues and struggles of Black people in the 1960's and today.) He said, "Then they can get the strategy paper from you." I thought, yeah this strategy piece would definitely fit into to a discussion about that.

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Promoting the statement On Strategy...

Received from a reader:

I thought other readers of Revolution would be interested to know that in our city we are raising money to buy an ad in a local Black community newspaper for the statement: On the Strategy for Revolution from the Revolutionary Communist Party.

Here's the wording we're using:


"Many people insist, 'there could never be a revolution in this country: the powers-that-be are too powerful, the people are too messed up and too caught up in going along with the way things are, the revolutionary forces are too small.' This is wrong – revolution is possible."


Read the full statement

Send us your comments.

Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Meeting the BAsics Challenge

Editors' note: We received the following from a reader. Make sure we hear your experience on the BAsics challenge!

March 8, 2011

Some people in the projects in one city worked on a fundraising project to sell dinner-plates around their buildings on two consecutive weekends to raise money for the publication of BAsics. The main "cook" reads and distributes Revolution newspaper to people he knows. He said he "cooked for the revolution" because while some people know about Bob Avakian and the revolution, many more people need to know what this is all about. Between the two weekends, the dinner sale answered the "BAsics Challenge" issued by the person who wrote it to others to match their $200 donation (printed in #224).

In speaking later about his motivation, the person said:

"You say that you're preparing for revolution but most people around here don't even think you can stand up to anything. Until y'all came around! They never seen anybody stand up like that. They see people standing up for them. The Revolution is here, and people see that. People may not say it to you but they talking about it. I see it live with my own eyes and I love it. Y'all have no idea how important what you doin' is. I love y'all so much! I don't mind cooking for y'all because you give me peace of mind. You give me purpose. You give me something to be part of. You give me the feeling that world could actually be a better place. I really mean that."

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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We are happy to announce the publication of a draft version of an Arabic translation of the Manifesto from the RCP, USA, "Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage." We thank the reader who translated this, and the many people who contributed their efforts to going over the translation. And we ask anyone fluent in both languages to contribute their thinking on how to make the translation even better.

But the main thing, right now, is that we ask everyone to help get this draft translation out to Arabic-speaking people—at a time when people's uprisings are opening up new hopes and an urgent need for a scientific understanding of why the world is the way it is... why and how it changes... and what is necessary for this change to be truly emancipatory. Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the RCP, USA, recently wrote that this Manifesto is a critical part of a whole body of work that strives "to draw as deeply and fully as possible the critical lessons from the historical experience of the communist revolution and the socialist societies it has brought into being—the very real and great achievements, and the serious errors and setbacks—and to learn from the broader experience of human society and its historical development, in order to contribute all we can to the advance of the revolutionary struggle and the emancipation of oppressed people throughout the world."

Send us your comments.

Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Revolution Interviews Raymond Lotta: The Events in Libya in Historical Perspective... Muammar Qaddafi in Class Perspective... The Question of Leadership in Communist Perspective

Revolution: We're speaking at a time when the uprising in Libya is being met with brutal force by the Muammar Qaddafi regime. In Egypt, Mubarak stepped down under pressure of the mass revolt and the obvious prod from the military. So one of the big questions on people's minds is what's similar and what's different as between Libya and Egypt.

Raymond Lotta: It's an important place to start the discussion. The uprising in Libya is an expression of profound discontent in Libyan society. Broad sections of Libyan society, taking inspiration from events in Tunisia and Egypt, have risen against an oppressive regime. And this uprising in Libya is part of the wave of rebellion sweeping through the imperialist-dominated Middle East.

But when you compare events in Libya with those of Egypt, there are two major differences.

First, in Libya, you have a situation where imperialist intrigue is commingling with genuine and just mass upheaval. This makes things highly complicated.

In Egypt, the uprising was overwhelmingly a product of mass discontent against a U.S-backed client regime. But U.S. imperialism had a reliable base within the leadership and command structure of the Egyptian military. That military has been trained, financed, and equipped by the U.S. It's been the U.S.'s most vital asset in trying to stabilize the situation in Egypt to its advantage. I mean being able to stabilize from within the existing state apparatus... in order to maintain Egypt as a key flank of U.S. dominance in the Middle East. And the U.S. also has large, direct economic interests in Egypt.

Now the outcome of the uprising in Egypt has by no means been sealed. Protests are still erupting, people are debating what's been accomplished and what hasn't, and things are still in motion. But what I'm getting at is that U.S. imperialism has important capacities and assets inside Egypt.

That's not the case in Libya. You don't have that kind of military apparatus with such close ties to the U.S. The Libyan state structure—here I'm speaking of key ministries and sections of the security apparatus—is fracturing and splitting in response to the uprising and the pressures of imperialism. And the U.S. does not have the same kind of large economic holdings in Libya as it does in Egypt.

So this creates both necessity and opportunity for the U.S. and West European imperialists. They are reaching out to and seeking to bolster oppositional forces in Libya who might be the embryo of an entirely new neocolonial regime... one that would be a more pliant tool of Western interests. And it can't be ruled out that imperialist operatives have, from the very beginning of this uprising, been assisting some of the oppositional forces.

So as I said, while there is genuine and just mass upheaval, there are also significant elements of imperialist maneuvering involved. These are things that we need to analyze and understand more deeply.

Revolution: You mentioned two major differences.

Lotta: Yes. The second major difference between what's happening in Libya and the upheavals in other parts of the Middle East is Qaddafi himself. Muammar Qaddafi is not the same as Mubarak.

I know this is not the official story line of the State Department or the narrative put out on CNN about a crazed, autocratic ruler... but Qaddafi actually had popular support when he came to power in 1969, especially from sections of the intelligentsia and professional and middle classes. He had popular bases of support for many years of his rule.

For three decades, Qaddafi was viewed by many inside and outside of Libya as someone standing up for the genuine national interests of Libya... as someone who stood against imperialism and the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

And the fact is... Qaddafi was for many years a real thorn in the side of imperialism, especially the U.S. Let's not forget that in 1986 Ronald Reagan launched fighter attacks and bombed Libya's two largest cities, tried to assassinate Qaddafi, and in the bombings killed one of his daughters.

Qaddafi is not the same as the openly servile Hosni Mubarak... even though the Qaddafi regime never fundamentally broke with or fundamentally challenged imperialism.

Revolution: This gets us into the history of Libya and Qaddafi. It would be helpful if you could provide some background.

Lotta: Well, Libya did not really exist as a unitary state until after World War 2. It gained its formal independence in 1951.

In the late 1500s, the coastal regions of what is today Libya were conquered by the Turkish Ottoman empire. In 1910, Italian imperialism moved to colonize the area of Libya. Libya is strategically located in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea. When Italy came to the imperialist banquet table, other colonial powers had already imposed their presence in the region. The British ruled Egypt. The French had colonized Algeria. From 1911 to 1943, Italy employed savage means to consolidate its rule in Libya. The historian Abdullatif Ahmida describes this as one of the most brutal colonizations of the 20th century.

Italy was on the losing side of World War 2. After the war, the U.S. and Britain put their weight behind a pro-Western constitutional monarchy in Libya headed by King Idris. He allowed the U.S. to set up Wheelus Air Base. It was one of the U.S.'s largest overseas military facilities... and the base was used for military training, missile testing, and for fighter and reconnaissance missions.

Revolution: Of course, Libya has been a major oil producer.

Lotta: Actually, it was only in 1959 that large oil deposits were discovered in Libya. U.S. and European companies moved in big time to set up production operations. The banking sector grew rapidly, especially after an oil pipeline to the Mediterranean Sea was finished. Oil revenues soared through the decade of the 1960s. But the foreign oil companies were getting the lion's share of earnings. And what oil wealth did return to Libya... it was concentrated in the hands of a small mercantile, banking, and speculator elite.

Poverty remained widespread. And the opportunities for a new middle class growing in connection with the oil economy... they were limited. So, mass resentment against the Idris monarchy was growing.

Then you had the impact of regional and world events. In 1967, Israel attacked Egypt and Syria with the support of the U.S. In Libya, students, intellectuals, and workers organized mass actions and strikes. There were also protests against the U.S. war in Vietnam. Unrest was spreading in the face of the Libyan government's total subordination to the West.

In the 1960s, a wave of national liberation struggles—in Asia, Latin America, and Africa—was battering imperialism and shook the international order. This aroused literally hundreds of millions throughout the world to rise in resistance. This was a time when a new nationalist spirit was being stirred, when ideas of Arab unity against imperialism were taking hold. It was a time when revolutionary China was influencing social forces and Marxism-Leninism was a big part of the ideological discourse. But the fact that the U.S. was under this kind of siege also provided openings for many different class forces who had been held down by imperialism. They saw new possibilities.

Revolution: So this was setting the stage for Qaddafi.

Lotta: Yes. Qaddafi was part of a group of young army officers influenced by the pan-Arabist and social reformist ideas of Gamal Nasser, the leader of Egypt. Qaddafi came from poor desert-tribal origins, and other radical-minded officers came from lower-class backgrounds. The military was one of the few institutions in Libyan society that afforded them any chance of training and mobility.

These young army officers were outraged by the corruption and subservience of the ruling regime. They saw themselves as the bearers of a new Libya. And in 1969, they organized a coup against the King and constituted a new government out of what they called their Revolutionary Command Council.

Revolution: Maybe you could say more about the program of Qaddafi?

Lotta: Qaddafi argued that Libya's national sovereignty had been bartered away, that foreign capital had been allowed to dictate to the Libyan people. He accused the old order of squandering Libya's oil resources and doing little to alleviate the suffering of the Libyan people.

He forced the U.S. to accelerate its timetable for closing down Wheelus Air Base. He moved to nationalize banks. He made the government a major stakeholder in the oil industry. He promised to develop agriculture and industry and did direct some funds into these sectors. He enacted social programs in the 1970s that over the next 20 years led to real improvements in mass literacy, life expectancy, and housing. These actions and polices had popular support.

But for all of Qaddafi's anti-imperialist rhetoric, this whole project rested on the preservation and expansion of Libya's oil-based economy. It rested on Libya's continued insertion into the global capitalist system... its division of labor and international relations of exploitation.

Qaddafi relied heavily on Western Europe as a market for Libyan oil. He used oil revenues to buy French jets, to attract German manufacturing capital to Libya, and even to become a major investor in Italy's largest auto company. Italy, the old colonial power, was allowed to keep its operations going in Libya.

Revolution: You've focused on the economic base of Qaddafi's program, but what about the other dimensions of what he was doing?

Lotta: Qaddafi harnessed oil revenues to restructure society. He was creating a social welfare system with particular political features. He set up "people's committees" at local levels in order to widen his political support and to redirect tribal and clan loyalties toward the central regime. At the same time, he outlawed unions and independent political organization and muzzled press criticism of the regime.

He used oil revenues to build up a large security and military apparatus... both to put down any internal opposition to the regime and to project Libya as a political model and regional force in the Middle East and Africa.

Ideologically, the Qaddafi regime combined social welfarism and pan-Arabism with retrograde values. Islam was made the official state religion. Women had more opportunities than before, but patriarchal Sharia law was made the foundation of legal-social codes. Qaddafi was vehemently anticommunist... and claimed to be finding a third way between capitalism and communism.

The reality was that Qaddafi was creating a state capitalism... based on oil revenues and beholden to world imperialism for markets, technology, transport, and investment capital.

Revolution: You're saying there was nothing authentically radical about this project.

Lotta: Qaddafi was changing things, but within the existing framework of imperialist dominance, capitalist property relations, and a complex web of tribal loyalties and regional divisions.

There was nothing truly transformative in terms of breaking with imperialism. There was nothing truly transformative in terms of the masses having the kind of leadership and radically different political state power that could enable them to remake the economy and society in a truly liberating direction.

Bob Avakian has this very incisive formulation about "three alternatives" in the world. Now I am paraphrasing here, but he basically says this. The first alternative is to leave the world as it is... which is totally unacceptable. Or you can make some changes in the distribution of wealth and forms of rule, but leave the basic exploitative production and oppressive social relations of society and the world basically intact. That's the second alternative.

Or, and this is the third alternative, you can make a genuine revolution. A revolution that aims to transform all relations of exploitation, all oppressive institutions, all oppressive social arrangements, and all enslaving ideas and values... a revolution to overcome the very division of human society into classes. That third alternative is the world proletarian revolution to achieve communism.

Qaddafi's program, his social and economic model, fits into that second alternative that changes some aspects of the status quo but keeps the oppressive essence of existing social order the same.

Revolution: What comes across in the general coverage of Qaddafi, the indictment that's made, is that he is this ruthless "strongman."

Lotta: You know, this notion of the "strongman"... it's a "straw man." It obscures the essence, the class essence, of things. This is what Marxism enables us to understand.

Look, all societies at this stage of human history are divided into classes. Leaders don't float in some ether. They concentrate the outlook, the methods, and aspirations of different classes. Qaddafi and those military officers who took power in 1969, what I was talking about earlier... they represented and concentrated the outlook of a radicalized sector of the petty bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie of a nation oppressed by imperialism.

They felt stymied by imperialist subjugation. And from their class standpoint, the problem, as they saw it, was that Libya was getting a bad deal. They wanted to make market mechanisms, which are based on exploitation and the production of profit, somehow "work" for the benefit of the whole nation. They had this illusion that they would be able to wrench concessions from imperialism... and force imperialism to come to terms with them. But the fact is: global capitalism operates according to a definite logic and imposes its norms on these societies and economies.

These bourgeois nationalist forces claimed to speak for the whole nation. They saw their interests as being identical with the interests of all social classes in the nation. But there are dominant and dominated classes in these nations.

You know one of the slogans that Qaddafi raised, I think it's in his so-called "Green Book," was: "not wage earners but partners." In other words, here you have this system based on profit and integration into capitalist world markets, but somehow you could turn everyone into equal stakeholders. That was both populist rhetoric and illusion.

Wage earners, or proletarians, do not own means of production. In order to survive, they must sell their labor power to those who do command control over the means of production: the capitalists. The capitalist class exploits workers in the production process to make profit, and to continue to make profit on an ever-expanding scale. And when sufficient profit cannot be generated, wage-laborers are cast off. The basic condition of wage labor is its domination by capital and its subordination to the accumulation of capital. There is a basic antagonism between workers and capitalists.

In Libya, wage-labor is part of the foundation of the economy. In Libya today, there's 20 percent unemployment. The reality is that wage earners cannot be "partners" of capital.

Politically and ideologically, these aspiring bourgeois forces feared the basic masses... they feared that the masses would step beyond their reformist, let's-make-a-deal-with-imperialism program. And they tried to control and contain those on the bottom of society.

My point is that whatever idiosyncrasies Qaddafi might have... if you want to understand the Qaddafi program, you have to analyze the class interests and outlook that he represents and how those interests were interacting with the world situation. I mean, you can call Barack Obama "calm" and "worldly," or whatever, but what he's really about... is that he concentrates the exploitative and murderous interests of empire and the world outlook of an imperialist ruling class.

Revolution: Qaddafi held on for so long and did have those radical credentials.

Lotta: Yes. When Qaddafi consolidated power in the early 1970s, the regime had certain things going for it in world politics and world economics. To begin with, the U.S. was facing defeat in Vietnam and its global economic power was weakening. So that created some space.

Second, the Soviet Union was challenging the U.S. globally. Now the Soviet Union claimed to be socialist. But socialism in the Soviet Union had been overthrown by a new capitalist class in the mid-1950s. The Soviet Union became a social-imperialist power. By the mid-1970s, it was contending for influence and control in different parts of the world. Part of its global strategy was to build up client regimes in key areas of the Third World. The Soviet Union began offering economic aid, oil agreements, and diplomatic support to regimes like that headed by Qaddafi... and the Soviets became a major weapons supplier to Libya.

And there was a third factor. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the world oil industry was going through changes. The major oil companies were entering into new arrangements with oil producers in the Third World. Formal control over production was allowed to pass into the hands of Third World governments and their state oil companies. Imperialist domination was exerted through control over oil refining, marketing, technology, and finance. But now producer countries had more latitude at the production level... you have the Third World producers cartel, OPEC. And in the 1970s the price of oil was rising. These developments worked to Qaddafi's advantage.

Revolution: So all of this gave Qaddafi some maneuvering room economically and politically.

Lotta: Yes... but to do what? You see, bourgeois nationalist forces such as Qaddafi were neither willing nor able to lead the masses to break with imperialism and to carry forward a liberating social revolution. As I said, they chafed under imperialism but also feared the masses. Again, this has to do with their class nature of these rulers: they were held down by relations of imperialism but could not see beyond a world in which they control exploitative relations... rather than a world that has abolished exploitation.

So here you have Qaddafi... securing his hold on power... wheeling and dealing with imperialism...  and seeking to modernize an oil economy subordinated to the norms of world capitalist production. Over 95 percent of Libya's export earnings were coming from oil, and in the 1973-83 decade, Libya became one of the three largest weapons importers in the Third World. This was distorted and dependent development.

As things unfolded, these national bourgeois forces in power evolved into the core of an oppressive ruling bourgeois elite dependent on and tied into imperialism.

On the international stage, Qaddafi criticized conservative Arab regimes and presented himself as the real champion of the Palestinian people's rights. He voiced support for African liberation. This was part of his popularity.

Revolution: In the 1980s, Qaddafi was demonized by the U.S. imperialists as a mad-dog ruler.

Lotta: Yes, but this had nothing to do with the repressiveness of the regime or Qaddafi's style of rule. I mean the U.S. was propping up brutal client regimes and "strongman despots" in Central America—and their human rights violations made Qaddafi look positively benign. The problem the U.S. imperialists had with Qaddafi was his close ties to the Soviet bloc... the problem they had was assertiveness in supporting certain radical movements and groups that might benefit the Soviet bloc at a time when the rivalry between the U.S. and Soviet-led blocs was heading towards a global military showdown.

In the 1980s, the U.S. ramped up the vilification of Qaddafi. Reagan provoked aerial fights with Soviet-made Libyan jets off the Libyan coast and launched that military attack on Libya that I referred to earlier. The U.S. set out to punish the regime with economic sanctions and diplomatic pressures. U.S. oil companies suspended operations.

Now, as I have mentioned, Libya has been a significant energy supplier to Western Europe. This was a source of tension between the U.S. and the West European imperialists. I think there is strong evidence that Reagan's military attacks on Libya were also aimed at bringing the West European imperialists more closely into line, as the face-off with the Soviet social-imperialist bloc was intensifying.

Under U.S. pressure, the UN imposed sanctions on Libya. These moves to isolate Libya began to pinch Libya's economy and periodic declines in world oil prices hurt the economy as well. And Libya's oil industry was in need of upgrading and new investment.

Then in 1989-91, the Soviet Union and its bloc collapsed. This marked a qualitative shift in international relations. It knocked a lot of the wind out of Qaddafi's project. He no longer had this great power backing. And the demise of the Soviet Union gave the U.S. new freedom—and it moved to exploit this new freedom in the Middle East and other parts of the Third World.

In this changed situation, Qaddafi began cultivating closer ties with the West European imperialists. By the end of the 1990s, relations were restored with Great Britain. Italy was allowed greater sway over Libya's oil and natural gas sectors.

Revolution: It does seem that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was another turning point.

Lotta: I think that's right. It put more pressure on Qaddafi—would Libya be next? Qaddafi was also worried about a fundamentalist Islamic challenge to his rule. So he began making overtures to the U.S. After 9/11, the Qaddafi regime started sharing intelligence about al-Qaida-type forces with the U.S. In 2004, Qaddafi announced that he was giving up various nuclear and other weapons programs. The U.S. took Libya off its list of "terrorist states." Qaddafi became a valued ally in the U.S. war against terrorism. Bush gave the green light to U.S. oil companies to sign new contracts with Libya. Qaddafi began privatizing some sectors of industry.

I have to say... Qaddafi can't restrain himself in scraping before the imperialists. Last year he signed an agreement with Italy to seal off the crossing routes for undocumented African immigrants coming through Libya to Europe. This was ugly. He demanded billions in payment for patrolling borders... and he issued racist warnings that Europe would turn "black" unless it adopted stricter measures to turn back African immigrants.

This was the "rehabilitated" Qaddafi whose son met with Hillary Clinton... this was the Qaddafi that the London School of Economics was accepting huge donations from... the Qaddafi that the British were now selling arms to. The imperialists found Qaddafi useful and "workable."

You know in early February 2011, the International Monetary Fund released a report on Libya's economy and commended the Qaddafi government, and I'm quoting, for its "ambitious reform agenda" and "strong macroeconomic performance"... and "encouraged" authorities to keep on this promising path. What higher praise, than from the IMF!

But now, when it suits them, and it's really brazen... when they might be able to utilize mass discontent to install an even "more workable" regime, the imperialists are back to the master narrative of "Qaddafi the madman," "Qaddafi the strongman."

Revolution: So let's shift the discussion to some of what is happening in Libya right now and some of the bigger issues and challenges being thrown up.

Lotta: Well, I've focused a lot on the class nature of Qaddafi and the social-economic character of the development model that the Qaddafi regime was pursuing. This is important in understanding how things have unfolded and how growing numbers of people turned against Qaddafi and this model.

Over the last decade, oil wealth and nationalized properties were becoming the province of a narrower and narrower circle, including the extended Qaddafi family... and more of this wealth was being invested abroad.

The regime brooked no criticism. The widespread censorship became increasingly unbearable at a time when people were seeking outlets for expression. Dissidents were being arrested. There was a thirst for political life outside the official structures. The so-called "people's councils" were largely discredited, having become arms of a patronage system and tools of a surveillance network. There was a thirst for cultural diversity—until recently, foreign languages could not be taught in the schools. Health care has deteriorated recently. Unemployment has risen.

Qaddafi's response has been heavier repression... while looking to invigorate the economy with infusions of Western capital. One of the paradoxes of recent years is that when the sanctions were lifted, and the sense of siege abated, Qaddafi's anti-imperialist and nationalist appeals did not have the same resonance. His militant "luster" had worn thin... the allegiance he previously commanded was dissipating.

Revolution: And then the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt lit a fuse.

Lotta: Yes. As we're doing this interview, the situation in Libya is both cloudy and bloody. Qaddafi announced his intention to fight to the end to retain power. Right now the central government controls Tripoli and the western regions of the country, while oppositional forces have taken command of the east. Some ministers and military figures have gone over to the opposition and become part of a nucleus of another government in the making.

Some within this "interim national government council" are calling for Western air strikes to aid them. This is a reactionary demand that represents a craven pro-imperialist stance. This is not in the interests of the Libyan people, who have long suffered under imperial domination.

Something to keep in mind is that this is the first upheaval in the region that has disrupted oil production. Libya has the largest proven oil reserves of any African country, and Libya supplies a significant share of Europe's oil needs. So this too is a factor influencing imperialist calculations. The imperialists are using the pretext of "humanitarian concern" as an ideological wedge for possible military intervention.

Revolution: So this underscores the complicated character of what is happening.

Lotta: Yes. One of the things to emphasize here, looking at the situation in Libya and the continuing struggle in Egypt, is that the notion of "leaderless" movements... it's untrue and it's very damaging. A lot of progressive and radical-minded people would like to think they can swear off leadership. But leadership is being exerted in society and the world, including on them.

In Libya, as in Egypt, different class and social forces have been in the field. They are bringing their interests and outlooks into the fray... and various forces are vying for leadership and seeking to push these movements in certain directions.

Look, you have lawyers assembling in eastern Libya who want to restore the old 1952 constitution, which served a decrepit political and social order. And doctors, university professors, students, disaffected youth, and workers who had taken to the streets... well, they are part of a larger swirl in which reactionary tribal leaders, former ministers, and colonels are angling for position and leadership. You have some people who are trying to settle old scores. You have youth raising slogans "no to tribalism and no to factionalism." And in this same swirl, the imperialists are maneuvering.

Different class forces are bringing forward leadership, programs, and agendas that correspond to their interests. And different sections of society are looking for leadership.

What I'm trying to say is that the question is not leadership or no leadership. No, the question is what kind of leadership? Serving what goals? Using what methods to achieve those goals? And where there is no truly revolutionary and communist leadership, history has repeatedly shown that the masses lose... the people who are the most bitterly oppressed and exploited... and who yearn for and most desperately need fundamental change... they get left out and betrayed.

In his recent statement on Egypt, Bob Avakian speaks to these issues very powerfully, and I want to read from it. He says: "When people ... in their millions finally break free of the constraints that have kept them from rising up against their oppressors and tormentors, then whether or not their heroic struggle and sacrifice will really lead to fundamental change, moving toward the abolition of all exploitation and oppression, depends on whether or not there is a leadership, a communist leadership, that has the necessary scientific understanding and method, and on that basis can develop the necessary strategic approach and the influence and organized ties among growing numbers of the people, in order to lead the uprising of the people, through all the twists and turns, to the goal of a real, revolutionary transformation of society, in accordance with the fundamental interests of the people."

But, and this brings me back to issues of class, to make the kind of revolution that can really emancipate all of humanity... this requires bringing forward the basic sections of the people as the backbone and driving force of revolutionary transformation and as conscious emancipators of all humanity. It requires a leadership capable of doing so.

So there are important lessons to be drawn from what is happening. There are big challenges to rise to. And as Avakian has also emphasized, the future remains to be written.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Two Important Announcements for Distributors

1) This Friday we will post ideas on how to maximize next weekend's distribution of the current issue of the paper, which contains the statement "ON THE STRATEGY FOR REVOLUTION." These ideas will draw from what we have heard from you on how it has been going—how many have gotten out and to whom, how people have initially responded, and what you have been learning from this. But do not wait 'til then to begin planning to make this next weekend a MAJOR PUSH to get this statement out far and wide.


BAsics, from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian will be coming out soon. As soon as we hear a date for shipping, it will be posted here—so stay tuned. But even short of that, plans should begin now for celebration parties, publicity (including imaginative presswork), and massive distribution when this book comes out. Let us know your plans.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Suggestion for Creative Manifestation on International Women's Day

To our readers –

We received the following letter, which we thought raised an important point and a good suggestion on following through. We do urge people who read the paper to see if they can do this.


From a Reader:

I noticed, in the "Events" part of the newspaper, references to programs for International Women's Day. But it is not clear to me if more than just a program is being planned anywhere. It seems to me as if it could be possible for some kind of manifestation to also take place: a march?...a rally?...some kind of creative demonstration, infused with the spirit of "A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity," and with the revolutionary communist outlook and objectives, while reaching very broadly? While it is late in the day in regard to this, we should still consider some kind of activity of this kind, perhaps in conjunction with, or (so to speak) "flowing out of" programs being planned. Even if such activity were small, if it had the appropriate content and spirit, it could still be meaningful, in addition to a program...


A further comment from the editors:

It is important to note the setting for this International Women's Day. There have been extremely ugly attacks on women, concentrated on women's reproductive rights, coming out of Congress and the state legislatures. At the same time, there has been important resistance to this as well – 5,000 people demonstrated recently in New York against the cuts being proposed in Congress to funding for Planned Parenthood (and note that this funding – which is under severe attack – doesn't even cover abortion but is only for contraceptive and health service – which gives a real sense of the full program of these "pro-life" forces).

There is also the upsurge in the Middle East and North Africa. There are different trends within this upsurge – those who would advance the emancipation of women, but those who would reinforce tradition's chains. Indeed, it is on this very question – the oppression and subjugation of women, and attacks on rights that have been won through decades of determined struggle – where the Christian Fascists in the U.S. and the Islamic fundamentalist forces internationally share "common ground."

In this situation, a determined manifestation of some kind – even if starting out relatively small – could have real impact and magnetism, and make an important statement.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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From A World to Win News Service

On the February 14 Iranian People's Protests

February 28, 2011. A World to Win News Service. In the largest anti-regime protest in a year, on February 14 the Iranian people came to the streets once again in solidarity with the people's struggles in the Middle East. The uprising that started in June 2008 after the fraudulent presidential election had suffered a setback due to both the brutal suppression of the regime and the weaknesses of the reformist leaders.

Despite denying permission for the march, the regime could not prevent it. People coming into the streets were confronted by thousands of security forces in various uniforms and plain clothes who did all they could to prevent any assembly. At first people were confined to the sidewalks. Whenever they found the opportunity, they took over the streets chanting anti-regime slogans. The streets around Tehran University, Valiasr Square, Hafte Tir Square, Enghelab Square, Azadi Square and the whole area between the latter two squares were filled with protesters.

The slogans mainly targeted Ali Khamenei and his role as Guide and symbol of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition to "Death to Khamenei," other slogans reflected the influence of the struggle of people in Tunisia and Egypt. People  chanted, "Ben Ali, Mubarak, now this is time for Seyed Ali (Khamenei)," "One way ticket for Seyed Ali," "Death to the dictator" and "Khamenei, Mubarak your unity Mubarak" (in Farsi, mubarak means congratulations – we congratulate your unity, meaning you are very much the same). Some of the most common slogans from last year's uprising such as "Allahu Akbar" (god is great) and expressions of support for the reformist opposition leader Mir Hussein Mousavi were heard much less than before.

The security forces and anti-rebellion Guards, including thousands of plainclothes men riding on motorcycles and in cars equipped with masks, helmets and batons, were stationed at all strategic points of the city. Their mobility allowed them to chase the protesters. When people chanted slogans, they were attacked by the security forces. The people did not run away. They would alternately advance and retreat and continue their protest and chanting.

According to reports, protests broke out in other cities such as Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Kermanshah, Rasht, Babul, Mashhad and Boushehr. This time the Tehran protests – a dozen in all are known – also took place in areas such as Jeihoun street in Hashemi, which saw little activity last year. They were also reported in Shohada (formerly Jhaleh) Square and Khorasan street, places long under the influence of the regime. Even more interestingly, Rudaki and Jeihoun streets were the scene of heavy clashes with security forces. People taught some of the security forces a lesson by beating them. Shots were fired at the demonstrators and according to some reports one of the protesters was killed in this location. A few telephone boxes were also smashed and displaced.

In Forsat street near Tehran University, the people set fire to the motorcycle of a Basiji militiaman. The Basiji van that came to his rescue was heavily damaged. To counter the tear gas, people burned rubbish bins or lit fires. In many locations, the stone-throwing fights between the youth and Basiji continued late into the night.

Two people were killed, Sane Jhaleh, a Tehran University student from the Kurdish city of Paveh, and another youth, Mohammad Mokhtari. Blundering stupidly, the regime denied murdering Sane Jhaleh. They announced that Sane was a member of the Basij and hurriedly forged a membership card for him, claiming he had been killed by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (an opposition group). His family immediately denied this. His brother called the Voice of America TV station explaining that Sane had long been an opponent of the regime and had never been a member of the Basij. His brother was later arrested for making this announcement. The regime did not give Sane's body to his family and instead arranged a funeral for him as a Basij member. This pathetic act angered the people, especially many in Kurdistan.

The Islamic Republic rulers, frustrated and embarrassed by the dimension of the demonstrations, claimed there were no real protesters involved, only hooligans. Keyhan, a newspaper close to the security forces, and Khamenei announced that they numbered only around 300. Ahmad Reza Radan, the commander of the security forces, went even further, declaring there were only 150 demonstrators, while at the same time announcing that 300 had been arrested. This discrepancy made him the butt of jokes among the people. Some opposition forces announced that a million people took part in the protest. It is safe to say hundreds of thousands of people attended in Tehran and other cities.

On February 20, in memory of the two martyred protesters, people attempted to take to the streets again. The large number of security forces, including anti-riot units on motorcycles, used more force and violence than the week before. They used tear gas to disperse crowds in several places, including near Valiasr and Vanak squares. The protest spread to many more towns and cities than the previous one, especially in Kurdistan. Shops closed in some Kurdish cities, including Mahabad, Sanandaj, Bukan and Mariwan. In some Kurdish cities the protests turned into clashes with security forces.

There were reports of at least one person killed and many more injured and hundreds arrested. The arrest and expulsion of university students continued in the following days.

The regime has arrested the "Green" reformist leaders Mousavi and Medhi Karroubi, along with their wives. The latest reports from their supporters say that their whereabouts are unknown.

The people are preparing for future protests.

Excerpts from "Some Notes Regarding the Recent Protest" sent to Haghighat, newspaper of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist):

February 14 was an important event after nearly a one-year gap in the people's uprising. Perhaps it could be called a turning point. What caused the temporary pause in the people's movement was the damaging effect of the Green leadership and the regime's intense suppression.

During the last year the regime used everything possible to repress the people. Many were imprisoned. Newspapers and bookstores were closed. One person was executed every eight hours.

When the Tunisian and Egyptian people rose up, the silence was broken. The rays of the struggle of the people of Egypt reached Iran. People began talking about the struggle of the people in Tunisia and Egypt and comparing those struggles with their own. People finally came to the streets in large numbers.

When we say February 14 is a turning point, we can point to a number of factors: the large number of participants; the participation of people from different sections and different age groups and mostly youth; their actions and their slogans. All this shows that the people's struggle has become more daring and fearless.

The February 14 protest was glorious. It had a high degree of radicalism. Most of the slogans targeted the leader of the Islamic regime and Khamenei. These slogans in fact target the Islamic republic and are certainly at a higher level than the slogans in 2009 which were mainly aimed at Ahmadinejad. The slogan "Death to Khamenei" is like "Death to the Shah," who was also the symbol of a regime, and its aim likewise is against the whole system. This time you could hear slogans such as "Freedom, freedom, freedom" much more than "Allahu Akbar." This was a step forward compared to the uprising in 2009. This time the people were not upholding Mousavi, they were saying they don't want this regime, but in a more radical way.

There were also varying reactions to this demonstration from different sections of the people. Through the media, the imperialists are trying to impose their line on the people's struggle. They say that the people in Iran as well as Egypt do not want revolution and violence; they are only looking for reform within the existing political structure. For example, in a talk show with the German Foreign Minister, on ZDF (the German government TV channel), the presenter concluded that in Iran, Khamenei, like Mubarak, should leave but the structure should remain intact. This is also the line that BBC-Persian service and Voice of America publicize.

But the reaction of Iran's ruling power was also astonishing. Even during the most radical days of the 2009 uprising, members of Parliament had not chanted anything like now – "Death to Mousavi, Karroubi and Khatami" – and they called on (regime figure) Rafsanjani to be more far-sighted and not do stupid things.

This panicked behaviour stems from great fear. In fact they might have expected or have been promised that the "sedition" was over and they could continue in the old way with their pathetic lives. However the February 14 uprising, after months of silence, ended their dream.

It was reported that Khamenei, in a meeting with the military and security commanders and the Information Minister, demanded to know why they had not been able to suppress the movement completely.

People's spirits once again are high. They are courageously and responsibly discussing and summing up their struggles. Despite the regime's threats, the people are happy and proud of their power. Once again people are talking about what they have suffered through all these years and declaring that nothing can heal their wounds unless this regime goes to its grave.

This is fascinating. It is a fertile land for revolutionary seeds.

Important issues are being discussed among the people, such as the advantages or disadvantages of some slogans. For example, regarding the slogan "We will not forgive or forget," one youth argued if someone from the security forces is in doubt and might want to leave his position and weapon and join the people, he would be put off by this slogan. Some were discussing the usual foreign media discourse that says they should wage the struggle peacefully so that the price would not be too high. Others would respond that the price of not using violence would be higher than using it. The discussions were at a higher level than last year. There seemed to be fewer illusions and more people were prepared to listen and learn.

There is no doubt that the revolutionary struggle of the people in Egypt and Tunisia has triggered a re-awakening among the Iranian people, and we should be proud of this. Whatever develops, we should understand that the oppressed people – Asians, Europeans, Americans, Arabs, Africans and Iranians – all face common enemies....

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

Send us your comments.

Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Spread this special issue of Revolution far and wide

This special two-week issue of Revolution features a new statement from the RCP, USA—"On the Strategy for Revolution." We call on our networks of regular readers to reach out with this statement, making the strategy for revolution known to many thousands beyond our regular readership, and drawing new people into the revolutionary movement.

The first step in doing this, of course, is studying and discussing the content of the statement itself. But then, let's be creative. We have already begun to post ideas on getting this out on our website at and beginning Thursday, March 3, we will post reports on discussing and taking out this statement. Posting can be sent to, dropped off at Revolution Books, given to a local Revolution newspaper distributor, or mailed to Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654

Go to for information on how to contact Revolution Books stores and local Revolution newspaper distributors.

Send us your comments.

Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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From A World to Win News Service

Egypt: Some Background to Today's Revolt

We are making this article from A World to Win News Service available to our readers:

A World to Win News Service. February 21, 2011. Following are excerpts from an interview by AWTWNS with Ray Bush, Professor in African Studies and Development Politics in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds (UK).

- Could you tell our readers something about the nature of the Egyptian military, its role in Egypt, in the region, and its relationship to the U.S. and other Western powers?

There is much rhetoric about the demonstrators and the army being "hand in hand." It may well be that the foot soldiers know and understand the need for change and identify strongly with the demonstrators. However, the military itself is deeply and inextricably linked to and underpins the Mubarak regime. The $1.3 billion [from the U.S. yearly] has mostly kept the military happy with their guns and technology, yet they have actually been kept most quiet by feeding at the trough of capital accumulation.

They have done this by being entrepreneurs, industrialists and real estate managers. The military is involved in production of commodities – from toasters to shopping malls and development of desert land. It might be that they have become impatient with the declared neoliberal zeal of Gamal Mubarak [one of President Hosni Mubarak's sons and until now chosen successor] and they did not want him to inherit the presidency. They didn't want this as they feared even Gamal's limited neoliberalism would penalize the cronyism of the military economic adventures, and therefore they have seen a good opening to clip the wings of Gamal and those who have toyed with a privatization that might undermine their "unfair" economic interventions. The point is that the military are at the core of the regime and of the economic system that underpins it and these issues will need to be resolved in any transition arrangements.

- It seems that the revolt against the Mubarak regime has won the support of broad strata in Egyptian society. What do you think accounts for this?

There are three reasons why this has happened. The first is the long-term structural attacks on the living standards of the poor that have been driven by economic reform since 1991 that started in 1987 in the countryside. Despite sustained levels of economic growth there has not been any "trickle" down alleviating poverty. About 40 percent of the population live on less than $2 per day (but some people have actually said that 80 percent live on less than $2, which would make people poorer than Zimbabweans).

The medium term is the upsurge in working class (and farmer) unrest. Driven by unofficial trade unions since mid 2000s – between 1998-2010 there were more than 2,000 workers' collective actions, especially after the Nazif "liberalizing" government from 2004.

And finally the street demonstrators, the incredible sacrifice of Egyptians killed by security forces in the opening days of protest, many assembling to mark and rebel against the security forces guilty of killing Khalid Said murdered on 6 June 2010 [when he was dragged out of an Internet café and beaten to death].

- Could you say a few things about the way that Western imperialism has shaped Egyptian society, and the economy in particular—I heard on BBC that Egypt is now the world's largest importer of wheat? How did this come about in the country with the fertile Nile delta?

Imperialism has always been keen to ensure the Suez Canal and links with Israel are stable. Additionally the large labour force is a potentially enormous source of cheap labour. [Egyptian workers abroad] have at different times been crucial in the development of the industrial and petroleum sectors in the wider region.

The underdevelopment of Egyptian agriculture relates to decades of impoverishment and neglect and since law 96 of 1992 the changes in land tenure of tenants to whom Nasser had given rights to the land in perpetuity.

Farmer struggles have been largely undocumented and downplayed, yet rural violence is systemic and systematically applied to dissenters. Between 1998-2000 there were more than 100 deaths and in 2010 between January-May alone there were 116 killed in rural conflicts. Rural conflicts relate to struggles over access to land and also demarcation disputes and struggles over irrigation.

After law 96 of 1992, all land ownership was politicized in a way unheard of since 1952 and relatives of landlords dispossessed by Nasser have returned in many locations to claim back land that they argue is "their land." This has led to court battles, and battles with police and thugs employed by old landed elites. [These attempts by the old landed elites] are being met by opposition in villages, by women challenging authority and by support for farmer resistance from urban intellectuals.

Egypt cannot be ignored as a powerful state. One out of four Arabs is Egyptian and what happens there will have demonstration and other impacts on the broader Middle East. The problem the West has is the need they see to establish a "stable" transition but not being seen to determine the outcome of that transition. The West's links with [Mubarak's Vice President and now de facto head of state Omar] Suleiman are key here, as he is implicated in links with U.S. security over many years.

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

Send us your comments.

Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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The following is from the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF):

An Appeal to Prisoners from the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund:
Popularize and build support for the publication of BAsics

"The whole point of principle is that you have to fight for it when it is not easy to do. There is no need for principle if the only time it is applied is when it doesn't matter."—Bob Avakian

"No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, who the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."—Bob Avakian

"If you don't have a poetic spirit—or at least a poetic side—it is very dangerous for you to lead a Marxist movement or be the leader of a socialist state."—Bob Avakian

On April 11, the book BAsics, from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian, will be released and celebrated with a major event in New York City: "On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World."

As Revolution #225 said, "BAsics will concentrate more than 30 years of Avakian's work on everything standing between humanity and complete emancipation into a single concise book of essential quotes and short essays." Thousands of dollars are needed to publish the book and stage this event, as well as fund getting 2,000 copies of BAsics to those behind bars.

Other prisoners have written about how important Avakian is:

"The last grade I completed of school was the 7th. I've accumulated a dozen 'violent felonies' trying to live as long as I have, inside and outside prison. Fortunately, I'll be released in a couple years. If it hadn't been for discovering MLM (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) and the support and inspiration Chairman Avakian and the RCP have provided, I don't know what the f___ I'd do with my life once they release me from their clutches, except fall back into the same mode of hustlin' and jackin' or trying to gain an advantage over my fellow proletarians for the crumbs we snatch from each other trying to survive and feed ourselves."

"As I continue to languish away in just one of the many 'barracoons' that have been systematically laced across this country, I continue to engage & grapple with the revolutionary works of Bob Avakian. Bob Avakian has put & continues to put many of things in perspective for me. This great leader continues to challenge & inspire me to acquire & apply a revolutionary scientific outlook & method. I now understand & realize that my struggle is not one of a 'personal' struggle, but is linked with millions & millions of people across the globe."

"...this is what Bob Avakian is saying. Humans must develop their positive characteristics and struggle with their negative ones, because no amount of prayer to an imaginary friend will do it for them. We must forge the present into a better future if we wish to live in a world where relationships aren't based on mutual exploitation."

"You guys have a gold mine on your hands. Bob Avakian is no joke. It must be all those years of struggle that allows him to put down his orientation so lively. He has what it takes to indulge millions. Would love to rap with him...Let me tilt the revolutionary rose for now. Love you guys. Remain vigilant."

We encourage prisoners to spread the word about BAsics, including among family and friends on the outside and urge them to donate to its publication and dissemination.

Donations can be made online at, or sent to:
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
Attn: BAsics
1321 N. Milwaukee Ave. #407
Chicago, IL 60622

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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On Wisconsin—From Revolution Readers

Editors' note: The following are some thoughts and analysis from readers on the outbreak of struggle in Madison, Wisconsin. These thoughts accompany the article describing the Wisconsin events ("Correspondence From the Wave of Protests in Wisconsin"). Footnotes have been added.

There is a certain confluence of events and interests in this situation that has brought forward both a very big attack and an outpouring of resistance that could have big repercussions on the political climate and terrain.

Republican Governor Walker of Wisconsin, part of the "Tea Party Revolution" of the November 2010 elections, put forward a bill that would gut the collective bargaining power of the public employees. It would take only a simple majority to pass the bill, and in both the state House and Senate the Republicans have the majority vote.

There was immediate and massive outpouring of resistance by teachers and other public employees as they grasped the magnitude of the attack and the need to decisively stop it. Within two days thousands poured into Madison and occupied the capitol; the continual 24-hours-a-day occupation has been going on as of this writing for over a week, a rather extraordinary event. The jolt of electricity this has sent through the political atmosphere has not been seen in Madison since the 1960s. Thousands of high school students from all over the state staged walkouts in support of their teachers, and many bused to Madison. After the growing outpouring, 14 Democratic senators left the state, which meant a quorum in the Senate could not be constituted and the bill could not be put to a vote, and this further galvanized the people. Tens of thousands from all over the state were demonstrating every day through Monday.

The main demographic is 25 to 40 years old, mainly white people.1 Teachers are the main force. Sixties people are thrilled and in the mix. Many high school and university students from around the state have mobilized at key times. Hundreds have come from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The key thrust of attack of this bill is aimed at crushing the public employees unions. The governor and his cohorts are throwing down the gauntlet. This reactionary attack must be defeated. The bill goes after the basic foundation and cohesiveness of unionization: it requires that every year a union will have to be re-elected, that union dues cannot be collected through payroll deductions, that individuals can opt out of union membership. The bill also allows current contracts to be torn up, and only wages—not working conditions and pensions—will be allowed to be negotiated. One commentator on CNN said that if this happened in another country it would be considered against the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The Wall Street Journal said what happens here could "have an impact on unions at least as lasting as President Reagan's firing in 1981 of 11,000 striking air-traffic controllers."

This is shaping up as a precedent-setting event. There are a lot of implications beyond Wisconsin on both sides. The defiant resistance in Wisconsin has already galvanized resistance in Ohio where on Tuesday, February 22, a similar bill was introduced and 15,000 protested at the capitol in Columbus. Indiana and Pennsylvania have also been targeted for this same kind of attack.

U.S. imperialism is in a profound economic crisis (which is beyond the scope of this article to analyze), but a few things can be said. This crisis has had a devastating effect on every state and local government, with huge losses of revenue at the same time as there is a much greater demand for state and locally provided services. Most states are faced with huge debts, and unemployment is around 10%. There is no federal bailout of the states forthcoming, and the "usual" measures that states have taken to deal with short-term shortfalls, such as borrowing money, are not available; and major cuts in state services and programs, as well as tax hikes, have not staved off the crisis. And there is no end in sight. It is worth noting that while it does have a significant deficit, Wisconsin does not fall in the category of states in the most financial trouble, and the unemployment rate there is 7.5%.

Even before the recent financial crash and crisis, the U.S. imperialists have faced the necessity to beat out their rivals in the global economy—while pursuing two wars and maintaining military dominance all over the world. There have been years of cutting away at public social services and programs: Clinton's abolition of "welfare as we know it," the growing privatization of public schools and services, and steep rises in fees and tuition at public educational institutions, accompanied by the drop in federal subsidies to education, transportation, etc., etc.

In this current situation, it seems like there is a struggle at the top (between different sections of the ruling class) over how to address these "budget crises" while maintaining political stability and cultural cohesion. And there is an attempt coming from the right side of the top of the pyramid to make a leap in radically restructuring the function of government to eliminate what's left of the New Deal/Great Society social contract. The right side of the top of the pyramid is focusing on sharply reducing the role of government and working to limit it to the basic repressive functions of an imperialist state (e.g. the military and police, as well as fire departments). The pyramid piece by Bob Avakian identifies the apex of the pyramid as "centrist mainstream imperialist thought and program, on the one end, and, on the other end, fascist thought and program—all ultimately serving the same imperialist system."2 As Bob Avakian says in that pamphlet:

"We can't be simple minded if we're going to actually do what needs to be done, especially if we are going to make the kind of revolution we need to make. You have to look at what's been building in this society for quite a while now.

"It's helpful to look at it kind of like a pyramid....And if you look at this kind of pyramid thing, on the top of this pyramid is the ruling class and its different political representatives, which (even though it may be a bit oversimplified) we can look at as the Democrats on one side and the Republicans on the other. And for decades now these people who are grouped around Bush and the kind of people that they represent have been working and preparing a whole thing in society —a whole infrastructure you might call it—a whole structure within the society itself that could move this society in a whole different way towards a fascistic kind of thing when things come to that.

"Look at this whole religious fundamentalist thing they've got. This is an effort to deliberatively build up a base of people, millions and millions and millions of people, who are frightened by the idea of thinking—I'm serious —people who cannot deal with all the "complicatedness," all the complexity of modern society, who want simple absolute answers to the complexities of this society....

"On the other hand, here are the Democrats at the top of this pyramid (on the so-called "left"). Who are the people that they try to appeal to —not that the Democrats represent their interests, but who are the people that the Democrats try to appeal to at the base, on the other side of this pyramid, so to speak? All the people who stand for progressive kinds of things, all the people who are oppressed in this society. For the Democrats, a big part of their role is to keep all those people confined within the bourgeois, the mainstream, electoral process...and to get them back into it when they have drifted away from—or broken out of—that framework.....

"This is significant in itself but it also demonstrates a positive potential in terms of revolution. I'm not saying that we are on the threshold of revolution right now, but just looking down the road, and looking at the potential, one of the things that leads to a revolutionary situation is that millions and millions of people feel that something is intolerable. They want certain leaders at the top of society to lead them in doing something about it, but those leaders are not in the position to and don't want to lead them in doing it—so whom do they turn to? The people who are willing and determined to lead them to do it and to take it somewhere. So this is a situation that's full of great danger; but the same situation—or the other side of the contradiction—is that it holds much positive potential for struggle now and for revolution as things unfold."3

Taking away the right of teachers and other public employees to collectively organize when that has been an established right for 50 years does seem to signal a qualitative change aimed not just at reducing wages and benefits, but mainly at destroying an organized force that is an obstacle to dismantling public education, health care—and just about public "everything." When the teachers, social workers, public health care workers negotiate on "working conditions," what is really being negotiated are the lives and futures of their students, clients, patients. The mayor of Detroit just announced that he is going to have to cut the number of schools from 140 to 70, increasing class size in high schools to 60 students per class. When home health care workers or social workers are required to double the size of their patient/client load, that means real, hurting people will suffer. There also could be an element of seeking to destroy an important organized base of the Democratic Party.  

Clashing in this battle are two frameworks with two opposing moralities, and this has intensified the stakes for both sides. But, unlike much of the recent past, the side that is standing up for basic rights and needs of people has surged into real political resistance.

On the one side is what's left of the social contract of what was the "mainstream imperialist" framework established with the New Deal and carried forward (in response to struggles of the 1960s) by the Great Society. (This is discussed in depth by Bob Avakian in analyzing the pyramid of power.) And many of the teachers, social workers, public health care workers and others who are out protesting this attack hold the view that it is a moral right and duty (and a benefit to the society) that society as a whole, through the government on different levels, should have some level of basic support of services, programs, regulations that are for the social good. And that public education and a basic safety net, health care and services for the poor, unemployed, children, and elderly are basic human rights. They feel it is in the interest of all to support public libraries and public parks, and to regulate things like workplace safety and the global environment. There is a particularity of Wisconsin (especially Madison and Milwaukee): it was the first state to have unemployment insurance, the state where AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) was founded, and first to give public workers the right to collectively bargain. And public service is seen by a section of people as a worthy calling and cause.

A number of teachers pointed out that the reason the public employees unions are being gone after is not mainly for economic reasons, but to silence their voice as advocates for public education, and for the students. "If they can silence our voice and destroy the unions, they can destroy public education, public services of all kinds. If they can silence our voice, then it's their world."

This feeling and thought extends beyond schools to libraries, social work, public health, and public transportation. Social workers have talked about the devastation that years of federal and state cuts have already wrought among the poorest masses.

The opposing view is that funding the most basic of public services is an impediment to U.S. imperialism's being able to compete with the other imperialists and to resolving this crisis. This section of the ruling class wants a "lean and mean" capitalism without all the baggage and constraints. There is a whole fascist mentality and morality that corresponds to this which is right now concentrated in the Tea Party movement,4 and also reflected in the world view of Christian fascists, reactionary Christian fundamentalists who seek to impose their theocratic, Nazi-like program on society as a whole. These forces see public services (with the exception of the enforcement arms of the state like the military and the police) as being morally wrong. They hold that supporting public services actually constitutes "theft," meaning that it takes money from the pockets of the taxpayers and gives it to other undeserving people (undeserving being a code word for Black people and immigrants). These forces say it is up to each individual or each individual entity to decide what is best, and look after his/her/its own interest. And that any programs aimed at meeting social needs should be carried out solely through voluntary, private or religious organization or corporations. Part of this program has been a whole assault aimed at demonizing teachers and teachers' unions as greedy, self-centered moochers who don't care about the students or society, and blaming them and public employees more broadly for the financial crisis and the crisis in education. The Tea Party rallied in support of Governor Walker and the Wisconsin bill on Saturday and drew some thousands; at the same time, they were ringed by tens of thousands of the opposition.

The New York Times on Tuesday, February 22, reported that the Koch brothers (major capitalist players/financiers of the Tea Party) were major supporters of Governor Walker, and that the Americans for Prosperity, a group created and financed in part by the Koch brothers, was behind the concerted effort to introduce and pass these bills in several states. Although apparently Walker didn't bring this out in his campaign, and the bill was introduced in kind of a stealth way as a "budget repair" bill, this "out of the gate" assault in February after taking office in January seems to be an attempt to use the momentum and "mandate" Walker and the Tea Party got from the election to try to quickly push through the game-changing legislation.

On the other side, the fact that this attack came down on the heels of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt did create for some people a new sense of possibilities, expressed by some as "the Egyptian people stood up and won, and if we stand up together we can stop this attack."

And the fact that U.S. leaders spoke out for "supporting people's democratic rights" and "rights of assembly" in Egypt and other countries has also imposed some constraints on the governor in terms of the ability to crack down on the occupation of the capitol building. There were threats by the governor (or spokesmen) early on in the occupation of the capitol to call out the National Guard, but these were quickly replaced by comments that the people have a right to protest but it won't matter because he is not compromising on this bill and they have the votes so there's no point in resisting.

So both sides identify the struggle in Wisconsin as ground zero with huge implications.

This is the first time in a long time the Democrats have called on the masses to take action outside the electoral arena. It is still very much within the framework of "pressuring the governor to compromise," and getting the normal process of compromise going, getting the state back to the bargaining table. But it is rather extraordinary to have a 24-hours-a-day occupation of a state capitol that has gone on for six days, and growing every day, and to have 14 state senators "in exile" for going on a week.

What is the role that Obama and the Democratic Party have been playing? It has been reported that the Democrats nationally as well as national unions are pouring a lot of money and resources into this fight. Obama's political group "Organizing for America" organized "lobby days" the first two days of the protests, sponsoring buses together with the AFL-CIO that came from at least 10 different parts of Wisconsin to the capitol. It's not clear if the Democrats'/unions' intention was just to lobby and things got out of hand, or if the occupation was part of their plan. Obama has made just one statement, that "[they] are making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions." There was a lot of hope among the protesters in Obama in general, as evidenced in rumors, for example, that he was calling on people in Indiana and Ohio to march to the state capitols there (actually he did not do this).

Jesse Jackson spoke at a rally Saturday night (February 19), which was broadcast on MSNBC. Jackson has a huge following among this section of people. He rallied them to fight this as an attack on the unions and to follow our "great president." The rally as a whole was shaped by the MSNBC host Ed Schultz, who was the emcee, as "we are the real patriots, the right-wing tries to wrap itself in the flag, but we are the real hard-working patriotic Americans." Right before Jackson came on Schultz invoked the crowd to sing "God Bless America." This focus on patriotism was not the character of the protesters in general, but this is obviously the confines that this section of the ruling class wants to keep things in. There were not many American flags. (There were many Wisconsin flags, and a couple Egyptian flags.)

We're trying to look at this in the context of BA's statement in The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era about the possibility of having to lead the struggle to defeat attempts to trample on and abolish bourgeois-democratic rights, "from our communist perspective and with the goal of proletarian revolution and ultimately communism –and nothing else and nothing less. The point is that we must not degenerate into bourgeois democrats ourselves in taking up the challenge of defeating attempts to trample on and abolish bourgeois-democratic rights."5

The union has announced that they are willing to make concessions on wages and benefits, but they demand the governor withdraw the union-busting clauses of the bill. But as one news analysis said, the Governor is not only refusing to go to the negotiating table, he is taking away the table. So the very reasons that Bob Avakian talks about why the Democrats don't want to call the people into the streets are now in play. The people have many illusions about "the will of the people" being heard, and "we are the reasonable people and the governor is unreasonable." "This is what democracy looks like" is the chant heard over and over again, along with "Kill the Bill." But the governor is not negotiating or compromising and has stated he won't, and that has galvanized the opposition and brought more people into the fight. While the overall atmosphere is almost festival-like, there is recognition among many that they are up against some pretty scary forces, with more than a few references to the Tea Party as fascist. One woman said, "We have to stop being nice."

As this develops the questions this raises and the need to search for radical answers also can develop. The point in the statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party, "On the Strategy for Revolution," about "sudden jolts and breakdowns in the "normal functioning" of society, which compel many people to question and to resist what they usually accept" is important to understand and think about. No one can say in advance exactly what will happen in these situations—how deep the crisis may go, in what ways and to what extent it might pose challenges to the system as a whole, and to what degree and in what ways it might call forth unrest and rebellion among people who are normally caught up in, or feel powerless to stand up against, what this system does.

We are grappling with the way to make the maximum advances possible in this situation.

1. Wisconsin's Black population is 6.2% of 5.5 million, or 340,000; in Milwaukee the Black population is 25% of 1 million, or 250,000 (about 70% of all Black people in Wisconsin live in the Milwaukee metro area); in Racine, 10% of the population of 200,000, or 20,000 people, are Black; in Madison, 4.7% of the population of 250,000, or 12,000, are Black. [back]

2. See "The Center—Can It Hold? The Pyramid as Two Ladders" from The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era. [back]

3. See "Elections, Resistance, and Revolution: The Pyramid of Power and the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down" from The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era. [back]

4. See "Revolution Is NOT a Tea Party!" in Revolution #211, September 12, 2010. [back]

5. See "Not Being Jerry Rubin, Or Even Dimitrov, But Actually Being Revolutionary Communists: The Challenge of Defending Fundamental Rights—From a Communist Perspective, and No Other" from The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era. [back]

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Seattle Protests Against Decision to Not Prosecute Killer Cop

From readers:

On Wednesday, February 16, King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced in Seattle that no charges of any kind would be filed against Seattle police officer Ian Birk. Birk killed native carver John T. Williams on August 30 in downtown Seattle. The days after Satterberg's decision have seen hundreds repeatedly and angrily taking to the streets.

Since the shooting in August, there has been widespread outrage from many sections of people, and continuing protests called by the October 22nd Coalition, Native American groups and others. Because of the opposition and the spotlight protests have shined on the case, King County held an inquest into the shooting in January that resulted in mixed findings. And the same day of the Satterberg decision, a Seattle Police Department review board found that Birk was unjustified in shooting Williams, and admitted Williams posed no threat. Birk was forced to resign to try to dampen outrage over Satterberg's decision—but it didn't work.

A YouTube video from Birk's patrol car documents that Ian Birk opened fire only four seconds after first confronting John T. Williams. John was reportedly hard of hearing and witnesses testified at an inquest hearing he did nothing to threaten Birk. An autopsy showed he was shot in his right side—not even facing Birk. John's small carving knife was found closed and Birk admitted that he knew John was a carver. He had been walking and apparently carving just seconds before Birk jumped out of his car and murdered him. Despite this evidence, Birk's lawyer and Birk himself worked to create a phony picture that Birk felt threatened, and that John was crouching in "pre-attack" mode.

Satterberg justified his decision based on a state law that shields cops from prosecution except when it can be shown that they are acting with "malice" or in bad faith. Satterberg said "There is no evidence to show malice, there is no evidence to refute Officer Birk's claim that he acted in good faith." In other words, all a cop has to do is claim he felt threatened, and then he can brutalize or even murder anyone he wants under any circumstances, even when it's clear there was no threat.

Justifying and upholding police murder is written right into the law and then the prosecutors and the court system are the means through which this is sanctioned and given the green light. The system conspires to get the cops off and the whole damn system is guilty.

In response to the decision, repeated protests of hundreds of people have taken to the streets, demanding Birk be prosecuted and jailed, and powerfully condemning police brutality and murder. A Facebook post by one person drew out 300 people to rally in the heart of downtown Seattle's main square. Youth, but also many others, including large numbers of people who had never protested before and felt moved by the tremendous injustice in this murder took the streets. Gathering hundreds more in the downtown area, people marched for hours, attempting to march on SPD east precinct, marching to the site where John was murdered, and holding die-ins and speak-outs in main intersections and refusing to go home. People confronted police riot lines and called out the cops for their brutality. All along the streets people yelled encouragement, honked in support and gave thumbs up. Black masses passing by joined one speak-out in the street and spoke to how all nationalities are one humanity and to lock-up the killer cop. Chants against police brutality, for justice and to jail Birk, and for people to "Protest like an Egyptian!" filled the air.

Another defiant and angry march built by Facebook of more than 100 people took place two days later and again defiantly seized the streets without permits, marching through traffic. KING 5 TV News characterized the march as demonstrators who came prepared to "pick a fight" with the police who simply responded to provocations. Some bottles were reportedly thrown at the police and a cop car's window broken, but the predominant violence came from police who pepper sprayed and rode into the crowd with mounted horses. Despite this, the protest continued for hours.

In the wake of this verdict and important resistance, there has been continual coverage of demonstrations and new examples of police brutality in newspapers and TV channels, editorials, forums and panels on college campuses and discussion broadly, both about this case and police brutality and the role of the police in general. Many of the participants in the protests are debating the causes of police brutality, and trying to figure out many questions. "Why did people go home the night of the protests and why didn't the protest just continue?" "Where to from here?", "What will it take to win justice and stop police brutality?", "What kind of change is needed more broadly", and many other topics. Revolution's issue on "Egypt Erupts!" and, BA's statement on Egypt, along with a statement written by Seattle Revolution distributors on the Birk decision, were very broadly distributed in the midst of joining in with fighting the power. On Feb 22, Revolution Books and the Revolutionary Student Club from Seattle Central Community College sponsored a panel discussion with speakers from different perspectives titled, "An Epidemic of Police Brutality and Murder: Why Is It Happening? How Can We Stop It?" that drew together close to 100 people.

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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Correspondence from Revolution distributors in Houston

The Savage Police Beating of Chad Holley

On February 3, 2011, a surveillance video of the savage beating of Chad Holley was released to the media by community activist Quanell X, and it set off a groundswell of outrage and anger in the city. The video of March 10, 2010 shows Chad, who was 15 years old at the time, knocked down by a police car, kicked, stomped and beaten by four Houston police for his alleged participation in a burglary. The video made national news and went viral on YouTube. In Houston, community activists have held a couple of town hall meetings in the black communities, called  "A call to action." Hundreds of people packed the two churches where they were held and dozens of people lined up and testified to their own experiences being brutalized by the police and several others talked about how their family members were murdered by the police. Revolution's Bear Witness forms got out to many of those who spoke as well as to the audience more broadly.

There were a lot of different political programs put forward, and Revolution was in the mix of it. At one of the meetings, we had a poster of the centerfold of the quote from the Message and Call—"The days when the system can just keep 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." People came up and took pictures of the poster and passed it from hand to hand. Many of them got copies of the Message and Call as well as Revolution. In contrast to what they had heard from the stage—that it is a few bad apples—people wanted deeper answers and many of them wanted to learn about this revolution and its leader, Bob Avakian.

One thing that was striking was the impact the uprising in Egypt has had on people. A lot of people wanted BA's Egypt 2011 statement and wanted to know how things are going to develop in Egypt. Hundreds of the statement got out. People were saying, if the Egyptian people can kick out Mubarak, we don't have to keep accepting the brutality by the police. Several people said  "We're gonna be Egypt for Houston." A white lawyer also got up and spoke and said,  "I'm a human being first and the Blacks and Latinos know all about this, they live it everyday. But it's people like me who needed to see this tape. Well, I saw that tape and I'm outraged by it. Long ago, my daddy showed me a sign that said 'whites only' and he told me that's wrong. And it's still wrong. We need to do what's right."

There are more town hall meetings planned as well as protests and marches. Along with a growing combativeness, there are many questions that people have. Can we fix the system or do we need revolution? How is revolution possible? What is communism? At the same time, there is a broader hotly contested debate on police brutality developing. Just today it was reported that a city councilwoman is being investigated for passing out a  "know your rights" kind of flier at one of the town hall meetings. We'll write to you again as things develop further.

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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The following statement is from the Campaign for Abolition of All Misogynist Gender Based Legislation & Islamic Punitive Laws in Iran:

On the centennial anniversary of International women's day

The overthrow of Iran's Islamic Republic is the first step towards women's emancipation in our country

A hundred years ago on the 8th of March 1911, International Women's Day was celebrated for the first time. Since then, every year on this day, women around the world take to the streets to protest against social, political and economic inequalities and to oppose unjust conditions imposed on them. Patriarchal capitalist systems throughout the world have constantly opposed women's struggles as they consider women's awareness and self-organization a threat to their existence.

We women must defend our achievements and celebrate progress made so far in many aspects of our lives. However, we are well aware that women still face varied forms of gender oppression. Organized state violence and domestic violence are full-scale wars waged by the bourgeoisie against women in order to force obedience of the existing norms in society and harness protest and revolutionary potential. Unequal pay, commodification of women's bodies, enforcing anti-women legislation and reinforcing patriarchal culture in the society, intervention of religion in politics, rapes in prisons or during wars, the pressure of housework and absence of any kind of unemployment and retirement benefits are all striking signs of gender-based injustices in the 21st century.

This year the global financial crisis of the capitalist system has given rise to a huge wave of protests against international capital. On one side, despotism, discriminating laws, dictatorships, growing unemployment and poverty and on the other visions of a more decent life and basic expectations specially by the youth (demanding employment, freedom, equality, freedom of choice) have caused a wave of street protests around the world including the Middle East and North Africa. These protests are spreading every day into more countries. Some call these the riots demonstrations 'caused by hunger', but these masses are not just hungry. They have become conscious of their rights as human beings and they no longer want to put up with slavery and despotism, that is why they are standing up in unity in support of the demands of the toiling masses to say a strong NO to a system that allows multitudes of oppressions and exploitations in the society. Women in these societies are the most oppressed layer. Patriarchal culture, religion and capital hand-in-hand have created painful and intolerable conditions for women in these societies.

People's uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, especially the significant presence of women in these uprisings herald historic changes in the Middle East and the world. The continuation of these uprisings can change all the equations on a global level. Women in Egypt and Tunisia are aware of the causes of their oppression because of women like Nawal Al-sa'dawi in Egypt and secular activists in Tunisia. In these two countries individual and collective struggles of secular conscious women has played an important role in the ongoing struggles and their success. Women in Tunisia have declared their opposition to theological government and have protested against the new proposed constitution that favors men within a patriarchal structure. An important indicator, identifying the direction of these struggles is how much women's issues and demands are represented.

Over the last 30 years Iranian women have experienced enslaving conditions under the rule of the Islamic Republic. A regime supported by the capitalist states and the imperialists. Our message to progressive and freedom-loving forces throughout the world and especially in the Middle East where people have risen up against their political systems is to stand against any involvement of religion in the affairs of the state and we say this so that our sisters avoid the plight of Iranian women who have suffered from this intervention for three decades. We must not allow world capitalist forces to replace revolutionary alternatives with their own reactionary alternatives in these countries. The protesting masses must not allow imperialists to interfere in their internal affairs and they cannot allow stone-age fundamentalist forces to control the outcome of their uprising.

We Iranian women didn't clearly formulate our demands during the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah's regime. We were just part of a bigger mass movement without our own clear demands or slogans. We didn't have our own organizations. Neither we nor the progressive forces involved in the revolution realized that it was not enough to topple the Shah's regime, we did not pay enough attention to the government that was replacing it . After the collapse of Shah's regime, women's demands and issues were forgotten and in fact the situation of women in Iranian society got worse. Women were the first victims of the Islamic regime after it came to power. The consequence was 32 years of brutal suppression of our gender inside Iran. Middle Eastern women should be aware of this so that they do not to repeat our mistake. Over the last 32 years the Iranian women have been fighting for the separation of religion and the state, against forced Hejab and all misogynist laws and Islamic punishments. We will continue our struggles until the overthrow of the Islamic Republic as the first step towards our emancipation.

Let's not allow the imperialists and the reactionaries of the region to divert revolutionary uprisings so that they can impose their retrograde anti-women alternatives on the peoples of the region under the pretext of "change".

Iranian women are determined that after the overthrow of the Islamic Republic they will continue their struggles along with all other radical movements in the society to build a system where women's emancipation is a priority, a system where oppression and exploitation are eradicated.

On the occasion of International Women's Day, we congratulate all the women and freedom-loving people who fight for gender equality and women's rights.

The Campaign for abolition of all misogynist gender based legislation & Islamic punitive laws in Iran

8 March 2011

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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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 #226, March 6, 2011

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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 #226, March 6, 2011

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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?

To sustain Revolution: click the "Sustain/Donate" link at or send a regular amount at the beginning of each month to RCP Publications, P.O. Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654.

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Revolution #226, March 6, 2011

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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 #226, March 6, 2011

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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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