Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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The Living Hell in Pelican Bay Prison

By Li Onesto

Crescent City is far north in California, about 20 miles from the Oregon border. In 1989, 275 acres of dense forest near there were chopped down to build the $277.5 million Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP). Today, more than 3,000 people are locked up in this prison, infamous for its inhumane conditions and extreme abuse.

More than 1,000 prisoners at PBSP are locked up in an X-shaped cluster of white buildings set apart by electrified fences and barren ground. This is the Security Housing Unit (SHU), a supermax control facility where prisoners are subjected to sensory deprivation, isolation and brutality.

Many prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU, and their lawyers, have bravely fought to expose the torture that is going on. They have written letters and articles, and filed lawsuits. Against heavy repression and censorship they have struggled to connect with people on the outside who are fighting for the rights of prisoners.

Dehumanizing Sensory Deprivation and Isolation

Solitary confinement is a hidden world within the larger hidden world of the prison system, and prisoners in solitary are an invisible and dehumanized minority within the larger population of prison inmates in general—who also remain remarkably invisible and dehumanized...

—Solitary Watch, an information clearinghouse on solitary confinement

"Self-portrait" by Keith Dwy. Toilet paper and crayons. Prison toilet paper is the coarse cheap kind, malleable when wet, hard and durable when dried.  This art was created by a prisoner in Oklahoma. The photo of it is reprinted here with permission from Phyllis Kornfeld/Cellblock Visions Permanent Collection,

If you are in the SHU at Pelican Bay Prison you face two extremes: minimum human contact and maximum sensory deprivation.

Think about everything that makes you human, that keeps you physically and mentally alive, that connects you with the world and other people, that gives you a reason to live, to love, to learn and think. All this is what the SHU tries to extinguish.

If you get put in the SHU you're locked up in a small, windowless concrete cell for 23 hours a day, without any face-to-face contact with another human being, not even a guard. You may or may not be allowed reading material. You get only one hour outside the cell, by yourself, in a small indoor space. You never see sunlight or a blade of grass. Whenever you leave your cell you're handcuffed and shackled, hands-to-waist, ankle-to-ankle.

Many mentally ill prisoners are put in the SHU at Pelican Bay. And the SHU literally drives many prisoners crazy. What does this mean? There is evidence that long-term isolation can alter brain chemistry and produce psychopathologies, including panic attacks, depression, inability to concentrate, memory loss, aggression, self-mutilation, and various forms of psychosis. These things occur as a result of other forms of confinement. But they happen at a considerably higher rate to prisoners subjected to long-term isolation. And there are prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU who have been suffering this form of torture for 20, 30 or even 40 years.1

These crimes against prisoners also carry over to their families. Prison officials purposely prevent prisoners in the SHU from having physical contact with their loved ones. A prisoner in the PBSP SHU isn't even allowed to take a photo of himself to send to his family. No phone calls are permitted.

If you live in San Francisco and have a son, a husband, or a father at Pelican Bay, you have to drive 370 miles to see them. If you live in Los Angeles the drive is 750 miles. And when you get there, you're only allowed to visit for one and a half hours through thick glass, no touching.

Drawing by a prisoner at Pelican Bay SHU depicting a prisoner who was stripped and hog-tied.
Photo: Pelican Bay Prison Express

Brutality Aimed at Breaking Bones and Spirit

The prison population in the U.S. has skyrocketed—from 500,000 in 1980 to more than 2.3 million today. Human rights groups in the U.S. and internationally have documented the inhumane conditions of this mass incarceration. And recently the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that conditions in California prisons constitute "cruel and unusual punishment." 2

Indeed if you look at the brutal conditions in U.S. prisons, which have been clearly documented, it becomes clear that the prison system in this country is not about helping prisoners or even treating them like human beings. And for decades now, there hasn't even been the pretense of prisons being about "rehabilitation."

Mass incarceration in this country is about locking up a whole section of society—especially poor Black and Latino men—to whom this system offers no future. Prisons in the U.S. are aimed at punishment—degrading, dehumanizing, and breaking people. And the SHU at Pelican Bay is a model in doing exactly that.

For example, guards carry out brutal "cell extractions"—which they say are done if a prisoner won't leave his cell. But prisoners in the SHU have said that cell extractions are carried out for such minor infractions as refusing to return a meal tray, banging on the cell door, or insulting a guard. This description of a cell extraction is corroborated not only by many prisoner accounts, but also by explicit Department of Corrections procedures:

"This is how the five-man cell extraction team proceeds: the first member of the team is to enter the cell carrying a large shield, which is used to push the prisoner back into a corner of the cell; the second member follows closely, wielding a special cell extraction baton, which is used to strike the inmate on the upper part of his body so that he will raise his arms in self-protection; thus unsteadied, the inmate is pulled off balance by another member of the team whose job is to place leg irons around his ankles; once downed, a fourth member of the team places him in handcuffs; the fifth member stands ready to fire a taser gun or rifle that shoots wooden or rubber bullets at the resistant inmate." 3

After such a beating, a prisoner may be kept hog-tied in his cell for hours.

A former guard at Pelican Bay testified about how he was targeted by other guards because he didn't go along with all the vicious brutality he was supposed to carry out. He said: "They called D-Yard SHU, 'fluffy SHU,' because we didn't hog-tie inmates to toilets or kick them in the face after cell extractions... There was one officer in there who used to take photos of every shooting and decorate his office with them." 4

Doesn't this sound a lot like the soldiers in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan who carried out massacres and then proudly collected body parts like souvenirs and posed for photos they could use to brag about their exploits?

The "Catch-22" of the SHU

How does a prisoner end up in the SHU? For exhibiting any violence. For anything prison officials deem "insubordination." For contraband—which includes not only drugs but cell phones—or even having too many postage stamps. 5

Prisoners in the Pelican Bay SHU have submitted a Formal Complaint—"On Human Rights Violations and Request for Action to end over 20 years of state sanctioned torture to extract information from (or cause mental illness to) California's Pelican Bay State Prison Security Housing Unit (SHU) Prisoners"—to the State of California lawmakers and the Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. One of the issues addressed in this complaint is the way many prisoners end up in the SHU at Pelican Bay because false and/or highly questionable "evidence" is used to accuse them of being active/inactive members of a prison gang. Prison officials say supermax facilities like the SHU are for the "worst of the worst." But as the Formal Complaint says, "a review of these so-called demonized 'worst of the worst' PBSP-SHU inmates, who are party to this complaint, will reveal they are actually free of being guilty of serious rule violations for many years and zero illegal gang-related acts in prison." And the complaint also alleges that many of those sent to the SHU are "those who utilize the legal system to challenge illegal [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] policies and practices, and encourage others to do the same."

The Formal Complaint states:

"If they want out of the SHU, they have to provide staff with information and be willing to testify on other prisoners, free citizens, including family members that only harms others and this has to be known by everyone. This is a Catch 22 situation—become a notorious informant (and thereby place yourself, possibly your family, at serious risk for retaliation) or die or become mentally ill in the SHU."

This is called "debriefing," which, the complaint goes on to explain, "requires a SHU inmate to provide CDCR staff with 'sufficient verifiable information that will adversely impact the gang, other gang members and associates to the extent that they will never accept them back.'"

The complaint goes on to say: "This makes the inmate (and possibly his family members) a target for reprisal, potentially for life ... many of these inmates are serving "term-to-life" sentences, and they have been eligible for parole for the last 5 to 25+ years, but they are told that if they want a chance to parole they have to debrief—period! The CDCR-PBSP-SHU policies and practices summarized violate both the U.S. Constitution and International law banning the use of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment as a means of obtaining information via coercion, and/or to punish for acts or suspected acts of misconduct..."

Crimes Against Humanity

Earlier this year, Laura Magnani, author of the American Friends Service Committee 2008 report, "Buried Alive: Long-Term Isolation in California's Youth and Adult Prisons," was on KPFK radio's Michael Slate Show and talked about conditions in SHUs (see interview excerpt above, "It is so dehumanizing, it's almost unimaginable"). At the end of the interview Slate spoke to the importance of prisoners "transforming themselves and really becoming something different from what they may have been when they went in, even if they weren't political prisoners there." He brought up how the isolation works to rob them of the ability to do this, of dreaming, of taking part in revolutionary activity. Magnani responded:

"It's not even just dreams, it's actually punishing you for having an intellectual life, for actually thinking outside the box, or for thinking at all. So the idea of barring people's access to certain kinds of thought, which is what censorship is, is extremely frightening. And we know from research that one of the best things that can happen to somebody doing a long prison sentence is for them to develop an intellectual life and start reading and start studying and start thinking for themselves. That's a way where you can really create a new life for yourself, or you can make your life meaningful even if you never get out. But if you do get out, you make yourself a more productive member of society, because you have a life. You're a thoughtful, educated person. What could be better? And instead they're trying to really prevent that from happening."

Crimes against the very humanity of people are being carried out every single day at Pelican Bay Prison—and in other prisons all over the USA. This is an intolerable outrage. And a mass and determined movement outside the walls is urgently needed to expose and demand an end to these high-tech torture chambers.


1  "Confronting Torture in U.S. Prisons: A Q&A With Solitary Watch" by James Ridgeway and Jean Casella, June 17, 2011 ( [back]

2  "Cruel and Unusual Punishment in California Prisons," Revolution #235, June 12, 2011 [back]

3 "'Infamous Punishment': The Psychological Consequences of Isolation" by Craig Haney, National Prison Project Journal, Spring 1994 [back]

4  "Rural Prison as Colonial Master" by Christian Parenti, available at: [back]

5  Ridgeway and Casella [back]

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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"It is so dehumanizing, it's almost unimaginable"

Laura Magnani is the author of the American Friends Service Committee 2008 report,"Buried Alive: Long-Term Isolation in California's Youth and Adult Prisons." In January 2011 she was on The Michael Slate Show on KPFK and described the conditions prisoners face in prison Security Housing Units. We are publishing this interview excerpt courtesy of The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Los Angeles:

The place to start might be the noise level. On the one hand we associate solitary confinement with this deadly silence, and in some case that is what you're facing. You might be facing deadly silence, you might be facing total darkness, or only artificial light so you have no idea what day it is or whether the day just started or the day just ended. So you're completely disoriented in terms of light and dark and so forth. And you might be in conditions of total silence.

But I think even worse than total silence is the more common phenomenon, which is that people are so desperate they'll be screaming all day long. So you'll be in a situation where there's this din of despair that you're subjected to. And of course you have to understand that these conditions go hand-in-hand with mental illness. So if you didn't start out being mentally ill when you were put into these conditions, it wouldn't take very long, it certainly wouldn't take me very long, to get to the place where I was just screaming bloody murder. And that's what happens. So people are living in an environment where people are screaming out of desperation twenty-four hours a day and you can't get away from it.

So that's the kind of beginning of the process. But then it goes on and on. The levels of torture—there are "cell extractions" where guards armed with incredible amount of armor and stuff come barging into your cell and putting you into horrible hog-ties and trashing your stuff. Now, at different levels that goes on throughout prisons. But the intensity increases in this environment. When you've been all alone and then all of a sudden you're invaded by maybe three to six armed, armored guards, it's pretty scary if not terrifying.

So those kinds of things go on. I don't even know when to stop. I guess one of the most shocking things to me was that psychiatrists visiting people in the SHU are doing it in an environment where the person that they're supposedly counseling is in a cage, is in literally a cage for their appointment with this person. And if they're doing group therapy there's literally a room full of cages, for group therapy.

So those kinds of things. It is so dehumanizing, it's almost unimaginable. And although I've been doing this work since the '70s, I really was shocked, the deeper I went into this.

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Prisoners at Pelican Bay SHU Announce Hunger Strike

Revolution newspaper received a copy of the "Final Notice: PBSP SHU D-Corridor Hunger Strike" written by prisoners in the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison. This notice calls for a hunger strike, to start on July 1, 2011, and includes five core demands, which in summary are:

1. End "group punishment" where an individual prisoner breaks a rule and prison officials punish a whole group of prisoners of the same race.

2. Abolish "debriefing" and modify active/inactive gang status criteria. False and/or highly questionable "evidence" is used to accuse prisoners of being active/inactive members of prison gangs who are then sent to the SHU where they are subjected to long-term isolation and torturous conditions. One of the only ways these prisoners can get out the SHU is if they "debrief"—that is, give prison officials information on gang activity.

3. Comply with recommendations from a 2006 U.S. commission to "make segregation a last resort" and "end conditions of isolation."

4. Provide Adequate Food. Prisoners report unsanitary conditions and small quantities of food. They want adequate food, wholesome nutritional meals including special diet meals and an end to the use of food as a way to punish prisoners in the SHU.

5. Expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates—including the opportunity to "engage in self-help treatment, education, religious and other productive activities..." which are routinely denied. Demands include one phone call per week, one photo per year, 2 packages a year, more visiting time, permission to have wall calendars, and sweat suits and watch caps (warm clothing is often denied even though cells and the exercise cage can be bitterly cold).

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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$30,000 in 30 Days + 100 New Sustainers to Revolution

"$100 is a lot of money for me
but that is what I am donating..."

From an immigrant:

I never met a person like Bob Avakian: someone who is not afraid of controversy and in fact welcomes it; someone who fights for the truth; someone who is sincere and it comes from the heart; someone who is not in this revolution for personal or monetary gain.

He impressed me as soon as he started his historic talk eight years ago Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. I remember it like it was yesterday, partly because I've gone back to it many times including showing it to my co-workers. He started it off discussing the history of Black people being hung ... lynched ... and for me as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who has been kept from this history it was quite an eye-opener. In fact I couldn't close my eyes for the next 10 hours of this talk. Ask yourself this: Do you know of any politician out there who is not only concerned with people in this country but of people all over the world. I can't even think of any politician who is concerned with people period. Bob Avakian is not just concerned ... he is leading a movement for revolution whose goal is the emancipation of humanity.

In the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, which I've read through over and over, one of the quotes that got me thinking a lot—#22 in Chapter 1 goes:

"In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about 'democracy'—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no 'democracy for all': one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality."

There it is for me: continuation or abolition? This is what we have to choose. I've made my choice. About BAsics more generally, it's amazing when you read about all this shit that goes on and why it goes on and you're so weighed down and involved in your daily lives and personal lives that you don't think about what's really going on and why things are so fucked up. When I heard about this fund drive to raise $30,000 in 30 days as well as 100 sustainers for Revolution newspaper, I immediately thought of the youth and what difference it would make if thousands and millions got to know Bob Avakian through this book. Knowing that $7,000 needs to be raised and earmarked to publicize it on hip-hop stations with a quote like the following, I knew this is where my money is best put:

"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, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."

Besides condemning this system for the hellhole it is for the overwhelming majority of people in the world, I get from Avakian hope for the future, and the actual way the world can be in striking detail, as well as how to get there. It's there in BAsics. I can't say that for anyone else on the scene today.

$100 is a lot of money for me but that is what I'm donating, and I'll be talking to others too, as I'm talking to you right now.

To the youth ... you need to know this revolutionary leader and after you do I would like to read about it in this very newspaper how and what you're learning from him and go down to a Revolution Books store and enlist yourself in this movement for revolution that Bob Avakian is leading. And I call on all others who care about "what future for our youth?" to really dig deep and financially support this effort.


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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Prisoner Makes $25 Donation to PRLF


I received the copy of BAsics that was sent to me and I'm truly grateful.

All of the previous reading materials that I've received from the PRLF is very enlightening and has led to my looking at so many things in a different light and I've become completely aware of the nefarious nature of the powers that be whose actions are pernicious to people all around the world.

When I reflect on my previous mind-set I'm disappointed with myself because I couldn't see the truth about this country when it has always been right there in front of me; however my feeling of disappointment always goes away when I'm able to assist in helping another see the truth by sharing with them information that I've received from the PRLF.

A donation of $25 from me was sent out to the PRLF and if possible will you inform me if it was received, thank you.

Prisoner in California

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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$30,000 in 30 Days + 100 New Sustainers to Revolution

Sustain Revolution Newspaper

Think about the times we live in. U.S. wars of domination and aggression masquerade as "wars for freedom." Black youth are demonized and generations are imprisoned. The media spreads lies and confusion every minute of the day. The U.S. carries out torture, backs brutal dictators, kills the planet – and we're told there is nothing we can do about all this and this is the best system in the world.  Think about this situation. And then think about what it means to have Revolution newspaper in the midst of all this. 

Raising Funds... And Preparing for Revolution
It's important for us to understand this: when people give for the first time, we are beginning a relationship with them. This relationship should be rich and multidimensional even as it ultimately has everything to do with accumulating forces for revolution. As they continue to support these kinds of projects and efforts, the relationship should be deepening. Comrades and supporters who win people to sustain should consistently work with these new sustainers, learning more (and helping the Party to learn more) about their conditions and about their thinking and about the conditions and thinking among the people they live and work with. We should be learning about their aspirations and how they see things and what holds them back. We should be getting a deeper understanding about the ways in which the works of Bob Avakian and other works, as well as our newspaper, are connecting with them—the questions that these works are answering and the new ones being sparked.

Revolution #234, May 29, 2011

Think about how important it is to have Revolution, a newspaper that cuts to the bone to tell you WHY things are happening... to show you HOW it doesn't have to be this way... a newspaper that through the works of Bob Avakian, and many different articles, interviews, letters, graphics, and other features, enables people to really understand and act to radically change the world.

Revolution is a call to action and a means of struggle. 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.

Revolution is 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. 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."

But the truth of the matter is, it cannot play this crucial role without a solid and growing base of financial support. Revolution now operates on an amazingly limited budget, but it does have to meet its overhead expenses each month, support reporters and translation work, and more. And it must expand, including by completing the process of transforming the website so that it can reach people hungry for its content around the entire U.S. and all over the world. This kind of financial support does not yet exist – and it is an urgent need.

Revolution needs sustainers on all levels and with different means. A movement of people making monthly contributions, whatever their ability is – a half dozen people who live in the projects each contributing $5 a month... teachers and students taking up monthly collections among their colleagues... professionals, artists and others with more means making larger donations – which are urgently needed – of $100 or $50 a month. These and many other creative forms of sustaining Revolution newspaper must be unleashed all over the place.

Regularly contributing to this newspaper, and often at great sacrifice, is precious to our movement. And not only will this guarantee the continued publication of this paper, but it will build up a strong financial and political base for Revolution and actually can contribute to fostering a broader culture of radical opposition.

How To Donate

RCP Publications/Revolution newspaper: donations can be made by check or money order to RCP Publications or online at (Indicate if your donation is earmarked for Revolution newspaper.)

RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Chicago, IL 60654 • 773-227-4066


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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Alejandro del Fuego

We are deeply saddened to hear of the death of Alejandro del Fuego. Alejandro was a revolutionary communist youth from Houston who devoted the last years of his too-short life to the revolution. At 21 years of age, Alejandro (Alex) lost his battle with cancer. This is indeed a tragic loss.

Revolution will be featuring more about Alejandro, his life, and a memorial that is being organized.


Alejandro del Fuego, 1989-2011.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

Alejandro (Alex) was very enthusiastic about the April 11 event, "On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics: A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World." He was unable to attend the event because of his illness, but he was honored to contribute a video message to the celebration. Below is a transcript of his statement.


"All of this is essential to grasp for my generation."

Good evening, this is Alejandro del Fuego with a message and revolutionary greetings.

Today, we live in tumultuous times. New rattlings and rumblings of the oppressed are ringing around us, while new seeds are gestating and opportunity and a challenge is presented to communists to nurture and lead this development.

This world is crying out for communist leadership and revolution. Bob Avakian represents the pinnacle of that leadership, as he has advanced the science and method of analyzing and transforming the world in a qualitative way. And yet, he's gone further than that. He's made this method accessible. He's illuminating the pathway to a future world, not as a supreme leader with all the right answers but as a brilliant guide enabling others in all he does to understand the richness and complexity of this whole process.

All of this is essential to grasp for my generation.

All the teens and 20-somethings who are desperately searching for something more meaningful in their lives than another hazy, chaotic, and forgotten weekend—they need to know about Bob Avakian and the party he leads. The youth in high school—from those who have never been given the opportunity to dream, to those even in the most elite institutions who see the futility and apathy of a school system designed to socialize and confine, rather than educate and liberate their minds—they need to know about Bob Avakian. For those of us in my generation who are already in and around this, it's our responsibility to let them know about BA, the BAsics, and to bring them in to changing the world.

Alejandro del Fuego was part of the Revolutionary Summer Youth Project that worked to spread the message and call from the RCP, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," in Harlem and Washington Heights during the summer of 2009.
Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

To me, BAsics represents a huge opportunity to spread this leadership and this method among masses from all sections of society, at a time when it is desperately needed. Bob Avakian has opened my eyes to the world as it is; although the situation may appear bleak, he has shown that there is much more to the internal contradictions which pervade society and which are not fully apparent without this scientific method he has advanced. He has shown that there is great potential for a future world, which can and must be wrenched from this one. Furthermore, he is actively leading a party and masses of people to take up the science of communism and make revolution here in the United States as part of an entire world revolution.

In his landmark speech, Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, BA makes the point that this system of capitalism-imperialism is a cancer. Cancer is something I am intimately familiar with as I have been battling its growth within me for a year and a half at this point. Both of these cancers can seem insurmountable on the surface, however, the "game changer" in this situation is science. In terms of the worldwide struggle for communism, Bob Avakian has developed an entire scientific synthesis of the previous experience of proletarian revolution and is continuing to forge a new path.

It is with great pleasure and pride that I've been able to at least scratch the surface of his immense body of work, attempting to grasp his exhilarating insights and how it is that he has developed these. This body of work can, in a qualitatively new way, with the release of BAsics, be spread among masses of all strata empowering them to envision and struggle for a liberated planet.

I'm getting ready to get out there and spread BAsics, and this leader we have in Bob Avakian. I'm taking up the $200 Challenge and I challenge you to do the same.


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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Two different views on: Accumulating Forces for Revolution

We received the following from a reader:

In a recent discussion of the RCP's new statement "On the Strategy for Revolution," someone observed that they had always thought of "accumulating forces" simply as winning people to become communists. Beyond that, they thought revolutionaries were mainly just seeking to create broad public opinion in favor of revolution and communism. This person is still relatively new to the movement for revolution, but I have observed that quite a few others—including veterans of this movement—still too much share in this same wrong conception of our strategy. For this reason, I felt it was important to compare and contrast two different approaches and where each of them lead.

To put it simply, winning people to become communists—and to join the Revolutionary Communist Party on that basis—is extremely important. So is creating broad public opinion for revolution and communism. But to think that is all that is meant by "accumulating forces" is both to envision a different—and far less realistic—strategy for revolution and to envision a different—and far drearier and less viable—vision of a new world.

Here are a couple of questions that sharpen this up.

When someone first encounters this revolution, when they first express an openness to learning about it, when they first find something attractive and inspiring about Bob Avakian and/or his re-envisionment of revolution and communism, when they step forward to fight the power or to contribute to the revolution in some other way, do we see this as a good thing to be worked with and learned from and transformed over time through an ongoing strategic relationship? Or, do we see those parts of the person's thinking and behavior that still reflects their lifetime of being trained and shaped by capitalism and decide that they really are a long way away from becoming a communist and so it's really hard to fit them into this movement?

This may sound like a no-brainer, but I have heard communists get frustrated that people who are relatively new still believe in god or don't really know how to explain to others what this revolution is about. I have even heard some communists complain that a person who is one of the first people in a certain neighborhood to start distributing Revolution newspaper is paying for the papers themselves and just giving them away rather than selling them!

Yes, we have to struggle with people to break with ways of thinking and acting that this system has trained them in... and yes, we have to train people in the full strategy of this revolution and enable them to act with increasing initiative... but to do any of this—and to do any of it in line with our strategic aims—we have to let people in to this revolution.

Are we seeking to learn everything we can from those who are beginning to step forward into this revolution and what clues this might offer as to potential pathways to bring forward others? Are we appreciating what a leap it is for people in society today to begin to relate to the movement for revolution and working together with them to develop forms that enable them to contribute in a meaningful way even as they learn more and get in deeper? Are we listening to—and learning from—the criticisms that people have, including about the "all or nothing" feeling they still too often get from us? And are we fighting for, and in line with, a society where everyone falls in line and carries out work in the same way, or are we really going for, and fighting in a way that reflects the kind of wild and woolly, vibrant and ferment-filled socialism that Bob Avakian has re-envisioned?

Further, do we really get that at the time of the all-out struggle for the seizure of power if there is going to be a real chance at winning the revolutionary movement will need to have organized into it many millions who are not communists? Do we get that while it is extremely important that a growing core of people do make the leap to becoming communists, no one can say in advance which people will travel that whole road? And, do we get that no one develops only through the work that we do with them, but rather through the whole multi-level reality that is influencing them which includes us, but also others who are themselves unevenly taking up this revolution, as well as the whole broader world?

When we make plans, do we comprehend the full scope of those who would want to contribute, in one way or another, and make sure that we are giving them opportunities to do so? Are we comprehending the ways that people with diverse views and levels of commitment coming together can actually create/unleash new energies? Are we building "we's" at all different levels... "we's" that interpenetrate with one another and create a whole greater than the sum of its parts?

If we are not finding the means to work with many different people who are at many different levels of political and ideological development, if we are not finding the ongoing ways to carry out ongoing political and ideological struggle with them, and if we are not increasingly developing the means for them to engage in this struggle together with each other, then almost no one will make this leap and even if they do they—and we—will still be very isolated and encircled by the broader non-revolutionary mood of society... as well as pretty brittle and dogmatic.

On the other hand, many people can make a meaningful contribution to the movement for revolution—including in influencing and reinforcing others towards this revolution—even as they themselves are still learning more and figuring out where they stand. This can mean things like giving money to particular efforts, helping to distribute Revolution newspaper or other materials, ushering at an event, inviting someone to make an announcement in their class, being part of fighting the power, and many other things. This can also mean things like raising their questions and reservations, offering their suggestions or their criticisms, and sharing with us the work and ideas they are passionate about.

A lot of this has to do with understanding how the concept of "solid core with a lot of elasticity" applies, and can be applied, to reality. I've emphasized here the elasticity—but this elasticity can only contribute on the basis of a solid core that is constantly expanding and deepening. To put it another way—none of what is talked about above can be unleashed in a way that can really contribute to revolution without the party being strengthened. The recently released RCP statement, "On the Strategy for Revolution," gives a great deal of emphasis to the importance of this in order to make revolution. Here's what it says, in talking about the work that has to be done now:

"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."

It goes on from there to emphasize the need 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," as well as the related need to "much more fully wield our Party's newspaper, Revolution." On the basis of doing and constantly strengthening this kind of work—on the basis of this solid core— we should be able to recognize the basis for and to do much better at unleashing all kinds of elasticity.

Finally, let's stop writing people off if they don't come around for a while. Are we only interested in those people who come forward in a straight line? Why not let's make much more systematic use of our newspaper—sign many more people up for the e-subs and get many more people to subscribe—while we encourage them at the same time to "get into Bob Avakian"... so that as they pursue other priorities and interests they are able to stay in touch... and to reconnect when events in the world cause them to think again.

With all this in mind, it is worth returning to, reflecting more deeply on, and really using as a guide for our practice the very broad invitation and challenge at the end of the Statement on Strategy:

"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 #237, June 26, 2011

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Get In... Get Out... Get Connected

Prisoners Correspond on BAsics

On April 11, A Celebration of Revolution and the Vision of a New World—On the Occasion of the Publication of BAsics—brought to life a different way to think and to feel, and to be. This revolution and the vision of a new world came to life that night, as works of art interacted with the words of BAsics. Now is the time to seize upon this incredible real thing and to realize the potential the words of Bob Avakian have to change how people think and act in the world. Toward the close of the evening, Carl Dix called on the audience to just do three things: Get In, Get Out, and Get Connected. And it is up to us—all of us—to take up this call.

* * *

RCP Camaradas,

Saludos a todos de la parte de todo camaradas aquí en este bloque. [Greetings to everybody from all the comrades here in this block.] The Libros and subscription that you send are extraordinarily appreciated by todos aquí. They provoke theoretical mind stimulating discussions and debates that initiate synapses firing between the neurons in thought developing progress. Like Mao's "100 Flowers" campaign, I encourage and promote conflicting concepts between the gente, pero I try to keep them confined "within" the context of a Marxist framework by proposing "this" (Marxist) concept to "that" (Marxist) concept, etc., even if it's not proposed as a "Marxist" idea per se.

This brings me to: I received the book BAsics and after reading it in one sitting (re-reading it actually) I began to circulate it. It's a good intro for those who are not familiar with such views. I must admit, not only is the Rev. issue containing the interview with Alexander on her (Michelle's) new book, The New Jim Crow, still popular & in circulation, we are looking forward to its publication in softback and its arrival in great anticipation!....

Also, there was a couple/three weeks without any arrival of Rev.? I assumed that this had stemmed from the fact that I had been moved temporarily... I'll check the dates on the paper in the morning. If anything is not up to par, I'll zip off a letter with detailed info to ... the L.A. office of the A.C.L.U. I think all is well though.

With that said, I know you're occupied with a full plate. We are in preparation for a group hunger strike in an effort to force the CDC (prison administrators) to adhere to court rulings that the CDC blatantly refuses to abide by. I'll write as circumstances necessitate.

In Struggle, Prisoner in Pelican Bay State Prison

[Artwork scanned from prisoner's letter]

* * *

Why is BAsics so important for this generation? Well, "the essential question is not 'thinking for yourself,' but thinking according to what method—a correct or incorrect one—leading to what basic result—truth or falsehood." BAsics does just that, but in the most accessible way for the masses to grasp, while making it their own...

I've already received and read my copy of BAsics. It's definitely a handbook for my generation and the youth coming up. I'm certainly promoting it as much as my influence will allow me behind these walls. ...

Prisoner in Midwest

* * *

Dear Revolutionaries,

My best greetings & my highest of respects to each & every one of y'all!

I did receive BAsics & I thought it was great!

To the Youngsters, Students, and Revolutionaries of the World, I am a young man from a border town in South Texas that has been in and out of the system since I was a child because I chose to partake in organized crime. Had I known then what I know now, I would have taken a different path. That "gangsta life" y'all see in T.V. and movies is far from reality... The key is knowledge & only revolution will set us free. Take it from a man who has been there & done it. Life is too short to waste it in a penitentiary. My love and respects to everyone who makes it possible & contributes to P.R.L.F.! Oppression breeds resistance and we must resist.

In Solidarity, Prisoner in Texas

* * *

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Steadfast Greetings PRLF,

Thank you very much for the BAsics book by Bob Avakian. I've been gradually reading it and analyzing it as well. So far it's pretty remarkable and very profound. I do agree on Chapter 1:1 "There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery." Well, I'm of African descent and know that statement to be true in itself. The exploitation, oppression, brutality, and massive atrocity played a key role in how this country was established. Africans were brought over here as slaves; in which they produced a lot of wealth from their service, that was plundered by the capitalist-imperialist ruling class. The economic system was produced by those circumstances too. So without slavery this country wouldn't be what it is today. Also other ethnicities were oppressed and exploited too. The Native Indians were eradicated from their own land over here as well. Democracy was founded on exploitation of the people of the oppressed class, and serving only the elite.

This has went on a massive scale all around the world. Other nations have felt this oppression too, as well as the harsh effects of it. This has gone on over centuries and still takes place today. Now, this U.S. regime has been at the roots of a lot of these problems we still see nowadays such as: the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other warring countries. It's not hard to see all of this is done for some kind of economic gain. This is where the ruling class proclaims their throne as the number one capitalist of the world. Imperialism is spread to dominate people's land and conform them to this system's standards. I do agree we do need a Revolution upon this nation where people stand up and not allow this atrocity to continue... Until then, people must educate themselves on how to bring this about on an effective scale. Well, Bob Avakian's teachings promote those skills [and] we must apply them in order to get there truly. The people is what we need to build up first and the rest will follow... Truth is Liberating!!

In Solidarity, Prisoner from California


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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF) has received a generous donation of $1,000, and is calling on you to dig deeply and encourage your friends to do the same. Donate as generously as you can, including to match this contribution, and help PRLF raise $6,000 by June 23. Your contributions will allow prisoners to receive BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, and Revolution newspaper.

Also download and share the two PRLF brochures at

"I did in fact receive it [BAsics] and have read and reread it...I found it both enlightening and inspiring and very useful in lacing newcomers up to the principles of your movement. A lot of people have a hard time getting around difficult concepts, or we have a hard time grasping their attention concerning political realities. This book of short quotes and sayings is easily read and understood. It contains a lot of wisdom in short brief paragraphs. It's easy to read a small amount and meditate on the concept all day long."

Prisoner in Texas

"First, I want to thank you for the copy of BAsics... Please thank the donors who made it possible for me to receive BAsics and Revolution. These publications have had a great impact on my political thinking. I have been a radical from a very young age, but Bob Avakian's writings have solidified my beliefs and given me a solid foundation. Thank you once again for all you do for me and for all the prisoners you help."

Prisoner in Midwest

To Donate:

Tax deductible donations can be made online at: or at
("International Humanities" will appear on your credit card statement)

Non-tax deductible online donations can be made at 

Send tax-deductible checks, payable to IHCenter/PRLF, to:

International Humanities Center/
Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
PO Box 207, Woodland Hills, CA 91365

Send other checks or money orders, payable to PRLF, to:

Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
1321 N. Milwaukee, #407, Chicago, IL 60622

To contact PRLF: (773) 960-6952 or

PRLF is a project of the International Humanities Center, a non‑profit public charity, exempt from federal income tax under section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS code.

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Alabama Passes New Fascist Anti-Immigrant Law

On June 9, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed a viciously repressive anti-immigrant law. This law, Alabama House Bill 56 or HB 56, is an all encompassing measure. It is called an "omnibus bill" meaning it intends, in the words of one right-wing journalist, to address "almost every conceivable problem 'illegals' cause."

Among its many fascist measures, Alabama HB 56:

HB 56 faces legal challenges. Cecilia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants Rights Project, said that "By signing this bill into law, Gov. Bentley has codified official discrimination in the State of Alabama. We will take action to keep this law from going into effect to ensure that the civil rights and liberties of all Alabamans are protected." But the State of Alabama is moving to put HB 56 into effect on September 1. If the law stands against appeal, it will mean an unprecedented, pervasive, round-the-clock level of terror will be directed against all immigrants in Alabama, and anyone who looks or talks "different" according to the standards of any Alabama cop.

Version 1.0: Arizona

The police state measures embodied in HB 56 were modeled on the hated Arizona State Bill 1070. SB 1070 was signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in April 2010, and marked a major national escalation in the persecution of immigrants. As the July 2010 deadline for SB 1070's implementation neared, protests erupted involving tens of thousands of people who walked out of schools, occupied government offices, and marched and rallied in Phoenix, Tucson, and other Arizona cities. These protests convulsed the state for several months. Prominent artists denounced the law, and many groups and individuals called for boycotts of Arizona. Countless immigrants fled the state as July approached.

In late July 2010, some of the most notorious sections of SB 1070 were temporarily enjoined (prevented from becoming law) in a federal court ruling. The enjoined sections included the requirement that all police officials question anyone they stopped about that person's immigration status if they had a "reasonable suspicion" that the person was in the U.S. "illegally." But nine major, highly repressive sections of SB 1070 became state law, upheld in federal court.

Since then, the relentless, heartless repression against immigrants has intensified throughout the country.

A Storm of Repressive Legislation Sweeps the Country

A wave of harshly repressive, overtly racist, and sadistically cruel law-making swept through the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, "in the first quarter of 2011, state lawmakers introduced 52 immigration-related omnibus bills in 30 states," and a total of 1,538 "immigration-related bills" have been introduced so far this year. Arizona's hated SB 1070 became a model for legislation in several states, including Georgia, Utah, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Indiana. But none of these laws were more extreme than Alabama's.

Kris Kobach, Secretary of State for Kansas and former law professor at the University of Missouri, has been a major figure in drafting many of the anti-immigrant laws. He wrote most of Arizona's SB 1070. He also played a key role in crafting Alabama's HB 56, which includes many parts of the Arizona law, but is even more repressive. After Governor Bentley signed HB 56, Kobach gloated, "Alabama is now the new No. 1 state for immigration enforcement. I have worked closely with Senate and House leadership (in Alabama) to ensure that the Alabama law is drafted carefully. It will pass judicial muster if the ACLU and the open-borders crowd decide to take Alabama to court."

Many politicians say that a major reason for this surge of reactionary legislation on the state level is that the "federal government isn't doing its job"; that is, in these politicians' view, the Obama administration is not doing enough to crack down on immigration and immigrants. In fact, the Obama administration has aggressively increased repression against immigrants—a fact which Obama proudly trumpets. In El Paso in May, Obama said: "over the last two years ... we have strengthened border security beyond what many believed was possible.... The Border Patrol has 20,000 agents—more than twice as many as in 2004. ... We tripled the number of intelligence analysts working at the border. I've deployed unmanned aerial vehicles to patrol the skies from Texas to California. ... Beyond the border, we're going after employers who knowingly exploit people and break the law. And we are deporting those who are here illegally."

Deportations during the Obama administration have risen by 10 percent compared to the last year of George W. Bush's presidency, to a total of 279,035 during 2010. Despite Obama's claim to the crowd in El Paso that "we're focusing our limited resources and people on violent offenders and people convicted of crimes," the government's own data shows that less than one in six of the people deported in 2010 had been convicted of crimes classified as "violent," and 51 percent had no criminal record at all.

High Stakes for the U.S. Rulers

The savage, relentless exploitation of millions of immigrants, documented and undocumented, is essential to the functioning of the system of capitalism-imperialism in this country and to its dominant standing in the world. Millions of immigrants work in the shittiest, most back- breaking, low paying and sometimes no-paying jobs: in farms and orchards, in factories and warehouses, in hotels and restaurants, on the golf courses and country clubs of the well-to-do. Their exploitation—the profits reaped from their labor—has been a key component of U.S. economic functioning. As Alan Greenspan, the former head of the Federal Reserve, testified to Congress in 2007, "there is little doubt that unauthorized, that is, illegal, immigration has made a significant contribution to the growth of our economy."

There is also much at stake for the imperialists internationally. Maintaining a semblance of stability in Mexico and Central America—countries dominated, pillaged, and dismembered by the U.S. for over 150 years—is at the core of U.S. strategic, global interests. Immigration to—and working in—the U.S. has long been seen by the powers-that-be as a "safety valve" to the building pressure in the societies of Mexico and Central America. Not only does the money sent home by immigrants work to alleviate the tremendous economic suffering, but the so-called promise of a better life in the U.S. becomes a "way out" of unbearable conditions for millions.

But all this poses intractable problems for the U.S. ruling class. The 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country are also seen as a potential source of instability and "disloyalty." And the entire U.S. ruling class wants to further develop and strengthen its means of controlling and "driving out of the shadows" the undocumented population—even as there are intense differences at the top over how to carry this out.

The Obama administration has been developing a brutal program of "immigration control" that relies on savage high tech and militarized control of the U.S.-Mexico border, record levels of deportations, penalties aimed at a small number of employers who hire the undocumented, and a centralized effort to enter everyone with a job in this country in a government data base (the "E-Verify" program).

But to the dominant forces in the Republican Party, and to all the racist, fascist factions in the various "Tea Party" groupings, even this is not enough to maintain stability and "glue" this society together. As we said in an article in Revolution last year, "The heart of the program of these fascists is to restore or return to that original social contract—with its male supremacy and white supremacy—which they associate with a time when the U.S. was 'riding high.' In fact, many even wax nostalgic about the Confederacy, when the only reason for its existence was to defend slavery. In their view, if it takes establishing a fascist regime to do it, so be it." ("Stop the System's Fascist Attacks on Immigrants," Revolution #208, July 25, 2010)

Resist the Fascist Anti-Immigrant Laws

Starting on September 1, school children in Birmingham and Montgomery will be prevented from enrolling in school because their parents don't have the proper papers. Landlords in Mobile and Tuscaloosa will be required to verify the immigration status of prospective renters, and to deny a home to anyone who didn't pass their scrutiny. Every cop in the state will be authorized to use the pretext of "reasonable suspicion" to demand citizenship or immigration papers from people they stop—and everyone knows this means people with certain skin colors or speaking with certain types of accents.

This fascist Alabama law is an ominous and dangerous escalation that is extremely harmful to the people. Earlier this year, when an anti-immigrant bill was passed in Georgia, it was met with broad resistance. ("Georgia: Thousands Protest Ugly Anti-Immigrant Law," Revolution #231, May 1, 2011, online only at And, in March, Alabamans protested against HB 56. Such resistance in opposition to all these fascist laws, and all the assaults upon immigrants, must grow, urgently and widely, among all sections of the people, immigrant and native born alike.

Our movement for revolution is an internationalist movement—one that stands for, and fights for, the equality of all nations.

An article in Revolution ("Vicious Attack on Immigrants Continues," Revolution #209, August 15, 2010) summing up the political battle against Arizona's SB 1070 applies even more compellingly today: "At stake here is what kind of world we want, and are willing to fight for, and to live in. Will it be a world where people are hunted down and persecuted, separated from their families and loved ones, driven from place to place, penned up and displayed for public humiliation, forced to trek across burning deserts without food or water in a desperate struggle to find a menial job? The intense conflicts between different sets of oppressors can contribute to bringing about rare opportunities for revolution. But the terms of the divide within the U.S. ruling class cannot set the limits of how all this will be resolved."

Latino workers from around the state, civil libertarians, activists, and members of the state legislature's Black Democratic Caucus rallied against the Alabama anti-immigrant law at the State Capitol in Birmingham on March 10. One minister told the crowd, "We must not allow Alabama to reverse its progress against racism." Protesters carried signs saying "What does 'reasonably suspicious' look like?" and "Stop Juan Crow."

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Alabama: Where have we seen this before?

From a reader

A child is turned away at a schoolhouse door, by racist laws and demagogic politicians who declare her less than human...

A family is told they can't rent a house because "you don't have papers"... meaning you are not the "right" race or color...

An elderly man dies of a heart attack on the street, because the law bans bringing people of "the wrong color" to a hospital...

A whole people, driven to America by the workings of an oppressive system, are locked down in the dirtiest, most dangerous, worst paying jobs, demonized as a dangerous threat... and taken away by the sheriff or armed vigilantes if they complain...

"Segregation Forever"

Up until the 1960s, segregation—the separation of people on the basis of race, was the law in Alabama. Black children were denied admission to "whites only" schools. Blacks were turned away at hospitals—in many cases resulting in unnecessary death. In the period after slavery ended, Alabama's notorious Black Code rigidly controlled the lives of Black workers, compelling them to work for whites (often for their former masters). Vaguely defined laws against "loitering" and "vagrancy" were used to keep Black people in a state of constant fear of being locked up, or worse. Even into the 1960s, Blacks were banned from "whites only" waiting areas in bus and train stations, forced to order from the back door at restaurants, and to live in the shadows, officially and legally second-class citizens. All this was enforced by violence from police and sheriffs like "Bull" Connor, and armed vigilantes—the Ku Klux Klan.

On June 11, 1963, Alabama Governor George Wallace stood in the entrance to the University of Alabama to block two African-American students from enrolling in the whites-only school, issuing his infamous call, "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever."

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and the uprisings of the 1960s challenged segregation, and in part because of decades of heroic struggle and sacrifice, formal, legal segregation against African-Americans is no longer a matter of law.

But today, we see much of the same being visited on undocumented immigrants.

The Dogs Are Still in the Streets

Many years ago Gil Scott-Heron sang:

In Houston maybe someone said Mexicans were the new niggers
In LA maybe someone said Chicanos were the new niggers
In Frisco maybe someone said Orientals were the new niggers
Maybe in Philadelphia and North Carolina they decided they didn't need no new niggers
I had said I wasn't going to write no more poems like this
But dogs are in the streets;
It's a turn around world where things are all too quickly turned around
It was turned around so that right looked wrong; it was turned around so that up looked down...

The motherfucking dogs are still in the streets.

And things still need to change.


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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Oakland Protest Against Release of Killer Cop Mehserle

On June 13, Johannes Mehserle, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cop who shot and killed Oscar Grant at point-blank range in Oakland, Calif., was released from jail in L.A. Mehserle killed Oscar Grant on New Year's Day 2009. Prosecutors brought charges against Mehserle only after courageous exposure by people who recorded the killing on their cell phones, and determined protests in Oakland and beyond. His trial, which resulted in a conviction only for involuntary manslaughter and a two-year sentence, was a slap on the wrist. And on top of all that, Mehserle served only 11 months—less than half of his two-year sentence. In response to Mehserle's early release, hundreds of outraged protesters gathered at the Fruitvale BART station where Oscar Grant was murdered, and marched to downtown Oakland.  

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Justice for Flint Farmer! Indict the Chicago Cops Who Killed Him!

From readers:

Flint Farmer, 29 years old, was shot multiple times and killed by Chicago police at about 1:30 am, June 7. The spokesperson for Flint's family made one thing clear when speaking to the press: "This was a murder!" Surrounded by a crowd of Flint's family, friends, anti-police brutality activists, and revolutionaries, he stated that "this was not an accident" and that people were not going to let this be swept under the rug.

Witnesses report gunshots just going on and on. The Chicago Tribune reported the following: "Officers discovered that the object [Flint Farmer was holding] was a cell phone, according to law enforcement sources." His body was left lying in a pool of blood from 1:30 am to 5:00 am when it was taken away in a police car. Not even an ambulance—a police car! For all those hours, family members were forced to stand half a block away, not even allowed to approach the body and insulted by police—some of whom were parading around grinning and laughing.

The family did not have access to the police autopsy. Photographs were taken at the funeral home, and family members who reviewed the photos were able to describe that Flint was shot in the back of the neck, the back just below the shoulder, the back of the leg, the chest, the stomach, the thigh, and the hand.

According to a family member, the police came because a call was made about domestic abuse. Flint left the house through the back when the police were arriving in the front of the house. Several days after the murder, one of the family members read a quote from BAsics (2:16), which was being passed out and posted in the neighborhood. In the quote, Bob Avakian addressed the 1998 killing of Tyisha Miller, a 19-year-old African-American woman, by Riverside, California police. Miller had been passed out in her car when the police claimed she suddenly awoke and had a gun; police fired 23 shots at her: "If you can't handle this situation differently than this, then get the fuck out of the way. Not only out of the way of this situation, but get off the earth. Get out of the way of the masses of people. Because, you know, we could have handled this situation any number of ways that would have resulted in a much better outcome. And frankly, if we had state power and we were faced with a similar situation, we would sooner have one of our own people's police killed than go wantonly murder one of the masses. That's what you're supposed to do if you're actually trying to be a servant of the people..." The family member reflected on this quote, saying that the situation with Flint could have been handled in any number of ways that would have resulted in a better outcome.

In the following days, we spoke with people in the neighborhood. Many described the daily police brutality and harassment by the police. One man told us he was sitting in his van with some friends—just hanging out—when the police came on them, and forced the young men from the van. The cops then took clean laundry that was in the van and threw it onto the ground, found an unopened bottle of whiskey in the van, opened it, and poured it in the van, and then had the van towed. It cost him a thousand dollars all told to get the van back.

The day after Flint was killed, we first met members of his family hanging out at the memorial people had set up where he had been killed. We had brought a banner saying "Stolen Lives" with pictures of 20 of the many people killed by police just in Chicago and just in the years 2007-2010. Family members helped us hang it behind the memorial. People driving by stopped when they saw the banner. Some got out and people gathered. Some knew other people on the banner. A couple of people talked about Matthias Mayhorn—killed by police only a few blocks from where Flint had been murdered.

Many times, both on Wednesday and Friday at a public memorial on the same spot that drew 50 people, we turned to quotes in BAsics that go into the role of the police, violence among the people, and other crucial questions. We talked about our slogan, "Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution." We talked with people about how we saw building resistance to police brutality, the struggle for justice for Flint, and much more as part of building a movement for revolution.

On Monday, June 13, there was another vigil/rally to demand "Justice for Flint Farmer" and the indictment for murder of the police who killed him.

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Japan: Protests Mark 3 Months Since Nuclear Disaster

On Saturday, June 11, anti-nuclear protests took place in 140 locations in Japan, and in a number of other countries. The date marked three months from the start of the ongoing disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami. In Tokyo, people marched on the headquarters of TEPCO, the corporate owner of the Fukushima plant, and demanded that all nuclear plants be shut down. Organizers said the crowd swelled to 20,000 people. There were some confrontations with police, and the police broke up the protests that night. Many of those in the streets were protesting for the first time. A 28-year-old woman who brought her two- and four-year-old kids said, "If they don't get the message now, what else has to happen before we stop using atomic energy which has proved so dangerous?"

Increasingly, broad sections of people in Japan are being brought into political life and angry opposition as revelations continue to pour out exposing how the government and TEPCO have covered up the real extent and deep dangers present in the radioactive contamination from Fukushima. Farmers and fisherpeople, whose livelihoods are being destroyed because of land and sea contamination, have been speaking out and holding protests. People in many areas have been forced to try to monitor radiation contamination themselves because the government is failing to do so and to warn them. On May 23, parents from the city of Fukushima encircled the Ministry of Education in Tokyo after the government raised the allowable radiation exposure level for schoolchildren twentyfold annually. Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency recently admitted that a full nuclear meltdown had occurred in three of Fukushima's reactors and that the amount of escaped radiation was double the original estimates. Massive and widespread poisoning of people, land, and the ocean has already occurred, and the crisis is far from over.

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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The High Stakes Persecution of Bradley Manning

There are new developments and high stakes In the U.S. government's persecution of Bradley Manning. And a growing movement to defend him.

In April 2010, the video "Collateral Murder" was posted to the Internet by WikiLeaks. It has been viewed over 11 million times. The footage, taken from inside an Apache helicopter in 2007 over Baghdad, shows American troops cold-bloodedly gunning down 11 Iraqis, including two people who worked for the Reuters news agency and a man who had come onto the scene in a van to try to help the other victims. Two small children in the van were seriously injured by the gunfire. The video includes an audio track of voices of the soldiers in the helicopter during the attack. The soldiers can be heard repeatedly requesting and being granted permission to open fire, and joking with each other about the dead and injured victims on the ground.

Six weeks later, the U.S. Army took a 22-year-old private from his intelligence analyst post in Iraq and jailed him in Kuwait, saying that he was responsible for leaking "Collateral Murder." Bradley Manning, a British and U.S. citizen who grew up in Oklahoma and England, was then moved to a Marine prison in Quantico, Virginia, and charged with "illegally downloading and transferring defense information to an 'unauthorized source' and of obtaining 150,000 classified State Department cables, many of which WikiLeaks eventually released."

Bradley Manning spent the next nine months in prison conditions that constituted psychological and physical torture. He faces charges of "aiding the enemy" that could bring the death penalty. On April 25, Barack Obama declared in an interview that Manning "broke the law" even though Manning has yet to be tried—and is supposed to be considered innocent until proven guilty. A growing movement in the U.S. and worldwide is demanding his release. And the stakes of this battle are very high.

Ominous Implications

From June 2010 to April 2011, Bradley Manning was confined to his cell for twenty-three hours a day—during the other hour, he was only allowed to walk in circles in another room with no other prisoners present. He was not allowed to doze off or relax during the day, and was forced to answer the question "Are you OK?" every five minutes. At night, he was awakened and asked "Are you OK?" every time he turned his back to the cell door or covered his head with a blanket so that the guards could not see his face. At times, he was forced to sleep naked and stand naked for inspection in front of his cell under claims of risk to himself that he himself disputed. ("Private Manning's Humiliation" by Bruce Ackerman and Yochai Benkler, New York Review of Books, April 28, 2011)

As WikiLeaks posted a torrent of U.S. government documents over the past year, covering the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo, and thousands of cables showing the routine domination of other countries through diplomacy, the government began to deal with Manning and WikiLeaks as even more dangerous enemies. ("U.S. Lashes Out At WikiLeaks," Revolution #220, December 19, 2010)

In March 2011, the Army added 22 more charges against Manning, including "giving information to the enemy" for which a military tribunal may put him to death.

Attorney and civil liberties blogger Glenn Greenwald wrote that Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, under which Manning is charged—and which carries a possible death penalty—"is incredibly broad." Greenwald wrote that Manning is likely to be prosecuted under provisions of this article which find a person is guilty if he or she "gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly" [emphasis Greenwald's]. ("Bradley Manning could face death: For what?", March 4, 2011)

And Greenwald went on to note that "In light of the implicit allegation that Manning transmitted this material to WikiLeaks, it is quite possible that WikiLeaks is the 'enemy' referenced by Article 104, i.e., that the U.S. military now openly decrees... that the whistle-blowing group is an 'enemy' of the U.S." Greenwald cited a 2010 New York Times article that reported "To the list of the enemies threatening the security of the United States, the Pentagon has added" ("Pentagon Sees a Threat From Online Muckrakers," Stephanie Strom, New York Times, March 17, 2010)

Greenwald also posed the possibility that "the Army will contend that by transmitting classified documents to WikiLeaks for intended publication, Manning 'indirectly' furnished those documents to Al Qaeda and the Taliban by enabling those groups to learn their contents. That would mean that it is a capital offense not only to furnish intelligence specifically and intentionally to actual enemies ... but also to act as a whistle-blower by leaking classified information to a newspaper with the intent that it be published to the world. Logically, if one can 'aid the enemy' even by leaking to WikiLeaks, then one can also be guilty of this crime by leaking to The New York Times."

Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, speaking at a May 25, 2011 press conference in support of Manning, went into the far-ranging implications of prosecuting an alleged leak of information as spying. "It will erect a situation where the collaboration between a source and a journalist is interpreted as a conspiracy to commit crime. And as journalists try to police the national security sector and hold it accountable, the crime will be espionage and conspiracy to commit espionage." For more information, go to the World Can't Wait website at

Bradley Manning, so far, is the only person currently charged in revealing evidence of such crimes, but his associates have been questioned and detained while traveling. Three WikiLeaks associates, including a member of Iceland's parliament who assisted in making the video "Collateral Murder" available, are fighting a court order that Twitter turn over records of their activity to the government. Others accused of being associated with WikiLeaks or Bradley Manning have been subpoenaed to a grand jury.

Presumption of Guilt... & Protest

Intense protest, from within the U.S. and elsewhere, built over six weeks this spring in opposition to how Manning was being punished before trial. Some 400 protesters took the road in front of the Quantico base on March 20—the eighth anniversary of the Iraq war—in protest of Manning being held in solitary confinement, and 30 were arrested.

Law professors Bruce Ackerman and Yochai Benkler demanded that the government end Manning's conditions in Quantico. "Unless and until it does so, there is only one reasonable inference: this pattern of degrading treatment aims either to deter future whistleblowers, or to force Manning to implicate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a conspiracy, or both." 295 professors of law, sociology, philosophy, American studies, and women's studies added their names when the letter was published in the New York Review of Books in April.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, tried to visit Manning, and was denied, saying "I am deeply disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication of the US government with regard to my attempts to visit Mr. Manning." Susan Lee, Director of Amnesty International's Americas Program, said "Such repressive conditions breach the US's obligations to treat detainees with humanity and dignity. We're also concerned that isolation and prolonged cellular confinement, which evidence shows can cause psychological impairment, may undermine Bradley Manning's ability to defend himself." State Department Deputy P.J. Crowley lost his job in March for saying Manning's confinement was "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid."

On April 22, 2011, some Manning supporters staged a surprise protest in the middle of an Obama fundraiser. They videotaped the president claiming Manning was being well treated in prison, and then publicly putting out his verdict before any trial. Obama, supposedly an advocate for rule of law and constitutional rights, said that Manning—who of course has not been tried or convicted of anything in relation to these leaks, "broke the law."

In late April, in the context of the broad, determined and growing protests, the Army moved Manning to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is able to exercise and interact with other pre-trial detainees. He will likely face a preliminary hearing sometime this summer at Fort Belvoir, Maryland, after which he will be formally charged. His military trial could begin in December and run into 2012. A protest outside Fort Leavenworth brought out 250 people June 4. Supporters are planning "Free Brad Manning—Out for Justice!" contingents at gay PRIDE parades around the country this month; and posting thousands of photos and messages on the "I am Bradley Manning" website.

* * *

There are tremendous stakes in the case of Bradley Manning. He was imprisoned under conditions that amounted to torture for nine months. He faces charges that carry the possibility of the death penalty for allegedly releasing video and documents that expose war crimes. The President of the United States has declared he "broke the law" before he has had a trial.

And the persecution of Bradley Manning is an ominous move to shut down anyone or any media outlet that exposes the truth about crimes being committed by the U.S. military, or any other outrage.

Anyone who wants to see truth revealed, war crimes exposed and stopped, and justice done must demand that the persecution of Bradley Manning be ended, his charges dropped, and that he is freed.

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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Paris and London Conferences: Stirring Debate about Lessons and Challenges of the Uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa

Observations from a Correspondent

In the wake of the unprecedented, regime-toppling uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, two conferences titled The Middle East and North Africa—Prospects for Revolution recently took place in Europe. The first was in Paris on May 28, the second in London on May 30. Some 200 people attended altogether.

It is exactly at times of such upsurge as seen in the Arab world that people search for answers to why the world is as it is, and how it can be changed. Igniting hope among many around the world, these uprisings have given heart to all who want to see a radically different one and have dealt a blow to the popular perception that the existing world is eternal.

Meeting an Important Need

The conference organizers represented different political forces and opinions. But they shared a felt need to deeply address critical issues and challenges raised by these recent upsurges. What has actually been achieved, and what must be achieved if the aspirations expressed in these revolts are to be fulfilled? And the conferences were seen as an important occasion for learning more about the complexity of the continuing struggles on the ground and the questions they raise, and interacting with a wider circle of revolutionary-minded and progressive people, both Arab and non-Arab.

In recent months, programs in solidarity with the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have taken place in Europe. This has been important and must continue—and solidarity was an element of the Paris and London conferences.

But some of the organizers were aiming for something more: to stimulate a deeper level of engagement in the face of a major challenge. If these movements are left to follow their spontaneous path, then sooner or later a new version of the old order will be cemented back into place—and the window of hope opened by these struggles will be slammed shut again.

Efforts were made to frame discussion and exchange around critical questions. Is spontaneous revolt alone enough to achieve genuine liberation? What kind of revolution is needed, not only by the peoples of the Arab countries but all of humanity? Can Western-style democracy play a positive role in societies of extreme repressiveness? What about the role of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and North Africa? Is it possible to achieve a revolution outside the framework of Western imperialist domination and the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism? What is the role of communist science and leadership in the kinds of movements and upsurges that have erupted? Can communist revolution truly transform oppressive institutions, oppressive economic and social relationships and antiquated and enslaving ideas and values?

Discussion and Debate in Paris and London

The lineup of speakers in Paris was Salameh Kaileh, a Palestinian Marxist; Adel Thebat, a representative of the Communist Workers Party of Tunisia; Raymond Lotta, political economist and writer for Revolution, newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA; Hassan Chatila, Syrian communist (see interview in AWTWNS110516); Shahrzad Mojab, activist, University of Toronto professor, specialist on women and the Middle East, from Iran. Lotta and Mojab went on to speak at the conference in London.

The London conference featured Nawal al-Saadawi, the well-known Egyptian novelist and feminist activist, whose books include Woman at Point Zero, God Dies by the Nile, and Memoirs from the Women's Prison. Also speaking were Amir Hassanpour, University of Toronto, from Iran; Sami Ramadani, senior lecturer, London Metropolitan University, from Iraq; and Aitemad Muhanna, researcher in gender issues in Gaza, Palestine.

Several speakers analyzed the situation in various countries, pointing out that each has its own particularities, as well as making more generalized comments about the nature and goals of the upsurges. There was discussion of the larger impact these upsurges have had and are having. The U.S.-NATO intervention in Libya was widely condemned. Several speakers drew lessons from the historical experience of communist-led revolutions. At certain points in the conference, there was more direct engagement over differing views and positions. But at other times, the necessary debate over critical questions did not get as sharply focused and systematically pursued as is needed.

At the Paris conference, a representative from the Workers Communist Party of Tunisia (PCOT) described the continuing struggle in Tunisia. He argued at the Paris conference that a revolution had taken place. The task now is to safeguard the gains by getting candidates into positions in parliament and to work to create more democratic space in order to achieve liberation at some time in the future.

This position was sharply contested by Raymond Lotta. He argued that Tunisian society was still ruled by exploiting classes and dominated by imperialism—and that in a period of crisis and upsurge like this, the task is precisely to maximize and accelerate revolutionary preparation towards the seizure of power. To do otherwise is to squander the creative energies and heroic determination of the youth and others who took to the streets.

Hassan Chatila talked about the nature of Syrian society, highlighting the extreme oppressiveness and concentration of wealth, and also described aspects of the struggle against the regime of Bashad Assad. The regime is viciously cracking down on protesters, and leftist forces should be mobilizing and leading—but, Chatila noted, there is a shameful history of much of the organized and official Left supporting the regime.

Women's Emancipation and the Veil

Women made up a large percentage of those attending the conferences. At the London event, the oppression of women was a major focus of discussion.

Shahrzad Mojab spoke from what she described as a revolutionary feminist perspective. She drew out lessons from the experience of the revolutionary upsurge in Iran in 1979 and the consolidation of power by the reactionary mullahs. She pointed out that the imposition of the veil was one of the first and most serious attacks by the mullahs following the overthrow of the Shah. But at the time, progressive forces failed to fully oppose the oppression of women, and to educate and mobilize against the veil. Mojab explained that the attacks and measures against women were not only oppressive in their own right but also key elements of the broader theocratic restructuring of the Iranian state.

One young Muslim woman in the audience insisted that women today are wearing the veil by choice and for moral reasons—in an increasingly decadent society. Some in the audience shared this view. Others argued strenuously that the veil is emblematic of a whole patriarchal system and ideology. Lotta raised that both the burkha and the thong symbolize and concentrate chains of oppression bound up with the enslaving forces of Western imperialism and reactionary Islamic fundamentalism—and that both of these forces and outlooks must be opposed.

Nawal al-Saadawi argued that the idea of the veil as empowering is a form of brainwashing. She also spoke to the oppression of women in the world at large; she said it is an outrage that people in France are not speaking out and rallying against sexual assaults on women after the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French politician and former head of the International Monetary Fund charged with committing a criminal sex act, attempted rape and sexual abuse against a hotel worker in New York City.

There was some debate as well about whether there is a positive side to Islamic fundamentalism, since these forces have some contradictions with imperialism and some are involved in grass-roots organizing.

Democracy, Revolution, Communism

Issues of democracy, revolution, and communism were posed. At the London conference, Sami Ramadani put forth the position that imperialism could not tolerate any kind of democracy in the Arab world, given the Middle East's strategic importance, in terms of resources and geopolitics. Lotta argued that even in Third World countries of strategic importance, imperialism can utilize multiparty elections and constitutional change to re-solidify its domination; and that if there is no revolution that expels imperialism and establishes a new state power and economy, then the military, which represents the local exploiting classes and imperialism, will continue to enforce oppressive economic and social relations.

Several speakers held that parliamentary elections and political rights are the best thing that can be achieved now, and that communism is a 20th century concept, no longer relevant. Others disagreed and spoke to the importance of clearly seeing the need for overthrowing the system and breaking free from capitalist-imperialist global relations and all forms of exploitation and oppression.

Amir Hassanpour spoke of the "daring" of going into the streets, but another kind of "daring" as well: posing a revolutionary alternative to the capitalist world order. He talked about the landmark character of the Soviet and Chinese revolutions. Yet these revolutions were defeated, and there is the task of further developing revolutionary theory. Lotta talked about how Bob Avakian has summed up the lessons of the first wave of socialist revolution of the 20th century—and that this summation and the vision Avakian is bringing forward of a vibrant and dynamic socialism marked by intellectual, artistic, and scientific ferment and pulsing with experimentation, debate, and contestation is crucial to launching a new stage of communist revolution...and to achieving genuine emancipation in today's world.

Nawal al-Saadawi brought direct experience of the upsurge in Egypt into the proceedings. She had taken part in the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square and has been in touch with many young activists. But she brought a wider view to bear as well. She stressed that the system we must get rid of is one that oppresses people through capitalist economics...through all forms of religion...and through patriarchy. She challenged the audience with her conviction that any movement for social change requires a spirit and practice of "dissidence and creativity."

Saadawi and Lotta in Conversation

On June 1, Nawal al-Saadawi and Raymond Lotta engaged in a public conversation at Goldsmiths College of the University of London.

Saadawi elaborated on the conditions in Egypt leading up to the social explosion that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. She and Lotta continued their exchange over the difference between an uprising and a revolution that breaks society out of the grip of imperialism and initiates all-around transformation—and the ways in which U.S. imperialism is still very much in command of Egypt's economy and military. In response to comments from the audience, the two talked about the role of Israel and Zionism in the region, and the unjust, illegitimate, and immoral character of the Israeli settler colonial state. There was discussion of whether Marxism is able to deal with issues of gender. In all, it was a lively, substantive, and respectful exchange—and both speakers expressed a desire to continue their public dialogue.


While the Paris and London conferences did not fully achieve their goals in terms of attendance, and while engagement was uneven over the bigger issues at stake in the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, these events represented a necessary first step and promising beginning. Some key issues and challenges were etched out, and new channels for dialogue and debate were opened.

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Revolution #237, June 26, 2011

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FBI Agents Given Expanded Political Spying Powers

According to media reports and civil liberties activists, the FBI is moving to give its agents even freer rein to conduct political spying in the U.S. The powers given to the agents are in the most recent revision of the FBI's manual, called the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide. The new guidelines allow agents more leeway to do things like comb through household trash, search databases, infiltrate organizations, and deploy surveillance squads in order to "investigate" individuals—all without a shred of evidence that any laws have been broken.

The new surveillance guidelines are an expansion on the previous revisions of the manual in 2008, shortly before Barack Obama came into office. Those changes reflected a major loosening of official restrictions that the government was forced to put on the FBI in the mid-1970s, after widespread exposure of and outrage at COINTELPRO and other spying and repression directed at a wide range of individuals and groups.

Mike German of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) explained that those 2008 changes to the FBI manual "created a new category of investigations called 'assessments.' And these required no factual predicate—in other words, no evidence that anybody had done anything wrong, much less the person who is under investigation. And there are a number of intrusive investigative techniques that were allowed to be used, including physical surveillance, including recruiting and tasking informants, including FBI agents acting in ruse trying to gather information from the subjects of the investigation, conducting interviews, even using grand jury subpoenas to get telephone records." (Democracy Now!, June 14, 2011) As the ACLU noted in 2008, those new guidelines also allowed "a person's race or ethnic background to be used as a factor in opening an investigation, a move the ACLU believes may institute racial profiling as a matter of policy."

Obama Goes Further Than Bush

When Obama became president, he carried over the Bush-era expansion of FBI spying. And now, the FBI under Obama is going even further than they did under Bush:

The FBI "assessments"—which are, to reemphasize, carried out without even a pretense of any factual basis for suspecting actual breaking of laws—are not isolated occurrences. The FBI has reportedly been opening up thousands of such "assessments" each month. The vast majority of those spying actions don't turn up any evidence of crimes, but even in those cases, the personal information collected can be retained in FBI databases.

Police State Repression Casts a Wide Net

The huge expansion of FBI powers and other repressive measures since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon casts a very wide net—targeting all kinds of individuals, groups, and movements the U.S. government considers to be in the way of their agenda. These measures are sweeping in huge sections of the population, like millions of people whose phone and email communications have been spied on by the government's massive electronic eavesdropping program that began under Bush and has continued with Obama. The logic behind this offensive is that the government must be given the ability to snoop into and spy on every detail of people's lives in order to produce information needed to protect their "safety." This is a logic that leads to a police state. It is a logic and morality that winds up being complicit with endless wars, torture, assassinations, and other crimes around the world by the U.S.

Everyone needs to be fully aware of and come to grips with what the expansion of FBI powers and other repressive measures actually means for basic rights and the ability of people to express dissent and take part in political protest and resistance.

Take the case of Scott Crow, a self-described anarchist who has been arrested a dozen times in anti-corporate, animal rights, and other protests but never convicted of anything more serious than trespassing. Using the Freedom of Information Act, he recently obtained 440 pages from his FBI files. Although large sections were blacked out, the documents revealed that Crow had been labeled a "domestic terrorist" and that the FBI has been carrying out intense surveillance on him since 2001. Agents snooped on his phone calls and email; infiltrated groups he was involved in; searched through his trash; asked the IRS to monitor his tax returns; set up a video surveillance camera across from his house, and so on. This is hardly an isolated case. The New York Times wrote that Crow is "among dozens of political activists across the country known to have come under scrutiny from the FBI's increased counterterrorism operations since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Other targets of bureau surveillance ... have included antiwar activists in Pittsburgh, animal rights advocates in Virginia and liberal Roman Catholics in Nebraska." Since these operations are being carried out in secret, there's no way for the public to know just how many such outrageous actions the FBI has actually carried out.

The reality is that the system that exists in the U.S. is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie—the class of exploiters and oppressors who control the economy and the state (the military, police, courts, and laws), and who sit atop a whole worldwide empire. When these capitalist rulers feel their system and their interests are seriously threatened, their state openly uses extreme violence against political opposition—as in the 1960s when soldiers fired at Black people rising up in the inner cities as well as antiwar protesters, and the FBI/police assassinated Black Panthers, among other actions. It is very heavy and serious that right now, even though there is not a situation of upsurges rocking society, the rulers are openly trampling on and rewriting what are supposed to be basic Constitutional rights—such as the ban on "unreasonable searches"—to fortify their repressive machinery.

The fact that up to now there has been no society-wide uproar against the intensifying repressive moves speaks to how far the rulers have been able to go in attacking basic rights and setting up new fascistic norms. Will they be allowed to plow ahead in this extremely dangerous direction? Or will there be increasing opposition and resistance, rising from all corners of society, determined to STOP the government's police state moves?

Part of Major Leaps in Political Repression

The further unleashing of FBI spying is part of overall leaps in repression that began under Bush and has not only continued but is being taken to new levels under Obama. To point out just three examples:

There have been protests against these outrages, but much more resistance is needed and possible against the whole wave of political repression. As Revolution has said in relation to the recent FBI raids, "Revolutionaries and radicals must not only sound the alarm and join in this [resistance], but increasingly show how the interests that drive such repression are imperialist interests, and how the state that must, and does, serve those interests is illegitimate. Only in this way is there a chance to not only defeat this attack, but to begin to build a movement that will stand against an atmosphere and legal system that grows more repressive by the day."


"ACLU Condemns New Guidelines," ACLU. October 3, 2008.

"Domestic Intelligence: New Powers, New Risks," Emily Berman, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law, 2011.

"FBI Agents Get Leeway to Push Privacy Bounds," Charlie Savage, New York Times, June 12, 2011.

"FBI to Expand Domestic Surveillance Powers as Details Emerge of Its Spy Campaign Targeting Activists," Democracy Now! June 14, 2011.

"For Anarchist, Details of Life as F.B.I. Target," Colin Moynihan and Scott Shane, New York Times, May 28, 2011.

Interview with Michael German, WNYC, June 13, 2011

"In the Age of Obama, Criminalizing Political Opposition to U.S. Aggression: And the Raids on FBI Activists," Revolution, October 31, 2010.

"New Developments in Targeting of Activists: Sheriffs and FBI Raid Home of Chicago Activist in Los Angeles," Revolution. June 12, 2011.

"The Secret Sharer," Jane Mayer, The New Yorker. May 23, 2011.

"Senators Say Patriot Act Is Being Misinterpreted," Charlie Savage, New York Times, May 26, 2011.

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