Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party,USA

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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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Brutal Police Assault on Occupy Oakland March

by the Bay Area Revolution Writers Group

On Saturday, January 28, more than 1,000 Occupy Oakland demonstrators staged a march to occupy a city-owned building in downtown Oakland, California that has been vacant for the last six years—and transform it into a community center.

This powerful show of the continuing strength and defiance of the Occupy movement was met and brutally assaulted by hundreds of Oakland police, who repeatedly attacked the protesters, penning them into small spaces and shooting tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds into crowds. Throughout the day, people showed great courage and defiance in the face of these brutal attacks.

By the end of the day more than 400 had been arrested.

The Occupy movement has galvanized tens of thousands to actively confront and challenge the towering inequalities and injustices of this system, and to break open a much needed society-wide debate over why such intolerable conditions exist—and whether and how things can be changed. This is extremely dangerous to those who rule a system based on exploitation and oppression, which creates deep chasms between haves and have-nots, and encourages and rewards passivity, ignorance, and unquestioned obedience. When all this begins to break down—as it has in part thanks to the Occupy movement—it begins to threaten their whole social order, and they can't allow it to continue. This is why—for all their hollow rhetoric about democracy and the "rule of the people," the rulers of this country have moved in a nationally coordinated attempt to violently suppress and co-opt this movement. But so far they haven't succeeded, as Saturday's demonstration showed once again. And this has both inspired millions and scattered seeds of resistance broadly. Now, new and even more brutal attacks are being unleashed. This underscores the importance of people everywhere who have participated in Occupy, as well as those who have supported and been sympathetic to Occupy, to join the struggle to oppose and defeat the attempts by the state to suppress the Occupy movement.

Move-in Day vs. the Police State

The call for the protest from Occupy Oakland read, "Like millions of people in this country, Occupy Oakland has no home. On January 28, Move-in Day, we're going to change that. We're going to occupy a large, vacant building and convert it into a social center...Since November, the city of Oakland and its police force have made it impossible for us to meet, to serve food, and to provide a place for people to stay, in our original home at Oscar Grant Plaza. At the same time, all over the city, thousands of buildings sit empty for the simple reason that they exist to enrich the 1% rather than meet people's needs for space and shelter."

The march was festive as it gathered in the park across from Oakland City Hall—which has been renamed Oscar Grant Plaza after the young Black man shot to death by Oakland cops in 2009. There was a strong sense of community. There was discussion and wrangling, including with revolutionaries taking out Revolution newspaper, BAsics, Bob Avakian's statement, "A Reflection on the 'Occupy' Movement: An Inspiring Beginning...And the Need To Go Further," and the "Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement."

As the march circled the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, the primary site that the Occupy protesters hoped to transform, police attacked, for the first of several times, rushing at the crowd from both sides of the march and firing tear gas and projectiles.

Large cordons of police "kettled" protesters—surrounding and confining them in order to break up the demonstration. An undergraduate student at UC Berkeley told Democracy Now!, "The majority of the arrests happened later that evening when we attempted to march to a backup location and to occupy a backup location. The police kettled the protesters twice. The first time we were kettled at 19th and Telegraph, we were surrounded on all sides and given no option to disperse and were then tear-gassed while in the kettle. And it was only really through the scrappiness and resourcefulness of the protesters that we were able to escape that kettle by tearing down a fence and escaping. The protest was then kettled about 20 minutes later at another intersection. Some people were able to escape over a fence, and a few people were able to escape through the YMCA... But many people did not escape." (Democracy Now!, January 30, 2012)

People bravely defended themselves against the police onslaught. Homemade shields were used to protect demonstrators from being hit by police-fired projectiles. Later in the evening, some of the protesters who had not been arrested entered City Hall. A U.S. flag was burned on the City Hall steps, which is not illegal.

Outrage and Condemnation of Police Attack

A January 30 statement from the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF), which provided legal observers for the protest in Oakland said, "Hundreds were arrested unlawfully, without opportunity to disperse, and then detained for many hours on the street and then in buses, in stress positions, and without bathrooms, food or water. Once in jail, protesters faced inhumanely crowded conditions, abusive treatment and were denied access to legal counsel. Many remain unaccounted for, though certainly arrested and awaiting booking two days after being detained."

NLGSF wrote that they had "received many reports of assaults on protesters, including an incident in which police knocked one person's teeth out with a baton strike to the face. Police reportedly threw others through a glass door, and down a flight of steps. A videographer was pushed to the ground and clubbed."

Their statement continued, "Once in Alameda County custody, the arrestees have been held for a prolonged period under horrendous conditions, often remaining overnight in holding areas with no beds or blankets. Some arrestees were apparently held in a shower room. NLGSF has received many reports of injured persons being denied medical care and arrestees denied access to necessary medications. Women arrestees were forced to give urine samples in front of male officers, ostensibly for pregnancy testing."

One 19-year-old woman was taken to the hospital with internal bleeding after police beat her. Police shot at medics who rushed to the aid of injured protesters.

Students from UC Berkeley told Revolution that they were kept for hours with their hands handcuffed behind their backs and that pepper spray was used against people being held in cells.

At least seven members of the media were arrested including reporters for the San Francisco Chronicle, KGO radio, Mother Jones, the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the East Bay Express. A videographer was shot in the face with a rubber bullet as he attempted to film the police assault.

Orders to stay away from the park that has been the base of Occupy actions in Oakland were issued against 11 protesters, making it, in effect, illegal for them to participate in future Occupy Oakland actions.

A statement from the Occupy Oakland Media Team, issued on January 29, documented numerous ways that the police violated their own rules and policies during the protest by using full baton swings against protesters, firing tear gas and rubber bullets into crowds, and refusing to give protesters an opportunity to disperse.

Part of a Nationwide Attack

The attack in Oakland is part of a nationwide, planned, and systematic unleashing of violence and repression against the Occupy movement. This attack was not just city leaders and police running amuck. It has been revealed, for example, that Oakland's mayor had participated in a conference call with mayors of at least 18 other cities and the Department of Homeland Security prior to a wave of police assaults on Occupy encampments in more than a dozen cities last November, all of which followed a remarkably similar script. And now, as this new attack was coming down in Oakland, authorities were preparing to evict Occupy encampments in other places.

The ideological assaults accompanying the physical assaults on the Occupy movement are also part of a nationwide attack—utilizing major media. Those who are struggling to advance this movement are marginalized, described as not "constructive," ridiculed and demonized.

Why is all this happening? The Occupy movement is playing a very important role in mobilizing people to stand up against injustice and inequality and is contributing in significant ways to changing the atmosphere in a society where millions have watched the coldhearted onslaught of reaction and ached at the lack of any serious opposition. People are lifting their heads, raising and wrangling with big questions about the nature and state of this society and the world—and how to change it. The contention and polarization in society is opening up—with even more potential for sorely needed change. Those who wield power in this country see these protests and these questions as dangerous. And this is why they have come down so viciously on the Occupy movement.

In the face of all this, a significant number of people have refused to back down and are fighting to continue to resist. Across the country there have been seizures of foreclosed homes, the occupation and closing of banks, and a reaching out to allies among different section of the people. The Occupy movement now faces a crossroads. Will it be dispersed, driven into the margins, or co-opted? There is an urgency to many more people, from all over the place, joining the fight against the repression of this movement.

A UC Berkeley student, interviewed on Democracy Now! said, "There was a lot of anger this weekend, and I think that the anger that the protesters showed in the streets this weekend and the fighting back that did take place was reflective of a larger anger in Oakland that is boiling over at the betrayal of the system. I think that people, day by day, are realizing, as the economy gets worse and worse, as unemployment gets worse and worse, as homelessness gets worse and worse, that the economic system, that capitalism in Oakland, is failing us. And people are really angry about that, and they're beginning to fight back. And I think that that's a really inspiring thing."

Another UC Berkeley student spoke to the values of the system on display in the police assault. "We had a big contingent of people who marched in the past and really felt that this was going to be a great community day where we could potentially make a place to study inside this new community building, to bring attention to the displaced people," she told KPFA radio. "This building has not been open for six years. It's not like it was space that was actually being utilized anyway... Private property has taken more importance over helping people who have been displaced by this current crisis." (Flashpoints, January 30, 2012)

After the demonstration, one young revolutionary wrote that there was a spirit of defiance in the streets of Oakland including a section of people who, to a significant degree, have lost their fear of the police and are eager and determined to defend themselves against attack.

The next day, despite not achieving the "move-in" goal, people's spirits were high. A General Assembly called for February 6 to be a day of action against police brutality and arrests, and unanimously voted for a May 1 general strike.

Calls for MORE Repression

It is outrageous that the authorities, police and the media are denouncing protesters as violent, despite numerous videos, available all over the Internet, that clearly show the police repeatedly attacking protesters. And, in the face of this vicious police attack, the authorities are calling for more repression.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders authored an article, written after the police assault, titled, "Let Oakland protesters occupy a county jail cell." Even though police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Occupy protesters three times in the last few months, sending at least two people to hospital intensive care units, Saunders writes "Occupiers do not have to fear that they will be punished..." and asks, "Are there any consequences?"

The day after the protest, in an interview on CBS News, Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente said, "We have been too tolerant of the people that destroy our city." De La Fuente went on to say the protesters were "domestic terrorists" and said that "directions to the police department and our people was to do whatever was necessary to make sure that these people get the message that we will not keep tolerating this."

At a time when the government is passing bills like the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that empowers U.S. armed forces to engage in civilian law enforcement and to selectively suspend due process and habeas corpus, as well as other rights for those the government identifies as terrorists, this kind of labeling is completely unacceptable and must be exposed and taken very seriously.

We Can't Let This Become the New Normal

"Never have I felt so helpless and enraged as I do tonight. These kids are heroes, and the rest of the country needs to open its collective eyes and grab what remains of its civil rights, because they are evaporating, quickly. Do you want to know what a police state looks like?"

-- Cathy Jones, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild in a statement to Occupy Oakland's Media Team

"This police repression is becoming normal.... They want everybody who does not come to a march or go to a General Assembly to be completely afraid of it. They want people to be completely terrified so they call us terrorists."

-- Protester and rapper Shake9169 on KPFA radio

Protesters in other cities rallied to show their support for Occupy Oakland. The Occupy Oakland website listed demonstrations against the police attacks in Oakland that were being held in more than 20 cities including New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Jackson, Mississippi, Des Moines, Iowa and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The New York Times reported that 300 demonstrators marched in New York chanting, "New York is Oakland, Oakland is New York" as they moved through the streets, and that 12 protesters were arrested.

People who care about justice and protecting basic rights need to oppose the brutal suppression of the Occupy movement. We can't accept a situation where tear gas and rubber bullets are called out against people who are mobilizing and demonstrating to fight injustice and, as they do, forging a new sense of community. We cannot allow the suppression of a movement that has challenged the inequality in this country and the world and given hope to millions.

Much more opposition is needed nationwide to take on this repression. "A Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement" states "...if this illegitimate wave of repression is allowed to stand... if the powers-that-be succeed in suppressing or marginalizing this new movement... if people are once again 'penned in'—both literally and symbolically—things will be much worse. THIS SUPPRESSION MUST BE MASSIVELY OPPOSED, AND DEFEATED."

Send us your comments.

Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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STOP the Suppression of the Occupy Movement!

Tuesday, February 28 • Union Square – NEW YORK CITY

4 pm—Gather
5 pm—Rally
6 pm—March

No Rubber Bullets, No Beatings,
No Tear Gas, No Mass Arrests,
Don’t Suppress OWS!

Mobilize your workplace; your school, church, synagogue or mosque; your union, friends and neighborhood.

Contact the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement at

Go to: and join the 700+ who have signed “A Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement”

Now, more than ever, in the wake of Oakland:

...if this illegitimate wave of repression is allowed to stand... if the powers-that-be succeed in suppressing or marginalizing this new movement... if people are once again “penned in”—both literally and symbolically—things will be much worse. THIS SUPPRESSION MUST BE MASSIVELY OPPOSED, AND DEFEATED.

From “A Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement

What you can do:

  1. Widely distribute “A Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement” on the Internet and by leaflet (download at
  2. Raise money for all the materials needed for this mass day of action in New York. Go to to donate.
  3. Make plans for local actions around the country on February 28 and let us know your plans.
  4. Gather lots of signatures to the “Call” including well-known people. Sign at or contact
  5. Post the “Call” on local Occupy websites and spread the word at local General Assemblies and bring a proposal there for endorsement.
  6. Join the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement if you are in New York. Planning meetings are February 9 and 16.
  7. Organize your school, your classes, community groups, legal organizations, artists and musicians, churches, and unions to be in the house February 28 to stand up with the Occupy movement. Come with signs, banners, drums, energy!


Send us your comments.

Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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BAsics Bus Tour Underway!

By the time many of you read this, the BAsics Bus Tour (pilot project) will have hit the road! The tour is part of the campaign to Get BA Everywhere... a campaign aimed at raising big money to project Bob Avakian’s vision and works throughout society.

For two weeks, the BAsics bus—covered with banners advertising BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian—will travel hundreds of miles around California. It aims to introduce tens of thousands of people, from all walks of life, to BAsics and Bob Avakian.

And this pilot tour will accumulate important experience that can be fed into plans for a national bus tour later this year.

“You can’t change the world if you don’t know the BAsics.”

The central focus of the BAsics Bus Tour is broad promotion, distribution and discussion of BAsics itself—selling it on the streets and campuses, and getting it into libraries and bookstores; broadly posting up copies of sharp and controversial quotes from the book, and then holding both organized discussions and street corner debates.

In some areas a welcoming committee will meet the bus as it pulls up. In others, interest and controversy will be sparked by getting BAsics into the hands of numbers of people, creating a buzz and audience as people check out large photo displays depicting the crimes of U.S. imperialism here and around the world—and the struggle against these crimes. And opinions will divide out—some will be hungry to discuss the possibilities to bring a whole new world into being, while others will want to sharply debate or just raise questions about what makes the world a horror today, what it’s going to take to change it, and whether revolution and communism are the way to get there. At every stop, the bus riders will be raising funds to take out BA Everywhere!

And all this will be punctuated by screenings of the DVD of Avakian’s historic talk, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About.

Making the Tour All It Can Be

The tour begins in Los Angeles on February 7. There will be street corner rallies and skits in Pico-Union and Watts, neighborhoods with long histories of resistance to the oppression this system brings down on a daily basis. The highlight of the day is a noon send-off party, with music, speeches and more at Revolution Books/Libros Revolución in Hollywood.

From there the tour heads to Riverside County for two days—site of the University of California at Riverside, which has been the scene of determined resistance to tuition fee hikes and the attacks on the Occupy movement, as well as home to many basic people suffering from rampant police brutality, attacks on immigrants, and some of the worst unemployment and housing foreclosures in the country. And then on to Orange County, one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S. but also one filled with millions of immigrants and the place where Kelly Thomas, a white homeless man, was beaten to death by the police last year, sparking widespread outrage and protest. Interest in the tour is growing—students from one local campus are helping to figure out where the bus should go, both on campus and in off-campus gathering spots; a progressive church is planning a potluck dinner.

From February 13-18 the bus will travel to northern California, including the city of Davis, where university students that were part of the Occupy movement were pepper-sprayed by campus cops (the YouTube video of the brutal attack went viral within hours), and to the Oakland-Berkeley area, where the Occupy movement has been repeatedly attacked by the authorities.

And then the weekend of February 19-21 will be spent in Fresno, home to some of the largest agribusiness operations in the world as well as the huge numbers of impoverished and oppressed immigrants who these conglomerates depend on to plant and harvest the crops. The bus plans to hit a local swap meet, go to areas where youth hang out, and spend a day at the local college campus.

Finally, back to Los Angeles for a celebratory finale and fundraiser at Revolution Books/Libros Revolución.

Be Part of Making This Happen

Readers who want to be a part of the tour, to learn more, or to provide much needed funds for this historic beginning to a national “BA Everywhere” Bus Tour should contact the Los Angeles tour coordinator at Donations for the tour should be sent to:

Revolution Books
5726 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028


Send us your comments.

Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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"Let's Go"—Report from the BAsics Bus Tour

“Let’s Go” was the spirit of the first hours of the BAsics Bus Tour two-week pilot project.  The atmosphere changed as the 30-foot RV rolled out, covered from top to bottom with huge front and back covers of the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian—in Spanish and English—you can’t change the world if you don’t know the BAsics—with the Revolution talk, the online speech by Bob Avakian, on the top of the cab for all oncoming traffic to see....pumping music from a special on-the-road mix CD and “All Played Out” and other audio pieces by BA....and most important, inside were people, of all ages, with the ability to reach out in Spanish and English, filled with the desire to change the world and seeing that getting this book into the hands of many, many people and BA known by thousands more being key to that...and, yes, filled with boxes of the book BAsics and the ability to set up an on-the-spot showing of the film Revolution:  Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About.

Pico Union February 7 BA Bus Tour
February 7, Pico Union, BAsics Bus Tour

The bus’s first destination was the area of Pico Union in Los Angeles, the most densely populated neighborhood of immigrants in the city and the scene last year of days of mass resistance in response to the murder of Manuel Jaminez by the LAPD. As we traveled through the neighborhood, heads turned and people took copies of the special BAsics issue (Revolution #244) and BAsics was sold. On the ground a lot was learned and the whole pilot project nature of this tour—the learning and transforming hourly and daily—took off as people got ready for the next neighborhood, around Revolution Books, which led up to the launch celebration.

At noon, people gathered to launch the tour at Revolution Books. Displays with quotes from BAsics—in Spanish and English—lined the sidewalk and music filled the air. Michael Slate, correspondent for Revolution newspaper and host of the Michael Slate Show on KPFK radio, mc’d a program that featured statements by supporters and people who had decided to ride the bus. People heard a description of the many important destinations along the route: rural areas of the state where there is literal starvation and extreme poverty in the midst of the richest farmlands in the country, in the Central Valley of California; college campuses in outlying areas—UC Davis and UC Riverside where the student movement and Occupy were met with extreme brutality by the state, with Riverside being the “diversity” campus for a rapidly disappearing minority student body in the UC system, a campus situated in one of the most economically devastated counties in California; and Orange County, that quintessential symbol of “suburbia” in this country, where a young man was brutally beaten to death by the police and where the community responded with daily demonstrations.

Pico Union February 7 BA Bus Tour
February 7, Watts, BAsics Bus Tour

Statements of support (see below) were read. And there were statements made by three people who will be on the bus. A young woman talked about the BAsics quote that inspired her...where BA talks about his friend who dedicated his life to finding a cure for cancer...and in that quote he talks about joys in taking on the responsibility of changing the world (6:18).  An incredible skit was performed, based on BA’s spoken-word piece “All Played Out.” And the program ended with comments by Clyde Young of the Revolutionary Communist Party, who talked about the difference it would make for BA to be known everywhere, for BA to become a household word and a point of reference for people looking to how to change the world. Achieving this goal means raising money to project BA’s vision and works into all corners of society.

The program ended with the words “Let’s Go”... Spirits and resolve were high as the bus hit the road... Next stop: Watts....then out of the city...

The BAsics Bus Tour urges Revolution readers to follow the tour on, and on Facebook (friend Basics Bus Tour.) Get your audio downloads, video and blog entries at

And call to find out the many, many ways you can contribute and join the tour at 323-463-3500.

Statements of Support

Alan Diamante, Attorney, Immigration and Nationality Law

There are many revolutions; they are natural occurrences in the history of mankind, a transitional stage in cultural and socio-political systems. BAsics is a compilation of generations of scholarly thought on revolutions; it is thought-provoking and a standard for anyone interested in social change. I support the book tour since BAsics is a fundamental intellectual tool for anyone that wants to be politically and socially active. Moreover, BAsics is a contemporary aid for anyone that wants to read in between the lines of the mainstream media and political rhetoric. In our modern global society, every person should be aware of the history and impact of imperialism and the disparity of social classes. I support the pilot tour and dissemination of BAsics because the empowerment of the public requires basic information.

* * * * *

Statement from Dr. Dennis Loo on the launching of the BAsics bus tour – February 5, 2012.

I was speaking recently with a friend who is close to my age and who is a supporter of the RCP. She pointed out that we were both raised on what Marxism, revolution, socialism, and communism are through Bob Avakian's influence.

She is right about that.

Let me give you an analogy. When I traveled to the South of France on a train a number of years ago and looked out into the countryside, I could not see its gorgeous sun-bathed fields with their fantastic sunflowers without seeing them through the eyes of my favorite artist, Vincent Van Gogh. How we see the world is affected by what we have been exposed to previously. Likewise, I cannot look out into the world in general without being significantly influenced by the insights and philosophical breakthroughs of Bob Avakian. I would not be the person I am today as an intellectual and an activist without his influence.

The world today aches for change, real change, and there are literally billions of people who want to see a different world than this, but who do not know how or even that such a change is even possible. Because of the tyranny of authorities over us collectively, both over our minds and our very physical beings, even imagining a different world is hard for most people in this country and the world today.

Avakian's thorough reading of the experience of people trying to understand and change the world throughout history and specifically his close study of the revolutionary movements of the past and the present are an extraordinary tool in the fight to change the world. I urge you to dig deeply into his works. When you do you will see what I mean.

Dr. Dennis Loo is a Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and an honors graduate from Harvard. He has received national awards in three separate categories: as a journalist, as a scholar, and as an activist. He is the author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society and sits on the Steering Committee of the World Can't Wait.

* * * * *

Paul Von Blum, Senior Lecturer, African American Studies, UCLA

The BAsics Bus Tour adds an important dimension to the national and international mobilization that the Occupy Movement has inspired. In these times of increasing and outrageous disparities of wealth and power, it is vital that all progressive voices are heard. This tour represents a crucial part of the continuing dialogue about the need for truly structural change in America and throughout the world.


Send us your comments.

Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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On the occasion of Black History Month:

We are presenting on these pages a selection of quotes from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian that focus on the oppression of Black people and the fight against that oppression. The struggle against the oppression of Black people is a crucial part of building the movement for revolution, which is aimed at getting rid of all oppression and exploitation and transforming society and the world as a whole.

These quotes from BAsics draw from more than 30 years of work by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. BAsics addresses a wide range of questions on revolution and human emancipation and is a handbook for a new wave of revolutionaries.

DOWNLOAD PDF POSTERS: Front | Inside | Back

from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics

BAsics 1:1
There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.

BAsics 5:5
The “Bible Belt” in the U.S. is also the Lynching Belt.

BAsics 1:12
If you want to talk about who owes whom—if you keep in mind everything the capitalists (as well as the slaveowners) have accumulated through all the labor Black people have carried out in this country and the privileges that have been passed out to people on that basis—there wouldn’t even be a U.S. imperialism as there is today if it weren’t for the exploitation of Black people under this system. Not that the exploitation of Black people is the whole of it—there has been a lot of other people exploited, both in the U.S. and internationally, by this ruling class. But there wouldn’t be a U.S. imperialism in the way there is today if it weren’t for the exploitation of Black people under slavery and then after slavery in the sharecropping system and in the plants and other workplaces in a kind of caste-like oppression in the cities.

BAsics 3:17
People say: “You mean to tell me that these youth running around selling drugs and killing each other, and caught up in all kinds of other stuff, can be a backbone of this revolutionary state power in the future?” Yes—but not as they are now, and not without struggle. They weren’t always selling drugs and killing each other, and the rest of it—and they don’t have to be into all that in the future. Ask yourself: how does it happen that you go from beautiful children to supposedly “irredeemable monsters” in a few years? It’s because of the system, and what it does to people—not because of “unchanging and unchangeable human nature.”

BAsics 5:6
Editor’s note: Here Bob Avakian talks about the 1960s.

Between the anti-war protesters and the war planners in the Pentagon; between the Black Panthers and J. Edgar Hoover; between Black, Latino, Asian, and Native peoples on the one side and the government on the other; between the women who rebelled against their “traditional” roles and the rich old men who ruled the country; between the youth who brought forward new music, in the broadest sense, and the preachers who denounced them as disciples of the devil and despoilers of civilization: the battle lines were sharply drawn. And through the course of those tumultuous times, those who were rebelling against the established order and the dominating relations and traditions increasingly found common cause and powerful unity; they increasingly gained—and deserved—the moral as well as political initiative, while the ruling class dug in and lashed out to defend its rule, but increasingly, and very deservedly, lost moral and political authority.

BAsics 5:17
It is necessary to be boldly saying to people: “We don’t need the church, we don’t need the switch, we don’t need the rod, and, no, we don’t need the gangs and the drugs—we need revolution.”

BAsics 2:6
Let’s talk about work and housing together. Look at all these neighborhoods which under the rule of the capitalist system have been allowed and even encouraged to rot. Look at the youth and others just hanging out on the street corner with nothing to do or no way to do anything that doesn’t get them into one kind of trouble or another. Imagine changing all that because now we have the power over society—we go to these youth and we say, “Here, we’re going to give you training. We’re going to give you education. We’re going to bring you materials. We’re going to enable you to go to work to build some beautiful housing and playgrounds and neighborhoods here for yourself and those who live here.” Imagine if we said to them, you can not just work, you can be part of planning all this, you can be part of figuring out what should be done for the benefit of the people to make this society better and to contribute to making a whole different and radically better world. Imagine if for these youth, they could have a way, not just to make a living, building housing, hospitals, community centers and parks and other things people need, but at the same time, they could have the opportunity and the dignity of working together with people throughout society to build a whole better world. There’s absolutely no reason why these things aren’t possible except that we live under this system which makes them impossible.

BAsics 5:21
Do Black people need to take responsibility? Responsibility for what?

Responsibility for REVOLUTION—DEFINITELY! We all need to take responsibility for making revolution—to emancipate all of humanity from this whole system of oppression.

BAsics 3:34
If you want to know about, and work toward, a different world—and if you want to stand up and fight back against what’s being done to people—this is where you go. You go to this Party, you take up this Party’s newspaper, you get into this Party’s leader and what he’s bringing forward.


Bob Avakian—Leadership For a New Stage of Communist Revolution

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


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

What you have in your hands is a taste of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. This book is a powerful concentration of the work of Bob Avakian, who has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win.

Get into BAsics! This book is for everybody who is straining to understand why the world we live in is the way it is. And it is for everyone who dreams of changing that world. Buy this book... dip into it... go deeper... engage it. And talk about it with other people.

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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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Available Online—Revolution Special Issue

The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System, and the Revolution We Need

“The young man was shot 41 times while reaching for his wallet”... “the 13-year-old was shot dead in mid-afternoon when police mistook his toy gun for a pistol”... “the unarmed young man, shot by police 50 times, died on the morning of his wedding day”... “the young woman, unconscious from having suffered a seizure, was shot 12 times by police standing around her locked car”... “the victim, arrested for disorderly conduct, was tortured and raped with a stick in the back of the station-house by the arresting officers.”

Does it surprise you to know that in each of the above cases the victim was Black?

If you live in the USA, it almost certainly doesn’t.

Think what that means: that without even being told, you knew these victims of police murder and brutality were Black. Those cases—and the thousands more like them that have occurred just in the past few decades—add rivers of tears to an ocean of pain. And they are symptoms of a larger, still deeper problem.

But some today claim that America is a “post-racial society.” They say the “barriers to Black advancement” have been largely overcome. Many go so far as to put the main blame for the severe problems faced by Black people today on...Black people themselves. Others claim that better education, or more traditional families, or religion, or elections will solve things.

So the questions must be sharply posed: what really IS the problem? What is the source of it? And what is the solution?

Originally published in October 2008, this special issue of Revolution newspaper answers those questions. We show how the oppression of Black people has been at the very heart of the fabric and functioning of this country, since its beginning and up to the present time, and what has actually caused these centuries of suffering. We analyze the massive struggles waged against this oppression, showing why, even when they’ve won concessions, their powerful call for justice has been betrayed by the system each time—and what lessons can be drawn for a revolutionary struggle that actually could win liberation. We get into how a revolution could deal with and overcome that oppression, bringing in an entirely different, and far better, system as part of getting to a whole new, emancipated world. We analyze other programs and show how anything short of revolution is a false path and a dead end. And we point to why such a revolution is possible—yes, even in the U.S.—and what must be done to actually prepare for and carry out such a revolution.

Read this special issue online or download PDF of whole issue.


There will never be a revolutionary movement in this country that doesn’t fully unleash and give expression to the sometimes openly expressed, sometimes expressed in partial ways, sometimes expressed in wrong ways, but deeply, deeply felt desire to be rid of these long centuries of oppression [of Black people]. There’s never gonna be a revolution in this country, and there never should be, that doesn’t make that one key foundation of what it’s all about.

BAsics 3:19






Send us your comments.

Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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Ask a Communist

There Are 2.4 Million People in Prison in the U.S.—Why? What Do We DO About It? And How Does the Notion of a "Prison-Industrial Complex" Get This Wrong?

The last 30 years have seen a massive and unprecedented imprisonment of millions of people in this country. To give some idea of this, there are more than eight times as many people in prison today as there were in 1970! This comes out to 2.4 million people (and that doesn't even include the 363,000 immigrants passing through "detention centers"—many of which are worse than prisons—awaiting deportation). In addition, millions more are being indirectly controlled through probation and parole. No other country on the planet even comes close to imprisoning as many people, or as high a percentage of its population.

Almost more than the sheer volume, the most fundamental aspect of this massive imprisonment has been its targeting of Black and Latino people in particular. To give some sense of this, the proportion of Black prisoners relative to whites has more than doubled in the past 40 years; and today Blacks are incarcerated at a rate seven times higher than whites. A 2007 study pointed out that "a young Black male without a high school degree has a 59 percent chance of being imprisoned before his thirty-fifth birthday."1 Today in the U.S., more Black men are in prison, or otherwise caught up in the penal system through probation, etc. than were enslaved in 1860!

Meanwhile, the conditions in prisons have become even worse and more severe—with roughly 50,000 people locked down in ongoing solitary confinement in conditions that international law has condemned as torture!

This program has genocidal elements right now and a definite genocidal direction to it. We have seen in history what happens when whole groups of people, whether through explicitly directed racial laws or just what seem to be "the workings of the system" are removed from society, stigmatized as enemies of "decent PEOPLE," and then warehoused in prisons or prison-like conditions; genocide doesn't have to happen overnight, it can develop in stages. People must not be tricked, misled or intimidated into putting up with this. On the contrary: we need—we urgently need—a massive uncompromising movement that refuses to put up with this and calls into question the very legitimacy of a system that would commit such a crime.

The False Explanation of "Prison-Industrial Complex"

And in fact, there is a growing movement around this. Within this movement, there is debate and struggle over the cause of the problem and solution to this horrific outrage. What is behind the ruination of literally millions of lives, and the shadow that is cast over tens of millions more?

One popular explanation is that this has been driven by a "prison-industrial complex." Angela Davis, the most notable advocate of this explanation, or line, has written that this massive imprisonment arose as a convenient "response of first resort to far too many of the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty."2 Once this happens, she writes, mass imprisonment of people in the oppressed communities "literally become[s] big business."

All this work, which used to be the primary province of government, is now also performed by private corporations, whose links to government in the field of what is euphemistically called "corrections" resonate dangerously with the military industrial complex. The dividends that accrue from investment in the punishment industry, like those that accrue from investment in weapons production, only amount to social destruction. Taking into account the structural similarities and profitability of business-government linkages in the realms of military production and public punishment, the expanding penal system can now be characterized as a "prison industrial complex."3

Other people who hold this view note that these prisons are almost always built in rural areas—yet most of the people locked up in them are from urban areas. These prisoners are counted as residents of those rural areas, even though they aren't allowed to vote there or anywhere else. This shifts influence and resources from those urban areas to the rural sites of those prisons. And finally, some of the people who put forward this explanation, including Davis, link this to what she calls "structural racism in the economy," and the demonization of Black and other peoples of color in the institutions and culture more generally, as well as the whole history of white supremacy. They further say that this so-called prison-industrial complex is directly related to the cuts in welfare, the gutting of education and health care, and other essential needs—and that a movement against this could enable moneys to be spent on those needs instead.

Some of this reveals part of the truth about mass incarceration; once this program was embarked upon, a number of corporations did get their snouts into the trough, and there is now a whole structure of interests that has something of a life of its own and tries to influence things. But much of this is wrong. This program was NOT some kind of misguided or even cynical response to crime nor still less to "the social problems that burden people who are ensconced in poverty." This did not cause the gutting of education, health and housing—nor would the reversal of this whole program (which we must definitely fight for) "free up" money for those needs. (The reason this is so has to do with how the U.S. imperialists view their "options" in a period of extremely intense cut-throat competition with their international rivals. Everything that is not absolutely essential to maintaining and expanding their share of worldwide plunder must be cut; and even the military, which they do see as essential to their share of global plunder, and the prisons themselves, which they view as essential to enforcing order and stability "at home" is coming in for some "surgically done" cuts. This, even as the prisons continue to bulge, overcrowded in ways that recall the slave ships of the "rosy dawn" of capitalism, and the military retains its overwhelming advantage against other powers and oppressed nations in carrying out slaughter and destruction.)

This "prison-industrial complex" paradigm as a whole is badly misleading. It does not portray the problem correctly and because of that it blunts the edge of the needed struggle and it leads down dead ends.

This is so for two big reasons:

One: The massive expansion of imprisonment, directed primarily against Black people and other people of color, has NOT happened because some interest groups saw a way to make money out of it and manipulated the government machinery, using white racism, to do that; nor was it a response in any way to "social problems that burden people ensconced in poverty" (to again use Davis' strangely neutral description). It has mainly gone down because the powers-that-be were profoundly shaken by the 1960s, and in particular the Black liberation struggle and the growth of revolutionary sentiment. To deal with that, they set out on a course to crush the movement for revolution and to prevent it from arising again. To do that, and to also deal with other changes and social dislocations brought about by the functioning of capitalism, they "re-tooled" and reinforced the deep roots of the oppression of Black people, and other minority peoples. The result: a "new Jim Crow"—that is to say, a new and more perverse and dangerous stage of the oppression of Black and other minority people by this system. Because it misses this, or at best de-emphasizes it, the prison-industrial complex line covers over the deep roots of the oppression of Black people in this country, the revolutionary potential of the mass upheaval in the 1960s, and the viciousness of the counterattack by the powers-that-be.

Two: This line portrays, or implies, that the core institutions of the state—the courts, police, prisons, army, bureaucracy and executive power—are neutral, or can at least be used for good. It says, or implies, that the state can be used to serve the oppressed groups as well as the oppressor, as if these oppressed groups could learn how to work the machinery of the system to benefit themselves. In fact, this state machinery—both its tools of violent suppression and its "democratic procedures"—historically developed, and is structured, to serve the interests of the capitalist-imperialist class. It is a bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) dictatorship, serving bourgeois interests. It cannot serve the interests of any other class. To attempt to make it do so will not only not lead to any fundamental change—it will play into the hands of the rulers, and ultimately aid them in their attempts to prevent the development of a movement for revolution among the people and to crush it if it does arise and take root. That doesn't mean that you cannot win any concessions, that doesn't mean that you can't change the way society sees this, that doesn't mean that the masses can't transform their understanding, and it doesn't mean you can't put the ruling class back on its heels politically. All this can happen as a byproduct of determined, relentless mass struggle and sometimes such struggle can be very important and must be waged, both as part of "preparing minds and organizing forces for revolution" and to prevent people from being ground down—as it is now. But such changes will be partial and temporary short of a revolution. And there is plenty of bitter history to prove this. In short, the prison-industrial complex line covers over the real nature of the capitalist state machinery—that is, the prisons, police forces, courts, armies, etc.

There are extremely high stakes to getting both the diagnosis and the cure correct; we use the formulation "genocidal elements and a definite genocidal direction" very seriously. So let's break both of these points down.

Point Number One: Massive Incarceration Comes Out of—and Takes Further—the Systemic Oppression of Black and Other Minority Peoples

In many works published by our Party,4 we show how white supremacy—the oppression of Black people, as well as the genocide against the native American Indian people, the theft of land from Mexico, and many other horrors—has been at the core of America since Day One. This oppression has gone through changes as that system has developed and as people have risen up in struggle against white supremacy. But at every step of the way—even after the Civil War of the 1860s, even after the Black Liberation struggle of the 1960s—instead of doing away with this oppression, the capitalists who actually rule society developed new forms of it.

The movement of the 1960s in particular developed into one with a revolutionary thrust and rocked the system back on its heels. But revolution was not made, and the rulers of this system —the capitalist-imperialists—regrouped and counter-attacked. As a key part of this counterattack, these oppressors developed the program of unprecedented levels of mass incarceration.

This horrific program wasn't the brainchild of a few so-called "special interests." The program of mass incarceration was and is part of a whole multi-level offensive directed from the highest levels and designed to crush revolution and to prevent new revolutionary movements from taking root. The program of mass incarceration was developed by key leaders of the ruling class of imperialists—and it has been maintained and made worse by every top political representative of this system for the past 40 years—beginning with Nixon, and going on through Reagan, Clinton (who presided over the doubling of the prison population and the crippling of legal rights), the two Bushes and, yes, Barack Obama—with his hateful 2008 "Father's Day" speech that puts the blame for this disaster squarely on Black people themselves.

This imperialist counter-revolutionary strategy involved many things, only some of which we can touch on here. Much of the revolutionary organization and leadership of the time were violently repressed, and other forces who called for "working within the system" were built up. Some opportunities were opened up for a minority of Black people and other oppressed nationalities in education, employment, culture and small business, even as conditions were actually made worse for most of those communities. (Then later, these concessions—like affirmative action—also came under attack.) Politicians openly unleashed white racists nationwide as an even more potent and ugly force.

In addition to this conscious policy of the imperialists, and part of the reason for that policy, there were major jolts and developments in the U.S. economy. The economic dynamics of the system—that is, the profit-above-all, expand-or-die, and exploit-to-the-maximum laws of capitalism—had continued to develop. These dynamics led to the elimination of many of the industrial jobs in which Black people had worked in the '40s, '50s and '60s. Factory production was streamlined and shipped from the inner cities to the suburbs or overseas. African-American unemployment in the urban cores went off the charts. In response to this, the ruling capitalists stepped up a policy of penning Black people into the central cities (or in some cases, the older, more rotting out suburbs) and slashing education, health care, and housing—while building up the police and giving them vast new powers and arms.

A key part of all this was the so-called war on drugs. The authorities channeled drugs into the ghettos and barrios as a way to both addict and demoralize the masses AND to provide a pretext for drastically expanding the prison population and police powers and arms. This drug trade also filled the economic void left by the withdrawal of industry. As part of this, a whole dog-eat-dog, look-out-for-number-one, and our-'hood-above-all culture around gangs and "gangsta-ism" was allowed to flourish and then built up.

This in turn was part of a larger ideological offensive (that is, an offensive to shape the way that people think) to not only blame African-American people for the problems of their oppression, but to get Black people to blame themselves. This last point included not only the promotion of Bill Cosby's viciousness, but its reinforcement by Clinton and Obama especially, and it also meant the further building up of the church in the African-American community.

A cornerstone of this offensive in how people think was the ruling class and its puppets saying this: "Black people are equal now. We got rid of those old laws that discriminated. So if people have 'problems'—if they lack an education, or are unemployed, or evicted, or end up in prison—it is the result of 'bad choices' that they made and therefore their own fault." But the reality is this: the old forms of inequality have been replaced by new forms that are deeper and more vicious, precisely because they are masked. Inequality has not been abolished—it has been "retooled," and given an even more deadly, deceiving and destructive new form.

And the rulers launched a major campaign in the political realm, the media, and the educational institutions designed to reverse the real gains that had been made in the '60s: they insisted on this lie that equality had been achieved and that now the problem was that Black people, as well as Latinos, Native Americans, and other oppressed nationalities, were demanding too much and weren't "working hard," and that it was whites who were supposedly being discriminated against. Now, once again, the oppressive conditions—which were growing more intense for the majority of African-American and other oppressed nationality peoples—were blamed on the victims themselves.

To sum up this first point: the heart of the problem is not that some interest groups, drawing on deep-seated racism in the U.S., have used their influence in government to enrich themselves by imprisoning millions of people, and have thereby deprived those communities of needed social services. Yes, that has happened—and it is an ugly testament to how this system plays out. But this is still a description, not a correct diagnosis, and it is a description that leaves out the most important part. The role of racism, which is in fact a central component, is not mainly a question of these interests taking advantage of that racism or even promoting it so as to make profits—no, the role of the massive re-pumping of racist garbage into society is a) much more directly linked to a multi-pronged counter-revolutionary offensive against the legacy of the 1960s and in particular the revolutionary edge of the Black liberation struggle, an offensive that has been launched from the highest levels of the ruling class; b) much more designed to prevent any future upsurge that could conceivably be part of a movement for revolution against the system from happening again; and c) a really insidious campaign to somehow justify the horrendous conditions for African-Americans and to prevent any serious struggle that might develop from gaining allies from other sections of the people. (It is not for nothing that writers or thinkers, some of them attached to the ruling class, have called the minority youth in the urban cores potential social dynamite and have also worried about their influence on the broader culture.)

Nor is the problem that so-called "American democracy" is not living up to its supposed promise. The problem is that "American democracy" has always meant the systemic and systematic oppression of Black and other oppressed nationality peoples; that "American democracy" has always responded to every change and challenge by adopting new forms of this oppression instead of abolishing it; and that now "American democracy" has given this oppression a new, more masked, and more intense and potentially more deadly form.

By making it seem as if this comes from the narrow interests of this or that section of capitalists, the "prison-industrial complex" theory covers over the essential character of the explosion of mass incarceration: that it is a policy decided upon from the highest levels to reinforce the white supremacist foundations of the U.S. empire in a new form. By cutting out the consciously counter-revolutionary character of this offensive, the line of "prison-industrial complex" badly underestimates the depth, the systemic character and the direction of the attack—and it underestimates and covers over the latent potential for a movement for revolution.

Point Number Two: The U.S. State Power Serves, and Can Only Serve, the Capitalist-Imperialist Class; It Cannot Be Reformed to Serve the People, but Must Be Dismantled and Replaced with a New, Revolutionary State Power

This gets to point two: the nature of the state apparatus. In speaking of "the state," we do NOT mean this in the same way that in this country we commonly refer to the different geographic areas that make up the U.S.—for example, the state of Illinois, the state of Georgia, etc. By state, we mean the core institutions of the government—the executive power (the president, the cabinet, and the bureaucracy) and the machinery of force that they wield or embody, which includes the prisons. This is the core because here is where the monopoly on "legitimate armed force and violence" rests—these are the main institutions through which the ruling class exerts its domination of the other classes in society and pursues its interests in the world.

The state is NOT a neutral instrument. It is not a machine that can be wielded equally well by one class or another. The core institutions of this state—the army, the police, the prisons and the courts—were all molded by and developed to serve and ensure a specific form of class rule: capitalism, which has now developed globally into imperialism. U.S. capitalism-imperialism included slavery at its very foundation for its first 90 years (and for 150 years before that, when it was a colony of Britain), outright genocidal war against the native peoples, and the theft of vast stretches of land from Mexico through war—all of which were carried out and defended by the army. This form of class rule has also meant scores of wars, occupations, and military actions against other countries, all of which were in the service of building up or defending a worldwide empire of plunder.5

In regard to prisons in specific, the system of imprisonment in America right down to today has reflected the deep stamp of slavery on U.S. society. (This was convincingly brought home in the Revolution interview with Robert Perkinson, the author of Texas Tough.6) And there are hundreds of examples of how institutions like the prisons, the police, the courts, and the army have been molded to reflect, preserve, and reinforce the values of a class and a system that feeds off the exploitation of billions of people, that oppresses most of the nations and nationalities of the globe as part of that, that is saturated from head to toe with white supremacy, and that subjugates one-half of humanity—women. Beyond the numerous examples in this article, you can read of these every week in this newspaper.

Any attempt to reform such machinery never has and never will change its essential character as the machinery of domination by the capitalist-imperialist class. For all the talk of "democracy," there is no such thing as a democracy above classes; as Bob Avakian has said:

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. (BAsics, 1:22)7

Further: there is no such thing as a democracy that is not also a dictatorship—that does not exercise a monopoly on the use of "legitimate" force and violence against those "whose interests are in significant opposition to, and/or which resist, its rule."8 So long as there are different classes in society, any state will either be a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, with democracy (and dictatorship) that reflects and reinforces the maintenance and expansion of exploitation and oppression... or a dictatorship of the proletariat, with democracy (and dictatorship) which aims to overcome relations of exploitation and oppression and the institutions and ideas which reflect and reinforce those relations and to, eventually, transcend the need for a state itself. What is needed is the latter: a new state power, one which "bases itself on, and proceeds from, the fundamental interests of those most bitterly exploited and oppressed under the [capitalist] system, and the masses of people broadly, and provides the means for them to play an increasingly widening role in the exercise of political power and the functioning of society in accordance with those interests—in order to carry forward the struggle to transform society, with the goal of uprooting and finally eliminating all oppressive and exploitative relations among human beings and the destructive antagonistic conflicts to which these relationships give rise."9

These two lines on the U.S. state—"neutral instrument that can be used by different classes or groups of people" versus "machinery of suppression developed by and able to serve only the ruling class of capitalist-imperialists"—ultimately concentrate two very different roads. The second line gets right to the heart of the problem and accurately shows where mass incarceration comes from: its deep historical roots in the oppression of Black people in this system and the needs of the ruling class today to maintain that oppression in new forms. It shows how mass incarceration was actually part of a whole counter-revolutionary response to the revolutionary upheaval of the 1960s. It shows the way forward in a movement for revolution, unleashing people once more—but this time with a clearer understanding of the problem and solution, and with revolutionary leadership with a vision, strategy, and forms of organization and struggle that can take things to full liberation once the conditions emerge that make that possible. And those who take up this line participate in and build the struggle against mass incarceration, reaching out as broadly as possible, and fighting with relentless determination, as part of building that movement for revolution.

The line of "prison-industrial complex" covers over the real nature of the state and thus keeps people locked on the treadmill of this system. It gets people looking away from how deeply rooted the problem is and how radical the solution really must be, and into thinking that a few reforms can solve the problem. And so it leads people on a road of tinkering with the machinery of oppression, instead of uprooting and dismantling that oppression at its very source. Ultimately it will lead them to get in on, or try to get in on, that machinery. This is the logic of this line; and that logic will assert itself despite the good intentions of many who hold it and put it forward. In sum, this line is not only wrong, if followed it will lead to disaster.

With Angela Davis herself, there is a long history of consciously promoting reforms in opposition to revolution. Despite the fact that she came under heavy and unjust attack by the state back in 1970, her actual role in those times—through the line she struggled for and carried out and the organization that she built—was to work to blunt the more revolutionary expressions of the movement. At a time when the Black Panther Party (BPP) and other forces were actually trying to build a revolutionary movement, she worked to turn people toward a party that posed as communist but in fact worked not to overturn the state but get in on it—the so-called "Communist" Party, USA.10 The "C"PUSA at that time made a concerted effort to turn the BPP away from the path of revolution, and Davis was a big part of that effort. Today she sums up that period in such a way so as to erase the revolutionary content of groups like the Panthers and to merge it together with forces that were actually opposed to the road of revolution and were working for reform, like Martin Luther King.11 (See, for example, "The Two Nations of Black America,"12 an interview with Angela Davis on the PBS TV show Frontline, in which she reduces the struggle between the BPP and the cultural-nationalist trend to whether youth should get involved in "campaigns against police violence" or whether they should "wear African clothes," and says nothing about the revolutionary content of the BPP and its fight for an internationalist position—including its orientation toward revolutionary China at the time of Mao's leadership.)

Today, this line of "prison-industrial complex" takes people's outrage and anger at a crime of imperialism and misdirects them as to its cause. It misleads them down a false path that leaves the source of the problem untouched and imperialism in power. It covers up this essential point: THIS SYSTEM CANNOT AND WILL NOT WORK IN THE INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE AND MUST BE RADICALLY OVERTURNED.

Other people take up this line for different reasons. Some people have not actually heard a revolutionary explanation or have not heard the two different lines compared in a sharp way. Some people sincerely oppose the gross iniquities and horrors of imperialism, but at the same time are drawn to analyses that locate the problem somewhere outside the essential workings of the system itself. They are pulled toward seeing the problem as residing in the powers-that-be violating the rules of the system and the solution being bound up with getting them to follow those rules—as opposed to the cold hard truth that "the rules" themselves (the basic class divisions and social relations of capitalism, and what it requires to function) ARE the problem. Ultimately, this view reflects the position of those in society who are "caught in the middle" between the capitalist-imperialists on top, on the one hand, and those who "catch hell in the hardest ways every day under this system"13 on the other, and whose most fundamental interests can only be resolved by a total revolution.

So, again, this position "in the middle" gives rise to a striving to seek solutions that seek to stand above the fundamental antagonism or conflict, that rend society and that tend to deny the depth of that conflict; but that is impossible—that antagonism defines and conditions everything in society, and must be resolved in either one direction (revolution, leading to emancipation) or another (continued, and intensified, exploitation and oppression). Revolutionaries need to get into this question of the real problem and real solution with people who are drawn to and/or put forward this prison-industrial complex line—as we unite with them at the same time to go forward in struggle together against this outrage.

Right now, the battle against mass incarceration is crucial. There are genocidal elements in this mass incarceration program, and a genocidal dynamic. It is already a human disaster of terrible proportions; if the direction on this is not reversed, it will get far worse. People will and should come into this struggle with all sorts of viewpoints, and it is extremely important to unite all who can be united. This should mean people with many different views as to why this is happening and what to do about it coming together to say NO! And it should and must mean vigorous discussion over, and struggle for clarity about, the real problem and real solution, with revolutionary communists putting forward and fighting for a scientific analysis. Such struggle, on a principled basis, can strengthen unity and sharpen the thrust of a movement—and it is essential to preparing the basis for the struggle for a world where humanity really CAN be emancipated from all relations of exploitation, all the institutions that reflect those relations and keep them going, and all the ideas that grow out of and reinforce that exploitation and oppression.


1. Douglas Massey, Categorically Unequal: The American Stratification System, Russell Sage Foundation, New York, 2007. [back]

2. Angela Davis, "Masked Racism: Reflections on the Prison-Industrial Complex,", September 10, 1998. [back]

3. Here Davis explicitly draws on the formulation of a "military-industrial complex" that was made by none other than a former U.S. president and general, Dwight Eisenhower. This is actually telling: Eisenhower pointed to certain effects of the massive expansion of the U.S. empire after World War 2 and the explosion in spending on the military that went with it NOT to warn against the empire per se nor still less to call for its dismantlement (!), but to warn against certain "unintended effects" of this empire—that some defense industries and the military itself might put their own narrowly perceived interests above that of the empire (our word, not Eisenhower's) overall.  As we'll see, the formulation of a "prison-industrial complex" also looks at certain effects—but, as does Eisenhower's "military-industrial" complex, it leads people away from a true understanding of how the system has required this expansion of state power and makes people think that this can be solved within the terms and framework of this system. [back]

4. Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2008; "The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need," Revolution #144, October 5, 2008. [back]

5. As for the Civil War, in which the army was deployed against the slave-holding class, this took place because slavery had come into conflict with the further expansion of capitalism; and after that war, once the former slave-holding class had been subdued, it was relatively quickly reintegrated into the ruling structures in a different form and the army once again became an instrument of domination against the African-American people. [back]

6. "Revolution Interview—"Robert Perkinson: Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire," #208, July 25, 2010. [back]

7. BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, RCP Publications, 2011. [back]

8. Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal), p. 3. [back]

9. Ibid, p. 2. [back]

10. The full role and scope of the "C"PUSA—which both functioned as an instrument of the imperialist interests of the Soviet Union, which by that point was socialist in name but imperialist in actual essence AND pursued its own reformist, get-in-on-the-system agenda within that—is beyond the scope of this article. As a party, it played a dual role of openly attacking the more advanced expressions of the day—particularly any trends or individuals drawn to the example and line of what was at that point the revolutionary example of China, as it was led by Mao Tse-tung—and also undermining those forces by, in some cases, attempting to unite on unprincipled bases, wielding the influence that they did have in certain sections of the people and institutions of society as a lever in that. This party was revisionist—they claimed to be Marxist (or Marxist-Leninist, in their case), but cut (or revised) the revolutionary heart out of communism. [back]

11. As we've written elsewhere, "Martin Luther King made many sacrifices—and indeed made the ultimate sacrifice—in seeking to bring about what he put forward in his 'I Have a Dream' speech. But, as indicated by that very speech, the outlook of Martin Luther King was precisely one of making America 'live up to its promise,' when that 'promise' has always involved, as one of its most essential elements, first the outright enslavement, and then the continuing oppression of Black people in other horrific forms... And the fact is that, whatever King's intent, the realization of this 'dream' could, at most, apply only to a small percentage of Black people, and would in reality come at the expense of the masses of Black people—and millions, even billions, of other people, here and around the world, who will continue to be preyed upon and to suffer horribly as a result of the workings of this capitalist-imperialist system and its systematic exploitation and merciless oppression, all enforced by its organized machinery of mass murder and destruction.

"Consistent with his outlook, King's program was straight-up one of reform, directly and explicitly in opposition to revolution..." ("The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need," Revolution #144, October 5, 2008) [back]

12. "The Two Nations of Black America: Interview Angela Davis," Frontline, PBS. [back]

13. "A Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party: On the Strategy for Revolution," Revolution #224, February 11, 2011. [back]


Additional Sources:

"Immigration Detention," American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

"Conservatism, Christian Fundamentalism, Liberalism and Paternalism ... Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton ... Not All "Right" But All Wrong!," Bob Avakian, 2007

"Pushing That Personal Responsibility Poison: Obama Sings Lead in the Blame the Poor Choir," Carl Dix, Revolution #138, August 3, 2008

"Why Does the United States Lock Up So Many People?," Karen Franklin, Psychology Today, January 30, 2012

"Hellhole: The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture?," Atul Gawande, New Yorker, March 30, 2009

"The Caging of America: Why do we lock up so many people?," Adam Gopnik, New Yorker January 30, 2012

"1 in 31 U.S. Adults are Behind Bars, on Parole or Probation," Pew Center on the States, March 2, 2009

"Subjective and Objective Indicators of Racial Progress," Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, May 12, 2010

"Prisoners in 2010," U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 15, 2011

"Jail Inmates at Midyear 2010," U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, April 14, 2011


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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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Post-Holiday Yard Sale:

Raising Money for BA Everywhere

This correspondence was sent to Revolution from readers taking up the BA Everywhere campaign. This is the kind of thing lots of people need to be doing and we hope others will write to us about their experiences in taking BA out everywhere in all kinds of creative ways.

As part of the campaign to get BA everywhere in 2012, a group of us decided to hold a post-holiday yard sale to raise money for the BAsics bus tour. XX is the woman who hosted a yard sale in a great location just north of downtown. She said, “Yard sales are good for building community... They’re a lot of work but they can build your group.” This idea of “building community” became an underlying theme in our efforts that brought in close to $600 for the BAsics Bus Tour and getting more copies of BAsics to prisoners.

Having lots of “stuff” is an important part of yard sales. We put out a call for resale items that reached people with many different views on revolution and Bob Avakian’s new thinking on communism, and just what’s possible for humanity. Most of the several truckloads of items that filled XX’s yard came from folks not at all in agreement with BA’s vision. But they have been challenged by the determined efforts of this movement and by new things coming into being. Going through their closets was something they not only could do, but also wanted to do.

On the other hand, there were several “make or break” moments in putting this event together. At each of these points the people who stepped in to make things happen had been engaging Bob Avakian’s thinking, and been impressed by it, especially around questions of democracy—today and in a revolutionary society—and the role of god and religion, and found the plan for a BAsics Bus Tour inspiring.

For example, a couple of Occupy activists drove their truck 25 miles into town to help transport merchandise for the sale. One of their first intros to this movement for revolution was watching the cut from the Revolution talk, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About1, on democracy under capitalism and the election trap, which they really liked. However, not surprisingly, communism is very controversial for them. As the system tries to shut the Occupy movement down, BA’s statement on Occupy and the call to defend it have influenced and challenged this couple and others. It was in this mix that the young woman offered her truck, wanting to contribute to the sale. And in particular, it was after a moment of sharing thinking with friends on some quotes from BAsics, like 2:31 on BA’s proposal for what a truly revolutionary society needs to look like.

A young revolutionary-minded artist recruited her four-year-old son to help make signs, and then posted them all over the neighborhood the night before the sale. She has been looking for ways to contribute in her free moments since having become excited by the diverse thinking and engagement around revolution among people at the BA Everywhere conference. BAsics discussions with her friends and others are another way she’s found to participate.

Several college students we’ve met in the last period staffed the tables, making deals with people who came to buy. When business slacked off for a minute, people made new acquaintances, shared their experiences and got into the controversies and struggles that were compelling them. One youth talked about traveling to China and Ireland, and finding heroic resistance among the people in those countries. A young Black woman was excited to come across BA’s Away With All Gods!, and the point in this book about the slave mentality promoted by religion really struck her as true. She also checked out Not in Our Genes in the used books on sale, and learned something about the struggle taken up by scientists against ways that the powers have tried to twist science to rationalize racism and national oppression.

Everyone was impressed by the mix of people this event brought together. XX got a good vibe from everyone who came and wants to have another yard sale. New plans have taken shape for an art show, building off the possibilities people saw in all the new people and energies that were a part of making this fundraiser an all-around success.


1. The four-disk Revolution talk DVD is available from RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654 for $23, including shipping or at Watch the film online at [back]

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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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A Talk by Carl Dix

Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide! 

Mass Incarceration — Its Source, The Need to Resist Where Things Are Heading and The Revolution We Need!

Carl Dix says, “All this comes down to a slow genocide which could easily accelerate.”

Dix will break all this down and speak to where things are headed if action is not taken. And he will talk about “what kind of revolution is needed to eliminate mass incarceration and all the brutality and misery this capitalist system enforces on humanity once and for all.”

The Riverside Church, Assembly Hall, 490 Riverside Drive, New York

Maude Fife room, Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley

For more information, including sponsors for the events, contact Revolution Books in New York City (212-691-3345) and Berkeley (510-848-1196)

Carl Dix is a longtime revolutionary and a founding member of the Revolutionary Communist Party. In 1970, he was part of the largest mass refusal of U.S. soldiers to go to Vietnam. In 1996, he co-founded the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality. In 2006, he coordinated the Katrina Hearings of the Bush Crimes Commission. Recently he participated in a series of dialogues with Cornel West under the theme: “In the Age of Obama: Police Terror; Incarceration; No Jobs; Mis-Education... What Future for Our Youth?” In 2011, he co-issued a call for a campaign of civil disobedience to STOP “Stop & Frisk.”

Send us your comments.

Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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Everything You've Been Told About Communism Is Wrong:
Capitalism Is a Failure,
Revolution Is the Solution

Editors' Note: Revolution is serializing an important speech given by Raymond Lotta during his national campus speaking tour in 2009-10. This version of the speech, given at Harvard University in April 2010, has been slightly edited and footnotes have been added for publication. Part 1 was printed in Revolution #257, January 29, 2012; Part 2 in #258, February 5, 2012; Part 3 in #259, February 12, 2012; Part 4 in #261, February 26, 2012; Part 5 in #262, March 12, 2012, and Part 6 in #263, March 25, 2012. Below is the final installment.

Part 1

I am very pleased to be at Harvard to speak with you about communism. My talk has five main themes:

I look forward to a vigorous and fruitful exchange in the question-and-answer. So let me start.

Introduction: Institutionalized Ignorance

Imagine a situation in which the Christian fundamentalist creationists have seized power overall, and have proceeded to suppress knowledge of evolution. Imagine that they go so far as to execute and imprison the most prominent scientists and educators who had insisted on teaching evolution and bringing knowledge of this to the public. And they heap scorn and abuse on the well-established fact of evolution, denouncing and ridiculing it as a flawed and dangerous theory which runs counter to well-known "truth" of the biblical creation story and to religious notions of "natural law" and the "divinely ordained order."

To continue the analogy, imagine that in this situation many intellectual "authorities," along with others following in their wake, jump on the bandwagon, saying things like: "it was not only naïve but criminal to believe that evolution was a well-documented scientific theory, and we should not have been forcing that belief on people." And some intellectual authorities make statements like: "But now we can see that it is ‘common wisdom,' which no one questions—and we won't question it either; we can see that it is common wisdom that evolution embodies a worldview and leads to actions that are disastrous for human beings. We were taken in by the arrogant assurance of those who propagated this notion. We can see that everything that exists, or has existed, could not have come into being without the guiding hand of an ‘intelligent designer.'"

To keep with this "thought experiment." Suppose that in this situation, even many progressive and radical intellectuals become disoriented and demoralized. They are cowed into silence.1

Well, this is an analogy to the situation that exists in intellectual life and discourse when it comes to communism. It is now the accepted and unquestioned verdict that communism is a failure. Radical thinkers who at one time took on anti-communist lies and opened their eyes and the eyes of students to the actual and liberating experience of communist revolution—many such progressive scholars have unthinkingly bought into the verdict.

You see, back in the 1960s, the world was alive with revolution. The Chinese revolution inspired people around the world. The most revolutionary and far-reaching movements of the 1960s— whether we are talking about the Black Panthers or radical women's liberation—were influenced by the communist revolution, and especially the Cultural Revolution, in China. And this reacted back on the universities—including right here at Harvard—on how people looked at their lives and the meaning and purpose of intellectual work. But since the defeat of the revolution in China in 1976, for almost 35 years now there has been an unremitting ideological offensive against communist revolution. And this has real consequences.

I know there are people in this room who want to do something meaningful with their lives for the betterment of humanity. Maybe some of you want to devote your energies to solving the environmental emergency we face...or teaching in the inner cities...or going into the arts to explore in the realm of imagination and metaphor the way people are and might be, and the way the world is and might be.

But no matter your passions and convictions, this system has its own logic that shapes everything. I am talking about a system that operates on the basis of profit. I am talking about an economy that is the home base of an empire: a global system of exploitation in which the U.S. arrogates to itself the "right" to wage war and to invade and occupy countries. I am talking about an economic system safeguarded by governing institutions and a military machine of death and destruction. I am talking about the values and ideas that get promoted in this society.

You are someone who knows that radical measures must be taken to reverse looming environmental catastrophe. But what happens—really what doesn't happen in dealing with the environmental emergency, with the Copenhagen summit the most recent glaring example—is driven and circumscribed by the workings of the capitalist world corporate bottom lines...and by the power relations and power struggles between the U.S. and other oppressive great powers.

You want to teach "uncomfortable truths" about America's actual history and role in the world? Well, you should, but you are going to be pressured, threatened, and likely find yourself without a job. You are a woman who wants to break free of convention and stereotype. But you will face a lifetime of menacing gaze, physical threat, and demeaning sexual images that reflect and reinforce enslaving tradition and subordination.

We need a different system. Humanity needs "total revolution": in economy, politics, culture, and morality. And the fact is: we can create a world without exploitation, in which humanity can flourish. But, and this is a cruel irony, exactly at a time when capitalism is in crisis, when all its irrationality and the suffering it inflicts are escalating exponentially—at this very moment, we're told "you can't go beyond capitalism; the best you can do is to tinker around its edges."

It is as though a warning label were affixed to the discourse on human possibility. Danger: anything that fundamentally challenges capitalism is at best a pipe dream and at worst an unworkable utopia imposed from above that will result in nightmare. Caution: the project of making revolution and building an economy and society that promote and serve the common good violates human nature, economic logic, and the very flow of history. Reminder: we have reached the end of history: Western society represents the high point and end point of human development.

At UCLA, NYU, and the University of Chicago, we distributed this multiple-choice "pop quiz" on basic facts about communism. These weren't obscure or arcane things. We asked questions like: what was the only country in Eastern Europe during the 1930s that stood against anti-semitism? The answer is the Soviet Union.2 We asked: what was the only country in the world in the 1960s where the government and leadership were calling on people to rise up against oppressive institutional authority? The answer was Maoist China.3 People did abysmally—the average test score was about 58. In other words, people failed.

This is shameful. Because in the 20th century, something world-historic happened and people don't know the first thing about it. The first socialist societies were forged out of monumental revolutions, the rising up of the wretched of the Earth: in the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1956, and in China from 1949 to 1976. These were the first attempts in modern history to create societies free from exploitation and oppression—socialism. And the experience of these changes everything. The world does not have to be this way, and we can go further and do better in a new wave of revolution.

Socialism and Communism Explained

So what is socialism? Let's clear away some confusion. Socialism is not just government ownership of some enterprises or some government regulation—all capitalist governments do that. And socialism is not something that Obama is doing—Obama is no socialist.

In fact, socialism is three things:

First, socialism is a new form of political power in which the formerly oppressed and exploited, in alliance with the middle classes and professionals and the great majority of society, rule over society with the leadership of a visionary, vanguard party. This new form of state power keeps old and new exploiters in check. It makes possible a democracy that a) unleashes the creativity and initiative of people in all kinds of directions and b) gives the masses of people the right and ability to change the world and to engage in meaningful decision-making, that promotes the most far-reaching debate, and that protects the rights of the individual. This new socialist state that I am talking about is a launching pad for revolution elsewhere in the world.

Second, socialism is a new economic system where the resources and productive capacities of society are socially owned through the coordination of the socialist state, where production is consciously organized and planned to meet social need, and to overcome the inequalities of capitalist class society—like the oppression of minority nationalities and the subordination of women. This is an economy that is organized to promote revolution in the world and protect the planet. No longer does exploitation and profit rule over society and people's lives. No longer are Big Pharma and financial-insurance conglomerates setting the terms for health care provision and research. They won't exist anymore. No longer is there a General Motors or Boeing—they too won't exist anymore, either—skewing transport development and energy production to the needs of profit.

Third, socialism is a historical period of transition, between capitalism and communism, a period of revolutionary struggle and experimentation to transform all the economic structures, all the social institutions and arrangements, and all the ideas and values that perpetuate the division of society into classes.

And what is communism? Here I want to read from a statement, "The Revolution We Need... The Leadership We Have," from the Revolutionary Communist Party:

Communism [is] a world where people work and struggle for the common good.... Where everyone contributes whatever they can to society and gets back what they need to live a life worthy of human beings... Where there are no more divisions among people in which some rule over and oppress others, robbing them not only of the means to a decent life but also of knowledge and a means for really understanding, and acting to change, the world.4

Now the Russian and Chinese revolutions, in what amounted to a "nanosecond" of human history, accomplished amazing things in the direction I am describing. Not without problems and serious shortcomings...but these revolutions accomplished great things against great odds during their existence.

Why were the odds so great? For one thing, the imperialists worked overtime to crush these revolutions. The socialist revolutions of the 20th century posed a mortal (and, yes, a moral) threat to the established global order of exploitation, privilege, and inequality. They opened new possibilities for humanity and new roads for realizing these possibilities.

But the imperialists didn't say to Lenin or Mao: "Oh, you want to try to create a new society based on cooperation, you want to create a planned economy based on putting human needs first, you want to solve your health and education problems, and you are going to attempt to enable those on the bottom of society to increasingly administer it. Okay, why don't you try that for twenty years? Then come back and we'll compare notes? We'll see whose system does better."

No! The capitalist-imperialist powers encircled, pressured, and sought to strangle these revolutions. Within months of the victory of the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917, France, England, Japan, the U.S., and thirteen other powers sent money, weapons, and troops to aid counterrevolutionary forces in Russia who were trying to restore the old order of exploitation, religious obscurantism.

How many of you know that the world's first oil embargo was applied against the Soviet revolution? How many of you know that during the entire time between 1917 and 1950, the new socialist society of the Soviet Union was either preparing for war, or having to fight war, or dressing the wounds of war?

Or consider the circumstances facing the Chinese revolution after it came to power in 1949. Within a year, U.S. troops were moving up the Korean peninsula and threatening to invade China itself. How many of you know that in the early 1950s, the U.S. imperialists issued veiled nuclear threats, and developed military plans for launching nuclear strikes, against the new People's Republic of China?5 This is real history.

It was in these historical circumstances that millions in the Soviet Union and China made revolution and brought about profound changes in their conditions and in their thinking. And another reason they faced great odds was the fact that these revolutions did not unfold in vacuums. They took place, as will future revolutions, in societies that still contained the scars and influences of the old social order, including class divisions along with the ideas and traditions of the past. This too is part of the reality and challenge of making revolution.

Is that what you have been learning about 20th century history? Did you learn that in the 1920s, when Black people were being lynched in the U.S., when the racist film extolling the KKK, Birth of a Nation, was one of the biggest things in American culture—did you learn that in the Soviet Union something utterly different was happening? At this very time in the Soviet Union, incredible efforts were being made to overcome inequality among nationalities.

The new socialist society was waging struggle against the historical chauvinism of the dominant Russian nationality. Economic and technical resources were being channeled to regions where minority nationalities were concentrated. The new Soviet state established autonomous forms of government in these regions, enabling people in these areas to take responsibility for administration. It promoted the equality of languages and even developed written scripts for languages that previously had none.6

This was an amazing sea change. You see, before the Bolshevik revolution Russia had been known as the "prison-house of nations," with infamous pogroms against Jews, and the domination of whole nations. It was a society where, before the revolution, people of certain minority nationalities were forbidden from using their native languages in schools.

Most of you don't know this because that knowledge has been ruled out of order in the academy and society. You are surrounded by and imbibing the master narrative that nothing good came of these revolutions—and that they failed and could only fail.

Part 2: Lies and the Methods Behind the Lies

There is one small problem with this "conventional wisdom" about communism. It is built on the wholesale distortion of the actual history of socialist revolution; it is built on outright lies.

You know, I have to say it is amazing what passes as intellectual rigor when it comes to communism. And sadly, it's amazing what gets over on people who pride themselves on intellectual scrupulousness.

I want to deconstruct three typical high profile and highly charged examples of what I am talking about.

Chang/Halliday Totally Twist the Meaning of Mao's Words

Let's start with the book Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. This has been hailed in the mainstream as the definitive biography of Mao Tsetung. It was on the New York Times bestseller list. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday want you to believe that Mao was a cynical hedonist who murdered ten times as many innocents as Hitler. They insist that Mao was a cold-blooded murderer—but since they can't substantiate that with facts, their book is strewn with lies and distortions.

Let's go to Chapter 40 of the book. It deals with the year 1958. It has this running head on each page: "The Great Leap: 'Half of China May Well Have to Die.'"7 You see, Chang and Halliday quote from a November 1958 speech by Mao in which he says: "half of China may well have to die."

They cite this as proof-positive that Mao had no concern for human life: let half of China die to fulfill a crazed vision of a new society. But if you read Mao's speech, he is actually saying the opposite:

"In the construction of irrigation works, between last winter and this spring we moved, nationwide, over 50 billion cubic meters of earth and stone, but from this winter to next spring we want to move 190 billion cubic meters nationwide, an increase of well over three times. Then we have to deal with all sorts of tasks: steel, copper, aluminum, coal, transport, the processing industries, the chemical industry—[they all] need hordes of people. In this kind of situation, I think if we do [all these things simultaneously] half of China's population unquestionably will die; and if it's not a half, it'll be a third or ten percent, a death toll of 50 million people.... Anhui wants to do so many things, it's quite all right to do a lot, but make it a principle to have no deaths."8

Mao is pointing out that the economic plan is trying to do too many major things at once, and if we stick to the plan, well..."half of China's population unquestionably will die"—and we don't want that! He's cautioning against overzealousness—that it could lead to overwork, exhaustion, and deaths—and he's doing this in a highly dramatic way.

So Chang and Halliday have totally ripped Mao's phrase out of context and inverted its meaning. They've lied. That would be bad enough. But this lie gets repeated in reviews, in newspapers, and in blogs. It spreads and becomes so frequently cited that it becomes an established fact. So no one has to prove anything. Case closed: Mao was worse than Hitler. This is incredibly dishonest and vicious. And yet it passes for scholarship.

MacFarquhar's Shoddy Scholarship Annointed as Truth

Let me turn to a prestigious academic source with a veneer of scholarly rigor. I'm talking about the book Mao's Last Revolution, by Roderick MacFarquhar, the highly celebrated China scholar here at Harvard, and Michael Schoenhals. This book was published in 2006 and is widely considered to be the "definitive" account of the Cultural Revolution.

MacFarquhar sets the stage for Mao's launching of the Cultural Revolution. Here's how MacFarquhar does it: "Various remarks indicate that Mao craved a measure of catalytic terror to jump start the Cultural Revolution. He had no scruples about the taking of human life. In a conversation with trusties later in the Cultural Revolution, the Chairman went so far as to suggest that the sign of a true revolutionary was precisely his intense desire to kill." And then MacFarquhar presents this alleged statement from Mao: "This man Hitler was even more ferocious. The more ferocious the better, don't you think? The more people you kill, the more revolutionary you are."9

Well, this is a pretty sordid declaration. So I went to the notes and sources at the end of the book, and let me tell you what the endnote says: "From a very reliable source seen by one of the authors."10 Can you believe this! Here you are supposedly citing evidence for the bloodlust that ostensibly drove Mao and the Cultural Revolution. And this is the documentation that MacFarquhar offers? Stop and think about this intellectual outrage. People are given proof that Mao was a monster based on totally unsubstantiated and unsubstantiable hearsay.

It's egregious. The classic "trust me, I can't give you the speech, conversation, or article... but trust me, it's reliable." Kind of reminiscent of George Bush going to war in Iraq: "Look, Sadaam Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction. I can't share the evidence, but trust me, my sources are reliable." This hearsay masquerades as something solid and damning.

And then this statement, without any meaningful or provable attribution to Mao, or any meaningful context being specified, gets repeated in the mainstream media and by other lords of academia. Andrew Nathan, a well-known, liberal China scholar who teaches at Columbia includes the statement attributed to Mao in his review of the book in The New Republic.11 I tracked Nathan's review, and it got posted on different blogs and book review sites.

Now suppose one of you in the audience is trying to learn about the Cultural Revolution and you go to Wikipedia. Well, lo and behold, in the entry on the Cultural Revolution, you will find the following statement from Mao Tsetung, presented as part of Mao's guidance for the Cultural Revolution: "the more people you kill the more revolutionary you are." And what is the source? You guessed it, Roderick MacFarquhar, that grey eminence of China studies.12

My question is this: why didn't these other scholars scrutinize this footnote, instead of repeating this sensationalistic claim about Mao? Because they don't have to prove anything: the communist project is declared to be a disaster and horror. And many of these and other so-called scholars have been part of weaving together a narrative of the Bolshevik and Chinese revolutions built on similar distortions and misrepresentations of what these revolutions set out to do, what these socialist societies actually accomplished, and what real difficulties and challenges they faced.

I've issued a public challenge to Roderick MacFarquhar to debate me (my challenge mentions this footnote)—and organizers of my speaking tour turned this into a paid ad and submitted it to the Harvard Crimson last week.13 But guess what? The president of the Crimson refused to publish the ad, saying it was "too controversial." Duh!

Where are the progressive scholars? Why are they not calling this out? Because many of them have bought into these verdicts, in an atmosphere of unrelenting attack on the communist project—while others have been intimidated by the conventional wisdom and what have become the norms of intellectual discourse: before one can even speak of socialism, even positively, one has to disavow the experience of socialist revolution in the 20th century.

Naomi Klein Joins In

Indeed, these anticommunist distortions deeply permeate progressive political thought. Take the activist and social critic Naomi Klein. Here I am drawing on analysis by Bob Avakian that appeared in Revolution newspaper.14 In the early pages of her book The Shock Doctrine, Klein describes the situation in the U.S. after 9/11, and how the Bush administration exploited this.

Klein writes, "Suddenly we found ourselves living in a kind of Year Zero, in which everything we knew of the world before could now be dismissed as 'pre-911 thinking.'" And she is right about this. But then she draws this analogy: "Never strong in our knowledge of history, North Americans had become a blank slate—a 'clean sheet of paper' on which the 'newest and most beautiful words can be written,' as Mao said of his people."15 Klein is actually referencing a short essay by Mao from 1958 titled "Introducing a Cooperative." But she totally rips this passage out of context to make it appear that this was about mind control of the untutored masses by totalitarian leaders.

Let's look at what Mao actually said:

 "Apart from their other characteristics, the outstanding thing about China's 600 million people is that they are 'poor and blank.' This may seem a bad thing, but reality it is a good thing. Poverty gives rise to the desire for change, the desire for action and the desire for revolution. On a blank sheet of paper free from any mark, the freshest and the most beautiful characters can be written, the freshest and most beautiful pictures can be painted."16 And then Mao goes on to point out that the masses are in fact using big-character posters in the cities and rural areas to conduct mass debate and ideological struggle—and he says this is a great antidote to "dullness" in society.

In other words, Mao was not saying, "oh great, the peasants are just a bunch of putty and we leaders can shape them however we please." He is saying the opposite of what Klein suggests. He is saying that being "poor and blank" results in people not only wanting radical change but being capable of taking initiative to fight for that radical change. And it is clear, if you read this essay, that Mao is saying the "freshest and most beautiful characters" and "freshest and most beautiful pictures" are being written and painted by the peasants themselves—and, yes, this is happening with communist leadership.

At the start of the essay, Mao observes: "Never before have the masses of the people been so inspired, so militant, and so daring as at present." "Inspired," "militant," and "daring": not exactly the world that George Bush or Barack Obama wants us to live in! Nor the stereotype that Klein implies of communist leaders turning people into mindless robots.

So here we have three different examples of high-profile lies and distortions being spread that reinforce ignorance about communism: from the reactionaries who wrote Mao: The Unknown Story; the liberal anti-communist Roderick MacFarquhar's Mao's Last Revolution; and the progressive social critic Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine. As I have been emphasizing, the effects of this cannot be overestimated: the lowering of sights, a generation of young people being robbed of understanding.

Part 3: The Cultural Revolution in China: What It Was Really About

In the rest of this talk, I will be drawing on Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party.17 This Manifesto sums up the history of communist revolution so far, its breakthroughs and lessons. It explains how communism has developed as a living, creative, open-ended science, beginning with Marx, through Lenin, to Mao, and Bob Avakian. This Manifesto provides a framework to initiate a new stage of communist revolution. And let me add that you cannot say that you are educated and up to date on emancipatory human thought if you have not yet read this Manifesto.

Now one of the things we hear so often in discussing communism with students is this: "well, it might be a good idea, but it doesn't work in practice." I want to answer this, precisely by returning to the Cultural Revolution and getting into what it was about and accomplished.

Some Historical Background

The Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 was the high point of socialist revolution in the 20th century and the whole first stage of communist revolution, beginning with the Paris Commune. The Cultural Revolution was the most radical and far-reaching struggle in human history to uproot exploitation and oppression and to change society and bring about new values and new ways of thinking.18

But the bourgeois "master narrative" is that the Cultural Revolution was Mao's power-mad and vindictive purge of opponents: an orgy of senseless violence and mass persecution that plunged China into a decade of chaos. There is not a scintilla of truth to this narrative. But before I take it on directly, I want to set the stage for the Cultural Revolution by talking a bit about Chinese society before the revolution of 1949.

The vast majority of China's people were peasants who worked the land, but who had little or no land to call their own. They lived under the dominance of landlords who ruled the local economy and people's lives. Peasants desperately scratched out survival. In bad years, many had to eat leaves and bark, and it was not uncommon for peasant households to sell children to meet debt obligations. Agriculture was plagued by endless cycles of floods and droughts and famine. For women, life was a living hell: beatings by husbands, the painful binding of feet, arranged marriages, and young women forced into becoming concubines to landlords and warlords.

In China's largest city, Shanghai, an estimated 25,000 dead bodies were collected from the streets each year by municipal sanitation teams. Meanwhile, foreign-controlled districts of the city glittered. In a country of 500 million, there were only 12,000 doctors trained in modern medicine, and 4 million people died each year of epidemic and infectious diseases.19

This is why people make revolution. This is why millions in China consciously took part in the struggle led by Mao to seize state power and to create a new society.

Standard Distortions of the Cultural Revolution

Distortion One: So-called China experts like Roderick MacFarquhar talk about Mao's obsession with revolution, combating revisionism, and preventing counterrevolution, as though Mao were imagining or contriving enemies to suit his political whims.

The truth is that the revolution of 1949 overthrew foreign domination, big capitalism, and landlordism. But right from the start, there were leading forces in this revolution whose vision of society went no further than to turn China into a major industrial power that would take its place in the world economy and international nation-state system. These forces became a new capitalist class centered within the Chinese Communist Party and state, and by the mid-1960s, they were positioning to take power. Their leaders, like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, had coherent aims and a coherent program for China: to put an end to socialism, to reinstitute exploitation in the name of efficiency, and to open China up to foreign capital in the name of engaging with the modern world. This is why Mao was warning against revisionism, which is a capitalist program and world outlook expressed in Marxist terminology. 

Distortion Two: Bourgeois accounts depict the Cultural Revolution as Mao's horrific attempt to whip people into mass frenzy.

The truth is that the Cultural Revolution was a mass revolutionary upheaval involving hundreds of millions of people in profound and intense struggle over the direction of society:

Would socialist China go forward along the socialist road to communism: to a world community of humanity without classes, where all forms of exploitation and social inequality have been overcome, where men no longer lord it over women, where there are no longer dominant nations and dominated nations and the world itself is no longer divided into nations, where the division of society into those who mainly work with their hands and those who mainly work in the realm of ideas is overcome, where there is no longer a need for a state to enforce the rule of one group of society over another?

Or would socialist China take the capitalist road back to sweatshops and exploitation, to the crowding of the cities with migrants desperately in search of work, to the subordination of women and the reemergence of prostitution and the objectification of women—in short, would China become...the China of today?

Distortion Three: The bourgeois narrative of the Cultural Revolution talks about Mao's "disastrous enactment of utopian fantasies."

The truth is that Mao and the revolutionaries who led the Cultural Revolution had coherent and visionary aims. What were these aims?

*To mobilize people in society to overthrow these new capitalist forces and to revolutionize the Communist Party itself.

*To reinvigorate the revolution by subjecting every level of authority and governance to mass criticism and questioning.

*To promote socialist values of "serve the people" and putting the interests of world humanity first and challenging the capitalist morality of maximizing self-gain and self-enrichment as well as the Confucian mind-set of bowing down to authority and convention.

*To reshape and revolutionize the institutions and fabric of society: a) to create an educational system that, instead of producing a privileged elite, was actually contributing to raising the knowledge and skills of society and overcoming the great divisions of society; b) to forge a new revolutionary culture, like the model revolutionary works in opera and ballet that put new emphasis on workers and peasants and their resistance to oppression (in place of the old imperial court dramas) and that conveyed powerful images of strong and independent revolutionary women; c) to create new base-level institutions within factories, schools, and hospitals that truly empowered people.

These were crucial goals of the Cultural Revolution; this was not "crazed utopianism."

A Real Revolution

Let's be clear, the Cultural Revolution was a real revolution. It was disruptive of the routine of normal life; it was full of invention and innovation; inspiring tens of millions but also shocking and disturbing tens of millions at its outset. The schools shut down; youth went to the countryside to link up with peasants, students from Beijing went to Shanghai to stir up protest in the factories, workers were encouraged to raise their heads and ask: "who's really in charge here?" This became very wild. There was massive political and intellectual debate: street rallies, protests, strikes, demonstrations, what were called "big character posters," which contained comments and critiques on policies and leaders. Paper and ink were provided free of charge, public facilities were made available for meetings and debates.20

This was about changing society and changing the world in an ever more conscious way. There has never, never in world history, been a revolutionary movement of this scale and consciousness. Mao looked to the youth as a catalytic force to awaken and arouse society. In Beijing, over 900 newspapers were circulating in 1966-67.

In Shanghai in the autumn of 1966, there were some 700 organizations in the factories. Eventually, the revolutionary workers, with Maoist leadership, were able to unite broad sections of the city's population to overthrow the capitalist-roaders who had been running the city. And what followed was extraordinary: people began to experiment with new institutions of citywide political governance; and the Maoist leadership was able to learn from and sum up this experience and these debates.21 In the countryside, peasants were debating how Confucian values and patriarchy still influenced people's lives.

What About Violence?

Standard Western accounts charge that violent attacks on people and physical elimination of opponents had the official blessings of Mao—and that, policy or not, thuggish violence was the norm. Both of these claims are false.

Mao's orientation for the Cultural Revolution was clearly spelled out in official and widely publicized documents. In the Sixteen Point Decision that guided the Cultural Revolution, it was stated, "Where there is debate, it should be conducted by reasoning and not by force."22 Yes, there was violence during the Cultural Revolution. But: a) this was not the main character of the Cultural Revolution—its main forms of struggle were mass debate, mass political mobilization, and mass criticism; b) where young activist Red Guards and others resorted to violence, this was sharply condemned and struggled against by the Maoist revolutionary leadership—for instance, in Beijing, workers following Mao's guidance went into the universities to stop factional fighting among students and to help them sort out differences; and c) much of the violence that occurred during the Cultural Revolution was actually fanned by high-ranking capitalist-roaders seeking to defend their entrenched positions.

This Sixteen-Point Decision was not some narrowly circulated inner-party directive that has somehow escaped the notice of our brilliant academic scholars. It was, in fact, put out to all of China as guidance as to the aims, objectives, and methods of this revolution!

Real and Unprecedented Accomplishments

The Cultural Revolution accomplished amazing and unprecedented things.

*We're told that Mao was anti-education and anti-intellectual. It's a lie.

How many of you know that during the Cultural Revolution middle-school enrollment in the countryside rose from 14 to 58 million?23 Or that worker and peasant enrollment in the universities soared? The reason Mao is branded "anti-education" is that the Cultural Revolution challenged the bourgeois-elitist idea that education is a ladder for individuals to "get ahead," or a way to use skills and knowledge to gain advantageous position over others.

This was not anti-intellectualism, but rather a question of putting knowledge in the service of a society that was breaking down social inequalities. The old curriculum was overhauled in the universities. Study was combined with productive labor. The old teaching methods of viewing students as passive receptacles of knowledge and teachers and instructors as absolute authorities were criticized.

*We're told Mao did not care about human life. It's a lie.

China, a relatively backward country, achieved something that the richest country in the world, the U.S., has not been able to do: provide universal health care. As a result of the Cultural Revolution, a health system was established that reached and addressed the needs of China's peasants in the countryside who made up 80 percent of China's population.

In a little more than a decade after the seizure of power in 1949, the revolution was able to overcome epidemic diseases like small pox and cholera. Mass campaigns were launched to tackle opium addiction.24 And along with mass mobilization, there was mass education. This was a very important and defining feature of health care in socialist China: to maximize community participation and grass roots awareness and responsibility over health issues and concerns. There was both centralized allocation of needed health resources and a tremendous amount of decentralization.25

One of the most exciting developments of the Cultural Revolution was what was called the "barefoot doctor" movement. These were young peasants and urban youth sent to the countryside who were quickly trained in basic health care and medicine geared to meet local needs and who were capable of treating the most common illnesses. In 1975, there were 1.3 million of these "barefoot doctors."26

The results were astounding. Life expectancy under Mao doubled from 32 years in 1949 to 65 years in 1976.27 Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, made a calculation: if India had the same heath care system as China did under Mao, then 4 million fewer people would have died in India in a given sample year. That works out to a total of some 100 million needless deaths in India from the time of independence in 1947 to 1979.28

Tell me about which economic-social system values human life...and which doesn't.

Part 4: Human Nature Can Change

Now people say that communism can’t work because it goes against human nature...that people are selfish and will only look out for themselves...that people won’t have any incentive to work if they’re not allowed to compete to get ahead of others. These are not scientific statements about an unchanging human nature. They are statements about human nature under capitalism, about how people are conditioned to think and act in THIS society.

Capitalism produces and requires a certain mind-set: me-first, winner-take-all, greed is good. And this outlook and these values stamp everything, every institution and every relation in society. People have to compete for jobs, for housing, for places in the educational system. They even have to compete and perfect themselves in the “marketplace” of human relationships. Is it any surprise, then, that people are indifferent, callous, and even cruel to each other in such a society?

This is what socialism, what socialist revolution, changes. It opens up a whole new realm of freedom for people to change their circumstances and their thinking. This is what happened during the Cultural Revolution.

In China during the Cultural Revolution, there was an economic system based on using resources for the benefit of society and the world revolution. There were new social relations and institutions that enabled people to cooperate with each other and to maximize the contributions that people can make towards a liberating society and the emancipation of humanity. The educational system promoted values of serving the people, using knowledge not for individual self-aggrandizement but for the betterment of society and humanity. During the Cultural Revolution, people were measuring their lives and the actions of others through the moral lens of “serve the people.”

You can read interviews and books by scholars like Dongping Han, Bai Di, and Mobo Gao. These authors grew up during the Cultural Revolution and took part in it—and they write about what it was like coming of age in the social environment of the Cultural Revolution, what it meant for there to be a social framework that valued cooperation and solidarity. They talk about how this affected their attitudes towards other people, their sense of social responsibility, and how the Cultural Revolution influenced what they felt was important and meaningful in life.29

Again, I am not talking about some kind of utopia, and I am not saying everything was done right in Maoist China. But people did change—because socialist society creates this new framework that makes it possible for people to consciously change themselves.

And when capitalism was restored in China in 1976, and the old dog-eat-dog economic relations brought back, people changed again: back towards the old “me against you,” “everyone for him- or herself” outlook. People changed not because a primordial human nature had somehow reasserted itself, but because society had changed back to capitalism.

Part 5: Learning From and Going Beyond the Cultural Revolution

The Cultural Revolution Mao initiated in 1966 was defeated in 1976. Following Mao's death, a core of capitalist-roaders launched a military coup. They arrested Mao's closest comrades and killed thousands. These counter-revolutionary forces instituted capitalism, while maintaining a certain socialist camouflage.

How could this happen? For one thing, the Cultural Revolution was bitterly opposed by powerful neo-capitalist forces who occupied leading positions in Chinese society: in the Communist Party, in the government, and in the military. These forces, Mao had pointed out, were part of a social-historical phenomenon of the Chinese revolution: they were "bourgeois democrats" who had evolved into "capitalist roaders." Let me explain.

China had been a nation subjugated by imperialism. It was a society kept backward and poor by feudalism. For many who had joined the Communist Party before the seizure of power in 1949, the Chinese revolution was in essence about breaking the grip of imperialism and turning China into a modern, industrialized society. And once the revolution succeeded in driving out imperialism, these forces, many now in leading positions, saw the task before the revolution as building up China's economic power—by whatever methods promised the most efficient results. These "bourgeois democrats" turned "capitalist roaders" were powerful and had a great deal of influence.

But that was not all. Revolutionary China faced enormous international pressures. The Soviet Union, which was no longer a socialist country in the 1960s and '70s, was threatening war, even nuclear strikes, against socialist China. This strengthened the conservative forces within the party. They claimed that the ferment and innovation of the Cultural Revolution were too risky, that it was time to put a stop to the Cultural Revolution—and that all must be focused on defense, stability, and rapid modernization. And they organized and mobilized social forces around this agenda.

Beyond these more immediate concrete factors—at a deeper level, there is the fact that socialist revolution is going up against thousands of years of master-slave relations, tradition, and the ideological force of habit, like people deferring to authority and convention.

It is these objective factors—the strength of counter-revolution and the monumental challenges of transforming class-divided society—that mainly account for the defeat of socialism in China in 1976. But the defeat was also conditioned, though secondarily, by some mistakes in orientation and conception on the part of Mao and the revolutionaries.

To get into this, we need to understand that an event of these world-historic proportions—the defeat of a truly transformative revolution that spanned 27 years in a country of almost a billion people—required a serious analysis. And the only person on this planet who analyzed what had happened in China from the standpoint of: why the revolution had been defeated, its implications, and how we have to not only build on the unprecedented, liberating experience of the Cultural Revolution but also learn from its problems and go beyond it in initiating a new stage of communist revolution... this was Bob Avakian.

Bob Avakian's New Synthesis of Communism

This brings me to the last part of my talk: how Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism enables humanity to go further and do better in making communist revolution in today's world.

Bob Avakian has argued that we not only have to uphold the great victories of the first wave of socialist revolution. We also have to air and get into their problems. We have to understand more deeply where these revolutions came up short, and how we can do better. We have to unsparingly interrogate the experience of proletarian revolution, not just the mistakes and negative features but also its high points and breakthroughs. Not just because we're not scared of the truth, but because we thirst for the truth.

In discussing all of this, I am applying insights from works of Avakian such as Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy and "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity."30

Bob Avakian has examined the Soviet experience and the experience of the Cultural Revolution deeply.

In the Soviet Union in the late 1930s, as danger of attack from Germany was growing and society was mobilizing for war, political and intellectual life grew increasingly restrictive and ossified.31

During the Cultural Revolution in China, many artists and intellectuals were not able to pursue their work. There were revolutionary model works, which were wonderful things. There was a flourishing of the arts among workers and peasants, who had previously been locked out of these spheres as they are in capitalist society. But there was a problem of a single-minded focus on developing model revolutionary works and enabling the masses to take up art—this to the exclusion of much else. There was too tight a hand.32

We have to do better.

Let's be clear: the achievement of socialist state power is a great thing. To allow counter-revolution to capture power would be a betrayal not just of the sacrifices of the masses who make revolution but of the hopes of the whole world.

The revolution must keep a firm grip on that power AND must also make sure that that power must be worth maintaining: it must be truly revolutionary and emancipatory. A new state power and the overall leadership of a vanguard party are indispensable to bringing a new world into being.

Avakian is saying that there must be a "solid core" in socialist society—a "solid core" rooted in the principle of achieving communism and emancipating all of humanity, and maintaining power on that basis. This is essential to really be on the road to getting to a society where there is no longer need for any institutionalized leadership.

On the basis of this solid core, there must also be "maximum elasticity": ferment and contestation, things churning, new and unexpected things "bubbling up" in society. Leadership must be learning from all of this while giving this overall direction, so that this elasticity can contribute to the rich process of getting to communism.

This is a breakthrough in understanding and vision. It requires that leadership be exercised in ways that are, in certain important and crucial respects, different from the understanding and practice of previous socialist societies.

Revolution must set the terms. But that cannot come at the cost of inhibiting dissent, or stifling the richness of individual expression, or putting a halter on the vast middle strata of society. We have learned that you cannot get to communism if society is not sprung into the air, if there is not a profound interplay of experience and discovery and insight, opening new pathways of change.

Part 6: The New Synthesis and Intellectual Ferment and Dissent in Socialist Society

Bob Avakian has forged new understanding and new appreciation of the vital role of intellectual work and intellectual ferment in socialist society. This has to be happening on a scale that is unimaginable in capitalist society. At the same time that you are working to overcome a situation where only a relative handful of people can engage in the realm of “working with ideas” you must also be giving scope and space to intellectuals, artists, and scientists.

Now there are attitudes and values on the part of intellectuals—attitudes stemming from their relatively privileged position and relative separation from the masses in class society—that must be struggled with. But everyone in society, including those on the bottom, is influenced by bourgeois ideology, and this too must be struggled with. Everyone’s thinking, whether we are talking about workers who may be either deferential to or resentful of intellectuals, or intellectuals and professionals who may look down on the masses...everybody’s thinking must be transformed. This is part of becoming emancipators of humanity.

Handling all of this correctly is a great challenge. Because, again, the communist revolution is aiming to overcome the oppressive social division of labor of class society—but going at this with the understanding that intellectual and scientific ferment are essential to the search for the truth, to adding to the store of human knowledge, to enabling the masses of people to know the world more deeply so it can be transformed more profoundly.

There is something else. The probing and questing character of intellectual activity can contribute to the dynamism and to the critical and exploratory spirit that must permeate socialist society. This is all part of the process of uncovering and struggling over the problems and defects in society. Such ferment contributes to the atmosphere where the policies, structures, direction, and leadership of society are being debated and interrogated throughout society.

Now, socialist society will be promoting Marxism. But Marxism cannot be imposed as an “official ideology” that people have to agree with as part of becoming full members of society. This has been a problem in previous socialist societies. Marxism must be promoted in an atmosphere in which it is interacting and engaging with other intellectual currents and discourses, and actually being enriched through this. And people ultimately have to come to Marxism themselves.

Dissent and Elasticity

This model of socialist society that Avakian is bringing forward attaches great importance to the need not just to allow but to foster dissent, protest, and contestation in socialist society. Socialism must be pulsing with discovery and upheaval. You can’t have that if you are tightly controlling things, if people are looking over their shoulders, or “watching what they say” for fear of being wrong.

People often ask, “You advocate protest today, but what about the universities under socialism, but will there be student movements and protests?” The answer is “yes, and then some!” The universities in socialist society must be seething with far-ranging intellectual debate and dissent, with protest and with contestation which will, yes, lead to disruption. We’re talking about a society that teems with debate and protest far beyond what exists in capitalist society.

You know, as part of this speaking tour, I issued an open letter and challenge to debate to Jeffrey Sachs. He teaches at Columbia and is an avid advocate of what he considers to be “socially conscious” capitalism. He vigorously opposes communism and sees markets as ensuring freedom. Well, people like Jeffrey Sachs, or social critics like Naomi Klein, and the Roderick MacFarquhars, must and will have the ability to articulate, disseminate, and defend their views widely in socialist society. There will be great debate in society about these views as part of the struggle to understand and change the world. We will not get to communism without this kind of ferment.

Let me move on to another aspect of this new synthesis. In summing up the experience of socialist revolution in the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, and in China under Mao, Avakian has pointed to a particular problem. Yes, it is crucial and necessary for socialist society to have real focuses—from waging struggle to liberate women from the bonds of patriarchy to dealing urgently with the environmental crisis. Yes, it is crucial and necessary for leadership to be developing policies and winning people to see the need to keep things going in an overall direction towards communism, and waging determined struggles to keep the revolution going forward.

But this too has to be understood in a new way. Yes, socialist society must be moving forward in an overall sense towards communism. But people also have to be able to pursue their own visions. They have to be able to strike out in all kinds of diverse and creative ways—whether we are talking about artists and scientists, or the masses of people.

This is not a detour from creating a new and liberating world. This “elasticity” is an essential part of the dynamic of getting to that world. People can only arrive at a truer understanding of society through the fullest possible debate to thrash out right and wrong, and to themselves experiment, discover new things, make mistakes, and be able to reflect and relax.

Now this is another great challenge that is full of risks. You have to be not only allowing but encouraging things to go in all kinds of wild and unexpected directions; but you also have to be doing so without losing your priorities, and without losing power. Make no mistake about it, the imperialists and counter-revolutionaries will try to restore the old order. There is the reality of counterrevolution, of active and organized attempts to sabotage and overthrow the new society. But there is also the reality that you are not going to get to communism unless society is pulsing with ferment and experimentation, dissent, and protest. The Constitution and legal framework of socialist society must reflect that understanding and make the necessary distinctions.

What this new synthesis is underscoring is that intellectual ferment and dissent not only contribute to new and deeper understanding of society, not only contribute to opening up those new pathways to a society without classes, but also, and critically, are vital to the process of enhancing the capacity of people to more consciously and more voluntarily change society and themselves.

Part 7: Another, and Better, World Is Possible

I have spoken about the experience of communist revolution in the 20th century and about Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism. The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA has been applying this new synthesis. It's been doing work on how a new socialist society, achieved on the basis of making a revolution that overturns this system, would tackle major social questions.

Tackling Racism and National Oppression in a New Socialist Society

Let's take the crucial problem of racism and the oppression of Black, Latino, and other minority nationalities in this society.

The police forces that today degrade and brutalize young people and masses in the ghettos and barrios would be immediately dismantled. The new state would establish new security forces that both protect the rights and interests of the masses of people and that help the people to resolve contradictions and disputes non-antagonistically—without resorting to violence.

The new revolutionary state would take over the factories, land and mines, machinery and technology. A new socialist economy would utilize these means of production to develop an economy to meet the needs of the people, safeguard the ecosystems of the planet, and promote world revolution.

Right away, the revolutionary state would channel economic and social resources into the former ghettos and barrios. It would bring together people in the communities with specialists like architects, state planners, and environmental scientists. People would be debating and figuring out what kinds of housing, recreational facilities, and health clinics are needed.

The youth would not only have jobs, but meaningful jobs that would make a difference in the lives of the communities and in society overall. Society would be mobilizing middle-class professionals, who also have a desire to do something meaningful with their lives and who have skills to share. People would be learning from each other in the context of transforming society. People would be forging new cooperative relations, and carrying on debate and waging ideological struggle over the direction of society.

The new socialist state would immediately outlaw segregation in housing and the apartheid-like system of education in the U.S. and promote integration throughout society. The new society would foster exchanges of experiences and ideas among different sections of people—like Latinos and Blacks.

At the same time, the new socialist state would uphold the right of self-determination for African-Americans, that is, the right to form an independent state. The new society would also make possible forms of self-government and autonomy for African-Americans, Chicanos, Native Americans, and other formerly oppressed nationalities—and provide the resources to make this real and vibrant. The educational system and media would be combating racist and white supremacist ideas and hurtful myths.

The revolutionary state would give initiative and support to people taking on the still-existing racist ideas and ways that influence how people relate to each other and that perpetuate inequality. The arts and the media and the educational system would be giving voice and expression to a rich cultural diversity—in an atmosphere that brings out human community.

Continuing Struggle in Socialist Society

Bob Avakian has pointed out that socialist society will be teeming with "unresolved contradictions." There are still tremendous social struggles and ideological battles to wage to overcome patriarchy and the legacy of the oppression of minority nationalities. There are the still-existing social differences between professionals and intellectuals and those who are mainly working with their hands...still the need to use money...still gaps in development between regions.

These still-existing differences and contradictions will call forth questioning and bring forward new ideas—but also engender dissatisfaction and criticism, and spark struggle and even upheavals. Is this a good or a bad thing? Avakian sees this as nothing less than a driving force for continuing the revolution.

The point is that the world does not have to be the way it is now, and Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism opens incredibly exciting vistas for making revolution in today's world.

Think about how a socialist economy and a socialist society guided by the kinds of principles I have been talking about could in fact address the environmental emergency we face. Imagine a society that was unleashing creative energies and waging soul-stirring struggle to emancipate women and transform all relations between men and women, interrogating traditional notions of gender—and the very idea of what it means to be a man or woman. Think about how art could flourish throughout such a society, and how a new revolutionary culture, with profound liberatory content and rich formal innovation, could take root in society...while social imagination and artistic experimentation take flight.


The experience of communist revolution and the new synthesis of Bob Avakian are things you need to know about. These are not just interesting historical or philosophical questions. We are not talking about a "more balanced" discussion in the academy. What we are talking about is the fate of the planet and the future of humanity. What we are talking about is historical truth and human possibility.

You have been blocked from knowing about the vital history of communism, the real concepts and real development of communism. You have been prevented from debating these questions in any meaningful way. Everything you've been told about communism is wrong. The verdicts and "conventional wisdom" about communism are a profound obstacle to what is most needed: an emancipatory politics and an emancipatory discourse. But we're changing all of that.

You have now finally been told something about communism that is not wrong. So let's get into it.

Thank you.



1.  This analogy is taken from Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (Chicago: RCP Publications, 2009), p. 18 ( [back]

2.  The Russian Revolution of 1917 had brought political and social emancipation to Jews in a country with a history of virulent anti-semitism and violent anti-Jewish pogroms. Equality of rights for Jews continued under Joseph Stalin during the 1930s and World War 2. By contrast, Jews in Hungary, Romania, and Poland faced organized fascist movements and institutional anti-semitism in the 1930s—and, later, death camps. See Arno Mayer, Why Did The Heavens Not Darken? (New York: Pantheon, 1988), pp. 55-89. [back]

3.  At the start of the Cultural Revolution, Mao raised the slogan "it is right to rebel against reactionaries" and called on people to "bombard the headquarters" of capitalist roaders who were carrying out elitist and oppressive policies. Providing resources for posters and newspapers, free use of trains for students, and encouragement in the press were some key ways in which mass criticism and struggle were promoted. See "Decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" (Adopted on August 8, 1966), in Important Documents on the Cultural Revolution in China (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1970); also at: [back]

4. [back]

5.  On nuclear threats and nuclear war planning against Maoist China in the early 1950s, see John Wilson Lewis and Xue Lita, China Builds the Bomb (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), chapters one and two; Rosemary J. Foot, "Nuclear Coercion and the Ending of the Korean Conflict," International Security, Winter 1988/89 (Vol. 13, No. 3); Matthew Jones, "Targeting China: U.S. Nuclear Planning and `Massive Retaliation' in East Asia, 1953-1955," Journal of Cold War Studies, Fall 2008 (Vol. 10, No. 4); and "For Eisenhower, 2 Goals if Bomb Was to Be Used," New York Times, June 8, 1984, and Bernard Gwertzman, "U.S. Papers Tell of '53 Policy to Use A-Bomb in Korea," New York Times, June 8, 1984. [back]

6. On the Bolshevik revolution's approach to and achievements in expanding education to minority nationalities, ensuring equality of languages, and promoting instruction in native languages, see, for example, Jeremy Smith, "The Education of National Minorities: The Early Soviet Experience," Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 75, No. 2 (April 1997). [back]

7. Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), Chapter 40, pp. 426-439. [back]

8. Mao Tsetung, "Talks at the Wuchang Conference, 21-23 November 1958," in Roderick MacFarquhar, Timothy Cheek, and Eugene Wu, eds., The Secret Speeches of Mao Tsetung, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989), pp. 494-495. Chang and Halliday use the same Chinese-language source but produce a slightly different translation. [back]

9. Roderick MacFarquhar, Michael Schoenhals, Mao's Last Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), p. 102. [back]

10. ibid., p. 515, endnote 2. [back]

11. Andrew J. Nathan, "The Bloody Enigma," The New Republic, November 30, 2006. The statement attributed to Mao by MacFarquhar is prominently invoked by another "reputable" China scholar in a more recent review-article in the New York Review of Books; see Jonathan Mirsky, "How Reds Smashed Reds," November 11, 2010. [back]

12. This alleged statement by Mao originating in Mao's Last Revolution has since been removed from the Wikipedia entry on the Cultural Revolution. [back]

13. "An Open Letter from Raymond Lotta to Roderick MacFarquhar," Revolution #198, April 11, 2010. [back]

14. Bob Avakian, "Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine and its Anti-Communist Distortions—Unfortunately, No Shock There," Revolution #118, February 3, 2008. [back]

15. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 2008), p. 20. [back]

16. Mao Tsetung, "Introducing a Cooperative," in Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Tsetung (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1971), pp. 499-501. [back]

17. Op. cit., and at [back]

18. For a historical-theoretical overview of the Cultural Revolution, see Bob Avakian, Mao Tsetung's Immortal Contributions (Chicago: RCP Publications, 1979), chapters 5-6; and Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, op. cit., II. [back]

19. Jonathan D. Spence and Annping Chin, The Chinese Century (New York: Random House, 1996), p. 84; Fredric M. Kaplan, Julian M. Sobin, Stephen Andors, Encyclopedia of China Today (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), p. 233. [back]

20. On the early phases of the Cultural Revolution, see Jean Daubier, A History of the Cultural Revolution (New York: Vintage, 1974) and Han Suyin, Wind in the Tower (Boston: Little, Brown, 1976), chapters 3-5. [back]

21. On the mass struggles in Shanghai, see Daubier and also Elizabeth J. Perry and Li Xun, Proletarian Power: Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution (Boulder: Westview Press, 1997). For how Mao was summing up mass experiences and giving leadership in the struggle to forge new institutions of power, see Raymond Lotta, Nayi Duniya, and K.J.A., "Alain Badiou's 'Politics of Emancipation': A Communism Locked Within the Confines of the Bourgeois World,"  Demarcations, Summer-Fall 2009, chapter 6, II. [back]

22. From Point 6 of the "Decision of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution," op. cit., and at: [back]

23. Suzanne Pepper, "Chinese Education after Mao," China Quarterly, March 1980 (No. 81), pp. 6-7. For useful studies on the expansion of schooling in the countryside and educational transformation during the Cultural Revolution, see Dongping Han, The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Educational Reforms and Their Impact on China's Rural Development (New York: Garland Publishing, 2000); and Ruth Gamberg, Red and Expert: Education in the People's Republic of China (New York: Schocken, 1977). [back]

24. See Kaplan, et. al., op. cit., p. 233, 242; and C. Clark Kissinger, "How Maoist Revolution Wiped Out Drug Addiction in China," Revolutionary Worker #734, December 5. 1993. [back]

25. Victor W. Sidel and Ruth Sidel, Serve the People: Observations on Medicine in the People's Republic of China (Boston: Beacon Press, 1973), pp. 22-24. [back]

26. Teh-wei Hu, "Health Care Services in China's Economic Development," in Robert F. Dernberger, ed., China's Development Experience in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), pp. 234-238. [back]

27. Penny Kane, The Second Billion (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1987), p. 172. [back]

28. See Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, Hunger and Public Action (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), pp. 205, 214. Noam Chomsky uses Dreze and Sen's comparative mortality rates to reach this estimate of 100 million needless deaths in India (see "Millennial Visions and Selective Vision, Part One," Z Magazine, January 10, 2000). [back]

29. See, Bai Di, “Growing Up in Revolutionary China,” Interview, Revolution, April 12, 2009,; Dongping Han, “The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village,” Interview, Revolution, September 6, 2009,; Mobo Gao, Gao Village (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999). [back]

30. Bob Avakian, Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy (Chicago: Insight Press, 2005); "Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity," in Revolution and Communism: A Foundation and Strategic Orientation (Chicago: RCP Publications, 2008). [back]

31. "On Communism, Leadership, Stalin, and the Experience of Socialist Society," Revolution, June 21, 2009. Audio available at [back]

32. See Bob Avakian, "The Cultural Revolution in China...Art and Culture...Dissent and Ferment...and Carrying Forward the Revolution Toward Communism," Revolution, February 19, 2012. [back]

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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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End Pornography and Patriarchy:
The Enslavement and Degradation of Women!

Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!

Fight for the Emancipation of Women All Over the World!

We are told that "equality for women has been won" and that "there are no limits to what girls can achieve." BULLSHIT!

Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten. Every day three to four women are killed by their partners. One out of four female college students will be raped or sexually assaulted while in college.

In recent years, pornography has become increasingly violent, cruel, degrading towards women; women are referred to as "cumdumpsters" and "fuckbuckets"; the "money shot" (ejaculation in a woman's face) is standard; humiliating cruelty—like violent "ass-to-mouth" penetration—is normalized, and racist bigotry is sexualized. Meanwhile, the broader culture has been pornified: pole dancing is taught at gyms, "sexting" is a national phenomenon among teens and the strip club is the accepted backdrop to "male bonding." All this is tied in with, and reinforces, the trafficking of millions of women and girls as literal chattel in the international sex industry.

This is NOT society becoming more comfortable with sex. This is society becoming saturated with the sexualized degradation of women. If you can't imagine sex without porn, you're fucked.

At the same time, a Christian fundamentalist-driven assault is imperiling abortion, birth control, real sex education and women's lives. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) people who do not conform to traditional patriarchal gender and sexual norms are demonized and threatened. Abortion doctors are killed. Women who seek abortions—or even birth control—are stigmatized. 2011 saw the largest spate of legal restrictions on abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973.


Fetuses are not babies. Women are not incubators. Abortion is not murder.

Women are not objects. Women are not things to be used for the sexual pleasure of men NOR are they breeders of children. WOMEN ARE HUMAN BEINGS CAPABLE OF FULL EQUALITY IN EVERY REALM!

It is long past time that this new generation stand up, reject, and RESIST this culture of rape and pornography; this culture that labels women "selfish" if they choose not to become mothers; this culture that reduces women and girls to sexualized objects while denying their full multi-dimensional humanity (including their right—as one essential part of this—to explore their sexuality without shame or stigma); this culture that demonizes and bullies LGBT people.

Our purpose is NOT to lobby for new legislation to ban pornography ("decency laws" have always served to further repress homosexuality, boundary-challenging art and scientific sex education). We oppose the criminalization of women in the sex industry. Our mission is to challenge the new generation in particular to wage fierce cultural and political resistance to wake others up and to bring forward a new culture that celebrates the full equality and liberation of women.

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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women!

Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!

Fight for the Emancipation of Women All Over the World!

Saturday, March 10
Celebrate International Women's Day
12:00 Noon
Protest and March, New York City

Photo: Faris Mansor

Gather near St. Patrick's Cathedral (near Rockefeller Center, exact location TBA):


MARCH to and PROTEST STRIP CLUBS (TBA) in the area!

ALONG THE WAY: Protest "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" & Celebrate Abortion Provider Appreciation Day:

Help make International Women's Day happen:

  • Organize an International Women's Day march/protest in your city to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women! Tell us what you're doing!
  • Bring a contingent to the march in New York City
  • Volunteer: Come to NYC in the days leading up to March 10!


If anything in this flier resonated with you... If you care about the conditions of women... If you want to do something that can really make a huge difference – not only for yourself, but for women (and all people) worldwide and for future generations...


3 things you can do right away:

1. Invite us into your class, club or dorm.
2. Spread this on FB and Twitter.
3. Distribute this flier everywhere/anywhere you go.

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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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February 4:

Protests in 80 Cities Demand: "NO U.S. War on Iran"

In a day of united mass action initiated by World Can’t Wait with 59 other organizations, people in about 80 locations, primarily in the U.S. and Canada, protested against the intensifying moves by the U.S. and Israel toward war against Iran. The call for the protest spread widely in the two weeks leading up to February 4. Hundreds demonstrated in New York City and San Francisco. One protest was at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, home of the U.S. Central Command, which heads the U.S. military forces in the Middle East and Persian Gulf area. Dozens came out in cities like Rochester, New York and Defiance, Ohio. The following are brief reports from Revolution correspondents in several cities:

New York: 500 gathered in Times Square, employing the “human mic” to hear speakers who took apart U.S.-Israeli justifications for sanctions and war against the Iranian people. Participants told organizers they felt the unity behind demands “no war, no sanctions, no intervention, no assassinations” is a good first step in bringing a loud, urgent, determined movement against a third U.S. war in the Middle East. Anti-war veterans, the Granny Peace Brigade, Wall Street occupiers, revolutionary communists, and others contributed to the energy of the crowd. Supporters of the “green movement” in opposition to the Islamic Republic of Iran were some of the youngest and strongest voices against a U.S. attack. People marched across town to the U.S. Mission to the UN and the Israeli consulate.

San Francisco: 600 people marched up Market Street through downtown San Francisco. Spirits were high, yet sober. There was a real sense of urgency and outrage over the possibility that the U.S. and Israel are preparing to launch still another war, and the terrible human toll it would take in Iran. People listened intently as one after another speaker painted a picture from many angles. Many of the day’s participants said during the protest and afterward that they felt this was one of the more powerful protests to be seen in the anti-war movement for a while, because of its diversity, but also because of the passion in people wanting and creating unity to make the “Four No’s” demand reverberate.

Seattle: Up to 150 people rallied at Westlake Park, where the Occupy Seattle movement had been based until forced out by the police. The diverse group included military veterans, Occupy Seattle activists, Native Americans, homeless people, and Iranians and others of Middle Eastern descent. The people then took to the streets and marched throughout downtown Seattle.

Atlanta: About 60 people held signs and banners at the intersection in front of CNN Center. Protesters included peace and justice activists, people from Occupy Atlanta, and several Iranians who brought their whole families.

Houston: Nearly 100 people gathered at a busy intersection in the Galleria shopping area to demand "No War on Iran." There was a mix of longtime antiwar activists, people from the Iranian and Muslim communities, along with people from Occupy Houston and some people who just didn't want to see another war waged by the U.S. There was an open mic where different points of view were expressed, with lots of exposure of U.S. crimes around the world and the lies used to justify them.

Among the signs were bold, colorful signs "No War on Iran" made by a local Pacifica activist who is a graphic artist. Some Iranian women held up the centerfold poster "A Lesson About Liars" from Revolution #255, chronicling the lies used to justify the U.S. war of aggression against Iraq. An Iranian woman who lived in Iran during the early years of the Iraq war told how the young men whose bodies were being torn to pieces by that war brought her to tears.

Several speakers, while denouncing U.S./Israeli war plans and exposing much of the U.S.'s crimes, insisted that the U.S. should return to its founding principles. A Revolution distributor got strong agreement from the crowd, especially from those from the Middle East, when he pointed out that those "founding principles" were the genocide against the Native peoples and the enslavement of millions of Black people, and pointed to the article in Revolution about Newt Gingrich's recent upholding of Andrew Jackson's legacy in his speeches in South Carolina.

A strong current was the idea that "the Israel lobby" is responsible for U.S. policy in the Middle East. While correctly pointing out that Israel has hundreds of nuclear weapons and Iran has none, talk of the U.S. nuclear arsenal was hardly mentioned. The Revolution distributor said we cannot give the U.S. a pass on this, that Israel's nuclear arsenal is part of its role as the U.S. attack dog in the Middle East, that the U.S. itself has THOUSANDS of nukes which it threatens the whole world with... including Iran... and that the U.S. is the only country to ever actually USE nuclear weapons. This, along with exposure of the continued legacy of birth defects in Vietnam from U.S. chemical weapons (40 years later!), was particularly well-received. He quoted Avakian, "If you can conceive of a world without America—without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world—then you've already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world" [BAsics 1:31], and he spoke of BA's re-envisioning of the communist project as a world people would really want to live in without all these crimes.

Many copies of Revolution were sold, with particular interest in Bob Avakian's exposure of Christian Fundamentalist Tim Tebow, and two copies of BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian were also sold.

Revolution distributors also brought a sign with a quote from BAsics: "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives."


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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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Watch Online

Sunsara Taylor: “I Hate Religion and Jesus is No Good Either! Read Your Damn Bible!”

In this video clip, Sunsara Taylor, writer for Revolution, uses Bob Avakian’s book Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World to challenge followers of Jesus to defend what Jesus actually said and what he actually did: uphold slavery, condemn divorce, blame sick people for their own illness, preach reconciliation between the oppressors and the oppressed and condemn people who don’t believe in him to BURN IN HELL.

The video is available online at Sunsara Taylor’s blog (, look in the January 2012 archives, January 14 entry), and also at (search for “Sunsara Taylor” and “I hate religion”).

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Revolution #259, February 12, 2012

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From A World to Win News Service

India: CP (Maoist) on Death of Leading Comrade Koteswarlu (Kishenji)

January 30, 2012. A World to Win News Service. Following are excerpts from a press release signed by Abhay, spokesperson of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), dated January 13. For the full statement see

On November 24, 2011, the Indian revolution lost its great leader, and the oppressed masses of India lost their most reliable servant. November 24 would remain a dark day in the history of the Indian revolution. On July 1, 2010, the Indian ruling classes had murdered our Politburo member and spokesperson Comrade Azad. Within one and a half years, another Politburo member, Comrade Koteswarlu (who is popular among the people and party ranks as Kotanna, Prahlad, Ramji, Kishenji and Bimal), was caught alive in a covert operation, tortured inhumanly and was killed in a fake encounter.

In India, which claims to be the largest democracy in the world, the feudal and comprador-bureaucrat bourgeois ruling classes, with the support of the imperialists, particularly the U.S. imperialists, are trying to suppress the democratic, national liberation and revolutionary movements with an iron heel. Particularly since 2009 they have been carrying on an unjust war on the people in the name of "Operation Green Hunt." They are shamelessly violating even the constitution and the laws formulated by themselves and are killing people, activists and leaders of the movement. They are unsuccessfully trying to justify all their unlawful murders in the name of a lie named "encounter," tracing the footsteps of the British colonial rulers. Now it is an established fact that an "encounter" anywhere in India means a conspiratorial murder by the state.

Comrade Koteswarlu was born on November 26, 1954 in Peddapalli, a town of Karimnagar district which has a legacy of the glorious Telangana armed struggle. He led the Indian revolutionary movement for nearly four decades. Comrade Koteswarlu was brought up by democratic-thinking parents and imbibed patriotic feelings and love for the oppressed people since childhood. He was a top-ranking representative of the generation after the glorious Naxalbari rebellion. Though the Naxalbari rebellion, which established Maoist Protracted People's War as the path for the Indian revolution, was suppressed within a few years, it had a great impact all over the country. Peasant rebellions arose in many areas following its model. It awoke the students in colleges and universities. The slogan "Naxalbari Ek Hi Rasta" ("The Only Way is Naxalbari") reverberated all over the country. It was this backdrop that turned Comrade Koteswarlu into a Maoist revolutionary.

At the end of the 1970s, Comrade Koteswarlu played a crucial role in the Jagityal peasant movement and in the first decade of the 21st century he became the architect of the illustrious Lalgarh people's upsurge. He was an inspiring leader who never left the people and the cadres and who stood firmly during many an ebb and flow in the Indian revolutionary movement with courage and initiative. He was an organizer with initiative, a warrior/commander and a guide who imparted love and care. His very presence proved to be a hard nut to crack for the enemy right from the beginning. He successfully fought back several attacks and attempts to murder him. He was a tireless warrior who fought incessantly and uncompromisingly and never let go of any opportunity to attack the enemy politically and militarily.

That is why the ruling clique of this country led by Sonia-Manmohan-Chidambaram-Pranab-Jairam colluded with the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, and killed him in the cruelest manner. The brutal signs of torture on his dead body indicate the fascist nature of the enemy, its cowardliness and its defeat. On the other hand, he bore all the inhuman tortures at the hands of the enemy and emerged victorious even in the face of death. The crimson of the international red flag of the proletarians turned deeper with the blood spilled by him in Jungle Mahal.

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


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