Revolution #291, January 13, 2013 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Please note: this page is intended for quick printing of the entire issue. Some of the links may not work when clicked, and some images may be missing. Please go to the article's permalink if you require working links and images.




Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

Outrage in India—
and the Global Capitalist Culture of Rape

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


December 16, 2012. Late into the night, a young woman and man—naked, bloody, and barely conscious—are dumped from a bus onto a dusty street in Mahipalpur, a district of south Delhi, India. After an agonizing wait of close to an hour while they lay bleeding in the street, they are finally taken to a hospital.

The woman had moved to the sprawling mega city of Delhi from her impoverished state of Uttar Pradesh. Her family had spent and sold everything they had so she could study medicine. She dreamed of returning to the village where she grew up and opening a hospital.

But the two young people had been lured onto the bus by a gang of drunken men, out to attack women. The men quickly disabled the woman’s companion and beat him. Then they began a savage assault on her that continued as they took turns driving the bus through the crowded streets of Delhi, beating and raping her mercilessly. When she was dumped onto the corner in Mahipalpur, she was suffering massive blood loss and severe damage to several internal organs.

At the hospital doctors discovered that her intestine had been so badly torn apart with a metal rod used to rape and beat her that the organ had to be surgically removed. Several days later she was flown to a hospital in Singapore that specializes in treatment for multi-organ trauma. After undergoing three abdominal operations, she died on December 28.

Simmering Rage, Righteous Fury

News of this horrific outrage struck a deep chord among millions of people throughout India and thousands —women and men—poured into the streets in angry protest. They were viciously attacked by police with water cannon, tear gas, and batons. One young woman shouted to the police who were dragging her to jail, “Shame, shame, you beat us while rapists roam free.” At an anti-rape protest in Imphal, in northern India, a journalist was killed when the police fired on demonstrators with live ammunition.

But the protesters persevered. Massive demonstrations have continued in Delhi and other Indian cities into the first week of 2013. A 22-year-old woman who had traveled five hours to be at a Delhi protest told reporters that it was “impossible to imagine that the country will sit back and say chalta hai [all is going to be fine].... We are not a chalta hai generation.”

The fury and duration of the protests have triggered a crisis in Indian society and within the Indian government. In the face of government attacks, thousands, especially young women and men, have continued to take to the streets—expressing their determination to not let this go on, to bring out into the open the horrible crime of rape in society that is usually covered over and tolerated.

In response, the government has now charged five of the six men involved in the savage bus attack with murder, and is threatening to use the death penalty against them. Meanwhile, different political forces are working to find ways to suppress and channel people’s anger into ineffective efforts aimed at reforming the police and the political and legal systems to supposedly “better protect” women.

A Seismic Fault Line

This brutal rape and the courageous mass protests against it have revealed a seismic fault line that exists not only in India, but throughout the entire world: The oppression of women that concentrates one of the most basic social divisions in a world dominated by the system of capitalism-imperialism.

This oppression takes many different forms. The horrors it inflicts are universal. And it affects every woman and girl. Half of humanity is subjected in some way or another to the threat and reality of assault, degradation, rape, murder, enforced prostitution, and daily, never-ending abuse. All of society is bombarded with a whole culture, social relations, and ideas that constantly demean the worth of half of humanity. As we wrote about the state of women in 2012:

“In today’s world, whether you live in the so-called ‘enlightened democratic’ West... where women are systematically discriminated against and turned into sexual commodities; where prostitution, pornography, and strip clubs are ‘just part of the culture,’ where the patriarchal relations of the family mean women are brutally beaten, even murdered by their husbands and boyfriends. Or whether you live in a country where feudal traditions and backward religious strictures mean women are required to cover themselves head to foot, not even allowed to be seen, where they can be given the death sentence for choosing whom they want to marry or deciding they want to get an education...

“The capitalist system has engulfed the entire world... the system of imperialism turns everything and everyone into a commodity... this system has created a situation where all over the world, half of the population is systematically denied their humanity.” ("Women in 2012: The Horrible Fate of Half of Humanity Under Capitalism-Imperialism" Revolution #290, January 6, 2013)

And every single second, a woman somewhere in the world is raped—brutalized, degraded and denied her humanity in this way. And then, so many times, she is “raped again”—humiliated by the police who interrogate her, implying that “she asked for it”; told it was her fault because she wore the “wrong clothes,” was in “the wrong place”; accused in court of being a “loose woman” and so she deserved what she got.

Much of the fury of the protests in response to the rape in Mahipalpur has been directed at the inaction, indifference, and hostility from the Indian government, beginning with its top officials and extending through the government bureaucracy, the police, and the army. The massive and continuing protests have brought official participation, encouragement, and complicity in crimes against women into the light of day. For example, at least six Indian legislators are currently facing rape charges in different cases; and in the last five years India’s leading political parties have nominated 260 candidates facing charges for crimes against women. In Indian society, rape is used as a weapon of domination by the military, the police, and upper castes against lower castes and classes, and the rapists in such cases usually go unpunished. But it is also true in Indian society—as it is all over the world—that women of all economic and social standings are threatened by and subjected to the brutality of rape, whether it is in a dark alley at night, date rape, or rape within marriage.

All this and much more amounts to a permanent state of war on women and girls, driven by the chaotic dislocation and exploitation of global capitalism-imperialism, and fueled by feudal, patriarchal ideologies and the proliferation of high-tech pornography. The infuriating prevalence of rape is one monstrous expression of the deadly environment in which females exist from before they are even born until their death. It is a crime embedded deep in the nature and workings of the capitalist-imperialist system—including in the ways that this system has incorporated feudal and semi-feudal social relations and traditions. And no amount of reforms, of getting rid of bad police or throwing out rapist politicians is going to “fix” this horrendous problem.

In India, simmering rage at the groping, the leering, the insults, the assaults—the rape that is excused or condoned and determined to be “the woman’s fault”—exploded in righteous fury on the streets of Delhi and other cities, and reverberated throughout the world. A raw nerve had been touched.

Kavita Krishnan of the All India Progressive Women’s Association said on Democracy Now! that “this incident was particularly graphic violence, but there have been other terrible incidents, as well, including incidents in Delhi. But I think it was a cumulative effect and a cumulative feeling of anger and outrage at the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of sexual violence and at the imposed insecurity, at the restrictions that insecurity imposes on women.

“And it all burst out in this, perhaps because this young woman was doing something so normal: She boarded a bus to go home after watching a film with her friend. And I think that somehow struck such a huge chord.”

Liberation of Women, Emancipation of Humanity

“The question of the status—the oppression and the struggle for the liberation—of women is objectively coming to the forefront in today’s world and posing itself ever more profoundly and acutely.”

Bob Avakian,
“Unresolved Contradictions,
Driving Forces for Revolution”

The Revolutionary Communist Party’s A Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity (March 8, 2009) summed up the process through which capitalism both inherits and deepens the oppression of women as part of its fundamental workings:

“‘Modern’ capitalist society—or in reality the global system of capitalism-imperialism—has inherited the oppression of women from past societies out of which capitalism has emerged, and while changing some of the forms in which this oppression takes place, it has not eliminated, and cannot eliminate, this oppression; it has incorporated pre-capitalist forms of this oppression, in various parts of the world, particularly the Third World, into its overall, worldwide system of exploitation and oppression, and it perpetuates all this through the fundamental relations, the ongoing process of accumulation and the overall functioning of this capitalist-imperialist system.(Emphasis in original)

The “ordinary functioning” of this system has had devastating, horrifically life-draining impact on India and the rest of the world. Capitalism-imperialism has deepened and intensified the great divisions in the world between a handful of people who accumulate obscene wealth off the labor of millions, and a mass of humanity deprived of life’s most basic needs; between nationalities of people who are deeply oppressed and nationalities who benefit from that oppression; between women and men.

Why Are There So Many More Men Than Women In India?

India today is one of several countries whose population shows what scholars Siwan Anderson and Debraj Ray call in their 2012 study a “suspiciously low” ratio of women to men—94 women to 100 men. What does this one stark statistic reveal about the conditions of life and death for women in India today, and the horrific, profound oppression they face?

The ways this goes down, across boundaries of class, caste, culture, and religion, are as varied as they are horrible. Infants killed because they are female and not considered as valuable as males. Women’s “injuries” while giving birth that “appear to be indicators of violence against women.” Ultrasounds to detect female fetuses for abortion are used even in parts of India without access to modern healthcare (let alone among more “middle class” people), due to social and financial pressures to bear sons, not daughters.

Girls from poor families who die of infections, parasites, and other preventable diseases at higher rates than boys because the welfare of boys takes priority over the welfare of girls. Young women harassed, brutalized, and murdered or driven to suicide by husbands and in-laws over dowry demands. (Dowry is money, property, and gifts a bride’s family must give to the man she marries and his family, often causing her own family terrible financial hardship.) Older women prematurely dying of poor health worsened by lifetimes without access to medical care. India is one of many countries where acid attacks are a common form of violence by men against women: acid thrown in a woman’s face—blinding, disfiguring, destroying her life—is a punishment for refusing a man’s overtures, for seeking a divorce, for disobedience.

Self-immolation—suicides by women who are made so desperate by the conditions of their lives that they burn themselves to death. But murder, too: women murdered by their own husbands and in-laws—who douse the woman with gasoline and light the match (often these cruel crimes are then reported as “kitchen accidents”). In 2001 alone, more than 100,000 young Indian women were reported killed by fire, with many of these deaths tied to domestic abuse.

Anderson and Ray note there is “little doubt” that the number of deaths of women and girls is higher than they conclude, “for the simple reason that the under-reporting of deaths for women is higher than for men.”

Their conclusion is a chilling indictment of the world imperialism has created: “Indian women face the risk of excess mortality at every stage of their lives.”

In the sprawling cities of India—a country proclaimed by Western imperialist leaders and by its own leaders to be the “world’s largest democracy”—alongside and intermingled with the islands of high-tech entrepreneurship, glittering shopping malls, and heavily guarded luxury apartments, is the degrading squalor of teeming shantytowns and slums, filled with people caught in a never ending struggle to survive.

Here, in India, there is an extremely sharp coming together of different things. Increasingly, women are entering into the job market, as super-exploited wage laborers or as part of the more middle strata “techno” workforce or with higher-end skills, such as medical technicians or doctors. All this still exists within a largely feudal superstructure—where traditional patriarchal practices and ideas are enforced upon all women, even those who may have attained a high educational and professional status. Women are still subjected to arranged marriages and the patriarchal dictates of the family. Female children are profoundly devalued and there is a common practice of aborting female fetuses. This is one reason there is a disparity in the population in India, where there are 15 million more men than women. And RAPE is a part of all of it—fueled by the underlying patriarchal oppressive relations, the grotesque misogyny, the violence, and the degradation of women.

Look around the world. Any continent, any hemisphere: In Cairo, Egypt, fundamentalists and other reactionary forces have declared open season on women on the streets... in Juárez, Mexico, a state of kidnapping, rape, and murder of women has existed for over a decade with the active complicity of all the established authorities... Amnesty International reports that women who report rape to authorities in Scandanavian countries “have only a small chance of having their cases tried by a court of law. The result is that many perpetrators are never held to account for their crimes.” In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tens of thousands of women are survivors of rape that is endemic to the reactionary military forces operating in service of different capitalist-imperialist interests... Different cultures, different particulars, but a global horror.

Everywhere on earth where people yearn for and are beginning to lift their heads to fight for liberation, the question is posed: will the fight be to break all the chains of exploitation and oppression? Or to break all the chains but one—the one of women’s oppression and the outlook of patriarchy that justifies and helps perpetuate it? This will be a fundamental determinant of whether or not people will be able to break free of capitalism and begin building a revolutionary new world where humans consciously transform the world and themselves, working through all the challenges and obstacles to lay the basis for a world in which exploitation and oppression no longer exist.

The liberation of women can never come about in a capitalist society. But capitalism-imperialism has created the basis for a revolution—a communist revolution—that can put an end to all exploitation and oppression, can dig up the roots of them so the basis for them coming back in another form is gone. And to do this, this communist revolution takes up as one of its central components the emancipation of women.

A courageous, heroic uprising of women and men following the brutal rape on the bus in Mahipalpur has convulsed India, and sent tremors throughout the entire world. The righteous fury unleashed on the streets of Delhi, and the anger burning in the hearts of millions at the anguish inflicted on the woman who was trying to take a bus ride home, is a harbinger of the future and a concentration of one of the most decisive and fundamental questions of our time.

Will this fury be beaten down and suppressed?

Will it be channeled into ineffective reforms that leave the system of capitalism-imperialism grinding on unscathed, and the outlook of patriarchy and male domination fundamentally unchallenged?

Or—will it be unleashed as part of an epochal battle to liberate all women, and emancipate all humanity?



A Call to Action

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 reject this culture of rape and pornography, to resist the shaming of women who have sex and/or abortions, to wage fierce cultural and political resistance to wake others up, and to bring forward a liberating culture that celebrates the full equality and liberation of women.

Contact with your questions, comments, ideas, and interest in getting involved. Get flyers to hand out, bring a speaker to your campus, ask your toughest questions. The future of women depends on YOU!






Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

An Outpouring of Rage and a Challenge

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The eyes of the world are on India, where thousands of women, and men, have poured into the streets in outrage over the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman. It is a horror that could have happened anywhere in this world. But this time people are rising up in righteous rage. This is a moment, worldwide, when the usual, everyday workings of the capitalist-imperialist system, the way it destroys women physically and in spirit, is not being accepted as “just the way it is.”

And in fact, this is NOT the way the world needs to be. As the “Call to Action, End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women!” says: “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!” (The full Call to Action is available at

This struggle is a critical element in the need, and basis for revolution in today’s world. In the talk Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution, Bob Avakian says:

The question of the status—the oppression and the struggle for the liberation—of women is objectively coming to the forefront in today’s world and posing itself ever more profoundly and acutely.

The great need, and potential, indicated in this quote from BA poses an urgent challenge to all of us: to build and strengthen righteous protest against rape and oppression of women in every form, and to connect these struggles with BA's new synthesis of communism, and the strategy for revolution. To help readers meet that challenge, there is a special page at dedicated to updated coverage, analysis, correspondence, and providing quick access to critical material to take into the mix wherever people are stirring in outrage and protest. Find it at

Send comments and reports to or to PO Box 3486 Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654. When you send them, let us know whether or not they are for posting and whether they can be edited.




Revolution #291 January 13, 2013


A Call to Action

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


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 reject this culture of rape and pornography, to resist the shaming of women who have sex and/or abortions, to wage fierce cultural and political resistance to wake others up, and to bring forward a liberating culture that celebrates the full equality and liberation of women.

Contact with your questions, comments, ideas, and interest in getting involved. Get flyers to hand out, bring a speaker to your campus, ask your toughest questions. The future of women depends on YOU!






Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

Stop & Frisk Freedom Fighters Sentenced Today

by Carl Dix | January 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The judge who handed down the sentences in the Queens’ Stop & Frisk case got personal.  I got a $250 fine, 5 days court observation and $120 court costs.  Morgan Rhodewalt got the fine, 5 days community service and court costs.  Jamel Mims got 5 days community service and court costs.  And Bob Parsons got court costs.  1st off, we shoulda gotten off with time served—no fines and no community service.  Stop & Frisk is wrong, and we were right to protest it!

In handing down these sentences, the judge said, ‘The jury saw thru Dix’s arrogance, and Rhodewalt’s false statements.’  Of course, the jury hadn’t said any of this.  The judge was really spitting his own venom at us, and he followed that up by giving Morgan and me extra punishment.

Why did the judge say I was arrogant?  Because he feels it was arrogant of me to decide Stop & Frisk was racist, illegal and illegitimate and to call on people to join a campaign of civil disobedience to stop it!  And to come into his court and say that what we did was the right thing to do.  He probably thought my statement before sentencing was also “arrogant.”  I noted that “Ray Kelly told 3 Black legislators he wanted every Black and Latino youth to be afraid they might be stopped & frisked every morning when they leave their house.”  I added, “This was wrong, and we were right to stand up and say NO MORE to this outrage.”

Morgan’s “false statement” was about his complaint to the Civilian Complaint Review Board over the police having tightened his handcuffs so tight he lost use of his thumbs for several weeks.  Before the trial, the prosecution argued, unsuccessfully, that this complaint amounted to a confession of guilt in this case.  But the jury never saw this statement, so it’s ludicrous to say they saw thru his false statements.  (There’s something to learn from this.  The complaint to the CCRB didn’t in any way deter cops from making handcuffs too tight on people they arrest, but it did serve to give the government an added way to target the defense in this charged political case.)

There’s another wrinkle to the judge sentencing me to court observation.  He said he did this in consideration of my physical condition.  Rev. Steven Phelps, the Senior Minister at the Riverside Church had offered that we could do any community service we were sentenced to could be done thru ministries at their church.  If the only issue was coming up with community service that fit my physical condition, the Riverside Church’s offer would’ve fit the bill.  The judge was essentially saying that he was going to take this arrogant Black man and make him sit in his court room, under his thumb, and maybe teach him some humility.

That won’t happen!  Stop & Frisk is still wrong.  Mass Incarceration is still racist and illegitimate.  It is right to stand up and say NO MORE to this slow genocide strangling inner city Black and Latino communities across the country!  Watching this judge operate in court for a week won’t change any of that.


This piece was posted at the Stop Mass Incarceration Trial Blog. Check back at and for continuing coverage of the struggle against mass incarceration and updates about the trials of the freedom fighters who have been arrested putting their bodies on the line in thsi fight




Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

A Burning Question for the Revolution—and a Call to Our Readers

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Life for the vast majority of humans on this earth presents itself as an endless horror. People in this country and all over the world dream of being free of this madness and suffering and they resist in thousands of different ways. But at the same time, they are told, from all directions, and constantly, that the world we live in is the best of all possible worlds and to make revolution will only bring something worse—that the best humans can do is try to make it a little better.

A Call to Our Readers

This winter, Revolution will publish a special issue which will boldly project the truth of what was accomplished in the first socialist revolutions, refuting the lies that spew out constantly about communism, and speak to how we can do better in the next stage of communist revolution. Beginning now, volunteer to be a part of making this special Set the Record Straight issue one which is sharp and biting, an issue which speaks to people's real questions and challenges their thinking. Producing this issue will be a collective effort, drawing on the contributions of our readers. There will be substantive articles, including a major article by Raymond Lotta, an advocate of Bob Avakian's new synthesis—but this will be published together with short articles, pictures, artwork and graphics. There is a place for you in this project...let's hear from you about what people think...let's hear from you about your ideas for the issue...join in doing research and writing. And we would especially like to hear from our readers in the prisons with their thoughts on the first stage of communist revolution and ideas for this important special issue.

To volunteer: write to or to RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654 ATTN: STRS issue.

But the reality is that the world we live in is not the best of all possible worlds. Another, radically different and far better world is possible. A communist world. The first great steps towards this world were taken in the socialist revolutions in the 1900s—in the Soviet Union from 1917 until the defeat of that revolution in 1956, and in China from 1949 until the defeat of socialism in 1976. Before these revolutions were turned back people began to build societies free of exploitation that would truly provide for the needs of people. They worked to break tradition's chains and overcome centuries of oppression and oppressive divisions among the people, between those who do intellectual work and those who are locked out of that, between women and men, between different nationalities. For instance, did you know that, in the 1920s, when Black people were being lynched in the U.S., in the Soviet Union (formerly known as the "prison house of nations") pathbreaking efforts were being made to overcome inequality among nationalities—economically, politically, and culturally?

While these revolutions held power, they inspired hundreds of millions around the world, including in this country. But once the revolutions were betrayed, it gave the reactionaries a free hand to pour out endless, unchallenged distortions. From a thousand different directions, what actually happened in these societies has been and is under constant attack. Just in the last few months, two new books were published—with great fanfare and promotion—that are full of lies about what happened during the Great Leap Forward of 1958-60 in China. And these books are only the latest in a long line of articles, books, and media commentary vilifying socialism and communism.

We need to understand that while there are increasing crises, upheavals and revolts going on around the world today, people do not see, because of the big lie against communism, that there is a way to get beyond the horror and suffering of the world they live in.

Now is the time to refute the lies and set the record straight about what was achieved in the first stage of communist revolution. Now is the time to challenge the paralyzing common wisdom about communism and raise people's sights to the possibility of a far better future for humanity. Not only can we make revolution again, but because of the work of Bob Avakian in deeply summing up this experience and developing an inspiring vision of a new stage of communism, the emancipation of all humanity, we can do much better. People need to know this.

In April, Raymond Lotta, political economist, writer for Revolution, and advocate for Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism, will be debating Slavoj Žižek, philosopher and cultural theorist. So now, as the debate approaches, it is an especially important time to crack open the fight for the truth all over the place.

This winter, Revolution will publish a special issue which will boldly project the truth of what was accomplished in these socialist revolutions, call out the lies that have become the "accepted verdict" on communism in today's world, and speak to the real shortcomings of those first heroic revolutions and how we can do better in the next stage of communist revolution. At a time of continuing wars being waged in large parts of the planet, of millions struggling to live under the crushing weight of capitalism-imperialism, and an environmental emergency which threatens the very existence of life itself—and importantly, at a time of stirrings of resistance and questioning, this is a history that people need to know about. Knowing the truth that another world is possible has everything to do with lifting people's sights and with their fighting to bring a better world into being. It is critical to building the movement for revolution.

When this issue hits the streets—and goes up on the web—let's find the ways to sharply and broadly challenge large numbers of people with the truth. And let's especially hit the campuses with this issue, stirring up debate and controversy! Students and other intellectuals, and broad swaths of society, should be struggled with to join the debate over communism—its past and its future—in a whole new way.

"[O]ne of the most important focuses [of the struggle in the realm of ideas] at this time is the struggle to confront and combat the constant attacks of the experience of socialist countries, and in particular the dictatorship of the proletariat, and especially the whole concept of totalitarianism; and at the same time, while doing that, to confront and critically examine the actual experience of socialist countries and the dictatorship of the proletariat, drawing the fullest lessons from this experience—mainly and overwhelmingly the positive lessons, but also facing squarely and digging deeply into the very real shortcomings and errors."

Bob Avakian, from Dictatorship and Democracy, 
and the Socialist Transition to Communism





Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

Scenes from BA Everywhere

Week of January 9

By Name | January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


“Scenes from BA Everywhere” is a feature that gives our readers an ongoing picture of this multi-faceted campaign, and the variety of ways that funds are being raised, and the whole BA vision and framework is being brought into all corners of society. Revolution newspaper is at the hub of the BA Everywhere effort—publishing reports from those taking up the campaign. Revolution plays a pivotal role in building an organized network of people across the country coming together to make BA a household word. We urge all our readers to send us timely correspondence on what you are doing as part of this campaign.


End of Year Fundraising Events—Looking to 2013

Now Available! 
Special Revolution Supplement:

In 2013: BA Everywhere...
IMAGINE the Difference
It Could Make!

A full-color version of the special supplement on BA Everywhere that appeared in Revolution #290 is now available. Order your copies now.

20 copies, including shipping—$5
50 copies, including shipping—$13
For larger orders, contact:
    RCP Publications 

This year, as horror upon horror pile up all over the world... as the web of life itself comes under increasing and unceasing stress... a different voice, posing a real alternative—a real revolution—can and must ring out.

With new films and interviews and other new work... with bus tours of veteran revolutionaries and brand-new fighters continuing to take this all over the country... from the alienated campuses to the locked-down prisons to the communities of the oppressed... the words and work of the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian can and must hit with an impact like never before.

It is up to you to make it happen.

In the last few weeks of 2012, BA Everywhere holiday fundraising parties, dinners, and other activities were held in cities across the country—raising several thousand dollars and helping to forge a community of people working together in this campaign. Last year saw the birth of the movement to raise big money to get BA’s vision and works everywhere. But as the special pullout on BA Everywhere in the last issue of Revolution (#290) noted, “this was just the beginning”—and the year-end fundraising events and activities were important in moving forward to new breakthroughs in the new year.

The parties and dinners brought together people from different backgrounds, nationalities and generations—people who have been involved in BA Everywhere in various ways over the past year, as well those who were more recently introduced to what BA and this campaign are about. Aside from direct donations, people contributed to the events in various ways. For example, a report from Houston said, “Several people had donated hand-made jewelry, pottery, baked goods and other items which were sold as holiday gifts. One of these items was created by the husband of a woman who supports Revolution newspaper, after she introduced him to the Revolution website. As she donated, she noted, ‘now we have joined the revolution.’”

In Chicago, “Volunteers reached out to store owners for donations for the silent auction, to shops and cafes asking for donations of food or other party essentials, and to friends in the revolution to send dishes to the party.” And the hall where the party was held was donated for the evening by business owners in the heart of the Puerto Rican community.

Poets, rappers, and musicians contributed their talents to the events in some cities, giving life to the BAsics 2:8 quote that speaks to the need for a whole different culture in opposition to the putrid culture dominant in this society. In Cleveland, “Besides world music playing, Art Blakey III played electric guitar and Ronnie B of 10:08 Vision rapped ‘Windows of Pain,’ exposing the horrors of mass incarceration.” One of the performers at the Seattle fundraiser was a young man who runs a poetry magazine that features LGBTQ poets. The participating artists in the Houston “Night of Revolutionary Culture” included a clarinet, guitar and violin trio playing klezmer music—a genre associated with East European Jews and their resistance to the Nazis. In one piece, the trio improvised a chorus in between verses, chanting “BA Everywhere!”

Aside from good food, music, poetry, and much fun, these festivities included discussion, presentations, and videos around the BA Everywhere campaign—what’s been achieved, and the potential to really spread BA’s voice and works with an impact like never before. At the L.A. party, Michael Slate announced the January 11 start of the new five-part interview he did with BA—a 10-foot banner was also unfurled with this announcement.

Holiday Paty Favors - Seattle

Holiday Party Favors - Seattle

“It was a very good night,” wrote a reader from Seattle, “that really gave a sense of what we are all about and what BA Everywhere is setting out to do in a living way, while at the same time giving room for people to relate to this in their own way and from their own aspirations and desires.” In Cleveland, a woman new to this movement told everyone, “I didn’t know what communism is—now I see it as a viable solution, and Bob Avakian puts out a scientific way of looking at the solution. I kept looking for answers, and they are here.”


Various other fundraising activities took place during the holiday period, including people getting together to make and sell tamales and baked treats. Members of the Revolution Club in the ’hood in one city decided to take on a special project to raise money for sending BAsics to prisoners. On several weekends in December, people made tamales, churros, and brownies that were taken out (with BAsics palm cards and Revolution) to various places—laundromats, markets, and elsewhere in the ’hood. Although it wasn’t part of the original plan, Revolution Club members in another area of the city decided to take this up, and “soon some college students and others were taking orders and still others were collecting funds.” In one weekend alone, over $330 was raised through the sales and donations in that city.  

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.




Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

Sustain Revolution and and build the movement for revolution

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In January, we launched a pledge drive to build a base of financial sustainers large enough for Revolution and to continue to function. As early reports come in, one thing emerging is that for that pledge drive to really “achieve liftoff,” there is a need and important opportunity to sharpen people’s understanding of this pivotal question: What do this newspaper, and, have to do with making revolution?

The RCP’s “On the Strategy for Revolution” (Revolution, February 11, 2011—available in print and audio at identifies two “mainstays” that are the foundation for all the work that goes into preparing for and hastening the arrival of a chance at revolution. The first mainstay is popularizing the new synthesis of communism, the body of work, method and approach, and leadership of Bob Avakian, and how that is critical for the revolution we need. This is the source of hope and daring, on a scientific basis, for the movement for revolution.

The other mainstay is this newspaper—and now the revitalized Hot on the heels of a whole range of events: the rape scandal in India... the latest episode in the epidemic of police killings of Black and Latino youth... the role of the environmental emergency in recent natural disasters... the paper and website expose the workings of this system behind all these outrages. And how revolution and communism can solve these problems in a way that conforms to the interests—ultimately—of humanity.

But there is more: A critical and dynamic element in the role of Revolution and is to give people a living sense of how their activity fits into the big picture. In the pages of this paper, and at the website, people whose lives mean nothing to this system, who are told their only “future” is a life of misery, poverty, jail, and early death, can see themselves—and people like themselves in their city, across the whole country, and around the world—stepping forward as emancipators of humanity. They become emboldened to be part of the backbone of a movement of thousands that can lead millions in a revolutionary situation.

And as this newspaper and website circulate among the alienated intelligentsia, artists, and others, spreading the new synthesis of communism, those sections of society too can get a living sense of the movement for revolution, including their own role, but also the great potential of those in society who catch hell every day and who are vilified by this system as “dangerous criminals.”

Appreciating this sheds light on the crucial stakes of keeping Revolution and alive. So if you’re not a sustainer, start now—use the coupon on this page. If you are a sustainer now, please increase your amount.

How much should you pledge? Think about what it means for this newspaper and website to continue to function, and make your pledge commensurate with that: $10 for those in desperate circumstances. For others: $25, $50, and for Revolution and to continue—people with the resources to do so will have to pledge $500 per month.

Send us your pledge, your insights, your experience, and your suggestions.





Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

Readers Write on Sustainer Pledge Drive

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader and current sustainer: I completely agree that there is nothing out there like Revolution newspaper and feel very distressed to learn about the financial difficulties the paper is experiencing. As you say, it would be a disaster if this paper could not continue. Why do I say this? I have been a supporter and fellow traveler for many years. Living under this hellish system, which is responsible for so much misery to people here and all over the world, is a hard thing to do when you know there is a better way and things don’t have to be this way forever. The weight of this system and all other reactionary systems and ideologies goes a long way in crushing people’s spirit and strivings for another world. Without this paper and the RCP and its chairman, Bob Avakian, there would be no guiding light and real alternative to the ugliness that’s out here in all its many forms... For myself, I plan to increase the amount I give per month. Just think about our prospects for achieving a world worth living in without this paper and let this guide your decision.


Correspondence on the Revolution pledge drive: As the new year was approaching, three of us got together for tea and to talk about the emergency funding crisis facing Revolution. We started our get-together by reading through the call entitled “A Message to Our Readers: THIS PAPER, AND REVCOM.US, CANNOT CONTINUE WITHOUT YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT!” (December 23, 2012). It was refreshing and enriching to walk thru the unique role of this newspaper and website being the “hub and pivot of a movement for revolution—a way that that movement gets guidance, shares experiences, and keeps track of ‘where we are in the game’ in terms of preparing for, while hastening the moment when a real chance at a successful revolution emerges.”

Sometimes, we lose sight of the dynamics involved here because we are working intensely on doing what we are doing. Just to step back for a moment—we can see that we are involved in a very active and changing the world process that links people up not only within the U.S. but worldwide, and these links being forged actually move things closer to actually being able to win a revolution when that time emerges. This is in sharp contrast to the notion that the role of the newspaper is to educate people one by one for the end goal of absorbing knowledge and self-edification.

One of us made the observation that there are a variety of leftist or progressive publications that do provide information that is hidden from the public eye—but Revolution excavates not only what has been hidden, but links it to the workings of a capitalist-imperialist system worldwide and points to revolution being the solution—and this is the case even for those who are not convinced of the need for that kind of radical change.  He reflected on how frustrated he feels about people falling for the “Obamalade” for another four years and how relentless Revolution has been about repeatedly exposing this—referring to the article about the “Six Ways That Obama Has Been Worse Than Bush” (March 25, 2012). His conclusion was that we just need to just keep at it—again and again—to peel off those illusions. But how are we going to “keep at it” if this paper cannot continue to come out?!?

We got into the sober and accurate assessment of the extreme financial crisis expressed in this article. We talked about the concretes of what is required to keep producing this newspaper—perhaps obvious to some people, but nonetheless needed to be said. Then, we got busy with percolating ideas to change this situation. Various ideas were put on the table: someone mentioned how a progressive radio station in this area used to sponsor a big one- or two-day flea market in one of the supermarket parking lots, an event where people broadly were asked to contribute items and also come to purchase items; another idea came up about producing a pay-per-view podcast featuring a Revolution reporter on a certain topic that has been covered in the newspaper, or it can be something as simple as just reading one of the articles from Revolution.

One of us committed to double her sustainer amount. Someone else, an artist, reached up on his bookshelf and pulled down a book with a shiny colored cover with 20 pages or so of photographs of artwork from an artist. We looked through this book and he suggested the idea of making such a book that would be a kind of gallery of photos that have been in Revolution along with the captions. He said that selling this gallery book would not only be a way to raise funds but to promote the print edition and website. We discussed the steps involved in doing this, but resolved that this project is a good one to pursue and involve other people. And just for starters—we perused through some old printed issues and the website for photos and WOW, what a colorful and vivid array of visual images of reality—of human experience, depth of anguish, joy, agony, and life comes through! So this is a project we can take on.




Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty, or How a People Lose Their Humanity

by Annie Day | January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


I was shaking as I walked out of Zero Dark Thirty, the new film about the CIA's 10-year search for Osama bin Laden. Shaking and queasy. Wanting to hear from others in the audience, I asked people questions as they streamed out... What did they think of the film? Overwhelmingly, people answered positively... with smiles. Did they think the film upheld or condemned torture? Some answered that it didn't take a stand, just showed the facts. But many said they felt it upheld torture, that it portrayed it as essential to Osama Bin Laden's capture. And what did they think of torture? While a couple people answered that they supported it outright, many said they didn't think it was right, that America shouldn't use torture. So how did they feel about liking a film that upholds something they would otherwise find deplorable? Several people said it's just a movie and shouldn't be taken so seriously. One woman said she appreciated coming to understand, from the CIA's perspective, why they used torture. And far too often, the answer was, "It's complicated."

And here you have the point of this highly ideological film: to make acceptable, or perhaps "complicated," to people who consider themselves progressive the acts of this empire, to celebrate revenge against "America's enemies," to get you to sympathize with the criminal monsters who are carrying out these acts and to cheer for the "protection of the homeland," no matter the price. "For god and country," says the Navy SEAL after killing Osama bin Laden.

While there has been some controversy about the film from different quarters, and a too small handful of sharp critics, it's getting rave reviews from a whole range of liberal journalists. It's already being nominated for awards, and there is buzz about Oscar nominations.

* * * * *

Zero Dark Thirty begins with harrowing audio recordings from people inside the World Trade Center as it's on fire and about to collapse.

It portrays the CIA in a heroic fight to get the bad guys, with one agent in particular, Maya (played by Jessica Chastain), with enough grit and determination to see it through. After hearing the voices from 9/11, we are transported to a CIA black site where a detainee is being tortured, strapped up by the arms. The torturer in charge, Dan (played by Jason Clarke), explains to Maya that the detainee "has to learn how helpless he is." And then we watch as he is thrown to the ground and waterboarded.

And what is waterboarding, exactly?

A towel is thrown over the man's face and a jug of water poured directly into his throat without pause. This makes the tortured feel as if they are drowning to death, suffocation by water. New York magazine quoted a doctor who works with survivors of torture: "Some victims were still traumatized years later." One patient he described couldn't take showers, and panicked when it rained. "The fear of being killed is a terrifying experience."

But if you are watching Zero Dark Thirty, and have begun to feel uncomfortable, you are reminded that the person that this is happening to helped to "murder 3,000 people" on September 11. "Your Jihad is over, this is what defeat looks like," says Dan. No need for concern, these are the just deserts. And if the detainee wanted it to stop, he could just give Dan the information he wants.

It doesn't stop there. There is sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of dog collars, humiliation and shoving a man into a tiny box where you can hear only his screams.

There has been a great deal of controversy about whether the film shows a connection between this torture and the supposed victory in capturing Osama bin Laden (including from sections of the bourgeoisie who want to disassociate themselves from the Bush regime while furthering his policies with a different face). But if you watch the actual film, it is undeniable. The way the story line goes, the detainees give information because they've been tortured. While the film portrays the first detainee we witness being tortured only giving the needed information over a quiet lunch, it is the fear of being tortured again that gets him to speak. Another detainee is told he can stay imprisoned in Pakistan or be sent to Israel. "I have no wish to be tortured. Ask me a question, I'll answer."

And what do the filmmakers say? Director Kathryn Bigelow said: "We depicted a variety of controversial practices and intelligence methods that were used in the name of finding bin Laden. The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes."

So torture, what she calls an "intelligence method," wasn't solely responsible for bin Laden's capture, it was partially responsible. Jessica Chastain admitted that there was a link made in the film to the needed information and the torture to get it, but went on that this was a "murky, gray area we're still learning about."

And once again we find ourselves feeling that "it's complicated."

Bullshit! There is nothing complicated about torture.

To quote from Alan Goodman in Revolution newspaper: "Let's make it plain: torture is, literally and in essence, a crime against humanity. Like rape, it is a systematic attempt to violently degrade people and rob them of their very humanity. Any government which not only tolerates such things but which, from its highest offices, justifies and insists on them as 'instruments of policy'...  any government which does not, once this has been exposed, prosecute the perpetrators but instead provides them in advance with immunity...reveals itself as a system that requires such crimes, and such criminals, for its functioning. Any people that does not resist such crimes, and demand prosecution of the torturers and, even more so, those who formulated the policy at the highest levels, reveals themselves to be complicit in those crimes. And in passively allowing the humanity of others to be degraded and attacked, they lose their own." ("The Torture Memos ...  And the Need for Justice," Revolution, May 17, 2009, online at

To go along with this, to obfuscate this with a haze of "complexity," is to let great crimes take place in your name.

Who the Hell Is the CIA?

But there is a larger question that has to be asked about the whole premise and point of the film. Who the hell is the CIA anyway? The filmmakers have tried to argue that this is a film that doesn't take a stand, they're just showing the facts.

Again, bullshit!

In an interview, Kathryn Bigelow said: "I think it was important to humanize the hunt... These are people who have sacrificed a great deal, live in arduous conditions, risk their life in some cases for our safety. So I think it's an interesting portrait of dedication." Or elsewhere, Bigelow has said: "at the heart of this story is a woman with tenacity, dedication and courage." Chastain gushed about the character she played: "She's such a bad-ass, capable and strong, standing on her own, it was an honor to play her." And she later called her character a hero.

Let's get real. The CIA is a nest of spies and murderers who are responsible for crimes throughout history—assassinations, fomenting coups, torturing people in the sickest of ways and other crimes throughout the globe... in the service of U.S. imperialism.

In 1953, working with the British, the CIA engineered a coup against Iran's elected president, Mohammad Mossadegh, in part because he threatened U.S. and British oil interests. They then went on to install the Shah of Iran who created a special police force which tortured people for decades. What was heroic about that? In 1960, the CIA helped stage a coup in the Congo to get rid of the nationalist government headed by Patrice Lumumba, which came to power after decades of colonial rule. With the CIA's assistance, Lumumba was murdered by Mobutu Sese Seko, who brutally presided over the newly named Zaire as a U.S. neocolony, violently crushing attempts to build rebel movements. What was heroic about that? In 1965 in Indonesia, as a military regime headed by General Suharto came to power in a CIA-engineered coup, hundreds of thousands of people (up to a million according to some accounts) were massacred—communists and people accused of being communists. What was heroic about that? On a different September 11, in 1973, the CIA orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile by the fascist general Pinochet. Mainstream sources document the death of some 3,000 people at the hands of Pinochet, and Chilean revolutionaries have said that 30,000 people were killed. Many more were tortured or forced into exile during Pinochet's 17-year rule. Again I ask, what was heroic about that? And I could keep going... Vietnam, Laos, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Nicaragua...

Or look at the CIA in relation to Afghanistan and how Osama bin Laden got his start in the first place:

The fact is that the U.S., and the CIA's "work" in particular, had everything to do with the growth of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the whole region. In 1979, the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The Soviet Union at the time was a revisionist (that is, a phony "communist") country, an imperialist superpower that was seriously contending with the U.S. for dominance in many parts of the world. The U.S. deliberately provoked the invasion of Afghanistan, in order to (in the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security advisor to then-President Jimmy Carter) give the Soviet Union "its Vietnam War."

Then through the 1980s, the CIA, in partnership with the reactionary regimes in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, carried out a massive covert war in Afghanistan by funneling more than $3 billion in arms and aid to the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist fighters. The U.S. strategy was to make the war much longer and more violent, destructive, and costly for the Soviets. By the time the Soviets were forced to withdraw in 1989, more than a million Afghans had been killed and one-third of its population driven into refugee camps. This CIA-led insurgency against America's imperialist rivals is where Osama bin Laden got his start. This is where the seeds of al Qaeda and the Taliban were first sown.

The current U.S. war in Afghanistan has never been simply a response to 9/11. The 2001 invasion grew out of a decade of U.S. planning before 9/11 aimed at seizing greater initiative and hegemony in the Middle East and Central Asia. In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union (in which the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan was a big factor), the U.S. imperialists faced a new obstacle in dominating this crucial region of the world—the very same Islamic fundamentalists that the U.S. had built up in the 1980s. The Taliban is a reactionary force that brings down horror on the people. But that is not why the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001—and why Obama is now greatly expanding that war. And of the two opposing reactionary forces, U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism, the U.S. has done—and is doing—much greater harm in the world, as even the partial list above of CIA crimes shows. ("CIA's Decades of Criminal Service," Revolution, February 7, 2010, online at

There is nothing to uphold about any of this! And let's be clear: this is not about "our safety"—this is about the extension and defense of the American empire. But even if it were about the safety of American lives, letting all this go down would be wrong and immoral. It would be to make a devil's bargain: "You can go do what you do to the people of the world, just keep me safe and we'll not only go along with it, we will cheer." No! As Bob Avakian has said, "American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives." (BAsics 5:7)

CIA "Heroes" Raining Death From the Sky

In a quickly passing moment in the film, we watch Maya reviewing a drone strike. Watching a missile fired from afar. Later in the film, the CIA station chief in Pakistan, Joseph Bradley (played by Kyle Chandler), has to be sent back to the U.S. because he's been named in a lawsuit filed by the family of a victim of a drone strike. We see protesters but know nothing about what's happened or really why they're protesting. "The ISI [the Pakistani intelligence agency] fucked you," says Maya, painting the station chief as the victim.

But what's the real story here?

A Pakistani journalist sued the CIA station chief because his brother and son, both government employees, were killed in a CIA drone strike on their home in North Waziristan in December 2009. No warning, no due process, the CIA rained death from the skies. Thousands of people have been killed in these drone strikes, hundreds of civilians among them, including children.

But the film does not tell this story. This is not about the blood on the ground, the tears of the children who lost their parents, the lives of the people who lost limbs... this is about "the heroes on the ground" who are perpetrating these crimes.

And I have to say here that the filmmakers can't have it both ways. Bigelow said the film does not uphold torture, they are just showing what happened, that it "doesn't have an agenda and it doesn't judge." Bullshit! While it can actually be important to show what happened, this film is not doing so to expose the crimes. If you call the criminals perpetrating torture and war crimes "heroes" who sacrifice on our behalf, what are you saying about the acts they are committing?!

History Did Not Begin With September 11

While this film begins with the events of September 11, 2001, and this is the only context provided for the film, this is not where history began. In a dramatic speech in the film, one CIA official says, "They attacked us on land in '98, by sea in 2000, and by air in 2001. They murdered 3,000 of our citizens in cold blood. Your job is to bring me people to kill."

This is the logic of a wounded conqueror, the top-of-the-heap gangsterism—you poke me in the eye, I have to burn down your whole village. The death of 3,000 people is a genuine horror, but the powers-that-be were not horrified at the loss of human life. That number means nothing to people who preside over the deaths of many hundreds of thousands times more than that as part of the normal workings of their system worldwide.

And this is where the entire framework of the film has it all wrong. The "war on terror" is a war for empire. And understanding this from Bob Avakian is key to understanding the actual terms:

What we see in contention here with Jihad on the one hand and McWorld/McCrusade on the other hand, are historically outmoded strata among colonized and oppressed humanity up against historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system. These two reactionary poles reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. If you side with either of these "outmodeds," you end up strengthening both.

While this is a very important formulation and is crucial to understanding much of the dynamics driving things in the world in this period, at the same time we do have to be clear about which of these "historically outmodeds" has done the greater damage and poses the greater threat to humanity: It is the historically outmoded ruling strata of the imperialist system, and in particular the U.S. imperialists.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:28

The film's website says this is "the story of history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man." That this can be said with a straight face shows the depth of delusions the filmmakers and anyone who can take this seriously have fallen into. Osama bin Laden was a reactionary, but in a million years he couldn't have even dreamed of massacring people on the scale of the U.S. government—not only in U.S. history but even in just the last 10 years.

Since 2001, in Afghanistan, thousands of civilians have been killed directly by U.S.-led invasion and occupation forces. In the war on Iraq beginning in 2003, more than 100,000 civilians have been killed and over four million people have been driven from their homes. Just think of those numbers of human lives—on top of a legacy of genocide, slavery, coups, assassinations, the training of death squads around the world, and the use of nuclear weapons that murdered hundreds of thousands in an instant, and mutilated millions more. This has been done in cold blood and without remorse. Through a combination of the first war on Iraq in 1991 and the 10 years of sanctions that followed, a million people were killed, including half a million children. Then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright defended this. In a 60 Minutes interview, Albright was asked by Lesley Stahl, "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" And Albright replied, "We think the price is worth it." (The video of this interview can be seen online at YouTube—search for "Albright" and "Stahl.")

Since World War 2, the U.S.—through its wars, proxy wars, and military interventions—has directly or indirectly caused the deaths of at least 10 million people: three million in the wars in Korea and in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia; at least two million in Iraq (including the sanctions and the invasions); a million in Indonesia; six million in the Congo (with the past 10 years of war in which the U.S. has been complicit through its ties to Kagame of Rwanda); hundreds of thousands in Mozambique and Angola (through sponsoring Renamo and Unita); 200,000 in Guatemala; 20,000 in Nicaragua; 75,000 in El Salvador... etc, etc.

Again, the "world's most dangerous man"?! Whoever Osama bin Laden was, this is a scale on which he couldn't have even dreamed of functioning.

Obama—Furthering and Heightening the Bush Program

There is an implicit criticism in the film that Obama ended the detainee and torture program, and that he wasn't moving fast enough to OK the raid on bin Laden's compound.

Obama at one point in the film says: "America does not torture." Later in the film, the CIA analysts are briefing Obama's advisors on what they've found and the likelihood of this being where bin Laden is hiding. Maya is shown as dogged and tenacious, counting down the days they've known about this compound and not gone after it. The audience is supposed to be frustrated when the president's advisor says, "The president is a thoughtful, analytical guy. He needs proof."

The answer provided in the previous scene: "You know we lost the ability to prove that when we lost the detainee program—who the hell am I supposed to ask: some guy in Gitmo who is all lawyered up?"

Think about this—some guy being held in a military prison in Guantánamo Bay who is "all lawyered up."

Goddamn those basic rights like the right to an attorney. They're getting in the way of our ability to strip anyone of their legal rights, they're a hassle and obstacles to the "heroes on the ground."

But what's the story with "Gitmo" anyway?

The U.S. prison at Guantánamo was set up in 2002 explicitly to avoid U.S. laws that give some basic rights to prisoners. More than 782 men were brought there from around the world, a majority of them seized in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of U.S. bounties of up to $25,000. Most of these men, the U.S. government admitted, had NO role in fighting the U.S. Until 2004 they had not even the right to be told why they were held or have legal representation. The Bush regime used "enhanced" interrogation, i.e., torture, including waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and physical, psychological and sexual abuse for years. There are still 166 prisoners there, most of whom were cleared several years ago to leave, under indefinite detention without trial. And they are still being tortured—with solitary confinement and routine force feedings.

But even beyond this, what are Obama's actual "standards of proof"? They are still—as they were under Bush—what is seen to be in the interests of American empire. For example, in targeting a whole region for drone strikes, Obama's official policy is that if you are a young man who is killed by one of these missiles, you are counted as an insurgent unless after you are dead someone can come forward and prove that you're innocent.

While Obama has made some cosmetic changes, he has not stopped the systematic use of torture in the basic functioning of the U.S.' repressive apparatus. In the U.S. itself, there are tens of thousands of prisoners (though no one knows the exact number) kept in solitary confinement, robbed of human contact, and suffering full sensory deprivation and violent "cell extractions," practiced regularly. By any moral or legal standard, this constitutes torture. Obama decriminalized and codified torture when he refused to prosecute those responsible for this during the Bush regime, letting war criminals off.

At the U.S. air base in Bagram, Afghanistan, Obama not only expanded the prison, he has fought to prevent detainees from having any access to lawyers or due process. This prison is considered far worse than Guantánamo. Tina Foster, a human rights lawyer, said: "Our clients who have been released more recently report exposure to extreme temperatures, sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation and other torture that is still ongoing. Bagram has always been a torture chamber..." Hundreds of people remain detained without charge, trial or judicial review—some having been held for almost ten years. The CIA, of course, also detains and tortures people at secret prisons throughout the world, and maintains a program of rendition, in which they send prisoners to other nations to be tortured.

This is part of the overall ways Obama has furthered and heightened the Bush program: using drone strikes eight times more than Bush, continuing and legalizing warrantless wiretaps, legalizing indefinite detention without due process based on executive say-so, covering up the massacres of civilians and holding Bradley Manning, a prisoner of conscience, in jail in conditions that are internationally recognized as torture. And even worse, those who opposed these same crimes under Bush have fallen into silent passivity or even loud celebration.

Do Not Stand By in Complicit Silence

Zero Dark Thirty is a terribly harmful film. It upholds—and trains people in—an America-first fanatical get-the-bad-guy-at-any-cost patriotism. It celebrates ignorance of the crimes of this government and tremendous and violent arrogance. It is a film that celebrates imperial revenge.

After Maya's colleague is killed by a suicide bomber, she says, "I'm going to kill everyone involved in that op and then I'm going to kill Osama bin Laden." She calls herself a "motherfucker" and you're supposed to cheer. Someone who won't take shit, America first and fuck the rest, we're not fucking around with that namby-pamby human rights bullshit, we're coming after "America's enemies."

Think I'm exaggerating?

The official website of the movie has a link to a video game, "Medal of Honor Warfighter," with a special "Zero Dark Thirty" edition advertising the ability to "join the greatest manhunt in history." It goes on to say that "Medal of Honor Warfighter allows players to step into the boots of the soldiers who led the hunt for Bin Laden and takes you to the locations where only the most elite dare enter." They advertise one game where you can "roam the treacherous hills and navigate the unforgivable terrain to take down enemies and achieve victory."

This from a film where you never meet anyone from the countries the CIA is operating in who is not some form of evil incarnate. In fact, the only favorable Muslim character in the film is a CIA agent in a DC office.

All this calls to mind the glee and titillation of the Roman coliseums where the audience could watch torture and torment as a spectacle. Or to draw on a more recent, if fictional, example, the sick excitement of those in the capital watching "the hunger games."

This is not, as some of the people I spoke to after seeing the movie said, "just a film that shouldn't be taken so seriously." Bullshit! Films have content. And while one shouldn't be narrow or reductionist about art and culture, it can play a big role in shaping people. A friend I saw it with said they were afraid of what this movie could turn people into. And they are right to be afraid.

To be complicit in the face of war crimes, all one has to do is nothing. That is what hiding in false "complexity" allows. This is wrong and immoral. The actions of the U.S. over the last 10 years, and beyond, need to be called out and resisted, not celebrated. People need critical thinking, not blind allegiance.

We need to stand on principle, give voice to and make common cause with the people of the world in opposition to the crimes our government is committing in our name. We don't need sycophants to a system of brutality, exploitation and murder.

Do not become numb to the crimes of your government because it is unpleasant to confront. Do not stand by in complicit silence or enthusiastic cheers while the humanity and rights of others are systematically stripped away. Wake up, speak out, stand up.





Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

South Africa Then and Now
Still in the Grip of Capitalism-Imperialism

Suppression of Protest

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |



South Africa

Photo: AP

For nearly 50 years in South Africa, until 1994, the apartheid system was in effect. A wealthy minority of white settlers held all political power and used it to rob the land, labor and resources of the country, enriching European and U.S. imperialism, while the great majority of black people were segregated, denied any human rights or respect, and lived in deep poverty. Any resistance to this setup was met with brutal repression. Shown here, in the township of Sharpeville in March 1960, police opened fire on a black protest, killing or wounding hundreds. This was the beginning of the movement that eventually brought down the apartheid system.



South Africa

Photo: AP

The fall of the apartheid system did not end the domination of capitalism-imperialism over the land and people of South Africa—the great majority of black people are still exploited, oppressed and powerless, and the role of the police is still to keep them that way. In 2012 major strikes broke out at platinum mines belonging to the British mining giant, Lonmin. On August 16, South African police attacked unarmed miners, killing 34 of them, including many executed at close range, and then attempted to charge the survivors with the deaths of their comrades.

Above: police move in on the men they have just killed.




Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

In a world that cries out for fundamental change...

On the History of and Prospects for Communist Revolution

April 15, 2013 New York City

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Many people see Slavoj Žižek as the preeminent radical thinker of our day. Žižek states that we are “living in end times” that demand the “full reaffirmation of the Idea of communism.” Raymond Lotta, an advocate for Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism, argues that Žižek in fact promotes anticommunism. Žižek declares that the first communist revolutions, in the Soviet Union and China, were failures and closes the door on the emancipation of humanity by attacking Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Contrary to Žižek, these revolutions were tremendously liberatory; and with this new synthesis, we can go further and do better.

Lotta has called for a public debate. Žižek has now accepted.

Be Part of Making This Happen.
Planning meetings
are taking place in New York City.

Contact Revolution Books–NY
146 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001

And the debate is on: Monday, April 15, 2013 in New York City. See the YouTube at:

The world is a horror: accelerating environmental emergency... the objectification and degradation of women, half of humanity... endless wars for empire... 25,000 children dying each and every day of preventable disease and malnutrition. Is there a way out of these horrors? Can there be a radically different and better world? This is the backdrop for this debate on the history of and prospects for communism.

The questions in play are of enormous consequence. What are the lessons and legacy of the socialist revolutions of the 20th century? Can there be a viable and liberatory economic, social, and political alternative to capitalism? What is the potential, and strategy, for revolution in today’s world? At its heart, this debate is about the desirability, the possibility, and pathways for emancipation in a world that cries out for fundamental change—versus leaving the world as it is.

There are big stakes here. We are calling on you to be part of making this debate happen. This debate needs all kinds of creative energies for building, promoting and drawing people into its intellectual swirl—on campuses, among activists, artists, basic people, prisoners, and in the social media. These are things we would like to talk to you about, and to get your thoughts about.


Slavoj Žižek

Slavoj Žižek is the well-known philosopher and cultural critic. His books include In Defense of Lost Causes, Living in the End Times, In the Year of Dreaming Dangerously, and many other titles. He teaches at Birbeck College in London and the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Raymond Lotta Raymond Lotta advocates for
Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism. He writes for Revolution newspaper, is the author of America in Decline, and directs the website His polemic against Slavoj Žižek is available here.






Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

From a Prisoner

On BA’s Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following is a recent letter from a Texas prisoner.

Revolutionary Communist Party:

Communism and Jeffersonian DemocracyGreetings and Respects! You sent me a book awhile back entitled Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy. I initially began reading it, but it didn’t really ‘grip’ me, so I shot it to a neighbor to check out while I continued my other studies. Recently I got back into it and after about the 12th page literally could not put it down. I would try and set it aside so as to focus on other things, but noticed my thoughts and mind were absorbed on the topics addressed which compelled me to constantly re-open the book to continue reading and thinking deeply on what was said.

I enjoy the fact that it addresses and enlightens us to the actual, logical motives of the forces in power. The world is not as chaotic and illogical as it, at times, appears to be. I’m beginning to understand, through the aid of your educational materials, that there is a rational explanation for almost everything that happens and that people are driven and moved by certain ideals and objectives.

This being the case, I see it is also possible for other people, such as we communists, to be driven and moved by other, higher ideals and objectives. Ideals that transcend the acquisition of a never-ending supply of shiny beads and material wealth. Ideals that end not in the exaltation of one people over another as a means of establishing personal worth. I also see that if we can be moved by such ideals, how it becomes possible for masses driven by such principles to impact the world at large in the same manner as, if not more so, [than] the current masses are moved into fulfilling the will of the bourgeoisie.

Too many of us have been like the jack-ass on the cartoons. Never seeing beyond the carrot on the stick that the bourgeois dangles before our eyes. Taught and conditioned to idolize and strive for the very things that the current powers have a monopoly of control over. And, in effect, being made to move and march in any direction they may choose to influence us to move. (The example about the inner city youth who are irrationally obsessed with expensive rims was a perfect illustration of the way “wants and needs are fundamentally shaped by the prevailing production and social relations and by the superstructure that...serves... [them]” p.69).

We are literally shackled and enslaved by the very desires that we submitted ourselves to when they offered them for us to adopt as our own. I can see how it is possible to reject everything they have to offer, and how, in the end, they have absolutely nothing to shape and control us with. Nothing, that is, except brute force. If there ever comes a time where masses of us begin to openly disdain the wealth, and material things that move them, and to a lesser extent, move us, I’m sure the mask will finally be ripped off this beast for what it is. And the world will see it and know; the myth of their legitimacy will forever be shattered.

Anyways—thanks for the eye-opening literature and a new, more comprehensive and ever expanding way in which I can view the world in which I live. And also thanks for the viable, logical alternative that actually makes some sort of sense in this senseless world. “Money may make the world spin—for now—but it doesn’t have to continue being the force that makes it spin.”

Revolutionary Regards,




Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

Check It Out: Django Unchained

by Li Onesto | January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


I went to see the movie Django Unchained the other night and really want to encourage people to check it out. As a lot of people probably know, it’s written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and stars Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson. It takes place right before the Civil War in the Deep South and follows the story of a freed slave named Django, played by Foxx, who hooks up with a bounty hunter, played by Waltz. Django sets out to rescue his wife who’s owned by a slave owner played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

There’s a lot to say about this movie, to critique, both artistically and politically, and there’s much controversy. But I’m not going to get into that here. More what I want to speak to is the positive impact this movie is having in how it’s bringing out the ugly truth of just how horrific slavery was in this country.

In 2007, Tarantino said he wanted “to do movies that deal with America’s horrible past with slavery and stuff but do them like spaghetti westerns, not like big issue movies. I want to do them like they’re genre films, but they deal with everything that America has never dealt with because it’s ashamed of it, and other countries don’t really deal with because they don’t feel they have the right to.” [The Telegraph, April 27, 2007]

And at the first screening of Django Unchained in the United Kingdom, Tarantino said, “We all intellectually ‘know’ the brutality and inhumanity of slavery, but after you do the research it’s no longer intellectual any more, no longer just historical record—you feel it in your bones. It makes you angry, and want to do something.... I’m here to tell you, that however bad things get in the movie, a lot worse shit actually happened. When slave narratives are done on film, they tend to be historical with a capital H, with an arm’s-length quality to them. I wanted to break that history-under-glass aspect, I wanted to throw a rock through that glass and shatter it for all times, and take you into it. I did a lot of research particularly in how the business of slavery worked, and what exactly was the social breakdown inside a plantation: the white families that owned the houses, the black servants who worked inside the house, the black servants that were in the fields, and the white overseers and workers that were hired to work there.” (Guardian, December 7, 2012)

In fact, the movie does show the utter horror and immorality of slavery... as well as the bravery of slaves who fought to keep their humanity.

Just think about it. This year, one of the “holiday movies” that millions of people, of all nationalities, went to see was a film about slavery (it came in #2 after The Hobbit). And in this way, aside from being entertaining, this movie is educating, provoking and setting off lots of controversy and discussion about a whole chapter in U.S. history that needs to be studied, discussed, and debated.

I heard one discussion on NPR where they played a clip of an interview with Tarantino where he talked about how there are two kinds of violence in the movie—the violence of the slave owners against the slaves which was horrific; and the retributive violence of the slaves against the slave owners, which Tarantino said was “cool.” This set off a whole discussion on NPR about the moral questions involved in these “two kinds of violence.” I thought, if this movie is provoking this kind of discussion, that’s pretty cool.

Back in September, before the film came out, Jamie Foxx told Jimmy Kimmel, “This movie is really going to land heavy. It’s the first Western that acknowledges slavery. In dealing with the slavery aspect of it, for Black Americans—for our education on what it is—it’s really going to land sincere.”

Thirty-six years ago a TV series called Roots was the most watched TV series in the history of U.S. television. 130 to 140 million people watched the series, including many white people. The finale, watched by 100 million people, still stands as the third-highest-rated U.S. television program ever. In 2003, Bob Avakian wrote:

Roots was the history of a Black family, but it was also much more than that—it touched on the history of Black people in America as a whole. The story went back to Africa and the enslavement of people there and their forced transport to America, and it came all the way up into a period not far from the present day. And I remember the stories that comrades would tell of people working in factories or other work places, the white people in particular, who would be going to Black people they worked with and saying, ‘I had no idea about this’—which says something about the educational system and what the bourgeoisie wants people to know and not know. ‘This’ referred to even basic level things, like the fact that Black people’s names go back to the names of the slavemasters who owned their ancestors, and what that actually represents in human terms. The fact that little kids would get sold to another slave owner, ripped away from their mothers and sold at 8, 9 years old. White people in particular would say, ‘You know, I had no idea’ and they would be very moved by this. This was a very transformative thing, to use that phrase, in terms of the consciousness of millions of people in the U.S., including and in particular a lot of white people who had never understood this.” [From: Reaching for the Heights and Flying Without a Safety Net, Part 2: “We Want State Power—and We Should Want It,” Revolutionary Worker #1197, May 4, 2003]

To be clear here, I’m not comparing Django Unchained to Roots. But what I’m pointing to is the positive phenomenon of a big cultural event that puts on view the barbarous reality of slavery in this country. Many people are in fact ignorant of this history or don’t really grasp the deep reality of what it meant. It’s not their fault—the powers-that-be work hard to teach a different, whitewashed view of U.S. history, to cover over the basic fact that the origins of the U.S. are rooted in slavery and genocide. But people really need to know this history in all its ugliness and its continuing effects on the whole fabric of U.S. society.

In this light, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is a contribution, and, in my opinion, an artistic and entertaining one at that.

* * * * *

Available at:

The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need,
Revolution, Special Issue (#144, October 5, 2008)


Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy
by Bob Avakian
(RCP Publications, 2008)
Bob Avakian takes on the ideals of Jeffersonianism, and convincingly locates even its “loftiest aspirations” in social relations of exploitation and oppression—the social relations out of which those ideals grew, and which they served and continue to serve. (Online and available as a pamphlet. To order: send check or money order for $6.50 to RCP Publications, P.O. Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654-0486. Includes shipping)


“The Oppression of Black People & The Revolutionary Struggle To End All Oppression,”
a series of excerpts from writings and talks by Bob Avakian published in Revolution during Black History Month, February 2007.




Revolution #291 January 13, 2013

Prisoners and Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund Thank Donors

January 13, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


NOTE: Your contribution to PRLF can now be tax-deductible. (See below)

“last years hunger strike it was a life changing experience for me. . . combined with your newspaper has really opened my eyes. . .”


I would like to thank you for the work you do and newspaper you send us in prison. I am currently in XX Shu. I have received your copy of BAsics and in this latest issue of [Revolution (#282)] you printed the call for peace from the prisoner’s. I and everybody around me participated in last years hunger strike it was a life changing experience for me. Combined with your newspaper has really opened my eyes to the injustice of this country and the need for revolution... I would like to learn more about Bob Avakian and any books or book list you could send me will be highly Appreciated.

—Prisoner from California

A huge thank you to everyone who has donated to PRLF from all the prisoners in 43 states who get literature from PRLF, like Revolution newspaper and BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, and from those with whom they share their literature.  In the last few weeks donors have taken responsibility for renewing all the Revolution subscriptions in South Carolina prisons, all subscriptions in one Texas prison, and just recently, all subscriptions for the approximately 50 prisoners at California's Pelican Bay State Prison. Pelican Bay is the notorious hellhole where a core of prisoners of all nationalities called for two statewide hunger strikes in 2011, and issued the call for peace referred to in the letter to the right. Which state or prison would you like to adopt?

$105 will renew all Revolution newspaper subscriptions to one Florida prison for one year
$210 will renew all Revolution newspaper subscriptions to one New York prison for one year
$350 will renew all Revolution newspaper subscriptions to all prisoners in Washington state and Alaska for one year
$455 will renew all Revolution newspaper subscriptions to all prisoners in Alabama for one year

Also thanks to many donors, funds were recently raised for more than 65 copies of BAsics. Now donations for 685 more books are needed to reach the total goal of 2,000 copies of BAsics for prisoners.

$10 will send one copy of BAsics to one prisoner, including shipping
$500 will send 50 copies of BAsics to prisoners across the country



Tax-deductible donations can be made online at or by check/money order, payable to PRLF/AFGJ, and mailed to PRLF

• • •

Regular (non-tax-deductible) donations can be made online at or by check/money order, payable to PRLF, and mailed to PRLF:

PRLF 1321 N. Milwaukee Ave #407, Chicago, IL 60622

Volunteer with or contact PRLF: 773.960.6952,

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

This rare photo from inside the prison walls shows prisoners demonstrating unity and holding a copy of Revolution (previously published as “The Revolutionary Worker.”)