Revolution #309, July 7, 2013 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

The Stakes of the Trayvon Martin Case... and the Need to SEIZE THE TIME!

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African-American, walking home at 7:30 pm with a can of ice tea and a bag of candy. George Zimmerman had never talked to Trayvon Martin, never met Trayvon Martin, knew nothing about Trayvon Martin, never even heard of him. But nevertheless this society—this system—had trained George Zimmerman to “know” and to say that Trayvon Martin was “suspicious” and more—that Trayvon Martin was a "fucking punk...a fucking asshole" who “always gets away with it.”

George Zimmerman had no training, no judgment, no sense of the gravity of human life, nor any shred of respect or feeling for the lives of people like Trayvon Martin. Yet George Zimmerman carried a pistol with hollow-point “man-killer” bullets as he prowled in his car, with the blessings of this system. George Zimmerman stalked Trayvon Martin, with that pistol in his jacket, and George Zimmerman then confronted Trayvon Martin, feeling the whole strength of this system behind him. And then George Zimmerman decided to kill Trayvon Martin.

This was one more horrible, heartbreaking outrage at the end of a 400-year chain of such outrages. That is the heart of the matter.

Sanford FL June 10, mobilizing for justice for Trayvon

June 10 in Sanford, Florida: and Stop Mass Incarceration. Photo: Li Onesto/Revolution

Right now, American society—with the whole world increasingly taking notice—is polarizing. Two sides are lining up—one upholding the right of the Trayvon Martins of this world to live and flourish and, if they are attacked, to have justice... and the other upholding the supposed rights of people like George Zimmerman to kill people like Trayvon with impunity. This should be clear, but every day the powers-that-be work to cloud this, so we must all insist on this basic truth.

And every day the breadth and ferocity of this polarization grow and intensify. Last week the reactionaries vented their hatred and fury on Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel in a vicious, gutter-level attack by a “virtual” mob. Rachel Jeantel is a key witness in the trial, the person Trayvon was talking to on the phone when George Zimmerman confronted him. Once again, these bullies had been trained to act and react by a system, to spew their ignorant venom full of the confidence of someone who feels they have power on their side. This kind of shit must be fought all along the way, and this growing polarization must be repolarized into deeper and broader energy, clarity, and direction for justice for Trayvon Martin... and for revolution and emancipation altogether.

You who read this paper must now step up. You have a chance to change history and you cannot step aside from that. Here is some of what you can do:

And most of all, this: the most essential and important fact about the world today is that the Trayvon Martins in it DO NOT HAVE TO DIE. The most essential fact is that a society is possible in which the Trayvon Martins and Rachel Jeantels and the millions and billions like them, here and around the world, can not only survive, but can flourish and fully contribute all they have to offer to the world. Such a society is possible through revolution—a revolution based on the theory developed by Bob Avakian and won with the leadership provided by the Party he leads, the Revolutionary Communist Party. In the midst of this massive social upheaval, BA must truly be everywhere—the film of his speech BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! sold and shown all over... the revolutionary handbook of his talks and writings, BAsics, out everywhere... his image out and around in every struggle, sparking people’s curiosity and thinking and letting them know the revolution is here, there IS a way out.

Do not turn away from this challenge. Don’t let them win this round. This is about the kind of world we want to live in.

For more, see “The Trial of George Zimmerman: The Persecution of Trayvon Martin.”


Send your ideas and reports about what you and others are doing, and learning, around this to:






Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

The Trial of George Zimmerman; the Persecution of Trayvon Martin

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Some observations from the first week of George Zimmerman's trial

The trial of George Zimmerman has finished its first week. Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a Black youth, in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012.

There have been some clashes in the courtroom between the teams of lawyers; there have been disputes about some of the testimony brought forth by witnesses and drawn forth by the lawyers. But some basic facts and truths about this case are beyond dispute.

Trayvon Martin was walking to his father's townhome carrying a bag of candy and a canned soft drink. George Zimmerman, the volunteer captain of a "neighborhood watch committee," called 911 when he saw Trayvon and told the dispatcher he saw "a real suspicious guy ... This guy looks like he's up to no good, or he's on drugs or something."

The dispatcher told George Zimmerman they didn't need him to pursue the person he saw. But Zimmerman got out of his car, carrying a handgun. He began hunting Trayvon Martin and confronted him. There was a scuffle, then Zimmerman shot Trayvon. And on a rainy night in Sanford, Trayvon Martin died from this gunshot wound.

Police arrived moments later. George Zimmerman was taken into police custody and released five hours later, with no charges filed against him. Trayvon Martin's father, who had put in a missing person report, was notified of his son's death the next morning.

Huge outpourings of protest across the entire country forced the authorities to finally charge George Zimmerman.

But Zimmerman's lawyers are fighting to turn his trial into a persecution of Trayvon Martin. As if it wasn't enough that Trayvon was murdered once by a racist vigilante—now this capitalist system, through its legal structure and its mass media, is working overtime to lie about him, to portray him as a violent thug and well on his way to being a criminal, and to slander, ridicule, and abuse in front of millions of people a friend, Rachel Jeantel, who stands by him. The contempt and fear of Black people expressed in the courtroom, however politely Zimmerman's attorneys may try to express it, is echoing throughout society, and social media in particular, as undiluted racist hate.

Somehow a youth on the way back from buying treats for a young friend, a youth who according to the Sanford Police Department "had no criminal record whatsoever," and was "engaged in no criminal activity at the time of the encounter" is being portrayed as the "aggressor." Rachel Jeantel, the one person who really knew Trayvon who has testified so far in this trial, has been treated with contempt, hostility, and ridicule by Zimmerman's lawyers, and all but called a liar.

Intense Social Conflicts

Intense social conflicts are shaping the legal arena in which this case is being tried. One big problem for the rulers of this society is maintaining legitimacy for their legal system—maintaining the perception in people's minds that justice can be achieved despite everything people know about this case: the fact that Trayvon Martin was unarmed; the fact that George Zimmerman was not charged with anything until weeks after he murdered Trayvon; the fact that Trayvon's body was tested for drugs but Zimmerman never was.

Let's step back: The rulers of this country pronounce the U.S. to be the greatest democracy in the world, but the fact is that this country—and the so-called freedom and democracy that is heralded—is a country where the oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities is horrific—as it has been from its very beginnings. As Bob Avakian says: "There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth." (BAsics 1:1)

And from its very beginnings, the oppressed living in this country have revolted, exposed the crimes committed by those who rule this society, and shaken it to its core. These have been eruptions calling into question for millions the very legitimacy of this system. Look at the trial in this context. The murder of Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman are a "minefield" for those who would argue that this is the best of all possible systems—and that American democracy is the model for people the world over. If through this trial, the real workings of the INjustice that exists in this country, and more, the fact that this system depends on and thrives on the oppression of Black people (as well as others), comes into stark relief for hundreds of thousands and even millions in this country and around the world, this will serve to pose the question to all of the illegitimacy of this system.

And more, not only should the people be exposing the real workings of this system, but it is a time to step up and take up the struggle to put an end to this horrific oppression as a part of bringing into being a whole different world.

Opening Statements and the First Week of Testimony

Opening statements by the prosecution and by Zimmerman's defense laid out the basic strategy and approach to the trial of both sides—what they are setting out to prove. To convict Zimmerman of second-degree murder, the state must establish that when he shot Trayvon Martin he displayed a "depraved mind regardless of human life ..."

The prosecutor's opening remarks were startling and shocking to many people. Standing in front of the jury, he shouted out a portion of Zimmerman's 911 call: "Fucking punks! These assholes! They always get away!" The prosecutor continued, describing how Zimmerman profiled and stalked Trayvon, shot him once in the heart at close range, and then "spun a web of lies" to justify this murder. He said, "George Zimmerman didn't shoot Trayvon Martin because he had to, he shot him for the worst of all reasons: because he wanted to."

All of this—Zimmerman's state of mind, the fact that he pursued Trayvon, that he lied in his statements to police, and that at no point was he in danger—are crucial to establishing Zimmerman's guilt of second-degree murder.

Zimmerman's attorneys painted a different picture. One of them, Don West, said in the opening remarks that "the evidence will show that this is a sad case, that there are no monsters. George Zimmerman is not guilty of murder. He shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense after being viciously attacked." So in one sentence West basically claimed that "the blame is equal," there are "no monsters"; in the next he paints Trayvon as a thug who initiated a fight, saying he "viciously attacked" Zimmerman.

A basic fact that is not disputed in this case is that Zimmerman was carrying a 9-mm Keltec handgun, a "gun designed to kill people at short range," as the Orlando Sentinel described it. He loaded it with hollow-point bullets—ammunition made to inflict maximum damage on human beings. Trayvon Martin had no weapon.

But Zimmerman's lawyer had the audacity to say this in his opening: "Trayvon Martin armed himself with the concrete sidewalk and used it to smash George Zimmerman's head ... That is a deadly weapon."

There is no question about who got out of his car and followed Trayvon Martin or who had a weapon or that George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. The circumstances around Trayvon's murder aren't "murky," or "difficult to discern." "Both sides" are not at fault.

Spewing a Torrent of Racism

West spewed forth a torrent of ugly, blatantly racist and hateful abuse on Rachel Jeantel, a friend of Trayvon's from Miami. Rachel was on the stand for hours over two days. West browbeat and insulted her, and tried time after time to trick her into changing her story. As journalist Callie Beusman asked, "Why is Rachel Jeantel being treated like she's the one on trial?"

Rachel Jeantel had been on the phone with Trayvon as he walked home from the store. He told her he was being stalked by a "creepy-ass cracker." Rachel told the court that Trayvon "said the man kept watching him. He kept complaining that he was just watching him."

West jumped all over Trayvon's use of the word "cracker" in his conversation with Rachel. A big part of Zimmerman's defense is their claim that Zimmerman thought Trayvon was "real suspicious" and followed him, not because Trayvon was Black. West crowed to Rachel, "So, it was racial, but it was racial because Trayvon Martin put race in this."

Think about the actual circumstances and the life experience of youth like Trayvon Martin and Rachel Jeantel. Trayvon was growing up as part of a "generation of suspects"—people whose skin color alone brings them to the attention of prowling police, and whose images play out every night on crime reports in news broadcasts across the country. Trayvon Martin was and Rachel Jeantel is part of a generation of Black and Latino youth who are being imprisoned at the highest rate in history. And he was in Sanford, Florida, the Deep South, the lynching belt. He saw a white man was following him as he walked home. Trayvon and Rachel didn't need a "chip on their shoulder" to think that his being stalked was a "racial thing."

West's attack on Rachel Jeantel and her testimony triggered an avalanche of hateful, racist, woman-hating commentary on social media, and among many news reporters. This feeds right into the ugly and widespread contempt in U.S. society for Black people and their culture, in particular the masses of basic Black people. Endless sick jokes about Rachel's size, her hair, her voice, her demeanor, her clothes exploded on Twitter and elsewhere. Just one example—Rachel was ridiculed as being "stupid" because she couldn't read a note written in cursive handwriting. The people who attacked her revealed their own ignorance on many levels—for one thing, she is a young woman who speaks Haitian Creole, Spanish, and English.

But the proceedings in the courtroom directed by Zimmerman's attorneys play into the climate of venomous, violent hatred of Black people that needs to be powerfully countered, not just in the courtroom but throughout society.

West accused Rachel of making up her testimony, and accused Trayvon of lying. When Rachel said that Trayvon had been hit by Zimmerman, West responded furiously, "You don't know that, do you? ... You don't know that Trayvon didn't at that moment take his fists and drive them into George Zimmerman's face." Remember that Trayvon and Rachel were having a phone conversation (documented by phone company records) and West is saying that somehow at the same time Trayvon was beating on Zimmerman.

When Rachel said Trayvon told her he was almost home, West pounced on her: "Of course, you don't know if he was telling you the truth or not." And when Rachel asked why Trayvon would lie about that, West snarled, "Maybe if he decided to assault George Zimmerman, he didn't want you to know about it."

And despite it all, Rachel Jeantel never wavered in her testimony. Through hour after hour of abusive torment and goading from Don West, she explained to the court how Trayvon told her of the man who kept following him. She told the court she heard Trayvon say to Zimmerman, "'Why are you following me for?' And then I heard a hard-breathing man come say, 'What you doing around here?'...And then I was calling, 'Trayvon, Trayvon.' And then I started to hear a little bit of Trayvon saying, 'Get off, get off.'" Rachel was on the phone with Trayvon until his ear buds fell off, the phone went dead, and she couldn't hear what was happening to him. "You got to understand," she told West. "I'm the last person who spoke to him alive."

Other witnesses called by the state during the first week were residents of the townhomes, each of whom saw part of what happened that night. One spoke of hearing a high-pitched voice yelling for help. Another said she saw the person who was on top of the struggle in the courtyard of the townhomes get up after a shot was fired. And one woman said the voice crying for help was clearly a boy's voice, and added that it was a "softer" voice crying for help. And one man described the scuffle.

Millions Are Watching

One thing that did happen in the middle of this week is that the trial of George Zimmerman snapped into sharp focus for millions of people. And what they saw, whether they realize it or not, was the system at work. This system at work means the criminalization of millions of youths like Trayvon Martin. It means that almost 7 million adults are under "correctional supervision" in the U.S.—the highest rate in the world. It means no future for the youth. It means that killers—whether racist vigilantes like George Zimmerman or police forces across the country—can gun down Black and Latino youth at will.

As Carl Dix wrote recently in Revolution, "So we cannot let the system 'work' the way it always has, and the way it is working now. If Zimmerman walks, it would amount to a great injustice in its own right, and a declaration of open season on Black youth. We cannot let this go down in silence, which means people need to continue and step up political protest demanding justice—right now, not after the system 'works' again the way it always does."




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Orlando Sentinel Censors “We Say No More!” Statement on Killing of Trayvon Martin

June 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


This letter is being circulated: 

Dear Friend,

The Orlando Sentinel has refused to publish the "We Say No More!" statement as a paid ad on the grounds that it's "inflammatory" and "is more of an opinion rather than a substantiated fact and therefore are unable to publish the ad in its present form."

The statement, signed by prominent figures including Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys, Tom Morello, Noam Chomsky, Don Cheadle, Peter Coyote, Lisa Edelstein, scientist Niles Eldridge, Tony Award winning playwright Eve Ensler and many others, and previously published in the Jacksonville Florida Star (5/24/12), says:

"WE SAY NO MORE! The killing of Trayvon Martin and 2.4 million in prison make clear that there is a whole generation of Black and Latino youth who have been marked and treated as a 'generation of suspects' to be murdered and jailed. This is not an issue for Black people alone but for all who care about justice; it is not a random tragedy. We Say NO MORE!"

In May 2012, The Orlando Sentinel, with a readership of over 300,000, was going to publish this statement as a paid ad and told us that “Management has the right to refuse an ad based on content – that is rare – but is why we do require documentation/sourcing is requested.” Now, they have refused to publish the ad and would not accept how I verbally documented what was in the statement. Further, the Sentinel zeroed in on the words "killing of Trayvon Martin." They said it should say "death of Trayvon Martin."  When we told them that this was because “he (Trayvon) was killed by George Zimmerman,” they said, “That will be decided by the trial.”

This is outrageous bias and censorship. The Sentinel's extensive coverage of the Zimmerman trial has included biased defense team leaks and statements designed to impugn and vilify Trayvon Martin and justify Zimmerman's actions. And on June 27 the Sentinel released and promoted on its website, as a "top pick," courtroom video of prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel, cut and edited with flippant commentary denigrating the young woman who was the last person to talk with Trayvon Martin right before his murder, and dismissing her testimony. The Sentinel offered its opinion that her testimony "ranged from the tragic to the bizarre." ("George Zimmerman trial: 'Yes, sir!' it's Rachel Jeantel" by staff writer Jon Busdeker.) Many are denouncing this sort of coverage as racism. Yet the Sentinel refuses to publish a statement concerning the basic situation facing Black youth today—as inflammatory and not factual. This cannot stand.

WHAT YOU CAN DO to uphold press freedom, and especially those who want justice for Trayvon Martin: Sign this statement. Make a significant donation to get this statement published in a major Florida newspaper during the trial. Get this email out to everyone you know. Contact the press about this. Put this up on social media—FaceBook and Twitter. Demand the Sentinel reverse this act of blatant censorship and publish the "We Say No More!" statement.

You can contribute to the publication of this statement by making out a check to the "Stop Mass Incarceration Network" and mailing it to SMIN at:

Stop Mass Incarceration Network
P.O. Box 941, Knickerbocker Station,
New York City, NY 10002-0900

You can make a tax deductible contribution by writing a check to "The Alliance for Global Justice" and putting "Stop Mass Incarceration Network" and "We Say No More" in the memo line. Or you can go online and make a tax deductible contribution at: (Scroll down and click on DONATE ONLINE!, and then scroll down again to the form and choose CAUSE: FSP—STOP MASS INCARCERATIONS and complete debit or credit card details.)

Please reply to this email if you want to sign and/or donate and with your ideas on how we and you can get this out in a big way. Thank you.

Keith James
Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Los Angeles
Phone: 213-840-5348; email:




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Prisoners Write On:

"What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.


In early June, Revolution issued a call to our readers in prisons to "draw on all you have learned about the world and your life experience" to express their thinking on the theme "What to the prisoner is your Fourth of July?" The call began with a quote from a 1852 statement by Frederick Douglass, a former slave and a leader in the struggle against slavery, titled "What to the American slave is your Fourth of July?" Here are some letters we have received so far in response to the call.


"The only foreseeable solution, wherein lies any real hope for change, is Revolution... Nothing Less!"

"What to the Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

The Fourth of July...? Independence Day...? Yeah right, What on earth is that? Let's break bread on this subject and I'll tell you exactly what it is.

This system's Fourth of July, to me, is just business as usual. It is just another day of oppression, suppression, and repression within this belly of the beast. It's just another painful day of these redneck fascist pigs employing strategically designed tactics to keep us focused on the irrelevant issues that prevent us from uniting as a cohesive force to stand against their mental and physical brutality. This Fourth of July is just another day on the plantation for D.O.C. [Department of Corrections]—a poor mother will get an unfortunate call from the "chaplain," saying her child is dead; some cell extraction team will be running into a defenseless prisoner's cell five deep to violently remove him from his cell (but not before they shed blood and break a few bones); another prisoner will be tortured by being placed on strip (property restriction—nothing in a room except the prisoner, his boxers, concrete, and steel—that's it!) and then sprayed with huge cans of mace designed to burn the skin & eyes and suck out the oxygen supply in a room; and the list goes on and on.

One of the major contradictions I see within these walls of misery and despair are prisoners actually celebrating Independence Day!! How can a prisoner celebrate Independence Day?! Oh wait... hold on a minute... I get it now, they're celebrating being "In-Dependence" of the Department of Corrections, lol!! As a grown man, I choose not to participate in calling our potentially revolutionary forces belittling names, but come on man!! It's time for my fellow prisoners to wake up and begin the process of learning what in the world is going on!! The continuous cycle of "business as usual" must be broken and shattered to incomprehensible pieces. The system that is routinely used against us is as old as the mythical concept of religion. But just like religion, the consequences of the systematic use of distractions and deceptions are so ingrained in the minds of the masses that they revel in being repressed!

On this Fourth of July, I believe we all need to struggle with at least one or two people on the sharp contradictions of this holiday. Let the injustices of this backwards system speak loudly as clear evidence that this present system must be wiped from the face of this earth. It is absolutely impossible to ignore the grievous damage done by this country to its own people and the human family worldwide.

This Fourth of July is a day of reflection and a time to honor all of our fellow prisoners who died within these walls. The prison agents of the state have free reign in how they choose who lives and who dies. Just because one of my fellow prisoners chooses to defend himself from an onslaught of violence from the prison agents, that means he must sip the deadly cocktail of army style boots against the skull, black gloved hands against unprotected flesh, MMA [Mixed Martial Arts, eds.] styled take down while he's restrained, or the cold steel of a prisoner's ice pick who has been commissioned to put in work.

Because most of my fellow prisoners' minds are wrapped around the wrong aspects of life, they fight and kill each other over the most fatuous of things and then blame it on the "principle of the matter." How many lives have been lost due to the asinine "principle of the matter"? Indeed, there are things that we must stand up for, but I've learned a very valuable lesson in dealing with people in general: we, those who are more intellectually enlightened must think for those around us. Most people do not fully grasp the type of danger they place themselves in by doing idiotic things. So due to that fact, we must look past alot of their deeds based on their own ignorance and struggle with them to show and prove to them what's right. How many lives have been lost to the useless warfare against each other over government ran facilities and these wannabe hardcore prison agents? How many more lives have to be lost before we decide to stand up together and say, "No More!"?

I absolutely love the stance my comrades-in-bars are taking out in Cali. I salute all of you revolutionary minded and disciplined men in respect, strength, and solidarity. You courageous men are the last of a dying breed in prison—peace to you all. This Fourth of July as we reflect on all of our fellow prisoners who died in this struggle, let us also reflect on what must be done to combat this deadly situation. Those deaths could have been prevented, things do not have to be this way.... The only foreseeable solution, wherein lies any real hope for change, is Revolution... Nothing Less!

The following is a piece of a letter written by Frederick Douglass to Gerrit Smith (the abolitionist) called, "No Progress Without Struggle! 1849." I believe this is a fitting close for this letter!

"Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions, yet made to her august claims, have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exiting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will."

... All power to the people, always and forever!

In Revolutionary Courage & Strength,
peace to all the comrades ready to ride!


"A Day to Forget" (Not Remember)

Dear P.R.L.F.:

You have requested that we submit something for the 4th of July. On the back is a poem that I just did for you and your cause. I am the author of the poem. Feel free to do whatever you choose to do with it. I hope that it helps your cause. Keep up the good work. And thank-you for the work you do for prisoners.


A Celebration For A Country That Is Rooted In Violence,
The Truth About This Country Many Still Want To Hide It...
A Celebration For Some, A Nightmare For Others,
Memories Of What Was Done To Their Fathers And Mothers...
Never Before Recorded In The Pages Of History,
Kidnapped, Enslaved, And Beaten Is What Was Done To Me...
Segregated, Isolated, And Treated Unequal,
Locked Up For Minor Crimes, Over 2 Million People...
What To Me Is The 4th Of July?
When I Think Of All The Killings And All The Lost Lives...
Endless Wars, Drone Attacks, And Sexual Exploitation,
Poverty And Low Wages... Destroying A Generation...
What Is The 4th Of July To An American Prisoner?
A Day I Choose Not To Acknowledge Or Even Remember...
"Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death," So Tired Of These Conditions,
Every Issue Of "REVOLUTION" Is Like My Declaration Of Independence.
The 4th Of July, A Day Of Sorrow And Regret,
A Day You Want To Remember, But For Me,


"To this prisoner and great-great-grandson of a slave...'their' Fourth of July is a very blatant unapologetic lie!"

What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?

I don't know what "Their" Fourth of July is to my fellow prisoners. But, to this prisoner and great-great-grandson of a slave (how can I call myself an African-American, when I don't see the same equality as other Americans?) "their" Fourth of July is a very blatant unapologetic lie!

"Their" Fourth of July shall remind me of the arrogance and ruthlessness they showed in forming this so-called Republic. As it shall remind me that "their" amber waves of grain was fertilized and irrigated with my ancestors' blood, sweat, and tears!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me that when the "Founding Fathers" declared that all Men are created equal, that they're endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: That they hold these truths to be self-evident; they were not thinking of my ancestors as Men, nor humans, for that matter!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me that when Rev. Samuel Francis Smith penned, "My country, 'tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty," he was, definitely, not including my ancestors!

"Their" Fourth of July, shall remind me of the double standards, and different interpretations of the Laws for certain "caste" of individuals that live in America nowadays!

Now on this Fourth of July, as I sit in my High Security Cell, I shall feel the lashes on my back from long ago; the heartbreak of the families that were sent to different plantations. I shall feel the slave masters' violations of the slaves they raped; mentally, physically, and emotionally. I shall feel the grip of death, just as Ramarley Graham, David Sal Silva, Terry Laffitte, Trayvon Martin, and many others did at the hands of the "so-called good Americans." I shall feel the desperation, but, also, the determination of all the women who are fighting those who are trying to oppress and repress them!

So, as this Fourth of July reminds me that the more things change, the more they remain the same. I shall contemplate on the fact that I was born in America, but never truly treated as American. And wonder if I should take pride in being a bad, un-American person of color?

Oh, one more thing this Fourth of July shall remind me of—Revolution—nothing less!

In The Struggle!


"A ready made plate of illusory freedom"

"What To The Prisoner Is Your Fourth of July?"

To me it is a ready made plate of illusory freedom served to us that we are coerced into accepting.

The 4th of July is yet another facade of illegitimacy that the system perpetuates by alleging it is built of freedom and liberty for all. When is actually it is a capitalist machine of exploitation, assassination, control, imperialism and mass incarceration.

The 4th of July popping of fireworks sounds like a totalitarian hand slapping the face of a slave. While their celebrative clacking of champagne glasses sound like the clinking of our shackles and handcuffs closing around our lives.

So as I sit here in prison I think the 4th of July isn't so much a celebration "for us" as it is "of us"... of us being exploited, led to believe a huge fallacy and of our slow demise.


"The height of hypocrisy on display"

...I wanted to quickly answer the call made to prisoners in Revolution asking, "What to the Prisoner is Your Fourth of July?" The height of hypocrisy is on display every 4th of July and it's important for all to know that the birth of this nation is nothing to celebrate. To celebrate the 4th of July is to celebrate the freedom of white settlers to massacre indigenous people and steal their land further west. It means celebrating the freedom of slaveowners to expand the slave system beyond the thirteen colonies. It means celebrating the freedom of Manifest Destiny advocates to wage war and steal half of Mexico. And it means celebrating the freedom of capitalist-imperialists to viciously exploit and violently oppress people the world over ever since. Objectively, that is the freedom that is being celebrated. Across the country people will defy all logic and express their gratitude to soldiers for the sacrifices they make to protect "our freedom." It doesn't matter that these troops are actually waging imperialist wars in order to DENY freedom in the countries they bomb, invade, and occupy, or that the only real threat to our freedom is here in this country and is posed by our own government. I like to tell people that in order to be patriotic in this country you have to be either a white supremacist or completely ignorant of its history. For anyone who approaches a study of history and current events with an open mind, who honestly pursues the truth no matter where it will lead, Frederick Douglass's words will ring as true today as they did in 1852 and they "will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival."

Thanks again to you, all the PRLF volunteers, and all your donors for the very important work that you do. You're changing lives that will help you change the world. Keep up the great work. I hope to hear from you soon.

In Solidarity


"The day of genocide unleashed on the oppressed"

i seen your call for thoughts on July 4th so i thought i would send you this short writing on thoughts i had on the subject, i hope they help in some small way...

The day of genocide unleashed on the oppressed that remains hanging around our necks like a heavy chain dripping in blood, this is the Amerikkkan holiday of July 4th.

A day that celebrates colonialism and its tentacles, that have sucked the life force of so many on this continent and around the world, from that first day of tragedy.

The oppressors holiday which seeks to uphold white supremacy through its jingoistic spirit and well heeled vestiges, candy coating exported horror and internal oppression is this Imperial cookout.

The tombs that hold the poor in cells, Padded in concrete see not the fireworks that sear societies hearts and minds with illusions of grandeur on this day of mourning.

Torture centers have captured thousands who continue to resist the colonizers holiday who are isolated until we surrender, until we become numb, until we expire or until we transform because of this day of Contact.

I stare at the off white wall in front of my torture cell and i listen to extreme silence, i look for a window or shaft of light and none exist and once more i grasp how foul is the Fourth of July to the prisoner.




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

From Pelican Bay Prison, California

"No longer can we sit idle while we are dehumanized"

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.


To: Those with Ears and Conscious,

I'm a California prisoner in Pelican Bay's Security Housing Unit. I've been validated as a Member of a prison gang. I am also serving a life sentence for a crime as a juvenile but tried as an adult. What this means is I will likely die here, right here in this Cell. I'm thirty-two. I'm just one of thousands.

California's Prison franchise has in place here a systematic assembly line designed to funnel its prisoners into these ultra secure institutions called "Security Housing Units" (SHUs). They're institutions constructed specifically for long term Solitary Confinement. There exist an illusory six year minimum for each held here, However it's not as benign as this. SHUs are indeed designed for long term. California has three SHUs and in all thirty-plus prison's ad segs [administrative segregation] many await bed-space in the SHUs. What these SHUs equate to in truth and reality are human storage units. Where sensory deprivation is certain, emotional disconnect is inescapable and mental stimulation challenged and undermined at every turn.

Artwork by a prisoner, via California Prison Focus. "View From Within P.B.S.P. SHU Cell"

We spend 22½ hours everyday in windowless, poorly ventilated Cells. Cell mates are scarcely permitted and in the reality for those having a "Celly," changing "Cellys" or return to celling alone due to incompatibility is just not done. The other hour [and] ½ is for "yard" that is adjacent to our Housing "pod," 27 feet by 11 feet with 20 foot high walls on all sides, a camera to watch us, no trees, no dirt, grass or any signs of life. Only a small patch of sky, so no direct sunlight, therefore the lack of Vitamin D makes all sickly and translucently complected. Shower and shave 3 times a week. There are 8 cells per "pod," this is all you see and know. Your world is shrunken to 7 other people, no human contact whatsoever. To leave your "pod" for only medical attention or a visit you are strip searched and shackled waist and ankles. Pelican Bay is on the rural California/Oregon border, and all here are from the San Francisco Bay area, Central Valley or Southern California, literally 100s of miles and many hours away. Visits are non-contact, hour and ½ and not guaranteed. An expensive and daunting feat for mostly-impoverished families. Poor quality food and no access to Quality Nutritional Value. For a visual visit

So how did we get here at Pelican Bay [SHU] (approx. 1200 inmates)? Well according to Calif. Dept of Correction and Rehabilitation [CDCR or CDC], we are the "worst of the worst," members and associates of specific "prison gangs." Each of us have supposedly met their criteria of "promoting gang activity." But a true and honest look into this absolutely destroys that claim. You do not need to be found guilty of a single rules Violation let alone one of gang activity, But rather guilt by association, regardless how innocuous. The criteria is as ambiguous and arbitrary as tattoos and symbols which CDC refuses to identify as prohibited, association; which can constitute a simple "Hello" in passing.

Or a signed Birthday Card, confidential information; jail house informants with plenty of motive and can not be challenged, photos and visits; CDC may at anytime declare any of whom to be "associated" however unsubstantiated and innocuous. Just to name some of the Ridiculous standards established. We may appeal CDCs findings with Correctional officials. However, all classifications, reviews and oversight are internal and conducted by the same personnel and department who validated us in the first place. Furthermore the courts have chosen complicity in deferring prison management to the so-called "prison/gang experts." The two times in 30 years the courts recognized they could not justify their passivity (Madrid v. Gomez 889 F.Supp (N.D.Cal. 1995), Castillo v. Alameida NO.C94.2847MJJ (N.D. Cal.2004)) by still only reforming and overhauling the Validation criteria and process that situates us here. CDC has only gone on to ignore Court order w/o consequence and continue their underground practices in partnership with an intenable silence from the courts themselves. No injunction or contempt of court, an absolute mockery of the judicial process. Consequently each of us here and across the state in the SHUs and Ad Segs are in indefinite solitary confinements.

There are three ways out of the SHU, parole, debrief or die. CDC belies an "inactive Review" process after six years, which has become known as an urban legend to those of us affected. In response to peaceful protests in 2011 across the state where 12,000 participated to declare our repudiation of this program and practice, CDC, this year implemented a new "step-down program," which supposedly brings a minimum to four years w/o a debriefing necessary. What this entails in reality is a broadening of CDCs authority and dragnet: it will include street gangs [in addition to ”prison gangs”—eds.] as well as enlarge the criteria defined as gang activity to include gambling, delaying a peace officer and destruction of state property to name a few. Therefore the prior premise of isolating prison gang associates for alleged gang activity long term has been scratched for a much more intrusive and inclusive one that now includes street gangs and "behavioral" problems that were previously minor rules violations, will now constitute long term solitary confinement. This was the offensive piecemeal CDC presented. This flamboyant trojan horse maintains same internal classification, internal review and Supervision as before but with a larger armory. It's the equivalent of the genetically engineered fox guarding the hen house, as our complicit courts have their indefinite intermission.

This new program directly pinpoints an entire ethnicity for our ethnicity. Upon arriving to CDC, Hispanic inmates are classified as one of three affiliations; Mexican National, Northern Hispanic or Southern Hispanic. There are no alternatives or non-affiliations. The latter of the two constitute 75%-85% of all SHU inmates. No other ethnicity is subject to automatic, mandatory affiliation. Furthermore cultural expression, education, customs and interaction is subject to a full frontal assault by CDC. Indigenous language, art and history are also considered gang activity. Black inmates suffer to a similar degree regarding ethnic studies.

We find ourselves and our situation at the crux of our livelihood. The hardships and rigidity of our interment here are deceiving. On the outside amongst ourselves we are steadfast, resilient and enduring, however it's a bit more fractured from the outside. The cracks from our long term isolation and assault on all stimuli are much more apparent to those outside the SHU and especially in society. This crisis is twofold, the consequence of long-term Solitary Confinement; its social regression and psychological impairment permanently affects all those paroling from the SHU. These souls enter society they’ve been ill-prepared for and are overloaded with responsibilities, interaction and activity that's been purposefully suppressed and are now dormant: absolutely zero rehabilitative programs exist in the SHU aside scarce G.E.D. access, let alone preparation for parole. This inhibits reintegration into society, the work place and the homefront, ultimately undermining meaningful production in the free world, let alone CDC upholding its charge of rehabilitation. CDC simply discharges its "test subjects" upon society with no assistive obligation or responsibility. Success of any incarceration course is dependent upon the rehabilitation of those returning to Society and the humility exhibited to those still within it. Lets be honest CDC's behemoth budget is allotted with that reckoning and not for the exorbitant salaries of Correctional officers or the coffers for their union. An inmate held in the SHU cost taxpayers $70,000 per year! Mind blowing considering inmates housed in general population cost a "mere" $25,000 per year. That's a four year tuition of $280,000.

Here in Pelican Bay you have human beings who've been held in Solitary Confinement for 10, 15, 20, 25 even 30 years, and many have died in delirium in these Cells. While we're still capable to recognize and process the deterioration we’re enduring, its effects on us personally and our families and loved ones, we seek a change for bettering our situation. This social extermination the SHU endorses and manifests by executing such sensory deprivation on every conceivable level, has rendered many to a droid state indifferent to all sensation and social interaction. Fathers, Sons, Husbands, Brothers and Nephews have changed into such introverted shells, it's at times impossible to find them, their personality, character and ultimately their once distinct identity. Social interaction is ingrained in our DNA as social creatures, critical for our existence and well being. Not being able to call, hug or touch your children, Mother, Wife changes a man counter productively. Witnessing your body deteriorate because of poor medical attention, immobility and lack of visual exercise, to acquire insomnia, anxiety and depression, suicidal tendencies only detaches us further from reality and ourselves.

We Recognize CDCs denials of the SHU's impact and its indifference can not be accompanied with our contentment as the clock ticks on our well being. To hold on to our competence, sanity and drive to interact with people, be treated humanely, receive protection of the law, accountability for our custodians and awaken the conscious and realization of those similarly situated and suffering. Therefore many of us are attempting to echo our voice with a peaceful fortitude, a widely anticipated Hunger Strike where thousands will join to bring an awareness and constructive change to our depravity. Life here in the SHU is not living, only existing and no longer can we sit idle while we are dehumanized, our legal and human rights violated extrajudicially by CDC, a complicit court and governor turn a blind eye. Meaningful change is long overdue and the Call for substantive action is now. In 2011 three humans gave their lives, amid no media coverage, and many remain permanently damaged as a result. How many more have to die? How many hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands does it take to acknowledge a grave injustice? We call on all for participation, solidarity and acknowledgement. July 8, 2013 begins the first step in a long journey and we wish you to be there alongside us.

In Cognizance and Solidarity,





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture!

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On June 21, 22 and 23, events around the country were held as part of Days of Solidarity with the Struggle to End Prison Torture. In New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco/Bay Area, and Chicago, people responded to the EMERGENCY CALL signed by over 150 people to "Join Us in Stopping Torture in U.S. Prisons!" and organized days "all aimed at laying bare the ugly reality of wide spread torture in U.S. prisons and challenging everyone to join in fighting to STOP it."

As the Emergency call points out: "Tens of thousands of people imprisoned in the U.S. are being subjected to torturous, inhumane conditions... Many are forced to endure these conditions for months, years and even decades! Mental anguish and trauma often result from being confined under these conditions. Locking people down like this amounts to trying to strip them of their humanity. These conditions fit the international definition of torture! This is unjust, illegitimate and profoundly immoral. WE MUST JOIN IN AN EFFORT TO STOP IT, NOW!"


What gave these Days of Solidarity such importance—and URGENCY—is the fact that prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison in California have called for a Nationwide Hunger Strike to begin on July 8, 2013. The prisoners' five demands include an end to long-term solitary confinement, collective punishment, and the practice of "debriefing," which amounts to forced interrogation on gang affiliation. Other demands include decent food, rehabilitation and education programs, warmer clothing and a phone call each week. These are basically demands to be treated like human beings. And the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has refused over and over again to meet them. These prisoners have also issued a call for unity among people from different racial groups—both inside and outside the prisons. As the Emergency Call underscores: "We must have the humanity to hear their call, and answer it with powerful support!"

This was the spirit that infused the Days of Solidarity with the Struggle to End Prison Torture.

Speaking Bitterness

One feature of this day was people stepping forward and speaking bitterness.

Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, a spirited group of people convened at the State Building on June 21 to kick off the weekend Days of Solidarity. Family members with brothers, husbands, and sons doing long-term sentences in the California State Prison system attended and spoke out. They spoke of husbands in the SHU (Security Housing Unit) for over 20 years; of brothers doing 14-to-life and recently beaten by prison guards and sent to SHU; of sons doing 52-to-life based on fabricated testimony. A delegation delivered the Emergency Call! Join Us in Stopping Torture in U.S. Prisons to the governor's office at the State Building.

This same day in San Francisco, 20 activists around the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and supporters of the RCP, including teachers, gathered at a busy downtown plaza with large signs with the prisoners' five demands and a life-size picture of a Security Housing Unit isolation cell. All kinds of people passed by, from homeless people to businessmen to tourists and were horrified by the situation for prisoners in America. Five men who were on parole stopped to talk, some who had done many years in prisons up and down California. Two had been locked down in Pelican Bay. One of them, a Latino man, took a stack of SMIN palm cards to get out. An older Black man who had been in San Quentin, Pelican Bay, and Corcoran said, "In the SHU unit—they was treating people like animals there. They don't get food. They don't get blankets. I feel like the public needs to get involved like you are today. We need to take this to Sacramento. I was in the system 23 years." Another man who said he had "been to almost every prison there is in California" spoke about guards "accidentally" opening the doors when two men from different gangs are out of their cells, and then watching and egging on the men to go at each other.

In New York, the Revolution Club held a rally/speakout in a neighborhood park on Saturday, June 22. A report sent to Revolution described how, in particular, the youth really stepped forward to take this up:

"The afternoon started by 'shorties' painting, in multiple colors, a big banner that says, 'Stop the torture of people in prisons!' In the course of doing this, a number of youth, from 9 years old to 14, learned a lot of the conditions prisoners are living under. Some of these youth expressed to us their outrage, though they later felt shy to speak to the audience gathering for the rally, 'these prisoners are being treated worse than dogs,' 'the torture are illegal,' 'we are all human beings and no one should be treated that way!' They also distributed a lot of palm cards (BAsics 1:13), and fliers about the prisoners' demands to stop torture. Their activism brought the park to life, attracting many passersby. Later, during the rally, these youth proudly held up the banner they made as well as enlarged displays of Revolution centerfolds (like BAsics 1:13, prisoners' art, BA quote on '3 Strikes') as a backdrop for the event.

"A young man living in the 'hood, whose father has been in the Pelican Bay prison for a long time, brought to the rally an art work he made especially for the occasion. The art work, 'Death camp in prisons,' depicting graves in front of a maximum security prison, was inspired by viewing various art pieces by prisoners displayed in several issues of Revolution newspaper.

"A little over two dozen people, young and older, attended the rally/speak-out, and several statements in support of the prisoners' struggle were read. Individuals also read out the Revolution centerfold that exposes torture, as well as a couple of prisoners' letters that express their hopes for a better future and their appreciation of BA's [Bob Avakian's] work and leadership. A highlight of the event was the reading of the statement to end hostilities that was issued by the prisoners almost a year ago. People were very moved by the content of this statement. Many in the audience applauded. Then people were shown a segment of the DVD, BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! People listened very intensely and many smiled when they heard BA speak in the film about the precious importance of the 'unity statement' [by the Pelican Bay prisoners] that they had heard earlier."

Exposing the Horror of Solitary Confinement


These Days of Solidarity exposed to many, many people the intolerable horror of solitary confinement. The fact is, most people just do not know that some 80,000 people in this country are being tortured by the U.S. government in U.S. prisons. But it is also the case that once they know about it, they have a moral responsibility to do something about stopping it! And this was a very important mission and message of the Days of Solidarity: to get the word out to as many people as possible about this torture that is going on in the prisons AND about the need to support the demands of the prison hunger strikers.

In Los Angeles, activities were organized to reach thousands of people. After the June 21 rally at the State Building there was a march to Grand Central Market in downtown LA, with a cadre of Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc, to mix it up with the principally Spanish-speaking crowd at the Market. Then on Saturday, June 22, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network had a festive engagement with thousands of people from all over the world at the Venice Beach Boardwalk. Thousands of fliers and stickers went to people, many taking stacks to get out themselves, and dozens of people signed the Emergency Call! A replica SHU cell, an interactive piece of public art, was constructed for the first time at the Venice Boardwalk. It was displayed for a short time until Santa Monica police shut it down. SMIN members and families with loved ones in the SHU were interviewed by KRCV Channel 62 Television, World Focus Radio, and Voice of Russia Radio News during Days of Solidarity weekend.

Harlem, New York

In New York, there were efforts to get the word out to people in Harlem. On Friday, June 21, people gathered for a short rally outside the State Office Building. There was some street theater on this very crowded street, aimed at really showing people the kind of torture prisoners are being subjected to. From a report sent to Revolution: "We chalked the ground with an 11 foot by 7 foot box representing a cell. One of us put on an orange jumpsuit and sat inside the box or paced around its interior to some dramatic effect to passersby. The 'inmate' had a sticker over his mouth, 'Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide.' Mock chains ringed the box as well. Our agitation and chalking on the ground was a description of the conditions of torture for 80,000 people locked up in SHU units in prisons across the country. We also had chalked the quote from BAsics 3:16, 'An Appeal to Those the System has Cast Off.' A middle-aged Black man and artist living in Harlem said this was 'a wonderful message full of hope for people who have none.' Lots of people who knew people or had loved ones locked up or even living in these conditions stopped and took note... Many walked past all this, while others stopped to read the various chalked messages on the sidewalk about mass incarceration and torture in the form of solitary confinement. For some this was not something abstract. They shared their experiences, concerns and stories about incarcerated loved ones, or about their own personal experiences. Several knew about the first hunger strike. The 'prisoner' (in the chalk outline SHU) got up several times to speak to people about the slow genocide of mass incarceration, racial profiling, and police brutality, and the need to raise resistance commensurate with the slow genocide being waged against Black and Latino peoples."


In Chicago, on Saturday, June 22, at an intersection on the South Side, people taped two banners to a fence at a gas station by a bus stop. One said "Solitary Confinement = Torture" and the other said "California Prisoner Hunger Strikers, We Have Your Backs." They also had enlargements from Revolution, a Trayvon Martin banner and a literature table. The main prop was a cardboard prison cell just large enough for one person to sit inside. People took turns reading letters from prisoners at Pelican Bay over a loudspeaker from inside the solitary confinement cell, while others passed out fliers about the hunger strike and encouraged people to sign the "we have your backs" banners. Some people joined in passing out fliers, passing cars took photos or video footage of the scene. A bus driver honked as she was picking up passengers and took a stack of fliers for the bus.

Calling on People's Conscience

When people actually hear about the kind of torture that tens of thousands of prisoners in this country are being subjected to, many are horrified and want to speak out and do something about it. These Days of Solidarity were aimed at struggling with all kinds of people, very broadly throughout society, to follow their conscience and realize the moral responsibility to do just this.

On Sunday, June 23, one neighborhood church joined the Days of Solidarity with the pastor giving a sermon to his congregation of over 30 about the need to support the California prisoners' struggle against "hostilities and torture" imposed on them. This pastor also spoke briefly about the conditions the prisoners are facing in solitary confinement. While this pastor describes himself as a "conservative" and says he thinks if "you did the crime, you do the time" he was very moved by reading about the conditions prisoners are forced to live in that are described in the Emergency Call and this is what made him decide to join in the Days of Solidarity by addressing the issue of torture in prisons in his Sunday sermon.

At another church in the neighborhood, the pastor invited a member of the Revolution Club into the church to talk with church members after the Sunday service. While there was controversy about the root cause of mass incarceration, all members of this church were astonished in hearing the conditions that prisoners are subjected to in the SHUs and they all agreed that the torture must stop and the demands of the prisoners must be met. At a larger neighborhood church, a total of 42 members of the congregation signed the Emergency Call in support of the prisoners.

In New York and Oakland, Evenings of Conscience were held as part of the Days of Solidarity. These events combined speeches, videos and cultural performances to bring the message home about the need to build this struggle against prison torture and support the hunger strikers. [See article: "Days of Solidarity, Evenings of Conscience"]

* * * * *

It is extremely important now to build off of these Days of Solidarity—especially as the Pelican Bay prisoners are set to begin their hunger strike on July 8. The prisoners being held in isolation at the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) have just released a statement, dated June 20, titled, "We have to put our lives on the line to force CDCR to do what's right." [The CDCR is the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.]

This statement serves as a "public notice that our nonviolent peaceful protest of our subjection to decades of indefinite state-sanctioned torture, via long-term solitary confinement will resume on July 8, 2013, consisting of a hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms)."

These prisoners are demanding to be treated like human beings. And it is the people's moral responsibility to act in a way that corresponds with the justness of these prisoners' demands.

The statement goes on to say: "We are presently out of alternative options for achieving the long overdue reform to this system and, specifically, an end to state-sanctioned torture, and now we have to put our lives on the line via indefinite hunger strike to force CDCR to do what's right.

"We are certain that we will prevail.... the only question being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement?

"The world is watching!"

The Emergency Call that summoned people to organize the June Days of Solidarity continues to ring now, even more urgently:

"To the Government: We Demand an Immediate End to the Torture and Inhumanity of Prison House America—Immediately Disband All Torture Chambers. Meet the demands of those you have locked down in your prisons!

"To People in this Country and Around the World: We Cannot Accept, and We Should Not Tolerate This Torture. Join the Struggle to End Torture in Prisons Now!

"To Those Standing Up in Resistance Inside the Prisons: WE SUPPORT YOUR CALL FOR UNITY IN THIS FIGHT, AND WE WILL HAVE YOUR BACKS!"





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Days of Solidarity, Evenings of Conscience

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Evenings of Conscience were held as part of the Days of Solidarity With the Struggle to End Prison Torture! These events combined speeches, videos, and cultural performances to build the struggle against prison torture and to support the prisoners at Pelican Bay Prison in California, who are set to begin their hunger strike on July 8.

In New York, on Saturday, June 22, the event, held at Revolution Books, began with a powerful reading of a letter from a Pelican Bay prisoner outlining the conditions at the Security Housing Unit (SHU) and the demands and motivations of the 2011 prisoners' hunger strike. This set the stage in understanding what is at stake with the California prisoners' hunger strike.

Noche Diaz reported on the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) delegation to Sanford, Florida, on June 10 National Hoodie Day, taking the message of Justice for Trayvon Martin from around the country. Many people in the Sanford community, he said, had been told not to step out at the start of the trial proceedings and that while many people did come out, sitting back cannot be allowed to be the message. He went on to talk about how the fight for justice for Trayvon Martin concentrates the injustices of racial profiling and mass incarceration; and through fighting for justice, people raise their sights against the whole system behind mass incarceration and crimes against humanity; and they can transform themselves through making revolution.

Carl Dix, also a featured speaker, tied together the ravages of mass incarceration and torture in prisons in the U.S. and why this in fact amounts to a slow genocide that can easily turn into a fast genocide. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, he said, is involved in two key battles this summer: fighting for justice for Trayvon Martin in the murder trial of George Zimmerman, and the big fight around torture in prison, including, very importantly, building support for the hunger strike called by prisoners at Pelican Bay. Carl concluded: "We can't allow the powers to isolate the prison hunger strikers and to crush their resistance; people need to be part of a movement to stop mass incarceration now." Solidarity remarks came from Professor Jim Vrettos of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and from Afro-Latin jazz pianist Arturo O'Farill. The South Asian comedian Aladdin Ullah shared a dialogue he had with his immigrant father, who explained his first encounter with the Jim Crow South, through a humorous skit.

On Wednesday, June 26, at Oakland's First Congregational Church, the Stop Mass Incarceration Network in the Bay Area held an Evening of Conscience that included a powerful report-back with Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, killed by police, on his trip to Sanford, Florida, for the opening day of trial of George Zimmerman. Some 40 people came, including former prisoners and others working with prisoners. It was a lively mix of short statements and presentations, video clips from Noche Diaz and Jamel Mims as well as of exposure of the conditions in the Pelican Bay SHU, a discussion with Cephus Johnson, and a showing of a video of Carl Dix's recent talk at the New York Evening of Conscience on the battle to stop mass incarceration and the broader need for revolution.

Cephus Johnson described why he felt compelled to go to Sanford, and talked about the importance of the new movie on the murder of Oscar Grant, Fruitvale Station, as well as his support for the prisoners' struggle. A reader from the Bay Area reported: "People gained a deeper understanding of the connection between police murder and mass incarceration. A couple of people commented on how the film clip of the 'exercise yard' at Pelican Bay really brought home how horrible the conditions are—that this was their one hour out of their cell. A couple read every word on the enlarged centerfold from Revolution on solitary confinement and then photographed it. One guy volunteered to help build a SHU model, and then joined us the nest day for bannering at the California State building in SF. He is quite religious, but his Christian morality drives him to work for the prisoners, and he says he loves what we are doing. The program had the definite edge of not just talking about the problem of Mass Incarceration, but challenging people to step out and stop it."

* * * * *

The following excerpts are from statements given at the Evening of Conscience at the New York program at Revolution Books:

Professor Jim Vrettos from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice:

I'm really so moved and proud to be here with you all. You have an ally, a comrade, believe it or not, at John Jay College. To paraphrase from Jack Abbot's book, In the Belly of the Beast, I am teaching in the belly of the beast. We are trying to transform that belly, that beast, in all sorts of ways. I am so proud to be your comrade, your ally at John Jay. We answered the call in 2011, standing up against stop-and-frisk. Carl, I tip my hat to you, if I had a hat, I would tip it. I've been in the academic world many decades, I've been through all kinds of struggles, demonstrations, takeovers of buildings, I'm dating myself here, Columbia 1968. But I've not met anyone with such courage and integrity as Carl Dix, Jamel, Noche, John, so many of you from this bookstore, the Revolution Club, who made a stand that so many people have not been able to do and certainly as I don't need to tell you, the overwhelming majority of academics simply for whatever cock-and-bull reason cannot do, they're too stuck sitting on their rear ends in their offices, they have not been able to do, worrying about their careers, intellectualizing while the misery goes on, the pain goes on, the brutality goes on. And it has to stop. You can tell I'm the white guy here. I don't have my yarmulke on me but Cornel [West] made it a point, he thought it would be a great idea for me to put on my yarmulke, I am nominally a secular Jew here. And as we got arrested Cornel thought it would be great to have this white guy put on his yarmulke and get arrested and get a picture on TV and so on, showing this guy with a yarmulke getting arrested. I think it was important to show solidarity, to show that other people can relate to the suffering and pain that so many people, young people of color, are going through. It's absolutely crucial that we do this, that we make the connections that Noche is talking about, the links, to get the academic world out there in some way to take a stand and I promise you with all the strength I have, my spirit, my intelligence, my writing, my activism, I will continue to carry on the struggle and do as much as I can to bring that academic world out of their stupor, their intellectualizing and perpetuizing, often times, of this incredible dependency, this incredible misery that they are so, so blind to.

Afro-Latin jazz pianist, Arturo O'Farill:

I was really motivated to become a part of, or at least to find out more about this movement when Ramarley Graham was taken from us, that was an incredibly shocking thing to me, watching what took place—having a 17-year-old son who is Hispanic, African-American, Jewish, Cuban, German, having him walk around the streets of New York City at all hours of the night and be exposed to the dangers of the NYPD—is something that hit home real hard, hit hard, I spent days crying about this. And so we do a lot of different things but I really believe now I understand my purpose. My purpose in life is not to be a sideman or be a leader, be a star, be rich or get laid. My purpose in life is to use my art form to communicate the things that I see, the injustices in the world, the incredible oppression that is worldwide, the absolute massacre of the planet by the United States, the worldwide terrorism of economic proportions and of political and even war criminals that the U.S. perpetuates on the planet. And in my own small way, I'll use my voice, I'll use what I have, the platform that I've built, the orchestra, the music, the records, the composing, everything I can do, I aim towards the purpose of letting people know that things have got to change. It is the most important thing a person can do.

Jamel Mims, Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Revolution Club:

Everyone should give themselves a round of applause just for being here, for being in solidarity with these hunger strikers who are about to sacrifice, who are about to put their lives and bodies on the line to be treated like human beings. We were just out yesterday in Harlem, going to people and going to the masses to talk about this, out with the Revolution Club and the Network to talk about the first day of Solidarity with the California prison hunger strikers and we constructed on the sidewalk an 11 x 7 block of territory. And we had somebody dress up in an orange suit that was reminiscent of the ones that the solitary confinement prisoners wear and we had them pace back and forth in this constructed cell, or had them sit on a chair and stare at passersby as they walked by. The person in the orange jumpsuit was me but the entire time this was going on I'm thinking that there are millions of people, as I'm making eye contact with people as they're walking down the street, that there are millions of people who have some uncle, some cousin, some brother, some sister, who at that moment, they could see, that this is something that effects literally millions of people, tens of millions of people have their lives enmeshed in the snarling jaws of the criminal injustice system. I just think it's really important to get at what's at stake here and to return to what's at stake, what are the conditions that we're really dealing with, this slow genocide—from the front-end policies like stop-and-frisk and gang injunctions in LA, all the way up to people who like Ramarley Graham, face the ultimate fate as the end of that criminalization, to schools that fail them and a society that deems them as criminals. Leading all the way up, say you're just one of these kids that just get swept up, find their lives in and out of the revolving door of the prison injustice system, for some reason or no reason at all being accused of being a gang member or some association, having a tattoo or not having one, or some pictures you may or may not have up on your wall, you're accused of being a gang member, you're moved to solitary confinement. You try to protest or demand that they change those conditions. You're moved from a cell that's a small windowless cage to a large windowless cage that they call exercise, they leave you in that state for days and months on end. This is torture, it fits the international definition of torture. And what we have to do has to be commensurate to actually halting back and reversing that. This is a genocidal trajectory, emphasis on trajectory. Acceleration, they just don't stop is the other thing. It doesn't just remain the same, in that it doesn't just stop when we act to resist these things. But we have to act to halt and reverse this genocidal trajectory. And I'm here to tell you brothers and sisters that the SMIN is a force in society that's out there whose mission it is to halt and reverse the genocidal trajectory of mass incarceration and put an end to that once and for all. And we have a plan to do exactly that and transform the political terrain around that this summer.

We're looking at the trial of George Zimmerman, which concentrates yet another lethal aspect of the system of mass incarceration and the criminalization of the youth, these youth with targets on their backs. Also with this prisoners' hunger strike on July 8, which again from the worst of the worst, these people who, with the same collection of resisters have put out a call for a cessation of hostilities among races, inside and outside the prisons; they have put this out and it's an amazing document to be coming from the so-called worst of the worst. And this summer is an arc of resistance against that, where we're seeking to transform the terrain against that, specifically looking at these specific nodal points, these two concentrations of the lethal edges of the New Jim Crow....

Some folks have spoken to this about what it means in a situation like this, what it means not to act. And what it means in a situation where tens of thousands of prisoners are held in solitary confinement as we speak right now in these torturous and barbaric conditions and what it means to let that go by without so much as a whimper from society. That anybody with an iota of justice or any semblance of humanity, that to not act in a situation like that means to lose your humanity, means to lose what makes you human in that situation. So not only do they lose, but we all lose in a situation like that where they are allowed to get away with doing this to people who they have called the "worst of the worst." This is just a concentration of a genocidal logic. What does it mean that an Illinois senator, a public figurehead, can openly call for rounding up 18,000 Black and Latino youth and shutting them up behind bars as a solution to something that's brought down on their heads. That is a genocidal logic and we need to act in accordance to stop that....

And the last things that I wanted to get to, as we're talking about and a lot of people have put a lot of thought and a lot of words tonight into what's been described in the editorial of Revolution newspaper as a cauldron of contradictions this summer. And when you look out at the world right now, in the midst of things that we were mentioning around mass incarceration but then also the scaling back of women's rights and the virtual denial of abortion in rural areas. You have these wars for empires and drone bombs that are being flown around the world. You have the outrage of folks like Bradley Manning awaiting trial while the world's leaders who have done these crimes sit atop a pile of the loot that they have essentially robbed the world of. We're in a situation where we have Edward Snowden, an NSA leaker, making compelling revelations about what is the actual nature of the NSA. You have a time when all these things are coming to a head: the prisoners' hunger strike, the trial of George Zimmerman, the faultlines around mass incarceration. And what it means in a time like this to act with the SMIN, it means giving all that you can, it means not just letting this be some small movement that does a few things here or there. It means not just having a few days of solidarity and patting ourselves on the back after we've done it.

What it means is contributing funds and going out to gather large funds to actually make this movement a mainstream movement in society that transforms the political terrain around it. To do less in a situation like this leaves the system of mass incarceration grinding on, leaves these horrors existing in the world. So people should contribute funds and give generously to the Stop Mass Incarceration Network. People should go out of their ways to find people who can give. Think of all the people that want to put an end to things like this, who want to put an end to things like stop-and-frisk, but don't know how they can contribute. Well, fundraising and giving funds is one way that people can contribute that no matter where you are and no matter how much time you have, that it can matter. It gets to the resistance like these whistles that we give to the youth in the ghettos and barrios of New York to defend themselves against the abuses of the police and transform themselves into revolutionaries and resisters. It gets delegations down to Sanford. It gets delegations of folks like Noche Diaz and Cephus Johnson down to Stanford to show people that there are some people who didn't get the memo that "you can't do anything about this." It gets those things. So people should give and give generously and even more than that. We should go out and seek those who can transform and really make this movement a mainstream movement that can transform society around the question of mass incarceration, not just to make some gains around stop-and-frisk, not just to make some wins against this New Jim Crow, a few days off of slavery, a few days where we can sit at Woolworth's counter a couple hours longer, but putting an end to a system that keeps Blacks and Latinos as a pariah class in the United States. So folks, get with the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, give generously, give your time, your ideas, give your funds. And let's work together to act to stop this slow and grinding genocide.




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Landmark Decisions on Same Sex Marriage...The Struggle Must Continue

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and upheld the overturning of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. Both rulings have far-reaching implications for the basic rights of same-sex couples, and people across the country celebrated!

June 27, 2013. People celebrate Marriage Equality in downtown Orlando, Florida. Photo: AP

From the more than 30 rallies held in California alone, to more than 150 other "Decision Day" and "Marriage Equality" events across the country, people from all backgrounds stood together to celebrate these landmark decisions, which represented the legal recognition of same-sex love—after centuries of torment, humiliation, shame, and cruelty against LGBT people. This was evidenced in the bright smiles and defiant spirit of thousands of couples filling the streets across the nation in jubilant and triumphant crowds, carrying giant rainbow flags, t-shirts and signs, celebrating the decision.

This ruling in large part came about due to decades of struggle by LBGT people for equal rights and against the whole way they are discriminated against in society. But at the same time, there are stark limits to what was actually won in the Supreme Court decisions. This reflects the limits of what this oppressive system can and will offer when it comes to actually liberating social and gender relations. These rulings were very narrow, significantly rooted in "states' rights" logic, which leaves us with a situation where same-sex marriage is still illegal in the great majority of states.

"Defending Marriage"

DOMA is a bill that was first signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996. This is a reactionary law, which came at a time when the acceptance of gay, lesbian, transgender, and other non-traditional sexualities was spreading and growing throughout society. The signing of this bill into law represented a real backlash against increasing acceptance of LBGT people and widespread acknowledgement of the legitimacy of same-sex love and relationships. For over a decade, this law—supported in full force by the Vatican and the most conservative Republican legislators—has ensured that same-sex couples (even in the states that have legalized same-sex marriage) find themselves in many situations unable to be recognized as parents of their children, inherit wealth from deceased partners, sponsor foreign-born spouses for green cards in the U.S., or have access to visit their partners in hospitals in emergency situations, and it has effectively locked millions out of over a thousand other institutionalized benefits of marriage.

Declaring DOMA unconstitutional does represent a big change in U.S. law. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in the case, stated a sweeping principle: that DOMA was an affront to "the equal dignity of same-sex marriages." He went on to say that DOMA was unconstitutional because it was intended to "disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity."

Kennedy points to something real and important when he refers to equal dignity and critiques the odious intentions and effects of DOMA. However, through these rulings, the Supreme Court actually sidestepped this essential question—because apparently, for the Court, the equal dignity of people is still an issue that should be left up to states to decide! So DOMA was struck down, but in its decision with regard to Proposition 8, the question of whether or not same-sex couples can receive the same rights as heterosexual couples was left to the states to decide. And in 37 of the 50 states, same-sex marriage is thus still illegal. Whether same-sex couples actually have basic rights has been left to the mercies of the political process in conservative states like Utah, Texas, and Alabama.

Proposition 8 and "States' Rights"

Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage in California, passed with a 52 percent vote in 2008. In 2010, a ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker overturned that law, in a decision that was celebrated from California to New York.

The June 26 Supreme Court decision upheld Walker's ruling and legalizes same sex marriage in California along with all that comes with that.

But the ruling leaves in place all other state laws banning same sex marriage, and the court refused to say whether there was a constitutional right to such unions, in what is rightly being called a "cowardly move." Evading this issue means failing to declare that LGBT people are human beings, and leaves millions across the vast majority of this country without these basic rights. This amounts to implicitly institutionalizing the "right" of states to outlaw same-sex marriage.

We analyzed the fuller meaning of this kind of ruling in "Same-Sex Marriage: A Basic Right, A Just Demand" (Revolution #300, April 7, 2013): "Such a ruling would potentially create a situation similar to the U.S. before the Civil War, when there were 'free states' and 'slave states,' except that this time there would be states where same-sex couples could marry and states where they could not. The rights of same-sex couples would not be recognized under state law in states that banned same-sex marriage. And 'states' rights' was the rallying cry of the segregationists during the civil rights movement. This is not a logic that anyone opposed to prejudice, discrimination, and the violent enforcement of those things should want to have anything to do with!"

Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, recently said, "....traditional families are what are going to end up leading our renewal, that moms and dads or husbands and wives that love their children with all their heart and soul is going to be the path to restoration for our country." (interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, June 14, 2013) According to this quote from Bush, there is something wrong with the love that same-sex couples show to their children—and the domination of this kind of thinking, in big sections of the country, inscribed in law at the state level, is exactly what the the "states' rights" logic of the Supreme Court decisions enshrines. Basic human rights should never be up to the states, especially reactionary states, to decide!

The fact that the Supreme Court has in this instance actually recognized same-sex marriage, even in this truncated and narrow way, reinforces wrong views that this system is "self-correcting," is somehow "slowly moving towards equality," and that the way to end inequality and oppression is to work through the political structures, the courts, the legislatures, elections, etc.

Two key points here: One, these courts, legislatures, elected officials and the whole process of elections were forged from the beginning and have developed over the years as a way to enforce the basic oppressive relations of capitalism. The whole process by which Prop 8 was passed in California is a concentrated example of this—and it is being spread across the country. It has been a way to pass reactionary and fascist measures while saying, "This is the will of the people." In actuality, putting these rights up for a vote continues "an outrageous precedent [that has been] set: that any right of any group of people can be put 'up for a vote,' at the mercy of religious lunatics, people locked in the grip of ignorance, and fascist manipulators." [Revolution #300]

Secondly, it is a basic and crucial point that any movement for any significant and important social change has to go outside the political framework of elections and the system to make any real progress at all. And none of the changes happening in society toward achieving equality for same-sex couples would have ever come about without tremendous struggle waged by LGBT people and others against the widespread discrimination and persecution faced by LGBT people and to change the whole climate and attitude in society toward same-sex couples.

 "A Massive Disruption of the Current Social Order"

In his dissent to a the 2003 Supreme Court decision on Lawrence vs. Texas,which struck down the sodomy law in Texas Scalia bemoaned, "What a massive disruption of the current social order." To the extent this is true now, this is a fine thing—and what is urgently needed is further, deeper, and outside-the-system disruption!

Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has said, about the struggle for the rights of same-sex couples, " its principal aspect this has, and can to an even greater degree have, a very positive, 'subversive of the system' effect. This is a contradiction which, in the society overall, is 'out of the closet.' It could be forced back into the closet, and underground, with not only the stronger assertion of the kind of fascist movement that is being supported and fostered by powerful ruling class forces in this period, but with the actual assumption of a fascist form of bourgeois dictatorship. But the struggle against the oppression of gay people is not going to be easily suppressed." (BAsics 3:25)

These cases have come before the Supreme Court in a situation in which there have been rapidly changing attitudes in this society toward LGBT people, coming into collision with reactionary laws that starkly repress LGBT people. Gay and lesbian sexuality is a broad societal phenomenon that affects society and expresses itself in every sphere—from the military, to business, to the government and social and cultural life. And there are conflicts within the ruling class over how to respond to this.

The Scalias of the world, including most of the Republican Party and religious forces including the Mormons and the Catholic Church, insist on state enforcement of traditional values, very much including denial of same-sex marriage, as crucial for preserving the system in times of great turmoil.

Others in the ruling class, including the position taken in this case by Justice Kennedy and the majority of the Supreme Court, see a need to accommodate this aspect of diversity and expression in order for society to function. And they also recognize the need for the U.S. to project an "enlightened" image on this internationally and that the U.S. is even somewhat "coming from behind" on this, with many other countries already allowing same-sex marriage.

At the same time, this is a very dicey and potentially explosive contradiction for the system, exactly because this runs counter to the patriarchy and "traditional family values." And even as there are forces within the ruling class who see the need to recognize LGBT relations in society, they are trying to normalize this within the framework of patriarchy, patriotism, and the overall relations of inequality and oppression in this society.

The Supreme Court decisions, while ending the oppressive legislation in DOMA, essentially leave intact the prevailing oppressive system of gender relations—including a culture where throughout society people who do not conform to rigid gender roles are not seen or treated as fully human; an oppressive, hateful, dehumanizing culture of bullying, harassment, alienation, and violence continues to target those who do not fit neatly into the rigid definitions presented by archaic tradition.

One sharp example of this reality is New York City, which has the highest reported gay population in the country (nearly 300,000 people). Look at Mark Carson, 32 years old, who just last month was murdered in cold blood in Greenwich Village by a man who followed him down the street, taunting him with anti-gay slurs and yelling, "Do you want to die tonight?" before shooting him down in the street. Look at the five other anti-gay hate crimes that were committed within TWELVE DAYS of Carson's murder, in New York City alone!! Look at the TWENTY-ONE anti-gay hate crimes that have been committed in New York City so far in 2013.

We are at a moment when the outrages of this system stand raw and angry before us. Villages targeted by drones, U.S. kill lists drawn up in secret, mass incarceration and the torture of solitary confinement, widespread government surveillance. The list of outrages goes on and on. To even discuss that there is a problem with this system in a serious and real way is almost completely banned by the system's media watchdogs and gatekeepers. Yet seething beneath the surface is profound anger and discontent, surfacing now here, now there.

This is the situation in which the Supreme Court has issued its rulings upholding same-sex marriage, seeking to shore up the legitimacy of a system that is in trouble and which has treated LGBT people in a vicious and savage way for centuries—and which is now offering same-sex marriage only in a limited way. What the Supreme Court decisions, the real history of LGBT people in this society, and most fundamentally what the real nature of this system actually show is that we need a revolution and a radically new and different socialist system as part of a transition to a communist world. We have a chance to be part of a revolution to overturn ALL oppression and injustice—who would want to settle for anything less?




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

BA Everywhere Online Summer 2013 Crowdfunding Campaign:

Making a Difference, Changing the World

June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Campaign Site Updated Regularly

"Contribute to the BA Everywhere Summer Campaign to spread the liberating vision and framework for a radically different world developed by the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian. At a time when people and the planet are in peril, when youth from Turkey to Brazil are raising their heads, imagine the difference it would make if people knew about and engaged a whole better way the world could be." –From the Indiegogo site for the BA Everywhere crowdfunding campaign

Go to the Indiegogo page right now. Forward it to everyone you know and contact them to donate now so that there are funds to launch the BA Everywhere Summer 2013 Campaign.

This campaign fills an enormous need of the people around the world rising in struggle, of all who are agonizing over the outrageous injustices of the world—bringing to them that there is a radically different way the world could be through revolution...bringing to them word about BA and his work...and involving many, many people in raising funds so that BA will indeed be known everywhere.

The financial goal of the Indiegogo campaign is to raise $20,000—the minimum funds needed for the summer plans. This full amount must be raised by July 15, 11:59 p.m. To be on track to accomplish this, $10,000 must be raised by Wednesday night, July 3, with plans to raise even more funds on July 4-8.

Also, on July 15, in a few cities around the country, BA Everywhere is launching one-week Revolution—Nothing Less! Van Tours. These tours will involve volunteers going out in decorated small vans with AV equipment to bring the BA Everywhere fundraising campaign, the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, and the book BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian out to people in the 'hoods, to middle class areas, to concerts and cultural events, and even to some resort areas. These Van Tours will serve to forge a core of people who are taking up the BA Everywhere campaign; to catapult the work begun over these few weeks to a new level; and to spread BA Everywhere to new strata of people—raising funds and bringing forward people every step of the way.

Right now, BA Everywhere Committees in different cities, and all who want to be a part of filling this great need:

  1. Reach out to everyone you know and call on them to donate to this campaign. If you haven't given yet, go right away to the Summer 2013 BA Everywhere page to donate @ Indiegogo: Contribute as much as you can, write a comment about why you did so, and call on others to contribute too.
  2. Tell everyone you can think of—via email, Twitter, person-to-person, etc.—to also go to Indiegogo and donate to BA Everywhere.
  3. Send in short video/audio/written statements about why you are donating to BA Everywhere—and encourage others to do the same. Send in these testimonials to both and
  4. Begin planning for the Revolution—Nothing Less! Van Tours—lining up volunteers, borrowing or renting vehicles, planning an itinerary; deciding what AV equipment you will need, producing the printed material to spread the word.
  5. Check back regularly @ the BA Everywhere Indiegogo page and @—to see how this crowdfunding campaign is going, and to read/see/hear statements from different people who are participating.
  6. Graphic designers, video editors, videographers, photographers, social media experts—you can make a big difference. Write us @
  7. Everyone: Volunteer @ and we can connect you with a local committee or work with you via email.




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Professor Calls on Educators Who "Want to See a Different World" to Match His Donation to "BA Everywhere Summer 2013"

June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Dennis Loo, Ph.D., a sociologist and author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society, made this challenge to teachers and professors in response to the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to launch the BA Everywhere Summer 2013: Making a Difference, Changing the World! This campaign will fund spreading the liberating vision and framework for a radically different world developed by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian. At a time when people and the planet are in peril, when youth from Turkey to Brazil are raising their heads, this campaign is filling a great need. Imagine the difference it would make if people knew about and engaged a whole better way the world could be.

* * * * *

Dear Friends at BA Everywhere:

I am a Professor of Sociology and chose this field in part because I wanted to more deeply understand the world and help others understand the world in order to change it. I know that there are many in the academic community who go into their fields for similar reasons and who can and should be donating to this Indiegogo fund drive.

I am putting up a $500 challenge to other teachers and professors to match my donation.

Here is why I am donating. Let me know why you chose to match this.

When the RCP began several years ago to promote BA as the cutting edge of what they do I was skeptical. How can one person be that important? Then I began to read his new synthesis. For those of us who aren't "feeding at the trough" and who instead want to see a different world than the horrors being played out before our very eyes now, his work and his role are frankly indispensable. I certainly am a different person because of his influence and in particular his breakthroughs on questions like the role of a vanguard party relative to the question of truth and how a party, while critical, does not by definition have a monopoly over truth. This is inextricably tied in with his views about the "wrangling" nature of genuine communists and Marxism—real revolutionaries are not afraid of debate and contention but welcome it because it is through that process that truth comes to be known. If you're wrong or partially wrong, you will find out if you engage in debate and discussion and if you're principled. Nobody has a monopoly over truth but this attitude of being always willing to wrangle over questions and this recognition of the complexity of reality and life—this is something terribly precious! Whether you agree with communism and communists or not, this spirit can only be something that you must welcome and want to foster.

Dennis Loo, Ph.D.

* * * * *

Will you meet Dr. Loo's challenge and answer his call? If you want to make a big difference in whether there is going to be the possibility of really radical change, then, this is the campaign for you. Donate $500—or, more—to help the Indiegogo campaign reach the goal of $20,000 by the July 15 deadline to fund the summer project of BA Everywhere. To donate, go to





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

A Call to Donate: "I felt like clouds were moving aside"

June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |



From a young woman volunteering with BA Everywhere

When I first learned of Bob Avakian, I attended a listening and discussion at Revolution Books of the radio interview done by Cornel West in October 2012. There I bought a copy of BAsics, which is always recommended as a good book to begin with and a book everyone should have.

Reading that book began a process of transformation, in the sense that things that were once cloudy or seemed complex and that I didn't have a very clear understanding of, suddenly became very clear. I knew of many of these injustices and that masses of people have been and are being oppressed and exploited by the system of capitalism. But this book was able to show me in a basic but very clear sense, the roots of all of this injustice, and how it is ingrained in the makings of this system and that as long as we are living within this system, there is no way to reform it that can eliminate the suffering of one group in order to satisfy another, such as the prospering of big companies at the expense of child labor in other countries. And that for one to get to the top another must suffer in this system. It is a system and a country that was founded and built on a slave system core and continues to operate today by exploiting and oppressing people around the world for gain.

As I read on, there were certain sections that I actually felt like clouds were moving aside and a sunny blue sky was emerging. Things just became so clear and understandable. It was like when at the eye doctor and looking through the lens and trying to read a bunch of blurry letters, and the doctor keeps changing the lens, and each time the lens changes, your vision becomes so much clearer, and suddenly you're able to see and read what's in front of you, whereas before it was just fuzzy and confusing and you knew it wasn't right. And it's an experience that I've had quite a few times since reading more works from Bob Avakian. Also from seeing the film, BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less! Bob Avakian Live, and since then attending events at Revolution Books where we view segments of the film and have group discussions that really get into dissecting what is being said.

More people really need to start engaging with these big questions and learn more about Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism. His vision and strategy needs to get out in the world and people need to know that there is a way out of these horrors that so many are subjected to. There is a way where people can live fully enriching and enjoyable lives full of art and creativity, celebration and community, culture and education, and that they can all do this together without the suffering of others. Humanity as the whole world, not divided, and that this can all be done without the oppression, exploitation, abuse and starvation of others. That there is enough for all and that no one should be denied access to basic human necessities.

I am volunteering with the BA Everywhere National Committee this summer and I believe so strongly in the possibility of bringing this vision into being that I am beginning the transition to moving to New York City to become more involved in really taking BA Everywhere. This summer we have such big and exciting plans for really getting the name and the strategy out to the world and getting people talking, but we need everyone's contribution to make this happen. We need more volunteers who see the incredible importance that this will have just alone by getting people engaging and changing the discussions in society, but then by consistently growing and engaging and spreading further and further around the country and the world. If you are someone who knows there is injustice in this world and a great deal of suffering. If one person prospering off of many others blood, sweat and tears just doesn't sit right with you, than you need to learn about BA. Donate to this campaign, ask your friends and family to donate, share it on Twitter and your other social media sites, blog about it, let's get the world talking! Too many people don't know yet.

There are many other ways you can contribute by linking up with the committee through email at or by visiting Your donations are needed to really get this out in the world, to cultural scenes, neighborhoods, both ghettos & resorts, b-ball courts, bbq's, rooftop parties, block parties, music & film festivals, art shows and more! And the importance cannot even be measured. So I am calling on everyone to Donate now and contribute to bringing into being a Radically Different and Better Future for All of Humanity.




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Crowdfund the BA Everywhere Indiegogo Campaign Through Social Media

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


You are needed to make sure that many, many people find out about this campaign and donate to make it real. Share and spread this online, and get your friends together to help it reach farther. Whether you have five minutes or five hours, you can help!

Three Ways to Spread This:

  1. Donate! Then tell your social network why you donated, ask them to donate too and post links to the Indiegogo campaign [], the updates, and the campaign video to your social networks. Follow and repost from, Check and every day.
  2. Join the @BAEverywhere daily Twitter storm from 6 pm-9 pm EDT starting Monday, July 1. Wednesday, July 3, and Thursday, July 4 will be particularly important, going up against the celebration of this monstrous empire and giving people ways to contribute to making really radical change. Steal our tweets to get this out wider and trending—don't retweet.

    Use our tweets and Facebook posts and write your own! Make sure to link the indiegogo campaign []. Let us know where you post and what's the response, positive and negative, what questions get brought up, and discussions that get provoked! We want to hear from you and your thoughts!
  3. Volunteers needed: email BAEverywhere[at] if you can contribute by:
    • researching active pages, groups (Bradley Manning, Turkey, Brazil, Israel/Palestine, abortion, etc.) and organizations on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. Volunteers are also needed to post to the list as part of an organized effort.
    • assist in specializing our content: email feedback, any ideas, tips, and advice, and best practices.





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Two Comments on News Coverage of the Trial of Trayvon Martin's Killer

June 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |



To equate the term “cracker” with the term “nigger” is like equating a Jew in Nazi Germany calling a concentration camp guard a “kraut” with that guard calling that Jew a “kike.” The term “nigger” carries the sting of the lash because it has state power and 400 years of organized, systematic, and unpunished rape, robbery, and murder behind it, down to today; the other term does not.


Memo to all too many of the “talking heads” and commentators on the trial:

Are you trying to reveal your utterly racist scorn for the witness Rachel Jeantel... or is it just that you can’t help your sorry-ass white supremacist selves?

Well, either way—FUCK YOU!




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

On the Importance of the Slogan "We Are All Trayvon, the Whole Damn System Is Guilty"

By Clyde Young | June 24, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In a recent meeting, a Black youth objected to (and argued that he could not take out) a slogan which has been raised by the movement for revolution and the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN). Specifically, in opposition to the slogan “We Are All Trayvon,” he argued that it is Blacks and not “everyone” who are the target of racial profiling, police brutality and murder and the pipeline leading to mass incarceration. And further that the system has declared open season on Blacks and not on “all of us” and that Black people have been subjected to oppression, brutality and murder throughout history because of the color of their skin. Opposition to the slogan “We Are All Trayvon” has surfaced “around and about” and it is important to speak to what is and what is not meant by that slogan, countering not only the confusion/opposition of some youth but also the promotion of such opposition by those who should know better.

First, it cannot be denied–and no one who hates the way the world is and wants to be part of fighting to bring a better world into being–should want to deny the reality that Blacks and Latinos are the targets of police brutality and murder. Black families in particular work to prepare youth–especially those who grow to be very large—for encounters with the police and are fearful of their loved ones coming into contact with the enforcers of the state, who roam the streets like “robot gunslingers”...“spreading death as night lamps flash crude reflections from gun butts and police shields.”

And over and over again the murder of Blacks and Latinos is considered “justifiable homicide”—“two of the most wounding words in the English language” for the families of those who have been gunned down in the streets and sometimes even in their own homes by marauding police.

Furthermore, Black people have been subjected to the most brutal and savage oppression since the first Africans were brought to the shores of this country, and that oppression has continued in different forms right down to today. This is the reality—despite the attempts of the rulers and their apologists and defenders—to cover up, distort and obscure the whole history in this country of white supremacy and the brutal oppression of Black people...and the near genocide of the native peoples. This basic truth is powerfully captured in BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! in which Bob Avakian speaks to “...the ugly truth that in the way this country has been built and for the powers-that-be in this country the humanity of Black people has never counted for anything; they have never been valued as human beings but only as things to be exploited, oppressed and repressed.” That is a very powerful truth which underscores why we say that it is going to take revolution and nothing less to end the oppression of Black (and other oppressed peoples) in the country.

Speaking even more specifically to the argument that “We Are Not All Trayvon,” it is true that Blacks and Latinos are the main targets of brutality and murder by the pigs and the slow genocide of mass incarceration. But Blacks and Latinos must not stand alone in the fight against the atmosphere of open season against the oppressed. People of all nationalities must step forward in this fight making clear to the system and its enforcers that their policy of declaring open season on Blacks and Latinos is going to be met with a powerful response coming from people of all nationalities, a response that will impact all of society. This is why the slogan, “We Are All Trayvon, the Whole Damn System is Guilty,” is so important and needs to become the rallying cry for thousands and millions of people in the fight for justice for Trayvon Martin. At the same time, the “We Say No More” statement—which the SMIN is raising funds to publish in a major newspaper in Florida during the trial of the wannabe cop Zimmerman—also needs to have broad public influence: “The killing of Trayvon Martin and 2.4 million in prison make clear that there is a whole generation of Black and Latino youth who have been marked and treated as a ‘generation of suspects’ to be murdered and jailed. This is not an issue for Black people alone but for all who care about justice; it is not a random tragedy. We say NO MORE!"





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

"From Harlem and the Bronx: We are All Trayvon! The Whole Damn System is Guilty!"

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

June 24—On the first day of opening arguments in the trial of George Zimmerman, revolutionaries and others went to the Harlem State Office Building, which is a busy crossroads and a common place for protest. During rush hour, they called on the people to join in delivering a bold message for justice for Trayvon Martin. During rush hour Monday, a banner made by a former member of the Black Panther Party was the centerpiece of a swirling scene at 125th and 7th Ave in Harlem. Twelve feet long, bright yellow, the banner was stretched out along the base of a statue that is a local landmark. Black and red lettering proclaimed, "From Harlem and the Bronx: We are All Trayvon! The Whole Damn System is Guilty!" with the word "System" stamped over a drawing of a pig outlined with words like "police, courts, media, racist vigilantes, Zimmerman." Bob Avakian's quote, BAsics 1:13, "No more generations of our youth..." written in two-inch-high red letters occupied a third of the banner.

Harlem NY, June 24, 2013: "We are all Trayvon: The whole damn system is guilty"

Harlem June 24, 2013: Justice for Trayvon

There was an initial reluctance to break out of the routine—the day-to-day—and the message that this system hammers into people every day, "You can't change anything," is combined with the official message around the Zimmerman trial: "You can do nothing, it's out of your hands." But the hesitation soon gave way to more unleashed outrage and defiance.

Two people took turns hammering at the stakes of this trial, drawing from BA Speaks: REVOLUTIONNOTHING LESS! to get at the whole history of this country from slavery, to Jim Crow, to the New Jim Crow. They spoke about a slow genocide that could become a fast one, and how revolution and nothing less is needed. The Revolution Club member spoke very directly to the youth. He said that it was Bob Avakian and beginning to see a way out of what this system does to Black and Latino youth, to women, to the people of the world that had changed his life. He challenged people to demand justice for Trayvon and learn about this revolution. People listened. A young Arab man listened, signed the banner, and listened some more.

It was the grandmothers who were the first to speak out. A woman got up out of her wheelchair as she spoke. "This was no self-defense! George Zimmerman already had it in his mind to shoot that boy when he stepped out of that car. We calling for justice!" Her words were bitter and seemed to be wrenched from deep inside. Another grandmother joined in: "People got to be willing to stand up for this or it's open season on Black youth. It is genocide. We cannot rest until he [Zimmerman] serves his time. What he did is criminal." A woman who had received an email to be at the corner held an enlarged Revolution centerfold comparing the murder of Trayvon to the murder of Emmett Till, and she struggled with others to stop and hold up the posters with Trayvon's face on them.

A segment of the adults who stopped to talk felt that George Zimmerman will be let free. "That's what they always do," one man said. With pain and anger, many went on to talk about bitter experience after bitter experience in their personal lives and in infamous cases like Ramarley Graham, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. Some recalled the outrage felt when the cops who were caught on video viciously beating Rodney King to within an inch of his life were found not guilty.

"I'm so glad to see you out here." This was said in one form or another by many people.

All up and down the major street, 125th Street, people talked about the trial, and the stakes, is revolution possible, what is communism. A vendor pointed people toward the plaza where this scene was unfolding. A supporter of the revolution stopped in a McDonald's as he was leaving school and overheard youth talking about what they had written on the banner.

One woman in her 50s who had signed the banner early on and bought a copy of Revolution and a Trayvon poster said, "I think this is to the point where it's God that will have to solve it." She went to talk about how the youth are caught up in bs. "We need more like him," she said, pointing at the Revolution Club member, a young Black man who was standing on the base of the statue, holding a life-size cutout of Trayvon and agitating to the crowd.

The scene began to blossom not long after this conversation.

More and more people stepped up, including a significant number of the youth with their pants sagging. One woman said, "I think we're too quick to judge these young people. We can be too self righteous." A group of young men stopped, one wrote: "I ride 4 Trayvon. We won't live this way." He and two friends wanted to know how it would be possible to take on the power of this system. They stayed for a while and wrangled over Fight The Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, and the kind of leadership we have in BA. They want to get BAsics, the manual for revolution.

A group of high school youth in uniforms were being hurriedly shepherded through the area by their teacher. "Keep going, keep going." When the teacher was challenged to stop and let the class sign the banner, he responded that he had to get them to the subway. He took a stack of the BAsics 1:13 quote cards and handed them out to the students. Another revolutionary shouted, "This system has drawn a target on your backs, just like Trayvon." One student, a boy 14 or 15 years old, bolted back to the banner and signed it. Then another group of students escaped the teacher's supervision and hurried back to the banner.

A door was beginning to open and the deeply felt anger at the long chain of abuse of Black people, and especially the attacks on the youth that is concentrated in Trayvon's murder, began to pour out. Well over a hundred people wrote messages on the banner.

Dozens of people were holding up their phones and taking pictures of the enlarged Revolution centerfold "No more generations of our youth...," the sidewalk chalkings of "Revolution—Nothing Less," and "Justice 4 Trayvon," the banner and moving on to the 11 x 17 poster with the picture of Trayvon in a hoodie and "We are all Trayvon! The Whole Damn System is Guilty!. Don't Let Zimmerman Walk Free!" and People were eager to send these pictures to friends and family, to spread a message from the people in Harlem on this opening day of the George Zimmerman trial.

It was hard to leave as people kept coming. "When are you coming back? I'll be here. We have to do this." Plans began to be made for bringing forward the most powerful statement we can, and building resistance to every effort to have people accept anything less than justice.

What happened on Monday was a little like widening cracks in a dam that allowed some water to start pouring out. Here are some of the things people wrote on the banner:

"We have to show that this is no longer acceptable." "Stop the killing of our youth." "George Zimmerman in jail for life!" "Put him in jail. From Harlem, NYC. The boy had no gun only food!!!" "Stand for something or fall for anything!" "Make the world a better place It is time. It's on it's way. Love not War." "We want justice now, No more Emmett Tills killed for being Black!" "We will not live like this." "Live on with us." "This ain't living, stop the killing." "Straight up murder did you hear him scream." "Stop the abuse of women! We can't live this way!! Stop the killing of our youth and poor people around the world!!!" "Time 4 Change" "Make a Difference!" "REVOLUTION!" "As a parent a child should be free of pre-judgmental individuals. Justice should be done as it was committed." "Children need to know they are safe in the streets!" "It could have been any of us. We are Trayvon." "RIP Trayvon—It's not right," signed by an 11-year-old. "God will deal with ignorant people." "Stand Up and Fight!" "This is not forgotten!" "I call justice and it will be taking place for Trayvon Martin." "Our Black Youths are Dying too Soon." "We must fight and stand together." "My sons are Trayvon. He lives on in all of us. Love and Peace. Harlem Mom" "Trayvon Martin should still be alive!" a nine-year-old wrote while her mom and grandmother watched in amazement.




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Kanye West Needs to Learn the Difference Between the Cry of Rebellion of the Slave (New or Old) and the Frustrated Rage of the Wannabe New Slave Master


by Sunsara Taylor and Carl Dix | June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In his new song, "New Slaves," Kanye West evokes the seismic brutality and grinding oppression inflicted on Black people since they were first dragged to these shores in slave chains. He indicts the cradle-to-prison pipeline that steals the lives of Black youth and rails against the cold, hard reality that no matter what one accomplishes, if one is Black they will continue to face dehumanizing and even life-threatening racism. Through this song, he declares himself in open rebellion against a racist industry that seeks to neuter and profit off his artistic talents and a broader society which has, as an expression of this very racism, repeatedly written off or dismissed Kanye's rants and anger as simply an outgrowth of "his oversized ego."

But where does Kanye take this? Unfortunately, instead of the cry of rebellion of the slave (new or old) who wants to not only get out of this madness himself but fight for a world where no one is oppressed, exploited, and degraded in this way, Kanye rages at the ways this ongoing oppression keeps him from being able to fully integrate himself into, and assume his place at the top of, the modern-day slave system.

This is expressed not only in the way Kanye constantly boasts of obscene wealth and conspicuous consumption in a world where so many suffer so endlessly (including those whose modern-day slave labor has produced all that material wealth). Even more, this comes through in Kanye's inability and/or unwillingness to envision a world that is not divided into oppressors and oppressed, exploiters and exploited, those on top and those on bottom. Encased within these terms, Kanye ends up making a principle—even an anthem—of fighting to be on top. As he puts it crudely in the chorus of "New Slaves": "I'd rather be a dick than a swallower."

Think about what this chorus is saying. That essentially this world is made up of two kinds of people. On the top are the "dicks," i.e., "real men" who get off on fucking over others. On the bottom are the "swallowers," i.e., women, as well as men who are being cast as women (the biggest insult that can be hurled at men today), who are viewed as nothing more than receptacles for some "dick's" semen. Kanye doesn't object to this dehumanizing division. Instead, he openly brags about and claims his place in it as a "dick."

And look at what actually goes on in this world where the half of humanity that is born female are treated as "swallowers."

Look at the way that women and girls are bombarded from a very young age—including by songs like this one—with the notion that their highest purpose in life is to be of sexual service to men. Look at the way men—trained in this same outlook from a very young age—routinely beat, rape, pimp, purchase, and otherwise insult and demean women on the street, in the homes, in the schools, in their relationships, and at workplaces. Look at the way women, if they actually have sex or even if they are sexually abused or raped, are considered "sluts" or "hos" and treated like soiled and unworthy garbage. Look at the millions of women and young girls throughout the world who are preyed upon and pimped out, drugged and beaten into submission, and sold as mere bodies to be violated and demeaned on the street or through the Internet. Look at the whole Christian fascist movement in this country that has assassinated abortion doctors and passed outrageous restrictions, all out of their desire to reduce women back to breeders of children and possessions of men. Look in the shelters and on the streets where poor and especially Black women have been evicted from public housing by the thousands, along with their children. Look at the desperate women who make up the bulk of the modern-day slave system of sweatshop exploitation all around the world.

Calling women "swallowers" accepts this enslavement and oppression. Bragging about being a "dick" celebrates being a wannabe slave master. Not only is this utterly unacceptable for how it views women, this kind of approach ultimately leads Kanye away from consistently challenging even the horrendous oppression of Black people he legitimately and powerfully indicts.

We see this very sharply in the closing verse of Kanye's song. Kanye rails against the way corporations have tried to control him and draws parallels to the private prison contractors making enormous profits off stealing the lives of Black youth. He calls out those who are sitting back in the Hamptons (one of the most elite and wealthy vacation spots) bragging about the wealth they made through this exploitation of Black people. But then, he rhymes, "Fuck you and your Hampton house, I'll fuck your Hampton spouse, Came on her Hampton blouse, And in her Hampton mouth." Here Kanye reduces his "rebellion" against the oppression and exploitation of Black people to a vision of revenge against this racist elite that has denied him full entry by defiling and degrading this elite's property, which is all that women in this view are deemed to be.

It is simply a fact that there is no fundamental difference between this view of women and the brutality and degradation and terror, imprisonment, and foreclosed futures of those who are born Black or Latino or other oppressed nationalities in this country. Indeed, the roots of both these forms of oppression are woven deep into the structures and culture of this capitalist-imperialist system and the struggle to end both these, and all other, forms of oppression are also bound together in the struggle to make real revolution to get rid of this system. How this is so is something that people need to get deeply into and a good place to start are the special issues of Revolution newspaper which deal in great depth with "The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of this System, and the Revolution We Need" and "A Declaration: For Women's Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity."

Today's modern-day slaves do NOT need the cry of revenge and degradation flowing from the frustrated aspirations of the new wannabe slave master. Humanity desperately and urgently needs the deepest cry and act of rebellion of the slaves who are determined to free not only themselves but all of humanity. This is the fight for real, all-the-way communist revolution as it has been re-envisioned by Bob Avakian (BA). And we need art and culture which celebrates this genuine rebellion and the strivings for really breaking free of all this enslavement, degradation, and self-degradation.

All this drives home the tremendous truth and significance of BAsics 3:22, a statement made by BA many years ago, which Kanye West, oppressed people everywhere, and all those who yearn to get free must learn from today:

"You cannot break all the chains, except one. You cannot say you want to be free of exploitation and oppression, except you want to keep the oppression of women by men. You can't say you want to liberate humanity yet keep one half of the people enslaved to the other half. The oppression of women is completely bound up with the division of society into masters and slaves, exploiters and exploited, and the ending of all such conditions is impossible without the complete liberation of women. All this is why women have a tremendous role to play not only in making revolution but in making sure there is all-the-way revolution. The fury of women can and must be fully unleashed as a mighty force for proletarian revolution."




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Supreme Court Guts Voting Rights Protection for Millions of Black and Latino People

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In 1965, the U.S. passed into law the Voting Rights Act, which removed some overt barriers to Black people exercising their right to vote. These blatant barriers—like requiring people to pass literacy tests or pay poll taxes before they could get to vote—had been in place in America for many decades, especially in the South through 100 years of Jim Crow segregation and KKK terror. This was so even though the Fifteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, passed after the Civil War, supposedly guarantees that no U.S. citizen can be denied the right to vote by the federal or a state government because of their “race, color, or conditions of previous servitude.”

Now the U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling announced on June 26, has basically gutted the Voting Rights Act—opening the door wide to all kinds of laws and actions by states and various jurisdictions that suppress the voting rights of Black, Latino, and other oppressed people. This will affect many millions of people quickly and directly. In fact, just hours after the ruling, the Texas Attorney General announced that his state’s voter ID law “will take effect immediately.” The law, which requires that people produce valid IDs recognized by the state before they can vote, had been blocked by a federal court because of the Voting Rights Act for discriminating against Blacks and Latinos.

The heart of the Voting Rights Act—what gave it its enforcement power until this Supreme Court ruling—is Section 5, which requires certain states and other jurisdictions to get pre-clearance from the federal government or court for any changes in laws or procedures relating to voting. This had prevented many schemes to limit the voting of Black and other oppressed people from going into effect up to this point. In addition to laws requiring photo IDs like the one in Texas, these schemes include actions like redrawing electoral district maps to the disadvantage of Black and Latino residents (known as gerrymandering).

The Supreme Court ruling did not invalidate Section 5 up front, but it did declare as unconstitutional Section 4—which specifies how states and other jurisdictions would be covered by the pre-clearance requirement. Under Section 4, nine entire states, mainly former slave states in the South, with the worst record of voter discrimination when the law went into effect in 1965—Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia—as well as scores of counties and other jurisdictions in other states, were under the pre-clearance requirement.

The Supreme Court’s decision to throw out Section 4 means that there are now no states or jurisdictions covered by the Section 5 pre-clearance requirement. That is why the Supreme Court ruling basically amounts to overturning the Voting Rights Act itself. The Court said Congress could come up with a new formula for coverage—but the widespread opinion among legal experts is that Congress is very unlikely to do this.

Representing the five-member majority in the Court’s decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” Roberts (and powerful sections of the ruling class) claim that voting discrimination against and disenfranchisement of Black and other people of color are things of the past and not part of “current conditions”—that this is now a so-called color-blind and post-racial society. During oral arguments in the case in February, Antonin Scalia, one of the five-member majority on the Court, even declared that the Voting Rights Act amounted to “racial entitlement.”

But the reality is that laws and measures in various forms that in effect suppress Black, Latino, and other minority votes are proliferating all over the country—in Texas and other states covered by the Voting Rights Act as well as across the country. For example, over 30 states have considered laws that require people to show a government-issued ID before they can vote (see “Voter Suppression in America” at Those behind the voting suppression moves don’t come out and say they want to restrict the voting of Black and other oppressed people. These are not racist measures, they claim, but are targeting things like “voter fraud” and trying to ensure the “integrity of elections.”

There are also millions of people who are disenfranchised because of laws in various states that deprive people of the right to vote if they have a criminal conviction—even after they are out of prison. Again, the claim is that these criminal disenfranchisement laws are “color-blind.” But because Black and Latino people are unjustly targeted by laws and the police, leading to a much larger percentage of Black and Latino people in prisons and the whole “criminal justice system” compared to whites, the criminal disenfranchisement laws in actual effect target those groups—leading to the situation where, for example, 13 percent of all African-American men have lost their right to vote.

Roberts’ claim that the racist voting laws targeted by the Voting Rights Act are no longer part of “current conditions” echoes the fact that poll taxes, literacy requirements, and other vote restriction measures in the Jim Crow era also didn’t specifically name Black people as targets. But the clear and intended effect of those measures was the suppression of Black voting. In the context of the horrific oppression of Black people in this country until the 1960s—enforced by racist police, courts, and laws and lynch mobs—one of the main forms that this oppression took was denying Black people even the right to vote.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was not some magnanimous gesture to benefit Black people by President Lyndon Johnson and other “enlightened” forces in the power structure. Black people in the Jim Crow South—joined by others—fought with determination and courage for the right to vote, and some even lost their lives in this fight. This hard-fought struggle—as part of the larger civil rights movement, the Black liberation struggle, and the overall upsurge of the times, forced the ruling class of this country into a concession in the form of the Voting Rights Act.

And now, with the vicious ruling on the Voting Rights Act (along with the ruling on affirmative action—see “Supreme Court Tightens Noose Around Affirmative Action”), the “highest court of the land” has ended even the pretense of continuing the legacy of the civil rights movement. This is an ugly, forceful re-assertion of white supremacy, which is so foundational to this country and integral to the way this system continues to operate.

The reality is that no serious social or political change has ever been, or ever will be, achieved through voting and the electoral process under this system. Voting and the whole process of elections serve to draw people into, and act within, the killing confines of the system, the dictatorship of the capitalist-imperialist class—and even to endorse the brutal exploitation, wars, assassinations and other crimes that the rulers carry out all over the world. But when that right to vote is under such heavy assault, as it is today for Black and other oppressed people, this must be decisively opposed and fought against—because those assaults are part of the continuation and even intensification of the overall oppression. (For more, see Bob Avakian’s discussion of the right to vote vs. exercising that right, in the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, in particular disc 2 of the DVD, chapter titled “The Election Hustle: ‘If They Draw You in, They Win.’”)

In his work “Three Strikes...” Bob Avakian says:

The book by Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has shined a bright and much needed light on the reality of profound injustices at the very core of this country.

And this brings me back to a very basic point:

This system, in this country, in the whole history of its treatment of Black people, what has it been?

First, Slavery... Then, Jim Crow—segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror... And now, The New Jim Crow—police brutality and murder, wholesale criminalization and incarceration, and legalized discrimination yet again.

That’s it for this system: Three strikes and you’re out!

The utterly reactionary ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court against the basic right of Black and other oppressed people to vote brings home yet again: this system in power today is totally illegitimate and profoundly against the real interests of the people.





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Supreme Court ruling in Fisher v. U. of Texas:

Supreme Court Tightens Noose Around Affirmative Action

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The Supreme Court on Monday, June 24, issued their ruling in the case of Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Abigail Fisher, a white Texas student, had sued the University claiming she had been a victim of racial discrimination when she was denied admittance. By a 7-1 ruling, the Court sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration. While this may seem to be a "benign" or "neutral" decision, it is anything but that.

In essence what all but one of the justices deciding the case agreed on was that the Appeals Court had been too lenient toward the University; that it had failed to "hold the university to the demanding burden of strict scrutiny" in proving that its admissions program, because it includes a secondary role for considering some applicants' nationality, wasn't discriminating against white students.

In other words, college admissions programs that give any consideration to the national/racial make up of the student body, or even the nationality of an individual applicant, can be required by the courts to meet the additional burden of proving that 1) a "compelling governmental interest" is involved; 2) every "race-neutral" means of achieving its objectives has been exhausted; and 3) in its crafting and its execution the university can demonstrate that it has been "narrowly tailored" to achieve that interest.

The Supreme Court banned affirmative action programs in the 1978 Bakke ruling and is now insisting that university admissions programs prove that they aren't trying to keep these programs and policies in place through deception.

Scalia and Thomas "Concur"

While there was agreement by a near-unanimous majority that the lower courts had failed to enforce this standard strictly enough on the University of Texas, Justices Scalia and Thomas, two virulent opponents of any consideration of race in college admissions, filed concurring opinions clarifying their reasons for signing on. Scalia wrote only a paragraph; Thomas' opinion was substantial. As Lyle Denniston reported, Justice Thomas' opinion "...was a lengthy essay on the history of racial segregation, and came very close to accusing modern-day proponents of 'affirmative action' of being the new segregationists.1

Thomas' opinion was also a broadside against previous rulings of the Court—in particular Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)—which had provided a narrow exception to the full blown ending of affirmative action—based on the argument that a certain amount of racial "diversity" could be shown to benefit the educational environment of those not the target of discrimination. Thomas wrote; "As should be obvious, there is nothing "pressing" or "necessary" about obtaining whatever educational benefits may flow from racial diversity." To Thomas there is no reason why the government should be concerned about the continued discrimination in colleges and universities, and in society, that keeps students of oppressed nationalities out.

According to Denniston, Justice Ginsberg, the sole dissenting vote, complained "the lower court had already conducted the analysis that the [Supreme] Court was telling it to do over again. She also made the secondary point that she strongly favors the use of race when that is a 'benign' method of making up for a long history of racial discrimination in America."2 Justice Kagan did not take part in the deliberations because she had been involved previously in the case while working for Obama.

Affirmative Action

In the face of tenacious, courageous struggle in 1950s and 1960s, the rulers of the U.S. made concessions in granting formal equality to African-Americans. Overt rules against admitting Black students to universities, for example, were thrown out. But these changes hardly scratched the surface in terms of ending inequality. Granting "equal access" to universities to everyone with grade point averages, advanced placement courses, and skill sets that are only available to people with access to libraries, tutors, or good schools still locked the vast majority of Black people out of universities. And the same was true in all kinds of realms of society, from good-old-boy networks that were a requirement to become fire fighters, to traditionally "whites only" positions in corporations. Under these circumstances, some concessions were made beyond simply getting rid of "whites only" regulations. Affirmative action policies that, for example, set aside a certain number of jobs, or college admission positions for Black people, did scratch the surface of generations of discrimination. These affirmative action policies were far from enough, but they immediately came under ferocious assault from the powers-that-be, usually in the form of claiming addressing systemic discrimination any meaningful way constituted so-called "reverse discrimination." In this way, the principle of formal "equality" was invoked to maintain and deepen historic injustices.

Courts Sanction Denial of Opportunity: The Bakke Decision

In the famous Regents of the State of California v. Bakke decision in 1978, the Supreme Court struck down as unfair to white students the admissions program at the UC Medical School at Davis. The school's admissions program had been aimed at 1) overcoming the historic denial of access of oppressed nationalities in medical schools and the medical profession; 2) countering the effects of societal discrimination; 3) increasing the number of physicians who would practice in communities currently underserved; and 4) obtain the educational benefits that flow from an ethnically diverse student body.

The Supreme Court's ruling in Bakke declared that any efforts to affect the racial composition in college admissions through affirmative action were unconstitutional, because they discriminate against and disadvantage those who are benefiting from that continued discrimination—students of the dominant nationality. In the case of Bakke, UC Davis Medical School supposedly had 16 of its 100 freshman positions set aside for applicants of oppressed nationalities. This so-called "quota system" was the explicit target.

The ugly result of banning affirmative action was the dramatic drop-off in admissions of Black, Latino, and other historically under-represented students. At the University of California Law School, in the year after affirmative action was banned in admissions, not a single Black student was admitted and enrolled in its freshman class of 170 students. In graduate schools across California, the numbers of Latinos, Filipino-Americans, and African-Americans in graduate school fell by 18 percent. Applications to the University of Texas law school from Black students fell 26 percent and applications from Latino students were down by 23 percent. Consider what the ripple effect must have been when some of the country's largest graduate school systems produced fewer doctors, lawyers, and others who serve oppressed nationality communities.

Admissions boards can consider race or nationality only as one of many secondary factors that go into a "holistic" approach to evaluating applicants; not with the goal of reducing discrimination, but of providing a diverse learning environment for the rest of the student body. These admissions programs have led to modest increases in the percentages of oppressed nationality students at the schools and universities around the country; but seldom have they gone beyond those prior to Bakke.

The University of Texas patterned its admissions program after that of Harvard University, which was described as "exemplary" in the Bakke decision. Eighty percent or more of its freshmen class come from the "Top Ten Percent Law" that automatically admits Texas high school seniors in the top 10 percent of their class. The remaining Texas residents compete for admission based on academic and personal achievement scores. Within this final factor, nationality is considered as one "plus" factor. And this is only considered on an individual basis; the aggregate numbers of different nationalities are not considered during this process.

Challenging the lower court's decision to accept the U. of Texas's admissions policy in particular, a message has been sent that white students anywhere in the country who believe they were unfairly rejected for admission because of "reverse discrimination" can sue, with the burden on the college or university to prove that its admissions policies meet the strict criteria of the Court.

Will this ruling convince university administrators to voluntarily "self-censor," and rewrite their admissions policies to ensure race is eliminated as a factor in any way? It remains to be seen. But looking into the future, as Mary Dudziak, author and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law at Emory University pointed out, "The court's approach also puts judges in the driver's seat for determining college admissions programs. This leaves the court with an outsized role in setting educational policy."3

Putting an End to the Historical Crime of Slavery and Its Legacy Will Take a Revolution

The reality is that one sharp expression of the continued effect of the historical crime of slavery is the way that African-Americans have been systematically denied access to the colleges, universities, and graduate and professional schools. The very first statement in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is this: "There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth." (BAsics, 1:1)

Contrast the way the highest court in the land has, for decades, marshaled all of its power and authority against any and every attempt to overcome the continuing legacy of oppression and exploitation in the realm of education, with what is said in the Constitution of the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) about the active role the socialist state will play in finally overcoming this inequality and oppression after the revolution:

the orientation, laws and policies of the government of the New Socialist Republic in North America shall also attach great importance to—and shall wield to the fullest extent the political, legal and moral force, authority and influence of the government on behalf of—achieving the full equality of nationalities within this Republic and to overcoming the whole history and continuing effects of national oppression, not only in this society but throughout the world. (p.77)

It will take a revolution, and nothing less, to finally put an end to this long nightmare of discrimination and oppression for the millions and millions of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and others. The very reason it is so crucial and urgent for the movement for revolution to take hold among the youth in the colleges and universities, and in the high schools, as a powerful revolutionary force, is also the reason the ruling class insists on keeping a tight grip on administrators, and faculty, as well as students. They see what impact the revolt of educated youth is having in a growing number of countries, and regions, of the world today; they know the enormous role students played in the revolutionary movement in the U.S. and internationally in the 1960s; and they are fully aware as well of the role the youth and students of the oppressed nationalities played in that period in awakening and bringing revolution to Black people and other oppressed peoples as a whole. Now think about the strategic potential that lies just beneath the surface today:

Even with very real changes in the situation of Black people, as part of the larger changes in the society (and the world) overall—including a growth of the "middle class" among Black people, an increase in college graduates and people in higher paying and prestigious professions, with a few holding powerful positions within the ruling political structures, even to the extent now of a "Black president"—the situation of Black people, and in particular that of millions and millions who are trapped in the oppressive and highly repressive conditions of the inner city ghettos, remains a very acute and profound contradiction for the American imperialist system as a whole and for its ruling class—something which has the potential to erupt totally out of the framework in which they can contain it.

BAsics: from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, 3:18

1. Lyle Denniston, "Opinion recap: More rigorous race review," SCOTUSBLOG, 6-24-13 [back]

2. Denniston, ibid. [back]

3. "Why affirmative action took a hit," special to CNN, 5/24/13 [back]





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Obama on Government Surveillance: "The same way it's always been..."

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In the wake of Edward Snowden's exposure of massive government surveillance by the U.S. on people in this country and around the world, Barack Obama appeared on the Charlie Rose Show June 17. Obama attempted to reassure the audience: "If you are a U.S. person the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls and the NSA cannot target your e-mails. They cannot and have not—by law and by rule. And unless they—and usually it wouldn't be they, it would be the FBI—go to a court and obtain a warrant and seek probable cause. The same way it's always been..."

The "same way it's always been"—surveillance by the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement agencies—is that massive spying on people has been used to carry out brutal repressive violence. A case in point: Wounded Knee.

In the spring of 1973, hundreds of Native American people and their supporters went to Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota to demand an end to murderous attacks by police and government agents, and that the U.S. government honor its treaties granting Native people land and self-government. They were besieged by over 300 agents of the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), U.S. Marshals, and Justice Department and various local and state police. The Indians defended themselves and held off the government forces for 71 days of siege.

As Native Americans in cities and reservations around the country aligned with the American Indian Movement (AIM), and the group's actions compelled many others to learn about and oppose the historic crimes this country committed against Native Americans, FBI surveillance became intense. The FBI produced 18,000 pages of internal reports on the history and internal organization of AIM, its leadership, and relationships with other organizations and movements for change, with particular focus on the role of revolutionaries and communists. FBI documents from the time reveal that they somehow gained possession of internal AIM fundraising materials which were carefully itemized. A widespread network of government surveillance monitored AIM activities and the activities of people who spoke out in defense of AIM (like attorney William Kunstler, whose speeches were recorded by the FBI).

Victims of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, where the U.S. Seventh Cavalry killed as many as 300 Lakota Indians, including children.

Victims of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, where the U.S. Seventh Cavalry killed as many as 300 Lakota Indians, including children. Photo: Library of Congress

All this FBI surveillance, with or without warrants, was used to carry out vicious repression. After the end of the 71-day armed stand-off, the FBI and other police agencies unleashed a reign of terror on the reservation. About 1,200 people were arrested. At least two American Indian Movement members were killed and another activist disappeared. Leonard Peltier was arrested for allegedly shooting two FBI agents during this warlike period. He denied the charges, and the informant whose testimony helped lead to his conviction later said the FBI coerced her into lying. Nevertheless, Peltier remains in prison with no prospect of release.

* * *

The "same way it's always been..." All this surveillance that Obama has taken to new depths has always been about CONTROLLING everyone's activity, communications, and thinking, and bringing the full power of the government's repressive apparatus down on anyone or any movement that challenges the system of global exploitation and oppression.




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Revolution Interview with Sunsara Taylor

Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

From both coasts, and through the middle of the country

June 16, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |



Revolution: has called for a summer of actions to fight for abortion on demand and without apology. Would you sketch out for us the developing plans around this call?
Calls for Summer 2013


Abortion on Demand
and Without Apology!

For Every Woman in Every State
The Reversal of Abortion &
Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!

Sunsara Taylor: First of all, to understand why we're doing this, we have to confront the fact that abortion rights in this country right now are in an absolute state of emergency. There is an all-sided, many-fronted assault on women's right to abortion and even birth control. There are the violence, terror, and threats against abortion providers. There is the avalanche of legal restrictions. The last two years have seen record restrictions on abortion access, and this year has already seen 278 new restrictions introduced around the country. Abortion has been marginalized and stigmatized within medicine, taken out of most primary care; it's not taught in medical schools unless students fight for it. Ninety-seven percent of rural counties don't have an abortion provider. Eight doctors and employees of clinics have been murdered! Roe v. Wade is being aggressively undermined in the courts and in the court of public opinion. And abortion has become more stigmatized than ever before. One in three women has had an abortion, and you can hardly find a single woman in public life or, for most people, in their actual day-to-day life of people that they know that has admitted to them that they had an abortion. Most people go years and years—men especially, "I never knew anybody who had an abortion," and they just have no idea: it's their mother, their sister, their cousin, people that they're working with.

We are on track to a situation where women will lose this right. And let's be very clear up front: taking away this right, forcing women to have children they don't want, is a form of enslavement.

Stop Patriarchy Announces Launch of Fundraising Campaign for The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride

Go to to donate to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

This summer, from July 24-August 25, after "send-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco, caravans will travel from both coasts, rallying and gathering support along the way, arriving in North Dakota before August 1 when new laws are set to shut down the last abortion clinic in the state. Then, down to Wichita where those who courageously re-opened the clinic of Dr. George Tiller following his assassination by an anti-abortion gunman are facing serious, and escalating threat. On to Jackson, Mississippi where a temporary court injunction is the only thing keeping the last remaining clinic in the state open. All along the way, we'll protest and confront the anti-abortion woman-haters, erect visual displays that tell the truth about abortion and birth control, collect and amplify women's abortion stories in order to break the silence, defend the clinics and providers most under attack, and meet with people to build lasting organization to DEFEAT the whole war on women."

For more information:

So, in this context, we are launching this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride with kick-off rallies in San Francisco and New York on July 23, bringing together hundreds and thousands of people to stand up and send off these Freedom Riders, who will caravan from both sides of the country, making stops and rallying support along the way, to converge at our first big stop in North Dakota in late July.

On August 1, several laws are set to go into effect in North Dakota. One is a fetal heartbeat law that will ban abortion once a heartbeat is detected in a fetus through a vaginal ultrasound—at about six weeks when most women don't even know they're pregnant. So it's a really extreme and outrageous law. There's a lot of expectation that the law will not stand—it's utterly unconstitutional. But it indicates the ferocity and the intentionality of the anti-abortion movement, the fact that it passed at all should be a wake-up call.

The more immediately dangerous law set to go into effect will require abortion providers in the state to have hospital admitting privileges. Now, North Dakota has only one clinic in the entire state, in Fargo, and the doctors there have to fly in from out of state, because abortion providers have to put their lives on the line and there's not that many who are willing to go through all that. So they will not be able to get those admitting privileges and this, if not overturned, would make North Dakota the first abortion-free state. So we will be standing with the clinic and others who have been fighting this—but also protesting the women-haters and legislature and churches behind it. We will hold a big ceremony and award some of these fascists the "Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement" Award, which will take the form of a big bloody coat-hanger. (Wire coat-hangers are what many women used to try to induce their own abortions when it was illegal, and a great many women died from doing that.)


Through August, we'll then go down to South Dakota, which also has only one abortion clinic. We'll go through Nebraska where Dr. LeRoy Carhart has been viciously targeted; Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. George Tiller was assassinated, and where for several years Julie Burkhart has fought very hard to reopen the clinic and recently has; and she's under death threats; she's under legal threat; she's under incredible pressure; and so we want to go there and support her and the clinic and also confront these fascists who are doing the kind of things that get people murdered. Then we'll cut through Arkansas, another state that recently passed a fetal heartbeat abortion ban and has only one abortion clinic. And we will end in Jackson, Mississippi, which was at the heart of the civil rights movement and has the only abortion clinic left in Mississippi, a state that has incredible rates of impoverishment, especially among Black women who have almost no access to abortion in large parts of that state and the region.

It's a month-long tour with two major elements: we're both confronting the Christian fascists and exposing them for the woman-haters they are. And we're rallying support and drawing forward our side—the people who want to preserve this right but who have been atomized and put on the moral and political defensive, who have not seen either the need or the possibility to stand up as a collective force, in mass resistance to defeat this war on women. So we're going to come from both coasts and travel down the heart of the country. And then call on people to converge with us along the way, especially in Mississippi.

Revolution: So the caravans from the two coasts would be starting...

Taylor: July 24. The send-off rallies will be on the 23rd and then the next day they hit the road.

Revolution: There was an inspiring letter from a prisoner recently in Revolution and on ("Defending the Right to Abortion, and Transforming the People for Revolution") in which the brother recounted struggling hard with a fellow prisoner who opposed abortion. What's the importance of everyone—in particular men, but all kinds of people—taking up the fight for the right to abortion?

Taylor: To put it very simply, if women, half of humanity, are not free, then no one is free. That's just a reality. But to get into it a little more deeply, this attack on abortion is not incidental. It's very bound up with the way women have been treated for millennia—ever since the very first emergence of class divisions and of exploitation and oppression, of private property and the state, ever since human beings thousands of years ago went from living in more or less egalitarian hunter-gatherer societies. It's very important to note that the oppression of women by men is NOT owing to "human nature." In fact, for tens of thousands of years, human beings lived without organized forms of oppression and divisions, including without the oppression of women by men. But when private property and the state and class divisions emerged, women's role got fundamentally transformed. Women became the property of men and breeders of children, breeders of new lines of inheritance of either the haves or the have-nots, the ruling class or the exploited. Controlling women's virginity before marriage and their sexuality from then on, making sure they only had sex with their husbands, was essential not only to the particular men who wanted to hand their property down to their children and not someone else's—but actually this control over women became very essential to maintaining and organizing class societies as a whole. This is as true, even if different in its forms and appearance, today in this capitalist- imperialist-dominated world as it was in feudal or slave societies.

If you drill down to the root of what gives rise to any form of oppression—whether it is the gruesome history of oppression of Black people in this country and the way that continues today with one very sharp concentration of this being the literal mass incarceration that amounts to a slow genocide, you know, with one out of every eight Black males in their 20s in jail or prison; whether it be the wars of domination and plunder that are driven by the engine of imperialist conquest; whether it be the destruction of the environment on a massive scale—you'll see that it comes from a common root and a common system. And that this system also requires and gives rise to the oppression of women. You cannot shatter that system, you cannot overthrow that system, you can't make revolution to get rid of that system, without taking up the fight for the liberation of women. A big part of what Bob Avakian has fought for in one of the dimensions of the new synthesis of communism that he has forged over decades is that if you understand this deeply and scientifically, you actually grasp that unleashing the fury of women, unleashing the pent-up fury at thousands of years of being treated as chattel, abused, degraded, violated, raped, ridiculed, demeaned and diminished in a million ways—unleashing the fury against that is not only a powerful and potent and necessary force for the liberation of women, but it is a driving force in making revolution as a whole.

This is why something BA has emphasized—both now in the struggle to prepare for and, with the emergence of a revolutionary crisis, to seize state power, and in the context of the new revolutionary society that is working to dig up the remnants of oppression and exploitation and advance towards genuine communism, that is, human emancipation—is extremely important. And in some inspiring ways, this was given expression in that letter from a prisoner you referenced. BA says:

In many ways, and particularly for men, the woman question, and whether you seek to completely abolish or to preserve the existing property and social relations and corresponding ideology that enslave women (or maybe "just a little bit" of them) is a touchstone question among the oppressed themselves. It is a dividing line between "wanting in" and really "wanting out": between fighting to end all oppression and exploitation—and the very divisions of society into classes—and seeking in the final analysis to get your part in this.

That's the heart of the matter, and it's a challenge to men—and it's a challenge to all people who dream of and yearn for and want to fight for an end to exploitation and oppression in any form, that you have to make this your fight. It's also spoken to very powerfully in BA's new talk, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! where he makes very clear the only people who should fear the unleashed fury of women and who should not be out there fighting to help foster this and joining in with it are people who want to preserve this oppressive and destructive order.

Countering Christian fascist anti-abortion marchers in San Francisco, January 2013. Photo: Special to Revolution

Revolution: You emphasized the urgent need for people to take action around the question of abortion, people from different viewpoints who see the importance of acting. At the same time, as a revolutionary communist, you're putting forward an analysis of where women's oppression comes from, and the need for revolution, nothing less, to actually get at the root of it. So talk about how these things interrelate.

Taylor: Well, I think for a whole host of reasons the conditions women face are increasingly violent and degrading and horrific all around the world. And then there are all the other oppressive things I spoke about earlier like the destruction of the environment, the mass incarceration of oppressed people here, unjust wars and even things like the really gross and revolting culture that has everyone so alienated and degraded and really unhappy—all of this, and many more things that would take us a long time to talk about. It really is a reality that this world is a horror—and it doesn't have to be this way. It is not because of human nature, it is because of the nature of the system. And we need a revolution. We need a revolution as urgently as possible. To get rid of this, and to bring about a whole different world. That's possible, and that's needed. People need to be getting into that and fighting for it, very firmly. And putting BA out there—this is the BA Everywhere Campaign, raising a lot of money to promote BA Everywhere—letting people know that there's a viable, radical alternative to this world, a real new synthesis of revolution and communism, that there's a leadership for this revolution and a strategy. All this needs to be going on. And as people step forward to fight around these different faultlines, around mass incarceration and around the degradation and enslavement of women, around all of these things, that's going to be favorable for hastening the transformation of people in a revolutionary direction and the repolarization in society in a revolutionary direction. So it's very important for those of us who are coming from recognizing the need for revolution to really appreciate that this is a moment when a lot needs to be put on the line to bring people forward in mass struggle against these outrages, in combination with the all-around work that we're doing as revolutionaries, including around BA around this newspaper, Revolution, and, getting them out everywhere.

But at the same time, you don't have to be coming from that perspective to recognize that there is a state of emergency facing women. Each and every one one of us who refuses to see women reduced to the status of slaves needs to be in this fight right now. And you should support this Freedom Ride: donate, send a message of support to the clinics for us to deliver, join us for a leg of the tour, spread it on social media. There is no good reason not to stand up and fight against this. What is at stake is literally the future and the lives of the half of humanity that is born female. This is what we are all responsible for.

How to Get Involved

To learn more about and connect up with the Summer 2013 Abortion on Demand and Without Apology Freedom Ride, go online to

Keep up with the news and analysis around this struggle at

And as we're doing this, as we're standing shoulder to shoulder, we should be debating. People should want to be debating and getting into and trying to understand it. And actually people will be more open to it, the more they fight back, the more the big questions do open up to people. Why does this keep happening? Why are we in 2013 fighting a battle over birth control, over abortion? Why are these fights being refought? Where is this coming from? How can it be ended? And we want to be in there putting forward very clearly where this is coming from, and what it will ultimately take, what kind of revolution is ultimately needed. But also learning from other people, where they're coming from, and standing shoulder to shoulder with them. And as people get into this—BA has put it very powerfully in the "Invitation" that he put out, where he says, act on what you know to be an outrage, continue to fight against those things which drove you into political struggle at the beginning. As you do this, there's a responsibility of people to really come to understand how to really end this and to explore and to learn what different people are saying and what's actually true about that. And if you as you investigate this, as you're standing up and fighting with us, you come to understand the source of the problem is the system and the solution we need is communist revolution, don't turn away from that because it challenges your assumptions or takes you out of your comfort zone, follow that wherever because the fate and future of humanity is what's at stake, and fighting our way out of this. And understanding that, you should pursue it. There's a back and forth between standing up and fighting and getting into those bigger questions. And we are eager to lead and to learn in that whole process and both parts of that process.

Anybody and everybody who really does not want to see women reduced to the status of slaves needs to stand up and fight right now. And you need to join with this Freedom Ride. Donate towards it. Send a message of support with us to the clinics that we'll be traveling to. Join us for a leg of the tour—in North Dakota, or Wichita, or Mississippi. Sign the statement I mentioned at and send it to everyone you know, asking them to do the same. Get that to authors, musicians, and other prominent people for their signatures. Raise money for this effort. Reach out to people you know in the places we are traveling through—Fargo, Bismarck, Minneapolis, Jackson, Little Rock, Nebraska, Cleveland... check for the full list—to help with housing and reaching out locally. There are many different ways to help and there's no excuse for not standing up and fighting with this. It does not have to be that these Christian fascists and patriarchs and these women-haters slam women backwards. But it will happen if we don't fight. So everybody has to join this fight. We all must take responsibility for STOPPING THIS—that is the measure we are all responsible to.

Revolution: What would it mean if this assault on abortion is allowed to win—so that abortion is not just increasingly difficult or even impossible for growing numbers of women, but actually outlawed altogether?

Taylor: It has to be understood deeply that being forced to have children you don't want—it means you have to give up everything you're planning. You have to foreclose your dreams and ambitions. That's your life. If you choose to have a child and are in a position to raise it in a way that you feel is right, that can be a beautiful thing. But to be forced to have a child is to essentially be told that all you are is a breeder. And to live in a society that denies that right, means that mostly young girls will be coming up not even having those larger dreams and ambitions. Because in the eyes of society, it will be very clear that they are not regarded as full human beings. Bob Avakian [BA], in his talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, put this very powerfully. He said, and I'm paraphrasing: Denying women the right to abortion is like rape. It is the forcible control of women, of their bodies, of their lives, of everything about them, by a male supremacist, male-dominated society.

It's worth it to look at El Salvador, which is a vision of where we are headed if we don't stop this. Abortion there is illegal in all circumstances and women are jailed for having abortions or even miscarriages deemed "suspicious" by the state, and doctors and nurses are required to turn in women who are suspected of aborting fetuses, and if they don't those doctors and nurses will be sent to prison.

Young people don't remember when abortion was illegal. And it's very important that people who do remember help young people understand what it was like, but also all of us must understand that if this right is taken away again, it's going to be even worse than that, because of the ideological assault, because of the level of surveillance and criminalization... it's going to be worse than before Roe v. Wade.

The other thing that's very important is: people who've had abortions more recently also need to tell those stories. On the tour we'll be collecting and amplifying these stories as part of destigmatizing abortion.

Revolution: You've sketched a picture of this very dangerous emergency situation threatening the right to abortion. Yet there's not a commensurate movement of tens and hundreds of thousands and millions of people taking to the streets to stop this. Can you speak to this?

Taylor: Well, I think there's three major things involved.

First, there's just tremendous ignorance. Even most people who sense that things are getting bad, who maybe are sending extra donations to Planned Parenthood or whatever because they see it is losing its funding (which must be opposed!), don't really understand how bad it is. And this ignorance of the actual situation is owing fundamentally to the next two factors.

The second thing is that we've been living through several decades of reactionary assault overall and revenge against the advances made by women in the 60s and 70s in particular.

Let's not forget that the idea that women are full human beings is very new, historically speaking. Millions of people fought heroically for this—millions did so in the context of the great revolutionary struggles of the last century in the Soviet Union and China, even as they had shortcomings in how they went at this they brought about radical and liberating changes for women as well as people as a whole. In the 1960s and '70s in this country there were very powerful revolutionary upsurges of the 1960s overall and the women's liberation movement was a very important element of that. But the revolutions in the Soviet Union and later in China were defeated and reversed. And revolution in this country was never made. So, the advances that were won could not be sustained and this system set about—both through its spontaneous functioning as well as through its conscious policy—to take revenge against the people for daring to have risen up. This has included a very conscious and extremely vicious revenge against women for having dared to challenge thousands of years of traditions chains.

This is not a "backlash" because people "went too far." This is revenge, precisely because people didn't go far enough and the capitalist-imperialist system that has patriarchy and male-domination woven into its fabric and its functioning remained intact.

And in the face of the ebbing of the radical upsurges and a vicious wave of counter-revolution, the most radical and even revolutionary streams of the women's liberation movement got isolated and also ran up against big challenges they weren't able to fully navigate. At the same time, the streams which had always been more bourgeois in their orientation (that is, more aimed at fighting for women to be equally included at every level—including the top levels of politics, finance, and military—of this system of exploitation and oppression) were absorbed pretty wholesale into the Democratic Party. And through all this, the Democratic Party (or the various forces whose leadership has been closely wedded to the Democratic Party like NARAL or Planned Parenthood) came to be seen as the only "real" outlet for those concerned about women's oppressed status. This is a deadly illusion and a deadly trap—and this has had a tremendously demobilizing and disorienting effect on several generations now.

I mean, the Christian fascist assault that's been unleashed really got going under Reagan, and it went to new levels under Bush the Second, and a lot of the new attacks have been driven by these totally outlandish lunatic Republican fascists. But this, fundamentally, has never been simply a "Republican war on women." It is the system's war on women—and the Democrats, while having real differences with it, and real opposition to some elements of it—have continuously conceded more and more ground to this assault. I mean, who would have thought even 10 years ago we would be fighting over birth control! And the Democratic Party leadership has really led in demobilizing the people who support abortion, putting them on the political and moral defensive. Hillary Clinton called abortion "tragic." Bill Clinton said it should be "safe, legal, and rare," implying that there's something wrong with it. And then you have Obama, who has over and over sought "common ground" with fascists and religious fanatics. Plus, he seems to have a real personal jones against Plan B contraception (often called the morning-after pill). The FDA approved it for over-the-counter distribution, but then Obama's head of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius overruled that. That over-ruling was challenged in court, but then the Obama administration challenged it back. So, people have lost the sense of the need—and the possibility—of relying on ourselves and waging fierce mass political struggle to defeat this war on women—which is the ONLY way it can be defeated.

Third, and this flows from what I was just describing, there have been major setbacks in terms of the political and ideological and moral and scientific understanding of people around abortion. It is positive and liberating for women to be able to choose abortion. It is utterly immoral, illegitimate, and vicious and cruel and women-hating to force women to have children that they don't want. But, there's a lot of defensiveness around this and a big tendency for pro-choice people to focus on things like "Oh, what about a woman who's raped?" or "What about a woman whose life is in danger? Shouldn't we have an exception for her?" Of course women like that should be able to get abortions, and the fact that a lot of the restrictions don't make exceptions for rape or for incest or for the life of the woman—this just exposes how vicious and hate-filled the anti-abortion movement is. But at the core, the truth has to be told: this fight is about the status and role of women in society. It's NOT about babies. Fetuses have the potential to become people, but they are a subordinate part of a woman's body and they don't have a separate biological existence or a separate social existence. But that woman is a human being. Fetuses don't have rights. Fetuses are not people. Women are human beings.

That's why our lead slogan on our statement and this Freedom Ride is: Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. A number of people have told us, "You can't say that in North Dakota. I personally agree with you. But it won't get over in North Dakota. (Or in South Dakota, or Midwest, Mississippi, whatever.)" But we've seen that there's a section of people, and I believe that there's many thousands, probably many tens of thousands of people, for whom right now, when they hear this, they're like, "Yes, that's right."

The idea is not that you're going to move millions of people overnight on this. You're going to speak to millions of people. But we're going to mobilize those people who have the most anger and the most clarity, and we're going to give them the ideological and moral certitude, and the scientific grounding. And also we're going to fight in a way that models refusing to accept any of this degradation, shame, enslavement, or oppression of women in any form. And we are going to lead those thousands of people to step forward and fight around this with us. And that's going to have a huge effect on them, as well as a huge effect on changing how millions more are seeing this.

So, I think these three things come together.

But what's not so visible to people is that if there is political leadership and clarity and a force that is daring to fight against it and put something on the line to stop this; there's millions and millions of people who can, and who really must, be brought forward to defeat this war on women. Those of us doing this Freedom Ride are prepared and determined to be that force and bring forward and lead those millions.

Revolution: As you have been out there building for this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, what kinds of responses have you been getting?

Taylor: We've just begun. And we've gotten a very positive response from a number of people who have spent decades on the front lines of this fight around abortion rights and providing services. We've been in touch with a number of very courageous abortion providers who have been giving us quite a bit of insight and helping make connections in the areas we'll be traveling through. Also, David Gunn, Jr., the son of David Gunn who was the first abortion doctor to be assassinated, recently wrote a very powerful piece about why, from his own experience and perspective, he is supporting this freedom ride called "I Won't Back Down."

Then, the day we put it up online, Sikivu Hutchinson who does two Black free-thinking, feminist blogs, signed and posted the statement we put out ("Abortion on Demand & Without Apology for Every Woman in Every State: The Reversal of Abortion and Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!"), as did PZ Myers who has the most popular science blog in the world.

Within 24 hours, over 350 more people signed. And a very significant thing is that many left comments that picked up on the most uncompromising parts of the statement like, "Women are not incubators," and "Forced motherhood is female enslavement," or "Abortion on demand and without apology." Some said straight up, "Thank you for finally putting this out so clearly and sharply!" This is a very powerful, if still beginning, indication that there are people out there who want to see this fascist shit called out, and who have been waiting for something like this. We want to publish this statement in North Dakota when we're there.

The statement calls out the state of emergency. It also clarifies the moral high ground on this question. It says very bluntly that yes, the country is divided over the question of abortion. And that makes sense, because abortion really concentrates how you view women. Are women fundamentally incubators and breeders of children, or are women full human beings? If they're full human beings, they have the right to decide for themselves when and whether they have children. Forcing women to have children against their will is a form of enslavement. So the statement cuts through that.

The fight around abortion has never been about babies. The whole anti-abortion movement is set on restoring a whole view of women that has been around for thousands of years, with the cult of virginity up until marriage that then gets morphed into the cult of motherhood and obedience to the husband. If you need proof of this, just look at the fact that they all [anti-abortion movement] oppose birth control.

The leaders of this movement are rooted in the Bible where woman (Eve) is blamed for the so-called "original sin" of tempting Adam out of the Garden of Eden. According to this myth of the Bible, everything bad that has ever happened to human beings since then is because of this—it is all Eve's (woman's) fault. And the only way women can redeem themselves for this supposedly "great crime" is to obey their husbands and to bear children. It says it right in the Bible, in Timothy 2:13-15. So this is why they are so opposed to women having access to abortion, and it's also why they all oppose birth control. Their real goal is to slam women back into a Dark Ages role.

Revolution: The war on women involves other aspects, in particular the whole culture of pornography, which keeps on getting more cruel, violent, and degrading toward women. So how do these different elements relate?

Taylor: We have identified a real state of emergency around abortion rights, and that is the leading edge of what StopPatriarchy is initiating this summer, and uniting people very broadly to fight against that. At the same time, it's important to pull back the lens and look at what this is part of. Anywhere you look on the globe, the question of the role and status of women is assuming ever more acute expression. Women are straining to enter into realms that have been for centuries and millennia closed off to women, in the workforce, education, public life. politics, and the media. At the same time, everywhere on the globe there's an intensifying of violence and degradation against women that's being unleashed. Look at the epidemic of gang rape in India and Brazil and really all over the world; or the Islamic fundamentalism that is growing in huge parts of the world, with the shrouding of women, the imprisoning of women in the homes, the raping, the honor killings of women; or look at the way that women's advance fought for in the '60s and '70s has been turned back. The sexual revolution, for instance, in this country had a very positive overall thrust to it—women casting off the shame around their sexuality, asserting for the first time in thousands of years that their sexuality was not something to be owned by men but to be experienced by women themselves on their terms and in ways that were mutually pleasurable and mutually respectful, whether with men or women or whatever. But then it and the whole movement of the times didn't go as far as it needed to go. We didn't have a revolution and this system remained intact. And so those movements ebbed, and the system really did set to work, consciously as well as spontaneously through its workings, to turn that sexual freedom into further commodification of women's bodies and the more open and vicious and mainstreaming of sexualized degradation and patriarchal male-dominated terms. So you have the mainstreaming of very cruel and violent and humiliating and degrading pornography. And this goes along with the trade in women as chattel, as sex slaves in the sex industry all over the world in the millions and millions.

And these are not just surface phenomena; these things are driven by very profound shifts taking place in the world: mass migrations caused by imperialist penetration ever more deeply into the Third World, the growth of huge slums, the ravages of war, technological developments, as well as the struggles of people in many different ways. All these very huge changes have both undermined many traditional forms of life and many traditional forms of patriarchy, while at the same time produced immense suffering and insecurity which, in turn, has contributed significantly towards what really can only be called a revenge—a hate-filled, violent, and dehumanizing revenge—against women.

So StopPatriarchy is addressing the way this is sharpening up in this country and makes the sharp point: there really is no fundamental difference between reducing women to breeders, to objects just for turning out babies, and reducing women to sex objects to be plundered and humiliated and used and abused for the sexual titillation of men. That's all part of a package of a real revenge against women. We're fighting all of that. And precisely because of how profound these shifts are and how many people are being profoundly affected by them, we see the basis for millions and millions of people to be led to stand up and fight against all this. So, that is where StopPatriarchy is coming from, even as right now we are taking responsibility for bringing together broad forces, including some who maybe don't fully agree with us on pornography, for example, to stand up right now against these growing assaults on abortion rights.

Revolution: I wonder if you could speak specifically to the claim that is made that abortion clinics target women of color—Black and Latino women, in particular—and that abortion among Black and Latino women is a form of genocide?

Taylor: So, yeah, in the anti-abortion movement there has been a campaign over several decades, but really intensifying over the last couple of years, to equate abortion among Black people and Latinos as a form of self-genocide. There have been billboards put up all over the country that say, "The most dangerous place for a Black youth is in its mother's womb." They are seizing on the fact that Black and Latino women have higher rates of abortion than white women to accuse Black and Latino women of carrying out genocide against their babies. This is one of the most vicious and hateful campaigns.

First of all it's a lie. A Black woman, a Latino woman, any woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy is not killing a baby. That's just a fact: fetuses are NOT babies. Fetuses of Black women are NOT Black babies. Fetuses of Latino women are not Latino babies. All those fetuses are subordinate parts of the woman's body. And when a woman voluntarily undergoes an abortion, that is just her making a decision over her own reproduction and her life as a whole. Her right to do this is a positive thing. And the anti-abortion movement is against sex education and against birth control, so they don't really get any right to fucking speak about this. Even more fundamentally, I don't care how many abortions a woman gets or how often it goes on among any particular section of women, if women don't have the right to determine for themselves when and whether they will have children, they are not free. And if women are not free, then no one is free—and this applies to oppressed peoples as well, if Black women are enslaved to their reproduction, if they are reduced to breeders and forced to have children against their wills, then there is no way that Black people as a whole can get free. So I reject the whole notion that there is something negative about women getting abortions—at whatever rate—when they feel they need them. If there are social conditions of life that compel a woman to terminate a pregnancy when she would have wanted to bring it to full term, those conditions and the source of them need to be fought, but that is very different than forcing them to reproduce! Women's role is not to "make babies"—it is to "hold up half the sky" (as they used to say in revolutionary China) to join together with men to rise up against all the many forms of oppression and exploitation, to be just as involved in learning about and fighting to change the whole world, and to be treated with respect and equality by men in this whole process and in every realm.

Having said that, we do have to come back to the fact that this is America. There is not only a whole history of the most horrific and brutal oppression of Black people and Latinos and Native Americans and other oppressed peoples right here within these borders (and this goes along with the subjugation of whole nations and peoples by the U.S. around the world), this oppression continues and is intensifying today. One of the forms this has taken is the coercive sterilization of oppressed women. There is a whole history of Puerto Rican women, Black women, Native American women, and other oppressed-nationality women within this country being coerced or outright forced into undergoing sterilization. Sometimes a woman would be in labor without insurance and the hospital would only deliver her baby if she signed papers agreeing to be sterilized. Sometimes women were told they would lose their welfare benefits if they didn't undergo sterilization. A lot of times women weren't even told anything. At one point, not all that long ago, something like 20-30 percent of all women of child-bearing age among these oppressed groupings had been sterilized. Now, that is a form of the system preventing a whole section of people from being able to reproduce. That is racist; frankly it's genocidal. But that is very, very different—it is a world apart—from women among the oppressed deciding for themselves which pregnancies to carry to term and which ones they do not want to continue.

And today one of the main forms this oppression is taking—speaking of genocide—is the actual genocide of mass incarceration, criminalization, caste-like segregation of the formerly incarcerated, and rampant police terror, brutality and murder. In response to the lie that has been blasted on that billboard I just mentioned, you want to know where the most dangerous place for a Black youth is? For Ramarley Graham, it was walking into his own home when police decided to chase after him and shoot him dead in front of his grandmother and his little brother. For Trayvon Martin, it was walking home from the corner store while wearing a hoodie. For Aiyana Stanley-Jones, it was sleeping on the couch with her grandmother when the police shot through the door and killed her at seven years old. Every 40 hours the police murder a Black person in this country. And then there are the gang-injunctions and stop-and-frisk and the whole cradle-to-prison pipeline—that is what is stealing the future of our Black and brown youth.

These fascists who put up these billboards and make these claims, they never talk about any of this—and because they don't, they are actually covering for the real genocide that is going on, directing oppressed people's attention away from the system and towards further blaming and shaming the very women hit hardest in many ways by this system. And then all this blame and shame against Black and Latino women is used as a bludgeon to further strip all women of the right to abortion.

So, this kind of shit really must not be tolerated—and the influence of this ideological poison (especially its influence among sections of Black and Latino masses of people) has to be fought and turned around.

Revolution: Are there any final words you want to leave people with, coming back to what is immediately posed as you and others get ready for this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride?

Taylor: Returning to the whole, it really is a very urgent situation that women are facing and it is not going to just go away on its own. Bob Avakian put it very scientifically a number of years ago when he said that the question and role of the oppression of women is posing itself more and more acutely and it is inconceivable that it will be resolved on anything other than very radical terms. What is yet to be determined is whether that will be a radically reactionary resolution—and we can see the dimensions of that being hammered into place around us—or in radical revolutionary terms, which is also very possible but will require tremendous courage and conviction and scientific leadership and struggle and sacrifice to bring into being. And how this gets resolved has very high stakes for—and will interpenetrate with—the struggle to put an end to all other forms of oppression and exploitation. What happens around this, which way this gets resolved, is not scripted. In a very real way, how this unfolds, what resolution we get—really, what kind of future generations of women and young girls are going to come up into—depends on what we do.

So what is posed for us very acutely right now is the need to step out there and take on and beat back this fascist assault on women with the aim of changing how millions in this country are viewing this critical issue. We need to unite with and lead many, many others coming from many different perspectives to do this—from getting out there in the streets with us, to telling their abortion story, to going down to the local clinic to escort, to sending money to support those who are going on the Freedom Ride, to offering legal support, to many, many other ways. And any and all of us who understand the pressing need to fight for the full equality and liberation of women need in the course of this to build up the organization and influence of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women as it takes on the entire war on women, including with its focus on pornography and the sale of women's bodies as well. And, at the same time as all of this—and fundamentally this will strengthen the basis to do what I was just speaking about and it is the only way any of this will ultimately contribute to the emancipation of humanity as a whole—getting into it with people and revealing how all these horrors flow from this system of capitalism-imperialism and the kind of revolution we need, and the leadership we have, to put an end to this system and all the nightmares it brings for humanity once and for all.





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Protest Against Extreme Anti-Abortion Law in Texas
"It was like a dam burst open"

June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Texas governor Rick Perry, a straight up Christian fascist, recently called the Texas House of Representatives into a "special session" to enact Senate Bill 5, one of the most sweeping and restrictive anti-abortion bills in the country. SB5 is part of what Sunsara Taylor referred to in her recent interview with Revolution as an "avalanche of legal restrictions." As she noted, "The last two years have seen record restrictions on abortion access, and this year has already seen 278 new restrictions introduced around the country." Among its many other hateful measures, SB5 would have the devastating affect of reducing the number of Texas abortion providers from 42 to 5; leaving facilities in only the state's four largest counties. It would ban almost all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and would add unnecessary and even harmful requirements to how doctors prescribe and administer abortion-inducing drugs.

Hundreds of people flooded the statehouse June 26 in Austin, Texas to fight against Senate Bill 5. If signed into law, the measure would close almost every abortion clinic in Texas. Photo: AP

So when a number of pro-choice organizations in the state called for a "citizen's filibuster," for a critical mass of people to come to Austin and tell their stories—to run down the clock to prevent this legislation from being approved—it was like a dam burst open. Word spread rapidly on social media, and on Thursday, June 20, the Texas statehouse was flooded with hundreds of pissed-off, orange-clad, pro-choice women and men, ready to do battle.

Over 700 individuals signed up to testify against SB5. One after the other, for 12 hours straight, people got on the mike, citing personal experiences of how their lives were impacted positively when they had the option to terminate pregnancies, and negatively when they did not. At around midnight Representative Byron Cook moved to cut off the session, saying that the testimony was becoming "repetitive." As a testifier was escorted away from the podium by a state trooper, chants rose up: "Let her speak!" A woman testified, "Our words are not repetitive. Our government's attacks on our choice, on our bodies, is repetitive!" By early Friday morning, the House vote had been successfully blocked.

The session was to reconvene on Sunday, so a call went out again to mass on the Capitol. All day long people kept arriving, and by mid-afternoon, Planned Parenthood had distributed the last of their 1,000 orange "Stand With Texas Women" t-shirts. This time there was no testifying, but people came to witness the debate. The chambers were constantly full, and three lines of people spiraled around the massive rotunda balconies, waiting to get a seat. Hundreds once again stayed into the night. By Monday morning the Republicans called a vote, and the measure was passed in the House of Representatives. As Republicans applauded themselves, they were quickly drowned out by chants of "Shame, Shame, Shame!" which spilled out into the hallways as several people were escorted out by the pigs.

When I heard about what had happened on Thursday, I printed up a few hundred of's call for the Summer 2013 Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, and the Abortion on Demand & Without Apology statement, grabbed a bunch of Revolution newspapers, and drove over to Austin.

A Breath of Fresh Air

What I encountered was a breath of fresh air! Most of the protesters were women, and a lot of them were veterans of the movements of the 1960s and '70s, with a good section of young people in their twenties and early thirties. For many of them, this impending loss of the right to choose was like a wakeup call, an OMG! moment—like they had long watched the erosion of women's rights, but with the hope that the "democratic process" eventually would serve the will of the majority. And looking at the Republican lunatics as so ridiculous as to be unbelievable—until now. It was really hitting people upside the head: "This is really happening!" and they just HAD to do something. But no one had expected the outpouring that was taking place.

I felt in the middle of something historic—being right on the battleground—not just over the state vs. women, but reality vs. absurdity. Here we were listening to the anti's in power exposing their unbelievable ignorance and stupidity, like the Republican sponsor of SB5, Jodie Laubenberg, who argued that a proposed exemption for rape victims was unnecessary because "in the emergency room they have what's called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out." Stranger-than-fiction arguments abound: Texas Representative Michael Burgess advocated banning abortion at an even earlier stage of pregnancy, because of what he sees on sonograms: fetuses at 15 weeks masturbating: "If they're a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?" I felt a sense of pride in the people who countered all that with determination and confidence, based on a foundation of science.

I was impressed especially with the youth. One college student who had testified on Thursday recounted to me her statement, a straightforward exposition that abortion is a simple medical procedure that she has a right to and will fight for. A young clinic escort said, "We really have to stop apologizing." And not just the youth: A white-haired woman exclaimed that she couldn't believe that we have to fight this battle all over again—that she thought we had resolved this in the '70s. When I said that the one thing we didn't do then was what still needs to be done—make revolution—she wanted to find out more about it, saying something like, "Communism—why not?"

I can't count all the people who thanked me for the statements. I distributed them on the lines and in the hallways, and when I was rushing to get them out in the chambers during a recess in the hearings, an older woman called out to me to take her card because she was excited about the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and was thinking about participating in some way. Another pointed to "Forced motherhood is female enslavement," saying, "This is so true!" Many told me that they liked the slogan "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology." A woman in her thirties told me, "This is such a great idea—a way to 'cohese' people on a national level."

A group of women, as they were being let into the chambers, yelled out to me, "We'll be sure to send money!"

Some of those who lived through the freedom rides of the past were well aware of the danger posed to the riders. One man made a donation, sort of half-jokingly asking, "Are they gonna have bullet-proof windshields?" He and others expressed appreciation for the courage of this group of riders.

A lot of people said they would go online and sign the statement, but one man did so on the spot, with the comment: "If you were ever loved by a woman, as a man, you should show some type of support."

I got out a few issues of the paper as well as BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! cards. I found that as people are engaging this fight, they wanted to see what the ultimate solution might be.

UPDATE—On Wednesday morning, the Texas Tribune reported that SB5 had been "killed" by a marathon filibuster by Texas Senator Wendy Davis and by "an impassioned throng of protesters." Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (another Christian fascist) said his moves to prevent abortion had been sidetracked by an "unruly mob." And Governor Rick Perry is threatening to call another "special session" to push through the attacks on women concentrated in SB5.

The summer is heating up.






Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

A Message from Sunsara Taylor

On the Occasion of a Support Rally for a Courageous Abortion Doctor in Opposition to the Christian Fascists Who Would Like to See Her Dead

June 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Below is a slightly edited version of a statement sent by Sunsara Taylor to the support rally held on June 26 for the courageous abortion doctor who has been flying into Wichita, Kansas, to provide abortions to women who need them. This doctor has been "outed" by fanatical anti-abortion forces who have targeted her where she lives and works, a pattern that contributed to the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita in 2009.

Today's protest against a courageous abortion doctor and counter-protest in support of her are not two sides facing off in a "morally complex" and "never-ending" debate over abortion.

No. Today in Chicago, last night in Texas, and all around this country, we stand at a crossroads. Two fundamentally opposed futures confront women—and society as a whole. Either women will be forced to have children against their will or women will have abortion on demand and without apology and be treated as full human beings. And one side or the other is going to win.

On one side we have Eric Scheidler,* Republican senators in Texas, and Christian fascists across the country. They do not care about life or about babies or women. One big clue that gives this away is the fact that they all oppose birth control. They downplay rape. They attack science. They shame women. They terrorize doctors. By demonizing and targeting this doctor where she lives and works, Eric Scheidler is knowingly creating conditions for her to be driven out or killed. This is exactly what they did to Dr. George Tiller—a monumental hero who was assassinated on May 31, 2009 in his own church. Without providers there is no choice. And without the ability to decide for themselves when and whether to have a child free of coercion, shame or stigma, women cannot be free. This future is about the enslavement of women.

Concentrating the other future are the heroic doctors who understand that without the ability to get safe abortions women end up trapped in abusive relationships, women are driven into poverty, women are forced to foreclose their other dreams and life plans, women are chained into a role that they didn't want simply because they have a uterus. But this doctor we are supporting today is not only a courageous abortion doctor like so many others—she is one who stepped up and literally filled Dr. George Tiller's shoes. She said, "I will go to Wichita. I will defy death and threat and hatred and terror. Women's lives matter that much." And she is a young doctor—a model to a new generation.

In this way, when she is targeted it is not only she that is targeted—and when we defend her, it is not only her we are defending. The woman-haters want to send a message, that if you step out you will be isolated, demonized, terrorized, hunted, and likely killed. We must send the opposite message. If you step out to serve women you will be appreciated, celebrated, and DEFENDED.

More fundamentally, you will be backed up by a growing force of women and men who are fighting to create a world where providing abortions no longer requires courage, where everyone accepts that women are full human beings.

Ultimately, this will take a revolution—a revolution that gets rid of the capitalist system that requires and reinforces the oppression of women, along with many other forms of oppression, from the destruction of the environment to the imperialist wars to the slow genocide of mass incarceration that disproportionately targets Blacks and Latinos and more. This revolution is possible—get into it through the pages of Revolution newspaper ( and the works of Bob Avakian, the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

Let's be clear: there is no liberation for anyone without the liberation of women. And this battle for the right to abortion will not go on forever. One side or the other is going to win and that resolution is getting closer every day and right now the wrong side is winning.

Because what we stand for is in humanity's interest, if we tell the truth we can move millions—but nothing less is required and there is no time to waste. This is why is with you here today and why we are organizing a major Abortion Rights Freedom Ride this summer—from July 23 through August 25—caravaning from both coasts and down the middle of the country from North Dakota all the way to Jackson, Mississippi. This ride will rally support for doctors, expose and protest the Christian fascists, clarify right and wrong, and demand that everyone take a stand.

Join in welcoming this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride when it arrives in Chicago the evening of Friday, July 26. On Saturday, July 27, join us as we deliver the Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement Award to Eric Scheidler in the form of a giant bloody coat hanger, as we hold an abortion speakout to break the stigma on abortion, and as we honor those on the front lines providing abortions.

This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is a major nationwide effort—connecting up the life-and-death skirmishes like the one last night in Texas, today in Chicago, and throughout the country—aimed at rousing the millions and turning the tide. I call on everyone here to donate to this Freedom Ride, to spread the word of it, to step up and join in making this truly powerful here in Chicago and all across the country. You can do all of this at Winning it is going to require serious struggle. Join with me—the future is at stake.

* * * * *

To donate to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride:

To get involved in Abortion Rights Freedom Ride:

To learn about real revolution:


* * * * *

Sunsara Taylor writes for Revolution newspaper (, is an initiator of the movement to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women (, and sits on the Advisory Board of World Can't Wait.


* Scheidler is the head of the Pro-Life Action League, a Christian fascist organization [back]




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

The Battle to Save Beatriz's Life:

High Court in El Salvador Blocks Abortion

June 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The horror for women in countries where abortion has been criminalized in all circumstances has been forced into the light of day by the fight for the life of a woman in El Salvador, known only as "Beatriz." Her appeal to the country's Supreme Court to have a potentially life-saving abortion was denied on May 29. Beatriz suffers from lupus, a very serious, chronic immune disease, as well as kidney disease. Her illness was being aggravated by a five-month-old deformed fetus developing with only a brain stem and no brain, and virtually no chance of survival beyond a few days after birth.

As if mocking the humanity of this woman, the court's ruling stated that "the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those" of the fetus.

A woman in El Salvador aborting a fetus faces eight years in jail; and some courts have added an additional 30 years by charging first-degree murder. Doctors performing abortions also face imprisonment. In a country of six million people, fewer than in Los Angeles County, 628 Salvadoran women have been imprisoned for abortion since 1998, when the total ban on abortion was made the law of the land. And nearly 60 pregnant women have died in El Salvador since 2012, many of whom could have been saved by therapeutic abortions, according to Salvadoran rights groups.

"A Form of Torture"

A battle raged for months in support of Beatriz by women's organizations and other groups within El Salvador, as well as internationally. Following the court's ruling protesters marched on the Supreme Court demanding a change in the ruling; and in the law. A woman representing a Salvadoran women's group fighting for changes in the abortion laws said; "This is a form of torture that she is going through." Beatriz's lawyer called the decision "misogynistic." He said, "Justice here does not respect the rights of women."

There was an international outcry as well, by women's organizations fighting against the criminalization of abortion; Amnesty International called the court's ruling "cruel and callous." The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in April called for the government of El Salvador to protect the "integrity and health" of Beatriz.

Apparently seeing no other way out, Beatriz' medical team performed a premature cesarean section of the 27-week-old fetus on June 3. The baby had an incomplete skull and brain and died within hours. Following the operation Beatriz was in stable condition, in intensive care.

Since 1998, El Salvador has banned abortion under any circumstances, including to save the life of the woman. The Catholic Church, from the Vatican down, has played an aggressive role, and exerted powerful leverage on national policy in instituting this and similar laws throughout Latin America. In El Salvador in particular, the archbishop compared abortion to the Nazi genocide, and enthusiastically backed the total ban. And the church worked fiercely against the appeal by Beatriz and her medical staff for her right to an abortion.

In El Salvador and in most of the countries of Central America—and many other Latin American countries as well—the ban on abortion, under any conditions whatsoever, is now in place. Abortion was legalized in Mexico City in 2008, but since then over half of the states have passed initiatives banning abortion completely. It's been estimated that between 2003 and 2008, the annual number of abortions in Latin America was between 4.1 million and 4.4 million; and from 1995 to 2008, 95 percent of those abortions were considered to be unsafe.

The World Health Organization estimates that worldwide, 42 million abortions are performed each year; nearly half of them are illegal and unsafe. And unsafe abortions are the cause of about 47,000 deaths each year, or 13 percent of all pregnancy-related deaths. In West Africa abortion is responsible for one-third of maternal deaths. And in sub-Saharan Africa unsafe abortions account for as much as 50 percent of maternal deaths.

In the world today, the conditions women face are increasingly violent and degrading and horrific. And one cornerstone of that violence against women is in the way in which the criminalization of abortion is being institutionalized around the world.

Women in El Salvador demand the right to call for women to have life-saving medical treatment. April 2013. Photo: Amnesty International




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013


Genocidal Realities

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Sick racist culture on the screen

This capitalist system in the U.S. has no future for millions of Black and Latino youth—that is, no “viable” way to exploit them. In this situation, a “New Jim Crow” has arisen, featuring a drumbeat of demonization, a relentless school-to-prison pipeline, pervasive police harassment and brutality, and massive systematic incarceration of Black and Latino people. This New Jim Crow has a logic: the logic of genocide, which is the extermination of a whole people. Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, has described what we have now as a slow genocide that could turn into a fast genocide. Stigmatization... containment... extermination. This has happened before. And this must be STOPPED. The following is a regular feature showing just some of what goes on week-in, week-out in this offensive by the system.

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From a reader:

This weekend, the new film The Heat is opening in theaters across the country. This is being called a “feminist” film because it’s two women in the style of male-buddy cop movies. The commercial—being played all over TV—shows these two cops hanging a young Black man out of a window... and then dropping him onto a car. This is supposed to be a laugh moment, “ha, ha, the cops went a little far with the ‘criminal.’” But just think about it—we are in the midst of the trial of George Zimmerman, a racist vigilante who murdered Trayvon Martin, a young Black man, because Zimmerman viewed him as a dangerous suspect. We are in a situation where more Black people are imprisoned than were held in slave chains in this country before the Civil War... where millions of people's lives are torn apart by the New Jim Crow of mass incarceration... and where thousands and thousands of people’s lives are cut short by the murderous police. THIS SHIT IS NOT FUCKING FUNNY. To laugh about the all-too-real and truly genocidal brutality that Black people face is an outrage, and it is part of promoting the kind of callous white supremacy that has been a part of America since day one and is apparent in society today everywhere you turn.

On top of that, to say that because two women are doing it is empowering—this is just sick. This is nothing but contributing to a racist culture that goes along with the criminalization of now generations of Black and Latino youth. And just because women can do it too doesn't make it any less oppressive.

This—and the millions of ways this racist culture is promoted—needs to be called out and resisted.

To readers: Send in submissions and suggestions for this feature to





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

From A World to Win News Service

Turkey: Seeking How to Resist

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


June 26, 2013. A World to Win News Service. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s efforts to crush resistance have continued with early morning police raids on the homes of 20 people accused of “terrorism” for participating in demonstrations in Ankara. These arrests occurred amid anger in that city over the release of a policeman who shot and killed a young demonstrator at close range.

In Istanbul, protesters forcibly driven out of Gezi Park are holding nighttime forums to discuss what to do in parks throughout the city. At nine o’clock every evening, people stop whatever they are doing and make noise for 15 minutes in solidarity with the movement and each other. They lean out of their apartment windows to bang on pots and pans, chant, and whistle. In many cafes and restaurants, customers bang their tea glasses.

The movement that began with the defense of Gezi Park against redevelopment plans in late May has struck a deep chord among the youth and others in many cities throughout Turkey, with women often in the front ranks. Now the main demand is for Erdogan to resign.

The situation took a turn on the night of June 15 when the authorities attempted to put an end to the protests by sheer force, thus revealing the nature of the state Erdogan leads. Tightly closed ranks of thousands of police from all over the country, with their shields tilted above their heads, lined up like phalanxes of ancient Roman soldiers, moved through the park. The authorities changed the composition of their high-tech sprays and gases used against protesters. Not only do eyes sting horribly but people vomit and their flesh sometimes shows the marks of first-degree chemical burns. Most people were not prepared for such an onslaught. Although they held their ground for more hours than seemed possible, eventually they were driven out.

Erdogan’s claims that the protesters in their multitudes were all “terrorists” or at least manipulated by “terrorism” had fallen flat. When he called for mothers to come to Gezi Park and get their children, hundreds of mothers came to form a protective human chain around the park. The association of lawyers held a demonstration to demand the release of their colleagues jailed for defending protesters, and the doctors’ and dentists’ association did the same to defend the medical personnel targeted by the police, beaten and jailed for taking care of the wounded.

Erdogan called huge rallies in Ankara and Istanbul to prove that his support is still strong. He tried to set his social base on fire with religion and a sense that he and they are victims of unnamed enemies, implicitly “the West” and Westernized people in Turkey who want to prevent Turkey’s rise.

For the past three decades giant changes have swept Turkey as part of the quickened pace of globalization. The intensification of capitalist development has meant new capitalists want their share of the state power and the loot. This same process of development has also led to dislocation of millions of peasants and subsistence farmers, driven to bankruptcy and pushed into the shantytowns or migration abroad. This process of upheaval has been reflected in a nostalgia for the traditional ideas, morals and culture.

The ruling AKP party was propelled into power as an expression of these drives and contradictions toward, on the one hand, an increased modern capitalist development and, on the other hand, the promotion of traditional values and religious ideology—its “politics of piety.” The AKP represents the unashamed defense and practice of free market capitalism and exploitation, working hand in hand with imperialism. Yet their claim to power, their ideological cohesion, and their appeal to a section of the people is increasingly rooted in religious ideology (Islam) and its yearning for a traditional way of life that is being undercut by the very workings of the world capitalist system that the AKP is salivating over.

This report drew on analysis in “A Spring Thunder Resonating Far and Wide,” by Ishak Baran, Revolution #308, June 30, 2013, in English and Turkish.

In today’s world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, these two conflicting but interdependent drives are shaping political events and posing reactionary alternatives, contending with each other, and fueling reactionary violence and manipulation. Aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, Somalia, the imperialist “war on terrorism,” the ongoing confrontation with the Islamic Republic of Iran—all of this is marked by this same dynamic. The so-called Turkish Model was touted as an example of mitigating and harmonizing unbridled capitalist, imperialist-dependent development with a reactionary Islamic political regime. Erdogan is caught between these two irreconcilable poles. His arrogance is caused by the conviction that he is the only one who can hold this explosive contradiction together, and that ultimately the Western powers and Turkey’s ruling class as a whole will have to accept that.

The regime has made efforts to peel off some of the more established middle class people who make up an important base of support for the movement in the streets, both by making promises (such as not to tear down Gezi Park without a court process and possibly a referendum) and brutality and arrests. His reign of terror has given some protesters pause, but is also an important factor in spreading a disbelief in the regime’s legitimacy.

The core of this movement remains in a resistance mood. Sometimes it is expressed in a solemn way like the ‘‘standing man’’ in Taksim Square, and in mass pledges to never give up made to honor those killed by the police. Sometimes it is in defiant jokes, like the chanting of “bring on the pepper gas” as night falls. “This is just the beginning,” another chant goes, with an increasingly realistic assessment that what is beginning is going to be dangerous and difficult.

Most important, there is a questioning, not only about what to do but what to fight for, what kind of world we have and what kind we want.


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




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

From A World to Win News Service

Turkey: A Movement Touching Deepening Chords

June 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Part of  a protest   at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Monday, June 3, 2013

Part of a protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Monday, June 3, 2013. Photo: AP


June 17, 2013. A World to Win News Service. The situation in Turkey has taken another turn. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apparently adopted a "double or nothing" strategy of seeking to restore stability mainly by crushing resistance, escalating the political and ideological conflict, and bringing violence to a new level. At the same time, this resistance to the regime has struck a deep chord among the youth and throughout Turkey. It is not an everyday occurrence for any society to be so clearly split into two opposing camps.

The police have been gassing and beating demonstrators mercilessly since the beginning, but never was the nature of the state Ergodan leads as obvious as on the night of June 15. Tightly closed ranks of thousands of police with their shields tilted above their heads, lined up like phalanxes of ancient Roman soldiers, moved through Taksim Square in an attempt to end the weeks of protest by sheer force no matter what the cost.

Thousands of Turkish youths gather at Ankara's main Kizilay Square in the face of government attacks on them, Saturday, June 1, 2013. National protests over a  violent police raid of an anti-development sit-in in Taksim square  revealed the depths of anger against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Thousands of Turkish youths gather at Ankara's main Kizilay Square in the face of government attacks on them, June 1, 2013.
Photo: AP /Burhan Ozbilici

Most protesters were unprepared for the scope and viciousness of this assault. The attack was especially unexpected because even at his most menacing, Erdogan had given them until the next day before he said the security forces would clear them out. They retreated to adjacent Gezi Park, where they were able to stand up to water cannons, enormous clouds of gas, and clubbing for more hours than seemed possible.

The regime brought in police from all over the country. It sent in the gendarmes—a military formation not usually used in the streets—in an attempt to keep demonstrators from crossing over from the Asian side of the Bosphorus Strait and reaching Taksim Square. They failed to stop people on the bridge, but attacked them brutally when they reached the European side.

The authorities have also changed the composition of their chemical weapons, the hi-tech sprays and gases used against protesters, so that not only do eyes sting horribly but people vomit and their flesh sometimes shows the distinctive marks of chemical burns.

Yet while the regime now holds Taksim, many people still gather in the surrounding neighborhoods and elsewhere in Istanbul ready to confront whatever the regime uses against them.

At nine o'clock in the evening, people stop whatever they are doing and make noise for 15 minutes in solidarity with the movement and each other. This is particularly powerful in the neighborhoods around Taksim where many residents have come to support the youth against the police, but to some degree throughout Istanbul. People lean out of their apartment windows to bang on pots and pans, thump metal lampposts if they happen to be in the street, and even in cafes and restaurants stand up and bang their plates and glasses as loudly as possible.

Similar scenes are taking place in Ankara and Izmir, Turkey's second- and third-largest cities.

Erdogan successfully called huge rallies in Ankara and Istanbul. The event in Istanbul was meant to prove that his support is strong not just in Anatolian towns but among the urban population and commercial classes of the biggest city. Erdogan has tried to set his social base on fire with religion and a sense that he and they are victims of unnamed enemies, implicitly "the West" and Westernized people in Turkey. In an almost unbelievable outburst of Turkish chauvinism at its most blatantly racist, he resorted to telling his supporters that these enemies consider them uneducated "n*ggers".

His claims that the protesters in their multitudes are all "terrorists" or at least manipulated by "terrorists" have begun to fall flat. When he called for mothers to come to Gezi Park and get their children, hundreds of mothers came to form a protective ring around all the demonstrators. The association of lawyers held a demonstration to demand the release of their colleagues jailed for defending protesters, and the doctors' and dentists' association did the same to defend the medical personnel targeted by the police, beaten, and jailed for taking care of the wounded. Several trade union confederations have gone on strike to demand a halt to the police attacks.

This pushed Erdogan into yet more flaming hysteria against the protest movement, denouncing it as part of a conspiracy by the Western powers, Israel, and international financiers determined to deny Turkey its rightful place as a modern, Islamist regional powerhouse. (He also implies that they are working through the Kurds to dismember Turkey, although the Kurdish PKK is still trying to preserve its entente [agreement or understanding] with the governing AKP.)

As if Erdogan himself—as the latest in a line of leaders of the Turkish state going back to Ataturk and the civilian and military figures who followed the founder of the republic, along with the Turkish ruling class as a whole—has not sought Turkey's "rightful place" as a haven (and heaven) for foreign capital and as junior partner to the U.S. and European imperialists. As if Erdogan himself were not an expert in interfering in other countries' affairs, hand-in-hand with the U.S. (and Israel), from Iraq and the Republic of Georgia to Libya and Syria.

There is no need to imagine a foreign conspiracy to explain why his policies and his system have brought so many people to the streets against the way things are and are going in Turkey.

The regime has made efforts to peel off some of the older and more established middle class people who make up an important base of support for the movement in the streets, both by making promises (such as not to tear down Gezi Park without a court process and possibly a referendum) and threats (to consider any person found near Taksim Square a "member of a terrorist organization," a charge as potentially serious legally as it is ridiculous). Many people came to Taksim to celebrate, not to resist the police, and the unrestrained brutality against anyone in the street—as if every onlooker, doctor or lawyer, casual protester, football club supporter, and hardened street fighter were all "terrorists"—has given some people pause. But at the same time, this has been an important factor in a emergence and spreading of a disbelief in the regime's legitimacy.

Erdogan orchestrated the clearing of Taksim Square as a kind of opening act to his Istanbul rally. Both events were meant to signal that the regime has a strong social base, especially among those benighted by religion, and has far more violent power than many protesters imagined. But seeking to further divide society is a perilous operation with unpredictable consequences. Such resorting to open terror and the threats to bring in the army to crush unarmed political protesters, are not necessarily advantageous to the regime in the short or long run.

The core of this movement seems to be in more of a fighting mood than ever. Sometimes it is expressed in a solemn way, in mass pledges made to honor those killed by the police by never giving up. Sometimes it is in defiant jokes, like the chanting of "bring on the pepper gas" as night falls. "This is just the beginning," another chant goes, with an increasingly realistic assessment that what is beginning is going to be very dangerous and difficult.

Most important, there is a questioning, not only about what to do—important enough—but what to fight for, what kind of world we have and what kind we want. Serious thinking and serious actions.

People gather to react as Turkish riot police spray water cannon at demonstrators who remained defiant after authorities evicted activists from an Istanbul park, near the main Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, June 16, 2013.

Demonstrators remain defiant in the face of police spraying water cannon after government forces evicted activists from an Istanbul park, near Taksim Square in Istanbul, June 16, 2013. Photo: AP



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




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

From A World to Win News Service

"It all started with a tree"

—statement by the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist)

June 26, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


June 15, 2013. A World to Win News Service. Following are edited excerpts from a June 2 statement by the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist). The full statement is available in English as well as Farsi on the website of Haghigat.

A popular slogan is Turkey is this: "Hey, lamp—it all started with a tree! Did you get it?"

The lamp is the symbol of the governing party (the AKP under the leadership of [Prime Minister] Erdogan), but during this party's decade-long reign it has been synonymous with stupidity and cultural backwardness. The word “tree” is an allusion to the great movement of the last few days started by a small number of environmental activists opposing the transformation of Gezi Park (located adjacent to Taksim Square in Istanbul) into a commercial center, but it is also a reference to Adam and Eve meant to ridicule the sexual taboos wrapped in rotten religious rituals by the AKP regime.

It is clear that the Erdogan regime is facing an important political crisis. In addition to the destruction of the environment and Taksim Square, much deeper factors have been involved in the formation of this political crisis. The-step-by-step implementation of Islamic measures, such as restrictions on caesarean births and abortion, forbidding alcohol consumption at certain hours, and kissing in public all have caused anger among the masses and provoked their outpouring on to the streets.

The Turkish regime wants to rally its Islamic social base and turn them into an ideological force, but by doing so it has isolated itself from a large section of the population. Turkey's involvement in the Syria crisis and its support for reactionary Islamic oppositions, and preparations for military adventures in the Middle East, and the project of turning Turkey into a so-called "21st-century Ottoman Empire" are factors that have expanded the scope of people's anger with the AKP regime.

Apart from ideological and political factors, the fragility of Turkey's economic development model is also feeding the current crisis. None of the AKP regime's economic policies have resulted in sustainable economic development. In the past 10 years, the world capitalist system has more deeply penetrated the Turkish economy than in any other period in its history.

The AKP regime is not only isolated among sections of people, but also, with the appearance of the effects of their adventurist regional foreign policy and doubts about the sustainability of their economic policies, discontent amongst bourgeois strata has also increased.

The sudden appearance of this anti-regime movement in Turkey is the most important event in the Middle East. This movement can destroy all the calculations made by the imperialists and regional reactionaries once again. The White House and the U.S. embassy in Turkey are following events closely and keeping in close contact with the Turkish prime minister and the country's other parliamentary parties.

The enemy's main policy is to marginalize the masses to the maximum degree so that they would have no voice in charting the path and determining the aims of this movement. The enemy knows that to achieve this, they have to stop the goals and expectations of the masses from going beyond electoral and parliamentary democracy, and channel this movement into the path of bartering among parties loyal to the state, such as the Republican People's Party (CHP) and other parliamentary parties. The prime minister's speeches, foreign policy statements by the U.S., and the discourse of the parliamentary parties in Turkey are all about "parliamentary democracy," "the ballot box," the need for negotiations between parliamentary parties, and so forth.

The media broadcast the news of the movement with images and speeches in line with the above policy. For example, the prime minister in his speeches emphasizes that "in a democracy protests must be conducted through parliament and voting." The mayor of Istanbul says this movement has proved that we have to "consult" people in doing anything. The official media basically report the slogans and flags of parliamentary parties, while the barricades and fighting with police, basically carried out by leftist activists and anti-regime revolutionary parties, with the participation of non-organized masses, get almost no coverage.

The Workers Party of Kurdistan (PKK) and its leader Abdullah Ocalan did not support this movement until June 2, despite the June 1 demonstration in the town of Amed (Diyarbakir, Kurdistan) with the slogan of "media, why are you keeping silent?"

None of the bourgeois parties can ignore this movement and its future. All of them, including the ruling party, are following a dual policy towards it: containing the aims, expectations, and demands of the movement and stopping it from turning into a movement with the aim of overthrowing the system, on the one hand, and on the other using it as a bargaining chip against each other for a bigger share of power and to further consolidate the state.

The states in the region are closely following events in Turkey. The Iranian foreign ministry issued a statement expressing the hope for a "peaceful resolution." There is no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran is happy to see the Turkish government dragged into a political crisis. But on the other hand, they know that a further radicalization and spreading of the movement, with no Islamic content but with a secular and left tendency, will no doubt affect the masses in Iran.

The Islamic regime in Egypt led by Mohamed Morsi is extremely worried, since it presented the AKP government as a model and is concerned about the fate of the "godfather" of moderate Islam in the Middle East and what effects developments in Turkey may have on the future of the other regimes in the region.

The reactionary opposition in Syria, engaged in heavy fighting with the Syrian army and Hezbollah from Lebanon, had put all their hopes on the Turkish regime's ability to persuade the NATO armies and the U.S. to launch a military intervention in Syria and finish off the Assad regime. Now even Erdogan knows that this rhetoric is a burst bubble, at least until he can restore political stability at home.

There is an intensely felt necessity that what started in the Middle East as the "Arab Spring" take a great leap in Turkey. In order for that to happen and qualitatively affect the mass protest movements throughout the Middle East and the world, a thorough critique of the dominant system in the Middle East is required: the nature of the states and the ruling political and social formations in these countries, including the nature of "electoral democracy"; the nature of the contradictions between Islamism and imperialism; and the importance of the expansion of religious patriarchy and the oppression of women through the integration of religion and the state in the reproduction of oppressive and exploitative formations dependent on the world capitalist system.

This question must be put forward: Why did Tahrir Square in Cairo turn into a square where women are raped? We have to ask: Why were the people's sacrifices in Egypt and Tunisia deposited into the accounts of Islamist parties?

Communist revolutionaries in Turkey must call for international solidarity with all oppressed nations in the Middle East, and the central point of this declaration should be that the peace negotiations between the Turkish and Kurdish bourgeoisies cannot lead to the liberation of the Kurdish people. They can only lead to the participation of Kurdish bourgeois-feudals in the ruling system, which can only mean a hell of oppression, religious patriarchy, the intensification of the oppression of women, and poverty for the majority of the masses.

This movement should pay particular attention to confronting the regime on the main points of its agenda: the destruction of revolutionary forces through pulling them into the parliamentary sewer, turning Turkey into a gendarme of U.S. imperialism and the European Union in the Middle East with the chauvinist slogans about the restoration of the Ottoman Empire; the integration of religion into the state, and the intensification of patriarchy and misogyny within the framework of further opening Turkey to capitalist globalization. It is impossible to confront this regime without addressing these questions.

The issue that this movement cannot afford to ignore is communism, the communist outlook, and program. Taking this outlook and program to the people in this movement is a huge challenge for the revolutionary communists, but without fearlessly putting forward this outlook and program, the particular struggle against this regime cannot be carried forward boldly.

The existence of various bourgeois parties in this movement is a source of illusions and lowering the goals, but on the other hand this situation can be used to expose the nature and program of other class forces. Lack of attention to the program and slogans of other parties under the pretext of preserving unity can only lead to the strengthening of the goals and programs of those parties among the masses of people.

This movement has brought a blast of fresh air to Turkey and all over the Middle East, but it also has very serious political limitations. Through small and large leaps it must overcome these limitations, and through those steps persist and develop. We have to understand that the limitations, although real, are conditional and relative and not absolute. These limitations can be transformed through conscious engagement. The tasks of the revolutionary communists are to constantly push at these limits and do their utmost to the maximum possible degree to transform them: through agitation and propaganda, slogans, the radicalization of general declarations, organizing discussions and debates at night over the nature of the parliamentary path, the possibility of radically changing society, the situation in the Middle East and internationalist duties, the importance of struggle against patriarchy and the integration of religion into the state, exposing the nature and prospects of "peace" between the Turkish state and the Kurdish movement, and so on.

Through this we can speed up the situation and be prepared for unexpected developments. A change in the existing position of a movement cannot be the result of the intervention of a vanguard force alone, but that intervention can be a determining factor in changing the movement's predominant framework. This intervention, combined with other factors, can affect the overall prospects for a movement, and lead to a qualitative change. But it is impossible to predict how the sum of these prospects would develop. In general, we have to follow what Lenin formulated: that communist consciousness, the communist outlook and methodology, cannot develop among the masses spontaneously.

It can be already said that there are two pathways for the current movement: either going deep into the swamp of the parliamentary stupidity propagated by the ruling party and other state-endorsed parties and the international and Turkish media, or building a movement for radically changing society. Building the second path is a task facing the left and communist youths in Turkey. Now the question is: What has to be done to build such a movement? How can communists take part in the current movement without tailing its spontaneity and shape the future through this?


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




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Massacres at the Heart of America's "War on Terror":

"War crimes, crimes against humanity... things that a person simply can not come back from...."

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


"During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of. To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me... Any blame rests with them."

This is part of Daniel Somers' suicide letter to his family. He was a 30-year-old Iraq war veteran who killed himself on June 10. Somers had been involved in hundreds of combat missions, interrogations of Iraqi prisoners, and then worked with the Joint Special Operations Command. The experience left him in constant physical and mental anguish. (Democracy Now!, June 25, 2013)

Somers' experiences point to the ugly reality the powers-that-be and their media cover up: over the past 12-plus years of the so-called "war on terror," war crimes and crimes against humanity have not been the rare exception—they've been the rule. They haven't been committed by a few "bad apples" or "rogue" soldiers, but are built into the very DNA of the war and the U.S. role in the world. This is why, even when the U.S. military is forced to admit wrongdoing, it refuses to seriously punish the murderers. This has been a war of terror on millions in many different countries, a war of empire designed to solidify America's global power and crush any who stand in its way, not to liberate anyone, not to end death and suffering. These three stories, of three massacres—and there are many, many more—illustrate what the U.S. "war on terror" is really about.

November 19, 2005: Haditha, Iraq

In the early morning, a roadside bomb had exploded and killed a marine near Haditha. The marines immediately went on a rampage. Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich, who led the assault, allegedly told his men, "If we ever get hit again, we should kill everyone in that vicinity."

Five nearby Iraqis, a taxi driver and four teenagers, were ordered out of their car and shot dead. Then the marines began going house to house.

Eman Walid Abdul-Hameed, a 10-year-old Iraqi, described what happened in her home: "The American soldiers came into our house at 7 in the morning. We were awake but still wearing our nightclothes... I heard explosions by the door. The Americans came into the room where my father was praying and shot him. They went to my grandmother and killed her too. I heard an explosion. They threw a grenade under my grandfather's bed.... They kill people, then they say sorry. I hate them."

A man and a woman, carrying a baby, ran from the house to escape the gunfire—and the marines shot and killed the man. The woman is said to have escaped with her baby, but among Eman's family, only she and one little brother survived, wounded, after the other adults died protecting them from the U.S. soldiers' bullets. The marines went on to the next house, storming in and killing eight people, including a two-year-old child and three other small children. They moved on to the next house and dragged four men into a closet and shot them there.

When the soldiers were done five hours later, they had killed 24 people. The marines involved immediately tried to cover up their massacre: they claimed the IED [roadside bomb] had killed 15 civilians, and the other dead were "insurgents" killed after they fired on the marines.

Eight marines were ultimately charged with voluntary manslaughter. Charges were dismissed against six. One was acquitted. Wuterich pled guilty to dereliction of duty. He received no jail time—only demotion to private. In February 2012, he was discharged under honorable conditions.

February 12, 2010: Gardez, Afghanistan

Gardez, Afghanistan, February 12. In the middle of the night U.S. forces murder five people among those gathered to celebrate the naming of a newborn.

Gardez, Afghanistan, February 12. In the middle of the night U.S. forces murder five people among those gathered to celebrate the naming of a newborn. Photo: AP

That evening, some 25 friends and relatives gathered at the home of Hajji Sharaf Udin in the village of Khataba, a few miles outside Gardez, the capital of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan. They were there to celebrate the naming of Udin's newborn grandson. Around 3 am, Udin's son, Mohammed Dawood, a police commander, and his 15-year-old son went outside because they thought the Taliban were approaching. Both were shot. Dawood died, his son was wounded. The attackers weren't the Taliban—they were American Special Operations forces operating under JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command). Udin's other son, Zahir, came to the door and yelled, "Don't fire, we work for the government." He too was shot and killed. Three women crouching behind Zahir in the doorway were all killed in the hail of bullets: Bibi Shirin, 22, the mother of four children under 5; Bibi Saleha, 37, the mother of 11 children; and Gulalai, 18. Both mothers were pregnant, Gulalai was engaged.

As if this weren't horror enough, the U.S. forces assaulted the survivors, who were restrained and forced to stand barefoot for several hours outside in the cold. Eight were arrested, flown to a U.S.-Afghan base, and held four days for interrogation. All were released without charges. U.S. forces refused to give the wounded medical treatment.

"After watching his brother and his wife," Amy Goodman, of Democracy Now!, writes, drawing from the new film Dirty Wars, which documents this massacre, "his sister and his niece killed by U.S. special forces, Mohammed Sabir was handcuffed on the ground. He watched, helpless, as the U.S. soldiers dug the bullets out of his wife's corpse with a knife" in an attempt to cover up their involvement in the massacre. ("Dirty Wars: Jeremy Scahill's antidote to Zero Dark Thirty's heroic narrative," Amy Goodman,, January 28, 2013)

Night raids, special operations, covert assassinations, extrajudicial killings, drone strikes, the use of military contractors, massive detentions and torture, and all-around terror are embedded in the nature of the imperialist occupation of Afghanistan. This occupation's central goal is subduing—by any means necessary—a population in which most don't want to be under foreign domination and many have learned through eight-plus bitter years of war and occupation to distrust if not hate the American occupiers and the flunkies they've empowered in Kabul. Gulalai's father, Mohammed Tahir, said. "They teach us human rights then they kill a load of civilians. They didn't come here to end terrorism. They are terrorists."

After first denying the villagers' story, the U.S. admitted there had been an error—but there was no investigation and none of the U.S. troops who murdered innocent Afghans was ever charged with any crime.

March 11, 2012: Alokzai and Najiban villages outside Kandahar, Afghanistan

At 3 am, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, stationed at a nearby base where he supported a special operations unit charged with "village stability," burst into the homes of three families and went on a vicious, premeditated killing rampage. A 15-year-old wounded survivor said, "soldiers" woke up his family and then began shooting them.

According to another young Afghan woman, an American soldier wearing a helmet equipped with a flashlight burst into her two-room mud home while everyone slept. He killed her husband, Dawood, punched her seven-year-old son and shoved a pistol into the mouth of his baby brother. "We were asleep. He came in and he was shouting, saying something about Taliban, Taliban, and then he pulled my husband up."

Another villager said, "When it was happening in the middle of the night we were inside our houses. I heard gunshots and then silence and then gunshots again."

One villager returned home to find 11 family members dead—his wife, his mother, two brothers, a 13-year-old nephew and his six children, their bodies partially burned. "Eleven members of my family are dead," he said. "They're all dead."

After Bales murdered family members, he "poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them."

When Bales finished, 16 (possibly 17) innocent civilians—including nine children and three women—had been murdered. Six more were wounded: four children, one woman and one man. It was reported that Bales "returned to his base after the shooting, calmly turned himself in and was taken into custody at a NATO base in Afghanistan." (Daily Telegraph)

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta expressed his "profound regret" and that the U.S. would "bring those responsible to justice." President Obama claimed the "incident" "does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan." But Bales did not face justice in Afghanistan. He was whisked out of the country and taken to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In May 2013, to avoid execution, Bales pled guilty to killing nine children and seven adults. He has yet to be sentenced.





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at Los Angeles Central Library

July 3, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Saturday, July 20, Revolution Books LA is hosting a major screening of large parts of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at Central Library in downtown LA. Pacifica radio station KPFK has signed on as a media sponsor.

This is a very big deal! Bob Avakian has said that "THIS MOVEMENT FOR REVOLUTION MUST NOW BECOME A REAL FORCE, POWERFULLY IMPACTING AND INFLUENCING ALL OF SOCIETY...." "RNL@CL" can make important contributions to this, not only in LA but reverberating around the country and even internationally. But that will happen only if we grab hold of this opening and make the most of it.

Think about all the things going on in the world, from the mass uprisings in Turkey and Brazil (and now new rumblings in Egypt) to the trial of George Zimmerman for murdering Trayvon Martin. The upcoming prisoners' hunger strike in California, and the daring plans to confront the relentless assault on women concentrated right now in wholesale attacks on the right to abortion. All the turmoil kicked up by Edward Snowden's exposure of massive government spying, and growing unease about how the capitalist drive for profit is wreaking havoc on the environment and threatening planetary extinctions on a scale unseen for millions of years.

Now throw in a major showing of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! at one of the premier public library locations in the country and think what difference it will make for THIS analysis of the SOURCE of these problems and the SOLUTION to them to be in that mix.

The Importance of Central Library

The Central Library is the second-largest public library system west of the Mississippi. It is a respected public cultural institution in Southern California that features important writers, artists, and public thinkers, yet also one where basic people from some of LA's poorest neighborhoods feel welcome. RNL@CL has the potential to reach many, many people who know nothing about BA and this revolution... to give them an opportunity to meet the revolution "up close and personal" ... to take the movement for revolution into a physical and cultural space where Bob Avakian's vision could reach sections of society on a whole other level than it has up to now.

Having the screening at Central Library should also create conditions where different kinds of people can attend the screening: basic people from the neighborhoods... progressive artists and intellectuals... students and academics... people who live and/or work in the downtown LA area, which has become more of a center for them. It can open doors to sections of influential folks in society who see libraries as centers where "outlawed ideas" can get air time, but who have never had the opportunity to engage THESE ideas—or in some cases, frankly, they have heard about BA or the work of the RCP that he leads but have never really felt the need to engage what he has to say, and now might be won to do so because the event is happening at Central Library.

Librarians at LA neighborhood branch libraries have taken notice of RNL@CL, and the Central Library event should make it much more possible for them to do screenings at their own locations. A successful screening could also open the door for showings in other libraries, community centers, and similar places across the country. In real ways, what happens in the LA public library system ripples out to libraries around the country, in cities and towns big and small.

Many people become librarians because they see the importance of places where all kinds of people can go to read about things they might otherwise never know about, to learn about the world, to wrangle with big and controversial ideas. And let's not forget that LA librarians (along with librarians around the country) have taken courageous stands against government snooping, like the American Library Association's opposition to the Patriot Act after 9/11 and their long-standing position that public libraries should not keep records of who uses the library or what they read or research so they cannot turn this over to government spies.

Making This Happen

The opportunities are great, but we have work to do if we want it to happen.

People need to clear their schedules and "save the day" right now. Start talking to friends, family, co-workers—anyone you think needs to be exposed to these ideas and the whole possibility of a radically different and far better world—and get them to commit to be there. Take this into all the protests going on, all the places where people are facing off against the cruel heartlessness of this system, and challenge them to not only fight those battles, but to spend a day exploring a soaring, searing analysis of WHY all the crimes and abuses they hate go on and what we can do to SOLVE this.

If you live in LA or within driving distance, start making plans to attend. If you live somewhere else in the country or the world, contact everyone you know who does live in Southern California and urge them to be there at the screening. Get your hands on stacks of palm cards advertising the screening and get them to coffee shops and newsstands, classrooms and churches, company lunchrooms—wherever you think people need to know about this and could be intrigued enough to attend. Donate urgently needed funds to help get the DVD of BA's talk out all over society.

There's nothing more important you can do on July 20. Don't miss it!

Saturday, July 20, starting at 12:30 pm
Los Angeles Central Library—Mark Taper Auditorium
630 West 5th Street, downtown Los Angeles

For more info or publicity material, call Revolution Books LA at (323) 463-3500.




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

From Trial of George Zimmerman:

Cops' Testimonies Show Their Hostility for Trayvons of the World

July 3, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Some observations from the second week of George Zimmerman's trial.

The trial of George Zimmerman, killer of Trayvon Martin, has entered its second week. Monday and Tuesday, prosecutors for the State of Florida continued to call their witnesses to the stand.

These included two Sanford Police Department officers who "interrogated" Zimmerman, testimony from two expert witnesses who had examined some of the evidence, and a longtime friend of Zimmerman's.

Two recordings of Zimmerman's initial interrogations were played in the courtroom. One was an audio recording of the first interrogation at Sanford police headquarters made the night Zimmerman murdered Trayvon; the other was a video of Zimmerman walking police through how he claimed things went down on February 26, 2012, the night he killed Trayvon with a shot to the heart.

Two things were immediately evident through the recordings and the police testimony. One is that not only was Zimmerman's testimony full of self-serving and self-contradictory lies, his lies were in no meaningful way challenged by the police. In fact, the basic sense of these interrogations was that the police were helping Zimmerman work out his story.

They were assisting him in getting the details straight, like they would do for a fellow cop who killed someone. As one of these cops said to Zimmerman, "These are some of the things you're going to have to answer." At one point, Chris Serino, the main detective in this case, essentially recapped Zimmerman's entire testimony for him. And guess what—Zimmerman agreed that, yes, that was exactly what had happened.

Boiling with Hostility for the Trayvons of the World

But the main thing about these cops is that they boil with contempt and hostility towards Trayvon Martin and the Trayvons of this world, and sympathy for the Zimmermans. The first cop to question Zimmerman, Doris Singleton, didn't turn on the video recorder in the interrogation room because, she said, she didn't know how. Recording testimony in murder cases is cop 101—but this cop "didn't know how." However, she was able to assure the prosecutor that Zimmerman, the man who had just killed a teenager with a bag of candy in his hand, "exhibited no hostility".

A bit later in her "interrogation," she almost ended up on her knees in a prayer session with Zimmerman, gushing on about how terrible Zimmerman, a fellow Christian, must feel about taking someone's life. Zimmerman told Singleton he was worried about "god's commandment not to kill." She assured Zimmerman (and remember, this is in the course of a supposed police interrogation of someone who had just blown a hole in the chest of a 17-year-old Black youth) that "god did not intend for that to mean that you could not defend yourself."

Detective Serino, a prosecution witness, delivered the most damaging testimony of all: on Monday he told the court he believed Zimmerman's story. Tuesday morning, the prosecution objected, and the judge ordered this remark of Serino's stricken from the record. But as every lawyer commenting on the case has said, the damage was done.

Establishing Zimmerman's state of mind, in particular whether he has a "depraved mind showing no regard for human life" is crucial to the charges of second-degree murder he faces. Serino was so hostile to Trayvon and sympathetic to Zimmerman that he said he thought Zimmerman was not expressing "ill will" but rather was simply "generalizing" when he muttered, "Fucking punks! These assholes! They always get away!" before setting off to confront Trayvon.

A big part of Zimmerman's defense is his claim that he felt his life was in danger. He claimed that Trayvon was banging his head on the sidewalk—and Zimmerman's lawyer said in his opening remarks that the concrete was Trayvon's "deadly weapon." He claimed he was being punched repeatedly in the face, to the point blood from his nose was dripping back into his lungs.

But Dr. Valerie Rao, a forensic pathologist for Duval County, brought one of the few moments of clarity to this week's proceedings so far. She pointed out that Zimmerman's minor scrapes were "insignificant" and were "not consistent" with what would be expected from someone who was punched repeatedly in the face or had their head banged on the sidewalk. Zimmerman did not suffer serious trauma, Dr. Rao testified—he only needed a few band aids.

A Police Cover-up

But the jury is being presented with a jumble of evidence and little or no basis to sift through it and arrive at the truth. The police, like George Zimmerman, see someone like Trayvon Martin—a Black youth in a hoodie, walking down the street—and immediately conclude he's "acting suspicious," he's a "fucking punk," one of the "assholes who always get away."

This is not just because individual cops are racist—much more fundamentally, it's because they serve and enforce an entire system of exploitation and oppression that has deeply embedded oppression of Black people as one of its cornerstones. And in today's America—in the land of mass incarceration and criminalization and a generation of Black and Latino youth being turned into a generation of suspects—millions of people are conditioned and trained through an endless media barrage to look at youth like Trayvon Martin as "fucking punks." What happened when Sanford police interviewed George Zimmerman in February 2012 was a police attempt at what would be for them a routine cover-up of the murder of Trayvon Martin.

But Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, Trayvon's parents, persevered in getting at the truth of what happened to their son; the call for Justice for Trayvon Martin resonated among millions of people, and a powerful upsurge of struggle swept the country.

And now George Zimmerman is on trial for second-degree murder.

The prosecutors in this case cannot confront the police witnesses with the fact that they, along with the rest of the law enforcement establishment, are complicit in justifying and covering up the murder of Trayvon. To do that would throw into question the entire nature and role of the police—the enforcers of a system of oppression. It is this whole system that needs to be challenged in a growing movement for revolution, as people everywhere fight for justice for Trayvon.

As Revolution wrote last week, "Right now, American society—with the whole world increasingly taking notice—is polarizing. Two sides are lining up—one upholding the right of the Trayvon Martins of this world to live and flourish and, if they are attacked, to have justice... and the other upholding the supposed rights of people like George Zimmerman to kill people like Trayvon with impunity. This should be clear, but every day the powers-that-be work to cloud this, so we must all insist on this basic truth."

Trayvon did not have to die
We all know the reason why
The whole system's guilty!

For more, see "The Stakes of the Trayvon Martin Case... and the Need to SEIZE THE TIME!" and "The Trial of George Zimmerman; the Persecution of Trayvon Martin"




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Revolution Interview: Carol Strickman, from Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition

Prisoners' Struggle Against "Cruel and Unusual Punishment Amounting to Torture"

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Interview:
A special feature of Revolution to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports, and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

Carol Strickman is a staff attorney at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, a San Francisco-based organization which advocates for the human rights and empowerment of incarcerated parents, children, family members, and people at risk of incarceration. She is a member of the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition, a member of the team mediating between the prison hunger strikers and prison authorities (the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation—CDCR), and part of the litigation team in Ashker v. Brown, a case filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights challenging solitary confinement in California prisons, now being argued in federal court.

This interview was conducted June 27, 2013.


Larry Everest: The June 20 communiqué from the principal prisoner representatives from the Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) SHU Short Corridor Collective Human Rights Movement stated they'd just held a mediation session with prison officials, that their demands hadn't been met, and so they felt compelled to resume their "hunger strike/work stoppage of indefinite duration until CDCR signs a legally binding agreement meeting our demands, the heart of which mandates an end to long-term solitary confinement (as well as additional major reforms)."

I want to begin with some background on the basic issue—long-term solitary confinement. Your organization has been providing services for prisoners and their families for many years, and you've personally visited Pelican Bay State Prison and the SHU (Security Housing Unit) Unit eight times in the last two years. I just saw a film clip of an inmate in the Pelican Bay SHU who talked about not having seen the moon or stars since 1998. Can you help readers understand what the conditions in the SHU are like, and what prompted the two prisoner hunger strikes in 2011 and now another one scheduled to start July 8?

Pelican Bay Prison, California

Pelican Bay Prison, California. Photo: AP

Carol Strickman: There's a horrible, near total, lack of human contact. The Pelican Bay is divided into "pods" of eight cells with a total of eight prisoners each—four up and four down. There are a total of 1,056 SHU cells divided into 132 pods. Prisoners are confined to these 8' x 10' cells for 22 and a half to 24 hours a day—without natural light, without being able to look outside the prison walls. They are allowed showers and solitary exercise in what prisoners call the "dog run." Someone in a control booth, which controls six pods, just pushes a button and their cell door opens. Then they are monitored on closed-circuit TV, and are told when time's up and they have to return to their cell.

There's no meaningful human interaction. Prisoners may have brief conversations—shouting to each other as they walk down the tier to get to the shower or exercise area, sometimes to people in other pods. They also communicate by shouting to each other through the slots in their cell doors, perhaps they catch a glimpse of other prisoners from time to time. So there's a very limited ability to have conversation.

The guards bring food twice a day; there's a food slot in the door and a tray gets shoved through (the same slot prisoners put their hands through to get handcuffed if they're leaving the pod). You could have a word with the guard who comes to the cell then, or when mail gets delivered through the slot at night. And then once every couple of weeks some psychologists come through asking if everyone is OK. So there is some very minimal contact with staff in that way, mostly verbal contact—but again, there's a terrible lack of any normal human contact.

Another thing I've learned is that none of the SHU prisoners get a good night's sleep. These are big cavernous areas, without carpets on the concrete floors and with very big, heavy doors. Guards come in and out, open and close doors, clomp up metal stairs, rattle keys, and shout to each other. So it's very noisy during the night. In our lawsuit we cite chronic sleep deprivation as being part of the cruel and unusual punishment that prisoners are subjected to, due to the whole structure of the SHU pods.

And, as you say, there is virtually no ability to experience anything in nature; there are virtually no educational, vocational or self-help programs; and family visits (which are rare because of the distance that families must travel) are conducted behind glass. Family visits are recorded; social mail is read.

All this constitutes cruel and unusual punishment amounting to torture.

Special to Revolution:
Artworks from Prisoners

Click to view full gallery.

Everest: How many prisoners in the state of California are locked up in these Security Housing Units or other forms of solitary confinement?

Strickman: Legal Services for Prisoners with Children recently did an assessment based on CDCR statistics. As of the end of March 2013, there were 3,941 prisoners in SHUs (3,820 men and 121 women), and another 6,251 in Administrative Segregation, or Ad Seg. (Ad Seg—often called "the Hole"—can be long- or short-term isolation in which prisoners are deprived of regular human contact, phone calls, and contact visits, and subject to other restrictions.) So that makes a total 10,192 prisoners in solitary confinement in California alone. I understand that there are another 70,000 or so in solitary confinement in prisons across the U.S.

Everest: The 2011 California prisoners' hunger strikes—one from July 1 until July 22, the other from September 26 until October 13—were very powerful. You were telling me that during the first hunger strike 6,600 prisoners took part, and in the second 11,900. I think we both feel this was an unprecedented and extremely significant struggle. At the time, the prisoners put forward five core demands—eliminate group punishments; abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria; comply with the recommendation of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons (2006) regarding an end to long-term solitary confinement; provide adequate and nutritious food; and expand and provide constructive programs and privileges for indefinite SHU inmates.

They ended their second hunger strike when the CDCR promised meaningful reform. However, the prisoners' June 20 statement sums up, "For the past [2] years we've patiently kept an open dialogue with state officials, attempting to hold them to their promise to implement meaningful reforms, responsive to our demands. For the past seven months we have repeatedly pointed out CDCR's failure to honor their word—and we have explained in detail the ways in which they've acted in bad faith and what they need to do to avoid the resumption of our protest action."

Could you explain what the CDCR has done—and not done—to address the prisoners' demands?

Strickman: What people need to know, first off, is that long-term solitary confinement at Pelican Bay is horrible because the conditions are so extreme. So the prisoners' demands are significant—they are not just asking for little things, or just small changes.

The prison authorities agreed to some of the prisoners' smaller demands, and they've implemented some. They've provided prisoners hats for warmth, balls to bounce in the exercise area, and photos taken of themselves—things which were banned before the hunger strike, and allowed proctored exams for those who can pay for college courses. And when you're in the SHU, even a little thing is big.

July 5 and 6: The Stop Mass Incarceration Network, Bay Area displayed a life-sized replica of a SHU cell in downtown San Francisco to build support for the California prisoners' hunger strike due to begin July 8. Nearly 4,000 prisoners are kept in solitary confinement in California SHUs, some for decades. Throughout the two days many different kinds of people, including whole families and tourists from around the world, came into the "SHU" cell. Ex-prisoners told of their experience and voiced their support for the hunger strike. Visitors to the "SHU" left with a new understanding of why the prisoners are going on hunger strike and many signed up to help, stay in touch, and took materials to spread the word about the strike. Photo: Special to Revolution

But in terms of the major issues—like changing rules for how someone gets into the SHU and the evidence used to put people there, or long-term solitary—there's been little done. They promised to revise their gang validation regulations—that's the main way people get sent to the SHU, being "validated" as a gang member—and they've done some things on that.

The prison system did say they were going to go around and evaluate those in the SHUs to see if they should remain, given that there's new criteria: under the new regulations, being a member of a designated group is cause for being sent to the SHU, but being an "associate" is not. And the CDCR needs a little more evidence to send someone to the SHU than they do now. They used to need three pieces of "evidence." But now they have a somewhat different formula under which various pieces of weighted evidence have to add up to 10 points. So they've set the bar a little higher, and they're going through and looking at associates and evaluating whether they should be in the SHUs. At Pelican Bay, for example, around 75 percent of those in the SHU are "associates" not "members." And the CDCR has reportedly determined that more than half of all SHU prisoners should be released to general population—and some have been.

The prison authorities are touting these statistics as showing their new program is really different. But what it shows is how bad the old system was. None of these changes would have happened without the 2011 hunger strike, and the prisoners' demands and support they got. So some people who have been in for decades are now getting out—but they never should have been in the SHU to begin with!

I'm not confident the new system will end up much different than the old one. The CDCR claims it's now behavior-based, not based on associations, but when "behavior" is simply having artwork in your cell that supposedly proves you're in a gang and then being locked up in isolation for itwell, we shouldn't have that kind of system. And they're still doing that—locking people up due to artwork. They may have moved a little bit because of the last hunger strike, but there's still a long way to go.

And in some ways, the new gang validation policy is worse, or potentially worse, than the old one. The previous validation policy targeted members or associates of seven prison gangs. Now the authorities say they won't limit themselves to those seven, but may also identify other "security threat groups"—which could have as few as three people. So a few prisoners—perhaps friends from the same neighborhood—could be identified as a "security threat group," labeled a street gang, and then sent into solitary confinement. As far as I know, the CDCR hasn't gone through the process yet to establish one or more new "STGs," but creating a means for doing so expands the net of those who could go into those horrible isolation units.

Everest: Are all the prisoners in the SHU through gang validation?

Strickman: Most are, but not all. Selling dope can send you to SHU—not on gang validation, but serving a "straight SHU sentence," for a fixed, not indefinite, period. The longest straight SHU sentence is five years for killing a guard, or three years for killing another prisoner.

Everest: Wait—You're telling me that if a prisoner kills a guard, they get five years in the SHU, but if they're "validated" as being a gang member—without committing any violent action against a guard or another prisoner—they can be sent to the SHU for decades?

Strickman: Exactly! Prisoners are in the Pelican Bay SHU for 20 to 30 years for nothing more than having drawn art which supposedly shows they're gang members or associates.

Everest: This hits me as such a striking example—that these SHUs are not about "crime prevention"; they're really a counter-insurgency program, aimed at different social groups or organizations—a counter-insurgency before the insurgency, so to speak. This is something Revolution has written about, as have groups like the Stop Mass Incarceration Network and Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow.

Strickman: It's like the criminal justice system: They don't care if you're innocent or guilty. There's something about having this system—it's just a voracious system, and having the control as you say that is abusive and has nothing to do with truth or honesty. The whole thing is very distressing, the whole thing. It's so cruel, the living situation is so mean-spirited. Some prisoners say, I know you're going to keep me here, but you have to give me some way to live a meaningful life.

The CDCR wants people to think they've made significant changes, but the prisoners feel they haven't. It's not all that different than before. The authorities did not make the big improvements the prisoners were led to believe they would get. And the terrible conditions of confinement have hardly changed at all. Many are still facing decades of long-term solitary confinement. So that's the reason for the renewed hunger strike.

Everest: I recall after the last hunger strike the CDCR did punish, really retaliated against, the hunger strikers. And recently I've seen some of your emails concerning very troubling ways the authorities may be preparing to retaliate against the hunger strikers this time around. Could you talk about that?

Strickman: Well, first, everyone involved in the second hunger strike in 2011 had write-ups and penalties assessed—for example, losing good time conduct or conduct credit accrued before they went into the SHU. Many had their TVs taken away for 90 days.

Rally held during summer 2011 Prisoner Hunger Strike. Photo: Bill Hackwell/Indybay

But what's troubling now is news that the prisons may start doing checks of the cells every 30 minutes (rather than every four hours as is the current practice). It is not yet clear whether this will actually be implemented, or what exactly it means, but there is talk that they'll implement this in connection with rolling lockdowns, which would be another escalation in the deprivation inflicted on prisoners. A lot of different reasons have been offered for this—it's very hard to figure out exactly what the CDCR is actually doing or planning, but it could mean that on some days staff would be shifted so prisoners wouldn't get showers or exercise that day at all. They'd get it the next day, but there would be less time for everyone.

It's troubling. We have a hunger strike looming for July 8, and CDCR issues a memo out of the blue for these 30 minute security checks. There's real potential for abuse—bothering people every 30 minutes, doing a head count in middle of night and waking people up. Are they just flexing their muscles and trying to show the prisoners how much they can make their lives miserable right before the hunger strike?

Everest: What about CDCR OP 228, the so-called "Hunger Strike Policy"? This seems to say the CDCR is going to isolate hunger strikers and cut them off from communication, including family visits or visits from attorneys unless active cases are going on.

Strickman: During the July 2011 hunger strike, they allowed family visits, but in September 2011, they did not. In both cases they allowed legal visits, but this time they say they won't unless the prisoner has a pending case. That's worse. I don't see how they can do that, how it's legally justifiable. It's aimed against the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Coalition lawyers. It's disturbing because we need to know on the outside what's going on inside. That's difficult if we don't have a way to get inside and talk to prisoners. They held up my mail in the second strike; I got nothing for a while and then 20 pieces came. I believe they intentionally held up my mail so I didn't know what was going on. We do have a pending class action case, so even under their new rules we should be able to see most Pelican Bay prisoners.

Everest: The June 20 statement from the prisoner representatives from the PBSP SHU Short Corridor Collective said they'd just come out of a mediation session at which the State of California refused to meet their demands. Could you fill us in—are there further negotiations planned? And could you talk about the lawsuit that prompted this mediation session?

Strickman: I was actually up at Pelican Bay doing interviews with prisoners for the lawsuit on the day the mediation took place, although I was not directly involved. It was a full-day session and I think there was a serious effort to settle things, with written offers from both sides submitted to the magistrate in the case. The magistrate has since scheduled another mediation session for July 26, two and a half weeks after the hunger strike resumes on July 8.

Ashker v. Brown is a lawsuit filed in federal court challenging solitary confinement in California prisons. It was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights and joined by Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, California Prison Focus, Siegel & Yee, and the Law Offices of Charles Carbone. Earlier this year the Ninth Circuit trial judge ruled against the State's motion to dismiss the case, allowing it to go forward. This was an important ruling. We've filed a motion for class certification so that the case would cover not only the 10 named plaintiffs in the original filing, but everyone in the Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU) either through gang validation or those in the SHU for 10 years or more. Now we're in the process of fighting for class certification, which would broaden the case and have important potential implications in the struggle against solitary confinement.

(For background, see "Lawsuit Challenges Solitary Confinement at California Prison.")

Everest: Given everything you've told me, what's amazing and inspiring is that all this abuse and inhumane treatment has not succeeded in breaking the will, humanity, or spirit of the prisoners, or their determination to fight for justice. And the "Agreement to End Hostilities," issued by the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective and the Representatives Body on August 12, 2012 also demonstrated how they're working to break out of the situation the system has put them in and putting their lives on the line to improve the situation for all prisoners. So could you tell us your sense of how this coming hunger strike may be shaping up?

Strickman: Pelican Bay prisoners issued a statement in December 2012 or January of this year making 40 additional demands and inviting prisoners in other prisons to write their own demands. So far, six other prisons have issued written demands to the governor or the wardens. These are High Desert, Wasco, Salinas Valley, San Quentin Death Row, New Folsom, and Corcoran. I think these demands all build on the five core demands from the 2011 strike, but these are other issues, in some cases very practical, small-scale issues, which are part and parcel of making prisons more livable and more useful to people.

This shows more organizing in advance than we were aware of last time. It suggests the hunger strike could be bigger this time. And this time people have known about the July 8 date for months. But it's hard to know how big it may end up being, relative to the previous hunger strike.

Everest: Thanks much for your time. I really learned a lot from this and I'm sure our readers will as well.




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

A Call to Contribute from Jazz Pianist and Composer Matthew Shipp

" BA is one of the few theorists asking the right questions . . ."

July 4, 2013 | BA Everywhere |

"I am pianist and composer matthew shipp and the world I envision living in is not the world I see in the newspapers and the tv news or 'reality tv shows'—I see very few people or groups really asking the tough questions and trying to come to some type of understanding of the forces that oppress all of us—I would think that we are way past the point of just giving in to the system and just trying to get our little piece of security within it whatever that would mean and just biding our time before we die—BA is one of the few theorists asking the right questions and grappling for answers—and what makes his work revolutionary to me is that he is not scared to say he might not have all the answers—his way of looking at the world is one of inclusion to the world of ideas and synthesis—this work must continue—these ideas must get out there—it is not about whether you agree with everything BA says—it's about the fact that what is out here cannot continue and we must have ideas circulating around that combat the system's intrinsic brutality. Please contribute."




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013


July 2, 2013 | BA Everywhere |

There is an urgent need to reach the Indiegogo crowd sourcing goal of $20,000 for BA Everywhere by July 15th. DONATE NOW to the Indiegogo Summer 2013 Campaign.

Join and spread the Indiegogo campaign!  Seize the tremendous opportunity to realize the potential to get BA Everywhere and let people be part of this campaign which could make a huge difference in society!

Watch the BA Everywhere video on the Indiegogo site and think about everyone you know who would be inspired and challenged to contribute to the campaign.   To raise the funds we must ASK people with more financial resources, middle class and wealthy friends, friends of friends, relatives and people who, once again, know of BA and the movement for revolution to DONATE and kick off the summer campaign.

The fund raising out in the streets of the hoods and at festivals are both inspiring and important in creating awareness and movement around BA Everywhere—and now let's add to that with efforts to reach all kinds of people from all walks of life, asking for donations of $100, $500 or $1000+.

Reach out to all the people you know:

Email, text, call, tweet, visit—however you communicate and spread the word.  Do it TODAY.

For more updates and statements on the BA Everywhere Summer 2013 Indiegogo campaign go to BA Everywhere on and the Indiegogo Summer 2013 Campaign.

* * * * *

Below is a sample letter that you can use TODAY to send to people that makes use of the letter from Dr. Dennis Loo which speaks to an important question that many people have from his own perspective.  Use it widely.



Dear ________,

I write today to with an urgent message and a great need. As millions are fighting and even dying in the streets of Egypt, Brazil and Turkey, as millions here in the U.S. are agonizing over the real possibility that the murderer of the black teenager Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, will be found not guilty thereby legitimating open season on black youth in hoodies; to take just two examples of the struggles that fill the papers lately, there is a huge problem. People do not know about, people are not debating and weighing that there is a radically different better way the world could be through a thorough revolution for a whole new system. Without this, no matter how heroically people fight, the old order, no matter how outrageous the brutality that people must endure, capitalism/imperialism will continue to destroy lives and the planet.

I write you personally today to ask that you donate today to the Indiegogo online crowdfunding campaign: BA Everywhere Summer 2013: Making a Difference, Changing the World! Your contribution will enable volunteers to go out this summer to spread the liberating vision and framework for a radically different world developed by the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian.

I want to share this letter that is a call for matching funds from Dr. Dennis Loo, which speaks to the difference donating to this campaign will make:

Letter from Dr. Loo:

Dear Friends at BA Everywhere:

I am a Professor of Sociology and chose this field in part because I wanted to more deeply understand the world and help others understand the world in order to change it. I know that there are many in the academic community who go into their fields for similar reasons and who can and should be donating to this Indiegogo fund drive.

I am putting up a $500 challenge to other teachers and professors to match my donation.

Here is why I am donating. Let me know why you chose to match this.

When the RCP began several years ago to promote BA as the cutting edge of what they do I was skeptical. How can one person be that important? Then I began to read his new synthesis. For those of us who aren't "feeding at the trough" and who instead want to see a different world than the horrors being played out before our very eyes now, his work and his role are frankly indispensable. I certainly am a different person because of his influence and in particular his breakthroughs on questions like the role of a vanguard party relative to the question of truth and how a party, while critical, does not by definition have a monopoly over truth. This is inextricably tied in with his views about the "wrangling" nature of genuine communists and Marxism – real revolutionaries are not afraid of debate and contention but welcome it because it is through that process that truth comes to be known. If you're wrong or partially wrong, you will find out if you engage in debate and discussion and if you're principled. Nobody has a monopoly over truth but this attitude of being always willing to wrangle over questions and this recognition of the complexity of reality and life – this is something terribly precious! Whether you agree with communism and communists or not, this spirit can only be something that you must welcome and want to foster.

Dennis Loo, Ph.D.

{insert person's name} Will you meet Dr. Loo's challenge and answer his call? If you want to make a big difference in whether there is going to be the possibility of really radical change, then, this is the campaign for you. Donate $500 -- or, more - to reach the goal of $20,000 by the July 15 deadline to fund the summer project, at

I will {call or write you} to talk in the next day or two.





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: Filling a Great Need

Timeline and Approach to Make This a Success

by Sunsara Taylor | July 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


“I am a volunteer clinic escort at Jackson Women’s Health Org., the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. The undue burden that women must endure to travel hours to our only clinic is heartbreaking. Yet they are so grateful to have this ‘last resort’ to turn to when making one of the most crucial decisions in their lives. If it takes fighting to my last breath, THIS CLINIC STAYS OPEN!”

—D.H., signer of the "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology" statement and donor to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride


"The near-daily laws restricting women's right to abortion, the chorus of Republicans belittling rape and shaming women, and the whole future they are aggressively fighting for are terrifying and an attempt to push us back to the dark ages. It is a state of emergency. Forced motherhood is a form of violence.

"But we must not be paralyzed by fear or sleepwalk in denial. WE MUST RISE.

"I am proud of throngs rising in Texas. I am proud of the women and men who will be traveling from both coasts and down the middle of the country in this summer's Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. I urge all to follow their daring and rise with them to reclaim our lives, our bodies, our own reproductive decisions, and our futures. There is no time to waste."

—Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues and founder of VDay

With under three weeks to go until the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is sent off in two major rallies on July 23 in San Francisco and New York City and then hits the road for a month (traveling all the way to North Dakota and then winding south to culminate in Jackson, Mississippi), it is important that revolutionaries and others who do not want to see women enslaved to their reproduction recognize and act on the great need this freedom ride is filling.

It is no exaggeration to make the analogy between this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride taking on the fight against female enslavement and the original Freedom Rides which challenged the brutal regime of the Jim Crow South. Forced motherhood IS female enslavement.

Already, right now as we read, in whole swaths of the country women—especially the most poor, oppressed and youngest women—do not have any meaningful access to abortion and often even birth control. Already, women are being trapped in abusive relationships, forced to drop out of school, driven into poverty (or deeper into poverty), being ostracized by fundamentalist families, and taking desperate and dangerous measures to self-induce abortions when faced with unwanted pregnancies.

As I write, courageous providers of abortions are being hunted, terrorized, stalked and threatened. To give just two examples: Julie Burkhart, the woman who courageously re-opened Dr. Tiller’s clinic after he was assassinated in his church four years ago, has had fanatical protesters show up at her home carrying signs that read, “Where do you go to church?” One of the courageous young doctors who has begun flying into the clinic there in Wichita to provide abortions has had her identity revealed and has become the target of threats and hate-filled protests at her home practice in progressive Oak Park, Chicago! Many, many, many more examples could be given!

Nearly every week new laws are proposed and enacted which concretely close down clinics, put providers out of work, and remove abortion access to many thousands more women! Just this past week we have seen Texas legislators move to enact laws which will shut down 37 out of 42 clinics which provide abortions in the state! In Ohio, the new state budget which goes into effect on July 8 strips funds for Planned Parenthood and imposes new restrictions on providers such that several clinics are expected to close.

This is a state of emergency. It is urgent that people across the country be confronted with this, the stakes of this emergency, and be mobilized to ACT!

The recent massive outpourings of anger and in defense of abortion rights in Texas and the smaller but still very significant outpourings in Ohio reveal just a taste of the tremendous reservoir which can and must be tapped into to defeat this whole woman-enslaving offensive. But, much, much more is needed!

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is filling a great need.

This Abortion Rights Freedom Ride Is:

1. Mobilizing people on a national scale—it is connecting up the hundreds of local showdowns at clinics and in courthouses and counties across this country into a national effort to turn the tide.

2. Mobilizing people to go on the political and moral offensive—to not merely respond to each new egregious attack, but to raise our heads to fight for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology—For Every Woman in Every State!

3. Telling the truth: this war on women will only be defeated through massive independent political action taken by thousands, hundreds of thousands and before long millions of people! And this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is giving people a way to act right now—relying on ourselves, changing the political terms, and connecting up the many streams of resistance into a national fight to turn the tide and defeat the war on women.

The success of this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is something that everyone who cares about women’s future has a stake in. Everyone must find the ways to support this effort and everyone reading this and everyone they know can do something to strengthen this impact.

Where Is It Going and When Will It Be There?

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride is traversing the entire country—from both coasts all the way to North Dakota and then all the way south to Jackson, Mississippi and then back home to both coasts. It will be stopping in Salt Lake City, Utah; Jackson, Wyoming; Bozeman, Montana; Bismarck, North Dakota; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Fargo, North Dakota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Bellevue, Nebraska; Wichita, Kansas; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Jackson, Mississippi.

Within this there are four main focuses of the ride:

Tuesday, July 23:
Major send-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco
July 31 — August 4:
North Dakota, main day Saturday, August 3 in Fargo
August 8 — 11:
Wichita, Kansas, main day Saturday, August 10
August 14 — 17:
Jackson, Miss., main day Saturday, August 17



  1. BE PART OF AND SPREAD THE WORD OF THE FOUR FOCUSES LISTED ABOVE. More will be said below about each of these stops, but for now I will say that it is critical that people in these areas become involved in the plans of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride. If you are in one of these areas or if you know people in these areas, go to the website and fill out the form at Get involved in organizing and building for the major rallies, the smaller outings, and the logistical support (such as meals, housing, and legal support) needed at each of these stops.

    If you are not from these places, organize caravans to meet up with this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride when they are in those main places. Let StopPatriarchy know your plans:

    Help build for the Kick-Off Rallies by contacting:
    In NYC:
    In Bay Area:

  2. DONATE!
    At least $22,000 is needed by Sunday, July 21 to get the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride on the road. Once it is underway, many thousands more will be needed to keep it on the road.

    Visit the IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign currently underway to raise this money at:
    (Or go to and click on the fundraising thermometer.)

    Watch the video which features some of the young volunteers who will be on this Freedom Ride. Check out the great perks you will get as thank yous for your donation. And then give very generously!

    After you do, spread the word through FB, Twitter, and other social media. But also: PICK UP THE PHONE and actually call a few people you know and ask them to give as well. Right now many can see the urgent need for a serious fight against the anti-abortion steamroller. These people must be reached and involved in this critical effort.

    NODAL POINT: This Sunday, July 7 is a day for national phone-banking to raise at least $3,000. Contact your local StopPatriarchy chapter to hook up with them to make phone calls, or do this on your own. Send folks to the IndieGoGo/projects/abortion-rights-freedom-ride page to learn more and to donate.
  3. SIGN and spread the Abortion On Demand and Without Apology! Statement.
                You can find this here:

    Get this statement to others you know, especially prominent individuals. This statement must be signed by thousands of people declaring their determination to fight this war on women and their support of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

    You can follow and spread Stop Patriarchy and Sunsara Taylor on Twitter:
    @StopPatriarchy        @SunsaraTaylor

    “Like” and spread the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride on Facebook:

    Spread word of this using the hashtag:


Finally, a bit more information on all the main stops along the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride:

Tuesday, July 23—Kick-off rallies in New York City and San Francisco

In New York City, gather at the north end of Union Square at 4:30 pm
In San Francisco, gather at Potrero Del Sol Park, 4:30 pm — 6:00 pm


These rallies aim to draw together thousands of people to show their visible support for Abortion on Demand and Without Apology. With a spirit of joy and defiance, they will rally support for and send off the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders—making clear that those getting in the vans have the backing of many, many more throughout society. Bringing together abortion doctors, women to speak openly about their abortions, bands and performances and statements from prominent individuals and fighters for liberation, these rallies will call forth those who refuse to sit silently as women’s rights are stripped away.

People must not be complacent because they live in major cities where it seems that abortion rights are secured. It is immoral to abandon women in the rest of the country, and it is delusional to think that what is hitting women hard in places like Texas, Ohio, North Dakota, Arkansas, Arizona, Mississippi and beyond won’t make its way to the coasts and major cities if it is not stopped and reversed! Now is the time to wake people up, pull them into the streets, and use this to shine a national spotlight on this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, its courageous Freedom Riders, and the places across the country they will be traveling to.

Great need:

All out in NYC and SF and surrounding areas for a powerful rally and send off for the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride!

July 31 - August 4—North Dakota
This time will be split between Bismarck (capital) and Fargo (where the last clinic in the state is)

Main date:

August 3 in Fargo


On August 1 in North Dakota several new laws are scheduled to go into effect: one will criminalize abortion after six weeks of pregnancy (before most women know they are pregnant) and one which would require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. North Dakota has only one clinic left in the state (in Fargo) and all the doctors there fly in from out of state. Two of the nearby hospitals are either Catholic and refuse to grant admitting privileges or require that doctors admit at least five patients a year in order to maintain admitting privileges which none of the doctors will do—precisely because abortion is such a routine and safe procedure! (In the 15 years the Red River Women’s Clinic has been open they have only ever had to admit one patient to a hospital.)

This would mean that the last abortion clinic in North Dakota will be forced to close!

Legal challenges to these laws have been filed and injunctions are expected to be in place by August 1. In other words, there is every expectation that this clinic will stay open. But, the fact that these laws have been passed and the fact that there is only one clinic left in the state makes this an essential stop on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.

Also, when these laws were first passed, some 300 people came out to protest at the state’s capital—an incredible outpouring in a sparsely populated state. These women and men must not be left to fight this alone.

Great need:

People in the Midwest and northern states should caravan and join the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride while it is in North Dakota and join with it when it steps out to protest these fascist laws on August 1 and when it celebrates and honors the providers and others on the front lines in Fargo on August 3.

Aug 8 - 11:      Wichita, Kansas

Main date:

Saturday, August 10—Forced Motherhood Award
On this day, the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and others locally will hold a protest at which they will present the Forced Motherhood Is Female Enslavement Award in the form of a big bloody coat-hanger to Troy Newman, the President of Operation Rescue. While many participated in creating a climate where Dr. George Tiller and other abortion doctors have been assassinated, no one can claim more responsibility for demonizing Dr. Tiller and whipping up hatred against him than Troy Newman. In 2002, he moved the headquarters of Operation Rescue to Wichita specifically to target and isolate Dr. Tiller and he continued to spearhead this campaign of hatred and demonization up to and beyond Dr. Tiller’s murder. Today his organization continues to hound and target abortion providers across the country.


Wichita is where Dr. Tiller performed abortions for decades, despite being the target of frequent protests and threats. In 1986, his clinic was fire-bombed and in 1993 he was shot in both arms. Still, he continued to serve women by providing abortions. His slogan was “Trust Women,” and his clinic walls were filled with letters from women who had visited his clinic from around the country, thanking him for giving them their lives back. He was one of only a few doctors in the country who provided later term abortions. In 2009, he was assassinated as he served as an usher in his church. Over 1,000 people came out to his funeral. He was a tremendous hero whose absence is sorely felt every day by women across the country and his colleagues who relied on his courage, example, and medical expertise.

Julie Burkhart worked alongside Dr. Tiller for eight years. In April 2013, she opened a new abortion clinic in Wichita. For this she has faced death threats, harassment, and legal attempts to shut down her clinic and drive her out of town.

David Leach, of the group Army of God, has written:

“If someone would shoot the new abortionist like Scott shot George Tiller back in the Operation Rescue days, people called him Tiller the killer, hardly anyone would appreciate it but the babies. It will be a blessing to the babies, everyone else will panic. Of all places to open up a killing office, to reopen the one office in the United States more notorious for decades than any other is an act of defiance against God and the last remaining remnants of reverence for human life... It is a reckless act. It is not the act of someone who values their own safety. It is a gauntlet thrown down, by someone who wants a fight. Of course, I don’t know if anyone will pick up the gauntlet. I didn’t know Scott would act, before he did.”

Scott Roeder, currently in prison for assassinating Dr. George Tiller, told David Leach (in response to Leach’s above statement):

“It is a little death-defying for someone to walk back in there. For Julie ‘Darkheart’ to walk back in there and reopen a murder mill where a man was stopped. It’s almost like putting a target on your back, saying, ‘Well, let’s see if you can shoot ME!’ I have to go back to what Pastor Mike Bray said: If 100 abortionists were shot, they [surviving abortionists] would probably go out of business. I think eight have been shot, so we’ve got 92 to go. Maybe she’ll be number nine. I don’t know, but she’s kind of painting a target on her.”

It is in this atmosphere that Troy Newman of Operation Rescue and Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League hunted down and exposed who one of the new doctors is and have begun targeting her in her hometown and home office in Oak Park Chicago.

Great need:

It is essential that those conducting these attacks be exposed and opposed through massive resistance and that those who are on the front lines be given tremendous support and backing. It is difficult to think of any more courageous than those on the front lines who have opened this new clinic and are keeping it open. Their example must be followed, they must be defended, and the clinic and staff must stay open and safe! What happens in Wichita will affect the entire country.

People should caravan from the region (and beyond) to meet up with the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride while it is in Wichita!


Aug 14 - 17:   Jackson, Mississippi

Main day:

Saturday, August 17


There is only one clinic left in the state of Mississippi!

In 2012 a law was passed in Mississippi which required all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. Because most of the doctors fly in from out of state and because of the hostile surroundings, the clinic has not been able to comply with this medically unnecessary requirement. Instead, it has filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the law and a judge has issued a temporary injunction on the enforcement of this law while this legal challenge works its way through the courts.

Anti-abortion protesters come from as far away as Colorado and Nevada and pray outside the bright pink clinic several times a week.

The clinic is owned by the same woman, Diane Derzis, who owned the clinic in Birmingham, Alabama which was bombed in 1998, killing security guard Robert Sanderson and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons. Derzis has courageously fought to continue providing abortion services to women in the Deep South, including to a concentration of poor Black women who have no other place to turn, at great risk to herself and alongside extremely courageous doctors and staff.

There is a dedicated staff and community of escorts and support for the clinic. We received the following message, along with a donation, from a Jackson, Mississippi clinic escort who heard about the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride:

“I am a volunteer clinic escort at Jackson Women’s Health Org., the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. The undue burden that women must endure to travel hours to our only clinic is heartbreaking. Yet they are so grateful to have this ‘last resort’ to turn to when making one of the most crucial decisions in their lives. If it takes fighting to my last breath, THIS CLINIC STAYS OPEN!”

Great need:

Caravans from all over the South to join the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride while it is in Jackson, Mississippi to rally support for the last clinic in the state!




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Check It Out!

Herman's House

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

A beautiful, moving documentary called Herman's House will be broadcast nationwide on PBS on July 8. It was written and directed by Angad Bhalla and is part of the latest (Point of View) film series. It could not be timed more appropriately, right at the start of the hunger strike that has been called by California prisoners in Pelican Bay. It tells the story of Herman Wallace, one of the Angola 3, a man who has been in solitary confinement for over 40 years in Angola Prison in Louisiana! Along with Albert Woodfox and Robert King, he formed a Black Panther Party chapter in prison, and has been paying the price ever since.

This film tells of his fight for freedom and of people he has profoundly affected, including a young white man who at age 15 was sent to Angola and spent eight years in solitary, and a New York artist, Jackie Sumell, who helped him mentally "escape" the 6' x 9' concrete cage in which he's been kept by asking him to imagine his dream house. At first he was unable to even conceive of such a project, but over time, he has imagined a house which includes a swimming pool with an image of a black panther on the bottom, a place he wants to be used as a youth center. What is striking is how in spite of the torturous conditions, Herman Wallace has never lost his humanity.

Revolution Books LA and Stop Mass Incarceration Network So-Cal co-hosted a sneak preview of this film. The audience, a mix of ages, nationalities, and backgrounds, included several women with family members in prison, a young man we met the day before who spent time in juvenile facilities, the architect who has been volunteering with Herman Wallace and Jackie Sumell to develop the blueprints for the house, members of the Revolution Club, and others. People took stacks of fliers and stickers to draw attention and support for the prisoners' hunger strike and their five basic demands, and made plans to take a life-sized replica of a solitary confinement cell to a major festival on the weekend. And many stayed to discuss and plan the upcoming van tour that the BA Everywhere Committee is organizing because what's needed to end this horror of slow genocide and bring about a whole new world is revolution—nothing less.

So spread the word widely, and gather friends and family together on July 8 to watch this powerful film, as we build the fight to bring an end to the outrageous incarceration of Herman Wallace, Albert Woodfox, and the many thousands of other prisoners who are criminalized by this system.





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

NYC Revolution Club:

From Harlem to the world, People stand up to say
“We Are All Trayvon Martin, The Whole System Is Guilty!”

July 5, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Harlem, NY

Harlem, July 2, 2013


“Right now, American society—with the whole world increasingly taking notice—is polarizing. Two sides are lining up—one upholding the right of the Trayvon Martins of this world to live and flourish and, if they are attacked, to have justice... and the other upholding the supposed rights of people like George Zimmerman to kill people like Trayvon with impunity.”
—From “The Stakes of the Trayvon Martin Case—And the Need to SEIZE THE TIME!”

Since the opening of the trial of George Zimmerman 100s of people in Harlem have signed these banners calling for justice for Trayvon Martin and yesterday scores of people gathered in Harlem to rally around this demand and send a message to the world. People who wrote their message on the banner included 9-year-old girls, teenagers who look like Trayvon Martin, grandmothers, and people of different nationalities, with statements like, "I ride 4 Trayvon. We won't live this way." And "We want justice now, No more Emmett Tills killed for being Black!”

People rallied around this message and took an historic group photo with this banner outside the Harlem State Office Building. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network and the Revolution Club spoke. People came out and joined in on the spot and the crowd grew until half the block was lined with folks holding posters chanting and listening to a rally and speak out. There were teachers, students, youth, shorties, older folks, disabled people, working people, artists, tourists from the South, people from the housing projects. Most had never met each other but there was a unified spirit, a camaraderie and a determination to fight that you see on the faces of the people in this picture.

The world needs to see how the side that says we are all Trayvon Martin is coming together and standing up. They need to know that they are not alone, they need to be inspired and organized to resist, and they need to find out about the way out. YOU have a role to play in this right now. This photo needs to go viral. It needs to be spread all over through social media. Tweet this photo with #hoodiesup and #justicefortrayvon. Get it out on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, email. Post it on message boards where people are discussing the trial. Send it out to media outlets to cover this story.

The powers that be have worked to confuse people, criminalizing Trayvon. Reactionaries have vented their hatred and fury and racism at Trayvon’s friend Rachel Jeantel. Many are angry and looking for a way to act, and some feel they are alone in this and wonder if there’s anything they can do. Yesterday in the face of all of that people stood up in Harlem to send a message that we will not wait and see what happens, we will continue this struggle now and we will fight to win this.

In the midst of this people who spoke out talked about the need to end all oppression and the Revolution Club and the movement for revolution made real this determination giving people ways to continue to fight and to be part of getting organized into the movement for revolution, bringing to them the leadership we have in Bob Avakian and the ways for them today to fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution. Bringing out that a society is possible where the Trayvon Martins and Rachel Jeantels, and the millions and billions like them are not insulted and condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, can not only survive, but can flourish and fully contribute all they have to offer to the world. 

Now, YOU ARE NEEDED! Spread this photo everywhere, be there at 125th and Adam Clayton Powell at 5 pm on the day when the trial of George Zimmerman goes to the jury. Find out about the movement for revolution that is working to put an end to this, join in 4th of July weekend activities.

Go to to watch the video about BA Everywhere and contribute to the Indiegogo fundraising campaign: June 20-July 15.

NYC Revolution Club




Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Three Questions about George Zimmerman Saying It Was “God’s Plan” for Him to Murder Trayvon Martin

July 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |



While interviewing George Zimmerman on FOX News in July 2012 about how and why he stalked and murdered Trayvon Martin, Sean Hannity asked Zimmerman if he had any regrets about anything he did that night. "No sir," said George Zimmerman. "I feel it was all god's plan."   

Question 1: What kind of a "god" would plan a world where Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American, walking home around 7:30 pm with a can of ice tea and a bag of candy, is "fair game" for a racist vigilante to stalk and kill?

Question 2:  What kind of person would stalk and kill an unarmed 17-year-old, coldly proclaim that he has NO regrets for anything he did that night—and then chalk it all up to "god’s plan"? These are the words of someone with a “depraved mind... without regard for human life"—which is exactly the definition of second degree murder in Florida, the crime that Zimmerman is charged with and which numerous TV commentators are now saying is doubtful can be proven in this case. 

Question 3: What kind of system would treat an innocent 17-year-old as the suspect, and would let the killer walk away with nothing but a pat on the back for doing the police's job (had it not been for the outpouring of nationwide protest after Trayvon's parents refused to accept this)? If this system is part of "god's plan," then we ask again, what kind of "god" would have such a plan and bring into being a system which continues to produce killers like George Zimmerman?





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

Mid-Air Imperialist Thuggery:
U.S. Stops Bolivian Presidential Plane in Search of Edward Snowden

July 5, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


In a blatant act of imperialist thuggery, the U.S. government apparently orchestrated a high-altitude "stop-and-frisk" of Bolivian President Evo Morales as part of their attempts to get their hands on Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who has exposed how the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is massively spying on phone and Internet communications here in this country and all over the world.

Morales was in Moscow attending a conference of countries that export natural gas, and while there he told Russian television that Bolivia was open to granting political asylum to Snowden. After the U.S. government charged him with three felonies, Snowden left Hong Kong where he had made the NSA revelations and is reportedly now in a transit area at a Moscow airport. By just mentioning the possibility of asylum for Snowden, Morales became a target of the U.S.

On July 2, the diplomatic plane carrying Evo Morales took off from Moscow to head back to Bolivia. The plane was supposed to make refueling stops in Portugal and Guyana. But while in mid-flight, France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy all refused to allow the plane to enter their airspace. The Bolivian government later said these countries refused the plane transit because they suspected that Edward Snowden was on board. With no way to continue the flight, Morales' plane was left circling over Europe looking for a safe place to land as the fuel ran lower. The plane was finally allowed to touch down in Vienna, Austria, and did not take off again until 14 hours later. Officials attempted to search the plane to look for Snowden (Morales said they were not allowed to do so). The Bolivian government said Snowden was never on the plane.

It is virtually unprecedented for the leader of a sovereign nation to be denied permission to fly over countries with which it is not at war. And it is an even more shocking violation of international norms and protocols to demand that a presidential plane be searched.

All five countries involved are close allies of the U.S. There is no way something like this happened without the U.S. behind it, and in fact U.S. officials are barely denying it at this point.

A few things stand out about this:

1. Think about if some other country had done this to a diplomatic plane carrying a U.S. president—and all the outcries about "terrorism" that would be coming out from the White House, Congress, and the bourgeois media.

2. The U.S. imperialists are deeply stung by Snowden's leaks, which exposed that the U.S. is spying on virtually everyone in this country as well as governments, institutions, and people around the world. And they are very worried about what further revelations Snowden may have in store. Obama tried to act all cool about it at a recent press conference, saying, "I'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker." But the U.S. is obviously ready to do a lot to get Snowden, even risking a major international incident on the hunch that they might get their hands on him.

3. The U.S. claims that no one has to worry that it is collecting the private information of hundreds of millions of people because this is a country of the "rule of law" and this information will only be used under close supervision in the pursuit of dangerous terrorists. But the reality is that when the U.S. imperialists feel their interests are at stake, they will act in completely and shockingly lawless ways, the better to try to scare the shit out of anyone who considers resisting their crimes in any way.

4. In spite of their very real power, including their ability to basically dictate to their allies and to threaten and even "detain" leaders of any country, they do NOT have everything under control. The action against the Bolivian president's plane revealed the U.S. rulers as thuggish gangsters, and this outraged millions around the world, while Snowden remains out of their grasp, at least for now. And the very next day, there was a stunning new revelation about how the U.S. Postal Service has been photographing every single envelope mailed in the U.S. in the last eight years, at the request of the NSA.

5. All this points to the tremendous courage and heroism of people like Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and others who put their lives on the line to let the world know the crimes the U.S. is carrying out behind closed doors.

6. The U.S. efforts to spy on, control, and intimidate the masses of people here and around the world must be met with widespread and determined opposition. A number of Latin American governments justifiably condemned what one Bolivian official called an "imperialist hijack" by the U.S. What is much needed is greater manifestations of society-wide protest against the massive surveillance by the U.S. government and the persecution of those who dare to expose these and other crimes by the U.S. rulers.





Revolution #309 July 7, 2013

On the Coup in Egypt: Strengthening Imperialism, Not the People

July 7, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Events are unfolding quickly in Egypt. On July 3, the Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in a coup, placed him under house arrest, suspended the Constitution, installed a "caretaker" government, and vowed to crush any opposition. Since then, the military junta has rounded up leaders of the organizations Morsi is part of, the reactionary Muslim Brotherhood and the Freedom and Justice Party, which have condemned the coup and mounted protests against it.

Here are three points of orientation on these developments:

1. The coup that has taken place—by an army that for decades was built, trained, and funded by the U.S. government—is reactionary and in no way, shape, or form holds out anything good for the people. Between 1979 and 2001, the U.S. gave Egypt $35 billion in military aid, second globally after Israel. Many top Egyptian military officers were educated in the U.S. In return the Egyptian military was a key protector of U.S. strategic interests in the region: giving the U.S. priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace; backing Israel's savage assaults on the Palestinians; joining the U.S. in attacking Iraq in 1991; and collaborating with the U.S. "war on terror," including interrogating and torturing prisoners sent to Egypt by the U.S. When the coup took place, the U.S. was funding Egypt's military to the tune of some $1.6 billion a year.

The fact that a section of the people seems to have been misled into supporting this coup means nothing about the actual character of it. The intent of this coup is to more securely nail Egypt into the horrific system of capitalism-imperialism and, in particular, into the more direct domination of the U.S.-headed bloc of that system. The facts that most of the governments in the US-headed bloc have refused to even call the coup a "coup" and that U.S. lackey Mohamed ElBaradei has told of seeking American support speak volumes. Again, the fact that masses of people have shed blood in the course of this and even in some cases in support of it does not change the essence of the matter: the class forces and political program being advanced through the coup—and it's a tragedy that the masses are again being misled, not something to celebrate.

2. The Morsi government was no better. It too was seeking to "secure" and integrate Egypt into a subordinate position in the world imperialist system, under slightly different terms. Bob Avakian has analyzed this phenomenon in the world today as follows:

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.

BAsics 1:28

This course of events in Egypt will reinforce this reactionary dynamic.

3. Another way—communist revolution, as re-envisioned in Bob Avakian's new synthesis—is possible. This is a road of breaking free of imperialist domination as part of a revolution to get the whole planet beyond these horrors. But those who want that other way need to fight for it and, right now, fight to get it out into the world. In Egypt itself, the situation as described at the end of BA's statement on the original uprising against the Mubarak regime still holds true:

It has frequently happened in history, as has been the case in Egypt (as well as Tunisia), that the domination of imperialism and the rule of local exploiters has taken a concentrated form in the regime of a "strong man" butcher. This was the case, for example, in Iran, with the torture-chamber rule of the Shah, in the Philippines with the tyranny of Marcos, and in Indonesia with the long monstrous reign of Suharto—all brutal dictatorships put in power and long kept in power by U.S. imperialism. In Iran in the late 1970s, in the Philippines in the 1980s, in Indonesia more recently, massive uprisings of the people forced the U.S. imperialists to throw aside these hated tyrants and to allow some changes. But in every case, the ultimate result was not one which led to real "freedom" for the people—instead they have continued to be subjected to cruel oppression at the hands of those who replaced the old, hated rulers, while these countries have remained within the overall framework of global imperialist domination and exploitation. But historical experience has also shown that the continuation of oppressive rule, in one form or another, is NOT the only possible outcome.

In Russia, in February 1917, another brutal despot, the Czar (absolute monarch), was overthrown by the uprising of the people. Here again, the U.S., British, and other imperialists, and the Russian capitalists, tried to continue the oppression of the Russian people in a new form, using the mechanisms of "democratic rule" and elections which, while allowing for some broader participation of different parties, would still be totally controlled by the exploiters of the people and would ensure their continuing rule, and the continued suffering of the masses of people. In this case, however, the masses of people were enabled to see through these maneuvers and manipulations, to carry forward their revolutionary rising, through many different twists and turns and, in October 1917, to sweep aside and dismantle the institutions and mechanisms of bourgeois dictatorship and to establish a new political and economic system, socialism, which for several decades continued to advance in the direction of abolishing relations of exploitation and oppression, as part of the struggle throughout the world toward the final goal of communism. The crucial difference was that, in the uprisings in Russia, there was a core of leadership, communist leadership, that had a clear, scientifically grounded, understanding of the nature of not just this or that ruthless despot but of the whole oppressive system—and of the need to continue the revolutionary struggle not just to force a particular ruler from office but to abolish that whole system and replace it with one that would really embody and give life to the freedom and the most fundamental interests of the people, in striving to abolish all oppression and exploitation.

Even though the revolution in Russia was ultimately reversed, with capitalism restored there in the 1950s, and today Russia no longer seeks to disguise the fact that it is a capitalist-imperialist power, the lessons of the Russian Revolution of 1917 hold valuable, indeed decisive lessons for today. And the most decisive lesson is this: When people in their masses, in their millions, finally break free of the constraints that have kept them from rising up against their oppressors and tormentors, then whether or not their heroic struggle and sacrifice will really lead to a fundamental change, moving toward the abolition of all exploitation and oppression, depends on whether or not there is a leadership, communist leadership, that has the necessary scientific understanding and method, and on that basis can develop the necessary strategic approach and the influence and organized ties among growing numbers of the people, in order to lead the uprising of the people, through all the twists and turns, to the goal of a real, revolutionary transformation of society, in accordance with the fundamental interests of the people. And, in turn, when people massively break with the "normal routine" and the tightly woven chains of oppressive relations in which they are usually entrapped and by which they are heavily weighed down—when they break through and rise up in their millions—that is a crucial time for communist organization to further develop its ties with those masses, strengthening its ranks and its ability to lead. Or, if such communist organization does not yet exist, or exists only in isolated fragments, this is a crucial time for communist organization to be forged and developed, to take up the challenge of studying and applying communist theory, in a living way, in the midst of this tumultuous situation, and to strive to continually develop ties with, to influence and to ultimately lead growing numbers of the masses in the direction of the revolution that represents their fundamental and highest interests, the communist revolution.

While BA's statement was in response to what was in fact a mainly positive and progressive uprising in 2011, and while the current turmoil is not of the same basic character, the main point above—the need to forge communist organization in the midst of what is still a tumultuous situation—holds as true as ever.