Revolution #315 Extra, September 2, 2013 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

Only Worse Suffering and Horrors Can Result from a U.S. Attack on Syria

August 27, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


As we go to press, there is growing danger of a direct U.S. military attack on Syria—which is being framed as a “surgical strike”—using planes and/or Cruise missiles. U.S. Secretary of “Defense” Hagel announced that “the U.S. military is 'ready to go'” if ordered to attack Syria.

These attacks must be opposed with determined political protest and clear-eyed understanding of how they would make the situation worse.

Atrocities and War Crimes


During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the U.S. dropped white phosphorus on the city of Fallujah. An American soldier who fought at Fallujah described the results: "Phosphorus burns bodies, melting the flesh right down to the bone. I saw the burned bodies of women and children." The U.S. also used napalm in Iraq—designed to stick to human skin and other surfaces and set fires that cannot be extinguished with water. Use of napalm and phosphorus is a war crime. Above, U.S. soldiers in Fallujah, 2004. Photo: AP

The threats come in the wake of reports of hundreds of civilian deaths, apparently from chemical weapons, in a rebel-held suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus on Wednesday, August 21. Whether the deaths were the result of chemical weapons and, if so, whether the attack was launched by the Syrian government or by rebel forces, has not been independently verified. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry initially demanded that the Syrian government allow UN investigators into the area, but then when the Syrian regime responded that it would give inspectors unlimited access, Reuters reported that: “[A] U.S. official said such an offer was ‘too late to be credible’ and Washington was all but certain that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had gassed its own people.”

But the driving force behind escalated U.S. threats against Syria has little to do with this incident. And it has absolutely nothing to do with humanitarian concerns. It is essential people understand what is behind U.S. moves and not be duped into passive complicity with a U.S. attack on Syria that would make the situation much worse for the people of Syria, and the world.

Click to read or download PDF of this pamphlet.

The rulers of the U.S. view atrocities and war crimes—real, or invented—through a warped and twisted lens of “how does this work for us.” Shelling hospitals, like Israel did in the 2008-9 massacre in Gaza is ignored. Staged, fake human rights outrages, like false testimony in the U.S. Congress that Iraqi troops disconnected incubators killing babies in Kuwait are concocted and then invoked to justify all kinds of U.S. crimes. The incubator hoax was invoked to justify the first U.S. invasion of Iraq, “Operation Desert Storm,” that killed 100,000 Iraqis and created great suffering for millions, including babies who died as a result of cutbacks in medical care resulting from U.S. sanctions that followed that war.

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq—a war justified by U.S. lies about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction." The U.S. continued a brutal occupation of the country for years. Above: An ambulance hit by a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2008. Photo: AP

So, nobody should take assertions by U.S. officials at face value. Further, the U.S. appears to be moving to attack even in advance of an ongoing UN investigation.

But this is not to say that the Syrian government could not actually have launched a chemical attack. Two years ago, in the context of uprisings throughout the Arab world, a range of forces in Syria took to the streets in protest against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The regime responded to the protests and uprisings with a mix of political overtures to opposition forces and violent repression.

The situation was seized on by the U.S. imperialists and their allies to move to replace Assad with a regime aligned and compliant with their interests in the region, and in particular in opposition to Iranian influence. The result has been a civil war that has devastated the country, with both sides—the Assad regime, and the motley collection of Jihadist and pro-Western forces on the other—offering nothing but oppression to the people of Syria.

According to human rights agencies, both sides in the conflict—including the forces the U.S. is seeking to cohere and shape into a new regime—have carried out kidnapping, torture, and summary assassinations of their opponents and civilians. Tens of thousands in Syria have died, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced, with many living in desperate conditions in refugee camps or worse.

U.S. sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s were responsible for the deaths of half a million children. Madeleine Albright, a few months before becoming U.S. Secretary of State, said, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price—we think the price is worth it." Above: Eight-month-old Farag Qusam, suffering from severe malnutrition, is tended by his mother at a hospital in Baghdad in 1996. Photo: AP

So it is quite possible the Assad regime did launch a toxic gas attack to press forward with military advances they have been making against the opposition. If indeed it turns out that the Assad regime did this, and if the scale of horror is close to what is being reported—and that is possible—this is indeed a horrific crime.

But even if that is the case, U.S. military attacks on Syria would themselves be compounding a crime with another crime. They would not be intended to end the terrible suffering in Syria, nor would they have that impact.

What Is Driving the U.S.?

The U.S. in Syria (and everywhere else) does not proceed from human rights. The rulers of the U.S. have never been, and are not now, motivated by a desire to act against atrocity, or to “prevent genocide.” At this moment they are giving at least passive approval to the torture and slaughter of opponents of the pro-U.S. regimes in Egypt and Bahrain.

As part of what it has called a global "war on terror," the U.S. operated a notorious torture chamber at Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad, Iraq. U.S. Military Police posed in and circulated photos of themselves torturing and humiliating naked Iraqi captives with suffocating hoods over their heads. In one infamous photo, a robed and hooded Iraqi is shown balanced on a small box, with wires attached to his fingers. He was forced to stand for hours, and was told that if he fell over from exhaustion, the wires would electrocute him. Above: Using dogs to terrorize prisoners. Photo: AP

Nor is the U.S. moving into what all understand to be a risk-fraught situation (for them) because “our presidents like nothing more than to flip a few cruise missiles at other countries, combined with a few bombing sorties for good measure, because it’s a hell of a lot easier than actual statecraft.” Or because “if we pull the trigger on Syria, someone will get paid handsomely.” (See “War on Syria: Twenty Pounds of Stupid in a Ten-Pound Bag” by William Rivers Pitt, Truthout August 27, 2013.) As if the never-ending wars, oppression, suffering, and death the U.S.  has brought to every corner of the planet—on the basis of which it has “risen” to be the world’s sole superpower—were caused by politicians who were too lazy to engage in “statecraft,” or politicians corrupted by the arms industry. Such “analysis” leaves people utterly in the dark as to what is behind the U.S. moves to attack Syria, and unable to see or act in the interests of the people of the world.

The Middle East is a pivotal region for the whole world—economically and geopolitically—and the U.S. has dominated it since WW2. Everything it has done and continues to do is based on maintaining and deepening that domination. Right now the region is in tremendous upheaval—the old arrangements that “held things together” (for the imperialists and local butchers) have come under increasing strain and in some cases begun to disintegrate, and there is a massive scramble by all kinds of forces. These include rivals like the Russians, who back Assad; “friendly” imperialists like the French, who back the rebels; all kinds of local butchers; etc. And, painfully, there is no coherent progressive force acting within this mix.

This is a bloodletting which at this point is driven by a reactionary scramble for influence. In this, it seems increasingly apparent that the U.S. calculation is that they MUST project force in this situation lest they lose credibility. At the same time, there are indications that the U.S., or some within the ruling class, is arguing that, as one ruling class analyst, Edward N. Luttwak put it, “In Syria, America loses if either side wins.” Luttwak wrote:

“Indeed, it would be disastrous if President Bashar al-Assad’s regime were to emerge victorious after fully suppressing the rebellion and restoring its control over the entire country. Iranian money, weapons and operatives and Hezbollah troops have become key factors in the fighting, and Mr. Assad’s triumph would dramatically affirm the power and prestige of Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanon-based proxy—posing a direct threat both to the Sunni Arab states and to Israel.

“But a rebel victory would also be extremely dangerous for the United States and for many of its allies in Europe and the Middle East. That’s because extremist groups, some identified with Al Qaeda, have become the most effective fighting force in Syria. If those rebel groups manage to win, they would almost certainly try to form a government hostile to the United States. Moreover, Israel could not expect tranquility on its northern border if the jihadis were to triumph in Syria.” (New York Times August 23, 2013).

In this situation, the U.S. may be pulling a page from the bloody playbook it used in the Iran-Iraq War. In that war, the U.S. aimed for both sides to devastate each other, and the result was a million deaths.

Only Worse Suffering and Horrors Can Result from a U.S. Attack on Syria

Many people will see this as a situation in which “something must be done.” Even people who have some sense that the U.S. is driven by anything but humanitarian motives will argue that at least U.S. intervention will stop the horror right now.

But reality doesn’t work that way. It matters—in fact it is decisive—to understand the nature of a U.S. attack on Syria, and what would be driving it. It would be an attack driven by the needs of a global capitalist-imperialist superpower intent on maintaining its domination of the planet. How is any move on that basis going to contribute anything positive to a humanitarian nightmare in Syria?

A U.S. attack on Syria will push things in a worse direction. It will bring death and suffering in its own right. And it will further polarize the terms of things whereby the reactionary Assad regime can pose as standing up to imperialism, where Iran and the forces it influences may well respond, and where a whole range of reactionary forces, including Israel, might step up their involvement in the war in Syria, or launch other attacks elsewhere in the region. Any U.S. attack on Syria is bound to intensify the whole terrible spiral in the country and the region.

And the situation will be all the worse to the extent people buy into the logic of who cares what’s behind it, any intervention can’t be a bad thing right now. Here a painful but critical lesson can be drawn from recent events in Egypt: many people supported the army’s move against the Muslim Brotherhood due to the Brotherhood’s repression, without analyzing WHY the army was moving. Then, when the consequences of that support became clear, including the political freedom that this gave the army to carry out slaughters and try to nail down an even tighter version of Mubarak-ism, oppositional forces and the people in general found themselves either unable to act effectively or so far gone ideologically that they were now in the army’s pocket ideologically as well as politically.

The only way for something positive to emerge in Syria is for people to oppose both sides in this conflict—actively. And for people in the U.S., which has brought such great misery to the planet, the challenge is to oppose “our own” empire.

The U.S. has brought nothing but exploitation, environmental ruin, impoverishment, and oppression to the whole Middle East. Any military assault by the US on Syria, no matter the pretext, must be OPPOSED with determined political protest in the US. And to the extent that happens, it can contribute to creating a pathway breaking out of the whole terrible set of “choices” confronting the people of Syria and beyond and to bringing forward a whole other way—a real revolutionary alternative.





Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

Obama's Speech on Syria:
Lies to Justify an Immoral War

by Larry Everest | August 31, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Saturday, August 31, President Barack Obama—in the words of the New York Times—"stunned the world" by giving a speech in which he promised to give the U.S. Congress time to weigh in before any attack on Syria would be launched. Congress returns to session on Monday, September 9.

U.S. moves to attack Syria are not driven by whether the reactionary regime in Syria used nerve gas against its own people. As Revolution wrote, "The rulers of the U.S. view atrocities and war crimes—real, or invented—through warped and twisted lens of 'how does this work for us.'" And Obama's speech and plan is not a move to accede to the "will of the people." The nature of a U.S. attack on Syria is defined by the needs of the U.S. empire. (For an important analysis of what is driving the U.S. to attack Syria, see "Only Worse Suffering and Horrors Can Result from a U.S. Attack on Syria.")

Click to read or download PDF of this pamphlet.

Obama's speech was a move to impose a very warped, distorted, and false framework on discussion and debate over a U.S. attack on Syria. It situated a U.S. attack within a big lie about the benevolent role the U.S. has played and is playing in the world today. A U.S. attack on Syria would be another war crime in the long annals of U.S. war crimes. And, such an attack has the potential to spin out of control in unpredictable ways. Obama's speech was aimed at manufacturing public opinion within the U.S., but also at hammering out unity within the U.S. ruling class for an assault on Syria. It was given in the context of a whole range of conflicts and contradictions that pose challenges to the rulers of the U.S. It was aimed at forging some kind of coalition of other oppressive world powers. All in preparation for an attack on Syria that would greatly increase the suffering of people there and that could set off an unpredictable chain of events that could explode into a major conflict.

An Im-Moral Framework

Obama's speech proclaimed a version of modern world history that turned reality upside down. He said, "But we are the United States of America, and we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus. Out of the ashes of world war, we built an international order and enforced the rules that gave it meaning. And we did so because we believe that the rights of individuals to live in peace and dignity depends on the responsibilities of nations. We aren't perfect, but this nation more than any other has been willing to meet those responsibilities."

Thousands joined street protests on August 29 and 31 against a U.S. strike against Syria. People from countries including Syria, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Yemen, and Pakistan attended New York City protests. Many with hand-lettered signs told stories, quietly, of families living through U.S. and Israeli occupations, fearing the sectarian violence created and worsened by the occupiers. A 16-year-old woman from Iraq, accompanied by her mother who speaks no English, said that her whole life in Iraq had been lived fearing George W. Bush; now she is seeing that no matter who the U.S. president is, the people have reason to fear U.S. war. She said, "We cannot speak here. But you are speaking for all of us who have survived, by raising your voice to stop U.S. bombs." Photo: Special to Revolution

This is a shameless, lie-filled rewriting of the history of U.S. crimes around the world, including in the Middle East over the past 60-plus years—why they've taken these actions, what their nature and agenda really is, and about who are by far the greatest war criminals and mass murderers—including of children!—on the face of the earth, bar none.

Take one part of one dimension of the horrors inflicted by the U.S. on the world, the toll from some of the wars it instigated, fueled, or directly waged on Iraq and Iran alone—all for reasons of empire:

And this is just in the Middle East! Look up the history of any country in Asia, Africa, or Latin America—or for that matter, the mass murder of civilians the U.S. perpetrated in Germany and Japan in World War 2. You'll find more made-in-U.S. massacres of civilians, pro-U.S. torture regimes, brutal exploitation, oppression, and environmental devastation.

Who Has Targeted Innocent Civilians Over and Over?

Obama said, "What's the purpose of the international system that we've built if a prohibition on the use of chemical weapons that has been agreed to by the governments of 98 percent of the world's people and approved overwhelmingly by the Congress of the United States is not enforced?"

The purpose of that international system is to enforce life-crushing, environment-destroying imperialist exploitation around the globe, backed by and perpetuated by extreme violence—including the use of chemical or nuclear weapons where that is deemed necessary. This is why NOTHING is said about the fact that the U.S.'s number one ally and client Israel never signed the prohibition on chemical weapons and also possesses them.

This is why the U.S. use of nuclear weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki—and constant threats to use nuclear weapons by both Israel and the U.S., including most recently against Iran—is treated as a perfectly normal part of U.S. "diplomacy." This is why the U.S. has backed one tyrant after another across the Mideast region, tyrants who with U.S. backing have viciously suppressed their own populations (as the Egyptian military is now doing before our eyes) in order to maintain U.S. regional dominance.

Obama asked, "What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?"

The U.S. used napalm in Vietnam—a chemical weapon that stuck to humans, including children, and set them on fire.

U.S. allies supplied Saddam Hussein's regime with the chemicals and technology needed to make chemical weapons, which were then used on the battlefield against Iran—directed in part by U.S.-supplied intelligence—in order to prevent an Iranian victory in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. The U.S. also turned a blind eye to Hussein's gassing of the Kurds, particularly at Hallabja in 1988—in which indisputable proof exists that at least 5,000 Kurds were massacred—because Hussein was still considered a potential U.S. ally and nothing should be done to disrupt that relationship.

And as for caring about children: between 1990 and 1996, the U.S. was responsible for the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children by denying them clean water and medicines—as well as adequate food—through sanctions. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at the time said, " we think the price [of U.S. sanctions against Iraq that resulted in the deaths of 500,000 children] is worth it." Talk about an "unspeakable outrage" that makes Syrian president Assad's very real crimes pale in comparison.

International Rules Are What the U.S. Says They Are... And Don’t Apply to the U.S.

Obama said, "If we won't enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules?"

Yet in the very same speech, Obama is giving himself the right to "flout fundamental international rules"—namely the laws of war under which a military attack is only legal if it's a question of immediate self-defense or if action is authorized by the UN Security Council. Obama tells us he has the right to ignore—i.e., "flout" those rules: "I'm confident in the case our government has made without waiting for UN inspectors. I'm comfortable going forward without the approval of a United Nations Security Council that, so far, has been completely paralyzed and unwilling to hold Assad accountable."

So what message is sent if a global imperialist superpower gives itself the right to attack anyone it chooses, any time, even if such an attack is in violation of its own stated laws and principles?

The international treaties, organizations, and what is referred to as the "international community" that exist in the world today serve U.S. imperialism and as a forum to mediate conflicts between U.S. imperialism and other global powers. The rulers of the U.S. invoke them to serve their needs. But when even those rules get in their way, then the rulers of the U.S. dismiss them without blinking an eye.

The Values That Define U.S. Imperialism

Obama said, "We cannot raise our children in a world where we will not follow through on the things we say, the accords we sign, the values that define us."

This, from the commander-in-chief of an empire that sits atop a world where the lives of children worldwide are in peril from hunger, poverty, disease, and war. Any attack on Syria by the U.S. is about maintaining that horrible world, and maintaining the U.S.’s power to continue to dominate and preserve such an endless nightmare.

Those ARE the values that define the U.S., and that IS what the U.S. is inflicting on the 1.9 billion children around the world, even threatening the future of life on earth with its wanton destruction of the environment.

Time for Protest... And a Whole Other Way

Obama claimed he had already decided to attack Syria, and that he had the authority to do so, "But having made my decision as commander-in-chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I'm also mindful that I'm the president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy. I've long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that's why I've made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress."

But Obama’s very double-talk, his own words expose the lie of “by the people, for the people.” He says straight out it would be better for his plans if he went through the charade of democracy to enlist the people: "Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective." In other words, this delay is about strengthening the U.S. military's hand against Syria and other global rivals.

What is going on here IS an exercise in democracy—but it is an exercise in capitalist-imperialist democracy, which is in essence the dictatorship of the imperialist ruling class. The Obama team felt it had the freedom, but also the NECESSITY, given the widespread public cynicism about yet another case of "slam dunk" evidence, yet another U.S. military adventure, and unresolved concerns in the ruling class over where an attack on Syria would lead, to give this speech and launch this process he calls for, along with a need to make a case to an international audience and push allies into line and deal with a complex international alignment of forces.

But this is not the government soliciting the people's views and listening to them. It's the imperialist rulers setting the terms and framework of discussion, insisting people confine their thinking to THAT—in order to build public support and acquiescence in the crimes they have already decided to carry out.

NONE OF THAT IS ANY GOOD. This is NOT about allowing public input into the strategic moves of U.S. imperialism—it is about ENLISTING the public in terms set by the ruling class. It is about SELLING not just this attack, but a whole upside-down, warped framework.

The LAST thing people should do right now is breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, this is a moment to SEIZE to organize protests and teach-ins, to WIDELY circulate revcom's coverage of all this and the site in general, including on campuses, and to bring forward a visible force within the U.S. that rejects the whole framework and agenda in Obama's speech.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

On Obama's August 28 Speech

The Battle over the Truth About the African-American Experience and Present-Day Reality

September 2, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian (2003): "The police, Black youth and what kind of a system is this?"

A profound struggle over the truth has been raging in America. For the past few months, this struggle has focused on the real position of African-American people in U.S. society. And it has taken shape in the past few weeks around the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The question here is what is the actual TRUTH of the matter—not what is anyone's "narrative," but the actual character of reality. In other words, what has actually happened and is continuing to happen... what dynamics have driven and continue to drive forward the oppression of Black people as a people, and the struggle against that oppression... and what must be done about it.

George Zimmerman's cold-blooded murder of Trayvon Martin, and his subsequent acquittal, forced this question to the forefront of American consciousness. Millions, tens of millions, were asking WHY. Why did George Zimmerman feel empowered to murder Trayvon Martin, and why did the police not even initially charge him, test him for drugs, etc.—but instead treated Trayvon as trash, as less than nothing, not even telling his father until the next day? Why was Trayvon slandered in the media? Why did the jury acquit Zimmerman? Why did people feel this as such a punch in the gut? What did this have to do with how Black people, and other minority people, have to manage and navigate every single day of their lives? And what did it have to do with other controversial issues—like the New York Police Department's apartheid-style stop-and-frisk assaults on Black and Latino males of all ages, or the closing of ghetto schools in Chicago and Philadelphia, or the fact that prisoners in California were driven to undertake a massive hunger strike to protest their conditions? What about the foreclosures unequally visited on people of color, the predatory lending (legal loan-sharking, really), the massive evictions of Black women? Is this even going to be recognized? And if it is, how is it to be understood... and acted on? Where does it come from? What must be done about it?

A profound struggle over the truth has been raging in America. For the past few months, this struggle has focused on the real position of African-American people in U.S. society. ...

George Zimmerman's cold-blooded murder of Trayvon Martin, and his subsequent acquittal, forced this question to the forefront of American consciousness. Millions, tens of millions, were asking WHY. Why did George Zimmerman feel empowered to murder Trayvon Martin, and why did the police not even initially charge him, test him for drugs, etc.—but instead treated Trayvon as trash, as less than nothing, not even telling his father until the next day? Why was Trayvon slandered in the media? Why did the jury acquit Zimmerman? Why did people feel this as such a punch in the gut? What did this have to do with how Black people, and other minority people, have to manage and navigate every single day of their lives?

This struggle has been and is three-sided.

On one side are the unapologetic and unrepentant white supremacists, puffed up and on the offensive. At the beginning of the summer, the Supreme Court issued a number of reactionary, racist decisions. These included a decision overturning the heart of the Voting Rights Act. This law, which was forced from the system in 1965 as a result of the blood and sacrifice of thousands of people, required the federal government to make sure that Black people, especially in the South, would be guaranteed the right to vote. This basic right had been denied people for decades long after the Civil War had supposedly settled this; those who attempted to exercise this right were hounded, fired from work, beaten and often lynched. But now, claimed the Court, this was no longer needed; one justice, Antonin Scalia, went so far as to say this amounted to a special "entitlement" for Black people. No sooner had the Court overturned this part of the Voting Rights Act than a number of states—North and South—passed laws which will have the effect of in fact denying the right to vote to African-Americans, Latinos, and other oppressed nationalities.

We've already spoken about the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. And it was not only the verdict, but the way in which the rulers of this country unleashed the braying pack of white supremacist wolves who howled through the course of, and after, the trial. These weren't just a few people off in the sticks somewhere; we're talking about many of the major "expert commentators" on CNN and, of course, Fox News. In the huge debate that this trial set off about the whole history of this country, Rush Limbaugh said that "If any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it's Caucasians." This is the analysis, if you want to call it that, that is being proffered by the fascist wing of the ruling class. It has no connection to the truth whatsoever, and it is justification for the worst horrors and oppression.

The fact that no prominent Republicans attended the commemoration of the March on Washington—and this includes the "moderate" and "sensible" ones like George Bush I and II, who along with Jeb Bush, John McCain, and House Speaker John Boehner were all invited—also speaks volumes as to how this wing of the ruling class sees Black people.

As Bob Avakian pointed out in "Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution," one of the essential elements that these (mainly Republican) politicians are building up and unleashing is "the sense of white male American entitlement." These forces see that, in the face of major global changes and challenges, and major upheavals in the ways in which people have lived in this country for many decades, the social fabric and belief of people in the "American way of life" is fraying; and this open celebration of white male entitlement is a critical part of their program for knitting American society back together. They are on a mission around this, and they are unapologetic.

The World According to Barack Obama

On one side are the unapologetic and unrepentant white supremacists, puffed up and on the offensive. At the beginning of the summer, the Supreme Court issued a number of reactionary, racist decisions. These included a decision overturning the heart of the Voting Rights Act. ...

As Bob Avakian pointed out in "Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution," one of the essential elements that these (mainly Republican) politicians are building up and unleashing is "the sense of white male American entitlement." These forces see that, in the face of major global changes and challenges, and major upheavals in the ways in which people have lived in this country for many decades, the social fabric and belief of people in the "American way of life" is fraying; and this open celebration of white male entitlement is a critical part of their program for knitting American society back together. They are on a mission around this, and they are unapologetic.

Then there is what is represented by those affiliated with the Democratic Party. In a number of speeches, rallies, commemorations, and cultural works, these forces have set forth a different analysis. In their view, there may remain problems; but the answer to those problems is to be found within the workings of this system.

This was laid out in Barack Obama's August 28 speech celebrating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. While there may be shades of difference between how Obama put things forward and how others holding this view do, none of them fundamentally disagree with the viewpoint Obama put forward on that occasion. So let's dig into Obama's speech.

In Obama's analysis, the "injustice" (the strongest word he used) of Black people's condition in America flowed out of a failure to live up to the "truths" set forth in the Declaration of Independence. Further, he argued, the essential character of the movement that won civil rights for Black people was its nonviolent character—its refusal to "lash out in anger," its reliance on "[prayer] for their tormentors," and "willingly [going to] jail to protest unjust laws." In Obama's analysis, the international influence of this struggle was limited to "the other side of the Iron Curtain" and South Africa. And anyone who dismisses "the magnitude of this progress," or suggests, "as some sometimes do, that little has changed ... dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years."

Obama also has harsh words for a different trend in that struggle for freedom. He stated:

[I]f we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that during the course of 50 years there were times when some of us claiming to push for change lost our way. The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots. Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse-making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways, as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support—as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself.

All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided.

Obama then went on to discuss remaining problems—but principally in the economic sphere. But what about the massive incarceration of Black people (nearly 10 times greater now than it was 50 years ago!) and everything that has meant to millions and millions of African-American, Latino, Native American Indian, and other oppressed-nationality people? What about the outrageous vindication of racial profiling and lynch-style racial murder concentrated in the verdict on Trayvon Martin and the police abuse and brutality concentrated in stop-and-frisk and other forms of racial profiling, and the outright police murder that goes on over and over again? What about the ways in which the whole criminal justice system is saturated with white supremacy? And what about the New Jim Crow that is concentrated in all this—that is, the way in which this is just as systematic as the 100-year reign of segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror in the South?

Obama then went on to discuss remaining problems—but principally in the economic sphere. But what about the massive incarceration of Black people (nearly 10 times greater now than it was 50 years ago!) and everything that has meant to millions and millions of African-American, Latino, Native American Indian, and other oppressed-nationality people? ...The real state of Black America today was not confronted; it was in effect papered over. And the fact that Black people are still an oppressed people, after all these decades and centuries—this was not even papered over: it was outright denied (as we will show).

2011, Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Prisoners marched back from labor in the fields. Photo: AP

In the world laid out in this speech, these horrors barely even merit the most glancing mention. In fact, the only times these are even obliquely referred to is when Obama says that we must ensure "that the scales of justice work equally for all, and the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails." As if everything is basically okay, but we just have to work a little harder to ensure things are working right—the way they're supposed to. When, in fact, these institutions have worked the way they've always worked and the way they have been designed to work. The real state of Black America today was not confronted; it was in effect papered over. And the fact that Black people are still an oppressed people, after all these decades and centuries—this was not even papered over: it was outright denied (as we will show).

But let's go on. Obama mentions the need for "vigilance" but not struggle. He ends his speech in a call for people to have empathy for others, "to join together with others in a spirit of brotherhood," and to continue to work hard to scrape by. Rather than fight against the devastating cutbacks in education in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, now wreaking further havoc on Black and Latino children, Obama cites the teacher who works overtime and pays for the school supplies; rather than fight against mass incarceration, Obama cites the "successful businessman who ... offers a shot to a man, maybe an ex-con who is down on his luck." And so on. In other words: this is a very passive, very individual, and non-collective, form of "vigilance."

The analysis expressed in this speech of Obama's has been pounded out far more broadly than Obama himself. This has run through most of the coverage of the anniversary in the mainstream press. It has found expression in the culture (and we will continue to speak to all of this in depth in the weeks to come).

It is profoundly wrong and it is deeply dangerous.

We Don't Need A New Civil Rights Movement—WE NEED REVOLUTION! Carl Dix speaking on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington.

The Real Truth

In this situation, there are some who are in fact fighting against the lies. There is the statement released by Carl Dix, on the very night of the speech, telling the truth about this speech, and pointing people toward revolution. And there have been other voices as well, insisting on important truths, including Cornel West, who has called out Obama's worldwide marauding and criminality and taken this to every venue he can find.

This trend of truth-telling in the face of the outright lies of the Antonin Scalias and Rush Limbaughs of the world, and narcotic lies being pushed by Obama and the Democrats, must continue. This is not to say that there is total unity among all these forces—there are differences over the source of the problem, and the solution, among other things. But there is a very important point at the same time of insisting on a) the historic and systemic character to the oppression of Black people, and b) the fact that Obama is covering this over, in the service of a very ugly program. In that light, and in the spirit of digging down to the most basic bedrock truths, a few further points must be made on this speech.*

Contrary to Obama, the urban rebellions—which he calls "riots"—that broke out in hundreds of American cities, beginning in the early '60s and then picking up tremendous momentum in the late '60s, were tremendously liberating. Let's be clear: fighting back is not bad; fighting back is good, very good, and fighting back is a very necessary part of emancipation.

1970. The Black Panther Party in New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: AP

First, in continuing to locate—and confine—the struggle of Black people in the framework of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, Obama once again conveniently omits that that Declaration cited as one of its chief grievances its allegation that King George III had incited slave rebellions! Obama conveniently ignores that the fundamental bargain of the Constitution was to enable the continued flourishing and expansion of slavery, which was at that point the foundation and bulwark of the wealth and power of the American state that was coming into being. And it was only when that expansion ran into the interests of the rising capitalists of the North that the Civil War erupted—with the objective of Lincoln and the North not, at first, being the abolition of slavery, but its confinement to the slave states. Only when it became clear that the South would settle for nothing less than slavery's expansion and that the North would need to both strike at the heart of Southern strength (the enslavement of Black people) and mobilize the entire population for total war in order to win... only then did Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation. This is not a "narrative"—this is the actual truth of the matter, the actual essence of the situation, and we invite any who insist otherwise to send us your argument. (And if you agree, and want to add to this point, you should also send your contributions!) But by framing the struggle against the oppression of (oh, sorry, the "injustice" against) the African-American people in the context of "realizing the American dream," Obama leads people back into the same killing confines of the past 240 years.

Second, Obama would have us believe that the gains that were won in the struggle for the rights of Black people were totally due to nonviolent action. In fact, there was a whole section of the movement, including in the South, which fully understood the need for self-defense. This included Robert Williams, in Monroe, N.C., who organized armed defense of the Black community against the KKK in the late '50s; the Deacons for Defense and Justice in Louisiana; as well as many other individual organizers who gave as good as they got against the cowardly night-riding terrorists of the Klan throughout the South. It is true that up through early 1965, the mainstream of the movement agreed to utilize nonviolent tactics in demonstrations and other actions, but by the latter part of that year increasing numbers had broken with that approach.

Moreover, contrary to Obama, the urban rebellions—which he calls "riots"—that broke out in hundreds of American cities, beginning in the early '60s and then picking up tremendous momentum in the late '60s, were tremendously liberating. Let's be clear: fighting back is not bad; fighting back is good, very good, and fighting back is a very necessary part of emancipation. The fact that many forces—including Malcolm X, the Student Nonviolent  Coordinating Committee (which essentially broke with nonviolence in the mid-'60s after paying a tremendous cost with their own lives), and in particular the Black Panther Party—not only upheld fighting back but (even more essentially) began to see the American system itself NOT as the potential savior of Black people but as the chief obstacle to liberation and, in the case of the Panthers, began to actively promote the goal of revolution—this was GOOD. The fact that these forces looked to and promoted revolutions all over the world—revolutions aimed against U.S., European, and Japanese imperialism—this was GOOD.

This leads to a telling omission on Obama's part. He notes that this movement influenced the masses of Black people in South Africa, and claims that it played a role in the struggle against oppressive phony communist regimes of Eastern Europe... but he fails to note how the rest of the world, most of which saw U.S. imperialism as their enemy, welcomed and drew inspiration from the powerful uprisings that rocked America—from Latin America and Africa to the Middle East, from Vietnam to Europe, reaching into China itself, where the leader of the Chinese revolution and the (at that time) socialist state of China embraced this struggle and issued powerful statements in support! (See "Statement by Comrade Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Support of the Afro-American Struggle Against Violent Repression" [April 16, 1968].)

Obama mentions the basic economic inequality that continues to dog Black people 50 years after the March for Jobs and Justice—he even brings in some important facts on this at one point—but he obscures the essence of this, and he locates the solution to this inequality exactly where it should not be: within the framework of capitalism itself.

In fact, the whole way in which the Black liberation struggle arose was very deeply connected to what was going on all over the world. On the one hand, the glaring outrages being committed against Black people in the South petitioning for the most basic of rights gave the lie to the American attempt to posture all over the world as the promoter of freedom. This need for America not to "look bad in front of the rest of the world" created openings that people fighting against the oppression of Black people were able to seize. On the other hand, the wave of national liberation struggles all over the world—peoples rising up in Vietnam, Algeria, Cuba, and elsewhere against the system of colonialism and neo-colonialism—inspired people all over the world AND in this country. Very important in that was the example of China—where the Communist Party of China, led by Mao Tsetung, had led the Chinese people to not only win liberation but begin constructing socialism. All this was part of the emergence of a revolutionary trend in this struggle, beginning in the early '60s and reaching its peak with the Black Panther Party in the latter half of that decade.

In refuting this part of Obama's speech, Carl Dix trenchantly points out that:

People didn't lose their way in the '60s: In fact, they were beginning to find their way, coming to see that the horrors they were up against were built into the very fabric of this set-up and couldn't be reformed away. But they were met with vicious repression—leaders assassinated, activists dragged into court on trumped-up charges, and railroaded off to prison and more. In the face of all that, the movement of that period wasn't able to develop the understanding needed to do what was needed: make revolution and end the horrors Amerikkka enforced on humanity then and continues to enforce today.

Again, this is not "our narrative," nor just one opinion among many—either what is said is true or it is not. If you think it is not, we challenge you—we invite you—to tell us where we're wrong. And, again, if you agree or have more to add—let us know that too!

The Current Conditions and the Current Challenges

Then there is Obama's reading of history since the 1960s. Obama cannot outright or entirely deny the grossly unequal conditions of Black people and, in a more general sense, the tremendous inequality that has exploded in America over the past four decades, affecting people of all nationalities. And he focuses much of his speech on this.

Obama mentions the basic economic inequality that continues to dog Black people 50 years after the March for Jobs and Justice—he even brings in some important facts on this at one point—but he obscures the essence of this, and he locates the solution to this inequality exactly where it should not be: within the framework of capitalism itself. While we cannot in this article go deeply into this, and we have spoken to this elsewhere in much more depth, it is the capitalist system itself—its needs and demands—which at every stage has conditioned the different forms of exploitation of Black people.

First there was slavery—the original reason that the African-American people were kidnapped and dragged to these shores, often being murdered in the process. Then there was the century of open Jim Crow segregation, denial of fundamental rights, and lynch-mob terror—built up on the foundation of share-cropping in the South (a form of primitive agriculture in which farmers were tied to the land and constantly in debt, while landlords exploited and plundered their labor). The accumulation on the backs of these farmers was part of enabling the U.S. to spread its tentacles all over the world. Then there was the Great Migration—the massive influx of Black people into the cities to fill the capitalists' need for industrial labor, in the dirtiest, most dangerous and worst-paying jobs. And now we are in a place where capital can no longer profitably exploit the masses of Black people in the same way and, in a very real sense, "has no place and no future" for the millions and millions of African-American, Latino, and other oppressed-nationality youths trapped in the decaying inner cities. This change in the basic economic relations in the society, along with political and cultural steps taken by the rulers of America to deal with and turn back the ways in which revolution had gotten a real following in the '60s, all fed into and helped give rise to the spread of the drug trade, the criminalization of whole generations, the degradation of people, and the incarceration of literally millions of people.

First there was slavery—the original reason that the African-American people were kidnapped and dragged to these shores, often being murdered in the process. Then there was the century of open Jim Crow segregation, denial of fundamental rights, and lynch-mob terror—built up on the foundation of share-cropping in the South (a form of primitive agriculture in which farmers were tied to the land and constantly in debt, while landlords exploited and plundered their labor). The accumulation on the backs of these farmers was part of enabling the U.S. to spread its tentacles all over the world. Then there was the Great Migration—the massive influx of Black people into the cities to fill the capitalists' need for industrial labor, in the dirtiest, most dangerous and worst-paying jobs. And now we are in a place where capital can no longer profitably exploit the masses of Black people in the same way and, in a very real sense, "has no place and no future" for the millions and millions of African-American, Latino, and other oppressed-nationality youths trapped in the decaying inner cities. This change in the basic economic relations in the society, along with political and cultural steps taken by the rulers of America to deal with and turn back the ways in which revolution had gotten a real following in the '60s, all fed into and helped give rise to the spread of the drug trade, the criminalization of whole generations, the degradation of people, and the incarceration of literally millions of people.

2008, Detroit has lost over half the population since 1950; of those who remain, 85 percent are Black, and almost half the children live below the official federal poverty level. Photo: AP

THIS basic fact—the foundational, bred-in-the-bone connection between capitalism and white supremacy—is why the oppression of the African-American people is so knitted into the workings of this society and so fundamental to the system itself. That is, it is deeply embedded not only in the politics and culture and thinking of the people in this country, but also and fundamentally in the bedrock foundational economic relations as well, and this is the root of the problem. And for just this reason it will take a thorough-going revolution, a communist revolution, to get rid of it.

THIS fact of white supremacy being so deeply embedded in the economic, political, and cultural fabric of the USA is the principal cause that has given rise to what Michelle Alexander has very insightfully analyzed as the NEW JIM CROW: the cynical use of the "war on drugs" to develop a whole system of mass criminalization, mass imprisonment, massive denial of rights to those who have been imprisoned, a school-to-prison pipeline. This is now so pervasive that there are more Black men in prison in U.S. prisons today than were held in slavery in 1850. This is now so pervasive that it is right to equate this, as Alexander does, with the whole 100-year regime of segregation and naked lynch-mob terror, which stretched into and dominated every sphere of African-American life. And, again, anyone who wishes to dispute this: write to us and make your argument; or, if you agree, share your thinking.

Yes, Obama mentions in his speech the need to ensure that "the scales of justice work equally for all and the criminal justice system and is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails"—but a) this hardly even begins to capture the massive, pervasive phenomenon we are describing, b) does not mention that it will take a titanic struggle to even begin to reverse this New Jim Crow, and c) thus serves to minimize this.

Obama describes how the "twin forces of technology and global competition"—that is to say, breakneck, profit-above-all capitalist expansion—have eroded and in many cases destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people in this country, of all nationalities. But this fact, and the measures he describes that accompanied it, did not "violate sound economic principles" (as he claims)—these measures were implementations of capitalist economic requirements, and that is why every president, Republican or Democrat, including Obama himself, has done everything they could to speed all this along! Obama calls on people to "stand together" for good jobs and wages, health care, better education, and so on—but these are feel-good phrases devoid of content. In actual fact, it will take tremendous struggle—tremendous upheaval, with great sacrifice—AGAINST the powers-that-be in order to even begin to reverse this disaster and prevent an even worse calamity: the transformation of this slow genocide into a fast one.

And it will take communist revolution—against this whole economic and political system—to actually rid the world of American white supremacy, and bring in a new day of genuine emancipation for all of humanity.

Obama's Outright Disgusting Pandering to Racism

It will take communist revolution—against this whole economic and political system—to actually rid the world of American white supremacy, and bring in a new day of genuine emancipation for all of humanity.

There is particular importance to one part of Obama's speech that we quoted above, so we'll quote it again here:

The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots. Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse-making for criminal behavior. Racial politics could cut both ways, as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination. And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support—as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child, and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself.

All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided.

We've already spoken about the so-called "self-defeating riots," which were actually righteous rebellions against centuries of injustice and abuse. But let's look at the rest of this, which in some ways is the most mendacious, lying, and disgusting part of the whole speech, and let's break it down—because it's full of signifying and slipperiness.

First, what is "language of recrimination" being referred to here? Is he talking about Black people and other oppressed nationalities speaking bitterness about the real lived experience of America, and radical and revolutionary intellectuals analyzing the systematic character of white supremacy in America? Or is he talking about people like Bill Cosby—and like Obama himself—who claim that the main problem facing Black people in this country is that they make too many excuses? Or is it the racism of not just the Tea Party mob, but revered figures like Ronald Reagan—whom Obama himself consistently upholds and praises and who began his 1980 campaign for president by visiting the Mississippi town where the civil rights organizers James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman were murdered, saying not a word about that crime and upholding "States' rights"—the code word, then and now, for outright racist terror?

From the context of the speech and the whole thrust of this very key paragraph within it, the answer is clear. Obama is once again equating truth-telling about America with "recriminations"—and blaming those who have been subjugated by America for their own oppression.

The question before us is why we should allow ourselves to be confined within the mental prison bars of this political and economic system. ... The RCP, USA has published the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) for a revolutionary state that would set about uprooting the sources of this oppression and put in place institutions through which the centuries of that oppression could be overcome. ...  The RCP, USA has published a statement, "On the Strategy for Revolution," which shows how we can get from the situation today—where revolution does not have many followers and a revolution is not possible—into one where it would be... and what we need to be doing today to get there. ... The RCP, USA has a leader, Bob Avakian, who has led in developing this strategy and this vision of a whole new society, as part of summing up the whole first stage of communist revolution, as well as developments in other spheres, and who as part of all this has developed a body of work and method and approach on all this for people to get into.

Then let's look at this: "what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, the chance for all Americans to work hard and get ahead was too often framed as a mere desire for government support—as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child, and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself." We'll speak shortly to Obama's equation of liberation with the chance to "work hard and get ahead." But again, who is Obama talking about here? And what planet is he on? He presumably knows from his much-ballyhooed experience as a "community organizer" the constant exhausting battles that people in poverty must wage to stay above water. He must know how they must choose between paying for heat or paying for food, how they are hassled and insulted and hung up for hours in waiting rooms and station-houses, how they are abused at every turn, and how they all too often face the choice between leaving your kids at home with no supervision or losing your job—and then losing your kids when the agencies claim you're not a fit parent, and all the rest. If Obama is talking about Black and other oppressed peoples here—and it is clear from the context that he is, even if he doesn't come right out and make it clear—this is not only the worst kind of bullshit lie; it is a vicious racist myth being given voice and legitimacy by the highest-ranking Black politician in the country.

And what about the other racist myth here that Obama lends credence to: that Black people somehow get or at least demand special treatment ("mere desire for government support")? On even a basic level, the reverse is true. In fact, not only does the state dedicate its whole being to serving the economic and political interests of major blocs of capital in this country, the major industries, big agribusiness, and all the other major monopolies, many of these forces also get all kinds of direct subsidies to boot. More fundamentally, though, let's ask this question: who owes whom? If America ever were to "pay back" for the centuries of plunder, exploitation and horror that Black and other oppressed-nationality peoples were subjected to—there would not be a bill large enough to comprehend the level of restitution that would be anything close to "fair."

And then the conclusion: "All of that history is how progress stalled. That's how hope was diverted. It's how our country remained divided." To be fair here, directly before these paragraphs Obama also cites a few other reasons (growing income inequality, divisions among the politicians, etc.) for "the stalling of progress," etc. But this comes as the punch line to the whole preceding paragraph, which is nothing but "red meat" tossed out to the racists.

What's the truth about "how progress stalled"? First of all, the whole way this is framed is wrong and it gets you thinking in the wrong terms. It's as if there was this steady, peaceful progress and then suddenly... uh oh, it stalled. NO! "Progress" didn't "stall"—the struggle of the people, which had grown increasingly powerful and more revolutionary, overcoming tremendous vicious repression, ran up against a vicious, all-sided program of counter-revolutionary suppression that it was not able to overcome. The truth is that this government had a special program (COINTELPRO), carried out by the FBI, designed to suppress the Black liberation movement, planting informers and agents, spying on them, carrying out slander campaigns, fomenting violence between groups, and much more—including the outright assassinations of a number of important leaders. And while the movement of the time was confronting and grappling with real limitations in understanding and strategy, as well as other problems, this government program of assassinations, intrigue and deception played no small part in its ebbing. The truth is that simultaneously a narrow slice of African-American people were given some opportunities formerly denied them, but that this was then used to spread illusions and to build up a "buffer." The truth is that beginning with Richard Nixon, and picking up tremendous momentum with Reagan and Bill Clinton, the program of massive incarceration earlier described was designed and carried out to contain those in the ghettos and barrios for whom there would be no "ladder" out—so that today one out of nine Black men between 20 and 34 is in prison. In short, the truth is that the revolutionary movement of the late '60s and early '70s, despite heroic struggle and tremendous achievements, was not able to go all the way, and because it didn't, the system adjusted and came back even more vengeful than before.

Why Did Obama Even Say Anything?

There is a movement for revolution, which this Party is building. ... We need, right now, to all fearlessly fight for the truth about this system and its history; and we need, right now, to dig into the truth about what it will take to get to the whole new world that people urgently need. And we need to do it on the most liberating basis there is: communist revolution, as re-envisioned in Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism.

Barack Obama famously hates to say anything about the oppression of Black people. Yet this summer he has begun to say a few things—this has included his second set of remarks on Trayvon Martin (nearly a week after the verdict), some proposals by his attorney general that may mitigate some of the worst excesses of the war on drugs, and now this speech. It is very likely that he would have made some sort of remarks in any case, but it is not at all clear that it would have been given anything like the emphasis he gave it before the events of this summer.

Why is this so? NOT because his second term is now letting him show his "true colors," NOT because of "his legacy," or any other such stuff. The fact is that the two events we began with—the acquittal of George Zimmerman and the Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act—rocked millions of people, Black and white. Many who expected the Zimmerman verdict were nevertheless deeply hurt and in some ways stunned by it. These millions who were rocked by the verdict began to raise very basic and huge, huge questions as to what America is really all about. How could this happen? What did this say about our society, and about our system of government? People went into the streets around justice for Trayvon, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. People in their millions awoke—they began to raise questions; they began to talk; they began to become open to different ideas. And all the while, the silence from the first Black president—the man whose election we are told was the "crowning achievement" of the struggles of the 1960s—was deafening. Obama had to speak out, lest he risk losing the allegiance of a whole section of people who otherwise look to him and whom he is in charge of keeping penned into the killing confines of this Democrat-Republican game.

Here it's important to return to the analysis of Bob Avakian, concentrated in "Elections, Resistance, and Revolution: The Pyramid of Power and the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down," from a question/answer session in 2003, and returned to over the years, including in the piece we cited at the beginning of this article [Unresolved Contradictions, Driving Forces for Revolution]. This analysis draws an analogy to a pyramid; as Avakian says,

At the top of this pyramid are the people that rule this society and in particular you've got those that are represented by the Democratic Party on the one hand and the Republican Party on the other. And there is struggle between them...

And BA follows this with a very careful analysis of all the ways in which the basically fascist side of this pyramid, as concentrated in the Republican Party, has gone about cultivating power in all the key institutions of U.S. society and developing, to go with this, a fascist social base—people organized, in their millions, around white supremacy, male supremacy, a hatred of science, etc.

BA goes on to discuss the Democrats:

On the other hand, here are the Democrats at the top of this pyramid (on the so-called "left"). Who are the people that they try to appeal to—not that the Democrats represent their interests, but who are the people that the Democrats try to appeal to at the base, on the other side of this pyramid, so to speak? All the people who stand for progressive kinds of things, all the people who are oppressed in this society. For the Democrats, a big part of their role is to keep all those people confined within the bourgeois, the mainstream, electoral process...and to get them back into it when they have drifted away from—or broken out of—that framework. Because those people at the base are always alienated and angry at what happens with the elections, for the reason I was talking about earlier: they are always betrayed by the Democratic Party, which talks about "the little man" and poor people and the people who are discriminated against, and so on. And at times they'll even use the word oppression. But then they just sell out these people every time—because they don't represent their interests. They represent the interests of the system and of its ruling class. But they have a certain role of always trying to get people who are oppressed, alienated and angry back into the elections. You know: "Come on in, come on in- -it's not as bad as you think, you can vote, it's OK." This is one of the main roles they play. But the thing about them is that they are very afraid of calling into the streets this base of people that they appeal to, to vote for them. The last thing in the world they want to do is to call these masses of people into the streets to protest or to battle against this right-wing force that's being built up.

With Obama, this has reached an important point. Obama did in fact do what is described above—his election served to pacify people who should have been, and still should be, out in the streets. Obama implemented very much the same program as George W. Bush had—and in some cases, worse—and essentially escaped any protest whatsoever. But with the mounting outrages of the spring and summer—as concentrated in the Zimmerman verdict, but not in that alone—there was a tremendous restiveness and questioning among people. Obama's role is to both recognize this—and to redefine and derail it, to take people out of the streets and back into the confines of the elections and everything that represents.

The Real Liberating Thing? This Shit Is Not All There Is

The question before us is why we should allow ourselves to be confined within the mental prison bars of this political and economic system. We showed above how it is capitalism and its requirements that has driven the different stages of white supremacy and oppression in this country. But this is not necessary. There is a different way that is possible.

The RCP, USA has published the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) for a revolutionary state that would set about uprooting the sources of this oppression and put in place institutions through which the centuries of that oppression could be overcome. More than that, this is part of a whole liberating vision—and concrete structure—that could enable masses of people to set about uprooting oppression and inequality in every sphere of life, and bringing into being a vibrant, sustainable society in which people could at last, in their millions and billions, begin to flourish. We have written about this elsewhere, but even beyond those articles, if you really care about getting out of this madness you need to get into this. We challenge anyone to compare and contrast this with the U.S. Constitution, and tell us which one can serve as a framework for liberation; and, again, we challenge those who have been moved by this Constitution to also write us, and to get this out to others.

The RCP, USA has published a statement, "On the Strategy for Revolution," which shows how we can get from the situation today—where revolution does not have many followers and a revolution is not possible—into one where it would be... and what we need to be doing today to get there. It shows exactly how major events like the outrage around the murder of Trayvon Martin can serve a whole process of bringing about a situation in which there IS a revolutionary people numbering in their millions, and in which a revolution COULD be made... and it lays out how to prepare for, and bring closer, that situation.

The RCP, USA has a leader, Bob Avakian, who has led in developing this strategy and this vision of a whole new society, as part of summing up the whole first stage of communist revolution, as well as developments in other spheres, and who as part of all this has developed a body of work and method and approach on all this for people to get into. It has a leader who grew up in and came out of the massive struggles of the 1960s and has not only refused to give up but has drawn deeply on the lessons of that period—where the movement had made great accomplishments, and where it had run into problems it couldn't solve and limitations that it didn't overcome—and he's taken things further. This not about hope as an empty slogan, but hope on a solid scientific foundation.

There is a movement for revolution, which this Party is building. And there is the possibility of real upheaval coming—neither wing of this ruling class has real answers that will mean anything but misery and madness on a scale not yet seen the longer this drags on. We do not have to choose—we MUST not choose—between them. In fact, as BA says toward the conclusion of the 2003 "Pyramid of Power" article, "There is going to be a tremendous tug and pull on this huge body of people [those whom the Democrats, and today Obama, attempt to appeal to and mislead]—literally, already, tens of millions of people—who feel this deep gut hatred for what's going on." We need to wage that struggle. We need, right now, to all fearlessly fight for the truth about this system and its history; and we need, right now, to dig into the truth about what it will take to get to the whole new world that people urgently need. And we need to do it on the most liberating basis there is: communist revolution, as re-envisioned in Bob Avakian's new synthesis of communism.


* There may be nuances of difference between Obama and someone like Al Sharpton. Sharpton may sound a little more militant in some of what he says. But Sharpton, and others like him, did not criticize Obama's speech and everything they do is designed to build support for Obama. The militance is designed to suck people in. [back]




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

50 Years After Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" Speech—Amerikkka Is Still A Goddamn Nightmare!
3 Points and a Challenge in Response to Obama's Speech!

by Carl Dix | August 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


1) Barack Obama stepped to the mic and spoke of the importance of non-violence ... for oppressed people. When any representative of the U.S. ruling class preaches non-violence, they mean non-violence for those who might get in the way of their empire. Obama was referring to people who had suffered under Jim Crow segregation and lynch-mob terror. This from the commander-in-chief of the global Amerikkkan empire, who has presided over more than 280 drone missile strikes, maintains a torture chamber prison at Guantánamo Bay and presides over a criminal injustice system that is carrying out a slow genocide aimed at Blacks and Latinos. There might as well have been blood dripping from his jaws as he spoke.

2) Obama said: "If we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us, claiming to push for change, lost our way. The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots." That's Bull Shit! People didn't lose their way in the '60s: In fact, they were beginning to find their way, coming to see that the horrors they were up against were built into the very fabric of this set-up and couldn't be reformed away. But they were met with vicious repression—leaders assassinated, activists dragged into court on trumped-up charges, and railroaded off to prison and more. In the face of all that, the movement of that period wasn't able to develop the understanding needed to do what was needed: make revolution and end the horrors Amerikkka enforced on humanity then and continues to enforce today.

3) Many, many people are asking big questions about the unjust nature of this system, and this has forced Obama to speak to some of the problems Black people face today. But he doesn't get into the depths of these problems or what to do about them, except to say rely on him to work on them. For example, he didn't say a fucking word about the more than two million people warehoused in prison. He did say that the unemployment rate for African-Americans has consistently been about twice that of whites and that the wealth gap between Blacks and whites has GROWN over the past decades. But he talked about this like it had nothing to do with the system he presides over.

THE CHALLENGE—There is a way to uproot all these horrors. It'll take Revolution—Nothing Less! I speak to this in depth in a recent talk: "We Don't Need a New Civil Rights Movement—We Need Revolution!" Watch that talk at And dig into BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!





Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

To readers:

School is starting... Seize the moment

August 29, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


School is starting! New (and returning) students are trying to figure out what they're going to do with their lives. They're living in a world of injustice, oppression, environmental devastation, and war. And many are thinking about what they should do about that. Let's seize the moment to get the revolution out on campuses!

Lead with the special edition of Revolution, "You Can't Change the World if You Don't Know the BAsics." It gives the big picture of the revolution the world needs, and the leadership we have in Bob Avakian and his work. Get out palm cards, including those for the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, the "Three Strikes" poster, and other materials you can download from Along with these materials, sell the current issue of Revolution.

Be sure to sign up everyone you meet for e-subs—have a laptop or tablet set up so students can enter their email addresses on the fly (and accurately). E-subs are a basic way of keeping people in touch with the movement for revolution.

As you get these materials out among students, listen, learn, and report. Find out what students think about the content of our materials, but also draw students out and learn about what issues they are concerned about, how they are thinking about the world, and what they think are the ways to change it. Then write in to and share some sense of the back and forth with the students, not just what we say and do—but also what questions and responses students have, how we responded to them and what we are learning. Take advantage of opportunities (and create those opportunities) to get coffee or tea with people you meet, or find other informal ways to get to know people better and stay in touch with them.

In short: Let's boldly take the revolution out to students in a way commensurate with the important stakes of people getting into this movement. And as we do, listen, engage, and learn from the people we are meeting as well.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

"Emergency Call! Join Us in Stopping Torture in U.S. Prisons!" Published in Los Angeles Times

August 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editor’s note: The following ad ran in the Los Angeles Times on August 28. It was made possible by the contributions of many people who signed and helped pay for it. For more information, to sign the ad or contribute to publishing it, go to


MOST AMERICANS IMAGINE THAT TORTURE HAPPENS SOMEWHERE ELSE, in other countries far, far away. But torture is occurring every day, right here in California. The question is how long will we tolerate it?

10,000 people in prison in California and 80,000 people in prisons across the U.S. are held in solitary confinement—a punishment that is a recognized form of torture. UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez told the UN General Assembly in 2011 “Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit... whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique... and indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days should also be subject to an absolute prohibition.”

On July 8, 2013, approximately 30,000 California prisoners began a hunger strike to stop indefinite solitary confinement. Now entering its eighth week, well over 100 remain on strike. California prison officials have refused to meet prisoners’ demands or even negotiate, but instead have retaliated against and vilified the prisoners. Recently, California prison officials obtained a court order to allow force-feeding of hunger striking prisoners, including those who have stated they do not want such intervention. Medical ethicists in The New England Journal of Medicine recently wrote: “Force-feeding a competent person is not the practice of medicine; it is aggravated assault. Using a physician to assault prisoners no more changes the nature of the act than using physicians to ‘monitor’ torture makes torture a medical procedure.”

The situation is urgent. The signatories below have signed the following EMERGENCY CALL TO STOP TORTURE IN U.S. PRISONS. You too are encouraged to sign this statement, and to donate generously, so it can be published in other publications.



TENS OF THOUSANDS of people imprisoned in the U.S. are being subjected to torturous, inhumane conditions. Many are:

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.


People imprisoned at Pelican Bay and other prisons in California launched a nationwide Hunger Strike on July 8, 2013. They have also issued a call for unity among people from different racial groups, inside and outside the prisons. People who are locked down in segregation units of this society's prisons, condemned as the "worst of the worst," are standing up against injustice, asserting their humanity in the process. We must have the humanity to hear their call, and answer it with powerful support!

A nationwide and worldwide struggle needs to be built NOW to bring an end to this widespread torture and to support the prisoners who have put their lives on the line.


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!



We Cannot Accept, and We Should Not Tolerate This Torture.
Join the Struggle to End Torture in Prisons Now!



We Support Your Call for Unity in this Fight and
We Will Have Your Backs!


Stop Mass Incarceration NetworkCalifornia Families to Abolish Solitary ConfinementOscar Grant FoundationLegal Services for Prisoners with ChildrenSan Francisco Bay View NewspaperWitness Against Torture Viggo Mortensen, actor • Cornel West, author, educator, voice of conscience • Noam Chomsky, Professor (Ret.), MIT* • Alice Walker, author • Michelle Alexander, author, The New Jim Crow • Tom Morello, The Nightwatchman • Daniel EllsbergLuis Valdez, Founding Artistic Director, El Teatro Campesino* • Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party* • Tananarive Due, author • Gbenga Akinnagbe, actor and director • Arturo O’Farrill, Afro Latin Jazz Alliance* • Cindy SheehanFr. Gregory J. Boyle, Homeboy Industries* • Jackie Sumell, artist, Herman’s House* • Marjorie Cohn, Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law* • Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait* • Wayne Kramer, Jail Guitar Doors USA* • Chuck D, Public Enemy* • Rev. George F. Regas, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP)* • Stephen Rohde, ICUJP* • Cynthia McKinneyStandish Willis, National Conference of Black Lawyers* • Robin D. G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA* • Rev. Stephen Phelps, The Riverside Church, NYC* • Peter Schey, President, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law* • William AyersLaura Markle Downton, NRCAT Director of U.S. Prisons Policy & Program* • Colin Dayan, Professor, Vanderbilt University* • Larry Everest, writer for Revolution newspaper, author of Oil, Power and Empire • Sheila Pinkel, artist, “Site Unseen” • Larry Aubry, Advocates for Black Strategic Alternatives* • Rev. Dr. Dorsey O. Blake, Presiding Minister, The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples* • Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director, Office of the Americas* • Cal Berkeley Football* Players Alejandro Crosthwaite, Khairi Fort, and Richard RodgersGlen Ford, Black Agenda Report* • Prison Watch NetworkJames Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild, LA* • Dr. Antonio Martinez, Institute for Survivors of Human Rights Abuses* • Marilyn McMahon, California Prison Focus* • Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, Pastor, Glide Memorial Church* • Helen Schietinger, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition* • Jim Vrettos, professor, John Jay College* • Ron Ahnen, California Prison Focus* • Dorsey Nunn, All Of Us Or None* • Rev. Richard Meri Ka Ra Byrd, KRST Unity Center* • John Burris, Civil Rights Attorney • Josh Fattal, Author • Rev. Frank Wulf, United University Church, LA* • Charles Carbone Esq., Prisoner Rights Attorney • Alex Sanchez, Executive Director, Homies Unidos* • Rev. Frederick Trost Fr. Bob Bossie SCJ Ron Jacobs, writer • King Downing, Human Rights Racial Justice Center* • Rael Nidess M.D. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Director, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture* • Peadar King, Irish filmaker • J. Tony Serra, Lawyer • John Galbraith Simmons, medical writer and author • Corey Weinstein M.D. • Anne Ramis, artist • James Cockcroft, author • Andres Thomas Conteris, Nonviolence International* • Gaillard T. Hunt, Guantanamo Lawyer • Bernardine DohrnGerry Condon, Board of Directors, Veterans For Peace* • Denis O’Hearn, author, The Life and Times of Bobby Sands • Haifa Zangana, Iraqi novelist • Dahlia Wasfi M.D.JC Robinson, Professor, School of Public Health, UC Berkeley* • Staughton Lynd, Peace Activist, author, lawyer • David MacMichael, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity* • Martha Rayner, Guantanamo Lawyer • Barbara Lubin, Founder and Executive Director, Mid East Children’s Alliance* • Rev. Theon Johnson III, Assoc. Pastor, Glide Memorial Church* • David Rovics, singer/songwriter • AND HUNDREDS MORE





1. Eliminate group punishment and administrative abuse.

2. Abolish the “debriefing” policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.

3. End long-term solitary confinement.
Comply with the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons (2006).

4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.

5. Create and expand constructive programming.


Or make a check out to “Stop Mass Incarceration/AfGJ” List “Emergency Call” in memo line and mail to:

P.O. Box 941, Knickerbocker Station • New York City, NY 10002-0900

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION OPTION ONLINE. The Stop Mass Incarceration Network is a project of the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ), a 501(c)3 organization.






Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

Reflections on BA Everywhere...
Imagine the Difference It Could Make!

by Annie Day | September 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


I’ve been thinking about BA Everywhere and why it’s the leading edge right now of a whole ensemble of revolutionary work. For those who are just learning of this, BA Everywhere is a mass campaign to raise big funds to project Bob Avakian’s vision and works into every corner of society.

Bob Avakian (BA) is the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party who has developed a new synthesis of communism and a strategic approach to making revolution in the U.S. He’s spent decades studying the experience of the first wave of communist revolution—first in the Soviet Union and then in China, where millions were a part of changing all of society. They went a long way in this and brought forward a whole different economy, new ways of relating, a new culture and revolutionary thinking among millions—which inspired people all around the world. These revolutions were defeated and capitalism has been restored in both these countries, in the Soviet Union since the 1950s and in China since 1976. These societies also fell short in important ways and made serious errors in the revolutionary process—in what they carried out, and even in their conception. BA has wrangled deeply with all this as well as studying developments in human society more broadly—learning from all quarters. Through this, he has forged a framework, a vision and strategy for a radically different way the world could be. BA tells people the truth, he breaks down the complexity of the world but also the very real need and possibility of revolution—and how people need to be working on that today.

There’s a lot more to say about BA, what his leadership concentrates and all the work he’s brought forward, and I strongly encourage everyone reading—even those who are familiar with BA’s work—to take some time reading through, to get deeply into this theory as well as to get a sense of the scale and significance of BA’s work.

The full slogan for this campaign is BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make! And that’s what I think people should do, really: imagine the difference it could make.

In our society, huge sections of youth spend their days in a haze—numbing themselves to the pain and boredom of growing up in a society where you have no future or no future that you find meaningful, where you are told in a million different ways you mean nothing and are worth nothing. For Black and brown youth, they grow up with the world set against them, feeling all they have to hold on to is their block—which they do not own and do not control. People live disrespected and demeaned—tracked into juvenile detention and prisons, women pimped out by their loved ones or beaten regularly if they do not comply. Too often, people respond to these conditions of brutality by turning around and delivering the same to their neighbors, to people who should be their friends. If you have dreams and aspirations that haven’t been stamped out of you, it is often for personal success, for you to get up and out—regardless of the cost to others. Far too much in this society, people hate on each other, they lie to each other, they bully each other, they find suspect people who feel different and who act different. The mainstream culture celebrates cruelty, domination, and meaninglessness.

For people who want to be about something different—rebel youth who want to be about justice—they are trained to think about it in terms of how they’re going to live different, make different personal choices, how they are going to try to do good in a terrible world and almost never consider—and are told not to consider—what it would mean to bring about a fundamentally different, and better, world.

When they do step out and fight against the outrages of this system, when people lift their heads to fight—as they have this summer in the hunger strike in California prisons, in the streets around Trayvon Martin, the heroic youth putting their lives on the line for immigrant rights or abortion rights—they are attacked, criminalized, and repressed at the same time as in these struggles, big questions are posed about what we’re really up against, and where the fight needs to go.

All this shit—the criminal outrages people face, the mass degradation and the suffering, the low sights and dreams—this comes from a system that is rooted in the relentless chase for profit above all else, a vicious system of capitalism which draws its lifeblood from ever more ruthlessly exploiting people and the planet, enforcing this and other forms of oppression with their courts, police, prisons, and armies. (To find out more how all this flows from this system, read through Revolution newspaper every week or almost daily at

Now... imagine something completely different emerging throughout society. A leadership, and a movement behind that, that is exposing where all this comes from, how this kind of oppressive society developed—and how everything could be different.

Changing this whole world is going to take a REVOLUTION, a real revolution that is about the emancipation of all humanity. This is what BA’s work concentrates—the leadership we have for the revolution we need.

BA Everywhere... Imagine the Difference It Could Make!

Imagine people throughout society—in barbershops, living rooms, campuses, libraries, and street corners—watching the new film, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live. Imagine people seeing palm cards all over with quotes from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian—quotes that tap into the reality people live and make them see it in a whole different way... and imagine people getting into the book itself, a handbook for revolution. Imagine—as people are lifting their heads, fighting the power in different ways, that they come to understand the deeper problem behind what they’re fighting, the links behind that and other crimes of this system, and that there really is a way out and there is leadership for that in BA and the Party he leads. Imagine people finding out and engaging with the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) and the statement, “On the Strategy for Revolution”—both from the Revolutionary Communist Party... and think about what breaks open when people even find out these things exist. Imagine people coming together—building community full of great joy and defiance—to raise funds to break all this out even further.

Get BAsics... To order the e-book, search for full title: for Kindle go to; for Nook go to; for iBooks search in iTunes store. Or place your order for the print edition now! $10 plus $3.98 shipping/handling/tax. Buy one for yourself and one for a prisoner. Send money orders or checks to RCP Publications, PO Box 3486, Merchandise Mart, Chicago, IL 60654. Or order online at or Donate to and raise funds for promotion and awareness of BAsics. Go to BAsics here at to get and share ideas about fundraising and spreading BAsics. ...Spread BAsics

Contributions or gifts to RCP Publications are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.

Imagine the kind of real talk, the rich debate and discussion that could be fostered if people from different perspectives and different backgrounds were engaging this revolutionary voice together instead of the kind of bullshit and emptiness that we are told from magazine newsstands to much of music and TV is what should fill our days.

BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! is a film of a talk BA gave in the fall of 2012. As Revolution newspaper wrote earlier this year, this film is “dealing with the most important thing there could be—because it’s about the real possibility of bringing into being a radically different world, where all this madness, all the oppression and injustice, all the abuse and degradation that is so much a part of life now, would be done away with.”

Watching this film... spreading this film... getting into BAsics... passing it hand to hand... and raising funds to break BA’s voice, and his whole body of work, out into society in major ways... can change how whole sections of people are thinking, and on that basis, how they are acting. It will disturb and provoke, some people will vehemently disagree, some will want to jump in with both feet and some won’t be all sure what they think—but this kind of engagement and awareness of BA can change how whole sections of people see what is desirable, what is tolerable, what is possible—and what they should be about.

This is what we’ve been drawing forward and changing in significant, if still beginning, ways with BA Everywhere—with the BAsics Bus Tours that went out last year in California, through the South, and in New York City and surrounding areas. And what we’ve been tapping into with coordinated national van tours that have gone out into the inner cities and wealthy areas simultaneously in cities across the country this summer. This is why people have been inspired to contribute in all kinds of generous ways, and to be part of this movement—distributing palm cards, playing music, making jewelry, emailing a friend and more. This is part of why hundreds of people nationally attended premieres of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! and why many, many dozens were actively part of building for these. Why people have been digging into and spreading BAsics. A great deal has been accomplished in this, and much has been changed. We need to learn more deeply from all this, and on that basis—take it to a whole other level.

This is from a young Latina in response to the film: “I think it’s very important for everyone, especially young people from the hood to see this because BA talks about what they go through and he has a solution to all the oppression. And I know for me, when I saw it, it changed the way I looked at everything... music, shows, commercials, ads. I just started seeing all the fucked up shit they promote and it made me want to challenge all that and not go along with any of it.”

That can happen a thousandfold the more we are able to raise the funds required and build a national movement around BA Everywhere. Raising funds means we can have this kind of big impact on society—by coming together all across the country. It joins us together in an effort that is bigger than any of us, but in which we can all make a big difference—whether you can give $10 or $10,000, whether you bake cookies for a bake sale or host a fancy dinner party. It enables people who don’t have a lot of time—whether they’re working a busy professional job or scrambling to survive—to be part of breaking real revolution into the atmosphere and making this revolutionary force known.

All this—overlapping and interpenetrating with all the ways in which people are getting into the whole movement for revolution, fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution—can really change the face of everything.

If you want to be about something positive—the most positive thing there can be... get into BA and be part of BA Everywhere. If you want to be about more than just yourself but want to contribute to changing things for people all around the world... get into BA and be part of BA Everywhere. If you want to go up against all the lies and dishonesty in the world with sharp truth-telling, passion, and honesty... get into BA and be part of BA Everywhere. If you have a heart and a conscience, big questions and big dreams... get into BA and be part of BA Everywhere.





Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

Celebrating BA Everywhere

September 2, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Remarks from Sunsara Taylor at a celebration in New York City of a summer of taking out "BA Everywhere—Imagine the Difference It Could Make," and big plans to take the work and leadership of Bob Avakian—a real revolutionary alternative to capitalism—out even further into society. These remarks were made following the viewing of a segment of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION – NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live on August 31st


That was BA—the leader of the revolution and the man who has, through many decades of rigorous and tireless work, developed a new synthesis of revolution and communism so that it really is possible in the world today to make revolution, to lift the beast of capitalism-imperialism off the backs of humanity, and to bring into being a socialist society, fighting and contributing to a world where all of humanity is truly emancipated and can fully flourish—that is, genuine communism.

We gather at a time of great peril, tremendous suffering, and great dangers. Just this summer, we have witnessed the vicious and murderous verdict in the George Zimmerman trial—giving a green light to racist vigilantes and police to murder our youth if they are Black or brown, resurrecting and whipping up that deep current in American political life and culture of open and genocidal white supremacy, and reinforcing the whole crushing reality of mass incarceration. Many, in their anger and anguish, have lamented that this really is no different than the murder of Emmett Till some 50+ years ago... or even all that different from the enslavement of Black people for hundreds of years before that. And they are right. So, what is there to celebrate?

Just this summer, we have seen major assaults on women's right to abortion, laws which will close 37 out of 42 abortion clinics in Texas, laws designed to close down the only clinics left in Mississippi and North Dakota, terror and stalking rained down on abortion providers, stigma and hardship piling up on women who seek this right. Abortion is necessary for women to be free; forced motherhood is female enslavement. Yet, women are being slammed back towards the days before Roe v. Wade, when 8,000 women a year died from botched abortions, where all women lived under the terror of having their lives foreclosed by children they didn't want. This, pushing women back into the position they held for centuries—that of breeders of children and property of men. So, what is there to celebrate?

We gather at a time when every day, new studies tell us that the destruction of the environment is happening more rapidly, with bigger repercussions and greater stakes than even the worst predictions had understood. The destruction of the environment, the drilling in the oceans, the fracking of the earth, the poisoning of the water, the melting of the glaciers, all this is happening at an increased pace—even as the denial of this problem and the attacks on science itself are also getting worse. So, what is there to celebrate?

And we gather at a time when the drums of war are beating once again, with the U.S. poised to launch a military attack on Syria any minute—and all this coming on top of the drones and the troops stationed and still carrying out crimes against humanity throughout the Middle East and North Africa. All this after a decade of war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and generations before that of wars and coups and plunder that the U.S. has carried out around the globe. So, what is there to celebrate?

Well, I will tell you.

As opposed to 300 years ago, 150 years ago, or even 50 years ago—today,we actually have what we need to really put an end to this madness. Not just to fight back, not just to complain, not just to tune out or drop out or seek some little space in the corner while all this horror continues. Today, we have the leadership to make the revolution we need. Today, because of the work of BA over decades, the tireless and rigorous work of sifting through the great accomplishments of previous revolutions as well as their shortcomings, of bringing this together with what has been learned and brought forward by others in many other spheres, there is a new synthesis of communism. There is a viable and desirable alternative to the existing world order with all its unending suffering and destruction and degradation and ways it drags people themselves down.

That is something to celebrate!

As you have seen in this film, there is a strategy for making and WINNING a revolution in a country like this—for the masses in their millions to be led to go up against and to defeat the armed enforcers of the old order with all of their might, the most destructive machinery of death and destruction known in history in order to bring into being a new, revolutionary society and state—just think about how tremendously significant that is!

That is something to celebrate!

As you have gotten a taste of this through the excerpt from his memoir [From Ike to Mao and Beyond] and from the segments you have just watched, this is a leader who has given all of his heart, all of his understanding and commitment and creativity and intellectual capacity to the masses of people and to the cause of really breaking through to emancipate humanity. And through this, he not only has forged answers and is actively leading a Party to take up and carry out this strategy; he has set an example to many others of a whole different morality and method and approach to understanding and changing this world.

That is something to celebrate!

As everyone here should dig much more deeply into—he has developed in new and world-historic ways the framework and understanding for how to lead a new revolutionary society so that it is at one and the same time a world that meets the needs of humanity, that serves and advances the world revolution, that prioritizes repairing and caring for the environment, while at the same time bringing forward the most radical transformations in the relations between people—overcoming the long legacy of white supremacy and national oppression, unleashing the ongoing and deepening struggle against every remnant of the oppression of women and the restrictive notions of gender themselves, bringing everyone who has been locked out of the realm of working with ideas and the arts and sciences—and, at the same time, unleashing widespread debate, ferment, and dissent that breaks out in many directions. On the foundation of BA's new synthesis, how this will be concretely carried out starting day one and going forward after a successful revolution is laid out in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)—and all this is something to celebrate!

The truth is, this is what humanity needs more than anything else. All the suffering, all the heartache and heartbreak caused by people's lives cut short or lived in unspeakable hardship and suffering, or from all the ways that this system sets people against each other and gets into the thinking and morality of the people themselves so that they hurt and degrade themselves and each other—all this is completely unnecessary. Further, as BA himself has put it so powerfully, "Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human, can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity."

This, and the leadership to make this so, is something to celebrate!

Still, some will hear all this and still get discouraged. They say, "Nice idea, but people are too fucked up." Or people won't even let themselves think about this new synthesis of communism and all its liberatory potential because they think no one else will be into it. I heard this from a woman in North Dakota; after getting into this a bit, I asked her what she thought and she said, "I can't talk about communism, no one is going to listen to me if I do that." She wouldn't even let herself evaluate whether this is true or not because she was so preoccupied with what everyone else will think.

But this is wrong. As BA has put it, "What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think." And both parts of that are very true and very important.

The fact is, BA's new synthesis represents the way out of this madness whether or not anyone agrees with it or even if most people right now aren't even thinking about it. It objectively corresponds to, it correctly diagnoses how the great suffering that I have been describing is rooted in the system of capitalism-imperialism and the kind of revolution that is objectively needed to dig all this up and overcome it once and for all. If you go through the full talk, BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, or through BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, or through the rest of BA's body of work, which you can find large parts of at—you begin to see this. And, just as a scientific approach proved that it was true that the earth went around the sun even when most people still believed that the sun went around the earth, a truly scientific approach will demonstrate that this new synthesis of revolution and communism is what is objectively needed and possible to emancipate humanity. So, regardless of what anyone else thinks just now, this is a tremendous thing and it is truly something to celebrate.

But it's also important to return to the first part of that quote, that what people think is part of objective reality. This thinking of people is also important, because it is the main part of reality that we are fighting to transform—in order to bring people to understand and act on what they are currently ignorant of or even opposed to.

This is what we are doing with the campaign to raise big money to get BA known everywhere, or BA Everywhere—Imagine the Difference It Could Make!

We are actively and aggressively working to transform this situation—so that more and more people who have been lifting their heads to struggle, who so desperately and urgently want change, or those who have kept their heads down because until now they've never seen a possibility for that struggle to go anywhere good, come to understand and relate to and take up the way out of all this madness.

We are doing this through the pages of Revolution newspaper and on the website We have done this through two major van tours which took off from several major cities around the country this summer—connecting people up with BA in the ghettos as well as to some more well-off suburbs and vacation areas. We have done this through showings of the film BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! Bob Avakian Live, in theaters and libraries, on street corners and cafes, in living rooms and homeless shelters and campuses, which thousands of people have watched all or parts of this year. We have taken BA and his Three Strikes quote into the outpourings around Trayvon Martin and at the March on Washington, where thousands have taken them up. We have brought together hundreds of people from all walks of life to contribute funds—and to join in raising funds—to make all of this possible. In the process we have spread BA to thousands and thousands more, and brought together and forged communities that are taking up and grappling with his work and taking part in changing the world.

All this, too, is something to celebrate.

And because the work BA has done and is doing, and the life that he has led and is leading, deals so deeply with the biggest and most pressing problems humanity is facing—questions about human nature, religion, philosophy, science, the arts, as well as politics and revolution and human emancipation—people can relate to this and get into it and be part of spreading it on many different levels.

We have seen this in the artists who see a place for themselves in this revolutionary process and in the revolutionary society—engaging with his concept of solid core with a lot of elasticity. We have seen this in the high school student who explained that after watching BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! she went from thinking that people were just all messed up to seeing that it is a system and the relations between people that this system fosters that keeps people doing each other wrong.

We have seen this in the folks, including Black folks and others on the bottom of society, who get excited that BA is taking on the enslaving role of religion. We see it in the way that some folks, including very oppressed folks, walk off after hearing BA challenge their religious beliefs—knowing this is bringing them something very challenging, something that will continue to circulate in their minds. And we see this in the engagement between folks of the religious tradition—like Cornel West and others—who share a commitment to the wretched of the earth and are willing to go back and forth over where all this comes from and where it must go.

We see this in the way that conversations get serious when people learn that there really is a strategy for revolution and they want to know more.

We see this—and I saw this a lot this summer as I traveled the country with the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride—in the broad smiles and new conversations that open up when people first hear BA's quote about how you cannot break all the chains but one, about the need to fully liberate women and for women to be a driving force in this revolution.

We have seen the way that people's thinking expands, their sights are raised, their deepest questions come out, and new, even bigger questions and ideas get opened up for the first time when they encounter BA. We have seen how not just individuals, but whole groups of people and communities of people start to think about and relate in different ways with each other, and see different things as possible when BA is in the mix.

And we have seen, over and over again, how those who have engaged BA, especially those who engage him and Revolution/ regularly, act differently and more defiantly and with greater direction and with greater influence when things do sharpen up and struggle breaks out—around the kinds of outrages we have seen this summer, around Trayvon, around abortion, around the environment, wars, and the horrific treatment of immigrants. And we have seen how, in the midst of these struggles, people are especially hungry for and open to BA and everything he represents and how this can help people take things further in the direction they need to go.

All this—and much, much more that still must be summed up and learned from, popularized, and built off of from this summer—is a glimpse of the difference BA Everywhere can make.

And all this is something to celebrate.

Further, I say it is right to celebrate because we are here today with each other, all of us people who refuse to accept that this is the best of all possible worlds, with others who share a commitment—whether it has been deepened over years or whether this is your first time at an event like this—to doing our part to open up a whole new and far better world. Such company and community is worth celebrating. As is the fact that celebrations like this are happening in cities around the country—and we are part of something together with all of them, something that carries the hopes of humanity everywhere.

And, finally, I call for celebration because we have big plans to build on all of this and to take it even further. To draw in the many hundreds we met over the summer, to find ways to involve everyone—big and small—to bring BA and the whole world that he opens up to many thousands, tens of thousands, and millions more. The BA Everywhere local committee has big plans—for a showing of REVOLUTION— NOTHING LESS! up here in Harlem at the Maysles Cinema on September 29, out in New Jersey soon, and other big plans. Check with the BA Everywhere table for the full calendar and to get involved. Find out about and join with big plans to bring this to the campuses, starting this Tuesday and continuing from there. There is something that everyone here can do—whether you have an hour a week or whether you can throw in for days at a time, or something in between. All of us have ideas and understanding to contribute, all of us can get into the content of this more deeply ourselves and share and spread what we are thinking about, all of us know how to reach somebody, or could be part of a team together with others taking this into places we've never been.

At a time when humanity so urgently cries out for fundamental, truly radical, actually revolutionary change—at a time when so many are struggling in the dark and taking up "solutions" that only land them back in the same situation they were yearning to break free from, at a time when the contradictions and crimes of this system are mounting every day with great cost for humanity, let us truly celebrate BA, the revolutionary leader, let us celebrate the campaign to raise big funds to get BA Everywhere and the huge difference this can make, and let us celebrate this gathering as we share in each other's company, step back and more deeply appreciate the truly liberating and uplifting campaign we have come together around, and as we make plans to take this forward and further—and not stop until all of humanity is free.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

No “Surgical Strike!”

August 30, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Spokespeople and apologists for the rulers of the U.S. claim that an advantage of a U.S. “surgical strike” against Syria, as opposed to a “boots on the ground” U.S. invasion, is that it would not endanger American lives—as if American lives are more important than other people’s lives. They are not.

They also portray this option as a clean and almost bloodless action that would score a direct hit at Syria’s rulers and military without causing a lot of civilian casualties. And while their analysts speculate and wring their hands over unpredictable consequences for the U.S. empire in the aftermath of such an attack, little if anything is said about how a “surgical strike” could produce or lead to a whole range of consequences that would greatly increase the suffering of the people of Syria and beyond.

In that light, a bit of history.

Check in at for news of protests before and in the event of a U.S. attack on Syria.

As part of systematically programmed historical amnesia in this country, two U.S. “surgical strikes” are largely unknown, or forgotten in public discourse. One took place in August 1998 when President Bill Clinton ordered an attack from the sky that destroyed a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. The other was the 1999 U.S. guided bomb attack that blew up the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia.

Pharmaceutical Plant in Sudan

After U.S. embassies were blown up in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, Clinton announced a strike against "military targets" supposedly associated with Osama bin Laden in the North African country of Sudan. On August 20 of that year, 16 U.S. cruise missiles struck one of those targets, which turned out to be a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan's capital, Khartoum.

Clinton claimed to have “convincing  information” that the plant had been used to manufacture chemical weapons. After the attack, news reports revealed that “Western engineers who had worked at the Sudan factory were asserting that it was, as Sudan claimed, a working pharmaceutical plant. Reporters visiting the ruined building saw bottles of medicine but no signs of security precautions and no obvious signs of a chemical weapons manufacturing operation.” (New York Times, October 27, 1999).

The attack wiped out a factory that produced and packaged about half of the medicines used in Sudan, an impoverished country, including veterinary medicine used to keep livestock healthy. It undoubtedly caused great suffering and death over the long term for people denied the medicines produced in the plant.

Aside from the immediate harm caused by the U.S. attack, a byproduct was further enhancing the status and perceived credibility of reactionary jihadist forces in North Africa and the Middle East.

The Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia

On May 7, 1999, in the context of U.S. involvement in the war in Yugoslavia, U.S.-guided precision bombs with coordinates provided by the CIA hit the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. The embassy staff had evacuated for reasons unrelated to this attack, but three Chinese journalists were killed.

The CIA, according to one official U.S. explanation, identified the building housing the Chinese embassy as a warehouse for a Yugoslav government agency suspected of arms proliferation activities. On that basis, the strike was approved by President Clinton. The U.S. later claimed that the CIA provided the military with out-of-date maps of Belgrade. Other U.S. official statements excused the attack because “the Chinese Embassy and a headquarters for a Yugoslav arms agency situated nearby look very similar: same size, shape and height.” (New York Times, May 10, 1999)

The attack set off demonstrations of tens of thousands in China and there were violent clashes between protesters and U.S. Marines guarding U.S. embassy buildings in China. Whether the U.S. missile attack was purposely directed at the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia to send a message to a rival and was passed off to the public as a “surgical strike” gone bad, or if indeed the U.S. was actually so reckless and unconcerned about who this “surgical strike” hit that they blew up the Chinese embassy by accident, in either case, the attack demonstrated utter disregard for the consequences and the lives of the targeted victims.


Click to read or download PDF of this pamphlet.

The point of these examples is not that the U.S. doesn’t have tremendous military capacity and the technical ability to hit targets around the world. The point is that all this is “guided” not by humanitarian concerns but driven by the needs of maintaining and enforcing a global empire. And in that context, all other considerations pale.

And here’s another point to grasp and act on: Even with their massive nuclear technology, the things the U.S. is driven to do around the world to maintain their empire have a price—in terms both of human life and suffering and also in setting off unexpected chain reactions with unpredictable and potentially far-reaching consequences.

All of which argues for, demands, and shows the potential for political protest in advance of, or in response to, any U.S. “surgical strike” against Syria. Especially when protest calls out these global mass murderers for what they are, it creates better conditions for another way—a real revolutionary alternative—to emerge as a force on the world stage.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

U.S. Declares:

"The Commander in Chief... Is... Responsible" for Crimes Committed by His Military Forces

September 2, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

As the full-court press for U.S. intervention in Syria unfolded, the New York Times (August 28, 2013) reported the following arguments from a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department justifying plans to launch military attacks on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad:

[E]ven without hard evidence tying Mr. Assad to the attack, administration officials asserted, the Syrian leader bears ultimate responsibility for the actions of his troops and should be held accountable.

"The commander in chief of any military is ultimately responsible for decisions made under their leadership," said the State Department's deputy spokeswoman, Marie Harf—even if, she added, "He's not the one who pushes the button or says 'go' on this." [our emphasis]

It's worth looking at this statement carefully. The U.S. frames its threats to attack Assad as an application of a universal principal, arguing that in any situation, the commander of the armed forces is responsible for whatever those armed forces do, even if he or she didn't directly order it, or didn't even know about it. So in Syria, according to this principle, even if the U.S. doesn't know or can't prove that Assad ordered the gas attack, the fact that his troops (allegedly) carried it out makes Assad responsible, makes him an international war criminal, and justifies U.S. military action to "punish" him, or to get rid of him altogether.

But if this is a universal principal, if it doesn't just apply to Syria but to "the commander in chief of any military" in the world, then don't we have to ask: "How does this apply to the commander in chief of the U.S.armed forces, that is, to the president of the United States?"

We are going to get into that in a bit, and we are going to bring out some very damning facts about the "ultimate responsibility" of U.S. presidents! But before we get to that, it's important to note that in the U.S. media, almost no one even asks that question, and for the U.S. population as a whole, most people do not notice that this question is not being asked.

In fact, the media, the education system, the religious institutions, and the endless political "debate" around elections, all train people to assume, without even thinking about it, that "bad actors," war criminals, tyrants, and despots are only to be found among the opponents of the United States, that "we" are "the good guys." People are trained to think that America's intentions are always good, "we are fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights," even though we sometimes "make mistakes." (Think about how the war in Iraq—a war plainly aimed at dominating a strategic region, its wealth and its people, and launched under cover of a hurricane of conscious lies—is always described in the media, even by its critics, as "a mistake," or based on "bad intelligence," never as a crime that cost hundreds of thousands of lives.)

And when atrocities, massacres, rapes, torture, and other crimes against humanity are exposed and linked to U.S. forces, and when the U.S. is unable to suppress such exposure and is forced to go through the motions of holding somebody responsible, every effort is made to put the blame on "bad intelligence," "corruption," and "rogue elements," and to go after low-level members of the political or military institutions involved, while making every effort to protect the commander in chief from any taint.

So is it any wonder that when the issue of "the ultimate responsibility of the commander in chief" for crimes against humanity comes up, the media does not touch, and most people do not consider, how that applies to American presidents?

But now let's put all that thinking (and really, non-thinking) aside, and seriously apply the principle advanced by the U.S. government to the U.S. government. When we do that we will see that every U.S. president, living or dead, has been "ultimately responsible" for massacres, coups, assassinations, rapes, tortures, atomic bombings and, yes, poison gas and biological weapons attacks carried out under their overall command!


1) Massacre of civilians, My Lai village, Vietnam, 1968. Part of the Americal Division, Charlie Company was ordered by its colonel to "go in there [My Lai] aggressively, close with the enemy and wipe them out for good." Before the attack, their captain told them: "They're all V.C. [Viet Cong], now go and get them ...Who is my enemy? Anybody that was running from us, hiding from us, or appeared to be the enemy."

Over the next two days, Charlie Company burned the village and crops, fouled the wells, and murdered between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians, including many women, children, and infants. Countless women were raped, tortured, and mutilated. Three soldiers who tried to stop the killing were later denounced as traitors by several U.S. Congressmen.

After a high-level effort to suppress news of the massacre failed, and in the face of massive world-wide outrage, the U.S. military charged and convicted... one lieutenant (William Calley). He was sentenced to life in prison, but served barely three years under house arrest.

Commander in chief for the My Lai Massacre: President Lyndon Johnson.


2) Iraq's Use of Poison Gas in the Iran-Iraq War

The U.S. claims it is horrified and is compelled to act because of Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons. So let's look at another infamous example—Iraq's use of poison gas in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. This was cited by the U.S. to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But in reality, a covert U.S. operation aided and abetted Iraq when it was using chemical weapons against Iranian forces and its own Kurdish population. (The U.S. at that time supported Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq against Iran.)

The New York Times (August 1, 2002) cited senior military officers with direct knowledge of a secret program under which U.S. officials "provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iraqi commanders would employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war.

"More than 60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq."

This program continued even when it became clear that the Iraqi military "had integrated chemical weapons throughout their arsenal and were adding them to strike plans that American advisers either prepared or suggested."

A DIA officer said the Pentagon "wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas. It was just another way of killing people—whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference."

Thousands of Iranians were slaughtered or crippled by Iraqi gas attacks.

Commander in chief overseeing use of poison gas: President Ronald Reagan.


3) Torture of Prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq, 2003-2004.

After the U.S. invaded Iraq, thousands of Iraqis, from suspected insurgents to people suspected of minor crimes, were held in the U.S. military's Abu Ghraib prison, where they were routinely abused by U.S. personnel. Prisoners were attacked by dogs, urinated on, made to pose naked for pictures in piles with smiling U.S. soldiers standing in front of them, and sometimes beaten to death.

When journalists exposed this, the U.S. government claimed it was a "rogue" operation that went against U.S. policy. But documents obtained by the Washington Post and the ACLU show that the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, authorized the use of military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, and sensory deprivation as interrogation methods in Abu Ghraib. And in this same period, the U.S. Attorney General commissioned the infamous "torture memos" that sought to legally justify torture in a variety of ways.

Again, compelled by massive outrage, the U.S. focused on lower-level people involved, while seeking to protect and distance the commander in chief from responsibility. Some people in mid-level command positions were demoted, while 11 soldiers (highest rank, sergeant) were convicted of various crimes.

Commander in chief for the Abu Ghraib Torture Operation—President George W. Bush.


4) Drone Attacks—Over the past decade, at least 2,000 people have been killed around the world by U.S. drone strikes. One of the most horrific was an attack on a religious seminary in Chenegai, Pakistan. On October 30, 2006, CIA drones flattened much of the school. Their target was reportedly the headmaster. Eighty civilians were killed, including 69 children.

Drone attacks have greatly escalated under President Obama; since he took office, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed, including more than 60 children. The U.S. claims that "most" people it kills are "terrorists," but one way that they do this is by declaring that any male of fighting age who is killed in a drone strike is by definition a terrorist unless it can be proven otherwise.

Commanders in chief for Drone Attacks: Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.


These are just four examples from the last 50 years, but we seriously challenge anyone to find a U.S. president in the last 150 years who does not have the blood of countless innocent people on his hands. We are confident that the more you try to find one, the more you will come to see that these leaders are themselves nothing but bloody-jawed beasts and gangsters with the blood of millions on their hands.

It is the capitalist-imperialist system itself, built on the oppression of billions around the world, that requires of its top leaders a willingness to slaughter innocent people in pursuit of the famous "U.S. strategic interests," and it is this system that needs to be done away with so that humanity can flourish. But it can be said of the various commanders in chief of U.S. forces, Democrats and Republicans, that they have all been fitting representatives and able executioners of the brutal and outmoded system that they extol and serve.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

Houston: No U.S. Strike on Syria!

September 2, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

On Saturday, August 31, in Houston, a contingent of revolutionaries marched into a protest opposing a U.S. attack on Syria. Led by a banner, BA Speaks: Revolution—Nothing Less!, we chanted: "Stop thinking like Americans. Humanity comes first. No U.S. Strike on Syria! That will make it worse! What's the only way out of this mess... Revolution, Nothing Less!"

This set a different tone to the protest. At this busy intersection by the Galleria shopping district, two sides were demonstrating on opposite sides of the street. On one side were people calling for no intervention by the U.S. Among them were some people from the Middle East, many youth, and people with various organizations, like the Green Party, ISO, anarchists, libertarians, and the peace movement. On the other side of the street were mostly people from Syria who oppose Assad, and were supporting U.S. military intervention to end the killing of their families. The police were out in force, from the mounted patrol, to the tactical unit, claiming to prevent clashes between the "two sides.

RNL palm cards and the Revolution article on Syria, Revolution newspaper (20 copies), and other literature, like the Manifesto [Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA], were distributed, as lively discussion broke out amid chants like "No War in Syria" and "Mr. Barack, we don't want another Iraq!" Many youth from outlying areas, organized through social media, came out, and approached the revolutionaries, hungry for information about the problem and solution to the situation.

At one point, after talking with some people about the gatherings on both sides, we decided to send part of our team over to distribute the Revolution article and talk with the people on the other side of the street to get this viewpoint out among them. The police had something else in mind. As soon as we reached the other side of the street and attempted to connect with people, we were assaulted and surrounded by a pack of cops who, in the name of preventing conflict, inflamed the situation, telling the people that we were against them, as they threatened us with arrest. Although a few, in response to the cops, yelled [for us to] go away and refused our fliers, several others took fliers and said that they wanted to hear what we had to say, before we were forced, with pig escort, back to the "other side."

When one of our team spoke at the rally, the whole group enthusiastically agreed that the U.S. is the biggest criminal on the planet, and most of them joined in with the chant that the revolutionaries originally marched in with. At the same time, many different viewpoints contended. Debate and discussion broke out about what the real problem is, why the solution is not to rely on this system, the role of the Congress, elections, and why communist revolution, how is that possible, and what kind of movement we need. One point from the Revolution article that captured people was on how we need to bring forward another way. Some of the Syrians spoke to how when the US gets involved, it is not for humanitarian reasons, and that neither of the sides fighting in Syria will bring about any positive change there. This all impacted and changed the terms, as many people later approached our team to talk and learn more about how to join with this movement for revolution.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

If Women Are Not Free, Then No One Is Free
Abortion Rights Freedom Ride: Summer 2013
Taking on the emergency of the war against women

September 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |

Downloadable poster version of
this article: PDF for print | JPG for web



Abortion Rights Freedom Ride Rally in downtown Chicago, July 30 2013.
Photo: Special to Revolution

After kickoff rallies in New York and San Francisco, the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride set out from both coasts to take the offensive and turn the tide against the nationwide reactionary assault on women’s right to abortion—the basic right that all women must have to determine whether or not to bear a child. With more than 300 measures introduced in states around the country so far this year, measures designed to further restrict abortion and shut down clinics; with 97 percent of rural counties having no abortion providers; with eight people already killed for their involvement in providing abortions, women’s reproductive freedom is in a state of extreme emergency.

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride brought together the contributions and active participation of people from many different perspectives, setting out to accomplish three aims as described by Sunsara Taylor and David Gunn, Jr.*:

“, we must move beyond localized fights and launch a national counter-offensive;

“two, we must radically reset the political, moral, and ideological terms of this fight so that millions understand that this fight is about women’s liberation or women’s enslavement;

“lastly, and of paramount importance, we must call forth the mass independent political resistance that is necessary to defeat this war on women.”

* David Gunn, Jr.’s father was an abortion provider who was murdered by an anti-abortion fanatic in 1993.

Above: The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, together with local abortion supporters and members of Minnesota National Organization for Women, holds a rally on August 3 in Fargo, North Dakota. A court injunction allowed the last clinic in the state to remain open for now. Photo: Special to Revolution

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride traveled to many states—including North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Arkansas, and Mississippi, each of which has only one abortion clinic remaining—defending the clinics and providers, protesting against new laws that would bring draconian restrictions on abortion, and spreading the message of “Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” and “Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement.”

The bold and uncompromising stand of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, standing up in the face of rabid anti-abortion fanatics, and unapologetically putting forward their demands, was a challenge to some who support the right to abortion but have become defensive and in some cases refuse to even say the word abortion, allowing those who would drive women back into the Dark Ages to act like they are the ones who have morality on their side.

The fight to defend abortion has everything to do with breaking with the notion that women’s essential role is as breeders of children—fighting for women to be viewed and treated as full and equal human beings. And this has everything to do with ending all oppression and exploitation through communist revolution to bring about a truly liberated society and world for all of humanity.

Minneapolis, August 1.
Photo: Special to Revolution

Protest against gang rape in New Delhi, India, December 2012.
Photo: AP

“But the question must be asked, ‘Why is abortion so controversial?’ It is a safe, common, medical procedure that absolutely is NOT killing a baby and is totally a moral decision for a woman to make, so WHY is it controversial?

“The reason that abortion is controversial is because we live in a society where women, despite the pronouncements of ‘equality achieved’ and advances made, are NOT viewed or treated as full human beings. We live in a society where women are socialized to find their worth in being attractive and useful to men, where men are socialized to view women as objects of sexual service or domestic care, where the cult of motherhood (the idea that women’s highest achievement and duty in life is to bear and rear children) is alive and aggressively reasserting itself and where violence and disrespect against women is omnipresent and escalating. We live in a society, like all societies divided into classes before it, that requires patriarchy (that is, the systematic domination of women by men—including the control over women’s reproduction, sexuality, and childbearing in particular) for its overall functioning. This society requires this kind of control over women and their reproduction in order to maintain property and inheritance lines, social position, and the distribution of wealth from one generation to the next, in this world where some possess obscene wealth while others scrape and starve and watch their children die by the millions of preventable disease. We live in a society which gives rise to and fosters and encourages the most vicious exploitation and oppression and degradation and humiliation of women.” (From “Where Does this War Against Women Come From? Why is it so Vicious? Real Revolution Could Not Come a Minute too Soon!” by Sunsara Taylor, initiator of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.)

A rally in front of the clinic in Jackson—last remaining clinic providing abortions to women in all of Mississippi.
Photo: Special to Revolution

“I sat down with the director of Jackson Women’s Health Organization.... She told me about her patients. About 80% of them are Black women, many of them travel from long distances, only about a third of them have a partner with them (some have a relative or friend, others come alone), and many of them are very young. Her voice filled with emotion when she told me about the 14-year-old who was brought in recently by her 27-year-old mother. The mother had only been 13 when she had her child and was determined not to see her daughter put through the same hardship. The director told of other women who have to bus in from the surrounding area, of all the degradation they have to go through to come up with the funds not only for the abortion but also for travel. She told of the mandatory waiting period of 24 hours and how many women cannot afford even a cheap motel and don’t have anywhere to spend the night.

“She got visibly, and quite righteously, angry when discussing the anti-abortion protesters who surround her clinic and harass her patients every single day. We had experienced this ourselves in the past 24 hours, being told that we don’t ‘deserve to have children,’ that we ‘should have our uteruses ripped out,’ that ‘women should not be allowed to vote,’ and, of course, called all sorts of vicious and woman-hating epithets.” (From “Some Thoughts on Our Time in Mississippi, on the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, and Looking Forward” by Sunsara Taylor.)

New York City, at the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride send-off rally.
Photo: Bud Korotzer

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride traveled to Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. George Tiller, one of very few doctors who still performed late-term abortions, was shot and killed by an anti-abortion assassin on May 31, 2009.

“What we learned here, and through the rest of our experiences in Wichita and in other places along this Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, revealed to us not only how much there needs to be a voice out there very loudly proclaiming that Fetuses are NOT babies, Abortion is NOT murder, and Women are NOT incubators and insisting on Abortion on Demand and Without Apology! But also how much there needs to be a fight to raise the sights of women and very young girls to more than simply having a baby as the only way of getting respect or love. There is just so much human potential in these women and young girls that is being squandered—and all of society is suffering for this. There is an urgent need NOW for a growing movement for revolution, and—at the soonest possible time—an actual successful revolution, to bring about a society and world where women and young girls are truly thinking about and contributing to every realm of human endeavor together fully and equally with men. Not only do women need the unfettered right to abortion, not only do they need to hear the message of this Freedom Ride, not only do they need a massive struggle throughout society to defeat the war on women—they need their fury unleashed and their many talents and contributions tapped as a mighty force in changing the whole world and in making the kind of revolution that can emancipate humanity.” (From “A Day in a Mall in Wichita” by Sunsara Taylor.)

(To learn more about why fetuses are NOT babies, see: “What Is an Abortion and Why Women Must Have the Right to Choose” and “A Fetus Is Not a Baby! Abortion on Demand and Without Apology” on To get further into the revolution that is needed to liberate women and emancipate all humanity, see A Declaration: For Women’s Liberation and the Emancipation of All Humanity, also on

“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.”

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the
Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
BAsics 3:22


Get connected—and stay connected. The future is in our hands.





Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

A Message from Susan Brownmiller to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride—Read at Abortion Rights Rally, August 17, 2013 in Jackson, MS

September 3, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | wants to share with its readers a variety of voices that are making important contributions in the struggle for abortion rights. Susan Brownmiller has given permission to to reprint this statement.

Susan Brownmiller is the author of Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape and In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution.


Greetings to the Abortion Caravan in Jackson. I am a survivor of three illegal abortions in 1960s, for which I needed to travel to Cuba and Puerto Rico because Roe v. Wade, the great Supreme Court ruling that affirmed women's rights, did not become the law of the land until the following decade.

Honor your feminist predecessors who led the fight for legalization. Honor their speakouts and disruptions of legislative hearings in those militant years. Honor their slogans "Abortion is a women's right" and "Free Abortion on Demand" that you have resurrected today.

Honor Nancy Stearns, who devised the strategy of class-action lawsuits in 30 states with thousands of complainants.

Honor the Chicago activists who called themselves "Jane" and began performing abortions themselves.

Honor the Los Angeles activists Carol Downer and Lorraine Rothman who perfected a vacuum aspiration technique they called "menstrual extraction".

Honor the Women's Liberation Center of Austin, Texas that reached out to two young Texas lawyers, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee. Honor Weddington and Coffee who filed the single-plaintiff suit, Roe v. Wade, that the Supreme Court finally ruled on in January 1973, in a 7 to 2 decision.

You are standing on the shoulders of remarkable women who never expected their amazing work could become undone a few decades later by evil coalitions of reactionary forces. The battle is now yours to fight and win again.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

Statement from Mark Ruffalo: Sent to the Abortion Rights Rally, Jackson MS, Sat. August 17, 2013

September 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On the eve of the national rally on August 17 at the Jackson Women's Health Organization, the only remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi, the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride received the following statement from actor Mark Ruffalo which was read at the rally.



I am a man. I could say this has nothing to do with me. Except I have two daughters and I have a mother who was forced to illegally have an abortion in her state where abortion was illegal when she was a very young woman. It cost $600 cash. It was a traumatizing thing for her. It was shameful and sleazy and demeaning. When I heard the story I was aghast by the lowliness of a society that would make a woman do that. I could not understand its lack of humanity; today is no different.

What happened to my mother was a relic of an America that was not free nor equal nor very kind. My mother’s illegal abortion marked a time in America that we have worked long and hard to leave behind. It was a time when women were seen as second rate citizens who were not smart enough, nor responsible enough, nor capable enough to make decisions about their lives. It was a time that deserved to be left behind, and leave it behind we did, or so it seemed. We made abortion and a woman’s ability to be her own master a Right. That Right was codified into law. That law was the law of the land for decades. My own mother fought to make herself more than a possession; she lived her life as a mother who chose when she would have children, and a wife who could earn a living if she so chose. I want my daughters to enjoy that same choice. I don’t want to turn back the hands of time to when women shuttled across state lines in the thick of night to resolve an unwanted pregnancy, in a cheap hotel room just south of the state line. Where a transaction of $600 cash becomes the worth of a young woman’s life. So that is why I am lending my voice to you and your movement today. Because I actually trust the women I know. I trust them with their choices, I trust them with their bodies and I trust them with their children. I trust that they are decent enough and wise enough and worthy enough to carry the right of Abortion and not be forced to criminally exercise that Right at the risk of death or jail time.

There was no mistake us making Abortion legal and available on demand. That was what we call progress. Just like it was no mistake that we abolished institutional racism in this country around the same time. The easy thing to do is lay low, but then are we who we say we are? Do we actually stand for anything, if what we do stand for is under attack and we say nothing? There is nothing to be ashamed of here except to allow a radical and recessive group of people to bully and intimidate our mothers and sisters and daughters for exercising their right of choice. Or use terrorism and fanaticism to block their legal rights or take the lives of their caregivers. Or design legislation that would chip away at those rights disguised as reinforcing a woman’s health. I invite you to find your voice and let it be known that you stand for abortion rights and the dignity of a woman to be the master of her own life and body. I invite you to search your soul and ask yourself if you actually stand for what you say you stand for. Thank you for being here today and thank you for standing up for the women in my life.

Sincerely and humbly,
Mark Ruffalo




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

Gloria Steinem Sends Statement of Support to Abortion Rights Freedom Riders

September 4, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | wants to share with its readers a variety of voices that are making important contributions in the struggle for abortion rights. The following statement was sent by Gloria Steinem to the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride and read at the rally in Jackson, Mississippi, August 17, 2013. She has given permission to to reprint it.


"We live in a world in which inanimate property is better protected by law than is the human body, and crossing a national boundary is more likely to be punished than bodily invasion. The long struggle against chattel, sex and labor slavery are all part of giving each human being the right to bodily integrity.

"Women's bodies are the front lines of this struggle because we are the means of reproduction. Without controlling women's bodies, it's not possible to continue divisions of race and class and to produce cheap labor.

"I say this to thank the Freedom Riders in Little Rock for protecting the only clinic in Arkansas — and in Jackson, the only clinic in Mississippi — that supports women's reproductive freedom .If women can't decide the fate of our bodies from the skin in, we can't control our lives from the skin out. Reproductive justice is the single greatest determinant of whether we are healthy or not, educated or not, in the paid labor force or not, and how long she lives. Involuntary pregnancy is the most intimate form of involuntary servitude, and the right to give birth is a human right. The power of state stops at our skins. I thank you for being Freedom Riders for reproductive freedom."

Gloria Steinem




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

David Gunn, Jr.: "I use the truth as my guiding principle and strategy..."

September 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper | wants to share with its readers a variety of voices that are making important contributions in the struggle for abortion rights. The authors have given permission to to reprint their posts.

David Gunn, Jr. is the son of David Gunn, Sr., the first abortion doctor to be assassinated by an anti-abortion gunman. He blogs for and is a signer of the statement Abortion on Demand & Without Apology and an organizer of the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride.


I was recently asked the following question by a friend and fellow activist. I shared my answer to the question with Sunsara Taylor who asked that we make it available to a broader audience...

My response:

In simplest terms, I use the truth as my guiding principle and strategy. If our goal, and I think it is, is to protect and provide safe abortion services to women nationwide when their particular causes and conditions necessitate the service, I do not think talking openly and honestly about a perfectly legal medical procedure which has been practiced for years with little risk to the patient in a manner that is clear and concise is at all radical or fanatical as some would cast it.

David Gunn Jr, son of the first of eight abortion providers who have been murdered by anti-abortion assassins, speaks at the August 17 rally to defend the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic. Photo: Special to Revolution

"Abortion on Demand and Without Apology" is empowering, clearly states what it is you support, and does not connote shame in any way.

Some consider the slogan radical. Some say it is too confrontational. I ask, how is it radical to state what you believe, and, also, why is it controversial or confrontational to support a perfectly legal medical decision which a woman makes after consulting with herself first, her higher power—if she believes in one, her doctor, and her partner? There may be another slogan which accomplishes the same truth, but it seems to me too many on our side are scared to say abortion as if it is Lord Voldemort or Sauron, or Satan, or some other metaphysical mythological cursed deity.

On the other hand, I do not support, and have never supported, the slogan "safe, legal, and rare" because it implies, somehow, abortions are not safe, are something to be ashamed about having undergone, and are questionably legal in some offhand way. The question becomes, on whose terms do we decide rarity in that context—the anti-abortionists', the patients', the government's; there are too many variables. I also abhor NARAL having changed its name from National Abortion Rights Action League to simply "Pro-Choice NARAL" as if that is to say they are for choice but not abortion. When you say you are pro-choice it means you support abortion, period, correct?

Even if one is personally against abortion or would not elect that option, if you are pro-choice you support a woman's right to choose abortion which means you support abortion. It does not mean you go out and recruit people to have abortions, it does not mean you are some sort of monster, it simply means you support a woman's constitutionally protected right to have an abortion—regardless of whether or not you would have one yourself.

The point is, we support abortion as a medical procedure. so why hide it in some semantical gymnastic handspring by equating Choice with Abortion but using the former to camouflage the latter! Where we have gone wrong, in my opinion, is playing some semantical hide the nutshell game where we talk all around what it is we support but are too ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to plainly state "I support abortion rights without restriction." Why we continue to debate this issue on the antis' terms is beyond me and is offensive. We allow them to own "life" while we adopt the shame they try to instill about a legal medical procedure we all support. If we are ashamed to use the word abortion, how does that make patients, providers, and clinic staff feel? Do they feel empowered and proud of the valuable work they do? Or are they deep down shamed by having to dance around what it is they do? If we spoke openly, honestly, and consistently—and that is important—about our unequivocal support for abortion, would that attitude change? Would it result in less guilt? If we are ashamed to honestly state what we believe in, how do we ever expect to build a truly national movement to counter theirs?

I know each locality has its own quirks and nuances. Yet, we have to start viewing this from the prism of combating a national coordinated attack on women by a bunch of fucking terrorists—excuse me, but I'm pretty passionate on that point—who do kill people and shed real blood.

As I've written on another post, I consistently ask myself WWDD (what would dad do?). His example is my answer: he confronted the antis at one of the clinics where he worked on 1/22/93—or about two months before he was assassinated—and sang "Happy Birthday to You Roe v. Wade." He then played them Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down." He was unapologetic about what he did, was proud of the service he provided, and courageous for his actions in the face of the wanted posters carrying his name and schedule posted all over the Southeast, the constant stalking, and daily protests at his workplaces (dad worked in six clinics in three states and hit each one weekly living in a suitcase). He was honest about the job he did, was unashamed of the service he provided, and was absolutely dedicated to providing abortions to women who needed them when they needed them and under the circumstances in which they needed them. I believe Dr. Tiller shared that passion and drive and it is why he carried on after Shelley Shannon attempted to kill him in 1994 (or so if memory serves).

Don't we owe it to the fallen in this war to be honest about what we are fighting for? I did not mean to get all lengthy on you, but I hope I answered your question. I feel I did and did so honestly. I Support Abortion Services! Perhaps that's better sloganeering than Abortion on Demand and Without Apology; yet, if you elect to have the procedure due to your individual causes and conditions and your doctor feels it is correct, what is there to be ashamed of but someone else's twisted morality we internalize? Aren't they (antis), then, the ones to be ashamed for woman shaming and verbal abuse? In actuality, they cause more feelings of guilt than the procedure especially if the patient is religious. In the end, they are the only ones with innocent blood on their hands, hate in their heart, and misogyny in their minds.

The last 20 years illustrate a need to honestly and vociferously call out their demeaning agenda, and we should proudly state our support for abortion en masse and often. Nothing fanatical there... again, sorry for the book. It's time, though, to fight back and do so publicly in large numbers because we outnumber them 3:1. Love, to you my friend. Hope my 3:30 ramblings are sensible and coherent.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

From the blog:

What's wrong with a 20-wk ban on abortion:
"Because I love and care for the health of women..."

By MaryLou Singleton | August 22, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Following is the transcript of the speech by MaryLou Singleton, women's healthcare provider, and signer on the statement for Abortion on Demand & Without Apology, delivered at the August 20, 2013 rally in Albuquerque NM to protest Operation Rescue. We're reprinting this because of its clear and extremely helpful explanation on the dangers of a 20-week ban on abortion. As of now, 8 states have passed laws which ban abortions at 20 weeks.

"I want to thank all of you who have shown up today in support of women, health care providers and the Jewish community. I'm speaking today as a women's healthcare provider and as a person who was raised in the anti-choice movement. My parents were the co-chairs of Pennsylvanians for Human Life and worked tirelessly to take the legal right to choose abortion away from American women. My sister was a member of Operation Rescue. I know the arguments of the anti-choice side forward and backward because their talking points were the daily discourse in my home while growing up. Like the teenagers who came to our town and bullied women at clinics, harassed our Holocaust museum, and terrorized a doctor's family in their private residence, as a child I too believed what my parents and other authority figures told me about abortion.

Then I grew up. And I became a midwife. And I began to fully understand the complicated reality of actual women's lives. Over one-third of the women I served as a midwife had at some point made the decision to have an abortion. And they all had very good reasons for making these choices. And they obviously weren't murderers. They were loving, compassionate, intelligent people who had made the appropriate choice for themselves and their families.

Because I love and care for the health of women, I want to talk to you about abortion. I want to explain to you that the ballot measure being pushed on our town by out-of-state religious extremists will hurt women's lives. This measure is being billed as a referendum on "late-term abortion" but any woman who has been pregnant can tell you that 20 weeks into a pregnancy is by no means "late term." Twenty weeks is the middle of pregnancy, which lasts an average of 40 weeks. Twenty weeks is also the point in pregnancy when women carrying fetuses with problems often begin to get very sick, because sick pregnancies frequently result in very sick mothers. Some of these women become so sick, it becomes necessary to end the pregnancy to save their lives. If this ballot measure passes, women will be forced to continue these potentially life-threatening pregnancies.

Twenty weeks is also the point in pregnancy where it becomes possible to diagnose severe and often lethal birth defects. On multiple occasions, I have been the midwife for a woman who has just found out that her very wanted baby is missing a brain, or kidneys, or lungs and will not survive for more than a few minutes outside of the womb. I have sat with and comforted these women as they made the agonizing decision of what to do in such horrible circumstances. While every woman's choice may be different, I can say from deep within my heart that no one has the right to make this choice but the woman carrying the pregnancy.

If this ballot initiative passes, our city will have decided that we will force these women to carry pregnancies which will inevitably end in heartbreak and tragedy for up to another five months. We will see cases like the one in El Salvador last spring, where a woman with lupus who was carrying a baby without a brain was denied an abortion even though the pregnancy was causing her to go into kidney failure. Like the ballot measure being pushed on our town, the law in El Salvador states that physicians must work just as hard to save the life of the fetus as the life of the mother, even in cases where it is known that the baby will die immediately after birth.

This ballot measure would endanger women's lives in ways that should terrify even women who believe they personally would never choose an abortion. If the measure passes, women will be denied life-saving care if they are miscarrying after 20 weeks and the fetus still has a heartbeat. What this means is that women will die. The world witnessed just such a death last year when a 31-year-old dentist in Ireland died because the country's laws which were similar to this ballot measure forbade doctors from intervening when she was miscarrying. If this ballot measure passes, women could also be denied chemotherapy and radiation should they be diagnosed with cancer more than 20 weeks into a pregnancy. Last year a pregnant teenager in the Dominican Republic, another Catholic country that bans all abortion, died of leukemia after being denied cancer treatment on the grounds that it would harm the fetus she was carrying. These laws are horrific.

I ask all of you to work together to defeat this ballot measure and protect the lives of women. Medical decisions should not be made in the voting booth."




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

Report from the Abortion Rights Freedom Ride's Culminating Rally at the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi

September 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From an Abortion Rights Freedom Rider and college student:

Outside the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi, August 17, 2013. Photo:

The Abortion Rights Freedom Ride, along with Jackson Women's Health Organization (JWHO), Mississippi NOW, Wake Up Mississippi! and the Hell No Campaign culminated together to hold a rally on August 17 outside Mississippi's lone abortion clinic, JWHO, for abortion on demand and without apology! This rally brought light to the only abortion clinic left in the whole state of Mississippi, which is open due to a federal judge temporarily blocking a law that would eventually force the clinic to shut down. The law requires every abortion provider to have privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. This is totally medically unnecessary! The clinic's abortion providers have previously been rejected by local hospitals, so they will not be able to meet this requirement. The judge's block on the enforcement of this law is a TEMPORARY block, which means this threat looming over the clinic's fate and the fate of women in Mississippi is still present. The Freedom Riders emphasized that this is not only a local fight within Mississippi. There is a never-ending assault on abortion rights across this country and there are four other states that have only one abortion clinic left. Members from each group spoke on these laws and restrictions after months of fighting against Mississippi's legislature on abortion access. Laurie Roberts, president of Mississippi NOW, encouraged everyone to keep fighting against these laws before "women will die and we will lose a constitutional right. In Mississippi, guns are more protected than your uterus."

Rally at Jackson Women's Health Organization in Mississippi, August 17, 2013.

Along with the unapologetic groups of Mississippi supporters, there were clinic defenders and supporters that traveled from Louisville, Kentucky and Houston, Texas for this rally. [Freedom Rider] Alex read statements from Sikivu Hutchinson, Gloria Steinem, Eve Ensler, actor Mark Ruffalo, and others. Mark Ruffalo's statement revealed that his own mother had an illegal abortion at a time when women were viewed as "second rate citizens" and "where a transaction of $600 cash becomes the worth of a young woman's life." Sunsara and Alex, both Abortion Rights Freedom Riders, spoke of the nationwide restrictions on reproductive rights and how this is rooted in a patriarchal system that views women as property and, ultimately, whose reproductive systems and social roles should be controlled and determined for them. This is bigger than just limited reproductive rights. This is a system that oppresses and exploits those this system deems as inferior. We see this every day from Black and Hispanic youth being wrongly arrested or killed, women constantly being objectified in every aspect of this society, and the simultaneous crimes of harassment and rape that women face every day in society, which women are then blamed for by "bringing it on to themselves" by the clothes they wear or what time of night or day they walk in public. There will be no law or new politician elected into office that will bring these attacks on reproductive rights, human rights, or women's rights to a complete halt. We MUST rely on ourselves to bring change and educate others on the constant assaults on our rights as human beings.

With all of that being said and with the courageous words from our supporters' statements, the rally moved to the front of the cheery, bright pink clinic, where clinic defenders, community supporters, clinic staff, and the Abortion Rights Freedom Riders all chanted: "Without this basic right, women can't be free. Abortion on demand and without apology," and "Break the chains, break, break the chains, if women don't have rights, we are nothing but slaves," and "No more lives of women broken, THIS clinic stays open!... Get off the couch and into motion. This clinic stays open!"





Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

"I've seen the face of a pre-Roe v. Wade world, it isn't pretty..."

by Bree Ervin | September 1, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following letter was sent to the Stop Patriarchy and is reprinted here with permission from Bree Ervin. Bree Ervin is a sexual health educator who works with adolescents and college students. She is a signer to the statement for Abortion on Demand & Without Apology.


I went to a high school in rural Colorado. The nearest abortion provider was 4½ hours away.

There was no women's clinic. We had to go to the regular family practitioners or the small local hospital for our services.

Patient/doctor confidentiality was routinely violated so that girls who got on birth control were slut-shamed at school the next day, teased and considered "open for business." My school was also one of the early adopters of abstinence-only sex education. (1993-1996).

One of my classmates was suspended for bringing a condom into sex-ed class!

Meanwhile, at the time that I was there, this town experienced the highest teen pregnancy rate in the continental USA!

Each year, over 10% of the girls at my school got pregnant...

Because of the lack of services for girls, and the lack of information provided to them about reducing their risk, these girls were left with tough choices.

I had more than one friend end up in the hospital recovering from serious injuries as a result of their attempts to end their pregnancies.

One friend's boyfriend beat her until she miscarried. One friend tried drinking bleach—she had heard it would end a pregnancy. It didn't, but it did almost take HER life.

Another friend tried the "coat hanger trick," thinking if it was "good enough" for our grandmothers, it was good enough for her. She punctured her uterus and will never be able to have children.

Many of my friends were thrown out of their homes and forced onto the streets, or into marriages with boys who became abusive because they resented being tied down by their "slut" girlfriends/wives. (Part of our abstinence-only education taught the boys that only sluts got pregnant, thus letting the fathers off the hook morally.)

Some of the girls who were forced to carry their pregnancies to term were also bullied into giving their children up for adoption—told that they weren't good enough to raise their own children. They are still haunted by this idea of personal worthlessness.

Many of the girls who carried to term and kept their children are still living in poverty, 20 years later, or are just now beginning to dig their way free, now that their children have become adults.

Many were trapped in abusive relationships for years until they found the strength, courage and support to leave.

Of the 24 girls who got pregnant my sophomore year, only two were able to raise the funds and take the time to travel to an abortion provider to get a safe, legal abortion. Of all of those girls, those two are doing the best now.

Even the ones who happily chose to carry to term may not have had to make that choice if they had had the information to prevent those pregnancies in the first place. Women need and deserve information—and access—without apology. And we shouldn't have to demand it, but we will if we must.

I've seen the face of a pre-Roe v. Wade world. It isn't pretty, and I won't go back.




Revolution #315 Extra September 2, 2013

From A World to Win News Service

Brazil: Huge protests and illusions of capitalist development

August 29, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


August 19, 2013. A World to Win News Service
by AWTWNS correspondents in Latin America.

Like a welcome fresh gust of wind, Brazilians took to the streets in large numbers during the month of June in a way that hadn't been seen in 20 years. The protests came to a peak on June 22, when in Rio alone 100,000 people joined the upsurge, while more than a million total were counted in about one hundred different cities and towns across the country.

Youth from the Movimento Passe Livre (movement for free public transport) accelerated protests back in March in various parts of the country to demand a reduction of public transport fares, at times with the slogan "Tarifa Zero" (Zero Fare). São Paulo, the country's economic hub of 11 million people, was the site of the first large protest on June 6, in the elegant central bank district of Avenida Paulista. Police tried to stop the demonstrations with repression, using rubber bullets, gas, and clubs, and detaining some of the participants. The frustration of many people over the 20 cent hike for both bus and metro transport quickly moved towards a questioning of the billions of dollars being spent on the upcoming soccer World Cup in 2014 while large numbers of people struggle just to survive. The movement grew rapidly and the thousands turned into hundreds of thousands, broadening to resentment over police violence and government corruption.

In the beginning mainly youth demonstrated, but as the protests grew in size, they drew in older people as well. The majority who participated in the marches and meetings were from the middle classes, but more oppressed sections of the people also joined in. This social mix of people from different classes made clear to the youth the connection between police brutality in the demonstrations and the systematic repression by the military police that has been intensified for years against the oppressed in the favelas (shantytowns in Brazilian cities). Although the fare increase kicked off the June protest movement—people earning minimum wage already had to pay a big chunk of their 700 RS$ salary (about $340) to get to and from work—other problems such as access to good health care and public services, as well as the violent response of the police who killed several demonstrators during the month, and the widening gap between rich and poor became part of their demands and some began to question on some level the whole system they had lost faith in.

The protests ruptured the apparent social harmony and the supposed agreement of the people with the government, putting on the table that in Brazil, as in so many other countries dominated by imperialism, the masses carry the weight on their shoulders of keeping a parasitic minority that feeds on their blood and sweat, a tiny group that appropriates the general wealth of the labor of millions. Many people in Brazil consider that the demonstrations showed that the time had come to say Basta! and to express their discontent with the current order of things.

Over the past months leading up to the upsurge of mass protest, the ruling class had unleashed repressive attacks, detaining, beating, and torturing hundreds of demonstrators and charging them with crimes. The "disappearance" of Amarildo de Souza one month ago is very telling. He was a construction worker living in the Rocinha favela in Rio who has not been heard from since he was seen entering the station of the Pacification Police Unit (Unidade Policial de Pacificacao, UPP). Since June, several smaller protests have been organized under the banner, "Where is Amarildo?," denouncing state repression, including the targeting of black and indigenous people in particular. The state created these special forces a few years ago in order to take back control of the favelas from drug dealers, yet in reality they have systematically criminalized the poorest masses living there. (Human Rights Watch has denounced what they say are more than 11,000 homicides carried out by police between 2003-2009 alone.) The violence, the deaths and the disappearances have generated a growing hatred of the different police forces and have unmasked to a certain extent the nature of the state and the government.

Some people report that there are thousands of "Amarildos" and so have shouted, "The police who repress in the streets are the same ones killing the youth in the favelas!" Mainly it is the lowest section of society condemned to live in ghettos that regularly faces the repression. Some among the people came to recognize that the police repression in the favelas is not fundamentally for combating organized drug crime, but rather is part of the containment of a potentially rebellious sector that could destabilize the state. And from the initial resistance among the oppressed, the rulers may have some reason to worry.

Long before the protests broke out, the state had already scheduled and paid big money for administering a mass dose of sleeping medicine to young Catholics who came from all over Latin America (and the world) to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day and to see the new pope last month. This display was meant to bolster the church as well as the state and to brighten and "purify" the face of a society known worldwide to be violent, in preparation for the coming world sport events. The pope spent a week in Rio, blessing the poor in the favelas and staging a gigantic rally on Copacabana Beach. Although the huge June demonstrations had wound down significantly by that time, various feminist groups, LGBT, and intellectuals protested against the intervention of the church in a secular state, as well as against the pope's opposition to abortion and homosexuality. They also targeted recent reactionary laws making abortion illegal and the "bolsa estupro," a fund to compensate rape victims so that they won't abort.

The role of the Partido dos Trabalhadores in the government

In January 2003, the Worker's Party—Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT)—took control of the government when Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva was elected president, coming to power on a reformist and social democratic platform. The PT had pulled together back in the early 1980s various professional associations and trade unions that had moved away from Marxism and communist ideas while maintaining a socialist face. Appealing to the people on the basis of a socialist and seemingly racial equality "socialist" discourse, the PT tried to bring the whole left under its wing, including the Partido Comunista do Brasil. The PCdoB of today arose out of a split within the original Partido Comunista do Brasil in 1962 during the struggle in the international communist movement between the Soviet Union and China, taking a position opposing Khrushchev. They launched a guerrilla war in 1971 and, after heavy losses in the leadership in 1975, stopped the armed struggle and abandoned any pretence of Maoism in favor of a more openly reformist approach. Today the PCdoB occupies positions in the PT government and continues to refer to itself as Marxist-Leninist. Thus in 2003, leaders of different "people's" political organizations joined the government and began to occupy important positions, with the effect of attenuating the struggle of the people against the state. Lula's rise to stardom came about thanks to his party absorbing the people's demands for more democracy and the questioning of the social order, while building itself as a force capable of taking the lead in meeting the needs of the ruling class and of imperialism.

In this framework the promises for a more democratic and egalitarian society by the government have been welcomed by a section of the people, especially by the middle classes, whose numbers and standard of living have both increased over the past decade.

The language of social democracy goes hand in hand with the deepening of imperialist domination and with the fuller integration of Brazil into the capitalist-imperialist system. For example, vast stretches of Brazilian land have been turned over to export production, while basic food crops are grown less and less often. The Brazilian government has been stepping up efforts to attract foreign investment as a good destination for capitalist-imperialist capital. To the extent that capitalism tightens and transforms its grip over various sectors of the economy, the suffering of poorer sections of the people worsens, while social policies have served as a palliative. However, this process has limits and the illusions of the petty bourgeoisie are disappearing as their social and economic ascent has slowed down. This situation has led to the disgruntlement and mobilization of these strata, mostly around the demand that the government fulfill its promises.

Accelerating urbanization in a wide range of oppressed countries has been pushed forward by the workings of capital itself. Rural land use has changed to prioritize crops for the production of biofuels in Brazil. Such crops often require a smaller labor force and peasants are displaced towards the cities. On the one hand, this change in land use generates the shrinking capacity for food production, raising the price of basic foodstuffs and, on the other hand, it results in a larger number of urban consumers.

At the same time as it carried out a repressive rampage against the protesters, in the face of growing anger the state rescinded the transport fare increase and promised to take into account their demands. In addition, the reformist left in power argued that the demonstrations were only playing into the hands of the rightist parties, in an effort to destabilize and de-legitimize the revolutionary process it says the PT is leading. Using twisted logic, they tried to show that the demonstrations were basically fuelled by the right and by Yankee imperialism. This facilitates the reformists' aims of stopping more people, including from among their base, from joining the protest movement. While spreading these rumors and arguments, the PT and PCdoB parties try to channel and co-opt the struggles in such a way as to incorporate them into their structures, recognizing some of the demands as just. As if that weren't enough, in the height of cynicism they proclaim that these demonstrations are really the result of the democratic process begun when Lula took power, since he is seen to have educated the people politically and to have broadened democratic freedoms.

This type of strategy is frequently used by other reformist and social democratic governments in the region such as Venezuela, Ecuador, or Argentina in order to justify repression and control popular discontent that threatens to spread.

The de-legitimization of the PT government and traditional and reformist parties

In rejecting the harmful role that organizations calling themselves socialist, communist, and "people's parties" have played for decades, but in fact have been vehicles for imperialism and serve its interests, a section of the people have promoted the idea of a movement without parties, without leadership or a leading structure.

This idea has been accepted by many youth who are trying to break away from the control of the reformist parties and to build an independent people's movement. This righteous intention has led to arguments for a different, "horizontal" form of organization without leadership, in which the collective consensus determines everything. While many within the popular movement in Brazil are not aiming to totally transform the capitalist system, some people within are asking how it is possible to fight a highly structured social system without organization, leadership, and a clear program. Bitter experiences of the people have shown that there is a material need for organizing themselves, for taking in political and ideological nourishment both from the struggle of the people and from the synthesis of communism.

What is certain is that the people can never free themselves and break away from the chains of imperialism under the leadership of the PT and the PCdoB or any other reformist party. Because of their nature and the class interests they defend, these parties promote illusions in bourgeois democracy and orient the people's struggle towards electoral ends. These kinds of strategies do little more than make minor changes so that things remain the same (or sometimes get worse). At no time and in no country has a reformist conception such as this succeeded in radically transforming society, but has served simply to maintain the bourgeoisie's control, containing popular uprisings and sowing confusion by putting up a social and democratic facade.

The current movement is encountering the effects of illusions about democracy and the state. For example, some people demanded the demilitarization of the police and demanded that it defend the interests of the people. This case makes plain the confusion that exists over the class character of the state that fundamentally protects the interests of the ruling class.

Other sections of the movement are trying to focus the struggle on getting rid of individual authorities such as the state governors of Rio and São Paulo. In accordance with the wrong idea that the people's problems are due to corruption of certain individuals, the demand to sack them has become popular and the focus of several smaller demonstrations since June, particularly in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Corruption is in fact a sharp problem in Brazil and there are more than a few individuals and economic sectors that are profiting from public money. But this doesn't mean that the people's problems stop there. Some sections of the ruling class and its communication structures are encouraging the struggle against corruption, sending the message that it gets in the way of the normal functioning of the system. They argue that to the degree that the system works well, it is capable of improving the living conditions of the people.

As can be seen in all this, the path for the masses of people who have awakened in Brazil is presenting opportunities to fully grasp the link between their situation and the imperialist system. It will be decisive for a group of people to come to see in this upsurge the broader horizons of the struggle and direct its aims towards a communist revolution striving for the emancipation of all humanity.


For more discussion of "horizontalism," see "A Reflection on the 'Occupy' Movement: An Inspiring Beginning... and the Need to Go Further," by Bob Avakian—Revolution Editors.


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 #315 Extra September 2, 2013

California Prisoner Representatives Issue Statement Suspending Hunger Strike

September 6, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editor's Note: California prisoner representatives sent out the following communiqué announcing the suspension of their 60-day hunger strike as of September 5. For Revolution's perspective on the hunger strike, see "What Is Actually Revealed in the California Prisoners Hunger Strike?" Revolution/ will have more soon on the latest developments.


Statement Suspending the Third Hunger Strike

Posted on September 5, 2013


Greetings of Solidarity and Respect!

The PBSP-SHU [Pelican Bay State Prison-Security Housing Unit], Short Corridor Collective Representatives hereby serve notice upon all concerned parties of interest that after nine weeks we have collectively decided to suspend our third hunger strike action on September 5, 2013.

To be clear, our Peaceful Protest of Resistance to our continuous subjection to decades of systemic state sanctioned torture via the system's solitary confinement units is far from over. Our decision to suspend our third hunger strike in two years does not come lightly. This decision is especially difficult considering that most of our demands have not been met (despite nearly universal agreement that they are reasonable). The core group of prisoners has been, and remains 100% committed to seeing this protracted struggle for real reform through to a complete victory, even if it requires us to make the ultimate sacrifice. With that said, we clarify this point by stating prisoner deaths are not the objective, we recognize such sacrifice is at times the only means to an end of fascist oppression.

Our goal remains: force the powers that be to end their torture policies and practices in which serious physical and psychological harm is inflicted on tens of thousands of prisoners as well as our loved ones outside. We also call for ending the related practices of using prisoners to promote the agenda of the police state by seeking to greatly expand the numbers of the working class poor warehoused in prisons, and particularly those of us held in solitary, based on psychological/social manipulation, and divisive tactics keeping prisoners fighting amongst each other. Those in power promote mass warehousing to justify more guards, more tax dollars for "security", and spend mere pennies for rehabilitation—all of which demonstrates a failed penal system, high recidivism, and ultimately compromising public safety. The State of California's $9.1 billion annual CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation] budget is the epitome of a failed and fraudulent state agency that diabolically and systemically deprives thousands of their human rights and dignity. Allowing this agency to act with impunity has to stop! And it will.

With that said, and in response to much sincere urging of loved ones, supporters, our attorneys and current and former state legislators, Tom Ammiano, Loni Hancock, and Tom Hayden, for whom we have the upmost respect, we decided to suspend our hunger strike. We are especially grateful to Senator Hancock and Assembly Member Ammiano for their courageous decision to challenge Governor Brown and the CDCR for their policies of prolonged solitary confinement and inhumane conditions. We are certain that they will continue their fight for our cause, including holding legislative hearings and the drafting legislation responsive to our demands on prison conditions and sentencing laws. We are also proceeding with our class action civil suit against the CDCR.

The fact is that Governor Brown and CDCR Secretary Beard have responded to our third peaceful action with typical denials and falsehoods, claiming solitary confinement does not exist and justifying the continuation of their indefinite torture regime by vilifying the peaceful protest representatives. They also obtained the support of the medical receiver (Kelso) and Prison Law Office attorney (Spector—who is supposed to represent prisoners interests, and instead has become an agent for the state) to perpetuate their lie to the public and to the federal court—that prisoners participating in the hunger strike have been coerced—in order to obtain the August 19, 2013 force feeding order.

We have deemed it to be in the best interest of our cause to suspend our hunger strike action until further notice.

We urge people to remember that we began our present resistance with our unprecedented collective and peaceful actions (in tandem with the legislative process) back in early 2010, when we created and distributed a "Formal Complaint" for the purpose of educating the public and bringing widespread attention to our torturous conditions.

After much dialogue and consideration, this led us to our first and second hunger strike actions in 2011, during which a combined number of 6,500 and 12,000 prisoners participated. We succeeded in gaining worldwide attention and support resulting in some minor changes by the CDCR concerning SHU programming and privileges. They also claimed to make major changes to policies regarding gang validation and indefinite SHU confinement by creating the STG/SDP [Security Threat Group Step Down Program] Pilot Program. They released a few hundred prisoners from SHU/AD SEG [Administrative Segregation] to general population in the prison. But in truth, this is all part of a sham to claim the pilot program works and was a weak attempt to have our class action dismissed. It didn't work.

In response we respectfully made clear that CDCR's STG-SDP was not responsive to our demand for the end to long term isolation and solitary confinement and thus unacceptable. (See: AGREEMENT TO END HOSTILITIES)

Our supporting points fell on deaf ears, leading to our January 2013 notice of intent to resume our hunger strike on July 8, 2013 if our demands were not met. We also included Forty Supplemental Demands.

In early July, CDCR produced several memos notifying prisoners of an increase in privileges and property items, which are notably responsive to a few of our demands, while the majority of our demands were unresolved, leading to our third hunger strike, in which 30,000 prisoners participated and resulted in greater worldwide exposure, support and condemnation of the CDCR!

From our perspective, we've gained a lot of positive ground towards achieving our goals. However, there's still much to be done. Our resistance will continue to build and grow until we have won our human rights.


For the Prisoner Class Human Rights Movement

Todd Ashker, C58191, D1-119
Arturo Castellanos, C17275, D1-121
Sitawa Nantambu Jamaa (Dewberry), C35671, D1-117
Antonio Guillen, P81948, D2-106

And the Representatives Body:

Danny Troxell, B76578, D1-120
George Franco, D46556, D4-217
Ronnie Yandell, V27927, D4-215
Paul Redd, B72683, D2-117
James Baridi Williamson, D-34288. D4-107
Alfred Sandoval, D61000, D4-214
Louis Powell, B59864, D1-104
Alex Yrigollen, H32421, D2-204
Gabriel Huerta, C80766, D3-222
Frank Clement, D07919, D3-116
Raymond Chavo Perez, K12922, D1-219
James Mario Perez, B48186, D3-124


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