Revolution #370, January 19, 2015 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

The Cold but Liberating Truth About the Police, the Struggle for Justice, and Revolution

January 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |




The TRUTH is this:

The 1000s who took the streets against the police murdering people and walking free were RIGHT...

The police are NOT heroes...

They are NOT “serving and protecting” the people...

They function like an occupying army against Black and Latino people in this country: harassing, brutalizing and murdering people...

And if we want this to stop, we have to build up our movement to re-take the streets, even more massively than before, and even as we learn more deeply how to get at the root of this madness and end it once and for all. WE HAVE TO ACT.

New York City, December 13, 2014. Posters of the eyes of Eric Garner by French artist JR are carried in a march of thousands. Photo: Special to


The Reality of Black Lives

For four short months, beginning in August with the rebellion in Ferguson, MO, and especially in the five weeks after the grand juries in Ferguson and then New York freed the cops who murdered Mike Brown and Eric Garner, Black lives actually did matter in this country.

No, not to those who run and enforce this system; Black lives never have and never will matter to them, except to be exploited or as a source of potential threat to their system. But to the millions who generally just go along with things and don’t allow themselves to think about the horror right beneath the surface—yes, suddenly they were forced to confront the reality of what happens to Black and other oppressed peoples in this society day in and day out, and what has been going on in one form or another since Day One of this country.

And what IS that reality?

Michael Brown's father, shortly after Michael Brown was murdered by police

Michael Brown's stepfather, shortly after Michael Brown was murdered by police. "Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son!!!" Photo: AP

In case we forget, we can go on YouTube and look at the latest video to come out of Cleveland, Ohio where not only did police murder a 12-year-old Black boy, Tamir Rice, for allegedly playing with a toy gun at a playground, but it has come out and can be seen that they shot him less than 2 seconds after they came on the scene and then not only tackled and detained his sister who ran to help him, but stood there while he bled out and died, refusing to come to his aid! Where is the humanity?

In case we forget, we can just look in the newspapers and find out that, far from being an “isolated” incident, the chokehold that the New York police used to murder Eric Garner—another case where these cops stood around and did nothing to aid a man who was dying in front of them, due to their vicious and monstrous actions—is actually the first thing that many cops resort to when arresting someone. Not only is this supposedly forbidden by their rule books, but it has also come out that when they are caught and the so-called Civilian Review Board recommends punishment, nothing is ever done! Where is the justice?

In case we forget, we can read the author Isabel Wilkerson who, like many others, has recently compared the numbers of police murders of Black people to the numbers of lynchings of Black people during the height of Ku Klux Klan terror—and found that the police murders are even more frequent. These murders and this all-around harassment, abuse, intimidation and violence by police serve the same social function as the Klan lynchings: to terrorize an oppressed people, to “keep them in their place.” Where, really, is the so-called progress?

What the Demonstrations Accomplished

But—again—these last few months were different. People did NOT forget and they did NOT block this out from their minds and they began to actually confront this and think about it. Why? Fundamentally because in August, when the police murdered Michael Brown, people in Ferguson rose up—and in large part, those at the backbone were the people on the bottom of society, who are so often demonized and hounded. This rallied others and made it impossible for the powers-that-be to put things back in a box. All eyes were kept on Ferguson and New York. Would there be justice?

Then, when the grand juries allowed the cops who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner to walk, tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of people blocked traffic and in many other ways disrupted “business as usual.” People in Ferguson again rose up and in dozens of other cities people of ALL nationalities and skin colors came into the streets, night after night. Millions were inspired, and tens of millions were forced to take notice, here and all over the world. Millions said or chanted or whispered “I can’t breathe” and in doing so broke a suffocation that had been locked down on people for decades. The thinking of millions was changed, and this was a huge accomplishment of the struggle.

It took massive disruptive action to do this. These actions were part of reaching into the deepest suppressed feelings of millions, opening people up to new ideas, and beginning to change the thinking both of those who acted and those who watched. This has been a great beginning, even as it is just that—a beginning.

They Are Trying to Kill This Movement With Lies—What Is the REAL Truth? And What Do We Need to Do?

But in the past few weeks, even as people have in many places bravely continued to fight and even as writers have continued to expose the reality, this new movement faces a big challenge. After trying—and failing—to suppress the movement with arrests, with demonization, and through many other means, the powers-that-be seized on the killings of two police in New York to take the offensive. Overnight, any criticism of police was ruled out of bounds. All kinds of distortions and lies were put out, all kinds of threats were made, and the police and their defenders—none of whom ever once came forward to say that what they and their fellow cops had done and do every day to Black and Latino people was in any way wrong—dominated the airwaves.

Because there have been so many lies put out there, it’s important to clear the air with some truth.

These lies are thin and paltry, but if they go unchallenged then the thinking of millions of people will again be shut down. And these murderers and their masters will again get away with these horrors—unless and until people once again rise up and take the streets. THAT—new waves of struggle, even more massive and defiant than before (including struggle over how people are understanding things)—is a necessary part of shining a light through the fog of lies to get the truth out and more deeply changing the thinking of the millions who have been programmed to go along with all this madness.

So that is definitely one huge challenge before the people right now: to go back on the offensive and bring forward even more massive waves of struggle to STOP these outrages. Not mitigate them, not tone them down—but STOP them.

Right now the Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) is joining with others to host a national meeting in early February to develop plans that will re-take initiative on this front. Everyone who has been fighting this, all the different groups who want to see this stop, should be part of this, sorting out differences and uniting more strongly.

At the same time, our Party and the Revolution Clubs are organizing people FOR revolution in the communities and campuses all over. We are mobilizing people to fight the power, in very active and determined ways, and at the same time working to transform people’s thinking... FOR revolution. This is critical... and you can and should be part of this, going up against the powers while learning more about the revolution.

Why Does This Happen?

This gets to another big challenge that has to be met: getting to WHY this goes on, and what must be done to STOP it once and for all.

Why do the police do this? Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has put it this way:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and order that enforces all this oppression and madness.

Think about it. THIS is at the heart of what goes on in the ghettos and barrios all over the country. “Relations of exploitation and oppression” are being “enforced.” And these relations go far beyond the ghetto. Think about what goes into just the daily functioning of this system, in addition to the killing discrimination and slow genocide now coming down on African-Americans, and Latinos, and other oppressed peoples within the U.S.:

We Need a Revolution—A REAL Revolution!

These horrors are a big part of what we’re talking about when we say “relations of exploitation and oppression.” This is what is enforced by their cops, their armies, their prisons, their courts and all the rest. This is what is defended and covered over by their media and their politicians. A system that not only produces these horrors, but feeds on them and requires them to keep going, is a system that must be done away with. And the only way it can be done away with is through revolution.

Revolution is not just a catchword. It means something, something real. As we have said:

An actual revolution is a lot more than a protest. An actual revolution requires that millions of people get involved, in an organized way, in a determined fight to dismantle this state apparatus and system and replace it with a completely different state apparatus and system, a whole different way of organizing society, with completely different objectives and ways of life for the people. Fighting the power today has to help build and develop and organize the fight for the whole thing, for an actual revolution. Otherwise we’ll be protesting the same abuses generations from now!

We, our Party, has taken responsibility not only to take up this fight today but to build this as part of getting organized for an actual revolution. And listen—this is not something that has to be way far off—a lot depends on what all of us do, right now and in the immediate future. Our Party has developed a strategy to make revolution. Our Party has developed a vision of what is to replace this system. Our Party is developing the theoretical fighting doctrine through which people could actually meet and defeat these imperialists, even with all their power, once conditions change and the all-out struggle for power comes on the agenda.

AND: we have in Bob Avakian (BA) a leader who has given his heart and soul to the masses of people and who has developed a visionary new synthesis of communism, a deeper understanding of human emancipation. A leader like BA is something rare, and this is a great strength for our movement. “If you are serious about an actual revolution, you have to get seriously into BA.” Our Party is made up of revolutionary fighters dedicated to leading masses of people to get free of this madness, applying science to the problems we face, and organized into the structure of our Party to do that. And we have a way for you to get with this, to learn about this as you are fighting back, to get organized to actually make a revolution.

The time is now. The challenge is there... the leadership is there... what is needed, very urgently right now, is YOU.

Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution!
Get Organized for an Actual Revolution!


To learn more, explore this website, And check out the dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West, “Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion.”




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

From the Stop Mass Incarceration Network

Come to Atlanta on Feb 7 & 8 and be part of planning to take the resistance to police murder to a higher level!

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


If you took to the streets in outrage after police murdered Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Tamir Rice, Mayra Cornejo, Akai Gurley, and so many others in the past few months alone...

If you live in the communities targeted by brutal, murdering police, or are a young person, or a student, or someone who believes in justice...

If you are in an organization, new or old, or a faith-based group, or not in any organization at all...

If you stood up in the fall or winter against police murder, or if you felt you should have stood up...or if you are just someone who feels that all this is INTOLERABLE..

If you want to see what began this summer and fall go to a higher level...

If you are determined to make this STOP...

Then YOU are Invited!

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network (SMIN) invites you to participate in a meeting to map out plans to build on the powerful, beautiful and very necessary outpourings of people all across the country calling for an end to the system putting its stamp of approval on police murdering people. This meeting will be held in Atlanta on Feb 7 & 8.

If 1000’s of people across the country hadn’t stood up and said NO MORE in response to the grand juries refusing to indict the cops who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, those murders would’ve been swept under the rug. But because we stood up, millions of people were challenged to look at how police kill people all the damn time and how the system never punishes cops for their murderous acts.

The authorities have worked desperately to recapture the offensive from the movement of resistance. They have arrested 100’s of protesters and tried to demonize the protests. They seized on the killings of 2 police officers in Brooklyn on December 20 to call for the protests to stop. We must not back down in the face of their offensive. The police haven’t stopped killing people, and the system hasn’t stopped giving killer cops a pass. So we must continue to take to the streets and call for these horrors to end. People have been doing this. But we must take our resistance to a higher level.

To that end, SMIN has issued a draft Call for a Shutdown Day on April 14, a day of massive resistance all over the country, with students at 1000’s of schools going on strike, taking over buildings and more; and people gathering in cities nationwide to disrupt America’s business as usual. And SMIN is developing a plan of resistance to build up to April 14.

If you want to see the horror of police wantonly murdering people STOPPED and are ready to get down to serious work to STOP it, come to this planning meeting in Atlanta. Be part of enriching and further developing the plans for the Shutdown Day in April. And be part of developing a plan for resistance that builds up momentum to a powerful day of resistance in April.

The authorities have declared that the normal routine of this society will continue to include wanton police murder of Black and Latino people. This normal routine must be disrupted.

Come to Atlanta on February 7 & 8, & be part of planning out how to do that!




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

On Events in Paris

Updated January 18, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Wednesday, January 7, two gunmen associated with Islamic fundamentalist forces stormed into a meeting of the editorial board of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. They sprayed the room with bullets. Within minutes, a dozen editors, cartoonists, and others lay dead. Eleven more people were wounded in the attack, and four people died in an incident two days later where someone identifying with Jihadist forces took hostages at a Jewish store in Paris.

We will have more to say at and in the pages of Revolution on these events, but right now, some things are clear.

ONE: The murder of people for expressing disagreements is an outrage. This is true no matter who does it—whether it is the imperialists themselves (who have a long history, including in this country against the Black liberation struggle as well as around the world, of silencing and, yes, murdering critics), or those who claim to be opposed to them.

TWO: Whoever was behind this and whatever their intent, besides causing the deaths and suffering of innocent people, the event has actually benefitted the imperialists. These killings will now be seized upon to further repress people and justify any actions, however unjust, undertaken by the governments in response, as well as the demonization of whole sections of people. The act in Paris can in no way be seen as justifying yet more acts of aggression or repression—yet more drone bomber strikes against civilians, as well as other forms of aggression which take the lives of more innocent people, more repression against immigrants, more spying and surveillance—all or some of which will very likely be mounted “in response.”

THREE: The imperialist system itself is the cause of massive suffering in the world and ultimately bears responsibility for creating conditions that give rise even to very wrong-headed and cruel actions in opposition to it. This can be seen by taking a day to study the history of France and the literally tens of millions of people not only heartlessly exploited and tortured, but murdered in North and West Africa, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere—throughout history and down to today. And the same could be said of the U.S., Britain, and other imperialist powers. But things like the attack in Paris are most definitely NOT in the interests of masses of people all over the world, and can in no way be justified.

FOUR: What is urgently needed right now—in opposition to these kinds of harmful acts—is, in countries like the U.S. (and France) and all over the world, the building of massive political resistance and opposition to what the imperialists, led by the U.S. imperialists, are doing—the many crimes they have committed and are continuing to commit—and to the way in which they will seize on this incident to seek to justify and carry further these crimes. This should include resistance against repressive measures directed at immigrant communities and opposition to demonization of immigrants—measures and demonization which had been gaining momentum well before this incident.

FINALLY: A genuinely emancipating revolution—a communist revolution—involves millions and millions of people who are determined to bring about a radical change in society and the world. This communist revolution aims to overturn the grotesque and horrific systems and relations in the world that cause such untold and unnecessary suffering for literally billions throughout the globe, and which themselves also give rise to and are ultimately responsible for grotesque forms of opposition to this. The nature and aim of this revolutionary struggle is nothing less than the conscious and determined struggle of millions and ultimately billions, throughout the globe, to bring into being a whole new world without exploitation, oppression, and social inequalities.

As is pointed out in “Some Crucial Points of Revolutionary Orientation—in Opposition to Infantile Posturing and Distortions of Revolution:”

In a country like the U.S., the revolutionary overthrow of the system can only be achieved once there is a major, qualitative change in the nature of the objective situation, such that society as a whole is in the grip of a profound crisis, owing fundamentally to the nature and workings of the system itself, and along with that there is the emergence of a revolutionary people, numbering in the millions and millions, conscious of the need for revolutionary change and determined to fight for it. In this struggle for revolutionary change, the revolutionary people and those who lead them will be confronted by the violent repressive force of the machinery of the state which embodies and enforces the existing system of exploitation and oppression; and in order for the revolutionary struggle to succeed, it will need to meet and defeat that violent repressive force of the old, exploitative and oppressive order.

In short, revolution—truly fundamental change, truly uprooting oppression—is a serious thing and it must be approached in a serious way—soberly, with science, commitment, and maturity.






Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Excerpt from AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World by Bob Avakian

Religious Fundamentalism, Imperialism and "The War on Terror"

by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

October 7, 2007 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editors' Note: The following is an excerpt from the book AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, by Bob Avakian (available from Insight Press). The book was published in 2008.


Here it is important to answer the argument that is not infrequently made—including by people whose stance is to oppose religion in general—that while all religious fundamentalism is bad and harmful, there is something particularly evil and dangerous about Islamic fundamentalism. This, for example, is the position of Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason and Letter to a Christian Nation; and it is the stand rather obviously and quite aggressively insisted on by Christopher Hitchens, whose recent book, and in a concentrated way its title, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, encapsulates the contradiction I am speaking to here. On the one hand, as expressed in the secondary part of the title, Hitchens' book is a broadside against religion in general; but the first, and main, part of the title involves—and is no doubt meant to involve—a very definite salvo directed against Islam in particular: it is a "negative echo," so to speak, of the common Islamic invocation: God is Great. It is not hard to see how this position dovetails rather neatly with that of the Bush regime and the U.S. imperialists in general with their "war on terror" and its declared target of "Islamic extremists."

To begin with, from what has been shown so far, it should be very clear that, with regard to the scriptures and the religious tradition of Christianity there is no basis for arguing that it is, in any fundamental or essential sense, different from or better than Islam. Any attempt to take this up and apply it—and still more to impose and enforce it—in a literalist sense, insisting that it is the "inerrant word of God" which must be followed to the letter, as the Christian fundamentalists do, can indeed only lead to horrors of the greatest magnitude. Once more, all this is something which humanity needs to move beyond and forever leave behind.

Perhaps in recognition of the reality that there is nothing to choose between Islamic fundamentalism and Christian fundamentalism, as such and on the level of the literal word, a common component of the position that somehow Islamic fundamentalism is worse than fundamentalist Christianity is the argument that, yes, the latter may be just as awful in its content, but particularly in a country like the U.S.—where it is increasingly hard to ignore or deny that Christian fundamentalism is a major phenomenon—the effect it can have and the danger it poses is restrained and mitigated by the fact that one of the pillars of Constitutional government in this country is the separation of church and state. Well, first of all, that separation, while real, has always been anything but absolute; and, moreover, it is a separation that is under concerted attack by the Christian fundamentalists and powerful forces in the ruling class representing, or allied with, these fundamentalists (while the sections of the ruling class that are not themselves advocates of this religious fundamentalism are at great pains to compromise and conciliate with it and to promote religion in public life—witness, as just one example, the repeated professions of profound religious faith on the part of every major candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination). The danger posed by theocratic Christian Fascists—and the lack of any real ruling class opposition to this—is very real. And this assault on the separation of church and state has not at all been rendered toothless, or strategically weakened, by the fact that Bush has become an extremely unpopular president.1

Generally speaking (although not uniformly so) it is true that in the parts of the world where Islam is the dominant religion, there has not been the same phenomenon of a bourgeois-democratic transformation of society that has occurred in countries like the U.S., in which one of the main aspects of that transformation has been a (relative) separation of church and state. The prevailing, and institutionalized, doctrine and tenets of Islam reject a separation between religion, on the one hand, and politics and the law, on the other hand, as well as between religion and what is generally referred to as "civil society". But that has been true of Christianity, and the states where Christianity has been the dominant religion, for most of their history—and it is only a relatively recent period, historically speaking, that has seen a change in this, through the kind of bourgeois-democratic transformation to which I have referred. And it is important to recognize that, as a rule, it is those countries which have undergone such a bourgeois-democratic transformation, as part of the emergence and triumph of the capitalist system, which have developed into imperialist powers, and whose imperialist conquest and domination of countries throughout the Third World, including those where Islam is the dominant religion, has been a major factor in obstructing, in those countries, the kind of transformation that would involve the separation of church and state. The relative "backwardness" of those Third World countries has repeatedly been invoked as justification for colonialism and imperialist conquest. And, in turn, this imperialist conquest and exploitation, with all the consequences it has led to, including the installing and backing of corrupt and tyrannical "local governments" and the devastation of much of the way of life and the living conditions of the large majority of the population, has actually strengthened tendencies which identify ideas associated with "the West"—such as the progressive aspects of the Enlightenment, with its spur to critical thinking, its challenging of religious dogma, and its contribution to the separation of politics from official religion—as alien and antagonistic to the needs of the people.

This speaks to the argument that is also frequently raised that, even if it is true that the ideas embodied in Christian fundamentalism are every bit as bad as those of Islamic fundamentalism, there is a great difference in that Christian fundamentalists do not go around blowing up people and buildings and generally engaging in terrorist activity, while such activity is common among Islamic fundamentalists. Besides the fact that Christian fundamentalists have indeed engaged in acts of terror, including within the U.S.—such as the bombing of clinics where abortions are performed and the murder of doctors who perform abortions—and that Christian fundamentalist forces are being "primed" to carry out reactionary violence on a much greater scale, should that be deemed necessary by those for whom they are in fact being readied as shock and storm troops—there is the reality that, up to this point, violence which serves ends that are passionately supported by the Christian Fascist fundamentalists has been carried out on a massive scale by the imperialist ruling class of the U.S., utilizing the armed forces and police of the imperialist state—with more of that violence currently being threatened (such as an attack on Iran, in addition to the wars presently being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan). And one of the distinguishing features of those armed forces in this period is precisely that they are being increasingly influenced by, and even indoctrinated with, a fundamentalist Christian Fascist outlook, from the top levels of the military on down.2 Therefore, up until now at least, there has not been a need or compulsion among Christian Fascist fundamentalists to engage in terrorist activity and reactionary violence on a large scale, separately from the "official" armed forces and police of the ruling class—although, again, it has certainly been carried out by Christian Fascists on a smaller scale and there is definitely the potential for this to be carried out on a much wider scale.

All this, once again, is a reflection of the "lopsided" relations of a world which is dominated by a handful of imperialist countries, and one imperialist superpower in particular at this time, while the great majority of countries, and of people, in the world, and particularly in the Third World, endure extreme conditions of poverty, exploitation, massive dislocation and upheaval—all enforced on the basis of imperialist rule.

In today's world, a particular expression of these contradictions is the mutually reinforcing opposition between imperialist globalization and its effects, on the one hand, and Jihadist Islamic fundamentalism on the other hand. Utilizing a phrase (actually a book title) from Benjamin R. Barber, who refers to the phenomenon of "Jihad vs. McWorld," and expanding on this to include the element in which Christian Fascist fundamentalism is in fact a significant element within the prevailing program and ideology of the imperialist ruling class of the U.S., I have put it this way:

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

This speaks precisely to what is wrong with the position that somehow Islamic fundamentalism is worse than Christian Fundamentalism and to how that position lends support to the "historically outmoded ruling class of the imperialist system." And, as I have also emphasized in relation to these "two outmodeds":

it is important to be clear about which has done and continues to do the greater damage, which has posed and does pose the greater threat to humanity. Clearly, and by far, it is "the ruling strata of the imperialist system."

It is interesting, I recently heard about a comment that someone made relating to this, which I do think is correct and getting at something important. In relation to these "two historically outmodeds," they made the point: "You could say that the Islamic fundamentalist forces in the world would be largely dormant if it weren't for what the U.S. and its allies have done and are doing in the world—but you cannot say the opposite." There is a profound truth captured in that statement.

As a matter of general principle, and specifically sitting in this imperialist country, we have a particular responsibility to oppose U.S. imperialism, our "own" ruling class, and what it is doing in the world. But, at the same time, that doesn't make these Islamic fundamentalist forces not historically outmoded and not reactionary. It doesn't change the character of their opposition to imperialism and what it leads to and the dynamic that it's part of—the fact that these two "historically outmodeds" do reinforce each other, even while opposing each other. And it is very important to understand, and to struggle for others to understand, that if you end up supporting either one of these two "historically outmodeds," you contribute to strengthening both. It is crucial to break out of that dynamic—to bring forward another way." (See Bringing Forward Another Way)


1. Besides what I, and our Party generally, have been doing to call attention to and build opposition to Christian Fascism, a number of others have also, from various points of view, been giving emphasis to the dangers posed by right-wing Christian fundamentalists. See, for example, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, by Chris Hedges; The Baptizing of America: The Religious Right's Plans for the Rest of Us, by Rabbi James Rudin; The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege, by Damon Linker; Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, by Michelle Goldberg; With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush's White House, by Esther Kaplan; and Contempt: How the Right Is Wronging American Justice, by Catherine Crier. [back]

2. Regarding the influence of Christian Fascism within the U.S. military (and in particular its higher ranks), in addition to the continuing exposure and analysis of this which is found in Revolution newspaper (available at, see for example Making the Corps, by Thomas Ricks (Scribner, 1997), and Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, by Mark Bowden (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999)—both of which were written before the advent of the Bush Presidency which has been marked by an increasing growth of and support for Christian fundamentalism within the U.S. military. Also, a very relevant phenomenon in regard to all this is the emergence of “private” military organizations, such as Blackwater, which has played a very significant, and very brutal, role in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, as well as within the U.S. itself—for example, New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And it is worth noting that Blackwater itself is characterized by a fundamentalist Christian Fascist worldview and ethos. [back]





Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

The Ominous Attacks Against the RCP and Bob Avakian

Updated January 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Over the past six months, there has been an escalating series of attacks against supporters and members of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and, lately, a particular focus on its Chairman, Bob Avakian. These attacks have developed over time and have included slanders, physical assaults, arrests and massive charges, and—most recently—a concerted web campaign undertaken by openly fascist forces with high connections.

A genuinely revolutionary organization and its leader are being named, singled out, and accused of being something they are not, which could facilitate further attacks and government persecution. This ominous and dangerous development should be of urgent concern for everyone in the movements of resistance and for social change and all who are opposed to assaults on freedom of political expression and activity.

The canvas this takes place on is shaped by the massive protests against police brutality and murder that have deeply shaken the U.S. and reverberated around the world. The long-suppressed and righteous, justified rage of Black people erupted in Ferguson after the wanton police killing of unarmed Michael Brown, as protesters courageously went up against military-style police clampdown and violence. And, after the grand juries exonerated the cops who murdered Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the outrage and resistance spread coast to coast, as people who find the continuing murder and brutality by police intolerable took to the streets and acted in other ways (like medical students staging die-ins and athletes wearing “I Can’t Breathe” shirts). Hundreds of thousands have stood up, with right on their side, and are being heard. The thinking of millions is being challenged, as many people begin to question the legitimacy of a society and its enforcers that treat Black and Latino people in such vicious and unacceptable ways.

Interacting with this was the Dialogue in mid-November between Bob Avakian and Cornel West. 1,900 people from different walks of life, including people from Ferguson, came out to the Dialogue between Cornel West, revolutionary Christian and one of the foremost public intellectuals in the U.S., and Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, on “Revolution and Religion: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion.” The need and possibility for emancipation of humanity and revolution was brought straight up to people who have been in the streets and those who stood with those in the streets.

In the face of this, there has been a concerted and multi-pronged effort by the powers-that-be to repress and suppress this righteous movement. In Ferguson the police imposed martial law, harassing, beating, tear-gassing, and arresting people for exercising the rights supposedly guaranteed under this system to protest. Police have tried to intimidate protesters with massive deployment of riot cops, mass arrests, and singling out of activists for political persecution. In New York City, the police, government, and media recently launched a massive “manhunt,” complete with “Wanted” posters on the front page of a local tabloid paper, for several people accused of trying to free a protester from the clutches of cops.

Because of the role played by the Party in this struggle, revolutionaries in particular have been targeted for repression and this must be opposed. Noche Diaz of the Revolution Club in NYC was pulled out of protests of thousands, and bogus charges were piled up against him. (“Hands Off Noche Diaz”) In Chicago, Grant Newburger, well-known in the oppressed neighborhoods for bringing revolution to the people, has had three felony charges piled on him after being arrested for stepping into the street with a banner. (“Drop the Charges Against Grant Newburger and Everyone Arrested!”) And in another protest in Chicago, the police swarmed into people staging a die-in, especially targeting a young member of the Revolution Club and another protester for arrest and heavy charges. (“Chicago: Oppose the Vicious and Outrageous Charges Against Those Who Protested Police Murder!”)

This happens because those in power deeply fear the struggles and hopes of those “who catch the hardest hell every day,” as well as masses from other sections of society, connecting with the Party that has the program, strategy, and leadership needed for a movement for an actual revolution. Again—from the first days of protest in Ferguson after Michael Brown’s murder, supporters and representatives of the Party have been targeted for arrest and physical attacks, and this has gone hand in hand with slander and lies.

But in the last several weeks, an extremely ominous new development has been added: a wave of threats on the Internet against the RCP and its leadership. The Party, and in particular Bob Avakian (BA), have come under direct attack on some of the major right-wing, white supremacist blogs and websites, including some directly tied into police departments and in some cases connected to major forces in the ruling class. While it has not yet happened in this case, some of these “sources” are picked up and quoted and treated as credible not only on Fox News, but even in more mainstream media like CNN as well. This has taken several forms, including attributing highly provocative statements to people associated with the Party, which they have never made; singling out people like Carl Dix, Travis Morales, and Joey Johnson, and often either making physical threats against them or inciting/implying such threats; and in particular singling out and pointing the finger at Bob Avakian in highly provocative and totally false ways. In particular, there have been attempts to falsely and slanderously associate the RCP and Bob Avakian (BA) with violent acts or threats of violent acts, including against police. This is being done through insinuation and innuendo, as well as outright lies to attribute totally fabricated quotes to people associated with the Party.

Most recently, BA has been the main revolutionary being targeted. It is no accident that the attacks rose sharply after the Dialogue in November. BA plays a crucial and indispensable role—both in leading the Party and, in a different dimension, as the foremost communist thinker in the world today, whose theoretical work has laid the basis for a revitalized revolutionary communist movement.

This is a concerted effort—with common themes and similarly worded threats, lies, and distortions running through many of the blogs, articles, emails, and comments. Again, while so far the more mainstream websites and news sites have not in the main picked up on the specific shit being poured from the extreme right-wing sites, these are just beginning to spread and will very likely intensify. And we should not forget that historically these kinds of accusations by the right wing have become the legal basis and justification for the government and FBI to spy on and launch attacks against progressive and revolutionary groups and individuals.

Taken together with the arrests, physical attacks and piled-on charges, the mounting slanders and false accusations are very, very serious and could have extremely serious consequences and implications. They could well be a reflection of a conscious and calculated effort to lay the groundwork for bringing down further, even more serious, attacks on the Party and on BA in particular. To repeat what we said at the beginning: A genuinely revolutionary organization and its leader are being named and singled out and accused of being something they are not, which could facilitate further attacks and government persecution. This ominous and dangerous development should be of urgent concern for everyone in the movements of resistance and for social change and all who are opposed to assaults on freedom of political expression and activity.

Those who slander the Party and personally attack BA with outright falsehoods and with intent to bring them down must be denounced and not be given an inch of space. That doesn’t mean people should go on the right-wing sites and blogs to engage with those fascists. But everyone should be aware of and alert to these attacks and take a clear and firm stand against them, and come to the defense of revolutionaries who are targeted. A leader like BA comes along extremely rarely—and as part of countering the attacks on him, we need to be doing everything we can to spread his works and appreciation of this leader widely throughout society, as part of building a wall of defense around him. At the same time, anyone who values the right of radicals, revolutionaries, and others to free expression should also be reached to defend BA.

These attacks and slanders are part of creating a poisonous atmosphere and conditions that would make it easier for the powers-that-be, or those that do their bidding, to launch even heavier assaults on the Party and BA and attempt to deprive the people of genuine revolutionary communist leadership—and that must not be allowed to happen. These attacks underscore a key point we have made: “We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.” (“Watching Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian“)

As a first step, we urge our readers to distribute this article and let people know what is going on.






Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Abortion After 20 Weeks Should NOT Be Banned

January 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On the first day of the new session of Congress, Republicans introduced a measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Branded as the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” this move is vicious in its own right, and part of a whole war on women that has, as a leading edge, forcing women to bear children against their will in all circumstances.

The “pain capable” branding is utterly unscientific. A fetus is not a human being and doesn’t experience pain, but women are human beings and the pain of being forced to bear a child against one’s will is horrific. (See “A Fetus Cannot Feel Pain, but a Woman Denied the Right to Abortion Suffers Intolerable Pain.”)

Download Tweetable jpg.

According to a 2013 study by the Guttmacher Institute (which does research and education to promote reproductive health and rights): “Most women seeking later abortion fit at least one of five profiles: They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and nulliparous [a woman who has never borne a child.]”

And the study concludes: “Bans on abortion after 20 weeks will disproportionately affect young women and women with limited financial resources.”

Late-term abortions are very rare (90 percent of all abortions happen in the first three months of pregnancy), but the right to an abortion at any point is essential. Some women discover health risks to themselves or to the fetus that can only be detected late in pregnancy. Some—owing to the numerous restrictions on abortion—simply could not pull together the resources earlier in their pregnancies. Still others, especially very young women and girls who have little or no education about their bodies and reproduction, don’t even realize they are pregnant until very far along. All women who seek abortions at whatever point in their pregnancies and for whatever reason must have the right to do so. If abortion was more widely available (97 percent of rural counties have no abortion provider), if there were not so many restrictions, if there was real scientific sex education and widespread access to birth control, and if there were no stigma on abortion, late-term abortions would be even more rare (although still necessary). The very “pro-life” movement that is behind the 20-week ban is also opposed to all these things, which could reduce (though not eliminate) the need for late-term abortions.

Download Tweetable jpg.

Currently, 12 states have banned abortions after 20 weeks. Only one of the state laws has an exception for cases of rape or incest. Only three have very limited exceptions for cases where the fetus is detected to be severely abnormal.

The moves to pass a nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks are a serious escalation of the war on women, and require a response in the streets. Relying on an Obama veto to put a brake on, let alone reverse, the ferocious attacks on the right to abortion is a dangerous illusion and contributes to a dangerous dynamic. That dynamic is identified sharply in the statement “Abortion On Demand and Without Apology! For Every Woman in Every State—The Reversal of Abortion and Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!“:

For too long, millions have watched in alarm as yesterday’s outrageous and unthinkable attack has become today’s “compromise position” and tomorrow’s limit of what can be imagined. This dynamic must be broken. The political leaders of the Democratic Party cannot be relied on to do this. While posing as the last bastion of defense against these attacks, these “leaders” have in fact seriously undermined reproductive rights by seeking “common ground” with fascists and religious fanatics, by ceding the moral high ground, by severing abortion from women’s emancipation and by refusing to stand up when abortion providers are murdered.

The move in Congress to ban abortions at 20 weeks is one more important reason to Confront the Anti-Abortion, Woman-Hating Fascists and build and be part of actions around the country in January called by Stop Patriarchy! to oppose the war on women.

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

Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

New Video of Police Murder of 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice... and Attack on His 14-Year-Old Sister

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Protesting murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, November 25 Protesting murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, November 25. AP photo

Millions of people have seen the video of the cold-blooded police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio. A child, shot down because he was Black and was playing with a toy gun on November 22, 2014—only two days before a grand jury in St. Louis County, Missouri decided not to indict the cop who killed Michael Brown.

After the Cleveland cops got a 911 call about someone on a playground with a gun that was “probably fake,” a police car rolls up, two cops jump out and within TWO SECONDS, Tamir is shot twice in the stomach. Then as he lay on the ground, police waited four minutes before even making any attempt to administer first aid. Tamir died early the next day. This murder—adding on to all the other and continuing instances of police murder—has sparked ongoing protests.

People have been especially outraged how the police jumped out of the car and within seconds shot this child. And now on January 7, new video footage was made available showing how after Tamir was shot, his 14-year-old sister was attacked by the police when she tried to come to her brother’s aid. You can see in the video how right after he was shot she comes running towards him but is intercepted by a cop, tackled and forced to the ground. Then another cop comes running up and also piles on. She is handcuffed and then taken to the police car.

This whole scene is played out within the first two minutes of a 30-minute video that was taken by a surveillance camera at the Cudell Recreation Center where Tamir Rice was killed. This additional video was obtained and then released only by Northeast Ohio Media Group after protracted talks with city officials, who initially refused to release it.

This video now confirms what Tamir Rice’s mother, Samaira Rice, claimed at a December 8 press conference when she said: “I noticed my son laying down on the ground and I went charging and yelling and everything at the police because they wouldn’t let me through. Then I seen my daughter in the back of the police car—the same car that the shooter got out of. As I was trying to get through to my son, the police told me to calm down or they would put me in the back of a police car. She told me that the police tackled her and put her in handcuffs. I didn’t even know she was in handcuffs. I knew she was crying for me, but I couldn’t see her hands. This is what she told me that she was in handcuffs in the back of the car. They also questioned her with no adult around.”

This newly released video also shows how neither Timothy Loehmann, the cop who shot Tamir Rice, nor his partner, Frank Garmback, immediately attend to the boy. Tamir isn’t given any medical attention at all until after about four minutes go by and, according to the police account, an FBI agent, who happened to be in the area, shows up and administers CPR.

The Rice family attorney Benjamin Crump said in a statement after the release of the video: “This video shows in crystal-clear HD that the responding officers acted inappropriately and recklessly, both in how they handled the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and the events that immediately followed. The family is outraged that rather than comfort a sister coming to the aid of her dying brother, the officers instead manhandled and tackled her, cuffed her and thoughtlessly tossed her in the back of a patrol car.”

Yet one more piece of concrete evidence illustrating the total illegitimacy of this system and its armed enforcers.




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Weekend of Action in San Francisco Bay Area

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


San Francisco Bay Area, January 16


January 16, 2015. San Francisco Bay Area activists came together to stage 96 hours of action—the Anti Police-Terrorism Project (the group ONYX and others) organized a weekend of action “to honor MLK’s radical stance against poverty and all forms of violence.” On Friday, January 16, there were three actions on both sides of the SF Bay. In San Francisco, early Friday morning over 100 protesters gathered at a downtown SF Bay Area Rapid Transit station platform, shutting down two trains in both directions. This protest was in solidarity with the 14 protesters (from the Blackout Collective) who chained themselves to BART trains on Black Friday in November. Disruptions in the morning commute were planned in the spirit of “No Business As Usual as long as Black people are being murdered by police.” Police closed the station and protesters chanting “Black Lives Matter” moved to two other stations in the downtown San Francisco financial district, temporarily shutting them down as well. Outside the station a group of people staged a dance to the Michael Jackson song “They Don’t Care About Us.” At the same time, at the California Supreme Court, hundreds of lawyers and supporters held a 15-minute die-in, eyes closed and silent, on the steps of the courthouse. Their signs read “Lawyers for Black Lives.” Across the Bay in Oakland, protesters locked themselves to the two entrances of the Federal Building. A banner read “Black Power Matters” and protesters held signs like “Third World for Black Power,” “Filipinos for Black resistance,” and “Palestine for Black Resistance.”




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

In the Streets in Ferguson: "It is our duty to fight"

January 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Feerguson MO January 10, 2015

Above and below: 50 people marched January 10, 2015 in Ferguson. "People need to stay in the streets as long as it takes to get justice for Mike...." Photo: Special to

Ferguson MO January 10 2015

On January 10, 50 people took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, blocking traffic on W. Florissant Ave. where the rebellion began last August after Michael Brown was murdered by cop Darren Wilson. The march rallied at the Canfield Apartments at the memorial to Mike Brown which has been cared for and defended for 5 months. An organizer of the protest said that people need to stay in the streets as long as it takes to get justice for Mike and other victims of police brutality. He said, “This is our duty to fight. This is our duty to win.” Protesters were mainly young people, many who have been in the streets for months, and some who face heavy charges stemming from arrests at previous protests. A group who had come to Ferguson from New Orleans joined the protest. There were daughters with their mothers marching. Protesters blocked the intersection of W. Florissant Ave. and Canfield Dr., with traffic backed up in both directions for blocks. People in cars and along the sidewalk showed support.

The next day 50 protesters again came out, this time in the rain, to challenge a pro-police rally held at the Ferguson Police Station. The pro-police rally, reported in the media to have 200 people, was organized by a group named “Rally Our Troops.” It included “God bless our police” signs, a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and the presence of the Ferguson Mayor and Police Chief.




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Boston: Shutting Down I-93

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Boston, shutting down I-93 AP photo

January 15, 2015. A press release sent out beforehand announced the intention of the action: to “disrupt business as usual,” to protest police and state violence against Black people, and to “place our bodies in the street for four and a half hours, the same amount of time Mike Brown lay dying in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.” Traffic was severely delayed on Interstate 93 northbound in Milton and southbound in Medford during Thursday’s morning commute. Some protesters attached themselves to 1,200-pound barrels filled with concrete and blocked the highway. Other protesters had signs saying “end white supremacy.” Twenty-nine people were arrested. There have been ongoing protests in Boston since the grand jury decisions not to prosecute the cops who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. A week before this action to shutdown I-93, on Saturday, January 10, supporters of the “Black Lives Matter” movement stopped a commuter train in Dedham, Massachusetts, that was bound for the Ravens-Patriots football game. Protesters occupied the track for 4.5 minutes, marking the 4.5 hours that Michael Brown lay dead in the street after being shot by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson.




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

North Miami Beach, Florida

Police Targeting Black Men in the Streets... AND at the Target Range

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


A South Florida family is outraged—and people should join in this outrage—at the fact that North Miami Beach police use mug shots of African-American men at a shooting range for cops’ sniper training. This came to light after the Florida Army National Guard’s 13th Army Band came to use the shooting range. One member of the band, Sgt. Valerie Deant, saw among these mug shots being used for target practice the image of her own brother, Woody Deant, who spent four years in prison in connection to a drag race in 2000 that left two people dead.

Woody Deant said: “The picture actually has like bullet holes. One in my forehead and one in my eye.... I was speechless.” North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis has defended this practice saying the technique is widely used! Now he has suspended the sniper training program as part of an internal investigation, saying his department will resume use of human image targets after it expands the number of images in its inventory (to avoid charges of racial profiling). The Deant’s attorney, Andell Brown, points out, “This can create a very dangerous situation. And it has been ingrained in your subconscious what does that mean when someone [police] comes across Woody or another person on the street and their decision-making process on using deadly force or not.” Woody Deant said, “Automatically in his [police officer’s] mind, he’s going to think target, target, target...”




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Mexico: "The Straw That Broke the Camel's Back"

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto paid a visit to Barack Obama, his American godfather, in Washington, DC, the first week of January. Their meeting came at a critical time in relations between the two countries, and a time of volcanic upheaval within Mexico that is challenging and shaking the foundations of that highly repressive state and its institutions.

Ayotzinapa: “La gota que derramó el vaso” (The Straw That Broke the Camel’s Back)

Since September 26, Mexico—a country of incalculable strategic importance to the world system of U.S. capitalism-imperialism—has been pulsing with waves of determined struggle aimed at ending the savage murder and torture of thousands of people carried out by police and military forces, and drug cartels, separately or in combination with each other.

Two of the most flagrant massacres this year were the attacks on the students of Ayotzinapa and the June murders of 22 people in the town of Tlatlaya, in the State of Mexico. Army and other government officials have tried to cover up their involvement in the Ayotzinapa massacre. But exposures in the Mexican press have revealed that the army had the students under surveillance from the time they left the school to go to Iguala, and was present during the detainment, initial killings, and disappearances of the students. (For more on the Ayotzinapa disappearances, see "Mexico Burns, U.S. Needs to Feel the Heat" and "Mexico: government's political crisis persists.")

The U.S.-funded Mexican army directly carried out the Tlatlaya massacre. After this was exposed by Mexican journalists, seven soldiers were arrested and charged with carrying out the slaughter. This week Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission released information documenting the brutal torture of witnesses to the massacre by agents of the state’s Attorney General’s Office.

Protests initiated by family members and classmates of the murdered Ayotzinapa students quickly spread throughout the country, especially into Mexico City, the capital. Many sections of people—artists, street vendors, professionals, proletarians, students, peasants, and others—have participated in massive outpourings. Federal highways and international airports have been blocked by protesters demanding justice. On November 8, the ceremonial door of the National Palace in Mexico City was burned by protesting students. Two weeks later, over a hundred thousand people launched a massive, militant protest in the national capital.

The protests have been particularly fierce in the impoverished and brutally repressed southern states of Mexico. The Guerrero offices of the hated ruling PRI party—long associated with horrific violence against the people, big time drug dealing, and flagrant corruption—were burned. So were the city hall in Iguala, and the state government building in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero. People have risen up against years of mass murder, disappearances, and torture.

The killings in Ayotzinapa were not an aberration. Brutal murders, disappearances, and mass torture have been regular occurrences not just in the south but throughout Mexico over the past ten years. A report by Amnesty International described torture by the military and police as “widespread and routine.” But for millions of people, word of the latest murders and disappearances in Guerrero, and the struggle waged by family members and students became “la gota que derramó el vaso,” which in English would correspond to the phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

A Crisis of Legitimacy Emerges

The protests that spread across the country continued throughout the holiday season and as the New Year began, and have reverberated within the U.S. as well. On December 5, the police chief in Mexico City was forced to resign because of his handling of demonstrations there. On Christmas Eve, family members of dead and missing students and others went to Los Pinos, the presidential palace in Mexico City, where “a long line of riot police and barricades prevented them from entering...” They returned on the 26th and 31st of December, and vowed to continue fighting into the New Year.

Peña Nieto did not announce his first public appearance of 2015, in the southern state of Oaxaca. Still, protesting school teachers who learned he was there “clashed with police in an effort to prevent his entrance, which took place only amid tear gas and stones”. Protesters were outside the White House demanding justice and the resignation of Peña Nieto when he met with Obama, and other actions took place in several U.S. cities.

Coverage in the international press describes Mexico as being “on the brink.” Many polls and political pundits have pointed out that the popularity of the Mexican president has plummeted to an all time low. It is very true that Peña Nieto is deeply despised by tens of millions of people in Mexico. But for many people the anger goes far beyond who is currently in power. A popular slogan in Mexico City and elsewhere in the past month or so has been “Fue el Estado; Es el estado”. (It was the state; it is the state).

A report by the think tank International Crisis Group concluded recently that “Mexico is facing a crisis of legitimacy.” How this situation develops in the weeks and months ahead will have profound consequences on developments in Mexico, in Central America, and within the U.S. imperial monster itself.

A Century of Brutal Imperialist Domination

The U.S. media depicts the staggering amount of violence in Mexico as being caused by rival gangs seeking supremacy in the multi-billion dollar drug trade. It is true that ruthless struggles between and within various gangs have inflicted enormous misery upon tens of thousands of people. It is also true that many of these gangs recruit desperate youths and use them to perpetrate terrible acts.

But pull back the lens a bit further and get a bigger picture. Why has drug trafficking become such a huge source of income in Mexico, a country rich in natural resources, most especially its people? Why do so many young people face a future in which the only outlet they see for their daring, creativity, and ingenuity is to become a narcotraficante? Why are so many millions of people being forced from their rural homes to try to eke out some sort of living in the cities of Mexico or further, into El Norte?

Mexico is in crisis. Millions of people have swollen the population of Mexico City and other large metropolises, forced to find work in the informal economy. Unemployment is soaring. Countless women have been forced into prostitution. A handful of enormously wealthy people, tied into the imperialist dominated economy, have gorged themselves on the riches of the country, and some sectors of the middle class have prospered, while tens of millions live in abject poverty. Groups of heavily armed men rampage throughout the country, leaving headless corpses, streams choked with bodies, and parentless children in their wake.

Massive drug trafficking in Mexico isn’t controlled by barrio and rural youth who have no other way to make a living. It is linked into the overall ruling class of Mexico, economically and politically. It is a source of enormous capital to the ruling class as a whole, and important elements of the ruling class are invested in different drug cartels, and often tied to them politically. Police, military, and judiciary forces in Mexico are often allied with and even indistinguishable from the drug cartels.

An article from A World to Win News Service a few years ago analyzed: “The divisions and fractures within the power structure are intertwined with the clashes between the drug cartels that different parts of the state are allied with, undermining the state’s ability to defend the system’s overall interests.” This convulsive, complex conflict has driven the tidal wave of reactionary violence that has torn at Mexico for years. Further, different elements of these repressive forces are often connected with sectors of the U.S. government, police and espionage agencies whose interests often clash and contend, as was portrayed in the fictional TV drama The Bridge.

Storm Clouds Have Burst

Mexico has been dominated by imperialism for over a century; far and away the foremost imperialist power in Mexico is the U.S. The devastation and human misery within Mexico caused by this domination has intensified in the past several decades. As one prominent example, millions of peasants have been driven from the countryside since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the flooding of Mexico with cheap, subsidized U.S. grain.

Maintaining a semblance of stability in Mexico is a great strategic concern for U.S. imperialism. For one thing, the U.S. has enormous investments in and extracts enormous profits from its penetration of and dominant position within Mexico. Being the imperialist top dog in Mexico is a cornerstone of U.S. preeminence within the entire Western hemisphere, and its worldwide empire.

The U.S. is also dependent on brutal exploitation of Mexican (and Central American) immigrants—both documented and undocumented—within this country for the profitable workings, and in fact the day to day functioning, of the capitalist-imperialist system. Maintaining this section of the people in highly repressive and controlled conditions, under the government’s thumb, is a constant and growing concern of the U.S. ruling class. It also helps provide some semblance of stability or income for the lives of countless people within Mexico, since funds sent to family members in Mexico by people living in the U.S. are Mexico’s second largest source of total income.

The border shared by the U.S. and Mexico is the longest border in the world between an imperialist country and a country oppressed by imperialism. It is both a barrier—a monstrously militarized and decidedly one-directional barrier (allowing unfettered U.S. domination)—and a potential transmission belt of crisis, turmoil, and even revolutionary possibilities.

The rulers of the U.S. understand that upheaval within Mexico and Central America would have tremendous influence on political developments in the U.S., and would put great, perhaps unbearable stress on the border itself. History—including very recent history—is full of examples of this. Containing the “contagion” of rebellion and possible revolution south of the Río Grande through violent means is a deep and essential problem for this country’s rulers.

Different sections of the U.S. ruling class disagree strongly over how best to “secure” the border—but they all agree that their ability to control their southern flank is of the utmost strategic concern to the functioning of their entire imperialist structure. And they all agree that they must continue with deepening the militarization of the border, and with extending their ability to use whatever force they think is needed to try to maintain their control.

Storm clouds have begun to burst in Mexico, and a defiant, courageous struggle has sprung onto the world stage. Tens of thousands of people have stood up, challenged the murderous status quo, and opened up whole new vistas for the struggle of the people to erupt and impact all of society.

Where all this will lead is uncertain.

But it is certain that with this great upheaval in Mexico come great challenges and responsibilities to revolutionaries and other people struggling for fundamental change in this country. People must be tense to the possibilities; poised to do everything possible to politically support the people of Mexico who have risen in brave struggle, and to do that as part of building the overall movement for revolution in this country—a movement that contributes to preparing the ground, the people, and the vanguard for an actual revolution—a revolution to put an end to the system that causes such limitless suffering as the people in Mexico have endured—as soon as possible.




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Re-Colonization in the Name of Normalization

Behind the Re-Establishment of U.S.-Cuba Diplomatic Relations

Editor's note, 11/27/16: With the death of Fidel Castro and the ascension of the fascist Donald Trump to the presidency, U.S.-Cuba relations will be in flux.  This article, dealing with Obama's moves to "normalize" those relations, gives a good basic background in why revolution in Cuba was necessary and had to have U.S. imperialist domination as a central target; how and why that revolution did not ultimately succeed in winning liberation from imperialism; and how to understand and see through the self-serving propaganda of U.S. politicians and media on all this and actually get at the truth.


by Raymond Lotta | December 29, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |

On December 17, the United States and Cuba announced the restoration of full diplomatic relations. President Obama also announced that the U.S. will ease restrictions on travel, on the amount of cash that can be sent to individuals in Cuba, on the export of telecommunications equipment, and on certain banking activity.

The U.S. had no right to isolate and punish Cuba. Its economic blockade of Cuba was an act of imperialist extortion. But the terms of normalization that the U.S. is imposing are not in the interests of the Cuban people.

U.S. Imperialism and Cuba

For more than 100 years, the United States has caused incalculable misery and suffering for the Cuban people. Cuba came under the domination of U.S. imperialism as a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Cuban people had been fighting for their independence from Spain, but the U.S. seized on the situation to bring Cuba under its control. The so-called Platt Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress in 1901, which was incorporated into the Cuban constitution, set the terms for U.S. interference in Cuba’s domestic affairs.

The U.S. landed marines in Cuba four times in the early 20th century. It established a military colony—the Guantánamo naval base—which has been used as a concentration camp and torture chamber in the post-9/11 U.S. war on the world.

By the 1950s, the U.S. controlled 80 percent of Cuba’s utilities, 90 percent of its mines, close to 100 percent of the country’s oil refineries, 90 percent of its cattle ranches, and 40 percent of its sugar industry. Sugar plantation workers faced incredibly oppressive conditions—slave-like labor punctuated by periods of unemployment. Cuba also became an investor's paradise for U.S. gambling syndicates, real estate operators, hotel owners, and mobsters. U.S. businessmen and travelers would frequent Havana, the capital of Cuba, as a sex tourism center. There were some 100,000 prostitutes in the country! The U.S. gave economic and military backing to one hated regime after another to enforce these political, economic, and social relations.

These horrors were the backdrop for the Cuban revolution that came to power in 1959. This horror show is what has been extolled by Cuban exiles in Miami and the U.S. propaganda machine as the “lost Cuba.”

The Cuban revolution was a just and popular uprising against U.S. imperialism. It did not go on to break the stranglehold of world capitalism-imperialism, nor did it launch a genuine libratory social revolution aimed at uprooting all oppression including patriarchy. Nonetheless, the U.S. imperialists never reconciled themselves to defeat. In 1961, the U.S. carried out the Bay of Pigs invasion, which the Cuban people defeated. The CIA tried several times, employing the Mafia in some cases, to assassinate Fidel Castro. The U.S. imposed an unjust and immoral embargo that still exists—blocking Cuba’s ability to have normal trade with Western countries, to obtain needed medicines and agricultural and industrial goods.

Behind the Shift in Course: Imperialist Economics and Geopolitics

For the last 50 years, ten U.S. presidential administrations have tried to achieve regime change in Cuba by economic strangulation, political destabilization, and active attempts to overthrow the Cuban government. Have the U.S. imperialists given up on the goal of restoring a subordinate, client regime in Cuba? Have they decided to respect the national sovereignty of Cuba? Hardly. The U.S. has indeed shifted course...but what is happening is a change in tactics not in goal.

A decisive section of the U.S. ruling class, with Obama taking the lead, has concluded that the previous tack of diplomatic and economic isolation of Cuba and direct and indirect efforts to topple the Castro regime no longer serves the strategic interests of imperialism. Instead, the U.S. imperialists are aiming to use normalization of relations to achieve regime change from within—to create the conditions to turn Cuba, once again, into a neo-colony of U.S. imperialism. This is the reality that lies beneath the rhetoric of Obama’s “brave” and “bold” stroke to “break with the past.”

The Cuban economy is in serious crisis. The old-line leadership of Raul Castro and Fidel Castro is looking desperately for new props of economic support, and is willing to wheel and deal with the U.S. imperialists. And over the last five years, economic ties, trade, and financial flows, between the U.S. and Cuba have been growing. In these conditions, the U.S. imperialists are making a major move—and they have the upper hand. The Cuban leadership, for its part, is trying to use normalization and opening up to the U.S. as a way to hold on to power as the economic situation deteriorates.

Normalization is very much about U.S. capital sinking its fangs into Cuba—to extract super-profits from the labor of the Cuban people, to tap into its trained professional strata, and to plunder the resources of the island. The financial press is reporting on investment plans and proposals being drawn up by the likes of the agribusiness giant Cargill and Fanjul Corp (owned by a Cuban exile) that controls Domino Sugar. General Motors and Caterpillar have hailed Obama’s announcement.

But there are bigger strategic issues involved. The U.S.’s new stance towards Cuba serves broader geopolitical objectives: to reassert and tighten U.S. dominance over Latin America—what they have historically and arrogantly considered their “back yard.”

In waging their “war on terror,” their war on the world, since 9/11, the U.S. imperialists have not paid as much attention to Latin America as they have to the Middle East and Central Asia. In these circumstances, Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez and now Nicholas Maduro, was able to stake out more independent positions from the U.S. It has become Cuba’s most important source of economic support—and a thorn in the side of U.S. imperialism.

At the same time, capitalist China has emerged as a major economic rival to the U.S. in Latin America. China is now the second largest investor (behind the U.S.) in Latin America. It is the largest trading partner of several Latin American countries, including Brazil, which is the largest economy in Latin America. China has negotiated an agreement with Nicaragua to finance and construct a canal that will be longer and deeper than the Panama Canal.

All of this is of concern to the U.S. imperialists. Their change in course towards Cuba, to bring Cuba back into its imperial network through normalization of ties, is part of maneuvering to reassert U.S. hegemony in the Western hemisphere.

Clarity About Cuban Society: It Is Not Socialist

The Cuban leadership uses Marxist phrases. The Cuban economy has certain formal features that make it appear to be socialist: state-owned enterprises and extensive state-financed social programs. But this is not the essence of socialism, and Cuba is not a socialist society. Socialism is the momentous revolutionary leap away from capitalism towards communism. The socialist revolution is about putting an end to all exploitation and oppression. It is about empowering the masses of people, through the creation of a radically new and different state power, to increasingly take responsibility for running society, to ever more consciously change the world and change themselves—with the goal of creating a world community of humanity, where there are no longer class divisions and social inequalities, no longer social antagonism.

The achievement of communism requires visionary vanguard leadership basing itself on a scientific understanding of reality and how society and the world can be transformed in the interests of emancipating all of humanity. This is not Cuba. The revolution that Fidel Castro led did not break Cuba out of the bounds of bourgeois economic, political, and social relations.

Before 1959, Cuba had been a “monoculture”: an economy based on sugar production for the world market, dominated by U.S. imperialism. Castro did not lead and mobilize the Cuban people to radically restructure this economic legacy. Instead, the Cuban leadership sought a “quick fix.” Sugar would remain king of the Cuban economy, and the Cuban economy would remain hostage to the world market. But in place of the United States, Castro looked to the social-imperialist Soviet Union as its market for sugar and its chief source of credit. (The Soviet Union had ceased being a socialist society in the mid-1950s.)

The Cuban economy remained dependent and distorted. It was unable to provide for its own food requirements. Most importantly, the labor and energies of the Cuban people were not being applied to the all-around transformation of society and advance of world revolution but rather to the reproduction of relations of dependency and exploitation. Cuba became a kind of repressive welfare state in which the masses are kept powerless and economically chained to the logic of world capitalism. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cuban leadership has looked for new fixes. Tourism was expanded on a large scale. Prostitution reappeared as a social phenomenon. Foreign investment was welcomed in to exploit natural resources. Venezuela provided Cuba with cheap oil—and this has helped keep the economy afloat. But the collapse of world oil prices is sending the Venezuelan economy into a tailspin—and putting new pressures on the Cuban economy. This is not socialism.

Clarity About Bullshit: “U.S.-Style Freedoms”

A narrative is pumped out by imperial ideologues and the media about the great benefits that “U.S.-style freedoms” will supposedly bring to the Cuban people. It is obscene:

Real Revolution

The Cuban people have suffered from direct domination by U.S. imperialism from 1898 until 1959, and then 50 years of U.S. economic blockade, military invasion and threat, and interference. The U.S. has no right to diplomatically and economic isolate Cuba. But the resumption of relations between Cuba and the U.S. on the terms being dictated by U.S. imperialism does not represent anything positive for the Cuban people.

What is needed in Cuba and the whole world is genuine revolution.—an emancipatory revolution that aims to uproot all exploitation and oppression, all oppressive relations and ideas, where intellectual ferment and dissent are fostered, where the conditions are being created for human beings to truly flourish. This revolution is a monumental and complex challenge in today’s world. But it is the only alternative to the madness of this system. And it is possible.




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Discussing Why It Is That "You Absolutely Need A Vanguard Party To Make Revolution" and the Responsibility That Comes With That

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

I led a discussion this week with a number of people at the core of a Revolution Club and close to the movement for revolution, on one of the most essential questions of the revolution, taking off from the Lenny Wolff article: “Why You Absolutely Need A Vanguard Party To Make Revolution.”

This was a very rich discussion and I wanted to share some of what we got into. (What follows is a bit long, but wanted to share excerpts from things that helped frame the discussion so others could have similar discussions across the country.)

First, I asked everyone to read the short piece from Lenny Wolff but also brought (and gave some people ahead of time) a number of other key documents.*

We broke the discussion into three parts.

First, is it true that you absolutely need a vanguard party to make revolution? If so, why? And if not, why not?

Second, what is the difference between a revolutionary vanguard party, in particular the Revolutionary Communist Party, and something like the Revolution Club—a very important form of mass organization for all those who think “humanity needs revolution and communism” and want to be part of “fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution.” (To use their two unifying slogans.) And a related question: What’s the difference between being a dedicated member of the Revolution Club and being in the vanguard party, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA?

Finally, I talked about the urgent need now for new initiators of a new stage of communism and asked people to speak to how they saw this challenge and what they feel are the obstacles to those who are wrangling with these questions really making the leap required.

The discussion itself was a lot of fun, and people were all really glad to be there discussing this together—breaking bread, clowning each other, but also getting serious about such an urgent question for the revolution. (I’m going to put some people’s comments in quotation marks for clarity, but these aren’t exact quotes as I’m going from my rough notes.)

I opened by reading the Lenny Wolff piece out loud and then I read something from a talk from Bob Avakian released last summer: “The Strategic Approach to Revolution and Its Relation to Basic Questions of Epistemology and Method.” This is in a section where BA talks about the slogan, and orientation, that “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution and Building the Party as Its Leading Core.”

The slogan that was out there for a number of years was “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution.” But it’s been changed to say “We ARE Building a Movement for Revolution” with the addition of “and Building the Party as Its Leading Core.” Why? Because it goes back to the point that I was emphasizing just a little while ago—that, out of all the organized expressions of accumulating forces, the most important is the party itself—that without a party based on the science of communism as it’s been developed through the new synthesis of communism, without a party based on the scientific method and approach of dialectical materialism, none of this, none of the stirrings, none of the struggles, none of the questioning, none of the upheavals, none of even the convulsions in society can go where they need to go. And if the party is not being actively built all along the way, in dialectical relation with building the broader revolutionary movement, then even if a revolutionary situation should arise, or at least the immediate potential for one—even if society should be deeply convulsed in a crisis that the ruling class has no easy way out of and that every move the ruling class makes only makes the crisis worse for them—even if that should come about, there will be no chance of its getting resolved in a way that would be in the fundamental interests of the masses of people, not just in this country but in the world as a whole, and ultimately all of humanity.

I made the point that this is a pretty bold statement on BA’s part, in particular “that without a party based on the science of communism as it’s been developed through the new synthesis of communism, without a party based on the scientific method and approach of dialectical materialism, none of this, none of the stirrings, none of the struggles, none of the questioning, none of the upheavals, none of even the convulsions in society can go where they need to go.” So, is this true?

People spoke to this from a number of different angles: “The goal of communism is grounded in a scientific understanding of what’s possible, but that scientific understanding doesn’t just apply itself, people have to take that up in an organized way.” Someone who’s reading an important talk from Avakian, “Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon,” drew from some of what she’s learning in that talk: “Marx made the point that rights can never be higher than the present economic system and the culture that flows from and is conditioned by that. All the ways people think about what their rights should be is part of, and dominated by, that culture. And it gets in the way of understanding things scientifically. For example, the idea of ‘absolute democracy’ assumes that we’re all on an equal playing field. But we’re not, there’s all kinds of unevenness and again, their thinking is shaped by the present economic system. So you need a solid core of leadership to lead people out of all the fucked up thinking that flows from this system.”

A little later, that same person made the point that in society today, people are going to be led anyway, but they’re going to ultimately be led in the wrong direction without a scientific approach to where they are leading and how. This was part of a discussion on the fact that there is a division between those who work with their minds and have the time and space to take up all kinds of intellectual pursuits and those who are basically locked out of the realm of engaging with ideas, the divide between mental and manual. This is not something that is innate in humans but flows from the oppressive division between exploiters and exploited and can be done away with through revolution. Part of a big contradiction in making revolution is that the very backbone force for revolution, those who catch the most hell in our society, are those who have been locked out of working with ideas. Individuals are able to break through this in a lot of different ways, and in the discussion there was someone who trained themselves to take up revolutionary theory in very difficult conditions. But for this to happen on a large scale, you need leadership: to bring that to them, break it down, and lead and struggle with them to take it up—both the scientific understanding, and even more important, the scientific method... and ultimately, to break through this division on a societal scale, you need to get rid of the system that enforces this.

This is related to a point that is not so emphasized in the Lenny Wolff piece but is in the Constitution of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA: that the scientific understanding of the need and potential for revolution and communism has to be brought to people from outside of their daily experiences and even the struggle against the outrages of this society. Just because you suffer from oppression or righteously stand up against it doesn’t mean you automatically understand where that oppression flows from, how it’s connected to other forms of oppression, and what it will take to get rid it. For a lot of the people in the Revolution Club who have come forward in struggle against the narrow identity politics and philosophical relativism (that you only have a right to speak if you directly experience something or that different people have different truths and that there is no objective truth), this was a point that really resonated.

Another angle that people spoke to was the importance of leadership, and in particular, a disciplined vanguard party, to lead all of what would be required to actually make a revolution that has a real chance of winning. One person talked about how you need a vanguard to lead the struggle of the people to not be crushed. Someone else stepped back to why you need a real revolution and talked about the importance of a party in relation to going all the way vs. just riling people up. Also, that revolutionaries are up against a powerful system and there would need to be very strong and tight organization to lead the process required to defeat and dismantle the violent repressive force of this system when conditions come into being to make that possible. That’s not going to happen with a loosely affiliated group of people. He also talked about how at the time of a revolutionary situation, there are going to be different groups fighting for different outcomes. There will be a lot of complexity to traverse—uniting with key forces, but not so that you lose sight of the ultimate goal... continuing to expose, in that very intense time, why it has to go all the way to revolution and not stop short with reformist programs... through all this, repolarizing in a societal way.

Someone else brought it back to a point in the Lenny Wolff article that what kind of organization you think is needed has to do with where you’re trying to take things. Sometimes people say the party is imposing its ideas on reality. That’s a wrong understanding. If you really confront the world—the total horror people have to live through, and that it doesn’t have to be this way, you can see the need to make revolution. The party is a team of scientists analyzing that reality, and working to change it, not imposing its preconceptions on it.

In responding to this, a young woman talked about struggling with some people in her family about why you need a revolution, and why you need to be serious about what it would actually take to make a revolution. But it was clear that her relatives weren’t just disagreeing on strategy, but had a different assessment of the problem and the solution. Again: a revolutionary vanguard party has to keep bringing it back to, and leading people to see, what is the problem and what is the solution. And be leading people to act to bring that solution into being.

Taking further this point about the importance of a vanguard party being scientific and how people misunderstand this, one person said a friend of theirs raised a concern about parties, saying it can be like they’re using a roadmap but what happens if the roadmap gets outdated? Will they get so stuck in the map as it was that they lose sight of the road they’re on in the real world? Or just try to plow through the obstacles in their path that have been built since the roadmap was drawn? In speaking to this, the young revolutionary said that you have to keep updating your map, and a scientific approach to theory, and the ability to learn and synthesize from the masses of people and the changes in the world, enables you to do that. A scientific method and the political line that flows from applying that enables you to be more connected to the masses and the changing reality, not less.

Before we moved on, someone repeated a point that a student who is newer to the club made in a recent discussion: “Before I thought these were theories that you just read in books, but it’s amazing to meet a party that is applying all this to reality.” Summing up from this, the person in the discussion talked about what it really means that BA has rescued the communist project. There is the reality that we don’t have to live this way, and BA has put the whole understanding of how we get there on a much deeper scientific foundation—and THIS is what this party is fighting for in the world.

Coming off all this, we moved into the second question: What’s the difference between a revolutionary vanguard party and a mass organization, even a revolutionary mass organization?

One person spoke to the need for discipline, that a loose mass organization won’t have the kind of discipline that a revolutionary party needs. Another person talked about how mass resistance enables people to raise their sights, but that’s not the same as a scientific grounding in revolution and communism—really understanding the problem and solution. Again, you need a disciplined organization to carry out the line and put forward the leadership of the vanguard. Also, a coalition or mass organization won’t have the same unity over scientific method. Someone else talked about how you need to be constantly assessing whether the party is still on the revolutionary road, and you can’t determine that from just being “on the ground” so to speak. So you need some people, in particular leadership, to be stepping back to assess that and to be leading a vehicle for revolution, a vehicle that is getting organized to make revolution at the earliest possible time—to actually lead the most radical rupture out of the dynamics and logic of this system.

These were all very important points, but the essence of what a party is and how it functions wasn’t fully in the picture. The most important thing about a party is its line, and that its line is wielded through democratic centralism. People in the discussion had all heard this term and many had been in some discussion of it, but there wasn’t a basic understanding of what this is and how it works... why this enables a revolutionary party to be “the best instrument to know and change the world,” as a friend of mine once put it in simple terms.

To get into this, I read from the Constitution of the RCP on what democratic centralism is. This is in the section on “Principles of Organization” which include: “The line of the party is decisive,” “Basic orientation—‘Our collectivity is our strength,’” and “Democratic centralism.”

Our collectivity is expressed and realized through the collective functioning of the units and other bodies of the party on the various levels. The entire party is welded together as a chain of knowledge and chain of command on the basis of democratic centralism.

The leadership of the party sets out basic principles and analyses, focuses attention on the key questions before the revolution, and guides the party through rigorous investigation and vigorous discussion of all this. This enables a rich process of wrangling and debate to take place throughout the ranks on a scientific foundation. Once the line is set, everybody enthusiastically carries it out into practice. Both aspects of democratic centralism—the wrangling over line and its unified implementation—are essential to the whole process of knowing and changing the world on the most correct and profound possible basis. The principles of democratic centralism enable the party collectively to not only draw from, and to synthesize, on a scientific basis, the ideas of comrades in the party...but also to learn from the thinking of masses of people outside the party, and to develop and strengthen its ties with them, as an important part of carrying forward the dialectical process of deepening its understanding of reality in interrelation with its ability to lead masses of people to transform reality in a revolutionary way, toward the goal of communism.

One key aspect of democratic centralism is the unified and disciplined functioning of the party, which is grounded in its fundamental unity, in terms of ideological and political line. The disciplined character of the party is also reflected in the following rules of functioning: the individual is subordinate to the collective; the minority is subordinate to the majority; the lower levels are subordinate to the higher levels; and the entire party is subordinate to the National Party Congress, or to the Central Committee chosen by the Party Congress, when the Congress is not in session.

In the discussion, we broke this down further and got into the analogy of a team of scientists. If we all agree on a certain experiment and approach and then someone on the team goes out and carries out a whole different thing, it’ll mess up the results: We won’t learn what we set out to learn and we won’t advance in our ability to change things. With democratic centralism, you’re committed to an overall scientific process, consciously subordinating yourself to that and to what’s needed to actually bring about the emancipation of humanity.

One person raised a question about democracy and was surprised to understand the role of “democracy” in a communist party because we are about getting away from what’s bound up with class rule, and therefore the need for democracy and dictatorship. Someone else spoke to this, that you have to look at what is the content of democracy and the need for that kind of genuine and full debate and discussion over line, in interrelationship with the centralized aspect, its unified implementation... to lead the process to where you actually can get rid of classes and therefore the need for leadership and the need for dictatorships and democracies. (There is a lot of complexity bound up with all this, which I won’t get into in this correspondence, but it was an important part of the discussion. Also, people didn’t realize that BA has been elected as the Chairman of the Party by the Central Committee since its founding, not self-appointed, and I spoke briefly to a point in the Constitution that taking responsibility for the selection of leadership in the Party is akin to taking responsibility for the line of the Party.)

Here, people started to talk about what they’re wrangling with about all this. One young woman spoke very honestly about the difficulties of stepping out of your comfort zone. “Work, laziness and generally being comfortable pursuing my life. I haven’t been as willing to accept what I’ve come to know about reality, that this—a real revolution—is what it will take. I guess you can say in some ways, ignorance is bliss. But then you can see what difference it makes, and has made to me and my life, to get into this, to learn so much more about the world and what’s needed. So, I don’t really know what is holding me back. It’s like there’s a part of my brain that stops me from fully jumping in. Maybe it is that individualism and not wanting to subordinate myself to the interests of humanity. Maybe wanting to cling to what’s comfortable. But then you look at that, and what’s comfortable about that when you know that the world is so fucked up?!”

Another young woman spoke to this, drawing on a discussion she’d had over the summer about a piece that we call “the passion paper.” This was written in 2004, in the early stages of the Cultural Revolution within the Revolutionary Communist Party, but was just published in Revolution newspaper last spring: “What the World Needs Now, More Than Anything Else, Is Communists: A Few Reflections on Individual Passion, Self, and the Revolutionary Process.” This young woman talked about how, “for some people, you’re told that the most important thing is pursuing your dreams. But I came to realize that I was following my dreams in a fucked up world, where most people can’t follow their dreams. And once you come to know that, your dream and what it sits on doesn’t hold the same attraction.”

The woman who’d been talking about getting out of her comfort zone also raised the question of fear. That you know you are going up against a powerful force and they have a history of going after revolutionaries.

In speaking to this, someone talked about how his own fear broke down through a process. You come to understand both that all this system has is its repressive violence and that it’s totally illegitimate. He quoted Cornel West in the recent Dialogue with Bob Avakian: “If all you can do is kill me, you’ve got a weak program.” He talked about having been afraid of getting arrested before, but coming to see that is all they have and then see why we had to put ourselves on the line for something far better, he wasn’t afraid anymore.

In coming back to the question of democratic centralism and subordinating the individual to the collective, someone asked how you let go of “your ideas.” “Like if you don’t agree with a part of the line even after debating it out, and you have to let go of the idea that what you think is the most important thing. In this society, we eat individualism for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. How do you let go of that individualism? How do you transform your thinking on this?”

Someone who’d gone through a lot of struggle to rupture with all that individualism, and proceeding from “what made them feel good, and fuck everybody else,” talked about the process they went through. “If you come to understand that this system is what’s fucking everything up and that you need a revolution, then you have to start evaluating things from that perspective. Am I contributing to that, or getting in the way of that? So then you have to examine the content of what you’re upholding. So what if it makes you feel good, if it’s getting in the way of getting free, then I have to rupture with that.”

Someone else picked up on the relationship between science and morality on this question. She talked about the need and basis for scientific certitude in the party’s line: that there is a basis for communism in the world today and it has to be brought about through revolution. This is scientific and, as with any science, it is falsifiable (meaning it can be proven wrong, but hasn’t up to now been proven wrong). “We have to stand on what we know and fight for it, while being open to being proven wrong. So once you come to understand that this revolution is objectively needed, and that holding on to wrong ways you think or things that have felt like important pieces of yourself but won’t contribute to bringing that revolution into being, it’s not so hard to let all that go. Including because you objectively know the world is so fucked up and doesn’t have to be, and that you are not more important than humanity.”

We also talked about how capitalism trains you to think of your ideas as property, but as BA has talked about, what’s important: the content of the idea or that it’s your idea? We got into the concept of intellectual property, the very real harm this does in the world today (what it’s meant that certain life saving medicines are patented and millions of people have suffered or died unnecessarily) but also how this gets in the way of the overall search for the truth. People get subjective when “their” ideas are criticized, or feel good when “their” ideas are upheld when really the question shouldn’t be whether it’s “their” idea or not, but what is true and the need to fight for what’s true. This is where the analogy comes in again to the party being like a team of scientists—struggling to know and change the world.

At the same time, there is and should be a tremendous amount of individuality (which is different than individualism). This individuality—the fact that people have different characteristics, different strengths and weaknesses, different ways of coming at things... all this—when brought together in a common, unified direction—is a great part of our strength. I talked briefly about the example of Clyde Young, a member of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party who died recently. This appreciation of who he was as an individual, what a wonderful and unique person he was, comes through in the beautiful obituary from the Party—his humor and mischievousness, his love of music and chess, his fierceness and determination in the revolutionary struggle. We miss him greatly and his death is a very real and painful loss. At the same time, he leaves very big shoes to fill because of his leading role. On the one hand, no one can replace him. At the same time, lots of people need to step forward to fill his shoes and to take up what his life was about. I told people this was also something they needed to think deeply about.

In bringing the discussion to a close, I read from the end of a talk given last spring from the RCP, “Where We Are in the Revolution.” It’s a longer excerpt but posed the ideological challenge very sharply, while providing important orientation for how to come at it, and how not to come at it:

...where I want to end is with this Party itself. Again, let’s go back to those problems posed at the beginning: that the rulers are too strong... the people are too messed up... and the revolutionary forces are too weak. We’ve talked about where we’re at with the first two of those questions, and how things can change. But without a party—without THIS Party—the people really have no chance.

So once more, let’s look squarely at reality. This Party has a great line, and it has a great leader in BA and its members are very dedicated. This Party is something truly great to have, truly precious—the fact that the advances, the lessons, of a whole stage of communist revolution, including the great struggles worldwide of the 1960s have not only not been lost but have been advanced in the new synthesis AND that there is an organization determined to apply that new synthesis, that line to reality, to carry it out and make revolution, is extremely important.

But not only are we not anywhere near as large as we need to be and actually could be, even in today’s conditions, we face other problems. Over the past decade we’ve been going through a Cultural Revolution within our own Party—one going right up against the ways in which all the trends I talked about coming off the defeat of the 1960s and then, even more significantly, the reversal of socialism in China had not only worked on the world as a whole but on our Party as well—which after all, could not and should not be hermetically sealed off from the world—causing some people to turn away from revolution, to think it was not possible and not even desirable. This Cultural Revolution, led by BA, has overwhelmingly been a positive and rejuvenating thing—in a very real sense it saved our Party as a party of revolution—even as that struggle continues, in new forms. But it has also cost us—people have deserted, and some have gone on-line and made it their mission to justify that desertion by attacking us—and BA in particular—in ways that objectively serve the enemy.

At the same time, while we do have younger people at all levels of leadership, a large part of our leading core are veterans of the 1960s—and we are not getting younger; age is taking its toll.

To put it very bluntly—to tell it just like it is—we are at a stage where we are either going to reascend the peaks of revolution, getting on a trajectory where this line and Party is increasingly influencing society and growing in strength, even as it is battling against repression, attacks and difficulties of different kinds... or we are going to break our bones and go out of existence; and should that latter happen, this will have incalculably negative and painful consequences for the world.

And yet there is a world to conquer! Think about Egypt, where three years ago seemingly out of nowhere—but NOT out of nothing—people in their millions rose up against the ruling regime. What would it have meant if, say, in 2006 or even 2008 someone in Egypt had given a speech similar to what I did today—a speech that laid out the possible ways in which that society—which at the time, remember, seemed VERY stable if you just looked at the surface—could possibly split apart, where the sources of stability could turn overnight into sources of challenge and change. Then think of the challenges that did present themselves in 2011 and over the past few years to the people in Egypt who had for decades wanted real change. Think of the important difference that the presence of a vanguard like this, with a base of support and an active orientation, a vanguard which could give leadership in that situation... think of the difference that would have made.

No, you would not have started out with a majority, or even close to that; and yes, you would have to struggle against all kinds of illusions about “leaderless movements” and “Facebook revolutions” and “the army and the people are one hand,” and you would have had to go right up against the violent religious fundamentalism and the violent misogyny and all that. At minimum, it would have been very hard going. But that’s been true of every revolution—no genuine communist revolution ever had an easy go of it, genuine communist revolutions go against convention and against the spontaneous channels into which people’s thinking and activity tends to flow, revolutions win by surmounting and transforming those obstacles, not by finessing them.

But what would it have meant if some people had said, five or six or even two years before things erupted, “let’s do this—let’s put our efforts into forging leadership that could actually lead a revolution, and use the time we have now to prepare the ground and accumulate forces FOR that revolution?” But in part because of everything I’ve described, including the international weakness of communism, nobody did, and now let’s look at the horror show that’s resulted—almost made even worse by people’s hopes having been raised, only to have them dashed. This is what happens—either repression or chaos—when you DON’T have a vanguard that can lead people to take things all the way. It’s not a choice between upheaval and no upheaval. It’s not a choice between suffering and no suffering. It’s a choice about what might come out of the upheaval and suffering.

And it’s not a question of whether empires will fall; every single empire in history has fallen. The question is what replaces that empire. If it’s just some new form of oppression, slightly cleaned up, with different echo BA on this, no, we’re not interested. We need this method and framework spread around the world, and we need in this country to strengthen the only instrument that can do that—the RCP, USA.

So this is very critical—this is why we have added to our slogan that We ARE Building A Movement for Revolution, a phrase encompassing this point, so that now our slogan is:

We ARE Building a Movement For Revolution, and Building the Party as Its Leading Core...

This is something for everyone to think about—if you’re just meeting our Party today for the first time, learn about it; if you support it, deepen that support; if you work with it, let’s strengthen that bond; if you’re in it, strive to take greater responsibility and initiative and to contribute all you can; and if you are drawing closer to it, as some of you are, then actively grapple with joining it.

There are people today doing that. Such people, as they begin to join and contribute on that level to the process of revolution and strengthen it, can play a role out of proportion to their numbers. They are, in a real sense, part of the new initiators of a new stage of communism, on an international scale.

Now, we should be very clear: nobody should join this if they aren’t convinced about the basic principles of communism. Everybody has questions, and everybody has to go through ruptures in their thinking to be in a position to seriously consider making the lifetime commitment that joining the Party is. I know I did. On the other hand, what drove me to clarify my thinking and make those ruptures was a growing understanding, conviction and sense of urgency that nothing less than revolution would deal with what I found to be, and was, outrageous, about the society and that some kind of organized force was going to be necessary.

To you who are grappling now with this, we know this is absolutely not a decision to be made lightly. But two things: one, work through those questions, don’t let ’em just sit there; and two, don’t come at this from “me out”—come at it from what humanity faces right now, and what it truly needs, and then look at your life in that context.

Where we are in the revolution is that there IS a Party that has the line, the leadership and the determination to actually defeat these oppressors... a strategy that can prepare minds and organize forces FOR revolution, to bring forward the thousands today who will lead millions tomorrow... that is willing to shoulder the responsibility to do what needs to be done... but where there is an objective need for those who want to see a new stage of communist revolution to step forward to take the most responsibility they can for it and to strengthen that Party.

This is not necessarily an easy life—you don’t get a lot of social approbation, or “approval”—there is the constant prospect of repression and often the reality of it, and this will only intensify... but you don’t have to cringe and turn your head away from the hard truths, either, and “tell yourself a story that lets you make it through the day”... you don’t have to numb yourself until all your passion is gone... But even more—you get the joy and exhilaration that comes at those times when masses of people DO break through the chains and mire this system puts on them and show their potential and at those times when progress, real progress, is made toward solving the problems of revolution, in theory and practice both. You get the overall joy, as BA concluded in the New Year’s statement, of “striving for a world where the suffering and madness that is now daily life for the masses of humanity will be gone, and whole new dimensions of freedom and of human potential will open up for people everywhere, no longer divided into rich and poor, masters and slaves, rulers and ruled. No longer fighting and slaughtering each other, but working together for the common good. No longer destroying, but acting as fit caretakers for the earth. This is communism, the goal of our revolution, a future—for the youth, for all of humanity—that is truly worth dedicating our lives to... The challenge is there. The leadership is there. What’s you."

There was a heavy sort of atmosphere in the room as people were feeling all this. A couple people were smiling broadly, deeply moved by the reality and the possibility. And a couple others were clearly thinking about the responsibility. It was pretty late at this point and we were moving to a close but someone brought up one more question we hadn’t quite gotten to enough: “What is the difference between being in the Party and being a revolutionary activist?” This is a very important question and something people are often confused about.

A young woman in the Revolution Club who’s a student and has been doing a lot of work on her campus to build mass resistance and spread revolution, talked about a recent experience where she got a deeper sense of this. She said she’s thought a lot about her campus, the obstacles, what we need to do to break through, etc. But she went to a recent meeting that was on a different topic, struggling to make a breakthrough in a particular sphere and got a much bigger purview—that she has been focused on her campus, but we need to be looking at all of society. She used the example of being an actor on stage, you’ve got your part, memorizing your lines, etc. But the Party is looking at how the whole thing is going, taking responsibility for all the parts, the direction of the play, etc. The Party is responsible for the whole revolution, not just one part of it.

While not a perfect analogy (including because everyone who is working with the movement for revolution should be looking at the whole thing), there was something really important in what she was getting at. Being in the Party is not a quantitative question—it doesn’t mean you just have to be harder working. It’s a qualitative thing that means you are taking responsibility for the line of the Party and taking responsibility for the revolution as a whole. I referenced back to what I read earlier about what it means in particular right now: the need for new initiators of a new stage of communist revolution. At a moment when we are in a rapidly changing objective situation with tremendous potential, there is a need now to “get organized for an actual revolution.” This won’t mean anything without a growing Revolutionary Communist Party at the leading core. All those who understand that have a responsibility to fight for it—actively and deeply.

* The supplementary pieces I gave to people to read were:
Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian
What the World Needs Now, More Than Anything Else, Is Communists: A Few Reflections on Individual Passion, Self, and the Revolutionary Process
Taking Responsibility for the Line of the Party–At the Highest Level
Egypt 2011: Millions Have Heroically Stood Up... The Future Remains to Be Written, A Statement by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
“1995 Leadership Resolutions on Leaders and Leadership, Part I: The Party Exists for No Other Reason than to Serve the Masses, to Make Revolution and Part II: Some Points on the Question of Revolutionary Leadership and Individual Leaders”[back]





Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On December 27 Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson set out to free-climb the Dawn Wall at Yosemite, something that had never been done and deemed by many to be impossible. In free-climbing the climber uses only her/his own hands and feet to climb; ropes are used only for safety and transport. On January 14, they completed the climb. A description of the wall in the New York Times gives a sense of the difficulty of what the climbers achieved: “The wall’s relentlessly smooth face has few cracks to penetrate or nubs to clench. One short section requires a sideways leap, feet and hands off the wall, to holds the size of matchsticks. There are overhangs. Water creeps through some of the few fissures, and ice periodically drops from above. A scale used to gauge difficulty ranks several parts of the Dawn Wall among the toughest to climb in the world.”


Climbing the Dawn Wall

“You’ve got to be mad to climb the Dawn Wall
Stark raving crazy to try it at all.
That rock monolithic can’t be free climbed
No way, I tell ya, no sense in your trying.”

But they studied the rock, with science and art,
They ate, drank and slept it, brain muscle and heart.
They plotted for years, they walked through each pitch
To trace out the route that “didn’t exist.”

They’d try it, they’d fail, they’d try it once more
They’d sum up lessons and fight the despair.
They forged a strong bond in rain and the sun
Driven, they knew, that the climb could be done.

Now high on Dawn Wall, they turn the thin cracks
To handholds, for leverage, to mount their attacks.
They sleep in a sling twelve hundred feet high
Above the abyss, beneath the starred sky.

Their fingers are bleeding—steady now steady—
Lotion and sand paper get their hands ready.
Six days at Fifteen,* Kev retraced his steps
Discovered his error, then on toward the crest:

The last stretch is taken, the summit in sight
Sheer beauty and awe from towering heights.
You said that they’re nuts to dare the Dawn Wall?
Not crazy—AUDACIOUS—to go for it all!

– Toby O’Ryan

*"Fifteen" is the name of a particularly difficult pitch.




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline and the Deadly Calculations of Capitalism

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On January 9, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline would bring oil from the tar sands region in Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska. From there, it would be piped on to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Obama’s State Department has been “studying” the pipeline and a decision by Obama on whether to approve the pipeline may come soon.

The battle over Keystone XL is an important front in the overall battle to stop the destruction of the planet. There is sharp debate within the U.S. ruling class over Keystone XL. The Republicans are pressuring Obama to approve the pipeline now, and Obama has threatened to veto their bill on the grounds that these bills undermine his presidential authority to make this decision. The State Department has already said Keystone XL would not worsen climate change because, they argue, even without the pipeline the logic of the market dictates the oil will be dug out of the ground and shipped somehow—so people should accept this!

This debate doesn’t revolve around the fact that it’s scientifically clear that Keystone XL and expanded tar sands production will further dangerous climate change and have other environmental impacts. Instead, it is being debated on the grounds of whether it’s in the “U.S. national interests”—the economic and and strategic interests of U.S. imperialism.

The planet stands at the precipice of a climate catastrophe. 2014 was the warmest year in Earth’s recorded history. A climate emergency is picking up steam, caused by the relentless burning of oil, coal and gas, deforestation, and other capitalist agricultural practices. The polar ice caps are melting with increasing speed; extreme weather is hitting harder and more frequently; the oceans’ chemistry is being turned more acidic, threatening life; and ecosystems are being compromised and even destroyed. Scientists warn of the compromising of human civilization and mass destruction of species and people, especially in the poorest countries, if things continue as they are. And right at this very point, the U.S. and Canada are drilling and excavating new oil and gas deposits—the very cause of the climate crisis—at record rates!

It’s been established that Keystone XL and the expansion of production of tar sands oil in Alberta, would be a climate disaster.

Oil from the tar sands is far dirtier and carbon polluting even than conventional oil. Tar sands oil is already flowing via other pipelines and means of transport, including the original Keystone pipeline. Keystone XL would shorten the route to the U.S., and increase this flow of tar sands oil by 830,000 barrels a day. According to a report by Oil Change International, this would result in the equivalent of an additional 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide being pumped into the atmosphere each year. That’s the amount produced by 37 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants. Keystone XL is only one of several new pipelines Canada is seeking to build to get tar sands oil to market.

A recent study by scientists published in January in Nature magazine said that to keep global temperatures from rising to calamitous levels, new sources of tar sands oil, as well as vast percentages of all fossil fuels, must be left in the ground. Climatologist James Hansen has said if the tar sands deposits in Canada are fully developed, this will mean “game over for the climate.”

In addition to the devastating damage to the global climate, tar sands pipelines are even more prone to dangerous spills than normal oil pipelines due to the corrosiveness of tar sands oil. These pipelines flow under tremendous pressure, and the oil is so thick it is mixed with other ingredients to keep it flowing. Tar sands oil production in Alberta is a vast environmental disaster in motion in other ways: poisoning indigenous people, their lands and water sources, and mowing down huge swaths of formerly pristine wilderness forest.

The idea that such a project would be approved, that this would even be up for evaluation, deliberation, and debate, that the Obama administration would be “studying the impacts,” that this pipeline is a political football in congressional battles, that the Nebraska courts have upheld the construction of the line through the state... all this is totally obscene and further evidence of how obsolete and irrational this system is, how unfit it is to serve humanity and protect the planet! And the yardstick that is being projected by ruling class forces that the pipeline is good or bad depending on how many jobs it creates is both utter hypocrisy (as if the powers-that-be care that billions of people on this planet cannot find work they need to survive) and an attempt to train people to think in terms of “me,” when the planet is at stake.

So why is this decision, which seems clearly insane, even being debated? This flows from the very logic of capitalism—from the inner drive of the system that compels individual capitals to make profit and more profit in order to beat out competitors, and from rivalry among the major capitalist powers for control over the resources of the planet and influence over key markets and regions of the world. Fossil fuels and oil in particular are foundational to the profitable functioning and global strategic requirements of the capitalist-imperialist system. This system runs on oil in particular. Seven of the 10 largest non-financial corporations in the world are auto or oil companies. The imperialist banking system is heavily invested in fossil fuel production, lending and advising on behalf of energy companies, including in Alberta. The U.S. military, and its wars, are fueled by the enormous guzzling of fossil fuels. The military is the world’s largest institutional consumer of oil.

For all the talk about an “environmental president,” under Obama there has been a huge increase in oil and natural gas production (through fracking) in the last few years. Obama has trumpeted that gas is replacing coal production, slightly lowering U.S. greenhouse emissions, while U.S. coal exports have increased and the economy is even more locked in to fossil fuel production for gas and oil. All this new investment and technology in extracting oil and natural gas and in the expansion of refineries has to be "made good." In other words, oil has to be pumped in ever-greater quantities and sold on the market in order to cover the huge costs of investment and to yield a profit. That's the logic of capitalism—no matter the environmental consequences.

Further, the U.S. is using increased oil production and access to tar sands oil from Canada as a weapon in its global maneuvering. Oil and gas are a weapon, putting pressure on Russia, Venezuela, and Iran—countries which U.S. imperialism regards as obstacles to its global interests and countries whose economies pivot around oil and natural gas production. More U.S. oil and natural gas production and U.S. access to tar sands gives U.S. imperialism more leverage in dealing with those countries—putting downward pressure on prices, enabling the U.S. to impose sanctions, etc. And this gives the U.S. more freedom to maneuver in the Middle East as well. (For more on the drives of capitalism to continue to burn and drill for fossil fuels, see “State of EMERGENCY! The Plunder of Our Planet, the Environmental Catastrophe, and the Real Revolutionary Solution,” Revolution’s special issue on the environment.)

This Republican-Obama debate is not over how to protect the planet now and in the future, no matter what Obama or John Kerry may claim.

Some of the real factors that this debate revolves around are:

The terms of this debate and the fact there is a debate over what is so clearly an environmental nightmare, is further demonstration that this capitalist system is not a fit caretaker of the planet.

Many environmental groups have been building important opposition to Keystone XL. It is vital that there be increased resistance now aimed at stopping the Keystone XL and all production of tar sands oil which is so destructive to our environment.




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Check it out

RESPOND: Exhibit at Smack Mellon Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Respond Exhibit

2014 will, in part, be remembered for people in the U.S. declaring “Enough! The police will not continue to get away with murdering our people.” Early in 2015, Smack Mellon, a gallery in Brooklyn, NY, is displaying an artistic answer to the epidemic of police murder and the refusal of the government to prosecute the killers. RESPOND is an exhibition that will feature 200+ artists, from unknown to well known—students and artists who have had solo exhibitions in major museums internationally.

The announcement for the exhibition states: “After learning of the grand jury’s decision to not indict Daniel Pantaleo, Smack Mellon postponed a planned exhibition in order to respond to the continued failure of the United States to protect its black citizens from police discrimination and violence. In order to channel our outrage into actions that can facilitate systemic change, Smack Mellon’s gallery space will be used to present events, performances and artworks that affirm that black lives matter, express frustration and anger with the institutional racism that enables law enforcement to kill black members of the community with impunity, and imagine creative solutions and visionary alternatives to a broken justice system.”

This is a very welcome development. Art spaces arrange their programming months and sometimes years in advance. For Smack Mellon to change their schedule is very unusual and a real model to learn from. Putting together a show of this scale in less than a month is unheard of. More people in the arts should be inspired by this approach.

In brief glimpses of the exhibition in preview tweets from the gallery, the work looks beautiful and poignant. This show is not to be missed.

The exhibition runs January 17 to February 22. In addition to the visual work on view, there will be several film screenings, performances, forums and community meetings. Details are on Smack Mellon’s website.




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Community Meeting Defends Revolution Books

January 19, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In response to a series of threats and attacks on Revolution Books in New York, a meeting was held at the store on Wednesday, January 14, bringing together friends of Revolution Books, community neighbors, and volunteer staff.

Store manager Clark Kissinger opened the meeting by describing the physical, phone, and Internet attacks. On New Year’s Eve a man entered Revolution Books, ripped the "Danger: Police in Area" poster by artist Dread Scott out of the store's front window, tried to tear it in half, then ran off. Later, someone dumped an outdoor book table into the street. A reactionary cop blog has posted comments about Revolution Books’ store window like: "If I'm in the neighborhood I'm gonna throw a rock," "If someone smashes the window and steals the sign, who they gonna call?" and "Where are the phucking drone strikes when you need one the most."

The store has also received threatening phone calls, emails, and hostile visitors. Threatening comments have been posted to the store’s Facebook page. Fabricated "reviews" of Revolution Books have been posted on Yelp such as "This place is horrible. While there, the owner was shouting all kinds of racial slurs to a customer. Then I saw a huge rat running around inside the store..." Some of these “reviewers” and commenters have NYPD emblems on their Facebook pages and actually identify themselves as cops.

While most of these recent (and still on-going) attacks have focused on the artwork against police murders in the store's front window, Kissinger spoke to the larger context in which these attacks are occurring. He pointed out that this bookstore is where people can find, engage, debate about the whole world—why it is this way, the deeply felt need for fundamental change and where people can find and meet the movement for revolution, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and the work of Bob Avakian. In fact, these attacks on Revolution Books are occurring within a much larger national pattern of attacks orchestrated by openly fascist forces with high connections that are directed against front-line fighters in the battle against police repression, the Revolutionary Communist Party, and its leader Bob Avakian (see “The Ominous Attacks Against the RCP and Bob Avakian”)

Kissinger said that Revolution Books has been standing in support of current upsurge against police murder as a critical part of being at the center of a movement for revolution and that the store was the co-sponsor of the major dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West, “Revolution and Religion: The Emancipation of Humanity and the Role of Religion," attended by 1,900 people, including buses and vans from Ferguson, Chicago, and Texas. All of this has raised a frightening specter to the powers-that-be of a serious revolutionary program connecting with those at the bottom of society “who catch the hardest hell every day.”

In this context, Kissinger pointed out that such attacks have the function of both unleashing official and unofficial violence in society to go after any forms of resistance as well as creating public opinion to support official acts of repression by the government. He called for actively meeting these attacks with stepped-up resistance and “more revolution.”

Download PDF for print | JPG for web

Dread Scott, whose artwork has become the focus of the current attacks on the store, explained to the meeting that the work was created in 1999 in response to the police murder of Amadou Diallo in New York City. “Unfortunately, it has become increasingly relevant since then.” Dread emphasized the importance of Revolution Books and its refusal to be intimidated by pro-police harassment. He added that the store is a precious resource because it is a conduit for people to connect with a way out of what is happening in society and how he had been influenced by reading the work of Bob Avakian for 30 years.

Those attending the meeting at Revolution Books came because they were outraged to hear about the attacks and threats on the store and disturbed that this was not more widely known. People were anxious to strategize and create a major political offensive to gather many more people into the defense of the store—its right to express itself freely and its right to function without police threats and harassment.

The meeting took up four important steps in response to the attacks on the bookstore. First is to contact and solicit support from authors, civil liberties activists and organizations, artists and well-known public figures in support of Revolution Books, both for the store's right to display artwork critical of the police as well as its right to exist and function as a valuable and unique revolutionary bookstore.

Second is to establish a “rapid response network,” a phone/contact tree of people who will respond to any immediate need for a show of support at the store or in the media.

Third is a media and social media campaign to bring these threats and attacks into the light of day and call on people throughout the city and beyond to support and defend Revolution Books.

Fourth will be a fund drive to raise the money needed to not only keep the store in existence but also to expand its impact in society.

Revolution Books has produced an image (available on the store's website) for people and other stores to post physically and online in defense of Revolution Books' right to display Dread's work, and a working group from the meeting will be getting it out through social media.

* * *

Some statements of support for Revolution Books

From Jim Fouratt, an early member of the Gay Liberation Front and a participant in the Stonewall insurrection:
“REALITY CHECK: What is wrong with putting this image in the window of a political bookstore. When is free speech trampled on let alone the erase of reality when a threat is made, a rock thrown, a poster ripped from the window and crumbled up and spat upon? The numbers of people of color killed by uniformed officers in the last period of time can not be erased except when people stop talking about it. Revbooks is not silent ... nor should you or I regardless of how you feel about the poster. Reality Check.”

From John Penley, Long-Time Lower East Side activist, anarchist and photographer:
“I know it is politically correct for Anarchists to attack the RCP and Bob Avakian but I won't do it because they have done years of organizing around Police Brutality (a lot of people have no idea how effective they have been at it), I have known and worked with RCPers in little towns in the South where almost no one was doing anything the least bit radical, I don't mind working with Commies and often go to their demos, they gave much support to the Tompkins Square Park revolt, Dr. Cornel West is a longtime friend of the party and often appears at their events and I have mucho respect for him and his judgment ... I criticize [Avakian] for too much cult of the personality, but his writing and analysis on things is often right on the money, but also their bookstores sell radical books of all types including Anarchist ones and many of my friends have been able to sell their work and make a little money because of the bookstores. I appreciate the fact that the RCP gives free subscriptions to the paper to prisoners (I hope you still do it); I know about it and got one in 1984 when I was locked up in federal prison for demonstrating against nuclear weapons at the Savannah River Site in SC. Anyway you Anarchist friends probably disagree but I as usual am honest and think attacking them is not helpful now as the right is orchestrating a campaign against them and I think that should show something to all.”

From Fran Luck, executive producer of “Joy of Resistance: Multicultural Feminist Radio” at WBAI, on Yelp:
“This is a wonderful store where you can buy books on peoples' movements that are taking place all over the world, histories of how past movements have organized (so we can learn from them how to do it), posters, T-shirts, buttons and more. The staff is warm and friendly and the, prices for all items are very reasonable. Plus, on many evenings excellent talks and films are presented at the bookstore, for a pay-what-you-can-afford donation. A real treasure in New York City. Once you visit, you'll want to come back.”

Harlem's Revolution Reading Circle—which is led by NYC Revolution Club—read together the article in about the recent attack on RB. Someone from the meeting called in a brief statement of support:

“We can't let anything happen to Revolution Books or to the leadership it provides. This is no game, it's real. We are moving forward, not going around in circles. We want RB to know that we have their back.”




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Women's right to abortion is in a state of emergency. This January 22 WE FIGHT BACK.

Reports from Speakout, Protests and Other Events

Updated February 2, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |



  • Washington, DC, January 22, 2015: Brave protesters demanding 'Abortion on demand and without apology!' STOPPED the so-called 'March for Life' (march for forced motherhood) – 8 were arrested.
  • Washington, DC, January 22, 2015: Stopping the 'March for Life'
  • Washington, DC, January 22, 2015
  • Washington, DC, January 22, 2015
  • Washington, DC, January 22, 2015
  • Washington, DC, January 22, 2015
  • Washington, DC, January 22, 2015
  • Washington, DC, January 22, 2015
  • Oakland, California, January 23, 2015: Stop Patriarchy Disrupts Anti-Abortion/Anti-Woman Rally by Black Preachers
  • Oakland, California, January 23, 2015
  • Oakland, California, January 23, 2015
  • San Francisco, California, January 24, 2015: Spirited Counter-Protest Against Woman-Hating 'Walk for Life'
  • San Francisco, California, January 24, 2015: Spirited Counter-Protest Against Woman-Hating 'Walk for Life'
  • Austin, Texas, January 24, 2015: Confronting the Anti-Abortion Fascists at the State Capitol
  • Austin, Texas, January 24, 2015: Confronting the Anti-Abortion Fascists at the State Capitol
  • San Francisco, California, January 24, 2015: Spirited Counter-Protest Against Woman-Hating 'Walk for Life'
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16



Interview with Sunsara Taylor On the Anniversary of Legalized Abortion:
Unprecedented Struggle Against the War on Women

February 2, 2015

Read more

Washington DC, January 22

Washington DC, January 22

Brave protesters demanding "Abortion on demand and without apology!" STOPPED the so-called "March for Life" (march for forced motherhood) – 8 were arrested.

» An Unprecedented Act: Anti-Abortion March Brought to a Halt in DC

January 23, 2015

Read more

» Standing Up Against the "March for Female Enslavement"

January 23, 2015

Read more

Oakland, January 23

Oakland: Stop Patriarchy Disrupts Anti-Abortion / Anti-Woman Rally by Black Preachers

January 23, 2015

Read more

San Francisco: Spirited Counter-Protest Against the "Walk of Lies"

January 25, 2015

Read more

Austin, Texas: Confronting the Anti-Abortion Fascists at the State Capitol

January 25, 2015

Read more

Confronting the Anti-Abortionists in Atlanta

January 22, 2015

Read more

Eyes Opened and Silence Broken in Nationally Webcast Abortion Rights Speakout

Watch the speakout:

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January 17, 2015: The evening opened with a live phone-call from Paris.  Eve Ensler, the Obie award-winning author of The Vagina Monologues and initiator of VDay and One Billion Rising to end violence against women, had called in: “I really want to thank Stop Patriarchy for its incredible efforts this last year in standing up against the people who are trying to push us back to the Dark Ages... to push women’s rights back in every sector and on every front, but particularly in terms of abortion rights... Whether it is domestic violence, whether it is sexual violence,whether its the violence of control over our bodies by the state determining when and if we have children, it is all the same origin, it is patriarchy.” Read more

Chicago: Wild and Defiant Counter-Protest Confronts Anti-Abortionists

Updated January 21, 2015

Read more

Standing Up Against All Forms of Oppression; Taking the Call to Confront the Woman-Haters Out to the MLK Protest in Harlem

January 20, 2015:

Read more

Houston: Getting into it with people on abortion on demand and without apology and opposing slavery in every form

January 17, 2015

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Young Leader Arrested for Street Theater for Abortion Rights

January 13, 2015

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Carl Dix Calls Out the LIE that Abortion is "Black Genocide"

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Austin, Texas, January 24, 2015


Chicago demonstration
Chicago, January 18, 2015




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

Outrage in Paris, a World of Oppression, a Crying Need for Another Way

January 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Wednesday, January 7, two gunmen associated with Islamic fundamentalist forces stormed into a meeting of the editorial board of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. They sprayed the room with bullets. Within minutes, a dozen editors, cartoonists, and others lay dead. Eleven more people were wounded in the attack, and four people died in an incident two days later where someone identifying with Jihadist forces took hostages at a Jewish store in Paris.

Millions of people—a collage of backgrounds and beliefs—took to the streets in outrage over the massacre at Charlie Hebdo. Jews, Muslims, Christians, and atheists marched together.

Profound questions are posed: Who, and what, is so afraid of parody that they would carry out a massacre of writers and editors in broad daylight? How can this kind of thing happen in this day and age? How can it be stopped? And what threads weave together the bloody conflicts that wrack so much of the world with the deaths in Paris? And what class outlooks—what underlying forces and interests—are behind the contending programs and solutions being proffered to the world.

Let’s not pull punches here: Any worldview that burns heretics at the stake, that issues fatwas against non-believers, or that murders those who ridicule it or its leaders and symbols is utterly illegitimate. Such outlooks cannot reveal, but can only obscure, the root sources of this planet’s cruel oppression and obscene inequalities, and do not offer any real alternative. They are thoroughly reactionary. The actions Islamic jihadists carry out—and the draconian fundamentalist religious law they impose where they are in control—are of a piece with a worldview born in the era of slavery, reflecting the outlook of slave masters and various feudal strata adapted to and, ironic as it might seem, given new life by a world dominated by tremendous social upheaval and misery churned up by modern forms of exploitation and oppression.

It is another bitter irony that Islamic fundamentalism, which arose with and represents exploiting classes, today appeals to and attracts some of those whose most fundamental interests—as a class of people—lie in overturning all forms of exploitation. Islamic fundamentalists find a hearing and attract followers from some of the most oppressed peoples in the modern-day ghettos of Europe, where immigrants are isolated and subjugated, and in the desperately poor slums of Third World megacities from Cairo to Kabul, because they appear to oppose oppressive powers that have dominated, exploited, plundered, and killed people for years, even centuries. But seeking order, solace, and some kind of pride in these old ways, which are rooted in oppressive relations between people, cannot emancipate anyone—not the most oppressed and downtrodden, and not humanity as a whole.

And the reality is that there is ANOTHER WAY to understand the world, and ANOTHER WAY the world can be that actually COULD liberate the oppressed, a way that corresponds to the interests of those in this world who have nothing, and corresponds to their collective—class—interest in getting to a world beyond exploitation and oppression of any kind. This is communist revolution—specifically the new stage of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian (BA). Get into what that is all about at Our Party is working hard to support efforts around the world to build a movement among these masses, and beyond, based on this.

* * * * *

That’s one side of the equation. But also at work are the interests of the rulers of “The West”—essentially the representatives of Western imperialism. They are working hard to twist and warp correct outrage at the killings in Paris into agendas, and outlooks, that will tighten the chains of oppression around the world, and unleash new and worse rounds in a vicious clash of reactionary forces that will only tighten the chains of oppression and suffering.

And they are moving quickly to seize on the confusion they are promoting to implement vicious repression against immigrants in Europe, to justify new invasions, assassinations, and torture around the world, and to use this incident to rally people around the grotesque assertion that theirs is the best of all possible worlds.

In response to the killings at Charlie Hebdo, the leaders of the world’s “great powers” and their representatives placed themselves in the front row in the march in Paris. They are the greatest source of exploitation, oppression, misery, and repression on the planet. They brand themselves as global defenders of dissent, tolerance, and secularism, of the separation of church and state, and as the global champions of “democracy.”

Bob Avakian, who has brought forward a new, vital synthesis of communism, cut to the heart of what that democracy is all about:

The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism. (BAsics 1:3).

What the rulers of countries like the U.S. and France preach, practice, and impose is facilitating and enforcing the functioning of a global system of exploitation and oppression (capitalism-imperialism). A system of sweatshops and child labor, obscene inequalities, racism, oppression of women, and environmental devastation. What countries like the U.S. and France bring to the world is exploitation of the billions by the few, and the prisons, murdering police, and global military operations that enforce that exploitation, ideas that justify it, and structures (like the kind of elections they stage) that facilitate it.

The hypocrisy is obscene. These global powers embrace the fundamentalist rulers of Saudi Arabia—where creating a liberal blog is punished with 1,000 lashes of a whip and ten years in jail, and where, on January 19, a woman was publically beheaded by authorities—one of the policemen involved posted a video of the gruesome killing on YouTube (it was taken down by YouTube). The “outrage” expressed by rulers of countries like France over girls kidnapped by Boko Haram or religious minorities massacred by the Islamic State are contingent on if and how this or that outrage serves their economic, political, and military interests. Sometimes the interests of the imperialists lead them to integrate and operate through Islamic fundamentalists, sometimes those interests cause them to oppose the Islamic fundamentalists, but those calls are, again, based on their interests as capitalist-imperialist exploiters. Despite what the imperialist rulers claim, these decisions are never made on the basis of “freedom of expression.”

Look at who they linked arms with in Paris: the Saudi rulers, the Egyptian military tyrants, and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, who is promoted by these “champions of tolerance and freedom” as the leader of the “sole democracy in the Middle East,” but who heads a state carrying out violent ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Palestinian people, and who last year directed the slaughter of 2,000 Palestinian people in Gaza—hundreds of them children.

The Western imperialists—those who rule countries like the U.S. and France—are seeking to rally people around their banner, to reinforce and influence people’s thinking in line with the notion that, with whatever flaws it might contain, theirs is the best of all possible systems, in particular in the way it allows for dissent and provides for the free expression of ideas, even unpopular ideas, in contrast with various Islamic fundamentalists and other “totalitarian” forces and regimes. But what is the reality of what their system is, and what it actually is grounded in?

In the eyes of capitalism, the capacity of human beings to build, to create, to think, to innovate... is simply a commodity to exploit, or to cast aside if those human beings can’t be integrated into the gears of exploitation. How much freedom of expression is there for a child picking her way through a garbage dump in a Third World megacity looking for food? For a young girl forced into prostitution? For sweatshop workers burned up in Bangladesh or whose youth is robbed from them in a Mexican maquiladora? (For more on the actual nature of what the rulers of countries like the United States and France bring to the world and enforce in their home countries, see “The Shameful Hypocrisy of ‘World Leaders’ Parading Around as Champions of Free Expression.”)

In short, the rulers of countries like France and the U.S. represent a global system of capitalism-imperialism that is the biggest source of misery, dehumanization, oppression, white supremacy, oppression of women, and oppression in general on earth. They enforce that system with massive militaries, invasions, prisons, killer cops, and torture chambers. They have no problem supporting, and carrying out repression and terror when it suits their interests, which is indeed almost all the time!!

And they are not a positive alternative to anything.

Islamic Fundamentalism and Western Imperialism—Contending and Mutually Re-enforcing

There is a deeper and more sinister dynamic at work between the “democracies of the West” as they proclaim themselves, and the forces of Islamic fundamentalist Jihad. The two reinforce each other, even as they are in conflict.

As capitalism-imperialism churns through vast swaths of Africa, the Middle East, and other regions, it uproots people from the land, from traditional communities and ways of life that at least seemed to be coherent and viable. Driven into megacities and slums, forced into sweatshops or prostitution, bombarded with the Internet but deprived of food, water, and shelter, and in the absence of a REAL alternative to the forces churning up their lives, people in what is called the “Islamic world” are driven to traditional values that seem to be in opposition to the forces of madness and oppression.

And in a world where the choices seem to be confined to McWorld/McCrusade vs. Jihad, every move to enforce structures and values that facilitate the operation of global capitalism-imperialism, every drone strike, every child murdered by an Israeli soldier, every “night raid” where U.S. soldiers murder, rape, and spread terror in an Afghan village feeds and serves to recruit new fighters for what seems to be the “opposite” force.

Conversely, every attack on iconoclastic journalists, “heretics,” or innocent people like the attacks in Paris, provides fuel for the rulers in “The West” to pose as champions of freedom of expression, opponents of theocracy. They invoke such incidents to supposedly justify intensified racial profiling, police-state raids, censorship, clampdowns, deportations, invasions, and to unleash virulent fascist forces.

Yes, every move by either side in this deadly equation strengthens the whole equation, and every time people on either side of the equation are suckered into identifying with or aligning with either side of this conflict, it strengthens both sides in this toxic clash.

Between these two utterly outmoded forces, it is Western capitalism-imperialism that is the primary instigator of the current situation—both through the “unconscious” workings of their system as it brings devastation, destruction, and, yes, literal slavery to the world; and through conscious policies in service of exploitation—particularly wars for empire—McCrusade to enforce a global system of imperialism.

This whole dynamic—with the clash of these “choices”—is insane. Really, the best anyone can aspire to is a world envisioned by, and enforced by either of these forces? It is long overdue that humanity burst out of the chains of both of these modes of organizing society, and thinking, and into a whole different kind of world!

For that to happen, starting right now, we must resist moves to manipulate entirely justified outrage into complicity or silent acquiescence to crimes being carried out by the very powers most responsible for the whole hellish situation the planet finds itself in. NO wars for empire! NO roundups and repression! NO racial profiling and unleashing of fascist dogs to attack immigrants or people from the Middle East.

And we must speak clearly: NO, your way of life is NOT the “best of all possible worlds.” It is a way of life that sucks the life and spirit from billions, is devastating the environment, and is enforced by drones and nukes, torture chambers and killer police. It is insanely and murderously ridiculous that THESE are the supposed choices, when humanity could actually be organized to end all exploitation, uproot all forms of oppression, and move to live in harmony with the environment?

There IS a REAL alternative: communist revolution. This communist revolution, as envisioned by BA, not only will “tolerate” dissent and “other voices,” it will encourage and value dissent, as it is only through dissent, struggle over what is true and right, that people can get to the truth and consciously change the world in the interests of humanity. You want a world where dissent and critical thinking are really valued? Then that’s one more reason to get with the communist revolution—to check out the work BA has done on this, to engage with it, and to work to bring it into being. You’ll find that work, and you can connect with it, at

A genuinely emancipating revolution—a communist revolution—involves millions and millions of people who are determined to bring about a radical change in society and the world. This communist revolution aims to overturn the grotesque and horrific systems and relations in the world that cause such untold and unnecessary suffering for literally billions throughout the globe, and which themselves also give rise to and are ultimately responsible for grotesque forms of opposition to this. The nature and aim of this revolutionary struggle is nothing less than the conscious and determined struggle of millions and ultimately billions, throughout the globe, to bring into being a whole new world without exploitation, oppression, and social inequalities.

A WHOLE VICIOUS CYCLE needs to be broken through—politically, morally, and on the ground. The events in Paris can in no way be seen as justifying yet more acts of aggression or repression—yet more drone bomber strikes against civilians, or other forms of aggression that take the lives of more innocent people, more repression against immigrants, more spying and surveillance—all or some of which is already being implemented “in response” to the Paris killings. People courageously taking a stand against all this can throw a wrench into attempts to channel people’s outrage in ways that will only make things worse. And people taking these stands will send out a message to people on the “other side” of the McWorld vs. Jihad divide that not everyone is going along with the program, and that something new and different must and can come forward in the midst of this madness.

As we wrote in the immediate aftermath of the killings and the French response: “What is urgently needed right now—in opposition to these kinds of harmful acts—is, in countries like the U.S. (and France) and all over the world, the building of massive political resistance and opposition to what the imperialists, led by the U.S. imperialists, are doing—the many crimes they have committed and are continuing to commit—and to the way in which they will seize on this incident to seek to justify and carry further these crimes. This should include resistance against repressive measures directed at immigrant communities and opposition to demonization of immigrants—measures and demonization which had been gaining momentum well before this incident.”

Such resistance can begin to create and contribute to a new situation, where people of the whole world see an alternative to the deadly “alternatives” of Islamic fundamentalism and Western imperialism, and conditions that make it possible for another way for humanity to become a powerful force, a real alternative to the world as it is. A world without exploitation, oppression, and social inequalities of any kind. A world where there are no borders between “have” and “have not” countries, no more degrading people because of what part of the world they live in or come from, no more oppression of women—either in violent degrading pornography or wrapping them in burqas—and where humans never again need to, want to, or do resort to bloodshed to enforce “might makes right,” but a global community of humankind—diverse and unique individuals doing their best to contribute their ideas and actions to a better world, without fear of reprisal or repression—working together to address the great challenges humanity faces.

Let’s start from that in how we understand, how we feel, and how we act in relation to the terrible events in France. And challenge others to do the same.

As you reflect on and share this article, send your thoughts and experiences to




Revolution #370 January 19, 2015

The Shameful Hypocrisy of "World Leaders" Parading Around as Champions of Free Expression

January 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On January 11, more than three million people took to the streets of France in sorrow and outrage to protest the massacre of journalists at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo by people identifying themselves as Islamic fundamentalists. This was a massive manifestation of a broadly felt and very justified sentiment: Nobody should be killed for journalistic or artistic expressions, even outrageous ones.

But when the leaders and representatives of France, the U.S., and their allies placed themselves at the head of the march of hundreds thousands in Paris, they had a very different agenda. Behind their rhetoric about “dissent” and “democracy,” was, and is, an outlook and agenda in service of capitalism-imperialism, a global system of exploitation and oppression. (See “Outrage in Paris, a World of Oppression, a Crying Need for Another Way.”)

That is why—ironic as it might seem—their immediate reaction to the attacks in France was to ban dissenting literature, lock people up for thought crimes, unleash the most ugly racism against immigrants, and institute police-state terror in the immigrant communities in France.

These “world leaders” represent governments responsible for censoring, blacklisting, driving into exile, jailing, and killing all kinds of dissident journalists and suppressing artistic and political expressions in their own countries and beyond. The imperialist rulers in the U.S. and other allied countries are seizing the moment to try to channel people’s legitimate outrage into support for the idea that their system—capitalism-imperialism and its “democracy”—is supposedly the best of all possible systems, in particular because it allows for dissent and free expression of ideas, even very unpopular ideas, in contrast to Islamic fundamentalism and other “totalitarian” forces and regimes.

British Prime Minister Cameron, for example, declared in his statement on the events in Paris, “We stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never be able to take us off those values.” But it’s blatant hypocrisy for those like Cameron to parade around as champions of free expression. Cameron himself is the head of the government that forced the Guardian newspaper to destroy computer hard drives that stored the files from Edward Snowden, who had exposed the massive spying conducted worldwide by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), with close cooperation from Britain’s security agency.1

In France, in the name of “security,” the government has launched a sweeping crackdown on unpopular viewpoints—including the arrest of a well-known comedian for a Facebook post along with dozens of others for statements deemed “hate speech” or supporting terrorism.2

Another official at the head of the Paris march was Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, the main enforcer for U.S. imperialist interests in the Middle East. The Israeli state has systematically murdered journalists who expose or simply report on Israel’s genocidal attacks on Palestinians. In summer 2014, for example, Israeli troops killed at least seven journalists and media workers who were covering Israel’s massacre in Gaza that killed over 2,000 people.3

Two other key allies of the U.S. and European imperialists, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, rank near the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index published by the group Reporters Without Borders.4

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill (in his book and film Dirty Wars) has exposed how U.S. President Barack Obama himself issued direct orders to the U.S.-backed government in Yemen that led to the four-year imprisonment of Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye for having reported on secret U.S. drone strikes that killed scores of civilians.

Silencing of Dissent and Oppositional Expressions Within the U.S.

And there is a long history of vicious repression to silence dissent and suppress oppositional political and cultural expressions within the U.S. Just to cite a very few examples among many, many outrages:

Books can be filled with example after example of such suppression of speech and activity supposedly guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. And the same thing is true in all the other imperialist democracies.

Looking Deeper at the Workings and Foundations of This System

So it is incredibly hypocritical for the U.S. and its allies to proclaim to be upholders and guarantors of freedom of the press and expression. But this is not just a matter of hypocrisy or the result of “rogue” government officials or police/FBI/CIA “running amok”—there is something deeper at work.

The reality is that the system that exists in the U.S. (and in France, Britain, etc.) is a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie—the class of exploiters and oppressors who control the economy and the state (the military, police, courts, and laws) and who sit atop a whole global empire. As Bob Avakian analyzed in his work Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? (cited in a more recent work, Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy):

the much-vaunted freedom of expression in the “democratic countries” is not in opposition to but is encompassed by and confined within the actual exercise of dictatorship by the bourgeoisie. This is for two basic reasons—because the ruling class has a monopoly on the means of molding public opinion and because its monopoly of armed forces puts it in a position to suppress, as violently as necessary, any expression of ideas, as well as any action, that poses a serious challenge to the established order. What Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto is more true than ever in today’s conditions: “The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.”

As shown by the police crackdowns against the Occupy movement and the current nationwide protests against murders, and by the other examples cited earlier—the powers-that-be bring down the repressive hammer whenever they face opposition that pose a challenge to their rule and legitimacy. Aside from police attacks on protests, it is very heavy and serious that especially after 9/11, the rulers have been openly trampling on what are supposed to be basic Constitutional rights—such as the ban on “unreasonable searches”—to fortify their repressive machinery. And for those at the bottom of society, especially Black and Latino people, “normal” life—let alone when they speak out or step out in any way against the way things are—means constantly facing the threat of incarceration and being under the gun of the police, La Migra, and racist vigilantes.

The U.S. and its imperialist allies have had relative social stability within their “home countries,” and in connection with this there has been allowance for certain forms of dissent, oppositional viewpoints, and political protest. The imperialists point to this, and the separation of church and state that generally exist in their countries, as proof of how qualitatively “freer” their system is in contrast to societies based on the doctrines and tenets of Islam.

But first of all, this separation of church and state is relative—fascistic Christian fundamentalists are a powerful force at the top levels of the U.S. ruling class, within the structures of the military, and in society generally. And this relative separation of church and state is tied in with the historical development of the U.S. and a handful of other countries into imperialist powers that dominate, exploit and oppress the majority of the world’s countries and people. The allowance for expressions of opposition is also within very definite limits—as we pointed out earlier.

And the relative stability of the imperialist “home countries,” in particular for the U.S. rulers, rests on their position as the top-dog power in the world capitalist-imperialist order—on the most ruthless exploitation and political repression of people worldwide. It rests on the imperialist globalization that has caused massive dislocation and social upheaval, like the expulsion of millions of people from their land in Mexico as the U.S. more thoroughly dominates that country—resulting in many of those millions being forced to make the dangerous border crossing into the U.S. where they are ruthlessly exploited in the factories, fields, and restaurants... It rests on enormous profit-making enterprises like the mining of coltan, a mineral essential to manufacture of cell phones, in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, where miners work under deadly slave-like conditions... It rests on totally unnecessary outrages like the deaths of 10 million children a year from hunger and preventable diseases... It rests on the degrading subjugation of and intensifying violence against half of humanity, including the international “trade” in women and child sex slaves... It rests on U.S. assassinations by drones (and murder of children and others counted as “collateral damage”), invasions, and occupation around the world, as well as backing for murderous regimes that carry out torture and other crimes on behalf of the imperialist godfather...

These and countless other horrors—causing immense suffering for billions of people in the oppressed countries as well as within the imperialist citadels—are what lie at the foundation of the capitalist-imperialist system. This is the reality behind the shameless posturing of the U.S. and its fellow imperialist godfathers as “champions of free expression.”

It would be deadly for people to allow their sorrow and outrage at the attacks in Paris to be steered into support for these imperialist monsters. The world today is marked by highly lopsided relations, dominated by these imperialist countries (with the U.S. as the most powerful among them), while the great majority of the countries and people in the world are caught in a web of extreme poverty as well as dislocation and upheaval.

Bob Avakian (BA) has analyzed that one key expression of this situation is the mutually reinforcing opposition between imperialism and its globalizing effects on one hand, and Islamic fundamentalism on the other. (See, for example, Away With All Gods!, in particular the section titled “Religious Fundamentalism, Imperialism, and the ‘War on Terror’”). And as BA points out:

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

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

BAsics 1:28

1. “Smashing of Guardian hard drives over Snowden story ‘sinister’, says Amnesty,The Guardian, August 21, 2013 [back]

2. “France Arrests a Comedian for His Facebook Comments, Showing the Sham of the West’s ‘Free Speech’ Celebration,“” Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, January 14, 2014 [back]

3. “Palestinian journalists under Israeli fire,Al Jazeera, July 11, 2014, [back]

4. World Press Freedom Index 2014 [back]