Revolution #375, February 23, 2015 (

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #375 February 23, 2015


February 17, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


...Look, we’ve got this leader, who is one of those rare visionary thinkers and leaders who comes to represent and usher in a whole new phase of things in their given field of expertise. In this case he is ushering in a whole new phase of the communist revolution and a whole new conception of the kind of society and world we need to be building for the benefit of humanity. Think of the role played by a Marx, or a Lenin, or a Mao at earlier stages of history. This is the kind of visionary leader we are talking about.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015


February 6, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


EDITORS’ NOTE: The following is an excerpt from a wide-ranging interview with Ardea Skybreak. A scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, Skybreak is the author of The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, and Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps: An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women’s Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation. In this part of the interview she speaks to the experience of attending the November 15, 2014 Dialogue between Bob Avakian and Cornel West at Riverside Church in New York City. The full text of this interview will be published in the near future.

Order from Insight Press

The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters, by Ardea Skybreak

The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism

Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters

by Ardea Skybreak

"This book will be of tremendous benefit to many..."
— Richard Leakey

Order from RCP Publications or from Revolution Books - New York City.

Of Primeval Steps & Future Leaps

An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women's Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation

by Ardea Skybreak

Ardea Skybreak:   Oh god (!), it was really great to be at this Dialogue. I’m so glad I was able to be there in person, and I’m also so glad that the livestream is available for anybody who wasn’t able to be there. I would encourage people to go to the website, and you can access it right there and experience the whole thing. And I am really excited that a high-quality film is being made of the Dialogue, which will soon be available as well.

I don’t even know where to start. It was like there was magic in the air. It was one of the most hopeful things that I’ve seen in a very long time. I think it was historic in many different dimensions: in terms of the topic that was approached; the people who were involved in it, the two speakers; the moment in time. I felt like I was able to see a great demonstration of morality and conscience applied to dealing with the problems of humanity—that both speakers stood out this way.

I am sick to death of the culture that prevails so much in this society today that is all about self-involvement and self, individualism, and so on. In contrast to this prevailing culture of basically small-mindedness, self-centeredness, selfishness, whatever you wanna call it, here were two people, Bob Avakian and Cornel West, who have different views on many important questions, but they came together to speak to the people together in a way that was projecting tremendous morality and conscience, a tremendous amount of social responsibility. And I thought, yes, please, promote this, let’s have more of this. I thought it was a wonderful example of how you could have principled differences—you could have differences and debate and discuss some of those differences in a principled manner, but draw out the points of unity. They were both so generous in spirit, and part of why is because they’re not focused on self, neither one of them; they’re different people, but one of the things they have in common is that they are both trying to think about the conditions of the oppressed and all the horrors that are visited upon so many people on a daily basis in this country and throughout the world...and what could be done about that.

And, in Bob Avakian’s case, he’s been spending his whole life, decades and decades, developing work that is deepening our understanding of why these problems are not just accidental, or periodic anomalies–how they actually stem from, originate in, the deeper structures of the system, and why it’s the system itself, the system of capitalism-imperialism, that has to go, and be replaced with a completely different system, before we could really emancipate humanity. He brings that to life, and he’s dedicated his whole life to studying and bringing out to people, in a very scientific way, in a very rich and developed way, why that is the case, what is actually needed, what kind of revolution is needed, what is the strategy to actually be able to get to revolution, how can we actually have a serious strategy for seizing power, for dismantling the existing state apparatus of capitalism-imperialism, and replacing it with a new state apparatus of socialism, socialist institutions that move in the direction of a communist world that would be a genuinely emancipatory journey for the majority of people. He’s done a lot of very serious scientific work on this over decades. Has he ever made mistakes? Of course. Will he make more mistakes? I’m quite sure—everyone does, you know. The point is that he’s willing to examine his own mistakes and the mistakes of others throughout history, throughout the communist movement, and in what’s been done by other forces in society—constantly being like a good scientist who is actually willing to do critical examination of all of this to try to figure out what’s right and can move things forward in a good way for the majority of people, and what’s wrong and can actually take things in very bad directions. And even when the mistakes come from the historical forces of the revolutionaries or communists in this country or around the world, he’s willing to examine that. And so, because of that, you feel like you’re in the presence of a real scientist who’s actually going to work and has been working for decades. It’s like a very advanced scientist who is at the top of his field in terms of analyzing empire, in terms of analyzing the sources of problems and the alternatives and how to get there, and what pitfalls to avoid, what are the dangers, what are the wrong kinds of thinking that people can fall into and do fall into. You don’t have to agree with everything, but you can really feel like you’re grappling with a scientist who’s being serious about this, and whose heart is with the people.

And what you see with Cornel West—and BA pointed that out in his part of the Dialogue—you see someone who is a very wide-ranging intellectual who’s studied many different questions, and who is very concerned about the history of oppression, but who also recognizes that it is not enough to just be an intellectual behind closed doors who thinks about these is important to play a role as a public intellectual and to actually help develop understanding and consciousness about these issues. He understands, in short, the social responsibility of a progressive intellectual. And he, also, is not concerned with self. He also is willing to take some risks and to stand up to slanders and be demeaned for some of this. He refuses to go along—and he doesn’t. I think one of the things that both these people show is a willingness to stand up under fire of a certain kind. We can talk about this later, but there are all sorts of people who wanna tear down people who are trying to change things in a positive direction.

So, not to go into that right now so much, but I just wanna say that there was something—I’m trying to find the words to describe the magical atmosphere. Here’s the thing: I think there were some people who were in attendance...I heard that they said afterwards, I wish every day could be like today. And I felt that myself. It felt like you were in the presence of...that there was leadership in the room, that there was a diversity of people in the audience, that there was a shared concern about a lot of the outrages and injustices in society and a shared lively determination to do something about it, rather than just accept it as the way of the world. So it was very encouraging.

And there were many other things. I mean, even the venue. Okay, look, I’m an atheist, I’m not a religious person. I don’t believe in supernatural forces of any kind. I’m a scientist who is deeply steeped in historical materialism, and I don’t get wowed or awed by the sanctity of religious places or religious venues. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the beauty of the religious art. This church, Riverside Church, is a beautiful venue, and it has all sorts of interesting and beautiful carvings in wood and in stone, and so on. It’s just a beautiful place, and you’d have to be stone cold not to be able to appreciate the art, even if you’re not a believer. And this was a wonderful setting for this historic event. It is a church that historically has hosted many controversial subjects and topics over the years and has provided a platform for the contestation of ideas. And I thought that, once again, this happened in this period in a way that hasn’t been seen in a long time, has never been seen actually. I can’t think of another example of exactly this kind of event in history, where a revolutionary communist leader of the revolution is meeting together with a revolutionary Christian so that they can bring forward what they have in common and explore the differences and put it before the people and encourage hundreds, thousands and ultimately millions of people to engage these very important questions that have to do with morality and conscience and with the future of humanity.

And the topic itself is so important, the topic about religion and revolution. Look, I’ve been arguing, and I know this is definitely BA’s framework, that you have to have a scientific materialist approach to analyzing the patterns of society—past, present and future—in order to figure out what to do about the problems of the world. Other people think that you have to apply a religious spiritual framework. That’s a different approach to trying to deal with some of the same problems. It’s a different approach to some of the solutions. It’s a different approach, but it doesn’t have to be in all cases an antagonistic difference. In this case, one of the things that I saw, and was inspired by, was that I thought there was a strategic alliance being modeled between a revolutionary communist... the revolutionary communist project, and progressive moral religious people, as embodied by Cornel West. Many religious people are not so generous of spirit, so moral, so solid in terms of their conscience. But this is an example of how two people can walk together and two actual sections of society can walk together in a strategic alliance. I thought that was very inspiring and should give hope to people.

And there was a lot that was modeled methodologically by BA in this Dialogue, in how he dealt with a lot of these questions. Many people are afraid to criticize religion—they think the people need it and you shouldn’t say anything. One of the things I really like about BA is that he’s never afraid to tell people what’s what, even if he knows it will make them uncomfortable, even if he knows that it’ll be controversial, that it’s not the popular way of thinking, that he will be attacked or even slandered or reviled for doing so. He’s just gonna tell people the way he sees things, on the basis of a scientific examination over decades of some of the key underlying phenomena. And, okay, religion, as Cornel expressed it very clearly, especially for Black people in this country, this is where many people live, this is very close to their heart, this is very intertwined with the history of resistance of Black people to oppression since the days of slavery, it’s very intimately tied in with people’s loved ones, and their feeling of who has led them in the past to fight against oppression. So it’s all very intertwined. And BA is very clearly expressing to people that he understands all of that, but that you have to let a lot of this go, you have to let it go because it doesn’t correspond to reality and it will actually take you off course and make it harder for you to actually transform the world in the direction that would benefit the majority of humanity. So there’s a difference there, but it is a difference that can be wrangled with and analyzed and subjected to critical analysis and thinking. And the audience was into it. The vast majority of the audience was really into this—BA’s presentation, Cornel’s shorter but substantial remarks, and then the dialogue between them where they went back and forth. So there’s a tremendous amount there. I think it’s worth re-watching and reviewing the livestream, and the upcoming film, because there’s a lot to learn from what was being modeled there, and by the whole event.

Re-broadcast of the November 15 Simulcast

So the speakers were great, the topic was great—and then I have to say about the audience: There was also a magical element, something that was greater than the sum of the parts, that came out of the connection, the presence of the audience with the speakers. That was something that I may be having trouble putting into words exactly, but I felt it very strongly at the time. There were 2,000 people or so filling this historic venue. And many came from the area, from New York, but many came from far away. There were people there from Chicago, from Ferguson, from Boston, from Hawaii, and so on. People actually traveled there, people raised money for some of their friends to be able to go and represent for them and for the ones who couldn’t all go and travel such distances. So you had people arriving, you had buses arriving, there was an excitement in the air, you got the definite sense that people felt this is an important day, a day where we’re going to talk about the things that are really wrong in the world, all the outrages and injustices, and, in particular, at that moment, there was a lot of focus on these police murders and brutality. And we’re gonna talk about: do we have to take it, or can we put a stop to this, and how are we going to go forward from here? And partly it is taking a moral stand, but it’s more than that. There was a lot of discussion with both speakers encouraging the people to stand up and fight this stuff. Both speakers were very good about doing that. And there was a certain electricity in the air when, for instance, the buses came and there were people from Ferguson who arrived, and they came in chanting, "Hands Up, Don’t Shoot," and the entire audience...this was before the start of the program...the audience stood up and joined in: Hands Up, Don’t Shoot! I’m getting goose bumps even thinking about that. And everybody felt it.

And part of what was really, really special about this was the mix of people. And this is something I give great credit to the Revolutionary Communist Party and the leadership of Bob Avakian for, historically, going way back to the '70s and since then. I don’t know any other organization that brings people together in the way that BA’s leadership and the Revolutionary Communist Party does, in terms of being able to bring together people from what are often referred to as basic masses, in other words, the people from the inner cities, the people who might not have much education, who are poor and the most oppressed of the oppressed, and for whom daily life is a constant struggle under the boot of the oppressors...bringing them together with students, college students and others, including older people, from the middle strata, from the intellectual strata, from the artists and the scientists, and so on. So you have a Ph.D. professor, or a prominent person in the arts, who is sitting with somebody who is from one of the hardest inner city ghettos in the country—and they’re together! They’re not looking at each other with suspicion. They’re not looking at each other with fear or disdain. They’re together in this because they are being brought together by this project and by this whole determination to put an end to this degrading and dehumanizing oppression, and to make a better world. And whenever I’ve seen glimpses of that, going way back even to the '70s, even in how I, myself came forward, that was one of the things that has inspired me. 

BA talked at the Dialogue, very movingly, about Wayne Webb, also known as Clyde Young, and what a hard life he came out of, and how he developed and emerged as a leader who became a member of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, and what his whole life trajectory was about, coming from the hard streets and from the prisons. You have someone like that, and you have people who’ve gotten Ph.D.s in science or who are prominent artists or prominent members of society who can be in the same party and in the same movement for revolution. That tells you something. It doesn’t tell you everything, but it tells you something important about the nature and characteristics, the type of movement that this is. And this bringing together—the great diversity of the audience being brought together, at this moment in time when people are waking up and standing up against some of these egregious police murders and other abuses in society, and becoming, once again, more determined to figure out if there’s any real way we can change things for the better—and coming together with these two speakers who, in their own different ways, were speaking to the people. One was a speaker of conscience who describes himself as a revolutionary Christian who was encouraging intellectuals to have principle and integrity and to stand with the oppressed. There are not many people from the intellectual strata these days who are doing that, and I salute Cornel West for taking that position and promoting it and serving as an example of that.

And then you have Bob Avakian standing there, on the basis of decades of hard work developing a whole body of work—theory to advance the science of communism, to advance the science of revolution, to more deeply explain where the problems come from, what the strategy is for getting out of this mess, what the methods and approaches should be to stay on track and actually build a better world, to build a society that most human beings would want to live in. That’s a hallmark of Bob Avakian’s work, working on building a society that most human beings would want to live in. But, to do that, you have to understand the need to sweep away the system of capitalism-imperialism and to build a completely different society on a different foundation—economically, politically, culturally. He was bringing that to life. And he was also bringing to bear the strategy for today. You know, it was brief [laughs]. Some idiots were complaining that he spoke too long. Actually, a lot of people were glued to their seats and wanted to hear even more, if there’d only been more time. But luckily, we have his whole body of work and the website at is full of books, articles, speeches. There’s the film Revolution—Nothing Less! which is six hours of exposition from Bob Avakian’s work, which people should really get into. There’s BAsics, which is a really good book to start with, which also points people to the major works that things are taken from. So there’s no shortage of materials to go to.

But at least, in that short period of time, you were able to get a feel for the strategy for an actual revolution, what it means to work towards that, what it means to provide leadership, what is the nature of leadership, what is the role of new people in relation to that, why everybody needs to come into this process, and there’s a place for you no matter where you come from, there’s a place for you in this process, in this revolutionary process, and there was a lot of modeling of the kind of culture in society that we would want to bring into being. And then there were some very serious discussions of the connection between the very necessary fights of today—the protests, for instance, around Ferguson, and so on—and the actual struggle for revolutionary power, the seizure of power. What is the connection, how does one help build the other?

And there was at least preliminary discussion of some of the work that’s been done to bring out the real possibilities for how to actually win. That working on revolution isn’t just a good moral thing to be doing—you actually have to do it in a way that you have a chance of winning and not being crushed. BA spoke about that some, and he pointed people to some key documents that are available on that website: the documents “On the Strategy for Revolution”; and “On the Possibility of Revolution,” which is a document that talks about the strategy for the actual seizure of power, and how you might have a chance of winning instead of being crushed by the forces of the other side. And then he was also pointing to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America—and...I have to say it just for a second here...that’s an incredible document that I don’t think enough people have actually looked at, or even leafed through briefly, to get a sense of it. There is actually a Constitution, for a new society, that has been developed based on the work brought forward by Bob Avakian, his whole new synthesis of communism. So if you wanna know what kind of society Bob Avakian’s work is trying to bring into being and lead people towards, you have something very concrete that you can dig into, that talks about the rule of law under socialism and what kind of freedoms there would be, how you would organize the economy, education...I mean, every imaginable question.

So, there was a lot presented there at the Dialogue, in a short period of time. There was enough, I think, to whet a lot of people’s appetite to actually go and dig further into this and join in, both in the struggles of today that are very necessary: again, things like the police murders, and on a number of other fronts, including what is happening in terms of women and the attacks on abortion—this is basically a way to enslave women, to deny them the right to their own reproduction, to control their own reproduction—and other abuses, and the wars, and the environment, and so on. There was an outlining of a lot of that, and then there was a pointing to where people could go to learn a lot more and to get into a lot more.

And something else I want to say about the Dialogue is that there was this wonderful affectionate, warm, rapport between the two speakers, which was also a model. These are two people who, with their differences, care about each other greatly, and appreciate each other deeply. There was a lot of warmth, and both people just came off as really warm, generous-minded individuals, and there was just a wonderful comradely atmosphere between them that I thought also was in sharp contrast to the kind of culture that prevails today. It was a good model of how you could have differences—and neither one of them was going to throw away their principles, you know, they had their differences and they were going to make those differences clear—but not only did they also bring out all the points that they agreed on, and the need to fight injustice and oppression, but they served as a model of how to handle differences. This is very important: They were modeling how people should relate to each other when they have differences. Because they were more concerned with the conditions of the oppressed and what to do about it than about themselves and their own egos. Because both people were much more focused on that, they found it in themselves to interact in a principled way, and with generosity of spirit and comradeliness. Nobody was—to be crude, nobody was kissing ass to anybody else. When there were differences, there were differences. But they were very respectful and principled and willing to dig into things. And that was a model that a lot of other people in society should actually be inspired by and try to emulate. This is what the people should do. When you have differences, you should struggle over substance and not...look, there’s generally way too much of a culture in current society of nasty attacks and gossip and snarkiness and petty complaints and petty criticism. When people dedicate their whole lives, and this is certainly the want to talk about Bob Avakian, he has spent his entire life dedicating himself to trying to serve the people, to trying to bring into being a better world, to fighting for that...he could have feathered his own nest, he could have just made out his own life to be better for himself. But this is not what he’s done. He’s dedicated his whole life to working on the problems of why there are so many outrages and oppression and so on, and what to do about it. That deserves respect, that deserves appreciation, and it deserves being looked into critically but deeply, to really try to grapple with what it is that he’s bringing forward that is new and different and should be learned from.





Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

BA Everywhere Dinners, February 15:
Warm, Enthusiastic, Determined... and Breathing with Revolution

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Gatherings were held on February 15 in several cities across the country to celebrate and raise funds for the upcoming release of REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Film of a Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN. On March 28, the film will be launched with screenings in major cities across the U.S. and online.

The February 15 gatherings were sponsored by BA Everywhere—the national campaign to raise funds to make Bob Avakian (BA) and the work he has done known throughout society. The gatherings were joyous and serious, and involved people from all walks of life. The centerpiece of the events was special advance clips from the forthcoming film. Programs also included viewing Carl Dix’s video on the call for millions to act on April 14 to STOP police brutality, a talk on making the film a big deal in society, and cultural performances—and people enjoyed good food. People made beginning plans for raising big funds.

Here are brief reports we have received from some of the February 15 gatherings:

New York

On the coldest day of the year, the burning desire to get to another and better world was felt by all. A man who had spent decades in prison and who had attended the live Dialogue in November commented, "It's so cold outside but so warm in here," referring to the atmosphere and the beautiful room.

About 90 people came to enjoy community and good food—but most of all they came looking forward to seeing the clips from the forthcoming film and to find out more about the Dialogue, about Bob Avakian and this revolution. Most of the audience had been at the live Dialogue at Riverside Church in November; but quite a few others had just recently learned about this, including a couple of people who had seen the trailer for the upcoming film earlier that same day on smart phones after church services. They were curious and challenged by what they saw and stayed for the whole program. A “revolution van” had picked people up from the neighborhoods, including families and several children, to bring them to the dinner hosted at a church in a wealthy area of Manhattan. One man who missed the van stop took a bus across town to get to the church, despite using a walker on the icy sidewalk. Two people came from New England and are returning with ideas of how to spread this and organize a showing of the new film there.

Watch NOW!
Re-broadcast of the November 15 Simulcast

A number of restaurants donated food, from a high-end vegetarian café nearby to chicken and bread from Harlem. Two musical performances set off the early evening dinner: a passionate and beautiful rendition of Bob Marley's “Redemption Song” and powerful Afro-Caribbean drumming.

People from the projects mixed it up with college students and artists; lawyers shared conversation and dinner with parents whose children were murdered by the police. What most moved the people—including folks from prominent church congregations—who were new to this to come to the dinner was having been “woken up” in the past few months to seriously thinking and agonizing and wanting to ACT about the situation of Black people in this country. People from one church described how they had participated together, with T-shirts identifying their church, in the demonstrations after the non-indictment of the cop who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold in Staten Island.

People who were just learning about the Dialogue and the movement for revolution were both shocked and excited by this audacious projection of revolution as the solution. Is it really possible? Weren't the past revolutions disasters? What is this new synthesis of revolution and communism of Bob Avakian's? Do you need leaders? Why does it have to be called communism, shouldn't the name be changed? Folks who came from a neighborhood of basic people wanted to know: "How can we convince those in power to give up their power?" Someone commented that people couldn't hear the Dialogue without getting more interested in BA. There was wrangling with all this and reference back to the rich exchange on just these questions between BA and Cornel West. Some people went home with materials to dig into on these big questions from the Revolution Books and BA Everywhere tables.

The film clips had a deep impact. The hustle and bustle of serving a meal to a big roomful of people quieted as the church staff along with BA Everywhere volunteers sat and watched. The audience was excited to hear after the clips were shown that the major first screening of the film in NYC on March 28 will be at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, an internationally prominent center for scholarship on Black history and culture. After listening to the talk from the BA Everywhere campaign given by Raymond Lotta, people gathered in meet-up groups. Everyone from brand-new people to longtime revolutionary activists got involved in brainstorming and making plans for spreading and fundraising for the launch of the film in all kinds of ways.

Los Angeles

Twilight on the rooftop of Revolution Books had an air of excitement and freshness as people of diverse ages, nationalities, and backgrounds gathered to celebrate and raise funds for the launch of the new film. Many college-age students, family members of those murdered by the police or imprisoned in the hellholes of this country, veterans of the movement for revolution and people brand new to it, along with Revolution Club and BA Everywhere Committee members, and others met each other, mixed it up together and experienced, or re-experienced, the Dialogue and the welcome atmosphere it generates of a whole different way the world and people can be. About 55 people came, and over $500 was raised.

A professional cook went all-out to prepare the spaghetti meal with vegetarian, meatball and clam sauces. A neighbor of the bookstore opened up his kitchen for the cooking. A young filmmaker, new to BA and the revolution, volunteered to work for his dinner ticket, and together with BA Everywhere Committee members transformed the roof into a large, candle-lit dining area.

A family member of a woman killed by the police in Compton was visibly moved by BA as he spoke about what they do to our youth, and how it doesn't have to be this way. He repeated several times that he wants to get more involved.

A woman professional from Eastern Europe who works with prisoners said prisoners need to transform themselves out of the life they are leading—they need something like this Dialogue. Her college-age son, who hates capitalism, was searching the Internet for communism and came across this bookstore and dinner, amazed there is something like this in the U.S. After seeing the Dialogue clips, her son asked how he can join, and met up with the Revolution Club.

A BA Everywhere Committee volunteer said the excerpt from the interview with Ardea Skybreak, which was put on all the tables at the dinner, was amazing. He thought it was especially important and true when she talks about the Dialogue as a beginning “strategic alliance,” which he thinks is critical for the revolution.

A man from a Middle East country had read Bob Avakian's memoir (From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist) before but had not seen the Dialogue, and decided to check out the dinner and the movement for revolution. He is against capitalism and thinks we need a revolution, but is not sure about what kind, and is open to learning more. Following up with him a couple days after the dinner, he had gone to and watched some YouTube clips by Avakian, and said he loved how BA answered the question, “If this country is so bad, why do people come here from all over the world?” He said he had never known how to answer that question until now. He is planning to start watching the Dialogue this week.

Many at the dinner commented with excitement on the announcement of the March 28 premiere of the new film. A Black woman said the film should be shown in public libraries. Several people who had heard parts of the Dialogue on KPFK radio want to help promote the premiere. Various other plans and proposals were raised. There was a sense of the potential for the movement around BA and this Dialogue to grow in leaps in the next few weeks and beyond.


Thirty people, including five children and two carloads from Detroit, came together at an Ethiopian restaurant in the middle of the Black community. Though it was bitter cold outside, the spirit was warm, enthusiastic, interesting, and very determined. The owner of the restaurant not only contributed space and food, but when there was a roof leak they immediately fixed it so we could have the celebration there. There was a wonderful blend of excerpts from the Dialogue, a talk about the BA Everywhere campaign, music, conversation, collecting funds, and plans to raise more funds. A Black revolutionary musician sang “I Can’t Breathe” (by The Peace Poets) accompanied by his guitar. Those words and those sounds rang out with beauty and meaning, filling the room with lots of soul. It was announced that $523 had been collected and pledged, getting a big applause. That set off some brainstorming about how to raise more money for BA Everywhere and for the high-quality film of the Dialogue.


An enthusiastic group of people attended a BA Everywhere fundraiser lunch. Some who came had been a part of the upsurge this past fall against police murder, and others have been active in different ways in the movement for revolution. It really was an internationalist feast. Five restaurants from different parts of Houston donated food and drinks for the luncheon. The video clips of the upcoming film of the Dialogue generated a great deal of excitement and anticipation. Everyone there was excited at the announcement that the Houston launch will be at the Encore Theater, a major Black theater just south of downtown. After expenses, we raised $190. And off the dinner, there is some momentum building with a core of people actively taking up BA Everywhere and building for the Dialogue film launch.

San Francisco Bay Area

About 50 people came together in Oakland to get involved in spreading the new film societywide. After a potluck dinner, to which many brought delicious food, the trailer and the excerpts of the new film riveted the audience. The crowd included a few who got involved in the fight against police murders, some immigrants, as well as a young woman we had just met the night before, protesting the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, and some college students. Everyone enjoyed sharing food and the conversation, reflecting on what they got out of seeing the Dialogue or the simulcast. People donated at the door and again after the speech, which brought in a total of over $1,000 towards the completion and promotion of the film. Some people came prepared to donate with $100 bills.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

What Is a Revolutionary Situation?

by Bob Avakian | February 9, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Editors' Note: The following is part of what Bob Avakian had planned to include in his Opening Presentation to the Dialogue on November 15, 2014 with Cornel West, although it did not end up actually being included. We are publishing it here because of the importance of the question it speaks to.


What is a Revolutionary Situation? A deep crisis and sharpening conflicts in society and in the government and ruling circles, where they cannot find a way to resolve these conflicts—in society and among their own ranks—which do not make things worse for them and call forth more resistance and further undermine people's belief in their "right to rule" and in the "legitimacy" of their use of force to maintain their rule; programs of "reforming" the system are shown to be bankrupt, totally unable to deal with what more and more people recognize as profound dysfunction and intolerable injustice of the whole setup; those, in society as well as among the ruling class, who are trying to enforce the existing system are on the political defensive, even if lashing out; millions of people are actively seeking radical change, determined to fight for it, willing to put everything on the line to win it, and searching for a force to lead them in doing so; and a solid core of thousands is united around a leadership, an organized vanguard force with the vision and method, strategy and plan—and deepening ties among masses of people—to actually lead the fight to defeat and dismantle the violent repressive force of the existing system and its power structure, and to bring into being a new revolutionary system that can provide the means for people to radically transform society toward the goal of abolishing oppression and exploitation.





Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

On the FBI Head's February 12 Speech:

We Don't Need to Build Connections Between Murdering Pigs and Victims of Police Murder


February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Many people who oppose police brutality and murder did a double-take when, on February 12, FBI head James B. Comey called on Americans to not “roll up our car windows” but be part of an “open and honest discussion” of the issues brought to a fore by–as he characterized it—“the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, the ongoing protests throughout the country, and the assassinations of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos...”.

But there was NOTHING good or positive in this speech. At the very time when people need to step up the battle against police brutality and murder, and at a time when the vicious nature of this system is coming into view for many, this speech—which is actually being used as a model by many mouthpieces for the oppressors across the nation—is sheer poison. It was aimed at lulling people to sleep—people among those who catch the most hell every day under this system, and especially many middle class people who have been awakened to stand with them in the past months. It is aimed at making people think that the powers that be are listening, and “get it.”

That is a deadly illusion! What Comey and the powers-that-be he speaks for (and is an enforcer for) “get” is the need to put a lid on the struggle and derail it. In the tens of thousands who were in the streets, in the millions who have been awakened, to one degree or another, to the reality of an epidemic of police brutality and murder, they see a danger that things could spiral further out of control, that people in their millions will NOT believe that there is any hope in this system, and will fight harder and raise their heads to look for real solutions.

We Don’t Need to Build Connections Between Murdering Pigs and Victims of Police Murder

Ever since the uprising in Ferguson after the police murder of Michael Brown, the system has been facing a crisis. The anger that burst forth in Ferguson had been bubbling up for a long time, and when it busted out nationwide the powers-that-be couldn’t just rely on their main “argument”—armored personnel carriers, tear gas, rubber bullets, and jail. Comey’s speech was a well thought-out attempt to make people feel someone is listening, and in the process distort reality, twist the terms of things, and defuse the struggle.

Comey said, “Unfortunately, in places like Ferguson and New York City, and in some communities across this nation, there is a disconnect between police agencies and many citizens—predominantly in communities of color.”

“Disconnect!?!” Strangling people to death for nothing like they did to Eric Garner? Mowing down people who are running away because they are accused of throwing rocks like they did to Antonio Zambrano-Montes?! Killing young children for playing with toy guns like they did to Tamir Rice?!? All these examples (which are very recent) are on one level only the sharpest concentration points of what goes on day-in, day-out, across the country. That is some goddamn “disconnect”!

This bullshit about a “disconnect” between police and oppressed people covers up the real situation. Police are murdering Black and brown people, getting away with it every day, instituting a reign of terror, and funneling those inner city youth they don’t kill into the genocidal prison system.

That “connection” doesn’t need to be strengthened through dialogue, through listening more carefully to each other, or anything else. It needs to be STOPPED! — NOW!

Spare Us the Officer Friendly Bullshit

A big theme of Comey’s speech was that the people who benefit most from this system’s police are poor and oppressed people. He claimed: “When you dial 911, whether you are white or Black, the cops come, and they come quickly, and they come quickly whether they are white or Black. That’s what cops do, in addition to all of the other hard and difficult and dangerous and frightening things that they do. They respond to homes in the middle of the night where a drunken father, wielding a gun, is threatening his wife and children. They pound up the back stairs of an apartment building, not knowing whether the guys behind the door they are about to enter are armed, or high, or both.”

What about Tamir Rice? On November 22, 2014, someone called 911 in Cleveland to report a child playing with a gun that was “probably fake” on a playground. Police rolled up and murdered Tamir Rice within two seconds of arriving on the scene. And nobody—including the U.S. IN-Justice Department or the FBI has arrested anyone for this murder.

What about Tyisha Miller? Friends found Tyisha Miller on December 28, 1998, unconscious, locked in her car with a handgun on her lap. They couldn’t wake her up. When they called 911, police came, broke out the window next to Tyisha’s face, and immediately opened fire. The police put 12 bullets in Tyisha’s back. Before, during and after the shooting, they were heard to make racist statements and cop-jokes.

And when pigs “pound up the back stairs of an apartment building...” they do so like U.S. troops in Iraq or Afghanistan—looking at anyone who breathes as the enemy. Like when an NYPD cop shot and killed Akai Gurley, a 28-year-old African American man for simply walking down the stairway of his apartment building in Brooklyn on November 20, 2014.

Who Comey Calls—And WHY?

A pivotal moment in Comey’s speech was when he said: “One of the hardest things I do as FBI Drector is call the chiefs and sheriffs in departments around the nation when officers have been killed in the line of duty.”

This is in line with the massive dose of lies and confusion put out, from the halls of power to the mass media—particularly after two NYC cops were killed on December 20—that the problem in America is people are killing police, not the other way around. That being a cop is a dangerous job where heroic people sacrifice their lives to protect everyone.

Last year, according to statistics compiled by the pro-police National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, 27 police were killed as a result of “felonious acts” in 2013. Their same report found that “firearms-related fatalities [against police] reached a 126-year low.” And last year, 461 people were killed by police—numbers that are widely recognized to be under-reported as such reports are voluntary for local police forces.

The loved ones of victims of police killings don’t get a call from anyone in power. They get insults. They aren’t called heroes, they get slandered and dehumanized.

People like Comey make one kind of call, and not the other, for the same reason that police almost always get away with killing people, often with a pat on the back. Because when police kill people, they are doing their job, doing what they are supposed to do under this system. Enforcing what Comey calls a “disconnect” between this system of exploitation and oppression and those it rules over.

And central to everything this system is about is the oppression of Black people. Ever since this system was founded on the genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of African people, the oppression of Black people has been a potentially explosive contradiction for the ruling class. Ending the oppression of Black people would be a key element of a revolution that would overturn this whole system. That revolution—to end all oppression—would, on day one, end police brutality and murder. This is the revolution that the Revolutionary Communist Party is working for.

So when Comey makes his calls, he is backing up those who are violently enforcing this divide, who are enforcing oppression, and doing “their part” to defend this whole empire of organized, systematic, relentless exploitation and degradation and despair—the system of capitalism-imperialism.

Blaming the Oppressed with the Old “Role Models” Lie

Comey pretends to acknowledge, to a point, that there is inequality and that society ignores it: “ many boys and young men grow up in environments lacking role models, adequate education, and decent employment—they lack all sorts of opportunities that most of us take for granted. A tragedy of American life—one that most citizens are able to drive around because it doesn’t touch them—is that young people in ‘those neighborhoods’ too often inherit a legacy of crime and prison.”

Comey’s acknowledgement of “inherited” inequality whitewashes the reality that inequality is not a vestige of the past, it is present day reality. And Comey twists and distorts the cause of inequality with the old “role models” bullshit. As if, if Black people just had better role models, that would end all this oppression.

Really? Is a lack of role models responsible for astronomical rates of unemployment for Black youth? Is an absence of role models responsible for the demonization of Black and Latino people in the endless stream of cop shows? For prison-like inner-city schools or Third World levels of health care in what remains of public healthcare systems? For housing discrimination and being the victims of predatory “sub-prime” loans? For being the targets of a vast and violent movement of highly-armed right-wing vigilantes?

No, this isn’t about role models—that sick lie blames the oppressed for their oppression. These are crimes of the system, enforced with an epidemic of police murder and mass incarceration of millions. (For a serious analysis of the causes, and solution, to the oppression of Black people see “The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need”).

Calling Out Bullshit and Coming Out Strong on April 14

The fact is that this system has no future for millions of the youth. That underlies why, as Carl Dix has put it, there is a slow genocide going on that could become a fast genocide. And that underscores the stakes of standing up to and STOPPING the epidemic of police murder.

And right now the movement to do that—to STOP police murder—is at a crossroads, as spoken to by Carl Dix (see “April 14 is a day when business as usual is disrupted to STOP police murder!”).

Right now people like Comey are running these kinds of lies and poison all over the place. Wherever these spokes-pigs run this, whoever they are, they need to be called out, confronted, and exposed with some real truth about what is going on, with truth about the real problem and solution, and challenging people to STOP the epidemic of police murder.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Fifty Years Since the Assassination of Malcolm X

Remembering Malcolm’s Life & Legacy—and Going Beyond It to Make Revolution and End the Hell on Earth This System Inflicts on Humanity!

by Carl Dix | February 20, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Fifty years ago this month, Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was assassinated. His is a life that we must never forget.

In the movie Selma and elsewhere Malcolm X is often being portrayed today as a radical sidekick of Martin Luther King, someone whose presence served to give the rulers more reason to give King a hearing. This is nowhere near true. In fact, Malcolm stood out from every other major figure of his time and was pursuing a very different path than King.

Malcolm X, 1963. Photo: Library of Congress

As Bob Avakian put it in his book, A Horrible End, or An End To The Horror?, “Overwhelmingly, the main thing about Malcolm X, which made him stand out from every other major Black leader of his time (the early ’60s), was his basic revolutionary stand: his defiance right in the face of the system; his uncompromising hatred for the oppression of the Black masses and his determination to fight against it; his bold disloyalty to America and exposure of its whole history of barbarous crimes against Black people and others...”

Malcolm was far more radical than other forces active at that time, and this represented a serious threat to the powers-that-be and their system. He played an indispensable role in the transformation of the Black resistance movement of the 1960s, from one that was trying to deal with the savage oppression Black people faced by getting into the system to a movement whose most advanced elements had come to see that system as the source of this oppression.

Malcolm was relentless in condemning the U.S. for its crimes against Black people. Especially after he broke with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (NOI), he called out the crimes the U.S. committed against oppressed people in Africa and other parts of the world. And he called out trying to deal with the oppression of Black people by trying to get into the system that was oppressing them as a foolish, no-win road. He ridiculed turning the other cheek while racist crackers got away with murdering Black people. He said he wasn’t an American and had sense enough to know it—he was one of the 20 million Black victims of America. Rather than appealing to the oppressors to give Black people equality because this would strengthen their global empire, Malcolm identified with the Vietnamese revolutionaries and others who were fighting that empire.

Malcolm told people they were fools if they thought they could trust the “foxes” in the federal government to do anything about the savage horrors the southern segregationists, the “wolves,” were inflicting on Black people.

And Malcolm didn’t hold back on telling people what the real deal was, refusing to wait until people were ready to hear what he had to say. He loved to tell his audiences, “I didn’t come to tell you what you want to hear. I came to tell you the truth, whether you like it or not.”

Malcolm’s work helped to move groups like the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to a more radical stance in challenging the vicious oppression of Black people. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale spoke openly of their debt to Malcolm, saying that his exposure of this system led them to take up self-defense against police brutality and to see the need for revolution right here in the belly of the beast, as we used to put it back in the 1960s and ’70s. On a personal note, Malcolm’s impact on SNCC and the Black Panther Party (BPP) was a big part of what enabled me to see that, as a Black person, I had no business going to Vietnam and helping drown the Vietnamese people’s war for liberation in blood. What the BPP and people like Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) and H. Rap Brown were saying about Vietnam played a role in moving me to refuse orders to go to Vietnam.

At the end of his life, Malcolm was grappling with and promoting revolution and revolutionary leadership, including Mao Zedong’s leadership of the Chinese Revolution. But he never made the leap to becoming a communist. His program for freeing Black people still contained strong elements of promoting Black capitalism. And he never ruptured with the patriarchal views that women should play subordinate roles in society and in the resistance movements, views that were widespread in the movements of the 1960s.

I know the system’s official story on his assassination is that it resulted from his dispute with the NOI, but to this day the full story on the assassination has not been revealed, and many questions remain. It is clear both that the imperialists were at minimum complicit in this assassination, having kept Malcolm under intense surveillance and having infiltrated his organization, and that vicious personal slanders, physical threats, and physical attacks against Malcolm by forces associated with the Nation of Islam played a role in allowing the government to murk up what actually happened. (This latter point is something today’s movements of resistance have to study, learn from, and not repeat.)

Malcolm wasn’t struck down for nothing. His was a life that was dedicated to calling out and working to end the oppression of Black people. And in death his legacy influenced many more people to look at the reality of what America was really all about and to take the path of revolution, rather than reform.

This is a legacy we must cherish, and we must go beyond. Malcolm posed the question—the ballot or the bullet, which broke things out of the terms of the time. His influence helped lead to the powerful Black liberation movement of the late ’60s and early ’70s, which shook America to its foundations and put the question of revolution on the agenda. The system responded to that movement both with some concessions, but also with violent repression. The movement of that time, heroic as it was, was not able to go all the way. But we do have the lessons of that movement to sum up, as part of figuring out just what it will take to end the oppression of Black people and ALL oppression once and for all.

To end the oppression of Black people, and all the other horrors this capitalist/imperialist system inflicts on people around the world—the wars for empire, the devastation of the environment of the very planet we live on, the violence and degradation women are subjected to, the government spying and the rest—will take revolution, nothing less.

We have the leadership needed to make this necessary revolution in Bob Avakian (BA), a leader who has developed a new approach to making revolution and to bringing into being, thru revolution, a society that people would want to live in, and a society that is in transition to a classless, communist world. BA was both profoundly influenced by and played a significant role in the upheavals of the 1960s, and summing up the lessons of those years—what was so great about them and what the people back then ran up against—has been part of BA’s work in developing a new synthesis of communism. The revolutionary society envisioned by BA would wipe out the oppression of Black people and other oppressed peoples as an integral part of getting rid of all oppression and exploitation. You can check this out in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). And BA has developed a strategy that could actually make a revolution in the U.S.—which you can get into in BAsics. And he leads a party that is urgently working to make that vision real.

This party and the revolution it is working to bring about are for real. If you hate the oppression of Black people, and the other horrors this system is enforcing on people in this country and around the world, you need to check out this party. You need to go to the website and study what it says and what it does. And you need to get with this party and the movement for revolution it is building.





Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Get Ready for International Women's Day
March 8, 2015!

Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!

Updated March 3, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


It is time to rise up against the enslavement of half of humanity!

Across the globe, women face rape and abuse at the hands of soldiers, law enforcement, fathers and brothers, even from those who are supposed to be their most “intimate lovers.” Women face thousands of years of stigma and shame, preached at them from religious patriarchs out of Dark Ages scriptures who command them to obey their husbands and fathers “as the lord.” Women—and young girls—are kidnapped, drugged, battered and stripped naked, and sold as sex slaves. Women are demeaned and humiliated through pornography. Women are imprisoned under veils and burkhas, denied the right to travel or work or even drive without permission from the men who “own” them. Women are forced to have children against their will—or forced to risk their lives to avoid this fate, with 47,000 women dying each year around the world from unsafe illegal abortions.

Everywhere that poverty, wars, and oppression strike, women are hit doubly hard. They are the first to be sold by starving families, to be killed in the name of “honor,” to be pulled out of school, to have their bodies violated during wars, to be super-exploited in dangerous work, to be left to care for children alone, and then to be mercilessly shamed for the circumstances they are forced into and for every “choice” that is available to them. And no matter the heights of “success” attained, women can never escape the threat of violence, rape, discrimination, disrespect, and a culture that demeans and devalues them, resents them, and seeks to punish them in countless ways.

There is nothing more brutal and outmoded, more outrageous yet “normalized,” more unnecessary yet pervasive than the abuse, subjugation, and oppression of women. None of this is “human nature.” It flows from the nature of the system. The oppression of women by men is woven into the very fabric of the system of capitalism-imperialism that rules over humanity. This system has inherited this oppression from previous forms of class divided societies, and the very dynamism of capitalism-imperialism—the very ways it continually redivides and reshapes the globe in its global chase for profits and domination—both undermines traditional forms of this patriarchy and gives rise to new, even more perverse and extreme expressions of it.

From Bob Avakian:

Break ALL the Chains!

Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution

As Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, has analyzed, all this dramatic change increases the need—but also increases the basis—more than ever before to bring forward a tidal wave of powerful revolutionary struggle to put an END to all forms of enslavement, degradation, abuse, and oppression of women. And to do this as a central and driving element of the revolution needed to emancipate all of humanity.

This International Women’s Day, revolutionaries everywhere should mobilize meaningful expressions of resistance against all forms of female enslavement. It is important to build these on the campuses among students, out in the communities among the oppressed, among those who have stepped forward in resistance for the first time in recent months, and out to organizations, and everywhere that revolutionaries go. On International Women’s Day itself, the fury of women should be unleashed in protests right up against the sites and institutions of hatred against women. Celebrations and dinners should be held to bring people together, forging new liberating culture and community, and bringing people into the movement for an actual revolution. People should get out broadly—and get into deeply—the way women’s liberation is gone at more fully and scientifically than ever before as a core element of the new synthesis of communism developed by Bob Avakian in the powerful pamphlet, “Break ALL the Chains! Bob Avakian on the Emancipation of Women and the Communist Revolution.”

Fighting to put an END to all forms of female enslavement has everything to do with making a revolution that can emancipate humanity. And, making a leap in this fight now is an important part hastening the development of—and being in position to seize on—a situation in which revolution becomes the order of the day.

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

Women are not bitches, hos, punching bags, sex objects or breeders.

Fight for the Liberation of Women Here and All Over the World!

Break the Chains! Unleash the Fury of Women as a Mighty Force for Revolution!






Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Revolution Interview

Dr. David A. Grimes

Author of Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Revolution Interview: A special feature of to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports and politics. The views expressed by those we interview are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our website/paper. writer Sunsara Taylor recently interviewed Dr. David A. Grimes, whose book Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation (Daymark Publishing) came out in December 2014.


Sunsara Taylor: Thank you for taking the time. You have this new book, Every Third Woman in America—could you tell us a little about why you wrote this book?

Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation

Dr. David A. Grimes: The motivation for this book was the fact that the story of the “bad old days” of illegal abortion in America may die out with my generation. I recently retired, and physicians younger than me don’t recall what those days were like. Hence, we have become complacent through our naiveté. That’s why I think much of America—and certainly the Republican Party—seems unconcerned about the notion of turning back the clock on American women. We simply can’t let that happen.

Sunsara Taylor: You talk about “the bad old days”—could you describe what you mean by that?

David Grimes: The idea that Roe v. Wade brought abortion to America is wrong; abortion has been with us as long as pregnancy has been. And estimates from before Roe v. Wade, back in the 1950s, were that between 200,000 and 1.2 million illegal abortions were done annually in the U.S. Roe v. Wade had little impact on the number of abortions done, but it did affect dramatically the safety of the procedures: Abortions moved from the back alley to safe operating rooms, doctors, and clinics. The safety improved quickly, and illegal abortion deaths nearly disappeared.

For example, in the year when I was born, more than 700 American women died through unsafe abortions. Today, only about 10 women die annually this way (compared with hundreds from pregnancy and childbirth).

Sunsara Taylor: Did you see women who suffered from illegal abortions that had gone badly personally as a young physician?

David Grimes: I did. Roe v. Wade came down my senior year of medical school, so in my early years of residency as a young physician in training I had several occasions to care for women who had still turned to the back alley. One day I was called to the emergency department to see a young woman whom I was told had a temperature of 106 or 107 degrees, which I thought was in error. It was not.

When I examined this woman with a very high fever, I found that she had a red rubber catheter protruding from her cervix. A dietitian in the next town over had put it in. This was an old standard way of doing illegal abortions.

Another time I was on call I was asked to see a college student from our campus who came in with septic shock. She had virtually no blood pressure and a dead fetal foot protruding from her cervix in suspicious circumstances. Physicians younger than me have not seen these kinds of horrors.

Sunsara Taylor: What made you decide to practice abortion in particular?

David Grimes: During medical school, I decided to become an obstetrician/gynecologist. Again, the laws were changing as I was training, and I became interested in abortion as a medical issue. I also became interested in abortion as a civil rights issue. I grew up in the South in the ’50s and ’60s. The sit-in movement started in my home town of Greensboro, NC, when I was a student. The first Black student to graduate from my high school sat next to me alphabetically in home room, so I lived through that experience with him.

I quickly came to realize that reproductive rights are fundamental civil rights, and what we’re struggling with today is just as important as what was happening with Freedom Riders in the 1960s.

Sunsara Taylor: Why do you say that?

David Grimes: Without reproductive rights, all other “rights” become irrelevant for women. If a woman cannot control her fertility, everything else becomes irrelevant. Women will never enjoy what life has to offer them until they can control their fertility and thus control their destiny; it’s just as simple as that.

Sunsara Taylor: I’m very interested in your own experience with the civil rights movement; the impact it had on you overall but also the impact it had on you to see this issue with women as a civil rights issue.

David Grimes: I grew up seeing these injustices in the South. I can still remember going to a movie theatre in my home town, and there was a separate Black entrance way up in the balcony. Those kinds of things are just obscene, and we’re seeing the same kind of mean-spiritedness directed toward women now. It’s cloaked in the specious banner of “improving safety,” but we all know what the agenda is—to drive women into the back alley once again.

Sunsara Taylor: You write that abortion is usually debated—in politics and in the courts—in a vacuum, leaving women’s lives out of the debate entirely. Could you expand on that?

David Grimes: That’s what concerns me as a physician who’s been caring for women for over four decades of practice. We usually hear abortion being discussed in the abstract; it’s not an abstract concept when a woman becomes pregnant. What are her alternatives? If she does not have an abortion, then by default she becomes a mother, and the risks, responsibilities, and costs of motherhood are substantial. And here we see the Republican Party, with mainly elderly, affluent, white men as their leaders, telling women how they should live their lives. It’s simply unacceptable.

Sunsara Taylor: One of the things I especially appreciated in your book—it gives the whole sweep of abortion history in the U.S. and other parts of the world, quite an encompassing book—but one of the things I was particularly struck by is the way it demystifies pregnancy and the development of new life. You refute the notion that “Life Begins at Conception!” Why do you think that’s a wrong statement?

David Grimes: There are two problems with that very common phrase that we hear, “Life Begins at Conception!” First of all, conception is not a discrete event; it’s a process that takes several days. Unless one is doing in vitro fertilization in a laboratory, you never know its timing.

Second, the notion that fertilization starts a “new life” is clearly wrong, because the egg has always been alive, and the sperm has always been alive. We don’t get new human beings out of inanimate objects like rocks. We can never say when life began; it began millennia ago, eons ago. We can define when life ends, but we can’t say when it begins; it’s just a continuum, like a torch being passed from runner to runner.

Sunsara Taylor: People say when the sperm and the egg meet there’s a new set of DNA, and you have some interesting examples that debunk the notion that that’s what a human being is, just a new set of DNA.

David Grimes: Right; many politicians have a limited background in science, biology, reproductive biology in particular, and they think there’s some unique event that takes place and starts a new human being. They say “ensoulment” takes place and there’s a new, unique occupant in the uterus. I ask them, then what happens some days later when that mass of cells splits and you then have identical twins; which one gets the soul? This example usually causes great consternation, because they’re suddenly confronted with the biological fact that fertilization did not define the new entity; a new entity has appeared days after fertilization.

There’s another biological oddity called a hydatidiform mole where an egg with a missing or inactivated nucleus gets fertilized by a sperm; all the genetic material comes from the father. The uterus fills with grape-like mush. No one would say that this mush has First or Fourteenth Amendment constitutional protections—or inheritance rights. Yet it began by union of an egg and sperm.

Sunsara Taylor: I was so glad to see that part of your book. It is no coincidence that the movement against abortion is also against scientific sex education, also linked to an assault on evolution, any comment?

David Grimes: Science denial cuts across lots of disciplines. I recently wrote in the Huffington Post on science denial, on similarities between the anti-vaccination movement and the anti-abortion movement. They have a lot in common. You’re right; science denial hurts public health, whether we’re talking about the recent measles epidemic or opposition to abortion.

Let me follow up on something I said earlier on the simplistic notion that a new pregnancy begins at the moment of fertilization. The easiest way to explain why that’s not true is yet a third example, and that’s in vitro fertilization. Let’s assume a couple that lives in Oakland, California, is going across the Bay to get in vitro fertilization done in San Francisco. Let’s assume that doctors there manage to get an egg and sperm to unite in a petri dish. Can the woman go back to Oakland and announce to her friends that she’s pregnant, have a baby shower, and start prenatal care? Of course not; the fertilized egg resides in another county! That clearly explains to lay people that fertilization of the egg does not mean she’s pregnant. Not until it implants in the uterus does pregnancy begin, so everyone, including the federal government, agrees that implantation defines the beginning of a pregnancy, not fertilization.

Sunsara Taylor: There’s a whole movement among fundamentalist Christians to adopt every fertilized egg that is frozen in any in vitro lab, thinking these are “unique people” they urge women to have them implanted and bring every single one of them to term. George W. Bush actually did photo ops with children who were produced this way, called “snowflakes.” This is how far this movement wants to go in terms of making women feel they have a duty to use their bodies to “save” what is clearly not a person.

David Grimes: Again, this reveals how little many people understand about reproductive biology. Here’s a fact that’s not widely appreciated, even among many doctors: most fertilized eggs die early on. They don’t even make it to seven weeks. There’s an enormous loss of fertilized eggs early on. About a third of recognized pregnancies are lost through spontaneous miscarriages. Early pregnancy loss is the norm in our species. Those of us alive today are the minority of our cohort of conceptions who survived the winnowing process of pregnancy. Women are born with millions of eggs. What happens to all those eggs? Men make billions of sperm over a lifetime, turning out hundreds of millions a day. What about all that wastage? That’s just the nature of reproduction in our species.

Sunsara Taylor: Going back to the “bad old days,” which is definitely the trajectory we are on with the legislation and the court rulings, the whole movement of violence against doctors. But, we’re not only going back to a time when abortion was illegal, it’s now being criminalized. Miscarriages, complications in pregnancies, and self-induced abortions are being criminalized—meaning women and those who help them will go to prison—in a way and on a level that did not happen before Roe. Am I right?

David Grimes: You are right, and it’s really horrific. What we’re seeing replicated now in state after state are conditions that prevailed during Ceausescu’s time in Romania in the 1960s and 1970s, when they actually had pregnancy police who monitored women’s pregnancies to make sure they weren’t ended prematurely. We’re seeing women tried for “crimes” of having a miscarriage. We’re seeing women driving across state lines to get care. Women living in west Texas crossing over into New Mexico to get care. Women in south Texas crossing over into Mexico. What we’re seeing is a recurrence of what I call the “sandwich years,” 1970 to 1972, when 80 percent of all the abortions in the U.S. were provided on the two coasts, in New York and California. Women suffered terribly, not just financially but also medically, from these long treks to get decent care. Imagine you’re a teenager living in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1970; you have to ride a Greyhound bus 1,200 miles each way to get care in New York City. No one should have to do that.

Sunsara Taylor: What’s your message for young people today?

David Grimes: Safe, legal abortion is fundamentally important for women’s health. Abortion will not go away; it will not be legislated away. The question that faces us as a society is what women are going to have to pay for their abortions, in terms of dollars, disease, degradation, and, for some, death. We cannot turn back the clock on women.

Sunsara Taylor: What do you think it says about the way society views women, that this right is actually being not only chipped away for years but now being hammered away at?

David Grimes: It’s a horrible indictment of the leadership of our country, especially the Republican leadership; the Republican Party has had a plank in its platform since the 1980s of total abolition of abortion, and at the most recent convention in 2012 there was no mention of any exception for rape or incest. This is truly mean-spirited. I’ve always used the analogy of once women become pregnant they’re regarded by many as a Tupperware container for nine months. Katha Pollitt in her new book uses another apt analogy; she refers to women as being considered “potting soil.” It’s terribly, terribly demeaning to women.

Sunsara Taylor: Do you want to say anything about the question of abortion internationally?

David Grimes: The situation around the world is gradually getting better; there have been several countries that have liberalized their abortion laws, but today, the World Health Organization estimates that about 20 million women will have illegal, presumably unsafe abortions every year, and, of those, the most recent estimate is that 47,000 women will die per year, needlessly, because of complications from unsafe abortions. The fact that almost all those deaths are preventable is a tragedy.

Sunsara Taylor: I want to thank you.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Porn is Real, and Really Must be Ended if Women are to be Free

by Rigel Kane | February 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


A lot of people see nothing wrong with porn. They say it's just a "fantasy." If you believe that or are not sure how to answer that when you hear it, I have three things to say to you.

1. The people in porn are real. It is produced in real life. These are real people, and in particular real women, who are providing you with your "fantasy"— really being choked, slapped, tied down, ejaculated on, penetrated in multiple orifices from many men at a time to the point of tearing, and called racial slurs, whores, sluts, bitches, and worse.

2. The society that makes people think that porn is "not a big deal" is real. It is a society that is capable and culpable of slavery, using and exploiting people for profit, waging war for the sake of controlling resources, and treating women as property. It's the same society that offers mail-order brides, pimps out 11- and 12-year-olds, justifies rape, and denies women the right to make their own reproductive decisions. The demand for porn is a reflection of a society that has eroticized and commodified women's humiliation and subjugation, and it further fuels the demand for all this very real degradation and dehumanization.

3. The effects of the fantasies being fed to you by porn are real. If you are watching porn, it is erasing your empathy for half of humanity. It is eroding your ability to see a woman as a full human being, and anything more complex or valuable than a tool for you to get off. A receptacle. It makes it easier for you to accept the outrages—and makes you a contributor to the outrages—committed every day against the half of humanity that is female. It makes it very difficult for you to be on her side.

It doesn't matter what gender you are or where you come from. If you have ever had a woman in your life that you have admired as a person—not just "as a woman"—you should confront the reality of what porn is and what it does, where it comes from, and how it's training millions to accept the unacceptable, and you should not only stop watching it, but also join the fight to End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015



Updated April 11, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The people have stood up. Beginning in August with the youth in the streets of Ferguson and continuing through the end of the year, all across the country, thousands and thousands of people took to the streets to stop the murder of Black and Brown people at the hands of the police. People blocked highways and bridges, marched through shopping malls, stopping commerce as usual, did die-ins everywhere, walked out from school, and shook this country to its core, opening the eyes of millions around the world to the brutal reality that time and time again police kill Black, Brown, and other people of color with impunity. For many people, this was the first time they had ever marched and demonstrated. This outpouring was long past due and was a real advance in the people’s struggle to stop this horror.

Now we are at a crossroads: will the authorities succeed in suppressing our resistance, or will we move forward on the offensive and bring even more massive waves of struggle to STOP the murder of Black, Brown, and all people by the police?


On April 14, we will take our movement to STOP wanton police murder to a whole new level. NO SCHOOL! NO WORK! STOP BUSINESS AS USUAL!

On this day, thousands of students must walk out of school, take over buildings and go on strike at colleges and high schools nationwide. People must gather and march in cities all across the U.S. The normal routine of this society includes wanton police murder of Black and Brown people. Everyone must disrupt that normal routine.

Our demands are clear:

The business as usual of police killing our people and never being punished is a concentration of an overall program of mass incarceration and all its consequences that has tens of millions of people living their lives caught up in the criminal “injustice” system of this country. A hidden part of this program is the demonization, criminalization, deportation, and murder of immigrants. This must stop. Will our righteous protest and the people’s determination to STOP this be suppressed with threats and empty promises? Will that business as usual continue? Or will we retake the initiative to lead, YES, millions back out into the streets, not stopping until the police murder of Black and Brown people stops? This is the challenge we face. All of us must act on April 14 to loudly declare we will not go back. Stop the police murder of our people.

This Call for a day of massive resistance all over the country on April 14 was adopted at the national meeting hosted by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network in Atlanta on February 7 and 8. Everyone needs to get on a mission to work from now to April 14 to make the day of stopping business as usual as powerful as possible to end the system putting its stamp of approval on police murdering people.

Contact us for more information:
Email: FB: stopmassincerationnetwork
Twitter: @StopMassIncNet  Phone: 646/709-1961

Join These Signatories And Others Who Have Endorsed April 14th.   Endorse Here.

Cornel West, Author, Educator
Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party
Elliott Adams, Veterans for Peace*
Ramona Africa, MOVE organization
All of Us or None (Inland Empire)
Rafael Angulo, Professor, USC, School of Social Work*
Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez, killed by NYPD, Dec 22, 1994
Fr. Bob Bossie (SCJ)
Lorentz Bruc, brother of Kami Stevens, killed by Long Beach Police, Dec 26, 2007
Bianca Carlisle-Parker, wife of Dan'te Parker, killed by Victorville police
Colia Lafayette Clark, Green Party, Grandmas for Mumia Abu Jamal
Coalition For Justice (Milwaukee)
Claude Conkrite, Secretary of the Black Caucus, Washoe County, Nevada*
Gerry Condon, Member of Veterans for Peace*
DeLisa Davis, sister of Kevin Davis, murdered by DeKalb County, GA police
Dr. Jesse Diaz, UC Riverside*
Dougie the Abolitionist, Georgia Coalition to End the New Jim Crow
Ophelia Ealy, mother of Michael Ealy, killed by Seattle Police Dec 28, 1998
8th Day Center of Justice
Eve Ensler
Tarik Farrar, Professor of African American Studies, City College of San Francisco*
Ty Ellis-Hadnot, brother of Barry Montgomery, beat nearly to death by Compton Sheriffs, now facing felony charges
Family of O'Shane Evans, killed by San Francisco Police, Oct 7, 2014
Tara Fenamore, Teachers College, Columbia University*
Maria Perez Giron, Adopted son Oscar Perez Giron murdered by Seattle Police Department
Nicholas Heyward Sr., father of 13 year old Nicholas Heyward Jr murdered by NYPD
Mike Holman, Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund
Dorothy Holmes, mother of son killed by Chicago police October 12, 2014
Yolanda Hurte, aunt of Dante Parker, killed by San Bernardino CA Sheriffs, Aug 12, 2014 and Donte Jordan, killed by Long Beach Police, Nov 10, 2013
Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP), Los Angeles
Stephen Jaeger, Professor Emeritus, U of Illinois, Urbana*
Khafre James, Hip Hop for Change*
Cephus "Uncle Bobby" Johnson, uncle of Oscar Grant, killed by BART police, Jan 1, 2009
Kelly Kunta, Skid Row Advocate, LA
David Kunzle, Professor, UCLA, Department of Art History*
Jim Lafferty, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild, LA Chapter*
Gloria Leiva, Mother of Donte Pomar, killed in 2004 by NYPD
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun MagazineChair, Network of Spiritual Progressives*
Jessica Loarca, mother of Jesse Delgadillo, killed by Long Beach Police, April 28, 2013
Ernestine Lopez, sister of Ernesto Lopez, killed by Phoenix police 2011
Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas
Marie Martin, mother of son who spent 38 years in CA prison system
Rev. Jerome McCorry, The Adam Project, Dayton Ohio
Deltra Paulk McCoy, mother of Dante Parker, killed by the San Bernardino CA Sheriffs, Aug 12, 2014
Travis Morales, Stop Mass Incarceration Network
Frank Nevarez, brother of Ernesto Lopez killed by Phoenix Police 2011
Efia Nwanganza, Malcolm X Center/Radio Station WMXP
April Nation, aunt of James White Shield
Angela Netter, aunt of Matthew Netter, killed by police in Silverdale, WA, July, 2010
Maureen O'Connell-Caputo, Don't Shoot Inc.
Arturo O'Farrill, musician
Reginald Owens, father of Na'im Owens, killed by NYPD, Aug 31, 2014 and step-father of Khiel Coppin, killed by NYPD, Nov 12, 2007
Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith, Jr., Sr. Pastor Allen Temple Baptist Church
J. Andree Penix Smith
, Mother's Cry for Justice, mother of Justin Smith, killed by Tulsa, OK Police, Aug 14, 1998
Richard and Pat Perez, Family of Richard "Pedie" Perez, Killed by Richmond CA police
Rev. Stephen Phelps, PC (USA)
Jean-Guerly Petion, artist
Mary Ratcliff, editor, San Francisco Bay View newspaper*
Tony Serra, lawyer
Charissa Shamley, loved one of Jedidiah Waters, killed by police in Federal Way, WA, July 21, 2011
Bill Shields, Faculty, City College of San Francisco*
Chris Silva, brother of David Silva, beat to death by Bakersfield Police, May 7, 2013
Dionne Smith Downs and Carey Downs, parents of James Rivera Jr., 16 years old, unarmed, killed July 22, 2010 by Stockton PD, in a hail of 48 bullets
Lynne Stewart, people's attorney and former political prisoner
Debra Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait
Toni Taylor, mother of Cary Ball, Jr.
Immortal Technique, music artist
Aleta Alston Toure, New. Jim Crow Movement/Free Marissa Now
Rev. Frank Wulf, Pastor, USC United University Church*
Juanita Young, Mother of Malcolm Ferguson, killed by NYPD in year 2000
United Against Police Terror, San Diego
Laurie Valdez, wife of Antonio Guzman Lopez, murdered by San Jose State University police*
Jim Vrettos, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

* org listed for ID purposes only.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Report on Stop Mass Incarceration Network Conference in Atlanta


February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From Carl Dix & Travis Morales

Early this month, more than 170 people gathered in Atlanta to set forth a bold proposal: disrupting business as usual—“shutting it down”—throughout society on April 14, demanding that police murder of Black and brown people STOP!

Even with the massive protests of last fall, the police are still murdering our people with impunity and this must stop!!! Just last week, police in Pasco, Washington, chased down Mexican immigrant Antonio Zambrano-Montes, and after he stopped and turned to face them with his hands up, they started firing, another person of color shot down by murdering police. Time after time, after time, after time, after time, the police murder our people and get away with it. This is intolerable—and this must STOP, and it will not stop without even bolder and broader action.

We are confronted with both a huge need and a huge opportunity. We are at a crossroads. The genocidal program of mass incarceration, the New Jim Crow of demonization and criminalization of Black and brown people, the wanton police murder of people of color with impunity, is accelerating. Either we are pushed back, forced to accept this genocidal program, the system giving a green light to kill our people, convincing many that there is nothing they can do, or we re-seize the initiative, build off the beautiful uprising of the last part of 2014 that shook this country to its core, opening the eyes of millions to the reality of the police murder of Black and brown people, a time all too short in which Black Lives did Matter to millions for the first time and go forward to bring people back out into the streets and actually very quickly begin to bring forth a determined movement of mass resistance that will not stop until the police murder of Black and brown people stops!

People came from all across the country: from Ferguson; from Seattle, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Stockton, California, on the West Coast; from Dayton and Cleveland in Ohio; from Chicago; from Houston; New York City; several cities in North and South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Washington, DC; and of course Atlanta. There were many students in the house, along with family members of police murder victims, religious leaders, formerly incarcerated people and family members of people currently in prison, immigrants and immigrants’ rights activists, attorneys, and activists. More than half the participants were African-Americans, and there were many white people as well, along with Latinos and some Asians too.


Over two days of deliberation, the conference came to a view that the movement to STOP police murder of Black people was at a crossroads; that if people failed to break thru the authorities’ attempts to suppress the resistance to murder by police, then the normal routine of this society, with police repeatedly murdering Black and Latino people and getting away with it, and with people accepting it in silence, will continue. There was a strong sentiment that the movement needed to go way beyond what it had done before.

“The resistance people mobilized last year to the ugly reality of police murdering people and getting away with it had the system hemorrhaging. And it needs to hemorrhage some more, so that everybody can see the reality of what’s being done and join us to stop it.” This quote from Uncle Bobby, the uncle of Oscar Grant who was murdered by police in Oakland, California, on New Year’s Day 2009, concentrated the spirit people brought to this conference.

And it united that the way to break thru those attempts at suppression was by mobilizing for April 14 to be a day of: NO SCHOOL, NO WORK—STOPPING BUSINESS AS USUAL; to say NO MORE to the system giving a green light to killer cops. April 14 was set as a day for thousands and thousands of students to walk out of school, take over buildings, and act in other ways on their campuses; for people to gather in cities across the country and SHUT IT DOWN!

We issued a Call for April 14 (A14), and we began work on a plan to spread the Call for this day of disrupting business as usual everywhere and for mobilizing resistance around key battles as we build up to A14. Two things that we set to do right away were to unleash massive outreach to students on campuses all across the country and reaching out to all the groups and individuals who have been active in this movement and struggling with them to take up A14.


We left the conference determined to get on a mission to make A14 happen. Doing this will include:

  1. Spread the Call for April 14 (available here) and #ShutDownA14 and enlist people everywhere to build for A14, in your schools, faith communities, neighborhoods, unions, on the Internet and Twitter. Take the Call to every student group on campus and every organization and group that has been out in the streets and all those that should be and enlist them in this effort.
  2. Make hundreds of thousands of copies of the Call, posters and stickers (these materials will be available at
  3. Take up the call for a national day of action for justice for Tamir Rice and other very young people killed by police on February 22.
  4. Take the Call for A14 to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the march in Selma, Alabama, and bring all of the people who are there into this.
  5. Mobilize for a day of Blowing the Whistle on brutal, murdering cops on March 14. Grass-roots groups in the communities should take this up. Students from elite universities and community colleges should be gathered to join in taking whistles into the communities that are targets of police murder to distribute whistles and organize people to blow the whistle when the police abuse people, giving a way for people to act and get organized.
  6. Mobilize immigrants and others to make April 1 a day of targeting the attacks on immigrants as part of building up to #ShutDownA14.

None of this can happen on the scale that it needs to without massive funds. We need to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for materials—palm cards, fliers, posters, whistles, print and Internet ads, etc., and for organizing expenses—dispatching teams of student organizers to campuses and sending speakers to outbreaks of resistance and to communities and campuses. Everyone from people facing this hell every day to professors and other professionals, sympathetic business people and philanthropists, and more can participate through donating (and raising) funds. Fundraising not only will enable this to happen; it spreads the word and enables more people to participate.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Scenes from Tamir Rice Day, February 22

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


February 22 was a day of action—in Cleveland and nationwide—calling for Justice for Tamir Rice and all other children who have been victims of police murder. Here are photos we have received so far from some of the actions.

Ferguson, Canfield ApartmentsCanfield Apartments, Ferguson, Missouri, February 22. Photo: Special to

Candelight march, W. Florissant Ave., Ferguson.
W. Florissant Ave., Ferguson, February 22.
Photo: Special to

Ferguson, MO—35 people came to a Justice for Tamir Rice afternoon vigil called by Ferguson-St. Louis SMIN at the spot where Michael Brown was murdered by killer cop Darren Wilson. People signed a “from Ferguson to Cleveland” poster with photos of Tamir and Michael, and black balloons were released to commemorate the stolen lives. Residents from surrounding Canfield Apartments and a university professor joined the action. In the evening a candlelight march called by Ferguson Frontline went from Canfield Apts. and marched defiantly up and down W. Florissant Ave., blocking traffic briefly. Mothers of police murder victims Vonderrit Myers and Cary Ball welcomed the crowd.


Cleveland, 1st district police headquarters
Cleveland, 1st District Police Headquarters.
Photos: Special to

Cleveland—Exactly three months after 12-year-old Tamir Rice was gunned down by police, people gathered at the front of the First District police headquarters and blocked traffic to protest the murder. There was a candlelight vigil in the evening at the site of Tamir's murder—which included Tamir's mother and his aunt, who read the names of children killed by police across the U.S.

At the scene of the police murder of Tamir Rice, February 22.
Nicholas Heyward Sr at Gowanus Houses in Brooklyn
Photos: Special to

New York City—Protesters gathered at Gowanus Houses, the housing project in Brooklyn where 13-year-old Nicholas Heyward Jr. was killed in 1994 while playing with a toy gun. Nicholas Heyward Sr. told the wrenching story of his son's murder and demanded that cops be indicted in all such cases. Earlier in the day, there was also a protest in Harlem.

New York City, February 22


Tamir Rice rally, Oakland, February 22.
Photo: Special to

Oakland—Rally and speak-out called by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network.

Chicago, February 22.
Photo: Special to

Chicago—People rallied on the west side at the site where 19-year-old Roshad McIntosh was killed by police last year. His mother was one of the speakers. In the photo, people hold pictures of Tamir Rice and a poster honoring the life of Roshad McIntosh. There was a candlelight vigil by Black Lives Matter later in the day.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Pasco, Washington:
Shut Down the Bridge! Resistance Against the Police Murder of Antonio Zambrano-Montes Continues

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


We received this report from Pasco:

February 21—Today, people here in Pasco, Washington, rose up and took over a major four-lane bridge over the Columbia River connecting Pasco and Kennewick. They were about a hundred strong, with many others there looking to them and supporting them. They were jubilant in this power, gaining hope and inspiration in the fight for justice and resistance in the face of the murder of Antonio Zambrano-Montes.

Pasco, Washington, February 21Special to


The Pasco police murdered Antonio, an orchard worker originally from Mexico, in cold blood on February 10. A cell phone video clip showing the cops killing Antonio, who was unarmed, has over 1.75 million views on YouTube as of today. (See “In the Streets vs. the Police Murder of Antonio Zambrano-Montes” for more on the murder.)

In the face of the defiant bridge takeover, for once the oppressive Pasco cops completely backed off. As the line of marchers advanced, many of the cars backed up behind them actually tooted their horns in a rhythmic beat, communicating enthusiasm and approval. A statement from Occupy Tri-Cities (which includes Pasco) started with the words “Today was very profound and historic...”

Earlier in the day, people had rallied, and speakers included those who have lost loved ones to police murder. A message to Antonio’s family from Oscar Grant’s Uncle Bobby was read aloud. (Uncle Bobby’s message can be found here at the Stop Mass Incarceration Network website.) A long march through the streets followed, with die-ins and other actions. During all this, word of the upcoming April 14 National Shutdown against police murder got out to many.





Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Immigrant Prisoners in Texas Rise Up Against Horrific Conditions

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Willacy County Correctional Center, February 20
2,000 prisoners at the Willacy County Correctional Center in South Texas rose up on February 20 against the brutality they are subjected to.


About 2,000 prisoners at the Willacy County Correctional Center in South Texas rose up on February 20 against the brutality they are subjected to. The federal prison, run by a private company, mainly holds undocumented immigrants.

According to The Guardian:

The unrest began when prisoners refused to come to breakfast or report for work in a bid to protest problems with medical services at the facility....

The inmates broke out of their housing structures and converged in the recreation yard, setting fire to several kevlar domes, or tents, that serve as prison housing.

According to news reports, fires were set inside three of the 10 Kevlar domes, and the prisoners “breached” the housing units and reached the recreation yard. Officials said guards used tear gas to “control” the prisoners.

Relative outside immigration centerRelatives of immigrants outside the Willacy Country detention facility tell the news media they are being denied information about the condition of their family members, and that the prisoners would not have risen up if they were not being mistreated.

According to federal officials, as many as 2,800 prisoners will be moved from Willacy to another facility because the prison is now “uninhabitable.”

While news reports are not very detailed about what led to this uprising, the horrific conditions at Willacy have been reported on in recent years by various groups. In June 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a report titled “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System.” Among the findings of the report regarding Willacy:

This is not the first prisoner action at Willacy. An uprising in February 2014 was put down with the deployment of 30 county sheriff patrol cars and injuries to prisoners.

And, as the ACLU report makes clear, the conditions prisoners face at Willacy are not unique but are prevalent at other immigrant detention centers, which hold more than 25,000 prisoners.

The prisoners at Willacy righteously stood up against the inhumane treatment they faced. People around the country need to support their courageous action, and oppose any punishment and retaliation that they may face from the government and prison authorities.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015
Your Revolutionary Resource Center for Black History Month

Updated February 16, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


This year's Black History Month comes at a time when we've seen a massive struggle for justice--beginning with the rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri, in August--unlike anything since the Black liberation struggle of the 1960s. Big questions are posed. Why—more than two centuries after the founding of this country and 50 years after the events depicted in the film Selma—are Black people still oppressed, still brutally discriminated against, and still brutalized and murdered by the police?

On the occasion of Black History Month, we have gathered here a selection of material for those who really want to dig into these questions. This material—including a syllabus that teachers can use for their classes or for other group discussions—speaks to the foundation of this country in slavery, the oppression of African-Americans which has continued throughout the history of the U.S. while taking different forms, and the present-day reality.



The American Enterprise— Property and Slavery
Peculiar Notions of "Freedom" and Profound Contradictions

Read more

How This System Has Betrayed Black People: Crucial Turning Points

by Bob Avakian

Read more

Video clips from Bob Avakian's 2003 talk Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About:

"They're selling postcards of the hanging"

"Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence"

"What to the slave is your fourth of July? From the past to the present"

"The police, Black youth, and what kind of system is this?"

From the Michael Slate Radio Show.... 

Interview with author Edward Baptist:

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

Read more

Interview with Author Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow:
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Read more

Interview with Author Alice Goffman

On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City

Read more

Interview with Author Douglas A. Blackmon
Slavery by Another Name
Re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

Read more

Interview with filmmaker Stanley Nelson

Freedom Summer

Read more

From Q&A for the 7 Talks by Bob Avakian: response to question (#9) about "the oppression of Black people being a foundational part of how this society formed" and "the struggle of Black people being an Achilles heel for this system."

The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need
A special issue of newspaper

Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy

by Bob Avakian

Two Constitutions, Two Different Systems, Two Different Futures for African-American People
(a series)

» Part 1: A Slaveholders' Union
» Part 2: Reconstruction, and the First Great Betrayal, 1867-1896
» Part 3: Battleground Over Segregated Education in the 1950s and 1960s
» Part 4: Breaking Chains in a New Socialist Society




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Syllabus for Black History Month Discussions

Updated February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


For this month, a team working with has been developing a syllabus that can be used for groupings of people getting together to engage in these discussions—in classrooms, conferences, living room gatherings and meetings large and small.

To help guide the discussions, we are suggesting an array of topics/questions that can be taken up. A reading list for each topic will be provided, which includes works from Bob Avakian, Revolution newspaper/ and other publications. And for each session—we are providing some questions to spark off the discussion.

This syllabus is in development. Write to with any suggestions and questions as well as responses and experience gained in taking up these discussions.


Readings/video clips:

1. BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

2. “The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need,” special issue of Revolution/, sections titled “The Rise of Capital—on a Foundation of Slavery and Genocide” and “There Would Be No United States as We Now Know It Today Without Slavery.”

3. Three clips from the DVD REVOLUTION: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian (see the embedded clips on the Resource page):

“They are selling postcards of the hanging”

“Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence”

“What To The Slave Is Your Fourth of July? From the Past to the Present”



1. The American Enterprise—Property and Slavery Peculiar Notions of “Freedom” and Profound Contradictions, by Bob Avakian

2. Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, by Bob Avakian, in particular the section “Jeffersonian Democracy, Ideals, Illusions, and Reality” (pp. 3-8 in the print edition)



1. The U.S. Constitution and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal): Two Constitutions, Two Different Systems, Two Different Futures for African-American People

2. A Question Sharply Posed—Nat Turner or Thomas Jefferson, by Bob Avakian

For further study: 

1. Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, by Bob Avakian

2. Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, by Henry Wiencek (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)



1. The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need, special issue of Revolution/ sections titled: ‘The First Betrayal, after Slavery”; “Aftermath of the 60s: The Second Betrayal”

2. Three Bob Avakian

3. How This System Has Betrayed Black People: Crucial Turning Points, by Bob Avakian

4. Two Constitutions, Two Different Systems, Two Different Futures for African-American People , Part 2: Reconstruction and the First Great Betrayal, 1867-1896 Part 3:  Battle Over Segregated Education in the 1950s and 1960s.

Additional readings:

1. Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian, Session 1.

2. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander (The New Press)



1. The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need special issue of Revolution/ See section: The Civil War.

2. Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? by Bob Avakian, Chapter 4, “The USA as Democratic Example...Leader of the Pack,” page 110-111

For further study:

1.  The Oppression of Black People, The Crimes of This System and the Revolution We Need, special issue of Revolution/

2. Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? by Bob Avakian, Chapter 4

3. "We Call Bullshit—4 Big Lies and the 1 truth of Lincoln", by Toby O’Ryan , February 24, 2013, Revolution

4. Lincoln, 2012 film directed by Steven Spielberg





Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Torture for the Empire—From Chicago to Guantánamo

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Richard Zuley was a Chicago police lieutenant from 1977 to 2007. He was praised by his superiors for “solving” numerous serious crimes in Chicago. In a recent investigation by the Guardian newspaper, it came to light that he gained a high number of the confessions to crime by people in his custody by using cold-blooded torture. These facts were also detailed in November 2014 by Jeff Kaye on the Firedoglake website.

The Guardian investigation revealed that his favorite and often-used methods were:

“• Shackling suspects to police-precinct walls through eyebolts for hours on end.

“• Accusations of planting evidence when there was pressure for a high-profile murder conviction.

“• Threats of harm to family members of those under interrogation used as leverage.

“• Pressure on suspects to implicate themselves and others.

“• Threats of being subject to the death penalty if suspects did not confess.”

One of Zuley’s victims is Lathierial Boyd, who was freed in 2013 from an Illinois prison after being locked up for 23 years for a murder he did not commit. He was convicted after being framed by Zuley, who is now accused, in a civil suit filed by Boyd, of planting evidence and hiding crucial information. Another person sent to prison by Zuley is Benita Johnson, who is still doing a 60-year murder sentence. She told the Guardian that she had been shackled by Zuley to an eyebolt in a cell at the Belmont and Western police station for 24 hours and told she would never see her kids again: “Basically, they just tortured me, mentally, and somewhat physically, with the cuffs.” These brutal interrogations caused her to make a false confession, leading to her conviction.

At the same time he was a Chicago cop, Zuley was also serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve. After 9/11 he was called to active duty and became an “interrogator” at the newly established Guantánamo torture center sitting on U.S.-occupied land in Cuba. During his stay at Guantánamo, he carried out the same torturous techniques on prisoners who had been swept up in America’s so-called “war on terror.”

Much of this became public knowledge in late 2014, when the first memoir ever written by a prisoner at Guantánamo was published. In it, Mohamedou Ould Slahi identifies Richard Zuley as his interrogator and describes the twisted torture applied against him. He suffered the same physical and mental attacks as did Zuley’s victims in Chicago. Zuley even threatened to arrest his mother and lock her away in the Guantánamo dungeons. Slahi wrote his Guantánamo Diary in 2005. It was promptly locked away by the U.S. government, classified as a highly “secret” document that they intended would never be released. Finally, after nearly 10 years of court battles, a sanitized version was permitted for publication. During that time, a federal judge had also ordered the government to release Slahi himself for lack of evidence. But the U.S. has continued to illegally hold him prisoner at Guantánamo.

Ugly as his life’s work has been, Chicago/Guantánamo torturer Zuley is not unique. There is the case of the infamous Chicago police commander Jon Burge. Burge was well known on the streets of Chicago’s South Side because of his regular use of electrical shocks and phone-book beatings against Black people detained in his precinct. Over 200 cases of this torture between 1972 and 1991 were documented and Burge was fired as a cop in 1993. A number of people have since been freed from prison and the death penalty was discontinued in Illinois, partly because of the sickening extent of Burge’s extraction of false confessions under torture.

And the military connection with Burge is that Burge was a military policeman in the 1960s. In 1966 he volunteered to go to Vietnam. He was initially sent to South Korea but did make it to Vietnam at the height of the U.S. genocidal war against the people of Vietnam.

Mark Clements is one of Burge’s victims and now is a leading activist for justice for all victims of Chicago police torture and brutality. Clements told Revolution that Zuley is “another example of abuse by the Chicago Police Department,” and that he “must be held accountable” for his crimes. This is important because Burge escaped punishment for torture due to a statute of limitations for prosecution in the cases he is responsible for. Burge recently completed a five-and-a-half-year sentence for his conviction for lying under oath about his crimes, but this was a mere slap on the wrist for this vicious torturer. This dangerous criminal is now back on the streets.

More about Zuley’s Chicago torture regime is sure to be revealed if Lathierial Boyd’s wrongful conviction civil rights case goes to court. Boyd’s attorney told the Guardian that more wrongful conviction lawsuits are quite possible. The Guardian investigation also shows that the Illinois State Attorney is seeking information about other civilian complaints against Zuley.

This trail of torture leads from the cold concrete cells of Chicago’s police stations to the stark cages of Guantánamo’s Camp Delta... from the napalm-seared war against the liberation fighters of Vietnam in the 1960s to the attacks of the occupying pigs against the downpressed in the ghettos and barrios of Chicago over the last 40 years.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Interview with Larry Siems, Editor of Guantánamo Diary

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The following is a transcript of a February 13, 2015 interview with Larry Siems, editor of Guantanámo Diary, by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, on The Michael Slate Show, KPFK Pacifica radio.

Larry Siems describes himself as “a lifelong advocate for freedom of expression and the power of writing.” He is the former director of the Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center and the author of The Torture Report: What the Documents Say About America’s Post-9/11 Torture Program (2011).


Michael Slate: Larry Siems, welcome to the show.

Larry Siems: Thanks so much for having me.

Guantanamo Diary

Michael Slate: It’s fairly unique, because we’re doing a story around a book, and we can’t talk to the author, but we can talk to you, who played a very important part in getting the book out into the world even though you’re not the author. In some ways, you actually contributed to writing it. Can you tell people what the book is, and how you came to be involved in this?

Larry Siems: Sure. The book is Guantánamo Diary, by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who’s a prisoner in Guantánamo to this day. He wrote the book in 2005. He handwrote it in English, which was his fourth language, over a period of months in an isolation hut that he had been dragged into a couple of years before as part of one of the most brutal tortures that happened inside of Guantánamo. As I say, he wrote the book in 2005, beginning in March of 2005, when he found out he was finally going to meet his attorneys, and he gave several pages to Nancy Hollander and a partner of hers at the time, Sylvia Royce, when they visited him in March, 2005, and with their encouragement he continued to write and completed the manuscript by September.

Like everything that a Guantánamo prisoner writes, the manuscript was immediately considered classified, from the moment it was created, and it was taken away and locked in a secure facility outside of Washington, DC, accessible only to his attorneys with their full top secret security clearances, and of course, they couldn’t talk about it or anything. And it remained there for about seven years, while his lawyers, led by Nancy, who are the real heroes of the story, carried out litigation and negotiations to force the government to declassify the manuscript and clear it for public release. That happened in the summer of 2012. They were finally able to give me the redacted version of his handwritten manuscript that formed the basis of this amazing book.

Michael Slate: This was quite a task for you—both a challenge and an opportunity to do something that was really unprecedented, both in publishing and in terms of the sort of medieval torture chambers that the U.S. has set up in Guantánamo, to really bring out the first voice that has been able to bust out there on their own, while they’re still in Guantánamo.

Larry Siems: Yeah, as you say, it’s a voice from the deepest void, and it’s such an amazing voice. It was amazing because in the summer of 2012, when I was handed this thing, I had a good idea of how remarkable it would be, because as you said, for the previous four years I’d been working on this project called the Torture Report. My job was to sort of sift through about 140,000 pages of documents that the ACLU had managed to get declassified and released through FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] litigation about prisoner abuse in Guantánamo, Afghanistan, Iraq and the CIA “black sites”—to go through these things and try to look for characters and narratives and try to put them together into emblematic stories of the torture program. And one of the characters that emerged most strongly was Mohamedou Slahi, because his torture in Guantánamo was so deliberate, approved at the very highest levels. His torture plan, they called it a “special project interrogation plan,” was signed off on by Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, and there’s a huge paper trail about the torture that Mohamedou describes in the book.

So I knew that it was likely to be a pretty harrowing story. I knew it was an epic story because he had been sort of dragged through a sort of global gulag of detention sites even before he got to Guantánamo. He had turned himself in voluntarily for questioning in his city of Nouakchott, Mauritania, and was essentially disappeared. The U.S. sent him on a rendition plane to Jordan. He was interrogated in a Jordanian intelligence prison for eight months. Then another CIA rendition plane took him to Bagram and then to Guantánamo. So I guess I knew it was an epic story. And I also knew, just because in these documents there were a couple of transcripts of his hearings inside Guantánamo that had little bits of his voice. I also knew he was quite a remarkable storyteller, with a great eye for detail, a really good sense of humor. So when I got the manuscript in 2012, like I said, I had a sense that it would be something quite amazing. But even so, I couldn’t imagine the depth of skill and empathy and humanity with which he would be able to convey this incredible experience.

Michael Slate: I really want to emphasize that as well. I was very, very moved by what emerged as the character of Mohamedou Ould Slahi. Let’s talk about Mohamedou a little bit more here. Because I want people to understand that you’re reading a book, and it’s just a guy taking a trip, and then all of a sudden he goes from just a guy on a plane, to a man who’s spent, like how many years—since 2002, he was brought to Guantánamo, but it was the end of 2001, when he was actually picked up in the beginning, and he’s been there ever since. So we’re looking at 13, 14 years trapped in this system. And yet he managed to write a book that was full of both a very good sense of the ironic and a good sense of the absurd. Many people who have looked at the book have referred to it as Kafkaesque and Dostoyevsky and all these people. He’s dealing with something that was just so intensely absurd, but intensely repressive and oppressive, and every day his life is on the line. And yet what comes through is a person who’s really trying to maintain his humanity and his sense of humor and his view of some kind of future.

Larry Siems: Yeah, that’s exactly right. In any form his first person testimony would have been extraordinary because his story is so extreme and extraordinary. But his book moves beyond personal testimony into a real realm of literature. I think it belongs on the shelf with some of the great writing about prisons and prison communities that has ever been created. Like you say, he maintains his humanity in the most dehumanized situation. He does it because he’s intensely interested in those around him. He’s curious and he’s empathetic. These are his two most obvious and compelling characteristics. He’s constantly drawn outside of himself by his environment. He’s driven by his curiosity to learn English, to master English. There’s a scene early on where he’s, as you say, he’s flown to Guantánamo on a flight with 34 other detainees, and he arrives there in August of 2002. They’ve had a 30-hour flight on a freezing cold airplane, shackled in uncomfortable positions. They’re hooded and earmuffed and all these things and they throw them into a truck and the guards are shouting all these orders at him in English, which at that point he doesn’t know very well: “Sit down! Shut up! Cross your legs!” And one guard says, “Do not talk!” and another guard says, “No talking!” And he thinks to himself, in the middle of the extreme discomfort and pain that he’s feeling, and there’s certainly fear—he thinks to himself, “Wow, they give the same order two different ways: “No talking,” “Do not talk,” that’s interesting.

He’s just the sort of man who is always looking at his larger environment. He’s fascinated by language; he’s fascinated by the characters of his captors. And the result is, this is not only the first really in-depth look at what it is like to experience the kind of treatment that Mohamedou experienced, but it’s also an extremely moving and upsetting, but also revealing look at what it’s like to be a person who’s put in a position of having to mete out this kind of treatment. The book is a tremendous reclamation of humanity, not only for somebody who’s tortured, but for those who were asked to torture him as well. You get these vivid portraits of guards and interrogators who we recognize as our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters. These are the men and women we’ve asked to carry out these really quite appalling and immoral and at times quite ridiculous programs. And you get a sense of the toll that it’s taken on them as well.

Michael Slate: Part of what I was really moved by—one, people should understand that when he set out to write this book, when he was picked up, he didn’t speak much English at all. And he wrote the entire book in English, which is quite a feat when you’re looking at just over a few years, and he learns English inside this hellhole.

Larry Siems: It’s an incredible achievement. He’s obviously a tremendously gifted person. He was already fluent—he was bilingual from childhood in French and Arabic, of course, because he grew up in Mauritania. He’s the ninth of twelve children of a rather poor family. His father was a camel trader. His family moved to Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania when he was a teenager, right about the time his father died. And Mohamedou, a favored son, and a son on whom the family pinned its hopes, its economic hopes and dreams. He won a scholarship when he was in high school to study electrical engineering in Germany. He had memorized the Koran as a child, so he obviously had great intellectual gifts. He went to Germany and earned an engineering degree, and lived and worked as an electrical engineer in Germany for most of the 1990s.

So then he was, of course, fluent in German. And then he lived briefly in Canada. I think he had some rudimentary English from a couple of months in Canada. And many Germans have quite good English. So he had a foundation of English, but it really was his contact with his guards and his interrogators that led to this incredible work that’s written in English. There’s something really telling about it. It’s not just a natural gift and fascination for language, but it’s also this real desire to communicate with and understand every single person that he came in contact with. Obviously learning the language of his guards and interrogators was an essential part of that process. He has just a fascinating and extremely admirable ethic as a writer and as a person. He treats everyone as an individual. He says we’re all a combination of good and bad. The question is what percentage of each. So he’s just constantly compelled to think about and examine the inner lives of the men and women who are shaping his destiny every single day.

Michael Slate: Let’s talk about a few of the particulars about his case. One of the things that really got me is, you look at this, and there had to be a tremendous risk in him doing this. What was the risk to Mohamedou for writing this book in the first place? He has to keep it in his cell wherever he is. He has to keep the things there. When people read the book, you understand that when these guards come in, they rip apart everything. They can take anything and everything from you, all at once. And the different personalities of the guards—they’re matched up to drive you kind of insane. What’s the risk to a person sitting in the middle of that writing a book like this? And I have to tell people, I’m going back through it a second time, and I’m really moved by what I read there, in terms of the treatment, both the inhumanity and the humanity that’s concentrated in the entire book. So, what’s the risk to Mohamedou in writing this book and getting it out like he is now?

Larry Siems: I think that’s a really interesting question. I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms. He wrote the book in 2005, at a time when the worst treatment had passed. His special project interrogation ended in 2004. At the time he was writing the book, and he writes really up to that present moment, it’s very clear that there’s a recognition on the part of the military authorities in Guantánamo that they have taken him to the brink, psychologically, physically. So there’s a real clear effort to rehabilitate him. He talks about a new team of guards that are assigned to him. Their job is to be nice to him and really specifically to help in his rehabilitation. One of those guards, very poignantly drags his mattress in front of Mohamedou’s cell, and they spend nights just talking to each other all night.

So he writes it during that period when I think there was a sense that the worst was behind him, so he was I think maybe breathing a little easier, and he had a chance to kind of reflect a little bit on his experience, and I’m sure that the writing process was an essential part of that recovery to some extent. So I never thought of it in terms of risk. I thought of it much more in terms of faith, what an incredible act of faith this is on his part: that if he just faithfully and honestly tells his story, and does it in a way that preserves and recovers his dignity and the dignity of some of the guards and interrogators—because remember, torture dehumanizes not just the tortured, but also the torturer—that if he does these things, and just does it accurately, that manuscript will eventually find its way to us. He addresses us, the American people directly: “What do you think, dear reader?” He says it several times in the book. If that manuscript just makes it to us, that there will be some movement, that this kind of crazy deadlock that exists in Guantánamo, that’s a combination of legal limbo and bad politics and just kind of delaying accountability for terrible mistakes will be broken.

I’m a lifelong advocate for freedom of expression and the power of writing, and for me, I was constantly inspired by that gesture of faith. He says, I’m going to tell my experience. I’m not going to exaggerate; I’m not going to understate it. I’m just going to tell you what I experienced. And just in doing that, and the faith that it would make it out of this kind of lock box that is Guantánamo and eventually be published and be received the way it’s been received, is so inspiring.

Michael Slate: Part of what got me is, here’s a man who went through being picked up, and actually driving down to the police station himself to go for questioning, and he ends up going through this incredibly horrible journey that involves detention, rendition, and finally ending up in prison in Guantánamo. He went through a number of places. He was in Mauritania, he was in Jordan, then from Jordan to Bagram, and then from Bagram to Guantánamo.

Everybody always talks about Jordan as, that’s a place where the big secret is, and it’s not so secret, that torture is going to be heinous.

Larry Siems: That’s again one of the really fascinating elements of the book, is that it isn’t just Guantánamo, but it’s kind of this odyssey through this secret network of intelligence prisons around the world. So there’s a kind of a comparative study of intelligence prisons and interrogation that goes on just implicitly within the book. As you say, he reported for questioning, voluntarily drove himself to the police station in November of 2001, was told that he would be home in a day or so. Instead, the Mauritanians held him just long enough for the U.S. to arrange for a Jordanian rendition flight to take him to this prison in Amman where he was held for about seven and a half months.

From a Human Rights Watch report, we know which prison that is, and we know he was one of about fifteen people who were renditioned to Jordan at this time period. That time period is before the CIA “black sites” had opened, so I think this was a period where the CIA was using proxy torturers and interrogators before it opened up its own secret operations.

What’s interesting is, he’s quite open in talking about the kinds of pressure that he was under in Jordan, but it was nowhere near the level and magnitude of abuse that he would suffer in Guantánamo. The Jordanians mostly—they were certainly torturing in the prison, and their pressure on him was essentially to make him listen to or hear or be in the proximity of that torture as a kind of pressure tactic. And then they would move him. He was a secret prisoner there, which meant that every time the International Committee of the Red Cross came to visit the intelligence prison, they moved him to the basement so that nobody would know he was there. This was enforced disappearance. He had been disappeared from the face of the earth. His family for a whole year thought he was still in the local prison in Mauritania, and they were delivering food and clothes to that prison. That’s in itself a gross human rights abuse that’s tantamount to torture because of the anxiety it causes the family, and the prisoner knowing how anxious the family must be not knowing where he is. So that was clearly a level of abuse that rose to torture in Jordan. But it was really this special project interrogation that happened in Guantánamo that is the most horrific onslaught that he faced anywhere.

Michael Slate: One of the high points of that is this mock execution. Can you talk about that a little?

Larry Siems: As I said before, these were things that were planned, written out in special interrogation plans that went through several drafts and were signed off on by the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. They moved him into ever more extreme isolation, subjected him to ever more extreme sleep deprivation, until ultimately he was being interrogated by three shifts of interrogators for twenty out of twenty four hours every day. He was subjected to freezing cold rooms, sometimes nude, sometimes doused with water, shackled in stress positions, forced to listen to heavy metal music, strobe lights, many death threats against him, and ultimately a ruse in which they pretended that they had captured his mother and were going to bring her to Guantánamo. And then, as you say, this mock kidnapping and rendition. In the original draft, according to the Department of Justice’s 2008 report about FBI complaints about interrogations in Guantánamo, the original draft of his special project interrogation plan involved dragging him out of his cell, shackling him, binding him and putting him in a helicopter and flying him out over the Caribbean probably to threaten to kill him, and then pretend that they were taking him to a third country.

According to that report, the commandant of Guantánamo decided not to do that because too many people would know about it. And again, these were things that were really kept in close secrecy. There were only small units of the larger operation that even knew these things were happening. So instead what they did is they dragged him out of his cell with a kind of commando team, shackled him, hooded, blindfolded, and threw him in a motorboat and sent him out into the Caribbean with two interrogators, a Jordanian and an Egyptian interrogator, pretending that they were going to take him to one or the other of those countries, which he thought was quite funny. With his typical sense of irony and humor, he knows that he’d already been to Jordan. He’s already seen what they did. So it wasn’t such a terrifying thing. So they’re pretending that they’re taking him to one of these countries, and they’re beating him. They’re alternately beating him and filling his jumpsuit with ice in order to alleviate the swelling and bruising from the beating but also to induce close to hypothermia, or hypothermia. So they do this for several hours. The boat lands again, and they pretend again that they’re dragging him into some now other country’s prison. And all along he knows where he is, because they’ve been doing these things and the prisoners tell each other these stories. He said, “I knew all along that I was just being taken to a new place.” And that new place is an isolation hut that’s been prepared specifically for him. Everything is blacked out so no light can enter, and he remains there for several months. Well, he remains there in fact for several years, but they eventually open up the windows and it becomes a living space. But for several months, the interrogation, the sleep deprivation continues until he’s taken to the absolute extremes, and as he describes it very vividly in the book, he begins hearing voices, the voices of his family, sort of heavenly choruses of Koranic reading. And we know that this is true. It’s important to emphasize that everything that he tells about in his experience, the torture that he describes in Guantánamo is completely corroborated by the government’s own reports and documents that have been released.

In those documents, quite chillingly, is an email from one of his interrogators to an army psychologist saying, “Mohamedou is hearing voices now. Is that normal?” and the army psychologist writing back and saying, “Well, given the level of sensory deprivation, hallucinations are to be expected.”

Michael Slate: This is all happening to a man who has never been charged. A federal judge actually ordered his release from Guantánamo. But he still remains trapped in this hellhole. This is a very incredible predicament here.

Larry Siems: It is. And it’s a shameful predicament. In one sense this manuscript which he wrote in 2005 is just a very simple call for justice. And that call for justice was suppressed for seven years as part of a larger regime of secrecy that’s been imposed on him and on all the men who have been held in Guantánamo. That secrecy was purposeful. From the start it existed specifically in order to allow torture and other human right abuses to happen. Then it was prolonged in order to hide the fact that that abuse had happened, and ultimately to forestall accountability for those abuses. To think that the failure to deliver justice, or to even make a case for why they’re holding this man for all of these years—the fact that some of that failure may actually have been just part of an effort to conceal what was done to him, to hide the crimes that were committed to him, to his person, that should disturb every American. This is now almost ten years after he wrote the manuscript, and the questions of why Mohamedou is in Guantánamo should have been answered long ago. The American people should ask the government to answer those questions. They’ve been answered, as you say, in a habeas corpus proceeding which resulted in a judge concluding that the government has no case against him. He’s never been charged. So he should be released.

Michael Slate: When people read this, and hopefully a lot of people are going to read this—you got a manuscript, and when you talk about redacted, I want people to understand that on every page almost, there’s these thick black lines blocking out text. And in some cases, there’s like five pages all at once that are all just blacked out. Even the simplest male or female pronoun is blacked out. Looking at that, I kept wondering, how the hell did Larry work with this to actually retain the beauty and the power of the book? It’s really disturbing when you read this and you just see blocks of text blacked out.

Larry Siems: You’re right. These are the fingerprints of the censorship regime that continues to exist in this place. To this day, no writer or journalist has ever spoken to, or communicated directly with, a Guantánamo prisoner. A large part of that is to keep the prisoners from telling their stories, from becoming human, human faces and human biographies, for the American people. What’s amazing is how much we get in this book. So, yes, the redactions were a stumbling block and obstacles in a lot of places, but what you get is this voice, this approach, this experience, this way of interpreting and presenting experience, this real writer’s sense of form and beauty and character and all of these things. They are vivid, even with the redactions.

So for me the process was just following that voice, listening to that voice, following the clues, learning that that voice was always trustworthy. Even for me, throughout the year I came to appreciate ever more, at every turn, how just accurate and truthful and fully realized his narrative was. So I sort of followed his lead on it. And then I had alongside of it, like I said, dozens if not hundreds of pages of government documents that align exactly with his story. So some of those redactions, you get a sense of what’s behind those redactions because the same information exists in other documents. The story that he tells in this book, he also tells in some form, much shorter, to these two review boards in Guantánamo in 2004 and 2005. Interestingly in 2005 when he’s beginning—this is the first time that he’s recounted his abuse. In 2004, which is just after the abuse ended, he was clearly terrified to talk about it. They’re asking him if he’s been abused, and he said, “You know, I really don’t want to talk about that.”

In 2005, he starts to tell the story to the review board, and just when he’s getting to the part where he’s sexually assaulted by these two female interrogators, and then describes leading up to this kidnapping that we talked about, the transcript in bold-face type says, “At this point the recording equipment malfunctioned,” and they offer a kind of cursory summary of what must have been many, many minutes of him telling this terrible, harrowing story.

So this is a story that has been suppressed and suppressed and suppressed again. But for me, like I say, when I got this manuscript in 2012, much of that story had already been public knowledge because of the declassification of the documents. But what we had never had was a voice like this that could help us understand so clearly what this means. And that voice triumphs even over the redactions in the manuscript itself.

Larry Siems: I agree 100%.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

The Assassination of Malcolm X: Important Lessons for Today

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem, New York on February 21, 1965. Just after 3 pm he got up to speak before about 400 people. Suddenly there was a commotion, what appeared to be an argument between two men at the back of the room. A smoke bomb went off. Then two men who had been sitting in the front rows rushed the stage. Malcolm was hit with a shotgun blast and pistol shots, 16 times. He was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm at a nearby hospital.

Many questions remain about the tragic death of Malcolm X and we may never fully know what and who was behind this assassination. The U.S. government has refused to release all of the FBI and CIA documents on Malcolm X. But hundreds of thousands of pages have been released which make some things  clear: Malcolm X was kept under intense government surveillance; U.S. agents infiltrated organizations Malcolm X was a part of; members of the NYPD worked as undercover agents; and all kinds of dirty methods were used to foment and exacerbate divisions between Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, creating a climate conducive to such an assassination. There are important lessons here for the struggle today. In 1965, Malcolm X was emerging as a powerful Black revolutionary leader, far more radical than other forces at the time. Carl Dix wrote, “He played an indispensable role in the transformation of the Black resistance movement of the 1960s from one that was trying to deal with the savage oppression Black people faced by getting into the system to a movement whose most advanced elements had come to see that system as the source of this oppression. Malcolm was relentless in condemning the U.S. for its crimes against Black people.” (See “Remembering Malcolm’s Life & Legacy—and Going Beyond It to Make Revolution and End the Hell on Earth this System Inflicts on Humanity!”)

Malcolm had also increasingly been playing a role internationally—traveling to Africa and other countries, speaking out and exposing colonialism and uniting with anti-colonial forces and calling out U.S. crimes committed against oppressed people in Africa and other parts of the world.

For all this Malcolm X represented a serious threat to the powers-that-be in the U.S. and the government’s repressive apparatus put him in their sights. The FBI started a surveillance file on Malcolm in the 1950s when he was organizing Nation of Islam mosques around the country. By the 1960s they were writing several reports a week on him. In 1964, head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover sent a telegram to the FBI’s New York office saying, “Do something about Malcolm X enough of this black violence in NY." That same year Malcolm started a new group, the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). Undercover NYPD agent Gene Roberts quickly infiltrated the OAAU and became a leader in the group’s security force in Harlem. Roberts was part of the NYPD’s Bureau of Special Services and Investigations (BOSSI)—directly led by the FBI as part of its Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro). During this time the FBI and CIA were also doing surveillance of Malcolm’s international travels. Government agents are also known to have infiltrated the NOI, like John Ali, who became the NOI’s national press secretary. These undercover agents reported on activities and names of members, and also did things like try to frighten away supporters, steal files and records and plant incriminating material.

In the years before Malcolm’s death there were increasing conflicts between him and the Nation of Islam, whose program was profoundly conservative. These differences led to Malcolm’s silencing by the head of NOI, Elijah Muhammad, and then to his eventual break with the organization.

As pointed out in a letter to the editors that appeared in, “When Malcolm left the Nation of Islam, NOI launched a vicious personal slander campaign against him. This included all kinds of vitriol, as well as Louis Farrakhan—then a major figure in NOI and now its head—directly saying that Malcolm was ‘worthy of death.’ More generally, Farrakhan and others stirred up a great deal of personal animosity against Malcolm X, running all kinds of slanders and encouraging all kinds of personal grievances against him. This took a toll. Malcolm did not, at that point, have an organization which could take care to protect him; in early 1965 his house, the location of which was publicly known, was firebombed in the middle of night, and Malcolm and his family barely escaped death. Threats mounted. Finally, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm was assassinated. On the day of his assassination, the regular police suddenly left the scene, and thereby provided a clear field for the killers. At the same time, at least five FBI informants were in the room when Malcolm was killed and Malcolm’s main bodyguard was an agent of the New York Police Department (NYPD). Whether the NOI members who carried out slanders against Malcolm X were directly employed by the FBI or not is irrelevant; they created an atmosphere that allowed this kind of thing to go down and that enabled the police agencies to claim that their hands were clean.”

At a panel on the 49th anniversary of the death of Malcolm, Baba Zak Kondo, an associate professor at Baltimore City Community College, talked about the dirty tricks carried out by FBI infiltrators: “[The FBI] would basically put out through its informants negative rumors about somebody. This is what they would do which was actually quite scientific. They’re listening to Malcolm’s phone. They’re listening to the phones and the family. When they hear a conversation in which the family, for example might be saying something about Malcolm and they hear Elijah reacting to it in a negative way they take notes and say we can probably develop a scheme around that. Let’s exploit that. Throughout 1963, they constantly be doing just that. And ultimately what is going to happen is because there were in fact some weaknesses in the relationship between Elijah and Malcolm, the FBI is basically going to exploit it to the maximum. Then they went to the next level, once Malcolm was suspended then the goal was to get Malcolm kicked out, then the goal was to create a war between Malcolm X and Elijah and the Nation of Islam. And it was this war that ultimately would result in the assassination of Malcolm X.”

The powers-that-be recognized the potential in Malcolm X. They saw the effect he was having—and could have even more—especially among the masses of Black people who so desperately need the leadership and organization to get rid of the system oppressing them. There is a hard lesson here: It cannot be the case that the system recognizes the powerful (and to them dangerous) role leaders play in the struggle for liberation while the people do not fully appreciate this themselves. The people must do all they can to protect such leaders. And an important part of this is taking seriously that there are people and forces—those officially working for the government; as well as others who objectively contribute to the efforts of the system to undermine, tear down and even eliminate revolutionary leaders. The people must recognize, expose and put a stop to the kinds of slander and lies that create a situation that makes it easier for the powers-that-be to do their murderous deeds.

For an important analysis of the lessons that need to be drawn from the assassination of Malcolm X, see “A Reflection on Piggery—Then and Now.”




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

From A World to Win News Service:

India: Greenpeace and Villagers vs. the World Market

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


February 16, 2015. A World to Win News Service. In New Delhi on January 11, Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was prevented from boarding her flight bound for London. Her name was on a no-fly list from Indian intelligence and “offloaded” was stamped on her passport, preventing her from international travel until that word is expunged. According to an affidavit by the Indian government, Pillai was traveling to London to “slam the government” for ignoring the interests of forest dwellers and others while pushing the Mahan coal mining project Madya Pradesh.

AP photo

Pillai told the Guardian: “I wanted to come to London to tell British MPs about what I’ve witnessed in Mahan. A community of 50,000 people has been fighting... Essar Energy, trying to save their forest home. Essar just wants to bulldoze the forest and replace it with a coal mine. It’s a classic David and Goliath fight, Indian villagers facing down billionaires as their rights are trampled on. The Indian government, the fossil fuel giants, the police—so many powerful interests are against them, but the people are standing with those villagers, and they can win this.”

Greenpeace says the Mahan coal mine project would dislocate over 50 villages whose people’s livelihood comes from the forest the project intends to destroy. It would cut down 500,000 trees, home to hundreds of migratory bird species and wildlife, contributing further to an already existing global environmental crisis.

Coal is one of the worst fossil fuels in terms of its impact on the environment. When burned these fuels release gases that trap the sun’s heat. The resulting “greenhouse effect” causes global warming, which in turn leads to climate extremes in various regions, from devastating floods to severe droughts, heat waves and more powerful hurricanes, not only in South Asia but worldwide. Scientific global climate models predict that climate extremes will become intensified as the planet continues to warm.

Fossil fuels are foundational to capitalist economies and can be extremely profitable to extract. But the capitalist countries are driven to only look out for their national interests when they convene at meetings like Kyoto or the most recent conference, held in Lima last December. They are unable to solve the looming environmental disaster. Even if one individual capitalist wanted to, the laws of capital dictate that each must go for maximum profitability or risk being eaten up by other capitalists.

India is the world’s third-largest user and producer of coal, after China and the U.S. The widespread burning of rubbish, coal, and diesel fuel in Delhi has produced pollution so serious that residents are starting to wear surgical masks against the choking smog. Scientists say the toxic air often rivals that of Beijing.

The Mahan coal mine plan is a joint project between Essar Energy and Hindalco Industries, both India-based multinationals operating in 25 and 40 countries respectively. Essar explores and produces oil and gas in India but also in Indonesia, Madagascar and Vietnam. Hindalco is a subsidiary of Birla Group, one of the world’s largest producers of aluminium, among other products.

The mining project began to take shape in 2006 but by 2011 was rejected by the Environment Minister, who acknowledged the risk to the forest’s rich biodiversity and added that, by the companies’ own admission, the coal mined there would last only 14 years. He was sacked by the government shortly after that decision.

In February 2014 the project received a green light from the government. Again Greenpeace and villagers mobilised to resist this renewed attack on their livelihood. They were sued by the Essar Group and fined an enormous amount of money.

After one government high court declared Pillai’s “offloading” inappropriate, a February 12 article in the Times of India reported that the government has written an affidavit justifying its action as in the national and economic interests. “Their [Greenpeace activists’] testimonies ... form the basis of global think tank reports slamming India for its economic policies and serve to downgrade India’s ratings on various socio-economic indices. They are also used against India in international trade negotiations. Allowing sponsored foreign trips by Indian activists to badmouth the government on economic projects here is akin to permitting anti-national propaganda abroad,” said a government official.

Moving on different levels to suppress resistance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi requested that the government cut funding to India Greenpeace, as part of efforts to stifle dissent against his “development” agenda and kick-start stalled mining and other profitable industrial projects.

Efforts to protect the environment are extremely important, and standing alongside those on the bottom of society who depend on the environment to eke out a living is critical. Accusations by the government of crimes against the national interests are especially chilling, given the number of political prisoners in India.

India is trying to adjust its place in the world capitalist system and the Birla Group is among the Fortune 500, the world’s biggest companies. The government is doing the job it is designed to do, representing the interests of capital and repressing resistance to projects like Mahan. Coal mining can be extremely profitable in its own right, and cheap energy produced by coal is a critical factor in being able to competitively produce other commodities, including steel, aluminium and the many products made from them. Coal is also used in making pharmaceuticals. Many of these items are exported. In short, coal is a key element in Indian big business’ competitive advantage in the world capitalist system where the international market sets the terms. It is hypocritical for U.S. President Obama, who has approved fracking and offshore oil drilling projects, to criticise pollution in India when the Indian ruling class is serving its own particular needs in response to the international market, just like the U.S. ruling class that Obama represents.

The damage being done with the Mahan coal mining project is part of a worldwide problem that cannot be solved under the current system, a system that is in sharp contradiction with nature and humanity.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Lives of Millions of Immigrants Hang in the Balance with Federal Judge's Order

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On the night of February 16, the lives of millions of immigrants in this country were thrown into a swirl of uncertainty, anxiety, anger, and foreboding by a federal court ruling.

In November last year, President Obama issued an executive order (called Deferred Action for Parents—DAP) that would have temporarily put off the threat of potential deportation for millions of undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and legal permitted residents, who are overwhelmingly from Mexico and Central America. As we wrote at the time, “Estimates are that this measure will apply to roughly one-third of the undocumented in the country now, or about 4 or 5 million people. Parents of the ‘Dreamers’—undocumented people who came to this country as children—are not included among those eligible for the deferment of deportation unless they also have one or more children born in this country.” (See “Obama’s Immigration Moves—and the Need for Increased Resistance” for more on the executive order and what’s behind it.)

Applications for deportation deferment under DAP were scheduled to open on Wednesday, February 18. But on Monday evening, a federal judge in Texas ordered a halt to DAP, after a suit brought by 26 states demanding a permanent end to Obama’s executive order was presented to him.

After Obama’s executive order last November, countless people had held out hope that years of hard work, living under the endless threat of deportation, and pervasive repression and discrimination would come to an end for them with DAP. Now a rug has been pulled from under their feet. Many people had publicly announced they are in the country without papers and were going to apply for DAP—meaning they have bravely declared themselves to be “illegal” and put themselves in the glare of a public spotlight expecting a temporary reprieve. But now that hope has been snatched away.

The Obama administration says it will appeal the judge’s ruling, which was based on a technical procedural error he claimed was made by Obama’s lawyers. But the judge said he had to act now because if DAP went into effect and were later overturned, states with large numbers of immigrants would “suffer irreparable harm” and the “genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle”—meaning that the millions of immigrants who came forward would not accept being put back into a position of imminent deportation. A prominent immigration lawyer said the judge’s ruling could delay DAP’s implementation for “a minimum of six to eight months, and potentially much longer.”

Meanwhile, the capitalist-imperialist system’s vicious assaults upon immigrants—the deportations, the militarization of the border, the jailing even of children, and the horrendous conditions in the immigration prisons, the police murders such as that of Antonio Zambrano-Montes in Pasco, Washington—will continue. There will also surely be further bitter contention within the ruling class over how they can best control, repress, and exploit immigrants. But for right now, the judge’s order is in place; the lives and futures of millions of people hang in the balance. will be covering further developments on this important question in future issues. Meanwhile, some points of orientation:

  1. The courageous struggle immigrants have waged for many years to be treated and respected as full human beings with rights—and support for this struggle by many others—must continue and deepen. Waiting for the “courts and politicians to work things out” would be a deadly mistake. The sit-ins, the marches and rallies, the cultural expressions, the hunger strikes, and other forms demanding an end to deportations, repression, and brutal assaults on the border must become more widespread and determined.
  2. All attacks on immigrants—from ICE and Border Patrol officials, from police and the National Guard, from heavily armed vigilantes prowling the border to mobs of frenzied racists—must be vigorously opposed, wherever they occur, by all sections of the people.
  3. Revolutionary communists and others building the movement for revolution should take on the attacks on immigrants as a crucial component of STOPPING all the crimes of this capitalist-imperialist system—police murder and brutality, patriarchal degradation of women, wars of empire, and destruction of the planet.

STOP the Demonization, Criminalization, and Deportation of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Arkansas Bans Equality for LGBT People

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Last week, a bill was passed in Arkansas, the “Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act,” which in effect prevents any anti-discrimination laws from being passed in that state that protect the rights of gay people. (“Arkansas wants to attract businesses by allowing them to discriminate against gay people,” Washington Post, February 17, 2015) While the bill performs a series of legal gymnastics to avoid saying what it is really about (backers claim it is about attracting business, and keeping laws in Arkansas consistent between counties), what is now being enforced is a preemptive move to make sure that gay people cannot be ensured basic rights. In fact, the law was initiated when people in the town of Fayetteville tried to pass a gay rights ordinance. That ordinance was overturned last December in a close vote that included a major mobilization by Christian fascists and the dean of the University of Arkansas campus shutting down buses that allowed students to get to the polls and vote.

This law is both totally unacceptable and very revealing.

In fact in 2015, only a handful of states even have anti-discrimination laws protecting the rights of gay, transgender, or gender non-conforming people. In 2015, the acknowledgement and acceptance of the existence of gay people and others who do not conform to archaic gender traditions has broadened amongst many people, and all this has been fought for, through determined resistance such as Stonewall, ACT UP, and Gay Pride. Yet in 2015, it is still perfectly legal in vast regions of this nation of so-called “equal rights” to fire a person from their job, kick a person out of a store, evict someone from their home or apartment, or deny a person the right to be legal guardians of their own children, just because they do not conform to the rigid gender roles dictated to them by this patriarchal system.

We also need to be aware of the positive—and in significant ways “subversive of the system”—potential of the assertion of gay “identity” and gay rights, even with the very real contradictions in this, including the narrowing tendencies of “identity politics” as well as conservatizing influences related to traditional marriage, and, for that matter, the campaign to be allowed to be part of the imperialist military while being openly gay. Even with all that, in its principal aspect this has, and can to an even greater degree have, a very positive, “subversive of the system” effect. This is a contradiction which, in the society overall, is “out of the closet.” It could be forced back into the closet, and underground, with not only the stronger assertion of the kind of fascist movement that is being supported and fostered by powerful ruling class forces in this period, but with the actual assumption of a fascist form of bourgeois dictatorship. But the struggle against the oppression of gay people is not going to be easily suppressed. We should understand the potential of this as well, and the need to relate correctly to this, to foster the further development of its positive potential and its contribution to the movement for revolution.

Bob Avakian
Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA,
BAsics 3:25

This is because in 2015, even in the face of a lot of struggle and some changes, we still live under a system that has patriarchy built into its every function, and where the repressive “traditional family values” that for too long have dictated that women are property and that define “manliness” as cruelty, domination, and aggression, are making a comeback. Across the country, women’s right to abortion is under unprecedented attack: clinics are shut down at record rates, bans are being passed at earlier and earlier points in the pregnancy. A multibillion-dollar industry of increasingly degrading pornography that promotes rape, violence, and humiliation of women by men as a legitimate form of sexual activity has seeped into the mainstream.

Through the global expansion of this capitalist-imperialist system and through people’s resistance to oppression, the world has changed in a number of ways. Repressive traditions of patriarchy are both being challenged and violently reasserted: women who are trying to make their own decisions about their future and want to be something other than a mother, a wife, or a sex object; men who step outside their prescribed role as “keepers” of women and promoters of macho bullshit; and any person of any gender who does not “fit in” to the patriarchal prescription of domination, submission, and procreation have no place and no rights in this so-called “land of the free.” This contradiction is sharpening up in the South in particular, where more and more gay and gender non-conforming people are demanding their rights, and the state of Arkansas, along with other states that are adopting a Dark Ages agenda, are moving to preserve a dehumanizing standard of what is “normal,” and to contribute further to a climate of hatred and oppression for those who dare to love outside of literal Biblical and other outdated mandates.

The same system that cannot promise a future for young people, or even a job, but instead criminalizes, guns down, and locks up millions of Black and brown people, a system that tears loved ones apart and ruins lives through deportation of immigrants while at the same time exploiting them in mass numbers, a system that cares nothing for the future of the planet but only for profit, a system which encourages a whole climate of hatred toward LGBT people and denies them basic rights, can say what it wants about “equality,” but the fact remains: This is a system of the past, a system that is defined by unnecessary divisions of people into masters and slaves, humans and sub-humans. What is needed now is much more of the determined resistance that won any acknowledgement for LGBT people to begin with, and in the long run, as was stated in Revolution in the July 7, 2013 article “Landmark Decisions on Same Sex Marriage... The Struggle Must Continue“: “[W]hat ... the real history of LGBT people in this society, and most fundamentally what the real nature of this system actually show is that we need a revolution and a radically new and different socialist system as part of a transition to a communist world. We have a chance to be part of a revolution to overturn ALL oppression and injustice—who would want to settle for anything less?”




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

From the StopPatriarchy Mailbag

Abortion, Birth Control and "Irresponsible Sex"

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Hello dear Sunsara!

I want to ask you about something! Regarding the movement in support of abortion, do you think it isn’t better that women have contraception?! So why should people have uncontrolled sex as many times as they wish, what I call irresponsible sex, and go for the easy way and abort a fetus. Abortion is not even good for the mother’s own health!

So isn’t it better to prevent an undesirable pregnancy then just go straight to abortion?!

Birth Control Advocate


Dear Birth Control Advocate,

Of course I strongly support birth control! It needs to be much more widely available, much less expensive, much more broadly promoted and accepted in the culture, and there needs to be education so that people know how to use it.

But that in no way diminishes the need for abortion on demand and without apology. If a woman finds herself pregnant for whatever reason and she does not want a child, abortion is a responsible, moral, and healthy choice! Fetuses are not babies and abortion is ten times safer than child-birth, so there is absolutely nothing negative about abortion.

As for “irresponsible sex,” I can’t embrace that phrase the way you are using it. There is oppressive, violent, degrading, and non-consensual sex and then there is sex in which the full humanity, equality, and desires of both parties are fully intact and respected. Sure, people should use protection whenever possible, but using protection doesn’t always make sex “responsible” or positive. And while everyone should have access to enlightened and scientific sex education and be encouraged to practice safe sex, not using protection doesn’t always make it “irresponsible” or negative and nobody should be stigmatized or punished for that—including by denying them access to abortion.

Finally, the idea that somehow we could have more access to birth control without fighting uncompromisingly for Abortion On Demand and Without Apology is a myth. The very movement opposing abortion also opposes birth control! They also oppose scientific, comprehensive sex education! This is because this fight has never really been about “protecting the ‘unborn’” or even “preventing abortion.” It has always been about controlling women and forcing women back into the position of being breeders of children and property of men. We must stand up against all of that, which means fighting in an uncompromising way for abortion, birth control, sex education and for the complete liberation of women!

Sunsara Taylor




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

From the LA Revolution Club:

The Problem Ain't Toy Guns! Cops Don't Care About Black and Latino Lives!

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Soon after the shooting of 15-year-old Jamar Nicholson, shot in the back by LAPD, members of the LA Revolution Club went out to his school to stand up against this shooting and organize students into the revolution. Jamar was heading to school the morning of February 10, playing around in an alley as he usually does with friends, freestyle rapping and dancing with a toy gun, when cops came up on them. James and his friends heard an adult voice say "freeze" and next thing they knew Jamar was on the ground with a bullet in his back. This is a scenario repeated countless times—in this country there is a Black person that gets shot down every 28 hours by the police, security guard, or racist vigilante. Jamar survived the shooting, and he and his friends have spoken out in the media about what the police did to them.

Soon after we arrived at the school, we were confronted by the school principal and heavily armed school rent-a-pigs. They threatened us with saying they would call the police, making false claims that we couldn’t be in front of the school for the “students' protection.” We demanded that they step back and called them out for claiming to be about the protection of these students while they attack revolutionaries for speaking against what was done to one of their students, and to countless others, by the pigs. They said that we were “protesting” and needed a permit to protest. We called bullshit and did not move. 

With copies of "The Cold but Liberating Truth About the Police, the Struggle for Justice, and Revolution," Revolution newspaper, and whistles, we stood near the entrance to the school holding a sign that read "The Problem Ain’t Toy Guns! The Cops Don’t Care About Black Lives!" Students heard us speak to the need to organize to stop these pigs from murdering people. Many stopped to talk to us, calling out what had happened to their friend just a few days back as he was heading to school. We spoke of other such cases where the victims weren’t so “lucky”—Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown.

The principal stood near us telling the students not to pay attention to the revolutionaries. He told students that they should worry about schoolwork and not what we had to say. We challenged students not to allow school to get in the way of their education! Students took what we had and donated what they had to get a whistle. At one point two young women in support of what we were doing began to argue with their principal. We could hear a back and forth and at a certain point others got involved. One student thought he had a “cool principal” but when he heard what the principal had told us he stepped to the principal and asked “Are you hating on them? That ain’t right!” 

This is something new we ran into among these high school students.  Many of the students had some understanding why this is going on—they hate how cops have treated them just for walking through their own neighborhoods. The protests that have taken place was part of what fueled them. They have a lot of love for Jamar, their peer, but understood that not everyone that has an encounter like this lives to tell about it.

We have been back out to the school again to build among the students for the February 22 National Day of Remembrance for Tamir Rice as part of calling people back out to the streets against police murder of our youth with #shutdownA14. Students and their families were glad we were there and some said they would participate on February 22.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Genocidal Realities


County Jails—Debtors’ Prisons, Torture Chambers, and Death Camps

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.

City and county jails—a stop on the school-to-prison pipeline

Black people are locked up in jails at almost four times the rate of white people in the United States. In some places, it’s even worse. In New York City, Blacks are jailed at nearly 12 times the rate of whites, while Latinos get locked up in NYC jails at more than five times the rate of whites.

City and county jails are an entry point to mass incarceration. There are 3,000 of these lockups, and they hold more than 730,000 prisoners on any given day according to a “Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America,” a February 2015 report by the Vera Institute of Justice. According to official statistics, violent and property crime rates are way down—just over half what they were about 20 years ago, but annual jail admissions have nearly doubled (from six million in 1983 to 11.7 million in 2013). In the same 30 years, the average length of stay in jail has gone up from 14 days to 23 days.

In the words of the Vera Institute report, “[E]ven a short stay in jail can have dire consequences. Research has shown that spending as few as two days in jail can increase the likelihood of a sentence of incarceration and the harshness of that sentence, reduce economic viability, promote future criminal behavior, and worsen the health of the largely low-risk defendants who enter them—making jail a gateway to deeper and more lasting involvement in the criminal justice system....”

Think about what that means. You’re on your way to work and get stopped for a traffic violation, the cops find a warrant because you couldn’t afford to pay the fine on your last ticket. They take you to jail, and even if you get out the next day you lose your job. Or, you keep your job for the moment, but you have to appear in court so often that your boss says you are undependable and you get fired. Now you really can’t pay the fines. You go to jail for that. Then, what happens to your loved ones?

Debtors’ prison in Ferguson and other Missouri towns

I was in the driver seat of the car. I was just sitting in the backyard. I had on my nightgown and everything. And they came up in the backyard. And as I was walking into the house, he was just like, “Freeze, stop.” And he asked for my name. You know, I gave him my name. And then they immediately took me to jail in my nightgown, did not have no time—they did not give me any time to put on no clothes. And then, once I was transferred—once I went to Jennings and then transferred to Ferguson, then they then let my mother bring me some clothes.


That was the only time that I had been sitting in a nonmoving vehicle and I was arrested. The other times, I was the passenger in the car. So, yeah, it’s been like only a couple times where I have actually been driving, and they pulled me over and was like, “Oh, you have an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license,” or whatever the case may be. But any other time, I have been the passenger in a car, or the car was not moving at all.

—a woman in Ferguson, Missouri, describing her ordeals with the system to Democracy Now!

ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit legal clinic in St. Louis, reported in their recent white paper that 86 percent of traffic stops in Ferguson involved a Black driver, but Blacks are 67 percent of the population. After being stopped, Blacks in Ferguson are almost twice as likely to be searched and twice as likely to be arrested. In Florissant, another town in St. Louis County, 57 percent of the people stopped by police are Black even though they are 25 percent of the population.

Michael-John Voss, a lawyer with ArchCity Defenders, told Democracy Now! February 10:

So, what we have in St. Louis, in the municipalities in St. Louis County, is a modern debtors’ prison.... [I]ndividuals who are African-American are disproportionately targeted by police in the municipalities, as well as they are also exploited because of their financial inability to pay certain fines and costs related to that traffic stop, that traffic violation. And so, what happens is, an individual then is forced to pay an exorbitant amount of money relative to the charge that they’re facing. And then they are, if they don’t have that ability to pay, they’re actually—no inquiry is made as to that ability or not, and a warrant is issued for their arrest, and then they become incarcerated. It’s sometimes for days, for weeks, without any looking into their financial ability to pay, and actually without even having a clear sense of whether or not they have any sort of specific amount that they would be able to pay to get out of jail.

A lawsuit against the City of Ferguson brought by attorneys with ArchCity Defenders, Equal Justice Under Law, and Saint Louis University School of Law on behalf of several residents of Ferguson says:

The City’s modern debtors’ prison scheme has been increasingly profitable to the City of Ferguson, earning it millions of dollars over the past several years. It has also devastated the City’s poor, trapping them for years in a cycle of increased fees, debts, extortion, and cruel jailings. The families of indigent people borrow money to buy their loved ones out of jail at rates set arbitrarily by jail officials, only for them later to owe more money to the City of Ferguson from increased fees and surcharges. Thousands of people like the Plaintiffs take money from their disability checks or sacrifice money that is desperately needed by their families for food, diapers, clothing, rent, and utilities to pay ever increasing court fines, fees, costs, and surcharges. They are told by City officials that, if they do not pay, they will be thrown in jail. The cycle repeats itself, month after month, for years.


At least four suicides and suicide attempts by people held because they were too poor to pay for their release have occurred in local municipal jails just in the past five months.

Read the Democracy Now! interview with Michael-John Voss and two of the plaintiffs and the complaint in the Ferguson lawsuit. (There’s also a lawsuit against the City of Jennings, another St. Louis County town). The details will enrage you.

Beaten to death in a Houston jail

Fourteen people died in Houston’s Harris County Jail in 2014. So far this year, there have been three deaths in that jail. Here is the story of one of them.

“Stop fucking beating me! What the fuck did I do? Get off me! Please, please don’t do this!’

“Get off my back, bro. I’m not resisting. Right now, bro, I’m gonna pass out”

“Oh shit! This is wrong!” (screams)

These were among the last words of Kenneth Christopher Lucas, a 38-year-old Black man who was murdered in a cell of the Harris County Jail in Houston on February 17, 2014. A horrifying video shows a squad of five jail guards, outfitted head to toe with weaponry and body armor, marching like robot killers down jailhouse corridors and then charging into Lucas’ cell.

The pigs pin Kenneth Lucas to his cot and press, then cuff, his hands and feet high on his back. They swarm all over him, one sitting on his back to press both his feet and hands down. They scream repeatedly for him to “stop resisting”, although Lucas was lying face down, with one heavy pig on him and others pressing him further down, including one pig who was squeezing his neck. They stayed this way for about 20 minutes, for much of which Lucas was motionless and silent. A lawyer hired by his family said: “It appeared to me that the man who was sitting on his legs, was sitting on the legs, ultimately, of a dead man and still trying to restrain a dead man.”

Lucas was dragged off the gurney and out of his cell, face down. The video shows a jail nurse twice giving Lucas shots described as a “sedative” by his killers. Pigs continued to sit on him and press down on him the entire time, even after it was evident he was not moving.

It is not clear at what moment Kenneth Lucas actually died. What is clear is that he lay, motionless and unresponsive, for an extended time, his head pressed down, a cop sitting on him and surrounded by other cops, his arms and feet forced into contorting, painful positions, before any of these pigs gave some thought to the fact that he may be dead. Kenneth Lucas was later reportedly placed in a “restraint chair,” then taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

One year later, on February 11, 2015, a Harris County grand jury cleared the five murdering pigs and three other jail employees who observed the terrifying assault that took Kenneth Lucas’ life. Sheriff Adrian Garcia said his department’s “team members followed policy and procedure. The investigation looked for evidence of excessive force and none was found.”

Kenneth Lucas was in jail because he was supposedly a little late in returning his children to his ex-wife while they were with him on a visitation. He was swarmed by the riot squad because they claimed he had removed a smoke detector and intended to somehow use it as a weapon. After his death, Garcia’s office moved to charge Lucas with criminal mischief for his alleged tampering with the smoke detector. No evidence of this was ever produced by the cops. Now his murderers walk free.

Anyone with a shred of humanity could see this video and be shocked at the callous indifference and contempt for the life of Kenneth Lucas these cops have. It takes utterly heartless killers to pile on someone the way the Harris County Sheriffs did on Kenneth Lucas on that horrible night; to surround, suffocate, and squeeze the life out of someone the way they strangled it out of him. It takes an utterly illegitimate legal system to look at the video of Lucas’ agony and death and determine that no crime was committed. It takes a brazen, cold blooded pig like Adrian Garcia to release a video showing cops under his command brutally murdering Kenneth Lucas, then boast (and threaten) after the grand jury cleared them that “no one did anything criminally.”

Every action Garcia and his pigs took leading up to, during, and in the aftermath of the murder of Kenneth Christopher Lucas was criminal. They did it in service of a criminal system, a system that has the relentless oppression of Black people woven deeply into every part of its fabric.

Lucas’ widow, Amber, said that “somebody needs to be held accountable for these actions.” There needs to be justice for Kenneth Lucas, and the pigs who killed him must be charged with murder! Police brutality and the police murder of Black and Latino people must STOP!

(A protest demanding Justice for Kenneth Lucas was planned for Sunday, February 22.)




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Letters on the February 7-8 Atlanta Stop Mass Incarceration Network Conference:

Why We Need to Shut Shit Down on April 14

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | received the following letters from two Revolution Club members about the February 7-8 national meeting in Atlanta to discuss the call from Stop Mass Incarceration Network for a day of massive resistance to police murder this April 14. (See “Atlanta Conference Calls for NO BUSINESS AS USUAL April 14 to STOP POLICE MURDER” for a report about the meeting.)

What Is Needed for You to Do

From a 13-year-old Revolution Club member:

Why did I go to Atlanta? I went to Atlanta because I wanted to plan for A14. April 14 is a national day of walkout of work, school and more like that and shut shit down and don’t spend any money. I know that’s hard for us but we could try. Why we are going to do that? We are going to do that not only because of Carl Dix who called for it. We are going to do that because these racist cops keep killing our youth. I probably know why these police keep killing the kids. They say they might’ve had a gun like they’ve said. No that’s bullshit. They killed them for no reason. You probably will be like, “It’s not just the cops.” I know it’s the whole system that’s giving us Black and Latino and Hispanics a target on our back! And this shit needs to stop! Excuse my language.

What Bob Avakian's understanding of the role of the police is not to protect and serve the people—no, it’s to protect and serve the system. So honestly I think that’s true because when has a cop went to jail for killing a Black youth? I know you probably like, “They did Oscar Grant killer went to jail for 11 months.” Yeah we need more of That. But he didn’t have a longer sentence than 11 months. But when a Black/Latino/Hispanic kill they go to prison for they whole life and sometimes 25 years.

What’s needed for you to do is below



Inspired and Strengthened by the People at the Conference

From a college student and member of the New York City Revolution Club:

During the last stretch of our bus ride from NY to Atlanta, the Georgia sunshine was refreshing, as we left the cold way way behind us. The country became more and more apparent as we strayed from concrete city, and I couldn’t help but think about the history of this particular state and country as we passed plantation-style homes. Slavery. It was heavy thinking about how the foundation of this country was laid on the backs of Black people—stolen lives then, and stolen lives still. And how now we entered this place with the intention of breaking all of the chains, and breaking deeply from the foundation of genocide and imperialism this country was founded on. This is how we need to proceed from this question of mass incarceration and police murder. This country has in its very foundation, in its fabric, the necessity to kill Black and brown folks to maintain its empire. This was on my mind as I saw the Georgia skyline, along with the purpose of this conference: to organize to stop the wanton police murder and fucking horrors put in place to keep oppressed folks from rising; to organize a complete shutdown of Amerikkka on April 14.

I’ve been out protesting the non-indictments. I’ve recognized how these horrors need to end, but something else clicked with me this weekend. Well lots of things, and I’d like to outline a few. I’ve seen videos of the murder by police, but hearing from families made this issue really real. Not a talking point. Not an issue that’s sexy to talk about (I say this because as a college student, I very rightly stood up against police murder, but the context in which it was discussed on campus seemed so far removed from the reality of people’s lives facing this shit every day). Something fucking real. These are people’s lives, not only that have been stolen, but whose absence affects the whole community in which they live.

It wasn’t just listening to these horrors that made my eyes well and gave me the chills—it was the fucking strength and resistance of these family members—their determination not to let their loved ones deaths be forgotten. Not be swept under the rug. Not be slandered by media. How these families connect and support one another amazed me—but it was apparent that it’s not without pain and struggle still. It cemented in me that NO person should ever experience this kind of loss. NOT ONE more family should have to deal with this. The anger inside of me also rose because of the in-fucking-humanity and the absolute garbage this country puts out to DEFEND this wanton murder (and not just murder—stories of torture and terror by NYPD and the prison system came out too). It’s enraging, and the repression meant to take the fire away from this movement and divide people needs to be met with the righteous anger I felt and I KNOW many, many others in the conference felt too.

I was reinvigorated by the energy of the people in the room. Their deep commitment to freedom and justice for Black people and all people, their seriousness about how to get humanity out of this fucking mess, their laughter, their love, was not only deeply inspiring but made clear that my participation in this movement was so right and that I would do anything for these folks—put my body on the line for any of the people in that room, and more importantly for humanity, just as I know many of the organizers of this conference would do too, have done and continue to do. That is a big part of what shifted in me—this excitement and deep understanding of how necessary a movement like this is—how historic this is—how right this is and how wrong police murder, terror and criminalization of a generation is.

Bringing experience with me from Stop Patriarchy (and their orientation), my interest in BA and firm belief that we need a revolution to rid ourselves of all oppression (and as a new member of the Revolution Club) was also something that helped to deepen my commitment to making April 14 what it needs to be. There is a lot at stake here—in whether Amerikkka is brought to a halt or not. Not just because every day people continue to be murdered, but that if the state is allowed to break up this movement and divide the people, the fight to end police murder will become just that more difficult. We cannot have people lose hope when they are finally feeling as though their voices, lives matter to the people! We need to break through and organize ourselves; we need to come together no matter what perspective you come from, what race, class, gender or sexual orientation; if you burn with rage at the injustice, you need to be with us organizing and on the streets. (One example in history I’d like to offer up here is how white people worked with SNCC to obtain voting rights for Blacks in the South and some of these people went on to forge movements.) That’s what was so beautiful and monumental about the conference. All kinds of folks came together to organize for a shutdown of this system—including folks who have been working on shutting down the system in different ways.

A woman asked a comrade and I if we heard about “what happened” in DC and excitedly told her that we were a part of the movement that halted the “March for Life.” (See “An Unprecedented Act: Anti-Abortion March Brought to a Halt in DC.”) I’d like to point out that the conference was very serious but a whole lot of fun!! It was like MLK’s dream realized, with the exception that we are still fighting the fight of the Civil Rights Movement, but what was incredible was to see how a world like this could be forged and together a world like this is possible.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Check It Out

"I Can't Breathe" Video by Pussy Riot

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


The Russian band Pussy Riot has released a new music video, “I Can’t Breathe“ that everyone should check out. Band members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina said they wrote the song, their first in English, after taking part in street protests against the NYPD murder of Eric Garner by chokehold in Staten Island last summer. They said, “This song is for Eric and for all those from Russia to America and around the globe who suffer from state terror—killed, choked, perished because of war and state-sponsored violence of all kinds—for political prisoners and those on the streets fighting for change. We stand in solidarity.”

In the video we see the two musicians being buried alive, shovelfuls of dirt being thrown on them, as we hear the lyrics of the song, with its haunting refrain:

It’s getting dark in New York City
It’s getting dark in New York City
It’s getting dark in New York City
I need to catch my breath

An alternate version of the video shows scenes from the street protests, the memorial at the place where Eric Garner was murdered, and Eric’s family members.

Pussy Riot collaborated with various musicians for the video, including punk rock legend Richard Hell, Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow. The song closes with Richard Hell’s recitation of Eric Garner’s final words:

Get away...for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you...? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because every time you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me... Selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone. please please, don’t touch me. Do not touch me.... I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

A new film of an historic event:

Online Launch and Premiere Screenings
March 28, 2015

The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion
A Film of a Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN

Updated March 10, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Watch NOW!
Re-broadcast of the November 15 Simulcast

New York

4-9 pm (doors open at 3:30)
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Blvd. (Lenox Ave.) @ 135 St.
Harlem, New York
Tickets: $25 general admission; $10 low income; $100 premium

Revolution Books
146 W. 26 St., NY, NY
212-691-3345 or
BA Everywhere Committee

Media sponsor is WBAI


Los Angeles

2-7 pm (doors open at 1:30 pm) 
The Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC)
514 South Spring St. 
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Tickets: $20 general admission; $10 low-income; $100 premium

Media sponsor is KPFK.

Presented in association with the Los Angeles Theatre Center


Revolution Books/Libros Revolución
5726 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028


1-5:30 pm
David Brower Center
Goldman Theater
2150 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA
Tickets: $25 general admission; $10 low income; $100 premium

Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way near Telegraph Ave.
510-848-1196 or
BA Everywhere Committee Berkeley, 510-387-5615

Media Freedom Foundation / Project Censored


3-8 pm
The Encore Theater
4715 Main Street 
Houston, TX 77002
Tickets: $20 general admission; $10 youth & unemployed

Info/tickets: 832-865-0408


3-8 pm (doors open at 2:30 pm)
Film 3-7 pm, reception follows at 7:15 pm
Logan Center for the Arts
915 E. 60th Street (1 block east of Cottage Grove in Hyde Park)
$20 / $10 low income / $50 & $100 premium

Chicago BA Everywhere Committee


1:30-5:30 pm (doors open at 1:00 pm)
Cinefest Theater
Georgia State University
University Center, Lower level
44 Courtland Street S.E.
Atlanta  GA

Revolution Books Outlet – Atlanta

Additional Showings


12:30 - 5 p.m.
Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Spiegal Auditorium
56 Brattle St, Harvard Sqv Cambridge, MA
$10 General Admission, $5 Students/Unemployed
For more info:
Revolution Books
1158 Mass Ave. #205
Cambridge, MA


1 p.m.
Seattle Revolution Books
89 S. Washington
Seattle, WA
$10 / sliding scale for low-income and unemployed
For info:

St. Louis

MONDAY, MARCH 30, 5:30 pm
14th Street Artist Community Gallery
2701 N. 14th Street in Old North St. Louis
$10 Donation at Door. No One Will Be Turned Away!



March 28, 10:00 PM EDT at
Spread the word far and wide so tens of thousands can watch online






Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Baking Project Challenge: Raise Funds for the Film of the Cornel West & Bob Avakian Dialogue!

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


From readers:

Some of us began a “Baking for BA Everywhere” fundraising project in our city. This is a call to others to join us everywhere, and for those who can’t bake, go out to take orders, or organize the deliveries, or if you can’t do that, then pledge matching funds so that we can all be involved in many different ways.

On the Saturday before Christmas, four of us gathered to bake sweet potato pies. We were a mixed group of veteran revolutionaries, a teacher who was just getting to know BA, a home health aide, older and younger. While the sweet potatoes boiled on the stove we watched and talked about the Dialogue. All of us had seen the Dialogue before and most of us had been there live and in person. We talked and laughed, got to know each other, dug more deeply into the Dialogue and why everyone needs to meet BA and the movement for revolution. We made many, many pies and raised $130 through our beginning holiday bake sale. We were all looking forward to doing this again, only bigger and better.

A couple of our participants had this to say: “I felt that the baking we did gave me a chance to do something meaningful and with a purpose. The women were so open and I learned a lot from them and about myself. The questions raised in the Dialogue were really interesting, and the answers were even more interesting, inspiring, and encouraging. It made me feel so good. It inspired me to want to do something to spread the word about BA and the Revolution” and “I would have this to add: The recipe for revolution includes baking pies!”

We baked a special pumpkin spice sheet cake with cream cheese frosting for the February 15 fundraising dinner for the REVOLUTION AND RELIGION film. We took our “show on the road” and went from table to table at the dinner. It was great—we met seven new volunteer bakers, and took seven orders from other people for baked goods. Now of course we have to figure out how to organize ourselves and harness all this wonderful new energy, and make sure we continue getting orders so we can really raise big money to make the launch of the film “REVOLUTION & RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion” a terrific success!

We invite you to join with us: bake with us; offer your home, church, or restaurant kitchen for baking; offer your favorite recipes; order your cakes, or pledge to match all the money raised through these bake sales if you can. Let’s get a challenge going in several areas, let’s set some goals so we can be a part of raising the money needed so the Dialogue can be seen by millions, on line as it is now, and so the launch of the high quality film of this historic Dialogue can reach even more broadly!




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

From the BA Everywhere Dinners:
People Respond to the Dialogue

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


These are some of the responses to clips from the new film of the Dialogue between Cornel West and Bob Avakian, from people at the February 15 BA Everywhere fundraising gatherings in different cities.


Comments from a group of folks from a neighborhood of the oppressed: "It was a tag team, they weren't trying to tear each other down, like so many people do today." One man commented on how direct and firm BA is in his stand and analysis and how in hearing him it was "hard to believe a white guy is saying the things he said." Another man--who has been running with the revolution ever since he heard what BA had to say in the Dialogue about the imminent grand jury decision on the cop who killed Michael Brown and the urgent need to act--said, "I thought the man was right."

A young Black man, college student: "We've gotta get people's eyes open, see this whole system for what it is. Like they say we have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, but we really don't have that. You can't even protest anymore without them throwing tear gas and horses at you. I thought we were supposed to have the right to assemble? Unless you're what they want you to be, you're no longer part of the society. And they jail people for certain things they don't like. All these rights are shrinking, and they give excuse after excuse as to why it's all happening. So everyone has the same excuse in their mouth. It's the same bullshit they give to everybody. This Dialogue, getting it out there, would help open people's eyes to that, help people understand not to be drones just going along or being afraid. It would let people see they don't have to accept things the way they are. Enough is enough, we don't have to accept it."

A young Latina woman: "What struck me about the clips? I guess it would be that Cornel and Bob are coming from totally different spots, and I feel like one of the bigger issues in the world right now separating us is religion, and seeing the Dialogue and showing it to a lot of other people, people from all different generations could relate. And it's true that things from like decades ago are resurfacing and coming back up, because that fight was never won, nothing was really changed. I don't know if people gave up or if people thought things were fine, but things aren't fine and the same things need to be changed, and I really feel like this Dialogue is a really big stepping stone and if we could get it to a lot of people, we really could change something, I feel like this could be what changes a lot of people's minds, revolutionary change that's what we need--a drastic change. It’s not going to be easy, I've only been involved in revolution actively for maybe six months, I'm very new to it, but all of these ideas, it's been inside of me already."

A young non-profit administrator was impressed that the speakers were really talking about the possibility that the world could be different, and how positive it was that the two speakers who differ could sit and talk with civility, and he contrasted it to Fox TV or MSNBC.

A Black woman who had gone to the November 15 Dialogue said how she and her son watched the video of the Dialogue and how watching it through made quite a difference. She said now she much more deeply understands what BA and Cornel West are saying, and it has made her much more consider revolution as the answer.

A college student who was very inspired by watching the clips said, "This is really what we need. I want to join this revolution."

A minister who had attended the Dialogue expressed appreciation for the points of unity and difference between BA and Cornel West in the film clips. He said he is continuing to work on the role of religion and religious (people) in revolution. He teaches liberation theology at a seminary and is considering how to include the Dialogue in the curriculum this spring.

A young filmmaker was struck by the morality of the speakers, BA and Cornel West, and that they are fighting for a different world. He hates the police murders going on, has gone to the protests and is making a film about it. He is looking for a life with meaning, and after seeing the clips, wants to watch the whole Dialogue.

A professional cook who had watched the whole Dialogue twice on video said he found himself in tears after the first time "because I've never felt such a kinship and like-mindedness as when I heard Bob Avakian speak."

An older woman described how when she grew up in Europe, her father was very anti-communist. She had known something about BA for some time, but she was surprised to learn when she saw the film clips that he is not Black!

A young Latino college student: "It's very spectacular to see so many people gathered from around the U.S. to see the historic dialogue."

A university student said that he couldn't say what he thought of the whole thing, but that he really connected with what BA was talking about. He said that it's true that the masses of Black people don't have the rights that others in America have, or think they have. He went on and talked about how he sees how what's happening to Black people today is like what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany and how the genocide didn't suddenly happen, but it was step by step, and today, the middle class people have hope in the illusions and promises of this system and don't see what's happening. He said that they need to wake up and come together with those who are being brutalized and oppressed before it's too late. He said that he could see how this film could make a difference in that.





Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

A Putrid Culture—and a Whole Different Way We Could Think, Feel, and Be

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


As we go to press, it is not clear who will win the Best Picture award at the Oscars. But the fact that it is even possible that American Sniper—a film celebrating an unapologetic genocidal murderer who sneers at his victims as “savages”—will win speaks volumes about the values celebrated by this culture. And the fact that at the very same time the top-grossing film in the U.S. is an unapologetic promotion and romanticization of the domination, beating, and degrading of women adds an entire oppressive dimension.

This is not something we have to put up with. Watch what Bob Avakian says (see video at right) about a vision of a whole different revolutionary culture.

Purchase this documentary film at New York's Revolution Books.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Stop Watching Porn—Start Fighting Patriarchy!

Protest Pornhub's NYC Porn Film Festival

Updated February 24, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


We received this article from

Saturday, Feb 27, 2-4 pm
Melrose Street, btwn Knickerbocker Ave and Irving Ave in Bushwick*

From Friday, Feb 27—Sunday, March 1st, Pornhub, the largest porn site in the world, will host its first ever Porn Film Festival in Bushwick, NY. This marks a further step in the mainstreaming of pornography, even as pornography becomes ever more violent, cruel, dehumanizing, degrading, and humiliating towards women.

Consider a few of the all-time most viewed videos on Pornhub:

This doesn't even mention Pornhub features under “hardcore,” “gangbang,” “double penetration,” etc!

There is nothing “edgy” or “rebellious” about pornography. It is not “society becoming more comfortable with sex.” It is society becoming ever more saturated in the sexualized degradation of women.

Every woman at every hour of every day—whether on the street, in her home, at her job, in school, or on a battlefield—is affected by, diminished by, and endangered by living in a world where millions upon millions of men get off on watching women reduced to objects to be tortured, humiliated and brutalized for their sexual arousal.

That this Festival includes LGBT and “feminist” porn does not make any of this “liberating.” No matter who promotes it, porn does nothing to challenge the basic divisions into slave and slavemaster, dominated and dominator, object and subject that mark our world—and which have everything to do with why LGBT people and women are oppressed in the first place! While we join actively in the fight to combat all forms of bigotry and discrimination against people based on their gender or sexual orientation, the idea that liberation for anyone can be found through eroticizing domination and degradation is a terrible illusion.

Join with on Saturday, February 28 to PROTEST Pornhub and its Porn Film Festival. Bring a sign, bring a friend, or show up on your own. Many people hate this constant degradation of women – and many more can be won to cast it off and stand up against it – but we have to go out in public and declare it! We have to stand up and challenge this culture, expose the harm it does, break others out of it, and bring forward a far better and much more liberating culture in the process.

Women are not bitches, hos, punching bags, sex objects or breeders.

If you can't imagine sex without porn, you're fucked!

Stop Watching Porn—Start Fighting Patriarchy!




* Directions by train and foot:
Take L train to MORGAN AVE, exit near intersection of HARRISON PL and MORGAN AVE.
Turn right onto KNICKERBOCKER AVE (5 minutes).
Turn left onto MELROSE ST.




Revolution #375 February 23, 2015

Cheers for Oscar Comments

February 23, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


During the Oscar ceremonies on Sunday, February 22, there were a number of statements made by award winners that are worth noting—and cheering. Among them were the following:

Laura Poitras and Edward Snowden

Laura Poitras won the Best Documentary award for her film Citizenfour which, as the film's website describes it, gives "audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald's encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasion of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA)." Standing on the Oscar stage next to Greenwald, Poitras said, “The disclosures that Edward Snowden reveals don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself. When the most important decisions being made affecting all of us are made in secret, we lose our ability to check the powers that control. Thank you to Edward Snowden for his courage and for the many other whistleblowers. And I share this with Glenn Greenwald and other journalists who are exposing truth.”

The U.S. government has charged Snowden with felonies under the Espionage Act and cancelled his passport, forcing him into exile in Russia. In a statement released after Citizenfour won, Snowden said: “When Laura Poitras asked me if she could film our encounters, I was extremely reluctant. I’m grateful that I allowed her to persuade me. The result is a brave and brilliant film that deserves the honor and recognition it has received. My hope is that this award will encourage more people to see the film and be inspired by its message that ordinary citizens, working together, can change the world.”

Patricia Arquette

Accepting her award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Boyhood, Patricia Arquette shouted out, "To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else's equal rights. It's our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!"

John Legend

The award for Best Original Song went to "Glory" from Selma, by John Legend and Common. The two did a spectacular performance of the song at the Oscar ceremonies with a full chorus and stage recreation of the Edmund Pettus Bridge—the site of a brutal, bloody attack by police on civil rights marchers in 1965, a scene dramatically depicted in Selma.

When John Legend accepted the award he said: “... Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now. We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today.”

He also said that the U.S. is "the most incarcerated country in the world" and “there are more Black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.  When people are marching with our song—we want to tell you we are with you, we see you, we love you and march on.”