The Revolution Books program on March 3 opened with a voice reading the title of the program appearing on a screen:
EMERGENCY FORUM: WAR IN UKRAINE
What is happening?... Why is it happening?... Where do the interests of humanity lie?...
AND WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH
THE REVOLUTION HUMANITY SO URGENTLY NEEDS?
This screen then dissolved into a video of massive bombing of a city.
The lights at Revolution Books came up and Andy Zee began his opening presentation.
After showing this video last night on this week’s episode of The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show I asked:
“Look familiar? It should. It’s not Ukraine. It is what your U.S. government called Shock and Awe directed against a sovereign nation, Iraq, in 2003 on the basis of outright lies. Mass deception, delivered by Colin Powell at the orders of then President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.”
The point? A dangerous brew of deception spews from the mouths, newspapers, television, and online commentators to forge masses of people and governments into viewing what is happening in Ukraine as a struggle between “good guys” and “bad guys,” between aggressor and victim. And, not so by the way—it is presented that way on both sides—Russian media to the Russian bloc and Western media to the larger, more powerful U.S. bloc. This narrative framework, emanates from the mouth of Joe Biden and the parrots of the major and even most of the alternative so-called “radical” media in the U.S., that what we are witnessing in Ukraine is a struggle between, as Biden put it in his nauseating State of the Union address earlier this week:
the battle between democracy and autocracy
And in order to line up and firm up the allegiance of the people and the other countries of the U.S. bloc, Biden continued saying:
democracies are rising to the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security.
Tonight, here at Revolution Books, we are going to pierce this deception, cast off the illusions and delusions that blind and bind people to U.S. imperialism and to the framework of capitalism-imperialism more broadly. Doing so, yes, in the name of "American democracy":
The American democracy that brought that “shock and awe” against Iraq that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, created millions of refugees, and set in motion a series of wars from Afghanistan to Yemen—an ongoing horror show every bit as depraved as what Russia is doing in Ukraine.
Tonight, in this emergency forum, we are going to pose that there is a way to understand what is happening—objectively, scientifically, and that there is a way out of this unfolding horror through a liberating revolution.
So, let me welcome you to Revolution Books in NYC, and welcome all who are watching on line. My name is Andy Zee, I am the host of The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show, a show like none other. Every week The RNL Show brings to you the necessity, the possibility, the strategy, and the goal of a revolution to emancipate all humanity here and around the world. This is a show that follows and applies the leadership of the revolutionary leader, Bob Avakian (BA), and the framework of the new communism that he has developed. This framework provides the scientific method and approach to know and change the world through a liberating revolution. It is the opposite of the exploitative, oppressive system that dominates the world today and the frameworks that they have of this American democracy to rope people in and convince people to go along with the oppression at home and abroad.
In this Emergency Forum on the War in Ukraine, we are going to address: What is happening?... Why is it happening? ... Where do the interests of humanity lie? ... AND WHAT DOES IT HAVE TO DO WITH THE REVOLUTION HUMANITY SO URGENTLY NEEDS?
Raymond Lotta is going to provide us with a historical and analytical analysis to understand what’s happening, why, and the basis for what the interests of humanity are. I will come back and make a few comments after Raymond speaks and then we will have a question and answer.
A few basic points to get us started. This—the illegitimate, illegal, brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia—and, how the U.S. and the “Western” powers respond, is a major shaping event whose impact should not be underestimated. All wars are full of uncertainty—calculation and miscalculation, and with Russia and the U.S. possessing 8,000 nuclear weapons with the possibility of destroying the earth and much life on it, the danger is profound.
That must not be underestimated.
There is at the same time, the danger of how people here in the U.S. (as well as the world) are being fed a dangerous ideological poison of American chauvinism. A way of thinking that leads people to see their interests bound up with the system that exploits, oppresses, and terrorizes the people of the world.
A system which has created a myth of America as the land of the free, the land of opportunity, with freedom and justice for all, when the brutal, bitter reality is that this is a country founded on the genocide of the Native peoples and the theft of their land, as well as the theft of one-third of Mexico in a bloody war of conquest...
A country whose start-up wealth was derived, extracted from the enslavement of African people and the continued and continuing superexploitation and oppression of Black people and other people of color...
This is a country that claims to welcome the “tired,” “the poor,” “the huddled masses”... and then has built up its wealth through the demonization, deportation, and incarceration of immigrants...
This is a country with the largest prison population in the history of the world.
A country where women throughout its history have been treated as second class citizens; and who today are subject to rape, sexual violence, degradation, and now are on the brink of losing the fundamental right to abortion without which their bodies, their lives, their futures will be enslaved to the state.
A country where LGBTQ people having just won some of the most basic rights, stand poised to lose them all...
A country which is by far the largest polluter of the earth.
The U.S. has waged wars, invaded, staged coups all around the world for most of its existence. All the “God Bless Americas” that are uttered by those who rule over the people of this country, should give pause to think about what kind of God would create such a monstrous system? And then, to scientifically “see the light”—that this is not some imaginary God that created this horror, but the capitalist-imperialist system that we live under—a system whose time needs to be, and can be, up.
To get at the heart of America—the “good guys,” I want to show a short film clip from Bob Avakian from his 2017 talk at the beginning of the Trump/Pence regime: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go.... We will follow this film clip with what he wrote in a very recent article titled: “Shameless American Chauvinism: ‘Anti-Authoritarianism’ as a ‘Cover’ For Supporting U.S. Imperialism” that has been illustrated by the The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show production team:
From the film and The RNL Show clips:
The Great Tautological Fallacy
In confronting and moving to prevent [the full imposition of fascism], one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way, and weighing people down, is American chauvinism—the disgusting notion that America and Americans are better and more important than everybody else. This is a poison infecting people broadly in this country, even among the bitterly oppressed, and there is a great need for people to break with this American chauvinism. Free yourself from the GTF!— the Great Tautological Fallacy. A fallacy: an idea, or a way of thinking, that is false, wrong. A tautology: a round-in-a-circle way of reasoning that asserts something and then claims to prove it by merely asserting the same thing again. So, the Great Tautological Fallacy to which I am referring is the notion that America is a force for good in the world, and therefore whatever it does is good (or at least done with “good intentions”), even if the same thing when done by other forces, especially forces opposed to “us,” is bad, is evil—because... because America is a force for good in the world. Thus, in the grip of the Great Tautological Fallacy, when one is told by the authorities in government and the media, etc., that North Korea developing a small number of nuclear weapons and a few long-range ballistic missiles poses a “grave threat,” one does not question, one does not ask why that is a “grave threat,” while the only country ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States, having thousands of nuclear weapons and the capability to use them, anywhere in the world, is somehow not a grave threat. Under the influence of the Great Tautological Fallacy, one does not stop to think about the fact that, in this situation, North Korea could only be developing this weaponry as an attempt to deter an attack from the United States—for North Korea’s leaders know that if they initiated an attack, they would face massive, overwhelming retaliation—and from the point of view of the imperial rulers of the United States, such a possibility of deterrence is precisely the problem, because it could in some measure limit the ability of the U.S. to dominate and dictate.
From: “Shameless American Chauvinism: ‘Anti-Authoritarianism’ as a ‘Cover’ For Supporting U.S. Imperialism”
For those of us who are not willing to be blinded by this [GTF], we can and must confront and analyze reality as it actually is, and draw the necessary conclusions. Besides the fact that the U.S. is today, and has historically been, allied with many “authoritarian” governments throughout the world (and, in fact, has forcibly installed such governments in many countries), the even more fundamental fact is that the essence of the conflict between the U.S. and countries like Russia and China is not one between “democracy” and “authoritarianism,” but is a matter of rivalry among imperialist powers, all of which are monstrous oppressors of masses of people, and none of which represent or act in the interests of humanity. What is called for, and urgently now, is to oppose all imperialist marauders and mass murderers, and all systems and relations of oppression and exploitation, while giving particular emphasis to opposing “our own” imperialist oppressors who commit their monstrous crimes “in our name” and seek to rally us to support them on the basis of a grotesque American chauvinism, which we must firmly reject and fiercely struggle against.
No one with a shred of humanity should support Putin’s aggression, his bloody invasion, and what seems to be his plan for occupying Ukraine. But, it is worth repeating that what is unfolding in Ukraine is not the righteous struggle between the good guys—the forces for U.S. style democracy versus the evil, even maniacal authoritarian autocracy of Putin. It is rather, as BA wrote:
a matter of rivalry among imperialist powers, all of which are monstrous oppressors of masses of people, and none of which represent or act in the interests of humanity. What is called for, and urgently now, is to oppose all imperialist marauders and mass murderers, and all systems and relations of oppression and exploitation, while giving particular emphasis to opposing “our own” imperialist oppressors who commit their monstrous crimes “in our name” and seek to rally us to support them on the basis of a grotesque American chauvinism, which we must firmly reject and fiercely struggle against.
Right now—too many people in this country are scurrying their behinds up behind the U.S. ruling class and its monstrous military machine.
Let me give an example: Little Steven—Stevie Van Zandt—who played Silvio Dante in the Sopranos. He has been part of Bruce Springsteen’s band since its beginning, has succumbed in grotesque manner to the GTF. And, I know most people today don’t know that Little Steven is a very progressive guy who created great progressive records of his own, and was a major force in creating a cultural movement against South African apartheid.
But... here’s just a small selection of his recent tweets:
[W]hat happens if we destroy the Russian convoy and the forces encircling the cities with air strikes or drones. Up front. What exactly does Russia do about it? Let’s hear it. Just asking. [emphasis added]
How can we watch this madness and do nothing? We are better than him and stronger. Let’s act like it!
The world needs a police force. Until the UN is properly militarized it has to be us!
WE WHO? Stevie? Your “Boss”... that is, Bruce Springsteen, once wrote a song called “Blinded by the Light.” You, now unfortunately are blinded, deluded about what kind of future the U.S. brings to the people of the world. In fact, as Raymond Lotta will go into soon, the U.S. with its IMF and World Bank, and its vast military that spans the globe, will enforce its nothing-other-than-imperialist domination.
One more thing, Stevie... bravado with Tony Soprano on a TV show is one thing, but mouthing off that U.S. should “go get ’em” is unconscionable. These are two countries who hold 95 percent of the nuclear weapons in the world, with the U.S. being the only country to ever use nukes, twice, is beyond crazy; it is playing with fire that could consume everything.
With this introduction on the American chauvinism, let’s hear from Raymond Lotta. [For Lotta’s talk, go here.]
What follows is Andy Zee’s remarks after Raymond Lotta’s presentation:
Thank you, Raymond.
If you come away from our talks today with a one point of orientation, a way to approach and think about what is unfolding in the Ukraine, let it be what is concentrated in this from Bob Avakian in BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian:
The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way. (BAsics 3:8)
This should guide how you, how we, think about and understand what is going down in Ukraine. And, more fundamentally it should guide what we do and yes, what we should not do. We should not be lining up behind, let alone calling for, the counter moves by the rulers of this country. All those who aspire to a world without oppression and exploitation must proceed not from my country, my people, but from the interests of humanity. Our stand is not nationalism or patriotism, it is INTERNATIONALISM—which means, The Whole World Comes First. This is our stand today—not: “thank you for your service” to those who enforce U.S. domination around the world. Internationalism is the standpoint of the revolution humanity urgently needs. Internationalism means that a foundational principle of the New Socialist Republic in North America that we are working to bring into being through an actual revolution, will be, as it says in the preamble to the Constitution for that republic, that it will “give fundamental priority to the advance of the revolutionary struggle, and the final goal, of communism, throughout the world.” (emphasis added)
If we aspire to get to a world, to a society beyond all the divisions among peoples, a world without exploitation and oppression, we are never going to get there by uniting with or scrambling up under the wing of the ruling class of U.S. imperialism—one of the most vengeful and vicious in history.
No, we need to oppose the actions of our own government and ruling class in carrying out their wars, which are wars for empire. More, we welcome any setbacks they suffer in those wars, because that weakens their oppressive hold over masses of people, here and all over the world.
This stand is bedrock for revolutionaries in this country. We call this “revolutionary defeatism.” And, it takes on great urgency today, when we have entered a rare time when the possibility exists that a revolution could actually be made in this country.
What makes this possibility so, is how sharp and irreconcilable the divisions are in this country. We are now two countries within one border. Why this possibility exists now and how to organize now to bring masses of people forward to this revolution is beyond the scope of this forum, although we can entertain questions in the Q&A. You can read about this in Bob Avakian’s major work, Something Terrible, or Something Emancipating ; Profound Crisis, Deepening Divisions, The Looming Possibility Of Civil War—And The Revolution That Is Urgently Needed. A Necessary Foundation, A Basic Roadmap For This Revolution. And, in the Declaration that the revcoms put out almost a year ago: A Declaration, A Call to Get Organized Now for a Real Revolution.
BA has said, and we can say, that an extremely horrific situation, now made even more extreme by the war in Ukraine, can give rise to a deep questioning in why the world is the way it is, and an openness to and felt necessity to find out about, to become a part of, and ultimately to join in what humanity needs most of all: revolution for the goal of emancipating all humanity.