July 24, 2005
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On July 10 an LAPD SWAT team steamrolled into Watts and savagely butchered Raúl Peña and his 18-month-old baby Suzie.
These murdering enforcers have no right to rule the world! The brutal, bloodsucking capitalist system they are sworn to serve and protect has been in effect over us for too damn long. It’s got to stop. Every day in many different ways we see the brutality and misery their rule brings down on the world. And on July 10, in Los Angeles, the LAPD hammered it home again.
One hundred cops took over a neighborhood and surrounded a scared, desperate, and mentally ill man and his baby daughter. Then they cut them into ribbons by firing more than 60 gunshots into an office no bigger than a closet. No one could’ve survived their murderous assault.
They say they came to help, to save lives and protect the people. They even say they wanted to save the baby. This is a cold lie. But it is more than a lie. These are the words of enforcers who think they have the right to gun down the masses of people and walk away to do it again.and again.and again.
We’re sick of their lies and we know what happened. It was cold-blooded murder, plain and simple.
All kinds of people saw what happened. Family members and friends tried to stop it. When Lorraine Lopez tried to plead for the life of her baby daughter and Raúl, who is her life partner, the police drove her away from the scene. They had no interest in anyone doing anything to try to resolve this situation. Their only interest was in blowing him away. They even put a gun to the head of another woman who tried to help by talking to Raúl.
Piling insults on top of lies they turned around and blamed Raúl for his daughter’s death. At first they said Raúl had shot Suzie. Then they said he tried to use Suzie as a human shield. Lies on top of lies.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. County Coroner found that there were three bullets in Suzie’s body—three bullets from police assault rifles. Suzie died from a police bullet in her brain.
The biggest lie was when the police chief said some of his cops were so shaken by what happened that they wished they could trade places with the baby. No!
Why do these police kill like this? It is because they are trained to shoot first and defend their actions later. They are trained to look at the masses of people as “the enemy” and they are trained to think that people like Raúl and Suzie are disposable and dispensable. They are trained to terrorize the people who the system they protect rules over. And they are trained to make it very clear that if anyone dares to defend themselves against their murdering fire—whether they are in a state of mental upset, as Raúl was, or whether they are just defending themselves—that the only ones who have the right to use armed force are the enforcers of this system.
What kind of society would allow an atrocity like this to happen? What kind of system would endorse its enforcers committing a foul murder like this? A bloodsucking capitalist/imperialist society. They do this to keep the oppressed masses and the proletariat in a situation where the capitalist system can exploit them—and if they can’t exploit them today, then they want to make sure they can exploit them tomorrow!
How can anyone look at the murders of Raúl and Suzie and think this system has any legitimacy at all!
These cops had a choice and they chose to kill Raúl and Suzie.
Look, people go off sometimes, they get sick and go off, especially living under all the pressures this society puts people under. That’s what happened to Raúl. We want a new world, a world where people are free from all oppression and their lives matter.
How would we handle something like this in a society where power was in the hands of the proletariat? We’ve seen how this system handled it—they blew Raúl and Suzie away. In a revolutionary society, we would handle a situation like this completely different. Instead of holding a gun on people who wanted to help, we would mobilize the neighborhood to figure out how to handle the situation. Our people’s police would sooner put themselves in danger than kill an innocent person, especially a little child. This is the way the proletariat has handled this kind of thing in the past when it’s been in power and it’s how we will handle that in a future revolutionary society right here in the belly of the beast.
The police terrorize people with murders like this. This time it backfired. In fact, things are cracking open. People are taking to the streets in outrage, and they’re dealing with big questions. People are talking about unity between Blacks and Latinos. People are talking about changing the world, and they’re looking for leadership.
We, the Revolutionary Communist 4, know this. We’re in Los Angeles to speak to people about what needs to be done and how to do it. We’re going to be dealing with people’s hardest questions about why the world is the way it is and what needs to be done to totally transform it. It’s going to take millions of people rising up in revolution and a communist understanding of the world to get beyond the misery and degradation this system brings down on people and create an entirely different future.
We’re going to bring to people the leadership we have to realize this future—Bob Avakian, the leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party. And we’re going to challenge people to break with the things that stand in the way of them becoming emancipators of humanity.
“Not a one of them, not a one of them went into that situation with the intent to hurt anyone.”
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
“Officers used as much restraint as humanly possible.”
LAPD Assistant Chief McDonald.
“All this tragedy falls on Mr. Peña.”
LAPD Chief Bratton.
From the time the police arrived, they were on a mission to kill. Throughout the afternoon, relatives and friends repeatedly tried to get through police lines to talk to Raúl, but the police refused to consider any outcome besides a massacre of anyone found inside the car dealership where Raúl Peña was.
“All that excessive force was totally unnecessary. They could have let the family negotiate. My uncle was trying to talk to them, but they wouldn’t let him through. He personally called his aunt, talking about he needs a family member, he needs somebody to talk to, and he just hung up the phone. She immediately drove down here. The police didn’t let her through from 103rd St. They could have at least let the someone else talk to him, talk him out of it.”
“They wouldn’t let us through to talk to him. Mostly all my uncles tried. But they just ignored them. They told them to back off.”
Suzie’s brother and Raúl’s stepson Carlos
“I came down there. The police ran me off. I told them, ”My baby is in there, let me get her out.’ They were already pointing their guns inside when I got there. They ran me off, telling me, “Get out of here!’ The neighbor says that a cop was behind me with a pistol pointed at me.”
“He called me before all the shooting, and they didn’t let me go in to him. I told the police, ”It’s a moment of depression. I told them in Spanish and I told them in English, “He’s depressed. He needs help. Please, he needs help.’ They didn’t understand. They didn’t listen. They came for no other reason than to shoot and shoot.”
Lorraine Lopez, Raul’s partner
“[Peña] was armed with one weapon and was randomly shooting into the street.”
L.A. Times repeating the police account, July 11, 2005.
“They said he was shooting at civilians. How could he have shot at civilians when they kept everyone inside their houses, and this whole area from 108th to 103rd was blocked off? Where were the civilians? They weren’t walking around here. He was inside an office. Like he can see through walls.”
“Suzie, who the coroner previously reported was killed by a single shot to the head, was also wounded ”below her left knee and to her outer left calf. . . .’ Suzie was found dressed in a yellow shirt, lavender skirt, lavender sandals and a diaper."
L.A. Times, July 16, 2005
“I know Raúl and Suzie personally. My son played with Suzie. He loved his daughter more than anything. We want to make it known that he was a good person.”
Rudy, a neighbor in his 20s
“He only needed more help. He needed a psychologist. He needed somebody to negotiate with him. But the police didn’t do that. They just rushed in. They didn’t care about the ”poor little baby.’ They’re just lying. They’re always changing their story. They’re blaming him."
Juan Carpio, cousin of Raúl Peña
COME TO THE RC4 TOUR
Saturday, July 23, at Cal State, Dominguez Hills
(1000 E. Victoria St. in Carson, CA) at 2 p.m.
BE THERE and bring everyone you know who hates the way we have to live.
by Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
These reactionary religious fundamentalists in the U.S., whom we have very correctly identified as Christian Fascists, are actually calling for things to be done in society, and by the government, that many people still believe would not or could not really be done in a country like the U.S. “They could never really be serious about doing that,” many people will say, speaking of things like literally applying what the Bible says about homosexuals—that homosexuals must be put to death. Well, people had better realize how serious these Christian Fascists are, what they actually intend to do, and how serious the situation is. Among these Christian Fascists, including ones who are very influential and powerful, and powerfully connected, there is very definitely an intention of imposing “biblically based morality,” including things like the execution of homosexuals, as “the law of the land.”
Or take another dimension of this: the institution of marriage. In the dispute around gay marriage, some of the people defending the right to gay marriage have tried to answer the argument that gay marriage will undermine the institution of marriage by saying: “If you are really worried about the future of marriage, why don’t you do something about divorce?” Well, as the saying goes, “be careful what you wish for!” I doubt very seriously if those who make this argument by way of defending the right to gay marriage—or at least the great majority of them—actually want to see a situation where divorce is outlawed. But, once again, people better realize how serious this is—and that there are powerful forces who are very serious indeed about outlawing divorce. The fact is that, in Louisiana and some other states, there is already a law providing for “covenant marriages.” There are two kinds of marriages in those states now: in addition to “regular” marriage, there is “covenant marriage,” which, as its religious overtones imply, is based on provisions taken from the Bible. These “covenant marriages” eliminate “no fault divorce,” they make it much more difficult for those who have entered into these marriages to get a divorce. At this point these “covenant marriages” are entered into voluntarily, and there is still the alternative of “regular” marriages— at this point! But these (for now voluntary) “covenant marriages” are part of a very definite and determined drive by Christian Fascist forces to get rid of divorce altogether—to outlaw it outright—and, in a male supremacist society like this, everybody knows, or should know, what that would mean. It would mean that millions and millions of women will be trapped in oppressive—and even physically and sexually abusive—marriages.
Claudia Koonz pointed out in her book The Nazi Conscience that, among the Nazis in Germany, there was a kind of “division of labor”: at times at least, Hitler would sound a more reasonable, and even at times conciliatory, tone—while his followers would be agitating and taking action around the most openly vicious and brutal measures, directed against Jewish people, communists, homosexuals, and others whom the Nazis regarded as an abomination and a blot upon German society. And all this laid the basis for the mass round-ups and executions, and the literal genocide, that followed under the rule of the Nazis. Similarly, the 21st-century American equivalent of Nazis, the Christian Fascists and others generally in the same camp, have their hitmen (and women), including those like David Horowitz, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter, who are openly foaming at the mouth with attacks on those they see as standing in the way of their program. And, besides attacking people who are genuinely opposed not only to this fascism but to the capitalist-imperialist system as a whole, one of the main lines of their assault is (to use a very relevant analogy) viciously going after the Weimar Republic (the bourgeois-democratic republic in Germany after World War 1, which was replaced and forcibly abolished when Hitler and the Nazis came to power in the 1930s). We have to understand the meaning and significance of this, and the purpose behind it.
Going after the equivalent of the Weimar Republic in the U.S. today, the Democratic Party and the “Liberals,” and so on—attacking them as nothing less than traitors—is part of an overall program aimed at silencing and outright suppressing, including through the force of the state, any group or section of society, even within the ruling class, that would pose an obstacle to the implementation of the program that the Christian Fascists, and forces in the same general camp with them, are very seriously seeking to impose on the U.S. (and indeed throughout the world). There is, and for some time there has been, a very definite, conscious and concerted effort by the forces in that general fascist camp to systematically attack not just communists, or anarchists and other radicals, but liberals, mainstream ruling class liberal politicians—attacking them as having been nothing less than traitors, from the time of the cold war to the “war on terror.”
David Horowitz’s latest book is called Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left.In looking it over it is clear that it is yet another diatribe that insists that the “liberals” and the left in the U.S. are at least objectively in the same camp with the Islamic fundamentalists and on the wrong side of the “war on terror.” This should be taken very seriously, including because Horowitz has ties with prominent and powerful Republican Party politicians and functionaries, right up to the White House. If you listen to Rush Limbaugh, at this point his main line of attack is not against radicals and communists, such as our party—his attacks are not so much directed against actual leftists all that much—but are much more directed against the mainstream ruling class liberals, because again one of the ways that fascism triumphs is by tearing down “the Weimar Republic”—going after bourgeois-democratic forces in the ruling class—attacking their decadence, their weakness, their inability to defend the national entity, etc. And this is a phenomenon that’s been developing over some time in the U.S., and is now very acute. Ann Coulter recently wrote a book with the explicit title: Treason. These people are out there creating public opinion around this, while Bush still maintains, much of the time, a posture of “inclusiveness” and willingness to work with other ruling class forces, at least on certain terms. Bush didn’t say, during his debates with Kerry, for example: “You are a traitor, and ought to be put to death.” But there are many people, aligned with and supporting Bush now, who are very definitely, and repeatedly, saying these kinds of things. When that is not repudiated by Bush and others in power, what does it mean? What are the implications of this?
The answer is not to seek to defend and maintain the “Weimar Republic” (bourgeois democracy—the “democratic form” of capitalist dictatorship 1) as such. That does not offer a real solution, and certainly not one in the interests of the masses of people and the great majority of humanity. But we should recognize and not be blind to what it means when these fascists put the “Weimar Republic”—by analogy, the liberals in the ruling class—in the camp of enemy, and go so far as to label them traitors, and go after them in that way. What is that preparing the ground for, what are the implications of that? The point, and our objective, once again, is not to defend the Weimar Republic—tailing and upholding the “liberal” section of the imperialist ruling class—but to fully recognize, and oppose in a radically different way and toward radically different ends, the seriousness of these attacks and what this all represents. In previous talks and writings I have spoken to this phenomenon of the unraveling of what for some time has been the “cohering center” of the society and the rule of the bourgeoisie in the U.S.—and how we are already seeing manifestations of that. 2 I have emphasized that all of this will not, by any means, be positive in the short run, and left to itself—and it is not the role of communists, it is not meeting our responsibilities, to simply stand by and celebrate all the unraveling of the existing cohering center and form of capitalist rule and think it is going to mean that something positive is bound to emerge from this and in fact is just going to “fall into our lap.” We have to take up the tremendous challenge of repolarization — repolarization for revolution.
The “Weimar Republic” does need to be replaced, and superseded. The bourgeois republic—the rule of capitalism and imperialism, in its bourgeois-democratic form—is in fact a repressive system of rule, rooted in a whole network and process of exploitation and oppression, which brings untold, and unnecessary, suffering to millions, and literally billions, of people, throughout the world, including within the republic itself. It needs to be replaced and superseded, however, not by an even more grotesque and more openly murderous form of the same system, but by a radically new society, and a radically different kind of state, that will open the way and lead finally to the abolition of all forms of oppressive and repressive rule and all relations of domination and exploitation, throughout the world.
1. In a number of places, including in the book Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? and a recent talk, “Dictatorship and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism,” Bob Avakian explains and examines how societies like the U.S., even where they may not be ruled through open, undisguised repression and terror, and even with all their talk of “democracy for all,” are in fact bourgeois dictatorships—rule over society by the capitalist class, or bourgeoisie, based fundamentally on a monopoly of armed force (and in particular “legitimate” armed force) by that capitalist class and its “right” and ability to use that armed power, including the police and armed forces as well as the courts and bureaucracies, to put down, as brutally as it sees fit, any opposition or resistance that poses a serious challenge to its rule.
2. See the article “The Pyramid of Power and the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down” (Revolutionary Worker #1269, February 27, 2005). Also see previous articles in this current series by Bob Avakian, including “The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era” (RW #1274) and “The Center—Can It Hold? The Pyramid as Two Ladders” (Revolution #4), all available online at revcom.us)
Excerpt from a new book by Bob Avakian: “Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy”
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
In reading what I have said recently about epistemology (theory of knowledge) some people, including some who consider themselves communists, have commented, and not entirely in a positive way in all cases: “It seems you are intoxicated with the truth.” Alright, I’m intoxicated with truth—yes, I’m not ashamed to say that. The big bang—discovering more about that—isn’t that worthwhile and exciting?
There is a whole part in the epistemology discussion I had with some comrades1 about how truth becomes part of the struggle for communism. What is the relation between objective and partisan—how should we correctly understand that Marxism is both partisan and objective? Anyone who thinks it’s not important to actually know the truth will do a lot of harm. And anyone who thinks it’s just a matter of seeking the truth misses how this should be unfolded. Truths do not exist in a vacuum. Truths that are discovered enter into a whole process by which we are better able to know and change the world. But not in a narrow and utilitarian way. With a utilitarian outlook there is a whole dimension being missed. This has to do with how people see the concept of “solid core with a lot of elasticity.”2 Those who have a narrow and utilitarian approach don’t understand why we need this process of struggling for the truth as part of the socialist transition to communism.
Truth is good for the proletariat. I don’t mean that in a narrow way. Truth is good for the political struggle, yes—the more that is understood about reality, the more favorable it will be strategically for the proletariat and its revolutionary objectives. But there is a whole thing being missed if truth is approached in a narrow and utilitarian way. If somebody discovers something about the big bang, that will be interesting and exciting. Truths are important just for what they are, because that’s the kind of world we want to get to. For what they are. Human beings do need to be amazed. You don’t need religion to realize or appreciate that. In the motion of the material world and the interaction of human beings with the rest of reality, mysteries get resolved and new mysteries emerge. Why wouldn’t someone with broadness of mind be interested in questions of cosmology in their own right? (Cosmology refers to the science and philosophy of the origins and development of the universe.) On the other hand, in another dimension, so long as society is divided into classes, anything that is learned will become part of the class struggle in many different ways, including in the dimension of the proletariat knowing the world more profoundly to change it more profoundly....
The truth is important to the proletariat in two senses—or should be. One, it is important in the same way that beauty is important, or should be important. Yes, as opposed to the truth, different people do have different social viewpoints on what is beautiful. The truth doesn’t have a social content in that sense. It just objectively exists. But knowing the truth (or approximating the truth) is important in the same way beauty is important (even while people’s differing class viewpoints will lead them to have different conceptions, or notions, about what beauty is and what is and is not beautiful). And there is this process, as I was speaking to earlier—how truths enter into the class struggle in a very non-reductionist way.
Why do I say the truth is good for the proletariat? Because the more we know about the world, the better we are going to be able to transform it toward the objective of communism. We cannot torture the truth to fit into our narrow conceptions of what communism is and how to get there. But if we view it correctly, the more truth there is in the world, the better it is for the cause of communism. Even if the truth includes truths about bad things that communists do. That is the point about truths that make us cringe. Even the aspect of the truth that is the ugly side of what our project has brought forth, the errors that have been made and the ways in which we have sometimes made a mess of things (and actual horrors that have been created by people who have acted in the name of communism), even those truths, actual truths, not lies—those truths, strategically, if they are approached with the correct methodology, can be part of strengthening the struggle for communism. These negative aspects are definitely not the main thing about our project, they are not what has characterized the rule of the proletariat and socialist society in historical experience so far, they are not the main thing with regard to what real, as opposed to phony, communists have done; and we do have to answer the claim that this is the case and the slanders that are put forward to heap abuse on our whole project—those slanders too are a fundamental distortion of the truth. But to arrive at and fight for the correct synthesis in all this, which takes into account both the essence of things but also the contradictoriness and complexity of it all, you have to have the right outlook and methodology.
So I think that is worth thinking about and wrangling with. Is this right or wrong? The more I grapple with this, the more I firmly believe this. But let’s talk about this. Let’s really wrestle with this. This involves a big rupture. It is not what has been the convention for how communists conceive of and approach these things.
It is not just that we are not afraid of the truth. That is true. But the other side of this is that we have an approach of embracing and then synthesizing—not just taking experience and partial knowledge as it is but embracing it and synthesizing it in its fullest dimensions and to its richest depths.
1. See “Bob Avakian in a Discussion with Comrades on Epistemology: On Knowing and Changing the World,” in this volume.
2. Avakian discusses this concept in the talk Dictatorship and Democracy, and the Socialist Transition to Communism as follows:
"[Y]ou have to have a solid core that firmly grasps and is committed to the strategic objectives and aims and process of the struggle for communism. If you let go of that you are just giving everything back to the capitalists in one form or another, with all the horrors that means. At the same time, if you don’t allow for a lot of diversity and people running in all kinds of directions with things, then not only
are people going to be building up tremendous resentment against you, but you are also not going to have the rich kind of process out of which the greatest truth and ability to transform reality will emerge.“ (”A World We Would Want to Live In," Revolutionary Worker #1257 [October 31, 2004].)
This provocative collection of reflections and observations by Bob Avakian on art, culture, science and philosophy offers a rare treat. Excerpted from talks as well as more informal discussions and conversations, many of the texts in this collection allow the reader to experience firsthand the freewheeling Bob Avakian as he continues to develop his extensive body of work, with its radical new directions, with regard to the communist project.
The observations collected range from Avakian’s reenvisioning of the dictatorship of the proletariat and his epistemological breakthroughs in Marxism to reflections on truth and beauty, science and imagination, the problems of Lysenko-ism, and the relationship of Marxism to philosophy generally.
Insight Press believes this collection will provide the reader with important, fresh, and provocative insights and provoke further creative and critical thinking about the subjects discussed.
Bob Avakian: Observations on Art and Culture, Science and Philosophy
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by Sunsara Taylor
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
It’s been years since I read The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s portrayal of the fictional “Republic of Gilead.” The narrator, Ofglen—who is denied even her own name—describes a future land where women have been reduced to breeders; where minorities labor in chains to clean up the fields of toxic waste; and where “heretics” and rebels are gruesomely executed in the public square to set an example.
Lately, real life—a public book-burning in Colorado, a U.S. senator calling for the execution of abortion providers, the demonization of gay people, the popularization of restrictive and repressive “covenant marriages”—has provoked me to recall scenes from this book. Each day, in increments, events are slipping ever further into the unconscionable. So when I saw a woman reading The Handmaid’s Tale on the train a few days ago I had to talk with her.
At first she stuck to comments on the plotline and writing style, but soon she too crossed over into the chillingly similar realities of today. The tale of the handmaid is from the Bible, and Atwood portrays a society where such stories are enforced literally and women are “issued” by the state to men for the purposes of domestic work and childbearing. We discussed how today’s Christian fascists aren’t at all concerned for fetuses or even real children, but are dead-set on controlling women’s reproduction and sexuality and reducing us to breeders as well.
Like many I have spoken to, she wondered out loud why the Democrats keep rolling over and refusing to stand up for women’s right to abortion, against the war, or anything else that really matters. She underscored how bad this is given that there is an opening to be filled on the Supreme Court. She is clearly exasperated and at a loss when she says, “I hope that Bush appoints Gonzales and that he will have trouble from the right wingers.”
I was taken aback. I have heard all the complaints from the major theocrats that Gonzales was not tough enough on abortion and affirmative action. But Gonzales signed off on the opinions justifying the hell of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. And I can imagine, without much effort, Gonzales approving the same practices of holding people incommunicado, without either charges or lawyers and the same practices of psychological and physical torture used there, should women like this at some point come into the sights of the state.
This woman—who is afraid of a real-life Handmaid’s Tale—finds that very fear trapping her in exactly the dynamic that will lead us down the road to the Republic of Gilead, accepting and even promoting something who just weeks ago was unconscionable because today they seem (!) slightly less terrifying than the alternative presented. What does it tell us when the “slightly less terrifying” end of the political spectrum is an architect and apologist for a whole system of torture?!
The World DEFINITELY Can’t Wait!
"There is not going to be some magical ’pendulum swing.’ People who steal elections and believe they are on a ’mission from God’ will not go without a fight.
"There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into ’leaders’ who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people.
“But silence and paralysis are NOT acceptable. That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take responsibility to do it.”
from “The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!”
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
On July 1, Sandra Day O’Connor announced her resignation from the Supreme Court. And since then, she has been portrayed (in outrageous ways) as a great “moderate” protector of the people’s rights. Harry Reid, leader of the Senate Democrats, said, “It is vital that she be replaced by someone like her, someone who embodies the fundamental American values of freedom, equality and fairness.”
As hype showers down over Sandra Day O’Connor—everyone is being told to hope for (and support!) new appointments to the Supreme Court that would follow her “model.”
Let’s take a closer look at O’Connor’s ugly life’s work—so we get a sense of just what oppressive madness people are being told to accept and even demand.
Twenty-four years ago, in 1981, O’Connor was nominated for the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan with the backing of her Arizona Republican allies, then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist and rightwing Senator Barry Goldwater.
A close look at her work shows what a judge like her really does. She did not somehow “hand out justice to the people”—but worked as a high-level legal decision-maker, resolving sweeping disputes between different parts of the ruling class, trying to safeguard the legitimacy of the government, and doggedly upholding the basic framework of this capitalist system.
In specific decisions, her approach was repeatedly to weaken the separation of church and state and the legal right to abortion. She helped beat back demands for the abolition of the death penalty and supported the vicious trends toward increased punishment and prison time.
She justified many of these stands by using the legal banner of “federalism”—where states are allowed to work out their own ways of punishing and restricting the people. This term “federalism” is really a misleading and polite way of referring to the old, ugly cause of “states’ rights,” which has protected and unleashed all kinds of oppression and repression throughout U.S. history.
Sandra Day O’Connor has repeatedly upheld the government’s power to execute prisoners—even while she acknowledged in speeches that prisoners are often sent to death row in glaringly unjust ways.
In 1984 (Strickland v. Washington), O’Connor wrote the majority decision, making it harder for death row inmates to use their attorney’s mistakes to overturn convictions.
In 1987 (McCleskey v. Kemp), O’Connor was part of the court majority that upheld the death penalty. They specifically rejected the argument that the unequal patterns of execution show a profound injustice toward Black people.
In 2005 (Roper v. Simmons), the Supreme Court voted to forbid the execution of prisoners for crimes committed when they were juveniles (under 18). O’Connor opposed this decision, saying that forbidding such executions would violate a legitimate right of states to decide who to kill.
O’Connor wrote the main 2003 decision (Ewing v. California) that upheld California’s outrageous “three strikes and you’re out” law.
Under such laws, people have gotten an automatic life sentence after being convicted for a third offense. Gary Ewing had received 25-years-to-life for stealing three golf clubs. At the time over 300 other people had also been sentenced to 25-to-life for similar petty theft, like shoplifting.
“To be sure, Ewing’s sentence is a long one,” O’Connor wrote. “But it reflects a rational legislative judgment, entitled to deference.”
In other words: If California’s government approved these incredible injustices, then it’s OK with her!
In 1989 (Texas v. Johnson) and 1990 (United States v. Eichman), the Supreme Court ruled that flag-burning was a “protected form of political speech.”
O’Connor opposed both decisions, arguing each time that states should have the power to punish people who burn the U.S. flag.
She specifically argued the U.S. flag needed special protections because “In times of national crisis, it inspires and motivates the average citizen to make personal sacrifices in order to achieve societal goals of overriding importance.” In other words, she thought the system needed to suppress unpatriotic acts so that people would be more willing to die in the government’s wars.
When she entered the Supreme Court, O’Connor described herself as an opponent of abortion. And on the bench, O’Connor repeatedly supported almost every abortion restriction that came before the Supreme Court—while also declining to grant states the power to completely ban abortions (by overthrowing Roe v. Wade).
In the 1989 Webster decision, she supported a Missouri law forbidding the use of public facilities to perform abortions, unless the mother’s life was in danger. In the 1992 Casey decision, O’Connor helped uphold more major restrictions—including so-called “informed consent” requirements, parental notification rules for teenagers, 24-hour waiting periods, and abortion reporting rules. The only restriction that O’Connor did not support was spousal notification. Later (in Stenberg vs. Carhart, 2000) O’Connor was part of a decision that knocked down state laws that banned late term abortions.
There has been a great deal said about the fact that O’Connor did not support completely overturning Roe v. Wade —but far less is mentioned about how, over her career, O’Connor helped restrict abortion in many ways and help make it much more difficult, even impossible, for millions of women to end unwanted pregnancies—especially poor, young and rural women.
O’Connor supported the promotion of religiosity in public life.
In 1983 (Lynch v. Donnelly) O’Connor upheld local governments promoting public Christian observances—like nativity scenes honoring the birth of Jesus—on public property with government funds. This decision favorably cited as an argument that “[w]e are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being.”
In 1985 (Wallace v. Jaffree) O’Connor was part of Supreme Court majority that upheld “moments of silence” in public schools—giving school authorities a way to officially promote prayer.
In 1997 (Agostini v. Felton) O’Connor wrote the decision allowing local school authorities to assign public school teachers to enter parochial schools to provide “remedial education”—which is a way of using public funds to support church indoctrination.
In these ways, O’Connor helped undermine the separation of church and state and actively promoted religion in public life.
And it is a sign of these times that she is now criticized by powerful forces within her own party for not going far enough in supporting the open government endorsement of a specific religion: fundamentalist Christianity.
In 2003, O’Connor wrote the Court opinion (Grutter v. Bollinger) which argued that public universities should be allowed (in some “narrowly tailored” ways) to “take race into account” during admissions. This was one of the cases where she voted against the most right-wing of Supreme Court justices, and is put forward as a sign of her supposed “moderation.”
But it is important to note that her argument in this case reveals how her decisions were rooted in a specific class outlook—that approaches such issues from the perspective of the rulers of this society, not from the oppressed.
O’Connor wrote: “[U]niversities, and, in particular, law schools, represent the training ground for a large number of our Nation’s leaders. In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.”
She believes a limited degree of “affirmative action” should be allowed (especially in elite institutions) because the stability and legitimacy of this system required that individuals be trained from among all nationalities to serve in high places.
At the same time, O’Connor was part of the majority that struck down the affirmative action program of the University of Michigan undergraduate program (in Gratz v. Bollinger)—because its promotion of African American, Latino and Native American recruitment was more robust and not as “narrowly tailored.”
O’Connor was an active player in the Supreme Court’s intervention in the 2000 election—helping stop the Florida vote recount and handing the presidency to George W. Bush.
This coup-by-court was part of an ominous sea change in the direction of the U.S. government at the highest levels. In this decision, the Supreme Court majority disregarded all the signs of widespread voting irregularity— including major efforts to disenfranchise Black voters in the state.
And note well: O’Connor revealed herself suddenly indifferent to “states rights” in this case—since it got in the way of larger issues of power!
For years, the U.S. government has run wild throughout the world—seizing and kidnapping people for imprisonment and torture, invading countries based on lies, plus crudely violating international treaties it had signed regarding the treatment of prisoners and more. Virtually all of this has gone down with the complete silence or approval of the Supreme Court, including Sandra Day O’Connor.
The same day in June 2004, the Court announced three decisions related to this “war on terrorism.”
O’Connor wrote the decision (Hamdi v. Rumsfeld) that upheld the power of the U.S. president, in wartime, to declare anyone an “enemy combatant.”
At the same time, two of these decisions (Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Rasul v. Bush) held that the U.S. captives (even at Guantánamo) should be given some access to hearings to challenge their continuing imprisonment.
In the third decision, the Supreme Court used the most petty technicality as an excuse to avoid ruling on Rumsfeld v. Padilla. Jose Padilla had been arrested in Chicago, labeled an “enemy combatant,” and has now been held in prison for three years without charges. By refusing to hear this case, the Court (including O’Connor) turned away—leaving Padilla in solitary confinement, and leaving the White House free to seize people all over the world (including U.S. citizens on U.S. soil) and lock them away without trial as “enemy combatants.”
At a very basic level, these decisions have rubberstamped the imperialist outrages the U.S. government is carrying out around the world, while calling for fine-tuning the legal procedures and frameworks for carrying it out.
The Short Version: Sandra Day O’Connor has been a lifelong enforcer of a criminal system, a defender of great injustices, and an activist in the whole rightward shift of official U.S. politics and law.
She is no “model of what we want”—but a leading representative of everything we need to end.
Sandra Day O’Connor is no damn good—and people need to know it.
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The following article by Rosemary Candelario, pro-choice leader and member of the Refuse & Resist! Coordinating Committee, appears on The World Can’t Wait web site (http://worldcantwait.org/).
When I checked my email on Friday, July 1, there were over 50 messages in my inbo about Sandra Day O’Connor’s surprise resignation from the Supreme Court.
“O’Connor Resigns—Women’s Lives Are at Stake!”
“Urgent Alert! Action Needed Now!”
“Abortion Rights Emergency!”
“The Battle for the Supreme Court Has Begun”
“Protect Our Rights!”
Reading them, I found myself moving from irritated to fuming. It’s not that I disagree with the basic premise. There is no question that we are at a very dire moment. Whoever fills the vacancy left by O’Connor’s retirement will have an influence on the Supreme Court for decades to come. Looking at Bush’s nominees to the lower courts, we can tell the type of jurist he will likely nominate for the Supreme Court. And the prospects are not good. The consequences will be far-reaching, and will have a direct impact on people’s daily lives.
As Adam Cohen wrote in New York Times in October 2004:
“Abortion might be a crime in most states. Gay people could be thrown in prison for having sex in their homes. States might be free to become mini-theocracies, endorsing Christianity and using tax money to help spread the gospel. The Constitution might no longer protect inmates from being brutalized by prison guards. Family and medical leave and environmental protections could disappear.”
So why am I fuming when I should be joining the fight? Because the Left is gearing up to fight the same battle they’ve fought, and lost, since Bush stole the election in 2000. From the Florida recount debate, to the launch of the Iraq War, to the 2004 election, to the filibuster battle, the Left has used the same losing strategy over and over again. In essence, the strategy is to get lots and lots of people—including those who have never participated before—to support the Democrats, and to hope/beg/lobby that they will “do the right thing,” which usually involves maintaining a system that was long-ago broken. The solution to the vote fraud in Florida? Get more people to vote. How to stop the war from starting? Call your Senator! Want to get rid of Bush? Hold your nose and vote for Kerry! Desperate to prevent Bush’s outrageous judicial nominees from getting confirmed? Celebrate as a victory a “compromise” that ensures the filibuster won’t be used.
Even progressives have embraced this strategy, citing the importance of “speaking truth to power.”
Well, the truth is that power doesn’t give a shit. Power is only interested in staying in power. As Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” So far, no one is demanding anything. Nothing of substance, anyway. Nothing that will really rock the foundations and change the dangerous course that Bush, et al., are leading us on to fascism and theocracy.
So I’m fuming because all this desperate activity—the emails, the national conference calls, the emergency meetings—strike me as nothing but “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Nothing, because the result will be the same as with the other major battles against the Bush juggernaut: Lots of time and energy and money will be expended, and Bush will still get his way.
Some said of the 2004 election that the bright side was that unprecedented numbers of people, many active for the first time, were mobilized to work to elect Kerry. The thought is that these folks will now be involved in new battles. But is it a good thing for people to organize to go down a dead end? Isn’t that actually disorganizing?
Many people comfort themselves with the thought that “the pendulum will swing back.” But the fact is, there is no pendulum. The laws of physics do not dictate that the world will swing back and forth between the radical left and the radical right, eventually settling in the moderate center. When the times have “swung” one way or the other, it is because the people made the world change. Civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, all were achieved with decades of hard work and personal sacrifice. Many people went to jail to make change. Some people died. In every case, it was only when the demands of the people became so great that those in power had no choice but to pass legislation or issue court decisions that echoed the will of the people.
The situation we find ourselves in today is also the result of people on the extreme right working for decades behind the scenes to make the change that THEY want to see in the world. The architects of the Bush agenda have been working since the Nixon administration—my entire lifetime—to get to where they are today. They are not going to walk away from power just because a bunch of new people registered and voted for Kerry. They are not going to back down from their agenda and nominate a moderate jurist for the Supreme Court just because people ask them to. And the Democrats are too invested in protecting their own limited power to step out in a way that might actually make a difference.
So what to do? We have to do something. Every day we grow nearer and nearer to a point of no return. I go back to Douglass’s assertion that “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” What demand will make a difference today? What demand will stop this juggernaut and take us away from the brink, from the point of no return?
The only proposal that I’ve heard that has the possibility of actually turning things around is The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime! (www.worldcantwait.org) The name says it all. We can’t continue to fight this stuff piecemeal with ineffective strategies. We can’t wait for an imaginary pendulum to swing back. We need to be bold and take this on head-first. Some people say we need to develop a long-term strategy first. But let’s be real: unless we act today, there will be no need for a long-term strategy. Unless we stop the Bush regime NOW, the Supreme Court will be irrelevant in the not-too-distant future.
Go to the website and read the call. Think about it. Talk to your friends and family about it. Join me in signing your name to call, and become one more in the millions needed to drive out the Bush Regime. Truly, the world cannot wait.
From A World to Win News Service
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
June 20, 2005. A World to Win News Service. Northern Afghanistan was the scene of another demonstration May 29, one of many that have marked a political shift in this country over the last months. The people of Chaheab district in Takhar province, northeast Afghanistan, protested against the rape of a girl in a village of that district by one of the local commanders called Mahmoud Chaheabi. They were outraged that the local authorities deliberately ignored the case and had been trying to dismiss it. According to demonstrators, 10,000 people from all over the district participated. The protest spilled over to a second day, leading to clashes with the authorities. The police commander of Takhar province said that angry demonstrators attacked the district headquarters, breaking windows and destroying cars. One demonstrator said that at least one person was killed and two injured.
Afghanistan has seen very few mass protests against rape before, especially when the perpetrator is a commander, one of the warlords who rule much of the country. The central regime headed by the U.S.’s Afghanistan flunky Hamid Karzai could not survive without the support of such men, now often recycled as governors or other local officials. Such protests are often met with further attacks on the victim. In Afghanistan revealing a rape can lead to the isolation of the woman due to the backward dominant social relations that have been reinforced by tyrannical Islamic forces over the last 25 years, including by Karzai’s Islamic government. Since the victim generally has little support from the system, tradition and often even her family, usually she has little choice but to remain silent and live alone with this bitter experience for the rest of her life. Sometimes rape leads to suicide, especially when the rapist is a commander or some other powerful person, which is very common. Certainly this demonstration was very courageous and a break with the past. It indicates that many people have had enough of the cruel and unjust life imposed on them by the Mujahedin commanders backed by U.S. imperialism and other western powers.
The U.S. claimed that the invasion and occupation it led would “liberate” the women of Afghanistan. The demonstration in Chaheab reveals what women are still going through. A report issued by Amnesty International (AI) on May 30 documents just how common it is for women to be raped, sold or traded by family members or kidnapped. They are often subjected to forced marriage, even while still children. AI condemns the government for what the report’s headline calls “a systematic failure to protect” women from rape, kidnapping and other kinds of violence and abuse despite the fact that Afghanistan’s new constitution proclaims the equality of men and women. The report goes even further, saying that the abuse of women “is tolerated at the highest levels of government and the judiciary” and that instead of punishing men who abuse women, the country’s legal authorities often imprison girls and women who protest or run away. If a woman says she has been raped, the Islamic state often jails her for “adultery.” Very often the men responsible for these acts, the report continues, are government officials or members of the state’s own security forces.
What the report points to but does not dare openly conclude is this: violence against women is closely bound up not only with the patriarchal, clan and feudal social relations now being enforced by American guns, but also with the whole state power structure on which U.S. domination of Afghanistan rests. The rape of women by commanders is only one aspect of the oppression, but it is one that has become dramatically more common since the U.S.-led occupation. This is the situation these village protesters confronted head-on.
This demonstration was one in a series of radical demonstrations taking place in Jalalabad, Wardak, Khost, Kabul and many other parts of the country in protests against the US-led occupiers and their puppet regime.
Revolutionary Martyr from Turkey
by Li Onesto
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Let me tell you about Rosa.
When I heard the terrible news about the government massacre of 17 leaders of the Maoist Communist Party of Turkey and North Kurdistan (MKP), I immediately thought about the many comrades from Turkey I met in the Fall of 2002, when I spoke in Europe about the People’s War in Nepal. Many of them had been forced to seek political asylum, including some who had just come from being on prison hunger strikes. The TKP(ML), the party that the MKP is a continuator of, helped organize the tour and in many cities, the majority of the audience were revolutionaries from Turkey.
I read news reports about how on June 16, over 1,000 soldiers from the Turkish army had encircled and then moved in to massacre the group of MKP comrades who were on their way to their party’s second congress. I watched the videos on the Internet of the mass funeral in Istanbul—thousands marching through the streets, coffins carried amidst a sea of red flags. Family, friends and comrades filing past the caskets, photos of the martyrs on banners, in frames, on posters. Fists in the air amidst garlands of flowers. The unbearable grief and intense anger of the crowd leapt off the screen and hit me in the gut and tears welled up as I thought about what a tremendous loss this was for the revolutionary struggle in Turkey and the whole international communist movement.
I scrolled through scenes of the funeral, then came to the photos of the martyrs. I froze for several seconds, then felt heartsick as I saw a photo of Berna Unsal—who I had known as “Rosa.” She had been the main organizer of my European speaking tour, and for three weeks we had worked closely and gotten to know each other. I immediately recognized not just her face, but her utterly defiant and brave spirit which inhabited her portrait.
The time I spent working and talking with Berna and other revolutionaries from Turkey gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of the heroic struggle being waged against the fascist regime in Turkey and a deeper sense of proletarian internationalism.
I first met Rosa in Germany, where she had been working with the World People’s Resistance Movement to organize my speaking tour. She immediately struck me as a very serious and dedicated revolutionary who seemed to have endless energy. She liked to joke around a lot and was never too tired for a political discussion, a strong cup of coffee and lots of cigarettes. Very quickly, I found out that we also shared a deep passion for chocolate that would prove to be a crucial element in our demanding schedule. But more than anything, there was a determination and seriousness that came through, even as Rosa could also be easygoing and playful. She was a committed communist, a revolutionary journalist, an intellectual who was completely fluent in English. She could talk for hours about the big questions facing the international communist movement. And she had been deeply involved in the sharp struggle over political and ideological line within the revolutionary movement in Turkey.
We were halfway through the tour when I found out Rosa was one of the heroes of the 2000-2001 hunger strikes in Turkey’s prisons. It was after a program in Antwerp, Belgium and we were both completely stuffed from a huge late night meal cooked by the Nepali comrades who had organized the program. We were both exhausted but neither of us seemed to want to go to sleep. Suddenly, Rosa started telling me about how she had almost died in prison.
When I first met Rosa, it was clear she had health problems. She was full of energy and was the one to push the rest of us when we would go for days with little sleep. But I also noticed that she would get really bad headaches and tire easily. I had already met a number of revolutionaries from Turkey who had come close to death in the prison hunger strikes. I remember one young couple—they had both been in a coma and temporarily lost their memory from extreme malnutrition. At first they had not even remembered they were married to each other. Then slowly they had gotten their memories back and now they had a new baby. But they were still suffering serious and long-term damage to their health. Now I suddenly realized why Rosa had, at times, suddenly gotten sick and exhausted.
Rosa told me how she had been a student at the university when she was arrested. The fascist government, waging a vicious war against Maoist guerrillas in the countryside, carried out massive repression in the cities. Their “anti-terrorism” law allowed the state to imprison people for many years for simply having a revolutionary leaflet or being accused of belonging to one of the many banned organizations.
On October 20, 2000, several hundred political prisoners in different prisons began a hunger strike to protest the inhuman conditions and attempts by the government to isolate them in individual cells. Family members and other supporters on the outside, in different cities, also joined the hunger strike. And then, on November 19, 2000, this hunger strike was converted into a Death Fast.
Rosa, who was 31 years old at the time, was in Canakkale, a women’s prison, and she was one of the people who went from being on a hunger strike to a Death Fast. Rosa explained how they knew that without food and water they would not survive very long. So they purposely and very scientifically extended the death fast by taking water and certain vitamins. In this way, they were able to stay alive for months. But after more than 200 days, people started going into comas and dying. This sparked international outrage and protest and the attention of groups like Amnesty International.
Rosa told me that right before she lost consciousness and went into a coma, the authorities had allowed her mother to see her. The government was desperately trying to find a way out of the situation without giving in to the prisoners’ demands. They didn’t care that people were dying. But they didn’t want an international incident—just as the Turkish government was lobbying to become part of the European Union. So they tried to get family members to give permission to force-feed those on the Death Fast.
Rosa told her mother, “If you give the authorities permission to force-feed me when I am in a coma, I will never speak to you again.” And her mother promised to defy the enemy. Rosa did go into a coma and came to the edge of death. After she went into a coma, the authorities force-fed Rosa and revived her. The Turkish government was forced to release Rosa and the other hunger strikers who had almost died; and they were allowed to go into exile. Rosa was given political asylum in Germany.
Rosa told me about the night political prisoners were viciously attacked in 20 prisons. Special teams used bulldozers to tear holes in the prison walls so they could rush in and fire without warning. Rosa described the chaotic scene as police and army forces began attacking them. There was smoke and gunfire, people running all around as they were bombarded with smoke bombs, sound bombs, nerve gas and pepper gas. The women shouted slogans and insults as they heroically fought back and refused to surrender. Rosa got even more passionate and angry when she told me how the police poured gasoline on some of the prisoners and set them on fire. Later they lied to the press and claimed the women had done this to themselves. “This was a lie, a big lie,” Rosa said to me, several times.
I remember hearing about one young revolutionary from Turkey who was missing half of both of his feet. He had been part of a guerrilla group that had got stranded in the winter—some of his comrades had died and he had suffered extreme frostbite. He, like Rosa and many other revolutionaries from Turkey I met, suffered permanent and terrible health problems. But these serious injuries didn’t seem to dampen their revolutionary determination and sense of humor. One day Rosa and some other comrades from Turkey were laughing and kidding around in Turkish and I interrupted them, asking to be let in on the joke. Rosa told me how they all had serious injuries, ailments, or sickness, from fighting or being in prison. She said, “We joke about how this one ”has no feet;’ this one “has no hand;’ this one ”cannot see,’ etc. and so because of this, when we have to carry out a task, we really have to all work together!"
I learned a lot from Rosa and will always be inspired by her life and heroic death. When I think of her, I remember what it was like, driving through the Alps during the tour, inhaling the breathtaking scenery, winding through the switchback roads, poking our heads out the window, shouting and pointing as we craned our necks to look so high up — to where the snow-covered peaks jutted up and defied the clouds and strongest winds.
by Gregory “Joey” Johnson
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
I am Gregory “Joey” Johnson. I was the defendant in the 1989 Supreme Court flag-burning case, Texas v. Johnson. I am still unrepentant about the burning of the American flag at the 1984 Republican National Convention as Ronald Reagan was being nominated for a second term as president. And I still see the American flag as a symbol of empire, oppression, international plunder and murder.
Today, powerful forces in the U.S. ruling elite—Republicans and Democrats—are again pushing for a constitutional amendment that would make burning the American flag in protest a crime. The proposed amendment— “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States”—has passed the House of Representatives. In the Senate, the amendment is being sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R- Utah) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and is given a better chance of passing than ever before. If it passes Congress, it will require approval in the legislatures of three-quarters of the states.
Why is the amendment coming to the fore again right now? The U.S. government is engaged in a global war for empire with wild ambitions of restructuring international relations so that the world is more completely under U.S. domination. Even as they get into deeper trouble in Iraq, they discuss what countries should be next on their hit list. Bush justifies all this as a “war on terror” and points to September 11. But, increasingly, the justifications have turned out to be lies. People see the daily horrors in Iraq and ask, "What is it all for?’
The flag amendment is an attempt, by broad sections of the ruling class, to unite the nation behind a jingoistic and belligerent “my country right or wrong” patriotism. They need the flag as a symbol of national unity. “This amendment is necessary.[to] maintaining the traditions and symbols that have helped to bind us together in all our diversity for over 200 years,” Orrin Hatch said as he introduced the amendment in the Senate in April.
For those who would speak out and act against the system and its crimes, the amendment would create an atmosphere of intimidation backed up by police, courts, and jail. A wide range of political protest and even artistic expression would face prosecution and punishment.
The U.S government has a long and shameful history of political repression. But this amendment would change the fundamental law around political speech and dissent, giving the government new legal tools to take this repression to another level. Just how far is it from saying people can’t criticize or express contempt for the symbol of the government to saying people can’t criticize the government at all? Look around you, already journalists are being harassed and jailed; university professors investigated and purged, and even a U.S. senator who merely questioned torture was quickly denounced for “weakening the war effort.” These are all ominous developments that concern tens of millions of people, far beyond those who might ever burn a flag.
I’m not just a flag-burner. I am a proletarian internationalist and a revolutionary communist. I dare to dream of— and fight to bring into being—a world of freely cooperating and freely associating human beings, without borders, without exploitation and oppression—a society that people would want to live in. We should talk and debate about what is the way forward for humanity.
I’m calling on people who see the dangers in what the rulers are trying to enforce through this amendment to be part of a massive movement to DRIVE THE BUSH REGIME FROM POWER! I support the call for a day of massive resistance on November 2, the anniversary of Bush’s re-election. As the Call for Action on November 2 states, “We need more than fighting Bush’s outrages one at a time, constantly losing ground to the whole onslaught. We must, and can, aim to create a political situation where the Bush regime’s program is repudiated, where Bush himself is driven from office, and where the whole direction he has been taking society is reversed. We, in our millions, must and can take responsibility to change the course of history.”
Joey Johnson can be contacted via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
From A World to Win News Service
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
13 June 2005. A World To Win News Service. A terrible tragedy took place 6 June when a landmine destroyed a passenger bus carrying about a hundred people on a road in the Chitwan district of the southern Terai plains region. According to press accounts, 38 civilians were killed and many dozens injured. The next day, the chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) Comrade Prachanda issued a statement in which he accepted the party’s responsibility for the explosion and offered its self-criticism for what he called a “serious mistake.”
The incident created a huge uproar in Nepal and abroad and prompted many people to ask questions about the Maoist party’s policy toward ordinary people in wartime. The monarchy and its army didn’t lose a minute before accusing the Maoists of deliberately targeting civilians. Human rights and other international organizations and Nepali political parties raised concerns and criticized the bombing. Friends of the revolutionary movement were also disturbed and wanted to know more. Prachanda’s statement began by expressing the party’s “distress and hurt” over the loss of civilian lives and offering condolences to the family members of the dead. He made it very clear that killing civilians—deliberately or even in avoidable accidents—remains completely against party policy. In conclusion, he said that the party is determined that such incidents will not be repeated in the future.
The people’s war being carried out by the Maoist revolutionaries against the enemy of the people is entirely different than the reactionary wars against the people carried out by the imperialists and their stooges. Although the enemy has long accused the Maoist forces of “terrorism,” this is a complete reversal of reality. It is the enemy with its superior weaponry and large military forces that tries to defeat the revolution by widespread terror against the common people. A people’s war follows an opposite logic. The bedrock principle is that the war can be successfully waged only by mobilizing the masses of people and relying on them. A tragedy such as the Bandare Khola bus bombing can only cause serious harm to the revolution by sowing confusion and fear from among the masses.
While some accidents are inevitable in a war, the Maoists in Nepal have had a proud history of protecting ordinary people and placing the highest value on the lives of the masses, sometimes even at the price of the lives of revolutionary fighters. For instance, in the battle at Kapilbastu, when they realized that their shooting would kill innocent masses the fighters held their fire and gave their lives instead. In a recent action in the eastern Siraha district, when the Royal Army began to shoot ordinary people arbitrarily, the PLA opted to retreat to save civilian lives.
In stark contrast, the reactionaries often deliberately kill civilians in an attempt to terrorize them. Even when these deaths are not deliberate, they consider civilian casualties mere “collateral damage.” This is how the U.S. justifies its mass murder of many tens of thousands of civilians in the bombing and invasion of Iraq - and is still the U.S.’s official stand on its nuclear mass murder of the civilian population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The vast majority of the almost 12,000 people killed in the Nepal people’s war against the feudal monarchy that began in 1996 have been civilians murdered by the Royal Army, along with suspected revolutionaries also tortured and murdered. To cite crimes committed by the Royal Army during this current month only, soldiers arrested Dhaba Lama, the district chief of the people’s government, who was unarmed, and killed him in cool blood. Two other accused Maoists were killed in a similar fashion. The Royal Army also captured a revolutionary cultural troupe in the village of Raralihi in western Nepal while they were taking a rest at a house. The king’s soldiers killed the five men troupe members by cutting off their hands and legs. The three women members disappeared.
Following is the complete text of Comrade Prachanda’s statement:
1. We are solemnly distressed and hurt by the explosion of an electric landmine killing a huge number of general masses including supporters and well-wishers of the People’s War at Bandare Khola in Kalyanpur, Chitwan District, on the morning of 6 June 2005. First of all, we offer our whole-hearted condolences to the family members of the deceased.
2. It was a serious mistake on our part that explosives laid by a People’s Liberation Army unit targeting the Royal Army caused huge losses to ordinary people. We also strongly condemn the royal assassins’ evil act of using general masses as a human shield. Our party policy has been not to carry out any military action in any form that targets innocent ordinary people. We would like to make it clear that there has been no change in this policy.
3. We express our serious self-criticism to the broad masses of the people for this incident which went against our party policy and in which there was a huge loss of people. In addition, we would like to make it known that the contingent of the People’s Liberation Army involved in this incident and the party leadership that directly instructed it were suspended immediately.
4. The nature of the incident, which occurred in a context in which all the parliamentarian parties, civil society, and our party were in a struggle for full democracy against the autocratic monarchy and seriously advancing towards positive co-operation, has created a doubt that there might be enemy penetration. This is being investigated and the facts will soon be publicized before the masses.
5. We like to express to the broad masses our determination that we will resolutely act in order that this kind of incident not be repeated in the future.
Revolution #009, July 24, 2005, posted at revcom.us
From National Review Online, September 13, 2001:
“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet- bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.”
Quoted in the New York Observer, August 20, 2002:
“My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”
MSNBC, March 22, 1997:
“I have to say I’m all for public flogging. One type of criminal that a public humiliation might work particularly well with are the juvenile delinquents, a lot of whom consider it a badge of honor to be sent to juvenile detention. And it might not be such a cool thing in the ’hood to be flogged publicly.”
Address before the Conservative Political Action Conference, January 2002:
“When contemplating college liberals, you really regret once again that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed, too. Otherwise, they will turn out to be outright traitors.”