Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

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Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

A July 4 Challenge

“The American soldiers came into our house at 7 o’clock in the morning. We were awake but still wearing our nightclothes… I heard explosions by the door. The Americans came into the room where my father was praying and shot him. They went to my grandmother and killed her too. I heard an explosion. They threw a grenade under my grandfather’s bed.”

Eman Walid Abdul-Hameed is nine years old. She lives in the village of Haditha, in Iraq, and gave the above testimony to the BBC about the November 2005 massacre by U.S. soldiers who killed 24 in her village.

But Eman is only part of the story. Her murdered father and her murdered grandparents too—only part of the story. Only part of a war that’s been all about massive artillery and air strikes to “soften up” villages; kicking down the doors of houses and murdering the people who lived inside them; leveling a whole city—Falluja—in revenge; and torturing people, even to death, in prisons. Only part of, in other words, America’s current “war on terror.”

Only part, even, of America’s history with Iraq itself.

There was America’s policy of supporting and then prolonging the war launched by Saddam Hussein against Iran in 1980, at a time when the U.S. wanted to see Iran’s new rulers punished and contained for its conflict with the U.S., but when America did not have the flexibility to do so itself (in large part because it was preparing for a possible world war showdown with its imperialist rival, the Soviet Union). Larry Everest’s Oil, Power & Empire documents U.S. covert support for Iraq’s invasion, followed by nearly a decade of supporting each side in different ways. The support for Hussein included the shipping of seven strains of the deadly anthrax virus by U.S. firms to Iraq for use in warfare, it included millions of dollars in aid, and it was nailed down in two visits from the infamous Donald Rumsfeld—then a “special envoy” and now Secretary of Defense—to Hussein himself. (The fact that the U.S. is now behind the trial of Hussein for war crimes is beyond hypocritical.) U.S. intelligence was provided to Iraq when Iran seemed to be getting the upper hand—and then U.S. arms were shipped to Iran, usually through Israel, when Iraq got too far in front.

Henry Kissinger, then out of office, explained U.S. policy this way: “We hope they kill one another.”

He got his wish.

The toll of the war in soldiers alone was 367,000 dead from both sides, and another one million wounded. The toll in civilians is uncounted—though estimates of those who were murdered in Iraqi army rampages through Kurdish villages as the war wound down range around 60,000 people.

In 1990, Hussein again invaded another country—Kuwait. But things had changed: the U.S. no longer needed to worry about a Soviet Union that was heading into collapse, nor did it regard the thoroughly subservient Kuwait in the same way as it had Iran. Most of all, the U.S. could not be challenged by one former client invading another “without permission.” Iraq would now serve as an example of what happens when you defy the Godfather.

Once again, the toll was horrendous. U.S. troops killed at least 100,000 Iraqi soldiers—most of them while in retreat and disarray, and some of them killed in cold blood after they had disarmed and even after the ceasefire (this was exposed by the journalist Seymour Hersh, who had broken the original story of the My Lai massacre). Neither the U.S. nor the Iraq governments estimated civilian deaths, but Greenpeace put the figure at between 5,000 and 15,000—including 408 in the Amiriya air-raid shelter in Baghdad.

And that’s not the worst of it. During the war, in a direct violation of the Geneva Conventions, the U.S. bombed Iraq’s electrical grid, power stations and dams, virtually destroying its water and sewage treatment systems. After the war, the U.S., acting through the UN, imposed economic sanctions on Iraq that made it impossible to replace or repair those systems. The death rate for children under five years old skyrocketed. By 1996, estimates were that at least 5,000 more Iraqi children a month were dying than in 1989, the year before the war.

In 1996, after five years of these sanctions, when people—especially those in power—knew what was going on, Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Secretary of State in the Clinton administration, went on 60 Minutes for an interview. Madeleine Albright is the kind of “realistic liberal Democrat” so many people who aspire to something better all too often put their hopes in, and Lesley Stahl put the question to her:

“We have heard that a half million children have died [from the sanctions on Iraq]. I mean, that’s more than died in Hiroshima. And, and you know, is the price worth it?”

And Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Think about who paid that price, at the half million funerals, and during the excruciating weeks and months preceding the funerals. Think about who set the price, and by what cruel calculus they decided it was worth it. And if the sheer numbers make you numb, then look again at the picture on this page of Eman Walid Abdul-Hameed, and try to multiply her by half a million.

Think of the carnage, think of the social destruction for which the U.S. is responsible in just this one country, over the brief span of a few decades. Think of the way in which the U.S. will demand that other regimes—when it suits America’s highly selective purposes—be brought to trial for genocide, while the U.S. in Iraq has easily equaled and in most cases surpassed these regimes for murder and destruction.

This issue of Revolution will be out around the Fourth of July, a time when a lot of people—including a lot of progressive people—will get sentimental about the “promise of America.” Many of them will admit—they will even target and expose—some of the crimes and the horrors that have been carried out by this government. They may criticize the daily ongoing repression and suppression in American society, and point to the hypocrisy of politicians of all stripes. But all too many will still return to, even cling to, a sort of bedrock belief that these horrors are somehow anomalies—departures from the real essence of America, departures from its “democratic ideals.”

So let us pose a challenge. Spin a globe. Take almost any area in Latin America, Africa or Asia and try to find a place where you could not find a similar—and in many cases an even worse—record of American brutality, murder and horror. From Central Asia to southern Africa; from Central America and the Caribbean to Indonesia; from the Congo to Southeast Asia to the Philippines…and beyond.

Or take any decade in U.S. history over the past 100 or so years, and show us a time—just a ten-year stretch even—when the U.S. has NOT been murdering people wholesale, or financially and politically sponsoring such murder (either through puppets or proxies), or carrying out military aggression or occupation in one or another oppressed nation. We don’t think you can.

If we are right, then can you really tell yourself (or others) that this repeated and pervasive behavior is NOT systemic? Can you tell yourself that each of these mountain of outrages is an exception, a case of a “fundamentally good society” gone astray from its promise and ideals? When atrocities are that repeated and that widespread and, frankly, that unmatched on a world scale—can you tell yourself that there is NOT something at the root of it, at the foundation, that drives the madness forward?

Or must you not instead confront the reality, fully, and set about analyzing the problem…and finding the solution?

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

In the Heart of Watts

Celebration and Reading of Bob Avakian’s Memoir

Saturday afternoon, June 17, 103rd Street and Compton Avenue—the Alma Reaves Woods Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library right smack in the heart of Watts. People line up for cold fruit drinks and sno cones from a local vendor positioned just in front of the library. Inside the Multi-purpose room of the library a standing-room-only crowd snapped their fingers in rhythm as a young man walked his mack like he’d been doing it all his life. He slid down the side of the room, straight to the front. He stopped, looked at the crowd and announced, “He Walks in the Classroom, Cool and Slow…” And it was on! A celebration and reading of Bob Avakian’s memoir From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist. Folks came from South Central, Watts, East LA and Long Beach. They were students, teachers, janitors, ex-prisoners, artists, activists, librarians, revolutionaries and grandmothers. They came to meet and learn about Bob Avakian through the pages of his memoir, and they weren’t disappointed.

The man walking the mack was poet and psychiatric social worker Ben Valentin. He opened up the program and was joined later by Luciente Zamora, a writer for Revolution newspaper, Clyde Young of the Revolutionary Communist Tour and poet/playwright/director Reg e. Gaines. Ben chose three stories to read aloud at the program: “the Mack” story, the baseball hat story, and the umpire story. Between stories Ben told the crowd how each story deeply affected him. He talked about reading the stories to his patients at an adult day care center and then discussing the themes of the stories with his patients. Ben told how each story he read helped paint a picture of a man full of compassion, fairness and the courage to hold and stand by his principles. Luciente Zamora read the Cornbread story and Street Corner Symphonies in Spanish. The audience loved the cornbread story, holding their breath in Luciente’s pause as she read “…he had not one, but two piece of cornbread!” and laughing knowingly as she read how he snatched one of them right off the plate.

Clyde Young introduced the sections he chose to read by telling the audience how he came into political life, the books on Malcolm X and the Black Panther Party he read while he was in prison. He told how the Panthers introduced him to Mao and then how he discovered Bob Avakian. And, Clyde talked about how much Bob Avakian, in all that he does and is, has been greatly influenced by the masses of people. He read the section of the memoir called “Learning from the Proletariat—Deep Bonds.” Many in the audience felt their own hearts break along with Chairman Avakian’s as he told of a young proletarian he had met in Richmond, California, coming into the revolutionary movement and then broken by drugs and the struggle to survive. Clyde went on to talk about how the world doesn’t have to be like this and how Chairman Avakian has developed Marxism and re-envisioned socialism and communism—reading the “Dictatorship, Democracy, Communism—Dissent” section of the memoir to give people a sense of this.

Reg e. Gaines closed out the readings and began by talking about how he viewed the memoir first and foremost as great art and he talked about the powerful impact such art has on people’s hearts and minds. He spoke of how this book, like all great art, transports the readers to places they’ve never been as well as to some places they never want to go to again. And most of all, Reg revealed that to him, this book is great art because like all great art, “it allows us the freedom to imagine.” Introducing his reading of the section on Malcolm X and weaving it into his own memories of Malcolm and the way people reacted to him, Reg talked about the book taking him on a journey but never confining him; that it always gave him the chance to “step off the journey and sightsee, to visualize and dream, then get back on the train and keep on going.”

The readings were followed by a free-wheeling discussion among the panelists where they each spoke about the different ways the book has impacted them personally, what they loved, what surprised them and what they will keep with them forever. Reg talked about being so proud to see how the lives of Black people influenced and helped to shape a man like Bob Avakian. And in turn, he talked about the things he had learned from Avakian, especially the importance of understanding contradiction and the beauty you can find in it. He talked about the deep connection he felt with Bob Avakian around sports and the way he learned things from the memoir that he never knew about the history of Black people. Ben told how moved he was to see how “Avakian is able to interact with so many different kinds of people without getting hung up on their complexion or their gender or what neighborhood they’re from or what junior high they are from. His willingness to have a different perspective or another spin on things and his willingness to always self-reflect about what he is doing…he doesn’t get hung up on saying ‘I’m right’ and here’s the dogma. He challenges his own beliefs. He is creative and scientific in his approach to life and enjoying life to the fullest, not being afraid to defend his beliefs.”

Many folks who came to the event told of how surprised—and happy—they were to get to know a revolutionary communist leader up close and personal the way the memoir let them do that—to see the sensitivity, creativity, compassion, passion and humor concentrated in Avakian and how important that all is in shaping the kind of leader he is. A young proletarian from Long Beach told how much he loved reading the memoir and then revealed that this was the first book he had ever finished reading in his life. A young man who had been encouraged to come to the event by his sister talked about how much he enjoyed what he heard during the readings and mentioned that he had first been introduced to Bob Avakian and his writings in prison through the pages of the Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution newspaper). An immigrant who works as a community activist talked about how much he appreciates Bob Avakian and also about the need to prevent this revolutionary leader from being taken from us.

By the end of the program there was a strong sense of hope and joy pulsing throughout the room. People had gone on that journey Reg e. Gaines spoke about and emerged different.

Ben Valentin closed the program by reading from the very last section of the memoir, the part where Chairman Avakian talks about the challenges and joys of being in the movement to bring into being a new world and his dedication and determination to do exactly that. As Ben read Bob Avakian’s words, there were many in the room whose faces lit up, fired up by the revolutionary leader they are getting to know.

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

Film Review: An Inconvenient Truth

Submitted by a reader

An Inconvenient Truth is a provocative documentary on global warming by director Davis Guggenheim. The film, based on the multi-media presentation given by former Vice President Al Gore in over 1,000 cities around the world in recent years, presents a disturbing picture of the destruction that global warming is doing to the earth and the horrific future that we are facing if global warming is not addressed. Despite some serious weaknesses, anyone who is concerned about the future must see this film and join in discussion, debate, and action over what is needed to save the planet.

At a time when believing in scientific truth is under attack, and when the Bush administration is gagging government scientists from telling the truth, censoring official reports, and sabotaging international treaties, An Inconvenient Truth defends, popularizes and makes accessible to millions the basic science of global warming. Because of this, the film has come under attack. Right-wing talk show host Glenn Beck compared An Inconvenient Truth, to Nazi propaganda. Holman Jenkins wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “Mr. Gore’s narrative isn’t science, but science fiction.” 

The movie presents scientific concepts and evidence about global warming in a clear, concise and often entertaining way. It features great nature photography, graphs, and animation to visually express complex evidence. It even has a clip from Futurama.

Effects of Global Warming

“I can’t think of another movie in which the display of a graph elicited gasps of horror, but when the red lines showing the increasing rates of carbon-dioxide emissions and the corresponding rise in temperatures come on screen, the effect is jolting and chilling,” A. O. Scott writes in the New York Times review of the movie. In the movie Gore shows a graph that demonstrates a link between CO2 levels and temperature over the last 600,000 years as revealed by samples from polar ice cores.1 During this entire period CO2 levels have varied between 180 and 280 parts per million (ppm). The level today is nearly 400 ppm, well above anything that has been seen in over a half million years. And Gore points out that the CO2 levels will rise to 600 ppm if something isn’t done quickly.

Gore describes the dramatic changes taking place in the world as a result of global warming. He shows pictures taken 15 to 30 years ago of glaciers that have existed for the last 10,000 years or more and compares them to pictures taken in the last year or two. It is shocking to see the rate at which the glaciers are disappearing! The film shows the famous “snows of Kilimanjaro” in 1970. A picture from 2005 shows only a tiny sliver of ice remaining.

The movie describes how many new scientific studies are confirming that warmer water in the top layer of the ocean caused by global warming is producing more powerful hurricanes. While it is not possible to attribute any specific storm, like Katrina, to the effects of global warming, an MIT study indicated that as a whole major storms spinning in both the Atlantic and the Pacific since the 1970s have increased in duration and intensity about 50%.2 And all of this means hardship and suffering for the people.

While in the world as a whole it appears that global warming has contributed to a 20 percent increase in rain over the last 100 years. However this increase in precipitation is not uniform, and some areas of the world have suffered from drought.

It was striking to see the role this drought plays in the horrors now going on in Africa, which are generally written off in the imperialist press as the inevitable nightmares of “uncivilized” people that the West has no responsibility for. Famine is killing many children and putting millions of lives at risk in the Niger area. In Darfur, a horrific genocide is being carried out. While the causes leading to the genocide and famine are complex, a contributing factor to these nightmare situations is changes brought on by global warming. Lake Chad, once the sixth largest lake in the world, which has shrunk to one-twentieth of its former size, with sand dunes covering its bed. The disappearance of the lake has led to collapsed fisheries, lack of irrigation and crop failures, and millions displaced by hunger.

While the climate changes produced by global warming are beginning to show themselves today in shocking ways, these are just a glimmer of the changes that scientists predict may come about due to global warming: mass extinction of species, flooding in coastal areas due to melting polar ice, spread of infectious diseases, and the destruction of coral reefs caused by rising CO2 in the ocean’s water.

The destruction of glaciers due to global warming does not mean only that our children may never be able to see a glacier. The Himalayan glaciers, which provide more than half of the drinking water for over 40% of the world’s population, are among the most affected by global warming. Within the next 50 years these people may face a massive drinking water shortage as well as food shortages due to lack of irrigation.

This is a one scary movie, made all the more so because the threats it depicts are real. And, unlike so many summer blockbusters, no superhero is going to come to save the day.

A Profound Disconnect

There is a profound disconnect between the analysis Al Gore has of the problem of global warming and the political program that he advocates for dealing with it. One minute Gore is talking about the magnitude of the crisis—of the possibility of large coastal sections of countries being flooded—and the next he is saying that the problem of global warming can be solved fairly easily by producing more energy-efficient cars and by individuals conserving energy by turning down their thermostats and turning off the lights.

While an analysis of Gore’s motives in making this film and how it may fit into the strategy of the Democratic Party in 2006 or 2008 are beyond the scope of this review, we do need to be clear that Al Gore himself is a representative of the capitalist/imperialist class in the United States and approaches the issue of global warming from that perspective. It is not fundamentally a question of whether Gore really cares about global warming or is “using” the issue for political purposes.  The central point is that Gore’s class position and perspective blind him from being able to really get to the truth of the causes and solutions to the global warming crisis.

In his analysis of the root causes behind the climate crisis, Gore cites three issues: rapid population growth, increased technology, and people’s thinking about the environment. While these factors are part of the picture, what Gore leaves out is actually the central point: that global warming and the destruction of the environment is rooted in a global system of capitalism and imperialism, where production is determined not by social needs or environmental sustainability but by profitability and where a few countries dominate the world economy.

For example, Gore talks about how almost 30% of the CO2 released into the atmosphere each year is the result of burning brushland for subsistence agriculture and wood fires for cooking. But the burning of forests is not being done by peasants in the third world for no reason. It is happening because imperialist globalization is forcing people off of lands where their families have farmed for centuries and, in order to survive, people are driven by necessity to burn down forests for farmland.

While Gore cites statistics that show that the U.S. is responsible for over 30 percent of global warming, he does not question the division of the world where the United States, with four and a half percent of the world’s population, account for such a huge percentage of the world’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Besides the morality of such a small percentage of the world’s population consuming such a large amount of the world’s resources, it is doubtful that such a lopsidedness in the world is sustainable from an ecological standpoint.

Gore does not situate the problem within the current necessity facing U.S. imperialism. These are not times where imperialism is likely to pump large amounts of resources into retooling industry with a green orientation! The strategic goals of the U.S. today are centered around restructuring the world, with U.S. control of the Middle East and, in particular, the large oil reserves there, central to their plans. And the Bush regime is willing to wage unbounded war in the pursuit of this goal.

Urgently Needed: Real Resistance to Stop Global Warming

Gore begins the movie by saying that dealing with global warming is a moral imperative. He asks us to think about what we will tell our children who have inherited an earth that has been ravaged and destroyed. While An Inconvenient Truth is valuable in sounding the alarm about global warming, the solutions that it poses do not meet the moral imperative of what is really necessary to deal with the problem. If things are left on the level of the political program put forward by Gore in the movie, it will be very bad for the environment and for the people.

Much more is demanded of us than conserving energy or voting for Democratic Party politicians. It is necessary to break out of the stifling confines of voting and protest-as-usual and to go up against and reverse the current trajectory of U.S. society. To do this will require millions of people in the streets saying that we will not accept a government that is destroying the future of the planet in pursuit of profit and global domination and that is suppressing scientific evidence when it conflicts with their political agenda.

As the call from The World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime says, “The point is this: history is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious. And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten. WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.”

Only Revolution Can Save the Planet

“From the standpoint of higher economic forms of society [socialism and communism], private ownership of the globe by single individuals will appear quite as absurd as private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the globe. They are only its possessors…they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition.”

Karl Marx, Capital

About the time when capitalism was first putting humanity on the road to the risk of global warming we face today, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto, “Modern bourgeois society with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like a sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.”

Over 150 years later the truth of this statement still stands out sharply when confronting the issue of global warming.

While we need to fight every possible battle to force companies and especially governments to implement measures that can make a big difference, nothing short of making revolution in every country when the opportunity arises and overthrowing the global imperialist system can fully unleash the powers of humanity to face this problem. The magnitude of global warming crosses all geographic, national, cultural and social boundaries, and the solution lies in a radical political and social rupture with the world as it is now organized.

1. CO2 or carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gas that traps heat from the sun in the atmosphere contributing to global warming. Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are increased when fossil fuels, oil and natural gas are burned, when forests are burned or cut down and when cement is produced.

2. This is similar to the relationship between lung cancer and smoking. Someone may have lung cancer and may have smoked for 20 years but you cannot say with certainty that the smoking caused the cancer, because some people who never smoked and get lung cancer, while others may smoke for many years and never get cancer. But you can say that overall the more someone smokes the more likely they are to get cancer and that the smoking rate in the population as a whole directly effects the rate of lung cancer. For more on the relation between global warming and hurricanes see the series of articles, “Hurricanes, Climate Change, and Global Warming,” by AWTW News Service reprinted in Revolution.

* * * * *

From the Bush Crimes Commission:

Suppressing the Evidence for Global Warming is a Crime Against Humanity

The Bush Crimes Commission, which heard testimony in 2005 and 2006, found the Bush Administration guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for its actions on global warming, as well as in other areas. In its preliminary findings the Commission wrote: “The testimony of scientists and the scientific reports and other documents submitted during the inquiry support a conclusion that the Bush Administration has committed crimes against humanity by its environmental policies and practices. These policies and practices appear to support corporate interests while denying the overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gas emissions are irreversibly damaging the world environment and causing present day injury to people throughout the world.”

Daphne Wysham, director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, testified before the Commission saying, “Secrecy enforced by repression has been the foundation of public deception on climate change. Illegal gags have sprung so routinely throughout the government bureaucracy that weather experts are gagged from talking to the media because they might talk about global warming.” She also documented efforts to dismantle the decades-long multi-lateral U.N. framework convention on climate change.

She went on to describe the effect of these actions: according to the United Nations, 160,000 people are dying every year as a result of climate change related to floods, hurricanes, droughts, disease, and food shortages.

Ted Glick of the Climate Crisis Coalition concluded his testimony to the Commission saying: “For the last five years Bush has engaged in a deliberate, willful and reckless course of action, which is causing great damage to the ecosystem upon which all forms of life on this planet depend…. The extensive disruption of the basis for all life, the destruction of our natural environment done willfully and with full understanding of the consequences is I believe the greatest crime that could ever be committed.”

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

Capitalism, the Environment, and Ecology Under Socialism

by Raymond Lotta

Important questions are being raised about the dire state of the Earth’s ecosystems. I would like to emphasize several points about how ecological problems would be dealt with differently by socialism:

We need to have a global perspective, understanding revolution and revolutionary transformation as a world process. Ecological issues must fundamentally be dealt with on a world scale. But that can only happen on the basis of a social and economic system—socialism—that does not treat the environment simply as a means by which to accumulate wealth.

Eighty percent of the world’s resources are absorbed by the advanced capitalist countries, which make up 15 percent of the world’s population. Imperialism has produced a wasteful and destructive pattern of economic activity and industrial development. The “greenhouse” problem is primarily the result of capitalist-imperialist development.

So a big issue that proletarian revolution has to address is the unequal concentration of wealth and absorption of resources of the world by the imperialist countries. But you also have to reckon with these global environmental issues. And only socialism and communism can really address them.

I believe economic development cannot be separated from issues of ecology. The answer is to overturn imperialist power relations but at the same time to recognize much more profoundly that we have to develop sustainable socialist economies that are sensitive to these ecological questions. This is a very important new challenge before us in the 21st century.

Capitalism cannot deal with the environment in a sustainable and economically rational way for three basic reasons:

First, its logic is “expand-or-die”: to cheapen cost and to expand in order to wage the competitive battle and gain market share. And unplanned, large-scale, globally-interconnected production poses grave threats to the environment.

Second, the horizons of capitalism tend to be short term. They seek to maximize returns quickly. They don’t think about the consequences in 10, 20, 30 years. We see that in the U.S.—they build a nuclear power station because it looks profitable and then, ten years later, they realize, uh-oh, their investment isn’t paying off. And so then they spend more money to try to undo it, and then go in for another big short-term gain somewhere else.

Third, capitalist production is by its nature private. The economy is broken up into competing units of capitalist control and ownership over the means of production. And each unit is fundamentally concerned with itself and its expansion and its profit. The economy, the constructed and natural environment, and society cannot be dealt with as a social whole under capitalism. It’s all fragmented into private parts. And each part looks at what lies outside itself as a “free ride.” An individual capitalist can open a steel mill and be concerned with the cost of that steel mill. But what they do to the air is not “their cost,” because it’s not part of their sphere of ownership. In mainstream economic theory, this is called “externality.”

So capitalism is incapable of addressing environmental issues outside its framework of private ownership and production for profit, and its blind logic of expansion. And on a world scale, we see the effects. But socialism can address environmental issues in a sustainable, rational, and socially just way: because ownership of the means of production is socialized as expressed through the proletarian state and this makes it possible to consciously plan development; and because economic calculation is radically different.

Economic calculation under socialism is not guided by profit but by social need, achieving rational balances between industry and agriculture, reducing gaps between town and country, factoring in the short-run, medium-term, and long-term, etc. And socialist planning is able to take into account non-economic factors: like health, the environment, alienation that people may experience from jobs. And all of this must be consciously serving the advance of the world revolution towards a communist world.

From the Bush Crimes Commission:

Suppressing the Evidence for Global Warming is a Crime Against Humanity

The Bush Crimes Commission, which heard testimony in 2005 and 2006, found the Bush Administration guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for its actions on global warming, as well as in other areas. In its preliminary findings the Commission wrote: “The testimony of scientists and the scientific reports and other documents submitted during the inquiry support a conclusion that the Bush Administration has committed crimes against humanity by its environmental policies and practices. These policies and practices appear to support corporate interests while denying the overwhelming evidence that greenhouse gas emissions are irreversibly damaging the world environment and causing present day injury to people throughout the world.”

Daphne Wysham, director of the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, testified before the Commission saying, “Secrecy enforced by repression has been the foundation of public deception on climate change. Illegal gags have sprung so routinely throughout the government bureaucracy that weather experts are gagged from talking to the media because they might talk about global warming.” She also documented efforts to dismantle the decades-long multi-lateral U.N. framework convention on climate change.

She went on to describe the effect of these actions: according to the United Nations, 160,000 people are dying every year as a result of climate change related to floods, hurricanes, droughts, disease, and food shortages.

Ted Glick of the Climate Crisis Coalition concluded his testimony to the Commission saying: “For the last five years Bush has engaged in a deliberate, willful and reckless course of action, which is causing great damage to the ecosystem upon which all forms of life on this planet depend…. The extensive disruption of the basis for all life, the destruction of our natural environment done willfully and with full understanding of the consequences is I believe the greatest crime that could ever be committed.”

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

New Developments in Attacks on Immigrants

In an analysis of a major speech by George Bush on immigration (“The ‘Border Crisis’ and Revolution: Stepping Back on Some Strategic Dimensions,” Revolution #48 or at, we noted these points about what Bush was pushing:

One: While Bush may pose as a “moderate” on this issue, a study of his speech—and more than that, a real look at the bill he is pushing—shows a raft of very ominous and new repressive measures. Taken together these will amount to a radical change for the worse in the lives of millions, even tens of millions, of people.

Two: The struggle for immigrants’ rights must continue and intensify, reaching out more broadly and refusing to compromise on the fundamental rights of the immigrants. Especially in the face of the reactionary storm being whipped up against it in both the Congress and the airwaves, it is very important for this movement to renew its offensive and get the truth out there.

Events in the few weeks since that speech are bearing out these points. The immigration bill passed by the Senate in May would be a nightmare for immigrants. The bill called for immigrants to be held “indefinitely” if it were determined to be necessary, including based on secret evidence. The Senate bill would allow immigrants to be deported if they are placed on a “gang list.” These “gang lists” are lists that can include—in LA for example—over a hundred thousand Black and Latino youth, most of whom have not committed any crimes. And while the Senate bill is being called a “path to legalization,” in actuality its restrictions are so narrow that millions of immigrants will never get citizenship and in fact risk deportation. (See “Senate’s ‘Compromise’ Bill—A Nightmare for Immigrants,” in Revolution #50.)

And yet…the Senate bill is opposed virulently by immigrant-bashing members of the House. The Associated Press reported this week that Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert called for hearings to study the Senate bill—which is a highly unusual move. (Usually differences between House and Senate bills are worked out in conference committee without such hearings.) Different interests are at play with these maneuverings: while people like Hastert are attempting to buy time so that they can make the Senate bill more fascistic than it currently is, others, such as Sensenbrenner, want to force a vote now, before Congress goes on its August break.

While this is going on, anti-immigrant legislation is being proposed in states and cities, and other attacks on immigrants are on the rise as well. The Utah state government recently removed its Spanish-language web site, claiming the state Constitution forbid it. In Colorado a bid to put a measure on the ballot denying any state services—even health care other than emergency care—to undocumented immigrants was proposed. (The Colorado Supreme Court struck the measure down.) Just outside Los Angeles, the city of San Bernardino is attempting to pass an ordinance that would ban anyone from renting to undocumented immigrants and would shut down day labor centers.

Chas Kelley, sponsor of the San Bernardino ordinance, complained to the San Francisco Chronicle about “[being] at the market, stand[ing] in line and not to hear your language spoken, to see Mexican flags everywhere… When does it become my America?”

Here we see the “trickle down” effect, where “rational” calls for “humane debate” by Bush—coupled with the promotion of ignorance, racism, and Lou Dobbs-style blaming of immigrants for all kinds of social problems that are not at all caused by immigrants—are unleashing xenophobic attacks.

Immigrants and Latinos have been the subject of vicious attacks. In Arizona, vandals have repeatedly drained water tanks placed by humanitarians to keep immigrants from dying of dehydration in the desert – this as we head into summer months. The Washington Post reported that in April 2006, two teenagers in Houston viciously beat and sexually assaulted a 17-year-old Latino youth, while shouting racist insults at him. Newsday reported on a rise in attacks in the wealthy vacation resort town of East Hampton, New York, where in April 2006, a teenager who posed in Nazi gear on his MySpace page threatened two Latino youths with a chainsaw and a knife while shouting racial slurs.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has researched links between overtly white supremacist groups and more “mainstream” anti-immigrant groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, as well as the Minutemen. To cite one example, they documented that Laine Lawless, a founder of the Minutemen “copycat” group Border Guardians, sent an email in April 2006 to the National Socialist Movement (a white supremacist group that, it should go without saying, has nothing to do with actual socialism) titled, “How to get rid of THEM,” which called for “warriors for your race” to do things like “Steal the money from any illegal walking into a bank or check cashing place… Make every illegal alien feel the heat of being a person without status… I hear the rednecks in the South are beating up illegals as the textile mills have closed. Use your imagination… Discourage Spanish-speaking children from going to school. Be creative.”*

An NBC affiliate in San Diego reported in April 2006 on an Internet game found on white supremacist web sites, called “Border Patrol,” that allows players to shoot people crossing the border, including pregnant women with children (who the game calls “Breeders”); points are deducted for any human that crosses alive, and you win when you gain a total of 88 points (a common Nazi code number for “Heil Hitler”—”H” is the eighth letter in the alphabet).

Good Morning America and Bill O’Reilly have run shows featuring the owner of a Philly cheese-steak place in Philadelphia who put up a sign reading, “This is America—Order in English!” The same owner, in a spirit of unabashed ignorance, has also sold “Freedom Fries” to promote hatred of French people, and posts signs against Mumia Abu-Jamal, the journalist on death row. He told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “A lot of diseases are coming in” with undocumented Mexican immigrants who “weren’t here before. [Mexicans] play and drink out of the same water.” The group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting quoted Lou Dobbs as saying in April 2005 that “the invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans” with “deadly imports” of diseases like leprosy and malaria.

That is Nazi talk. To conflate and then finally equate immigrants with viruses and germs is remarkably similar to Nazi rhetoric, where Jews were described as a “plague.”** (And, as our paper has noted, this argument has been made about gay people as well.)

All this highlights the urgency and stakes of people from all nationalities, and all walks of life, taking a determined stand against all attacks on immigrants.

* Source: “Going Lawless,” by Susy Buchanan and David Holthouse, posted at the SPLC’s web site:

** The famous Nazi propaganda film, “The Eternal Jew”, said: “[Rats] spread disease, plague, leprosy, typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and so on… they represent the rudiment of an insidious and underground destruction -- just like the Jews among human beings.”     

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

Stop the Witch Hunt Against Ward Churchill

The Standing Committee on Research Misconduct at the University of Colorado at Boulder voted 6 to 3 this week to recommend that Ethnic Studies Professor Ward Churchill be fired. In doing so it went beyond the conclusions of four out of the five members of its own investigative committee appointed to look into the charges, who called for Churchill to be suspended for 2 to 5 years. The university administration may now move rapidly to put the final touches on a vicious witch hunt that started over 16 months ago—aimed at driving Professor Churchill from the university, destroying his reputation and career, and delivering a chilling message to radical and progressive faculty on college campuses across the country to “watch what you say, watch what you write.” It remains for the provost and the dean of arts and sciences to send a final recommendation to Interim Chancellor DiStefano.

This is the same interim chancellor that has guided the attack against Churchill within the Boulder community from the beginning. In the spring of 2005, two hundred Boulder faculty published a statement criticizing his call for a month-long investigation to see whether Professor Churchill could be fired—or arrested—for the political content of his writings. This came in response to demands by the governors of Colorado and New York, giving governmental legitimacy to a howling mob whipped up by right-wing newspaper and talk show commentators nationwide, that Churchill be punished for comments he wrote after 9/11. Then, on the public advice of self-appointed academic hit-man David Horowitz, DiStefano shifted the form of the attack and announced that Churchill would be investigated on charges of research misconduct instead. Who was bringing this complaint of misconduct? Interim Chancellor DiStefano himself—who cobbled together various accusations of research misconduct against Churchill, some over a decade old and already heard, into a complaint. The report of the investigating committee itself expresses concern about DiStefano’s role in bringing the complaint as possibly a violation of the laws of the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado. But instead of refusing to be pawns in a politically motivated attack, the faculty investigative committee went ahead.

Their committee, chaired by former assistant attorney general of the State of Texas, Marianne Wesson, concluded that Churchill “has committed serious, repeated and deliberate research misconduct.” But the reality is that this whole attack—and the decision to fire Churchill—has nothing to do with Churchill’s scholarship and everything to do with establishing a new repressive order on the universities in the wake of 9/11 that would crush dissent and critical thinking that challenges the official doctrine about this country’s history and international role in the world. The whole attack and this decision is sending a chill through the academic world. It is extremely important that people inside and outside the academic world get very clear about the seriousness of what is happening, and step into the battle to condemn this witch hunt and demand that this decision be reversed, that all these accusations be dismissed, and that Churchill be reinstated to his academic position with full standing.

In a six-page letter titled “Summary of Fallacies,” Professor Churchill condemns the report as “punishment for constitutionally protected speech,” criticizes the makeup of the committee and the way it went about the investigation, and responds to each of their findings. He concludes, “I have published some two dozen books, 70 book chapters and scores of articles containing a combined total of approximately 12,000 footnotes. I doubt that any even marginally prolific scholar’s publications could withstand the type of scrutiny to which mine has been subjected.” And he sees this decision as “but the latest volley in a national, indeed international, campaign to discredit those who think critically and who bring alternative perspectives to their research.” The report “is designed to send a clear message to all scholars: Lay low. Do not challenge orthodoxy. If you do, expect to be targeted for elimination…”

On cue, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) published a report in recent weeks entitled “How Many Ward Churchills?” Hiding behind this seemingly scholarly name, ACTA is a vicious, right wing outfit started by the Vice President’s wife, Lynne Cheney, and Senator Joe Lieberman, and is now headed by Ann Neal, the wife of influential conservative Congressman Tom Petri, with people like William Bennett and Ward Connerly on their advisory board. If you think the report is interested in the problem of poor footnoting or other forms of “research misconduct,” think again. Churchill is described in the opening paragraph as a “veritable poster boy of extremists in American academe.” This report, on the basis of the flimsiest and most superficial investigation of courses at the top 25 private colleges and the schools of the Big Ten and Big Twelve conferences, concludes that “the kinds of politically extreme opinions for which [Churchill] has become justly famous are not only quite common in academe, but enthusiastically embraced and rewarded by it.” Their proof? Faculty that are allowed to teach courses dealing with the issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, globalization, capitalism, American hegemony, oppression, and the destruction of the environment. And in addition, they particularly single out for attack courses dealing with “justice”! Together with David Horowitz, who has just published The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, the strategy of these highly placed political promoters of the Bush regime’s extreme agenda is to wage a cultural war on the university—one of the areas of society where critical thinking is still taking place and which is seen as a threat to the official orthodoxy justifying the U.S.’s drive for empire. Their goal is nothing less than to threaten, intimidate, and persecute radical and critically thinking scholars into silence.

As we said in our previous coverage of the investigative committee’s findings (“Footnote Police Demand Blood: Ward Churchill Ruling,” Revolution #48, May 28, 2006), “It needs to be said that conducting this investigation has done far greater harm, and constitutes a far greater danger, than any evidence of research misconduct this committee may have discovered.” The fact that the perpetrators of this witch hunt were able to get a faculty committee to conduct this investigation has given the appearance that this is a verdict of Churchill’s peers, his fellow faculty. It has given a thin veneer of legitimacy to a blatant political assault unleashed from the highest levels of power. To some degree it has cast doubt and confusion where there should be no confusion at all about what this whole attack has been about.

Professor Thomas Mayer, a member of the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and faculty research associate of the Institute of Behavioral Science, has carefully studied the report and issued his own findings in “The Report on Ward Churchill.” He concludes: “The central flaw in the report is grotesque exaggeration about the magnitude and gravity of the improprieties committed by Ward Churchill. The sanctions recommended by the investigating committee are entirely out of whack with those imposed upon such luminaries as Stephen Ambrose, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Lawrence Tribe all of whom committed plagiarisms far more egregious than anything attributed to Professor Churchill.”

Mayer points out that to make claims of fabrication and falsification “stretches the meaning of these words almost beyond recognition. Fabrication implies an intent to deceive. There is not a shred of evidence that the writings of Ward Churchill contain any assertion that he himself did not believe. The language used in the report repeatedly drifts in an inflammatory direction: disagreement becomes misinterpretation, misinterpretation becomes misrepresentation, misinterpretation becomes falsification. Ward may be wrong about who was considered an Indian under the General Allotment Act of 1887 or about the origins of the 1837-1840 smallpox epidemic among the Indians of the northern plains, but the report does not establish that only a lunatic or a liar could reach his conclusions on the basis of available evidence.”

Mayer also says that “The charges of fabrication and falsification all derive from short fragments of articles within much longer articles. The report devotes 44 pages to discussing the 1837-1840 smallpox epidemic. One might think that Ward had written an entire book on this subject. In fact this issue occupies no more than three paragraphs in any of his writings. In each of the six essays cited in the report, all reference to this epidemic could have been dropped without substantially weakening the argument.”

Mayer concludes that “If any of the sanctions recommended by the investigating committee are put into effect, it will constitute a stunning blow to academic freedom. Such punishment will show that a prolific, provocative, and highly influential thinker can be singled out for entirely political reasons; subjected to an arduous interrogation virtually guaranteed to find problems; and then severed from academic employment. It will indicate that public controversy is dangerous and that genuine intellectual heresy could easily be lethal to an academic career. It will demonstrate that tenured professors serve at the pleasure of governors, political columnists, media moguls, and talk show hosts… The permanent or temporary expulsion of Ward Churchill would be an immense loss for CU. In one fell swoop we would become a more tepid, more timid, and more servile institution. His expulsion would deprive students of contact with a potent challenger of accepted cognitive frameworks. The social sciences desperately need the kind of challenge presented by Ward Churchill.”

In short, this investigation has completely overblown whatever possible errors in scholarship they claim to have considered. And the extreme and unprecedented sanction of suspension, to say nothing of dismissal, is completely unwarranted, and further evidence that this whole attack on Churchill from beginning to end is nothing but the continuation of a political witch hunt. Many more people—faculty and students and from all arenas of society—urgently need to condemn this whole witch hunt and join the battle to defend Churchill, and the universities as places where critical thinking and dissent are valued and encouraged. What position you take on this battle has to do with what kind of society you want to live in.

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

The Bush regime should NOT be allowed to lock the future

World Can’t Wait Training Project Unleashes Activists

by Sunsara Taylor

As dozens of young people from across the country arrived in New York City for The World Can’t Wait’s student and youth training project in early June, the story of the Haditha massacre was on everyone’s mind. After seven months of cover up, the details of the Marines’ systematic killing of 24 civilians in Iraq had finally made its way into the major media. A shudder spread across the country. But still the streets were calm. And still, the murderous war lumbered on.

This—the escalating horrors of Bush’s brutal program, coupled with the disturbing normalcy of daily life in the U.S.—was exactly the problem these World Can’t Wait activists had gathered in New York for ten days to take responsibility to transform.

From different perspectives and with different life experiences, the volunteers shared something truly radical and all-too rare today: a determination to live their convictions that the Bush regime should NOT be allowed to lock the future. To disturb the disturbing calm and rouse millions who are horrified to act all summer long and manifest on October 5th in a day of resistance so powerful and widespread it marks a big step in Driving Out the Bush Regime.

So for ten days they came together each morning for meetings and strategizing, fanned out around the streets of New York every afternoon doing outreach, and packed into programs each evening to hear from and talk with experts on various aspects of the Bush program. And then late into every night the conversations continued among twos and threes and their local hosts throughout the city and New Jersey.

I got a chance to meet most of the volunteers on the second day, when I gave a talk about the lessons that can be drawn today from the rise of the Nazis. The youth were serious, about half of them with their notebooks out jotting down notes. When the chance came for questions, they went for the big ones.

A young woman from Atlanta who’s done a lot of work with MoveOn began what would become a pattern throughout the week. She wanted to know how to answer her friend’s dad who “knows so much” but is “always so wrong.” This time, she asked about Bush’s real motivations for war on Iraq. I described how the Bush cabal is motivated by more than their own desire for profit, or even for oil consumption, but how they see an opportunity and an urgent necessity to reconfigure the world to more appropriately suit their imperialist interests. Notebooks flipped open again when I recommended that people read Bob Avakian’s The New Situation and the Great Challenges.

The programs that took place during the training project were extraordinary, and in spite of my previous plans I found myself attending as many as I could. Each speaker was an expert in their field. Ted Glick, who works with the Climate Crisis Coalition and testified at the Bush Crimes Commission, gave a talk on the “Bush Administration’s Destruction of the Environment.” Christina Page, vice president of the Institute for Reproductive Health Access at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and author of How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America, discussed the Christian fundamentalist attack on contraception and sex education. David Lindorff, author of The Case for Impeachment: Legal Arguments for Removing President George W. Bush from Office; Stanley Rogouski, an activist, photographer and writer for World Can’t Wait; and I spoke on a panel about “Why the Democrats Won’t Stand and Fight and Why You Must.”

I was able to attend Esther Kaplan’s talk. She is the author of With God on Their Side. I got the sense that people were stunned by what she presented about how much institutional power has already been grabbed up by the Christian Right. When asked whether atheists could criticize the fundamentalists, she responded firmly, “The media always treats the Christian Right like a religious movement, not a political movement…but it is a political movement and should be subject to the same critiques you would make of any other political movement… You have every right to comment on that. Be empowered as an atheist.”

Another volunteer asked what the future looks like for women if this movement isn’t stopped. Kaplan explained both how “oppressing women is at the heart of their agenda” but that because the grassroots Christian Right movement relies so heavily on women’s participation, this contradiction “could be a fault line that helps this movement self-destruct.”

One night, after a day spent at the American Museum of Natural History viewing the Darwin exhibition, the activists gathered at John Jay College to hear from Dr. David Kohn, the leading Darwin biographer who helped put together the exhibition. He broke down the basics about Darwin’s discovery of evolution and examined the ongoing conflict, from Darwin’s time down to today, between this discovery and religious outlooks.

As Kohn explained it, not only did Darwin “de-center man” from humanity’s understanding of the universe by demonstrating that we are just one more species that evolved like all the rest, but even more fundamentally he challenged the notions of permanence and absolutes (including absolute perfection) that have often been central to religious belief systems.

Kohn’s emphasis not only on the facts of evolution but on what’s wrong with the world view that denies it provoked all kinds of ongoing discussion. The next day, a young woman who had been a fundamentalist Christian for more than a decade remarked, “It might sound like a funny thing to get from his talk, but when he said there is no such thing as absolute perfection, I felt this big weight lift off of me. We are always told what women are supposed to look like, what’s beautiful, you know. But there is no such thing as perfect.”

Another program that created a buzz and set a tone for the week was the held on the first evening. A screening was held of Sir, No Sir!, which tells an exciting and challenging story that most of the volunteers had never heard, but which they quickly began measuring their own commitment up against: GIs, many the same age as the activists in the audience, who had taken incredible personal risks to stand on principle and who made history by helping to stop the unjust war on Vietnam.

On most days, after gathering in the morning for breakfast and discussion, the attendees would break into squads and spread out around the city talking to tourists and active GIs on visit, shop owners and street vendors, punks and professionals. They went with hundreds of copies of the Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime, clipboards, donation buckets, and an armful of striking posters exposing the Haditha massacre and opposing an attack on Iran. They were often surprised how few people—up in Harlem, down in Chelsea and other areas—had heard about the Haditha massacre.

Many of the young activists got bolder each day, encouraged by the warm response they got most places they had been and bolstered by their deepening understanding of the crimes of the Bush regime. One day, after arriving just a bit too late to be able to hand flyers to a wave of people boarding a ferry out to the Statue of Liberty, a volunteer from San Francisco got everyone’s attention by yelling out the opening lines to the WCW’s Call, “Your government, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in its sights. Your government is openly torturing people, and justifying it… People look at all of this and think of Hitler, and they are right to do so…” When he finished, the tourists from all over the world broke into enthusiastic applause as their boat pulled away from the shore.

There was debate over what to make of the warm response people received each day. Some expressed a frustration that, “Everywhere you go, people like that we are doing this. But they need to be doing this too.” A punk rocker from a small town in Indiana spoke up in one of the morning meetings to say, “You guys don’t know how good you have it here. You should try doing this in Indiana.”  He pointed out that there are a lot of people in the so-called “red” states who don’t like Bush either, but that it’s not so easy to reach them and move them.

There was a lot of debate over whether reaching “the mainstream” means toning down the message or whether we owe everyone as big a dose of the truth as we can bring; over how to draw the line between religion and theocracy; over how to argue with people that they cannot rely on the Democratic Party to get us out of this mess without insisting that people break with the Democrats in order to get involved; and over how to get way out there in stirring up massive, unprecedented resistance without inadvertently sending the message that “non-radicals need not apply.”

Many of these questions didn’t get completely settled and will surely reassert themselves as these youth, and others that they meet and bring forward to drive out this regime, go out all summer long. That is as it should be because it’s not like anyone has ever endeavored, much less succeeded yet, in the kind of historic undertaking these youth have joined with The World Can’t Wait movement in taking up.

On the last day, I had a chance to sit down and talk with several of the volunteers before they left. All of them had changed their life plans through the course of the week. Everyone in this particular group had decided to either join the summer Bus Tour to build momentum for October 5th, to move to New York to work in the National Office, or hit the road to take World Can’t Wait out to the Warped Tour concerts nationwide.

“Talk about moral certitude,” one of them said. “I came here because I thought I knew how bad it is getting, but really I had no idea. I am just so angry that my government is torturing people, and for anyone to tell me that I can’t or shouldn’t be doing something about it—I just can’t accept that.”

Another volunteer got very emotional when she described all the organizing she had been doing in Texas before coming and how much it meant to meet “other people my age who are like me, who want their lives to be about something that matters. I mean, I sat down for lunch today with these new friends I made here and all we could talk about was, ‘How could I sit in class right now or stay home and only think about a summer job? They are taking away women’s rights. People are being tortured. There is just no way.’”

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

World To Win News Service Examines…

Potential U.S. Scenarios to Attack Iran

In early June, George Bush announced that Iran has “weeks not months” to comply with U.S. demands for international inspection of its nuclear facilities, and that if Iran did not suspend its current research and development of nuclear technology, “there must be a consequence.” “We have given the Iranians a limited period of time, weeks not months,” said Bush.

In issue #50, Revolution ran an analysis by Larry Everest of the Bush regime’s announcement that they were open to negotiations with the rulers of Iran (see “New U.S. Maneuvers on Iran: Tactical Shifts, Escalating Threats and the Continued Danger of War,” Revolution #50, June 11, 2006 or at In that article, Everest noted:

A recent Wall Street Journal editorial by Robert Blackwill, Bush’s former deputy national security adviser and presidential envoy to Iraq (June 1), spelled out an imperial understanding of the necessities facing the empire in Iran:

“The case against using U.S. military force to set back Iran’s nuclear weapons program is impressive,” he begins. “Iran would retaliate strongly in Iraq, in Afghanistan and perhaps against the U.S. homeland. The effect in the Muslim world could be volcanic. Terror against America would increase. Islam could be further radicalized. Oil prices would skyrocket with damaging effects on the international economy, even if Iran did not interrupt its supply. The people of Iran would probably fall in behind the mullahs. Global public opinion would further shift against the U.S.”

But then he makes what he sees as a more compelling case for action from the imperialist standpoint:

“The use of American military force against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would obviously carry great risk. But acquiescing in an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would be deeply dangerous for the U.S. and like-minded democracies for decades to come. It would be regarded by the entire world, friend and foe alike, as a strategic defeat for the U.S., and produce a major shift toward Iran in the balance of power in the Greater Middle East… John McCain sums it up: ‘In the end, there is only one thing worse than military action, and that is a nuclear-armed Iran.’”

And, Everest argued, “People should consider this analysis by a former major figure in the Bush regime very seriously and very soberly.”

A World To Win (AWTW) News Service recently sent out an analysis of what forms U.S. aggression against Iran might take. The article, the second of a three-part series on “Iran—the threat of another war,” is titled, “Possible US tactics to serve its strategic goals in Iran.” Following are excerpts from that article:

* * * * * *

Given the difficulties the U.S. is facing, especially in Iraq, would it choose to take military action against Iran?

No one should mistake the latest American offer of direct negotiations with Tehran as an indication that the US has decided not to take that route. Whether or not talks between Iran and the US eventually take place, and without being able to predict the results, it can be said with certainty that a unilateral act of war against Iran would require a previous process of diplomacy to create the necessary political conditions, both in terms of preparing public opinion at home and abroad, and bargaining with and strong-arming the other big powers.

In an article examining why the US made the offer, the New York Times (2 June) explained, “Few of his aides expect that Iran’s leaders will meet Bush’s main condition”: that Iran, alone among all the countries on Earth, accept the US imposition of a total ban on enriching or reprocessing uranium, even under international inspection. This would amount to explicitly surrendering national sovereignty to the US. Bush might as well have offered the Iranian regime a chance to lick his boots in public and commit political suicide—”an offer intended to fail,” the newspaper continued. As for the US’s real intentions, an insider source was quoted as saying, “If we are going to confront Iran, we first have to check off the box of ‘trying talks.’”

BBC analyst Paul Reynolds (2 June) suggested a blunter explanation: “The hawks in Washington have gone along with the move in the belief that an offer of direct talks now will improve their arguments for military action later. It also helps to keep Russia and China on board… When [the talks break down], they would then press for a mandatory Security Council resolution ordering Iran to suspend enrichment, and then, if Russia and China blocked sanctions, they would call for unilateral measures by the US and its allies. If that failed, then eventually there would be discussion of a military strike.”


The US at first held off on asking the UN Security Council to apply diplomatic and economic sanctions against Iran, largely because of Russian and Chinese opposition. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice tried to sound reassuring in March when she stated “Nobody has said that we have to rush immediately to sanctions of some kind.” But this is the road the US set out on, and, in fact, the US seems to have had its own timetable all along. By early June, Rice felt ready to announce, “We really do have to have this settled in a matter of weeks, not months.”

Although details are still secret, reportedly some initial sanctions were agreed to at the 1 June Vienna meeting between the US, the other four UN Security Council members (the UK, France, Russia and China), Germany and the European Union diplomacy chief. According to news reports, Russia and China agreed that even if they don’t approve of sanctions, they will not block them. The “menu” of penalties if Iran does not agree to accept the US-led ultimatum range from travel bans for Iranian officials to an arms embargo. Such an embargo could conceivably mean drawing an armed ring around Iran. In this scenario, step by step, sanctions could set the conditions for war, even if other powers involved were reluctant or opposed. Looking back at the US-led war against Iraq, it is clear that diplomacy, sanctions, manoeuvring in the UN Security Council, etc., did not prevent war but paved the way for it to happen. The US plan this time, set by Rice, is to try and minimize big power public squabbling along the way.

An arms embargo would greatly reduce the Iranian regime’s ability to defend itself, since the country imports much of its advanced weaponry from Russia and China. More generally, the Islamic Republic of Iran is extremely vulnerable to outside pressure because its economy is so closely linked to the world market. The huge increase in oil prices over the last decade has not made Iran more economically independent, but rather much more reliant on oil exports. Iran’s oil revenues have nearly tripled since 1997. They now amount to at least three-quarters of the government’s income. Further, a blockade of imports, including machinery and technology, could cripple Iran’s entire economy quickly. This disruption alone would greatly weaken the regime’s military capabilities, not to mention the consequences for its political stability. While Russia and China have resisted agreeing to sanctions that would stop them from buying Iranian oil, American and European gunboats in the Gulf waters might persuade them otherwise.

When enforced by guns, an embargo turns into an act of war. That’s why economic embargoes have a way of turning into military actions overnight. In World War 1, Germany attacked US ships defying a ban on shipments to Britain, thus providing the US with an excuse to enter the war when it was ready. In World War 2, a US blockade of oil shipments to Japan provoked the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. The decade-long embargo against Saddam Hussein’s regime weakened it so much economically and militarily that Iraq was ripe for defeat even before the US invaded. The embargo was the US’s first (but not only) weapon of mass destruction. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the US would sit through another decade of embargo this time.

Military Options: Occupation

If the US does decide to move militarily against Iran, the form of attack would depend on many factors, including the differences among the big powers, mass opposition to the war and the political situation in general, and American military capabilities…

The US military is bogged down in Iraq and faces increasing difficulties in Afghanistan. At this point and in the near term, at least, the American military finds itself overstretched just trying to avoid complete loss and final failure in Iraq…

Furthermore, Iran is a much larger country than Iraq, with three times the population. Its uneven terrain would provide obstacles for American tanks and other US military machinery. Even in the more favourable terrain of Iraq, US armour has proved quite inefficient in fighting against the kind of war that resistance forces are waging.

If, as many American military analysts say, the US would need three times the number of soldiers it currently has in Iraq to go from occupation to real control of the country, then extrapolating this to Iran, it would seem that the US just doesn’t have what it would take to directly achieve its aims in Iran, despite the Bush regime’s arrogant threats.

In a major appeal to his fellow American imperialists entitled “Do not attack Iraq” (International Herald Tribune, 26 April), former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski warned, “While America is clearly preponderant in the world, it does not have the power—nor the domestic inclination—to both impose and then sustain its will in the face of costly and protracted resistance. This certainly is the lesson taught both by its Vietnamese and Iraqi experiences.” If the US went ahead and attacked Iran anyway, he warned, “the era of American preponderance could come to a premature end.”

To understand Brzezinski’s perspective, it should be recalled that during the Iranian revolution of 1979, he was an “advocate of the iron fist” who urged the Shah to “crack down” and kill as many people as necessary to stay in power. (See The Iranian Revolution: An Oral History, by Henry Precht, the US State Department’s Iran Desk chief at that time.) Brzezinski took that position in large part because of US interests in using the Shah’s regime to help contain the Soviet Union. His position on Iran today is no less motivated by his conception of the overall interests of the US empire.

Brzezinski’s concern with the question of “domestic will” seems to be a reference to the need for massive conscription in the US to double, triple or more the number of troops. This could trigger an enormous shift in the domestic political situation faced by the Bush regime. While recognizing that would be politically very difficult right now, Brzezinski himself points to a possible solution to this problem: “If there is another terrorist attack in the United States, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be also immediate charges that Iran was responsible in order to generate public hysteria in favour of military action”…

A Military Strike Against Iran

Another option publicly discussed in the US is a military strike on Iranian nuclear sites and selected military and political targets. That, incontestably, is within the capacity of the US, despite its weaknesses. It would be the kind of war the US likes to fight, relying on economic/technological power (“death from above”) in extremely unequal combat. The question is, what would be gained politically and militarily by such an action?

Many imperialist strategists say it would be easy to deal a devastating setback to the Islamic regime’s nuclear programme using missiles and/or aircraft alone. But, first of all, that programme is not the US’s main concern. Secondly, even if that concern were real, the US knows quite well that Iran is not anywhere near producing nuclear weapons. This kind of strike might inflict military and political blows on the Iranian regime, but would probably not directly achieve American objectives in Iran and the region. The idea that it might help topple the regime seems unrealistic. In fact, it could help Iran’s ruling circles close ranks. Such an attack might help the isolated regime gather more popular support on a nationalist basis.

Further, what was intended to be a limited action might not necessarily remain limited, because the US might have to face Iranian regime retaliation in other areas. For example, it might seek to block the straits of Hormuz through which the region’s oil passes every day, or fire on US bases in the region, or try to strike back through its allies in Iraq, Afghanistan or Lebanon. An air attack on a few targets might well expand into a full military conflict between Iran and the US. Even worse for the US, it might inflame the whole Middle East, creating a situation well beyond the US’s military capacity to deal with—although, again, it could be argued that for the US, seizing hegemony in the region is an “all or nothing” proposition.

Finally, a limited strike against Iran—as opposed to a decisive blow—might increase the tension between the imperialists. There has been disagreement among the big powers on whether, when or how to attack Iran. In the case of the Iraq war, opposition by the European ruling classes was silenced when the US launched a full-scale invasion, forcing the other powers to accept American domination as an accomplished fact. In addition, while the military and political gains of a more limited attack on Iran might not achieve US aims, its outcome would likely include an enraged mass opposition on a world scale. As in the run-up to the Iraq war, this could interact with the efforts of the other imperialist powers to pursue their own interests as long as the question of who controls Iran remained unsettled.

Dismembering Iran

Apart from the above options, there are other possible forms of US intervention not as widely talked about. One is the invasion of a part of Iran in an attempt to sever it from the rest of the country. In that scenario, Iran’s southern province of Khuzestan could be the most likely US target. Most of Iran’s oil resources are located in Khuzestan. During the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, seizing Khuzestan was Saddam’s strategic goal—and one the US encouraged.

Khuzestan has important advantages for the US from a military point of view. It has a long border with Iraq, and the terrain is flat, so an American military invasion could be mounted and carried out relatively swiftly. It is a short drive from Basra, the main city in southern Iraq, to Ahvaz, the Khuzestan capital. The US could carry out this kind of partial invasion in the name of “stabilizing” Iraq. To reduce the political cost of such a move, the US is already building a case against Iran for intervening in Iraq’s affairs. (No matter that the Iraqi Shia parties promoted by the Islamic Republic of Iran are all members of the US-installed occupation government. The US even accuses Iran of “arming the terrorists” in Iraq, although there is no evidence or even logic to that claim. It is inconceivable that the Iranian Shia regime would give any support to the anti-occupation Sunni forces.)

An American occupation of Khuzestan province would do more than inflict severe economic pressure on the Iranian regime, possibly paralysing it and accelerating its downfall. It might also work as an opening wedge in the cracks created by ethnic oppression in all corners of Iran. About half of the country’s population is made up of nationalities oppressed by the central government that mainly represents the dominant Persian nationality. The US could justify an invasion by claiming it was helping the province’s largely ethnic Arab population, who would be said to have “invited” the US to come to their aid.

In his New Yorker article on US preparations to invade Iran (17 April 2006), journalist Seymour Hersh wrote, “I was told by the government consultant with close ties to civilians in the Pentagon, the units were also working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Baluchis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast.” The inflammable character of Iran’s minority nationalities was brought out again in May by mass protests that exploded in Azerbaijan province in response to newspaper cartoons depicting Azeris as stupid cockroaches. There have also been incidents in Baluchistan over the last few months. Already some Iranian Kurdish forces are setting out on the path taken by Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdish leaders who have become the most reliable US allies in Iraq. These Iranian Kurdish leaders have been visiting the US regularly and taking part in discussions at American foreign policy think tanks.

Ahvaz has seen disturbances for more than a year. Undoubtedly there has been genuine mass protest against the Tehran regime’s oppressive measures, but bomb explosions in crowded urban areas raise questions about the nature of the perpetrators. The Islamic regime has accused the US and UK of involvement. The fact that Hersh’s American government informants don’t discuss Iran’s Arab minority does not mean that the US is not working on this front as well.

If an invasion were limited to Khuzestan, it might not require such a large military force. But it is not clear whether the US is capable of deploying even that many additional soldiers. Further, it is impossible to predict exactly what might follow an occupation of that region. It might still pull the US into the kind of unfavourable circumstances it is seeking to avoid.

Is the Use of Nuclear Bombs Against Iran Just an Empty Threat?

The revelation that the US military is discussing the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons against some targets in Iran alarmed and shocked the world when the Hersh piece was published. The article also disclosed that “US carrier-based attack planes have been flying simulated nuclear-bomb runs within range of Iranian coastal radars.”

Some people dismissed this as only an empty threat. Jack Straw, the UK Foreign Minister at that time, called the whole idea simply “nuts.” But insane or not, the discussion is real enough so that even some imperialist politicians such as American Senator Edward Kennedy publicly demanded that the US use only conventional weapons and not nukes against Iran… George Bush has very pointedly refused to promise that the US won’t do so. As the UK Guardian reported (4 May), “When asked last month whether U.S. options regarding Iran ‘include the possibility of a nuclear strike’ if Tehran refuses to halt uranium enrichment, Bush replied, ‘All options are on the table.’”

When US imperialism deliberately bares its teeth, that should be taken seriously. Faced with a contradiction between its desperation to advance towards its objectives in the Middle East and its inability to deploy enough troops to do so, it might seek to resolve this problem in the most dangerous manner imaginable. Nukes are an “option,” nukes are “on the menu”—imperialist strategists use harmless-sounding words for great crimes. Certainly at least some forces in the Bush regime and more broadly in the US ruling class see America’s nuclear arsenal as the way to overcome their limitations and reassert their strength as a superpower. The outcome could be immediate death for hundreds of thousands of people and slow death for many more. But the US rulers have shown over and over again, from Hiroshima to Vietnam to Iraq, that there is no amount of bloodshed they fear if they believe it necessary to attain their objectives and serve their interests. Bloodshed is what they do best. In fact, the arrogance of US civilian and military officials about their capacity to crush the Iranian regime is based on at least the possibility of a nuclear attack—as Bush himself plainly says.

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

Check It Out: The Road to Guantanamo

The Road to Guantanamo, directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, is the terrifying first-hand account of three British citizens who were held for two years without charges in the American military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Known as the “Tipton Three” in reference to their hometown in Britain, the three were eventually returned to Britain and released, without having any formal charges ever made against them at any time in their ordeal.

The film, part documentary, part re-enactment, shows the horrendous conditions in Guantanamo as the three describe their ordeal at the hands of American and British intelligence, who were determined to get them to confess their nonexistent links to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, while the brutal scenes are reenacted onscreen.

Two of the actors and two of the ex-detainees were detained and interrogated at the airport by the British police when they returned from the Berlin Film Festival where the movie got the Silver Bear award. According to BBC, one of the actors was asked if he intended to make any more political films.

The Motion Picture Association of America, the group that gives ratings to movies censored the poster that the producers of the film intended to use for publicity for its U.S. release. The poster depicts a prisoner in chains with a hood over his head.

The film opens June 23 in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston and Washington, DC, and in more cities on July 7.


Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

Fact Sheet

Palestine: A History of Occupation and Resistance

Recent events have focused new world attention on Palestine: the killing of seven Palestinians at a Gaza beach by Israeli artillery shells (and the Israeli government’s outrageous attempts to deny responsibility); the clashes between Palestinian groups, in particular Hamas and Fatah; and the intense suffering of the Palestinians because of the cut off of international aid. Revolution will analyze developments in occupied Palestine more in future issues. In this issue, we present a basic fact sheet on the history of Israeli occupation and Palestinian resistance.

A central reality about the state of Israel is that it serves as an attack dog for U.S. imperialist interests. In the Middle East, those interests focus on controlling this strategic crossroads between Europe, Asia, and Africa and its vast oil reserves.

Without U.S. backing, the state of Israel could not survive. The U.S. gives Israel $2 to $3 billion a year in aid, allowing Israel to build up one of the most powerful armies in the world. The book Deadly Arsenals estimates that Israel has 100 short-range and medium range missiles that are nuclear capable. And Israel has nuclear weapons that could be delivered from fighter jets or launched from ships.

Israel is a direct oppressor of the Palestinian nation. It has also carried out many vicious assaults on the masses and other crimes in the region and around the world on behalf of imperialism. Israel invaded Lebanon in 1976—and again in 1982, killing over 20,000 Lebanese and Palestinians. In 1982 Israeli warplanes bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq. In 1991 and 2003 Israel supported U.S. wars against Iraq. Israeli agents have trained torturers from Guatemala to South Africa and sold weapons to reactionary pro-U.S. governments all over the world.

Imperialism, Israel, and the Palestinian People

From the 1500s up until World War 1, Palestine was ruled by the Ottoman Empire. In the course of resistance to Ottoman rule, the modern Palestinian nation was forged with a common culture, contiguous (connected) territory and a truncated, but coherent national economic life based on agriculture and processing agricultural products (like olive oil). At the end of World War 1, in 1918, there were 680,000 Palestinians and 56,000 Jews (some of whom were refugees from pogroms in Europe) living in Palestine, and Palestinians owned 97 percent of the land.

After World War 1, imperialist powers carved up the Ottoman Empire, including Palestine. The rivalry was intense because oil was now a precious economic and military commodity. In 1922 Britain got a League of Nations “mandate” to rule Palestine as a colony. Between 1933 and 1945, the British imperialists, along with the U.S., severely restricted Jewish immigration into their own countries in order to push Jews toward Palestine—at a time when Jews in Europe faced the Holocaust.

Zionist Jews from Europe began to colonize historic Palestine (what is today Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank) in the late 1880s. The Zionist movement arose in part as a response by sections of Jews to their persecution in Europe. But, in opposition to forces - often led by communists (who also had a significant following among Jews) - that were fighting to forge opposition to reaction and fascism, Zionist leaders instead offered to set up a settler-state in the Middle East in service of various imperialist powers. When British imperialism took up this offer in the early 1900s, a wave of Zionist settlement began.

In 1936 Palestinians launched an armed uprising against the British and the Zionist settler-colonialists. The British brutally crushed the uprising in 1939 and passed emergency laws condemning to death any Palestinian found with a gun.

Through World War 2, the U.S. emerged as the top imperialist power in the world and moved to replace Britain as the main power in the Middle East. In November 1947, a U.S.-backed UN resolution partitioned Palestine into a Zionist state and an Arab state. At that time, the Palestinians outnumbered Zionist settlers two to one and owned 92 percent of the land. But the partition gave Israel 54 percent of the land. In May 1948—after the Palestinians and the Arab countries refused to accept the UN partition—Israel launched a war against Palestinians. Israeli forces massacred 250 villagers in Deir Yassin, including 100 women and children. Israel used this atrocity to spread terror among the Palestinian people, and many fled their homes in panic. By the war’s end in January 1949, nearly 800,000 Palestinians—two-thirds of the population—had been driven into exile; Israel had seized 77 percent of the land.

The 1960s saw a revolutionary upsurge among Palestinians. Palestinian guerrilla organizations launched armed struggle against Israel in 1965, with the aim of creating a democratic, secular (non-religious) state throughout Palestine. In March 1968 Palestinian fighters held off a major Israeli attack at Karameh, Jordan. In 1967 the Israelis launched the “Six Day War” and seized the remaining 23 percent of historic Palestine—the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem—along with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Syria’s Golan Heights.

UN Resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from all areas seized in the 1967 war. But the Israelis began to build heavily armed settlements in the occupied areas. Since 1967, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have been under harsh military occupation, denied basic rights and unable to develop any viable economy.

The Deadly “Peace Process”

The Palestinian intifada (uprising) that erupted the late 1980s deeply shook Israel and the U.S. imperialists. In addition to outright bloody suppression, the U.S. and Israel initiated a so-called “Peace Process.” A key part of U.S. strategy has been the “two-state solution”: official Palestinian “recognition” of Israel and end to all resistance, in return for a small state in the West Bank and Gaza. By the late 1980s Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) had basically agreed to this.

The U.S. and Israel have never intended to allow a truly independent Palestinian state. Under the Oslo “peace process” begun in 1993, Israel transferred about 40 percent of the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority (PA). But this PA territory is only about 10 percent of historic Palestine and consists of small disconnected pieces of land surrounded by areas under Israeli control. The main roads, key water resources, and access to neighboring countries and the sea are all controlled by Israel. And the Oslo agreement made no provisions for the four million Palestinian refugees living outside of Israel, West Bank, and Gaza. During the years of the “peace process” (1993 through 2000), the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank doubled.

The U.S. and Israel dropped this “peace process” and pursued even more unrestrained tactics after the year 2000. Meanwhile Israeli settlements have multiplied, now numbering hundreds, with Israeli troops protecting their land grab and aggression.

Since the late 1980s Israel has at times promoted the growth of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas as a countervailing force against secular forces and to stoke clashes among Palestinian groups. Hamas, with its reactionary ideology, is in some ways a perfect foil for the U.S. and Israel, who try to portray themselves as modern democracies confronting obscurantist theocracies. (Enlightened people in the West who want to oppose fundamentalist theocracies can start at home: the U.S. has a president who is deeply connected to Christian fascist theocrats.) The U.S. and Israel have used the victory of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections to justify intensifying brutality against the Palestinian people by further embedding these attacks in the overall rationale of the “war on terror.”

Intensifying Brutality of Occupation

Israeli brutality against the Palestinian people became even more deadly after Ariel Sharon—the man responsible for the 1982 massacre of hundreds at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon—was installed as Israel’s prime minister in 2001.

In 2002 Israel began erecting a fortified barrier—concrete walls, electrified fences, electric sensors, razor wire, trenches, and watchtowers—across more than 400 miles of Palestinian land in the West Bank. This apartheid wall further isolates many Palestinian towns, separates farmers from their fields, and steals more land from the Palestinians.

In September 2005 Sharon carried out a “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip, dismantling Israeli settlements and military installments—as part of a plan to make Gaza into a big prison for the 1.4 million Palestinians there, while moving to annex more land in the West Bank. Sharon’s successor, Ehud Olmert, has continued on this path, announcing a plan for “unilateral withdraw” from the West Bank—which means consolidating Israeli control over the most valuable and strategic territory, while intensifying the siege around the scattered Palestinian enclaves.

Further adding to the misery of the Palestinian people, the U.S. and European powers invoked Hamas’ victory in the elections for the Palestinian legislature in early 2006 to cut off or restrict aid to the Palestinian Authority. This economic strangulation is having a traumatic effect on the Palestinian people. More than half of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza now live below the international poverty line of $2 a day. The UN’s World Health Organization has warned of a “looming” health crisis, with hospitals and clinics running out of medicine, fuel, and other vital necessities.


Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

Excerpts from the Draft Programme of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA and from “On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme”

From the Draft Programme of the RCP, USA

“As for intimate relations, socialist society will promote values of, and create the conditions for, personal, family, and sexual relations based on mutual love, respect, and equality.

“The revolutionary proletariat is staunchly opposed to the attacks on homosexuality by reactionary forces such as religious fundamentalists, and to all physical assaults on, discrimination against, and government repression of homosexuals, which is so widespread and vicious in the U.S. today. In the new society, discrimination against homosexuals will be outlawed and struggled against in every sphere of society, including personal and family relations.

Draft Programme, Part I (p. 22)

“Sexual and intimate relations between men and women in bourgeois society are largely reflective of and dominated by the ideology of male supremacy and ‘male right’; they exist within and are influenced by the overall framework of social relations in which the oppression of women is an integral and fundamental part. All this is something that the proletariat will be mobilizing the masses to radically transform in the process of uprooting the oppression of women and all oppression and exploitation. In the realm of intimate relations, socialist society will encourage people to strive for standards that are consistent with and contribute to uprooting the oppression of women.”

From the appendix
“The Proletarian Revolution and the Emancipation of Women” (p. 106)

From “On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme”

“We, as Maoist revolutionaries, want to liberate all of human expression and social relations from the weight of thousands of years of traditional (oppressive) morality and institutions. So when it comes to matters of sexuality, we do not approach things in the manner of a ‘bedroom police.’ We recognize the great variety and complexity of human sexual expression—including historically—and that the practice of human sexuality is not a static or unchanging thing. We also know that there is much that is not yet well understood—and there is therefore much to learn still—about the many different characteristics of human sexuality at both the individual and broader social levels. And, while there has been important experience in socialist society, which needs to be further summed up, we also understand that it is not possible for anyone to fully predict what forms sexual expression might take in socialist and then in communist society (and what the social ‘meanings’ and significance of various practices might turn out to be in these new social contexts).”


“While many sexual and other intimate relations can obviously bring many positive benefits to the individuals involved and to society overall, it is our view that since the emergence of private property and of class distinctions, all sexual relations have borne the stamp of the historical oppression of women, and continue today to be shot through and through with this fundamental feature of class society. They will all need to be transformed in important ways, in order to fully achieve a radical strategic breakthrough on this question.

“This is what continues to make sex in the modern world such a tricky proposition! It is not easy for individuals to form positive intimate social and sexual bonds that go against the tide instead of going along with, or even mirroring, aspects of the general societal subjugation of women which characterizes bourgeois society and all societies marked by exploitative and oppressive relations. It is not easy for individuals to form bonds characterized by mutual love, respect and genuine equality, when what prevails in the society at large tends to promote and reinforce just the opposite!

“Like everything else worth striving for, this requires struggle, as well as a wide-ranging vision of a radically better future; and fundamentally it requires, once again, the radical up-ending and revolutionizing of society as a whole, of all social relations.”

from “On the Position on Homosexuality in the New Draft Programme

Revolution #52, June 25, 2006

From: “The Vicious Agenda Behind the Attacks on Gay Marriage” (Revolution #51, June 18, 2006)

“The Christian fascists say that gay marriage attacks the institution of the family. Sometimes reasonable, humane people scratch their heads and ask these anti-gay forces, ‘But how does the marriage of two gay people hurt anyone who is striving to forge intimate relations on decent egalitarian grounds?’ And, in fact, there is no way at all that two gay people marrying hurts that. But that is not the issue. The Christian fascists have a whole program on marriage, including covenant marriage (a ‘contract with god,’ that among other things places severe restrictions on divorce) and restricting and eventually eliminating divorce.

"Stepping back, the current battle over marriage laws has to be seen in the context of stresses on U.S. imperialism today, and how the rulers see forging social cohesion in these times.”

To read the whole article go to