September 18, 2005
Three fundamental things to be learned from what has been happening, including the role of the government, in relation to hurricane Katrina:
The real nature of those who rule over the people, and real weaknesses of this ruling class, have been further revealed before the world. The “superstitious awe” that people are conditioned to have toward the powers-that-be and their state—their whole machinery of rule, and of repression—has been dramatically shaken through these events and in particular through the actions of the government itself. In the eyes of large numbers of people, the ability to rule as well as the right to rule of this current regime, and indeed of the ruling class as a whole, has been called into question in significant ways. Things which this ruling class attempts to keep hidden, to deny or to distort and misrepresent—including the oppression and the extreme poverty of large numbers of Black people in the U.S. itself—has burst through the “normal” web of deception and the iron hand of suppression. What does and does not matter to the powers-that-be—and in particular their complete lack of concern for the masses of poor and oppressed people, and indeed for the people in society in their great majority—has stood out for all to see, throughout the U.S. and all over the world. At the same time, it has been graphically illustrated that, even though they remain very powerful, the rulers of the U.S., and their armed forces and other machinery of oppression, are not all-powerful.
Not only the need but also the possibility of revolution, and of a radically different society, shows through in these events—once they are understood in their true light. Masses of people, in the areas most immediately affected, were being left by the government to suffer, day after day, in conditions not fit for human beings, yet they showed their humanity in many ways and put the lie to the slanders that portrayed them as criminals and animals. Where they took matters into their own hands, the great majority did so with right on their side, in the attempt to meet needs that could be met no other way. Overwhelmingly, the people trapped in these conditions have responded by supporting and helping each other, especially those in most desperate need, while expressing outrage at the indifference and inaction of the government; and in this they have been supported and assisted by people all over the country. In all this can be seen the potential for masses of people to be mobilized to bring into being a society in which relations among people are radically different than the daily dog-eat-dog that this capitalist system pushes people into. Yet what has also stood out very clearly is that the masses of people are not fully aware of and organized on the basis of an understanding of how the whole operation of this system is in direct and deep-going conflict with their real and fundamental interests. When they gain that understanding, and are organized to act on that basis, then a revolutionary struggle of millions and millions of people, combined with the development and sharpening of certain objective conditions, could make it possible to break the hold of the class of cold-blooded capitalist exploiters who rule over this society (and much of the world) and to bring into being a new society and a new state which would put the interests of the great majority of the people at the foundation and at the center of everything it stands for and everything it does. But for this to happen, the masses must have revolutionary leadership. And that points to a third and final crucial point.
There is such a revolutionary leadership—the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, and its Chairman Bob Avakian. But to put things squarely and honestly, while the Party has been exerting real efforts to take up its responsibility in relation to the events surrounding hurricane Katrina, the ability of the Party to actually lead in these dire and urgent circumstances has been far short of what it needs to be. If the influence of the Party and its organized ties with masses of people had been much greater, leading into these events surrounding hurricane Katrina, the Party would be able to play a far greater role in raising the understanding of the masses of people as to what was happening and why: why the government and the whole ruling class reacted the way they have—with the loss of thousands of lives, and terrible suffering for hundreds of thousands more, much of which could have been prevented or significantly lessened—and what this says about the nature of their system and why we need a radically different system. The Party could have been playing a far greater role in enabling masses of people, in the areas immediately affected and throughout the country, to be organized to respond to these events and to wage organized political struggle, on a much higher level and in a much more powerful way, to force steps to be taken immediately to save hundreds and probably thousands of lives that have been, and are still being, needlessly lost. And all this could be having the effect of raising the consciousness and the organized strength of masses of people to a far higher level, with the necessary goal of revolution more clearly and sharply in view. These events surrounding hurricane Katrina and all that has been forced into the light of day in connection with this, has shown the great need for the Party to rise to its responsibilities and play its leadership role in this way, on a whole other level, and for masses of people to rally to, to support, to join and build, and to defend—this necessary and crucial revolutionary leadership, as embodied in the Revolutionary Communist Party and its Chairman Bob Avakian.
by Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Revolution, August 31, 2005, posted at revcom.us
EDITORS’ NOTE: This is part of a series of excerpts on various subjectsŚdrawn from conversations and discussions, as well as more formal talks, by Bob AvakianŚwhich we will be running in this newspaper over the next period of time. This has been edited for publication and footnotes have been added.
An important point—and this is spoken to in the “Right-Wing Conspiracy” supplement and Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones and talks I gave recently on religion1—is that there is an acute contradiction that we have to recognize: Christian Fascism will have a lot to do with the polarization that occurs in U.S. society in this period, and even the pulling apart of the center in the form in which it has existed; but, on the other side of the contradiction, the polarization cannot be allowed to be or to remain around religion per se (in and of itself). One of the indications of this—and this is something I have also called attention to sharply—is that there have been consistent efforts by the Christian Fascists to reach out to people in the inner cities, among the oppressed masses, particularly through the churches, to try to ensnare them on an ideological basis to act against their own interests.
At the time that “Right-Wing Conspiracy” was written, Clinton was in office, hanging on barely. Let’s not forget, he was actually impeached; and I believe all (or in any case nearly all) the Republicans voted for a conviction—it’s just that they didn’t have the total number of votes they needed. If they’d gotten some significant defections from the Democratic Party, they would have actually thrown him out of office on a ridiculous basis relative to what their Constitution is actually talking about—”high crimes and misdemeanors.” But Clinton remained in office, so these efforts of the Christian Fascists in the inner city were made then largely through privately funded projects, by and large (things like “The Samaritan Project” of the Christian Coalition). But now Bush is in office, and the ruling structures of the government are saturated with Christian Fascists—more all the time. It’s like the movie Birds [BA laughs]—they just keep coming and coming, and filling in every crack and crevice of government agencies. And there are the “faith-based” initiatives and programs, backed and funded by the government, which are increasingly the means through which social services are supposedly being addressed. So, this has the force, the resources, and the authority of the federal government (and the bourgeois state as a whole) behind it now.
And you did see in this election some of these Black ministers, for example, lining up with Bush (never mind Don King and his support for Bush—who knows what the fuck that was about, it probably had to do with his financial situation—I’m talking about something more serious than that, since he is sort of a self-conscious clown and minstrel). A number of Black preachers—and this is a serious thing—lined up with Bush around gay marriage, and even around abortion. Here they were, lining up with reaction, with outright fascism, on the basis of traditional religion and traditional values.
Now, just to be clear, my point is not that we should, by any means, be casting Black preachers in general into the enemy camp—that would be very wrong and a terrible mistake. We should certainly not be giving up on uniting with many of them—and repolarizing at least many of those who are now playing a role that is not very good, or even is very bad. It is a fact—and a fact that we cannot fail to recognize—that more than a few of them are right now not playing a good role. And there does have to be work done around exposing the role that some are falling into of leading people, yes, toward a program that has a genocidal element in it—a program that could lead to genocide against Black people and other oppressed peoples—on a basis of reactionary traditional values, patriarchy, religious fundamentalism, and everything that’s wrapped up in that.
While all that is important, the fundamental point I’m making here is we cannot allow the polarization to be around religion per se (in and of itself), although a big part of the polarization does have to be against Christian Fascism, against reactionary theocratic fundamentalism. And there is a vast difference between those two things (religion in a general sense and, on the other hand, Christian Fascism and reactionary theocratic fundamentalism generally); there is a qualitative difference which we should understand. And if we don’t understand and handle this correctly, we’re going to aid the enemy in pushing, not just preachers, but masses of people, into the enemy camp—or allowing them to be dragged, against their own fundamental interests, into the camp of the enemy, or to be confused and sit on the sidelines when they should be frontline fighters against all this. So we cannot allow this to be the polarization—it cannot be around religion as such.
I noticed, in a report on a speech by Cornel West, that during this speech he pointedly said: “My secular friends on the left have to understand that most of the country is religious.” Well, speaking for our Party, we do, of course, understand this—and we do have to understand this—but perhaps not quite in the way he means this. If you listen to the recent talks I gave on religion, there is conscious attention—not simply out of tactical considerations, but fundamentally out of principle—to draw the distinction between religion in general and reactionary religious fundamentalism (there is that distinction in our Draft Programme, and this needs to be even more fully developed in my opinion in the finalization of the Programme). There is a qualitative difference—and we have to clearly and fully understand the difference—between religion, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, theocratic fundamentalist fascism, which is seeking to impose religious order and “biblically-based” law and rule, as interpreted by reactionary theocrats, onto U.S. society and much of the world, for that matter.
Think about the fact that the son of Billy Graham—who is “credited” with beginning the conversion of George W. Bush back in the ‘80s—Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, a close associate and confidante of Bush, makes a public statement that Islam is not only a false but an evil religion. (This has also been said by Jerry Falwell and other prominent Christian Fascists.) Think of the impact a statement like that has in the world, particularly in the Islamic world, when this guy (Franklin Graham) is someone who is known to be closely associated with Bush! You can believe that every Islamic fundamentalist will draw the association—and call people’s attention to the association—between Franklin Graham and Bush. So, you have Bush, right after September 11, letting the word “crusade” come out—and then, “ooh...oops...” retracting it...“I didn’t mean that”—and then you have the Franklin Grahams and others putting forward exactly that line—that, in effect, the “war against terrorism” is a crusade against “evil Islam.”
With all this, the point once again is that Christian Fascism will have a lot to do with the polarization in society, including as we work to repolarize things; but the polarization cannot be allowed to be around religion as such. We have to understand, first of all, the essential and crucial distinction between the two, and then we have to act on that understanding.
1.See "The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy...And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer" (Revolutionary Worker #1255, October 17, 2004 ) and Preaching from a Pulpit of Bones: We Need Morality, But Not Traditional Morality (New York: Banner Press, 1999). The talks on religion referred to here are "God Doesn't Exist-And We Need Liberation Without Gods" and "Christianity and Society—the Old Testament and the New Testament, Resistance and Revolution," which are available online as audio downloads at bobavakian.net.
by Bob Avakian, Chairman, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about “democracy”—without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no “democracy for all”: one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality.
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
We received the following correspondence from a reader.
Coming from a strong Christian background myself, it’s a painful thing to see the exploited and oppressed call out to a god that doesn’t exist to explain natural disasters and how this system and its ruling class deals with them.
While speaking to someone who had family stranded and possibly dead in New Orleans, we got into a back-and-forth argument about whether or not the hurricane was god’s punishment and yet another warning of the “End Times.”
The person nearly broke into tears thinking about his family stranded there and had to walk away, as they left they said: “It’s just time to let go and let god.”
Well, I would put it a much better way: It’s time to just let go OF god, because frankly he doesn’t exist. And the continued belief in this myth is not only a hindrance to understanding how reality actually works, but it is very harmful.
Hurricane Katrina (and any other natural disaster) is not the result of some mystic hand of god bringing judgement on people or testing people.
These events of nature are the result of material forces, of matter in motion, that can be understood—and, in the case of Katrina was predicted long before it hit— by scientists studying the world around us. (And was not predicted by “prophecy” or any other mystical means.)
There is absolutely nothing useful or positive to the masses of people of the world in holding on to the belief in god or this religion shit in general—to the belief that god has anything to do with such phenomena of nature.
This is why it is so painful to see some of the most exploited and oppressed sections of society holding on the tightest to this shit.
I’ve been there—desperate and praying for the slightest glimpse of a blessing, going to church wondering why everything is so messed up and looking for answers.
I used to think that it was only by “the grace of god” that I was still alive and surviving. I’d go to church and be with other people who were suffering day-to-day too, and just as desperate for answers. And when we’d greet each other asking “How are you?” everybody would always respond: “I’m blessed.”
But I came to realize that the truth of the matter is this: Naw...you ain’t blessed, you’re oppressed! And you need to be fighting for the emancipation of humanity from all of this unnecessary suffering!
It’s been said about Black people that religion has been crucial to their survival as a people. It’s said that’s why many Blacks hold on to it.
And speaking from the experience of being Black with a proletarian background: it sometimes just felt like this system has taken every thing and every opportunity away from you. Like the only thing you have left to hold on to for survival is god and religion.
But the reality of this is that, as stated by Bob Avakian, “Religion has been crucial for the survival of Blacks as an oppressed people, as an oppressed nation in the U.S. It’s been an integral part of keeping Black people in an oppressed condition.”
That’s why Blacks should let go of it.
At every turn in the history of Black people, this system has scandalously betrayed them—from slavery, to lynching, to police brutality, to the abject poverty that the majority of Blacks have undergone (and still undergo), to the whole history of white supremacy that shaped and enforces this national oppression.
And in the face of all of this unspeakable affliction on so many levels, how has “just letting go and letting god” done anything but accommodate this oppression?
Christianity in particular was imposed on Blacks to justify their subordination in slavery as “god’s will.” Holding on to it today is nothing less than mental slavery and an oppressive hindrance. And once again, it’s not simply a hindrance, it is very harmful. Especially when it paralyzes Black people in the fight against political movements and trends that are potentially quite genocidal in fact.
The Christian fascists who are in seats of power right now are pushing for an all-out theocratic dictatorship, where the rule of the bible (as they interpret it) is law.
As we know, the bible calls for the most extreme forms of punishment—including state execution and even stonings—for things that today are minor crimes or that should not be considered crimes at all.
And given the history of how white supremacy has been inseparable to the operation of this system, imagine what this would mean for the most exploited and oppressed sections of society—such as Black and Latino people who are systematically locked at the bottom of this system, often excluded as unemployable, and many forced to resort to the underground alternative means of survival.
The majority of the prison population today is Blacks and Latinos. And it is clear that these are peoples who are already demonized by the white chauvinist fabric of this country and already considered prime targets by the state and police.
If this theocracy is actually achieved—and given the reality that the crimes those in these prisons have been convicted of are regarded as serious crimes—what’s to stop these fascists from a full-blown crusade of mass exterminations through state-sponsored executions on these peoples as a “final solution”?
And of course it would be all in the name of god.
These truly are very turbulent times, not just in the most narrow sense in people’s individual situations, but globally and in the U.S. itself. And reactionary political authorities recognize that people are experiencing this. And with that, we have all this religiosity shit being pumped out and poured on people to gloss over all of these overt and inexcusable crimes of the system as simply “god’s will,” and fundamentally set the grounds to be able to intensify these crimes in an unprecedented way.
This recent natural disaster in New Orleans, how it was handled and is being handled by this government, exposed the very cutthroat, cold, racist and utterly bankrupt nature of this system.
People did not have to die. People did not have to suffer. But they did, terribly so!
And now what are those in power saying we should do: A day of prayer! If that ain’t pissin’ on the people and telling them it’s raining, I don’t know what is. What do they take the masses for? It’s bullshit, and they can’t be allowed get away with this.
The needless suffering and dying of the people has nothing to do with any god or other supernatural forces. But this class of capitalist imperialists as well as their reactionary political representatives would love to have people believe this so they can keep on getting away with these monstrous and bloodthirsty crimes on humanity.
And so meanwhile, the very masses of people that they exploit and oppress will look to forces that don’t exist for emancipation instead of emancipating themselves.
In other words, while the people pray, these bloody-jawed wolves prey on the people.
It’s really time to drop both this myth of a savior coming to deliver the people and the belief in some god who is in control.
The masses must emancipate themselves. The masses must take control of the direction of society.
Because, when we get down to it, those bumper stickers and T-shirts that say “Prayer works,” they are right in a certain sense. Prayer doesn’t work for the people —their prayers are not heard or answered by any god. But all the endless praying does work for the ruling class of capitalist-imperialists who wish to keep the masses on their knees and pleading in vain, instead of revolting and fighting to become themselves the rulers of society.
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
One of the first things we heard while traveling through Louisiana in the days shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit was that there were thousands of bodies in the streets of New Orleans. People told us that especially the neighborhoods close to Lake Pontchartrain had been overwhelmed by a surge of water, and many people couldn’t make it out. Everyone in southern Louisiana was talking about the need to get in there and try to save people. Time was critical—immediate action needed to be taken if many of the lives threatened by the flooding were to be saved.
Not much was reported in those first few days about the potential of thousands of dead bodies lying in the streets of a major U.S. city—people whose lives could have been saved if quick and decisive action had been taken. Mention of such a horrendous and unthinkable development was dismissed as the kind of second-guessing and rumor-mongering that could only worsen the situation. But on September 9, over a week and a half after the surging waters burst through the levees of Lake Pontchartrain, the New York Times reported that “the number of dead remains a looming and disturbing question. In the first indication of how many fatalities Louisiana alone might expect, Robert Johanessen, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Hospitals, said Wednesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had ordered 25,000 body bags. The official death toll remained at under 100.”
Our first stop in Baton Rouge was at a center set up at a large Baptist church. I was talking to a man from the Red Cross who was supervising some of the work being done there for people from New Orleans who had been driven from their homes by Katrina and the flooding, when he suddenly broke down in tears and began sobbing uncontrollably. We sat in a quieter corner of the church lobby as he struggled to compose himself.
“I’ve been through more hurricanes in Florida than I can remember,” he told me. “I went to Indonesia after the tsunami last year. But I’ve never felt so overwhelmed as I do now.”
He told me about a young woman he had just finished talking to. She had driven in from Texas to find her grandmother, and in fact did find her in the church. He went on,
“I told her I was so happy that she had found her grandmother alive. But she just looked away from me, and told me that she had just told her grandmother that her sisters and daughter had died in the flooding.”
The scale and depth of the suffering inflicted on the people of New Orleans is incalculable. As one man from Treme told me, “There are thousands of stories here, thousands, and most of them are never going to get told.” Many of them will not get told because the people are dead. They are mainly the people who didn’t own cars, the people who didn’t have the money to get on one of the very few buses out of town, the people who felt they had to stay behind to try to connect with a loved one or friend or to look out for an old neighbor.
I sat for an hour on the banks of the Mississippi in Baton Rouge talking to a man who was aching with sadness. He told me that he had worked as a janitor in a building on Canal Street. He didn’t go in to work Sunday night as Katrina approached, and tried to talk his brother out of going to work. He said his brother thought he had to go in—he couldn’t afford to lose a day’s pay, and he couldn’t miss any more time at work after recovering from an illness. But they got separated by the storm and the flooding, and he hadn’t heard anything about what had happened to his brother. Now the man was scanning the lists of names and looking towards the entrance of a nearby center every few minutes to see if he recognized a familiar face.
A lot of rumors, exaggeration, and some outright fabrication about “looting” and “crime” became the story of the storm almost immediately—while the flooding was still going on and thousands of lives were hanging by a thread in the embattled city. One incident in which someone supposedly shot at a helicopter was followed by agonizing days in which the federal authorities refused to let people in and out of New Orleans on the pretext of concern for their own safety and well-being, while at the same time they were beginning to institute a militarized blockade and clampdown around the city and its surrounding communities.
I spoke to a young man whose home was in Treme. He had helped his family and some neighbors out as floodwaters began to surge through the streets and homes of their historic community. The biggest problem they faced was not the winds and the floodwaters, he told me. People were working with each other to try to deal with that. But as the National Guard poured into the city, they treated people like the enemy of a city they were out to occupy.
This brother said,
“Me and my friends from our block were walking around, wading around really, through all that nasty stinky water, trying to find our families, trying to find our friends, trying to find other people in our neighborhood. And we were getting food and water where we could find it. The National Guard came up to us and put guns to our heads, and told us to put our hands in the air. I told them, ’Oh man, we’re just trying to find our friends and get some food.’ They acted like we were the ones doing something wrong. You tell me how in the hell we were doing something wrong when we’re trying to find people and get something for all of us to eat? The mayor or the President or nobody else did a damn thing to save the people of New Orleans.”
A man we met from LaFayette, a musician, put in very clear terms a thought many people expressed in different ways.
“They’ve been wanting to do away with New Orleans for a long time. This flood is the perfect opportunity for genocide against the people of New Orleans. They’ve been waiting for something like this, so they could get rid of the people of New Orleans, and say they’ve ’cleaned up the city.’ I’ll say this. I was in Vietnam. And I know what troops are trained to do, and it ain’t save people. They’re trained to shoot.”
A picture has been painted by government officials and many media reports of a city and people out of control after the hurricane and flooding ripped through New Orleans. A lot of horrific crimes— almost unimaginable acts of cold-blooded criminal brutality—have occurred in New Orleans. Crimes committed by a system driven by a lust for profit and determined to preserve capitalist property relations and maintain a social control over masses of people that strengthens these relations. Crimes commited by political leaders at every level who made conscious decisions to abandon especially the poorest sections of the city and those with the highest populations of Black people, most vulnerable to the storms and flooding that have long occurred in New Orleans; to leave them utterly abandoned and sealed off from any possible aid in the moment of their most extreme and intense crisis. And now thousands of people are dead as a direct result of this system and these policies, and the causes of their deaths are being covered up while their corpses are still decomposing in the streets.
Everyone we spoke to is deeply angry at the portrayal of the city and its people that has been coming out in the newspapers and TV. They feel like they are being portrayed as criminals, as people who are somehow themselves responsible for being left devastated and homeless by the fury of this storm.
A man from Uptown New Orleans spoke with a lot of bitterness about the reports of looting and shooting that had been put out. He described how he had been on the roof of their home, with his brother, looking out for help, and witnessed some of the incidents with helicopters flying over the city. When the National Guard comes in, he said, “the first thing they want to do is shoot us down and say we’re looting.”
“They say the shooting slowed them down. They say someone was shooting at helicopters. I can’t speak for the whole city, but what I saw, that’s not true, at least not at the beginning. People were shooting in the air to try to get attention. It’s like you would shoot off a flare if you had that. We were being ignored. They’d fly right over us. People were trying to get their attention, let them know that somebody’s here who needs to get out. Then they use this to say they can’t do nothing for us. It’s the same with the fires. They say people were starting fires everywhere and trying to burn down the city. People were up on those roofs and in those buildings for days in all that heat and water, and started smoky fires to try to keep some of the mosquitos away. But they try to use anything against us. They say we’re looting and shooting and burning and then that’s their reason for not doing nothing to try to get us out of there, when all we’re doing is trying to survive. They’re not concerned about our well being down here, about our lives. They don’t give a damn, in fact, whether we live or die. And now you can see everywhere they’re sending us is down South, where they got these southern bullshit ways that people in New Orleans don’t go along with. ”
“The storm was shocking, it was the most shocking thing of my life. But how they dealt with it made it worse. Those soldiers came in, they wasn’t helping us at all, in fact they was clowning us. They was making fun of the fact that we were so desperate and so hungry. They was clowning, mocking us. I’m not going to forget that.”
Large numbers of people from New Orleans are being housed in Houston, Baton Rouge, and every city (and many small towns and rural areas) in between. Many told us that it is made to seem that they somehow did something wrong, that other ordinary people should be afraid of them. Three young people we talked to, two women and a man, were outraged that they had first been abandoned by the government, then treated like an enemy, and now looked at as if they were all somehow criminals.
One of these young women said,
“I got a strong feeling that the government did nothing because they look at the people like we’re dirt. If you’re from some of those old neighborhoods in New Orleans, they already treated us like we was dirt. The cops are the biggest looters and killers of all, everybody knows that. You look at how they can send things so fast to other countries when they want to make war, like Iraq and stuff, and then they promise to send us a big naval ship to come to New Orleans and it still ain’t there. They can do one so fast and people are still waiting for the other ship, for their ship to come in.”
One 50-year-old woman spoke with great bitterness and wanted to make clear that she was talking not just for herself but for a lot of people who were still too overwhelmed to put all their thoughts into words.
“I am so, so tired of being treated like a dog. We didn’t ask for this hurricane, it’s not our fault—and somehow we’re the ones who are being treated like we did it, like its our fault for something that went wrong, like we’re people to be afraid of. Why was it all the poor neighborhoods that got flooded the worst? You know there’s no hills in New Orleans, but somehow some places didn’t get all the high water like we got. We’re getting treated like animals. Why don’t they understand we don’t want that and won’t go with it? You have to understand some of us don’t know where our kids are, we don’t know where our families are. People have been looking for days and haven’t found anyone. We’re having such a hard time, and they’re doing us like this.”
There were countless acts of heroism and collective action among the people. A young man put 18 babies and children from apartments near his in a rowboat and rowed them to safety in the Superdome, where he continued to care for them. He wasn’t able to fit their mothers in the boat and didn’t know where they were.
We talked to a youth who had plunged into the filthy waters and swam down Canal Street to save an elderly woman who had capsized from the backyard kiddie swimming pool she was using to try to survive, and was shouting for help.
People told us of gathering food and cooking it on rooftops for people still stuck in their buildings. Several people spoke of how they and others went through apartments in the projects or houses in their neighborhoods searching for people they knew wouldn’t be able to move out on their own, and helping get them to safety.
Medical personnel did triage on the semi-submerged remains of an Interstate 10 overpass. The one nurse in the Superdome performed almost superhuman acts as she tried to somehow cope with the medical needs of the thousands of people abandoned and stranded there. At one point youths went out to get insulin from nearby drugstores so she could treat people with diabetes.
Meanwhile the government authorities were terrorizing the people directly or putting a military encirclement into place. Several people told us stories of cops— like in cities throughout the country, New Orlean cops are notorious for their brutality—who organized gangs of looting and who held people up at gunpoint. The Baton Rouge Advocate showed a picture of gun-toting cops loaded down with DVDs and CDs. A local TV news crew, out to cover flood victims surviving in New Orleans, was flagged down by people held captive in a hotel by cops who had filled several rooms on the upper floors with generators they had taken from Tulane University Hospital and expensive clothes and electronic goods they had taken from stores along Canal Street. A man with a seven-year-old daughter who hadn’t eaten in several days said the cops had hoarded all the food in the hotel and waved pistols in his face when he asked for some food for his daughter.
But people who were organizing themselves to help the people abandoned and locked in the city were actively kept out and prevented from doing so, sometimes by the armed perimeter that the government established around New Orleans, sometimes by a federal “emergency response” that acted to stifle any initiative and effort that wasn’t under its direct and immediate control. Bus drivers in Houston, Dallas, and Lafayette, Louisiana, who organized themselves to get to New Orleans to bring out as many people as possible, were prevented from doing so by FEMA, the federal agency overseeing the government’s response to Katrina. People who came with their airboats from the swamps and bayous surrounding New Orleans were prevented from taking people out or sometimes from getting in to the city. Some people took to traveling in several boats as close as they could get, and leaving some behind with the keys still in them, in the hopes that people would get to them and be able to get out.
Two men from Acadiana, one of them a former cop, told a news crew in LaFayette that they had gotten as many people as they could out of New Orleans before they were prevented from doing any more. But as one of the men said,
“We left a lot of people behind, and we could have gotten a lot more out. We were told don’t go rescue those people, and if you do and something happens to you, we don’t know you. People were dying by the hour. They were just left there. Old people were dying all around us. If it was up to us we’d still be doing this. I can’t eat or sleep thinking about those poor people still in there, and about the people who died there. Do you know what it feels like to see those people? All I can think about is those crying babies. But they took us out to the freeway and told us we’re on our own, and don’t come back.”
I spoke to a man named Shawn outside a crowded center in Baton Rouge. He said the center he was in was more like a prison than a home, and spoke bitterly and with a lot of anger to how people had been misled and mistreated since before the hurricane hit New Orleans. Shawn said,
“Bush fucked up. And he knows he fucked up, that’s why he’s coming here, to try to make us somehow forget. But he don’t care about us, the only thing he cares about is his damn self, and he’s going to keep on trying to bullshit us with whatever he can, cuz he don’t give a damn about us. They want to talk about crime, they made bigger crimes than we can even think of.”
Shawn told me that he thought that
"all the people, in Chicago and Houston and all around the world, need to get together and get his ass out of there. We need to do something, and do it now. He’s living pretty, he’s living in a damn mansion and got a war going, what the hell does he care about us? They got us locked up in here now. If he gave a damn somebody would have done something, instead of letting people die and all that. They’re dying all over the place. And I blame him. It’s his damn fault.... He wanted to start a war, and he did, he started a damn war. And now he wants to start some more wars. He could’ve left those people alone, like they’re supposed to be, and they would’ve never had no damn war.
“We need some hot food. We need hot water so we can shower, we need jobs, because all our jobs are gone. He got on TV and didn’t say a thing. Who the hell wants to hear that? He’s just making everybody angry, that’s what he’s doing. I’m tired of hearing this stuff. There’s gonna be more and more people fed up with it too. Its gonna be a long time before we can go back, maybe never. We need some money, we need some jobs, we need some houses, we’re not no children who need people looking after us, we got no need to be living like this.... They got people living like animals. And we ain’t gonna put up with it.”
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The actions of the Bush regime in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast amount to mass murder, whether by incompetence or design. This is an urgent situation, calling out for urgent action.
We remind all people that this regime illegitimately came to power in the first place through the disfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of Black voters. We remind all people that this regime contains highly placed officials and influential supporters with histories and viewpoints that are not only racist, but in some cases downright genocidal.
What happened in New Orleans indeed calls into question the whole history and nature of America and the national debate on this needs to rage. At the same time, New Orleans is also an extreme example of what the Bush regime in particular has meant for the masses of Black people in this country. None of this can be tolerated any longer. There cannot be three more years of what happened in New Orleans. There cannot be one more day. WE CANNOT WAIT!
The initiative of ordinary people in rescuing and supporting people at risk has been heroic. The outpouring of support from all walks of life shows where people’s hearts are. But we also need, very badly, RESISTANCE.
Therefore, we call on people to mount a massive movement to politically drive out the illegitimate Bush regime. We call on people everywhere to bring this demand out wherever you go, to build and support all actions aiming to do this, and in this way to not only defend the people from even worse horrors but to begin to build a movement that can change the course ofhistory.
At the same time, we call on all people to support and mount actions around the following demands on the government in the current crisis:
1) Intensify the rescue operations. Stop the repression of those volunteers who are attempting to rescue people.
2) Immediate and safe evacuation for all who want it. Provide support for all those wishing to remain in New Orleans. Stop the forced dispersal of people from the New Orleans area and provide assistance to people who wish to return.
3) Stop the killing and shooting of people attempting to meet their basic needs. Stop the demonization of Black people as “looters.” Stop the aggressive actions of the National Guard and Police. NOW. And an immediate apology from Bush for his “zero tolerance for ’looters’ ” remark which lent force to all this repression.
4) Stop the censorship of the people of the affected areas. Bring out the full truth of what is happening, what did happen and how this came to be. And hold those responsible for this criminally accountable.
5) Immediately end the racist slander coming out from politicians and the media!
* for identification purposes only
New Orleans: A Call to Resist!
P.O. Box 941
New York, NY 10002
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
After Hurricane Katrina, numerous actors, musicians, and singers have expressed their outrage and horror over the way the people have been treated..
At a benefit relief concert on NBC (Sept. 2), Kanye West went off-script with a blunt statement that made headlines: “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people!”
West also said:
“ I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a Black family, it says, ’They’re looting.’ You see a white family, it says, ’They’re looking for food.’ And, you know, it’s been five days because most of the people are black... We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way—and they’ve given them permission to go down and shoot us!”
NBC censored West’s remark about Bush and issued a statement distancing itself from him. Meanwhile, he received support from many people, including Jay-Z, Diddy, and Matt Damon (who said he cheered when he heard West’s statement).
Singer Celine Dion spoke with passionate anger and sorrow on CNN’s Larry King:
“You know, some people are stealing. And they’re making a big deal out of it... Oh, they’re stealing 20 pair of jeans or they’re stealing television sets. Who cares?!They’re not going to go too far with it. Maybe some of the people who do that they’re so poor they’ve never touched anything in their lives. Let them touch those things for once!”
Through tears she continued,
“How come it’s so easy to send planes in another country to kill everyone in a second, to destroy lives? I open the television, there’s people still there waiting to be rescued and for me it’s not acceptable.”
Irish actor Colin Farrell was quoted in the British Daily Mirror:
“If this had been a bunch of white people on the roofs of their houses I don’t have any fucking doubt there would have been every single helicopter, plane and means that the government has trying to help.”
Actor Pierce Brosnan (whose roles include James Bond) said, also in the Daily Mirror:
“This man called President Bush has a lot to answer for. I don’t know if he is really taking care of America. This government has been shameful.”
Wynton Marsalis,renowned jazz muscian and composer, said on Larry King Live:
“I want to say to the American people: It’s important to understand that this is a very profound moment in our history and it’s important for us to realize that our political leadership is not reflecting the will and the feelings of the American people.”
“[T]he whole history and legacy we had for polarization, using race and other issues, pointing fingers at each other, this was at the root of slavery, it was argued when the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence was being established, the Civil War, it was at the center of that, the Civil Rights movement. We’ve had a whole legacy of these things.”
At the September 2 concert, singer Aaron Neville sang a powerful rendition of “Louisiana 1927,” Randy Newman’s song about an earlier flood. Newman sang the same song in a telethon a week later, with its sharp and accusing chorus:
They’re tryin’ to wash us away
They’re tryin’ to wash us away."
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
This article was written by comrades working in the movement to drive out the Bush Regime.
It was split-screen America last week.
Bush visiting Louisiana, laughing and joking with his cronies, on one side of the screen; and thousands of people, mostly Black and mainly poor, forced into the Superdome to starve and die on the other.
Bush’s mother, chortling in Houston that the terrible ordeal “is working out very well” for the people on the one side; and Black people who were trying to walk out of the New Orleans Superdome being forced back into that hell by cops with guns on the other.
The real estate, oil and construction capitalists circling like vultures, already salivating at the profits to be had and planning how—and for whom—New Orleans would be rebuilt on one side; and the Black masses who lived there for generations being scattered across the country, with no provisions for work or security or basic needs, and no promise of resettlement into their homes on the other.
Over and over, people organized to help each other, and were ordered by the authorities to stop and disband—even at gunpoint. People joining to forage for water, food and medicine were portrayed as “gangs of looters” and even “tribes”—when they were often helping to keep large numbers of people alive. When people organized to bring diesel fuel into the flooded city for the generators of a still-functioning hospital—that fuel shipment was simply seized by authorities, leaving surgury patients to die. One large group of evacuees helped each other reach city -limits—only to be turned away and dispersed by sheriffs of the white suburb shooting over their heads, forcing them back into the flooded areas.
The pious talk about “we’re all Americans” on one side; and the slander, the utterly racist slander, 24-7 against those trying to provide for themselves and others left stranded in this disaster on the other.
Millions watched. Millions got boiling mad. Millions more asked why. And it’s all still unfolding, this “tale of two cities,” two countries, two universes. Whether this becomes a “spring of hope or winter of despair” has everything to do with what we—what you—what all of us decide to do about it.
The horror of Katrina comes on top of the Bush regime’s relentless antagonism toward African-Americans, beginning with the theft of the 2000 elections and taking off from there. It comes on top of its drive to discredit environmental scientists and tear up what few environmental regulations exist. It comes on top of the ongoing horrors of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, justified by lies and conducted with extreme brutality. It comes on top of their efforts to fill the courts with fascist judges, to “legalize” torture and to jail people without trials or lawyers. It comes on top of their use of the state to support extreme fundamentalist Christianity, to deny women the right to abortion and birth control, to demonize gay people, and to promote ignorance and intolerance generally. And all these keep going, with no signs of stopping!
The world cannot tolerate three more years of this.
For millions of people the very legitimacy of this regime and even the system as a whole—their supposed “right to rule”—has been called into question. The forces and ideas Bush represents have been politically weakened by this. We are in a unique moment—one that even some bourgeois commentators say may burst the current political ways of doing things and thinking wide open. And, in regard to driving out the Bush regime, that means two very crucial things:
One, the opening for people to actually drive this hated regime from office and stop this madness has gotten wider. The chance is there—if we throw everything we have into it—to politically mobilize millions into a determined force that can pry this burden off the backs of the people, here and around the world, and change the course of history in a positive direction.
Two, it is just that—a moment —and if we do not seize it, things will not stay the same, nor will they even revert to normal. Things will, almost certainly, get worse. Bush and Cheney and the rest like to talk about “evil,” but these monsters stand out in the pack for their relentless drive to keep their grip on power—and to use it against the people. They will, if they are not driven out, figure out the ways—whether it be through allowing another 9/11, or something equally horrific—to recoup their position and to reinforce their agenda, and to suppress and take revenge on the opposition that does exist.
Future generations would not forgive us if we allowed that to happen.
This regime has a whole package, a whole many-fronted offensive, that cannot be adequately dealt with piecemeal. Aiming for anything short of, anything less than, its ouster won’t do.
But in itself that would only be a beginning. For one thing—indeed, the biggest thing—the capitalist imperialist system that produced this regime would still be in place, with all its daily excruciations.
The outrages so glaringly on display in Katrina—the way in which the criminal centuries-old system of American white supremacy trapped the overwhelmingly Black people still in New Orleans in a hell with no means to escape, and then repressed them when they tried to get out; the way in which the blind rush for profit had trumped the needs of people more generally and prevented the adequate care of the environment; the utter callousness toward human life and the “every man for himself” mentality that was pushed onto people—all these flow out of capitalism and the rule of the capitalists.
People organizing themselves, caring for and helping others, was seen as a threat to the authorities—as dangerous and even criminal activity. The protection of private property and the rules of the whole order based on private property was enforced by guns—even at the cost of people’s lives.
What is even more criminal is that all these terrible things were and are totally unnecessary —humanity has the ability to provide meaningful labor to everyone, to take care of the environment, to prepare for natural disasters, and to do all this in a cooperative way. Humanity has created the productive forces—that is, the resources, the technology and the knowledge in people—to deal with all that and more. But under capitalism, these productive forces are owned and dominated by a relative handful, and can only be used to serve the accumulation of even more wealth by that handful. That raw fact stamps its brand on all of society, and especially the form of state power, which under capitalism will always serve and reflect and reinforce (through its control of the institutions and its monopoly on violence) the interests of the capitalists.
Bush represents a section of the imperialists which believes that the huge changes in society—in international relations, the economy, the social relations between people and their thinking—puts such great strains on the social fabric of American life that it makes necessary a much more repressive—a fascist —form of rule. They aim to clamp down with unprecedented repression on society in a period of great upheaval, and these hard-core supporters include many who are pushing for a full-blown theocratic fascism. Should they succeed, it will have dire consequences for hundreds of millions of people here and around the world, and for the revolutionary movement as well. At the same time, the radical and in many ways unprecedented character of what he’s trying to do makes it full of risk for the ruling class as a whole; it causes uncertainty and conflict, and creates the possibility of a full-scale revolutionary opening emerging— if there is a movement developed that can recognize and seize that opening when it occurs.
Right now the Bush regime is an extreme concentration of the capitalist system. They are in the driver’s seat of that system, but they are not the whole of it, and we have to bring that understanding to the millions now awakening to political life. The point is that at one and the same time we have to go all-out to drive out this regime. . . while we cannot for a minute rest content with that, and must bring the understanding of why that is so to millions.
To be clear, when we talk about a “moment,” we mean that right now—this fall—we must, through our actions in mobilizing millions, create a new dynamic in society, where masses of people are setting new terms for society: uncompromisingly demanding the ouster of this regime and taking increasingly determined actions to bring that into being. We are talking about a whole wave of agitation and different kinds of actions this Fall, in which the huge outpourings on November 2 will play a pivotal role. One measure: the November 2 actions must dominate the headlines on November 3.
We spoke earlier about the consequences of failure. And we talked about how, even if we succeed, there is the larger battle to replace this whole system.
But what if we succeed, in both launching this dynamic and then carrying it through? Even here, we should be sober. First, as the Call to November 2 says, “people who steal elections and believe they’re on a ’mission from God’ will not go without a fight.” And if the people do drive Bush from office, it is almost certain that the forces in the government, the military, and society at large that share Bush’s agenda would be fighting like hell to reassert their position and their whole agenda. So, yes, in very important ways this would be only the beginning.
But what a beginning it would be! Three huge differences would stand out from today. First, an independent mass movement of the people would have inflicted a major political defeat against the vicious agenda now in command, with its major representative brought down and the whole ruling class in a scramble. Second, there would be a politically energized and unleashed people, ready and able to take the struggle further. Yes, the struggle would get sharper—but for the first time it would actually be two-sided. And third, the numbers of people actively debating a different future, and within that, checking out and coming over to a revolutionary communist understanding, program and organization—which even today must be fostered in the course of all this work—would take a leap to a whole other level.
There is right now a tremendous amount of work to do to realize the immediate goal of truly setting in motion this dynamic—to make every day count for the massive outpouring that must come on November 2, uniting all kinds of people to powerfully raise the slogan of “The World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!” There is a huge gap between the level of public opinion and organization needed to accomplish this, and what right now exists. Even with beginning advances, the people are far from where they need to be on this and it will require extraordinary measures to get there.
To the people who quit their jobs or left school to work for Howard Dean—even though his program fell far short of what you wanted—now is the time to sacrifice for something that you actually believe in! People need to change their lives, now, to accomplish this. The fans have to get beyond cheering and booing, and come out of the stands and down onto the field to help the right team win.
To the people who hated the war and threw everything into getting Kerry elected—even though he supported the war—now is the time to work your hearts out for demands and values you actually support!
To the people who are heartsick watching the footage from Katrina or the pictures from Abu Ghraib but who console themselves with sugarplum visions of 2006 or 2008—there is not time for that! That has not worked and cannot work—change your lives in order to change history for real.
There are crucial things right now that everyone reading this can take up.
First, the demands raised by the August 31 Statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party must be met! (download the statement at revcom.us): At the government’s expense, people must get decent housing and care until they can safely return to their homes. Hotels, convention centers, and other buildings must be provided to people in need of shelter and there must be free communication for people to contact relatives. Immediately, there must be emergency medical care and measures to prevent massive epidemics and needless dying. Those charged with so-called looting must have their charges dropped. People must NOT be abandoned or allowed to die. All necessary resources, including mobilizing volunteers, must be brought to bear on this. And the government must not repress people who volunteer or prevent them from helping, but instead, must assist these efforts. And there must be no profiteering and speculation off people’s misery by the sharks of insurance companies, oil monopolies, real estate developers, and so on.
Second, work must be done in turn to link all that to the need to drive out this regime. The “wanted” poster advertised in this issue is extremely popular—it “draws blood” and it popularizes November 2, and it must go out and go up all over this country. The high schools and colleges and the streets and shops in proletarian areas must bristle with these posters. The “Wanted” T-shirts advertised in this issue of REVOLUTION should become hot items, worn by tens of thousands. This in its own right would make a hugely important political statement to the whole world, and would serve as well to build toward November 2.
Third, there is the battle to end the Iraq war. Those who are fighting for an immediate pullout must be supported and the September 24 demonstration in particular must be made into as powerful a demonstration as possible. At the same, the demand to drive out the regime as a whole should be stamped on those demonstrations, and people who go there must come out as organizing machines for this effort.
Fourth, November 2 committees must be built everywhere, right away, especially the campuses. There are thousands of things crying out to be done, and there are millions of untapped, unorganized, and very angry people who hunger to do something. People need to be quickly plugged in!
Finally, communism itself must be made a much bigger force in society. People are coming into political life, and they need more than anything a sense of the utter worthlessness of this whole system; of the possibility of a different kind of society, led by the proletariat; and of the leadership that exists to get them there. That can only come through getting out to people with the works of Bob Avakian, especially the DVD Revolution, and the memoir From Ike to Mao and Beyond, and this newspaper, as well as important projects like Setting the Record Straight and the RC4 tour.
We face a rare moment. In the words of Shakespeare:
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Seize the tide, and seize the time!
Main Event on October 1, 2005
Main Event on October 8, 2005
at The Lab, 1428 Fulton St. Brooklyn, (Corner of Bklyn Ave),
C train to Kingston-Throop Ave, or A to Nostrand Avenue.
More info on tour: rc4ny.blogspot.com
RC4 Tour ’05
PO Box 941
New York City, NY 10002-0900
Phone/Fax: 866-841-9139 x 2670
Build a Student Movement for November 2nd:
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The following is the text of the speech given by student organizer RJ Schinner at The World Can’t Wait national conference in New York City over the Labor Day weekend.
November 2—we’re calling on people to bust out of the normal way of doing things. To defy the constant refrains to “be realistic”—and to resist like the future depends on it.
Given all this, youth and students have a crucial role to play in shaking all this loose. In this movement to drive out the Bush regime, we won’t be telling the youth “that’s too far” or “did you get a permit?” Instead we will be struggling with youth to push things further and take more bold and determined action.
We are calling for walk-outs, student strikes, and campus shut-downs on November 2.
We’re putting a big challenge before a generation—to change their whole relationship to the world.
Before getting to our vision for November 2, let’s talk about the Bush regime’s vision and future for the youth.
They continue seeking to recruit youth into the military, and act like it’s a great honor to travel to Iraq, murder thousands of people, and torture people in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.
They are imposing a Christian fundamentalist culture, with complete obedience demanded from women (without even control of their own bodies), shoving gay people back into the closet (or worse), and using schools as a place for religious indoctrination rather than places to learn about and explore the world, and good ol’ traditional racism.
And they are working to silence dissent and critical thinking at colleges and universities. This means purges of progressive professors, brown shirt movements of Young Republicans, and fascist thugs like David Horowitz.
All this is part of a package they want to ram down our throats, and we must spit it out.
For the youth, the question of what kind of a future we will have is sharply put to us and needs to be answered with determination that we will not live in Bush’s nightmare.
There needs to be defiant resistance all across the country on November 2.
This needs to take shape in walkouts in high schools everywhere. This will need determination and courage to go up against the authorities, both at school and outside of school. And this determination needs to be infused with a more and more conscious opposition to the whole Bush program—like demanding to be taught evolution, refusing to be enchained by traditional morality, etc., and understanding that all these attacks are part of a whole package that needs to be taken on, not piece-by-piece but as a whole.
Colleges and universities have always played a key role in any resistance movement that has shaken things up. This is because students are in a position to act out—they’re exposed to new ideas (and ideas critical of the status quo), and have more freedom and ability to act on these ideas. And campuses in turn can have a big impact on the rest of society—in the battle over ideas, and the battle over the political direction of society. And when students stand up, this gives room to others to follow suit.
The Bush regime, from its standpoint, recognizes this and has been working to stop the emergence of a student movement. This is why they have fascist thugs like David Horowitz out there to purge the campuses of radical and progressive thought. This is why they’ve attacked Ward Churchill. This is why they’re trying to pass this so-called Academic Bill of Freedom and unleashed a brown shirt movement on campuses (with Young Republicans, Zionists, and Students for Academic Freedom). And already, they have created a fascist chill on campuses, with many professors “watching what they say” for fear of being turned in for criticizing the war on Iraq.
November 2 needs to put all this on the defensive. We need to put initiative and right on the side of those resisting all these injustices.
Right now, students need to take up the responsibility to be a catalyst in the movement to drive out the Bush regime, sparking resistance all throughout society. Campuses everywhere need to be turned into organizing centers for resistance. November 2 must polarize campuses—this day should be so big that no one can stay on the sidelines. This will provide more of a basis to win over people who have been so badly fooled by the Bush regime.
In envisioning what campuses should look like on November 2, we should be inspired by Paris ’68 or the wave of resistance on campuses in the U.S. when the U.S. bombed Cambodia, and seek to take things further than this. Simply put—there need to be student strikes, campus shut-downs, walkouts, and more. Everyday college life should grind to a halt and be replaced by massive resistance. To do this, we need to immediately make breakthroughs at key campuses, particularly Ivy League and elite universities, and campuses that set trends in activism and social change. This includes places like Colum-bia, Harvard, Berkeley, Oberlin, etc.
And we can’t accept the level of resistance as it is now. By negative example, let’s look at what happened at Antioch last year when the administration canceled Ward Churchill as its commencement speaker. While there was some criticism and anger from students, there was not a refusal to graduate without Ward Churchill. By no means was the resistance to this commensurate to what is needed right now. This is another illustration of what’s in the Call: “That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn—or be forced—to accept.” We cannot accept a situation where students at Antioch, a college known as a hotbed of radical ideas and actions, capitulate to this. We need to radically transform this situation, and urgently.
In bringing this vision into being, I want to emphasize one thing: The world can’t wait! In our organizing, we cannot wait for everything to fall into place, for X number of people, etc. We need to make bold plans and call for bold actions, and then go out and win people to take these up. We need a dynamic going where one campus declares to others: “Nov. 2—we’re shutting down our campus that day: what about you?” Where a group of high school students calls for a city-wide walkout and challenges everyone to step up. This would not be a bad thing to have some competition over!
And this resistance needs to reach out to the “red states”—so youth who feel alienated and isolated can get heart and backbone from a massive resistance movement, and take action themselves.
All this must be our vision for November 2 among youth and students, and we must urgently work to bring this into being immediately.
Contact the youth organizers of The World Can’t Wait at firstname.lastname@example.org or 347-693-3319. Keep up with the latest news at worldcantwait.org/together/youth.php
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Revolution received this report from the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade-NYC about building for World Can’t Wait and distributing our paper at one of the major “elite” universities—Columbia.
On Wednesday, September 9, a few of us went to Columbia University to start three days of saturation there. Our goal was after three days, by Saturday, to have a core of people organizing at the university around World Can’t Wait and seriously preparing to turn that place into something very different.
We got out 5,000 “World Can’t Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!” calls. We were there for about 3.5 hours—and there are only like 18,000 kids at the college all together!
Above those numbers we got very good contacts and were (two days ahead of schedule) able to pull together people to try and forge a core of leaders at the school to take up organizing this effort...
How: We went to the school with little information. We knew no groups, had no contacts, no one who went to the school was with us. We knew that school was in session, and we knew that we would likely be kicked off campus very quickly if we went on.
Four of us went. At any given time there were three to four people together, never more, at the main gate outside of the school, and set up some big visuals posters of WCW, and the “wanted” posters from Revolution newspaper. We laid out a lot of material, came up with a division of labor: some people distributing the newspaper, some handing out flyers, an agitator, and contact-getter. One person got on a box of flyers and agitated, and people began to stream by.
At first the traffic was low; then after about a half hour to an hour of being outside the gate, a student from the ISO and CAN (campus anti-war) came over and invited us into the speak-out they were having on the heart of campus. They said that we could bring all our materials and set up shop. So we did.
So we came onto campus where the students had a permit, and a megaphone.
They allowed us to use the megaphone and agitate; we did not bogart the megaphone, but we probably could have utilized it more. Our visual presence helped, the loud bold way we approached people was great, but frankly the main reason that we were successful is because we were laying out the situation to people, and telling them they had a huge role in changing that, that they needed to GET ORGANIZED. It was important to tell students what the stakes were, how the world was quickly changing, concretely how refusing to be ruled, becoming ungovernable, would really change that situation. We boldly said we need student strikes NOW, we need marches today, and we even tried to gather students for a march that day, but could not get the forces.
Off of having the opportunity to be on campus, we mapped out where and when students were around, and saw that it was not very hard to reach them, as long as we stayed mobile, we could have easily come onto campus and gotten to lots of students. We have a clear plan on what needs to happen today, in that we deeply want to continue to saturate the campus with flyers, bring people forward to start organizing their classes, make announcements, and hand flyers to people they DO NOT KNOW. We want to gather more forces for this meeting tomorrow.
Things to do better: We still need to bring students on board more and have them organize on the spot. We could do a better job of really explaining that we cannot fight all of the horrors of the Bush Regime one at a time. This would make a lot of sense to students, and explain why we need more than just an anti-war group.
There is this thing in the “Choose a Life that Matters” editorial from Revolution newspaper that is very striking that should be brought out more: students are always asked what they want to be when they get older, but they are not asked what kind of world they want to live in, and what role they can play in making that world possible. We have to be with students, breaking them out of thinking that their role is some small-time thing. We have to have them see that they are the makers of history.
We are going to students and telling them that the future is at stake, the world is spiraling toward a high-tech dark ages, and if we don’t step up to start writing history, the Bush regime will continue to write it. We need to pose the needs more starkly to the masses of people, pose how they can come up to meet those needs. There is no sugar-coating this, people need to get involved and lay it on the line. We need to be giving stacks of flyers, and newspapers, and whatever else we have, but we need to do this and much more. There is a terrible need in society, and we have to enable the masses of people to meet it, explain to them how to do this; what becoming ungovernable could mean to the ability and legitimacy of this regime to rule the people. I would say that we are getting better at this, and that was key in us making a leap, and it will remain key. We need to respect people as serious potential organizers.
Fundraising. In our mad dash to get contacts we lost sight of the fundraising aspects for WCW. It may have been overall right to focus on bring people forward for the core, but we have a need of money, and we should not be afraid of posing that need to the masses. This problem is not just our problem, it belongs to the people.
(Note from Revolution—on their second day on campus, one of the youth got arrested. The next day, an article appeared on the front page of the Columbia University paper criticizing the school for “silencing anti-Bush speech.”)
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Cindy Sheehan is currently on the Bring Them Home Now Tour along with other anti-war organizers. They are taking three different routes across the U.S. from Texas to Washington, DC for a major antiwar protest on September 24. The tour is going to 51 cities in 25 days. To get more info check out bringthemhomenowtour.org.
On August 6 Cindy Sheehan made the decision to go to Crawford, Texas and set up camp outside of George Bush’s ranch there. Bush was taking a month-long vacation all during August.
Cindy Sheehan’s son Casey was a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq in April 2004. She demanded that Bush meet with her to explain why he lied about the reasons for going to war in Iraq. Cindy Sheehan vowed to camp outside Bush’s ranch until he met with her.
Cindy Sheehan’s actions gave rise to massive questioning of the U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. Her protest served to drag all Bush’s lies regarding the Iraq war once again into the light of day.
In one major show of support, over 100,000 people held more than 1,600 candle-light vigils across the country, in support of Cindy Sheehan’s efforts. There were other protests inspired by her actions—including “sister encampments” in New York and San Francisco.
On the other side, attack dogs like David Horowitz wrote on his blog,
“She has joined forces with an Unholy Alliance on the other side in the epic battle for freedom in the Middle East and has shown that she will do and say anything to discredit the United States and its commander-in-chief—acts which serve the enemy and endanger American lives.”
Bill O’Reilly said on his show, The O’Reilly Factor, that she
“has thrown in with the most radical elements in this country” and “other American families who have lost sons and daughters in Iraq...feel that this kind of behavior borders on treasonous.”
Cindy Sheehan, however, answered back by being increasingly unrepentant in her call to meet with Bush. When asked by Bill Maher what she would say to Bush if he did meet with her she responded,
“I was going to call him on his lies and hold him accountable for his lies.” She also told Maher, “If he had come down the road on Saturday none of this would have happened, but I’m glad he didn’t meet with me cause I’m glad all this happened, it’s amazing and wonderful and we’ve jump-started the peace movement and we’re going to end the war a lot sooner.”
Cindy received attacks from other quarters as well, including some liberals who tried to dismiss what she had done and the kind of response it garnered as “bumper sticker politics.” The essential thrust of their disagreement with Sheehan was that she was seeking to mobilize the people in the U.S., while they saw this as meaningless because she wasn’t relying on the normal workings of the U.S. political system. (See Revolution newspaper contributor Larry Everest’s piece “After Cindy Sheehan” at notinourname.net/war/after-cindy-1sep05.htm)
Cindy’s actions actually prove very powerfully that tens of millions hate this war and want to stop it. It also shows what effect independent historical action can have in society.
Cindy Sheehan made a bold move and should be commended for her actions. We must now bring forward expressions of resistance to the war on an even grander scale as part of a larger movement to drive out the Bush regime.
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
As Hurricane Katrina pounded and devastated the Gulf Coast, many people wondered if global warming had anything to do with this disaster. Because of wide variation in weather, it’s difficult to determine whether any one storm—or series of storms and other extreme weather events in a particular place over a period of time—is definitely the result of global warming. But there is a well-known link between global weather and the production and intensity of storms. And scientists say that a warming globe will increase the severity of storms and other weather extremes.
Whatever role global warming played in relation to Katrina, this problem poses an acute danger for the planet. At the beginning of the 21st century, there are huge concentrations of wealth and productive forces and unprecedented technology and scientific know-how. But all this is monopolized by a handful who use it to amass more profit and power at the expense of people’s lives. And this blind pursuit of profit by imperialism is causing immense damage to the planet’s environment and ecosystems.
Nowhere does the danger stand out more sharply than in relation to global warming.
Global warming is caused by the massive burning of fossil fuels (like oil and coal) and wood, as well as deforestation that result in the release of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and other “greenhouse gases.”
The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases. With 4% of the world’s population, the U.S. produces a quarter of the world’s CO2. But despite the horrible threat to humanity from even existing levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the Bush regime intends to vastly expand the burning of fossil fuels and is actively opposing a scientific approach to this planetary problem.
A 2001 study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that without major reduction of greenhouse gases, the earth will warm 2.5-10.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.4-5.8 Celsius) between 1990 and 2100. Other scientific studies predict that the global warming trend may be even higher—as much as 19.7 degrees F.
Global warming is already causing alarming environmental changes. To name a few: Glaciers and ice sheets are melting. Island nations and coastal villages are being worn away through rising sea levels and storm surges. The ranges of many plant and animal species are shifting northward and to higher altitudes.
Scientific research reveals that global warming is likely causing more extreme weather. A 2003 study by the World Meterological Organization said, “New record [weather] events occur every year somewhere in the globe, but in recent years the number of such extremes have been increasing.” A recent study in the scientific journal Nature found a 50% increase in strength of hurricanes in the world and linked this to global warming.
The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) released in Nov. 2004 said that the Arctic region is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Over the past 30 years, annual sea-ice has decreased by 8%—equal to an area larger than Texas and Arizona combined. The study predicts that at least half of the summer sea ice in the Arctic, as well as a big part of the Greenland ice sheet (world’s second largest), will melt by the end of the century.
Scientists differ on the pace of these changes. One NASA climate scientist predicts the Greenland ice sheet could begin to disintegrate within decades if greenhouse emissions aren’t controlled. Others say this would take longer. The melting of the whole sheet would raise the sea level by 23 feet and cause catastrophic flooding worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of people. Large parts of low-lying countries like Bangladesh and many major cities could end up under water.
Even limited rises in sea level are already causing and will cause more flooding and even total inundation of island nations and coastal areas where millions of people live worldwide.
For example, the island nation of Tuvalu in the south Pacific, home to 11,000 people, is threatened with decimation from rising seas and increasing storm surges. People living on the island are being moved bit by bit to New Zealand.
The melting of ice sheets and glaciers in the north are not only effects of global warming—they can also further accelerate global warming and other climate changes.
One example is the “albedo effect.” Snow and ice reflect the sun’s heat much more than water. So as ice sheets and snow melt and turn into water on a large scale, the energy from the sun is more readily absorbed, further heating the oceans and earth.
Also, ice in permanent sheets pushes out the salt from its structure over years, and the salty water sinks into the ocean. This sinking of salty water in the Arctic is a main source of “thermohaline circulation”—a process that is responsible for a global conveyor belt in the oceans whereby warmer waters from the equator flow northward and moderate climates. Massive melting of ice sheets can slow or stop thermohaline circulation, causing rapid and unpredictable climate changes.
The warming in the Arctic is already affecting the people and animal and plant life in the region. The Inuit people are now seeing, for the first time, southerly species (like robins) that they have never even had names for in their language.
Many animal and plant species are able to survive in their ecosystems only within a narrow range of temperatures. So with global climate change, the phenomena of major and unpredictable changes in the range and survivability of species will spread to other regions.
The more scientists learn about the real evidence and dangers of global warming, the more they are sounding the alarm about the need to act immediately. The evidence is clear that global warming is accelerating, with potentially catastrophic effects to ecosystems and humanity on a world scale. The environmental future of our planet is hanging in the balance—and the system of capitalism that is at the root of these developments is fundamentally incapable of dealing with this threat to humanity.
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
“We submit respectfully that the willful destruction of entire countries and cultures, with foreknowledge, would represent an unspeakable crime against humanity. No nation has the right to place its own, misconstrued national interest before the physical and cultural survival of whole countries.”
Kinza Clodumar, former President of the Pacific Island nation of Nauru, which is threatened with destruction from the rising sea level caused by global warming
Scientists around the world speak with a near unanimous voice that there will be impending environmental disasters if global greenhouse gas emissions—the cause of global warming—are not drastically cut. Yet, at this very critical time, George Bush and his regime are on a mission to vastly expand the use of oil, gas, and coal—and to strengthen U.S. imperialist control over these resources through war. They have sought to lie and cover up the facts and evidence about global warming in order to systematically confuse and misinform the public. And they are systematically working to undermine international negotiations or treaties on cutting back greenhouse gases.
The following is a brief outline of some of the Bush regime’s criminal actions around global warming.
´ In 2001 Bush pulled the U.S. out of the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Even if thoroughly implemented, the Kyoto cuts by themselves would not be enough to stop the rising global warming. But Bush wouldn’t even agree to this. State Department documents revealed that a key player in the Bush administration’s policy on Kyoto was the Global Climate Coalition, an oil industry lobby dominated by ExxonMobil.
´ At a 2004 UN conference in Argentina on climate change, U.S. officials first blocked serious negotiations and then refused to even hold substantive talks in the future.
´ In June 2005 the UK Observer revealed that the U.S. had made “extraordinary efforts” to delete any meaningful language on the human causes or dangers in relation to global warming in a communiqué before this year’s G8 (the world’s eight top capitalist states) summit in Scotland.
´ Directly contradicting the facts, Bush’s Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky recently claimed, “Science tells us that we cannot say with any certainty what constitutes a dangerous level of warming and therefore what level must be avoided.”
´ The Bush strategy on global warming reflects a 2003 memo on environmental issues by Republican strategist Fank Luntz. In a section of the memo titled “Winning the Global Warming Debate,” Luntz wrote, “The scientific debate is closing (against us) but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science. Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming in the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly.”
´ In June 2003 Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality cut or weakened references to human causes of global warming and its dangers in an Environmental Protection Agency draft report on the environment. The EPA then deleted all mention of global warming from the report.
´ In June 2005, the New York Times revealed that the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Phillip Cooney, repeatedly rewrote government reports to underplay the danger of global warming. As a lawyer for the American Petroleum Institute—a leading lobby for the oil industry—Cooney had opposed international agreements and EPA regulations that put limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Then Cooney was hired by the Bush administration to help supervise the EPA and government environmental policy. After the Times article, Cooney resigned from the White House position—and went to work for ExxonMobil.
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The following is from A World to Win News Service:
September 5, 2005. A World to Win News Service. Rolpa, Nepal. With political power in their hands, today tens of thousands of people of Rolpa in Western Nepal are building a major road in difficult terrain. Rolpa is a backward area of the country far away from the capital of Kathmandu and the country’s other main economic and tourist centers. Ever since this region was incorporated into the kingdom of Nepal by force in the mid-18th century, the central authorities have done nothing to raise the living standards of the people. At the heart of this region is the district of Rolpa, home to 70,000 peasants who eke out a living in subsistence farming in the foothills of the Himalayas. While Rolpa includes people of several nationalities, most of the people are part of the Magar nationality. Their language has nothing in common with the official language Nepali. Since their fields can’t grow enough grain to feed the people all year long, many men must spend half the year working in neighboring India for little more than a dollar a day, from which they must deduct their expenses. Women do most of the cultivation of maize, wheat, and barley.
In recent years Rolpa has become more known around the world as the center of the insurgency led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). Although the people of Rolpa have had to bear the brunt of the Royal Nepal Army’s attacks, the atmosphere among the people is exciting and uplifting. The women and men in Rolpa are aroused in a way far too rare in today’s world, standing tall and daring to take their future into their own hands. For many this means participation in the revolutionary war that has grown by leaps and bounds since it started in 1996. But as the revolutionaries in Nepal stress, the insurrection they are waging is not just a military battle—it is a People’s War, an all-out mobilization of the peasants, workers, students and others to fight in every sphere against a decrepit semi-feudal regime headed by a king who claims to be god’s incarnation on earth.
Now all observers agree that the great majority of the Nepalese countryside has been liberated from the control of the king’s regime. Already major transformations have taken place in the lives of the people. Two of the most important of these are the uprooting of the barbaric, age-old caste system and enabling women to take an active part in all aspects of society, abolishing child marriage, and so forth. The revolution now is facing a great challenge: to begin to construct an economic system based on the self-reliant actions of the people, an economy that is not tied into the world system of imperialism and which begins to break down the inequalities and injustices that have long existed in Nepal.
One factor that has kept Nepal backward both economically and culturally has been the inability of the peasants in areas like Rolpa to communicate and trade with any but their most immediate neighbors. There are virtually no roads in the hill regions of Nepal, and this lack is one of the most deeply felt needs of the people. Previous governments in Nepal have done almost nothing to build roads. This means, for example, that peasants can’t trade their apples, which grow well in the hillsides of Rolpa, for much-needed grain. It makes it very difficult to get sick people to a hospital. It means that except for those who are forced to travel to India for work, many people have never been to neighboring districts.
Rolpa is the center of the Magarat Autonomous Region, so named because the majority of the population are Magars, one of the many nationalities in Nepal that have long been oppressed by the central authorities. Under the party’s leadership, the Autonomous Region and a people’s government were formed in a mass meeting of 75,000 people in this area in January 2004. Things are beginning to change. A bold decision was made to build a 92 km (57 mile) road through the heart of Rolpa. AWTW News Service had a chance to interview the leader of the Magarat Autonomous Region, Samtosh Buddha Magar, a long-time leader of the people’s resistance in Rolpa.
Samtosh explained that the road is being built relying on the peasantry itself. Families are mobilized to send one person to work for 15 days, or for 10 days in the case of those living in districts farther away where it can take several days of walking just to reach the construction sites. The people have no earth-moving equipment, and the one and only jackhammer broke down. Instead they are using picks and shovels and occasional dynamite to dig the road out of the hills. In particular there is the challenge of building about a hundred bridges, including 15 major ones. The road is wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other comfortably. While motorized vehicles have already started on 14 kilometers (about 9 miles) of the gravel-surfaced road, the most immediate benefit will be the ability to use horses more extensively, not to mention that even foot traffic is much easier than on the hillside trails. Samtosh stressed that, in addition to the immediate economic benefits of the road, it will serve to “change people’s concepts. The feudal outlook still exists. Anything new changes people’s outlook. The road is the main connection to the city, which is a vehicle of culture.”
The fact that the people are building a road with little more than their hands and backs is a source of great pride throughout the region. The people have named it “Martyrs Road” in honor of those who have fallen in the revolutionary war. While previous governments have done nothing for the benefit of the people, the phenomenal progress of the road—35 percent was built in the first six months, when originally the Maoist leaders had thought three years would be needed for the whole project—is an example of what can be accomplished once the enthusiasm and capacities of the laboring people have been unleashed. It is living proof that there is another road of development that does not require the aid or supervision of the imperialist countries and which can really serve the interests of the people.
The tens of thousands of volunteers who are taking turns building the road is itself a major political event in the life of the whole region. Most come as part of a group from one or another village or mass organization. They are asked to bring their own food to keep from overwhelming the resources of people in the immediate area. Food is provided by the home local organizations for those they send who are too poor to provide their own.
One middle-aged poor peasant of the Tharu nationality in the Dang Valley, a fertile farm area south of Rolpa near the Indian border, had just returned from working on the road for eight days (and spending several days walking to get there and return). It was the first time in his life he had been in the hilly region of the country. He commented on the great experience of working with different nationalities from all over western Nepal. “It was so much fun, it didn’t feel like work at all.” His group had included several dozen people from the local peasant association who had organized their food collectively.
It seems that most of the volunteers are men, reflecting the fact that women with children have less mobility. Despite this, many women participate in different ways in the road project and are no less enthusiastic over the importance of the project.
Already simple signs of commerce are seen along the road—a small country store, people transporting goods, renting out horses, and so on. Transportation is crucial to economic and cultural development, which was long undermined by the reactionary system. It is easy to see how this kind of economic development could facilitate the emergence of capitalism in a backward, semi-feudal country like Nepal. At the same time, the road project is a profound illustration of Mao Tsetung’s description of the “new democratic revolution” aimed at feudalism, imperialism, and bureaucrat capitalism (meaning the largest capitalists linked to foreign imperialists and landlords). Mao points out that the new democratic revolution “opens the door for capitalism. But it opens the door for socialism even wider.” In other words, by sweeping aside the backwardness of feudalism and the chains of imperialism a national capitalism can develop, but the leadership of the communist party and the working class can lead the energy unleashed by the masses in a different direction—toward the construction of a socialist society and eventually to a communist world. It is easy to read in the faces of the road volunteers that they are motivated by more than just the promise of immediate economic benefit. The possibility of building an economic and social system based on cooperation and self-reliance, without exploitation, is coming into closer focus.
For the revolutionary leaders, the road is also “a self examination,” as Samtosh put it, “to see if the people come when we call them. To see if we can fulfil a plan. What can we do if we have total power?”
The first results of this “examination” are more than satisfactory. As Samtosh said, “We have great confidence that we can do something if we have power. There is the confidence of the masses themselves. Even without full nationwide power, look what we are doing.”
by Li Onesto
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Newsday, a liberal newspaper in New York, recently ran a special nine-part series by Matthew McAllester on the Maoist revolution in Nepal (August 14-17, 2005). Like recent articles in Harper’s 1 magazine and Rolling Stone, McAllester echoes the U.S. State Department, arguing that the Maoist revolution is a horrible and totalitarian thing that must be stopped at all costs. And like most mainstream coverage of the People’s War in Nepal, this Newsday series is based on disinformation, outright lies, and extreme anti-communist hysteria.
There is much to expose about this series and McAllester should really be forced to publicly debate and defend this rather crude piece of reactionary “journalism.” But right now, I want to focus on McAllester’s attack on the revolutionary road being built by the Maoists in Rolpa.
As A World to Win News Service reports, tens of thousands of people have been involved in building a much-needed roadway to be known as Sahid Marg, Martyr’s Highway ( Rolpa, Nepal: Building the road to the future). King Gyanendra’s Royal Army has tried many times to disrupt this project—dropping bombs from helicopters and firing on people working on the road.
But as a 75-year-old man working on the road said, “The new [Maoist] regime has responded to our sentiments, and has tried to make our dreams real, so we are ready even to give our blood for this great campaign.”
This kind of revolutionary enthusiasm and sacrifice is something McAllester can’t understand and cynically attacks. After talking to people in Rolpa he claims this project is nothing but “forced labor.” His capitalist outlook of dog-eat-dog individualism can’t comprehend how people would walk for two days to do volunteer work and that some people would do this, even though the road is “not even routed through their village.” To his way of thinking, if someone is working for no money, if someone is helping to build something that doesn’t directly benefit them—then this must be coercive, forced labor.
When “old women, young men, -mothers, grandfathers, boys and girls” tell him they “were only too happy to help the region’s development,” McAllester can only respond by claiming these people are “repeating a party mantra.” With such cynical contempt for the people McAllester cannot believe—even when he sees it with his own eyes—that the masses of people can consciously remake themselves and the world around them.
McAllester warns that “The scene on the Martyrs Road is a snapshot of what Nepal might look like if the Maoist insurgents ever came to power...” and then talks about how the Maoists could turn Nepal “into the world’s next killing fields.” He doesn’t offer a shred of evidence to support this but poses the question, if the Maoists win, will they “spill oceans of blood”? He hopes this will convince people of the “horror” of communist rule. But what horrifies McAllester is the fact that the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) now controls most of Nepal’s countryside and that they are leading millions of people to radically transform their economic, political, and cultural life.
The Maoist revolution in Nepal is bringing into being a whole new revolutionary way of thinking and acting—a revolutionary spirit where thousands of poor peasants are willing to sacrifice their very lives to get rid of the system oppressing them; where people are consciously working to bring into being a whole new way of running society; where people are working together to redistribute the land, get rid of women’s oppression, abolish caste distinctions and give equality to oppressed national minorities.
As a schoolteacher working on Martyr’s Road said,
“If the Maoists seize power centrally, I believe that within ten years Nepal will be changed dramatically. The work the Maoists have initiated in the base areas involving agriculture, industry, education and health is novel, scientific and positive. One cannot underestimate this great work...”
1 See: “Refutation of Harper’s Article on the Maoists in Nepal—Telling Lies in Kathmandu” by Li Onesto, Revolution #7, June 26, 2005, posted at revcom.us
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
The Bush regime has recently been caught in one of the many horrendous crimes its faith-based abstinence-only programs are committing around the world. The story of Uganda provides us with a chilling look at what these policies are doing to human beings—and what the Bush regime aims to continue doing.
It’s a basic, proven scientific fact condoms do prevent the spread of STDs, and they mean the difference between life and death for millions of people around the world. In spite of that, a March report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented that in Uganda, U.S-funded programs tell students the deadly lie that the HIV virus can pass through condoms, and that religious groups had forced any other mention of condoms out of the textbooks. Teachers told HRW that they’d been told by U.S. contractors not to mention condoms to their students.
A 2002 Congressional amendment mandates that any recipients of U.S. HIV prevention money must emphasize abstinence over condoms. In Uganda alone, 8 million dollars of U.S. funds is going to abstinence-only programs, many of them carried out by openly Christian Fascist organizations in Uganda with ties to U.S. Christian Fascists. (One group, led by the wife of Uganda’s president, is trying to enforce virginity censuses on the population; another actively prayed for Bush’s re-election.)
Christian Fascists love to claim Ugnda as a model for their “Abstinence, Be Faithful, Use Condoms” policy. From 1991 to 2001, the rate of HIV-positive people in the population went down to 6 percent from 15 percent. Focus on the Family’s web site falsely claims that this drop was caused by increased abstinence and not by condom use—when in fact condom use by men went from 2% to 22% between 1989 and 1995. Now that condoms have come under attack, HIV-positive rates have begun once again to rise.
And the nail in the coffin—literally—is the way they flat-out deny lifesaving condoms to people at risk of contracting HIV. Over the years, U.S.-funded programs in Uganda have moved away from giving condoms to anyone but prostitutes and soldiers—their morality denies men and women the right to safely engage in sex, but defends the right of men to safely exploit women and treat them as sex objects.
And now, condoms are just disappearing from the country. In August, the AIDS activist group the Center for Health and Gender Equity issued a report stating that since last October only 32 million condoms had been distributed in Uganda—a country with a population of 25 million people. This means slightly over one condom per person per year —a completely worthless number that means that millions of people are at risk of AIDS. Condoms are no longer available at many of the free distribution sites, and the price of condoms in stores has risen by more than 300 percent. Men have resorted to using garbage bags to protect themselves.
What is the actual effect of robbing millions of people the knowledge or the ability to protect themselves from AIDS in a country where more than 1 in 20 people are infected? What is the actual effect of this morality, enforced and funded by the Bush regime, that essentially dooms to death anyone who dares to stray outside of narrow Biblical dictates for human sexual behavior?
Revolution #014, September 18, 2005, posted at revcom.us
“Today we place criminals in penitentiaries—places of confinement in which the offender is supposed to become penitent or sorry for his sins [note: not just crimes but ’sins’]....Society must pay for the anguish suffered by the victims of crime, then pay again each year to hold the criminal in prison, a cost equivalent to an Ivy League college education. The biblical model is far wiser. The perpetrator of lesser crimes was returned to society where he was made to make restitution to his victim. The hard-core, habitual criminal was permanently removed from society through capital punishment. In neither case was society doubly victimized as we are today.”
“In ancient Israel, it was believed that blood shed in murder would defile the land and that shedding the blood of a killer was restitution to the land.”
“Those who were considered incorrigible, who had committed unseemly acts that turned Israel against God or destroyed the fabric of society, had only one alternative—capital punishment. Through capital punishment, society was rid of that offense, and the land was cleansed of evil.”
(Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions by Pat Robertson, cited in (and annotation from)
“The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy...And Why Clinton and the Democrats Are No Answer” by Bob Avakian)
I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he [Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez] thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.
(700 Club Broadcast, Christian Broadcast Network, August 22, 2005)
“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”
(1992 GOP Convention)
Rev. Jerry Falwell right after Sept. 11 attacks: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say: ’You helped this happen.’
Pat Robertson’s reply: “Well, I totally concur.”
(CBN, Sptember 13, 2001)
“There is no such thing as separation of church and state in the Constitution. It is a lie of the Left and we are not going to take it anymore.”
(November 1993 address to the American Center for Law and Justice).
“Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It’s no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history.”
(Interview with Molly Ivins, 1993)