Revolution #559, September 3, 2018 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Posted September 4, 2018

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/559/the-three-purposes-of-the-funerals-of-john-mccain-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

The Three Purposes of the Funerals of John McCain

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The past 10 days have seen an extraordinary spectacle around the death of Senator John McCain. The press gave a remarkable celebration of McCain’s entire life and character and implicitly, as well as in some instances explicitly, contrasted this with Trump. There was a weeklong series of commemorations, in different parts of the country. McCain himself planned his own funeral right down to the music. The biggest thing of all was McCain’s refusal to invite Trump to participate AND his invitations—delivered personally—to Barack Obama and George W. Bush (who each had serious differences with McCain and still have real and sharp differences with each other) to give the principal speeches. These speeches themselves, without mentioning Trump by name, drew very sharp and all-but-explicit contrasts with him.

What was going on here? Why did it happen? And what is its significance for the interests of humanity? Three things in those regards:

1) The Celebration of a War Criminal, the Reversal of Correct Verdicts

If you tuned in to the media last week, there could be no escaping “the saga of John McCain.” A rowdy in high school, he then went into the Navy and flew combat missions above Vietnam. After flying 23 of those missions, he was shot down. He was, by his account, tortured in the prisons of Vietnam. This, we were told, tempered him and he came back a man dedicated to serving his country.

What is wrong with this picture? The war in Vietnam was a criminal enterprise in which the United States slaughtered over three million people who were basically fighting for national self-determination and against American domination. As was exposed at the time, the missions flown by people like McCain not only bombed military installations but hospitals, schools, and all kinds of civilian targets. Far more bombs were dropped on Vietnam than by all sides in the entirety of World War 2, and these bombs wreaked horrific damage. In addition, the U.S. dropped the defoliant Agent Orange, which had the effect of depriving people of food and poisoning the countryside for generations—resulting in birth defects and deaths to this day.

How is any of this heroic or anything other than despicable? In actual fact, people like John McCain were war criminals. Many, many people once knew that, in part because some of the soldiers who participated in that war came back to tell the truth about what they had done. But many of those who did once know this have either “forgotten” it or had their understanding sanded down by the relentless campaigns of the ruling class (including through lionizing unapologetic war criminals like McCain), and many younger people have no real idea. So one part of the celebration of McCain was to hammer in a different and very wrong verdict on that war: that “fighting in Vietnam was right and noble and opposing the war was wrong, nothing more to be said.”

2) Seeking to Define the Acceptable Parameters of Resistance

These commemorations, ceremonies, and press campaigns were, in part at least, aimed at defining for the anti-Trump masses HOW one should approach the resistance, other injustices, and life in general. Trump’s selfishness, greed, open racism, misogyny, and crude chauvinism was endlessly (sometimes openly, sometimes not) contrasted with what was portrayed as “McCain’s life of sacrifice, risk, and work for country.” The point very explicitly being made, over and over again and in the entire symbolism and ceremony surrounding McCain’s death, was that there was nothing better you could do or aspire to than to dedicate yourself to a life of service (whether military, government, or in civic life) and serve country and flag with principle and integrity, defend the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and all the institutions that have made America “great” and contributed to its primacy in the world... that Trump is trampling on. To translate, by all means hate and oppose what Trump is and what he represents—but do so only on the basis of über-patriotism and loyal service to this oppressive empire!

3) A Clarion Call to Whatever Ruling Class Figures Could Be Enlisted to “Rescue the Republic”

This is the most significant, and likely the driving force behind the elements of this McCain memorial campaign. Clearly McCain himself saw it that way, in the ways he very consciously set up the entire thing. McCain was issuing not just a final rebuke to Trump but even more so, a clarion and bipartisan call to all those in ruling circles who could be brought to stand publicly against Trump: by attending the funeral to which Trump was pointedly NOT invited; by setting aside their partisan differences on this day for a higher purpose; and in doing so giving collective voice to McCain’s agenda of rallying all who could be rallied (in ruling circles) to do something about Trump, to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and defend all the traditional norms, values, policies, and institutions that, as McCain would likely have said, have served America so well and for so long, and the propagation of which has served America’s dominant position in the world especially since the end of World War 2.

Every single ruling class figure who spoke—and this included people like Henry Kissinger, former Vice President Joe Biden, and others—made generally indirect but crystal clear allusions to how unacceptable the current president and his policies are (and this was reinforced in media coverage). McCain’s distraught daughter extensively memorialized her father through personal anecdotes and copious tears but went stone cold and dry-eyed in an instant when she proclaimed the anti-Trump takeaway point of the day: “The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America’s always been great!”—which was met with thunderous applause echoing through the National Cathedral.

What a remarkable parade of ghouls rising to the defense of this monstrous system and its particular expression in U.S. imperialism! Kissinger—whose list of crimes in the service of U.S. imperialism stretches from turning Indochina into an even worse slaughterhouse to supporting and conniving with bloody military coups, tyrants, and thugs in Latin America, southern Africa, and the Middle East—spoke of a much needed moment of unity and of the importance of law, and of honor. Bush spoke of “swaggering despots and bigots” and everyone knew who he was talking about. Obama made clear his tremendous differences with McCain but used this as a call to set aside differences to stand together because “we are all on the same team” against what was clearly understood to be a greater danger to their system.

There was much talk about how McCain truly believed all men are created equal; how he cared about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the rule of law, the separation of powers, the importance of a free press and of immigration reform... and that he urged the present “parade of noble statesmen” (!) to recognize that, to quote Obama, “some principles transcend politics, some values transcend party”; that McCain, like JFK and Reagan before him, understood that “all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”

We should recognize, as we have sharply brought to light here and elsewhere on revcom.us, what is the ugly reality of this system as well as the limitations of bourgeois democratic ideals. Yet, that same scientific approach should also lead us to understand that the proclamation of these ideals by a section of the ruling class who are opposing Trump and his program is not mere hypocrisy, but are for some deep and sincerely held beliefs.

They believe and seek to rally their class (including a core instrument of their rule, the military, which was in full effect at McCain’s funeral), as well as the people more broadly, to their real conviction that the system of capitalism/imperialism is the best possible system, that the United States is the best country in the world, that it fully deserves to be #1 in the world, and that its institutions and foundational values are so inherently superior that they can serve as a beacon and model for all of humanity, and that it is therefore completely justified to defend these institutions and values and spread them throughout the world—by “moral example” when possible but certainly by aggressive force whenever necessary!

That we have seen such a “unified”—at least for a moment—pageant of this viewpoint, in opposition to what the Trump/Pence regime represents to what has been the dominant section of rulers at the top of this system, who see in Trump''s regime only disaster for their system, is further compelling evidence that this is a deep and serious fight—not just over policy but over what principles are needed to cohere, protect, and project their empire. Such sharpening struggles at the top of the ruling class not only condition the overall terrain on which we must lead the masses of people to fight in their own interests—to build a movement for a revolution for a radically new system as well as to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, but also contain potential for those struggles. These profound differences can potentially lead to major fissures through which the struggle against this regime and the system can advance.


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The essence of what exists in the U.S. is not democracy but capitalism-imperialism and political structures to enforce that capitalism-imperialism. What the U.S. spreads around the world is not democracy, but imperialism and political structures to enforce that imperialism.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:3

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

This Autumn...

Prepare the Ground, Prepare the People, and Prepare the Vanguard—Get Ready for the Time When Millions Can Be Led to Go for Revolution, All-Out, With a Real Chance to Win

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This has been an incredible summer of intensified needless suffering. Children at the Mexican border torn from the arms of their parents by orders of the ICE-hearted White House... children on a school bus in Yemen slaughtered by a U.S.-made bomb dropped from the sky by American proxies... racist insults belching forth from the president while the regime he heads suppresses voting rights, cuts school funding, health care, and housing, and unleashes the police in Black, Latino, and Native American communities... a Christian fascist anti-woman, anti-gay judge heads for the Supreme Court, ready to lock in a fascist majority for a generation... the capitalists pouring more poison into the earth and air every single day... all accompanied by lies, lies and more lies...

All of this must STOP.

And all of this comes from this system, capitalism-imperialism—now headed and ruled by a fascist regime. A system that cannot be reformed, that must be OVERTHROWN, through an actual revolution. And we need an autumn, right now, of spreading revolution and organizing people into it, of rousing people to fight for the interests of humanity, and of reversing this whole ugly polarization... all aimed at moving closer to a revolutionary situation, in which the system is in deep crisis, millions are ready to put it all on the line for revolution, and there is a vanguard with the organization and influence that is prepared to lead this... the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.

One thing that means is spreading the word: “to let people know that we have the leadership, the science, the strategy and program, and the basis for organizing people for an actual, emancipating revolution.” (from HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution [HWCW])

The New Talk from Bob Avakian: A Powerful Tool to Transform Reality

The key to that this fall is the important new film coming out of the speech by Bob Avakian, BA, Why We Need an Actual Revolution and How We Can Really Make Revolution. As we say in the announcement headlining this issue, there has never been a film like this on this subject before. BA gave this talk in several cities during the summer. This month there will be preview screenings around the country and next month an internet premiere to really launch this in a powerful way, with a whole social media campaign around it. In the days and weeks to come, this site will feature plans and be a place where people can exchange ideas and experience in creating a social movement around the film.

At the same time, even before that premiere and in fact to help build this premiere so that it has maximum impact, those who read this site or see this talk should be part of taking this talk everywhere as soon as it is available, setting up preview screenings yourselves. As HWCW says about the revolution, so we say about this talk, which goes so deeply into the need for revolution and how to make that revolution, “People in the inner cities, and in the prisons, students, scholars, artists, lawyers and other professionals, youth in the suburbs and rural areas—people in all parts of society—need to know about this and seriously take it up.” In addition to the new film, this means getting out there with the film THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! (go here for recent experience with this); THE NEW COMMUNISM, and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, both by Bob Avakian; and the handbook for revolution, BAsics, also by Bob Avakian; as well as HWCW and other key and relevant works.

At the same time, this must be an autumn of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution. All over—most concentrated in the fight to stop and ultimately drive out this fascist regime, but everywhere people rise up or need to rise up in significant ways—we need to “protest and resist the injustices and atrocities of this system, and win people to defy and repudiate this putrid system and its ways of thinking, and to take up the outlook and values, and the strategy and program of the revolution, build up the forces for this revolution, and defeat the attempts of the ruling powers to crush the revolution and its leadership.” (HWCW)

The “Third Future” Must Contend

The situation we outlined at the beginning has led to an increasingly sharpening polarization in this country. There are divides at the top, sharply illustrated in the past week’s events around the death of John McCain, and a growing polarization among masses. People in their millions are being presented with the question of capitulating to the imposition of full-out fascism or choosing to come under the wing of the section of the imperialists who have serious differences with this, but whose roads all ultimately lead back into the system. There must be a third future increasingly contending with that, the future of revolution that gets beyond the relations of exploitation and domination of this system and into a future of emancipation.

This highlights even more the need for this to be an autumn where the movement for revolution, in many different ways, wages struggle with how people are thinking.

The organized forces and the leadership of this revolution must become the “authority” that growing numbers of people look to and follow—not the lying politicians and media of this oppressive system—not those who front for the oppressors and preach about “reconciliation” with this system—not those who turn people against each other when they need to be uniting for this revolution. While many people will do positive things in opposing the crimes of this system, we need to approach everything—evaluate every political program and every organized force in society, every kind of culture, values and ways of treating people—according to how it relates to the revolution we need, to end all oppression. We should unite with people whenever we can, and struggle with them whenever we need to, to advance the revolution. (HWCW)

In all this, over these next few months, the revolution must reach new places and many new people, getting more and more organized as it does, with new people coming in to take up the road forged by Bob Avakian, and everyone taking the increased responsibility so urgently demanded by the times. We have the tools—let’s go out and transform everything!

ABOUT THE BOOK, TO DOWNLOAD, AND TO ORDER, CLICK HERE

See excerpts HERE

BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

"You can't change the world if you don't know the BAsics."

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

A Special Night in Harlem:

August 30 Outdoor Showing of Film of BA's Talk
THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

It was a special night in Harlem, this August 30. A heat wave had broken, the clouds held back an expected rain, and as the daylight sky gently darkened, people took their seats at the amphitheater of Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. They had come to watch the film of Bob Avakian’s talk THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America. A Better World IS Possible.

The larger-than-life screen... the proximity of people, numbering over 160 at the peak, sitting together and taking in Bob Avakian’s (BA’s) historical analysis, his summoning to act, and the possibility of a better world... in the neighborhood known worldwide as a center of African-American life and culture—all this made for an important and memorable event.

It was a multinational audience—mainly middle-aged but with pockets of young people, and very diverse: professionals and creative folk, activists, people from the neighborhood, and the homeless. Many had heard about the event through social media or had seen posters and flyers in Harlem and at cultural events in Brooklyn. Others got the word at Revolution Books or through the outreach of the store and the Revolution Club. And some found out just that evening—walking through the park, they were challenged to face the reality of the moment and to meet the leader of the revolution.

People came out of curiosity about Bob Avakian, hunger to understand what we’re facing, disgust at the white supremacy gone berserk, and the caging of immigrant children, wanting to connect their feelings with something bigger. And a number of people who had seen the film before wanted to turn friends and others on to it.

The evening’s showing was introduced by Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party, and a member of the Host Committee for the event. Three other Host Committee members were also at the showing and made brief comments of welcome. Nkosi Anderson, PhD candidate at Union Theological Seminary: “We’re going to see this is a great talk. The hope is to inspire thinking, critical dialogue, debate, and most important, action, as we leave this place to go forward, and to work our tails off to get this Trump/Pence regime out of office.” Pastor Doris Johnson of the Faith Tabernacle in Queens: “We want you to look at this film tonight, talk to your friends about it, and your churches, or your community. Let them bring this film in so others can see it.” David Orenstein, professor at Medgar Evers College: “We must stop Trump. We must stop Pence. We must stop the enablers. We must stop all of this that is affecting our common goodness and our common humanity.”

Once the film started, people relaxed into it, there were murmurs of outrage and approval as BA delivered the truth straight-up, and went deeper into the truth and history of the system with utter disdain for it. Some in the audience chuckled when he asked, “What’s the matter with liberals?” and sighed heavily at the mention of the “demented bully with his finger on the nuclear trigger.”

A young Black guy from the film company that handled the big-screen projection, which did an excellent job, called his mom in the Bronx as soon as he found out what the film was about, urging her to come to the showing. A young white man in the crew said BA “captured so much of what I feel” and plans to come to Revolution Books to find out more about him.

As the evening drew to a close, many from the audience hung around to talk about what they had just seen and heard, to learn more, and to get connected up with Refuse Fascism, Revolution Books, and the Revolution Club. See sidebar for some of what people were saying right after the showing. One young woman described what she was thinking after the watching the film: “It was really great ... I feel really charged up and ready to fight and resist and make a better world.”

Get This Film Out on the Campuses in September!

The Harlem showing points to the powerful effect the film can have, especially as people gather together to get into and grapple with what BA is bringing out. As the campuses get back in gear this month, it’s an important time to make special efforts to connect many, many student across the country with the leader of the revolution, Bob Avakian, through the film of his talk THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! Go to student groups, professors, and academic departments with the trailer and clips from the film and get people to sponsor and organize campus-wide and classroom showings. And get people to spread clips from the film on social media.

Host Committee for the August 30 Harlem showing:

Herb Boyd, author, educator, and activist; Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA; Nkosi Anderson, PhD candidate, Union Theological Seminary; Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah who was murdered by the NYPD on September 25, 2012; David Orenstein, professor of anthropology, Medgar Evers College; Pastor Doris Johnson, Faith Tabernacle, Queens, New York; Rev. Luis Barrios, Holyrood Church/Iglesia Santa Cruz, New York City, professor of Latin American and Latina/o Studies, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Dread Scott, artist; Arturo O’Farrill, Grammy award-winning jazz musician; Sharonne Salaam, Justice 4 the Wrongly Incarcerated.

Voices from the Harlem Showing

Here is more of what we heard from people in the audience after the showing:

Black man in his 30s: I didn’t know who this gentleman [BA] was, but he definitely has a powerful speech; definitely has powerful facts that make you want to think, expand upon it, and learn more. Our country is undergoing a lot of things that people may not understand. They just go off what they see on television. I’m thinking about this whole election. His bigotry, and being open about it. Sending people back to their country, wherever they came from. America is supposed to be the “land of the free.” He [BA] is saying some powerful stuff that really provoked thought. To really, really think about.

Older Black man: There was some really powerful, provoking stuff he said. A lot of stuff I wasn’t aware of, that the system is really broken. There’s too much injustice right now. I’m aware of the way they’re anti-immigrant, anti-homosexual. Trump is just bringing this hate. It’s just mind-boggling ... I think Bob Avakian is awesome. He’s implementing a system, organizing people for revolution. Because the masses of people, I’m convinced, are unhappy with what’s going on. This master and slave thing and this system, it’s not cool.

A retired Hunter College professor who called Revolution Books the day after the showing: I took notes as best I could ... and when Avakian calls on people to “free yourself from the GTF” [the Great Tautological Fallacy that insists America is a force for good in the world so everything it does is good or done with good intentions] and how we can’t achieve real change by relying on the Democrats and voting ... it reminded me of 1968, and getting to another world, and now I want to finish THE NEW COMMUNISM.

Young publicist for progressive theater companies: I came out to the Bob Avakian screening at Marcus Garvey Park, and was thoroughly moved by Avakian’s analysis and am eager to learn more.

Black woman in her 50s: I’ve felt anxious ever since Trump took office. I don’t think I’ve had any real peace since he’s been in that position. So I wanted to hear what suggestions Avakian has for us.

Young white woman who works in theater and dance: [About BA’s point on the GTF—the Great Tautological Fallacy] I was actually really glad to see someone talking about it and calling it out. I’ve struggled with it, like the dissonance with people saying “we’re the greatest country in the world” and that’s why we have to do “nation building” in the Middle East with Bush. And then just sitting in history class and hearing about all the kinds of things we’ve done. Learning about how the Nazis took some ideas from the way we implemented Jim Crow. And you can’t go out and say we’re the greatest country in the world when it’s doing things like that.... People in so many other countries see that dissonance so much better than we do.

Young Latino park worker: That man [BA] just blew my mind. That this information is kept from people is criminal. I want to go online and find out more about him and what he is all about.

Pastor Doris Johnson: I just love Bob Avakian. He has so much heart, so much love for the people. We have to get more people to be paying attention.

Black woman in her 20s: [On why she came to the showing.] I know that there’s definitely something wrong with the state we’re in in America, but I wasn’t really 100 percent sold on how things could change in a really real way. I was introduced to the Revolution Club and the bookstore, but I wasn’t sure of the whole diagram for success, you know what I mean? ... After seeing the film, it definitely answered a lot of my questions. I loved his passion. Historically, it gave me a lot of perspective. I want to believe, you know, that this is all possible. I just think it’s important that people aren’t so apathetic and that we arise some passion into people, into the importance of change.

Watch now the film of this talk and the Q&A session that followed

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Michael Slate Interview with Heather Ann Thompson on Nationwide Prison Strike

“How we treat people in our prisons is a reflection of how our society functions”

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The Michael Slate Show airs every week at 10 am Pacific Time on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, a Pacifica Network station. The show can also be streamed live here during live broadcast only and people can listen to or download it and all of Michael Slate's archived shows here.

Revolution/revcom.us features interviews from The Michael Slate Show to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music and literature, science, sports, and politics. The views expressed by those interviewed are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere by Revolution/revcom.us.

The following are excerpts from an August 27, 2018 Michael Slate interview with historian and author Heather Ann Thompson.

********

Michael Slate: Prisoners across the country have launched a nationwide strike to demand improved living conditions, greater access to resources, and the end of modern day slavery. Prisoners in at least 17 states are expected to participate in coordinated sit-ins, hunger strikes, work stoppages, and commissary boycotts from August 21 until September 9, the 47th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. Joining us to talk about this nationwide prisoners strike is Heather Ann Thompson, author of the book Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy. Heather, welcome to the show.

Heather Ann Thompson: Great to be here.

Michael Slate: There have been comparisons between what’s going on now and with the Attica rebellion in 1971, and the prisoners themselves have pointed this out.

Heather Ann Thompson: I think it’s incredibly important to remember that we’ve been at this task of making prisoner conditions more humane for nearly five decades, since Attica. Because it’s mostly lip service, because we have not yet really done much to improve conditions on the inside, in fact, arguably, they’ve gotten worse and worse as the recent riot at the facility in South Carolina showed. Attica reminds us of the power of folks standing together and bringing the world’s attention to what life can really be behind bars.

Michael Slate: The prisoners have also called for a boycott of agencies and companies that benefit from prisoner labor. They’ve put it out to people outside of prison that there’s actually a role that people need to play in relation to all these other forces that are basically, in one way or another, engendering all this.

Heather Ann Thompson: Right. To me, one of the most powerful things of the message in this particular strike is that exact point that folks on the outside have a real responsibility to get involved and can get involved, both by simply calling attention to this but also by boycotting goods if you know that they’re being made in such an exploitative fashion. In other words, prisoners aren’t getting paid any money to make them nor are workers on the outside. The only folks making money are the actual state institutions or the private companies using the labor. To the extent that we know who those companies are, that’s certainly a role people can play. But also simply calling attention to the fact that these are overwhelmingly public institutions that we pay for, that we ostensibly support as making our society safer and yet we don’t have a clue what goes on inside and what folks tell us is going on is pretty horrific with the overcrowding, terrible nutrition, lack of basic medical care, privatized sources in the prison so that the folks inside literally cannot afford to talk to their children. We’re in a real crisis point so folks on the outside can shine the light on that.

Michael Slate: It’s really significant that the dates the strike is stretching over are in relationship to historically significant events—the murder of George Jackson to the Attica Rebellion. The prisoners themselves are calling attention to this.

Heather Ann Thompson: Despite the fact that so many prisons have banned my book from the inside, there have been a lot of folks who have managed to get it and read it, and there’s been already, long before the book, a deep, collective knowledge of the importance of Attica in terms of nearly 1,300 men standing together, across racial lines and political divisions to demand basic human rights. Folks know about that, it’s an important marker. And I think this was an additionally important move to begin the prison strike on the anniversary of the death of George Jackson, because that was a surprise, I think, to some. Why would you begin a rebellion on a day that commemorates the death of someone as important to prisoner rights activism as George Jackson? But notably, that’s what motivated the Attica brothers so many years ago. It was when they heard that George Jackson had been gunned down at San Quentin that they went to the mess hall that morning in utter silence—this was a few weeks before the actual uprising, but it signaled, you know, look, things have gotten so bad that now when you’re sentenced to prison, you might end up dead inside....

Michael Slate: It really seems that there’s a link between what’s happening with mass incarceration and society overall in terms of the severity of the all-out assault on prisoners now in terms of rights or lack of them and what I think is a growing genocidal assault on Black and Brown people throughout society in general.

Heather Ann Thompson: I don’t think it’s accidental that the reason why this issue is so fundamentally in our face again is not because politicians woke up one day and said, “Oh my God, this is a problem. Let’s start talking about it.” It’s because it has reached such crisis proportions on the ground—the policing of citizens in their community that then translates into the prosecution that then translates into mass incarceration. That has become so acute with so many people on the inside experiencing these terrible conditions and so many people being disproportionately policed on the outside and treated badly, that there have been eruptions and it hasn’t just been in prisons, it has been in places like Ferguson and Baltimore and Chicago. This kind of pressure from below is reminiscent of the ’60s in the same way that this issue of wage slavery is reminiscent of the Civil War—this is reminiscent of the activism of the ’60s when politicians had to respond, not because it was timely on their part but because people were erupting on a regular basis from below.

Michael Slate: One of the things that you talk about is the South Carolina prison riot at the Lee Correctional Institution (in April 2018) where seven prisoners were killed, more were severely injured—and the prison blames it on gang rivalries. It’s important to explore this because it’s related to what’s happening in prisons overall.

Heather Ann Thompson: Let’s remember that any time a prison makes the news because the prisoners have “rioted,” we should always immediately stop and doubt literally any interpretation that is coming to us from the Department of Corrections, no matter what the state. I don’t say that as a conspiracy theorist—I say it as a historian and a scholar and someone who has spent a great deal of time in these institutions. Departments of Corrections always—then, now, and in perpetuity—explain chaos in the prison as the product of “troublemakers” and militants or gang members. Always there is a more complicated story.

When I heard news that the Lee Correctional Facility had exploded and that all of these prisoners had died, I immediately tried to reach inside to talk to some of the folks. And, of course, that story was not what the state officials were telling us. It was not just gang fights—it was about the state having completely neglected this institution, having far too few trained guards inside; it was chaos. The administration put rival groups of people in the same tier—and a tier that was so shabbily constructed that the doors didn’t even lock—and then pretty much just left everybody alone. In that chaos, people were hurt—but what we never heard was that in that chaos other prisoners were trying desperately to help, were trying to call for medical care, and that they [the prison authorities] left that institution for hours and hours and hours, nearly seven hours, and didn’t do anything. I’ve seen film from inside; these guys were filming some of the terrible things going on inside in terms of the victims, and at any point someone could have come in to help but they didn’t. Again, Lee was a cry for help. These are always cries for help, and the Department of Corrections always portrays them as the worst of the worst in there committing violence for no reason.

Michael Slate: The South Carolina newspapers talk about how the number of prisoners killed in state prisons there has more than doubled in 2017 from 2016 and quadrupled from two years ago. This is a pretty heavy indictment.

Heather Ann Thompson: This is why the call for this strike on the anniversary of George Jackson’s death is so meaningful—because it really does underscore this point that to be locked up and to serve time now means risking death. These prisons are so severely overcrowded. In some prisons there is an absolute sense that guards put rival groups of prisoners together simply for sport, to take bets on gladiator-type situations, on the violence. This is a sick system, and these are people’s mothers, fathers, brothers, sons, uncles, who are subjected to this. This is nothing to do with rehabilitation. There is no possibility for making folks happy or healthy or society safer or better; this is about warehousing. And it’s about warehousing very specific groups of people; people with the least power in society on the outside to avoid the policing that has led them to incarceration in the first place.

Michael Slate: Let’s talk about the 13th Amendment1 to the U.S. Constitution and why that’s an issue in relation to prison today. If you’re convicted they’re actually allowed to institute what amounts to slavery.

Heather Ann Thompson: Yeah, and there are complicated reasons as to how that ever ended up in the U.S. Constitution, but the shorthand thing that folks need to understand is that this was extremely instrumental after the Civil War in effectively re-enslaving so many folks that had been newly emancipated. It is the mechanism by which much of the South was rebuilt on this now-incarcerated labor force—not an officially slave labor force but through criminal justice laws able to re-enslave an entire population of newly freed people.

One way to think about this is that on the eve of the Civil War most penitentiaries were mostly white. Twenty years after the Civil War penitentiaries in the South were overwhelmingly Black. That’s not because whites had stopped committing crimes and Blacks just lost their minds with freedom; it’s because the laws changed in such a way to particularly criminalize Brown folks and Black folks and then put them to labor in a convict leasing situation. This is pretty much what happened in the 1960s, after that kind of freedom moment you have laws changing and within a decade sky rocketing rates of overwhelmingly Black and Brown incarceration that is then subsequently put to work. And, by the way, disenfranchised, which is what happened the first time, too. It’s important that we call attention to the 13th Amendment because it has a deep history that’s very unsavory.

Michael Slate: More than 200 immigrants currently detained at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, have joined the strike, and Palestinian prisoners, who are imprisoned in Palestine, sent a statement of support. This actually speaks to a certain universality and a hatred for what’s being done here.

Heather Ann Thompson: Also, prisoners in Canada. I feel like the United States is such an international outlier on the one hand because its prison population is so bloated compared to any other country and its racial disproportionally is so startling, so staggering. But on the other hand, there is a recognition among other groups of people across the world that have been excessively policed and excessively marginalized and locked up in excessively brutal institutions that what is happening to Americans on the inside is what is happening to them. There is a great deal of solidarity that is quite moving.

Michael Slate: The prisoners said, “Prisoners understand that they’re being treated as animals. Prisons in America are a warzone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us, it’s as if we are already dead, so what do we have to lose?” That is very powerful.

Heather Ann Thompson: Yes, and that kind of gets at the heart of what I was mentioning before that for folks on the outside who have never been inside of an institution or have very little personal connection with one, there is this feeling that something good might happen there or could happen there or that even if nothing good can come out of it, at least people are being punished within the limits of the law. What they don’t understand is that we have, for example, so many children in this country serving life sentences. We have people serving an amount of solitary confinement that is beyond anything that any medical professional in any moment in history would deem humane.

All of this goes on with very, very little transparency. So when you hear from someone on the inside saying, “We feel like we’re almost dead so we have nothing to lose,” what does that mean? Well, what that means is these are people who’ve been in 6 x 8 cells, sometimes for decades, with very little human touch, very little human interaction, people who’ve been incarcerated so far away from their families that they’ve lost touch with the very people who might yet tether them back to society. That is not hyperbole. What you heard that person say is not hyperbole, it is the reality. These are places where people go to die, either literally or figuratively.

Michael Slate: People face very serious consequences for asserting their humanity and for standing up and doing that. And there’s an importance of Attica being put out by the prisoners themselves in relation to this uprising.

Heather Ann Thompson: Attica has two legacies, and it’s important to realize the power of both of them. One of the legacies is the one that you just mentioned, which is that no matter how repressive an institution wants to be, no matter how much it shuts down the doors, no matter how many years it gives for sentences, no matter how many days and hours and weeks and decades you can give someone solitary, at the end of the day human beings will ultimately stand together to be treated as human. That is one of Attica’s most profound legacies, which is why it is always harkened back to in moments like this.

The other legacy, though, of Attica, is very, very disturbing, which is when people do that, when people do stand up and demand to be treated as human the repression can be stunning, staggering... We need to keep our eyes out because the legacy of Attica shows us that the most dangerous time for prisoners—men, women, children, anyone on the inside who stands up—the most dangerous time is when it’s over. It’s when the media goes home; it’s when no one’s talking about it anymore. At Attica that led to months of just horrific, horrific torture that state officials then denied had even happened for the next 45 years. We’ve got to pay attention next week as much as we’re paying attention this week....

The bottom line, why people on the outside should care is that, who is inside is us. They are children, they are parents, they are our neighbors, they are fellow Americans or they are new Americans, even perhaps people who have just arrived on our shores, but they are all us. How we treat people in our prisons is a reflection of how our society functions. We want our prisons to be humane and just. The only way that is going to happen is if we shine a light on them, and the only way we’re going to shine a light on them is when we’re forced to. These kinds of moments give us a wake-up call to pay attention to what’s going on inside, and to understand that if it is our children in there or someone else’s children in there, the standards should be the same. What must go on must be humane and it must be truly just not just a shimmer of justice.

Michael Slate: Heather, thank you very much for joining us today.

Heather Ann Thompson: Thank you so much for having me in to give some attention to this issue.


1. The 13th Amendment, passed after the Civil War, outlawed slavery and gave Black people formal equality before the law. Before that amendment, the official law of the U.S. was that Black people had no rights that any white person was bound to respect (!). But the 13th Amendment did not grant them the vote or other social and political rights. And it permitted “involuntary servitude” of prisoners.  [back]

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Prisoners Strike for Just Demands: A Courageous Fight That Must Be Supported!

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

UPDATE: As the widespread prisoners strike that began on August 21 enters its third week, resistance and repression are both intensifying. For the full story on this strike, see below. Because of censorship by the authorities, information about what is going on with the strike is hard to come by. An August 28 press statement from strike support organizers said that prisoners were known to be participating in 11 states—Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Washington, California, Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, Ohio, and Florida—with work stoppages, hunger strikes, and boycotts of prison commissary. Prisoners at a jail in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada reportedly went on strike in solidarity as well as with their own demands.

In Florida, there were unconfirmed reports of 11 of the state’s 143 prisons being struck by organized protests. In Indiana, prisoner rights activists announced that on August 27, several men in the SHU (Secure Housing Unit) of Wabash Valley prison were starting a hunger strike. The group Northwest Detention Center Resistance reported on August 31 that 62 prisoners at the immigrant prison in Tacoma, Washington, were on hunger strike, with another 20 sent to solitary the previous evening in retaliation for joining the protest. The prisoners issued a statement that they were “acting with solidarity for all those people who are being detained wrongfully and stand in support of all those women who have been separated from their children.”

There have been hundreds of solidarity actions on the outside. Rallies, phone zaps to prison authorities, banner drops about the strike, and teach-ins have been taking place in dozens of big cities and small towns from coast to coast—for example, a march of 70 in New Haven, Connecticut, and a rally of 500 in front of San Quentin prison in the San Francisco Bay Area. A support rally outside the Hyde prison in Fairfield, North Carolina, with chants and banners was met with over 100 prisoners joining in the political protest on the other side of the barb wired fence. The men stood in the yard for about an hour, in the face of guards threatening them, and held up their bed sheet banners that read “better food,” “in solidarity,” and “parole.”

Even before the strike started, the prison authorities had been carrying out increased repression against the prisoners and especially the leaders. A spokesperson for the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee told the Guardian, “The retaliation and repression was instantaneous and constant. Leaders were picked off, one by one, and thrown into solitary in anticipation of the strike that was coming.” One prisoner, Kevin Rashid Johnson, wrote in an op-ed published in the Guardian that he was moved to a death row cell in another prison in Virginia: “I have never been sentenced to the death penalty, so there can be only one reason they have put me here—to shut me up and prevent me fraternizing with other prisoners as they fear I will radicalize them and encourage them to resist their oppression.”

The courageous and determined rallying cry from those brutalized and locked inside the dungeons of the so-called “land of the free” has gained attention around the world—including coverage in the Middle East (Al Jazeera) to Latin America (teleSUR). Prisoners’ demands and stories have been spread on social media, in the alternative media, and commented on in a few mainstream media (though news of the strike has been mainly suppressed in the latter so far). Prisoners in Greece and Palestine have issued statements supporting the strike.

The strike is set to continue until September 9, the anniversary of the Attica Prison uprising. Word about this righteous struggle of the prisoners—demanding recognition of their humanity—must spread further. And retaliation by the authorities against the strikers must be denounced and opposed.

See recent interview on The Michael Slate Show with Heather Anne Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, about this current strike.

*********

On August 21—the 47th anniversary of the murder of the revolutionary leader George Jackson by guards at California’s San Quentin prison—prisoners in 17 states began a strike. The strike is set to end September 9—the anniversary of the heroic 1971 rebellion at Attica prison in New York.

The demands of the striking prisoners are first and foremost that there be “Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.” Other demands include ending prison slavery, ending “gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans," and rescinding laws that remove all possibility of “rehabilitation and parole” for prisoners. The complete list of demands are available online here.

The prisoners said that as part of the strike, they will carry out: work strikes (“Prisoners will not report to assigned jobs”); sit-ins (“In certain prisons, men and women will engage in peaceful sit-in protests.”); boycotts (“All spending should be halted.”); hunger strikes (“Men and women shall refuse to eat.”). The British newspaper Guardian wrote that this action, in the country that has by far the biggest prison population in the world, “has the potential to be the largest prison strike in U.S. history.”

Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, a group helping publicize the strike, wrote, “Prisoners understand they are being treated as animals. Prisons in America are a warzone. Every day prisoners are harmed due to conditions of confinement. For some of us it’s as if we are already dead. So what do we have to lose?”

According to an August 24 report on the Marshall Project website, "Organizers say they have confirmed accounts of participation at Northwest Detention Center, an immigration detention center in Washington; Folsom State Prison in California; McCormick Correctional Institution in South Carolina; and Toledo Correctional Institution in Ohio. They have relied mostly on the word of families and volunteers who have been in touch with participating inmates."

Lee “Correctional Institute,” South Carolina

A press release calling for the strike said it was particularly in response to the repressive actions of prison authorities after a deadly outburst of fighting between prisoners tore through South Carolina’s Lee “Correctional” Institute in April of this year. One prisoner there told the Associated Press that bodies of dead and wounded men were “literally stacked on top of each other.” Prison and medical authorities allowed bleeding, beaten, and sometimes mortally wounded prisoners to lie unattended on the floor for hours. The press release calling for the current strike said, “Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration, and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology.”

Prison and government authorities blamed the violence at Lee on “gang warfare.” But Heather Ann Thompson, author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, wrote in the New York Times, “Yes, it was a gang fight, prisoners tell me, but it was corrections officials who had decided to house rival gangs in the same dormitory, and it was the officials’ increasingly punitive policies that exacerbated tensions on the inside. … Punitive sentencing laws have taken away prisoners’ hope for the future. … Daily degradations grind away at men’s souls.”

A System Steeped in Oppression

Massive numbers of people, especially Black, Brown, and Native American youth, are behind bars in this country. Millions are held in inhumane conditions that amount to systematic, protracted torture. This is the reality and the future that the system of capitalism-imperialism has inflicted upon generation after generation of youth. It is utterly fucking unacceptable, and it must stop!

The prisoners in South Carolina and elsewhere are struggling to overcome the depraved outlook imposed by this system and its enforcers that sets them at each other’s throats. Their courageous fight must be supported. It must inspire people within and outside the “concrete and barbed wire” to build a movement for revolution aimed at overthrowing the system that offers millions of youth nothing but brutality, impoverishment, oppression, and imprisonment, and poisons them with the outlook of a system based on relentless exploitation of the many by the few.

Prison authorities are trying to prevent word and information on what is going on inside from reaching the outside world. Revcom will report more on this strike as information becomes available. Readers with knowledge of the strike at any location should correspond to us at revolution.reports@yahoo.com

George Jackson

Attica Prison Rebellion

 

The press release calling for the strike said, “Seven comrades lost their lives [at Lee Correctional Institute] during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration, and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology.”

 

THE PRISONERS REVOLUTIONARY LITERATURE FUND

Graphic imagePRLF is an educational literature fund that has sent Revolution newspaper (www.revcom.us), works from Bob Avakian, (Chairman of the RCP) and other revolutionary and scientific literature to hundreds of prisoners across the U.S. for 10 years. PRLF has fought attempts by prison officials to censor these publications. For example, the ACLU of Southern California successfully represented PRLF in a censorship battle focused on Pelican Bay State Prison with statewide ramifications in California.

Donate here to support the work of the Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund.

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

The Looming Threat of the Confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court

Kavanaugh Spells EMERGENCY for Women and LGBTQ People

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On September 4, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will begin hearings over whether to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. Kavanaugh was chosen by Donald Trump from a list prepared by reactionary legal authorities close to the Federalist Society—a list that was specifically vetted to be sure that all nominees want to overturn Roe v. Wade (the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973). The Federalist Society, along with other so-called conservative organizations, have been working for years to establish in the courts a different legal philosophy described as “originalist.” Kavanaugh comes highly recommended by these forces because he has proven that he will be guided by this philosophy in rendering his opinions. This is a major element of cementing a majority of the 9 judges on the Supreme Court who will take on the assignment of reshaping major legal decisions in a more fascist direction, with enduring consequences.

This “originalist” theory of law is also held by Justice Thomas who argued that any “right” that is not explicitly written in the Constitution and not “rooted into the traditions and conscience of our people” does not exist. It is a legal theory that idealizes the Constitution of the U.S. at the time of its founding—which is a time when Black people were slaves, Native people subject to extermination, women legally treated as chattel (property) with no right to vote, own property or to say “no” to their husbands’ sexual demands—including rape—and so on.

Kavanaugh is well known at this point for publicly arguing that a sitting president should be immune not only from criminal indictment, but even from lawsuits or investigations, and for his “robust” and “expansive” view of how much power the president should wield. In brief, Kavanaugh is “the perfect justice” for a fascist regime seeking to concentrate tremendous power in the hands of its leader, Donald Trump, and under legal and political fire for just that.

For this reason—and because his confirmation hearings are taking place in the midst of sharp struggles between pro- and anti-Trump forces within the U.S. ruling class (including “the Brennan Affair” and the death of John McCain)—those issues of executive power will likely be the focus of the hearings. Revcom.us will be writing more about this soon.

Should he be confirmed, Kavanaugh will join four other like-minded justices—Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch—giving pro-fascist forces a consistent majority on the nine-member court. This decisive majority will almost certainly unleash these forces to take dramatic steps to overturn social changes brought about especially through the mass upheavals of the 1960s and 70s, and through the broad and determined struggles of LGBTQ people in the last few decades.

Revcom will be writing more on the significance of the impending approval of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and how it relates to the whole long-lasting effects of the fascist regime headed up by Trump/Pence.

**********

Let’s start with something basic: Women must have the right to decide for themselves when and whether to bear children if they are to be free. This requires access to abortion and birth control on demand and without apology. Yet, as Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution, has pointed out: “Unbelievable as it may seem, in the 21st century there are still people—including people in positions of power and authority—who are determined to force women to bear children, regardless of the situation, the feelings, and the better judgment of those women themselves. That is a way of enslaving women to the dictates of an oppressive male supremacist, patriarchal system; and that is what the cruel fanatics who are determined to deny women the right to abortion are really all about.”

Now, the Christian fascists that have driven this assault against abortion, as well as the all-around assault on the rights of LGBTQ people and much more, are at the pinnacle of power at the core of the Trump/Pence regime. With the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh about to begin, society as a whole faces a dangerous “tipping point.”

This must not be allowed. Everyone who refuses to see women and LGTBQ people violently slammed backwards, everyone who recognizes the need to stop the whole Trump/Pence drive towards out-and-out fascism in this country, must raise their voices and put themselves on the line to refuse to accept this.

Kavanaugh’s Record Is Clear—Grave Hostility to Abortion, Birth Control, and LGBTQ Rights

During the confirmation process, Kavanaugh is unlikely to state openly how he will rule in cases around abortion, birth control, LGBTQ rights and more. Democratic Party politicians and pundits will then huff and puff that Kavanaugh is not being forthcoming enough. But, this will be a charade—Kavanaugh’s record is clear: he shares the Christian fascist hostility to women and LGBTQ people being treated as full human beings, and he shares their objective of implementing Christian theocratic rule.

First, Kavanaugh was nominated by Donald Trump who—as a key part of his political alliance with powerful ruling class Christian fascists who helped secure his victory—promised he would only nominate judges who would end abortion rights. To this end, Kavanaugh was vetted and is being celebrated by viciously anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ Christian fascists.

Second, Kavanaugh is an originalist, someone who thinks that basically, there should be no rights granted that are not explicitly in the text of the Constitution or in an amendment made to the Constitution. In a 2017 speech Kavanaugh upheld his “first judicial hero” William Rehnquist. He celebrated Rehnquist’s dissent from the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion (Roe v. Wade) and agreed with Rehnquist’s insistence that judges had no business granting rights that were not enumerated (spelled out explicitly) in the original text of the Constitution or in an amendment. By this logic, not only abortion—but also the right to birth control—is invalid, as are decisions like Brown v. Board of Education (the decision that struck down racist segregation), marriage equality, and more.

Third, Kavanaugh has interpreted religious freedom in a way that would open the door wide to Christian fascist theocracy. In 2015, Kavanaugh sided with Priests for Life when they objected to being required to fill out a form to exempt themselves from having to provide birth control coverage to their female employees. Priests for Life insisted that filling out such a form would make it possible for the insurance company to provide birth control coverage independently of them and that this violated their religious liberty. Ominously, Kavanaugh agreed. By this logic, Christian fascist bigots could exempt themselves from all kinds of laws—like providing services to LGBTQ people, nonbelievers, religious minorities, and others—as long as they claim that doing so violates their sincerely held religious views.

Finally, in case there was any room at all for confusion, earlier this year Kavanaugh used his power as judge to attempt to effectively block a detained migrant 17-year-old girl from accessing an abortion that had been approved by another judge which she desperately wanted.

Criminalizing Abortion and More—Whether Roe Stands or Falls

Kavanaugh could provide the fifth vote needed on the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Seventeen states have laws restricting abortion access that would immediately go into effect, four of them banning all abortions altogether. Other states would quickly see an avalanche of anti-abortion laws introduced.

But Roe v. Wade does not have to be overturned for abortion and even birth control to be effectively eradicated. Already, five states have only one abortion clinic left. A web of hundreds of laws—mandatory waiting periods, parental notification requirements, costly renovations to clinics that have caused many to close down, medically counter-productive requirements for providers that are often impossible to comply with, and more—have already made it nearly impossible for millions of women to safely access abortion services in this country.

This floodgate of ever-growing restrictions followed the 1992 Supreme Court ruling Planned Parenthood v. Casey which ruled that those seeking to restrict abortion no longer needed to prove a “compelling government interest” in their restrictions. Rather, it now falls to those who oppose the abortion restrictions to prove that such restrictions cause an “undue burden” to women’s right to abortion.

And Kavanaugh’s interpretation of what constitutes an “undue burden” is even more ominously at odds with women’s lives. Just look at his recent dissent regarding the pregnant refugee mentioned above who was detained by ICE. Imagine the anxiety of this young woman—17, alone in a hostile country, in the clutches of a fascist government, her future completely uncertain. Under these conditions she made the highly rational decision to insist on her legal right to access to an abortion. Kavanaugh, siding with the government, thought that it was not an “undue burden” to force her to wait in prison to find a sponsor (a process with almost no chance of succeeding before her pregnancy advanced too late to be eligible for abortion) because she had the “choice” to instead be deported back to her country of origin (despite the facts that abortion was not legal there, that her parents abused her, and that conditions there were overall so intolerable that she was forced to flee in the first place). And his dissent was also marked by repeated sarcastic references to women’s right to abortion, and by insistence on the government’s “interests in favoring fetal life.” 

Only the People—NOT the Democrats—Can Stop a Fascist America

For decades, people who care about women, LGBTQ people, and the oppressed generally have been trained and brainwashed to think they have to rely on the Democratic Party. The more dangerous the situation, the more desperately they are told to cling to these Democrats. But this has not helped the people, rather it has demobilized people in the face of an increasingly relentless fascist assault.

Whereas the Republicans blocked a record number of Obama’s judicial appointments, most famously his appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, the Democrats have worked with the Republicans to fast-track Trump’s fascist judicial appointments. Trump has now confirmed 24 appellate judges—more than any other first-term president—which includes flipping two federal circuit courts from majority liberal to majority fascist. Just last week, Chuck Schumer fast-tracked the approval of 15 of Trump’s judicial nominees. For years, the Democratic Party ceded the moral high ground to anti-abortion fanatics by insisting that abortion should be “rare,” as if there is something morally wrong with abortion—which there is not! Now, they bluster about how they will “ask tough questions” and funnel people’s attention, activity and money into the midterm elections, all while downplaying the reality that they neither have the votes—nor intention to wage any real fight—to stop the confirmation of Kavanaugh to the highest court in the land.

Why? Fundamentally, the Democrats are a ruling class party whose interests are in preserving the stability and functioning of the overall system of U.S. capitalism-imperialism. This means that, for all their profound and often very sharp differences with the fascist cabal now in power, they do not want to frontally challenge them either. As Bob Avakian has pointed out, the Democrats would prefer order, even if it is the order of fascism, rather than risk the kind of upheaval that would be required to win justice.

But, our interests are different! The danger that is now immediately looming over all women and girls, all LGBTQ people, and many, many others beyond that whose rights and lives are in the direct line of fire of what could soon be a fascist majority Supreme Court must not be accepted. We must step outside of politics as usual and put ourselves on the line to stop this appointment while raising the demand and getting organized to drive out the whole fascist Trump/Pence regime. As we do, growing numbers must dig into the nature of the capitalist-imperialist system that has given rise to this madness and to the revolution that is needed.

To deeply understand the threat to humanity posed by the Trump/Pence Regime…
Watch this film of a talk by Bob Avakian

The entire film with Q&A & sharable clips is here.

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Today's Message from the Revolution

June 16, 2019 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution says, "Thousands need to get organized into the ranks of the revolution now, while millions are being influenced in favor of this revolution."

Be part of those thousands across the country. Check here every day. Spread these on social media. Join in with the Revolution Clubs on the ground and on social media. Report back with your thoughts, responses and suggestions at revolution.reports@yahoo.com.

 

 

June 16, 2019

1. How many more times will police gun down Black people & walk free? How long will we allow these pigs to say "Not a big deal"?

If this were the ONLY thing wrong with this system, it would be reason enough to overthrow it!

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2. This system has no future for the youth, the REVOLUTION does!

revcom.us/avakian

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3. On the Righteous Rebellion Against Police Murder in Memphis

How Long Will We Bury Our Own?
Until We Bury This System!

From the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour & Revolution Club

revcom.us/a/599/on-the-righteous-rebellion-against-police-murder-in-memphis-en.html

Carl Dix & Tour in Memphis now.

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

September 19, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

To Do This, We Need To Know:

Why we need an actual revolution.
What we need to do now.
How we could defeat them.

Why We Need An Actual Revolution

An actual revolution does not mean trying to make some changes within this system—it means overthrowing this system and bringing into being a radically different and far better system.This system of capitalism-imperialism cannot be reformed. There is no way, under this system, to put an end to the brutality and murder by police, the wars and destruction of people and the environment, the exploitation, oppression and degradation of millions and billions of people, including the half of humanity that is female, here and throughout the world—all of which is rooted in profound contradictions built into the basic functioning, relations, and structures of this system. Only an actual revolution can bring about the fundamental change that is needed.

What We Need To Do Now

To make this revolution, we need to be serious, and scientific. We need to take into account the actual strengths of this system, but more than that its strategic weaknesses, based in its deep and defining contradictions. We need to build this revolution among those who most desperately need a radical change, but among others as well who refuse to live in a world where this system spews forth endless horrors, and this is continually “justified” and even glorified as “greatness.”

We need to be on a mission to spread the word, to let people know that we have the leadership, the science, the strategy and program, and the basis for organizing people for an actual, emancipating revolution. We have Bob Avakian (BA) the leader of this revolution and the architect of a new framework for revolution, the new synthesis of communism. We have the Party led by BA, the Revolutionary Communist Party, with this new synthesis as its scientific basis to build for revolution. We have the Revolution Clubs, where people can take part in and powerfully represent for the revolution in an organized way, as they learn more about the revolution and advance toward joining the Party. We have the website of the Party, revcom.us, and its newspaper Revolution, which sharply expose the crimes of this system, scientifically analyze why it cannot be reformed, and give guidance and direction for people to work in a unified way for revolution. We have the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by BA and adopted by the Party’s Central Committee, which provides a sweeping and concrete vision and “blueprint” for a radically new and emancipating society. People in the inner cities, and in the prisons, students, scholars, artists, lawyers and other professionals, youth in the suburbs and rural areas—people in all parts of society—need to know about this and seriously take it up.

Those who catch the worst hell under this system, and those who are sickened by the endless outrages perpetrated by this system, need to join up with this revolution. Thousands need to get organized into the ranks of the revolution now, while millions are being influenced in favor of this revolution. We have seen the potential for this in the protests that have taken place against police brutality and murder, and other ways in which large numbers of people have gone up against the established authorities and the political “rules of the game.” But this needs to be transformed, through struggle, into revolutionary understanding, determination, and organization. The organized forces and the leadership of this revolution must become the “authority” that growing numbers of people look to and follow—not the lying politicians and media of this oppressive system—not those who front for the oppressors and preach about “reconciliation” with this system—not those who turn people against each other when they need to be uniting for this revolution. While many people will do positive things in opposing the crimes of this system, we need to approach everything—evaluate every political program and every organized force in society, every kind of culture, values and ways of treating people—according to how it relates to the revolution we need, to end all oppression. We should unite with people whenever we can, and struggle with them whenever we need to, to advance the revolution.

While awaiting the necessary conditions to go all-out for revolution, we need to hasten this and actively carry out the “3 Prepares”: Prepare the Ground, Prepare the People, and Prepare the Vanguard—Get Ready for the Time When Millions Can Be Led to Go for Revolution, All-Out, With a Real Chance to Win. We need to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution—protest and resist the injustices and atrocities of this system, and win people to defy and repudiate this putrid system and its ways of thinking, and to take up the outlook and values, and the strategy and program of the revolution, build up the forces for this revolution, and defeat the attempts of the ruling powers to crush the revolution and its leadership. With every “jolt” in society—every crisis, every new outrage, where many people question and resist what they normally accept—we need to seize on this to advance the revolution and expand its organized forces. We need to oppose and disrupt the moves of the ruling powers to isolate, “encircle,” brutalize, mass incarcerate and murderously repress the people who have the hardest life under this system and who most need this revolution. We need to “encircle” them—by bringing forth wave upon wave of people rising up in determined opposition to this system.

All this is aiming for something very definite—a revolutionary situation: Where the system and its ruling powers are in a serious crisis, and the violence they use to enforce this system is seen by large parts of society for what it is—murderous and illegitimate. Where the conflicts among the ruling forces become really deep and sharp—and masses of people respond to this not by falling in behind one side or the other of the oppressive rulers, but by taking advantage of this situation to build up the forces for revolution. Where millions and millions of people refuse to be ruled in the old way—and are willing and determined to put everything on the line to bring down this system and bring into being a new society and government that will be based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. That is the time to go all-out to win. That is what we need to be actively working for and preparing for now.

How We Could Defeat Them

“On the Possibility of Revolution” is a very important statement from the Party, which is posted on revcom.us. It sets forth the foundation—the strategic conception and doctrine—for how to fight with a real chance of winning, once a revolutionary people in the millions, and the necessary conditions for revolution, have been brought into being. Now is not yet the time to wage this kind of fight—to try to do so now would only lead to a devastating defeat—but ongoing work is being done to further develop this strategic conception and doctrine with the future in mind, and the following are some of the main things the revolutionary forces would need to do when the conditions to go all-out to make revolution had been brought into being.

  • When the revolutionary situation is clearly emerging, rapidly transform backbone forces of the revolution into organized fighting forces in key strategic areas, carry out the necessary training, obtain the necessary equipment and provide for the basic logistical needs of this revolutionary fighting force to start the all-out fight, while preventing the enemy from crushing the revolutionary forces at this crucial juncture. Back up these core fighting forces with millions more organized into powerful “reserves” for the revolution.
  • Initiate actions throughout the country, accompanied by a bold declaration to the world, which make clear that there is an organized force determined to defeat the forces of the old order and bring into being a new, revolutionary system. Upon completion of these initial actions, quickly regroup forces for “follow-on” actions and maintain the momentum of the revolution.
  • Counter the enemy’s superior destructive force by seeking to fight only on favorable terms, and actively avoiding decisive encounters, which would determine the outcome of the whole thing, until the “balance of forces” has shifted overwhelmingly in favor of the revolution. Utilize equipment captured from the enemy in ways that fit the fighting strategy of the revolution. Build up political and logistical bases of support, in key strategic areas, but do not attempt to openly control and govern territory, until the necessary “favorable balance of forces” has been achieved.
  • Maintain the initiative—or, if it is temporarily lost, regain it—through surprise and maneuver. Fight in ways the enemy does not anticipate. Carry out actions to keep the enemy off balance, disrupting the concentration and utilization of his forces and contributing to their disintegration. Always conduct operations and act in ways that are in line with the emancipating outlook and goals of the revolution, and turn the barbaric actions of the enemy against him—to win greater forces for the revolution, including those who come over from the ranks of the enemy.
  • Combine strategic direction and coordination for the fight as a whole, with decentralized actions and initiative by local units and leaders. Relying on mass support, the intelligence this provides for the revolution and the denial of intelligence to the enemy, counter the enemy’s efforts to find, fix and annihilate revolutionary leadership and key fighting units. Rapidly replace forces and leaders that are lost—continually train and deploy new forces and leaders.
  • Correctly handle the relation between this all-out fight and the situation—including the character and level of revolutionary struggle—in countries to the south (and the north).
  • When the “balance of forces” has shifted in favor of the revolution, conduct operations aimed at achieving final victory, while continuing to “calibrate” these operations so that decisive encounters are still avoided until the forces of the old order have been brought to the brink of total defeat—and then fully, finally, rout and dismantle the remaining enemy forces.

All this depends on winning millions to revolution in the period that leads up to the ripening of a revolutionary situation. The chance to defeat them, when the time comes—the chance to be rid of this system and to bring something far better into being—has everything to do with what we do now. Everyone who hungers for a radically different world, free of exploitation and oppression and all the needless suffering caused by this system, needs to work now with a fired determination to make this happen, so we will have a real chance to win.

 

Now is the time to spread these messages to all of society

"HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution" is a companion to the Message from the Central Committee of the RCP, USA posted on www.revcom.us on May 16, 2016.  Get "HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution,” together with “Time to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution,” out everywhere.  Now is the time to spread the word to all of society.

Download "HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution" HERE (36”x24” PDF): ENGLISH  | ESPAÑOL.  Download “Time to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution” HERE (17"x 22" PDF): ENGLISH | ESPAÑOL.  Our suggestion is that they be printed on white bond paper and posted together in the appropriate ways all over the place. Here’s a rough picture of what this could look like.

“HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution” now in booklet form!

Printing Instructions:
The PDF of a booklet that includes “HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution,Time To Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution” and the “Points of Attention for the Revolution”is now available. This booklet is 16 pages long. The size of the laid-out pages is 5 1/2" x 8 1/2". It can also be printed 6" x 9". There are two layouts here. 1) One is a single PDF with 16 consecutive, individual pages. 2) The second is a printer's spread; that is, the first spread is page 16 and page 1, the second is page 2 and page 15, etc., so that when it prints and is folded, the pages will be in order. Printers can tell you which layout they need. Readers should make plans for printing this 5 1/2" x 8.5" booklet, raising money, and getting it out in the tens of thousands everywhere as soon as possible.

ENGLISH:
Download 5.5x8.5 PDF, single pages
Download 5.5x8.5 PDF, printer spread

SPANISH:
Download 5.5x8.5 PDF, single pages
Download 5.5x8.5 PDF, printer spread

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/558/initial-thoughts-on-the-revolution-club-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Initial Thoughts on the Revolution Club...

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader:

We have to set ourselves to how we are going to make the leap called for by the situation we face, as set forth in HOW WE CAN WINHow We Can Really Make Revolution: “Thousands need to get organized into the ranks of the revolution now, while millions are being influenced in favor of this revolution.” This past summer has marked important efforts to that end, and this is an attempt to indicate a few key and beginning thoughts off that experience, and the grappling that went into it, and grew out of it.

The new communism of Bob Avakian, taking organizational form in the Revolutionary Communist Party, is the solid core of the revolution humanity needs. The Revolution Clubs are mass organizations at the solid core of a mass movement for revolution. The clubs go out into the world putting forth the only solution to the madness engulfing humanity—an actual revolution to overthrow this system of capitalism-imperialism, the source of these problems. The Revolution Clubs learn the science of revolution as they lead. They should be a magnet for people who hunger for radical fundamental change and involve masses of people who contribute to the revolution in many ways.

Revolutions are made by the bold. On the basis of the solid core foundation of the works of BA and other key documents of the new communism, and the guidance that must be up every week and every day at revcom.us, the clubs must dare to storm the heavens—and dare to make mistakes in the process. Fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution is a key part of the strategy for revolution. In carrying out such a radical strategy for such a radical goal, the clubs must of necessity be the most radical, convention-breaking, not-playing-by-the-rules thing out there—and must bring forward masses to defend them when they are attacked for being that.

Spreading and acting on the basis of the Points of Attention for the Revolution, the clubs have to go through the world as people living and embodying the values of the future world we’re fighting to bring into being. This too is a pole of attraction to the revolution for many. The clubs should be open to everyone who agrees to the Points of Attention, working and struggling with and learning from people, and not thinking everyone, or most people, will go “from zero to sixty.” The clubs must embody a way of organizing and working with people that is gone into in the “Commitment and the Process of Building a Movement FOR Revolution” piece from earlier this summer.

On that same basis of the new communism that BA has brought forward, clubs should be able to communicate and be collective with each other about challenges they face. If we make advances, we should share and learn from those. If we make mistakes, we should use the science of the new communism to sum them up and help everyone learn how to do better from them. If we have ideas or thoughts or things we need to surface, we should struggle to write them up or tape them or find some other way to get these out for everyone to collectively wrangle with. People in the clubs should go boldly onto social media, spreading their thinking and creativity, and jumping into struggles as they are occurring—from the highest level they can reach, and modeling a sharpness of understanding of the problem-solution, a principled stance toward all, and generosity of spirit that will stand in sharp contrast to too much of what is in the culture now.

How We Can WIN talks about organizing thousands now. This has to be, and is, for real. The Revolution Clubs must become “a thing”—a real organized force, a critical mass—where they are now, including in Chicago where the Party and the Revolution Club have vowed to reverse how people in the world see that city as a place where people from the basic masses are senselessly killing each other. And they must spread everywhere, to where they are not yet, seeding and building new clubs. More than that, the Revolution Club must act and impact as a national force. As part of this, people all over, on the basis of getting into How We Can WIN, or reading or hearing BA’s works and wanting to take them up, or otherwise learning what the club stands for, need to form up clubs; and the more experienced clubs need to be able to go help people who want to form new ones.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/559/the-murderer-of-laquan-mcdonald-must-not-walk-free-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Statement from the Revolution Club, Chicago

THE MURDERER OF LAQUAN MCDONALD MUST NOT WALK FREE!
WE NEED AN ACTUAL REVOLUTION!! AND WE NEED YOU TO BE PART OF IT!

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Seconds after exiting his patrol car, Jason Van Dyke pumped 16 shots into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, murdering him in cold blood. For over a year, the authorities lied and covered up the video. When it was finally released, millions of people around the world learned the truth: Laquan McDonald was gunned down as he walked away from the police. Smoke rose from his body lying on the street as he was shot over and over on the ground.

Waves of protest rocked Chicago after the video was released. These protests led to something almost unheard of—a police officer charged with murder for killing someone while on duty. Van Dyke’s trial starts September 5. The stakes are high in this trial. The skids are being greased to let Van Dyke walk by claiming he shot Laquan McDonald in self-defense. Pig after pig around the country has walked free with the claim “I feared for my life.” This is a claim triggering and reinforced by the vicious racist demonization of Black people in this country, which is now taking a leap with the openly white supremacist, fascist Trump/Pence regime in power.

If Van Dyke walks free, and the system is able to shove that verdict down the throats of the people, this will be a big green light for straight up genocide. THIS CANNOT GO DOWN!

From the slave catchers to the KKK lynch mobs to the heavily armed police of today, this system has always terrorized the masses of Black people as a whole. To put an end to this, the whole system needs to be overthrown, and we have to protest and resist the brutality of this system NOW as part of how we get ready for the time when millions can be led to go for revolution, all-out, with a real chance to win.

As it says in the strategy for revolution, HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution,

We need to oppose and disrupt the moves of the ruling powers to isolate, “encircle,” brutalize, mass incarcerate and murderously repress the people who have the hardest life under this system and who most need this revolution. We need to “encircle” them—by bringing forth wave upon wave of people rising up in determined opposition to this system.

The murder of Black people by police goes along with the genocidal persecution, mass incarceration, and police brutality and murder directed at Brown and Native American people; the patriarchal degradation, dehumanization, and subjugation of all women everywhere, and the oppression of LGBTQ people; wars of empire, armies of occupation, and crimes against humanity; the demonization, criminalization, and deportation of immigrants and militarization of the border; and the destruction of our planet by capitalism-imperialism. You cannot stop these horrors so long as we have this system; they are ALL built into its functioning. This system cannot be reformed. IT MUST BE OVERTHROWN!

We need to stop ALL these outrages and move beyond ALL relations of exploitation and oppression. And to do that WE NEED AN ACTUAL REVOLUTION!

Revolution does not mean some minor changes within this system. Revolution means the actual overthrow—yes, overthrow—of this system, through actually defeating its armed forces of oppression and repression, when the necessary conditions (a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions) have been brought into being. This revolution will dismantle the institutions of this capitalist-imperialist system and build a whole new society on a radically different economic and political basis.

Everything the Revolution Club does is aimed at getting to the point where millions could be led to fight, all-out, with a real chance to win—to really make revolution. This revolution will replace this system of capitalism-imperialism with a far better system—one that is truly emancipatory—as embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America. This revolution has the leadership to do this in Bob Avakian—who has brought forward a NEW COMMUNISM, a way to understand and transform the whole world. It is time for all of us who cannot stand the way people have to live today to become part of this process, to check out, get with, and enlist with the Revolution Club.

(312) 804-9121
Revclub.chi@gmail.com
facebook.com/revclubchi/
1857 E. 71st Street
Chicago, Illinois 60649

 

 

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for the costs of Revolution Club Chicago’s legal defenses and challenges HERE

Donate

to support the work of the Revolution Club Chicago HERE

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/558/first-experience-getting-out-how-we-can-win-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

First Experience with Getting Out HOW WE CAN WIN: “This is about humanity in the planet getting free”

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is from a reader sharing their first outing getting out HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution:

Today there was a counter-protest against a “Blue Lives Matter rally,” and Refuse Fascism was taking part in that. This was mainly led by a coalition of leftist, socialist, anarchist, etc. collectives and Refuse Fascism had been asked to endorse just a couple days before. We didn’t really get to plan this task of getting out HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution (HWCW) due to constraints, but I have been paying attention to the experience and reports of others on the website (particularly "What It Means to Really WIELD HOW WE CAN WIN"). I went into this thinking that some kind of “jolt,” some kind of clash between opposing futures, would be the best moment to get this out in a mass way the most effectively.

At one point, there was a confrontation between the pigs and counter-protestors and it turned very violent, very quickly. It just so happened that we were outside of a church in Center City, one that has a long progressive history, but these people were actually there for a funeral. It was mainly a family affair, but a few other people were waiting at the bus stop in the same spot.

They were puzzled as to what was going on in front of them, and nobody was talking to them, so I figured this was the best moment to seize upon. I walked over and started agitating about how protesters were righteously standing up against police brutality and white supremacy, and just like the pigs they are, they cracked down on the people who were standing up for a better world. This sparked some real anger in the crowd towards the police and they were getting vocal, cursing while recording them. They were narrating what was going down to their cameras, with one taking note to her viewers about how they don’t do just this to Black people. I started to let people know that there was an actual political and military strategy to defeat these repressive forces of this system and bring a better system into place right here in my hand, developed by the Revolutionary Communist Party. I had to clarify several times that this protest wasn’t led by the RCP and that wasn’t what was going on right now. I told people about how there is finally the strategy for a way out of this for real, and that we don’t have to accept living in a world where the people are “encircled and brutalized” like they were seeing now. People were still kind of just watching and frozen in place for a bit.

So I asked, “Is there anyone here who doesn’t want to live under this system anymore?” Silence...

“Is there ANYONE here who refuses to accept a world like this and wants out?” Silence...

“You can’t tell me that NOBODY here wants to get free! Someone! Where are you?”

A man pushes through the crowd and says he’ll take a copy. Two women follow suit shortly, one after being motioned by her son to do so. I got lost in the moment and just started getting them into outstretched hands. It wasn’t a whole lot, but close to10 since I didn’t have a huge stack in my hand. People starting reading it right away, and I could overhear people talking about how sick they were of this police violence shit repeatedly.

It looked like things were moving on, so I went back over to the counter-protest. Everything got split up as some counter-protesters went off in a different direction. I was able to get some out to Refuse Fascism volunteers that had not heard about it, agitating on similar points and directly reading from Part 2 at one point about how we need to “encircle them.”

This is also an area where a lot of homeless people gather and hang out. They had been watching everything go down and then actually tried to call us out for not fighting the cops ourselves (and he was talking to Refuse Fascism). One guy was just going on and on, I was going to let him say his piece but he wasn’t trying to hear anything back. He really didn’t know shit about us or what was going on here, and I was about to read from HWCW right there to shut the infantile bullshit and fighting on unfavorable terms he was trying to push us towards. It was hard for me to take this, not because he was heart-checking me or belittling my intelligence, but because people in these conditions need to dig into this and wield it too and not being caught up in losing strategies, and how we need to fight for this to be seen as the leading authority. However this wasn’t the only thing I had to do today, and I was being pulled away by others who did not wish to entertain them.

A lot can and should be said about how to do this more scientifically, in a more living and refined way. I look forward to struggling and being struggled with. This is all bigger than me. This is about humanity in the planet getting free, wiping the system of capitalism-imperialism off the earth and entering a communist epoch. I am just so personally fulfilled to have been part of taking this out to people straight-up and inviting them to be a part of this movement to end all exploitation and oppression, including with all the bullshit and danger that comes with this. Several times I thought of how people in other areas are doing this too, in other parts of the world, and I was filled with a greater, solemn sense of urgency and excitement.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/547/commitment-and-process-of-building-movement-for-revolution-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Commitment and the Process of Building a Movement FOR Revolution

June 11, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

People need to be serious in whatever commitments they make—they need to follow through on such commitments—and we should set and struggle for this to be the standard and the actual reality. But getting involved in the movement for an actual revolution has a specific dynamic that differs, say, from joining a sports team or a music group. We should not demand “zero to sixty” right away—or, in any case, try to force a leap, rather than winning people to it as part of an overall revolutionary process. What we need to be building is a continually developing mass movement for revolution—yes, an actual revolution—with a vibrant “Ohio,”* through which exponentially growing numbers of people can be actively involved and continue to advance (not all, but many of them) through the dialectical interplay of contributing and learning in continually increasing dimensions. As for those who do reach the “advanced end” of this “Ohio,” again this raises the question of their becoming not only part of the Revolution Club but also making the further leap to becoming part of the communist vanguard; but here again as well, the question of commitment should not be approached (even if in a somewhat “backhanded” way) from the negative, defensive position that amounts to: “We have had people make commitments and then not keep them, and then disappear (‘ghost’) on us; so we are going to make sure you don’t (can’t) do that!” Rather, we should proceed with the recognition that commitment, while it involves and requires (repeated) leaps along the way, essentially corresponds to and is grounded in what aspirations have been awakened, or brought forward, in people, and what they are coming to understand is required in relation to that. So, again, while we do need to have a serious attitude with regard to people making and carrying through on commitments, this must be commensurate with what their understanding and sentiments are at a given point, and most essentially must be in the context of and contribute to the broader mass revolutionary movement that they are part of (or becoming part of) and, while not involving any tailing, should proceed from what they themselves have been won (yes, won through struggle, even at times sharp struggle) to see as a necessary and essential contribution to the revolution.

 

* The “Ohio” refers to the Ohio State marching band’s practice of marching in such a way as to spell out “OHIO” when viewed from above; in this process, band members who begin the first O, then move through the other letters of the word until they are at the last “O”. The point is that there is an analogous process involved in building any kind of progressive or revolutionary movement, in which people “move through” various levels of understanding and commitment, though this is not (“in the real world”) quite so linear and in lockstep as the Ohio State marching band!*

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/557/drop-the-charges-against-revolutionaries-and-refusefascism-activists-in-LA-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Drop the Charges Against Revolutionaries and RefuseFascism Activists in Los Angeles!

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Pack the court room: Wednesday, September 5th 8:30am Metropolitan Courthouse ~ 1945 S. Hill St. (Washington & Hill, near the Metro Blue Line) Dept. 60

The Los Angeles city attorney has just criminally charged 11 members of Refuse Fascism, including members of the Revolution Club, an Iraq War vet, a Ph.D. student and college instructor, as well as a noted artist and University of Southern California (USC) professor. Their arraignment dates begin August 27 and continue through September and October. The multiple misdemeanor charges stem from three significant events, including two actions on the 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles last fall, and from a public challenge in March to Trump’s treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin at UCLA.

These criminal charges by the LA city attorney represent an effort by the state to silence dissent against the Trump/Pence regime. They specifically target members of Refuse Fascism, including revolutionary communists and a professor, for being unwavering in their pledge to not stand aside while there is still a chance to stop a regime that imperils humanity and the Earth itself. The defendants are calling for tens of millions of people across the U.S. to get out of their comfort zones and not allow differences to stand in the way of rising together in an unprecedented, unrelenting mass struggle to demand: This Nightmare Must End—The Trump/Pence Regime MUST GO!

They need your support now:

The 101 Freeway stoppages, the first in September 2017 and the second in November 2017, were a clarion call to the whole of society that a dangerous fascist regime—the Trump/Pence regime—had seized and was consolidating power, and that we—the people of the world—faced an emergency situation and millions needed to rupture with “politics as usual.” Then and now, we have to face the reality that this regime poses an existential threat to humanity, and we need to act accordingly: to get into the streets in our tens of thousands—ultimately galvanizing millions—with the single objective of driving this fascist regime from power.

The September 2017 freeway action called for “NOV 4—IT BEGINS!”—an opening salvo that put the November 4 call for sustained protests on the map with the single objective of removing the fascist Trump/Pence regime (video). The November 2017 freeway action featured protesters unveiling a 60-foot banner on the downtown LA freeway at rush hour, which read “TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO” (video). These freeway actions aimed to “shake society awake” and caused widespread controversy. They were viewed by over five million people on social media, rattled the base of Trump/Pence fascist forces, and boldly put before people—including tens of millions of people who abhor the Trump/Pence regime—the urgent necessity to break out of the process of normalizing this dangerous fascist regime, to rupture with illusions that “it can't happen here” and to take up the urgent task of driving this fascist regime from power through nonviolent, massive, sustained nationwide protests.

UCLA’s invitation to treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin in February 2018—the first Trump/Pence regime cabinet member invited to speak at UCLA—was a grotesque normalization of fascism by UCLA authorities. On this big political stage (the action can be seen on videos that have been viewed by millions), Mnuchin, and the Trump/Pence regime, were eloquently exposed as murderous criminals whose fascist policies are destroying the lives of millions of people in the U.S. and around the world. The charges against the people who publicly challenged Mnuchin include “interfering with peaceful conduct of a campus facility,” “disturbing the peace,” “trespassing to interfere,” and “obstructing a public officer.” You can watch the video of three women publicly challenging Mnuchin as they are physically removed from the auditorium and arrested at Mnuchin’s presentation. This was followed by arrests of others—by UC police—who were protesting the unjust arrests that had just occurred in the auditorium, and then by UC police vamping on and arresting two of the same defendants one week later as they were merely standing in line to attend a talk at UCLA by Chelsea Manning!

These criminal charges are not only retaliation for these brave and righteous acts, but also concentrate efforts by authorities high up in the Trump/Pence regime and at UCLA (in league with other powerful forces on college campuses), to suppress and ultimately eliminate the space for protest at UCLA and on college campuses across the country—efforts that objectively give carte blanche to fascists on campus under the signboard of “free speech,” when in fact such fascists parading and being protected at UCLA and on other campuses are a critical front of the Trump/Pence regime’s intense drive to consolidate a fascist society and government, with dire implications for billions around the world.

Since December 2016, the Los Angeles chapter of Refuse Fascism has dedicated itself to driving the Trump/Pence regime from power, organizing and participating in countless rallies, marches, and other actions. Some of these actions have included acts of civil disobedience, where individuals have bravely risked arrest and put their lives on the line to oppose the consolidation of fascism in America. These individuals are now facing prosecution for their acts of conscience, with a number of arraignments scheduled for the coming weeks. Your support is needed NOW. Call the LA city attorney to demand the charges be dropped. Show up at the courthouse to demonstrate to the judges and prosecutors that the world is watching. Donate to help with legal costs. The charges (which include “conspiracy to commit a crime,” “obstruction of free movement of people,” “disobeying a police officer,” and “refusal to disperse”) carry fines and penalties of 2+ years jail time, meaning that these fellow freedom fighters could be locked up merely for acts of principled resistance, while the true criminals in Washington remain free to continue their hideous policies of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and planetary destruction.

 

Above, in September 2017, protesters Block Highway 101, Carrying signs that say November 4th it Begins... This nighmare must end. The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! November 4 It Begins.

Below, in November 2017 5 protesters unfurl #TrumpPenceMustGo banner on the LA 101 freeway

No! In the name of humanity, we refuse to accept a fascist America!

Read, share and endorse the full Refuse Fascism Call to Action here.

Find out more about Refuse Fascism here.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/559/south-texas-fascists-step-up-ethnic-cleansing-campaign-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

South Texas: Federal and State Fascists Step Up Campaign of Ethnic Cleansing of Latino People

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Two dangerous developments attacking and isolating immigrants and people of Mexican descent, especially (for now) those who live near the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas, became public last week.

“Fascism, Pure and Simple”

The U.S. State Department is withdrawing and denying passports from people whose birth records indicate they were born in the U.S. The Washington Post reported, “The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown.” The government is using the pretext of a scattering of cases of midwives falsifying birth documents in order to threaten the citizenship of potentially tens of thousands of Latinos whose births were overseen by midwives—even though the regime does not even pretend to have evidence showing the individuals they are challenging have falsified documents.

People with official Texas birth certificates are now jailed in immigration detention centers. Deportation proceedings have begun against some of them. Others are unable to leave Mexico, because U.S. passports they have long held were revoked when they tried to reenter the U.S. In some cases, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have arrived without notice at people’s homes and taken away their passports.

Denial of passports to people whose births were tended by a midwife actually began during the George W. Bush administration, and continued under Obama. It ended in 2009, after a lawsuit litigated by the American Civil Liberties Union. But denying and revoking passports—and the overall persecution of people of Mexican descent along the Texas border with Mexico, which means the overwhelming majority of people there—has surged during the Trump/Pence years. Cases of revoking passports “are skyrocketing,” a lawyer defending dozens of these people said.

As an article in Esquire stated, “This is fascism, pure and simple.”

Denying Schooling to Children

Also in South Texas, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) ruled last week that state funding will not be used to “provide teachers and other resources to school-aged children housed in migrant shelters” (in other words, concentration camps). The Trump/Pence regime’s “zero tolerance” policy of separating families arrested at the border supposedly ended in June. But nearly 500 children remain in federal detention centers, with little or no contact with family members. Many of these are along the border. School teachers from Harlingen and San Benito who had been sent to these centers will no longer be allowed to hold classes in them.

These children have been repeatedly traumatized by their experience of migration, violence in their homeland, family separation, and imprisonment. Now they are being confined in frigid rooms they call “ice boxes.” They are separated from anyone who cares for them. Before Texas denied funds for these children’s education, Michael Olivas, who teaches immigration and education law at the University of Houston, said, “It is a detestable lie that they’re being educated.” Now even the pretense of education is being removed.

TEA makes the viciously hypocritical claim that schools could voluntarily provide help to these children. But school districts across the state have been devastated by drastic cuts in funding, and struggle to provide minimum services to students already enrolled. Districts along the border have always been among the most impoverished in the state. The TEA is leaving the door open to the possibility of private entities providing “education” to these children, which would almost certainly mean turning them over to Christian fundamentalist indoctrination.

In the Crosshairs of Fascist Attacks on Immigrants

These attacks are abominable and must be stopped!

They also are a dangerous leap on the road to consolidated fascism. The Trump/Pence regime and fascists in Texas and other state governments are tearing apart long-standing rights and laws, and targeting people for harsh and relentless repression based on where they were born, their accent, their names, their skin color. Vicious, bloody attacks on immigrants along the border and oppression of people of Mexican descent have been defining features of U.S. capitalism-imperialism for over a century. The Trump/Pence regime is taking these to horrific new levels, and rewriting the laws to justify their repression.

In the case of the denial of education to detainees, ICE regulations mandate that school-age children in shelters must receive six hours of structured instruction on weekdays and special education services if needed. Texas law requires children from six to 18 (or until they have a high school diploma) to attend school in some form. But the state government, which is completely dominated by Christian fascists, declared that it is “not obligated” to provide education to children in federally run centers.

And as regards the denial of passports from U.S. citizens, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States ... are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” This amendment was passed after the U.S. Civil War, and granted citizenship to former slaves and their descendants. Now the Trump/Pence regime is denying it to people of Mexican descent based on outrageous and unsubstantiated claims that they used false birth certificates to establish citizenship.

These moves to tear up existing law, and ending even the most basic Constitutional rights people supposedly have, are part of a systematic fascist drive towards “making America white again” and English-only. While these attacks are concentrated in South Texas, there is absolutely no reason to think they will stop there, or not be used against anyone the fascist state considers “suspect.” They must be opposed as part of a fierce struggle to drive the fascist Trump/Pence regime from power.

More fundamentally, a system that torments and imprisons children and deprives them of basic needs, a system that abruptly denies the most fundamental rights to thousands of people because of their ethnicity, and threatens untold thousands more, has no legitimacy. It must be overthrown through an actual revolution.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/557/cheers-to-relatives-of-mollie-tibbetts-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Cheers to Relatives of Mollie Tibbetts for Taking on Trump's Xenophobic Scapegoating Even Through Their Grief

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Update: Mollie Tibbetts’ father condemns the use of Mollie’s death to promote racism

In a powerful September 1 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, Rob Tibbetts, the father of Mollie Tibbetts, condemned those who have “distorted and corrupted” his daughter’s death to advance “views she believed were profoundly racist” and called on them to stop. He did not identify anyone by name, but clearly he was referring to Trump and others around him.

Rob Tibbetts said the person accused of taking Mollie’s life, allegedly an undocumented immigrant, no more reflects the Latino community than white supremacists reflect all white people. “To suggest otherwise is a lie.” In the name of his entire family he extended an apology to Latino people for what’s being done to them in Mollie’s name. “We treasure the contribution you bring to the American tapestry in all its color and melody. And yes, we love your food.”

Tibbetts said his stepdaughter is Latina and her sons are Latino. “That means I am Hispanic. I am African. I am Asian. I am European. My blood runs from every corner of the Earth because I am American.” And he said that the racist use of Mollie’s death “incites fear in innocent communities and lends legitimacy to the darkest, most hate-filled corners of the American soul.... It is the opposite of humanity. It is heartless. It is despicable. It is shameful.” He finished by calling on people to “turn against racism in all its ugly manifestations both subtle and overt.” Cheers to Rob Tibbetts for his courage, in this painful moment, to refuse to allow the fascists to use his daughter’s death to promote their program of ethnic cleansing.

Mollie Tibbetts has been missing for a month, and now her body has been found. A tragic killing of a 20-year-old with her whole life ahead of her. An allegedly undocumented man (this has been disputed by his lawyer) has been charged with her killing. Trump wasted no seconds to convict not just this individual, but ALL undocumented immigrants... and really all immigrants. He is using this tragic death to spew out his demand for his racist border wall and even greater terror against immigrants already here, whom he calls “animals.” A move taken straight out of Hitler’s play book—constantly blasting out to the world every crime (real or invented) committed by Jews to intentionally paint all Jewish people as criminals and “vermin.”

In this context, it is all the more important that even through their grief, members of Mollie Tibbetts' family spoke out against this. Mollie’s aunt wrote on Facebook “Evil comes in every color,” a pointed rebuke to Trump’s use of this death to demonize all immigrants. And a cousin took on pro-Trump commentator Candace Owens on Twitter to blast the way she also tried to use Mollie Tibbetts' murder to fan anti-immigrant hatred:

Bob Avakian, "Why do people come here from all over the world?"

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Do You Know How Many Innocents the U.S. Is Killing—Right Now—in Yemen?
Do You Know WHY... and WHAT That Tells Us?

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

What would you say—and do—if you knew the United States was directly involved in slaughtering and maiming thousands of civilians, including children? If you knew it was deliberately starving millions of people and exposing them to deadly diseases? That both political parties supported this cruelty and killing, and actions constituting war crimes? And that this system’s media was largely censoring this story so very few people know it’s happening—or WHY it’s happening?

Well, this is exactly what the United States and its close allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are doing right now in the bitterly poor country of Yemen in the Middle East.

On August 9, a bus full of children was returning from a recreational outing in Sa’ada in northern Yemen when it was obliterated by a U.S.-made bomb, fired from a U.S.-made plane by Saudi Arabia. Body parts were strewn over a crowded street: 40 children and 11 adults were killed and 79 more wounded, 56 of them children. At the hospital, “Some were screaming, some were scared, many went straight to the morgue,” one aid worker said.

The strike was deliberate: Saudi Arabia called the school bus full of children a “legitimate target.”

This wasn’t an exception or “mistake.” On August 23, Saudi warplanes attacked a refugee camp and killed at least 31 civilians, including 22 children. In late April, the Saudis bombed a wedding in the village of Raqah, killing 22. “There was blood everywhere,” one survivor said. Saudi Arabia and the UAE—backed by the U.S., Britain, and France—are deliberately targeting civilians—bombing hospitals, clinics, schools, apartment buildings, markets, gas stations, factories, farms, and more.

“The Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support”

The United Nations estimates that since the U.S.-backed Saudi war on Yemen began three years ago, at least 6,475 civilians had been killed and more than 10,000 injured, and that the “real figure is likely to be significantly higher.”

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fighting with U.S. planes, loaded with U.S. bombs, directed by U.S. intelligence, and enabled by U.S., British, and French political support. One former CIA agent said, “The Royal Saudi Air Force cannot operate without American and British support.”

One victim in Raqah said, “If it wasn’t for the American aircraft, Saudi Arabia would never strike Yemen.... America gives them weapons, and the Saudis hit us.”

As If This Weren’t Bad Enough:
Waging War Through Mass Starvation and Disease

This slaughter from the air is being carried out to terrorize millions of Yemenis into submission as part of defeating Yemen’s Houthi movement. But in some ways this isn’t even the worst of it. The U.S.-Saudi-UAE are also attacking Yemen’s food chain, launching 250 attacks on fishing boats, 942 attacks on farms, 114 on markets, and 61 on food storage sites, according to the Guardian, while restricting shipments of food to a country that imports 90 percent of its supplies! One study concluded this was a deliberate strategy “to destroy food production and distribution” in Houthi-controlled areas.

This has left 22 of Yemen’s 28 million people in need of humanitarian aid to survive and 8.4 million on the brink of starvation.

The Worst Cholera Epidemic in History: “I felt like death”

U.S.-backed Saudi attacks have also destroyed much of Yemen’s water and health infrastructure and led to the largest epidemic of deadly cholera in history: one million Yemenis were infected last year. “The cholera ward is full of children,” CBC (Canada) reports, “some writhing in agony, others eerily still, and the blanket over one boy too weak to move rises and falls with his shallow breathing.”

This war is hitting children hardest—113,000 children in Yemen died of hunger or preventable disease in the last two years.

The UN also reports that UAE troops are carrying out widespread detention and torture in their prisons, and the abduction and rape of women to extort money from family members.

All this barbarity hasn’t led to victory. So on June 13, Saudi Arabia and the UAE—with U.S., British, and French backing, escalated—assaulting Al Hudaydah, the port through which three-quarters of Yemen’s humanitarian aid flows. They even destroyed a Doctors Without Borders cholera treatment facility that had just opened.

Why Are the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Going to Such Extremes?

Why have the U.S. and Saudi Arabia unleashed such massive, savage violence against the people of Yemen? And what does this reveal about America’s economic and political system?

Why? Because the wealth and resources piled up by capitalist-imperialist America have come first from slavery and theft of land domestically, and then from the relentless economic, political, and military domination and exploitation of key regions, key resources, and especially the masses of people all over the world. This is what enables the rulers to deliver the spoils—the standard of living—to people in this country that it does, to keep their system running and maintain their political power.

The Middle East is one of those key regions, and Saudi Arabia, the world’s leading oil exporter, is a key cog in the whole U.S. empire. It plays a critical role in America’s economic, energy, and financial dominance. It’s located near key global trade and transit routes. And it has been a key operator for the U.S.—propping up its shaky clients, helping derail anti-imperialist struggle, and directly facilitating many U.S. wars, military assaults, coups, and interventions around the world.

Maintaining U.S. domination of the Middle East and keeping Saudi Arabia’s oppressive, theocratic monarchy in power has compelled America’s imperialist rulers—Democrats and Republicans alike—to back or carry out massive crimes—wars, invasions, coups, sanctions, and backing tyrannical “allies”—for the past 70 years. This region of over 300 million people has been left with the ongoing ethnic cleansing in Palestine; shattered societies in Libya, Syria, and Iraq; millions dead and tens of millions of refugees; brutal torturers in power; women chained and suffocated by patriarchy; the rampant spread of Dark Ages religious fundamentalism—all while America plunders its resources, especially oil.

Now the U.S. is supporting the slaughter in Yemen because they feel it’s critical to maintaining Saudi Arabia’s stability, power, and influence, and because it’s one front in their all-around assault on the Islamic Republic of Iran, which they consider their main regional challenger at the moment.

This is why Obama OK’ed the war, and now the Trump/Pence regime is escalating it. This is why literally tens of thousands of Yemeni children have been slaughtered, starved, and infected by disease—for no other reason than the need of America to maintain its global dominance and the monstrous world of oppression and exploitation it presides over.

What Does This Tell You?

Any system that depends on massacring, starving, and infecting millions isn’t a system fit to exist a moment longer. Any system that’s carried out these crimes decade after decade—no matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in power—has proven it cannot be reformed, that THIS is how it operates. Any system like this needs to be overthrown through revolution as soon as the conditions come into being that make that possible. People need to confront the real nature of an empire based on starving children, HERE, and the real solution to ending it, and all the horrors it inflicts on humanity, HERE.

Children returning from a recreational outing in Yemen were obliterated by a U.S.-made bomb. This was not a mistake; hospitals, clinics, schools, apartment buildings, markets, gas stations, factories, farms are considered legitimate targets. The U.S. supports the slaughter in Yemen because it’s critical to maintaining Saudi Arabia’s stability in the area. (Photo: AP)

BA Speaks:
REVOLUTION — NOTHING LESS!
Bob Avakian Live

A must-see film of a talk given by Bob Avakian in 2012. Watch the entire film HERE.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/558/on-the-importance-of-the-death-of-john-mccain-en.html

Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Letter From A Reader:

On the Importance of the Death of John McCain and the Struggle Within the Ruling Class

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To the editors:

John McCain’s death is being treated by the major media as an event of extraordinary import.  He is being lionized as an American hero and exemplar of principle.  Why?  What does it have to do with actually making revolution and, in the current context, driving out the Trump/Pence regime?

For this is indeed MAJOR.  Only 32 people have lain in state in the Capitol in U.S. history, as McCain’s body is now doing.  Sunday programming on CNN and MSNBC was almost totally given over to McCain, including quite a bit on his antagonism toward Trump.  But it went further: McCain and those around him arranged to release a posthumous “deathbed” statement clearly intended to serve as a rallying cry and cohering position for the opposition to the regime (more on this statement shortly).  Further still, McCain not only left instructions that Trump was NOT to be invited to his funeral, he also arranged for the former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama to speak at it. 

The refusal to invite Trump is not a fit of pique (“McCain’s famous temper”) but rather a very calculated move intended to directly question the legitimacy of the entire regime.  The invitation to the two former presidents, who have serious differences with each other and can be said to represent two sections of the opposition to the Trump/Pence regime within the ruling class, is, like the deathbed statement, meant to use his own death to cohere the opposition.  By the same token, Trump’s refusal—at first—to continue to fly the White House flag at half mast and then his caving into this under pressure also shows the depth of what is being fought out.

In a word: What is being done in relation to the extensive memorials around McCain represents a “patrician clarion call” for “bipartisan rescuing of the Republic” on the basis of long‑established “norms” and “principles,” and on that basis to ensure the ongoing primacy of the U.S. in the world. This will have a spontaneous appeal well beyond sections of the ruling class, reaching well into much of the middle class, and even some of the basic masses.

In fact, McCain was a dedicated, loyal, and aggressive representative and fighter for this system and its role as a dominant force in the world, who adhered to and fought for the “norms” and “principles” of this system—and did so in the last years of his life in sharp opposition to what is represented by Trump and his trampling on those “principles” and “norms.” On the part of McCain and those who are now engaging in a massive effort to celebrate his life and hold him up as a great hero and model, one of their main indictments and focuses of struggle against Trump is that they believe what Trump is doing is undermining the dominant role of America in the world.  And the truth is that this system, and the “principles” and “norms,” and the dominant role of the USA in the worldwhich McCain, and others, have adhered to and championedhave embodied and perpetrated brutal, murderous, truly monstrous oppression and exploitation, plunder and destruction, here and all over the world, from the founding of this country down to today.

Why Is This Conflict Between Rulers Important?

To get a sense of why this is important, and how to view it, let’s go back to the two paragraphs that we run on this site every week.

The Democrats, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, etc., are seeking to resolve the crisis with the Trump presidency on the terms of this system, and in the interests of the ruling class of this system, which they represent.  We, the masses of people, must go all out, and mobilize ourselves in the millions, to resolve this in our interests, in the interests of humanity, which are fundamentally different from and opposed to those of the ruling class.

This, of course, does not mean that the struggle among the powers that be is irrelevant or unimportant; rather, the way to understand and approach this (and this is a point that must also be repeatedly driven home to people, including through necessary struggle, waged well) is in terms of how it relates to, and what openings it can provide for, “the struggle from below” for the mobilization of masses of people around the demand that the whole regime must go, because of its fascist nature and actions and what the stakes are for humanity.

Let’s get into this.  Conflicts within the ruling class do not in and of themselves make for a revolution or even the fall of a regime.  But Bob Avakian, drawing from Lenin and applying his insight further, has gone into how such splits can stimulate struggle “from below.”  Depending on how that struggle then develops, this can blossom into a full-blown fissure through which, as Lenin put it, the “indignation” of the masses bursts through, which holds the potential for positive radical change.

At the same time, splits among the rulers also exert a magnetic pull on the masses of people away from fighting in their own interests and toward lining up instead with one or another side of the bourgeoisie.  This relates to another point from Lenin that BA has emphasized and developed: that there is a “striving” on the part of the masses—and not just the middle strata—to “come under the wing” of one or another section of the bourgeoisie.  The masses come into motion but they do so, if not immediately then fairly soon, spontaneously gravitating to the banners, slogans, programs and watchwords of those who represent the interests of other classes.  To do otherwise requires a “step into the unknown.” 

For this, there needs to be leadership prepared to reveal the class interests behind the honeyed words of the ruling class and their mouthpieces. Further: people need to be organized to make that step into the unknown and that requires both the sharpest agitation and the ability to identify, speak to and break through on questions that are pulling masses away from that step.

Otherwise people will again become played.  Lenin said:

People always were and always will be the foolish victims of deceit and self-deceit in politics until they learn to discover the interests of some class or other behind all moral, religious, political and social phrases, declarations and promises. The supporters of reforms and improvements will always be fooled by the defenders of the old order until they realize that every old institution, however barbarous and rotten it may appear to be, is maintained by the forces of some ruling classes.

Think about it: when ruling class figures from both parties, and the major media repeat in a loop over and over that McCain was an American hero who stood for principle, whose interests are they promoting: the people all over the world and here who have been murdered and maimed by U.S. bombs and discrimination and police terror? Or, the interests of the system in seeing this perpetuated?  People are drilled in what BA has called the Great Tautological Fallacy that, since Americans are the “good guys,” then everything America does is by definition good—no matter how horrible the atrocity would seem were it done by a different force that is NOT America and hence NOT a “good guy.”  This gives all the more emphasis and importance to Lenin’s point.

So while it certainly won’t do to fixate on such splits, neither can you ignore them... if you are serious about revolution, or any major change for that matter.  These splits and those tendencies form a major part of the terrain on which revolution would be made or on which any major significant social change short of revolution will be fought for. 

On What Terms Is This Unity Being Forged?

Let’s go further into WHAT it means to attempt to make McCain the unifying symbol of the opposition.  The article previously run at revcom.us makes clear the horrendous crimes carried out by McCain personally and the bloodthirsty militarism he came to champion as a political figure, and I won’t repeat all of that here.  McCain fanatically supported every act of military aggression by the U.S. in the past six decades and his only criticisms were that the U.S. either hadn’t been aggressive and brutal enough in one or another of these aggressions, or else had not undertaken it. McCain, in the 2008 election, ran on the platform of escalating the war against Iraq (a point conveniently glossed over in all the tributes).  The recent grotesque and ominous bill that Trump put forward to jack up military spending was literally named after McCain (a move by forces in the Senate that Trump bridled at but had to go along with). 

What we began with on the character of the conflict between McCain and the regime (the “norms” of how America should dominate and plunder the world, not whether) is highlighted in McCain’s deathbed statement.  The heart of the statement says:

“Fellow Americans”—that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.

We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.

While taking full note of this conscious deception wrapped in a god-given “blessed” patriotism, which has been and is at the core of the fascism that is now concentrated in the Republican Party, this is clearly a call to be more aggressive (it is rather bald, though true and unwittingly quite revealing, how McCain links America’s acquisition of “great wealth and power” to these wars).  But the key thing is his insistence on waging war under the banner of so-called “American ideals” and not under an open and blatant white supremacist America-uber-alles chauvinism.  McCain’s remark on walls is also significant.  McCain represented a section of the bourgeoisie that viewed immigration in the context not only of U.S. economic necessity (the super-exploitation of Mexican labor has always been the cornerstone of the capitalist economy in the southwest and western U.S.), but as one part of maintaining domination over Latin America and Mexico in particular, in part through “soft power” (that is, economic, political and cultural domination in conjunction with the brute force bullying that sometimes seems to be the only chord in the Trump/Pence theme).  He, like the Bushes and Obama, sought to forge an arrangement where immigration could continue but under greater U.S. control. 

It is telling that McCain’s statement does NOT say anything about white supremacy or misogyny.  Here I have to say that one of the greatest failings of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is that there has never been an alert about one of the most damaging epidemics in America, which is the amnesia intentionally spread by the media. Let’s go back to 2008, when McCain campaigned against Barack Obama.  Let’s remember that McCain chose as his running mate Sarah Palin.  Palin was a relative unknown, but McCain knew enough to know that she was an open rabid racist and would play the role of giving voice to the really raw racist shit that the Republi-fascists need to gin up their core supporters and intimidate their opponents.  By the end of the campaign, not just Palin’s rallies but McCain’s as well were over the top with people foaming at the mouth and literally screaming out racist epithets and calling for Obama’s death, to the point where other members of the ruling class felt compelled to privately intervene with him on how dangerous this was getting to larger interests.

One would almost have to laugh—if the stakes were not so high—at how the media has now conveniently put that all at the doorstep of Palin (as if she were somehow snuck into the campaign under McCain’s nose).  And they have glorified McCain’s supposed “profile in courage” moment when he told a supporter that Obama was “not an Arab, he’s a decent family man.”  Really!?!  Think about the logic here.  The whole argument rests on the assumption that Arabs are not “decent family men,” Obama is a decent family man, therefore Obama is not an Arab.  It is also not mentioned that by this point in the campaign the predominant forces of the ruling class had united around Obama as the one for the moment—America was in serious crisis over both the failed Iraq war AND the financial meltdown which had just occurred—and it was clear that McCain was going down.  In this case, with this pallid (and, again, essentially racist) demurral McCain fell on his sword or, to use today’s language, took one for the team.

Let’s be clear: McCain, had he been president, would have been another in the line of the Republi-fascist presidents since Nixon who have been steadily transforming the U.S. political structure and ideological consensus into a fascist one.   

So the attempt now to cohere ruling class opposition to Trump on the basis of McCain and “McCainism” is not only significant but frankly ominous.  Up to now, those forces opposed to the regime have not been able to find a champion.  Name one significant ruling class figure who has come forward to openly call out the regime.  Indeed, the Democratic Party has spent the current election campaign refusing to even articulate an overall program of opposition, still less to sharply call out and fight the Trump/Pence fascist attacks on women, immigrants, Black people, war, and the environment.  Democratic candidates range from those “on the right” (many of whom are former military who make that their appeal to Trump voters who won’t even mention or openly oppose Trump (and his regime) to those “on the left” who try to appeal to Trump voters by going after cronyism, corruption, and advocating common “bread and butter” economic interests of Trumpites and the masses who are the Democrats’ base.  This is true of Democratic Socialists who want to reform the Democratic Party but who advocate or conciliate with American chauvinism. The “f-word” these candidates most seek to avoid is... fascism.

Now, rallied around the corpse of McCain and his program of extreme militarism and aggression founded on a heavy “America right or wrong patriotism,” along with the white supremacy and male supremacy he stoked, agitated, and supported through legislation, there is an attempt to cohere the basis for an opposition—on terms that are themselves fascist!

Yet many people who sincerely and deeply oppose this fascism will spontaneously rally around this because the very presence of powerful ruling class figures and the familiarity of the program will feed the illusion of a relatively painless exit from what seems to be the Trump/Pence death-grip on the current situation.  But should such a program come to dominate an upsurge against the regime, should this become what people take on as their goal and defining political outlook, it would have extremely negative consequences to say the least. This would be tantamount to the tragic spectacle of masses in the streets of Egypt in 2011, revolting against the extremely repressive regime there headed by Hosni Mubarak under the slogan “The People and the Army Are One Hand”—only to have the army later come down to crush the people and install an even more repressive regime.  The lesson there is NOT that the masses should not rise up... but that there must be a vanguard force that can bring clarity around what to rise up around, and how to carry through.

Communists, and not only communists but all those who truly oppose fascism, need to go very broadly to masses of people and struggle with them to see the truth about what they are being rallied to, and win them to what they have to be won to—a true struggle against the regime as a whole and its entire program and apparatus, and not just its figurehead and some elements of its policies.  This need will almost certainly become greater as the funeral on Saturday approaches and in its aftermath.

Back to Basics

Once again: these differences among ruling class figures are differences over how BEST to enforce exploitation, plunder, and misery all over the world... how BEST to keep people in a situation where they are forced to put up with truly horrendous and truly unnecessary suffering.  This is important and fundamental. 

At the same time, and as a conclusion, it is worth repeating the quote with which we began:

The Democrats, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, etc., are seeking to resolve the crisis with the Trump presidency on the terms of this system, and in the interests of the ruling class of this system, which they represent.  We, the masses of people, must go all out, and mobilize ourselves in the millions, to resolve this in our interests, in the interests of humanity, which are fundamentally different from and opposed to those of the ruling class.

This, of course, does not mean that the struggle among the powers that be is irrelevant or unimportant; rather, the way to understand and approach this (and this is a point that must also be repeatedly driven home to people, including through necessary struggle, waged well) is in terms of how it relates to, and what openings it can provide for, “the struggle from below”for the mobilization of masses of people around the demand that the whole regime must go, because of its fascist nature and actions and what the stakes are for humanity.

The Pyramid of Power
And the Struggle to Turn This Whole Thing Upside Down

by Bob Avakian

Read more

BA Speaks:
REVOLUTION — NOTHING LESS!
Bob Avakian Live

A must-see film of a talk given by Bob Avakian in 2012. Watch the entire film HERE.

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Revolution Club Chicago Sidewalk Party
A glimpse of a newly developing movement for revolution

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Saturday. Late summer. Chicago. There has been death after death, murder by police, shootings among the people, a LOT of pain. There has been resistance and striving for a way out of this mess. On Saturday, August 25, a whole other, beautiful thing began blossoming—right out on the sidewalk, in the middle of South Shore, a beginning of something new.

At the Revolution Club Organizing Center, an all-day benefit party brought a feeling out on the street that was like a glimpse and a taste of what a mass revolutionary movement feels like. And this was brought together and taken to a higher level by a powerful program in the middle of the day. There was an incredibly attractive scene that reverberated out through the neighborhood all day. It was a scene characterized by new people stepping up for revolution and a sense that there is a growing force here representing and fighting for a radically better world, including right in that neighborhood.

August 25 outside the Revolution Club Organizing Center, Chicago.

People newly in the revolution and some just beginning to find out about it, courageous revolutionary volunteers who have spent the last year in Chicago fighting to bring forward a revolutionary pole and force here, revolutionary communists who have dedicated their lives to making revolution, and people passing through checking it all out—all eating and listening to music together, talking and dancing, a feeling of camaraderie and joy and love, together with the seriousness of working for an actual revolution. You got the feel of people coming together and fighting together for a new and better world, and a movement widely drawing and inviting people in, with leadership and a growing organized force at the core.

Early on in the day, some newer revolutionaries who have some history in the streets went down the street with flyers to bring more people over to the party. A bit later they returned with some people. They had run into people they know, people who used to know them in a different way, living a different life, now seeing them in the REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts that are increasingly becoming associated with a force that is fighting back, representing a liberating morality, and seriously working and organizing for an actual revolution.

In front of the center, as the grill and the music were going, people pulled up chairs and got into some deep and serious discussions about what people are up against and how to go at this, what kind of revolution we need and how to go about that in a way that can change things now. One of these was the kind of discussion driven by the pain of loss and frustration with the way things are, but a serious discussion that kept going deeper, with the people in it working together on the problem of how to get people out of going at each other and into making revolution—a revolution that is real and going somewhere.

Little kids played inside and outside of the kids’ room where volunteers kept an eye on them; a sign on the window thanked the local businesses that donated for the benefit party; and a banner on the corner said, “This system can’t be reformed, it must be OVERTHROWN!” Pictures of people killed by police were on display. Inside the center, people came to see the pictures of building the movement for revolution from all over the country that filled one of the walls: from people in South Shore wearing REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts while protesting the police, to the force for revolution represented by the Revolution Club contingent in DC recently opposing the white supremacists, to group discussions of the strategy for revolution, to our comrades in Los Angeles standing on the American flag.

In the middle of the day, all of this was brought together inside the center for a brief, but incredibly powerful, program featuring two ceremonies—a Remembrance and Rededication ceremony followed by a Revolution Club induction ceremony. The theme of the program was that there are two things Chicago is known for and something else it needs to be known for. It is known for unrelenting murder by police and heart-grinding violence among the masses. It needs to be known for people, especially those subjected to and caught in all this, getting organized for revolution to overthrow the system that is responsible for all this heartbreak and terror.

The program began with a clip of Bob Avakian, including him saying, “No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that.” (BAsics 1:13)

A number of people killed by police were recognized and remembered: Justus Howell, Darius Pinex, Harith “Snoop” Augustus, Aquoness “Quono” Cathery, Maurice Granton Jr., Steve Rosenthal, Charles Macklin. And then, some of the people in the room were called on to come up and talk about their loved ones killed in the violence among the people. Many people in the room had lost loved ones. Three people spoke, including two who are newly stepping into the revolution and have very recently lost relatives and are still reeling from the weight of it. Their pain was felt by everyone in the room as they remembered their loved ones and expressed their aspirations to see an end to this, and it had deep meaning when some talked about how they are getting with this revolution to do that. Joe Veale spoke about the need and the potential for people who are caught up in all this madness of killing each other to get with this revolution, and the leadership we have in Bob Avakian.

The MC came back up and returned to the quote from Bob Avakian about no more generations of our youth. He said all of these people are all our youth, and went on to say that the children in Yemen, the immigrant children, the children all over the world are also our youth and we are making this revolution to emancipate all of humanity. He played two videos to bring this alive for people, and many were very moved by seeing the video from Yemen of the children laughing and playing who were then slaughtered by a U.S. bomb.

In the second part of the program was a different ceremony, this one to recognize and honor people who have taken the important step of joining the Revolution Club. Three people received their Revolution Club member patches and spoke about what it means to them to take this step. They expressed a serious desire for revolution and a love for their comrades they are joining together with to do this. And there was an explicit call and challenge put to everyone there to begin the step of becoming a Revolution Club member.

After the program, some people stayed inside talking while others spilled back onto the sidewalk for more food and music, enjoying each other’s company, dancing and talking. One woman who had come with her young child heard and responded to the challenge at the end of the program. She has only just begun to learn about the revolution, but wanted seriously to know more and what was involved in becoming a Revolution Club member. She watched some Bob Avakian clips on the spot and then sat and talked deeply with someone from the Revolution Club. The party was transformative for her, but not just her—a lot of people there went through changes in one day on different levels.

At one point, lots of people were dancing to a playlist of music that a group of people preparing for the party had put together after discussing the Points of Attention for the Revolution. The whole scene gave life to those points—men and women of different backgrounds and sexual orientation, treating each other as friends and comrades, music that was lively and not degrading, including some in Spanish, and people talking about the lyrics and culture.

As the day turned to night and everybody, including passersby, started singing together to Prince, people were slow to peel off to head home. You had a sense there was something people were part of that they didn’t really want to end. And really, there is something people are now part of that is really just beginning.

August 25, at the sidewalk party outside the Revolution Club Organizing Center

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Mexico: The New President Will Be the Head of the Same Criminal State and Will Have to Serve the Same Evil and Obsolete System

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following statement from the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico, was translated from Spanish by revcom.us; the original article appeared at aurora-roja.blogspot.com.

1. The victory of AMLO [Andrés Manuel López Obrador, recently elected president of Mexico] and Morena [AMLO’s electoral coalition] in the elections is fundamentally the product of the sharp contradictions that are tearing this society apart.

2. This is the product, on the one hand, of the anger of large sections of the people facing an increasingly unbearable situation: The intolerable repression and the devastating violence against women, indigenous peoples, young people, journalists, and the people in general; growing inequalities and relentless poverty; almost absolute impunity; corruption and unchecked degradation of the ruling authorities and institutions; racist attacks against immigrants and Mexicans by the fascist regime in the United States, with the vile conciliation of the Mexican government; as well as so many other unconscionable crimes. All this led millions to reject the main political parties in power, and approximately 30 million voted for Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in search of a change that they thought would bring some hope. Every honest person has to feel a little satisfaction for the beating suffered by the mainstream parties of the “old guard,” but as we have already analyzed in detail, the AMLO and Morena government is not going to lead to any fundamental change in the current intolerable situation for the people (see “Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico: We Need to Overthrow This System, Not Try to ‘Democratize’ It: AMLO, the EZLN and the Revolution We Need”).

3. Furthermore, AMLO’s victory was the product of the convergence of powerful forces seeking the stability of the current, predominantly capitalist system against the anger of broad sections of the people. At bottom, it was these representatives of the ruling classes who controlled the electoral process and determined the outcome. The group around former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, guilty of so many crimes against the people, refused to remove José Antonio Meade Kuribreña [presidential candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party; PRI] from the electoral competition even when it was clear that he was not going to win and several big capitalists asked him to drop out of the competition in order to unify the opposition to AMLO around Ricardo Anaya Cortés [the presidential candidate for the PAN, National Action Party]. The clashes and rivalries among the “old” (and most hated) representatives (from the PRI, PAN and PRD [Party for the Democratic Revolution]) of the big Mexican capitalists and foreign capitalists favored Morena (the “newcomer” representative of the same ruling classes), and their defamation campaigns also led to increased support for AMLO. Before the elections, an agreement was reached between AMLO and a group of big businessmen that AMLO previously had called the “mafia in power” and who in turn had called him “a danger to Mexico.” Several imperialist banks and economic performance rating agencies stopped sounding the alarm, and conceded that given the “fedupness” in society, perhaps AMLO was the best option. Even the fascist Trump/Pence regime in the U.S. fell silent, did not move against AMLO and then expressed its approval for the results of the elections. All in all, AMLO convinced important sections of the ruling classes that he was not going to harm their interests, but instead he would work for them to prosper in an environment of greater stability and “social peace,” by means of the “social approval” that would be enjoyed by his government.

4. Neither AMLO nor Morena, nor any change of rulers in charge of the same system will lead to a fundamental change, and claiming that he will do so is a cruel deception that will only result in demoralization and prolong the horrors that we have been suffering. Who would be so deluded as to imagine that now we are going to see the end of the horrendous wave of femicides, much less an end to the patriarchal system and the oppression of women? To imagine that the centuries of oppression of the indigenous peoples will be overcome and the death projects of mining, energy, tourism and the rest will be stopped? To imagine that poverty will be eliminated? To imagine that there will be real justice for Ayotzinapa, Nochixtlán, San Fernando, Nuevo Laredo, Tlatlaya, Tanhuato, Apatzingán, and many other crimes of the state? All these horrors, and many more, are the product of the same dynamics of the world capitalist-imperialist system and of the predominantly capitalist system under imperialist domination in Mexico, and no change of rulers is going to fundamentally change these dynamics.

This system is based on the most cruel exploitation of the people and ruthless competition among capitalists (big businessmen) for maximum profit—of either eat or be eaten—and hence it generates all kinds of corruption, vileness and selfishness. What politicians and the mainstream media call “the market” actually represents all this: a system that exploits and destroys the lives of billions of human beings, and destroys nature and other species, in its incessant race to accumulate more wealth and beat out its competitors. It is a system that promotes and protects wars for empire of the big powers and their domination of the bulk of the countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

AMLO and Morena, like the other electoral parties, are representatives of this system and will fight for it “to function well,” without any important transformation of basic economic relations, which in turn determine class differences in society, and set the framework and limits for everything else. They will not bring any “fourth historical transformation” for Mexico, but rather, at best, some very limited changes in order to achieve greater stability for a deadly system and get a little more for the big Mexican bourgeoisie.

5. Revolution and new communism, and not elections controlled by the ruling classes, are the real path towards a radically different and much better society, and finally the emancipation of all humanity.

The big businessmen, the whole range of the electoral politicians, and the mainstream media bombard us with the chorus that this “great celebration of democracy” has expressed the “people’s will’ and demonstrated that Mexico is a “mature democracy.” So “democratic” was the electoral process that it was marked by the assassination of at least 130 candidates and local authorities, repeated onslaughts of rumors and defamation spread by the media, wholesale buying of votes by all the electoral parties, coercion of voters with the threat of losing jobs or benefits of social programs and, especially in Puebla, the armed robbery of ballot boxes and burning of ballots to impose, as governor, the wife of the former fascist governor Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas.

But none of that matters to the representatives of the ruling classes, because, for them, the deal is getting us to accept the continuation of their oppressive system as the “will of the people,” while, in reality, even in the most democratic capitalist countries, their elections give the people, at best, the “right” to choose which political representatives of the big capitalists and their system will continue to repress and oppress the people. “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.” (BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian, 1:22)

The only real and liberating solution is a revolution whose final goal is to end all class divisions, all forms of exploitation and oppression, in Mexico and finally in the entire world. This is the communist revolution, guided by the new communism developed by Bob Avakian, who has learned from the great advances but also from the mistakes of the past. By applying this more consistently scientific method, we can forge the truly communist leadership and the revolutionary people needed to make this revolution.

6. Many people yearn for a change in the face of many horrors being lived by the people. The new government, by representing and defending the same system, will necessarily dash those hopes. We must show people the possibility of a profound and true change and organize their determined struggle for a real revolution and a much better world.

—Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico

July 2018

 


Deportees protest outside the transition house of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, waiting for Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State, July 13, 2018.

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.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:22

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Capitalism Is Destroying Our Planet—It Can't be Reformed—It Must Be Overthrown!

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On September 8, people will be marching and protesting all over the world to protest the climate crisis and the threat this poses to humanity and life on the planet. Organizers of “Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice” are holding actions on every continent. Their website calls out the urgent situation: “There is no time to lose. So far in 2018 we have witnessed a range of severe impacts related to climate change including: extreme heat waves across North Africa, Europe and Japan where a national emergency was declared; devastating wildfires in Greece that cost 85 lives, as well as in Sweden and the USA; and massive Antarctic ice-melt that contributes to global sea level rise threatening our coastal cities and the very existence of many island nations.”

San Francisco will be the focal point of these protests, and many thousands are expected. The “Rise!” events have been called for a few days before the Global Climate Action Summit, September 12 to September 14, in San Francisco. The Climate Summit has been convened by politicians led by California Governor Jerry Brown and will draw in state and local politicians, as well as people in business, and government and other figures from around the world. 

The Summit makes huge promises. Its website projects that local and regional governments, acting outside of the framework of the major nation states, can solve the climate crisis. The Summit website declares: “The decarbonization of the global economy is in sight. Transformational changes are happening across the world and across all sectors as a result of technological innovation, new and creative policies and political will at all levels.”

The Summit claims we are on the doorstep of “decarbonization”—but the initiator of the Summit, Jerry Brown, while claiming the mantle of a “climate champion” has actually authorized 20,000 new oil wells in his time in office and supports fracking, which has spread all over California. This isn’t just a politician’s shameless hypocrisy. It points to something deeper. An article in The Nation quotes Brown himself speaking to why he thinks it is impossible for someone like the governor of California, or any political official in power under this system, to actually do what is necessary to deal with the rampaging capitalist development that drives climate change: 

But Brown clarified that it isn’t politically possible for any elected official, or even an authoritarian ruler, to challenge the religion of economic growth.

“Growth has to be transformed to be compatible with nature, or [at least] with decarbonizing,” he said. But the public wants growth and Wall Street demands it, so “if [political leaders] don’t achieve that, we don’t stay around very long.” Citing Chinese President Xi Jinping, Brown added: “Even if you’re a dictator, it’s not that easy, because you’ve got to maintain a certain level of legitimacy and popular support."

There is an underlying reality to Brown’s point—if political leaders under this system tried to do things that go against the systemic nature and needs of the capitalist system, powerful financial and political interests would move to remove them from office—one way or the other. It isn’t a question of losing popular support, in essence; it is what the actual nature of capitalism requires of the people who are running the system. It is the fact that there are rules to an economic system that the political structures of that system serve. Capitalism, at bottom, is a dog-eat-dog system. The largest consumer of oil on the planet is the U.S. military, which exists to ensure and enforce the U.S.'s dominant position in the world. The great stability and wealth of the U.S. rests on the exploitation and plunder of nations and whole regions of the planet, and on depriving other major and rising powers from being able to undercut or challenge that dominance. Global capital and nation states are driven to devour rivals—or get devoured. A U.S. city or state that is able to clean up some of its air or water is often able to do this at the expense of people in the Third World—because industrial production has been off-loaded and exported to countries that are now being poisoned and devastated by capitalist globalization—exponentially increasing carbonization and climate change. Corporations driven to get around regulations to increase profit move to places where they can operate unregulated. Local reforms may make minor changes in regulations but they cannot and do not stand outside the driving rules of the economic system of savage competition, even if the future of the planet is at stake—which it is.

This is a world of an enormous chasm between a handful of imperialist countries that dominate the world and the great majority of people on the planet, making life unlivable for many millions and driving people to flee their own countries and seek a way to live because of poverty, savage wars, and climate change. And this in turn is spawning fascist movements throughout Europe and North America led by powerful sections of capital who see open dictatorial rule as the best way to manage the future of their system. These fascists seek to imprison, wall off, and brutally assault the refugees and immigrants escaping from the disaster that the imperialist countries, and especially the U.S., have themselves created!

And on the front of climate change directly, in the U.S. alone, the Trump regime has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement (as much as that agreement fell far short of what is needed, pulling out does far worse), shredded all kinds of environmental laws and regulations, attacked even the idea that there could be a scientific understanding of climate, and removed the words “climate change” from government websites. The people of this country have a disproportionate responsibility to the whole planet to confront what is objectively the greater part of the threat to the very future of humanity.

A global climate crisis means not ignoring but facing squarely the Trump/Pence regime’s acceleration of this crisis. The whole Trump/Pence Regime must go and millions can and must now rise to demand this—uniting with people impacted and repulsed by the fascist form of rule this regime is imposing on all of society.

Solutions sought within the confines of a capitalist and imperialist system may promise “transformational changes” as the Climate Summit does—but don't believe the hype! The only transformational changes this rapacious system can offer are in fact more global catastrophic climate disasters: polar ice caps melting, coral reefs dying, sea levels rising, and even greater human suffering. What is needed are the real transformations that could be brought about by millions of people not thinking like Americans but thinking about humanity and by those people working now to make an actual revolution when the time is right—to bring a radically different kind of society into being.

 


Major forest fires have blazed across California this summer. The increase in the number and intensity of these fires is being driven, in large part, by climate change caused by the capitalist-imperialist system. Here, the Ranch fire, part of Mendecino Complex Fire, California, August 7. (Photo: AP)

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

Another Outrage in Chicago: Police Kill 15-Year-Old and Claim It Was Suicide

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On August 17, Steven “Stevie” Rosenthal was outside celebrating his 15th birthday with friends when Chicago police started chasing him. Minutes later he lay dead in the stairwell of his grandmother’s house from a gunshot wound to his head. The police claimed it was a suicide, that somehow Steven shot himself in the head while they were chasing him.

At a press conference two days later, friends and family called out this murder by police. “Within moments, these officers, without cause or provocation shot and killed 15-year-old Steven,” the family’s lawyer said. He continued, “Based on several eyewitness accounts, these officers ended the hopes and dreams of a talented young man with a bright future.” A crowd of more than 100 people, mostly young teenage friends of Steven’s, surrounded the grieving family.

At the press conference’s conclusion, people, more than 100 strong, took to the streets in protest. Chanting “Justice for Stevie,” “Who Killed Stevie? CPD!” they marched through Chicago’s West Side Lawndale neighborhood. They stopped at Mt. Sinai Hospital where family members, who had still not been able to view the body, led people in chanting, “We want to see Stevie.” From there they took over Ogden Avenue, a major thoroughfare, and marched to the 10th District police station. Chanting and dancing in the streets, their cries for justice rang out.

LaToya Howell, the mother of Justus Howell, murdered in 2015 by police in the Illinois town of Zion near the Wisconsin border, had come down with family members. She led these youths in chants, including “Indict, Convict, Send the Killer Cops to Jail, the Whole Damn System Is Guilty as Hell!” as they marched to the 10th District police station.

Stevie was part of the varsity basketball team at his high school. Team members in uniform and two team coaches positioned themselves at the front of the crowd as it faced off with the police. They blocked the street outside the 10th District station for close to an hour. As darkness fell, the crowd marched through neighborhoods back to where they started, vowing to return every day at 7 pm for 30 days. As of this writing, they have kept that pledge. Revolution Club members have joined these protests as part of carrying out their strategy of “fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution.” Stevie’s funeral is Saturday, September 1. The Revolution Club plans to attend.

 


Stevie was on the Crane High School Varsity Basketball team. Team members and coaches along with two members of Justus Howell's family face the 10th District police station on Chicago's west side. The crowd is gathered behind them.


Steven "Stevie" Rosenthal


Friend of Steve Rosenthal holds a sign for him

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

A Question to Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth: What Would It Mean To “Dismantle the Systems That Destroy Our Planet”?

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From the revcom.us staff

The August 5 New York Times Magazine ran an article on the failure of capitalists and politicians beginning in the late 1970s to do virtually anything to deal with the crisis of climate change even after there was convincing scientific evidence as to the damage it would cause. With all its shortcomings in analysis, which are beyond the scope of this letter, to the extent that it did detail the criminality around the environment by those who run this system, it was a painful and infuriating article to read. The depth of this crime does boggle the mind and outrage the heart.

In response, Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, wrote that “To solve this crisis, we must dismantle the political and corporate systems that destroy our planet. We must halt the extraction and burning of fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy that prioritizes the most affected communities.

“The power to achieve these goals lies with people. Only a mass movement of people, built from the ground up, can take on the corporations and politicians who endanger people and the planet for profit. This is how we win.”

Pica’s letter expresses something true. It reflects something positive that sentiments like this are now being openly expressed by many people. The problem lies mainly in the way the questions fall short of fully engaging the reality, and in the questions not posed at all. At this late date, with everything hanging in the balance, the FULL reality must be confronted.

Why not name those “political and corporate systems that destroy our planet”? It is in fact a single system, capitalism-imperialism. This system is organized around the private production of profit based on exploitation—in which human beings and nature serve the ceaseless and reckless accumulation of profit and NOT social need and protection of the planet. Capitalism-imperialism is compelled by the inner logic of its economic relations to plunder the planet; if any particular bloc of capital (a corporation, for instance) did not, it would go under. These economic relations give rise to and are protected by a political structure, which includes as its most essential element the monopoly on violence recognized as “legitimate” and resting on armies, prisons, police forces, courts, etc. Without correctly understanding the essence of the problem, we will not be able to really deal with it.

What does it concretely mean to “dismantle” that system? The institutions that defend capitalism-imperialism do in fact need to be dismantled, and it’s significant that this term—rather than reform—is now used here. But what would it take to truly dismantle the massive forces of violent repression that defend the system? What orientation would be needed? What kind of strategy could actually achieve that? This would require a revolution—an actual revolution that would meet and defeat those forces of violent repression... that would overthrow the system.

What does it mean to “win”? We do, as Erich Pica says, need a “mass movement of people, built from the ground up... [to] win.” But a mass movement organized around what goal, to do what? A mass movement that seeks reform, or that is organized to make an actual revolution? Which one would be necessary if we are serious about stopping the destruction of the planet? The overwhelming majority of people in the environmental movement are indeed serious in that goal; to be consistent, they must seriously grapple with how that goal could be achieved.

And one must also grapple with this: What would the society we need look like? How would a society be structured in which humanity actually could act as caretakers of the earth and its webs of life, in their beauty and diversity, and where the needs of those who have been oppressed for so long in the current order are, as Erich Pica proposes, “prioritized”?

These questions cry out to be forthrightly posed, deeply dug into, and answered.

In fact they have been—in the works of the new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian. These include in particular the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, as well as works on strategy and, most fundamentally, the science that enables people to truly understand and transform the world.

And that implies one last question:

At such a dire time, when so many both recognize the extremity of the situation and sense the extremity of what is required to deal with it, isn’t it time and past time for everyone who cares to deeply and honestly confront and engage the answers to those crucial questions that Bob Avakian has brought forward?

 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

American Crime

Case #35: The 2011 U.S.-NATO War on Libya

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Bob Avakian has written that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

In February 2011, in the context of the Arab Spring uprisings in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt, sections of Libyan society rose up against Muammar Qaddafi’s oppressive, 42-year-long rule. The Qaddafi regime responded by violently suppressing the protests. In this context, at the insistence of the U.S., France, and Britain, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973, giving the UN authority to militarily intervene in Libya. The UN resolution called for a humanitarian effort to save the lives of pro-democracy protesters endangered by Qaddafi’s forces who were threatening to bomb their stronghold in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city. Within 48 hours, the U.S. and other NATO countries established a “no-fly zone” throughout Libya and started bombing Qaddafi’s forces. For the next seven months, 19 NATO countries carried out massive military operations throughout Libya. They deployed aircraft carriers with warplanes, amphibious warships, torpedo jets, surveillance planes, submarines, and U.S. missile-armed Predator drones. Though the bulk of the bombings and killings were carried out by the U.S., Britain, France, and Canada, at its peak the war involved 21 NATO ships and more than 250 aircraft of all types. Over 8,000 U.S. military personnel took part and U.S. aircraft bombed Libya 14,202 times. These aerial attacks included B-2 stealth bombers that were each armed with 16 2,000-pound bombs.

NATO bombs killed Qaddafi’s forces, but they also took the lives of many civilians, including women and children. On May 14, one NATO bomb killed 11 religious leaders and wounded 50 others who had gathered for Friday prayers in Brega. On August 9, a NATO aerial bomb struck Libyan state TV, Al-Jamahiriya, killing three journalists and wounding several others. Ordinary Libyans were also killed, like Karima, her husband, and their children, Jomana, age two and Khaled, age seven months. Eight of their other family members were wounded.

The U.S./NATO forces declared Libya’s “liberation” in October 2011. Anti-Qaddafi militia had captured and killed Qaddafi, shattered the central government, and established a “National Transitional Council” (NTC). While there had been an estimated 1,000 killed before the start of the NATO invasion, by October estimates were that 10,000 to 30,000 had died. That included soldiers and civilians killed by the UN-sanctioned war, and also large numbers of atrocities carried out by the militia backed by the U.S., Britain, and France which had carried out mass abductions, detentions, torture, and killings—500 in just a two-month period. During this same period, African migrants and black Libyans were subjected to a racist campaign that included mass detention, lynchings, and other atrocities, justified by the claim they were mercenaries of Qaddafi’s regime.

The U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN called the toppling of Qaddafi’s regime a “model intervention.” And Britain declared to the UN in 2012, “Today, Tripoli and Benghazi are cities transformed. Where there was fear, now there is hope and an optimism and belief that is truly inspiring,” But in fact in the years since the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime, Libya has been plunged into a state of chaos, and the lives of millions of Libyans have been shattered.

The NTC was never able to consolidate authority over its rivals in other cities and the patchwork of hundreds of Islamist and tribal militias battling each other in the streets for power. Three years after the overthrow of Qaddafi, Libya had become a place of assassinations, kidnappings, blockades of oil refineries, and ISIS and other Islamist extremists setting up camps, with this instability spilling across Libya’s borders.

Britain was now warning its citizens “against all travel to Libya due to the ongoing fighting and greater instability throughout the country.” And Reuters reported at the end of November that 400 people had just been killed in six weeks of heavy fighting between Libyan pro-government forces and Islamist groups in Benghazi.

For the masses of Libyan people life has been a nightmare. The economy and public services have been decimated, including the public health system. In 2015, it was revealed that NATO forces had targeted civilian infrastructure, especially water supplies during their 2011 attacks, while blaming the damage on Qaddafi. A third of Libya’s people remain impoverished, and many do not have access to clean water or sewer systems, and are forced to struggle to meet their basic needs and survive.

By 2016, it was estimated that nearly 2.44 million people—a third of Libya’s population—had been impacted by these reactionary conflicts. There are now shortages of food, water, and electricity. People often can’t get medicines, public services, or medical care—even though in the summer of 2015 the UN estimated that 2.5 million Libyans did not have any access to health care and some 400,000 needed food aid. This nightmare has driven nearly a half a million Libyans from their homes—forcing people to live in garages, public spaces, shelters, or unfinished buildings.

For years Libya’s location as the North African country closest to Europe made it a major hub for refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants from countries in that part of the world on their way to Europe. In the first 10 months of 2017, most of the more than 160,000 people coming to Europe by sea had departed from Libya; and 2,772 died or went missing trying to cross. It was reported that nearly 350,000 migrants and asylum seekers remained in Libya.

The same NATO powers that attacked Libya in 2011 were now training and supporting Libya’s coast guard in its effort to capture migrants and asylum seekers in international waters and return them to Libya where they would be exposed to physical abuse, including beatings, sexual violence, extortion, abduction, and forced labor. In May 2017, Al Jazeera reported, “Migrants are being sold in the market as a commodity. Selling human beings is becoming a trend among smugglers as the smuggling networks in Libya are becoming stronger and stronger.” In November, after revelations of alleged “slave auctions,” Rwanda offered to resettle 30,000 African “slaves” from Libya.

Amnesty International’s report “Libya 2017-2018” said, “Three rival governments and hundreds of militias and armed groups continued to compete for power and control over territory, lucrative trade routes and strategic military locations.... All sides to the conflict carried out indiscriminate attacks in heavily populated areas leading to deaths of civilians and unlawful killings.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army is carrying out air strikes against supposed ISIS forces in Libya.

THE CRIMINALS:

President Barack Obama: Took full credit for the war on Libya, the capture and murder of Qaddafi, and the destruction of the government. After Qaddafi was killed, Obama said, “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives.”

Hillary Clinton: As secretary of state, Clinton played a key role in convincing Obama to join the British and the French who were pressing the UN to establish a “no fly zone” over Libya and start bombing. She argued the U.S. must not wait but should strike right away. When NTC forces captured, tortured, and murdered Qaddafi, Clinton laughed on TV, saying, “We came, we saw, he died.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, and U.S. aide on the UN Security Council Samantha Power: Both these officials, who claim to be champions of “human rights,” urged Obama to attack Libya.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the U.S. military forces: Responsible for leading the military in achieving U.S. objectives in Libya, Gates said to the New York Times in 2016, “The fiction was maintained [that] ... the goal was limited to disabling Colonel Qaddafi’s command and control,” but he admitted, “I don’t think there was a day that passed that people didn’t hope he would be in one of those command and control centers.”

Leading NATO imperialist powers: Britain under David Cameron, France under Nicolas Sarkozy, Canada under Stephen Harper, and Italy under Silvio Berlusconi and their military commanders, pilots, and troops, especially Canada’s Lt. General Charles Bouchard, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, and Lt. General Ralph Jodice who led the military assault on Libya called Operation United Protector.

All other NATO countries and allies (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Spain) as well as the United Arab League (Qatar, Jordan, United Arab Emirates), and Sweden—whose armed forces and politicians ganged up together in this assault on Libya.

Ban-Ki Moon, UN General Secretary, and the full UN Security Council: The 10 members (U.S., Britain, Italy, Lebanon, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Columbia, Portugal, Nigeria, South Africa, France) who voted for Resolution 1973 that authorized the imperialists’ invasion of Libya with a cover of “humanitarian intervention”; and the five members (Brazil, China, Russia, Germany, India) who refused to use their veto powers to prevent it.

THE ALIBI:

Obama insisted his goal in Libya was not “regime change” but a humanitarian intervention: “Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that Qaddafi would commit atrocities against his people. Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.”

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE:

In the name of protecting Libyan civilians, the U.S. and its NATO allies seized on the conflict in Libya to wage a war for regime change. For them, the Libyan uprising presented both the need and opportunity to remove Qaddafi from power and install a neocolonial regime that would be a more pliant tool to advance their interests in a region where Western imperialism was—and is—under all kinds of pressure, and faces all kinds of challenges from rival imperialists, as well as ISIS.

Libya is Africa’s fourth-largest country, strategically located in North Africa and neighboring Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. It is a gateway to the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean routes from Africa to Europe and the whole Middle East. With a small population of about six million and the largest proven oil reserves of any African country, along with gold reserves, Libya has been one of the richest countries in Africa. And it has supplied a large share of Europe’s oil needs.

For many years, Qaddafi was a thorn in the side of imperialism, especially the U.S. Despite his anti-imperialist/Pan Africanist rhetoric, Qaddafi presided over an oppressive social and economic order, and his program of enacting certain economic and social reforms was based on expanding Libya’s oil-based economy.

When he allied Libya with the then-imperialist Soviet Union in the early 1980s, the U.S. demonized him as a “strongman despot” and Reagan tried to have him assassinated. In 2004, Qaddafi announced that he was giving up various nuclear and other weapons programs. The U.S. took Libya off its list of “terrorist states,” and Qaddafi became an ally in the U.S. “war against terrorism,” which in reality was a war for empire. But, with the Arab Spring spreading, the U.S. and its NATO allies saw the opportunity to replace his regime with one more directly under their control in such a valuable and strategic part of the world, as well as to intervene and impact the course of the Arab Spring overall.

Sources:

Revolution Interviews Raymond Lotta: The Events in Libya in Historical Perspective... Muammar Qaddafi in Class Perspective... The Question of Leadership in Communist Perspective,” revcom.us, March 8, 2011

The Fall of the Qaddafi Regime in Libya...and the Hand of the U.S. and NATO,” revcom.us, August 28, 2011

The 2011 U.S.-NATO War Helped Turn Libya Into Hell on Earth: Now the Imperialists Are Preparing to Wage War Again,” revcom.us, February 1, 2016

Casualties of 2011 Libyan Civil War,” Wikipedia

2011 military intervention in Libya,” Wikipedia

In Strikes on Libya by NATO, an Unspoken Civilian Toll,” C.J. Chivers and Eric Schmitt, New York Times, December 17, 2011

If Libyan war was about saving lives, it was a catastrophic failure,” Seumas Milne, Guardian, October 26, 2011

On His Way Out the Door, Obama Bombs Libya One Last Time,” Common Dreams, January 19, 2017

Blowback: How the Bombing of Libya in 2011 Led to Terror in Britain,” Mehdi Hasan, theintercenpt.com, February 26, 2018

Libya: The REAL U.S. Drone War,” Spencer Ackerman, wired.com, October 20, 2011

 

Tripoli, Libya, 2011. The remains of a building destroyed by a NATO airstrike. Photo: AP

Bringing Forward Another Way

Bringing Foward Another Way is an edited version of a talk by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, to a group of Party supporters, in 2006. It is must reading for a serious understanding of what the U.S. "war on terror" is really about and how to bring forward a positive force in the world in opposition to both Western imperialism and Islamic Jihad.

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American Crime

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

American Crime

Case #81: September 13, 1971—Massacre of Heroic Attica Prisoners

September 5, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On September 9, 1971, the most powerful and significant prison rebellion in U.S. history erupted at Attica state prison in New York. Attica was part of the Black Liberation struggle and the revolutionary upheaval of the 1960s.

On September 9, 1971, the most powerful and significant prison rebellion in U.S. history erupted at Attica state prison in New York. Attica was part of the Black liberation struggle and the revolutionary upheaval of the 1960s. (AP Photo)

Bob Avakian recently wrote that one of three things that has "to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better: People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this." (See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

In that light, and in that spirit, "American Crime" is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

This September 9 marks the 45th anniversary of the prisoners’ uprising at Attica.

The Crime: On September 13, 1971, police, sheriffs, park police, and the National Guard launched a murderous assault at Attica prison in upstate New York, killing 39 unarmed people

Four days earlier, on September 9, the most powerful and significant prison rebellion in U.S. history had erupted at Attica. Over half of Attica’s 2,200 inmates, mainly Black but also white and Puerto Rican prisoners, seized control of large parts of the prison, taking 38 guards hostage.

The uprising was fueled by the guards’ routine abuse, horrific living conditions, the state’s refusal to address their grievances, and the racism and national oppression permeating Attica and U.S. society. Many Attica prisoners had been radicalized by the upheavals of the 1960s, and the August 21 murder of the revolutionary prisoner and leader George Jackson, by guards at California’s San Quentin prison, hit them very hard, sparking a silent fast in protest.

The spirit of the Attica Brothers, as they came to be called, was captured by their 21-year-old spokesman L.D. Barkley: “We are men. We are not beasts, and we do not intend to be beaten and driven as such... What has happened here is but the sound before the fury of those who are oppressed...”

The prisoners took control of D-yard and a number of cellblocks. They organized food, medical care, sanitation, workshops, command posts, and a security squad to ensure the safety of the hostages. They issued demands “that will bring closer to reality the demise of these prison institutions that serve no useful purpose to the People of America, but to those who would enslave and exploit the people of America.” Their key demands included complete amnesty for their takeover, transport to a “non-imperialistic country” for those who wanted it, and negotiation through a team of observers that they chose. They set forth 15 “practical proposals,” including freedom for political activity and ending the censorship of literature sent into the prison.

The Attica prisoners reached out to the world and to prominent voices in the U.S., including radical lawyer William Kunstler, Black Panther Party leader Bobby Seale, leaders of the Puerto Rican Young Lords Party, and New York Times writer Tom Wicker. “We are standing here for the oppressed people of the world, and we are not going to give up or knuckle under,” Herbert X Blyden declared, “We are going to show the way, for we know the way!”

The Attica rebellion took place as the U.S. was being rocked by powerful upheavals against the oppression of Black people and the Vietnam War. There was a mass revolt against mainstream American culture. The legitimacy of the existing order was under severe duress, millions dreamed of revolution, and the rulers feared things could slip from their control. They were shocked and shaken by the prison takeover. New York prison officials refused to accept the prisoners’ demands, especially for amnesty. Governor Nelson Rockefeller rejected calls from many quarters to visit the prison. Instead, he and New York’s police forces secretly planned a full-scale military assault.

September 13. The assault began shortly after 9:30 am. when National Guard helicopters showered the prison with a burning, choking fog of CN and CS tear gas. The Attica prisoners had no guns and hadn’t engaged in any violence after their takeover, but moments later over 550 state troopers and sharpshooters opened fire with shotguns, pistols, Thompson submachine guns and semi-automatics. They unleashed an indiscriminate barrage of over 2,000 (perhaps as many as 4,500) rounds. Around 10:00 am, state police ordered prisoners to stand up and put their hands on their heads, assuring them they wouldn’t be harmed. But the shooting continued and surrendering prisoners were hit.

Within 20-30 minutes, the state’s armed forces were rampaging through the prison. “They came in there with their guns and bayonets blasting everything that moved. They shot at everybody,” Attica Brother Akil Al-Jundi recalled. “They went from cell to cell with machine guns, spraying the cells, under the beds. They didn’t care whether there was anybody there. They were just shooting. Their objective was to kill, not to ask questions, but to kill...”

Political prisoners, leaders of the uprisings and others were singled out and executed. Black Panther Kenneth Malloy was shot at least 10 times, including four rounds from a .357 magnum into his eyes from a foot away. Sam Melville, a white revolutionary who reportedly had his hands folded on top of his head in a surrender gesture, was killed by a shotgun blast to his chest. L.D. Barkley was shot in the back with a .270 silver-nose bullet, likely from a sharpshooter’s hunting rifle.

Hundreds of prisoners were forced to strip naked, crawl through mud and broken glass and run a gauntlet of baton-wielding rows of cops. Several bled to death due to denial of medical care after being wounded, left to lie in their own blood, urinated upon by guards, or beaten until their bones broke.

Frank “Big Black” Smith was stripped naked and tortured for six hours. Smith was forced to lie on a table with a football under his chin and told he would be killed if the ball moved or fell, while he was being burned with cigarettes and hot bullet casings and beaten on his testicles. One inmate had his femurs shattered by a bullet but was ordered to walk. When he couldn’t, a trooper repeatedly jammed a screwdriver into his rectum and forced him to crawl.

Twenty-nine prisoners and 10 guards being held hostage were murdered. Another 89 prisoners were wounded by gunfire and 319 more were injured. A week later, a state court investigation found that 90 percent of the inmates still had visible signs of being brutalized.

Sixty-two prisoners were indicted for 1289 "crimes" stemming from the rebellion, but no guards were ever charged, tried, or convicted. Twenty years later, in a civil suit filed by the prisoners, only Deputy Warden Karl Pfeil was found liable for any wrongdoing.

       


Part 12 ("A Nation of Law 1968-1971") of the PBS documentary Eyes On The Prize begins with the murder of Fred Hampton. The segment on the Attica uprising, with powerful footage and testimony, begins at 31:13.

The Alibi: New York authorities claimed they were simply trying to retake control of Attica and rescue the guards being held. After retaking the prison, they claimed prisoners had slit the throats of hostages, even castrated one, and murdered others with zip guns. (This was exposed as a lie the very next day when the medical examiner announced his findings: all the deaths at Attica, prisoners and guards, were caused by gunshots. There were no mutilated genitals, no slit throats, no zip gun wounds. And only the state’s forces had guns.)

Overall, New York authorities and the media portrayed the prisoners as “rioters” bent on carrying out vengeance, while the state had tried to resolve the crisis with a reasonable offer and then simply tried to regain control of the prison and protect the guards who were being held by the prisoners. Governor Rockefeller told President Nixon the official story line, that his police had killed prisoners during the takeover, “though, only when they were in the process of murdering the guards, or when they were attacking our people as they came in to get the guards.” In other words, the state had totally made up these slanders, which the media dutifully reported.

The Actual Motive: Attica was part of the Black Liberation struggle and revolutionary upheaval of the 1960s. It was a declaration of the humanity of those this system treats as “beasts,” and a profound exposure of the barbarity of America’s prisons and machinery of violent repression. It highlighted the ongoing enslavement of Black people. And Attica became a clarion call to rise against imperialism and oppression that reverberated worldwide.

The rulers felt they could not tolerate this challenge to their authority and legitimacy by society’s most oppressed. They feared the impact the Attica uprising was having on the millions from many strata who were following it on television, and witnessing the prisoners’ deep humanity. So Rockefeller, backed by the Nixon administration, felt compelled to not only violently crush the Attica rebellion, but make an example out of it with a savage “shock and awe” massacre to terrorize, vilify, and isolate the prisoners, and to send an unmistakable message to the oppressed everywhere “never dare to do this again.”

The Criminals:

On September 13, 1971, New York State launched a military assault on the Attica prisoners.
On September 13, 1971, New York State launched a military assault on the Attica prisoners. Helicopters sprayed tear gas, sharpshooters fired into the yard, and state troopers blasting shotguns swarmed against the rebels. Twenty-nine unarmed prisoners and 10 prison guard hostages were murdered, and hundreds more prisoners were wounded or injured. Above, prisoners were forced to strip naked, crawl through mud and broken glass and run a gauntlet of baton wielding rows of cops. (AP Photo)

New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and the State of New York. An important new book by Professor Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, which draws from previously secret state documents, reveals that Rockefeller had secret meetings with his state troopers to plot the massacre and fabricate the alibi. And the coverup began before the massacre took place: many of the police and prison officers removed their ID badges; the serial numbers of their weapons were not recorded, and normal reports of ammunition discharged were deemed unnecessary.

Rockefeller phoned Nixon the day of the assault. He said it was a “beautiful operation” and a “superb job.” He confided to Nixon he thought as many as 200-300 prisoners could be killed, but he ordered the operation anyway. The prisoners’ demand for amnesty was totally unacceptable, they both agreed; he and Nixon feared granting it would ignite other rebellions.

Blood in the Water also exposes Rockefeller’s and the state’s cover-up of the criminal massacre at Attica. Long-hidden documents showed that state investigators knew law enforcement had committed murder at Attica, but refused to indict a “long list” of police who had killed or wounded prisoners, including one who fired at Kenneth Malloy so many times at such close range that “his eye sockets were shredded by shards of his own bones.”

President Richard Nixon. The Nixon White House and the FBI closely tracked the Attica uprising, which Nixon saw as “a black thing.” After the state retook control of the prison, Nixon said of Rockefeller, “He’s got a hell of a lot of guts... We have got to be tough on this.” And Nixon told Rockefeller he had his full backing.

Scores of prison officials, police, sheriffs, state troopers, and park police who carried out the murder, brutality, and torture. One, Deputy Warden Pfeil, yelled, “Kill the Jew bastard,” as he watched jailhouse lawyer Jerry Rosenberg being beaten, and then hit Rosenberg across his head with a chain himself. State troopers and police outside Attica could be heard gleefully yelling “white power,” as they reloaded to continue the massacre.

In Their Own Words:

On the day of the massacre, Nixon talked to Rockefeller by telephone and told him:

I know you’ve had a hard day, but I want you to know that I just back you to the hilt...the courage you showed and the judgment in not granting amnesty, it was right, and I don’t care what the hell the papers or anybody else says. I don’t care what they say. I think that you had to do it that way, because if you would have granted amnesty in this case, it would have meant that you would have had prisons in an uproar all over this country...you did the right thing. It’s a tragedy that these poor fellows were shot, but I just want you to know that’s my view, and I’ve told the troops around here they’re to back that right to the hilt.

Commemorations and actions will be taking place around the 45th anniversary of the Attica rebellion on September 9. We encourage readers to attend, bring the revolution, and write revcom.us (revolution.reports@yahoo.com) about significant events or struggles.

 

Sources

40th Anniversary of Attica Prison Rebellion: ‘We are not beasts and we do not intend to be beaten or driven as such’,” revcom.us, September 11, 2011

ATTICA!” revcom.us, November 15, 2009

Attica Brother Akil Al-Jundi,” revcom.us, August 21, 2011

William Kunstler, My Life as a Radical Lawyer, chapter 12 (Carol Publishing Group, 1994)

POV YouTube clip from Disturbing the Universe about the life of William Kunstler

Malcolm Bell, Turkey Shoot: Tracking the Attica Cover-Up (Grove/Atlantic, 1985)

Jennifer Schuessler, “Prying Lose the Long-Kept Secrets of Attica,” New York Times, August 3, 2016

Heather Ann Thompson, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Penguin Random House, 2016)

Sam Roberts, “Rockefeller on the Attica Raid, from Boastful to Subdued,” New York Times, September 12, 2011

“40 Years After Attica Rebellion, New Tapes Reveal Nixon, Rockefeller Praised Deadly Crackdown, Democracy Now! September 16, 2011

Bill Berkowitz, "Cover-Up of Slaughter at Attica Prison Continues Decades Later," BuzzFlash at Truthout.org, September 10, 2014

Bruce Jackson, “ATTICA: an anniversary of Death,” Artvoice, September 9, 1999

Top Government Official Admitted: The ‘War on Drugs’ IS a War on the People,” revcom.us, April 11, 2016

 

 


 

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Revolution #559 September 3, 2018

 

  New Podcast Series for Revcom.us—Volunteer!

 

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

From a reader

As part of building and strengthening the presence of revcom.us/Revolution newspaper on social media, and getting out to masses of people the science, the strategy, and the leadership for an actual revolution, a new podcast series is being developed, featuring articles from this site read aloud, with a simple intro and outro to direct people to dig deeply into all of this and get organized into the movement. We are calling on readers of revcom.us to contribute to this effort by offering their voice, expertise, and thoughts on how to make this as influential as it needs to be. This podcast must reach the students and youth on campuses who need to be digging into the questions put forward by revcom.us and receiving guidance on how to really change the world. It needs to reach people in the most desperate of conditions in the inner cities and the rural areas—people who have been denied the right to a quality education or even the chance to become literate. Everywhere people are agonizing over the state of the world, looking at their own futures or the future of humanity with a sense of dread, people need to get connected to this website and the works of Bob Avakian. This project can be a powerful tool for spreading this revolution.

Volunteer to be part of recording, posting and promoting.  Contact revclub_la@yahoo.com to get connected to the volunteers working on this.

 

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