Revolution #569, November 12, 2018 (revcom.us)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

The Elections Just Past, The Future We Face, And The REAL Revolution Humanity Needs

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This article was posted the morning after the midterm election. It remains relevant and conveys important basic orientation. There have been new developments since, for an update go to "The Trump/Pence fascist regime doubles down, post‑election: Dangers and Openings for Struggle"

Tuesday, November 6, witnessed elections.  We’re told that things have changed.

Really?

In fact, the fascist section of the rulers—headed by Trump and Pence—pushed forward and further consolidated; and the Democrats revealed themselves to be complicit with this, utterly unwilling to call it out for what it was and in fact capitulating to it.

The “face” of this election is not this or that newly minted Democratic legislator (be it some “proud-to-bomb-innocent-people-in-foreign lands” female military veteran, some wishful-thinking “democratic socialist,” or whatever latest Black or Brown face in a high place they put up to give this rotten system a fresh and “woke” look).

No.  The true picture of this election can be seen among the desperate refugees marching up from the made-in-USA hells in Honduras and Guatemala... and the U.S. troops being sent to threaten and stop them.  Its sound can be heard in the Hitler-style Trump rallies and his openly racist agitation booming through the airwaves.  Its echoes and shock waves can be felt in the pipe-bomb threats and the synagogue massacre, and the vicious “open season on Black people” atmosphere ripping through whole sections of society.  And oh yes, all the while the Democrats did nothing but desperately try to “change the subject” in the face of all that.

Let’s not tell ourselves stories about “blue waves” (or, now it seems, “blue trickles”) that will change nothing.  Let’s not fantasize about this or that supposed “check and balance” on Trump... when there is a fascist tsunami gaining power and momentum right in front of us.

Let’s face reality as it is.

Let’s look at what this system really has in store for people here and around the world in the aftermath of the elections.

The capitalist-imperialist plunder of our planet, now being sped up by the rise of fascist regimes around the world, will not STOP; it will accelerate, as the mines and oil wells boom and the rain forests are decimated.

The demonization and oppression of immigrants—which, yes, flourished under the Democrats as well (the polite “deporter-in-chief” Obama actually deported more people in his first year than Trump did) and which the Democrats said nothing about in the past two weeks—will not STOP.  It will get worse, more hysterical and more vicious, as fascists around the world headquartered in the White House—build fortresses to keep people out in the coming planetary disaster of climate change that they and their system have created and are accelerating.

The genocidal mass incarceration and police murder of Black, Latino, and Native American people will not STOP; it will continue to not just grind on but indeed to accelerate, in a lynch-mob atmosphere where whites all over feel empowered to drive Black and Brown people out of public space and every person of color is painted as a potential marauder.  All to be overseen by a Trump-picked Supreme Court determined to roll back every hard-fought right of the past 70 years.

The constant degradation and oppression of women, in every sphere of life and all over the world, will not STOP.  The election of some women to office cannot stop something that is deeply embedded in the very rise and nature of class-divided society itself, nor can it stand up to the tide of patriarchal viciousness sweeping the planet.  And these next few years will include a certain attempt to further restrict and/or abolish rights to abortion and even birth control.

Nor will these imperialist wars of aggression and occupations STOP; not when the Democrats make it a point to tout their military credentials and compete to “out-patriot” the fascists who are now in power and who are moving to violently assert their domination everywhere.

None of this is tolerable.  And ask yourself—isn’t THIS what keeps you up at night and questioning everything, wondering if there even will be a future?

But now let’s talk about reality as it can be.

Let’s talk about reality based not on some fantasy but on the deep and defining contradictions contained within this system, the very things we pointed to above.  The fact is that none of this is necessary, and all of it could be stopped—there IS a way—but that way cannot be found within this system of capitalism-imperialism.  There is a way to not only deal with these outrages—again, outrages that are exacerbated and made worse now with the system’s move toward fascism—but to abolish and move beyond all relations of exploitation and oppression, here and all over the world.  And that way requires an actual revolution.

This does not mean some minor changes within this system.  It 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 people in their millions ready to rise up and fight for revolution) have been brought into being.  It means going on from there to dismantle the institutions of this system and build a whole new society on a radically different economic and political foundation.

This is not some leap out of a nightmare and into a void.  We have a plan.  A plan to replace this death-bound system by a far better system—one that is truly emancipatory—as embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America written by Bob Avakian, BA, the architect of the new communism and the leader of the revolution.  We have a strategy to do this, as well—a hard strategy, but one that is founded on reality and is actually do-able—and laid out in a speech given by BA this summer, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.  

Listen: if you are someone who agonizes over the future, who hates the way this system does people here and around the world, who wonders about and yearns for a better way, we urgently invite you to listen to this talk, to come to our centers to talk, and to learn that there is a real way out of this madness.  We urgently invite you to check out and engage with the Revolution Club, to come to our centers or go to www.revcom.us and find out more.

In the battle plan HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution, we say that “We need to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution.”  Right now a key battle in making this revolution is the struggle to drive this Trump/Pence fascist regime out of power altogether.  The conflict between those who uphold this fascism and those who oppose it, from various different perspectives, is shaping everything right now.  These fascists, who now hold and are tightening their grips on the reins of power, must NOT be allowed to further consolidate and move even more relentlessly and determinedly to a total clampdown.  We cannot accommodate to this regime, normalize it, work with it, and all the rest of the reactionary stuff these Democratic politicians are busy doing the day after the election.  NO!  We must build a movement of millions to—again—drive it out, through the massive, nonviolent sustained struggle of millions, uniting everyone who opposes this regime, from all different perspectives.  We in the movement for revolution support the efforts of Refuse Fascism (refusefascism.org) and call on everyone to join us at demonstrations this Saturday, November 10.

As part of this we urge you to check out, get into and spread, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, a speech by Bob Avakian, that lays bare the deep roots of this regime and what must be done to get rid of it, available at revcom.us.

This situation is not easy—the stakes are unimaginably high, very likely involving the whole future of humanity.  But there is a way to change this, to make revolution, and to get to work on this now.  So again—we invite you to be part of this, to get with the Revolution Club, where you can learn more about this revolution while you take part in it.  The future remains to be written—and you are urgently needed.

Check out this revolution and this leadership at www.revcom.us.  Contact us at revolution.reports@yahoo.com or @tuneintorevcom.

Download PDF for printing—get out broadly (add local information on bottom of side 2)

Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:

 

Watch it, spread it, fund it

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it »

THE THREE CLIPS

Bob Avakian's Answer to People Who Complain about Immigrants Crossing Borders

How to spread the fighting spirit confronting fascists despite what Dems say?

What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?

 

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Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

The Trump/Pence fascist regime doubles down, post‑election

Dangers and Openings for Struggle

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The morning after the midterm elections, revcom.us published the article, “The Elections Just Past, The Future We Face, And The REAL Revolution Humanity Needs.” It remains relevant and conveys important basic orientation that people need which cuts against illusions, delusions, and even the blues that liberal and “progressive” people are thinking and being told to think by similar voices in the media.

However, there have been important developments since. Here, we want to speak briefly to an additional important point of orientation in response to what Trump has done over the last four days.

In a nutshell, since the elections Trump has doubled down—aggressively asserting even more vicious fascist terms: on immigration and the right to asylum; against the press, singling out Jim Acosta of CNN for refusing to stop asking questions about Trump’s anti-immigrant demagogy, as well as several Black reporters for raising similar questions, including about Trump’s appeal to “white nationalists”; and in his appointment of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general after he fired Jeff Sessions.

Each of these attacks on the press and against asylum seekers, as well as threats against birthright citizenship, is cut deep with full-out white supremacy—in their vicious racist message and in the program the regime is barreling ahead to implement. Make no mistake, these are not only calls to rouse his “base,” but are concrete fascist measures that should sound the alarm that the regime’s fascist agenda will increasingly be a juggernaut. Trump’s nomination of Whitaker is potentially an attempt to undercut, if not wipe out, the Mueller and other investigations.

The people need to be alert to the sharpening struggle at the top of the political system, particularly now that the Democrats are poised to be the majority in the House of Representatives, even though not until early January. We should recognize that it would be a serious matter if Trump attempts to stop or circumvent the Mueller and other investigations.

It is right that people took to the streets in struggle to prevent this, numbers need to grow, and people need to be determined to see this struggle through. We must not have more situations where people protest once, like with the Muslim ban, and then sit back while the Trump/Pence regime refines their ban just enough to get through the courts and then it goes into effect with scarcely a whimper from broad masses of people.

A few Democratic congresspersons have said that they intend to exercise their role in checking any attempt to thwart the investigation into the Trump regime. Yet Nancy Pelosi, the current minority leader of the Democrats and potentially the next Speaker of the House, said in her post-election remarks that impeachment is not now on the table, and that her position is that it is “not unifying. And I get criticized in my own party for not being in support of it. But I’m not. If that happens, it would have to be bipartisan.” Thus far, Pelosi’s posture represents the dominant line of those sections of the ruling class who both have significant differences with Trump and are in his line of fire.

The following two paragraphs from this website provide important orientation for how to analyze and act on this unfolding situation.

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.

To more deeply understand how the Trump/Pence fascist regime has arisen out of the whole history of this country and system of capitalism-imperialism and the stakes and road forward for humanity, there is nothing more clarifying than the film: THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, a speech by the leader of the revolution, Bob Avakian.

Every fascist move by the Trump/Pence regime, including moves by Trump and/or his regime to undermine the investigations, should be met by mass resistance in the streets involving more and more people and diverse political organizations—everyone who recognizes the profound danger this regime poses to people here and around the world.

People should also go to refusefascism.org to learn about and join the group that is organizing “a movement of people coming from diverse perspectives, united in our recognition that the Trump/Pence Regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet, and that it is our responsibility to drive them from power through non-violent protests that grow every day until our demand is met.”


RefuseFascism.org is a movement of people coming from diverse perspectives, united in our recognition that the Trump/Pence Regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet, and that it is our responsibility to drive them from power through massive, nonviolent political protest. We are united in these demands:

This Nightmare Must End:
The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY,
WE REFUSE TO ACCEPT
A FASCIST AMERICA

 

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Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

Iranian Immigrants on Watching Bob Avakian’s Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A Call to Those Whose Hearts Are Aching

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

To revcom.us:

We, a small group of Iranian immigrants living here in U.S., after watching the film of a talk given by comrade Bob Avakian last summer, are writing this letter to tell you about our experience with this film and to invite, encourage and really challenge others whose hearts are aching when hearing and seeing the world of horrors that humanity is going through throughout the world to really put aside some time and really, as soon as you can, sit down with a few friends, relatives and loved ones to watch this film. This film educates you, tells you why the world is the way it is and how it does not have to be this way anymore, and how another world is possible. But more than that, the film invites you in to see that you and others can become part of the bridge to revolution, to another and much better future. This film will change you as it changed all of us in one way or the other.

Through watching BA’s latest talk/film, we were inspired to start studying THE NEW COMMUNISM with the hope of contributing as much as we can to bringing forward another and much better world for humanity everywhere, a communist world based on the new synthesis of communism.

If you are looking at the world and your heart aches:

We have a responsibility to act... and we should start now.

It has become very clear to us what Bob Avakian, simply puts forward “...we have two choices: either, live with all this—and condemn future generations to the same, or worse, if they have a future at all—or, make revolution!” We have come to realize even more clearly than before watching this film that we do not want to live in this nightmare and we have confidence that you do not want that either. We found out that we do have a role to play, not in the future but now, with the joy of bringing a new world for the future generations.

Watching the new film was real and exactly what the title was promising to deliver. We encountered a subject/concept that we had never understood firmly. How to make a revolution in the strongest, most heartless and vicious country in the history of human beings, given what more it is capable of and most likely is planning to do given the fascist vision of this regime under Donald Trump. They really do hold the world hostage through their crimes. They are able and willing to do more for their expansion and profit and more. This is their strength that we seriously should not and can not downplay. We have experienced that each personally/collectively.

On the other hand, we learned how we should and could arm ourselves with the science of revolution to understand the real world the way it is and the way it can change, to prepare ourselves, as a force for revolution for a time when millions would no longer tolerate the crimes of this system, and want to act.

We learned a great deal about each of the 5 Stops—the horrors they represent. At the same time, each and all will force masses of the people of different strata to react. When those millions do come into the street against one or more crimes of this system, as people did in Iran or Egypt and more ... they need to have a plan, guideline, strategy and a leadership. This time we should seize on their weakness and play our role to contribute to leading these millions for a real chance of a communist revolution, to put an end to this imperialist America once and for all in the interest of the humanity by providing them with the new synthesis of communism—the method and the science and the leadership of Bob Avakian, the architect of the new communism.

Comrade Avakian very precisely and delicately spoke to certain critical issues that clarified concepts that were unknown or complicated for us. Up until watching this film we honestly did not think that such a revolution is possible here. We learned how we could play a role and be part of the movement for revolution as well act as reserve forces of revolution to keep up the momentum of the revolution and meet its multiple needs now and when the revolutionary forces engage the enemy head on and all out. This film answered a lot of questions we had and at the same time raised many questions that we did not think we had before watching this film.

It was very useful to learn about the 5 Stops and how these are historic concentrations of contradictions this system of capitalism-imperialism can not solve.

The first separation of men and women and its relationship to the private ownership of the means of production and how interwoven they are and how one can not be done away with without the other... without the elimination of capitalist accumulation and exchange... WOW! We had to stop the film many, many times not just for translation, but it was monumental to digest the layer upon layer, and then, WOW! again as it became clear how important it is to fight the power now, and even how much more important it is to transform the people for revolution, and yes through struggle. This last battle around stopping Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, for example, shows how crucial it is to struggle with people who really care about one or more of these 5 Stops and why THIS SYSTEM IS NOT REFORMABLE AND MUST BE OVERTHROWN.

This same method pierced through other stops—attacks on immigrants, attacks on Blacks and other people of color, minorities, attacks on the environment and wars of empires—that its impact is not just on us and new generations but for generations to come IF THERE WOULD STILL BE THE CHANCE FOR SUCH A FUTURE... and all of that not because of the capitalist or individual greed, rather for the survival of this system of capitalism-imperialism itself.

One of the key concepts that stood out for us was the understanding of HASTENING WHILE AWAITING, a significant principle of revolution and continuation of the revolution, and how Three Prepares1—terrain, people and the vanguard—should be hastened in everything we do now from the perspective of the revolution back....

Another thing stood out so clearly, given the experience some of us have had in our country, was the concept of being serious and SCIENTIFIC about revolution. Even though all of us were serious—damn serious—and were ready to put everything on the line and we did, some of us, or maybe most of us, did not go at it scientifically. This is going to be the case in any revolution but should be looked at as a contradiction that will be with us, but our responsibility is to turn that necessity-contradiction, as Comrade Avakian puts it, into freedom. And here again what we learned about the political and ideological centralization and tactical and local decentralization and each of us becoming the leadership of all people, the oppressed whose everyday lives are hell under this system and others who could not stand these horrors any longer even if they do not suffer that hell directly....

It was really very important for us to watch and interact with this film collectively. We really enjoyed the collective wrangling with it and thanks for those who helped to translate and gave a framework to many wild questions and perspectives we had and those we did not know we had.

And the final point, and maybe the beginning point, is the challenge to our thinking that Comrade Avakian puts us on a scientific basis that communism is not inevitable. It is a science and science needs scientists, not only understanding what is but transforming the world and emancipating humanity, that is the challenge on all of us to become emancipators of humanity....

We should be frank: This was not easy. It was work for us and for comrades who helped translate and frame the discussion. Some of us were not sure that we were going to be able to go through the whole thing. But at the end we came to the point that we need more of it and that is why together we are going to study THE NEW COMMUNISM first and plan to study the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America right after that.


1. The Three Prepares are: 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.  [back]

 

Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:

 

Watch it, spread it, fund it

Check out clips and audio of the film and Q&As

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it »

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America
(Draft Proposal)

Authored by Bob Avakian, and adopted by the Central Committee of the RCP

Read and Download (PDF)

 

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Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

Nostalgic for the Obama Years?
Find Out How Much Harm Barack and Michelle Actually Did to Black People and Think Again

Reposted | Originally posted February 8, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following was originally published on revcom.us in February 2017, shortly after the Obamas left the White House. In light of Barack Obama having hit the "campaign trail" for some Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, at times calling out Trump by name, and the hype around the publication of Michelle Obama's memoir, which includes some criticism of Trump, we are reposting this article, originally titled "The 'Obama Legacy': Besides Carrying Out War and Aggression All Over the World and Committing Crimes Against Humanity... Besides Deporting Nearly 3 Million Immigrants... Besides Not Only Leaving Intact But Sharpening Up the Repressive Powers He Inherited From Bush... BARACK (AND MICHELLE) OBAMA, OF ALL PEOPLE, DID MORE HARM TO BLACK PEOPLE DURING THE LAST EIGHT YEARS."

 

Barack Obama was America's first Black president—put in office by a ruling class that badly needed "plastic surgery" internationally and "at home" after the disastrous Bush administration with its blood-soaked and utterly unjustified war on Iraq and everything concentrated in the callous, racist way it handled Hurricane Katrina. He came into office promoting the idea that America had at long last put its "racial problems" behind it, and that it was also now going to be a great friend to the oppressed peoples of the world. We'll get into the actual war crimes and crimes against humanity that he committed at another time. But right now, particularly at a time when there's a lot of "nostalgia" for the Obama years, let's look at what he did about and TO Black people—and let's include Michelle Obama in that as well, for she not only did things in her own right but also played the role of assuring those who would normally be raising questions, that she was "authentic" and "keeping Obama real." And particularly at a time when Obama is doing great damage in disarming people about the biggest threat they face right now, it is extremely important to face the TRUTH about this.

1) After Michael Brown was murdered in Ferguson, Obama's BULLSHIT message was, "First and foremost, we are a nation built on the rule of law" and "Our police officers put themselves on the line for us every single day." When the pigs in Baltimore murdered Freddie Gray and the youth of Baltimore rose up demanding justice—Obama called them "thugs," while never condemning the murdering cops. Obama's Department of Justice issued Consent Decrees on police departments around the country—which include reports that acknowledged some of the murderous crimes being carried out by the pigs, but then wrapped all this in talk of bullshit reforms. In Ferguson, for example, the Justice Department report showed widespread, pervasive racism—but then wrapped that sliver of truth in a bigger lie, saying that Michael Brown caused his own death! The actual Department of Justice record under Obama was of supporting literally every single act of police violence that has come before the U.S. Supreme Court. For his whole eight years in office, Obama continually defended murdering pigs gunning down Black and Latino youth—and at the same time both attacked, and at other times misled, those fighting against police murder, telling people to work with the cops.1

2) Obama put the blame for the poverty, high prison rates, poor education, and the whole oppressive situation Black and Latino youth face on the people themselves. He preached that the problem is the lack of "personal responsibility"—"absentee fathers“—(often “absentee” due to being thrown into the prison system on a racist basis!), youth with sagging pants, too much TV, and so on. He completely left out the actual reality of how this system has devastated communities of the oppressed; left little "choice" for millions of youth except the underground economy or the military; how Black people are continually discriminated against in housing, health care, education, and jobs, as shown by study after study, making a mockery of the notion of "equality"; how young Black men are targeted with "stop and frisk" racial profiling and outright police murder; and how millions of them are thrown into prisons, many for minor drug violations. In a speech to graduates from Morehouse College he said, "We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices" and now "There's no time for excuses." And who better than Barack Obama, the first Black president, to deliver this message to Black youth for their plight? If George Bush or now, Trump does this—Black people, at least many, would more readily see this as racist. But when the first Black president did it, it was able to get people to swallow this poison. And this is a big part of WHY he was brought forward and supported by the ruling class as president—to promote the LIE that America was "post-racial" and that if Black people were having problems "it was their own fault." 2

3) Obama promoted the notion that Black people should be part of joining the military and going all over the world to kill other oppressed people in the interests of U.S. imperialism. In June, 2015 he made a big deal, posthumously awarding two World War I "heroes" with the Medal of Honor; one to a Jewish son of Russia immigrants and another to one of the all-Black "Harlem Hellfighters" who he said had both gone "unacknowledged and uncelebrated." This was like celebrating the Black "Buffalo Soldiers" who after the Civil War helped the U.S. Army steal the land of and carry out the genocide of the Native Americans. While Michelle Obama made supporting military families and spouses her personal mission, Barack Obama, as the first Black president provided a "role model for Black people"—commander in chief who reaffirmed the policy of indefinite military detentions; who presided over torture in Guantánamo; who oversaw a weekly "kill list" and escalated the use of Predator drones, killing countless innocent civilians. Obama waged war on seven countries and supported Israel TWICE in its genocidal onslaughts against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Decades ago, looking at all that U.S. imperialism did around the world, Malcolm X called "Uncle Sam" a "bloody-jawed wolf"—Obama is just another one of those wolves, and if anyone can't see it, it's because they don't want to see it!3

4) Obama continually attempted to, and too often succeeded in, politically neutering prominent Black intellectuals and artists, as well as other artists and intellectuals with progressive reputations, promoting the illusion that they had "one of their own" in the White House—covering up that no matter who is in the White House he (or she) must serve "the bloody-jawed wolf" of U.S. imperialism, and thereby enlisting them in the crimes against humanity carried out by the very empire which built itself in the first place on slavery and genocide. It is a very sad commentary that very few prominent Black intellectuals or artists besides Cornel West continually and forcefully condemned Obama for his wars of empire and military aggression against other oppressed peoples, as well as the extremely dangerous effect he was having on the struggle against the oppression of Black people as a people.4

5) After a cold-blooded white supremacist massacred nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina... because they were Black... after they had opened their doors to him... Obama went to South Carolina and delivered what was supposed to be a eulogy for the Black people who had been slaughtered. And right there, at the funeral, in front of the loved ones of those who had been killed, he actually had the nerve to say that this murder was part of "God's plan"—and that the main thing people needed to learn from this horrible thing was the "power of forgiving"—when in fact if anything, what the so-called "power of forgiving" has taught the people over and over and over again, is that it has enabled nothing but the people learning to and being forced to live with oppression. As for the ridiculous notion of this being part of "God's plan," then why not chalk up ALL the horrors of the Middle Passage, centuries of slavery that make the mind and heart ache and boil to even think of them, the decades of lynching, and now the hell of mass incarceration and criminalization in every sphere—why not chalk ALL that up to "God's plan" rather than the workings of U.S. capitalism-imperialism, its institutions of white supremacy, and the horrible way that they have conditioned all too many white people to act? Because everyone except someone like Ben Carson would recognize what a lie that was, that's why!! And by the way, as long as we're on the topic of (the nonexistent) "God"—why would anyone worship a god with a "plan" that fiendish and cruel??!?5

6) When Obama ran for president in 2008, he threw Jeremiah Wright not only under the bus but off the goddamn bridge for saying a little bit of the truth about America. Wright had given sermons where he had said things like: "[The United States] Government lied about their belief that all men were created equal. The truth was they believe all White men were created equal" and "The Government lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq being a threat to the United States' peace. And guess what else? If they don't find them some Weapons of Mass Destruction, they gonna do just like the LAPD and plant them some Weapons of Mass Destruction. Governments lie..." Obama gave an entire well-publicized speech trashing Wright, who had been his minister in Chicago, saying Wright had "a view that sees white racism as endemic," and that his thinking was "divisive" and draws people away from the problems of "two wars, a terrorist threat, a failing economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change." In this way, in a phrase, Obama covered over how there is systematic oppression of Black people and an entrenched system of white supremacy running through every institution of America and at the very core of the country. This kind of "cover-up" continued throughout his presidency.6

7) Obama did some high-profile things, like visiting prisons and releasing some prisoners to give the impression he was actually doing something about the horror of mass incarceration in the USA—which is an international scandal where America is known for its "addiction" to imprisoning Black and Latino men and women under the guise of the "war on drugs"—part of what amounts to a slow genocide that can become very fast at any time. Obama implemented some policies aimed at reducing the prison population like getting rid of some of harsh minimum sentencing policies that led to the shortening of sentences and/or the early release of thousands of prisoners. Obama commuted the sentences of over 1,000 prisoners. But this is thimble-full in an ocean of blood—in a prison system where over 2 million people are behind bars. And consider this: If the trend set by Obama of reducing the prison population were to continue—and this is a big IF, now with Trump in office—it would take 80-90 years (!) to get to where the prison population was in 1980. The fact that Obama did anything at all was consistent with the whole point and purpose of his presidency—to give a "fresh progressive face" to America after the horror of the Iraq War and the open torture of the Bush regime along with the scandal of its massive prison system that had tarnished America's reputation—and its ability to dominate—around the world. And the fact that this was bullshit cosmetics, designed to fool the inattentive, was ALSO consistent.7

8) In the face of a horrible situation where masses of youth are killing each other in Chicago and other cities, as well as rampant random (or "white-on-white") slaughter more generally in America, Obama has covered over the real reason this is happening—refusing to point the finger at what and who really is causing this. Once again he, along with Michelle Obama, has led the way in preaching that the problem is "gun control" when the shooters are white, and gun control plus a lack of "personal responsibility" when they are Black or Latino—when in fact, the problem is that these youth have been left with no future, that they have been trained in and acting on the very dog-eat-dog outlook of this system as it translates into their circumstances, and that the only way out of this is the radical overturning of this system and a whole new economic and political system and, in the case of the “mass shooters” phenomenon, that this sick and twisted society is unique in the sheer amount of people that it evidently conditions and drives to carry out such monstrous things.8

9) Black people were especially hard hit by the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. Predatory subprime loans, which had much higher interest rates, affected people of all nationalities, but the banks deliberately targeted Black and Latino people in particular. It came out in court that loan officers at Wells Fargo referred to these subprime loans as "ghetto loans," and referred to Black customers as "mud people." Foreclosures severely affected Black and Latino communities at much higher rates than whites. According to a 2008 report this led to "the greatest loss of wealth to people of color in modern U.S. history—between $164 billion and $213 billion for loans taken during the past eight years." (State of the Dream 2008: Foreclosed) Across the nation, more than 240,000 Black people lost homes they had owned. But Obama did NOTHING to aid Black people who were devastated by the crash of 2008. The programs Obama introduced intended to help some of these homeowners are now widely considered failures. (See: "Obama Failed to Mitigate America's Foreclosure Crisis"9)

10) Perhaps worst of all, Obama became the "normalizer-in-chief"—paving the way for the fascist Donald Trump. He literally told people, "it's gonna be alright," reiterating over and over again that it was of utmost importance to have a "peaceful transition of power"—which in effect meant telling people to ACCEPT FASCISM. He did absolutely nothing to sound an alarm about the real and urgent danger looming over the world or to rally people to resist this. He did the opposite. He said, "I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition"—which meant paving the way for this fascist to come into office without massive opposition, especially from Black people and other oppressed peoples.10

In fact, it is this normalization that gives us the best clue as to WHY Obama so deeply put the knife into the backs of Black people. Remember when Obama came out after Trump won, a few days later and said: "We are now all rooting for his [Trump's] success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy... [W]e have to remember that we're actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We're not Democrats first. We're not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We're patriots first...." So he TOLD us straight up why he did this—that he is on the same team as Trump!!!

Think about that. Are YOU on the "same team" as Trump? Here's someone who's going to take the masses of Black people into a far lower circle of hell. Are YOU on that team? Is that what YOU are fighting for? Well, he's told you that HE is on the same team.

Shit is way too serious now to harbor any illusions, to cover over any of the hard edges of what the masses face. This Trump is going to speed up what has already been a slow genocide. And if he gets away with it—and this Party is determined he will not, and we want to unite with everyone else who wants to stand up against this foul fascist pig and his regime of monsters—but if he does, history will rightly condemn Barack Obama as his number one accomplice.

FOOTNOTES:

1. From revcom.us: Obama Addresses Police Forum: Cosmetic Changes, Increased Repression; Five Lies in Obama's Speech After Darren Wilson Went Free; Obama's "Let Legal System Work" = Let Murdering Police Walk; Post Racial My Ass! ON THE ARREST OF HENRY LOUIS GATES IN HIS OWN HOME! By Carl Dix [back]

2. From revcom.us: Straight Talk About Obama and the Oppression of Black People; Six Ways That Obama Has Been Worse Than Bush; Youtube of Obama Speech at Morehouse College [back]

3. From revcom.us: Obama Administration: Judge, Jury, and Executioner; Six Ways That Obama Has Been Worse Than Bush [back]

4. From Bob Avkian: BA on Obama: Let's Be Real Here: As Bad As Bush Was, In Many Ways Obama Is Worse... [back]

5. From Bob Avakian: THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, by Bob Avakian. (pdf online, pp 256-257)
From revcom.us: Of Liberation and Love: Why Obama Embraced Forgiveness—and Why We Should NOT [back]

6. "Jeremiah Wright controversy," on Wikipedia
From revcom.us: The Morning After the Elections: The Promise of Change... and the Change We Need [back]

7. From revcom.us: What Will It Take to Really Get Rid of Mass Incarceration? [back]

8. Chicago Tribune: An emotional Obama flexes his executive muscle on gun control.
From the Revolution Club, Chicago: A CALL FROM CHICAGO COME TOGETHER—TRUCE—TO STOP THE TRUMP-PENCE REGIME [back]

9. From revcom.us: Subprime Mortgage Crisis: Nightmare of the "American Dream" for Black and Latino People
From Nathalie Baptiste: Them That's Got Shall Get: Two years after we last investigated the foreclosure crisis in the most affluent black county in America, things aren't exactly looking up—except, maybe, for the banks by Nathalie Baptiste
From Mother Jones: The Great Eviction: Black America and the Toll of the Foreclosure Crisis
From the Atlantic: Obama Failed to Mitigate America's Foreclosure Crisis [back]

10. From revcom.us: Obama Farewell Speech: A Criminal Attempt to Lead People to Accept the Fascist Trump-Pence Regime; Obama on Trump: "We're All on THE Same Team" (!) [back]

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/568/andy-zee-on-michael-slate-show-nov-2-2018-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

ANDY ZEE ON THE MICHAEL SLATE SHOW ON KPFK FM, NOVEMBER 2, 2018

A Week of Deadly Fascism... the World Torn Asunder...
whoever wins and whether you voted or not,

Be in the Streets Beginning the Day After the Midterm Elections
TO DEMAND AND DEMONSTRATE OUR DETERMINATION THAT:

IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

The following is an interview with Andy Zee broadcast on November 2, 2018, on The Michael Slate Show. Andy Zee is the spokesperson for Revolution Books and is an advocate for the new communism developed by Bob Avakian. Zee is also a co-initiator of RefuseFascism.org.

The Michael Slate Show on KPFK Pacifica radio airs every week at 10 am Pacific Time on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, a Pacifica Network station. Revolution/revcom.us features interviews from The Michael Slate Show to acquaint our readers with the views of significant figures in art, theatre, music and literature, science, sports, and politics.

The interview has been slightly edited. The interview with Andy Zee followed the playing on the air of a Q&A with Bob Avakian on: “What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?” You can listen to BA’s answer here.

***

Michael Slate: Where are things at today? What’s being called for and what needs to be done?

Andy Zee: Refuse Fascism is calling for protests on the day after the elections, and then again on Saturday, November 10. Let’s just take a quick look at this last week. If this last week doesn’t tell your listeners that this regime is fascist and that they are rapidly bringing about a fascist America that’s going to imperil all of humanity, then I don’t know what will.

Maybe people who are listening to this and feel that this isn’t really happening should just turn the dial and switch to an easy listening station. But if you’ve got your eyes open, your ears open and you’re thinking about what has just gone down, you have to face the fact that the world as we have known it is being rapidly torn asunder by the very workings of the system we live under, capitalism-imperialism.

This is a system that exploits people here and around the world. Bob Avakian [BA] just brought a lot of that to the listeners in the answer to the question “What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?” in the Q&A following his speech, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Could Really Make Revolution.

This system has encountered very sharp and serious challenges here and around the world. As BA brought forward in a different film, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, fascism is one possible resolution to the problems this system faces, from the perspective of the people who run this system. But that’s a resolution that’s on the terms of the system and its ruling class, even as it creates a great horror for humanity.

So I think we need to get into this more deeply. In answer to the question, “What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?” BA said look at what they’re already doing. He brought this out very trenchantly. I won’t repeat what he said about white supremacy, xenophobia, what’s happening to the immigrants, the whole gamut that he spoke to. But let’s just look, again, at the last week. There’s been the largest mass slaughter of Jewish people in U.S. history, of 11 people in their temple during worship. The anti-Semitism that’s behind that is closely linked to the white supremacy that’s run all through the history of this country. If you listen to Fox TV, let alone the even more far-right stations, this is being fomented over and over again, barely with a dog whistle. Trump himself is not apologizing and backing down, but actually doubling down.

Right before this, we had pipe bombs that were mailed to leaders of the Democratic Party, or people who represent and speak for them in the media. And let’s be really clear on this. That should tell people that there’s a big struggle up at the top of society, between two sections of the ruling class, the Democrats on the one hand, and the Republicans on the other, both of which preside over the system. But in order for these fascists to bring about their program, which is within the confines of this capitalist system, they need a radically different form through which it’s ruled; and this is going to mean tremendous suffering for people here and around the world—a horrific intensification of all the oppressive things that have gone on before. But at the same time, fascism essentially strips away the governing norms of society such as the separation of church and state, the rule of law, the separation of powers, all these things. You can see them being torn asunder already, as well as increasing the threat of war—with an even more bellicose foreign policy.

Then comes the caravan of immigrants seeking asylum from Central America, which Trump has been just demonizing. Yes, with a lot of falsehoods, but falsehoods that create a narrative that a section of people are now enflamed about, and this speaks to some very fundamental things about this country and the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime.

The protest that Refuse Fascism is calling for says, No matter if you vote, no matter who wins, in the name of humanity, we have to drive out the regime.

The Democrats are not going to put up any kind of meaningful resistance to what’s being done to immigrants. Just listen to what they have said that they would do if they win. The Democrats have told you that if they win, they want to show that they are the party that wants to “govern,” and this is why they’re going to cooperate with the Trump/Pence regime, and not investigate. This is why they don’t want to touch the immigration issue right now. They say the issue should be health care. Of course, health care is important. But they don’t want to touch this tremendous crime against humanity that’s going on.

The former head of the Democratic Party in Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, was also the governor of Pennsylvania in the 1990s and actually did a lot to work to push for the execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal—which was eventually prevented. Ed Rendell said, just this past week: Look, what I would do if I was in power... I would make a deal with Trump and give him his money for the wall, if I could get a deal on immigration in exchange for the wall. This is what a leader of the Democratic Party is saying.

But what kind of deal would that be? What would a deal with Donald Trump, who has long advocated for white supremacist, xenophobic, beliefs and policies, actually mean around immigration? What kind of deal would Trump go for? Let alone, what about the whole aroused fascist section of this country, his “base” that numbers in the tens of millions, what would they actually be willing to settle for? How would they be unleashed if he sold them out?

But also, more fundamentally, what about the Democrats, what kind of deal would they want to make? We cannot forget that President Obama was known as the Deporter-in-Chief.

The system of capitalism-imperialism and the United States has ravaged the countries from which immigrants and refugees come. It’s the working of this system that has brought 65 million refugees wandering the planet looking for a way to live and survive over the last year. And there comes a point for the Democrats where, if you want to call it the public relations, or the optics of things, are trumped by—and I use the pun deliberately—the actual interests and necessity that they face. They can’t open the border in the way that it should be. I saw somebody on Facebook saying, I’m really getting upset watching these immigrants try to march here all the way from Honduras. Why don’t we go down and pick them up?

Well, you may want to do that, and that would be a good and just idea, but you can’t do that under a system based on exploitation. And, why won’t the Democratic Party mobilize the masses of people to come down to the border to welcome the refugees and stop the Border Patrol and troops from harming the refugees? Because they can’t. Because the Democrats are actually a ruling class party.

A direct cause of what’s going on—two-thirds of the people in the caravan are from Honduras. Honduras, a country that in 2009 had a coup d’etat that brought a more fascist regime to power—a coup that was sponsored by, that was likely known ahead of time by, and definitely supported by Hillary Clinton who was then the Secretary of State, and by then President Barack Obama. And this has created tremendous fascistic horror in Honduras, and a murderous regime that has caused these people to flee their country and seek refuge. Yes, the crisis the people in Central America face is fostered by, made by, the USA, and now people are seeking shelter here to be met by guns of federal troops, of whom Trump said yesterday: I’m going to tell them if the immigrants throw stones that they should be shot.

So here again, my point is that the Democratic Party has told you, and the Washington Post and the liberal pro-Democratic Party media has told you many times, that they’re going to work with the Trump/Pence regime if they get elected. So we can get into this more, about why the Democrats won’t mobilize their social base, and why they’re trying to channel you into supporting them through the normal channels of elections.

And as soon as the election’s over, besides working with the Republicans and the fascist regime, the Democrats and their supporters down to the grassroots are going to say to you, well, now you’re actually going to have to work for 2020. Can you imagine what the fascist Trump/Pence regime could do by then?

My third point on what we can learn from this week is that there is a way out of the madness. Fundamentally, and in the final analysis, what we must be working for today, and what I as a spokesperson for Revolution Books believe, and what the speech that Bob Avakian gave says, is that we have to overthrow this system that’s given rise to this fascism and what this fascist regime is doing, in an extreme form. As Avakian brought out in the Q&A clip, the white supremacy, the attacks on immigrants, the attacks on the environment, the misogyny, the danger of war—all of this is going to be greatly intensified. But we need to prepare today for a revolution that we can make when the time and the conditions are right for that.

But whether or not your listeners agree that we need a whole new system, or whether they see revolution as the way to bring that into being, there will be no good future for anybody who has any concern for humanity, and for the future of the planet and the other species that live on this planet, if we don’t act to drive out this regime. It does require you, right now, acting outside the normal channels of political life in this country, breaking your normal routine, recognizing that it is being broken already.

And the question is, are you going to just sit on your ass, and as I said at the top of this interview, go numb yourself with an easy listening station... or, are you just going to pull a lever on Tuesday, or even not pull a lever on Tuesday because you think it’s all the same stuff that’s going on and your life will go on as it has... never mind humanity? Or, are you going to get out and get into the streets and start building the kind of movement where very soon, within the next few months, we can actually get to the point where millions of people take to the streets day after day, night after night, create the kind of political crisis in this country where those in power, yes in the Democratic Party, perhaps those in the Republican Party who have been under fire from the fascists, the very few who oppose this who are still left in that party, will actually be compelled by our struggle to do something to remove this entire regime from power.

But then, of course, in that situation, the struggle against all the forms of oppression that are the normal workings of the system will still be on, but it would be in better conditions: with an aroused people who are fighting in their own interests, and we could go forward from there.

So that’s what I wanted to say about why people should get out into the streets and represent with Refuse Fascism, on Wednesday, November 7, in cities across the country, and then on Saturday, November 10, in even greater numbers. Whether you voted or didn’t vote, and whoever wins, this fascist regime is still going to be in power, and in the name of humanity, they need to go. And the answer to how they go, is you, the listeners of this station and millions of other people, getting out into the streets and putting something on the line. Bob Avakian said that history will not look kindly on you if you fail to act.

Michael Slate: There’s a thing that comes out all over society, in this country in particular, about, look, America is America. It can’t happen here. I had somebody sit down and tell me, no, there’s too much we have already embedded in our thinking and in the way the system works, all these things. There’s a way out of this. They talk about the question of elections and all this.

I recently came across something from Refuse Fascism that I think people need to consider and wrestle with. Fascism can come to power through normal processes of elections and laws. It doesn’t have to be a coup. Donald Trump didn’t take power in a coup.

But it can’t be removed from power that way, which is something I think people really have to wrestle with. What is it going to take to actually stand up and do what you’re talking about?

Andy Zee: I think that’s a very important point. Fascism very often comes to power through elections. It’s happening all over the world. It just happened in Brazil. It’s a foolish statement, and I have to say: that statement of the people you were arguing with. They know something about history. They’re just deliberately ignoring, and acting ignore-ant in that kind of way, or they’ve got such blinders on by the fact of whatever comforts they have in their life, that they’re not facing up to reality.

How could fascism come about in a country that was founded on slavery and white supremacy? “That’s really a mystery to me.” And it’s continued that white supremacy all through its history. How could fascism come about in a country that was founded on such deep patriarchal misogyny that has continued all through its history, including as Avakian just brought out in the Q&A you just played, about how it’s only been in the past several decades that the right to rape your wife was taken away in the last of the states?

How could a country that was founded on American exceptionalism and invading countries and fomenting coups all around the world—how could a country like that be fascist?

Come on! Fascism is coming to America, wrapped in the American flag, with the Christian fundamentalists, the political form of that, the Christian fascists, headed up by Mike Pence, trying to make this a white, Christian nation that protects the rights of men—and this is what’s going on.

You’re not going to get that to change by relying on the party, the Democratic Party, that is being targeted by this regime, but at the same time, represents that same system and has those interests in mind, and will not actually unleash people at the bottom of society, or people who are oppressed by this.

Just take the environment, where there was the Paris Accord, which is not going to come close to solving the problem of the environment but was a statement reflecting intent to do so. To deal with the environment would require societies around the world who would mobilize masses of people to go on the offensive to prevent the release of carbon into the atmosphere and other things to begin a process that might save the planet. The Democrats aren’t going to do that.

This is why the only way to stop what this fascist regime is doing is to mobilize the masses of people to act in the way RefuseFascism.org is calling for.

As Avakian brought out, first of all, such a struggle has been done recently in countries around the world, from Armenia to South Korea. There was the Arab Spring. Yes, that struggle got turned around, but that was because people didn’t understand what they were fully up against, the nature of the system including the army. And such questions will come up here, too.

But we have to actually recognize that people taking to the streets in massive numbers in nonviolent protests that are sustained, has been done before, and recently. Then people say, but you can’t get American people to step out of their homes. Well, millions of people have come out and demonstrated in the last year. The problem is they’ve been doing so in only a symbolic way, and only for a day, and every time they start to want to protest, the Democratic Party and its people in the so-called progressive movements in this country, channel people back into the elections, which leaves people without a way to really fight and put forward their own interests.

Nothing changes without struggle. Every change that’s come about in this country, every reform that’s come about in this country, has come from struggle. Without a fundamental change for a radically new system that can only be achieved through a revolution, people will suffer under the exploitation and oppression of this system. But, even just looking at what happens to reforms won through struggle, if you don’t maintain that struggle, guess what happens? You get where we are today, where the very reforms won in the 1960s have been taken away—through the normal workings of this system and the conscious policies of the rulers. What’s more, the backlash to the reforms and to the specter of people demanding change that undermines the oppressive foundations of this country have themselves fueled the forging of the fascist movements that have come together in the Trump/Pence regime that wants to not just reverse the 1960s and struggles since, but cement in place a full-blown fascist order.

Michael Slate: All right, Andy, this is clearly the question of our times. How are we going to come up out of all this? How are we going to change the world so humanity can actually live like human beings?

Andy Zee: Thanks, Michael. And I hope your audience did not tune into the easy listening station, and gets out in the streets on Wednesday and then on Saturday. You can go to RefuseFascism.org to find out where the demonstrations are around the country.

What would be the next step if the Trump/Pence regime consolidates power?

Click here to watch the whole film:
Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

Go here for more information on protests

September 2017:

Talk by Bob Avakian

The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us

The following is an important talk given by Bob Avakian in 2017.

Read talk                 Listen

Bob Avakian and Cornel West on: Is there value to voting? Can voting stop fascism?

Excerpt from the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN

View the entire film here: REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN

 

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Revolution #569 November 12, 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/avakian/bob_avakian-the-problem-the-solution-and-the-challenges-before-us-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

August 31, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Listen

Download PDF of "The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us"

Talk by Bob Avakian

The following is the text of a talk given by Bob Avakian (BA) to a Party working group in the summer of 2017. The audio of this talk is available here.

 

The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us

Touching on Essential Questions Concerning the Actual History of this Country, The Nature of the Capitalist-Imperialist System We Live Under, The Consequences of This for Humanity, The Way Forward to a World Free of the Unnecessary Suffering and Horrors Bound Up With All This, and the Breakthroughs That Must Be Made Now

 

 

Part 1: Breaking with American Chauvinism and the Killing Confines of Capitalism

Contrary to all the mythology that is constantly perpetrated and perpetuated through the dominant institutions of this society and all of its spokespeople, the wealth of this country and the situation of the people within it is not owing to some great freedoms that are particular to this country and to the great innovativeness that this freedom allows and encourages. To get to the reality of what this really rests on we could go back to Marx, speaking about the primitive accumulation of capitalism on the basis of horrific plunder and unbelievable exploitation of masses of people in far-flung parts of the world. This provided the foundation on which the accumulation of capitalism began, coming out of feudal society, and the basis on which whatever innovation was carried out ultimately rested. Marx also spoke of the “rosy dawn” of capitalism with great irony. In the book Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones, I quoted Jack Weatherford who wrote Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World. He begins with this statement: “The capitalists [speaking of the United States, in particular, but the capitalists in Europe and other places as well—these capitalists] built the new structure on the twin supports of the slave trade from Africa to America and the piracy of American silver.” And then he goes on to quote Marx about the rosy dawn: “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.” This is a basic and irrefutable truth.

We hear in connection with all these notions of the great freedom and innovativeness of people in this country and how the freedom allows for this innovativeness—we hear a lot about the expression “American exceptionalism.” Now, when first hearing this term you might think...you might not recognize that there is actually a certain ironic twist to this. You might think: “Yeah, well, that makes sense, ‘American exceptionalism,’ we have this good democracy here and people have a lot of freedom, but of course there are some things that ran really contrary to that in the history of the country—like the genocide against the Indians and all the slavery and everything else. Yeah that makes sense, it’s an exception, it’s a democracy but it’s kind of an exception because it has all these negative features associated with it.” And then, lo and behold, you discover that’s not what it means—that American exceptionalism means America is exceptionally good, that even in comparison to all the other “capitalist democracies” in the world, there’s something special, the shining city on the hill, as Reagan, for example, invoked it. You know, this image that there’s something particularly and specially good about America and its people. And you have to think: what an irony. This is completely upside down. If anybody wants to talk about exception, it should be talked about in the way I was just referring to it—that here are some real negative things here that stand in sharp conflict to “our democracy” which we still haven’t yet overcome. But no, it means the opposite—we’re exceptionally good.

And think of the level of American chauvinism you have to have internalized not to vomit upon hearing that. Let’s look a little bit more at the actual founding cornerstones and the long shadow of slavery in this country along with the genocidal dispossession and rounding up into concentration camps called reservations of the native population, the original population.

The treatment of Black people in this country, the horrific oppression of Black people from the time of slavery down to today—if you want to talk about a special characteristic of America, that’s one of the most distinguishing. And that slavery has been built into the very foundation: it is a cornerstone of the entire society, and its shadow continues to cast itself over the entire society, the entire country and everything about it, right down to today. If you look at the founding documents of this country—for example, if you look at the Declaration of Independence—what are the indictments that are made against the King of England in declaring independence? Among them is the following: “He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.” Now, think about this. Here are people who repeatedly broke treaties with these very Native Americans, the original inhabitants, who never in fact kept a single treaty they made with them, who drove them repeatedly off the land—would grant them land but, “Oh, wait a minute, there’s gold there.” So they have to be uprooted again and put on these Trail of Tears marches where thousands died over and over and over again. And then, in turn, we hear these people described as “the merciless Indian Savages” whom the King of England is inciting against these settlers. This is one of the great crimes of the King of England according to the Declaration of Independence. Again, reality is turned completely on its head.

And then of course it goes on and talks about how the King of England has forced the slave trade upon the European settlers of this territory—as if somehow none of them, including Thomas Jefferson, wanted to have slaves. Never mind the fact that he engineered the Louisiana Purchase to greatly expand the territory that would be slave-based. Somehow supposedly the King of England is responsible for forcing slavery on people like Jefferson and these other founders.

Or look at the Constitution of the United States. Not only the infamous three-fifths clause which declared that the slaves were three-fifths human beings, to be counted as three-fifths for the purposes of taxation and representation; but even such things as the electoral college were in fact engineered in that way, established, and established in their particular forms, as concessions to the slave states. Recently in the New York Times, in a special supplement on the Constitution on July 2, 2017, Garry Wills went into how the Second Amendment itself was not about individuals owning arms—that’s not what was being... that was not the concern that was being addressed. It was, in particular, the right of the slave states to have militias to hunt down slaves and put down slave insurrections. So right there, again, in the very founding of this country’s basic documents, and in the way this has extended its shadow right down to today, the horrific oppression of the original inhabitants, and then of Black people—or of Black people along with that—it’s right at the core of what this country is about, from the beginning to today. The fact is that white supremacy and its continuation in different, but always horrific, forms has been built into the very foundation and structures, the social relations and the culture of this system in this country and is an indispensable part of its ongoing cohesion and functioning.

Now, in light of all this, you might think it’s a little ridiculous when people say something like: “Fascism couldn’t really happen here. We have all these institutional protections against it, and, once again, we are these exceptional people. So how could fascism happen here? It couldn’t happen here.” Oh no, it couldn’t happen here. Not in a country founded on slavery and genocide and steeped in white supremacy as well as male supremacy, manifest destiny and white man’s burden. Oh no, it couldn’t happen in a country like that. And it is important to point out about all these things—the white supremacy, the male supremacy, the American chauvinism, the manifest destiny, the white man’s burden—all of these have been, and remain, intertwined and mutually reinforcing.

If you turn to the book, for example, The Rebirth of a Nation by Jackson Lears—which focuses on the era when the U.S. really pushed itself out into the world as a colonial power, gobbling up the Philippines as well as Puerto Rico, Guam and Cuba, and entering onto the world stage on a level of thuggery previously unseen—he talks about how all this was bound up with a certain sense of male identity and male assertiveness, as well as white supremacy, in rather grotesque forms, unvarnished, the way we’re seeing it coming back now, unvarnished, under the Trump/Pence fascist regime. For example, he cites the woman, Rebecca Latimer Felton, who was the wife and campaign manager, not of a dog catcher, but of a U.S. Congressman, who said that one of the great problems in American society was that men were not providing adequate attention to “white women’s vulnerability to the Black rapists” who were supposedly roaming the rural South. “The fault, she declared, lay with southern white men. They had failed to put a ‘sheltering arm about innocence and virtue.’” She concluded that “if lynching was required ‘to protect women’s dearest possession from the ravening human beasts—then I say lynch, a thousand times a week, if necessary.’” The wife and campaign manager of a U.S. Congressman.

Or let’s look at another statement that shows the horrendous dimensions of this and the way in which all of this is intertwined. In particular, here is the male chauvinism, the patriarchy, the misogyny. Lears writes: “Behind all the economic calculations and all the lofty rhetoric about civilization and progress was a primal emotion—a yearning to reassert control, a masculine will to power.” In particular, this was speaking to the sense that the elite, the wealthy men, had become soft as a result of their riches. And so what was said was necessary to deal with that? War—this would be a masculinizing effect on these feminized wealthy effete men. This was the way that they could experience regeneration.

Or look at the following comment, speaking about the cult of courage and an urge to warfare: “Here,” Lears writes, “was the germ of the worship of force, the secular religion that underlay the regeneration of masculine will.”

And here’s something very interesting in light of the tactics and strategic approach of U.S. imperialism in invading and occupying countries these days. If you think back, for example, to the first Iraq invasion in 1991, Colin Powell said: “We’re not imperialists, we don’t invade countries in order to occupy them, we don’t engage in permanent occupation. We just democratize them and then leave them to the people to run themselves.” Well, this is a well-worn approach of the imperialists, which was being applied as far back as the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Lears speaks to this. He speaks to the approach that the American empire would depend only in part on formal acquisition of foreign colonies, which it did occupy, for example once again, the Philippines. “More commonly it would involve periodic military intervention (rather than permanent occupation) and support for governments friendly to American policies. This indirect approach [to colonialism, I’m adding] would make it easier for American imperialists to wrap themselves in exceptionalist rhetoric and claim moral superiority to their European counterparts.” Here we are again with American exceptionalism, ravishing and plundering colonialism with a particular twist that enables them to say: “Oh no, we’re not colonialists like those Europeans.”

And finally, from Lears he talks about how the resistance of the Philippine people to U.S. occupation was taken by the Americans, including the soldiers of the American imperium, was taken as an affront to white identity and to white being.

So you can see how all of this is all intertwined and mutually reinforcing. And then there’s something that should also be recognized, especially in light of the present situation. There is a direct line and deep connection between all this, and the way in which all this is intertwined and mutually reinforcing—a direct line and direct connection between all this and the virulent hatred and repressive actions directed today against the fight for the recognition of the humanity and the rights of LGBT people.

It is crucial that people be won, including through struggle waged well, to look squarely into the reality of what this system is built on and how it really works, and come to understand why the horrors it causes cannot be reformed away. Here I can only touch on the actual reality of what this system is, how it operates and why, and the terrible consequences of this for humanity. In the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, this is discussed more fully. In THE NEW COMMUNISM, the basic contradictions and dynamics of the system are dug into in some depth. And there is continual exposure and analysis fleshing out all of this on the website revcom.us. But to put this in kind of concentrated way, and what is the actual history and foundation and reality of this country, let’s look at BAsics 1, 2, 3, and 4, beginning with BAsics 1:

There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.

Now, of course, slavery was not the only factor that played a significant part in the emergence of the U.S. as a world power, whose economic strength underlies its massive military force. A major historical factor in all this was the theft of land, on a massive scale, from Mexico as well as from native peoples. But, in turn, much of that conquest of land was, for a long period of time up until the Civil War, largely to expand the slave system. “Remember the Alamo,” we are always reminded. Well, many of the “heroes” of the Alamo were slave traders and slave chasers....And expanding the slave system was a major aim of the overall war with Mexico, although that war also led to the westward expansion of the developing capitalist system centered in the northern United States.

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.

Not only did slavery play a major role in the historical development of the U.S., but the wealth and power of the U.S. rests today on a worldwide system of imperialist exploitation that ensnares hundreds of millions, and ultimately billions, of people in conditions hardly better than those of slaves. Now, if this seems like an extreme or extravagant claim, think about the tens of millions of children throughout the Third World who, from a very, very early age, are working nearly every day of the year—as the slaves on the southern plantations in the United States used to say, “from can’t see in the morning, till can’t see at night”—until they’ve been physically used up....These are conditions very similar to outright slavery....This includes overt sexual harassment of women, and many other degradations as well. All this is the foundation on which the imperialist system rests, with U.S. imperialism now sitting atop it all.

 

Now again, this might sound like exaggerated or extreme descriptions. But in fact, it is an accurate description of the reality of today and the whole historical development leading up to it, in terms of this country and its role in the world. As I said elsewhere, many examples have been given to bring to life more fully the reality of this, and much analysis has been made of how and why this system cannot operate on any other basis than this. For example, in the book, THE NEW COMMUNISM. But, as a shorthand way of saying this, it can simply be stated that there is not a single thing that finds its way into the consumption markets of the U.S. and similar countries which has not gone through, in its chain of production, horrific forms—the most vicious exploitation and oppression—in far flung parts of the world, in particular, the Third World. Not a thing.

We can go to another statement by Marx: “Capitalism came into the world with blood dripping from every pore.” And it has maintained itself down to the present day, on an even greater scale, on exactly the same basis. This country and this system is most emphatically not a force for good in the world, but on the contrary the greatest cause of unnecessary suffering for the masses of humanity.

Now, let’s look at another one of the narratives they like to run out to talk about the great nature of this country and of this system of capitalism—job creation. “The capitalists are not exploiting people, they’re creating jobs. If they go to Indonesia or Guatemala or Haiti or Pakistan or Bangladesh or India and have children, or even adults, working for less than a dollar a day—why that’s better than the alternative. If it weren’t for these capitalists going there, these people wouldn’t have a way to have a livelihood at all. So, yes, maybe the conditions are not as good as you and I might like them to be, but they’re much better than they would be otherwise.” This is a typical rationalization, it’s one of the most disgusting rationalizations. And it’s a complete tautology. It amounts to saying: Under the system of capitalist-imperialism, the choices people have range from bad to worse. And it’s a complete lie. If you step away and out of the confines of the self-contained logic of the capitalist system, think about it: The raw materials are there, the people are there—that’s what you need to develop an economy. The question is, on what terms and through which means are you developing that economy with those people and those raw materials?

Once again we’re back to the question that I focused on centrally in THE NEW COMMUNISM: through which mode of production are things done? Capitalism is not the only way, and is certainly far from the best way, to “create jobs” and for people to have meaningful employment. It is possible to have a radically different economic system, the system of socialism, in which people’s work is not exploited for the benefit of cut-throat competing capitalists who are now cut-throat competing capitalists on a world scale, who immediately, as soon as they find it not profitable enough, stop creating those jobs in this country and go to another country where they create jobs, until they find another country where they can go and more ruthlessly exploit people. The people are there. That is the most important thing. And with the people it is possible now to have a radically different economic and social system which is not built on exploitation and oppression—which, in fact, moves to do away with every form of exploitation and oppression—the socialist system moving toward communism on a world scale, at which point all exploitation and oppression will have been eliminated.

So again, the question is: what’s the economic system underlying all this? Or, once again, through which mode of production are things done? Through an exploitative and oppressive system, or one which is moving to eliminate exploitation and oppression and unlocking and unleashing all the human potential in that direction and for that purpose?

Now, I’ve talked elsewhere and emphasized the anarchic workings of this system. Once more, let’s go back to Marx, who said about the system of capitalism: Its total disorder is its order. This is speaking to the anarchy of these different capitalists who, because of the internal nature, contradictions and dynamics of their own system—which, once again, is gone into in THE NEW COMMUNISM—but because of its very internal nature, its very intrinsic nature, its very internal contradictions and dynamics, is a system that rests on ruthless exploitation and ruthless competition between different units and aggregations of capital, competing intensely with each other today on a world scale and in a highly globalized way.

The point, the brutal reality...we hear, for example, all this from these high-tech billionaires and so on, talking about “epic fails” and the “creative destruction” of the way in which they come in and completely undermine the way things have been done and bring in new ways of doing things. And this is upheld as a great phenomenon in the world, this creative destruction. Even where you fail, you learn how to succeed at creating more creative destruction—in other words, more exploitation. And again, the brutal reality is that this disorder, this creative destruction, causes tremendous suffering on a world scale of people and of the environment, which this system and its internal dynamics have brought to the point where the very future and existence of humanity is seriously threatened. And then, on top of all that, there is a massive destruction brought about by the wars, the coups, and other bloody actions which are carried out in every part of the world to enforce this system’s oppressive rule.

The military of this country is not a body of heroes who should be thanked for their service, but a machinery of perpetual war crimes and crimes against humanity, repeatedly carrying out slaughter and destruction on a mass scale in the service of a system literally built on blood and bones. Once again, this may seem like an exaggeration or an extravagant claim, but look at the wars that have actually been carried out by this military, in the present day in the Middle East, and the horrific results of their invasions and occupations and everything this set loose. Or Vietnam. Or the coups they pulled off from Iran to Guatemala to Indonesia to Chile, which have cost the lives of literally more than a million people—just those coups and their consequences. This is no exaggeration. This is the reality that people have to be brought to confront.

And as for people who should be appreciated, those from this military who should be supported are those who have broken with it, especially those who have come over to the side of opposition to these crimes and the system this military enforces with its depraved violence and massive destruction. And depraved violence is a very apt description. You can go back to Vietnam, not only the massive bombing with chemical weapons—Agent Orange, napalm which literally sets fire to people’s flesh—but the My Lai massacre, which was not an aberration or an exception or a one-time deviation, but a repeated pattern by the U.S. military in Vietnam. The soldiers who became so degraded that they cut off the ears of the people they slaughtered and carried them around as trophies. This is the reality of those that the rulers of this country want people to celebrate as heroes. Because this is the nature of the military that these people are serving in and its role in the world.

Now, along with everything already spoken to in terms of the actual history of this country, as well as its role in the world right up to the present, the theory of government and the founding documents of this country—as articulated, for example in the Declaration of Independence—this theory of government is in fundamental conflict with reality. Let’s look at one of the most oft-quoted statements from the Declaration of Independence. And often you’ll hear people celebrating democracy who will quote this opening of the Declaration of Independence right after “When in the course of human events” and so on (I guess people still memorize this in school on some occasions), there’s this famous passage:

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men... [Nota Bene, as they say: all men are created equal, note well] all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.

Now, I have to say there should be a certain prize given here, because it’s hard to conceive of packing more bullshit into such a small number of sentences. First of all, leave aside the part about “endowed by their creator.” Let’s leave aside the fact that there is no creator, there is no god, nobody is endowed with anything by a non-existent being. That’s the first point. But let’s leave that aside. Let’s move on to the core of this—that to secure these rights (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness)... by the way notice that in the Constitution “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is replaced with life, liberty and property, including that the slaves were property. But anyway, to secure these rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness “governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the Consent of the Governed.” Well, this completely flies in the face of the actual history of human beings. Human beings who evolved and lived in early communal societies were not marked by all the features of the kind of society that’s spoken to in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. They did not have the kind of oppressive class divisions within their own small societies that are taken for granted in the world today by the defenders of this system and those who don’t know better, even if they should. And the evolution of human beings from there to the present time did not take place through gatherings of the people to institute governments among them which derived their just powers from those who gathered together to create these governments.

Think back to the statement by Marx, describing the “rosy dawn” and what the primitive accumulation of capitalism rests on. The inhabitants, the original inhabitants, of the mines of Potosi in Latin America, who were literally worked to death in the mines— passing their flesh literally into the structures there—they were not governed by an association of people that had come together to choose this. The slaves who were hunted down in Africa... Yes, there was slavery in Africa—we have to speak to what’s raised by all these fascists and others—yes, there was slavery in Africa; yes, there was slavery among the original inhabitants of the Americas. But it was on a very small scale, part of the fabric of those societies. When slavery and genocide became tethered to the machinery and fed into the maws, the jaws of capitalist accumulation and exploitation, it became a whole other thing on a whole other horrendous level, involving and killing millions of people and grinding millions more to an early death. Those people did not come together and choose a government that derived its “just powers” from their decisions.

In the feudal societies of Europe and Japan and China, the serfs did not come together with the nobles and hold a conclave and decide upon the government of their choosing whose “just powers” derived from their decision and their consent.

Oftentimes, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, people did things out of necessity which led to great changes which they themselves did not anticipate and might not even have wanted. Now, I spoke in another work about people in Mexico, for example, thousands of years ago, who lived by hunting and gathering, and then by their own activity, used up many of the resources that they were depending upon, and also due to changes in the natural environment, they were forced to leave the area they were hunting and gathering in, and they went and settled by a river and began to carry out settled agriculture. This is just one of many examples of how this has happened repeatedly throughout the world. And then class differences of a very oppressive nature began to develop among them because of the new situation they were in. Some people were more favorably situated near a river—on more arable land, for a combination of factors—so polarization developed among them. It wasn’t that they sat down together and said: “Let us develop a society in which there’s polarization among us, in which some will thrive and others will suffer and in which those who thrive will exploit those who suffer so they will suffer more—this is what we choose to do as a way to be governed. And of course that government that we established for these purposes will derive its ‘just powers’ from our consent.” This is absolute nonsense. It completely flies in the face of reality. And it has nothing to do with the reality of the United States of America when it broke from England and established a different new country. The slaves were not part of any conclave, nor were the original inhabitants, the so-called Indians—they were not part of any conclave to establish a government deriving its “just powers” from their consent. The character of this society, the class divisions, the social relations in this society were not decided by people sitting down and having a meeting to discuss: “Okay, some people are going to be farmers, and some are going to be rich farmers and some are going to be poor farmers, and some are going to be indentured servants to these other people, and some are going to be slaves, and some are going to be dispossessed of everything they own, and during the course of the Civil War we’re going to start a westward expansion 90 years from now, but let’s plan it now. Ninety years from now we’re going to start a westward expansion to drive the remaining original inhabitants off their land, killing them in the process, suppressing them through warfare. And we’ll bring a bunch of Chinese in, force them to work on building the railroads so we can expand all the way to....” What kind of nonsense is this?! It has nothing to do with how the country was founded, how it developed, and what role it has played in the world right down to today.

These things arise out of the conflict between the necessity that people face and the means they devise to try to transform that necessity through a series of different societies, which are fundamentally founded on the relations that people—in the face of that necessity, and in the face of what they’ve inherited from previous generations—the relations they enter into to meet their material requirements of life, and the superstructure that arises on the basis of this—political institutions, political processes, ideology and culture—which serves those underlying economic relations which are not static and forever but continually change with changes in conditions, including the new productive forces that are brought forward through this process. This is how society has developed from the earliest emergence of human beings down to the present. And the important thing is that it was not predetermined to do so but it has come to a point where there are now the actual material conditions to do away with all these oppressive divisions and exploitative relations among human beings of every kind.

Besides what I’ve spoken to here, this is gone into in greater depth in Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, Part 1. And there is also a very good concentrated discussion of the basic principles that I’m discussing here in Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, Part 1, particularly in the section “How Does Human Society Actually Develop?”

The truth really does matter, and it is very important to insist on and struggle fiercely for the critical importance of actually following the truth wherever it leads—as opposed to the longing, all-too-common among liberals and “progressives”: “Please, can we put an end to these lies from Trump that make me uncomfortable and get back to the lies about this country that make me comfortable.” In the “Democracy” book, (Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?) I wrote: “[I]n all bourgeois democratic countries—and this is no exaggeration—from the very earliest age, through the educational system, the mass media and in other ways, the people are systematically misinformed and lied to about every significant question of current political and world affairs and of world history, and are systematically indoctrinated and imbued with an upside-down world view and errant methodology.” (That’s on page 190, for those who want to look at it.) This is obviously a very provocative statement, and it is as true as it is provocative. In fact, it is so provocative precisely because it is so profoundly true. That is, it seems outrageous precisely because people have been so systematically misinformed and misled.

I’ve already touched on some glaring examples of this, speaking to the actual history of this country and its role in the world. Some others will be spoken to through the course of this talk, and many, many other examples could be cited, including the lies and distortions by the dominant institutions and representatives of this system about the wars waged by this country, about socialism and the overthrow of socialism in the Soviet Union and China, the Great Depression of the 1930s and how it was ended, World War 2 and how and why the U.S. emerged as the most powerful imperialist country after that war, what the situation is with Korea and why, what the ’60s was really about, the character and role of imperialist heads of state who are presented as great leaders like Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Churchill, and on and on and on.

While it is right and necessary to unite with people broadly in opposing the injustices and outrages committed by those who rule this country, and while this has taken on heightened importance with the coming to power of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, it is a basic truth that without breaking with American chauvinism—without confronting the very real horror of what this country has been, and what it has done, here and all over the world, from its founding to the present—and without coming to deeply hate this, it is not possible, in the final analysis, to retain one’s own humanity and act in the highest interests of all humanity.

Before moving to Point 2, I just want to make a clarification. In the Declaration of Independence, along with the point about inciting the slaves to carry out domestic insurrection against the slave owners and inciting the “Indian Savages” to make warfare against them (the colonists), the point about the King of England forcing slavery on the colonies was actually, I believe, in Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence but for whatever reasons did not make it into the final version. But nonetheless you can see Jefferson’s thinking there.

 

 

Part 2. The Decisive Importance of MethodScientific Method—in Understanding and Changing the World

First, we need to speak to the glaring lack of materialism that is so widespread and common in regards to what this system is, how it actually functions, why it functions as it does, and what the consequences and implications of this are. Here, again, we can refer back, for example, to the point I made earlier about the narrative of “job creation”—as opposed to the reality of ruthless exploitation. But this lack of materialism is, in fact, extremely glaring. This is what you find, instead of people basing themselves on the critical breakthrough that Marx made in establishing what is the foundation and what are the dynamics of human society in general, what are the fundamental dynamics—the relations between what the forces of production are at hand and therefore correspondingly how people enter into economic relations in order to utilize those productive forces, and on that basis, the superstructure that arises of politics, ideology and culture, and the back and forth, the dialectical relation between and contradictions and relations within, the economic system, between the forces and relations of production, and how those are constantly moving and changing, and in terms of the contradictions between the economic system and the superstructure of politics and ideology that develops on the foundation of this economic system and, in turn, reacts back upon it in certain ways.

This breakthrough has been there for the taking for more than 150 years, and it was systematized in Marx’s major work Capital more than 100 years ago, nearly 150 years again. And yet people, including those who consider themselves scholars of society, constantly turn away from this—reject it, distort it, deny it, or in one form or another try to ignore this fundamental breakthrough—ignore and often oppose this fundamental breakthrough. Instead, what do we get for explanations about society, both in academic circles and out more broadly among the “common people?” Things that focus on the superstructure as the decisive element—theories of “human nature” which supposedly explain why things happen the way they do, emphasis on the political processes, elections and different demographic analyses in terms of how they pertain to and influence elections—all these kind of things which are secondary and can only be correctly understood on the basis of a materialist approach to and a materialist method of proceeding from an understanding of what underlies all these politics, what underlies all these ideas and the culture that circulates in society and predominates in society. Why did Marx say, so very correctly and importantly: The entire history of humanity is the history of the transformation of human nature? Did that mean that the way human nature got transformed was that people fought with each other about what their nature should be? Well, yes, they did do that. But what was more fundamental, underlying and decisive in that? Not the sole factor, but the more underlying, fundamental and decisive factor was: what was going on underneath all of that in the economic base of society?

Here, again, you run into other tautologies. “People are just naturally selfish”—which is another... Marx and Engels point out in the Communist Manifesto that this kind of thinking is just a tautology, that as long as you have capitalism you will have the ideas of capitalism predominating, including the idea that everybody should be out for themselves against everybody else, which corresponds to the commodity relations of a capitalist society where everything is increasingly turned into a commodity. The continuous transformation of human nature proceeds through the changes that occur in the base of society and the corresponding struggle that this gives rise to in the realm of ideas and politics, and so on. So we have, once again, an upside down approach which leads you always into a dead end. You can never understand such basic things as: If you have a society based on exploiting people, you’re gonna have a lot of fucking selfish people, OK? If you have a society in which white supremacy is built into its structures, you’re gonna have a lot of white supremacists.

But see, a sort of basic understanding like that is either neglected or outright attacked and replaced with all these theories that are just going around in a circle, never getting to the underlying basis of why things are the way they are and why they change. Why don’t we have slavery anymore? Is it simply because people developed ideas that slavery was wrong and fought against it? Yes, they did. But that, in turn, while not being reducible to, was fundamentally grounded in changes that were taking place in the economy and the rising conflict and antagonism between a different kind of economic system—capitalism, which was developing particularly in the North—and the slave system, which was seeking to preserve itself and even to expand, centered fundamentally in the South. And not reducible to, but on the basis of that increasing conflict between these different economic systems, these different modes of production, different ideas not only arose but were able to attract masses of people to them.

People could have all kinds of ideas in any kind of epoch, but if there’s not a basis in the underlying foundation of society and its economic dynamics, and in the social relations that are emerging and in the changes that are occurring in the underlying basis of society, then those ideas will not be able to attract a mass following. People thousands of years ago could have the idea that it would be nice if nobody mistreated anybody else, but as long as they didn’t have the basis for an economic system which made that possible, they could not have a society like that. They could not institute those kinds of social relations. It wasn’t a matter of people coming together in a vacuum and cooking up ideas about what kind of society they wanted and then proceeding to implement it. This basic dialectical materialist understanding—dialectical because it doesn’t just deal with the underlying material system, the mode of production, and it doesn’t deal with that as static and unchanging, but deals with the contradictions and motion and development within that economic system, within the superstructure of politics and ideology that arises on that basis, and between that underlying economic system and the superstructure of politics and ideology. And the dialectics of this are that changes are brought about, of any real consequence in society, through what occurs in the superstructure, through the formulation of political ideas and theories and ideologies and through the struggle over different programs, and ultimately, when a revolutionary crisis comes about, then the possibility opens of a radical transformation in society, taking place in a concentrated way in the superstructure, in the struggle over who will rule society and what kind of system will they be able to implement—not out of their abstract reckoning in their heads but in relation, once again, to what are the underlying economic and social relations and the dynamics and changes within that.

So the foundation is the underlying economic system, and it’s in the superstructure where this gets battled out and where the changes get fought out. And the superstructure is a very dynamic sphere; the realm of political struggle, the realm of culture, the realm of ideas is not one-to-one a mere passive reflection of what the underlying economic system is, but it’s full of contradiction and struggle. People who perceive, like Marx did, the contradictions and analyze deeply and scientifically the contradictions in the underlying economic system, were able to recognize the possibility of transformation to a radically different economic system and therefore to formulate the theories and ideas that would lead to that, that would lead to that process of struggle, that could make that possible. This is why Marx said that the sense of the permanence of the existing conditions breaks down in theory before it is actually broken down in practice. Or, as we emphasize, this is why theory can and often does run ahead of practice. Theory has its ultimate point of origin and point of verification in practice, in the actual material world—that’s where ideas arise out of, and that’s where they’re proven ultimately to be true or not true and to find a basis or not find a basis among people. But in that overall process, people can perceive—out of reflecting on the contradictions and motion and development of the underlying relations, they can perceive changes before those changes are actually brought about. If that weren’t so, there could never be any radical change in society.

So this is all very important to understand. What are the actual relations here? If you want to understand why people treat people the way they do, you have to look fundamentally to the underlying economic system, and the social relations that correspond to that, and then the ideas that arise on that basis and the contradictions and motion within all that. That’s the way you understand it. Otherwise, you’ll go around in a circle. “White people are racist.” “Men are chauvinist.” Well, overwhelmingly in a society like this, if you’re looking at the broad population, that’s true—but why is it true? And why are there not very many advocates—although we see some cropping up again now with the Trump phenomenon and his supporters—but why are there not very many advocates of slavery? Other than things like sexual slavery and the trafficking of women and girls today. But why are there not advocates for: Let’s restore the whole slave system? Because that’s completely out of line with the underlying economic system and the way that system operates in the world today. So people may have those ideas, but it’s hard for them to get a hearing on a mass scale or exert significance influence—not simply on the basis of different moralities, but what underlies and gives rise to those moralities, the changes in the economic relations and the social relations. And without understanding this, you could never really see the possibility of changes in both circumstances (that is, the system) and in people—and of the way those can be fought for. So we need, as opposed to this anti-, not just non, but anti-materialist approach, we need dialectical and historical materialism and a correct understanding of the dynamic contradictory relationships within the economic base, within the superstructure, and between the economic base and the superstructure.

Now, let’s look here: I thought it might be worthwhile looking at what might seem like an unusual but actually an important example of applying dialectical and historical materialism—the phenomenon of gangs in the U.S., but not only in the U.S., throughout much of Latin America and the Caribbean. Now, there’s a book called Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America by Ioan Grillo, which is about the Caribbean and Latin America. And it’s very striking. He makes the following statement early in this book: “When you tally up the total body count the numbers are staggering. Between the dawn of the new millennium [in other words at the turn of the century, 2000] and 2010, more than a million people across Latin America and the Caribbean were murdered.” Now even if we think this is somewhat... he does cite sources for this... but even if we think this is somewhat exaggerated, even if it’s anything close to that, think of the implications of that. Think what that reflects. And he goes on to say that it’s a cocaine-fueled holocaust, a cocaine-fueled holocaust. In other words, most of these are—not literally every murder, obviously, there are “crimes of passion” and other murders—but on this kind of scale, the largest contributing factor is the drug phenomenon and the wars associated within the gangs who are part of all this. And if you look at the U.S. itself, Tom Hayden made the analysis a little while ago that, in the decades since the 1970s, tens of thousands of people have died from gang battles in the United States itself. So think about this. A million people in Latin America and the Caribbean, or something on that order, and tens of thousands within the U.S.

Now how do we understand this? Is it because the people doing this are just by nature, their human nature, depraved? Or is there something else going on here that is much more fundamental? In the book I cited earlier, Preaching From a Pulpit of Bones, in speaking to Jim Wallis and refuting his arguments about how you could have a good society based on principles of Christian charity and so on, I analyzed one of the examples he gives of how problems in society can be remedied. He talks about how in Brazil, back in the 1980s, there were a number of peasants who were about ready to be driven off their land, and the women among the peasants contacted the wives of the senators in Brazil and persuaded them to put a stop to this particular dispossession. He holds this up as a model of how justice can be brought in society and changes for the people’s good. And I did a little research and I discovered, not to my surprise frankly, that in the same period he’s talking about, 15 million people in the countryside of Brazil had been dispossessed. That was the overwhelming phenomenon. And the land holdings in Brazil were highly concentrated in large land holdings among a very small percentage of the rural population. And what happened to those 15 million people and their descendants over several generations? Did they evaporate? No. They went into the favelas, the urban slums of Brazil, in conditions where they were not integrated into the economy in an articulated way where they got regular employment even under highly exploitative conditions. Many of them had to engage in various forms of self-employment in the informal economy, including crime, which became one of the more lucrative means of accumulating wealth or at least making a living.

We’ve seen the same phenomenon in the U.S. People from the... Black people, in particular, came from the South after World War 2, worked in factories to a large degree, and other occupations, many of which were closed down or the jobs were replaced by machines. After a couple of generations, many of the youth faced massive unemployment rates. And what did they turn to? Crime and the gang structure in large numbers—not all of them obviously. And you look throughout, not just Brazil, but Latin America and the Caribbean, you have this phenomena of people who several generations ago were peasants in the countryside who were driven off and could no longer live that way, as oppressive and exploitative as that was. They came into the cities, but also could not be integrated into the regular formal economy, and the youth in particular turned to means other than menial employment, such as it was, for making their way through the world and trying to get some kind of existence that was meaningful to them. On the basis of this, and also on the basis that drug production became one of the highly lucrative means of agricultural production, if you will—the raising of cocaine and then the processing of it—you’ve got people drawn into these gangs which then developed into major structures and enterprises which in Latin America are frequently called, and do have some of the characteristics of, cartels. Why did this happen? If you roll the process back 50 years ago, these youth were not into that. It’s not because of some depraved character of their human nature. It’s because of the conditions into which they were thrust and the options that were presented to them, and which were not presented to them.

I mean, in the same book, Preaching From A Pulpit of Bones, I spoke about William Bennett and his pontificating about virtues, and this whole notion of personal responsibility and the choices that people make. And I said: Why is it that the choices for people like Bennett and the class he represents, with their multi-thousand dollar a plate dinners, why is it that their choices are whether to wage war here or there, or whether to close down factories here and move them there, whereas for middle class people in this country it might be how much to go into debt to try to put your kids through college, while for poor people it’s can you get a job or not, and for a girl in Thailand, as young as nine, it’s either be miserably, viciously exploited in some sort of factory or being chained down as a prostitute. Why are those the choices? Is it because of human nature, or is it because of the system and the relations that are embodied in that system and the dynamics of that system?

So you have this phenomenon of gangs now on a major scale. And it’s interesting to think about how in a certain way—not in every detail or every aspect, but in a certain way—this parallels the phenomenon of Islamic fundamentalism in the parts of the world where Islam has been the dominant religion. Much of the process has actually been the same. Peasants driven out of the countryside, driven into this “planet of slums,” as Mike Davis called it, where up to a billion people live in these massive slums around the core cities of these countries throughout the Third World. They’re uprooted from the traditional relations and then drawn to, in the case of Islamic fundamentalism, attempts to restore, with a vengeance and through barbaric means, those traditional relations—which are being undermined but not transformed in any thoroughgoing way by the dynamics of what imperialism, in conjunction with the dynamics of the particular country, has wrought, has brought forward, has caught people up in. And it’s interesting, you see that some of these leaders of some of these Islamic fundamentalist forces, or people who have become their foot soldiers, were actually people who were into crime, went to jail, and got proselytized by these fundamentalists.

But again, we need to be materialists, but not mechanical materialists, not determinists who think that whatever people’s conditions are in their main aspect is all that there is to their conditions, and whatever their conditions are will automatically produce a certain result in terms of how they act. That’s a kind of mechanical materialism and determinism that we also have to fight against. Because we have to understand the dynamic role of contradiction. There are very acute and profound contradictions in the conditions of all these masses. There is, on the one hand, the pull that I’ve described owing to their conditions, but there’s also the oppression they suffer, the poverty that’s enforced on them, the misery that they are subjected to by the workings of this system, and there are the corresponding ideas of longing for a different and better world that are often suppressed and suffocated to a significant degree once again by the workings of the system, both its underlying workings and the conscious policy and actions of those who rule in society, who dominate the superstructure of political rule and ideology and culture.

So the contradictions of the masses caught up in these situations—whether you’re talking about the favelas and slums of the Caribbean and Latin America, whether you’re talking about the slums and barrios, for example, in the United States where people, many peasants or people from other strata from Mexico and Latin America, come to this country and basically the same phenomenon occurs as occurred to Black people migrating from the South, the first generation maybe finding some kind of menial and super-exploited exploitation, but the youth, many of them don’t feel like going through that, so they turn to this other way of life based on gang structure and crime and so on, not all of them, obviously, but significant numbers. But there’s also the highly oppressive conditions that people are in and the highly repressive situation in which, because of their conditions, the system and its enforcers—the police and all the rest of that apparatus of repression, the courts and the judges, and so on—are constantly subjecting them to all kinds of horrors: outright murder and brutality, mass incarceration, and on and on.

This is the contradictory character of the conditions of these masses and what it gives rise to spontaneously, but also the basis it provides for struggling with people to take a different road, a road of emancipation. That will not happen by spontaneity, and given the pulls that I’ve been describing—the very powerful pulls—this is not going to happen without a great deal of struggle. But the point is that the contradictions are real, and the side of people that aspires to, or can be drawn toward, something actually emancipating, as opposed to enslaving in one form or another, is very real. Without dialectical materialism and historical materialism, you can’t even recognize this, let alone act on it. But with it, you can. And that’s what’s so crucial. So we have to have a correct understanding of the contradictory nature of all this, the contradictory nature of people’s thinking and ideas and the contradictory nature of the economic and social relations that they’re caught up in—which, in an ultimate and fundamental sense, give rise to these contradictory ideas and tendencies and aspirations among them. And we have to work to transform this through a great deal of struggle—and not by any tailing of spontaneity—into a revolutionary force based on the understanding of the possibility, and the inspiration on that real foundation, of the whole prospect and reality of the struggle to emancipate all of humanity.

And within this, without falling into the notion, which I have been criticizing, of turning things upside down and thinking that ideas somehow arise completely independently of the underlying relations in society and thinking that the struggle is merely a struggle in the realm of ideas, at the same time we have to recognize the very powerful role of ideology. People in the same conditions can be drawn to very different programs because of the struggle in the realm of ideas if, again, those ideas have some relation to the underlying reality, not just as it is in a static and unchanging sense, but as it is full of contradiction, struggle and motion. And the ideology of communism, and its further development in the new communism, can be a very powerful force attracting people as the liberatory, emancipating path out of the conditions, the contradictory conditions in which they are caught up. This is something we really have to powerfully recognize. And our ideas, in order to play this role, in order to be a powerful force, have to be in accord with an actual scientific understanding of reality and constantly struggling to further develop and refine that understanding, including because life is constantly changing. But if, in fact, they are based on that scientific approach to the correct relation of things in society—the correct relation between the underlying conditions and the realm of politics and thinking and culture—if they more and more reflect a correct understanding of that, they can be a very powerful pole attracting people toward the only resolution of the contradictions they are caught up in that is fundamentally in their own interests and in the interests of humanity as a whole.

So with that I want to move to part 3.

 

 

Part 3: The Solution, the Necessity, the Possibility and the Desirability of Revolution Grounded in The New Communism

I want to start by reading the 5 Stops, which repeatedly appear in our newspaper, Revolution, and on the website revcom.us, for good reason:

      STOP Genocidal Persecution, Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder of Black and Brown People!

      STOP The Patriarchal Degradation, Dehumanization, and Subjugation of All Women Everywhere, and All Oppression Based on Gender or Sexual Orientation!

      STOP Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!

      STOP The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!

      STOP Capitalism-Imperialism from Destroying Our Planet!

Now, these are, on the one hand, contradictions. They are descriptions of major social contradictions and conditions of masses of people and ultimately conditions affecting all of humanity. Now, we’ve made the very important statement that these are contradictions that cannot be resolved under the present system of capitalism-imperialism—they cannot be resolved in any way that would be in the interests of the masses of people and ultimately all of humanity. And therefore this is a compelling reason and a fundamental reason why we need the kind of revolution we’re talking about to uproot this system, to break its hold over society and humanity and to bring into being a new system based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, a new system of socialism that is part of the worldwide struggle, and works to develop and promote and support that worldwide struggle, ultimately for communism in the world.

Now, for those who want to oppose us, for those who want to say it is not necessary to have that kind of revolution, they have to argue that the things that are encapsulated and concentrated in these 5 Stops are not important, that they aren’t really significant problems. Let them argue that. Or they have to argue: “Well, yes, these are big problems, obviously—only a fool or worse would deny that—but they can all be solved under the present system.” In which case: let’s hear the argument. But it is completely irresponsible either to ignore what’s concentrated in these 5 Stops or to fail to engage the question—if you do recognize how significant they are—to fail to engage the question of whether or not they can actually be resolved under this system or whether it requires a revolution and a radically different system to solve these problems.

We have not come to this position of revolution lightly. We’ve come to it out of a scientific analysis that identifies these major social contradictions—which didn’t just pop out of nowhere, but have been integral parts of the capitalist-imperialist system and have further become accentuated in the present period—a scientific analysis of the magnitude of those contradictions, of those horrors, really, and the scientific analysis that it requires the kind of revolution we’re talking about to deal with those in a way that would be in the interests of the masses of people, not just here but throughout the world, and ultimately in the interests of all of humanity.

So there are these 5 Stops which concentrate these major contradictions of this system, which are unresolvable and are real horrors. And there’s the reality, which I’ve spoken to here—and which, again, for example, on revcom.us is gone into from many different angles and utilizing many different examples—a world of massive poverty, oppression, exploitation, despoliation of the environment and unnecessary suffering for humanity on a massive scale. This is the world that we actually live in. This is the world we’re actually confronted with. And there is an actual answer to this, a scientifically grounded answer.

So, for all the reasons touched on here and gone into in more depth in THE NEW COMMUNISM, the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, and other works, including a great deal of material available through revcom.us, it is clear that this system cannot be reformed, cannot be made to function in the interests of the vast majority of humanity, because of the very basic contradictions and dynamics of this system. And once again, we’re back to the basic point: The fundamental contradictions and dynamics of this system, and what this gives rise to in order to perpetuate this, is not something which is incidental or accidental, but something which is rooted in the very nature of the system itself. Here, I refer people, again, to THE NEW COMMUNISM, in particular Part I, the discussion of “Through Which Mode of Production,” and “The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism”; and Part II, the discussion of “The 4 Alls.”

Now, in terms of the possibility of revolution, one big reason people have a hard time seeing this possibility is the inability or difficulty in seeing beyond the permanent necessity of existing conditions or the positive potential of upheaval and sudden dramatic change—a fear of that, rather than a recognition of the possibilities it opens.

I was thinking here of an analogy to the question of evolution in the natural world. Leaving aside the Christian Fascists who are determined to resist science and to promote an anti-scientific approach to the world, many regular people—especially those who haven’t been exposed to and had the chance to learn about the actual scientific explanation of evolution—many ordinary people have a hard time with understanding or accepting evolution, not only because of the influences of reactionary forces like the Christian Fascist fanatics, and so on, but also as part of this, because they have difficulty in actually conceiving of things not in terms of a few years, a few decades, a few centuries, or at most a few millennia, maybe two or three thousand years, but conceiving of things in terms of millions and billions of years, which is how long life has existed, in one form or another, on this planet. If you can’t theoretically conceive of such a vast span of time, then the question of how all these diverse forms could evolve on the earth seems at best perplexing and at worst sort of like impossible. How could all these diverse things...if you’re thinking of how it had to evolve in 25 years instead of 3.5 billion years...I mean people can’t even think about a billion years. So a lot of regular people—I’m making an analogy—a lot of regular people have a hard time conceiving of things in those terms, besides the fact that they’re indoctrinated, once again, with an upside down world view and an errant methodology. This thing about: “Oh, you don’t believe in god. Well, who woke you up this morning?” Well, my alarm clock. But anyway, the whole point of material reality—you know, that you don’t need a god to explain these things which are explainable by scientific means; or if they’re not yet explainable by scientific means, through scientific means the recognition can be achieved of how you would move toward explaining them or what the contradictions are that lie in the way of explaining them. Rather than it all being mysterious and you have to invoke some sort of supernatural force for the simplest of things, like how do you talk or how do you get up in the morning.

So I’m making an analogy here. Besides the importance of that point in its own right. I’m making an analogy to why people have a difficult time—one of the significant reasons, I should say, why they have a difficult time—imagining the possibility of revolution, is because they can’t imagine a radically different situation in which all the things that normally hold, and hold down people, are beginning to fray and tear apart and even break apart. Even the normal functioning of the system—though people are getting a sense of some of that now with this president, this Trump guy, who tweets out things calling somebody in the Congress a sleaze ball or calls him sleazy Congressman so and so. I mean these are not the normal ways that the ruling class has conducted its affairs. And you have Pence always leering behind Trump, looking, as someone said, like one of those child molester priests—leering behind Trump. This is a different way, so this begins to get people to... it shakes people up, begins to cause them to think about... you know, a lot of them, their spontaneous reaction is they want to go back to the norms that they’re used to. But what if all those norms are breaking down on a whole other level, both because of the struggle that’s been called forth in society and because of the way that at the top the rulers of the society are attempting to resolve these things and this is intensifying the conflicts among them as well as the conflicts they have with the masses of people? So, if you can break out of this framework and this blindfold of only things ... once again, the tautological thinking, the round-in-a-circle thinking, that: “Well, you can’t do that because that’s not the way things are done.”

Now, with all of his problems, there were some positive qualities definitely to Eldridge Cleaver, and I remember when, way back in the day, he was being interviewed on PBS, I believe, by one of those bourgeois wise men, David Susskind, and he began to run down the 10-point platform and program, Eldridge did, of the Black Panther Party. And he got only a little ways into it and David Susskind says, “But you can’t do that kind of thing in this society.” And Eldridge immediately responded: “You can’t do that kind of thing in this society—that’s why we need a radically different society.” See, this is the thinking that people have to be liberated into, breaking out of the confines of the self-contained logic that this is the way things are done, so therefore what you’re saying can’t be done because it’s not how things are done. That’s exactly the point—it’s not how things are done. And we have to wage that struggle in the realm of thinking, in the realm of ideology. At the same time, we have to develop the struggle of the people which contributes to people breaking out of that, on the one hand, and also sharpens up the contradictions in society in a positive way, because they need to be sharpened up in a positive way. Not because that’s our thing, but because society needs to be radically transformed, because of these 5 Stops, because of the massive poverty, exploitation, oppression and suffering in the world that’s completely unnecessary, because of what’s happening with the environment. It’s for those reasons that the contradictions in society need to be sharpened up and people need to break out of the way things are done and do them in a way that corresponds to their actual interests.

Now, in terms of looking again at the prospect of revolution, another thing I want to touch on is what we might call: parasitism, paralysis of bourgeois liberalism and reformism, friendly neutrality, and the possibility of revolution.

Let’s take the first part: parasitism. Going back to the ’60s, for example, more than 50 years ago, many people who aren’t completely blind to the realities of things would say... if you think back to the ’60s, people would say: “I want a revolution, too, but you’re never going to have a revolution in this country because there’s too many middle class people who are too well off.” Well, is this a real phenomenon and a real problem? Yes, it is. It’s a heavy weight on the masses of people and a heavy weight against the kind of radical change and the struggle for that radical change that’s needed. And it is owing to the parasitism of this society. Once again, in this land of short attention spans and no memory, where history is somehow anathema and out of bounds, people think that the way things are yesterday at the most—that’s as far back as they go—is the way things always were. You look at this country, for example—it didn’t always have the same kind of gigantic middle class, very large middle class which is relatively well off, although its well-off position has been significantly undermined in the last couple of decades, and that is something to be definitely aware of—and the implications of that which are, again, very contradictory. But if you look back at the history of this country, here again you get another narrative about the immigrants. The Statue of Liberty—good hearted people, when faced with this anti-immigrant hysteria being whipped up by Trump and these people, will say: “Well look, you know this is a country of immigrants, we’ve always welcomed immigrants.” Well yes, they were welcomed when they could be viciously exploited for several generations coming into New York, living in the Lower East Side in incredibly rat-infested, miserable conditions, working...I mean where did we get International Women’s Day? From out of the struggle of particularly women workers in their horrific conditions in New York City and representative of what was going on in the country as a whole. Where did we get May Day, International Workers Day? Out of the struggle of people who were viciously exploited, many of whom, as in the case of the women workers I was speaking of, were immigrants. And it was really only after World War 2 and the U.S. emerging relatively... see people don’t know anything about—I’m sorry, let me just say bluntly: people don’t know shit about anything in this country. For many of them, it’s not their fault. Some of them, it is because they could know and they don’t, and they don’t want to know or they resist knowing or they refuse to find out. And they’re too busy with...what is it Paul Simon called it even 30 years ago? Constant staccato of information... little bits of information constantly coming at you all the time—but no depth, no digging beneath the surface of the information to see what it really is all about and what larger framework and underlying basis it fits into and is grounded in.

So people don’t know anything. You know, I have to say I got furious the other day—just to engage in a personal indulgence—I got furious when I watched Kenneth Branagh on Stephen Colbert talking about this movie about Dunkirk, going on and on. First of all, Dunkirk was a fucking rout. The British Army got routed and had to flee by any means it could back to the island. And second of all, he goes on to talk about: “If this hadn’t happened, if the British Army had been destroyed at Dunkirk, the whole war would have been different, but because they escaped, because of the assistance of your great country, the history of things....” There are so many fucking things wrong with that, including, hey, you know what? Guess who broke the backbone of the fucking Nazi Wehrmacht, the Nazi war machine? It wasn’t fucking England, and it wasn’t fucking the U.S. It was the Soviet Union, and anyone who’s done any scholarship knows that. But nobody in this country knows it, and nobody is gonna tell them except for a few of us. But the point is, people don’t know anything about... why did the U.S. emerge out of World War 2 the way it did? Because it was, essentially, completely unscathed in World War 2—a few hundred thousand casualties, one thing at Pearl Harbor, nothing directly on the mainland. Europe was completely devastated. The Soviet Union lost between 20 and probably 30 million people. Its whole industrial base was destroyed. Why did things take shape in Eastern Europe and in Korea, and so on, the way they did? Did that have anything to do with—oh a forbidden word—history? Did it did have anything to do with what emerged out of these conditions? Did the character of U.S. society, the “physiognomy” of U.S. society—that is, the nature of the social classes and social groups and how they relate to each other—did that have anything to do with all that? Or is it somehow just the way it’s always been? I’m giving vent to a lot of frustration here, but we really have to not just be frustrated. We have to go out and really struggle to get, once again, a dialectical and historical materialist understanding of where did this parasitism come from? And it is contradictory—the conditions of the middle class, they are being undermined. People in that middle class, even ones who are relatively well off economically—who are benefitting with some of the spoils, the plunder of the whole vast international network of sweatshops that U.S. imperialism could not do without—even those people have better aspirations, because they live in a society full of contradiction and struggle about what the social relations and basic relations should be.

So, on the one hand, there is the parasitism, but it’s also in contradiction to other tendencies among people which ultimately are rooted in the contradictory nature of their conditions and more broadly the contradictory nature of society and ultimately the world—which, despite everything I just said, people are not completely ignorant of, although there is an astounding amount of ignorance, in certain particular spheres especially, having to do with the nature of society, history, and so on.

But in moving toward a revolutionary situation, one thing to understand: It’s not necessary for all the middle class to be enthusiastically leaping into the ranks of the revolution. You won’t make a revolution without at least good numbers of the youth in the middle class becoming part of the revolution, but for many it’s going to be a matter of their recognizing that what they had been used to, and what they may be even desperately yearning to have back, is not going to exist anymore. The norms they want reestablished are not going to be reestablished, and norms that are in conflict with what they want and what they think constitutes a society worth living in are going to be instituted, and the bourgeois liberalism and reformism that’s put forward in various forms—from the “left” groups, from the regular bourgeois politicians—are proven to be completely bankrupt and cannot deal with the new conditions that are emerging. This is where you get, much more broadly than those who will be actively involved, everything from support to friendly neutrality, which is very important. People decide that, at a minimum, they’re not going to help the powers-that-be and the oppressive ruling class suppress the revolution as it emerges.

So yes, this is a big phenomenon. Anyone who thinks about making revolution in the U.S. seriously, knows that this phenomenon, among others—there’s the power of the ruling class and its military, its repressive apparatus overall, its massive machinery of destruction and death—yes, all that’s real. But also very real is this weight of the middle class, even with the undermining of the conditions of significant sections of the middle class. It’s all very contradictory, and we have to approach this strategically and not in a determinist way which looks at it, once again, like “all that’s possible is what is.” But do we look beneath the surface? Do we see the contradictions? Do we see the motion and development? Do we see where...the possibilities that might lie ahead, the contradictory directions things might go, and how we might—and need to, and in fact, must—act on that to transform it in the direction it needs to go in?

So, in terms of the possibility of revolution, you’re never going see it if you don’t break out of the self-contained logic and the determinist logic of just looking at things as they are and then getting caught up in thinking that the way things are is the only way they could be. Why? Because that’s the way they are. Now, when you state it like that, it seems like an obvious tautology, but that’s the thinking that most people are caught up in. “Well, you can’t do things that way.” Why not? “Because that’s not how things are done.” Why aren’t they done that way? “Well, because they’re done differently.” I mean when you break it down, that’s really what a lot of people’s arguments are. What if we don’t accept that that’s the way things have to be? What if there are material conditions in the world that say that there’s a possibility for them to be radically different? Then what?

Now, the next thing I want to talk about and touch on briefly is “How We Can Win” as an actual living guideline and working document. And to stress this I would ...I would formulate this—to stress how this needs to be approached as a living guideline and working document, I would put it this way: “How We Can Win” needs to be taken up and applied and constantly gone back to and dug into more deeply—but taken up and applied all while that’s going on—in the way of working back from the third part, consistently applying the second part, on the basis of the first part.

Now, what do I mean by that? The third part speaks to how we could actually defeat them when the times come, under radically different conditions with the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions—just to emphasize that. But projecting to the possibility of those conditions, it talks about how we could defeat them and lays out certain concentrated principles. The point, after all, is to make revolution, and making revolution does require defeating them. So you have to work back from that. That’s what we’re going for, and if we don’t do that, everything else we do ultimately—not at every point along the way, but ultimately, in the final analysis—amounts to nothing. It amounts to tinkering around and leaving the system the way it is. So we have to actually get to the point where there is a real chance to win, with millions fighting for revolution in a revolutionary situation.

So working back from that, we have to be consistently applying the second part of “How We Can Win”—what it is that we need to do now. How do we go about implementing a strategy in its various dimensions and approaching this strategically, as strategic commanders, to wield this as a strategy so that all the component parts are mutually reinforcing each other on a strategic level? And what’s that grounded in? It’s not grounded in some fanciful idea that it would be nice to have a different society, and because that would be nice we ought to subject everybody to everything that has to go into achieving that, including all the upheaval and all the radical disruption, and yes, all the destruction that will be brought down overwhelmingly by the forces of the old order viciously resisting. No, it’s not that. No, it’s not that we had a nice idea and we’re going to subject everybody to all that because of that nice idea which has no basis in reality. No, it’s because we need a revolution, and why we need a revolution—which comes back to what I was saying earlier in terms of the world as it is, what’s concentrated in the 5 Stops, the horrors of all that, the very real peril to humanity that it’s posing, and the possibility of a radical transformation to something that’s much, much better. It’s not just much better but it’s better in qualitative terms, it’s a whole different kind of world—the basis for which exists within the contradictions of the very world we live in now, including the people who are caught up in those contradictions.

So it’s a matter of consistently wielding this as a living guideline and working document, working back from the third part, consistently applying the second part, on the basis of the first part—on the basis of why there is a necessity and possibility for revolution in the first place, and the desirability. And in this context I just want to say very briefly a few words about Chicago.

We’ve concentrated in Chicago because it has become a concentration point objectively of very important social confrontations and social contradictions. The ruling class, as such, is seizing on it as a bludgeon for greatly heightening its murderous repression that’s carried out among the masses of people who are concentrated in the inner cities in particular, but also as an ideological weapon that it’s been working on for decades—which is not very different from, and is essentially the same as, what I quoted from that wife and campaign manager of that Congressman back at the end of the 19th century—that these are a bunch of savage animals. And we even hear some of the masses telling us: “They’re too far gone, try to get the five-year-olds. These kids, by the time they’re teenagers, they’re too far gone.” No, they’re not, but it’s going to be a very intense, fierce struggle to win them to revolution. But you keep thinking...you know, for decades they’ve been portraying these masses in this way through all the culture, through all the pig shows on TV, through everything the politicians have done. They portray these masses as savage beasts, like this woman said.

And I kept thinking to myself: How the fuck do they keep getting these juries that let these pigs off, or refuse to convict them, one after another, when the evidence of cold-blooded murder is overwhelming and right in front of your face? It’s partly who they get on juries, and it’s partly how the prosecution doesn’t prosecute and accepts the terms, the very narrow terms, of whether the cop had a legitimate fear for his life or whatever—which has racism written into it and institutionalized. “If I’m a cop and I hate Black people, well, then every time I see one of these young Black youth, I’m afraid of them because I hate them, and therefore I can do anything I want to them.” And then the prosecutors accept that and try to work with that basic logic, try to work within it. And you know what the judges... how they’re slanting things. But still you’ve got these juries—how do they not convict, even with all that? Because people who get on these juries, in particular, have been conditioned for years and decades on how to look at this: “If we don’t let these cops do what they gotta do, these savage beasts are gonna run wild, they’re gonna come in our neighborhood and rape the women and burn down everything and steal everything and murder everybody.” This is how they do this. They’re using Chicago as a big battering ram and a big sledgehammer ideologically to go further with that as part of, in practice, greatly heightening the repression, the murderous repression. It’s nothing less than murderous repression with genocidal, yes, real genocidal dimensions.

And so we’ve recognized this. This is a gauntlet that’s been thrown down by the ruling class, and is objectively a gauntlet that we have to pick up and transform. And there is nobody else who’s going to do this—not because of some sort of human nature that we have that’s different from other people, but because people don’t have the science. They don’t have the science to recognize what the actual situation is, what the contradictory situation is. Yes, what the very negative factors are, including in what people are into—not just what they do but how they think, and what needs to be really compellingly struggled with in a very fierce way to rupture them out of that and to get them to actually rise to the potential they have to be emancipators of humanity, to be a backbone of a revolution whose goal is the emancipation of all humanity. And furthermore, having entered into this, there is no way that we are not going to fight through on it. We have to fight through on it because of what it represents objectively, which I was just speaking to. And, on top of that, we have to fight through on it because we’ve gone to the masses and said we’re going to do so. And goddamn it, we’re not going to not do that!

Now, that doesn’t solve the problems. That’s just a basic point of fundamental orientation, and then we have to go to work on the problems—which we are. But I will say, on the positive side, if and as we make even beginning qualitative breakthroughs to bringing forward a critical mass, particularly among the youth, who are won to this revolution and don’t just put the shirt on one day—you know, “BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!” and take it off the next—which is something—but actually get all the way in with this and are really not only willing but fired up to go out and struggle with everybody else about “this is what we need to be with,” and have the vision—a scientifically grounded vision, not a vision that’s cooked up in somebody’s head which has nothing to do with reality and is in conflict with reality, but a scientifically grounded vision—of how we could have a radically different world in which people don’t have to be put through this, all this unnecessary suffering and horror that they’re put through every day, not just the people here but people all over the world. As we make real breakthroughs on that, then, you know, the struggle is going to intensify a thousand-fold. And we have to be prepared for that. We have to be, as we once said, down for the whole thing. We have to be ready to fight that all the way through. It’s not the whole of the revolution by any means, but it is a crucial concentration point of the fight for revolution in this society and in this world. And even all over the world people know about Chicago.

So think of the positive side. What’s it going to mean if the banner of revolution—in a real sense, and real people actually raising and fighting for that banner among others like them and going out more broadly in society and fighting for it—what’s it going to mean positively as that comes forward and the fight is waged not to have it suppressed? I just want to emphasize: this is the stakes of this battle. It’s not everything we’re doing, it’s not even everything we’re doing among the basic masses, but it is a concentration point and carries tremendous stakes and implications.

Next, I want to say a few things about potential civil war between two sections of the people. I notice that the reactionaries, the fascists, are constantly talking about this and gearing up for it in a real way. And if things more fully develop, this is going to be more and more a feature, not just of the future, but in the present struggle. And it already is. I noticed, in reading reports about the July 15th Refuse Fascism demonstrations, the question had to be fought out: Are people afraid to come out because if you go to the Trump star (or whatever it is) in LA, the fascists are going to be there to defend it? In Houston they’re saying (the fascists are saying) they’re going to come armed to confront the demonstrations. This is going to increase more and more. And are people going to fight through that and recognize that if you capitulate to this, things are only going to get worse? They’ve got to be won to stand up to it. So this is in embryonic forms now, in terms of the potential civil war between the different sections of people—the reactionary, and the positive and ultimately revolutionary side of the people. But how this gets fought out now—I don’t mean fought out in military terms, just to be clear. But how it gets fought out politically now and whether people stand up to this, and whether, yes, they defend themselves if they’re attacked, not initiate attack but defend themselves if they’re attacked, whether they refuse to back down—carries real stakes and has real consequences in terms of where society is going to go and whether, first of all, this fascist regime could be driven out, and then beyond that whether a radically different society could be brought into being through revolution.

And within this I do want to say a few words about the role of the youth, especially from the basic masses. Now, I know Farrakhan has this thing, always posing as the general whose army is not ready: “I want to lead you”... (He also says, “Justice or else”—but it’s really or else nothing.... But, anyway he says,) “I want to lead you, but you’re not ready to be led. You’ve got to stop doing all this bad stuff you’re doing because I can’t lead you. You’re not ready to be led. You’ve gotta get out of all this bad stuff and get into all this reactionary shit that I’m promoting. And then I’ll lead you.” Where is he going to lead you?—that’s another question. But there is a real phenomenon. You could issue a call to these youth who are killing each other: “Stop doing that, let’s go out and take on these real fuckers who need to be taken on.” But that would not lead to a good result, at this point, because people need to be transformed, people need to fight the power and transform themselves and transform whole groups of people in increasing waves for revolution. And it’s not the Farrakhan thing: “First you have to be perfect, according to my perverted vision of what’s perfect, and then maybe I’ll lead you somewhere where you don’t need to and shouldn’t go. But you’re not ready yet.” It’s not that, but there does have to be transformation of people.

They have to take up the Points of Attention for the Revolution, including the ones that really sharply concentrate things among the masses—like the second one, around women, if I remember correctly. And the sixth one. How do we break out of this revenge? I saw an interesting...I was reading an article about Mosul in The New York Times Magazine and this question of revenge came up with one of the...you know, it’s perverse... it’s one of the Iraqi military officers who’s waged this battle of devastation and destruction on Mosul. But the question of revenge came up, because everybody’s had people killed by all the sides of this religious sectarian conflict. And one of these guys said: “We have to put aside the revenge, otherwise everybody will be dead.” And there is a certain point to that, not in the way he’s making it, but in terms of the masses, in particular the youth. We have to break out of that—not just so everybody won’t be dead, but so we can get to a whole different place in this country and in the world. And on the basis of that, then these youth can come to the forefront. On the basis of fighting the power, and transforming the people, for revolution, they can come forward and be a force who can be in the forefront of beating back these fascists. I don’t mean attacking them. Again, the sixth point is we don’t initiate violence. In the present stage of things, we do not initiate violence and we’re against all violence among the people and against the people. But that doesn’t mean people don’t have a right to defend themselves if they are not the ones who initiate the violence, if violence is... if illegitimate violence is directed against them, they have a right to defend themselves. And they have a right to be even... besides the question of physical defense when attacked, there’s a question of being a bold revolutionary force that gives backbone to people, which is fundamentally even more important. So that’s something else to think about in terms of how we struggle with people and what lofty sights we raise their vision to.

And I want to say a few words, before moving on to the final point in this section, about the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic. We often say it’s the systematic application of the new communism, a sweeping vision and concrete guideline for a radically different and truly liberating society and world. And this is true. But this has to really be understood as how and why that’s so, and has to be taken up as such.

In this context, I want to read the following from THE NEW COMMUNISM, speaking about this Constitution: “One of the things that should really be understood about this Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, in most fundamental terms, is that this Constitution is dealing with a very profound and very difficult contradiction: the contradiction that, on the one hand, humanity really does need revolution and communism; but, on the other hand, not all of humanity wants that all of the time, including in socialist society.” And here’s a very important sentence: “So this Constitution is set up to provide the basic methods and means to deal with that contradiction....You need to get to communism, but you’re not going to get to communism by putting guns in the backs of the people and force-marching them to communism. You have to continually win them to that, fighting through all the contradictions that get posed, including the ones that the enemies put in your way, or accentuate, in order to turn the people against you.”

I want to underscore this sentence: “This Constitution is set up to provide the basic methods and means to deal with that contradiction.” And really grasping what is being said in a very concentrated way there is really crucial to understanding the full dimensions of what this Constitution is actually doing and what it is—what’s both the heart of it and the many different particular dimensions of it, and how they all fit together and are all serving that purpose, of dealing with that very basic contradiction in all of its complexity.

And just a word on how this Constitution actually got developed. At a certain point, I did go back and read everything from the Magna Carta to Plato’s Republic and the U.S. Constitution, to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and other similar documents, and then some constitutions from the Soviet Union when it was socialist and China when it was socialist. And that was important—that’s what I did right before sitting down to actually wage the struggle to work through the contradictions in theory and embody them in this Constitution. But even more fundamental than that, what I did was repeatedly go back, over the course of a number of years actually, to what I could identify as some of the main contradictions that such a constitution needed to deal with, including this one that I just pinpointed, reading from THE NEW COMMUNISM. And, in particular, how does solid core and elasticity on the basis of the solid core—how should it be applied in a constitution of this kind? How does it apply to the state? How does it apply to civil society and the relations among people, as well as their relations with the state? How do you actually institutionalize the leadership that’s necessary and the understanding concentrated in such a leadership that is necessary in order for society to go where it needs to go, and at the same time institutionalize the provision of the means for many different people of diverse viewpoints and inclinations to be part of this process, while the process continues to go where it needs to go? These were the contradictions I was wrestling with repeatedly.

I even had little diagrams, which then got translated into concrete provisions in the Constitution—like, okay, here’s the Party, a diagram for the Party to ...what are the institutions the Party really needed to lead? The legal apparatus, the courts, the executive, the institutions of defense and security. But how do you do that in a way that isn’t just what we’re accused of doing? For example, Ajith in his polemic says: “Well, this stuff about the Party being... has to be faithful to the Constitution or has to adhere to the Constitution—that doesn’t mean anything, because the Party can suspend the Constitution.” Well, no, it doesn’t actually say that. The Party itself cannot in this Constitution take that step. As referred to under the rights of the people, Point H there, where it says under emergency situations, where literally the existence of the Republic is at stake, certain rights could be suspended, there are a lot of provisions for how that has to be done in a certain way and how it has to be overseen, so it isn’t just arbitrary. But it isn’t the Party that does that. There are institutionalized mechanisms for how that is done that is not just the Party acting unilaterally and acting willfully and arbitrarily on the basis that it doesn’t like something that’s happened. So a lot of struggle went on with how do you actually handle the solid core and elasticity on the basis of the solid core—how do you actually institutionalize it so there’s a very strong basis for things to be led where they need to be go and, on the other hand, for there to be this whole process of a lot of ferment, a lot of diverse thinking, a lot of diversity in culture, even down to the level of how these things will be supported that are oppositional to the direction things need to go in.

And if you go through this Constitution you can see the tension there that’s being worked with—the objective tension of how do you handle that contradiction. That’s what’s so important about this Constitution—that it’s dealing with that contradiction that I spoke to, reading from THE NEW COMMUNISM, but it’s dealing with it in all the manifold ways and many different ways this is going to arise, anticipating as much as possible—because, of course, everything can’t be anticipated—but anticipating as much as possible, and to a very great degree, all these kinds of contradictions, specific contradictions that really get back to the question of solid core and elasticity on the basis of the solid core. How does society go where it needs to go, but then this is not a process of force-marching it there, and there’s a lot of diversity and a lot of wrangling and even a lot of opposition along the way, but it all can go where it needs to go if things are done correctly. It’s not a matter of institutionalizing in the sense that it becomes automatic, but the institutional means are provided for how to struggle through those contradictions. And this really has to be understood. I’m going a little bit into how I approached this because I think it shines further light on what is actually embodied in this Constitution and how important it is, what it’s actually dealing with, and the whole radically different way than this has been dealt with before. Not that it’s rejecting all the past experience (of socialist society) or saying that was principally negative, but it is a radical leap, and it is in some ways breaking with some things, as we’ve said. So I just want to emphasize that point, and it’s really important to wield this Constitution with that kind of understanding and to fight through all the petty objections and whatever to actually get people to engage: This is the kind of society we’re going for, this is what we intend to do. And it isn’t us imposing our unilateral will on everybody, but it does have a direction to it, because that’s a direction things need to go, and at the same time it is envisioning and embodying and institutionalizing a living process full of contradiction and full of diversity and opposition and struggle as a necessary part of that process.

Now, before moving on to the final section here, I want to talk about what is posed by the Trump/Pence fascist regime—how to oppose this, and how this relates to the fundamental strategic goal of revolution.

First of all, identifying the Trump/Pence regime is important. I’ll come back to that a little bit more and how that comes up in the actual work and struggle in Refuse Fascism and what it’s aiming for. One thing I think we should understand, an important part of this whole picture and we can understand it partly in terms of historical analogy, is what we could call—since Trump is the “master of the deal” according to him—Trump’s deal with the Christian Fascists. You see, I think it’s pretty important for us to understand what happened here with Trump and particularly this dimension of it. If you look back over Trump, he used to be pro-choice, a lot of his views were not in line with those of the Republican Party and in particular the Christian Fascists. The racism, the crude misogyny—yes. But a lot of it was out of line with their position. And, at a certain point, there was a recognition from the two sides of some important things from their points of view. Trump, I think it’s fair to say, could not have won the election if the Christian Fascists had not only—not only if they had opposed him, but if they’d been unenthusiastic about him. And you would think: well, why him? Ted Cruz is much more in line with these Christian Fascists, and he’s much more of a Christian Fascist lunatic himself. He’s right in the heart of that stuff. Why not Ted Cruz, from their point of view? Because at a certain point—and this is spoken to in The Coming Civil War articles—you can’t keep dangling as bait before these fascist forces, and in particular the Christian Fascists, about you’re going to do this and that, like get rid of abortion and suppress the gays and all this kind of stuff. You can’t keep dangling that and never deliver on it, and at a certain point if you do, they’re going to break away from that. And in a sense that’s what has happened. Trump ran within the Republican primaries, but he was not really of the Republican Party. And what Trump represented to these forces—which is why, even when the Hollywood Access tape pussy-grabbing thing came out, they didn’t turn against him (you know, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and all these others)—because they recognized: “Here is somebody who is going outside of the whole rules and the way this is done in the ‘swamp of Washington,’ who will actually carry through on this stuff. So even though Ted Cruz is more like what we’re about, he’s too much been a part of those dynamics. Trump is outside of that. Trump will actually carry through on these things.” And Trump, for his part, recognized that if he didn’t get this force behind him, he was not going to be able to do it.

The historical analogy this calls to mind is the deal Hitler made with the military in 1934. Hitler came to power, but for a long time the military was not really under his command. It still was under the more traditional command. And at a certain point Trump (I mean Hitler) struck a deal in 1934 with the military. The military would come under his command, and in return he would smash the Storm Troopers, the SA, the brown shirts—which he did. And there’s a certain analogy here to Trump and the Christian Fascists, that Trump took up their program. Look who he nominated to the Supreme Court, a Christian Fascist lunatic, Gorsuch. And look who he’s nominating.... he’s doing what he said he would do, as far as the main programmatic things. He’s delivering what these other people wouldn’t carry through and deliver for them because they were still “playing the game” of bourgeois politics as it’s been carried out. So this is an important thing to understand.

Pence is obviously a critical linchpin in this, in this alliance, this uniting of what’s represented by Trump—his own personal ambitions and everything bound up with that—and the Christian Fascists, and programmatically what he (Trump) has taken up in order to get where he’s going and in order to keep going with it. And this is why the regular bourgeois institutions, especially those more in the center of things, like CNN, the Democratic Party and so on, they keep bringing in historical analogies which don’t pan out or don’t pan out completely. You know, they keep saying: “He can’t do that, that’s not the way things are done.” But then he does it, because he’s not playing by those rules. He’s not working within the norms as they’ve been. He is going directly up against them, precisely as an important part of what he’s doing. I mean who ever heard of somebody tweeting all this stuff—not just the asinine stuff but the actual really fascist stuff, including attacks on other people within the ruling structures. You know, Comey’s a nut job, Adam Schiff is a sleazy Democratic politician. I mean, who heard of anybody doing that—that’s outside the norms. This is an important part of what Trump is doing. And Pence is a real linchpin of this, cementing the Christian Fascists—or hinging them together, if you want to continue the analogy: Trump and what he represents and particularly the Christian Fascists. And it’s worth pointing out what was quoted from Andrew Sullivan way back in the Clinton supplement, The Truth About Right-Wing Conspiracy...And Why Clinton the Democrats Are No Answer, where it says: nowadays some are saying the religious fundamentalist element of this right-wing thing is not the going thing, it’s the fiscal conservatives who want to cut social programs, cut benefits to people, slash taxes for the rich, and so on—those are the ones who have the initiative. And it was pointed out: Well, that may be a very temporary thing, but in an overall sense these Christian Fascists are the ones more setting the terms within this whole fascist thing. And Sullivan pointed out: Even people who are fiscal conservatives—this is writing way back almost 20 years ago, but it’s even more true now—even the ones who are fiscal conservatives have to wrap up their program in this language of this Christian fundamentalism. So this is an important point to understand. And I’ll come back to the whole question of: Well, if we get rid of Trump, then we’ll get Pence, and that might be even worse.

I think it’s important to identify what we can call the triad of fascism, that is, the unapologetic aggressive assertion of white supremacy, male supremacy and American supremacy (or racism, misogyny and bellicose xenophobic jingoism, if you want to use other terminology), reinforced with defiantly—not apologetically, defiantly—ignorant and belligerent opposition to science and rational thought, combined with equally ignorant and belligerent assertion of the “superiority of western civilization,” as evidenced in Trump’s recent speech in Poland. And once again, referring back to what I read from Jackson Lears’ The Rebirth of a Nation, speaking about things at the turn of the previous century, more than 100 years ago, you can see sharply manifested the intertwining and mutual reinforcement of all of this.

Along with this, we have the fascist thuggery—both physical thuggery and intellectual thuggery: mindless storm troopers, coupled with perverted pretensions of victimhood and irrational rationalizations for atrocities. Think about it: You have these storm troopers—you know, the Oath Keepers, the Ku Klux Klan, and all the rest of these people, the Proud Boys, or whatever they’re called—out there in the streets carrying guns, and so on. And you have the NRA videos basically calling for people to engage in civil war against anything positive in society. But you also have the Ann Coulters and others out there with their intellectual thuggery, presenting at one and the same time the Christian Fascists and other fascists as victims. Somehow these people—whose representatives are in power, with a fascist regime implementing its program—somehow they’re the victims, they’re the Christians in the Coliseum with the lions being turned loose on them. Why? Well, there is this book by this guy—his name is, it’s not Jimmy Kimmel, it’s another Kimmel (Michael Kimmel)—called Angry White Men. And he made a statement which I think speaks to a lot of this sort of mobilized resentment, this frustrated entitlement. He said: If you’ve been in a situation—speaking about men who feel aggrieved these days because “the bitches are getting everything their way”—if you’re used to having everything 100% in your favor, and then it’s cut down to 75%, I guess it feels like you’re being persecuted. And that’s essentially what’s happening here. There have been certain concessions to the struggle against things like white supremacy, and patriarchy in different forms, and so on and so forth. So this feels to these people like their birthright of superiority—even if they’re not wealthy and powerful, all of them, some of them are—their birthright is being undercut and diminished and destroyed by these minor concessions. I think this is very important to understand. Then there’s the irrational rationalizations for atrocity. I mean just look at Ann Coulter—pure irrationality but in the service of all kinds of horrendous things—advocacy of horrendous acts: Go in (to Muslim countries), and kill all their leaders, convert them all to Christianity—on and on and on—you can cite these things endlessly.

So I think it is very important to understand this phenomenon. But I also want to stress, again, the importance of not being cowed by it, but boldly countering these fascist thugs in every sphere—including the intellectual sphere and including the physical storm troopers—but, at the same time, doing so as part of a broader movement to drive out this fascist regime, and from our standpoint, in terms of what’s fundamentally needed, part of advancing the 3 Prepares: Prepare the Ground, Prepare the People, Prepare the Vanguard—Get Ready for the Time When Millions Can Be Led to Fight All-out for Revolution With a Real Chance of Winning.

It’s very important, in connection with all this and overall, to correctly handle the contradiction between the essence of the bourgeois capitalist state, the dictatorial essence of that, and the appearance of democracy—which, on the other hand, the fascists are moving to resolve in their own way by getting rid of the appearance and moving to grotesque outright dictatorship. And in all this, once again, we can see the long shadow of slavery and the continuing oppression of Black people playing a pivotal role, including in fascist rule today. Among this is its expression through the normal electoral set-up. This includes the whole voter suppression thing, which has taken another leap with this commission supposedly investigating voter fraud, which is really a commission for further voter suppression. And you can see it in the skewing of the electoral process to favor the conservative—that is, the reactionary and fascist-inclined—areas and forces. I saw on one of these programs—I think it was on MSNBC—somebody was saying that there is an analysis that by the year 2030 (or something like that, within a couple of decades anyway) 30% of the population will be represented by 70% of the Senate, and 70% of the population will be represented by 30%. This is an important phenomenon, because is it necessary for them to do away with all the electoral processes? It may not be necessary, because things are skewed toward these rural areas, and small states which tend to be highly rural as well (in many cases, not in all cases). Then you don’t necessarily have to do away with the whole electoral process. And that’s an additional reason—not the most essential reason, but an additional reason—why this whole Democratic Party strategy of “We’re going to flip all these elections in 2018 and win the White House back in 2020,” is out of line with what’s actually happening. I’m not saying they couldn’t possibly win an election, if there is an election in those years, but there’s something going on here. Which, once again, if you think about what led to the electoral college in the first place, and the way the representation in the Senate is set up, and on top of that the way the Congressional districts have been gerrymandered so that sometimes you have like one district... you have a lot of Black people in an area, they’re overwhelmingly in one district, and then all the other districts are the white people in the area... all this kind of thing is part of what they’ve been building up for decades now, which is taking another leap.

And we have to understand, and struggle for people to understand, the straight-up Nazi mentality of this fascism and its consciously genocidal—not only implications but intentions. I go back to that comment, once again, by that “sleazy Congressman,” Adam Schiff. I remember seeing him talking about the original Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act, or whatever they call it) when it was passed. One of his constituents came up to him and asked him how he voted on it, and he said he voted for it, for Obamacare. And his constituent is obviously displeased and asks him: “Why’d you vote for it?” He gave a number of reasons, and then he said: “Well, and besides, one of the main reasons is that people who otherwise couldn’t afford health care can now get it.” Then this guy said: “And you think that’s a good thing?” Adam Schiff said: “Yes, I do. Don’t you?” And the guy said: “No! If they can’t afford it, they shouldn’t have it.” Now, think about the implications of this kind on mentality that’s been built up and primed among sections of the people into a fascist force. This depraved world view that certain types of people—including obviously Black people, other oppressed peoples, but also old people, sick people, women and so on, especially ones who want to have birth control and abortion—that these are people who are seen by these fascist forces as a drain and a stain on society and civilization, and who, therefore, deserve to die (or, what is the same thing, do not deserve to live or to be assisted to live).

There’s a great deal concentrated in and great importance to this statement which appears regularly on revcom.us:

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 is extremely important, and it was very heartening to read about what happened in L.A. when the Trump fascist people came out and were yelling: “U.S.A., U.S.A.,” and the people who were there with Refuse Fascism were led to chant: “Humanity first! Humanity first!”—which drowned out, and actually in the short run silenced, these fascists.

Now, it is also important to go on with the second part of this statement which says:

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 Democrats, and the section of the ruling class generally aligned with them, do not and cannot provide any answer to this fascism that is in the interests of the people, of humanity, because they are part of the same system which has created the conditions that gave rise to and fostered this fascism, and they share with the fascist section of the ruling class fundamental interests and assumptions, not least grotesque American chauvinism. This repeatedly comes out from all these institutions of the media and the Democratic Party. And all you have to do is think back to the 2016 Democratic Party Convention that nominated that hawk Hillary Clinton and think how this got concentrated, when not only was there militarism and “U.S.A., U.S.A.” emanating from the stage, but then this got concentrated when some of the people from Oregon, I believe it was, at a certain point, in opposition to all this jingoism and chauvinism, began to chant, “No War, No War, No War,” and they were drowned out by the mass of the delegates yelling, “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.” So just think about that.

Or think about the question of the fundamental lie of American society—the fundamental lie that “you can make it if you try.” Now, think about this: In the middle of the election, a Trump campaign functionary in Ohio was forced to resign—even a Trump campaign functionary was forced to resign—because she said: If you’re Black and in America today and you’re not making it, it’s your own fault, you aren’t trying hard enough, you’re not working hard enough. I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the essence of what she said. She had to resign from the Trump campaign because of that. That’s because she put it in baldly negative terms, openly blaming the people. But I would like somebody to explain to me: What is the difference in logic between that and Barack Obama’s statement in his victory speech in the 2012 election when he said: The great thing about America is if you work hard you can succeed. What is the difference in substance, in the essence of what’s being said, between that and what this woman in Ohio in the Trump campaign had to resign because she said? It’s exactly the same statement, except one is put in very negative terms, and the other is put in very “positive, hopeful” terms by the man of the “audacity of hope.” But it’s exactly the same message, because what is the logic of: If you work hard in America and do the right things, you can succeed? The logic is: If you’re not succeeding, you’re not doing the right things and not working hard—which is exactly what the woman from the Trump campaign said and had to resign over. So you can see a number—we could go through others, but I am running out of time, so I won’t—but there are many other examples in which they share fundamental assumptions because of the very nature of the system that they represent.

So, in sum on this, even as they do have real and in some aspects very acute differences and conflicts with the fascist section of the ruling class, including over the norms of political rule, they are an expression and an instrument of the same capitalist-imperialist system which produces daily horrors for humanity on a massive scale and which has spewed forth this fascism as a response to a situation that has resulted, above all and most fundamentally, from the basic contradictions and dynamics of this very system that all these politicians and political forces represent and serve.

Now, many have raised: If we drive out Trump—here I want speak to this—then we’ll just get Pence, and if anything he is even worse. Here it’s worth referring back to what was said earlier about the deal between Trump and the Christian Fascists, which Pence symbolizes and whose outlook and program he aggressively spreads and fights for, that of the Christian Fascists. But it’s important to understand that it’s not a matter of just driving out Trump and getting Pence. That way of seeing things, once again, reflects still too much being confined within, and weighed down by, the normal way of seeing and doing things, which is precisely the trap that people have to break out of in their millions and millions. It is a matter not of getting rid of Trump and getting Pence, but it is a matter of driving out the whole Trump/Pence regime. It is a matter of a massive and sustained political mobilization and resistance from below. It is a matter of changing the whole political landscape, the whole political situation, culture and atmosphere in society. If, and as, this begins to happen on the scale and with the determination that is needed, this, in turn, will have significant repercussions among the ruling political forces, creating or deepening cracks and divisions among them and forcing at least sections of the “liberal” ruling class forces to pretend to recognize the legitimacy of what this mass mobilization is demanding, while at the same time seeking to co-opt it and bring it back within the normal and “acceptable” channels and positions. This, in turn, must be responded to by seizing on the further openings that are created by all this, to draw even greater numbers of people into the massive and sustained mobilization. And this overall dynamic must be continued, amplified and accelerated toward the goal of actually driving out this regime before it can fully consolidate its rule and implement its program. All this will be necessary and crucial in order to drive out this regime, and driving out this whole regime in this way would create more favorable conditions for bringing about even further positive change in the interests of not just people in this country who are sick to death of this regime and refuse to accept a fascist America, but of all humanity.

The last thing on this point: there’s the question of what is the relationship between the principal objective now of driving out this fascist regime and the fundamental objective of the revolution we need. Here we have to speak very briefly to Naomi Klein and her book No is Not Enough. Now, it’s very significant that she had to put out a book with that title, even though she didn’t put the exclamation point on the NO. It’s very significant she had to speak to this NO. And what is the answer to that? The answer is, first of all: NO is necessary, vitally necessary. Driving out this regime, in other words, is critical at this point. At the same time, no, it is not enough. And the fact is—which we, again, going back to the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, have to be bringing to people in a very bold and vigorous way—that there is a real, viable radical alternative beyond just driving out this regime: the new communism, the revolution it is the foundation for, and the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic it has brought forth.

In conclusion on this point, we can go back to the conclusion of the Weimar Republic article and what it says there: that the attack by fascist forces on the Weimar Republic, especially when these fascist forces are in power, is something that has to be opposed; but what needs to be brought forward, fundamentally and ultimately, is not the Weimar Republic, or an even more grotesque and murderous form of what is represented by the Weimar Republic—that is, the bourgeois-democratic form of bourgeois dictatorship and the capitalist-imperialist system it enforces—but the radical alternative represented by revolution, represented and embodied in the new society, the new society represented and embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, and the ultimate goal of a communist world. That is what fundamentally and ultimately needs to replace the Weimar Republic—and, at this point, the road to that lies through driving out this regime and then carrying forward the struggle toward that goal of revolution and a radically new society.

 

 

Part 4: Once More on the Crucial Role of Leadership

Here, I refer people, in addition to what I’m going to say now, to the fourth part of THE NEW COMMUNISM.

As a matter of fundamental orientation and approach, what is needed are emancipators of humanity, “on fire for revolution” and wanting revolution badly enough to approach it scientifically; propagating, and fighting, consistently, boldly to win people to this revolution; not tailing but leading people, including through comradely but compelling struggle, to carry forward “Fight the power, and Transform the People, for Revolution,” and advance the “3 Prepares.”

In this context, I want to talk about something that is spoken to in one of the sections of Part 4 of THE NEW COMMUNISM—what’s referred to as another kind of pyramid. I want to speak to this both because it’s important and also because I have the sense that, at least in some ways, there’s been a misrepresentation (or a misunderstanding and misrepresentation) of what’s being said there. The point isn’t just that when you are engaging in political work and discussion and struggle with various class forces you have to never forget what it is you are standing on and what it is you represent in the fullest sense—not in a tailist sense—that you represent the fundamental interests of the exploited and oppressed of the world and the need for communism to put an end to that oppression and exploitation. That point is very important, that in working among all different sections of the people, as we must, we must never forget that most fundamental thing and have it constantly in mind. But if this point about another kind of pyramid is reduced to that, it’s going to be distorted and vitiated. Its real meaning is going to be lost—the essence of what’s being said here and the contradictions that it’s dealing with. The point here is not just that you have to not forget what fundamentally you’re representing and keep this consistently mind in going among all sections of the people; the point is that you need to go among all sections of the people, you need to engage in discussion and struggle with people of all different strata, and you need to engage in the realm of ideology and philosophy, if you will, theory—you need to do all that, and because you need to do that, then you need to not ever forget what it is that you represent, and you need to consistently fight to do that with the scientific outlook and method of communism as it’s been further developed through the new synthesis of communism. That’s the point of “another pyramid,” and if that first part is lost sight of it becomes narrowed down, and becomes in effect economism, and feeds economism and tailing the oppressed among the masses. It becomes a form of reification, of turning yourself into just a representative of those masses in a narrow, and even in a tailist, sense. So I want to stress that point. It’s really important that this point, which is a very important point, be understood correctly, in its full dimensions and in the full amplitude of the contradictions that it’s dealing with, in particular that contradiction between the need to go among all sections of the people and to engage in the struggle in the realm of ideology and theory and work in the realm of theory and discussion and struggle with people representing different world outlooks and ultimately different social forces and class interests—and in that context and because of the need to do that, never losing sight of what fundamentally it is you’re representing and what outlook and methodology you must bring to bear consistently in doing so.

What we need—once again, a point that’s stressed in the Interview with Ardea Skybreak, SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, as well as in THE NEW COMMUNISM—we need strategic commanders of the revolution, people consistently approaching everything from the strategic standpoint of how to work and fight through the contradictions to actually make revolution, continually grappling with the problems of the revolution, with the goal of advancing toward the emancipation of all humanity with the achievement of communism on a world scale as the consistent guiding orientation. And this means being—among other things, other important things—it means being alert to, and constantly seeking to draw lessons from, major events in society and the world, as well as grappling with and deepening the grasp and application of theory and, in particular, method, all in relation to the strategic objective of revolution and the ultimate goal of communism on a world scale.

Here, let’s talk a little bit about this question of weighing major social and world events— not approaching them in some abstract sense, but weighing them specifically in relation to the goal of revolution, and even more specifically, what is concentrated in “How We Can Win.” For example, a strategic commander of the revolution, when seeing the exposure and the living reality of the horror in Mosul, would think not only about the crimes of imperialism, as well as the crimes of these reactionary fundamentalist jihadists, not only about the devastation that’s brought about by these forces, but would also think about what can we learn from this in terms of what should and should not be done in actually making a revolution that has to go up against these forces, in particular the massive machinery of these imperialists. For example, what light does this shed on why, in the third part of “How We Can Win,” it talks about not openly controlling and governing territory until a very late stage in the overall struggle? What does the experience in Mosul have to do with that? What can you learn from that? Why is that principle in there? See, that’s the kind of thing that a strategic commander of the revolution—just to cite one example—would think about. Not because that’s the form of struggle that we’re engaging in now. We’re not. We’ve made that point many times. We’re talking about—and it’s very explicit in the third part of “How We Can Win”—a radically different, qualitatively different, situation with a ripening revolutionary situation and revolutionary people emerging in the millions and millions. But strategically we have to be thinking about that. What does this struggle going on at the ruling class levels of society—what does that have to do with our more immediate objectives, but even more fundamentally, with our strategic objectives?

I remember, back a long time ago, one of these youth who was very dogmatic and, not surprisingly, didn’t stick around after a while, but who was impressing everybody by memorizing many of my works—I remember talking in a meeting with some of these youth, including that person, about something I’d read in the New York Times. And he made the comment: “Why would you even bother to read the New York Times?”That is not a strategic commander of the revolution. It’s not just a question of, metaphorically speaking, “doing reconnaissance on the enemy”—politically speaking now. It’s a matter of looking at all the major events in society and the world and how different class forces are reacting to them and seeking to work on them, and what that has to do with our strategic goal and the application of our strategy to get toward that strategic goal. This is what it means, and everybody from the newest person in the ranks of the revolution to the most seasoned leader of the revolution, should be doing this on the level on which they’re capable at any given time and constantly striving to raise their level, not just individually but as part of the collective process, to be able to contribute more fully. This is a very important point I want to stress about strategic commanders—what that means and how that has to be applied, how people should be approaching it. We have to be thinking in terms of how are we actually going to make this revolution, how are we actually going to work through the contradictions and solve the problems of the revolution from here all the way forward. And what do all these different social events and world events and the actions of different class forces in relation to them have to do with all that, at every given point, as well as in an overall strategic sense?

And I want to say a word in this context about the new synthesis of communism, the new communism and the leadership of BA. “The basis for a new wave of communist revolution that is urgently needed in the world and the leading edge in building for that revolution in this country, as a crucial part of that worldwide revolutionary struggle”—I just read this like a mantra, on purpose, and that is not how it should be seen and approached. These are not empty words to be ignored or occasionally recited like religious incantations, but something to be deeply grasped and resolutely fought for— everyday, everywhere, among all sections of the people. And you have to basically ask yourself: Look, what is objectively the importance of this new synthesis of communism? What is objectively the importance of this leadership? And it gets back to the “As long as” sentence. (The “As long as” sentence refers to the understanding that, as long as we are basing ourselves on, and actively propagating and working toward, the goal of communist revolution, then it should be easy to promote and popularize the crucial role of BA’s leadership and the new synthesis of communism he has brought forward.) Do you really understand what’s being said there? Do you really understand what’s embodied in this new synthesis? Do you really understand what this leadership represents? And therefore do you go out among the masses of people to struggle with them about this, in a way that flows out of that scientific understanding and not out of religiosity? This is something very important for the masses of people to know about and to take up, to themselves become active fighters for, and to apply actively as part of the overall collective process of the revolution.

I want to read something important which we all can cite but we really need to, once again, struggle with people to deeply grasp and recognize the significance of this. The following is from the first of the January 1, 2016 Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party (It says “U.S.A.” but I’m just going to say Revolutionary Communist Party—No U.S.A, No U.S.A.—anyway, let’s get serious here, although I was serious about that, but anyway, to continue...) It says:

As Bob Avakian himself has emphasized, the new synthesis:

represents and embodies a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has existed within communism in its development up to this point, between its fundamentally scientific method and approach, and aspects of communism which have run counter to this.

And:

What is most fundamental and essential in the new synthesis is the further development and synthesis of communism as a scientific method and approach, and the more consistent application of this scientific method and approach to reality in general and in particular the revolutionary struggle to overturn and uproot all systems and relations of exploitation and oppression and advance to a communist world.

Now, is that important or not important? It depends on what you’re aiming for, what you understand, once again, about what the problem is and what the solution is. Sometimes people say... I saw somebody, a minister, quoted somewhere making a positive comment but he had to, of course, start it off with a slightly snarky, negative comment: While I don’t understand all this devotional stuff about BA, I have to say these revolutionary communists are everywhere, they’re always everywhere—I wish we could be like that. I’m paraphrasing, but he was saying: I wish we were as consistent and always there in the struggle.

Well, by the way, you are the one who deals in the devotional dimension of things. You are part of inventing a god, elevating something above human beings so you can engage in devotion toward it. That’s not what we do. But in any case, I don’t want to be snarky in turn. The point is, how do you understand why it is that the communists, when they’re actually acting with the method and approach and the line they should, are consistently out there fighting on all these different fronts—around the 5 Stops, for short—in opposition to this whole system? Why are they doing that? Because they have a scientific understanding of the problem and solution, for short.

And what does this “devotional element”—which must not be religious devotion, but science—what does this have to do with that? Once, again it’s back to the “As long as” sentence. Is it important that—is it true, first of all, that this science has been qualitatively developed, that there’s been a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has run through communism from the beginning up till now? Is that true? And is that important? The answer is yes and yes. But that’s the basis on which people have to really take this out and struggle with people about it. This is monumentally important to people—that there’s a more consistently scientific approach to understanding why people are in the situation they’re in and what must be done to get to a radically different situation which is liberatory, which is emancipating. If you approach it with religiosity and religious incantations, you’re not going to: A) convince anybody; and more fundamentally, you are actually undermining the very essence of what this is all about. Because it’s about science, and it’s not about religion.

And I want to go to the Sixth Resolution, where it speaks to the fact of BA being subordinate to the Party in one dimension but greater than the Party in another, and that the latter aspect is principal. Once again, we’re back to: what is the importance of what’s been brought forward here? There’s a unity between Resolution 1 and Resolution 6. I mean, there’s a unity between all of the Six Resolutions, but there’s a particular unity between Resolution 1 and Resolution 6. Why is this new synthesis important? How should we present this to people? To use a perhaps over-used but still valid analogy, imagine when Pasteur came forward and said: “I’ve developed something that will prevent people from going through the terrors and the horrors of rabies.” And people said: “Well, you can’t do that. Everybody knows there’s always going to be rabies, people are always going to have rabies. If you get bitten by a dog or a wild animal, you’re going to have rabies. What are you talking about?” Imagine if people had that attitude towards somebody that brought forward an actual way to deal with rabies so that people weren’t put through the whole... I mean it’s a horrific thing, rabies. Imagine if that were the attitude: “I don’t have to think about that.” Or imagine, in relation to the smallpox vaccine (and millions of people in the history of humanity suffered and died from smallpox) or the fact that the plague could be dealt with by antibiotics now, and it was a terrible scourge on humanity—imagine if when those things were brought forward people said: “I don’t care about that. Besides, you can’t do that. Everybody knows people will always get smallpox. It’s just the way it is. It’s human nature, people get smallpox, and there’s nothing you can do about it. So I don’t have to find out about your supposed vaccine that deals with rabies, or your vaccine that deals with smallpox.” Or imagine the Salk vaccine, dealing with polio— that was another scourge on people. Imagine if people said: “I really don’t care about that. Why are you making such a big deal about this guy Salk and the fact that he did something about polio? Everybody knows you always are going to have polio. That’s just the way it is. Children are going to go out to swim in water and they’re going to get polio—that’s just the way it is. You can’t do anything about it.” Imagine if people... I know there are people full of idiocy now about vaccines, including people who should know better, but imagine if that had been the reaction to these kinds of breakthroughs in medicine.

Well, we’re dealing with a much, much greater scourge on humanity than even these terrible diseases. And we’ve identified it—it’s capitalism-imperialism. And there’s an answer to it. It’s not some magic potion, but there’s an answer to it. There’s a way forward out of it. Is that important to the masses of people? Or can that also be dismissed in a flippant way, this irresponsible way: “People are always going to...society is always going to be like this...people are always going to be like this. It’s just human nature. This is the best of all possible worlds.” Or: “It’s no good, but you can’t do anything about it.” Why should we—when we’re talking about something that’s a road forward out of a much greater scourge for humanity than even those terrible diseases—why should we not be impatiently and vigorously struggling with people about that, if that’s what we run into? Or even the people who are not coming from such a bad place—masses of people out there who don’t even know what the problem is, they’re caught up in it and suffering terribly as a result of it, but they don’t know what the problem is. You know, it’s no different than people centuries ago who thought—and some of this still exists in the world today—people who thought that these terrible diseases were the result of demon possession, or whatever, because the Bible told them so. Or the religious authorities told them so. All these terrible ways in which ignorance was imposed on people in a way that reinforced the most horrific conditions of life that they were subjected to as a result of real material forces of the system they were forced to live under. Masses of people out there are going through all this horrific suffering—and on top of it, they don’t even understand what it is and why they’re going through it. And all too often they’re led and misled to blame themselves on top of all the rest of the horrors.

Is it important what we have to bring to them? Is it important that there’s not some magic solution or magic wand you can wave, but there is a road of struggle to deal with this scourge of humanity? Is it important that these things like the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic, like the strategic approach to revolution, like an understanding of the relation between the struggle in one country and the worldwide struggle, like an understanding of how all these different 5 Stops relate to each other and relate to the fundamental dynamics of this system, and how they all have to be taken on in a unified struggle, that you can’t eliminate every form of oppression but one—is that important to people? Is that important to the people, not just in this country, but the people of the world? This is the question that has to be answered, and there is an answer to it. It’s extremely important, and people have to go out there and fight for this on nothing less than the basis of that scientific understanding, not with religiosity which leads them to drop it as soon as somebody challenges them, or lets these other people set the terms. There’s going to be lots of opposition, including from people who desperately need this, you know—the nationalism, “I don’t want to follow a white man, I want to follow somebody Black,” or whatever it is. And people have to be told: “Look, you don’t understand—we’ve never had leadership like this. This is something that we’ve never had before that we now have.” If you have a terrible disease you want to go to the doctor that actually might have a cure for this disease. And if it turns out that doctor is this nationality or this gender or that, well, so be it.

The question is: Are we going to find a solution to the terrors and horrors that people are being put through without even understanding why? That’s the way we have to go out to people. This is something we have that’s beyond anything that we’ve had before—way beyond anything we’ve had before. This new synthesis of communism, this scientific approach, what’s concentrated in that First Resolution and in the Sixth Resolution—the importance of that being fought for as the leading edge in building revolution in this country, and also as what is needed throughout the world for people to take up the fight for their emancipation—this is what we have to be grounding ourselves on. And if you do, then into play comes the “As long as” sentence: It’s not hard to go out and fight for this, if you actually are grounding yourself in what the problem is, what the solution is, what this is all about and what we’re all about.

This is critical in terms of the great challenge we face immediately before us—in an ongoing way, but acutely right now—forging a real revolutionary vanguard on the basis of the new communism. This is a contradiction and a challenge profoundly, that’s acutely posed now. We need a living, flowing OHIO, as we’ve described it, a process where people are moving forward from their first engagement with the revolution, through struggle and contradiction, and sometimes backward motion and forward again, toward actually becoming part of the vanguard of this revolution. We need to be continually bringing forward and recruiting into the Party new forces from among the basic masses, especially the youth, but also among students and intellectuals and other sections of the people, on the basis of the new communism and everything that it opens up and everything that it provides the path to, nothing else and nothing less.

So the final point I want to speak to is the interrelation and positive synergy, you could say, between bringing forward new forces, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the continuing Cultural Revolution within the Party at any given time to effect its radical transformation to really and fully becoming the vanguard it needs to be and to rise to the profound challenges that must be confronted, in an acute way now and repeatedly throughout the process of actually making revolution—aiming, once again, for nothing less than the emancipation of humanity with the achievement of communism throughout the world.

We have to correctly handle this contradictory relationship. We have correctly identified that the main way we’re going to revolutionize this Party is by bringing in new forces on the basis of the new communism and nothing else and nothing less. And we have to be understanding that as a strategic goal but also one which we have to make immediate further breakthroughs on now, and in an ongoing way, at the same time as we need to continue to carry forward the struggle within the Party as it is at any given time—and especially as it is, given the positive injections (so to speak) of these new forces on the basis of the new communism—the continuing Cultural Revolution to actually effect the radical transformation of this Party to more fully and really become the vanguard it needs to be. We are acutely put to the test around this now, because of everything we’re up against in the objective situation, including this fascist regime and the fascist forces it is mobilizing and unleashing, as well as the wielding of state power that it now has largely in its hands—not without contradiction, but largely in its hands. And the horrors, the even greater horrors, this is going to bring forward. All that on the one hand. On the other hand, and dialectically related to that, the fundamental understanding of the problem and the solution and the need for revolution as the North Star we continually are guided by, in every particular immediate struggle and phase of things, whatever they might be, including the present one. So we have to handle well this contradiction. But we have to recognize this is a real challenge that we have to take up. It can’t be relegated to a secondary thing, buried underneath whatever immediate tasks there are. As Mao said, so many deeds do cry out to be done. There are so many pressing tasks and responsibilities that we do have to take up and shoulder, because we have the basis to do so and, in the fullest sense, nobody else does—not because, again, we have some better human nature, but because we have a scientific method and approach and its further development through the new synthesis. So we do have to meet all these immediate challenges; but, at the same time, and dialectically related to that, mutually reinforcing in either a positive or negative way, is the challenge of bringing forward new forces to the Party and making that an active process, an active task in that sense—something we’re continually and consistently working on—at the same time as we’re also carrying out the process of leading with this and only this line, and insisting on this and only this line, and modeling this and only this line. This is the contradiction we have to handle well because, look, we can talk about all the things we need to talk about, we can figure out how to move around all the particular challenges we face, but even in order to meet those challenges, as well as more fundamentally in order to actually get to the point where a solution can be brought about to this system that continually spews worse horror after worse horror, requires an instrumentality that has the scientific grounding and methodology to be able to lead through all the complexity and difficulty and the very daunting challenges of all kinds, including the repressive challenges that are bound to come, in order to do that.

So I want to end by emphasizing that: This really has to be, increasingly and more and more fully, a party that is based on this, this new communism, nothing else, nothing less, with all the contradiction and struggle that this is inevitably going to entail.

 

 


 

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

Revolution #569 November 12, 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/569/bob-avakian-you-cant-change-the-world-if-you-dont-know-the-basics-4-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

You Can’t Change the World If You Don’t Know the BAsics

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

Every week, Revolution features one quote from BAsics, by Bob Avakian, the handbook for revolution. We encourage Revolution Clubs and other readers, everywhere, to take the time to discuss the quote—the whole quote—and to write us at revolution.reports@yahoo.com with accounts of these discussions, or thoughts provoked in yourself by reading the quote.

 

Basics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

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

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian is a book of quotations and short essays that speaks powerfully to questions of revolution and human emancipation.

Order the book or download the book in ePub format HERE

 

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Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

From RefuseFascism.org:

Our mission: Millions in the streets demanding In the Name of Humanity, Trump/Pence Must Go

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Our singular demand:

In the Name of Humanity, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

How does that happen?

Every fascist move by the Trump/Pence regime should be met by more struggle and involve more and more people and diverse political forces opposed to the moves of this regime. And this struggle needs to be aiming at and preparing for nothing less than driving out the whole regime through the non-violent massive struggle of people staying in the streets day after day, creating the kind of political crisis that could drive out the whole fascist regime.

[1] The most defining thing about the recent elections is that the fascist program of the Trump/Pence regime became more consolidated and its fascist social base was more fully unleashed. Pipe bombs sent to leading Democrats and CNN. A hideous antisemitic massacre. Racist murders of African-Americans. Vicious anti-immigrant lies of an “invading caravan” to be met by US Troops who Trump said should shoot if the refugees throw rocks. Trump whipping up his rallies – Nuremberg style. On top of two years of the regime eviscerating what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, banning Muslims, locking in a majority fascist Supreme Court, stoking violent white supremacy and xenophobia, hateful misogyny, and ripping up international alliances and ramping up the threats of war. The Trump/Pence regime and the forces within it have said they view this presidency as the “last chance” to secure their vision for this country. This will continue and grow worse – with Trump now firing Sessions, attacking reporters, doubling down on his racist nationalism – unless and until it is stopped by the masses of people acting in fierce and sustained opposition outside the confines of politics as usual.

[2] The Democrats winning a majority in the House did not change this. The Democratic opposition throughout the elections and Nancy Pelosi’s post-election speech, refused to confront Trump’s fascism, but instead normalized, accommodated, and then promised to collaborate with the regime that is bringing an American fascism. About the Democrats, it could be said: First they came for the Muslims, and I protested once and then let it happen… Then they came for the immigrants, and I voted for healthcare and stayed mum.” They are determined to maintain order – even if that is the order of fascism – rather than risk the instability that it would take to confront and drive out the fascist regime and the nightmare they are hammering into place.

[3] The people who hate and fear this whole fascist nightmare and direction must now ACT with great determination in the streets – while organizing to move tens of thousands and soon millions to join them in the streets – with sustained determination until we drive this fascist regime from power in the name of humanity.  This is why we are organizing a movement – aiming to bring hundreds of thousands and millions into the streets – to say: In the Name of Humanity, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

Refuse Fascism and others in San Ysidro, California, November 25, 2018, in support of immigrants as the U.S. shuts down the border crossing.

RefuseFascism.org issued a call for nationwide protests on the heels of the midterm elections, November 7 and 10. Protests were held in New York City, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Orange County (California), Philadelphia, San Bernardino (California), San Francisco, and Seattle. Here are initial photos we have received and gathered from some of those cities. Revcom.us will have more coverage in the days to come.



New York City, November 10, 2018


Chicago, November 7, 2018


Philadelphia, November 10, 2018


San Francisco, November 10, 2018


Santa Ana, California, November 7, 2018


Houston, November 7, 2018


Los Angeles, November 10, 2018


Los Angeles, November 10, 2018


Seattle, November 7, 2018

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/avakian/science/04ba-science...revolution-through-which-mode-of-production-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

The Science...Actual Revolution title image

Download PDF of entire work

Editors' note: The following is an excerpt from the new work by Bob Avakian, The New Communism. In addition to excerpts already posted on revcom.us, we will be running further excerpts from time to time on both revcom.us and in Revolution newspaper. These excerpts should serve as encouragement and inspiration for people to get into the work as a whole, which is available as a book from Insight Press. A prepublication copy is available on line at revcom.us.

This excerpt comes from the section titled "I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science."

Excerpt from the section:
Through Which Mode of Production

You know most people, especially if you get into more privileged strata in society, they just think things are there. You go to the grocery store, of course the shelves are full of things. Or you go to a video games store, of course there are video games there. You go to the mall, of course there are all kinds of stores with all kinds of stuff. But where does all this come from? How many people really think about where this comes from and how all this takes place? People just assume these things are going to be there, because somebody else, somewhere else, is doing all the work to produce all those things. And the question: What is the way in which that gets done, what is the mode of production through which all this takes place?—people don’t think about that or have no real understanding about that. But it’s fundamental, if you think about it.

There was a movie made a while ago—I didn’t see it, unfortunately, although people said it maybe wasn’t that great artistically, but it was making an important point. The title of the movie was A Day Without a Mexican. It was making the point: What if all the Mexicans, who are always slandered—and now there are people like Donald Trump aggressively putting out this slander—what if all those Mexicans stopped working for a day? What would happen? Well, you can expand that and say: What if all the people, all over the world, who produce and distribute all these things that people use every day, stopped working for a day or a week or a month? All of a sudden, people would say, “Hey, what the hell’s going on, the shelves are empty!” So this is something that is basic to society, not only that things get produced but how they get produced. What relations do people enter into in carrying out the production of things? In other words, we’re back to the relations of production, what relations people enter into in producing and distributing and transporting these things. Another way to say that, once again, is what’s the mode of production through which all this is done? That sets the basic terms for everything that happens in society. It isn’t everything that happens in society, but it’s the foundation and sets the basic terms for everything that happens in society. If you think about it, that’s pretty obvious, for the same reason that this movie was made. If people stopped producing those things, everything would grind to a standstill.

And if you try to do something in society that’s basically out of line with the mode of production of the existing system, then either you’re going to fail—or you’re going to have to make a revolution. So, more thinking should go on, more work should go on: Why is this true, that through which mode of production is the most important, the most fundamental question—not the only, but the most important and the most fundamental question—to be posed? When you’re taking up any kind of question in society, any form of oppression, anything that you feel needs to be changed, the most fundamental question is what is the mode of production that’s setting the basis and the ultimate terms and the ultimate limits for what can be changed and how?

As I have said, we’ve got to do the work—and, by the way, I’m not gonna do all the work here. A good part of what I’m doing here is posing questions which we’ll dig into, because we all have to do this work, and it’s no good if we have an attitude that somebody else, somewhere else, will do the work and we’ll just follow along. Everybody has to dig in and work on these things. If we are going to be serious, we all have to do this work. Yes, some of us have been at it longer, have more experience and have developed in certain ways to be able to do this, but we all are capable of doing this and we all have to throw in fully and do it. So, an important part of what I’m going to be doing here is posing questions. And this is a big question: Is it true that through which mode of production will any social question, including the oppression of women, be addressed, is the most fundamental question? And why is that true? I said a little bit about that, but I want to throw it out as a question for people to grapple with.

Contents

Publisher's Note

Introduction and Orientation

Foolish Victims of Deceit, and Self-Deceit

Part I. Method and Approach, Communism as a Science

Materialism vs. Idealism
Dialectical Materialism
Through Which Mode of Production
The Basic Contradictions and Dynamics of Capitalism
The New Synthesis of Communism
The Basis for Revolution
Epistemology and Morality, Objective Truth and Relativist Nonsense
Self and a “Consumerist” Approach to Ideas
What Is Your Life Going to Be About?—Raising People’s Sights

Part II. Socialism and the Advance to Communism:
            A Radically Different Way the World Could Be, A Road to Real Emancipation

The “4 Alls”
Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right
Socialism as an Economic System and a Political System—And a Transition to Communism
Internationalism
Abundance, Revolution, and the Advance to Communism—A Dialectical Materialist Understanding
The Importance of the “Parachute Point”—Even Now, and Even More With An Actual Revolution
The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America
   Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core
Emancipators of Humanity

Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution

One Overall Strategic Approach
Hastening While Awaiting
Forces For Revolution
Separation of the Communist Movement from the Labor Movement, Driving Forces for Revolution
National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution
The Strategic Importance of the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women
The United Front under the Leadership of the Proletariat
Youth, Students and the Intelligentsia
Struggling Against Petit Bourgeois Modes of Thinking, While Maintaining the Correct Strategic Orientation
The “Two Maximizings”
The “5 Stops”
The Two Mainstays
Returning to "On the Possibility of Revolution"
Internationalism—Revolutionary Defeatism
Internationalism and an International Dimension
Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way
Popularizing the Strategy
Fundamental Orientation

Part IV. The Leadership We Need

The Decisive Role of Leadership
A Leading Core of Intellectuals—and the Contradictions Bound Up with This
Another Kind of “Pyramid”
The Cultural Revolution Within the RCP
The Need for Communists to Be Communists
A Fundamentally Antagonistic Relation—and the Crucial Implications of That
Strengthening the Party—Qualitatively as well as Quantitatively
Forms of Revolutionary Organization, and the “Ohio”
Statesmen, and Strategic Commanders
Methods of Leadership, the Science and the “Art” of Leadership
Working Back from “On the Possibility”—
   Another Application of “Solid Core with a Lot of Elasticity on the Basis of the Solid Core”

Appendix 1:
The New Synthesis of Communism:
Fundamental Orientation, Method and Approach,
and Core Elements—An Outline
by Bob Avakian

Appendix 2:
Framework and Guidelines for Study and Discussion

Notes

Selected List of Works Cited

About the Author

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/569/pittsburgh-synagogue-massacre-donald-trump-and-the-rise-of-anti-semitism-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

The Pittsburgh Synagogue Massacre, Donald Trump, and the Rise of Anti-Semitism

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Précis: The October 27 massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was not just “the latest mass shooting,” or even the latest act of right-wing political violence. With these murders, a virulent undercurrent of anti-Semitism has burst on the scene. Millions of people were shaken deeply by this act, which awoke memories of the terror of the Nazi Holocaust during World War 2 in which six million Jews were murdered.

This anti-Semitism is not coming from nowhere. It is deeply rooted in Western/Christian history and culture, deeply bound up with white supremacy in the U.S., and now being actively cultivated and unleashed by Trump and other leading Republi-fascists, particularly in the midst of the sharp struggle around the recent midterm elections.

Anti-Semitic forces, and anti-Semitic ideology, are today a key component of the Trump/Pence regime’s strategy and vision to “Make America Great Again.” The synagogue massacre portends the possibility of much more violence to come, and the specter of American Brownshirts increasingly terrorizing various oppressed and demonized sections of the people. But this in turn has the potential to awaken many, many people to the extreme danger to humanity represented by this regime. The following article digs deeper into what is going on now, how it is connected to the ascendancy of Trump and the conscious machinations of those around him, and the particular poisonous role of anti-Semitism.

****

On October 27, a Saturday morning—the Jewish Sabbath—a gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh shouting “All Jews must die,” and began murdering people.

An hour later, 11 were dead, six others wounded. Among the dead: a couple who had been married at Tree of Life 60 years ago; two intellectually disabled brothers who came early every week to warmly greet worshippers; a doctor who, in the early years of the HIV-AIDS epidemic threw himself into treating people who were considered incurable, defying fear and stigma by embracing his patients when they left his office.

So many precious lives stolen, a community torn by loss, would have been painful enough. But this massacre hit like a deafening thunderclap amidst a growing storm of political violence that had been unfolding over the previous days (and still continues as we write this), amplifying the fear, sorrow—and anger—a thousand-fold

Just three days before in Louisville, Kentucky, a white man attempted to enter a Black church, and when unsuccessful, went to a nearby Kroger supermarket and killed two Black people, allegedly telling a white bystander who took out a firearm in response that “white people don’t kill white people.” And for a full week before that, pipe bombs had been showing up at homes and offices of top Democratic leaders, particularly prominent Black figures (Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Maxine Waters, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker); CNN (the news outlet frequently attacked by Donald Trump); and three wealthy liberals who were either Jewish or of Jewish descent; and others.

Cesar Sayoc, the alleged bomber, is a fanatical Trump supporter.

There have in fact been a growing number of acts of political violence by Trump supporters1 almost from the day Trump declared his candidacy in August 2015: mosques bombed, immigrants, Black people and anti-racist white people, beaten or murdered, Jewish cemeteries desecrated.

And all of this has been fed by the hateful and violent rhetoric of Trump himself as well as other Republican leaders who demonize immigrants as “rapists and criminals,” denounce journalists as “enemies of the people,” demand that leaders of the Democratic party be jailed, and, increasingly, allude to dark conspiracies of wealthy or powerful figures like George Soros (a billionaire donor to liberal causes), Mike Bloomberg, Janet Yellen (former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank), Lloyd Blankfein (former CEO of the Goldman Sachs investment firm)… all of whom “just happen to be” Jewish.

As the Republi-fascists battled with other sections of the ruling class over the just-past midterm elections, both the volume of racist and conspiratorial rhetoric from the top and the violence of racist action from below jumped to a shocking new level. Yet even in the wake of the mass bombing plot, Trump scaled up his hate speech. After officially condemning the bombing campaign—in a monotone statement that looked and sounded for all the world like a hostage video—Trump’s mass rallies and campaign ads featured shrill denunciation of the very people and institutions who were targeted by the bombs, as well as outrageous fear-mongering about the thousands of refugees seeking safety in the U.S.

This was a conscious move to further freak out and rev up his base, seeking to create an existential fear of Trump’s foes and of the unknown, and thus a spirit of being ready to act violently to “defend their way of life.”

Generally this frenzy of fear-mongering was presented in the media as a way to drive Trump’s hardcore base to the polls, but this is not the essence of the matter. Trump certainly wanted to win this midterm election battle, both to help consolidate his control of the government and to give his regime more of an aura of legitimacy. But the fascists have power now, and are not going to willingly give it up—nor back away from their drive to consolidate a fully fascist regime—regardless of the election. A fear-driven, angry and increasingly violent base was as much a means to assert, maintain and further consolidate power in the wake of an electoral setback as it is a way to win an election victory, and the mixed result of the election doesn’t change that.

The Low-Steady Drumbeat of Anti-Semitism Takes Center Stage

With the attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue, and with the Republicans intensifying campaign against George Soros and other prominent Jewish liberals, the low back-beat of anti-Semitism that has been there all along has leaped to the forefront, raising the specter of past terrors. People very broadly—and very correctly—are sensing that the beast of fascist violence is being ever more fully empowered and unleashed.

Voicing the fears of many, a 91-year-old survivor of the Nazi’s genocidal murder of millions of Jews in Europe during World War 2, told the New York Times, “This kind of evil makes me think of the Holocaust …”

In fact, anti-Semitism has been a consistent, if somewhat below-the-radar, thread in Republi-fascist rhetoric and fascist violence from the start, even if it was somewhat less prominent than the screaming racism directed at immigrants and Muslims.

During the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s campaign tweeted a meme lifted from a white supremacist web site that depicted Hilary Clinton, piles of money, and a Star of David (a symbol of the Jewish people). Then, not long after Trump took office, he issued a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that condemned the Holocaust, but “neglected” to mention the murder of six million Jews, and later defended this by saying that lots of other people were killed by the Nazis. Similarly, a few months later Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, made a statement that “Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,2” or at least not “on his own people”… when in fact Hitler used chemical weapons to murder millions of Jews!

All of this amounted to anti-Semitic dog whistles, meant to validate two key tropes of anti-Semitism: that wealthy Jews run the world, and that the Holocaust either didn’t happen, or is greatly exaggerated. These dog-whistles were heard loud and clear by neo-Nazi forces, like Richard Spencer, who had spoken to a rally celebrating Trump’s election by giving the Nazi salute and shouting “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory.”

And anti-Semitic attacks have also been escalating. Between August 2015 (when Trump launched his campaign) and July 2016, Jewish journalists, particularly those perceived as being critical of Trump received 19,000 anti-Semitic tweets from 1,600 users.3 Many of these were extremely vile—for instance, photoshopping the journalists’ faces onto pictures of Jews in concentration camps, or threatening to kill their children. There have also been many incidents of desecrations of Jewish cemeteries, or spray-painting swastikas on cars and buildings in Jewish neighborhoods.

And in the most shocking incident prior to the Tree of Life massacre, in August 2017, hundreds of white nationalists staged a torchlight march through Charlottesville, Virginia, evoking Hitler’s Brownshirt thugs, attacking counter-protesters, upholding the enslavement of Black people and chanting “Jews Will Not Replace Us.” The next day, one of them drove a speeding car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. And in the wake of this, Trump insisted there were “very fine people… on both sides”—equating the neo-Nazi murderers with people courageously opposing them!

But Trump Can’t Be Anti-Semitic…

Many people argue that “Trump can’t be anti-Semitic, because his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren are Jewish.”

But Trump’s personal inclinations are beside the point. We can be pretty confident that Trump doesn’t personally believe Vice President Mike Pence’s Christian fundamentalist mumbo-jumbo, nor spend his evenings studying the Bible. But he has fully embraced the Christian fascist movement—and been warmly embraced by it—because it is integral to his fascist program and vision of “Making America Great Again.” And in a different way, the same is true for the ideology and forces of anti-Semitism—whatever Trump’s personal views and relations, they are a necessary component of the fascist reorganization of U.S. society that Trump is spearheading.

It is also argued that Trump and the other Republi-fascists “can’t be anti-Semitic” because they so strongly support the Jewish state of Israel in its genocidal attacks on Palestinian people. But this support has nothing to do with concern for Jewish people (much less Muslims!). No, it is grounded in the role Israel plays in the world for the U.S., in particular as a bastion for its domination of the Middle East as well as the Christian fanaticism of a section of Christian evangelicals—the Christian fascists of whom Mike Pence is a key leader. These evangelicals hold that the return of Jews to the land of Israel, the restoration of Israeli land exclusively to Jews, and the rebuilding of the First Temple built by King Solomon, will signal the beginning of the “End Times.” Then comes the “Rapture” in which the souls of true Christians will be lifted from earth and welcomed into heaven. According to this sick fantasy, those Jews who convert to Christianity may be part of this Rapture. As to those who remain Jews, they will be “wiped out and sent to hell” for all eternity! Hardly an affirmation of the rights and humanity of Jewish people!

But to really understand the Trump regime’s attitude towards Jewish people, it is necessary to look at the intractable contradictions that the system Trump heads up confronts, and the approach of Trump and a whole section of the U.S. ruling class to resolving them.

Internationally, the U.S. has been unable to nail down control of key regions like the Middle East despite a series of devastating wars of empire, and is increasingly being challenged for world domination by China and other big powers. Domestically, decades of economic change and trauma have gutted the middle-class, leading to widespread alienation from the system. Women have surged into the workforce and increasingly demand to be treated as full human beings, and LGBTQ people have come out of the shadows, both of which threaten the entrenched structures of patriarchal authority which have historically cohered U.S. society and ruling class power. And demographically, the U.S. is heading rapidly towards being majority non-white, which threatens the essential pillars of white supremacy that have been central to U.S. social and economic structure since its foundation.

Trump—and Pence and their whole regime—represent a section of the imperialist ruling class that believes that the way to respond to this is through the forcible recohering of U.S. society around open white, male, Christian domination, and the violent battering down of all who oppose or stand in the way of this, including women, “minorities,” liberals, and other ruling class forces. Then, on that locked-down and fanatically white Christian nationalist footing, this section advocates a hyper-aggressive approach to both allies and challengers internationally, including the threat—or actual use—of nuclear weapons to advance U.S. interests.

To carry this out, these ruling class fascists are relying on and unleashing backward sections of the masses who feel shaken and threatened by the big changes of recent decades, who yearn for an imagined “good old days” when white male privilege was exalted and not questioned; sections who also yearn for the “security” of an authoritarian leader blessed by the so-called representatives of the Christian god; and “vaccinated” against critical thinking by the U.S.’s piss-poor education system and indoctrination by Christian fundamentalist fanatics.

But here’s the problem—the ideology, and many or most of the organized forces of fascism, white supremacy and “Christian identity” in the U.S. that the regime is relying on, are intimately bound together with the ideology and forces of anti-Semitism. You can’t unleash the one without unleashing the other.

The Ideology of Anti-Semitism, Internationally and in the U.S.

Anti-Semitism historically has very deep roots in “Western Civilization,” going back to the Middle Ages when Christianity was the state religion throughout Europe, and a major current of Christian doctrine blamed Jews as a people for killing Jesus Christ. For centuries hundreds of millions of people grew up steeped in this hateful ignorance, and this was the basis for waves of persecution in which hundreds of thousands of Jews were tortured, exiled or murdered in Europe.

And in more modern times, the “theory” of an international conspiracy of Jewish bankers who pull the strings on all governments and run everything has been extremely useful to all manner of vicious and oppressive regimes. The “virtue” of anti-Semitism to the various kings, czars, capitalists and imperialists that have promoted it is that it funnels the anger of people on the bottom of society, as well as the fear and insecurity of people in the middle classes, away from the system that is responsible for the condition of society, and towards an oppressed minority. And because many Jews (for a variety of historical reasons) are in visible sections of the middle or even upper classes—in the arts, in academia, in business and so on—and some are even part of the ruling capitalist class, anti-Semitism can present itself as “punching upwards” towards the “elites” and the “powerful”… while actually protecting the system as a whole and the class that runs it. It’s easy to see how this synchs perfectly with Trump’s so-called “populism.” (For a deep and scientific analysis of the roots and history of anti-Semitism, go here and here.)

In the U.S.—which was built on a foundation of the enslavement of Black people, the genocide of Native people, and the plunder of Mexico and Latin America, and which still depends on the brutal oppression of all of these groups—one form of “the international Jewish conspiracy” that anti-Semites frequently rail against is the notion that Jews are conspiring to “dilute” the “purity” of the white race, so as to weaken and dominate it. This “theory” combines an utterly contemptuous view of Black and Brown people (as unable to organize and fight for themselves), with a vision of Jews of almost supernatural, “demonic” power to control everything, from civil rights organizations to Hollywood movies to newspapers and TV stations.

This was a major theme in the racist opposition to Black people’s struggle for civil rights in the 20th century. For example, in the 1940s, J.B. Stoner, a former Klansman, formed the Christian Anti-Jewish Party, which held that a wealthy Jew “spent $30 million financing organizations and writers that promote mongrelization [i.e., integration]. A race once mongrelized is mongrelized forever.”

Another example: in 1966, in an interview in Playboy magazine, George Lincoln Rockwell, the head of the American Nazi Party said that “the only world that [Jews] could rule would be a world of inferior beings. And as long as the white man is pure, they cannot succeed. But when the white man permits himself to be mixed with black men, then the Jews can master him.” When the interviewer pointed out that the main organizations fighting for integration were led by Black people, Rockwell said: “They’re just the front men. The Jews operate behind the scenes, pulling the strings and holding the moneybags.”

What Trump and other ruling class fascists are promoting today is just an updated version of this: wealthy Jews are allegedly financing and pulling the strings on everything. Nowadays Trump rarely gives a speech that doesn’t feature attacks on the supposedly all-powerful George Soros. Trump claims that the women who protested the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court were paid by Soros. Rep. Matt Gaetz—a fanatically pro-Trump congressman—says that Soros is financing the caravan of Central American refugees heading to the U.S. that Trump calls “an invasion” and “a national emergency.” Rep. Kevin McCarthy—the House Majority Leader!—tweets that “We cannot allow Soros, Steyer and Bloomberg to BUY this election.” (Bloomberg, like Soros, is Jewish; Steyer is of Jewish descent.)

As Talia Lavin, who monitors neo-Nazi forces, notes: Soros’s “name has become a synonym for a well-worn anti-Semitic canard: the idea that Jews are malevolent fomenters of social dissent, agitators slyly funding and masterminding protest, seeking to undermine a white, Christian social order.”4

In this light, it is very notable that Bowers (the alleged Tree of Life murderer) was set off by the work of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), a 137-year-old group that originally helped Jewish refugees to the U.S., but which now helps people of many other nationalities. Bowers denounced the caravan of Central American immigrants heading to the U.S. as an act of “white genocide” (again, “diluting” the white majority in the U.S.) and, of course, funded by Soros! Just before the massacre, Bowers wrote: “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.”

IMPORTANT: The poisonous influence of anti-Semitism among the masses most oppressed by imperialism is not the subject of this article but cannot go unmentioned. Hatred of Jews as Jews has been propagated by Middle Eastern governments, Islamic fundamentalist and jihadist groups and trends, as well as movements among Palestinians, including the use of disproven and discredited anti-Jewish propaganda like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.5 Within the U.S., anti-Semitism has been fostered in particular by Louis Farrakhan, the reactionary nationalist who, not so coincidentally, also angles for a deal with Trump. The use of anti-Semitism directs masses away from the real source of the problem and from the real solution—revolution, and the emancipation of all humanity. Instead, it gives expression to the spirit of revenge and serves a program of getting over inside this system—for the “last” to try to become the “first” within a horrifically oppressive system and becoming just another capitalist ruling class with the “right” to exploit and oppress both “your own” and other oppressed peoples.

Unleashing Anti-Semitism—a Crime Against Humanity, a Danger for the Rulers, a Challenge to the People

It’s true that this anti-Semitism presents some problems for the ruling class—problems that in a sense are embodied in Trump’s own family and inner circle, which includes a number of Jewish people (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller, and others). And in a larger sense, Jewish people are a major part of the economic, political and cultural structure in the U.S., so any open embrace of anti-Semitism, much less the carrying out of the full genocidal program of people and forces like Bowers would give rise to enormous social strife, internal struggle in the ruling class, and economic and social disruption.

But it is also true, as already stated, that the white supremacy which is at the very core of what the fascist regime is doing is closely bound up with anti-Semitism. At least up to this point, it has proven impossible to “tease out” these elements, to unleash racism without also unleashing anti-Semitism… and in the face of that, the fascist regime has done everything it can to avoid throwing cold water on the reactionaries. And in fact, the more middle forces are repelled by Trump’s increasingly obvious racism, the more necessity Trump has to whip up the hard core of his base on an openly fascist and increasingly violent basis—not to “win elections,” but to develop an active fascist movement, including shock troops. But the more he does this, the more the fascist character of the regime is thrown in people’s faces, the more people who are targeted by this regime, or who just care about justice and compassion feel that they are threatened in an existential way, and may feel compelled to act decisively against the regime.

How exactly this will play out going forward cannot be predicted, but it is highly likely that there will be further escalation of white-supremacist and anti-Semitic violence. This underscores the extreme danger of allowing this regime to hold onto the levers of power, and of allowing this system to remain in effect. And it points to the great need—and basis—for bringing forward another way for the people in what is now the United States, and for humanity as a whole.

But the clock is definitely ticking…

 


1. See “Here Is a List of Far-Right Attacks Trump Inspired. Cesar Sayoc Wasn’t the First—and Won’t Be the Last,” by Mehdi Hasan, Intercept.com, October 27, 2018. [back]

2. Cited in the Guardian, April 11, 2017. [back]

3. Note that these figures are from a study by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), an organization which very wrongly lumps together incidents of actual anti-Semitism with sharp criticism of the state of Israel, and this may affect the accuracy of these statistics. Nonetheless, it is clear from many, many reports from targeted journalists that the overwhelming thrust of these Twitter attacks is in fact hatred of Jewish people and not criticism of Israel. [back]

4. “Conspiracy theories about Soros aren’t just false. They’re anti-Semitic.” WashingtonPost.com, October 24, 2018. [back]

5. A thoroughly disproven forgery first circulated in 1903 that claims to be the minutes of a meeting of international Jewish leaders plotting to take over the world, the Protocols have been widely circulated since, including by major U.S. capitalist Henry Ford, who distributed 500,000 copies, including at car dealerships, and by Adolf Hitler, who used it as a key justification for genocide. [back]

Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:

 

Watch it, spread it, fund it

Check out clips and audio of the film and Q&As

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it »


People honor the 11 victims of the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue with signs protesting Donald Trump, October 30. (Photo: AP)

Clearing Up the Confusion: Anti-Zionism Is NOT Anti-Semitism

The following is an excerpt from a revcom.us article from September, “Opposing Israel Is NOT Anti-Jewish: Major Fascist Moves to Suppress Criticism of Israel”:

Jewish people have been the victims of bitter discrimination and oppression for centuries, which took on monstrous levels culminating in the Holocaust when six million Jewish people were mass murdered in concentration camps. As an oppressed people, the Jews of Europe sought many solutions. For most this meant seeking integration into the larger society, and for many it involved getting into projects for universal human emancipation—that is, seeking an end to the oppression of the Jewish people as part of seeking freedom for everyone. For a minority it meant the Zionist movement, focused on building a separate Jewish nation-state for all Jews.

The establishment of this nation-state, Israel, with the backing of British and western imperialism, consisted of waves of ethnic cleansing, military, and paramilitary attacks against Palestinian villages aimed at displacing Palestinian people and then occupying and destroying Palestinian villages to make way for the expanding Zionist settlements. By December 1947, the Zionists began mass expulsions of Palestinians. This wave of terror, known as the Nakba (from the Arabic word meaning “catastrophe”), continued into the early months of 1949.

During the Nakba almost a million Palestinians were brutally forced from their land, villages, and homes, fleeing with only the possessions they could carry. Many were raped, tortured, and killed… Zionists claim that they are the original and indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, but the question is not which of the many Middle Eastern tribal and ethnic group lived on the land thousands of years ago! It is that for many centuries, Palestine was overwhelmingly occupied by Arab people (with a very small Jewish minority prior to the 20th century) and moreover that a Palestinian nation was formed and forged there with its own culture, language, economy, history and so on which was violently uprooted by Europeans—in this case Jewish Europeans—working in close political and military alignment with major imperialist powers. So it is ludicrous for the representatives of these European imperialist invaders to try and claim the mantle of an oppressed indigenous people fighting for their rights!

Opposing the crimes of the state of Israel is not “opposing Judaism” or Jewish people. Israel is holding two million Palestinians hostage in the Gaza Strip, which they’ve turned into an open-air prison. The Israeli military enforces a blockade, preventing any aid from coming in, leaving people without access to clean water and proper medical care, even resorting to storming ships that are bringing aid and shooting down the courageous volunteers. And to top it all off, they drop U.S.-made bombs indiscriminately, including on schools and hospitals, commit crimes against the Palestinian people which, if committed by another country, would be condemned internationally as policies of genocide, mass murder, and brutal occupation. Israel is not a solution to the age-old oppression of the Jewish people as Jews. And opposing the brutal crimes of the Israeli state is not discrimination—it is not only protected political speech, it is right and righteous.

Read more: Bastion of Enlightenment… or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/567/hurricane-florence-hits-the-carolinas-part-3-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

Hurricane Florence Hits the Carolinas:
A Natural Occurrence—An Unnatural and UNNECESSARY Disaster

III. Outlawing Climate Science to Serve Profit-Driven, Environmentally Destructive Development

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Editors’ note, October 29. This fall, intense storms, including Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Willa, and Typhoons Mangkhut, Jebi, and Yutu have battered countries in or along the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and caused at least 200 deaths.

Meanwhile, on October 8, two days before Hurricane Michael hit Florida, a new report by the United Nations’ leading body on climate science, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned that the climate crisis is not a far-off problem—it’s happening right now, and it’s accelerating more quickly and having more devastating impacts much sooner than previously understood. The report called for radical, “unprecedented” transformations starting immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels to prevent a global catastrophe. A co-chair of the group of 91 scientists from 40 different countries who wrote the report calls the next few years “probably the most important in our history.”1

In this five-part series on Hurricane Florence, we examine how the capitalist-imperialist system of today fuels such hurricanes and worsens the death and destruction, and start to grapple with why and how it would be radically different in a genuinely socialist society.

A 325-mile-long string of narrow sand islands—barrier islands—form North Carolina’s outer coast. These islands and their wetlands are breathtakingly beautiful, yet also extremely vulnerable to rising seas and devastating storms—as are many islands and coastal cities around the world, some home to millions of people.2

Hurricane Florence’s wind and storm surge hit North Carolina’s barrier islands on September 14, breaching sand dunes, inundating islands with sandy water, eroding, even washing away, some beaches, and dramatically changing the shape of North Carolina’s coast in some places.

People have a great need for recreation, natural beauty, leisure time—the question is how is that going to be done? Is it going to be driven by profit, in an environmentally devastating way that privileges access to those with the greatest means? Or is it going to be done in ways that preserve the natural environment and make it widely accessible to all?

Over decades, North Carolina has built up its precious, fragile barrier islands in ways that accelerate environmental degradation, make them more vulnerable to storms and put ever more people and animal and sea life in harm’s way.3

Why? Because it’s been enormously profitable to develop its coasts as a tourist destination, with homes, vacation homes and rentals, hotels and more.

North Carolina’s outer islands are facing some of the world’s highest rates of sea level rise. Yet their profitable development is so woven into the economic and social fabric of the Carolinas that North Carolina law forbids state and local agencies from using a 2012 North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission (CRC) report as a guide to coastal development. This report had warned that sea levels would rise by 39 inches—over three feet!—by 2100. (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects the oceans will rise by more than six feet, enough to wash over some barrier islands at every high tide.4) The legislature insisted instead that decisions be guided by unscientific, outdated “business-friendly” estimates that vastly understated this danger. The Democratic governor could have blocked the bill, but did nothing.

This year, South Carolina did likewise. Its legislature “changed the preamble to a 30-year-old law governing beachfront development,” the New York Times reports, “striking out a state policy of ‘retreat’ from the shoreline in the face of erosion and replacing it with a policy of ‘preservation’ of the beaches.” In short, keep building.5

Federal government recovery policies, including the National Flood Insurance Program, are also shaped by capitalism and its short-term, profit-driven horizons. In the wake of these monster storms they are encouraging (paying) people to rebuild in place rather than relocate to more environmentally safe and more sustainable areas, in order to maintain housing prices, and profitable developments and tourist industries.6

An analysis in the Pacific Standard found that federal recovery funding along the Carolina coast overwhelmingly favored owners of high-priced properties situated right along the beaches (and therefore more environmentally damaging and vulnerable), that rebuilding projects undertaken by the Army Corps of Engineers were explicitly shaped by profit-in-command criteria, and that all this reinforced white supremacy:

A ProPublica analysis of 16 North Carolina communities directly behind beaches that have received federal funds shows they're 94 percent white on average; a quarter of owner-occupied housing in these areas is worth more than $500,000 (compared with 7 percent in North Carolina as a whole)....

The Corps, tasked with managing flood risk across America, takes on engineering projects like building levees and renourishing beaches ostensibly because they prevent property damage from future disasters and lock valuable beaches in place. The Corps prioritizes projects that would prevent the most amount of damage per dollar spent. This tends to favor beach building in high-income communities full of pricey properties. The Corps generally funds projects only when the expected benefit is 2.5 times as high as the project’s cost. Poor communities can’t meet that criteria....

Andrew Kahrl, a history professor at the University of Virginia, said he couldn't think of a single project that primarily benefited people of color. His research shows how the historically black communities that lived along the Carolinas’ coast were forced out by developers and federal infrastructure projects, including some built by the Corps.7

The same is true of efforts to restore and “protect” beaches and shorelines through beach “nourishment” (bringing in tons of sand to replace what has been swept to sea), building artificial dunes and reinforcing beaches with rock piles and sandbags. First, these “fixes” are temporary and they can actually accelerate further erosion. “These projects also cause substantial ecological damage,” Mat Gendle writes in Greensboro.com, “as they significantly alter habitats for sea life both in the underwater areas where the sand is dredged and on the beach where the sand is deposited.”8

Nonetheless, since 1939, federal, state, and local governments have spent over $828 million to restock beaches in North Carolina alone, renourishing the same beaches over and over. (One, Carolina Beach, has been renourished 31 times since 1955.)

One environment group calls it “flood, rebuild, repeat.” MIT professor of meteorology Kerry Emanuel calls these “unnatural disasters—disasters we cause by building structures” in places vulnerable to devastating storms. This is the kind of lunacy—from the standpoint of humanity and the planet—that capitalism-imperialism gives rise to and perpetuates, over and over and over.

A Revolutionary Approach to Recreation, Meeting Social Needs, and Being Caretakers of the Planet

As we’ve touched on in previous sections, revolutionary socialist society would no longer be imprisoned within the parameters dictated by the economic and social relations of capitalism-imperialism. How would this new society deal with the challenges posed in regard to North Carolina’s barrier islands?

One important dimension of this would be the way the new society would treat precious natural spaces:

Land, waters, forests, minerals, and other natural resources are protected and managed as “public goods.” They fall within the scope of public-state ownership. Socialist-state ownership recognizes its responsibility to preserve the “commons”—the atmosphere, oceans, wildlife, and so forth—for all of humanity and for the future.9

The new society would also be making it a priority to “provide for the recreation of the people, and to encourage their appreciation for nature and sense of awe and wonder at its many and diverse manifestations...”—and this means all sections of society, including especially those who’ve largely been denied these joys.

Another dimension would be that the new society would promote and train the masses of people, including the formerly oppressed, in a scientific approach to understanding and changing the world, including through the educational system. This would both enrich “recreational” time, but also better equip growing millions to contribute to dealing with natural disasters and the environmental devastation bequeathed by the current system. Science-denying, know-nothingism, relativism, and “it’s in God’s hands”-type thinking would no longer be promoted by society’s most powerful institutions!

But still there would be extremely difficult contradictions and problems to deal with. In relation to the barrier islands, for instance:

In putting these contradictions before society and the masses of people, and fostering debate, discussion, and initiatives to address these issues, it would be important for communist revolutionaries to tap into and unleash the love millions of people have for the beauty of nature, their desire to save the environment, and their feeling that the outdoors, parks and so on should be shared by all.


 

1. See “United Nations’ Scientists Call for Drastic Action on Climate Change—The World Cries Out for Revolution,” revcom.us, October 15.  [back]

2. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that if temperatures rise 3.6° F (2° C), rising sea levels will flood coastal regions and Pacific islands. It is estimated that sea levels will increase 1.5 feet at these temperatures and that cities such as Miami and Shanghai will be largely submerged, along with a number of island nations around the world.  [back]

3. The rapid increase in the numbers of people living on or near the coasts—many directly in the path of hurricanes and storms—is a global phenomenon which has continued even as the growing danger of rising seas and warming air and water has been scientifically established. For instance, in 2010, 123 million people in the U.S.—39 percent of the population—lived in counties directly on the coasts. This is a 40 percent rise since 1970. This, too, has been shaped in many different ways by the overall workings of capitalism-imperialism.  [back]

4. “After Florence, barrier islands still doomed by rising sea,” Associated Press, September 13, 2018.  [back]

5. “‘It’s Back’: Underwater Yet Again, the Carolinas Face a New Reality,” Jack Healy, Richard Fausset, and Campbell Robertson, New York Times, September 18, 2018.  [back]

6. See “On the ‘Driving Force of Anarchy’ and the Dynamics of Change. A Sharp Debate and Urgent Polemic: The Struggle for a Radically Different World and the Struggle for a Scientific Approach to Reality,” by Raymond Lotta at revcom.us.  [back]

7. “After Florence, North Carolina Must Rebuild Vulnerable Beaches Once Again,” Pacific Standard, September 27, 2018.  [back]

8. “To preserve our beaches, North Carolina must rethink coastal real estate policies,” Mat Gendle, Greensboro.com, October 19, 2018.  [back]

9. From “Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development,” revcom.us, April 18, 2010.  [back]

10. “Among the Ruins of Mexico Beach Stands One House, Built ‘for the Big One,’” Patricia Mazzei, New York Times, October 14, 2018.  [back]

11. From page 80 of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.  [back]

Hurricane Florence’s wind and storm surge hit Nags Head, North Carolina, September 14
Hurricane Florence’s wind and storm surge hit Nags Head, North Carolina, September 14. Over decades, North Carolina has built up its precious, fragile barrier islands in ways that accelerate environment degradation and make them more vulnerable to storms. Why? Because it’s been enormously profitable. (Photo: AP/Gerry Broome)

"Not fit caretakers of the earth"

A clip from Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian" given in 2003. Watch the whole talk at revolutiontalk.net.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/517/american-crime-case-55-the-1994-north-american-free-trade-agreement-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

EDITORS’ NOTE: The Trump/Pence regime has attacked NAFTA as a “job killer” and a “bad deal” for America. This demagoguery covers up the real truth about NAFTA, including whose lives it has actually devastated. Trump’s attacks on NAFTA are part of his campaign to target immigrants, whip up “America First” xenophobia, and make U.S. imperialism’s domination of Mexico and other countries even more ruthless and predatory. We encourage readers to share this installment of American Crime widely. It is essential reading in this time of Trump/Pence fascism.

American Crime

Case # 55: The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement—NAFTA (Part 1)

November 13, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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 focuses 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.

 

 


A “free trade” agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico known as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) was implemented in 1994 with much fanfare. In reality, NAFTA was a predatory treaty whose effect was to ratchet up the cruel and reckless plunder of Mexico and its people.  But the most damaging effects of NAFTA in Mexico lay in the changes it brought to Mexico’s countryside. There it inflicted vulture-like destruction to millions of small and medium peasant farmers, especially its corn farmers.  Here, Mexican farmers protest the end of import protections for their country's corn and bean crops in Mexico City, 2008. (Photo: AP)

 

The Crime: A “free trade” agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, known as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), was implemented in 1994 with much fanfare. The secretly negotiated 2,000-page treaty was touted as a measure to bring increased prosperity to the people of the three countries. In fact, NAFTA was a predatory treaty whose effect was to ratchet up the cruel and reckless plunder of Mexico and its people.

Under NAFTA, maquiladora factory “sweatshops” along the U.S.-Mexico border expanded dramatically. Within a short time after NAFTA’s ratification, more than 1,000 maquila factories employed a million workers, 75 percent of them women, in oppressive conditions producing cheap goods for U.S. manufacturers at a fraction of the wages paid to U.S. workers.

But the most damaging effects of NAFTA in Mexico lay in the changes it brought to Mexico’s countryside. There it inflicted vulture-like destruction to millions of small and medium peasant farmers, especially its corn farmers.

Corn is not only Mexico’s chief crop, it is almost synonymous with Mexico itself, part of an agricultural food system going back to the time long before the European invasion. Mexican farmers are highly skilled agriculturalists who, over time, and through careful selection methods, developed hundreds of varieties of nutritious corn adapted to the soils, climate, and other growing conditions in different parts of the country. These mainly small- and medium-size farms used the resources at hand to maintain soil fertility and healthy crops without resorting to artificial fertilizers or industrial poisons—herbicides and pesticides—common in modern capitalist farms. They were “organic” farmers before the term ever came into use. But in the eyes of NAFTA’s crafters in the U.S. and Mexico, Mexican farmers were backward and an impediment to “progress.”

Prior to NAFTA, and as prelude to it, the government of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari altered Mexico’s revolutionary-era constitution, which had protected peasant communal land known as ejidos. The change allowed these peasant farmlands to be sold, putting them at the mercy of market conditions.

Before NAFTA, Mexican farmers were an exploited population, but there were government subsidies for farmers and tariffs to maintain some price stability and protect farmers’ livelihoods. NAFTA eliminated these tariffs. As originally written and promoted, these tariffs were to be phased out over a 15-year period. But this did not happen. Instead tariffs were eliminated in the span of a few years, opening Mexico’s markets to a flood of cheap U.S. corn. As U.S. corn and other staples poured into Mexico, producer prices dropped as much as 70 percent and small farmers found themselves unable to make a living.

NAFTA’s promoters claimed that subsistence farmers would not be hurt by lowered corn prices since they did not depend on the market. This reflected a total—likely willful—ignorance. Even farmers able to subsist on their own production relied on the sale of corn to purchase products and services they themselves could not produce, like health care. These farmers’ lives were devastated.

At the same time, despite the influx of cheap U.S. corn, consumer food prices actually rose, including the cost of the crucial food staple of the Mexican diet, the tortilla. For example, in 1994 Mexico’s minimum wage (about $4.20 per day) bought 44.9 pounds of tortillas. By 2003 the minimum wage bought only 18.6 pounds.

Since NAFTA, U.S. and other corporations have gobbled up human and natural resources in Mexico on an almost unbelievable scale. Livestock production has moved from small farms for local markets to corporate producers like Tyson, Smithfield, and Pilgrim’s Pride.

Once NAFTA became the law of the land, millions of Mexicans joined the ranks of the hungry. Malnutrition is highest among the country’s farm families, who used to produce enough food to feed the nation. In post-NAFTA Mexico, 42 percent of the food consumed comes from abroad.

Before NAFTA, Mexico spent $1.8 billion on food imports. By 2011, that rose to $24 billion, as Mexico became dependent on imports of rice (80 percent), soybeans (95 percent), beans (33 percent), and wheat (56 percent). Mexico’s thriving dairy sector was devastated under NAFTA, and Mexico became the world’s number one importer of powdered milk, a factor that is linked to a crisis in infant malnutrition.

NAFTA increased the percentage of the population without access to basic food, and the number of Mexican children suffering from malnutrition rose to 20 percent.

In the first years of NAFTA, some 1.3 million Mexicans were forced off their land. The flood of workers into the cities caused a 10 percent fall in industrial wages. Female-headed households saw their poverty rate increase by 50 percent.

Suicide rates in agricultural states soared as a direct result of NAFTA’s destruction of farm life and the rise in poverty and hunger. The states of Campeche and Tabasco had suicides rates of 9.14 and 9.85 per 100,000 in 2005—almost three times the national average.

With the experience of hunger and malnutrition as an everyday reality and starvation a realistic possibility for themselves and their families, many farmers felt that they had little choice but to leave their farming lifestyle and head north to the U.S.

“Before NAFTA, everybody here grew corn. People didn’t make much money, but nobody went hungry,” according to Griselda Mendoza, 23, sharing common lore from her region of Oaxaca. She was born just after NAFTA was signed. As cheap American corn poured in, it had devastating effects on her family. Her father, Benancio, couldn’t compete. He had to give up and move to the United States for a job. He took up a job as a cook in Tennessee, saving up money to send home so his kids could attend school. “He went north looking for a job and I didn’t see him again for 18 years,” says Mendoza.

The architects of NAFTA actually foresaw the ruinous effects it would have on millions of Mexicans. Testifying before Congress in 1993, before the passage of NAFTA, INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) commissioner Doris Meissner stated: “Responding to the likely short-to-medium-term impacts of NAFTA, will require strengthening our enforcement efforts along the border both at and between ports of entry.”

“Strengthening enforcement” meant a dramatic increase in militarization of the border, the building of a border wall, and laws criminalizing immigrants that came in measures passed during the administration of Bill Clinton. Deadly conditions created by these repressive laws have lead to thousands of deaths and have kept millions of immigrants from being able to return for visits, effectively cutting them off from their homes and families indefinitely.

The Criminals:

President George H.W. Bush (1989-1993): Began negotiations to include Mexico in the recently signed “free trade” agreement between the U.S. and Canada.

President Bill Clinton (1993-2001): Pushed through the 1994 ratification of NAFTA with the active backing of the U.S. Business Round Table and major corporations and financial groups. Clinton claimed that the treaty would lift people in all countries. But starting in 1994, anticipating an increase in immigrants fleeing from the effects of NAFTA, Clinton’s administration passed several deadly and oppressive measures, Operation Gatekeeper (1994) and the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. Together these measures greatly increased the danger of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border and have led to thousands of deaths, massive deportations, and criminal treatment for millions of immigrants coming north from Mexico and Central America.

Mexico’s President Carlos Salinas de Gortari: Presided over Mexico’s NAFTA negotiations. Under Salinas, a member of the PRI (Partido Revolucionario Institucional) which had ruled Mexico since the late 1920s, the government altered Article 27 of the Mexican constitution to end protections of indigenous communal lands. This change allowed transnational agribusiness “to buy, rent, or enter into association” with communal landholders. This was a stepping stone to NAFTA. Salinas oversaw the privatization of Mexico’s telephone company and banks among a thousand other public entities, some at fire sale prices and to personal friends, and foreign—especially U.S.―capital. Salinas promoted NAFTA with the help of powerful Mexican business interests, claiming it would lift Mexico into the ranks of prosperous “first world” countries. But as his term ended in 1994, Mexico’s economy crashed and Salinas fled the country into exile in a fashion that reminded people of Porfirio Diaz, the infamous Mexican autocrat whose rule gave rise to the Mexican revolution.

The Alibi:

Largely negotiated under George H.W. Bush and passed during the presidency of Bill Clinton (after a trade agreement had been negotiated between the U.S. and Canada), NAFTA was touted as a great boon, to the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, benefiting ordinary people in all three countries through more and better jobs and greater prosperity. It was claimed that lifting of trade tariffs would create “a level playing field” allowing wages and living conditions to become more even over time.

The Real Motive:

Creating “a level playing field” and equalizing wages and living conditions was never NAFTA’s intent (nor was it possible under capitalism-imperialism).

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, George H.W. Bush used the phrase “the new world order” to signal U.S.'s intention to reinforce its military, economic, and political dominance in the world. NAFTA can be seen as a key component of this “new world order.”

NAFTA was designed to create a “free trade zone” to meet the challenges of global rivalry from the European Union, Japan, and rising economies in East Asia. The U.S. goal was to combine its financial and technical strength, along with Canada’s, with Mexico’s imperialist-dominated economy and government, and its large population of low-wage workers and poor peasant farmers. By lowering tariffs on imported and exported goods within the North American free trade zone, NAFTA sought to boost the U.S. economy by relocating some U.S. manufacturing to Mexico, where low wages, nonexistent environmental laws, and paltry worker protections gave these companies an advantage in the global game of profit accumulation. Ending tariffs allowed U.S. car manufacturers, for example, to off-shore their parts production and reduce the costs of their cars.

Corn farming in the U.S., unlike in Mexico, is the domain of huge agribusiness conglomerates employing highly capitalized and mechanized industrial farming methods. Under the guiding hand of agricultural monopolies like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), U.S. corn is grown on huge tracts of land using advanced technical methods to bring the cost of corn per unit down. Corn seeds are selected or genetically engineered, not for nutrition or local adaptation but for maximum yield at the lowest cost.

On top of this, U.S. government farm subsidies in 2000 were 10 times greater than the total agricultural budget of Mexico, and the U.S. corn sector is the largest single recipient of U.S. government payments. Thus, huge U.S. agribusinesses had access to U.S. corn surpluses at artificially depressed prices.

All this meant that U.S. corn could be sold at prices well below those possible from Mexico’s small farms. In the words of an Oxfam report on NAFTA: “Far from operating on a ‘level playing field’, small farmers in Chiapas and elsewhere in Mexico are at the wrong end of a steeply sloping playing field which runs downhill from the US Mid-West. They are competing not against US farmers, but against US taxpayers and the world’s most powerful treasury. It is difficult to think of a starker illustration of unfair trade in practice.”

So lowering Mexico’s tariffs on food opened it to more cheaply produced and subsidized U.S. farm products like corn, as well as other U.S. agricultural goods. And this meant potentially huge profits for corporate U.S. growers, eventual control of the food market in Mexico, and the devastation of over a million Mexican farmers just in NAFTA’s first years.

In addition to the destruction of corn farmers, NAFTA opened the floodgates to investment in other areas of Mexican farm production. Much of the investment that arrived went to buying up existing productive capacity, including livestock operations and storage facilities. The absorption of Mexican chicken production by Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride is an example.

Net exports from the northern part of Mexico grew after NAFTA, but that expansion paled in comparison with new imports of grain, oilseeds, and meat from the United States. After 10 years under NAFTA, Mexico was dependent on the United States for much of its food.

Under NAFTA the millions of small farmers and their families driven off the land were foreseen to become cheap labor in U.S.-owned factories in Mexico and in the fields and other work places in the U.S.

At an AFL-CIO convention in 1997, U.S. President Clinton, citing the challenge to U.S. economic hegemony posed by economic rivals, acknowledged that free trade was “about how 4 percent of the world’s people [the U.S] can continue to hold 20 percent of the world’s wealth.”

Sources:

Cockcroft, James, Mexico’s Hope. Monthly Review Press 1998

Fanjul, G. and Fraser, A, “Dumping without Borders: How US Agricultural Policies are Destroying the livelihoods of Mexican Corn Farmers.” Oxfam Briefing Paper. Oxfam International, Washington, DC, 2003

Krooth, Richard, Mexico, NAFTA and the Hardships of Progress. McFarland and Co., Inc. No. Carolina, London, 1995

Lopez, Ann, The Farmworkers’ Journey. UC Press, 2007

Nadal, Alejandro, The Environmental & Social Impacts of Economic Liberalization on Corn Production in Mexico. Oxfam, September 2000

Nevins, Joseph, Operation Gatekeeper and Beyond: The War On “Illegals” and the Remaking of the U.S. ‒ Mexico Boundary, 2002, second edition 2010

The World Post, “Nafta is Starving Mexico,” Lauren Carlsen, director of the Americas Program for the Center for International Policy in Mexico City

Patel, Raj, Stuffed and Starved. Melville House, 2012

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/520/american-crime-case-52-north-american-free-trade-agreement-part-2-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

EDITORS’ NOTE: The Trump/Pence regime has attacked NAFTA as a “job killer” and a “bad deal” for America. This demagoguery covers up the real truth about NAFTA, including whose lives it has actually devastated. Trump’s attacks on NAFTA are part of his campaign to target immigrants, whip up “America First” xenophobia, and make U.S. imperialism’s domination of Mexico and other countries even more ruthless and predatory. We encourage readers to share this installment of American Crime widely. It is essential reading in this time of Trump/Pence fascism.

American Crime

Case # 52: NAFTA (Part 2):
Deepening the Plunder and Domination of Mexico and the Exploitation and Oppression of Mexican Workers, Especially Women

December 5, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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 focuses 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.

 

 

Inside a maquiladora in Mexico.
By 1998 there were more than a million workers in 3,700 factories assembling electronics, clothing, toys, auto parts, and other products for sale in the U.S. As many as 75% of those hired in the maquiladoras were women, the majority 16 to 23 years old. (Photo: AP)

The Crime: The “free trade” agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, known as NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), was implemented in 1994 with much fanfare. The secretly negotiated 2,000-page treaty was touted as a measure to bring increased prosperity to the people of the three countries. NAFTA was, in fact, a predatory treaty whose effect was to ratchet up the cruel and reckless plunder of Mexico and its people. This mainly occurred through the rapid expansion of low-wage border “sweatshops” called maquiladoras. U.S. businesses have reaped enormous profits from hundreds of thousands of low-wage Mexican workers.

NAFTA was designed to allow the U.S. corporations to intensify their exploitation of Mexico and Mexicans. For example, NAFTA removed tariffs on goods crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. This greatly benefited the highly mechanized U.S. corporate agricultural businesses. NAFTA eliminated all taxes for goods, like electronics, brought into Mexico to be assembled and returned to the U.S. In the first year of NAFTA, nearly $100 billion of new direct foreign investment gushed into Mexico.

In the process, millions of Mexico’s small farmers and Mexican-owned businesses were unable to survive. Unemployment rose and wages for Mexican workers, already low, were driven further down. Mexicans from across the country, desperate for work, flocked to border cities like Juárez, Tijuana, and Nuevo Laredo to work in factories owned by corporations like General Motors, General Electric, Zenith, AT&T, and many others.

NAFTA provided the economic basis for non-Mexican companies, the majority of which are U.S.-based, to expand their operations or open new ones. Many were anxious to take advantage of the favorable “profit environment” in Mexico where wages were 12 times lower than those paid for the same work on the U.S. side of the border! By1998, there were more than a million workers in 3,700 factories assembling electronics, clothing, toys, auto parts, and other products for sale in the U.S.

As many as 75 percent of those hired in the maquiladoras were women, the majority between the ages of 16 and 23. Many were recent arrivals from rural villages and towns. The factory owners hired young women for their dexterity and youthful energy. But they were also preferred because, in societies (on both sides of the border) dominated by patriarchy and misogyny, women are more exploitable—could be put to work for long, exhausting hours, often with no breaks and very short lunch periods with pay lower than their male counterparts. As women, they are regarded as “supplementary income-earners.”

Ciudad Juárez is one of the largest concentrations of maquila factories. One-third of women working in Juárez apparel factories are heads of households. While women workers are vulnerable to manipulation by men in positions of authority, single mothers are especially so because their livelihoods and the well-being of their children are at stake. Mothers and parents rely on working extra shifts or overtime to earn enough. Factory supervisors are known to use this necessity as blackmail. For example, workers from one company complained that supervisors demanded a bribe of 50 pesos a week in order to be eligible for overtime. Workers who protested this kind of humiliating treatment were punished by being sent to a special work area known to the workers as “the prison,” or simply, “hell.”

Many maquiladora workers live in communities of makeshift homes of cardboard, cast off pallets, or packing crates from factories, or in shantytowns without indoor plumbing, electricity, or public lighting. Some make homes next to trash dumps. Their homes are frequently poorly insulated and dangerous. In winter especially, parents worry that children at home alone with a heater for warmth risk fire in their highly flammable structures. There is also the constant problem of food insecurity. Maquila wages are actually below the threshold of survival. A line operator, for example, as of 2015, made 650 pesos, $39 a week, in a place where food costs rival those on the U.S. side of the border. This forces working families into a constant struggle to provide for food and other necessities.

Workers in the maquiladoras are made to work around dust and chemicals that ruin their health, and have been known to cause birth defects. A study conducted in 1994 was the first to show that maquiladora workers gave birth to more lower-weight babies than women who worked in other industries. Their living places are often located near factories where environmental conditions are dangerous. Border residents are often exposed to extremely high air-pollutant levels, including high levels of carbon monoxide. Deteriorating water quality is another concern along the border. The promises made that provisions in NAFTA would guarantee protections for the environment have proven worthless. They have seen gradual deterioration in the urban communities where the factories are located as a result of the toxic waste from the maquiladoras.

Many companies subject women hires to humiliating pregnancy tests as a condition of employment. And women employees are warned that getting pregnant could cost them their jobs. Human Rights Watch documented cases of maquiladora personnel forcing pregnant workers to work unpaid overtime, assigning them more physically difficult work, or refusing them overtime in an effort to force them to quit.

Meanwhile, stories of predatory managers and supervisors using their power to extract sexual favors in exchange for a job or job security are widespread. Failure to comply or efforts to report sexual harassment can mean the loss of a job, of needed overtime, or other punishments. For women and their families, these can be life-and-death issues.

The economic and social conditions for women workers in Mexico’s border region are like scenes from a Hollywood horror movie. Since 1993, when women’s groups began to compile lists, at least 1,620 women and girls, many of them from Juárez’s maquiladora factories, have been kidnapped on the way to or from work. A great many have been raped, beaten, mutilated and murdered. At the same time, the rising rate of marriage conflict, child abuse, and domestic violence against women is a direct result of the stresses and social conditions of the maquila factory system.

Maquiladora companies have done little in response to the killings. Women still wait in the dark for rickety factory buses on lonely, unlit corners. And the murders have continued. Nor has there been any serious or credible effort to find the murderers. As a mother of one of the women who disappeared in the wave of female murders explained in a 2003 interview, “We’ve opened the big door, our border to the U.S., in order to allow big multinationals to settle in our city. We give them a permit to do absolutely anything. They don’t have to guarantee the most elementary aspects of life, from wages women can live on to basic service in our communities, or even just security.”

The Criminals:

U.S. President George H.W. Bush (1988-92): NAFTA was preceded by a bilateral treaty between the U.S. and Canada. Negotiations to expand that treaty to include Mexico began under the U.S. administration of George H.W. Bush.

Mexico President Carlos Salinas de Gortari: Presided over Mexico’s NAFTA negotiations. Salinas oversaw the privatization of Mexico’s telephone company and banks among a thousand other public entities. Some were sold at fire-sale prices to personal friends, and to foreign, especially U.S., companies. Salinas promoted NAFTA with the help of powerful Mexican business interests, claiming it would lift Mexico into the ranks of prosperous “first world” countries. But as his term ended in 1994, Mexico’s economy crashed and Salinas fled into exile.

U.S. President Bill Clinton (1992-2000): Pushed through ratification of NAFTA with the help of the U.S. Business Roundtable and other corporate backers. Clinton claimed that the treaty would lift people in all countries.

The Alibi: NAFTA proponents promised that the trade agreement would alleviate many of the problems along the border caused by the existing free-trade zone. NAFTA, it was said, would help to improve working conditions, improve enforcement of environmental laws, and decrease the high maquiladora concentration along the border.

U.S. President George H.W. Bush made clear his support for more free-trade pacts and linked the expansion of markets for American entrepreneurs and farmers with greater freedom throughout the world. He argued that more free trade between countries, regardless of the size and wealth disparities between trading partners, would lead to the expansion of civil and political freedom.

President Clinton said his support of the trade agreement rested on his confidence it would bring jobs and prosperity to all.

The Real Motive:

In the 1970s, U.S. corporations began moving their factories to low-wage countries to bolster profits and competitiveness. By 1994, U.S.-based transnational corporations (TNCs) employed 40 percent of their personnel in oppressed (or “Third World”) nations and conducted a third of their internal trade with affiliates in those nations.

Maquiladoras were first set up in the mid-1960s to take advantage of low-wage labor within easy access of the U.S. border. These borderland factories became a rich haven for U.S. and other foreign investors. Profits from these enterprises grew in importance for U.S. businesses in an increasingly competitive world.

Maquiladora factories became islands of modernity, enclaves of globalized economy distorting Mexico’s economic development and putting increasing control of the economy in non-Mexican hands.

The accelerated capitalist global competition that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rise of a more economically robust capitalist China, spurred U.S. moves towards even greater exploitation of people and countries. It renewed interest in Mexico, which, since 1848 has been a major source of wealth for U.S. capitalism. Mexico’s dependent economy and its “comprador” ruling elite allowed an open door for U.S. corporations to ramp up their penetration of Mexico’s economy.

The U.S. had long benefited from Mexican workers and the exploitation of Mexico and Mexicans, which has provided sustenance to an expanding empire. Thus NAFTA and the maquiladora system is both a continuation and intensification of the long history of the U.S. accumulating wealth from the plunder of its southern neighbor and a counterweight to the growing economic strength of the European Union, Japan, China, and other competitive countries.


Sources:

James Cockcroft, Mexico’s Hope, Monthly Review Press, 1998

Mexico’s Maquiladoras: Abuses Against Women Workers,” Human Rights Watch, August 17, 1996

Patricia Fernandez Kelly, “The ‘Maquila’ Women, NACLA Report

Sierra Jorgensen, “Maquiladoras and the Exploitation of Women’s Bodies

David Bacon, “The Maquiladora Workers of Juárez Find Their Voice,” Nation magazine, November 20, 2015

Elyse Bolterstein, “Environmental Justice Case Study: Maquiladora Workers and Border Issues

Gil Villagrán, “Maquiladoras, NAFTA’s Sweatshops,” May 2, 2009

Mexico: Wages, Maquiladoras, NAFTA,” Migration News, February 1998

Evelyn Nieves, To Work and Die in Juárez, Mother Jones, May/June 2002

Jessica Livingston, “Murder in Juárez: Gender, Sexual Violence, and the Global Assembly Line,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Volume 25, Number 1, 2004

Alana Semuels, “Upheaval in the Factories of Juárez,” Atlantic magazine, January 21, 2016

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/568/awtwns-brazil-after-the-elections-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

From A World to Win News Service:

Brazil After the Elections: A Pivotal Moment

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Revcom.us editors’ note: We encourage readers, in particular people in Brazil, to get into Bob Avakian and the new synthesis of communism he has brought forward, here—and also check out COMMUNISM: THE BEGINNING OF A NEW STAGE—A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which is available in various languages, including Portuguese.

November 2, 2018. A World to Win News Service. With the election of Jair Bolsonaro—who said he’d rather be called a Hitler than gay—Brazil’s electoral system has brought fascism to power. It would be hard to overstate the impact this will have on the country, the continent and the world.

In his victory speech, Bolsonaro tried to appear conciliatory, or at least more careful and “presidential” and not just a flame thrower whose only setting is full throttle. He described himself as “president of all Brazilians,” not just those who voted for him, and made a “promise, as a man before God” to respect “democracy.” These words were intended to undercut the “He’s not my president” sentiment already seething on social media and the streets, and keep it from becoming a mass movement to prevent him from taking office on January 1. This is a crucial moment, because experience with the rise of other fascist regimes shows that it will prove even harder to stop Bolsonaro once he normalizes and begins to consolidate a new regime.

Earlier that day Bolsonaro pledged, “The red outlaws will be banished from our country. It will be a clean-up the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history.” Brazil has seen “clean-ups” before. Bolsonaro is a former paratroop officer and current reserve army captain who has based his entire political career on his identification with the U.S.-backed military junta that ran Brazil from 1964-1985. But he intends to do more than simply rerun those terrible years when a generation was driven into exile or forcibly silenced. He has criticized the generals for “torturing but not killing,” for executing hundreds of people instead of tens of thousands. Among those who should have been murdered, Bolsonaro included, by name, three of the country’s presidents since then.

By “reds,” Bolsonaro means members of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party, or PT) for which almost 47 million people (about 45 percent of the electorate) voted; social reform movements like the Landless Movement (MST), hated by the country’s big landowners and cattle barons, now labeled “terrorists”; and “cultural Marxists,” identifiable by their “perverse ideologies,” meaning advocates of rights for gay and transgender people, women seeking to free themselves from the shackles of “family values” and anyone not conforming to the lifestyle of Catholic and evangelical fundamentalism, as well as environmental activists and those who, whatever their color, take pride in Brazil’s African heritage and demand respect for it. What many of his supporters hope will be his very first step—what they’re leaving football stadiums chanting—is to kill all homosexuals. Some men aren’t waiting for him to take office before violently attacking people on the street.

In the name of fighting crime, Bolsonaro is promising a whole new level of brutal armed repression in a situation where armored troops already occupy favelas (shantytowns) and hordes of police murder hungry kids in cold blood to keep them out of shiny shopping malls. He’s called for new laws to provide “judicial support” for anyone who kills with their service weapon. His promise to overturn restrictions on the right to own and carry guns is not a response to a felt need of the average “honest citizen,” as he claims, but a way to allow landowner goons to brandish and use whatever weapons they like to terrorize peasants, and similarly give official cover to private militias terrorizing slum dwellers.

In short, Bolsonaro is using the fact that he was elected to claim legitimacy for unleashing an unprecedented wave of repression against broad sections of the people. He may well move even faster than Trump in unleashing naked violence against many millions of people to install a long social and ideological night.

Bolsonaro intends to make a dramatic change in the state system through which Brazil’s ruling big capitalists and landowners have ruled the country for the last three decades, bourgeois democracy. This is a form of class rule where it seems as if the state were neutral, the people have their say through electoral processes and parliamentary institutions, and are protected by the supposedly independent judiciary and other government bodies, and the constitution with its supposedly guaranteed rights.

This may or may not mean he will abandon all pretense of bourgeois democracy. During the years when Brazil was ruled by generals (Bolsonaro has portraits of them on the walls of his office), congress continued to function within limits, with a legal, housebroken opposition party, and there were some elections. What Bolsonaro does depends in part on the necessities created by the unpredictable unfolding of events. He’s even floated out the idea of abolishing the current constitution and having a new one written up by his own appointees.

What’s certain is that Bolsonaro will determinedly pursue the implementation of a fascist program in the country and to brutally intimidate opposition. As for the Supreme Court, which some PT members and other people are counting on to enforce the current constitution and save them, one of his sons bragged that it would take no more than a “corporal and a soldier” at its doorstep to shut it down.

It’s also certain that the military will play a central role in the new set-up. In addition to himself and the freshly retired general who is his vice president, Bolsonaro named generals to key cabinet positions, including not only Defense Minister but even Education Minister. The latter’s task will likely be to “clean up” schools and universities by removing teachers and textbooks that don’t meet Bolsonaro’s approval. There will be special emphasis on crushing opposition to homophobia and the questioning of patriarchal gender roles, which he calls “teaching children to be gay.” Even before the election, police raided dozens of universities with the pretext that “No to fascism” banners constitute illegal partisan politics in public institutions. Students were encouraged to call the police if teachers discussed even apparently neutral political topics like “fake news.”

In fact, the military played a flagrant role in Bolsonaro’s victory. Many informed observers believe that he would have lost if he had had to run against the PT’s “Lula” da Silva (president from 2003-2011, who was still fairly popular when he left office). Earlier this year when the Supreme Court was considering whether or not to order Lula to prison even while his conviction for accepting the use of a renovated beach-front condo was still under appeal, so that he would be barred from running again, top commanders threatened that the army would step in if the courts failed to stop him.

What is new here in Brazilian history, and a terrifying development for the world, is the merging of the military and a fascist religious fundamentalist movement that has been built up to massive proportions.

The Fall of the PT and the Rise of Bolsonaro

This movement emerged almost overnight through many factors, including a widespread rejection of the PT for its corruption. This perception was largely created by rival, right-wing politicians later convicted of obscene self-enrichment schemes themselves. But disillusionment with the PT also came from the fact that it promised and initially seemed to achieve real change for the poor majority and significantly expanded the size of the middle class while Lula was president, but it turned out to be little different than the traditional parties. This was seen as not just a failure, but a betrayal.

Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff (president from 2011 until 2016, when her rivals had her impeached), found her government faced with a disastrous economic situation and fiscal crisis due in large part to the end of the international boom in oil and agricultural commodity prices that had allowed Lula to implement some welfare schemes. Rousseff took measures (like public transport price hikes) painful to most people, especially the poorest, and more openly resorted to repression. This was not due to a change of heart in the PT, but because the international imperialist-dominated market and capital trashed the party’s foundational lie, that the bourgeois state stands above the functioning of the capitalist economy and can be used to serve the interests of the masses of people. This view implies that the army, without which no state ultimately has any authority, is also something other than the ultimate protector of the interests of the ruling classes and the economic and social system they represent.

The PT’s electoral success was a crucial factor in successfully re-establishing bourgeois democracy after the years of military rule, helping ensure the continuity of the rule of the finance capitalists and landowners under both forms of state. In doing this, the PT also protected the military, which had organized the transition to bourgeois democracy. Aware of the danger of confronting the army, the PT preferred to stay away from the question of accountability, even though many of its founders, including President Rousseff, had been imprisoned and tortured under the junta. The PT’s 13 years as the governing party allowed many exploited and oppressed Brazilians, intellectuals and others who had been hunted by the junta or haunted by its memory to believe that the state is not a class dictatorship.

The corruption that was used to bring down Rousseff and demonize the PT was not just a product of self-interested cynicism fed by the falseness of its promises. It is the way electoral parties function under bourgeois democracy: by making deals in congress, building connections with powerful men, gathering votes however they can and raising the money without which elections can’t be won, all while tethering their supporters’ sights to the existing bourgeois framework. The rot came from the PT’s core, the conviction that whatever they do to get into office within this system is justified because otherwise worse people would govern.

Since then the PT has consistently done whatever necessary to demonstrate its loyalty to Brazil’s prevailing political and economic system. At every juncture it avoided confrontation with the right-wing forces out to destroy it, instead of calling out their increasingly fascist character and mobilizing people in their millions to stop them. It failed to heed the tens of thousands of PT supporters who literally surrounded Lula on the eve of his imprisonment, begging him to refuse to surrender to the authorities and instead to lead them in an all-out political battle in the streets. The party raised and then abandoned the slogan “Elections without Lula are a fraud,” because carrying through on that would have led towards stepping out of the electoral arena. The PT replaced the imprisoned Lula with the mild-mannered, self-styled centrist politician Fernando Haddad. It dropped the red flag that had always been false advertising and replaced it with the same official Brazilian banner raised by Bolsonaro, inscribed with the words “Order and Progress”. This is a flag that represents the continuity of the state and its armed forces since Brazil abandoned monarchy and outright slavery in the late nineteenth century.

There is a critical necessity right now to mobilize the many and growing numbers of people who deeply believe that what Bolsonaro represents is wrong no matter how many votes he got, and who would take tremendous risks to stop him from implementing a program they see as totally illegitimate. But instead of a movement like this that breaks from the normal channels of dissent, almost the entire political spectrum in Brazil that, like the PT, is continuing to oppose Bolsonaro now argues that refusing to accept his election as legitimate would mean rejecting “democracy,” and that this “democracy”—Brazil’s electoral processes, institutions and constitution—is the best hope for stopping him from doing what he promises to do. This is about as realistic as agreeing to be hanged with the hope that the rope might break. The judge who sent Lula to jail and enabled Bolsonaro to become president has just been named Justice Minister.

What Bolsonaro Represents

What does it mean that Bolsonaro adopted the paratrooper brigade slogan, “Brazil above everything and God above all”? Some people contend that he represents above all an economically driven phenomenon, an “authoritarian liberalism” (liberalism here meaning “free market fundamentalism” opposed to state intervention in the economy), where extreme repression is to be used to implement free market policies so that the rich can get richer. But the challenge Bolsonaro’s rise poses is far greater than this.

What we are witnessing are dramatic changes in Brazil’s system of governance and the country’s place in the international imperialist system.

Politics and economics are intertangled here. The U.S. helped carry out and strongly backed the 1964 Brazilian military coup not only because of immediate economic considerations, but its global strategic interests at the time. The same is true today. Bolsonaro intends to dismantle barriers to further American penetration of Brazil’s economy, and strengthen the U.S.’s hand against its rivals. He is very hostile to China and its powerful and rapidly rising economic influence in Brazil. He vows to work closely with the U.S. (and Israel) in every front. Despite official denials, the Brazilian army (joined by Colombia) could carry Bolsonaro’s war on “communism” to neighboring, much smaller Venezuela, and bring it more firmly under U.S. control. Trump, one of the first to call and congratulate Bolsonaro, afterwards announced, “Brazil and the United States will work closely together on Trade, Military and everything else!”

Brazil is the world’s fifth most populous country and eighth biggest economy. Bolsonaro dreams of it becoming an even more powerful regional power, rising in the world and as a junior partner to Trump’s efforts at more open U.S. supremacy, lording it over rivals like Argentina and smaller countries, with the prospect of a whole new volatility on the continent.

When men chant “Kill the homosexuals,” this is not mainly a matter of the rich trying to distract the poor and middle classes from their immediate class interests. It is a product of a religious fundamentalist outlook that is deeply embedded in class society and has become one of the defining features of today’s world. We are witnessing a global backlash meant to restore the reign of brutally imposed ignorance and soul-crippling traditional social relations, outlooks and values being challenged by changes in the economic and social structure of countries everywhere. There are all sorts of very important particularities, but the process is being driven most fundamentally by developments in the imperialist system as a whole (see Bob Avakian’s essay “Why Is Religious Fundamentalism Rising in Today’s World” from Away With All Gods! at revcom.us).

Bolsonaro sees these changes and challenges as an intolerable, mortal threat to the existing social setup, not least because Christian values have been basic to Brazilian society’s cohesion since the subjugation of the Indians and the kidnapping of Africans into slavery all the way through to today. His unexpected climb out of decades of political marginality in only a year, and his ability to draw on support from throughout society, including the most excluded people, couldn’t have happened without the proliferation of evangelical churches. The evangelicals, in turn, had the doors opened for them by the Catholic Church’s propagation of a superstitious and patriarchal worldview. Bolsonaro, a practicing Catholic, has also become a born-again Christian in the Evangelical mold. He personally embodies the two rival movements, one more traditional and formal and the other more recent and freewheeling, the Catholics focused on banning abortion and Evangelicals obsessed with eradicating homosexuality, that hold millions of Brazilian minds in their grip, even as fundamentalist forms of Christianity clash with new social realities and thinking, such as the breakdown of the traditional family and the widespread prevalence of different kinds of sexuality.

Now What?

Many millions of people can’t accept what Bolsonaro represents. Yet most look for leadership to reformist political forces who have conciliated with fascism over and over again for years now—and this is a big part of why he has been able to become such a literally mortal threat. There is both an urgent need and a possibility for new forces to rupture with the idea that the way to stop this fascist regime is to work within the normal channels—when it is exactly these normal channels that have led to the situation that Brazil is in today. A broad, increasingly mass movement is needed that is fiercely determined to stop him before it’s too late.

While there are differences in the situation of Brazil under Bolsonaro and the U.S. under Trump, people in Brazil urgently need to learn from the analysis by the architect of the new synthesis of communism, Bob Avakian, in his video presentation on the rise of the fascist Trump regime in the U.S. and the need to drive it from power (at revcom.us) and how this could be done, along with the scientific method and approach he employs in tracing the rise of the fascist trend in the U.S. in the two articles referenced at the end of this article. In country after country, like Brazil fascist forces are gathering strength—BA offers a case study of the U.S. for dealing with this in a way that actually offers hope for defeating the rise of these forces and opening up possibilities for revolution too, to get rid of the capitalist-imperialist system that has inflicted horrors on the oppressed of the world for generations, and is now preparing for even worse. Avakian has followed this with a video (also at revcom.us) just out in October on Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution—a presentation that should offer lessons to and inspire many others around the world.

Some people in the Brazilian ruling class (judging by the media they own) and the military, along with imperialist mouthpieces like UK Economist and others, are warning of the extreme danger to the system’s political stability in Brazil and more widely if Bolsonaro’s fascist gamble fails—if he is not able to consolidate a regime and, from their point of view, rule successfully. This is further evidence of the deep cracks in the enemy ranks, and that the success of this regime is far from certain. It is also an indication that waging and winning this battle to drive out this fascist regime could open up new perspectives for fighting for revolution.

Many corpses will pile up in vain if some people don’t break the chains of reformism and other kinds of wishful thinking that amount to waiting for something other than the conscious, courageous action of a growing section of the people to save the situation. The idea that “The people, united, will never be defeated” ignores that fact that the people are disastrously split and the question of the day is how to fight to unite all who can be united on a basis that corresponds to the most fundamental interests of the Brazilian people and humanity.

To most effectively fight Bolsonaro or any fascist current requires uniting as broadly as possible on that basis and continuously working to broaden those possibilities. It also requires encouraging and leading a society-wide emergency discussion about what kind of society and what kind of world people want to live in, with what kind of relations between people, based on what morals and values, what kind of system can allow that kind of world to come into being, and how to get there—and building a movement to do that.

 

On March 17, 2017, A World to Win News Service (AWTWNS) announced its transformation into a more thorough-going tool for revolution based on Bob Avakian’s new synthesis of communism. Read its “Editorial: Introducing a transformed AWTWNS” here.


Many millions of people in Brazil refuse to accept what Bolsonaro represents. Here students of the Rio de Janeiro Federal University protest a court order for universities to remove banners containing 'negative propaganda' against Bolsonaro, October 26. Photo: AP

 

 

“Why Is Religious Fundamentalism Growing in Today’s World”

Excerpt from Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World

by Bob Avakian

Available from Insight Press.

Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

A speech by Bob Avakian
In two parts:

 

Watch it, spread it, fund it

Find out more about this speech—and get organized to spread it »

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/569/open-letter-on-hype-surrounding-midterm-elections-en.html

Revolution #569 November 12, 2018

An Open Letter To Those Caught Up In—As Well As Those Disgusted By—The Hype Surrounding the Midterm Elections

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Look around you. The planet is burning beneath our feet; exoduses of refugees flee for their lives on nearly every continent; the drums of war, from East Asia to the Middle East beat louder; and all over, from Brazil to Poland, from the Philippines to Italy and, of course, to the U.S., fascists move toward, seize and/or further consolidate power.  

The capitalist-imperialist system is in a deep crisis. The world we know—which, for billions around the world has already been a living hell—is being shattered. Two blocs within the ruling classes in nearly every major power face off with radically different solutions. On one side, fascist forces who believe strongly that the old rules must be shattered and the old ruling strata either forcefully put in their place or, if need be, violently suppressed; and, on the other, the more or less “liberal” imperialist forces who have ruled these past decades. Two futures contend—each at bottom representing the old order of exploitation, oppression, violent domination of nations and war, and ecological devastation in the service of profit, with one “promising” to go at it even more blatantly and viciously and making progress doing so.

There is also, however, something else in the mix—something of vital, indeed existential, importance: a third future—a radical break with all camps of imperialism, a different society based on eliminating all forms of exploitation and oppression, overcoming the social relations, morality and ways of thinking that have been stamped on people by trying to survive in those societies, one that is as different from today as day from night. A future for the emancipation of humanity. There is today a highly developed vision and strategy and a leadership founded on a scientific method understanding the dynamics of society and how it could be radically transformed through revolution.

This is the context in which the recent U.S. elections took place, and this is the context in which they have to be understood.   

What the Trump/Pence Regime Was Fundamentally Doing in the Electoral Campaign: Aggressively Fighting to Push Forward Fascism

First point: the Republicans, led by the Trump/Pence regime (and don’t be so righteously upset by Trump that you underestimate the role of Pence and his Christian fundamentalist legions) campaigned more fiercely than ever as fascists. The media call it by the polite—and normalizing—euphemisms of “populism” or even “white nationalism,” but let’s not mince words here. Trump and the people around him campaigned in an even more openly fascist way than they did in 2016. His daily rallies, televised to the faithful on Fox News, were festivals of racist and anti-immigrant agitation, saturated in white-racial and U.S. chauvinism. They flaunted a proud ignorance (and indeed a hostility to reason) and a morality combining patriarchal piety and me-first money grubbing. Think about it: for the last two weeks before the election, Trump campaigned by pointing to a caravan of desperate immigrants as “invaders” and summoned 6,000 armed troops (still there, by the way) to stop them; he attacked and insulted his opponents, especially his Black opponents; and he trafficked in dog-whistle code-worded anti-Semitism.  

By the end of the campaign, pipe bombs were being sent to prominent opponents of Trump (including ex-presidents, Black politicians, and major donors to the Democratic Party of Jewish heritage), a horrific and explicitly fascist-inspired massacre went down in a Jewish synagogue, and report after report of racist badgering of Black people—including the murder of two Black people at a Kroger store by someone allegedly professing white supremacist ideology—filled the media.

Meanwhile, some commentators couldn’t understand why Trump and the other Republicans weren’t campaigning on the “strong economy and the fact we weren’t at war.” These commentators miss that Trump had a different objective in mind: while such a campaign might have actually picked up a few extra seats in Congress, it would not have served the aim of mobilizing, firming up and further hardening his fascist base: it would not have further broken the norms and constraints of “(capitalist-imperialist electoral) politics as usual”; and it would not have delivered a strong message that more fascist policy was to come. Trump was not “making up” a crisis like the caravan of immigrant invaders to win Congress so much as he was building a movement and solidifying his hold on Congress, the courts and all the levers of power to consolidate fascism.

Other commentators misanalyzed Trump’s rampage in the week following the elections—saying that he was trying to “change the subject” from the Republican loss of the House. While electoral concerns may enter into things, there are larger objectives in play. In fact, his appointment of a thuggish and loyal hack as his acting attorney general, in an obvious move to sidetrack the investigation of his ties to Russia; his attacks on the press, and singling out prominent Black women journalists as well as CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, who dared demand an answer from Trump on his immigrant-bashing; his claiming of electoral victory while threatening Democrats over ballot counting in several states; then his flying to Europe and further taking a hammer to the alliance with the imperialist partners-in-crime of the U.S., all served different elements of fascist consolidation. They don’t get, or don’t want to convey, that this regime is further gearing up, clearing its decks, and cohering its base for battles to come. To do that, he is  “doubling down” on what Bob Avakian called “... the triad of fascism, that is, the unapologetic aggressive assertion of white supremacy, male supremacy and American supremacy (or racism, misogyny and bellicose xenophobic jingoism, if you want to use other terminology), reinforced with defiantly—not apologetically, defiantly—ignorant and belligerent opposition to science and rational thought, combined with equally ignorant and belligerent assertion of the ‘superiority of western civilization’...” (See Part 1 of “The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us” at revcom.us.)

What the Dems Were Doing: Opposition Within the Bounds of Normalization + Conciliation = Collaboration

Second point: The aim of the top Democrats was to “check” Trump by making gains in Congress, while confining the opposition to Trump within boundaries safe to the overall system. To be clear, the main Democrats do see Trump as very dangerous—to them and to their beliefs as to how to best maintain and preserve the system they preside over and how best to secure the imperialist interests of this ruling class in its ceaseless struggle to dominate and brutally exploit the entire world.   

These top Democrats were joined in this by more than a few prominent Republicans, including some who “served” in the George W. Bush regime—a regime which itself carried out egregious violations of rule of law, including torture and suspension of habeas corpus, and a murderous war in Iraq, which killed literally hundreds of thousands of people and turned millions into desperate refugees. Even some of these people openly called on people in 2018 to vote against the Republicans. The breadth of this opposition is one element showing the sharpness of the divide “at the top.”

At the same time, an extraordinary number of “everyday people” poured tremendous energy and “moral investment” into electing Democrats to Congress because they are bitterly opposed to Trump. These millions were instructed nightly on CNN, MSNBC, and most every mainstream and “progressive” media propaganda and organizing machines that this was the only meaningful way to resist. Different things entered into this with different people, but the main reason was a deep-going visceral opposition to the fascism embodied in the Trump/Pence regime, often but not always spelled out as such by the people themselves, but certainly in regard to one or most of its grossest manifestations.

But the Democrats were determined to a) never mention anything remotely touching on the actual fascist character of the regime, and b) refused to seriously challenge Trump (and his whole regime) on the grossly outrageous attacks on immigrants embodied in Trump’s rantings on the caravan, the overall racist hatemongering, the continued disgusting patriarchy along with his attacks on the right to abortion and birth control, let alone his even greater militarism and jingoism than the Democrats.* For many, voting for the many women candidates, as well as Muslim, gay and transgender candidates who ran as Democrats, felt like a rebuke to the regime and all it stood for; and in a way it was, but neither most of these candidates nor certainly the Democratic Party as a whole took this on frontally.

Instead, the Democrats hammered single-mindedly on health care. This is tantamount to mounting an election campaign against Hitler in 1934, say, and making your main point that his road-building program could be improved. To take it to the present day: Think about what it means that prominent Democrats have not drawn a line and declared that a president who champions the honor of the Confederacy and blatant white supremacy cannot legitimately serve as president—that to do so would be the same as the compromise made with the slave owners in the U.S. Constitution.

The question is, why? And here, too, this does not reduce to a narrow electoral calculus. Imagine if the most prominent Democrats were to actually call Trump out as fascist—in other words, if they called him out for what he really is. Imagine if they told the truth, even as they understand itthat this faction headed by Trump and Pence is setting out to remake the whole society in fascist ways, with truly horrific potential consequences.  

Well, then what? Then they’d have to admit that people really did have to get out there and put something on the line to resist this; for horrific as imperialism is, fascism takes that to another level of intensity in the severity of its attacks on masses, especially of the oppressed nationalities (as we see today) and in the relentlessness of its repression (including the more or less full evisceration of the legal and civil rights associated with the rule of law in this system, as limited and routinely violated as those rights may be under the ordinary workings of capitalism-imperialism). Such an admission could begin to point to questions as to the system that turns to fascism as a way out in times of severe crisis.  

And what happens when people do get out in the streetsincluding the kinds of people whom the Democrats paid such attention to roping into the system through the elections, in particular Black and other oppressed “minority” nationalities (Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, etc.), women, LGBTQ people, Muslims, etc.? Things can get out of control of these Democratsin the sense that once awakened to struggle, people can become more eager to search out answers to WHY we’re in this mess, and less likely to be bottled back up if their demands are not met. 

So, despite their sharp differences with and real concern over the direction of things, they are even more concerned to, as much as possible, keep all this within the bounds of “proper norms”when those very norms are being undermined and abolished, a point which Bob Avakian drives home in this audio clip.

To get a sense of this, just listen to what the top Democrats say now, after they won some seats and have a clear majority in the House of Representatives. “We’re going to show we can govern,” they say. They’ll “work with” Trump and negotiate with him—that is, they’ll go even further in normalizing the monster, further in not just accommodating to, not just conciliating with, but collaborating with the openly racist fascists who are still, yes, running the show.   

And look at the great efforts of the Democratic leadership now to keep even their own Congresspeople in line. Look at the editorial in the New York Times the day after the election, counseling Nancy Pelosi to make sure that Democratic committee chairs in the House don’t go “wilding” against Trump. (See “The Elections Just Past, The Future We Face, And The REAL Revolution Humanity Needs”) Think about what it means that the Times actually repurposes a racist code-word from the 1980s that was used to frame up the Central Park 5 in New York (a frame-up which Trump leaped to the fore of, calling for the death penalty for five teenagers later proved to be innocent of all charges) to tell Pelosi to make sure that nothing develops which could in any way even come close to upsetting the applecart. (See here and here for more on Trump and the Central Park 5.)

People like Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Democrat now heading the House Judiciary Committee, goes on TV to say that he won’t impeach Trump “because it would tear the country apart.” Again, think: if this is fascism, and it is, then wouldn’t “tearing the country apart” (politically speaking, which seems to be what Nadler means) be worth it? Was it worth it to end slavery? Yes, by the logic of the masses of slaves, by those who opposed slavery for other reasons, and by those looking at the interests of humanity as a whole. 

And remember, top Republicans like Newt Gingrich openly make analogies to the Civil War in terms of the kind of change that they are preparing for. This is NOT to say that it would take a civil war to drive out this regime; that is not in fact what is on the agenda right now when this horror to humanity could still be prevented by massive, nonviolent civil disobedience, millions in the streets protesting every day and night until their demand that the whole regime must go is met—an approach which has in fact worked in a number of countries around the world during this past decade. This IS to call attention to the kind of struggle and the willingness to go all-out that the fascist section of the ruling class is preparing their followers for.  

To pursue Newt Gingrich’s analogy just a bit further and to return to the logic—and morality—of those who fought to end slavery: President Lincoln, by contrast to those masses, did NOT enter the Civil War to end slavery but to preserve the union. But what got unleashed by the war itself, along with the necessity Lincoln faced in order to actually win the war, forced him towards the Emancipation Proclamation. By analogy today, a massive push from below—but ONLY a massive push from below—could change the whole equation at the top of society as well, and a way found to compel the fascist regime to “step down.” To be clear, we are not talking about the Civil War as any kind of immediate step; we are responding to what all forces see as a situation in which the whole society has been highly polarized on basic questions of morality and politics, and responding to the analogies being made by others.

Even the prospect of what is on the agenda right now—massive, sustained, nonviolent civil disobedience—is heavy. But think again what it will mean if this fascist regime gets bolted fully into place, with the costs already being incurred by humanity and future generations going to a whole other level.

... And What Will You Say to the Future Generations?

Which leads to the third and fourth points we want to make: on the immediate goal to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, as well as the larger and more fundamental need to make revolution, to bring in a whole new world.  

On the first point: there is time to reverse this juggernautbut there is not much time. And there is a way to do it as well—but that way is hard and will require people to get out of their comfort zones.

To those of you who put your hopes in the Democrats, if you are now inebriated at their “great victory,” if you think that somehow this shows there is “still goodness in the soul of America”—then you were played. To go back to Malcolm X, you were bamboozled. And, to too great degree, many of you bamboozled yourselves. These leaders have made clear to you that they are not going to challenge Trump in any meaningful way. They made it clear during the election campaign, and they are making it even clearer now; and all the posturing by people like the “socialist” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who herself did not utter the truly forbidden “f-word”) does not change that.  

So, again, there is still time to change this, to reverse this fascist juggernaut... but there is not much time. Any day could witness some international incident that could serve as a pretext for making a leap in the evisceration of the rule of law or worse; or there could be no pretext at all. Think about it: while the top Democrats dither over how to show they can “govern” (read: how to show they can wrest crumbs out of a fascist regime) and take care to make sure that their investigations don’t go over certain limits, Trump continues his assaults on things like birthright citizenship, the right to vote, the judiciary, and so on... again, all just in the past week!

What will future generations—if those future generations even exist—say to you when you explain that you knew there was a way to get rid of the regime but it was very risky, it wasn’t guaranteed, and it might well have required you to change a lot about your life... so you tried to take a safer path?

And, yes, there is a way to change this... but it is a hard way. It means facing the truth about this country and its real history and social fabric, and the truth about what it will actually take to drive out this regime. And it means actually taking it to the streets, in nonviolent civil disobedience, small at first but with the aim of awakening and bringing forward millions. Right now, it means going everywhere and both struggling with people to get out of this framework which the Democratic leadership, MSNBC and the rest are jamming you into AND taking action against the outrages being perpetrated by the regime as part of the fascist offensive, even if small at first. And most of all it means finding the ways to get the demands of Refuse Fascism—This Nightmare Must End: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America—which many, many people either agree with in their hearts or would agree with it if they heard about it, into the public square and the public debate.

Again, in that context, in the context of millions saying NO! in the streets, then the very real and very serious differences between the fascists and their mainstream bourgeois opposition can come into play as part of a struggle to drive him out. In that context, conflicts over something like shutting down the Mueller investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russia could become part of advancing a whole larger struggle, in the interests of the people and for what is needed: not just the supposed constraining of but the very real driving out of this regime.

A Whole Differentand Far Better—System Is Possible: Get Into BA!

The fourth and most essential point is this: this fascist juggernaut didn’t come out of nowhere; it is the creature of a very specific economic and political system. It’s been building for years as a response to very deep-seated and now sharpening contradictions in the kind of society we live in—capitalism-imperialism—and the form of rule which, much as this is covered over, is in essence a dictatorship of this capitalist-imperialist class. The democracy of this country is a democracy founded on and conditioned by the needs of the ruling strata of this country—for its first eight decades, the slave owners and capitalist classes; and since then, the capitalist-imperialist ruling class, stretching its tentacles worldwide. The civil and legal rights, which are important to defend, are nevertheless rights hemmed in by what serves or at least does not conflict with the needs of this system. These normal workings create the illusion that “we are ruling ourselves”—when in reality, we at most have the power to elect which representative of the ruling class will pursue its interests and defend its form of rule over the masses of people worldwide and over us. And when the system enters into deep crisis, as it has now, even the limited rights that do exist can be scrapped by those in power and blatant dictatorship can be instituted. For the ruling strata, fascism is preferable to a revolution that would do away with their system. 

But whatever the form of rule, the actual power is in the hands of a small class of capitalist-imperialists. So ask yourself: why are we locked in such a system in which we are told we can only choose between blatant and more democratic forms of dictatorship? Why do we face, continually, the built-in outrages and horrors so deeply woven into this society of the genocidal mass incarceration and overall oppression of Black, Latino, and Native people; the persecution and demonization of immigrants; the degradation and oppression of women; the invasions and occupations of other countries; and the insane plunder and destruction of the environment by capitalism?  

Yes, all these are being made far worse and more intense by the Trump/Pence regime—but why do we accept them at all? The Democrats have no answers for any of that—other than, in some cases, to enforce these basic oppressive relations slightly differently. So let’s not only struggle against the regime, as important as that is—let’s actually get into the work that has been done by Bob Avakian to dig deeply into the source of the problem we face and to dig into the solution he’s brought forward: the blueprint for a whole different society in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and the strategy he’s laid out for making an actual revolution, in the new film Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.

Getting into this work, getting into this solution, should ground people further in the need to enter into and push forward the fight against this regime. Those drawn to and taking up and beginning to fight for this third future—the emancipation of all humanity—need to be constantly engaging and challenging people as we do from the deepest understanding of where this problem came from... what is the solution to that deep underlying problem... and in that light the real seriousness of the threat posed by this regime and what must be done now to drive out the regime now pushing forward so furiously. The more that revolutionaries bring this to bear, the broader the numbers of people that can be brought forward and the deeper the unity that can be forged.

These are momentous times. Will you, will we all, live up to the challenge they pose?

 

* On this last point, certainly one of the most disgusting things in the campaign was the way in which the Democrats preened themselves on running ex-military and ex-CIA people and glorifying their “service to the country”—that is, their participation in criminal wars of aggression against oppressed peoples. [back]

Bob Avakian—Speaking Last Summer on Fascism

From the Q&A following the speech Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution

 

September 2017:

Talk by Bob Avakian

The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us

The following is an important talk given by Bob Avakian in 2017.

Read talk                 Listen

 

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