revcom.us, October 14, 2019 through October 20, 2019 (#617)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/refuse-fascism-call-en.html

| revcom.us

#OUTNOW!

#OUTNOW!

We demand:
THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO – NOW!

Into the streets Saturday, November 16

MASS DEMONSTRATIONS, In cities and towns across the country, take to the streets with the demand:
TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW!

Everyone who is anguished and outraged by what the Trump/Pence regime is doing, join us in the streets on Saturday November 16 with signs and banners with the single unifying demand: Trump/Pence Out Now!

You, your school, your place of worship, your community, your organization, your cause, needs to show that people in this country are determined to stop the Trump/Pence regime from doing further damage to the people and planet NOW! The way to remove this regime is by sustained mass non-violent protest. Around the world people are taking to the streets in continuing protests demanding regime change – inspiring all of us with hope through their determination to show up week after week until they win. We can do no less here.

November 16 is the culmination of 4 weeks of launching the #OUTNOW! Movement. The purpose of these 4 weeks has been to launch, to model, and to forge a beginning force to inspire and cohere a movement with determination and unity for one goal: the removal of the Trump/Pence regime—now!

Spread the word of 11/16. Organize friends, your group, your cause out on 11/16. Let's show people in this country and the world: we will not adjust to the injustice and crimes of Trump & Pence. We will come out again and again until this regime is gone.

 

The Trump/Pence regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity. Concentration Camps on the border... environmental devastation accelerated... the danger of war, even nuclear, threatened... white supremacy rules... fascist mobs and racist mass murderers... truth and science erased... the right to abortion near gone... the rule of law and democratic and civil rights are stripped away... THIS IS FASCISM UNFOLDING.

Now, impeachment has begun. A momentous move, in which sharp political battle lines are drawn with high stakes. Trump himself threatens charges of treason and even invokes civil war. A virulent fascist movement sees their future bound up with the whole Trump/Pence regime. Where this ends up depends on us.

This is a moment when we – people of many different views and experience – must act together in mass, sustained, non-violent nationwide protests that continue until the Trump/Pence regime is removed from power. We begin with protests in NYC and LA on October 19 that announce four more consecutive Saturdays of protests in cities and towns across the country that gather more people and momentum so that in the weeks and months that follow, the movement grows to tens and hundreds of thousands and millions. What unifies all the diverse streams of people that need to pour into the streets is the single demand: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go—Now!

For 3 years the Democratic Party leadership facilitated the Trump/Pence regime, even voting funds for border security when children were being separated from parents. Now, they want to restrict impeachment only to national security and Trump's violation of democratic norms to try to enlist Ukraine to undermine U.S.  elections. They have said they will not impeach on the whole array of fascist outrages. Thus far, they are not going after the whole fascist regime. Their approach would legitimate the whole Trump/Pence fascist program, leaving the cancer in place to grow more dangerously, especially if his Christo-fascist VP Pence is then allowed to take the presidency. Moreover, Trump has threatened that he may not leave office.

To “leave things to the Democrats” or wait til 2020 would be extremely dangerous. The only way to stop Trump and Pence and advance every struggle for justice is by the power of the people in the streets.

The world as we have known it is being torn asunder. We must cast off fear and passivity, and not allow our differences to stand in the way of rising together in the unprecedented, unrelenting non-violent mass #OUTNOW! protests to drive out the Trump/Pence regime.

We must seize on the impeachment crisis now erupting, taking history into our own hands and turning dread for the future into a force for hope!

Puerto Rico and Hong Kong show us how:
#TrumpPenceOutNOW!

In the Name of Humanity,
We Refuse to Accept a Fascist America

@RefuseFascism     venmo @refuse-fascism
RefuseFascism.org

Click here for PDFs of printable flyers

For much more about #OUTNOW, visit RefuseFascism.org


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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/606/bob-avakian-individualism-beb-and-the-illusion-of-painless-progress-en.html

The following is taken from a recent talk given by Bob Avakian

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

| revcom.us

 

Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

This work is the edited text of a talk given in the spring of 2019, and the following section (“Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of ‘Painless Progress’”) has been published (posted at revcom.us) beginning in the summer of this year.  In late September 2019, Nancy Pelosi (and the Democratic Party leadership of which she is a prominent representative), after a prolonged stubborn insistence on refusing to impeach Donald Trump, reversed course and announced that an “impeachment inquiry” of Trump would be undertaken. This reversal was hinged upon—and Pelosi and Company have made an attempt to focus this “impeachment inquiry” overwhelmingly, if not solely, on—the revelation (stemming from a report by a government “whistleblower”) that Trump has been involved in an effort to pressure the government of Ukraine to do Trump the “favor” of digging up (or “cooking up”) dirt on Joe Biden, former Vice President (under Obama) and a leading contender for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidential election in 2020.  Pelosi and the Democrats have identified this as an abuse of presidential power, in pursuit of Trump’s personal interests (particularly looking ahead to the 2020 election) and have given emphasis to their insistence that, in making this “favor” the basis (and the price) for the continuation of the U.S. military aid to Ukraine, in its confrontation with pro-Russian forces, Trump “undermined U.S. national security,” particularly in relation to its major adversary Russia.  In other words, while, from their bourgeois perspective, their concern is very real in regard to the imperialist “national interests” of the U.S., the “norms” of how this system’s rule has been imposed and maintained, the importance to them of a “peaceful transition” from one administration to another through elections—and the danger posed to this by Trump’s trampling on these “norms”—Pelosi and Company, in focusing this “impeachment inquiry” on this narrow basis, have underlined the fact that they are acting in accordance with their sense of the interests of U.S. capitalist imperialism and its drive to remain the dominant imperialist power in the world, and that they continue to refuse to demand Trump’s ouster on the basis of his many outrageous statements and acts directed against masses of people, not only in the U.S. but internationally:  his overt racism and promotion of white supremacy and white supremacist violence; his gross misogyny and attacks on the rights of women, including very prominently the right to abortion, and on LGBT rights; his repeated calls for and backing of intensified brutal repression and suppression of dissent; his discrimination against Muslims and his cruel targeting of immigrants, involving confinement in concentration camp-like conditions, including for those fleeing from persecution and the very real threat of death in their “home countries” and seeking asylum on that basis, and the separation of even very young children from their parents; his assault on science and the scientific pursuit of the truth, including denial of the science of climate change and continuing moves to undermine and reverse even minor and completely ineffective protections of the environment; his threats to destroy countries, including through the use of nuclear weapons—in short, his all-around drive to fully consolidate fascist rule and implement a horrific, fascist agenda, with terrible consequences for the masses of humanity

While, as of this writing, it is not clear what this “impeachment inquiry” will lead to—whether Trump will actually be impeached in the House of Representatives, and what will happen then in the Senate to determine whether he should be convicted and removed from office—it is already clear that the way in which the Democrats are seeking to narrowly focus the move to oust Trump emphasizes yet again the importance of these basic points of orientation:

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.

Clearly, the removal of not just Trump, but also the Christian Fascist Vice President Mike Pence, and indeed this whole fascist regime, is of urgent importance.  But this will only serve the fundamental interests of the masses of people—not just in this country but in the world as a whole—if this is achieved, not on the basis of confining things within the terms of and through the furthering of the “national interests” of the monstrously oppressive U.S. empire, but on the basis of the mobilization of mass opposition to the fascism of this Trump/Pence regime, which has been produced by and risen to power through the “normal functioning” of this system, of which it is an extreme but not somehow an “alien” expression.

~~~~~~~~~~

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

All this—even the seemingly more “benign,” or oblivious, individualism—links up with the repeated and stubborn insistence on chasing after the illusion of painless progress. If something makes people uncomfortable—and still more, if it holds out the prospect of sacrifice, necessary sacrifice, on their part—far too many people turn away from it. As I’ve pointed out before, there’s this whole attitude of approaching reality as if it’s a “buffet,” or approaching it like a consumer: “Well, that makes me uncomfortable. I’ll just leave that to the side. I don’t want to look at that because that makes me uncomfortable.”

I am going to talk later about some of the more ridiculous and outrageous forms of this. But just to give a little preview, as I pointed out in The New Communism, some people went on one of the college campuses a couple of years ago with a poster of Stolen Lives, people who’d been killed by police (not all of them, by any means, but dozens), and someone came up and started whining: “I don’t like that poster, it makes me feel unsafe.” As I commented at the time: Oh, boo-hoo! Let’s get out of this boo-hoo shit and start talking about and engaging seriously what’s happening to masses of people, one significant part of which is represented by what’s on that poster.

One of the most common and problematical forms of this repeated and stubborn insistence on chasing after the illusion of “painless progress,” particularly among people who consider themselves somewhat enlightened (or progressive, or “woke,” or however they want to put it), is what we very rightly term BEB—Bourgeois Electoral Bullshit—and the phenomenon that people continually confine themselves to the narrow limits of what is presented to them by one section of the ruling class, as embodied in the Democratic Party: “These are the limits of what I’ll consider in terms of possibly bringing about change”—because this is the well-worn rut of what is, at least up to this point, relatively safe in terms of political engagement. It may even become not-so-safe in the future, depending on how things go with these fascists who are working to consolidate their power right now through the ruling regime of Trump and Pence. But for now it seems relatively painless. It is also completely ineffectual and doesn’t bring about any kind of change that’s needed, but it’s a way to feel that you’re doing something while avoiding any sacrifice, and even any real discomfort.

One of the ways this gets expressed, along with the BEB, is people, in their masses, not confronting the reality of Trump/Pence fascism, and therefore not acting in a way commensurate with the danger and the potentially even greater horrors this represents.

Just to step back, and to speak to a very important element of this that I’ve touched on before, Trump’s election—through the electoral college, not the popular vote—is, in a real sense, an extension of slavery: the people who voted for Trump are the kind of people who would have been pro-slavery, had they been around at the time of slavery in the United States. And those who find it acceptable to have the overt white supremacist Trump in the White House are the kind of people who would have ignored or would have openly accepted and justified or rationalized slavery when it existed. And here I have to invoke what I thought was a very insightful comment by Ron Reagan (yes, Ronald Reagan’s maverick son, who is also, to his great credit, an unabashed atheist): Trump’s much-analyzed, over-analyzed, “base” will continue supporting him, no matter what he does, Ron Reagan has pointed out (and this is very insightful), because Trump hates all the same people they hate.

As opposed to all the obfuscation about the economic difficulties people are going through, blah, blah, blah, that is often used to rationalize why people voted for and continue to support Trump, what Ron Reagan has sharply pointed to is the essence of Trump’s “base.” And, by the way, notice how all the mainstream media, CNN and so on, continually use this term: Trump’s “base.” This is a neutral term, “base.” These are a bunch of fascists, okay? And by using these euphemisms, or these neutral terms, like “base,” you’re obscuring and keeping people from seeing what is actually represented by Trump and those who support him, and the depth of the real danger this poses. Ron Reagan’s comment is very much to the point. He went on to elaborate: They hate LGBT people, they hate women (independent women, and really all women), they hate Black people, they hate immigrants, they hate Muslims, and so on. And Trump hates all the same people they hate.

That is why they’ll never desert him, whatever he does. That is why he could very rightly make the comment: “I could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue in New York City and these people wouldn’t turn against me.”

At the same time, it has to be bluntly said: For the millions, and tens of millions, who say they hate everything Trump stands for and what he is doing but who, after all this time, have still not taken to the streets in sustained mobilization demanding that the Trump/Pence regime must go, this makes them collaborators with this fascist regime and themselves guilty of the egregious crime of tolerating this regime when they still could have the possibility of achieving the demand that it must go, through such mass mobilization!

To paraphrase Paul Simon: They are squandering their resistance for a pocketful of mumbles—and worse—from the Democratic Party.

It is long past time—and there is still time, but not much time—for this to change, for masses of people to finally take to the streets, and stay in the streets, with the firm resolve that this fascist regime must go!

And here are some very relevant questions for the millions and tens of millions who hate everything Trump stands for but have failed or refused to mobilize, in their masses, in non-violent but sustained action around the demand that the Trump/Pence regime be removed from power, as has been called for by Refuse Fascism: If you will not take to the streets now to demand that the Trump/Pence regime must go, what will you do if Trump is re-elected (perhaps through the electoral college, even if he again loses the popular vote)? And what will you do if Trump loses the election (even by the electoral college count) but then refuses to recognize the results and insists he is still President?!

At the same time, it is necessary to point to the very serious problems with the dangerous naiveté and “left” posturing of certain “progressive” intellectuals. For example, someone like Glenn Greenwald, who has done some good things in exposing the violations of people’s rights under this system—human rights, civil rights and civil liberties—but who, whenever anything’s brought out about the terrible crimes and horrors that are represented by the Trump/Pence regime, insists upon immediately saying things like, “Yes, but what about Hillary Clinton, and what about the Democrats, and the terrible things they have done?” All of which is true. As we have pointed out: The Democratic Party is a machine of massive war crimes and crimes against humanity. And this does need to be brought out. At the same time, it is necessary to recognize that the Republican Party is fascist, and if you don’t understand that this has real meaning and real importance—and every time someone speaks to the outrages and horrors perpetrated by these fascists, you insist on immediately raising, “Yes, but what about the Democrats?”—you’re leading people, or pointing people, away from an understanding of the real dynamics going on here and the real dangers.

And then there is Slavoj Žižek. As is very bluntly, and very accurately, put in the article by Raymond Lotta, “Slavoj Žižek Is a Puffed-Up Idiot Who Does Great Damage”:

Slavoj Žižek, an influential fool-of-a-philosopher who often poses as a “communist,” declared his support for Donald Trump on British TV. A victory for Trump, according to Žižek, will help the Republicans and Democrats “rethink themselves”—and could bring about “a kind of big awakening.” And speaking from his “what-me-worry” perch [Lotta goes on], Žižek pronounced that Trump “will not introduce fascism.”

As Lotta then succinctly states: “This is wrong, this is poison.” And it is similar to the kind of wrong and dangerous thinking that people like Glenn Greenwald fall into and propagate. Similarly to Glenn Greenwald, it involves playing down the actual reality and danger of what’s represented by fascism, even as, once again, the Democratic Party is an instrument of bourgeois dictatorship, and a machine of massive war crimes and crimes against humanity.

This kind of wrong thinking is also exemplified by someone like Julian Assange, who actually, from all appearances, and it does seem to be the case, contributed to the machinations that went on around the Trump campaign, involving, it does seem, the Russians in this, and who did so with the same kind of rationalization that Žižek put forward, as cited by Raymond Lotta—that Clinton and the Democratic Party represent the old establishment, the old ways of doing things, and if they’re defeated and somebody who’s outside the establishment gets in, it will shake things up. I have heard Assange saying (his own words, not just others characterizing what his position is): “Maybe this will lead to a negative change, or maybe it will lead to a positive change, but at least it will lead to change, or it will hold open the possibility of change.”

Well, what kind of change is it actually leading to? There’s no room for agnosticism or ignorance about what kind of change it is leading to. Yes, bourgeois dictatorship in any form is very bad for the masses of people, very oppressive and repressive of the masses of people, and needs to be overthrown. But an overt fascist dictatorship that tramples on any pretense of upholding rights for people is not something that should be put in the category of “maybe it’ll be a positive change, or maybe it’ll be a negative change.”

Now, at the same time as making this sharp critique, particularly with regard to Julian Assange, it is very important to emphasize the need to oppose the persecution of Assange by the U.S. imperialists, whose persecution of him is in response to and revenge for his part—not in something to do with the Russians, but overwhelmingly in exposing just some of the monstrous crimes of this system. In this regard, there was an interesting article called “Julian Assange and the Woeful State of Whistle-Blowers” by Edward Wasserman, who’s a professor of journalism and the Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. (This article appeared in the New York Times on Saturday, April 27 of this year, 2019.) Wasserman points out that, with whatever his failings are, political and personal, Julian Assange, through WikiLeaks, “enabled spectacular disclosure of official secrets,” including, as Wasserman himself puts it, “war crimes, torture and atrocities on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan” by the U.S. And this is why he’s being attacked in the legal arena and politically by the U.S. ruling class. This dimension is where people need to rally to Assange’s defense, even with his limitations and failings. And the need and importance of defending Assange, particularly from political/legal persecution by the U.S. government, has been greatly heightened by the fact that this government (headed by the Trump/Pence fascist regime) has now piled on very serious charges of espionage in this process of persecution, with dire implications not just for Assange but for any and all who would dare to uncover and expose the war crimes and crimes against humanity continually carried out by U.S. imperialism and its institutions of violence and repression.

Yet, without in any way failing to give due importance and emphasis to opposing these repressive moves by the U.S. government, it remains necessary and there is also great importance to criticizing this outlook and approach embodied in the thinking of people like Assange and Glenn Greenwald, as well as Žižek. The idea that these bourgeois (or “establishment”) politicians are just “all the same,” without any analysis of the nuances, or even the blatant differences, between them and the consequences of this for the masses of people, the masses of humanity—this is very harmful.

Here it is worth looking at the criticism that was raised of the German communists in the period of the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s. The slogan was attributed to the German communists: “Nach Hitler, Uns,” (meaning: “After Hitler, Us”). In other words, the same kind of thinking—that Hitler actually heading up the government would shake up things and would cause such a crisis in society that, then, the communists would have a chance to come to power. This represented a very serious underestimation of what was represented by Hitler and the Nazis, and the terrible consequences of this for humanity. Yes, the communists there should have been consistently and firmly opposing the whole system on a revolutionary basis, but it was also very important and necessary to recognize that Hitler and the Nazis were a particularly perverse and extreme representation of all the horrors of this system, and would carry them out in very extreme forms.

So, in relation to all this, there is a need for a scientific approach to building opposition to the fascism embodied in the Trump/Pence regime in the U.S. today, in a way that is based on and proceeds from the understanding that’s captured in works of mine like “The Fascists and the Destruction of the ‘Weimar Republic’... And What Will Replace It” and “Not Being Jerry Rubin, or Even Dimitrov, but Actually Being Revolutionary Communists: THE CHALLENGE OF DEFENDING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS—FROM A COMMUNIST PERSPECTIVE, AND NO OTHER.” (These articles are available at revcom.us. They are part of the Collected Works of Bob Avakian.)

As I have stressed several times, and as concentrated in the slogan we have brought forward: “The Republican Party is Fascist, The Democratic Party is Also a Machine of Massive War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.” This emphasizes the importance of both aspects of things: recognizing the particularity of what’s represented by the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime and the Republican Party as a whole, and confronting the nature and massive crimes of the whole system, and all those who are functionaries and enforcers of this system, definitely including the Democratic Party.

In an article in the New York Times (Tuesday, July 16, 2019), “Racism Comes Out of the Closet,” Paul Krugman makes the point that not just Donald Trump but the Republican Party as a whole has gone from “dog whistling” racism to overtly and crudely expressing it. Krugman concludes this article this way, referring to the Republican Party’s dropping of even any pretense of opposing racism:

It’s tempting to say that Republican claims to support racial equality were always hypocritical; it’s even tempting to welcome the move from dog whistles to open racism. But if hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, what we’re seeing now is a party that no longer feels the need to pay that tribute. And that’s deeply frightening.

Krugman does have a point—an important and relevant point—here, as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough, and in particular does not break out of the constricting terms of contradictions and conflicts among ruling class parties (the Republicans and the Democrats). The stance of hypocritically pretending opposition to such outrages as racist oppression, while in fact acting as the representatives, functionaries and enforcers of a system that has this oppression built into it and could not exist without this oppression—this does not just apply to the Republican Party in the past (if it ever applied to that party at all over the past 50 years and more) but also applies to the Democratic Party. What is concentrated in this situation is the need to recognize, and correctly handle, a very real and acute contradiction: the fact that, on the one hand, the Democratic Party, as much as the Republican Party, is a party of a system that continually commits, and cannot help committing, massive crimes against the masses of humanity and embodies an existential threat to the very future of humanity; and, on the other hand, the fact that (to paraphrase what is cited above from Krugman’s article) there is a very real difference and very direct danger embodied in the fact that one of these ruling class parties (the Republicans) openly abandons much of the pretense of being anything other than a rapacious, and yes racist, plunderer of human beings and of the environment. This requires the correct synthesis of, in fundamental terms, opposing the whole system, of which both of these parties are instruments, and actively working, in an ongoing way, toward the strategic goal of abolishing this whole system, while also, with the same fundamental strategic perspective, recognizing the acute immediate danger posed by the fascist Trump/Pence regime and working urgently to bring forward masses of people in non-violent but sustained mobilization around the demand that this regime must go!

Failing to really recognize and act on this understanding, in its different aspects and its full dimension, is very much related to individualism—particularly in the form of seeking the illusion of painless progress, rather than being willing to confront inconvenient and uncomfortable truths and to act accordingly, even with the sacrifices that might be required.

With all the nuances and particularities of contradictions that do have to be recognized, this crucial truth can be put in this basic and concentrated way:

The Democratic Party Is Part of the Problem, Not the Solution.

Here a challenge needs to be issued to all those who insist on the position that “the Democrats are the only realistic alternative”: On the website revcom.us, there is the “American Crime” series, which chronicles and outlines many of the most horrific crimes of the U.S. ruling class, going back to the beginning of this country and right up to the present, carried out under Republican and Democratic administrations. Here is the challenge: Go read that “American Crime” series and then come back and try to explain why it’s a decent thing to do to be caught up in supporting the Democrats.

Along with its other crimes, and its particular role in maintaining and enforcing this system, in the current circumstances the Democratic Party is also an active facilitator of fascism because of its refusal, even on the terms of the system it represents, to do anything meaningful to oppose the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime. This is concentrated in the insistence by Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi (or Piglosi, as she should be called) that impeachment is, once again, off the table. Some people may not remember (or may have chosen to forget), and others may not even know, but there was a massive sentiment to impeach George W. Bush back around 2005-2006, in particular because of the way he took the country to war, attacking and invading Iraq, causing massive destruction and death in that country, on the basis of systematic lies that were very consciously perpetrated by his whole regime, including Colin Powell, Cheney and Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and the rest, who deliberately and systematically lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction and supposedly threatening the U.S. (and “allies” of the U.S.) with those weapons. These lies were the rationalization for perpetrating the U.S. war of aggression against Iraq—which, in fact, was an international war crime. There was a mass sentiment toward impeachment of George W. Bush largely on that basis. Well, when the Democrats, in the 2006 election, won control of both houses of Congress, immediately Nancy Piglosi said impeachment is off the table. And now she’s doing the same thing again—and she’s doing this not just as an individual, but as representative of the leadership of the Democratic Party. To borrow a term from the gang scene, the “shot-callers” of the Democratic Party are saying: “We shouldn’t impeach Trump because that will just serve him; he’s trying to goad us into impeaching him.” As though it would not be a good thing for Trump to be impeached. Piglosi insists: “We’re not gonna fall for that, we’re gonna hold Trump accountable.”  Oh yeah? How? How are you going to hold him accountable when you refuse to use one of the most powerful instruments you have, impeachment, to actually do something meaningful to oppose what he’s doing?

I saw a commentator on one of the networks the other day who made an observation which (along with and despite a bunch of nonsense that she was also spouting) was actually somewhat insightful and important. She said: “Laws don’t enforce themselves. If you can do something and get away with it, the law is meaningless.” Well, Piglosi, your “accountability” (holding Trump “accountable”) is meaningless because you are refusing to exercise the most effective means you might have to “hold him accountable.”

Now, some people say that this is just being done by Piglosi and the rest because they have the 2020 election in mind, and they don’t want to feed the Republican Party ammunition for their insistence that “this is a witch hunt” against Trump and the Republican Party. That may be a secondary consideration on the part of the Democrats, but if you listen to Piglosi she’s telling us what the deal actually is. She’s saying it would further divide the country to impeach Trump—as if the “country” is not already very deeply and very intensely divided, at this point, which is precisely why someone like Trump could get elected in the first place.

But there are really three reasons, or we could call them “three fears,” that Piglosi and the rest have. They’re afraid of Trump and the Republicans, so they’re allowing Trump and the Republicans to set the terms of what they can do. Their “logic” goes like this: “Since Trump would lash back if we tried to impeach him, therefore we shouldn’t try to impeach him.” This is the logic of what they’re saying, even if they don’t directly and explicitly articulate it like that. So they’re letting the Republicans set the terms—which, of course, only causes the Republicans to be even more aggressive in pursuit of their agenda and in defying and trampling on the “norms” of this system. Even according to their own bourgeois “principles,” the Democrats should be acting on the basis of what’s in their Constitution, not according to what the Republicans will allow them to do.

Secondly, along with being afraid of Trump and the Republican Party, they are afraid of the reality that laws don’t enforce themselves. They’re afraid that if they impeach Trump—and if, somehow, they even succeeded not only in impeaching him, but actually getting him convicted in the Senate—that Trump might well declare: “Fuck you, I’m the President, I don’t recognize this impeachment.” Then, what and whom can they turn to? This brings up the other dimension of this second point: They’re afraid of Trump’s “base.” They’re afraid of these fascist forces out there who are being encouraged and goaded by Trump to increasingly act in a violent manner and who (as I’ll speak to shortly) do have a lot of weapons and are demonstrating not only their willingness, but their eagerness, to use them. So Piglosi and the rest are afraid of that.

But at least as much—and here is the “third fear”—they are afraid of the people on the other side of the divide in the country, the people who tend to vote for the Democrats, especially the basic masses of oppressed people. They are afraid of the very people, basic masses and others, whom the Democratic Party is responsible for “corralling” into the BEB and “domesticating” their dissent. They’re afraid of the people who are angry about what’s represented by Trump and Pence. They don’t want those people out in the street, unless it is contained within the narrow confines of what the Democratic Party, and the system it serves, can allow. And they don’t want the confrontation between those people and the fascists who have rallied behind Trump. You think they want to see masses of Black people, immigrants, and others, including masses of people from different strata who are furious over Trump—you think they want to see them in the streets in direct and determined opposition to what is represented by Trump and Pence? That’s one of the worst nightmares of Piglosi and Company, not only because of the potential for militant confrontation with the fascists, but because people could then get completely out of the control of the Democratic Party, and the whole system of which the Democrats are representatives, functionaries, and enforcers. A big part of what they are representing and enforcing would be seriously jeopardized.

So this is what’s really going on with Piglosi and the rest in stubbornly resisting a move toward impeachment.

And then we come to one of the main aggressively fascist functionaries in the Republican Party, the Congressman from Iowa, Steve King. Recently, along with all of his other outrageous postings and overtly racist, misogynist, and crudely derogatory statements about Muslims and immigrants, and so on, King recently posted a meme, with this comment, on his official campaign page:

Folks keep talking about another civil war. One side has about 8 trillion bullets, while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use.

Now, it has to be said that there is a “demented insight” in this comment. Obviously, this is a vicious attack on trans people, as well as those supportive of their rights. So, on the one hand, this is an outrageous statement, a thoroughly reactionary and vicious statement. But it does express a certain demented insight, or a demented representation of some truth, because while people are rightly supporting the rights of trans people, gay people, women and others, there are real limitations and problems with the spontaneous outlook prevailing among those on the correct side of the divide. There is a narrowness along lines of “identity,” and an ignoring of, or a not paying sufficient attention to, the larger dynamics that are shaping up in the society (and the world) as a whole, and the implications of this, as represented, once again, by the fact that, while people are fighting around or raising some resistance around this or that particular instance of oppression, discrimination and prejudice, they are not rallying to take on the whole massive assault that’s embodied in the Trump/Pence regime, let alone the whole system that has produced this regime. There is the serious problem that, as a whole, people who consider themselves “progressive” or “woke” have, to put it mildly, not made any real rupture with American chauvinism (about which I will have more to say shortly). And, related to this, there is the fundamental problem of attempting to resolve the conflict with what is represented by the Trump/Pence regime and its fascist “base,” with its “8 trillion bullets,” through relying on (or seeking a return to) what have been the “norms” of the bourgeois order in this country (and, on the part of some, this involves a call for “restoring civility”) while the fascists are determined to trample on and tear up these “norms” and are perfectly happy to have those who oppose them adopt the stance of “civility” (accommodation) toward their unrelenting fascist offensive. Although this does not apply absolutely, it is far too much the case that the words of the poet William Butler Yeats describe this very serious situation: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” And so, while things could be heading toward a civil war, and it could come down to that even in the not-too-distant future, the present lineup is very unfavorable for anybody who represents anything decent in the world.

All this is, in a demented kind of way, represented in King’s statement that one side has about 8 trillion bullets while the other side doesn’t know which bathroom to use. Again, it’s not that the question of bathroom use and the larger questions it encapsulates is unimportant. It is important. But there’s a larger picture here of this developing trend or motion toward a civil war which right now is very one-sided in a very bad way, and if things continue on this trajectory the outcome could truly be disastrous.

So that should be serious food for thought—and not only that, but also a serious spur to action for people who do care about all the various ways in which people are being brought under attack and oppression is being intensified all across the board against large sections of the people who need to be brought together to fight against the offensive from these fascist forces—and, in more fundamental terms, need to be brought forward on the basis of recognizing that it’s the whole system, out of which this fascist phenomenon has arisen, and which embodies such terrible oppression of people not just here but all around the world, that needs to be swept away.

Now, another element of this that we can’t overlook is that, while a lot of what King describes applies in a certain demented way, particularly to progressive or so-called “woke” middle class people, there is another kind of problem with regard to more basic oppressed people, and in particular the youth—a big problem that their guns are now aimed at each other. And without going more fully into this right now, this is something that needs to be radically transformed in building a movement for an actual revolution.

So here we come to the question of the relation between building for an actual revolution and the still very urgent question of driving out this fascist regime. The following from Part 2 of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution remains extremely relevant and important:

The relation between the struggle against this fascist regime and building the revolution is not a “straight road” or a “one-way street”: It must not be approached, by those who understand the need for revolution, as if “first we must build a mass movement to drive out this regime, and then we can turn our attention to working directly for revolution.” No. It is crucial to unite and mobilize people, from different perspectives, very broadly, around the demand that this regime must go, but it will be much more difficult to do this on the scale and with the determination that is required to meet this objective if there are not, at the same time, greater and greater numbers of people who have been brought forward around the understanding that it is necessary to put an end not only to this regime but to the system out of whose deep and defining contradictions this regime has arisen, a system which by its very nature has imposed, and will continue to impose, horrific and completely unnecessary suffering on the masses of humanity, until this system itself is abolished. And the more that people are brought forward to be consciously, actively working for revolution, the growing strength and “moral authority” of this revolutionary force will in turn strengthen the resolve of growing numbers of people to drive out this fascist regime now in power, even as many will not be (and some will perhaps never be) won to revolution.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/615/andy-zee-the-trump-pence-regime-must-go-now-en.html

The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go–NOW!

Andy Zee for the national meetings of Refuse Fascism

| revcom.us

 

The decision this past week by the Democratic Party leadership to pursue impeachment hearings tremendously sharpens the fight over the Trump/Pence regime’s forging of a thoroughly fascist America. The escalation of the fight at the pinnacles of political power holds profound consequence for the future. This opens up possibility for increased struggle by masses of people taking to the streets and public squares, and at the same time it requires such struggle if there is to be a positive outcome to the even more tumultuous time we have now entered. I will return to discussing this move to impeach in more depth shortly.  

Less than a week ago, Refuse Fascism announced that we had determined that the political situation had developed to where we needed to call for sustained non-violent mass protests in late October. Events over this summer, where there were mass murders against immigrants in California and then El Paso, following mass murders of Jewish people in Pittsburgh, on top of the revelation that the Trump/Pence regime was still separating refugee and asylum-seeking children from their parents in defiance of a court order, shocked the consciences of millions. People who had refrained from struggle and relied on the Democratic Party were becoming disillusioned as the Democrats funded border security, and collaborated with the Trump/Pence regime in different ways facilitating a highway to hell. Then came the electrifying images of Puerto Rico where millions took to the streets day after day and drove out their Governor, and Hong Kong where weekly protests of millions braving and thwarting repression won the first of their demands and their struggle continues now with the people becoming more emboldened in their demand.

All of this led us to call for these meetings to say that it is on us to set in motion and lead this kind of mass sustained non-violent protest that does not stop until the whole fascist Trump and Pence regime is removed from power through our unleashing and leading a different power—the power of the people.

If it was pressing on us last weekend to call for launching this different kind of protest beginning in October, it has become all the more necessary and possible since impeachment hearings have begun. We have important discussion and work to do today. It’s on each of and all of us to struggle to bring forward the potential power of a people who will stand up and be unrelenting in their demand.

Our proposal is this: on October 19 in Los Angeles and New York City we will call protests that will essentially announce to the world that a movement of sustained non-violent protests has begun. These first actions should involve as many people as we can mobilize in this short time while their defining character will be a bold declaration—a call out to the people to start amassing in cities and towns across the country the next Saturday, October 26 and do so for four consecutive Saturdays—through November 16. Every week should dramatize the need for this to grow and broaden.

The protests and the days in between should challenge and involve more and more people... growing so that thousands grow quickly—hopefully within a few weeks to tens of thousands and we should not rule out, but instead be oriented towards bringing forth hundreds of thousands and ultimately millions.

This must become a movement that has the potential to win—by amassing significant numbers in the streets and by the momentum it gathers, including as it develops going to daily continuing non-violent mass protests, and by its determination to not stop until the single unifying demand: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go NOW! is met. These three things—numbers, momentum and resolve around a single demand, can create a political crisis for the rulers of this country that reverberates around the world—a crisis of such scale that it can not be ignored or repressed without further unraveling the image and legitimacy of the whole power structure as the government fears losing the allegiance of an even more massive section of the people—and as these images go around the world the image of their invincibility is shaken.  

As we have seen in other countries, a situation like this, brought about by the sustained protest by masses of people could compel a significant section of those in power to finally act to remove the Trump/Pence regime, and that, combined with an even more intensified effort from us, the people, could actually win. Some whose vision is constrained by what is today will say that it is inconceivable that the fascist Republican-controlled Senate would convict Trump of impeachment. NO. We must drive out the regime, no matter what it takes. With the kind of massive sustained protest we are proposing today, many things that are inconceivable now can become possible.

The decision by the Democratic Party leadership to impeach now after almost three years of refusing to do so is both a reflection of, and heightens, the contention at the top of the ruling class. As this process is just beginning, today I can only offer some initial thoughts and ask for everyone to contribute theirs over the next weeks as this unfolds.

There are many forces in motion with different programs and agendas among those with real power, in congress, the courts, military, and those captains of finance and industry who they serve. Yet, in broad strokes, there is a basic fight between a section of those in power who are committed to shattering the rules of the game concentrated in the Republican Party of Trump and Pence who are fighting for an American Fascism. Arrayed against this is the ruling class consensus that has prevailed since WW 2, now principally grouped around the Democratic Party with, as well, others who the media calls “mainstream” Republicans—who are reactionaries in their own right.  Impeachment has now sharpened the struggle between these two forces even as there are many actors within each of these camps. 

Trump and Pence and their whole regime will not give up. Their hardcore base is gearing up for battle, with Fox News and a whole array of white supremacist fascist media whipped up for a serious fight. The regime has their people in the courts, and even if the courts should rule against them, they may well defy the courts. If Trump IS able to withstand impeachment (or other moves by those in power to remove him should we not succeed in creating a situation where he is removed before the election, or if he wins or steals the election, or if he refuses to leave office should he lose in 2020) there is real and serious risk that he could make a further huge leap toward all-out fascism either to stay in power or to solidify power if he prevails with no small amount of revenge.

The Democrats want to limit the impeachment inquiry to Trump’s actions endangering national security and his self-serving corruption in his attempt to win the 2020 election, without touching on the far deeper crimes of his fascist agendaoutrages that run the gamut from concentration camps on the border, to dangerously accelerating the devastation of the environment. The Democratic Party leadership will not even mention the word fascism. The top Democrats want to remove Trump without going after the whole regime and without calling out the fascism at its core. And this would leave the cancer in place to grow even more dangerously.

There is ample evidence of countless examples of the shattering of the rule of law, precedents, and real devastating crimes against humanity as well as the unleashing of virulent murderous white supremacy and misogyny that this regime has perpetrated. There is no lack of evidence to impeach on these grounds. The Democratic Party who are themselves targets of this regime, are nonetheless more beholden to, and are representatives of, the system that has given rise to Donald Trump than they are to humanity here and around the world. But, as the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian has pointed out: one, they are afraid of Trump and what he might unleash against them; and two, they are afraid of what his rabid fascist base might do.

And, three, they are “afraid of the people on the other side of the divide... the people who tend to vote for the Democrats, especially the basic masses of oppressed people.... They’re afraid of the people who are angry about what’s represented by Trump and Pence. They don’t want those people out in the street, unless it is contained within the narrow confines of what the Democratic Party, and the system it serves, can allow. And they don’t want the confrontation between those people and the fascists who have rallied behind Trump.” The Democratic Party leadership will not mobilize you to act to stop this regime, except to corral you—to domesticate your righteous outrage into the elections and voting for them in 2020. And, as for impeachment, the most they will tolerate is limited mass actions in support of, and within the parameters of, how they want to prosecute this impeachment. If we allow the terms upon which we fight, including the terms upon which impeachment is fought, to be focused solely on national security and corruption it will narrow people’s sights and undermine the fight to stop fascism, and even impeachment. It will leave Pence and the whole regime and fascist movement intact, and that, to say the least, will not be favorable for interests of humanity.

The most important thing for us to grab hold of regarding impeachment is that there must not be only two forces in the field—there needs to be a third force—the people struggling for what is in the interests of humanity. Our battle must not be confined to impeachment. But today we should recognize that this is our moment to launch the struggle to drive out this fascist regime for the full array of crimes they have committed and the far worse that they are aiming for. If we do this, we can win this battle, drive the regime out, and open up space for everyone who cares about saving the planet and humanity and bringing about a just world.

As a revolutionary advocate of the new communism developed by Bob Avakian and organizer for an actual revolution to emancipate humanity, I am boldly putting forth an invitation to people to check out BA and the new communism, and to become a part of the movement for what really could be a liberating third future other than the two represented by the Republicans and the Democrats. At the same time, the movement for mass sustained protest involving hundreds of thousands and millions to demand the removal of the regime will only succeed if it involves, inspires and unleashes people who believe that this system and America could be a force for good in the world as well as those who have different views of what it will take to achieve more fundamental change.

What we are calling for has been done all over the world, from the Arab Spring to Puerto Rico to Hong Kong, and we can learn from those struggles. If and when this struggle catches and grows, then the impeachment process can play a role; but if we sit passively, waiting for impeachment to solve the problem, we may well end up in an even worse spot than we are in today.

We are calling for a different kind of non-violent sustained protest movement which uncorks the now suppressed feelings of millions against this regime, tapping into the outrage at this vile bullying white supremacist, misogynist, anti-immigrant, war mongering, anti-LGBTQ, fascist regime that is hell-bent on letting the planet burn.   

The demand, Trump/Pence Regime Must GoNOW!is simple, direct, and invites the broadest unity—it expresses the actual interests of people of the world, and it concentrates the deeply-felt desire of millions of people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs living in this country who are living in dread and anger at what the Trump/Pence regime is doing. Yes, right now most people are going along with great crimes—such that it often feels like we are living through the night of the living dead. We are here today to Wake People the Fuck Up. And to do so by taking the responsibility to struggle with everything we’ve got to move masses of people out of their stupor and into the streets. There are millions who feel, as the Refuse Fascism slogan captures:“In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Live in a Fascist America!” We need to shake people from avoiding what’s happening, living with their heads buried in the mirror of their iPhones, as the world careens into the horror of fascist regimes.

Look at the students around the world striking to save the planet, look at the faces from Puerto Rico to Hong Kong and you see something different—joyous determined people inspired to act with conscience. Then, dread can give way to hope. The fruitless fretting over“my” life can transform into the exhilaration and sense of purpose that comes when we stand up with others fighting for the future. The “WE” must grow as we sharply struggle with one and all about what we face and what we need to do... making the case to stop being complicit and to join in what is surely one of the great challenges of recent history to drive this fascist regime from power.

This can be done. As I said, such struggle has been and is being waged around the world where the people took matters into their own hands—refused to wait for more promises to be betrayed, with no patience for stacked courts and “talk shop” do nothing legislatures, where they felt that to wait for elections that are too far off and/or rigged was intolerable. While the struggle in this country will not be exactly the same, it is a more complex place, there is the simple: get in the streets and stay... and there is inspiration as well as rich positive and negative lessons to learn and heed.

We face a fascist regime. They are bringing fascism. Those who say it can’t happen here are wrong. It is. Those who say it’s “sorta” fascism, but then find a reason to say it’s not yet fascism, are making excuses and finding reason to back away from, to not do what needs to be done. So, we need to get into this fascism, because people act on what they understand to be necessary.  

We face an extraordinary situation—a regime and a Republican party that is fascist and hell-bent on consolidating a qualitatively more draconian form of rule over this country with grave impact on the world. Indeed, the survival of humanity hangs in the balance as this regime denies science, ridicules climate change, and has torn up every environmental protection they can.

The continuing outpouring of students around the world this past week is a beautiful thing and harbinger of what could be. They see the stakes for their future—they are organizing and getting to work because they recognize the existential crisis for humanity. The students have shown a determination to face facts and get others to do so, and their spirit and their desire to fight for a scientific approach needs to also be brought to the battle to drive out the Trump/Pence regime. This regime is not only on overdrive to accelerate global warming, but when faced with hundreds of thousands of migrants fleeing countries devastated in part by climate change today, a number that will grow to be millions and hundreds of millions worldwide—it meets them with walls, concentration camps and worse while it doubles down on accelerating carbon emissions.  

Saving the planet is not the only question that threatens the fate of humanity. We are balanced on the hair trigger of whether or not the Trump/Pence regime will unleash a war against Iran. Do not underestimate the conflagration that could ensue from that. Trump has said that if we have nuclear weapons why can’t we use them?

A year ago, that dark ages Christian fascist, Mike Pence, gave a speech threatening China that extolled Trump’s beefing up the most powerful military in history highlighting Trump’s modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal... Pence ended his speech invoking a Chinese proverb that “heaven sees the future” that was straight up gangsta: delivered deadpan with menace asserting America’s right to dominate and threaten the world while cloaked in the garb of fulfilling a mission from God.

Refuse Fascism’s current Call to Act—sharply puts it that Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is a 21st Century program of Manifest Destiny, “America First” wrapped in the flag and Mike Pence’s bible taken literally, with a program of white supremacy, misogyny, and xenophobia.

This underscores the import of the Refuse Fascism slogan: In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.

Bob Avakian, has said that“American Lives Are NOT More Important Than Other People’s Lives.” When it is U.S. bombs and satellites guiding the death and devastation of the country of Yemen by Saudi Arabia resulting in mass starvation and an epidemic of cholera—and you avert your eyes, you blind yourself and become complicit.

Powerful forces in the ruling class of this country got behind Trump and Pence because they determined that ruling norms and social compact since WW 2 were no longer tenable for the future of America domestically and for its domination of the world. They see that the only way to cohere the country is as a white fundamentalist Christian patriarchal society—that the liberalization since the 1960s would destroy that reactionary cohesion, and they believe that the international alliances that have maintained their system since WW 2 were undermining the U.S. position as the top dog in the world—thus their current shredding of agreements and treaties.  

There is a very important discussion in the talk by Bob Avakian, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! where he argues that the belief that America is a force for good in the world, that we are “the good guys” is one of the main ways that people here think about the world that demobilizes them from standing up against this regime, the system as a whole, as well as standing with humanity all over the world.

There exists a whole web of global economic relations that feeds the American “way of life”—the ability to consume, consume, consume. The clothes we wear, food we eat, the precious metals in our cell phones, all these are the end result of ruthless global economic and political relations of brutal exploitation of people and millions of children around the world enforced at the point of gun by the 600+ military bases around the world. This belief that anything the U.S. does is justified because we are the good guys and the lifestyle that undergirds this myth is a major source of the political passivity and, frankly, complicity with great crimes.

Many in Refuse Fascism, and probably most of the people who need to flood into the movement to drive out the regime, will not share this systemic critique of capitalism-imperialism and the role of the U.S. in the world, but will hold views that America is, or could be, a force for good in the world, even as we all recognize and unite that the Trump/Pence fascist America is a danger to humanity.

The kind of unity and the tremendous spirit of cooperation that this struggle requires should unleash an atmosphere of critical thinking, dialogue and debate over not only strategy and tactics for the moment, but over everything, including reform and revolution.

There are people who have raised that the participation of communists could cause some to hesitate being a part of this. Here, I can only briefly say the following.

  • I refer you to the poem from Pastor Niemöller that was read at the beginning of this program.“First they came for the Communists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a communist, Then they came for the Socialists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a socialist, Then they came for the Jews ... and on and on until: Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
  • And, there is a related a more general point that the distancing that has gone on too often between “good and bad protesters” has only benefited the powers that be to divide and repress. Even as we are determined that the protests we are calling for will be non-violent on the part of those protesting.
  • For the new generations who are in the streets to save the planet who are saying the system IS the problem: don’t they need to be a part of robust debates over the varying views of reform and revolution?
  • For my part, and those others who follow the new communism of Bob Avakian, we invite you to check it out. It is worth noting that along with his breakthrough in re-synthesizing communism, he has been working on and warning of the development of this fascist movement in the U.S. for decades. He identified the fascist direction of this regime upon the election of Trump/Pence in 2016 and this led to a diverse group to form the broad based Refuse Fascism. And, we think that his speech, now a film, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!, In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible is invaluable for understanding and uniting broadly to drive out this regime.

The fascism of Trump/Pence is not just “America First” in relation to the rest of the world, but its programmatic core is a triad of white supremacy, misogyny and xenophobia (the hatred and fear of people from other countries) which spews from the twitter finger and loud mouth of Mein Trumpf.  Calling the KKK and Nazi’s “very fine people,” he’s a fascist pig who brags of grabbing women by their genitals. Slandering refugees and asylum seekers from countries devastated by the U.S. as rapists and murderers—vicious lies that incited mass murder in El Paso, California and Pittsburgh. Shattering political norms and throwing away the dog whistle of racism he glories and gloats in rallies throwing out racist tropes like telling the “squad” of congresswomen of color to “go back where they came from” thrilling the rabid racist mob that is his base who shriek back: “throw them out.” He called Baltimore, a largely black city, “disgusting, rat and rodent infested.”

This rhetoric of fascist demonization rallies and hardens a rabid fascist base fueling and legitimizing a killing program. Concentration camps with tens of thousands of refugees on the border... Children continue to be separated from their parents.

Now, immigrant child separation is a crucial object lesson for why only sustained mass struggle aimed at the removal of the whole regime can stop this. Millions were outraged when the child separation first came to light, people protested and civil liberties lawyers filed lawsuits in court. The protests died down. And, the case was, at first, won in the courts. But the regime ignored the courts—creating new facts on the ground and the longer their regime goes on, the more they will be able to pack the courts with fascists. The Travel Ban on Muslims: was righteously protested and at first was blocked by the courts. The protests waned yet the Trump/Pence regime kept going back into courts until on the third try they got a very slightly modified ban approved.

Fascism comes by degrees, not all at once, but it does advance and that is happening here. And it can come to pass, where the avenues of redress are no more. The Fuhrer’s words become “fact” and law even as they should be neither. The Trump/Pence fascist regime has made some of their most dangerous and potentially enduring gains in stacking the courts with fascist judges.

A core part of this fascist regime is the alliance with an extensive Christian fascist movement that has been decades in the making, which sees in Trump, with Pence and the Christian fascist movement locked to his side, a leader who will break all the rules to get their program written into law. A central element of this: The right of women to be full human beings—to control their own destinies—is now on the verge of being wiped out as the right to abortion hangs by a thread. Do not say fascism can’t happen here.

Bob Avakian has said:

There is a direct line from the Confederacy to the fascists of today, and a direct connection between their white supremacy, their open disgust and hatred for LGBT people as well as women, their willful rejection of science and the scientific method, their raw “America First” jingoism and trumpeting of “the superiority of western civilization” and their bellicose wielding of military power, including their expressed willingness and blatant threats to use nuclear weapons, to destroy countries.

The Refuse Fascism Call to Act cuts to the heart of fascism:

       Fascism rules by organized repression and terror by the government: civil liberties are stripped away, law re-written, dissent criminalized, the courts packed with fascists, and the separation of powers and of church and state ultimately eviscerated. As part of radically remaking society, the Trump/Pence regime must sharply attack those in positions of power who oppose them. Fascism also mobilizes mobs of vicious thugs as we’ve seen with Nazis marching and murdering in Charlottesville, Virginia.

I could take the whole afternoon to illustrate this, I will just add one more example: 

Let’s look at Trump’s insistence that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama with his magic marker scrawl on a weather map to illustrate his point which then the Birmingham, Alabama weather bureau corrected. While Democrats and liberal pundits trivialized this by joking about it for days, distracting the people with Trump’s buffoonery, Trump doubled down: defending his assertion and ordering the governing agency to reprimand the Birmingham weather bureau, threatening reprisals. This matters. Why? For one, lives are at stake—preparation, evacuation and rescue depend on accurate objective data. And two, and critical for understanding fascism, the denial of truth and objective evidence are always essential to its advance.

Going after the truth, proffering lies, and shredding what is supposed to be a basic civil liberty and governing norm where there is a media free from direct order and control by the state, Trump consistently attacks the press branding them as an “enemy of the people” and even “traitors.” The relentless attack on what is true, on objective reality, on science, is a key and dangerous component of fascism. This forges a base of people who will believe and follow the truth of the fascist leader, whatever he says, without question. Truth is eroded and everything becomes seen as just an opinion—where what you believe is determined by who is saying it and what you already want to believe. Once the notion of objective truth is erased from society—even outlawed (after all, what is the logical conclusion of what happens to people who are branded as “enemies” and “traitors”)—then people cannot be free to change the world. For to change the world, to overcome all the divisions and forms of oppression that are in the world today, requires knowing the world as it actually is.

Here it must be said, that identity politics and its standpoint epistemology—the notion that truth is determined by who is saying it, by their direct lived experience as a member of a social group and that truth varies from person to person... this parallels and thus leaves the door wide open to Trumpian epistemology.

We say this is fascism not as an insult or to be badder than everyone else opposed to the regime, but because that is what an objective evaluation shows. Too many—even some of those who write books warning of fascism —prefer to say it’s authoritarian, proto-fascism, neo-fascism, anything but squarely confront that the Trump/Pence regime is fascist. Yes, it has notas yetconsolidated a full out fascist form of rule. If it had already done so, it would be immeasurably more difficult to do what we are planning for. But history shows that it can become too late to stop it without tremendous cost.

And, yes it is an American Fascism—reasserting and recreating the founding myth of this country as a shining city on a hill—a mythology wrapped in the flag and the bible taken literally, white supremacy with the male at the head of the traditional family with the nation blessed with a divine right to rule over everything. Robert Paxton writes in his book, Anatomy Of Fascism: “The language and symbols of an authentic American fascism would ... have to be as familiar and reassuring to loyal Americans as the language and symbols of the original fascisms were familiar and reassuring to many Italians and Germans...”

Here too is why the Democrats and their mouthpieces in the mainstream media have no answer but mumbles. CNN or MSNBC prattle on and on about how “He can’t do” what Trump does: “that’s not normal... not Presidential... not how it’s done...” when that is precisely the point: Trump and Pence are breaking the norms to bring a different form of rule to this country—which they and the forces behind them see as the way to save their vision of America and its capitalist-imperialist foundation. And, then the Democratic Party works to confine resistance to the very norms that the fascists—by definition and purpose—seek to tear up.

I will conclude this discussion of fascism with this, also from Bob Avakian, who has been identifying, analyzing and putting forward how to deal with the development of fascism in the U.S. over the last three decades. In a speech in October 2017 he said:

The truth—another terrible truth that must be faced—is that, in the context of profound and acute contradictions that are asserting, or re-asserting, themselves in ways that are tearing at the very fabric and deepening cracks in the foundation of this country, at the same time as the American empire is facing serious challenges internationally, fascism is one possible resolution of this, on the terms of this system and its ruling class, even as this is a horror for humanity.

What is one of the most important insights of the Refuse Fascism Call to action is this:

We must confront the reality that the world as we have known it is being torn asunder. This requires getting out of our comfort zones and not allowing our differences to stand in the way of rising together in an unprecedented, unrelenting mass struggle to confront the danger of a Trump/Pence fascist America.

Now, with impeachment underway—with the sharpened contention between the ruling parties underway, and before the 2020 primaries and election go into full throttle—is when the struggle we are calling for is most favorable, though not easy, but is possible because many can grasp how necessary it is now. It will not fall into anyone’s lap, it will involve a tremendous struggle among the people who desire the regime to go, over why and how it needs to be done. I am going to come to a conclusion of this talk discussing some of what we have already and will run into.

An activist wrote to me and declined to participate—for now—because we have to respect the struggles that people are already involved in, (as if Refuse Fascism does not) and that we should not say that this program of removing the Trump/Pence regime is the only thing that can stop this regime. Well, the sincere question is what else will?

Many fighters for social justice will say that they are overwhelmed with what’s already on their plate. We really get that, yet we ask, “What will come of every struggle for social justice when fascism is consolidated. When dissent is practically outlawed?” We have pointed out before that fascism can absorb separate acts of resistance against different fronts of their attacks, they will pull back and throw opposition off balance moving their agenda forward now here, and now there. This is important because many of those who are resisting have not sharply understood this and it is holding them back, so I will repeat it: fascism can absorb separate acts of resistance against different fronts of their attacks, they will pull back and throw opposition off balance moving their agenda forward now here, and now there.

As we go out to struggle with people over why we need to do this it should also be an invitation to one and all to contribute their thinking, their questions and criticisms, their creativity, and their energy. And, that invitation does not stop when we launch, it just begins, then it needs to be replicated thousands of times over by people we haven’t even met yet.

To drive out the regime it must not be protest as usual... you know the drill: assemble. speeches. march. speeches. go home. NO. What we are calling for is what you see in Hong Kong... it is portrayed in the movie The Square about Egypt. It was the students and youth who took to the streets last Friday and will be in the streets next week.  

People have raised to us as a matter of morality that if I think this plan might not work, I am not responsible to undertake it. Really? Never, ever, has serious social change come with a guarantee. And, if one is offered, it is not a real solution. What is irresponsible is not to try. History will not judge us harshly if we try with all we’ve got to stop fascism and save the planet and humanity, and we don’t succeed. But, we do, and we should, judge those who did not stand up in fascist Germany and in other countries when they could have and chose instead not to resist. We will not escape that judgment should we fail to act. This meeting began with a reading of the poem of Martin Niemöller that captures the horrors that happen from just looking out for and saving yourself because you are not directly affected.

In the same vein, people have raised Refuse Fascism tried this before and didn’t succeed, so what will be different this time? For one, people have now experienced almost three years of this, and while many have accommodated to this regime, they have also seen what it has wrought and what it can bring. The murder of Heather Heyer by fascists in Charlottesville in the summer of 2017 has been followed by several horrific mass murders of Jews and Latino immigrants. Two, people have been through the Blue Wave, the Mueller investigation, told to wait, had their hopes raised and dashed over and over.... and three, we, in Refuse Fascism, have learned some things.

It’s been raised that if we do this then maybe Trump will declare martial law —we shouldn’t provoke the beast, let’s ride it out. The writer George Prochnik in his biography of Stefan Zweig one of the most famous authors in Europe in the 1930’s wrote:

The excruciating power of Zweig’s memoir lies in the pain of looking back and seeing that there was a small window in which it was possible to act, and then discovering how suddenly and irrevocably that window can be slammed shut.

But what about fear? It has been said that the greater fear should be that people will not act to stop this unfolding horror. I have spoken already about the allure, illusion and delusion of painless progress, of relying on the elections to stop what they will not. People will raise to you concern about their job, their family and repulsively about not tarnishing their “brand.” First off, fuck your brand. But yes, this regime is serious—they have said repeatedly that they see in Trump their last and best chance to bring about the fascist agenda that they have worked on for decades. They have, as Trump has said, “many tough people on their side.” They have been open about wanting a new civil war rather than giving up.

The matter is and the questions are:

  • Do you want to live in their white supremacist, misogynist, Christian fascist world?
  • Do you want to inflict that on the billions of people who the U.S. demonizes and dominates?
  • Do you want to live in a gated world where huge sections of humanity are locked out and left to drown or starve or live indefinitely in camps?

Then the question of the hour is, are you going to act now when there is a chance to do something about it? The way to break fear is to act together for what’s right. That, we are setting out to do.

There is a tremendous liberating positive in what we envision. Think about what would it mean for the people of the world to see people in this country acting in their millions to say: In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Live in a Fascist America.

When people act together and begin to throw off the chains of all the oppressive relations and thinking that keeps us caged in the petty competitive bullshit of this society... working with people like you and many not like you, all striving together to drive out a horrific fascist regime as we defy convention and endure good and bad weather... we can create a situation where not only can the nightmare of the Trump/Pence regime be over, but we can create a movement where dreams can soar, another world becomes possible, creativity is unleashed and the impossible becomes possible.

 

Watch the speech here —

Now More Than Ever!

See excerpts and the Q&A of this film

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 non-violent protests that grow every day until our demand is met. This means working and organizing with all our creativity and determination to bring thousands, eventually millions of people into the streets of cities and towns, to demand:

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

RefuseFascism.org welcomes individuals and organizations from many different points of view who share our determination to refuse to accept a fascist America, to join and/or partner with us in this great cause.

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

Find out more about Refuse Fascism here.

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/the-slaughter-of-the-kurds-en.html

The Slaughter of the Kurds, the Fight over "American Interests," and the Interests of Humanity

| revcom.us

 

This past week, Donald Trump withdrew American soldiers from a Kurdish area of Syria.1 This gave Turkey a green light to cross the border and attack the Kurdish-led militias controlling the region, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF had earlier allied itself to the U.S. to drive out the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist force ISIS.

In doing so, Trump came under political attack not only from the Democrats and sections of the U.S. military and spy agencies, but also some otherwise reliable Republican-fascist allies.

Four things need to be said about this:

First, this Turkish invasion will lead to terrible slaughter and excruciating suffering for those who are not outright killed. At this point, the only question is how bad it will be.

Second, with little concern for the lives of the Kurdish people, those within the US ruling class who have criticized Trump for this have largely either posed this in terms of what is best for “U.S. national security” or made a putridly narrow appeal to protecting American lives (“these Kurdish fighters are shedding blood to protect Americans from terrorist attacks by ISIS, so we should support them to keep doing that”).2 Trump defends this move in those same terms.

These phrases cover over the reality of a system of imperialist domination of the huge majority of the world’s people and nations, and the imperialist competition over who will be top dog. The U.S. military has murdered nearly ten million people since the end of World War 2 in defense of that system—a system which grinds up the lives of billions of people worldwide in its daily operation and which causes the needless death of millions of children a year through preventable disease.

Third, this is not the first time that forces which have gained the leadership of the struggle of the Kurdish people have tried to ally themselves with greater powers than their immediate oppressor—like in this instance, the U.S.—to gain some form of national self-determination. Every single time this has led to betrayal. This history shows what happens when the masses of people are not led to sharply distinguish their interests from those of the imperialists who promise them deliverance but give them betrayal, and continued oppression.

Fourth, this move by Trump and Turkey is occurring in the context of major changes in the Middle East. Great-power rivalry for the domination of a strategically vital part of the world is heightening, even while regional powers like Turkey and Iran seek to extend their sphere of influence and seek to contend in this mix. Differences and splits in the U.S. ruling class are really sharp over how to extend and maintain U.S. dominance, and this is what is meant by U.S. “national security” interests—the national interests of the U.S. imperialists.

In regard to the significant splits among the rulers that this has widened, it's important for all concerned about humanity and the danger of fascism to return to the crucial orientation which appears on this site every week:

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

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

And to further quote Bob Avakian, who pointed to those paragraphs in his new preface to “Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of ‘Painless Progress’” and wrote that “Clearly, the removal of not just Trump, but also the Christian Fascist Vice President Mike Pence, and indeed this whole fascist regime, is of urgent importance. But this will only serve the fundamental interests of the masses of people—not just in this country but in the world as a whole—if this is achieved, not on the basis of confining things within the terms of and through the furthering of the ‘national interests’ of the monstrously oppressive U.S. empire, but on the basis of the mobilization of mass opposition to the fascism of this Trump/Pence regime, which has been produced by and risen to power through the ‘normal functioning’ of this system, of which it is an extreme but not somehow an ‘alien’ expression.”


1. The Kurdish people are a bitterly oppressed minority who live in the nations of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq, and they are the main group in this area of Syria. [back]

2. Christian fascists have more cast this as a question of defending religious freedom against Sunni Islamic fundamentalist forces like ISIS. Christian fascists who are now in power with the Trump/Pence regime want to institute a Christian-fundamentalist fascist form of rule in society. They perceive and portray their fascist view of Christianity as under siege, and locked in a holy war for domination, and recast current conflicts in society in this framework.  [back]

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

With a Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

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See also:

The Republican Party Is Fascist
The Democratic Party Is Also a Machine of Massive War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity
This System CANNOT Be Reformed—It MUST Be Overthrown!

Republicans, Democrats and U.S. Crimes Against Humanity: A Chart

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/larry-everest-excerpts-on-imperialism-and-the-kurdish-people-en.html

Excerpts on Imperialism and the Kurdish People

from Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire—Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda1

| revcom.us

 

From CHAPTER 2: IRAQ IS NOT PRESENT AT THE CREATION

Incorporating—and Subordinating—the Kurds

In 2003, Saddam Hussein’s history of brutality against Iraq’s Kurdish population would feature prominently in Washington’s indictment of Ba’ath rule and its case for “regime change.” What Bush and company hypocritically ignored and what is rarely mentioned in mainstream coverage, however, was Britain’s role in deepening Kurdish oppression and the U.S. role in perpetuating it.

The Kurdish people have lived in the rugged mountains and valleys of northeast Iraq, western Iran, eastern Turkey and northeast Syria since the 7th century BC. This contiguous area, often called “Greater Kurdistan,” is nearly the size of Iraq. The Kurds are historically a pastoral and nomadic people, raising sheep and goats. Over time many have become peasants, others urban dwellers. Today numbering some 25 to 30 million, Kurds make up the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, behind Arabs, Persians, and Turks. The Kurds converted to Islam in the 7th century AD (around 80 percent are Sunnis, the rest Shi’as), while retaining their national identity. The Kurdish language, a branch of Indo-European family closely related to Iran’s Farsi and Afghanistan’s Dari, is distinct from Arabic and Turkic. Kurdish culture, dress, and history are also distinct.

The Ottomans ruled most of Kurdistan from the 1600s until their empire collapsed following World War I. In 1880, during one Kurdish uprising, Sheikh Ubaidullah wrote the British:

“The Kurdish nation is a nation apart. Its religion is different from that of others, also its laws and customs.... We want to take matters into our own hands. We can no longer put up with the oppression which the governments [of Persia and the Ottoman Empire] impose on us.”33

Unfortunately, subsequent history, explored here and below, would demonstrate that neither the British nor the American empires, despite their claims to benevolence, would bring justice to the Kurds.

Like the Arabs, the Kurds had been promised independence by the world’s major powers following World War I. Point 12 of President Woodrow Wilson’s 1918 “Fourteen Points” declared that “the nationalities now under Turkish rule should...be assured...an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development.”34  The August 1920 Treaty of Sevres formally recognized, for the first time, that the Kurds formed a distinct nationality and forced Turkey to renounce possessions comprised of non-Turkish populations, such as Kurdistan, and stipulated that the Kurds be given “local autonomy.”35

However, Kurdish aspirations, like those of the Arabs, were betrayed and then suppressed for British imperial interests. The Treaty of Sevres would have effectively dismembered Turkey—partitioning it between Italy and Greece, with independent states (or autonomous areas) in the Armenian and Kurdish areas.36 However, the treaty was never ratified and Turkish nationalists, led by Ataturk, rose in revolt and defeated the Greek Army in 1923, making the Sevres agreement moot.

A new treaty was signed by the allies and the new Turkish government at Lausanne, Switzerland on July 23, 1923. It made no mention of Kurdish independence. Instead, it ceded much of Kurdistan to the new Turkish government, which promptly banned all Kurdish schools, organizations, and publications. For decades after, Turkey refused to even acknowledge Kurdish ethnicity—instead calling them “mountain Turks”—and outlawed the Kurdish language. Ataturk’s government brutally crushed a 1925 Kurdish revolt against the Lausanne Treaty, and government assaults, mass deportations, and massacres against the Kurds continued during the 1920s and 1930s.37 Turkey, one of the U.S.’s closest allies in the region, has continued its grim oppression of the Kurds to this day. The Los Angeles Times reported that in December 2001, during the buildup to the 2003 war on Iraq, Turkish military police began scouring Kurdish villages and checking birth records for any newborns given traditional Kurdish names, and then forcing their parents to rename and re-register them with Turkish names. The Turkish regime warned that use of traditional Kurdish names would be considered “terrorist propaganda.”38

Kurds in Iraq also rose for self-rule. In 1919, Sheikh Mahmoud Barzinji declared himself the ruler of an independent Kurdistan and began administering the area around Suleimanieh in north east Iraq. London’s main political officer in Baghdad wrote at the time: “the Kurds wish neither to continue under the Turkish government nor to be placed under the control of the Iraqi government.” He estimated that 80 percent of the Kurds supported independence.39 The British quickly removed Barzinji from power.40 Subsequent revolts were also crushed by British forces in 1922 and by the RAF bombing of Suleimanieh in 1924.

The British were fundamentally no more interested in Kurdish self-determination than the Turks. Rather, they were interested in making sure that the former Ottoman Province of Mosul, an area populated by Kurds and Turkomans, was incorporated into the new state of Iraq, not Turkey. The reason was oil. The British feared that without the oilfields near the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, the new state of Iraq would not be economically viable.41

The British promised the Kurds that the new Iraqi government under their control would recognize “the right of the Kurds who live within the frontiers of Iraq to establish a Government within those frontiers.” And in December 1925, the League of Nations decided in favor of the British: the Mosul region was incorporated into the new state of Iraq with the understanding that the British, whose mandate would continue for 25 years, would ensure Kurdish rights. “The desire of the Kurds that the administrators, magistrates and teachers in their country be drawn from their own ranks, and adopt Kurdish as the official language in all their activities,” the League declared, “will be taken into account.”42

This was the first and only time an international body formally promised the Kurds, of any country, a degree of autonomy. Yet such promises proved as empty as the others made by the British and the League to the peoples of the Middle East. Nor has the League’s successor, the United Nations, ever taken serious steps to uphold the Kurdish peoples’ right to self-determination. Today the Kurdish people remain the largest ethnic group in the world never to have achieved statehood.

Cobbling Together a Country

The new state of Iraq that emerged from these post-war years of foreign rivalry and maneuvering was born with deep internal fault lines, which have frequently been exploited by outside powers in the decades since. Britain had no desire to see a strong state arise in the midst of the world’s greatest oil fields. The British had created Iraq by combining three demographically distinct administrative units of the Ottoman Empire: Basra in the Shi’a south, Baghdad in the Sunni center, and Mosul in the Kurdish north.

The result was a patchwork of polities: the Kurdish areas comprised roughly 17 percent of Iraq’s 438,446 square kilometers, and some 20 percent of its population. Sixty percent of Iraqis were Shi’a Arabs living in the south; and some 20 percent were Sunni Arabs living in the center. Turkomans, who mainly live in the north, made up some 2.4 percent of the population, Persians 1.7 percent, and Chaldean Christian and Assyrians another 3.6 percent. In A History of the Modern Middle East, author William Cleveland notes that these groups “did not constitute a political community in any sense of the term,” yet the formation of Iraq drastically changed their political worlds.43

The British held this agglomeration together by relying on the Sunni Arab-based monarchy, backed by British arms, to rule over the Shi’a south and the Kurdish north. This oppressive configuration was supported by London and Washington—most glaringly in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War as explored in chapter 5—up until the 2003 overthrow of the Hussein regime. The point of this arrangement was to prevent the emergence of a Kurdish state, which could threaten the stability of Iran to the east and Turkey to the north; and also to prevent the rise of Shi’a power. Prior to 1979, this could have destabilized the Shah’s rule in Iran; after his fall it could have increased the regional influence of Iran’s Islamic Republic. Today, the U.S. occupation of Iraq has not resolved these deep ethnic and religious tensions; instead, they have the potential to help turn Washington’s conquest into a quagmire.

The new state lay at the head of the Persian Gulf, soon to become the heart of the world oil industry, and was bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, and Jordan and Syria to the west. Three of these states—Turkey, Iran, and Syria, shared overlapping Kurdish populations with Iraq—a demographic that the U.S. has frequently exploited to weaken Iraq.

In 1932, Britain’s League of Nations mandate ended and Iraq became formally independent, but London still effectively ruled. Its armed forces remained in Iraq to ensure the continuation of the monarchy, which was widely hated and rightly considered a tool of British interests.

There were repeated uprisings against the British and the King, which British forces violently put down. In July 1931, RAF planes buzzed towns along the Euphrates River to intimidate an Iraqi general strike. That year and the next, the RAF bombed Kurdish rebels in Barzan.44 British planes were deployed against numerous uprisings, mainly in Kurdish areas, between 1936 and 1941. And during World War II, British troops invaded and occupied Iraq to depose the nationalist and pro-German government of Prime Minister Rashid Ali, who had seized power in 1941 with support from reformist intellectuals and nationalist army officers. During the war, preventing Iraq’s oil from falling into German hands became an important military objective.

From CHAPTER 3: SADDAM HUSSEIN’S AMERICAN TRAIN

The CIA Forms a “Health Alterations Committee”

The U.S. also sought to weaken Qasim [an Iraqi general who took power in 1958, overthrowing Iraq's pro-imperialist monarchy] by encouraging a Kurdish insurgency. The Kurds had initially welcomed the 1958 revolution, but it soon became clear that Qasim and the military would not grant their demands for autonomy and a share of the country’s oil wealth. By 1960, the U.S. and the Shah of Iran were arming the Kurds and supporting their revolt.53 According to Morris, the CIA plotted against Qasim and tried—unsuccessfully—to assassinate him:

In Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad, American agents marshaled opponents of the Iraqi regime. Washington set up a base of operations in Kuwait, intercepting Iraqi communications and radioing orders to rebels.... The CIA’s “Health Alteration Committee,” as it was tactfully called, sent Kassem a monogrammed, poisoned handkerchief, though the potentially lethal gift either failed to work or never reached its victim.54

....

Two years earlier, in 1961, the U.S. had encouraged the Kurds to rebel against Qasim. Now, in April 1963, just months after the Ba’ath massacre [of thousands of members of the Iraqi Communist Party, with CIA assistance, as part of their coup against Qasim], the U.S. turned against the Kurds and flew arms from Iran and Turkey to northern Iraq to help the new Ba’ath regime put them down. American and British companies were also pleased: “Soon, Western corporations like Mobil, Bechtel and British Petroleum were doing business with Baghdad,” Morris reports.70

....

Playing the Kurdish “Card” (Again!)

To hear the Bush II administration tell it, Iraq’s Kurds could have no better allies than their self-proclaimed friends in Washington. Bush and company repeatedly denounced the Hussein regime’s “persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans and others,” as Bush put it before the United Nations in September 2002, and argued that war, conquest, and regime change were needed to assure Kurdish freedoms.97

The proponents of the 2003 war never saw fit, of course, to mention the actual, sordid record of Washington’s manipulation and betrayal of the Kurds during the 1970s, which we delve into below. That history not only makes U.S. promises ring hollow and hypocritical, but casts Washington’s true intentions toward the Kurds in a starkly different light.

In 1972, Nixon, Kissinger and Iran’s Shah also came up with a cynical plan to deal with its concerns in the Persian Gulf: encouraging an insurgency by Iraq’s Kurds in order to weaken Baghdad. In May, Nixon and Kissinger visited Moscow and promised that the U.S. would join the Soviets to “promote conditions in which all countries will live in peace and security and will not be subject to outside interference.” Seymour Hersh, a long-time investigative journalist for the New York Times and later the New Yorker, writes in his biography of Kissinger that, “The next day, Nixon and Kissinger flew to Tehran and made a secret commitment to the Shah to clandestinely supply arms to the Kurdish rebel faction inside Soviet-supported Iraq....”98 The goal, Kissinger later explained, was for the Shah to “keep Iraq occupied by supporting the Kurdish rebellion within Iraq, and maintain a large army near the frontier.”99

Since Iraq’s creation by the British, its Kurdish population has suffered systematic discrimination and oppression. Much of Iraq’s oil flows from fields around Kirkuk in Iraqi Kurdistan. Yet Iraqi Kurds saw few benefits from Iraq’s petroleum wealth and had no voice in its oil policy. Kurdistan remained undeveloped, with fewer industries, roads, schools, and hospitals than the rest of Iraq. Kurds were discriminated against in government employment and had little control over even their local affairs.

Following the Ba’ath takeover in 1968, the new regime promised Kurds that their lot would improve. Iraq’s new 1970 constitution recognized “the national rights of the Kurdish People and the legitimate rights of all minorities within the unity of Iraq.” A 1974 “Law for Autonomy in the Area of Kurdistan” promised that Kurdish would be an official language, used in Kurdish schools.100 These actions marked Iraq’s broadest official recognition of Kurdish identity and rights. (In contrast, neighboring Iran and Turkey, then staunch U.S. allies, have never even formally recognized the Kurds as a distinct nationality, let alone promised them national rights.)

However, during negotiations in 1971 between the Ba’ath regime and Kurdish representatives, it became clear that the key issues of Kurdish control of local security forces, receiving a fair portion of Iraq’s oil income, and sharing national power were not on the table. The Ba’ath also began encouraging Iraqi Arabs to move to Kurdistan and attempted to assassinate Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani.101 Barzani, who had been in contact with the U.S. and the Shah (and perhaps Israel) since the early 1960s, turned to them once again for help against Baghdad. Barzani even promised the Washington Post that if the U.S. backed the Kurdish struggle, “we are ready to do what goes with American policy in this area if America will protect us from the wolves. If support were strong enough, we could control the Kirkuk field and give it to an American company to operate.”102

The Kissinger-Shah plan went into effect in 1972. Iran and the U.S. encouraged the Kurds to rise against Baghdad and provided them millions of dollars in weapons, logistical support, and funds. Over the next 3 years, $16 million in CIA money was given to Iraq’s Kurds, and Iran provided the Kurds with some 90 percent of their weapons, including advanced artillery.103

The U.S. goal, however, was neither victory nor self-determination for Iraqi Kurds. The CIA feared such a strategy “would have the effect of prolonging the insurgency, thereby encouraging separatist aspirations and possibly providing to the Soviet Union an opportunity to create difficulties” for U.S. allies Turkey and Iran.104 A Congressional investigation of CIA activities, headed by New York Congressman Otis Pike, concluded that “none of the nations who were aiding [the Kurds] seriously desired that they realize their objective of an autonomous state.”105 Rather, the U.S. and the Shah sought to weaken Iraq and deplete its energies. According to CIA memos and cables, they viewed the Kurds as “a card to play” against Iraq, and “a uniquely useful tool for weakening [Iraq’s] potential for international adventurism.”

To this end, Iran instituted “draconian controls” on its military assistance and never gave the Kurds more than three days worth of ammunition in order to deny them the freedom of action needed for victory.106 At one point in 1973, Kissinger personally intervened to halt a planned Kurdish offensive for fear it would succeed and complicate U.S. machinations in the wake of the October Arab-Israeli War.107 The Pike investigation concluded:

The president, Dr. Kissinger, and the Shah hoped that our clients would not prevail. They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally’s [Iran’s] neighbouring country. The policy was not imparted to our clients, who were encouraged to continue fighting.108

“Ours Was a Cynical Enterprise”

By 1975, the Kurdish insurgency posed the gravest threat the Ba’ath Regime had yet faced. Some 45,000 Kurdish guerrillas, aided by two Iranian divisions, had pinned down 80 percent of Iraq’s 100,000 troops, severely straining Iraq’s economy and military.109 Kissinger and the Shah wanted neither all-out war, nor the collapse of the Iraqi regime. Rather, they sought to force Iraq to curb its anti-Israeli Arab nationalism and to pry it from its Soviet patrons, demonstrating to others in the region that being a Soviet client didn’t pay. The Shah also wanted to prove that Iran was the Gulf’s strongest power and a reliable regional gendarme for the U.S., as well as to renegotiate the Sa’dabad Pact of 1937, which had given control of the entire Shatt al Arab waterway between the two countries to Iraq.110

The Shah planned to abandon the Kurds “the minute he came to an agreement with his enemy over border disputes,” one CIA memo noted. Eight hours after Iraq did agree to U.S.-Iranian terms, which were formalized in the Algiers Agreement of March 1975, the Shah and the U.S. cut off aid—including food—and closed Iran’s border, cutting off Kurdish lines of retreat.111

The Kurds had no idea that they were about to be abandoned. But Iraq knew, and the next day it launched an all-out, “search-and-destroy” attack. The Kurds, who had been led to believe that the U.S. was acting as a “guarantor” against betrayal by the Shah, were taken by complete surprise. Deprived of Iranian support, Kurdish forces were quickly decimated and between 150,000 and 300,000 Kurds were forced to flee into Iran.112

The U.S. coldly betrayed its erstwhile Kurdish “allies,” but even then, as the Pike Commission sardonically noted, “The cynicism of the U.S. and its ally had not yet completely run its course.” Barzani had written to Kissinger, pleading desperately for help. Kissinger didn’t bother replying.

Washington then “refused to extend humanitarian assistance to the thousands of refugees created by the abrupt termination of military aid,” the Pike Commission reported. One CIA cable acknowledged, “[O]ur ally [Iran] was later to forcibly return over 40,000 of the refugees and the United States government refused to admit even one refugee into the United States by way of political asylum even though they qualified for such admittance.”113

The U.S.-Iranian covert campaign further poisoned relations between Baghdad and Iraq’s Kurds. The Pike Commission concluded that if the U.S. and the Shah hadn’t encouraged the insurgency, the Kurds “may have reached an accommodation with the central government, thus gaining at least a measure of autonomy while avoiding further bloodshed. Instead, our clients [the Kurds] fought on, sustaining thousands of casualties and 200,000 refugees.”114

Baghdad also retaliated with a massive pacification campaign: some 250,000 Kurds were forcibly relocated to central and southern Iraq, while many Arab Iraqis were forced to move to into traditionally Kurdish areas.115

In what became an infamous remark, Kissinger dismissed the Pike Commission’s concerns: “Covert action,” he said, “should not be confused with missionary work.” Nonetheless, the Commission concluded, “Even in this context of covert operations, ours was a cynical enterprise.”116 It is important to note here that as these events were taking place (beginning in September 1973), Kissinger’s top aide was General Brent Scowcroft, who would later become National Security Advisor under Bush, Sr. and an architect of the 1991 Persian Gulf war on Iraq. It is also important to note that if the U.S. government had had its way, the Pike Commission’s damning exposures would have never seen the light of day. First, the House of Representatives voted not to release the document. Then, when CBS correspondent Daniel Schorr obtained a leaked copy and gave it to the Village Voice, he was promptly fired by CBS and threatened with contempt of Congress for refusing to reveal his sources. A new Director of Central Intelligence had just been appointed when this attempted cover-up took place. His name was George H.W. Bush.117

As we’ll explore in the next chapter, the United States government again resorted to a cynical “no win” strategy during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s with even more horrific consequences for Iranians, Iraqis and Kurds.

From CHAPTER 4: ARMING IRAQ—DOUBLE-DEALING DEATH IN THE GULF

Gas Massacres in Kurdistan

In 2003, the heinous gassing of Iraq’s Kurds during the Iran-Iraq War ranked high on the Bush, Jr. administration’s list of charges against the Hussein regime. Yet when these attacks were actually taking place, the U.S. government was not only supporting the Hussein regime, it was directly complicit in the gas massacres themselves.

During the war, Iraq’s Kurds took advantage of Baghdad’s focus on Iran to take control of Kurdish areas near the Iranian and Turkish borders. When Iranian forces moved into sections of Iraqi Kurdistan, as they sometimes did, they were often aided by Kurdish forces. By 1986, Baghdad held only the cities in Kurdistan, while Kurdish peshmergas controlled the surrounding countryside. In the midst of war, with the regime under great stress, the Kurdish insurgency forced Iraq to divert troops from the Iranian front and again posed a serious challenge to Baghdad. It responded viciously.

In 1983, Hussein put his cousin Ali Hasan al-Majid in charge of reasserting Ba’ath control, and he earned the sobriquet “Chemical Ali” for his murderous efforts. One of his first actions was rounding up some 8,000 males from the clan of Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani. They were never seen again.99 Kurds claim that the Hussein regime first used chemical weapons against them a year later. Chemical attacks further escalated in the spring of 1987.

Beginning in February 1988, as the war was winding down and momentum had shifted back to Iraq, the Hussein regime unleashed its “Al-anfal” (spoils of war) campaign—a seven-month rampage of murder, destruction, and scorched-earth vengeance against Iraq’s Kurds. Chemical attacks were stepped up, fields were destroyed, villages bulldozed, and survivors forcibly transferred to government resettlement camps outside of Kurdistan.

Charles Tripp, author of A History of Iraq, writes that by the time the campaign ended in August 1988, the Kurdish resistance had been crushed and “roughly 80 percent of all the villages had been destroyed, much of the agricultural land was declared ‘prohibited territory’ and possibly 60,000 people had lost their lives.”100

An estimated 3,800 Kurdish villages—the foundation of Kurdish life—were affected. In the 12 months from March 1987 until March 1988, Kurds were subjected to chemical attacks on 211 separate days.101 When I traveled around Suleiymeniah in Iraqi Kurdistan in the summer of 1991, I saw piles of stone rubble where Kurdish villages had once stood—grim testimony to the ferocity of the regime’s campaign.

The most notorious Iraqi attack took place on March 16, 1988 in the Kurdish town of Halabja. Iranian troops and Kurdish fighters had taken control of Halabja, some 15 miles from the border with Iran, and Iraq mounted a chemical weapons counter-attack to retake it. Some 5,000 Kurds were massacred in a few hours by a lethal combination that may have included mustard gas, cyanide, and the first recorded military use of nerve gas. People reportedly died where they had been standing, and bodies littered the streets.102

Independent journalist and Democracy Now! contributor Jeremy Scahill reports that in 1991 U.S. intelligence sources told the Los Angeles Times that they believed U.S.-built helicopters had been used to drop chemical bombs.103

Washington’s Silence and Complicity

In September 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell made a much-publicized trip to Halabja to visit the mass graves of those killed in the Hussein regime’s gassing; he even lit candles in memory of the victims. Given Washington’s complicity in creating those mass graves—and Powell’s own as a Defense Department official in the Carter, Reagan and Bush I administrations—his posturing in Iraqi Kurdistan was yet another display of the shameless hypocrisy of those running the U.S. empire.104

Throughout the 1980s, the U.S. supported attacks on Kurds throughout Greater Kurdistan, and steadfastly opposed recognizing their basic rights, let alone self-determination. This was done in service of overall U.S. objectives: preserving the “territorial integrity” and ruling governments of Iraq, Iran and Turkey and thus a regional balance of power that maintained U.S. dominance.

Iran’s Kurdish population rose up with millions of other Iranians to overthrow the hated Shah in 1979, but when they demanded their national rights, the U.S. government publicly supported the Khomeini regime’s efforts to crush them. This was brought home to me during trips to Iranian Kurdistan in 1979 and 1980, when, traveling with Iranian peshmergas, we were forced to drive with lights out in the dead of night to evade U.S. fighter jets, sold to the Shah and then utilized by the Khomeini regime, which streaked overhead strafing Kurdish positions along our route.

The picture was similar in Turkey. Its Kurdish population rose against the dictatorial Turkish regime in 1984, and the U.S. supported Ankara’s brutal suppression campaign with increased U.S. aid, which included supplying 80 percent of Turkey’s heavy weapons.105

Former U.S. Marine and UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter says that the U.S. assisted the Hussein regime in its chemical attacks on the Kurds: “Wafiq Samarai the former head of the Iraqi intelligence service responsible for Iran—I have met with him many times—and he has said that U.S. advisers were sitting there as Iraq planned the inclusion of chemical weapons in the Anfal offensive [of 1987-88].”106 Throughout the Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. maintained a “no-contacts” policy and refused to even meet with Iraqi Kurdish representatives. Washington’s approach was spelled out in the recently declassified, National Security Directive 26 (NSD-26), signed by President George H. W. Bush in October 1989:

We should oppose Iraqi military activities against the civilian population and the destruction of hundreds of villages in Kurdistan. But bearing in mind the historical context, in no way should we associate ourselves with the 60-year-old Kurdish rebellion in Iraq or oppose Iraq’s legitimate attempts to suppress it. 107

NSD-26 stated that Iraqi use of chemical or biological weapons or development of nuclear arms, would “lead to economic and political sanctions,” but these provisions were not enforced because they conflicted with overall U.S. strategy.108 For instance, after the gassing at Halabja, Secretary of State Schultz condemned the attack as “abhorrent and unjustifiable,” and the Senate passed the “Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988,” which would have imposed economic sanctions on Iraq (reflecting concerns of some strategists that the Hussein regime might not be a reliable client). The Reagan and Bush administrations, however, were still committed to turning Iraq into a strategic ally and blocked any action against Baghdad. U.S. officials argued that sanctions were “premature” because Washington needed “solid, businesslike relations” with Iraq. As one government memo stated, “there should be no radical policy change now regarding Iraq.”109 No sanctions were imposed and the “Genocide Act” died in Congress.

Instead, U.S. aid and trade increased. Guaranteed U.S. agricultural exports to Iraq peaked in 1988 at $1.1 billion. By early 1990, Iraq had become America’s third leading Middle East trade partner, after Saudi Arabia and Israel, purchasing $433.6 million worth of U.S. goods. The U.S., meanwhile, was importing 500,000 barrels of Iraqi oil a day by 1988.110

 

FOOTNOTES:

From Chapter 2

33. John Bulloch and Harvey Morris, No Friends but the Mountains: the Tragic History of the Kurds (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 73.  [back]

34. Simons, 297.  [back]

35. Gerard Chaliand, ed., People Without A Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan (London: Zed Press, 1980), 12.  [back]

36. Peter Sluglett, “The Kurds,” in Saddam’s Iraq: Revolution or Reaction?, Committee Against Repression and for Democratic Rights in Iraq, 2nd ed., (London: Zed Books, 1989), 179.  [back]

37. Chaliand, People Without A Country, 235; Sluglett, 179-80.  [back]

38. Richard Boundreau, “Nameless Kurds of Turkey,” Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2003.  [back]

39. Vanly, 159.  [back]

40. Middle East Watch, Human Rights in Iraq (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990), 71.  [back]

41. Middle East Watch, 72.  [back]

42. Middle East Watch, 72.  [back]

43. Cleveland, 201.  [back]

44. Simons, 217.  [back]

From Chapter 3

53. Blum, Rogue State, 134; Lee F. Dinsmore, “Regrets for a Minor American Role in a Major Kurdish Disaster,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 1991, 9.  [back]

54. Morris, New York Times, March 14, 2003.  [back]

70. Aburish, 59; Morris, New York Times, March 14, 2003.  [back]

97. Bush, Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2002.  [back]

98. Seymour M. Hersh, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House (New York: Summit Books, 1983), 542.  [back]

99. Kissinger, Years of Upheaval, 674-75.  [back]

100. Middle East Watch, 70.  [back]

101. Tripp, 200-201.  [back]

102. Dinsmore, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 1991; Washington Post, June 22, 1973 cited in Simons, 302.  [back]

103. Bulloch and Morris, No Friends But the Mountains, 138-39.  [back]

104. CIA: The Pike Report (United Kingdom: Spokesman Books, 1977), 211. Extensive excerpts from the Select Committee on Intelligence, or Pike report, were also published in the New York Times and the Village Voice. “The CIA Report the President Doesn’t Want You to Read,” Village Voice, February 16, 1976; “House Committee Finds Intelligence Agencies Generally Go Unchecked” and “Intelligence Report Leaks Denounced by White House,” articles by Nicholas M. Horrock and John M. Crewdson, New York Times, January 26 and 27, 1976.  [back]

105. Pike Report, 214.  [back]

106. Vanly, 187.  [back]

107. Bulloch and Morris, No Friends But the Mountains, 140.  [back]

108. Pike Report, 197.  [back]

109. Dilip Hiro, The Longest War (New York: Routledge, 1991),16; Simons, 303.  [back]

110. Vanly, 186.  [back]

111. Vanly, 187.  [back]

112. Pike Report, 197-98; Cleveland, 398-99; Vanly, 189.  [back]

113. Pike Report, 198, 217.  [back]

114. Pike Report, 197.  [back]

115. Cleveland, 398-99.  [back]

116. Pike Report, 198.  [back]

117. Otis Pike, “We’ve Given Them False Hope Before,” San Francisco Examiner, April 10, 1991; Daniel Schorr, “1975 Background to Betrayal,” Washington Post, April 7, 1991, D3; Christopher Hitchens, “Minority Report,” The Nation, May 6, 1991, 58; all cited in Tony Murphy, “Encouraging Rebellion: The Cynical Use of the Kurds and the Shiites,” in “High Crimes and Misdemeanors: U.S. War Crimes in the Persian Gulf,” Research Committee of the San Francisco Commission of Inquiry of the International War Crimes Tribunal, 1991.  [back]

From Chapter 4

99. Tripp, 243.  [back]

100. Tripp, 243.  [back]

101. Bulloch and Morris, No Friends but the Mountains, 142.  [back]

102. Bulloch and Morris, No Friends but the Mountains, 142.  [back]

103. Scahill, ZNET, August 4, 2003  [back]

104. Jonathan Wright (Reuters), “Powell Visits Mass Grave of Hussein’s Victims,” Washington Post, September 15, 2003.  [back]

105. Cleveland, 506; Noam Chomsky, “Prospects for Peace in the Middle East,” speech at the University of Toledo, March 4, 2001 (www.matrixmasters.com/wtc/chomsky); Middle East Watch, 79-80. In 1982, Iraq signed an agreement with Turkey authorizing Turkish forces to enter Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish rebels from Turkey, or to conduct joint operations with Iraqi forces against Iraqi Kurds. This agreement helped Iraq deploy more forces against Iran. Clark, 6.  [back]

106. Phil Donahue Show, January 13, 2003, MSNBC.  [back]

107. Jentleson, 104, emphasis in original.  [back]

108. Phythian, 42. It also urged that the U.S. “should pursue and seek to facilitate, opportunities for US firms to participate in the reconstruction of the Iraqi economy, particularly in the energy area, where they do not conflict with our non-proliferation and other significant objectives,” foreshadowing the 2002-2003 discussion of U.S. control of Iraq’s petroleum industry following “regime change” in Baghdad.  [back]

109. Jentleson, 69.  [back]

110. Ridgeway, 13-14; Teicher and Teicher, 393.  [back]

 


1. Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire – Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda (Common Courage Press, 2004)  [back]


People running for cover from mortar fire on the border with Turkey, October 10, 2019. Photo: AP

 

Above: Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al Ayn, northeast Syria, October 9, 2019.

Below: Syrians bury Syrian Democratic Forces fighters killed fighting Turkish forces in the Syrian town of Qamishli, October 12, 2019.


Photos: AP

Above: On March 16, 1988, the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein launched a poison gas attack against the Kurdish town of Halabja in the final days of the Iran-Iraq War, killing some 5,000 civilians.

Below: Kurds flee the attempted Anfal genocide which killed between 50,000 and 182,000 Kurds in Iraq, 1986-1989. Photo: Wikipedia.

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/trump-blatantly-tramples-on-the-constitution-en.html

As Trump Blatantly Tramples on the Constitution and Whips Up His Fascist Mobs...

Do You Really Think That Just "Relying on the Process" Will Drive Out the Fascist Regime?

| revcom.us

 

This week the Trump/Pence regime has counterattacked in two ways against the attempts of the Democrats to impeach Trump.

First, the regime has gone further in defying the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, ordering all those in the regime not to obey what are in fact lawful subpoenas from Congress to testify and declaring in a public letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the whole impeachment process is by definition “illegitimate.”

Second, Trump himself has held televised rallies to further stir up, weld together, and prepare for battle the fascist mobs who support him. His speech to a crowd in Minneapolis was more racist, jingoistic, and misogynist than ever and his message to them was clear: “they want to erase your vote ... they want to erase your voice, and they want to erase your future.” These rallies are part of an all-out fascist mobilization for Trump, including through FOX TV (more accurately known as Fascist News Network).

In fact, those who support Trump not only fear their future may be “erased,” but they are willing—and the fascist regime is organizing them in these rallies—to fight to defend that future, violently if need be. The Minnesota rally featured a conflict between the mayor of the city and the head of the police union over whether the police could attend in uniform. When the mayor ruled that they could not, a huge number of police came as a bloc anyway, dressed in red MAGA gear. Trump crowed from the stage that “Cops love Trump, and Trump loves cops.”

In the face of this, can you just sit at home and watch TV and hope that somehow the Democratic Party-led impeachment process will go forward and actually remove Trump, while you stand aside or maybe ease your conscience by sending a check to some candidate? Can you really put your faith in these Democratic politicians to deal with this kind of thing? What evidence makes you think, given their sorry record of capitulation to this fascist movement over the past 30 years, that they will? In fact, many of these Democrats concede in advance that Trump will likely stay in office no matter what happens, because of Republican dominance of the Senate. Without massive, sustained, nonviolent action from below demanding that the Trump/Pence regime be OUT NOW, carried out by millions with the same conviction that this is a fight for a future worth living, do you really think Trump and Pence and the rest will just accept the result, if somehow he were convicted in a Senate trial? The outcome of this battle will be disastrous and potentially catastrophic if those who are on the side of humanity do not understand that the stakes here really are the future of humanity and are willing to act on them with at least the same level of conviction as those fascist mobs Trump marshals.

In this light, there was one encouraging sign in Minnesota—the thousands who came out to oppose Trump and stand up to the MAGA mobs. More, much more, of this spirit and these kinds of actions need to happen... and need to feed into a broad movement around the single unified demand of OUT NOW!, beginning in New York and Los Angeles on October 19.


October 11, 2019, Minneapolis protest against Trump. Photo: Lorie Shaull/Flickr

Now More Than Ever!

See excerpts and the Q&A of this film

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Thousands in the Streets at Minneapolis “Dump Trump!” Protest, October 10

| revcom.us

 

From a reader:

On Thursday night, October 10, in Minneapolis, thousands of people poured into the streets in spirited and defiant protest to defy Trump’s fascist rally. It was the most significant and sizable protest of one of Trump’s rallies that has happened in a long time, maybe the most significant to date. At a defining moment in the country and the world, thousands jam-packed the streets directly in front of Target Center where Trump was holding his rally, declaring “Dump Trump!” Yet this powerful, very timely protest has been largely blacked out by the national media, including independent media, while the size and character of the protest has been distorted in most of the Minneapolis media.

Just days before his rally, Trump had openly declared his refusal to cooperate with the newly opened impeachment inquiry—tweeting a warning of civil war—and now Trump and Pence were both personally appearing in the Twin Cities, a staunchly blue metropolitan area. This was a hard-core fascist mobilization, a double down in the face of the impeachment crisis. There were red-shirted “Cops for Trump” inside who lashed out all week because they were ordered not to wear their uniforms. The Oath Keepers, armed fascist thugs, had announced they would be there. The crowd inside was whipped up with ugly racist diatribes, demonizing the large Somali refugee community in Minneapolis and attacking congressperson Ilhan Omar. All this was in the context of blasting the impeachment proceedings. In ugly demagogic style, Trump used vicious white supremacy to fuel his contempt for Democratic Party opposition, saying Joe Biden was only a good vice president because he “understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

In front of Trump’s rally, thousands of protesters flooded the streets. There were Muslim rights groups, immigrant rights groups, labor unions, black bloc anarchists, advocates and activists around indigenous rights, police brutality, trans rights, and many other organizations. People held rainbow flags, antifa flags, abortion rights posters, and lots of homemade signs. People of many generations came out, including high school youths, college students, middle-aged and older people. It was largely middle strata but people who are the immediate targets of Trump’s regime protested, including immigrants, African-Americans, and people from the Somali refugee community.

It became a festival of protest in a very good way—undeterred by rain and growing in numbers over a few hours. There were a lot of signs that said impeach, as well as signs that said Trump should be in jail, Dump Trump, Fuck Trump... and more than one sign that said, “tick tock motherfucker” (as in time to go). Many blew whistles given out by organizers in support of the whistleblower whose complaint forced House Speaker Pelosi to begin the impeachment inquiry. There was a great marching band playing for hours. A well-known club across the street from Target Center had a giant “Baby Trump” balloon on its roof and had publicly announced it was donating proceeds that day to Planned Parenthood.

When asked, many protesters said Trump has to go because of the racism and divisiveness, but there were also signs focused on corruption, and often spontaneously a focus on Trump the person instead of his whole program.

A news report said armed members of the Oath Keepers were briefly detained by police a few blocks from Target Center. Fascists definitely mingled through the crowds of protesters. Many people were not in the mood to put up with supporters of everything represented by Trump, and youths taunted his followers, especially as it got later into the evening. News reports showed videos of a pile of red hats with the Trump slogan “Make America Great Again” getting burned at the end of the night and there was a stand-off with police who used pepper spray directly in protesters’ faces.

Members of the Revolution Club, Chicago and Refuse Fascism, Chicago drove up to Minneapolis to join the protest and work to impact it with the message that the Trump/Pence regime must go NOW and there is a way to do that through the #OutNow movement of sustained, mass, nonviolent protest, beginning in New York City and Los Angeles October 19 and spreading nationwide October 26 and then week after week.

During rush hour the morning of Trump’s rally and the counterprotest, a Refuse Fascism banner was displayed over a busy highway into downtown Minneapolis declaring, “Trump Pence Must Go” which got many honks from motorists.

In the afternoon before the start of the protest, the Chicago contingent set up on a busy downtown street a few blocks away with the banner, “Trump/Pence #OUTNOW.” A member of the Revolution Club got on the loudspeaker, beginning to rally people. This began going live on Facebook to get the word out. Then we marched over to where the protest was starting, bringing with us some of the people just recruited.

One person who joined in said they had been looking for a way to do something but hadn’t known what they could do. They marched with us and helped pass out flyers and ran with the contingent most of the night. This was a common sentiment throughout the night mainly among those who were not activists. Several people found a way to act and took stacks of flyers and be part of getting them out widely.

Throughout the protest, we worked to get the #OutNow message to have the biggest impact possible, and we worked to organize as many people as possible on the spot to take up this mission. The call of “OUT NOW” resonated widely, but it took more work to get people to see what #OutNow actually means and to step forward to take responsibility to help make this happen. We were filmed and photographed by media in English and Spanish (print and radio), while as yet we don’t know if it hit the news.

We worked to widen the #OutNow impact by doing a snake march through the crowds, chanting “Puerto Rico showed us how, Trump and Pence OUT NOW!” through a heavily crowded part of the protest. Jammed in between the crowds of people, many started chanting with us and reached out to grab flyers and pass them along. The people carrying the Trump/Pence #OutNow banner were stopped by people to take photos of the banner. One person grabbed the arm of one of the people carrying the banner insisting, “You have to tell me—what happened in Puerto Rico?”

Several times we posted up in places where people were moving through and spoke over the loudspeaker about how this is a FASCIST regime and why WE have to get in the streets in SUSTAINED protest to drive it from power. Almost every time we started speaking, a crowd of people were listening, filming, and engaging. We broke down how the impeachment on its own won’t stop fascism, why relying on the Democrats and the normal mechanisms of politics hasn’t worked to stop this and won’t work. And there was a visceral reaction among some about how this goes back to the roots of fascism in the history of white supremacy, genocide, as well as empire including the slaughter green-lighted by Trump being carried out at that very moment by Turkish military against Kurdish and Syrian people. People listening divided out, with some walking away as it became clear that #OutNow was calling for something very different than protest as usual. Others became more drawn in. Some youths said that something here was being put together for them that they’d been feeling but don’t hear anyone else saying.

At times we would ask people to raise their hands to become an organizer of the #OutNow movement. When hands went up, we would ask people to come up and speak on the mic and tell others why they were stepping forward and why we need to drive Trump and Pence out now. Most of those who came up to speak were not used to speaking on a mic and finding the words they wanted to say, but in heartfelt ways expressed their frustration with what is happening to people and society.

When it came to people stepping forward as new organizers, some would step forward right away. Others said they can’t because they didn’t feel ready to organize a protest but would come. We worked at trying to help people see both how they can become involved in making this happen even if they are not ready to organize a protest, as well as we are going to need to do new things we’ve never done before because it is what’s needed in the interests of humanity. More could have been done to bring people into the movement on different levels, including with the fundraising.

In one of the later rounds of this, several young people stuck around for a long time listening, and some engaging back and forth. Some got on the mic, and one woman in particular started off saying she couldn’t be an organizer but later came up and said she would become one because Trump and Pence have to go. By the time we left, some people we’d just met had started to come up with beginning plans for a protest in Minneapolis on October 26.

Although thousands of people came together in opposition to Trump’s fascist rally in Minneapolis, not only did the Minneapolis police issue no estimate whatsoever as to the size of the crowd, for the most part Minnesota media coverage completely distorted—in other words, just plain lied—about the huge size of the crowd, stating instead that “hundreds of protesters” came out to oppose Trump. The national media, including independent media, has thus far in the main straight-up whited out the whole protest, overwhelmingly ignoring the indisputably newsworthy fact of the scale and significance of thousands jamming the streets outside Trump’s Minneapolis rally with the demand “Dump Trump!”

 

Thousands protest Trump in Minneapolis, October 10.
Photo: @ChiRevClub.

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NOT GUILTY VERDICT IN UCLA TRIAL!

Editors’ Note and Update, as we go to press:

A very important victory was won in the trial of the UCLA 5, with all the defendants found NOT GUILTY on ALL charges brought against them. 

As we have noted before, this has been a case of an outrageous prosecution of people who bravely stood up to challenge a major representative of the fascist Trump/Pence regime, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The protestors, defendants in this case, were physically dragged out and brutalized by the campus police (the UCPD). Instead of protecting the rights of the protestors to speak out, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and its administrators initiated the arrests, and have actively collaborated with the LA City Attorney and the UCPD to bring multiple charges and put these heroes on trial. Instead of getting away with this, the prosecution of the UCLA5 was handed a resounding defeat, a victory for the people! This was the result of a real battle waged inside the courtroom and in society more generally. Authorities were simply not allowed to pretend that this prosecution was a simple matter of law-breaking and criminal acts. Instead it was exposed for what it actually was: a full-out political attack on people’s rights to speak out and protest fascism, and an attempt to silence future dissent and protest on the campus. This was part of a wider escalation of repression against those politically fighting the fascist regime and seeking its ouster through the nonviolent sustained mobilization of the millions who seek an end to this nightmare.  

This trial has tremendous significance—signifying great stakes, not only in what we are confronting and for the immediate and critical struggle to oust this fascist regime from power, but for the prospects and dynamics of radical change more broadly. With reportage and reflections from the defendants and those on the ground in LA, we will be covering this over the next few days, so stay tuned. Coverage will include aspects such as: people being selectively targeted, arrested and then brutalized for their political opposition; the way in which the Democratic-controlled LA City government, the UCPD, and especially UCLA acted as active facilitators for the fascist Trump/Pence regime; the fact that those charged refused to take this but instead made it a major battle, fighting back both politically but also working closely with the lawyers to take the offensive to the maximum degree possible even within the courtroom itself; the way in which the stand and honesty of the defendants, up against the viciousness of the Trump/Pence regime and its willing accomplices in the LA government, really moved the jury; the responses of the broader masses, the jury and its larger pool signifying something broader and potentially positive about societal mood and sentiments about this fascist regime; and the fact that the defendants are now going to further take the political offensive against the school for its complicity and the city for its utterly illegal and outrageously unjust, fascist-facilitating behavior.

Today, as part of this process, we are continuing to run the statement made by defendant Tala Deloria after the verdict. We will continue this coverage in the weeks ahead.

For immediate release October 11 2019
Contact: Refuse Fascism (917) 407-1286
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This statement was made by Defendant Tala Deloria* on behalf of all the defendants in the case of the UCLA 5:

Today a jury in West LA returned a not guilty verdict in the trial of the UCLA5.  This is an important victory for the people—for the millions who hate the Trump/Pence Regime and who want to see them OUT NOW!

This is a prosecution of students who stood up to the loyal fascist in Trump’s inner circle—an arrest instigated by the University of California—and prosecuted by the “liberal” city attorney.  A jury not only saw through a case that included a judge erasing an important reference to the first amendment in the law in his jury instructions, and evidence about police use of force suppressed by the prosecution until the last minute—but saw as their responsibility the importance of people standing up and speaking out, and demonstrating their opposition with the only vehicle they have to meaningfully oppose a regime that MUST BE STOPPED. It shows how important it is that people do this and support those who do, and it shows that millions more must do the same.

When even speaking truth to power is criminalized—that is normalizing and facilitating fascism. That is something the University and the City Attorney are GUILTY of.

When the #UCLA5 defendants, including a student and alum, spoke out against Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at UCLA, we were physically removed from our seats and arrested within a minute of speaking. We were targeted by University Administrators who have crafted a protocol that is criminalizing dissent and violating constitutional first amendment rights of people using their voices to expose and protest a regime that is trampling over political and social norms, imposing a fascist America —where the press is "the enemy of the people," political opponents are "locked up" or sent "back to where they came from," where the rights of immigrants to asylum are abrogated as the humanity of LGBTQ people and women is under assault.

Many outrageous things came up through the course of this trial. Police reports recorded evidence of UCPD spying on the Revolution Club. Evidence was suppressed until the end of trial that proved the police brutalized us and lied about it on the stand, which compelled the judge to drop our resisting arrest charges. The jury was not allowed to see this evidence. The judge omitted a part of the law that could allow the jury to acquit us based on an exception for first amendment speech and assembly.

And we learned that our prosecutor held a meeting with UCLA administrators about how to handle free speech on the campuses AFTER we were arrested at the Mnuchin event.

The University is couching an attack on meaningful dissent in the name of free speech, but this is NOT about that. It is about facilitating fascism and collaborating with the very people who are gutting the rule of law and the separation of powers, crushing dissent and opposition, and imposing open dictatorship as they carry out and intensify crimes against humanity.

We must confront the reality that the world as we have known it is being torn asunder. This requires getting out of our comfort zones and not allowing our differences to stand in the way of rising together in an unprecedented, unrelenting mass struggle to confront the danger of a Trump/Pence fascist America.” (RefuseFascism Call to Action)

As this trial is taking place, this regime is refusing to cooperate with the one legal recourse Congress has, throwing this country into a full-fledged constitutional crisis. Trump doubled down on his genocidal, xenophobic rhetoric in Minneapolis. They are not backing down.

This acquittal is a victory. It is important that people on the jury saw the stakes and took the right stand, but this should never have gone to trial in the first place. And it has to be asked WHY UCLA and City Attorney Mike Feuer are going to such great lengths to prosecute people who were calling out and trying to prevent all of this. At a very time that the university should be protecting students, critical thinking, and the right to dissent this prosecution is an outrage and a facilitation of fascism.

This UCLA policy for “events that elicit protest” sets a dangerous precedent that needs to be challenged and overturned. But even more than that people must see that if this is allowed, if people do not stand up to it, and if people do not act themselves, we will again be forced to accept even greater atrocities.

The fact that we are being criminalized for opposing this juggernaut shows you cannot rely on the institutions of this putrid system. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have answers to the horrors their system perpetuates. They are confined to debates about the aesthetics of condemning people to death as the fascist program maintains the initiative. We in the Revolution Club understand it will ultimately take a revolution to bring into being a society that does not stand in the way of people working together to solve these problems. And right now, given that people’s positive aspirations from reform to revolution will be greatly foreclosed by the consolidation of fascism, given that humanity and the planet are at stake, every person of conscience, whether revolutionary or not, must be out in the streets demanding that this regime step down from power.

To the administrators who had people arrested, who testified against us, SHAME! SHAME! SHAME! As Bob Avakian put it, “It used to be a common saying to the person of the right ‘order is more important than justice,’ while for the person of the left it is the opposite. Now the question is put squarely to liberals, and really to everyone. Which, after all, is more important? Order? Even if that is the order of fascism, with everything that means. Or justice? Even if that means stepping outside of our comfort zone and putting ourselves on the line to prevent this fascism from consolidating its rule and fully implementing its program.”

University Administrators have shown themselves to be the most craven supporters of the fascists in power. Assistant Vice Chancellor Mick Deluca upholds MLK in the same breath that he makes sure we are arrested for opposing someone who has defended overt white supremacist statements by Trump—on behalf of Nazis in Charlottesville, rabidly denouncing those who took a knee in the NFL, and attacking Congresswomen with xenophobic, genocidal rhetoric. This virulent white supremacy is NOW IN POWER. They have shown what side they are on. Will the University Community go along as well or condemn this?

People will look back to this case to see the role the universities played in the face of this situation. Are students going to be good little Germans that kept their heads down and followed the rules, who did not speak up or defend their fellow students or will they act to stop this while there is still time?  It's up to US... Join us here in Los Angeles on the October 19th at noon to spell out the message on Santa Monica Beach #TrumpPenceOutNow.  Nationwide protests can be found here.  Let’s project this to the world together, building for every weekend after that to attract more people, staying in the streets until this fascist regime steps down. From Hong Kong to Puerto Rico, people are showing us, it’s not that goddamn complicated.

 

*Tala Deloria is a former student at UCLA and a member of the Get Organized for an Actual Revolution Tour and the Revolution Club, UCLA.  [back]

Activists Who Called Out Mnuchin At UCLA Now Face Months In Jail: Which Side Are You On?, Refusefascism.org, October 3, 2019

Activists Who Confronted Mnuchin During UCLA Protest Now Facing Years in Jail, Julia Conley, Common Dreams, October 1, 2019

´Policías de Los Ángeles mintieron en el juicio contra los #UCLA5 Jorge Luis Macías / Especial para La Opinión | 09 de Octubre 2019

 

 

 


UCLA defendants

Now More Than Ever!

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Excerpt from:

BOB AVAKIAN

BREAKTHROUGHS

The Historic Breakthrough by Marx,
and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism

A Basic Summary

BOB AVAKIAN

BREAKTHROUGHS

The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism

A Basic Summary

Copyright © 2019 by Bob Avakian. All rights reserved.

 

Read complete work here

Download PDF for complete work here

 

The following excerpt from Bob Avakian's work Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism digs into key principles of the new communism in regard to building a movement for revolution. This week we especially want to call attention to the following excerpt:

And then, as an important part of “Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism,” there is the principle of putting the problems of the revolution before the masses, while, at the same time, struggling with them to take up the outlook, methods, principles, and program of this revolution. Why is this important? It’s not because, in accordance with a tailist orientation, you think the masses are going to spontaneously have the answer to these problems. If they did already, then we would have a much easier time, we wouldn’t even need a vanguard, they could just make the revolution. So what is the point here? The point is involving the masses, with leadership and with struggle, in the process of identifying and solving the problems of the revolution, rather than a kind of opportunist approach of trying to hide from the masses the problems of the revolution or, with “political truth,” trying to convince them: “Everything’s really going great; all you need to do is get involved”—in which case they’re likely to say, “Well if everything’s going great, why should I get involved, it requires a lot of struggle and sacrifice—you’re doing great, go ahead, let me know when you’ve got everything lined up and then maybe I’ll get involved.” Correctly understood and applied, it is a very important principle that, in a fundamental and ultimate sense, revolution is made by the masses. That is not, and should not be taken as, a recipe for tailing the masses and their spontaneity. But they are the ones who have to make this revolution and they need to be involved, at every stage, in grappling with and contributing to the process of coming up with the means for struggling through and transforming the contradictions you face, the problems of the revolution, in order to make breakthroughs and advance. This is a very important principle and it’s something which should not be identified with tailing the masses and thinking that, in a reified sense, all wisdom resides in the masses and all you have to do is tell them what a problem is and they’ll immediately come up with the solution. It is a matter of involving them, in increasing numbers, on a scientifically-led basis, in the process of struggling to confront and transform the contradictions that have to be fought through on the road to making the revolution.

. . .

 

The Strategy...For an Actual Revolution

The goal of communism, the necessary process leading to that—revolution and the thorough transformation of society, and ultimately the world as a whole, to achieve the “4 Alls”—and the possibility (not the inevitability but the possibility) of this revolution: all this is established not through some kind of subjective, and utopian, fantasy but on a scientific basis, through analyzing the basic contradictions of the existing system of capitalism-imperialism, viewing this in the context of, and examining its place within, the larger development of human society and the motive forces of such development, and in this way recognizing the basis and the potential forces for making a radical leap beyond this and all previous systems and relations of exploitation and oppression. Here, as indicated in the observation contrasting possibility with inevitability, is a crucial distinction and a profound question of methodology. In the history of the communist movement, from the time of its founding, there has been a tendency to “inevitable-ism”—the mistaken belief that historical development will inevitably lead to the triumph of communism—which has been more or less pronounced, at various times and in various expressions, but which in any of its expressions has run counter to the fundamentally scientific method and approach of communism, from its founding in the work of Marx (and Engels). In this regard, as well as in other key dimensions, the new communism 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.”35 [Boldface in original]

The scientific approach of the new communism emphasizes that the basis for this revolution resides not in the thinking of the masses of people at any given time, but in the defining contradictions of this system that cause continual misery for the masses of humanity while at the same time these contradictions are built into the very structures and dynamics of this system and cannot be resolved or eliminated within its confines.

This finds a concentrated expression in the “5 STOPS”:

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!

You can see how very relevant and immediately urgent are these “5 STOPS” and the contradictions to which they refer.

So what about the question of an actual revolution in a country like the U.S., and how it’s based, once again, in these defining but unresolvable contradictions built into this system and its basic structures, functioning and dynamics?

In “On the Possibility of Revolution” and “HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution36 (another very important document from the Revolutionary Communist Party), not only the need for this revolution but also the strategy for actually building a movement toward and then carrying out the overthrow of this system, when the conditions for that have been brought into being, is spoken to. Here, I am not going to go into this extensively and in depth—I have done that in “Why We Need An Actual Revolution, And How We Can Really Make Revolution,”37 in particular the second part, dealing with the strategy for revolution—which elaborates on what is put forward, in a concentrated way, in “HOW WE CAN WIN”—speaking to what we must do now to hasten while awaiting the emergence of a revolutionary situation and a revolutionary people in the millions, to prepare the ground, prepare the people, and prepare the vanguard for that situation, when it will be possible, and necessary, to fight all-out to win—to overthrow this oppressive system, dismantle its forces of violent suppression and the other institutions of its rule, and establish a radically different economic and political system, aiming for the complete and final abolition of all relations of exploitation and oppression. But I do want to strongly emphasize the importance of actually making real what is presented, in a concentrated way, in “HOW WE CAN WIN,” and elaborated on more fully in “Why We Need An Actual Revolution, And How We Can Really Make Revolution” (and, in this connection, Birds Cannot Give Birth to Crocodiles, But Humanity Can Soar Beyond the Horizon, in particular Part 2, is also very relevant, including the discussion there about ways in which the principles discussed in “On the Possibility of Revolution” may have application more generally in the revolutionary process in different types of countries).

Rather than elaborating extensively on the various aspects of revolutionary strategy that have been developed with the new communism, including significant ways in which this represents a break with what has been the “conventional wisdom” of the communist movement, I want to provide, once again, a basic summary of key aspects of this.

First of all, there is the decisive question of internationalism. Along with referring people to the polemic “Communism or Nationalism?”38 by the Revolutionary Communist Organization, the OCR of Mexico, in Demarcations #4, Winter 2015, and to the discussion of internationalism in THE NEW COMMUNISM, Part II, I want to touch briefly here on the material and the philosophical basis for communist internationalism and the further synthesis of this in the new communism.

The material basis lies in the development of capitalism more fully into an international system of capitalist imperialism and the various features of that, including its investment and exploitation much more fully on an international scale (rather than in the earlier stages of capitalism where production took place mainly in the home country and the search was carried out for markets for those products internationally). The process of production has been much more fully internationalized, increasingly so in the last several decades. This is one overall system with many different component parts and dynamics to each of those component parts within this overall system. The dynamics of this system as a whole on a world level—not solely, but principally and in dialectical relation with the situation within particular parts of the world and particular countries—is the main factor in setting the objective stage for the revolutionary struggle in particular countries. And when, through this dialectical process, the contradictions assume a particularly acute form in particular countries, that can lead to the emergence of a revolutionary situation there. So you have the dynamics within the particular countries but it’s not only, and not even essentially, out of that, that the material conditions emerge which influence the development of the revolutionary struggle and which can ultimately lead to the emergence of a revolutionary situation in those particular countries.

Grasping that also interpenetrates with the philosophical understanding that is necessary for a correct approach to and application of internationalism. As is also discussed in the polemic “Communism or Nationalism?” by the OCR of Mexico, this has to do with the different levels of organization of matter in motion. There are relatively discrete levels in all different kinds of matter (in motion): there are different organs within the human body, and then there’s the human body as a whole, which encompasses all those organs, and there are the dynamics within and between them; there are particular regions within a country, there are particular countries, and then there’s the world as whole. And so on. Each of these different and relatively—I stress relatively—discrete levels of matter in motion have their own dynamics, their own internal contradictions; but, in turn, they are part of a larger system, just as the organs of a body are part of the larger body, and it is that larger body itself and its interaction in turn with the larger environment that ultimately and fundamentally sets the terms for what happens within that body, including within the different organs of the body—although at times what is happening within a particular organ can influence, or even be determining in, what’s happening to the body as a whole, which is obvious if you have a heart attack, for example. So that is the materialism and the dialectics of all this.

And the same applies to the relation between countries and the world and the world system as a whole. There are discrete levels of matter in motion that constitute countries, just as there are discrete levels of matter in motion that constitute different regions within a country. But, in turn, those countries, even with their relative identity and discreteness and the contradictions that are particular within that, exist within a larger dynamic which (as I have pointed out before) is different than something like the relation between the earth and all the galaxies in the universe. In other words, yes, the earth is part of a solar system, which is part of a galaxy, which is part of billions of galaxies, and so on; but that relation doesn’t have the same operative meaning, in terms of social transformation, that the relation between countries and the dynamics of the imperialist system, as a world system, has in this era.

It is the fundamental dynamics of this overall world system which, to cite one profound phenomenon, has been responsible for two world wars. As was pointed out in that OCR polemic, World War 1 wasn’t caused simply, or essentially, by the internal dynamics within each country, which then somehow spilled over into other countries. Obviously, the internal dynamics within different countries played a part in that, but it was the larger world stage and the contradictions on that level that led to that war. And that’s why, for example, in one of his better statements, Stalin said that the reason that they could succeed in the revolution in Russia—or why the conditions were more favorable for revolution there than in some other places—is that the contradictions of the world imperialist system became concentrated and focused within Russia to a large degree at that time. So that’s another example of the correct understanding of the relation between countries and the world situation as a whole.

If you don’t get that relation right, if you reverse that relation—as is done by people who proclaim themselves communists but actually uphold nationalism in the name of communism and become, at best, radical nationalists, which ultimately devolves into bourgeois nationalism—you’re just proceeding on the basis of the internal dynamics of the country and you see that as the most important arena that you’re operating in. And that can become posed against another country with its own internal dynamics. Your internationalism becomes a form of international “intersectionality,” to use the parlance of the times, which can easily be turned into antagonisms between different “sections” that are “intersecting.”

There were tendencies in Mao to proceed “from the nation outward,” even in advocating and practicing internationalism—tendencies to eclectically combine nationalism with internationalism—even as this was definitely secondary to Mao’s fundamentally internationalist orientation. But these secondary tendencies in Mao have been made into a principle by certain “Maoists” (including someone like Ajith) who, in doing so, have effectively replaced internationalism with nationalism.

So it is fundamentally important to grasp the material and the philosophical basis for a correct approach to internationalism: seeing the world arena as fundamentally decisive while correctly grasping and dealing with the moving relations between the contradictions and dynamics within a particular country and other countries—and all that in relation to the capitalist-imperialist system as a world system.

There are definite practical implications to this, as I spoke to in THE NEW COMMUNISM, including that whatever socialist countries exist at any given time have to be approached as, above all—not solely but above all—as base areas to advance the world revolution, or else they’re ultimately going to be pitted against the advance of the communist revolution in the world as a whole; and, in fact, the basis for overthrowing and reversing the revolution in the particular socialist country will be strengthened. This is not a matter of proclaiming a glorious principle—“Internationalism, be above all a base area for the world revolution”—in some sort of abstract or almost religious sense. This involves a great deal of complexity because, more than has been recognized previously in the history of the communist movement, there can be very acute contradictions, which have the potential to be turned into antagonisms, between a socialist country that exists and the revolutionary masses and the revolutionary struggles in other countries. There are many ways in which imperialist and reactionary states and forces in the world will try to impose on the socialist country necessity to adopt policies and actions, in the effort to preserve itself, that are against the fundamental interest of advancing the revolution toward communism on a world scale. And if the revolution does not continue to advance toward communism in an overall sense, it is going to be set back overall, including where socialist countries have been initially brought into being.

So you’re dealing here with very complex, and at times very acute, contradictions. And without the correct approach to grasping the material basis and the philosophical basis for communist internationalism, you don’t even have a chance at approaching correctly, let alone dealing in the real world with, these very profound, and at times very acute, contradictions in a way that actually advances the overall world revolution. Someone once flippantly said, about the loss of socialism in China: “Well, easy come, easy go.” Millions of people suffered and died in order to bring socialism into being in China, and millions of people around the world supported that and to a very large degree, and largely on a legitimate basis, had their hopes riding with socialism in that country. It was a terrible setback when socialism was overturned and capitalism restored there. It is very important to preserve, and in fact to advance, socialism wherever power is wrenched out of the hands of the imperialists. At the same time, however, if the preservation and advance of a socialist state in any particular country is not handled correctly in relation to—and especially if it actually undermines in any essential way—the development of the overall world revolution, then it’s on the road to being reversed as well.

There is the whole question of communism really being communism, and this has been further emphasized with the new communism—communism really being communism and therefore really being internationalist in the way I’ve been speaking to this, as opposed to nationalism in the name of, or eclectically combined with, communism.

Next, I want to touch on the basic approach to building the movement for revolution, which is captured in the formulation “Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism.” Here it is worth noting and touching, even if briefly, on the fact that, while overall leading the newly-born Soviet Union on the road of socialism and contributing in some important ways to the development of the international communist movement, at the same time Stalin actually “reversed” Leninism on a number of important questions. On internationalism, for example—and this was strikingly so during the period immediately leading into and during World War 2, when the interests of the Soviet Union as a state were, on a rather nakedly nationalist basis, put ahead of the overall advance of the world revolution, in what were very acute and intensely contradictory circumstances, just to be clear. Lenin had emphasized that the proletariat in the different countries, in particular imperialist countries, had no “fatherland” to defend (and even though capitalism had not yet developed into capitalist imperialism as it had in Lenin’s time, this basic stand goes back to Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto, where they said the workers of the world have no countries and they called on the workers of the world to unite, which was a very important internationalist stand and declaration to the world). But, under Stalin’s leadership in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and 1940s, when they felt the impending war coming—and then, as a key part of that war, there was a massive attack on the Soviet Union by Germany, which had become Nazi Germany—there was explicitly a revising of the notion that the workers have no country and no basis and no interest in supporting the imperialist “fatherland.” Communists actually said things like, “That was true back when the workers had nothing, but now they have trade unions, seats in parliament, and so on, so now they have a stake in the fatherland.”

This was a rather grotesque reversal of the correct position that had been very strenuously and intensely fought for by Lenin, especially in the context of World War 1, in opposition to so-called “socialists” who were rallying to their various “fatherlands” once World War 1 broke out. So, with the approach of and then during World War 2, with Stalin there was a direct reversal, explicitly and rather crudely, of a basic principle and application of internationalism. They were facing very acute circumstances, but you can’t throw out principle just because there are acute circumstances. This is related in important ways to the statement that everything that is actually true is good for the proletariat.

Lenin put great emphasis in his important work What Is To Be Done? on not tailing the spontaneity of the masses, not worshiping the posterior of the masses, but instead bringing communist consciousness from “outside” their own experiences and daily struggles. Lenin stressed that the working class and the masses of people could not spontaneously develop communist consciousness—that they might gravitate toward it, but there were stronger forces in society pulling them back to (as he put it) a striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie.

But Stalin, as early as the 1920s, reversed some of this, too. I remember way back in the day when someone brought an essay by Stalin into one of our meetings in the Revolutionary Union, even before the Revolutionary Communist Party was formed. This was a time when we were trying to get oriented to go to the working class—to bring revolution to the working class—and somebody brought in this essay where Stalin said, we should go among the workers and be the best fighters for their immediate interests, and then they’ll see that we’re fine fellows and they’ll want to listen to us about our socialist and communist convictions.

This was extremely crude and was definitely a recipe for the economism that Lenin had polemicized against—the whole notion of reducing the struggle for socialism to something that supposedly evolved out of the daily struggles of the workers around their economic conditions—and it conformed more generally to the revisionist orientation that “The movement is everything, the final aim nothing.”

So, there was a reversal of some crucial principles that Lenin had fought for in What Is To Be Done? and other works. An ironic commentary, on how important Lenin’s What Is To Be Done? is, was made by Donald Rumsfeld during the course of the 2003 Iraq war, when he made an analogy, a very perverse analogy—he was talking about the reactionary Islamic fundamentalist forces, and how “we” (the imperialists) should have stomped them out right away, and he made this analogy: Back at the time when Lenin published that little pamphlet What Is To Be Done?, if we had known then what it would lead to, we would have stomped it out right then. So, in a perverse way, that shows you the importance of “this little pamphlet” by Lenin and how serious it was that this was undermined to a significant degree after Lenin’s death, including in things directly done and led by Stalin.

One of the key things in What Is To Be Done? and one of the key things Lenin was fighting for overall—one of the key lines around which he’s attacked repeatedly—is the concept that, rather than just passively reacting to objective conditions, you should be actively “pushing on” them, actively seeking to transform them (“pushing on” is my phrase, not Lenin’s, but it does correspond to what he strongly emphasized). The accusation is made that all kinds of horrors started with Lenin because, instead of just letting the material conditions ripen more or less on their own and allowing the people to spontaneously arrive at what to do about those conditions, Lenin insisted that you need a vanguard to lead the masses, and a vanguard needs to bring communist ideas from “outside” the experience and spontaneous thinking of the masses—that you couldn’t just wait for the masses on their own to come to communist consciousness, with the idea that perhaps socialism could be achieved peacefully because there would eventually be so many people in favor of it that the bourgeoisie would just stand aside on the basis of the popular will. This is an intense attack on Lenin, and in particular Lenin’s What Is To Be Done?, that is made by all kinds of pseudo- and self-proclaimed “socialists,” as well as regular bourgeois forces. But Lenin was absolutely correct: You do need to “push on” objective conditions to move things toward the point where an actual communist revolution, to overthrow the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, becomes possible; you do need the organization of a vanguard force that brings the understanding of the need to do that to the masses of people and struggles with them to take that up.

And, in a real sense, in the new communism “What Is To Be Done-ism” has been “rescued” and “enriched.” Here again is the question, which I referred to earlier, of hastening while awaiting the emergence of a revolutionary situation. In this regard, I want to make reference to the first six paragraphs of Part 2 of Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity,39 where important aspects of hastening while awaiting are discussed, including important discussion about the relation, the dialectical relation, between the objective and subjective factor—the objective factor being whatever the objective conditions are at any given time, including in their changingness, and the subjective factor referring, not to people who are subjective, in the sense of being emotional or half-cocked or something like that, but in the sense of the conscious subjects, the conscious forces, acting on the objective conditions. There, in those first six paragraphs of Part 2 of Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, is important discussion of not only the dialectical relation between objective and subjective factors in a general sense but also, more particularly, the way that they can be transformed into each other.

What does that mean? It means that what’s out there in the world, especially as it’s correctly reflected in the minds of people, can become part of the consciousness of the subjective factor, the conscious forces, who can then act on the basis of that consciousness to advance the revolution. In that sense, the objective becomes transformed into the subjective. And the subjective can be transformed into the objective in the sense that, on the basis of an essentially correct reflection of reality, you can go out to change the objective conditions, and thereby what was subjective (what was part of your consciousness) interacts with and changes the objective conditions, and in that sense becomes part of them. So, rather than, “There are the objective conditions out there and all we can do is passively respond to them,” it is a matter of consciously setting out to continually transform those objective conditions in the direction toward revolution, on the basis of a scientific method and approach.

Another important point to briefly touch on here, in these first six paragraphs of Part 2 of Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, is the fact that the conscious forces—the subjective factor in that sense—doesn’t just react on the objective situation in some abstract and unchanging, and sort of metaphysical, sense. There are objective factors that are constantly changing in the natural world—for example, look at something like Puerto Rico and what happened there with the hurricane and the aftermath of that (there are objective conditions that are constantly changing in that sense)—and then, as is emphasized in these six paragraphs, there is the constant interaction with the objective situation of other social forces, ultimately representing different class interests, all of whom are trying to operate on and transform the objective situation in line with how they perceive the interests that they represent. And there can be “unintended consequences” in what other class forces do that might actually lead things to become more favorable for revolution IF the communist forces correctly respond to that. So, it’s not just a matter of “OK, we have the objective conditions in some static unchanging sense, and we can ignore all the other social forces out there operating on those conditions and how that is influencing things.” The point is made, in opposition to that, that everything that’s going on with all these different forces—not just “the forces of nature” changing the objective situation, which they do in important ways that interact with social forces, but there are also all these different forces in society representing different class interests, ultimately and fundamentally, which are acting on the objective situation—at a certain point, all that can lead to a situation which you might not have been able to anticipate two months, (or perhaps even two weeks) before, which begins to head toward a revolutionary crisis—IF, once again, the revolutionaries, the conscious communist forces, on a constant basis and in a consistently scientific way, have been transforming the objective situation to the maximum degree possible in line with where things need to go to make possible the overthrow of this system.

This is not something aimless, or something in itself and by itself. There is a whole process that needs to go on of continually transforming the objective situation toward the goal of revolution, and accumulating more revolutionary forces at each point in that process, so that you’re hastening while awaiting, which means you’re actually changing the objective conditions. Pivotally within all this, you are changing the way people think, in response to those changes and in an overall sense: you’re struggling with them—not just ones and twos, here or there, but masses of people—to transform their thinking. Here is the importance of the slogan: Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution. In this process, transforming the thinking of the people is pivotal and the key link overall. So, even as you’re uniting with people to fight against the outrages and abuses of this system, where many of the people don’t yet see the need for revolution, you’re struggling to transform their thinking in line with the objective need for revolution. And again, this process is not something aimless (in line with the revisionist notion that “The movement is everything, the final aim nothing”). No, it is a process aiming for, and building toward, something very specific: Revolution. This must be brought forward and popularized at every point in this process.

And then, as an important part of “Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism,” there is the principle of putting the problems of the revolution before the masses, while, at the same time, struggling with them to take up the outlook, methods, principles, and program of this revolution. Why is this important? It’s not because, in accordance with a tailist orientation, you think the masses are going to spontaneously have the answer to these problems. If they did already, then we would have a much easier time, we wouldn’t even need a vanguard, they could just make the revolution. So what is the point here? The point is involving the masses, with leadership and with struggle, in the process of identifying and solving the problems of the revolution, rather than a kind of opportunist approach of trying to hide from the masses the problems of the revolution or, with “political truth,” trying to convince them: “Everything’s really going great; all you need to do is get involved”—in which case they’re likely to say, “Well if everything’s going great, why should I get involved, it requires a lot of struggle and sacrifice—you’re doing great, go ahead, let me know when you’ve got everything lined up and then maybe I’ll get involved.” Correctly understood and applied, it is a very important principle that, in a fundamental and ultimate sense, revolution is made by the masses. That is not, and should not be taken as, a recipe for tailing the masses and their spontaneity. But they are the ones who have to make this revolution and they need to be involved, at every stage, in grappling with and contributing to the process of coming up with the means for struggling through and transforming the contradictions you face, the problems of the revolution, in order to make breakthroughs and advance. This is a very important principle and it’s something which should not be identified with tailing the masses and thinking that, in a reified sense, all wisdom resides in the masses and all you have to do is tell them what a problem is and they’ll immediately come up with the solution. It is a matter of involving them, in increasing numbers, on a scientifically-led basis, in the process of struggling to confront and transform the contradictions that have to be fought through on the road to making the revolution.

In connection with all this, I want to speak briefly to the separation of the communist movement from the labor movement. I referred to Lenin’s struggle with the economists of his time and the emphasis in What Is To Be Done? that socialism would not be brought about as the extension of the economic struggle of the workers, and reducing the struggle for socialism and communism to that would lead to the continuation of the situation in which the masses are chained within the existing system—the understanding, emphasized by Lenin, that the masses of people, proletarians and other oppressed people, will never gain communist consciousness just out of the immediate struggle with their employers and the struggle overall for their immediate needs, as important as those are. And, going back to what I said earlier about the development of capitalism into capitalist imperialism, and the changing of the class configuration in the imperialist countries, Lenin made the important analysis that, with capitalism’s development into capitalist imperialism, there was what he called a split in the working class, between certain sections that were more bourgeoisified—bribed, as he put it, from the spoils of imperialism and colonial depredation in what we now call the Third World—and those he referred to as the lower and deeper sections of the proletariat that remained intensely exploited and were the basis for an actual revolutionary movement. This represented an initial rupture of the communist movement from the labor movement—Lenin’s fight against economism and his recognition of a split in the working class in the imperialist countries.

And then, as the communist struggle shifted increasingly to the Third World for a period of time, particularly after World War 1, Mao developed a model in China of a peasant-based people’s war, which obviously was not based on the labor movement. In the early struggles in China, in the 1920s, they tried to base the communist movement in the labor struggles in the cities—and they were devastated and massacred by the ruling forces and their vicious repression. So, obviously, with this peasant-based people’s war there was a further separation of the communist movement from the labor movement.

To take this further, in terms of how it has been developed with the new communism, I want to repeat a formulation that I used one time to drive home this point about the separation of the communist movement from the labor movement. I said, we’re seeking to make “a proletarian revolution with a proletariat that does not exist!” Now, I was being deliberately provocative to drive home an essential point: Not that, in reality, there is not a proletariat, but this was a provocative way of saying that this movement is not going to be an extension of the labor movement, not going to be done with the economist vision of the working class fighting against its employers as the pivotal means for advancing to socialism, and it was not even going to be done by just going to the lower and deeper sections of the proletariat in a country like the U.S. and trying to overwhelmingly base the revolutionary movement there, although masses of people in that position in society obviously need to be involved in and play an important role in this revolution.

Clearly, there is in reality a proletariat, including in countries like the U.S.—there are masses of bitterly exploited wage-workers, within the U.S. itself and on an even greater scale internationally. But the point, and what I was getting at with this deliberately provocative statement, is this: The proletarian revolution will not, and cannot, come about as an extension of the struggle between wage-workers and their employers; the abolition of the rule of capitalism will not come about through some kind of general strike of labor; nor is it necessary, nor even likely, that the main fighting forces in the battle to overthrow the armed repressive force of the capitalist state (the bourgeois dictatorship) will come mainly from employed wage-workers, and it certainly will not come from among the better-paid and more bourgeoisified strata of the working class.

So, what are the backbone, or potential backbone, forces for revolution, particularly in a country like the U.S.? Well, they are the impoverished and bitterly oppressed and repressed masses who do exist in their tens of millions in this country; and this interpenetrates to a great degree with people among the oppressed nationalities, although it is not limited to that. We do have to recognize, at the same time, that there is a phenomenon among many of these masses of what could be called “deproletarianization”—people who were themselves formerly exploited as wage-workers (or the previous generations of whom were exploited in this way) but who now can’t even find themselves in that position (can’t find a job, to put it simply). This has been accompanied by a lot of what could be called “petit-bourgeoisification,” as well as “lumpen-bourgeoisification,” among sections of the oppressed masses—people who get into small-scale activity, which is essentially petit bourgeois in the sense that it involves small scale ownership and trading, and things like that, and people who are into the life of crime, including those who rise to fairly powerful and wealthy positions within that, even though their situation is often and generally very precarious.

There are these phenomena, and there is the phenomenon that in the realm of culture, for example, a certain, relatively small but influential, section of people has managed to rise from within these masses to basically a bourgeois position. The reason I refer to “lumpen- bourgeoisification” is that this includes people who have not only utilized the realm of culture but also in some cases the realm of crime to wrench out a position in which they become quite wealthy, and then they invest in lines of cosmetics and clothes, and so on—they become real bourgeois, even as many of them are part of an oppressed nation or people. And they have the corresponding outlook to a very significant degree. I won’t even talk right now about Kanye West! But, more generally, there’s the phenomenon where you are witnessing a profound silence on the part of many of these cultural figures and others on some of the burning issues for the masses today. Some may tweet about different things, but they don’t step out and take a strong stand in response—as a phenomenon there are many who do not step out and take a strong stand around glaring acts of oppression and injustice against the masses of people. And that’s because their position has changed. Not only is there a fairly significant “petit-bourgeoisifcation” among oppressed masses but there is also the “lumpen-bourgeoisification” that I referred to—and there is a culture which mirrors the extremely individualistic and acquisitive character of the dominant culture as a whole.

There is the phenomenon of what could be called “Reaganism among the masses of people,” the whole “ethos” that came in with Reagan in the 1980s, this extreme individualism—and not just individualism in the abstract, but one that is posed in terms of antagonism toward everybody else: “You can’t trust anybody else; nobody else cares about you; you gotta get over on other people before they get over on you.” To a significant degree, this has become a model for the masses, even though (once again going back to Marx’s statement in the Grundrisse) in their masses they are totally incapable of following this path, only a few can do that. In fact, there are millions of talented people in sports, in the arts, and so on, but only a tiny number of them can ever rise to a position of wealth and prominence. Nevertheless, this is held up as a model. Not only is this held up as a way out for people, it is more generally upheld as a model for people to follow and a way that people should think and conduct themselves. This does pose a real problem—and, more than that, it is an acute expression of a much larger problem in terms of the prevailing culture that has to be struggled against. People’s thinking in this regard has to be radically transformed.

At the same time, with all this, there is the poverty and immiseration, and the relentless injustice and oppression, to which masses of people are continually subjected and which, to go back once again to Marx in the Grundrisse, they have no way out of other than by overthrowing the system. Even short of revolution, all this to which they are continually subjected causes people to rise up against the system and its outrages, and provides a powerful part of the objective basis for masses, particularly (though not only) those who catch the worst hell under this system, to be won to, and to play a decisive role in, the revolution that is required to meet what are in fact their fundamental needs and interests. But this will require a tremendous amount of ideological struggle, transforming the thinking of masses of people, while uniting with them in fighting the oppressive powers-that-be, winning them to become, not people out for revenge and out for themselves, but emancipators of humanity, and in this way to act as backbone forces for the proletarian-communist revolution.

As I indicated, this is closely intertwined with the fight to abolish the oppression of Black people and other oppressed nationalities within the U.S. and the whole question of the relation between national liberation and proletarian revolution, particularly in a country like the U.S., which is spoken to in THE NEW COMMUNISM and is addressed, concretely and in an overall strategic sense, in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.40

At the same time as there are these basic forces for revolution, suffering in this way, who have to be won to this revolution through a tremendous amount of struggle, in which transforming their thinking is pivotal, there is a need for a broader united front, with the leadership of the proletariat—not in the reified sense of individual proletarians representing the essence of this leadership, but in the sense of what are the fundamental interests of the proletariat as a class and, going back to Marx, the fact that the proletariat can only emancipate itself by emancipating all humanity, by eliminating oppression and exploitation throughout the world with the achievement of communism. Being based on that understanding, and proceeding in that way, is what is meant by the leadership of the proletariat. And what is in the fundamental interests of the proletariat, and required for the revolution to realize those fundamental interests, is bringing into the revolutionary process as many forces as possible from the broader ranks of society, and continually struggling to win people to the revolutionary communist position. It is matter of bringing forward those who catch the worst hell under this system, but also—and fundamentally by bringing them forward—working at the same time to bring forward all different strata of the people, including in particular youth and students, who constitute a crucial force that has an important role in this revolutionary process.

This requires a scientific, dialectical materialist approach to the situation and spontaneous sentiments and inclinations not only of the basic masses who can and must be brought forward as the backbone and driving force of this revolutionary process, but also of the middle class in this country, and the different strata within this middle class, whose situation is significantly different than it was 50, or even 20, years ago. It requires a living and constantly deepening understanding of the material position and outlook—the conditions of life and spontaneous thinking—of these different sections of the people and how to carry out the necessary struggle to bring about a profound change in the outlook and values of large and growing numbers of them, winning them to active and increasingly conscious involvement in the revolutionary process whose final aim is the abolition of all relations of exploitation and oppression, all antagonistic relations among human beings everywhere, and all the agony and anguish that is bound up with those relations.

All this—the whole ensemble of “Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism”—involves a fundamental rupture with economism in all the different dimensions in which I’ve spoken to this. And one of the ways in which this gets crucially expressed is in regard to the oppression of women and the struggle for the emancipation of women. There has been a strain in the communist movement to reduce this, once again, to merely an economic question—to where the struggle against the oppression of women is reduced to just changing the economic system. And there has also been a way in which this has been posed in antagonistic relation to the struggle against national oppression. For example, in the 1960s there was a very influential line, in a negative sense, that insisted that, with regard to Black people, you couldn’t bring up the oppression of women, because Black men have been so viciously oppressed, which of course is true. But, first of all, what about Black women and all the horrendous ways in which they’ve been oppressed throughout the history of this country and down to the present? And even more fundamentally, what about the emancipation of humanity as a whole? What about transforming all of those “4 Alls,” including that profound social relation which has been woven into class society, has been interconnected with class oppression from the very beginning of the division of society into oppressors and oppressed, namely the oppressed status of women?

There have been economist and nationalist tendencies, even in the name of communism at times, which have downgraded the importance of the struggle for the emancipation of women. And with the new communism, one of its key pillars is recognizing the pivotal and essential role of the struggle to emancipate women and its interconnection with and its decisive role in the overall process of abolishing all oppression and exploitation. Closely interconnected with this is the radical break that the new communism has made with the previous history of the communist movement in regard to sexual orientation and traditional gender relations. While, on the one hand, and principally, the communist movement historically made crucial breakthroughs in scientifically analyzing the origins of the oppression of women, the basis for its final abolition, and the relation of this to the overall development of human society and the struggle to abolish all relations of exploitation and oppression—notably in the seminal work by Engels The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State—at the same time there has been a secondary, but significant, influence within communism of patriarchy which, among other things, has been manifested in a negative orientation toward sexual orientation and gender relations which are in conflict with traditional gender relations—something which those of us who became revolutionary communists out of the upsurge of the 1960s “inherited” from the existing communist movement and traditions and carried forward for a time—too long a time—and which was finally broken with as one important dimension of the development of the new communism. In breaking with this, the approach of the new communism has not been to tail identity politics and attendant relativist and other unscientific methods and approaches, including populist epistemology, but to apply a scientific method and approach to the study of human sexuality and gender relations, throughout history as well as in contemporary society, including by learning from and drawing from the work of others whose outlook and approach are not communist but who have nevertheless done important work in regard to these crucial questions and whose position on this has been more in line with reality than what has been the traditional position of the communist movement. The result of all this is a scientific synthesis which is presented in a concentrated way in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which emphasizes that the goal is not just equality between men and women, but:

to overcome all “tradition’s chains” embodied in traditional gender roles and divisions, and all the oppressive relations bound up with this, in every sphere of society, and to enable women, as fully as men, to take part in and contribute to every aspect of the struggle to transform society, and the world, in order to uproot and abolish all relations of oppression and exploitation and emancipate humanity as a whole.41

It needs to be understood in relation to the emancipation of women and overcoming all oppression bound up with traditional gender relations, as well as in an overall sense, that only if you’re proceeding from the communist viewpoint, with the scientifically-established recognition of the need to achieve the “4 Alls”—only then are you going to be able to overcome the divisions and potential antagonisms among and between different sections of the people, and only then are you going to be able to bring to the fore all the various elements of the necessary struggle for revolution, as represented to a significant degree in those “5 STOPS.” Nothing less than that will make it possible to fully overcome the divisions that exist spontaneously and are constantly fostered by the workings of the system objectively and by the conscious actions of its representatives of various kinds. The ruling class repeatedly seeks to pit different sections of the people against each other and, contrary to the illusions of “intersectionality,” the ruling class has many powerful ways to do that if you’re not proceeding from the point of view of the emancipation of humanity as a whole.

There is a whole history of different sections of the people being pitted against each other. You have the egregious example of the Buffalo Soldiers after the Civil War—Black soldiers who fought to put down and kill off the Native Americans and steal their land—while in the Civil War, among the different Native American peoples, there were some who sided with the northern Union while others sided with the southern Confederacy, based on their narrow perception of their immediate interests. Only coming from the point of view of communism can you unify the masses of people to overcome every manifestation of oppression and achieve the “4 Alls.” This is crucial in an overall sense and it becomes particularly acute around the woman question, because there is a continual tendency, including in the communist movement, to subordinate this, or not to fully give expression to it, in the perceived interests of the moment, and with the narrow, economist outlook regarding what should constitute the working class movement or the communist movement. So, a very important component of the new communism is the recognition of the need to give the fullest expression to the struggle for the emancipation of women and its critical and pivotal role in relation to the overall struggle for the “4 Alls.”

Building on what was discussed earlier in regard to democracy, and its character and role under different systems and with the dictatorship of different classes, there is (as I have put it in the title of a book) the need to “do better” than democracy. This is one of the key elements and also one of the most controversial and often attacked elements of the new communism, for reasons one can well imagine. Once again, there is Mao’s important emphasis on the fact that democracy is part of the superstructure. With the new communism this has been further developed to systematize the understanding that going beyond class divisions and class rule (class dictatorship) also involves going beyond “democracy.” (I will speak to this further shortly, particularly in the context of discussing the question of leadership, and the development of the communist understanding of the character and role of the vanguard party, both before and after the seizure of power and the establishment of the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.)


Notes

35. Revolutionary Communist Party, “Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA–January 1, 2016.” Available at revcom.us. [back]

36. Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, “HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution,” Revolution #457, September 19, 2016. Available at revcom.us. [back]

37. Bob Avakian, “Why We Need An Actual Revolution, And How We Can Really Make Revolution.” Film of a speech given in 2018. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

38. Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico (OCR), “Communism or Nationalism?,” Demarcations: A Journal of Communist Theory and Polemic, Issue Number 4, Winter 2015. Available at demarcations-journal.org and revcom.us. [back]

39. Avakian, Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity, Part 2: “Everything We’re Doing Is About Revolution” begins with the following six paragraphs:

“Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism”

Hastening while awaiting—not bowing down to necessity

Next I want to talk about “Enriched What Is To Be Done-ism” and its role in building a revolutionary and communist movement. I want to begin by reviewing some important points relating to the whole orientation and strategic approach of “hastening while awaiting” the development of a revolutionary situation in a country like the U.S.

I spoke earlier about the outlook and approach of revisionist “determinist realism”*** which, among other things, involves a passive approach to objective reality (or necessity), which sees the objective factor as purely objective—and purely “external,” if you will—and doesn’t grasp the living dialectical relation between the objective and subjective factors and the ability of the latter (the subjective factor—the conscious actions of people) to react back on and to transform the former (the objective factor—the objective conditions). In other words, this “determinist realism” doesn’t grasp the essential orientation, and possibility, of transforming necessity into freedom. It doesn’t really, or fully, grasp the contradictoriness of all of reality, including the necessity that one is confronted with at any given time. So, one of the essential features of “determinist realism” is that it dismisses as “voluntarism” any dialectical grasp of the relation between the subjective and objective factors, and sees things in very linear, undifferentiated ways, as essentially uniform and without contradiction, rather than in a living and dynamic and moving and changing way.

Of course, it is necessary not to fall into voluntarism. There are many different ways in which such voluntarism can be expressed, leading to various kinds of (usually “ultra-left”) errors and deviations, if you will—including in the form of giving in to infantilist or adventurist impulses—all of which is also extremely harmful. But—particularly in a protracted or prolonged situation in which the objective conditions for revolution (that is, for the all-out struggle to seize power) have not yet emerged—by far the much greater danger, and one that is reinforced by this objective situation, is this kind of determinist realism which doesn’t grasp correctly the dialectical relation between the objective and subjective factors, and sees them in static, undialectical, and unchanging terms.

It is true that we cannot, by our mere will, or even merely by our actions themselves, transform the objective conditions in a qualitative sense—into a revolutionary situation. This cannot be done merely by our operating on, or reacting back on, the objective conditions through our conscious initiative. On the other hand, once again a phrase from Lenin has important application here. With regard to the labor aristocracy—the sections of the working class in imperialist countries which are, to no small extent, bribed from the spoils of imperialist exploitation and plunder throughout the world, and particularly in the colonies—Lenin made the point that nobody can say with certainty where these more “bourgeoisified” sections of the working class are going to line up in the event of the revolution—which parts of them are going to be with the revolution when the ultimate showdown comes, and which are going to go with the counter-revolution—nobody can say exactly how that is going to fall out, Lenin insisted. And applying this same principle, we can say that nobody can say exactly what the conscious initiative of the revolutionaries might be capable of producing, in reacting upon the objective situation at any given time—in part because nobody can predict all the other things that all the different forces in the world will be doing. Nobody’s understanding can encompass all that at a given time. We can identify trends and patterns, but there is the role of accident as well as the role of causality. And there is the fact that, although changes in what’s objective for us won’t come entirely, or perhaps not even mainly, through our “working on” the objective conditions (in some direct, one-to-one sense), nevertheless our “working on” them can bring about certain changes within a given framework of objective conditions and—in conjunction with and as part of a “mix,” together with many other elements, including other forces acting on the objective situation from their own viewpoints—this can, under certain circumstances, be part of the coming together of factors which does result in a qualitative change. And, again, it is important to emphasize that nobody can know exactly how all that will work out.

Revolution is not made by “formulas,” or by acting in accordance with stereotypical notions and preconceptions—it is a much more living, rich, and complex process than that. But it is an essential characteristic of revisionism (phony communism which has replaced a revolutionary orientation with a gradualist, and ultimately reformist one) to decide and declare that until some deus ex machina—some god-like EXTERNAL FACTOR—intervenes, there can be no essential change in the objective conditions and the most we can do, at any point, is to accept the given framework and work within it, rather than (as we have very correctly formulated it) constantly straining against the limits of the objective framework and seeking to transform the objective conditions to the maximum degree possible at any given time, always being tense to the possibility of different things coming together which bring about (or make possible the bringing about of) an actual qualitative rupture and leap in the objective situation.

So that is a point of basic orientation in terms of applying materialism, and dialectics, in hastening while awaiting the emergence of a revolutionary situation. It’s not just that, in some abstract moral sense, it’s better to hasten than just await—though, of course, it is—but this has to do with a dynamic understanding of the motion and development of material reality and the interpenetration of different contradictions, and the truth that, as Lenin emphasized, all boundaries in nature and society, while real, are conditional and relative, not absolute. (Mao also emphasized this same basic principle in pointing out that, since the range of things is vast and things are interconnected, what’s universal in one context is particular in another.) The application of this principle to what is being discussed here underlines that it is only relatively, and not absolutely, that the objective conditions are “objective” for us—they are, but not in absolute terms. And, along with this, what is external to a given situation can become internal, as a result of the motion—and changes that are brought about through the motion—of contradictions. So, if you are looking at things only in a linear way, then you only see the possibilities that are straight ahead—you have a kind of blinders on. On the other hand, if you have a correct, dialectical materialist approach, you recognize that many things can happen that are unanticipated, and you have to be constantly tense to that possibility while consistently working to transform necessity into freedom. So, again, that is a basic point of orientation.

***The subject of “determinist realism” is spoken to in Part 1: “Beyond the Narrow Horizon of Bourgeois Right”—available at revcom.us and the bobavakianinstitute.org—and, in the serialization of Part 1, is found in “Marxism as a Science—In Opposition to Mechanical Materialism, Idealism and Religiosity,” in Revolution #109, Nov. 18, 2007. [back]

40. Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal). Authored by Bob Avakian, and adopted by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, 2010 (RCP Publications, 2010). Also available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

41. Ibid., p. 6. [back]

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/007/avakian-dynamics-within-ruling-class.htm

There Is No "They"—But There is a Definite Direction to Things:

THE DYNAMICS WITHIN THE RULING CLASS, AND THE CHALLENGES FOR REVOLUTIONARIES

by Bob Avakian

Originally posted June 26, 2005 | | revcom.us

 

EDITORS' NOTE: This article by Bob Avakian (BA) was first published in 2005, during the regime of George W. Bush, whose regime took the U.S., and the Republican Party, a great deal further down the road to fascism. While this has now taken a further leap under Trump and Pence and some particulars have changed, the important thing here is the method BA applies to analyze reality, and how to transform it.

The article was part of a series of excerpts on various subjects—drawn from conversations and discussions, as well as more formal talks, by Bob Avakian. This has been edited for publication.

One thing we should understand: There is no "THEY"—no one single, undivided, "monolithic" group that rules society. That's one thing we really have to understand. There are different "They's" striving and struggling to be THEY—to be the dominant and determining force within the ruling class, and therefore within society. But there is no one "THEY."

This is not Moon Over Parador—and even there the Dreyfuss character got out of hand. Remember the Richard Dreyfuss movie, Moon Over Parador, where his character was an actor doing a movie in a (fictional) Latin American country, and then he was brought in to imitate the dictator after the dictator had actually died. There were a tiny number of aristocratic families, of the Latin American oligarchy model, and they were running him— directing and controlling him in this role as dictator—and then he got off the leash at a certain point. That, of course, is an unrealistic scenario. After all, it's a movie, it's not real life—and in the real world there is not a single "THEY" sitting there deciding everything. Sometimes, some people, among those who recognize that there are financial interests that exercise a powerful role in society, can be very narrow and economist in their analysis (making a connection, too directly and mechanically, between powerful financial and economic interests, on the one hand, and political decision-making on the other hand). And we have fallen into errors like that at times ourselves. Sometimes it happens that things that are not most beneficial, economically, for the most powerful business interests get done by the government anyway—because, in the judgment of those who are making political decisions, those things are in the best interests of the system they serve (however they conceive of that system and those interests). There is a system that is operating—a system whose fundamental, underlying dynamics set the ultimate framework and terms for political decision-making—but it is not a "one-to-one" thing between business and financial interests, on the one hand, and political decision-making, on the other hand. There is not a single, uniform "business class" deciding all this on the basis of its uniform business interests—there is not a THEY—there are political operatives who operate with relative autonomy. George Soros (whose assets are in the billions) is as big as "They" get, but there are a lot of different "THEYs." Soros put a lot of money into the election—backing Kerry, trying to deny Bush a "mandate" with a second term—yet Soros couldn't prevail.

You have to think in dynamic terms, even with regard to what goes on in the ruling structures and ruling circles. Yes, there is a ruling class. A ruling class is like a solid core—it has a lot of dynamism within it. It's not a monolith, and that's especially true these days. We have to really, in our conception, not fall into thinking in crude terms of some kind of "THEY." Sometimes descriptions like that have a certain usefulness, as a kind of shorthand, but this is like a lot of "shorthands" in science and other things—it can also lead you into the wrong kind of thinking. There's not one "THEY" sitting there doling out power to various people. Yes, I have made the analogy that when you run for office it's like auditioning—auditioning for the ruling class, which holds the ultimate decision-making power—but that is a dynamic thing. It's not literally that you have something like the Fox American Idol panel that sits there, going "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" for the different candidates. It's much more dynamic than that. We can describe things metaphorically to help people understand important aspects of reality, but we shouldn't vulgarize it to them—and we shouldn't vulgarize it to ourselves. We should enable people to understand—and we ourselves must understand—the complexity of this.

There is right now a certain dynamic in terms of the politics and the contradictions within the ruling class, and how that relates to the direction of society (and, to a very significant degree, the world) as a whole. This can be changed by what happens internationally—it could be changed by things that aren't under the control of the imperialists. The author (a long-time CIA operative) who wrote the book Imperial Hubris, he argues that it's inevitable that there will be another attack like September 11—and quite possibly an attack with weapons of mass destruction. What do you think that would do to the dynamics inside the U.S?

*****

That brings me to a key point in relation to all this: We are not, we must not be, passive in the face of this whole situation. We must work to bring about a radical change in the political terrain. This current dynamic is not good for us, not good for the revolutionary proletariat, not good for the oppressed people, not good for the masses of people, within the U.S. and throughout the world. And, if it continues on the trajectory it is on, it will get worse—and then, if the same kind of reactionary religious forces who were involved in the September 11 attacks launch another attack on the U.S., and especially if that attack is even more devastating, things will go to a whole other level, will be in a whole different ballpark. And, yes, things like this could lead to a situation where the imperialist rulers of the U.S. suffer a very serious setback as a result of being overextended internationally—but, if that occurs in a situation where the current dynamic has gone ahead on the trajectory it is now on, all this will most likely lead to a far worse situation than exists now. So, again, this emphasizes the great importance of working urgently to mobilize masses of people in political struggle to make leaps in radically transforming the political situation, the political terrain and the political terms, in a more positive direction.

Once Hitler consolidated power, it took a whole world war to bring him down, and then he was not brought down by any internal dynamics and struggle from within German society itself (even though there were assassination attempts against him by people in the German ruling class, after a certain point in World War 2, when things started going badly for Germany). Well, we don't want to be determinist and sit around and wait for something like that—you know what the next world war is going to be like if it comes. Who knows who is going to survive, if anybody does. There is still that question. There is not the Soviet Union anymore, but you can have weapons of mass destruction flying around without the Soviet Union, I'm sorry to say. I'm pointing to something that I think is a real, and very dangerous, dynamic here. But it can change—and, we must recognize, it can change to be even worse than it is now. Left to itself, it almost certainly will change in that way, in one form or another.

And so, we have to get in there and change this. There is a dynamic at play which holds not only very negative and extremely dangerous possibilities but also potentially positive and favorable elements, and we have to seize on this and work on this to transform it into something entirely different. Right now, the positive side—that is, the opposition of various kinds to what is represented by the whole Bush agenda, for short—is just about entirely in the framework of bourgeois democracy. And the interests of the masses of people, in the U.S. and throughout the world, are not going to prevail if things stay in that framework, if the positive side of the polarization is largely left at that and defined by that. There will be many elements of that kind of opposition—resistance that has not yet broken out of the framework of bourgeois democracy, fundamentally—if things are repolarized to a more favorable configuration. And this will be true, in a certain sense, even if things are repolarized all the way to a revolutionary situation. But if things are left as they are now, politically, with the polarization essentially being what is represented by Bush, on one side, and simply bourgeois-democratic opposition (of various kinds) on the other side, good things are not going to result, and the real interests of the masses of people are not going to win out.

There are many people who are being forced to confront the world they're being dragged into as a result of the current dynamic—they're staring it in the face now. And what the dominant core of the ruling class (grouped around Bush, in basic terms) is aiming for is a reforging of a consensus that is definitely different than what Clinton was aiming to do. In the aftermath of the Cold War, with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its empire, Clinton was aiming to recast things in the U.S. within an essentially secular bourgeois-democratic framework. Even though he was making more concessions to religion, even to religious fundamentalism, he was still operating within a secular bourgeois-democratic framework, a "post-Enlightenment" secular bourgeois-democratic framework. And that is being opposed by a whole other framework, which is not yet completely dominant and consolidated as the ruling class framework—as the form in which things are being run, to put it simply. But it has got a lot of initiative, and it is a monster that can never be fully fed—and is not going to stay on its leash if it's not fed. So there you go. That doesn't mean this fascist, and in particular Christian Fascist, framework, and the forces determined to impose that framework, are bound to win out, even if we do nothing. But there is a definite dynamic at play which is very heavy.

*****

We really have to recognize that there is a kind of a conjuncture here—a coming together and heightening of major contradictions—but at the same time this is not static and frozen and divorced from larger forces in the world. It is not bound to remain as it is, it almost certainly won't remain exactly as it is now—in fact, we can say with a great deal of certainty that it won't remain exactly as it is now. But things are posing themselves a certain way—there is a definite dynamic at play—and this is not a matter of that famous (or infamous) notion of the "political pendulum" that will somehow "swing back the other way." Things are being taken to extremes, and right now this is in an overwhelmingly negative way. At the same time, once again, there are favorable factors within this. We have to urgently work on those potentially positive elements within this situation and this dynamic—and we have to work on the negative factors, too, and transform them and repolarize things. And then if, or when, there are major turning points in the world, because of what other forces do and how the ruling class of the U.S. responds, the result of all that can be very different than the definitely negative outcome that would occur if this current dynamic is not radically transformed.

We have a tremendous amount of responsibility, politically and ideologically, in this regard. We have to unite and struggle with—and we must not tail—the many progressive people and forces who find themselves still desperately trying to find a solution to all this within the framework of the capitalist system and bourgeois democracy. We have to unite with their sentiments of hatred for what is represented by the current regime in the U.S. and the direction in which it is taking U.S. society, and the world; but we also have to struggle with them and transform the current opposition and resistance into something else, something radically different. And we have to bring forward a powerful, revolutionary movement among the basic masses. That is a decisive element within all this.

We cannot sit around and let this "faith-based" stuff, and all this religious shit that's leading people to act against their own fundamental interests, have free rein. I will have more—a lot more—to say about that, but here my main point is that the polarization that is shaping up now is, in its main aspect, very negative, but it is not all one- sided and static: there are definitely positive, and potentially very positive, elements and factors within all this. This current polarization is part of a very dynamic and volatile mix, and it can change radically, in one direction or another. But, even if this Christian Fascist element ceases to be, at a given time or for a certain period, the major feature within all this, it will never completely disappear, or never cease to be a major feature of the terrain and of the "configuration" within ruling class politics—until there is a revolutionary transformation of society as a whole.

The fundamental question is this: What are going to be the dynamics of all this, and where will they lead? To horrible consequences and more and more negative polarization— or to a situation where the masses of people are wrenching a different repolarization out of all this, and bringing into being a different dynamic, leading toward a radically different resolution of all this?

That is where we come in—that is the challenge, and the responsibility, we must take up.

Read more about Bob Avakian here.

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/550/skybreak-need-for-a-big-societal-debate-reform-or-revolution-en.html

Excerpt from SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak

A Need for a Big Societal Debate: Reform, or Revolution?

July 2, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

In the early part of 2015, over a number of days, Revolution conducted a wide-ranging interview with Ardea Skybreak. A scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, Skybreak is the author of, among other works, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters, and Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps: An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women's Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation. This interview was first published online at www.revcom.us.

Ardea Skybreak Science and Revolution excerpts A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What Is New in the New Synthesis? The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic--A Visionary and Concrete Application of the New Synthesis Serious Engagement with the New Synthesis--The Difference It Could Make An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

AS continues: There’s a big mass societal debate that needs to go on among all strata on the question of reform or revolution: Which is the way forward? Reform means you tinker with the system, you try to fix it here or there. An example of reform, for instance, is that you would try to deal with police brutality and murder by things like having civilian review boards, and putting body cameras on policemen, and in other ways trying to fix things within the existing relations in society, within the existing system. And people do try these things. Civilian review boards have been around since at least the 1960s, you know. People keep falling into these traps of these reformist notions that, somehow, if you could just fix and tweak this a little bit here and there, you could get rid of these outrages and abuses. And what that comes from is a lack of profound scientific understanding of why these kinds of outrages are not just accidental or occasional, and why they’re deeply rooted in the fabric of this system, in its very foundation, which has everything to do with the white supremacist origins of this particular society in the United States, how this country was founded on slavery, and everything that came from there that’s never been surpassed. It’s not just a question of backward racist ideas on the part of some white people. That is in the mix. But much more deeply, there is an institutional fabric in how this capitalist-imperialist system is structured and how it works, in such a way that it cannot resolve these deep, deep divisions and problems, that requires that certain sections of society be kept down and oppressed, in particular, Black people in this country, and other people of color as well.

That’s a whole bigger discussion, there’s a whole deep analysis of why that’s true. This has been deeply gotten into by Bob Avakian and the RCP, and people should check that out. I’m not going to try to get into it more here. But in the context of what we’re talking about right now, I’m saying that, if people are just looking for some ways of making a few token reforms, a few “tweaks” to the system, or looking for ways to maybe improve a few things in just one neighborhood or local area...it’s not that all those kinds of projects and plans are really bad in themselves, but it’s that they won’t lead to the fundamental change that’s needed. For instance, look at the environmental movement. What is happening with the environment is a global emergency that requires big-scale measures of restructuring the way the economy, and society overall, operates, to prevent the constant exploitation and degradation of the environments of the planet that’s going to end up leading people to extinction, you know. I firmly believe that humanity is either going to find the ways to transform its forms of social organization in the direction of viable socialism and eventually moving towards planet-wide communism, or humanity’s going to go extinct because of what it’s doing to this planet. I can make scientific arguments about why I think that’s really true. And time is getting short. So that’s just one example: Why the environmental problem has to be tackled on a really big scale, by making really fundamental, radical change in the whole way society is organized, structured and run. Just a little more enlightenment and just a few tweaks and minor reforms of the existing system are simply not going to cut it.

But a lot of progressive-minded middle strata people...often they’ll get into things like, “it might be better not to use plastic bags at the grocery stores,” or “let’s have green light bulbs,” “let’s recycle more,” or “let’s see if we can work on hybrid and electric cars to reduce pollution, and let’s have more solar panels, for clean energy.” There’s actually a lot that can be learned from a lot of these initiatives, and many of those kinds of changes are things that you would actually want to implement in a new society. And I’m not saying that it’s bad to be encouraging some of those small steps even today. But what I would like people to recognize more honestly is how puny, limited and tokenistic these changes are, especially relative to the actual scope and scale of the environmental crisis. It’s not even scratching the surface of the problem. What is needed is much more profound, radical change. And I think a lot of the middle strata people are always looking for these “little ways of tinkering,” trying to reform just a few things, in a way that seems more comfortable and manageable, rather than confronting the need for a total dismantling of the system and institutions that are necessarily driven, by their own underlying laws of functioning, to despoil and degrade the environment. The system of capitalism-imperialism cannot stop doing this, it is structurally unable to stop doing this–that’s what you have to confront. People sincerely concerned about the global environment really should seriously study Bob Avakian’s analyses, which make the case, and provide evidence, for why problems such as these are so deeply rooted in the very functional core of this capitalist system that they can’t be dealt with just through a series of minor adjustments. What is required is a profound and radical overhaul of the whole way society is set up at its foundations, of the whole way it functions in a comprehensive sense. But to effect this radical restructuring it is necessary to have an actual revolution– so that, more than anything else, is what people genuinely concerned about the global environmental emergency should be working towards.

These arguments are backed up by a lot of sound and concrete scientific evidence. Nevertheless, a lot of these middle strata people are uncomfortable with the prospect of such radical change. In some cases, it’s more that they just haven’t yet encountered these analyses, they’re unfamiliar with them, nobody’s ever talked to them about this, they haven’t yet explored the revcom.us website and Revolution newspaper or the works of Bob Avakian. But I’m sure many of them–especially among the younger people who are not so invested in reformist methods and approaches–will find their way to these resources, and will start seriously digging into all this themselves, and I think many will end up being willing to confront “the logic of the logic.” In other words, when they seriously dig into the analyses, they will increasingly recognize that, “Yes, this does makes sense, this is what the evidence points to.” And even though revolution is not an easy road, and there will necessarily be sacrifices, it would all be worth it to have a genuine possibility of making a much better world, of constructing much better societies, on a new basis and foundation that could very quickly address the major problems of capitalist society, and which would greatly benefit the vast majority of people. The irony is that all those middle class people who constantly complain about the way things are today but who shy away from radical change and revolution...many of them, most of them in fact, would, I am quite sure, end up very much benefitting from, and appreciating, life in a new socialist society, especially a socialist society of the type envisioned by Bob Avakian’s new synthesis. Once again, on the foundation of that solid core, but with lots of elasticity based on the solid core, there would be air to breathe for these people in such a society. They would not be pushed to the side or crushed or stifled, as long as they were not trying to actually destroy the new society, and they would find that they could themselves help institute a lot of the progressive social changes that they get so frustrated at not being able to implement under conditions of the current system. So they should look forward to it, and help work towards it.

But again, right now, especially among the middle class, a lot of these people are more inclined to stick with what they’re more familiar with–the known rather than the unknown. They haven’t dug into any of this, really. They haven’t checked it out. They haven’t discussed and debated it. Many seem more content with puttering around with little reformist schemes, making little minor criticisms, and just basically complaining about the way things are, but without really doing anything that’s substantial to get beyond this. And the crime is that, meanwhile, while they do that, while they cultivate and promote their illusions, and when they try to tear down a revolutionary leader like Bob Avakian and try to prevent him from getting his message out broadly to the people–while they’re doing all that, the world continues as it is, with the unrelenting grinding down of the masses of people here and around the world. The blood and the bones–this is real, it is ongoing, and it will continue to go on, on a daily basis, as long as this system is allowed to persist.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/611/special-resource-page-on-the-environmental-emergency-en.html

Capitalism-Imperialism Is Destroying the Planet...
Only Revolution Gives Humanity a Real Chance to Save It

"...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!"

—Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 


  • Hurricane Dorian struck the Caribbean nation of the Bahamas with unprecedented force. A week later, thousands were still missing, with the number of dead rising, countless homes destroyed, whole towns and communities wiped out, and tens of thousands needing clean water, food, housing and medical aid. Global warming is increasing the power and intensity of hurricanes, especially affecting island nations and coastal areas around the world. Above: Great Abaco, Bahamas, September 5, 2019 (Photo: AP)

  • Two signs in the Arctic of how quickly and catastrophically climate change is affecting the world: 1) August 1, the layer of ice covering Greenland melted more in a single day than has ever been recorded. 2) For the past two months, unprecedented wildfires have been burning from Alaska to Siberia, including north of the Arctic Circle, destroying wild forests and sending more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Above: Rapid melting in the Barnes Ice Cap in the Canadian Arctic. (Photo via University of Colorado, 2017)

  • The Amazon rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world, is burning—causing deadly harm to what is known as the "lungs of the planet." The fires are set deliberately by farmers and agribusiness companies with the backing of the Brazilian government. If this continues, the results would be horrific: extinction of tens of thousands of species and further acceleration of global climate change. Above: Jacundá National Forest, near the city of Porto Velho, August 25, 2019 (Photo: AP)

  •     Watch this film

Yes, “the house is on fire,” as climate activists declare. We are facing a crisis of unprecedented and existential dimensions—threatening the ecosystems of the planet and life itself. Yet three years on since the adoption of the Paris UN climate accords in 2016, not one major capitalist industrial power is on track to meeting its (obscenely inadequate) goals, and the U.S. has withdrawn. As the planet heats up!

The Destruction of the Planet by Capitalism-Imperialism,
by Bob Avakian, an excerpt

This system and those who rule over it are not capable of carrying out economic development to meet the needs of the people now, while balancing that with the needs of future generations and requirements of safeguarding the environment. They care nothing for the rich diversity of the earth and its species, for the treasures this contains, except when and where they can turn this into profit for themselves.... These people are not fit to be the caretakers of the earth.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:29

The question is... what underlies this crisis and what must be done? The stakes could not be higher. We invite you to dig into the materials on this page and to confront these questions:

  • Why does capitalism plunder the planet? And can this system of capitalism-imperialism, driven by the competitive pursuit of profit and more profit, and by the rivalry between great powers for global control and dominance—somehow act, or be pressured to act, to put the interests of humanity and the planet first? The resources on this page, including articles, major works, and videos from talks by Bob Avakian, demonstrate how that is impossible.
  • Can a “Green New Deal” that operates within the framework of this system, and that takes the U.S. standard of living and the U.S. empire and military as a given, provide a workable solution? The polemic against the Green New Deal shows that this is a toxic illusion.
  • And what about the fate of the great mass of humanity in the Third World who are suffering the greatest consequences, and will face even more horrific consequences, of global warming? Their lives and futures count for nothing in the calculus of the ruling classes of the rich capitalist countries.

There are in fact only two choices: Let the planet hurtle uncontrollably toward environmental disaster, and let other horrors continue and intensify—such as wars of aggression and the oppression of Black and Brown people, of women, and of immigrants—OR we make a revolution, an actual revolution to overthrow this system of capitalism-imperialism.

How would a revolutionary socialist society address the environmental emergency? To the many, many people who DO feel the depth and urgency of the situation, we invite and challenge you to grapple with the only framework through which humanity can forge a viable answer to this environmental emergency, and on a truly emancipatory basis. We need a whole other way... and there are a Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America authored by Bob Avakian and “Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development” that show the way.

Watch for continuing analysis, polemic, and late-breaking commentary.

Why does capitalism plunder the planet?

The Destruction of the Planet by Capitalism-Imperialism, by Bob Avakian, an excerpt

Bob Avakian, "Not fit caretakers of the earth"

How would a revolutionary socialist society address the environmental emergency?

How Would a Revolutionary Socialist Society Address the Environmental Emergency?

Excerpts from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

  • A. The Economy.
  • B. The Environment.
  • Article IV. The Economy and Economic Development in the New Socialist Republic in North America.
  • Section 5. The System of Public-State Ownership is the Foundation of the New Socialist Economy.

 

How Would the Revolution Deal With the Climate Crisis?
A Q&A with Raymond Lotta

Plundering and Destroying the Planet

Dead-End Paths and Mental Shackles

Further Reading...

This resources page is in formation. Visit frequently for updates.

 

 

Funds urgently needed each month to maintain, upgrade, and expand revcom.us.
Sustain or donate generously NOW!

You’ve read this article, now think about the crucial role revcom.us plays.  White supremacy and fascism are running rampant, and women’s basic rights are being ripped away.  America threatens wars on Venezuela and Iran, as it terrorizes immigrant families and wantonly plunders our environment—imperiling humanity’s very future.  At revcom.us you learn where these horrors come from, how they can be ended through an actual revolution, and how people are working now toward revolution.  You can find, engage and spread the work of Bob Avakian, the leader of this revolution, the architect of the new communism, and author of a concrete blueprint for a new society moving toward full emancipation. So become part of fighting for humanity’s future: sustain or donate now.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/BA-on-the-big-screen-in-nyc-en.html

BA on the Big Screen in NYC—
“The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!”

| revcom.us

 

From a member of the National Revolution Tour

On Monday evening, October 7, Revolution Books in NYC and the Revolution Books Education Fund hosted a screening at Anthology Film Archives in the Lower East Side of New York of The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go—In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian (BA) that was given in 2017.

As people settled into their seats, they were welcomed and given an introduction to the film and Bob Avakian. Then, the theater darkened and BA appeared crisply on the screen, capturing and holding the attention of a rapt audience for the full length of his speech. Audible reactions to BA's depth of analysis, passion, ideological challenges, and humor punctuated the hour.

About 60 people came to this showing, which was fewer than we aimed for. We are still working to understand why more people didn't come – especially why there weren't many students or people involved in the different movements of opposition to the Trump/Pence regime and its crimes. A large percentage of those who did come out were Black people, which was interesting. Quite a few of them came through the work of Revolution Books.

When the lights came up, almost everyone stayed for a group discussion which wove back and forth between different dimensions of what BA had laid out and the plans set forth by RefuseFascism.org to launch the kind of sustained, mass, nonviolent protest BA was advocating for aimed at driving the Trump/Pence regime from power. These #OutNow protests will begin in Los Angeles and New York on October 19th, then spread nationwide on October 26, and continue to grow nationwide each Saturday through November 16, and then forward from there – uniting people from a great array of political perspectives throughout society to stand up and demand: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go – NOW! Or, simply: #OutNow!

Early in the discussion, a Black woman asked if we could get more into the solution. Several other people drew from the vision BA laid out of a movement from below that drives out the fascist regime – uniting people very broadly to take part. Members of the Revolution Tour united with and built on this, while also pointing to the need to go further – to the actual overthrow of the whole capitalist-imperialist system that has given rise to this fascist regime. When one of them directed people to the special compilation of American Crimes against Native Americans that was recently published at revcom.us, much of the room broke into applause. People were also invited to learn more about the revolution at the Revolution Books table where they could find copies of BAsics, of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America and The New Communism, all written by BA.

At one point a young man suggested, “If revolution is too edgy for you, you can support Bernie,” celebrating his refusal to take corporate money. A revolutionary musician was respectful, but also straight up, in saying that BA was arguing for exactly the opposite of voting for any Democrats. We are facing fascism, it comes from the same system that those Democrats are part of, and if we want to end this we have to step outside the confines of that system. An older woman who works with RefuseFascism.org returned to BA's fierce and truthful argument that liberals need to stop looking out only for themselves and those they most care about. She emphasized that every time she hears BA, she is reminded that we are responsible for the children in the cages and others being affected by this fascism right now. A member of the Revolution Tour took on the idea that people should pick their “solutions” based on what suits their “tastes” (if they “like being edgy” or not, for example) as if they are shopping for shoes (“Are these comfortable?” “Are they my style?”). They contrasted this with the approach BA takes of starting with the reality we are facing and acting in relation to that, whether or not it makes us uncomfortable. We can and should debate our different understandings of this reality as we unite broadly to drive out this fascist regime before it is too late, but we should be debating reality not what fits our “tastes.” In reflecting on this whole exchange, it struck me how important it is that we have people who support Bernie and many different visions of the solution all coming together in the #OutNow movement to drive out the Trump/Pence regime and how important it is that we continue and deepen these debates over the question of reform vs. revolution and more along the way.

After more back and forth, another member of the National Revolution Tour spoke deeply to the power of this film and the need for many more to see it, and how everyone in the theater was in a unique position to seize on this and take it forward – or to squander it.

The formal program ended with three short presentations of how people can learn more and get involved going forward. First, a member of the National Get Organized for an Actual Revolution Tour powerfully laid out the mission of the Tour and called on people to get with the revolution. Next, a leader in Refuse Fascism delivered a compelling vision for people to join with RefuseFascism.org's October plans – including calling people to stand up if they are in. Almost everyone stood with real enthusiasm and feeling. Finally, someone gave an update on the case of the #UCLA5 and asked people to support them.

A real strength of the evening was how directly people were challenged and invited to get involved, but there was also an important weakness to learn from. People weren't really organized on the spot and this was linked to not enough actively working to involve people there in solving the many big challenges of pulling off this fight to drive out the regime – like reaching the numbers of people who must be mobilized, waging the kind of ideological struggle against national chauvinism and individualism that BA wages in the film, and more.

For the final 45 minutes of the evening, the lobby and Revolution Books tables – and, when the building had to lock up, the street out front – were abuzz with discussion and strategizing among people getting to know each other better and working together to find ways to act on what they had just experienced.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/meeting-with-community-college-students-en.html

Meeting with Community College Students:
“We Are Not, and I Am Not, Going to Be the Generation
That Did Not Act to Drive Out This Regime!”

| revcom.us

 

From a member of a Revolution Club:

When A. and I went to a community college in Southern California, we met with about 15 students that are in a group whose members are mainly immigrant, undocumented students. I’ll say it again—we do need to be reaching by phone people who sign up with Refuse Fascism. This is one of the people we reached, L., who heads this group. We had half an hour. We showed the 4 minute trailer of the film of Bob Avakian’s talk; THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America: A Better World IS Possible. We made specific points on what’s planned. The students were like taken aback and really considering, but a bit quiet, except that L. led a thing saying we are not, and she is not, going to be the generation that didn’t act to drive out the fascist Trump/Pence regime.

Then, we went outside together with the 50-foot banner, and that unleashed the students! They were signing the banner, dancing, taking pictures of each other and of the whole group, the lid got taken off (these are undocumented students in the main) for a bit. You can see one video image of the group chanting “Trump/Pence Out Now!” and “October 19 Out Now” that I hope we are using. The group got posters to put up all over school, Calls to Action, and then at the end some got HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution from me. When we were outside with the banner, school police came—they were intimidating but not in position to try to shut it down. L. thought this was outrageous.

Now More Than Ever!

See excerpts and the Q&A of this film

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You’ve read this article, now think about the crucial role revcom.us plays.  White supremacy and fascism are running rampant, and women’s basic rights are being ripped away.  America threatens wars on Venezuela and Iran, as it terrorizes immigrant families and wantonly plunders our environment—imperiling humanity’s very future.  At revcom.us you learn where these horrors come from, how they can be ended through an actual revolution, and how people are working now toward revolution.  You can find, engage and spread the work of Bob Avakian, the leader of this revolution, the architect of the new communism, and author of a concrete blueprint for a new society moving toward full emancipation. So become part of fighting for humanity’s future: sustain or donate now.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/revbooks/index.html

 

Hook up with the revolution

Coming Events at Revolution Books

Events for Revolution Books stores in New York and Berkeley are listed here. Listed below are contact numbers for distributors of Revolution newspaper and followers of Bob Avakian in other cities.


New York

Ngugi wa Thiong'o and Andy Zee at grand opening in Harlem

437 Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Ave.
212-691-3345
revbooksnyc@yahoo.com
revolutionbooksnyc.org
Open daily 12-9

 

January 23, Thursday, 7 pm
Boss of the Grips: The Life of James H. Williams and the Red Caps of Grand Central Terminal, with author Erik Williams. The story of the life of the chief porter of Grand Central Terminal’s Red Caps, the Harlem-based Black men at America’s most august railroad station. An account of the rich connection between Harlem and the railroads of the U.S. ... and the struggle against Jim Crow segregation.

January 24, Friday, 7-9 pm
Benefit for Revolution Books: On November 8 and 9, 2019, hundreds of re-enactors retraced the path of the largest rebellion of enslaved people in United States history, embodying a story of resistance, freedom, and revolutionary action. This was the German Coast Uprising of 1811, which took place in the river parishes just outside New Orleans. Artist Dread Scott, who created this tremendous artwork, will discuss its significance with Andy Zee, spokesperson for Revolution Books.
Tickets available at Revolution Books and eventbrite.com:
$75 includes wine & cheese reception at the bookstore with Scott and Zee, 5:30 pm
$15 general admission, 7:00 pm; $10 students/limited income/sliding scale, 7:00 pm

Fundraising all through December and January
Critical drive to raise $50,000 by January 31. Donate generously and help raise funds. Go to revolutionbooksnyc.org or call us at 212-691-3345.

Letter from Andy Zee
Read this letter from Andy Zee

January 30, Thursday, 7 pm
Discussion with David Orenstein, co-author of Darwin’s Apostles: The Men Who Fought to Have Evolution Accepted, Their Times, and How the Battle Continues. The story of Charles Darwin, his life, his times, and some of the brave scientists who supported and advocated for the scientific theory of evolution against those who worked to stop it from being accepted... and how that battle continues today.

February 1, Saturday, 1-3 pm
Griot World returns to Revolution Books to read Jacqueline Woodson’s This Is the Rope, with music and puppets. This Is the Rope tells the multi-generational story of the Great Migration from the Jim Crow South to NYC. Ages 5+, all ages welcome. The book is 10% off at the event. Griot World includes story teller Michael J and musicians Monk, Sophia Loren Coffee, and LeeOlive Tucker.


Berkeley

Revolution Books, Berkeley

2444 Durant Avenue
510-848-1196

revolutionbooksberkeley@gmail.com
www.revolutionbooks.org
New Hours: 3 pm–7 pm Mon, 11 am–7 pm Tues–Sat, 1 pm–6 pm Sun

 

 


Check the stores' websites for details, information, and more events.
Unless otherwise noted, the events listed on this page are in English, but in many cases Spanish translation is available. Please call the bookstore in advance to request Spanish translation.


Contact followers of Bob Avakian and distributors of Revolution newspaper in the following cities:

Chicago: revbookschi@yahoo.com, or 312-241-5409.

Los Angeles: revolutionbooksla@gmail.com, or 323-463-3500.
Mailing address: 4001 Wilshire Blvd., #183, Los Angeles, CA 90010.

Honolulu: revolutionbookshonolulu@gmail.com, or 808-944-3106.

Boston/Cambridge: info@revolutionbookscamb.org, or 617-388-0133. Mailing address: Revolution Books, 955 Massachusetts Ave., Box 321, Cambridge, MA. 02139.

Seattle: revolutionbookssea@gmail.com.

Cleveland: revbookscle@hotmail.com, or 216-762-9812.

Detroit: revbooks313@gmail.com, or 313-469-4333.

Atlanta: revbooksatl@hotmail.com.

Houston: revolutionhtown@yahoo.com, or 832-865-0408
P.O. Box 230112, Houston, TX 77223

 


 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/revolutiontour/donate-en.html

The Revolution Tour Is in NYC—$25,000 Needed in the Month of October

Updated | revcom.us

 

The Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour is now in New York City, boldly breaking onto the scene with the spirit of “You Think You’re Woke... But You’re Sleepwalking Through a Nightmare—This System Cannot Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown!” The world is being shaken up on many fronts, and the Tour is taking this message into the midst of these momentous events. A great deal is demanded of these revolutionaries in times like these and funds are urgently needed to support this important work!

Members of the Tour have been out to the high schools and out in the midst of the major outpourings of mainly young people at the Climate Strike saying: “Capitalism Is A Straitjacket On Humanity’s Chance To Save Our Planet... Only A REAL Revolution Can Remove That Straitjacket.” They quickly traveled to Washington, DC, to join with a protest against Trump, and carried a big banner saying “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives!—Bob Avakian” and “NO U.S. War On Iran!”—just as the danger of the Trump regime launching a war against Iran is sharpening. There in DC, members of the Tour attended the important national meeting called by Refuse Fascism to discuss calling people out into the streets in sustained nonviolent protests week after week to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power. In all of this, the Tour has been both uniting with people who are standing up in struggle while putting squarely before people that what is needed is to build a movement for an ACTUAL revolution and calling on people to be a part of this. And in the midst of all this, now some of the Tour volunteers are being called back to Los Angeles where they face grossly unjust charges stemming from standing up against the Trump/Pence regime in 2017 and 2018.

Film showings of the talks by Bob Avakian, The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! and Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution are planned in New York, and the Tour will be getting out in a major way on the campuses very soon.

But all of this can’t be done without raising greater funds right now. For the month of October, there is a need for a minimum of $25,000 to be raised to meet the most basic needs to sustain the volunteers, to print and distribute massive materials, to travel for trials, to travel to different cities on the East Coast—everywhere bringing out the message of the Tour in what promise to be turbulent times where this is needed more than ever.

 

$25,000 Is Needed in October

Donate $25, $50, $100, or another amount

You can also make this a monthly donation

Donations accepted here via PayPal and credit cards:


To Sustain and Donate by Mail:

Send Checks or Money Orders to:
    RCP Publications
    Box 3486 Merchandise Mart
    Chicago, IL 60654

Make checks payable to
"RCP Publications"
and mark them
“National Revolution Tour”


Click here to learn more about the Tour and follow its progress.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/605/identity-politics-blues-en.html

| revcom.us

 

"Identity Politics Blues"

 

I don’t even know who the hell I am

I got twenty-five identities and twenty-five brands

I drove to the intersection and my car just stalled

I sure am feeling really confused

with these damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

I heard someone saying they had truth to tell

but they got white skin and a penis as well

so I knew that they couldn’t possibly be right

never knew that truth had a gender or hue

‘Till I got these postmodern identity politics blues

 

So I shouted out loud to every woman and man

“I’m eight-fifteenths indigenous and ten percent trans!

that means you have to buy my merchandise”

even as I said it, though, I started to snooze

these damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

I just read this book, you should really try it

“10 Quick Steps to Decolonize your Diet”

Now I can survive on agency alone

there’s nothing meaningless I will refuse

with these damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

I purchased an onion and started to cry

as I peeled back its layers of privilege, then I

threw it in the trash and typed a Facebook post

all I need now is someone to accuse

with these damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

I feel deep in my heart that I have love to give

I just hope that’s not “heteronormative’

but then who am I to even use that word?

Why must I be stricken with a cisgender muse?

these damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

Someone said “I’d like to report a crime,”

I said “Call the Arts section of The New York Times,”

there’s nothing decent that they won’t condemn

just be patient when they’re asking “who are you?!”

These damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

Yesterday, a cop punched a guy in the face

without a trigger warning and inside a safe space

he told the cop, the cop wasn’t impressed

the cop wasn’t woke and he was stuck in his views

these damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

I went to the lecture on empowering dogs

someone started whispering “What about frogs?”

Pretty soon, things ground right to a halt

after all, who are we as humans to choose?

These damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

I woke up in the morning for a leaderless swim

I had never swum before, but still I jumped right in

two minutes later, I promptly started to drown

the other swimmers smirked and just looked amused

these damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

I somehow washed ashore and collapsed on the sand

I coughed and gasped for air and I could not understand

how the currents took me so far out to sea

it dawned on me that I might need to lose

these damn postmodern identity politics blues

 

So now I want to change the world, or at least I might

if I could just stop asking if I have the right

I’ve had it with these hustlers, fakes and fools

how much longer must we be abused

by these damn postmodern identity politics blues?

 

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/naomi-klein-lets-capitalism-off-the-hook-en.html

Denialism of Another Kind...
Or How Naomi Klein Lets Capitalism Off the Hook

by Raymond Lotta

| revcom.us

 

Naomi Klein’s new book On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal offers up a deceptive and dangerous “denialism.” Not climate-change denialism—she’s clear and compelling on the reality of global warming. But rather a willful denial of the root cause of the environmental emergency: the system of capitalism-imperialism. And a willful refusal to come to grips with what it will actually take for humanity to have a real chance to confront and act on this crisis: a revolution to overthrow this capitalist-imperialist system and that goes on to forge a socialist society and economy that can sustainably interact with nature and serve the emancipation of humanity.

The following passages are from the Introduction and Epilogue to On Fire.

Claim #1: “Humanity has a once-in-a-century chance to fix an economic model that is failing the majority of people on multiple fronts” [emphasis added].

Reality Check: Klein uses the term “economic model” to signify a type or variant of capitalism (which she often describes as “neoliberal,” “deregulated,” “disaster”). But the problem is not a particular type of capitalism waiting to be redesigned, repurposed, or reformed. What underlies the plunder and devastation of the planet is the economic system of capitalism-imperialism that has built-in and defining features and dynamics. It is a system of private ownership of the means of production (factories, technology, land, and other raw materials, etc.)—of huge agglomerations of capital, backed by an imperialist state—a system with a stranglehold over the potential of human society in today’s world to meet social need, end all exploitation and oppression, and safeguard the planet. It is a system driven by the anarchic, competitive pursuit of profit and more profit, based on the exploitation of billions on this planet.

Capitalism-imperialism has an inner compulsion to expand or die. General Motors and Toyota compete for new markets and to cheapen production... Huawei competes with European telecoms for technological advantage and monopoly. This is a system in which rival great powers, like the U.S and China, contend for global control and dominance over regions, resources, technology, and labor—and for military superiority.

Klein points out, quite correctly, that in the 30 years since “world leaders” first started holding conferences to address global warming, CO2 emissions have in fact risen by more than 40 percent. But true to form, she refuses to draw the right conclusion. This rise in emissions has everything to do with the workings and nature of the beast: the capitalist-imperialist system. With its global supply chains of horrendous super-exploitation in the Third World and with its global transport of that thrive on fossil fuels for their profitability. With the vast military apparatus of the U.S. empire that runs on fossil fuel for its deadly reach and mobility. And this expand-or-die system of production that turns everything into a commodity treats nature as a cost-free input to be poured into production for profit.

Klein wants you to believe that all this is the product of a faulty “model” that we should organize to adjust. But capitalism cannot be” fixed” to serve humanity and safeguard the planet. It must be overthrown and replaced with a radically different and liberating new system.

Claim #2: “The New Deal, the World War II mobilizations, and the Marshall Plan all remind us that another approach to profound crisis was always possible and still is today. Faced with the collective emergencies that punctuated those decades, the response was to enlist entire societies, from individual consumers to workers to large manufacturers to every level of government, in deep with clear common goals...”

Reality Check: “Common goals”? You’ve got to be kidding. The New Deal was a ruling-class response to an economic and social crisis that threatened the foundations of capitalism.1 It was designed to rescue capitalism—the large corporations and the banking system—and to stave off the possibility of revolution by introducing certain social programs. The New Deal under Roosevelt morphed into a war economy serving a war of conquest, a war for greater empire. Klein is inspired by and repeats the official narrative of this imperialist/chauvinist mobilization. The dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima... the post-World War 2 order of dollar supremacy and privileged access to raw materials... the U.S. interventions and client regimes... genocidal wars... but with unionization and higher living standards for Americans—this is “deep transformation.”2

Claim #3: “There are... all kinds of ways to raise financing [for green technologies], including means that attack untenable levels of wealth concentration and shift the burden to those most responsible for climate pollution....And then there is the military...If the military budgets of the top ten military spenders in the world were cut by 25 percent, that would free up $325 billion annually.”

Reality Check: Notice what stays in place in Klein’s “bold vision”: the capitalist ruling class and capitalist ownership and production—but with a less “untenable” distribution of wealth. What stays in place is the monstrous imperialist military—now operating with a leaner budget (hey, they use solar power at Guantánamo). In short, the empire remains intact! (Read here why the “Green New Deal” is part of the problem.)

Claim #4: “In tackling the climate crisis, we can create hundreds of millions of good jobs around the world, invest in the most excluded communities and nations, and guarantee healthcare and childcare and much more.”

Reality Check: This is a fantasyland of a capitalism that has never existed, that delivers meaningful jobs for all (with a click of a switch for a “fix”). And who is this “we” and who is the “investor” that Klein waxes poetic about? If you have not overthrown this system and defeated its military and created a whole new economic system based on socialist ownership and conscious planning for the betterment of humanity and protection of the planet—that “we” can only be the same fucking capitalist-imperialist system that plunders the planet...dressed up “green.”

And she lets the cat out of the bag: In a recent interview about On Fire, Naomi Klein offers this putrid reflection on the current moment: “I’m renewed by this new generation that is so determined, so forceful. I’m inspired by the willingness to engage in electoral politics, because my generation, when we were in our 20s and 30s, there was so much suspicion with getting our hands dirty with electoral politics that we lost a lot of opportunities.” There you have it: an ode to, a prescription for, the dead-end of bourgeois electoral bullshit, keeping people in the political vise-grip of the very system that produced this crisis. At a time when a new generation of high school students and young people has taken to the streets and declared the bankruptcy of world leaders... at a time when time is running out to save the planet.

Reality check: there is a real solution. The house is on fire. Global warming is endangering human life, all life, and the planet itself. To fight the fire, you need a scientific understanding of what is causing it and how to put it out. It exists. There is a strategy for an actual revolution to put an end to this system. Watch the film of Bob Avakian’s talk Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. And there is a vision and a blueprint for an economy and society that give humanity our only shot, not a guarantee but our only chance, to deal with the environmental emergency on the scale and with the urgency needed, and on a truly emancipatory basis: the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America authored by Bob Avakian and Some Key Principles of Socialist Sustainable Development.

 


1. See “Watch What You Wish For... FDR’s New Deal and the American Empire” at revcom.us.  [back]

2. On Klein’s fondness for the U.S. imperialist Marshall Plan instituted after World War 2, see “Naomi Klein’s 'This Changes Everything' vs. Actually Confronting the Climate Crisis” at revcom.us.  [back]

The Destruction of the Planet by Capitalism-Imperialism

A clip from the speech by Bob Avakian: Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution
Watch the complete film here.
Share this clip widely on social media


Amazon rainforest burning, 2019

The question is... what underlies this crisis and what must be done?

—A Special Resource Page on the Environmental Emergency

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)

How Would a Revolutionary Socialist Society Address the Environmental Emergency? Excerpts from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

Funds urgently needed each month to maintain, upgrade, and expand revcom.us.
Sustain or donate generously NOW!

You’ve read this article, now think about the crucial role revcom.us plays.  White supremacy and fascism are running rampant, and women’s basic rights are being ripped away.  America threatens wars on Venezuela and Iran, as it terrorizes immigrant families and wantonly plunders our environment—imperiling humanity’s very future.  At revcom.us you learn where these horrors come from, how they can be ended through an actual revolution, and how people are working now toward revolution.  You can find, engage and spread the work of Bob Avakian, the leader of this revolution, the architect of the new communism, and author of a concrete blueprint for a new society moving toward full emancipation. So become part of fighting for humanity’s future: sustain or donate now.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/cpi-ml-the-military-offensive-of-turkeys-fascistic-army-en.html

The Military Offensive of Turkey's Fascistic Army in Rojava

The statement of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist)

| revcom.us

 

The military offensive of the fascist state of Turkey against Rojava (Kurdistan of Syria) and the autonomous region controlled by the People’s Defence Units (YPG) is indeed an act of genocide to eradicate the Kurdish people of the area. The fascist republic of Turkey to fulfill its main objective against the Kurdish nation, has extended this war beyond its borders against the Kurds of Syria, as well. These are the crimes pouring out of the Erdogan’s “Spring of Peace”.

A number of cities and villages in northern Syria have been hit by Turkey’s air and artillery attacks, and many targets including  Syrikani (Ras al-Ayn) and Gary Espy (Tell Abyad,) have been bombarded. The Turkish government says it is seeking to create a “safe zone” along the border and aims to drive out the Kurdish forces affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (DYP) labelled as “terrorist groups”. Erdogan and the Turkish government have turned more than four million Syrian refugees residing in Turkey into an instrument of their fascist policy.

This aggressive occupation is not just against the Kurds in Syria. Through this war Erdogan is trying to respond to the extreme dissatisfaction of the Turkish people against him and his AKP party, by launching more aggressive attacks against his opponents including the Kurds and non-Kurds, under the pretence of “National Security.” Since the beginning of these attacks, various opponents Erdogan, including, opposition political forces, intellectuals and unions etc, have declared their opposition against this war. The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) a party within the Turkey’s power structure, has called for a broad coalition unity against Erdogan; meanwhile Erdogan has also called his supporters out to defend his party’s policies.

This attack was carried out with the green light from Trump and blessing by Iran and Russia with some ifs and buts nevertheless tacitly gone along with it- but posed to take the most advantage of the situation. The Syrian National Army formerly called “Free Syrian Army” comprised of former officers of Bashar Al-Assad, mercenaries of the Security and Turkish Army (MIT), have welcomed Ankara’s decision to invade Syria. In a statement issued Wednesday, this group stated that “The Kurds have left us no other choice” and issued the decree to forces under their command to “Hit them with your strong fists and pour your fire at them, make them taste hell.”

What we are seeing in the region today is the expression of the contradictions arising from the heart of the global capitalist system and the reaction of the imperialist rulers, especially American imperialism, to these contradictions. These wars (of empire) which have slaughtered and displaced several generations of Kurds, Arabs and others in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen that have filled their lives with horror and fear, is indeed hallmarks of all contradictions of the time we live in. The US government, no matter what faction is in the White House, has never taken the side of the Kurdish people regardless of its off and on conflicts and disagreements with the Turkish government. The reason is that the Republic of Turkey is part of the structure of the rule and hegemony of American imperialism, and in general, the Western imperialists in the Middle East.

Trump shamelessly tweeted that. “Now the Kurds are fighting for their own land so that you understand...they did not fight for us in the World War II and they did not help us with Normandy.” The history of US imperialism’s relationship with the Kurds is full of lies and betrayals. United States goal has never been about the triumph nor the right to self-determination for the Kurds. The US has repeatedly betrayed the Kurdish nation and the bourgeois political forces and has used them as an instrument to bolster its own relations, as a backbone and pressure on the governments of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Cooperation between the Syrian Ba’ath government at the time of Hafiz al-Assad, the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and MIT (Turkey’s security agency) for arresting Abdullah Ocalan was one of these deals. In the current situation, the ominous shadows of these bloody deals are visible once again.

In the Middle East today, any political movement that wants to be the people’s movement and serve the people it claims to represent, must do its utmost to avoid the vortex of coalitions and deals with the imperialist powers (the US, Russia, China and the European Union) and consequently, should avoid deals with the regional governments (Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Syria and Iraq, etc.) and thus, take their people away from that sinkhole, quickly. But the ruling party in Rojava, the PDD, and its military branches (YPG and YPJ) have run counter to this rule. Together with other nationalist parties in Kurdistan, they have made it part of their strategy and a very common thing to turn into an instrument for the imperialist powers and the governments of the region. This is a policy that has always caused massacres and displacement for the Kurdish people.

For many years the Middle East, has been the scene of war and bloodshed by the imperialist forces and the reactionary governments of the region. These infidelities, atrocities, genocides, and endless wars will continue unless there is at the scene, in one or more areas a powerful communist movement based on the real communism, the new communism, to lead masses of people “in another way,” a leadership, qualitatively different, from what has been ruling in the region, for many years. The people of the region must first unite in theory and then in practice against all the imperialists and the reactionaries of the region and their wars.

As the Communist Party of Iran (MLM) has emphasised in the draft constitution of the new Socialist Republic of Iran, one should only strive for the communist revolution and build a society that:

“will serve as a base for the advancement of the world revolution and will show the people of the world through publicity and modeling that poverty and deprivation stemming from the old property relations, old thoughts, oppressive social relationships such as women’s oppression, economic domination, political and cultural domination, racism and the hegemony of nation over another nation, the destruction of the environment, monopolization of access to science and art by a handful of people in society, forcing art and science to serve the capitalist system, banning the thinking and turning humans into submissive beings which are bolts in the capitalist system, all will diminish by overthrowing the capitalist system, the establishment of socialism and the move to the establishment of a communist social system in the world.”

 

October 10, 2019

This statement appears on the website of the Communist Party of Iran (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist)

The New Communism

Available to download as PDF in English | Spanish | Farsi

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/drop-the-charges-on-noche-diaz-and-the-puerto-rican-peoples-parade-7-en.html

Drop the Charges on Noche Diaz and the Puerto Rican People’s Parade 7!

Hands Off the Revolution Club!
We Have the Right to Lift Our Heads!

| revcom.us

 

Seven members of the Revolution Club Chicago, including Noche Diaz of the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour, are facing trial this fall, stemming from an illegitimate mass arrest by the Chicago Police Department at the 2018 Puerto Rican People’s Parade. The Revolution Club members were surrounded and violently arrested for speaking with people, at a public parade, about the crimes of this system and getting organized for revolution. This arrest is part of a pattern of very similar illegal arrests, as well as ongoing harassment, physical interference and attempted intimidation by the Chicago police of the Revolution Club for speaking in public places. All seven are charged with interfering with a police officer, a misdemeanor charge that carries possibly a year in jail. In addition, Noche is charged with a sound ordinance violation and disorderly conduct, which carry hundreds of dollars in fines.

At the Puerto Rican People’s Parade in 2018, the Revolution Club was set up along the parade route where vendors line the streets playing music and selling flags and food. The Revolution Club banner said, “This System Cannot Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown,” and there were posterboard displays of the crimes of this system, including the criminal actions of the Trump/Pence regime that caused the deaths of thousands of people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Members of the Revolution Club were passing out flyers with the message of how a real revolution is the way out of this mess and can actually be made, calling on people to be part of getting organized for revolution. And they had scheduled a film showing in the park for later that evening, the 2017 speech by Bob Avakian, “The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible.”

For two hours before the parade arrived, the Revolution Club talked to people and passed out flyers. They often spoke over a bullhorn, powerfully bringing together how this system is responsible for the deaths in Puerto Rico, the U.S.-backed bombing of Yemen, and the ripping away of immigrant children from their parents as well as the terror and brutality of the police right here. (What should be the obvious right of the Revolution Club to speak to people at public events, has also been explicitly affirmed by the ACLU in a letter to the Revolution Club in the wake of this case, including the right to use amplified sound.)

Then suddenly a crowd of at least 12 police officers, including several commanders, showed up. Within minutes police officers had surrounded seven Revolution Club members, jumped on them, grabbed them, thrown them to the ground and arrested them. The revolutionaries were put into a suffocating hot wagon, then dripping with sweat were put in ice-cold cells. The women were subjected to invasive body searches.

Between July 2016 and September 2019, members of the Revolution Club were arrested or ticketed on 14 different occasions and nearly arrested, interfered with, or harassed an additional 20 times in that time period. The “near arrests” were times where the police were very close to arresting members of the Revolution Club but backed off after being strongly challenged by a lawyer or witnesses. In many other instances, the police have purposely maintained a close physical presence to intimidate people to try to prevent them from coming over to talk and find out more about the revolution.

These arrests are blatant political repression of a message the CPD—and their political higher-ups—don’t want connecting with the people they want to keep in line. And while Chicago’s Democratic administrations try to silence revolutionaries who envision and fight for a world free  of all oppression, the fascist regime in the White House lashes out and gains strength in its ability to crush all dissent.

This needs to be fought back against and these charges defeated, with the demand that all the charges on the seven defendants be dropped, and that the illegal attacks on the Revolution Club stop.

This is a high-stakes fight. For one, each of the members of the Revolution Club facing trial could be jailed up to a year if convicted. We need their voices out here now more than ever. Very importantly, this trial concentrates questions of who has a right to speak. Will the police be allowed to silence people and groups who are speaking out against the system and the role of the police? Will the authorities be able to isolate and crush revolutionary leadership that is showing a way out of the nightmare this system has humanity locked in? Or will we strengthen the revolution through this fight, opening up more space in society for all those fighting for a better world?

The masses of people have a right to lift our heads to the vision of a radically better way the world could be and the basis, science, strategy, and leadership to fight for that world, that is the message of the Revolution Club.

You Are Needed – What You Can Do

  • Call Kim Foxx’s office at 312-603-1880 to demand the charges be dropped
  • Spread the word about this case and the need for others to join this battle by putting up posters in your neighborhood or school and sharing the graphics on social media (and if you do graphic design, donate your skills to developing more art)
  • Donate to enable and support the legal battle and the political battle
  • Sign and spread the Drop the Charges statement
  • Invite defendants to speak to your class, church, organization, or group of friends and family
  • Be in court to show support for defendants at the October 29th discovery hearing, 9am 555 W Harrison Courtroom 303, and other important hearings

Contact the Revolution Club:
(312) 804-9121 • Revclub.chi@gmail.com
Social media @revclubchi
Revolution Club Organizing Center
1857 E. 71st Street
Chicago, Illinois 60649

Print and Distribute (PDF, 2-sided)

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Drop the Charges on the Puerto Rican People's Parade 7!
Hands Off the Revolution Club!

| revcom.us

 

Dear Potential Signatory,

We are reaching out very widely to gather signatories on the statement below. A PDF that includes a photo of the defendants is also available. We may deliver it to the office of Kim Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney, print in various publications or use it in other ways.

By signing it you are agreeing to the bolded part below calling on Kim Foxx to drop the charges. You can email your reply to the Revolution Club at: revclub.chi@gmail.com. Please include how you want to be described, for example, “artist” and/or your affiliation “for identification purposes only.” You can also call the Revolution Club at: 312-804-9121.

Thank you.

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/the-police-murder-of-ismael-lopez-en.html

The Police Murder of Ismael Lopez: Consolidating Fascism in Practice and in Law

| revcom.us

 

Ismael Lopez was a 41-year-old immigrant from Mexico. He had been living in the U.S. for decades, and ran a car repair shop in Southaven, Mississippi, a suburb of Memphis. He and his wife, Claudia Linares, were married in Crittenden County, Arkansas.

Around midnight on July 24, 2017, two pigs from the Southaven police department shot and killed Lopez inside his home. The cops said they were searching for a man in a house across the street from Lopez’s mobile home. Lopez had committed no crime, and had no warrants out for his arrest. But these pigs banged open the door to his trailer, and fired several times into the dark home. One of those shots penetrated Ismael Lopez’s skull and lodged in his brain, killing him. The killers of Ismael Lopez have been exonerated by both a grand jury in Mississippi and the FBI.

In June this year, Claudia Linares filed a $20 million wrongful death lawsuit in federal court. The suit says that Lopez’s civil rights—specifically under the Fourth Amendment, which states that people’s right “to be secure in their persons, [and] houses ... against unreasonable searches and seizures” shall “not be violated”; and the Fourteenth. which says that no state “shall deprive any person (our emphasis) of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law ...,” were violated by the murdering cops.

Arguing for a Legal Caste of “Non-Persons”

In September the city of Southaven responded. Their legal argument is that since Ismael Lopez was in the U.S. without papers, he “... may have been a person on American soil, but he was not one of the ‘We, the People of the United States,’ entitled to the civil rights invoked in this lawsuit.”

Think about what this means. Mississippi officials are arguing in federal courts that millions of immigrants are “non-persons” who have no rights protected by the U.S. Constitution and U.S. law. This argument declares entire sections of human beings to be “subhuman,” “vermin,” beyond even the pretense of legal rights. It is similar to what the Nazis in Germany had declared Jews to be—as they moved toward the creation of death camps that obliterated millions.

The argument made by Mississippi’s lawyers is being advanced by local officials in a particularly backward and historically racist section of the country. But the dominant section of the U.S. ruling class, and a large section of U.S. society, agrees with the thinking behind it. If it is upheld in federal courts—and Trump has been stacking the federal judiciary with Christian Fascist zealots for almost three years—it will be a major leap in consolidating full-on white supremacist fascism. It will give a complete green light to police of all stripes to murder and brutalize immigrants, and people they “suspect” of being immigrants. It will provide legal cover to all sorts of violence against those declared by law to be “non-persons.”

This is genocide in the making. Attacks on immigrants draw upon deep, centuries-long strains of white supremacy and hatred of immigrants in U.S. society. They have the potential to become horrors beyond imagination here and now.

A 21st Century Dred Scott

Shortly before the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, the Supreme Court issued its infamous Dred Scott decision. It ruled that Black people “are not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word ‘citizens’ in the Constitution,”  and that Black people had “no rights which the white man is bound to respect.”  Now, 160 years later, an argument is advancing in federal courts seeking to establish in U.S. law that immigrants without papers—an estimated 10.5 million people—have no rights police are bound to respect.

The lawsuit filed by Claudia Linares has not been decided. But the argument against it represents a deadly serious component in a fascist rewriting and recasting of the law and some of its long standing, underlying precepts. What are supposed to be civil and legal rights for everyone are being shredded.

Whatever happens in this case, it is an ominous warning of the direction society is rapidly moving. It should be a wake-up call that rouses to action everyone who refuses to live in a world in which entire sections of people can be hunted down, imprisoned, and murdered with impunity.


Ismael Lopez and his wife Claudia Linares

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/snakes-alligators-and-bullets-en.html

Snakes, Alligators, and Bullets: Trump's Reptilian Response to Migration

| revcom.us

 

Donald Trump launched his campaign for president by spewing racist contempt for immigrants, and Mexican people in particular. He called Mexicans “rapists” and said, “Those aren’t people. They’re animals.” He has laughed when someone in the mob at one of his fascist rallies shouted that immigrants “should be shot.” Recently, reports emerged that in talks with his fascist inner circle Trump has advocated building trenches filled with snakes and alligators at the border; making an electrified border wall with spikes at the top; and shooting migrants in the legs to “slow them down.”

Trump’s racist, hate-filled rants create and amplify an atmosphere in which violent attacks on immigrants—children drowning in the Rio Grande in desperate attempts to get to the other side, a border bristling with weaponry and concentration camps, people gunned down with impunity by the police—could quickly escalate into crimes against humanity on a truly massive scale. They serve to create a category of people—millions of people—against whom any atrocity is considered “acceptable” and legally justifiable. Anyone with any basic sense of human decency must pour themselves, heart and soul, into driving this fascist regime from power. #OutNow!


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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/american-crimes-nine-cases-of-dispossession-and-genocide-of-native-peoples-en.html

American Crime

Why Celebrating Columbus (Day) is Celebrating THEFT and GENOCIDE:

Read these 9 cases of American Crime for the truth about Columbus and America

| revcom.us

 

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

Every year, on the second Monday in October, America celebrates "Columbus Day," heralding Christopher Columbus as a great explorer who "discovered" the "New World" and made the creation of the United States possible. Columbus didn't discover America, but he did bring conquest and enslavement. And he launched one of the most massive genocides in human history, a genocide whose scale and savagery still boggle the mind, as these installments of our American Crime series focused on Native Americans illustrate. This, along with the enslavement of Black people, is what sits at the foundation of the United States.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

Case #77: Christopher Columbus Brought Genocide and Slavery to the "New World," and America Celebrates Him for It

THE CRIME: On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus, an Italian sailing for Spain, landed on what is now the Bermuda Islands. Columbus is celebrated in the U.S. as the person who first “discovered” the “New World,” making it possible for those who came after him, through hard work, to create the greatest global power in the world today, as the official declaration of “Columbus Day” as a national holiday states.

Columbus did not “discover” the Americas—they had been inhabited by many different indigenous peoples for some 13,000 years. But he did bring conquest and enslavement, and launched one of the most massive, horrific genocides in human history.

Read more

 

Case #90: The Sullivan Expedition, 1779—Genocide of Native Peoples and Scorched Earth in Upstate New York

Destruction of Indian villages

THE CRIME: In June 1779, heavily armed caravans of more than 6,200 American soldiers headed north from Pennsylvania and west from a town near Albany, New York. These forces, under the command of General John Sullivan, comprised about 25 percent of the Continental Army, which had been formed by the Continental Congress of former colonies that were in a war for independence from England.

Their target: Native American tribes who lived in western New York—the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora, Cayuga, and Seneca peoples. These peoples called themselves the Haudenosaunee, and are known to historians as the Iroquois League or Iroquois Confederacy. The mission of Sullivan's troops: the "total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible," in the words of the commander in chief of the Continental Army.

Read more

 

Case #44: The Trail of Tears, 1838-39

Trail of Tears

THE CRIME: From 1838-1839, approximately 15,000 Cherokee and 2,000 Black slaves that they owned were forcibly removed from Cherokee lands in Georgia and force-marched by the military 800 miles to the new “Indian Territory” in an area that later became Oklahoma. On that march, it has been estimated that 2,500-4,000 people died. That seven-month march has become known as The Trail of Tears.

This brutal and forced removal of the Cherokees is just one part of what should be known about the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears is actually the removal of five “civilized” tribes from their native lands in Southeastern U.S. to the West: the Choctaws from Mississippi, the Seminoles from Florida, the Chickasaw from Tennessee, the Creek from Alabama, and the Cherokees from Georgia.

Read more.

 

Case #53: The Genocide of California's Native Americans, 1846–1873

Murder of Yuki People

THE CRIME: From 1846 to 1873, a mass genocide was carried out against California’s Native American population by the U.S. government and white settlers. In 1846, before the 1848 Gold Rush, 157,000 people were living in California, 150,000 of them Native Americans. It was the densest and most diverse Native American population in the U.S. By 1873, there were only 30,000 Native Americans left alive, and by 1880, only 16,277.

This massive ethnic cleansing was the result of the genocidal murders of the native population at the hands of U.S. soldiers, volunteer state militiamen, and vigilantes. This included large massacres that wiped out entire villages, group killings, individual killings, the starvation of thousands, and the death of thousands due to diseases while imprisoned in U.S. Army forts or on federal Indian reservations.

Read more.

 

Case #37: December 26, 1862: The Lynching of 38 Dakota Men―The Largest Mass Execution in U.S. History

Lynching of 38 Dakota (Santee Sioux) men, December 26, 1862

Lynching of 38 Dakota (Santee Sioux) men, December 26, 1862.

THE CRIME: On December 26, 1862, in the midst of the U.S. Civil War (April 1861-May 1865), and in the same week that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, President Abraham Lincoln ordered 38 Dakota Santee Sioux men sent to the gallows in Mankato, Minnesota. They were hooded and hanged simultaneously from a single scaffold, surrounded by 1,500 Union troops and a howling lynch mob of 4,000 white settlers. It was the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

Read more.

 

Case #56: The 1864 Sand Creek Massacre

The site of the Sand Creek Massacre.

The site of the Sand Creek Massacre. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

THE CRIME: They came at dawn, November 29, 1864, 700 heavily armed soldiers of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry, led by Colonel John Chivington. They rode rapidly toward their target, a Cheyenne village near Sand Creek, where the people were caught by surprise because months earlier, representatives of the U.S. government had met with their chief, encouraged him to settle near the creek, and had promised him and his people peace and safety. As the soldiers approached, the chief, Black Kettle, raced to raise the American flag over his lodge in a show of solidarity; others raised white flags of surrender. It didn’t matter.

The soldiers opened fire with carbines and cannons, killing at least 130, almost two-thirds women, children, and the elderly. Most of the young men were out hunting when the attack occurred; otherwise, the death toll would have been considerably higher. Before leaving, the soldiers burned the village and mutilated the dead.

Read more.

 

Case #72: Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890

Victims of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, where the U.S. Seventh Cavalry killed as many as 300 Lakota Indians, including children.

Photo: Library of Congress

THE CRIME: On December 29, 1890, U.S. government soldiers massacred nearly 300 of the 350 Lakota men, women, and children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The massacre took place near Wounded Knee Creek. Some of the women murdered were already widows whose husbands had previously been killed by U.S. troops. The Lakota Chief Spotted Elk (Big Foot), who was dying of pneumonia, was among those massacred.

Read more

 

Case #64: The U.S. Conquest of Hawai`i

Marines marched from the USS Boston to I'olani Palace as part of taking over the Hawai'ian government.

THE CRIME:

The Overthrow: On January 17, 1893, 162 armed U.S. sailors and Marines marched from the USS Boston, harbored in Honolulu Harbor, to Iolani Palace, the center of Hawai’i’s government, and set up camp. This act of war against a nation struggling for independence from foreign domination put the U.S. firmly in control.

Lorrin Thurston, the grandson of an American missionary who had the support of Hawai`i’s white business class, had organized a coup d’etat. And the U.S. had agreed to provide military back up. Thurston’s core conspiracy group, which included Hawai`i’s powerful sugar barons, joined the “Honolulu Rifles” a heavily armed militia of 1,500 largely white businessmen, who patrolled the streets to put down any Native Hawaiians who might rebel.

Read more

 

Case #40: North American Indian Residential Schools, 1870-1970s: “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”

Native Americans from an Apache tribe entering Carlisle School in 1890.

THE CRIME: The cultural genocide of the North American Indians.

The near extermination of the Native Americans in the centuries following 1492 is one of the great historical crimes committed by the rulers of this country—or any country. Credible estimates of the indigenous population in North America in 1492 are between 12.5 and 18.5 million. Through the combination of massive epidemics and the “Indian Wars” waged by the U.S. Army through the decades after the Civil War, by 1890 the estimated Native American population had been reduced to fewer than 240,000 in the U.S., and in Canada a third of that—a population reduction of 95 to 99 percent.

Beginning in the 1870s and lasting a century or more, the weight of U.S. policy toward the Native American population shifted from military annihilation to the forced “assimilation” of the survivors—making them “suitable” to be members of the society that had devastated and despised them.

Read more.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/460/american-crime-case-77-christopher-columbus-en.html

American Crime

Case #77: Christopher Columbus Brought Genocide and Slavery to the "New World," and America Celebrates Him for It

October 10, 2016 | 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 will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

Spaniards killing women and children and feeding their remains to dogs. Illustration based on eyewitness account by Bartolomé de las Casas, in his book published in the 16th Century.
Spaniards killing women and children and feeding their remains to dogs. Illustration based on eyewitness account by Bartolomé de las Casas, in his book published in the 16th century.

THE CRIME: On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus, an Italian sailing for Spain, landed on what is now the Bermuda Islands. Columbus is celebrated in the U.S. as the person who first “discovered” the “New World,” making it possible for those who came after him, through hard work, to create the greatest global power in the world today, as the official declaration of “Columbus Day” as a national holiday would have you believe.

Columbus did not “discover” the Americas—they had been inhabited by many different indigenous peoples for some 13,000 years. But he did bring conquest and enslavement, and launched one of the most massive, horrific genocides in human history.

Columbus was searching for a shorter route to the East Indies (South and Southeast Asia), in pursuit of gold and new peoples to exploit and convert to Christianity, and initially thought that's what he'd found. He and his crew were first met by the indigenous Arawaks, who swam out to welcome them. At the time, it’s estimated that roughly 250,000 Arawaks inhabited the nearby island Columbus named “Hispaniola”—today's Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. The Arawaks lived in communal, agricultural villages, without horses, iron implements—or prisons or prisoners. Columbus wrote they “are so naïve and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone....”

But Columbus was making his own calculations from the moment he encountered them: “They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them.... They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

He immediately took several Arawaks captive, demanding they lead him to the source of the gold on the tiny ornaments they wore. Discovering gold was the reason the Spanish king and queen had backed his voyage. In return, Columbus was to receive 10 percent of all the wealth he brought back, and be appointed governor over the colonized territories. Columbus soon sailed to Cuba and then to nearby Hispaniola where, “bits of visible gold in the rivers, and a gold mask presented to Columbus by a local Indian chief, led to wild visions of gold fields,” Howard Zinn wrote in A People’s History of the United States.

       

On Hispaniola, the Spanish built a fort (the 39 sailors left to find gold were later killed by the Arawaks). Meanwhile, Columbus took 15 captured Arawak Indians back to Spain. He presented them to the king and queen as evidence, along with exaggerated claims of massive gold mines, that he should be given backing to return with more vessels and troops. Columbus promised he would bring back “as much gold as they need... and as many slaves as they ask.”

Based on these promises, in 1493 Columbus went back to the Caribbean islands with 17 ships and over 1,200 men. From his base on Hispaniola, Columbus sent out expeditions from island to island, capturing Indians and searching for gold fields. Finding none, and needing to fill their ships for the return voyage, in 1495 Columbus sent an expedition that, as Zinn writes, “went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships.” Two hundred died crossing the ocean; those who survived were sold in Spain to be used by artisans and as domestics.

But with too many slaves dying in captivity, and having to make good on his promise of gold to the Crown and the Church, in Haiti all persons 14 years or older were forced to work in gold mines until exhausted. It’s estimated that within eight months, nearly a third died. Each had to collect at least a thimble of gold dust every three months. This was a nearly impossible task: the only gold to be found were bits visible in some rivers. As many as 10,000 had their hands cut off and tied around their necks while they bled to death for failing to meet their quota. Others fled and were hunted down with dogs and killed.

Once the Spaniards figured out there were no gold fields, they forced the indigenous people into slave labor on huge feudal agricultural estates called encomiendas, where they were worked to death.

The Arawaks tried to organize resistance, but were no match for the Spanish armaments. Those captured were hanged or burned to death, triggering the start of mass suicides among the Arawaks, including babies deliberately poisoned by their mothers rather than see them tortured. In two years, half of the 250,000 indigenous people in Haiti were dead. By 1515, only 50,000 Arawaks remained; by 1550, there were 500. And this was just the beginning of the massive genocide of native peoples in the Americas by European powers and their colonial settlers, set in motion by Christopher Columbus and his “discovery.”

The atrocities committed by the Spaniards were so gruesome they’re hard to imagine. Bartolomé de las Casas, a former slave owner who became bishop of Chiapas, described some of what he witnessed in his book History of the Indies. The Spanish “thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices of them to test the sharpness of their blades.... Two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; they took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys.” Las Casa concluded: “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel. My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature that now I tremble as I write.”

The Criminals:

Christopher Columbus: Columbus made four voyages to the West Indies, and he was the first to engage in savagery, slavery, and to commit genocide in the New World. Among his many crimes, Columbus supervised the selling of native girls—the ages nine and 10 were most desired by his men—into sexual slavery. He forced the native peoples to work in the gold mines until they died of exhaustion, killing anyone who resisted. Catholic law forbade enslaving Christians; so Columbus refused to baptize the people of Hispaniola. If the Spaniards ran short of meat for their dogs, Arawak babies were killed for dog food.

On his third voyage in 1498, Columbus landed on the island of Trinidad and explored the area off the north coast of South America, before returning to the Spanish colony in Hispaniola. Columbus’s reputation, and that of his two brothers, was so horrific that they were arrested by the governor and shipped back to Spain in chains in 1500. But because of his great assistance to the Crown, Columbus was pardoned by the King and Queen of Spain and let go.

King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain: By continually financing the crimes of Columbus, they enabled the brutality, exploitation, and enslavement to expand continually. For them this was a profitable investment, but not only that. It served the goals of the Catholic Church, which were to expand the conversion of souls to Christianity—in opposition to Islam—around the world.

Pope Alexander VI and the Catholic Church: In 1493, Pope Alexander VI issued a Papal Bull (or decree)—Inter caetera—which declared the full backing of the Catholic Church to Columbus and the Spanish king and queen and all they were doing in the New World. Inter caetera granted official ownership of the New World—“dominion”—to Ferdinand and Isabella. It instructed them to “civilize” every “savage” they encountered. In 1515, an ultimatum was issued by the Spanish conquerors to all indigenous people they encountered in the New World to accept “the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world” or else:

We shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command, and we shall take away your goods, and shall do all the mischief and damage that we can.

The Alibi:

The Spanish expeditions to the “New World” were justified by Spain’s rulers and the Catholic Church as expressions of the “will of god”—to convert “savages” to Christianity. As Columbus described it: “Thus the eternal God, our Lord, gives victory to those who follow His way over apparent impossibilities.”

The Actual Motive:

The goal of the expeditions to the Americas was to find new sources of wealth, especially gold, and people who could be enslaved to produce products for an emerging market. In competition with the Ottoman Turks, who had blocked access to Asia, the Catholic Church and the European powers under their influence were searching for access to new markets, and new sources of gold and other wealth. Columbus offered the promise that there was a way to those riches by crossing the ocean to the west. Finding a continent of people not yet discovered by other rival powers, who could be conquered, dominated, exploited, and converted to Christianity, was the answer to a prayer.

Repeat Offenders:

The Spanish empire eventually expanded across the Caribbean Islands, half of South America, most of Central America, and much of Mexico and North America. Meanwhile, in 1501-1502, a Portuguese colonizing expedition sailed along the coast of South America, including the bay of present-day Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From these origins and foundations, and later British and French colonization, what would become the United States of America arose, developed, and carried forward what was begun by Columbus. The genocide of Native Americans began before and continued after the official founding of this country. So did the enslavement and murder of millions and millions of African people, who were first brought to Virginia in 1619, and on whose backs the wealth of this country, and many other parts of the world, was built.

 

Sources:

Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, Harper & Row, 1980 (first edition)

Bartolomé de las Casas, History of the Indies, written 1527-1561, published by Harper & Row, 1971

Eric Kasem, “Columbus Day? True Legacy: Cruelty and Slavery,” Huffington Post, October 15, 2015

Charles C. Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Vintage Books, 2006

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/446/american-crime-90-the-sullivan-expedition-1779-en.html

American Crime

Case #90: The Sullivan Expedition, 1779—Genocide of Native Peoples and Scorched Earth in Upstate New York

July 4, 2016 | 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 will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

Destruction of Indian villages
Destruction of Indian villages

The Crime

In June 1779, heavily armed caravans of more than 6,200 American soldiers headed north from Pennsylvania and west from a town near Albany, New York. These forces, under the command of General John Sullivan, comprised about 25 percent of the Continental Army, which had been formed by the Continental Congress of former colonies that were in a war for independence from England.

Their target: Native American tribes who lived in western New York—the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Tuscarora, Cayuga, and Seneca peoples. These peoples called themselves the Haudenosaunee, and are known to historians as the Iroquois League or Iroquois Confederacy. The mission of Sullivan’s troops: the “total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible,” in the words of the commander in chief of the Continental Army.

For the next three months, Sullivan’s troops marched across western New York in a scorched-earth campaign. They destroyed everything they came across. The Iroquois had been living in this area for hundreds of years and had highly developed agriculture and well-established villages. Many of the invaders expressed envy at the abundance of the people whose lives they destroyed and at the sturdiness of their homes.

Slavery, genocide...George Washington is founding father
Click to enlarge

One historian described how Sullivan’s troops “methodically looted and destroyed every Iroquois town and village on their route into Finger Lakes country, their progress marked by smoldering villages and blackened fields.” By the end of September, the American forces had demolished “roughly 50 towns, 1 million bushels of corn, 50 thousand bushels of vegetables, and 10 thousand fruit trees.”

Most of the people were able to flee in the face of the advancing juggernaut, and the number of Native Americans killed by the soldiers is unknown. But those 5,000 residents who were able to survive by fleeing were now turned into refugees, and the great tribes were broken.

Men, women, and children captured by the advancing Americans were held in prisons for years after the onslaught, and many died as prisoners. Thousands of people who survived were forced to flee towards British-held areas in Canada during the dangerously cold winter months with heavy snowfall. During what became known as the “Winter of Hunger,” entire families froze to death. Hundreds of people died from malnutrition and disease. The dead were buried in mass graves. Years later, a white woman who had lived with the Seneca spoke of the indescribable trauma: “What were our feelings? When we found that there was not a mouthful enough to keep a child from perishing with hunger?”

The Criminals

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The commander in chief who ordered and oversaw this massive crime was George Washington—the “father of our country” to those who uphold America and all that it stands for. Washington was known to the Iroquois as “Conotocarious”—the “devourer of villages.” Washington’s first military experience was as a British officer in the French and Indian War (1754-63), when his orders were to imprison or kill and destroy all who resisted or opposed his army. He commanded his generals and troops to apply this policy of “kill all” Native Americans during the war of independence against England.

General John Sullivan, who followed Washington’s command and carried out the genocidal campaign of mass destruction and slaughter. Countless genocidal atrocities had been committed against Native peoples since European colonists first arrived in North America. What sets the Sullivan Expedition apart is that it was the first time the forerunner of the U.S. Army carried out an official genocidal campaign against Native peoples. It would be repeated many times over.

The Alibi

George Washington and other American leaders claimed they were acting to defend themselves. They claimed that the atrocities and the mass destruction they unleashed were in response to attacks on farming villages from some of the Iroquois tribes, in conjunction with British troops with whom the colonists were at war.

The Actual Motive

Even as the leaders of the former colonies that would become the United States were fighting for political independence from England, they were also fighting to open up westward expansion of the country into territories where Native Americans had been living for centuries. One area over which they sought to gain control was upstate and western New York, which was seen as a link to the Great Lakes region. Vanquishing and destroying the Iroquois who lived in this region was key to achieving their goal.

The United States claimed that its victory over the British meant a victory over Native Americans as well. The remnants of the peoples who had lived in this area of New York were officially dispossessed by the Treaty of Paris that affirmed the U.S. triumph over England in its war of independence. Then, in 1788, the Fort Stanwix Treaty ended any Native claims to the land. Huge tracts of land that the Iroquois had lived on and worked for hundreds of years were given to the soldiers who had burned and murdered their way across the state.

A history of upstate New York recorded: “In 1789, the Indian titles to most of the lands in the State of New York, having been extinguished, the Legislature provided for the survey of a certain portion of these lands, already set apart for the soldiers of the State, who had served in the war of the Revolution. This tract embracing 1,680,000 acres, and denominated the Military Tract ... containing each one hundred lots of six hundred acres. Each private soldier and non-commissioned officer had one lot assigned him. The officers received larger shares in proportion to their rank.”

The genocide and dispossession of the Iroquois in upstate New York provided a model for how the U.S. committed genocide against Native Americans and seized their land across the entire country as it expanded westward. Washington, a Virginia slaveowner who had also surveyed and purchased land occupied by Native Americans in what became the state of Ohio, himself bought 6,100 acres of fertile land near what is now the city of Utica, New York. White Americans flooded the area, and the fact that Native peoples had once been its occupants was recognized only in some of the place names such as Cayuga, Seneca, and Oneida.

Repeat Offenders

With the formation of the United States, genocidal atrocities against Native Americans became official political and military policy. The Trail of Tears... the “Cherokee Removal”... the Seminole Wars... the “Dakota War” in Minnesota... the depredations against the Apaches, Comanches, and other peoples of what is now the U.S. Southwest... The list of horrors is endless. Entire peoples, languages, and cultures have been obliterated by brute force. The theft of the lands those people occupied has been enshrined in U.S. law, over and over and over again. (Revolution will further expose this in the American Crime series.)

These crimes continue to this day—through the high incidence of murder and brutality by police against Native Americans, the continued degradation and ridicule inflicted on their cultures, the extreme poverty and desperation in the concentration camps (aka “reservations”) on which many are forced to live, and other measures.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/531/american-crime-case-number-44-the-trail-of-tears-1838-39-en.html

American Crime

Case #44: The Trail of Tears, 1838-39

February 19, 2018 | 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.

 

THE CRIME:

From 1838-1839, approximately 15,000 Cherokee and 2,000 Black slaves that they owned were forcibly removed from Cherokee lands in Georgia and force-marched by the military 800 miles to the new “Indian Territory” in an area that later became Oklahoma. On that march, it has been estimated that 2,500-4,000 people died.1 That seven-month march has become known as The Trail of Tears.

Trail of Tears

After almost 30 years of discussions of how to remove the Native Americans from the Southeastern U.S., President Andrew Jackson in 1829 called for an Indian Removal Act. It was passed in 1830, thus beginning the removal process.2

In 1833, a small group of Cherokees, who illegally claimed to be the leaders of the Cherokee Nation, signed a removal treaty with the United States. Cherokee Chief John Ross and 15,000 Cherokees signed a petition of protest. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to accept their demands and ratified the treaty in 1836, and gave the Cherokees two years to voluntarily migrate to the West.

In the fall of 1838, 7,000 troops were sent by the U.S. government to Georgia to forcibly remove the Cherokees. The Cherokees were put into stockades at bayonet point, and they were not allowed to take most of their belongings. After they were forced out, white people in the area looted their homes.

The brutal conditions of the march were described by John Ehle in Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation:

There was scarce room in the wagon for the weary and the ill, once the sickness fell. Walking day after day was torture for the elderly, and the babies were weakened by the trip too. The main enemy was not exertion, but disease, which chose the weaker Indians and blacks and humbled them. Dysentery, diarrhea, head and chest colds were common. It was rare for any travelers not to have intestinal cramps and other pains, and the diet provided ... was cheap and lacking in variety or nutrition....

Then too, there was the sun torturing the people by day. The cold of the night caused their teeth to chatter, the tongues to stutter.3

A white traveler from Maine described what they saw:

We found them in a forest camped for the night ... under a severe fall from rain accompanied by heavy wind. With their canvas for a shield from the inclemency of the weather, and the cold wet ground for a resting place, after the fatigue of the day, they spent the night ... many of the aged Indians were suffering extremely from fatigue of the journey, and the ill health consequent upon it.... Several were then quite ill, and an aged man we were informed was then in the last struggles of death.... We learned from the inhabitants on the road where the Indians passed, that they buried fourteen or fifteen at every stopping place.4

President Martin Van Buren summed up the final horrific removal of the Cherokees in an unbelievable message to Congress: “It affords me sincere pleasure to be able to apprise you of the entire removal of the Cherokee Nation of Indians to their new homes west of the Mississippi. The measures authorized by Congress with a view to the long-standing controversy with them have had the happiest effect, and they have emigrated without any apparent resistance.5

This brutal and forced removal of the Cherokees is just one part of what should be known about the Trail of Tears. The Trail of Tears is actually the removal of five “civilized” tribes from their native lands in Southeastern U.S. to the West: the Choctaws from Mississippi, the Seminoles from Florida, the Chickasaw from Tennessee, the Creek from Alabama, and the Cherokees from Georgia.

It was during the removal of the Choctaws from their native lands in the early 1830s that “one of the Choctaw Chiefs (thought to be either Thomas Harkins or Nitikechi) was quoted as saying that the removal to that point had been a ‘trail of tears and death.’ The ‘Trail of Tears’ quotation was picked up by the eastern press and widely quoted. It soon became a term analogous with the removal of any Indian tribe and was later burned into the American language by the brutal removal of the Cherokees in 1838.”6

It has been estimated that over 12,000 Choctaws either immigrated or were forcibly moved to the West, and 2,000-4,000 died along their Trail of Tears.

Four of the tribes ended up signing treaties that led to their removal. But the Seminoles refused to move and resisted, leading to the Second Seminole War, where 1,500 U.S. forces and 700 Seminoles were killed. During the Second Seminole war, runaway slaves fought beside the Seminoles, who had taken them in.7 After the war ended, 3,000 Seminoles were moved to the West.

A small band of 300 Creeks also refused to move and fought against the Alabama and Georgia militias in the Second Creek War of 1836. After the war, more Creeks were sent west.

Even the Cherokees did not go willingly; there were reports of hundreds of Cherokees escaping during the first stages of the march.8

After the removal process ended, approximately 9,000 Native Americans remained in their original homelands in the Southeast, with the largest grouping being 7,000 Choctaws.

In total, from 1830-1842, the U.S. removed approximately 60,000 Native Americans and 2,000 Black slaves9 from the Southeast. Between 8,000 to 16,000 are estimated to have died during the removal marches.10

Deaths resulted from multiple diseases—cholera, malaria, smallpox, pellagra, dysentery, diphtheria, typhoid, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.

THE CRIMINALS:

President Andrew Jackson aggressively supported and called for the removal of the Native Americans in the Southeast. He supported and worked to bring about the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Despite the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the territory and rights of the Cherokees (Cherokee Nation v. Georgia 1830-1831), Jackson refused to respect the court ruling as he supported the illegal and violent activities of the state vigilante groups in Georgia, who were forcing the Cherokees from their lands.

From 1814 to 1824, Jackson was instrumental in negotiating nine out of eleven treaties which forced the Southeastern tribes to give up their native lands in exchange for lands in the West.

By 1837, the Jackson administration had removed 46,000 Native American people from their land east of the Mississippi, and had secured treaties which led to the removal of a slightly larger number.

President Martin Van Buren followed Jackson. He oversaw the final stages of the removal process from 1837-1841, and he was in charge of the 1838 Cherokee removal. Van Buren, who had been Jackson’s vice president, continued Jackson’s removal policy throughout his presidency.

General Winfield Scott commanded the 7,000 troops that rounded up the Cherokees and force-marched them to the West.11

The State of Georgia legislature in 1828 passed a resolution requesting the governor to ask the president of the United States to remove all Indians from the state. The state “adopted legislation which extended state control over all Cherokee lands within the state. The new legislation declared all Cherokee laws to be null and void and prohibited Indians from testifying against non-Indians. As a result, groups of non-Indians invaded Cherokee country, taking Cherokee cattle and horses, assaulting those who resisted, and taking possession of Cherokee homes.”12

THE ALIBI:

Andrew Jackson put forward the racist view of Native Americans as children needing guidance. He professed that his removal policy was going to save them from the white Americans who were hostile towards them and wanted to seize their lands and property and commit further genocide against them. In a message to Congress in 1830, he called his removal policy “benevolent,” declaring:

It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community....

And is it supposed that the wandering savage has a stronger attachment to his home than the settled, civilized Christian? Is it more afflicting to him to leave the graves of his fathers than it is to our brothers and children? Rightly considered, the policy of the General Government toward the red man is not only liberal, but generous. He is unwilling to submit to the laws of the States and mingle with their population. To save him from this alternative, or perhaps utter annihilation, the General Government kindly offers him a new home, and proposes to pay the whole expense of his removal and settlement.13

THE REAL MOTIVE:

In the early 19th century, the U.S. was expanding deeper, further, and wider in the Southeastern part of the country. The seizure of land to raise cotton and expand slavery was critical for the growth of the economy of the South and for the whole United States. What stood in the way of this expansion were the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole nations and their native lands.

Further, gold was discovered in 1829 on Cherokee land in Georgia, causing a gold rush and a further need for those white people who were seeking riches and for the state of Georgia to get the Cherokees off the land.

The question of states rights was bound up in the removal of the Native Americans. The state of Georgia had formed militias and vigilantes to drive the Cherokees from their land. As a way to support Georgia’s rights to do this, Andrew Jackson proposed the Indian Removal Act. This allowed a compromise between those who supported federalism (support for the Supreme Court’s decision that restrained the state of Georgia from breaking federal treaties guaranteeing the Cherokees their land) and those who supported states rights and the Georgia laws to remove the Cherokees.14

All of these motives were bound up with enforcing and strengthening white supremacy by removing Native Americans. “The Jacksonian mainstream, so insistent on the equality of white men, took racism for granted.... Although informed by constitutional principles and genuine paternalist concern, the Jacksonian rationale for territorial expansion assumed that Indians ... were lesser peoples.”15

 

Selected Bibliography

Coates, Julia, Trail of Tears, Greenwood, 2014.

Ehle, John, Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation, Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1988.

Trail of Tears from Mississippi walked by our ancestors,” choctawschool.com.

Indian Removal,” Wikipedia

Indian Removal Act,” Wikipedia

Indian removal 1814 - 1858,” PBS


1. In Trail of Tears, Julia Coates writes:
“Popular belief and many historic texts have placed the number of Cherokee deaths on the Trail of Tears at 4,000. But as contemporary scholars and researchers have delved more deeply into the subject, the number ‘seems highly speculative.... Today, the best estimates are that somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 Cherokees died, either in the camps, on the march itself, or after arriving at the Indian Territory, but as a result of the conditions of the march. However, researchers also acknowledge that there are probably 1,000-1,500 people who simply could not be accounted for” when the march arrived at the Indian Territory.” [back]

2. “Indian Removal Act,” Wikipedia [back]

3. Trail of Tears: The Rise and Fall of the Cherokee Nation, by John Ehle, p 353 [back]

4. Ehle, pp 357-358 [back]

5. Ehle, p 392 [back]

6. See “Trail of Tears from Mississippi walked by our ancestors,” choctawschool.com. [back]

7. “Indian removal 1814-1858,” PBS [back]

8. Coates, p 118 [back]

9. Native Americans owned Black slaves. See “Pain of ‘Trail of Tears’ shared by Blacks as well as Native Americans” by Tiya Miles. [back]

10. “Indian Removal,” Wikipedia [back]

11. Ehle, p 325 [back]

12. “Georgia, the Cherokee, and the Execution of Corn Tassel,” nativeamericannetroots.net [back]

13. “Transcript of President Andrew Jackson’s Message to Congress ‘On Indian Removal’ (1830),” ourdocuments.gov [back]

14. Coates, p 182 [back]

15. “Jacksonian Democracy,” history.com [back]

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/519/american-crime-case-number-53-genocide-of-californias-native-americans-en.html

American Crime

American Crime Case #53: The Genocide of California's Native Americans, 1846–1873

November 27, 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.

 

 

The Crime: From 1846 to 1873, a mass genocide was carried out against California’s Native American population by the U.S. government and white settlers. In 1846, before the 1848 Gold Rush, 157,000 people were living in California, 150,000 of them Native Americans. It was the densest and most diverse Native American population in the U.S. By 1873, there were only 30,000 Native Americans left alive, and by 1880, only 16,277.1

This massive ethnic cleansing was the result of the genocidal murders of the native population at the hands of U.S. soldiers, volunteer state militiamen, and vigilantes. This  included large massacres that wiped out entire villages, group killings, individual killings, the starvation of thousands, and the death of thousands due to diseases while imprisoned in U.S. Army forts or on federal Indian reservations.

In An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, Benjamin Madley documents the killings of thousands of Native Americans from historical records.

Here are some of the largest massacres that were part of the campaign waged against California’s Native American population.

The 1846 Sacramento River Massacre

In 1846, California was formally under Mexico’s control, but the U.S. military and white American settlers had already begun to fight for control of the territory which would become a U.S. state in 1850.

On March 30, 1846, Army Captain John C. Frémont along with 60 heavily armed buckskin-clad white men, guide Kit Carson, several Delaware (Lenape) Indians, and some volunteers from a nearby trading post began advancing up the Sacramento River towards land occupied by the Wintu people in an area about 90 miles northwest of what was to become the City of Sacramento.

On April 5, this band of 76 men intent on killing Indians reached an area that would later become the City of Redding in the upper Sacramento Valley. It was an area of several hundred square miles that had a rich abundance of food that supported over 5,000 Wintu people. Despite having some contradictions with other tribes in the area, the Wintus were peace-loving and had developed mutual trading relations with the other tribes.

That day, the Wintus, including women and children who were largely unarmed, had gathered along the Sacramento River to catch and process salmon for food. From recorded estimates, Madley states that “as many as 1,000 or more Wintus were there that day.”

The river was swollen that day, so any attempt by the Wintus to get back across it would be too dangerous. Frémont’s forces surrounded them and then “launched a well-planned, preemptive assault of a kind that would later  become common in California. ... the or[d]er was given to ask  no quarter and to give none.” The range of the rifles was 200 yards, much further than an arrow could travel.

After firing upon and killing many Wintus, Frémont ordered the second phase of the attack. This, Madley stated, “would become the second phase of many California massacres. ,.. a well-executed military  assault” made by an advance guard that would fire round after round at closer range.

The third phase of the attack was close-quarter killings using sabers, pistols, and butcher knives. It was reported that “the bucks, squaws and papooses were shot down like sheep and those men never stopped as long as they could find one alive.”

The Wintus who survived the first three phases of the attack tried to retreat on foot into the river, the plains, and the foothills. Then Frémont executed the fourth phase. Kit Carson and his men, the Delaware Indians, on horseback, followed those who retreated into the plains and “literally tomahawked their way through the  flying Indians.” Those trying to cross the river were gunned down.

An eyewitness, William Isaac Tustin, reported on what he saw. According to Madley, “If Tustin was correct, Frémont’s force killed as many as 1,000 California Indian men, women, and children in what may have been one of the largest but least-known massacres in U.S. history.” It was reported that not one of Frémont’s men had been killed, wounded, or even injured during the massacre.2

The Bloody Island Massacre, May 1-15, 1850

Charles Stone and Andrew Kelsey were two of the first white settlers in the Clear Lake area of Northern California, some 100 miles north of San Francisco. They became landowners with land transferred to the settlers from the local Native American tribes. As African-American slave prices rose, these settlers in California were able to buy low-cost Indians as forced “apprentices” (basically slaves) to work on their ranches.

Stone and Kelsey were known to torture and kill many of their Native American slaves. They routinely raped the Native American women and girls. It was reported that “they murdered the Indians without limits and mercy.”3

After a horse and an ox went missing from Andrew Kelsey’s ranch, two Native Americans were blamed for it. They knew that Stone and Kelsey would take revenge for this. At first they were going to pay Stone and Kelsey, but then decided that the best thing to do was to kill them. Madley wrote that these two Indians “could not envision the scope of retaliatory mass murder that killing Stone and Kelsey would provoke. In just five months, between December 1849 and May 1850, vigilantes and US Army soldiers would kill as many as 1,000 Indians, or more, across four Northern California Counties.”

The first wave of murders started on Christmas Day 1849 when First Lieutenant John W. Davidson led the U.S. 1st Dragoons, an infantry unit to fight the Indians, into battle. The ranks of 1st Dragoons had included people like Nathan Boone (Daniel Boone’s son) and Jefferson Davis, later the president of the Confederacy. They rode into a group of Indians firing on them, killing many and wounding others. [The 1st Dragoons, or the 1st Regiment of the Dragoons, was formed as a cavalry unit in the western United States. Besides fighting the Indians, they played a big part in the battles during the Mexican-American War. They were not specifically formed  to fight the native population.]

Davidson saw another group of Indians on an island in Clear Lake. He wanted to attack but his troops were tired, so he retreated and planned for an attack later in the spring.

The locals grew restless at the inaction of the U.S. military, so they organized vigilante actions. These became the second wave of mass murders, from February to March 1850. These vigilantes indiscriminately attacked and killed Native Americans. In one report, “a party of Americans came over from Sonoma to avenge upon the Indians in general the murder of Kelsy.... This party were on their way to Soscal to attack the Indians there, but were turned back by another party of white men at Napa, who prevented them from crossing the ferry. They then returned to Calistoga, and murdered in cold blood eleven innocent Indians, young and old, as they came out of their ‘sweat house,’ and then burned their ‘wickeyups,’ [huts often used for ceremonial purposes] together with their bodies.”

The white men who stopped the vigilantes were part of a group of ranchers “motivated by moral conviction and economic interests [to come] to the aid of  Indians  under attack.... The [Native Americans] ...were also human beings, and some non-Indians considered the vigilante actions 'cruel.' “  Their actions resulted in the arrests of some of the vigilantes, who were not convicted, but this halted much of the vigilante action.

So, a third wave of mass murders, the Davidson plan, was given the go-ahead. Led by expedition commander and Brevet Captain Nathaniel Lyon, Company C of the 1st Dragoons along with a detachment of the 3rd Artillery and detachments of the Army’s 2nd Infantry set out for Clear Lake “with the orders to proceed against the Clear Lake Indians and exterminate if possible the [Pomo] tribe.”

After a seven-day march, they reached Clear Lake on May 11. On May 15 they trapped the Pomo people on the island in Clear Lake. Lyon ordered his men to kill their two Indian guides—one was shot, the other was hanged.

The original order given to Lyons was not to negotiate. The Pomos met the soldiers, peacefully, as they thought they would be able to negotiate. But once they saw this was not possible, a few Indian men attempted to thwart Lyon’s forces from getting on the Island. The troops then attacked and slaughtered the Pomos.

In an article 13 days later in the Daily Alta California, an army captain described the attack:

“They ... poured in a destructive fire indiscriminately upon men, women, and children. ‘They fell,’ says our informant, ‘as grass before the sweep of the scythe.’ Little or no resistance was encountered, and the work of butchery was of short duration. The shrieks of the slaughtered victims died away, the roar of muskets. .. ceased; and stretched lifeless upon the sod of their native valley were the bleeding bodies of these Indians—[n]or sex, nor age was spared; it was the order of extermination fearfully obeyed.”4

The army disputed this report and tried to cover up the massacre. But William Rhalganal Benson, a Pomo, exposed the attempted cover-up, stating:

“Many women and children were killed on around this island. one old lady a (Indian) told about what she saw while hiding under a bank, in under a overhanging tuley [bulrushes]. she said she saw two white man coming with their guns up in the air and on their guns hung a little girl. They brought it to the creek and threw it in the water ...  a little ways from she, said layed a woman shot through the shoulder. she held her little baby in her arms. two white men came running torge the woman and baby, they stabed the women and the baby and, and threw both of them over the bank in to the water. she said she heard the woman say, O my baby; she said when they [the survivors] gathered the dead, they found all the little ones were killed by being stabbed, and many of the women were also killed [by] stabbing....They called it the siland creek. (Ba-Don-Bi-Da-Meh).”5

At Clear Lake in July 1850, Major Edwin Allen Sherman said, “There were not less than  four hundred warriors killed and drowned at Clear Lake and as many more squaws and children who plunged into the lake and drowned... So in all, about eight hundred Indians found a watery grave in Clear Lake.”

“If Sherman’s estimate is correct,” states Madley, “the May 15, 1850, attack may rank among the most lethal of all Native American massacres in the history of the United States and its colonial antecedents. According to Sherman’s figures, it would have exceeded the 260-300 Hunkpapas and Miniconjous murdered at Wounded Knee in 1890, surpassed the 400-700 Pequots massacred at Mystic, Connecticut, in 1637, and rivaled the 600-800 Puebloan people killed at Acoma, New Mexico, 1599.”6

1853 Yontocket Massacre

In the spring, 1853, several Tolowa Indians were killed by vigilantes at Battery Point in far northern California (in what is today Crescent City). The vigilantes went after the Indians after one of them was seen carrying a pistol.

In the late fall of that year, at Yontocket on the California coast near today’s border with Oregon, the Tolowa people rendezvoused with the Yuroks and several other tribes from southern Oregon. The tribes came as a spiritual pilgrimage to pray on the sacred ground of Yontocket, which the tribes thought to be the center of their universe.

A large group of white vigilantes led by J.M. Peters organized to go after the Tolowa because they believed that the conclave at Yontocket included some of the survivors from the Battery Point massacre.

In the early morning, Peters and his vigilantes surrounded the village where the Tolowas were sleeping and opened fire on their tents. As the Tolowas attempted to escape, they were gunned down from all sides of the encampment. The vigilantes burned Yontocket to the ground, and Peters later announced that “scarcely an Indian was left alive.” Peters called his attack “a saturnalia of blood.”

At that time, it was not reported how many had died.

In 1963, an 87-year-old Tolowa, Eddie Richards, recounted the stories told to him about the massacre by his relatives and an eyewitness. They said that “hundreds and hundreds” of Indians were massacred at Yontocket:

“The white people got all around them.... Every time someone go out, never come back in.... They set fire to the house, the Indians’ house. You could see them cutting heads off. They stick them things into them; pretty soon they pick them up and throw them right into the fire. Some of ‘em tried to get away, run down the slough. Soon as they get down there, if they don’t get ‘em right away, they get ‘em from the other side when they come up. Shoot ‘em right there waiting for them.”7

The survivor told Richards, “the water was just red with blood, with people floating around all over.”

Another old Tolowa said she had been told that “the white people were all around, they just watched. Then they set fire to the place. Women try to get away, he grab ‘em, throw ‘em in the fire. Take pot shots at ‘em when they try to run.”

Another person recounted that he had been told that the vigilantes “killed so many Indians they could not bury them all, so they took the bodies and tied rocks around their necks and took them in the slough....and buried them that way.”

A Tolowa historian, Loren Bommelyn, stated that “Over 450 of our people were murdered or lay dying on the ground. Then the whitemen built a huge fire and threw in our sacred ceremonial dresses, and regalia, and our feathers, and the flames grew higher...they threw in the babies. Many of them were still alive...(Then they) burn[ed] the village to the ground.”

Madley reports that:

“So many victims were incinerated, submerged, or floated away that the attackers could not obtain a complete body count. White sources estimated as many as 150 massacred that morning. Still, this may have been an underestimate. Tolowa sources—recorded first in oral histories and later written down in the twentieth century—insist that whites massacred as many as 600 people at Yontocket. Even if we halve the latter estimate, Yontocket may rank among the most lethal of all massacres in US history. Yet, it remains unknown except to a few scholars, locals, and of course, the Tolowa.”8

The mass murder of Native Americans continued into the late-1870s. All told some 130,000 Native American lives were snuffed out—80 percent of the Native population in 1846—through massacres, murders, starvation, and disease carried out by the American military and American settlers.

The Criminals

Genocide of the California Native Americans could not have been carried out over this 30-some year period without many criminals taking part, including the government, the army, the mass media, and groups of individuals (vigilantes and the militia). Key criminals include:

U.S. President James K. Polk and U.S. Army Captain John C. Frémont. Frémont was sent to California in 1846 by Polk, who had designs on taking California away from Mexico. Frémont’s role was to organize and protect the American settlers in California from the Mexicans and Indians. When Frémont and his troops became a formidable threat to the Mexican government then ruling California, the Mexican government ordered him out of California. On his way north towards Oregon, Frémont and his troops committed the 1846 Sacramento River massacre.

The California State Legislature. The California State Legislature passed the 1850 Act for the Government and Protection of Indians. Between 1850 and 1863, this law facilitated removing California Indians from their traditional lands and separating at least a generation of children and adults from their families, languages, and cultures. The Act made Indians charged with crimes guilty until proven innocent. It established a system of California Indian servitude, in which Indian children could be held and forced to work without pay and any jailed Indian could be purchased for their labor. It also legalized corporal punishment of Indians.

The California state government spent over $1 million to fund the California state militias that went on Indian killing expeditions throughout the state. It was reported that these militias killed about 2,000 California Native Americans between 1850 and 1861.

U.S. government. As California’s “Indian War Debt” mounted, it meant that the state might have to halt the militia Indian killing expeditions. So, under President Franklin Pierce, the U.S. government stepped in to reimburse California for its “Indian War Debt” by passing legislation in 1856 and 1857. About this, Madley wrote, “This enormous cash transfer provided crucial funding for California’s killing machine and made the genocide an increasingly state and federal project.”9

California Governor Peter H. Burnett. In 1851, Burnett used a racist argument to justify the genocide of California Native Americans. He called for a war of extermination and said that it “will continue to be waged between the  races, until the Indian race becomes extinct...The inevitable destiny of the race is beyond the power  or wisdom of man to avert.”

Senator John B. Weller, who was later to become California’s second governor, told his fellow U.S. senators that California Indians “will be exterminated before the onward march of the white man....humanity may forbid, but the interest of the white man demands their extinction.”

The California press played a huge role in whipping up a racist fervor against the Indians and promoting genocide. After the gold rush started in California, the press began to ramp up its attack on the Indian population, which it viewed as a problem. In 1848, The California Star stated that the Indians would become thieves, and that “a continual war will be necessarily waged, for depredations committed, till all are exterminated.” A month later a columnist for the Star wrote that the Indians “are a burden and pest to the country, and gladly would I behold the exit of every one of these miserable creatures from our midst.”10

By the end of the 1850s the press became the main advocates for exterminating the Indians. The Red Bluff  Independent wrote, “It is becoming evident that extermination of the red devils will have to be resorted to before the people in proximity to the rancherias will be safe, or mountain roads traveled with any degree of safety except by parties of well-armed men.” In 1865, the  Courant wrote, “It is a mercy to the red devils to exterminate them, and a saving of many white lives...there is only one kind of treaty that is truly effective—cold lead.” And from the Shasta Courier, “Extermination is the only sure protection...and the sooner the remedy is applied the better.”11

The Alibi

The U.S. government, military and white settlers claimed they were only protecting themselves from Indians who were out to kill them. U.S. Army units would claim that they ran into a war party, so they had to defend themselves, despite the fact that women and children, who were a part of these groups of Indians being killed and massacred, would never have been on a war party.

The just resistance of California’s indigenous inhabitants to the genocidal attacks on them became a further justification to kill and murder more of them. A program of mass fear of the Indians was unleashed throughout California. Native American resistance to being exterminated was labeled aggression and proof that native tribes were at “war” with the white population.

Even when an Indian did kill a non-Indian, it became a justification for wiping out all Indians in the area. Madley reported that so-called punitive expeditions against Indians “chose not to differentiate between the guilty and the innocent.” This led to “the mass murder of any California Indians in the vicinity, regardless of their age, gender, identity, location, or tribal affiliation.” The need for collective punishment was used to justify the indiscriminate killing of Indian men, women, children, and elders, and theft or destruction of their property.

Running through all this was white supremacy and “Manifest Destiny”: the notion that the white “race” was inherently superior to other peoples, who were less than human, and that the God-given destiny of white people in America was to conquer and rule the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from “sea to shining sea.”

The Real Motive

There’s a popular conception that California (known at that time as Alta California) was stolen from Mexico. While this is true, the fact is that by the time of the gold rush, Mexico had lost control of California. President Polk coveted California and feared that another country might colonize it. At the end of the Mexican-American War in 1849, the U.S. forced Mexico to sign the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which gave the U.S. control of the Southwest, including California.

Prior to the 1848 Gold Rush, the population of California was 157,000—150,000 Native Americans, 6,500 of Spanish and Mexican descent, and about 800 non-native Americans. Once gold was found, it was estimated that over 300,000 people immigrated to California by 1850, the year California became a state.

California’s 150,000 Native Americans practiced a way of life which often involved collective, not private ownership of land and resources, and required large expanses of land for agriculture, hunting and gathering. And from the beginning, California’s indigenous peoples justly resisted the theft of their land and the destruction of their societies. This stood as an obstacle to the white settlers’ drive to colonize and dominate all of California: to control and exploit its land and resources and expand the capitalist forms of exploitation they brought with them.

The only solution for the on-rushing hoards of white gold seekers (called 49ers) and colonizers was to get rid of the Native Americans and steal their land.

This genocide was also driven by the fact that half the population of California was non-white. Such racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity was not in accord with what was required by the U.S. to cohere the country and its new territory around white supremacy. A white, Protestant, English-speaking California was what the U.S. required.

Non-white immigrants were physically attacked and many killed by the white 49ers. The government imposed the Foreign Miners Tax Act that made it more difficult for those who were not white to survive. Chinese immigrants faced racist mobs. Despite the fact that California was a free state, the imposition of the Fugitive Slave Bill of 1852 allowed for Southern slave masters who immigrated to California to continue to have slaves.

But there was no one population other than the Native Americans in California that firmly stood in the way of a country based on Manifest Destiny and white supremacy. California was stolen from Mexico and its indigenous Native Americans—through a ruthless genocide against tens of thousands that nearly wiped out the state’s indigenous population.


1.  An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe by Benjamin Madley, 2016, Yale University Press, New Haven & London,  p. 3. [back]

2. Ibid., p. 48 [back]

3. Ibid., p. 112 [back]

4. Ibid., p. 130 [back]

5. Ibid., p. 130 [back]

6. Ibid., p. 132 [back]

7. Ibid., p. 223 [back]

8. Ibid., p. 224 [back]

9. Ibid., p. 250 [back]

10. Ibid., p. 65 [back]

11. Ibid., p. 330 [back]

Bibliography

 

 


 

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American Crime

Case #37: December 26, 1862: The Lynching of 38 Dakota Men―The Largest Mass Execution in U.S. History

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

On December 26, 1862, in the midst of the U.S. Civil War (April 1861-May 1865), and in the same week that the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, President Abraham Lincoln ordered 38 Dakota Santee Sioux men sent to the gallows in Mankato, Minnesota. They were hooded and hanged simultaneously from a single scaffold, surrounded by 1,500 Union troops and a howling lynch mob of 4,000 white settlers. It was the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

The 38 had been taken prisoner after the Dakota people rose up against the U.S. government on August 17 in the Dakota Uprising of 1862. The Dakota people had been under relentless assault for 10 years—with deceitful and broken treaties, their reservations encroached on, their annuities unpaid, promised goods late or never delivered, price gouging and other abuses by the U.S. government and their agents. In 1858, the government took half the Dakota people’s reservation and opened it to white settlement. During the 1850s, over 160,000 settlers flooded the area, seizing and clearing the Native Dakota people’s lands to the point where their hunting and fishing virtually ended and starvation loomed.

On August 15, when half-starved Dakota people asked for food from a well-stocked warehouse, the government food trader Andrew Jackson Myrick replied: “[I]f they are hungry, let them eat grass or their own dung,” which was cited by Dakota Chief Little Crow as the last straw in provoking the Dakota to revolt. Myrick was one of the first killed and his body found with his mouth stuffed with grass. The uprising was sparked off when four starving Dakota youths, on an egg-stealing foray, impulsively killed five white settlers.

The 38 condemned men were told of their impending deaths on December 22 while shackled in pairs and bolted to the prison floor. They were among the 303 condemned to die in a mass trial of 392 Dakota men. Each defendant had five to 10 minutes in which to defend himself before a military court. On one day alone, 40 were tried, charged, and convicted for “murder and outrages.” A law professor later noted: “Most of them did not speak English. They did not even know they were being tried for crimes. Most also did not have counsel defending them.” Little evidence of their “crimes” existed. So the U.S. government used some defendants, who faced charges and execution themselves, to testify against other Dakotas in multiple trials. One such defendant-turned-witness provided evidence in 55 cases.

After the mass lynching, the bodies of the Dakotas were thrown into a mass grave. It was dug up that night, and the bodies were distributed to doctors for use as medical cadavers. Later, small boxes supposedly containing skin removed from the bodies were sold in Mankato.

There was never an official count of the settlers killed in this war. Accounts of the death toll in the 37 days of fighting vary widely, from 77 U.S. government troops, 29 citizen-soldiers or militia, and 300-800 settlers as well as some 29-150 Dakota warriors. After the uprising, more than 1,600 Dakota men, women, and children were exiled to a concentration camp on Pike Island, Minnesota, where living conditions were so bad that infections killed more than 300. In April 1863, the U.S. Congress abolished the Dakota reservation, declared all prior treaties with the Dakota null and void, and expelled the Dakota people completely from Minnesota. To this end, a $25 bounty was put on any Dakota found free within the boundaries of the state. U.S. General Oscar Malmros offered a bounty of $200 to independent scouts for each Dakota Sioux scalp.

Little Crow escaped capture until July 3, 1863, when he and his son left their hidden camping spot to pick raspberries. Two settlers shot and killed Little Crow. His body was dragged down the main street of Hutchinson and firecrackers were put in his nose and ears. His scalp, skull, and remains were put on display in St. Paul, Minnesota, until 1971. Two other Dakota leaders, Little Six and Medicine Bottle, had escaped to Canada but were captured, drugged, returned to the U.S., and hung in 1865.

THE CRIMINALS

President Abraham Lincoln (March 1861-April 1865). Lincoln oversaw the breaking of treaties and the robbing of the Dakotas and other Native peoples of their land, livelihood, and often their lives. And he sent troops to crush their resistance. Lincoln made clear his white supremacist views. Speaking in February 1860, he asked “[W]hy did Yankees almost instantly discover gold in California, which had been trodden upon and overlooked by Indians and Mexican greasers for centuries?” He also argued that phonetic writing was what separated whites from “savages,” and that this ability had given rise to the fruits of civilization—government, culture, etc. In 1863, Lincoln said: “Although we are now engaged in a great war between one another, we are not, as a race, so much disposed to fight and kill one another as our red brethren.”

U.S. troops and their commanders who were sent to put down the Dakota uprising. Companies led by Capt. Joseph F. Bean, Capt. David D. Lloyd, Capt. Calvin Potter, Capt. Mark Hendrick, and elements of the 5th and 6th Iowa Militia. Col. Henry Sibley played a pivotal role in the 1851 treaty negotiations that cheated the Dakota of their land, and then led U.S. troops to suppress their 1862 uprising. Sibley also oversaw the military tribunal that convicted the 38 as well as the punitive expeditions against the Dakota of 1863. Gen. John Pope was sent by Lincoln to command the 3rd, 4th, 9th, and 10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiments and openly stated: “It is my purpose to utterly exterminate the Sioux. They are to be treated as maniacs and wild beasts.”

Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey exiled the entire Dakota Santee people, offered bounty for their scalps, and said: “The Sioux Indian must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the State. The public safety imperatively requires it. Justice calls for it. The blood of the murdered cries to heaven for vengeance.”

Thomas Galbraith, Andrew Myrick, and other traders who withheld cash payments, food, and other trade goods owed to the Dakota people causing their increasing hunger, hardship, and anger.

The New York Times sensationalized stories of how settlers died and wrote racist depictions of the Dakota prisoners, fueling mass hysteria and bloodlust: “It was a sad, a sickening sight, to see that group of miserable dirty savages, chained to the floor, and awaiting with apparent unconcern for the terrible fate....”

THE ALIBI

The Dakota men were executed for the killing of innocent white settlers, and Lincoln was being lenient by hanging only 38 of the 303 who were tried and condemned to death by the military court.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

The Dakota Uprising was a just uprising and one of many by various Native tribes throughout the U.S. against the genocide being committed against them by the U.S. government and white settlers. During the 1860s, many Native peoples like the Dakotas were compelled to rise up by years of exploitation and oppression, including imminent starvation.

Lincoln explained to the U.S. Senate: “Anxious to not act with so much clemency as to encourage another outbreak on one hand, nor with so much severity as to be real cruelty on the other, I ordered a careful examination of the records of the trials to be made, in view of first ordering the execution of such as had been proved guilty of violating females.” Given only two men were found guilty of rape, he expanded the criteria to include those who had taken part in “massacres” of civilians rather than just “battles.” In contrast, Lincoln did not indict or execute any Confederate soldiers for such crimes.

It also may have been important to make an example of the Dakota people and their uprising because, despite having few fighting forces, little equipment like canons, and being outmatched in guns and ammunition, they fought very effectively against the U.S. military. For example, U.S. forces suffered a major defeat at the Battle of Birch Coulee on September 2, 1862, where a three-hour firefight ended with 13 U.S. soldiers dead and 47 wounded, while only two Dakota warriors were killed.

During this period, the Union, representing the interests of the capitalist class centered in the North, was waging the Civil War. At the same time, railroads were being built across the country and settlements vastly expanded. The robbery of the huge land mass from coast to coast occupied by the many Native tribes, the defeat of any resistance to this historic colonial expansion, and the outright genocide carried out against Native peoples were foundational to the growth and development of U.S. capitalism and the later rise of the U.S. empire.

 

Sources

BAsics from the Talks and Writings of Bob Avakian, 1:2, RCP Publications, 2011

Bury My Heat at Wounded Knee, An Indian History of the American West by Dee Brown, Chapter 3, “Little Crow’s War,” Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970

Dakota War of 1862, Wikipedia

Sham Trials: The Traumatic Truth of What Happened to the Dakota 38,” by Konnie LeMay, Indian Country Today, December 26, 2015

The Dakota Conflict, documentary aired January 27, 1993, produced by KTCA, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lynching of 38 Dakota (Santee Sioux) men, December 26, 1862.

Excerpt on Native Americans, from the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal)


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

C. Native Americans.

1. The conquest, domination, plunder and life-stealing exploitation carried out by European colonialism in the Americas–including by the European settlers who founded the United States of America and expanded its reach on the North American continent through force and violence, as well as deception and other means–had a massive genocidal impact, decimating and devastating the populations of the first inhabitants of the Americas. As the boundaries of the USA were continuously expanded through conquest–and huge numbers of Native Americans were killed or died off due to this armed expansionism and the destruction of their way of life, the spread of diseases common among Europeans for which the Native Americans had no immunity, and other factors–most of the Native Americans who survived were forced onto reservations that were encircled and controlled by the forces of the imperialist state.

2. The defeat of this imperialist state has opened the way to overcoming the effects and legacy of this terrible history. As one key expression of the importance it attaches to this, the New Socialist Republic in North America shall ensure that the right of autonomy of Native American peoples within this Republic is upheld; and, beyond that, wherever autonomous regions of Native Americans may be established, in the general vicinity of the historical homelands of the various native peoples, the central government will also act to ensure that these autonomous regions not only have the necessary territories but also the resources that will enable a real flourishing of these peoples, within the overall framework of the New Socialist Republic in North America. The central government of the New Socialist Republic in North America will provide special assistance and support to any Native American autonomous regions, on the basis of the principles and objectives set forth in this Constitution.

3. This special assistance and support shall be especially important with regard to Native American autonomous regions, but also with regard to concentrations of Native Americans in urban areas and other parts of this Republic–where autonomous Native American areas may also be set up–and with regard to the Native American population as a whole.

Such special assistance and support will also be of great importance, and shall be extended, to all the formerly oppressed peoples, and any autonomous regions and areas of these peoples, within the New Socialist Republic in North America.

Check out the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) and order it online.

Basics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

If you can conceive of a world without America—without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world—then you’ve already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression—and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it—a world without division into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, outmoded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything less?

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:31

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/515/american-crime-56-the-1864-sand-creek-massacre-en.html

American Crime

Case #56: The 1864 Sand Creek Massacre

October 30, 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.

 

 

Site of the Sand Creek Massacre

The site of the Sand Creek Massacre. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

THE CRIME: They came at dawn, November 29, 1864, 700 heavily armed soldiers of the 3rd Colorado Cavalry, led by Colonel John Chivington. They rode rapidly toward their target, a Cheyenne village near Sand Creek, where the people were caught by surprise because months earlier, representatives of the U.S. government had met with their chief, encouraged him to settle near the creek, and had promised him and his people peace and safety. As the soldiers approached, the chief, Black Kettle, raced to raise the American flag over his lodge in a show of solidarity; others raised white flags of surrender. It didn’t matter.

The soldiers opened fire with carbines and cannons, killing at least 130, almost two-thirds women, children, and the elderly. Most of the young men were out hunting when the attack occurred; otherwise, the death toll would have been considerably higher. Before leaving, the soldiers burned the village and mutilated the dead.

Captain Silas Soule, a passionate anti-slavery abolitionist, was appalled by the attack, which he saw as a betrayal of the agreement between the U.S. government, Colorado authorities, and Black Kettle. Soule refused to fire a shot or order his troops into action, instead bearing searing witness to the massacre. “Hundreds of women and children were coming toward us, and getting on their knees for mercy,” Soule wrote, only to be shot and “have their brains beat out by men professing to be civilized.” Soule estimated that 200 were killed, all but 60 of them women and children. He also described how the soldiers not only scalped the dead but cut off the “Ears and Privates” of some.

Another appalled witness said: “I saw bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw before; the women cut all to pieces ... with knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors...”

Colonel Chivington and his troops dressed their weapons, hats, and gear with scalps and other body parts, including the breasts they had sliced off and the vaginas they had cut out. They also publicly displayed these “battle trophies” in Denver’s public theater during intermissions, as well as at area saloons.

THE CRIMINALS:

The U.S. Government: The Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples had been guaranteed ownership of a large territory in eastern Colorado by the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. But in 1858 waves of white immigrants flooded the territory in search of recently discovered gold. By 1861, tensions between the gold seekers, many of whom decided to settle in the territory, and the Native Americans who had been promised the land, had heightened, sometimes breaking out into violent conflict. The U.S. government, in violation of the treaty, supported the white settlers and moved to take the land away from the Native Americans. In February 1861, Cheyenne and Arapaho leaders, including Black Kettle, were forced to sign a new treaty, giving up most of their land in exchange for a 600-square-mile reservation and annuity payments, although many among the Cheyenne refused to accept this new treaty, which they saw as a sellout.

Colorado Governor John Evans: In 1864, Evans, who had been appointed governor of the Colorado territory by President Abraham Lincoln, promised to provide sanctuary to “friendly Indians.” At the same time, he issued a proclamation authorizing “all citizens of Colorado ... to go in pursuit of all hostile Indians [and] kill and destroy all enemies of the country,” a position supported by Lincoln himself. So in April 1864, with U.S. government backing, Colorado soldiers began attacking and destroying “hostile” Cheyenne camps, based on Evans’ orders. At the same time, Evans attempted to isolate the militants by inviting “friendly Indians” to camp near military forts with the promise that they would not be attacked. Black Kettle, still hoping for peace, agreed to move his people close to Fort Lyon, near Sand Creek. In reality, Evans made no distinction between Native Americans like Black Kettle who were willing to compromise and those who continued to fight. So after Chivington’s massacre at Sand Creek, Evans decorated him and his men for their “valor in subduing the savages.”

U.S. Army Colonel John Chivington: A former Methodist minister and close friend of Evans, Chivington led the massacre at Sand Creek. For him, as for Evans, there was really no distinction between peaceful and militant bands—all needed to be “taught a lesson.” As Chivington said:

“Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! ... I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God’s heaven to kill Indians. ... Kill and scalp all, big and little: nits make lice.”

The U.S. Congress and Military: When word of the Sand Creek Massacre reached Washington in early 1865, and primarily because of a huge public outcry, Congress felt compelled to investigate, and after hearing eyewitness testimony from Captain Soule and others, concluded that Chivington—who insisted that he had battled fierce warriors rather than slaughtering helpless women, children, and elders—had “deliberately planned and executed a foul and dastardly massacre,” and had “surprised and murdered in cold blood,” Native Americans who “had every reason to believe they were under protection of the U.S. authorities.”

However, Congress took no measures against Chivington, and the condemnation itself was highly unusual, given that the U.S. government and military had broken countless treaties with Native peoples, such as the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie, and carried out one genocidal assault after another aimed at exterminating all Native American resistance.

The U.S. military also investigated Chivington and decided there was no basis for court-martial proceedings against him because, by then, Chivington had resigned from the military. He was not jailed or punished in any way, except to lose his once-promising political career.

John Evans, like Chivington, was censured by Congress but also received no punishment, other than being forced to resign as governor of the Colorado territory, after which he forged a lucrative career building and operating Colorado railroads. Today, he is the namesake of Evanston, Wyoming; Evans, Colorado; and Evanston, Illinois, as one of the founders there of Northwestern University, where the highest honor bestowed on faculty members today is the John Evans professorship.

THE ALIBI:

Evans, Chivington, and others claimed that Chief Black Kettle and his followers were straying from the agreement to settle and hunt close to Fort Lyon and Sand Creek. They also claimed it had become nearly impossible to distinguish between peaceful and hostile Native Americans, with settlers complaining of increasing attacks on their land and livestock, compelling the authorities and military to broaden and intensify their attacks.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE:

It was the U.S. government and white settlers who repeatedly violated agreements and treaties leading up to the massacre of 1864, in order to seize and exploit lands promised to the Cheyenne and Arapaho peoples.

The 1858 discovery of gold in Colorado was the immediate trigger for the events and betrayals leading to the massacre, but on a deeper level this was a grotesque expression of capitalism’s compulsion to expand, and the role the conquest of the West (as well as parts of Mexico in the war of 1846) played in forging and maintaining the white supremacist glue holding U.S. society together.

(In Colorado, and much more sharply in some other states, in the several decades leading up to the 1861-65 Civil War, the expansion of white settlements and the genocide of Native peoples also reflected the underlying conflict between the entrenched slave-owning class in the South and the new and growing capitalist class in the North. The question for both was: Which of these two would prevail, and for both, the key lay in being able to expand to the West. By 1864, the pro-Union capitalist forces were dominant in states like Colorado.)

This murderous expansion and conquest was justified by the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny,” a phrase coined in 1845 to express the notion that the U.S. (i.e., white Christians) had the God-given right to rule the entire continent “from sea to shining sea”—from the East Coast to the Pacific Ocean—and it would be sinful in God’s eyes if they didn’t exercise that “right.”

 

Sources:

Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek, Harvard University Press, 2013

What Is the American Way of War: The Obscene Acts of Unjust War,” revcom.us, January 29, 2012

November 29, 1864: Sand Creek massacre,” history.com

Sand Creek massacre,” wikipedia.com

The Horrific Sand Creek Massacre Will Be Forgotten No More,”smithsonian.com

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/466/american-crime-case-72-wounded-knee-massacre-en.html

American Crime

Case #72: Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890

November 21, 2016 | 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 will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

Victims of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, where the U.S. Seventh Cavalry killed as many as 300 Lakota Indians, including children.

Victims of the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee, where the U.S. Seventh Cavalry killed as many as 300 Lakota Indians, including children. Photo: Library of Congress

Spotted Elk
Spotted Elk lying dead at Wounded Knee

Ghost Dance
Depiction of a Ghost Dance.

Civilian burial party at Wounded Knee
The dead being collected after Wounded Knee massacre

The Crime:

On December 29, 1890, U.S. government soldiers massacred nearly 300 of the 350 Lakota men, women, and children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The massacre took place near Wounded Knee Creek. Some of the women murdered were already widows whose husbands had previously been killed by U.S. troops. The Lakota Chief Spotted Elk (Big Foot), who was dying of pneumonia, was among those massacred.

The Lakota had been chased down by a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry under the command of Major Samuel Whiteside. They were later joined by additional troops of the 7th Cavalry under Colonel James W. Forsyth. The U.S. troops, now numbering 500, surrounded the camp and positioned four Hotchkiss guns nearby so no one could escape. (Hotchkiss guns were lethal, firing shells that exploded on contact, showering the enemy with jagged shell fragments.) The Lakota feared that there would be revenge in the hearts of the 7th Cavalry. This was the unit that had been defeated at the Little Big Horn when under the command of General George Armstrong Custer.

On the morning of December 29, the Lakota men were separated from the women and children, and were ordered to disarm. Unsatisfied with the number of rifles that were turned in, Colonel Forsyth ordered that all lodges and men be searched. In the course of the search, a scuffle broke out between the soldiers and one of the Lakota, a deaf man named Black Coyote (Black Fox), who had spent a lot of money on his rifle. In the course of the struggle, a shot rang out. Immediately, the soldiers opened fire on the whole encampment.

A Lakota survivor, American Horse, described the massacre:

When the firing began, of course the people who were standing immediately around the young man who fired the first shot were killed right together, and then they [the U.S. Cavalry] turned their guns, Hotchkiss guns, etc., upon the women who were in the lodges standing there under a flag of truce. ...

There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce.... Right near the flag of truce a mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing, and that especially was a very sad sight. The women as they were fleeing with their babes were killed together, shot right through, and the women who were very heavy with child were also killed. ... [A]fter most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed [or] wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys who were not wounded came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there.

“The soldiers lost 25 dead and 39 wounded, most of them killed by their own bullets or shrapnel,” Dee Brown wrote in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. “A detail of soldiers went over the Wounded Knee battlefield, gathering up Indians still alive and loading them in wagons. As it was apparent by the end of the day that a blizzard was approaching, the dead Indians were left where they had fallen.”

After a few days, and a freezing blizzard, the dead became frozen in grotesque shapes. Then these Lakota were buried in mass graves. At least one was buried alive.

President Benjamin Harrison awarded 20 soldiers Medals of Honor, the U.S.’s highest military distinction, to the butchers of the 7th Cavalry. This was the most ever awarded for a single battle in American history, before or since. Despite protests and demands, those medals have never been rescinded.

The Criminals:

U.S. President Benjamin Harrison: In late November 1890, President Benjamin Harrison ordered federal troops into South Dakota in the largest military mobilization since the Civil War. Considering the Lakota as “naturally warlike and turbulent,” he “placed at the disposal of General Miles, commanding the Division of the Missouri, all such forces as were thought by him to be required.”

The War Department of the U.S.

General Nelson A. Miles: Miles played a leading role in nearly all of the U.S. Army’s campaigns against the American Indian tribes of the Great Plains. During 1874-1875, he led the attacks on the Kiowa, Comanche, and the Southern Cheyenne. During 1876-1877, he forced the Lakota and their allies onto reservations.

In 1890, Miles aimed to crush any further resistance by the Lakota on their reservations. Miles and others in the U.S. government worried that this resistance was taking the form of the “Ghost Dance,” a group spiritual dance taken up by many Lakota in hopes it would reunite them with the spirits of their dead; bring the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf; make the white colonists leave; and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Indian peoples throughout the region. While he did not directly order the massacre, Miles’ overall campaign to subdue the Lakota led to the slaughter at Wounded Knee.

Major Samuel Whiteside and Colonel James W. Forsyth: Carried out the bloodthirsty massacre at Wounded Knee.

       

The Alibi: The U.S. government had long justified its murderous plans to force Native Americans, including the Lakota, off their traditional lands and onto reservations by the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny.” This was the claim that God—or “Providence”—supported the territorial expansion of the United States. (This included the claim that white people and Western Christianity and civilization were inherently superior to the “heathen” Native Americans.)

In 1890, the public excuse given for the campaign against the Lakota was that the rise and spread of the Ghost Dance would lead to a violent outbreak by the Lakota. Journalists who accompanied the federal troops sent to South Dakota wrote inflammatory articles to spread fear among the whites who had settled on Lakota land, which led to hysteria by 1890.

The Actual Motive:

In reality, the Ghost Dance was a pacifist movement.

A former agent, Valentine McGillycuddy, ridiculed the panic that overcame the agencies, saying: “If the Seventh-Day Adventists prepare the ascension robes for the Second Coming of the Savior, the United States Army is not put in motion to prevent them. Why should not the Indians have the same privilege? If the troops remain, trouble is sure to come.”

But more to the point, the massacre at Wounded Knee was meant to be the final end to any kind of resistance by Native peoples—the last episode in the bloody history of the U.S government’s genocide of the Lakota. The U.S. government wanted to consolidate its rule over the original inhabitants of North America, further opening up the West to white settlers, and saw any kind of resistance among the Lakota as a threat to its ambitions.

In 1851, the U.S. government had promised the Lakota an enormous extent of land in the north-central U.S. in the Fort Laramie Treaty. The government broke that treaty, and signed a new one for a much smaller amount of land in 1868. But three years later it passed the Indian Appropriation Act, which effectively turned reservations into prisoner of war camps whose inhabitants had no rights and could not leave. When gold and other valuable resources were discovered in the Black Hills, the government divided up the land, between Native Americans who hated the concept of private ownership of land and white settlers to whom private property was everything. Native Americans were left with land nobody else wanted.

Sources

Heartless at Wounded Knee,” from A World to Win News Service, Revolution, April 18, 2013

Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970

Lakota Accounts of the Massacre at Wounded Knee, PBS Archives of the West

Shelley Fisher Fishkin, “Remembering the Wounded Knee Massacre,” Utne Reader, June 2016

WOUNDED KNEE MASSACRE,” Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, “Third Annual Message,” December 9, 1891

Jeffrey Ostler, “Conquest and the State: Why the United States Employed Massive Military Force to Suppress the Lakota Ghost Dance,” Pacific Historical Review, May 1996

Written Testimony of Mario Gonzalez from the September 25, 1990 Senate Hearing

Ghost Dance,” hanksville.org

Alysa Landry, “Benjamin Harrison: Busted Up Sioux Nation, No Remorse for Wounded Knee,” Indian Country Today Media Network, June 7, 2016

President Benjamin Harrison and Indian Policy,” Native American Netroots, March 18, 2014

James Mooney, The Ghost Dance Religion and Wounded Knee, Dover Publications, 1896

Ghost Dance,” New World Encyclopedia

Hari Jagannathan Balasubramanian, “America’s Westward Expansion, the Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee,” Thirty letters in my name, November 4, 2007

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/484/american-crime-case-64-the-us-conquest-of-hawaii-en.html

American Crime

Case #64: The U.S. Conquest of Hawai`i

March 27, 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 will focus on one of the 100 worst crimes committed by the U.S. rulers—out of countless bloody crimes they have carried out against people around the world, from the founding of the U.S. to the present day.

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

Marines marched from the USS Boston to I'olani Palace as part of taking over the Hawai'ian government.

 

The "Honolulu Rifles," a heavily armed militia of 1,500 largely white businessmen, who patrolled the streets to put down any Native Hawai'ian rebels.

THE CRIME:

The Overthrow: On January 17, 1893, 162 armed U.S. sailors and Marines marched from the USS Boston, harbored in Honolulu Harbor, to Iolani Palace, the center of Hawai’i’s government, and set up camp. This act of war against a nation struggling for independence from foreign domination put the U.S. firmly in control.

Lorrin Thurston, the grandson of an American missionary who had the support of Hawai`i’s white business class, had organized a coup d’etat. And the U.S. had agreed to provide military back up. Thurston’s core conspiracy group, which included Hawai`i’s powerful sugar barons, joined the “Honolulu Rifles” a heavily armed militia of 1,500 largely white businessmen, who patrolled the streets to put down any Native Hawaiians who might rebel.

Queen Lili`uokalani, the reigning monarch in Hawai`i at the time, was in the midst of a struggle for a new constitution aimed at reducing the control of the powerful white elite and establishing independence from foreign powers. She now faced the challenge of the U.S. military and a gang of businessmen armed with modern rifles, machine guns and cannons. The Hawaiian Nation had only a small volunteer army and a few hundred outdated muskets. Facing a bloodbath, Queen Lili`uokalani surrendered under protest.

U.S. Government Minister John L. Stevens, who had been in charge of the U.S. military action, proclaimed Hawai`i a U.S. Protectorate (a dependent territory). A temporary government, the “Committee for Safety,” was formed to protect the white elite and terrorize the Native Hawaiian population. One week after the overthrow a new “Reciprocity Treaty” was signed with the U.S.—that guaranteed trade protections for Hawaiian sugar and most notably included the cessation of Pearl Harbor (which had already been identified as a potential U.S. military base).

The overthrow was met by immediate resistance—within days the Hawaiian people began to form organized protest groups. In the face of mass resistance a new constitution was written and the Republic of Hawai`i was proclaimed on July 4, 1894. The Republic was ruled by a single party controlled by white businessmen and Sanford B. Dole was its self-appointed president.

Queen Lili'uokalani

In 1895, a rebellion led by Royalists with the goal of reinstating Queen Lili`uokalani failed in its attempt to overthrow the Republic. The Queen was falsely accused of collaborating and was sentenced to prison. While in prison, she signed an agreement to abdicate her throne in return for the release of her jailed supporters. She was then held under house arrest in the I`olani Palace until she was pardoned in 1896. Thereafter she regularly traveled to Washington D.C. to fight against annexation and for Hawaiian Independence.

Forced Annexation: The 1893 overthrow of Hawai`i coincided with the beginning of an increasingly open battle within the U.S. ruling class over U.S. expansion and the U.S.’s relationship with Japan and Spain. By 1895 a draft plan to annex Hawai`i to the U.S. was introduced in Congress and Hawaiians began a new round of protest against annexation.

Then on February 14, 1898 the U.S. Battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor, Cuba; the U.S. blamed Spain for this and launched the Spanish-American War, which included fighting in the Philippines (then a Spanish colony). President McKinley, seeking a staging ground to deploy troops and supplies to the Philippines and expand U.S. power in the Pacific, moved quickly on plans to annex Hawai`i. In a campaign of jingoism—extreme patriotism in the service of aggressive foreign policy—the slogan was put out, “Remember the Maine” and the annexation of Hawai’i was forced through on July 7, 1898 and the U.S. appointed the first U.S. Territorial Governor of Hawai`i.

The century following annexation was characterized by the systematic oppression of the Hawaiian people. Their lands were confiscated by both “legal” and illegal means and their ties to the land were severed. Hawaiian language newspapers (of which there were many), were shut down and the Hawaiian language was made illegal. Flying the Hawaiian flag was outlawed, and genuine forms of Hawaiian culture were suppressed or made illegal. The real history of resistance to the overthrow and annexation was re-written and the myth that the U.S. had been welcomed was promoted. Certain aspects of Hawaiian culture were combined with fabricated fantasies, marketed to tourists—further alienating Hawaiian people from their culture.

People meet to plan opposition to the annexation of Hawai`i to the U.S.

Corporate plantation agriculture had a devastating impact on the health and lives of native Hawaiians, driving them off the land, and wiping out subsistence agriculture. Throughout the 1800s, waves of immigrant workers were viciously exploited as indentured servants.

Throughout the century the U.S. military built dozens of bases and installations, including Pearl Harbor, which today is the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Entire islands and valleys were “leased” for as little as $1 a year and used for bombing and live fire practice. Harbors became so toxic that they could no longer provide fish; wetlands so polluted they could no longer sustain wildlife, and huge swaths of agricultural land were poisoned. U.S. nationalism and militarism, especially punctuated by the events of World War I and World War II, further undermined the identity of the Hawaiian people. In 1959 Hawai`i became the 50th state.

THE CRIMINALS:

U.S. Minister John L. Stevens: U.S. diplomat who led the invasion of the U.S. military during the overthrow, after having conspired with white businessmen in planning a coup d’etat against Queen Lili`uokalani. Benjamin Harrison was the U.S. President at the time.

Lorrin A. Thurston: Grandson of American missionaries, who organized the “Honolulu Rifles,” a white businessmen’s militia; architect behind the coup d’etat of Queen Lili`uokalani.

Sanford B. Dole: Descendent of American missionaries and vociferous advocate of American control and/or destruction of anything Hawaiian. Self-appointed president of the Republic of Hawai`i formed after the overthrow. Appointed by U.S. President McKinley to be the First Territorial Governor of the Territory of Hawai`i after annexation.

U.S. President William McKinley: Aggressive advocate of U.S. imperialist expansion who signed a Treaty of Annexation in 1887, initially rejected by Congress, but then in 1898, in the midst of war hysteria accompanying the Spanish-American war, pushed through.

THE ALIBI:

The purported alibi for the overthrow was to protect American citizens residing in Hawai`i.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE:

The 1893 overthrow was to protect the interests of Hawai`i sugar planters, who had invested huge amounts of money in fields and mills, and were now facing increasing competition from the sugar market in the U.S. and a rise of Hawaiian nationalism. The annexation of Hawai`i was to fulfill the need for a “rest and re-supply station” for U.S. troops deploying to the Philippines during the Spanish-American War.

By 1881 there were rumblings within the U.S. State Department that Hawai`i should become part of the “American system” and in 1891 the U.S. permanently stationed a warship in Hawai`i “to keep a United States vessel there from this time on to guard American interests in the Islands.” The overthrow and annexation of Hawai`i were part of U.S. imperialist expansion in the Pacific: the U.S. saw it crucial to the control of Hawai’i—which could be used as a military base in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. While the overthrow was set in motion by the contradiction between powerful white businessmen and the monarchy, the actual motive for the U.S. was imperialist expansion and the military control of the Pacific.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS:

Hiram Bingham, one of the first New England missionaries to Hawai`i, speaking about the Native Hawaiian people: “Can these be human beings! How dark and comfortless their state of mind and heart. How imminent the danger to the immortal soul, shrouded in this deep pagan gloom! Can such beings be civilized?”

Lorrin Thurston, Feb 3, 1893 [days after the overthrow]: “The trouble was, that the Queen did not wish to resign constitutionally, but instead sided with elements whose cry had for years been ‘Hawai`i for Hawaiians.’ The Americans and Europeans, who have by far the greatest interests there, are not willing to let the native spend the money which they have labored so hard to make.”

SOURCES:

Nation Within: The History of the American Occupation of Hawai`i , Revised Edition, Tom Coffman, 2009

Aloha Betrayed, Hawaiian Resistance to American Colonialism, Noenoe Silva, Duke University Press
Native Land and Foreign Desires: Pehea La E Pono Ai? How Shall We Live in Harmony?  Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa, 2013

 

 

       

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/546/american-crime-case-number-40-the-cultural-genocide-of-the-north-american-indians-en.html

American Crime

Case #40: Native American Boarding Schools: "Kill the Indian, Save the Man"

June 4, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

In that light, and in that spirit, “American Crime” is a regular feature of revcom.us. Each installment 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.

 

THE CRIME: The cultural genocide of the Native Americans

The near extermination of the Native Americans in the centuries following 1492 is one of the great historical crimes committed by the rulers of this country—or any country. Credible estimates of the indigenous population in North America in 1492 are between 12.5 and 18.5 million. Through the combination of massive epidemics and the “Indian Wars” waged by the U.S. Army through the decades after the Civil War, by 1890 the estimated Native American population had been reduced to fewer than 240,000 in the U.S., and in Canada a third of that—a population reduction of 95 to 99 percent.

Beginning in the 1870s and lasting a century or more, the weight of U.S. policy toward the Native American population shifted from military annihilation to the forced “assimilation” of the survivors—making them “suitable” to be members of the society that had devastated and despised them.

“Education” became the key ingredient in the systematic process of cultural genocide of the remaining Native Americans. During the 1860s, schools organized by religious orders began to appear on reservations, aiming to convert the children to Christianity, teach them English, and train them to assimilate into the nation that had conquered and now dominated them.

But the U.S. Indian Commission concluded that assimilation could not be successful as long as the children still lived at home and returned to their families at the end of each day. Thus from the 1870s to the mid-20th century, it became U.S. policy that every Native American child would be taken from his/her home, family, community, and culture—beginning as early as five years of age—and sent to off-reservation boarding schools, where they were to remain for up to a decade in state-sponsored “educational” facilities. It is estimated there were as many as 500 Indian boarding schools in the U.S.: 153 federal Indian boarding schools and many more religious schools run by Christian denominations and paid for through contracts with the government. At its peak, this complex of boarding schools could hold nearly half of all Native American children at one time. A total of about 150,000 children attended these schools over their century-long existence.

Forced Assimilation through Education: Children on the reservations were taken from their parents and communities by force. Parents who didn’t cooperate had rations, clothing, and other assistance withheld. Police were sent to round up any children who weren’t made available. Beyond its enormous emotional trauma, the tribal leaders understood that the impact threatened the continued existence of their tribes.

From the moment of their arrival at a boarding school, the children were stripped of their indigenous identity and simultaneously indoctrinated to view their own heritage—and themselves—as something to be despised and eradicated. The boys’ heads were shaved and the children’s clothes were taken, replaced with uniforms. Their real names were changed to European names to both “civilize” and “Christianize” them. They were taught English and forbidden to speak their Native languages—even to each other—and were forced to abandon their Native beliefs and take up Christianity. All of this contributed to a sense that they had lost themselves.

Death by Hunger, Disease, and Overwork: The schools were run like military schools, marching to meals, and the “virtues” of patriotism and obedience were instilled. Their “education” was designed to serve an extreme assimilationist agenda, aiming to inculcate subservience. The curriculum in the self-described “industrial schools” focused on training, not education. The young women learned to become maids and household servants, or to work in commercial laundries. The young men were taught the skills needed to work for ranchers and farmers, or for factory, mine, and mill operators throughout the western U.S. And when the schools were required to be self-supporting, they functioned as factories or labor camps making money to pay for the schools' expenses.

Children were systematically found to be underfed and underweight—the result of the strict limits put on funds for food, together with the money taken by staff for their own use. This, together with forced labor, contributed to staggering disease-driven mortality rates. Epidemics of deadly infectious diseases were common, including tuberculosis and at times, smallpox. At the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, of the 73 Shoshone and Arapaho children enrolled between 1881 and 1894, only 26 survived. A 1908 study by the Smithsonian Institution found that, overall, only one in every five students was likely to be “entirely free” of symptoms of tuberculosis. Another study found in 1912 that 30 percent of all boarding school students had contracted trachoma, a contagious eye disease that can cause blindness.

Physical, emotional, and sexual abuse of the children by those who ran these schools was widespread. Many of the youngsters died trying to escape the schools and return to their reservations. Those who were captured and brought back to the schools were brutally beaten. In fact, brutal physical abuse—torture—was brought down on boys and girls alike for any number of “violations.”

The Legacy of Cultural Genocide: Medical research links the boarding school experience with the current conditions of Native American society today. They associate the traumas of abuse, neglect, and separation from family and culture with high rates of suicide, substance and alcohol abuse, sexual abuse and violence, and other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes. One Native American scholar described “‘residential school syndrome’—a complex and intractable blend of devastated self-concept and self-esteem, psychic numbing, chronic anxiety, insecurity and depression.”

This scholar concluded that the magnitude of the destructive effects of the boarding schools on Native people individually and collectively, not only in the immediacy of their existence but in the aftermath, was and remains immeasurable. You cannot truly appreciate the impact of the genocide suffered by Native Americans unless the impact of the boarding schools is understood.

THE CRIMINALS

The U.S. government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs were responsible for the creation, operation and oversight of the system of Native American boarding schools and the treatment of the children brought there for nearly a century. The abuse and trauma inflicted on these children were consistent with the purpose for which they were established—to carry out the forced assimilation of the survivors of a genocide into the society that despised and sought to destroy them completely. Theodore Roosevelt, as president, prior to taking office, said: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are. And I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”

Col. Richard Pratt created and ran the model for these “schools”—the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania. Pratt’s qualifications were based on his having been in charge of the Fort Marion military prison for Apache prisoners of war. The Carlisle school became the prototype of the comprehensive network of boarding schools which systematically brutalized, traumatized, and devastated 150,000 Native American children.

Various Christian denominations were complicit in the operation of the boarding schools. The majority of the schools were contracted out to a variety of Christian denominations, given responsibility for the “Christianization” of the Native Americans. Each church supervised the operation of the boarding schools within its area, making each complicit in carrying out the policies of cultural genocide that took place there. Physical, emotional and sexual abuses took place at Christian-run boarding schools. Students suffered beatings, physical restraint and isolation in dark cellars. Many students chose to run away. A Native American woman who survived the experience said they were taught that their language belonged to the devil; all things she’d learned at home were “ugly”; and that she “became ashamed of being Indian.” She learned to hate herself and her race as well.

THE ALIBI

Reform-minded white people argued that education in these schools was a key tool to help Indian tribes “assimilate” into the mainstream of the “American way of life.”  Indigenous culture was thought to be inferior, so people had to be taught the importance of private property, material wealth and monogamous nuclear families. The reformers assumed that it was necessary to “civilize” indigenous peoples, make them accept white men’s beliefs and value systems. That meant teaching them the skills, values, and beliefs of possessive individualism, meaning you care about yourself and what you as a person own. This opposed the basic Native American belief of communal ownership, which held that the land was for all people. As an 1856 U.S. Indian Commissioner put it: for assimilation to occur, it was necessary that Indians learn to say “I” instead of “we,” “me” instead of “us,” “mine” instead of “ours.”

THE REAL MOTIVE

Because the intention of the colonizers was to take everything possessed by the Native Americans, only the most thorough-going assimilation would substitute for the campaigns of physical extermination that had been relied on until then. This meant totally stripping Native Americans of their cultural identity and using “education” to inculcate subservience among the surviving population. An “education” designed to systematically deculturate these youths and simultaneously indoctrinate them to see their own heritage—and themselves—in terms deemed appropriate by a society that despised both to the point of seeking as a matter of policy their utter eradication.

In 1910, the U.S. Indian Commissioner described their policy as “a mighty pulverizing engine for breaking up [the last vestiges of] the tribal mass.” An 1892 speech by Col. Pratt captured both the purpose and the consequences of the Indian Boarding Schools:

A great general [Philip Sheridan] has said that the only good Indian is a dead one... In a sense, I agree with the sentiment, but only in this: that all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.

Pratt’s dictum—“Kill the Indian, Save the Man”—captured the meaning of assimilation—Americanization—as applied to Native Americans.

 

The main source for this article is

Kill the Indian, Save the Man: The Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools, by Ward Churchill, 2004, City Lights Books.

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/615/Bob-Avakian-some-basic-qa-en.html

Some Basic Q&A, Drawn From the Speech
THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

America: the leader of the free world? When was that ever true?

For Black people, isn't Trump just more of the same?

What's the matter with liberals?

Slavery? Genocide? And you think fascism can't happen here?

What Has Given Rise to the Situation in Which We Have a Fascist Regime Ruling the U.S.?

Why Can't We Rely On the Democratic Party to Drive Out the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime?

If We Drive Out Trump, Won't We Just Get Pence? And How Can Mass Action Drive Out Trump, Anyway?

On What Basis Can Revolutionaries and People Who Are Not Revolutionaries Unite to Drive Out the Regime?

Watch the full film here

Watch more excerpts and Q&A

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/605/fascists-and-communists-completely-opposed-worlds-apart-en.html

Fascists and Communists:
Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart

By Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

Fascists stand for and are determined to intensify, to grotesque and hideous dimensions, every dimension of oppression and exploitation and all the horrors perpetrated by the system of capitalism-imperialism. Communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, are determined to put an end to all these horrors, and potentially even worse horrors, through the overthrow of the system of capitalism-imperialism and the abolition of all relations of exploitation and oppression, throughout the world.

Look at the 5 STOPS—fascists and communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, are on diametrically opposed sides of these crucial dividing lines: The fascists are determined to fortify and extend to even more monstrous proportions, and with potentially catastrophic consequences for humanity, all the horrors embodied in those 5 STOPS, while the communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, stand for and fight for precisely a STOP to all this.

Fascists base themselves on and actively promote blind adherence to hateful prejudice, willful ignorance and aggressive paranoia, in opposition to rational thinking and discourse, science and the scientific method. Communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, base themselves on and seek to apply the most consistent scientific method, including the importance of learning from and critically assimilating the insights, criticisms, etc. of others who disagree with or even ardently oppose them.

As pointed out in Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, it is not that people calling themselves communists have never acted in opposition to the basic principles of communism, and it is not that there have been no shortcomings and errors, even some grievous errors, in the history of the communist movement and socialist society; but a scientific approach and analysis shows that this has not been the main trend and character of the communist movement and socialist society led by communists; and the notion of communism as representing a “totalitarian nightmare” is fundamentally in conflict with reality and is on the contrary the invention and distortion of functionaries, enforcers and intellectual camp followers of the exploitative and oppressive system of capitalism and imperialism, which the communist revolution aims to overthrow and advance human society beyond, through the abolition of all exploitation and oppression. (If anyone is sincerely interested in actually understanding what is represented by the “theory” of “totalitarianism,” and in particular the use of this “theory” to distort and slander what is represented by communism, in Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? they can find a systematic discussion, dissection and refutation of the basic thesis and methods in The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, whose work is the most celebrated embodiment of this “theory” of “totalitarianism” and its use to distort and slander what is represented by communism.)

And, once again, there is the further, qualitative development of communism with the new communism which I have brought forward—which involves a scientific analysis and synthesis of the historical experience, positive and negative, of the communist movement and the first great wave of communist-led revolution and socialist society, and the significance of which is highlighted and concentrated in particular in the first of the Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

Download PDF of "Fascists and Communists: Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart" for printing and distribution

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/skybreak-bob-avakian-a-true-scientific-visionary-en.html

Excerpt from SCIENCE AND REVOLUTION, On the Importance of Science and the Application of Science to Society, the New Synthesis of Communism and the Leadership of Bob Avakian, An Interview with Ardea Skybreak

Bob Avakian–A True Scientific Visionary

| revcom.us

 

In the early part of 2015, over a number of days, Revolution conducted a wide-ranging interview with Ardea Skybreak. A scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and an advocate of the new synthesis of communism brought forward by Bob Avakian, Skybreak is the author of, among other works, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters, and Of Primeval Steps and Future Leaps: An Essay on the Emergence of Human Beings, the Source of Women's Oppression, and the Road to Emancipation. This interview was first published online at www.revcom.us.

Ardea Skybreak Science and Revolution excerpts A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What Is New in the New Synthesis? The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic--A Visionary and Concrete Application of the New Synthesis Serious Engagement with the New Synthesis--The Difference It Could Make An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past

by the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico

Read more

Question:     One thing I wanted to zero in on a little bit on this point about what struck you in particular about BA—and I think you’ve definitely talked about some of that, but just to go a bit more at this point about BA’s scientific method and leadership, which was in evidence during the Dialogue—I guess a way to put it is: For anyone who wants a fundamentally different world, or even people who are beginning to question why the world is the way it is and if it could be different, what lessons should people be drawing from the scientific method that BA was applying during the Dialogue and, obviously related to that, his leadership as it got expressed in that Dialogue?

AS:     Well, if we’re going to talk some more about scientific methods and leadership—using scientific methods and how BA actually concentrates that kind of scientific approach—we should be talking about truth and what truth is. Because I felt that this was modeled during the Dialogue. I believe BA quoted Malcolm X—and it’s a quote I’ve always loved—I’m paraphrasing a little bit but at one point Malcolm X said something like, I didn’t come here to tell you what you want to hear, I came here to tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. I think that’s pretty close to the exact quote. I love that quote, and I love the fact that BA embodies that same kind of approach and attitude. It’s a very core part of his method. It makes his life more difficult, I’m quite sure, because it’s always easier to pander to popular, fashionable views: what do people say, what do most people think, what do most people like or not like. A true visionary...I believe that Bob Avakian really is a true scientific visionary when it comes to the question of the transformation of human society, I think he’s bringing in a lot that’s new, he is building on the communist science and the development of communism through previous periods, but he’s taking it a lot further and he’s got some really important conceptions and methods that are putting the whole science of communism on a more sound foundation and a much more inspiring and hopeful foundation than at any time in the past. So I think there’s a lot in his work to dig into.

And at the Dialogue, I felt that one of the things that came through is his commitment to truth. That might seem obvious in a leader—that, of course, you should be telling the truth—but it’s not just that there are corrupt leaders who lie to people and manipulate the truth. Sure, we all know about that. But there are a lot of people, even well-intentioned people, who don’t actually understand what the truth is in a scientific way. [laughs] There are actually people who function as if the truth is what most people think, or most people say. Well, if you stop to think about it for a minute, of course that’s ridiculous, and Bob Avakian gave examples of that in the Dialogue, including in relation to religion. For instance, I remember the example he gave of epilepsy—that in times past and under the influence of old religions from thousands of years ago, when people didn’t understand a lot of stuff, most people would have thought that epilepsy was caused by being possessed by the devil, and it’s only in fairly recent modern history that people have understood that it’s a disease and that it can be treated, and that it has nothing to do with devil possession or things like that.

But the point is that one of the things that BA consistently models, which is a hallmark of a good scientist, is being willing to go where the evidence takes you, and not looking at things superficially, but systematically and methodically digging into historical experience, and from many different directions—the historical experience of political forces, of revolutionary movements, of communist parties and movements, of the international situation—examining all that accumulated experience, and also drawing on other spheres, not just politics but also art and science and culture, all the many facets of human experience throughout history, in order to draw out the key patterns and the key directions of things and the key contradictions which come to characterize a phenomenon, or a particular phase of history, or a particular form of social organization. And then critically evaluating it, and figuring out on what basis it could be changed if it doesn’t meet the needs of the people.

One of the things I’m struck by, as someone who was trained in the natural sciences, is how unscientific most people are! Even very, very educated people, people with Ph.D.s in different spheres or whatever, are generally incredibly unscientific. They just have knee-jerk reactions to things. Very often, very educated people come across, frankly, like blithering idiots when they try to analyze phenomena in society, and that’s usually because they are basing themselves not on science but on populism, on what is the general consensus. I don’t really care what most people think, if it’s not right. You have to show me the evidence of why something is true. And if one person is putting forward something that is true (that corresponds to actual reality) and yet nobody else agrees with them, that doesn’t make it not true! Show me the evidence. And, conversely, if great numbers of people believe something to be true—“everybody knows this” or “everybody knows that,” there’s a general consensus—I have to say that, as a scientist, I don’t find that particularly convincing! You are really going to have to show me the evidence.

You can’t just tell me the numbers, you can’t play the numbers game, you can’t tell me that something is true just because a lot of people believe it.

One of the things that really captures this from BA, and that can be found in the book BAsics, is the statement that I believe is a real concentrated expression of a scientific method on the question of exactly what we’re talking about here: What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think. That’s worth pondering and reflecting on. That’s the difference between subjective reactions to things and a real scientific method. Because what people think is important. It’s either right or wrong, it should either be encouraged or discouraged, it should either be reinforced or transformed. But in any case it’s part of objective reality and, so, of course, it’s important. But objective reality is not determined by what people think, no matter how many people think it or how few people think it. You have to dig deeper, you have to dig and uncover those underlying features and patterns. And that’s one of the things that is a hallmark of BA’s work and of the new synthesis that he’s brought forward. And it is in sharp contrast to what has too often prevailed in a lot of the political movements—even revolutionary movements, even communist movements—in past periods and even through today. It is shameful the degree to which there is not rigorous scientific pursuit of the truth among many people and many organizations. And it’s a problem in the international movement, among international forces today. There is often an unwillingness to critically evaluate the past.

One of the things that BA has argued for a lot is that we have to be willing to confront the truths that make us cringe. If you’re serious about trying to transform the world in a good direction, you have to be willing to examine past experience in a rigorous scientific manner. There are two parts to that: You have to dig deeply to understand what is correct in what was done before, in what was previously understood and what was previously accomplished; but then you also have to be willing to recognize where things went off track, or where there were shortcomings or mistakes made. That’s how we learn, historically, that’s how human beings accumulate knowledge, but it’s also absolutely necessary for transforming things in the right direction.

And, you know, there are a lot of wrong tendencies epistemologically. Epistemology is the science of how you think about thinking, how you accumulate knowledge. That’s what that is. And the question is, how do you know something is true? You should not be trying to determine what’s true just on the basis of how many people believe it or don’t believe it. You should also not be trying to say that the truth resides in superficial phenomena, like in an immediate narrow slice of experience or practice. You should not fall into pragmatism. Pragmatism is the view that if something works now, then it must be true. I was reading a good example about that in a very interesting piece that I would recommend people study. It can be found through the revcom.us website—it’s in the online theoretical journal Demarcations, which can be accessed through the revcom.us website. In this piece, there is an important appreciation of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis put out by the OCR, the revolutionary communists in Mexico, entitled “The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past” by the Revolutionary Communist Organization (OCR), Mexico. It’s about some of the line differences in the international communist movement, and it’s an appreciation of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis in relation to that. And there’s a whole discussion of pragmatism in there, and how many people think that truth is whatever is kind of “convenient” for accomplishing certain objectives in a very narrow and immediate sense. The article gives the example of the thalidomide drug which was developed some time back to treat morning sickness and was touted as an advance in science. Well, it “worked” for that purpose and it got heralded, but it turned out that it hadn’t been sufficiently, deeply analyzed in an all-sided way, and it also led to children being born with tremendous birth defects. The deeper truth turned out to be how harmful it was, not that it “worked.” Well, that’s an analogy for the same kind of mistakes that can be made in the political sphere.

And Bob Avakian insists that everybody should act like critical thinkers, and really that everybody should contribute to the process of actually analyzing what is true and what is false in various kinds of phenomena. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much experience you have—you can be in the Party as a Party leader, or you can be in the Party as a new person and relatively inexperienced, or you can be outside the Party, you could be a critic of communism or you could be an adherent of communism—it doesn’t matter who you are. If you have principled methods, and you are willing to actually try to get to the truth of things, your contributions would be welcomed in terms of trying to advance knowledge and understanding. Now, you also should be willing to be subject to criticism yourself, from others who might punch holes in your theories or analyses. That’s what good scientists do. As a natural scientist, I had many good experiences that way, where I or other scientists would put forward some analyses of some things in nature and propose some experiments that could be conducted to uncover some of the deeper reality, and then you got your colleagues and friends together and they would spend the next hour or so trying to punch holes in your theories and questioning your underlying assumptions! That can be a very healthy and productive process (and fun too!), as long as it’s done in the right spirit (free of snark and ego) and with the right method.

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/600/crucial-importance-of-the-new-communism-and-ba-en.html

The Crucial Importance of the New Communism and BA's Leadership

| revcom.us

 

The following is a summation of some group study and discussion of the new communism and the leadership of Bob Avakian (BA).

First of all, I want to say that it has been truly great, deeply meaningful, critically important—and a lot of fun!—digging into the work, leadership and method of BA together. I have been thinking recently about some key themes and lessons that occur to me regarding our study and discussions and their purpose and importance. There is obviously so much that I could highlight—in terms of the key points we have gotten into in these sessions and the significance of these sessions—and trying to cover it all would be well beyond the scope of what I have written here (which ended up being longer than I envisioned when I started). However, I wanted to frame our work together with two overall themes.

The first of these themes is drawn from the beginning of a quote from BA: “Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.” (from BAsics 3:1)

The second theme is the critical role of revolutionary theory.

Let me briefly get further into each of these themes—in general, as it relates to the role and importance of BA and his leadership in the world, and also as it relates to our study and discussions.

Given how much there is to say on each of these two themes, I can only really scratch the surface here. But let’s start with the first one:

“Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.”

The understanding captured in this quote not only speaks to the state of the world and of humanity—and to what is urgently needed in light of this—but also, relatedly, illuminates WHY we have been engaging in this study and discussion together and WHY this is so important.

We have often talked—and very correctly so, to be clear—about having “cool” discussions. But it’s important to understand that this is NOT fundamentally about having “cool,” “interesting,” “fun” or “mentally stimulating” discussions, even though these discussions definitely ARE all of these things!

Rather, our work together has a specific purpose: to deepen our understanding of the world not just for the sake of knowledge in some academic sense, but in order to radically CHANGE the world. And, more specifically, to deepen our understanding and application of the science of revolution and communism, as this science has been qualitatively advanced in groundbreaking ways through the new communism brought forward by BA—deepening our grasp and application of this science as a key part of contributing to the process of making revolution on the basis of this new communism.

Just look at the world! We have talked about the “5 STOPS,” which speak to five key, defining contradictions of this capitalist-imperialist system. These 5 STOPS are: “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!”

A quick glance at the news from the past few weeks alone will reveal that the contradictions spoken to in these 5 STOPS—and the staggering level of suffering and misery caused by these contradictions—are only intensifying.

This is on top of the countless other forms of tremendous poverty, deprivation, misery, exploitation, oppression and suffering spawned by this system and heaped upon literally billions of human beings and humanity as a whole every single day that this capitalist-imperialist system continues.

A key point to understand, which BA’s work illuminates so sharply and powerfully, is that NONE of these outrages are accidental, isolated or disconnected from each other. They have a common source—this SYSTEM of capitalism-imperialism. These outrages and horrors for humanity are woven into this system’s rules, its operation, its “DNA,” its roots, its historical and ongoing functioning. For this reason, the system CANNOT be reformed—it must be overthrown through revolution.

This point about the NEED for an actual revolution—as opposed to attempts to “fix” or “heal” or “reform” a system that in fact CANNOT be fixed, healed or reformed—in order to put an end to the countless ways that humanity suffers needlessly is, I believe, one vital takeaway from our study and discussions of BA’s work; it is one critical point on which our collective understanding should be significantly deepened.

Another one of these vital points that I think has been a theme of our study and discussions—especially recently, as we have watched the most recent film from BA (Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution) and listened to the Q & A from this film—is what an actual revolution IS, what it involves and what it requires.

An actual revolution does NOT just mean “a big change”—in one form or another—which is how many people think of it or try to define it. Rather, an actual revolution means overthrowing the capitalist-imperialist system, meeting and defeating its repressive force, dismantling its institutions and setting up a new, socialist system and state power and society—and, accordingly, new institutions—on the road to communism. Right now is NOT the time for an actual revolution, because the necessary conditions for this revolution do not yet exist. But right now IS the time to be working for, hastening (i.e., working to accelerate the emergence of) and preparing for an actual revolution.

This point leads us to the question of what we ALREADY do have, and what we DON’T yet have and therefore need to urgently work on bringing into being, in terms of the necessary factors and conditions for revolution.

In terms of what we DO have: By far the biggest positive factor we have is BA. Through decades of work, BA has forged the new communism, which is the framework—and, most fundamentally, the scientific understanding and method—that humanity needs to make revolution and continue that revolution all the way to communism. Think about this: Just as the first round of communist revolutions would never have happened without the initial scientific breakthroughs and framework forged by Marx, so the next round of communist revolutions will not happen without millions of people taking up the further scientific breakthroughs and framework forged by BA.

The framework of the new communism includes: a comprehensive and further developed scientific understanding of the nature of the problem, that is, the nature of capitalism-imperialism, how it specifically operates, historically and in the world today, why and how it is responsible for the many different forms of suffering that humanity faces and why this system cannot be reformed and must be swept away through revolution; a viable strategy for revolution—for working now to hasten while awaiting a revolutionary situation and then winning in that future situation; and a concrete, vivid and thoroughly developed vision and “blueprint” for a radically different socialist society on the road to communism, as put forward in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by BA.

Most fundamentally and importantly—and this is a thread running through and underlying the understanding, strategy and vision—is the scientific METHOD of the new communism.

The new communism forged by BA builds upon—but also goes far beyond, and in some key ways breaks with—the past experience in theory and practice of the communist movement.

Speaking in depth to the totality and specific dimensions of the new communism is also beyond the scope of what I am writing here, but to quickly highlight some key points of this.

In terms of the totality of what is represented by the new communism, I want to quote the first of the Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which we have previously discussed. This first resolution makes the point that the new communism

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.

This point is important enough that I think it bears repeating in order to help facilitate ongoing further reflection: The new communism “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.

While—as this quote from the first resolution points out—communism’s method and approach has been FUNDAMENTALLY scientific, there have been important ways in which past socialist societies along with the communist movement, past and present, have taken up unscientific and even ANTI-scientific ways of thinking, methods and approaches to understanding and transforming reality, with very harmful effects.

The new communism brought forward by BA qualitatively resolves this contradiction, putting communism on a more firmly scientific footing and therefore carving out the method and framework that makes it possible—not inevitable, but possible—to confront and transform the many contradictions involved in making revolution and continuing that revolution all the way to communism.

Needless to say, this is a big deal in terms of the possibilities this new communism opens up for humanity!

While, once again, it is not possible to review in depth the various specific dimensions of the new communism, I want to highlight here three examples of this.

*First, the new communism breaks new ground—and breaks with unscientific approaches within the communist movement—in terms of its approach to the TRUTH, the process by which the truth should be pursued, understood and arrived at, and the importance of going for the truth not just in a general sense but specifically in terms of the goal of getting to communism.

The new communism’s approach to this breaks with the unscientific and harmful ideas—which have far too often and to far too great a degree infected the past and present of the communist movement at different points—that a particular section of society, such as communists, or the most oppressed and exploited, have a monopoly on truth; the idea that whether or not a statement is true should be evaluated based on the class (or social) position of the person making the statement; the idea that different classes have their own versions of the truth, i.e., that the proletariat has its truth and the bourgeoisie has its truth; the notion of “populist epistemology”—that whether or not something is true should be evaluated based on the numbers of people who believe it at a given time; the notion of “political truth”—the idea that whether or not something is true should be evaluated based on whether or not it is viewed as convenient at a given time.

Once again, all of those wrong ways of thinking are not just prevalent in society more broadly but have been significant problems in the past and present of the communist movement.

In opposition to all of this is the understanding encompassed in BA’s new communism that truth is... TRUTH! That it does NOT have a class character, nor is it determined by whether it is viewed as politically convenient in the short term, nor is it determined by the number of the masses who recognize it as truth at a given time. That truth is determined by whether or not something corresponds to objective reality, and it must be fully confronted in all of its dimensions—including those that might be unfortunate or inconvenient in the short run—as an essential part of actually getting to communism.

These points are encompassed in this very important quote from BA that speaks to a key breakthrough in understanding concentrated in the new communism:

Everything that is actually true is good for the proletariat, all truths can help us get to communism. (BAsics 4:5)

Once again, as BA has pointed out, the new communism’s breakthroughs in regard to the truth are not just a matter of recognizing that going for the truth is essential in general—though this understanding is encompassed, too—but that going for the truth is essential IN ORDER TO GET TO COMMUNISM.

*A second example of a specific key dimension of the new communism is its breakthrough in regard to internationalism—the understanding that “the whole world comes first.” This is not just a moral stand—although it is ALSO that—but represents a more fully scientific understanding of internationalism and its importance in the process of making and continuing revolution, and a rupture with and departure from unscientific understandings of internationalism in the past and present of the communist movement. This breakthrough developed with BA’s new communism includes the understanding that the world situation is principal—in other words, that it is the most important factor setting the terms—in regard to the process of making revolution in any particular country; that there can sometimes be a sharp contradiction between the needs of a particular socialist state and the need to advance the world revolution, and that advancing the world revolution must come first; and that in past revolutions there were sometimes important errors made by failing to recognize this and putting the needs of particular socialist countries above the world revolution. Here again, this is not just a matter of an abstract idea of internationalism, but principles based on the work BA has done to deeply engage and synthesize the correct understanding of and approach to the actual contradictions involved in consistently applying internationalism, with all the complexity and difficulty involved in this. (In this regard, the discussion of internationalism in BA’s book THE NEW COMMUNISM is very important.)

*A third example of specific dimensions in which the new communism has broken new ground is in terms of the method of “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core,” which is a scientific understanding which in fact ruptures with the past understanding and approach of the communist movement in important ways, including in the application of this method to the process of making revolution and leading the future socialist society.

In terms of epistemology (theory of knowledge) and method, “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core” intertwines with some of the key points made earlier in regard to truth and comprehends that while the communist method and approach is the most systematic, comprehensive and effective means of getting to the truth, this does not mean that communists have a monopoly on the truth and are always correct or that those NOT applying the communist method and approach are always incorrect; rather, those coming from other outlooks, methods and approaches can discover important truths and shed important light on elements of reality. Therefore, the METHOD of solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core involves applying the communist outlook, method and approach to reality with a specific goal, making revolution and getting to communism, while also understanding the need—ON THE BASIS OF APPLYING THAT METHOD—to learn from, sift through and sort out what is brought forward through many diverse streams of human activity and by people coming from a broad range of perspectives, including those that are not communist and even opposed to communism in some cases.

Applying this understanding of solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core to the process of making revolution and then continuing that revolution in the future socialist society on the road to communism, BA’s new communism recognizes—on a level far beyond and in some cases in opposition to the way this was understood prior to the new communism—the complexity and diversity of human activity and thought that must be involved in the process of making revolution and leading a socialist society to communism. This includes recognizing in a whole new way and on a whole other level the importance of dissent, debate, experimentation, ferment and individuality—not individualism but individuality—in socialist society.

To contrast this with one example from the first wave of socialist societies: In socialist China—which, again, overall represented an enormous leap for humanity in so many different spheres and overall—Marxism was in essence viewed as an “official ideology” that people in socialist society should profess, while the new communism, and in particular the approach of “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core,” embodies the understanding that the leading element in socialist society needs to be communism, but this should not be enshrined and institutionalized as, in effect, an “official ideology” but put forward and struggled for as something people need to be won to and to consciously and voluntarily take up, while at the same time recognizing the importance of giving space to and engaging, and learning what can and should be learned from, the insights of others who have not, yet, been won to communism.

As positive as the overall experience of socialism in China was, BA’s new communism represents a very different vision of socialist society that involves a radical leap forward from even the best of the past.

So, these three examples—related to the approach towards truth, internationalism and solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core—are just that: three of many examples and points that could be offered to illustrate just how profoundly new BA’s new communism is, and the ways in which this new communism (to go back to the quote from the first of the six resolutions):

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.

The works that we have read, watched and listened to from BA have been an application and illustration of the new communism—and this has immersed us in this new communism, in an overall way, as captured by the quote from the first resolution as well as in various specific dimensions, including the three highlighted in this letter.

Accordingly, our study and discussion of this work should have deepened our understanding and application of the new communism and its scientific method. Many of our discussions, in fact, have involved studying BA’s scientific method and seeking to take up and apply this method ourselves, to the best of our ability, even while not being able to do this on anywhere near the same level that BA himself does. This focus on method has been extremely important and instructive, manifested, for instance, in the way that we have studied and sought to emulate the way that BA boldly confronts, plainly presents and systematically unpacks the key contradictions and questions of the revolution, involving and inviting others to join him on that journey.

So, once again to return to the question of what we HAVE in regard to the factors and conditions needed to make revolution, the biggest positive factor we have by far is BA, the scientific framework, breakthrough and understanding that he has forged with the new communism, and the ongoing leadership he is providing. This leadership, as highlighted in the second of those six resolutions, involves an extremely rare combination: the ability “to develop scientific theory on a world-class level, while at the same time having a deep understanding of and visceral connection with the most oppressed, and a highly developed ability to ‘break down’ complex theory and make it accessible to the masses of people.” Our viewing, listening, reading and related study/discussion has also driven home this rare combination point repeatedly and powerfully.

In terms of what we don’t yet have, and therefore urgently NEED to work on bringing into being in order to make an actual revolution: We don’t yet have masses of people, first in the thousands and then in the millions, who are won to this revolution and its leadership and developed as an organized force for this revolution; we don’t yet have a situation where the party that is needed to lead the revolution has grown and been expanded and strengthened to the point where it has the necessary ties and influence in society to actually lead a revolution; and we don’t yet have a revolutionary crisis in which the system is unable to rule in the traditional way.

So, the urgent task before us—not just us, but certainly ALSO us—is to take the critical things we DO have and go to work on bringing into being what we DON’T yet have.

This theme—of what we do have, what we don’t have, and what we therefore need to get busy doing—has been another theme both directly spoken to and objectively posed by the works of BA that we have dug into and by our discussions of these works.

Bringing into being the conditions that we don’t yet have is urgently necessary, absolutely possible and in line with reality and how it can be changed, and there is a strategy for going to work on this, as we have discussed recently. But this will not be easy—it will take lots of STRUGGLE, repeatedly and fundamentally on a societal level.

This understanding, too, is another theme that jumps out in reflecting on our study and discussion.

We should understand that we are not operating on an “empty playing field.” There can be a tendency, especially when people are young and still relatively inexperienced politically, to think that everyone with a decent heart will immediately rally to the correct understanding of reality as soon as they are exposed to this understanding. And without question, there is a tremendous basis to win MILLIONS of people to this revolution and its leadership because it DOES, in fact, correspond to reality and to what humanity needs, and no other program and line does.

However, the understanding of BA and the new communism is, to put it simply, contending with all kinds of wrong ways of thinking, on all kinds of questions, that are spontaneously called forth and actively and repeatedly promoted by this system, and it is contending with all kinds of wrong LINES—i.e., wrong outlooks and methods applied to reality—that keep people trapped within this system. This includes, but is not limited to, people in society who call themselves “socialists” or “communists” but are actually about nothing that has anything to do with actual socialism and communism and really just want to reform capitalism and perhaps slightly redistribute the wealth generated by the capitalist system of exploitation. These reformists have nothing to do with an actual revolution and bringing into being a radically different world—and in some cases they will even admit as much. In any case, these fake socialists and communists are often some of those who most viciously attack BA and the GENUINE communism represented by BA, the new communism, precisely because BA and the new communism ACTUALLY represent what they may PRETEND to be about but in reality fundamentally oppose: real revolution and communism.

Few things are as threatening to a poseur as someone who actually IS what they PRETEND to be.

Returning to society more broadly: sharp ideological struggle must be waged—not just on an individual level or in small numbers, but among MASSES OF PEOPLE, and on a SOCIETAL SCALE—to rupture people out of all the wrong ways of thinking and wrong lines that they are caught up in and into the framework of BA’s new communism.

Once again, there is every basis and every urgency to do this, exactly because BA and the new communism correspond to reality and how it can and must be changed, while these other lines and ways of thinking do NOT. But this will take determined, sharp struggle—of the sort emphasized and modeled by BA in the works that we have studied together.

This brings me to the point with which I want to briefly conclude, which is the second of the two themes I have emphasized.

The Importance of Revolutionary Theory

Another tendency that people can have when they are young and relatively inexperienced is the tendency to view “doing stuff” as the most important political task at hand. “Doing stuff” can be defined in a number of different ways, including things such as attending programs, events or protests or doing “on the ground” political outreach and work.

Well, first of all, the question of “doing WHAT stuff” is immediately posed. In other words, what KIND of political work and outreach are people doing, and what KIND of programs and protests—around what line—are people seeking to be involved in? This is obviously a key question.

It’s not the case, as people often think and sometimes say, that “it’s all good”—in other words, “liberal”/“progressive”/“socialist”/“communist”—“sure, sure we all basically want the same things and are on the same page.”

NO. While there are certainly some important areas in which genuine communists can find unity with broad ranks of progressives, there are different lines out there and these different lines are in contention and lead to fundamentally different understandings of the problem and solution in the world.

So, that’s the first question: doing “WHAT” stuff and with WHAT goal?

That said, “doing stuff” in the right sense—i.e., doing “practical work” on the ground and in the broader society to promote this revolution and its leadership, to organize people into the revolution, working to hasten and prepare for an actual revolution, to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, including through different forms of political outreach, programs and discussions, demonstrations and protests, etc.—is extremely critical and important, and in fact urgently necessary.

But it is important to understand that in a movement for revolution—like any good team—everyone has different roles, and it is important for people to understand and embrace their roles in order to make the greatest possible contribution to the team and, in this case, to humanity.

However, even beyond this question of each person’s individual roles, there is the question of the decisiveness of revolutionary theory.

Once again, “doing stuff” in the right sense—i.e., practical revolutionary work—is critically important. If millions of people had the right theoretical understanding but didn’t act on that understanding in practice, nothing would change.

However—and this goes up against the ways people are trained to think in this society, and against the spontaneity of how people often see things when they are young (or new to things), but is nonetheless true and important—what is even more fundamental than “doing stuff” is the question of what people, individually and in their masses, UNDERSTAND. Whether and how people act—and the effect this has in the world—ultimately comes down to what people UNDERSTAND.

From that standpoint, it is crucial that people find the ways to do what we have been doing: immersing ourselves in, taking up and applying the most advanced revolutionary theory in the world, BA’s new communism, as part of the overall process of making revolution.

One final point: It is important not to look narrowly at what it means to TAKE UP and APPLY the new communism. This doesn’t just mean direct political work and outreach, which, once again, is very important. Taking up and applying this work means—in a BROADER sense—applying the understanding represented by BA and the new communism to understanding and changing reality. Very importantly, this includes sharing observations/ideas/questions and thoughts—about what you are learning and the material you are studying; about developments, changes and trends in society (and the world overall); about ways and openings to promote this revolution and its leadership; about how people (those you know and people more broadly) are viewing and discussing different things going on in society/the world, what this reveals about openings for revolution and jolts in society but also the need to transform people’s thinking; about major events and developments in music and the arts... just to give a few examples.

These are all VERY IMPORTANT contributions to the revolutionary process, and it would be wrong to think otherwise.

So, let me end this where I began: This process we have embarked on has been—and will continue to be—deeply meaningful, really exciting, and a lot of fun. And this is a crucial part of actually participating in and contributing to the process of building for the revolution that is so urgently needed.

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

Download PDF of book here

Read more

Breakthroughs —

The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism
A Basic Summary

Updated prepublication copy, April 10, 2019
Read or download (searchable PDF)

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/349/watching-Fruitvale-Station-with-Bob-Avakian-en.html

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian

August 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

April 22, 2019. This article was originally published in 2014. We believe that it is particularly timely now to either return to this or, for those who have not read it before, to read it for the first time.

For those who don’t know, Fruitvale Station is a very powerful, moving, and excruciating film that depicts the last day in the life of Oscar Grant.  Oscar was a 22-year-old, unarmed Black man murdered by Bay Area Rapid Transit police on New Year’s Day, 2009.  He was returning home from celebrating on New Year’s Eve, when police stopped Oscar and the friends he was with, harassed and brutalized them, straddled Oscar as he lay face down on a subway platform, and fatally shot him in the back. 

Not too long ago, I watched Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian (BA), chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.  Towards the very end of the film, agonizing, heartbreaking and infuriating scenes are shown: The cop shooting Oscar in the back; Oscar’s girlfriend frantically rushing to the scene, trying to find out what happened; Oscar’s loved ones gathering together and waiting desperately to find out if he would make it, only to find out he was gone forever.

As these scenes unfolded, I looked over at BA.  He was sobbing.  Not just misty-eyed. Sobbing.  And he continued to cry tears of heartbreak and rage for several minutes, as the closing credits rolled.

This made a very big impression on me.  BA did not know Oscar Grant personally. But he felt the sting of his murder in an extremely raw and visceral way. And I think his reaction speaks volumes about who Bob Avakian is, what he represents, and what he is all about. 

BA has literally been fighting against this system for 50 years.  He has been a revolutionary communist for about 45 years.  He has been shouldering the responsibility of leading the Revolutionary Communist Party for almost 40 years. And over the course of the last several decades, he has forged the theory and deepened the science for the revolution humanity needs to get free, while also providing practical leadership to the party and movement working for that revolution.  And all of this has involved not only tremendous work, but also tremendous risk and sacrifice on BA’s part as anyone with a sense of U.S. history, and/or BA’s personal history—specifically, what this reveals about the way the U.S. government viciously goes after revolutionary leaders—should well understand. And over all these decades, and through everything described above, BA has never lost an ounce of his love and feeling for the masses of people, his sense of outrage and hatred for all the ways in which the masses suffer needlessly, and his fire for revolution to emancipate the masses all over the world.  Not one bone in his body has become numb.  

There is a great deal more that could be said about the experience of watching Fruitvale Station with BA. But I want to highlight two points.

First, I think that in BA’s reaction to this movie, there is a lot for revolutionary communists, and anyone with concern for humanity and hatred for oppression and injustice, to reflect on and learn from.  Even with all the work BA has done and continues to do in the realm of theory, in order to forge a deeper understanding of why police murders like the execution of Oscar Grant and countless other outrages keep happening, the larger picture they are connected to, and how these outrages can be ended through revolution; even though BA has been at this for decades; and even with all of the horrors that pile up every single second that this system remains in place, there is absolutely no sense on BA’s part of world-weary detachment or defeatism when something like the murder of Oscar Grant goes down.  His reaction is decidedly not:  “Oh, well of course, this happens all the time, what do you expect?”   Rather, he cries tears of rage and anguish, both because he feels acutely the pain of Oscar’s life being stolen and because he knows that outrages like this are completely unnecessary and that humanity does not have to live this way.

This brings me to the second point I want to make here—and it is one I want to give even greater emphasis to, even while the first point above is very important and very related. The point I want to close this letter with is: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

I’ll say it again: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

And when I say “we had better,” that “we” is addressed to many different people and audiences.  Yes, I am most definitely speaking to revolutionaries and communists and to all those who are already deeply familiar with and supportive of BA.  But in saying “we,” I am also speaking to those who are just now—or just recently—learning about and getting introduced to this revolutionary leader—including, to quote BA, “Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human” who “can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.”   

To all the masses of people, here and around the world, who suffer brutal oppression minute after minute, day after day... and to all those who may not directly suffer this oppression but ache for a world where this oppression is no more, I want to say this:  If you do not know about Bob Avakian, or just recently learned about him, that is not your fault.  But you, and millions of other people, need to understand how incredibly rare and precious it is for the people of the planet that we have this revolutionary leader and act in accordance with that reality.

BA is not only the leader of the revolution, he is also a best friend to the masses of people.  He is a leader who has done decades of work in the realm of theory to bring forward the scientific method, strategy and vision needed to make revolution and bring into being a radically new world where all the horrors that humanity suffers unnecessarily would be no more. He is continuing to develop the advanced scientific method that he has forged, and apply that method to all of the big questions and obstacles confronting the revolution. He is able to break all of this down for people, without even slightly watering it down, in a way that everyone can understand, take up, and be inspired by. He has taken on the daily responsibility of leading a party and a movement to make revolution right here in the most powerful imperialist country in the world. He has dedicated his life to the emancipation of humanity. And, through all of this, he maintains a deep, visceral connection to and feeling for the masses of people who most desperately need this revolution.

A leader like this comes along very, very rarely.  And when this does happen, the absolute worst thing we could do is fail to recognize this, fail to act in accordance with this, fail to take this seriously, or take this for granted.  Instead, all of us—whether we have known about BA for decades, are just learning about him and what he represents, or anywhere in between, and whether you agree with BA about everything or not—must fully recognize and embrace what BA means for the people of the world.  We must study, and learn all we can from his incredible body of work on the biggest questions of revolution and human emancipation, as well as the lessons of who he is and what he stands for as a revolutionary leader.  We must realize that it is not just us who need to know about BA, his work and vision, and the leadership he is providing to this party and movement for revolution:  millions of people must know about all of this, and this must impact all of society.    

Furthermore, and very crucially, we must fully confront the reality of what it would mean for the people of the world to lose this leader, and take extremely seriously that there are people and forces—those officially part of the powers-that-be, as well as those willing to do the work of the powers-that-be—who hate what BA represents and would like nothing more than to tear him down, silence him, and take him from the masses of people.  And we must be absolutely determined not to let that happen.

This means taking very seriously the need to do everything we can to protect and defend BA. This means denouncing and not giving a millimeter of space to those who slander and personally attack BA, because these attacks and slanders are part of creating the poisonous atmosphere and conditions that would make it easier for the powers-that-be, or those doing their bidding, to take BA from the people of the world.  Protecting and defending BA, and building a wall around him, also means boldly and sharply challenging those who may not be part of the camp of the enemy, but who are wallowing in, or at least being influenced by, arrogance, cynicism and snark, and who seek to dismiss without seriously engaging what BA has brought forward; this arrogance, snark, cynicism, and dismissal, regardless of the intent of those who fall into it, stands in the way of BA and all that he has brought forward having the reach and societal influence that this urgently needs to have.  And this, too, creates easier conditions for those who would try to silence and isolate BA and take him from the masses.

Few things in life are more tragic than a critical lesson learned too late. And it would truly be a tragedy if BA were taken from the people, and then people said: “Wow, I wish I had realized sooner what we had here.”

But the good news is: It is not too late.  We, and the masses of the planet, have BA right now.  We had better realize, and let everyone know, what that means.

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/bob-avakian-you-cant-change-the-world-if-you-dont-know-the-basics-49-en.html

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

| revcom.us

 

 

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

 

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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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/speaking-to-a-class-of-300-en.html

Speaking to a Class of 300, Getting into Big Questions, and Getting Organized

| revcom.us

 

From a member of the Revolution Club, Los Angeles:

A young professor, who heard about the #UCLA5 case, invited two of us from the Revolution Club to come speak to his large ethnic studies class. He said he wanted to hear from us about our activism, movement building, guiding philosophy, and encounters with state repression. This professor is very familiar with the fascist assault on academia—how “free speech” has been (mis)used to bring fascist speakers onto campus, while left wing professors are harassed and even forced out, and ANTI-fascist speech is criminalized—so he was eager to bring voices like ours onto campus.

The prof opened up the class, saying he wanted students to understand the current moment, with a resurgence of white supremacy and fascism. Then he played a video of himself protesting at a Trump campaign event over 3 years ago—he doesn’t hide his own position on things, and encourages students to take a fact/evidence-based approach to understanding the world and figuring out for themselves what they’re going to do. He then introduced us as people who are continuing that fight.

Watching the prof’s video, I was reminded of the anger and passion so many people felt back then, and the need to bring that spirit of defiance back! So I asked the students to raise their hands if they were in high school when Trump was elected (almost everyone); if they protested back then (about 1/3); if they walked out (about 1/10). I asked them to reflect on that feeling they had back then, like being punched in the gut, of having someone who said such disgusting things about women and Mexicans and Muslims be elected president of the United States. And then to reflect on everything that’s happened since—the Muslim ban, the concentration camps and family separations, ripping up environmental protections, Charlottesville, El Paso, etc.—and how yesterday’s outrage has become today’s new normal. We told them we were here to talk to them about a plan, beginning October 19, to end this Trump/Pence nightmare.

The two of us, we said, came from different backgrounds—one of us a college graduate, the other from the hard streets of South Central—but we both got involved in the Revolution Club cuz we came to understand that this system can’t be reformed and must be overthrown. We explained that we’re talking about an actual revolution based on the new communism developed by Bob Avakian, and that this is completely different from what people like Bernie Sanders are talking about. When we made the point that the Republican Party is fascist, but the Democrats are also a party of war crimes and crimes against humanity, we could see some students nodding in agreement.

As the “solid core” of our presentation, we played the trailer from Why We Need an Actual Revolution and How We Can Really Make Revolution and Bob Avakian’s response to people who complain about immigrants, which speaks with a lot of science and heart to the horrors this system causes in the world and how this is leading to the rise of fascism.

We re-emphasized the points BA made in the trailer about these “5 Stops” being built in to the system of capitalism, and that the only way to stop them is by getting rid of this system, and replacing it with a completely different system. We told them that the floor was open for questions and comments about all of that, but that we wanted to focus on this question of fascism.

We asked them how they would define fascism. Someone yelled out “Trump!” Others said “dictatorship,” “authoritarianism,” “scapegoating minorities,” “not wanting to transfer power.” We asked the students if they’d heard about Trump’s refusal to comply with the impeachment inquiry, and how do they relate what’s happening now to this definition of fascism. One student explained that what Trump is doing completely violates the Constitution, since impeachment is part of the legal process laid out in the Constitution. Another student referred to how much has already been normalized, and warned about fascism taking hold “step by step.” We underlined his point by reciting the famous Pastor Niemöller poem, drawing out the logic of “at least it’s not affecting ME yet,” and underlining that the point is to fight for humanity and act now, before it’s too late!

This was important, because students were grappling not only with the atrocities perpetrated against different groups, but also how fascism is a different form of rule, in which power is concentrated in the executive and democratic rights stripped away. And there was a collective sense in the room that this is happening, and that it is serious, and a feeling of working together on a common problem.

At this point the professor asked the other Revolution Club member, “As a kid from South Central, how did you get into this?” My comrade spoke to the anger about oppression that he grew up with, and that he was looking for answers for how to end it—not just going with whatever is to “my taste.” So when he first heard about BA, even though he was skeptical about him being a white guy, he really looked into it and found that there are answers.

A student asked, “What do you tell people who say that you’re too radical and extreme?” Another student asked, “What do you say to students who are really passionate about these things, but don’t know what to do?” Another student expressed concerns about the bloodshed involved in an actual revolution. We talked about how the word “radical” actually means getting to the roots. And like any problem, if you don’t get to the roots you can’t really solve it and it’ll just keep coming back. This revolution is about getting to the roots of what’s causing all this unnecessary suffering, digging up this capitalist system, and building a whole new system that overcomes all these inequalities, without turning out the lights on dissent and debate. What’s truly “extreme” is the world we’re living in! And what’s crazy is to allow this system to perpetrate its bloodshed here and around the world—and for masses of people to senselessly shed each others blood—for even one more day!

We called on students who are passionate about all this to look deeply into the cause of these problems, and the solution. At the same time, we called on everyone who refuses to accept a fascist America to unite now, to do what they did in Puerto Rico and Hong Kong, and get in the streets demanding Trump/Pence OUT NOW! We ended by speaking to the crucial role of students, either burying their heads in their books while the world burns, or bringing their energy and creativity to the forefront of the struggle.

The students gave us a round of applause. And after class about 12 stayed to talk. Some of them had an almost uncontainable excitement about meeting us, and each other. One student said she’s constantly thinking about these things, but doesn’t have anyone to talk to about it. She really thinks we have to go out there, stir shit up and make people uncomfortable, but has felt kind of helpless to do that on her own. Another student, originally from Mexico, said that after Trump was elected her mom told her to stay inside and play it safe, which she thought was bullshit. This group had a lot of questions about how to have an impact, given how hard it is to convince people to act, when most people are just looking out for themselves. But through the conversation they came to see how acting together as a group, and not just through one-on-one conversations, can change the equation. Almost everyone raised their hands when I asked people if they were planning to be there October 19. Then I asked people to raise their hand if they wanted to be a Revolution Club “organizer.” Four students enthusiastically raised their hands. Each of them took pictures of all the sign-ups, and they made a plan to start a group chat and a Facebook event. Since then, they’ve been in touch with each other and are working to get people from their school to the action on the 19th.

The professor had a lot of good questions—about revolutionary leadership, the experience of the Black Panther Party, the new communism vs the old communism—which we got into over Thai food after. He was really happy about how things went, most especially because of how much students participated, and how unleashed they were afterward.

Trailer from Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution
Watch the whole speech
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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/fort-worth-for-crime-of-being-black-execution-by-police-en.html

Fort Worth:

For the "Crime" of Being Black, Playing Video Games with Your Nephew, Open Doors: Immediate Execution by Police

| revcom.us

 

Atatiana Koquice Jefferson, known as Tay, was a “cool auntie.” In the wee hours of Saturday, October 12, she was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew. Tay was only 28 years old with her whole life in front of her. She had moved in to take care of her ailing mother. After getting a BA degree in biology she was studying to apply for medical school. But these dreams were horrifically slammed shut when a murdering cop shot through the window, killing Atatiana.

A neighbor had called the Fort Worth police, concerned because the doors of Atatiana’s home were open. Cops arrive and start slinking around the house. One white cop, Aaron Dean, without identifying himself, looks into a window, gun drawn, and yells, “Put up your hands up! Show me your hands!" Two seconds later, he fires. 

2019 isn’t even over and the Fort Worth police have now already shot and killed seven people. Hundreds have come out to protest this particularly outrageous police murder. Many are drawing parallels to how Botham Jean was murdered by a white Dallas cop who entered Jean’s apartment by mistake.

Such cold-blooded police murders happen all the time because of this system – a system that criminalizes Black and Brown people, unjustly arrests and locks up so many, and allows the pigs to wantonly kill with no punishment.

Killer cop Dean resigned after he was initially put on “administrative leave.” Then late on Monday, after this cold-blooded murder became a national news story, and after outrage around the country, Dean was arrested, charged with murder, and put in jail.

Cops recorded this with a body cam. Lots of good that did! They claim a legally owned gun was somewhere in the house. But even if true, so what? There is absolutely no evidence that this legally owned gun had anything to do with what happened. This cop says he felt “threatened” – which is the routine justification that allows pigs to get away with murder by simply saying they encountered a Black person and felt in danger.

Ask yourself this, if you haven't already asked yourself hundreds of times:

What kind of system executes people for playing a video game with their nephew late at night?

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/attorney-general-barr-is-an-outright-theocrat-en.html

Attorney General Barr, the Top Law Enforcement Agent in the U.S.: An Outright Theocrat

| revcom.us

 

At a speech delivered at the University of Notre Dame’s law school (!) on Friday, October 11,  Attorney General William Barr denounced “ so-called progressives” and “secularists” as the cause of major problems of today’s society. “Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence and a deadly drug epidemic.” Really?! The fact is that it is the workings of the system of capitalism-imperialism, its values and mandates of dog-eat-dog rank individualism that are at the root of these problems. But in a vision that comes straight out of the founders of the fascist state of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale, Barr makes the claim that “This is organized destruction.  Secularists and their allies have marshalled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.” 

To cut to the quick, these are the rantings of a Christian Fascist who occupies the position of chief law enforcer making the case for reasserting the Christian religion as the guiding ideology and establishing it as the dominant, official religion in society.  The First Amendment is supposed to guarantee that the government will not establish any religion.  While this has often been violated, over the past several decades this has gone to a whole other level and it is now this freedom that is in fact subject to an “unremitting assault.”  This speech by Barr—coming from the nation’s highest law officer—represents a serious escalation of that “unremitting assault.”  This goes along with the administration’s repeated legal suits, filings and administrative regulations that actually impose religious views on women, LGBTQ people, Muslims, atheists, and others—and in these cases particularly oppressive views. Barr is claiming to be making a case for religious liberty, decrying the ways that Christians have been blocked from imposing their religious creed and values on everyone in all spheres of public and private life.  But he is actually making a brazen and dangerous assault on freedom from a state-established religion.  And doing so at a law school no less, where legal standards and training of future lawyers, prosecutors, and judges are being propagated! 

Bob Avakian makes clear the danger of this in his film The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! In discussing the dangers of fascism in all its dimensions, he speaks to this question.  “While the Constitution does establish the separation of church and state—and the Christian Fascists are wrong, or simply lying, when they insist that the founding documents of this country established it as a ‘Christian nation’—the reality is that Christianity has all along been the unofficial state religion of this country, and the country’s identity, throughout its history, has been as a ‘white Christian nation,’ grounded in male supremacy as well as white supremacy and driven by a ‘manifest destiny’ to dominate not only the continent of North America but ultimately the world as a whole.” The fascists at the helm of the Trump/Pence regime are seeking to establish a Christian theocracy which they will impose with violence and horrors for humanity if they are not stopped. 

What Barr is arguing for is being upheld in courts across the land.  While Congressman Ted Lieu tweeted in response to Barr’s speech: “I’m just a simple Catholic. But even I know your job is to enforce the law, not the Bible. We are a Constitutional Republic, not a theocracy. Do your job instead of being a full on conspiracy theorist,” why didn’t anyone else in the Democratic Party make the point that this is totally unacceptable in an Attorney General, that such a speech (which was clearly a very well-considered and major speech) is grounds for disqualification for his position, and that this whole thing shows the danger represented not just by Trump but by Mike Pence and the rest of the Christian fascist movement that permeates this regime? 

While there is a broad swath of people in society who sense what is going on here, most are recoiling from calling it out for what it is.  All those who are horrified by what is happening in this country and want to see it stopped, need to get clear on this, and not stand by hoping that the normal workings of this system will correct this.   If you do not want Gilead, get with the movement calling for #OUT NOW! The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!

Now More Than Ever!

See excerpts and the Q&A of this film

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/ucla5-trial-a-righteous-verdict-en.html

#UCLA5 Trial: A Righteous Verdict Shows Wellspring of Anger and Potential

| revcom.us

 

Four members of Refuse Fascism, LA and the Revolution Club were just found NOT GUILTY in a case that should’ve never gone to trial. They were facing up to TWO YEARS in jail for speaking out when the fascist Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin came to speak at UCLA.

How this happened is a story of people taking a stand against oppression, coming under unjust attack, and using every avenue they had—including the procedures of the courtroom itself—to carry that struggle forward. The fact that they were charged at all shows how late the hour is getting; the way that they won indicates that there is still time to reverse the march toward fascism.

Why were they arrested?

In February 2018, Steve Mnuchin was speaking at UCLA to a rowdy room of protesters hissing and booing. These included students, faculty and even a two-person theater troupe dressed as Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI who passed out cake before the event in reference to Marie Antoinette’s cruel response to starving peasants, “let them eat cake.” Throughout his speech, Mnuchin engaged the audience, demanding to know why they were hissing and informally polling them about sanctions and wages. At one point, Mnuchin asked someone why they were hissing and they answered, “because you’re full of shit.” About 15 minutes in, three revolutionaries, including a UCLA student and an alum, spoke out exposing the role Mnuchin is playing as a member of Trump’s cabinet, the real world impact of his tax bill and sanctions that were being imposed on North Korea. No one else who protested was silenced, but within seconds of speaking, the revolutionaries were warned by UCLA administrators to stay quiet. We found out later that Louis XVI stood up and yelled out after Mnuchin’s speech, “All hail the foreclosure king!” and was able to get his point across. After less than 60 seconds, each of the revolutionaries was forcibly picked up and dragged out of their seats by the UCPD on the instructions of UCLA administrators. They were roughed up and bruised in the arrest and charged with disturbing the peace and resisting arrest.

Two other members of the Revolution Club were outside, alerting people to the arrests that had taken place inside, and they too were targeted and arrested with no warning. These two later had all charges dropped because they had committed no crime!

The defendants were given a seven day ban from campus which they defied to participate in a March 1 student protest, 11 minutes of silence for 11 million undocumented immigrants and again, several days later, to see the whistleblower Chelsea Manning speak on campus. Because of this, two of the defendants were also facing charges of “trespassing” in violation of this ban.

The LA City Attorney filed these charges six months later, simultaneously with charges from separate incidents from the Fall of 2017 when members of Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club blocked morning rush hour traffic on the 101 Freeway in downtown LA, with a 50 foot banner that said: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go! See the sidebar on the upcoming Freeway9 cases. At the time, a total of 57 charges were brought against 11 defendants. This was a coordinated attempt to harass and criminalize these activists, bringing down charges with significant jail time. This was an outright political prosecution of people for their radical politics in an attempt to silence members of the Revolution Club and Refuse Fascism and intimidate people from joining with them or taking similar actions—a chilling silencing of protest and dissent in a time of consolidating fascism.

The filing of these charges, and overall prosecution of these cases, is also a product of an LAPD investigation that was run by the Anti-Terrorist Division/Major Crimes Division, which sent an infiltrator into Refuse Fascism meetings to spy on and record meetings and private conversations.  The Revolution Club has also been targeted at UCLA. Police reports revealed the UCPD was surveilling the Revolution Club, recording their activities and the license plate of someone with the Club when on campus carrying out constitutionally protected political organizing. The LAPD spying operation was approved by the Chief of Police along with a number of other high-ranking pigs. What we are still working to determine, and what all people concerned with civil liberties should demand be investigated, is the level of coordination in all this, with the City Attorney and other high-ranking officials in the Democratic-controlled LA City government, and how high up all this went.

What all this does reveal is how the people most determined to stand up to STOP this fascist regime—have been targeted for surveillance and repression, persecution and prosecution.

Political Persecution

As the accompanying story A Thoroughly Political Prosecution shows, the whole way these charges were brought and the case was prosecuted was on a political basis—in opposition to the prosecution’s claims that this was a cut and dried criminal case.

A highly politicized courtroom

The proceedings were interesting from Day One. The whole process of jury selection (also known as voir dire) was very political and polarized. There were 60 prospective jurors from West LA, mainly professionals of all ages with some mix of nationalities.

While a few jurors spoke in favor of Trump, most had a visceral reaction against the whole administration. Some of the jurors spoke outright, “if this is a protest against Trump, I can’t be neutral.” One woman spoke in depth how her father was tortured in a concentration camp because of his political beliefs. She argued that sometimes you have to break the law and step outside of what’s acceptable to leave future generations with a better world.

In answering a question about her views on law enforcement, an older Black woman talked about what it means to be a Black person in America. She said she had friends who were cops but she has some bias against the police just from being a person of color in this country. In relation to free speech, she talked about the dangers right now because people are acting violently inspired by what others are saying, and pointed to the church shooting in Charlotte. When asked if she would decide based on what the law is she replied, “That laws are always changing. And that some laws were made to be broken. If people break some laws, it’s because they’re trying to make a change because there is something that needs to be changed.” She talked about how the role of a jury sometimes is not to hold the defendant to the letter of the law because it is the law that is wrong, not the defendants. Needless to say, she was kicked off the jury. But her comments helped impact the whole room.

A major question running through the whole voir dire was people’s views towards protest. Several people said protest was ok, “if it doesn’t inconvenience me.” For example, a travel agent complained about protests in India or Hong Kong because it was such a big professional inconvenience. A few people talked about the inconvenience of traffic jams caused by protest. But many more talked about the need for protest, including protest that steps outside the bounds of what society at that point believes “acceptable” in order to make change. One man who ended up being on the jury, when asked if he was a protester, answered, “I wish I had that much passion.”

Coming to a verdict

In coming to a not guilty verdict, the jurors felt they decided based on what the evidence showed—that the charges were illegitimate, that the defendants did not commit a crime, and even more that what they did was righteous.

A few of the jurors said they began to understand what the trial was really about when the defendants took the stand. They were not sure the defendants would testify and that all of them did was important. They got to know who these people were and why they did what they did and the jurors told us how impressed they were by the confidence and eloquence of the defendants. As one juror said, “you were not just passionate, but determined to really end these injustices.” Through the testimony, the cross-examination and the defense they came to understand why the protests took place with such urgency and what the stakes were in this trial.

A number of the jurors were upset this case was even brought to trial, and felt the civil rights of the defendants were violated. One juror said her jaw literally dropped when she watched Tala yanked out of her seat by the UCPD at the Mnuchin event, and that the whole thing upset her to tears.

Not only did ALL 12 jurors recognize that protesting fascism is not a crime, many of them were profoundly inspired. After the verdict was read, at least five jurors came out of the jury box with tears in their eyes, hugging the defendants and thanking them for what they did. One juror wants to join Refuse Fascism, and came to see through the trial why people need to act. After the trial, some of the jurors also talked about the impact the defendants’ testimony had on them. First, that all the defendants testified at all, when the jurors know this isn’t a requirement.

Some of the jurors also commented on the relationship the Defendants forged with their attorneys. The warmth and respect among the lawyers and Defendants shone through, including the rarity of this being a collective effort. In the courtroom itself, the lawyers worked as a team: cross-examining witnesses not only in relationship to “their clients” but to show the illegitimacy of the charges as a whole. They did this even after being reprimanded by the judge. This was different than the “every person for themselves” ethos that usually predominates with every lawyer defending ONLY their client. The whole defense team was acting with right, and truth, on their side and they treated the government’s case as having no legitimacy at all. The legal team included people with a lot of experience fighting political cases and others with none of this experience—but the combination of insights, legal knowledge and creativity, openness to learn from others and a continued re-grounding in the stakes and political nature of these cases forged something very powerful.

A Critical Lesson

Two years ago, these defendants acted with a farsightedness about the dangers of this regime and what the people need to do in the face of this. As they were being arrested, one of the defendants spoke to the audience: “Don’t be people who normalize or be a part of going along with this.” They called on people to act commensurate with the extreme danger of this regime: “We need to drive this fascist regime from power. And unite everyone who can be united, right now, in the streets... We refuse to accept a fascist America. Trump and Pence must go!”

They stood up when others didn’t. For this, they’ve been targeted, surveilled, harassed, brutalized, arrested and dragged into court. But in doing this, they began to break open a different dynamic: inspiring people broadly to stand with them and act themselves. There is a powerful lesson here on what can be broken open if you do not back down in the face of repression—and instead take your struggle to the people.


UCLA defendants

Now More Than Ever!

See excerpts and the Q&A of this film

Outrageously, the Freeway9 cases are still pending, with hearings on October 21 and October 29. This includes two defendants who already went to trial ending in a hung jury with nine voting for acquittal. They are facing up to THREE YEARS in jail for sounding the alarm against fascism and instead of being celebrated, City Attorney Mike Feuer and the LAPD has harassed, surveilled and persecuted these heroes. Enough! Call Feuer to demand these illegitimate charges be dropped, 213.978.8100 or message @Mike_Feuer. Contribute to the legal and political defense. Spread this on social media.

A Thoroughly Political Prosecution

This level of political targeting, including major violations of the basic rights of the defendants, came to light throughout the trial.

• Despite the repeated claims from the prosecution that this was not a prosecution based on the politics of the defendants—and that the case was “as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich” —the prosecutor repeatedly brought in the political mission of the Revolution Club in her cross-examination of the defendants and in her closing arguments. Instead of just talking about the crimes that the defendants were alleged to have committed, she brought in all these questions about their political views and motivations. She asked about people’s nicknames, their membership in the Revolution Club, the fact that the defendants are communists and brought in the content of their social media. The defendants, working with their lawyers, were able to turn the tables on this and expose—in open court—why they stood up against Mnuchin, why they’re on a mission to bring a whole better world into being, why they are motivated  to act  in the interests of the people of the world, why they felt so urgently compelled to stop a fascist regime and why this case was proof that what is being assembled in this regime is a DIFFERENT form of rule—one where the people will have no rights. All this inspired the jury—who through the case the defense presented came to understand the stakes of this case, and the need to protect the right to political protest.

• The whole political premise of the trial—that the defendants were preventing Mnuchin from exercising his rights by disagreeing with him! —turns the meaning of free speech on its head. The First Amendment forbids the state from suppressing speech. To prevent disagreement, even vociferous disagreement, with representatives of the state turns the whole thing upside down. It’s like saying if demonstrators chanted down Adolf Hitler or the racist Jim Crow Governor George Wallace they should have been dragged from the hall by police and jailed—which is in fact exactly what Donald Trump has called for in every fascist rally he has held.

• In the trial, three UCLA administrators testified for the prosecution, justifying a new UCLA policy and “arrest protocols” for controversial events. The UCLA Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Life testified that he initiated the arrests of the defendants according to a new UCLA protocol. The UCPD cops who made the arrest testified that they did not know what law had been broken, making the arrests on the say so of the UCLA administrators! This is a violation of basic police protocol. The #UCLA5 case is a test case for this new UCLA policy, a test case of a protocol that is unconstitutional and will be implemented to silence protest that dares to challenge fascism which has now ascended to power.

• The very same prosecutor trying this case held a meeting with UCLA administrators about how to handle free speech on campuses AFTER the defendants were arrested at the Mnuchin event. Again showing that the University—which should be protecting the rights of its students—is actively working with law enforcement to suppress and criminalize protest against the Trump/Pence fascist regime. This is facilitating, instead of stopping, fascism and the gutting of the First Amendment. THIS is how these protocols are being used—NOT to protect free speech but to shut down dissent. As defendant Atlas Winfrey put it, “you might as well go home and scream into your pillow because that is what they’re telling you is the only appropriate time, manner and place to protest. We’re in a situation where the ground from which we can oppose this fascism is being destroyed.”

• In a dramatic turn of events that brought the trial to a halt right before closing arguments, the prosecution revealed new evidence that forced the judge to dismiss the resisting arrest charges. The evidence included photos taken by the UCPD of bruises and scrapes on the two defendants that had been charged with resisting arrest and audio recordings that show the defendants were never read their Miranda rights even after they requested the right to speak to an attorney! This evidence proves that at least five UCPD cops lied on the stand when they claimed there was no evidence of police brutality against the defendants. Even though the jury had heard the lies from the UCPD, they were not allowed to hear why the charges they lied about were dropped or to see this new evidence. Also, the judge denied the motion for a mistrial, which the defense attorneys fought hard for.

• The judge erased an important reference to the First Amendment in the law in his jury instructions. In the trespassing law that two of the defendants were said to have violated, the law itself makes clear this does not apply when people are exercising their First Amendment rights. The judge ruled that the jury was not allowed to consider this aspect of the law in their deliberation! This was all the more outrageous because in the prosecutor’s closing arguments, she said that after all, this was a First Amendment case and the defendants violated Steve Mnuchin’s First Amendment rights by making a substantive argument in opposition to his fascist bullshit!

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/trump-revenge-video-is-not-a-joke-en.html

The Trump Revenge Video Is NOT A Joke.
Don't Shrug It Off.

| revcom.us

 

Imagine this: Donald Trump walks into a church filled with scores of his political opponents and members of the media and single-handedly annihilates them, killing each one individually and glorying in the revenge he takes.

This was the video shown at a recent pro-Trump conference, attended by Trump Junior and Sarah Sanders and held at a Trump hotel in Miami. The existence of the video leaked over a week later. Sanders and Junior said they hadn’t seen it, with Sanders issuing an innocuous statement that she does not “support violence of any kind against anyone.” The White House said that Trump himself “strongly condemns” the video—but everyone knows that if Trump really feels something, he puts it out on Twitter, which he has not done.

These “sorry, not sorry responses” show that this sick and sadistic video expresses something that runs very deep in the fascist, pro-Trump/Pence base: the strong feeling that their opponents constitute a mortal threat that must be annihilated. The hardcore followers of Trump see a world in which they do not reign supreme and unchallenged as intolerable, and this video tells them—and tells us, if we will listen—that they must stop at nothing to preserve it. Such a base can easily dominate and do worse to an opposition that outnumbers them, even vastly outnumbers them, but cannot match their passion and organization.

The question we immediately face is this: can those who oppose this fascism be won to see that a world in which the destruction of the environment is not just allowed to proceed but further fueled... in which the nuclear codes are carried everyday by a narcissistic bully... in which immigrants are put in concentration camps and children are ripped from their parents, women are subjugated and LGBTQ people are denied human rights, Black people and Latinos are spoken of as sub-human and treated as enemies and aliens, critical thinking and evidence-based conclusions are assaulted, and the twin values of money-uber-alles and religious fanaticism are further enshrined while dissent is criminalized... is not just bad, but intolerable and indeed a direct and mortal threat to the existence of humanity?

A regime, a movement, like the one now in power is not going to be beholden to constitutions or elections that they can proclaim as rigged if the results do not suit them. They have told us that.

So, again, the question is whether those who do oppose this regime and what it stands for will be provoked and challenged to recognize or face this truth and confront it more deeply, and be inspired to take massive, nonviolent, sustained action to actually drive out this regime? The experience in Algeria, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, and elsewhere over these past few years shows that such action can compel the fall of a regime. It must be done here. The “norms” which this regime has so relentlessly shredded cannot be relied upon to meet this threat.

The demonstrations over these next five weeks that build Saturday after Saturday —demonstrations which must draw in and give hope and energy to those who are under assault by this regime or sickened by what it does—will determine the answer. There is not someone else or some other force or some limit that these fascists recognize that will save humanity. It is you—it is us.

Now More Than Ever!

See excerpts and the Q&A of this film

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/ucla-values-free-speech-until-you-use-it-to-oppose-fascism-en.html

UCLA Values Free Speech...
Until You Use it to Oppose Fascism

| revcom.us

 

When a member of Trump’s fascist cabinet comes to campus, UCLA rolls out the red carpet. When people oppose him, UCLA makes sure they’re prosecuted.

What does free speech mean to the university when, in a test of a new policy for “events that trigger protest,” three members of the Revolution Club and Refuse Fascism LA are on trial, criminally charged, some facing over two years in jail, simply for speaking out during a speech by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin?

Last February, As Mnuchin bragged about imposing murderous sanctions that exacerbated the effects of drought in North Korea and prevented people from receiving proper medical treatment in Iran—my co-defendants and I called out his crimes against humanity, including the crimes of his fascist Tax Bill. We challenged the audience to take up the call of RefuseFascism.org to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power through sustained nonviolent mass resistance, like they did in Puerto Rico when they drove out their hated governor with 15 days of protests.

For this, we were forcibly removed from our seats and arrested. Video of this incident went viral when Mnuchin tried to suppress the footage, and UCLA went along until the Society of Professional Journalists filed a public records request because this was, after all, a public event with a government official speaking in that capacity!

 

This op-ed was CENSORED by the Daily Bruin

A year later, we find out we are charged with several misdemeanor crimes: trespass, resisting arrest, disturbing the peace, and defying an illegitimate 7-day ban from the campus. We defied this ban to participate in a March 1 student protest, 11 minutes of silence for 11 million undocumented immigrants and again, several days later, to see the heroic whistleblower Chelsea Manning speak. This was in violation of our right to freedom of speech and assembly, acting as a prior restraint on our ability to exercise this.

Through the process of investigation, we found that UCPD arrested us on the say so of Vice Chancellor of Campus Affairs, Mick Deluca, rather than on the basis of probable cause. This is unconstitutional! UCLA also pushed for the criminal charges, taking advice from a Zionist legal organization trying to effectively criminalize any speech criticizing Israel and the genocide they are waging on Palestine—advice which they repurposed to persecute revolutionary communists. AND UCLA administrators testified against us during trial.

That’s not all. Police reports reveal that UCPD stalked the Revolution Club, recording our activities and even license plate numbers on several occasions when we were on campus carrying out constitutionally protected speech and simply talking to people—occasions completely unrelated to the incidents for which we are being charged. This is in addition to the LAPD sending an informant into the meetings of Refuse Fascism in broader LA. Did UCLA green light this Orwellian surveillance as well?

Toward the end of the trial, resisting arrest charges were dropped because they suppressed evidence proving the police brutalized us and lied about it on the stand, claiming we resisted arrests and that there was no evidence of police brutality against us. This new evidence included photos taken by the UCPD of our injuries, use of force reports and audio recordings of interviews with us.  Further exposing the illegitimacy of these prosecutions, the interviews were conducted by the UCPD without reading us our Miranda rights and even continued despite someone asking for an attorney. 

These cases are criminalizing constitutionally protected protest and speech while the Trump/Pence fascist regime threatens humanity, gutting the rule of law, stacking the courts with fascists, rounding up immigrants—consolidating a fascist America.

In the face of all this, universities across the country are complicit, spending millions protecting the free speech of fascists with the bully pulpit of the president, and criminalizing ANTI-fascist protest and speech of students without the societal megaphone to amplify our voices and without the state power to enforce our dictates.

In March, Trump signed an Executive Order aimed at carving out more space for fascist speakers and giving backing to a movement of Nazi youth. This is in an atmosphere where professors are put on watch lists by student organizations with ties to the highest office, where they are reported by right-wing students, amplified by hysterical fascist media unleashing a swarm of internet trolls—all working to drive critical thinking out of academia. Evolution, climate science, the truth about America’s history and its role in the world today, Ethnic Studies and anything evidence-based is under assault.

Instead of saying NO, the universities are facilitating the suppression of dissent and normalizing a fascist remaking of the country. Apparently UCLA wants to be at the helm of trampling radical thought. Students, which side are you on?


Martin Heidegger Award—print and distribute (PDF)

Flyer—print and distribute (PDF)

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/outnow-reflections-from-the-national-revolution-tour-en.html

#OUTNOW...Reflections from a member of the National Revolution Tour

| revcom.us

 

The National Revolution Tour has been throwing all-in with Refuse Fascism and its plan for October 19 to demand THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO—NOW! We have done a lot of work on the trains of New York, which are a main artery and the heartbeat to the city, where people from all walks of life travel. We have been stirring the air, and this has attracted many people to check this out and to turn their heads to this. 

We have been wrestling and struggling every day over organizing. What does it look like to organize as revolutionary communists, who are throwing in to drive out this fascist regime? How do we sum up what we are doing in relation to the revolution we need? How does this all go through a scientific process that we can bring out to the masses of people to bring them into the problems of driving out a fascist regime AND the revolution we need? How should we work with the youth in a way, where we are not “The Answer People,” answering every question they have to entrust them that we actually know what we are doing, and we have an answer to every question they have, as opposed to bringing forward people to come through a process where they are put to getting into the same questions that we are grappling over, because we actually don’t have all of the answers? Are we proceeding from the largest interests of humanity, or are we starting with tactics? And how do you deal with the fact there are different organizations out there that are leading people to drive out Trump, and they are much more organized than we are? How can we unite with such forces, as we understand that their solutions will not lead toward ending any of outrages they are resisting against?

There is a dynamic process that is needed to make revolution. The masses make history, but not without scientific leadership. Taking up the problems of the revolution and going to work on that, as many more are doing the same, is a part of making revolution. This is the strategy we need. It’s not a gimmick to trick people to think they are a part of a process, but by doing active investigation, we can unleash a lot of creativity and initiative out of the solid core that we do have, and then people who are getting to work on these problems, actually become a part of a scientific process. It’s not about asking questions for the sake of bopping people on the heads with the right answer. Just think about how people are educated and indoctrinated in this society under its academic institutions where you’re trained to just get the “right answer.” Working with ideas and theory is very important, but under this system, all of that just gets suffocated and becomes so suffocating. Just go out and ask these students what their academic lives are like!

And so, we need a dynamic process, one that is modeled over and over by BA, and in particular the Q&A from Chicago he had about the gangs. It’s not like we’re starting from scratch. This National Tour has learned a lot, especially about what it looks like to apply the strategy developed by BA. On a much more larger level, up to this point, humanity has learned a lot, and there is an accumulated knowledge up to this point, including why this system cannot be reformed and must be overthrown, and how we can really make revolution. However, this National Tour has not made the breakthrough it needs to make in accumulating forces for revolution in a geometric fashion and in putting BA and The New Communism on the map. As there is an immediate and urgent need to act on those who are agonizing over what this fascist regime has been doing, many people can be won to wanting to put a stop to the 5 Stops and to get with the 6 Points of Attention for the Revolution. All of this requires fierce struggle over the 2 Choices. The more we are more bold and “completely outrageous” in our agitation over the reality we face and the possibility and desirability and viability of a whole different world and we are the bridge to that world (as there does exist a Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America), the more we can get this dynamic process out there and the “OHIO” moving, first in the tens and hundreds, impacting further and accumulating more.

It is no small thing to take up what Refuse Fascism has called “this great cause” of driving out a fascist regime. We have the lessons of the past of people waiting fascism out, including communists who said “After Hitler, Us,” who were awaiting such conditions for a fascist to be out of power from some illusion that it will one day be “our turn,” because we are so morally deserving of it. NO, we are dealing with objective reality with all of its motion and changingness, and fascism doesn’t just turn over its power spontaneously or by some other force. We, in our masses, only through mass determined protest can drive this thing out, and we have to have the right strategy and scientific approach to doing this, not with a guarantee, but through our collectivity and our science and scientific leadership, along with the masses of people taking that up, can we ever have a chance at driving out this fascist regime, as we do need to unite with many different forces with entirely different frameworks and outlooks but with the unifying demand: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go—NOW! That is the responsibility that is being called on all of us who call ourselves revolutionaries.

 

Bob Avakian On Revolution And The Fight Against Fascism

Watch BA's whole speech
Watch clips from speech

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/why-you-should-and-should-not-feel-ashamed-of-america-en.html

Why You Should—and Should NOT—Feel Ashamed of America—and What You Can Do About It

| revcom.us

 

A lot of people say that the way in which Trump hung the Kurds in Syria out to dry makes them ashamed to be an American. And in fact the way in which America has played the Kurds—and not just this time, but over many decades—is shameful. (See this piece on revcom.us.)

But if you’re ashamed because America “broke its word,” do you think this is something new, or somehow unusual? Then you need to think about America’s whole history with the Native American Indians, in which treaty after treaty after treaty was broken when it suited white America’s interests. 

If you’re ashamed because you somehow think the U.S. is on the side of right in Syria, then no. Forget it. The U.S. "special forces"1 were there as part of America’s imperialist project to dominate the region of the Middle East—and if you think that’s been good for the people of that region, you should look into the history of Palestine, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, and on down the line, where the toll of those killed, wounded, exiled, imprisoned or otherwise destroyed and ground up in the service of one U.S. “effort” or another easily mounts into the tens of millions and beyond. If you identify with this country and want something to be ashamed about? Then be ashamed of the way the U.S. under both Obama and Trump has supported the Saudi Arabian war against Yemen, in which the American ally has used U.S. military and intelligence support to kill thousands of Yemeni children, create the worst cholera epidemic in recent history, and put over a million people on the edge of starvation.

The particular troops removed from Syria were pulled because one faction of your rulers thought that removing them would better serve that project and those imperialist interests, and other very powerful factions did not. Now they’re having a fierce argument over that, and you’re being marshaled on one side of it. Don’t be.

Those crimes in the Middle East are just one part of the towering crimes committed in every corner of the planet by “the shining city on a hill.” And go to the American Crime series which gives some sense of the horrific scope of this. 

But go further. Stop identifying with this country and take the step to identify with humanity. As Bob Avakian has said,

If you can conceive of a world without America—without everything America stands for and everything it does in the world—then you’ve already taken great strides and begun to get at least a glimpse of a whole new world. If you can envision a world without any imperialism, exploitation, oppression—and the whole philosophy that rationalizes it—a world without division into classes or even different nations, and all the narrow-minded, selfish, outmoded ideas that uphold this; if you can envision all this, then you have the basis for proletarian internationalism. And once you have raised your sights to all this, how could you not feel compelled to take an active part in the world historic struggle to realize it; why would you want to lower your sights to anything less? (BAsics 1:31)

 


1. So-called special forces refer to a corps of highly trained killers not subject to the discipline of even ordinary U.S. troops in their freedom to inflict mayhem and horror on anyone in their way, whether soldier or civilian.  [back]

Oil, Power and Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda.

See:

Excerpts on Imperialism and the Kurdish People

from Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire—Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda

Read more

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/617/open-letter-to-bernie-supporters-en.html

An Open Letter To Bernie Supporters:

| revcom.us

 

An earlier version of this letter was handed out at Bernie Sanders' October 19 New York City rally.

You are here because you want to see a more just world. So do we.

You may also be here because on some level you get that the regime now in power is fascist, and you think campaigning for Bernie is an answer to that.

So we need to talk.

Two points:

One, the world that Bernie says he is fighting for is a more just world... for Americans.

But America grinds up billions of people in the global south to produce the wealth of this country. America suppresses them when they dare to rise up against a regime which the U.S. supports. America plunders the environments of these countries to far more devastating effect. America uses a small portion of the riches it gorges on as crumbs for the masses in this country—crumbs that amount to real privilege. This—the howling gap between America (and imperialist powers like America) and the rest of the world—is the most significant inequality and privilege there is. Bernie wants a bigger share of the crumbs from that. Is that what YOU want?

Bernie not only does not question these relations, he speaks of “national security”—a code word for the enforcement and expansion of that horror. Bernie supports human-killing economic sanctions against Venezuela. Bernie supported Israel’s violent, genocidal military assaults against the people of Gaza over the past decade. Do you want “national security”? Or do you want an end to the world where America does whatever it takes to maintain its empire and rains down death on whoever gets in the way of that? “National security” is nothing but the national interests of the imperialist ruling class.

Face it. Bernie’s dream of a fairer American empire for the people in the U.S. may make life easier for some people in the U.S. But why let yourself be constrained by the choices that they put before you? If humanity is to be emancipated, if revolution is to be REAL, that empire must be brought down.

Two, the overriding issue facing humanity right now is the existence of a fascist regime in the White House bent on consolidating its rule. Yes, in the October candidates’ debate, Sanders said impeachment is necessary—but only because of “national security” (there’s that phrase again) and the emoluments clause. First off, far from “violating national security,” as Bernie charged, Trump is promoting an even more violent strategy to defend America, with stepped-up nuclear weapon development and breaking out of nuclear treaties.

But more to the point: What about the children in concentration camps at the border? The virtually open calls for a white supremacist America? The encouragement Trump openly gives to police brutality? The Christian-fascist and misogynist attacks on the rights of women to control their own bodies and the similarly “inspired” assaults of the Justice Department and other arms of the regime against LGBTQ rights? The headlong daily acceleration of environmental destruction? The violations of the rule of law, the evisceration of the public school system in favor of religious, especially Christian-fascist, schools, the attacks on science itself, and on criticism? These are FASCIST deeds of a FASCIST regimeand fascism is a word that Bernie refuses to use. If Bernie were around in the 1930s, would he oppose Hitler for his “corruption” and the notion that he wasn’t defending German “national security,” and would he offer to work with him on “infrastructure” projects? Would YOU?

Look, the situation with the fascist regime now in the White House is urgent. If it weathers the storm and consolidates, this would devastate and cripple and very possibly wipe out for a long time any struggle for justice. It could, in fact, mean the extinction of humanity. But if people in their millions succeed in removing it through massive struggle from below, the horizons would expand in ways we can barely imagine right now.

If you are relying on the elections to change this, think about this: The cabal of Trumpite white supremacist/American chauvinist and Christian-fascist theocrats now in power have said that this is their “last chance.” Do you really think that these fascists will just go along with it if the impeachment or the election go against them? And if they don’t—then what? Again: think. Hard.

There is a movement, right now, gathering every Saturday and aiming to grow to something on the order of Puerto Rico or Hong Kong, demanding that in the name of humanity, the Trump/Pence fascist regime must be driven OUT NOW. And then... it’s on. You are needed in this movement, urgently. Learn about this at Refusefascism.org. Join this.

And if you really want a world in which not just Americans but all of humanity overcome the fetters of capitalism—then get into Bob Avakian, BA, who has brought forward a new communism. BA is not about crumbs for one section of one people, but a real revolution aiming at the overthrow of the capitalist-imperialist system and the emancipation of all humanity. Read the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which he wrote. Or watch his film Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.

There's a huge struggle that needs to be waged. See you on the front lines.

www.revcom.us @tuneintorevcom

 

 

Trailer from Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution
Watch the whole speech
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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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