revcom.us, November 11, 2019 through November 17, 2019 (#621)

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Hope For Humanity
On A Scientific Basis

Breaking with Individualism,
Parasitism and American Chauvinism

Bob Avakian
Author of The New Communism

Prepublication copy
November 2019

Copyright © 2019 by Bob Avakian. All rights reserved.

This is an important new work by Bob Avakian, from which the excerpt "Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of 'Painless Progress,'" which has been posted on this site since the summer of 2019, has been drawn. Excerpts from this talk are available here.

Hope For Humanity
On A Scientific Basis

Breaking with Individualism,
Parasitism and American Chauvinism

Bob Avakian
Author of The New Communism

This is an important new work by Bob Avakian, from which the excerpt "Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of 'Painless Progress,'" which has been posted on this site since the summer of this year, has been drawn.

| revcom.us

 

CONTENTS                              

No Hope—vs. No Permanent Necessity

The Problem of Individualism

Virulent Individualism and Oblivious Individualism

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of “Painless Progress”

Parasitism, American Chauvinism, and Individualism

Identity Politics and Individualism

Individualism and “Indifference”

Particular Interests and General Interests—Differing Class Interests and the Highest Interests of Humanity

Contrasting the Communist with the Capitalist Viewpoint and Approach to Individualism and Individuality

Differing Views on the Meaning of Life, and Death:  What Is Worth Living and Dying For?

Breaking Free of Parasitic Individualism

No Permanent Necessity—and Hope, on a Scientific Basis: A Radically Different and Far Better World Really Is Possible, But It Must Be Fought For!

Notes


 

Lack of real hope for a better life in this world is a heavy chain weighing down, suffocating and deeply scarring the masses of humanity, including the youth who are concentrated in the ghettos and barrios of this country as well as its overflowing torture chamber prisons. And the extreme individualism promoted throughout this society, the obsessive focus on “the self,” has reinforced the heavy lid on the sights of people, obscuring their ability to recognize the possibility of a radically different and better world, beyond the narrow and confining limits of this system, with all its very real horrors. These are the major questions I am going to be speaking to here.

 

No Hope—vs. No Permanent Necessity

First, it’s important to speak to the contrast between today and the 1960s period in this country and in the world overall. At that time, back in the 1960s, masses of people all over the world, including in this country, were filled with hope and determination about the prospect of bringing into being a radically different and better world. Throughout the Third World, there were liberation struggles aimed at throwing off the yoke of colonial oppression that had been imposed on them for decades, generations and even centuries. And in the imperialist countries themselves—including, in particular, the U.S.—the generation that came of age in the 1960s had both the understanding of the need and a real belief in the possibility of bringing a radically different and better world into being, and was not interested in hearing all the arguments about why things had to be the way they are.

This was true among the educated youth, many of whom were among the first in their families to go to college, when things were being opened up by the ruling class because of its needs internationally, punctuated for example by the whole Sputnik episode when the Soviet Union sent a satellite into orbit and, all of a sudden, the U.S. was confronted with the so-called “space race” as part of the overall contention with the Soviet Union, which was itself at that point firmly on the road to restoring capitalism and striving to become a major world imperialist power but was, as such, posing a real challenge to the domination in the world by U.S. imperialism. So there were millions of new educated white youth who in turn were inspired by educated youth who had come from among the basic masses, in particular Black people, and had come to the fore of the civil rights struggle in the 1950s, particularly the late 1950s, and who, in the mid to late 1960s, became much more radicalized and went from civil rights to Black Liberation with a definite revolutionary orientation and impulse, however broadly defined and however differently understood among different people.

And this spread among the basic masses of people, the bitterly oppressed people in this country—Black people, but also Chicanos and others within the confines of the U.S. who’d been long oppressed—so that you had among these basic poor and oppressed people, as well as millions among the middle class educated youth, a desire for a radically different and better world, and a genuinely and strongly held revolutionary sentiment that this whole world needed to be turned upside down, and “We’re not gonna listen to anybody telling us about how ‘this is the best of all possible worlds,’ and we’re not gonna listen to the hypocrisy of the people who have presided over all these horrors all this time.” That was exemplified by the slogan, especially among the educated youth, “Don’t trust anybody over 30,” which, while a little mechanical, nevertheless had a real point: We don’t want to listen to these tired-out old “leaders.”

I remember myself, when I was about 20 (and now I have to look back and think about this as someone who’s gone on for decades after that!—but back when I was 20), I remember going with my father to Washington, D.C. and we went to the House of Representatives. And, at one point, we got into an elevator and all these decrepit old men got in the elevator who were congressmen, and I thought, “My god, these are the people running the country? This can’t stand! This is not what we need!” And this was a sentiment broadly shared in that period. (Of course, Jerry Rubin, one of the leaders of the youth movement of that time, once he became 31, adjusted the slogan to say “Don’t trust anybody over 35.”  Nonetheless, whether 30 or 35, this was a real sentiment.)

Also, I have to say I was shocked when I went into the House of Representatives, because from the civics textbooks and how you’re brought up, I had this image of this very somber chamber, the “hallowed halls” of the House of Representatives. Well, I went in there and I was just amazed by what I saw. Here was some guy giving a speech. There were probably only a dozen people in the House of Representatives at the time, most of whom were doing things like eating and spitting on the floor, and so on. And then all of a sudden a bell rang and everybody came running in and put their hand up for a vote and then went back out again. This was not exactly the august chambers of the great democratic system that you’re taught in civics classes to believe is what’s happening.

So this was a sentiment that wasn’t simply a matter of age. It was more like: These people cannot be allowed to run the world and ruin the world in the way they are. This sentiment was held by millions and millions of poor and oppressed people, but also broadly among the middle class youth. And, as I pointed out in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution,1 by the end of the 1960s this had spread broadly and deeply throughout society, even into the armed forces of the very system, the capitalist-imperialist system, in this country itself. I remember, for example, that there was a poll taken by the military which, among other things, asked the question: whom did the soldiers, rank-and-file soldiers, of the U.S. army look to for political leadership—and, particularly among the Black soldiers, the president of the United States was way down on the list. The plurality, the highest “vote-getter,” if you will, was Eldridge Cleaver, a leader of the Black Panther Party. So when you have things like this, you have a real problem for the system. Even with Eldridge’s weaknesses and limitations, which were very real, this reflected something very, very positive.

As one manifestation of all this, among Black people—who we’re always told are just sort of inherently religious—there was a massive turning away from religion, especially among the youth. Why? Because people were filled with hope, they didn’t believe that there was no hope for a better world. They were full of hope for a better world right in this world. And so, among Black people, there was, on the part of the youth in particular, a major turning away from religion and from all the old conventions that went along with religion that were conservatizing influences holding down the people. Remember, there was Malcolm X, who would give speeches where (even though he was still religious, had taken up Islam) he said to people, “I don’t care” (I’m paraphrasing, but this is the essence of what he said) “I don’t care if you’re a Methodist or a Baptist or AME, or whatever you are, when you come out here into the world you need to leave that religion in the closet, because for all the good it’s done you, you need to put it aside.” Even though Malcolm X was still religious, he wasn’t saying, “Don’t be a Christian, be a Muslim”—he was saying, “We don’t need that stuff out here in the public sphere.” And he also said to the older generations: “These youth today, they don’t wanna hear anything about the odds, they don’t wanna hear you old Uncle Toms telling them about how the odds are against them.” This was a sentiment broadly taken up particularly by the youth, but also some older people. And this was not only among Black people. Malcolm X was a great inspiration and radicalizing influence, a very positive radicalizing influence and inspiration among educated youth, including many in the white middle class.

So this question of religion was manifested very differently. People were turning away from it. If you remember the movie Panther (not the recent movie Black Panther, but the older movie Panther, about the Black Panther Party), there is this scene where one of the youth is talking to his mother, sort of on the periphery of a Black Panther Party rally. The mother says something about religion, and the youth responds along these lines: “Well, the Black Panther Party says we just need to leave that religion alone, it’s not doing us any good, that’s not what we need.”  (I’m paraphrasing again, but that’s the essence of it.) And the mother replies: “You believe that?” Well, a lot of Black youth at that time very much believed it.

Religion is always presented as a source of “hope” or of consolation. But is it really a source of hope—or is it, in essence and in its defining aspect, a paralyzing illusion? Religion holds out the concept of consolation for suffering, and looking to another world and other-worldly forces to get some sort of consolation for all the suffering that people are subjected to, and in order to make it through the day. But the question is: Is what people need consolation for the suffering that they’re put through under this system, or do they need to rise up and abolish the system which embodies and enforces this suffering, and in so doing eliminate the need for consolation for suffering that they’re no longer being put through, the unnecessary suffering they’re being put through? It was pointed out by Ardea Skybreak in the interview Science and Revolution,2 that it’s unrealistic to think that you could ever completely do away with human suffering, but there’s a tremendous amount of unnecessary suffering that people are subjected to in the world today because of the dynamics and the basic relations of this system that dominates the world, the system of capitalist imperialism. And it is definitely possible, and urgently necessary, to put an end to that suffering.

Now, to present a fully accurate, all-sided picture of this, we know that there are many religious people whose religious views and sentiments do inspire and drive them to take stands against and to even sacrifice in the struggle against oppression. And this, of course, should be respected and united with. But, at the same time, that does not eliminate the need for sharp struggle in the ideological realm against the outlook that religion purveys and the role that religion plays as a mental shackle on masses of people, in fact working against their acquiring and systematically and consistently applying a scientific approach to understanding reality, and in particular what it is that’s causing the suffering that the masses of humanity are being subjected to and what is the solution to that. So there’s a need for continuing exposure and struggle around the role of religion ideologically, its role in terms of being a mental shackle on people, even while it’s also necessary to unite with and, yes, respect people who out of religious sentiment or viewpoints take a positive stand and often sacrifice in the struggle against various forms of oppression.

Things are very different, however, with regard to religious fundamentalism—and in particular in this country Christian fundamentalism. The Christian fundamentalists (including the current vice president Mike Pence and others in powerful positions in government, the media, and other major institutions) are a driving force for theocratic fascism (tyrannical rule by Dark Ages religious authority). They adhere to and aggressively propagate unthinking allegiance to and application of religious dogma which, when taken literally (as these Christian fascists insist upon), promotes and will lead to all kinds of atrocities and horrors (as can be seen in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible—something I analyzed in Away With All Gods!).3

In the opening section of the book The New Communism (“Introduction and Orientation”) I spoke to the bitter reality that the masses of oppressed people are afraid to hope:

Afraid to hope that maybe the world doesn’t have to be this way, that maybe there is a way out of this. Afraid to hope, because their hopes have been dashed so many times.4

This is a significant factor in why so many turn to religion—because there does not seem to be any hope for an end, in this world, to the terrible suffering and degradation to which they are continually subjected, which is imposed on them by the functioning of this system but which is also obscured and covered over by the very way this system operates and the role of its institutions, functionaries and enforcers, which systematically act to mislead people as to why the world is the way it is and whether and how it could really be changed, whether and in what way it is possible to put an end  to all this unnecessary suffering.

Here stands out again the great importance of the scientific method and approach of communism, as this has been further developed through the new communism, and the reality and possibility of radical, emancipating change, in this world. In relation to all this, and in particular the question of hope, there is great importance to the following statement by Marx which is cited in Part I of the RCP Manifesto, Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage:

Once the inner connection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions breaks down before their collapse in practice.5

This is extremely important because it gives emphasis to the importance of theory and of science—theory that’s grounded in and is an application of a consistently scientific method and approach—to reveal what are the actual relations and dynamics, what are the inner connections and “inner workings,” of the system that people are subjected to. First of all to reveal that there is a system that they are subjected to, and what are the inner workings and dynamics of that system and how it fits into the whole historical development of human society. (Or, in basic terms, that people are living within the confines of a system; that this system is not just something imposed by some powerful people, but is the result of certain historical development; that this system operates, and must operate, according to certain “rules” that flow from its basic relations, and that this embodies and gives rise to contradictions that cause all kinds of suffering for the masses of humanity, contradictions that are fundamental and essential to this system and cannot be eliminated without eliminating this system itself). And this scientific theory reveals that there is a way out of all this—and what that way out is.

Yes, ultimately the struggle has to be carried out in the realm of practice; it has to be carried out in the actual struggle to go up against and ultimately overthrow the system which embodies and enforces all this horrific oppression. But there’s a tremendous importance to people, even before they become highly developed theoretically, to get a basic understanding that there is no necessity, there is no permanent necessity, to the existing conditions, and why that is so. This is the source of hope, not on the basis of illusions such as those propagated and perpetuated by religion, but on a scientific basis.

The following (the conclusion of the article “‘A Leap of Faith’ and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods”) emphasizes these extremely important points of orientation:

Knowing about actual reality—and continually learning more about it—is vitally important for humanity and its future; it is vitally important not only for people in the sciences and the academic world but for the brutally oppressed and exploited people of the earth, who must and can be the backbone and driving force of a revolution to throw off and put an end to all forms of exploitation and oppression, throughout the globe—to be the emancipators not only of themselves but ultimately of all humanity. Confronting reality as it actually is—and as it is changing and developing—and understanding the underlying and driving forces in this, is crucial in order to play a decisive and leading role in bringing about this revolution and ushering in a whole new era in human history, which will shatter and remove forever not only the material chains—the economic, social and political shackles of exploitation and oppression—that enslave people in today’s world but also the mental chains, the ways of thinking and the culture, that correspond to and reinforce those material chains. In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who founded the communist movement over 150 years ago, declared that the communist revolution, and its emancipating principles, methods, and aims, involves a “radical rupture” not only with the traditional property relations that enslave people, in one form or another, but also a radical rupture with all traditional ideas that reflect and reinforce those traditional property relations.

The struggle in the realm of epistemology—the theory of knowledge and how it is acquired by people, the theory of what is true and how people come to know the truth—is a crucial arena in the overall battle for the emancipation of the oppressed and exploited majority of humanity, and ultimately of humanity as a whole. Grasping the defining characteristics and the importance of the scientific method—and, most of all, the most consistent, systematic and comprehensive scientific approach to reality, the communist world outlook and method, which can embrace without replacing or suffocating the many fields of human knowledge and endeavor and can give expression to the richest process of learning about reality and transforming it in the interests of humanity—is of vital importance for this emancipatory struggle. Understanding the profound difference between the attempt to impose “faith-based” notions on reality and, in opposition to that, pursuing a scientific understanding of reality, including of religion and its origins and effects—understanding the radical difference between “leaps of faith” and the ongoing acquisition of knowledge through continual leaps from perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge—this is a crucial part of carrying forward the struggle to achieve the two radical ruptures that mark the communist revolution as the leap to a whole new, liberating era in human history.6

This question, of seeing the possibility for revolution and a radically different and better world, on a scientific basis, is obviously extremely important, and is something to which I will return later.

 

The Problem of Individualism

As I have pointed out, in Ruminations and Wranglings7 (and in other works), the contradiction that people exist as individuals, but they also exist in a larger social context and are largely shaped by that social context, is a complicated contradiction that is important to handle correctly. And this contradiction is acutely expressed today in the fact that while people do exist as individuals, the terrible suffering of the masses of humanity and the urgent challenges facing humanity as a whole as a result of the escalating destruction of the environment by this system of capitalism-imperialism as well as the possibility of nuclear conflagration that continues to loom as an existential threat over humanity—all this cannot be seriously addressed, let alone actually solved, by each person pursuing their particular individual interests, and in fact people acting in this way constitutes a major obstacle to bringing about the necessary solution. Individualism is a significant factor and “unifying element” in much of the negative trends that play a major role in keeping people from recognizing the reality and depth of the horrors continually brought about by this system—and recognizing the urgent need to act, together with others, to abolish and uproot all this, at its very source. This highlights and heightens the fact that individualism, which is encouraged and expressed in extreme forms in this particular society at this time, is a profound problem that must be confronted and transformed.

 

Virulent Individualism and Oblivious Individualism

These are two broad categories of individualism, which have some different particular characteristics but also have in common the basic focus on and preoccupation with the self. Virulent individualism is an extremely poisonous variation of this. It’s basically the view that “I’m out to get everything I can for myself and fuck everybody else. And if I have to trample on everybody else to get what I want, that’s just the way it is and I’m gonna do it the best I can, so I can get everything I want—I want it all and I want it now.”

Oblivious individualism is individualism that may not have those particular aggressive characteristics and may not even have a consciously hostile attitude toward other people in general, but involves going along pursuing one’s particular interests, aspirations, or “dreams,” without paying attention to the larger things that are going on in the world and the effect of this on masses of people throughout the world and indeed on the future of humanity.

So there are these different kinds, or two broad types, of individualism (with many gradations, obviously). But what is the unifying element in them? Self. The self. As I pointed out in the Dialogue with Cornel West8 in 2014, the “selfie” is a perfect iconic representation of this whole outlook and this whole culture. It’s not that every “selfie” is in and of itself bad, of course. But there is a whole culture around it, even to the point where people go to a beautiful place in nature and what are they preoccupied with? Taking a “selfie” of themself instead of taking in (and yes, taking photographs of) the vast beauty that’s stretched out before them. The important thing, with this outlook, is: “Here I am, look at me.”  It’s the “look at me, look at me, look at me” ethos that is so predominant in both these forms of individualism, even in the one that’s not consciously virulent but is nevertheless strikingly oblivious.

Oblivious individualism may seem more benign (or, in simple terms, less “nasty”) but it is nonetheless marked by being inexcusably ignorant of, or consciously choosing to ignore, what is happening in the larger world, beyond the self (and the narrow circle around oneself), and the consequences of this for the masses of people in the world, and ultimately for all of humanity—or paying attention to this only as it affects oneself in immediate and narrow terms.

Now here let me be very clear: There are people in the world, masses of people in the world, whose lives are so chaotic and whose suffering is so terrible that it’s very difficult for them even to engage, let alone learn about, much of what’s going on in the world. I’m not talking about those people whom the operation of this system grinds down and subjects to so much horror that, on their own, they are really deprived of even the opportunity to learn about and to engage the larger world. I’m talking about people who have every opportunity to do so but, either with a malignant (or virulent) mentality, or in a more “benign” but nevertheless oblivious way, choose not to pay attention to these things. I’m not necessarily opposed to people watching some videos or YouTubes of cats playing the violin (and similar things on the internet), but if that kind of thing is your preoccupation—let alone if snark and tearing down other people on the internet is your preoccupation—then, obviously, this is something any decent person should be very concerned about and strongly oppose and struggle sharply against.

[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.

[End of Note added by Author, Fall 2019]

 

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 starting 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 Fascism9: 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.”10

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 (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 War on Whistle-Blowers”11 by Edward Wasserman, who’s a professor of journalism and the Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. 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 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”12 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.”13

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, “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.14

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, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza 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 a 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.15

Parasitism, American Chauvinism, and Individualism

Interestingly, in an article about privacy and the problems that the internet poses for people in terms of having any privacy (“Just a Face in the Crowd? Not Anymore”),16 the authors of the article, Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger, refer to this as a “status-obsessed culture,” and they particularly talk about how this is a problem in terms of people having any privacy because people want to use the internet to boost their status all the time: “Look at me doing this, look at me doing that,” and so on, and so forth. But this phrase, I think, is very apropos, is a very relevant and meaningful phrase: a “status-obsessed culture.” This is what’s been continually encouraged through the major institutions of this society, and it is a particular variant, obviously, of the widespread individualism, both virulent and oblivious.

And this goes along with the coupling of individualism and commodification, a phenomenon whose essence is captured very well in the incessant promotion, the undisguised and unapologetic promotion, of the “brand.” Everywhere you turn you hear: “Oh, this is really gonna be good for developing her ‘brand’”;  “Oh, they really have been very creative in how they’ve pumped up their ‘brand.’” You can’t turn around anywhere without hearing the word “brand” used in this kind of way. And this goes along, of course, with the glorification of entre-manure-ialism—which objectively amounts to the attempt to get in on the exploitation of people, becoming part of the overall process resting to a large degree on super-exploitation of masses of people, including children, in the Third World.

All this is very much bound up with the parasitism of American society, which (as explained in Breakthroughs—The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary, by Bob Avakian) refers to the fact that an increasingly globalized capitalism:

...relies to a very great degree for production and for maintaining the rate of profit on a vast network of sweatshops, particularly in the Third World of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, while capitalist activity in the capitalist-imperialist “home countries” is increasingly in the realm of finance and financial speculation, and the “high end” of (not the production of the basic physical materials for) high tech, as well as the service sector and the commercial sphere (including the growing role of online marketing). As Lenin phrased it, this puts “the seal of parasitism” on the whole of societies such as the U.S.17

This has both a material and an ideological dimension. Materially, it puts the seal of  parasitism on the whole society because the whole society and the very functioning of the economy would be impossible to maintain, and certainly to maintain on the level that it’s on, without this vast network of sweatshops. The standard of living and the very functioning of the economy could not be what it is, it could not be maintained as it is, without this parasitism and in particular the super-exploitation of millions, tens and hundreds of millions, ultimately billions of people, through this vast network of sweatshops throughout the Third World in particular.

And in terms of the ideological dimension, this seal of parasitism on the whole society encourages and in turn is reinforced by the promotion of individualism, and the all-too-common phenomena of narcissism, acquisitiveness and hedonism. Once again: “I want it all and I want it now!”  They’re not even ashamed to put this in an ad, more than once—you get hit with this kind of thinking all the time. To invoke a passage from my memoir (From Ike to Mao and Beyond),18 this is a matter of sticking your snout in the trough and just scarfing up as much as you can, without a thought to where this comes from. And, again, there is both the more virulent form of this—“I don’t give a fuck, fuck those people, I want it all and I want it now, I want what I want!”—and the more oblivious form: “I don’t really know where all this comes from, I’m just trying to pursue my own life and my dreams.”

So, both in the material sphere and in the ideological sphere, this seal of parasitism on the whole society is a very real thing. And this ties in with the overall relation between American chauvinism and individualism: identifying personal interests, prospects and status with the dominant position of—and the plundering of the world and the masses of humanity by—U.S. capitalist imperialism. And one grotesque expression of this—whether virulent or oblivious—is this: With the invasions and ongoing wars, the coups, the slaughter of civilians in the hundreds of thousands, the wrecking of countries and the reducing of millions to desperation and starvation at the hands of the imperialists of the USA and their “allies” and craven puppets, where is the mass outrage and active and determined opposition from people in the USA, in whose name these monstrous crimes are continually committed—including where is it from those who call themselves “progressive” or proclaim themselves “woke”?!

Another aspect of what is involved here is “world-weary cynicism” and its relation to parasitic individualism. Who has not heard this?—“Oh, I know there are a lot of things wrong in the world, but that’s just the way things are. Yes, of course, the U.S. commits crimes around the world, but so do all these other countries. Yes, Trump is no good, but all these politicians are corrupt. I don’t have time to pay attention to that. I’m way too sophisticated to get involved in that, or to get emotionally wrought up over all that. I just have to pay attention to the things that really matter to me and my chickens in my back yard” (or whatever else it might be).

This world-weary pseudo cynicism (or real cynicism, but pseudo world-awareness) is another manifestation of parasitic individualism—excusing your refusal or your failure to do anything about the crimes being committed in your name, and all the horrific things going on in the world, on the basis of: “Yes, I know, but this is just the way it is. And after all, there’s nothing really that can be done about it. Anybody who comes forward and claims they’re gonna do something about it is just as corrupt as the people who are perpetrating this stuff already, so there’s not really anything that can be done.”  As it has been put, very insightfully, this is a sentiment that could be translated as: “Oh, I’m so glad that it’s turned out that the right thing to do is to do nothing at all about these outrages and horrors in the world.”

In THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In the Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible, in terms of the struggle to prevent the consolidation of fascist rule by the Trump/Pence regime (and more generally in regard to the struggle for a radically different and better world), I highlighted this point:

One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way, and weighing people down, is American chauvinism—the disgusting notion that America and Americans are better and more important than everybody else.19

With regard to the middle class in this country, although today significant sections of this class are not doing as well as in the past—and some are actually struggling—economically, as the social divide and the income disparities continue to widen to obscene proportions, there is still among them, or among many in the middle class, a persistent and widespread sense of “entitlement” as Americans and an identification of their own interests with what is in fact a system of massive war crimes and crimes against humanity: American capitalist imperialism. And, as noted in THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!, this poison of American chauvinism also exerts some influence among the most bitterly oppressed, even as this is in sharp conflict with the systematic oppression to which they are subjected in this country under this system.

There is a great need for people broadly to break with this American chauvinism. As I have emphasized previously, there are “3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better”:

1) 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.

2) People have to dig seriously and scientifically into how this system of capitalism-imperialism actually works, and what this actually causes in the world.

3) People have to look deeply into the solution to all this.20

And, as put forward sharply in “The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us”:

While it is right and necessary to unite with people broadly in opposing the injustices and outrages committed by those who rule this country, and while this has taken on heightened importance with the coming to power of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, it is a basic truth that without breaking with American chauvinism—without confronting the very real horror of what this country has been, and what it has done, here and all over the world, from its founding to the present—and without coming to deeply hate this, it is not possible, in the final analysis, to retain one’s own humanity and act in the highest interests of all humanity.”21 [emphasis added]

In direct opposition to the poisonous outlook of American chauvinism, the orientation that must be firmly upheld and fiercely fought for is the basic principle and simple, but profound, truth that “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives” and “Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First,” which is contained in BAsics 5:7 and 5:8.22

And, as gone into more fully in BAsics:

The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way. (BAsics 3:8) 23

Winning continually greater numbers of people to this fundamental orientation is critical in terms of achieving any positive change, and will be decisive in bringing about the revolution to finally put an end to this monstrous system of capitalism-imperialism.

Identity Politics and Individualism

As pointed out in “All Played Out,” there is the “politics of ‘identity’ that really comes back down to me.”24 We see all the time that, even while this identity is associated with a group, in fundamental terms it’s really about “me” and “mine”;  it is posed, at least objectively and often consciously, against other people, even other bitterly oppressed people, in a way that smacks of disgusting individualism and petty rivalry based on that outlook. Along with this, there is the whole phenomenon of “woke” parasitism and seeking “safe” privileged enclaves within, and on the basis of, the depredations and exploitation by this imperialist system of the masses of people of the world as well as the environment.

“Identity politics” distorts, corrupts, misdirects and undermines the exposure of and the needed struggle against what are, in fact, horrific forms of oppression. In this connection, let’s contrast experience in the 1960s vs. today’s phenomena of  “triggering” and trauma.

Back in the 1960s, drawing from my own experience, I remember that, in the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley in 1964, the culmination and the high point of that struggle was when there was a massive sit-in, in the administration building on the Berkeley campus. Hundreds of people sat in and refused to leave until their demands were met. Ultimately, 800 were forcibly ejected from the building and arrested when the governor (the Democratic Party governor) of the state called out not only the local police, but the county sheriffs and the state police to come in and roust us out of the administration building. We were confronted with these police who were roughly arresting people—grabbing people, particularly women, by the hair and throwing them down the stairs as a way of evicting them from the administration building. Well, it strikes me now, in looking back on this, that the one thing we forgot to do, in the face of this, was to say: “Wait, you’re triggering us. You can’t do this. You’re causing us trauma.”  I’m sure that would have worked to prevent the police from acting in that brutal manner.

Or, when Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, together with others who made up the first members of the Black Panther Party, carried out their armed patrols against police brutality and murder, and they encountered police who threatened them and demanded that they put down their weapons (which the Panthers were legally carrying), well then, Huey and Bobby should have said to those pigs: “Stop—don’t you know you’re triggering and traumatizing us!” Yes, I’m sure that would have made the pigs back off.

Or, we can think about “Stop the Draft Week,” when thousands of people went to demonstrate at the Oakland induction center at the height of the struggle against the Vietnam war, in the effort to shut down the induction center (where people were conscripted—forced—into the U.S. military). People sat in, to block the doors. And the Oakland police, who are known for their racism and brutality going back generations, came in and brutally attacked people, and dragged them away in the most vicious manner. Well, it strikes me now that the real failing at that time was that, as those people were sitting in and the police were approaching, they should have said: “Stop! You’re triggering us.” I’m sure that would have stopped the police from brutally rousting people away from the doors.

And there are many other examples. Think about People’s Park in Berkeley, when, at its high point, there was a massive demonstration of tens of thousands in support of the seemingly modest demand to have a park in an area that the university wanted to turn into a parking lot. During the course of this struggle, people were shot by police and one of the demonstrators, James Rector, was killed as part of a police attack on a demonstration. And in addition to people being shot, the National Guard had been called out, and there were a number of us, hundreds, who went to the fence that the university and the authorities had put around the People’s Park area. The National Guard was stationed inside the fence, and many of us were at the fence, shaking it. Well, because the National Guard was armed and was being ordered to be prepared to shoot—that was very clear—the question for us was: Should we tear down this fence and face the fusillade of bullets coming at us for doing so? And people decided, in those circumstances, that this wasn’t the right thing to do. But obviously we were completely mis-directed in those circumstances. We should have said to the commanders of the National Guard: “Not just pointing those guns at us, but just having those guns near us, is triggering us. You can’t do this. You have to stop this right now!”

Now, obviously, I’m being ironic here. But the point that comes through—and these examples are deliberately ludicrous to make the point—is that in any real struggle to deal with any real oppression, up against powerful enforcers of that oppression, you are going to have to face the prospect of real sacrifice, including the prospect of being physically attacked. And if you think that you can carve out little safe enclaves, and that this is somehow going to lead to any kind of significant change in society, you are full of illusions and delusions.

So, this is something important to understand. The trauma that results from directly suffering horrific forms of oppression and degradation is very real, and no one should deny or underestimate that—but, instead of an individual “turning inwards,” this needs to be transformed into anger and determination to be part of a collective struggle to put an end to all the atrocities, everywhere, whose fundamental source and cause is this system of capitalism-imperialism. And, yes, this will require struggle and sacrifice. But it’s worth it, it’s what needs to happen.

Now, along with these negative tendencies associated with “identity politics,” we get what could be called the politics of indictment—indictment of individuals, instead of transforming society (and the whole world) to uproot all oppression. There is the phenomenon of not only targeting and seeking to tear down individuals, but along with that, or as part of it, going through the whole history of people’s lives, going back decades—even into someone’s very early years—and seeing if you can find something around which they can be condemned and which therefore disqualifies them from any positive role in anything. Now, as I have stressed many times, where people have committed real crimes and outrages they should be held accountable; but there is also the need to look at the arc of someone’s life and what is the principal and defining aspect of their life. Is it the mistakes they’ve made, or even a really terrible thing they’ve done at some point? Is that the essential aspect of their life and what defines it? Or has their life involved real transformation, where what has come to define what they are about are the positive things that they have done and the positive trajectory to their life overall?

What is involved here is a very wrong and harmful approach of “canceling” people—indicting them (in the realm of public opinion if not legally) and canceling them out—which is different than holding people accountable for serious acts of oppression or other outrages that they’ve committed but then also looking at the whole arc and main content of what their life has been about. (And this is made all the worse by the fact that it is often amplified through “trial in the media and social media,” with neither any prospect nor even any pretense of due process or any real attempt to get at the truth, fueled by the dangerous notion that a mere allegation is enough to condemn someone and make them a permanent pariah, and marked by a refusal to apply any measure of proportionality, to make any distinctions between different kinds and degrees of wrongdoing.)  This also goes along with and is in an overall sense part of the same phenomenon of turning inward and seeking “safe spaces” and pursuing “self-care” and “personal healing,” in place of, and at least objectively in opposition to, directing outrage at oppression and degradation “outward,” becoming part of a collective struggle aimed at transforming the world to put an end to all such atrocities, to all oppression and exploitation (which is also the best context for overcoming real trauma that people have experienced).

Individualism and “Indifference”

Here is a very important statement by Marx, from the Grundrisse—one of his major works—as cited in Ruminations and Wranglings:

In the money relation, in the developed system of exchange (and this semblance seduces the democrats), the ties of personal dependence, of distinctions of blood, education, etc. are in fact exploded, ripped up (at least, personal ties all appear as personal relations); and individuals seem independent (this is an independence which is at bottom merely an illusion, and it is more correctly called indifference), free to collide with one another and to engage in exchange within this freedom....25

Marx is getting at something very penetrating and insightful about the relations among people in capitalist society—the commodity relations that characterize capitalism, as represented by money (or today by credit and abstractions of credit). Notice the word “indifference” here. This goes back to individualism. And it can be particularly applied to oblivious individualism. You’re indifferent to other people, and you think of this as your independence, when really you are all tied together by the network of relations, including the money relations, that characterize this society and its underlying exploitative relations. You’re all caught within that web, yet within that web you have the illusion that you’re acting independently, when the terms of how you interact are being set by the dynamics of the capitalist system and its underlying economic (production) relations, as well at its social relations (such as the oppressive relation between men and women, for example) that go along with those economic relations. You think you’re acting independently, but you’re really just caught within a web which conditions how you act (and how you think), while, at the same time, this “independence” often takes the form—and here again is the phenomenon of oblivious individualism—of indifference toward other people. This can be expressed in the outlook that “I’m not consciously trying to mess over other people, I’m just pursuing my own interests and my ‘dreams’ (I’m just ‘doing me’)”—but in reality you’re being forced into competition and conflict with other people, and you’re being impelled to be indifferent to the effect of all this on those others by the “spontaneity” of how this system operates.

This relates to a point that was emphasized in The New Communism, regarding Lenin’s observation that the system of capitalism and its commodity relations forces people to calculate with the stinginess of a miser. So, again, people are forced to be indifferent toward others by the dynamics that put them in competition and in conflict with other people for all kinds of things: who gets a job, who gets a raise, who gets a promotion, who gets a scholarship to college, who gets an internship (and on, and on, and on). You are forced to be in constant conflict with other people, and you are forced to calculate with the stinginess of a miser even to the point of, “Well, I’m sorry that this has a negative effect on or may even cause real harm to someone else, but I gotta do what I gotta do for me and my family.”  And so on. It’s not that people are inherently selfish, in accordance with some concept of unchanging “human nature.”  The particular word Lenin uses is very important—under this system people are forced to calculate with the stinginess of a miser. They are forced to be indifferent toward other people and how things affect them.

Lenin also points out—and this has to do with the basic nature and functioning of the capitalist system—that capitalism puts in the hands of individuals what is produced by all of society (and ultimately all of the world, especially today this is so—all of the world). This has two manifestations: One, it is manifested in the private accumulation by capitalists, competing capitalists, of the wealth that is socially produced by masses of people working in collective organizations of production. So that’s one manifestation of what Lenin talks about when he says that capitalism puts in the hands of individuals what is produced by all of society.

The other manifestation of this is individual consumption. Capitalism puts in the hands of individuals, in terms of their individual items of consumption, what is produced by all of society—in other words, to a very large extent, these needs have to be met, under this system, through commodity exchanges (people have to pay for them)—as opposed to these needs being socially met, and provided without cost, as would be the case in communist society. Now, just to be clear, in contrast to the slanders and ridiculous distortions that are frequently presented: No, everybody under communism will not have to use the same toothbrush! That’s not the point here. Of course in communist society there will be items of personal consumption. People are not all gonna eat the same food, either figuratively in the sense of having to have exactly the same meals all the time (nor, obviously, in the literal sense that somebody takes a bite and then somebody else has to eat the second bite, and so on, and so forth)!  Obviously, this is not what’s being talked about. What’s being talked about is that, in a communist society, where the appropriation and distribution of what is produced conforms to the character of the productive forces and the corresponding socialized nature of production itself, many needs—housing, health care, and things of this nature—could be and will be socially met, rather than involving and depending on individual expenditure (and, again, this is very different than individual toothbrushes or other items of personal consumption).

So this is another important manifestation, or dimension, of what Lenin is talking about. And this also relates back to Marx’s point about independence which is better called “indifference,” the competition among individuals that this involves, and the fundamental need for the transformation of society (and ultimately the whole world) to transcend and move beyond individualistic indifference toward others, in moving beyond the economic, social and political relations, and the corresponding ideas, that dictate and reinforce competition, conflict and antagonism not only between individuals but whole social classes and groups.

 

Particular Interests and General Interests—Differing Class Interests and the Highest Interests of Humanity

In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,26 Marx makes the point that every class viewpoint identifies the particular interest of the class it represents with the general interests of society. Referring back to what is said about the “4 Alls” in Breakthroughs (and elsewhere)—that is, the abolition of all class distinctions, of all the production relations on which those class distinctions rest, of all the social relations that correspond to those production relations, and the revolutionizing of all the ideas that correspond to those social relations—referring back to those “4 Alls,” and in particular the relation and interconnection of production and social relations, it is important to recognize how, even spontaneously, different classes (that is, people who are part of different social groups in terms of the relations of production) differently experience and respond to social relations of oppression.

For example, among Black people—and this phenomenon is something you can see in the television program Black-ish, for example—Black people as a whole suffer horrific oppression in many forms, including one of the most egregious expressions of this, murder by police, as well as rampant discrimination and racism throughout the society; but different classes, strata and sections of the Black population experience this differently and respond to it differently. You can see it in people like Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The basic outlook they hold, and propagate, is essentially this: The way to deal with all this is to get big bank—get that paper, that’ll deal with all this. Well, this is obviously the outlook and the aspiration of bourgeois strata, what have become bourgeois strata among Black people. And then there are other manifestations of the same kind of outlook among the more bourgeois and petit bourgeois strata of Black people who see the solution as working within the system and getting a better place within this system. That is their spontaneous inclination, their spontaneous view of the problem and the solution. And, among other things, this explains why there has been such enthusiasm for having Obama as the first Black president.

Now, it’s been pointed out before, and it bears repeating, that among all strata in society the outlook that characterizes the petite bourgeoisie and ultimately the bourgeoisie has significant influence. So it’s not like the basic, more proletarian or semi-proletarian masses of oppressed people are somehow immune from this petit bourgeois and bourgeois thinking. Far from it. Nevertheless, in terms of what this represents, what social position and outlook it corresponds to, it is representative essentially of the petit bourgeois and bourgeois strata.

The same thing applies to the oppression of women. As with any oppressed group (in this case, half of humanity), with regard to women any injustice or oppression against any part of women does great harm to women as a whole. But, again, different strata among women—and women in different parts of the world, for that matter—experience this differently and spontaneously have different notions of what is the problem and the solution. Among the more bourgeois-aspiring and petit bourgeois professional women, and so on, a significant spontaneous inclination is: Let’s get more women into positions of authority and power, more women CEOs, more women in the professions, and in government, and so on. That is seen as the solution, or a big part of the solution, to the problem. Now (to use a grammatical double negative) it is not that discrimination against women in the spheres of business and the professions, etc., should not be opposed. It should definitely be opposed, fundamentally because this does harm all women. But this does not deal with what the essence of what the problem is and what the solution is. And, in fact, in certain ways this can end up reinforcing this system and its oppressive relations. To be clear, it is not that the fight against discrimination in these spheres is itself harmful (as I have emphasized, the opposite is the case); but what is harmful is the notion that getting more women (or, for that matter, other oppressed people) into positions of influence, authority and power within this society, in the functioning of this system, is the answer, the solution, to inequality and oppression. That is a harmful illusion that can only mislead and misdirect people and actually serve to reinforce the very system that is the source of oppression and exploitation. So here is another complex contradiction that requires the application of the scientific method to achieve the necessary synthesis: waging the fight against discrimination and oppression of any section of women (or other oppressed groups) while combating the notion that fulfilling the aspirations of the petit bourgeois and bourgeois strata among the oppressed is the solution, that it can or will lead to the end of oppression and exploitation of the masses of people and ultimately to the emancipation of all humanity.

This goes back to Marx’s point in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, that every class—or the outlook corresponding to different classes—all consider that the particular interests of their class represent the general interests of society, of the people. The reality is that only for one class at this point is it true that its interests as a class—not in a narrow or reified sense, but in the most fundamental sense—correspond to the general interests of society, or of the masses of humanity and ultimately humanity as a whole. That class is the proletariat, the exploited class under this capitalist-imperialist system, because in the fundamental and ultimate sense only by ending all oppression and exploitation—only with the achievement of those “4 Alls” throughout the world—can the exploitation and oppression of the proletariat as a class be finally ended.

As for the ruling capitalist class of this country, and in general the capitalist-imperialists in the world, their interests lie in maintaining and reinforcing the system of capitalism-imperialism and in their striving to be in the “top-dog” position in a world dominated by this system, with all the terrible suffering and truly dire consequences this involves for the masses of humanity. The petite bourgeoisie (or middle class) is itself incapable of offering any alternative to this present horrendous system.

The outlook corresponding to the position and the aspirations of the petite bourgeoisie, as well as that of the ruling bourgeoisie, is strongly reinforced by the basic nature and functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system which rules in this country and is dominant in the world as a whole, and this, once again, has significant influence among all sections of society, including those most viciously and brutally exploited and oppressed. (And among the basic masses in this country in particular, this outlook is reinforced in significant ways by the extensive “petit-bourgeoisification” among many of the basic oppressed masses, as discussed in Breakthroughs). This outlook is fostered and reinforced by the “spontaneity” of everyday life under this system, as well as the operation of the political system that serves and reinforces the underlying economic relations and dynamics of capitalism-imperialism, and the ceaseless propagation of the corresponding outlook through all the major institutions of society.

And here we come up against the problem, also spoken to in Breakthroughs, of making a proletarian revolution “with a proletariat that does not exist.” The reason I put that in quotes is because it’s not the case literally that there is no proletariat in the U.S. (and this is certainly not the case in the world as a whole). But the point is (and this has to do with the phenomenon I’ve spoken to in Breakthroughs and in a number of other works—the phenomenon of the separation of the communist movement from the labor movement) that, while the exploitation of the proletariat under this system, including within this country, is a real phenomenon and one of the bases for mobilizing people in revolutionary struggle toward the ultimate overthrow of this system, the revolutionary movement that needs to be built cannot be, and must not be reduced to, a simple struggle between the exploited proletarians and those who exploit them, or even the immediate and partial interests of the proletariat (or a section of the proletariat) at any given time, rather than its largest and most fundamental interests in abolishing all exploitation and oppression throughout the world. The revolution that is needed is not going to take place as a direct extension of the struggle of the proletariat, as such, into some kind of general strike, or some other form in which the proletariat, by itself and in itself, is going to make the proletarian revolution. There will need to be a lot of different forces involved, and with regard to the fighting forces who are brought forward when the ultimate all-out showdown comes, while some will definitely be drawn from the ranks of especially the bitterly exploited proletarians, as opposed to the more bourgeoisified strata of the working class, many will be drawn from other strata who suffer terrible oppression but are not strictly speaking part of the proletariat as a class.

So here is a sharp contradiction: The fundamental interests of the proletariat, in eliminating all exploitation and oppression, everywhere, through the revolutionary struggle to bring into being a communist world, and the scientific world outlook, method and approach representing those fundamental interests—this corresponds to the general interests of society, or we could say to the interests of humanity as a whole, but in order for those ideas to be taken up by masses of people and made into a powerful material force for revolution, a tremendous struggle must be waged against “spontaneity” and the overall influence of the currently dominant ways of thinking.

For all those who have come to a scientific understanding of the problem with which humanity is profoundly confronted, and the revolutionary solution to this problem, the challenge and the responsibility is to wage the critically necessary ideological struggle, in regard to people’s world outlook, methods, morality and aspirations, while uniting with masses of people in waging struggle around the defining contradictions of this system which are unresolvable under this system and the major manifestations of the oppression and exploitation to which the masses of humanity are continually subjected under this system—and working to win growing numbers of people to a conscious understanding of the need and possibility for revolution, whose ultimate goal is a communist world. This is the meaning and purpose of Fight the Power, and Transform the People—for Revolution.

 

Contrasting the Communist with the Capitalist Viewpoint and Approach to Individualism and Individuality

First, let’s examine the contradiction of capitalism-imperialism and bourgeois hypocrisy, or the “exalting” of the individual and the crushing of billions of individuals under this system. As noted in Ruminations and Wranglings:

This is a point that was emphasized in Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity,* where (toward the end of Part 1) it refers to all the great and grand talk from proponents and apologists of the capitalist system about the rights of individuals, and yet this system functions, and can only function, by—quite literally and with no exaggeration or hyperbole—grinding into the dirt the lives of millions and even billions of individuals, including hundreds of millions of children, people whose individuality, whose individual aspirations, are counted as nothing in the actual operation of this system.27

Here it is necessary to step back and look at the changes that the bourgeois revolution and capitalist society have brought about in regard to the individual in particular, especially in contrast to feudal society. In feudal society people had an assigned place from which they could very rarely, if ever, escape—and all this was reinforced with church doctrine and the notion of the divine right of the monarch, and so on—while the bourgeois revolution and the functioning of capitalist society broke apart, shattered, a lot of those particular constraints on different sections of the population (this is also what Marx was referring to in the statement I cited from the Grundrisse about the developed relations of exchange characteristic of capitalism). And capitalism did give much greater expression to the role of people as individuals even as, more fundamentally, they are part of different classes and different social groups (men and women, different nationalities or “races,” and so on).

With the bourgeois revolution and the emergence of capitalism as the dominant system, there was a real freeing of the individual from some of the constraints, very real constraints, that feudalism, with its “divinely ordered” status of different sections of people, had imposed for centuries. This is an actual achievement of the bourgeois revolution which should be acknowledged. At the same time, there is the reality of the masses of people under the rule of capitalism-imperialism and the dynamics and relations of this system, which are fundamental to it and which involve, and cannot help but involve, the crushing and pulverizing of individuals. And, particularly in capitalism’s imperialist stage, this is a worldwide phenomenon, involving billions of individuals.

As pointed out in Breakthroughs:

Speaking to the social mobility that is often raised as one of the great features of capitalist society, Marx, in another major work of his, the Grundrisse, pointed out that individuals may change their social and class position within a society like this, but the masses of people [and again, this applies, above all, on a world level, but the masses of people] can only escape from oppressive production and social relations by revolutionary means—by overthrowing and abolishing the system that is founded on and embodies those relations.28

And, as I have emphasized in a number of works (including Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy,29 as well as Breakthroughs), individuals always exist within a social context—within a society (that is, a social organization of people) whose foundation is the economic relations (or the relations of production) and the corresponding social relations that set the basic terms of how society functions and what will be the dominant political processes, structures and institutions, and the prevailing ideas and culture. All this shapes how people—groupings of people as well as individuals—interact with each other and how, “spontaneously,” they think about things. Contrary to the much propagated notions about “human nature”—and, in particular, supposedly “unchanging and unchangeable human nature”—there is no such thing as unchanging human nature. Rather, as Marx emphasized (in The Poverty of Philosophy),30 all of human history embodies the continuous transformation of “human nature” as human society is changed, especially through revolutions which fundamentally transform the system of economic relations, the corresponding social relations, and the political and ideological superstructure (the political processes, structures and institutions and the corresponding ideas and culture). These revolutions arise on the basis of the fundamental and essential contradictions of the existing system, which are “built into” the given system and cannot be resolved, or fundamentally transformed, within the confines of that system. These revolutions are led by groups of people who recognize the need and possibility for transforming society to bring about a major, qualitative, transformation of these contradictions, leading to a radically different system. With the bourgeois revolution, for example, the basis for this revolution lay in the more and more acutely posed contradictions of feudal society, and there were forces that emerged within feudal society who recognized these contradictions (to one degree or another consciously) and went to work to transform things and were brought up against the need for a revolution in order to do so. This is how these dynamics actually work out in the real world.

And such is the basis for the proletarian-communist revolution—which, in resolving the fundamental and essential contradictions built into the capitalist system, can bring about a transformation of human society, throughout the world, of a radically new and unprecedented kind, putting an end not just to the rule of a particular group (or class) of exploiters and oppressors of the masses of humanity, but to all exploitation and oppression, bringing about the emancipation of humanity as a whole from all systems and relations embodying exploitation and oppression.

On this historically new foundation—and with the continuing transformation of society in these radically new conditions—of communism, the basis for individualism to be a significant social phenomenon will have been eliminated and surpassed, while the basis will be continually expanded for individuality to find expression, in a positive “synergy” (a mutually reinforcing positive relation) with the fundamentally cooperative nature of human social relations.

To invoke another extremely concentrated insight of Marx’s: Right can never be higher than the economic structure of society and the culture conditioned thereby. To state this in terms of its positive corollary, so to speak: Freedom is always conditioned by and fundamentally depends on the underlying material foundation—the mode of production (that is, the relations of production corresponding to the character of the productive forces). And more than that, in communist society this material foundation is being continually transformed to increasingly free human beings as a whole from spending most of their time in reproducing the material requirements for survival. As this happens, and as people are freed from what Marx (in the Critique of the Gotha Programme)31 characterized as the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, as these two things go hand-in-hand, the more the scope for individual initiative and freedom will be expanded, once again within the overall cooperative relations and ethos of society.

 

Differing Views on the Meaning of Life, and Death:
What Is Worth Living and Dying For?

Here it is worthwhile to quote at length from the discussion of this in Ruminations and Wranglings—the full title of which is Ruminations and Wranglings: On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning. What I am going to cite here is drawn from the section “Life With a Purpose: Different Experiences, Different Spontaneous Views, and Fundamentally Different World Outlooks”; and this includes part of the sub-section “Human life is finite, but revolution is infinite”:

Going further, [this section begins] there are two things that are relevant to all this, things which do bear very significantly on human life, human relations and human thinking: one, all human beings die; and two, human beings are not only conscious of this but in many ways acutely aware of it. Now the point is not to “wax existential,” or to lapse into existentialism as a philosophical outlook, but there is a value, if you will, to exploring this, at least a little bit. Why do I raise this? Well, often, for example, in existentialist literature, but more generally in a lot of literature which seeks to deal with “profound ironies and tragedies of life,” this contradiction—that human beings are living beings but all human beings die, and that human beings are conscious of this—forms a significant theme, a significant phenomenon with which people wrestle. This is true in philosophy but also in the arts. Especially in a society which places so much emphasis on “the individual,” in an ideological sense, even while it grounds down individuals in material reality—and this is particularly true of U.S. society and U.S. imperialism—it is not surprising that this phenomenon, that human beings die and they are conscious of this, has a prominent place in the culture.

This is also one of the main elements that factors into religion, and in the way people understand and explain the phenomenon of—and, as many portray it, the need for—religion. Some people even argue that you will always have religion because people will need a way to deal with death—not only their own death, but perhaps even more the death of loved ones. ...

This is something worth exploring a bit—precisely from a materialist standpoint and in relation to our communist outlook and communist objectives. First of all, it is necessary to recognize that while death is universal for human beings—all human beings die, sooner or later—there is not one common viewpoint about death: people in different social conditions have different experiences with and different viewpoints on all kinds of phenomena, including death.

In this connection, I was thinking of a statement attributed to Mao near the end of his life .... His statement was something to the effect that “human life is finite, but revolution is infinite.” ... In the dimension in which Mao was speaking about human beings and human society, he was pointing to the contradiction that individuals can play a certain role—and specifically if they become conscious of the need for revolution, and more especially if they take up the outlook and method of communism, they can contribute a great deal to radically transforming human society—but, in all cases, their role and their contributions will still be limited, not only by their particular abilities (and shortcomings) and by their circumstances, but also by the fact that human life is finite, that people live only a few decades. But revolution—that is, not only the overthrow of exploiting classes but, even far into the future in communist society, the need for the continual transformation of society, the need to recognize and transform necessity into freedom—will constantly pose itself and human beings will constantly, and with varying degrees of consciousness, act in relation to that. So, with regard to human society, that is the essential meaning of the statement (attributed to Mao) that human life is finite, but revolution is infinite.

This poses an important challenge morally and, if you will, psychologically—or in terms of one’s basic orientation. It is true, everybody is going to live a relatively short life—certainly compared to the life of the cosmos. Even though, over millennia, we’ve prolonged human life for several decades, it still involves a relatively brief period of time. But the fact remains that your life, whether shorter or longer (within this overall finite framework), is going to be devoted to one kind of objective or another. It is going to be shaped by larger forces that are independent of your will, but then there is the question of how, yes, each individual—as well as in a different, larger dimension, social classes—respond to the way in which the contradictions that are shaping things confront and impinge on them. And there is conscious volition and conscious decision in terms of what people do with their lives, in relation to what they see as necessary, possible, and desirable. After all, it is not as if revolution is something outside of human experience, nor certainly is it outside of material existence; in other words, it’s not as if revolution is not made by people. It is not as if “revolution is infinite” means that there is something called Revolution, with a capital R, that’s some sort of metaphysical force, like nature with a consciousness, or history with a consciousness, that is marching on, in accordance with some sort of teleological notion [in other words, a pre-determined notion of where it should all go].

No, people make revolution. They do so on a certain foundation. That is Marx’s point, which I have repeatedly referred to, and for good reason: People make history, but they don’t do so any way they wish—they do so on the basis of certain definite material conditions which are inherited from previous generations and are independent of the wills of individuals. But, within that framework, people have a great deal of initiative, and a great deal of scope for conscious decision about what they’re going to do with their lives; and the more they become conscious of the way that the world and the contradictions driving the world actually are and actually move and change, the more conscious their decision can be about what they’re going to do with their lives.

I was further provoked to think about this whole question, in watching a film about the P-Stone Nation gang in Chicago. As part of this film there were interviews with some “O.G.s”—veteran or former members of the gang, who are now in their 50s and 60s—people who were in the P-Stone Nation way back when, and who remained in for several decades, but now have gotten out of it, let’s say. One of these guys was being interviewed about the situation with the gangs and the youth who are drawn into the gangs now, and it’s kind of funny, but very often when you hear one generation of people who have gotten a little bit older than the teenagers and people in their early 20s who make up the “soldiers” of these gangs, they make the comment about these younger guys: “Well, things were crazy when I was doing this, but these younger guys nowadays, they’re really crazy, much crazier than we were.” But what stood out to me in what this guy was saying was his comment that these young guys don’t expect to live to be 21—and they just don’t care. And then he went on to acknowledge: That’s the way I was when I got into this—I didn’t expect to live to be 21, and I just didn’t care.

This is a contradiction that was pinpointed and focused on by George Jackson in talking about the question of revolution, emphasizing that gradualism can never appeal to youth like this—that, as he put it, the idea of revolution as something in the far-off distant future has no meaning to a slave who doesn’t expect to live beyond tomorrow. This is a very difficult and very important contradiction that we have to continue to grapple with. But here what I want to emphasize is that this viewpoint (not expecting to live past 21, and just not caring) flows from a certain social experience—it is a more or less spontaneous response to that social experience. It’s not that, somehow, mysteriously and magically, an existential philosopher and a gang member are likely to have very different views of life and death. This flows out of different social experience (again without reifying things—without ignoring or pounding down into an undifferentiated whole the actual differences among different individuals within the same social grouping, having the same social experience, broadly speaking)....

Or we can think of youth and others giving their lives in struggles and wars—doing so willingly, many times, especially today, for what are ultimately dead-ends or bad ends. But, on the other hand, there has been historical experience—and, yes, even today, there is experience—where this is done for truly liberating ends, for emancipating goals and objectives....

This has a lot to do with the point in “Out Into the World—As a Vanguard of the Future”* about why, in initiating the People’s War in China, Mao drew on what he called the brave elements. As he said, they were less afraid of dying, they were more willing to take a risk that could involve dying. It’s like the line from the Bob Dylan song: “When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.” Now let me emphasize that it is most emphatically not the case that communists count human life, or the lives of the masses of people, as cheap or as nothing. Quite the contrary. As Mao also powerfully articulated: Of all things in the world, people are most precious. But the reality is (a) no one is going to escape death and (b) people’s lives, and even their deaths, are going to have one content or another, and count for one thing or another. It is a tragedy, to put it that way, if people’s lives are given for what are ultimately dead-ends—or, still worse, bad ends. And it is never a light thing when anyone gives her/his life even for a truly liberating objective. To paraphrase another powerfully poetic statement by Mao: While dying in the service of the imperialists and reactionaries is lighter than a feather, to die for the people is as weighty as a mountain. (This basic orientation is also emphasized in the statement I made on the occasion of the murder of Damián García.**) The content of people’s lives—the quality of those lives, what they are dedicated and devoted to, and ultimately what they’ve been lived about, whether their death comes sooner or later—is the most important thing and gives meaning, one way or another, to people’s lives, short as they are in relation to the infinite existence of matter in motion.

This is a basic point of orientation which has to do with the question of whether we can actually confront, and should confront, reality as it actually is—in opposition to the notion that human beings (or at least some human beings) need some sort of consolation in the form of distortions of reality—and in particular inventions of gods and/or other supernatural beings and forces. This is a fundamental point of ideological orientation—and ideological struggle. Can we and should we face reality as it actually is? Can human beings actually have, and how can they most fully have, a life with meaning and purpose, and is that best done by actually confronting and, yes, striving to transform, reality on the basis of how reality actually is and the potential for change within that; or should we descend—and I use that word very consciously—into inventions, obfuscations and distortions of reality, in an ultimately failed attempt to provide consolation—consolation not only for the fact that people will die, but also for the fact that most people’s lives, in the world as it is, under the domination of the imperialist system and relations of exploitation and oppression, are not lives that are richly lived (and I don’t mean that in a monetary sense, I mean that in the sense of the fullness of their lives, the humanity of their lives, if you will)?32

This part of Ruminations and Wranglings also includes the following from The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism—Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters, by Ardea Skybreak, which speaks very sweepingly and powerfully to this question:

There is no particular special purpose to our existence in the grand scheme of things—except what we make of it. Whether we’re even here or not doesn’t really matter (at least not consciously) to anything on this planet except ourselves; and certainly (at least at this point) our existence or non-existence can’t possibly have the slightest impact on anything in the greater cosmos, where objectively we are of no greater significance than a single grain of sand on a beach. But so what? Does that mean we don’t matter? Does it mean that we might as well kill each other off because there’s no god out there to care what we do one way or the other? Does it mean that our lives have absolutely no purpose? Of course not! Our lives are precious and we do matter a great deal... to each other! We should decide to “do the right thing”—and act with each other with some integrity and in ways that are “moral and ethical”—not because we’re afraid we’ll get written up by some warden-like god if we don’t, but because what we do directly affects the quality of human life. And, of course, our lives can and do have purpose (though different people will define that in different ways in accordance with their world outlooks), because we humans can choose to imbue our lives with purpose!33

And Ruminations and Wranglings focuses on this profound question:

How should we deal with the glaring contradiction between the fact that most people’s lives are ground down, and while they exist their lives are full of misery, and on the other hand that this could be radically different and the world as a whole could be radically different and better? What should be our orientation toward that contradiction? What should we seek to do about that? Should we, because lives are short and all human beings die and we know it, shrink from the sacrifices that are necessary in order to make human life radically different and better—or should we more and more consciously and willingly devote, dedicate and in an overall sense give our lives to the emancipating goals of the communist revolution?34

Now, in connection with all this, I want to speak to the accusation that “You are going to get people killed!” This is an accusation that has not infrequently been raised especially when we put forward, as we should, not only the need for revolution, but what this means—that it means the overthrow of the existing system through the defeat of its armed enforcers when the conditions for that have been brought into being: the existence of a revolutionary people in the millions and millions and an acute revolutionary crisis throughout society. What is our response to this accusation?

People, masses of people all over the world, are already being killed, and are suffering in horrendous ways while they are alive, because of this system—and one of the most painful expressions of this is the way in which huge numbers of people who are already terribly oppressed under this system, and the youth in particular, are being misled into killing each other, either in gang conflicts or in wars in the service of imperialists and other reactionary oppressors! Our goal is clear:

No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that. [BAsics 1:13]35 

Our goal is to finally put an end to all this!

As called for in “HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution,”36 we need to be serious and scientific in how we build this revolution—and our strategy and plan for revolution is exactly based on a serious and scientific method and approach. That is why, among other things, in the Points of Attention for the Revolution, the 6th point makes clear:

We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.37 

It is this same method and approach that leads to this clear-cut, scientifically-based conclusion:

In fundamental terms, 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!38

This is the understanding and the orientation that has to be brought forward, and vigorously fought for, among masses of people, and especially the youth, for whom this system really has no decent future—if, again, they have a future at all. Revolutions are always driven by the daring, creativity and initiative of youth. As emphasized in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution:

There is special importance to the youth and students—both among the most oppressed and among the middle classes—because, even with all the bullshit that this system works to get the youth caught up in, they are less “invested” in the way things are and less worn down to accepting that this is the only way things could be.39

This is a very important point of orientation in relation to everything that I’ve been speaking to, including the individualism that exerts such a strong pull—yes, among the younger generations as well as the whole of society. There is the phenomenon where the youth are coming up against the fact that their future is growing more and more bleak under this system; it is becoming harder and harder not to be aware of this, no matter how much some people may try. And it is the truth that, as a general phenomenon, youth are the ones who take initiative in challenging “the way things are” and the much-propagated insistence on “doing what is realistic” (which actually means going along with, doing nothing meaningful to oppose, the continuing horrors perpetrated by this system).

Here again let’s go back to the youth in the 1960s and what I was saying about the daring and determination of youth at that time to reject and repudiate everything putrid that was embodied in this system, and to have the belief and the determination that it was possible and necessary to strive for a much different and better world and that revolution was what was required to make this happen. In this connection, we should revive the slogan that was raised by the youth in particular in the May 1968 uprising in France: “Soyons réalistes, demandons l’impossible!”—“Be realistic, demand the impossible!” This is another expression of the defiance and daring of the youth. The refusal to accept what was “realistic” and “possible” was crucial to the orientation of breaking out of the suffocating confines imposed by the existing system. And this was combined with, and in an overall sense based on, a conviction that a radically different and better world than this is both necessary and possible. As this was characterized in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, speaking to this period in this country:

By 1968 and for several years after, there were large numbers of people in this country, including millions of youth from the middle class as well as masses of poor and oppressed people, who were motivated by a thoroughly justified hatred of this system and aspirations for a radically different and better world—and this reached deeply into the system’s own armed forces—even if the understanding of most was marked by revolutionary sentiment which, while righteous, was lacking in any deep and consistent scientific basis.40

Breaking Free of Parasitic Individualism

However, in terms of the youth today, and facing problems squarely, in a significant way we are back to the problem, particularly in this country, of individualism, which is bound up with the extreme parasitism of this society and its relation to the rest of the world. As pointed out in THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! the USA is “sitting atop a lopsided world of profound inequalities and plunder of the environment (it would take the resources of nearly 5 Earths for the rest of the world to have the kind of ‘consumer society’ that exists in the U.S.).”41

And here it is worth recounting something I saw on the news recently—a woman who was commenting on the recent scientific report about the prospect of the extinction of a million species and its relation to the growing environmental crisis. She said something to the effect that it is going to take a whole change in society and in people’s thinking, a whole different way people consume things, we’re not gonna be able to continue consuming the way we are and having the kind of society that we do, if we’re gonna avoid a real catastrophe (I’m paraphrasing, but this is the essence of what she said). Then she went into what could be called a “Jared Diamond mode,” talking about how we have to appeal to the heads of business and government and so on, that they have to make these changes for the future and the benefit of humanity—which, of course, is completely unrealistic. As we have scientifically analyzed, even if they wanted to, they couldn’t make the kind of changes that are necessary.

But there is the “5 Earths” question. It has been pointed out that, if we make revolution and have socialism in this country as part of the world revolution, there are not going to be all the designer coffees that people, particularly in the middle class, have now when they go to someplace like Starbucks. The necessary change in the way people relate, and in their values—all that can only be brought about with the change in the underlying conditions, that is, the economic system (the mode of production) and the social relations, and along with that the political system, institutions, structures and processes. It has to be a whole revolution dealing with every one of those “4 Alls” and their interrelation.

The problem of extreme individualism among the youth today (even if much of this is more in the category of oblivious individualism) cannot be skirted around or avoided, but has to be taken head-on. This individualism is reinforced by what could be called the infantilization of the youth in this country, particularly now speaking of youth in the middle class (or sections of the middle class). On the one hand, many are extremely pampered, or coddled: “Oh, Janie, what do you feel like having for dinner tonight—you don’t want what has been prepared—well, would you like something else to be made for you? ...Johnnie, do you want to put on your pajamas and go to bed, or do you want to stay up until you can’t stay up any more? It would be really wrong for me to impose my views on you. After all, we’re all human beings here and we can’t have any micro aggressions against the youth.”  Now, obviously, I’m caricaturing and hyperbolizing here somewhat, but not completely.

So, on the one hand, they are coddled, but at the same time they’re commodified. There is a kind of an unholy combination here, if you will, of being coddled and being commodified—the pampering goes hand-in-hand with the fevered competition to get these youth on the track to wealth and privilege. Not only do you have to go to the best high school, not only do you have to go to the best middle school, not only do you have to go to the best elementary school, not only do you have to go to the best kindergarten, not only do you have to go to the best nursery school, but you have to go to the best pre-nursery school in order to get on a track where you can go to an elite university and become part of the well-off stratum that you are “entitled” to be part of. (This is also related to the phenomenon where, in defiance of overwhelming scientific evidence that vaccines against common childhood diseases are safe when administered properly, some parents from the privileged strata refuse to have their children get these vaccines, even with the very negative consequences this can have for children, and society, more generally.)

In The New Communism, I invoked what I called the George Carlin phenomenon, where in one of his routines he starts talking about this phenomenon of parents pampering their kids. They won’t let them roll around in the dirt or do anything like that—they always have to be  “protected” beyond what is necessary and reasonable. In this routine Carlin points out that, within reasonable limits, it’s actually good for kids to go out and roll around in the dirt, even to eat some dirt, because that can help build up their immunity. Then, a little ways into this routine, he poses this provocative question: “He’s not gonna say something bad about little kids, is he?”—and then he immediately and emphatically answers: “Yes, he is!” Well, invoking this routine by Carlin, I sharply posed in The New Communism: “He’s not gonna say that the youth should rebel against their parents, is he?” “Yes, he is!” Not that the parents I’m referring to here are “the enemy” or should be treated as part of the enemy, but the point is that this whole way in which the youth are being coddled and commodified and raised in a certain parasitic environment, among sections of the middle class especially, has to be struggled against. There needs to be a rebellion against this on the part of the youth, as part of an overall rebellion against the whole way in which this society functions and the whole putrid ethos and culture it spews forth.

This problem is also heightened by the nature of the educational system in this country, including its lack of emphasis on—and in fact its undermining of—critical thinking. Everything is now geared to “getting on the right track,” studying for the test, taking only those courses in school that can lead to the “right” career and income. Even youth who would like to do something different and better—“I would like to study history, I would like to know about anthropology”—are steered away from it because of the tremendous amount of debt they incur if they go to college, and the constant insistence that they have to aspire to be in a certain position in society or their lives will be ruined. And, to refer again to the important observation by Lenin, there is the reality under this system that people are forced to calculate with the stinginess of a miser, forced to compete with each other, in so many spheres of life. There is the reality that, if you don’t get on a certain track and this system remains in effect, your life will be difficult—not anywhere near as difficult as it is for the “wretched of the earth” (to use that phrase), but difficult. But that is the point: This system should not remain in power, and it should not be people’s orientation, with which they are reared from a very, very early age, that this is how you have to make your way in the world, this is the only thing that’s possible, so you just have to do what you can do for yourself within this world as it is. It’s that whole orientation that has to be shattered, that people have to break out of, have to rebel against.

In terms of whether the educational system encourages or actually undermines critical thinking, there is also class and social differentiation with regard to this. Jonathan Kozol in one of his books (I believe it is Savage Inequalities)42 makes the point that the orientation of the educational system of gearing everything to the test reinforces and widens social divides and inequalities. For example, he pointed out that if you go to a suburban school system where the kids come from well-off families and are pretty assured of being able to reproduce that position (he wrote this a couple of decades ago, so maybe it’s a little less true now, but it still describes the situation to a significant degree), the teachers are willing to allow their students to deviate somewhat from the rigid education plan and not strictly do everything for the test, because they know these kids are going to do alright anyway; but, if you go into schools in the inner cities, even the well-meaning teachers, who might like to lead the students to explore many different dimensions of society and nature and many spheres of art and culture, are reluctant to do so because they know that, if the kids don’t bear down on preparation for the test, they are going to really suffer when it comes to taking the test and the implications of that—they are already at a great disadvantage to begin with because of their whole life conditions. So already existing social inequalities are made worse, exacerbated, on this basis.

With all this, there is the fact that overall, and even in regard to students from more well-off backgrounds, the educational system—with its emphasis on STEM (Science, meaning especially “applied science,” particularly related to Technology; Engineering; and Math) and on preparing more elite students for the world of business and finance (and perhaps government), and gearing education overall to competition with other capitalist countries, including the rising rival China—acts to undermine the all-around development of “the life of the mind” and critical thinking as a crucial part of that. (And all this is being made even worse by the Trump/Pence regime, and its Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, who, even before being appointed to this position, had dedicated considerable effort, and millions of dollars, to undermining public education and promoting voucher programs for so-called educational institutions with a Christian fundamentalist agenda and approach—something DeVos is now in a position to carry out on a far greater level, with even more terrible consequences.)

Contrast all this with what is set forth about education in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America,43 where it emphasizes that the purpose of the educational system in this radically new society is “providing not only for literacy and other basic skills and abilities but also for a grounding in the natural and social sciences, as well as art and culture and other spheres, and in the ability to work with ideas in general”; and that “The educational system in the New Socialist Republic in North America must enable people to pursue the truth wherever it leads, with a spirit of critical thinking and scientific curiosity, and in this way to continually learn about the world and be better able to contribute to changing it in accordance with the fundamental interests of humanity.” [emphasis added]

Now, to implement an educational system of this type will require a revolution. But the fundamental orientation that is embodied in this approach to education is something that right now can be and needs to be sharply struggled for, up against all the ways in which this is undermined and distorted under the present educational system serving this oppressive system.

And here we come back to the larger situation with the youth, and a stark example of the problem with the youth today in this country: In many countries youth have been rising up around the environmental crisis—raising the need for rebellion against the status quo and those who are maintaining it (with one part of this youth resistance explicitly calling itself “Extinction Rebellion”), while this country has stood out in the negative sense because, until recently, only small numbers had been involved in this rebellion of youth around the urgent crisis with the environment. More recently, there has been a significant mass outpouring of youth (and others) in this country around the environmental crisis and the existential threat it poses to the future of humanity. This could represent a positive turn in regard to this urgent situation (and more generally), and the question remains, around which there must be ongoing work and struggle: whether this will be limited to one or a few protests and funneled into the functioning of this system and its BEB, which is the fundamental cause and driving force of this environmental crisis—or whether those, and in particular the youth, who have now massively manifested their expressions of deep anxiety and outrage about this crisis, will follow to its logical conclusion their declaration that they refuse to be robbed of a future because those in power are doing nothing meaningful in regard to this increasingly acute crisis—whether those who have mobilized around this crisis will maintain and carry through on the orientation of following science and the truth it brings to light where that actually leads, which will mean confronting the fact that this system is the cause of this rapidly intensifying environmental crisis, and it is necessary to bring about a radical alternative to this whole system in order to have a chance of dealing with this crisis in a way that will hold out the possibility of a future, a future worth living, for the masses of humanity.

For youth who came of age in the 1950s and into the 1960s, the possibility of nuclear annihilation was a continual threat looming in the background—sometimes less and sometimes more intense, and punctuated by episodes of acute existential danger, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s. This was something that, whether you thought about it all the time or not, was always in the background and was a cause of unrest among the youth and the searching, with various levels of consciousness, for a way out of this kind of situation and everything bound up with it. This was a significant part of the basis for the rebellion of youth that arose then, fully spurred on by the civil rights movement and then the liberation movements of oppressed nationalities within the U.S. itself, and anti-colonial national liberation struggles around the world, as well as pseudo-socialist countries like Cuba and actual socialist countries like China, with the mass revolutionary outpouring, particularly of youth, through the Cultural Revolution there, beginning in the mid-1960s.

Today, as the environmental crisis poses a very real existential threat, in particular for the  youth (even as the possibility of nuclear annihilation remains very real), the kind of stirring among youth that is taking place in many countries needs to be further broadened, and at the same time deepened, not only around the particular question of the environmental crisis (as important as that is) but also as a more general rebellion against the way things are and those who are doing nothing to change the way things are, and who can do nothing to fundamentally change the way things are, because they are the functionaries and enforcers of the existing system, which is the basis for things being the way they are and for the direction in which they are heading, posing a very real existential threat to humanity as a whole as well as imposing, on a daily basis, horrendous oppression of the great masses of humanity.

In an overall sense, there is an urgent need to dig into and struggle fiercely against the things that are keeping the youth in this country in particular confined within the limits of this system, with its BEB—a system which is the fundamental cause not only of the intensifying environmental crisis but all the other horrors to which the masses of humanity are subjected and with which humanity as a whole is confronted. It is important to keep clearly in mind—and to carry out the necessary work, including the necessarily sharp struggle, to bring to life and give expression in the fullest way to—what I have cited here from Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution about the positive qualities of youth in relation to the need for fundamental change, for revolution whose ultimate goal is a radically new, communist world, with the abolition of all exploitative and oppressive systems and relations, and the antagonistic conflicts to which they give rise.

(Here, I have spoken to what I believe can be identified as forces and influences on youth, particularly in the U.S., that are working to confine their thinking and actions within certain definite limits and constraining them from acting in a way that is commensurate with and required by the terrible suffering and acute crises to which the masses of humanity, and ultimately humanity as a whole, is subjected and with which it is confronted. At the same time, it is important to emphasize the need for further, ongoing active investigation, among youth broadly, to more fully and deeply learn about, analyze and synthesize a scientific understanding of what is keeping masses of youth, of different strata, from acting in the ways that the urgent situation, and the fundamental interests of humanity, demand, and to carry out an even more powerful and effective struggle to break the masses of youth—basic oppressed youth and educated youth of the middle strata—out of the confines and free of the constraints that are holding them back from acting as the creative and daring force of determined revolutionary struggle that they can, and urgently need to, become.)

No Permanent Necessity—and Hope, on a Scientific Basis: A Radically Different and Far Better World Really Is Possible, But It Must Be Fought For!

Here again it is important to speak to what is (and what is not) the basis for revolution. The basis for revolution lies not in what people are thinking or doing at any given time, but resides in the fundamental relations and contradictions of the system which cause tremendous suffering but which are unresolvable under this system. At the beginning of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, it speaks to “the intolerable outrages that are continually perpetrated by this system and that cause so much unnecessary suffering for the masses of humanity” and then it points to the crucial question of why these horrors are continually perpetrated by this system—and what it will take to make all these outrages really stop. It focuses attention on these contradictions:

Why are Black people, Latinos, and Native Americans subjected to genocidal persecution, mass incarceration, police brutality, and murder?

Why is there the patriarchal degradation, dehumanization, and subjugation of all women everywhere, and oppression based on gender or sexual orientation?

Why are there wars of empire, armies of occupation, and crimes against humanity?

Why is there the demonization, criminalization, and deportations of immigrants and the militarization of the border?

Why is the environment of our planet being destroyed?

It continues:

These are what we call the “5 STOPS”—deep and defining contradictions of this system, with all the suffering and destruction they cause, which must be protested and resisted in a powerful way, with a real determination to stop them, but which can only be finally ended by putting an end to this system itself.

And it goes on:

Why, along with all this, do we live in a world where large parts of humanity live in stark poverty, with 2.3 billion people lacking even rudimentary toilets or latrines and huge numbers suffering from preventable diseases, with millions of children dying every year from these diseases and from starvation, while 150 million children in the world are forced to engage in ruthlessly exploited child labor, and the whole world economy rests on a vast network of sweatshops, employing large numbers of women who are regularly subjected to sexual harassment and assault, a world where 65 million refugees have been displaced by war, poverty, persecution, and the effects of global warming?

Why is this the state of humanity?44

Why is this the state of humanity when the fundamental basis exists, in terms of the productive forces at hand, for all human beings everywhere to be free from all these conditions? As explained, in a concentrated way, in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution:

There is one fundamental reason: the basic nature of the system of capitalism-imperialism that we live under and the way, because of its very nature, it continually perpetrates horror after horror.45

This is also expressed in a concentrated way in HOW WE CAN WIN:

This system of capitalism-imperialism cannot be reformed. There is no way, under this system, to put an end to the brutality and murder by police, the wars and destruction of people and the environment, the exploitation, oppression and degradation of millions and billions of people, including the half of humanity that is female, here and throughout the world—all of which is rooted in profound contradictions built into the basic functioning, relations, and structures of this system. Only an actual revolution can bring about the fundamental change that is needed.46

And in Part 2 of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, it speaks directly to this critical contradiction:

It is true that, shaped as they are by this system, the masses of people, in any part of society, don’t know shit and have their heads up their asses, when it comes to an understanding of how things really are, why they are the way they are, and what could and should be done about this. But this stands in sharp contradiction to another important truth—that millions of people really do care about one or more, and many care about all, of the “5 STOPS.” This is a contradiction that we have to go to work on, to move masses of people in the direction of the revolution that is needed to finally put a stop to those “5 STOPS” and the horrific conditions to which the masses of humanity are constantly subjected.47

So there is need—a pressing need, but also the possibility and the means—for waging, on a scientific basis, a determined struggle to raise people’s sights, bring forward and give meaningful expression to the aspirations they do have for a better world. And here is the importance of not only what’s said in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution about this, but also the importance of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, as well as the Points of Attention for the Revolution, which bring alive and give reality and clear expression to the possibility of a positive radical alternative to the present horrific world.

Here, once again, it is important to learn from historical experience. Going back to what I was saying earlier about the 1960s and what is spoken to about this in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, in a real sense 1968 can be seen as a turning point—with things dividing into two, into a main and a secondary phenomenon. To put this sharply, it could be said that, in the United States in particular, 1968 represented the end of a big illusion, including for people who were striving sincerely and vigorously for a different and better world. In 1968, not only were there the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, which shattered certain illusions, but it also became clear that it would not be possible to bring a better world into being by, as some people thought of it, “making America live up to what it’s supposed to be all about.” This was an illusion which even some of the more radical-minded people had still carried along with them. To use that phrase, they had “two kinds of goods in stock.” As I pointed out in an earlier essay (which was included in Reflections, Sketches & Provocations,48 more than 30 years ago), Phil Ochs was a kind of personification of this very intense contradiction. On the one hand, he had some very good songs, very appropriate songs like “Love Me, Love Me, I’m a Liberal,” with its searing exposure of liberalism’s hypocrisy and half-hearted opposition to oppression, which very much applies today (that song has one unfortunate anti-lesbian line—or something not actually part of the song but which Ochs spontaneously added during a live performance which was recorded—but in an overall sense what the song is getting at still very much applies and remains very relevant today). And he had songs like “Cops of the World,” which is also very relevant today, with biting ironic lines like “And the name of our profits is democracy / so like it or not you will have to be free, / ’cause we are the cops of the world.” And there was his song about “The Ringing of Revolution.”  Then, on the other hand, as he himself pointed out, he also had a song lamenting the death of John Kennedy—not just lamenting his death but being naive about and romanticizing what was represented by Kennedy. Ochs himself commented on this contradiction. He said, “I still can’t get away from this feeling about Kennedy and that’s why a lot of my Marxist friends think I’m an idiot,” or something to that effect. My point is not to pick on Phil Ochs, who met a tragic end in suicide. The point, again, is that he was kind of a personification of the end of the illusion that somehow you could make this country be a force for good in the world and live up to what are supposed to be the better aspirations embodied in its founding. (Of course, that there was an “end” to this illusion was true only in a relative and temporary sense. With the ebbing of the radical upsurge of that time, and major changes that occurred in the world, and within the U.S. itself, that were associated with—and also continued after—that ebb, the influence of this and similar illusions and delusions was reasserted as a major phenomenon. This is something to which I will speak further shortly).

So there was a dividing out—and there was a main and a secondary aspect or phenomenon. The main aspect was that huge numbers of people became further radicalized and recognized—even if in somewhat undeveloped or inchoate ways, but still in a basic way—the unreformability of the system. And the secondary phenomenon at that time was that some people became disoriented and demoralized, and gave up (or became, as the French say, “récupéré”), went back into working for (or at least within) the system, even if they kept alive some progressive inclinations and aspirations. So this was a real dividing out and, again, the main aspect was the further radicalization of large numbers of people, precisely on the basis of recognizing more fully, if not fully scientifically, that it was not possible to make America a force for good in the world. This included people who had at first opposed the Vietnam war on the basis of thinking that it was just a “mistake,” or something that just a section of the ruling class (or the “power structure”) was responsible for, but in huge numbers came to see that this war flowed out of the basic nature and the basic necessities of imperialism, in particular U.S. imperialism.

But we know that, since that upsurge of the late 1960s and into the early 1970s, there have been major changes in the world, including many negative changes, from which we also have to draw the appropriate and necessary lessons. There have been changes in the objective situation. For example, not only has there been the defeat of revolution and socialism in China with the restoration of capitalism there, and the emergence of China as an imperialist power itself, contending with the U.S. and other imperialists; but there has more broadly been the shifting of things in the Third World. With regard to a lot of the forces that were struggling for national liberation in the Third World in the period after the end of World War 2 (in 1945) into the early and mid-1970s (and some of these struggles continued, in one form or another, into the 1990s), those revolutions or liberation struggles ran their course: either they were defeated, or they turned into something else, something other than revolutionary, and became absorbed within the overall imperialist system. And many of the people who were leading those liberation struggles in that period (or their descendants, literally or politically) have now become either outright bourgeois rulers and appendages of imperialism, or have ceased to play a significant role. (This is a phenomenon I discussed in The New Communism.)

So this is another major change. There was what happened in Vietnam when the U.S. was forced out and finally the regime the U.S. had been propping up was toppled in 1975, but then the Vietnamese turned increasingly to the Soviet Union, which was itself an imperialist power (“social-imperialist,” as we say—socialist still in name, at that time, but imperialist in fact and in deed). The Vietnamese leadership turned to the Soviet Union for economic and other backing, and this led them down a path which, especially when the Soviet Union itself unraveled, caused Vietnam to become basically another Third World country being plundered by imperialists against whom the Vietnamese people had heroically fought, including especially the U.S.; and today there is the bitter reality that Vietnam has become part of the international network of sweatshops for imperialist capital.

And then there was the phenomenon of Cambodia, which started out as a liberation struggle in the face of horrendous destruction of that country by the U.S., which many people have been led to forget about or simply do not know about—the massive bombing and destruction of that country by the U.S.—and then in the mid-’70s the Khmer Rouge came to power, which had been leading the resistance to imperialism in that country, but which then perpetrated all kinds of terrible things on the basis of a whole wrong outlook, while doing so in the name of Marxism or communism.

All this became very disorienting to people. Obviously, I don’t have time here to go into all this—I’ve examined important aspects of this in some other works (including The New Communism), and it is important to grasp the essential lessons involved in this experience, both because of the way that the imperialists and their intellectual camp followers have used this to slander genuine communism, but also and more fundamentally in order to deepen the scientific approach to waging the struggle to defeat imperialism and bring into a being a new, emancipating society, with all the profound and complex contradictions involved in this. The point here, in terms of the shifts that have occurred since the widespread revolutionary upsurge of the 1960s and into the mid-1970s, is that a lot of these things became disorienting and demoralizing to people—people who had fought hard against the war in Vietnam, people who had been in the streets in support of liberation struggles around the world and had been active in the fight against oppression in the U.S. itself.

There has also been the phenomenon that the ruling class in this country, while viciously suppressing the basic masses of oppressed people—among Black people, for example—also worked to generate larger numbers of middle class and bourgeois forces among Black people, as a buffer against the oppressive conditions and the potential for massive uprising among the masses of people.

All this, again, has had a negative effect on masses of people, in particular with regard to the possibility, and even the desirability, of determined struggle to bring about the fundamental transformation of society and of people. On the part of different strata there has been, as a mass phenomenon over the decades since the 1960s upsurge, accommodation, or at least “adjustment,” to this “new reality.” I say accommodation, “or at least adjustment” (of differing kinds),  because with regard to many of those millions and millions of middle class educated youth who became radicalized and genuinely revolutionary-minded in that period—and were not just playing a game, but were sincere—a lot of them, with these changing conditions, fell back into being “realistic” and going back and working within the system, even as they held on to a watered-down version of their radical and revolutionary sentiments.

Among the basic masses of people, including Black people (not the more middle class strata being developed through conscious ruling class policy, but the masses of oppressed people), there was a tremendous amount of demoralization and sense of defeat, and the introduction (including through deliberate ruling class policy and action) of massive amounts of drugs further intensified the desperate conditions of the basic masses and further reinforced the sense of demoralization. A lot of people were dying or being reduced to broken wretches on the basis of turning to drugs out of despair—the lack of hope, or the death, in immediate terms, of the hope that inspired so many people, on a real basis, through the course of the 1960s upsurge, which had now ebbed and been transformed. And this situation was made even more desperate and demoralizing with the growth of gangs in the ghettos and barrios of this country (as well as internationally), with youth drawn to the gangs in conditions of increasing deprivation and desperation and what was for most the illusion of getting rich, with the orientation of “get rich or die trying,” fueled by the growth of the drug trade and the influence of the putrid culture promoted throughout society that fostered and extolled the exploitation and degradation of others as the means for making it big, whether on Wall Street and on the world stage, or on the streets in the neighborhoods of the inner city.

Along with all this, there has been a relentless ruling class political and ideological counter-offensive—a relentless assault on communism, and indeed on every positive radical element of that mass upsurge (of, more or less, the mid-’60s to the mid-’70s)—while at the same time there has been the “denaturing” (that is, the watering down and distorting) of that positive upsurge into different, and often opposing, “identities” and the corresponding notions of truth and the right to speak as a matter of “identity” and “identity standpoint” (a phenomenon that has also provided a convenient target and vehicle for the growing fascist forces to attack the struggle against very real oppression and injustice, while this “identity” politics and ideology offers no real solution to that oppression and injustice and no real alternative to the system that has bred this fascism).

Among the revolutionary forces themselves—and in particular our own Party, which has the responsibility to be a genuine vanguard of the revolution—these “terrible decades,” and this relentless ideological and political assault over these decades, has taken a terrible toll, leading in large part to an abandonment of the goal, or any serious orientation toward, revolution and communism, and even a doubting of whether this is in fact a positive radical alternative to the present world order—all of which has necessitated a Cultural Revolution in this Party which has gone on over more than 15 years and is still continuing, although in new forms and with new priorities, with this taking a concentrated expression in the ongoing Revolution Tour (the “National Get Organized for An ACTUAL Revolution Tour”)49 to take revolution out broadly, among basic masses, students and other sections of the people, impact the country as a whole, create a great stir in society around the question of revolution and communism which has been strikingly lacking from the political landscape and the culture, and to concretely organize now thousands of people, new people coming forward into this revolution, while working to influence millions, as a key part of hastening and preparing for the conditions where it will be possible to carry out the revolutionary struggle to defeat and dismantle this horrific system and its institutions of violent repression, and bring into being a radically new, emancipatory society based on the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America.

Here it is necessary to speak to the “toxic combination” that is described in the article “THE NEW COMMUNISM COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING—IF...” which appeared in Revolution, the situation “characterized by the predominance of anti-scientific revisionism in both our own Party and the international movements, combined with the frustrating degree to which masses of all the different strata have NOT been correctly identifying the source of ‘the problem’ confronting society and all of humanity, or have not been in any serious way looking for this kind of ‘solution.’”50

This “toxic combination” formulation acutely poses the problem, and it is to this acute problem that the Revolution Tour is addressing itself, because the point is that instead of—in opposition to—capitulating to this “toxic combination” and the overall difficulties, the challenge must be met of radically transforming this. As this article goes on immediately to emphasize: “We have to confront this reality, and yet figure out ways to not let it defeat us.”

An important part of overcoming this “toxic combination” is dealing with the contradiction that is posed near the end of Part 1 of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, in terms of what we do have, and what we don’t have and urgently need in relation to the revolution that is the fundamental solution to the problem facing the masses of humanity and ultimately humanity as a whole. This is how I posed that contradiction in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution:

Particularly because of the work I have done and the leadership I have been providing over the decades since the 1960s, we do have the further development of the scientific method and approach to revolution, with the new communism; we have the strategic approach and plan for making this revolution; we have the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, a sweeping vision and concrete “blueprint” for a radically new and emancipating society aiming for the emancipation of humanity as a whole. But let’s be straight up: what we do not have, yet, are masses of people who are won to revolution and driven to work for it, especially youth, who are always the driving force of any revolution; and, although we have the foundation and scaffolding of revolutionary organization that could be built on and expanded into a vanguard force capable of actually leading the revolution all the way through, we do not yet have the necessary cadre of leadership, on all levels and in all parts of the country, who have not only the determination but also the scientific grounding to lead the masses who must be brought forward in making revolution.51

This is the contradiction that growing numbers of people—those who have been involved in working for this revolution for some time, and those who are new to this revolution—must actively apply ourselves to addressing, and solving. And a key part of this is putting the problems of the revolution before the masses of people, including people who are just being introduced to and beginning to become part of this movement for an actual revolution, and involving them in helping to solve these problems.

As spoken to in Breakthroughs:

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.52

And, as has been emphasized recently:

It seems that there may still be some reluctance to put this aspect (our shortcomings, and the pressing needs) directly and plainly to the people we are encountering. In opposition to any such reluctance, it is important to stress that actually putting before the masses, including people we are encountering for the first time, the problems and needs of the revolution, and involving them, from the beginning, in helping to solve (and in certain aspects to further identify and help solve) the problems and needs of this revolution is a crucial part of actually making the breakthroughs we urgently need to make in building a real movement for an actual revolution, and is in fact a key part of organizing people into the revolution.

It is also emphasized that this needs to be done not with hype but with genuine “élan and enthusiasm” that comes from knowing that people can play an active part, together with others, in developing collectivities, in “bringing their creative ideas into the scientific process” of solving both immediate and strategic problems of this revolution, which, with all its difficulties and challenges, represents the way forward, the only way forward, out of the horrors that are daily life for the masses of humanity, and the looming disaster for humanity as a whole, under the domination of this system of capitalism-imperialism.

In opposition to this monstrosity of a system, its towering crimes against humanity, and the putrid ways of thinking and culture it continually spews forth, there is great importance to boldly putting forward the positive alternative: the science, the leadership, the strategy for revolution and a sweeping and concrete vision and plan for a radically new, emancipating society and world.

In conclusion, as I put it in From Ike to Mao and Beyond:

If you have had a chance to see the world as it really is, there are profoundly different roads you can take with your life. You can just get into the dog-eat-dog, and most likely get swallowed up by that while trying to get ahead in it. You can put your snout into the trough and try to scarf up as much as you can, while scrambling desperately to get more than others. Or you can try to do something that would change the whole direction of society and the whole way the world is. When you put those things alongside each other, which one has any meaning, which one really contributes to anything worthwhile? Your life is going to be about something—or it’s going to be about nothing. And there is nothing greater your life can be about than contributing whatever you can to the revolutionary transformation of society and the world, to put an end to all systems and relations of oppression and exploitation and all the unnecessary suffering and destruction that goes along with them. I have learned that more and more deeply through all the twists and turns and even the great setbacks, as well as the great achievements, of the communist revolution so far, in what are really still its early stages historically....

When I look at all this, I think again of my friend who decided to dedicate his life to ending cancer—and of the even greater need to put an end to this system of capitalism-imperialism and all the suffering and oppression this system embodies and enforces throughout the world. You see that there isn’t anything more important that your life could be about, and whatever you end up contributing during the course of your lifetime is the most important and the most uplifting thing that you could possibly do. And yes, there are moments of great disappointment, but also moments of great joy as part of this. There is the joy that comes from seeing the ways in which people break free of constraints and rise up and begin to see the world as it really is and take up more consciously the struggle to change it. There is the joy of knowing that you are part of this whole process and contributing what you can to it. There is the joy of the camaraderie of being together with others in this struggle and knowing that it is something worthwhile, that it is not something petty and narrow that you are involved in but something uplifting. There is the joy of looking to the future and envisioning the goal that you are struggling for and seeing people come to even a beginning understanding of what that could mean, not just for themselves but for society, for humanity as a whole.53

 

NOTES

1. 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]

2. 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 (Insight Press, 2015). Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

3. Bob Avakian, Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World (Insight Press, 2005). [back]

4. Bob Avakian, THE NEW COMMUNISM: The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation (Insight Press, 2016). Also available as an eBook. Also available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

5. Marx to Kugelmann, 1868, cited in Communism: The Beginning of a New Stage, A Manifesto from the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, September 2008 (RCP Publications, 2009). Available at revcom.us. [back]

6. Bob Avakian, “‘A Leap of Faith’ and a Leap to Rational Knowledge: Two Very Different Kinds of Leaps, Two Radically Different Worldviews and Methods,” Revolution #10, July 31, 2005. Available at revcom.us, thebobavakianinstitute.org and BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian. [back]

7. Bob Avakian, Ruminations and Wranglings: On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning. From a talk given in 2009. Revolution, May-September 2009. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

8. REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion; A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN (2015). Film of the November 2014 dialogue available as a 2-DVD set from revcom.us.  Also available online at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

9. As explained on the website RefuseFascism.org:

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

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—joining together behind the single unifying demand: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go—NOW!

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. [back]

10. Raymond Lotta, “Slavoj Žižek Is a Puffed-Up Idiot Who Does Great Damage,” Revolution, updated November 15, 2016. Available at revcom.us.   [back]

11. Edward Wasserman, “Julian Assange and the War on Whistle-Blowers,” New York Times, April 27, 2019. [back]

12. Bob Avakian, “The Fascists and the Destruction of the ‘Weimar Republic’... And What Will Replace It,” Revolution, July 16, 2018; originally posted July 24, 2005. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

13. Bob Avakian, “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,” Revolution, June 27, 2005. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

14. Paul Krugman, “Racism Comes Out of the Closet,” New York Times, July 15, 2019. [back]

15. 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]

16. Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger, “Just a Face in the Crowd? Not Anymore,” New York Times, April 18, 2019. [back]

17. Bob Avakian, BREAKTHROUGHS: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism; A Basic Summary. Updated prepublication copy, April 10, 2019. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

18. Bob Avakian, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, A Memoir by Bob Avakian (Insight Press, 2005). Excerpts in Revolution and audio of Bob Avakian reading selections from his memoir are available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

19. 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, A Talk by Bob Avakian. Film of a talk given in 2017. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

20. Bob Avakian, “3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better,” May 1, 2016. Available at revcom.us. [back]

21. Bob Avakian, “The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us,” a talk given in 2017. Revolution, August 31, 2017. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

22. Bob Avakian, BAsics from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian (RCP Publications, 2011). Also available as a free eBook at revcom.us.  [back]

23. Ibid. [back]

24. “All Played Out,” spoken word piece with words by Bob Avakian and music by William Parker (Centeringmusic BMI, 2011). Available at soundcloud.com/allplayedout.  Also available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

25. Karl Marx, Grundrisse, translated with a foreword by Martin Nicolaus, Penguin Books/New Left Review, "The Chapter on Money," pp. 163-64, emphasis in original.  Cited in Bob Avakian, Ruminations and Wranglings: On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning. From a talk given in 2009. Revolution, May-September 2009. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

26. Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (Foreign Languages Press Peking, First Edition, 1878). [back]

27. Avakian, Ruminations and Wranglings.
*Bob Avakian, Making Revolution and Emancipating Humanity. A talk by Bob Avakian, Revolution,  October 2007-February 2008. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

28. Avakian, BREAKTHROUGHS. [back]

29. Bob Avakian, Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy (RCP Publications, 2008). Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org. [back]

30. Karl Marx, The Poverty of Philosophy (Foreign Languages Press Peking, Third Edition, 1977). [back]

31. Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme (Foreign Languages Press Peking, First Edition, 1972). [back]

32. Bob Avakian, Ruminations and Wranglings: On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning. From a talk given in 2009. Revolution, May-September 2009. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.org.

*Bob Avakian, Out Into the World—As a Vanguard of the Future. From a talk given in 2008. Revolution, February-April 2009. Available at revcom.us and thebobavakianinstitute.

**Comrade Damián García, a much-loved member of the RCP, was assassinated by police agents in Los Angeles on April 22, 1980. Two weeks earlier he had raised the red flag over the Alamo, in place of the Texas flag, as part of the campaign to bring forward a revolutionary outpouring for May Day 1980. Bob Avakian’s “Statement on the Death of Damián García” was published in Revolutionary Worker (now Revolution) #51, April 25, 1980. A portion of it is quoted in his memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist (Insight Press, 2005), pp. 408-409. [back]

33. Ardea Skybreak, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism—Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters (Insight Press, 2006). [back]

34. Avakian, Ruminations and Wranglings. [back]

35. Avakian, BAsics. [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. The 6 Points of Attention for the Revolution

The Revolution Club upholds, lives by and fights for the following principles:

1. We base ourselves on and strive to represent the highest interests of humanity: revolution and communism. We do not tolerate using the revolution for personal gain.

2. We fight for a world where ALL the chains are broken. Women, men, and differently gendered people are equals and comrades. We do not tolerate physically or verbally abusing women or treating them as sexual objects, nor do we tolerate insults or “jokes” about people’s gender or sexual orientation.

3. We fight for a world without borders, and for equality among different peoples, cultures and languages. We do not tolerate insults, “jokes” or derogatory names about a person’s race, nationality, or language.

4. We stand with the most oppressed and never lose sight of their potential to emancipate humanity—nor of our responsibility to lead them to do that. We work to win people of all backgrounds to take part in the revolution, and do not tolerate revenge among the people.

5. We search for and fight for the truth no matter how unpopular, even as we listen to and learn from the observations, insights and criticisms of others.

6.  We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people. [back]

38. Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. [back]

39. Ibid. [back]

40. Ibid. [back]

41. Avakian, THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! [back]

42. Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities (Crown Publisher, 1991). [back]

43. 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]

44. Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. [back]

45. Ibid. [back]

46. Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, “HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution.” [back]

47. Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. [back]

48. Bob Avakian, Reflections, Sketches & Provocations: Essays and Commentary, 1981 - 1987 (RCP Publications, 1990). [back]

49. For more information about the “National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour,” go to revcom.us. [back]

50. “THE NEW COMMUNISM COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING—IF...,” Revolution, March 15, 2018.  Available at revcom.us. [back]

51. Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. [back]

52. Avakian, BREAKTHROUGHS. [back]

53. Avakian, From Ike to Mao and Beyond. [back]

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/426/from-vietnam-war-vet-us-troops-are-not-heroes-but-murderers-and-baby-killers-en.html

From a Vietnam War Vet:

We Were Baby Killers for U.S. Imperialism

Originally posted February 15, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

Over fifty years ago, in January 1967, the U.S. troops occupying Vietnam began a major military offensive against Vietnamese forces fighting to liberate their country. The heroic struggle of the Vietnamese people, combined with upsurge of opposition within the U.S., would lead to the defeat of the U.S. imperialists in Vietnam. The war in Vietnam is part of a whole bloody history of U.S. wars, invasions, and aggression against countries and people fighting for their liberation. There’s a responsibility for people in the U.S. to understand that “America was NEVER great” and oppose all the crimes carried out by the U.S. imperialists around the world.

We are reposting this piece from a Vietnam War vet, who was not yet in Vietnam in 1967 but has important things to say about the massacres and other horrors that the U.S. committed during the war against the Vietnamese people.

 

I am writing to revcom.us/Revolution because this is the one place that consistently stands with the people of the world against all forms of oppression and for a radically different and far better world. The reason for this letter is the current wave of patriotism, using America’s soldiers and veterans to justify every conceivable crime and atrocity being carried out by the “troops,” i.e., the U.S. military.

I speak from a whole lot of experience—from both sides of the political battles—supporting and defending U.S. wars and then serving in Vietnam, where I began to learn the truth about America’s bloody, genocidal history.

Right now there is a major campaign to raise millions of dollars in the Wounded Warrior Campaign, for medical care for the wounded veterans of America’s current wars around the globe. Now, let’s set something straight first—they are not heroes but murderers and baby killers. Nowhere in American mainstream media and culture do you find the people we are killing, torturing, droning, raping—the people of the world do not matter in the path of America’s march across the earth. There is no honor in being a soldier in the U.S. military that has invaded every corner of the world and nearly every country on the planet. There is no pride in torturing people across the globe, invading people’s homes and beating up the occupants in the name of the “War on Terror.” The U.S. is actually carrying out a “War OF Terror” against the people of the world. In fact, it can be said with historical certainty that the wholesale slaughter of tens of millions of people is “The American Way” and that, except for the Civil War, there has never been anything honorable about serving in the U.S. military. As I tell youth when I go into high schools as part of the We Are Not Your Soldiers Campaign, you are going to be part of a military that is about killing the people of the world for profit and empire!

You can be sure that whenever there is a stepped-up campaign of patriotism and flag waving, there are also stepped-up military actions that need to be supported by the unthinking and the privileged, while the rest of us are supposed to shrink back, and not speak the truth, as atrocities are carried out in our names. Right now all over Africa and the Middle East there are and have been hundreds of secret military operations, assassinations, kidnappings, and murders galore by special operations teams, while the myth is promoted that “there are no ground forces” in those places. These are American “death squads,” all with the story that this is what is needed to protect “us from the terrorists” when the truth is that the United States is the biggest terrorist on the planet.

Villagers massacred by U.S. Army troops at My Lai in Vietnam, March 16, 1968.Villagers massacred by U.S. Army troops at My Lai in Vietnam, March 16, 1968.

GIs refuse to go out on patrol, AK Valley, Vietnam, September 1969
GIs refuse to return to combat, AK Valley, Vietnam, September 1969.

What I am saying here is not my opinion, but history and, yes, science. Because this is not a case of human nature, or bad people, or even the nature of being in the military. No, I learned, through bitter lessons in Vietnam and back here in the American empire, that we live in a capitalist-imperialist system that will go to any length, commit every crime imaginable, to defend and spread this empire of profit and exploitation across the globe. From the banana fields in Guatemala, to the sweatshops in Bangladesh, to the oil of the Middle East, the U.S. has over 700 military bases ringing the globe to defend what the monsters who run this empire call “our interests.” To do that, the military and the powers that be need the bodies and minds of young people, mainly men and some women, to carry out the crimes. So, how do they do this?

They do this in many different ways, and especially through the racism, lies, manipulation, and fear that are a normal part of American culture and education. This is reinforced by a brutal and cruel brainwashing of the young soldiers called “basic training” to instill in them blind obedience to orders, concern only for American lives, and a “shoot first and kill all” mentality in these young brains. Then, when these soldiers return home, they are used again, and especially the wounded ones, these killers for empire, as sympathy and pity for them is drummed up to justify continued murder and torture. The message that is driven home is that the only lives that matter are American lives.

Now I know that some people will say that these soldiers are victims too of this imperialist system. My answer is that these soldiers and vets have a choice: they can cross over to the side of the people of the world and tell the truth about what they saw and did or forever face the world’s condemnation as the baby killers and murderers they are.

It is true that today’s generation born after 9/11 have no real memory of the turmoil of the 1960s and how tens of millions came to oppose the war in Vietnam and the American empire in many different ways, including massive opposition to the war right in the U.S. military. For this same generation, what happened in Vietnam 50 years ago is as ancient history to them as was my growing up listening to WW2 veterans tell their stories. After the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center (the murder of 3,000 innocent people by a group of terrorists in the name of Islamic fundamentalism), the United States used them to carry out and justify the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of drone killings in many countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and torture and murder by the military and the CIA at prisons and “black sites.” This is the reality of the world we live in today and lessons from the past must really serve helping to end all this madness. No more stupid and meaningless “war stories.”

The process of how I came to end up in Vietnam is instructive because today’s young soldiers and vets can see similarities to how they have been manipulated and lied to. Back then, in my schooling, the only ideas I learned about America’s wars were the necessity and the wonder and glory of fighting them. On television I learned to cheer for the cowboys as they killed multitudes of Native Americans, while the war movies portrayed Americans as right and justified in defending our way of life. Watch the movie Purple Heart and the racist portrayal of the Japanese. In the 8th grade I won an American Legion Americanism award for an essay I wrote about patriotism. In high school my history teachers, Mr. Gavigan and Mr. Murphy, had the maps that showed communism as evil and taking over all of Asia, especially Vietnam. I even worked for Barry Goldwater after high school when he ran for president in 1964. I was at the first antiwar demonstration in New York City in spring 1966—to stand on the side in support of the war. I joined Young Americans for Freedom, a right-wing campus group.

So while most of the youth in this country are trained in blind patriotism and kept ignorant of history and the nature of the system we live in, I was political at an early age, and I thought I knew American history and why the country was worth defending. I joined the U.S. Air Force and ended up guarding nuclear weapons in the U.S. at small bases on the East Coast. But, I told myself that I could not be alive at this time and not follow my generation’s calling and go to Vietnam. I arrived there just in time for the Tet Offensive of 1968—a military operation by the Vietnamese revolutionaries against all the major U.S. bases in Vietnam. After four of my fellow soldiers and friends died in that attack, my whole world view fell apart because I began to realize that nothing I had been taught or believed about the nature of U.S. reasons for being in Vietnam were true. I knew nothing about the Vietnamese people, culture, and history. We called the people all sorts of racist terms and nowhere did they count as human beings. I spent my next 11 months coming to oppose the war, to see the humanity of the Vietnamese people and beginning to oppose this lie that Americans are the best people in the world. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Davis and Johnson, two of the many Black guys in my unit who refused to salute the American flag (when a movie was shown on our base), and argued with me about the war, Black history, and that they were talking about coming back home to America to make revolution.

Protest against the Vietnam War, Washington, D.C., April 24, 1971. Photo: Leena Krohn via Wikimedia Commons
Vietnam veterans marching against the war, Washington, D.C., April 24, 1971. Photo: Leena Krohn via Wikimedia Commons

After Vietnam, I joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and became one of its national leaders. And it was here, along with other veterans and the growing soldiers’ movement in the U.S. military worldwide, that we all learned to not just oppose the war but actively resist it. This is where I learned the truth of U.S. history, and not just Vietnam but what America has always been about. I learned about the Sullivan Expedition in the summer of 1779—where Gen. George Washington (yes, that one—the slaveholder) orders a genocidal attack on more than 40 Iroquois villages—destroying the people, buildings, and crops. This became a standard practice of the U.S. military in the following 300 years of wars against the Native peoples of the western U.S., in the Spanish-American war in the Philippine Islands in 1898, to the use of insects and chemical and biological agents in the Korean war in 1950 to 1953, to the American invasion of Vietnam and all its horrors. Research many of these crimes on revcom.us, and you can also find on the Internet several lists that document the hundreds of military invasions, occupations, “small-unit actions,” aerial and offshore bombings, almost 300 years of U.S. military actions around the world.

The veterans and soldiers I was meeting and organizing were studying U.S. history, about the history of slavery, the lynchings and oppression of Black people, talking about how this was an imperialist way of life—killing people for profit and empire. And I met many who were openly talking about why revolution seemed to be necessary to stop all this horror that we were inflicting on the people of the world. We marched for 70 miles through small towns in New Jersey in a simulated search-and-destroy mission to graphically portray “to the heartland” that what we were doing in Vietnam was massacring and torturing the people. Then, we took 125 combat vets to Detroit in 1971 to the Winter Soldier Investigation where vets testified for three days about mass rape of Vietnamese women, mass murder, destruction of villages and crops, napalm, chemical poisoning of the land and people, and yes—the deliberate murder of kids by the soldiers. While there are many powerful and important examples of resistance and opposition by soldiers and veterans to imperialist wars, this was the first time in history that they were self-organized with two goals: to tell the truth about what they had seen and done, and then to call on the American people to stop the crimes.

Throwing medals back onto the Capitol steps, Dewey Canyon III, 1971.
"For a full week in the spring of 1971, we camped out on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Congress and we named it Dewey Canyon III—'an invasion into the country of Congress.'” Above, throwing medals back onto the Capitol steps as part of the Dewey Canyon III protests.

Before Winter Soldier, I thought I understood the scope of what we had done in Vietnam, but after three days of hearings I was devastated by how deep was the betrayal of our youth, our ambitions, and our minds, that we were really nothing more than killers and cannon fodder for empire. After Winter Soldier, we knew we had to do something that would put Vietnam Veterans on the front page of the newspapers, something dramatic that would send a message around the world, that while we were the baby killers, we were beginning to understand who and what was really responsible. For a full week in the spring of 1971, we camped out on the National Mall in front of the U.S. Congress and we named it Dewey Canyon III—“an invasion into the country of Congress.” After a whole week of demonstrating everywhere, doing guerrilla theater portrayals of how we treated and murdered the Vietnamese people, on the last day 800 to 1,000 vets lined up outside the Capitol to walk up the Capitol steps and throw their medals back at the U.S. Congress and the rulers of America. Some of the comments from the vets as they threw their medals over a fence marked “trash” were: a Black vet who said, “This is my opposition for the policies of this country against the non-white peoples of the world”; “My name is Peter, I got a purple heart here and I hope I get another one fighting these motherfuckers”; “We don’t want to fight again, but if we have to it’ll be to take these steps.”

Then, in the summer of 1971, I was selected by VVAW to represent the organization on a peace delegation to Hanoi—the capital of North Vietnam—“the enemy.” As the first Vietnam veteran to go to North Vietnam on a peace mission, with two other activists from Women Strike for Peace and the War Resisters League, I did not think twice about going. We spent eight days in Hanoi, traveling to Haiphong Harbor and witnessing the lives of a people whose whole history and culture is embedded with the ethos of resisting foreign invaders. This is when I completely went “over to the other side” and became an advocate for the victory of the Vietnamese against the U.S.

I say that today because while there is not an equivalent nation or group that can be supported right now against the crimes the U.S. is carrying out, everyone, and especially the soldiers and veterans of these wars, can and must speak out for the people of the world and against U.S. crimes. This means NOT supporting the troops, because the troops are murdering people. I really hate the slogan “Support the Troops, Not the War” because it makes what these wars are about is American lives, and the humanity of the people we are killing is secondary or nonexistent.

Finally, for those who can only see the power of the empire to manipulate and control the population into either being blind flag wavers or docile opposition, I want to say how important it is to tell the truth, to call on others to do so and to fight for the interest of all humanity. After all, I was witness to something that many people today cannot imagine: I saw a large segment of the former baby killers and murderers of my time turn against the empire on the side of humanity.

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/442/american-crime-case-94-november-2004-war-crime-fallujah-en.html

American Crime

Case #94: November 2004—War Crime Fallujah

June 6, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

THE CRIME: In the early morning hours of November 8, 2004, the U.S. launched “Operation Phantom Fury”—a massive air and ground assault on Fallujah.

Weeks before, the U.S. military had cut off entry and exit from Fallujah, which was home to 300,000 people. U.S. Marine and Army troops poured thousands of artillery rounds, hundreds of rockets, bombs, and missiles, and nearly 100,000 machine gun and cannon rounds into this densely populated city. A U.S. Marine sergeant warned, “We’ll unleash the dogs of hell, we’ll unleash ‘em... They don’t even know what’s coming—hell is coming! If there are civilians in there, they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

On November 8, “The sky over Fallujah seems to explode,” one newspaper reported, as a massive bombing assault was unleashed. This bombing campaign included anti-personnel cluster bombs and white phosphorous—a chemical firebomb that can melt skin and burn right down to the bone. U.S. officials at first denied it, but were later forced to admit they’d been used. Using these weapons against people is illegal under international law, and their use constitutes a war crime.

Then came a ground assault by armored bulldozers that tore up all the main streets of the city, and troops that shot at anything that moved, going “house to house, room to room, raining death and destruction on the proud, ancient ‘City of Mosques,’” the Guardian reported. By November 16, the Marines were in control of most of the city.

Fallujah, Iraq, November 2004. Photo: AP
Fallujah, Iraq, November 2004. Photo: AP

Reporters who entered Fallujah afterward described a “wasteland” of “utter ruin,” with desperate dogs and cats feeding on corpses in the streets. As many as 2,000 Iraqis—labeled “insurgents” by the U.S.—plus 800 or more civilians were killed. The once-crowded city lay empty and broken with 60 percent of its buildings damaged or destroyed: “36,000 homes, 9,000 shops, 65 mosques, 60 schools, both train stations, one of the two bridges, two power stations, three water treatment plants and the city’s entire sanitation and telephone systems,” according to the Fallujah Compensation Committee.

Two hundred thousand people had been forced from the city—first by the blockade, then the cutting off of water and food, then the threats of invasion, and finally by the assault itself—and then they were scattered across war-torn central Iraq, often in sprawling, unplanned tent cities where there were already outbreaks of diseases, including typhoid.

THE CRIMINALS: U.S. President George W. Bush, who told his generals: “Kick ass! If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close....”

Vice President Dick Cheney, who called the invasion and occupation of Iraq “one of the most extraordinary military campaigns ever conducted.” Donald Rumsfeld, Bush’s “Defense” Secretary, who said the destruction of Fallujah would not “stop without being completed.” Generals Richard F. Natonski, Keith Stalder, and James Mattis, who commanded U.S. forces.

The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Interim Government, which authorized the attack.

THE ALIBI: The U.S. claimed it was freeing the people of Fallujah from the grip of a small group of foreign terrorists and was taking great care to protect civilians.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE: To crush Sunni-based forces aligned with the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein who were resisting the U.S. occupation. To collectively punish the people of Fallujah and terrorize Iraq's six million Sunnis. And to serve as an "object lesson," as one ex-Army officer put it, about U.S. power and its willingness to use it for any and all in the region and beyond.

REPEAT OFFENDER: After Operation Phantom Fury, the U.S. military claimed it had “broken the back” of the anti-U.S. resistance. But they hadn’t, and have been working ever since with the reactionary Iraqi government to once again take over Fallujah, now under ISIS control. As of now, another bloody assault is imminent, backed by the U.S., Iranian, and Iraqi governments. Human rights groups report that the ongoing siege of the city has drastically cut food supplies and at least 50,000 people are facing starvation and death.

 

 


 

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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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/621/atlanta-hundreds-take-to-streets-say-hell-no-to-black-voices-for-trump-en.html

Atlanta: Several Hundred Take to the Streets to Say “Hell No!” to “Black Voices for Trump”

by Carl Dix

| revcom.us

 

What?! Trump and Pence go to Atlanta to launch “Black Voices for Trump,” and do it in the city many see as a Black mecca? This was like having a “Jews for Adolf Hitler” group in Nazi Germany. This was not something that could be ignored, or dismissed through ridicule. This was extremely serious. There were Jews who worked with the Nazis back then, the Judenrat. They administered the ghettos the Nazis forced Jewish people to live in, and they picked which Jews were to be sent to the death camps. So the “Black Voice for Trump” needed to be confronted head-on.

Trump had called Chicago “more dangerous than Afghanistan” before a conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police and said he could clean the city up in a day by unleashing the police to “go after the bad guys.” Which means unleashing them to target Black and Brown people with more savage terror than the police usually inflict on them. He had earlier called the 5th Congressional district that Atlanta is part of “horrible” and “falling apart.” He had called Baltimore, another mostly Black city, “disgusting” and “rat- and rodent-infested.” He called Africa and Haiti “shithole countries” and said there were “very fine people” among the Nazi and KKK storm troopers who marched in Charlottesville.

In announcing the launch of “Black Voices for Trump,” Trump bragged about how much he has done for Black people. What he has done, and is doing, for Black people and for all of humanity is hammering full-on fascist rule into place in this country. His regime must be driven from power before it can succeed in consolidating its hold on power.

So I headed down to Atlanta, joined by a member of the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour, to sound the alarm on this dangerous development and shake people out of their passivity in the face of fascism barreling ahead—and to bring as many of them as possible into the #OutNow movement and the struggle to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power.

Refuse Fascism Atlanta and the #OutNow movement had called for people to come out to the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC) on Friday, November 8, where Trump was launching his “Black Voices for Trump.” Refuse Fascism Atlanta was bringing a different message to the GWCC: “Trump & Pence Must GO—NOW!” Other groups, including the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, also called on people to come out in opposition to Trump.

Our mission—to jolt people awake to just how deadly and dangerous Trump’s fascist, white supremacist agenda is, unite with those who were taking a stand again Trump, and organize those outraged by this regime into active participation in the #OUTNOW! movement to drive this fascism regime from power as soon as possible. And the revolutionaries among us were also spreading the real way out of all this madness and horror—revolution and Bob Avakian’s new communism.

Many people felt like Trump coming to their city to launch a group of Black supporters was like a punch to the gut. Just hours after I arrived in Atlanta, the host of Real Talk with Dr. Rashad Richey invited me onto his radio program. This show is on WAOK, arguably the most prominent Black talk radio station in Atlanta. The interview got real right away—go here to listen to and watch a short clip from it.

It’s very important that basic truths about the Trump/Pence regime were being projected to Richey’s audience. Things like this are rarely heard in major media, and they need to be heard as part of awakening and activating growing numbers of people. At the end of the show, Richey made his own pitch for his audience to think about whose interests Trump has shown he has at heart.

Marching and Speaking Out

Then we took it to the streets. People had already begun to gather on the corner in downtown Atlanta where the protest had been called before it was time for it to start. The crowd grew to about 200 people. There were people of different nationalities out in the streets together expressing their hatred of Trump and everything he stood for. Significantly, there were a lot of young people, a number of them students from Georgia State University. Some told us they had skipped class to be out at the protest.

Different groups with different programs had called for people to come out and protest Trump’s appearance. This started off being expressed by different and sometimes competing chants. A lot of it came down to “Impeach and Remove Trump” in contrast to “Trump/Pence Out—NOW.”

Despite the differences, things coalesced into one protest. Early on I got on the mike and said “Black Voices for Trump” are really Black voices for white supremacy, and made the Jews for Hitler comparison, going into why this is true. This had an important impact on the character of the protest. Soon we began to march and took the march from the sidewalk into the streets. By this point, everyone was chanting: “Trump/Pence, OutNow!” We took the march right up to the building where Trump was inside launching their group of Black bootlickers.

While we had been marching, a handful of anti-Trump protesters who had planned on getting into the event but were turned away by security were in the lobby of the building, and went face-to-face with Trump supporters. When some fascists began chanting in support of Trump, the anti-Trump people started shouting “Fuck Trump” and held their ground until they were escorted out by security.

After these people joined us, a member of the Revolution Club got on the mike, and then we followed this up with a speak-out that drew forward and concentrated a lot of anger among a diverse group of people, most of them young. One young woman wearing a “Melt ICE” T-shirt threw down a sharp challenge to all those “who couldn’t come here today.” Among the others speaking out was a young man from Honduras.

The speak-out revealed the depth of feeling and understanding some people do have about the danger of this regime, and a real desire to act on it in a meaningful way. At the same time, it was clear that leadership is needed to give voice to this and help it break through. The numbers of people who came out, while large for a protest in this city, were still far short of what’s needed. But this was a significant outpouring, and it broke into the media in a way that seldom happens here. As part of this coverage, I was interviewed in Atlanta’s main newspaper, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, and by the Associated Press, which ran a story that got picked up in papers across the country.

Now More Than Ever!

See excerpts and the Q&A of this film

 

 

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Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all who participated in our successful May Fund Drive for Revcom.us and The RNL Show!
Especially right now, funds are urgently needed to spread BA's work and leadership and the movement for an actual revolution.
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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/a/621/three-days-in-dc-en.html

Three Days in DC, Taking the Fight to Stop Fascism to the Nation's Capitol

| revcom.us

 

From a member of RefuseFascism.org:

I’m writing this on the bus ride, coming back from a whirlwind of activities in Washington DC. When I arrived on Thursday night, I couldn’t help but hear the ominous theme song from House of Cards as I thought about the fact that fascists are now in control of the White House in the most powerful country in the world.

Me and a group of others from Refuse Fascism, including some members of our new DC chapter, came to DC to join with actions called by a group called Remove45. Remove45 has been doing daily actions for about a week in front of the White House, culminating in demonstrations taking place on Thursday and Friday this week. We also came to join these actions, to strengthen the organization of the DC chapter, to put the demand #OUTNOW in front of the world and to reach out to other leaders and organizers with the need to unite to drive out the Trump/Pence regime.

Also for the last several weeks, Jane Fonda has been getting arrested every Friday—actions she has called Fire Drill Fridays—to draw attention to the climate catastrophe in solidarity with Greta Thunberg. It is very important that in recent weeks, other prominent individuals have been joining with Fonda—and it’s a further positive development that this week Fire Drill Fridays united with Remove45 to demand the removal of Trump from power. Both Ben and Jerry of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream joined in civil disobedience for the climate this week (plus they brought free ice cream for the whole march!).

We joined with them as well as other organizations like Code Pink, Vets for Peace, some forces from Standing Rock, and others. We carried large letters that read “#OUTNOW!,” bringing in this demand and spreading the word about the #OUTNOW Movement—arguing that every movement for social justice needs to unite in demanding the removal of the fascist regime in power to achieve any positive vision of the future.

In the section of the march we were in, people chanted: “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” along with chants about the environment and, “Puerto Rico showed us how, Trump/Pence #OUTNOW!” Different people got on the bullhorn and said why they believe Trump/Pence needs to go. At one point we passed a school bus of small children who were all chanting “Impeach” and “Trump/Pence out NOW!” Then we led people in chanting, “ALL KIDS are OUR KIDS.”

Everyone in the climate emergency movement and everyone who is serious about social justice should be adding OUT NOW to their demand. The Trump/Pence regime IS the greatest threat to humanity and the planet. Tearing up climate agreements, destroying the EPA, concentrations camps at the border, packing the federal judges with Christian fundamentalists—there is no better world if fascism is allowed to consolidate. So we need a lot more of the kind of protest that took place in DC, but we also need many, many, many more people coming out and taking up the #OUTNOW demand. In DC there were 400 people, both people in organized movements and others who had come from different places because they were inspired by Fonda and feeling angry and “itching” to act. One woman who joined with RefuseFascism.org for an #OUTNOW organizing dinner the next day was a retired high school guidance counselor who now lives in Mexico and had flown up to take part.

Among some of the movement forces, while of course there was wide anti-Trump sentiment, this was mixed with a dangerous and naive delusion that Trump is just “more of the same,” things have always been bad, we can just keep on doing what we have always done. We waged sharp struggle over this. If you think this has always been fascism, this has always been a police state, then you have no clue what fascism actually is. Yes, things have been bad for a long time. This system has been waging wars and having its police kill people, but Trump represents a qualitative leap—and is a concentrated expression of an even more brutal and openly vicious form of rule that could close down the potential for any type of future and pose an existential threat to humanity. Not only was there disagreement with the analysis of fascism, but there were forces in the march who attempted to suppress our message in unprincipled ways. Others present joined in telling them to stop, both out of disgust with the suppression and sometimes because of agreement with our message.

Even if we don’t agree with each other, we have to set standards in the movement to rise above sectarian differences and petty squabbles to do what’s needed for humanity. To the degree we have differences, we should unite where we can and have friendly struggle where we need to.

Also while we were in DC, we met with the very new organizers of a Refuse Fascism chapter down there and other newcomers who wanted to join with Refuse Fascism, who recognized the danger of the Trump/Pence regime. Saturday night, as part of nationwide protests, the chapter had a small but significant demonstration near Union Station and then marched to Chinatown. This demonstration included a former physicist who originally heard about RefuseFascism.org through PZ Myers, someone in the military who feels the regime is fascist and destroying American institutions and the Republic, and others. They were proud to be there, and all of these people recognized some element of the danger of this regime, but we took the opportunity to give them strength and backing by the Refuse Fascism analysis, that what we were confronting is fascism and that we must drive it from power and arouse the public to do so.

Afterwards, we had dinner together and strategized about how to take things forward in DC as part of pushing ahead the nationwide movement to call forth thousands, soon hundreds of thousands, and then millions who do not stop until the Trump/Pence regime is #OUTNOW—including plans for a protest next week in DC on November 16.

So all of this is part of the swirl that we were part of, and this swirl will hopefully become even more wide and messy, with a lot of new people stepping into this, charting new paths, and rising to new challenges to fill a great need for humanity.


Washington, DC. Photo: Remove Trump Now

Now More Than Ever!

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/621/michael-slate-interviews-dread-scott-en.html

Hundreds Trace the Path of the 1811 Slave Rebellion in Louisiana

Artist Dread Scott interviewed on KPFK's The Michael Slate Show

| revcom.us

 

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

Michael Slate: In 1811, 500 slaves in southern Louisiana rose up in a rebellion that could have changed history, but very few people today know about this rebellion, and even fewer know the truth behind it. On November 8 and 9, hundreds of reenactors will retrace the path of the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history. And here to talk with us about it is Dread Scott, an artist who has spent the last six years or so working to bring this rebellion alive again. Dread, how are you, man?

Dread Scott: I’m doing good, doing really good, and thank you for having me on.

MS: I look forward to having you on for a lot more around this cause. I’m sure there’ll be stuff to talk about after you’re done, too, this week. But let’s look at this. Very few people know about the rebellion, not to mention the significance of it. So let’s start with what it was and why it was and remains so significant.

DS: Yeah, well, in January of 1811 the largest rebellion of enslaved people in the history of the United States happened. That rebellion didn’t happen because one enslaved person got whipped one too many times. It was actually planned for a year or maybe longer, and they had this bold vision to seize all of Holmes territory which is now modern-day Louisiana and set up an African republic in the New World. It would have been a sanctuary for Africans and people of African descent, and it would have abolished slavery much the way it was done after the Haitian revolution. It was the most radical vision of freedom in the United States at the time and was also more radical than the French colonial society, which, even though they had the Declaration of the Rights of Man, was a slaving empire. So the significance today is, here was the largest rebellion of enslaved people and it had a vision that was gonna actually really remake and change world history by eliminating enslavement in the locations where they were hoping to seize power.

And the other two things that are important about this are that it actually had a chance at success. All slave revolts are a long shot. But this was actually planned in a way that it could have succeeded. And then the other thing that is significant is the history of this is buried. It’s completely suppressed. It was suppressed starting from day one. The governor spun the story that there wasn’t much to see here. And then, when they started doing more scholarship and research into slavery, because the original knowledge was suppressed, and it was said there was nothing significant to it, a lot of scholars didn’t pay that much attention to it. And really, the modern history, and modern telling of it, only became more widely known when a people’s historian published a book in 1996.

MS: You know, one of the things that really got me, and I was talking with my friend here, and he was wondering how much Haiti had actually influenced the rebellion in Louisiana.

DS: Yeah, there are several ways which it does, and I will put a disclaimer on this and a lot of other things I might talk about, about the history. I’m an artist. I’m not a historian. And historians have done work on this and it needs to have more historic research. I can tell you what I know, and I’ve studied a lot of history and worked with historians, but I’m not a historian. So, what I do know is that part of why sugar was even being grown in Louisiana was because of the rebellion, the revolution that was successful in Haiti. When the revolution jumped off, a lot of the enslavers decided they had to get the hell out of Dodge because the revolution was gonna overthrow their economy, but also potentially kill them. And so they fled. Many went to Cuba, and many went to Louisiana. And so that was part of the reason why the people that had the desire to grow sugar, but also the people with the knowledge of growing and refining sugar, and that was enslaved people, because the enslavers when they left Haiti, they actually brought the people they enslaved with them. And producing sugar is actually complicated. I mean, the skill necessary to refine it is not something that everybody knows how to do even back then. And so they needed people with the particular knowledge of doing that to be able to set up more slave labor camps that were plantation agriculture at the time.

Another thing is that Haiti was the largest producer of that particular commodity in the world. And after the revolution, production dropped drastically. They didn’t want to be part of the world economy of sugar production in the same way. And so that meant that there was a gap. And if you’re a capitalist looking to make profit, you’re like, OK, this commodity, we need more of it and we can grow it elsewhere. And so, that led to sugar being more grown there, but then when you bring enslaved people with knowledge of this incredible revolution that happened in Haiti. They all started thinking, well, maybe we should do that here. And so there was an inspirational aspect and aspirational aspect, including possibly that some of the people that were in Haiti might have even participated in the rebellion. And here’s where there’s a conflict between historians. Some historians say that the leader of the revolt in 1811 in New Orleans, Charles Deslondes, some say he was born in Haiti, and some say he was born in Louisiana. And I don’t know the difference. I mean, I actually don’t know what’s true. But it is conceivable that this was a person that was Haitian born and thus brought some of his knowledge of that revolution with him.

There are a couple of other factors that go into why this rebellion was in Louisiana, including that the United States had recently purchased Louisiana. As various rising capitalist powers do, they bought Louisiana from the French, from Napoleon. And part of why that happened was that with the Haitian revolution, Napoleon didn’t want to send his large admiralty around... halfway around the world because there was nothing to defend. And so in addition to having war debt in the war that he was fighting in Europe, he didn’t need to have a place to kind of refine some of the sugar and grow crops, so he was willing to let Louisiana go and so the U.S. was taking over. And so there was serious in-fighting, and differences, and changes in power that weakened the various ruling classes that were there in Louisiana at the time. And so the enslaved thought that they actually might have a shot at successfully wresting a bit of territory and freedom out of that situation.

MS: One of the things that got me, and the work that you’ve done on this in terms of really digging up the history, which in a lot of ways... I could tell from reading some of the stuff that you put out... there were people who you could go to who knew some of the history—some of them knew more, some of them knew less—but it gave you something to actually work with. And it really was, when you look at this, the important element of actually looking at the actual history of this rebellion, and that it was in fact suppressed. Even the name was erased from history and changed to what, “The German Coast Uprising of 1811,” which would give you no hint about the significance of this rebellion.

DS: Well, the German Coast uprising enters at the development of empire and state and stuff. Many Germans came and settled in that region, the region where this rebellion took place in part of Louisiana. And at the time, it was a Spanish colony, that region. And so the Spanish said you all can live there. And then most of the Germans left or died out. There were still some there in 1811, but largely with the importation of Africans, it had become a coast that had slave labor camps and had enslaved a lot of people who were principally Africans. And so it might be better to call it the African Coast Uprising, but the main thing is that it has become known as the German Coast because Germans were settled there in I believe the late 1600s and early 1700s. But then it doesn’t even get... even if you call it the African Coast Uprising, it doesn’t really get at the majesty and the significance of what this is. Other rebellions are often known as Nat Turner Rebellion, Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vesey, and you’d want to look into this. And this is just named after some geography that is meaningless today. People in this region don’t really call it the German Coast. Some would, and some would know that, but largely, that name has fallen out of history because this rebellion actually is not significantly acknowledged and remembered. And this rebellion again could have changed U.S. and world history. And even more than the capacity to change history, here is a story where enslaved people organizing that together with more than 500 and had this bold vision of freedom. That’s the story here. That’s amazing, and people who care about humanity, and care about the development of the world, and how it got to where it is, I mean it’s both a “what if?” question. What if it had succeeded? But it is also a question if we just want to know history, this is something that is really significant and that should be known, and all students should know in part because these leaders were heroes. Instead of studying George Washington, a great enslaver, or Thomas Jefferson, a great enslaver, when they talk about freedom we should be studying people who were actually trying to get free from a system of enslavement, which was the foundation of the U.S. economy at the time.

A Hidden, Repressed History

MS: We’re talking today to revolutionary artist Dread Scott about his latest piece of work called Slave Rebellion Reenactment.

It’s very heavy just reading the things that you’ve put out in relation to this, where you talk about what you are doing and why. And there is so much here to be learned that so many people haven’t learned because it’s been actually hidden, it’s been repressed history. The whole idea that people got up there, and that the motive for the rebellion wasn’t just to go out and raise hell, but it was to end slavery and nothing less than that. That they wanted a whole different society ... and that was a huge threat to the institution of slavery overall. And in a lot of ways, repeating that truth could be very, very dangerous today as well.

DS: [Laughs] I hope so. This is a country that was founded on slavery and genocide, and it continues to be based on exploitation and oppression. If I ran a society that was based upon the stolen wealth and suppression and violence and brutality, the stolen wealth from Africans and people of African descent, Black people in this country, I surely wouldn’t want people broadly to know that there was this major attempt at overthrowing and overturning that system. That might be inspiring and it might have implications for today.

And so this piece is actually about mining this past, and that’s really important that people should know that. And in conversations I’ve had with youth, particularly those from historically Black colleges, I get a sense of how important actually knowing more about the actual history of this past is, but it is also a piece about the present. I mean, a lot of my work looks at how the past sets the stage for the present, and how it exists in the present in new forms. And this history of rebellion and self-determination and agency of people trying to get free to overthrow systems of oppression is something that people in the present should learn from. This is not a project about slavery, this is a project about freedom and emancipation. What would it mean if people actually drew inspiration from those people who identified that the problem was that they were enslaved? That was the problem. The solution was to end slavery. Not like lessen slavery’s chains, not just get whipped Monday through Friday, not form a Super PAC, and try and write some legislation that modifies slavery. But they wanted to overthrow the system of enslavement. And people today can dream about changing some very fundamental things about the system. I think that’s where a lot of space and imagination gets opened up by this project. Even on questions that... I just recently learned that a somewhat well-known family member of somebody who was killed by the police is getting on a plane to come out and participate in this reenactment. And so for them to actually look at the history, and look at it through a lens of trying to look at how people fought back, that’s actually really important. And then of course some people may draw lessons that what we need here is a revolution. And I think the possibility of that is opened up by this project.

MS: Now I want to just return to this a little bit because it really strikes me as we’re talking, that this whole point that the whole motive for this rebellion being to end slavery and nothing less... that they wanted a whole different society. And that was a huge threat to the institution of slavery overall, and to the coming into power of U.S. domination in the whole area. This was something that could not be allowed, it seems, in relation to what that slave rebellion could mean for the rest of the world, for the rest of the country.

DS: I think that’s true, but then there’s also sometimes things that can’t be allowed to happen. If Napoleon had his way, Haiti would have been drowned in blood. But the Haitians, the people in Saint-Domingue that formed the nation of Haiti, were successful. They beat the strongest power in the world at the time. And if this rebellion were successful, it certainly would have put, not the final, but put a nail in the coffin of the system of slavery. But it’s a question of how would the U.S. have responded if there were a free African Republic right on its doorstep. America didn’t initially say invade Mexico to rip off Texas. Texas ended up seceding from Mexico and they did it so they could expand and preserve slavery. That’s part of the irony. But the U.S. didn’t have total freedom to do whatever it wanted. And so if this is successful, it’s conceivable that the U.S. might just have had to tolerate a free republic on its doorstep. Again, I’m not a historian, and there might have been a million reasons why they would have wanted to invade. But the country was not settled as we know it today. And that’s part of what I think is important about looking back at the history. The past was not pre-determined, and neither is the future. And so the aims and goals of this rebellion were something that could have really vastly changed what was occurring than it did. And as you say what these people were aiming for, overthrowing the system of slavery, was something that was irreconcilable with much of what the growing United States was trying to be. And so it would have been a very sharp rebuke and challenge ... if it spread, would other enslaved people in other regions of the South have said, “Hey, we should do that too” and overthrow the system of enslavement? Would that have happened, or would it be something where the U.S. would have to act and try to reinsert itself? And that’s I think what is an unknown. ’Cause even at that point the U.S. was also fighting the Spanish in west Florida, you know, which [today] is modern-day Mississippi. So that region was very unsettled even by the European powers, and then there were all sorts of different Native peoples that lived there, and were there long before the United States, the British, the French, and the Spanish were. And so it is a potentially volatile mix which could have spun in lots of different directions. And actually, even on this question of Native population, while this was predominantly a rebellion of the slave people of African descent, there were Native people—some of which were enslaved and some of which were just in the region—who joined the rebellion. And so there’s potential alliances of various oppressed people to take on colonial powers, there’s a lot of potential and excitement there.

Disciplined Army of Slaves on a Freedom March

MS: You know, that’s one of the things that I thought was really important about what you’re doing here. And the fact that rebels were tried and executed on the very plantations that they overthrew, their heads were decapitated, their heads were put on poles, there was a whole message sent out to people that was saying don’t even think about this. And yet the heroism of the... from what I’ve read in what you’ve been putting out... the heroism, the staunch belief in the need and the right for people to rebel against this horrifying situation, and to establish their own living, and their own ability to live and to flourish. This is something that I think really gets lost for people a lot of times. That it’s not like these people, who had no real sense of what they were doing, they were just like out to just burn and pillage. They were actually people who were saying we can no longer live like this. We refuse to live like this. And they stood up and they became a disciplined army of slaves. That was actually something I thought was really important about what you’re portraying in the piece that you’re doing now. You’re portraying a disciplined army of slaves on a freedom march, actually.

DS: Yeah, this question of discipline has a lot to do with how people see this period and whether it was just again people striking back. Let’s be real. People who were enslaved on a sugar plantation, life expectancy was seven years. They were literally working people to death. The commodity of sugar was so valuable that they could basically work people and have them die and get more people to replace them. And so there was a strong incentive for individuals to run away, which happened a lot, to strike back as individuals, to run away with a few friends, and form Maroon colonies. And there were several Maroon colonies in the area. This was not that. This was something where people wanted to overturn the whole system of enslavement. And that’s something that should really, really be known. And so there is a point of how were they trying to do that. We don’t know a lot about this history because the only people who really tell it are enslavers. A lot of the record that it is based on is the so-called tribunals, or trials, where they were basically torturing people saying, look, we’re going to kill you anyway, so the only real choice you have is whether we randomly kill a lot of your friends and family, or whether you rat out all the people who participated so we can kill them too, and then we’ll let some of your friends and family live. And so these were tribunals under a great deal of duress. And some people courageously stood up and said exactly what their aims and goals were. But others had... there were different stories, but a lot of this is assembled... the knowledge of what people were attempting is based on trial transcription and few other records. But the thing of how we know they were a disciplined army, is that the U.S. generals, and General Wade Hampton wrote to the governor, Governor Claiborne, and said there are 500 brigades in the field, and they’re marching in formation under flags, and so they didn’t record what the flags looked like, but it was saying, look, we’re fighting a disciplined army here and this is people’s war. It was an uprising. The enslaved could not form companies and stuff beforehand. They couldn’t practice with the weapons that they were seizing in advance. But they knew... some of them were from regions of West Africa where there were civil wars. So many of them... or some of them probably had training in guerrilla tactics and civil warfare. Others of them had been seeing the militia for the planters trained. And others of them might not have ever been in a battle or seen a battle, but knew they had to fight for freedom so they grabbed a... if they couldn’t get a musket or a saber, you grabbed a machete. If you couldn’t get a machete, you grabbed a rock or an axe or a hoe, and farm implements. But it was disciplined. The generals are saying, hey, these guys are forming regiments or companies and they’re marching under flags. I want to actually show that, because it actually changes how modern-day people look at that period, and look at how Black people organized with the possibility of getting free. Were people just randomly striking back, which would have been just and righteous? Or were they looking like they had a plan to get free, and doing everything they could to execute that plan, even if the military strategy which they were going to employ would much more rely on guerrilla warfare and knowledge of the swamp and not wanting to get into a head-to-head battle, and fight for the tactics that British colonial powers fought in.

And actually if you look at some of the history of the Haitian revolution, the French were furious and bedeviled that the enslaved wouldn’t just stand in a neat line waiting to be shot. But they had the audacity to hide behind trees, and things like that. So the military strategy that was employed from different armies working for different aims is something that will get expressed in this artwork, but it is something to take note of that we want to challenge and change how people see what Black people in what is now America acted and behaved at that time.

The Slave Rebellion Reenactment—a Work of Art

MS: One of the things that you also talk about, you talk about the disciplined army of slaves on a freedom march, and that you’re actually doing the actual march, the actual route that was taken by the slaves. And I kept thinking about that as I was reading this because there’s like that sense of (and I’m not trying to be all weird about it) but there is this sense of the people, the feet of the people, the blood of the people in that same area, that same route that you’re marching through. And you have all that going on, and then you have this message to the people, where the march will be that you’re putting out, and I thought this was very heavy. I read that you said that the rebels of 1811 would have been fighting for people like you, and basically posing to people the question of “So what are you gonna do?”

DS: Yeah. So first, let’s give your listeners a bit of a sense of what this is, cause we’ve been talking about the history, but we haven’t so much talked about what the artwork is. And so Slave Rebellion Reenactment is going to reenact this rebellion, the largest rebellion of enslaved people in the history of the United States. And so we’re going to have hundreds of reenactors in period costumes with machetes and muskets and sickles and sabers. We’re going to be marching for 26 miles in locations that were sugar plantations that are now oil refineries, and Pizza Huts, and grain elevators, and gated communities, and trailer parks and strip malls. It’s exurban New Orleans. And we’re going to be marching, chanting, “On to New Orleans! Freedom or Death! We’re Going to End Slavery. Join Us!” There are gonna be beautiful flags flying. They aren’t gonna be U.S. flags. They are going to be flags that we imagine that enslaved Africans might have made to rally their courage and to fight underneath. We will draw on tradition that would have been popular for people in the region at the time. There will be singing. There will be banging rocks on machetes. A drummer, there’s a traditional African drummer who is providing some of the rhythms for us. This sounds like war. So it will be a beautiful procession and largely it is a freedom march. There wasn’t actually a lot of fighting in this rebellion until the rebellion was put down, and we’re not reenacting that. We’re not actually depicting the slaughter of a lot of Black people by white people. We’re actually interrupting the historic timeline. And when we get as far down river as the rebel army got, we are going to get on buses and go to a location in the city of New Orleans itself which is now the old U.S. mint, but in 1811 was Fort St. Charles. There was an advanced detachment of enslaved people in 1811 who were trying to seize that fort so that when people got out of the slave labor camps also known as plantations, and got down river, they would have enough weapons to seize the city. So we’re gonna honor this sort of battalion that was trying to seize this fort. We’re gonna march past the old U.S. mint. We’re gonna go through the French Quarter and end up in Congo Square. And when we get to Congo Square, we’re gonna flip from a military campaign to a cultural celebration. Congo Square and a few places like it are vital to the preservation of the rhythms that became foundational to what we think of as American music. There are a couple places around the country. Congo Square was one of them where the rhythms... where people were allowed to gather and dance and play in traditional ceremonies and rhythms and songs that they did back on the west coast of Africa.

And so, that laid the foundation for jazz, but then of course blues, rock ’n’ roll, rhythm ’n’ blues, funk, disco, hip-hop, bounce, trap, trance... none of that would exist if it weren’t for Congo Square and places like it. There we’re gonna have, in addition to lifting up the names of the rebels that should be more known, we’re gonna have a musical celebration of all that is created by having this culture present in America.

And so, this is this amazing freedom march, that didn’t have a lot of fighting. There is a little bit of fighting that’s gonna happen. And we’re gonna reenact a skirmish that happened so there’ll be musket fire and horses charging around and it’ll be really, really cool. But the thing for people to understand is this is Black people moving in outdated French colonial 19th century clothing past grain elevators and oil refineries and Pizza Huts and gated communities. It’ll be a clash between that past and the present, kinda. And in that space, I think a lot of people can really learn a lot and rethink both the history of enslavement, but also the history of people fighting for freedom.

MS: One of the things again that really keeps striking me... I gotta tell you, man, every time I read something about it, and looked into what you had produced around it, I was really moved both by the history but also by what’s being posed for people today. And the fact that when you brought people into this, it seems to have had a very big impact on people. People creating their own costumes, figuring out other ways to actually help push things forward, people coming to you and saying, look, I want to be a part of this. This is an extremely important development, I think, in the basic situations that we’re living in today because you had six years of preparation, and a whole community has gotten involved in this, and at the same time, they relied on what you had, but they’ve also developed these groups that you’re talking about, figuring out ways that they can contribute. And I think that’s really important, both for people understanding what was the significance of what happened and what’s the significance of what’s happening today, what needs to happen today.

DS: This thing about this being for people today, you mentioned something I said earlier about saying the 1811 rebels were fighting for people like you, well, one of the things we’re marching past is a steel refinery, a steel plant that’s been closed. So like 300 or 400 people were kicked out of work. I’d like to think that those people would view the spirit of 1811 is something they should be taking up and fighting not just for their job in a narrow sense, but actually to get to a world where people are not mistreated as something that is valuable if they can produce profit for somebody else. And so people on that basis and others have actually been coming to this. The people who participated in making costumes, either for themselves or other people, a lot of people, the army of enslaved is only Black people and indigenous people. But lots of people of all ethnicities including white people have helped make the costumes. The costume designer is white, and she... we encouraged the people, particularly like the costume designer, to reach out beyond their traditional circles where she would have spontaneously gone to find other seamstresses to see if she could find some Black seamstresses. And she did. And so it’s been a really productive conversation for her, and then the people that are coming to volunteer and work with them collaboratively, and it’s been really, really meaningful. I’ve been to a couple of these sewing circles and people were talking about the importance of the artwork, but also why it matters today, not just for something simple as ending racism [chuckles] or undoing racism. But for... when people then start very quickly go to, “Well, the police just murdered a woman in her home in Fort Worth.” You know, a woman who is just sitting in her home... somebody called the cops, foolishly I might add, for a welfare call and the cops show up and shoot the woman through her window. That’s the world we’re living in, and I think a lot of people are drawing connections between history of enslavement and how people are treated today, and then hopefully the history of freedom fighters and how people need to get free today.

I think some of these relations of the people kind of walking in these shoes, both in the footsteps, ’cause it is going on the locations that this rebellion actually happened, but more metaphorically in the shoes of people who really had nothing to lose but couldn’t continue to endure enslavement until they died in seven years, but said no, we need to get free. It’s a long shot, and we all may die doing it, but let’s actually do something that actually has a chance of liberating us. And so those ideas are really meaningful to people.

I was just at a rehearsal yesterday and last night, and we had some horse riders that are part of this, ’cause we’re gonna have 20 horses as part of this with riders. And they wanted to participate for various reasons, but the more that you talk with them, the more it actually resonates with how their lived experiences today and why it’s meaningful for them to participate. And again, some of the young women, who, when they get their hand on a machete, transformed just these outdated clothing which they liked into way... really fighting for freedom. This is empowering as they described it. And so, it really transforms the degradation that people are subjected to on a daily basis in this society, into something where people view themselves as part of trying to change the world in really deep ways, I think.

“What if?”—for the Past…and for the Present and Future

MS: Yeah. I think one more thing I wanted to ask you, and, look, you talked about this already a little bit, but this is an art performance about freedom, resistance, and hope, and the importance of acknowledging the power that resides in reimagining your own destiny, as I think you put it. And this actually raises a whole thing that people need to understand: that there is a very important, and very just necessary and strong, importance of this whole story being a “what if?” story. And you started to speak to this, but I think it’s really important that people understand this. This has everything to do... what you’re putting forward here now has everything to do with what people are facing now and what they need to do. So let’s talk about that.

DS: From its conception, this was thought of as a project that had a speculative nature, that really did open up the question “what if?” for the past but “what if?” for the present and future. And you know, part of how I really started to understand that it resonated in people’s bones, was that when I would speak at colleges, particularly historically Black colleges and universities, and a couple of times students would come up to me after the talk and the talk was generally I would have at least one or two historians and one would typically talk about the history of slavery, and another would talk about the history of slave revolts, and specifically the revolt of 1811. And then I would talk about my artwork, and the Slave Rebellion Reenactment project. And students would come up and they would tell me that they didn’t wanna come. They were often assigned to it. They didn’t want to come to something talking about slavery. And then when they heard that there was all these examples, documented examples, of a couple hundred, like 250 examples, of 10 or more people, enslaved people rebelling and having slave revolts in the United States, that was lifting a weight from them. And they wanted to know more. But the more that I talked with them, the more it became clear that they kinda felt... they would look at a situation was like, well, man, why are Black people... why are there 1.1 million Black people in prison? Why are we the ones that are poor? Why are the police shooting us down? Why are we the drug dealers? Why are our families broken, as they like to say? And they really felt a sense of shame actually about being Black, but when they would learn about this slave revolt, suddenly they realized, that wait, our ancestors weren’t slaves, they were people who were enslaved. And that there was this tremendous joy and uplifting sense that they had when they heard about people fighting back and resisting. And that had everything to do with how they saw existing in the world in the present. Now these are kids 18 to 20, or 17 to 22, or something like that. And I don’t know which ones of them participated in, say, demonstrations against police brutality, or demonstrations fighting to stop the climate crisis, or whether some of them had a loftier vision of fundamentally remaking the world through revolution. I don’t know that. But I do know that they actually had this sense that they were not... not only were they not just something wrong with them based on being Black, but really they could be the agents of change in a way that could be bigger than them. That it could really be something about changing the whole world. And that’s really powerful, I think. Or, college students, to suddenly have not only a sense, but some of them got on a mission, including some of them wanting to participate in the reenactment itself, to form the ideas, and then based on those ideas, some of the networks necessary to be part of really radically rethinking and then putting into place those thoughts of how the world could be different. And that’s really inspiring, and shows what the work is about, even though you know I don’t have a... It’s an artwork, it doesn’t have a prescribed ending or way people should change the world or even think about changing the world. But it does actually challenge people in the present to think about that, back in 1811, people identified again: the problem is we’re enslaved; the solution is to end slavery. How do we figure out the difficult and complicated things necessary to do that, and what for us in the present, what are the analogies, what are the difficult things that we realize we’re up against that often people recoil from and come up with things that are not really solutions for the problems they’ve identified, but things that they think are possible to achieve. So starting from a standpoint of identifying a problem and looking for a solution of what’s actually necessary even though you might not understand when you first identify the problem whether that necessary change is possible but you have to go and figure out the work to do that. And that’s what was done in 1811. And that’s the spirit people I hope have now based upon engaging with this artwork, including a lot of the many actors engaging with it and participating in it over the course of months and in some cases years.

MS: And I can’t wait to see what comes of it, man. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens with this. It’s a brilliant piece of work. It’s a really necessary piece of work and it’s one that can actually have a major impact at a time when a major impact is really needed. So thank you very much, man.

DS: Well, thank you. I can’t wait to see it either. I’ve been working on it a long time. The artwork doesn’t exist until it exists. And so I’m looking forward to marking those 26 miles with hundreds of my closest new friends and I hope that you stay tuned, and look for the news reports and images and videos, and tweet about it. You can go to our website to see more about it. Slave-revolt.com is our website. And on Instagram and on Twitter, we’re just @slaverebellion. But people should look out for it... I think it’s gonna be awesome. And if people can make sure that it’s sunny and dry, I’d really appreciate it, but we’re going rain or shine.

MS: [Laughs] And look, man, I look forward to talking to you when it’s all over, too. I’m gonna talk to you again next week, I think, to try and hear what actually has happened.

DS: And one thing that we didn’t say, it’s important, it’s November 8 and 9.

MS: That’s right.

DS: Fantastic!

MS: OK, we’ve been talking with revolutionary artist Dread Scott. Dread Scott makes revolutionary art to propel history forward. He first received national attention in 1989 when his art became the center of controversy over its transgressive use of the American flag while he was a student at the School of Art Institute of Chicago. And president GHW Bush called his art disgraceful and the entire U.S. Senate denounced this work and outlawed it when they passed legislation to protect the flag. On November 8th and 9th 2019, hundreds of re-enacters will retrace the path of the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history—embodying a story of resistance, freedom and revolutionary action and it’s all brought to you by Dread Scott and his whole gang of cohorts.

Artist Dread Scott interviewed on KPFK's The Michael Slate Show

Aired Friday, November 8, 2019

Photo: Soul Brother

Photo: Soul Brother

Deslonde Revolt, 1811. Artist unknown

Revolution Club, Chicago—Joining the #SlaveRebellionReenactment in Louisiana!

Photo: AP

Photo: Soul Brother

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/592/american-crime-case-22-barbaric-suppression-1811-louisiana-slave-uprising-en.html

American Crime

Case #22: The Barbaric Suppression of the 1811 Louisiana Slave Uprising

| 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

They moved downriver, nearly 25 strong, the heavy night rain silencing their approach. Forty miles from New Orleans, they break into the mansion, run to the second floor where they find and wound with an axe the slave owner Manuel Andry and kill his son. They then break into the mansion’s basement, collect muskets and ammunition, take several horses, and continue to march downriver.

So began, on January 8, 1811, the largest slave revolt in U.S. history, an armed revolt against the slavery system’s barbaric, intolerable conditions. And a revolt the slave owners and U.S. authorities violently suppressed using the most savage means imaginable. The rebels’ political goal was to establish an independent Black republic on the shores of the Mississippi, with a captured New Orleans as its capital.

Manuel Andry was among the French planters who established highly profitable sugarcane plantations in the rich agricultural region known as the Mississippi River’s German Coast. Many of these planters had been forced to flee to the Orleans territory from the Caribbean French colony of Saint-Domingue, where the slaves had risen up, arms in hand, and defeated the planters and armies of the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The victorious rebels renamed Saint-Domingue the free republic of Haiti, abolished slavery, declared racism illegal, and permanently banned the French from the island.

The French planters able to escape and settle in the Orleans territory brought with them many of their slaves. Intent on creating a new Saint-Domingue by maximizing the quantity and quality of sugarcane output, they achieved greater profits than slaveholders elsewhere, their wealth concentrated in huge landholdings, grandiose mansions, and a lavish lifestyle. But to achieve this wealth, they resorted to the same vicious practices they used in Saint-Domingue, turning their slaves into sugar-producing machines on plantations resembling death camps.

At harvest time, the slaves worked 16 hours a day, seven days a week, cutting down the eight-foot-high sugarcane. Laboring in the swamps’ summer heat, they were attacked by mosquito swarms, with many developing malaria and other tropical diseases. If slaves failed to meet their daily quota, or rebelled against their wretched conditions, punishment awaited. For minor insubordination, chained imprisonment for a period of time was likely. For greater disobedience, there was the whip—three stakes driven into the ground in triangular fashion, six feet apart; each hand of the slave tied to a stake, feet tied to the third; then came the lashing with a rawhide whip, creating with each stroke deep cuts seven or eight inches long.

For worse offenders, for those who attempted to escape, for example, there were torture devices they were forced to wear, such as a neck collar with inward-pointing spikes that made it impossible for the slave to lie down and rest his or her head. Finally, beyond the whip or spiked collar was the ultimate form of punishment: death by hanging or other means.

These were the intolerable conditions that led to the uprising of 1811. After having seized guns, ammo, and horses at the Andry plantation, the slaves continued to march downriver, chanting “Freedom or Death!” and “On to New Orleans!” At the plantation of Jacques and Georges Deslondes, the home plantation of Haitian-born Charles Deslondes, an overseer-turned-revolutionary and the insurrection’s major leader, eight slaves joined the revolt.

Small groups of slaves joined from every plantation the rebels passed. Two key organizers of the revolt, African-born Kook and Quamana, led more than half the slaves at their plantation to join, bringing the total number to well over 100. Most estimates are that 200 to 300 slaves joined, although some eyewitnesses and others have said it was as many as 500.

As the march grew in size and strength, terrified plantation owners and their families fled, some hiding in nearby swamps, others seeking refuge in New Orleans. There, on January 9, Governor William Claiborne and U.S. military commanders mustered two companies of volunteer militia, 30 regular troops, and 40 seamen to attack the rebels. At the same time, the wounded Manuel Andry, who had managed to reach New Orleans, worked with other planters who had fled there to form a militia led by mounted cavalry.

By early morning on January 10, these forces had reached a plantation where they thought the rebels had encamped overnight. But the rebels had already started back upriver, nearing another plantation. There, planter Charles Perret had assembled a well-armed militia of about 80 men, who he ordered to attack the insurgents. Despite their greater numbers and some guns, the slaves were not as well armed as their attackers. Only about half had bullets for their muskets, and others carried only sabers, axes, and cane knives. Within 30 minutes, 40 to 45 slaves had been killed, many others had been wounded, another 50 had been captured, and others escaped into the swamp. The militiamen then barbarically chopped off the heads of those they had killed and began pursuit of the others, led by a pack of bloodhounds. They soon found Charles Deslondes, the dogs getting to him first. The militiamen, intent on making a public display of Deslondes, dragged him back to the cane fields where they chopped off his hands, broke his thighs, shot him, then put him on a bundle of straw and roasted him to death.

Kook and Quamana were among those captured and taken to a plantation to be tried. There were three “legal” trials in all, kangaroo courts in reality, quickly ending in executions of most of those captured either by hanging or firing squad, including Kook and Quamana. But whether it was those killed in the initial battle, by subsequent capture and summary executions, as befell Charles Deslondes, or by executions after the trials, the planters and the New Orleans authorities performed the same savage ritual of chopping off the heads of the corpses and putting them on pikes, their mutilated bodies also publicly displayed. By the end of January, nearly 100 heads on pikes were displayed in central New Orleans and for 40 miles along the River Road, into the heart of the plantation district. Wrote one exultant planter, “They were brung here for the sake of their Heads, which decorate our Levee all the way up the coast. They look like crows sitting on long poles.”

THE CRIMINALS

The sugarcane plantation owners: Known to be among the cruelest, most brutal slaveholders anywhere in the South. When slaves farther north spoke fearfully of being “sold down the river,” they were referring mainly to the sugarcane plantations around New Orleans, where they worked longer hours, endured the harshest punishments, and lived shorter lives than most slaves elsewhere in the South. Manuel Andry and Charles Perret stand out for the role they played in brutally suppressing the rebellion.

William C.C. Claiborne: Appointed governor of the Orleans territory by President Thomas Jefferson, and with the population of New Orleans consisting mainly of urban slaves and free Black people, Claiborne feared the opening of a second front, which he believed would doom the city’s white population. He put New Orleans on lockdown and ordered that no Black person was allowed to be in the streets after 6 pm. Claiborne then spearheaded the creation of the voluntary militia and federal government armed force, led by General Wade Hampton and Commodore John Shaw, that hunted down and eventually suppressed, through the bloodiest possible means, the rebel insurrection.

President Thomas Jefferson had appointed Claiborne governor of the territory shortly after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, when the U.S. bought from Napoleon Bonaparte, for the bargain price of $15 million, what now equals nearly a quarter of today’s United States. The purchase was made by Jefferson primarily in the interests of the slave owners, with the aim of spreading their murderous slave system into new areas of North America.

The legislature of the Orleans territory, which, following the revolt’s suppression, approved “compensation” of $300 to planters for each slave initially killed or ultimately executed.

THE ALIBI

Claiborne and others worked to publicly characterize the revolt as nothing more than the actions of “brigands”—criminals, a band of thieves and marauders. The purpose of the trials themselves was to treat the rebellion as a simple legal matter dealing with a criminal act. This reduction of the rebellion to criminality resonated in the halls of D.C., where no concern was expressed for the real crimes: the slave system itself and the revolt’s brutal suppression.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

While the planters and federal authorities worked to reduce the slave rebels in the public eye to nothing more than savage criminals bent on creating mindless havoc, they were fully aware that the revolt was politically motivated, carefully planned, and represented a serious challenge to the system of plantation slavery and its westward expansion. In fact, seeds of the rebellion had been planted long before its outbreak. Kook and Quamana, for example, began planning a rebellion not long after they were brought to New Orleans. They carefully identified like-minded slaves, including during market trips to New Orleans. Similarly, as a trusted overseer, Charles Deslondes traveled openly to plantations, where he cultivated small insurrectionary cells. These cells took as their inspiration the victorious Haitian revolution, were driven by powerful revolutionary ideas, and were prepared to attack in organized fashion and under solemn oath of “freedom or death!” when their leaders gave them the word.

It is precisely because of the highly developed nature of the revolt and its political aim of establishing an independent Black republic that the slave owners and U.S. authorities set out to mercilessly crush the rebellion, to savagely place on pikes the heads of 100 rebels and display their mutilated bodies—providing a glimpse, just a brief but crystal clear glimpse, into the utter barbarity of the slave system.

Sources

Rasmussen, Daniel, American Uprising: The Untold Story of America’s Largest Slave Revolt, Harper Collins Publishers, 2011

Marissa Fessenden, “How a Nearly Successful Slave Revolt Was Intentionally Lost to History,” Smithstonian.com, January 8, 2016

‘America Rising’: When Slaves Attacked New Orleans,” All Things Considered, NPR, January 16, 2011

Leon A. Waters, “Jan. 8, 1811: Louisiana’s Heroic Slave Revolt,” Zinn Education Project

Wendell Hassan Marsh, “The Untold Story of One of America’s Largest Slave Revolts,” The Root, February 25, 2011


Deslonde Revolt, 1811. Artist unknown


New Orleans authorities responded to the 1811 slave uprising by performing the savage ritual of chopping heads off corpses and putting them on pikes. Nearly 100 heads on pikes were displayed in central New Orleans and for 40 miles along the River Road. The Whitney Museum commissioned Woodrow Nash to create 63 ceramic heads (three shown here) depicting the revolutionaries. They are on stakes beside a pond. (Photo: John McCuster)


If slaves were out of line punishment awaited. Whippings took place: three stakes driven into the ground in triangular fashion, six feet apart; each hand of the slave tied to a stake, feet tied to the third; then came the lashing with a rawhide whip, creating with each stroke deep cuts seven or eight inches long.


From: ON "PRINCIPLED COMPROMISES," AND OTHER CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

* Writing in the New York Times “Book Review” section (Sunday, October 25, 2015), speaking about the convention in 1787 that “led to the creation of the United States Constitution,” Robert E. Rubin, former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton, actually says the following:

“Disagreements about the extent of federal power and the design of our democratic institutions were resolved through long arguments and, ultimately, principled compromises.” (Emphasis added)

Principled compromises?! The founding of this country on the basis of institutionalizing slaveryofficially establishing the “right” to own slaves, and the status of slaves as less than human, in its founding Constitution—that is a “principled compromise” in the eyes of a present-day representative and functionary of the ruling class of this country. And the fact is that no major politician and no other significant representative of this ruling class will, or can, denounce this country, since its very founding, and denounce its “founders,” in the terms in which they deserve to be denounced: monstrously criminal. If founding a country on the basis of institutionalizing slavery is not a monstrous crime, what is? The fact that no significant representative and functionary of this system, in this country, can recognize and acknowledge this as a monstrous crime—and instead they all uphold as “great men” those, like Thomas Jefferson, who founded a country on the basis of this monstrous crime, and who perpetuated this crime for generations—that gets to the very core of what this system is all about and why there is a great need to put an end to this system at the earliest possible time, and replace it with a system that has no need, no place, and no apology for slavery in any form.

—Bob Avakian

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/621/on-the-road-to-genocide-en.html

On the Road to Genocide: The Trump/Pence Regime's Anti‑Immigrant Barrage

| revcom.us

 

 

AVAILABLE AS PDF FOR PRINTING IN PAMPHLET FORM:

 

The rulers of America’s capitalist-imperialist system, Democrat and Republican alike, have gorged for decades on relentless exploitation and persecution of immigrants—in particular immigrants from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The ruling class has been as one in using punishment and death to wrench profit from generation after generation of immigrants.

Millions of people have worked shit jobs, paid at or below minimum wage, to be rewarded with deportation. Countless families have been torn apart. Kids have gone to school in the morning only to get home in the afternoon and learn that their mother, or father, or both, had been taken away and sent out of the country. Thousands of people have died agonizing deaths trying to cross deserts, mountains, and rivers.

But now the Trump/Pence regime is taking all this to entirely new depths. Trump began his presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists.” His frenzied mobs regularly chant “build that wall” during his fascist rallies. Trump has threatened to put moats with “snakes and alligators” on the U.S. side of the wall. His regime has been marked by the cruelty of parent-child separations; the declaration that people from what this white supremacist calls “shithole countries” must be prevented from entering the U.S.; frigid concentration camps for children; a “Muslim Ban” on entry to the U.S., among many other measures.

And for every one of this regime’s outrageous statements and murderous deeds, there are literally dozens of executive decisions, judicial rulings, policy changes, and other less known measures intended to cement a virulently racist, immigrant-hating foundation in place. The scope and fiendishness of Trump’s racist, hate-filled language and the anti-immigrant measures his regime has taken are laying groundwork for truly genocidal measures aimed at committing massive violence against millions.

These fascists are putting together what one immigration lawyer described as “a combination of interlocking mechanisms” that have transformed immigration policy in this country into something even more ferocious than what preceded it, as a central component of their attempts to consolidate all-out fascism. What follows are some of the chief features of these measures.

The U.S.'s Southern Border, a 2,000 Mile Zone of Death and Repression

Table of Contents

I.    The Wall and the Border

II.   Concentration Camps, Deaths

III.   Driving Immigrants Out of the Country

IV.   Moves to Eliminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hundreds of Thousands

V.   Targeting 800,000 People Under DACA for Deportation

VI.   Migrant Persecution Protocols

VII.  The Muslim Ban and Beyond: Reshaping Visa and Asylum to Serve Fascist Ends

Conclusion


A Clip: "The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants"

Watch the full speech.

I. The Wall and the Border

Building a wall along the entire southwest border has been central to Trump’s fascist program since he began campaigning in 2016. Rabid mobs of his supporters routinely chant “build that wall” at his rallies. His regime has allocated billions of dollars to the border wall, to repair existing sections and build new ones. The border bristles with razor wire and barbed wire. It is patrolled by tens of thousands of enforcers—Border Patrol, customs officers, state and local police. Enormous radar blimps hover 15,000 feet above the border, along with surveillance aircraft, including drones. Infrared cameras are posted along the border; underground sensors beneath it. The Texas Highway Patrol has heavily armored gunboats equipped with 50-caliber machine guns prowling the Rio Grande.1

Border Patrol Agents

There were about 19,400 Border Patrol agents nationally in 2018, about 16,600 of them along the U.S. border with Mexico. When Trump first took office, he signed an executive order for hiring 5,000 more Border Patrol, and developed plans to hire 2,700 each year.

National Guard Deployed to Border

In April 2018, Trump ordered the Department of Defense to send 4,000 National Guard troops to the border, and extended the order in November. Despite the withdrawal of troops from some states, as of March 21, 2019, about 2,100 remained.2 In late June 2019, Texas governor Greg Abbot, a Trump ally, announced he is sending an additional 1,000 Texas National Guard to the border.3

Active Duty Military

In October 2018, the Defense Department deployed 5,200 active-duty personnel to the border. While some were withdrawn in December, orders for thousands of others were extended into 2019. In February 2019 another 3,750 troops were sent to the border, and in April, an additional 320.4


The U.S.military place razor wire along the U.S.-Mexico border near the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge in McAllen, Texas, November 2018. (Photo: AP)


White Supremacist Vigilantes

On April 16, 2019, a video surfaced showing a group of armed men in military-style uniforms who announced themselves as the police surrounding immigrants. They pointed their rifles at the immigrants, and commanded them to sit. The men, from a white supremacist vigilante group called the “United Constitutional Patriots” held the immigrants until the Border Patrol arrived and arrested the immigrants—but the Border Patrol neither ordered the vigilantes to disperse nor took their weapons from them. One of the vigilante leaders said “We are simply there because President Trump declared a national emergency on the border ... we are here right now and we’re doing what we need to do.”5  (One vigilante leader was later arrested for “impersonating a federal agent” after widespread outrage at the videos he posted online.)

Arrests and Deportations at the Border

In the fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019), 859,501 people were taken into federal custody along the southern border by Border Patrol agents and deported. This is more than twice the number arrested in 2018.6 An additional 263,000 people were denied entry at southern ports of entry.


From the Q&A: Bob Avakian's Answer to People Who Complain about Immigrants Crossing Borders

Watch the full speech.


Criminalizing Immigration – "Zero Tolerance"

In April 2018, Trump’s Department of (In)Justice (DOJ) instructed federal prosecutors to prioritize prosecution of immigration crimes. In May, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it would refer all people arrested crossing the border to the DOJ for prosecution. (This instruction no longer applied to families with children after Trump signed an executive order in late June that supposedly ended family separations.)

Arresting Children, Tearing Families Apart

Over half of those apprehended by the Border Patrol in fiscal 2019—more than 450,000 people—were with a family. Many of these were children and infants. This is dramatically different from any other time in the Border Patrol’s history, and an increase of almost six times more than in 2015, which had previously been the year with the highest number of people arriving as families. After the May 2018 announcement (above) DHS began separating thousands of families, with the parents held for prosecution. After protests around the country against this barbaric practice, Trump signed another executive order on June 20 which supposedly ended the separation of families. Government officials admitted that 2,737 children had been taken from their parents in that period. But in January 2019 the Department of Health and Human Services said “thousands” more children may have been wrenched from their families.7 Furthermore, “for cause” separations of families determined by “law enforcement needs” are occurring in 2019 at twice the rate they did in late 2016.8

The Trump/Pence regime has undertaken several legal and administrative measures to “increase enforcement both against children and the family members with whom they seek to reunify.”9 These include instructions to judges to “root out fraud,” to ensure that the designation of minor can be removed from a child in custody, to mandate “extreme vetting” of potential sponsors for young immigrants. In April 2019, ICE announced it is sending investigators to determine if fraudulent documents are being used at the border to create “fake families.” Investigations from now on will also include DNA testing.10

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II. Concentration Camps, Deaths

Hundreds of Thousands, Including Children in Dozens of Concentration Camps

In 2018 ICE booked 396,448 people into its custody. In addition, another 12,000 children were held under supervision of the Office of Refugee resettlement.11 ICE has detention centers in every state in the country, with the highest concentration being in Texas, California, and Arizona.12 By December 2018, almost 15,000 children were in the custody of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.13


This photo was taken in May 2019 at a concentration camp near McAllen, TX and obtained by CNN from an unnamed person.


Deaths in U.S. Custody

Since Trump took office, 12 immigrants have died while in Border Patrol custody; 27 while in ICE custody.14 These include a two-year-old Guatemalan boy who died of pneumonia and seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin, who went into cardiac arrest brought on by severe dehydration. As of September 20, at least 15 immigrant children died while in Border Patrol custody or immediately after being released this year.15

Death in the Deserts

In 2017, the last year for which there are official figures, 412 people died within the U.S. just over the border. Most of these people died from “prolonged exposure to the extreme environments in the border region.”16 According to the group Border Angels, about 10,000 people have died attempting to cross the border since 1994.17 The official U.S. Customs number of deaths between 1998 and 2017 is 7,126. These figures only reflect known deaths—how many hundreds or thousands have perished in the blistering heat is unknown. Border Patrol agents routinely destroy water bottles and other survival provisions left in the desert by people trying to help the desperate immigrants. The federal government tried twice—unsuccessfully—to convict on felony charges Scott Warren, a geography professor who set water bottles in the desert.


Screenshot from video posted by No More Deaths showing border agent grinning while pouring out water left for migrants. No More Deaths reported "Border Patrol agents are destroying gallons of water intended for border crossers.... In data collected by No More Deaths from 2012 to 2015, we find that at least 3,586 gallon jugs of water were destroyed" in one desert corridor.


Killed While in Border Patrol Custody or Fleeing Border Patrol

Clear figures of deaths of immigrants in U.S. custody at the border are not provided by the U.S. government. But we do know that as of November 6, at least 15 adults are known to have died while in Border Patrol custody or while trying to evade them in 2019.18 Most of these people died of “extreme dehydration” after they were taken into Border Patrol custody. How long they waited to receive medical attention is not clear. Others were killed in car and foot chases. This is a 50% increase over all of 2018.

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III. Driving Immigrants Out of the Country

ICE Raids and Deportations

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the main government agency responsible for deporting people arrested within the U.S. One of Trump’s first actions as president was to sign an executive order instructing ICE agents to enforce U.S. laws against “all removable aliens.”19 This greatly enlarged the number of people potentially targeted for deportation, since the previous policy had been to focus on “criminal aliens.”


August 7, 2019, U.S. Immigration raided several Mississippi food processing plants, including this Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, MS. The early morning raids were part of a large-scale operation targeting allegedly undocumented employees. Photo: ICE.


Expanding ICE, Increasing Raids

There were 6,848 “worksite investigations” by ICE in 2018, over 5,000 more than in 2017.20 Thousands of people have been arrested and deported in raids across the country.21 In July 2019, Trump announced that ICE is poised to escalate raids in about a dozen cities. In August, about 680 people, mainly workers in poultry plants, were arrested in ICE raids across northern Mississippi. In the fiscal year 2018, 287,741 people were deported from raids within the U.S. interior, the highest number in any year since an institute at Syracuse University began keeping records.22 Trump has directed the Department of Homeland Security to hire 10,000 additional ICE agents. At this point, Congress hasn’t provided all the funding for that, and it is still being contested.


ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) arrested about 680 people in several Mississippi towns in the August 7, 2019 raids. Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, 11 years old, pleads for the return of her father who was picked up in the raid.


Expanding and Upgrading "E-Verify"

In 2017, Trump ordered that E-Verify, an electronic system that enables employers to check the legal status of employees and potential employees, be expanded and upgraded. For now, it is “voluntary,” though it is mandatory by state law in 22 states,23 and all federal contractors and subcontractors must use it.

Attacking Sanctuary Cities, Expanding Local and State Police Enforcement of Immigration Law

In January 2017, Trump issued an executive order that no federal grants go to law enforcement in sanctuary jurisdictions. This has been overturned several times in courts, but the Trump/Pence regime continues to contest it. Meanwhile, it has developed other ways of cutting off funds to sanctuary cities, within the framework of existing immigration law.24

"Zero Tolerance"

The (In)Justice Department instructed its prosecutors to pursue all “illegal entry” cases as criminal charges. Previously the government policy, if not always its practice, had prioritized arresting immigrants wanted for or convicted of criminal offenses. In May 2018, it announced that the Department of Homeland Security would pursue “100%” of entry cases as “criminal.”25

Locking up Pregnant Women

In 2017, Trump ordered ICE to end a policy that enabled it to release pregnant women from federal imprisonment while awaiting court appearances.26

Limiting Legal Appearances, Accelerating Deportation

Upon taking office the Trump/Pence regime began implementing numerous changes to speed up immigration cases and get people into the deportation pipeline quicker, and it continues to do so.27 These include using video teleconferencing for court appearances, hiring more immigration judges, limiting continuances, sending judges to locations across the country where the caseload is highest, instituting metrics that demand “peak efficiency” (meaning, maximum deportations the quickest), ending the grossly misnamed “child-friendly practices,” “expediting dockets” in 10 large cities “with the expectation that (each case) would be adjudicated within 180 days,” and others. These measures have included bringing toddlers before immigration judges. Immigration courts are not obligated to provide attorneys or maintain even the pretense of “due process” supposedly available in criminal courts.

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IV. Moves to Eliminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Hundreds of Thousands

The Trump/Pence regime has been trying to eliminate Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which provides legal status to immigrants in the U.S. from a small number of designated countries who are deemed unable to safely return to their homelands because of natural disasters, famine, or armed conflicts. Currently, about 300,000 people are covered under TPS—the largest number from El Salvador, followed by Honduras and Haiti. First started in 1990, TPS gives temporary reprieve to people from deportation even though they lack legal status as permanent residents, and enables them to obtain work permits.

Burning Down the House—and Throwing the Victims Back in It

In January 2018, the Trump/Pence regime announced it is ending TPS for people from El Salvador—turning upside down the lives of not only about 200,000 Salvadorans with TPS but hundreds of thousands of family members. This was a couple of months after the cancellation of TPS for 50,000 Haitians. As a Salvadoran woman in Los Angeles who has two children born in the U.S. said, “We had hope that if we worked hard, paid our taxes and didn’t get in trouble we would be allowed to stay.” She said she would risk arrest rather than return to El Salvador, even though without the TPS she would lose the job she had for 12 years and medical insurance for herself and her family.

The Salvadorans covered under TPS had fled a country torn by a civil war in which the U.S. supported and trained death squads and a military that killed about 75,000 people in the small country, and displaced one-fifth of the population. Then in 2001, two massive earthquakes left much of the already devastated country in even worse ruins. The Trump/Pence regime’s twisted rationale for ending the TPS for Salvadorans was that the conditions that made it unsafe to return to El Salvador no longer existed. As revcom.us wrote, “This is like setting a house on fire, shooting down some of the people who manage to escape, and gathering up others to throw them back in the burning building. For decades, El Salvador has been tormented by U.S. domination. Millions of people live in a hell of hunger, poverty, and death that has ‘Made in the USA’ stamped all over it.”



New York, November 21, 2017, outside Representative Peter King's office on Long Island, demanding that Temporary Protected Status be saved, and the passage of a clean DREAM Act.


Photos: Make the Road NY


TPS Cancellation Blocked for Now—but Threat Hangs Over the Head of Immigrants

In October 2018, a federal court judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Trump/Pence regime from ending TPS for people from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Sudan. The regime is appealing the ruling. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security said that TPS status for people from those countries would be extended through January 2020, and re-extended in nine-month intervals if needed. In a separate lawsuit, a group of TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal are challenging their status. But Trump/Pence officials have made it clear they are pressing forward with the attempt to get rid of TPS altogether, and that once that happens, people covered by TPS will have 120 days to leave the U.S.

El Salvador Government Makes Devil's Bargain with Trump/Pence

In October of this year, the Trump/Pence regime separately extended the TPS for the people from El Salvador. But there were reports that this extension came at a price: the signing by the Salvadoran government of an agreement demanded by the Trump/Pence regime under which El Salvador would step up efforts against the flow of refugees from Central America to the U.S. Furthermore, according to the Los Angeles Times: “Trump administration officials painted a different picture, however, attempting to limit the scope of the extension. Acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, in fact, said TPS was not being extended at all. ‘Rather, work permits for Salvadorans will be extended for 1 year past resolution of litigation for an orderly wind down period,’ he said on Twitter.”

Denying TPS to People from Bahamas after Deadly Hurricane

In September, the Caribbean island nation of the Bahamas was hit with a deadly hurricane that totally destroyed parts of the country and left dozens dead. The Trump/Pence regime refused to grant TPS to people from the Bahamas. And about 100 people fleeing the devastation were told to get off a ferry that was to take them from the Bahamas to Florida because the U.S. would not let them in. A Boston Globe editorial noted, “A massive hurricane striking an island nation is practically a textbook definition of the sort of humanitarian crises that Congress had in mind when it created the program. If Bahamians don’t qualify, then exactly who does?” And that was exactly the point the Trump/Pence regime was making with this deliberately inhumane move: we are NOT going to give TPS to anyone.


Great Abaco, Bahamas, September 5, 2019, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. Photo: AP.


Adding to the Cruel Separation of Families

There are an estimated 273,000 children who were born in the U.S. to parents who are covered under TPS. If the Trump/Pence regime succeeds in its declared intention to end TPS, these families would face an agonizing situation. As an op-ed writer in the Washington Post noted: “Parents will be faced with the decision of whether to take their children—most of whom speak mainly English and know only life in this country—back to countries deemed by the State Department as not safe for travel, some with the highest homicide rates in the hemisphere. Otherwise, parents will have to leave their children alone in the United States or, if they’re lucky, with relatives, or foster parents who they may or may not know, or some with ‘adult sponsors’ chosen by federal agencies. The only other choice available to those parents would be to hide in the shadows as undocumented aliens.”

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V. Targeting 800,000 People Under DACA for Deportation

One of Donald Trump’s major campaign promises was to kill DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the federal program that since 2012 has shaped the lives of 800,000 “Dreamers”—undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, even as babies. For most Dreamers, the U.S. is the only home they have ever known. Under an executive order issued by Barack Obama, they were eligible for renewable two-year work permits to live and work in the U.S. legally. Elimination of DACA would mean these hundreds of thousands would be deported, separated from families and friends—or hunted down as “illegals” by ICE agents in the land they grew up in.

Regime Declares End of DACA

In September 2017, the Trump/Pence regime terminated the DACA program, throwing the lives of millions of people in this country into a whole new level of fear and danger. To qualify for DACA, people had to provide ICE with every detail of their lives: their residence, their work info, and the names and status of their family members and relatives. With the ending of DACA, it means this information could be used by the government to go after them and their loved ones. When they applied for DACA, they were told this information would not be used to deport them. But the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services later said that policy “may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice.” Although DACA itself applies to a small percentage of immigrants in this country without documents, many of the DACA recipients live in households with both “legal” and “illegal” status—and the Trump/Pence regime’s targeting of DACA is a big part of the overall fascist assault against immigrants.

Court Cases Have Stopped Elimination of DACA for Now—but the Threat Sill Hangs Over the Heads of the Dreamers

Various court challenges have prevented the Trump/Pence regime—so far—from carrying out the complete elimination of DACA. The issue is now at the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the case on November 12, and is expected to come out with a ruling next June. In August, Justice Department lawyers submitted a brief to the Court claiming that Trump was fully within his rights in ending DACA. They said that the Department of Homeland Security had “correctly, and at a minimum reasonably, concluded that DACA is unlawful.” (Trump’s justification for eliminating DACA has been that Obama acted illegally in creating the program in the first place.)



Democrats Stab the Dreamers in the Back

At the end of 2017, the Senate Democrats forced a government shutdown by refusing to vote for a funding bill—supposedly in opposition to Trump’s moves to eliminate DACA. But very quickly, the Democratic leaders showed how hollow and duplicitous their show of “support” for the Dreamers was. First, top Senate Democrat Schumer, supposedly to facilitate a deal with Trump, agreed to link the fate of the Dreamers to support for Trump’s border wall. This was simply conceding that the wall and all the associated “security measures”—in other words, viciously anti-immigrant police and military actions—are valid, without getting anything in return. Then a few days later, in January 2018, Schumer and the other Democrats voted to approve the same bill to fund the government that they had just rejected. They gave away the one tool they had—forcing a federal government shutdown—by cravenly capitulating to the fascist regime and the Republicans.

In June of this year, the Democrats in the House passed a bill that called for granting DACA recipients conditional legal status for 10 years and allowing the possibility of obtaining permanent residency after completing some college, military service, or a period of work. But this was a meaningless gesture—the Republican-controlled Senate refused to take up the bill, and it has gone nowhere.

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VI. Migrant Persecution Protocols

In December 2018, the U.S. initiated a program called "Remain in Mexico," also officially called the "Migrant Protection Protocols," or MPP. It began in southern California, and by mid-summer 2019 had extended to border areas in Texas and Arizona. Under MPP the government quickly sends almost all asylum-seeking people who somehow make it into the U.S. back to Mexico, and allows them into the U.S. only for court hearings at a distant future date. In violation of long-standing international and U.S. law, the U.S. now refuses to accept asylum applications from people from Honduras and El Salvador who passed through Mexico and/or Guatemala without first applying for asylum there. Asylum seekers from Guatemala, as well as other parts of the world trying to get to the U.S.'s southern border, now must apply in Mexico before the U.S. will even give them a hearing. A federal appeals court allowed this rule to go into effect, and the Supreme Court had upheld that decision. This blatantly inhumane and illegal measure was upheld in September by the U.S. Supreme Court.28

Thousands Stranded in Mexico by U.S.'s Action

MPP has left tens of thousands of people stranded, penniless, and homeless in Mexican border cities. There they are caught in a deadly, suffocating vise: unable to enter the U.S.; terrified for their lives about returning to their homelands; preyed upon by criminal gangs and police, in some of the most violent cities in the world.29


Tijuana, November 25, 2018, on the U.S.-Mexico border. People who had walked thousands of miles to apply for asylum were confronted by riot police, helicopters, machine guns, and soldiers. Border Patrol threw tear gas at these migrants, including small children and babies. Photo: AP.


"Metering"

The Trump/Pence Department of (In)Justice instituted a policy called “metering” to limit the number of cases it hears each day. People who apply for asylum when they encounter a U.S. official at the border are given a teleconference court date, usually months in the future, and sent back to Mexico. A woman from Guatemala described her encounter: “They only asked for a name, a fingerprint, and then, ‘out.’”

First the Judgement, then the Hearing

The outcome of most hearings has been pre-determined for those who manage to make it that far. Kevin McAleenan, then commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, announced this summer that a “majority of these claims will not be successful.”30

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VII. The Muslim Ban and Beyond: Reshaping Visa and Asylum to Serve Fascist Ends

The Muslim Ban

In January 2017, Trump signed an executive order putting in place his regime’s infamous “Muslim ban.” It prohibited travel to the U.S. by people with legitimate visas from a number of predominantly Islamic countries. Protests erupted across the country. Multiple legal challenges were made against the ban. But the third rewriting of the ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 16, 2018.31 Visas from people in affected countries have dropped by as much as 92% since it went into effect.32

Harshly Restrictive New Measures for Refugee Admission

In March 2017, the Trump regime announced that it was suspending travel of all refugees into the U.S. for 120 days, while it reviewed existing applications and admission policy. It claimed it needed enhanced “security measures.”33 When admissions resumed, all applicants were subjected to “enhanced vetting,” and additional scrutiny if they were from countries determined to be “high risk.” The “Central American Minors Refugee and Parole Program,” which provided some protection to youths from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, was terminated.34 These measures quickly took a severe toll. In fiscal year 2016, 84,989 refugees were admitted into the U.S. In fiscal 2018, 22,491.35 That number is plummeting still lower this year.

Shutting Down Asylum, Redefining Fear

In June 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions narrowed the availability of asylum for those targeted by “non-state” actors. This stripped protection for victims of gang violence and domestic violence, and erected new barriers to asylum for women, children, LGBTQ victims, and others trying to escape abuse, beatings, rape, and murder.

Holding Asylum Applicants in Detention

In April 2019, Attorney General William Barr ruled that immigration judges are not allowed to hold bond hearings for asylum applicants. This aims to hold asylum seekers in detention (prison) indefinitely while their applications are pending.36 This has been blocked—for now—by a federal court.

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Conclusion

This list is not just a concentration of horrors directed at immigrants. It is more than an extension of the atrocities this system has always inflicted on immigrants. It represents a coherent, multi-dimensional fascist strategy to drive millions of people out of this country, to keep others from ever arriving, and to impose a reign of terror on all. From the moment Trump and Pence came into office their regime has been carrying out monstrous crimes against immigrants. They have also been creating the mechanisms, the infrastructure, the legal pretexts, and the rabid racist atmosphere to carry out crimes on a far greater, potentially genocidal scale, as a cornerstone of installing full on fascism.

They are deep into developing this program. It can be defeated—but the hour has gotten very late. Millions of people in this country have expressed disgust for and opposition to the vilification and slander of immigrants by the fascists in power. People have taken to the streets, sometimes in massive numbers, to oppose many of the attacks, but much more is needed, urgently. A mass, nonviolent movement needs to get in the streets and stay in the streets, and actually defeat this regime; people who despise the fascist regime and everything it does need to drive it from power, in the name of and in the interest of humanity. And this can and must contribute greatly to what is urgently needed—preparing for a revolution that overthrows the system itself and goes on to transform all of society in the interests of humanity, and the planet.

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Footnotes:

1. Fortifying the Border, by Silvia Foster-Frau, San Antonio Express News  [back]

2. Trump Ordered 15,000 New Border Patrol and Immigration Officers, by Molly O’Toole, Los Angeles Times  [back]

3. Texas Sending Another 1,000 National Guard Troops to Border, by Clarice Silber, Associated Press  [back]

4. Immigration-Related Policy Changes in the First Two Years of the Trump Administration, by Sarah Pierce, Migration Policy Institute  [back]

5. How Armed Vigilante Groups are Detaining Migrants on U.S.-Mexico BorderThe Independent  [back]

6. CBP Enforcement Statistics FY 2019, U.S. Customs and Border Protection  [back]

7. Separated Children Placed in Office of Refugee Resettlement Care, HHS Office of Inspector General  [back]

8. Congressional Testimony by Kathryn A. Larin, U.S. GAO  [back]

9. Immigration-Related Policy Changes in the Trump Administration, Migration Policy Institute  [back]

10. DHS to Start DNA Testing to Establish Family Relations at the Border, Priscilla Alvarez and Geneva Sands, CNN  [back]

11. Fiscal year 2018, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Report  [back]

12. Ice Detention Centers in Every U.S. State, Business Insider  [back]

13. Office of Refugee Resettlement  [back]

14. The Demise of America’s Asylum System Under Trump, by Nicole Narea, Vox.com  [back]

15. More Immigrant Children Are Dying at the Border, by Adolfo Flores, Buzzfeed News  [back]

16. Migrant Deaths Along U.S.-Mexico Border Remain High, UN News  [back]

17. Border Angels website  [back]

18. Deaths by Border Patrol Since 2010, Southern Border Communities Coalition  [back]

19. “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” Executive Order from DHS  [back]

20. Ice Worksite Investigations FY18 Surge, ICE press release  [back]

21. Announcements of ICE Enforcement ActionsAmerican Immigration Law Association  [back]

22. Immigration Deportation Hearings Hit Record High in 2018CBS News  [back]

23. List of States That Require E-VerifyEfficient Hire  [back]

24. DOJ Announces Priority Consideration Criteria for COPS Office Grants, press release from Department of Justice  [back]

25. Attorney General Announces Zero-Tolerance Policy for Criminal Illegal Entry, press release from Department of Justice  [back]

26.  Directive: Identification and Monitoring of Pregnant Detainees, ICE  [back]

27. Backgrounder on Strategic Caseload Reduction, from Executive Office for Immigration Review  [back]

28. Supreme Court Lets Trump’s Rule for Asylum Seekers on Southern Border Stand, by Julián Aguilar, Texas Tribune  [back]

29. Asylum Seekers Stranded in Mexico Face Homelessness, Kidnapping, and Sexual Violence, by Ashoka Mukpo, A.C.L.U. report  [back]

30. Asylum Claims Jump Despite Trump’s Attempt to Limit Immigration, by Ron Nixon, New York Times  [back]

31. The Travel Ban at Two: Rocky Implementation Settles Into Deeper Impacts, by Muzaffar Chishti and Jessica Bolter, Migration Policy Institute  [back]

32. Statistics Show that Trump’s “Travel Ban” Was Always a Muslim Ban, Vahid Niayesh, Vox  [back]

33. Executive Order 13815: Resuming the United States Refugee Admissions Program With Enhanced Vetting Capabilities, Homeland Security Digital Library  [back]

34. Ibid  [back]

35.  Migration Policy Institute Study  [back]

36. Matter of M-S-, Respondent, U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General  [back]

[back]

 

 

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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/a/621/students-walk-out-across-the-country-daca-en.html

Students Walk Out Across the Country Against Attacks on DACA

| revcom.us

 

Friday, November 8—Hundreds of college and high school students walked out and joined with people of all ages against the Trump/Pence regime’s attempt to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). DACA is the federal program that since 2012 has given 800,000 “Dreamers”—undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children—temporary protection from deportation and allowed them to go to school and hold jobs. The end of DACA would mean these youths could be deported, separated from families and friends—or hunted down as “illegals” by ICE agents in the land they grew up in. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday, November 12, in a case about whether the regime can go ahead with eliminating DACA. Protest is being planned for that day.

Dozens of protesters have been walking from New York City to Washington, DC, under the banner “Home Is Here,” and stopped today in Philadelphia, where they were joined by many others. The march is also demanding a stop to the Trump/Pence regime’s attempt to end Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for about 300,000 people from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and other countries who had been allowed to stay in the U.S. because their home countries have been ravaged by natural disasters, war, and famine.

In DC, hundreds from many cities and states protested outside the Supreme Court. In Oklahoma City, hundreds of youths poured out of eight high schools and the University of Oklahoma and held a spirited march and rally. Hundreds more from California to Florida to Arizona walked out on the day of protest. They raised the chants “Home is here,” “Here to stay,” and “Undocumented, Unafraid.” More school walkouts and other protests are planned for next week.

 

 

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Especially right now, funds are urgently needed to spread BA's work and leadership and the movement for an actual revolution.
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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/a/618/bob-avakian-excerpts-en.html

Excerpts from:

Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis

Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism

by Bob Avakian

Updated | revcom.us

 

Revcom is sharing with our readers excerpts from this new work by Bob Avakian:

 

Lack of real hope for a better life in this world is a heavy chain weighing down, suffocating, and deeply scarring the masses of humanity, including the youth who are concentrated in the ghettos and barrios of this country as well as its overflowing torture chamber prisons. And the extreme individualism promoted throughout this society, the obsessive focus on “the self,” has reinforced the heavy lid on the sights of people, obscuring their ability to recognize the possibility of a radically different and better world, beyond the narrow and confining limits of this system, with all its very real horrors.

Posted December 9, 2019:

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.

* Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution is an important speech by Bob Avakian, given in the summer of 2018. The film and the written text of this speech are available at revcom.us.

 

Posted December 1, 2019:

I want to speak to the accusation that “You are going to get people killed!”  This is an accusation that has not infrequently been raised especially when we put forward, as we should, not only the need for revolution, but what this means—that it means the overthrow of the existing system through the defeat of its armed enforcers when the conditions for that have been brought into being:  the existence of a revolutionary people in the millions and millions and an acute revolutionary crisis throughout society.  What is our response to this accusation?

People, masses of people all over the world, are already being killed, and are suffering in horrendous ways while they are alive, because of this system—and one of the most painful expressions of this is the way in which huge numbers of people who are already terribly oppressed under this system, and the youth in particular, are being misled into killing each other, either in gang conflicts or in wars in the service of imperialists and other reactionary oppressors! Our goal is clear:

No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born.  I say no more of that. [BAsics 1:13]

Our goal is to finally put an end to all this!

As called for in “HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution,” we need to be serious and scientific in how we build this revolution—and our strategy and plan for revolution is exactly based on a serious and scientific method and approach.  That is why, among other things, in the Points of Attention for the Revolution, the 6th point makes clear:

We are going for an actual overthrow of this system and a whole better way beyond the destructive, vicious conflicts of today between the people. Because we are serious, at this stage we do not initiate violence and we oppose all violence against the people and among the people.

It is this same method and approach that leads to this clear-cut, scientifically-based conclusion:

In fundamental terms, 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!

This is the understanding and the orientation that has to be brought forward, and vigorously fought for, among masses of people, and especially the youth, for whom this system really has no decent future—if, again, they have a future at all.

 

 

Posted November 11, 2019:

Individualism is a significant factor and "unifying element" in much of the negative trends that play a major role in keeping people from recognizing the reality and depth of the horrors continually brought about by this system—and recognizing the urgent need to act, together with others, to abolish and uproot all this, at its very source. This highlights and heightens the fact that individualism, which is encouraged and expressed in extreme forms in this particular society at this time, is a profound problem that must be confronted and transformed.

 

 

Virulent Individualism and Oblivious Individualism

These are two broad categories of individualism, which have some different particular characteristics but also have in common the basic focus on and preoccupation with the self. Virulent individualism is an extremely poisonous variation of this. It’s basically the view that “I’m out to get everything I can for myself and fuck everybody else. And if I have to trample on everybody else to get what I want, that’s just the way it is and I’m gonna do it the best I can, so I can get everything I want—I want it all and I want it now.”

Oblivious individualism is individualism that may not have those particular aggressive characteristics and may not even have a consciously hostile attitude toward other people in general, but involves going along pursuing one’s particular interests, aspirations, or “dreams,” without paying attention to the larger things that are going on in the world and the effect of this on masses of people throughout the world and indeed on the future of humanity.

 

 

As I pointed out in the Dialogue with Cornel West in 2014, the “selfie” is a perfect iconic representation of this whole outlook and this whole culture. It’s not that every “selfie” is in and of itself bad, of course. But there is a whole culture around it, even to the point where people go to a beautiful place in nature and what are they preoccupied with?  Taking a “selfie” of themself instead of taking in (and yes, taking photographs of) the vast beauty that’s stretched out before them. The important thing, with this outlook, is: “Here I am, look at me.” It’s the “look at me, look at me, look at me” ethos that is so predominant in both these forms of individualism, even in the one that’s not consciously virulent but is nevertheless strikingly oblivious.

 

 

I’m not necessarily opposed to people watching some videos or YouTubes of cats playing the violin (and similar things on the internet), but if that kind of thing is your preoccupation—let alone if snark and tearing down other people on the internet is your preoccupation—then, obviously, this is something any decent person should be very concerned about and strongly oppose and struggle sharply against.

 

 

Everywhere you turn you hear: “Oh, this is really gonna be good for developing her ‘brand’”; “Oh, they really have been very creative in how they’ve pumped up their ‘brand.’” You can’t turn around anywhere without hearing the word “brand” used in this kind of way. And this goes along, of course, with the glorification of entre-manure-ialism—which objectively amounts to the attempt to get in on the exploitation of people, becoming part of the overall process resting to a large degree on super-exploitation of masses of people, including children, in the Third World.

 

 

Oblivious individualism may seem more benign (or, in simple terms, less “nasty”) but it is nonetheless marked by being inexcusably ignorant of, or consciously choosing to ignore, what is happening in the larger world, beyond the self (and the narrow circle around oneself), and the consequences of this for the masses of people in the world, and ultimately for all of humanity—or paying attention to this only as it affects oneself in immediate and narrow terms.

 

 

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.”

 

 

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 starting 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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!

 

 

Posted November 4, 2019:

In the opening section of the book The New Communism (“Introduction and Orientation”) I spoke to the bitter reality that the masses of oppressed people are afraid to hope:

Afraid to hope that maybe the world doesn’t have to be this way, that maybe there is a way out of this. Afraid to hope, because their hopes have been dashed so many times.

This is a significant factor in why so many turn to religion—because there does not seem to be any hope for an end, in this world, to the terrible suffering and degradation to which they are continually subjected, which is imposed on them by the functioning of this system but which is also obscured and covered over by the very way this system operates and the role of its institutions, functionaries and enforcers, which systematically act to mislead people as to why the world is the way it is and whether and how it could really be changed, whether and in what way it is possible to put an end to all this unnecessary suffering.

Here stands out again the great importance of the scientific method and approach of communism, as this has been further developed through the new communism, and the reality and possibility of radical, emancipating change, in this world.

 

 

Confronting reality as it actually is—and as it is changing and developing—and understanding the underlying and driving forces in this, is crucial in order to play a decisive and leading role in bringing about this revolution and ushering in a whole new era in human history, which will shatter and remove forever not only the material chains—the economic, social and political shackles of exploitation and oppression—that enslave people in today’s world but also the mental chains, the ways of thinking and the culture, that correspond to and reinforce those material chains.

 

 

Religion is always presented as a source of “hope” or of consolation. But is it really a source of hope—or is it, in essence and in its defining aspect, a paralyzing illusion? Religion holds out the concept of consolation for suffering, and looking to another world and otherworldly forces to get some sort of consolation for all the suffering that people are subjected to, and in order to make it through the day. But the question is: Is what people need consolation for the suffering that they’re put through under this system, or do they need to rise up and abolish the system which embodies and enforces this suffering, and in so doing eliminate the need for consolation for suffering that they’re no longer being put through, the unnecessary suffering they’re being put through?

 

 

The Christian fundamentalists (including the current Vice President Mike Pence and others in powerful positions in government, the media, and other major institutions) are a driving force for theocratic fascism (tyrannical rule by Dark Ages religious authority). They adhere to and aggressively propagate unthinking allegiance to and application of religious dogma which, when taken literally (as these Christian fascists insist upon), promotes and will lead to all kinds of atrocities and horrors (as can be seen in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible—something I analyzed in Away With All Gods!).

 

 

There are many religious people whose religious views and sentiments do inspire and drive them to take stands against and to even sacrifice in the struggle against oppression. And this, of course, should be respected and united with. But, at the same time, that does not eliminate the need for sharp struggle in the ideological realm against the outlook that religion purveys and the role that religion plays as a mental shackle on masses of people, in fact working against their acquiring and systematically and consistently applying a scientific approach to understanding reality, and in particular what it is that’s causing the suffering that the masses of humanity are being subjected to and what is the solution to that.

 

 

Yes, ultimately the struggle has to be carried out in the realm of practice; it has to be carried out in the actual struggle to go up against and ultimately overthrow the system which embodies and enforces all this horrific oppression. But there’s a tremendous importance to people, even before they become highly developed theoretically, to get a basic understanding that there is no necessity, there is no permanent necessity, to the existing conditions, and why that is so. This is the source of hope, not on the basis of illusions such as those propagated and perpetuated by religion, but on a scientific basis.

 

Posted October 21, 2019:

While people do exist as individuals, the terrible suffering of the masses of humanity and the urgent challenges facing humanity as a whole as a result of the escalating destruction of the environment by this system of capitalism-imperialism as well as the possibility of nuclear conflagration that continues to loom as an existential threat over humanity—all this cannot be seriously addressed, let alone actually solved, by each person pursuing their particular individual interests, and in fact people acting in this way constitutes a major obstacle to bringing about the necessary solution.

 

 

Another aspect of what is involved here is “world-weary cynicism”.... This world-weary pseudo cynicism (or real cynicism, but pseudo world-awareness) is another manifestation of parasitic individualism—excusing your refusal or your failure to do anything about the crimes being committed in your name, and all the horrific things going on in the world, on the basis of: “Yes, I know, but this is just the way it is. And after all, there’s nothing really that can be done about it. Anybody who comes forward and claims they’re gonna do something about it is just as corrupt as the people who are perpetrating this stuff already, so there’s not really anything that can be done.” As it has been put, very insightfully, this is a sentiment that could be translated as: “Oh, I’m so glad that it’s turned out that the right thing to do is to do nothing at all about these outrages and horrors in the world.”

 

 

One of the biggest obstacles standing in the way, and weighing people down, is American chauvinism—the disgusting notion that America and Americans are better and more important than everybody else.

 

 

With regard to the middle class in this country, although today significant sections of this class are not doing as well as in the past—and some are actually struggling—economically, as the social divide and the income disparities continue to widen to obscene proportions, there is still among them, or among many in the middle class, a persistent and widespread sense of “entitlement” as Americans and an identification of their own interests with what is in fact a system of massive war crimes and crimes against humanity: American capitalist imperialism. And, as noted in THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!, this poison of American chauvinism also exerts some influence among the most bitterly oppressed, even as this is in sharp conflict with the systematic oppression to which they are subjected in this country under this system.

 

 

With the invasions and ongoing wars, the coups, the slaughter of civilians in the hundreds of thousands, the wrecking of countries and the reducing of millions to desperation and starvation at the hands of the imperialists of the USA and their “allies” and craven puppets: Where is the mass outrage and active and determined opposition from people in the USA, in whose name these monstrous crimes are continually committed—including where is it from those who call themselves “progressive” or proclaim themselves “woke”?!

 

 

There is a great need for people broadly to break with this American chauvinism. As I have emphasized previously, there are 3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better:

1) 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.

2) People have to dig seriously and scientifically into how this system of capitalism-imperialism actually works, and what this actually causes in the world.

3) People have to look deeply into the solution to all this.

 

 

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

 

 

In direct opposition to the poisonous outlook of American chauvinism, the orientation that must be firmly upheld and fiercely fought for is the basic principle and simple, but profound, truth that “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People’s Lives” and “Internationalism—The Whole World Comes First,” which is contained in BAsics 5:7 and 5:8.

 

And, as gone into more fully in BAsics:

The interests, objectives, and grand designs of the imperialists are not our interests—they are not the interests of the great majority of people in the U.S. nor of the overwhelming majority of people in the world as a whole. And the difficulties the imperialists have gotten themselves into in pursuit of these interests must be seen, and responded to, not from the point of view of the imperialists and their interests, but from the point of view of the great majority of humanity and the basic and urgent need of humanity for a different and better world, for another way. (BAsics 3:8)

Winning continually greater numbers of people to this fundamental orientation is critical in terms of achieving any positive change, and will be decisive in bringing about the revolution to finally put an end to this monstrous system of capitalism-imperialism.

 

 

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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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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

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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.

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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

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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.

 

 


 

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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
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Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all who participated in our successful May Fund Drive for Revcom.us and The RNL Show!
Especially right now, funds are urgently needed to spread BA's work and leadership and the movement for an actual revolution.
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/349/watching-Fruitvale-Station-with-Bob-Avakian-en.html

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian

August 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This article was originally published in 2014.

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/features/index.html

Features

| revcom.us

 

November 2-4, 2019

#OUTNOW!—Across the Country, November 2


  •         At Madison Square Garden, where Trump attended a UFC event

  •         New York City march

  •         Harlem, NYC—Read more

  •         Philadelphia

  •         Los Angeles

November 2, 2019

#OUTNOW!—Across the Country, November 2


  •         New York City march

  •         Philadelphia

  •         Los Angeles

  •         At Madison Square Garden, where Trump attended a UFC event

November 1, 2019

30 years ago Donald Trump called for the execution of 15-year-old Yusef Salaam and four other innocent Black and Latino youth. Watch Carl Dix and Dr. Yusef Salaam talk about the experience of the Exonerated 5, the lessons from Nazi Germany, and why people need to take to the streets to get the Trump/Pence regime #OutNow.

Watch, share, donate, and join #OUTNOW! Today!


October 31, 2019

"The Democrats are fighting this impeachment on very narrow terms. If we allow the whole terms of this fight to be just between the Democrats and the Republicans, this fascism will stay intact, and this cancer of fascism will be legitimized and grow. This is why it has to be driven from power by the masses of people."

 


October 30, 2019

An "onslaught of far left activists"?! NO! We face an onslaught of FASCISM!

Which side are YOU on?

 

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org


October 28, 2019

Chicago:

Thousands Demonstrate Against Trump as He Attacks "Far‑left Activists" and Once Again Threatens Repression Against Black and Latino Community

Read more

Twitter/WCPT 820

Twitter/WCPT 820


Today! #OUTNOW! Launches Nationwide!

October 26, 2019

The Trump/Pence regime is fascist. It won't be bound by rules and will do anything to stay in power. The only thing that can stop them—and ultimately remove them from power—is the people, us, in the streets. Nonviolent... massive... sustained... and growing. Be part of rising to the challenge.

Go here for location nearest you.


Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

Friday marks one year since the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, unleashed against Jews for the alleged crime of supporting immigrants.

October 25, 2019

Since then: more massacres of immigrants and Latinos... more children of immigrants locked away from their parents in cages for the "crime" of seeking asylum, or weeping in the streets after their parents are seized in workplace raids... more massive Nazi-style rallies, each more ugly than the last...thugs on the attack—at demonstrations or even in the halls of Congress... and all headed by a president who loudly claims that he is above the law!

One year after the Pittsburgh massacre and...

NEVER AGAIN IS NOW! WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

TRUMP-PENCE OUT NOW! Saturday October 26—Find a city near you!


FASCISTS, HIGH AND LOW; RACISTS, THEN AND NOW

October 24, 2019

Yesterday, 30 fascist Congressmen prevented a hearing from going forward by their thuggish, mob-like antics. They echo their slavery-defending forefathers of the 1850s in their tactics, their mania to defend white supremacy, and their determination to impose their reactionary order on society. They also echo the thuggish attack on the Refuse Fascism demonstration by their brother fascists in LA last Saturday—who themselves even shouted out, “you want a civil war, we’ll give you a civil war.”

No. But if we want to stop these fascists from violently imposing their will on humanity, with catastrophic consequences, we need to take the streets, in nonviolent but determined mass action, thousands now building to millions. Be part of starting this this Saturday, all over the country.

Slavery? Genocide? And you think fascism can't happen here?

Watch the full film here.


Trump Compares Lawful Impeachment Inquiry to a Lynching

This fascist needs to be OUT NOW!

October 22, 2019

Trump—on the National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation—dared to compare the lawful inquiry of the House of Representatives into his outrageous acts to a "lynching."

"Lynching"? As in the lynching of over 5,000 people in this country's brutal racist history, the overwhelming majority of whom were Black?

Don't make us puke!

Trump began his political career calling for the "legal lynching" of the Central Park 5 in New York.

Trump inspired one-man lynch mobs from Pittsburgh to El Paso to Gilroy, California.

Trump tells police "don't be so gentle," and brays that "cops love Trump, Trump loves cops"—cheering on the modern counterparts of the lynch mobs.

This fascist needs to be OUT NOW!

 

The Oppression of Black People and Other People of Color, by Bob Avakian, an excerpt

Watch the full film here.


 

 

 

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Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all who participated in our successful May Fund Drive for Revcom.us and The RNL Show!
Especially right now, funds are urgently needed to spread BA's work and leadership and the movement for an actual revolution.
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/621/refuse-fascism-leads-protest-against-fascist-trump-jr-en.html

Refuse Fascism leads a defiant protest against fascist Trump Jr. speaking at UCLA

| revcom.us

 

Donald Trump Jr. is on a book tour with Turning Point USA to build a fascist student movement on campuses and to play point man for the fascist regime in power.

Over 120 people came out to reject and protest Donald Jr. and the universities’ role in legitimizing and facilitating white supremacy and the fascist remaking of society, and this whole event was an alarming sign of just how far this is getting.

Refuse Fascism led students and others in a defiant and hopeful message of Trump/Pence #OutNow!  Drums and the #OutNow banners were laid out on the lawn and people picked them up and began to make a huge amount of noise.  Chants got going, whistles blowing, and the protesters grew more and more determined in the conviction that the parade of MAGA (Make American Great Again) hats and fascists who were baring their fangs and true colors on the other side of a barricade would not be allowed to define the future.

For many of the students who attended it was their first demonstration and it was empowering, joyous and defiant.  People learned a new culture – how not to be alone – how to do more than tweet.  They learned what it feels like when you come together with people who care enough to stand up – chanting and yelling and telling the truth – together with people from diverse backgrounds, races and points of view. 

The MCs with Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club kept it clear and focused, why this (the Trump/Pence Regime) IS fascist, why it (fascism in the U.S.) CAN happen here (and in fact it IS happening here!), and WHY and HOW we need to challenge all the “woke” people (including friends, colleagues and family members) who refuse to confront this and act accordingly (to get in the streets in mass, non-violent, sustained protests).

The demonstration interspersed chants and loud noise to make the message clear with students and people from the community coming to the mic and speaking out on why they were there.  People testified to what it’s like to be Latino and not know when you come home at night if you will find your family there, UCLA alumni spoke to the shame that this was happening at this university.  People spoke to why they had joined Refuse Fascism and why it wasn’t just Trump but Pence and the whole regime that has to go. Bo Login, an anti-American Iraq war vet and now revolutionary, came to the mic to eviscerate and expose what “Make America Great Again” means to the people of the world.  Michelle Xai followed him to explain to the crowd why all the MAGA fascists on the other side of the barricade were frothing at the mouth and calling him a traitor, what the stand of the Revolution Club was on the American flag and led people in a chant of “1, 2, 3, 4, Slavery, Genocide and War, 5, 6, 7, 8, America was Never Great.”  MEChA  (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) led a chant of “Shame, Shame to the University.”  A Vietnamese student from the Southeast Asian student organization spoke about DACA students and led a chant, “Liberation Not Deportations.”  Anarchist students spoke but also took responsibility to shadowing fascist YouTubers in the crowd with loud drumming to disrupt their ability to troll the protests.  A Pakistani student denounced the treatment of Muslims by this regime and the Afrikan Student Union spoke to how the university could not come up with funds for a Black Resource Center but was willing to fund all the security for Donald Trump Jr. and his message of white supremacy—delivering a message to every student of color on campus that your lives do not count.  The advisor for the ASU spoke to how shameful it was that the university administration, faculty and community were not out denouncing this and a student from MEChA concluded with telling all the fascists coming out of the event as it concluded “Fuck You” delivering a powerful spoken word piece.

It was also a very sobering day as people confronted face to face the 400+ MAGA fascists—including a crowd of some of the most virulent who did not get into the event arrayed against the protest with just a metal barricade between them.  Chants competed: “Fuck your border” with “Build the Wall,”  “Humanity First” vs. “America First.”  When Atlas Winfrey talked about this being the 81st Anniversary of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany, where Jewish owned stores and homes were demolished, windows broken and property seized beginning a reign of terror—the fascists inches away cheered all this.  Black students with the ASU who did not get into the event defiantly made their way through frothing white supremacists to make it into the “free speech zone” where the university allowed our protest.

The Trump Jr. event itself went only 40 minutes of a planned two hour event because it was disrupted by a dispute between Turning Point USA and a faction competing for the allegiance of a rising fascist student movement who are calling Turning Point sellouts because they are not calling for a white ethno state where there are no non white immigrants and not just “legal ones.”  While smug twitter liberals and mainstream publications are tut tutting about Jr. being “triggered” at his own event by people on his side, they are willfully ignoring that this is a disagreement over when to vocalize the full fascist agenda now in power in the White House, how far this has actually gone and how many people are sitting this out and normalizing it. 

In fact downplaying the significance and courage of those out sounding the alarm and mobilizing people visibly into the streets to stop a fascist America while there is still time is itself a form of complicity—of propagating the American Exceptionalist ignorance and chauvinism that has people doing nothing, allowing their political activity and horizons to being corralled and  their opposition domesticated by the terms people are being told are needed to win an election and NOT calling this regime for what it is: Fascist in every dimension.

To conclude, the protest organizers kept people together and marched back to the dorms – speaking to students in their windows and then briefly summing up together.  Students shared what it meant to have gone to their first protest and why they decided to change what they were doing, how empowering this was and how they had changed through this. A Latina student mentioned that she was learning a lot in her sociology class about the history of Black people and their fight for civil rights and it was inspiring her to stand up and fight herself.  She said, “I was getting angry, but it was the good kind of anger, the anger that makes you want to get up and do something!”  A UCLA student who'd been on the Santa Monica pier during the fascist attack with bear spray talked about having to overcome the fear of another potential violent assault at this protest.  She talked about recognizing that there won't be a savior and that it is on us to act to stop this nightmare, even if it means risking our personal safety.  The discussion turned from how we’ve changed ourselves to how we change others.  In wrangling with how to do this, concrete plans were made on how to speak in classes, get posters everywhere and set up car pools for the protest on Saturday, November 16: the fifth Saturday that has been the launch of the #OutNow movement.

An important element throughout the day was the challenge that kept getting posed to those who were not there, including with the chant: “Don’t tell us it can’t happen here. Don’t tell us wait another year. Trump/Pence #OutNow!”   News of the protest was carried on every local TV station and beyond – an important step to getting the word out that now has to be built on to bring many more people into the street on November 16th and the weeks ahead.

Protesting Donald Trump, Jr. at UCLA November 10, 2019


Photo: NoBS Media


Photo: Twitter/@bposton


Bo Login, Iraqi War Vet. Photo: NoBS Media

Click here to read the Refuse Fascism Call

Nick Fuentes, leading the “America First” movement is a Holocaust denier, white supremacist, anti-LGBT Nazi organizing a fascist youth movement who see themselves as the true fighters for Trump's MAGA agenda:

“Who runs the media? Globalists. Time to kill the globalists. I don't want to not watch CNN. I don't want CNN to go out of business. I don't want CNN to be more honest. I want people that run CNN to be arrested and deported or hanged because this is deliberate. This is not an accident. It's not, 'Oh, you know journalists have a liberal bias because they're educated, and educated people tend to be' — none of that. It is malicious intent. There is a design, there is an agenda here.”

Fuentes said the manifesto from the El Paso shooter, who killed 22 people mainly Mexican or of Mexican descent, wrote a “convenient manifesto for the powers that be.”  Who are those “powers that be” who would benefit from such a thing?  Those united in having “a problem with white people” and “bringing the systematic destruction of Western civilization and the people that created and perpetuate Western civilization, which is white people.”

“The First Amendment was not written for Muslims, by the way. It wasn't written for a barbaric ideology that wanted to come over and kill us...  And it also was intended for citizens, not for immigrants...”

 

 

Follow: @TheRevcoms
Read: www.revcom.us
Watch: youtube.com/TheRevComs

 

Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all who participated in our successful May Fund Drive for Revcom.us and The RNL Show!
Especially right now, funds are urgently needed to spread BA's work and leadership and the movement for an actual revolution.
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/621/celebration-and-report-back-from-the-slave-rebellion-reenactment-en.html

From Revolution Club, Chicago:

Celebration and Report Back From
The Slave Rebellion Reenactment
Sunday November 17, 3pm to 6pm
Revolution Club Chicago Organizing Center
1857 E. 71st Street

| revcom.us

 

Fundraiser for the National Revolution Tour

On November 8 and 9, an historic work of art came to life in Louisiana, creating something new and inspiring that has disturbed the air with more reverberations yet to come.

Slave Rebellion Reenactment involved hundreds of people bringing into the present the largest slave revolt in U.S. history, that happened in Louisiana in 1811. Hundreds of Black people carrying machetes and other weapons, marched 26 miles over two days on the route the rebelling slaves marched, now a modern landscape. They chanted “On to New Orleans! Freedom or death! We’re going to end slavery. Join us!” People came out to witness and take part.

This artwork was conceived and led by artist Dread Scott, who said it is not about slavery, but about freedom and emancipation. He reimagined the outcome of the rebellion, with the slaves victorious and ending in a celebration in Congo Square in New Orleans. The question “What if” that rebellion had actually been successful – and the questions that opens up about the present and future – are part of the light this incredible artwork shines.

Four members of Revolution Club, Chicago drove to Louisiana to take part in this work. They were part of the collective effort with people from all over who together changed something and in the process changed each other and themselves. Come hear from them, break bread, and share in the experience.

This celebration and report-back will include dinner and will be a fundraiser for the National Get Organized For An ACTUAL Revolution Tour: “You Think You’re Woke...  But You’re Sleepwalking Through a Nightmare, This System Cannot Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown.” The tour has been traveling around the country since March, working to develop a growing movement for actual revolution for the emancipation of humanity, to organize thousands and put on the map the leadership and science to make this revolution, Bob Avakian and the new communism he has developed. This has required tens of thousands of dollars donated in large and small donations and by people who have stepped up to give monthly contributions, and much more is needed in order to continue and grow the tour. Volunteers on the tour have needed to travel all over the country, and have basic needs met (like eating food!) while they are working full-time on this. Money is also needed for materials like flyers and banners, etc. Currently the tour is in New York, but just in the last weekend, in addition to being part of this trip to Louisiana, members of the tour traveled to Washington D.C. and Atlanta, working to have an impact on the whole political situation in this country, throwing all-in with fierce determination and science to the fight to bring forward mass sustained non-violent protest to drive out the fascist Trump/Pence regime.

Requested donations are $10, but nobody will be turned away for lack of funds, and those who can donate more are encouraged to give more to make up for those who can’t give as much. Contributions to the dinner of main dishes, desserts, or side dishes are welcome. Please call 312.804.9121 to coordinate if you would like to contribute food for the dinner.


Revolution Club, Chicago—Joining the #SlaveRebellionReenactment in Louisiana!

Donate to the
National Revolution Tour

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

You can also make this a monthly donation


To Sustain and Donate by Mail:

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

Make checks payable to
"RCP Publications"
and mark them
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Click here to learn more about the Tour and follow its progress.

NOW IS THE TIME to
TAKE to the STREETS to DEMAND:

TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW!

Saturday, November 16

Read more

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/621/refuse-fascism-facebook-censored-our-ad-we-need-you-en.html

From RefuseFascism.org:

Facebook Censored Our Ad! We Need YOU

| revcom.us

 

Public hearings to impeach Trump began this week. Trump and Pence have ordered the Republicans to obstruct the hearings. Yet, the Democratic leadership has all but conceded that Trump will not be removed by the Senate.

What can change all of this? WE CAN – the power of the people taking to the streets in sustained non-violent protest raising one simple and unifying demand: Trump/Pence #OUTNOW! and then, continuing week after week growing in numbers and determination until this demand is met.

This is our message to you – and it is the message in our new ad. Join us in the streets in protests around the country to demand: The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go NOW! #OUTNOW!

But FACEBOOK CENSORED OUR AD!

Facebook told us: “This ad isn't running because it uses profanity, implied profanity, or insulting language.” (See ad in the sidebar.)

But the only obscenity here is Facebook's censorship!

Seriously, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently testified in Congress that he will allow politicians to put out ads on Facebook filled with outright lies.

Yet, Facebook is censoring our truthful ad aimed at letting people know about the non-violent political protests we are planning to STOP a fascist America.

This must not stand!

Join us in defying this censorship – and in defying the fascist regime in the White House. Here are three things to do right now:

[1] Come out Saturday and bring everyone you can! Find your protest here and below. Gather your friends, your school, place of worship, community, organization, and come out this Saturday. Spread the word.

[2] Watch and spread our censored ad on all your social media platforms.

Click HERE to spread it on Facebook
Click HERE to spread on Instagram
Click HERE to spread it on Twitter

[3] Donate $10 - $25 today to help overcome the censorship and get the word out far and wide. 

Together we can show people in this country and the world that we will not adjust to the injustice and crimes of Trump and Pence. We will protest again and again until this regime is gone.

There’s still a chance to stop a regime that imperils humanity and the planet, let’s stand together with conviction and courage overcoming fear and uncertainty, to struggle with all we’ve got to demand: TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW!

Saturday November 16 #OutNOW Protests:

Atlanta: 2:00 pm Piedmont Park 10th Street near Monroe Dr. Facebook event
Boston: 2:00 pm Copley Square, Dartmouth & Boylston Facebook event
Chicago: 1:00 pm Millennium Park Michigan & Randolph Facebook event
Cleveland: 11:00am Feeder March: Assemble South West corner of W. 65th and Detroit
1:00pm Rally at Market Square, West 25th & Lorain (across from West-side Market)
2:00pm March to the Rapid Stop, protest on the Rapid to Public Square Facebook event
Detroit: 3:00 PM, Grand Circus Park, Detroit Facebook event
Honolulu: 4:30 pm Ala Moana Park, Atkinson/Ala Moana Intersection Facebook event
Houston: 3:00 pm Galleria, Westheimer & Post Oak Road Facebook event
Indianapolis: 11:00 am Hudnut Commons South Capitol Avenue Facebook event
Los Angeles: 2:00 pm MacArthur Park, 7th and Alvarado @ Metro Facebook event
New York City:  1:00 pm Union Square @14th Street Facebook event
2:00 pm Harlem State Office Building 125th & Adam Clayton Powell Facebook event
Philadelphia: 2:00 pm Rittenhouse Square Facebook event
San Francisco:  1:00 pm Castro and Market Facebook event
Santa Ana CA: 1:00 pm 4th Street & Spurgeon, Santa Ana CA Facebook event
Seattle: 2:00 pm Corner of Broadway and Pine, Capitol Hill Facebook event
Washington DC: 2:00 pm Farragut Square; March to White House

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