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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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Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

Making History Is NOT A Spectator Sport...
You Are Needed To Help Drive Out A Fascist Regime

Mass Meetings on Driving the Trump-Pence Regime #OUTNOW!

Sunday November 24

| revcom.us

 

This call was issued at #OUTNOW protests across the country on November 16

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 AND IN POWER.

If you are anguished by what the Trump/Pence regime has already done and filled with dread for the future, will you bury your hopes and conscience? Or, will you come out and make a real difference? NOW IS THE TIME.

THERE IS A WAY TO REMOVE THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME

Televised hearings to impeach Trump have begun. Sharp political lines are drawn with high stakes. 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 all across the country growing in numbers and determination until this demand is met.

Such a vision cannot materialize without organization. RefuseFascism.org has shouldered this so far, building demonstrations over the past five weeks around the demand Trump-Pence Regime #OUTNOW! But time is short and these demonstrations have to grow by leaps and bounds. The organization to do that does not materialize on its own – but with the participation of you and many hundreds like you. Together we can rise to what this painful, urgent moment demands of us all.

Join us at these mass meetings, Sunday November 24, to develop the plans to drive out this regime. Your ideas are urgently needed – as is your active participation. If you are already in fighting against the regime or one of its many outrageous crimes, if you are involved with a candidate but also see the importance of mass protest now – then please bring your organization's views and thinking into this meeting and/or set up a time for Refuse Fascism to talk with your group.

See you on Sunday, November 24 to plan the next steps.

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!

RefuseFascism.org
Social media: @refusefascism
Phone: 917-407-1286

 

RefuseFascism.org is a movement of people coming from diverse perspectives, united in our recognition that the Trump/Pence Regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity and the planet, and that it is our responsibility to drive them from power through non-violent protests that grow every day until our demand is met. This means working and organizing with all our creativity and determination to bring thousands, eventually millions of people into the streets of cities and towns, to demand:

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

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

Now More Than Ever!

See excerpts and the Q&A of this film

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/622/the-fascist-trump-pence-regime-hell-bent-on-plundering-and-destroying-the-planet-en.html

The Fascist Trump/Pence Regime: Climate Science Deniers and Christian Fascists Hell-bent on Plundering and Destroying the Planet

Updated | revcom.us

 

 

AVAILABLE AS PDF FOR PRINTING IN PAMPHLET FORM:

 

With this fascist regime, every force that seeks to despoil, poison, and destroy nature is unleashed, science is denied and suppressed, and ignorance and backwardness are proudly trumpeted. In the face of what is already a catastrophic and potentially existential environmental emergency, this fascist regime is putting their foot on the gas pedal.

As the planet plunges toward ecocide, Trump is clamping down and censoring scientists who speak the truth, their departments shut down and/or their ability to influence things eliminated. While science points to the need to stop pumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, Trump proclaims his love affair with coal and does everything possible to promote fossil fuels, the primary source of greenhouse gases, all the while ignorantly mocking the science, reality and effects of global warming. As a signature move, he is withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accords. Restrictions on pesticides and other dangerous chemicals were completely inadequate in the first place: now they are going, going, gone. Air, water, soil, and the oceans are all fair game for any and all efforts to capitalize off of nature—for profit and plunder.

And this is all being done with a savage and gleeful passion on the part of those leading the assault—from the science-denying Christian fascists who assert God-given dominion over “Nature” to the capitalists given free rein to extract the greatest profit from its plunder, consequences be damned.

The destruction of the environment did not begin with the Trump/Pence regime, the latest rulers and overseers in the U.S. of the worldwide system of capitalism-imperialism. This system is driven to exploit the environment with little regard for the consequences, driven by competing blocs of capital to “expand or die,” including nation-states of today. This is why whatever efforts there are to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted worldwide by the functioning of this system, historically powered by fossil fuels, are nowhere close to meeting even the modest goals of the Paris accord. Only an actual revolution to get rid of this system gives humanity a real chance to save the planet—go here for more.

With all of the destruction of the environment already underway, as this list shows, what the Trump/Pence regime is unleashing is accelerating this to possibly irreversible extremes, with horrific consequences for humanity. And for any possibility of a radically different and far better world, this fascist regime needs to be driven #OutNow through mass sustained nonviolent mobilization of millions of people. Go here for more on the #OutNow movement.

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

On this page:

  1. Denying and Suppressing the Science of Climate Change
  2. Expanding Greenhouse Gas Emissions
  3. Befouling the Air and Water
  4. Attacking National Monuments and Public Lands
  5. Reversing Protections for Endangered Species
  6. Trump's Environmental Advisers: A Rogue's Gallery of Climate Deniers, Fossil Fuel Advocates, and Crooks

I. Denying and Suppressing the Science of Climate Change

From the Mouth of a Fascist Ignoramus-in-Chief

Trump has repeatedly made completely ignorant statements and tweets calling climate change a hoax and a plot by the Chinese, saying that a cold spell disproves the science of climate change (when each of the last five years have been one of the top five hottest). His claims are backed up not with any facts but by saying that recognizing climate change would hurt the U.S. economically. Here are some selected quotes:

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” (2012)

“Wow, it’s snowing in Israel and on the pyramids in Egypt. Are we still wasting billions on the global warming con? MAKE U.S. COMPETITIVE!” (2013)

“Ice storm rolls from Texas to Tennessee—I’m in Los Angeles and it’s freezing. Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!” (2013)

“I’m not a believer in man-made global warming. It could be warming, and it’s going to start to cool at some point. And you know, in the early, in the 1920s, people talked about global cooling... They thought the Earth was cooling. Now, it’s global warming... But the problem we have, and if you look at our energy costs, and all of the things that we’re doing to solve a problem that I don’t think in any major fashion exists.” (2015)

“I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive.... I’m not going to lose that wealth, I’m not going to lose it on dreams, on windmills, which frankly aren’t working too well.” (2019)

This September, as millions of youth and others joined a climate change strike to demand that action be taken to save the planet NOW, 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg spoke at the UN and delivered a blistering denunciation of world leaders. Trump then gave a green light for a barrage of sickening reactionary attacks on Thunberg that spread through the internet when he tweeted mockingly: “She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” (2019)

Denying Global Warming as Part of a Christian Fascist Agenda

A critical part of the regime’s fascist base are Christian fascists with a fanatical disdain for the truth and science and a belief that the United States is chosen by god—and they have a god-given right to dominate and ravage nature for human ends.

Many past and present officials such as former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are part of the regime’s Christian fascist core and draw on a literal interpretation of the Bible to justify and promote the destruction of the planet. For example:

Pruitt said on the Christian Broadcast Network, “The biblical world view with respect to these issues is that we have a responsibility to manage and cultivate, harvest the natural resources that we’ve been blessed with to truly bless our fellow mankind.” This is based on a literal interpretation of the Bible (Genesis 1:28) that holds that God gave mankind dominion over the Earth rather than the need to live in harmony with the natural world.1

They argue that we don’t need to worry or do anything about catastrophic changes brought by global warming because we are living in the “end times.” According to a poll by the Yale Center on Climate Change Communication, this is believed by 11 percent of the people in the U.S.2

Fox Radio contributor and Trump adviser Robert Jeffress said that climate change activist Greta Thunberg needs to stop worrying about the “imaginary” climate change crisis and just read the Bible. According to Jeffress, climate change is nothing to worry about because God already promised not to destroy the world again with rising sea levels after the Great Flood.3

Censoring Federal Websites

A quarter of all references to climate change have been removed from federal government websites since Trump took office, according to research by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI).4 For example, OSHA removed references to the impact of climate change from its page on heat-related illnesses, the U.S. Forest Service removed references to climate change from its webpage about wilderness areas. EPA staff have been prevented from updating an agency website, “Climate Change Indicators in the United States.” The Silencing Science Tracker, a joint initiative of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, cites 93 instances of government censorship related to climate change since Trump became president.

Cutting NASA’s Climate Monitoring Program

In May 2018, Science magazine reported that the Trump administration has ended NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-per-year program to improve the monitoring of global carbon emissions. CMS plays a key role in tracking greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.5

Dismissing Science Advisers

In early 2017, the EPA dismissed several members of the Board of Scientific Counselors, an 18-member advisory group that reviews the research of EPA scientists. An EPA spokesperson said the agency wanted to replace “academic scientists” with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency regulates.6 At the same time, the Interior Department announced freezing the work of more than 200 other advisory boards.7

Slashing Research

In its fiscal year 2019 budget, the Trump administration has proposed sweeping rollbacks to U.S. programs designed to study and mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as cuts to research on renewable energy. While not all parts of the president’s budget cuts make it into the final version, it paints a clear picture of the extremes to which the regime is willing to go.8

Eliminating Climate Change Research Programs.

The Trump/Pence regime has reduced or eliminated research on climate change, including:

  • Eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency’s Report on the Environment, and cutting the agency’s Human Health Risk Assessment program by nearly 40 percent.
  • Cutting several NASA Earth-science missions, including PACE (which collects data to better understand how the ocean and atmosphere exchange carbon dioxide); the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3); and DSCOVR, the Deep Space Climate Observatory, which measure the planet’s energy budget.
  • Eliminating the U.S. State Department’s Global Climate Change Initiative, which aims to help other countries better weather the impacts of climate change.
  • Imposing a 55 percent cut in spending on the Department of Energy’s applied research and development programs. At the same time, the budget calls for increases in spending related to fossil fuels.

Revoking Flood Standards for Sea-Level Rise

Trump signed an executive order revoking federal flood-risk standards that incorporated rising sea levels predicted by climate science. A recent Union of Concerned Scientists report found that chronic flooding—a flood roughly every two weeks—will come to affect more than 170 U.S. coastal communities in less than 20 years and some 670 communities by 2100.9

FOOTNOTES:

1. “Unraveling the ‘Weaponization’ of the EPA Is Top Priority for Scott Pruitt,” CBN News, February 26, 2018 [back]

2. “Global Warming, God, and the ‘End Times,’” climatecommunications.yale.edu, March 2016 [back]

3. “RWW News: Robert Jeffress Says Climate Change Is an ‘Imaginary Crisis’ That God Won’t Let Happen,” posted at YouTube, September 24, 2019 [back]

4. “Trump administration removes quarter of all climate change references from government websites,” Independent, July 25, 2019 [back]

5. “Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts,” Science, May 9, 2018 [back]

6. “E.P.A. Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board,” New York Times, May 7, 2017 [back]

7. “EPA dismisses half of key board’s scientific advisers; Interior suspends more than 200 advisory panels,” Washington Post, May 8, 2017 [back]

8. “A running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy,” National Geographic, May 3, 2019 [back]

9. “A running list of how President Trump is changing environmental policy” [back]

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Coastal flooding, due in part to rising sea levels driven by global warming, is already having devastating consequences, especially in Asia and the Pacific. Jakarta, Indonesia, 2017. Photo: AP


Rising temperatures are turning increasing areas of fertile land into desert. South Africa, 2017. Photo: BBC

Climate scientist Irina Overeem, who placed a meltwater monitoring station in western Greenland eight years ago, recorded a dramatic video of water rushing off the melting ice sheet.

“The ‘Unholy Alliance’ Between Trump and Fundamentalist Christian Fascists”

 

Bob Avakian, "Not fit caretakers of the earth"

II. Expanding Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Trump Is Withdrawing the U.S. from Paris Climate Agreement

On June 1, 2017, Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. On November 4, 2019, which is the soonest, under the terms of the agreement, that the U.S. could do so, he became the first world leader to give a formal notice of intention to withdraw, which takes 12 months to take effect. The Paris Agreement was never what was needed to prevent a climate catastrophe. Since it went into effect, more and more greenhouse gases have been emitted every year, and not a single large industrialized country has come close to meeting its own inadequate goals.

Trump’s opposition to the Paris Agreement is a refusal to do anything at all to address climate change that might touch U.S. financial or strategic interests. Trump’s justification did not mention the science of climate or any of the apocalyptic projections from even the U.S.’s own scientists. His reasoning: “The Paris accord will undermine [the U.S.] economy,” and “puts [the U.S.] at a permanent disadvantage.”10

The U.S. is leading a bloc of other countries to openly deny any need to even pretend to have concerns about the environment, such as Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro.

As the Earth warms year after year, with the effects of climate change causing massive suffering, and with scientists issuing urgent warnings of the horrors ahead, the Trump administration has gone all-out to repeal any rule or regulation that limits emissions that are responsible for climate change. A report from the Environmental Impact Center at New York University School of Law called the Trump policies “a virtual surrender to climate change.”11

Trump—who made “Drill, Baby, Drill” an unofficial campaign slogan—is focusing on overturning regulations concerning coal, automobiles, oil and gas, and landfills. He has also expanded fossil fuel use through mining, drilling, and fracking. While many of these changes are currently in the courts or the regulatory process, they paint a horrific picture of the direction of the Trump/Pence regime.

The Myth of “Beautiful, Clean Coal”

In his 2018 State of the Union Address, Trump said, “We endured floods and fires and storms,” but never spoke to a major cause of these disasters: climate change. Instead, Trump said, “We have ended the war on American Energy and we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.” “Clean coal” is a lie. Coal is NOT clean. Coal plants pump out inordinate amounts of CO2—1,207 million metric tons in 2017—far more than any other source of electricity. There are some methods that power plants can use to decrease emissions but the costs are prohibitive and much higher than renewable forms of energy such as wind and solar. Only two coal power plants in the world use the technique, and it makes up less than 0.1 percent of American coal-fired capacity.12

Overturning the Clean Power Plan (in process)

The Trump administration lifted restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal power plants that had been put in place under the Obama administration. The Obama plan called for a 30 percent reduction in coal plant emissions by 2030 (while scientists and others who oppose climate change call for the elimination of fossil fuels by then, if not earlier). Trump’s plan, called the “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, would only require a 0.7 percent to 1.5 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from coal plants by 2030.13 It is estimated that this change alone may result in an additional 1,400 deaths per year.14

EPA Repeals Methane Rules (in process)

In 2019, the Trump EPA announced that it would no longer enforce requirements on oil and gas companies to monitor and reduce releases of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from wells and other operations. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that is up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping greenhouse gases over a 20-year timeframe. VOCs are gases that are emitted into the air that cause cancer or pose other health risks.

These changes are predicted to cause an additional 380,000 tons of methane emissions, 100,000 tons of VOCs, and 3,800 tons of other hazardous air pollutants between 2019 and 2025. It is estimated that this will result in 1,970 premature deaths, 39,000 individuals with upper and lower respiratory symptoms, 3,600 emergency room visits, and 1.1 million asthma attacks in 2025.15

Elimination of Automobile Fuel Economy Standards (in process)

In 2012, the government and automakers agreed to increase fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks to an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The EPA and the Department of Transportation under Trump want to freeze emission requirements where they are today and block California from setting its own, more stringent, standards. This would dump an additional 16 to 37 million metric tons of harmful carbon pollution into our atmosphere. The Trump administration’s own analysis shows that this would cause 25 million Americans to have more asthma attacks, lost work days, hospital visits, and suffer more premature deaths.16

Approval of the Dakota Access (completed) and Keystone XL Pipelines (in progress)

The 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline stretches from the oil fields of western North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa, ultimately linking to other pipelines in Illinois. In 2016, thousands of protesters joined with indigenous people to challenge the pipeline. They faced off against pepper spray, dogs, and bulldozers, forcing the government to back down temporarily. On January 24, 2017, just days after becoming president, Trump signed a memorandum to advance the construction of the pipeline (and the Keystone XL pipeline running from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico) without the environmental review that Trump described as an “incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process.” The Dakota Access Pipeline became officially operational in June 2017. Today, 570,000 barrels of oil flow through it every day.

FOOTNOTES:

10. “Paris Agreement on climate change: US withdraws as Trump calls it ‘unfair,’” Fox News [back]

11. “Climate & Health Showdown in the Courts,” law.nyu.edu, March 2019 [back]

12. “Clearing Up the Facts Behind Trump’s ‘Clean Coal’ Catchphrase,” factcheck.org, November 9, 2018 [back]

13. “Trump’s EPA just replaced Obama’s signature climate policy with a much weaker rule,” Vox, June 19, 2019 [back]

14. “Cost of New E.P.A. Coal Rules: Up to 1,400 More Deaths a Year,” New York Times, August 21, 2019 [back]

15. “Climate & Health Showdown in the Courts” [back]

16. “Climate & Health Showdown in the Courts” [back]

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Arctic Drilling Platform at a site 60 miles west of Deadhorse, Alaska. Photo: Department of Energy Photo


The route of the Dakota Access Pipeline

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

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:29

III. Befouling the Air and Water

EPA Criminal Enforcements at 30-year Low

The Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal prosecutions under Trump are the lowest they’ve been in 30 years, just 27 percent of the number of prosecutions under previous administrations. Without the ability to refer and prosecute organizations damaging the environment, the EPA loses any authority and becomes ineffective.17

Trump Proposes EPA Budget Cuts

For the third year in a row, Trump has proposed massive cuts in the EPA’s budget. For 2019-2020, Trump is proposing a 31 percent cut. In previous years most of these cuts have not made it into the final budget. However, they show where the Trump/Pence regime is headed. Among the programs facing major cuts in funding are:

  • The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which would restore wetlands and improve water quality in the Great Lakes region;
  • The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant program, which provides money to retrofit or replace diesel-powered vehicles with cleaner models;
  • Chemical safety and sustainability research spending; and
  • The Atmospheric Protection Program, the EPA’s mandatory greenhouse gas reporting program.18

In addition, the Department of Energy will face a 23 percent cut to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy along with a 12 percent increase for the Office of Fossil Energy Research & Development.

Eliminating EPA’s Air Pollution Review Panel

In October 2018, the EPA disbanded its 20-person Particulate Matter Review Panel, made up of experts in microscopic airborne pollutants known to cause respiratory disease, and responsible for helping the agency decide what levels of pollutants are safe to breathe. After the EPA action, Gretchen Goldman, research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, “We’re seeing E.P.A. trying to cut science out of the process.”19

Dumping Toxic Waste from Mining into Streams

Coal plants have a long history of dumping toxic water laced with mercury, arsenic, and other dangerous pollutants into U.S. waterways. Thousands of miles of rivers and streams have been contaminated. Coal facilities are the largest industrial source of toxic wastewater pollution in the country.

The EPA issued a rule in 2015, called the Waters of the America Rule, to halt some of these discharges. It estimated that the new standards would eliminate the release of 1.4 billion pounds of toxic metals and other pollutants every year. Shortly after taking office, Trump and then-EPA head Scott Pruitt announced that the EPA would begin the process of overturning the 2015 regulation. In September 2019, the current EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, denounced even the attempt by the EPA to limit the dumping of the toxic waste in the waterways as “an egregious power-grab.”20

Cutting Studies on Health Hazards for People Living Near Mountain Top Coal Removal Sites

In 2017, Trump ordered that all work stop on a Department of the Interior-funded study conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The study had been launched at the request of two West Virginia agencies after more than two dozen scientific papers found increased risks of birth defects, cancer, and premature death among residents living near large-scale Appalachian surface coal mines.21

Refusing to Ban Chlorpyrifos

Chemical safety experts with the EPA had spent a decade studying the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is used on 40,000 farms. They found chlorpyrifos, even at low exposures, to be associated with brain damage in children and farm workers. Against the advice of the EPA’s own scientists and groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt refused to ban its use.22

FOOTNOTES:

17. “Criminal Enforcement Collapse at EPA,” Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility press release, January 14, 2019 [back]

18. “Trump’s 2020 Budget Would Slash Funding for EPA Programs,” Pacific Standard, March 11, 2019 [back]

19. “E.P.A. to Disband a Key Scientific Review Panel on Air Pollution,” New York Times, October 11, 2018 [back]

20. “Trump’s EPA Made It Easier for Coal Plants to Pollute Waterways,” Scientific American, September 24, 2018, and “Trump Administration Rolls Back Clean Water Protections,” New York Times, September 12, 2019 [back]

21. “Trump scrapped a health study of mountaintop mining. These Dems want to revive it,” McClatchy DC, April 8, 2019 [back]

22. “How Dow Chemical Influenced the EPA to Ignore the Scientific Evidence on Chlorpyrifos,” Union of Concerned Scientists, October 11, 2017 [back]

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The U.S. is more responsible than any other country for global warming. This coal-fired plant in Georgia is one of the country's top CO2 emitters, releasing 27.2 million tons in 2007 alone. Photo: AP


Iron hydroxide precipitate in a Missouri stream receiving acid drainage from surface coal mining.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

IV. Attacking National Monuments and Public Lands

The Trump administration is responsible for causing the largest reduction of protected public lands in U.S. history, according to a comprehensive study in the journal Science. According to the study, 99 percent of the rollbacks were associated with industrial-scale development projects, including oil and gas extraction. The Trump administration plans to downsize Bears Ears, Grand-Staircase Escalante, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and nine more land or marine national monuments. “[Protected lands] play such an important role in mitigating climate change, in serving as a protective habitat for animals and birds,” Rachel Golden Kroner, the lead author on the study, told CNN. And, she told the Grist, “Biodiversity and the web of life on Earth is in trouble. And it’s up to us to do something about it.”

Dismantling Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monuments

In 2017, after meeting with representatives from uranium mining companies, Trump reduced the amount of land in Bears Ears National Monument by 85 percent. In addition to beautiful and unique rock formations, Bears Ears contains important artifacts and sacred lands of indigenous peoples who have lived there for 13,000 years. The monument was created with the input of local tribes who have sued the government over the changes. The area is rich in uranium and Trump’s change would open the area to mining. Trump also recently created a “Nuclear Fuel Working Group” to expand U.S. uranium mining.

Of the 15 percent of Bears Ears that remains, the government has announced plans that include “chaining” potentially thousands of acres, which involves clearing forest with a waist-thick naval anchor chain dragged between tractors, or using an industrial chipper. It’s destructive for landscapes and archeological sites, and is often used to prepare land for commercial cattle grazing. They also plan to build new roads and string new power lines. There is nothing in the government’s plan about protecting the many cultural sites.23

At the same time, Trump reduced the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument in southern Utah by 51 percent. In August 2019, the Bureau of Land Management announced that hundreds of thousands of acres inside what used to be the monument will be opened to mining and drilling.24

Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

In September 2019, the Trump administration finalized plans to allow oil and gas drilling in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that has been protected for decades. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will offer leases on essentially the entire 1.6 million-acre coastal plain, which includes places where threatened polar bears have dens and porcupine caribou visit for calving. Drilling operations are expected to be problematic for indigenous populations, many of which rely on subsistence hunting and fishing.25

Dredging Protected Ecosystems

In November 2019, the Trump regime changed a 25-year-old policy to make it easier for coastal communities to take sand from protected ecosystems to improve their beaches. The shift makes it cheaper for some of the wealthiest communities in the country to replenish their beachfronts, which are increasingly under threat from more frequent and intense storms, rising seas, and other effects of climate change. Critics say that comes at the expense of vulnerable coastal ecosystems.26

FOOTNOTES:

23. “Trump Administration Releases New Plan for What’s Left of Bears Ears,” Earth Justice, July 26, 2019 [back]

24. “New Grand Staircase plans greenlight mining on lands Trump stripped from Utah monument,” Salt Lake Tribune, August 23, 2019 [back]

25. “Trump opens protected Alaskan Arctic refuge to oil drillers,” Guardian, September 12, 2019 [back]

26. Trump Administration Makes It Easier to Dredge Protected Areas to Restore Beaches,” New York Times, November 7, 2019 [back]

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Cliff Dwelling where people lived about 1,000 years ago in Bears Ears National Monument. The Trump/Pence regime is taking 85% of the monument out of protected status. Source: Bureau of Land Management


A natural rock formation in Bears Ears National Monument.

V. Reversing Protections for Endangered Species

According to a report by a United Nations scientific panel, “Around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of drivers of biodiversity loss. Without such action there will be a further acceleration in the global rate of species extinction, which is already at least tens to hundreds of times higher than it has averaged over the past 10 million years.”27

Ripping Apart the Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Department of the Interior has proposed removing what’s called the “blanket section 4(d) rule” from the Endangered Species Act. Repealing the rule would change how the government deals with species that are threatened but have not been declared “endangered.” Since the 1970s, the U.S. held that by default, threatened species should receive the full protections of the Endangered Species Act. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, 294 species listed as threatened by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are afforded protections only because of the blanket rule. The affected species include the northern spotted owl, the southern sea otter, the spotted seal, as well as eight species of coral and numerous plants.28

Harming Marine Mammals

As part of plans to open up 90 percent of U.S. federal offshore waters to the fossil fuel industry, the U.S. government authorized seismic surveys to identify oil deposits beneath the ocean floor. Seismic air guns used in these surveys are expected to injure, harass, disrupt, and even kill marine life like whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. The air guns create seismic blasts, create noise louder than a rocket launch, and are discharged at about 10-second intervals, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for months on end. Of particular concern is the survival of the North Atlantic right whale, which, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, could become extinct in 20 years.29

FOOTNOTES:

27. “Capitalism-imperialism is Strangling Life on the Planet,” revcom.us, May 13, 2019 [back]

28. “Trump Attacks Endangered Species Act,” Environment News Service, July 23, 2018 [back]

29. “Trump Regulators Gave Oil Industry a Pass to Injure Whales, and We’re Fighting Back,” Earth Justice, March 12, 2019 [back]

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The North Atlantic Right Whale, which could become extinct in 20 years.


The golden toad was last seen in 1989 in a Costa Rican cloud forest and has since been declared extinct. More than 40 percent of amphibian species are threatened by extinction.

The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters

In today's world, without the science of evolution there would be no science. Written for both the scientifically-minded as well as those who are not familiar with science at all, this book details the facts of the science of evolution.

Order the book here

VI. Trump's Environmental Advisers: A Rogue's Gallery of Climate Deniers, Fossil Fuel Advocates, and Crooks

Trump’s appointments to high-level posts reveal the extreme nature of his environmental agenda: that the economic and strategic interests of the U.S. trump any concerns about the environment or the planet’s future. Trump’s cabinet is a cabal of American chauvinists, white supremacists, climate-change-denying capitalists unleashed to ruthlessly exploit nature for profits, and Christian fascists who feel they have a God-given right to ravage and dominate nature.

Scott Pruitt (Environmental Protection Agency)

Trump’s first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, was put in place to dismantle and disarm the EPA. He had been a longtime adversary of the EPA and a close friend to the fossil fuels industry. As attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the EPA 14 times. Most prominently, he led a lawsuit by 28 states against the “Clean Power Plan,” an Obama administration initiative to place some limits on emissions from coal power plants.

In running for political office in Oklahoma, he accepted more than $250,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry. As attorney general, he had joined coal companies and others in filing multiple lawsuits to overturn the EPA’s standards to limit toxic air pollution.

Pruitt has a history of denying climate change. He sued to overturn an EPA finding that climate changing greenhouse gas emissions endanger public health and welfare, arguing against the overwhelming body of scientific evidence. In an op-ed in the National Review, Pruitt wrote that the debate on climate change is “far from settled.”30

Andrew Wheeler (EPA after Pruitt)

In 2018, Pruitt resigned amidst numerous scandals. He was replaced by Andrew Wheeler, an energy lobbyist. Wheeler’s clients included Murray Energy Corporation, which proudly bills itself as the largest coal mining company in America.

At the time of his appointment, Wheeler was vice president of the Washington Coal Club, a powerful federation of more than 300 coal producers, business leaders, and policy makers. Before becoming a coal industry lobbyist, Wheeler worked as a legislative aide to Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofe. Inhofe, the most virulent climate denier in Congress, regularly refers to the science of climate change as “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

Ryan Zinke (Department of the Interior until December 15, 2018)

The Department of the Interior is the government agency with oversight over the use of federal lands, including controversial pipeline and drilling projects. Zinke, as a Montana congressman, consistently voted in favor of oil and gas drilling projects on federal lands. He supported the Keystone XL pipeline, measures to remove protections of endangered species, and opposed legislation to regulate fracking. In 2014, Zinke said that the science of climate change “is not proven.”

Other Cabinet Members (with apologies to the destroyers of the planet who deserve to be listed here but are left out):

Mike Pompeo (originally head of the CIA and now Secretary of State): “There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.” Pompeo referred to the Paris agreement as a “radical climate change deal.”

Speaking in May 2019, Pompeo enthusiastically welcomed the melting of the ice in the Arctic, a process that is destroying the ecosystem there, and is causing rising ocean levels that threaten to inundate coastal regions. Pompeo said, “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.”31

Rick Perry (Secretary of Energy): Perry, who heads an agency that he had wanted to eliminate, has called climate science a “contrived phony mess” and attacked the vast majority of scientists who back it, saying “there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects.”

Vice President Mike Pence: “I don’t know that that is a resolved issue in science today...”

Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development): “There’s always going to be either cooling or warming going on.”

Sonny Perdue (Secretary of Agriculture): “Whether temperatures are unseasonably low or high, global warming is the culprit. Snowstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes have been around since the beginning of time, but now they want us to accept that all of it is the result of climate change.”

Elaine Chao (Secretary of Transportation): Chao is an international banker and is known as a big opponent of any regulations to protect the environment or in any way hurt the profits of U.S. business. She resigned from the board of the Bloomberg Foundation when it decided to give money to a project called Beyond Coal.

FOOTNOTES:

30. “Trump names Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general suing EPA on climate change, to head the EPA,” Washington Post, December 8, 2016 [back]

31. “Pompeo: Melting sea ice presents ‘new opportunities for trade,’” CNN, May 7, 2019 [back]

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“The direct line from the Confederacy to the fascists of today”

What Has Given Rise to the Situation in Which We Have a Fascist Regime Ruling the U.S.?

How Would a Revolutionary Socialist Society Address the Environmental Emergency?

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

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

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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

[back]

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.

[back]

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.

[back]

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.”

[back]

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.

[back]

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

[back]

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.

[back]

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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Trump/Pence Regime—Racing Towards Theocracy at an Accelerating Pace

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AVAILABLE AS PDF FOR PRINTING IN PAMPHLET FORM:

The Under-the-Radar Move to a Christian-Fascist Theocratic USA

In his 2017 speech The Problem, the Solution, and the Challenges Before Us, Bob Avakian analyzed the importance and nature of the “deal” that had been struck between Donald Trump and the Christian fascists. He said:

Trump, I think it’s fair to say, could not have won the election if the Christian Fascists ... not only if they had opposed him, but if they’d been unenthusiastic about him.... And ... even when the ... pussy-grabbing thing came out, they didn’t turn against him (...Jerry Falwell, Jr. and all these others)—because they recognized: “Here is somebody who is going outside of the whole rules and the way this is done in the ‘swamp of Washington,’ who will actually carry through on this stuff [like outlawing abortion and suppressing gay people].”... And Trump, for his part, recognized that if he didn’t get this force behind him, he was not going to be able to do it....

Pence is obviously a critical linchpin in this ... uniting of what’s represented by Trump ... and the Christian Fascists.... [T]he regular bourgeois institutions, ... like CNN, the Democratic Party and so on, ... they keep saying: “He can’t do that, that’s not the way things are done.” But then [Trump] does it, because he’s not playing by those rules. He’s not working within the norms as they’ve been. He is going directly up against them, precisely as an important part of what he’s doing.

The force of this alliance has been intensified by the current impeachment attempt launched by the Democrats and will likely grow even sharper, particularly if the regime is able to fully consolidate fascism as the outcome of this crisis. On October 11, Attorney General William Barr—who is supposed to be the highest law enforcement officer in the land and as such an impartial enforcer of the Constitution—trampled all over the constitutional separation of church and state in a speech. Barr said that “secularism”—that is, again, what is supposed by constitutional mandate to be the basic principle of governance in the U.S.—is the source of vast social problems, whereas “Judeo-Christian moral standards are ... God’s instruction manual in the best running of man and the best operation of human society.” (See “At Notre Dame, William Barr Lays Out A Christian Fascist Nightmare,” by Coco Das, from RefuseFascism.org.)

Yet this is still either outside the notice of, or being denied by, way too many people. The following chart gives a sense of how this has been playing out. It is likely that Trump will rely even more strongly on this section of society, with yet more moves toward outright theocracy (rule by religion), as the conflict intensifies.

 

Table of Contents

I.    Hard-Core Christian Fascists Have Been Given Control of Key Levers of Power

II.   Breaking Down the Separation of Church and State

III.   Applying “End-Times” Theology as a Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy

IV.   Building Up the Armed Forces for a Christian Holy War

V.    Attacks on Women’s Reproductive Rights

VI.   Attacks on LGBTQ People

VII.  Putin’s Russia as a “Model” for America’s Theocrats

VIII. Rallying the Christian Fundamentalist Base in the Face of the Impeachment Challenge

I. Hard-Core Christian Fascists Have Been Given Control of Key Levers of Power

Under the radar, Christian fascists have been consolidating power in key branches of government.

The Cabinet—The vice president and the heads of powerful departments of the government. At least eight of the 15 members are Christian fascists.

Vice President Mike Pence

Pence describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” As governor of Indiana he was known for his hostility to LGBTQ rights (even supporting barbaric “conversion therapy” at one point). Trump has joked that Pence “wants to hang them all”—“them” being gay people. Governor Pence was equally hostile to women’s reproductive and abortion rights. Gripped by the biblical view of women as “temptresses,” Pence won’t even be alone in a room with a woman other than his wife.

Pence also believes that the creation of the state of Israel was a “miracle,” the fulfillment of a millennia-old “prophecy,” that it showed “the hand of heaven” at work, and that for that reason, “President Trump stands without apology for Israel, and he always will.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Pompeo expressed his world-view in remarks to a church group in 2014: “The threat to America is from people who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer. They abhor Christians ... we pray and stand and fight and make sure we know that Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world.” At a “God and Country” rally in 2015, he declared that “To worship our lord and celebrate our nation at the same place is not only our right, it is our duty.” He quoted a fellow fanatic1: “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” And Pompeo went on: “We will continue to fight these battles...” because there is a “never-ending struggle” until “the rapture.” [For more on “the Rapture,” see “Applying ‘End-Times’ Theology as a Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy,” below]. Pompeo has also said that it was “possible” that Trump has been “raised” by God “to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace.”

Attorney General William Barr

The man overseeing law enforcement in the U.S. gave a major speech to Notre Dame law students on October 11, railing against laws and judicial decisions that do not “reflect traditional moral [i.e., biblical] norms,” specifying “the decision legalizing abortion” and laws that prohibit Christian bigots from discriminating against LGBTQ people.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

In a 2001 interview, after referring to battles between biblical Israel and enemy tribes, DeVos said that her goal was “to impact our culture in ways that are not the traditional funding-the-Christian-organization route, but that really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run by changing the way we approach things—in this case, the system of education in the country.” In the same interview, her husband Dick complained that the church has been “displaced by the public school” as the center of community, and said that “Our job is to figure out ... how to get the pig bones [i.e., non-Judeo-Christian ideas] out of our culture.” Toward that end, DeVos sees herself spearheading an “education revolution”—in the guise of “encouraging choice.” In February 2019 she pitched a five billion dollar “school choice” tax credit that would provide federal funds for parents to send their children to private (including Christian) schools. This is part of a program to further starve public schools of resources while building up religious schools as well as home schooling. It is a program for putting Christianity at the center of “education”—as it was in the Dark Ages!


"The 'Unholy Alliance' Between Trump and Fundamentalist Christian Fascists"

Watch the complete talk here.


The Federal Courts—Among other things, the federal courts decide which state and federal laws are constitutional and which should be overturned. The rights to birth control and abortion, the right of gay people to marry, the right of Black people to attend public schools with white people, all rest on decisions in the federal court system, and it is just as possible to sweep all of that away through court decisions.

The Supreme Court

Although the political situation in the U.S. is not yet such that someone who openly based his judicial decisions on biblical law and morality could be confirmed, Trump has openly made opposition to abortion a litmus test for his nominees to the Supreme Court. Both of Trump’s appointees (Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) are hostile to abortion rights. Gorsuch has also spoken against the courts being used to expand civil rights, specifically mentioning gay marriage. Kavanaugh has upheld legal theories that would also lead to banning contraception.2

Together with the three right-wing justices already on the Court (Alito, Roberts, and Thomas), they constitute a fascist majority that is now poised to gut or completely strip away abortion rights, which would almost certainly be an opening salvo in far more sweeping re-imposition of “Judeo-Christian morals.”

Lower Court Judges

As of September 19, 2019, 150 Trump nominees had been appointed to the federal courts—that is more than one in six of all federal judges. Overwhelmingly white and male, dozens of them have refused to say whether they support the 1954 decision (Brown v. Board of Education) that desegregated public schools. Lambda Legal (an LGBTQ rights organization) examined the records of all these judges and concluded that about one-third were overtly hostile to LGBTQ rights. One Trump appointee to the Court of Appeals—Judge John Bush—has equated abortion with slavery, strongly opposes same-sex marriage, and mocks climate change. Another—Amy Coney Barrett—belongs to “People of Praise,” a cult-like Christian group where women are told that husbands are heads of their wives and the authority in the family. Each female member is assigned an advisor who were long known as “handmaids” (but more recently changed to “women leaders”).

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II. Breaking Down the Separation of Church and State

While the U.S. is officially secular, it has always had a semi-official Christian identity, with “In God We Trust” on the dollar bill, presidents ending speeches with “God Bless the USA,” and so on. And conservative Christian preachers like Billy Graham always had a certain access to and influence on the government. But this has leapt to a whole other level under Trump and Pence, with a complex network of fundamentalist Christian preachers, teachers and “advisors” ensconced in the halls of power, and high government officials openly identifying as “Christian leaders” and advocates.

Christian Fundamentalists Pervading the Halls of Power

Capitol Ministries: Headed by Ralph Drollinger, Capitol Ministries organizes weekly Bible study classes for top administration officials, as well as for congresspeople, and at the state government level. Belief in the “Rapture” and the End-Times are part of their core beliefs. Their “Bible lesson” when Trump was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal was “The Bible on When War Is Justifiable”; this “lesson” also argued the obedience to the state is divine will: “Submit yourself for the Lord’s sake to every institution; whether to a king as the one in authority; or to governors as sent by Him...”! Drollinger has also called for Trump to set up a “benevolent dictatorship.”

At least seven cabinet-level officials, including Pence, Pompeo, and DeVos, are sponsors of Capitol Ministries.

The Evangelical Advisory Board: A somewhat loose group including many powerful Christian fascists.3 One member brags that the board “pays regular visits to the White House, which can start with policy briefings from West Wing staff and agency officials and end with impromptu visits to the Oval Office.” Policy matters are often discussed—Trump’s decision to bar transgender soldiers from the U.S. military grew out of such a discussion in July 2017, and some analysts have tracked a timeline linking these meetings and other Christian fascist policy moves. Some visits from evangelicals have involved “laying on of hands” on Trump, and in the words of one participant, “praying for our President—Supernatural Wisdom, Guidance and Protection—...wow—we are going to see another great spiritual awakening.”

Major Government Leaders at War With “Secularism”

Barr’s speech at Notre Dame: As noted in the section on “The Cabinet” above, Attorney General Barr—whose official role theoretically includes enforcing the separation of church and state—openly argued that only placing “Judeo-Christian morals” on center stage can save America from a secular hell on earth.

Mike Pompeo’s speech: On the same day as Barr’s Notre Dame speech, Pompeo spoke to the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) on “Being a Christian Leader,” the text of which was then posted at the top of the State Department’s website as if developing “Christian leaders” was part of the mission of the State Department. (AACC is a conservative Christian group that until recently supported “conversion therapy” for gay people, but now has to settle for “counseling” them to be “celibate.”)

Betsey DeVos’s Drive to Privatize and Christianize Education (see section I above) is another crucial aspect of breaking down the barriers between church and state.

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“The Christian Fascists Now In Power”

Watch the complete talk here.

III. Applying "End-Times" Theology as a Guide to U.S. Foreign Policy

Many or most of the Christian fascists in the Trump/Pence regime share with their Christian fascist “advisors” (see section II above) “End-Times” theology—the view that the “second coming of Christ” prophesized in the Bible is coming soon, and when that happens, all the “true” Christians will be “Raptured” up to heaven (everyone else is destined for Hell!), and from there will watch as Jesus Christ inflicts seven years of “Tribulation” on the remaining inhabitants, after which he will lead an epic battle with the “antichrist” and establish a 1,000-year Kingdom of God on Earth. (Note: “End-Timers” may disagree on the order in which these events will occur, but agree on the basic scenario.)

Believers in this lunacy welcome this, are looking forward to being “Raptured,” and in many cases believe that it is their responsibility to prepare the ground for and hasten these events (which, again, involve the total annihilation and eternal damnation of the vast majority of human beings!). Remember Mike Pompeo’s statement that “We will continue to fight these battles...” because there is a “never-ending struggle” until “the Rapture.”

This theology frames and helps shape administration policy on matters of enormous importance. Two examples:

The End-Times and Israel

Moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem: In May 2018, the Trump/Pence regime moved the U.S. embassy from the Israeli city of Tel Aviv (where almost all other countries have their embassies) to Jerusalem—a city considered holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Robert Jeffress, an End-Times fundamentalist mega-church preacher from Dallas (and member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board), delivered the opening prayer: “We thank you every day that you have given us a president who boldly stands on the right side of history, and more importantly on the right side of you, oh, God, when it comes to Israel.”

Jeffress was thanking “God” because these fanatics believe that the return of all the “biblical” land of Israel (including much or all of the modern countries of Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria) to Jewish control is a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ, and that the struggle in the Middle East is literally one between “God” and “Satan”! U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and opening the embassy there was a dramatic break with longstanding U.S. policy, and was opposed by most secular experts—including pro-Israel/pro-imperialist experts—as dooming any prospect of peace with the Palestinians and ushering in new violence and instability. But that was precisely the point—the move was symbolic of U.S. support for an aggressive and expansive Israel militarily dominating and seizing territory from the Arab peoples and countries in the region... clearing a path for the coming Rapture. As John Hagee, yet another Christian fascist preacher, put it in his closing blessing: “The Messiah will come and establish a Kingdom that will never end.”

The End-Times and Climate Change

The Trump/Pence regime is infamous for its wanton disregard for the planet we live on and its refusal to recognize, much less do anything about, the unfolding climate disaster: withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, stepping up oil drilling in the Arctic Sea as the ice caps melt, stripping away the pitiful regulations that once sought to mitigate capitalism’s rampant destruction of the environment. While this approach is mainly grounded in the workings of capitalism-imperialism and its economic and strategic interests, it also converges with and is reinforced by the Christian fascists and their theology.

Defending the Earth Is None of Humanity’s Business: One view among them is that even if there is climate change, it’s God’s will, so stay out of it. As Michigan Congressman Tim Wahlberg put it: “I’m confident that if there’s a problem [with climate change], he [i.e., “God”] will take care of it.” Ralph Drollinger (of Capitol Ministries) says that it is “hubristic” [arrogant] for humans to try to do anything about it, because “God remains omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent in the current affairs of mankind” and that “To allow fish to govern the construction of dams, endangered species to govern power plants, flies to govern hospitals, or kangaroo rats, homes, is to miss the clear proclamation of God in Genesis.” (Drollinger also warns that the tendency of environmentalists to have only one child “is akin to ethnic suicide”!) After Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez issued a call for action on climate change, then-Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Sean Hannity of Fox News that “I don’t think we’re going to listen to her on much of anything, particularly not on matters that we’re going to leave in the hands of a much, much higher authority...” [The fate of the earth is in] “... the hands of something and someone much more powerful than any of us.”

Welcoming the Devastation of the Environment: Other fundamentalists interpret climate change as another one of the signs of the Second Coming, which will be heralded by wars, famine, and so forth. As one former evangelical put it: “after these plagues, Jesus will return again. This time he will crash through the heavens on a white horse, drenched in the blood of his enemies and followed by the armies of his raptured and martyred saints. I not only believed this would happen, I was excited about it. I, like many evangelical Christians, longed for the day that Jesus would return.”

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IV. Building Up the Armed Forces for a Christian Holy War

The Christian fascists are going at this from two directions—on the one hand, working to “Christianize” the U.S. military, and on the other, developing private armies cohered around militant Christianity.

Christianizing the U.S. Military: Building Up a Fundamentalist Hard Core

Mass Conversions of Military Personnel into Christian Fundamentalism: The U.S. military is theoretically secular, and part of the official code of conduct even today is that officers “at all levels must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith.” The U.S. military has a system of chaplains who are part of the military but have mainly religious duties—but again, this has been presented as addressing the spiritual and moral needs of religious individuals, and not proselytizing or pushing any religious viewpoint.

But operating within this framework, the Christian fascists are moving effectively to build up a fundamentalist hard core. For instance, only 3% of members of the military belong to evangelical Christian churches, but between 33% and 75% of chaplains are evangelicals! (One reason for this is that the evangelical churches are aggressively recruiting people to be trained as military chaplains; Falwell’s Liberty University is even giving online degrees.)

And these evangelical chaplains are not just “ministering to people’s spiritual needs”—they are on a recruiting drive. Seizing on the vulnerability of young soldiers who are going through the military’s brutal basic training (the object of which is to “tear down” the old person and “rebuild” them as ruthless “warriors”), the fact that many are away from home for the first time in their lives, and so on, evangelical pastors are doing mass baptismsBaptist News brags about how just one chaplain baptized 519 soldiers into the evangelical church in one year at Fort Jackson, including 170 in a single day. This “accomplishment” was promoted by the base itself in an Instagram post from their Public Affairs office which said that “Soldiers of all faiths are welcome to be baptized.” In other words, if you come to Fort Jackson an atheist, a Buddhist, a Catholic, a Jew, a Hindu, a Muslim, or a non-evangelical Protestant, the military “welcomes” you to cast that aside and become an evangelical Christian.

And this is not just one chaplain—the Southern Baptists alone have a network of 3,700 chaplains, and the director of chaplain services in the church—who is also a retired army major general—says that “Southern Baptist military chaplains are seeing a spiritual awakening of historic proportions in the Armed Services with record numbers of professions of faith, baptism, chapel attendance and disciple-making programs.”

Christianizing the U.S. Military: Promoting Hatred of Islam

Fanatical anti-Islamic sentiment and a “holy war” mentality are being whipped up among both enlisted troops and higher ranks. For instance, in August 2019, the important Navy publication Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician recommended three books by virulent anti-Muslim writers. One of these authors, Brigitte Gabriel, spoke in 2007 at the Joint Forces Staff College; during the Q&A she argued that a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teaching of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America” and should not be allowed to run for political office.

She added that “What is worrisome about that is when we are faced with a war [note “when,” not “if”] and a Muslim political official in office” has to choose between serving the U.S. or serving the Islamic country the U.S. is at war with, inevitably “that Muslim in office will always have his loyalty to Islam.” In other words, Muslims are by definition traitors. And she went on to refer contemptuously to a Michigan city with a large Muslim population as “Dearbornistan.”

The U.S. Army War College also got in the act, inviting Raymond Ibrahim, the author of Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, to speak at the College’s prestigious 50th Annual Lecture Series. Ibrahim also wrote an article “Why Western Nations Should Accept Only Christian Refugees.”

Building Up Private Christian Armed Forces

Christian Militias: Christian fascism is also influential among some of the tens of thousands of heavily armed reactionary militia members organized in the U.S. For instance, the Hutaree militia consists of only Christian “soldiers” “who are arming themselves and training in anticipation of the coming of the Anti-Christ, which they believe is imminent.” They are part of the broader “Christian Patriot” branch of the militia movement.

Christian Mercenaries: Another area of influence is among mercenaries. Eric Prince is Betsy DeVos’s brother and is also a Christian fascist. A former Navy SEAL, he organized the notorious Blackwater, a private army of thousands of mercenaries with their own training base, which was deployed by the U.S. government in the occupation of Iraq and after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. After three of its soldiers were convicted of murdering civilians in Iraq, Prince left the company and it changed its name, but Prince now operates a mercenary company called Frontier Services Group (which apparently oversees another firm called Lancaster6), which has its own air force, including attack helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, and drones. Prince reportedly has been supplying mercenaries for Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen, and seeking a wider role serving the Trump/Pence regime. This is another powerful component of military forces potentially at the command of Christian fascism.

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V. Attacks on Women’s Reproductive Rights

A central part of the Christian fascist program is stripping women of all reproductive rights. This is not about “protecting fetal life”—it is about reducing women to incubators, fundamentally depriving them of control of their own lives, and in many cases, forcing them into situations of dependence on men, and opens the way to attacks on the right of divorce and other key elements of women’s ability to function as full human beings (which is even now highly constrained). At this point, the right to abortion is “hanging by a thread” (see below) as a result of the decades-long Christian fascist assault.

State Laws Against Abortion

As of March 20, 2019, state legislatures had introduced 304 laws restricting abortion. Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, and Missouri have each signed into law bills banning abortion as early as six weeks after conception, which is often before women even know they are pregnant. Eleven other states had similar bills in the works at that time. Alabama enacted a law that would ban virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, and make abortion punishable by up to 99 years in jail.

These laws are in clear violation of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and are not being put into effect. But they serve two functions for the Christian fascist assault—providing possible “test cases” that can go to the Supreme Court and be used to overturn Roe, and, once Roe is gone, these states will already have laws on the books to halt abortions.

Other state laws place extreme restrictions on clinics that perform abortions—such as requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals (even though it is extremely rare for abortions to require hospitalization, and when such emergencies occur, hospitals are obliged to admit patients regardless of the privileges of the doctor), or requiring hallways to be wide enough for hospital gurneys. The goal of these laws is to shut these clinics down without officially making abortion illegal, thus in practice denying women in those areas any access to abortion.

Attacks on clinics in Missouri have included the monitoring of the menstrual cycles of women who have had abortions at the Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, the only remaining clinic in the state that still provides abortions. The state health director admitted that the department created a spreadsheet to identify “failed abortions,” meaning patients who had to return to the clinic for an additional procedure. The spreadsheet did not identify women by name, but did include medical ID numbers, procedure dates, and the day of the patient’s last period. The state claims this was in order to supposedly find evidence of health problems resulting from abortions. But given the reality that abortion is a routine and safe medical procedure, the spreadsheet was clearly part of the attempt to shut down the clinic.

Missouri has also tried to impose a medically unnecessary pelvic exam on patients three days before their abortion. (This is in addition to the exam that is performed on the day of the procedure.) Clinic staff said that this unnecessary physical violation was tantamount to “rape”—yet another way to turn this simple and needed medical procedure into an impossible nightmare for women.

On October 4, 2019, the Supreme Court announced that it would rule on a highly restrictive law in Louisiana. The acting president of Planned Parenthood said that the implications of this could be enormous: “Access to abortion is hanging by a thread in this country, and this case is what could snap that thread.”

Federal Attacks on Reproductive Healthcare for Women

Defunding Planned Parenthood: Trump vowed to completely “defund” Planned Parenthood, and is well on his way to achieving this. Planned Parenthood is the leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider in the U.S., providing birth control, cancer screening, sex education, and other services for about 2.5 million patients annually. It already receives no federal funds for the abortions it provides, but does get federal funds through Medicaid and in other ways for family planning and other healthcare services. In May 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (headed by Alex Azar, yet another Christian fascist) issued new rules that would cut off all funding to any family planning service that referred patients for abortions. In August (after losing a court battle around this), Planned Parenthood announced it would no longer accept federal money for family planning so that it could continue to provide women with the full range of options to unwanted pregnancies.

[back]



Handmaid's Tale protest against Vice President Mike Pence, Philadelphia, July 24, 2019. Photo: AP

VI. Attacks on LGBTQ People

This is another key element of the Christian fascist program. This is not just about them being “uncomfortable” or “old fogeys.” The hammering of women into very strict gender roles—as bearers and rearers of children and as “helpmates” to men—with their lives organized around the home and the church—also demands that anyone who “deviates” from this strict definition of male and female roles must be demonized, criminalized, ostracized, and punished. Trump’s “joke” about Pence wanting to “hang” all the gay people is NO JOKE, and it is backed up by Bible scripture—revered by fundamentalists—that calls for death for homosexuals.

At the same time, the opening up of gay rights in the last few decades—including the fact that literally millions of LGBTQ people “came out of the closet” to their friends, family and co-workers—has created a situation where it is not now possible for the Christian fascists to fully and openly argue for gay people to be reviled or killed. But they are working on it! On the one hand, the Christian fundamentalists paint themselves as being victimized by the very existence of LGBTQ people, supposedly “flaunting” their “deviancy” in front of “good Christian men and women.” And on the other hand, the regime has—relatively quietly—stripped away existing government protections against discrimination and is now itself actively discriminating and fighting for the “right” of others to discriminate.

In that light, oppressive measures listed below take on even more ominous meaning as the beginning of potentially unimaginable crimes against LGBTQ people, if and as the Christian fascist program is allowed and able to be put in full effect.

2017

January: Two hours after the regime took power, all mentions of LGBTQ issues and people were scrubbed from the White House website.

February: The regime decided to stop fighting in the courts and in other realms to protect transgender students from discrimination.

March: The regime announced it would no longer insist that federally funded homeless shelters make clear that LGBTQ people had the right to safety and shelter.

July: The federal government filed a brief in federal court arguing that the 1964 Civil Rights Act did not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity—this was a major move toward legalizing discrimination against LGBTQ people.

July: Trump announced via Twitter that transgender people would not be able to serve in the U.S. military. (After much resistance, the policy was eventually implemented in April 2019.) While NO ONE should want to serve in the U.S. imperialist military, this ban was a dangerous public statement that transgender people are not full human beings.

SeptemberThe Trump administration filed a legal brief in the Supreme Court arguing that businesses had a constitutional right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

October: The Justice Department ruled that federal agencies, government contractors, government grantees, and even private businesses could engage in discrimination, as long as they can cite religious reasons for doing so. This was opening the door wide for all kinds of discrimination—including the growing practice of federally funded adoption agencies refusing to allow gay couples to adopt, shutting or driving gay youths out of homeless shelters; refusing to provide breast cancer screenings for transgender women, and on and on. And the broader effect is to marginalize and dehumanize LGBTQ people.

2018

February: The Department of Education announced that it would automatically dismiss any complaints from transgender students about being excluded from school facilities based on gender identification.

May: The Federal Bureau of Prisons announced a policy of (in almost all cases) housing transgender inmates according to their birth gender—in other words, transgender women will now be housed with men, raising the extreme danger of rape, assault or murder.

2019

July: The State Department issued new guidelines that the U.S. would no longer advocate for “human rights” if it did not believe these rights fit in the “natural law” views of social conservatives—clearly implying that LGBTQ rights would not be upheld.

SeptemberThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) canceled a plan to prohibit hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds from discriminating against LGBTQ patients.

November: Health and Human Services announced it would abandon civil rights rules for all recipients of HHS grants, which will allow discrimination against transgender people in HIV and STI prevention programs, opioid treatment centers, youth homeless services, and other life and death services.

Also in November, the Trump administration proposed a new rule that would allow faith-based foster care and adoption agencies (which are often the only such agencies in many areas) to continue to receive federal funds even if they discriminate against LGBTQ people.

[back]

VII. Putin's Russia as a "Model" for America's Theocrats

While the full and exact nature of the relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin—the authoritarian leader of capitalist-imperialist Russia—is unclear, one thing that is clear is that a significant section of the Christian fascist forces look with admiration to Putin's Russia.4

Putin Is Implementing Many of the Key Elements of a Christian Theocracy

(Much of the following is drawn from Americans United for Separation of Church and State, July 18, 2018, "To Russia With Love: Why the Religious Right is Rootin' for Putin")

LGBTQ rights are under attack in Russia. A 2013 law that bans dissemination of “gay propaganda” to minors is worded so vaguely as to criminalize almost any LGBTQ-rights advocacy, and is now used to squelch public gatherings of gay people and detain gay-rights activists. Savage hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community are soaring. Even health-related websites have been shut down. The mere act of displaying a rainbow flag can get you in trouble. The head of the Orthodox Church has said that same-sex couples are a “sign of the Apocalypse.”

Religion classes are mandatory in Russian public schoolsA 2012 law requires that Russian public schools teach a course called “Fundamentals of Religion” to elementary and secondary school students. (Courses are offered in four religions, but critics charge that many schools are steeped in Orthodoxy, the dominant religion in Russia). In addition, creationism is on the upswing—in 2010, an official with the Orthodox Church called for an end to the “monopoly of Darwinism” in Russian schools.

Women’s rights are in a steady retreatLast year, legislators in effect decriminalized many forms of domestic abuse. Starting in 2011, abortion rights have been under attack (including a law prohibiting doctors or clinics from advertising that they perform the procedure) and the government official in charge of “Family, Women and Children’s Affairs” was described by The Nation as viewing her "primary task" to be “to further restrict access to abortion and limit the availability of emergency contraception.” Orthodox Church officials are pressing for women to remain confined to “traditional” gender roles.

Putin is Spearheading a Return to "Traditional Values" and the Moral Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to The Nation, in September 2014, Putin presided over a meeting of journalists and academics and argued that “Europeans had strayed from their roots by legalizing gay marriage. He urged Russians to embrace the conservative values of the Orthodox Church and other traditional religions and issued a warning to those who might want to challenge those values. ... 'These are red lines that no one is allowed to cross.'”

America’s Christian Fascists Admire and See This as a Positive Model.

Given the program and ideology of Putin’s Russia, is it any wonder that many Christian fascist forces in the U.S. gravitate toward and praise that model?

The World Congress of Families (WCF), a U.S.-based Christian fascist organization, has developed close ties with the Orthodox Church. Its website states that its 2011 summit "helped pass the first Russian laws restricting abortion in modern history" and the website proclaims that “Russia, with its historic commitment to deep spirituality and morality, can be a hope for the natural family supporters from all over the world.”

The Family Research Council (FRC)—a more “mainstream” Christian fascist organization with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence—has a formal partnership with WCF. In 2018, the WCF held a conference in Moldova (formerly part of the Soviet Union) under the theme of “The Natural Family: Uniting East and West” (i.e., opposition to gay marriage unites the American and Russian Christian fascists). Peter Sprigg of the FRC spoke on “Gender Ideology—The Latest Attack on the Family and the Legal Challenges It Poses.”

Scott Lively, founder and president of Defend the Family International and of Abiding Truth Ministries in Illinois, conducted a 50-city speaking tour in Russia in 2007 in order to “bring a warning about the homosexual political movement which has done much damage in my country.”

Peter LaBarbera, president of “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality,” wrote that “Russians do not want to follow America’s reckless and decadent promotion of gender confusion, sexual perversion, and anti-biblical ideologies to youth.”

Pat Buchanan (former speechwriter for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and a leading theoretician of American fascism) wrote that Putin was “entering a claim that Moscow is the Godly City of today,” and “In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of Christianity.”

[back]

VIII. Rallying the Christian Fascist Troops in the Face of the Impeachment Challenge

As the struggle at the top levels of the U.S. ruling class intensifies through the impeachment process, the Trump/Pence regime is increasingly reaching out to and rallying the Christian fundamentalists, who constitute the hard core of the hard core of their social base. (81% of white Christian evangelical voters supported Trump in 2016). Although there was a bump in the road with Trump’s decision to abandon the U.S.’s Kurdish allies to a Turkish invasion bent on ethnic cleansing (which the Christian evangelicals opposed for various reasons), in the main this alliance has not only held but is hardening.

Trump Rallies the Evangelical Base

Trump’s speech to the Value Voters summit. 

This summit is a major annual event organized by the FRC.

Trump was the main event. After praying with James Dobson (head of the FRC), Trump posed the impeachment battle as a war against Christians and Christianity, telling the crowd: “They’re coming after me because I’m fighting for you. That’s a big part of it ... They don’t like you.” And he went on to say: “They’re trying to silence and punish the speech of Christians and religious believers of all faiths. They are trying to hound you from the workplace, expel you from the public square and weaken the American family and indoctrinate our children.”

Christian Fascist Leaders Rally to Trump.

Although at one point in the Syria crisis Christian fascist patriarch Pat Robertson did raise that Trump was “in danger of losing the Mandate of Heaven,” in the main key leaders have rallied to Trump.

Rev. Robert Jeffress, a leading Southern Baptist, raised the threat of civil war if Trump is impeached, saying on Fox & Friends on September 30 that “it will cause a civil war-like fracture in this nation from which this country will never heal.” Trump promptly re-tweeted this statement, and followed up by saying that “I am coming to the conclusion that what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a COUP,” aimed at further inflaming his base.

Ralph Reed, the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a major Christian fascist leader, announced on October 9 the publication of a new book, For God and Country: The Christian Case for Trump. (The original title had been Render to God and Trump, but apparently that was a little too out there.)

Family Research Council: Trump’s speech came on the heels of a day of speeches from other figures in the Christian fascist movement expressing support for Trump. Todd Stearnes, a prominent Christian broadcaster and author, denounced the attacks on Trump, saying, “We’ve got to take a stand. We cannot bow down. So, consider this your call to arms. Happy warriors, we are tasked with defending a noble cause and a noble faith.”

Franklin Graham: A leading evangelical who is notoriously anti-Muslim and anti-gay, Graham launched a major speaking tour through North Carolina in October, including speaking in Fayetteville, home to Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the U.S. While ostensibly a “nonpolitical” tour, Graham made a point of praying for Trump, asserting that Trump is doing a good job and that the Ukraine scandal is “a lot over nothing.” Meanwhile, his audience did not need to be explicitly directed to support Trump—one woman told the Los Angeles Times that “I do believe that we are, as Christians, the first line of defense for the president.” Another, asked about Jeffress’s “civil war” comment, said: “Could have a war... you just don’t know.”

[back]



Brave University of Virginia students stand up to the fascist mob in Charlottesville, VA, July 11, 2017. Photo: Twitter/@DailyProgress (Andrew Shurtleff/The Daily Progress)

Conclusion

This regime has been steadily laying the foundations and erecting the infrastructure of theocracy. Fanatical Christian fascists with a shared vision of a “Christian” America hold key levers of power in multiple spheres of society—in education, foreign affairs, the legal and judicial structure, in housing, and of course in the White House and the presidency. The courts are poised to overturn women’s reproductive rights, the humanity of LGBTQ people is under attack, the Christian fascist social base is increasingly whipped up and Christian fascist military capacity built up.

And as pressure on Trump from his ruling class opponents intensifies, he is hewing more closely to his Christian fascist core, and the Christian fascists are barely even bothering to conceal their theocratic aims—note the speeches by Barr and Pompeo, both on the same night, both proceeding from a theocratic viewpoint.

It is late, but it is not too late to take this on and defeat it—to drive this whole regime from power on the basis of a mass nonviolent resistance that stands up for the basic humanity of all people, and to do this as part of preparing the ground for a revolutionary transformation of this whole society that gave rise to and in so many ways nourishes this Christian fascist barbaric lunacy. But the other possibility—the full consolidation of this fascist regime and the imposition of a Dark Ages mentality fused with modern weapons, surveillance. and propaganda apparatus—looms ever closer.

There is no time to lose.


“Bob Avakian On Revolution And The Fight Against Fascism”


 

1. The Reverend Joe Wright, in the Opening Prayer to the Kansas House of Representatives, January 1996.  [back]

2. Both the Roe v. Wade decision recognizing the right to abortion, and the Griswold v. Connecticut decision recognizing the right to birth control, rest on a common foundation, the view that the U.S. Constitution recognizes a right to privacy with which the state should not interfere. Kavanaugh is on record as thinking that no such right exists in the Constitution and that judicial decisions based on this are thus erroneous.  [back]

3. Key members as of September 2017 include Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University; Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition; Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council; Gary Bauer, president of American Values; and Robert Jeffress and Richard Land, both prominent reactionary leaders in the Southern Baptist Church, the largest evangelical denomination—all of these are virulently anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights.  [back]

4. In 1917 Russia was the birthplace of the first communist revolution, giving rise to the Soviet Union and carrying out many radical and liberating social transformations, including in breaking with religion and other superstitions, and vastly expanding women's rights and their role in society. But by the mid-50s, capitalism had been restored, and in 1993, even the pretext of a socialist society was dropped, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the "new" Russia went into a profound economic and social crisis that lasted over a decade. In the wake of that, Putin took power and has been exercising and further consolidating a highly centralized, repressive and reactionary state... in close alliance with the Dark Ages apostles of the Russian Orthodox Church.  [back]

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Stephen Miller Is a NAZI, Not a So-Called “White Nationalist,” and the Fact That Millions Are Not in the Streets and Demanding His Ouster Shows How Late Is the Hour

| revcom.us

 

This week a former associate of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller revealed more than 900 racist emails written by Miller, the mastermind of the Trump immigration policy. In these emails, Miller complains bitterly about Confederate flags being taken down after a white supremacist murdered nine parishioners in a Black church. He promotes an article demanding that the government stop counting Latinos as victims of hate crimes and start counting them as perpetrators. He recommends articles from one website that argues that there are inferior races whose growth needs to be suppressed, and another that claims the “white race” is the victim of a “genocide” perpetrated by people of color and supposedly masterminded by Jews.

This pig promotes The Camp of the Saints—a 1973 novel that depicts Europe and the U.S. being literally overrun by vast hordes of sub-human immigrants, looting and raping as they go, who ultimately extinguish the white “race” and its “glorious” civilization. As we go to press, there has been little outcry, and the Trump regime is not only defending him, they are accusing those who even raise this as an issue of anti-Semitism, because Miller is Jewish.

First of all, whatever his religious beliefs, Miller is a NAZI. Those criticizing him merely for being a “white nationalist” are papering over the reality of his actual program, which at minimum is “ethnic cleansing” of non-European immigrants and has already sunk to the depths of over 80,000 immigrants being held in sub-human, concentration camp-like conditions (including tearing tens of thousands of children away from their families). People have to quit using this sanitized and made-up term, “white nationalist,” to describe bloodthirsty genociders.

Second, the fact that these emails have now come to light is not some kind of sudden revelation. They are totally consistent with Miller’s entire career. Yet years after these policies were put in place, and now days after this openly NAZI shit surfaces, this pig continues to go about his job. The fact that this undeniable evidence could come to light and yet days later there is no massive outpouring demanding that he be gone only shows how much people have allowed themselves to become used to... how complicit they have become.

Third, while a few politicians tweeted statements of outrage (oh, how daring!), and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez initiated a pitiful petition calling for Miller’s resignation, nobody has done anything of actual substance to get this NAZI removed. And as of November 17, only about 80 out of 235 Democrats in the House of Representatives had even signed Ocasio-Cortez’s token-effort petition, and it has not been signed by leadership figures like Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Chuck Schumer, Hakim Jeffries, and Jerry Nadler.

The leadership of the Democratic Party is all too willing to let this blow over. They do not want to talk about immigration because they, too, represent the same system of capitalism-imperialism as Miller, but with a more refined program. Think about it: Obama was in fact the “Deporter-in-Chief,” and still holds the record for deportations; Bill Clinton initiated the militarization of the southern border, causing thousands of deaths as immigrants were forced further and further into the desert in their flight to hoped-for safety; and Nancy Pelosi led the party to vote funding for Trump’s border wall and his concentration camps.

Even the self-styled socialist Bernie “BS” Sanders said last year:

“[I]f your point is you open the borders, my God, you know, there’s a lot of poverty in this world, and you’re gonna have people from all over the world. And I don’t think that’s something we can do at this point. We can’t do it.”

And more recently, Sanders said:

“We need border security, of course we do. Who argues with that? That goes without saying. I happen to believe that there are more cost-effective ways to do that than simply building a wall.”

These Democrats do nothing but go through the motions and make bullshit promises because they have no answers and cannot have answers. Why? Because their system, the one they defend and run for office to “serve and protect” (and yes, someone like the phony “socialist” BS would also have to serve and protect if somehow he were allowed to assume office), has no answers—other than constructing a more sanitized version of the “gated community” against the hundreds of millions this system has plundered who now seek refuge. They make noises about opposing Trump, and some of them even promise to abolish ICE—and make no mistake, these fascist policies of Trump take what was already intolerable and excruciating about this situation to a much more terrible level—but again, they have no answers.

And by the way, the reason they won’t call pigs like Miller (and Trump, for that matter) what they really are—NAZIs—is because if you reckon with that reality, then it is clear that one day of NAZI power is extremely dangerous and utterly intolerable and must be opposed with all-out measures, including massive nonviolent but utterly determined protest of the kind now going on in many other countries whose rulers are far less dangerous than the demented fascist with his finger on the nuclear button and his cabal of Christian end-times lunatic theocrats like Pence and racist hitmen like Miller. So they call him a “white nationalist,” put out a press release, and move the agenda to the next candidates’ debate.

The fact that this is all that has happened shows the lateness of the hour, the seriousness of the situation, and the urgent need for people to get off their couch and into the streets.

 

The Democrats Have No Answer On Immigration... But the Revolution Does

The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America takes the following stand on immigration: (from Section 3, H3)

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

The orientation of the New Socialist Republic in North America is to welcome immigrants from all over the world who have a sincere desire to contribute to the goals and objectives of this Republic, as set forth in this Constitution and in laws and policies which are established and enacted in accordance with this Constitution. From the time of the establishment of the New Socialist Republic in North America, anyone residing outside of the territory of this Republic who wishes to enter its territory, and any such person wishing to become a citizen, or a permanent resident, of this Republic, must follow the relevant laws and procedures which have been established on the basis of this Constitution. Anyone who applies for asylum in this Republic and, through the relevant procedures that have been established for this purpose, is found to have been persecuted, or to have a well-founded fear of persecution, on account of having taken part in just struggles against imperialist and reactionary states or other reactionary forces, or on account of scientific, artistic, or other pursuits which have brought them into conflict with reactionary powers and institutions, shall be afforded asylum in the New Socialist Republic in North America, so long as they pledge to act in compliance with the Constitution of this Republic, and do act accordingly. Provided that they do not engage in any serious violation of the laws of this Republic, people granted asylum have the right to remain within the territory of this Republic for as long as they choose to do so, and shall be accorded the same rights as citizens, with the exception that, so long as they have not become citizens, they may not vote in elections or be elected or appointed to public office. They shall have the right, after a certain period, determined by law, to become citizens of this Republic, with the same rights and responsibilities as all other citizens. The citizenship process, as well as review of the asylum status of all those granted asylum, shall be carried out in accordance with the laws and procedures established for these purposes.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/622/why-donald-trump-pardoned-three-soldiers-en.html

Think About It:

Why Might Donald Trump Have Pardoned Three Soldiers Charged with or Convicted of War Crimes, Against the Advice of Top Military Brass?

| revcom.us

 

From a Reader

On Friday, Donald Trump pardoned three U.S. military personnel who had either been charged with or convicted of war crimes: Mathew Golsteyn, Army Special Forces officer who killed an unarmed man in Afghanistan; Clint Lorance, Army lieutenant who ordered his troops to shoot a group of unarmed men in Afghanistan, killing two; Edward Gallaher, a Navy SEAL officer who stabbed a 17-year-old in the neck and killed him in Iraq.* This move was said to be opposed by many top officials in the military, including the Secretary of Defense.

Most reasons chalked this up to Trump's desire to unleash the military or his desire to garner votes from veterans. Maybe—probably—those entered into it. But think about this: if Trump is impeached and then convicted in the Senate... or if he loses the election in 2020 and refuses to leave office... and the military is called on to enforce that... there could very well be a contest for the loyalty of the troops. 

Might that have anything to do with this decision? Just asking.

 


* Mathew Golsteyn was facing murder charges for killing an unarmed man in Afghanistan in 2010. The man had been accused of being a bomb maker for the Taliban and responsible for the death of two Marines, but was released by the U.S. military. Golsteyn lay in wait for the man off base and then assassinated him—and said he had done it to protect fellow American troops.

Clint Lorance ordered his troops to fire on five unarmed villagers in Afghanistan in 2012. The men were posing no threat to the troops. Two of them were killed. Lorance then lied to cover up what happened.

Edward Gallagher was tried on charges of stabbing to death a17-year-old in Iraq who was accused of being a member of ISIS, as well as randomly shooting at civilians. Gallagher was convicted of a minor charge of posing with the murdered teen’s body but acquitted of all other charges, and simply demoted one rank.

Trump issued full pardons for Golsteyn and Lorance and reversed the demotion of Gallagher.  [back]

 

 

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Announcing New Special Issue of Demarcations

| revcom.us

 

This special issue features the prepublication version of Bob Avakian’s historic work, BREAKTHROUGHS: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism. A Basic Summary in multiple languages—English, Spanish, Farsi, Portuguese, German, and Turkish. The latter two are partial, and works in progress.

Demarcations, in announcing this special issue, states, “At a moment when it is no exaggeration to say that vast swaths of humanity and the planet are confronting a catastrophic future and even potentially existential risks due to the workings of this system of capitalism-imperialism, there is no greater need and contribution to a radically different world than to take up and spread Bob Avakian’s whole new framework for human emancipation, concentrated in this work, EVERYWHERE.”

 

 

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The National Revolution Tour: Making Revolution Now – A Challenge, The Joy and The Need

$25,018 raised toward the $25,000 Goal – More Funds Needed!

| revcom.us

 

The National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour needs your continued support to reach the $25,000 goal—and beyond! In the November 10 National Livestream, members of the Tour brought alive the vital role that the Revolution Tour is playing in the #OUTNOW movement to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power. There was lively discussion about how the Tour is boldly engaging and struggling with climate activists, students and all kinds of people, challenging people to confront reality and bringing out a scientific understanding of the nature of the capitalist system and why it must be overthrown. And through all this Tour members call on people to step forward and be part of and contribute in all kinds of ways to the movement for an ACTUAL revolution.

There has never been a tour like this—taking revolution out into the world straight up. The Tour members have dropped everything in their lives to go all over the country with the challenge: You Think You’re Woke But You’re Sleepwalking Through a Nightmare—This System Cannot Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown!

All of this is made possible solely by contributions from donors and monthly sustainers, providing funds for food, travel and materials—all of what it takes to enable the Tour members to pour their all into the revolution. Listen to a Tour member talk about how much these contributions mean.

Dozens of people around the country donated in ways big and small to bring forward the $9,254 donated during the Livestream and up through November 15—with several groups of people pooling their funds to make matching challenges. A number of people expressed their heartfelt appreciation for what the Tour is doing—see letters below. All of this is a critical part of organizing support for and participation in the revolution.

In the weeks ahead, and heading into the holiday season and the New Year, fundraising efforts need to continue and broaden. The holiday season is a time for giving. Talk to friends and family about why you support the Tour and ask them to join you in donating. Organize a gathering to raise funds for the Tour. Spread the word for people to donate to the Revolution Tour in lieu of a gift. Coming soon to this site, further ideas for holiday fundraising. Suggestions are welcome.

Let’s Fight for a New World!

Some of the statements from donors to Revolution Tour National Livestream

We are living in dangerous times with children being held in cages, climate crisis deniers in power, the dehumanization and oppression of women, immigrants and the LGBTQ community, police brutality and mass incarceration of black and brown people, and the exploitation of people around the globe. We need millions of people to take to the streets and demand that the Trump/Pence regime leave office. But, not everyone is able to do so. I have personal obligations that prevent me from going out into the streets, but there is something that I can do and that I do whenever possible. I donate to the National Revolution Tour and I share their message through social media, personal contacts and any other way that I can. I support the National Revolution Tour because they give me hope for humanity. They play an important role in taking the message of the dangers of this regime and the necessity of revolution to the masses with the goal of making a better world for all people on the planet. The members on the National Revolution Tour are making great personal sacrifices, leaving behind jobs, family and friends as they travel throughout the U.S.A. to engage the masses with a message of #TrumpOutNow and revolution. Anyone who claims to have morals and care about humanity should get involved. This is our only hope of not only overthrowing this system but also replacing it with one that is fair and just for all people. We need to help any way that we can if not for ourselves then for our children and all people of the world.


Just donated because humanity and the planet literally depend on making the Revolution and creating a new society that Bob Avakian has developed with a scientific method and approach.


From one of the donors who contributed to a $880 matching challenge:

I am donating to the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour because: At this moment, as the whole political system is in turmoil and facing unresolvable contradictions, this Tour is fulfilling a specific, urgent and great need. And that is to wake people up to the necessity and urgency of organizing and getting out in their millions, in a sustained way, to drive out the Trump/Pence regime, as part of the #OUTNOW movement.

This Tour is also bringing the understanding to the people that the system of Capitalism-Imperialism, which is the root cause of all of humanity’s suffering, can not be reformed, but can only be overthrown by an Actual Revolution. In that regard, the Tour is bringing forward the inspiring leadership of Bob Avakian. Bob Avakian, the most advanced leader of revolution of our era, has developed the “New Communism,” which is the most advanced scientific strategy and roadmap of a far better future for humanity. Needless to say, this National Get Organized for An ACTUAL Revolution Tour needs substantial funds to fulfill this important mission.

So I would urge anyone and everyone, who wants this nightmare we are living in to end, and who dreams of a better world, to donate as much as they can to this Tour.


From a group of physicians who put up a $500 matching challenge:

We are several physicians from around the country who support the Tour volunteers fighting for a new world and to remove the Trump/Pence Regime.


Hi, I’m one of the donors with the matching challenge, and here is why: How I wish the brave people around the world, who today are fighting their governments, had a revolutionary Party like we have here! What a difference it would make if people had the clarity of science to fight capitalism/imperialism! So I am on tour too—to support the Revolution Tour. I have taken a job out of state which allows me to donate more money to the Tour than otherwise. I challenge everyone reading this to find ways of supporting this revolutionary movement. This is a crucial and painful time in the world. Help make a ripple effect here and worldwide—SEIZE THE TIME! $700 from a supporter.

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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 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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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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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
Read or download (searchable PDF)

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/349/watching-Fruitvale-Station-with-Bob-Avakian-en.html

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian

August 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

April 22, 2019. This article was originally published in 2014. We believe that it is particularly timely now to either return to this or, for those who have not read it before, to read it for the first time.

For those who don’t know, Fruitvale Station is a very powerful, moving, and excruciating film that depicts the last day in the life of Oscar Grant.  Oscar was a 22-year-old, unarmed Black man murdered by Bay Area Rapid Transit police on New Year’s Day, 2009.  He was returning home from celebrating on New Year’s Eve, when police stopped Oscar and the friends he was with, harassed and brutalized them, straddled Oscar as he lay face down on a subway platform, and fatally shot him in the back. 

Not too long ago, I watched Fruitvale Station with Bob Avakian (BA), chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party.  Towards the very end of the film, agonizing, heartbreaking and infuriating scenes are shown: The cop shooting Oscar in the back; Oscar’s girlfriend frantically rushing to the scene, trying to find out what happened; Oscar’s loved ones gathering together and waiting desperately to find out if he would make it, only to find out he was gone forever.

As these scenes unfolded, I looked over at BA.  He was sobbing.  Not just misty-eyed. Sobbing.  And he continued to cry tears of heartbreak and rage for several minutes, as the closing credits rolled.

This made a very big impression on me.  BA did not know Oscar Grant personally. But he felt the sting of his murder in an extremely raw and visceral way. And I think his reaction speaks volumes about who Bob Avakian is, what he represents, and what he is all about. 

BA has literally been fighting against this system for 50 years.  He has been a revolutionary communist for about 45 years.  He has been shouldering the responsibility of leading the Revolutionary Communist Party for almost 40 years. And over the course of the last several decades, he has forged the theory and deepened the science for the revolution humanity needs to get free, while also providing practical leadership to the party and movement working for that revolution.  And all of this has involved not only tremendous work, but also tremendous risk and sacrifice on BA’s part as anyone with a sense of U.S. history, and/or BA’s personal history—specifically, what this reveals about the way the U.S. government viciously goes after revolutionary leaders—should well understand. And over all these decades, and through everything described above, BA has never lost an ounce of his love and feeling for the masses of people, his sense of outrage and hatred for all the ways in which the masses suffer needlessly, and his fire for revolution to emancipate the masses all over the world.  Not one bone in his body has become numb.  

There is a great deal more that could be said about the experience of watching Fruitvale Station with BA. But I want to highlight two points.

First, I think that in BA’s reaction to this movie, there is a lot for revolutionary communists, and anyone with concern for humanity and hatred for oppression and injustice, to reflect on and learn from.  Even with all the work BA has done and continues to do in the realm of theory, in order to forge a deeper understanding of why police murders like the execution of Oscar Grant and countless other outrages keep happening, the larger picture they are connected to, and how these outrages can be ended through revolution; even though BA has been at this for decades; and even with all of the horrors that pile up every single second that this system remains in place, there is absolutely no sense on BA’s part of world-weary detachment or defeatism when something like the murder of Oscar Grant goes down.  His reaction is decidedly not:  “Oh, well of course, this happens all the time, what do you expect?”   Rather, he cries tears of rage and anguish, both because he feels acutely the pain of Oscar’s life being stolen and because he knows that outrages like this are completely unnecessary and that humanity does not have to live this way.

This brings me to the second point I want to make here—and it is one I want to give even greater emphasis to, even while the first point above is very important and very related. The point I want to close this letter with is: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

I’ll say it again: We had better fully recognize and appreciate what we have in BA, and act accordingly.

And when I say “we had better,” that “we” is addressed to many different people and audiences.  Yes, I am most definitely speaking to revolutionaries and communists and to all those who are already deeply familiar with and supportive of BA.  But in saying “we,” I am also speaking to those who are just now—or just recently—learning about and getting introduced to this revolutionary leader—including, to quote BA, “Those this system has cast off, those it has treated as less than human” who “can be the backbone and driving force of a fight not only to end their own oppression, but to finally end all oppression, and emancipate all of humanity.”   

To all the masses of people, here and around the world, who suffer brutal oppression minute after minute, day after day... and to all those who may not directly suffer this oppression but ache for a world where this oppression is no more, I want to say this:  If you do not know about Bob Avakian, or just recently learned about him, that is not your fault.  But you, and millions of other people, need to understand how incredibly rare and precious it is for the people of the planet that we have this revolutionary leader and act in accordance with that reality.

BA is not only the leader of the revolution, he is also a best friend to the masses of people.  He is a leader who has done decades of work in the realm of theory to bring forward the scientific method, strategy and vision needed to make revolution and bring into being a radically new world where all the horrors that humanity suffers unnecessarily would be no more. He is continuing to develop the advanced scientific method that he has forged, and apply that method to all of the big questions and obstacles confronting the revolution. He is able to break all of this down for people, without even slightly watering it down, in a way that everyone can understand, take up, and be inspired by. He has taken on the daily responsibility of leading a party and a movement to make revolution right here in the most powerful imperialist country in the world. He has dedicated his life to the emancipation of humanity. And, through all of this, he maintains a deep, visceral connection to and feeling for the masses of people who most desperately need this revolution.

A leader like this comes along very, very rarely.  And when this does happen, the absolute worst thing we could do is fail to recognize this, fail to act in accordance with this, fail to take this seriously, or take this for granted.  Instead, all of us—whether we have known about BA for decades, are just learning about him and what he represents, or anywhere in between, and whether you agree with BA about everything or not—must fully recognize and embrace what BA means for the people of the world.  We must study, and learn all we can from his incredible body of work on the biggest questions of revolution and human emancipation, as well as the lessons of who he is and what he stands for as a revolutionary leader.  We must realize that it is not just us who need to know about BA, his work and vision, and the leadership he is providing to this party and movement for revolution:  millions of people must know about all of this, and this must impact all of society.    

Furthermore, and very crucially, we must fully confront the reality of what it would mean for the people of the world to lose this leader, and take extremely seriously that there are people and forces—those officially part of the powers-that-be, as well as those willing to do the work of the powers-that-be—who hate what BA represents and would like nothing more than to tear him down, silence him, and take him from the masses of people.  And we must be absolutely determined not to let that happen.

This means taking very seriously the need to do everything we can to protect and defend BA. This means denouncing and not giving a millimeter of space to those who slander and personally attack BA, because these attacks and slanders are part of creating the poisonous atmosphere and conditions that would make it easier for the powers-that-be, or those doing their bidding, to take BA from the people of the world.  Protecting and defending BA, and building a wall around him, also means boldly and sharply challenging those who may not be part of the camp of the enemy, but who are wallowing in, or at least being influenced by, arrogance, cynicism and snark, and who seek to dismiss without seriously engaging what BA has brought forward; this arrogance, snark, cynicism, and dismissal, regardless of the intent of those who fall into it, stands in the way of BA and all that he has brought forward having the reach and societal influence that this urgently needs to have.  And this, too, creates easier conditions for those who would try to silence and isolate BA and take him from the masses.

Few things in life are more tragic than a critical lesson learned too late. And it would truly be a tragedy if BA were taken from the people, and then people said: “Wow, I wish I had realized sooner what we had here.”

But the good news is: It is not too late.  We, and the masses of the planet, have BA right now.  We had better realize, and let everyone know, what that means.

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/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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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/622/white-supremacist-ann-coulter-comes-to-cal-en.html

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org

White Supremacist Ann Coulter Comes to Cal Campaigning for Ethnic Cleansing in Service of a Fascist Regime In Power

Protest! Meet at Sather Gate at 7pm Wed. 11/20

| revcom.us

 

Ann Coulter is coming to UC Berkeley Wednesday. Everyone with a pulse and a conscience—all who know 5,400 migrant children separated from their parents by the Trump/Pence regime is a crime against basic morality which can NOT be accepted or normalized—should be there to protest her appearance.

Ann Coulter is not some right-wing nutjob best dealt with by ignoring her. She is part of a fascist movement pushing Trump to "keep his promises"; she is closely aligned with Stephen Miller—the member of Trump's White House who has most shaped immigration policy. She is a fervent advocate for "great replacement theories" (google it) that see the changes in demographics driven by immigration as leading to "white genocide." When Trump characterizes immigrants traveling to the U.S.-Mexican border to apply for asylum (which is their legal and human right) as an "invasion," he is using the language of people who want a white ethnostate.

And as Hitler did to the Jews, he is changing the laws step by step—AP reports "69,550 migrant children held in U.S. government custody over the past year, enough infants, toddlers, kids and teens to overflow the typical NFL stadium." And Mexican government figures admit to 32,000 more migrant minors imprisoned in Mexico at the behest of the U.S. in the first half of 2019. This assault on immigrants is a crime against humanity—and it is the linchpin and battering ram of a broader fascist agenda. The role of Coulter (and Miller) is to urge Trump on, further and faster towards ethnic cleansing.

Coulter comes to Cal as part of parade of fascist speakers hitting the campuses this fall. They are building up a fascist youth movement that the campus community should confront. History and the current global rise of fascism demonstrate that if you care about civil liberties, the rule of law, critical thinking, evidence-based knowledge, science, evolution, the equality of men and women, and the repudiation and eradication of white supremacy—then you ignore figures like Coulter at great peril.

Coulter's visit to UC is being ushered in and normalized by the school administration (and by the Daily Cal with its coverage that covers over and hides the reality that Coulter is a polemicist for ethnic cleansing.) If her visit is not met by outcry and opposition—if a place like UC Berkeley cannot muster a repudiation of this fervent fascist hatchet woman—this IS normalizing fascism, and it paves the way for even more vicious acts.

Students must take a side! Ann Coulter (and Stephen Miller) are NAZIs. They ARE shaping the immigration policy of the country that is most responsible for destroying the lives of the people and driving them to migrate in the first place. And Trump throws gasoline on the fire by accelerating climate change, which is already hitting Central America hard and is driving people north. One of the most vicious architects of all that is coming to your campus. If you don't raise your voice in opposition, if you don't repudiate this in mass protest, you are saying "fine by me."

Quotes from Coulter:

"Without the white settlers, what is known as 'America' would still be an unnamed continent full of migratory tribes chasing the rear end of a buffalo every time their stomachs growled." —from Adios, America

And she spews hatred for those who are the TARGETS of the Trump/Pence regime today, as it separates families, builds concentration camps and as children die at the border:

"Despite a hegemonic propaganda campaign about all cultures being equal, they aren't.... People notice when their little girls are raped and killed by Mexicans, their Arab shopkeepers commit honor killings, their Hmong neighbors are pimping out little girls and clubbing German shepherd puppies to death, their Indian landlord is importing concubines, and their Chinese acquaintances are murdering their wives out of 'humiliation.'" —from Adios, America

"God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'" —Hannity and Colmes, 2001

This is a time to cast aside denial and fear, to step outside your comfort zones and to stand up.

Join with Refuse Fascism and with students and others who are refusing to let this go down.

Trump/Pence Must Go! Out Now!

The great challenge in this country is whether people will rise up and get rid of this regime in the only way we can: through sustained, mass, nonviolent protest, not stopping until our single unifying demand is met: Trump/Pence #OutNow! The people of Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Chile are showing us how.

Refuse Fascism has called for mass meetings Sunday, in major cities across the country, to plan the next steps in #OutNow! Go HERE for full Call for these meetings. Go HERE for times and places of the meetings.

Don't be a Spectator -- Fight for Humanity!

Refuse Fascism, San Francisco Bay Area 510-926-8144

Email: NorCal@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/622/refuse-fascism--students-at-UC-Berkeley-reject-ann-coulters-nazi-program-en.html

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

Students at UC Berkeley Reject Ann Coulter’s Nazi Program for Ethnic Cleansing: #OutNow

| revcom.us

 

November 20, 2019
For immediate release
Press Contact: RefuseFascism.org, 917.407.1286
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @RefuseFascism

Interviews Available Permission to use video footage upon request

Students at UC Berkeley Reject Ann Coulter’s Nazi Program for Ethnic Cleansing: #OutNow

Refuse Fascism Student Held On Trumped Up Charges and Excessive Bail

Over a thousand students at UC Berkeley came out in fierce opposition to a speech by Ann Coulter. Students marched in a picket line and mass protest at the front door to Wheeler Auditorium for over 3 hours, making entry very difficult for Coulter’s hardcore followers. Hundreds also blocked the back doors to Wheeler. Chants rang out: Trump/Pence #OutNow!

During her speech, when Coulter started talking about Trump’s white supremacist wall, she was disrupted by a student and member of Refuse Fascism who stood up in the audience and called out: “You want to make America white again!” As she was being unjustly dragged out, she yelled: “You are a f–ing racist Ann, you are a f–ing Nazi.”

“This outpouring from UC Berkeley students should be an inspiration for students across the country. These students are fighting for the future up against the virulent fascism of Ann Coulter,” said Atlas Winfrey, of Refuse Fascism. “A parade of fascists are speaking on college campuses across the country building a fascist student movement.”

“Coulter came to UC Berkeley to promote the myths of ‘white genocide’ and spread anti-immigrant terror,” Winfrey continued. “This assault on immigrants by the Trump/Pence regime is the linchpin and battering ram of a broader fascist agenda. Coulter is part of a fascist movement pushing Trump to move further and faster.”

But Coulter’s message and the fascist program she’s fighting for was met with something very different at UC Berkeley.

Trump’s unleashing racist hate, he’s building up a police state, Trump Pence Out Now!” rang across the campus.

Alex Hernandez, from Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club, LA said, “This kind of mass protest needs to spread, growing broader and more determined. It’s the only way we’re going to stop a Trump/Pence catastrophe. We need to be in the streets, ultimately in our millions, in mass, sustained, non-violent protest until our single unifying demand is met: Trump/Pence #OutNow!”

Another chant in the midst of the mass protest at the doors of Wheeler was “Ann Coulter wants ethnic cleansing, we say no!

Seven people were arrested. The student with Refuse Fascism who spoke up inside Wheeler Hall was brutalized by the UCPD, now being held on $60,000 bail with outrageously trumped up charges.

Watch a facebook live video of the disruption here.


Refuse Fascism has called for mass meetings Sunday, in major cities across the country, to plan the next steps in #OutNow! Go HERE for full Call. Go HERE for times and places of the meetings.

 

Send statements, videos and images of support:

info@refusefascism.org

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @RefuseFascism

 

 

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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/622/Berkeley-snapshot-an-example-to-students-across-the-country-en.html

An Example to Students across the Country ... And Millions who Hate This Fascism

Snapshot of Berkeley protests against white supremacist Nazi Ann Coulter

| revcom.us

 

By Atlas Winfrey, member of the National Tour to Get Organized for an Actual Revolution and Refuse Fascism, LA

 

Editor's Note: This correspondence, which was a quick snapshot and reflection, has been slightly modified by its author to fill out certain aspects.

When I walked onto campus at UC Berkeley last Wednesday it was a surreal experience. I walk through this campus with this incredible history and connection to the upsurge of the 1960s. I walk by different Christian fundamentalists agitating about godless liberals suppressing religious freedom. I walk by outdoor bulletin boards plastered with calls to support the Hong Kong protests. Giant graphics of the Hong Kong protesters in masks, umbrellas, in pitched battles in the streets and “Fuck you fascists” posters stapled all over. I walk by a cappella groups doing performances in Sproul plaza and groups planning bonfires and students cramming for tests.

Myself and some other members of the Revolution Club and Refuse Fascism walked up to cafes and made announcements about Ann Coulter coming to campus, and then engaged students over the Nazi rally that would be held on campus later that night. A Revolution Club member read quotes from Coulter, he pulled the lens back for people on why Coulter was coming here. “They are whipping up a Nazi youth movement on campuses across the country. They are preparing a social base to defend the fascist Trump/Pence regime and push, to carry out atrocities, even to launch a civil war.”

This spoke to questions so many had, that came up again and again: “Why is Coulter even coming to Berkeley” many people asked. Others said, “Don’t the Republicans have free speech too? Isn’t it wrong to protest them?” Many said, “She just wants to be inflammatory, and get self promotion by being really ‘out there,’ isn’t the best thing to do is to just ignore her?”  We asked some if they were coming to the protest tonight and some said, “Absolutely,” many others raised homework, prior commitments, too last minute, and other things like that.

I could not have predicted how people would respond later that night. We arrived at the protest at 7:00 and by 7:30 there were already hundreds pouring in eventually growing to a couple thousand demonstrating for three straight hours. Signs that said, “Fuck you fascists,” “Illegal immigration started in 1492,” “No Racism @ UCB,“ “Fuck White Supremacy,” and others that had really creative and inside jokes about Coulter. Many covered themselves in Trump/Pence #OutNow stickers and held #OUTNOW posters.

A few people who I saw at the protest were people who told us earlier that they weren’t going to come. Earlier in the day people seemed confused on the question of speech and the role of Coulter, but at the protest there was all this fierce certitude that Coulter is using the argument of free speech to cover over her Nazi fascist program.  People I talked to earlier in the day were confused over her role and why she was coming, but here everyone is talking about how she is fighting for ethnic cleansing. That her speech was dangerous and harmful. Some were connecting her views up with the policies emanating from the White House.

There was all this controversy earlier over whether or not it was even right to protest, and then later I see hundreds and hundreds link arms creating human chains to block people who were trying to get into Coulter’s speech. People were disciplined and nonviolent even in the face of many provocations and assaults.

On the spot we united with an organization called BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) that had also been organizing to prevent Coulter from speaking. They organized the students to picket the front. They were raising the slogan “Trump Must Go.” Together, between the agitation and chants led by both BAMN and Refuse Fascism, the character of the rally connected Coulter up to the Trump/Pence regime much more fully, in a way that would not have happened on its own. People had more understanding that Coulter was a fascist and through the night got a handle on the connection of Coulter to the fascism emanating from the Trump/Pence Regime.  Across from the hall where Coulter was speaking were projections that covered the full face of the building—with exposures of Coulter and Trump Pence Out NOW.

Refuse Fascism had put out a leaflet and a sheet of quotes from Ann Coulter which got out to people over 48 hours and were all over campus bulletin boards. People came with the bright green sheets Coulter’s quotes were printed on. Professors let us make announcements in classes. People took up the Refuse Fascism chants, bellowing: “Trump Pence Out Now,” “Don’t Tell Me It Can’t Happen Here, Don’t tell me wait another year, Trump Pence Out Now!” “Fuck your borders,” “Humanity First.”  Then people added “What do we want? Open borders—when do we want them? Now!”

I opened up the bullhorn and throughout the rally about 20 people got on it and spoke out. People talked about the horrific things happening to immigrants, the stripping away of LGBTQ and women’s rights, the white supremacy, the environment. Some students started chanting “Queers against fascism!” So I brought the microphone over to them and they said it through the bullhorn. Many people cheered but weren’t taking it up. So I said to one of the students, “you have to tell people that even if they aren’t queer they should say the chant.” So he got on the mic and said “this chant is for everybody whether you are queer or an ally” then he was greeted with a mighty roar “QUEERS AGAINST FASCISM.” Several students came up to me and asked me to say “Free Hong Kong” through the bullhorn, and the protests there seemed to be inspiring some of the students.

Throughout the rally I struggled with people. People wanted to raise chants that called Coulter a bitch so I told them to stop and said something simple “Bitch is a word men use when they rape women, it’s degrading. We can do much better. Coulter is a fascist, a white supremacist, that’s what we should say about her.” People thanked me for struggling this way. I did a lot of agitation on individualism: “Since when do you have to be directly affected, to know that it is wrong and that you should stand up against it?” People responded with uproarious cheering. “Enough of all this looking out for ourselves, our careers, our futures while people’s lives get destroyed and the planet burns.” More uproarious cheering. People also responded well to agitation on the impeachment, the elections, and indicting the Democrats for complicity. Off one round of agitation someone walked up and said, “Ok, you are saying Trump is fascist, what do you mean? Can you help me understand what fascism is?”

We got reports outside that during her speech, when Coulter started talking about Trump’s white supremacist wall, she was disrupted by a student and member of Refuse Fascism who stood up in the audience and called out, “You want to make America white again!” as she was being unjustly dragged out, she yelled: “You are a fucking racist Ann, you are a fucking Nazi.” We started spreading to the students what happened inside, people cheered for what she had done and on the spot a dozen people at the protest got on their phones and called Berkeley PD to demand her release. They threw four charges and $60,000 bail at her. Oh yeah, UCPD made sure to “not be too nice,” using excessive force intentionally causing pain and twisting Brandy’s arms, and subjecting her to a strip search in jail and more arm twisting.  A student with BAMN went to jail that night also. This is what happened to people exercising their right to speech that opposed the Nazi rally being held on campus that night.

The police were very violent with people throughout the day, snatching out of the crowd anyone who was wearing something covering their face, even going so far as to attack a student wearing a Hijab grabbing her by the hair.  Police arrested, beat, and threatened protesters with weapons at point blank ranges. Anger seethed among the students with many shocked at the level of brutality. People chanted anti-police chants and yelled at the pigs, many calling them pigs. There was outrage in the voices of students as they chanted with us, “Trump’s Unleashing Racist Hate, He’s building up a police state, Trump/Pence Out Now!”

Now that I’m sitting here writing this I’m thinking about three things. I’m thinking about how important this is that thousands of people demonstrated with fierce determination—taking up #OutNow chants and with a widespread and basic feeling that this IS fascism even as many don’t fully understand what that means. Second, this protest was a real sledgehammer hitting at the complicity and passivity of so many millions of people. This is a living model to how students on dozens of campuses across the country who are waking up to swastikas and racist manifestos, should respond. And third, for reasons I still don’t fully understand, this is a moment where thousands on the UC campus broke through the mental shackles that keep people from acting and a kind of passion and fierce determination was unleashed. This was not protest as usual, this was Berkeley becoming Berkeley again.

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Making History Is NOT A Spectator Sport...
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Sunday November 24

TIMES AND PLACES

The Free Speech Movement

Read it here | Listen to Bob Avakian read it

From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, a memoir by Bob AvakianExcerpt from Chapter Six, Your Sons and Your Daughters...” of Bob Avakian's memoir, From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist


Projection on Wheeler Hall during protest: "Nazis off campus & out of the White House / #OUTNOW! / NO! We refuse to accept a fascist America!"


Hundreds of students link arms creating human chains to block people who were trying to get into Coulter's speech

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/622/cheers-to-hundreds-of-climate-protesters-who-stopped-the-harvard-yale-football-game-en.html

Cheers to Hundreds of Climate Protesters Who STOPPED the Harvard-Yale Football Game

| revcom.us

 

On Saturday afternoon, at the annual Harvard-Yale football game being played in New Haven, Connecticut, protesters stormed out from the stands and onto the field with a large banner that said: “NOBODY WINS: YALE & HARVARD ARE COMPLICIT IN CLIMATE INJUSTICE.” They were demanding that the two elite Ivy League universities divest their investments in fossil fuels.1 They also demanded the canceling of the huge debt that Puerto Rico owes to capitalist investors. The Harvard-Yale game is one of the most storied rivalries in college sports history, and the acts and actual participation of students and alumni in this protest is not inconsequential, perhaps and hopefully a harbinger of things to come.

As the halftime ended and the game’s second half was about to start, about 70 protesters—from both schools—streamed out of the stands and sat down near midfield. They were joined by hundreds of other spectators—at its height, the protest was about 500 strong. This is significant and to be noted, on what happens when people defiantly step out in resistance and set an example.

The action stopped the game, which was being aired live on cable TV, for over half an hour. Several dozen cops surrounded the protesters, eventually forcing most of them off the field. Yale News reported that “a small number of students and alumni was arrested after they refused to give up their ground.”

A Harvard senior who was part of the protest said, “It was both scary and exhilarating.”

Cheers to the Harvard-Yale protesters for their courageous, creative and effective action that stopped business-as-usual and brought attention to the urgency of climate change that threatens humanity and the whole planet.

1. Both Yale and Harvard have enormous endowments that rely heavily on investments in fossil fuel industries. A statement from the campus group Divest Harvard said, “Students are tired of Harvard and Yale profiting off of climate destruction and neocolonial investments in Puerto Rico’s debt. It’s time for more than lip service and greenwashing from academic leaders. Harvard and Yale must address the climate emergency at the scale and with the urgency it demands. This action is only the beginning.”  [back]


Photo: twitter

 

 

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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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