revcom.us, December 23, 2019 through December 29, 2019 (#627)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Please note: this page is intended for quick printing of one week's articles. Some of the links may not work when clicked, and some images may be missing. Please go to the article's permalink if you require working links and images.

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/626/trump-impeached-take-the-struggle-higher-en.html

Trump Impeached, Fascists React, People Rejoice—Take the Struggle Higher in the New Year!

Updated , from an article originally appearing December 20, 2019 | revcom.us

 

Two weeks ago the House of Representatives voted to impeach Donald Trump. This was a major event—and a very good thing! Even with the narrow terms on which the Democrats carried this out, people seized on it with enthusiasm. Thousands poured into the streets. They were both furious and exhilarated at the fact that Trump was finally beginning to be held accountable for some of his towering crimes.

The next step in the process is for the Democrats to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate, and for the Senate to then hold a trial of Trump. The Senate is supposed to impartially evaluate the evidence and then vote on whether Trump should be removed from office.

The fascist Republican Party grouped around Trump reacted with fury and arrogance. The Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell openly stated that he would NOT be impartial. McConnell said that he would coordinate the trial with Trump himself—the accused—and that, anyway, since he, McConnell, had already concluded that Trump should NOT be removed, there was no need for further witnesses or other evidence to be added. Whoever heard of such a thing!?! And yet this absurdity is on track to become the “new normal” under the Trump/Pence fascist regime.

Trump himself accused the Democrats of treason, and “making war on democracy.” When hosting a delegation from the Guatemalan government—a government infamous for repression and murder of opponents—Trump went so far as to say that “they knew how to take care of” the kind of opposition he was encountering from congressional Democrats.

The Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi responded by holding back the articles of impeachment until she could be sure of a fair proceeding, and other Democrats are putting forward the demand that Congress be allowed to see new, and possibly more damning, evidence.

A Criminal Is Indicted—and That’s a Good Thing!

It is true and important that the Democratic leadership focused on a crime pertaining in large part to “national security”—that is, the imperialist interests of the U.S. around the world. They explicitly did not take on the much more serious outrages perpetrated by this fascist regime against the masses of people and the planet itself. All this works against what is needed by humanity, here and around the world.

But the articles of impeachment do hit at the very important point that Trump had abused power and run roughshod over the rule of law. This includes the way he obstructed the impeachment process itself by refusing to turn over evidence and allow members of his administration to testify, in defiance of the law and the separation of powers. Had there been no impeachment whatsoever, or had the articles been voted down in the House, the fascists would have been further strengthened.

The fact that this criminal WAS impeached and now goes to trial is something to be welcomed and built on. In particular, the #OUTNOW! Movement—with its uncompromising demand to oust the entire fascist regime and its important insistence on mobilizing millions in the street to carry this through—must be built through January. The furious, and unconstitutional, reaction of the Republicans makes the situation extremely unpredictable. People who want to see this regime out—people who are now in anguish but still paralyzed—must be challenged and summoned into the streets to help determine the shape of a situation that is extremely volatile and in which the political equation could change, in a way that is in the interests of humanity.

A New Situation, Full of Uncertainty

The point is that right now, nobody knows what comes next.

But, again, the masses of people responded in a powerful, even if beginning, way to the impeachment. Thousands came into the streets on the night before the vote, furious about Trump and seizing a chance to act. Many responded to and took up the chant of OUT NOW! and the slogans being put forward by the #OUTNOW! contingents. So, again—this shows real potential that must be seized on and built further.

These sharpening conflicts at the top and the heightened uncertainty they bring make the activities called for by Refuse Fascism and #OUTNOW! for January even more important and make it possible to reach out much, much wider.

In this situation, the following point stands out all the more sharply:

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.

All this makes it more important than ever to put forward and struggle for the demand that the whole Trump/Pence regime must go NOW—and that the key to doing this is bringing forward more thousands today, working toward millions, in massive, sustained, nonviolent struggle.

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

 

 

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The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/627/locking-children-in-metal-cages-en.html

Locking Children in Metal Cages—The Fascist Regime Expanding Its Ability to Torture Immigrant Kids:
This Nightmare Must End!

| revcom.us

 

An infant lying face down in the Rio Grande, dead in the arms of her father. Crying, hungry children locked in metal cages. Pregnant young women penned in frigid concentration camps that line the U.S.-Mexico border. Impoverished people traversing Mexico in caravans, being met at a border bristling with weaponry, and heavily armed military and police.

For the past several years the news has been filled with heartrending images of people who risk everything to try to make it to the U.S. border. The lives of millions of people are in upheaval and life-threatening crisis. What is driving people to risk everything to try to make their way across Mexico to the U.S.? Trump has snarled that the U.S. is under “invasion” by immigrants from Central America and Mexico trying to “break into” the U.S. Accounts in the major media always stay on the surface, speaking of the poverty and gang violence that plagues the countries of Central America, but never getting at the roots and sources of those conditions.

A Cascade of Horrors, Made in America

The reality is that for decades the U.S. has inflicted a cascade of unending horrors upon the people of Central America.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S., under Democratic and Republican leadership, funded, directed, and waged counter-revolutionary, genocidal wars in GuatemalaEl Salvador, and Honduras. Hundreds of thousands of people were murdered in these wars, millions of others were impoverished and displaced. In the years since the U.S. has orchestrated coups and imposed punishing “trade agreements” on these countries that devastated farming and made people’s very survival dependent on expensive exports from the U.S. The U.S. supports and funds Central American governments that preside with unchecked brutality over some of the most violent and unequal societies on earth.

Mexico and Central America are in great crisis and turmoil. Millions of people are desperately impoverished. They are plagued by violence from the police and militaries of their countries, and from criminal gangs that have sprung up on the soil created by imperialism and are often in league with the governments. Environmental destruction driven by capitalism-imperialism has ruined much of the remaining farmland.

The refugee crisis and the horror at the border was created by imperialism and the dynamics driving it will only get worse in the years to come.

Besides the sheer inhumanity of the horror being done to innocent and desperate people, the fact that this suffering is absolutely unnecessary makes it all the more infuriating. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, states clearly that “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.” Go here to read more on the policy of the revolution; and go here to find out more about why this revolution is necessary and how it could be made. (Watch the film WHY WE NEED AN ACTUAL REVOLUTION AND HOW WE CAN REALLY MAKE REVOLUTION, a speech by Bob Avakian.)

Laying the Legal Groundwork, Preparing the Concentration Camps

The Democratic president Barack Obama deported more people than any president ever, and actually set up the system of detaining families. And the liberal New York Times has said that every president, of whatever party, will always be deporter-in-chief. Whether people are allowed into this imperialist country has nothing to do with concerns about humanity, but only about what benefits this system. Nobody who sits atop this system, Republican or Democrat, has any answer to the horrors of the lopsided world that it has created and must perpetuate.

But the fascist answer of the Trump/Pence regime has been taking the atrocities inflicted on the peoples of these countries to entirely new levels of criminality. It is preparing to massively expand and extend its torture of immigrant children and youth within the U.S. in the name of “defending America’s borders,” and “ending catch and release.”

For over a year the regime has been systematically pushing ahead with plans to arrest, imprison, and deport tens of thousands of immigrant families, including infants and children. In the past month, those efforts have gone into high gear. The government’s own data show that this year 69,550 migrant children were held in U.S. custody at some point, an all-time high. Now the fascist juggernaut is preparing, and in fact already beginning to implement, roundups in this country that could escalate rapidly and enormously. And they are preparing for global upheaval caused by crisis in the capitalist-imperialist system that compels countless more desperate people to seek refuge in this country.

In June 2018 Trump’s Department of Homeland Security announced its intention to quintuple the capacity of its concentration camps for immigrant children. About a week later Trump’s “Justice” Department (DOJ) petitioned a federal court to allow children to be held in detention for longer than 20 days, and to be kept in facilities that don’t require state licensing. In addition, at about the same time, the Pentagon began evaluating at least four military bases for use as “sites to house as many as 20,000 unaccompanied immigrant children, including three in Texas and a fourth in Arkansas,” as the El Paso Times reported.

Last month a federal judge rejected arguments by Trump’s lawyers that would have put an end to a 20-year-old agreement intended to prevent the government from imprisoning children and their families indefinitely. But four things are important to understand about this. One, Trump’s DOJ is fighting the ruling, in a case that could soon go to a Supreme Court packed with fascists that will very likely decide in favor of his regime, or taken to another of the many courts now dominated by right wing judges appointed by Trump (or Bush before him). Two, the government is expanding its ability to hold tens of thousands more immigrants, including children, with or without a court decision. Three, Trump has vowed to round up “millions” of immigrants, and in fact ICE has already begun extensive arrests and deportations of immigrants across the country. And four, as the Associated Press reported on November 12, 2019, “About 4,000 [immigrant children] are still in government custody, some in large, impersonal shelters. And more arrive every week.”

Institutionalized Torture

Separation of children and infants from their parents is a universally recognized form of torture. It can cause permanent brain damage to children. Dr. Claire McCarthy wrote in the journal Harvard Health Publishing that “there is an important scientific fact that we need to be aware of as the political drama at the border unfolds: when children are separated from their parents, they can be damaged for the rest of their lives.” Dr. McCarthy explained how children forcibly separated from their parents are inflicted with emotional and physical traumas and stresses that not only can trigger severe depression and other psychological damages, but harm to the body’s organs and functions. She concluded, “[W]hat is happening at the border goes beyond using children as pawns. The science is clear. We are literally ruining their lives.... This is more than wrong. It’s unconscionable.”

The conditions at the concentration camps where children have been held are squalid, disease infested, and overcrowded. A lawyer who spent about a week at a concentration camp in Dilley, Texas, this summer reported in The Nation that “Nearly every one of the almost 500 people that I saw in the detention center was sick.... [A]gents take them in their wet clothes, at first, to the ‘hielera,’ the ‘icebox,’ a refrigerated building ... where they had to try to sleep on the concrete floor or sit on concrete benches under mylar blankets, prodded by agents all night and day, deliberately kept awake. Bathroom breaks are frequently not granted, or not in time, so both women and children often soil themselves.... [T]wo bologna sandwiches for four days, for a mother and two children, was standard. Sometimes they missed food for a day. Sickness was not treated.... After the Hielera, they went to the ‘perrera’, or doghouse, a place where families were put in cages, cyclone fencing between them as though they were animals.”

The standards that institutionalize this sadistic abuse of infants, children, and young women are not brutal enough to “send the message” the fascists want. Lawsuits they’ve filed, and a law they are putting before Congress, would remove any level of government oversight to the concentration camps they intend to fill.

Many protests have been launched against the imprisonment of children across the country, and future protests are planned. Lawyers and medical professionals have provided support for the immigrants. All efforts like these are important—but much, much more is needed. The atrocities continue, and they are about to get far worse. They need to be STOPPED!

The Time to Act Is NOW

Relentless attacks on immigrants are a battering ram through which the Trump/Pence regime is advancing and consolidating its entire fascist program. Fighting to put an end to the horrors this regime is already inflicting on immigrants, and the even greater ones it is preparing, must be part of the one unifying demand #OUTNOW!

Now is the time, including over these holidays when the contradiction of families separated and children locked in cages is all the more glaring, to step into this fight and to struggle with others to do the same. Print off and spread this article, as well as the fact sheet on this website. And join with Refuse Fascism in the month of activities it has called for this January.

Download printable PDF flyer of this article here


Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Angie Valeria, drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande. Photo: AP

Only the Revolution Can and Will End the Injustices Done to Immigrants and Welcome People from All Over

The Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants

From Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, a speech by Bob Avakian

CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

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

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

Read and Download (PDF)

Click here to read Section H. on Immigrants, Citizenship and Asylum.

“There are No Activities, Only Crying”

Earlier this year, lawyers with the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law (CHRCL) and other organizations filed a suit in federal court seeking to mandate immediate inspections of concentration camps for immigrant children by health professionals. Among the statements in their suit are the following accounts of their conditions by imprisoned immigrant children in the El Paso and Rio Grande Valley border sectors.

“I started taking care of [a five-year-old child] in the Ice Box after they separated her from her father. I did not know either of them before that. She was very upset. The workers did nothing to try to comfort her. I tried to comfort her and she has been with me ever since. [She] sleeps on a mat with me on the concrete floor. We spend all day every day in that room. There are no activities, only crying.”—A 15-year-old girl

“The day after we arrived here, my baby began vomiting and having diarrhea. I asked to see a doctor and they did not take us. I asked again the next day and the guard said: ‘She doesn’t have the face of a sick baby. She doesn’t need to see a doctor.’ My baby daughter has not had medicine since we first arrived. She has a very bad cough, fever and continues to vomit and have diarrhea.”—A 16-year-old girl

“I was apprehended with my father. The immigration agents separated me from my father right away. I was very frightened and scared. I cried. I have not seen my father again... I have had a cold and cough for several days. I have not seen a doctor and I have not been given any medicine.”—A five-year-old boy

“They took us away from our grandmother and now we are all alone. They have not given us to our mother. We have been here for a long time. I have to take care of my little sister. She is very sad because she misses our mother and grandmother very much... We sleep on a cement bench. There are two mats in the room, but the big kids sleep on the mats so we have to sleep on the cement bench.” —An eight-year-old boy

“We are in a metal cage with 20 other teenagers with babies and young children. We have one mat we need to share with each other. It is very cold. We each got a mylar blanket, but it is not enough to warm up. There are benches but we cannot sleep there. Sometimes it is so crowded we cannot find a place to sleep, so they allow a few of us to sleep outside the fenced area. The lights are all of the time.”—A 16-year-old girl


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Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/609/watch-this-what-if-en.html

Watch This: "What if..."

| revcom.us

 

To Revcom,

I came upon this video posted by the LA Revolution Club on Instagram. Moved in profound ways, I wrote: If you have a heart for humanity... if you feel that the people of the world could be and do so much better than all that is today... here’s a beautiful invitation. I then showed the video to two friends, each teared up. There is more that I could say about the video, about the words spoken and by whom, but instead, watch it, reflect on it, circulate it, and take it to heart and then decide what you are going to strive for and do....

Andy Zee

Watch: www.instagram.com/p/B1NQY38Ak2b/

 

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

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/626/admit-that-the-waters-around-you-have-grown-en.html

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org

Admit That the Waters Around You Have Grown

reprinted from Medium, by Coco Das

| revcom.us

 

The waters of fascism have risen in the country where I was born and the country where I have citizenship. Both countries need sustained, non-violent, mass protest to demand the removal of fascist regimes.


Citizenship Amendment Act Protest, Delhi

As morose as it sounds, I sometimes think about where I would be sent if I were deported. I’m a naturalized U.S. citizen, with no guarantee of a permanent home as the Trump Pence regime tests out ways to de-naturalize citizens.

I left India when I was two years old, and have not been a citizen of that country since I was sixteen. Once, someone who meant well told me that if things got bad for me here, I could go back to India and still have a home. At one time, I probably would have accepted that, but now I feel that for people who care deeply about humanity, there are no homes and no safe spaces.

In November, I went back to India for the first time in fifteen years to attend two weddings. I dreaded going, especially the prospect of finding out how much of my family has aligned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political wing of the Hindu fascist movement that has risen to the highest levels of power in India. After Modi’s re-election in early 2019, the BJP has accelerated the process of fascist consolidation in horrifying ways. Just as the Trump Pence regime’s assault on immigrants has been the linchpin and battering ram of a whole fascist program of white supremacy, misogyny, and xenophobia, Modi and the BJP’s war on Muslims has escalated to a genocidal ethnic cleansing and the re-making of India as a “Hindu Rashtra,” a theocratic state for the protection and benefit of Hindus. When Modi revoked Kashmir’s special status and put the region under military lockdown, a beloved cousin was happy that Kashmir would finally be “integrated” into the rest of India. A cousin I used to be close to is married to a BJP politician. These are conversations I didn’t want to have in person, especially during a family celebration.

But visiting India, especially the relatively progressive city of Kolkata, perhaps feels akin to walking around Berlin in 1935. On the surface, things can look normal, even pleasant. The Hindu wedding season had just begun, and I saw on the streets of Kolkata a lot of joy, diversity, and vitality. Yet you read the paper, or get into an even shallow discussion on politics, and you can begin to understand how far into fascism India has fallen. Some greet it with a mixture of fear, despair, and grief for the lost dream of a secular India. Some think they can support the BJP for cleaning up the streets of Benares (where some of my family lives) and reject the lynching of Muslims. In a country of over a billion people, with a history of protest and civil disobedience, any organized opposition in the streets to the BJP’s Hindu fascist vision of India has paled in comparison to what is needed and what is possible.

The latest terror the BJP is spreading across India, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (now called Citizenship Amendment Act) in combination with the National Register of Citizens, has finally sparked mass determined protests across the country, particularly on campuses after the Delhi police stormed Jamia Millia Islamia University and brutalized students. The NRC was the mechanism by which, virtually overnight, almost two million people, many of them refugees from the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war who fled to the northeastern state of Assam, lost their citizenship. Because some of these people who were left off the registry of citizens were Hindus, the Citizenship Amendment Bill of 2019 was introduced to separate those seeking citizenship or residency to non-Muslim refugees and Muslim “infiltrators.” The Citizenship Amendment Bill just passed in the Lok Sabha, which means this terror has become the law of the land, and could be the precursor that threatens the citizenship and residency rights of 20 million Indian Muslims. At the same time, the government is ominously building massive concentration camps, testing and fortifying a more brutal surveillance and repression apparatus, and unleashing a rabidly violent Hindu fascist base. In the last decade, 90% of religious violence, overwhelmingly against Muslims, has occurred since Modi and the BJP took over in 2014.

Modi’s regime is committing greater crimes against humanity each passing day and must be removed from power through non-violent mass protest. The student protests against CAB have spread, and some opposition party leaders have called people into the streets, but it won’t be enough to stop the Hindu fascists from cementing their vision of India as long as Modi and the BJP remain in power. All these fascist regimes, the Trumps and the Modis, must go now, and only millions in the streets can create the kind of political crisis to drive them out.

It was surreal to experience the fascist collapse of the country where I live and the country of my birth from two different vantage points. In the U.S., the white supremacy of the Trump regime puts me constantly on edge, while in India, my family of upper caste Hindus, even if they don’t like Modi, are not in the crosshairs and can pretend it isn’t happening. Then there are loved ones who have jumped into the Hindu fascist tide, lining up behind monsters on a march to genocide.

On the plane coming home, I happened upon a playlist of Bob Dylan songs. In the current climate, the lyrics of “The Times They Are A-Changin’” sounded bitterly ironic.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

The rising waters of justice and revolution that Dylan was writing about have receded and given way to the rising waters of fascism. Today, it’s the people on the side of humanity who need to start swimming, and it’s humanity itself that will sink like a stone if we don’t awaken the millions who can be the only force to stop this global catastrophe. Fascism is seductive to some, overwhelming to others. It isn’t understood deeply enough, or hated with enough passion, or resisted with enough determination.

The people of India, and the world, deserve better — lives free of oppression and the temptation to oppress. From here, I will continue to kick at the dam until people flood the streets in non-violent resistance to force back the fascist tide, and the waters that can cleanse the world of fascism can rush and rise again. We must do this, because in the fight against fascism, it can become too late at a moment when the fate of humanity and the planet hangs in the balance. The times have changed, but the future is still unwritten.

 

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Refuse Fascism here.

 

 

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

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

Get a free email subscription to revcom.us:



 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/627/chicago-south-asian-protesters-call-out-the-fascist-modi-en.html

Chicago: South Asian Protesters Call Out the Fascist Modi

| revcom.us

 

Chanting “Modi, Hitler,” “Modi, Butcher,” and “Hindu, Muslim Brothers” (in Hindi) 200 plus protesters, almost all with roots in South Asia and primarily Muslim, rallied in Chicago Saturday. Calling for secularism and calling out fascism, a variety of people spoke from the stage.

Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club had been notified about the protest by one of the organizers who wrote: “Need of the Hour...is to speak out and register our Protest...As we all know that an undemocratic and unconstitutional law Citizenship Amendment Act has been brought into being by force; by force of the current ruling Fascist Hindutva BJP in India and we Indians irrespective of our individual Faith and Beliefs reject this unlawful law outright and pledge and take a solemn oath to not produce any document upon inquiry and in the process safeguard our Brethren in India, irrespective of who they are...and this to protect the right of every citizen of India and we aim to stand for this cause till the end...and this is our firm allegiance toward the constitution of India.”

Two of us from the Revolution Club attended and received a very warm welcome. We had decided it would be important to introduce participants to Bob Avakian. Every copy of BA’s official biography and What Is Fascism? pamphlet and 5-2-6 broadsheet we brought were distributed by the end of the protest along with many copies of Refuse Fascism’s plan for January. Engagements were brief in the midst of the protest. People were intrigued and surprised to learn we were organizing for an actual revolution here. Most people we spoke with said that Trump, too, was a fascist and many spoke of this as a horrific global phenomenon. Several people gave information to stay in touch.

See also:

Admit That the Waters Around You Have Grown

reprinted from Medium, by Coco Das

Read more

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/626/in-january-2020-join-the-outnow-movement-en.html

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

In January 2020: Join the #OUTNOW Movement
The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go NOW!

| revcom.us

 

Everyone with a conscience and heart for the people and the planet must confront that EVERY DAY THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME REMAINS IN POWER THREATENS THE FUTURE. We must face this hard truth. But, that is not enough, we must ACT ON IT.

There is a way to remove this whole regime—the #OUTNOW! Movement of sustained, nonviolent protest that doesn’t stop until the regime has been removed from power.

From now through January 2020, as the impeachment of Trump roils in the U.S. Senate, this movement must grow... each week making advances, becoming a growing force of all who feel that life here and around the world will be unbearable under the fascism the Trump/Pence regime is rapidly imposing.

All over the world, millions are carrying out mass struggle demanding regime change because they feel they cannot go on another day with what their rulers are doing.

Do we face a situation that demands anything less? Can anyone dispute that the Trump/Pence regime poses a catastrophic danger to humanity? Concentration camps on the border... environmental devastation accelerated... war, even nuclear war, casually threatened... white supremacist rule... 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 stripped away... THIS IS FASCISM UNFOLDING AND IN POWER.

For three years people have adjusted to tremendous crimes while chasing the wisps of illusory saviors: the Mueller report, the so-called Blue Wave, and finally an impeachment that doesn’t even include the regime’s full range of crimes and in which the Democrats have not pulled out all the stops to fight for conviction and removal. No one is coming to relieve us of our responsibility to stop the fascist America that the Trump/Pence regime is bringing.

But, there is our power, the power of the people acting with determination—not protest one day and go home. No, we must flood the streets—starting in our hundreds, soon becoming thousands, and ultimately millions—in nonviolent protest that refuses to stop until the whole Trump/Pence regime has been removed from power.

Together, we must make January a month of struggle to advance this great cause.

JANUARY 2020

Saturday, January 4: Come to a mass organizing meeting to dig into and plan how to develop the week-after-week movement of sustained mass protests involving a broad diversity of people demanding Trump/Pence Out NOW!

Volunteer to join #OUTNOW in DC during the Impeachment trial.

Email info@refusefascism.org to volunteer, to donate to cover expenses, to provide places for people to stay...

Saturday, January 11 mass protests—as the Impeachment hearings are in full swing.

January 18-20—Bringing the OUTNOW! program of continuing, sustained mass protest to demand #OUTNOW! to the Women’s Marches.

January 25 mass protests in cities across the country that mark a leap in sustained, nonviolent protest demanding OUTNOW!

From now through the end of January, #OUTNOW needs to grow—every weekend coming back, waking and fighting for and winning more and more people and forces to see this is the only way to stop this fascist regime—week after week building the strength and influence.

Together we must reverse the horrible situation where those who oppose everything Trump/Pence stand for are not acting, but becoming increasingly complicit—even as the fascists threaten civil war and Trump brays that he won’t leave office. We must find the ways together to challenge and inspire them to join us in stepping out of our comfort zones, overcoming fear and uncertainty, to struggle with all we’ve got so that the Trump/Pence Regime is removed from power.

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

RefuseFascism.org | @RefuseFascism | 917-407-1286

December 14, 2019: Andy Zee – How to struggle with people to get into the street to drive out Trump and Pence

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Refuse Fascism here.

 

 

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Watch: youtube.com/therevcoms

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/627/a-big-question-how-do-i-connect-up-with-the-revolution-club-if-i-dont-live-nearby-en.html

We received the following correspondence. We invite your comments and help in solving this problem.

A Big Question: How Do I Connect Up with the Revolution Club if I Don't Live Nearby?

| revcom.us

 

From a Tour member

We had a conversation with a young guy who was wrangling with the fact that it was very difficult for him to connect up with the Revolution Club. He says there are a lot of youths who would be interested in this who are having conversations online about the state of the world and how to change it but there’s no form for them to actually act on those ideas and get organized. He said in these chat rooms he sees youths getting into all kinds of radical ideas although they don’t offer real solutions. He said this was opposed to the fascists who put out ideas and they also offer a way to get organized into their movement.

He thought it was unfortunate that the only reason he knew about revcom was because a family member told him about it, and even now that he knows, it’s hard for him to be involved because he is from a next door county and has to come all the way down to LA to be a part of things like protest. He was wondering what he could do, but he was also posing that we need a forum to decentralize organization and provide an on-ramp for people. He suggested “discord,” which he says many youths know about. He said another family member (a computer programmer) could help set up some type of online program for revcom; he said if it was a revcom platform versus using “discord,” more youths would view it as “legit.” He thought this (discord-type thing) could serve as a place for people to talk about theory because when he tries to talk to people, they don’t always wanna hear it (and he was saying he would appreciate collectivity and conversation with others), and he thought this could be a place where we can put out a simple call to spread the word, where people can report back about how it went, and where people can unleash some creativity through the process of deepening their understanding. He was for allowing this to unfold versus carefully managing it. (He was going to write down his concrete ideas/suggestions and send to revcom.). He said the website currently is not so easy to navigate and he had a hard time finding the Rev Club and how to get linked up and what to do.

He is thoughtful, thinking about big questions, how does a situation like in Iran change from what it is to more of a revolutionary situation in the future? Do the communists there take up the new synthesis? I read to him the quote on “There is an urgent need for this new synthesis to be taken up, broadly, in this society and in the world as a whole” and about what’s represented by the new synthesis. And that we are fighting to bring forward a new stage of communist revolutions. This was in context of him asking whether others around the world are taking this up. And he thought we should promote those groups that are taking this up. He said he’s been showing clips of BA films to his friends. He said he read The New Communism online... and reading BA on fascism gave him a better understanding of why it could actually happen here. We told him that thinking and contributing thoughts, observations, (like he was doing) is part of what’s needed. You don’t have to come to protests in order to be a part of this (he said he would not be able to come to lots of these protests). He was asking about what does the Rev Club do. I had previously gotten into the 5-2-6 and POA. Gave him copy. We got into what it means to be part of this movement for rev... and the 2 things we need as BA put it... a mass movement for rev and a growing organized expression... more to be gotten into.

Anyway, that’s the basics of it.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/626/reflections-off-reading-hope-for-humanity-part-1-en.html

Reflections off Reading Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis

Updated | revcom.us

 

Editors note: The following are edited excerpts of reflections by members of the National Revolution Tour and the Revolution Club, sparked by their reading and engagement with Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis: Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism by Bob Avakian. The excerpts are in three parts.

Part 1

I mainly dedicated a lot of time to rereading the piece Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis and there’s a lot to get into, so these are just my initial thoughts as well as questions.

I think that there are many important things that are tightly packed into this piece, including how to approach the ways people are thinking in this moment with a fascist regime in power and acting commensurately with that. It really speaks to where the outlooks of individualism, American chauvinism, parasitism actually come from and are not just forms of “selfishness” that get in the way of people acting in the interest of humanity, but are outlooks that have a real material basis in reality to be taken up spontaneously because of the workings of capitalism-imperialism and how it conditions people to think. Also, if challenged in the right way it can be transformed and has to be seen as a problem of the revolution that we have to solve with the very masses of people who are influenced by it in one way or another in order to change it.

I was thinking more about what BA says: “[T]here’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.”

How do we unleash this hope in a mass way and have a situation where many people are starting to see that the world doesn’t have to be this way even in a basic sense? How does that relate to the two-way street and the role of the revolutionaries in this moment? I think I see a lot of this basic hope within the youth who are striking for the climate around the world, or the students on different campuses more recently protesting against Ann Coulter, Trump Jr., etc., and the people flooding the streets in different countries demanding the ouster of oppressive regimes. Where that goes is a question, but I think that’s where a lot of the potential for things to break open in society lies, and how these different outpourings and responses in society can have an impact on the people who are not acting, and is key in the process of making revolution. I feel like once this basic understanding comes into play, a whole lot of different things can come into question and to the fore even in a short period of time, but there’s a need to follow those basic convictions through because individualism/American chauvinism are actively working against even obtaining that basic understanding. But I think outlining where hope comes from on a scientific basis, and comparing it to faith/religion or lack of hope is important, because it allows people to compare and contrast what is to how things could be, and how there’s a basis to get there in reality, if that makes sense.

Not to jump around, but something I hadn’t thought of more deeply but struck me when rereading this piece was the section on individualism and “indifference.” And I think it’s because this outlook I’ve seen play out and taken up by people I know (including myself) who should know better, and has done great harm to people on an individual level but ultimately great harm to the masses of humanity. And the indifference can go easily unnoticed or unchallenged because it’s very much the norm, but makes it all the more poisonous, frustrating and dangerous. What I see and have seen in people is very concentrated in these two parts:

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.

I’ve experienced and seen a lot of this “I’m doing me,” and thought it was wrong and ugly, but didn’t actually walk it all the way through on what that kind of outlook is bound up with and what the actual effects are in reality when you act like that. People are individuals, but we don’t just exist as individuals and what we choose to do or not do has an effect on the people around us and on society as whole, even if we know it or not.

The thing around being forced into competition and conflict is still something I’m wrestling with, but I can see it in the ways that women are forced to compete with one another over men, or people ignoring the larger world on the basis of doing their own thing, meanwhile, the ability to function that way actually rests on the lives of human beings, especially living in America where everything we have or own is acquired through a global network of exploitation (food, clothes, etc.) And this kind of mentality really reminds me of the dominant social media culture/selfie culture where people live out their whole lives posting pictures of themselves or their brand on social media and it can be liked by thousands of people, who in turn those people are kind of living vicariously through these social media influencers because they want that kind of life and can’t have it, and gives them a way to be consumed with something really meaningless and not pay attention to the world.

* * * * *

There’s a lot to be gleaned from why it is that BA opens up this work, which deals a lot with the obstacles that stand in the way of masses of people acting in the interests of humanity, in a way that shatters the misguided and harmful notion that “things have always been this way” or, at least, “nothing can be done to change things.” BA provides some texture of “the times” of the Sixties, not just because it’s interesting in its own right (although it is), but as a way to illustrate how drastically different circumstances and people can be, and how quickly they can be transformed in a positive direction. This overall analysis and summation of this period, the key social forces and the thinking of the people, is done with a lot of materialism and historical sweep. The section which hits at religion illustrates an approach and method which is consistent with what he put forward in the Dialogue with Cornel West, and the “big arms” of a communist statesman. It’s really important to know why religion is such a mental shackle, what that means in general, and in particular for the struggle against oppression and for revolution and a better world.

The section on individualism deals with both the underlying philosophical and material underpinnings of the forms of individualism that are so dominant in the society and the world and their connection to the world-historic conjunction we face with ascendant, consolidating fascism and the largely passive, inactive masses of people who are effectively collaborating with and allowing this to happen by their inaction. The formulation of Pelosi’s “Three Fears” is particularly relevant for how we both orient people and how we “push on” the objective situation in this period, and without this analysis, masses of people will be left confused and led by one section of the bourgeoisie or another to explain (or explain away) the divisions at the top.

Similarly, the “A Question and A Challenge” on the real possibility of Trump either being re-elected or refusing to leave office, continues to be essential. We’ve used this “provocation” a lot in the course of mass work (although a lot more could be, and should be done going forward, as RefuseFascism/#OUTNOW continues towards another manifestation), and it has transformed some of how we’ve gone at working with people, in that it concentrates a good deal of method: putting the problems of the revolution (and what is, in this case, a BIG problem for the masses of humanity overall, whether they realize it or not) before the masses of people, and active social investigation as a pivot into organizing. This experience has been uneven, particularly when it comes to organizing, and it’s totally different from passive social investigation, which can be a tendency.

The question of individuality being given flight and people’s potential creativity and freedom being unleashed on a whole other level and with a different basis under Communism is something that really connected with me in a way this point hasn’t before. The way it’s put here was very illuminating.

[back to top]

Part 2

This shit really got my brain going... It so well stitched and consistent! BA is so awesome. Mostly I feel like I need to read it two or three more times though to be honest.

While reading Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis there were a lot of things that provoked me, but I felt profoundly struck by this part near the beginning where BA is talking about the relation between the movement for revolution and the immediate need to #OUTNOW the fascists. This is not a one-way street and should not be viewed in a linear mechanical sense, i.e. “first we build a mass movement to remove the Trump/Pence fascists and then turn our efforts to working for revolution.” He makes the point that we have to unite and mobilize masses of people from different perspectives, but that it will be extremely difficult to do this on the scale and with the determination that is needed to meet our objective if there are not greater numbers of people coming forward around the understanding that its both necessary to remove the regime, and the whole system from whose contradictions fascism is born. In particular, I was provoked by the this determination point. I started to wonder about what kind of determination will be required and how that determination will be forged and what kind of understanding is needed to fuel and sustain it. BA does make the point in this same paragraph that “[T]he 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.” I get the sense that hope and determination go together, and that the defining character of that hope is decisive. Will the determination of the people be forged by the kind of hope that is marked by any of the many strands of individualism? Or will the determination of the people be forged, influenced, and strengthened by the understanding, even a basic understanding at first, of why there is no permanent necessity for things to be as they are now? Hope on a scientific basis.

If the latter is to win out, the forces for revolution need to be thinking of strategic, creative, and tactical ways to wage the ideological battle for the emancipation of humanity now in that most crucial arena of Epistemology. Deepening our own understanding and thereby strengthening our own resolve while carrying this out in practice is crucial. Knowing is theoretical vitality, it gives us hope and fuels our determination, it can and must do the same very broadly for humanity and its future. BA makes this clear and emphasizes that it’s not just that Knowing about actual reality and grasping the essential character of the scientific method is crucial for academics, but it is vitally important for those who catch the worst hell under this fucked-up system here and all over the world; for all those who can and must become not just the backbone, but the driving force of a revolution to bend the bars and break the chains of all oppression and exploitation throughout the world.

To uproot a thing you have to have a firm grip. To uproot the parasite of capitalism-imperialism, you’re gonna need the most consistent, systematic, and comprehensive scientific approach to reality, the communist world outlook and method, and more specifically, the work that BA has been doing for decades. On this point of the communist world outlook, it’s actually what is needed. BA says, “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....” Marx and Engels for their part made the declaration over 150 years ago that the communist revolution, and emancipating principles, methods, and aims involves a radical rupture with the traditional property relations that enslave people, and a radical rupture with all the traditional ideas that reflect and reinforce those property relations. Understanding the radical difference between faith and the process of acquiring rational knowledge is of the utmost importance in carrying out the struggle to achieve these two sets of radical ruptures, and taking the next leap toward a whole new and liberating era in human history. All this has really provoked and inspired some ambition in me to dig deeper and fight harder in the arena of epistemology, to step up my game and deepen my understanding, to learn from and alongside my comrades and the masses, while fighting for and seeking out the truth no matter how unpopular it might be.

* * * * *

I have been thinking a lot about the title of the BA’s book: Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis and what the relationship is between hope and a scientific basis. And that there is a dialectical relationship between both understanding scientifically why the world doesn’t have to be this way and hope for something better. Hope in something real. Not religion or things that are unseen but hope for something that could be. I think about Outernational’s song, I got these dreams, when I sleep and I got these dreams that really could be. In a time where the future is in peril, the planet itself and a fascist regime on the brink of consolidating power—big questions of whether or not there is going to be the future, hope on scientific foundation is our biggest strength. If it were to take root, (and how does it take root?) it could be game changing.

I was struck by in the piece where he talks about the tremendous importance to people getting a basic understanding that there is no necessity of existing conditions and why that it is, and I wonder how do we bring that understanding to people, not just in a one-to-one way but to blocs of people and what’s the process people enter into to develop that understanding, not just in an academic sense, although theory is tremendously important for people. One thing that I have gotten a deeper appreciation is the relationship between the Enriched What Is To Be Doneism, putting the problems before people, and the struggle over how people arrive at what’s true and what they understand.

Part of this, is people themselves are then brought into a conscious process of getting at what’s true and I think we need a lot more of this—but also not applying EWITBD because you are trying to get people to think a certain way, but you are trying to get them to THINK CRITICALLY, also wanting to learn a lot from that process vs. we have our fixed way of doing things. This is a big part of what I applied with people who came to the meeting, asking them about the elections, how did they see the elections stopping this? What would happen if Trump won again? Why do they understand about what we are trying to do?

And then there are a lot of other important points BA is making about what we are confronting by, in particular in a country like this, where people whose outlook is self out, and the fact that, yes, people are individuals but they are that IN A larger context.

Some of us were re-watching that movie Human Flow by Ai Weiwei which everyone should see; it’s about the massive refugee crisis and it documents what people go through along with really bringing to life their humanity, and this hits you even harder, because these people aren’t just numbers, but as Rachael Corrie said, “They are us and we are them.” And then you think of people who are have literally spent their whole lives in these refugee camps with nothing, not electricity, no clean water, no clean sanitation, with disease and so forth, and all the gates and walls going up around the country, and then people want to say, well I’m just going to “do me” or follow my dreams. Completely oblivious not only to what is happening in the world, but actually part of why this shit has happened has been because of what YOUR country has done to these other countries in pursuit of its riches, the wars, the destruction to the environment. You want to think you are independent of this but you aren’t, you are part of this, your life, your goodies came from that, you are bound up in this network of exploitation, you didn’t choose it, but you exist in it so let’s all just stop pretending like we are just people following our dreams absent of that. This was one thing that had a big impact on me, when I went to Costa Rica and we stayed in a village, and we stayed in this really nice house with a pool and everything, and next door, people had huts with no electricity. And on my visit—I was seriously considering living there and being off the grid, not working anymore, but then I confronted, actually while I was there, and even more sharply—did I really want to be someone who turned my back on all those other people so that I could have my comforts. And so I decided against it.

This is also what I was thinking about in relation to the American Crime series. That people have no fucking idea what is happening around the world or what these imperialists have done and the murderous organization that the Democratic Party is. I’d like us to have a big chart with all the crimes of the Democratic Party and have people add on to it as a project, something visual that could be taken to different places where you say—how many people have to be massacred by an organization before you declare them a murderous organization... It’s amazing to me you can live in a country responsible for such massive atrocities—as Frederic Douglas said, “For revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

There’s a lot to say too about the BEB, the illusions of Painless Progress, & people striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and all this is driven by not what is in the interests of humanity, but by self, not paying attention to the larger dynamics shaping up in society and so forth. The thing that struck me in this piece too is how he identifies all the different expressions of how the individualism takes shape in opposition to a communist outlook—the narrowness of identify politics, the pseudo-cynicism, excusing your refusal to do anything and a persistent sense of entitlement, not wanting to confront the overt leap of fascism because it means you might have to do things differently.

There is really a lot of ugliness in people’s thinking, but all of this is important to compare and contrast, hitting at the American Chauvinism can break people out of that. Even when Colin Kaepernick sat down for the flag, what got cut out was the best thing about it—how he was challenging the narrative that America is the greatest country in the world, and instead what he was doing was “being patriotic” by trying to make this country live up to its true values... So I think there is a question around how do you hit at something that deep and what is the relationship between standing up, and going up against all the ways of thinking in society and bringing to life that fact that the world doesn’t have to be this way—we could have a world without all this white supremacy, exploitation, degradation of women, without the wars and borders and walls and tanks to enforce them, and how truly librating that would be. Something worth fighting and dying for & something worth sacrificing for.

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Part 3

When I first read this piece, the part that stood out to me was the one on the youth. How BA was posing questions or where is it that the youth are at and where he provided different observations from the past when he was younger & during the time of the ’60s to some obstacles the youth are going through now. He talked about how the feeling of “who are these people to run things” not coming from a self out or identity perspective but coming from the danger... to humanity or feeling like they are incapable of what is needed to be done. This point led me to pay more attention to art & culture among the youth from popular artists to memes, TikToks & YouTube content creators.

... Every generation has some bit of rebelliousness but the character matters & a lot of what is out there is in alignment with the points on individualism that he makes in this piece.

The other point that I mentioned earlier was the point on the infantilization of the youth and treating them as if they can’t or shouldn’t handle the reality of what’s going on. This made me reflect on my years of high school, some of our work with students, but more so how youth are treated in society overall. I’ve noticed that when talking to youth seriously and speaking plainly to the reality of what is going on, the more common reaction is retreating in to the comfort of that “infancy” or so to speak “I’m too young” or “I can’t vote” and other responses that correspond to this.

It’s very tricky because at the same time there is a major wave of youth stepping out around the climate crises & who are taking up the position of “you guys have fucked up the world and now it’s up to us to save it.” Yet this goes out of focus & that conscious recognition goes back to an oblivious & parasitic state. Modeled in new pop culture trends of alternative lifestyles or “groups” such as VSCO girls—who are eco-conscious but still live consumer lives with talk of saving turtles by having metal straws or e-girls & boys who are modern day “scene kids” that ridicule this lifestyle but seem to have a basic agreement that if anything the environment is being destroyed but who are still proceeding from ME ME ME I I I with their internet personas. I think this new piece not only poses a lot of questions but provides some concrete backing for the potential that there is to tap into what could be a turning point in (1) learning from people & (2) giving people hope on a scientific foundation.

I’ll have to read it again but I hope to write more thoughts on this in the future.

* * * * *

In general I think this is a very complete piece that breaks down some important fundamental theory, and at the same time is struggling big time to break down most of the dominant frameworks in American society, as well as the challenges posed to people who want to fight for revolution.

For example one very heavy insight is brought up when the author at the beginning is talking about the fight to oust fascism, and references Steve King’s comment which is very heavy and as he points out has a “demented insight” of what are some of the dynamics that are at play right now with the fascists and the opposition. BA rightly points out that such comment is full of aggression, but he goes further into acknowledging not only the righteousness of fighting and standing for different rights (in this case trans rights), but also the real limitations of outlook of those people in the right side of the divide: narrowness related to identity (and other things) and the fact that such a narrow approach doesn’t pay attention to the larger dynamics shaping society as a whole and that ultimately are going to be affecting and defining to a large degree what happens with those rights that people are fighting to defend. This is not just a great insight of BA, but is a real problem, because such a narrowness is the most widespread phenomena among those people opposing injustice or even when opposing Trump directly. This is also a model, which runs through the piece, of bringing to life the reality of what we are confronting, and leading the reader to understand why, for example, that approach is narrow without seeming careless about real particular injustices that are being carried out (and heightened).

Quoting the Why/How speech [Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution], there is a statement on how it would be more difficult to mobilize people around the demand of T/P out, at the scale and with the determination that is required if there are not greater numbers of people being brought forward with a revolutionary understanding. I thought when I first heard it that it was a profound statement which was true in part because having a revolutionary outlook would allow for people to more easily identify when the struggle is being hijacked (let’s say solutions that can lead to a resolution short of getting rid of the regime, for example replacing Trump with another fascist who is gonna carry out the same program). Or getting people demobilized given certain concessions short of getting rid of regime. Specially given the level of American chauvinism and illusion in painless progress, any kind of resistance could be corralled back into the workings of the system—like right now in Colombia, given precisely the illusion of painless progress, the uprising that is going on right now in the country is calling for certain demands short of the ousting of the fascist in power, and seeking to meet with the government to get to agreements and reforms- so having a growing core of revolutionaries would strengthen the OUTNOW movement..... Some examples that can be drawn for example have been the mobilizations we have seen across the world in the past months and years, in which the scale and determination of the struggle came more from the workings of the system itself which opened up people’s eyes on what is the role of the police, for example, or the role of the politicians, or the press, and stood up in growing and more determined resistance. (There is an example of mothers in Hong Kong defending their kids in a peaceful way have been attacked by police, which has lead them to more fiercely speak up and defend the protests in a moment when the state have been trying to criminalize them).

“Parasitism, American Chauvinism, and Individualism”

I think it is very important specially for people in the middle class everywhere and people living in imperialist countries in general, to wrangle and examine social phenomena they are part of, things they have been led to think, and to enable them to see why people’s minds are occupied with certain things. And this is a big part of what this section is about.

For example the selfie phenomena, the branding yourself, hedonism, acquisitiveness (as the ideological seal of parasitism), and the connection of those seemingly harmless ways of thinking with the parasitism of this society and the fact that whole sections are led into occupying their minds with those things, precisely because in a more globalized capitalism, the main economic activity of imperialist countries (and now middle class in Third World countries too) has to do with finance and financial speculation, or the high end of technology (and not so much the production of basic materials for life). So that is not just a matter of harmless interests, but those interests have been shaped precisely because of the position those countries/class occupy in the world economy. Let’s say for example, branding yourself, the self-creation of status, wouldn’t really be the first thing you would think of if you were a peasant trying to make ends meet every harvest cycle, and in fact, the peasants I have been around have no notion of branding themselves, in opposition to people with more middle-class aspirations. It doesn’t mean that this phenomena doesn’t affect people of all walks of life, precisely because imperialism is like a parasite reaching out to every corner, and in fact even people who don’t have a brand are branding themselves through social media, or just by bragging about things, because we are all forced into this relation of competition. But it is an important understanding that people’s preoccupations are very much shaped by the position they hold in the production chain (themselves or the positions the countries where they are born has). So all of that to say that part of fighting for people to break with the parasitic entitlement that comes spontaneously with living in an imperialist country or by being part of a privileged class, is to show people where those things come from and how disgustingly people get manipulated into accepting things as the natural order of things, when in reality there is a larger phenomena shaping all of that. That ideological part of the parasitism, as well as the material part (that society couldn’t function, or those ways of living couldn’t really be possible without the whole network of production and exploitation worldwide) is something I really appreciate from the piece, that through the whole of it, it is dealing with those more prominent phenomena that hold people into going along with the world as it is, as a fundamental struggle that HAS to be waged and popularized if we are to seek a real change. And again the author goes through it all in a way that is just remarkably accessible, giving living examples on how everyday customs/assumptions/etc. are closely linked with the structural organization of the society.

I also appreciate of this section the profound analysis of how this whole imperialism leads people to identify their interests, and status, with the dominant position of the U.S. This is very close to me also because I have seen that in my own family, that once moved to the U.S., see themselves as holders of more status, even as in this country they are being oppressed. And that seems as a general rule even for those in a worst situation, like the family who stayed, who also would see the ones living in the U.S. as better people and those staying in as of lesser status. It was very spontaneous, and if one thinks about it, it’s so disgusting to make an equivalence of the dominant position of a country that accomplished it by destroying other peoples lives, to make an equivalence of that to your own worth. Definitely comes down to getting in on the oppression, even as it is not a conscious decision. So this as a very literal example, but in the document BA struggles hard on the fact that silence is complicity and in the face of all the horrors that this country commits against the people of the world, knowing about it and being silenced is one of those forms of just getting in on the oppression.

“Identity Politics and Individualism”

This whole section in general is so important because is directly polemicizing against the most common and spontaneous paths that people take in dealing with oppression and how identity politics is shaping the terms of people’s opposition to the system and its horrors, terms that are all upside down and actually work counter to any attempt to get rid of oppression. To a great degree this section sets the criteria by which things should be judged and acted on (example with trauma phenomena, the cancel culture, etc...) and walks people thru some of the texture of why one path could lead to liberation and not the other one.

Identity politics can be seen as a liberating outlook because it upholds oppressed people, and I appreciated the quote from All Played Out, which is very enlightening: “there is the ‘politics of ‘identity’ that really comes back down to me.’” Reflecting on it, that outlook of identity politics doesn’t look into strategies for getting rid of oppression, but instead just seeks to provide with some gratification or some sort of “reparation” to oppressed individuals in the form of “letting them speak, giving them a platform, having a safe space, etc....” And leaving out of the picture the whole fight for full liberation of the whole section of people.

In characterizing some of the elements associated to identity politics, in speaking about the trauma, I can’t agree more about the extreme to what this is taking to, and how idealistic is to carve out safe spaces, or pretend that the world goes around anyone’s particular trauma. But I actually think that when speaking about where the horrors that generate trauma come from, and the need for people to come together with determination to put an end to the causes of it, ... is the fact that the real trauma, depending of its levels and specifications, does need to be treated in itself, with the right tools and particularities. [I feel] ... only being part of a collective to fight to end the source of the atrocities that traumatize people, is not enough (nor the only thing needed) for people to actually be enabled to contribute as much as they can to such a goal. So not turning inwards is fundamental in the approach to end the source of oppression, as individuals who need it, should undergo a process of healing according to their situation. I think that is a more dialectical-materialist take on it, and something important to acknowledge.

“Individualism and ‘Indifference’”

I also appreciate the quoting of Ruminations and Wranglings on the personal ties of people. Ruminations and Wrangling has been such an important work to be able to understand a lot of the social relations (and all the dynamics intertwined with them, as the 4 Alls) that people enter into, to demystify them and see them for what they are, a network of relations which appear independent of the dynamics of capitalism, but in reality, a network defined by those dynamics. So “rumination” has been particularly helpful in the struggle to break with petit bourgeois illusions. And I really appreciate how in this piece: “Hope On A Scientific Basis,” the point that Marx makes on the apparent independence of personal ties is analyzed in how it takes the form of individualism and the indifference towards other people as “I am just a person, my own interests, doing me” and being forced to be indifferent towards others because of the relations people are forced into (competition, conflict) I think that is correct, and even as that formulation by Marx has been extremely helpful, I hadn’t analyzed that in this way.

“Particular Interests and General Interests”

This comment is actually something that runs through the whole piece (and in general in the works of BA) which we still can have a hard time doing, and is the way in which he doesn’t dismisses people’s fight against different forms of discrimination or exploitation, but he is able to draw out even as those fights are important, and shouldn’t be opposed, they don’t deal with the essence of what the problem is, and how they sometimes (like putting women in positions of power given their discrimination) end up reinforcing the relations of oppression. And he just breaks it down, the fundamental truth that other than revolution, everything else is BS, but done in a way in which people are led to understand why is that so. And a lot of why I think he is able to do that, is because he departs from reality, and not from dogma, from investigating and probing reality and not making “our truth” fit the real world. I think this is something we as a movement need to exercise more and develop so that it is how we approach things consistently.

I also want to highlight after the brief but in depth analysis of the forces for revolution, there is a challenge that get posed, as to what is it we need to do now, to do what is in the interest of humanity “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.” And that it is our responsibility, the responsibility of those who have come to a scientific understanding of the problem and solution, to go and wage that tremendous struggle among people. And this is really a call to go wage the necessary struggle, which means to go in the middle of where all the frameworks that keep people from understanding the world as is are taking hold, to get in the mix of things and fight to bust people off their frameworks. A positive example of this is the intervention done at the FTP rally in NYC. And we must be full energized and full confident that that is what we are supposed to be doing, and fight to do it even better, develop better forms to inspire more people, to challenge more people... and if there has been any kind of hesitation because of people’s response to our challenges, etc., then we have to consistently go back to this point that in order for this rev to be taken up by masses of people, we have to wage a tremendous struggle against all the dominant ways of thinking, and that is what would give us the confidence and the determination to go up against whatever odds we confront. Our slogan of “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution” has real meaning.

There is much more to say, about the rest of the piece, but given time I won’t be able to write it down, but I am looking forward to wrangling collectively about the implications and significance of the content of this piece, as well as the transformations we can make using it as part of the tools to inform our work, outlook, and method.

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Table of Contents

Trailer for the film REVOLUTION AND RELIGION: The Fight for Emancipation and the Role of Religion: A Dialogue Between CORNEL WEST & BOB AVAKIAN

See the complete film here.

The following is taken from the talk
Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis:
Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism

by Bob Avakian

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of “Painless Progress”

With a Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

Read more

DOWNLOAD PDF for printing 5.5x8.5" brochure
DOWNLOAD PDF for printing 8.5x11 pamphlet

Also available in Spanish

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

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 by Bob Avakian in 2009.

Read more

Breakthroughs —

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

Updated prepublication PDF, November, 2019

 

Read or download (searchable PDF)

Now also available in Spanish

 

 

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Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/627/impeachment-rally-in-chicago-en.html

From a member of the Revolution Club, Chicago

Unity and Struggle (and a Counter-Revolutionary Attack) at the Impeachment Rally in Chicago

| revcom.us

 

On the night before the historic impeachment vote, thousands of people came out into the streets all over the country expressing their anger and anguish of three years of the Trump/Pence nightmare, demonstrating and marching with a desire to get Trump out as soon as possible. There was also a celebratory aspect to these marches, as the Democrats had by that point announced that they had the votes. The impeachment of Trump is indeed a good thing and these protests were very important.

In retrospect, I think we did not fully grasp how important it was that Trump was actually being impeached—the significance of this extraordinary event—and that this was something to join people in celebrating, even as we were struggling to push it higher. Some things we would no doubt have done differently on the basis of such an understanding. At the same time, there is and will be a need to struggle over the road forward and what it will take to drive out this regime

In several cities, on the basis of forging broad unity to drive out the regime now, Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club went to take part in these protests to unite with and strengthen this outpouring and to struggle: to challenge people with the reality we confront of a fascist regime in power and the need to not rely on the norms that this regime is ripping up, but instead to drive out this regime ourselves by mass sustained nonviolent protest.

In addition, the Revolution Club in particular was challenging people to confront why relying on the Democrats leads to collaboration with fascism and to lift their sights to actual revolution to uproot this whole system and get introduced to the leadership of Bob Avakian and the new communism he’s developed. And the point of all of this was not only to challenge how people are thinking, but on that basis to organize them and bring them into taking responsibility to challenge and organize others.

In Chicago, Refuse Fascism had a big beautiful banner that said “Trump/Pence Out Now!” and lots of orange signs on sticks that circulated through the crowd and were taken up by many, with the same message as the banner and an additional message on the back, “Take to the Streets and Stay!” The Revolution Club in Chicago came as a separate contingent, in Revolution—Nothing Less! T-shirts and passing out the flyer, “The Democrats Are Showing You That They Will NOT Oust Trump and the Regime He Heads... What Will YOU Do?” which included the Points of Attention for the Revolution.

Before the rally started, the Revolution Club posted up in the middle of the plaza with a loudspeaker and began talking with the people arriving. Fairly quickly a crowd gathered around the Club of about 70 people listening intently. Some were nodding, many were just taking it in. Then a woman walked up with a sign that said “impeach” and waved it in front of the Revolution Club members. This helped to turn this scene into a discussion and debate.

The Revolution Club member on the mic asked how impeaching on its own would be able to remove Trump when the fascist Republican party controls the Senate? The woman replied on the mic, “we will protest at the offices of every Republican and let them know we are going to vote them out.” The Revolution Club member talked about how Trump and the fascist party are threatening not to leave office at all and mobilizing their fascist base in terms of civil war, including in Trump’s letter to Pelosi that day.

A man yelled out that this is America, not Germany, and that if Trump doesn’t leave office, we’ll deal with that then. The Revolution Club member talked about how Nazi Germany got to be that way. It wasn’t all at once. She went on to describe what is now happening in America: immigrants in concentration camps on the border, children dying there, doctors who show up with vaccines are arrested. And what are Americans doing? Waiting for the Democrats who aren’t even calling this fascism and even while impeaching Trump, are making deals with him that allow these crimes to go further, waiting for 2020. Nazi Germany developed over several years before the mass slaughter, years of dehumanizing groups of people, years of people getting accustomed to it. And in fact, that is what is now happening here. A woman yelled out, “She’s right!”

The man who had spoken then said something like communism is not welcome here. The Club member said something about proceeding from the interests of humanity, not America First. And in response he said, “Yes, America First!” The Revolution Club member put this back to the crowd: We are saying Humanity First and this person is saying America First, where do you stand? If you agree with America First, repeat it after me when I say it. She said “America First” and the crowd was silent. She said if you agree with “Humanity First” repeat that when I say it. She said, “Humanity First” and the whole crowd responded with “Humanity First,” which she then led people to chant a few times. Then she encouraged people to follow that through, to act on that, to take up the mission of #OutNow and Refuse Fascism, to find out about and get with the Revolution Club. People took flyers and talked with Revolution Club members and Refuse Fascism organizers.

Soon afterwards, the main rally began. After a couple speakers, there was music and a somewhat celebratory atmosphere. The Revolution Club, which was at the back end of the rally of about a thousand people, began speaking again, to put the challenge to people who were still arriving and keep working on the contradictions. This time, an incensed hater came up to scream at us, and a handful of like-minded people were drawn and emboldened by this to do the same. Others watched and listened. The Club worked to continue to open up substantive debate, putting people on the mic who had things to say.

The things that were put forward substantively are important to note and learn from. There was an argument that the protests happening in places like Hong Kong and Chile are much more radical than what people are ready to do here or need to do here. This went along with arguments that we don’t need to do that kind of protest in America because 1) it’s not that bad here and 2) we have the power to vote them out. One person angrily said that the Democrats don’t need to call this regime fascist because that doesn’t matter to 80 percent of the voters and the Democrats need to get elected.

All of this reflected a huge, dangerous blind spot: refusing to look at what is already happening to people and moving to get worse, and the fact that the norms people keep reaching for are being ripped up in front of their faces (not to mention those norms were no good to begin with). So much of this is what Bob Avakian is dealing with in his new talk, Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis: Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism.

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.”

This same kind of thinking also went into a situation where even though many people were listening and engaging—and quite a few having substantive agreement with—what the Revolution Club was saying, at the same time, there was a bad dynamic that those people weren’t stepping forward to stand with the Club and help back off the unprincipled verbal attacks. This in fact allowed space for a physical attack where someone came up to go after the person on the microphone and was able to knock down two members of the Revolution Club who were standing with her. Another member of the Club later summed up that he had been a bit off guard because we weren’t out protesting against fascists, he didn’t expect something like this at an impeachment rally.

It is unclear what was the motive behind the vitriol of the people who were yelling in our faces, and even less clear who the person was that took the opportunity to carry out a physical attack. But some features of the verbal barrage were: a person who seemed very angry that we were putting forward a message that was contradictory to the official theme of the rally and tried to make it seem as if this was a selfish thing for us to do; two people who said we were messing up the “energy” and “ruining it for everyone,” and comments floating around about us being communists and talking about revolution. One person started yelling at us “you are the problem” and got a few others to yell that. A Club member sharply talked about what the fascist regime is doing to people and said, “We are the problem? Are we doing that?” One person said no and backed off. The Club member asked another if they hate us more than the fascists and they said, “Yes, I do!”

After the physical attack, the people yelling backed off. We said some things about how fucked up it was that this happened and continued to challenge people about what are they willing to accept and go along with vs. what is needed and what we can do to change things. Then, Refuse Fascism stepped forward on the other side of the rally to lead people to march and we and others near us joined in. Several people came up to us to say they agreed with what we were saying and one apologized for not stepping forward to stand with us. There was then a lively march to Trump Tower followed by some comments by Refuse Fascism and more contention over what is the way forward.

When the Revolution Club summed up together afterwards, one thing some people pointed out was how tightly some people are holding on to the idea that the only realistic solution is to vote, and how defensive they are when challenged about this. I felt that the whole experience showed: 1) the importance of really challenging people with substance and opening up mass discussion and debate as part of really struggling for people to change their thinking, and in opening this up people can and do change their thinking even if not all at once; 2) we need to continue to model and explicitly fight for a movement where people are acting on the interests of humanity because it matters, and acting with principle even when there are big and sharp disagreements, and where this sets a tone that unprincipled attacks and certainly physical attacks will not be tolerated; 3) people in and around the Revolution Club need to be vigilant in protecting those who are taking responsibility to lead—not being provoked, being a serious force—things will continue to sharpen up and it is important we recognize that leaders will be targeted by people intending to do harm and we should adhere to standards that don’t make it easy for that to happen; and 4) I feel we need to do better at drawing forward and involving on the spot the people who are more agreeing with what we are saying, in ways that turn that into a dynamic force that is then having larger impact even through the course of one demonstration and forging something that we’re able to build off of going forward.

WHAT IS FASCISM

Statements from Bob Avakian

Read more

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/626/houston-some-experience-raising-funds-with-the-revolution-tour-cards-en.html

Houston: Some Experience Raising Funds with the Revolution Tour Cards

| revcom.us

 

From a reader:

Over the past 10 days I have raised $200 for the Revolution Tour by going out broadly and centering my efforts around the New Year’s cards. I’ve taken them to people on my job, helped set up a table in front of a friendly Central American restaurant, and gotten sets to a few people whose support for this revolution has strengthened especially through seeing the work of the Tour. These artistic cards themselves provide us with a great opportunity.

I was excited to get the cards out at work in the midst of all the other fundraising going on. And it was striking how the powerful images of the actions the Tour has taken captured people’s sentiments for resistance and brought them to contribute, even while most do not at all consider themselves revolutionary or revolutionary-minded. Like the Black woman who said she was broke, but in looking though the cards immediately wanted the one about immigrants. “Why?” She pointed to the banner saying “it speaks to what I feel in my heart.” One of several women who bought the card of the young women in blood-soaked pants taking action at Les Miz said that the card “took me through a range of emotions, and almost brought me to tears. It took me back to when I was seven or eight and read in one of my mother’s magazines about women using coat hangers. At the time I couldn’t understand why they would want to take their own lives. But now that I am older—I’ve seen a lot, and I understand...” Two other women (one Black; one Chicana) got the card showing the Tour burning the flag in front of the White House. “It’s a very strong statement and I like it—I think people should have the right to do it!,” said one of them.

A Black man was really taken by the artistry of the image’s—“the framing of the pictures and the powerful emotions captured,” and donated $20. A while back he had watched a cut of BA’s talk The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!..., and thinks a revolution would bring total chaos, but is obviously being challenged by what this movement for revolution is doing. An attorney in the building who donated for a set, “I have friends who would like these.” Most people didn’t want to hold onto the leaflets I handed them—the initial message from the Tour and the POAs or the article on fundraising. But $5 is not a lot to give. And the total message of the cards was more than a little attractive for these folks: “In the new year, Let’s fight for a New World.”

Our table in front of a Salvadoran restaurant was also an important opportunity to reach people about the Tour and draw their support and contributions. Among those who donated were a small but significant subsection of young working people and couples drawn to the bold call for revolution in the message of the Tour. While the cards themselves didn’t have an immediate impact as people came and went with their families or stopped for a quick bite to eat on their way to work, when they were able to focus for a minute on some of the pictures there were smiles of appreciation or moments of thoughtfulness on which card they would chose and for whom. One thing that was both important to some and controversial as well was the need for leadership and the goal of the Tour to bring forward and organize thousands of new revolutionary leaders. We made sure to get the card for the Why We Need An Actual Revolution film into these folks' hands and let them know about the Spanish transcript as well.

There is more work to be done in reaching back to people who supported our International Fundraising Dinner, especially those who provided the international dishes for that feast. But at least several people who have supported this revolution for a while are taking the New Years cards to their friends with hopes of inspiring support for the revolution among them.

$33,000 Is Needed by January 1

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

You can also make this a monthly donation


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

Holiday Fundraising for the Revolution Tour—Greeting Cards and More!

Read more

 

Each revolutionary greeting card features a picture of the Tour out in the world, a greeting for the New Year, and a quote from Bob Avakian. These are the pictures:


1. Revolution Tour Debut in Los Angeles, June 8, 2019


2. Standing up for abortion rights at a performance of Les Misérables in Los Angeles


3. Shutting Down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, August 8, 2019


4. At the Climate March in NYC, September 23, 2019


5. Revolution Club Chicago in Louisiana at the #SlaveRebellionReenactment


6. July 4, 2019, burning the U.S. flag in front of the White House

Instructions for producing the revolutionary greeting cards

Six downloadable greeting cards AVAILABLE NOW

Read more / download all six greeting cards

Read instructions for making the cards

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/625/make-plans-to-raise-the-5304-still-needed-by-january-1-en.html

Make Plans to Raise the $1,695 Still Needed by January 1st for the National Revolution Tour

| revcom.us

 

The National Get Organized for An ACTUAL Revolution Tour is inspiring people around the country as it goes out to build a movement for revolution. Taking out its message: “You Think You’re Woke... But You’re Sleepwalking Through a Nightmare—This System Cannot Be Reformed, It Must Be Overthrown,” Tour members are fighting for a whole new world free of exploitation and oppression, and living that morality today. Coming from that place they are also challenging others to join into and build the #OUTNOW movement to mobilize millions into the street to drive the fascist Trump/Pence regime from power.

Funds are needed to sustain their basic needs, produce materials and enable them to travel to wherever they are most needed. Developing the financial base for the Tour is an important part of organizing forces for this revolution. Donate now.

In the New Year... Let’s Fight for A New World!

Donate to and Sustain the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour

Holiday Fundraising for the Revolution Tour—Greeting Cards and More!

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Six downloadable greeting cards AVAILABLE NOW

Read more / download all six greeting cards

Read instructions for making the cards

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/625/bob-avakian-statements-on-what-is-fascism-en.html

WHAT IS FASCISM

Statements from Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

Editors’ note: Besides the two-paragraph statement “What IS Fascism* that regularly appears on revcom.us, and along with the article by Bob Avakian (BA) that contrasts fascists and communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism (“Fascists and Communists: Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart”), the following excerpts from recent works by BA are relevant and helpful in getting a basic sense of what fascism is and what are some of its main features, in general and specifically as embodied in the Trump/Pence regime. Also, although its outlook differs in some significant aspects from that of the new communism, the 2005 speech by African-American theologian Hubert Locke (“Reflections on Pacific School of Religion’s Response to the Religious Right”), which was originally posted on revcom.us on January 29, 2006, and reposted on October 7, 2019, contains some very valuable and insightful analysis of fascism, and in particular Christian Fascism.

We are confronted by—we are now being ruled by—a fascist regime: relentlessly assaulting civil rights and liberties and openly promoting bigotry and inequality; acting with callous disregard or cold-blooded malice toward those they consider inferior and a drain or stain on the country; on a mission to deny health care to millions who will suffer and many who will die without it; crudely degrading women, as objects of plunder, breeders of children without the right to abortion or birth control, subordinate to husbands and men in general; defying the science of climate change, attacking the science of evolution, and repudiating the scientific method overall; a regime brandishing an arsenal of mass destruction and threatening nuclear war; intensifying state terror against Muslims, immigrants, and people in the inner cities; unleashing and giving encouragement and support to brutal thugs spewing vile “America First,” white supremacist, male-supremacist, and anti-LGBT venom—a regime that boasts of all this and declares its intention to do even worse.

THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!
In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America,
A Better World 
IS Possible
.
The film of this talk by BA, given in October 2017,
is available at revcom.us.

And then there are the ruling class “news media.” There are media, like Fox (I can hardly say it) “News,” that represent the fascist section of the ruling class—which aims to impose undisguised capitalist dictatorship without the rule of law, with open hostility toward other sections of the ruling class itself, that these fascists regard as enemies, and vicious repression against immigrants, Black people, Muslims, women, and LGBT people—all those whose degradation and criminalization is essential for the fascist program of “making America great again.” Lying, systematically distorting reality, is a function and mission of these media.

Why We Need An Actual Revolution
And How We Can Really Make Revolution
.
The film and the text of this speech by BA,
given in the summer of 2018,
are available at revcom.us.

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.”

Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis—
Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism
.
A prepublication copy of this talk by BA is available at revcom.us.

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.

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!

Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis—
Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism
.
A prepublication copy of this talk by BA is available at revcom.us.

Stewart further summarizes Lang’s views this way: “Modern fundamentalism, like fascism in earlier times, he says, involves a strong feeling of persecution, typically at the hands of godless liberals or a religious ‘other’; the belief that one belongs to a pure race or national group that is responsible for past greatness, suffers unjust oppression in the present, and is the rightful ruler of the world; the impulse to submit unquestioningly to absolute authority; and the relentless drive for power and control. It is, he says, a kind of supremacist movement, with religion rather than race at its core.”

And there is this chilling statement by Lang:

People have no idea it’s going on....

What does it mean that the conservative church that’s growing in America is an end-times church? What does it mean that we are raising a generation of children to believe that they are the last generation? What is going to happen if we keep on telling them, “Don’t care about the environment, and bring on the war, because we’re going to be lifted out of here, and you can forget about loving your neighbors, because they’re just going to get blown away?”

So, that is the insight of someone very familiar with these Christian fascists. And the fact is that in this country, with its whole history of genocide, slavery and racism, any form of fascism, including one basing itself on “Christian supremacy”—any urge to “restore past greatness”—cannot help but be bound together with white supremacy.

THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!
In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America,
A Better World 
IS Possible
.

† Stewart refers to Katherine Stewart, author of The Good News Club, The Christian Right's Stealth Assault on America's Children  [back]

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

THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!
In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America,
A Better World 
IS Possible
.


* What Is Fascism?

Fascism is the exercise of blatant dictatorship by the bourgeois (capitalist-imperialist) class, ruling through reliance on open terror and violence, trampling on what are supposed to be civil and legal rights, wielding the power of the state, and mobilizing organized groups of fanatical thugs, to commit atrocities against masses of people, particularly groups of people identified as “enemies,” “undesirables,” or “dangers to society.”

At the same time—and this can be seen through studying the examples of Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini—while it will likely move quickly to enforce certain repressive measures in consolidating its rule, a fascist regime is also likely to implement its program overall through a series of stages and even attempt at different points to reassure the people, or certain groups among the people, that they will escape the horrors—if they quietly go along and do not protest or resist while others are being terrorized and targeted for repression, deportation, “conversion,” prison, or execution.  [back]

Download these quotes as a pamphlet to print and distribute:

 

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

See also:

Fascists and Communists: Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart

by Bob Avakian

Read more

NOW AVAILABLE: PDF for printing

See also:

Reflections on Pacific School of Religion's Response to the Religious Right

by Dr. Hubert Locke

Reposted July 3, 2017. Originally posted January 29, 2006

Read more

 

 

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Watch: youtube.com/therevcoms

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/627/american-crimes-christmas-2019-edition.html

U.S. Capitalism-Imperialism and the Holidays

| revcom.us

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

(See "3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better.")

Confront the actual history of this country in these and other installments of the American Crime series.

 

 

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

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/574/american-crime-33-1944-lynching-of-15-year-old-willie-james-howard-en.html

American Crime

Case #33: The 1944 Lynching of 15-Year-Old Willie James Howard for Writing a Christmas Card to a White Girl

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

In December 1943, Willie James Howard, a 15-year-old Black youth, was in the 10th grade in Live Oak, Florida, and working at the local dime store. For Christmas, Willie James gave cards to all his co-workers, including a 15-year-old white girl named Cynthia Goff. He signed the card to Cynthia “with L.”

Apparently, Willie James heard that Cynthia was upset about receiving the card. On New Year’s Day, he delivered a second note to explain, saying, “I know you don’t think much of our kind but we don’t hate you all. We want to be your friends but you won’t let us... I wish this was [a] northern state. I guess you call me fresh. Write an[d] tell me what you think of me good or bad... I love your name. I love your voice, for a S.H. [sweetheart] you are my choice.”

Cynthia showed the note to her father, A. Phillip Goff, a former state legislator. On January 2, Goff and two other white men, S.B. McCullers and Reg H. Scott, drove up to Willie James Howard’s house. Willie’s father, James, had left for work at the lumber company. Willie’s mother, Lula, said in an affidavit she provided later that when her son came home, Goff grabbed him and ordered him to come along. According to Lula Howard, “I tried to pull him away, and also kept pleading and asking what Willie had done. By this time Mr. Goff had pulled a revolver out from somewhere on his person and leveled it at me. He dragged Willie out to the car, got in with the other white men, and drove off....”

The three white men with their young captive then drove to where Willie’s father, James Howard, was working and forced him into the car as well. Then Goff and his friends drove Willie James and his father to the banks of the Suwannee River. According to testimony that James Howard gave to an attorney later, Goff and others tied Willie’s hands and feet and forced him to stand at the edge of the water. Then the white men gave Willie a “choice”—be shot to death, or jump into the river. Willie, with his hands and feet bound, jumped into the cold waters of the Suwannee and drowned.

The next morning, the town’s Black undertaker was told by the sheriff to retrieve Willie James Howard’s body from the river. The body was immediately buried in an unmarked grave at the “coloreds only” Eastside Cemetery. Goff gave a statement to the sheriff denying he and his two friends had murdered the Black youth.

Fearing for their lives, James and Lula Howard and their family fled from Live Oak and moved to Orlando a few days after Willie James was lynched. A woman who was in Live Oak at the time recalled decades later, “We found out at school the next day. It was so scary, but that was in the 1940s. We thought the KKK were coming to get the rest of us.”

An attorney visiting Live Oak at the time heard about the lynching and brought it to the attention of the NAACP. The NAACP demanded that Florida Governor Spessard Holland open a full investigation.

The grand jury did not return any indictments against Goff and his accomplices. The U.S. Justice Department refused to intervene. No one was ever punished for the lynching of 15-year-old Willie James Howard.

THE CRIMINALS

A. Phillip Goff, a former Florida state legislator, S.B. McCullers, and Reg H. Scott, the three white men who carried out the lynching.

The Live Oak grand jury, which issued no indictments for the lynching of Willie James Howard.

Florida Governor Spessard Holland, who replied to NAACP’s demand for a full investigation into the lynching of Willie James Howard by sending them Goff’s denial of any responsibility and warning of “particular difficulties involved where there will be testimony of three white men and probably the girl against the testimony of one Negro man.”

U.S. Justice Department, which declined to act on demands for investigation and charges in the lynching of Willie James Howard.

THE ALIBI

Phillip Goff admitted he and his friends had taken Willie James and his father to the banks of the river and tied up the youth’s feet. He claimed they wanted the father to whip his son “for his misdeed,” writing the letter to Goff’s daughter. But, Goff said, the boy jumped into the river to avoid a whipping. In other words, this lyncher claimed that Willie James Howard had killed himself.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

The lynching of Willie James Howard and thousands of others are part of the reality of American society. Even after literal slavery was ended through the Civil War, the horrors of oppression continued for Black people in new forms—and lynching and its effects were a certain concentration of what the masses of African-Americans faced. For decades under the overt segregation known as Jim Crow in the South, every Black person there faced the threat that at any time they could be brutally murdered for anything they did that might “offend” some white people—or for nothing at all except the color of their skin—and nothing would happen to their killers. This was a key way that white supremacy and the subjugation of Black people were enforced.

It is not just that the whites who carried out these lynchings were racist monsters. These murders and other atrocities were rooted in, and served to keep in place, a whole system in this country. This is a system that could not have existed without first slavery and then near-slavery of millions of Black people—a system with white supremacy built into its foundations. And segregation of and discrimination against Black and other oppressed people continue down to today, from jobs and education to housing, health care, and all parts of society—and this continues to be backed up by official and unofficial violence and brutality.

In Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, the Equal Justice Initiative documents over 4,000 lynchings of Black people between 1877 and 1950 in just 12 Southern states. This number represents only the number of known lynching deaths—many, perhaps even most, went unreported or were covered up.

The murder of 15-year-old Willie James Howard took place 11 years before the torture and lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Willie James was lynched by white men outraged at a Black youth writing a Christmas card to a white girl. Emmett was lynched by white men outraged at a Black youth whistling at a white woman.

 

Sources:

* “Willie James Howard Lynching,” from the website for the PBS program Freedom Never Dies.

* “Willie James Howard,” Northeastern University School of Law Civil Rights and Restorative Project.

* “60 years later, a cry for justice in Fla. killing: Black teen who liked white girl was taken at gunpoint and drowned in Suwannee River,” by Audra D.S. Burch, Baltimore Sun,December 10, 2006.

* “Before Emmett Till’s Death, Willie James Howard, 15, Was Murdered in Fla,” by Tonyaa J. Weathersbee, The Root,August 29, 2015.

* “Episode 7: Christmas Lynchings,” The Color Line Murders podcast.

* “Three Christmas Day Lynchings,” thiscruelwar.com.

* Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, the Equal Justice Initiative.

* “Emmett Till and Lynchings, Past and Present,” revcom.us, an excerpt from the 2003 talk, Revolution: Why It’s Necessary, Why It’s Possible, What It’s All About, by Bob Avakian.

 

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

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

Bob Avakian: "Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence"

An excerpt from REVOLUTION: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. Watch the whole talk at revolutiontalk.net.

Other Christmastime Lynchings

According to the website thiscruelwar.com, there were more than 70 lynchings of Black people in the week of December 19 to 25, from 1877 to 1950. As the compiler of the list notes, this number is incomplete because of unreported lynchings and inadequate databases.

Among the lynchings that took place on Christmas Day itself are the following:

* 1901, Prairie Blossom, Texas—J.N. McClinton, a Black minister and farmer, shot to death on the doorway of his own home.

* 1906, Kemper County, Mississippi—After a police officer was killed shortly before Christmas, George Simpson, a Black man alleged to be the suspect, was lynched. A white mob then lynched Simpson’s two sons. The murders of Black people by the racist posses continued, including the lynching of Colvin Nicholson on Christmas, described by a newspaper account at the time as “one of the most brutal, which has occurred since the days of Reconstruction.”

* 1928, Jackson, Louisiana—In an alleged dispute over a hunting dog belonging to the owner of a plantation, a group of white men attacked the family of Bob Taylor, a Black tenant on the plantation. They murdered Taylor’s 15-year-old and 20-year-old daughters and wounded another daughter and their mother.

 

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

American Crime

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

| revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

THE CRIME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE CRIMINALS

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

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

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

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

THE ALIBI

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

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

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

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

Sources

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

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

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

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

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


Deslonde Revolt, 1811. Artist unknown


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


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


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

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

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

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

—Bob Avakian

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

American Crime

Case #72: Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890

November 21, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

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

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

Spotted Elk
Spotted Elk lying dead at Wounded Knee

Ghost Dance
Depiction of a Ghost Dance.

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

The Crime:

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

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

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

A Lakota survivor, American Horse, described the massacre:

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

There was a woman with an infant in her arms who was killed as she almost touched the flag of truce.... Right near the flag of truce a mother was shot down with her infant; the child not knowing that its mother was dead was still nursing, and that especially was a very sad sight. The women as they were fleeing with their babes were killed together, shot right through, and the women who were very heavy with child were also killed. ... [A]fter most all of them had been killed a cry was made that all those who were not killed [or] wounded should come forth and they would be safe. Little boys who were not wounded came out of their places of refuge, and as soon as they came in sight a number of soldiers surrounded them and butchered them there.

“The soldiers lost 25 dead and 39 wounded, most of them killed by their own bullets or shrapnel,” Dee Brown wrote in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. “A detail of soldiers went over the Wounded Knee battlefield, gathering up Indians still alive and loading them in wagons. As it was apparent by the end of the day that a blizzard was approaching, the dead Indians were left where they had fallen.”

After a few days, and a freezing blizzard, the dead became frozen in grotesque shapes. Then these Lakota were buried in mass graves. At least one was buried alive.

President Benjamin Harrison awarded 20 soldiers Medals of Honor, the U.S.’s highest military distinction, to the butchers of the 7th Cavalry. This was the most ever awarded for a single battle in American history, before or since. Despite protests and demands, those medals have never been rescinded.

The Criminals:

U.S. President Benjamin Harrison: In late November 1890, President Benjamin Harrison ordered federal troops into South Dakota in the largest military mobilization since the Civil War. Considering the Lakota as “naturally warlike and turbulent,” he “placed at the disposal of General Miles, commanding the Division of the Missouri, all such forces as were thought by him to be required.”

The War Department of the U.S.

General Nelson A. Miles: Miles played a leading role in nearly all of the U.S. Army’s campaigns against the American Indian tribes of the Great Plains. During 1874-1875, he led the attacks on the Kiowa, Comanche, and the Southern Cheyenne. During 1876-1877, he forced the Lakota and their allies onto reservations.

In 1890, Miles aimed to crush any further resistance by the Lakota on their reservations. Miles and others in the U.S. government worried that this resistance was taking the form of the “Ghost Dance,” a group spiritual dance taken up by many Lakota in hopes it would reunite them with the spirits of their dead; bring the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf; make the white colonists leave; and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Indian peoples throughout the region. While he did not directly order the massacre, Miles’ overall campaign to subdue the Lakota led to the slaughter at Wounded Knee.

Major Samuel Whiteside and Colonel James W. Forsyth: Carried out the bloodthirsty massacre at Wounded Knee.

       

The Alibi: The U.S. government had long justified its murderous plans to force Native Americans, including the Lakota, off their traditional lands and onto reservations by the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny.” This was the claim that God—or “Providence”—supported the territorial expansion of the United States. (This included the claim that white people and Western Christianity and civilization were inherently superior to the “heathen” Native Americans.)

In 1890, the public excuse given for the campaign against the Lakota was that the rise and spread of the Ghost Dance would lead to a violent outbreak by the Lakota. Journalists who accompanied the federal troops sent to South Dakota wrote inflammatory articles to spread fear among the whites who had settled on Lakota land, which led to hysteria by 1890.

The Actual Motive:

In reality, the Ghost Dance was a pacifist movement.

A former agent, Valentine McGillycuddy, ridiculed the panic that overcame the agencies, saying: “If the Seventh-Day Adventists prepare the ascension robes for the Second Coming of the Savior, the United States Army is not put in motion to prevent them. Why should not the Indians have the same privilege? If the troops remain, trouble is sure to come.”

But more to the point, the massacre at Wounded Knee was meant to be the final end to any kind of resistance by Native peoples—the last episode in the bloody history of the U.S government’s genocide of the Lakota. The U.S. government wanted to consolidate its rule over the original inhabitants of North America, further opening up the West to white settlers, and saw any kind of resistance among the Lakota as a threat to its ambitions.

In 1851, the U.S. government had promised the Lakota an enormous extent of land in the north-central U.S. in the Fort Laramie Treaty. The government broke that treaty, and signed a new one for a much smaller amount of land in 1868. But three years later it passed the Indian Appropriation Act, which effectively turned reservations into prisoner of war camps whose inhabitants had no rights and could not leave. When gold and other valuable resources were discovered in the Black Hills, the government divided up the land, between Native Americans who hated the concept of private ownership of land and white settlers to whom private property was everything. Native Americans were left with land nobody else wanted.

Sources

Heartless at Wounded Knee,” from A World to Win News Service, Revolution, April 18, 2013

Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970

Lakota Accounts of the Massacre at Wounded Knee, PBS Archives of the West

Shelley Fisher Fishkin, “Remembering the Wounded Knee Massacre,” Utne Reader, June 2016

WOUNDED KNEE MASSACRE,” Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

Benjamin Harrison, President of the United States, “Third Annual Message,” December 9, 1891

Jeffrey Ostler, “Conquest and the State: Why the United States Employed Massive Military Force to Suppress the Lakota Ghost Dance,” Pacific Historical Review, May 1996

Written Testimony of Mario Gonzalez from the September 25, 1990 Senate Hearing

Ghost Dance,” hanksville.org

Alysa Landry, “Benjamin Harrison: Busted Up Sioux Nation, No Remorse for Wounded Knee,” Indian Country Today Media Network, June 7, 2016

President Benjamin Harrison and Indian Policy,” Native American Netroots, March 18, 2014

James Mooney, The Ghost Dance Religion and Wounded Knee, Dover Publications, 1896

Ghost Dance,” New World Encyclopedia

Hari Jagannathan Balasubramanian, “America’s Westward Expansion, the Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee,” Thirty letters in my name, November 4, 2007

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/574/american-crime-case-number-34-1972-christmas-bombings-of-north-vietnam-en.html

American Crime

Case #34: America's 1972 Christmas Bombing of North Vietnam

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (called “North Vietnam” by the U.S.), its People’s Army, and the National Liberation Front (NLF) in South Vietnam had been waging a just people’s war for national liberation against the U.S. since 1961 (and before that the Vietnamese had been fighting the French colonialists).1 The U.S. had been bombing the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the liberation fighters in the south since 1965, but its “Christmas bombing” in 1972 was the most intense and devastating air offensive of the entire war.

For 12 days, from December 18 to 29, U.S. round-the-clock bombing pounded and decimated North Vietnam’s densely populated capital city of Hanoi as well as its nearby seaport and industrial center of Haiphong. Especially targeted and destroyed were radio stations/transmitters, railroads, power plants, docks and shipyards, bridges, petroleum and munition storage depots, and airfields. Along with these targets, which affected North Vietnam’s logistical and war fighting capability, nearby provinces and villages were also bombed. This included bombing some dikes along the Red River delta to flood areas around Hanoi.2 Hospitals, civilian population centers (shopping streets, homes, housing complexes), factories, and diplomatic missions were destroyed as well. Eighty percent of North Vietnam’s electrical power production capacity was demolished.

The massive bombing campaign was code-named Operation Linebacker II. U.S. planes, including the massive, 159-foot-long B-52 bombers, which can carry 70,000 pounds of bombs, and F-111 fighters flew an average of 100 bombing runs a day, raining death and destruction on the Hanoi-Haiphong area day and night. One U.S. pilot casually bragged that “We took off one airplane a minute out of Guam for hours. Just on time takeoff after on time takeoff.”

A wing of Hanoi’s hospital was destroyed by B-52 bombers on December 22. It was North Vietnam’s largest medical facility and research center. Among the dead were 28 doctors, nurses, and pharmacists.

Dr. Nguyen Luan described the scene to Britain’s BBC news:

Cries and moans filled the dark night. We had to use knives, hammers and shovels to break through the concrete walls in order to get to the victims trapped inside. As a surgeon, I operate on people to save their lives. Now I was using my surgical knife not to save people but to cut apart the corpses in the bomb shelter so we could rescue those still alive.

On December 26, the day after Christmas, Hanoi’s large residential and shopping area of Kham Thien was flattened by nearly 100 tons of bombs dropped from B-52s, killing and wounding nearly 600 civilians and destroying 2,000 houses. One resident of the area recounted the horror:

Bombs struck a shelter accommodating 40 inhabitants. I found my wife dead, with only her upper torso left. The bombs pulverized my son, my brother and many others into the soil. Blood and pieces of shredded human flesh remain here and there.

On the evening that the bombings began on December 18, as 129 B-52s roared over Hanoi, 10-year-old Ha Mi watched her friend’s home blown up as she and her sister hid under the stairs of their own home, hearing the B-52 bombers overhead. “Advancing, they were looming, coming towards you with a very low hum. It’s frightening.”

The U.S. government claimed its B-52s dropped about 15,000 tons of bombs in 739 assaults, with another 5,000 tons dropped by other aircraft. However U.S. antiwar veterans’ publications estimated that more than 100,000 tons were dropped, with Hanoi hit by more than 40,000 tons of explosives in the 12 days—the explosive equivalent of the two atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during World War 2. The U.S. government claimed that 1,600 Vietnamese civilians were killed during the Christmas bombing,3 but Vietnamese sources estimate there were 2,300 civilian deaths—about 1,500 in Hanoi alone.

The U.S. declared Operation Linebacker II a big success even as it suffered heavy losses—in planes shot down and pilots captured and killed. While the official U.S. claim is that 11 B-52s were shot down and 11 other aircraft, Vietnamese sources have argued the toll on the U.S. Air Force was significantly greater: that the People’s Army of Vietnam (called the North Vietnamese Army—NVA—by the U.S.) had “...successfully gunned down 81 U.S. aircraft in just 11 days and nights.” America’s “Christmas Bombing” generated worldwide outrage and protests.

Representatives from Sweden and the Vatican compared the Christmas bombings to the kinds of atrocities carried out by the Nazis in WW2.

THE CRIMINALS

President Richard Nixon (1969-1974) ordered Operation Linebacker II, following the same logic that guided him in ordering an earlier bombing raid in 1972: “These bastards have never been bombed like they’re going to be bombed this time.” Nixon even told his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, that he wanted to use nuclear weapons against North Vietnam’s dikes, saying, “No, no, I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?” When Kissinger responded he thought that would “just be too much,” Nixon replied, “The nuclear bomb, does that bother you?... I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.”

Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was a main architect and engineer of the Christmas bombings. He said B-52s were the weapon of choice in Operation Linebacker II because of their “ability to shake the mind and undermine the spirit.”

Presidential military aide General Alexander Haig, who helped plan the operation, argued the U.S. should “strike hard ... and keep on striking until the enemy’s will [is] broken.”

Generals John Dale Ryan, John W. Vogt, Jr., and John C. Meyer were the direct commanders of Linebacker II. The entire U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the pilots and other military personnel who took part in this war crime.

South Vietnam President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu (1967-1975) collaborated with U.S. imperialism against the national liberation struggle in Vietnam, including during the 1972 Christmas bombings.

THE ALIBI

The U.S. claimed the 1961-1975 Vietnam War was being fought to defend free and democratic South Vietnam from an invasion by communist North Vietnam. In 1972, the U.S. was negotiating with the North Vietnamese to bring what Nixon called an honorable end to the war. But when peace talks broke off on December 13, Nixon and Kissinger blamed the North Vietnamese, claiming they had “stalled” and walked out of the negotiations, and then also claimed that bombing them was the only way to force them back to the table and reach a real peace agreement.

Nixon instructed his aides to say the rationale for the Christmas bombing was that “We need to get across the point that the reason for the success of negotiations was the bombing and the converse point that we did not halt the bombing until we had the negotiations back on track.”

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

The war of liberation being fought by the Vietnamese people of North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front was part of a wave of anti-colonialist, national liberation struggles that swept Asia, Africa, and Latin America during the 1950s, ’60s, and into the ’70s. The U.S. imperialists were determined to crush these struggles and maintain or extend domination over and exploitation of these regions. America’s war in Vietnam was also aimed at encircling revolutionary China, led by Mao Zedong, and contending with the then-imperialist Soviet Union. According to estimates released by the Vietnamese government in 1995, two million Vietnamese civilians and one million soldiers were killed during the war.

The U.S. rulers knew by the mid-1960s that they could not win the war in Vietnam, even as they lied to the public about their great military progress. By the late 1960s, their war losses were mounting, and the war had spawned massive upheaval and protest against the U.S. around the world. By the early 1970s, the antiwar movement in the U.S. had also taken hold among America’s own troops—weakening their morale and fracturing their cohesion, discipline, and fighting ability. During the Christmas bombings, for the first time elite U.S. pilots reportedly rebelled by trashing officers clubs, making antiwar statements, and finding ways to opt out of flying missions. Many did this because they opposed or questioned the bombings; others did so out of a realistic fear of being shot down.

The U.S. rulers were also facing new challenges around the world, in particular from the Soviet Union. Formerly a socialist country, the Soviet Union had by that time restored capitalism and emerged as an an imperialist power, and the U.S.’s main global rival. The Soviets were backing the Vietnamese liberation fighters, and extending their reach around the globe, including by using national liberation struggles to expand their empire.

So the U.S. began withdrawing its troops and secretly began peace talks with the North Vietnamese in 1970, not simply to extricate themselves from Vietnam, but also to reposition themselves globally and take on the Soviet Union.

Those negotiations were near their end stage in December 1972, and the Christmas bombings were aimed at giving the U.S. greater leverage in the talks, crippling North Vietnam militarily, demoralizing the Vietnamese people and robbing them of their will to fight, and to take blood revenge against a people that had defied and defeated them. The U.S. sought to ensure the survival—at least for a period—of their reactionary clients in South Vietnam, and to be able to save face and credibility by claiming they’d achieved an “honorable” end to the war. And the U.S. bombings may well have been aimed at sending a message to the Soviet Union, revolutionary China, and the world, that despite their looming defeat in Vietnam, the U.S. retained both the military capacity and the political will to wreak enormous death and devastation.

The U.S. claimed Operation Linebacker II was a military success, and it may have had some impact on the final peace agreement signed in January 1973. But it didn’t fundamentally change the fact that the agreement mandated the U.S. withdraw all of its troops and advisers and dismantle all its bases in Vietnam. Nor did the Christmas bombings succeed in either destroying North Vietnam’s military or the will of the Vietnamese people to fight on. In April 1975, North Vietnam and the National Liberation Front finally overthrew the pro-U.S. government in the south, finally unified Vietnam, and inflicted a serious defeat on U.S. imperialism.


Sources

Vietnam Christmas Bombings: 1972 Mutiny of B-52 Crews,” Vietnam Veterans Against the War

North Vietnam, 1972: The Christmas bombing of Hanoi,” Rebecca Kesby, BBC World Service, December 24, 2012, bbc.com

The Christmas bombings of Hanoi in retrospect,” Voice of Vietnam, December 29, 2007

Operation Linebacker II”; “Operation Linebacker”; “1972 in the Vietnam War, Wikipedia

The War Is Suddenly Grim for the B-52 Fliers on Guam,” Richard Halloran, December 30, 1972, New York Times

Why the B-52 Failed,” by David Bacon, January 11, 2016, Foreign Policy in Focus

The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, Part 9 "A Disrespectful Loyalty" (May 1970-March 1973)

 

Footnotes

1. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam was founded in 1945 in northern Vietnam under the leadership of Hồ Chi Minh. However, since 1955, South Vietnam had been ruled by reactionaries beholden to the U.S. In 1960, the National Liberation Front, in alliance with North Vietnam, began a guerrilla war in South Vietnam to overthrow its reactionary rulers, drive out U.S. imperialism, and reunite all of Vietnam. [back]

2. The extent of damage to North Vietnam’s dikes is a subject of debate. It appears some dikes were hit during Operation Linebacker II, but the U.S. never carried out an all-out attack on the dikes, which Henry Kissinger estimated could have drowned 200,000 people. [back]

3. The Vietnam War, a film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, Part 9 "A Disrespectful Loyalty" (May 1970-March 1973) [back]

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Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

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For 12 days, from December 18 to 29, 1972, U.S. round-the-clock bombing pounded and decimated North Vietnam's densely populated capital city of Hanoi as well as its nearby seaport and industrial center of Haiphong.

See also:

Case #96: Vietnam, March 16, 1968—the My Lai Massacre

THE CRIME: On Saturday morning, March 16, 1968, 100 soldiers from Charlie Company, U.S. Army Americal Division, entered and took over My Lai, a small hamlet in Vietnam’s countryside. “We met no resistance and I only saw three captured weapons.... It was just like any other Vietnamese village—old papa-sans, women and kids,” a soldier said. “The order we were given was to kill and destroy everything that was in the village,” another soldier later testified. Read more

 

Case #47: The Bombing of Cambodia, 1969-1973

THE CRIME: On the night of March 18, 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, 60 U.S. B-52 bombers began raining explosives from the skies over Cambodia. A U.S. official said at the time “We had been told ... that those carpet bombing attacks by B-52s were totally devastating, that nothing could survive.”

Thus began America’s first campaign of saturation aerial bombing. It was called “Operation Menu” and for the next 14 months, a total of 3,800 airstrikes of B-52 and F-111 bombers dropped 108,823 tons of explosives on this Southeast Asian country less than half the size of California. Cambodia (and Laos) shared a border with Vietnam, and the Hồ Chí Minh trail (named after the North Vietnamese leader), a military and supply route for the Vietnamese liberation forces, ran through Cambodia. This highly effective military and logistical supply route, and the Vietnamese bases along it, were the main targets of the U.S. bombing. But these were not “surgical strikes”—wide swaths of the lush countryside were obliterated, and the U.S. bombed anything that moved. Read more

Hanoi, 1972, Carrying the dead and injured.

 

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American Crime

Case #32: The 1991 Persian Gulf War – “Operation Desert Storm”

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

From January 16 until February 27, 1991, the U.S. led a massive war of aggression, based on lies, against Iraq, a war which killed some 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, wounded another 300,000, and led to the deaths of 70,000 civilians by January 1992.

On August 2, Iraq’s army invaded and occupied the neighboring country of Kuwait, a U.S. ally. President George H.W. Bush denounced Iraq’s action as “unprovoked aggression” and declared that it “will not stand.” Over the next five months, the U.S. built a military coalition and deployed more than 500,000 American and 200,000 allied troops to the Persian Gulf. The U.S. and its allies pushed through UN Security Council resolutions demanding an Iraqi withdrawal and the imposition of punishing sanctions.

Throughout these months, Bush claimed that “America does not seek conflict.” Yet Bush and his team rejected Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s offers to leave Kuwait, and at least 11 other international proposals to head off a U.S. attack. Bush secretly told his cabinet, “We have to have a war.”1

Phase I: “Instant Thunder.” The U.S.-led war began on the night of January 16, 1991, five months after Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait, with an unprecedented bombing assault code named “Instant Thunder.” For the next 43 days and nights, U.S. and British bombs and missiles pummeled Iraq from above. Coalition warplanes flew 109,876 combat sorties and dropped some 250,000 weapons—6,000 a day. The 88,500 tons of bombs were the explosive equivalent of six atomic bombs dropped on a country the size of California.2

Coalition planes targeted Iraq’s leadership and government and its military facilities and forces. But they also targeted Iraq’s civilian economic and social infrastructure—a war crime. U.S. and British bombs and missiles destroyed 80 percent of Iraq’s oil and gas refineries, many of its telecommunications centers, more than 100 bridges,3 and 11 of Iraq’s 20 power-generating stations. By the war’s end, Iraq’s electrical generation had been slashed by 96 percent.

Without electricity, water couldn’t be pumped, sewage couldn’t be treated, hospitals couldn’t function, and Iraq’s drinking water system was soon “in or near collapse,” according to the World Health Organization.4 Iraqi deaths from the devastating combination of contaminated water and crippled medical care began to soar. The old and the very young were hit hardest.

It was estimated that by January 1992, some 70,000 Iraqi civilians had died due mainly to the destruction of water and power plants. This hidden slaughter would continue for over a decade, taking the lives of at least 500,000 Iraqi children, as the U.S. and its allies imposed crippling sanctions that prevented Iraq from repairing this damage.5

Phase II: the ground war. On February 24, at 4:00 am local time, the U.S. launched its ground war from Saudi Arabia, moving into Kuwait and then southern Iraq.

The next day, February 25, Iraq announced it was pulling out of Kuwait, and made clear it would accept any U.S. or UN terms in return for a ceasefire. That day U.S. forces used tanks with plows mounted on them to push tons of sand into the World War 1-style trenches Iraqi troops were fighting from and bury them—some while they were alive—as heavy machine gun fire was also directed into the trenches. “What you saw was a bunch of buried trenches with people’s arms and land [sic] things sticking out of them. For all I know, we could have killed thousands,” said the colonel in command.

The morning of February 26, Bush rejected Iraq’s offer and other pleas to end the fighting. That day Iraqi forces were retreating north from Kuwait City to Basra. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell ordered U.S. forces to “cut them off and then kill them.”

U.S. planes attacked both ends of the convoy, blocking off any escape, and for the next 48 hours coalition aircraft and ground forces attacked anything that moved. Thousands were slaughtered, and the six-lane “highway of death” was left littered with burnt-out vehicles and charred bodies. Many were noncombatants, just trying to escape. One U.S. soldier said it was like “a medieval hell.” The White House declared the dead to be “torturers, looters, and rapists.”

The London Observer called it “one of the most terrible harassments of a retreating army from the air in the history of warfare.” Only after the slaughter was complete did Bush declare a ceasefire, at midnight on February 27.

The Pentagon later estimated that 100,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed and 300,000 wounded during the war. Meanwhile, 147 U.S. soldiers were killed in combat, another 235 died of other causes, and 467 were wounded.6

THE CRIMINALS

President George H.W. Bush. Bush pulled together an international war coalition based on a campaign of deliberate lies and insisted in the face of global protests and peace initiatives that the U.S. wage war, and carry it out with maximum destruction.

Bush’s war council, the so-called “Gang of 8”: National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and his deputy Robert Gates, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell, Vice President Dan Quayle, Secretary of State James Baker, and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu.

The U.S. military, in particular Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and Gen. Colin Powell, committed war crimes and waged what has been described as one of the most one-sided slaughters in history.

The United Nations. The UN Security Council (controlled by the world’s biggest powers) passed 12 resolutions against Iraq. The Bush administration saw these resolutions as its primary vehicle for building a war coalition and giving Desert Storm “a cloak of acceptability,” as Scowcroft put it.

The U.S.-led coalition of 28 countries that participated in one way or another in the U.S.-led and -controlled war on Iraq. These included—in various ways and to varying degrees—Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt.

The U.S. media. The U.S. media overwhelmingly cheered on the Gulf slaughter. They broadcast hours of footage selected by the Pentagon to present an image of a clean, surgical war, and refused to show pictures of Iraqi casualties, which were readily available in the Arab media.

Defense Secretary Dick Cheney had instituted a press blackout banning media from the front, and any dispatches were vetted by the military. “More than 150 reporters who participated in the Pentagon pool system failed to produce a single eyewitness account of the clash between 300,000 allied troops and an estimated 300,000 Iraqi troops,” Newsday’s Patrick Sloyan reported. “There was not one photograph, not a strip of film by pool members of a dead body—American or Iraqi.”7

THE ALIBI

The U.S. concocted “satellite intelligence” showing Iraqi troops massing on Saudi Arabia’s border, when there were none, to justify sending hundreds of thousands of troops to the Gulf. To whip up war fever, it had a young Kuwaiti woman testify that she’d seen Iraqi troops in Kuwait take babies out of incubators and left them “to die on the cold floor,” and then spread what she said through the media. The story was made up; the young woman was the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador to the U.S. The U.S. also claimed war had been forced upon it after its “months of constant and virtually endless diplomatic activity” had been “totally rebuffed” by Iraq.

Bush said the coalition air war was aimed at “Saddam’s vast military arsenal,” not civilians, and that the U.S. simply sought to remove Iraqi troops and restore the “legitimate government of Kuwait,” and force Iraq’s compliance with UN resolutions.

On January 16, as the air war began, Bush declared:

This is an historic moment. We have in this past year made great progress in ending the long era of conflict and cold war. We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order—a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations.

THE REAL MOTIVE

Control of the Middle East, with its vast petroleum reserves and location at the junction between Asia, Africa, and Europe, had been a key pillar of America’s global imperialist empire since the end of World War 2. That control had been exerted through U.S. bullying, threats, CIA coups, military assaults, and a network of regional “allies”—murderous U.S.-backed regimes including Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states like Kuwait. The Bush administration felt Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was intolerable because it represented a potential threat to these allies, this setup, and to America’s domination of the whole region.

But Bush and the U.S. rulers weren’t just focused on Kuwait and the Middle East—they had their eyes on the whole world. Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait was taking place when the Soviet Union was engulfed in crisis and its empire was breaking apart. The Soviets had been the U.S.’s main global rivals for decades and their “Cold War” conflict had brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation more than once.

Bush and his main adviser, Brent Scowcroft, realized that with their main rival imploding (the Soviet Union collapsed shortly after the Gulf War), they were at an historic turning point which they could seize to create “a new world order”—not of human emancipation but of unparalleled U.S. imperialist global domination.

This realization shaped how the Gulf War was fought.8 Bush and Scowcroft wrote, “In the first days of the crisis we had started self-consciously to view our actions as setting a precedent for the approaching post-Cold War world.” Scowcroft called the Gulf War “the bridge between the Cold War and the post-Cold War eras.”

This gave the U.S. rulers the freedom and the necessity to carry out this most direct, massive, and devastating U.S. military intervention in the region.

The U.S. rulers had backed, armed, and unleashed the Hussein regime to batter Iran during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war9 and to some degree built up its military capacity—including enabling it to develop chemical and biological weapons. And in the immediate aftermath of that war, the U.S. continued to work with the Iraqi regime. But the U.S. had sharply clashed with Hussein’s regime in the 1970s, and still didn’t trust him. Hussein had longstanding ties with the Soviet Union, was not fully under the U.S. thumb, and had ambitions for Iraq in the region (including stated opposition to Israel and support for the Palestinian people) that clashed sharply with U.S. interests.

Hussein’s sudden takeover of Kuwait represented a threat for all those reasons, especially because Iraq now had a large army, chemical and biological weapons (thanks to the West), and was pursuing the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Allowing Hussein to negotiate his way out of Kuwait, as he immediately tried to do, with Iraq’s military in one piece, its political weight increased, and its weaker Gulf neighbors intimidated, could alter the regional balance of power and pose dangers for key U.S. clients like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and allies like Israel and Egypt.10

So removing the danger Iraq posed and solidifying America’s grip on the region and the world required war—to crush Iraq as a regional player and send a clear message of U.S. power and dominance—across the region and around the world.

Scowcroft called “destroying as much of the Iraqi military machine as possible” their “foremost” objective.11 And Air Force strategists admitted that bombing Iraq’s civilian infrastructure was part of a deliberate strategy to give the U.S. post-war “leverage” over Iraq by destroying “valuable facilities that Baghdad could not repair without foreign assistance.”

The U.S. rulers could not create their “new world order” with their military encumbered by the legacy of its defeat in Vietnam. So the Bush leadership worked to rebuild the confidence of the U.S. armed forces and public support for military action abroad. “This will not be another Vietnam,” Bush declared. This dictated a strategy of overwhelming force, minimal U.S. casualties, and quick victory. “A spectacular victory was required,” Powell said.

This, and overall U.S. objectives, necessitated a military strategy that made the Gulf War one of the most one-sided slaughters in history and insured that tens of thousands of civilians would be killed—many during the war and far more afterward.12 Chillingly, the U.S. also had some 600 nuclear weapons in the region and was prepared to use them if Iraq used chemical or biological weapons.

On August 8, days after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Bush declared the U.S. did not “seek to chart the destiny of other nations.” In reality the U.S. was seeking to violently “chart the destiny” not merely of nations, but of the whole world.


1. Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate (Simon & Schuster, 1999), p. 185, corroborated by George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed (Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), p. 463 [back]

2. The U.S.-led air war terrorized children: “I have a son 5 years old. During the air raid he was shaking, shivering, saying ‘Bush is coming, Bush is coming,’” one Iraqi said. Air Force Lt. General Charles A. Horner, who had overall command of the air war, called such psychological terror a “side benefit.”  [back]

3. Coalition warplanes hit roads, highways, railroads, hundreds of locomotives and boxcars full of goods, radio and television broadcasting stations, cement plants, and factories producing aluminum, textiles, electric cables, and medical supplies.  [back]

4. This destruction was compounded by U.S. attacks on plants making water purification chemicals such as chlorine.  [back]

5. U.S.-led forces fired 320 tons worth of DU (depleted uranium) munitions, generating tens of thousands of pounds of dust and debris that are both radioactive and toxic. They attacked Iraqi oil refineries and chemical weapons depots, which together with Iraq’s actions, triggered massive oil spills and released a toxic stew of chemical agents, pesticides, acid rain, soot, and smoke from burning oil wells into the atmosphere.  [back]

6. “Why U.S. casualties were low,” Dennis Cauchon, April 20, 2003, USA Today citing Department of Defense figures.  [back]

7. Some reporters did resist the Pentagon’s blackout. According to Sloyan, “More than 70 reporters were arrested, detained, threatened at gunpoint and literally chased from the front lines when they attempted to defy Pentagon rules.” In the end, all the press accounts of the highway of death came from reporters working outside the Pentagon pool.  [back]

8. Scowcroft later wrote: “The final collapse of Soviet power and the dissolution of its empire brought to a close the greatest transformation of the international system since World War I.” World Transformed.  [back]

9. The 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war was one of the wars since Vietnam with nearly a million people killed or wounded. It was launched by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, with a green light from the U.S., in order to weaken and possibly overthrow Iran’s new Islamic Republic, which had come to power in 1979. The U.S. armed both Iraq and Iran at different points, dragging out the war to weaken both countries, and thus contributing directly to the extent of the slaughter.  [back]

10. The U.S. “liberating” Kuwait meant restoring a despotic and decadent monarch ruling a country where a mere 3.5 percent of the population—literate male citizens over the age of 21—were allowed to vote, where nearly two-thirds of the pre-war population of 1.9 million were non-citizens who performed 80 percent of the labor, and where women were relegated to inferior, second-class status.  [back]

11. The day after Iraq’s invasion, Bush ordered the CIA to draft plans for overthrowing the Hussein regime through an “all-fronts effort to strangle the Iraqi economy, support anti-Saddam resistance groups inside or outside Iraq, and [to] look for alternative leaders in the military or anywhere in Iraqi society.”  [back]

12. Greenpeace called the U.S.-led Gulf War “the most efficient killing campaign ever executed by any military force.”  [back]

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The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

On February 25, 1992, Iraqi forces were retreating north from Kuwait City to Basra in a long convoy of tanks, personnel carriers, trucks, buses, and cars. U.S. planes attacked both ends of the convoy, blocking off any escape, and for the next 48 hours Coalition aircraft and ground forces attacked anything that moved along that strip of roadway. Thousands were slaughtered, and the six-lane "highway of death" was left littered with burnt-out vehicles and charred bodies. Above photo: AP. Below photo: Kenneth Jarecke

 

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American Crime

Case #30: Israel’s U.S.-Armed and -Backed Massacre in Gaza (2008-2009)

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

From December 27, 2008 to January 19, 2009, Israel, backed by the U.S., brutally and viciously attacked the Palestinian people in Gaza—a Palestinian territory on a small strip of land 25 miles long and five miles wide on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Egypt on the south and Israel on the east and north. Overwhelmingly, the Palestinian people in Gaza were driven from their homes in what is now Israel. The violent expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland was most ferocious during the Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe) in 1948.1 Israel has kept more than 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza with no way out. (See the Revolution/revcom.us special issue, Bastion of Enlightenment…or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of Israel.)

The number of Palestinians killed during the 24-day assault, which Israel called “Operation Cast Lead,” has been estimated to be between 1,166 and 1,417,2 including 844 civilians, 281 of them children.3 More than 3,000 were injured during the invasion.4

The attack that initiated the slaughter was launched on a Saturday, shortly before noon, when most people would be in the streets. The Israelis used U.S.-supplied F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters to attack all of Gaza’s main towns, including Gaza City, Khan Younis, and Rafah, striking more than 210 targets in the first 24 hours.5 On that day, at least 225 to 230 Palestinians were killed and more than 700 injured. It was the deadliest one-day death toll in 60 years of conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinian people call that day “The Massacre of Black Saturday.”6,7

During the first seven days, Israel pounded Gaza with bombs, artillery, and mortar shells, as Israelis sat on the hills of Sderot watching the mass carnage in Gaza below.8

Then on January 3, Israel launched a land invasion, sending thousands of troops into Gaza with tanks, armored personnel carriers, and artillery divisions.

Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert said this was “all-out war against the civilian population of Gaza,” and he said he hardly saw a military casualty among the hundreds of Palestinian bodies.9 The International Committee of the Red Cross discovered small children next to their mothers’ corpses and called the situation a “full blown humanitarian crisis.”10

Forty-two Palestinians were killed and another 55 wounded in a single attack on a United Nations school that was sheltering Palestinians who had been forced to flee their homes. Doctors said all of the victims were civilians, including many children. The Guardian reported that this “appears to be the biggest single loss of life of the campaign when Israeli bombs hit al-Fakhora school, in Jabaliya refugee camp, while it was packed with hundreds of people who had fled the fighting.” According to the Guardian, “Most of those killed were in the school playground and in the street, and the dead and injured lay in pools of blood. Pictures on Palestinian TV showed walls heavily marked by shrapnel and bloodstains, and shoes and shredded clothes scattered on the ground. Windows were blown out.”11

On January 19, when Israel knew a ceasefire was only hours away, they continued their assault, killing 54, including 43 unarmed civilians, 17 of them children in the last hours of the invasion.12

A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said that the Israeli military “repeatedly exploded white phosphorus munitions in the air over populated areas, killing and injuring civilians, and damaging civilian structures, including a school, a market, a humanitarian aid warehouse and a hospital.” This violated international laws of war. The HRW report pointed out, “The dangers posed by white phosphorus13 to civilians were well-known to Israeli commanders, who have used the munition for many years. According to a medical report prepared during the hostilities by the ministry of health, ‘[w]hite phosphorus can cause serious injury and death when it comes into contact with the skin, is inhaled or is swallowed.’ The report states that burns on less than 10 percent of the body can be fatal because of damage to the liver, kidneys and heart.” The white phosphorus shells were made in America.

It was estimated that the Israeli assault destroyed up to 60 percent of the agriculture industry in Gaza, and that “13,000 families who depend directly on herding, farming … have suffered significant damage.”14 Ahmad Sourani, director of the Agricultural Development Association of Gaza, said,” What we have seen in large areas of farmland is the destruction of all means of life.” Peter Beaumont of the Observer reported that most of Gaza’s agriculture infrastructure was destroyed. The Ministry of Agriculture was targeted, the agriculture faculty at al-Azhar University in Beit Hanoun was largely destroyed, and the offices of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees in Zaitoun, which provides cheap food for the poor, was ransacked and vandalized by soldiers who left abusive graffiti.”15

The Israelis attacked and destroyed science and educational institutions. They destroyed al-Da’wa College for Humanities in Rafah and the Gaza College for Security Sciences. Six university buildings in Gaza were totally destroyed and another 16 damaged. Two buildings that housed the science and engineering laboratories of the Islamic University in Gaza were demolished. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza City that contained tons of emergency food and medicine was destroyed. Two floors of the al-Quds hospital were destroyed and the hospital set on fire. The fishing industry in Gaza was targeted where “Gaza’s 40,000 fishermen have been deprived of their livelihood.”16

The death and destruction in Gaza was overwhelming:

In total, more than 20,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Nothing was left untouched by the Israelis—schools, shelters, businesses, roads, and bridges.17,18

The Aftermath

Following the war, there was an increase of children born with birth defects. The number of blood cancer cases doubled, and Norwegian medics found traces of depleted uranium, a radioactive and genotoxic material used in some types of munitions, in some Gaza residents who were wounded. Soil samples showed that there were areas that contained up to 75 tons of depleted uranium.19

One year after the war ended, 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza remained displaced.20

In September 2009, a UN special mission, headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone, produced a report that accused Israel of “serious violations of international humanitarian law,” war crimes and crimes against humanity, and recommended bringing those responsible to justice.21

After the war, Israel, with the collaboration of Egypt and support of the Obama administration, imposed a draconian blockade that kept essential medical, construction, and food supplies from reaching Gaza. Israel even attacked civilian relief boats in international waters—murdering five people on one of them, the Mavi Marmara—in 2010, an act the Obama administration refused to condemn.22

THE CRIMINALS

President George W. Bush and his administration (2001-2009): On May 15, 2008, President George W. Bush, in a speech to the Israeli Knesset on the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, said, “The alliance between our governments is unbreakable.” In referring to Israel’s struggle with the Palestinians, he said, “…we applaud the courageous choices Israeli’s leaders have made. We also believe that nations have a right to defend themselves and that no nation should ever be forced to negotiate with killers pledged to its destruction.”23 Less than a month later and six months prior to the attack on Gaza, Israel began planning the war.

The main weapons (F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, tactical missiles, and a wide array of munitions) used in the Gaza Massacre were supplied to Israel by the Bush administration.24

The Bush administration blocked a UN vote for an immediate ceasefire the day the invasion started. Further, the U.S. voted against a UN treaty in December 2008 to regulate arms trade, and a resolution on “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”25

The Democratic Party-controlled 2008 Congress: Since the mid-1960s, Israel has served as a base, and an enforcer, for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and beyond. By 2008, when the position of the U.S. atop a world of exploitation and oppression was being challenged and under stress from many directions, the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel was seen as all the more critical by the U.S. rulers—both Republicans and Democrats.

The Democratic Party-controlled U.S. Senate and House passed near unanimous resolutions giving full support to Israel and upholding its “inalienable right to defend against attacks from Gaza.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We support the state of Israel, very strongly as a national policy, because it is in our national interest to do so.”26 Jerrold Nadler, a leading Democratic House member, said, “Israel has commendably made strenuous efforts to minimize harm to civilians, while Hamas has needlessly imperiled innocent Palestinians in Gaza.”27 A year later, top Democratic senator Chuck Schumer said, “[Y]ou have to force them [the Palestinians] to say Israel is here to stay” and “...to strangle them economically until they see that’s not the way to go, makes sense.”28

U.S. government and U.S. military: In their 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, the Israeli Defense Forces made use of M-92 and M-84 “dumb bombs,” Paveway II and JDAM guided “smart bombs,” AH-64 Apache attack helicopters equipped with AGM-114 Hellfire guided missiles, M141 “bunker defeat” munitions, and special weapons like M825A1 155mm white phosphorous munitions—all supplied as American foreign aid. Israel is also allowed to spend 25 percent of military funding from the U.S. on weapons made by its own weapons industry.29

From 1949-2018, the U.S. has provided Israel with $135 billion in aid, with $95 billion being military aid. The George W. Bush administration supported Israel with $21 billion during its eight years, $19 billion of that going for military aid.30

Candidate and then President Barack Obama: When Barack Obama was running for president, he repeatedly made his support for Israel crystal clear. On July 23, 2008, standing in front of a local police station in Sderot, Israel, just a few miles from Gaza, Obama said, “If someone was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”31

In October 2009, the Obama administration blocked the Goldstone Report from reaching the International Criminal Court in order to stop any legal proceedings against Israel for the war crimes it committed against the people of Gaza that are documented in the report.32 And, as noted earlier, Obama backed the vicious blockade Israel and Egypt imposed on Gaza after the war.

The Israeli government: Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister and former prime minister, said the military operation in Gaza would expand and deepen as necessary. He said, “There is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and this is the time for fighting.... Right now, we have to hit Hamas hard.... I don’t see any other way for Hamas to change its behavior. Hamas is not just a terrorist organization. It actually rules Gaza.”33 Barak said that this was going to be a “war to the bitter end.”34

THE ALIBI

Israel claimed that they launched the all-out assault on Gaza because rockets had been fired from Gaza into Israel. Those rockets were in response to Israel’s earlier attack on Gaza that killed seven Palestinians. That attack by Israel broke a six-month ceasefire. Israel excused that attack by saying they found a tunnel between Gaza and Israel.35,36

The officially stated Israeli goal of Operation Cast Lead was “to diminish the security threat to residents of southern Israel by steeply reducing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, weakening Hamas, and restoring Israel’s deterrence.”37

THE REAL MOTIVE

The Goldstone Report stated, “the (Israeli) operations were in furtherance of an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience and for its apparent support for Hamas, and possibly with the intent of forcing a change in such support ... that what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”38

“Wars” between Israel and Gaza are actually one-sided slaughters. Israel and its apologists defend the massacres by invoking rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel. This is an obscene pretext that denies the extreme one-sidedness of the death and devastation, and masks the real and fundamental factors involved, starting with the violent dispossession of the Palestinian people from their land.

The Palestinian people in the West Bank, in Gaza, within the borders of Israel, and in diaspora around the world have never stopped resisting being driven from their homeland, being dehumanized, and being subjected to genocide. And from its inception, Israel has dealt with that resistance through death, torture, and terror. That ongoing genocidal violence frames the specific situation in Gaza today.

In 2007, the Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas gained political control in Gaza. Hamas and the trend it is part of are reactionary, based on a draconian interpretation of Islam. Nevertheless, the rise of Hamas posed a serious threat to Israel, including creating openings for the Islamic Republic of Iran—which the U.S. and Israel see as the top threat to their interests in the Middle East—to expand its influence in the region.

For the rulers of the U.S. in 2008 (and this is, if anything, even more true now), there was no ally like Israel in a region of the world critical to maintaining its position atop a planet of exploitation and oppression. The U.S. does pursue alliances with other countries in this region—Saudi Arabia and Egypt, for example. But the situation in those countries is much more unstable, and public opinion is much more inclined to identify with the Palestinian people. In contrast, that is not the case (at this point, at least) in Israel. Israel fills a role for the interests of the U.S. empire that no other ally in the region can. And this is, essentially, why the U.S. backed the massacre of the people of Gaza in 2008, and the ongoing crimes Israel commits against the Palestinian people.

 


1. Israeli historian Ilan Pappé carefully documented this in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, citing first-hand sources written by Zionists who established Israel and carried out the ethnic cleansing on which it is based.  [back]

2. “Gaza War (2008-2009),” Wikipedia.  [back]

3. Gaza In Crisis, Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé, edited by Frank Barat, Haymarket Books, 2010, p. 94.  [back]

4. Chomsky and Pappé, p. 95.  [back]

5. “Israel Unleashes a Massacre in Gaza,” revcom.us, December 29, 2008.  [back]

6. “Gaza War (2008-2009),” Wikipedia.  [back]

7. To read more about that first day, see “Israel Unleashes a Massacre in Gaza,” at revcom.us.  [back]

8. “Israelis Watch the Fighting in Gaza From a Hilly Vantage Point,” Charles Levinson, Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2009.  [back]

9. Chomsky and Pappé, p. 93.  [back]

10. “Gaza Children Found With Mothers’ Corpses,” Alan Cowell, New York Times, January 9, 2009.  [back]

11. “Gaza’s day of carnage-40 dead as Israelis bomb two UN schools,” Chris McGreal and Hazem Balousha, Guardian, January 9, 2009.  [back]

12. Chomsky and Pappé, p. 94.  [back]

13. White phosphorus ignites and burns on contact with oxygen, and continues burning at up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit (816 degrees Celsius) until nothing is left or the oxygen supply is cut. When white phosphorus comes into contact with skin it creates intense and persistent burns. (See “Israel,” Human Rights Watch News, March 25, 2009.)  [back]

14. “Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland,” the Guardian, January 31, 2009.  [back]

15. “Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland”  [back]

16. Chomsky and Pappé, pp. 105, 108.  [back]

17. “What was the 2008 Gaza war?” ProCon.org.  [back]

18. “Effects of the Gaza War,” Wikipedia.  [back]

19. “Gaza War (2008-2009),” Wikipedia.  [back]

20. “What was the 2008 Gaza War?” ProCon.org.  [back]

21. “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories,” September 25, 2009, UN General Assembly, aka Goldstone Report. (The report also cites some violations by the Palestinians. If true, they are miniscule compared to the egregious violations committed by the Israelis.)  [back]

22. “From A World to Win News Service: U.S. to Israel after the Gaza ship massacre: keep up the killing,” revcom.us, October 10, 2010.  [back]

23. Address of US President George Bush to the Knesset, May 15, 2008  [back]

24. “U.S. Arms Transfer and Security Assistance to Israel,” William D. Hartung and Frida Berrigan, World Policy Institute Report, May 6, 2002. (Several sources, including Wikipedia and the Guardian, report that the F-16 fighter jets made by General Dynamics and the AH-64 Apache helicopters made by Boeing, were the main weapons used during this war. The above report chronicles all the weapons—fighter planes, helicopters, missiles, rifles, grenade launchers, 50-caliber machine guns, and ammunition—supplied to Israel by the U.S.)  [back]

25. Chomsky and Pappé, pp. 92, 94.  [back]

26. “US Senate supports Israel’s Gaza incursion,” Reuters, January 8, 2009.  [back]

27. “The Democrats on Israel,” Adriana Kojeve, January 22, 2009, Counterpunch.  [back]

28. “Schumer Says It ‘Makes Sense’ To ‘Strangle [Gaza] Economically’ Until It Votes The Way Israel Wants,” Zaid Jilani, ThinkProgress.com, June 11, 2010.  [back]

29. “Washington’s Military Aid to Israel,” Chase Madar, Huffington Post, February 10, 2104.  [back]

30. “U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel: Total Aid,” Jewish Virtual Library.  [back]

31. Times of Israel blog.  [back]

32. “U.S. to block Goldstone Gaza referral to ICC,” Laura Rozen, Politico, September 23, 2009.  [back]

33. “Israelis Say Strikes Against Hamas Will Continue,” Taghreed El-Khodary and Ethan Bronnerdec, New York Times, December 27, 2008.  [back]

34. “War Over Gaza,” New York Times editorial, December 29, 2008.  [back]

35. “US to block Goldstone Gaza referral to ICC.”  [back]

36. “US to block Goldstone Gaza referral to ICC.”  [back]

37. “Israel and Hamas: Conflict in Gaza (2008-2009),” US Congressional Research Service Report, February 19, 2009.  [back]

38. “Human Rights in Palestine and Other Occupied Arab Territories,” September 25, 2009, UN General Assembly, aka Goldstone Report, pp. 406, 408.  [back]

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Palestinian family escaping the bombing in Southern Gaza Strip, 2008. Photo: AP


Israeli bombs strike Gaza Strip, 2008. Photo: AP

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

A speech by Bob Avakian
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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/453/american-crime-85-december-1984-bhopal-india-en.html

American Crime

Case #85: December 1984, Bhopal, India:
Union Carbide's Poison Gas Massacre

August 22, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

Some of the thousands who were killed by the poison gas from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India on December 3, 1984.
Some of the thousands who were killed by poison gas from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India on December 3, 1984. (AP photo)

THE CRIME: Shortly after midnight, early Monday morning on December 3, 1984, an explosion took place at the Bhopal, India, plant of the Union Carbide Corporation, a U.S.-based multinational. A tank containing methyl isocyanate (MIC), used to manufacture pesticides, exploded, blowing 40 tons of deadly chemicals into the air. Within moments, a poison cloud enveloped much of this city of 900,000.

In the densely-packed shanty settlements around the plant, thousands were awakened by the suffocating, burning effects of the gas, or by the howls of dying animals. The toxic cloud stayed close to the ground, so thick people were nearly blinded as they rushed to escape. Some vomited uncontrollably, violently seized, and fell dead. Gas spread over 40 square kilometers (15.4 square miles). Over 200,000 people were immediately impacted; half the city was driven from their homes.

The plant’s management did not immediately sound the alarm or alert local authorities. They later assured reporters that MIC was an “irritant,” not a deadly poison. To this day Union Carbide has refused to say what exploded from its plant. It was an extremely deadly brew of poisonous and carcinogenic chemicals.

Children blinded by the poison gas leak at the Bhopal, India Union Carbide plant in 1984 are carried to a hospital.
Children blinded by the poison gas leak at the Bhopal, India Union Carbide plant are carried to a hospital. It was the deadliest industrial disaster in history, with hundreds of thousands of people in the surrounding area still suffering serious health disorders. The water and environment in Bhopal are still contaminated. (AP photo)

Between 3,500 and 8,000 people died within days. By 2010, the death toll reached between 16,000 and 25,000. Within a year, some 50,000 to 60,000 were severely debilitated. Today, the total number injured or affected is estimated at 600,000. In 2014 Mother Jones reported, “120,000 to 150,000 survivors still struggle with serious medical conditions including nerve damage, growth problems, gynecological disorders, respiratory issues, birth defects, and elevated rates of cancer and tuberculosis.”

The effects of the December 3 explosion and the massive amounts of toxic materials remaining on the Union Carbide site are still contaminating Bhopal’s water supplies and environment.

Bhopal was the deadliest industrial disaster in history, and it’s still crippling and killing.

THE ALIBI: Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson denied any responsibility for the gassing: “The corporation did nothing that either caused or contributed to the accident.” The corporation claimed the gas eruption resulted from either deliberate sabotage or violation of procedures by its subsidiary, Union Carbide of India Limited and its Bhopal personnel. (Union Carbide never produced any evidence of sabotage.) Anderson insisted safety was a global priority: “Our safety standards in the U.S. are identical to those in India or Brazil or someplace else...Same equipment, same design, same everything.”

According to Union Carbide, the Bhopal catastrophe didn’t reveal flaws in their manufacturing processes, design, engineering or safety measures. The problem, they said, was India’s “cultural background or basic educational level simply cannot support the ongoing operation of sophisticated technologies.”

Union Carbide and the U.S. media argued that it and other Western corporations were a force for good in India, modernizing its agriculture and increasing food production: “Without the technologies and the capital that multinationals help to introduce,” Anderson said, “developing countries would have little hope of eradicating poverty and hunger.”

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE: The deadly Bhopal explosion resulted from a series of decisions made by Union Carbide U.S., which owned, designed, and controlled its Bhopal operation.

Union Carbide knew MIC was highly toxic and reactive, but chose to store it in 15,000 gallon tanks rather than smaller and safer, but costlier ones. So when water entered an MIC tank on December 3, it triggered a violent chemical reaction and massive explosion. Carbide lied when it claimed Bhopal’s safety systems were identical to its U.S. plant in West Virginia, and that the problem was Indians couldn’t handle “sophisticated technologies.” Bhopal didn’t have adequate detection instruments. Safety and containment systems were under-designed, and able to handle only small leaks. Many had been shut down to cut costs, even though company reports in 1982 and 1984 warned of danger at Bhopal including water triggering a “runaway reaction in the MIC unit storage tanks.”

Union Carbide’s decisions at Bhopal were guided by maximizing profits and its advantage against global competitors, with deliberate disregard for safety. It created a horror waiting to happen, with hundreds of thousands unknowingly in grave danger.

The much proclaimed benefits to India’s agriculture and living standards from investment by the West and Union Carbide didn’t happen for the vast majority. Agricultural output was raised, with some farmers prospering, but millions of small ones were ruined. India’s agriculture became more oriented to the world market, not producing its own food, and more dependent on Western imperialist technology.

THE CRIMINALS:

Union Carbide Corporation and Chairman Warren Anderson. Anderson was arrested and charged with homicide when he traveled to India after the disaster. He was quickly released on bail due to U.S. pressure. He left India and never returned.

Union Carbide never accepted responsibility for Bhopal and refused to face trial in India. In 1989, Carbide negotiated a $470 million settlement with the Indian government. This included roughly $2,000 for those initially killed, and $300 to $500 for the injured—covering only a few years of medical expenses, even though many suffered lifelong damage.

The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal) from the RCP is written with the future in mind. It is intended to set forth a basic model, and fundamental principles and guidelines, for the nature and functioning of a vastly different society and government than now exists: the New Socialist Republic in North America, a socialist state which would embody, institutionalize and promote radically different relations and values among people; a socialist state whose final and fundamental aim would be to achieve, together with the revolutionary struggle throughout the world, the emancipation of humanity as a whole and the opening of a whole new epoch in human history–communism–with the final abolition of all exploitative and oppressive relations among human beings and the destructive antagonistic conflicts to which these relations give rise.

Read the entire Constitution For The New Socialist Republic In North America (Draft Proposal) from the RCP at revcom.us/rcp.

Union Carbide had exploited India’s poverty, paying Bhopal workers $3.75 a day. Then, after killing and injuring hundreds of thousands, it cited India’s extreme poverty as justification for settling for a pittance compared to what it would have paid out for a similar disaster in the U.S.

The 1989 settlement didn’t address environmental damage. “Union Carbide simply walked away,” Amnesty International reports, “leaving the ticking time bomb that was the polluted factory site behind them, poisoning drinking water for many miles around.”

U.S. government, World Bank, Ford Foundation and other Western institutions. All pushed for greater Western investment and radical changes in Indian agriculture—the so-called "Green Revolution"—which fostered pesticide production in India, including at Bhopal. This was done to serve the economic, political and strategic interests of the U.S. empire. After Carbide’s gas massacre at Bhopal, the U.S. government and legal system refused to allow the victims to sue in U.S. courts, refused to hold Carbide responsible for human or environmental damages, and refused to extradite Warren Anderson to face trial in India.

Indian Government. It collaborated with the West in pushing the “Green Revolution,” and never ensured safety, including at foreign-controlled operations. After the Bhopal massacre, its priority was maintaining relations with foreign investors, not justice for Carbide’s victims. It agreed to Union Carbide’s paltry settlement, did not press U.S. courts to hear the case, and did not start extradition proceedings against Warren Anderson. Only eight Union Carbide of India managers were ever convicted, on charges of “death by negligence.” They were sentenced to two years in jail and fined $2,125. They’re appealing.

To this day, people in Bhopal, with support from around the world, continue to fight for justice, health care, relief, and environmental repair.

SOURCES

25 Years After Bhopal Disaster, Survivors Still Seeking Justice,” Democracy Now!, December 3, 2009

Bhopal trial: Eight convicted over India gas disaster,” BBC, June 7, 2010

Larry Everest, Behind the Poison Cloud: Union Carbide’s Bhopal Massacre (Chicago: Banner Press, 1985)

Larry Everest, “Union Carbide’s Bhopal Settlement Is a Disaster in Itself,” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 1989

Living in the Shadow of the Bhopal Chemical Disaster,” Mother Jones, June 2, 2014

Salil Shetty, Secretary General, Amnesty International, “Thirty years on from Bhopal disaster: Still fighting for justice,” December 2, 2014

The Bhopal disaster and its aftermath: a review,” U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, May 10, 2005

The Bhopal Disaster, Yesterday and Today: A System of Mass Destruction,” A World to Win News Service, February 14, 2005

Union Carbide’s Disaster,” The Bhopal Medical Appeal

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/574/american-crime-case-31-double-murder-by-chicago-police-night-after-christmas-en.html

American Crime

Case #31: Double Murder by Police in Chicago—on the Night After Christmas

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

On the night of December 26, 2015—the night after Christmas—Antonio LeGrier called 911 because his 19-year-old Black son, Quintonio, was struggling with mental health issues and his family wanted help. Antonio called Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old Black woman who lived downstairs, to alert her to his son’s situation and let her know to be on the lookout for the police.

Bettie’s daughter Latisha told reporters afterwards that her mother had gone to the door—presumably to let the cops in the building—and then Latisha heard shots. She rushed to the hall to find her mother and Quintonio lying there bleeding. As Latisha came to the doorway, the police threatened to shoot her as well. One bullet fired by the police went through the front door and through several rooms in Bettie Jones’ home.

According to the two cops, when they entered the lobby Quintonio was coming down the stairs from the second-story flat carrying an aluminum bat. The cops backed up, but Robert Rialmo—the cop who opened fire killing both Quintonio and Bettie—said Quintonio came at him swinging the bat, giving him no choice but to shoot Quintonio to save his own life. He claimed Bettie Jones was standing behind the youth and was shot “by accident.”

In a report issued in 2017, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) revealed that the killer—Robert Rialmo—and his partner had lied about key details justifying these deaths. They concluded that Rialmo’s shooting of both LeGrier and Jones were unjustified. No, Quintonio was not swinging the bat that Rialmo claimed gave him no choice but to shoot the youth. In fact, when Rialmo’s partner was first interviewed, he never mentioned the bat being swung. Added to this, it was found that Rialmo was nowhere near Quintonio when he opened fire. Witnesses, shell casings, and other evidence showed that Rialmo was standing outside the building, halfway between the stoop and the sidewalk, when he fired into the lobby, killing both LeGrier and Jones.

Quintonio LeGrier had been shot seven times, and Bettie Jones three times, in a hail of police bullets inside the lobby of a two-flat (a two-unit apartment building) on Chicago’s West Side. It was Latisha, not the cops, who stayed with Quintonio and her mom, checking their pulse and making sure they were still breathing. It took the ambulance half an hour to arrive. Latisha said when they got there, the ambulance attendants “just dragged” her mother and Quintonio out of the house and down the steps to the waiting wheeled stretchers. Both Bettie and Quintonio died at the hospital.

Antonio LeGrier filed a wrongful death lawsuit two days after his son and Bettie LeGrier were shot and killed by police. No charges were brought by Chicago prosecutors against Rialmo for the killing of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones.

People in the neighborhood were furious and talked about how this happens way too often. One person commented, “They used to do it with a noose but now they do it with a gun and a badge.” One guy compared “how they do us” to slavery days. One of Quintonio’s friends at Northern Illinois University said, “Police are killing innocent children. People are being killed and it’s not right.” And Latisha said, “They tell me to be calm but there ain’t no being calm! They killed my mama!”

Quintonio LeGrier had graduated with honors from Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy and was studying electrical engineering at Northern Illinois University. Friends remembered Quintonio as being especially good at math and how he helped them with their homework. He was always smiling and cracking jokes. Quintonio was an avid runner and was part of a team of students who ran the 2013 Chicago Marathon to raise money for clean drinking water for African children.

Bettie Jones had five children. Her niece described her as “a lively spirit” who loved Smokey Robinson and step dancing. She had been fighting ovarian cancer, and was working on the assembly line at Alpha Baking. Latisha and her mother had plans to have a mother-daughter day together before Bettie was murdered by the police.

A Crime on Top of a Crime

Two months after the double murder, in February 2016, the attorney for the killer cop Robert Rialmo filed a lawsuit against the estate of Quintonio LeGrier—on the grounds of “assault and emotional distress”—to the cop! He said in justification, “Something that bothers Officer Rialmo and myself about the way this is going is the family filed the lawsuit [for wrongful death] before the funeral. It seems like people believe now that if you have a family member killed by a police officer it’s the functional equivalent of winning the lottery.”

On top of this, in mid-December 2017, Chicago city attorneys went to federal court for permission to sue the LeGrier estate as well! According to their logic, Quintonio was responsible for Bettie Jones’ death as well as his own, so his estate should pay any damages the city owed to the Jones family. When word of this became public, there was such outrage the city quickly backtracked and stopped pursuing the suit. Quintonio’s mother said the city just keeps pouring salt into her wounds.

It was just two weeks later that COPA issued its report, described above, which revealed that Rialmo and his partner had lied about their lives being in danger to justify the killing of Quintonio and Bettie. The Chicago prosecutors had access to all of this evidence against Rialmo when they made their decision not to prosecute him. And there was no prosecution of Rialmo after the COPA report was released.

THE CRIMINALS

Robert Rialmo and his partner, Anthony LaPalermo. Rialmo was the cop who shot and killed Quintonio LeGrier  and Bettie Jones, and LaPalermo backed up his lies to justify it.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie T. Johnson was Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked choice to be police superintendent. This was shortly before the double murder, amid the public outrage after the video of the police murder of Laquan McDonald was made public. Emanuel hoped that putting a Black cop in charge would quell criticism of the department, whose reputation for brutality is infamous. But Johnson disagreed with COPA’s recommendation that Rialmo be fired, saying his actions were “justified and within department policy.” This shouldn’t have been a surprise; Johnson’s record shows that he repeatedly approved police shootings, or ignored allegations of excessive force in case after case over years in positions of authority: Rekia Boyd, Dakota Bright, Niko Husband, Christian Green, and many more. And he has been involved in some of the most notorious recent police killings and scandals. Johnson came to Rialmo’s defense, calling for his exoneration despite the COPA report concluding that the killing was unjustified.

Chicago Police Department, or CPD—the second-largest police force in the country after New York’s—has a long and sordid history of shooting and murdering people with complete impunity. In 2017, the Department of Justice investigated the CPD after the uproar over McDonald’s murder and cover-up. They reported a police “pattern of unlawful force” and that “the failure to review and investigate officer use of force has helped create a culture in which officers expect to use force and not be questioned about the need for or propriety of that use.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago city government, over and over and over again, have protected the police, with prosecutors refusing repeatedly to charge cops for murdering Black and Latino youths, and pretending ignorance (really, ignore-ance) of the “code of silence,” which enables cops to cover for other cops who commit murder.

THE ALIBI

The excuse the cops used for this double murder was the one that is used over and over again—that they believed their lives were in danger. And despite the fact that in this case it was shown that their justification for these killings was based on lies, no charges were brought by the prosecutors. There is a constantly repeated refrain in this country: “Police officers stand as the thin blue line that protects society from evil and chaos.” From that perspective, if a disproportionate number of those killed by police are Black and Brown—Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones, Rekia Boyd, Laquan McDonald, and hundreds more—and even if the killing is unjustified, people are trained to think: “Well, yes, that looks bad, but we have to keep in mind that the police have a difficult and dangerous job, and there are a lot of cops who are killed in the line of duty, too.”

THE REAL MOTIVE

The real motive behind this double murder, and the ongoing crimes of covering up and justifying the wanton police killing, predominately of Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans, especially youths, goes to the actual role of the police in this society overall. As Bob Avakian has said:

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness. (BAsics 1:24)

In this society, whose origins are rooted in slavery and genocide, white supremacy is sewn into its fabric. The wanton murders of the most oppressed in this society—the murders they carry out without being provoked—are an essential part of their job. Because the more arbitrary these murders seem, the more broadly they deliver the message that no one is safe, everyone among the oppressed and exploited in this society has a target on their back.

REPEAT OFFENDERS

The number of police shootings in Chicago has averaged one every week over years. Statistics compiled by the Guardian (UK) show there were 435 police shootings in Chicago from 2010 through 2015. Cops killed 92 people and wounded 170. The newspaper’s findings showed that about four out of every five people shot were African-American males.

Besides police murders, there have been repeated discoveries of organized operations by the police where torture and brutality were carried out systematically. In 2015, the Guardian wrote about the “black site” at Chicago’s Homan Square, supposedly a police-evidence storage facility, where people detained by the police, disproportionately Black and Latino, were taken “off the record.” (See “Homan Square: Chicago Police Dept.’s Continuing Criminal Enterprise” at revcom.us.) People were tortured, some forced to make false confessions. Many disappeared for days and lawyers and families could not find where they had been taken while police “questioned” them.

Before this there was the years-long Burge torture scandal. Under Chicago police commander Jon Burge, many people were subjected to unbelievable cruelty, including electric shocks to their genitals. Burge was protected from prosecution for this torture until the statute of limitations ran out—and then only did minor time for perjury. He collected a pension for the rest of his life, which funded his retirement in Florida. Other cops involved in the torture with Burge are still on the force.

Chicago is not the exception; rather it is a concentration of what continues to go on all over this country.

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Quintonio LeGrier

Bettie Jones

The role of the police is not to serve and protect the people. It is to serve and protect the system that rules over the people. To enforce the relations of exploitation and oppression, the conditions of poverty, misery and degradation into which the system has cast people and is determined to keep people in. The law and order the police are about, with all of their brutality and murder, is the law and the order that enforces all this oppression and madness.

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:24

“How Long?! How Many More Times Do The Tears Have To Flow?”

A clip from BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian given in 2012. Watch the whole talk at revolutiontalk.net.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/463/american-crime-case-74-the-fbi-assassination-of-fred-hampton-en.html

American Crime

Case #74: The FBI-Chicago Police Assassination of Fred Hampton

October 31, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

 

THE CRIME

At 4:45 am on December 4, 1969, a special operations team of 14 Chicago police stormed into the apartment of Fred Hampton, the 21-year-old chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party. They were being directed by Cook County Prosecutor Edward Hanrahan and acting in close coordination with the FBI Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). Armed with shotguns, handguns, and a .45-caliber machine gun, and guided by a floor plan of the apartment provided by an informant, the police shot anyone they saw and sprayed the apartment with machine-gun fire.

Moving to the back of the apartment, they entered Fred Hampton’s bedroom. Hampton, already wounded, was still in bed, having been drugged earlier by the FBI’s informant. Alongside him was Deborah Johnson, his girlfriend who was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with their child. As they lay there, the cops stood over Hampton and put two bullets in his brain. One cop reportedly said, “He’s good and dead now.”

The shooting continued—by the time they were done, they had also killed 22-year-old Mark Clark and critically injured four other Panthers, most of whom were asleep when police entered the apartment. After carrying out this massacre, the cops proceeded to abuse the seven surviving occupants and arrest them on major felony charges.

THE CRIMINALS

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover: The FBI played the main role in targeting the Chicago Panthers, and Fred Hampton in particular. It assigned one of its agents to work closely with the Chicago state’s attorney’s office on this. (Initially the authorities hid the role of the FBI, but later the FBI’s own documents revealed not only their key role, but a conscious effort to cover up that role.) An FBI informant (William O’Neal) infiltrated the Chicago Panthers and became Hampton’s bodyguard. O’Neal provided the cops with a floor plan of the apartment. And on the night of the raid, he slipped barbiturates into Fred Hampton’s drink, causing him to fall asleep in the middle of a phone call with his mom and to sleep through the whole raid. After the assassinations, O’Neal received a $300 bonus from the FBI Headquarters in Washington for his work.

Cook County Prosecutor Edward Hanrahan: Hanrahan organized the actual raid—and the outrageous arrests of the survivors—and he was the front man and mouthpiece for the assassinations. He loudly proclaimed that his officers had been under heavy fire from the Panthers and that what went down was a “shoot-out.” He even displayed a revolver that he said Hampton had fired at police. All of these claims were soon exposed as complete lies. The police fired nearly 100 shots and suffered no injuries; only one shot was fired by the Panthers. (Mark Clark’s gun went off accidentally as he fell to the floor, fatally wounded by police.) As the truth was revealed, all charges against the surviving Panthers were dropped, and Hanrahan himself was ultimately indicted for obstructing justice and tried in connection with the raid. (The trial judge directed an acquittal.)

Chicago Tribune: The system’s mass media played a key role in preparing public opinion for murderous attacks on the Panthers by painting them as thugs, racists, and animals. A Tribune editorial, “No Quarter for Wild Beasts,” 20 days before the raid, urged cops to approach the Panthers ready to shoot to kill. When the police story of the raid started falling apart, Hanrahan asked the Tribune to run an interview with the killer cops, promoting their lies. The Tribune also ran an article with pictures showing holes in the apartment walls, purportedly caused by bullets fired by the Panthers. They were actually nail holes. A Tribune reporter later admitted that the police and state’s attorney were his “sole source” for this article, even though the Panthers were conducting tours of the apartment for hundreds of people to show the world what really happened.

THE ALIBI

Hanrahan claimed that the purpose of the raid was to seize “illegal weapons” that were in Hampton’s apartment. He also claimed that police were met with heavy gunfire and were forced to fire back in response.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

The claim that this was a search for weapons was a lie. For one thing, the FBI knew from their informant that most or all of the occupants of the apartment were at a political education meeting the night before the raid. So they could have executed their search warrant without a confrontation. For another, after the raid, they didn’t even bother to properly tag and catalogue the weapons they allegedly found at the apartment. And no weapons charges were pursued.

       

In reality, Hampton’s assassination was part of a broad campaign by the FBI to smash the Black Panther Party and the rapidly growing revolutionary movement that burst onto the scene in the 1960s.

In September 1968, Hoover called the Panthers “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” According to PBS, Hoover claimed that “1969 would be the last year of the Party’s existence.”

The Panthers were the number one target of COINTELPRO, which carried out 233 documented operations against them. These ranged from assassinations like those of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark to attempts to turn street gangs against the Panthers, efforts to create divisions within the BPP and between the BPP and white radicals, and setting up Panthers on false criminal charges. Dozens of Panthers were murdered and hundreds jailed on trumped-up charges in a coordinated national effort to crush this revolutionary force.

Hoover specifically aimed to prevent the rise of what he called “a Black messiah”—leaders and potential leaders of the people, like George Jackson or Malcolm X. Many of them were killed by the authorities. Fred Hampton was targeted because he was a bold leader, famous for his chant "I am a revolutionary," who inspired many others to take up revolution. Hampton was influenced by studying the revolutionary communist leader Mao Zedong, and was known for working with the hardest youth in the hood, as well as reaching out to other segments of society. Hampton's influence and that of the Black Panther Party were growing in Chicago and nationally.

All of the things that inspired many to love "Chairman Fred" aroused the hatred of the FBI and other defenders of this system, who feared the potential for a revolutionary force that could seriously challenge their rule during this period of tremendous social upheaval in the U.S. and revolutionary struggles around the world.

So Hampton was placed on the FBI’s “Agitators Index” as a “key militant leader.” His mother’s phone was tapped. Many FBI informants were planted in the Chicago Panther chapter, one to become his bodyguard. The FBI even wrote an “anonymous” letter to the leader of the Blackstone Rangers street organization saying the Panthers were planning to kill him, hoping to incite them to attack Hampton. All of this culminated in the savage assassination of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

SOURCES:

December 1969: The FBI Assassination of Fred Hampton—'I AM... A REVOLUTIONARY,” Revolution #184, November 29, 2009 (updated December 4, 2015)

Decision in: Iberia HAMPTON et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. Edward V. HANRAHAN et al., Defendants-Appellees. UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Honorable Joseph Sam PERRY, Appellee, v. Jeffrey H. HAAS, Attorney at Law, Contemnor-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America ex rel. Honorable Joseph Sam PERRY, Appellee, v. G. Flint TAYLOR, Attorney at Law, Contemnor-Appellant. United States Court of Appeals, Seventh District, 1979. See especially, paragraphs 41-86.

Haas, Jeffrey (2010).The Assassination of Fred Hampton. Lawrence Hill

Wikipedia entry on Fred Hampton

PBS documentary, Eyes on the Prize, America at the Racial Crossroads 1965-1985, Part 12 (“A Nation of Law 1968-1971”) begins with the murder of Fred Hampton and follows with a segment on the 1971 prisoners uprising at Attica State Prison.

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/553/american-crime-case-number-37-december-26-1862-lynching-of-38-dakota-men-en.html

American Crime

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

| Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE CRIMINALS

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

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

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

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

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

THE ALIBI

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

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

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

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

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

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

 

Sources

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

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

Dakota War of 1862, Wikipedia

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

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

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

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


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

C. Native Americans.

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

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

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

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

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

Basics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

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

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:31

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/508/american-crime-case-60-rebellion-mass-legal-lynching-of-19-black-soldiers-en.html

American Crime

Case #60: The 1917 Camp Logan Rebellion and the Mass Legal Lynching of 19 Black Soldiers

September 10, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME:

December 11, 1917: At five in the morning, 13 Black soldiers are taken from the barracks at a military camp near San Antonio, Texas, and marched to the gallows. Each is placed on a chair, noose slipped over his head. Simultaneously, the chairs are kicked out and the soldiers drop to their death. Buried in graves nearby, the markers are not their names, just numbers 1 through 13. Each, to the end, proclaimed his innocence.

The events leading to the hanging began five months earlier. On July 27, 1917, the U.S. Army ordered the Third Battalion of the all-Black 24th Infantry Regiment to move from New Mexico to Houston to guard Camp Logan, which was under construction.

The regiment originally consisted of Black cavalry units formed in 1866. Made up of former slaves who had fought in the Union army during the Civil War, they were sent west to slaughter Native Americans, who called them Buffalo Soldiers. In 1916, they had been sent to Mexico as part of General Pershing’s forces who were trying, unsuccessfully, to hunt down the revolutionary leader Pancho Villa. They were disappointed when they were not chosen to fight in Europe after the U.S. entered World War 1 earlier in 1917. But they continued to think that their patriotic service at home would result in some semblance of civility towards them from whites. But as events in Houston were to show, they were gravely mistaken.

At Camp Logan, white construction workers taunted the soldiers and demanded separate tanks of drinking water. In Houston itself, the soldiers encountered at almost every turn the overtly racist, degrading Jim Crow segregation pervading the Deep South. They were infuriated by the “whites only” signs, the verbal abuse by whites, and trolley conductors demanding they sit in the rear. Some refused, leading to clashes with the police.

Early afternoon, August 23, 100 years ago last month: Two white Houston cops break up a craps game in a predominantly Black neighborhood, and one, searching for a “fleeing suspect,” enters the house of Sara Travers. No “suspect” there, but he drags Travers outside in her nightgown, as her five children look on. Seeing this, Private Alonso Edwards of the Third Battalion offers to take custody of Travers, but the cop pistol-whips and arrests him.

Later that afternoon, the battalion’s Corporal Charles Baltimore goes to the police station to ask about Travers. There, Baltimore is beaten, flees, is shot at three times, captured, beaten again, and arrested. Baltimore is later released, but soldiers at the camp hear he’s been shot and killed.

Night, August 23: Fearing trouble from the seething soldiers, one of the battalion’s white officers revokes all passes for the evening, orders the men to assemble without arms, and warns them not to take the law into their own hands. One of the men, who has smuggled his rifle into the formation, fires it and yells that a white mob is approaching the camp. The soldiers break formation, race to the supply tents to grab rifles and ammunition, and 156 of them begin marching toward Houston.

When the soldiers reached the city, they fought white police and local residents in pitched gun battles. When the fighting ended, four Black soldiers, five white cops, and 12 white civilians were dead. The day after the rebellion, martial law was declared in Houston.

Sixty-three soldiers were charged with disobeying orders, mutiny, murder, and aggravated assault. At the court-martial, they were defended by only one person, who taught law at West Point but was not a lawyer and had no trial experience. Nearly 200 testified for the prosecution at the 22-day trial, but almost none could identify any of the defendants, or distinguish among them, because the rebellion had occurred at night during heavy rain.

At the three trials, no evidence was brought forth to prove the existence of a conspiracy, and in fact, having endured several weeks of racist Jim Crow laws, constant taunts, and police brutality, the soldiers had good reason to believe a mob attack was in the offing. Further, a little earlier in 1917, on July 2 and 3, a mob of white vigilantes in East St. Louis, Illinois, had burned hundreds of Black homes and beaten, shot, and lynched Black residents, with most historians estimating that at least 100 Black people were killed. The soldiers of the Third Battalion, who knew what had happened in East St. Louis, were well aware of what could happen in Houston.

But on November 28, 1917, a “prestigious” court consisting of three brigadier generals, seven full colonels, and three lieutenant colonels sentenced 13 of the Black soldiers to hang. Forty-one were given life sentences. Only five were acquitted.

Two more courts-martial followed. At the second, 15 were tried, five sentenced to death. At the third, 40 soldiers were tried, 23 were found guilty and 11 of the 23 were sentenced to death, the other 12 to life in prison.

THE CRIMINALS:

The chiefs of the U.S. Army set up and presided over the three courts-martial which, given the lack of evidence against the accused, were nothing but kangaroo courts.

General John Ruckman was the Army’s point man for the three trials. After the 13 soldiers at the first court-martial were sentenced to hang, the court recommended clemency for one of them, but Ruckman refused to grant it. He then approved all the death, life imprisonment, and other sentences handed down at the other two trials.

President Woodrow Wilson: While Wilson deceitfully promised “democracy” and “self-determination” for the planet’s colonized people during World War 1, back at home he was an openly racist and outspoken defender of white supremacy who publicly upheld this legal mass lynching. Wilson mourned the deaths of white “innocent bystanders,” “peaceable disposed citizens of the City of Houston.” He claimed that the three trials were “properly constituted,” that “extraordinary precautions” had been taken to “insure the fairness of the trials,” and that the rights of the defendants had been “surrounded at every point” by the “safeguards” of “a humane administration of the law.” This, in face of the fact that no substantial evidence had been presented at any of the three trials. Wilson went on to affirm the death sentences of the six other soldiers because there was “plain evidence” that they had engaged in “shocking brutality.”

On August 31, 1918, only after coming under heavy public pressure, Wilson commuted the sentences of 10 of the 16 men still awaiting hanging, consigning them instead to life imprisonment. He did so, he declared, because the “lesson” of the “lawless riot” had already been “adequately pointed,” and he hoped this clemency would inspire Black soldiers “to further zeal and service to the country.”

THE ALIBI: The authorities responsible for the “legal lynching” of 19 Black soldiers and life imprisonment for many more claimed that the men had engaged in a conspiracy, that they manufactured fear of a white mob attack in order to justify a murderous rampage against the white cops and citizens of Houston.

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE:

The political power of the U.S. ruling class rests, most fundamentally, on its military, and these brutal mass hangings signaled that the military command would brook no disobedience, much less mutiny, no matter how justified, especially by Black soldiers. Far from being an instrument of social justice or transformation, the U.S. military reflects and reinforces the relations of exploitation and oppression America is based on—in this case the overt, legalized Jim Crow segregation and lynch mob racism in the South and the brutal and often murderous white supremacy that reigned in the North. The Black soldiers at Camp Logan frontally and militantly challenged both military discipline and Jim Crow segregation and white lynch mob rule—with arms.

Coming at a time of major social and economic transformations, a major migration of Black people from the South, and growing protests and demands by Black people for equality, the Camp Logan rebellion represented the worst fears of white Southerners and powers in the North as well: Black people taking up arms against their oppression. This was seen as requiring the most severe punishment, including 19 hangings, as a warning and lesson to Black people who would consider doing the same. One message: no matter what Black people do for “their country,” this system still considers them as less than fully human, with no rights white people are bound to respect. That was true then, and it remains true today.

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/540/american-crime-case-43-the-US-invasion-of-panama-1989-1990-en.html

American Crime

Case #43: The U.S. Invasion of Panama, 1989-1990

April 23, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.

 

THE CRIME:

On December 20, 1989, the U.S. military invaded Panama with 27,684 troops and 300 aircraft, killing thousands of civilians and removing Manuel Noriega and his Panamanian Defense Force (PDF) from power. The invasion was given the name of “Operation Just Cause” by U.S. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney.

The lead-up to the invasion happened during the Ronald Reagan presidency (1981-1989), while the invasion itself was planned and occurred during the first year of the presidency of George H.W. Bush (Bush Sr.).

In 1986, it was revealed that Noriega had ties to Colombian drug interests, and he was linked to drug trafficking and money laundering. Further, he was providing intelligence information simultaneously to Cuba and the U.S.1

Reagan instituted economic and military measures against Noriega as a way to have him removed from power, but despite wanting to send troops to remove Noriega from power, he never did. By cutting economic aid to Noriega, Reagan created an economic crisis, including food shortages and widespread hunger among poorer Panamanians.

By mid-1988, middle class Panamanians who supported the U.S. and were backers of Noriega began to turn against him as the Panamanian economy fell apart and the banking system was in shambles. Black and impoverished Panamanians suffered the most from the U.S.-imposed economic measures, but there was a section of those people who supported Noriega because he was a mestizo (mixed race) who came from their impoverished neighborhood. Noriega’s main support came from the military forces of the PDF and small shopkeepers. Noriega’s determination to remain in power made him more hostile towards the U.S.

After Bush became president, Noriega stole an election in May 1989 from Guillermo Endara, who was backed by the U.S. Bush began to ramp up troop levels in and around Panama. (The U.S. had approximately 18 military installations inside Panama in 1989.) Then in October, an attempted coup against Noriega, which the U.S. supported but did not militarily back, failed.

On December 16, a U.S. Marine lieutenant was shot and killed. The Bush administration claimed Noriega’s forces were responsible and ordered the U.S. National Command Authority to execute “Operation Just Cause.”

The U.S. invasion began with an overwhelming ground force and unchallenged air superiority. Its goal: destroying Noriega’s military forces, capturing Noriega, and terrorizing the community where Noriega had his strongest support

Stealth bombers, which had never been used before in combat, dropped 2,000-lb bombs.

The Central American Human Rights Commission (CODEHUCA) reported, “The most devastated civilian neighborhoods—such as Chorrillos and San Miguelito—were extremely poor, densely populated areas. Half of the neighborhood of Chorrillos—which had a pre-invasion population of approximately 25,000—was literally destroyed by US troops and civilian residents were victims of direct attacks.”2

The headquarters of Noriega and the PDF was situated next to the impoverished Chorillos neighborhood, Noriega’s hometown. The destruction of that neighborhood included destroying Noriega’s forces and was meant to eliminate any support for Noriega from the people of Chorillos.

U.S. troops set buildings on fire and executed people in the streets. In the Academy Award–winning documentary The Panama Deception, a witness says, “The North Americans began burning down El Chorrillo at about 6:30 in the morning. They would throw a small device into a house and it would catch on fire. They would burn a house, and then move to another and begin the process all over again. They burned from one street to the next. They coordinated the burning through walkie-talkies.” Witnesses recounted U.S. soldiers setting residential buildings on fire. Video footage shows the charred remains of rows of housing complexes in El Chorrillo.3

Author William Blum reported that “...people burning to death in the incinerated dwellings, leaping from windows, running in panic through the streets, cut down in cross fire, crushed by tanks, human fragments everywhere.”4

The devastation of the El Chorrillo neighborhood, a residential area the size of ten city blocks, was so complete that not one single structure was left standing. Those who were not killed and lived in El Chorrillo called it “Guernica” or “Little Hiroshima.”

Panamanians interviewed by CODEHUCA testified to the horrors of the invasion:

[W]e saw from our window a group of approximately 18 soldiers coming down the street, and saw them entering each house. We saw the residents coming out, followed by the soldiers, and then we saw the houses, one by one, go up in smoke. The US soldiers were burning the houses. We saw people trapped in their apartments, because they lived on the second floors of these wooden houses. (COHEHUCA Doc. #7)

[W]e saw a pile of bodies, both dead and wounded, piled all together on top of each other. We thought that they were all dead until we saw some of them moving. We saw some of them with their heads smashed open. We saw others that were totally crushed and I think that tanks had passed right over these people because they were so crushed. (CODEHUCA Doc. #7)

Every day, truckloads were taking bodies to the common graves. In the morning and in the afternoon, I saw US troops driving US trucks taking 50 bodies—each trip—to be buried.... (CODEHUCA Doc #24)

Shortly after the invasion ended, bulldozers excavated mass graves and shoveled in the bodies. “Buried like dogs,” said the mother of one of the civilian dead.5

During and after the invasion, the U.S. military enforced repressive actions against the Panamanian population which included:

* Illegal detentions of thousands of civilians.

* Illegal searches and seizures of unions, churches, government offices, opposition political parties, human rights groups and embassies of other countries.

* Unauthorized and illegal dismissals of more than 10,000 Panamanians from their jobs in the private and public sectors.6

In its brutal invasion of Panama, the U.S. military used a number of sophisticated weapons for the first time in combat—this against an unarmed civilian population. Thousands were killed, and whole neighborhoods were destroyed. Human remains were incinerated and dumped into mass graves, thus making the full death toll unknown.

It has been estimated that 3,000-6,000 Panamanians lost their lives. Foreign journalists were also killed in the invasion.

THE CRIMINALS:

President George H.W. Bush (Bush Sr.) was the president when the U.S. government planned and ordered the invasion. The New York Times reported that Bush said, ‘‘Let’s do it,” and that “[H]e also felt that the Panamanian leader, Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, ‘was thumbing his nose at him.’ The President felt that General Noriega was getting more and more abusive and that at some point he would have to be dealt with...”7

Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense, and Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, oversaw “Operation Just Cause” from Washington, DC. Cheney had drafted the plan and it was refined and “significantly improved” by Powell following the October 3 coup attempt that failed to oust Noriega.8

They were responsible for having the Defense Department experiment with a new “super-weapon” during the invasion—the Lockheed F-117A stealth ground attack aircraft that delivers a 2,000-pound bomb with “pinpoint accuracy.”

Powell wrote in My American Journey that they settled on the name of the invasion “Operation Just Cause” because “Along with the inspirational ring, I liked something else about it. Even our severest critics would have to utter ‘Just Cause’ while denouncing us.”9

The U.S. media were cheerleaders for the invasion and complicit in the cover up of its crimes. Fairness  & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) reported, “Few TV reporters seemed to notice that the jubilant Panamanians parading before their cameras day after day to endorse the invasion spoke near-perfect English and were overwhelmingly light-skinned and well-dressed. This in a Spanish-speaking country with a largely mestizo and black population where poverty is widespread.”10

FAIR reports that “In the first days of the invasion, TV journalists had one overriding obsession: How many American soldiers have died? The question, repeated with drumbeat regularity, tended to drown out the other issues: Panamanian casualties, international law, foreign reaction.”

Ted Koppel of ABC’s Nightline told his audience, “Noriega’s reputation as a brutal drug-dealing bully who reveled in his public contempt for the United States all but begged for strong retribution” (December 20, 1989).11

The Panama Deception showed how the mainstream media uncritically adopted U.S. government propaganda about the invasion. The film exposes what the media refused to: the lies and distortions, the hypocrisy, the dead bodies, the survivors’ harrowing tales, and the complete impunity of the U.S. military in suppressing the truth.

THE ALIBI:

George H.W. Bush gave four reasons for the invasion in his address the day the invasion started:

The goals of the United States have been to safeguard the lives of Americans, to defend democracy in Panama, to combat drug trafficking and to protect the integrity of the Panama Canal Treaty [the Torrijos—Carter Treaties]. Many attempts have been made to resolve this crisis through diplomacy and negotiations. All were rejected by the dictator of Panama, Gen. Manuel Noriega, an indicted drug trafficker...[The] forces under his command shot and killed an unarmed American serviceman, wounded another, arrested and brutally beat a third American serviceman and then brutally interrogated his wife, threatening her with sexual abuse. That was enough.

General Noriega’s reckless threats and attacks upon Americans in Panama created an eminent danger to the 35,000 American citizens in Panama. As President, I have no higher obligation than to safeguard the lives of American citizens.12

The next day Bush said, “Our efforts to support the democratic processes in Panama and to ensure continued safety of American citizens is now moving into its second day.’”13

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE:

In reality, Bush knew that there was no concerted effort by Noriega to endanger U.S. citizens in Panama.

And he knew that Noriega had been involved in “drug trafficking”—on behalf of the U.S.! Noriega had been a CIA operative since 1967, providing the U.S. with valuable information about Cuba and anti-U.S. movements in Latin America. The U.S. knew of and made use of Noriega’s drug dealing. Under Reagan, the CIA paid Noriega $200,000 per year14 to allow the U.S. to ship weapons purchased in Poland through Panama into Nicaragua to the U.S.-backed Contras (armed right-wing groups), who were fighting the Sandinista government.15 The CIA paid for the weapons by trafficking cocaine—the “drugs-for-guns” trade that Noriega was a part of.

So these were pretexts to hide Bush’s real agenda: U.S. control of the Panama Canal in service of its imperialist domination of Latin America, its global dominance, and the “New World Order” Bush was attempting to hammer into place as the Soviet Union was falling. By 1989, the U.S. rulers felt Noriega had become unreliable and that his belligerence threatened these interests, particularly when administrative control of the Panama Canal was formally being shifted from the U.S. to Panama.

Even before the canal, Panama was of enormous geopolitical, economic and strategic military significance for the U.S. as it became a global power in the late 1800s. Then after the Panama Canal was built, the U.S. interest in this small strip of land focused on the strategic importance of the canal. “The Canal was crucial to U.S. global operations—its capitalist penetration of Latin America and Asia, and its ability to shift its military forces aggressively around the world.”16 (see the Revolution article “The U.S. Invasion of Panama 1989: The Injustice of ‘Operation Just Cause’”). Further, Panama provided the U.S. with military bases from which they could launch any military incursions into other countries in Latin America.

The Revolution article also pointed out:

In the 1970s, faced with defeat in Vietnam and growing challenges from its Soviet rivals, the U.S. ruling class decided to change how they exercised control over the Panama Canal Zone—from direct U.S. colonial control, to control through the Panamanian neocolonial government.

As that changeover approached, Noriega looked less and less like the man-for-the-job...[The invasion] represented a tightening of the U.S. grip on Panama and all of Latin America. It was one of the first new global moves (after the collapse of the Soviet Union) to push forward the U.S. as the world’s “only superpower”...17

The importance of Panama and the Panama Canal to the U.S. cannot be overstated. Controlling passage through the canal and being able to have military bases in that region in 1989 was a very high priority for the U.S. The Bush regime could not allow a belligerent leader in Panama with the canal’s administrative changeover to Panama only 10 years away.

The invasion of Panama with its brutality and overwhelming force, was a precursor for other U.S. invasions yet to come. On September 11, 1990, George H.W. Bush told Congress that the U.S. was going to implement a “New World Order,” under which the U.S. would use its brute force to enforce its role as the only superpower in the world. Next up was removing Saddam Hussein in Iraq. A few months after Bush’s speech, the U.S. invaded Iraq, killing and wounding “at least 100,000 Iraqis” in a six week period.18


Selected Bibliography

Blum, William, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II—Updated Through 2003, Common Courage Press, 2008.

“Central American Human Rights Commission (CODEHUCA) Panama Delegation Report to Peacenet”

Chomsky, Noam, What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Odonian Press, 1992, the section on The Invasion of Panama.

“How Television Sold the Panama Invasion” by Jeff Cohen and Mark Cook, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting.

Musicant, Ivan, The Banana Wars: A History of the United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990.

“The 25th Anniversary of the Invasion of Panama” by Joseph Palermo, Huffington Post, February 18, 2015.

The Panama Deception, Director: Barbara Trent, Writer and Editor: David Kasper, Narrator: Elizabeth Montgomery, Released: Empowerment Project, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. A Rhino Home Video Release, 1992.

The U.S. Invasion of Panama 1989: The Injustice of “Operation Just CauseRevolution #017, October 9, 2005.

“United States Invasion of Panama” from Wikipedia

 


1. Panama Strongman Said to Trade in Drugs, Arms and Illicit Money,” Seymour Hersh, June 12, 1986, New York Times. [back]

2. Central American Human Rights Commission (CODEHUCA) Panama Delegation Report to Peacenet, (The CODEHUCA report states, “The US invasion of Panama has been presented by the US government and the international media as a surgical strike that toppled the Manuel Noriega regime with minimal human and material cost. This report, prepared by a joint delegation of the Central American Human Rights Commission (CODEHUCA) and the Panamanian Human Rights Commission (CONADEHUPA), is based on testimonies and interviews collected on a recent fact-finding visit to Panama. It reveals that the reality of the Panamanian invasion, and the conditions under which the Panamanians now live, is fundamentally different from the image presented to the international community.” [back]

3. The Panama Deception, documentary film by the Empowerment Project, 1992, narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery and winner of the 1993 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. “The Panama Deception documents the untold story of the December 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama; the events which led to it; the excessive force used; the enormity of the death and destruction; and the devastating aftermath. The Panama Deception uncovers the real reasons for this internationally condemned attack, presenting a view of the invasion which widely differs from that portrayed by the U.S. media and exposes how the U.S. government and the mainstream media suppressed information about this foreign policy disaster.” The film asserts that the U.S. government invaded Panama primarily to destroy the PDF, the Panamanian Defense Forces, who were perceived as a threat to U.S. control over Panama, and to install a U.S.-approved government. The film includes footage of mass graves uncovered after the U.S. troops had withdrawn, burned down neighborhoods, as well as depictions of some of the 20,000 refugees who fled the fighting” (from the Empowerment Project). [back]

4. Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II – Updated Through 2003, William Blum, Common Courage Press, 2008. [back]

5. How Our 1989 Invasion of Panama Explains the Current US Foreign Policy Mess,” Mother Jones, December 23, 2014. [back]

6. CODEHUDCA Report. [back]

7. Fighting in Panama: The President; A Sense of Inevitability In Bush's Decision to Act,” New York Times, December 24, 1989. [back]

8. “U.S. in No Hurry to Quit Panama,” by Thom Shanker and Timothy J. McNulty, Chicago Tribune, December 22, 1989. [back]

9. How the 1989 War on Manuel Noriega’s Panama Super-Charged US Militarism,” Nation, May 30, 2017. [back]

10. “How Television Sold the Panama Invasion”, FAIR.org. [back]

11. John Chancellor, commenting approvingly upon hearing only nine U.S. soldiers had died: “We lose numbers like that in large training exercises.” (NBC, 12/20/89) CNN anchor Ralph Wenge, interviewing a former U.S. military commander, said: “Noriega asked for this. President Bush listed all the things Noriega had done to force him to take action. Why does Noriega do these things?” (12/21/89). Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather all said similar things. [back]

12. “Fighting in Panama: The President,” New York Times, 12/21/89. [back]

13. “How Our 1989 Invasion of Panama Explains the Current US Foreign Policy Mess”, Mother Jones, December 23, 2014. [back]

14. “United States invasion of Panama“, Wikipedia. [back]

15. Musicant, Ivan, The Banana Wars: A History of the United States Military Intervention in Latin America from the Spanish-American War to the Invasion of Panama,  Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1990, p. 391. [back]

16. “The U.S. Invasion of Panama 1989: The Injustice of ‘Operation Just Cause,’” Revolution, October 9, 2005. [back]

17. Ibid. [back]

18. “Tens of Thousands of Iraqi Soldiers' Bodies Left Behind : Casualties: Body count is practically impossible with victims in tanks, bunkers and roadside ditches”, by James Gerstenzang, Los Angeles Times, March 1, 1991. [back]

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/547/american-crime-case-39-the-palmer-raids-of-1919-1920-en.html

American Crime

Case #39: The Palmer Raids of 1919-1920

June 11, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

American Crime

See all the articles in this series.


Arrestees of a raid.

THE CRIME

In the wake of the 1917 Russian Revolution and following World War 1, revolutionary movements and organizations spread throughout the world, including in the U.S. Beginning November 1919 and continuing into 1920, the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched the Palmer Raids: massive raids targeting immigrants, communists, socialists, radicals, and anarchists. Their stated targets were “the Reds”—anyone suspected of sympathy with the Russian revolution or membership in any communist or anarchist organization.

As federal agents flooded into meeting places, workplaces, and homes across the country, they viciously beat and arrested everyone they found. Raids were carried out in more than 50 cities. There are no official statistics of numbers of people rounded up in these raids, but estimates range from 4,000 to 10,000.1 The raids were led by Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer and J. Edgar Hoover (later the FBI director). These raids represented a major escalation of the government’s repressive apparatus and took place in the midst of the “Red Scare,” a campaign to whip up mass hysteria, hatred and violence directed at immigrants, revolutionaries, and radicals.

Although there was no legal basis for most arrests, and most people arrested were later released, many people were deported and many more were held for months without charges. People were beaten and tortured, lives were ruined, and families were torn apart.

One arrested person later said:

[W]hile I was teaching [a class in] algebra and Russian, an agent of the Department of Justice opened the door of the school, walked in with a revolver in his hands and ordered everybody in the school to step aside; then ordered me to step towards him. I wear eye-glasses and the agent of the Department of Justice ordered me to take them off. Then without any provocation, struck me on the head and simultaneously two others struck and beat me brutally. After I was beaten and without strength to stand on my feet, I was thrown down stairs and while I rolled down, other men, I presume also agents of the Department of Justice, beat me with pieces of wood which I later found out were obtained by breaking the banisters. I sustained a fracture of my head, left shoulder, left foot, and right side.2

When the U.S. entered World War 1 in April 1917, the Espionage Act was introduced into Congress and enacted within two months. This act prohibited interference with military operations or recruitment, insubordination in the military, and support of U.S. enemies during wartime, and it was specifically used to stop opposition to the war and other radical activity.

The Espionage Act was amended in May 1918 with the Sedition Act, which specifically prohibited many forms of speech, including “any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States ... or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy.” This was followed by the Immigration Act of 1918, which laid out broad “offenses” that would be cause for deportation of “aliens,” including membership in or affiliation with any anarchist organization or organization advocating the overthrow of the government.

The government used this group of laws to carry out massive arrests of antiwar and radical activists during the war, to attack radical organizations and, through banning use of the postal system, to shut down many radical newspapers like The Masses that had been major voices against the war. The Espionage Act was upheld by the Supreme Court in March 1919 and established a precedent of “clear and present danger” to the government as the basis to suppress free speech.

In June 1919, Palmer established the Radical Division under J. Edgar Hoover. By the end of 1919, this division had reportedly collected 60,000 names of people “under suspicion,” and the stage was set for the Palmer Raids.

Led by Palmer and Hoover, the DOJ carried out the first of the raids on November 7-8, 1919—consciously set to start on the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The raids were carried out in over 15 cities and were aimed at the Union of Russian Workers and Russian immigrants generally. One of the raids was at the Russian Peoples House in New York, a community center for Russian immigrants where the Union of Russian Workers had a small office. The building was ransacked, and everyone in the building was rounded up, beaten, thrown down stairs, and detained. Most had no connection to the Union of Russian Workers, which had become mainly a social organization for Russian immigrants. Several different people gave accounts of the brutality of their ordeals:

I was struck on my head, and ... was attacked by one detective, who knocked me down again, sat on my back, pressing me down to the floor with his knee and bending my body back until blood flowed out of my mouth and nose.

They took me to a room in the basement of the jail with a cement floor, cement walls and an iron door. The room was pitch dark, and the only means for lighting or ventilating it ... was a small hole in the door. The floor of this room was hot and the walls were very warm to the touch. I stayed in this room for thirty-six hours.... I was given one glass of water and one slice of bread.... Since my release ... I have been unable to secure employment, being informed wherever I apply and state my record that persons under suspicion of being bolsheviks3 are not desired.

I ... applied for a pass to see a friend, Mike Lozuk, who was arrested on the 8th day of November, 1919, at a meeting place of Russians in Bridgeport [Connecticut]. ... As soon as I appeared ... I was searched and immediately put under arrest and questioned by an agent of the Department Of Justice. Six men, I presume agents of the Department Of Justice, questioned me and threatened to hang me if I do not tell them the truth. In one instance, an agent ... brought a rope and tied it around my neck, stating that he will hang me immediately if I do not tell him who conducts the meetings and who are the main workers in an organization called the Union of Russian Workers. This inquisition lasted fully three hours, after which I was again threatened to be put into a gas-room and suffocated unless I gave more particulars about other men in the Union of Russian Workers.

The major newspapers, tipped off in advance by Palmer’s agents to promote Red Scare propaganda, sent reporters to cover the raid. According to a New York World report, after the raid, the building looked “as if a bomb had exploded in each room.”4 By the next morning, Hoover had sent reports of the raid to newspapers across the country, leading to headlines such as: “REDS HAD PLANNED TO BOMB FIFTH AVE. STORES” and “PLOT TO KILL HIGH OFFICIALS, TAKE PROPERTY, END RELIGION.”5

While information on mass opposition to the raids is difficult to find, according to Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice (issued by a group of people in the legal arena in May 1920), a mass meeting of protest was held the day after the November 7 raids in New York at Madison Square Garden.6

The second round of the Palmer Raids was aimed at the Communist Party and the Communist Labor Party, where the DOJ had undercover agents. These agents were instructed to organize meetings on the night of January 2, 1920, so the raids could round up as many people as possible and records could be seized at the same time.7 Raids were carried out in at least 33 cities and dozens of small towns.8

Those arrested in the raids were tortured, beaten, subjected to public humiliation, and, in Boston, paraded through streets in chains. Some were held for months without charges in solitary confinement or with little food, no sanitation, and no medical care.9

The Report Upon the Illegal Practices describes the raids in the city of Detroit on January 2, 1920 in which 800 people were arrested in raids on the headquarters of the Communist Party and other locations. They were imprisoned for three to six days in a dark, windowless, narrow corridor in the city’s Federal Building, with one water fountain, one toilet, no food for 24 hours, and no communication with family or attorneys. They were “so closely packed that they had to step over one another’s bodies to move about at all.” Three months later, there were still 450 people held.10

After the January 1920 raids, the Department of Justice sent out form letters, cartoons, and other propaganda material to newspapers across the country to be used by the press to create public opinion in support of this repression.11

To protect their undercover agents, the DOJ relied on getting people who had been arrested to confess to being communists or anarchists or to name other people. This was undercut by an article which had been printed in many radical publications in October 1919. This article popularized the right to an attorney for immigrants caught up in raids, and also advised people to say nothing to authorities when arrested.12 Prior to the 1920 raids, DOJ rules said that arrested persons were supposed to have the right to a lawyer at the beginning of their arrest. Just three days before the 1920 raids, the rule was changed so legal representation did not have to be provided until “later” in the arrest process.13

While the Espionage, Sedition, and Immigration Acts provided a legal framework for the raids, the DOJ actually had no legal authority to carry out raids and roundups of people for deportation. The official legal authority for enforcing immigration laws and issuing arrest warrants for deportation belonged to the Labor Department. But DOJ agents arrested thousands of people without warrants. In fact, DOJ agents were instructed to telegraph Hoover to obtain warrants from the Labor Department for individuals after they were arrested.14,15

As the violence and extralegal acts committed during the raids became widely known, there was opposition even from elements of the ruling class. In May 1920 a group of prominent lawyers, judges, and law professors signed and published the Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice. The authors clearly stated where they stood and what worried them: “We make no argument in favor of any radical doctrine as such, whether Socialist, Communist or Anarchist. No one of us belongs to any of these schools of thought.... No organizations of radicals acting through propaganda over the last six months could have created as much revolutionary sentiment in America as has been created by the acts of the Department of Justice itself.”16

The report exposed illegal and unconstitutional acts that the DOJ had committed in the raids in violation of democratic and civil rights. It reprinted instructions given to DOJ agents to set up meetings on the date of the January 2 raids and reproduced propaganda pieces the DOJ sent to the press. Principally, it reproduced firsthand accounts of people arrested and violently treated in the raids. The report documented six ways the DOJ violated the U.S. Constitution in the raids: 1) cruel and unusual punishments; 2) arrests without warrant; 3) unreasonable searches and seizures; 4) use of undercover “agents provocateurs” (agents who incite others to engage in illegal activity); 5) compelling persons to be witnesses against themselves; 6) propaganda by the Department of Justice.

THE CRIMINALS

A. Mitchell Palmer, U.S. Attorney General from 1919 to 1921, was the architect of the brutal raids in November 1919 and January 1920. Palmer came into office as a liberal Democrat—he supported women’s right to vote and workers’ right to strike, and he released some people previously arrested under the Espionage Act. After a string of bombings in spring 1919 attributed to anarchists, Palmer, acting on behalf of the ruling class, went after everyone considered to be a communist, anarchist, socialist, or other radical with a vengeance. He later blamed Congress for not acting quickly enough against “the Reds” and, after the raids, stated, “I apologize for nothing that the Department of Justice has done in this matter. I glory in it.”17

Edgar Hoover was appointed in 1919 by Palmer to head the Radical Division of the General Intelligence Unit, whose goal was to monitor and disrupt the work of domestic radicals. Hoover played a prominent role in organizing and orchestrating the Palmer Raids and their aftermath. He manipulated the press to create public opinion by feeding propaganda and press releases before, during, and after the raids. Hoover became the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), established not long after the Palmer Raids. He remained FBI director and continued the mission of going after communists until his death, attacking progressive and radical causes and people, including the vicious repression done under COINTELPRO in the 1960s and 1970s. (See American Crime series on FBI-Chicago police assassination of Fred Hampton, FBI-COINTELPRO targeting of the Black freedom struggle and COINTELPRO-FBI targeting of the New Left.)

Woodrow Wilson. As U.S. president, Wilson held ultimate responsibility for the actions of the Justice Department and the Palmer Raids. In the 1916 presidential campaign, he urged that legislation be passed against people who displayed disloyal behavior and said that they had no right to civil liberties because of their behavior: “Any man who carries a hyphen about with him [referring to German-American, Italian-American, etc.] carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic.”18 He sent 13,000 troops into Russia after the revolution there to intervene in the civil war with the intention of destroying the socialist revolution and of dragging Russia back into World War 1. During World War 1 he established the Alien Enemy Bureau in the Department of Justice to arrest and jail allegedly disloyal foreigners without trial. He pushed through Congress the Espionage, Sedition, and Immigration Acts, which broadened the criteria for deportation.

The media was a major factor in whipping up anti-immigrant, anti-radical and anti-Russian Revolution sentiment. The press enthusiastically and prominently published propaganda from the DOJ that incited public opinion against communists, radicals, and immigrants.

THE ALIBI

In the immediate post-World War 1 period, the U.S. was wracked by a tremendous amount of upheaval in response to rampant inflation and the lack of jobs for veterans returning from the war. 1919 saw major strikes in the steel, coal, and meat-packing industries as well as hundreds of strikes throughout the country. Almost four million people were on strike in 1919, and there was an average of 200 strikes per month. Early January 1919 saw a general strike in Seattle of 60,000 workers which paralyzed the city’s normal services for about a week. The nationwide U.S. Steel strike of September 1919 involved over 365,000. Historians describe this upheaval as raising new demands and revolutionary language inspired by the Russian Revolution.19

The summer and early fall of 1919 also saw more than two dozen Black communities targeted by vigilante attacks by white mobs. For the first time, the press acknowledged Black people’s resistance in fighting back against these attacks, and at the same time tried to demonize the resistance—for example, a headline in Chicago read: “Reds Try to Stir Negroes to Revolt.”20

As all this was going on, in May and June 1919, there were attempted and actual bombings, attributed to anarchists, at the homes of several prominent capitalists and government officials, including Palmer. These bombings became a nodal point in ratcheting up the propaganda war to whip up “anti-red” and anti-immigrant sentiment. A headline in the New York Times on June 8, 1919 declared: “RUSSIAN REDS ARE BUSY HERE—Workers’ Union Has 500 Agents Spreading Bolshevism in the United States.”

During the period following World War 1 and the victory of the 1917 Russian revolution, speeches from the highest levels of government and editorials and articles in the press charged immigrants, labor radicals, communists, socialists, and anarchists with plans to overthrow the government by force in the near future. Immigrants were especially demonized and targeted as threats to the U.S. The government used the anarchist bombings of 1919 to create public opinion and justification for the raids, even though the raids targeted a wide spectrum of people, not just anarchists.

Palmer justified the raids in an essay he wrote in February 1920, “The Case Against the ‘Reds’”:

Like a prairie-fire, the blaze of revolution was sweeping over every American institution of law and order.... It was eating its way into the homes of the American workman, its sharp tongues of revolutionary heat were licking the altars of the churches, leaping into the belfry of the school bell, crawling into the sacred corners of American homes, seeking to replace marriage vows with libertine laws, burning up the foundations of society.

In a December 1915 address to Congress, President Woodrow Wilson stated in part:

There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes to strike at them, and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue.... I urge you to enact such laws at the earliest possible moment and feel that in doing so I am urging you to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out.”21

THE ACTUAL MOTIVE

The early 1900s were marked by tremendous labor unrest and massive radical and antiwar activity in the U.S. Many working people, including many immigrants, were followers of socialist, communist, or anarchist parties. While the U.S. emerged from World War 1 as a rising imperialist power, the most significant change in the world following World War 1 was the Russian Revolution—the first time in history that a communist revolution had triumphed anywhere in the world. In the wake of this revolution, radical and revolutionary sentiment grew even stronger in large parts of the world as well as in the U.S. The growth of revolutionary movements in many countries, the widespread wave of support for revolution and the influence of revolutionary ideas sent fear of revolt and revolution into the rulers of every capitalist country.

As a major imperialist power, the U.S. rulers could not allow the spread and growing influence of communism. The federal government needed and began to forge a centralized repressive apparatus. The Palmer Raids, along with suppression of dissent, violation of constitutional rights, illegal arrests, and widespread propaganda against “un-American” activity and ideas, were all part of the campaign to consolidate this apparatus and crush communist and radical opposition.

REPEAT OFFENDERS

The legal basis for the Palmer Raids, the Espionage Act, is still in effect and being used. Daniel Ellsberg was indicted under the Espionage Act for release of the Pentagon papers. It has been used, or threatened to be used, against Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Reality Winner, among others.

Key Sources:

Books

Ackerman, Kenneth D., The Young J Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare and the Assault on Civil Liberties, Carroll & Graf, 2007.

Hoyt, Edwin P., The Palmer Raids 1919-1920: An Attempt to Suppress Dissent, The Seabury Press, 1969.

Preston Jr., William, Aliens and Dissenters: Federal Suppression of Radicals, 1903-1933, 2nd edition, University of Illinois Press, 1994.

Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice, The National Popular Government League, May 1920.

Articles

Espionage Act of 1917,” Wikipedia.org

“The Case Against the Reds,” A. Mitchell Palmer, The Forum, February 1920

 


1. The only official numbers released on numbers of people rounded up were released by the Department of Justice as of midnight January 2, 1920: 2,585, citing numbers by city and/or state. One source estimates up to 5,000 rounded up in that January raid. No additional official statistics were ever released for either the November or January raids. No solid numbers are available for the November raids other than 211 seized in New York at the Russian Peoples House, all but 38 being released by morning, and as many as 1,000 were seized the following day, with most released without charge. U.S. Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana claimed that 10,000 people were rounded up. And some sources state that 6,500 people were ultimately released without any charges.  [back]

2. Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice, The National Popular Government League, May 1920. All firsthand accounts from the raids are drawn from this report.  [back]

3. “Bolsheviks” refers to the Bolshevik Party, led by V.I. Lenin, who led the victorious Russian Revolution in 1917.  [back]

4. Ackerman, Kenneth D., The Young J Edgar: Hoover, the Red Scare and the Assault on Civil Liberties, Carroll & Graf, 2007, p.116.  [back]

5. Ackerman, p.121.  [back]

6. Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice, p.18.  [back]

7. Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice, pp.39-40.  [back]

8. Ackerman, p.180.  [back]

9. Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice, Affidavits 1-1c, 2-2f, 5a, 5b and 9.  [back]

10. Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice, pp.22-23.  [back]

11. Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice, p.66.  [back]

12. Preston Jr., William. Aliens and Dissenters: Federal Suppression of Radicals, 1903-1933. 2nd edition. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. pp.214-215.  [back]

13. Preston, pp.212-217.  [back]

14. Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice, p.44.  [back]

15. Preston, pp.210-211. There was no Immigration Department or ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) in 1919. A. Mitchell Palmer himself, in “The Case Against the ‘Reds’” (The Forum February 1920, p.4) defends how the DOJ and the Department of Labor came to work together illegally:

Although this law [Immigration Act of 1918] is entirely under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor, it seemed to be the only means at my disposal of attacking the radical movement. To further this plan, as Congress had seen fit to refuse appropriations to the Department of Labor which might have enabled it to act vigorously against the “Reds,” I offered to cooperate with the immigration officials to the fullest extent. My appropriation became available July 19, 1919. I then organized what is known as the Radical Division [headed by Hoover].  [back]

16. Report Upon the Illegal Practices of the United States Department of Justice pp.3-4.  [back]

17. Hoyt, Edwin P., The Palmer Raids 1919-1920: An Attempt to Suppress Dissent, The Seabury Press, 1969, p.55.  [back]

18. Schmidt, Regin, Red Scare: FBI and the Origins of Anticommunism in the United States, 1919-1943, Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen, 2000, p.74.  [back]

19. PBS film American Experience: The Bombing of Wall Street, 2018.  [back]

20. “First Red Scare,” Wikipedia.org.  [back]

21. “Espionage Act of 1917,” Wikipedia.org.  [back]

 

 

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/622/demarcations-special-issue-en.html

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.”

 

 

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

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/604/match-challenge-of-1000-met-en.html

Match Challenge of $1,000 Met During the Livestream: “Why We Burned the Flag, What This Revolution Is All About, and How You Can Be Part of It”

| revcom.us

 

From readers:

On Sunday, July 7, Revolution Books in NYC hosted a Livestream event with Andy Zee, Sunsara Taylor, and the flag-burners from the Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour. You can watch it here. An important step forward towards reaching the goal of raising $50,000 needed for the Tour over the summer was taken by a supporter announcing a $1,000 match challenge: If we raised $1,000, she would match it, making a total of $2,000 in donations. Good news! We raised $1,110 with an additional $100 pledged afterwards that day, matching the goal. People were very inspired by the flag-burners and this National Revolution Tour to donate, many citing the crimes of U.S. imperialism, and the hope and possibility of many more people coming to the side of making radical change.

Will you take up the challenge now to scale up the fundraising? Get ready: the Chicago Tour started July 13. Set a goal: Donate, get your friends to match your donation, provide housing, food, travel needs, printing needs. Let us know what you can do and why you are doing it. Every donation, large and small, one time or monthly, matters. Here is the  statement from the person who made the $1,000 match challenge during the Livestream (which was written when Joey Johnson and another revolutionary were still in jail after the DC flag-burning, facing criminal charges that initially included a felony charge against Joey), and statements from others who donated.

Stand with Humanity and the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour to Meet This $1,000 Challenge

The National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour needs our support to propel this project forward. They plan to go to Chicago, New York and other cities across the country. They have travel expenses; food; lodging; printing costs for materials; legal costs and more. They have shown bravery and fortitude. They are proving that we can transform the people and expand our forces. They bring inspiration and hope, based on science, for a better world. The tour must be “scaled up” so that they can reach more people and expand this work. We do not want generations of people to have to continue this fight.

Step up and donate to the tour and I will match this up to $1,000. The Tour needs to raise $50,000 this summer, and if you donate now, we would have the first $2,000 of this amount. In fact, I challenge others to make this match as well. Once the first $1,000 is raised, will you pledge to match my $1,000?

I am back with this second challenge because I am convinced that the only way out of the hell that this system brings down on billions of people on the planet is through revolution. This project has as its goal to spread the word about the need for revolution and the leadership we have in Bob Avakian and his scientific formulation in the “New Synthesis of Communism.” This is the strategy for revolution and a whole new world structured with the highest aspirations of humanity in mind, and a world not based on plunder and exploitation.

I am amazed and inspired by what the Tour has been able to accomplish, even since my last challenge in April of this year. You stepped up! Thanks so much. We need you again to step up and we must work hard to get others involved to support this Tour. No less than the people of the world and the planet depend on it. So much has happened that shows the power this Tour has to build for an actual revolution.

Joey Johnson, Carl Dix, Noche Diaz and other members of the Revolution Club courageously burned the red, white and blue American rag on July 4 in front of the White House. This provocative action was needed to go up against the fascist display of military might with Trump’s tanks; weapons of mass destruction and flyovers. This rag is soaked in the blood of immigrants and slaves and Native Americans slaughtered in genocide. It is soaked in the tears of the children in cages at the Mexican border and some dying from abuse and neglect. This rag flies over the military bases the USA commands in over 100 countries around the globe and it embodies other heinous crimes against humanity. Our comrades now have serious charges leveled against them. Comrades supporting this call from the Tour burned rags on the U.S.-Mexican border and other cities across the country. The DC event was covered by journalists nationally and internationally and has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on social media. That rag burning says to the world that there are people in this country who oppose what this fascist regime is doing and are fighting for another world. I am proud to be a part of all of this!

The Revolution Tour spent a good deal of time in LA with actions that “disturbed” the air and projected a disciplined and organized force for revolution. They showed that they were there to “make a political war on this system” and that “enough is enough.” Noche Diaz gave powerful lessons about the role of the police in this system and of the sordid history of the U.S. They connected with people in South Central LA where the Rodney King beating was videoed years ago when some of the Revcoms were not even born yet! This, now, was a beautiful thing to behold. The Tour members wearing the “BA Speaks—Revolution, Nothing Less” T shirts marching in formation chanting “what’s the problem? The whole damn system! What’s the solution? REVOLUTION!” I was greatly moved by stories of people who this system would be just fine killing off, raising their heads and daring to hope that they could be a part of putting a stop to all of the crap that they must endure each day. Watching kids from the hood putting on the BA shirts in their first steps into the revolution was heart rendering and awe inspiring!

The Revolution Tour worked to bring forward people from diverse backgrounds and from all parts of the socioeconomic strata to check out this movement. They worked with students from UCLA; they went into the neighborhoods; they gave speeches and held picnics getting out the word about what this revolution is all about and why it is needed. We heard a young Jamaican man whose parents were deported when he was very young and he had to survive on his own talk about stepping “outside of my fear” to step up to be a part of this movement. He passionately talked about how even at a young age he thought that this was not right and something needed to change. He was compelled to listen to the Revcoms and jump into the revolution. As Lenny Wolff said, “Something is being born here. If you cannot see it, something is wrong with you.”

I have been following the Tour closely, mainly by looking at the revcom.us website almost every day and listening to interviews with Revolution Club members and leaders of the Tour on the The Michael Slate Show which can be streamed on KPFK radio archives in LA. There are important lessons and guidance there and I encourage everyone to follow the tour at revcom.us and @tuneintorevcom on twitter. Please send in your thoughts, experiences and questions to revolution.reports@yahoo.com.

—A mental health professional and supporter of the revolution

Other Statements

From someone who donated $250: “Deepest thanks for the courageous Revolutionary RevComs. Your action in DC was inspiring. It was also a real example of putting Humanity First which is the essence of proletarian internationalism. I imagined in my mind what your action meant to the hearts of the masses and Revolutionaries in Iran who I have deep affection for... U.S. imperialism keep your bloody hands off Iran.”

From someone who donated $50: “As part of $1,000 donation and as a message to the people of this world that there are people in this country who are fighting for humanity first, not the USA first. Revolution Nothing Less.”

A longtime supporter of the revolution donated $200.

An African-American man said since the age of five he has witnessed the crimes of this system. He feels that this is an important moment to support the Tour because he has seen people come over to the side of making a radical change in the society.

Why We Burned The Flag, What This Revolution Is All About—And How You Can Be A Part Of It


July 4, at the U.S./Mexico border.

Donate to the Get Organized for An ACTUAL Revolution Tour

Summer Fundraising Goal: $50,000

Read more

Join the REVOLUTION CLUB


June 8, South Central.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/624/andy-zee-an-appeal-to-save-revolution-books-en.html

A Letter From Andy Zee:

An Appeal to Save Revolution Books

A Beacon in Dangerous Times

| revcom.us

 

To the Revolution Books Community,

I write to ask for your support for Revolution Books when it is needed more than ever—a moment of stark contrast between our hopes and dreams for the future and the stark reality that great catastrophe looms as fascist regimes take root here and around the world.

Revolution Books embodies the potential for humanity in these dark times. You felt this when you first walked through our door and found the literature, poetry, history, science, art, and the revolutionary theory for a radically different world. You experienced programs and engagement with us and with each other that percolated with emancipatory possibility. What you felt at RB is precious and especially so when this beacon that lights the way forward is so needed.

Revolution Books is alive with the scientific understanding that a different and better world is possible. RB is the political, intellectual, and cultural center of a movement for an actual revolution and that is why it is a unique incredible bookstore—a resource for the world.  The animating heart of the store is the framework for unleashing the revolutionary potential of humanity: the breakthrough in scientifically knowing and radically changing the world through revolution, the new communism developed by Bob Avakian, a leader who never gave up asking the hard questions of the road forward to human emancipation and developing the path to that future.

This past month marks the fourth anniversary of Revolution Books in Harlem. RB has been enriched by the diversity and great cultural legacy of Harlem and has enriched the community. Yet, too few even in Harlem know we are here. RB urgently needs your financial support as well as your problem solving creativity so that this year not be our last. Our volunteer staff are determined that this end not come to pass, but that will only be possible with you. We are confident that working together we can solve the problem of making RB financially viable. Our immediate goal is to raise $50,000 by January 31, 2020.  And do so in a way so that going forward Revolution Books is sustainable and known far and wide—filling a great need for revolutionary possibility in dangerous times.

The heart of the problem Revolution Books confronts is a society wide problem. In the face of the danger of the white supremacist fascist Trump/Pence regime and with the future of humanity threatened by global warming, way too many people have turned inward. We have a culture of the “selfie”—a society obsessed with “look at me” as I look out for just me—while the world literally burns and drowns.

Revolution Books brings a whole different ethos and culture—you’ve experienced it. Books that matter. History that tells the truth. Novels that imagine the past, tell of other peoples, or imagine a different future. Children’s books that reach across cultures and foster a positive morality. Author readings and discussions with progressive writers from Pulitzer Prize winners to new authors who enlighten and challenge, and mix it up with RB’s spokespeople who probe and elicit the best from our guests. At RB we seek to foster a culture of revolt against a revolting culture while nurturing art that imagines in the present what a future world and people could be. And, at RB people experience and can take up the science of revolution in the extensive body of work of Bob Avakian that shatters demoralized defeatist preconceptions that the misery and spirit crushing world of today is all that could be.

If RB were known everywhere throughout Harlem, NYC, and damn it— the world, it could be self-sufficient. With you, this is possible. With the funds to get the word out—mass publicity, a robust internet presence, and an even wider stock of books—that could change the equation. But, to get there, we need you and others like you problem solving and working with us on raising funds, awareness and programming. With that, RB would not only thrive, but more, we would all be a leg up on changing the culture and the world.

Donate generously today to raise the $50,000 needed to sustain the store. And become a monthly sustaining Friend of Revolution Books.

The great playwright Bertolt Brecht posed:

In the dark times
Will there be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing.
About the dark times.

At Revolution Books there are the songs and poems of the bitter fruit of the past and present, but at our core is a conquering spirit, a radical imagination, and a scientific method to illuminate the fight out of the darkness and to a world fit for humanity.

¡Adelanté!

Andy Zee
Spokesperson
Revolution Books

437 Malcolm X Blvd.
Harlem, NY 10037

PS: Join us for wine and cheese Fridays at RB and give a book to and open the world for someone you care about.

Donate generously to Revolution Books HERE


Andy Zee and author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o at Revolution Books

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

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/627/sonoma-county-sheriffs-beat-tase-choke-en.html

Sonoma County Sheriffs Beat, Tase, Choke Disabled 52‑year-old to Death

| revcom.us

 

David Glen Ward was a 52-year-old living in Petaluma in northern California. David was disabled from a previous auto accident, suffered from heart disease, and had trouble walking, talking, and breathing. In late November he was pistol-whipped by a carjacker. Then on November 27, after retrieving his stolen car, he ran into brutal thugs far more vicious and deadly than the carjacker: the Sonoma County sheriffs. He fled from them—perhaps in fright or frustration. “I can’t believe this, I’m the injured party in this.” Later he asked, “Why you f— harassing me all the time?”

This sickening video shows how after he stopped and was following their commands, these police still violently slammed his head against his car, choked, and tased him as they dragged him out of his car through its open window. Then as David Glen Ward lay handcuffed, unconscious and dying on the ground, these murderous pigs did next to nothing except whine about how they’d been bitten. When the cops realized that Ward was the owner of the car, not a carjacker, Deputy Charlie Blount, the pig who had beaten and choked him said, “Oh well.”

On Friday, December 20, the Sonoma County Sheriff released the body-cam footage and announced Blount would be fired. But this does nothing to stop the rash of police murders in northern California. In August 2018, police in Stanislaus County shot and killed 15-year-old Carmen Spencer Mendez as he ran from them. In November 2018, Danville police murdered 33-year-old Laudemer Arboleda who was unarmed as he attempted to flee in his car. In 2013, these same Sonoma County sheriffs murdered 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Petaluma for having a toy gun.


David G. Ward

Start at 5:45 to see the confrontation.

 

 

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

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/627/iowa-woman-targets-latina-teen-en.html

Iowa, December 9: 14-Year-Old Natasha Miranda Intentionally Hit By Car—Because She Was "a Mexican"

| revcom.us

 

A 14-year-old girl was walking on the sidewalk to her junior high school for a basketball game in West Des Moines, Iowa, on December 9 when she saw an SUV leave the road, heading right toward her. The young girl, Natasha Miranda, was struck down and run over, then the car drove away. It’s believed Natasha was unconscious for 15 minutes in the snow before she was able to get up and stumble the last few blocks to the school. Natasha was treated for a concussion and numerous other injuries.

According to the police, the driver of the vehicle, a 42-year-old white woman, told them that she drove her car onto the sidewalk and struck the young girl intentionally,because she was “a Mexican.” The driver is being charged with attempted murder. She has not yet been charged with a hate crime. Fortunately, Natasha was able to return to school a week after the incident.

This is what Make America Great Again looks like. The Trump/Pence regime’s demonization and criminalization of Latinos and other people who are not white has created an atmosphere where racist, white supremacist sentiments are encouraged and emboldened, and increasingly acted out, in life threatening incidents like this one, or in the mass killing spree we saw in El Paso.


Natasha Miranda

 

 

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

 

Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

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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/627/correspondence-from-readers-on-hope-for-humanity-en.html

Correspondence from Readers about Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis

| revcom.us

 

Reflections off Reading Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis

Editors note: These are edited excerpts of reflections by members of the National Revolution Tour and the Revolution Club, sparked by their reading and engagement of Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis: Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism, by Bob Avakian.

I mainly dedicated a lot of time to rereading the piece Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis and there’s a lot to get into, so these are just my initial thoughts as well as questions.

I think that there are many important things that are tightly packed into this piece, including how to approach the ways people are thinking in this moment with a fascist regime in power and acting commensurately with that. It really speaks to where the outlooks of individualism, American chauvinism, parasitism actually come from and are not just forms of “selfishness” that get in the way of people acting in the interest of humanity, but are outlooks that have a real material basis in reality to be taken up spontaneously because of the workings of capitalism-imperialism and how it conditions people to think. Also, if challenged in the right way it can be transformed and has to be seen as a problem of the revolution that we have to solve with the very masses of people who are influenced by it in one way or another in order to change it.

I was thinking more about what BA says: “[T]here’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.”

How do we unleash this hope in a mass way and have a situation where many people are starting to see that the world doesn’t have to be this way even in a basic sense? How does that relate to the two-way street and the role of the revolutionaries in this moment? I think I see a lot of this basic hope within the youth who are striking for the climate around the world, or the students on different campuses more recently protesting against Ann Coulter, Trump Jr., etc., and the people flooding the streets in different countries demanding the ouster of oppressive regimes. Where that goes is a question, but I think that’s where a lot of the potential for things to break open in society lies, and how these different outpourings and responses in society can have an impact on the people who are not acting, and is key in the process of making revolution. I feel like once this basic understanding comes into play, a whole lot of different things can come into question and to the fore even in a short period of time, but there’s a need to follow those basic convictions through because individualism/American chauvinism are actively working against even obtaining that basic understanding. But I think outlining where hope comes from on a scientific basis, and comparing it to faith/religion or lack of hope is important, because it allows people to compare and contrast what is to how things could be, and how there’s a basis to get there in reality, if that makes sense.

Not to jump around, but something I hadn’t thought of more deeply but struck me when rereading this piece was the section on individualism and “indifference.” And I think it’s because this outlook I’ve seen play out and taken up by people I know (including myself) who should know better, and has done great harm to people on an individual level but ultimately great harm to the masses of humanity. And the indifference can go easily unnoticed or unchallenged because it’s very much the norm, but makes it all the more poisonous, frustrating and dangerous. What I see and have seen in people is very concentrated in these two parts:

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.

I’ve experienced and seen a lot of this “I’m doing me,” and thought it was wrong and ugly, but didn’t actually walk it all the way through on what that kind of outlook is bound up with and what the actual effects are in reality when you act like that. People are individuals, but we don’t just exist as individuals and what we choose to do or not do has an effect on the people around us and on society as whole, even if we know it or not.

The thing around being forced into competition and conflict is still something I’m wrestling with, but I can see it in the ways that women are forced to compete with one another over men, or people ignoring the larger world on the basis of doing their own thing, meanwhile, the ability to function that way actually rests on the lives of human beings, especially living in America where everything we have or own is acquired through a global network of exploitation (food, clothes, etc.) And this kind of mentality really reminds me of the dominant social media culture/selfie culture where people live out their whole lives posting pictures of themselves or their brand on social media and it can be liked by thousands of people, who in turn those people are kind of living vicariously through these social media influencers because they want that kind of life and can’t have it, and gives them a way to be consumed with something really meaningless and not pay attention to the world. [back to top]

 


There’s a lot to be gleaned from why it is that BA opens up this work, which deals a lot with the obstacles that stand in the way of masses of people acting in the interests of humanity, in a way that shatters the misguided and harmful notion that “things have always been this way” or, at least, “nothing can be done to change things.” BA provides some texture of “the times” of the Sixties, not just because it’s interesting in its own right (although it is), but as a way to illustrate how drastically different circumstances and people can be, and how quickly they can be transformed in a positive direction. This overall analysis and summation of this period, the key social forces and the thinking of the people, is done with a lot of materialism and historical sweep. The section which hits at religion illustrates an approach and method which is consistent with what he put forward in the Dialogue with Cornel West, and the “big arms” of a communist statesman. It’s really important to know why religion is such a mental shackle, what that means in general, and in particular for the struggle against oppression and for revolution and a better world.

The section on individualism deals with both the underlying philosophical and material underpinnings of the forms of individualism that are so dominant in the society and the world and their connection to the world-historic conjunction we face with ascendant, consolidating fascism and the largely passive, inactive masses of people who are effectively collaborating with and allowing this to happen by their inaction. The formulation of Pelosi’s “Three Fears” is particularly relevant for how we both orient people and how we “push on” the objective situation in this period, and without this analysis, masses of people will be left confused and led by one section of the bourgeoisie or another to explain (or explain away) the divisions at the top.

Similarly, the “A Question and A Challenge” on the real possibility of Trump either being re-elected or refusing to leave office, continues to be essential. We’ve used this “provocation” a lot in the course of mass work (although a lot more could be, and should be done going forward, as RefuseFascism/#OUTNOW continues towards another manifestation), and it has transformed some of how we’ve gone at working with people, in that it concentrates a good deal of method: putting the problems of the revolution (and what is, in this case, a BIG problem for the masses of humanity overall, whether they realize it or not) before the masses of people, and active social investigation as a pivot into organizing. This experience has been uneven, particularly when it comes to organizing, and it’s totally different from passive social investigation, which can be a tendency.

The question of individuality being given flight and people’s potential creativity and freedom being unleashed on a whole other level and with a different basis under Communism is something that really connected with me in a way this point hasn’t before. The way it’s put here was very illuminating. [back to top]

 


This shit really got my brain going... It so well stitched and consistent! BA is so awesome. Mostly I feel like I need to read it two or three more times though to be honest.

While reading Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis there were a lot of things that provoked me, but I felt profoundly struck by this part near the beginning where BA is talking about the relation between the movement for revolution and the immediate need to #OUTNOW the fascists. This is not a one-way street and should not be viewed in a linear mechanical sense, i.e. “first we build a mass movement to remove the Trump/Pence fascists and then turn our efforts to working for revolution.” He makes the point that we have to unite and mobilize masses of people from different perspectives, but that it will be extremely difficult to do this on the scale and with the determination that is needed to meet our objective if there are not greater numbers of people coming forward around the understanding that its both necessary to remove the regime, and the whole system from whose contradictions fascism is born. In particular, I was provoked by the this determination point. I started to wonder about what kind of determination will be required and how that determination will be forged and what kind of understanding is needed to fuel and sustain it. BA does make the point in this same paragraph that “[T]he 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.” I get the sense that hope and determination go together, and that the defining character of that hope is decisive. Will the determination of the people be forged by the kind of hope that is marked by any of the many strands of individualism? Or will the determination of the people be forged, influenced, and strengthened by the understanding, even a basic understanding at first, of why there is no permanent necessity for things to be as they are now? Hope on a scientific basis.

If the latter is to win out, the forces for revolution need to be thinking of strategic, creative, and tactical ways to wage the ideological battle for the emancipation of humanity now in that most crucial arena of Epistemology. Deepening our own understanding and thereby strengthening our own resolve while carrying this out in practice is crucial. Knowing is theoretical vitality, it gives us hope and fuels our determination, it can and must do the same very broadly for humanity and its future. BA makes this clear and emphasizes that it’s not just that Knowing about actual reality and grasping the essential character of the scientific method is crucial for academics, but it is vitally important for those who catch the worst hell under this fucked-up system here and all over the world; for all those who can and must become not just the backbone, but the driving force of a revolution to bend the bars and break the chains of all oppression and exploitation throughout the world.

To uproot a thing you have to have a firm grip. To uproot the parasite of capitalism-imperialism, you’re gonna need the most consistent, systematic, and comprehensive scientific approach to reality, the communist world outlook and method, and more specifically, the work that BA has been doing for decades. On this point of the communist world outlook, it’s actually what is needed. BA says, “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....” Marx and Engels for their part made the declaration over 150 years ago that the communist revolution, and emancipating principles, methods, and aims involves a radical rupture with the traditional property relations that enslave people, and a radical rupture with all the traditional ideas that reflect and reinforce those property relations. Understanding the radical difference between faith and the process of acquiring rational knowledge is of the utmost importance in carrying out the struggle to achieve these two sets of radical ruptures, and taking the next leap toward a whole new and liberating era in human history. All this has really provoked and inspired some ambition in me to dig deeper and fight harder in the arena of epistemology, to step up my game and deepen my understanding, to learn from and alongside my comrades and the masses, while fighting for and seeking out the truth no matter how unpopular it might be. [back to top]

 


I have been thinking a lot about the title of the BA’s book: Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis and what the relationship is between hope and a scientific basis. And that there is a dialectical relationship between both understanding scientifically why the world doesn’t have to be this way and hope for something better. Hope in something real. Not religion or things that are unseen but hope for something that could be. I think about Outernational’s song, I got these dreams, when I sleep and I got these dreams that really could be. In a time where the future is in peril, the planet itself and a fascist regime on the brink of consolidating power—big questions of whether or not there is going to be the future, hope on scientific foundation is our biggest strength. If it were to take root, (and how does it take root?) it could be game changing.

 I was struck by in the piece where he talks about the tremendous importance to people getting a basic understanding that there is no necessity of existing conditions and why that it is, and I wonder how do we bring that understanding to people, not just in a one-to-one way but to blocs of people and what’s the process people enter into to develop that understanding, not just in an academic sense, although theory is tremendously important for people. One thing that I have gotten a deeper appreciation is the relationship between the Enriched What Is To Be Doneism, putting the problems before people, and the struggle over how people arrive at what’s true and what they understand.

Part of this, is people themselves are then brought into a conscious process of getting at what’s true and I think we need a lot more of this—but also not applying EWITBD because you are trying to get people to think a certain way, but you are trying to get them to THINK CRITICALLY, also wanting to learn a lot from that process vs. we have our fixed way of doing things. This is a big part of what I applied with people who came to the meeting, asking them about the elections, how did they see the elections stopping this? What would happen if Trump won again? What do they understand about what we are trying to do?

And then there are a lot of other important points BA is making about what we are confronted by, in particular in a country like this, where people whose outlook is self out, and the fact that, yes, people are individuals but they are that IN A larger context.

Some of us were re-watching that movie Human Flow by Ai Weiwei which everyone should see; it’s about the massive refugee crisis and it documents what people go through along with really bringing to life their humanity, and this hits you even harder, because these people aren’t just numbers, but as Rachel Corrie said, “They are us and we are them.” And then you think of people who are have literally spent their whole lives in these refugee camps with nothing, not electricity, no clean water, no clean sanitation, with disease and so forth, and all the gates and walls going up around the country, and then people want to say, well I’m just going to “do me” or follow my dreams. Completely oblivious not only to what is happening in the world, but actually part of why this shit has happened has been because of what YOUR country has done to these other countries in pursuit of its riches, the wars, the destruction to the environment. You want to think you are independent of this but you aren’t, you are part of this, your life, your goodies came from that, you are bound up in this network of exploitation, you didn’t choose it, but you exist in it so let’s all just stop pretending like we are just people following our dreams absent of that. This was one thing that had a big impact on me, when I went to Costa Rica and we stayed in a village, and we stayed in this really nice house with a pool and everything, and next door, people had huts with no electricity. And on my visit—I was seriously considering living there and being off the grid, not working anymore, but then I confronted, actually while I was there, and even more sharply—did I really want to be someone who turned my back on all those other people so that I could have my comforts. And so I decided against it.

This is also what I was thinking about in relation to the American Crime series. That people have no fucking idea what is happening around the world or what these imperialists have done and the murderous organization that the Democratic Party is. I’d like us to have a big chart with all the crimes of the Democratic Party and have people add on to it as a project, something visual that could be taken to different places where you say—how many people have to be massacred by an organization before you declare them a murderous organization... It’s amazing to me you can live in a country responsible for such massive atrocities—as Frederick Douglass said, “For revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

There’s a lot to say too about the BEB, the illusions of Painless Progress, & people striving to come under the wing of the bourgeoisie, and all this is driven by not what is in the interests of humanity, but by self, not paying attention to the larger dynamics shaping up in society and so forth. The thing that struck me in this piece too is how he identifies all the different expressions of how the individualism takes shape in opposition to a communist outlook—the narrowness of identify politics, the pseudo-cynicism, excusing your refusal to do anything and a persistent sense of entitlement, not wanting to confront the overt leap of fascism because it means you might have to do things differently.

There is really a lot of ugliness in people’s thinking, but all of this is important to compare and contrast, hitting at the American Chauvinism can break people out of that. Even when Colin Kaepernick sat down for the flag, what got cut out was the best thing about it—how he was challenging the narrative that America is the greatest country in the world, and instead what he was doing was “being patriotic” by trying to make this country live up to its true values... So I think there is a question around how do you hit at something that deep and what is the relationship between standing up, and going up against all the ways of thinking in society and bringing to life that fact that the world doesn’t have to be this way—we could have a world without all this white supremacy, exploitation, degradation of women, without the wars and borders and walls and tanks to enforce them, and how truly liberating that would be. Something worth fighting and dying for & something worth sacrificing for. [back to top]

 


When I first read this piece, the part that stood out to me was the one on the youth. How BA was posing questions or where is it that the youth are at and where he provided different observations from the past when he was younger & during the time of the ’60s to some obstacles the youth are going through now. He talked about how the feeling of “who are these people to run things” not coming from a self out or identity perspective but coming from the danger... to humanity or feeling like they are incapable of what is needed to be done. This point led me to pay more attention to art & culture among the youth from popular artists to memes, TikToks & YouTube content creators.

... Every generation has some bit of rebelliousness but the character matters & a lot of what is out there is in alignment with the points on individualism that he makes in this piece.

The other point that I mentioned earlier was the point on the infantilization of the youth and treating them as if they can’t or shouldn’t handle the reality of what’s going on. This made me reflect on my years of high school, some of our work with students, but more so how youth are treated in society overall. I’ve noticed that when talking to youth seriously and speaking plainly to the reality of what is going on, the more common reaction is retreating in to the comfort of that “infancy” or so to speak “I’m too young” or “I can’t vote” and other responses that correspond to this.

It’s very tricky because at the same time there is a major wave of youth stepping out around the climate crises & who are taking up the position of “you guys have fucked up the world and now it’s up to us to save it.” Yet this goes out of focus & that conscious recognition goes back to an oblivious & parasitic state. Modeled in new pop culture trends of alternative lifestyles or “groups” such as VSCO girls—who are eco-conscious but still live consumer lives with talk of saving turtles by having metal straws or e-girls & boys who are modern day “scene kids” that ridicule this lifestyle but seem to have a basic agreement that if anything the environment is being destroyed but who are still proceeding from ME ME ME I I I with their internet personas. I think this new piece not only poses a lot of questions but provides some concrete backing for the potential that there is to tap into what could be a turning point in (1) learning from people & (2) giving people hope on a scientific foundation.

I’ll have to read it again but I hope to write more thoughts on this in the future. [back to top]

 


In general I think this is a very complete piece that breaks down some important fundamental theory, and at the same time is struggling big time to break down most of the dominant frameworks in American society, as well as the challenges posed to people who want to fight for revolution.

For example one very heavy insight is brought up when the author at the beginning is talking about the fight to oust fascism, and references Steve King’s comment which is very heavy and as he points out has a “demented insight” of what are some of the dynamics that are at play right now with the fascists and the opposition. BA rightly points out that such comment is full of aggression, but he goes further into acknowledging not only the righteousness of fighting and standing for different rights (in this case trans rights), but also the real limitations of outlook of those people in the right side of the divide: narrowness related to identity (and other things) and the fact that such a narrow approach doesn’t pay attention to the larger dynamics shaping society as a whole and that ultimately are going to be affecting and defining to a large degree what happens with those rights that people are fighting to defend. This is not just a great insight of BA, but is a real problem, because such a narrowness is the most widespread phenomena among those people opposing injustice or even when opposing Trump directly. This is also a model, which runs through the piece, of bringing to life the reality of what we are confronting, and leading the reader to understand why, for example, that approach is narrow without seeming careless about real particular injustices that are being carried out (and heightened).

Quoting the Why/How speech [Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution], there is a statement on how it would be more difficult to mobilize people around the demand of T/P out, at the scale and with the determination that is required if there are not greater numbers of people being brought forward with a revolutionary understanding. I thought when I first heard it that it was a profound statement which was true in part because having a revolutionary outlook would allow for people to more easily identify when the struggle is being hijacked (let’s say solutions that can lead to a resolution short of getting rid of the regime, for example replacing Trump with another fascist who is gonna carry out the same program). Or getting people demobilized given certain concessions short of getting rid of regime. Specially given the level of American chauvinism and illusion in painless progress, any kind of resistance could be corralled back into the workings of the system—like right now in Colombia, given precisely the illusion of painless progress, the uprising that is going on right now in the country is calling for certain demands short of the ousting of the fascist in power, and seeking to meet with the government to get to agreements and reforms- so having a growing core of revolutionaries would strengthen the OUTNOW movement..... Some examples that can be drawn for example have been the mobilizations we have seen across the world in the past months and years, in which the scale and determination of the struggle came more from the workings of the system itself which opened up people’s eyes on what is the role of the police, for example, or the role of the politicians, or the press, and stood up in growing and more determined resistance. (There is an example of mothers in Hong Kong defending their kids in a peaceful way have been attacked by police, which has lead them to more fiercely speak up and defend the protests in a moment when the state have been trying to criminalize them).

“Parasitism, American Chauvinism, and Individualism”

I think it is very important specially for people in the middle class everywhere and people living in imperialist countries in general, to wrangle and examine social phenomena they are part of, things they have been led to think, and to enable them to see why people’s minds are occupied with certain things. And this is a big part of what this section is about.

For example the selfie phenomena, the branding yourself, hedonism, acquisitiveness (as the ideological seal of parasitism), and the connection of those seemingly harmless ways of thinking with the parasitism of this society and the fact that whole sections are led into occupying their minds with those things, precisely because in a more globalized capitalism, the main economic activity of imperialist countries (and now middle class in Third World countries too) has to do with finance and financial speculation, or the high end of technology (and not so much the production of basic materials for life). So that is not just a matter of harmless interests, but those interests have been shaped precisely because of the position those countries/class occupy in the world economy. Let’s say for example, branding yourself, the self-creation of status, wouldn’t really be the first thing you would think of if you were a peasant trying to make ends meet every harvest cycle, and in fact, the peasants I have been around have no notion of branding themselves, in opposition to people with more middle-class aspirations. It doesn’t mean that this phenomena doesn’t affect people of all walks of life, precisely because imperialism is like a parasite reaching out to every corner, and in fact even people who don’t have a brand are branding themselves through social media, or just by bragging about things, because we are all forced into this relation of competition. But it is an important understanding that people’s preoccupations are very much shaped by the position they hold in the production chain (themselves or the positions the countries where they are born has). So all of that to say that part of fighting for people to break with the parasitic entitlement that comes spontaneously with living in an imperialist country or by being part of a privileged class, is to show people where those things come from and how disgustingly people get manipulated into accepting things as the natural order of things, when in reality there is a larger phenomena shaping all of that. That ideological part of the parasitism, as well as the material part (that society couldn’t function, or those ways of living couldn’t really be possible without the whole network of production and exploitation worldwide) is something I really appreciate from the piece, that through the whole of it, it is dealing with those more prominent phenomena that hold people into going along with the world as it is, as a fundamental struggle that HAS to be waged and popularized if we are to seek a real change. And again the author goes through it all in a way that is just remarkably accessible, giving living examples on how everyday customs/assumptions/etc. are closely linked with the structural organization of the society.

I also appreciate of this section the profound analysis of how this whole imperialism leads people to identify their interests, and status, with the dominant position of the U.S. This is very close to me also because I have seen that in my own family, that once moved to the U.S., see themselves as holders of more status, even as in this country they are being oppressed. And that seems as a general rule even for those in a worst situation, like the family who stayed, who also would see the ones living in the U.S. as better people and those staying in as of lesser status. It was very spontaneous, and if one thinks about it, it’s so disgusting to make an equivalence of the dominant position of a country that accomplished it by destroying other peoples lives, to make an equivalence of that to your own worth. Definitely comes down to getting in on the oppression, even as it is not a conscious decision. So this as a very literal example, but in the document BA struggles hard on the fact that silence is complicity and in the face of all the horrors that this country commits against the people of the world, knowing about it and being silenced is one of those forms of just getting in on the oppression.

“Identity Politics and Individualism”

This whole section in general is so important because is directly polemicizing against the most common and spontaneous paths that people take in dealing with oppression and how identity politics is shaping the terms of people’s opposition to the system and its horrors, terms that are all upside down and actually work counter to any attempt to get rid of oppression. To a great degree this section sets the criteria by which things should be judged and acted on (example with trauma phenomena, the cancel culture, etc...) and walks people thru some of the texture of why one path could lead to liberation and not the other one.

Identity politics can be seen as a liberating outlook because it upholds oppressed people, and I appreciated the quote from All Played Out, which is very enlightening: “there is the ‘politics of ‘identity’ that really comes back down to me.’” Reflecting on it, that outlook of identity politics doesn’t look into strategies for getting rid of oppression, but instead just seeks to provide with some gratification or some sort of “reparation” to oppressed individuals in the form of “letting them speak, giving them a platform, having a safe space, etc....” And leaving out of the picture the whole fight for full liberation of the whole section of people.

In characterizing some of the elements associated to identity politics, in speaking about the trauma, I can’t agree more about the extreme to what this is taking to, and how idealistic is to carve out safe spaces, or pretend that the world goes around anyone’s particular trauma. But I actually think that when speaking about where the horrors that generate trauma come from, and the need for people to come together with determination to put an end to the causes of it, ... is the fact that the real trauma, depending of its levels and specifications, does need to be treated in itself, with the right tools and particularities. [I feel] ... only being part of a collective to fight to end the source of the atrocities that traumatize people, is not enough (nor the only thing needed) for people to actually be enabled to contribute as much as they can to such a goal. So not turning inwards is fundamental in the approach to end the source of oppression, as individuals who need it, should undergo a process of healing according to their situation. I think that is a more dialectical-materialist take on it, and something important to acknowledge.

“Individualism and ‘Indifference’”

I also appreciate the quoting of Ruminations and Wranglings on the personal ties of people. Ruminations and Wrangling has been such an important work to be able to understand a lot of the social relations (and all the dynamics intertwined with them, as the 4 Alls) that people enter into, to demystify them and see them for what they are, a network of relations which appear independent of the dynamics of capitalism, but in reality, a network defined by those dynamics. So “rumination” has been particularly helpful in the struggle to break with petit bourgeois illusions. And I really appreciate how in this piece: “Hope On A Scientific Basis,” the point that Marx makes on the apparent independence of personal ties is analyzed in how it takes the form of individualism and the indifference towards other people as “I am just a person, my own interests, doing me” and being forced to be indifferent towards others because of the relations people are forced into (competition, conflict) I think that is correct, and even as that formulation by Marx has been extremely helpful, I hadn’t analyzed that in this way.

“Particular Interests and General Interests”

This comment is actually something that runs through the whole piece (and in general in the works of BA) which we still can have a hard time doing, and is the way in which he doesn’t dismisses people’s fight against different forms of discrimination or exploitation, but he is able to draw out even as those fights are important, and shouldn’t be opposed, they don’t deal with the essence of what the problem is, and how they sometimes (like putting women in positions of power given their discrimination) end up reinforcing the relations of oppression. And he just breaks it down, the fundamental truth that other than revolution, everything else is BS, but done in a way in which people are led to understand why is that so. And a lot of why I think he is able to do that, is because he departs from reality, and not from dogma, from investigating and probing reality and not making “our truth” fit the real world. I think this is something we as a movement need to exercise more and develop so that it is how we approach things consistently.

I also want to highlight after the brief but in depth analysis of the forces for revolution, there is a challenge that get posed, as to what is it we need to do now, to do what is in the interest of humanity “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.” And that it is our responsibility, the responsibility of those who have come to a scientific understanding of the problem and solution, to go and wage that tremendous struggle among people. And this is really a call to go wage the necessary struggle, which means to go in the middle of where all the frameworks that keep people from understanding the world as is are taking hold, to get in the mix of things and fight to bust people off their frameworks. A positive example of this is the intervention done at the FTP rally in NYC. And we must be full energized and full confident that that is what we are supposed to be doing, and fight to do it even better, develop better forms to inspire more people, to challenge more people... and if there has been any kind of hesitation because of people’s response to our challenges, etc., then we have to consistently go back to this point that in order for this rev to be taken up by masses of people, we have to wage a tremendous struggle against all the dominant ways of thinking, and that is what would give us the confidence and the determination to go up against whatever odds we confront. Our slogan of “Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution” has real meaning.

There is much more to say, about the rest of the piece, but given time I won’t be able to write it down, but I am looking forward to wrangling collectively about the implications and significance of the content of this piece, as well as the transformations we can make using it as part of the tools to inform our work, outlook, and method. [back to top]

An Urgent Question: What Are YOU Gonna Do NOW?

To Revcom.us:

Every time I have gone over the article “Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of ‘Painless Progress’” that you have been running by Bob Avakian, I have been struck by the following questions that he poses “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.”

The questions are:

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?!

Of course there are other important questions posed in this article and there are other very strong and provocative sections of it. But I want to suggest that your readers take the two questions posed above that I have pulled out, put them on a big poster-board and then set them up on a downtown street, or in front of a campus cafeteria or student union, or at a busy transit hub, etc. with a sign saying something like, “We are asking this question of everyone. What do you think? And what do you think we can do about the fact that millions are not taking to the streets, now?” Then get into this – gather several people around to talk about it with each other, or call a meeting for later that day near the same spot where people can talk about it, or both. And then you go from there...

I think if people took this quote out like this, right now, very simply, and reported on the results to the website (write revolution.reports@yahoo.com), we would learn something very important... and perhaps set in motion a larger process as we do. [back to top]

 

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?!

From "Individualism, BEB and the
Illusion of Painless Progress"

by Bob Avakian

A Reader Responds to Bob Avakian's Talk: Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis: Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism

This new piece from Bob Avakian, “Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis: Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism,” has had a big impact on me. There were questions here that have been a struggle for me before but became more sharp after reading this piece.

The part that really struck me was the section “Parasitism, American Chauvinism, and Individualism.” First off, there is a lot in those four pages. And all those three things come together really blew my mind. He starts off with a critique of the “status obsessed culture,” “look at me doing this, look at me doing that” and how that culture feeds into the individualism, and the idea of your “brand” which goes hand in hand with the entre-manure-alism which is basically going for getting a piece of the pie and getting in on the oppression. But on its face, you don't see the underlying dynamics of capitalism and how all this is sitting on top of the millions all over the world, and you don't see the conditions of the existence of those people.

This all made me think of this article I was recently reading on the exploitation of children in Madagascar. It describes these children living their whole lives mining these minerals called Mica which is used in paint among other things, including glitter on makeup. This article described the horrible conditions these kids are living in, they interviewed a 6 year old, and one of the things he said was that he couldn't imagine life different than what he had been living and he couldn't imagine going to school. In stark contrast, you think about an American, living off the backs of all that, looking at glittery makeup going “ooh, pretty!” without knowing or thinking about where it all comes from, and why, what is underneath it all. In the piece, BA ties all this back to the American chauvinism. He makes the point that people end up “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. capitalism imperialism.” The most grotesque manifestation of this is that there is no outcry about the mass destruction and crimes being done by the U.S. on the people of the world, and in our name.

BA makes the point that “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.”

All this made me confront some shit on a whole other level: the reality of the horrors that this system creates on the people of the world (not to over simplify it but...) so that Americans can put on pretty glitter makeup! While these children are living their lives in holes where they can hardly breathe to mine the Mica, and the countless other children who have been condemned to a life of misery and brutality, even before they are born! In the face of this, millions of people are stuck in that individualism, that parasitism, American Chauvinism. I was one of those people, the conditions of people in other parts of the world seemed abstract to me, and I was forced to confront the reality of how people are living their lives right now! It was one of these questions that seemed on the surface like “yeah, I'm aware that there is exploitation of people all over the world” but since I read this new piece, I find myself constantly thinking about these questions and seeing it all around us. I guess I was forced to confront this on a whole other level.

All I keep thinking about is the people all over the world who can't even begin to imagine life the way Americans live it, and we are able to live that way on the backs of all those people. In that same section BA says that in opposition to the poisonous outlook of American Chauvinism, the orientation that must be fought for is “American Lives Are Not More Important Than Other People's Lives” and “Internationalism – The Whole World Comes First.” This is also taking on a whole other meaning to me and I feel like I get these quotes on a whole other level: it's not abstract! We are taught our whole lives that all that matters is what is directly in front of you, we get conditioned to not even question why is it that Americans are able to live this comfortable lifestyle, that we end up ignoring the conditions of actual human beings in other parts of the world. The reality is the interests of those people, in Madagascar and other countries where people live their whole lives in horrific conditions, are the same interests of us here in America. Most of these people here who don't see that, who are stuck in this gross individualism and American chauvinism are capable of breaking free from that shit and coming to see that our interests are the same, and fight for a different and better world. [back to top]

 

The following is taken from the talk
Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis:
Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism

by Bob Avakian

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of “Painless Progress”

With a Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

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Ruminations and Wranglings: On the Importance of Marxist Materialism, Communism as a Science, Meaningful Revolutionary Work, and a Life with Meaning.

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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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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/605/fascists-and-communists-completely-opposed-worlds-apart-en.html

Fascists and Communists:
Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart

By Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

Fascists stand for and are determined to intensify, to grotesque and hideous dimensions, every dimension of oppression and exploitation and all the horrors perpetrated by the system of capitalism-imperialism. Communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, are determined to put an end to all these horrors, and potentially even worse horrors, through the overthrow of the system of capitalism-imperialism and the abolition of all relations of exploitation and oppression, throughout the world.

Look at the 5 STOPS—fascists and communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, are on diametrically opposed sides of these crucial dividing lines: The fascists are determined to fortify and extend to even more monstrous proportions, and with potentially catastrophic consequences for humanity, all the horrors embodied in those 5 STOPS, while the communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, stand for and fight for precisely a STOP to all this.

Fascists base themselves on and actively promote blind adherence to hateful prejudice, willful ignorance and aggressive paranoia, in opposition to rational thinking and discourse, science and the scientific method. Communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, base themselves on and seek to apply the most consistent scientific method, including the importance of learning from and critically assimilating the insights, criticisms, etc. of others who disagree with or even ardently oppose them.

As pointed out in Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, it is not that people calling themselves communists have never acted in opposition to the basic principles of communism, and it is not that there have been no shortcomings and errors, even some grievous errors, in the history of the communist movement and socialist society; but a scientific approach and analysis shows that this has not been the main trend and character of the communist movement and socialist society led by communists; and the notion of communism as representing a “totalitarian nightmare” is fundamentally in conflict with reality and is on the contrary the invention and distortion of functionaries, enforcers and intellectual camp followers of the exploitative and oppressive system of capitalism and imperialism, which the communist revolution aims to overthrow and advance human society beyond, through the abolition of all exploitation and oppression. (If anyone is sincerely interested in actually understanding what is represented by the “theory” of “totalitarianism,” and in particular the use of this “theory” to distort and slander what is represented by communism, in Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? they can find a systematic discussion, dissection and refutation of the basic thesis and methods in The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, whose work is the most celebrated embodiment of this “theory” of “totalitarianism” and its use to distort and slander what is represented by communism.)

And, once again, there is the further, qualitative development of communism with the new communism which I have brought forward—which involves a scientific analysis and synthesis of the historical experience, positive and negative, of the communist movement and the first great wave of communist-led revolution and socialist society, and the significance of which is highlighted and concentrated in particular in the first of the Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

Download PDF of "Fascists and Communists: Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart" for printing and distribution

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Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/skybreak-bob-avakian-a-true-scientific-visionary-en.html

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

Bob Avakian–A True Scientific Visionary

| revcom.us

 

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

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

The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past

by the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico

Read more

Question:     One thing I wanted to zero in on a little bit on this point about what struck you in particular about BA—and I think you’ve definitely talked about some of that, but just to go a bit more at this point about BA’s scientific method and leadership, which was in evidence during the Dialogue—I guess a way to put it is: For anyone who wants a fundamentally different world, or even people who are beginning to question why the world is the way it is and if it could be different, what lessons should people be drawing from the scientific method that BA was applying during the Dialogue and, obviously related to that, his leadership as it got expressed in that Dialogue?

AS:     Well, if we’re going to talk some more about scientific methods and leadership—using scientific methods and how BA actually concentrates that kind of scientific approach—we should be talking about truth and what truth is. Because I felt that this was modeled during the Dialogue. I believe BA quoted Malcolm X—and it’s a quote I’ve always loved—I’m paraphrasing a little bit but at one point Malcolm X said something like, I didn’t come here to tell you what you want to hear, I came here to tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. I think that’s pretty close to the exact quote. I love that quote, and I love the fact that BA embodies that same kind of approach and attitude. It’s a very core part of his method. It makes his life more difficult, I’m quite sure, because it’s always easier to pander to popular, fashionable views: what do people say, what do most people think, what do most people like or not like. A true visionary...I believe that Bob Avakian really is a true scientific visionary when it comes to the question of the transformation of human society, I think he’s bringing in a lot that’s new, he is building on the communist science and the development of communism through previous periods, but he’s taking it a lot further and he’s got some really important conceptions and methods that are putting the whole science of communism on a more sound foundation and a much more inspiring and hopeful foundation than at any time in the past. So I think there’s a lot in his work to dig into.

And at the Dialogue, I felt that one of the things that came through is his commitment to truth. That might seem obvious in a leader—that, of course, you should be telling the truth—but it’s not just that there are corrupt leaders who lie to people and manipulate the truth. Sure, we all know about that. But there are a lot of people, even well-intentioned people, who don’t actually understand what the truth is in a scientific way. [laughs] There are actually people who function as if the truth is what most people think, or most people say. Well, if you stop to think about it for a minute, of course that’s ridiculous, and Bob Avakian gave examples of that in the Dialogue, including in relation to religion. For instance, I remember the example he gave of epilepsy—that in times past and under the influence of old religions from thousands of years ago, when people didn’t understand a lot of stuff, most people would have thought that epilepsy was caused by being possessed by the devil, and it’s only in fairly recent modern history that people have understood that it’s a disease and that it can be treated, and that it has nothing to do with devil possession or things like that.

But the point is that one of the things that BA consistently models, which is a hallmark of a good scientist, is being willing to go where the evidence takes you, and not looking at things superficially, but systematically and methodically digging into historical experience, and from many different directions—the historical experience of political forces, of revolutionary movements, of communist parties and movements, of the international situation—examining all that accumulated experience, and also drawing on other spheres, not just politics but also art and science and culture, all the many facets of human experience throughout history, in order to draw out the key patterns and the key directions of things and the key contradictions which come to characterize a phenomenon, or a particular phase of history, or a particular form of social organization. And then critically evaluating it, and figuring out on what basis it could be changed if it doesn’t meet the needs of the people.

One of the things I’m struck by, as someone who was trained in the natural sciences, is how unscientific most people are! Even very, very educated people, people with Ph.D.s in different spheres or whatever, are generally incredibly unscientific. They just have knee-jerk reactions to things. Very often, very educated people come across, frankly, like blithering idiots when they try to analyze phenomena in society, and that’s usually because they are basing themselves not on science but on populism, on what is the general consensus. I don’t really care what most people think, if it’s not right. You have to show me the evidence of why something is true. And if one person is putting forward something that is true (that corresponds to actual reality) and yet nobody else agrees with them, that doesn’t make it not true! Show me the evidence. And, conversely, if great numbers of people believe something to be true—“everybody knows this” or “everybody knows that,” there’s a general consensus—I have to say that, as a scientist, I don’t find that particularly convincing! You are really going to have to show me the evidence.

You can’t just tell me the numbers, you can’t play the numbers game, you can’t tell me that something is true just because a lot of people believe it.

One of the things that really captures this from BA, and that can be found in the book BAsics, is the statement that I believe is a real concentrated expression of a scientific method on the question of exactly what we’re talking about here: What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think. That’s worth pondering and reflecting on. That’s the difference between subjective reactions to things and a real scientific method. Because what people think is important. It’s either right or wrong, it should either be encouraged or discouraged, it should either be reinforced or transformed. But in any case it’s part of objective reality and, so, of course, it’s important. But objective reality is not determined by what people think, no matter how many people think it or how few people think it. You have to dig deeper, you have to dig and uncover those underlying features and patterns. And that’s one of the things that is a hallmark of BA’s work and of the new synthesis that he’s brought forward. And it is in sharp contrast to what has too often prevailed in a lot of the political movements—even revolutionary movements, even communist movements—in past periods and even through today. It is shameful the degree to which there is not rigorous scientific pursuit of the truth among many people and many organizations. And it’s a problem in the international movement, among international forces today. There is often an unwillingness to critically evaluate the past.

One of the things that BA has argued for a lot is that we have to be willing to confront the truths that make us cringe. If you’re serious about trying to transform the world in a good direction, you have to be willing to examine past experience in a rigorous scientific manner. There are two parts to that: You have to dig deeply to understand what is correct in what was done before, in what was previously understood and what was previously accomplished; but then you also have to be willing to recognize where things went off track, or where there were shortcomings or mistakes made. That’s how we learn, historically, that’s how human beings accumulate knowledge, but it’s also absolutely necessary for transforming things in the right direction.

And, you know, there are a lot of wrong tendencies epistemologically. Epistemology is the science of how you think about thinking, how you accumulate knowledge. That’s what that is. And the question is, how do you know something is true? You should not be trying to determine what’s true just on the basis of how many people believe it or don’t believe it. You should also not be trying to say that the truth resides in superficial phenomena, like in an immediate narrow slice of experience or practice. You should not fall into pragmatism. Pragmatism is the view that if something works now, then it must be true. I was reading a good example about that in a very interesting piece that I would recommend people study. It can be found through the revcom.us website—it’s in the online theoretical journal Demarcations, which can be accessed through the revcom.us website. In this piece, there is an important appreciation of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis put out by the OCR, the revolutionary communists in Mexico, entitled “The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past” by the Revolutionary Communist Organization (OCR), Mexico. It’s about some of the line differences in the international communist movement, and it’s an appreciation of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis in relation to that. And there’s a whole discussion of pragmatism in there, and how many people think that truth is whatever is kind of “convenient” for accomplishing certain objectives in a very narrow and immediate sense. The article gives the example of the thalidomide drug which was developed some time back to treat morning sickness and was touted as an advance in science. Well, it “worked” for that purpose and it got heralded, but it turned out that it hadn’t been sufficiently, deeply analyzed in an all-sided way, and it also led to children being born with tremendous birth defects. The deeper truth turned out to be how harmful it was, not that it “worked.” Well, that’s an analogy for the same kind of mistakes that can be made in the political sphere.

And Bob Avakian insists that everybody should act like critical thinkers, and really that everybody should contribute to the process of actually analyzing what is true and what is false in various kinds of phenomena. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much experience you have—you can be in the Party as a Party leader, or you can be in the Party as a new person and relatively inexperienced, or you can be outside the Party, you could be a critic of communism or you could be an adherent of communism—it doesn’t matter who you are. If you have principled methods, and you are willing to actually try to get to the truth of things, your contributions would be welcomed in terms of trying to advance knowledge and understanding. Now, you also should be willing to be subject to criticism yourself, from others who might punch holes in your theories or analyses. That’s what good scientists do. As a natural scientist, I had many good experiences that way, where I or other scientists would put forward some analyses of some things in nature and propose some experiments that could be conducted to uncover some of the deeper reality, and then you got your colleagues and friends together and they would spend the next hour or so trying to punch holes in your theories and questioning your underlying assumptions! That can be a very healthy and productive process (and fun too!), as long as it’s done in the right spirit (free of snark and ego) and with the right method.

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/600/crucial-importance-of-the-new-communism-and-ba-en.html

The Crucial Importance of the New Communism and BA's Leadership

| revcom.us

 

The following is a summation of some group study and discussion of the new communism and the leadership of Bob Avakian (BA).

First of all, I want to say that it has been truly great, deeply meaningful, critically important—and a lot of fun!—digging into the work, leadership and method of BA together. I have been thinking recently about some key themes and lessons that occur to me regarding our study and discussions and their purpose and importance. There is obviously so much that I could highlight—in terms of the key points we have gotten into in these sessions and the significance of these sessions—and trying to cover it all would be well beyond the scope of what I have written here (which ended up being longer than I envisioned when I started). However, I wanted to frame our work together with two overall themes.

The first of these themes is drawn from the beginning of a quote from BA: “Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.” (from BAsics 3:1)

The second theme is the critical role of revolutionary theory.

Let me briefly get further into each of these themes—in general, as it relates to the role and importance of BA and his leadership in the world, and also as it relates to our study and discussions.

Given how much there is to say on each of these two themes, I can only really scratch the surface here. But let’s start with the first one:

“Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.”

The understanding captured in this quote not only speaks to the state of the world and of humanity—and to what is urgently needed in light of this—but also, relatedly, illuminates WHY we have been engaging in this study and discussion together and WHY this is so important.

We have often talked—and very correctly so, to be clear—about having “cool” discussions. But it’s important to understand that this is NOT fundamentally about having “cool,” “interesting,” “fun” or “mentally stimulating” discussions, even though these discussions definitely ARE all of these things!

Rather, our work together has a specific purpose: to deepen our understanding of the world not just for the sake of knowledge in some academic sense, but in order to radically CHANGE the world. And, more specifically, to deepen our understanding and application of the science of revolution and communism, as this science has been qualitatively advanced in groundbreaking ways through the new communism brought forward by BA—deepening our grasp and application of this science as a key part of contributing to the process of making revolution on the basis of this new communism.

Just look at the world! We have talked about the “5 STOPS,” which speak to five key, defining contradictions of this capitalist-imperialist system. These 5 STOPS are: “STOP Genocidal Persecution, Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder of Black and Brown People!”... “STOP the Patriarchal Degradation, Dehumanization, and Subjugation of All Women Everywhere, and All Oppression Based on Gender or Sexual Orientation!... Stop Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!... Stop the Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!... Stop Capitalism-Imperialism from Destroying Our Planet!”

A quick glance at the news from the past few weeks alone will reveal that the contradictions spoken to in these 5 STOPS—and the staggering level of suffering and misery caused by these contradictions—are only intensifying.

This is on top of the countless other forms of tremendous poverty, deprivation, misery, exploitation, oppression and suffering spawned by this system and heaped upon literally billions of human beings and humanity as a whole every single day that this capitalist-imperialist system continues.

A key point to understand, which BA’s work illuminates so sharply and powerfully, is that NONE of these outrages are accidental, isolated or disconnected from each other. They have a common source—this SYSTEM of capitalism-imperialism. These outrages and horrors for humanity are woven into this system’s rules, its operation, its “DNA,” its roots, its historical and ongoing functioning. For this reason, the system CANNOT be reformed—it must be overthrown through revolution.

This point about the NEED for an actual revolution—as opposed to attempts to “fix” or “heal” or “reform” a system that in fact CANNOT be fixed, healed or reformed—in order to put an end to the countless ways that humanity suffers needlessly is, I believe, one vital takeaway from our study and discussions of BA’s work; it is one critical point on which our collective understanding should be significantly deepened.

Another one of these vital points that I think has been a theme of our study and discussions—especially recently, as we have watched the most recent film from BA (Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution) and listened to the Q & A from this film—is what an actual revolution IS, what it involves and what it requires.

An actual revolution does NOT just mean “a big change”—in one form or another—which is how many people think of it or try to define it. Rather, an actual revolution means overthrowing the capitalist-imperialist system, meeting and defeating its repressive force, dismantling its institutions and setting up a new, socialist system and state power and society—and, accordingly, new institutions—on the road to communism. Right now is NOT the time for an actual revolution, because the necessary conditions for this revolution do not yet exist. But right now IS the time to be working for, hastening (i.e., working to accelerate the emergence of) and preparing for an actual revolution.

This point leads us to the question of what we ALREADY do have, and what we DON’T yet have and therefore need to urgently work on bringing into being, in terms of the necessary factors and conditions for revolution.

In terms of what we DO have: By far the biggest positive factor we have is BA. Through decades of work, BA has forged the new communism, which is the framework—and, most fundamentally, the scientific understanding and method—that humanity needs to make revolution and continue that revolution all the way to communism. Think about this: Just as the first round of communist revolutions would never have happened without the initial scientific breakthroughs and framework forged by Marx, so the next round of communist revolutions will not happen without millions of people taking up the further scientific breakthroughs and framework forged by BA.

The framework of the new communism includes: a comprehensive and further developed scientific understanding of the nature of the problem, that is, the nature of capitalism-imperialism, how it specifically operates, historically and in the world today, why and how it is responsible for the many different forms of suffering that humanity faces and why this system cannot be reformed and must be swept away through revolution; a viable strategy for revolution—for working now to hasten while awaiting a revolutionary situation and then winning in that future situation; and a concrete, vivid and thoroughly developed vision and “blueprint” for a radically different socialist society on the road to communism, as put forward in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by BA.

Most fundamentally and importantly—and this is a thread running through and underlying the understanding, strategy and vision—is the scientific METHOD of the new communism.

The new communism forged by BA builds upon—but also goes far beyond, and in some key ways breaks with—the past experience in theory and practice of the communist movement.

Speaking in depth to the totality and specific dimensions of the new communism is also beyond the scope of what I am writing here, but to quickly highlight some key points of this.

In terms of the totality of what is represented by the new communism, I want to quote the first of the Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which we have previously discussed. This first resolution makes the point that the new communism

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

This point is important enough that I think it bears repeating in order to help facilitate ongoing further reflection: The new communism “represents and embodies a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has existed within communism in its development up to this point, between its fundamentally scientific method and approach, and aspects of communism which have run counter to this.

While—as this quote from the first resolution points out—communism’s method and approach has been FUNDAMENTALLY scientific, there have been important ways in which past socialist societies along with the communist movement, past and present, have taken up unscientific and even ANTI-scientific ways of thinking, methods and approaches to understanding and transforming reality, with very harmful effects.

The new communism brought forward by BA qualitatively resolves this contradiction, putting communism on a more firmly scientific footing and therefore carving out the method and framework that makes it possible—not inevitable, but possible—to confront and transform the many contradictions involved in making revolution and continuing that revolution all the way to communism.

Needless to say, this is a big deal in terms of the possibilities this new communism opens up for humanity!

While, once again, it is not possible to review in depth the various specific dimensions of the new communism, I want to highlight here three examples of this.

*First, the new communism breaks new ground—and breaks with unscientific approaches within the communist movement—in terms of its approach to the TRUTH, the process by which the truth should be pursued, understood and arrived at, and the importance of going for the truth not just in a general sense but specifically in terms of the goal of getting to communism.

The new communism’s approach to this breaks with the unscientific and harmful ideas—which have far too often and to far too great a degree infected the past and present of the communist movement at different points—that a particular section of society, such as communists, or the most oppressed and exploited, have a monopoly on truth; the idea that whether or not a statement is true should be evaluated based on the class (or social) position of the person making the statement; the idea that different classes have their own versions of the truth, i.e., that the proletariat has its truth and the bourgeoisie has its truth; the notion of “populist epistemology”—that whether or not something is true should be evaluated based on the numbers of people who believe it at a given time; the notion of “political truth”—the idea that whether or not something is true should be evaluated based on whether or not it is viewed as convenient at a given time.

Once again, all of those wrong ways of thinking are not just prevalent in society more broadly but have been significant problems in the past and present of the communist movement.

In opposition to all of this is the understanding encompassed in BA’s new communism that truth is... TRUTH! That it does NOT have a class character, nor is it determined by whether it is viewed as politically convenient in the short term, nor is it determined by the number of the masses who recognize it as truth at a given time. That truth is determined by whether or not something corresponds to objective reality, and it must be fully confronted in all of its dimensions—including those that might be unfortunate or inconvenient in the short run—as an essential part of actually getting to communism.

These points are encompassed in this very important quote from BA that speaks to a key breakthrough in understanding concentrated in the new communism:

Everything that is actually true is good for the proletariat, all truths can help us get to communism. (BAsics 4:5)

Once again, as BA has pointed out, the new communism’s breakthroughs in regard to the truth are not just a matter of recognizing that going for the truth is essential in general—though this understanding is encompassed, too—but that going for the truth is essential IN ORDER TO GET TO COMMUNISM.

*A second example of a specific key dimension of the new communism is its breakthrough in regard to internationalism—the understanding that “the whole world comes first.” This is not just a moral stand—although it is ALSO that—but represents a more fully scientific understanding of internationalism and its importance in the process of making and continuing revolution, and a rupture with and departure from unscientific understandings of internationalism in the past and present of the communist movement. This breakthrough developed with BA’s new communism includes the understanding that the world situation is principal—in other words, that it is the most important factor setting the terms—in regard to the process of making revolution in any particular country; that there can sometimes be a sharp contradiction between the needs of a particular socialist state and the need to advance the world revolution, and that advancing the world revolution must come first; and that in past revolutions there were sometimes important errors made by failing to recognize this and putting the needs of particular socialist countries above the world revolution. Here again, this is not just a matter of an abstract idea of internationalism, but principles based on the work BA has done to deeply engage and synthesize the correct understanding of and approach to the actual contradictions involved in consistently applying internationalism, with all the complexity and difficulty involved in this. (In this regard, the discussion of internationalism in BA’s book THE NEW COMMUNISM is very important.)

*A third example of specific dimensions in which the new communism has broken new ground is in terms of the method of “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core,” which is a scientific understanding which in fact ruptures with the past understanding and approach of the communist movement in important ways, including in the application of this method to the process of making revolution and leading the future socialist society.

In terms of epistemology (theory of knowledge) and method, “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core” intertwines with some of the key points made earlier in regard to truth and comprehends that while the communist method and approach is the most systematic, comprehensive and effective means of getting to the truth, this does not mean that communists have a monopoly on the truth and are always correct or that those NOT applying the communist method and approach are always incorrect; rather, those coming from other outlooks, methods and approaches can discover important truths and shed important light on elements of reality. Therefore, the METHOD of solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core involves applying the communist outlook, method and approach to reality with a specific goal, making revolution and getting to communism, while also understanding the need—ON THE BASIS OF APPLYING THAT METHOD—to learn from, sift through and sort out what is brought forward through many diverse streams of human activity and by people coming from a broad range of perspectives, including those that are not communist and even opposed to communism in some cases.

Applying this understanding of solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core to the process of making revolution and then continuing that revolution in the future socialist society on the road to communism, BA’s new communism recognizes—on a level far beyond and in some cases in opposition to the way this was understood prior to the new communism—the complexity and diversity of human activity and thought that must be involved in the process of making revolution and leading a socialist society to communism. This includes recognizing in a whole new way and on a whole other level the importance of dissent, debate, experimentation, ferment and individuality—not individualism but individuality—in socialist society.

To contrast this with one example from the first wave of socialist societies: In socialist China—which, again, overall represented an enormous leap for humanity in so many different spheres and overall—Marxism was in essence viewed as an “official ideology” that people in socialist society should profess, while the new communism, and in particular the approach of “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core,” embodies the understanding that the leading element in socialist society needs to be communism, but this should not be enshrined and institutionalized as, in effect, an “official ideology” but put forward and struggled for as something people need to be won to and to consciously and voluntarily take up, while at the same time recognizing the importance of giving space to and engaging, and learning what can and should be learned from, the insights of others who have not, yet, been won to communism.

As positive as the overall experience of socialism in China was, BA’s new communism represents a very different vision of socialist society that involves a radical leap forward from even the best of the past.

So, these three examples—related to the approach towards truth, internationalism and solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core—are just that: three of many examples and points that could be offered to illustrate just how profoundly new BA’s new communism is, and the ways in which this new communism (to go back to the quote from the first of the six resolutions):

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

The works that we have read, watched and listened to from BA have been an application and illustration of the new communism—and this has immersed us in this new communism, in an overall way, as captured by the quote from the first resolution as well as in various specific dimensions, including the three highlighted in this letter.

Accordingly, our study and discussion of this work should have deepened our understanding and application of the new communism and its scientific method. Many of our discussions, in fact, have involved studying BA’s scientific method and seeking to take up and apply this method ourselves, to the best of our ability, even while not being able to do this on anywhere near the same level that BA himself does. This focus on method has been extremely important and instructive, manifested, for instance, in the way that we have studied and sought to emulate the way that BA boldly confronts, plainly presents and systematically unpacks the key contradictions and questions of the revolution, involving and inviting others to join him on that journey.

So, once again to return to the question of what we HAVE in regard to the factors and conditions needed to make revolution, the biggest positive factor we have by far is BA, the scientific framework, breakthrough and understanding that he has forged with the new communism, and the ongoing leadership he is providing. This leadership, as highlighted in the second of those six resolutions, involves an extremely rare combination: the ability “to develop scientific theory on a world-class level, while at the same time having a deep understanding of and visceral connection with the most oppressed, and a highly developed ability to ‘break down’ complex theory and make it accessible to the masses of people.” Our viewing, listening, reading and related study/discussion has also driven home this rare combination point repeatedly and powerfully.

In terms of what we don’t yet have, and therefore urgently NEED to work on bringing into being in order to make an actual revolution: We don’t yet have masses of people, first in the thousands and then in the millions, who are won to this revolution and its leadership and developed as an organized force for this revolution; we don’t yet have a situation where the party that is needed to lead the revolution has grown and been expanded and strengthened to the point where it has the necessary ties and influence in society to actually lead a revolution; and we don’t yet have a revolutionary crisis in which the system is unable to rule in the traditional way.

So, the urgent task before us—not just us, but certainly ALSO us—is to take the critical things we DO have and go to work on bringing into being what we DON’T yet have.

This theme—of what we do have, what we don’t have, and what we therefore need to get busy doing—has been another theme both directly spoken to and objectively posed by the works of BA that we have dug into and by our discussions of these works.

Bringing into being the conditions that we don’t yet have is urgently necessary, absolutely possible and in line with reality and how it can be changed, and there is a strategy for going to work on this, as we have discussed recently. But this will not be easy—it will take lots of STRUGGLE, repeatedly and fundamentally on a societal level.

This understanding, too, is another theme that jumps out in reflecting on our study and discussion.

We should understand that we are not operating on an “empty playing field.” There can be a tendency, especially when people are young and still relatively inexperienced politically, to think that everyone with a decent heart will immediately rally to the correct understanding of reality as soon as they are exposed to this understanding. And without question, there is a tremendous basis to win MILLIONS of people to this revolution and its leadership because it DOES, in fact, correspond to reality and to what humanity needs, and no other program and line does.

However, the understanding of BA and the new communism is, to put it simply, contending with all kinds of wrong ways of thinking, on all kinds of questions, that are spontaneously called forth and actively and repeatedly promoted by this system, and it is contending with all kinds of wrong LINES—i.e., wrong outlooks and methods applied to reality—that keep people trapped within this system. This includes, but is not limited to, people in society who call themselves “socialists” or “communists” but are actually about nothing that has anything to do with actual socialism and communism and really just want to reform capitalism and perhaps slightly redistribute the wealth generated by the capitalist system of exploitation. These reformists have nothing to do with an actual revolution and bringing into being a radically different world—and in some cases they will even admit as much. In any case, these fake socialists and communists are often some of those who most viciously attack BA and the GENUINE communism represented by BA, the new communism, precisely because BA and the new communism ACTUALLY represent what they may PRETEND to be about but in reality fundamentally oppose: real revolution and communism.

Few things are as threatening to a poseur as someone who actually IS what they PRETEND to be.

Returning to society more broadly: sharp ideological struggle must be waged—not just on an individual level or in small numbers, but among MASSES OF PEOPLE, and on a SOCIETAL SCALE—to rupture people out of all the wrong ways of thinking and wrong lines that they are caught up in and into the framework of BA’s new communism.

Once again, there is every basis and every urgency to do this, exactly because BA and the new communism correspond to reality and how it can and must be changed, while these other lines and ways of thinking do NOT. But this will take determined, sharp struggle—of the sort emphasized and modeled by BA in the works that we have studied together.

This brings me to the point with which I want to briefly conclude, which is the second of the two themes I have emphasized.

The Importance of Revolutionary Theory

Another tendency that people can have when they are young and relatively inexperienced is the tendency to view “doing stuff” as the most important political task at hand. “Doing stuff” can be defined in a number of different ways, including things such as attending programs, events or protests or doing “on the ground” political outreach and work.

Well, first of all, the question of “doing WHAT stuff” is immediately posed. In other words, what KIND of political work and outreach are people doing, and what KIND of programs and protests—around what line—are people seeking to be involved in? This is obviously a key question.

It’s not the case, as people often think and sometimes say, that “it’s all good”—in other words, “liberal”/“progressive”/“socialist”/“communist”—“sure, sure we all basically want the same things and are on the same page.”

NO. While there are certainly some important areas in which genuine communists can find unity with broad ranks of progressives, there are different lines out there and these different lines are in contention and lead to fundamentally different understandings of the problem and solution in the world.

So, that’s the first question: doing “WHAT” stuff and with WHAT goal?

That said, “doing stuff” in the right sense—i.e., doing “practical work” on the ground and in the broader society to promote this revolution and its leadership, to organize people into the revolution, working to hasten and prepare for an actual revolution, to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, including through different forms of political outreach, programs and discussions, demonstrations and protests, etc.—is extremely critical and important, and in fact urgently necessary.

But it is important to understand that in a movement for revolution—like any good team—everyone has different roles, and it is important for people to understand and embrace their roles in order to make the greatest possible contribution to the team and, in this case, to humanity.

However, even beyond this question of each person’s individual roles, there is the question of the decisiveness of revolutionary theory.

Once again, “doing stuff” in the right sense—i.e., practical revolutionary work—is critically important. If millions of people had the right theoretical understanding but didn’t act on that understanding in practice, nothing would change.

However—and this goes up against the ways people are trained to think in this society, and against the spontaneity of how people often see things when they are young (or new to things), but is nonetheless true and important—what is even more fundamental than “doing stuff” is the question of what people, individually and in their masses, UNDERSTAND. Whether and how people act—and the effect this has in the world—ultimately comes down to what people UNDERSTAND.

From that standpoint, it is crucial that people find the ways to do what we have been doing: immersing ourselves in, taking up and applying the most advanced revolutionary theory in the world, BA’s new communism, as part of the overall process of making revolution.

One final point: It is important not to look narrowly at what it means to TAKE UP and APPLY the new communism. This doesn’t just mean direct political work and outreach, which, once again, is very important. Taking up and applying this work means—in a BROADER sense—applying the understanding represented by BA and the new communism to understanding and changing reality. Very importantly, this includes sharing observations/ideas/questions and thoughts—about what you are learning and the material you are studying; about developments, changes and trends in society (and the world overall); about ways and openings to promote this revolution and its leadership; about how people (those you know and people more broadly) are viewing and discussing different things going on in society/the world, what this reveals about openings for revolution and jolts in society but also the need to transform people’s thinking; about major events and developments in music and the arts... just to give a few examples.

These are all VERY IMPORTANT contributions to the revolutionary process, and it would be wrong to think otherwise.

So, let me end this where I began: This process we have embarked on has been—and will continue to be—deeply meaningful, really exciting, and a lot of fun. And this is a crucial part of actually participating in and contributing to the process of building for the revolution that is so urgently needed.

THE NEW COMMUNISM

The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, by Bob Avakian

Download PDF of book here

Read more

Breakthroughs —

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

Updated prepublication copy, April 10, 2019
Read or download (searchable PDF)

 

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Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

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

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian

August 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This article was originally published in 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/627/join-the-outnow-movement-en.html

| revcom.us

 

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

 

Trump and Pence #OUTNOW!

Trump and Pence #OUTNOW!!

Trump has been impeached. He has ratcheted up the danger of war with Iran.

Now is a time for determined struggle by the people to go all the way to demand: Trump/Pence #OUTNOW!

In the first days of January, Trump ordered the assassination of the high ranking Iranian military leader, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. This is objectively an act of war which massively escalates the threat of further conflict and suffering for the people of Iran and the whole region.

EVERY DAY THAT THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME REMAINS IN POWER THREATENS THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE PLANET

Everyone with a conscience must face this hard truth. But that alone is not enough—we must now ACT ON IT.

There is a way to remove this whole regime—the #OUTNOW! Movement of sustained, nonviolent protest that doesn’t stop until the regime has been removed from power.

 

Join the #OUTNOW contingents at the Women's Marches and more January plans

#OutNOW contingent at the women's March in DC January 18 meets up at the southwest corner of Freedom Plaza, 14th Street Northwest and Pennsylvania Avenue. Organizers will be there at 9:00 am. People joining the #OutNOW contingent should arrive by 10. March starts at 11.

Sign up

The impeachment of Donald Trump in the House of Representatives is a real advance. For all of us who have looked on in horror as this regime’s crimes escalate—children in cages, environmental protections shredded, violence threatened against political opponents, and more—it is a moment of celebration that at last this fascist criminal is getting a first taste of justice. This greatly heightens the potential for driving out the whole fascist Trump/Pence regime.

At the same time, Trump’s murderous actions in Iraq are extremely dangerous with potentially catastrophic implications for the people of Iran and beyond.

With a new surge of hope and energy from impeachment—and even greater urgency to prevent new U.S. war moves in the Middle East—now is the time to seize the moment and join together, recognizing that only a determined struggle of thousands and ultimately millions taking to the streets in a broad-based movement of continuing protests can create a political crisis from below that could force this whole regime from power.

The stakes have been raised. A great struggle still lies ahead.

The cracks and strains in our political class are more visible than ever. A Republican Party now well-hardened around its fascist core is in full standoff with a Democratic Party that felt compelled to take the momentous step of impeaching a President for only the third time in U.S. history. An impeachment trial is expected in the Senate in January to determine whether Trump will be removed from power. But Trump and the fascist Republicans are in lockstep intensifying their threats and vowing not to convict him. Impeachment without removal would leave the fascist regime intact and full of vengeance and determination to drive forward its program. And in the unlikely scenario that the Senate votes to remove Trump, the Christian fascist wing of the regime, led by Mike Pence, is poised to take over and hammer in their own theocratic vision of society, backed by the Bible taken literally. Now, this volatility is intensified as Trump's act of war against Iran could spiral into even greater conflict and suffering in the Middle East and potentially even sharper clashes at the top of this society.

As the threat of greater war looms and the impeachment of Trump roils, a mass movement of the people demanding Trump/Pence #OUTNOW! must grow... each week making advances and becoming a magnetic force of all who feel that life here and around the world will be unbearable under the fascism the Trump/Pence regime is rapidly imposing.

We must follow the examples of millions all over the world carrying out mass struggle to demand regime change in their countries.

Concentration camps on the border... environmental devastation accelerated... war, even nuclear war, casually threatened... white supremacist rule... 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 stripped away... THIS IS FASCISM UNFOLDING AND IN POWER.

Our power is the power of the people acting with determination—not to protest one day and go home, but flood the streets, with people of many different points of view acting together, in sustained nonviolent protest—starting in our hundreds week after week, soon becoming thousands, and ultimately millions—refusing to stop until the whole Trump/Pence regime has been removed from power.

 

 

Together, we must make January a month of struggle, building a broad based #OUTNOW! Movement to advance this great cause.

Volunteer to join #OUTNOW in DC during the impeachment trial. Contact us at info@refusefascism.org to volunteer, to donate to cover expenses, to provide places for people to stay.

Saturday January 11 mass protests: Trump/Pence #OUTNOW! No War On Iran! Go to refusefascism.org for a protest near you or how to organize your own #OUTNOW! Protest.

January 18-20: Join in bringing the #OUTNOW demand and program of continuing, sustained mass protest to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power into the Women’s Marches and MLK events.

January 25: Mass #OUTNOW protests in cities across the country that mark a leap in sustained non-violent protest demanding #OUTNOW!

 

ACT! January Times and Places

 

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

RefuseFascism.org | @RefuseFascism | 917-407-1286

December 14, 2019: Andy Zee – How to struggle with people to get into the street to drive out Trump and Pence

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Refuse Fascism here.

 

 

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Together, WE passed $40,000 in revcom's Winter fundraising campaign to “Transform Revcom.us’ Web Technology and Presence”!

Reaching this goal is a real achievement and a victory for the people of the world, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the dedicated efforts of many people working creatively and collectively to meet this pressing need: those who donated whether large or small contributions, who fundraised, who spread the campaign, who sent statements, who raised comments, questions, criticisms or suggestions – and of course those who worked so hard on modernizing and upgrading our web technology and presence. It all made a difference!

The Ongoing Need for Sustainers

During this four month fund drive, Revcom.us continued to incur thousands of dollars of costs each month for our office, maintaining our existing site and other expenses. But thanks to our existing monthly sustainers we were able to meet these expenses and use all the funds raised in the drive to transform the website.

So we encourage all our donors and those who’ve not yet donated to become monthly sustainers at whatever level you can afford.

Remember, humanity’s fate truly hinges on millions taking up the revolutionary science, strategy, and new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian which they can find at revcom.us.

You’ve read this article and now you need to be part of making sure revcom.us is able to make an urgently needed leap and transformation.

 

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