revcom.us, February 10, 2020 through February 16, 2020 (#634)

Voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/633/bob-avakian-a-radically-different-leader-en.html

BOB AVAKIAN: A RADICALLY DIFFERENT LEADER—A WHOLE NEW FRAMEWORK FOR HUMAN EMANCIPATION

Bob Avakian (BA) is the most important political thinker and leader in the world today.

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Bob Avakian is completely different than the endless stream of bourgeois politicians who are put forward as “leaders,” whose goal is to maintain one variation or another of this system of capitalism-imperialism that is founded on and perpetuates itself through cruel and literally life-stealing exploitation, murderous oppression, and massive destruction, in all parts of the world. BA is a revolutionary who bases himself on the scientific understanding that this system must finally be overthrown through an organized struggle involving millions of people, and replaced with a system that is oriented to and capable of meeting the most fundamental needs of humanity and enabling humanity to become fit caretakers of the earth.

Bob Avakian is the architect of a whole new framework of human emancipation, the new synthesis of communism, which is popularly referred to as the "new communism."

BA is the author of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, an inspiring application of the new communism—a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a new socialist society, whose fundamental goal is to bring about a world without classes and class distinctions, a world without exploitation and oppression, and without the destructive divisions and antagonisms among people: a communist world.

Ardea Skybreak, a scientist with professional training in ecology and evolutionary biology, and a follower of Bob Avakian, speaks to the importance of what he has brought forward:

Bob Avakian ... on the basis of decades of hard work [has been] developing a whole body of work—theory to advance the science of communism, to advance the science of revolution, to more deeply explain where the problems come from, what the strategy is for getting out of this mess, what the methods and approaches should be to stay on track and actually build a better world, to build a society that most human beings would want to live in. (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)

BA is a leader who is firmly convinced, on the basis of a consistently scientific method and approach, that the goal must be nothing less than all-out revolution, and who at the same time has emphasized:

the new communism thoroughly repudiates and is determined to root out of the communist movement the poisonous notion, and practice, that “the ends justifies the means.” It is a bedrock principle of the new communism that the “means” of this movement must flow from and be consistent with the fundamental “ends” of abolishing all exploitation and oppression through revolution led on a scientific basis. (From Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary)

As a revolutionary leader, BA also embodies this rare combination: someone who has been able 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 broadly accessible.

A leader like this has never before existed in the history of this country, and this leadership is of tremendous importance for the emancipation of all humanity.

What is urgently needed now is for continually growing numbers of people—in the thousands, and ultimately millions—to become conscious and active followers of BA, building the revolutionary movement, based on the new communism, for which BA provides this unprecedented leadership.

Bob Avakian (BA) — Official Biography

To know and change the world... get into Bob Avakian (BA), the leader of the revolution.

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CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

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Read online in English

Special Issue of Demarcations features the prepublication version of Bob Avakian’s historic work in multiple languages:

English, Spanish, Farsi, Portuguese, German, and Turkish. The latter two are partial, and works in progress.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/633/fascist-distortion-and-response-of-the-new-communism-en.html

FASCIST DISTORTION AND THE RESPONSE OF THE NEW COMMUNISM

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In a February 3, 2020 article, “Impeachment Protestors Call for ‘Nonviolent Revolution’ To End U.S. ‘Fascism,’” in The Federalist (which may not be officially affiliated with the powerful Federalist Society but clearly shares much of its right-wing reactionary outlook and objectives), Krystina Skurk attacks the diverse grouping of #OUTNOW! demonstrators calling for mass mobilization to demand the removal of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, and she especially targets those among the demonstrators who are advocates of the new communism brought forward by Bob Avakian (BA).

In the latter dimension, it seems clear that Skurk has at least looked over and read parts of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by BA, and she weaves a supposed “critique” of this Constitution throughout her overall attack on the #OUTNOW! protests.  In this regard, it has to be said that it is a commentary on the pathetic state of things politically that someone like Skurk, with a right-wing outlook, in support of the fascism that is concentrated in the Trump/Pence regime, has bothered to somewhat engage this Constitution, while as a general phenomenon those who consider themselves “left,” or “progressive,” or “woke,” including in academia and among the intelligentsia generally (such as it is), have not even bothered to do that, and instead have either simply ignored, dismissed, or engaged in crude distortion and slander of the crucially important work that BA has done, including this Constitution. But let us not give Skurk credit she does not deserve: In accordance with her own reactionary, unscientific outlook and methods, what Skurk has done does not involve a serious and honest engagement with either this Constitution (and the new communism of which it is a concentrated expression) or the #OUTNOW! demonstrators, which include followers of BA but others with a diversity of views as well.  Rather, Skurk’s attack involves a combination of glaring ignorance and crude distortion. Coming from the standpoint of the new communism, this response will focus on answering some of the main ways in which this stands out in her attack on BA and the new communism, while also answering some of her more egregious distortions and mischaracterizations in relation to the #OUTNOW! protests.

The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America

Skurk writes:

Many of the protestors talked about a communist constitution written by Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionist Communist Party. This constitution would form a new nation called The New Socialist Republic in North America. Its legislators would be elected by popular vote, and a majority of votes in the nation’s single legislature could pass laws. Members of this legislature would serve as an executive council. Notice there are no separation of powers, something many of the protestors complained Trump was eviscerating.

But, contrary to Skurk’s assertion, this Constitution definitely does envision and institutionalize separation of powers. While the Legislature chooses the Executive, once chosen the Executive is completely separate from and independent of the Legislature, and the Legislature has a definite “oversight” role in relation to the Executive.  Further, there is a whole judiciary, including a Supreme Court, which is separate from and independent of both the Legislature and the Executive and has “oversight” powers in relation to both, including the power to find laws and actions by both the Legislature and Executive unconstitutional.  All this is very clearly spelled out in Article I of this Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, and no one who seriously and honestly engages this Constitution could reasonably fail to see this.

Education, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Dissent

Skurk also says:

In this new communist paradise all education would be centrally administered by the state and mandatory. The educational system would be dedicated to teaching “the dialectical materialist understanding that all of reality consists of matter in motion... and nothing else.” The cultural and historical effects of religion may be discussed, but that is it.

Here we see another glaring and egregious example of the dishonest methods of reactionaries like Skurk who cannot refute what is actually put forward by the new communism, as embodied for example in this Constitution authored by the architect of this new communism, Bob Avakian.  Instead what we get here from Skurk is what can only be conscious and deliberate distortion.  To begin with, the way in which Skurk (mis)quotes this Constitution would lead someone not familiar with it to believe that only “the dialectical materialist understanding” would be allowed to be presented through the educational system of the New Socialist Republic.  Here is what the Constitution actually says, in the part on education (in Article I, Section 2) from which Skurk, very “selectively,” quotes:

The dialectical materialist understanding that all of reality consists of matter in motion, of various kinds, and nothing else, and the application of this understanding and approach to all spheres of natural and social science shall be the foundation and “solid core” of education.  At the same time, as an application of “elasticity on the basis of a solid core,” there shall be provision for other, opposing viewpoints to be presented, including by ardent advocates of those viewpoints, as a part of the overall curriculum and general education.  (emphasis added)

It is very difficult to believe—it strains credulity beyond the breaking point to accept—that Skurk did not see the part emphasized (italicized) here, as it comes immediately after the part which she did choose to quote (in part).  Rather, what is obviously going on here is that, in a manner typical of people with her outlook and method, she is proceeding according to a preconceived prejudice that communism equals a totalitarian nightmare that suppresses all creativity, critical thinking and dissent, and she is superimposing this prejudiced notion onto the actual work (in this case, the Constitution) she claims to be examining.  In fact, the very section of this Constitution (on education) from which Skurk quotes, in a crudely distorted manner, emphasizes this principle:

The educational system in the New Socialist Republic in North America must enable people to pursue the truth wherever it leads, with a spirit of critical thinking and scientific curiosity, and in this way to continually learn about the world and be better able to contribute to changing it in accordance with the fundamental interests of humanity.

And this same basic principle and approach is applied to all spheres of scientific and intellectual endeavor.

Further, with regard to art and culture and the media, and generally throughout this Constitution, provision is made to not only protect but to provide for the expression of a diversity of views and opinions, including dissent from policies and actions of the government, and “advocacy in favor of abolishing this Republic and replacing it with another kind of society and form of government.”  (See Article III, Section 2) This basic orientation and approach is articulated right at the beginning of this Constitution, in the Preamble, and runs throughout it, as a matter of basic principle and method, as concentrated in the formulation “solid core, with a lot of elasticity.”

The Real Consequences of Capitalism, The Actual Character of Socialism and the Ultimate Goal of Communism

Along the same lines, Skurk’s combination of ignorance and deliberate distortion is reflected in her statement that, among the demonstrators demanding that the Trump/Pence regime must be #OUTNOW!, those who are followers of Bob Avakian

point to Hong Kong as an example of a political uprising they’d like to emulate, but don’t mention that the people of Hong Kong are fighting against a communist government, the same type of centrally controlled government their hero Avakian wants to implement.

First of all, as the followers of Bob Avakian understand—and as any scientific analysis will reveal—while the party in power in China continues to, misleadingly, employ the label “Communist,” that Party and the society it rules long ago ceased to be “communist” (or, more accurately, on the socialist road toward the goal of communism) and, instead, for more than four decades now, following the death of Mao Zedong, they have taken the road of capitalism; with certain particular institutions and processes that differ from capitalism in the U.S. and similar countries, China itself is an emerging and increasingly powerful capitalist-imperialist country.

Skurk goes on to say of the followers of Bob Avakian: “They decry capitalism because it oppresses the poor, but don’t consider the millions capitalism has lifted out of poverty.”  Ironically, as a secondary aspect of things—but something not entirely irrelevant or insignificant, given Skurk’s approach and assertions—the fact is that a large part of those who have been “lifted out of poverty” are in (yes, capitalist) China, whose system Skurk condemns.  It is true that, as the rulers of China proclaim, a notable middle class (and, beyond that a smaller group of millionaires and billionaires) has developed with the implementation and functioning of capitalism in that country, but this is part of an overall picture—and a larger truth—that masses of people in China are bitterly exploited under this capitalist system; that hundreds of millions remain mired in poverty; that the health care system in China has gone from being the most egalitarian in the world (as it was when China was actually on the socialist road) to becoming the most unequal; that social ills, such as prostitution and drug addiction, which were largely eliminated in the period of socialism, have now re-emerged and become major social phenomena—and that the development of the Chinese economy is inseparable from exploitation by Chinese capital of poor people in Africa and many other parts of the world.

And there is the fact that, when China was on the socialist road, under the leadership of Mao, the standard of living of the masses of people was greatly improved (for example, life expectancy doubled from around 32 to 65, while the overall population expanded, many devastating diseases were eliminated or their effects significantly reduced, infant mortality significantly declined and in a city like Shanghai was lower than in parts of the U.S., and so on), and this was done through developing the economy and the society overall on the basis of moving to eliminate and uproot exploitation and oppression and supporting revolutionary struggles in other parts of the world.

Of all this Skurk has nothing to say—she is either ignorant of this reality, or is consciously choosing to ignore it, or some combination of both.

And her crediting capitalism for having lifted millions out of poverty is very much akin to those who claim that Black people in the United States should be grateful because—after centuries of brutal, murderous oppression and unspeakable degradation in America—slavery was finally ended in this country (while in fact horrific oppression of Black people has continued since then, in new as well as long-standing forms, including the perpetuation of certain forms of slavery, particularly through the prison system, for a period even after the Civil War).  As for poverty and its consequences, the reality is that, while the numbers have decreased over the past several decades, it is still the case, for example, that around six million children in the world die every year from starvation and preventable disease.  And this in a world where the productive forces at hand (the land, resources, technology, and people with knowledge and abilities) have long since established the basis for such outrages—and in fact for poverty, deprivation, and degradation overall—to be completely eliminated, everywhere in the world, and the fundamental reason that this has not been achieved is because of the private ownership of the means of production in the hands of competing capitalists, and the consequences of this for the masses of humanity, including the rapidly increasing destruction of the environment, when with the abolition of capitalist ownership of the means of production and exploitation of masses of people, and the institution of common ownership of these means of production, in a socialist society on the road to a communist world, the terrible, unnecessary suffering endured by the masses of humanity could be eliminated and moved beyond.

Skurk claims that those who are advocates of the new communism developed by Bob Avakian “naively turn a blind eye to the horrors communism wrought in Russia, China, and Cambodia, convinced they can do it better.”  The fact is that, while much of these “horrors” are inventions and distortions by the likes of Skurk (and, for that matter, “liberal” apologists for capitalism-imperialism), and while the overall experience of socialist societies on the road to communism has been definitely positive and inspiring, secondarily there have been, in this historical experience, real problems and errors, some actually grievous, and in the works of Bob Avakian, over four decades, there is a critical scientific examination of the actual history of the communist movement—its great achievements as well as, secondarily but significantly, its serious errors and severe setbacks—including the experience in the Soviet Union and China (which were on the road of socialism for a number of decades, before capitalism was restored in those countries, in the mid-1950s in the Soviet Union and the mid-1970s in China) and Cambodia, which in reality was never on this road of socialism but represented a departure from it and a distortion of communism.  This scientific study, along with serious engagement with and drawing lessons from many other important spheres of human endeavor, has precisely led to the synthesis that is embodied in the new communism.  And, yes, this new communism does enable those who take it up, and apply it as the living scientific method it is, to do even better.

As for Skurk’s smirking dismissal of the socialist society envisioned in the new communism, and embodied in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, as “this new communist paradise,” this once again displays the combination of ignorance and deliberate distortion that is typical of people with her outlook. Communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, as a consistently scientific method and approach, do not think in terms of a “paradise”—that is the province, and fantasy, of religion, and especially religious fundamentalists.  In the very beginning of this Constitution, and throughout, it is made clear that, while it represents a great leap forward toward the emancipation of humanity, socialist society is not, and cannot be, some kind of utopia.  Rather, it is a society in transition—from the capitalism it has overthrown to the communist world it is aiming for—and, as this Constitution clearly explains:

As historical experience has demonstrated, socialist society will—for a considerable period of time—contain, and in fact regenerate, elements of exploitation, social inequality and oppression, which have been, unavoidably, inherited from the old society and cannot be uprooted and abolished all at once, or soon after the establishment of the socialist state. Further, there is likely to be a protracted period in which new socialist states come into existence in a situation where they are, to one degree or another, encircled by imperialist and reactionary states, which will continue to exert significant influence and force, and may even occupy a dominant position in the world for some time.  These factors will, for a long time, repeatedly give rise to forces within socialist society itself, as well as within the parts of the world still dominated by imperialism and reaction, which will attempt to overthrow any socialist states that exist and restore capitalism there.  And historical experience has also demonstrated that, as a result of these contradictions, forces will emerge within the vanguard party itself, including at its top levels, which will fight for lines and policies that will actually lead to the undermining of socialism and the restoration of capitalism.  All this underscores the importance of continuing the revolution within socialist society, and of doing so in the overall framework of the revolutionary struggle throughout the world and with the internationalist orientation of giving fundamental priority to the advance of this worldwide struggle toward the achievement of communism, which is only possible on a world scale—and the importance of struggle within the party itself, as well as in society as a whole, to maintain and strengthen the revolutionary character and role of the party, in keeping with its responsibilities to act as the leadership of the continuing revolution toward the final goal of communism, and to defeat attempts to transform the party into its opposite, into a vehicle for the restoration of the old, exploitative and oppressive society. (From the Preamble to this Constitution)

Further, one of the distinguishing features of the new communism is its recognition that, even with the attainment of communism, throughout the world, there will not be some kind of utopia, but rather a situation in which exploitation and oppression and the corresponding social antagonisms will have been eliminated, but there will remain contradictions which people will need to continually confront and transform.  People will continue to face necessity in various forms and will need to take up the ongoing challenge of developing the ways—including through non-antagonistic struggle among themselves—to transform necessity into freedom... which in turn will be part of new necessity, which will again need to be transformed into freedom... and on and on.  The difference, again, is that exploitation and oppression and the corresponding social antagonisms—and the outlook corresponding to that social situation—will have been overcome and surpassed and will no longer constitute an obstacle to carrying out the process of transforming the world. And, in contrast with previous societies based on exploitation and oppression, there will be a whole new dimension of freedom for humanity—even as, once again, there will be the continuing need to transform necessity into new freedom.

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Christian Fundamentalism—Backbone and Hard Core Force for Fascism

In contrast to one of the headings in Skurk’s piece, no one—or certainly not the advocates of the new communism—assert or believe that “Christianity Is Fascist.” What Skurk is doing here is a “sleight-of-hand” trick typical of those who are, in fact, Christian fascists: attempting to “act the victim” and portray opposition to their attempts to impose fundamentalist theocracy on society as the suppression and persecution of Christians and Christianity. No, it is not Christianity as such but Christian fundamentalism—particularly as it has been politically and ideologically expressed in the U.S. over the past several decades, and as it has striven to in fact achieve a theocratic tyranny in this country—which is fascist.  Bob Avakian has made an extensive scientific analysis of this phenomenon in a number of works (which are available through the website revcom.us as well as the Bob Avakian Institute).  In a formulation that captures much of the essence of this, Bob Avakian, speaking of the fascists in the U.S., among which the Christian fundamentalists are a major, hardcore force, makes the following very important observation:

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.

And in this regard, it is worth quoting, at some length, the African-American theologian Hubert Locke:

Because of the cataclysmic devastation that the fascist government of Germany wrought on the world, our attention has tended—and rightly so—to focus on the twelve-year period that it was in power. During that period, James Luther Adams—one of the revered theologians of my generation who taught at Chicago and Harvard—went to Germany as was then the tradition among all newly-minted PhDs where he pursued post-doctoral studies. Adams saw the clash of the church with German fascism first-hand. A quarter-century ago, as he watched the emergence of the religious right in this country as a political force dedicated to "taking back the nation for God," Adams said to his students that they would find themselves having to fight "the Christian fascists" in this nation. He warned that the American fascists would not come wearing swastikas and brown shirts. The American variety, he said, would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.

We should make no mistake about what is at stake in this battle with the religious right. It is not happenstance that it is a movement that draws its strength and finds its support principally in the so-called heartland of the nation and especially in its southern precincts. This is the portion of the United States that has never been comfortable with post-WWII America. The brief period of normalcy after the war was followed within a decade by a pent-up and long overdue racial revolution that overturned centuries of culture and tradition, especially in the South. The disillusionment, two decades later, with an unpopular war in southeast Asia shook the foundations of traditional/conventional patriotism in American life; it was followed in the next decade by a sexual revolution that upset deeply entrenched views among this portion of the American populace about the subordinate place of women in society and the non-place of gay and lesbian persons in American life. These political and social and cultural defeats have now erupted into a pitched battle to turn back the clock on the last half-century and return America to its pre-war purity. It is not without significance that teaching creationism in the schools, for example, is such a prominent part of the religious right agenda. That was a battle the right lost in the mid-1920s but it is not one that the right ever acknowledged losing—just as some die-hards have never acknowledged losing the Civil War. Consequently, the restoration the religious right seeks is one that would recapture a way of life that disappeared in this nation a half-century ago.

Were all this only a battle for the hearts and minds of the American people, we could wade into the conflict with a great deal less concern, confident that good sense and human decency would ultimately triumph over ignorance and bigotry. But this is a battle for power—it's about seizing the reins of government, manipulating the courts and judicial decisions, controlling the media, and making incursions into every possible corner of our private lives and relationships, so that what the religious right perceives as the will of God will reign in America. (“Reflections on Pacific School of Religion's Response to the Religious Right,” by Dr. Hubert Locke, also available at revcom.us—emphasis added)

Skurk employs the tactic of taunting the #OUTNOW! demonstrators with the strange claim that there is no evidence that this fascism, and in particular its Christian fundamentalist backbone and spearhead, has made any real headway with regard to government and law and society overall.  This—possibly out of actual ignorance, but much more probably out of deliberate ignore-ance and distortion—fails (or refuses) to recognize or acknowledge these salient facts, among others:

With the ascendancy of the Trump/Pence regime, Christian fascists themselves boast that they have never had an executive branch so favorable to and supportive of their aims.  Pence himself is an unabashed Christian fundamentalist, and similar aggressive Christian fascists are positioned throughout this regime, including those occupying crucial positions in government, such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr, who declares war on secularism, denouncing it as an evil enemy that is responsible for all the country’s social ills.

With this regime in power, the attacks on the right to abortion, and birth control, have greatly escalated, the right to abortion is now hanging by a thread and abortion is practically unavailable in many parts of the country, while this regime has succeeded in appointing great numbers of right-wing judges, on many levels of the judiciary, including the very highest level, who clearly oppose the right to abortion (as enshrined in Roe v. Wade), with some also asserting that the Brown v. Board of Education decision outlawing segregated education was wrong (and, by extension, should also be reversed).

Attorney General Barr makes ominous threats against Black communities that dare to protest police brutality and murder, while the police kill a thousand people every year, a disproportionate number people of color, many of them unarmed, and Trump crudely spews white supremacist poison and encourages violent white supremacist thuggery, by police and others.

The right to asylum is being violated, in fact eviscerated, by this regime, with large numbers of immigrants summarily deported (many to their deaths), thousands held in concentration camps, and many very young children forcibly separated from their parents.

Science is repeatedly under attack by this regime and its fascist followers, particularly with regard to the climate crisis as well as the fundamental understanding that evolution, including the evolution of the human species, is a well-established scientific fact, one of the most well-established theories in all of science, without which science cannot really be carried out and carried forward.

Trump has more than once threatened to use nuclear weapons and to destroy countries.

All this is taking place, and accelerating, along with many other moves to institute fascist rule, not least the flagrant flouting of the rule of law by Trump, as evidenced for example by his refusal to commit himself to respecting the results of an election in which he is not declared the winner, as well as his claim that the Constitution gives him the power to do whatever he wants, and his open contempt for and trampling on Constitutional principles and provisions, as has been revealed through his impeachment, including his blatant obstruction of Congress.

The fact that this regime has not—yet—fully consolidated its fascist rule and fully implemented its fascist program is no cause for relief and political passivity (let alone for the kind of disingenuous ridicule that Skurk expresses for those acting on the demand that this regime be removed before it can carry out that full consolidation and implementation) but, on the contrary, should be a clarion call to all those—the tens of millions—who deeply despise this regime and everything it is aiming to do, to join with the #OUTNOW! demonstrators and their call for masses of people, thousands growing into millions, to carry out non-violent but sustained protest, whose aim is not “to overturn our system of government,” as Skurk falsely claims, but the removal of this fascist regime before it is too late.

Actually Ending Racist Oppression

Finally, to respond to one other important and illustrative distortion of Skurk’s, it is worth examining the following.  She writes:

The Avakian solution to racism in America is two-fold. All discrimination would be outlawed (if only it were that easy). Secondly, African-Americans would be given the opportunity to decide whether to form autonomous territories, something akin to Indian reservations. The same is true for Hispanics in the Southeast. Alternatively, the new government may consider giving Mexico back the land taken by the “Imperialist United States” in the Mexican American war.

This involves, yet once more, a gross oversimplification and distortion of what is embodied in this Constitution in regard to overcoming racist oppression. In the Preamble of this Constitution, as well as the following Articles, where fundamental orientation and concrete policy with regard to the many diverse dimensions of society are discussed, emphasis is given to overcoming “the egregious crimes, oppression and injustice perpetrated by the former ruling class and government of the United States of America against various minority nationalities” (Article II, Section 3).  And it is not merely stated that “discrimination against minority nationalities, in every sphere of society, including segregation in housing, education and other areas, shall be outlawed and prohibited,” but that “concrete measures and steps shall be adopted and carried out, by the government at the central and other levels, to overcome the effects of discrimination and segregation, and the whole legacy of oppression, to which these peoples have been subjected.”

This whole Section of Article II, which covers 10 pages of the Constitution, speaks concretely to how this shall be applied in terms of government institutions, functioning and policy; and this is also addressed in Section 4 of the next Article (III).

To speak to another gross distortion in Skurk’s “critique,” the autonomous regions that this Constitution says may be created with regard to minority (and formerly oppressed) nationalities are nothing at all “akin to Indian reservations.”  Those reservations, currently existing within the overall framework dominated by the capitalist-imperialist ruling class of this country, were historically established not on the basis of the will of those peoples—as would be the case in the New Socialist Republic in North America—but through the genocidal policy and actions of the United States government and the system it serves, which decimated the native peoples and forced them onto land and into a way of life that was not of their choosing and have acted to maintain the people there in conditions of deprivation and oppression.  In direct and fundamental opposition to this, as the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America lays out, the question of establishing autonomy in regions and areas “of significant population concentration of minority nationalities which were oppressed within the borders of the former imperialist USA,” shall be decided through elections involving only the members of the particular nationality.

Specifically with regard to Native Americans, this Constitution (in Article II, Section 3) emphazies 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.

And, in Article III, Section 4, this is also given emphasis:

As evidenced in the historical experience of oppressed nationalities in the imperialist USA (and in experience throughout the world) overcoming inequalities between regions is closely interconnected with uprooting national oppression.  Especially for this reason, the government of the New Socialist Republic in North America will devote special attention, efforts, and resources to the development of regions which, owing to the rule of exploiting classes and the dynamics of capitalism, and other factors, have been maintained, under the old system, in a more backward state, and to overcoming disparities between regions, as well as the gaps between urban and rural areas (in this regard see also Article IV).

Finally on this important question, given the continuing experience of horrific oppression of Black people throughout the history of the U.S. and their current situation as an oppressed nation within the U.S., the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America also upholds the right of Black people to self-determination, up to and including the right to secede from the New Socialist Republic and form a separate country—and it provides the process and means through which a vote, on the part of Black people, might be undertaken to determine this.

All this is an expression of the fundamental principle expressed in the Preamble of this Constitution:

The New Socialist Republic in North America is a multi-national and multi-lingual state, which is based on the principle of equality between different nationalities and cultures and has as one of its essential objectives fully overcoming national oppression and inequality, which was such a fundamental part of the imperialist USA throughout its history.  Only on the basis of these principles and objectives can divisions among humanity by country and nation be finally overcome and surpassed and a world community of freely associating human beings be brought into being.  This orientation is also embodied in the various institutions of the state and in the functioning of the government in the New Socialist Republic in North America.

The Fight Against Fascism and the Real Hope for Humanity

Much more could be written in response to Skurk’s attack, but from what has been shown it is clear that this is not a principled, fact-based and reasoned critique, of either #OUTNOW! or the new communism but, as stated at the beginning here, represents a typical combination of gross ignorance and deliberate distortion in the service of the kind of fascism concentrated in the Trump/Pence regime, for which Skurk is an apologist and which constitutes a very real, immediate and yes dire threat to the very existence and future of humanity.  In opposition to this, what is represented by the #OUTNOW! protesters and what they are calling for—and, in the most fundamental terms, what is embodied in the new communism—represents a real and uplifting hope for humanity and its future.

What are we facing?
A clip from a talk by Bob Avakian
Illustrated film clip

Watch the complete talk, here
THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!
In The Name of Humanity, We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America:
A Better World
IS Possible!
A Film of a Talk by Bob Avakian.

See also:

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

by Dr. Hubert Locke

Read more

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/633/the-senate-acquitted-donald-trump-en.html

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

The Senate Acquitted Donald Trump, Gutting the Rule of Law and Advancing Fascism in America

We Must Organize to Drive the Trump/Pence Regime from Power

| revcom.us

 

The acquittal of Donald Trump in the Senate impeachment trial is a big advance towards fascism in America. With no witnesses, no documents, this trial was a sham that gave a greenlight to Trump to do anything he wants, as long as he thinks it’s in the “public interest.”

Many Republican Senators who voted to acquit Trump even dispensed with denying his guilt, essentially declaring that truth is irrelevant and right doesn’t matter. Moreover, Lamar Alexander’s warning that Trump’s removal would “rip the country apart,” in conjunction with the convergence of 22,000 armed “gun-rights” protesters on the Virginia capitol on MLK Day, and 100,000 attending a march to end abortion that was presided over by Trump himself, raises the spectre of Trump’s fascist base which is energized and determined to bring about their vision for the future, even through the threat of violence and civil war.

They have brazenly told us that the normal channels, including the process of impeachment, cannot rein in a president and regime that is slashing through those norms and emerging victorious from every crisis. They have validated Trump to steal the next election. Without a third force, the people in the streets in sustained, non-violent mass protest, a fascist regime will barrel ahead to rule with even more brute force and terror.

Fascism has been unfolding, but it has made a major leap through this sham trial. In recent days, the Muslim Ban has been expanded to include six more countries, signaling that the whole fascist program will go forward with even more vengeance and entitlement. Concentration camps on the border... environmental devastation accelerated... war, even nuclear war, 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...All this and more will be accelerated and further sanctioned by this Senate acquittal.

EVERY DAY THAT THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME REMAINS IN POWER THREATENS THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY AND THE PLANET.

All over the world people have shown us that hated regimes can be forced out through mass sustained, non-violent protest. It’s time to get serious and get organized to build the kind of determined struggle from below that refuses to stop until the whole fascist Trump/Pence regime is removed from power.

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Refuse Fascism here.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/633/bob-avakian-black-history-month-2020-en.html

Bob Avakian on The Oppression of Black People & the Revolutionary Struggle to End All Oppression

| revcom.us

 

There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.

Bob Avakian

an illustrated excerpt from the film
“THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!
In The Name of Humanity,
We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America
A Better World IS Possible
A Talk by Bob Avakian”

Watch the entire film here

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

Watch the whole speech here

What will it take for masses of white people to break from white supremacy? A Q&A with Bob Avakian

Watch the whole speech here

WATCHING FRUITVALE STATION WITH BOB AVAKIAN

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

Read here | Download printable PDF

The Revolutionary Potential of the Masses and the Responsibility of the Vanguard

One of the things that I see, something that I haven't lost sight of, is this: I see all the strength of the ruling class, but I also see all the way through all this shit, all the contradictions in society—I actually see a force in this society that, if it were developed into a revolutionary people, actually could have a go at it, could have a real chance of making a revolution, or being the backbone force of a revolution, when the conditions were ripe. I see a force of millions and millions and millions—youth and others—for whom this system is a horror: It isn't going to take some cataclysmic crisis for this system to be fucking over them. The ruling class, ironically, sees them too. It is those who once had but have lost—or those who never had—a revolutionary perspective...it is they who can't see this.

Read more

The New Communism

From “Part III. The Strategic Approach to An Actual Revolution,” an excerpt from the section: 

National Liberation and Proletarian Revolution

Read here

Learn more about the book.

BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian

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

Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:1

Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy

Read online

Listen to MP3 audio:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

 

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/631/fundraising-appeal-from-member-of-tour-en.html

From a member of the National Revolution Tour:

In a time of such hopelessness... HOPE FOR HUMANITY, On a Scientific Basis.

A new year, a new decade... what future for humanity?

| revcom.us

 

We in the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour are reaching out to you to donate to and sustain the work of the Tour. The start of this new year has already brought into sharp relief the dire state of the world, and urgent need for a much better world. And we are a cohort of revolutionaries determined to break through the dread and hopelessness with real hope on a scientific basis. We are struggling to take up and apply the leadership of Bob Avakian and the new communism he has forged and fighting to bring forward thousands into the ranks of the revolution.

While the global climate crisis literally heats up, as on display in Australia; while the U.S.’ assassination of an Iranian general brings the world to the brink of war, with people of the world still on the brink of disastrous conflict and subject to the whims of fascist-in-chief Trump and American imperial interests; and while the high-stakes impeachment trial of this fascist-in-chief has begun... we on this National Revolution Tour are working and struggling to wrench out of all this a brighter future for humanity. 

Members of the Tour were in DC for the Women’s March 2020 and will be there during the impeachment trial to strengthen the #OUTNOW movement to drive this fascist regime from power while boldly putting forward that a BETTER world IS possible, and we are making revolution to get to that world. Others on the Tour went to Richmond, Virginia, on Monday, MLK Day, into a gathering of various armed right-wing, fascist, and white supremacist groupings, unleashed and strengthened by the fascists in power. We went into the midst of all that to raise the banners “NO White Supremacy!” “TRUMP/PENCE #OUTNOW!” “REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!” This gathering prefigured the kind of polarization that Bob Avakian has been pointing to, namely that the sections of society on the side of a virulent white supremacist, male supremacist, American chauvinist fascism are arming for and preparing to carry out a race war/civil war, while too much of what characterizes those sections of people opposed to that are politically pacified, proceeding with politics as usual, or sleepwalking through this nightmare (even while claiming “woke-ness”).

Now more than ever the work of the Tour to put before society that THERE IS A REAL WAY OUT, and to bring forward and train new waves of revolutionaries and revolutionary leaders on the basis of Bob Avakian’s new communism, is both needed and holds potential to radically raise people’s sights and carve a way forward out of the darkness that this system imposes on the world.

So donate generously and consider becoming a sustainer of the Tour, making a regular contribution of funds to meet the Tour’s ongoing needs for food, travel, and housing; donate travel miles (TourMilesToGoFar@gmail.com) reach out with ideas and ways to raise funds and expand the reach and effect of the National Revolution Tour.

For all your contributions past, current, and future, I want to say on behalf of all of us on the Tour, and having in mind the interests of the 7 billion people depending on all of us who see the need for a radically different future: thank you.

Download this PDF and distribute broadly among past, present and future donors.   

Watch January 21 Report Back from Richmond, Virginia by Carl Dix and others from National Revolution Tour

Watch and spread this video everywhere now!

January 20, Carl Dix and others in the Revolution Tour courageously stood up to the white supremacist, gun-toting mob, to represent for REAL REVOLUTION as re-envisioned by Bob Avakian

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/632/there-was-a-counter-protest-to-the-phony-gun-rights-rally-en.html

Yes, Virginia There WAS A Counter-Protest to the Phony “Gun Rights” Rally... And Here’s Why It’s Important

By Lucha Bright, member of the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour

| revcom.us

 

If you scanned the headlines, you were told the massive “gun rights” rally in Richmond, Virginia on Martin Luther King Day was a peaceful gathering of law-abiding people who disagree with the gun restrictions passed by the Democrats. You were told that marginal factions of white supremacists tried to infiltrate it and cause trouble, but that didn't happen. You were told to be relieved.

YOU WERE LIED TO.

What was on display in Richmond was not a “gun rights” rally. It was a show of force by a growing white supremacist fascist base being primed for civil war by the Trump/Pence regime.

I know. I was there. And yes, there was a counter-protest right in the face of these fascists toting automatic weapons... quiet as it's been kept. I was part of it, along with some comrades.

Coming into downtown Richmond, a city that is 50% Black, there were no Black people in sight on Martin Luther King Day. Instead, the otherwise deserted streets were filled with armed white men in paramilitary gear. You felt that the lynch mob had arrived and terrorized people into their homes. I was with a group of Black, white, Asian and Latino men and women. As we walked through, the comment “smells like fried chicken” was repeatedly directed toward the Black people in our group.

“Waving their Trump flags... chanting ‘USA, USA,’ it was very similar to watching those black-and-white films of Nuremberg rallies of Nazis chanting ‘sieg heil’...,” said Luna Hernandez, a member of the National Revolution Tour who was part of the counter-protest. “Some of the fascists [were] talking about antifa, saying ‘I’d like to see them come right up in here and get their asses beat... imagine if they did with all these guns here, I have 27 acres and a bucket of acid,’ basically hearkening to, ‘I’m going to wipe these people out and laugh about it and bury them in my own backyard’ and also talking about immigrants and comparing their bullets to bug spray, ‘I’m going to kill all these roaches.’”

At the capitol building, the majority of these thugs stayed outside the temporary gun-free zone established in the state of emergency declaration by the governor, chanting “We will not comply!” and “Trump 2020.”

Up close, this was fairly terrifying. But once we began our protest, our fear was overtaken by defiance and joy: we were standing up together against this terror, we were acting in the interests of humanity and making a different future more possible... and it felt good!

We unfurled four banners: “Trump/Pence #OUTNOW!,” “NO White Supremacy,” “A Better World IS Possible,” “Revolution — Nothing Less!” and shouted each slogan together. Heads turned toward us and Carl Dix’s voice rang out with a message to the world, beginning by reaching through the whole history of this country: “There is a direct line from the Confederacy to the fascists of today,” quoting the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian. The fascists began chanting “USA” and “Trump 2020!” We did this protest first in the center of where the official rally was to be held in the gun-free zone, and then again outside of that area right in the midst of gun-toting fascists.

That we weren’t violently attacked is not a testament to a “peaceful rally.” I was in Charlottesville in 2017 and was bashed in the head and sent to the hospital by white supremacists shortly before Heather Heyer was murdered. This Richmond rally was filled with the same kind of forces. The difference is: now they have a broader base of support, and some of the more strategic groups called for their forces to be tactical and not have a riot. No, not every person there was in a white-supremacist militia, but all of them were comfortable swimming in a sewer of white supremacy and giving it active backing.

There should have been a huge outpouring against this. Instead, everyone besides us was mainly intimidated into acquiescence. Many organizations told people to stay home because it wasn’t safe. A legislator with the Democratic Socialists of America announced he was going into hiding that day. Other so-called progressive organizations who oppose the gun restrictions were willing to pretend this wasn’t a fascist rally and even try to unite with it.

The Trump/Pence regime and their followers talk regularly in terms of civil war. Trump speaks of having the support of the military, police and Bikers for Trump: “tough people” who “don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad.” He has suggested he will not leave office, even if voted out. He is currently on trial for trying to sabotage an election.

In that light: What does it mean that on the eve of the impeachment trial, an armed mob can threaten Democratic legislators and surround the Virginia capitol building chanting “We Will Not Comply” and “Trump 2020”? What does it mean that in the face of that, the “left” collapses and the media normalizes all this?

In going to Richmond we took to heart a challenge from the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian last summer, “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?!” (See: Individualism, BEB, and the Illusion of “Painless Progress”.)

Over three years we’ve seen murderous white supremacists declared “fine people,” immigrants locked in concentration camps, presidential rallies encouraging violence, threats of nuclear war and shredding of environmental protections, a full-out assault on truth and science, the right to abortion nearly gone.

Now, Trump is finally on trial for a small portion of his crimes, and if the tens of millions of us who reject this future — even in hundreds at first, and growing to thousands and then more — started pouring into the streets now, the outcome of the senate trial could be very different than where the current sham trial is now headed. If we are mobilized in this way, even an acquittal could fuel further protests that grow — akin to what we’ve seen all over the world in the last year. But this won’t happen if we sit back and wait. RefuseFascism.org is calling for these protests, demanding Trump/Pence #OUTNOW!, and the National Revolution Tour is in Washington, DC this week contributing to this.

At the same time, the larger reality is this: if there is going to be a radically alternative future, we have to go all the way to the roots. There is an analysis of the rise of this fascist regime and how to dislodge it in the work Bob Avakian has done. More fundamentally, he has brought forward a scientific approach, the new communism, that digs all the way into the soil that gave rise to this fascism — the very functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system — and shows why and how the horrors humanity now faces are completely unnecessary and a better world really IS possible through an actual revolution.

It is because of this scientific understanding and leadership that we in the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour were able to see the need and possibility of going into the heart of the fascist rally to counter-protest it. So instead of being weighed down or refusing to look at how bad this all is, instead of turning inward to focus on self or being consumed by fear, we were able to confront reality and act in a way that can forge something new.

In these dangerous and truly high stakes days, we all need to come out of our comfort zones. I urge you to lift your sights to a whole better way the world could be by digging into the work of Bob Avakian and following where it takes you. At the same time, I urge you to step into the streets in DC — or around the country — on January 29th to demand the removal of the Trump/Pence regime as this historic impeachment battle is still unfolding.

The future is unwritten. Trump's side is fighting with all they've got. Will all of us do the same?

Also:

Facing Down 22,000 Heavily Armed, Mostly MAGA Fanatics
The Revolution Tour Represents for a Radically Different Future

Read more

Watch the January 21 Report Back from Richmond, Virginia by Carl Dix and others from National Revolution Tour!

Watch and spread this video everywhere now!

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

To know and change the world...
get into Bob Avakian (BA),
the leader of the revolution.

To know and change the world... get into Bob Avakian (BA), the leader of the revolution.

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

If Trump is acquitted in a sham trial, a fascist regime will barrel ahead with disastrous consequences for humanity.

Trump and Pence #OUTNOW!

Flood DC. Protest Wednesday, January 29.

» 11:00 am east side of U.S. Capitol: Rally demanding Trump/Pence #OUTNOW!

Meet on the SW corner of 1st Street North East and Constitution Ave

» 5:00 pm march/outreach to communities in DC.

Meet up at the Capitol, Delaware Ave NE and Northeast Dr

Read more

 

 

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

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/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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Announcing New Special Issue of Demarcations

| revcom.us

 

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

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

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/632/the-senate-vote-a-vctory-for-fascism-en.html

Urgently Needed: Struggle in the Streets

The Senate Vote to Suppress Witness Testimony Is a Victory for Fascism

| revcom.us

 

Editors’ note: a version of this article appeared on revcom.us on February 1. As developments have continued and as our understanding has deepened, substantive changes have been made to some parts of it.

Friday, January 31, the Senate voted 51 to 49 to refuse to hear further witnesses in the impeachment trial of Trump. Every Republican senator, with two exceptions, voted against hearing witnesses. They did this despite the fact that John Bolton, one of the former top officials of the Trump/Pence regime, had offered to testify. By all accounts, Bolton was ready to verify that Trump had personally admitted to him withholding military aid to force Ukrainian president Zelensky to publicly announce an investigation of Trump’s political opponent Joe Biden for corruption. In other words, Bolton would have likely given first person direct evidence that Trump was corruptly and illegally using the power of the presidency for personal gain to discredit his main political rival in the upcoming presidential election.

Prior to this, a large part of Trump’s defense had rested on the fact that no witness had yet been able to testify that Trump had directly stated to them his motive for withholding aid. Why? Because Trump refused to cooperate at all with the impeachment inquiry. He forbade anyone in his administration from testifying. In other words, Trump’s lawyers and Senate Republicans had said that Trump should not be impeached because there were no direct eyewitnesses. Now, when a credible eyewitness presented himself, they refused to let that witness testify and scurried to end the trial!

This cleared the Republican path to acquit Trump this coming Wednesday, February 5. And in fact, this had been part of their plan all along—with Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, openly saying before the trial that he was coordinating with Trump and that Trump would be acquitted.

A Big Step Towards Fascism

An acquittal of Trump on these terms is a big step towards a fascist America. Conducted by craven fascist Republicans, this trial seriously undermined the rule of law. The trial legitimated the dangerous idea that truth has no role in governing with the result being that whatever Trump, or any president says and does, goes.

This is a further leap towards fascism which is, in short, a different form of rule by the ruling capitalist class—a blatant dictatorship of open terror and violence by the state, and the discarding of what are supposed to be civil and legal rights as well as what have been traditional bourgeois democratic principles and norms of governance.1 As Bob Avakian points out in “What IS Fascism” and many other works, this fascism did not just emerge with Trump—it is deeply rooted in both long-term and more recent American history and a response to very sharp contradictions in the world today. But it has taken a leap with Trump. The terms of this trial and its actual course underline that point.

Ominous Implications

This vote was a defeat for the rule of law.

Trump’s lawyer Alan Dershowitz literally mounted the defense that if Trump, or any other president, “does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo [a deal] that results in impeachment.” Dershowitz argued that this is because, “Every public official that I know believes that his election is in the public interest.”

What does it mean that the president now gets to define what is legal or not, depending on whether he or she believes that their being elected is in the public interest? How is this different from the president being “a law unto himself”? This argument from Dershowitz gives legal expression to Trump’s bogus theory that—to quote him directly—Article 2 of the Constitution means that “the president can do whatever he wants.” This is the unvarnished version and real meaning of the theory of the “unitary executive” put forward by the fascist attorney general William Barr. And now the Senate has effectively enshrined this. At this point one must ask, is there anything under these rules that Trump—or any other president—could NOT do?

This vote is a defeat for truth.

Bolton’s testimony could have helped get to the truth of what actually happened and opened up the way for others to testify. His testimony might well have led to further evidence of even more criminal activity by Trump and his fellow fascists-in-power to emerge. Faced with this prospect, the Republican senators moved to block this as soon as possible. Bolton is coming out with a book soon that reportedly includes some of the things he would have testified to in the impeachment if witnesses had been allowed. But it is now far from certain that Bolton’s book will even see the light of day, as the White House could move to invoke its “national security” power to censor the key portions of it or even the whole book. What does it mean to the ability of people to know the truth when the executive power can openly and without penalty suppress evidence of its own corrupt and illegal activity? This is an epistemology, as Bob Avakian has said in another context, in which the criterion of truth has been replaced by “might makes right.”2

A Victory for Fascism... That Could Get Still Worse

This is a victory for fascism. As gone into, the denial of truth and the gutting of the rule of law were given official sanction by the trial proceedings. Moreover, if Trump is acquitted, and even more so if there is not significant opposition in the streets, it will be manipulated into a further seal of approval for what has gone on.

Trump himself is almost certain to take revenge against those who opposed him. This could include figures like Adam Schiff, who in many ways spearheaded the impeachment effort and did, from his point of view, make a compelling case that Trump had gutted the rule of law. And in fact, even in the course of this impeachment, Trump made a number of threats that could at least be interpreted as involving violence—threats which no prominent Republican disavowed.

But this will get still worse if what happens now is a single-minded pivot to the elections, with no examination of what really happened here—of the deepening of the fascist threat and what must be done to stop it. There is a larger critique to be made of the role of elections under capitalism (see Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, by Bob Avakian, in particular these excerpts from pages 29–49), which we will not go into now. But for the purposes of this article it can be said that a) as people like Adam Schiff have predicted, Trump will use what is in fact newly won freedom to do everything he can to mold the elections his way; and b) even if Trump himself were to somehow lose and be removed from office, not only would the deep social contradictions that have given rise to this fascism continue and intensify, but these fascists would also actively seek new ways to redouble their offensive.

Democrats vs. Republicans: A Sharp Divide at the Top that Leaves Humanity in the Lurch; Unless the People Act in Our Own Interests

As the impeachment process showed, there is a sharp split “at the top” between the Republicans and Democrats. But it is important to see what this split is over... and what it is not.

First, the Democratic leadership refused to impeach for almost three years and then when they finally did, they only did so when their then leading candidate for president, former Vice President Joe Biden, was being attacked. President Trump pressured—essentially tried to extort—the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden in exchange for foreign aid to defend their country against Russia. The Democrats saw this as Trump abusing his official power to “cheat” in the 2020 election. And the whole Ukraine affair reflected sharp differences between the Democrats and the Trump/Pence regime over national security. especially concerning Russia. Distilling this, Bob Avakian wrote: “[F]rom 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'...”

But they didn’t indict Trump for the regime’s many crimes that violate U.S. and international law and which are also outrageous abuses of power. For instance, to take just one of the many outrageous crimes of this regime: the separation of immigrant children from their parents along with putting them in cages and the turning away of refugees desperately seeking asylum contain violations of U.S. and international law and, along with his racist vicious demagoguery that has fomented violence against immigrants, should certainly have been part of his impeachment. And, the same could be said for his outrageously harmful words and deeds against women, LGBTQ people, Muslims, Black people, the environment, and his breaking international norms and law raising the danger of war, even nuclear war. By not indicting Trump on these broader grounds, the terms of the impeachment left the interests of humanity out of the picture, with the result being that the whole Trump/Pence fascist program is further legitimated. This contributed to many people not recognizing the stakes for humanity in the impeachment process—that our interests are not the same as those of the Democratic Party, and why masses of people need to act outside the confines of the normal channels to fight for the future of humanity.

The Democrats do see Trump as a threat... to American capitalist-imperialist interests and legitimacy. On that basis they have real conflicts with him. Indeed, the consolidation of fascism requires the destruction or neutering of their opposition in the government. This is what Trump’s calls to “lock her up,” and labeling opposing politicians “traitors” reflect. The move to impeach marked a heightening of those conflicts. But the Democrats also worked to keep that within the narrow political constraints outlined above AND they refused to seriously call into the streets the millions in society who hate much or all of what Trump stands for. Along with that, they almost to a person have refused to call this regime out for what it is: fascist. Because if they did do that, then the implication WOULD be for people to do everything they can to stop such a thing; it could deeply shake people’s faith in that system and its “proper procedures,” spur people to take the streets in genuine resistance that could get out of their control, and spark a search for larger and more fundamental solutions to what we face.

At the same time, the fact that the Democrats did feel driven to impeach, even on narrow terms and even without themselves calling people into the streets, did make a difference. The impeachment itself was a blow to Trump, at least temporarily. The impeachment dragged to light even more ugly crap from the regime and the act itself did raise people’s hopes. In fact, on the night of the House impeachment vote tens of thousands around the country DID come into the streets.

But that, unfortunately, is where it stopped. There were protests involving hundreds and at times several thousands nationwide, and small groups did sit in Congressional offices at different times. Yet imagine the difference it might have made had tens and hundreds of thousands been sitting in at Senate offices, taking over the streets all across the country, demanding the removal of this regime, and making clear their determination to refuse to accept a fascist America. While nothing is certain, even in the short term it might have resulted in two senators voting differently and a whole process where even more of the truth began to spill out, leading to more mass outpouring, and a whole back-and-forth process.

What Must Be Done Right Now

These next few days will very likely witness the culmination of a certain stage of this struggle concentrated around the impeachment. Yet for all the reasons stated above, this conflict is not going away. Those who went on Twitter on Friday night to denounce the verdict have a responsibility to show up now in the streets, wherever you are. Those of you caught up in the elections who in part are driven there by your hatred of Trump and the fascist threat represented by him and Pence also have a responsibility to put your body in the streets.

On Monday, senators will make final arguments in the case. Tuesday night, Trump gives his State of the Union speech, in which he will almost certainly take the offensive against those who impeached him. Then on Wednesday, the Senate will vote. At this time, fascist victory in the Senate seems all but certain.

But what people do—what YOU do—in the next few days will matter greatly to the future. It will make a huge difference whether people in their masses continue to sit passively, either absorbing themselves in the elections as a substitute for action or sitting on their couches despairing for the future, or whether there is serious protest in the streets saying NO! and declaring determination to fight on, truly resist, and ultimately drive this regime out. It will raise a standard and challenge the tens of millions who do hate this regime but as yet do nothing to directly confront it, and it will give hope to those here and around the world who suffer its grave attacks and terrible injustices.

The months to come are not necessarily going to be smooth sailing to the elections. Severe jolts—including perhaps occasioned by attacks on prominent Democrats or forces aligned with them—could occur. The question is what kind of opposition those will meet, and where will it go. And that is up to us.

 

1. What IS Fascism? – a full definition

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]

2. Bob Avakian wrote:

For humanity to advance beyond a state in which “might makes right”—and where things ultimately come down to raw power relations—will require, as a fundamental element in this advance, an approach to understanding things (an epistemology) which recognizes that reality and truth are objective and do not vary in accordance with, nor depend on, different “narratives” and how much “authority” an idea (or “narrative”) may have behind it, or how much power and force can be wielded on behalf of any particular idea or “narrative,” at any given point.

BAsics 4:10 [back]

Read more

Bob Avakian—the direct line from the Confederacy to the fascists of today—illustrated film clip

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

A Big Step Toward Fascism and the Challenge Before Us

Senate Republicans have blocked witnesses and gutted the rule of law, clearing the way to acquit Trump on February 5.

This Cannot Go Down Unopposed!

Urgently Needed: People in the streets Monday through Wednesday refusing to accept this.

Read more

Go to RefuseFascism.org to read more.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/633/communism-and-jeffersonian-democracy-en.html

Excerpts from:

Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy
by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

“Competing Elites”—and
Moving Beyond “Elites”

The concept of “competing elites” is an important element of theories of bourgeois democracy and how it is the best system possible. The basic argument is that the existence of competing elites is crucial in order for people—and, in particular, those who are not part of the “elites”—to exercise initiative by being able to choose among, and thereby being able to influence, these competing elites. For example, Robert A. Dahl, in his book Democracy and Its Critics, speaks to what he calls an “MDP”—standing for Modern Dynamic Pluralist—society and how this best serves what he characterizes with the term “polyarchy”—which, according to Dahl, involves “a set of political institutions that, taken together, distinguish modern representative democracy from all other political systems, whether non-democratic regimes or earlier democratic systems.” (Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics, Yale University Press, 1989, p. 218.)

Dahl argues that:

polyarchy provides a broad array of human rights and liberties that no actually existing real world alternative to it can match. Integral to polyarchy itself is a generous zone of freedom and control that cannot be deeply or persistently invaded without destroying polyarchy itself....Although the institutions of polyarchy do not guarantee the ease and vigor of citizen participation that could exist, in principle, in a small city-state, nor ensure that governments are closely controlled by the citizens or that policies invariably correspond with the desires of a majority of citizens, they make it unlikely in the extreme that a government will long pursue policies that deeply offend a majority of citizens. What is more, those institutions even make it rather uncommon for a government to enforce policies to which a substantial number of citizens object and try to overturn by vigorously using the rights and opportunities available to them. If citizen control over collective decisions is more anemic than the robust control they would exercise if the dream of participatory democracy were ever realized, the capacity of citizens to exercise a veto over the reelection and policies of elected officials is a powerful and frequently exercised means for preventing officials from imposing policies objectionable to many citizens. (Democracy and Its Critics, p. 223)

Well, let’s look at things in the actually existing real world. [Laughter] Let’s take what Dahl has said here, which expresses a fairly common affirmation of what is in reality bourgeois democracy, and see how this measures up to—and what it actually amounts to in—this real world. Let’s begin with the assertion, which Dahl makes emphatically, that in such a society it is “unlikely in the extreme that a government will long pursue policies that deeply offend a majority of citizens” and that “What is more, those institutions even make it rather uncommon for a government to enforce policies to which a substantial number of citizens object and try to overturn by vigorously using the rights and opportunities available to them.”

In regard to this, I cannot help paraphrasing Lenin here, to say that Dahl might wish that there were a law against laughing in public (and for all we know, the Bush regime may yet oblige such a wish). Otherwise, to make reference to significant current events, and specifically to the millions and tens of millions who have tried by “vigorously using the rights and opportunities available to them” to prevent and then bring to an end the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and numerous other policies of the Bush regime which are not only opposed but deeply detested by a very substantial segment of the population in the U.S.—probably a majority—if Dahl’s statement were repeated among such people, it would very likely be drowned out under a tidal wave of bitter laughter.

What does—and does not—happen through elections...
what is—and is not—meaningful political activity

It is not just experience in this immediate period, but experience throughout the history of this country that has illustrated time and again the following essential truths:

1) There is, in the U.S., a ruling class that has interests which are very different from and fundamentally in opposition to those of the masses of citizens.

2) This ruling class in reality exercises a dictatorship—that is, a monopoly of political power backed up by and concentrated in a monopoly of armed power over the rest of society—and those who at any given time are administering that dictatorship will continue to pursue policies they are determined to carry out, even in the face of massive popular opposition, unless and until the larger interests of the ruling class dictate that it modify or even abandon a particular policy—or until that ruling class is overthrown.

3) Elections do not provide an avenue for the realization of the desire of masses of people to see these policies and actions of the government change—although mass political resistance can, under certain circumstances, make an important contribution to forcing changes in government policy, especially if this takes place in a larger context where these policies are running into real trouble and, among other things, are leading to heightened divisions within the ruling class itself.

If we step back a few decades from the present, we can see how the experience around Vietnam provided a concentrated example of all this. As I have pointed out before, there were two elections in relation to Vietnam which involved significant contention and “soul searching” particularly among people strongly opposed to the Vietnam war, and which illustrate the basic point I am making—and debunk the notions that Dahl is putting forward.

First, there was the election in 1964 when the U.S. began to significantly escalate its “involvement” in Vietnam. To inject a personal element into this—but something which touches on a more general phenomenon—this is one of the two elections for president of the United States in which I actually voted. It was the first election in which I was eligible to vote, and after some agonizing I decided to vote for Lyndon Johnson in that 1964 election (I voted for Eldridge Cleaver in 1968, but that was a very different story). At the time of that 1964 election, there was a very intense debate in the “movement” about whether or not to vote—that is, whether or not to vote for Johnson. Johnson was coming out on behalf of civil rights, making concessions to the massive struggle around that, and at the same time, even while as president he was carrying out an escalation of the Vietnam war, he was not openly talking in the crazy and extreme terms that his rival, the Republican candidate Barry Goldwater, was. Goldwater was famous—or some would say infamous—for his statement, at the time of his nomination at the Republican Convention in 1964, that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, and that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. Of course, Goldwater conceived of liberty and justice in bourgeois and imperialist terms, and he saw the Vietnamese people’s resistance to U.S. domination as a vice—a violation of and interference with imperialist liberty and justice. So Goldwater was talking in extreme terms about Vietnam—bombing the Vietnamese back to the Stone Age, or language similar to that. Many people in the broad movement of that time were arguing that, with all this in mind, you had to vote for Johnson—that it was absolutely essential, in terms of Vietnam as well as other key issues, to vote for Johnson—and I, along with many others, was influenced and finally persuaded by this. So we went and held our noses, as people often do these days, and voted for the Democrat, Lyndon Johnson.

Well, after the election was over—during which Johnson had run campaign ads talking about the extreme danger of what Goldwater would do in Vietnam—Johnson himself proceeded to massively escalate the war in Vietnam, both in terms of bombing that country and in terms of beginning the process of sending wave after wave of U.S. troops to Vietnam (which, by the late 1960s, reached the level of 500,000). And, of course, those of us who had been persuaded and cajoled into voting for Johnson felt bitterly betrayed by this. This provided a very profound lesson.

By the time the 1972 elections came around (and I spoke to this somewhat in my memoir),10 once again there was, even within the Revolutionary Union (the forerunner of our Party) as well as more broadly among those opposed to the Vietnam war, a big debate and struggle about whether it was necessary to support the “anti-war candidate,” George McGovern—or, to put it another way, to vote against Nixon. Within the RU itself, arguments were made that it was “our internationalist duty to the Vietnamese people” to vote for McGovern and get Nixon out, because otherwise Nixon would escalate the war in Vietnam again, but McGovern would bring an end to the war.

Well, in the end, I (and the leadership of the RU overall) didn’t go for this. We did examine the question seriously—we didn’t just take a dogmatic approach. I remember being up many nights wrestling with the question: Is this a particular set of circumstances which requires an exception to the general approach of not supporting, not even holding your nose and voting for, bourgeois electoral candidates? But I came to the conclusion—on the basis of a lot of agonizing and of wrangling with others—that, no, it was not “our internationalist duty to the Vietnamese people” to support McGovern, that instead our internationalist duty was better served by continuing to build mass resistance against that war and the overall policies of the government—and, more fundamentally, opposition to the system as a whole—which is what we set out to do.

But there were many who did get drawn into the whole McGovern thing. It might be very interesting for those of you who weren’t around at the time (or were not yet politically conscious and active) to go back and look at films, if they are available, of the 1972 Democratic Convention. There was Jerry Rubin, and many other “movement people,” who were being welcomed into the killing embrace of “mainstream” bourgeois politics, and specifically the Democratic Party—back within those suffocating confines. And, in truth, some of them were feeling a certain sense of relief in believing that, after years of struggling to change things from outside those confines—with all the difficulties, sacrifices, and, yes, real dangers, bound up with that—maybe there could be an avenue for changing things “from within.” But, of course, what happened in reality is that Nixon trounced McGovern in the elections. Through the machinery of bourgeois electoral politics, and the dynamics of bourgeois politics in a more general sense, things were more or less set up that way. Without going into too many particulars here, it is worth noting that McGovern was barely out of the gate campaigning, after the Democratic Convention, when his running mate (vice presidential nominee) Thomas Eagleton was exposed as having been a “mental case,” as it was popularly conceived at the time. Eagleton, it turned out, had at one point sought psychiatric help, and this made him “unfit” to be vice president and next in line as head of state. So they had to replace him with Sargent Shriver (of the Kennedy clan). And more generally, the whole McGovern campaign was a debacle, right from the beginning. Nixon ended up winning almost every state in the presidential election that year.

Many people were demoralized by this—essentially because they had accepted, and confined themselves within, the terms of bourgeois electoral politics. Yet a few months after the 1972 election, Nixon was forced to sign a “peace agreement” on Vietnam. While this took place in the context of larger international factors—including the contention between the U.S. and the Soviet Union (which was then a social-imperialist country: socialist in name but imperialist in fact and in deed), as well as the international role at that time of China, which was then a socialist country but was adopting certain tactical measures, including an “opening to the west,” as part of dealing with the very real threat of attack by the Soviet Union on China—it was, to a significant degree, because of the continuing struggle of the Vietnamese people, and massive opposition within the U.S. itself to U.S. aggression in Vietnam, that Nixon was forced to sign this “peace agreement.”

This agreement led, first, to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam—and an attempt by Nixon to carry out “Vietnamization” (getting the army of the U.S.-dependent South Vietnamese government to more fully fight the war, backed up by U.S. air power)—and then led, only a couple of years later, to the ultimate and very welcomed defeat of U.S. imperialism and its puppet government in South Vietnam. You all have seen the scenes of people scrambling to get on the helicopters leaving the U.S. embassy in 1975, as the National Liberation Front troops (the so-called “Vietcong”) knock down the gate to that embassy.

Now, the important lesson for what we’re talking about here is that in neither case—neither in 1964 nor in 1972—were the decisive changes that occurred brought about by the elections. Quite the contrary. In 1964 people massively voted for someone who supposedly wouldn’t escalate the Vietnam war—and then he escalated that war on a massive scale. In 1972 many people voted against Nixon because he was going to escalate the war further—but he was forced to pull out U.S. troops, and that led to the ultimate defeat of the U.S. and its puppet government in South Vietnam.

In both cases, the compelling pull and the seeming logic that it was crucial to vote for a Democrat—or at least to vote against the Republican—in order to avert real disasters, was not borne out at all in reality. And the reason for that is very basic: Elections are not the actual dynamics through which essential decisions about the policies of the government, and the direction of society, are made—the votes of the people in elections are not the actual forces compelling changes of one kind or another. This is what is dramatically illustrated if you examine—and in particular, if you examine scientifically—these two elections, which in effect bracketed the heavy involvement of the U.S. in Vietnam (the 1964 election toward the beginning, and the 1972 election toward the end, of that involvement).

So, let’s issue a challenge: Let anyone explain how holding your nose and voting for the Democrat (or enthusiastically voting for the Democrat) in either or both of those elections led to, and was responsible for, changes of the one kind or the other—negative changes in 1964, with the escalation by the U.S. of the war in Vietnam, and 8 years later the positive change of U.S. imperialism heading for decisive defeat in its attempt to impose its domination on Vietnam through massive devastation of that country and the slaughter of several million of its people. No, none of this happened through elections, because elections are not the actual basis and the real vehicle through which truly significant changes in society (and the world), of one kind or another, are brought about.

This is obviously extremely relevant now, when there is a widespread hatred, in certain ways unprecedented in its scale and in some senses in its depth, for the whole regime associated with George W. Bush, and yet people have great difficulty rupturing with the notion that the only possible avenue for changing the course of things is to get sucked once again into the dynamics of bourgeois politics—which are set up to serve, and can only serve, the interests of the ruling class, and which have not and do not provide the means and channels through which changes in the interests of the people can be brought about.

In light of all this, we can see the fundamental error reflected in Dahl’s assertion that “the capacity of citizens to exercise a veto over the reelection and policies of elected officials is a powerful and frequently exercised means for preventing officials from imposing policies objectionable to many citizens.” In fact, the means through which that happens is massive upsurge and resistance, in combination with other factors—including resistance, struggle and revolution in other parts of the world, as well as other contradictions that the imperialists are running up against, even short of revolution to overthrow them. That is the basis on which, and the means through which, officials are prevented from continuing to impose policies objectionable to large numbers of people.

Can the people really be nothing more than pawns of elites?

And here we get to the fundamental point: What Dahl upholds as a “good society”—or, as people like him see it, the best possible society—is one in which the role of the masses of people, of the citizens, is reduced to acting as a “check” on the elites who actually make political decisions. This is another expression of the notion that the best possible political system is one in which there is not one supposedly uniform and monolithic elite, but competing elites, and the “freedom” of the masses of people—including the preservation of their human rights and liberties—resides ultimately in their ability to choose among, and perhaps maneuver between, competing elites. The presumption is that, particularly through the medium of elections, this will somehow cause the elites to compete for the people’s support in such a way that somehow the will of the people will be exercised in setting the direction of society, to the degree that is really possible in a modern, complex society.

Well, to more thoroughly refute this, to demonstrate what it amounts to in reality—and to make clear that it is possible to have a radically different and much better kind of society, in which the role of the people is actually to be the decision-makers, through an overall process which takes place in a qualitatively different way and in a whole greater dimension than anything practiced, or even conceived, by the rulers and political theorists of capitalism (and previous forms of society in general)—let’s begin with the following, speaking to the essential nature and role of elections as the ultimate expression of democracy in bourgeois society:

To state it in a single sentence, elections: are controlled by the bourgeoisie; are not the means through which basic decisions are made in any case; and are really for the primary purpose of legitimizing the system and the policies and actions of the ruling class, giving them the mantle of a “popular mandate,” and of channeling, confining, and controlling the political activity of the masses of people. (Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?, p. 68)

To illustrate this further—and to further highlight what is wrong with the notion of influencing competing elites in a way that will benefit the people—let’s turn to a similar argument that was made by Malcolm X. Much as I love Malcolm, it is necessary to point to the limitations of his view of and approach to this—which ultimately flow from the fact that he had not taken up the scientific, materialist and dialectical, viewpoint of communism (although his development was in motion and was cut short by his assassination). In a speech which, back in the day, I listened to over and over again, and which I still enjoy in many ways, “The Ballot or the Bullet,” Malcolm goes into a whole argument about how Black people shouldn’t be slavishly dependent upon and loyal to the Democrats. With his typical sharpness and biting wit, he speaks of how the Democrats and the Republicans are of the same type—they’re both canines, both of the same family as the dog: one is a wolf and the other is a fox—and they are both against you. But, in the end, what Malcolm proposes is a familiar device: He argues that Black people in particular shouldn’t just be a tail on the Democrats—who simply take Black people for granted and never do anything for them—but instead Black people should form a voting bloc and reward, or punish, those who do, or who don’t, act in ways that benefit Black people.

Malcolm talks about how, at the time Lyndon Johnson became president, after Kennedy’s assassination, Johnson flew back into Washington, D.C., and the first thing he did, when his plane landed, was to look around for his friend Richard Russell. As Malcolm tells it, Johnson “gets off the plane and what does he do? He says, ‘Where’s Dickie?’ Now, who’s Dickie? Why, he’s that old racist, southern segregationist, white supremacist Richard Russell. No, that man is just too tricky, ‘cause his best friend is still old Dickie.” [Laughter]

We shouldn’t trust those Democrats, Malcolm insists. And he goes on to talk about how some people argue that Johnson can handle the southern segregationists because he’s from Texas and he knows them. Well, says Malcolm, if that’s the argument, what about Eastland—a senator who was one of the most overt southern segregationists—he knows the southerners even better. Why don’t we have Eastland for president!

Yes, Malcolm is very sharp in punching holes in this idea of relying on the Democrats—and it’s great to listen to this, even now. But then, ultimately, what does he say? Well, he argues, if Black people form a bloc, then the Republicans will have to come to us, and the Democrats will have to come to us, and we’ll go with whichever one will do more for us.

But what are the actual dynamics when this has been attempted? The Democrats come to you, and you put a bunch of demands on them and you insist: “Now, if you don’t do this, and you don’t do that, and you don’t do the other thing in our interests, why we’ll...we’ll...” [Laughter] You’ll what? You’ll vote for the Republicans?! You see, it’s very true, you’ve got the wolf and the fox, and one of them pretends to be for you and the other one doesn’t even pretend to be for you, as Malcolm explained. But those are your choices, as long as you play by the rules of the game that they have set up. So, what leverage do you really have in this game? If the Democratic Party’s role is to talk, at least sometimes, in terms that make you think that maybe with enough pressure applied to them you can make them adopt some of the things that you believe are really important—and if you try to put pressure on them to actually do that by threatening to vote for the Republicans—well, then, either openly or behind closed doors they will laugh uproariously, because they know you can’t go and vote for the Republicans, who don’t even pretend to be for those things that are important to you.

So, even on those terms and on that level, you have no leverage against them. They have you—you don’t have them—as long as you are looking at things as being concentrated within and finding their only (or their best possible) expression within these, yes, very killing confines of bourgeois elections (and bourgeois politics overall). It is only by breaking out of those confines that you can actually begin to influence things in a significant way—by going up against the whole operation of this machinery, breaking free of it and challenging it in a meaningful way.

The following from Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? helps to provide a concentrated summation of crucial points that are at issue here:

Many will say: how can the political system in a democratic country like the U.S. “serve to maintain the rule of the bourgeoisie over the proletariat” when everyone has the right to choose the political leaders by participating in elections? The answer to this is that elections in such a society, and the “democratic process” as a whole, are a sham—and more than a sham—a cover for and indeed a vehicle through which domination over the exploited and oppressed is carried out by the exploiting, oppressing, ruling class. (Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?, p. 68)

In order to have a deeper and more solid foundation for a correct understanding of this question, and to recognize more fully how apologies for bourgeois democracy, like that of Robert A. Dahl, represent fundamental distortions of reality, it is crucial to turn once again to the question of outlook and method—to the decisive importance of dialectical materialism, and, on the other hand, the striking lack of materialism (and lack of dialectics grounded in materialism) in bourgeois-democratic views and analyses.

One of the most basic truths that dialectical materialism brings to light is that the political and ideological/cultural superstructure in any society—and this definitely includes the U.S.—corresponds, and fundamentally can only correspond, to the character of the economic base of that society—in other words, to the underlying social and, above all, production relations and to the class relations and the forms of exploitation and domination that are rooted in those production relations. In a capitalist society, such as the U.S., the capitalist class predominates in the ownership of the crucial means of production; at the same time, there is a large group of people—the working class, or proletariat—numbering in the millions and millions in the U.S. today, who own no means of production and therefore can live only by working for, and being exploited by, the capitalist class which monopolizes ownership of the means of production; while some others own a small amount of the means of production, and perhaps employ a few people, and so constitute a part of the middle class (or petite bourgeoisie).11 If the superstructure—and in particular the political processes, institutions, policies, and so on—come into any kind of serious conflict with the dynamics of the underlying capitalist economic base and its process of accumulation, then the whole functioning of society will be seriously disrupted and, unless you’re prepared to follow that through to its full conclusion—in other words, to the overthrow of the system—you’ll be forced to recoil from that and to adjust things (to adopt or accept policies) so that the superstructure is once again brought back into conformity with the fundamental nature and functioning of the underlying economic base and the whole process of capitalist accumulation (as it takes place and takes shape not only in the particular country, but today more than ever on an international scale).

Grasping this is crucial in order to understand how and why things happen in society (and the world) the way they do, including how and why politicians act the way they do.

Why, repeatedly, are even people who know better on some level seemingly unable to help themselves and, time after time, vote for politicians who promise one thing and do another, and never really act in the basic interests of the people? This calls to mind the “Charlie Brown with Lucy” experience in the “Peanuts” cartoon: the scene where Lucy is going to hold the football for Charlie Brown to kick it, and then at the last minute she pulls the ball away and he kicks wildly without making contact. He keeps falling for it—and she keeps doing it. Many, many people who have gotten involved in mainstream politics in one way or another have had this kind of experience—repeatedly. Remember, during the “traveling road show” of Democratic candidates before the last presidential election, in 2004, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton articulated some of what people wanted to hear, but Time magazine declared early on in the process that, although Sharpton often got the best popular response, he was not a serious candidate. Why was he not a serious candidate, especially if he was getting the best popular response? Well, Sharpton’s hardly a revolutionary, but even the things Sharpton said during that road show (however sincere he may or may not have been) were outside the pale of what the Democratic Party could actually seriously pursue, even in an election, let alone what it could actually do in running the government.

From the beginning, the conscious representatives of the ruling class were very well aware of all this. Sharpton, whatever his individual intentions, performed a function, objectively, of drawing people yet again into the bourgeois electoral framework, in particular people with a lot of progressive inclinations who were (and today still are) very dissatisfied—or even deeply distressed—with the whole direction of things. And Sharpton actually articulated and advocated the “competing elites” orientation. For example, while being interviewed on one of the main news channels, Sharpton explicitly argued that the role of the masses is to influence what the elites do. Nonetheless, he was “not a serious candidate,” nor was Kucinich, because what they were putting forward, as limited as it was in terms of any real change, had nothing to do with what the actual dynamics of the system were bringing forth and required.

So then you ended up with Kerry as the Democratic candidate, and we all know what that was about. It’s the same “Lucy and Charlie Brown” routine, over and over again. Maybe this time they’ll actually hold the football...No, this time they will do what they always do, leaving you feeling the blues again when, yet another time, they do what they do—and not what you are encouraged to imagine they will do. That’s what their role is—that is, it is in line with the actual functioning of the economic base to which these politicians, in an overall and ultimate sense, have to conform and which they have to serve. Through a lot of complexity and struggle, the politics and policies of the campaigns, and of running the government, get worked out among those who represent the capitalist ruling class and the capitalist system, the fundamental dynamics of which shape all this and set its basic terms and limits.12

In relation to all this, it is crucial to grasp that what characterizes the political system in this country—and in bourgeois democracies in general—is a monopoly of political power not by elites detached in some way from the underlying economic base, but a monopoly of political power by a group of people who, yes, occupy an elite position, but most essentially are an expression of definite relations of class domination and, fundamentally, definite exploitative production relations. The political representatives of the mainstream political parties (the Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S.) are in an ultimate and all-around sense the expression, in the political-ideological superstructure, of the underlying production relations of capitalism and the dynamics of capitalist accumulation, particularly as this takes shape and operates in this era of highly globalized capitalist imperialism. They are the expression, in the political sphere, of the monopoly of ownership of the means of production by the capitalist class—which, through that control over the economy, also exercises a monopoly of political power, expressed in an ultimate and concentrated way as the monopoly of “legitimate” armed force, the control of the established armed forces and police of the country, along with control of the courts, the bureaucracies and the institutions and processes of government as a whole.

This fundamental reality—that all this is rooted in the underlying production relations and the accumulation process of the capitalist-imperialist system—is the fundamental reason why the “political elites” are not free to act any way they will—any way they themselves might like to—and, in a basic and overall sense, cannot makes decisions based on “mass pressure” that is exerted on them. While, in the face of massive political opposition and resistance—especially as this is manifested outside, and in opposition to, the established political framework and processes—they may be forced, in the short run, to make certain concessions, they will then work to reverse this, in the short run or over time, and in any case they are not free to act in a way that runs contrary to the fundamental class interests they represent, and to the production relations in which those class interests are grounded.

All this, again, is why, to put it simply, they act the way they do—repeatedly. This is why they say one thing and do another. This is why they get you to vote for them and then “sell you out” every time. This is why, for many years, the Democrats have had “no spine,” in opposing what the Bush regime has been insisting on doing. What exists, and is expressed, in the political system is, above all and in essence, a monopoly of political power, not for “un-rooted elites” floating free in the air, but for a class. And when, or to the degree that, the “political elites” actually do “compete,” they do so most fundamentally on the terms of that class and of the system in which that class dominates, and in an effort to win the approval and support of that ruling class (or particular sections of it). It is that ruling class which fundamentally and ultimately—including through struggle within its own ranks—determines what the parameters and limits of “acceptable” politics will be, who the competing candidates will be and what policies they will actually carry out.

It is important to emphasize the aspect of struggle within the ranks of this ruling class because it is necessary to have a living, scientific—dialectical as well as materialist—and not a crude, dogmatic and mechanical understanding of this. As I pointed out in an article that appeared in the newspaper of our Party, Revolution, in 200513 there is not a single “committee of the ruling class” sitting in permanent session and deciding all these things. Particularly in a large and complex imperialist country like the U.S., operating on the principles of bourgeois-democratic rule, things are much more complex than that, and decisions are arrived at through much more complex processes. But, in fundamental terms, it is the interests of the ruling capitalist-imperialist class that determine the character, and the confines, of political decision-making, including the electoral process and the actual functions this serves. Once again, deeply grasping this is crucial in understanding why politicians act the way they do and, in opposition to that, what are the actual means to effect social and political change, even short of revolution—and, ultimately, to make revolution in order to qualitatively and radically change the whole character of society and have that kind of qualitative and radical impact on the world as a whole.

Capitalist Society, Bourgeois Democracy and Dictatorship

All this points to the essential fact that what we’re dealing with here is a dictatorship. There is a lot of popular misconception—and a lot of deliberately-propagated misconception—of what dictatorship is, and what it is not. Commonly and popularly—and through the influence of bourgeois political representatives and theoreticians, media mouthpieces, commentators and “pundits,” and the rest—dictatorship is understood to mean the rule of an all-powerful and essentially maniacal Leader (with a capital L), like a Hitler (or, as it’s generally put out these days, a Stalin or a Mao); or it is presented that a dictatorship is where a small group of people exercise power without allowing any rights to the masses of people, any free expression of ideas, any right to political dissent, and so on. And, conversely, it is said that what a dictatorship is not is any society where you have elections with competing candidates and parties and where people are allowed certain civil liberties and human rights (recall the arguments of Robert A. Dahl cited earlier). But in reality, and as a matter of scientific analysis: A dictatorship is a system of class rule, a monopoly of political power, expressed in a concentrated way through a monopoly of armed force to maintain and enforce that monopoly of political power—which is exercised to preserve and to serve the underlying economic system and its production relations, and the corresponding class and social relations.

That is the essence of what a dictatorship is. A dictatorship may—in the case of bourgeois democracy, for example—allow people to vote on which group within the ruling class will exercise the functions of this dictatorship over them. What a brilliant scheme!—you not only exercise dictatorship, but you involve those being dictated over in fostering and reinforcing the illusion that they are not being dictated over.

At times you will hear some people, including some progressive people, say: “I refuse to acknowledge that I’m being ruled over.” Well, refuse to acknowledge it or not, you are. And your refusing to acknowledge it is only doing harm to yourself and others in the same situation, because you can’t change reality if you have refused to accept what that reality is. As much as Huey Newton, especially in his early years in leading the Black Panther Party, contributed to the development of a revolutionary movement in the U.S. (and helped inspire people who were building that kind of movement in other countries as well), he was fundamentally wrong—and he gave expression to a misconception that, in one form or another, has a great deal of currency these days—when he said: “Power resides in the ability to define phenomena and cause them to act in a desired manner.” You don’t exercise power by having some abstract ability to define phenomena any way you would like and thereby cause those phenomena to act in a desired manner. You exert political influence and ultimately exercise political power by recognizing the essential reality that you are dealing with—what the existing political power is rooted in, reinforces and serves; what the contradictions are within that, and the possible pathways of transformation; and where your interests lie in relation to that—and by acting accordingly.

The fact is that, bourgeois democracy is a very effective form of dictatorship. You have to give the bourgeoisie credit: they’ve really hit upon and “perfected” something very clever in terms of perpetuating their rule and their interests. And it makes sense for the bourgeoisie to determinedly and stubbornly cling to this, as long as possible, because it involves exercising dictatorship while allowing, and encouraging, people to feel that they are exercising the power which in fact is being exercised over them.

But this is, nonetheless, a dictatorship, and whenever any group (or at times even an individual) acts in any significant way in opposition to the actual interests that are being dictated, then out comes the sharp edge of this dictatorship. The whole history of the U.S. is in reality a testament to this. In periods of acute social crisis and mass outpouring of opposition, this becomes more clear—it bursts through more of the outward appearance and camouflage. For example, in the great upsurges of the 1960s and into the early ‘70s in the U.S., many people came up against this dictatorship, and began to get at least a sense of it. I remember myself being in situations of virtual martial law, where you couldn’t congregate in groups of more than a few—the police would forcibly break up any attempt to do so—particularly if it seemed to have any oppositional political purpose; and you couldn’t do things like openly pass out oppositional political literature. Well, in those conditions it was much harder for people to argue that there is no dictatorship in this country.

And we saw what happened, for example, in the L.A. rebellion in 1992. When the masses of people rebelled, the government didn’t say: “Let’s have a vote to decide whether we think their rebellion is justified or not.” They sent out the National Guard and then they sent out the Army. Why? “To restore order.” From the standpoint of the functioning of this system, that was a logical thing to do—to mobilize brute military force, with the threat of massively using it, in order to suppress an uprising that threatened the interests of the ruling class and the “order” that this ruling class, and this system, requires. It did not matter to the ruling class—or it was not accepted by the ruling class—that this rebellion was righteous, that it was an expression of completely justified mass outrage at years and years of brutal oppression. And even many people who might have identified with, or at least been sympathetic toward, the feeling of outrage that led to the rebellion—which was set off by the Rodney King beating and more specifically the acquittal of the cops who were caught on videotape beating him—were confused and conflicted by the rebellion, because the question was posing itself quite acutely: where is this rebellion going to go? Many people, particularly white middle class people, felt like this: “There is chaos in the streets...Are they going to come over to my house and burn my house down or take my things?” Even some people who think of themselves as progressive got caught up in that—but what they got caught up in, fundamentally, was a logic that corresponded to the needs of the system. The bourgeois system—whose oppressive functioning was the fundamental cause of the rebellion in the first place—required the reimposition, by open and brutal force, of order. In other words, it required the aggressive assertion of dictatorship acting on behalf of, and reinforcing the class interests of, the bourgeois (capitalist) ruling class and the production and social relations of which that bourgeoisie, in turn, is ultimately and fundamentally itself an expression.

If you didn’t want to see order reimposed in that kind of way, then you would have to affirm that it is better to have chaos and disorder, at least for a time, than to have the forcible reimposition and reinforcement of injustice. It takes a radical standpoint, verging on a revolutionary one, to take that stand—and to take it thoroughly, and in a deep way. It takes a scientific understanding of the actual relations and dynamics that are involved, and how what exists, and what was then being aggressively asserted, is the actual exercise of dictatorship—even with certain democratic forms—in the interests of a definite class, which is itself the embodiment of definite social and, above all, production relations and the underlying dynamics of capitalist accumulation through those production relations.

At the same time as this dictatorship has a monopoly of political power—expressed in a concentrated way as a monopoly of armed power—it also has a monopoly in molding public opinion, so that the way people are inclined to act politically is in line with the interests of the class which exercises political power—dictatorship—over them.

Some of this came through in the movie “Bulworth.” In that movie the Warren Beatty character, Senator Bulworth, has kind of lost it, but in losing it he’s come closer to the truth—he’s lost his inhibitions. Well, he goes to a candidates’ debate, and you have the Jim Lehrer types there from the media who are going to ask the questions of the candidates. They start asking him questions, but Bulworth replies: Oh, man, this is really ridiculous—the same people who pay us are paying you to ask us the questions! [Laughter]

Well, this is, in somewhat populist terms, a basic reflection, if not a thoroughly scientific analysis, of what actually goes on. It is the “same people”—in the sense of the same class that’s exercising political power—who also monopolize and control the media and the means of molding public opinion in various ways—not just through the news media, but in an overall sense in the culture as well, including “popular entertainment” (although in the realm of culture some opposition does get expressed, this is hugely outweighed by the predominant “message” that comes through, in various forms, in the service of the ruling class).

In Morris Berman’s book Dark Ages America, there is an important section that speaks about the lies that were told by the Bush regime going into the Iraq war. In reading this, for my own reference I marked the word “lies” next to every place where Berman pinpoints these lies: it goes on for page after page. Berman also exposes the role of the mainstream media in propagating these lies and viciously attacking people who attempted to counter them. He asks, rhetorically:

What to think of NBC, which fired Phil Donahue (in addition to veteran war reporter Peter Arnett), the only TV network host opposed to the war? Or CNN, which attacked Scott Ritter, who had headed the U.N. weapons inspections from 1991 to 1998, as “an apologist for and defender of Saddam Hussein,” because he claimed that the case for Hussein being “a threat to the U.S. worthy of war” had yet to be made? (Kyra Phillips practically called him a traitor during their interview, and Paula Zahn told CNN viewers that he had “drunk Saddam Hussein’s Kool-Aid.”) (Morris Berman, Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire, W.W. Norton & Company, 2006, p. 221.)

Well, this is perfectly consistent with the essential role of these media. That role is to mold and shape public opinion in such a way that when people think and act politically, they are conditioned to think and act within the confines and in the interests of the capitalist-imperialist system.

To cite once again Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?:

the much-vaunted freedom of expression in the “democratic countries” is not in opposition to but is encompassed by and confined within the actual exercise of dictatorship by the bourgeoisie. This is for two basic reasons—because the ruling class has a monopoly on the means of molding public opinion and because its monopoly of armed force puts it in a position to suppress, as violently as necessary, any expression of ideas, as well as any action, that poses a serious challenge to the established order. What Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto is more true than ever in today’s conditions: “The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class.” (Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?, p. 71)

 


10. Bob Avakian, From Ike To Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, Insight Press, Chicago, 2005. [back]

11. Here it might be helpful to refer to the following, which speaks to the essential features of the economic base (the production relations), in general and specifically in capitalist society:

The production relations, in any economic system, consist, first of all, of the system of ownership of the means of production (land and raw materials, machinery and technology in general, and so on). Along with, and essentially corresponding to, this system of ownership, are the relations among people in the process of production (the “division of labor” in society overall) and the system of distribution of the wealth that is produced. To take the example of capitalist society: Ownership of the means of production is dominated by a small group, the capitalist class, while the majority of people own little or no means of production; the “division of labor” in society, the different roles that different groups of people play in the overall process of production, including the profound division between those who carry out intellectual work and those who carry out physical work (the mental/manual contradiction, for short), corresponds to these relations of ownership (and non-ownership) of the means of production; and the distribution of the wealth produced is also in correspondence with this, so that the wealth that is accumulated by capitalists is, in a basic sense, in accordance with the capital they have (the means of production they own or control) and their role as exploiters of the labor power (the ability to work) of others, who own no means of production; while those who are not big capitalists but may own a limited amount of means of production, and/or have accumulated more knowledge and skills, receive a share of the wealth in accordance with that; and those on the bottom of society find their small share in the distribution of social wealth to be determined by the fact that they own no means of production, and have not been able to acquire much beyond basic knowledge and skills. It should not be surprising that these—highly unequal—relations and divisions in society continue to be reproduced, and even tend to be accentuated, through the ongoing functioning of the capitalist system, the ongoing process of capitalist accumulation and the social relations, the politics, and the ideology and culture which are in essential correspondence with and which enforce, and reinforce, the basic nature and functioning of this system. And especially in today’s world, this functioning of the capitalist system takes place not only within particular capitalist countries but above all on a world scale. (Bob Avakian, AWAY WITH ALL GODS! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World, Insight Press, Chicago, 2008, footnote, p. 163. [back]

12. Although the talk from which this text is drawn, was given in 2006, and therefore it does not speak to the current (2008) presidential campaign/election, the basic principles and analyses discussed here apply to bourgeois elections and politics in general, and the “Obama phenomenon” in this (2008) election is a graphic, and highly concentrated, illustration and confirmation of these principles and analyses. [back]

13. See “There is No ‘They’—But There is a Definite Direction to Things—The Dynamics Within the Ruling Class, and the Challenges for Revolutionaries,” in Revolution, #007, June 26, 2005; see also Bob Avakian, The Coming Civil War and Repolarization for Revolution in the Present Era, RCP Publications, Chicago, 2005, also available at revcom.us. [back]

Order Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy from RCP Publications here

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Fast Tracking Fascism: Trump/Pence Regime and Supreme Court Escalate Assaults on Legal Immigrants

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You know you are risking arrest and deportation by applying for food stamps to help get through a difficult time after losing a job—but it’s a risk you take so that maybe your kids can have something for dinner...

You know that taking a severely ill but uninsured loved one to an emergency room could land you both in the custody of ICE and get you deported—but if you don’t, all you have is hope that somehow her illness ends and she survives...

These are the kinds of choices that countless people—legal immigrants—will likely confront because of harsh new rules imposed by the Trump/Pence regime, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biggest Attack on Legal Immigration in a Century

In September 2018 the Trump/Pence regime announced new rules that would mean many more immigrants with permanent legal status (green cards) or applying for such status could lose their status and be subject to deportation or have their applications denied if they use public benefits—or are even labeled by officials as potential users of such benefits. The benefits include food stamps and Section 8 housing vouchers. As the New York Times reported, “The move could force millions of poor immigrants who rely on public assistance for food and shelter to make a difficult choice between accepting financial help and seeking a green card to live and work legally in the United States.” (September 22, 2018)

Even before it becomes official, this heartless measure is wreaking havoc and instilling fear in the lives of countless people, including immigrants who have “played by the rules”—who entered the country legally and maintained their legal status. Last October, the website City Limits reported that in New York City, “for non-citizen seniors, that reluctance [to use available benefits] has grown in the past year, a result of alarm from the changes to federal tests to admissibility that will go into effect ... if pending lawsuits do not upend them.” In Texas, there was a drop of 170,000 children on Medicaid between December 2017 and November 2019, and the number of Texas children enrolled in CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) fell by 64,000.

Lawsuits seeking to prevent this measure from being enacted were filed by various states and immigrants’ rights organizations. In October 2019 a federal judge in New York issued a nationwide injunction blocking the implementation of Trump’s order until legal disputes over the measure had worked their way through the courts. But on January 27 (Holocaust Memorial Day), as Trump’s impeachment trial was underway in the Senate, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that the injunction be lifted. Journalist Sophia Tesfaye wrote in Salon that this “represent[s] the strongest effort to restrict legal immigration into the U.S. in more than a century.” (January 28, 2020)

“Wealth Test”

Since 1882, federal immigration law has allowed the denial of admission into the country of people who the government determined were going to be a “public charge”—reliant on government cash funding as their main source of support, or in need of long-term supervision in a medical institution or prison. This was generally used against a relatively small number of people who had severe physical or mental disabilities. Fewer than one percent of applicants were denied admission because of the public charge clause.

That number grew in the 1930s, during the Democratic administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, when U.S. officials used the “public charge” clause to deny entry to about 300,000 German Jews trying to flee Nazi persecution. Now, with Trump’s order OK’d by the Supreme Court even while it is still being contested in courts, the fascists in power in the executive and judicial branches of the U.S. government have dramatically expanded their legal definition of public charge.

From now on, immigration authorities will impose a “forward-looking” test, and determine if they think applicants are “more likely than not” to require assistance from government nutritional, housing, and health care programs at some point in their lives. This assessment is based on a “totality of circumstances” and has specific standards that include income, education, and English language proficiency. It significantly expands the programs that will exclude people from receiving or attaining legal status to include health care, nutritional, and housing support, not just direct cash assistance. As many are pointing out, this is basically a “wealth test” on immigrants.

These changes will hit millions of people, with lasting and catastrophic effect. The Migration Policy Institute wrote last August that the new rule “could cause a significant share of the nearly 23 million noncitizens and U.S. citizens in immigrant families using public benefits to disenroll.... These chilling effects may be broadened with the expected release of a new proposed regulation expected to expand the grounds for deporting legally present noncitizens.” Another report, from the Center for American Progress, notes that each year, the new test “would apply to roughly 912,500 people seeking green cards; 10 million people seeking nonimmigrant visas from U.S. State Department (DOS) officials; and roughly 500,000 nonimmigrants seeking extensions of stay or changes of nonimmigrant status from U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials.” (November 27, 2018)

Heartless attacks on legal immigrants are part and parcel of the comprehensive fascization of immigration policy: restrictions on visa applications, refugee and asylum admissions, and Temporary Protected Status; a border lined with concentration camps; targeting Muslims and Latin Americans with vicious repression; locking children in dog cages, and more. Robert McCaw, the government affairs director of the Council on American-Islamic Affairs, put the significance of the Trump/Pence regime’s “public charge” rule bluntly and accurately: “The Trump administration’s policy could quite literally kill people by making them too afraid to seek life-saving medical care, and the Supreme Court seems to agree such a cruel system is acceptable.”

The Supreme Court—Accelerating the Consolidation of Fascism

From the time it took power, a primary goal of the fascist regime Trump heads has been to overturn long-standing laws regarding legal immigration. Now, after almost three years and hundreds of pages of legal documents devoted to tearing apart existing regulations and putting in place new, highly punitive ones, they have their plan.

Injunctions by federal appeals courts have been a thorn in the regime’s side as it has carried all this out. Repeatedly, courts have issued injunctions that have had a nationwide impact in delaying—although not stopping—some of the anti-immigrant measures of the regime.

The fascists who dominate the Supreme Court want to put an end to this. A majority on the Supreme Court upheld Trump’s latest attack on legal immigration. And while an appeal to the new measure still makes its way through the court system, the Supreme Court’s vote indicates it will almost certainly be upheld.

But for Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, that wasn’t enough—they want to end altogether the filing of injunctions to stop implementation of federal regulations. And a concurring opinion they filed with the January 27 ruling indicates that the Supreme Court could soon do just that. Gorsuch wrote, “It has become increasingly apparent that this court must, at some point, confront these important objections to this increasingly widespread practice.... I hope ... that we might at an appropriate juncture take up some of the underlying equitable and constitutional questions raised by the rise of nationwide injunctions.” (New York Times, January 27, 2020) In other words, stop the injunctions that delay implementation of the fascist measures, and get down to the business of carrying them out.

If they succeed in doing this, it would remove a speed bump to the full-on consolidation and legitimization of fascism the Trump/Pence regime is pushing towards. It would further centralize uncontested power in the hands of a fascist executive, approved by a court stacked with fascists. It would be extremely damaging to the interests of the people.

A System of Endless Horrors

Step back for a minute. The U.S. system of capitalism-imperialism has literally impoverished and devastated the lives of billions of people across this planet. In Nigeria, where oil production has poisoned the air, earth, and sea and people routinely are killed in explosions and fires of oil pipelines; in Mexico, where millions of peasants have been driven from their farms while highly profitable production of non-essential items turn out goods exported to the U.S. for use in things like avocado toast; in Southeast Asia, where millions died in criminal wars of U.S. imperialist aggression, the bodies of children are still torn apart by bomblets buried beneath the ground’s surface, and earth poisoned from Agent Orange and napalm remains unsuitable for agriculture.

And now the rulers of this system are out to further punish people who have been forced to leave their homes and manage to make it to the U.S.—because they haven’t accumulated enough wealth? No one should accept or tolerate this injustice!

Humanity needs a revolution that overthrows this system of capitalism-imperialism. And right now, as fascism rapidly consolidates in this country, humanity more than ever needs a movement of sustained nonviolent resistance to drive the Trump/Pence regime from power.

The demonization, criminalization and deportations of immigrants, by Bob Avakian, an excerpt

See the full film, excerpts and Q&A of this film here

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/632/revolution-reprint-bastion-of-enlightenment-or-enforcer-of-imperialism-en.html

In the Wake of Trump’s Middle East “Peace Plan”

Revolution Reprint:
Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer of Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL

| revcom.us

 

Editors’ note:

On January 18, Trump announced what he called a Middle East peace plan. This plan gives the right-wing government in Israel everything it has asked for. It legalizes Israel’s seizure of the most fertile Palestinian land. It legalizes Israel’s seizure of what had been the most important Palestinian city, Jerusalem. It says that if there is to be a Palestinian state in the future, it will be on different bits of terrible land separated from each other, and that this so-called state will not be allowed to have an army.

This plan does represent a major escalation in the oppression of the Palestinian people. Both parts of that phrase are important. It is an escalation of what has been the state of things for 75 years, since Israel was founded on the dispossession of Palestinians’ land. But it is also major, a new phase of this.

The following piece originally ran as a special issue of Revolution newspaper: “Bastion of Enlightenment... or Enforcer for Imperialism: The Case of ISRAEL” goes deeply into the roots of what has now come to fruition in Trump’s plan. In the face of this, we encourage our readers to find ways to connect the movement for an actual revolution with actions to protest Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, and to study, share, and inject this special issue into the discussion that should rage around this.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/632/two-opposed-responses-to-the-holocaust-and-never-again-en.html

Two Diametrically Opposed Responses to the Holocaust and "Never Again"

| revcom.us

 

The persecution of the Jews by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany in the years 1933-1945 resulted in the murder of six million Jewish people, along with other ethnic and sexual minorities. This is the Holocaust.

There have been two basic approaches to the lessons of the Holocaust, as Bob Avakian pointed out in his dialogue with Cornel West (“Bob Avakian on Revenge vs. the Emancipation of ALL Humanity”). Both use the phrase “never again.” One way is to say “never again will my people be victimized, and anything we do to anyone else to prevent that is justified.” This has been used by the state of Israel and its backers to justify the decades of genocidal terror and murder and cruel dispossession against millions of oppressed Palestinians.

Then there are those who said, “never again should such horrors happen to anyone—never again should crimes against humanity be allowed to go on while people plead ignorance or impotence as an excuse to do nothing to stop those crimes.” Among those expressing this most compellingly have been Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors of the Holocaust, speaking out in opposition to the crimes of the state of Israel. The following are some of those voices:

A Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, living in Israel, who went on a hunger strike to protest Israel’s 1982 bombing of Beirut, Lebanon1:

In my childhood I have suffered fear, hunger and humiliation when I passed from the Warsaw Ghetto, through labor camps, to Buchenwald [a Nazi concentration camp]. Today, as a citizen of Israel, I cannot accept the systematic destruction of cities, towns, and refugee camps. I cannot accept the technocratic cruelty of the bombing, destroying and killing of human beings.... Too many things in Israel remind me of too many things from my childhood.

From an article by a Canadian author who lived through the Nazi genocide as a child in Hungary2:

[W]hat shall we do, we ordinary people? I pray we can listen to our hearts. My heart tells me that “never again” is not a tribal slogan, that the murder of my grandparents in Auschwitz does not justify the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians, that justice, truth, peace are not tribal prerogatives.

From a 2014 statement by 327 survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide, against massacre of Palestinians in Gaza3:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world....

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!

 


1. Dr. Shlomo Shmelzman, cited in Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians by Noam Chomsky, 1999, South End Press.  [back]

2. “Beautiful dream of Israel has become a nightmare,” Gabor Maté, Toronto Star, July 22, 2014.  [back]

3. See “Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.”  [back]

 

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/632/the-art-and-the-story-of-slave-rebellion-reenactment-en.html

The Art, and the Story, of Slave Rebellion Reenactment

Artist Dread Scott, hosted by Andy Zee, at Revolution Books

| revcom.us

 

The crowd lined up outside Revolution Books in Harlem last Friday with artist Dread Scott talking about his new artwork, Slave Rebellion Reenactment, a reenactment of the largest slave rebellion in U.S. history. Over 100 people from Harlem and from around the city: high school and college students, artists and writers, those horrifically oppressed by this system and society, long-time and new friends of Revolution Books. It was a special fundraising benefit for Revolution Books.

Dread Scott describes himself as a revolutionary artist creating “art to propel history forward.” This came alive in Dread’s talk, with slides and video. Dread began by recounting his first major artwork, What Is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?, and the controversy and polarization it stirred, with other works like Imagine a World Without America, inspired by a quote from Bob Avakian (BAsics 1:31)—then mainly focusing on and going onto Slave Rebellion Reenactment, reaching back to the history of this country and what we have to do, inspired by the past. This is work that “makes people uncomfortable, and that's a really good thing.” This was the highlight of the evening, and it was incredible and inspiring.

The benefit evening with Dread and Andy was an expression of why Revolution Books is so special and so needed. And this is an important juncture in the campaign to Save Revolution Books: A Beacon in Dangerous Times. Revolution Books is setting out to raise $50,000, and this event raised significant funds towards this end. Dread Scott has contributed significant artwork as part of this initiative. Andy Zee, through his engagement with Dread Scott, and his fundraising pitch, brought alive the content, ethos, and spirit of Bob Avakian’s new communism, a whole new framework for human emancipation which is at the center of Revolution Books—and why this matters, why this bookstore is so urgently needed at this moment in history.

Dread Scott (right), in his new artwork Slave Rebellion Reenactment, which involved the participation of hundreds of people.

Watch the entire program

 

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/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/618/bob-avakian-excerpts-en.html

Excerpts from:

Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis

Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism

by Bob Avakian

Updated | revcom.us

 

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

 

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

Posted December 9, 2019:

The following from Part 2 of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution* remains extremely relevant and important:

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

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

 

Posted December 1, 2019:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In fundamental terms, we have two choices: either, live with all this—and condemn future generations to the same, or worse, if they have a future at all—or, make revolution!

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

 

 

Posted November 11, 2019:

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

 

 

Virulent Individualism and Oblivious Individualism

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

If something makes people uncomfortable—and still more, if it holds out the prospect of sacrifice, necessary sacrifice, on their part—far too many people turn away from it.  As I’ve pointed out before, there’s this whole attitude of approaching reality as if it’s a “buffet,” or approaching it like a consumer: “Well, that makes me uncomfortable. I’ll just leave that to the side. I don’t want to look at that because that makes me uncomfortable.”

 

 

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

 

 

One of the most common and problematical forms of this repeated and stubborn insistence on chasing after the illusion of “painless progress,” particularly among people who consider themselves somewhat enlightened (or progressive, or “woke,” or however they want to put it), is what we very rightly term BEB—Bourgeois Electoral Bullshit—and the phenomenon that people continually confine themselves to the narrow limits of what is presented to them by one section of the ruling class, as embodied in the Democratic Party:  “These are the limits of what I’ll consider in terms of possibly bringing about change”—because this is the well-worn rut of what is, at least up to this point, relatively safe in terms of political engagement.

 

 

The people who voted for Trump are the kind of people who would have been pro-slavery, had they been around at the time of slavery in the United States. And those who find it acceptable to have the overt white supremacist Trump in the White House are the kind of people who would have ignored or would have openly accepted and justified or rationalized slavery when it existed.

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

Posted November 4, 2019:

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

Posted October 21, 2019:

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

1) People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this.

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

And, as gone into more fully in BAsics:

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

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

 

 

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

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

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

| revcom.us

 

Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, by Bob Avakian

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Fascists and Communists:
Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart

By Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

Fascists stand for and are determined to intensify, to grotesque and hideous dimensions, every dimension of oppression and exploitation and all the horrors perpetrated by the system of capitalism-imperialism. Communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, are determined to put an end to all these horrors, and potentially even worse horrors, through the overthrow of the system of capitalism-imperialism and the abolition of all relations of exploitation and oppression, throughout the world.

Look at the 5 STOPS—fascists and communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, are on diametrically opposed sides of these crucial dividing lines: The fascists are determined to fortify and extend to even more monstrous proportions, and with potentially catastrophic consequences for humanity, all the horrors embodied in those 5 STOPS, while the communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, stand for and fight for precisely a STOP to all this.

Fascists base themselves on and actively promote blind adherence to hateful prejudice, willful ignorance and aggressive paranoia, in opposition to rational thinking and discourse, science and the scientific method. Communists, and in particular the advocates of the new communism, base themselves on and seek to apply the most consistent scientific method, including the importance of learning from and critically assimilating the insights, criticisms, etc. of others who disagree with or even ardently oppose them.

As pointed out in Communism and Jeffersonian Democracy, it is not that people calling themselves communists have never acted in opposition to the basic principles of communism, and it is not that there have been no shortcomings and errors, even some grievous errors, in the history of the communist movement and socialist society; but a scientific approach and analysis shows that this has not been the main trend and character of the communist movement and socialist society led by communists; and the notion of communism as representing a “totalitarian nightmare” is fundamentally in conflict with reality and is on the contrary the invention and distortion of functionaries, enforcers and intellectual camp followers of the exploitative and oppressive system of capitalism and imperialism, which the communist revolution aims to overthrow and advance human society beyond, through the abolition of all exploitation and oppression. (If anyone is sincerely interested in actually understanding what is represented by the “theory” of “totalitarianism,” and in particular the use of this “theory” to distort and slander what is represented by communism, in Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That? they can find a systematic discussion, dissection and refutation of the basic thesis and methods in The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, whose work is the most celebrated embodiment of this “theory” of “totalitarianism” and its use to distort and slander what is represented by communism.)

And, once again, there is the further, qualitative development of communism with the new communism which I have brought forward—which involves a scientific analysis and synthesis of the historical experience, positive and negative, of the communist movement and the first great wave of communist-led revolution and socialist society, and the significance of which is highlighted and concentrated in particular in the first of the Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.

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

Bob Avakian–A True Scientific Visionary

| revcom.us

 

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

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

The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past

by the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico

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Question:     One thing I wanted to zero in on a little bit on this point about what struck you in particular about BA—and I think you’ve definitely talked about some of that, but just to go a bit more at this point about BA’s scientific method and leadership, which was in evidence during the Dialogue—I guess a way to put it is: For anyone who wants a fundamentally different world, or even people who are beginning to question why the world is the way it is and if it could be different, what lessons should people be drawing from the scientific method that BA was applying during the Dialogue and, obviously related to that, his leadership as it got expressed in that Dialogue?

AS:     Well, if we’re going to talk some more about scientific methods and leadership—using scientific methods and how BA actually concentrates that kind of scientific approach—we should be talking about truth and what truth is. Because I felt that this was modeled during the Dialogue. I believe BA quoted Malcolm X—and it’s a quote I’ve always loved—I’m paraphrasing a little bit but at one point Malcolm X said something like, I didn’t come here to tell you what you want to hear, I came here to tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not. I think that’s pretty close to the exact quote. I love that quote, and I love the fact that BA embodies that same kind of approach and attitude. It’s a very core part of his method. It makes his life more difficult, I’m quite sure, because it’s always easier to pander to popular, fashionable views: what do people say, what do most people think, what do most people like or not like. A true visionary...I believe that Bob Avakian really is a true scientific visionary when it comes to the question of the transformation of human society, I think he’s bringing in a lot that’s new, he is building on the communist science and the development of communism through previous periods, but he’s taking it a lot further and he’s got some really important conceptions and methods that are putting the whole science of communism on a more sound foundation and a much more inspiring and hopeful foundation than at any time in the past. So I think there’s a lot in his work to dig into.

And at the Dialogue, I felt that one of the things that came through is his commitment to truth. That might seem obvious in a leader—that, of course, you should be telling the truth—but it’s not just that there are corrupt leaders who lie to people and manipulate the truth. Sure, we all know about that. But there are a lot of people, even well-intentioned people, who don’t actually understand what the truth is in a scientific way. [laughs] There are actually people who function as if the truth is what most people think, or most people say. Well, if you stop to think about it for a minute, of course that’s ridiculous, and Bob Avakian gave examples of that in the Dialogue, including in relation to religion. For instance, I remember the example he gave of epilepsy—that in times past and under the influence of old religions from thousands of years ago, when people didn’t understand a lot of stuff, most people would have thought that epilepsy was caused by being possessed by the devil, and it’s only in fairly recent modern history that people have understood that it’s a disease and that it can be treated, and that it has nothing to do with devil possession or things like that.

But the point is that one of the things that BA consistently models, which is a hallmark of a good scientist, is being willing to go where the evidence takes you, and not looking at things superficially, but systematically and methodically digging into historical experience, and from many different directions—the historical experience of political forces, of revolutionary movements, of communist parties and movements, of the international situation—examining all that accumulated experience, and also drawing on other spheres, not just politics but also art and science and culture, all the many facets of human experience throughout history, in order to draw out the key patterns and the key directions of things and the key contradictions which come to characterize a phenomenon, or a particular phase of history, or a particular form of social organization. And then critically evaluating it, and figuring out on what basis it could be changed if it doesn’t meet the needs of the people.

One of the things I’m struck by, as someone who was trained in the natural sciences, is how unscientific most people are! Even very, very educated people, people with Ph.D.s in different spheres or whatever, are generally incredibly unscientific. They just have knee-jerk reactions to things. Very often, very educated people come across, frankly, like blithering idiots when they try to analyze phenomena in society, and that’s usually because they are basing themselves not on science but on populism, on what is the general consensus. I don’t really care what most people think, if it’s not right. You have to show me the evidence of why something is true. And if one person is putting forward something that is true (that corresponds to actual reality) and yet nobody else agrees with them, that doesn’t make it not true! Show me the evidence. And, conversely, if great numbers of people believe something to be true—“everybody knows this” or “everybody knows that,” there’s a general consensus—I have to say that, as a scientist, I don’t find that particularly convincing! You are really going to have to show me the evidence.

You can’t just tell me the numbers, you can’t play the numbers game, you can’t tell me that something is true just because a lot of people believe it.

One of the things that really captures this from BA, and that can be found in the book BAsics, is the statement that I believe is a real concentrated expression of a scientific method on the question of exactly what we’re talking about here: What people think is part of objective reality, but objective reality is not determined by what people think. That’s worth pondering and reflecting on. That’s the difference between subjective reactions to things and a real scientific method. Because what people think is important. It’s either right or wrong, it should either be encouraged or discouraged, it should either be reinforced or transformed. But in any case it’s part of objective reality and, so, of course, it’s important. But objective reality is not determined by what people think, no matter how many people think it or how few people think it. You have to dig deeper, you have to dig and uncover those underlying features and patterns. And that’s one of the things that is a hallmark of BA’s work and of the new synthesis that he’s brought forward. And it is in sharp contrast to what has too often prevailed in a lot of the political movements—even revolutionary movements, even communist movements—in past periods and even through today. It is shameful the degree to which there is not rigorous scientific pursuit of the truth among many people and many organizations. And it’s a problem in the international movement, among international forces today. There is often an unwillingness to critically evaluate the past.

One of the things that BA has argued for a lot is that we have to be willing to confront the truths that make us cringe. If you’re serious about trying to transform the world in a good direction, you have to be willing to examine past experience in a rigorous scientific manner. There are two parts to that: You have to dig deeply to understand what is correct in what was done before, in what was previously understood and what was previously accomplished; but then you also have to be willing to recognize where things went off track, or where there were shortcomings or mistakes made. That’s how we learn, historically, that’s how human beings accumulate knowledge, but it’s also absolutely necessary for transforming things in the right direction.

And, you know, there are a lot of wrong tendencies epistemologically. Epistemology is the science of how you think about thinking, how you accumulate knowledge. That’s what that is. And the question is, how do you know something is true? You should not be trying to determine what’s true just on the basis of how many people believe it or don’t believe it. You should also not be trying to say that the truth resides in superficial phenomena, like in an immediate narrow slice of experience or practice. You should not fall into pragmatism. Pragmatism is the view that if something works now, then it must be true. I was reading a good example about that in a very interesting piece that I would recommend people study. It can be found through the revcom.us website—it’s in the online theoretical journal Demarcations, which can be accessed through the revcom.us website. In this piece, there is an important appreciation of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis put out by the OCR, the revolutionary communists in Mexico, entitled “The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past” by the Revolutionary Communist Organization (OCR), Mexico. It’s about some of the line differences in the international communist movement, and it’s an appreciation of Bob Avakian’s new synthesis in relation to that. And there’s a whole discussion of pragmatism in there, and how many people think that truth is whatever is kind of “convenient” for accomplishing certain objectives in a very narrow and immediate sense. The article gives the example of the thalidomide drug which was developed some time back to treat morning sickness and was touted as an advance in science. Well, it “worked” for that purpose and it got heralded, but it turned out that it hadn’t been sufficiently, deeply analyzed in an all-sided way, and it also led to children being born with tremendous birth defects. The deeper truth turned out to be how harmful it was, not that it “worked.” Well, that’s an analogy for the same kind of mistakes that can be made in the political sphere.

And Bob Avakian insists that everybody should act like critical thinkers, and really that everybody should contribute to the process of actually analyzing what is true and what is false in various kinds of phenomena. It doesn’t matter who you are, how much experience you have—you can be in the Party as a Party leader, or you can be in the Party as a new person and relatively inexperienced, or you can be outside the Party, you could be a critic of communism or you could be an adherent of communism—it doesn’t matter who you are. If you have principled methods, and you are willing to actually try to get to the truth of things, your contributions would be welcomed in terms of trying to advance knowledge and understanding. Now, you also should be willing to be subject to criticism yourself, from others who might punch holes in your theories or analyses. That’s what good scientists do. As a natural scientist, I had many good experiences that way, where I or other scientists would put forward some analyses of some things in nature and propose some experiments that could be conducted to uncover some of the deeper reality, and then you got your colleagues and friends together and they would spend the next hour or so trying to punch holes in your theories and questioning your underlying assumptions! That can be a very healthy and productive process (and fun too!), as long as it’s done in the right spirit (free of snark and ego) and with the right method.

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/600/crucial-importance-of-the-new-communism-and-ba-en.html

The Crucial Importance of the New Communism and BA's Leadership

| revcom.us

 

The following is a summation of some group study and discussion of the new communism and the leadership of Bob Avakian (BA).

First of all, I want to say that it has been truly great, deeply meaningful, critically important—and a lot of fun!—digging into the work, leadership and method of BA together. I have been thinking recently about some key themes and lessons that occur to me regarding our study and discussions and their purpose and importance. There is obviously so much that I could highlight—in terms of the key points we have gotten into in these sessions and the significance of these sessions—and trying to cover it all would be well beyond the scope of what I have written here (which ended up being longer than I envisioned when I started). However, I wanted to frame our work together with two overall themes.

The first of these themes is drawn from the beginning of a quote from BA: “Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.” (from BAsics 3:1)

The second theme is the critical role of revolutionary theory.

Let me briefly get further into each of these themes—in general, as it relates to the role and importance of BA and his leadership in the world, and also as it relates to our study and discussions.

Given how much there is to say on each of these two themes, I can only really scratch the surface here. But let’s start with the first one:

“Let’s get down to basics: We need a revolution. Anything else, in the final analysis, is bullshit.”

The understanding captured in this quote not only speaks to the state of the world and of humanity—and to what is urgently needed in light of this—but also, relatedly, illuminates WHY we have been engaging in this study and discussion together and WHY this is so important.

We have often talked—and very correctly so, to be clear—about having “cool” discussions. But it’s important to understand that this is NOT fundamentally about having “cool,” “interesting,” “fun” or “mentally stimulating” discussions, even though these discussions definitely ARE all of these things!

Rather, our work together has a specific purpose: to deepen our understanding of the world not just for the sake of knowledge in some academic sense, but in order to radically CHANGE the world. And, more specifically, to deepen our understanding and application of the science of revolution and communism, as this science has been qualitatively advanced in groundbreaking ways through the new communism brought forward by BA—deepening our grasp and application of this science as a key part of contributing to the process of making revolution on the basis of this new communism.

Just look at the world! We have talked about the “5 STOPS,” which speak to five key, defining contradictions of this capitalist-imperialist system. These 5 STOPS are: “STOP Genocidal Persecution, Mass Incarceration, Police Brutality and Murder of Black and Brown People!”... “STOP the Patriarchal Degradation, Dehumanization, and Subjugation of All Women Everywhere, and All Oppression Based on Gender or Sexual Orientation!... Stop Wars of Empire, Armies of Occupation, and Crimes Against Humanity!... Stop the Demonization, Criminalization and Deportations of Immigrants and the Militarization of the Border!... Stop Capitalism-Imperialism from Destroying Our Planet!”

A quick glance at the news from the past few weeks alone will reveal that the contradictions spoken to in these 5 STOPS—and the staggering level of suffering and misery caused by these contradictions—are only intensifying.

This is on top of the countless other forms of tremendous poverty, deprivation, misery, exploitation, oppression and suffering spawned by this system and heaped upon literally billions of human beings and humanity as a whole every single day that this capitalist-imperialist system continues.

A key point to understand, which BA’s work illuminates so sharply and powerfully, is that NONE of these outrages are accidental, isolated or disconnected from each other. They have a common source—this SYSTEM of capitalism-imperialism. These outrages and horrors for humanity are woven into this system’s rules, its operation, its “DNA,” its roots, its historical and ongoing functioning. For this reason, the system CANNOT be reformed—it must be overthrown through revolution.

This point about the NEED for an actual revolution—as opposed to attempts to “fix” or “heal” or “reform” a system that in fact CANNOT be fixed, healed or reformed—in order to put an end to the countless ways that humanity suffers needlessly is, I believe, one vital takeaway from our study and discussions of BA’s work; it is one critical point on which our collective understanding should be significantly deepened.

Another one of these vital points that I think has been a theme of our study and discussions—especially recently, as we have watched the most recent film from BA (Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution) and listened to the Q & A from this film—is what an actual revolution IS, what it involves and what it requires.

An actual revolution does NOT just mean “a big change”—in one form or another—which is how many people think of it or try to define it. Rather, an actual revolution means overthrowing the capitalist-imperialist system, meeting and defeating its repressive force, dismantling its institutions and setting up a new, socialist system and state power and society—and, accordingly, new institutions—on the road to communism. Right now is NOT the time for an actual revolution, because the necessary conditions for this revolution do not yet exist. But right now IS the time to be working for, hastening (i.e., working to accelerate the emergence of) and preparing for an actual revolution.

This point leads us to the question of what we ALREADY do have, and what we DON’T yet have and therefore need to urgently work on bringing into being, in terms of the necessary factors and conditions for revolution.

In terms of what we DO have: By far the biggest positive factor we have is BA. Through decades of work, BA has forged the new communism, which is the framework—and, most fundamentally, the scientific understanding and method—that humanity needs to make revolution and continue that revolution all the way to communism. Think about this: Just as the first round of communist revolutions would never have happened without the initial scientific breakthroughs and framework forged by Marx, so the next round of communist revolutions will not happen without millions of people taking up the further scientific breakthroughs and framework forged by BA.

The framework of the new communism includes: a comprehensive and further developed scientific understanding of the nature of the problem, that is, the nature of capitalism-imperialism, how it specifically operates, historically and in the world today, why and how it is responsible for the many different forms of suffering that humanity faces and why this system cannot be reformed and must be swept away through revolution; a viable strategy for revolution—for working now to hasten while awaiting a revolutionary situation and then winning in that future situation; and a concrete, vivid and thoroughly developed vision and “blueprint” for a radically different socialist society on the road to communism, as put forward in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by BA.

Most fundamentally and importantly—and this is a thread running through and underlying the understanding, strategy and vision—is the scientific METHOD of the new communism.

The new communism forged by BA builds upon—but also goes far beyond, and in some key ways breaks with—the past experience in theory and practice of the communist movement.

Speaking in depth to the totality and specific dimensions of the new communism is also beyond the scope of what I am writing here, but to quickly highlight some key points of this.

In terms of the totality of what is represented by the new communism, I want to quote the first of the Six Resolutions of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA, which we have previously discussed. This first resolution makes the point that the new communism

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

This point is important enough that I think it bears repeating in order to help facilitate ongoing further reflection: The new communism “represents and embodies a qualitative resolution of a critical contradiction that has existed within communism in its development up to this point, between its fundamentally scientific method and approach, and aspects of communism which have run counter to this.

While—as this quote from the first resolution points out—communism’s method and approach has been FUNDAMENTALLY scientific, there have been important ways in which past socialist societies along with the communist movement, past and present, have taken up unscientific and even ANTI-scientific ways of thinking, methods and approaches to understanding and transforming reality, with very harmful effects.

The new communism brought forward by BA qualitatively resolves this contradiction, putting communism on a more firmly scientific footing and therefore carving out the method and framework that makes it possible—not inevitable, but possible—to confront and transform the many contradictions involved in making revolution and continuing that revolution all the way to communism.

Needless to say, this is a big deal in terms of the possibilities this new communism opens up for humanity!

While, once again, it is not possible to review in depth the various specific dimensions of the new communism, I want to highlight here three examples of this.

*First, the new communism breaks new ground—and breaks with unscientific approaches within the communist movement—in terms of its approach to the TRUTH, the process by which the truth should be pursued, understood and arrived at, and the importance of going for the truth not just in a general sense but specifically in terms of the goal of getting to communism.

The new communism’s approach to this breaks with the unscientific and harmful ideas—which have far too often and to far too great a degree infected the past and present of the communist movement at different points—that a particular section of society, such as communists, or the most oppressed and exploited, have a monopoly on truth; the idea that whether or not a statement is true should be evaluated based on the class (or social) position of the person making the statement; the idea that different classes have their own versions of the truth, i.e., that the proletariat has its truth and the bourgeoisie has its truth; the notion of “populist epistemology”—that whether or not something is true should be evaluated based on the numbers of people who believe it at a given time; the notion of “political truth”—the idea that whether or not something is true should be evaluated based on whether or not it is viewed as convenient at a given time.

Once again, all of those wrong ways of thinking are not just prevalent in society more broadly but have been significant problems in the past and present of the communist movement.

In opposition to all of this is the understanding encompassed in BA’s new communism that truth is... TRUTH! That it does NOT have a class character, nor is it determined by whether it is viewed as politically convenient in the short term, nor is it determined by the number of the masses who recognize it as truth at a given time. That truth is determined by whether or not something corresponds to objective reality, and it must be fully confronted in all of its dimensions—including those that might be unfortunate or inconvenient in the short run—as an essential part of actually getting to communism.

These points are encompassed in this very important quote from BA that speaks to a key breakthrough in understanding concentrated in the new communism:

Everything that is actually true is good for the proletariat, all truths can help us get to communism. (BAsics 4:5)

Once again, as BA has pointed out, the new communism’s breakthroughs in regard to the truth are not just a matter of recognizing that going for the truth is essential in general—though this understanding is encompassed, too—but that going for the truth is essential IN ORDER TO GET TO COMMUNISM.

*A second example of a specific key dimension of the new communism is its breakthrough in regard to internationalism—the understanding that “the whole world comes first.” This is not just a moral stand—although it is ALSO that—but represents a more fully scientific understanding of internationalism and its importance in the process of making and continuing revolution, and a rupture with and departure from unscientific understandings of internationalism in the past and present of the communist movement. This breakthrough developed with BA’s new communism includes the understanding that the world situation is principal—in other words, that it is the most important factor setting the terms—in regard to the process of making revolution in any particular country; that there can sometimes be a sharp contradiction between the needs of a particular socialist state and the need to advance the world revolution, and that advancing the world revolution must come first; and that in past revolutions there were sometimes important errors made by failing to recognize this and putting the needs of particular socialist countries above the world revolution. Here again, this is not just a matter of an abstract idea of internationalism, but principles based on the work BA has done to deeply engage and synthesize the correct understanding of and approach to the actual contradictions involved in consistently applying internationalism, with all the complexity and difficulty involved in this. (In this regard, the discussion of internationalism in BA’s book THE NEW COMMUNISM is very important.)

*A third example of specific dimensions in which the new communism has broken new ground is in terms of the method of “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core,” which is a scientific understanding which in fact ruptures with the past understanding and approach of the communist movement in important ways, including in the application of this method to the process of making revolution and leading the future socialist society.

In terms of epistemology (theory of knowledge) and method, “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core” intertwines with some of the key points made earlier in regard to truth and comprehends that while the communist method and approach is the most systematic, comprehensive and effective means of getting to the truth, this does not mean that communists have a monopoly on the truth and are always correct or that those NOT applying the communist method and approach are always incorrect; rather, those coming from other outlooks, methods and approaches can discover important truths and shed important light on elements of reality. Therefore, the METHOD of solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core involves applying the communist outlook, method and approach to reality with a specific goal, making revolution and getting to communism, while also understanding the need—ON THE BASIS OF APPLYING THAT METHOD—to learn from, sift through and sort out what is brought forward through many diverse streams of human activity and by people coming from a broad range of perspectives, including those that are not communist and even opposed to communism in some cases.

Applying this understanding of solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core to the process of making revolution and then continuing that revolution in the future socialist society on the road to communism, BA’s new communism recognizes—on a level far beyond and in some cases in opposition to the way this was understood prior to the new communism—the complexity and diversity of human activity and thought that must be involved in the process of making revolution and leading a socialist society to communism. This includes recognizing in a whole new way and on a whole other level the importance of dissent, debate, experimentation, ferment and individuality—not individualism but individuality—in socialist society.

To contrast this with one example from the first wave of socialist societies: In socialist China—which, again, overall represented an enormous leap for humanity in so many different spheres and overall—Marxism was in essence viewed as an “official ideology” that people in socialist society should profess, while the new communism, and in particular the approach of “solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core,” embodies the understanding that the leading element in socialist society needs to be communism, but this should not be enshrined and institutionalized as, in effect, an “official ideology” but put forward and struggled for as something people need to be won to and to consciously and voluntarily take up, while at the same time recognizing the importance of giving space to and engaging, and learning what can and should be learned from, the insights of others who have not, yet, been won to communism.

As positive as the overall experience of socialism in China was, BA’s new communism represents a very different vision of socialist society that involves a radical leap forward from even the best of the past.

So, these three examples—related to the approach towards truth, internationalism and solid core with a lot of elasticity on the basis of the solid core—are just that: three of many examples and points that could be offered to illustrate just how profoundly new BA’s new communism is, and the ways in which this new communism (to go back to the quote from the first of the six resolutions):

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

The works that we have read, watched and listened to from BA have been an application and illustration of the new communism—and this has immersed us in this new communism, in an overall way, as captured by the quote from the first resolution as well as in various specific dimensions, including the three highlighted in this letter.

Accordingly, our study and discussion of this work should have deepened our understanding and application of the new communism and its scientific method. Many of our discussions, in fact, have involved studying BA’s scientific method and seeking to take up and apply this method ourselves, to the best of our ability, even while not being able to do this on anywhere near the same level that BA himself does. This focus on method has been extremely important and instructive, manifested, for instance, in the way that we have studied and sought to emulate the way that BA boldly confronts, plainly presents and systematically unpacks the key contradictions and questions of the revolution, involving and inviting others to join him on that journey.

So, once again to return to the question of what we HAVE in regard to the factors and conditions needed to make revolution, the biggest positive factor we have by far is BA, the scientific framework, breakthrough and understanding that he has forged with the new communism, and the ongoing leadership he is providing. This leadership, as highlighted in the second of those six resolutions, involves an extremely rare combination: the ability “to develop scientific theory on a world-class level, while at the same time having a deep understanding of and visceral connection with the most oppressed, and a highly developed ability to ‘break down’ complex theory and make it accessible to the masses of people.” Our viewing, listening, reading and related study/discussion has also driven home this rare combination point repeatedly and powerfully.

In terms of what we don’t yet have, and therefore urgently NEED to work on bringing into being in order to make an actual revolution: We don’t yet have masses of people, first in the thousands and then in the millions, who are won to this revolution and its leadership and developed as an organized force for this revolution; we don’t yet have a situation where the party that is needed to lead the revolution has grown and been expanded and strengthened to the point where it has the necessary ties and influence in society to actually lead a revolution; and we don’t yet have a revolutionary crisis in which the system is unable to rule in the traditional way.

So, the urgent task before us—not just us, but certainly ALSO us—is to take the critical things we DO have and go to work on bringing into being what we DON’T yet have.

This theme—of what we do have, what we don’t have, and what we therefore need to get busy doing—has been another theme both directly spoken to and objectively posed by the works of BA that we have dug into and by our discussions of these works.

Bringing into being the conditions that we don’t yet have is urgently necessary, absolutely possible and in line with reality and how it can be changed, and there is a strategy for going to work on this, as we have discussed recently. But this will not be easy—it will take lots of STRUGGLE, repeatedly and fundamentally on a societal level.

This understanding, too, is another theme that jumps out in reflecting on our study and discussion.

We should understand that we are not operating on an “empty playing field.” There can be a tendency, especially when people are young and still relatively inexperienced politically, to think that everyone with a decent heart will immediately rally to the correct understanding of reality as soon as they are exposed to this understanding. And without question, there is a tremendous basis to win MILLIONS of people to this revolution and its leadership because it DOES, in fact, correspond to reality and to what humanity needs, and no other program and line does.

However, the understanding of BA and the new communism is, to put it simply, contending with all kinds of wrong ways of thinking, on all kinds of questions, that are spontaneously called forth and actively and repeatedly promoted by this system, and it is contending with all kinds of wrong LINES—i.e., wrong outlooks and methods applied to reality—that keep people trapped within this system. This includes, but is not limited to, people in society who call themselves “socialists” or “communists” but are actually about nothing that has anything to do with actual socialism and communism and really just want to reform capitalism and perhaps slightly redistribute the wealth generated by the capitalist system of exploitation. These reformists have nothing to do with an actual revolution and bringing into being a radically different world—and in some cases they will even admit as much. In any case, these fake socialists and communists are often some of those who most viciously attack BA and the GENUINE communism represented by BA, the new communism, precisely because BA and the new communism ACTUALLY represent what they may PRETEND to be about but in reality fundamentally oppose: real revolution and communism.

Few things are as threatening to a poseur as someone who actually IS what they PRETEND to be.

Returning to society more broadly: sharp ideological struggle must be waged—not just on an individual level or in small numbers, but among MASSES OF PEOPLE, and on a SOCIETAL SCALE—to rupture people out of all the wrong ways of thinking and wrong lines that they are caught up in and into the framework of BA’s new communism.

Once again, there is every basis and every urgency to do this, exactly because BA and the new communism correspond to reality and how it can and must be changed, while these other lines and ways of thinking do NOT. But this will take determined, sharp struggle—of the sort emphasized and modeled by BA in the works that we have studied together.

This brings me to the point with which I want to briefly conclude, which is the second of the two themes I have emphasized.

The Importance of Revolutionary Theory

Another tendency that people can have when they are young and relatively inexperienced is the tendency to view “doing stuff” as the most important political task at hand. “Doing stuff” can be defined in a number of different ways, including things such as attending programs, events or protests or doing “on the ground” political outreach and work.

Well, first of all, the question of “doing WHAT stuff” is immediately posed. In other words, what KIND of political work and outreach are people doing, and what KIND of programs and protests—around what line—are people seeking to be involved in? This is obviously a key question.

It’s not the case, as people often think and sometimes say, that “it’s all good”—in other words, “liberal”/“progressive”/“socialist”/“communist”—“sure, sure we all basically want the same things and are on the same page.”

NO. While there are certainly some important areas in which genuine communists can find unity with broad ranks of progressives, there are different lines out there and these different lines are in contention and lead to fundamentally different understandings of the problem and solution in the world.

So, that’s the first question: doing “WHAT” stuff and with WHAT goal?

That said, “doing stuff” in the right sense—i.e., doing “practical work” on the ground and in the broader society to promote this revolution and its leadership, to organize people into the revolution, working to hasten and prepare for an actual revolution, to Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution, including through different forms of political outreach, programs and discussions, demonstrations and protests, etc.—is extremely critical and important, and in fact urgently necessary.

But it is important to understand that in a movement for revolution—like any good team—everyone has different roles, and it is important for people to understand and embrace their roles in order to make the greatest possible contribution to the team and, in this case, to humanity.

However, even beyond this question of each person’s individual roles, there is the question of the decisiveness of revolutionary theory.

Once again, “doing stuff” in the right sense—i.e., practical revolutionary work—is critically important. If millions of people had the right theoretical understanding but didn’t act on that understanding in practice, nothing would change.

However—and this goes up against the ways people are trained to think in this society, and against the spontaneity of how people often see things when they are young (or new to things), but is nonetheless true and important—what is even more fundamental than “doing stuff” is the question of what people, individually and in their masses, UNDERSTAND. Whether and how people act—and the effect this has in the world—ultimately comes down to what people UNDERSTAND.

From that standpoint, it is crucial that people find the ways to do what we have been doing: immersing ourselves in, taking up and applying the most advanced revolutionary theory in the world, BA’s new communism, as part of the overall process of making revolution.

One final point: It is important not to look narrowly at what it means to TAKE UP and APPLY the new communism. This doesn’t just mean direct political work and outreach, which, once again, is very important. Taking up and applying this work means—in a BROADER sense—applying the understanding represented by BA and the new communism to understanding and changing reality. Very importantly, this includes sharing observations/ideas/questions and thoughts—about what you are learning and the material you are studying; about developments, changes and trends in society (and the world overall); about ways and openings to promote this revolution and its leadership; about how people (those you know and people more broadly) are viewing and discussing different things going on in society/the world, what this reveals about openings for revolution and jolts in society but also the need to transform people’s thinking; about major events and developments in music and the arts... just to give a few examples.

These are all VERY IMPORTANT contributions to the revolutionary process, and it would be wrong to think otherwise.

So, let me end this where I began: This process we have embarked on has been—and will continue to be—deeply meaningful, really exciting, and a lot of fun. And this is a crucial part of actually participating in and contributing to the process of building for the revolution that is so urgently needed.

THE NEW COMMUNISM

The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation, by Bob Avakian

Download PDF of book here

Read more

Breakthroughs —

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

Updated prepublication copy, April 10, 2019
Read or download (searchable PDF)

 

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

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian

August 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/634/salute-to-refuse-fascism-at-la-weimar-republic-festival-en.html

Salute to Refuse Fascism for Timely Banner at LA Philharmonic's Weimar Republic Festival

| revcom.us

 

Refuse Fascism Los Angeles did a bold, artful and much-appreciated action at the February 7 opening of the LA Philharmonic’s important festival “The Weimar Republic: Germany 1918-1933.” The LA Philharmonic’s festival aims to explore this culturally explosive period” in history, which was ended by the rise of Hitler and the Nazis.

According to a report at RefuseFascism.org, “On Friday night a small team went to the Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA to enjoy an evening of virtuosity, and to hoist the 40 foot banner ‘TRUMP/PENCE OUT NOW REFUSEFASCISM.ORG.’ As we unfurled the banner concertgoers broke into exuberant applause! One person behind us called the act ‘a great gift.’ This wasn’t a ‘show-stopper’—we displayed the huge banner toward the end of intermission with no intention of disrupting THIS program—yet, there were tense and even funny interactions with concert hall security, who finally realized we were supportive of the program!”

The action was covered by the Los Angeles Times, which wrote, “The banner fit with the festival’s goal of encouraging dialogue about the ways that the past—particularly the artistically rich Weimar era, which flourished in the shadow of rising fascism—connects to the present and presages the future,” and noted “Similar banners were hoisted Sunday by protesters near Hollywood & Highland before the Oscars ceremony at the Dolby Theatre.”  (“Who were the protesters behind the Refuse Fascism banners at Disney Hall and the Oscars?” February 10)

 

Refuse Fascism unfurl banner in Disney Hall, February 7, 2020.

See also:

The Fascists and the Destruction of the "Weimar Republic"...And What Will Replace It

By Bob Avakian

Read more

 

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/634/cheers-to-joaquin-phoenix-en.html

Cheers to Joaquin Phoenix for Powerful Oscars Speech

| revcom.us

 

Joaquin Phoenix made a powerful acceptance speech at Sunday’s Academy Awards after winning the Oscar for lead actor for his performance in the movie Joker. Phoenix spoke deeply from the heart, including about giving “voice to the voiceless,” addressing the “distressing issues that we are facing collectively,” and rejecting the domination of one group by another and the plunder of the natural world—and doing so in a spirit of love, compassion, and helping people grow, not canceling them out. It was a moving antidote to the prevailing me first/America First/cancel culture.

Watch and share Phoenix’s speech HERE.

 

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/634/check-it-out-who-killed-malcolm-x-en.html

Check It Out: Netflix's "Who Killed Malcolm X?"

| revcom.us

 

In some of the coverage generated by this new documentary series, attention is focused on the wrongful conviction of two of the three people for murdering Malcolm X.  This unfolding effort to set the record straight is one important upshot of decades of digging to uncover the truth of Malcolm X’s assassination by an activist, amateur historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad.  The series is disturbing in bringing out that there was no real investigation, just a quick legal railroad.  It asks why people's attorney William Kunstler’s efforts to re-open it were shut down when there were gaping holes in the case.  As important as this is there is much, much more to this series.   

David Garrow, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference appears in the documentary collaborating with and validating Muhammad, as the person who has become the preeminent expert on Malcolm’s murder.  The series probes why there has never been a serious investigation to get to the truth; the intensity of the assault and character assassination of Malcolm from the Nation of Islam and the FBI and NYPD; Malcolm's split with the conservatism of the Nation of Islam and Elijah Muhammad; the role of the FBI and the NYPD “Red Squad” in fomenting and focusing on taking out Malcolm X in the period leading up to his being gunned down.  In the series a retired Red Squad (aka Bureau of Special Services—BOSS) pig brags about how they recruited an undercover agent who had no connection to the NYPD—not a single relative in the police department—to place in and head up Malcolm’s security detail leading up to his murder. 

The documentary series dramatizes and fleshes out this article printed in 2015 on the 50th anniversary of Malcolm’s murder. In light of the Netflix series it is a "must read." And for anyone who watches the series and who cares about getting beyond the madness and horror of this world, read (and re-read) the article “Watching Fruitvale Station with BA.”

Watch on Netflix

WATCHING FRUITVALE STATION WITH BOB AVAKIAN

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

Read here | Download printable PDF

 

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/634/prisoners-write-en.html

Prisoners write:

"What is really worth living and Dying for?"

| revcom.us

 

We greatly appreciate receiving these letters from prisoners and encourage prisoners to keep sending us correspondence. The views expressed by the writers of these letters are, of course, their own; and they are not responsible for the views published elsewhere in our paper.

We invite prisoners—and all our readers—to write us on these and related topics. Send correspondence by email to revolution.reports@yahoo.com; prisoners, send to: Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund (PRLF), 1321 N. Milwaukee Ave. #407, Chicago, IL 60622.

"What is really worth living and Dying for?"

To me the answer seems obvious now; but I know there’s a lot of People whose motto has become “Get rich or Die trying.” And look, I understand, the environment a lot of us come from is of poverty, and money is understood as a tool for survival. Without it you don't eat and you can't Provide Shelter for you and your family. So like the Hunter-Gatherers of ancient times, who would all go out there to the unknown in search for the sustenance for life (food, etc.). Some impulse draws a lot of us to go out there and hunt for money and gather coin, the “new” sustenance for life. It is that impulse, why a lot of People would go through extremes and life-threatening measures in the hunt for cash, coming up with slick and innovative ways to gather coin. It’s what Society demands of the human race today.

See that’s the difference, whereas back then, nature demanded the human race to hunt and gather its necessities for life. Today it’s society, meaning it’s People and the System they organize around. Society that demands such actions from us today. That being the case, such systems are susceptible to change. We as People can change them. I know it may sound crazy to you, but think about it! We are so advanced in human civilization that we have the means to mass produce everything. The necessities of life are mass produced every day 100 X’s over, enough to provide for the world’s children and its children’s children. But society and the system of capitalism its organized under Dictates you go through all these loops and hoops and life risking stunts to acquire a Dollar, not the necessities, but the coin. So they can sell you the necessities. And there we go, giving up our lives in the Pursuit of the Coin. Some of us driven to the extreme of picking up Guns and Knives to rob some place or somebody, risking death or imprisonment (which is almost like Death) for a Dollar. We sell poison to our fellow human to swindle them out of their coin (again) risking death or captivity for what? A dollar, a green piece of paper which has no physical value other than the promise it holds. When the promise can no longer be kept, that piece of paper means nothing! So we really out here killing, Dying and risking captivity for nothing! Yeah we say it’s for survival, and once upon a time you couldn't tell me otherwise. Until I realized that Humans made this system of capitalism. Humans organized society around that system. It’s Humans that are upholding that system, for their own personal interest. If that’s the case, Humans can change such system, we can organize society differently, this time to better serve humanity and the Planet. It’s not some omnipotent being that enacted these “facts” of life. It’s not a law of nature that organized society the way it is today. It’s Humans. So if it’s humans that did it, we can undo it and Place Something better. We as Humans have the Power to do so. We are damn near the only species on earth that can change and manipulate our environment to better serve us. 

I'm not saying it’s easy, we are going to have to be about that action. If you’re about that action when it comes to block claiming, color banging and paper chasing, which amounts to being about that action over nothing really! Why is it so hard to be about that action when it comes to the betterment of you, yours and your fellow human race? I get the whole Bourgeois Propaganda that’s been instilled in you since birth, the Bourgeois Culture that’s drilled into your head every day. But we must see it for what it really is and break from it! Those pretty, glittery lights capitalism and bourgeois culture promises were not meant for everyone, and that road will only lead you to disappointment, misery, death or stuck in some Concrete Dungeon somewhere forever.

Whereas we can use that ingenuity, bravery, and Action to fight for something that actually holds weight, that actually means Something. We can be that lever that turns the tide of human history, change the course of humankind, that from the road of destruction we are on to that of emancipation and Glory for the human race.

It won't be easy, I know. You have a lot of people upholding this System that would rather destroy the earth than to give it up. But if there’s a lot of us, and if we fight hard and smart, our chances are better than none. And to the pessimist who says we will fail as our comrades in the past failed, know that their sacrifice brought with it lessons. Our deaths or failures will do the same, the next generation will learn from our mistakes, and with that, our life and death meant something as did our past fallen comrades...

...When you weight it all out, fighting for a Communist Revolution, a break from the bourgeoisie mind state, and fighting for the Emancipation of Humankind from the chains of capitalism/Imperialism, it’s something that’s truly worth living and dying for...

with a lot of Love & Respect

On Black History Month

In 1926 Carter G. Woodson started Black History week as a celebration for a Black population that was being marginalized and oppressed. He felt it was important that Black people define themselves and celebrate their accomplishments, in the face of a society that often portrayed Blacks like animals, and around a half century later it was extended to a whole month.

Now Black History month is celebrated in a few ways. Most often we celebrate the month by doing exactly what this country wants us to do, and that’s by shining a spotlight on the few Blacks who have "made it" and reached the American Dream of either being accepted by the elite, or by becoming rich, all done while we ignore the overwhelming majority who suffer under this fascist and imperialist country.

We also celebrate the so called legal victories, like the 13th amendment which was supposed to abolish slavery; the civil rights act of 1964; the voters rights act of 1965; affirmative action; which are all slowly being chipped away as we speak.

Finally Black History month has become a big commercial win for the system. They have restaurant discounts, Walmart deals, and special Nike shoes and clothes, all designed for you to celebrate by spending all your money and strengthening the very same capitalist system that is oppressing us every single day.

I recently read that in February 1919 W.E.B. DuBois convened the first Pan African Congress to urge Black people globally to unite and fight against european imperialism. Black people worldwide need to regain that same purpose and use Black History month to focus on uniting, not just with Blacks, but with oppressed people all over the world, to fight an even more brutal and refined form of American Imperialism. And with that being said I'm going to end this with a quote from the BAsics Chapter 2 A Whole New—and Far Better—World, #11:

"Put the advance of the world revolution above everything, even above the advance of the revolution in the particular country—build the socialist state as above all a base area for the world revolution.”

“Revolution was something I wanted to be a part of...”

To: P.R.L.F. & Revcom,

Within that article in [Revolution] issue #628, I couldn't help myself but, lay back and look at the ceiling, silently thinking: I'm 34 years old, from Philadelphia. Sadly to say "North Philly," one of the worst neighborhoods where struggle are really real, where 60 percent of every prison upstate in PA (and there over 20+ state prisons in Pennsylvania.) are from, North Philly! We all know each other, are related, or heard of each other, but, that area had so much of an individuality.

I could only speak for my section of North, that’s all it was, a Me, Myself mentality! I didn't really know what a revolution was, didn't even hear the word until my incarceration! Then self-realization came into my life, I was fighting oppression.... The more times I fought the staffs against abuse and abuse of power, it's heightening my perception of purpose... Every time they spray me with chemical, cell extraction, physically assaulting me! and destroying my personal property and transferring me to another state facility, I wasn't fighting for myself!... I fought for mental health, for the ones who couldn't fight for their-self, I was their poster boy, (their voice!), have handcuffs scars and shackle scars on me all over, light spots on brown skin, bruises all over me... you would think I would be full of hate by now. But, I'm not, I can't hate people that’s programmed, that was desensitize by the system or military!

My action isn't an individual action, it’s for the collective. People ask me all the time, saying: "Your acting like you got life in prison." "You got a family that love you, f*** these dudes, go home." "You getting short now, go home, f*** these dudes!" I could go on.... even the correctional staffs say the same thing, but, people or my family don't realize this, what if I was in their mental condition, I would want somebody to stand up for me against oppression!

Yes, I spent 15 years of my life incarcerated but, it wasn't wasted! I self-educated myself, from philosophy, mythology, psychology, audio books, and regular books, learnt from other autobiography!, read poems and poetry to not lose my sensitivity side, 'cause this place could harden a person, desensitize anybody if you allow them to break you, worst most of us included myself was already broken before entering the system!

...There's no comfortabilities in solitary confinement, that's when somebody call to the cell and introduce me to the "Revolution." It was my first time ever hearing about P.R.L.F. So, he actually was hoarding y'all articles, 'cause, this was the first time I saw him fishing "a line getting throw out the cell with a piece paper at the end for weight, to catch whoever line out there with that weight." Fishing.

He sent a couple of them, I was reading them and I remember asking him, "Yo, Fam, what the different between this Revolution paper and the other ones?" He just said, "Read it XXX, you would see gradually, it’s us, for us, and about us. You would understand with time." As time went on with me and him, he sent me y'all address. Said, "It's time you get your own."

...I understood this was something I wanted to be a part of, this felt so right to me! I don't care about my name or reputation, I would rather be a part of something worthy of dying for, than a part of something that only got a name, with no substance behind it! (meaning: gangs!)

I believe people mean good with their opinions, but, Revolution!!! isn't about just writing words, it’s also about action. It’s an "action word." No matter in a non-verbal movement or verbal movement! Silent or hunger strike! Sit-in or sit-down! Taking highway hostage or city hall hostage in a peaceful sit-down or stand-up to stop traffic! Verbally petitioning or writing petitioning the courts about injustice! There's no special way about it when unity is involved! (cause, we're one!)

Religion, doesn't matter!

Race, doesn't matter!

Sex, doesn't matter!

Gang ties doesn't matter!

Geographic, doesn’t matter!

Everything!!! out one window, only thing that matters are what we're fighting for, what’s all this hard work & time is invested on, the dearly silent protest or screaming our lungs out protest! The marching, flyer passing-out, blood, sweat, and tears.

...I close my eyes, rubbing my temple, with every waking morning I’m refresh for whatever round I’m on that day! I’m a firm believer that you don’t start nothing, if you don't have any plans in finishing it!!! (if you fail to plan! your plans would fail!)

Every time, I see the Revolution slide into the door at 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm (mail time) I know the fighting is still on and real, now that it’s fuel my inner-flames! Knowing there’s people who still believe in something! Who’s willing to take the time out their life to participate in something bigger than them! I smile in a place that there's nothing to smile about! Y'all manifisto, y'all memoirs, y'all writing feel like y'all speaking inside my head, soul, and heart! Y'all inspire me when I'm saying to myself (the world is selfish, nobody fighting no more,) then y'all literature come, and bring cause back to the light!

Every day, is a blessing if you live to see it. Even from a prison cell, try to repress my past, but it cannot be repressed!

Glad I was introduce to y'all movement & ideology. It’s re-lit my faith. I could say more about me, but one thing for sure, I'm not perfect, just trying to right some of mine wrong since I can't right all of them!... Just wanted y'all to know I'm very grateful to y'all for allowing me a chance within movement and life!

There is the potential for something of unprecedented beauty to arise out of unspeakable ugliness: Black people playing a crucial role in putting an end, at long last, to this system which has, for so long, not just exploited but dehumanized, terrorized and tormented them in a thousand ways—putting an end to this in the only way it can be done—by fighting to emancipate humanity, to put an end to the long night in which human society has been divided into masters and slaves, and the masses of humanity have been lashed, beaten, raped, slaughtered, shackled and shrouded in ignorance and misery.

Bob Avakian

The Revolutionary Potential of the Masses and the Responsibility of the Vanguard

By Bob Avakian

One of the things that I see, something that I haven't lost sight of, is this: I see all the strength of the ruling class, but I also see all the way through all this shit, all the contradictions in society—I actually see a force in this society that, if it were developed into a revolutionary people, actually could have a go at it, could have a real chance of making a revolution, or being the backbone force of a revolution, when the conditions were ripe. I see a force of millions and millions and millions—youth and others—for whom this system is a horror: It isn't going to take some cataclysmic crisis for this system to be fucking over them. The ruling class, ironically, sees them too. It is those who once had but have lost—or those who never had—a revolutionary perspective...it is they who can't see this.

Read more

 

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/634/announcing-next-phase-of-national-revolution-tour-en.html

Announcing... Next Phase of the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour

| revcom.us

 

It is with great excitement, deep concern for humanity, and a scientifically grounded sense of hope in real-world possibility of a better future, that we announce and invite you to become part of the next phase of the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour. Starting in 2019 this Tour has gone to different parts of the country, boldly bringing people a real sense that we don’t have to accept and live in the kind of world people in this country and around the world are trapped in, with no sense or hope that there is a whole different and better way the world could be.

This Tour has brought together a group of revolutionaries, grounded in the leadership of Bob Avakian who has forged and applied the science of the NEW Communism to lay bare the very core workings of this system, why it cannot be reformed and must be overthrown, how that can be done, and how we can build a new society on the road to ending all oppression and emancipating humanity. We have worked to put this leadership and this revolution on the map in this country, up against the notion that there is no alternative, or that the best we can hope for is another politician promising change within the system, or that we should really just “change ourselves” and make a better life for some people in this parasitic country. We set out to challenge and inspire many thousands not only to hope for but to get organized as part of this revolution to change everything. We have learned important lessons about how to do this, but we have only begun to unearth the potential that must be tapped. We have new bold plans and ways to go at this.

Facing a new year that promises even more unpredictable upheaval and dangerous twists and turns for humanity... will this way out become a force that people can learn about, and become part of making real? This is the challenge, the mission and goal, that we are determined to meet, and we call on everyone who is inspired by this to take up this challenge as well.

As Bob Avakian has said:

There is an urgent need for this new synthesis to be taken up, broadly, in this society and in the world as a whole: everywhere people are questioning why things are the way they are, and whether a different world is possible; everywhere people are talking about “revolution” but have no real understanding of what revolution means, no scientific approach to analyzing and dealing with what they are up against and what needs to be done; everywhere people are rising up in rebellion but are hemmed in, let down and left to the mercy of murderous oppressors, or misled onto paths which only reinforce, often with barbaric brutality, the enslaving chains of tradition; everywhere people need a way out of their desperate conditions, but do not see the source of their suffering and the path forward out of the darkness.

A Better World Is Needed... A Better World Is POSSIBLE

All those who yearn for a better world, are needed to actively work on and contribute to this process with all we’ve got in order to accomplish that. Leaps need to be made in spreading the word that because of the work and leadership Bob Avakian has been providing there is an actual alternative... REAL hope for humanity, on a scientific basis. This is something that people need to know about, debate, and to actively take up, working together as part of a national movement. And the more that people are acting together to impact society with this revolution, even starting off small, the more that this hope can be brought to life for many more people, even those who start off “not wanting to hear it,” and open up ways to involve more people in having greater impact, all aiming to get the kind of process going that can lead to organizing the thousands. People need to know about this and see that there is a force being brought together and organized that represents for this, awakening more people and opening doors for them to find a way into the revolution. This will be projected out into society on a whole other level with a web presence, that will in turn have a qualitatively greater impact on the political terrain—influencing what people are thinking and talking about in the midst of a very tumultuous situation humanity is facing. In order to do this we are going to be concentrating forces in the greater Los Angeles area in this next period to be able to make this kind of dynamic breakthrough.

All of this is only possible, of course, if many people are involved and struggle for it. Some of us will be part of the dedicated cores working tirelessly every day for revolution, some will be part of the revolution clubs and other organized networks that can act together at decisive times to impact a situation, and all of us need to be part of the networks raising the funds and gather other logistical support for the revolution.

We are calling on you to step into this now by not only giving significant funds, but by becoming a regular part of the work of this Tour. That means committing in different ways to donate and raise funds, to support and bring others to support what can really be opened up if the work of this Tour can actually have a greater footprint in society right now. There are many ways that people can contribute, but many thousands of people need to be drawn into contributing financially and giving their time and resources to make this happen.

To be specific:

We need $50,000 by the end of March, just to get started with this next phase of the Tour. But we are going to need at least $500,000 between now and the end of the summer to make possible all that we have envisioned here.

Below are three elements which are key to accomplishing the objectives of the Tour:

1) $30,000 in starting funds are needed to bring the volunteer cohort to L.A. in March, and further funds and ongoing sustainers will be needed every month.

The people making up the cohort who are dedicating themselves to do this on this Tour are key to initiating the kind of process that can get to the point where thousands are working together in an organized way, and they need to be sustained. The people on this Tour need to eat, to have housing, to be able to cover transportation needs, to keep the phones on... and that alone costs thousands. Funding is also needed for the daily activities of the Tour. Everything from printing fliers, promotional cards, books, shirts, stickers, posters, permits, meeting and event spaces, public address/sound systems, audio/visual equipment.

2) We are putting together a National Web Team! A major way in which we can and need to transform how we are impacting and organizing broadly for revolution is through a whole new approach to our web presence. This will involve and require funds for updating our web infrastructure and platform, equipment for multimedia, social media, and livestreaming capacity, and more.

3) A National Fundraising Team. To build the movement for revolution, major funds are needed, and working together to involve people in raising funds is part of building the movement for revolution! Nationally coordinated fundraising periods and goals, effectively communicating and sharing decentralized experiences in raising funds, identifying key fundraising needs and crucial junctures, and continuing to engage networks of people who are contributing funds and raising funds.

Spread the word about the Facebook Live event. Make plans to pledge and send in funds to reach a goal of $10,000 by February 20.

Donate at Revcom.us.

Watch: Video of February 19 First Spring Get Organized for an Actual Revolution Fundraising Webinar

Ways to Donate:

• The National Revolution Tour now has Venmo:
“@RevolutionTour”

• Write in to getorganizedforrevolutiontour (at) gmail.com, let us know if you are taking up collections, or to send statements, including during the February 19 webinar

• Or call (646) 717-7161

"There is an urgent need for this new synthesis to be taken up, broadly, in this society and in the world as a whole: everywhere people are questioning why things are the way they are, and whether a different world is possible; everywhere people are talking about ‘revolution’ but have no real understanding of what revolution means, no scientific approach to analyzing and dealing with what they are up against and what needs to be done; everywhere people are rising up in rebellion but are hemmed in, let down and left to the mercy of murderous oppressors, or misled onto paths which only reinforce, often with barbaric brutality, the enslaving chains of tradition; everywhere people need a way out of their desperate conditions, but do not see the source of their suffering and the path forward out of the darkness."

Bob Avakian, The New Communism

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/634/bob-avakian-on-the-law-justice-and-ending-oppression-en.html

BOB AVAKIAN ON THE LAW, JUSTICE, AND ENDING OPPRESSION AND EXPLOITATION

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Bob Avakian grew up in Berkeley, California in the 1950s at a time when segregation was being challenged in the courts and in the streets, and the issues of inequality and racial discrimination were being debated throughout society.  His father was a lawyer and later a Superior Court judge, and Bob Avakian was raised in a family where discussions of legal cases, constitutional rights, and the judicial process were a staple of dinner time conversation. Not only did this upbringing shape his early political awareness and passion for social justice, but this informal legal training gave him a keen appreciation for legal principles. This developed into a lifelong interest in the law and in jurisprudence (the science and philosophy of law).

Bob Avakian came alive as a revolutionary in the 1960s—taking part in the great movements of those days. As he came to the recognition that oppression and exploitation were woven into the fabric of the current capitalist-imperialist system and could only be abolished through communist revolution, he also came to see that social justice could never be achieved within the confines of the existing legal system that serves capitalism-imperialism. At the same time, he has maintained his passion for fighting against social injustice, and for the rights of the people targeted by the state and its repressive apparatus, within the confines of the current capitalist system, while linking this to the more fundamental struggle to abolish this system and bring into being a system whose aim is to eliminate and uproot social injustice and all oppression and exploitation.

Bob Avakian has spent decades summing up the positive and negative experience of the communist revolution so far and drawing on a broad range of human experience to develop a new synthesis of communism—popularly known as the “new communism”—a consistently scientific method and a vision and strategy for a new and much better society and world.  In his talks and writings on this subject of law and rights, Bob Avakian brings a sweeping sense of history and the development of human society to his analysis of the economic, philosophical, and political underpinnings of the legal system in today’s capitalist society and the role that this legal system plays in reinforcing oppressive and exploitative relations.

In comparing and contrasting the concepts of Constitution, law, and rights under both capitalism and socialism, Bob Avakian highlights the profound differences in social content and role. His vision of the legal system and fundamental rights under socialism draws from, but also represents in significant dimensions a radical rupture with, the past historical experience of socialist states in the legal sphere and reflects his re-envisioning of the character of the future socialist society as one qualitatively more lively and vibrant than ever before. A living sense of this is contained in Constitution, Law, and Rights—in capitalist society and the future socialist society, a selection from the writings of Bob Avakian, and it is spelled out fully in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian. In this regard, the following sections of this Constitution are of particular interest: “Justice and the Rights of the People” (Article I, Section 2, D); Article III, “Rights of the People and the Struggle to Uproot All Exploitation and Oppression,” in particular Section 2, “Legal and Civil Rights and Liberties”; as well as Article I, Section 3, “The Judiciary and Legal Adjudication.”

Bob Avakian is also the author of the following provocative statements with regard to the law.

The denial of bail, including for the most serious accusations (or charges), is in contradistinction to—is fundamentally in conflict with and hostile to—the presumption of innocence.

There is—or there should be—no such thing as “victims’ rights,” particularly as applied to criminal proceedings.

The criminal legal process is not—or should not be—a contest between individuals but a confrontation between the state and people whom the state seeks to deprive of freedom on the basis that they have violated societal norms that are embodied in criminal statutes. The whole point of a legal system is, or should be, to remove disputes or perceived wrongs from the sphere of individual grievance—and the corresponding attempts to settle such grievance through individual acts of revenge or reciprocal wrongdoing—by providing a framework in which society, through established institutions and statutes, which are to be applied and work equally in regard to all, can adjudicate such disputes or claims of wrongdoing. The concept of “victims’ rights,” particularly as applied to criminal proceedings, is not merely in opposition to what should be the purpose and effect of the law—and is not merely a sham—but is an undeserved tool strengthening the prosecution, an illegitimate weapon in the hands of the state, adding unjustly to the already existing imbalance of power it possesses, as the state, in its confrontation with those individuals it seeks, rightly or wrong, to deprive of freedom. The essence of legal rights, particularly with regard to criminal proceedings, is—or should be—the provision for a fair process for people who are accused by and are forced to confront the state in situations where the state is seeking to deprive them of their freedom.

The practice with regard to trying juveniles as adults is completely upside down and contrary to elementary logic. This is also the case with the way the statute of limitations is applied.  

The whole point with regard to juveniles and the law, and specifically what is—or should be—the treatment of juveniles in regard to alleged violation of that law that is different from how this is approached with regard to adults, is that juveniles do not have the same developed capacity as adults to make judgments, including those regarding the effect and consequences of acts which may be against the law.  This basic principle should be applied apart from the question of how serious the alleged crime is, which should in no way negatively influence the basic logic and justness of trying juveniles differently than adults and punishing them differently if convicted. Or, in fact, if the seriousness of the crime should be considered at all, it should be according to the principle that the more serious the crime, and correspondingly the greater the consequences of conviction, as an adult, the greater the argument against trying juveniles as adults.

The point of the statute of limitations is not to set a time limit after which people can “get away with having committed a crime.” Rather, it is that, after a certain period of time, it becomes increasingly difficult, if not practically impossible, to have a fair trial, since evidence (including but not limited to the memory of possible witnesses), becomes irreparably tainted and/or much more difficult, if not impossible, to refute.   And, since the more serious the crime, the greater the punishment, greater concern and care should be taken not to have a trial in which the accused could face conviction, and a greater punishment, on the basis of a process (a trial) vitiated by the passage of time. Hence, all crimes should have a statute of limitations—and the more serious the crime, the shorter, not the longer, should be the statute of limitations.

Both of these upside-down and backward practices—with regard to trying juveniles as adults and making the statute of limitations longer (or eliminating it entirely) for more serious crimes—are once again undeserved tools strengthening the prosecution, illegitimate weapons in the hands of the state, adding unjustly to the already existing imbalance of power it possesses, as the state, in its confrontation with those individuals it seeks, rightly or wrongly, to deprive of freedom.

Even with the profound differences between socialism and capitalism—with regard not only to the law but the fundamental relations, aims, institutions, and functioning of society—these basic principles of jurisprudence apply (or should be applied) not only under the current system of capitalist rule but in socialist society as well.

Bob Avakian (BA) — Official Biography

To know and change the world... get into Bob Avakian (BA), the leader of the revolution.

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