revcom.us, March 23, 2020 through March 29, 2020 (#640)

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.

| revcom.us

 

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.

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/639/bob-avakian-responds-to-mark-rudd-en.html

BOB AVAKIAN RESPONDS TO MARK RUDD
ON THE LESSONS OF THE 1960s AND THE NEED FOR AN ACTUAL REVOLUTION

Infantile Expressions of Outrage, or Accommodation to This Monstrous System, Are Not the Only Alternatives

| revcom.us

 

In the New York Times recently (Friday, March 6, 2020) a commentary appears (“Political Passion Turned Violent”) authored by Mark Rudd, a former 1960s radical. The motivation of the Times editors, in publishing this piece by Rudd, is not difficult to discern. Rudd emphasizes that significant acts of violence today, and the danger this poses to society, is being perpetrated by what he terms the “far right”; and, more generally, he insists that nonviolence is the only legitimate and effective way to bring about desired (and desirable) social change and that all violence, on the part of any social movement for change, must be renounced. Aside from Rudd’s own motivation in writing this commentary, the fact is that both of these arguments by Rudd are in line with the concerns and objectives of the editors of the Times—and of the section of the ruling class of this system of which they are representatives: They recognize the very real threat to the “norms” of the existing social order in what is being done by Trump and those who are aligned with and rallying behind him (the “far right,” in Rudd’s terms); and, more fundamentally, they are concerned that, especially in these times of intensifying polarization and acute “social stress,” social movements and societal conflicts must remain confined within a framework and limits that will not threaten the existing system. And it is no doubt an added benefit for them to have these arguments made by someone identified as a “1960s radical” who has “come in from the cold” and rejoined the ranks of the “reasonable” who insist there is really no alternative to this system.

Because of this—because Rudd claims, as someone who was involved in the radical upsurge of the 1960s, to be offering crucial lessons and universal principles about how the fight against oppression and injustice must (and must not) be waged—it is important to examine what Rudd argues, and in particular what he renounces that should be renounced, and what should not be renounced but upheld and carried forward, while being given a scientifically founded orientation and direction.

In the late 1960s (and into the early 1970s) Rudd was part of the Weather Underground. As he himself refers to, the people who formed the Weather Underground had been part of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which by the late 1960s, at the height of the radical upsurge of that time, had become a mass organization of thousands who represented the broadly held revolutionary sentiments of literally millions of youth at that point. As it came to the understanding that things such as the oppression of Black people and the mass slaughter carried out by the U.S. in Vietnam were somehow tied into the very nature of the system itself, SDS had run up against the question of how to bring about some kind of revolutionary change, although there were different ideas about what that actually meant and how to make it happen, and this resulted in the organization splitting into a number of different trends, each committed to a different approach in regard to these very basic questions. The Weather Underground in effect gave expression to the outrage of frustrated educated youth who had lost patience with the idea of carrying out political work to win masses of people to a revolutionary position and instead adopted what amounted to acts of “excitative terror” to substitute for a mass revolutionary movement. In one of his more truthful and insightful observations, Rudd has made the point that the enormity of the crimes being committed by this system, at home and in Vietnam, was more than those who became the Weather Underground could rationally deal with. And so they adopted an orientation and actions that were divorced from any serious, scientific approach to revolution, and in many ways increasingly divorced from reality. As someone who was part of the broad revolutionary movement of that time, who encountered and struggled against this political and ideological degeneration of people righteously outraged at the crimes of this system, and reflecting back on it now, a paraphrase of the opening lines of the powerful Allen Ginsberg poem Howl comes to mind: I saw some of the best people of my generation destroyed (for a time) by madness.

Unfortunately, the “recovery” of someone like Rudd from that madness has involved falling into another kind of political and ideological “insanity”: the notion that the massive crimes of this system can somehow be addressed through a movement for reform, leaving this system intact and in power. What should be renounced from the position of the former Weather Underground is its abandonment of and departure from the process of bringing forward a movement of millions of people aiming for an actual revolutionary overthrow of this criminal system. What should not be renounced is the profound hatred for this whole system and the determination to put an end to its endless crimes, which in reality requires an actual revolution carried out by masses, millions of people.

A System of Massive Organized Violence

While Rudd refers to Black revolutionaries who were “ruthlessly targeted by the police and the federal government” during the 1960s upsurge, he has seemingly “forgotten” the profound truth spoken by one of the leading Black revolutionaries of that time, Rap Brown: “Violence is as American as cherry pie.”

Under this system, the police kill a thousand people every year and subject millions more, especially people of color, to continual harassment and brutality. Millions of Black and Latino men, and growing numbers of women, are incarcerated in hell-hole prisons, while millions more are ensnared in the “criminal justice system” in various ways. At the same time, the U.S. continues to carry out mass slaughter (and to support such slaughter by its “allies”) in the Middle East and many other parts of the world.

Rudd recognizes some of this, but then distorts history and once more departs from a rational, logical line of thinking in the service of renouncing and ruling out of order anything other than nonviolent protest within the bounds of this system. And, as should surprise no one who has been paying attention to the conventions of the times, as part of this Rudd bends his metaphorical knee, paying the seemingly obligatory obeisance, to the distortions of “identity politics.” He reminds the readers that the people who made up the Weather Underground were “white, middle-class, college-educated kids.” And then comes this:

All of us were overcome both by grief over this country’s violence and by shame at not being able to stop the war. That shame also emanated from our class and racial privilege. We weren’t the ones being carpet-bombed in Vietnam or confronting racist mobs and sheriffs in Mississippi. (emphasis added)

One is tempted to dismiss this whole line of argument (and especially the part I have italicized above) with a simple “So What?!” But it deserves to be dug into more deeply. First of all, Rudd (who refers to Black revolutionaries being subjected to vicious repression by the police and the government) once again “forgets” those Black revolutionaries and the fact that, in moving from the limitations of the civil rights movement to the more advanced position of demanding Black liberation and linking this with liberation struggles in the Third World, those Black revolutionaries exerted a powerful positive force in influencing the movements of those times, including among educated youth, toward a more revolutionary orientation, even as that orientation was (in the parlance of those times) a “mixed bag,” involving a complex of conflicting tendencies, including the revolutionary communism that was coming from China as well as various revolutionary nationalist and other contradictory trends. Rudd’s arguments here are also in line with those raised at the time by ruling class and right-wing advocates of the Vietnam war, who attacked the students who mobilized against that war by denouncing them as privileged middle class brats who had managed to avoid “serving” in that war. This ignores the fact that among the most oppressed sections of society, those with the least “class and racial privilege”—Black people, Chicanos, and Puerto Ricans, whose youth died disproportionately in that war—opposition to the war was very widespread, and the fact that there was growing opposition to the war among the U.S. soldiers (and veterans) of the war, inspired to a significant degree by the anti-war stand and actions of precisely the student movement. Among other things, this reality itself is a powerful refutation of what Rudd seems to be arguing or implying. The “class and racial privilege” that Rudd raises, with regard to those who made up the Weather Underground, and the fact that they were not the ones being subjected to the horrific violence to which he refers, in no way renders their shame at all this invalid, illegitimate, or inconsequential. On the contrary, the fact that they were not being directly subjected to this but were outraged by it, and determined to do something to stop it, is exactly what was right about their orientation. The problem was that they abandoned and rejected the road of building a mass revolutionary movement determined to put an end not only to the slaughter in Vietnam and the violent oppression and repression “at home,” but to the whole system which, out of its very nature, continually perpetrates such monstrous crimes. Instead, they made what actually constituted a retreat into isolated acts of misdirected violence, and into an overall orientation, objectively in opposition to the building of the necessary revolutionary mass movement.

Reflecting back on the death of members of the Weather Underground, who were killed while building a bomb that, according to Rudd, was intended to be detonated at a dance at the Fort Dix military base (a dance which was attended not only by soldiers but by civilians as well), Rudd is correct that such a bombing, had it been carried out, would have resulted in even more widespread and vicious government repression, not just against the Weather Underground but against the broad mass movements of resistance and genuine revolutionary forces at that time. But he is playing with the truth when he portrays U.S. soldiers, like those then stationed at Fort Dix, as simply “our neighbors and fellow citizens.” No, they were something else—something more and something worse: they were part of the massive machinery of death and destruction that was carrying out the mass slaughter of the Vietnamese people, in their millions, in the service of the imperial interests and aims that the military of this system serves and seeks to enforce. In fact, as alluded to above, this was something that growing numbers of those soldiers themselves were coming to realize, and by the time Rudd is speaking of (early 1970) thousands of them had taken to open rebellion against the crimes they were being ordered to carry out and against those, in the military and beyond, who were organizing, training, deploying and ordering them to carry out these massive war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Certainly, the bombing of the dance at Fort Dix would have been a wrong and very harmful act. But the soldiers of the U.S. military, then and now, do not deserve to be simply embraced as “our neighbors and fellow citizens,” nor still less celebrated as “heroes,” but rather to be condemned for the crimes they have carried out and called upon and struggled with to refuse to continue committing such crimes and to become part of the political resistance to the system that requires and demands such massive atrocity on an ongoing basis—a struggle which, in fact, was carried out by many revolutionary-minded people during the course of the Vietnam war, contributing to the growing opposition among the soldiers themselves and to the broader movement of opposition to that war.1

As part of his repudiation of revolution, Rudd asserts that, in the time since the 1960s upsurge, “the left” has “developed a strong consensus...to control its violent fringe” but that “Violence is once again threatening our social fabric, this time from the far right.”

First of all, and fundamentally, it is not just “the far right” but the whole system—and those who rule in it, including those on the “left” of this system (in the Democratic Party)—that perpetrate violence. Is the Democratic Party what Rudd means by the “violent fringe” of “the left”?! Has the Democratic Party, and those who seek to be its top leaders—have they renounced violence? NO, they have not—and they cannot. Their system continually perpetrates and depends on violence—it could not exist and perpetuate itself without massive violence.

Reform vs. Revolution

Rudd poses a false dichotomy: As he portrays things, it’s either violence by a small group isolated from masses of people, or limiting things to reforms that are achieved through the nonviolent action of millions of people. But what about the truly revolutionary struggle of millions of people, aiming not just to win concessions from the existing system, but to actually overthrow it and bring a much better system into being? There is, of course, a definite place, and a definitely positive role, for massive nonviolent struggles whose aim is short of revolution but which oppose real oppression and atrocities of this system. A very important example of this is the call by Refuse Fascism for nonviolent but sustained mass mobilization to drive out the fascist Trump/Pence regime. But limiting things to nonviolence, in all circumstances and as some kind of supposed absolute principle—opposing a revolutionary struggle carried out by millions of people to overthrow this system when the conditions that make that possible have been brought into being—means at least objectively accepting and accommodating to this monstrous system and the very violent institutions (in particular the armed forces and police) that enforce its rule, here and throughout the world, with the most massive and heinous atrocity. Whatever his intention, this is what Rudd is actually doing.

As I have emphasized:

Certain government concessions to the fight against injustice—for example, civil rights legislation; DACA, which granted temporary legal status to some immigrants brought here as children; court decisions establishing the right to abortion and gay marriage—were hard‑fought victories, but the problem is that they are, and can only be, partial victories, dealing with only some aspects of oppression under this system, but not eliminating the oppression as a whole, or the source of this oppression—which is the system itself. And even where such partial victories are won, so long as this system remains in power, there will be powerful forces who will move to attack and undermine, and seek to reverse, even these partial gains.2

Rudd has not only reversed himself on what was essentially right (and righteous) in his stand during the 1960s—his hatred for and opposition to this system itself—as well as what was very wrong in where that hatred led him (embracing, if not himself actually carrying out, infantile acts of violence divorced from the revolutionary struggle of masses of people). He has even gone so far as to trivialize what is represented by “the far right.” Speaking of its inclination to violence, he says this:

Oddly, I get it: Take away the white supremacy and leave the pain, and it’s not that different from my friends and me 50 years ago.

Yes, it is definitely different—there is a profound difference! Without ignoring the very real problems with the orientation and actions of the Weather Undergroundthere is no similarity, and definitely no equivalence, between the righteous but misguided hatred for the criminal nature and atrocities of this system, which drove the Weather Underground to a kind of madness, and, on the other hand, the violent fanaticism of fascists who are determined to fortify and carry to extreme dimensions every form of vicious oppression and depraved atrocity that is required by this system. Rudd’s comments here fall in with the trend of lending a certain “legitimacy” to what is not just a “far right,” in some vague sense, but a definite fascist force, involving a powerful section of the ruling class, embodied in the Republican Party, and in particular now the Trump/Pence regime, and a significant segment of society which is the hard core “base” of that Party.

White supremacy is not something that is incidental to, but is at the heart of, this fascism—and it cannot simply be discounted (“taken away”) but must be fully recognized for what it is and forcefully struggled against.

Rudd’s expressions of empathy for these fascists include the statement that they “have grievances about the slipping away of what they have always seen as ‘their country.’” But what, really, are those grievances and what is it that they have always seen as “their country” which they want to “make great again”?

As I have pointed out:

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.3

And here it is worth citing important insights from the African-American theologian Hubert Locke, who points particularly to the Christian fundamentalists, who are a driving force in this fascism:

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.4

Rudd even goes so far as to declare that everyone in this country is “in this together.” Apparently, it is not enough for Rudd that he has “made his peace” with this violently oppressive system; he goes so far as insist that common cause must be found with those—fascists—who want to give the most extreme and grotesque expressions to the crimes that are built into this system.

The Basis and the Forces for Revolution

Speaking to the orientation of himself and the others in the Weather Underground in the late 1960s/early 1970s, Rudd characterizes their outlook as one of “clinging to the delusion that violent revolution was imminent.” Among other things, here Rudd is continuing with his portrayal of false dichotomies: He is “negating” the false assumption of the Weather Underground at that time that a revolution could be set off by a small group engaging in acts of violence divorced from, and objectively posed in opposition to, the struggle of masses of people, by now putting forward the false, and certainly no less harmful, declaration that an actual revolution is neither possible nor really desirable. In reality, the question of whether an actual revolution might have been possible in this country at the height of the mass upsurge of the late 1960s/early 1970s, is a serious and complex matter, and not something that should be treated in the irresponsible way that Rudd does, with this dismissal of this question with the facile and fatuous phrase “the delusion that violent revolution was imminent.”

An actual revolution requires two essential factors: a revolutionary situation, and a revolutionary people in their millions. And these two factors are closely interconnected. A revolutionary situation involves not just a crisis in society in some general sense but a situation where the system and its ruling powers are in a profound and acute crisis and millions and millions of people refuse to be ruled in the old way—and are willing and determined to put everything on the line to bring down this system and bring into being a new society and government. Key components and signs of a revolutionary crisis are that the violence used to enforce this system is seen by large parts of society for what it is—murderous and illegitimate—and that the conflicts among the ruling forces become really deep and sharp, and masses of people respond to this not by falling in behind one side or the other of the oppressive rulers, but by taking advantage of this situation to build up the forces for revolution.5

At the high point of the radical upsurge of the 1960s/early 1970s, there were definite elements of the necessary factors for revolution: there was a very real and deepening political crisis for the ruling class, and there were masses of revolutionary-minded people. This is an undeniable truth:

By 1968 and for several years after, there were large numbers of people in this country, including millions of youth from the middle class as well as masses of poor and oppressed people, who were motivated by a thoroughly justified hatred of this system and aspirations for a radically different and better world—and this reached deeply into the system’s own armed forces—even if the understanding of most was marked by revolutionary sentiment which, while righteous, was lacking in any deep and consistent scientific basis.6

But the situation had not yet developed (and, as things unfolded, it did not develop) into an all-out revolutionary crisis; and the revolutionary forces at that time were not clear on and not united around a strategic approach that could have cohered the widespread revolutionary sentiment into an organized force capable of waging a real revolutionary fight to defeat and dismantle the violent forces of repression of the ruling capitalist-imperialist system. As I have summed up:

the real failure of that time was that there was not yet a revolutionary vanguard with that scientific foundation and method, and the orientation, strategy, and program that could give organized expression to the mass revolutionary sentiment and lead a real attempt at actually making revolution.7

The radical upsurge of the 1960s in this country was in turn part of a broader wave of struggle and transformation that was taking place throughout the world, and was driven and inspired to a large degree by the struggles, throughout the Third World of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, to throw off the yoke of colonial oppression—and beyond that the existence of a revolutionary socialist state in China and the mass revolutionary movement of the Cultural Revolution in that country, involving hundreds of millions in the struggle to defeat attempts to restore capitalism in China and, in opposition to that, to continue and deepen the socialist revolution there and support revolutionary struggles throughout the world. But, as I have analyzed, including in recent works such as Breakthroughs and Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis, that upsurge ran into certain limitations as well as powerful opposing forces, and it ebbed, not just in one or another country but as a worldwide phenomenon.8 And since that time there have been profound changes in the world, many of them negative: Capitalism has been restored in China; in the Soviet Union, where capitalism had already been restored in the 1950s but the ruling class there continued for some time to present itself as a bastion of socialism, this deception was finally abandoned as the Soviet Union itself imploded, leading to the open emergence of capitalism throughout the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; and the forces leading liberation struggles in the Third World have either been defeated or transformed into bourgeois ruling forces acting in concert with and essentially as appendages of international capital and the imperialist system. Within this country itself, in the context of this changing international situation, and through a combination of repression and the building up of middle class strata among the oppressed, along with the heightening parasitism of this system, feeding off the super-exploitation of billions of people, particularly in the Third World, over several decades there has been an increasingly deadening political atmosphere and culture and an orientation on the part of most of the forces seeking social change to restrict themselves to the limits of the existing oppressive and exploitative system and its BEB (Bourgeois Electoral Bullshit), as we have very rightly characterized it. And all this has been accompanied by a relentless ideological assault, by the ruling forces of this system and their media mouthpieces and intellectual accomplices—an assault on communism, and indeed on every positive aspect of the radical 1960s upsurge—an assault to which Mark Rudd is making his own modest contribution.

But the fact is that, with all these changes, the basis and the need for a scientifically led communist revolution has not disappeared, or diminished, but become all the more pronounced and urgently required. And not all of us who were brought forward through that great upsurge of the 1960s have abandoned the goal of radically transforming society toward the goal of a world without exploitation and oppression and the massive violence that enforces it, and the need and possibility for communist revolution as the means for achieving this. Over what I have very rightly referred to as the “terrible decades” of recent times, some of us have persevered through the very real difficulties in working toward the achievement of that revolution and have deepened our scientific understanding of how that revolution must and can be carried out. Particularly through the work I have done over these decades, there is now a new communism, which is a continuation of, but also represents a qualitative leap beyond, and in some important ways a break with, communist theory as it had been previously developed and which has put communism on an even more consistently scientific basis, providing the strategy and leadership for an actual revolution and a radically new society on the road to real emancipation.9

In the course of the 1960s upsurge, those who became convinced of the need for radical change went about seeking that change “like peasants going off to war” taking up whatever weapons were at hand (to invoke a formulation by Lenin, who led the 1917 Russian Revolution and also made invaluable contributions to the development of communist theory). This became true, in a real and more literal sense, of the Weather Underground; but it was true metaphorically for some others of us—in the sense that we took up the existing theory of the communist movement at that time. This led us, correctly, to the understanding that a revolution must involve, and could only be made by, the organized struggle of masses, of millions, of people, and not by a small group isolated from those masses. But it also led us to adopt what was becoming an incorrect, outmoded concept—that, while serious attention and effort must be devoted to the fight against the oppression of Black people and other minority nationalities, and of women, and other major social questions, the main force for revolution was not just the working class in a general sense but more specifically the workers in large-scale industry—who in fact, in this country in particular, had become to a significant degree “bourgeoisified” from the parasitic spoils of imperialist domination and super-exploitation particularly in the Third World. (As a matter of fact, some of the younger workers in this situation responded favorably to the revolutionary work we were carrying out—marred and limited as it was by some misconception of the revolutionary process and by definite tendencies to economism, the attempt to build a movement for socialist revolution by centering it on and unfolding it around the more immediate economic demands of these workers. But the positive response of those younger workers actually had more to do with the influence of the radical youth culture of that time than it did with the approach of combining economism with general appeals to revolution.)

As has been emphasized here, there have been major changes in this country and in the world overall since that time, decades ago now—and the development of the new communism has involved, as one of its most important aspects, continuing to apply a scientific analysis to the decisive questions of the basis, the strategy and the forces for revolution—something that is spoken to in works of mine such as the book The New Communism10 and Breakthroughs, where the point is made that the backbone forces for revolution will come principally from among the tens of millions—particularly those concentrated in the inner cities, but others as well—who are subjected to savage oppression and brutal repression under this system, while it is also stressed that this revolution must involve a broad uniting of diverse social forces, especially youth and students but others as well among the middle strata, and that this must be led by a solid core of thousands and thousands, firmly grounded in the science of communism, as it has been further developed with the new communism. And I am continuing to grapple with the application of a scientific method and approach to the problems of the revolution, in this country but even more fundamentally in terms of the overall struggle toward the achievement of communism throughout the world.

In terms of the basis for revolution, the new communism emphasizes this very important understanding that is spoken to in a concentrated way in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.

The basis for revolution lies not in what people are thinking or doing at any given time, but resides in the fundamental relations and contradictions of the system which cause tremendous suffering but which are unresolvable under this system. (From Hope for Humanity On A Scientific Basis: Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism)

And “Why We Need...How We Can...” focuses on these important questions:

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

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

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

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

Why is the environment of our planet being destroyed?

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

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

Why is this the state of humanity?

And it provides this scientifically grounded answer:

There is one fundamental reason: the basic nature of the system of capitalism‑imperialism that we live under and the way, because of its very nature, it continually perpetrates horror after horror. And, 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—ormake revolution!

Can Mark Rudd (or anyone else) make the case that all this—putting an end to these “5 STOPS” and to the horrific conditions that the masses of humanity are subjected to under the domination of this system of capitalism-imperialism—can be achieved through reforms within the confines of this system and without the revolutionary overthrow of this system (or is the argument that the best that can be hoped for is that all this will continue, but with—what objectively amounts to—minor mitigation)? No!—the emancipation of humanity from all this is profoundly and ever more urgently necessary, and the possibility of a radically different and far better future demands and requires a real revolution and the advance of humanity beyond this system, with the achievement of communism throughout the world. That this will be difficult to achieve and will require monumental, arduous and self-sacrificing struggle on the part of millions, and ultimately billions, of people, is something that no serious person—and certainly no one basing themself on the scientific method and approach of the new communism—would deny. But a scientific analysis leads to the definite conclusion that this is as necessary as it is difficult—and that it is possible (not certain, and certainly not inevitable—but possible). And all those who refuse to accept the world as it is under the domination of the capitalist-imperialist system, all the unnecessary suffering this imposes on the masses of humanity and the very real existential threat it poses to humanity itself, should dedicate themselves to contributing to this revolution.

In fundamental terms there is a unity between the former infantile, essentially terrorist position that was held by the likes of Mark Rudd at a certain point and the reformist accommodation to this monstrous system which Rudd now promotes. What unifies these two seemingly opposite “political poles” is their common opposition to an actual revolution, carried out through the organized struggle of millions of people determined to overthrow the existing oppressive system and bring a much better system into being. And, in terms of epistemology (the approach to understanding reality), what underlies this unity of errors is the unscientific—or, fundamentally, anti-scientific—method and approach that characterizes both the orientation of something like the Weather Underground and the reformism into which far too many, including Mark Rudd, have allowed themselves to descend.

 


1. In his memoir, From Ike to Mao and BeyondMy Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist, Bob Avakian recounts his own approach and efforts, as well as that of others, in struggling with soldiers and veterans of the U.S. military to win them to oppose, and lend their support to the movement of opposition to, the Vietnam war.  [back]

2. Bob Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution. The text and video of this speech are available at revcom.us.  [back]

3. 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 this speech by Bob Avakian is available at revcom.us.  [back]

4. “Reflections on Pacific School of Religion's Response to the Religious Right,” by Dr. Hubert Locke, also available at revcom.us.  [back]

5. This characterization of a revolutionary situation is drawn from HOW WE CAN WIN, How We Can Really Make Revolution (a statement from the Revolutionary Communist Party), which is cited in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolutionboth available at revcom.us.  [back]

6. Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.  [back]

7. Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.  [back]

8. Breakthroughs: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary; Hope For Humanity On A Scientific Basis, Breaking with Individualism, Parasitism and American Chauvinism. These works by Bob Avakian are available at revcom.us.  [back]

9. The strategy for revolution is spelled out in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution; and a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a radically different society is contained in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian. The text of the Constitution, and video and the text of Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, are available at revcom.us.  [back]

10. THE NEW COMMUNISM, The science, the strategy, the leadership for an actual revolution, and a radically new society on the road to real emancipationInsight Press, 2016.  [back]

 

Read more
Updated prepublication PDF, November, 2019
Read or download (searchable PDF)

See also:

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

Read more

 

 

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

 

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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/638/to-those-black-people-who-are-voting-for-joe-biden-en.html

BOB AVAKIAN

TO THOSE BLACK PEOPLE WHO ARE VOTING FOR JOE BIDEN:

| revcom.us

 

Congratulations.  

You are supporting someone (Joe Biden) who started his campaign for president by bragging about his history of finding common ground with white supremacist southern segregationists and saying this was proof he could “bring the country together!” 

White supremacy and white supremacist violence has become more blatant with Trump, but this has always been part of this system—and in fact it is built into this system.  That is why, as I have pointed out, despite the false hopes people had with Barack Obama as “the first Black president” (and Joe Biden as vice president):

In reality, while perhaps more Black faces were found in high places, and while some Black cultural figures were courted by the Obamas, the situation for the masses of Black people—including the hundreds murdered by police each year and the overall police terror directed against Black people and other oppressed people—did not change for the better during the Obama presidency.*

So it is with this system, and so it will be as long as this system remains in power and in effect. Putting an end to this can never be done by getting behind someone like Joe Biden, who for a long time has been a big-time representative and functionary of this criminal system and now wants to become the criminal-in-chief.

 


* “Bargains With the Devil—Trump Fascism, ‘Obamanation,’ and the System They Serve.”  This article is available at revcom.us. [back]

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/638/lynching-murder-by-police-damn-this-whole-system-we-dont-have-to-live-this-way-en.html

LYNCHING, MURDER BY POLICE—
DAMN THIS WHOLE SYSTEM!
WE DON'T HAVE TO LIVE THIS WAY!

By Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

I see that the House of Representatives has passed a bill making lynching a federal hate crime (although it remains to be seen whether the Senate will go along with this and Trump will sign it into law). When thousands of Black people were lynched during the long years of Jim Crow segregation after the Civil War, the government of this “great democracy” repeatedly refused to pass a bill like this (and heroes of the “liberals” and “progressives” like former president Franklin Delano Roosevelt refused to push for such a bill when lynching was at its height in the 1930s).  But now—oh, yes now, when lynching has been replaced by police brutality and murder as the main way Black youth, and all Black people, are subjected to continual terror—now, the House passes a bill against... lynching!  The fact is that, since the 1960s, more Black people have been killed by police than all those who were lynched during the whole time of Jim Crow segregation and Ku Klux Klan terror.  And almost never are the police held accountable for this: almost never are they even indicted and tried; and when they are put on trial, very rarely are they convicted and sentenced in accordance with the severity of the crime—murder—they have actually committed.

As I pointed out in the 2003 “Revolution” talk,1 it is a bitter truth—and a damning testament to the actual nature of the system in this country—that every Black male growing up in the South during Jim Crow had a reasonable fear of being lynched; and today, with hundreds of Black people (and other oppressed people) murdered by police every year, and Black people as a whole subjected to systematic terror through things like “stop and frisk,” it is equally true that all young Black males (and this is increasingly true of females as well) are forced to go through life in this country with the constant fear of being subjected to harassment, brutality and even outright murder by the police.  But don’t waste time waiting for the government to pass a bill making police brutality and murder a hate crime!

All this brutality and terror is built into this system in this country, and this system could not exist without it. As long as this system is in power and in effect, all this will go on... and on... and on.

But we can very well exist without this system.  In fact, we can live in a radically different and much better world once this system has been swept away through the mass revolutionary action of the masses of people who are constantly subjected to, and all those who refuse to accept, the very real horrors continually perpetrated by this system, here and all over the world.

As I have said before:

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!

One last thing.  For those—whether outright racists or people who have allowed themselves to take up the thinking of racists—who try to dismiss outrage about police murder of Black people by talking about how more Black people are killed by other Black people than by anyone else (including police): As I have emphasized in a number of talks and writings,2 this, too, is caused by this systemit is the system “working on” people, confining masses of Black people in conditions of deprivation, degradation and hopelessness, and continually pumping at them the “dog eat dog” mentality that fuels this cut-throat system of exploitation and oppression, from top to bottom.  All of this leads so many to deadly dead-ends, the madness of prison life, an early death—all for no good reasonBut all this too can be radically transformed through a revolution whose aim is nothing less than abolishing and uprooting this foul system and bringing a much better system into being. 

And for those who say this can never happen, the fact is that we have a developed strategy for how this revolution can actually be made, and a sweeping vision and concrete blueprint for a radically different society whose goal and purpose is to put an end to all the ways in which this system we now live under causes people to suffer so terribly and so unnecessarily.3

 


1. Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About, a film of a talk by Bob Avakian (2003).  This film—which includes the very relevant and powerful sections “They’re Selling Postcards of the Hanging” and “Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black People Lived Under a Death Sentence”—is available at revcom.us. [back]

2. This includes the very important article “More on Choices...And Radical Changes,” also available at revcom.us, which consists of comments by Bob Avakian that were part of a discussion with people that went deeply into the questions of why people oppressed under this system often get caught up in things like crime, who and what is fundamentally to blame for this, and what is the way forward out of this situation. [back]

3. This strategy is spelled out in Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution, a speech by Bob Avakian; and the vision and blueprint for a radically different society is contained in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian.  The text of the Constitution and video and the text of this speech are available at revcom.us. [back]

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/639/the-rnl-show-revolution-nothing-less-en.html

Launching Wednesday, March 25:

The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less!

| revcom.us

 

The RNL Show is a new weekly YouTube show rooted in the new communism forged by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian and launching Wednesday, March 25. It will be hosted by Andy Zee along with other members of the Revolution Tour. The world is a nightmare for the masses of people worldwide, but it doesn’t have to be. Revolution and a whole better world IS possible.

Watch the promo video to the left or here, subscribe to the YouTube channel, leave a comment, and spread the word all over social media to help extend the reach of this launch.

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/640/the-corona-virus-and-the-attacks-on-immigrants-we-need-a-revolution-en.html

Communique #3 from the Revcoms

The Coronavirus and the Attacks on Immigrants: We Need a Revolution!

| revcom.us

 

Centuries ago, the Europeans who first invaded this continent brought with them diseases like smallpox. The Europeans had built up immunity to these diseases over many centuries. This meant that epidemics would occur and kill people, but many survived.

But the people who lived here—the Native American Indians—had not yet encountered these viruses. As a result, as many as nine out of 10 of them died when they came into contact with the Europeans.The invaders claimed this was proof that “god was on their side.” This genocide—along with the enslavement and centuries-long exploitation and oppression of African-Americans—was one of the founding crimes of America.

Today, the U.S. government is following in the footsteps of “their forefathers.” They are taking actions that will make the impact of a disease much more deadly against a people that they want “out of the way.” The disease is the novel coronavirus. The people are those immigrants who have committed the “crime” of coming to this country seeking safe haven from political persecution or economic immiseration. In a bitter irony, many of those being attacked are the descendants of the Native peoples who did survive the guns and germs of the European invaders.

ICE (the immigration police) has been rounding people up for months—arresting fathers as they take their daughters to school, beating and tasing bystanders who ask what is going on, raiding workplaces with SWAT teams, etc. They are running the streets of immigrant neighborhoods like they are Hitler’s Gestapo. Neighborhoods in which people are already terrorized by fear of deportation... already exploited in rotten jobs with the worst pay, no health insurance, and unhealthy housing... already demonized and threatened by MAGA-fascists whenever they show their face “where they shouldn’t be.”

Then ICE locks the people they snatch into detention centers where the conditions are inhumane and diseases are left to breed. Forty thousand people a day are caged in these pens. Now with the coronavirus making things even worse, over 3,000 medical professionals released a letter last week demanding the release of individuals and families from these hellholes. The medical professionals pointed to:

often crowded and unsanitary conditions, poor ventilation, lack of adequate access to hygienic materials such as soap and water or hand sanitizers, poor nutrition, and failure to adhere to recognized standards for prevention, screening, and containment. The frequent transfer of individuals from one detention facility to another, and intake of newly detained individuals from the community further complicates the prevention and detection of infectious disease outbreaks....

For these reasons, transmission of infectious diseases in jails and prisons is incredibly common, especially those transmitted by respiratory droplets....

ICE then made headlines by claiming in March that they were going to seek alternatives to detention and only make arrests that were “mission-sensitive.” This made headlines. What did NOT make headlines was the announcement the very next day when ICE announced that, in fact, it would “continue to prioritize arresting and removing criminal aliens and other aliens who pose a threat to public safety, just as it always has during President @realDonaldTrump’s administration.”

“Just as it always has” means that they are continuing to round people up. “Just as it always has” means that the subhuman murderous conditions protested by the medical professionals will continue. “Just as it always has” means that the unbearable, indeed genocidal, oppression continues.

This pandemic has not stopped Trump from hounding, harassing, and now sentencing the immigrants to death through the use of ICE. It must not stop us from standing with the immigrants to STOP this.

This persecution is outrageous—and it is totally unnecessary. There’s an entirely different way that we could be living. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, takes this stand:

The orientation of the New Socialist Republic in North America is to welcome immigrants from all over the world who have a sincere desire to contribute to the goals and objectives of this Republic, as set forth in this Constitution and in laws and policies which are established and enacted in accordance with this Constitution. [Go to www.revcom.us to read full thing.]

The world outlined by this Constitution is possible—but it will take a revolution, nothing less. We have the science, the strategy, and the leadership in Bob Avakian for this revolution. What is needed is you—your ideas, your spirit, your resources, and your activity. A first step: spreading the word of this, including through reposting this communiqué. And let us know what is happening...

Los Angeles:

With space for contact info:

For more about the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour click HERE

See also:

The Coronavirus Pandemic
— A Resource Page

Including:

  • Revcom Communiques
  • Interview with Lenny Wolff
  • An Overall Orientation: Thoughts from a Reader
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Read more

Migrants in Greece wait to board a ferry to a detention center in Turkey. March 20, 2020. (Photo: AP)

People seeking asylum wearing masks to a mandatory immigration court hearing in El Paso, Texas, March 16, 2020. (Photo: AP)

 

 

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

 

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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/639/the-coronavirus-and-the-savage-inequalities-of-america-en.html

Communique #2 from the Revcoms

The Coronavirus... and the Savage Inequalities of America

| revcom.us

 

The coronavirus puts everyone in danger. Yet the way this disease comes down echoes the howling inequalities and intense forms of oppression that run through the heart of U.S. society.

On March 18, two months into the crisis, an aid bill was finally passed. Who gets what aid and when they will get it is still unclear, and we will cover this next week as that becomes clear.

But even if every single person in the U.S. got an equal share—which will NOT happen—death, disability and hardship will still hit some sections of people far harder. Nearly half the people in this country live paycheck to paycheck. Over 40 million people routinely go hungry, including at least 6 million children. Because of the historic and present-day bitter oppression on which America is based, 1 out of 5 Black, Latino or Native American people live in poverty. 27.5 million Americans lack health insurance, and another 45 million are underinsured. Poor people are 10% likelier to have a chronic health condition like diabetes, or heart disease. Such chronic conditions make the coronavirus up to 10 times as deadly if you get the disease.

The virus has already hit the prisons, and the homeless encampments. It is hitting the immigrants and their children locked up in detention centers, where conditions are horrible and there are few doctors and nurses (a situation we will cover in a coming communiqué). Once the virus is into the prisons, detention centers and juvie homes, what will happen in these overcrowded, understaffed hellholes? Hellholes that hold over 2 million people? How many will suddenly have what will be in fact “death sentences”?

It is important to take this pandemic very seriously. That means we have to take care of ourselves—washing hands, keeping our distances and not being in large groups, isolating ourselves if we get sick, and other things (go to www.revcom.us to find out more dos and don’ts).

But we also have to ask: why, when disaster strikes, must the savage inequalities and forms of oppression built into this society disproportionately determine so much of who lives and who dies, who gets treated and who doesn’t, who ends up in a seriously worse situation and who is able to “make it through” in decent shape?

And why do we even have these savage inequalities and oppression at all?

There is one fundamental reason: the nature of the system we live under—capitalism-imperialism. And as Bob Avakian, the most important political thinker and leader in the world today, has said: “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!” Bob Avakian has further developed the science of revolution, and he connects this to the people. He’s brought forward a strategy, a vision of the future, and a morality to get to a whole different world. We DON’T have to live like this. We CAN make revolution.

The National Tour to Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution is organizing to do that. Find out more about this revolution, and its leadership, Bob Avakian. As you do so, take part in getting out the materials now that can let people know what’s really going on: how to understand it, and how to deal with it. Come to www.revcom.us to find out more about the revolution, and about the coronavirus crisis.

For more about the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour click HERE

See also:

An Overall Orientation:
Thoughts from a Reader on the Coronavirus COVID-19 Epidemic

Read more

The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page

Including:

  • What is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease, and where did it come from?
  • What happens to people if they are infected with the coronavirus?
  • and more...

Read more

Model of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.

 

 

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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/639/real-truth-on-the-coronavirus-what-it-is-and-how-to-confront-it-en.html

Communique #1 from the Revcoms:

Real Truth on the Coronavirus: What It Is and How to Confront It

| revcom.us

 

There is a lot of confusion about the coronavirus. There is misleading information coming from people in power, especially Trump. Yet this will be a life-and-death question for tens of thousands of people, and very likely more. This is a novel (new) virus for which there is currently no cure, vaccine and immunity, and the World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic—which means it is all over the world.

So getting to the truth on this is urgent.

What Is the Coronavirus That Causes COVID-19? How Dangerous Is This Virus?

Most researchers currently believe it came from a virus found in animals that “jumped” to humans. This is a common way that new diseases arise in humans. The first known cases, and where it initially rapidly spread was in Wuhan, China.

The virus is highly contagious, i.e., spreads very easily from an infected person to others, even if the ill person is not showing symptoms. It gets spread through contact with people who have it, through surfaces they have touched or sneezed on, and in other ways.

For most, this illness may be relatively mild—though they can still be infectious and spread to others. But for some people, the virus can cause death or do real harm—especially, but not only, to older people and those who are immune-compromised and with existing respiratory (breathing) illnesses. Those severely ill will need oxygen, ventilators and hospitalization. This will strain existing capacity and incur great expense under this system. Rates of mortality—those who actually die—are very high among those severely ill or hospitalized, in ranges of 10-20% depending on quality of health care. This might not seem like much. When you multiply this out by the tens of millions worldwide who could possibly get sick if the virus is not contained, this poses a great danger—and deaths in the tens or hundreds of thousands to possibly millions in a short time. We are at just the beginning of this pandemic.

Because this virus is potentially so dangerous and so catchable, almost every society is taking measures to limit its spread. In the U.S., cities and businesses are cancelling conferences and basketball games, and sending students home from school. It is important to take action and much of what is being done makes sense.

A Natural Disaster in a System of Savage Inequalities

But what priorities are set and how they impact different sections of people are determined by the system people live under, and what serves that system. In the U.S., we all live under a system built on and full of “savage inequalities.” That system has a name: capitalism-imperialism. Its economy is based on ruthless exploitation and dog-eat-dog competition among the capitalists themselves. The system maintains its power through massive machinery of repression, and through misleading and dividing people. The outlook it drums into people—and requires—is “look out for number one.” Because of all this, rotten health care for the masses is a major problem in this society. And all this plays out in really ugly ways when there is a disaster in society.

To be clear, this virus will reach every corner of society. At the same time, it will almost certainly hit some harder than others. It will hit the elderly everywhere. And when you look at this country, you can almost be sure that this will come down especially hard on Black people and Latinos and Native American Indians... the immigrants... the millions in prison... the millions more who live on the streets and the shelters, or in their cars... the poor and all those who live paycheck to paycheck...

And you can also guess that as this disease hits those parts of the world—Africa, Asia and Latin America—that these imperialists have plundered and held down for centuries, the imperialists will only give them the most pitiful aid, if they give them any at all. What kind of society is this?

Trump and Pence Are Making This Even Worse

Right now, the fascists who are in power—Trump, Pence and the others—are making this even worse. They suppressed and denied the science on this for months, claiming it was a hoax against Trump. They are using it to further whip up hatred against people in other countries—such as Trump saying this is a “foreign” virus. For weeks they have refused to widely test people and only under massive pressure began to promise that they would.

Meanwhile, as the disease spreads, we may face an acute shortage of hospitals and needed medical equipment, a shortage of medical professionals and health workers, and so on. It is very possible that the Trump/Pence regime will use these hardships and the fear that people have of the disease to unleash even more hatred and repression against immigrants, the homeless, and their other targets. We must be prepared to stand with those who fight for decent care and defend our brothers and sisters.

Things Don’t Have to Be This Way

But ask yourself this: Why can’t we have a society in which production was organized to meet the needs of the people? Why can’t we live in a system which moves to break down and heal the scars of oppression for real, instead of reinforcing them, whether openly or through deception? Why can’t we live in a world in which the divisions between people all over the world were being broken down and overcome and we move to a world community of human beings? A world in which natural disasters were times for people to pull together, where the new revolutionary power worked to involve everyone in understanding the problem and figuring out together how to overcome it?

We could. But there needs to be an ACTUAL revolution—overthrowing this system and replacing it with a radically different and far better system and society—for that to happen.

We—the Revolution Club and the National Tour To Get Organized For An ACTUAL Revolution—are about making a revolution, at the soonest possible time. We can do this—there is the leadership for this in Bob Avakian, there is the strategy he’s developed to overcome this system and sweep it away, and there is the blueprint and vision for a whole new society—the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, that Bob Avakian authored.

We are getting out this communiqué as one part of preparing for that revolution. Help get this out to others... let us know what comes up when you do and what needs to be investigated and spoken to... be part of this movement. And learn more about this movement for an actual revolution at www.revcom.us.

For more about the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour click here

Model of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.

 

 

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

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/639/coronavirus-what-we-know-what-we-dont-know-en.html

| revcom.us

 

This is the interactive Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases Chart from the Coronavirus Resource Center, Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

Communiques from the Revcoms

Communique #3:

The Coronavirus and the Attacks on Immigrants:
We Need a Revolution!

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Communique #2 from the Revcoms

The Coronavirus... and the Savage Inequalities of America

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Communique #1 from the Revcoms:

Real Truth on the Coronavirus: What It Is and How to Confront It

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On The Michael Slate Show:

Lenny Wolff of the Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour, on the Coronavirus, A Natural Disaster in a System of Savage Inequalities: Capitalism-Imperialism

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On The Michael Slate Show:

Eunice Cho, ACLU Attorney, on the Brutal Detention of Hundreds of Thousands of Immigrants:

“History will not look at us kindly if we allow this sort of rights violation to continue”

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An Overall Orientation:
Thoughts from a Reader on the Coronavirus COVID-19 Epidemic

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The Coronavirus Pandemic: Frequently Asked Questions—
A Resource Page (Updated March 22, 2020)

Editors' Note: COVID-19, the disease caused by a new coronavirus, is rapidly spreading through the world (now in over 150 countries), and confirmed cases are mushrooming in the U.S. This pandemic is interacting with the state of the world and the gross inequalities and oppressive social relations of capitalism-imperialism (see "Thoughts from a Reader on the Coronavirus COVID-19 Epidemic"), and it has the potential to have a huge impact on human society as a whole and in individual countries, well beyond even what is happening now.

This is a Special Resource Page starting with an overall orientation and Q&A that addresses the basics—as far as we understand at this point—on what the disease is, what to expect, and what can be done. As is expected with a novel—new—virus, not seen before in humans, and this still being relatively early stages of what is a global pandemic, a lot of what we know and the statistics are very much in flux, and we will strive to update this page as consensus emerges among epidemiologists, public health professionals, and in leading organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO).

We invite readers to send correspondence and suggestions, to volunteer and help maintain and update this page at this crucial juncture.

Printable PDFs of these Q&As:

 

What is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease, and where did it come from?

The new coronavirus is one of a large family of viruses, including those that cause the common cold as well as the one that caused the deadly 2002-3 SARS epidemic. Humans are not known to have contracted this virus before November 2019, which is important because it means we have no natural immunity to it and no vaccines or treatments now or expected soon.

Most scientists currently believe that this coronavirus existed among animals in some closely related form and that some small mutation made it possible for humans to catch it. This is a common pattern for the emergence of new diseases throughout human history.

In recent decades, such diseases have become more frequent and widespread, with new ones cropping up periodically—SARS in 2002, bird (avian) flu (repeated outbreaks since 2004), swine flu (H1N1) in 2009, and others. One reason this is happening more is that human society is encroaching on animal habitats, so there is closer contact between species. Another is that the world is highly interconnected. Unlike 200 years ago, a person who contracts a new virus today may easily travel thousands of miles, spreading the virus before they even know they are infected.

An important point here is that because this coronavirus in humans was first observed only about three months ago, there is still a lot that scientists don’t know, or don’t have great certainty or accuracy about. And some aspects of what we think we know now may turn out to be incorrect later.


A model of the Coronavirus COVID-19.

 


 

What happens to people if they are infected with the coronavirus?

As we understand right now, COVID-19 starts in the upper respiratory system. For an average of five days after infection, patients have no symptoms, but scientists believe they can spread the disease at this stage. Symptoms usually start fairly mild—commonly a fever, dry cough, and fatigue. And again, in this stage many people continue to go about their lives, visiting friends and family—and spreading the disease. (Many infected people may have no symptoms, but can still spread the disease to others.)

After this, particularly if the person’s immune system is not strong, the infection moves into the lungs and potentially causes pneumonia. If the pneumonia becomes severe, people will need assistance breathing—oxygen, ventilators, and other medical interventions.1 If they don’t get this help, they may die, and a significant number of people who reach this stage die even with proper medical help.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 80 percent of confirmed cases—those who test positive for the virus—experience “mild to moderate” symptoms, lasting a week or more, that can range from symptoms similar to influenza to a pneumonia that is not bad enough to require hospitalization. They then recover, though some may experience long-term respiratory problems. The other 20 percent will have a more severe pneumonia marked by difficulty breathing that requires hospitalization. Of those hospitalized, as many as one in four may require intensive care unit (ICU) treatment, often needing ventilators—complex machines that force air into the lungs of people who cannot breathe effectively on their own.2

So it is currently estimated that up to 20 percent of confirmed cases require life-saving care that only hospitals can provide.

In terms of fatalities or deaths from COVID-19, it varies by the age of the person who gets it. The older you are, the more dangerous it is. It is estimated that around one person out of 100 in their 50s, and about 18 out of 100 people over 80, will die from it.3

The estimated death rates for different age groups are based on the data from the first outbreak in China, but it is not clear if data from outbreaks in other countries breaks down in exactly the same way. But we can say that older people are the most at risk, but that for all adults this can be a very dangerous diseases⏤the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on March 18 that nearly 40 percent of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 were between 20 and 54 years old.

Along with age, a major factor in mortality is the health of the patient. People with conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or serious lung disease or whose immune systems are compromised (like people with HIV/AIDS or people taking drugs that suppress their immune systems as part of cancer treatments) are more likely to die than people in their age group who do not have these conditions.

Another big factor influencing death rates is not the health of the individual, but the functioning of the society as a whole. If everybody who is seriously ill with COVID-19 receives the needed medical interventions, death rates drop dramatically. For instance, in the early stages of the epidemic in China, the city of Wuhan was hit hard and suddenly, hospitals were overwhelmed, physicians did not know how to treat it, and the death rate was 5.8 per hundred people. But its spread in other parts of China was much slower, health care systems were not overwhelmed, and the death rate plummeted to about nine per thousand infected people.4

Because of all these variables, combined with the fact that—because of insufficient testing—we don’t know how many people have the disease to begin with, it is hard to state with any certainty what the death rate has been, or what it will be. Estimates run as high as 3.4 percent and as low as 0.2 percent. But as a rough guide, most experts are currently using a figure of 1 percent—one death per a hundred people infected.


Indian doctor walks past patients waiting to get examined for coronavirus symptoms at a free screening camp at a government run hospital in New Delhi, India. Photo: AP


The threat of the coronavirus has contributed to the great chaos that travel, especially international travel, has become. Here passengers at O'Hare Airport waited for up to 6 hours to get their luggage, and another 2 to 4 hours to get through customs. Photo: Twitter

Since most people don't get seriously ill, why is COVID-19 so dangerous? Why take such drastic measures like shutting down sporting events, businesses and meetings, even whole countries?

First, COVID-19 spreads very rapidly. Scientists estimate that every infected person will infect between two and three other people. If one person infects three people, then those three people infect nine people, and then those nine people infect 27, and so on. This is one reason we saw the number of confirmed U.S. cases go from about 500 on March 8 to over 3,000 cases just one week later—an increase of 600 percent! The other reason for this is an increase in testing, meaning that more of the existing cases are actually being counted.

And because there are no natural immunities and currently no vaccine, everybody on the planet is potentially susceptible to this disease. If no significant measures were taken, epidemiologists estimate up to 70 percent of the world’s population would be at risk (or 5 billion people!)—and at currently estimated death rates, this could mean roughly 25-50 million deaths worldwide in a short period of time.

As a warning of the danger and to get a sense of the potential scope of the disease, in 1918 an influenza epidemic (the so-called “Spanish flu”) killed an estimated 50 million people around the world—and the world’s population was much smaller at that time.

This brings us to the second problem, which is the speed at which COVID-19 is spreading, coupled with the high percentage of patients who require hospitalization and advanced care and equipment.

Health care systems around the world—especially in poor countries, but even in wealthy countries like the U.S.—have nowhere near the capacity to deal with a sudden potential influx of hundreds of thousands of patients. For instance, the U.S. has less than a million hospital beds and 45,000 ICU beds total, and these were almost all in use before this pandemic.

In some possible scenarios, even with basic measures of containment and mitigation, COVID-19 may send millions to the hospitals, with significant proportions requiring ICU (intensive care unit) treatment, ventilators, etc. If this happened rapidly—over the next few months—it would totally overwhelm the hospital system. In fact, severe shortages are already cropping up in disease “hot spots” like New York—shortages not only of beds, but of doctors, nurses, ventilators, respiratory therapists, and protective gear for staff (masks, gloves, gowns). The lack of protective gear means many healthcare providers may be infected with COVID-19. Such a loss of personnel would further intensify the crisis. Not only would death rates for COVID-19 increase dramatically, but hospitals would be unable to treat other patients properly—accident victims, people with heart attacks—and their death rates would go up too. Infected people would be less willing to go to these chaotic and understaffed hospitals, which would increase the spread of coronavirus in the community. The capacity to quarantine infected people could also be overwhelmed. All this is just beginning to unfold now and is certain to get much worse.

This is what happened in Italy over the past few weeks, starting when they had “only” about 15,000 confirmed cases. (As of March 22 Italy reports nearly 60,000 cases.) It got to the point where one doctor reported that “doctors have to choose who to treat ‘according to age and state of health, as in war situations.... If a person between 80 and 95 years old has severe respiratory failure, it’s likely we will not go ahead [with life-saving interventions.]’” Over 5,000 people have died in Italy to date.


What can be done to prevent these kinds of "worst case" scenario?

These kinds of major health disasters are not inevitable. Public health professionals long ago developed a basic approach to combating epidemics that is effective, or at least very helpful, if implemented early. Covering this approach and best practices is beyond the scope of this article, but it includes at least two basic aspects:

The first step is “containment”—aimed at preventing the virus from becoming widespread in the population. Public health organizations use testing to identify who has the disease. When they find an infected person, they interview them to find out how they contracted it and who they have come in contact with since. Then they go to all those people, test them, and if infected go through the same process. All the infected people are placed in treatment, but under quarantine (isolation) until they recover, or die.

If this is carried out right away, it is possible to cut off spread of the virus pretty quickly. And some countries have apparently done this successfully with coronavirus, so far.

But China—where COVID-19 first appeared—initially tried to cover up and downplay the outbreak, waiting weeks to report the new disease to the WHO. Soon after that, things got out of control, with tens of thousands of infections and thousands of deaths in the province of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan. As that started to happen, Chinese officials did move decisively to halt the spread. They combined massive “containment” strategies (testing, tracing, isolating infected individuals) with the second step of epidemic control, which is known as the “mitigation” stage. They did this in a highly repressive manner, consistent with the nature of this regime, which has not been genuinely socialist since the mid-1970s.5

“Mitigation” means trying to slow the spread of the virus by “social distancing” (drastically limiting contact between people) and by promoting good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing. (See box “What can people do to avoid contracting or spreading the virus?”) If done successfully, this increases the ability of the healthcare system to handle the lower numbers of sick people, saving more lives and further reducing new infections. “Mitigation” doesn’t stop the disease, but it makes it more manageable and less damaging. And it buys time so that scientists can develop better treatments and vaccines.

This also means potentially locking down entire areas, closing factories, stores, businesses, and ordering people to stay in their homes for many weeks. This was done in China, and similar measures are now being taken in Italy, France, and other European countries, and in increasing numbers of states and cities in the U.S., including California, New York, and Illinois. But in each case authorities delayed taking these steps until the virus was widespread. And in the U.S. even now, many cities, states, and areas that have hundreds of confirmed cases (which means thousands of actual cases) are taking little or no action to combat the disease, making it very likely that the disease will spiral out of control there as well.

Measures like these are often necessary for public health. They are also subject to abuse by oppressive and repressive governments, including that of the U.S. This contradictory situation requires people to ask critical questions, make an overall analysis, and act on the basis of the answers. Those questions could include among others: Is there a sound scientific basis for the measure? Is the measure medically required? Is it being carried out in a repressive manner? Are already existing social inequities and oppressive social relations being further reinforced and heightened?

Even though the COVID-19 crisis erupted in China in December, the U.S. took almost no steps to prepare for the coming epidemic. For the first six weeks of the virus’ spread there was virtually no testing done. As of March 14, fewer than 20,000 people had been tested in the U.S., while 248,000 had been tested in South Korea, a country with 16 percent of the U.S. population. The lack of testing made it impossible to carry out the “containment” stage in the U.S.—if you don’t have any idea who has the virus you can’t trace and isolate the people they infected. So, effectively, the virus was allowed to spread, uninhibited by any serious intervention. At this point we have no clear idea of how many people have the disease in the U.S. This means that the “mitigation” stage is even more urgent to avoid scenarios of massive infection, collapse of the healthcare system, and deaths.


A parent with her child, a grade school student in New Orleans, after the Louisiana governor closed all schools because of the coronavirus, March 13. Photo: AP


What can people do to avoid contracting or spreading the virus?

Different health organizations and websites are putting out basic guidance for proper hygiene, “social distancing,” and recommendations on when to seek professional medical care. The points below from the World Health Organization website6 provide very good guidance. But since the WHO issued them, understanding of the disease has developed, and most public health experts now say that social distancing should be about six feet (not three feet as WHO said); that this distance should be maintained regardless of whether you or others are coughing or sneezing; that handshaking is a significant way in which the virus is transmitted; and that thorough handwashing is more effective than hand sanitizer (WHO treats them as equally effective).

Finally, we want to emphasize that if people notice any relevant symptoms, they should contact medical professionals quickly.

Wash your hands frequently

Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 2 metre (6 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Why? When someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.

Practice respiratory hygiene

Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.

Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene, you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.

 


Footnotes

1. See “What does the coronavirus do to your body? Everything to know about the infection process,” USA Today, March 14, 2020.  [back]

2. See segment of the CNN Town Hall on Coronavirus, Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s interview with Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist who is the WHO Technical Lead for Coronavirus Response.  [back]

3. See “Does the Corona Virus Think I’m Old,” New York magazine, March 12, 2020.  [back]

4. See “Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now,” at Medium.com.  [back]

5. For more on the defeat of socialism in China after the death of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong in 1976 and the rise of capitalism in that country, see the special Revolution/revcom.us issue: You Don't Know What You Think You "Know" About: The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future  [back].

6. More detailed guidelines can be found at the CDC website.  [back]

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/640/viruses-and-natural-disasters-how-dealt-with-depends-on-system-en.html

Viruses and Natural Disasters Happen in Every Society...
How They Are Dealt with Depends on the System in Power

| revcom.us

 

Editors' Note: The following are transcribed excerpts of Lenny Wolff's comments from a radio interview featuring him and Lucha Bright, hosted by Michael Slate on KPFK Radio Pacifica, on Friday, March 20. They have been lightly edited for reader accessibility. The references to the previous guest on the show are to Eunice Cho, staff attorney for the ACLU's National Prison Project, talking about the horrific impact of COVID-19 and its consequences on immigrant and other vulnerable communities.

Michael Slate: It’s... a heavy world... Glad you guys are out there in it... Let’s jump on this natural disaster and a system of savage inequalities, capitalism-imperialism. Let’s talk about this... An American fascism... I think in the past there’s a lot of people used to call things fascist... but today it seems that not enough people are actually recognizing that there is in fact an American fascism, here and advancing... What are we talking about here? Let’s put some meat on this as we get into this. You want to jump on this first?

Lenny Wolff: Yeah, I think a lot of what you and your previous guest were getting into brought out one of the really terrible examples of what’s going on and what’s being made worse. I want to actually follow up on a few points you and your guest made. One was your point, which she also underscored by saying that “history won’t judge us kindly,” on the Nazi character of what is being done to the immigrants in particular.

And the point that you were making on the need to protest, the need to bring this out, even in situations like this, was also very important. I know that people in Brazil the other day, millions of them, went out on their balconies, and in their doorways, to bang on pots and pans to protest Bolsonaro [the president there], who is also a fascist, and what he has been doing and not doing around this. And I think we are going to have to find the ways appropriate to the current situation to continue to raise the necessary questions and to wage the necessary battles.

But I also want to follow up on something else you said, and pull the lens back a little bit on the unnecessary character of all this... Before we get totally to the fascism, I want to talk about what kind of a system, of which this fascism is one extreme and ugly expression, and one form of rule of it, that we are dealing with right now. What kind of a system makes this—for example, the grossly unequal and vicious way this is coming down on immigrants—necessary? Why is this perceived to be necessary? Why is this being acted on and how are we going to get out of this? Is it really necessary? Is there an alternative? Could dealing with a pandemic be done in a different way?

Any society would have to deal with viruses, it would have to deal with pandemics, and all the rest, just as any society has to deal with hurricanes and other natural disasters. But how they deal with it has to do with what social system they have. What are the motive forces that drive that society? What are the basic relations underlying that society? And what kind of constraints or alternatively what kind of freedom does that give humanity and the people in that society to deal with these things.

And I did want to talk about three things on the front page of the paper today, the New York Times, that bring out how much unnecessary damage it does to deal with this through this system and how a socialist system, and I mean a real socialist system—which requires a real revolution, a real dismantling of the forces of repression of the current system and its replacement, top to bottom, by totally different social relations, economic relations, political structures, a different morality between people, different relations between people—could deal with things like this so much better.

There were three articles. One was that they had done a simulation,1 the Trump regime had its people do a simulation of something remarkably similar to this over a year ago. And this simulation gave an actual sense of the level of damage that would be done. Their simulation gave you 110 million Americans becoming infected by it, leading to 7.7 million hospitalized, and 588,000 dead. They can’t say they didn’t know that something like this could happen, OK? The other thing, the other article, I will get back to all of these.

The other articles are that there is a global race, the headline is that there is a global race to figure out the silver bullet [a cure or a vaccine to arrest the spread of the disease]. And this article makes the point again, that... I am going to quote this actually. I know I am taking a minute, but...

MS: that’s fine, don’t worry about it, take as long as you want.

LW: There is “a nationalistic approach that could give the winner the chance to favor its own population and potentially gain the upper hand in dealing with the economic and geostrategic fallout from the crisis.” OK? They are not calling for all the scientists of the world to come together, to be communicating with each other, to make any breakthrough the property of everybody else. They’re trying to figure out how to angle for advantage with each other. There was something that came out the other day about Trump, Trump himself attempting to buy out a German company that seemed to be making advances on this and then the Germans saying, “No, you can’t do this...”

And then the final point, the final article, which is the main article on the front page, is that there are going to be terrible shortages of gear. It says “Doctors Sound Alarm as the Nation Struggles/Shortages of Gear Imperil Staffs at Hospitals.” And what this is basically saying is that the frontline caregivers in this are going to be, are going to be up against... they won’t have the necessary, it’s not just the respirators and ventilators for the patients. They don’t even have face masks in some cases. They detail in this article some of what people are doing—very heroically—and the risk and in many cases the almost certain risk of their own lives to deal with this. Why? Because there is no stockpile, there was no planning...

These things are three interlocking things when you think about it, each of these, all driven by a system in which the commanding, in which the driving commandment is to expand profit and this overrides everything and which takes expression in competition on a global level between nation states and in which the society also keeps people in abysmal ignorance both of basic science and of things they understand that are looming... How unconscionable is it to make this simulation and say nothing and keep people ignorant? In each of these examples—including the ways that scientists are divided from sharing knowledge, the ways that there was no planning in advance for emergency stockpiles of medical gear when they knew something like this could happen—this is where you see the crying unnecessary-ness of all this, that it doesn’t have to be this way....

I really want to urge people: Go to the website revcom.us. Read the Constitution [for the New Socialist Republic in North America] that has been authored by Bob Avakian, who has brought forward a new communism and see how a socialist society would deal with this so much differently. How it would prepare, how it would involve the ordinary people, the masses of people in society in grappling with what to do and collectively figuring out and preparing responses in advance and how it would gear production to be able to meet calamities and could do this not just for the people in this society ranged against the whole world but to fight for the world as a whole, to do this for the world as a whole and as part of that world as a whole and to struggle for cooperation and for a common way for humanity... There’s 7.7 billion of us as a common humanity, and why is this not put in first place? And the only reason is because of this system we are living under, and we don’t need this system. That’s why...

Anyway, I think this is why... we on the Tour say, there’s never been a leader like Bob Avakian in a country like this before. Who else has brought forward a constitution that actually lays out and provides a way for people to understand in advance what kind of society we are going for and how that society, which would rely on people’s conscious understanding of science and of the scientific method, would be so, so different? It would be so much more freedom.

And then you do have what your guest was bringing out, which Lucha is also going to bring forward, the savage inequalities that pre-exist in this system which come into play, and then get accentuated when there is a question like this that arises in society. The things we saw on one scale in Katrina we will very likely be seeing on a much larger scale in the days and weeks ahead. They are sentencing a portion of the immigrants that your guest talked about to death and disease. What kind of a system does that?

This is the question we have to be asking, not only what we have to do to fight this, and yes, we do need to find the ways to fight against this particular ugly form this has taken in the Trumpian fascism. The combination of ugliness and idiocy, but... it’s also time to really look at where are we at as a species and what do we need to be doing and we’ve got to open our minds to the fact that there is an alternative, and that the hour is late, and that this is bringing this out and underlining it.

 


1. Simulations are computer models that imitate reality and scientifically construct different possible scenarios of the future, in order to understand the effects of various events and factors, and plan how best to deal with them if they should occur. In this instance, the simulation was of global flu pandemics.  [back]

Listen to audio:

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Communiques from the Revcoms

Communique #3:

The Coronavirus and the Attacks on Immigrants: We Need a Revolution!

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#2 The Coronavirus... and the Savage Inequalities of America

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#1 Real Truth on the Coronavirus: What It Is and How to Confront It

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See also:

The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page

Including:

  • Revcom Communiques
  • Interview with Lenny Wolff
  • An Overall Orientation: Thoughts from a Reader
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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CONSTITUTION For The New Socialist Republic In North America

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

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

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How the Revolution Would Deal with Health Care, Including Epidemics

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

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/639/trump-on-google-and-the-coronavirus-spewing-lies-and-ignorance-en.html

Trump on Google and the Coronavirus:
Spewing Lies and Ignorance

| revcom.us

 

On March 13 Trump announced that Google “is helping to develop a website, it’s going to be very quickly done, unlike websites of the past, to determine whether a [coronavirus] test is warranted and to facilitate testing at a nearby convenient location.” Trump said “Google has “1,700 engineers working on this right now. They’ve made tremendous progress.”

Every word of this was untrue. Trump was responding to the fully justified outrage that no national COVID-19 testing was underway by concocting and broadcasting a complete and outright lie. A day after Trump’s announcement Verily, a subsidiary of Google (not Google itself), said that it was developing an online tool to help triage individuals for COVID-19 testing—but that it was only in the early stages of development, and that the plan was to roll it out just in the San Francisco Bay Area and then expand it “over time.”

In other words, Trump had rolled multiple lies into one sentence: It wasn’t Google; it wasn’t going to be “quickly done”; and it wasn’t going to be available for everyone in the country that needed it. Verily also said it has “no timetable for a national rollout.”

And where did the claim of “1,700 engineers” come from? As the New York Times reported, “The 1,700 engineers Mr. Trump mentioned were actually just Google employees who said a day earlier that they would be happy to volunteer their time on the project if needed.” Trump shamelessly twisted people’s good intentions and desire to contribute to an effort to stop the spread of this deadly virus to serve his own hateful, lie-based fascist program.

A Fascist Epistemology: The Lies and the Damage Done

Creating the ability to test huge numbers of people for COVID-19 is one of the most important ways of determining the social impact of this virus, and the direction of its development—so as to be better able to respond to it and curtail it. Testing is vital to doctors and health care professionals working tirelessly to deal with this contagion, and of course to tens of millions of people who may be infected with it. Trump’s lies do great damage. They create uncertainty for patients and doctors, and raise hopes that a test is available when in fact for the vast majority of people it is not.

Trump’s lie about the nonexistent Google site is one of scores of lies he has told. These include: the idea that the disease is no worse than the different kinds of flu that hit each year1; his outrageous claim that the coronavirus is a hoax perpetrated by the Democratic Party and the liberal media to ruin the stock market and derail his presidency2; his racist, xenophobic claim that COVID-19 is a “foreign virus”3; his refusal to take responsibility for the cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and his disbanding of the global health security team4; his claim that new ventilators (breathing machines) are on the way5; his across-the-board attacks on science and scientists; his claim that he has “no responsibility” for any of the vast deficiencies in the response of his fascist regime to this virus.6

Epistemology refers to the theory of knowledge—how people approach reality and determine what is true. Trump rejects and denies science, i.e., studying objective reality and through that learning the underlying patterns and dynamics of that reality.

Instead, he promotes his fascist epistemology: that what serves the regime’s immediate interests is true; that Trump himself has never been wrong (when his lies are refuted, he denies he said them in the first place); and that everything negative that may arise comes from a plot by domestic or foreign “enemies.” These serve to weld together his fascist followers while it puts the lives of millions at risk.

This regime is a direct and immediate danger to humanity.

 


1. On February 26, Trump said, “This is a flu. This is like a flu.” Many people do die from the flu each year, many of them because of inadequate preventative and treatment measures in this country and worldwide. Trump doesn’t give a damn about them either. But the COVID-19 virus has the potential to be far more devastating. It is definitely not just like the seasonal flu. [back]

2. “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant,” Trump tweeted on March 9. Trump and his fascist cohort have spent weeks denying the reality of the threat of global epidemic posed by COVID-19, and claiming that any attempts to call attention to that was the work of people determined to undermine his authority. In reality, the U.S. has performed abysmally in identifying the virus and acting to prevent its spread, and is woefully underprepared to deal with massive outbreaks of COVID-19. [back]

3. In his televised speech on March 11, Trump said his regime is leading “the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history.” Other leading fascists like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have referred to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus” or the “Chinese virus.” Their deliberately hateful and inflammatory language is unfounded and unscientific, and its purpose is to whip up hatred and fear of China, Chinese people, and Asian people generally. The World Health Organization has in fact developed a protocol for naming new diseases and viruses that emerge that don’t refer to locations—not only is this more scientifically accurate, it reduces the likelihood of stigmatizing entire countries and nationalities of people based on ignorance. [back]

4. In May 2018, Trump order his then national security adviser, John Bolton, to disband the government’s global health security team. Last week, when a reporter asked Trump why he did that, he responded, “I just think that’s a nasty question. When you say me, I didn’t do it. I mean, you say we did that. I don’t know anything about it.” Actually, just a month before that, when Trump was asked about his “enormous cuts” to the Center for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health, and the World Health Organization, he boasted “I’m a businessperson. I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them.” [back]

5. Ventilators are machines that help people in extreme respiratory distress, and are crucial to treating people with severe COVID-19 infections. Trump said on March 13 that his regime is “in the process ... of ordering a large number of respirators just in case.” That same day the Society of Critical Care Medicine released a report which concluded that within the U.S., existing ventilators, those in emergency stockpiles, and older machines in storage total about 200,000 machines. The American Hospital Association concluded that in some scenarios more than 900,000 people could require a ventilator. It would take well over a year of full-scale production, which isn’t underway, to meet that demand. There is also a shortage of trained personnel to operate and monitor the patients on ventilators. [back]

6. On March 13 a reporter asked Trump about his role in the excruciatingly low number of test kits available in the U.S. His response: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” The U.S. has a criminally small capacity to test people for COVID-19. Desperately ill people have countless horror stories of their difficulty or inability to receive a test. Evidence based summation of how widely the virus has spread—and thus of ways to act to cut off that proliferation—depends largely on massive testing. On March 14 the Los Angeles Times reported that South Korea had been testing an average of 12,000 people a day for COVID-19—“about as many as the U.S. has managed to test over the last two weeks.” [back]

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/639/how-the-revolution-would-deal-with-health-care-including-epidemics-en.html

How the Revolution Would Deal with Health Care, Including Epidemics

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

| revcom.us

 

The following is from Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian. (The Constitution is available in PDF format online here.)

H. Health and Medicine.

1. The goal of the New Socialist Republic in North America with regard to health and medicine is to promote the all-around health and well-being of the people and, as one key dimension of this, to provide the people in society as a whole with access to medical care–at low cost and eventually free of cost–and to continually develop and improve this medical care. The government of this Republic also acts to ensure that the food and nutritional needs of the population are met.

Research and other work will be done to anticipate, as much as possible, and to prevent to the greatest degree possible, outbreaks of disease and epidemics, and to detect and treat such outbreaks and epidemics as quickly and effectively as possible where and when they cannot be prevented.

2. In line with this overall orientation, while due attention will be paid to the treatment of disease, including highly specialized treatment, and to medical research (and in this regard the basic principles discussed above with regard to science and scientific endeavor will be applied), the emphasis will be placed on prevention of disease, through the promotion of healthy nutrition and exercise, as well as other means, and on early detection and treatment of disease, to the greatest degree possible.

3. In keeping with a scientific approach, as well as an internationalist orientation, research and development, and practical developments, in the field of medicine shall be shared, as fully as possible, with people in this (and related) fields in other parts of the world, and cooperation shall be promoted and effected in detecting, combatting and preventing outbreaks of disease and epidemics, as well as in the treatment of disease, and the all-around development of medical science and its practical application, throughout the world.

4. The orientation that shall be promoted, and established as the standard, for professionals and others in the field of medicine shall be to serve the people. In the treatment of disease, and in other aspects of medicine, the sensibilities, as well as the experience and knowledge, of patients, and of the people broadly, shall be taken into account and drawn on fully as a basic requirement and a basic resource in the practice of medicine and the development and application of medical science.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/639/skybreak-a-scientific-approach-to-society-en.html

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

A Scientific Approach to Society, and Changing the World

 

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.

This excerpt from the interview discusses what a scientific method and approach to society and changing the world is, and what it means to have a scientific outlook. This discussion draws from key elements of the new synthesis brought forward by Bob Avakian. (The topic of “What is New in the New Synthesis?” is discussed in another excerpt from this interview with Ardea Skybreak, posted November 16, 2015.)

A Scientific Approach to Society, and Changing the World

Question:       I thought we would start by briefly asking some questions about science and the scientific method. So I actually wanted to start with kind of a provocative question: What does science have to do with understanding and changing the world? And, just quickly for some background on that, I think most people, including most natural scientists, don’t think that you can, that you need to, or that you should take a scientific approach to analyzing society, or analyzing the “social world,” much less changing it. So I wanted to ask you: Why is that notion wrong, what does science and the scientific method have to do with understanding and changing society and the world?

Ardea Skybreak:     Well, I think that’s a very important question because, as you say, even many people who are scientists in the natural sciences and who apply very rigorous scientific methods when trying to deal with the natural world (biology, astronomy, physics, and so on), when you talk to them about society–the problems of society, the way societies are organized–all of a sudden it seems like their grasp of scientific method goes completely out the window! Many natural scientists actually start to revert then to a kind of crass populism, to just kind of talking vaguely about the “will of the people,” or about elections, or some other things that really have little or nothing to do with analyzing in a scientific way the main features of a given society–how it’s set up, how it functions–or with analyzing in a scientific way what’s wrong in a society, or how societal problems could be solved in a scientific way. Not everyone is like that, but it’s striking–the degree to which many advanced thinkers in the natural sciences seem to forget or drop everything they know about scientific methods whenever they try to think about the problems of society!

I think it’s very, very important to understand that science as a method has not been around in the history of humanity for all that long. So people generally are simply not accustomed to trying to understand and transform reality in a scientific way. For most of the history of human beings on this planet, the understanding of both the natural and social world was derived more from a sort of basic trial-and-error approach, trying to figure things out catch-as-catch-can, and trying to solve problems that way–often making up all sorts of mystical and supernatural explanations to fill in the gaps in people’s understanding. So, you know, people used to think lightning was the anger of the gods, or something like that, because for a long time they didn’t have a scientific understanding of what actually caused lightning.

So I think it might be worth starting a little bit by talking about what is science, to demystify it a little bit. I mean, science deals with material reality, and you could say that all of nature and all of human society is the province of science, science can deal with all that. It’s a tool–science–a very powerful tool. It’s a method and approach for being able to tell what’s true, what corresponds to reality as it really is. In that sense, science is very different than religion or mysticism, or things like that, which try to explain reality by invoking imaginary forces and which provide no actual evidence for any of their analyses. By contrast, science requires proof. It requires evidence. It is an evidence-based process. That’s very important. Science is an evidence-based process. So whether you’re just trying to understand something in the world, or trying to figure out how to change reality–for instance, you might be trying to cure a disease, or you might be trying to understand the dynamics of a rain forest or a coral reef ecosystem, or you might be trying to make a revolution to emancipate humanity, you know, the full range of material experience–science allows you to figure out what’s really going on and how it can change.

I read somewhere that Neil deGrasse Tyson, in popularizing the importance of science, said something like‑I’m paraphrasing here, but he said something like: Science allows you to confront and identify problems, to recognize problems and figure out how to solve them, rather than run away from them. And I think that’s an important point, too. Science is what allows you to actually deal with material reality the way it really is. Whether you’re talking about the material reality of a disease, of a natural ecosystem, or of a social system that human beings live under, science allows you to analyze its components, its history, how it came to be the way it is, what it’s made of, what are its defining characteristics and underlying contradictoriness (and we’ll come back to that) and therefore also what is the basis for it to change, or to be changed, if your intent is to change it. Whether you want to cure a disease or make a better society, you need that scientific evidence-based process.

One thing about science is that it asks a lot of questions about how things came to be the way they are, and about how things have changed over time. I’ve always been very interested in what’s called the historical sciences–for instance, biological evolution, but there are also other historical sciences, including the science of human society–which deal with how things change over time. And then, of course, if you’re studying how things change over time, you can study how things can change some more, including in directions that human beings might be inclined to have it go. All of reality has evolved, has changed over time, and it’s still changing all of the time, whether you’re talking about the natural world or the social world. If you want to change life, if you want to change the way a society is organized, if you want to change the world, if you want to change anything in nature or society, you need a scientific method, because that’s the only way to deeply and systematically uncover how reality really is, on the basis of systematic observations and interactions, manipulations, and transformations of reality. That’s how you learn how things really are, how they got to be that way, and how they can be changed. Again, it’s an evidence-based process, it’s not just “what you think” or “what I think.” We need evidence, accumulated over time. This is what reveals what reality is made up of, how it came to be a certain way, how it may be changing right now, or how it may be possible for human beings to further change it.

Here’s an important point: Without science, you can only say what you as an individual think reality is, or maybe you can say what a whole bunch of people think reality is, or maybe you can say what a government, or religious authority, or some other authority might tell you reality is like, but that doesn’t make any of it true. Without science you are at the mercy of being manipulated, of having your thinking manipulated and not being able to tell what’s right from what’s wrong, what’s true from what’s false. If you really want to know what’s what, what’s true, and what to do, you need science–not fantasies or wishful thinking, but concrete evidence and a systematic process, a systematic method of analysis and synthesis. The analysis breaks down experience and knowledge over time; synthesis brings it back together in a higher way, in a more systematic way, getting the bigger lessons, the core lessons out of the accumulated experience.

So this is one of the reasons why you need scientific revolutionary theory if you really want to change a society at its roots. You know, we talk about radical change in society. Well, the word “radical” comes from the Latin meaning “root”; it means get to the root of the problem. Don’t just stay on the surface of what the problem appears to be, on a superficial level or at just one moment in time. Get underneath it, get deeper, the way a good scientist does, to understand what are the deeper rules of the system, what are the deeper ways the contradictions inside a system make it work certain ways that cause problems, or that can bring forth possibilities.

Question:       Well, if I could interject just for a second, this strikes me as really important and critical in terms of what is science and what’s involved in a scientific approach to reality; what you’re saying about the importance of science being evidence-based and the different points you were making about that, I think are very important there. One  thing I wanted to interject is to kind of zero in on this question: I think a lot of people would recognize, including a lot of natural scientists–and obviously you, yourself, were trained as a natural scientist, and so maybe you would have some particular insights on this–but a lot of even natural scientists would probably look at what you were saying and respond, OK, I see how that process can be applied to the natural world, to the natural sciences–patterns, looking for evidence, synthesis–but then they would kind of recoil at the idea that you could actually apply that to human beings and human society. Or maybe another way to go at it is that some people would say, Well, OK, but human beings and human societies, that’s just too complicated to be scientific about or to apply science. So maybe we could zero in a little bit on what does it mean specifically to take a scientific approach to human beings and human society and their development, and why is that correct?

AS:     Well, look, for one thing, in any system, whether it’s in the natural world or human society, there’s both complexity and simplicity. The idea that human beings or human societies are just too complex to analyze with science is ridiculous. It’s the exact opposite. How could you possibly deal with the complexity of human social organizations and interactions over various historical periods and up to today, and all the contradictions within that, all the complicated patterns and things, and the different forces, and so on, and different objectives of different peoples and different periods of history–how could you deal with all that without science? How could you even begin to make sense of it and understand it? And it’s not true that natural systems are somehow simpler, you know. If you want to understand the dynamics of complex ecosystems–like, for instance, a rain forest, which has many different layers of trees and shrubs in the undergrowth and so on, and which is characterized by very complex dynamics in terms of the many different kinds and levels of interactions among and between the incredibly diverse plant and animal species–I mean, you could spend a lifetime, and many people do, just trying to get a beginning understanding of a lot of these complex dynamics. Or, if you wanted to better understand coral reef ecosystems, or desert ecosystems, or the differences between different ecosystems and which ones might be more vulnerable to being disrupted and which ones might be relatively more stable, or assess relative species diversity or how to preserve diversity...so many questions worth exploring further... Look, I’m not trying to get into all that right now because I know you want to talk mainly about human social systems, but what I am saying is that in both the natural and social world, material reality is very complex, and that while we as human beings always have some shortcomings in our understanding (things that at any given time we don’t quite get yet) we also have tremendous abilities and a lot of accumulated knowledge. Our brains are capable of actually investigating and exploring all sorts of questions, from many different angles, and we’re actually capable of summing things up over a period of time, accumulating historical experience and knowledge that way. This is one of the things that’s very particular to human beings: our great ability to accumulate understanding over generations, over centuries, over millennia, and to understand some of the patterns of organization of societies or of natural systems or whatever we turn our minds to.

And we humans are also capable of doing some very important projections into the future, not just the future tomorrow, or of a month from now, but also trying to understand what could be happening to this planet, for instance–the entire planet–from an environmental standpoint, looking ahead generations, not just tomorrow. Similarly with social systems, we actually have the ability to analyze different patterns of social organization throughout past human history and up through today, and we can also project ahead to the way things could be in the future. We can therefore also make some conscious decisions about what we want to work on now–in which direction do we want to try to push things, because we do have conscious initiative to do that. So, for instance, when you talk about a human society, about human social organization, you can see that a society is basically a way that human beings come together–work together, or oppose each other or whatever–but come together to essentially work on meeting the requirements of life of people in a given time. It might be done well, or it might be done poorly, but this is what a human society is, it’s a form of organization. Right? And, you know, we’ve all lived in this capitalist-imperialist world for so long, those of us who are alive today, that sometimes it’s hard to remember or to think about the fact that human societies haven’t always been organized this way, and they don’t have to be organized this way. Capitalism-imperialism is not the only way to organize a human society, and I would argue strenuously that it’s certainly not the best way. But in any case it’s not the only way, and that is worth understanding and thinking about. The fact is we can apply science to try to understand some of those earlier social systems. For instance, many societies in the history of human beings were organized on the basis of slavery, the exploitation of slaves, the domination of slaves who were literally the property of the slavemasters, and the slavemasters made them build the economy that way. And I won’t get into all the details of it, but that’s a very different kind of society than the ones that mainly prevail today, on a large scale at least. There’s still slavery in the world, by the way, including sexual slavery, which is a very big problem. But the fundamental and dominant forms of organization of societies in the world today are mainly not organized on the basis of slavery. But for a long time in the history of human beings, that was a dominant form of social organization.

Another significant form of social organization was the system of feudalism, and there are certainly still remnants of feudalism in many parts of the world today, we see it everywhere. But in feudal systems you had lords and masters, you had nobilities, you had aristocracies, and you had oppressed and dominated people like serfs and peasants, who would typically be growing the crops and having to turn much of it over to the lords of a region or whatever, and they had to pay terrible taxes and tributes to the lords, and they were just barely one notch above being outright slaves. It was even very common for a serf to have to turn over his daughter to the local lord of the region, to basically have sex with and do with whatever he will and there was nothing serfs could do about any of that under the existing rules of the feudal system. Feudalism in turn is a very different system than what’s called bourgeois democracy, the kind of more typical capitalist-imperialist system of social organization that dominates the world today. I’m not going to try to get into any of this in detail right now, but I will say that it is worth thinking about the fact that scientific methods can be–and have been–applied to analyzing the patterns of social organization of all those different past social systems; and if we can do it for the past, we can also do it for the future.

Some people will say, well, OK, systems such as slavery, the feudal system, and maybe even the capitalist system, are not good ways to organize society, but what we should really do is just go back to an early communal system. Such people argue that we just need to organize on a small scale in our local areas, so that people can work together in small groups, and make all the decisions together, and can create “genuine democracy” and make collective decisions about how to meet the needs of the people, and promote local agriculture, local production, and so on. The problem with such views is that they are simply not rooted in the actual reality of the world today! Look, I would agree that there’s a lot we could still learn from hunter-gatherer societies that prevailed for most of the history of humanity, that there’s a lot we could still learn from some remnants of those societies in the world today, and that there’s a lot we can learn from people today who have all sorts of ideas about how better to organize things, in a more rational way, on a relatively small and local scale, in terms of such things as agricultural production, waste reduction, promoting use of local products, and so on. So yes, there are things that we can learn from some of the social experiments that people are doing, trying to figure out how to get away from some of the problems of modern society that cause natural and social dislocations, pollution, the destruction of soils, and so on and so forth. But let’s get real, OK? We need to talk about the scope and scale of the human species spread out throughout this entire planet. Billions and billions of people. You’re not gonna resolve the problems of society by going backwards to some kind of idealized, romanticized primitive communalism! So if that’s not going to cut it, if that’s not going to be able to meet the key and critical problems of  today, and certainly not with sufficient scope and scale, then what? Look, a slave-based system, a feudal system, a capitalist-imperialist system, these are all just material ways of organizing human societies and they can all be analyzed by science and critically evaluated. But you can also apply the same scientific methods to figuring out how to build completely new and different societies that would not only be better, but also be able to encompass the whole planet. Because I’m really not interested in talking about philosophies and methods that cannot, ultimately, encompass and benefit all of humanity.

One of the things you get from Bob Avakian [BA] which I really appreciate is that he’s promoted this concept that we need “emancipators of humanity” and that we need to move in the direction of making this world, this entire planet, a good place to live in and function for all of humanity, where we can get away from the idea that some groups of people, and some categories of people, or some whole countries, are lording it over others, and exploiting and dominating and oppressing others. That’s the whole idea of this revolutionary communism, and one of the things you really get from BA is the need to always think and proceed back from the need to emancipate all of humanity. Otherwise, you can easily fall into things that go off track. BA has talked about how the goal is not for the last to be first and the first to be last, it can’t be about revenge, about the oppressed taking revenge on people. I agree that’s not the kind of world we should be striving for. And my point here is that without science you’re going to be lost, because without a scientific method to analyze the patterns, to really understand why things are the way they are and how they could be different, and on what basis could they be different, you’re going to go off track all the time.

You know, one of the hallmarks of good science–because there is bad science, too–but one of the hallmarks of good science is really having a critical spirit and promoting critical thinking–which, by the way, is another hallmark of BA’s work. He’s really stressing the need for everyone to get into this–it doesn’t matter what your level of education is...I would like to talk about this. Science is not something that should only be done by an elite, or by people who have gone to graduate school or gotten Ph.D. degrees or something like that. I firmly believe–and I can provide evidence of this–that people who are not even trained in basic literacy can actually function as scientists. You know, you can train people in scientific methods, in even just a weekend you can start to do that. If you want to get people doing science in the natural world, you can spend a weekend doing some good science in a rain forest or in a desert, and I guarantee you it will be real scientific work, real scientific investigation. And I don’t care if you don’t even have a sixth-grade education. If you are a healthy human being, you can take up and apply scientific methods, whether to the problems of nature or of human society. And one of the things I’m very concerned about is that we promote scientific understanding and scientific methods very, very broadly, so that everyone can learn to use these methods, and it’s not just the province of a few or a province of the elites.

 

A New Theoretical Framework for a New Stage of Communist Revolution What is New in the New Synthesis? An Explorer, a Critical Thinker, a Follower of BA; Understanding the World, And Changing It For the Better, In the Interests of Humanity Some Thank Yous That Need To Be Said Aloud Order the book here Download the full interview in PDF format here

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/637/refuse-fascism-statement-of-conscience-en.html

"An American fascism is here and advancing..."

Sign, Spread and Raise Funds For RefuseFascism.org's New Statement of Conscience

| revcom.us

 

Refuse Fascism has issued an important new Statement of Conscience to be signed by many thousands and spread throughout all of society.

This statement comes at a time when tens of millions deeply oppose and fear what the Trump/Pence regime is doing, but have proven as yet unwilling to act en masse in ways that are commensurate. Beginning last fall and continuing through the impeachment trial of Donald Trump, RefuseFascism.org fought to bring forward the kind of growing and sustained protests that could compel the removal of the Trump/Pence regime. But while this set an important standard and was correct to attempt, the people did not respond in adequate numbers to set this dynamic in motion. And yet the urgent need for this regime to be driven from power by the masses of people remains.

It has become clear that there must be tremendous ideological and political struggle with those who oppose the Trump/Pence regime for them to see it for what it is—an American fascism advancing—and to act accordingly. This new statement, which poetically captures the danger we face and the responsibility we have to the people of the world, is a tool with which to wage this struggle. As it becomes known and signed by thousands and tens of thousands it can dramatically change the discourse throughout society.

Everyone who refuses to accept a fascist America should sign their name and contribute to gathering thousands more signatories and raising tens of thousands of dollars in the coming weeks, and then many times more after that. This statement should be spread hand-to-hand and online to: students in high schools and colleges everywhere; prominent figures in the arts, sciences, literature, music, and film; communities targeted by this regime—immigrants, Latinos, Black people, Muslims, and others; legal and religious communities; professionals of all kinds; and far beyond. It should be read from pulpits and discussed in classrooms. It should be posted on walls and debated in the media and social media.

Winning people to sign, spread, and donate to this statement will require struggle and this should be welcomed. It is through struggle over the moral standard and the path forward advanced in this statement that a people can be forged who are willing to rise to the historic challenge of our time.

Start by reading it here, signing your name, making a donation, and then spreading it to others.

* * * * * *

Reposted from RefuseFascism.org:

Preface to the 2020 Refuse Fascism Statement of Conscience/Call to Act:

RefuseFascism.org has updated its 2020 Statement of Conscience/Call to Act, adding the following statement to its powerful indictment of the Trump/Pence regime:

The anti-science Trump/Pence regime hid the danger of the COVID-19 virus, now a pandemic, for months, setting the stage for possibly catastrophic impact and placing those who have been targets of their overall program in the most jeopardy – immigrants forced into shadows and concentration camps; millions of Black and brown people languishing in prisons; the people of Iran facing crippling sanctions; the poor, sick, and homeless here and around the world.”

The Statement is a living document. As the world continues to change rapidly, the need to drive out the Trump/Pence regime at the soonest possible time grows more urgent and yet more challenging by the day. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are suspending actively organizing for sustained mass protests of millions in the streets at this moment, while recognizing the need to put this forward now as ultimately the only way that this fascist regime can be driven from power.  We recognize that a situation could possibly develop where such a response may be necessary in the future, even with an ongoing health crisis caused by the disease, in order to stop the regime from further endangering humanity.

We also recognize that masses of people may feel the urgent need to take to the streets in legitimate protest during this period of social distancing to secure basic needs. We will stand with the people in such situations and advocate that even mass protests try to adhere to the best public health practices.

We also recognize that the Trump/Pence regime with its opposition to science and its fascist program now poses an even greater danger to humanity facing the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that the RF Statement of Conscience is the best expression of what the people of the world face and what is needed; it remains both timely and true, even as we are not working to implement the call for millions to take to the street right now. We urge everyone with a heart for humanity to read this statement deeply, discuss, debate it, take it out where possible – in good ways – to the ICE detention centers and other places where masses of people need this, and overall develop creative means, especially through social media, so that this statement becomes a pole around which millions stand and act. 

The Editorial Board of Refuse Fascism; March 16, 2020

* * * * *

Refuse Fascism Statement of Conscience; Call to Act

Silent No More, We Say:

The hour is late. For over three years, the Trump/Pence regime has brought an unrelenting barrage of insult, injury, and atrocity, with catastrophic consequences for all humanity.

There are times in history when a people must reach deep into their collective conscience and act with extraordinary moral courage to stop the crimes of their government.

We must say out loud what has been too often spoken in whispers and riddles. An American fascism is here and advancing, wrapped in the flag and Mike Pence’s Bible taken literally—spreading its poison of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, and oppressive, fundamentalist “traditional” values.

Thousands fill stadiums and cheer as Trump spews heinous, bigoted rhetoric. His acolytes threaten civil war and carry out acts of terror.

Trump’s acquittal in a sham impeachment trial has set a legal precedent for him to do whatever he wants—even steal an election—as he barrels ahead with alarming vengeance.

The regime bludgeons the very notion of objective truth; trafficking not merely in lies, but in flagrant campaigns of disinformation.

They purge those who refuse to march in lockstep, then pack the judiciary, the police and the military, the executive and legislative branches, and the state houses with fascists and all manner of reactionary zealots—including theocratic Christian fascists—who see this as their last chance to cement their domination for generations to come.

The world as we have known it is being torn asunder. Fascist regimes are taking root everywhere as tens of millions of people are forced to seek asylum from wars, climate change, and enormous economic dislocation. Scientists have “reset” the Doomsday clock that measures the danger of nuclear war and the destruction of the environment to100 seconds before midnight. The anti-science Trump/Pence regime hid the danger of the COVID-19 virus, now a pandemic, for months, setting the stage for possibly catastrophic impact on all of society and placing those who have been targets of their overall program in the most jeopardy – immigrants forced into shadows and concentration camps; millions of Black and brown people languishing in prisons; the people of Iran facing crippling sanctions; the poor, sick, and homeless here and around the world.

The damage already done cannot be easily reversed, while worse is surely to come. We are on increasingly unsteady ground, and any major crisis, international or domestic, could become the catalyst for this regime to drop the hammer. History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late.

Enough. We raise our voices here to say:

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

The hour is late. If we do not intervene now, we cannot ask how the German people accepted the horrors of the Nazi regime. What we allow is not just what we condone...it is what we become.

No longer will we stand aside while this regime shreds the rule of law. No more moving the goalpost of what we will tolerate or retreating into our private lives as the regime fills concentration camps at the border, cages immigrant children, bans Muslims, and threatens whole countries with fire and fury. We will not allow LGBTQ people to be slammed back into the closet and women to lose the right to abortion and birth control.

It is long past time we cast aside illusions and self-delusion. For years people have waited—for the Blue Wave, for Mueller, for impeachment. But the normal channels turn into dead ends as the regime shreds norms and changes the rules.

The Democratic Party cannot be relied on to stop this nightmare. Trump has branded them as enemies and “traitors,” rallying crowds to “lock them up.” Yet, the Democrats have repeatedly jumped to work with Trump when he let them, normalizing what should only be opposed. When they finally moved to impeach, it was on the real, compelling but narrow grounds of cheating on elections, but not the full crimes of the Trump/Pence program. They have not called forth the one force that could change the whole political equation—the power of the people in the streets—and they’ve refused to say publicly what many of them know in private, that Trump is a fascist.

Let us not hope against facts that the 2020 election—the same election that Trump was on trial for sabotaging—is enough to resolve this crisis. What will we do if Trump wins, or loses and refuses to step down? What damage will the fascist forces he has unleashed continue to inflict even if he does lose and leaves vengeful? No election, fair or fraudulent, can legitimize what has been normalized over the last three years.

The hour is late, but we can look to the people around the world who have taken to the streets in sustained, non-violent mass protest to drive out hated regimes and win a chance to shape their own destinies. The eyes of the world are on us now. They want to see whose side we are on. Will we capitulate to this regime with our silence and passivity, or resist every injustice of this regime and act decisively to knock it off its collision course with humanity?

There is a way to stop this. We will follow our conscience, sound the alarm, and organize so that it becomes possible for thousands to take to the streets across the country in non-violent sustained mass protest demanding Trump and Pence Out Now, growing to millions, and staying in the streets until our demand is met. This is not the easy road, it requires sacrifice, yet our actions will reflect our love for humanity, in stark contrast to the hate and bigotry of the Trump/Pence fascist regime, and create a serious political crisis for the ruling powers, leading to a situation where this illegitimate regime is removed from power.

WE MUST ACT to make this real. The hour is late, but it is not yet too late.

WE PLEDGE that we will not stand aside while there is still a chance to stop a regime that imperils humanity and the earth itself.

WE COME FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES, but united in our determination,
WE SAY:

In the Name of Humanity,
We REFUSE to Accept a Fascist America.
This Nightmare Must End:
TRUMP/PENCE #OUTNOW!

 

Sign and Donate to this Statement of Conscience;
Call to Act

Sign and Donate to this Statement of Conscience;
Call to Act

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

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

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

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

Find out more about Refuse Fascism here.

 

 

 

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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

| revcom.us

 

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.

Read online here
Download these quotes as a pamphlet to print and distribute (PDF) here

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/639/second-mistrial-in-fwy9-trial-but-still-facing-years-in-jail-en.html

Second Mistrial Declared In #FREEWAY9 Trial—but STILL Facing Years in Jail for Sounding the Alarm on the Trump/Pence Fascist Regime
This Persecution Must Be Stopped!

| revcom.us

 

A second mistrial has been declared in an outrageous case involving Alex and Chantelle, two of the #Freeway 9 who are activists from Refuse Fascism and the Revolution Club. These heroes have been prosecuted for over two years for blocking the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles twice in 2017 with a 50-foot banner that said “Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” The #Freeway9 were acting to sound the alarm against a rapidly advancing fascism and shake society out of its complacency. For this, they are facing up to three years in jail! Now after TWO mistrials and repeated harassment from the LAPD and City Attorney Mike Feuer, this persecution must be stopped and the remaining charges against the #Freeway9 dropped!

The first mistrial was declared in June 2019 when the jury told the judge it was hopelessly deadlocked. Despite 9 of the 12 jurors voting in favor of acquittal, the Democratic Party politician and City Attorney Mike Feuer immediately moved to retry the case. In this second trial, the prosecutor and judge refused to declare a mistrial due to the coronavirus—making the jury deliberate amidst a global pandemic. After a day of deliberation, the jury could not come to unanimous agreement that what the #Freeway9 did was a crime and declared they were deadlocked. It was clear that some of the jurors understood that protesting fascism is not a crime, and they righteously refused to convict. This then compelled the judge to declare a mistrial.

A POLITICAL Persecution

Feuer has relentlessly persecuted these activists—while also working to cover up the political nature of these cases. The prosecution was successful in banning any mention of the spy that was sent by the LAPD’s Anti-Terrorism Division to secretly record Refuse Fascism meetings at a church for four weeks straight. This included attempts at entrapment, where the spy openly called for violence, acting as an agent provocateur. Members of Refuse Fascism made clear they have repeatedly called for mass, nonviolent protest.

The prosecution also tried to gag the defendants by filing motions demanding a ban on the defendants using the words “Donald Trump,” “fascism,” “social injustice,” and “ripping babies from parents’ arms.” They tried to limit defendants’ testimony so they could not say WHY they protested on the freeway, including any mention of “national politics.” They tried to prevent supporters from wearing T-shirts or holding banners outside the courtroom in solidarity with the defendants. The judge denied this attack on the First Amendment and the defendants’ right to defend themselves in court. But this shows how far the prosecution tried to go to suppress the political nature of these charges.

Despite Attempts at Censorship, the Political Necessity for the Protest Was Heard in Court

Despite all the attempts to censor the political nature of this protest, the message of the defendants—Alex and Chantelle—came through when they testified that the crimes of this regime compelled them to act outside the bounds of normal, and ineffectual, protest-as-usual. On the stand, they talked about why they were responding to a call from RefuseFascism.org for mass, sustained, nonviolent protest that continues until the Trump/Pence fascist regime is driven from power. They talked about why they were sounding the alarm against this fascist regime in the face of widespread normalization of the crimes this regime has been carrying out.

The defense lawyers also made a compelling case for why what the #Freeway9 did was righteous and why they should be found not guilty of all charges. Both defense attorneys became emotional in talking about how passionately Chantelle and Alex feel about humanity. The lawyers commended their clients for their bravery in stepping out with the demand “the Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!” One attorney said his client was “braver than I am.” He said, “I don’t have the courage that she has. I have excused myself [from acting] because I didn’t vote for this government. My client stood up in the name of humanity.” He went on to say that these defendants put themselves on the line because it is a state of emergency that has been emerging in this country because of this president. The actions they took were to break the “business-as-usual monotony as this was happening.”

Speaking from his perspective, he quoted Benjamin Franklin in his challenge to the jury: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” He talked about how the system of checks and balances has been weakened during Trump’s presidency as the Congress didn’t stop the president, and the Supreme Court is now rubber stamping the president’s actions; how they as jurors are the last line of defense for justice. He brought up how Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Rosa Parks had all been arrested many times, yet Donald Trump has never been arrested.

Instead of immediately dropping the charges, a date was set to discuss the potential of a THIRD trial for Chantelle and Alex. Meanwhile, three other defendants are awaiting trial. Despite the coronavirus crisis, at this point, they are being forced to go into court for a pretrial hearing this Friday, March 20.

In response to this, Chantelle and Alex said: “The Trump/Pence fascist regime is guilty of crimes and crimes against humanity. Caging children, threatening nuclear war, banning abortion and unleashing white supremacist terror is a nightmare for humanity and must be stopped. They spent weeks lying about this deadly pandemic and spreading anti-science that could cost the lives of many, many thousands. But LA City Attorney Mike Feuer is criminalizing the people working to stop and remove the Trump/Pence regime through mass political protest; by his actions he’s collaborating with fascism. Why won’t the LA City Attorney drop these charges? Why are the nonviolent actions Refuse Fascism did almost three years ago still a pressing matter? Because the LA city officials are more worried about preventing protest that steps out of the bounds of protest-as-usual than they are about the consolidation of a fascist America. They are more concerned about maintaining order than they are the fight for justice. The normal channels have proven unable to stop fascism. Trump has come out of a sham impeachment trial stronger than ever, making what the #Freeway9 did even more prescient. For this, we should be celebrated, not hounded, harassed, surveilled and criminalized!”

This political persecution must STOP. DROP THE CHARGES against the #Freeway9!

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

 

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/637/bob-avakian_david-brooks-the-not-so-great-pretender-en.html

DAVID BROOKS—THE NOT SO GREAT PRETENDER—AND THE PROFOUND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN TRUMP, SANDERS AND ACTUAL SOCIALISM

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

In an article in the New York Times, February 21, 2020, “Why Sanders Will Probably Get the Nod,” David Brooks attempts to equate Bernie Sanders with Donald Trump because, according to Brooks, each in his own way is a purveyor of a fraudulent but “successful” myth—a right-wing populist myth in Trump’s case, and a left-wing populist myth with Sanders. This is ridiculous. Such an attempt to make Sanders equivalent to Trump (or the “mirror opposite” or “left-wing doppelganger” of Trump) is refuted by simply looking at the obvious reality.

As will be discussed here, Sanders does, in an ultimate sense, share with Trump the fact that he is actually an advocate of the capitalist system and a representative and defender of the interests of U.S. capitalist imperialism. But that does not negate the very real and sharp differences between Sanders and Trump, within that same ultimate framework. Does Sanders promote racism and bigotry, misogyny (hatred of women) and vile prejudice and violence toward LGBT people, as Trump and those associated with him actively do? Does Sanders, like Trump, defy the science of climate change, denying that there is a serious and accelerating climate crisis in which human activity is a major factor, while encouraging and facilitating the unrestrained ravaging of the environment? Has Sanders acted to undermine the principles of a constitutional capitalist republic and the rule of law, as Trump continues to do, in an escalating way? And, for that matter, does what Brooks characterizes as Sanders’ “myth” really have anything in common with what Trump peddles? Is there really no truth to Sanders’ claim that the super-rich—heads of banks and other financial institutions, tech companies, other large business interests, and so on—wield an undue influence over political affairs and the affairs of society in general? Is that really in the same category as the systematic lies and lunatic conspiracy theories that Trump consistently repeats and promotes, which are filled with racism and bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia? Brooks, in equating Sanders with Trump, has allowed himself to depart from reality and descend into demagogic “cheap trickery” that would embarrass a clumsy con man.

Brooks is a “conservative” commentator, who opposes Donald Trump, and he fancies himself something of a philosopher who seeks to illuminate the common social good that can unite people beyond “tribal” partisan conflict. But, in fact, Brooks is a promoter of the biggest myth of all—that capitalism is the best possible system whose functioning and effect brings about the greatest good, not just for a small class of capitalists but for the masses of humanity, and that American capitalism is the shining example and model of this. The truth is that capitalism is today a worldwide system of capitalist imperialism that maintains itself through ruthless exploitation and oppression of billions of people throughout the world and perpetual violence—against masses of people, and against the environment. And this is true, above all, for U.S. capitalist imperialism, and its crimes against humanity, for which Brooks has also been an active promoter and apologist.

So, for example, when in 2003 the U.S. invaded Iraq, in blatant violation of international law and on the basis of repeated, systematic lies that the Iraqi government headed by Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (and was somehow connected with those who carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S.), Brooks was an arrogant, aggressive advocate for that war, which unleashed a maelstrom of death and destruction in that part of the world; and he has continued to fabricate excuses and rationalizations for that war, which fly in the face of the clearly established facts.

The Reality of Capitalism, the Limitations and Essence of Social Democracy

As for the “great good” that capitalism represents and is doing in the world, as I have pointed out, in a world dominated by this system of capitalism-imperialism:

large parts of humanity live in stark poverty, with 2.3 billion people lacking even rudimentary toilets or latrines and huge numbers suffering from preventable diseases, with millions of children dying every year from these diseases and from starvation, while 150 million children in the world are forced to engage in ruthlessly exploited child labor, and the whole world economy rests on a vast network of sweatshops, employing large numbers of women who are regularly subjected to sexual harassment and assault, a world where 65 million refugees have been displaced by war, poverty, persecution, and the effects of global warming… (Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution—the text and videos of this speech are available at revcom.us)

Bernie Sanders does not represent, and what he is calling for could not bring about, a real solution to all this, which can only be achieved through a revolution that moves to overthrow and uproot the capitalist system and bring into being radically different, socialist societies, aiming for the final goal of a communist world. Sanders is not a real socialist, and the “revolution” he talks about is not a real revolution. He is what can be more accurately described as a “social democrat,” who is actually advocating changes within the capitalist system, to be achieved by working through the established political process. This is expressed, on the one hand, as a vague promise to bring about economic, social, and racial justice, and to deal with the environmental crisis; and when it is made somewhat more concrete it focuses on things like increased taxation of the super-rich and corporations to finance government programs to pay for universal health care, college tuition, and the creation of renewable energy. This would run up against the reality of how capitalism actually functions, driven by the anarchistic competition and rivalry between competing capitalists—which takes place not just within particular countries but increasingly on an international level—and, more specifically with regard to U.S. capitalist imperialism, the massive military spending it requires to maintain its worldwide empire (with its military the largest institutional consumer of oil in the world), as well as the whole historical development of this country, down to the present, on the basis of slavery and white supremacy, male supremacy, and other oppressive relations.

All this, combined with the realities of the political process in this country—a “democracy” which is dominated by the capitalist class that actually exercises dictatorship (a monopoly of political power, concentrated as a monopoly of “legitimate” violence) to enforce its rule, and which today is marked by deep “partisan” divisions among the political representatives of the capitalist class—would mean that the reforms Sanders is calling for would be very difficult to achieve. And, even if they could somehow be achieved, they would not bring about economic, social, and racial justice, nor would they make possible a rational interaction with the environment or a world without the violent conflicts that are rooted in the very nature of this capitalist-imperialist system. In fact, while he might strike a less bellicose posture, expressing more reluctance to engage in war than more traditional politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties—and while he has not openly threatened to use nuclear weapons and destroy countries, as Trump has—Sanders has made clear that he regards U.S. military might and its military alliances, such as NATO, as crucial and indispensable (and he has praised the U.S. military as the best in the world). The very reforms Sanders is calling for are ultimately predicated on, and would depend on, U.S. capitalism-imperialism continuing to occupy a dominant position in the world, and would require the use and/or the threat of U.S. military force to maintain that position. The truth is that social democrats in an imperialist country must ultimately and fundamentally be pro-imperialism. This is an essential characteristic and requirement of social democracy in a country like this.

An Actual Socialist Revolution

In Breakthroughs, The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism, A Basic Summary, I emphasized how Karl Marx, the founder (along with Frederick Engels) of the communist movement, pointed out that

one of the distinguishing features of reformists—including reformist “socialists”—is that, insofar as they identify the economy as the source of inequality and other social maladies, they tend to locate the problem in the sphere of distribution, whereas the fundamental source of the oppression and inequality that characterize an exploitative society, such as capitalism, resides in the sphere of production, and more specifically the relations of production.

This “distinguishing feature” characterizes someone like Sanders, with his familiar denunciations of the “billionaire” class and its grossly disproportionate share of the wealth and unfair domination of the political process (note: criticism of the “billionaire class,” not opposition to the whole capitalist system).

The final goal of an actual socialist revolution is the attainment of communism throughout the world, with the elimination of all relations of exploitation and oppression, and the antagonistic conflicts to which they give rise. This requires changing the whole systemgetting rid of the capitalist system and replacing it with a radically different system—not just making some changes within the existing capitalist system.

In this overall process, the transformation of the mode of production is fundamental. The “mode of production” refers to the economic system which embodies certain relations of production, and most essentially the ownership of the means of production—land, raw materials, physical structures such as factories, and technology—which under this system are privately owned and controlled by capitalists, or major associations of capital such as corporations, banks, etc. This is the foundation on which capitalists exploit masses of people—in all parts of the world—who own no means of production and are therefore forced to work for the capitalists who monopolize the means of production. And this is the basis on which capitalists accumulate profit privately, in feverish competition with other capitalists. An actual socialist revolution aims to transform the ownership of the means of production into common ownership by society as a whole, which makes it possible to do what can never be done under capitalism: to carry out production on the basis of an overall plan, proceeding not through exploitation but through the conscious and active involvement of the masses of people, interacting with the rest of nature in a sustainable way while meeting the material as well as the cultural and intellectual needs of the people—not just in one part of the world but ultimately in the world as a whole—and moving to do away completely with poverty, deprivation, and degradation, and all the unnecessary suffering that masses of people throughout the world endure under the domination of this capitalist system.

At the same time, the transformation of the mode of production must be carried out in a dialectical relation (a back-and-forth mutually influencing process) with the transformation of oppressive social relations (such as the relation between men and women) and the ideas and culture that reinforce oppression and exploitation. And, of great importance, all of this depends upon—and is impossible to achieve without—defeating and dismantling the state apparatus (in particular, the armed forces and police, as well as the courts and bureaucracies, and the executive power) enforcing the rule of the exploiters (the capitalist class) and replacing this with a socialist state power whose purpose and function is to serve and promote the radical transformation of society, and the world as a whole, toward the abolition of all exploitation and oppression.1

In a number of my writings, and recently in the following passage in Breakthroughs, I have spoken to the relation between transforming the mode of production and transforming social relations:

Ultimately, the mode of production sets the foundation and the limits of change, in terms of how you address any social problem, such as the oppression of women, or the oppression of Black people or Latinos, or the contradiction between mental work and manual work, or the situation with the environment, or the situation of immigrants, and so on. While all those things have reality and dynamics in their own right, and aren’t reducible to the economic system, they all take place within the framework and within the fundamental dynamics of that economic system; and that economic system, that mode of production, sets the foundation and the ultimate limits of change in regard to all those social questions. So, if you want to get rid of all these different forms of oppression, you have to address them in their own right, but you also have to fundamentally change the economic system to give you the ability to be able to carry through those changes in fundamental terms. To put it another way: You have to have an economic system that doesn’t prevent you from making those changes, and instead not only allows but provides a favorable foundation for making those changes. (The New Communism, Part I, “Method and Approach, Communism as a Science,” p. 77, italics in original, cited in Breakthroughs, which is also available at revcom.us.)

The Immediate Danger and the Fundamental Solution

As outlined above, what is strikingly dishonest in David Brooks’ portrayal of Bernie Sanders is the way Brooks treats Sanders as essentially the same as Trump. While what is represented by Sanders, as well as Trump, remains within the framework of the capitalist-imperialist system, within that framework there is a very real difference between the social democracy promoted by Sanders and the fascism of the Trump/Pence regime. It is that fascist regime which constitutes a concentrated immediate danger, to society and humanity as a whole, while in fundamental terms it is capitalist rule itself, in any form, and the monstrous system of exploitation and oppression it enforces with murderous and massively destructive violence, that must be swept away and replaced by a radically different society and world.

 

1. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, contains a sweeping vision, and at the same time a concrete blueprint, for a radically different society—an actual socialist country aiming for the final goal of a communist world. [back]

DOWNLOAD PDF to print and spread everywhere:

DAVID BROOKS—THE NOT SO GREAT PRETENDER—

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/636/bob-avakian_on-bargains-with-the-devil-en.html

BOB AVAKIAN ON

"BARGAINS WITH THE DEVIL" — TRUMP FASCISM, "OBAMANATION,"
AND THE SYSTEM THEY SERVE

| revcom.us

 

As an atheist I am reluctant to invoke religious imagery, but “bargain with the devil” does seem to be a fitting metaphor to characterize important aspects of what has gone on in recent years in the dominant politics of this country. In The Trump/Pence Regime Must Go!1 I pointed to the “unholy alliance” between fundamentalist Christian Fascists and Trump, whose personal behavior and “morals” are flagrantly in conflict with the no less despicable but definitely different “values” espoused by these Christian Fascists. It is, however, not just religious fundamentalists who have made a “bargain with the devil”; it is also those who claim that there is much about Trump’s “behavior” that they do not like, and who may even distance themselves from some of Trump’s blatant bigotry, yet nevertheless say that they support him because under Trump the economy is doing well.

Some have pointed to flaws in this position, by noting that much of the “economic progress” that Trump takes credit for began when Obama was president and engineered a “recovery” from the economic crisis of 2007-8; that official unemployment may be low, but actual unemployment is significantly greater; that many jobs are low-paying and insecure; that huge numbers of college graduates are saddled with tremendous debt; that many families, even among those seemingly well off or comfortable economically, are only a major health crisis away from extreme financial pressure or even ruin; that more than 550,000 people are homeless on a typical night; that income inequality has grown to grotesque proportions...and so on. But it has to be bluntly said that arguments of this kind, however valid they might be on their own terms, are not just essentially beside the point in relation to Trump but serve to validate a standard and criterion that should never be applied or accepted—that it would be legitimate to support fascists, such as those of the Trump/Pence regime, if such a regime actually did improve the economy.

With previous fascist regimes it was the case that, for a time, there was significant improvement in the economy. For example, with the rise to power of Mussolini in Italy after World War 1, some chaos in society and the functioning of the economy was eliminated and “order restored” (this was “memorialized” in the saying that Mussolini “made the trains run on time”). Even more dramatically, when Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany, after years of massive unemployment and astronomical inflation, there was a dramatic improvement in the economic situation, particularly stimulated by the ramping up of the machinery of war. To support the Trump/Pence regime on the basis of the performance of the economy is no less morally bankrupt and despicable than it would have been to support those previous fascist regimes, under Mussolini and Hitler, on the same basis.

Refuse Fascism, which from the beginning of the Trump/Pence regime has pointed to its fascist nature and called for nonviolent but sustained mass mobilization to demand the removal of this regime, has recently called attention to the fact that, in the wake of the Senate impeachment trial and acquittal of Trump:

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.

All this is what is being facilitated and furthered in supporting Trump, no matter what reason, or rationalization, is given for this support. And while Trump may not literally be the “devil”—any more than he is the Messiah that some of his fanatical religious fundamentalist followers apparently believe him to be—a “bargain” that involves supporting Trump is something that no one could ever make without destroying whatever decency and humanity they might still have left.

****

Support for the fascist enforcement of capitalist rule is, however, not the only form in which moral bankruptcy has been expressed in the political realm. This is also the case with those who have been unable to rid themselves of the affliction, and addiction, of supporting more “enlightened” representatives of this system. A striking example of this is those who allowed themselves the delusional ecstasy of believing that when Barack Obama became president this would somehow mean that long years of horrific oppression and degradation would end and barriers to opportunity and achievement would be removed. In reality, while perhaps more Black faces were found in high places, and while some Black cultural figures were courted by the Obamas, the situation for the masses of Black people—including the hundreds murdered by police each year and the overall police terror directed against Black people and other oppressed people—did not change for the better during the Obama presidency. In fact, in this regard the main effect of Obama’s becoming president was to reinforce and further promote the vicious lie that there are no barriers to anyone “making it” in America, with the unavoidable implication (or outright insistence) that if some people have not “made it,” it is their own fault—a lie that was voiced by Obama himself in his 2012 election victory speech.

And delusion about what Obama represents led many to be blinded, or to turn a blind eye, to the war crimes and other crimes against humanity, and the plunder of the environment, by the U.S. (and its “allies”) while Obama was chief executive and “commander-in-chief.” This included the 2014 slaughter by Israel of more than 2,000 people in Gaza, Palestine—the great majority civilians, including hundreds of children—which Obama fully and forcefully backed. And then there is the meaning and effect of what Obama has said in relation to Vietnam. In a recent article,2 I highlighted the wanton destruction and depraved atrocity perpetrated by the U.S. military in Vietnam, including:

the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese civilians, with incessant bombing and shelling, including of schools, hospitals, dams and other crucial infrastructure, and widespread use of napalm, white phosphorous, Agent Orange, and millions of anti-personnel weapons, burning to death and maiming huge numbers of children and others;

ruining the livelihood of millions of Vietnamese—destroying large parts of the soil and livestock so essential for the people in rural Vietnam;

torture of people held as prisoners—including large numbers of civilians—male, female, old and young, including the very young;

mutilating the bodies and wearing as “trophies” body parts of Vietnamese killed;

mass rape of Vietnamese women and girls.

All this, and more, was the “service” carried out by the U.S. military and its soldiers in Vietnam. Did Barack Obama, as president and “commander-in-chief,” have anything to say about this? Yes, he did. He did so, however, not to condemn this unspeakable atrocity and bury the possibility of its ever being perpetrated again—but, on the contrary, to praise those who carried this out. Look, for example, at the following remarks by Obama as part of the May 28, 2013 Vietnam War Commemoration:

One of the most painful chapters in our history was Vietnam—most particularly, how we treated our troops who served there.... [Y]ou wrote one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history.

Here it should be said that the only acts of true bravery and integrity by U.S. soldiers and veterans of the Vietnam war were carried out by those—numbering eventually in the thousands—who turned against that war and played a key part in exposing what the U.S. military was really doing there and in contributing to what became massive opposition to the war. But, in speaking of the “bravery and integrity” of “the troops who served” in Vietnam, Obama is actually endorsing the truly monstrous crimes that were systematically and relentlessly carried out by the U.S. military and its soldiers in Vietnam; and his remarks amount to saying that what was “painful” was not that atrocity, and the horrors it inflicted on the Vietnamese people, but the fact that those who ordered and carried out these unspeakable acts were not given the support and respect Obama believes they deserve! This serves not only to “honor” horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity in the past but to “legitimize” and encourage support for such actions by the U.S. (and its “allies”) in the present and future.

To continue the metaphor, can anyone really continue to worship Obama without “selling their soul to the devil”—not just Obama himself but the greater “devil,” the capitalist-imperialist system whose faithful servant he is?

 


1. 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 this speech by Bob Avakian is available at revcom.us. [back]

2. The article quoted here, “Bob Avakian, On Impeachment, Crimes Against Humanity, Liberals and Lies, Provocative and Profound Truths,” is available at revcom.us. [back]

 

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/640/why-does-the-world-still-lack-for-face-masks-en.html

Question: Why Does the World Still Lack for Face Masks?
Especially in A World of Mass Production, with Incredible Capacity
Answer: Capitalism-Imperialism.

| revcom.us

 

Gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, the whole world is confronting a desperate shortage of medical masks to prevent healthcare workers from being sidelined—or killed—by the virus.

An article in U.S. News and World Report (“The Global Effort to Tackle the Coronavirus Face Mask Shortage”) describes an insane situation: countries without stockpiles of masks for a global pandemic that was foreseeable; the vast productive capacity of global capitalism yet unable to produce and supply nearly enough masks; and even the masks that exist bottled up by export bans, not getting where they’re most needed.

For example, it describes a situation where the “dire shortage in China, even in hospitals, was made horrifyingly obvious by the infection of more than 3,000 health care workers. China was driven to try to import masks from many other countries... Italy, the worst-hit country in Europe, is getting 800,000 face masks from South Africa, but it still needs at least ten million more.” (Emphasis added.) China produces half of the world’s face masks in normal circumstances.

Acknowledging hard realities, the article says: “Crises like this one are too large and complex for individual nation-states to tackle and solve on their own.” (Emphasis ours.) And it asks: “How can we compel global businesses to be more fully involved in preparing for the next pandemic and to work with governments at various levels?”

Let’s look at the reality under this system of capitalism-imperialism!

Yes, the “global production chains”1 of this system can produce a lot of goods and services, wealth! But they do not exist and are not organized to produce what humanity needs. They are organized, and driven, to maximize profits for competing large blocs of capital, by “linking” and profiting off the exploitation—and super-exploitation—of people, particularly in the Third World (or “Global South,” as the article calls it).

Capitalist production chains are organized around what is likely to be profitable in the short term, not what the needs of humanity are or may be, nor guided by conscious planning. Actual manufacture and labor-intensive assembly of products often get highly concentrated in low-wage areas, like China, Bangladesh, etc. In crisis situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, production disruptions of face masks in a single country like China can then lead to massive shortfalls globally—when they are most needed! (While there have been some short-term adjustments to re-gear factories elsewhere to manufacture face masks, along with re-starting production in China, a lot more is needed to meet forecasted demands—a 40 percent increase in manufacturing.)

Along with this, at a moment when no genuine socialist societies or states exist in the world,2 the national governments of today do not fundamentally exist to meet the needs of humanity—or of “their own” people, for that matter. They essentially serve as instruments of oppressive ruling classes, and are part of the worldwide system of capitalism-imperialism. They compete and are often in conflict with each other, over resources, markets, and control of regions of the world (like the Middle East or South China Sea). They facilitate the expansion—and competitive advantage—of blocs of capital rooted in their country, in competition with that of other countries.

All this has ultimately led to a situation where, as the U.S. News and World Report article recognizes, “In the context of global capitalism, the folly of overlooking the centrality of economic globalization—this time in the form of the global face mask supply chain—in contributing and responding to a global health crisis is now obvious.”

In stark contrast, IMAGINE A WORLD where the economy, production infrastructure, and people’s efforts, knowledge and creativity are organized—globally—around the needs of humanity. Unconstrained by the driving needs of accumulating profit, and by the competition and conflict of blocs of capital and nation-states. Imagine a world in which forethought and conscious planning are given to preparing for disasters, and where—when they happen—the economy and society are reoriented, and people led and unleashed to create and surge help to the places that are hardest hit and where it is most needed.

That world is possible, but it will take an ACTUAL Revolution—Nothing Less! to wrench it out of today’s nightmares, and out from under the grip of this system of capitalism-imperialism.


1. Global production chains—or supply chains—describe the worldwide network of people and activities involved in the production, handling, and distribution of materials and products or services under this system. For something like a laptop, this may involve aspects from the supply of raw materials like the rare mineral coltan mined in Congo, design and marketing in California, silicon chips and electronic manufactured in Taiwan and other countries, labor-intensive assembly in sweatshops in China, and shipping worldwide, most container ships using high-polluting low-cost fuel oil in international waters. [back]

2. China is a capitalist state, despite characterizations to the contrary coming from not only the Chinese government but also mainstream intellectuals, media, and others. For more, see You Don’t Know What You Think You “Know” About…The Communist Revolution and the REAL Path to Emancipation: Its History and Our Future, an interview with Raymond Lotta. [back]

masks shortage in Wuhan
The vast productive capacity of global capitalism is yet unable to produce and supply nearly enough masks even where they are most needed, like in this ICU in Wuhan, China. Photo: AP

What If the World Doesn't Have To Be This Way?

Watch BA's whole speech:

Watch clips from speech

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/640/new-yorker-interviews-doctor-at-rikers-island-prison-as-coronavirus-hits-en.html

Check It Out

New Yorker Interviews Doctor at Rikers Island Prison as Coronavirus Hits: Horror on Top of Horror at America’s Hellholes

| revcom.us

 

From a reader:

What will happen when the coronavirus hits the overcrowded prisons and jails of America, a country which incarcerates more people than any other country in the world?

Actually, the virus has already hit these hellholes. An interview that New Yorker magazine’s Jennifer Gonnerman did with Rachael Bedard, a medical doctor at New York City’s Rikers Island jail, gives a chilling sense of the horrors that are just beginning to unfold in this country’s prisons and jails (“A Rikers Island Doctor Speaks Out to Save Her Elderly Patients from the Coronavirus,” March 20). As of March 20, it was reported that there were already 21 people jailed at Rikers who have tested positive for the coronavirus, along with 12 jail employees and 5 health workers.

Until a couple of years ago, Rikers Island held up to 10,000 people daily, the majority of whom were Black and Latino people (mostly men) from low-income neighborhoods. Some 85 percent of them had not been convicted of any crimes but were held behind bars—for weeks, months, or even years—awaiting trial, usually because they were not able to pay bail. Widespread exposure, outrage and protest about the brutality and dehumanizing conditions at Rikers forced the city authorities to announce they would eventually close down the jail. But 5,400 people a day on average are still jailed at Rikers. And those incarcerated at Rikers are still overwhelmingly Black and Latino.

Dr. Bedard points out that “like a nursing home, there were already two positive cases of the COVID-19 among those held at Rikers. The doctor points out that “like a nursing home, a jail is a perfect setup for an outbreak.” In particular, at Rikers, “picture those five thousand four hundred people all living in congregate settings, either dormitories of forty men, beds three and a half feet apart, or cell blocks where everybody is sharing one common space, one common hallway. These spaces are locked. These guys have absolutely no freedom of movement.”

And then there are all the jail personnel—the workers dealing with food, the medical staff, and others. At the time of the interview, Dr. Bedard herself had a fever and shortness of breath (which are among the symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus)—but had not yet been tested for the virus.

Dr. Bedard is a geriatrician, so she takes care of older patients. She points out that contrary to common perception, a significant number of people in prisons and jails are older people. At Rikers, there are more than 900 incarcerated people aged 50 and over. And older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Dr. Bedard says she currently has multiple patients in their 80s, and one in his 90s, with various serious health issues—including those who are A.D.L.-impaired, meaning “they cannot attend to their own activities of daily living and would be nursing-home- or assisted-living-eligible if they were in the community—who need daily assistance with really basic tasks like toileting and changing themselves.”

What kind of a criminal system puts people like this behind bars in the first place—and then keeps them locked up in such dangerous conditions even as a deadly pandemic spreads?!

Deeply alarmed by this situation at Rikers and other jails and prisons, Dr. Bedard and some of her colleagues have been speaking out publicly about the need for drastic action. She wrote on Twitter, “We need to take the unprecedented step TODAY of providing urgent release to everyone in the jails who is at risk of serious morbidity and mortality from COVID.” A group of Rikers inmates issued a statement saying they were refusing to leave their dorms in protest of the crowded conditions and lack of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies provided to them. And they demanded that all imates over 50, incarcerated for parole violations, with high-risk health conditions, and with less than a year of sentenced time “BE IMMEDIATELY RELEASED.” The chief medical officer at Rikers, Dr. Ross MacDonald, also tweeted a challenge to “judges and prosecutors in New York” that “A storm is coming ... Please let out as many as possible.”

As of March 19, as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to spike up sharply in New York City and elsewhere, NYC Mayor de Blasio announced he planned to release 40 “coronavirus-prone inmates” from Rikers—a shockingly paltry number. And as bad as the situation at Rikers is with 5,400 people locked up, multiply the horror of what the interview with Dr. Bedard reveals many times over when considering the U.S. as a whole. This is a country that incarcerates over two million people—in over 1,800 state and federal prisons, 3,100+ local jails, and many “detention facilities,” juvenile prisons, military prisons, etc.

This horrible situation at Rikers is an example of what Communique #2 from the Revcoms says: “The coronavirus puts everyone in danger. Yet the way this disease comes down echoes the howling inequalities and intense forms of oppression that run through the heart of U.S. society.”

Check out the whole interview with Dr. Bedard, available online here.

Prisoners at Rikers Island prison
5,400 people a day are jailed at Rikers Island, NY, overwhelmingly poor Black and Latino men who couldn't post bail, and many of them older people with serious health problems. What kind of a criminal system puts people like these behind bars in the first place—and then keeps them locked up in such dangerous conditions even as a deadly pandemic like COVID-19 spreads?!
Photo: AP

Click here to Read and Download

The Coronavirus Pandemic
— A Resource Page

Including:

  • Revcom Communiques
  • Interview with Lenny Wolff
  • An Overall Orientation: Thoughts from a Reader
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Read more

Model of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/640/covid-19-hits-two-million-palestinian-people-in-gaza-en.html

COVID-19 Hits Two Million Palestinian People Under Blockade in Gaza

| revcom.us

 

From a reader:

On March 22, health authorities confirmed the first cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Palestinian territory of Gaza. While the spread of the virus is impacting all of humanity, the danger posed to the two million Palestinians locked down in this tiny, densely populated space is among the most ominous in the world.

From 2008 to 2014, Israel waged repeated one-sided “wars” on Gaza with the backing of the U.S., killing thousands of people, overwhelmingly children and other non-combatants. Civilian infrastructure including hospitals and other medical facilities and a power plant, as well as densely populated residential neighborhoods were specifically targeted by Israeli bombs. Repairs and rebuilding have been made impossible by a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt (which also borders Gaza). One legacy of these massacres is a healthcare system in critical condition. In 2018, a UN report warned that as a result of the Israeli blockade, devastating wars and poorly paid health workers “the availability of medical services and hospitals beds are seriously inadequate to service the many health needs of the two million Gazans. A meager electrical power supply, a badly-depleted water aquifer, the inability to treat sewage and the world’s highest unemployment rates have only intensified the social-health crisis.”

Now that the first cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Gaza, cramped living conditions make social distancing extremely difficult. Unsorted, untreated waste due to denial of access to recycling technology has resulted in massive dumps that are breeding grounds for disease, and an “industry” of desperate people picking through the garbage to find sellable but dangerously contaminated household items.

And the outbreak of coronavirus in Gaza has had an immediate shock on an economy in permanent crisis due to the blockade. Without reliable electricity for refrigeration, people in Gaza rely on outdoor markets for daily food. Now those markets have been closed by the authorities making access to food a critical problem. The relatively small numbers of people who are permitted to cross into Israel to work each day (a few thousand) bring home pay that is vital not just for themselves and their families but all of Gaza. That movement has been stopped. Imported medical supplies, in short supply around the world and in extreme shortage in Gaza, are at the mercy of Israeli authorities. At this writing, Israel has allowed only 200 Coronavirus testing kits into Gaza, not because of any recognition of the value of the lives of Palestinians, but because, in the words of a mainstream Israeli newspaper, “an outbreak [in Gaza] may endanger the health of the people of Israel.”

The people of Gaza cannot be abandoned. Creative ways must be found to expose what is going on; to mobilize global outrage to demand Israel and Egypt completely lift the blockade of Gaza right now; and to call out the utter intolerability of the system that has subjected the Palestinian people of Gaza to this nightmare on top of a nightmare.

COVID-19 spray in Gaza
Now that the first cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Gaza, cramped living conditions make social distancing extremely difficult. Protected workers spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus in a market in Gaza City, March 19. Photo: AP

 massive waste dump in Gaza
Unsorted, untreated waste due to denial of access to recycling technology has resulted in massive dumps that are breeding grounds for disease, and an "industry" of desperate people picking through the garbage in Gaza, 2014. Photo: Ezz Zanoun

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/622/demarcations-special-issue-en.html

Announcing New Special Issue of Demarcations

| revcom.us

 

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

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

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/635/bob-avakian_on-impeachment-crimes-against-humanity-liberals-and-lies-en.html

BOB AVAKIAN

ON IMPEACHMENT, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY,
LIBERALS AND LIES, PROVOCATIVE AND PROFOUND TRUTHS

| revcom.us

 

In the recent impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the Democratic Party prosecutors (“House Managers”) made a very compelling—indeed irrefutable—case, on the terms on which they were seeking to remove Trump.  And the Republican Senators who ignored the facts and the truth, and the principles of the Constitution they had sworn to uphold, and refused to convict Trump in this impeachment trial, have been roundly, and rightly, condemned, particularly by “liberals” (and some others as well).  But let’s look at how the Democrats, and “liberals” who have followed in their wake, have not only ignored profound truths but have spread monstrous lies.

Adam Schiff, the most eloquent of the “House Managers,” positively invoked Ronald Reagan, speaking of the USA as “a shining city on the hill,” when in reality this is a country founded on slavery and genocide, which has continued to viciously exploit and oppress people—and to carry out murderous invasions and coups, while ravaging the environment—with terrible consequences for the masses of people, in every part of the world.  And, throughout the impeachment hearings in the House and then the Senate trial, Schiff and other Democrats made a point of praising witnesses who have been part of the U.S. military, repeatedly referring to William Taylor as a “hero” for his “service” in the U.S. army in Vietnam.  There was, and there is, nothing “heroic” about the U.S. military.  On the contrary, it is—without the slightest exaggeration—a machinery of massive, and unspeakable, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and its actions in Vietnam constitute a systematic concentration of this, with a level of destructiveness and depravity that is almost unfathomable:

the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese civilians, with incessant bombing and shelling, including of schools, hospitals, dams and other crucial infrastructure, and widespread use of napalm, white phosphorous, Agent Orange, and millions of anti-personnel weapons, burning to death and maiming huge numbers of children and others;

ruining the livelihood of millions of Vietnamese—destroying large parts of the soil and livestock so essential for the people in rural Vietnam;

torture of people held as prisoners—including large numbers of civilians—male, female, old and young, including the very young;

mutilating the bodies and wearing as “trophies” body parts of Vietnamese killed;

mass rape of Vietnamese women and girls.

All this, and more, by the U.S. military and its “heroic” soldiers.

Previously, I have challenged “liberals” in particular to seriously engage the “American Crime” series on revcom.us, 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.  Included within that series is the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, in which U.S. soldiers wantonly murdered over 500 civilians, almost all of them old people, non-combatant women and children.  And it is a well-documented fact that this massacre was not some kind of exception, or aberration, but represented the essential approach and means of the American war machine in Vietnam, fueled ideologically by a perverse, poisonous combination of ignorant, irrational anti-communism, American chauvinism, and grotesque racism and misogyny which regarded and treated the Vietnamese people as subhuman “gooks” and “slopes,” and females the lowest of all.

Nothing good will ever come from denying or ignoring these essential truths about this country and its role in the world, or by limiting oneself to condemning the blatant lies of Trump and his fellow fascists in the Republican Party while excusing, or even taking up, the profound lies of Democratic Party defenders and apologists of this monstrous system of capitalism-imperialism.

**************

Here is another provocative but simple and basic truth:

It is very common to hear communism denounced as “totalitarian,” but the fact is that there is no such thing as totalitarianism.  And there has never been a society—in Russia, China, or anywhere else—that corresponds to what is asserted by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism, the seminal work and “Bible” of “anti-totalitarians.”

As I have extensively analyzed, “totalitarianism” is a thoroughly unscientific— or, really, anti-scientific—“theory” which has been concocted and promoted by intellectual apologists of this system of perpetual atrocity (this system of capitalism-imperialism) and which serves to distract from and rationalize this system’s ongoing massive crimes against humanity and to foster irrational opposition to revolution and especially communist revolution.* That anyone could take this “theory” seriously—and that this “theory” is widely treated as some kind of  “sacred wisdom”—is a bitter testament to the willful desire on the part of far too many, including far too many self-professed “liberals,” to accommodate themselves to this capitalist-imperialist system, which rests on the ruthless exploitation of billions of people around the world, including hundreds of millions of children, enforced through brutal repression and massive destructive violence.

What is required in regard to the historical experience of communism, and its relation to human emancipation, is a scientific method and approach.  As pointed out in the article “Fascist Distortion And The Response Of The New Communism” (recently posted on revcom.us):

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....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. 

 


* In the book Democracy: Can’t We Do Better Than That?, Bob Avakian has thoroughly refuted and exposed the anti-scientific character of the “theory” of “totalitarianism” and demonstrated that its primary use has been precisely to promote irrational anti-communism. [back]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

| revcom.us

 

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

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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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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/606/bob-avakian-individualism-beb-and-the-illusion-of-painless-progress-en.html

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

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

| revcom.us

 

Note Added by the Author, Fall 2019

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~

Individualism, BEB and the Illusion of "Painless Progress"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/605/fascists-and-communists-completely-opposed-worlds-apart-en.html

Fascists and Communists:
Completely Opposed and Worlds Apart

By Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/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:

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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

 

 

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

 

Especially right now, funds are urgently needed to spread BA's work and leadership and the movement for an actual revolution.
Sustain or donate generously NOW!

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/616/skybreak-bob-avakian-a-true-scientific-visionary-en.html

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

Bob Avakian–A True Scientific Visionary

| revcom.us

 

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

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

The New Synthesis of Communism and the Residues of the Past

by the Revolutionary Communist Organization, Mexico

Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


 

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

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

| revcom.us

 

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

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

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

The second theme is the critical role of revolutionary theory.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Revolutionary Theory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEW COMMUNISM

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

Download PDF of book here

Read more

Breakthroughs —

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

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

 

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

Watching Fruitvale Station With Bob Avakian

August 22, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

This article was originally published in 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


 

Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/639/taking-science-to-the-masses-during-the-covid-19-crisis-en.html

Field Notes on Taking Science to the Masses During the COVID-19 Crisis

Report from a Member of the National Revolution Tour

| revcom.us

 

On Tuesday we went out principally with the Coronavirus Communiqué #1 to South Central and an immigrant community, finding and engaging mainly Spanish-speakers. We started at the welfare office in the morning, which was closed due to the virus, but people were showing up who didn’t know that. In the afternoon we went to a busy grocery store line, then to an area with a lot of street vendors. We had a sound truck with us for the afternoon, from which we did some agitation on the basis of the flyer.

One thing very striking in most of our conversations was the lack of science people have access to. People have no way of knowing what’s true or not true and so it’s all a mystery and they don’t know what to believe. Many people explicitly told us they don’t know what to believe. This is scary and unnerving to people, it gives rise to seemingly endless conspiracy theories in an attempt to make sense of what’s happening when you know the government and authorities can’t be trusted, and there is a strong pull to rely on religion for stability. In terms of people’s conditions, people are just beginning to be affected in terms of losing jobs or being exposed to risk. There are both inclinations to act in the interests of humanity in this situation and to look out for self or turn frustrations against others who are perceived to be (or actually are) acting selfishly. Sometimes these seemingly contradictory inclinations are felt and expressed by the same people.

In our agitation we were saying: 1) we need science and facts to understand what is happening with this virus and how to act in the interests of humanity, 2) the priorities under this capitalist, profit-driven, me-first system are not the care that people need, and Black people, Latinos, etc. will be harder hit and face more repression, and 3) things don’t have to be this way. And we were reading much of this section in Communiqué # 1.

In many conversations we were continually trying to walk through how to know what’s true. Viruses have been studied and there are patterns to go by. For example, even if it is not known 100% for sure how this one started, it follows a pattern of viruses jumping from animals. When viruses are new to humans, there are no immunities, so that’s part of why it spreads so much and is so deadly. Researchers know some things about how this virus spreads, so that’s why measures like handwashing, etc. are effective.

A lot of people were grateful that we were bringing basic knowledge about the virus, with an orientation of serving the people, and many agreed that oppressed sections of people will be disproportionately affected. Part of our orientation was in relation to the paragraph from HOW WE CAN WIN—How We Can Really Make Revolution, “The organized forces and the leadership of this revolution must become the ‘authority’ that growing numbers of people look to and follow ...” and that people should be asking “who are those people and who is this leader Bob Avakian,” and getting a sense of people working for an actual revolution and a movement for revolution to be part of and contribute to.

There were about five people who took flyers to distribute to others, and two of those gave their phone numbers to stay in contact. Those who gave their numbers were people who engaged the full content of what we were saying: things don’t have to be this way and why, including the leadership of BA and people taking up that leadership. When told they could and were needed to be part of working on the problem of bringing forward a movement for revolution among the people, they wanted to know how. In both cases, we read the last paragraph of the communiqué: “We are getting out this communiqué as one part of preparing for that revolution. Help get this out to others ... let us know what comes up when you do and what needs to be investigated and spoken to ... be part of this movement. And learn more about this movement for an actual revolution at www.revcom.us,” with emphasis on really learning what is coming back from others as part of the ability to lead people, and they agreed to help do that. They took flyers and gave their info. One said he would take it to the transitional housing where he worked, and said he has been wanting to get involved in something for the people.

We learned a little bit about people’s conditions related to the savage inequalities of this system.

In several conversations, people went to religion/god.

Many people wanted to know why is there so much hype over this disease, when diseases are always going around. And didn’t know the difference between particular actions to prevent the spread of this particular virus vs. general advice about spreading germs. This is feeding into theories that there is some other reason behind all this. People had many variations of conspiracy theories.

Some people talked about how others are being selfish by buying up so much stuff from the grocery stores that there’s not enough for others, or by even going out to grocery stores and other places instead of staying at home like they’re supposed to. Some people saying this were themselves out at the grocery stores. Others have been staying indoors and feared that people disobeying directives is going to be the cause of a repressive clampdown, i.e. the national guard coming in.

One thing that would be important to address in the next (or future) communiqué is some compare and contrast of a scientific method to understanding this and knowing what’s true vs. false pattern recognition or believing in this or that authority or assuming things can’t be known for sure except by higher (imaginary) beings. And why that matters. I also think it would be good to have a box of the basic things of what people can do to avoid contracting and spreading the virus like what is currently on the resource page about this. Also, how would a new socialist republic approach this problem. And maybe more explicitly how do people go up against “look out for number one” now and act in line with the interests of humanity. (I think the point in the last one about being prepared to stand with those who fight for decent care, etc. is an example of that, but could be even more explicitly in contrast with self-first. But also, paying attention to not spreading it, sharing the communiqués, etc.)

Communiques from the Revcoms

Communique #1 from the Revcoms:

Real Truth on the Coronavirus: What It Is and How to Confront It

Read more

Download and print PDF


Communique #2 from the Revcoms

The Coronavirus... and the Savage Inequalities of America

Read more

Download and print PDF

For more about the National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour click HERE

See also:

An Overall Orientation:
Thoughts from a Reader on the Coronavirus COVID-19 Epidemic

Read more

The Coronavirus Pandemic — A Resource Page

Including:

  • What is the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease, and where did it come from?
  • What happens to people if they are infected with the coronavirus?
  • and more...

Read more

Model of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease.

 

 

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Read: www.revcom.us
Watch: youtube.com/TheRevComs

 

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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/640/correspondence-on-rnl-show-en.html

Correspondence

"You'd have to be dead or an abiotic collection of matter to not be rocked and brimming with enthusiasm about the new YouTube show: The RNL Show..."

| revcom.us

 

From a Revolution Club member, Chicago:

You’d have to be dead or an abiotic collection of matter to not be rocked and brimming with enthusiasm about the new YouTube show: The RNL Show.

The Revolution Club in Chicago had a conference call to bat around the potential wide distribution of this show. We brainstormed who to reach to be a part of the growing community around the show and yearning to learn more and follow the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian (BA). Some groups we thought of were: 1) The masses, especially in light of the livestream and field notes, in a more systematic manner, which discussed being out in different sections of basic people; 2) The students who now find themselves stranded either on or near campus or unable to go home; 3) The prisoners whose conditions we wish we knew more about. What’s being batted around behind bars by people trying to understand what is going on? This section of people has a profound impact on youth caught up in the life in Chicago; and 4) The many people across all sections of society at home in quarantine, encouraging and forging a direct line with this of funding and hosting space to spread revolution and engagement of BA.

Another thing we batted around was the racist use of the term “Chinese virus” and the extreme xenophobia that is being tapped into and exacerbated by the Trump/Pence fascist regime. We got into this because this problem is a physical threat, economic threat, and a targeting of billions of people that extend far beyond just China by racist thugs with the backing of the state. These fascists tout lies and instill fear even in people who are trying to objectively look at things; they cling hopefully to the shreds of everyone is equal under the eyes of the law which we know is not true of this capitalist system.

The Communiqués from the revcoms really put the terms straight out of what is happening and what role the state is playing in making this worse. And the necessity to oust the regime and to fight for a system in which humanity comes first, even while taking this virus very seriously. Highlighting and opening the truth that this capitalist system cannot function in the way necessary to best deal with this pandemic (globally or locally) due to its very workings. If people are wanting to see this, watch how the news talks about Wall Street, the market, and the insane drops of the Nasdaq and the growing unemployment rate.

In distributing the links and QR codes for the YouTube show and account, we wanted to know if a sticker is going to be designed nationally. We only ask this of you guys because maybe there is a national conception of what that would look like before we create our own design. By having stickers people can slap surfaces with the info anywhere where people can see it.

We also have a list of ideas on YouTubers that would be great to reach out to in order to promote the show to, and I’m working with the Chicago Club to get everyone’s suggestions. We need a movement of encouraging and forging a direct line of funding, hosting, and becoming the essential active participants we need for revolution, spreading and challenging others to get into BA en masse. There is a rather remarkable gap in age and how much time is spent on the platform. It’s embarrassing to mention the ungodly amounts of time us millennials pour into this platform. However, one thing to note on these creators’ pages and programs is that their non-video real-time community engagements happen through Twitter and Facebook, like with podcasters. Instagram can be a source but it relies much more heavily on artistic content, making it less a vehicle for interaction beyond promotion as compared to something like Twitter.

Launching Wednesday, March 25:

The RNL Show—Revolution, Nothing Less!

The RNL Show is a new weekly YouTube show rooted in the new communism forged by the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian and launching Wednesday, March 25. It will be hosted by Andy Zee along with other members of the Revolution Tour. The world is a nightmare for the masses of people worldwide, but it doesn’t have to be. Revolution and a whole better world IS possible.

Watch the promo video here or on YouTube, subscribe to the YouTube channel, leave a comment, and spread the word all over social media to help extend the reach of this launch.

 

 

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/640/bob-avakian-sean-penn-covid-19-and-mass-murderers-en.html

SEAN PENN, COVID-19 AND MASS MURDERERS

Penn's Myopia Is Malignant

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

In a recent appearance on CNN, in discussing the possible role of the U.S. military in the current crisis related to the coronavirus COVID-19, the prominent actor Sean Penn actually said the following: “There is no greater humanitarian force on the planet than the United States military.”

In the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Haiti in January, 2010, Penn devoted himself for an extended period to relief efforts in that country. That, taken by itself, would be admirable. But, proceeding from his cooperation with the U.S. military in relation to those relief efforts, Penn has completely misrepresented and covered over the overall and essential nature and actions of the U.S. military, and he has gone so far as to glorify this military which, by its very nature and in accordance with the system it serves and seeks to enforce, has been and continues to be guilty of the most horrendous war crimes and crimes against humanity.

To begin with, the following gives a graphic sense of the larger role of the U.S., and in particular its military, in its overall relations with Haiti over the past 100 years and more.

At the time of the 2010 earthquake, speaking of the U.S. role in Haiti, Bill Quigley, legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said: “We have kept the country dependent. We have kept the country militarized. And we kept the country impoverished. We have dumped our excess rice, our excess farm produce and that stuff on the country, thereby undercutting the small farmers who would make up the backbone of the place... We didn’t create the earthquake, but we created some of the circumstances that made the earthquake so devastating....” (Democracy Now!, January 14, 2010)1

**********

In the 20th century, the U.S. asserted itself as the dominant power in its “backyard.” In 1915 it invaded and occupied Haiti. U.S. Marines went straight to the Haitian national bank and removed its gold reserves to Citibank in New York City. The Haitian constitution was rewritten to allow foreign ownership of Haitian property; land was seized from small peasants to create large plantations; the economy was reorganized so that 40% of Haiti’s gross domestic product flowed to U.S. banks.

The Haitian people fiercely resisted the occupation in a series of revolts which the U.S. military ruthlessly crushed, murdering leaders, burning villages to the ground and killing 15‑30,000 Haitians. The occupiers did not leave until 1934, leaving behind the brutal, U.S.‑trained, Haitian National Army to repress the people.

In 1957, François “Papa Doc” Duvalier came to power and set up his own army of thugs—the Tontons Macoutes. The Duvalierist reign of terror—supported and backed by the U.S.—killed roughly 50,000 people.

When Papa Doc died in 1971, U.S. warships were stationed just off the coast of Haiti to oversee a smooth transition of power to Duvalier’s son, Jean‑Claude (“Baby Doc”). Baby Doc was closely associated with the “American Plan,” which explicitly aimed to cut the ground out from under peasant agriculture by large‑scale imports of cheaper U.S. goods, driving hundreds of thousands of peasants into the cities and shantytowns, desperate for work in U.S.‑owned assembly plants being set up by the likes of Disney and Kmart, which paid workers 11 cents an hour to make pajamas and t‑shirts.

In 1985‑86 a powerful uprising swept Haiti, forcing the U.S. to rescue Baby Doc and fly him to the French Riviera, in order to preserve their basic control of the country through the Haitian Army. A series of military governments followed, known to Haitians as “Duvalierism without Duvalier.”2

**********

Racist attitudes toward the Haitian people by U.S. occupation forces were blatant and widespread. Robert Lansing, then U.S. secretary of state, justified the occupation by claiming Haitians had “an inherent tendency toward savagery and a physical inability to live a civilized life,” so were incapable of self‑government. Medill McCormick, a senator from Illinois, wrote in 1920 that the American occupation was necessary “to develop the country, the Government, and above all, the civilization of the people, of whom the overwhelming majority have African blood in their veins.” There were many reports of U.S. Marines sexually assaulting Haitian women. The occupation included segregation and enforced chain gangs to build roads and other construction projects....

Haitian people fiercely resisted the occupation in a series of revolts, which the U.S. military ruthlessly crushed—murdering leaders, burning villages to the ground, and killing thousands of people. Haitian‑American author Edwidge Danticat wrote: “My grandfather was one of the Cacos, or so‑called bandits, whom retired American Marines have always written about in their memoirs. They would be called insurgents now, the thousands who fought against the occupation. One of the stories my grandfather’s oldest son, my uncle Joseph, used to tell was of watching a group of young Marines kicking around a man’s decapitated head in an effort to frighten the rebels in their area.” Danticat also talks about how the Marines murdered one of the occupation’s most famous resistance fighters, Charlemagne Péralte, then pinned his body to a door where it was left to rot in the sun for days.

During the 19 years of the U.S. occupation, at least 15,000 Haitians were killed. In 1918 there was an uprising of some 40,000 people. After the Haitian Gendarmerie was overwhelmed, U.S. Marines helped put down the rebellion, killing 2,000 people. During a December 1929 demonstration in the city of Les Cayes, part of a nationwide strike and ongoing rebellion, U.S. Marines fired on 1,500 people, wounding 23 and killing 12.3

**********

In other words, during the last 16 years that Haiti has been occupied by various combinations of UN and U.S. troops—and not just since the earthquake—most people's lives have gotten much worse.4

What the U.S. has actually done, over the course of more than a century, in Haiti is consistent with and part of a larger pattern that involves repeated atrocity, slaughter and destruction on a mass scale carried out by the U.S. military, as well as the CIA and other “intelligent services” working with—and forcefully backed up by—the U.S. military throughout its history and right up to today.

Without going back through all the atrocities committed by the U.S. military from the beginning of this country, including its genocidal wars against the native peoples and its vicious enforcement of slavery and suppression of uprisings against slavery, the following, drawn from the experience of just the last 75 years, gives a fuller picture of the truly grotesque nature and role of this military:

Dropping atomic bombs on two Japanese cities at the end of World War 2 in 1945, immediately killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and subjecting many others to excruciating suffering and eventual death.

Carrying out numerous invasions and coups, in countries all over the world, through which masses of people were slaughtered and the countries subjected to decades of tyrannical rule (for example: coups in Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia, in 1965, and the invasion of the Dominican Republic, next door neighbor to Haiti, killing thousands, in 1965, at the same time as the U.S. was escalating its war in Vietnam).

Killing several million people during the Korean war of 1950-53 and, among other things, virtually flattening the entire country of North Korea.

Slaughtering several million more and poisoning large parts of the countryside during the Vietnam war, from 1964-73, including the use of such grotesque chemical weapons as napalm (flesh-burning jellied gasoline), white phosphorous and Agent Orange.5

And so it has gone over the time since the Vietnam war, with continuing bloody coups and invasions. In more recent times, for example:

Over the course of 18 years, three [U.S.] administrations have deployed nearly 800,000 troops to Afghanistan, and 50 NATO countries and their partners have sent tens of thousands more.

The violence unleashed by the U.S. has been staggering. Between 2004 and 2018, it dropped over 38,000 bombs on Afghanistan. As of March 2020, it had carried out over 12,000 drone strikes.

U.S. forces and their Afghan clients terrorized people with dead‑of‑night house searches. They created a network of prison and detention centers where at least 15,000 Afghans have been detained on little or no evidence, brutally beaten, tortured, and sometimes killed. This week the International Criminal Court stated it had proof that U.S. forces had “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape, and sexual violence”—war crimes—in Afghanistan.

By August 2016, some 111,000 people had been killed and over 116,000 injured in the war. And one study found that the “war on terror” had directly or indirectly led to around 220,000 deaths in Afghanistan by 2013. On top of this carnage, nearly five million Afghan people have been forced from their homes by the war.6

This, along with what the U.S. and its military has done through waging war in Iraq, including the 2003 invasion of that country and its aftermath, which constituted an international war crime and (as I have pointed out previously) “unleashed a maelstrom of death and destruction in that part of the world.”7

And then there is the role of the U.S. military within this country in more recent times—backing up the police in suppressing urban rebellions during the 1960s and again in 1992 and killing hundreds of people in the process, many of them unarmed (rebellions which in large part erupted in response to violence—brutality and murder—by police).

Is all this what Sean Penn has in mind—or has he “conveniently” remained ignorant of, or chosen to ignore, all this—when he praises the U.S. military as the greatest humanitarian force in the world?!

That the U.S. military, as part of U.S. efforts to maintain control and “order” in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, might have taken actions that facilitated relief efforts in some aspects is not difficult to believe. Heads of criminal enterprises, such as Mafia Godfathers, drug lords and cartel bosses, often engage in charitable acts in the effort to burnish their reputation and win good will, or at least acquiescence, from those they prey upon, even as violent terror is their main way of imposing their influence or dominance. And the partial review presented here of the role of U.S. imperialism and its military, not only in Haiti but throughout the world and throughout its history, amply illustrate the truth of the statement that “These imperialists make the Godfather look like Mary Poppins.”8

Whatever their actions might be in any particular situation, the overall and essential nature and role of the institutions of massive violence of this capitalist-imperialist system (the military, and the police as well) must not be covered over and distorted, and still less should these institutions be extolled and glorified. And especially for those, like Sean Penn, who have a platform to speak to masses of people, there remains the responsibility to go beyond one’s own partial and limited experience and corresponding narrow perspective, to seek an understanding of the overall and essential reality and to speak truthfully and responsibly—and not, as Sean Penn is doing, acting in effect as not only an apologist but an intellectual accomplice of the continuing crimes of this system and its armed enforcers.

 


1. “Hurricane Matthew:  A Horror in Haiti, A Cold‑Blooded Response By the Rulers of the U.S.,” Revolution #460, October 10, 2016, available online at revcom.us.  [back]

2. “The U.S. in Haiti: A Century of Domination and Misery,” Revolution #525, January 8, 2017, available online at revcom.us.  [back]

3. “American Crime Case #80: 1915-1931: The U.S. Invasion, Occupation and Domination of Haiti,” Revolution #456, September 12, 2016, available online at revcom.us.  [back]

4. “Cholera in Haiti: a foreseeable result of a criminal system” (From A World To Win News Service), in Revolution #223, January 23, 2011, available online at revcom.us.  [back]

5. For a fuller picture of the horrors visited upon Vietnam and its people by the U.S. during that war, see Bob Avakian, On Bargains With The Devil—Trump Fascism, “Obamanation,” And The System They Serve, available at revcom.us.  [back]

6. “America Leaves Afghanistan After Killing Over 100,000 People in Its ‘Good War,’” posted at revcom.us, March 9, 2020.  [back]

7. Bob Avakian, David Brooks—The Not So Great Pretender—And The Profound Differences Between Trump, Sanders And Actual Socialism, available at revcom.us.  [back]

8. BAsics 1:7 (BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian).  [back]

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.

Read more

 

 

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

 

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

 

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Permalink: https://revcom.us/a/640/bob-avakian-the-deadly-illusion-of-normalcy-en.html

THE DEADLY ILLUSION OF "NORMALCY" AND THE REVOLUTIONARY WAY FORWARD

by Bob Avakian

| revcom.us

 

Even before the coronavirus became a worldwide pandemic, a New York Times columnist wrote about the lure of boredom—arguing that, after the years of Trump madness, having a sleep-inducing president (like Joe Biden) might be just what is needed. The impact of the coronavirus has reinforced and strengthened this tendency toward a “yearning for normalcy,” especially on the part of the section of the ruling class represented by the NYT and that section of society, particularly among the more formally educated middle strata, that for some time has, to a significant degree, identified with what is represented by the NYT.

But, in fundamental terms, this notion of a “return to normalcy” is an illusion that will be exploded by the nature and workings of the system of capitalism-imperialism to which the masses of humanity are subjected.

In the context of this current crisis, the exploitative and oppressive relations built into this system are asserting themselves in a pronounced way, within this country and internationally, just as they have in previous crises. For example, when Hurricane Katrina hit, in New Orleans and surrounding areas in 2005, even as broad sections of people suffered, it was poor Black people who were hit in the most devastating ways, because of the oppression and savage inequalities to which they were already subjected and because of the not-so-benign neglect and often malign actions of those in power. The same has been true with regard to AIDS—it is those who have been discriminated against and denigrated who have suffered the most—and the lop-sided burden of suffering has been especially pronounced on an international scale, with people in sub-Saharan Africa in particular enduring tremendous devastation.

Even as broad swaths of the population will be hit by the coronavirus, this inequality will once again have its effect in this country in relation to the current crisis—as immigrants, prisoners, the homeless, people in poor communities, particularly among the oppressed nationalities, and others who are subordinated, degraded and despised by the “normal workings” of this system and the powers that be, will be subjected to disproportionate suffering.1

And internationally the same dynamics apply in an even greater way. As I have pointed to previously:

we live in a world where large parts of humanity live in stark poverty, with 2.3 billion people lacking even rudimentary toilets or latrines and huge numbers suffering from preventable diseases, with millions of children dying every year from these diseases and from starvation, while 150 million children in the world are forced to engage in ruthlessly exploited child labor, and the whole world economy rests on a vast network of sweatshops, employing large numbers of women who are regularly subjected to sexual harassment and assault, a world where 65 million refugees have been displaced by war, poverty, persecution, and the effects of global warming.2

It is those, worldwide, who are maintained in these conditions who will be hit hardest in this crisis, as they have been in the past.

All this, combined with the continuing and rapidly deepening climate crisis, rooted in the dynamics of this system and increasingly posing an existential threat to all of humanity, will drive masses, millions and ultimately billions, of people to even further desperation, and no one on the planet will be able to avoid the repercussions and effects of all this.

The Immediate Dangers, the Fundamental Problem and the Revolutionary Solution

Several years ago, I pointed out:

Today, while the U.S. is, and loudly proclaims itself to be, the world’s number one superpower, it is riddled with sharpening contradictions, and facing growing challenges, within the country and internationally, and this has brought forth a fascist regime that now holds the reins of power, with the finger of a demented bully on the nuclear button—a regime that, without exaggeration, threatens not just greatly heightened suffering for the masses of humanity but the very existence of humanity itself.3

And, in a number of other countries, fascism has continued to gain strength, as a response—a fanatical, lunatic, and violent reaction—to changes being driven fundamentally by the necessities and dynamics of the capitalist-imperialist system and the fact that this system does not have, and cannot have, any positive resolution to all this. Despite what many (especially many “liberals”) would like to believe, the notion that especially in times of crisis like this “we are all in this together” is in conflict with and is refuted by reality and specifically is not adhered to by the fascist forces. For example, gun sales in this country have skyrocketed even higher amidst this crisis, as “Second Amendment types” stock up even further on lethal weapons to “protect themselves” from “criminals” (and, on the part of many, to prepare themselves for the “civil war” they see coming). To refer again to the insights of African-American theologian Hubert Locke, what is involved with the fascist movement in this country is not just some abstract battle for the “hearts and minds” of people but a deadly serious struggle for power, with the aim—on the part particularly of the Christian fundamentalist driving force of this fascism—of “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.”4

This is why the commonly propagated notion that what has given rise to the sharp polarization in this country, and the madness associated with Trump, is a “departure from civility,” or more specifically that it flows from a failure on the part of educated middle class “liberals” to communicate with and try to understand the views of people in the “heartland”—all this is not only completely erroneous but actually a dangerous delusion. Writing a little more than 20 years ago, in her book Mobilizing Resentment, based on her extensive investigation into the right-wing movement in this country, Jean Hardisty recounts how, even where her efforts to engage in civil and friendly conversation with people of this kind would initially be returned with a certain superficial kindliness, as the conversation progressed she would repeatedly be subjected to the “brutal intolerance” that would come to the fore on the part of these right-wingers. As she graphically puts it: “when I give rightists the benefit of the doubt, out of respect for their right to their own worldview, they reward me every time with a kick in the teeth.” She sums up that what we are dealing with is

a well-financed, well-coordinated, savvy movement that has developed brilliant techniques of manipulation and has captured and molded a hospitable moment in history. The right’s quest for political power has become a frightening reality.5

And things have only gotten worse, and the danger this poses even greater, in the 20 or so years since Hardisty wrote this.

In very immediate terms, the outlook and methods as well as the priorities of the fascists, as concentrated in the Trump/Pence regime—with the appointment of the anti-scientific Pence to head government efforts around COVID-19; Trump’s initial denial of the scope and danger posed by this virus and his continuing lies about this; his gross American chauvinism, pitting this country against the rest of the world; his repeated tendency to recklessly deny medical science and ignore the recommendations of medical experts where it runs counter to his own narrowly conceived and dangerously shortsighted interests and objectives; and more—all this amplifies and fortifies the barriers that the “normal functioning” of the capitalist-imperialist system places in the way of a systematic and coordinated approach to combating the coronavirus. At the same time, there is the question of whether Trump will actually recognize the results of the election in November if (even in the electoral college count, as well as in the popular vote) he is not the winner—or whether there will even be an election, since it is not unthinkable that Trump would “delay” (or even outright cancel) the election, declaring that in the context of the coronavirus crisis it is too dangerous to have an election!

All this must be resisted and overcome to the greatest extent possible, while at the same time recognizing that it will require a radical transformation of society, and ultimately the world as a whole, to remove the powerful restraints that this system places on human beings and their ability to act in common to confront and transform the necessity they face, in an ongoing way and acutely so in times of crisis.

Whatever happens in regard to the elections that are scheduled to be held this November, and however the coronavirus crisis is resolved—or if it is not really resolved but becomes part of “cascading crises,” with one crisis leading to another... and another—there will be no returning to some idealized notion of “normalcy.” And, while there is certainly a legitimate and positive desire on the part of people everywhere to get beyond the scourge of this virus, taking into account what is the actual situation for the masses of humanity under the “normal” domination of this system, no one should desire a return to the “normalcy” dictated by the capitalist-imperialist system.

Underlying the immediate crisis, and the danger posed by the Trump/Pence regime and its fanatical fascist “base,” there is the more fundamental reality of the capitalist-imperialist system and the consequences of allowing this system to continue to dominate the world and determine the conditions of the masses of humanity and indeed the very fate of humanity itself. This crisis with the coronavirus has brought into sharp relief the reality that the capitalist system is not simply out of step with but is in fundamental conflict with, and a direct obstacle to, meeting the needs of the masses of humanity. Even as the capitalists and governments representing their interests have been forced to take certain emergency steps that in some ways run counter to the inherent dynamics of their system (such as massive intervention by the government in the functioning of the economy), the ways in which this system constitutes an obstacle to dealing with this crisis continue to assert themselves—including not only such perverse actions as the hoarding by some of vital medical and other supplies, in order to drive up the price, but also the fact that the creation of wealth under this system proceeds on the basis of ruthless exploitation and the impoverishment of masses of people throughout the world, while even in the “wealthier” countries there is significant poverty and large parts of the population live paycheck-to-paycheck and are only one serious crisis away from disaster; the ongoing rivalry between different capitalists (or associations of capital), with their private ownership of the means of production (land, raw materials, technology, factories and other structures) and private, competitive accumulation of wealth acts as a hindrance to necessary cooperation and the production of things that may be urgently needed but are not productive of private profit—and the whole ideology of advancing one’s interests at the expense of others, the individualism that is fostered by this system and is promoted to an extreme currently in this country, runs counter to and undermines inclinations toward cooperation and, yes, sacrifice for the greater good. Despite the dedicated efforts of many well-meaning people, even if the immediate crisis with the coronavirus is resolved, this will be done on the basis of intensifying the contradictions built into this system and the suffering of the masses of humanity who are already exploited and oppressed under this system.

All of this stands in sharp contrast with what is needed to deal in a truly meaningful way with crises like that occasioned by the coronavirus, and to meet the fundamental needs of humanity on an ongoing basis. It stands in sharp contrast to the socialist system envisioned in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, where there is social, not private, ownership of the means of production, social wealth is produced through cooperation not exploitation and is increasingly distributed in accordance with the needs of the people, not those of competing capitalists, and there is a government that represents and is geared to meeting the fundamental interests of humanity, and promotes that outlook among the people and involves them in the process of governance toward that end—not a government that is an extension of and can only represent the demands and dynamics of capital, with all the anarchy and ruthless exploitation that involves, within particular countries and on an international scale.6

Beyond the borders of any particular country, there is the great importance and potentially very positive role and impact of internationalism, which can only be really and fully realized with the overcoming of the barriers erected to international unity and cooperation by the workings of the capitalist-imperialist system—which is international in its scope of operations (that is, its exploitation) but consists of competing capitalists and rival capitalist states.7

Overcoming all this can be—and can only be—accomplished through the communist revolution and the increasing establishment of socialist countries in the world, proceeding on an internationalist basis and carrying out the economic, social and political transformations, as well as transformations in the ways of thinking and culture of the people, that will enable humanity to leap beyond the constraints and the terrible consequences which are imposed by the “normal” functioning of the capitalist-imperialist system and are greatly intensified in situations of crisis. This unprecedented revolution will make it possible for people to engage reality, and to confront crises, in a truly cooperative way as members of a world community of freely associating human beings, not separated and pitted against each other by divisions of country, class, nationality (or “race”), gender and other oppressive relations.

 


1. Materials posted at revcom.us, including communiqués from the revolutionary communists (revcoms) and the interview with Lenny Wolff on the Michael Slate radio show, speak to how this dynamic is already being expressed in this current crisis.  [back]

2. Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make RevolutionThe text and video of this speech by Bob Avakian are available at revcom.us.  [back]

3. THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! In The Name of Humanity We REFUSE To Accept a Fascist America, A Better World IS Possible. Video of this speech by Bob Avakian is available at revcom.us.  [back]

4. Reflections on Pacific School of Religion's Response to the Religious Right, by Dr. Hubert Locke, also available at revcom.us.  [back]

5. Jean Hardisty, Mobilizing Resentment, Conservative Resurgence From The John Birch Society To The Promise Keepers, Beacon Press Books, 1999, pp. 5, 6, 8.  [back]

6. The Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, authored by Bob Avakian, is available at revcom.us.  [back]

7. In the section “Globalization, the Nationality of Capital, and the Imperialist Nation‑State,” in Notes on Political Economy: Our Analysis of the 1980s, Issues of Methodology, and The Current World Situationpublished by the Revolutionary Communist Party (available online at revcom.us), there is an analysis of this major contradiction in the world today:

In the imperialist era, the circuits of capital become internationalized—and accumulation grows ever more global in reach and process. But imperialist capital remains anchored to national markets and national state formations....

In short, the anarchy bound up with global processes of capitalist development creates new problems of "control." The contradiction between internationalized accumulation and the national character of capital, far from being transcended, is intensified.

As “Notes” further states:

At the same time, capital requires an apparatus (the imperialist state) and the military wherewithal (which means a military industry) to secure the international environment within which it can globally thrive.  [back]

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

See also:

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

by Dr. Hubert Locke

Reposted October 7, 2019. Originally posted January 29, 2006

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